Kale

Kale, kale, bo bell, banana nana fo fell, fee fi fo fell – kaaallee. This leafy green can make some mouths drool and others afraid to come to the dinner table. Obviously, for Becky and I, it is the former (ya know, since we named our blog after it and all). It is not just the taste that gets us so excited to eat kale, it is also all the nutrients packed in it. This post is only going to go over the basic nutritional benefits of kale, but believe me, there are so much more than what is listed here. For starters, just one cup of kale contains enough vitamin K, A and C for the entire day. JUST ONE CUP (gasp).

But what do all of these vitamins do for you and why is kale so important? Great questions! We covered antioxidants in some of our previous posts, but I can’t stress how important they are for daily intake. Every day our body undergoes stress and this stress creates free radicals. Whenever I picture free radicals in my head I see little hooligans with California surfer dude accents, beating up my cells while saying “radical dude”. Vitamin C and Vitamin A are both powerful antioxidants that have the power to fight against those California hooligans, so eating kale regularly can help keep you from getting sick, prevent cancer, and keep you looking and feeling young. Vitamin K is an important fat-soluble vitamin that helps with blood clotting. I’m sure you are wondering why blood clotting would be a good thing, and yes many times we want to avoid clots within our cardiovascular system, but the fact is our body still needs to be able to make clots when necessary. All those tiny knicks from shaving or bruises you get from running into the end of the bed in the middle of the night require Vitamin K to heal up nicely.

Something that I learned more recently is that kale contains a tiny bit of fat. In general, vegetables have pretty minimal fat contents, so I never would have imagined that it could be another one of kale’s amazing health benefits. The reason why the fat content in kale is so special is the ratio between omega-3s and omega-6s. A western diet typically contains an omega-6:omega-3 ratio of 15:1 to 16.7:1, but the recommended ratio is 1:1. Kale has the exact ratio of omega-3s to omega-6s recommended to achieve ultimate health and keeping a balanced ratio can help fight inflammation, which is suspected to be the main cause of the majority of diseases. Kale is also a great source of fiber, a key component in keeping your bowels regular and your heart healthy!

Cooking kale can be tricky and I think that is why many people don’t find it enjoyable. One of the most common complaints I hear is how long it takes to eat kale because of its hard to chew center, but the easy fix to this is removing the center before using kale in recipes. Experimenting with new vegetables can be tons of fun, so try to include it in several different recipes until you find what you like. I love to include kale in almost every soup I make and I also love to chop it up really fine and include it in salads. Check out our recipe page for tasty kale recipes and share some of your favorite recipes in the comments!

Spicy Tuna Cucumber Roll

Spring is just around the corner – I can smell it, guys. When the flowers start to bloom something inside of me changes and I stop craving carb heavy meals. Instead, I crave fresh, crisp meals. This simple (and cheap) recipes is one of my favorites to eat and to look at. The colors and textures of these cucumber rolls are so refreshing – just look at it!!

Recipe: Approximately 16 rolls.

Ingredients:
6 Ounces Chunk Light Tuna in Water
2 – 3 Cucumbers
4 – 6 Carrots
1/2 – 1 Bunch Asparagus
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil Mayonnaise
1 Teaspoon Sriracha
Toothpicks

  1. Prepare asparagus by snapping off the tough ends and blanching remaining portion in boiling water for 2 minutes.
  2. Peel and julienne cut the carrots.
  3. Cut the ends off of the cucumber and use a mandoline or cheese slicer to cut the cucumber into thin strips.
  4. Drain canned tuna and place in a small bowl. Mix in mayo and sriracha.
  5. Lay the cucumber slices flat, fill with tuna, carrots, and asparagus, and roll. Place a single toothpick through the roll to keep it together.
  6. Enjoy!

If rolling this recipe seems daunting, simply chop all the ingredients and combine to make a very tasty tuna salad!

4-7-8 Breathing During Labor

When I was interning to become a Dietitian I worked very closely with an integrative care doctor for several weeks. She told me about Dr. Weils’ 4-7-8 breathing technique, and to say this changed my life would be an understatement. I have always been a very anxious person – I have a running to-do list in my brain at all times and if one or two items are constantly unchecked I start to panic. Instead of asking for help I used to start lashing out. I noticed that I was yelling at my family pretty frequently, having a hard time falling asleep, and crying way too often. SO, once a night I would settle myself down and try 4-7-8 breathing before drifting off to sleep. Occasionally I would also practice in the car, in the shower, while cooking or just sitting around. Within weeks I noticed a significant difference in my approach to dealing with anxiety. I still get nervous when my to-do list is stacking up, but instead of lashing out, I breathe and I kid you not there is calm. My family actually helps me more because I’m not yelling at them (shocker), I fall asleep within 5 minutes of laying down, and I honestly don’t remember the last time I cried.

The way that 4-7-8 breathing works is actually pretty interesting. I’m sure you have heard of the fight or flight response us humans have to deal with – when we are under stress our body enters into panic mode (AKA fight or flight) and as a part of this, our breath gets very shallow, which results in a decrease of oxygen pulsing through our body. As you can imagine, it is pretty hard to function if you are lacking oxygen. Having chronic stress can actually increase carbon dioxide in the body and lead to oxidative stress, inflammation, and acidification of the body, which is a deadly combination over time. So counting to four while breathing in will allow you to ensure adequate oxygen is being taken in; holding your breath for 7 seconds allows time for your body to absorb as much oxygen as possible; exhaling for 8 seconds allows your body to release as much carbon dioxide as possible. The increase in oxygen will also cause the brain to release GABA – a neurotransmitter that inhibits other neurotransmitters responsible for fight or flight so your body can slowly return to normal or calm. MAGIC!

So let’s combine this with labor – one of the most stressful times in your life. When a contraction is starting it is hard not to panic – your mind is running wild (How long is this one going to last? How bad could it get? Is this the peak? Nope. Is this the peak? Is this almost over? Oh my word.) When you start to become stressed during your labor, contractions actually slow down and labor can take even longer because basically, it is an evil world we live in. Using 4-7-8 breathing at the start of a contraction may help prevent becoming stressed and shorten labor. This is just a theory and I am no expert, but I will say that it seemed to help tremendously when I had Edie Baby. Practicing 4-7-8 breathing before you go into labor is very important. The more you practice, the more you will have control over your bodies stress responses!

 

Breathe.

Kiss Him, He’s Irish Ice Cream Float

Is that not the right saying? Oh, whoops. Becky and I may not be Irish, but I have been lucky enough to nail one down with my mister (Patient Zero). Every year we get to celebrate his red-bearded, sweater wearing, beer drinking heritage and this year we are doing it big with this majestic and delicious beverage. It may look like someone put planet earth in a cup, but it tastes just like a creamsicle and this Welsch/English girl is into it. Have a happy St. Patrick’s Day, folks and be safe!!!

Recipe: Makes one drink.

Ingredients:
1 Cup Orange Juice
1 Shot Gin
1 Shot Blue Curacao
2 to 3 Scoops of Vanilla Ice Creams

  1. Mix all the ingredients. Stir. Drink. Enjoy!

Matcha Matcha Matcha

There could not possibly be a better superfood to focus on in the month of March than matcha. The vibrant green color screams St. Patrick’s Day and the name itself sounds eerily like March – so in my eyes, they were made for each other.

When I was a teenager I worked at a huge health food supermarket and I stumbled upon the magic powder that is Matcha. Obviously, the health benefits of green tea have been widely known for years, so what makes Matcha so magical? I’m glad you asked because I could go for days!

For starters, matcha has an unbelievable amount of antioxidants. When you brew a cup of normal green tea the water can only extract a portion of the antioxidants housed in the tea leaves, so tons of antioxidants are thrown in the trash with the tea bag. Matcha powder, on the other hand, is produced by grounding the entire tea leaf, so a serving of matcha tea houses the same antioxidant power as 10 cups of brewed green tea! In fact, the ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) for matcha is 1573 units per gram which outshines many vegetables, fruits, nuts, and other Superfoods. As you may remember, antioxidants are a great defense for the body against illnesses and can even help prevent aging and chronic diseases like cancer. One type of antioxidant that matcha contains, known as catechin EGCg, is known specifically for its anticancer properties. Catechin EGCg fights body damaging free radicals formed from UV rays, radiation, pollution, and other chemicals.

Matcha also contains L-theanine, a special amino acid that has the capability to cross the blood-brain barrier. Because of this property, L-theanine has the potential ability to decrease mental and physical stress and boost mood and cognitive performance. Matcha is believed to contain almost 5 times the amount of L-theanine found in other common teas.

To round out that awesome magic housed in matcha we present you with caffeine! I can’t even pretend that I could make it through a day without ingesting some form of caffeine – two children and the bags under my eyes are a dead giveaway. Luckily for me (and everyone I come in contact with), matcha contains about twice the amount of caffeine found in other teas, but because of the calming effects of L-theanine, matcha will not leave you feeling jittery like a cup of several cups of coffee. In fact, for years Buddhist monks have used matcha green tea to stay awake and alert for long periods (we are talking days here) of meditation.

So matcha can help you stay awake, calm you down, make you smarter, help you lose weight, prevent you from getting sick, ward off cancer, detoxify your body, and lower cholesterol and blood sugar (which I didn’t even get to, I know!). But, does it taste good? YES! Matcha powder has the earthy taste that most green teas have but it has a surprising sweetness to it. So what are you waiting for, whip up this simple recipe and ENJOY!

Vanilla Matcha Green Tea Latte
1 teaspoon matcha green tea powder
1/2 cup water
1 cup vanilla soy milk
1 teaspoon honey/maple syrup/agave

  1. Bring water to a simmer and remove from heat. Whisk in matcha green tea powder and sweetener.
  2. Warm soy milk and add to tea mixture. Mmmmm. Yum.