Food for Thought: The 9 R’s of Managing a Healthy Weight

As seen in Haddam-Killingworth News

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So by now you’ve likely seen oodles of ads, Facebook posts, and other promotions to shed those extra pounds. Everyone seems to have a shtick on how to lose weight… via the latest fad diet, a super cleanse, a magic pill, or one heck of a powerful detox. The problem I see with most of these “solutions” to weight loss is that they are usually temporary – the weight comes off and then creeps back on over time. Some like to call this the “yo-yo” effect!

To me the answer is quite clear, but for many not always easy. I find that most people know what they need to do, but are still seeking that quick fix. It may take some effort to make some important lifestyle changes, but it is so worth it in the long run. Below I share some of what I have learned through the years in my own health journey and Integrative Nutrition Health education. I broke it into the 9 R’s of managing a healthy weight.

I’m not promoting a product or selling a service. I’m sharing what I know to support your journey to better health! Before beginning any changes in your diet or exercise routines, it is best to consult your physician.

RELATIONSHIP

Before setting out on a path to shed those pounds, it is critical for some to explore their relationship with food. I know there are health coaches out there who specialize in this area of nutrition, so if you have struggled with this, reach out to an expert and get some help or all of your efforts will be for nothing. You may not even realize you have a relationship issue with food. One way to discover this is either working with someone who will ask the right questions, or keeping a food/mood journal. Without changing how you eat, keep a log of what you ate and when, along with how you were feeling before you ate and your mood after eating. You may see a trend that will help you change a stubborn habit or pattern of eating. Don’t go it alone – get some support!

RESTORE

The “GUT”, your microbiome, plays a huge role in managing your weight. Think of your gut like a garden. It needs to be well nourished with a balance of good & bad bacteria, along with a healthy level of yeast. Tend to your gut, weeding out the bad stuff and nourishing it with the good stuff, including lots of clean filtered water. When your gut is out of balance, you may not be absorbing nutrients properly, or you may feel overly bloated. Poor digestion can lead to an assortment of health issues and inflammation throughout the body. Not only do we need to feed our gut good food, we may need to restore good gut flora from bad eating habits. Ask your physician about a high quality prebiotic/probiotic. Consider eating more fermented vegetables and reducing pre-packaged foods filled with sugars and unhealthy fats. Be sure to CHEW, CHEW, CHEW – your stomach doesn’t have teeth! Maybe you need a little more help than others and would benefit from a good digestive enzyme or bitters. Bottom line, a healthy gut means a healthy body!

ROUTINE

Your day to day routines can make or break your efforts to maintaining a healthy weight. It is critical to get a good night’s sleep. When we start our day without a good night’s sleep we tend to reach for garbage food in the morning, which starts a trend for how the day will progress.  If you are working full time, or simply have a hectic schedule, planning ahead is key. Set aside a couple of hours, two days a week to plan and prepare some healthy eats or some grab & go snacks. This is especially important for those who travel. If you know there are certain times during the day, or evening that you want to reach for that unhealthy snack, either have a substitute ready to rock, or make a plan at that time to call a friend, take a walk, or do something special just for you. Avoid eating when you are feeling stressed and do your best to eat your meals in a delightful setting, with gratitude. Yes, it’s a bit of work, but YOU ARE WORTH IT!

REJUVINATE

Get your engine running and get moving! Start from where you are and take small steps to get your motor running. I personally love to walk and dance! If getting out and moving is something you have not done in a while, take it slow. Start by walking ten minutes, twice a day and increase each week as you feel comfortable. Don’t go from zero to a five-mile marathon or one of those extreme exercise programs – this is when folks get hurt! If you are unable to walk, then talk to your physician about physical therapy and start with simple movements from sitting or lying in bed. Even good digestion depends on getting yourself moving! So grab a friend and set some time to do it together, keeping you and them accountable to rejuvenate your entire system.

RESET

I mentioned earlier that you may need some extra support if you are dealing with a stubborn weight issue and although I’m not one for fad diets, there are some wonderful programs out there. Do your homework, ask questions and see if it is right for you. Two bricks and mortar places that I am aware of and feel confident in their approach is Compass Weight Loss in CT and The Hippocrates Health Institute in West Palm Beach FL. My favorite authors who support managing a healthy weight are Donna Gates, Body Ecology; Dr Mark Hyman; Dr. David Katz; and Kris Carr. They are all very different, so explore their websites and see what feels right for you. I always say, no one diet is right for every person, so find what will work for you to reset your system and get you on track to a healthier way of living.

REDUCE

This may sound simple, but it can have a great effect on your efforts to lose, or gain weight. Reduce the pre-packaged foods that have all the hidden sugars, unhealthy fats, food dyes and preservatives and replace them with more whole, plant based foods. The more you add in the good, the more you crowd out the bad. Many diets encourage you to reduce your portions of food, or to cut out an entire food group, but if you have a plate filled with whole foods, especially leafy greens and other low starch veggies, you can eat till the cows come home! Take the time to makeover your pantry and fridge and get rid of the junk that may be tempting you and replace it with healthier options.

RESTOCK

Restock your pantry and fridge with whole foods. When it comes to veggies, I like to get them locally and preferably organic so they are in season and packed with the most nutrients. For grains, I go for the less refined, like brown rice, quinoa, buckwheat, amaranth, and sprouted whole wheat. My go-to fats are cold pressed organic olive oil, avocado oil, organic sesame oil, and on occasion coconut oil. I steer clear of common sweeteners and never eat artificial ones. Instead, I use raw honey, pure maple syrup, coconut palm sugar, and organic stevia in moderation. I keep organic nuts and seeds on hand for a healthy, protein rich snack. I am a big fan of legumes for a high protein, low fat addition to my meals. For those meat eaters, I suggest getting free range, organic options and keeping the portion size super small, making it your “side-dish.” Choose low glycemic fruits like berries & grapefruits and save the moderate and sweeter fruits for treats. Be sure to spice things up! There is no reason for healthy foods to taste bland. Spices have many medicinal qualities and can even improve gut health, so try something new and you may just be surprised.

REMEMBER

Remember, you are only human, so don’t play the guilt card when you enjoy something not on your plan. It is what you do 80-90% of the time that counts. Having an occasional goodie when you are out and about will not sabotage your hard work, as long as it’s not a daily routine. I love a good cookie, so rather than having a store bought version, I make a batch of my re-designed chocolate chip cookies and freeze them for my go to cookie fix. Feel free to email me at connect@roots2wellness.com if you would like the recipe.

RESTRICTIVE

Diets that are too restrictive for too long are the worst! This is what I call the rebound effect. If something is too restrictive, then you will not stick with it. I am not one for diets at all… I just enjoy good food that is good for me! Dr. Katz once said “Love food that loves you back” and that has been my go to motto, most of the time…

Wishing a joyous and healthy New Year!

Janet E. Verney is an Author, Integrative Nutrition Health Coach, Wellness Designer, and Healthy Food Chef who resides in Higganum and loves helping others to “health-up” their lives!  Have a burning health or nutrition question, write to Janet at connect@roots2wellness.com. To learn more, visit her website at roots2wellness.com. 

Janet Verney
Food for Thought: Gifts From The Kitchen

As seen in Haddam-Killingworth News

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Tis the season for some holiday treats! Of course in my kitchen, I like to keep things a bit healthier, so here are a few of my go to recipes, made with lots of love, to gift at the holidays! You’ll notice I’m a fan of avocado oil. This healthy fat is great for baking as it can tolerate heat better than most and it has so many health benefits. Check out this article to learn more: https://draxe.com/avocado-oil/

Once you have created your healthy treats, it’s time to think about how to package them. I buy inexpensive glass jars and take-out-boxes for this purpose. I embellish them with fabric, bows, stickers and other assorted fun! Tying cinnamon sticks with twine to the outer packaging makes for a delightful presentation and it smells divine! Most of all, have fun, get creative, and give a gift of love.

 

Half Baked Granola

Lightly toasting the oats with the dried fruits, the maple syrup, and the spices gives the granola such wonderful flavor. I keep the remaining ingredients in their raw state to preserve the nutrients, making this granola one of my favorite superfoods!

·       ½ Cup avocado oil

·       1 Cup pure maple syrup

·       1 Tbs. vanilla extract

·       1 Tbs. pumpkin pie spice (1-tsp. cinnamon, 1/2 -tsp. nutmeg & ginger, & ½-tsp. allspice & cloves)

·       4 Cups GF, organic rolled oats

·       1 cup mixed dried fruits of choice

·       Raw Additions

·       2 Tbs. cacoa nibs

·       2 Tbs. hemp hearts

·       2 Tbs. chia seeds

·       1 Tbs raw vegan protein powder (SunWarrior)

·       1 Tbs maca powder (optional)

·       1 Cup organic raw nuts & seeds

 

In a large bowl, whisk the first four ingredients. Toss in the oats and dried fruit and stir until well coated. Spread on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes. Stir half way through baking and watch carefully not to burn.

In the same large bowl, mix all the raw food ingredients while the oat mix is baking. While still warm, add the oat mix to the raw food mix and stir well. Allow to cool and store in glass Mason jars. Serve with your favorite nut milk or use as a topping to your favorite dairy free ice-cream or yogurt. You can also add crystalized ginger and/or fresh berries or fruit.

 

Acorn Truffles

These are so simple, fun to create, delicious, and make an adorable gift packaged in a little take-out box.

·       12 meljoon dates, cut in half and pitted

·       Organic Almond butter

·       1 bar organic dark chocolate

·       Crushed almonds

Cut the dates in half, making a little cup out of each half. Stuff with almond butter. Melt the dark chocolate and dip the flat end into the chocolate, then dip into a bowl of crushed almonds. Set on a cookie sheet lined with wax paper and place in the fridge until solid. Package into cute take-out-boxes.

 

Gingerbread Bites

My one bowl, health’d-up version of this old holiday classic, is not only easy, it is deliciously healthy and allergy friendly.

Wisk the following together:

·       1 Tbls. Psyllium husk (an Indian herb available in health food stores or on Amazon)

·       ¼ cup water

·       1 Tbls. Avocado oil

Add:

·       1 cup Coconut Palm Sugar

·       ½ cup Molasses

·       1 cup Avocado oil

·       ¾ tsp. sea salt

·       1 Tbls. Baking soda

·       1 tsp. cinnamon

·       1 tsp. allspice

·       1 tsp. ginger

·       1 tsp cloves

·       3-4 cups loosely packed chickpea/garbanzo bean flour

The dough should be stiff. You can roll it in one inch balls, then flatten with the bottom of a glass, or roll it between two sheets of parchment paper to use cookie cutters. Embellish, if desired with raisins, then bake at 350 degrees, on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, for 8-9 minutes. Makes about 24 cookies.

 

Janet E. Verney is an Author, Integrative Nutrition Health Coach, Wellness Designer, and Healthy Food Chef who resides in Higganum and loves helping others to “health-up” their lives!  Have a burning health or nutrition question, write to Janet at connect@roots2wellness.com. To learn more, visit her website at roots2wellness.com. 

Janet Verney
Food for Thought: A Thankfully Healthful Feast
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As seen in Haddam-Killingworth Now

I adore the flavors of fall, but I don’t like feeling “stuffed” by a meal that is filled with too many carbs and sugars. My favorite aspect of Thanksgiving is being with family and friends, counting my many blessings, and of course watching the Macy’s Day Parade!

I like to keep it simple and pre-prepare dishes that I can just throw in the oven the day of the big event. This allows me, as the chief cook (and bottle washer) to spend time visiting with my family and friends. Below are three health’d-up recipes that I love this time of year and that won’t keep you in the kitchen all day.

If you are setting the table for a sit down dinner, consider adding a little glass or small jar at each place setting with the guest’s names. Give each person a piece of paper for the number of guests at your event. Encourage them to write something positive about each person and to put it in their jar. It could be as simple as complimenting the sweater they are wearing or something more in depth about how special they are. They can be read outload at the beginning of the meal and shared or kept private. This is a wonderful way to honor the Thanksgiving Feast and each other!

In my Recipes ReDesigned below, I have used healthier fats, kept everything gluten free, reduced the sugar content, and made them easy to prepare. Whenever possible, please use organic ingredients!

I hope you enjoy these health’d-up dishes and I encourage you to send me some of your favorite recipes that you would like see a healthier makeover. You can submit them to connect@roots2wellness.com

The Other Stuffing

Cauliflower is such a versatile vegetable with so many health benefits. This recipe is a superfood dish that won’t spike your blood sugar and yet is tastes like this old fashioned favorite. This recipe is not for stuffing the bird though, sorry.

  • 3 Tbs. Olive oil

  • 1 tsp. poultry seasoning

  • ½ tsp. Italian herbs

  • 1 tsp. sea salt

  • 1 small onion, chopped

  • 4 stalks celery, chopped

  • 1 head cauliflower, chopped into small bite sized chunks

Gently heat the olive oil and the spices in a sauté pan on med/low. Add the onion and celery and simmer. Stir in the chopped cauliflower and toss on med/high heat until slightly brown and tender. You may need to add a small amount of water to help steam the cauliflower. Check for taste and add more seasoning as desired. Turn into an olive oil greased, oven proof dish. Cool, then cover and place in fridge until ready to serve.  When ready to serve, leave at room temp for 1 hour, then bake at 350 for 30 minutes.

Special Note of Recognition:  Cauliflower is a member of the cruciferous vegetable family, which is known for its cancer fighting properties. It is a terrific anti-inflammatory and is full of antioxidants.  It is rich in vitamins, supports digestion, and is a natural detoxifier to the body!

Simple Sweet Taters

Another powerhouse food that often gets criminalized with heavy fats and way too much sugar. Here is my favorite go to sweet potato recipe that keeps it simple and relatively healthy!

  • ¼ cup avocado oil

  • ½ cup fruit juice sweetened apricot jam

  • 2 Tbs. pure maple syrup

  • 1 Tbs. of orange liquor or fresh orange juice.

  • ½ tsp. sea salt

  • A pinch of cloves & allspice

  • 4-6 organic sweet potatoes

Wisk all of the above ingredients, except the sweet potatoes, in a shallow casserole dish and spread it evenly in the pan. Remove the tips at both ends of the sweet potatoes. Keeping the skins on, wash and cut the sweet potatoes into one inch round disks. Dip one side into the mixture, then turn over to coat the other side. Cover and place in fridge until ready to serve. When ready to serve, leave at room temp for 1 hour, then bake at 400 for 40-50 minutes, or until tender, turning once half way through baking.

Apple Crisp

I grew up in a Pennsylvania Dutch home where apple pie was often served for dinner… I even ate it for breakfast with warm milk and a teaspoon of sugar! I still love this fall favorite, but the gluten and all the refined sugar just trigger inflammation for me, so here is one of my easy, go to recipes to get my apple fix.

FILLING:

  • ¼ cup pure maple syrup

  • ½ lemon, juiced

  • 1 Tbs. GF flour

  • 1 tsp. cinnamon

  • ½ tsp. nutmeg

  • 1 pinch sea salt

  • 4 cups of sliced apples

TOPPING:

  • ¼ cup avocado oil

  • ¼ cup pure maple syrup

  • 1 Tbs. pure vanilla extract

  • 1 pinch of clove

  • 1 tsp. cinnamon

  • ½ tsp. nutmeg

  • 1 pinch sea salt

  • 2 cups organic almond flour

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. For the filling, whisk all ingredients in a large bowl, except the apples. Add the fruit and toss to coat. Pour into a 9” baking pan.

For the topping, using the same large bowl, whisk all the liquid ingredients, adding the spices and salt. Add in the almond flour and mix in with a fork until chunky bits form. Crumble it over the fruit mixture. Cover with parchment paper, bake for 30 minutes, remove parchment and bake for 10-15 minutes, or until bubbly and brown.

Janet E. Verney is an Author, Integrative Nutrition Health Coach, Wellness Designer, and Healthy Food Chef who resides in Higganum and loves helping others to “health-up” their lives!  Have a burning health or nutrition question, write to Janet at connect@roots2wellness.com. To learn more, visit her website at roots2wellness.com. 

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Janet Verney
Food for Thought: You’re Sweet Enough!
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Posted on October 11, 2018 in Haddam-Killingworth Now

Are you feeling fatigued and tired all the time? Do you suffer from chronic headaches? Are you frustrated with your weight? Do you battle mild anxiety, depression, or chronic mood swings? Are you catching colds too often? Oh the list could go on… Much of this could be from what I call the sugar blues!

Did you know that when too much sugar is in the blood it gets all sticky and can cause a whole host of issues with blood vessels, leading to heart disease, an increase in inflammation, and type 2 diabetes? Well, the good news is so much of this can be reversed and prevented!

The “simple” solution is to decrease the amount of sugar and refined carbohydrates you eat, but we all know that can be “not so simple” to do, especially when those cravings hit! Here is another reason it can be hard to do – sugar is a sneaky ingredient and is disguised by more than 60 different names hiding in most pre-packaged foods. Many of these sugars have names that you may not recognize as sugar when reading food labels. Did you know that most of us consume about 30 teaspoons of sugar every day? That’s about 100 pounds a year! Yikes that’s a lot of sugar. No wonder so many of us are getting sick.

With the holiday season creeping up on us, this is a great time to make some changes and plan for success. I can already hear you saying “I’ll get back on track after the holidays and make it my New Year’s resolution.” We all know how that goes! So let’s switch it up and take control of your blood sugar and make it your best holiday season ever! Keep in mind, it is not about depriving yourself; it is about taking some small steps, one at a time, and crowding out what is making you feel sick.

Here is a road map to take charge of your blood sugar and curb those cravings. Start by focusing on eating a whole food diet (add in lots of veggies at every meal), eat less pre-packaged foods (be a label reader and look for that pesky sugar), ditch the soda and other sugary drinks, decrease alcohol consumption, eliminate high fructose corn syrup and refined white sugar, and replace refined carbohydrates with whole grains. Eliminate artificial sweeteners like aspartame, NutraSweet, and Splenda – many have well-recognized neurotoxins and can cause a host of other issues. I have heard these artificial sweeteners have actually been linked to weight gain making you want to eat more food. Add in lean protein and high quality fats like avocado and olive oil.  Eat your veggies first to support optimal digestion. Nibble on a small handful of organic nuts or seeds as an afternoon pick-me-up. All of this is a great start to reducing blood sugar and getting yourself on track to better health.

Sweet is part of life and should be enjoyed in moderation. Choosing healthier options is a great way “to have your cake and eat it too.” Try replacing sweet treats with whole fruits (not juiced). The fiber in the fruit slows down the spike in blood sugar. For optimal digestion, fruit it is best when eaten alone.

Some of my favorite sweeteners, with the most nutritional value, include: raw honey, pure maple syrup, brown rice syrup, dates, coconut sugar, yacon syrup, and blackstrap molasses. These sweeteners will raise blood sugar, but are better choices when used in moderation. I will often change up a recipe, replacing an overly refined sugar with one of the above and use much less, making it less sweet. Not to worry, your taste buds will adjust in time!

One of the best natural, plant-based sweeteners out there is stevia. I especially like the liquid version called Stevita. It is less refined and it is organic. The best part of Stevita is that it does not raise blood sugar and you need very little of it to make something sweet. I use it in my homemade lemonade, or a drop or two in my herbal tea. Some don’t care for the taste of stevia, but I find over time you get used to it and may even come to like it.

Some other sweetener options that do not raise blood sugar include: xylitol, erythritol, and inulins, but these natural sugar alcohols can cause digestive issues for some. My favorite in this sweetener category is Lakanto, a combination of non-gmo erythritol and monk fruit. Lakanto is a great option for baking.

Remember, you’re sweet enough! Adding a bit of sweetness to life now and then is okay, but you’re doing yourself a disservice when over consuming it. Plan ahead and make a batch of something using a more nutritional sweetener and freeze it for an occasional snack. When attending those holiday gatherings, bring something to share made with less sugar and healthier options. After one month of ridding yourself of the excess sugar you will see some remarkable differences and when you taste something made with overly refined sugars you may make a funny scrunch face and realize what you haven’t been missing!

Here are a few of my go to sweet treats to keep on hand (I use mostly organic ingredients whenever possible):

Chocolate “sea-salt” Turtles

  • 6 large Medjool dates, cut in half the long way and pitted

  • 3 Tbs. melted dark chocolate, preferably 85% dark

  • 36 organic pecan pieces, whole or cut

  • Coarse sea salt

Place date halves, sticky side up, on a cookie sheet lined with wax paper. Place 6 pecan pieces on each date, strategically to look like a turtles head, tail, and four little feet. Spoon about ½ tablespoon of dark chocolate on each turtle, anchoring the pecans to the date. Sprinkle with coarse sea salt. Set in the refrigerator until set. They make a wonderful holiday or hostess gift. Great to have a batch in the refrigerator for when you just need something a little sweet and chocolaty.

Strawberry Banana Ice-cream

  • 2 bananas cut into chunks and frozen

  • 1 small bag of frozen organic strawberries

  • 1 can (BPA-free) coconut milk, refrigerated

  • 1 cup almond milk

  • 2 large Tbs. of raw honey or pure maple syrup if vegan

  • 1 Tbs. vanilla extract

  • 1 pinch sea salt

Place all ingredients in high-speed blender and start on low, then high until completely smooth. After blending you can add sliced fresh strawberries for texture if you like. Place all ingredients in an ice-cream maker and churn for 15-20 minutes, until thick and creamy. Serve immediately or transfer to a glass Pyrex container and freeze. Stir every couple of hours to keep smooth, or simply thaw for 15-20 minutes before serving.

Note – if you are using fresh ingredients that are not frozen, refrigerate after blending for 2 hours, before churning.

If you do not have an ice-cream maker, it is a wonderful investment to make whole food, clean, delicious ice-cream!

Very Berry Crisp

FILLING:

  • ¼ cup pure maple syrup

  • ½ lemon, juiced

  • 1 Tbs. avocado oil

  • 1 tsp. cinnamon

  • ½ tsp. nutmeg

  • 1 tsp. arrowroot powder

  • 1 pinch sea salt

  • 4 cups of your favorite berries

TOPPING:

  • ¼ cup avocado oil

  • ¼ cup pure maple syrup

  • 1 Tbs. pure vanilla extract

  • 1 pinch of clove

  • 1 tsp. cinnamon

  • ½ tsp. nutmeg

  • 1 pinch sea salt

  • 2 cups organic almond flour

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. For the filling, whisk all ingredients in a large bowl, except the berries. Add the fruit and toss to coat. Pour into a 9” baking pan.

For the topping, using the same large bowl, whisk all the liquid ingredients, adding the spices and salt. Add in the almond flour and mix in with a wooden spoon until chunky bits form. Crumble it over the fruit mixture. Cover with parchment paper, bake for 30 minutes, remove parchment and bake for 10-15 minutes, or until bubbly and brown.

Black Bean Brownies

  • 2 Tbs. water

  • 2 Tbs. flax meal

  • 3 Tbs. avocado oil

  • 1 Tbs. pure vanilla extract

  • ½ tsp. sea salt

  • ¾ cup raw cacao powder

  • ¾ cup coconut palm sugar

  • 1 can (BPA-free) black beans, rinsed

  • 1 tsp. baking soda

  • 1 tsp. baking powder

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place all ingredients, except baking soda & baking powder, in blender and blend until smooth. Add baking soda & baking powder and blend on low. Pour into greased baking dish or in muffin tins lined with paper baking cups. Bake for 20-30 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean. Completely cool before cutting

Janet Verney
Food for Thought: Is Gluten Free Right for Me?
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By now I’m sure you have heard the term Gluten-Free (GF), but what does this mean and is it right for you?

So what is gluten and who should avoid it? Gluten is a protein found in many grains, prepackaged foods and in many beauty products. For someone with Celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder, gluten can be lethal and must be completely avoided. I have friends with this challenging disease who cannot even use pots and pans that have been exposed to gluten, even after washing.

Although I do not have Celiac disease I personally follow a GF lifestyle. Some folks are sensitive to this gluten protein and if they have any underlying inflammation in the body, gluten can be one of the culprits. It is especially aggravating for those with digestive issues and joint inflammation.

If you don’t have Celiac disease, but are struggling with inflammation and/or digestive issues, you may want to try going GF, but first I would suggest looking at avoiding overly refined flours and sugars. I find it quite interesting that friends who cannot tolerate breads and pastries in the US, go to Europe and eat the breads and pastries without any upset. This furthers my belief that it may not be just the gluten, but the overly processed grains here in America.

I encourage my clients to eat 100% whole and/or sprouted grains, the less processed the better. To take it a step further, I ask them to try some of the ancient grains like quinoa, millet, amaranth, and buckwheat, which are all gluten free. Technically they are all seeds, not grains, but in most recipes they are used like you would a grain. You may want to try using one of these in your favorite rice dishes as a substitute. Yes, rice is GF, but it is a more starchy carbohydrate that will raise blood sugar and has been known for having traces of arsenic.

A word of caution when considering a GF lifestyle… don’t fall victim to all the overly, ultra-processed GF foods on the shelves of the supermarket. It is simply junk food in another form! Here is an example of a GF cookie, with the first ingredient being “SUGAR,” which all experts agree is the number one culprit for the deterioration of health in our culture. My next article will be about the sugar blues… stay tuned!  When it comes to reading labels on pre-packed foods, also consider the ingredients you cannot pronounce or if you do not know what it is – these are best to avoid and are typically preservatives or emulsifiers that can wreak havoc on your digestive system.

So let’s look at some great GF alternative flours. My two favorite, go-to for replacements are garbanzo beanalso known as besan flour in Asian markets, and organic almond flour. Local grocers carry the garbanzo bean and I get my organic almond flour from nuts.com. I create an assortment of baked goods with these flours and also use them to “bread” veggies and meats to bake.  Below are two of my all-star recipes.  Keep in mind that some folks have allergies to nuts so it is important to share with your guests that you have used a substitute to prevent anyone from consuming something they may be allergic to.

I hope you enjoy these recipes, and as always if you have questions, reach out to me at connect@roots2wellness.com

Chocolate Chip Cookies — Vegan, GF, Nut-free, Grain-free

Wisk in large bowl & allow to sit until thick:

  • 1 Tbsp. whole psyllium husk (this is an Indian herb you can purchase at a health food store

  • 1 Tbsp. Avocado oil

  • ¼ cup water

Add:

  • 1 Tbsp. vanilla,

  • ½ cup avocado oil

  • ½ cup coconut oil,

  • 1 ¾ cups coconut palm sugar,

  • ½ tsp. sea salt,

  • 1 tsp. baking soda,

  • 1 tsp. baking powder

  • Fold in 1 pkg. dark chocolate chips (I use Enjoy Life)

Stir in 3 cups chickpea flour until just blended.

Scoop by spoonfuls and press flat onto cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, bake at 325F for 8-10 minutes.

Best kept refrigerated or frozen (place on a cookie sheet and set in fridge until chips are solid, then place in container for storing).

Grain-Free Crackers/Crust

1 T ground chia seeds

  • 1/4 C water

  • 1 T olive oil

  • 1/4 t baking soda (non-aluminum)

  • 1/4 t pink sea salt

  • 1/2 C ground flax meal

  • 1 C ground almonds

  • Favorite spice blend

Whisk the chia seed with the water until it is “egg-like”.  Add oil, baking soda, and sea salt and whisk until well blended.  With a wooden spoon, stir in the flax meal and then the ground almonds.  Mix until dough forms.

Place dough between two pieces of parchment paper and roll flat.  Slide the dough that is between the parchment paper onto a large cookie sheet.  Sprinkle with the spice blend.  Bake at 350F for 15-20 minutes, or place in the dehydrator for 24-36 hours, or until crisp.

Can be used as a pizza crust or broken into small pieces for dipping or spreads.

Janet E. Verney is an author, Integrative Nutrition Health Coach, Wellness Designer, and healthy food chef who resides in Higganum and loves helping others to “health-up” their lives!  Have a burning health or nutrition question, write to Janet at connect@roots2wellness.com. To learn more, visit her website at roots2wellness.com

Photos of food by Janet. Photo of Janet by Studio Petronella. 

As seen on Haddam News Online.

 
Tami Reagor
Food for Thought: The Zucchini Invasion
 
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‘Tis the season for this wonderful veggie, but if you’re like me and have a garden full of it, it can be a challenge to reinvent it into another culinary creation!

I have to say that the many health benefits of this abundant vegetable make it worth the trouble. It is low in calories, has a high water content that is great for staying hydrated in the heat of the summer, and it has a good deal of vitamin C to help reduce inflammation and keep you healthy!  

When possible, buy organic or locally grown and keep the skins on – they are full of beta-carotene, which converts to vitamin A when consumed, keeping your eyes healthy and bright! In addition to the skin, be sure to try the zucchini blossoms as well, which also have their fair share of beta carotene.

Zucchini has to be one of the most versatile vegetables with its unassuming flavor, taking on the seasonings of your choice. Let’s explore a few ways to prepare this garden favorite.

  • I like a simple grilled zucchini. I slice it and then place it into a grilling basket, lined with parchment paper. I drizzle it with olive oil, add a sprig of fresh rosemary (dried is fine too), a sprinkle of sea salt and then grill to the desired consistency (about 15 minutes).
  • My favorite has to be spiralized zucchini, which creates long strands that are very much like pasta. The zucchini noodles can be eaten raw, or lightly steamed and served with your favorite sauce. I make my own crockpotted marina with tomatoes and herbs from my garden. If you don’t have a spiralizer, you can find them online for under $25. It is fun to do and kids just love to help!
  • Zucchini boats are a great option for the ones that hid in the garden and look more like a giant club. I cut them in half, the long way and scape out the overly large seeds. I bake them skin side up on a cookie sheet with a small amount of water until they are easily fork tender (about 30 minutes at 350) I make a quinoa/lentil (high protein) mix with some chili flavoring or a ginger gluten-free soy sauce mix and then stuff the zucchini boats. These can be made ahead and then re-heated with a drizzle of olive oil, a bit of crumbled cashew cheese (cashews ground with sea salt and a bit of garlic), or with your favorite asiago or parmesan cheese.

Make the most of this abundant veggie and enjoy all the wonderful health benefits! You may even consider the famous zucchini bread, but that’s for another day.

As seen on Haddam News Online.

 
 
Tami Reagor
Herbs & Olive Oil are Good for the Gut!
 
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Did you know that Herbs & Olive Oil are a win win for your GUT?

In this picture, I have fresh rosemary, sage, oregano, and thyme in a glass jar with some organic, extra virgin olive oil.

  • Rosemary supports poor digestion of fats and has some prebiotic properties.
  • Sage can reduce bloating and abdominal spasms. In olive oil it can help lower blood sugars.
  • Oregano is a powerful antioxidant, is anti-microbial and promotes healthy gut bacteria.
  • Thyme mixed with olive oil is superior for gut health.

Olive oil is a polyphenol that is known for its anti-inflammatory properties and is believed to help lower LDL, bad cholesterol.

So get some high quality organic olive oil and some fresh herbs and make your own wonderful infused oil for use on salads of all kinds, or over some GF Ancient Harvest pasta with lightly sautéed veggies.

Happy Gut, Healthy Life!

 
Janet Verney
To Juice or to Smoothie is the Question...
 
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I have heard so many debates on this and continue to hear much confusion about this topic, so here are my two cents for your consideration.

First, I believe they both have their benefits, when done right!

When done wrong, they can really mess with your health. I have even heard some “smoothier’s” say they are juicing because they make their smoothie less thick and more watery…. Um, no…. that isn’t juicing folks.

Ok, let’s start with JUICING! Juicing is not blending, it requires a juicing machine (I’m partial to my Omega  J8006 – easy to use and easy clean-up). My first rule is to only use organic produce. My second rule is only juice low glycemic veggies, no fruit. When we juice we are removing the FIBER from the produce. When we remove the fiber we speed up the absorption of nutrients, which is like liquid gold to our cells when we only use the green stuff, of course. When you juice fruit it is like overdosing on sugar, spiking your blood sugars. You see, fiber slows down the sugar spike of fruit.

Juicing may take a little more time, but in my humble opinion, it is one of the key ingredients to improving your health. My go to recipe is one cup of peashoots (a living raw food, high in protein), one cup of sunflower shoots (a living raw food, high in protein), one cucumber (super hydrating), and five celery stalks (a superfood in its own right, decreasing inflammation in joints, soothing gut issues, and supporting lunch function). Sometimes I add lemon or ginger root (great anti-inflammatory and adds heat to your digestive fire). For newbies to juicing, adding ½ a green apple (no seeds) may make it more palatable. To me, my green juice says “I LOVE YOU!”.

Now we are on to SMOOTHIES! When we blend organic produce, including fruit, it maintains the fiber, slowing down the glycemic spike to your blood sugar and it is a great way to get some high quality nutrition in a single serving. Having said all that it is important to choose your ingredients wisely. This is not an opportunity to throw in a scoop of ice-cream or other junk foods. I encourage low glycemic fruits, like berries to get you started. My favorite go to blender is a Vita Mix, but they are expensive, unless you find a reconditioned one online. There are many mini blenders out there now that work pretty well for this purpose.

Smoothies can be healthy, but they do pack a lot of calories, so it’s best to make them a replacement for a meal when you are short on time. My favorite go to recipe is a cup of wild frozen blueberries, ½ of an avocado, one pitted date, a handful of greens (I like to mix them up, but my favorites are spinach & kale), a tablespoon of chia or hemp seeds, and organic almond milk to blend. This is packed with protein from the greens, the seeds, and the avocado! No need for those expensive, overly processed protein powders.  If you do invest in protein powder, I suggest organic, vegan, and raw – my two favorites are Sunwarrior and Garden of Life, but be sure to read the labels and get only those sweetened with stevia and no other sugars!

One more thought while I have you on this subject… A common mistake folks make when consuming their smoothie or juice is to GULP it down… No, no, no, not a good thing! Did you know that your gut is responsible for 90% of disease? Ok, that’s a whole new topic, but for the sake of your gut, it is super important to swish or chew your juice and/or smoothie to stimulate those critical digestive enzymes in the mouth. I’ve had clients tell me that they often feel bloated after consuming a smoothie and when they make an effort to chew their smoothie that greatly improves.

I hope this helped to clarify juicing versus smoothies and how they can both play a role in your health. Please feel free to ask any questions you may have on this highly debated topic.  For those enrolled in our foodGEVITY.com program, we have demos and recipes as well for both juices and smoothies.

Here's to your health! 

 

 
Janet Verney
What's Your Body Telling You?
 
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Do you have that "feel good factor"?

The one without fatigue, aches & pains, and lack of energy?

What's your body telling you? Your body is constantly talking to you, letting you know when it's out of balance or lacking harmony!

But do you listen...?

Feed your body clean food, decrease your stress levels, move your body, and practice daily self-care - this is a great start to quiet an inflamed body and begin your road to health!

Join me at foodGEVITY.com and let's get started!

 
Janet Verney
Be Your Own Health Advocate!
 
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There are many awesome doctors out there, but they are human, they make mistakes, and they don’t have all the answers. 

You know you found a good one when they serve as your partner in health. They listen, they are open, they help you explore options, they dig deep to get to the root-cause, and best of all, they practice the “care” part of healthcare! 

There are many types of practitioners out there and in addition to their specific training & education, each one comes with their own unique experiences and personality. Find the ones that are right for you. 

I have my MD, my ND, my pulmonologist, my acupuncturist, my massage therapist, and of course my GYN.  This is my “village”, my team that supports my health. What they each have in common is a high intellect, compassion & kindness, and an openness to my thoughts and ideas. 

Find your village, be your voice, and stand up for your health! 

 
Janet Verney
Are You Feeling The Love?
 

Happy February Friends!

So, what are you doing to show yourself a little LOVE?

Loving Yourself to Health includes...

  • Keep your neurotransmitters fired-up - don't underestimate the power of positive thinking!
  • Reboot your battery - schedule time for self-care, daily, weekly, monthly! There is only one you.
  • Fill your fuel tank - What you put in your mouth makes a huge difference in your health. Love yourself enough to make the right choices!
  • Grab some time with friends - surround yourself with folks that believe in you, who bring you up, who celebrate you as the loving person you are.

This is the foundation of my signature workshop, Loving Yourself to Health. Get a dose of Vit L = LOVE and watch the magic happen!  I would love to bring this to an organization you're involved with, or your company for a lunch & learn.  Keep me in mind through your busy day!  You can reach me at connect@roots2wellness.com.

If you are in need of a LOVING transformation, check out my new online program for an inside out makeover - foodgevity.com. Check out the foodGEVITY Facebook page and grab one of the incredible coupon codes for a discounted enrollment fee! 

In Wellness, With Love,
Janet

 
Janet Verney
My 12 Tips to Feeling Better From The Crud!
 

How are you holding up during this busy holiday season?  Tis the season not only for family & friends, mixed with a little merriment, but also for sharing the not so fun colds & other nasty bugs.... 

I see so many friends posting that they are stuck with a nasty cough or cold.  There is lots that can be done, but when going a more natural route you have to hit it hard from all angles.  Below are some of my cold-proof remedies for prevention and for recovery from the crud.  As always, consult your doc before trying something new, especially if you take any prescription meds.  

When you first feel the crud creeping in or it hits you overnight and BOOM you’re down for the count, this is what I do:

1.    Take a hot Epsom salt bath (1-2 cups) with a few dashes of eucalyptus oil.  If you have On Guard by doterra, even better.  Soak as long as you can, then wrap in towels and sweat it out! 

2.    Rotate taking zinc and Vit C, at least two hours apart.

3.    Other terrific supplements to support are Vital Nutrient’s Herbal Biotic & Immune Support.  The Immune Support is also great for preventing catching what’s going around! 

4.    NAC = N Acetylcysteine.  This is another great way to support your immune system and incredible for clearing congestion.  For my lungs I sometimes take up to six a day when super congested.  You can order NAC online.  My favorite brand is also Vital Nutrients. 

5.    If you are not taking D-3, you should consider a min dose (2,000 iu) and then get some blood work done to check your levels – you may need more. 

6.    The basics of getting plenty of rest and staying well hydrated goes a long way to preventing and recovering from illness.

7.    Herbal teas, like Throat Comfort, with a little raw honey is wonderful for soothing that irritated throat. 

8.    My favorite cough liquids are Wise Woman Herbal CE-II and Olbas Cough Syrup.

9.    Another great defense for infections is Kyolic (organic garlic extract).  I get the Immune formula 103. 

10.  For the aches and pains of the crud I like Willow Bark, which has salicin as the main ingredient.  It acts like aspirin.  If you have any kidney issues you would want to stay away from this and aspirin.  As always, check with your health care provider. 

11.  Eat lots of veggies and avoid grains and sugar while sick and congested - they will only add to the gunk!  Add in some superfood smoothies with berries, ginger, greens, and lemon juice.  Avoid nuts and seeds if heavily congested.

12.  Brew some super turmericginger tea with a little powdered or dried sage.  Breath in the steam while it simmers.  Add a little raw honey and lemon. 

Be Well and Happy Holidays! 

Janet

 
Janet Verney
Are you “Shoulding” all over yourself?
 

I recently heard Tony Robbins speak about should versus must and it being the difference between being successful versus unsuccessful!  This got me thinking… Why do so many fail to meet their healthy living goals?  I think they may be “shoulding” all over themselves…

  •   I SHOULD eat more vegetables
  •   I SHOULD stop eating so much sugar
  •   I SHOULD call about the job opportunity
  •   I SHOULD go for a walk each day
  •   I SHOULD sign up for that yoga class
  •   I SHOULD call my mom and tell her I love her
  •   I SHOULD make time for meditation
  •   I SHOULD ______________________________

What if you changed your SHOULDS to MUSTS… Imagine the life changes you would create! 

  •  I MUST eat more vegetables
  •  I MUST stop eating so much sugar
  •  I MUST call about the job opportunity
  •  I MUST go for a walk each day
  •  I MUST sign up for that yoga class
  •  I MUST call my mom and tell her I love her
  •  I MUST make time for meditation
  •  I MUST ______________________________

For each of your MUSTS I challenge you to add them, one at a time, to your calendar – YES, schedule it into your day, your week, your month.  It is when you take these simple, small steps, actions towards a goal, a desire, a dream - it becomes your reality! 

Here’s to your success!

Janet

 
Janet Verney
Hydration Without the Sugar!
 

Keep Hydrated this Summer with Water Infused Recipes

Too often we turn to high sugar content soda and juice drinks to help hydrate us and quench our thirst, especially during these summer months. Thanks to some experts in the field of health and nutrition, Waterlogic has compiled a list of healthy hydration alternatives, our best fruit infused water recipes that will help quench that thirst while avoiding sugar during these sizzling summer months.

An article from WaterLogic...  Read More

 
Janet Verney
ORGANIC, a cleaner way to eat!
 

So you ask, “what’s up with all this organic stuff, it costs more and is there really a benefit?”  Word has it, meaning lots of studies show, that yes, eating organic food is a huge benefit to your health!  

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Everyone knows that eating a rainbow of colors, meaning more fruits and veggies (NOT colored candy) is better for your health, but if you increase the volume of these critical foods into your diet, consuming “conventional” produce, then you are also consuming a great deal of synthetic pesticides, fungicides, herbicides, and fertilizers!  Simply imagine over time what this can do to your health… For a list of the dirty dozen, check out the Environmental Working Group website.

So, let’s get to the meat, or should I say the produce of this subject.  Eating organic produce means better nutrition.  The soil used on organic farms is filled with beneficial minerals unharmed by all the synthetic chemical’s used on conventionally grown produce.  Minerals are critical to good health!  They support a healthy immune system, keep our bodies in balance, and reduce inflammation.   

Eating local, fresh, organically sourced fruits and vegetables, along with minimally prepared foods is one the single best things you can do for your health!  The abundance of chlorophyll and phytonutrients in organic produce is key to fighting disease and living in vibrant health. 

Organic may cost a wee bit more, but tell me, what are you and your family worth?  What would you pay to prevent, or recover your health?  It’s worth every penny in my book!  At the new James Farmacy Organic Café & Juice Bar in Old Saybrook, CT, we seek to provide the community with these clean, all natural, organically sourced, healthy-eating options!

 
Janet Verney
Ditch the Bras Ladies!
 

Let’s talk Breast Wellness….

Ok, so I’m talking an alternative to the traditional bras on the market.  You know, the ones with the synthetic materials and the incredibly uncomfortable underwire?  There are several studies and yes, some controversy about these sexy little things being a trigger for breast cancer.  Now, I am not a scientist, but I have read enough to make me think twice about wearing these buggers. 

So what’s wrong with these pretty little things we strap on each day?  Well, to begin with, the underwire can constrict the blood vessels that are there to flush toxins from the breast tissue, essentially suppressing the lymphatic system from doing its job.   Many women experience cysts in this area, under the breast, which can lead to cancer.   In addition to the underwire, the synthetic material can be problematic.  This material does not breathe and can heat up the breast tissue.  This material is often treated with chemicals that our very porous skin absorbs, soaking up all this not-so-nice, toxic stuff… Yuck!   

Let’s talk alternatives.   There are more and more cute (maybe not so sexy) organic cotton bras coming on the market.   I happen to love Blue Canoe – so comfortable!  When I take it off at the end of the day there are no lines or red marks on my skin.   Lots of options online – just search organic cotton bras and be sure to find ones without the underwire.  Another wonderful option are cami’s and tanks if you can get away with it…  My fav is Bgreen Apparel:  http://www.bgreenapparel.com/women/camis-and-tanks.html  .  They also have a simple bra as well. 

Other ways to support breast wellness is a healthy diet, mostly plant based.  If recovering from cancer, I encourage avoiding fruits and any other forms of sugar until fully healed.  Also consider your deodorant – stay away from products that contain parabens and chemicals in the common antiperspirants.  It is healthy to sweat!  Here in West Hartford CT there is a woman, Ada Rios, who is making a very nice alternative deodorant product that appears to have safe ingredients.   I use it daily and don’t get stinkyJ   

The other products to consider are skin care lotions that we smear over the largest organ of our body.  My go to moisturizer is a jar of organic coconut oil, which you can find in some stores, like Aldi’s for under $5.  It lasts me about three months.  I keep it in my shower and before I dry off, I smooth this wonderful-smelling-ingredient-food-based-product all over my skin and then pat dry.  Even through the winter months my skin feels baby soft. 

For more information, check out the book Killer Clothes, by Anna Maria Clement and Brian Clement. 

Let’s start a revolution ladies and kick off a new campaign called BREAST WELLNESS! 

With Love, In Wellness,

Janet

 
Janet Verney
Food Sensitivity?
 

Sometimes those little annoying symptoms can be food related! 

 

I have great appreciation for this Hippocrates quote: "Let food be thy medicine and medicine be they food", but food can also make us sick!  I am not talking about just the apparent, unhealthy "junk" foods regularly consumed by many, but also seemingly healthy foods.  If you are eating a healthy diet and still have some annoying little symptoms like mild fatigue, excess congestion, or mild digestive issues, then it could be that one or more of the foods you consume each day is one that you have developed a sensitivity to.  It can often be what you are most attracted too and eat on a regular basis. 

I have been dealing with this personally and as my doc says (he doesn't know anyone who takes their health more seriously than I do).  I pretty much have eliminated most of the well known foods that can trigger inflammation, like gluten, sugar, eggs, dairy, and even most grains and yet I am still getting some congestion.  Being the food detective that I am, I looked at what foods I had the day before my symptoms were at there worst.  One of the triggers seems to be pure maple syrup... I know, of all the things...  I am a true New England girl and this has always been my favorite go-to-sweetener.  the congestion also seems to increase with a glass of wine, or with gluten free flour mixes.  As I pieced this puzzle together, it hit me that I may have a sensitivity to sulfites, which is not uncommon, especially for folks who eat lots of pre-packaged foods, but here I am eating a clean, whole food diet... so, I discovered that there is a short list of natural foods, including some veggies and fruits that have a natural level of sulfites, pure maple syrup being one of them! 

This is why I stress to everyone - it is all about BIO-Individuality - what works for me, may not work for you!  When you eat a clean diet your body will begin to tell you what it likes and does not like.  Truly listen to what your body is telling you.  It is a super smart, sophisticated bio-computer and it knows the software that will make it run with the utmost efficiency.  At a recent lecture I attended, the speaker said we don't just wake-up one day with cancer, heart disease, diabetes, etc... , it happens, it builds over time, but we stopped listening to all those little signs along the way and then BAM, we get hit loud and clear with a life-threatening disease! 

Even if you are predisposed to a certain disease, you can indeed change the "attitude of your genes" and live a vibrant, healthy life! 

 
Janet Verney
Longevity Juice
 

Juice and strain the following organic veggies:

  • 1-2 cups pea shoots
  • 1-2 cups sunflower shoots
  • 1 large cucumber
  • 4-6 stalks celery
  • Optional Additions:
    • Cilantro for detox
    • Ginger root to rev-up digestion
    • Turmeric root to decrease inflammation
    • Other greens as desired
    • Green apple if you want a little sweetness to your juice. 

To kick your digestive juices into high gear, be sure to "chew" your juice! 

 
Janet Verney
Mocha Black Bean Brownies
 

Steep one Hazelnut Teeccino Tea bag in warm water.  Add three tablespoons of the coffee (tea) to 2 tablespoons of ground flax – allow this mixture to sit for 5-10 minutes. 

In a high speed blender mix (may need to add a little more of the tea water – you want a thick batter, so do a tsp at a time until mixed):

·         The flax/coffee mixture

·         3 T grapeseed oil or coconut oil

·         1 T vanilla extract (preferably non-alcohol)

·         2 T Non-aluminum baking powder

·         ½ t pink sea salt

·         1 can organic black beans, well rinsed

·         ½ C Coconut Palm Sugar

·         ½ C Lakanto or non-gmo Erythritol 

·         ¾ C Raw Cocao Powder

Place in parchment paper baking cups in a muffin tin, top with non-dairy chocolate chips, and bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes.  When cool, top with either non-dairy coconut ice cream or whipped coconut milk. 

 
Janet Verney
A Place in Time
 

Majestically floating within the whisper of a cloud,

its grand structure is enveloped in the musty scent of pine.

Gracefully its presence commands attention,

while in the harmony of nature.

Eloquent guests are charmed by its pervading elegance,

timeless memories are captured within its walls.

Radiant décor evokes passion,

enraptured spirits swept away by mystical beauty. 

Stories yet untold encased in noble times gone by,

grounded symmetry scaffold dreams of potpourri yet to come.

 

~Janet E. Verney

 
Janet Verney