Thursday, June 1, 2017

What I’m Loving Lately 86

Hi, friends! Happy FRIDAY! Holy cow, this week flew by, right? Gotta love holiday weekends! 🙂

Since it’s Friday and all, it’s time for another edition of What I’m Loving Lately. This week’s post was actually really easy to put together because I’m seriously loving what’s mentioned! I mean, hey, some weeks are better than others! Ha! Ok, here we go!

Mind Pump: Raw Fitness Truth podcast – The ladies from Girls Gone WOD recently had the guys from Mind Pump on their podcast, and I immediately fell is love. They talk about all things fitness/health, and I love their straight-forward style. They also record multiples times per week, so they always have new content to listen to – and, of course, I’m totally binge-listening to past episodes!

OK to Wake! Clock – This clock is the BEST THING EVER!! We recently transitioned Quinn to a toddler bed, which started out great, but then he was climbing into our bed at like 4:30 AM. After a few realllllly early mornings, we decided it was time to try something new. We heard this OK to Wake! Clock was awesome and, sure enough, it did the trick. Qman thinks it’s the coolest thing ever and gets so excited when it turns green in the morning. He’ll come into our room and tell us ALL ABOUT IT. Haha! In addition to being a fun new toy, the clock keeps him in bed until a more “reasonable” hour of the morning! 🙂

ok to wake clock

Effortless style – I shared the photo below on CNC last week and received a few questions about my hair and jeans, so I just wanted to provide the details because, honestly, my “style” is quite effortless! 🙂

I recently started using a serumSea Salt Spray in my hair and just letting it air dry to get light, beach-y waves. I use a dime-size amount of serum on just the ends of my layers. Then, I spray the Sea Salt Spray all over and then “scrunch” it up with my hands (maybe a half dozen times) before letting it dry naturally. It’s so easy and takes like 2 minutes! 🙂

My boyfriend jeans are from Kut from the Kloth and the rips came with them! 🙂 They’re super comfy and fitted in all the right places. I wear them a ton and swear they just keep getting better and better with each wash!

Lululemon Breeze By Muscle Tank – I’m obsessed with all muscle tanks, but especially this one! I need it in my life for sure!

Kashi Salted Chocolate Chunk Chewy Nut Butter Bars – Omggggg, these bars on life-changing. Seriously, they’re a game changer for when it comes to healthy treats. They’re just 150 calories and only have 8g of sugar per bar, but they’re FULL of flavor, which means you get to enjoy dessert, but it in a perfectly controlled portion!

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Blueberry Chex – I’m not typically a fan of fruit-flavored cereals (or ice cream), but I love Chex cereals, so I gave their new blueberry flavor a fair chance. (My friends at General Mills sent it to me to sample.) I have to admit that it’s pretty darn amazing! The flavor reminds me of the edge of a blueberry muffin top, and I’m definitely a fan! Holy yum!

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This recipe for Cheesy Chicken & Broccoli With Spinach – An oldie, but goodie from the CNC archives. A reader recently sent me an email and mentioned how much she likes this recipe. I actually forgot about it until she reminded me of it. We actually made it for dinner the other night, and it’s definitely a winner!

Another recipe on repeat this week: Cucumber + Radish Salad. I shared the recipe yesterday, but just had to give it another shout out. It’s so easy, light, and delicious – perfect for summer!

Photo May 28, 3 32 45 PM (1280x1280)

Question of the Day

What recipe is on repeat in your house lately? Do I need to make it? Please share! 🙂 

P.S. I’m keeping my special Beautycounter promo open through the weekend! Woohoo! It’s an awesome deal – and if you’re in the market for sunscreen without all of those crazy ingredients, be sure to hop on this deal!

If you spend $55 (before tax and shipping), you’ll get a FREE Sunscreen Stick (Face) – an $18 value! This sunscreen stick is perfect for summer. It’s super easy to apply (just roll it on), is water-resistant, and great for kids (remember – no crazy chemicals!). It blends really well with your skin so you’re not left looking pale next to the pool, and it’s compact—a perfect fit for pockets!

P.P.S. If you’re interested in becoming a Beautycounter consultant (or just want to learn more about their products), mark your calendars for “Beautycounter: Educate, Inspire, Earn,” a online info session with some of my favorite bloggers friends, including Rubies & Radishes, Real Food Liz, Lexi’s Clean Kitchen, Fed and Fit, A Foodie Stays Fit, and Living Loving Paleo!

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Building a Better Burger with Chefs Gabi & Greg Denton

Chefs Gabi Quiñónez Denton and Greg Denton at the James Beard Foundation’s Blended Burger Project kickoff event at the James Beard House

 

What’s the secret to building a better burger? If you ask the James Beard Foundation and Chefs Greg Denton and Gabi Quiñónez Denton, it’s using less meat.

The Dentons — the husband and wife chef team behind Ox and Superbite in Portland, Oregon, and recent winners of the James Beard award for Best Chef Northwest — teamed with the JBF to kick off the 2017 Blended Burger Project. The eco-minded movement challenges chefs all over the country to blend finely chopped mushrooms into the meat in their burger mix to create a more nutritious and sustainable burger.

Starting today through July 31st, chefs across the country will be serving up their own versions of a blended burger. (Click here to find one near you: hundreds of chefs from 40-some states are participating — from old-school diners to fine-dining restaurants alike. Try as many as you can this summer, then vote for your favorite!) The rules are simple: Chefs can use any type of meat and mushrooms they want, but the patties must contain 25 to 50 percent ‘shrooms.

So why mushrooms, anyway? “One, they create a healthier burger,” says Eric Davis with the Mushroom Council. “Mushrooms are very nutrient-dense and are a good source of B vitamins. Plus, you’re cutting down the fat and sodium by using less meat,” says Davis. “The second reason is the taste. Mushrooms have that great umami flavor, and they make a burger so juicy. Lastly, there’s the sustainability aspect since mushrooms have a much lower carbon footprint than meat.”

The Dentons’ blended burger in the garden of the James Beard House

 

Healthy Eats talked to the Dentons to learn more about their mushroom-blended burger creation, and to hit the duo up for their tips on eating healthfully and sustainably.

 

Healthy Eats: Tell us about the “blended burger” you made today, which will also be on the menu at Superbite this summer.

Greg & Gabi Denton: We use diced beef shoulder and dehydrated shiitake mushrooms, which get rehydrated when they’re ground into the burger. That makes up the patties. Grinding the mushrooms into the mix gives it a nice savory quality, and it means they won’t slip off the burger like they would if they were sauteed mushrooms sitting on top of the patties.

We do two patties — one with fontina cheese and one with yellow Cheddar — and they get topped with pickles, minced onions and shredded lettuce. Then we do a griddled homemade brioche bun covered with sesame seeds and our homemade “fancy sauce.” It’s huge! And tall. It’s our memories of our childhood-favorite burger, mixed with our more contemporary style.

 

Do you have other favorite “meat minimal” dishes for which you swap some or all the traditional protein for plant-based foods?

My go-to is legumes. I love using beans or lentils to extend a protein and make a meat-based dish more healthful. When it comes to making tuna salad we’ll buy a little jar of high-quality Spanish tuna packed in olive oil, and extend it with some lentils or white beans.

We’re also huge proponents of taking dishes that usually call for meat and using a vegetable in its place. Today we’re serving a tostada with shredded king trumpet mushrooms that we braised with smoked guajillo chiles that have a braised chicken quality to them.

At Superbite, we also do a Nashville Fried Hot Cauliflower instead of fried chicken, and a chorizo made from eggplant. We focus on that side of sustainability and health, and work to pull the “meatiness” out of vegetables.

 

Your cookbook Around the Fire, co-written with Stacy Adimando, is chock-full of gorgeous dishes cooked over open flames. What are some of your favorite veggies to throw on the grill?

Everyone has their favorite summertime veggies that may seem best suited to the grill. But we also love working with winter vegetables like squash, cauliflower, artichokes, even broccoli that you don’t normally think of as grill-friendly. If you straight grill them, they tend to get tough and their fibrous qualities come out. But if you par-cook a veggie and then finish it on the grill, then you get a smoky, woody quality on the outside, but it’s still tender on the inside.

In the springtime, there are so many great vegetables like snap peas, snow peas, fava beans, padrón peppers and varieties of small peppers that cook up so quickly and beautifully blistered on the grill. If you don’t have a grill basket, just put an extra grill grate or rack from your oven on top of your grill grate at a 90-degree angle to create a grid, and those small veggies won’t fall through.

We also love throwing greens like escarole, radicchio and romaine on the grates or ashes. There’s not much that we don’t throw on the grill!

 

Do you have any tips we at home can borrow for using up leftovers and wasting less food?

First, make a game plan for your leftovers. Plan to add an egg to last night’s dinner to make breakfast, or use that extra carton of rice to make fried rice. Just don’t let it sit in your fridge.

Also, we do cream-based soups with mushrooms or asparagus scraps. If you have a blender and a fine-mesh strainer, you can turn pretty much anything into a cream soup. Butter, garlic and onion as a base will make almost anything delicious.

And stock up on those versatile foods that you can put almost anything in, like eggs, potatoes, rice and tortillas so it’s easy to cook them up with leftovers. We “taco” everything!

 

What do you cook at home to stay healthy?

For us, it’s important to have healthy snacks at home. Two of our go-tos are lettuce wraps with cold cuts, and nori with avocado, gochujang and toasted sesame seeds.

For breakfast, we’ll make a big pot of oatmeal seasoned really simply, and then we’ll pack the leftovers in a Tupperware. The next day we’ll pop it out and cut it into slices, and griddle them in olive oil until they’re golden brown. They’re crunchy and delicious on the outside, but still creamy and tender on the inside. Then we top them with whatever we have on hand: berries and a little cinnamon, fried eggs, sauteed spinach, chicken sausage, tomato sauce…a leftover braise. Sweet or savory, it’s totally up for interpretation.

 

Visit the James Beard Foundation to find a list of chefs across the country taking part in the Blended Burger Project, and to vote for your favorite.

 

Photos by Ken Goodman



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Clean Eating Barbecued Carrots Recipe

Clean Eating Barbecued Carrots Recipe

Life with Mini Chef is nothing but one adventure after another. Whatever he does, he does it with gusto! He’s an “all-or-nothing”, “give-it-110%” kinda kid. He puts his heart and soul into… Read more →



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7 Alternative Therapies for Depression

Young man sitting looking upsetAs I discussed last month, depression is the yin to anxiety’s yang. Between these two troublemakers, they’ve got dark clouds hanging over both the past and the future, making the present moment complicated at best (and for some people unbearable). Taken as a human composite, it’s an unfortunate trade-off for being cognitively complex. As individuals, however, we naturally just want a solution.

The problem is, there’s just so many confounding factors surrounding depression that it’s hard to know where to start. Your mind is an infinitely complex latticework of moving parts; one which continues to baffle and divide the scientific community. How does a practitioner prescribe suitable treatments for a problem they don’t fully comprehend? And, yet, medical science often (and perhaps inevitably) works with incomplete information. 

The result is a suite of antidepressant drugs that may be effective in treating certain aspects of depression in certain people, but which also present a suite of their own often-debilitating problems. It doesn’t mean these approaches don’t have their value. I recognize that for some, these medications may be live saving or sustaining. For others, they offer support through acute or overwhelming times or, in still other cases, give a leg up while other interventions have the chance to take hold. My purpose here isn’t to suggest people give these drugs and other conventional treatments the boot. I see this post as a dialogue that offers supplementary strategies to augment any assigned treatment.It can hopefully be or contribute to a toolbox that moves beyond the scope of simple self-care into research-supported territory. And while they’re likely more effective for mild to moderate depression, I think it’s fair to say that no one should write off the therapeutic benefits of healthy lifestyle measures for their overall treatment program.

In that spirit, let me offer the genuine caveat: any folks under medical care for any condition (depression or otherwise) should consult their medical professional before making any change in their treatment plan. But you knew that already.

Exercise

There’s definitely some dead horse flogging here, but if I’ve said it once I’ve said it a thousand times: exercise is a must for rebalancing mental health. Last week, I discussed how the “feel good” hormone serotonin, a sworn enemy of depression, can be increased via exercise. This is achieved by motor neurons promoting the synthesis and release of serotonin, and by encouraging production of tryptophan, a precursor to serotonin.

All well and good, but which exercise is best for fighting depression? Older thinking has always privileged aerobic exercise when it comes to mental health. This study, for example, notes that “BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor) by aerobic exercise appears to ameliorate hippocampal atrophy, improve memory function, and reduce depression.”  

But while a good bout of cardio is certainly beneficial for elevating mood, studies that examine a range of exercise forms suggest that certain types may be better. An experiment that investigated the effects of aerobics, bodybuilding, and circuit training on 45 depressed patients showed that bodybuilding was the clear winner in reducing depressive symptoms. Another study that compared the effects of aerobic and non-aerobic (i.e. resistance training) exercise on depression found that while both forms were beneficial, non-aerobic exercise was superior in all-round mood-lifting effects.

Personally, I’m all about lifting heaving things, but for a broad-spectrum approach check out this post.

Meditation

Here’s another well-trodden Primal go-to. With ample clinical evidence supporting claims that meditation is a tried-and-true formula for treating depression, few would argue otherwise.

I’d be inclined to say that any meditation form will help in the depression realm, but this time we’re all about facts. And those facts lead us straight to the mindfulness doorstep. Not one to pass on a good thing, I’ve written at length about mindfulness and the way in which it encourages both a healthy mindset and a healthy body.

As this paper puts it, mindfulness is “a practice of learning to focus attention on moment-by-moment experience with an attitude of curiosity, openness, and acceptance.” It’s that conscious and continual awareness of both the pattern and nature of our thoughts that diminishes ruminative thinking, one of the key characteristics within depression.

In the lab, applications of mindfulness-based stress reduction and mindfulness-based cognitive therapy have both been put to good effect for decreasing psychological distress and offering both broad spectrum anti-depressive and anti-anxiety effects. Likewise, outside of the clinic, plenty of studies have proven the ability of mindfulness meditation to treat depression, particularly in those with severe emotional difficulties. Another benefit that can’t be dismissed is the fact that mindfulness meditation seems to be longer-lasting than many other antidepressant therapies.

For those interested in instituting a practice, here are a few easy steps for introducing meditation into your life.

Yoga

It’s an obvious lead from meditation is yoga, which itself can be a form of meditation. While it’s fair to say that there’s a notable lack of large studies examining the link between yoga and depression, existing research is already substantiating favorable anecdotal evidence.

In the first study performed in the U.S. to look at yoga as a standalone treatment for depression (notable that it was published just a few months ago), 20 adults with mild to moderate depression were randomly assigned to 90-minute yoga classes twice a week for 8 weeks. Another 18 adults with mild to moderate depression spent the same amount of time in attention-control educational classes, sans-action. The yoga group showed significantly greater remission of their depressive disorders than the control group.

Other studies have supported the use of yoga as an enhancement to traditional talk therapy and as a pivotal embodiment therapy (PDF) for overcoming trauma and the psychological symptoms (including depression) related to it.

Hydrotherapy

Now we move into murky waters…literally. While it’s fair to say that the use of water treatments for various ailments goes way back, it’s not until recently that using hydrotherapy for treating mental illness has raised a few brows once more. This form of treatment can utilize hydrological variations to produce a range of beneficial effects in the body.

It’s not exactly rocket science, when you think about it. If you’re like me, you love a good plunge in a polar pool. That feeling you get afterwards, once you get over the initial shock, is one of clarity and invigoration. This suggests, then, that bringing our skin into contact with water of varying temperatures can change both our physiology and mood. In the case of cold water immersion, for example, restriction of the surface blood vessels forces blood into the core in an attempt to conserve heat. This sends a jet of oxygen-rich and nutrient-dense red stuff to the brain and vital organs, the beneficial effect of which is almost instantaneous.

But for our humble Primal readers out there, a daily polar plunge might not always be a viable (or desirable) option. Fortunately, preliminary evidence suggests that a simple cold shower may also provide a notable antidepressant effect. While research is only in the preliminary stage, this study suggests that easing your shower temp down to 20°C (68 fahrenheit) and sticking it out for 2-3 minutes is a good starting point. If nothing else, it’ll wake you up.

At the other end of the spectrum, it’s possible that hot water may perform a similar anti-depressive function. The most notable of hydrotherapies in this arena is balneotherapy—the use of hot water baths for healing. A 2010 study that compared 21 days of balneotherapy to standard antidepressant medications found that the former resulted in significantly higher remission of depression and was longer sustained. 

Another study showed that hot mineral water treatments improved serotonin levels and had a positive effect on depression. That being said, with both these articles its hard to say whether it was the mineral component that provided the beneficial effect, or the hot water component. I’m inclined to think both.

Heat Therapy

Whereas hydrotherapy uses combinations of water and temperature variations to treat depression, heat therapy relies solely on, well…heat.

And I’m talking about quite a lot of heat here. A study published last year used a whole-body hyperthermic device to raise the body temp of 338 individuals to 38.5 Celsius (101 Fahrenheit) over the course of 6 weeks. Using a control group who were tricked into thinking they were also experiencing a rise in temp, the researchers were able to confirm that whole-body hyperthermia is a “safe, rapid-acting, antidepressant modality with a prolonged therapeutic benefit.”

Another study published in 2013 used whole-body hyperthermia to produce much the same result. But while it appears that there were statistical errors, there’s enough emerging evidence out there to suggest that this treatment is worth giving a shot. Those of us outside the laboratory might try a traditional or (even better perhaps) an infrared sauna. A hot bath or longer hot shower may also work for this purpose.

Curcumin

Curcumin is known for its anti-inflammatory prowess, meaning its currently a preferential natural treatment for any number of arthritic and autoimmune conditions. But what about mental health?

Current thinking in the scientific community largely posits depression as an affliction of both the central nervous system and systemic inflammation, meaning any reduction in system inflammation via, say, curcumin supplementation, can potentially impact depression. And while initial trials demonstrated no positive correlation between curcumin and depression, those same studies admitted that they needed a longer duration and higher dosages. Later stints that did just that found some promising signs, but once again concluded that they needed still higher dosages and larger cohorts. See a trend emerging here?

Finally, this year, researchers had a breakthrough: significantly greater improvements in depressive symptoms from curcumin supplementation than placebo. Interestingly, however, they didn’t find any difference in effectiveness between low and high curcumin dosages.

EMDR

Next, while something called eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) has attained mainstream status for the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorders, it’s not until recently that this same treatment has been applied to depression. A 2015 study published in the Journal of Brain and Behavior recognized that “trauma and other adverse life experiences can be the basis of depression,” and on this basis sought to determine whether EMDR could be an effective antidepressant.

Sixteen patients with depressive episodes were treated with EMDR therapy by reprocessing memories of stressful life events, while continuing the use of standard antidepressant drugs. The results showed that more than two-thirds of the EMDR patients showed full remission at the end of treatment, which was a significantly greater reduction in depression than a control group that was treated with antidepressants alone. What’s more, one year later the EMDR group reported less depressive symptoms and relapses than the control group.

While more research and larger study groups are needed to clarify the link between EMDR and depression, it’s an area that shows some promise, particularly for trauma-related depression.

Thanks for reading, everyone. Have your or anyone you know had success with any of the above therapies, or with something else I haven’t covered today? Share your thoughts below, and have a good end to the week. 

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Ever After

When we left off yesterday, we were all smiles! Thomas made all the dinner reservations for the weekend (something that I love that he loves to do!) so he had a special dinner at Kimball’s Kitchen planned. We got all dressed up and found a pretty dock across the way to take a few photos.

I had just bought this little tripod and remote on the recommendation of Thomas’ mom (not related to the engagement, but I’m so glad I got it beforehand!) and we were able to take some pretty pics.

Reenactment, as you know, but still sweet! (My dress is an oldie from Mahi Gold and my shoes are new from Target!)

The sky!!

Blooper!!

Our dinner at Kimball’s was awesome. Thomas had called ahead for champagne, which I thought was really sweet, but they forgot! Not a problem though, because the service was great and we started the night with two glasses on the house.

For dinner, we had raw oysters (our favorite!).

A watermelon and heirloom tomato salad (with goat cheese!).

And for the entree, swordfish with chimichurri and veggies.

Creme brûlée for dessert!

On Sunday, we had oatmeal for breakfast with blueberries and good coffee. The little cups we found at Harris Teeter were so convenient!

We spent the day by the beach and pool, which had the most comfortable lounge chairs imaginable!

Lunch was fish tacos on the beach!

I found these little Bota Minis at Harris Teeter too, a to-go version of the popular Bota Box, and they are so great for a beach visit. No glass, and easily re-closed.

We also did a repeat of our engagement walk to visit the spot again!

The storm clouds rolled in, so we did some reading indoors and had cocktail hour on our balcony!

The clouds parted and we had a little walk on the beach before dinner.

We had another dinner at the Lifesaving Station it’s really good there!

The Crab-Stuffed Flounder and Shrimp and Grits were soooo good!

We had such an amazing weekend filled with near-perfect weather and the most romantic accommodation. Cheers to ever after!

 

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