Thursday, April 11, 2019

The Friday 5

Hey guys, happy Friday!

Guess who played his first outdoor soccer game last Saturday!? Can you believe that our baby boy is playing soccer on a team? It’s crazy how quickly they grow up. And doesn’t he look so handsome in his uniform? Quinn is o team Brazil! 🙂

I actually had the opportunity to sponsor Quinn’s team, so Carrots ‘N’ Cake is written on the back of the team’s uniforms. How cool is that? And, of course, I’m more than happy to support youth soccer in our town.

Quinn had an absolute blast at soccer. His best friend from school is on his team, so he was psyched to play along side him. The two of them were so darn cute together as teammates, and I’m excited to see the season unfold as they all get more and more comfortable with their soccer skills.

So, it’s time for another edition of The Friday 5 where I cut to the chase and share my top 5 favorites from the week. (Five is also my lucky number!) Without further ado, here’s The Friday 5…

1. Apple Airpods – I jumped onboard the Apple Airpod train, and I’m in love. Just thinking about earbuds with cords makes me annoyed! Haha! These are seriously the best – they’re easy to pack and take anywhere, and they’re awesome for working out. I’ll also pop them in when I’m working at home to take calls and listen to podcasts while putting away the dishes or folding laundry. They make life so much simpler, and they STAY PUT in your ears – even for running workouts and burpees!!

2. Quest Birthday Cake Bars – If you’re a fan of Quest Bars, you must try this flavor. It’s incredible! I’ve been cutting them into quarters and eating a piece or two when I need a bite of something sweet – and it totally does the trick! I love that these bars are packed with protein and fiber, too.

3. Lucky Women’s Kyndra Sandals – I took them on my work trip to Phoenix, and I can tell that they’re going to be perfect for summer date nights – I love that you can dress them up or down. Amazon shopping makes me happy. I seriously find the best deals, and you can’t beat the 2-day Prime shipping! I also bought this pair for just $16.50 – such a steal! 

4. Pamela’s Grain-Free Paleo Pancake Mix – This paleo-friendly pancake mix is our new favorite, and you might remember me mentioning it on the blog last week as well! Once again, I’m partnering with Pamela’s to share some of their delicious pancake mixes. We are seriously loving them lately! We actually used to make two batches of pancakes on the weekend — one that contained gluten for the boys, and one gluten-free for me.  Discovering Pamela’s has been so great because the boys love it too, so we only have to make one mix! There’s actually 7 different pancake mix varieties – all of which are certified gluten-free and made from non-GMO ingredients. There are even dairy- and egg-free options as well.

You all know we love making pancakes on the weekends, and this paleo-friendly Grain-Free Pancake Mix by Pamela’s is so, so, so good. The pancakes have a delicious, nutty flavor from the almond, pecan, and walnut flours and the batter has a wonderful vanilla flavor that comes through subtly when cooked. Mmm! Each serving has 6g of protein (as prepared) and the instructions suggest almond milk, so they’re a great dairy-free option.

And, finally, I love that there’s no added sugar in Pamela’s mixes, especially if we’re already using maple syrup. If you haven’t tried Pamela’s Products (all gluten-free), I highly recommend them! You can purchase Pamela’s Products by visiting

5. Reading before bed – My recent guilty pleasure is getting into bed and reading – right after Quinn goes to sleep. I used to stay up, half watching TV and half mindlessly scrolling through Instagram, but reading in bed has been so great for helping me wind down and sleep more soundly. I’m loving Michelle Obama’s Becoming and Brain Body Diet.

Sales from the Week

Question of the Day

What are you reading lately?

P.S. If you haven’t take advantage of the 15% off sale at Beautycounter, be sure to hop on it. The sale ends on Monday!

This post contains some affiliate links, which means I will earn a small commission from the company if you decide to purchase the product linked to. This compensation helps with expenses to keep CNC up and running. Thank you for your support!

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13 Keto-Friendly Fiber Foods

While some keto or low-carb proponents claim fiber is useless at best and actively harmful at worst, I come down on the side that says fiber is probably helpful for most people. Some folks have persistently better responses to low- or no-fiber keto diets, and I won’t argue with that—I’ve seen it happen and I’ve read the studies where de-emphasizing fiber can actually improve constipation, for example.

I’ll just say that I have an opposite reaction, and, most importantly, I love eating a variety of plant foods that also happen to contain a ton of great nutrients in addition to fiber.

Do I buy into the idea that fiber is important because it is every human being’s responsibility to produce as much colonic bulk as humanly possible? No.

Do I think we should be consistently pushing the limits of our digestive tracts, performing feats of bathroom heroism so momentous they border on Herculean, and making sure the toilet bowl buckles beneath us? No.

The real value of fiber lies not in its coarseness, its tendency to form colonic bulk, to keep us topped off. The true value lies in its fermentability. A fermentable fiber is a prebiotic fiber—fiber that feeds our gut bacteria.

I won’t get into the many roles our gut bacteria play in our health today (I’ve covered that before. 1, 2, 3).

I will, however, explain why we need to be feeding our gut bacteria. Our gut bacteria form a physical barrier against incursions and colonization by pathogenic bacteria; they take up room along the gut lining so pathogens can’t. If we don’t feed our gut bacteria with prebiotics, it won’t be around to protect us. After antibiotic treatment where both good and bad gut flora are indiscriminately targeted and wiped out, pathogenic obesity-promoting bacteria take advantage of the open space. That’s a worst-case scenario, but it shows what can happen when the harmony of the gut is disturbed by antibiotics or, to a less extent, a lack of fermentable prebiotic fibers.

When our gut bacteria eat prebiotics, they also give off metabolites like butyric acid—a short chain fatty acid that our colonic cells use as an energy source and which improves metabolic health.

Gut bacteria also convert antinutrients like phytic acid into nutrients like inositol. The almond meal-obsessed keto eater would do well to have a powerful gut biome set up to convert all that phytic acid to inositol.

Now, some writers will come up with specific blends of fibers, powders and gums to create the “optimal” prebiotic diet for your gut bacteria, but that’s pretty silly. The gut is a complicated place. We’ve barely begun to even identify all its inhabitants. To think we know the precise blend of isolated fiber that will make them flourish, and then act on that, is a mistake.

A better option is to eat foods that contain fiber. Some of the prebiotic fibrous foods with the best nutrient profiles also happen to be extremely keto-friendly.

1) Almonds and Pistachios

Nuts are usually favored in health-conscious circles for a few reasons. They like the monounsaturated fat. They like the mineral profile, or the complete protein, or their ability to dissemble into nut meals and form baked goods. But what gets short shrift is the fiber content. Now, I can’t speak for other nuts, but almonds and pistachios in particular contain fiber with potent prebiotic effects. People who eat almonds and to an even greater extent pistachios end up with improved gut bacteria profiles.

2) Green Bananas

Ripe bananas are difficult to squeeze into a ketogenic diet. The green banana—an unripe one—is mostly resistant starch, a type of starch that cannot be digested and travels untouched until colonic bacteria metabolize it. It’s one of the best stimulators we know of butyric acid production. And sure, you could do a spoonful of raw potato starch to get your resistant starch, but the beauty of the green banana is that it also provides potassium, another nutrient that some find difficult to obtain and stay keto.

3) Wild Blueberries

Blackberries, boysenberries, raspberries, and strawberries are all loaded with fiber, and you should eat them. They’re lower carb than you think, they’re loaded with polyphenols, and topped with some real whipped cream they make a fantastic dessert. But wild blueberries are special. They’re smaller than other berries, which increases the amount of skin per ounce you get, and skin is where all the polyphenols and fiber lie. Heck, even the blueberry’s polyphenols have prebiotic effects on the gut biome.

4) Mushrooms

A few years ago, I wrote a whole post on mushrooms. Suffice it to say, they’re quite wonderful, bordering on magical. I did not discuss the fiber they contain. It turns out that all the various mushroom polysaccharides/fibers, including beta-glucans, mannans, chitin, xylans, and galactans also act as potent prebiotics that improve the health of the host.

5) Avocado

Your standard avocado has about 12-15 grams of fiber, if you eat the whole thing. I

6) Jicama

Great with chili powder, salt, and lime juice, jicama is about 11 grams of carbs per cup, but half of those are inulin, a potent prebiotic fiber with a tendency to really ramp up butyrate production.

7) Onions

Onions are another fantastic source of inulin. They go into almost every dish of every cuisine, so there’s no excuse not to be eating onions.

8) Garlic

I’ve been known to treat garlic like a vegetable, roasting an entire cast iron pan full until brown and sweet and chewy. They’re another great source of prebiotic fiber.

9) Leeks

Leeks have more inulin than onions. Try them crispy in egg scrambles.

10) Broccoli

Broccolini is a major part of my favorite meal of the day—my Big-Ass Keto Salad. Broccoli (and cruciferous vegetables in general) has been shown to have modulatory effects on the gut biome.

11) Sauerkraut

Kraut gives you two in one. It’s a fermented food, which is great for the gut biome. And it’s cabbage, which is very fibrous. Even pasteurized kraut improves gut health.

12) Dark Chocolate

Dark chocolate, the good stuff with a high cacao content (85%+) and low sugar content, is an incredible source of prebiotic fiber. Eat more of it.

13) Animal Fiber

Obligate carnivores like cheetahs who don’t eat any plants (willingly) still have gut bacteria. These gut bacteria thrive on “animal fiber,” the gristle and cartilage and other bits of connective tissue that comprise a good 20-30% of the walking weight of a prey animal. Humans are not obligate carnivores, but eating the entire animal has been a mainstay of advanced hominid existence for millions of years. I find it very likely that something, someone, somewhere inside our guts is breaking down the animal fiber we eat—so you’d better be eating some!

Not so tough, is it? It’s not like I’m suggesting you load up on bran muffins, psyllium smoothies. I don’t want you dumping flax meal into everything or munching on those awful fiber gummies. Just eat some basic, healthy, low-carb plant matter—foods that don’t really scream “fiber”—and the rest will take care of itself.

What’s your favorite low-carb source of fiber? Let me know down below.

Thanks for reading, everyone.



Hernández E, Bargiela R, Diez MS, et al. Functional consequences of microbial shifts in the human gastrointestinal tract linked to antibiotic treatment and obesity. Gut Microbes. 2013;4(4):306-15.

Ukhanova M, Wang X, Baer DJ, Novotny JA, Fredborg M, Mai V. Effects of almond and pistachio consumption on gut microbiota composition in a randomised cross-over human feeding study. Br J Nutr. 2014;111(12):2146-52.

Jiao X, Wang Y, Lin Y, et al. Blueberry polyphenols extract as a potential prebiotic with anti-obesity effects on C57BL/6 J mice by modulating the gut microbiota. J Nutr Biochem. 2019;64:88-100.

Jayachandran M, Xiao J, Xu B. A Critical Review on Health Promoting Benefits of Edible Mushrooms through Gut Microbiota. Int J Mol Sci. 2017;18(9)

Nielsen ES, GarnĂĄs E, Jensen KJ, et al. Lacto-fermented sauerkraut improves symptoms in IBS patients independent of product pasteurisation – a pilot study. Food Funct. 2018;9(10):5323-5335.

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Life Lately

Heyyyyy, friends!

It’s almost Friday and Spring break (for Mal) is just around the corner! We’re excited to take a family trip to New York City this weekend to visit friends and our vacation can’t come soon enough!

(I stumbled upon this photo of Quinn from a few years ago, and his expression is just so adorable and makes me smile every time I see it. I just had to share it again!)

So, life lately… minus strep throat (Quinn ended up getting it too) has been going well. I feel like I am FINALLY getting into a groove with nutrition clients, Beautycounter, and the blog. For years (yes, years), I’ve felt so incredibly unsettled and stressed about everything. It was just too much to handle for one person, but now I have a team of nutrition coaches and a couple of people helping me with blog-related stuff. Obviously, things aren’t perfect and there’s always room for improvement, but I feel like things are coming together.

Related to stress: When I was in Phoenix, I met a consultant who told me about a book called “The Upside of Stress,” which is all about why stress can be good and how to make it work for you. I actually have 3 books on my nightstand right now, so I decided to opt for the author’s Ted Talk and related podcast episodes, and it’s really great. Her thoughts and research on stress is super interesting. Just wanted to share!

I’m trucking along with plant-based nutrition. I’m still eating meat, but only once a day or every other day. It’s definitely a challenge to meet my daily protein goal, but if there’s a will, there’s way! I’ve eaten a lot of “protein bowls” lately, so I have a blog post recapping them and sharing how I make them high in protein.

I’m also trucking along with weekly visits to our local fro-yo shop. The whole family is loving fro-yo lately!

Quinn is also loving his soccer shin guards and insists on wearing them even when he’s not playing. I mean, they do make him look really cool!

I’ve received a ton of requests from nutrition clients and readers for EASY, healthy meals, so I put together an email series sharing my favorite 3-ingredient meals. Ok, well, technically, some have 4-5 ingredients, but they’re super easy and most of them you probably already have in your kitchen. Long story short, be sure to sign up to get 18 delicious recipes delivered right to your inbox!

Mal’s dad is getting re-married in June (on Quinn’s birthday), so we’re preparing for the big day. Quinn got fitted for a tux a couple of weeks ago – and, my gosh, he looked handsome. Well, “fitted” actually means we bought a tux for him. Apparently, it’s more expensive to get a kid’s tux altered versus purchasing one. Now that Quinn owns his own tux, I think he should be “Boss Baby” for Halloween. Haha!

I’m still recruiting consultants for my team this month. I have two spots open. If you’re interested, drop me an email at It’s such a great part-time gig! 🙂

Question of the Day

Are you on spring break next week? Doing anything fun? 

What book(s) are you reading right now? 

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Hoos Had A Good Week?

Charlottesville has a lot to be proud of this week! If you are 0% interested in sports you might not have heard that the University of Virginia basketball team won the NCAA National Championship! After returning from our trip on Friday, we hosted a few friends on Saturday to watch the game. Birch has his friend Harrison over, but they were more interested in rattles than the TV. B also had a blowout in his UVA onesie just minutes before the game started!

We ordered sushi (my first time having it since pregnancy!) and gobbled it down.

On Sunday I killed my legs with 1.5 games of women’s soccer. After a week of doing practically nothing, I was SO sore on Monday!

We made burgers on the grill with asparagus for a casual family dinner.

At five months, we’re slowly starting to give Birch tastes of soft foods. Despite me singing The Avocado Song nonstop, I don’t think he was that into avocado!

Birch’s other new thing? Flipping himself over (quite violently I might add!) in the middle of a diaper change to try to reach the wipes himself. I feel like we’re getting a strong preview of the twos already!

I’ve been craving smoothies all week, probably since the weather has been warm. My favorite Daily Harvest smoothie is the Blueberry Hemp! Topped with some local granola we bought at Whole Foods.

Thomas and I stayed up late watching the championship on Monday night. B woke up at 2 and 5 that night, so I was dragging on Tuesday! We almost took Mazen to greet the team’s bus, but much to our disappointment he was way more interested in doing a lemonade stand on Tuesday so we didn’t push it.

I ordered the shrimp + orzo salad from Plenty and added some homemade dressing and pita chips for crunch. It made such a great quick lunch! (I love my marble folders!)

We had teriyaki salmon with broccoli and a side of brown rice we made at home for dinner on Tuesday.

Little elephant <3

Little kangaroo!

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