Green Break-Fast

IMG_6570Greens are the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet. Increase your intake of leafy greens and you instantly add fiber, antioxidants, anti-inflammatory properties, disease fighting compounds. A green smoothie is one of the simplest ways to incorporate tremendous amounts of greens into your diet and having it for breakfast is even more powerful for your body.

Breakfast comes from the phrase “breaking one’s fast”. When we use the word breakfast we normally think of it as a noun. I want to suggest it can also be used as a verb. “I had a delicious breakfast today” vs. “it’s a great idea to break-fast on a green smoothie.”

We fast everyday. A fast is a period of time where we don’t eat, which is what we do every night while sleeping. The time spent not eating gives the digestive system a much-needed rest, which in turn redirects energy toward detoxification and cellular repair. As a result the digestive system works more efficiently, which for us means absorbing more nutrients, proper elimination of toxins, more energy and stronger immune systems.

This important cleansing process can be extended even maximized if we break-fast with a blended green smoothie. After the digestive system has time to rest during the night, one should ease back into eating and digesting. The blending breaks down most of the cells in the greens and fruits making nutrient absorption effortless. Smoothies contain all the fiber of the fruits and veggies that keep your appetite satisfied. What better way to begin your day? Making healthy choices throughout the rest of day is influenced by the way we start it.

Another relevant point to mention is while breakfast may be the most important meal of the day, it shouldn’t be a heavy meal and it certainly shouldn’t be a sugary meal. But for many people, breakfast has become a giant sugar fix. Think about it – cereal, granola, bread, pancakes, and muffins. These are all just adding sugar to our bodies. That’s not to say we should eliminate all things sweet but getting it from the fruit in a smoothie is much healthier. So the break-fast green smoothie also helps tackle our sugar dependency.

As we begin to enter winter, it’s even more important to have a green smoothie to help keep our immune systems strong throughout cold and flu season. If cold food in the morning doesn’t sound appealing, there are some simple adjustments you can make. Use warm water to create a comforting soup smoothie that still gives the benefits of the raw veggies. Another suggestion is to add a bit of healthy fat to help keep you satisfied like avocado or hemp seeds. My personal favorite is to add warming spices to your ingredients such as ginger, cayenne or turmeric to create deep warmth. All three spices possess anti-inflammatory properties as well as other health benefits. Cayenne helps with pain relief, clears congestion, and its vitamin A content boosts immunity.

One Healthy Breakdown: Break your fast with a green smoothie to boost your energy, your immune system, and your digestive system while kicking the sugar out of your breakfast!

Tips and Tahini with Local Health Coach

I recently sat down with Marie Weller, Certified Holistic Health Counselor, to pick her healthy brain and learn some nutrition tips for One Healthy Hamptons.  Marie is certified by the Institute of Integrative Nutrition.  She is a private health coach and is currently involved in the Wellness Foundation, doing great things here in the Hamptons.

001_0723AMarie has a very realistic and refreshing view to nutrition, “it’s about what you do most of the time.”  Although she sticks to a plant-based, whole foods diet herself, Marie acknowledges that everyone is different and her practice customizes a plan according to each individual’s goals and lifestyle.  Specific diet recommendations vary depending on each person’s preferences, beliefs, and sensitivities, but in general, whether the goal is to decrease medication, prevent disease, or lose weight, the two most important and common recommendations include drinking more water and eating more vegetables.  It’s easier to feel good about adding to your diet, rather than restricting; so instead of cutting things out of your diet and feeling constrained, it’s about adding in more nutrients and feeling good about it.
Health coaching isn’t just about giving advice and educating people, because, as Marie says, most of us know what we should be doing (we do, don’t we?), it’s about identifying one or two small goals at a time and putting them into practice.  She suggests committing to new one change every day for two weeks, that way it becomes habit without seeming daunting – there’s an end in sight.  Usually, by the end of two weeks, people grow accustomed to the healthy change, they begin to feel positive benefits, and they will hopefully continue long-term as a result.

In order to increase water and veggie consumption, Marie suggests purchasing a reusable water bottle and choosing four times a day to devote to drinking, starting first thing in the morning.  Right after waking up (even before coffee) drink a glass or two of water, that’s when your body really needs to rehydrate after a night’s sleep.  As soon as you start thinking about lunch or dinner, have another glass or two before the meal, and definitely before, during, and after exercising.

As for increasing veggie consumption, Marie suggests a green smoothie for breakfast so that you’ve started your day with ample nutrients and set yourself up for success.   She suggests a simple blend of greens (spinach, kale, and/or romaine) flax, fruit, and a protein (like hemp seeds.)  This way, it’s ok (once in a while) if lunch is something on-the-go or not as healthy because you’ve already gotten your greens in.

Although leafy greens are most important, everyone’s tastes are different and all vegetables have nutrients.  Marie suggests switching it up by picking up one new veggie a week during your grocery store or farmer’s market trip.  You’ll expand your horizons and continue adding healthy go-to veggie recipes to your repertoire.

Vegetables are so versatile.  The possibilities are endless and most veggies are delicious with very little prep work, sometimes none.   One of Marie’s favorite tips for quick veggie recipes is to keep the following salad dressing/veggie dip/sauce on hand.  With this go-to dressing, you’re ready to snack, munch or cook lots of possible meals.

Lemon-Tahini Dressing:
• 1/4 cup raw tahini
• 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
• 1/4 cup nutritional yeast (optional but yummy)
• 1/4 tsp. sea salt
• 1 – 3 garlic cloves peeled
• 1/2 cup water
• Blend for 1 min in vitamix or blender

When making a dressing, marinade or stir-fry sauce, make a little thinner.  When making a veggie snack dip, make a little thicker.  So simple, so many possibilities!

One Healthy Breakdown: small goals, whole foods, lots of greens, and drink your water!