diet

What’s On The Menu – Pasture Raised Chicken: Is It Worth It?

I, like many of you, am faced with a variety of chicken choices when I go to the grocery store each week. Do I buy organic, free-range, pasture raised or conventionally raised? The choices seem to be growing by the year, but is one superior to the other?

Much like beef, I believe that chickens raised in a way that closely resembles the lives their wild ancestors live (e.g. 24/7 access to open pastures & ability to forge for insects and other food sources) provides a better animal welfare situation than that of birds caged in confined quarters.

When looking into potential environmental impacts of pasture raised chickens, the research is mixed. Some individuals contend that pasture raised chickens take more resources to produce (source) while other cite the facts that these chickens eliminate the need for fertilizer and their food sources don’t require any herbicides to produce (source).

Those aspects are important to consider when purchasing your chicken, but the main goal of this week’s menu spotlight is to determine if pasture raised chicken is nutritionally superiority to its conventional counterpart.

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Let’s take a quick look at the macronutrients contained in both pasture & conventionally raised chicken. One cup of a roasted chicken breast contains 231 calories, 43 grams (g) of protein, 5 g of fat and 0 g of carbs. It should be noted that different parts of the chicken, skin-on or skin-off, contain different nutritional values. No matter what part of the chicken you prefer, they all contain a substantial amount of protein.

To determine which one is nutritional superior, were going to have to look at their respective micronutrients. Luckily, the American Pastured Poultry Producers Association (APPPA) performed a study in 2013 comparing the micronutritional difference between pasture raised and non-pasture raised chickens. The results of their study showed that pasture raised chickens were higher in vitamin D3 and E, both of which are important to mitigating auto immune diseases.

The APPPA study also discovered that the pasture raised chicken contained an omega 6 to omega 3 fatty acid ratio of 5:1 while the standard 6:3 ratio for conventionally raised chicken is 15:1 (source). This is important because recent research suggest that foods containing large amounts of omega 6’s (e.g. vegetable oils & fast food) could lead to inflammatory disease like cardiovascular disease, obesity, cancer, and more (source).

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After looking at the preliminary evidence, I have reached a verdict: pasture raised chicken is nutritional superior. Yes, a pasture raised chicken from the store or a local farmer could cost 2-3 times more than a conventionally raised chicken, but like the old saying goes “You get what you pay for.” If chicken is one of your primary protein sources, and you are interested in optimizing your nutrition, you may want to think about forking over the extra dough.

If you’re a regular consumer of pasture raised chicken, I’d love to hear some of your go to recipes. One of my favorite recipes that uses chicken, pasture raised or not, is chicken pot pie soup (recipe link). I skip the pie crust and do my best to use gluten-free ingredients, but I highly recommed you do yourself a favor and make it tonight! Feel free to send a pic of your delicious chicken recipe to us on social media (FacebookInstagram or Twitter) or you can email it to elementaltampa@gmail.com.

You can also take advantage of the complimentary fitness consultations we’re currently offering by emailing us. Whether you need advice on nutrition or just want workout tips, I’d be happy to set up an appointment with you to discuss how you can improve your fitness.

What’s On The Menu – More Than Just The Freshmaker

How did mint become the go-to car air freshener scent? Was it good marketing? Did people like how that green leaf looked hanging from their rear view mirror?

It’s visual appeal could be a possible reason but I think it has more to do with how the scent affects our biology. A study performed in the early 2000s found that the smell of peppermint actually affected the amount of anxiety, fatigue and physical demand experienced by drivers on prolonged trips in the car. The study suggested that “periodic administration of (peppermint) odors over long-term driving may prove beneficial in maintaining alertness and decreasing highway accidents and fatalities” (source). Cognitive benefits are just the start to the positive health benefits of this refreshing herb.

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I constantly tell you about the high antioxidant content of certain fruits and vegetables, but I don’t seem to give as much recognition to herbs. Shame on me because mint, which is a broad term for 15-20 different species, contains one of the highest antioxidant capacity of any food. One particular antioxidant contained in mint, rosmarinic acid, has been shown to be an effective natural treatment for seasonal allergies. Also, if you already have the sniffles due to the common cold, menthol contained within mint plants has been long regarded as a natural decongestant because of its ability to break up phlegm and mucus (source).

The benefits of mint not only alleviate cold like symptoms, they can also help prevent you from getting a cold or some other type of infection. Peppermint oil has been shown to stop the growth of certain types of fungus and bacteria including the nasty MRSA. It’s also a good source of vitamin C, which can help improve the performance of our immune system (source). Speaking of performance, mint may be the PED all athletes can use without fear of getting busted.

I already mentioned one study that demonstrated how peppermint enhanced the performance of drivers, but can it do the same for athletes? A study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Medicine in 2013 discovered that individuals that ingested a minute amount of peppermint essential oil displayed improvements in exercise performance, blood pressure, respiratory rate, and several other related categories. The researchers believe that these improvements were due to the herb’s ability to relax bronchial smooth muscles, increase ventilation & brain oxygen concentrations and decrease blood lactate levels (source). That means that if you can run and chew gum at the same time, you may have a leg up on your competition.

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I always try to chew gum while working out, except for disciplines that require me to wear a mouthpiece (e.g. kickboxing, grappling, etc.). I’m sure it helps me concentrate but I use it mainly to prevent dry mouth. I use the crappy sugar-free stuff you get at the grocery store, which is peppermint flavored but I doubt has any real peppermint in it. Maybe I’ll perform a little experiment on yours truly to see if ingesting peppermint essential oil has a beneficial effect on my workout performance. Stay tuned for that!

In the meantime, I’d love to hear how you like to incorporate mint into your diet. I enjoy throwing a handful of mint leaves into a tall glass of club soda with lime, essentially making a non-alcoholic mojito. Please feel free to share your minty fresh recipes with us on our social media (FacebookInstagram or Twitter) or email them to elementaltampa@gmail.com.

You can also take advantage of the free fitness consultations I’m currently offering by emailing me.

Last but not least, we’d really appreciate it if you vote for Addicted to Fitness for the “best local podcast” in the Creative Loafing Best of the Bay contest. Click the following link to cast your vote. Thanks!

 

What’s on the Menu – Dark Chocolate: Brain Candy

If you’ve checked out the “About” section of elementaltampa.com you would know that I wasn’t always as health conscious as I am right now. There was a point in my life where I didn’t care about a food’s nutritional content, calories and/or ingredients. My taste buds determined what I ate and that usually meant refined grains and sugar. Pasta, crackers, chips, fast food and of course CANDY! I was fortunate enough to pull up from the nutritional tailspin that I was in and now my cravings for “treats” has evolved.

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I discovered that once I kicked processed foods out of my diet, my taste buds started being more appreciative of the flavor of whole foods, especially sweet items. This epiphany marks the point when my love for dark chocolate really began. I always liked chocolate, but it was mainly milk chocolate that consisted of more sugar than actual cacao. Once I modified my diet, I started gravitating more to dark chocolate with at least 70% cacao. I now enjoy Ghirardelli’s 86% cacao dark chocolate, which contains less than 2 grams of sugar per 1×1 inch square. I’m trying to condition my taste buds to enjoy the highest cacao content possible not just because it contains no sugar, but because of its numerous health benefits.

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Much like the previous menu “spotlights” in this blog, dark chocolate with high cacao %’s contain extremely high levels of antioxidants. These antioxidants reduce the presence of free radicals, which can be responsible for chronic diseases/syndromes like type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, hypertension and even cancer. In addition to its antioxidantive properties, dark chocolate may be one of the world’s most powerful “brainfoods” (source).

A 2009 study documented an improvement in the cognitive function (e.g. problem solving, memory recall, perception, etc.) of elderly adults that consumed foods rich in flavonoids like dark chocolate. The flavonoids in dark chocolate also promote cerebral blood flow which could help individuals who suffer from dementia or strokes (source). Hopefully these health benefits will motivate you to add a few pieces of dark chocolate to those Easter baskets you may be putting together in a few weeks.

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If you have a killer recipe that features dark chocolate, please send it our way. You can post it in the comment section below or email it to us at elementaltampa@gmail.com. Also, please share these blog posts with a friend. Help us spread the good word of proper nutrition.

Addicted To Fitness Show Notes – A Conversation with the Creators of the Hemp & Coffee Exchange

I go into each podcast with a general outline of what topics I want Shannon and I to address, but we rarely stick to our outline. I’m not complaining because these seemingly scheduled detours lead to great conversations. Which is why it was no surprise to me that this week’s episode of Addicted to Fitness unfolded in a way that I could have never imagined.

We took the podcast on the road this week to meet with the creators of an innovative coffee beverage. Jeremy Denny and Brett Schwencke are the owners/operators of the Hemp & Coffee Exchange, which focuses on providing “sustainable and progressive products to the conscientious consumer by focusing on renewable hemp merchandise and high quality consumables.” Their premier “high quality consumable” is a super coffee that combines the nutritional benefits of hemp hearts or seeds with single origin green coffee beans that they roast themselves. I was first turned on to their product by seeing a bag of it at my local coffee shop. This discovery led Shannon and I to take a trip out to Jeremy’s “Tiny Ranch” for a taste test of their products. What we got was an experience of a lifetime.

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Before we sat down for the podcast, Jeremy showed us around his small estate, introduced us to his four legged friends and demonstrated his affinity to a sustainable lifestyle. After our tour, Shannon and I sat down with Brett and Jeremy and began going over the history of the The Hemp & Coffee exchange. Jeremy’s extensive culinary experience combined with Brett’s knowledge of the hemp industry allowed them to create a unique product that meant both of their ridiculously high standards. Jeremy explained how combining hemp with coffee can provide additional macro and micronutrients not normally found in coffee like omega 3 & 6 fatty acids and fiber. Brett informed us that not only is hemp nutritionally beneficial, but farming it in the United States, where it is currently illegal to mass produce, could help rejuvenate our dwindling agriculture industry. Shannon and I were sold on the nutritional and environmental aspects of the super coffee, but what about the taste?

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The first blend we tasted was a combination of hemp seeds and coffee. Our first immediate reaction was that it tasted very similar to tea. We were both drinking it black and were surprised by how subtle the flavor was. Shannon normally can’t handle black coffee, but she had no problem with this blend. We then tasted the combination of the hemp hearts and coffee. Right away I could tell that I preferred this one. The hemp hearts provided a creamy and nutty flavor similar to that of my non-dairy bulletproof coffee. Interesting enough, Jeremy and Brett stated that their hemp coffee provided the same nutritional benefits, if not more than that of bulletproof coffee. Take that Dave Asprey!

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Jeremy and Brett from the THCexhange

I hope I’ve conveyed the fact that this episode is much more than just a taste test or interview podcast. You really have to listen to the episode to get the full scope of the discussion. Our conversation with Jeremy and Brett was not only educational, it was inspirational. Meeting and speaking with like minded people that are focused on sustainability, whether it be environmentally or nutritionally, is one of the main objectives of the Addicted to Fitness podcast. Do yourself a favor and order a bag of super coffee on the Hemp & Coffee Exchange website, and connect with Jeremy and Brett on their various social channels (Facebook, Instagram and Twitter).

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We really hope you enjoy episodes like this. If you do, please let us know. You can send us feedback at elementaltampa@gmail.com or leave us a rating and review in iTunes. We hope you enjoy the podcast as much as we enjoy producing it. Thanks again for your support and stay healthy this week peeps!

Links to this week’s episode

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/conversation-creators-hemp-coffee-exchange/id1121420986?i=1000381428238&mt=2

Android: http://subscribeonandroid.com/addictedtofitness.libsyn.com/rss

Website: http://addictedtofitness.libsyn.com/a-conversation-with-the-creators-of-the-hemp-coffee-exchange

 

What’s on the Menu – Following KISS

I’ve discovered that following KISS has brought a certain level of ease to my life. Just to clarify I’m not talking about the rock band Kiss. I’m referring to the acronym KISS, which stands for “Keep It Simple Stupid.” I try to apply KISS to all aspects of my life, but one aspect in which I use it the most is my nutrition. I’ve tried my best to convey my predisposition to consuming food & drink that consists of the fewest whole ingredients possible. Which is why it should be no surprise that my preferred protein powder consists of only one ingredient.

The ever expanding selection of protein powders has, in my opinion, reached a ridiculous level. Trying to be educated on the laundry list of ingredients contained in certain protein powders can be even more overwhelming. That’s why I use collagen hydrolysate from Great Lakes when I want to add a little protein to my morning coffee or veggie & fruit smoothie. This brand of collagen hydrolysate is created by the application of heat and/or enzymes to beef collagen from grass fed cows to change its molecular weight. The change in molecular weight is what gives the hydrolysate the ability to dissolve in both hot and cold liquids. Not only does it dissolve in essentially any beverage, it is LEGITIMATELY unflavored. They don’t add any real or artificial sweeteners in an attempt to make your healthy meal replacement drink into a nummy milkshake. Nutritionally speaking, 1 tbsp contains 25 calories, 6g of protein and 0g of both carbs and fat. It is a pure protein that is high in amino acids like glycine, lysine and proline which are essential for the growth of hair, skin, muscle, cartilage and ligament cells (source). Oh and the price? Try about $23 for the can pictured below, which contains about thirty-one 2 tbsp servings. I’ll admit that the health benefits and affordability of this protein supplement are enticing, but it’s the recommendations from health & nutrition professionals I trust that really sold me on it.

I’ve heard nutrition experts like Vinnie Tortorich, Anna Vocino and Dr. Rhonda Patrick recommend Great Lakes collagen hydrolysate many times. I’ve even seen Tim Ferriss feature it in a recent video about his morning routine. I trust these experts and appreciate the fact that this particular protein powder matches my KISS approach to nutrition. Let us know if you practice KISS and which areas of your life you apply it to. Feel free to send us feedback at nick@elementaltampa.com or hit us up on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.

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What’s on the Menu – Grocery Shopping Prerequisite

We’ve all done it. It’s a mistake that I’m sure grocery stores are happy people make week in and week out. No, I’m not talking about forgetting your reusable grocery bags. I’m talking about going to the grocery store HUNGRY.

We seemed to be focused on grocery shopping this week on elementaltampa.com, and for good reason. The choices you make at the grocery store can have a significant effect on how you look and feel. You may not realize it but those choices can be influenced by the level of hunger you have before you step into the grocery store. In as 2013 study, researchers found that individuals that went grocery shopping while “hungry” were more likely buy high-caloric unhealthy foods (chips, candy, etc.) than those that ate before shopping for groceries. Another study confirmed these findings by documenting individuals that went grocery shopping before dinner time, 4-7pm, buying more unhealthy foods than those people that went shopping after lunch, 1-4pm (source). The “feast or famine” mentality left over from our primitive ancestors may want us to eat everything in sight when we’re hungry, but there are certain steps we can take to prevent us from bringing home a barrel sized container of cheese balls.

Shannon and I have discovered several ways to prevent impulse buys while grocery shopping, but none work as well as eating before you go. A couple of our go to pre-grocery shopping snacks are raw cashews and/or cured meat with cheese. Both snacks are nutritious (cashews: 6g fat, 4g carbs, 2.5g protein per ounce; genoa+provolone: 26 g fat, 21g protein, no carbs per package), shareable, portable and most importantly satiating. I’ve, and some scientific research, found that foods containing a significant amount of protein and/or fat will help you stay fuller longer and hold back that pesky hunger hormone gherlin.

Hopefully you are already practicing this pre-grocery shopping ritual. If so, send us pictures of your pre-grocery shopping snacks. We’re always looking to expand our repertoire.

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What’s on the Menu – Cauliflower: The Veggie Drawer’s Utility Player

If you all are anything like me, you knew when your mom or dad was cooking cauliflower for dinner. Hell, you could probably smell it before you even walked in the house. In today’s post, we’re going to go over several reasons why you should eat cauliflower, but I get why kids don’t exactly go crazy when they see it on the dinner table. The smell, the stark white appearance and the overall bland flavor would turn off any 8 year old. The beauty of this “blank canvas” of a veggie is in its versatility and the fact that it is a nutritional “powerhouse“.

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Cauliflower belongs to the cruciferous vegetable family, which includes other highly nutritious veggies like kale, broccoli and turnips. One cup of cauliflower contains 5g of carbs with over half of those carbs coming from fiber. The phytonutrients contained in cauliflower include a significant amount of Vitamin C, K and folate. It also contains an organic compound known as glucosinolates, which when broken down during the cooking process produces cauliflower’s less than appetizing smell, but also produces several other compounds that have been found to have anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative effects (source).

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You know me, I’ll sacrifice taste for a nutritional payoff (e.g. sardines). Luckily, cauliflower is so adaptable that you can use it to make some of your favorite carby side dishes. Instead of white rice, try riced cauliflower (pictured above). Instead of tater tots, try cauliflower tots. Instead of a wheat based pizza crust, try a cauliflower pizza crust. Yes that’s a real thing! Former guest of the Addicted to Fitness podcast Anna Vocino has an awesome cauliflower pizza crust recipe on here website. Give her recipe a shot and let me know how it comes out. We’d love to see pictures of how you dress up your cauliflower.

What’s on the Menu – The Other Red Meat

If you’ve been paying attention to my weekly menu spotlights, you’ve probably realized that I don’t discriminate when it comes to food. Well, that’s not entirely true. I do my best to stay away from anything that contains refined sugars and grains, but other than that I’m an omnivore through and through. I say that because last week’s post and today’s post feature foods that are not exactly vegan friendly. I want my vegan friends to know that I’m not discriminating against you all. Shannon is a former vegan and she still makes some delicious vegan dishes and I promise to feature one in an upcoming post. But today’s post is dedicated to very special type of red meat.

The steaks featured below can’t be found in the grocery store. They don’t come from any factory farms or feedlots. They come from the fields, woods, and prairies. These are steaks from a whitetail deer. Deer meat, better known as venison, along with other wild game meat tend to have lower caloric and fat content but equal amounts of protein compared to meat from conventionally raised livestock. Venison in particular has approximately 150 calories, 24 g of protein and 1.5 g of fat per 3.5 ounce serving (source). Any regular readers of the blog will know that I am not afraid of fat so the idea of the meat having less fat doesn’t exactly thrill me, but venison and other wild game have a better ratio of omega 6 to omega 3 fatty acids, which researchers have found could help mitigate certain chronic diseases/conditions (source). Eating wild game like venison not only provides nutritional benefits, it also allows you to be less reliant on factory farmed meat.

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Legit wild game is not regulated by the USDA, which means it cannot be sold in supermarkets. I believe this is a good thing because it inspires people to take up hunting or in most instances, connect with a friend or family member that does hunt. Having grown up in a hunting family, I can tell you from experience that hunters are extremely generous when it comes to sharing their harvest. Take these folks up on their generosity because the less reliant we are on meat from factory farms, the better off we, and the planet, will be.

If you already eat wild game on a regular basis, let us know what your favorite type and preparation method is. Feel free to contact us elementaltampa@gmail.com with any recipes.