cancer

What’s on the Menu – How Fat Can Be Your Friend

When celebrity fitness trainer Vinnie Tortorich came on the Addicted to Fitness podcast (click here to listen to entire episode) last year, he made a statement that really resonated with me. He said

The worse thing about dietary fat is that it’s called FAT!

That one statement inspired me to look into the low-carb, high-fat (LCHF) lifestyle to determine if it suited me better than the not so low carb lifestyle I was participating in at the time. After subtracting certain items that contain refined carbs from my diet and adding more items that were high in healthy fats, I started feeling fuller, longer and was no longer hangry two hours after a meal.

There is one particular “fatty” food item that has been a part of my diet well before my shift to LCHF. I’ve been hearing about its health benefits for well over a decade and its versatility has made it a staple in Shannon and I’s kitchen. It can be used as a cooking oil, salad dressing, finishing sauce and even a skin care product. The multi-talented food item I’m referring to is olive oil and it’s this week’s menu spotlight.

Olive oil is a broad category of oil made from pressed olives. I realize that isn’t “breaking news,” but I wanted to mention that because the different types of olive oils at the supermarket can be quite overwhelming. If you’re looking for the variety that provides the most health benefits, you’ll want to stick with extra virgin olive oil (EVOO). Any other variety may use solvents to extract the oil or partially consist of cheaper, inflammatory oils.

Even though EVOO, purchased from a reputable producer, doesn’t contain any protein or carbs, it’s still highly nutritious. One hundred grams, which is about 7 tablespoons, of EVOO contains 72% of our recommended daily allowance (RDA) for Vitamin E and 75% of our RDA for Vitamin K (source), both of which can contribute to preventing cardiovascular disease. The micronutrients contained in olive oil are impressive but it’s the type of fat it contains that really sets it apart from other cooking oils.

EVOO consists primarily of monounsaturated fat. This type of fat is more heat-resistant, which means it is less likely to oxidize when used in cooking applications. This is one aspect of EVOO that makes it superior to other cooking oils like canola or even flax-seed, which consist primarily of polyunsaturated fat. Less oxidation means less free radical production, which can cause inflammation that may researchers believe is responsible for chronic health conditions like atherosclerosis, Alzheimer’s and cancer. Oh, and EVOO contains a ton of anti-inflammatory phenols and polyphenols to further combat those previously mention conditions (source).

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As you can imagine, I frequently use EVOO to saute veggies and as my go-to salad dressing (2 parts EVOO + 1 part vinegar). I also use it to make my baked sweet potatoes fries nice & crispy, add extra flavor to my fried eggs and add even more monounsaturated fat to my daily avocado snack.

I mentioned it quickly earlier in this post, but it is very important that you purchase your EVOO from a reputable producer to get the optimum amount of health benefits. There are two great books, Extra Virginity Real Food / Fake Food, that describe some of the deception associated with olive oil.

A couple quite tips I’ll give you in regards to purchasing EVOO are buy imported and make sure the container it comes in is NOT clear (light can cause oxidation over time). If you have a brand of EVOO that you swear by, I’d love to hear about it. Feel free to share it with us via email (elementaltampa@gmail.com) or snap a pic of the bottle and share it on our social channels (FacebookInstagram or Twitter) and don’t forget FAT DOESN’T MAKE YOU FAT!

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What’s on the Menu – The Best Smelling Health Food There Is

Most foods produce a distinct smell while cooking, but there is only a select few that elicit the “that smells awesome’ response from me while being prepared. The items that bring my olfactory senses to their figurative knees include:

  • Bacon: I know vegans that even enjoy the smell of cured pork bellies.
  • Coffee: Shannon didn’t drink caffeinated coffee while pregnant, but she loved smelling the beans.
  • Bread: We have a Cuban bakery in our neighborhood that makes me want to go on a carb binge every time I drive by.
  • Shallots: Doesn’t matter what meal is being prepared. If shallots are being used, I’m salivating and THAT’S one of the reasons why they are today’s menu spotlight.

Shallots belong to the Allium genus of vegetables, which also includes onions, leeks, garlic, etc. I’ve already declared my love for garlic in a previous menu spotlight (click here to check it out), and I often cook garlic & shallots together to double up on the mouth-watering aroma. As much as I would like Yankee Candle to carry a shallot scented candle, its perfume isn’t the main reason I love it so much.

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By weight, shallots contain more vitamins and minerals than its larger cousin the onion. Approximately one cup of shallots contains a significant amount of our recommended daily allowance (RDA) of Vitamin A, Vitamin B6, copper and iron. They also contain more antioxidants, by weight, than any other Allium vegetable (source). Research suggests that one particular antioxidant possessed by shallots can mitigate the damaging effects of several chronic health conditions.

When you chop or crush a shallot, you cause an enzymatic reaction that produces the sulfur containing antioxidant known as allicin. In specific scientific studies (source), this antioxidant has been shown to:

  • Reduce cholesterol.
  • Combat viral, bacterial and fungal infections.
  • Lower blood pressure.
  • Protect against certain forms of cancer.
  • Regulate blood sugar levels in diabetics.

Who would have thought that the onion mini-me would possess so many health benefits. Honestly, shallots taste & smell so good that I’d still use them even if they didn’t have all the health benefits.

Shallot pic

One recipe I frequently add shallots to is my breakfast bowl (pictured above). Besides shallots, the breakfast bowl includes dark leafy greens (spinach, kale, chard, etc.), mushrooms, mini sweet peppers, several eggs and diced tomatoes. I make sure to chop my shallots first because more allicin is produced the longer a chopped/crushed shallot goes uncooked. Next, I saute the mushrooms and peppers till soft (3-5 minutes), chop up a few tomatoes in the meantime, then throw in the greens & shallots for about a minute till the greens wilt.

Using the same pan I cooked the veggies, I fry up several over easy eggs in coconut oil. After the eggs are done, I slid them onto the cooked veggies, add the tomatoes & crushed red pepper and VOILA! Breakfast, lunch or dinner of champions.

If you’re a frequent shallot user, I’d love to hear about which dishes you add them to. Send your favorite recipe that features shallots to elementaltampa@gmail.com or reach out to us on social media (FacebookInstagram or Twitter).  I don’t think it will be better than my breakfast bowl, but there’s no shame in being runner-up.

 

What’s on the Menu – Let’s Talk Turkey

I may be guilty of propagating a myth about one of our nation’s founding fathers, Benjamin Franklin. In the Instagram post (link) promoting this week’s menu spotlight, I suggested that the wild turkey was in a race with the bald eagle to be on our nation’s seal.

I recall hearing that historical tidbit from a reliable source and when I went to find supporting research, I found a source that seemed to confirm my statement. Upon further research, it appears the idea of Franklin championing for the wild turkey to be our nation’s symbol way back in the 18th century isn’t entirely true.

According to excerpts from a letter authored by Franklin, he did believe that the wild turkey was a “bird of courage” more likely to chase off an intruder than the bald eagle, but did NOT suggest that the turkey should be a part of our nation’s seal. It appears that Franklin was somewhat apathetic to the idea of having a bird on our nation’s seal altogether (source). Regardless of the turkey’s moral character, the fact that it provides both significant macro & micronutrients is 100% accurate.

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You won’t find these types of turkeys at your grocery store

The turkey you pick up at the grocery store looks very different from the turkeys Benjamin Franklin was talking about. They may look different but their macronutrient content is very similar. Three ounces of turkey breast, without skin, contain 2 grams (g) of fat, 0 g of carbs and 26 g of protein (source). Not a great source of healthy fat or carbs, but a definite protein powerhouse. No surprise that you find turkey on a lot of meal plans for individuals looking to put on muscle.

Much like other animal-based protein sources, turkey is high in B vitamins, B3 & B6 in particular. B3, also known as niacin, is critical for the conversion of dietary macronutrients into usable energy including the production of glycogen. For those unfamiliar with glycogen, it is an animal starch stored in our muscles as fuel for future physical activity (source). This particular function of B3 is most likely why bodybuilders ingest supplemental forms of it to help them maintain their rigorous workout schedule.

Turkey also contains a significant amount of important dietary minerals. Zinc, copper, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, and iron are several minerals you’ll absorb eating turkey, but the mineral most abundant in turkey is selenium. A 4oz serving of turkey contains 62% of our DV of selenium, which is known to be a powerful antioxidant. With that said, it should come as no surprise that the consumption of turkey, and other poultry, has been shown to reduce the risk conditions/syndromes caused by oxidative stress like pancreatic cancer (source).

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Turkey doesn’t contain the amount of fat I normally prefer in my animal protein, but that’s an easy problem to fix. Shannon and I love using ground turkey (which does have added fat) to make burgers and I throw a couple slices of avocado on them to up their fat content. The combination of the protein from the turkey and the fat from the avocado makes for one satiating meal.

If you have a go-to turkey recipe that you think trumps my turkey burgers, please feel free to share it on our social media channels (FacebookInstagram or Twitter). You can also email it to us at elementaltampa@gmail.com.

Email is the best way to find out more about Elemental Training Tampa’s online training program. Get that personal training you’ve always wanted at a price that you can afford.

What’s On The Menu – Let’s Ketchup on this Micronutrient Superfruit

I apologize for the brevity of this post. I had a full blog written, with funny anecdotes and informative nutrition details about this week’s menu spotlight. Bbbbbbbuttttt, when I woke up yesterday morning to do the final edit, I discovered that I didn’t save it.

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My reaction when I realize I didn’t save this week’s blog

I don’t want to leave you all hanging this week, so the following is a short summary of why you need to start incorporating more tomatoes & tomato products, besides ketchup, into your diet.

  • Tomatoes’ macronutrient content isn’t anything spectacular – 1 medium size tomato contains no fat, 1 gram (g) of protein and 5 g of carbs; its carbs consist of mainly simple sugars & insoluble fiber (source).
  • Tomatoes’ micronutrient content is what really sets them apart – they contain a significant amount of vitamins (C, K & B-complex), minerals (molybdenum, potassium & copper) and antioxidants (lycopene, rutin, beta cartoene & many more – source).
  • The consumption of the micronutrients contained in tomatoes has been shown to mitigate certain health conditions – The vitamins, minerals and antioxidants contained in tomatoes have been shown to help with the treatment of high blood pressure, heart disease, degenerative vision conditions, depression and more (source). Lycopene, which tomatoes contain a significant amount of, has been shown in epidemiological & animal studies to lower the risk of certain types of cancer (source).
  • Shannon makes the best tomato dish EVA! –  Some may say this is an opinion, but if you’ve had Shannon’s Saucy Tomato Eggs, you would know it’s a fact. Do yourself a favor and click here to check out the recipe.

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Hopefully the wizards at WordPress can work some magic and recover the previous blog. If they do, I’ll update this one with any additional info.

In the meantime, please feel free to send us your favorite tomato recipes. Doesn’t matter if you like’em raw, stewed or smashed into a paste, send those recipes to us at elementaltampa@gmail.com. You can also send us pics of your go-to tomato dishes on social media (FacebookInstagram or Twitter).  Shannon and I will pick the most tasty looking one and repost it on all our channels.

What’s On The Menu – The Whole Food That Gets Invited to Every Party

If you’re one of the 11 people on the planet that haven’t heard the go-to mushroom joke, here you go

Q: Why did the mushroom get invited to all the parties?

A: Because he’s a FUN-GI!

Allow me to explain why that joke is somewhat comical for those who may not understand. Even though you find mushrooms in the produce section of the grocery store, they aren’t technically vegetables. They actually belong to a group more closely related to humans than plants known as the FUNGI (pronounced fun-guy) kingdom (source).

Let me know when you stop laughing?

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Image courtesy of suttons.co.uk

Now that you’ve had your chuckles, I want to enlighten you on the serious health benefits mushrooms can provide. One cup of raw white button mushrooms (pictured above) contains ~1 gram (g) of fat, 2 g of carbs and 3 grams of protein. You should also be aware that different varieties of mushrooms can provide different amounts of micro & macronutrients. For example, while white button mushrooms only have 3 g of protein per cup, large portabella mushrooms contain 5 g per cup (source). Not a tremendous difference but definitely important to individuals who are looking for more non-animal protein sources.

Mushrooms are certainly a great low-carb addition to any meal, but I believe the real benefits lie in their micronutrients. They contain a significant amount of vitamin B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B5 (pantothenic acid) and B9 (folate). B vitamins play a major role in our energy levels and red blood cell formation, but they’re also important for brain health and fetal development (source).

Mushrooms are also the only non-animal, non-fortified source of vitamin D. This is a big reason why mushrooms are a frequent component of the vegan diet. The best dietary sources of vitamin D usually come from the animal kingdom OR processed foods enriched with vitamins and minerals (source). The naturally occurring vitamin D in mushrooms is important to several bodily functions & systems, but recent research suggest that its biggest benefit may be cancer prevention.

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The results of two separate studies, one published in 2015 and the other published this year, suggested that specific varieties of mushrooms demonstrated the ability to suppress the genetic markers associated with certain types of cancer (source). I don’t care how funny they are, mushroom’s ability to fight off the Big C is a much better reason to have them at your next party.

That’s a call back people.

Speaking of calls. You should schedule a Skype call with yours truly to discuss your current health & fitness plan. I’d love to provided you with tips on exercise, nutrition or accountability. All you have to do is send me an email at elementaltampa@gmail.com. You can also email us your delicious mushroom recipes or share a pic of your favorite mushrooms dish on our social channels (FacebookInstagram or Twitter).

What’s on the Menu – The one soft drink that doesn’t make me sick to my stomach

Yes. There is an actual difference between ginger ale and ginger beer, at least in theory. Traditional ginger beers, use fermentation to create the carbonation & usually yield a stronger ginger flavor. Ginger beer can contain alcohol, but most available nowadays do not. Ginger ale on the other hand is sweetened soda water with added ginger flavor (source). Even though I believe soft drinks can cause serious health problems, these two ginger sodas do offer moderate health benefits, but it’s certainly not because of their sugar content.

There is a reason why they offer you a ginger ale on the plane if you’re feeling nauseous. Studies performed in the last 10 years suggest that ginger can not only help with your run of the mill upset stomach, but it can also alleviate the nausea associated with sea sickness, chemotherapy and pregnancy. It’s important to know that they did not use ginger ale in these research studies. They actually determined that 1-1.5 g of ginger (raw or powdered) could alleviate symptoms associated with these various types of nausea (source). The medicinal effects of ginger don’t stop there.

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Ginger also contains a powerful anti-inflammatory compound known as gingerol (clever name).  This compound has been linked to the reduction of certain side effects of chronic health conditions like osteoarthritis, type 2 diabetes and cancer. In fact, several recent studies have determined that gingerols “may be effective chemopreventive and/or chemotherapeutic agents” in the treatment of colorectal and ovarian cancers (source). The relief of day-to-day muscle pain provided by gingerol is another beneficial aspect.

In 2010, a small study conducted at the University of Georgia suggested that regular ginger supplementation could reduce exercise-induced muscle pain (source). As someone who essentially lives at the gym, this quality alone makes throwing a couple hunks of ginger in my smoothie or afternoon tea worth the spicy kick.

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Much like garlic, I’ve eaten whole hunks of ginger root. However, the intense flavor can be a little much. Which is why I love cooking with it instead of swallowing it whole. I’m a big fan of sauteing up minced ginger in a pan before I toss in vegetables and shrimp for a delicious stir fry. I know it’s a big component of Asian cooking, but I’ve found that it can provide a whole new flavor to a variety of dishes.

I’d love to hear your preferred method of consuming ginger. As long as the recipe doesn’t contain the words “Canada Dry” feel free to send them to elementaltampa@gmail.com or just tweet us a picture the next time you cook with it. Our Twitter and Instagram handle is @ettampa. Let’s connect!

What’s on the Menu – Expiration dates need not apply

I’m a huge Anthony Bourdain fan. I know I’ve said it before, but he is my man crush. He’s a badass chef, a killer writer and trains jiu-jitsu nonstop. Besides the decades of substance abuse, I’d definitely want to be him if I could switch bodies for a day. One of the main reason I want Bourdain’s life is he gets to travel the world and eat unique and sometimes unusual cuisine. One such trip, which was documented on this CNN show Parts Unknown, took him to Denmark and the “science bunker” of the often #1 rated restaurant in the world, Noma. There he got to taste numerous food items in various stages of fermentation. Fortunately for us, we don’t have to travel to Denmark to reap the benefits of fermented foods.

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Inside the Noma Science Bunker (pic courtesy of eater.com)

Fermented foods are all the rage nowadays. You can find them at grocery stores, farmers markets and juice bars. You can even find them at baseball stadiums. You may have several fermented foods in your fridge and not even know it. Common fermented foods include: yogurt, miso, sauerkraut, natto and kimchi, which is today’s menu spotlight.

The nutritional value of the vegetables used to make Kimchi are actually enhanced due to the fermentation process. The primary bacteria responsible for Kimchi’s fermentation, Lactobacillus plantarum, not only increases the numerous vitamins and minerals contained in the vegetables, it also increases important bioactive compounds like thiocyanate and glucosinolate. These compounds have been linked to possible treatments for various health conditions such as cancer, obesity and atherosclerosis just to name a few. Kimchi also happens to be a natural probiotic that promotes proper gut health (source). Sounds like a miracle food right? I think it is and what’s even more amazing is that you can make this miracle food at home for next to nothing.

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Making homemade kimchi is so ridiculously easy that I’m pissed at myself that I haven’t done it yet. The only supplies you’ll probably need to invest in are several glass mason jars with screw on lids. Other than that it’s just vegetables and spices. Check out the video below to see how easy it is to prepare (sorry for the commerical).

If you already make your own homemade kimchi, let us know about your recipe. We’d love to share a pic of your delicious fermented veggies on our social media channels. Feel free to send any and all feedback to elementaltampa@gmail.com or reach out to us on social media. We’re not afraid to “fanboy” over the greatness of kimchi in a public forum.

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.