minerals

What’s On The Menu – How To Make A Sustainable Cup of Joe

Besides nutrition and exercise, coffee has to be the most popular subject matter on elementaltampa.com. I took a quick look and I’ve written 3 blog posts and recorded 3 Addicted to Fitness podcasts that discuss the benefits of my favorite beverage. This week’s menu spotlight will be yet another ode to one of my beloved coffee beverages.

If you listen to this week’s ATF podcast (episode link) you would have heard that we’ve been fortunate enough to partner with an awesome company called The Hemp & Coffee Exchange. THC_exchange produces a

Super coffee blend of intelligently sourced hemp seeds, hearts, and green coffee beans.

If that product description sounds familiar to our longtime followers, it’s because we interviewed the creators of The Hemp & Coffee Exchange earlier this year for an episode of ATF, which I encourage you all to go back and listen to (episode link). I learned from that interview that their hemp-coffee blend is not only delicious but offers more nutritional & environmental benefits than the coffee you can buy at the grocery store.

thcpodcast1

Jeremy & Brett, creators of The Hemp & Coffee Exchange

The health benefits of coffee have been mentioned numerous times on this blog, but I think they always deserve repeating. Several of the positive health benefits associated with coffee consumption include:

  • Two or more cups of coffee could prevent alcohol induced cirrhosis by up to 66% (source)
  • Studies have shown that drinking coffee can result in a significant reduction in prostate cancer (source)
  • Studies have shown that the caffeine in coffee can improve performance in endurance events (source) FUN FACT: caffeine was considered a performance enhancing drug by the Olympic drug testing agency until 2004
  • Studies have linked coffee consumption to the reduction in the development of both Alzheimer’s disease and dementia (source)

THC_exchange uses high quality coffee beans, which they roast themselves, to produce their product, but the health benefits of this “sustainable super coffee blend” don’t stop there. The incorporation of hemp provides numerous important water-soluble nutrients like omega 3 & 6 fatty acids (specifically gamma-linolenic acid), amino acids and several important vitamins and minerals (source). The use of hemp is also important to another tenet held by the creators of THC_exchange, sustainability.

During our interview, THC_exchange creators told us that they believed that hemp could revitalize the United States agricultural industry. Not only is it a phenomenal cover crop, but it also re-introduces nutrients to the soil, takes minimal water & resources to maintain and has numerous industrial uses (e.g. livestock feed, textiles, building materials, etc.). Unfortunately mass production of non-psychoactive hemp is currently illegal in the United States, but products like THC_exchange coffee demonstrate its benefits and importance.

Screenshot 2017-10-26 at 6.21.57 PM

All these nutritional & environmental benefits aren’t even the main reason why I love this hemp-coffee blend so much. I can say without hesitation that it is one of the most flavorful ground coffees I’ve ever had. You all know how much I love coffee. I post a coffee pic on social media almost every day!

If THC_exchange’s coffee tasted crappy, no amount of health or environmental benefits could make me drink it, let along recommend it to others. Both varieties of their hemp-coffee blends have unique flavor profiles and they even offer a no hemp, whole bean option for those who aren’t ready to add a little hemp to their morning coffee.

I encourage you to head to THC_exchange’s website (link) to learn more about their values and products. If this post has compelled you to try one of their hemp-coffee blends, please use the code “ATF” at checkout to get a 20% discount. Let me know what you think and please feel free to share a pic of your cup of THC_exchange coffee with us on social media (FacebookInstagram or Twitter).

Advertisements

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.

Screenshot 2017-10-05 at 2.37.13 PM

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.

wild-turkeys-2080364_1920 (1)

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).

Screenshot 2017-08-24 at 10.28.29 AM

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.

pexels-photo-52608

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.

Screenshot 2017-08-16 at 3.56.43 PM

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 – Get’em while their fresh

Today’s menu spotlight is asparagus, which is why I want to address the stinky elephant in the room right off the bat. Yes, most people experience some unpleasant odors when they visit the restroom after eating asparagus. The reason why is a chemical contained exclusively in asparagus known as asparagusic acid.

Clever name right?

When digested, this chemical produces foul-smelling sulfur-containing compounds. As unpleasant as this olfactory side effect may be, it pales in comparison to the health benefits eating asparagus can provide (source).

Asparagus is full of healthy micronutrients but the one that is most prominent is vitamin K. One cup of asparagus contains over 100% of our daily value (DV) for vitamin K. This vitamin is essentially necessary for blood clotting. Studies have also found that the vitamin K in asparagus could help increase bone density, while decrease fracture rates among individuals with osteoporosis (source). The health benefits of vitamin K are extremely important, but asparagus contains a large amount of a another nutrient that I’m much more interested in, especially at this point in my life.

pexels-photo-416594

The day this blog is posted, my wife Shannon will be 27 weeks pregnant. Anyone that has gone through this process knows that proper nutrition is a HUGE part of a healthy pregnancy. One component of pregnancy nutrition is making sure the woman receives an adequate amount of certain nutrients. Folate happens to be one of those nutrients and asparagus contains over 60% of our DV per cup. Folate aids in several functions critical to a developing fetus like preventing neural-tube defects, red blood cell formation and DNA construction (source).

Which is why it’s safe to assume that I’ve been essentially force feeding Shannon anything high in folate over the last six months. We’ll have to cross asparagus off that list soon because its peak growing season has nearly ended and freshness definitely affects the plant’s nutrient density.

Asparagus is a spring time crop. Yes you can buy canned and frozen asparagus year round, but the plant’s biology drastically reduces its available nutrients once it’s harvested. You may not know this but plants don’t instantly “die” once they’re picked. Metabolic functions continue to occur and in asparagus, these functions occur at a very rapid rate. In fact, asparagus’ post harvest “metabolism” is approximately 5 times greater than onions and potatoes stored at room temperature. This fact is why the George Mateljan Foundation recommends eating asparagus within 48 hours of purchasing (source).

Menu pic 6-22

Hopefully this post inspires you to grab some fresh asparagus if you see it at the grocery store or farmer’s market this weekend. It may be your last opportunity! If you do grab an asparagus bunch during your next shopping trip, please let us know. Feel free to snap a pic and tweet it to us or post it on our Facebook page (FacebookInstagram or Twitter). We want to know if you were able to enjoy fresh asparagus before the season ends this year.

In addition to your asparagus pics, you can also contact us at elementaltampa@gmail.com to take advantage of the complimentary fitness consultations we’re currently offering. 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 – Celiac disease or not, this gluten free item is a must

I do my best to avoid anything made with refined wheat flour. Over the past decade, I’ve heard that the overconsumption of this item can contribute to detrimental health issues like type 2 diabetes, obesity and “gastric distress” (all listeners of the podcast know what that means). BUT, I’d be lying if I said I never touched the stuff. Fortunately for me, I don’t have a pronounced sensitivity to gluten, but there are those individuals who can’t even look at fresh-baked bread without getting a stomach ache.

Individuals who suffer from celiac disease have an inflammatory response whenever they ingest the gluten protein from wheat, rye, barley and other related items. This inflammatory response can result in several side effects ranging from bloating and gas to anemia and/or osteoporosis (source).

Author and podcaster Anna Vocino described her trials and tribulations with celiac disease on a past episode of Addicted to Fitness (episode link). Living with this disease forced her develop numerous gluten free and grain free recipes which ultimately lead to the creation of her cookbook Eat Happy (link). The pantry item that Anna and other celiac sufferers seem to use as their preferred wheat flour substitute is the menu item we’ll be highlighting today.

pexels-photo-28997

Almond flour is made up of exactly what you think: ground up almonds. Usually the almonds are blanched, skins removed then finely ground.

One ingredient and minimally processed.

If that’s not enticing enough, almond flour’s nutrition facts essentially mirrors that of blanched almonds. One ounce contains 14 g of fat, 6 g of protein & carbs and significant amounts of important vitamins and minerals. Enriched (nutrients added) wheat flour on the other hand contains 0 g of fat, 3 g of protein and 21 g of carbs in the same serving size.

In addition to being gluten free, a single ounce of almond flour contains over 30% of our daily value (DV) for both Vitamin E and manganese. Both nutrients can boost insulin sensitivity which is extremely important to individuals that have problems controlling their blood sugar. Almond flour is also a good source of magnesium, which studies have shown can help decrease blood pressure (source).

I feel that it is important to mention that there is also a product known as almond meal which is made from almonds that still have their skin and is not as finely ground. I mention this because many of the sources I gathered my almond info from suggested that the skin of the almond contains many of its beneficial antioxidants (source). However, the terms “flour” and “meal” are often used interchangeably. A tell-tale sign that you’re buying almond meal is the tiny pieces of brown skin in the mixture (see below).

Menu pic 6-15

Whether you use almond meal or flour, the point is you are using a product that will have less of a damaging effect on your body than regular wheat flour. Both Shannon and I have a preferred use of both products: Shannon loves using blanched almond flour to make paleo “friendly” almond cookies, while I like using almond meal to coat baked chicken or fish.

If you haven’t tried almond flour or meal yet, give it a shot. Its mild flavor won’t overwhelm any dish you use it in. If this post inspired you to give it a try, we’d love to hear what you think of it. If you are already an almond flour user & lover, please feel free to send your favorite recipe our way. You can email them to elementaltampa@gmail.com or post them to our social media pages (FacebookInstagram or Twitter). I also encourage everyone to check out our friend Anna’s book Eat Happy for more healthy recipes.

What’s on the Menu – The epitome of finger licking good

You all know that I hold nutrition in higher regard than taste. I don’t mind choking something down if I know it’s good for me. Sardines, raw garlic or ground turmeric in my veggie & fruit smoothie are just a few examples. I will literally punish my taste buds if I believe what I’m eating will benefit me in some capacity. I assume that certain people think that today’s menu spotlight may be one of those “less than appetizing” foods, but I can assure you that it’s not.

I believe it’s safe for me to assume that you know the main ingredient of chicken liver pate is chicken liver. I can’t attest to the flavor of chicken liver by itself, but I know that when’s its used in pate, it’s delicious. If you take a look at the recipe from the New York Times (link) cooking section it’s not hard to imagine why I’m such a fan

  1. Melt butter in pan
  2. Soften onions
  3. Add chicken livers to pan; cook till brown on the outside
  4. Add contents of pan + spices to food processor
  5. Puree till smooth
  6. Store in fridge for few hours till set

Menu pic 6-7

Sounds great right? Well I can testify that it is, and the fact that the main ingredient is chicken liver makes it both delicious and nutritious. Three ounces of chicken liver contains 21 grams of protein, 5 grams of fat and significant amounts of important vitamins and nutrients. The same serving size contains 280% of our daily value (DV) of vitamin A & B12. It also contains 160% and 40% of our DVs for folate and iron respectively, both of which are extremely important to fetal development (source). We’ll discuss if expectant mothers should eat chicken liver a little later on in this post.

It’s clear that chicken liver is nutitrious, but what about chicken liver pate? According to the MyFitnessPal website, 2 ounces of my preferred store bought chicken liver pate (pictured below) contains 19 grams of fat (6 grams saturated) and only 5 grams of protein.

It’s a downright switch-a-roo of the macros compared to chicken liver by itself. The pate also contains 30% DV of vitamin A and 10% DV of iron (source). Plenty of fat, which you know I’m a fan of, but a little lacking in the protein department. Still a nutritious snack, in my opinion, but I’d definitely be better off just eating liver. Another aspect I need to factor in for the pate is source of the liver.

pexels-photo-197058

As we’ve discussed in previous menu spotlights, where and how an animal was raised affects its nutrition. My Trader Joe’s chicken liver pate was produced in the U.S. and inspected by the Dept of Agriculture, but it is very possible that it didn’t live the most optimal life. Now that I know how easy pate is to make, I should acquire chicken livers from my local farmers and just make my own. Stay tuned for that future post!

Before we wrap up today’s post I just want to address two issues. First, I’m happy to inform you that livers are NOT a storage facility for “toxins.” The liver’s job is to send the toxins to the systems responsible for expelling them or storing them. Also, certain studies suggest that pregnant women can eat liver without worry of vitamin A toxicity affecting their fetus (source). ONCE AGAIN, I’m not a doctor, just a reporter of data. If you are pregnant, I’d consult a health professional before eating liver.

I may not be a doctor, but I am a lover a feedback. Which is why you should feel free to send any feedback, liver related or not, to elementaltampa@gmail.com. We love pics, recipes and even videos of you doing something fitness related. Don’t forget to connect with us on social media (Facebook, Instagram or Twitter). We’d love to know if you’ve tasted the yummy goodness of chicken liver pate.

 

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.

Screenshot 2017-04-27 at 3.01.34 PM

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.

Menu post 4-27

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.