Nuts NOT Fluff: Incorporating Nuts and Seeds As Part of a Healthy Diet

People often ask me why I’m so obsessed about seeds and nuts and I could rattle off a whole slew of information (see sources below) about why they’re so great. After watching their eyes invariably glaze over from information overload, I’ve since discovered that less is more, and simplicity is a gem worth appreciating. The simple answer lays in the fact that we (meaninghomo Sapiens) are at our optimal health and fitness when we adhere to a diet that is both diverse and nutritionally dense. This is in both the historic and evolutionary record ( I won’t bore you with the details) as well as the current health crisis many in the industrialized (as well as underdeveloped nations) are facing in terms of ever increasing numbers of diabetes, cancer, as well as autoimmune diseases.

It is no small coincidence that our propensity for, and our over indulgence in so-called “quick” and “processed” foods have a strong connection or link to the incidence of the above mentioned diseases and associated syndromes. The bottom line, is that processed foods, our dependency on them, coupled with a lack of adequate exercise (daily), has brought us to the brink of a near pandemic. Add to that unsustainable environmental and agricultural practices, and a grime picture begins to unfold for the human race; but a solution for one problem at a time please.

In simple terms, nuts can be defined as “small dry hard-shelled dry fruit or seed with a separable rind or shell an interior kernel” (Merriam-Webster Dictionary definition). A much more detailed definition is provided by the National Institutes of Health (see National Institutes of Health website) which states that nuts are “nutrient dense foods with complex matrices rich in unsaturated fatty and other bioactive compounds: high-quality vegetable protein, fiber, minerals, tocopherols, phytosterols, and phenolic compounds.” Translation? nuts constitute a dense powerhouse store of complete nutrients (i.e. fats, fibre, carbohydrates, etc).

All that being said, there is such a thing as too much of a good thing. While nuts are nutrient dense, they do contain fat and that means you must balance their intake with other sources of vital nutrients that contain fewer calories as well as fats. The key take away here is “BALANCE”; in terms of nutritional intake (i.e. amount per serving, etc) as well as lin proportion to other nutrient sources. For instance, a balanced intake of nuts (and or seeds, i.e. sunflower walnuts) at one sitting relative to other nutrient sources, would be equivalent to 1/3/ cup or 1 and 1/2 oz of nuts 3-4 servings per week for a 1,600 calorie diet and 4-5 servings per week for a 2,000 calorie diet (American Heart Association: 2013Healthy Diet recommendations;Eckel, Robert H. et al. “2013 AHA/ACC).

While similar to seeds in terms of nutrient content, seeds are, in simple terms, the embryonic stage of a plant housed in a protective outer shell or hull. The dietary guidelines for seeds are similar to those for nuts, but the caveat remains the same; balance, balance, balance, is the mantra we should all stick to when it comes to nutrition, health (mind-body) and fitness. Why am I pushing them? I’m a firm believer in balance and the pivotal role it plays in our health and fitness within the context of a healthy and free lifestyle. My own personal experience alone has driven home the inherent power of a well balanced and nutrient dense diet; not only that, from a physical fitness perspective, a poor diet will doom you to failure and injury (i.e. failing to fuel your body the nutrients required for both recovery and muscle growth).

From a female perspective, I’ve come to learn the importance of incorporating dietary balance into my daily regime as a means of negating undesirable effects of changes in hormonal levels, stress, and illness recovery. While nutrition and fitness alone can not wholly stave off the negative impacts of illness, disease, time, and so forth, they are powerful resources in our arsenal that are available to help us achieve optimum fitness, health, and the freedom to pursue our goals and passions.

Remember, getting fit and healthy requires that you first make the decision, develop a plan, and take action. For more information as well as assistance regarding how to get started on your journey, join the FitTribe of fellow women who are getting stronger everyday!

The Healing Benefits of Bone Broth

For the last few weeks I have been researching the healing power of Bone Broth. I read Sally Falloon’s book Nourishing Broth, which is a great book.

The benefits are amazing:

1. Heals leaky gut

Its good for non leaky gut as well, the gelatin in the broth helps fill the holes in the gut. It helps with other digestive disorders as well. Leaky gut can stem from systemic candida.

2. Protects your Joints

The chondroitin sulfate, glutamine and other compounds in bone broth has been shown to help prevent osteoarthritis and is great for your joint care.

3. Immune Support

The amino acids in the broth of glycine, arginine, and proline help fight inflammation and inhibit infection. Chicken soup is more than just healing your soul.

4. Stronger Bones

The calcium, magnesium and phosphorous are great for your bones.

5. Sleep better

The glycine will help you sleep better and help with your memory.

6. Healthy Hair, Skin and Nails

The collagen in the cartilage helps with your skin, hair and nails, helping you to look younger.

7. Helps with Cancer, Rheumatoid Arthritis and Sports and Fitness

My issue was trying to source bones from grass fed cows that wasn’t going to cost a ton. Finally I realised most cows are grass fed in NZ so I managed to get a huge bag of bones for $1.99.

The ideal parts of a cow are the knuckle bones, any bones with a lot of cartilage or marrow.

Chickens are also good if they are grass fed, ideally you want the feet, backs and necks, but the whole carcass will do if its left over from a meal.

Fish heads can be used also.

You can combine bones in a broth from different animals as well.

I have have made 3 batches so far, experimenting with the taste and length of time that I have it cooking in the slow cooker.

First batch I put in too much water, I filled the slow cooker to the top, but ideally you just want enough water to cover the bones. I put the veges in at the beginning and it gives off an awful burnt smell while cooking. I used just random beef bones, ones you would give a dog. I cooked for 24 hours.

If you find you use too much water and it doesn’t gel, you can still use it, there’s still goodness in the broth.

Second batch I put in less water and it came out a nice consistency but I didn’t learn about the veges till after I did this batch. Ideally you want to put the veges in in the last 8 hours. I cooked this batch for 36 hours. It had a nice gelatinous wobble to it. I used the same type of bones at batch one.

Third batch I bought knuckle bones. Someone suggested afterwards I get the butcher to saw them in half. There’s quite a bit of marrow in knuckle bones. I cooked for 31 hours and didn’t put in any veges. This would have to be the best consistency yet.

Next I will try chicken feet. I’m a bit weary because in order to get enough feet you have to buy a lot, and I’m not sure if the chickens have been grain fed.

It’s been too soon to tell the effects as I’ve had a lot of changes in the last week, but what I will say is I’m really tired, sleeping a lot more, and I know the glycine is doing that. My stomach has been gurgling a lot more lately too. I’m also experiencing detox symptoms.

So go easy how much you drink. I am drinking 2 cups a day. I heat it up in a saucepan on the stove. Ideally don’t use a microwave to heat it up.

Recipe:

Bones depending how big your slow cooker or saucepan is. Soak them in a bowl of water, enough to cover them, and put in half a cup of apple cider vinegar, or lemon juice if you don’t have ACV. This helps leach the minerals out of the bones. Then I put them in the oven to brown for around 20 minutes. Some people don’t do this step. I put the water from soaking the bones in the slow cooker.

Any veges, I threw in carrots, garlic, broccoli stems, celery. You could put in onions or leeks or even just use your left over scraps from veges in the week. Put them in 8 hours before the end. There is talk that if you put them in too early they soak up the minerals.

Slow cook for as long as you like from 1-5 days. You may need to skim off the layer of crud off the top, I never did. Or you may need to top up the water if you go for quite a few days.

When your’e done, strain off the bones and veges and I throw them on my garden for the birds to eat. Leave in a bowl to cool at room temperature, and then tip into your containers you want to store the broth in, and put in the fridge. The fat will rise to the top, you can scoop this off when its hardened, and either use it for cooking or feed it to your animals or throw it out.

The broth lasts for around 5 days in the fridge so I freeze some of mine.