You know how you just feel starving after having a huge meal of low carb, low fat, low calorie diet food? There is a reason why nutrients count and not just calories! Find out what the most important nutrients are and what they do for your body & what food to find them in.
Nutrients vs. Empty Calories
Empty-calorie foods are highly processed foods that contain added fat, salt & sugar. Examples include baked products such as cakes, cookies, pies and pastries as well as puddings, doughnuts, fries, jams, syrups, jelly, sweetened fruit drinks, breaded fried burgers and ice cream. Empty-calorie foods also make up most of the long shelf life foods and beverages sold in vending machines such as chips, salted snacks, candy, soda, energy and sports drinks. Although empty-calorie foods are cheaper and more readily available than nutrient-dense foods, regular consumption of these foods can have a negative effect on health.
Eating a balanced diet of nutrient-dense foods provides many nutrients that are required to maintain health. This means planning meals that include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, beans, seeds, These foods provide fewer calories but are excellent sources of nutrients such as the B-vitamins, vitamins A, C, D and E, protein, calcium, iron, potassium, zinc, fiber and monounsaturated fatty acids. Fruits and vegetables also contain phytochemicals that may help reduce the incidence of heart disease, diabetes and cancer.
Top 10 Nutrients and where to find them
1. Vitamin A
This essential vitamin plays an important role in general growth and development, including proper vision, healthy teeth, glowing skin, strong bones and more.
Some foods rich in vitamin A are carrots, sweet potatoes, cantaloupe, pumpkin, spinach, watermelon, kale, papaya, peaches, apricots, tomatoes, dried beans, lentils, red peppers, guava and broccoli.
2. Vitamin C
This water-soluble vitamin is an antioxidant that helps protect cells from free-radical damage, lowers the risk of different types of cancer, regenerates your vitamin E supply, and improves iron absorption. It also keeps the gums healthy, aids in healing wounds, boosts the immune system, and keeps infections at bay.
Your body can’t store vitamin C or make it, so you need to consume some every day. Some foods rich in vitamin C are red peppers, kiwi, oranges, strawberries, cantaloupe, broccoli, guava, grapefruit, Brussels sprouts, parsley, lemon juice, papaya, cauliflower, kale and mustard greens
3. Vitamin E
Vitamin E is the collective name of eight fat-soluble compounds with distinctive antioxidant activities. This particular vitamin protects the skin from harmful ultraviolet light, prevents cell damage from free radicals, improves communication between cells, and protects against prostate cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.
Some foods rich in vitamin E are spinach, chard, turnip greens, mustard greens, cayenne pepper, almonds, sunflower seeds, wheat germ, asparagus, bell peppers, whole grain cereals and safflower oil.
4. Dietary Fiber
The definition of fiber is complex carbohydrates that the body can’t digest or absorb. Instead, it passes relatively intact through your stomach, small intestine, and colon and out of your body.
A high-fiber diet normalizes bowel movements, helps maintain bowel health, lowers cholesterol levels, helps control blood sugar levels, and aids in achieving healthy weight. It also lowers the risk of developing chronic conditions, including heart disease, cancer, and type 2 diabetes.
Some foods with high fiber content are whole grain crackers, quinoa, millet, barley, cracked wheat, wild rice, black beans, chickpeas, turnip greens, oats, flaxseed, mustard greens, collard greens, navy beans, eggplant, raspberries, and cinnamon.
5. Folic Acid (Vitamin B9)
Folic acid, also known as folate, is a form of the water-soluble vitamin B9. Folic acid supports red blood cell production to prevent anemia, prevents homocysteine buildup in your blood, and helps the nerves function properly. It also prevents osteoporosis-related bone fractures and dementias, including Alzheimer’s disease.
The body cannot store folic acid, so it is highly essential to consume it every day to maintain an adequate amount in your system.
Some good food sources of folic acid are romaine lettuce, spinach, asparagus, turnip greens, mustard greens, parsley, collard greens, broccoli, cauliflower, beets, lentils, asparagus, cabbage, egg yolks and lettuce.
Iron helps make red blood cells, which carry oxygen around the body. It is also necessary to support proper metabolism for muscles and other active organs. A lack of iron in the body can lead to iron-deficiency anemia that can result in fatigue, weakness, and irritability.
Some iron-rich foods are oysters, red meats and chicken liver, but there are many vegan alternatives such as soybeans, fortified cereal, pumpkin seeds, beans, lentils, spinach, nuts, dried apricots, brown rice, watercress, kale, Swiss chard, thyme, asparagus, cumin, turmeric, tofu, blackstrap molasses, collard greens, leeks, oregano, black pepper, basil and turnips.
Also increasing the amount of vitamin C in your diet will help your body absorb iron more effectively.
Magnesium contributes to bone strength, enables energy production, boosts the immune system, and normalizes muscle, nerve, and heart functioning. In fact, this mineral is highly essential for a normal heartbeat. Foods that are high in fiber are generally also high in magnesium.
Some good foods to eat to get magnesium are legumes, whole grains, broccoli, squash, spinach, almonds, cashews, peanuts, soymilk, black beans, avocado, brown rice, oatmeal, kidney beans, banana, pumpkin seeds and sesame seeds
Omega-3 fatty acids
They are considered essential fatty acids (ALA, DHA and EPA) that help build cells, regulate the nervous system, strengthen the cardiovascular system, build immunity, and help the body absorb nutrients.
Some of the best sources of omega-3 fatty acids are flaxseeds, walnuts, salmon, sardines, soybeans, halibut, scallops, shrimp, canola oil, linseed, tofu and olive oil.
The mineral calcium plays a key role in maintaining healthy teeth and bones. It also promotes healthy nerve and muscle functioning, helps maintain the pH balance in the blood, and helps the body convert food into energy. It has been found that adequate calcium intake also lowers blood pressure, as well as controls weight.
Some calcium-rich foods are tofu, black molasses, sesame seeds, sardines, collard greens, spinach, turnip greens and scallops.
Protein is considered the building block of life because the body needs it to repair and maintain itself. Protein is important to support proper growth and development during childhood, adolescence, and pregnancy.
Some high-protein foods are spinach, tofu, mustard greens, asparagus, soybeans, mushrooms, eggs, summer squash, split peas and garbanzo beans.
Be sure to get the right amounts of these essential nutrients in your diet every day!
The feeling of truly being clean is hard to come by.
I never expected to find myself doing a detox. Then in the middle of July I found myself right in the middle of it. I came to Santosa with an open spirit, ready for what they put in front of me. I sat down at the first morning meeting and I heard everyone talk about their detoxes and I found fear running up my legs to my chest and to my head. I was truly afraid that I wouldn’t be able to detox, that I was unable to control my cravings. Fear can work wonders into pushing you to do things, but it was truly pulling me back.
But then I met Sandra. As I have lived in the budding new generation I have come to understand that we humans look for knowledge in other humans. If you ask me, Sandra is highly intelligent in the world of detox. When I started asking her about the little things such as my fear of the colema, and not eating while on the juice fast; she responded with a resounding acuteness. She told me that the colema (colonic) was easier than a walk in the park, and that your energy level while on the juice diet may be far greater than your energy on your normal diet. She set some high expectations for me but I began to become excited to overcome temptation and cleanse my body.
As I started my first day of the Juice detox I did not know what to expect, but I showed up to all the events thinking they were mandatory for keeping such a detox, but I was wrong. I was relieved to find out that I did not have to show up to every activity, because my limbs weren’t made for yoga. In Santosa they don’t even pressure you to try all the activities they have planned, they just write it on the board and give you the opportunity to try new things.
I had my first colonic coffee break; this was probably a more horrifying thought than anything. I was wrong. The colonic, just as Sandra said, was a breeze. I walked out of the room a kilo lighter, and surprisingly energized. I skipped my way to the juice bar enjoyed the fresh coconut juice and then experienced another revelation at Santosa. The juices they made for me tasted like rainbows and vegan unicorns. The juice was magnificent. I drank the juice very quickly as if I hadn’t drunk in years and urged for more.
I looked at my schedule and saw that my next juice was to be consumed in an hour. Oh was I excited. I walked from the juice bar to the gym on the second floor. I was afraid that because I wasn’t eating carbs that I would not have enough energy. I was wrong, yet again. I sprang onto the treadmill and ran an easy mile in six minutes without gasping for one last breath of fresh air.
I also have to give it up to the Thai Boxing instructor, Chalarm Kao. As I punched into his pads as hard as I could he would yell at me “no balance, no good.” He was right, and he showed me that if I punch as hard as I can without a conscious balance that I am easy to knock down. That kickboxing class has been a highlight of my time here and I am hoping I can find someone nearly as good as he is in Miami to keep me going!
As I am now finished with my Juice Fast one of the most remarkable things I will always remember about my detox is the unreal amount of energy I had. I was able to function all day, and only became tired when I wanted to go to sleep. I was an energizer bunny soaring through the day with nothing stopping my charge. I have to throw in another perspective for you to look from.
I am from Miami Beach, Florida. That’s a city where life never stops and the only great views are the beaches. I was dying to go to Thailand, relax and see true beauty in nature. I then got afraid that because I was detoxing in a wellness center that I would not be able to travel Thailand a little. I’m not a bad student, but I was wrong again. Freedom is served daily here. I was able to leave the resort and make my way to the beach and swim with the fish.
If I wasn’t in the mood to leave the resort I was able to just look around me because Santosa is in the middle of a mountain with an astonishing view of the sunset, and Big Buddha to cap that off.
Another untold secret about Santosa is their staff. I don’t know how they hire these people and what their interviewing system is like, but I was dumbfounded to realize that every single staff member here is perfect for their job, and even more so; their politeness is top of the key. I walked around feeling like a real “sir,” and I have not once been disappointed with the service here in Santosa.
Although I make detoxing sound super easy, it still is quite tough because you’re challenging yourself to try something new and it is a mind game, but everyone can win.
One of the biggest factors in Santosa that helps you truly enjoy your detox is the environment. There is not one point in time where I questioned the campus. I always basked in the sublime that Santosa provides, and when you start to cleanse your body you expect the place where you detox to be clean as well. Santosa is sparkling pure. There has never been a time here when I felt dirty, and it’s like you’re walking in a world created by Dr. Seuss. Santosa truly understands that while someone cleanses their body, they are expected to cleanse their environment and they have done just that. Even the people here are very clean, and that’s surprisingly also a relief.
So now to the massages – I hate when people touch me. Oh I am around seventy percent extroverted but I cannot stand when people just touch me. This is where I praise the masseuses. I decided that I would take advantage of my detox massage and let them press their hands against my back for an hour. I condemn myself for being so cynical about it. Have you ever closed your eyes and seen the light. I have. In my first Thai massage, and every single one after it in the perfect world of Santosa. I lay on the massage bed and felt the knots in my back release. I felt the warm oil swarm my legs and create a sensation on my body. I praise Santosa for changing my perspective on massages. I always thought that massages were a waste of time but I would be ecstatic to spend twenty four hours on one of those massage beds letting those godly hands relieve the stress from my body. I never realized how crucial massages are in the detox process until I truly experienced it myself.
My detox was amazing. I would do it all over again if I had the time. Santosa has played a major role in my life as it changed my perspective on a myriad of personal objections. The team at Santosa knows how to give every one of their guests the best times, and the amount of personal attention you get at Santosa proves that. I would never ever have expected myself to detox and cleanse my body, but thanks to Santosa; I did. Now I will always maintain a yearning for personal cleanliness. In the great words of the warlord Justin Bieber: “Never Say Never.”
I let my legs glide through the sand to the rhythm of the crashing waves. I sink my toes into the sand, letting it engulf my feet. I look up to see the waves beating to the rhythm of their own drums. It’s as if there is a heartbeat within each wave. I breathe in the pristine air of Thailand during our early morning beach walk before we make our way back to the beautiful resort that is Santosa. I take my sandals off and I make my way to the morning meeting.
As I sit there within our group of detoxers I get ready to drink my vibrant green wheat grass shot and my ginger tea. As it races through my body I prepare to make my cleanse drink all while revealing my very own oracle card and conversing on topics such as super foods or finding out more about chemicals in our daily lives.
I then find myself shuttered with excitement as I make my way for my coffee break, more formally known as a colonic! Not knowing what to expect on my first day doing a juice detox I was surprised to find how energized I felt. After my colonic I strutted my way to the juice bar and picked up my coconut juice and as I downed my nutrition pills I already begin to sense my excitement for the next exotic juice that Santosa provides.
I then get ready to release the strains in my body with Bliss Yoga. I struggled controlling my breathing all whilst stretching my limbs to the max. As I sit with my head resting on the mat and my legs far above my head I struggle keeping my body up, but with more aimed effort I am able to control my body and mind and put my body into a raised stasis. I let the sweat of pure effort drip down my face while I allow my muscles to cool down with my much awaited Juice.
As the juice rolls its way down my tongue I taste the pomelo as it has a rendezvous with my tastebuds, I taste the apple and mint medley as it weaves in between my taste buds, and this happens all while I get ready to relax for my warm oil massage. I lay in the room while I feel the fingers run up my back, like a massage from a divine spirit. I lay there unable to move, not because I can’t, but because the divinity of the massage is too pure.
Moments later in the Sauna, I find myself surrounded in herbal infused steam as it detoxes my body and releases unneeded toxins. As the heat rises, I run to the ice bath and I plunge my body into the arctic pool. Goosebumps manifest, my body’s circulatory system is jumpstarted just before I run back into the sauna for another round of a sweating detox. After I leave the sauna I find myself strolling into Santosa’s gorgeous restaurant to pick up my warm broth. As I sit in the restaurant savoring the taste of the warm broth at the end of the day, I look out from the restaurant to see the eccentric view and feel the sublime of living here. Tomorrow I embark on a new journey in the wonderful world of Santosa, and I suspect every moment of tomorrow will be just as resounding as today.
Millions of people travel every day, coming in and out of the airports. They think they have no choice, but to eat the airport and airplane food because it is the only thing available. But what if you don’t want to give up your health just because you’re travelling?
Find out the nifty tricks you can apply!
Now that many companies have introduced the vegetarian/vegan/raw/no dairy/no fish/no whatever else you can think about choice, it’s getting easier and, as I think there is always space for improvement and transformation, I’m still very careful and I take precautions.
Remember that most of the time we are talking about pre-packaged, pre-cooked food. We don’t know what is inside and the food is often heavily processed with additives and preservatives.
So, as a chef and coach, I would like to share with you my tips and suggestions about how to survive airport and airplane food, simply by bringing your own food on board. The only thing you have to make sure is that your food won’t be confiscated at the security checks (you can ask your travel agent to provide you with this information).
Here are some items that don’t get confiscated but be sure to check the quantity you are allowed to carry on board.
– crunchy snacks like crackers, kale chips, raw crackers, veggie chips (you need a dehydrator for that; for some recipes you can use the oven so you can bake delicious crackers and granola bars)
– homemade sandwiches wrapped in paper and transparent plastic bags of appropriate size. Remember not to use any foil, as they will ask you to open the bag and check because the foil hides the content to the x-rays machine. Some (vegan) ideas for sandwiches: vegetable ham, hummus and salad; vegetable mayo and grilled veggies; homemade peanut butter sprinkled with sesame seeds and salt and fresh apples; homemade veggie burger and mayo and salad…..
– fresh fruit and veggies. Bananas and oranges are perfectly “packaged” by Mother Nature as a great travel snack! Cherry tomatoes, grapes, carrots, are other great examples. If you feel brave you can also bring avocados on board and eat them with the spoon provided by the company.
-trail mix: I like to make my own at home, rather than having the one from the shop; my fav recipe is this: ½ cup each of raisins, blueberries, prunes, almonds, pumpkin seeds and coconut flakes. It gives me energy and it is nutrient-dense. If you put more dried fruit like dates or apricots you can prepare fruit bars.
-tea bags of your favorite brand, to make hot tea and sip it during the flight and if you carry your fav book and/or your music it will be (almost) like at home!
What happens when you eat such food? Besides the obvious of not eating food laden with chemicals and preservatives, you will feel much better upon arrival to your destination and the jet-lag won’t be that horrible because your energy level will be higher than usual.
…and if you add probiotics to your fruit bars, it will be even better!
According to books, the definition of the word color is “a phenomenon of light (as red, brown, pink, or gray) or visual perception that enables one to differentiate otherwise identical objects”
In food color compounds can be natural, from the food itself or artificially added, in order to give food a better taste; scientists did many experiments and found out that if we serve a strawberry juice colored with green pigments, people had the tendency to not perceive the taste as much as when the juice kept its natural red color.
In this article I will write about the natural color present in food, thanks to enzymes and phytochemicals.
According to Susan Bowerman, MS, RD, CSSD, “We eat foods primarily based on their taste, their cost, and how convenient they are,” she notes. “The food manufacturers have done a great job of creating many foods that are easy to eat, inexpensive, and rich in sugar, fat, and salt so that they taste good. Starches, fats, and sweets are the least expensive foods in the diet, so it’s easy to see why we lean toward these ‘brown/beige’ foods. They fill us up for very little monetary cost, but there are significant health costs to a diet that is so high in refined carbohydrates and devoid of the vitamins, minerals, fiber, and phytochemicals that are so abundant in plant foods.”
So what does color have to do with diet anyway?
One word: photochemical. These substances occur naturally only in plants and may provide health benefits beyond those that only essential nutrients provide. Color, such as what makes a blueberry so blue, can indicate some of these substances, which are thought to work synergistically with vitamins, minerals, and fiber in whole plant foods to promote good health and lower disease risk. Acting as antioxidant they protect and regenerate essential nutrients and work to deactivate cancer-causing substances.
A rainbow diet can provide a variety of those nutrients and phytochemicals.
The golden rule here, from my chef-point-of-view is to use creativity and to play with food colors and food plating.
Also in our present culture the color of the food has so many symbolic meanings, like red and white are associated with important events like weddings or holidays, and green and brown are associated with everyday food or simple food: think for example to salads and whole bread or whole pasta.
According to the WHO we should eat all the colors, everyday, and as much as possible.
WHITE: it’s a symbol of purity and simplicity. Think about wedding cakes, or simple foods like rice and milk.
White foods, like almonds, apples, pears, onions, daikon, turnip, garlic, celery, fennel, cauliflower, banana, cashews, endive, coconut, lychees, and rambutans are rich in vitamins, minerals and fibers. They are helpful against cellular aging and circulatory pathologies. They are also bone-strengtheners.
ORANGE AND YELLOW: these two colors make us think about energy, about solar light, gold, saffron, vitality and happiness! In some traditions, like the Roman, yellow pigments were used to dye the clothes used in rituals and ceremonies.
Orange and yellow food contains beta-carotene, which is a precursor of Vitamin A and a powerful antioxidant. They are immunity boosters, help with eyesight and cell reconstruction.
Some foods of this group are: apricot, carrot, cantaloupe, pumpkin, orange, lemon (also rich in Vitamin C), bell pepper, mango, pineapple, etc.
GREEN: green is a symbol of birth, spring, rebirth, strength and Mother Nature. The most significant nutrients are chlorophyll and magnesium, both very helpful in cancer prevention and used as a metabolism booster.
Some examples: broccoli, courgettes, avocado, kale, parsley, spinach, kohlrabi, rocket, basil and other herbs, cucumber, all the varieties of salads (romaine, chard, iceberg, green oak, frisee, escarole) and fruits like grapes and kiwi, amongst many. All of them are very rich in Vitamin C, one of the most powerful antioxidant ever.
RED: it is the color of fire and blood which, on a symbolic level, represents energy and the power to generate it.
Think of watermelon, red beetroot, tomato, red radish, raspberry, cherry, strawberry, red papaya. Their use can help us reduce the risk of cancer and circulatory problems.
BLUE AND PURPLE: they are associated with relaxation, sleep and balance.
The blue and purple foods are used for blood circulation and for eyesight.
These color bombs can include blueberries, blackberries, plums, grapes, eggplants, red dragon fruit (which is more purple than red) and some varieties of figs. They are rich in potassium and are very helpful for general well-being and for the circulation.
So, put as much color on your plate as possible and pamper yourself with the rainbow diet!