Saturday, June 30, 2012

Skip the Koolaid: My interview with Go Kaleo

Recently I had the opportunity to interview one of my favorite Health and Wellness role models on Facebook.  Amber of Go Kaleo chatted with me about her philosophies on today’s diet world, how to be a role model for kids, and what she’d feed the Primal Guru, Mark Sisson, if he stopped by for dinner. 

Whole to Healthy: How did you come up with the name Go Kaleo?
Go Kaleo: Kaleo is a combination of kale and paleo. Kale because I eat mostly plants, paleo because eating real, whole, locally produced foods is a central part of my philosophy. Kaleo is also Greek for 'the voice' or 'the calling' which I think is sort of apropos, and a little grandiose.

W2H: So, you do eat mostly you ever eat any animal products?
GK:  The only animal product I eat regularly is pastured eggs from a local farm co-op.

W2H: At one point, while you were following a Paleo diet, you were convinced that grains were bad for you. What are your thoughts on them now? 
GK: I think some people have sensitivities to them and for those people a grain free diet can be very helpful. I also think they are a dense source of calories, so for people trying to lose weight, limiting them can be helpful. But they can be very delicious, and many cultures have traditions that revolve around grain based foods. If a person enjoys grain based foods, and doesn't have sensitivities, there's no reason to completely avoid them. And if a person is underweight they can be a great source of calories to help pack on needed weight and they're energy dense.

W2H: You actually lost weight while consuming a lot of grains. Can you explain how this was possible?
GK: I lost weight on an eating plan that included grains because I burned more calories than I consumed.

W2H: Describe that moment when you went from no grains, to "Hmmm, maybe I can eat grains, even if others can't."
GK: It was when I did the 4 week MyPlate diet experiment. I was eating 9 servings of grain a day and my energy was fantastic, especially my endurance during workouts. And I REALLY like sourdough bread and oatmeal, so it was nice to be able to reintegrate them into my diet without guilt.

W2H: Mark Sisson comes to dinner….what would you serve him and what would you talk about?
GK: I'd serve him a giant salad and some roasted root vegetables. We'd talk about our very similar workout philosophies. And I'd ask him to take his shirt off.
W2H: Bahaha! With your husband’s permission, of course.
GK: <laughing>

W2H:  You are brutally honest when it comes to your opinions on diet. Your path was a long one though, how did you make that first step to becoming the confident self-proclaimed badass that you are today?
GK:  The first step to becoming the badass I am today was committing to keeping an open mind. I think that's the only way to truly learn.

 W2H:  Your before pictures look so much different than you do today.  Do you feel like you’re finally comfortable in your own skin?  What do you think when you look back at those pictures?
GK: I am finally comfortable in my own skin! And it's not because my shape has changed, it's because my internal dialogue has changed. I feel sad for all the life I missed out on because I spent so much time hating my body.

W2H:  How old were you when you finally started feeling good about your body? Or at least about the direction it was taking?
GK: I was 35. It really was sort of a light bulb moment, I had an epiphany that I was my daughters' primary female role model and I was doing a craptastic job at it. In that moment I realized I needed to love my body just the way it was and that that was the only way I was going to get healthier. And from that moment on I've valued and appreciated my body.  Our culture makes us captive to self-hate. We're hobbled by it as human beings and we cannot realize out full potential because we're stuck in this self-destructive mindset.

W2H: Do you think you have finally reached that goal of being a good role model for your daughters?  What, if anything, would you have done differently if they had been boys?
GK: I do think I am a MUCH better role model now than I was, although I'm still not perfect. But part of what I want to model for them is that it's ok not to be perfect. If they’d been boys I don't think I would have done anything different, because I would have been modeling a healthy female mindset, a mindset that I'd have hoped they would look for in a potential partner (assuming they chose a female partner).

W2H: You recently lost some fans because of a controversial post on Facebook. How does that make you feel?
GK: A little bummed that they're stuck somewhere that allows them to be hurt and offended by something a stranger on the internet says.

W2H: Does it make you want to do more controversial posts, or less? Or maybe it doesn't affect your posts at all?
GK: I would say it doesn't affect my posts. I'm not trying to sell anything or please anyone. I just say things that I need to say, and that I think others need to hear.

W2H: I don't know how you do it.  I personally get super bummed when someone disagrees with a post of mine, and it takes me some time to approach it calmly with an open mind.  What is your first reaction when someone challenges one of your points? 
GK: My first reaction is to think critically about what they are saying and the point they're trying to make. Sometimes they're just trying to get a rise out of me, and it's pretty hard to do that. If that's the case I usually ignore the post. If they have a valuable contribution to the discussion, I'm all ears. I like to explore different aspects of issues.

W2H: Sometimes it is hard to distinguish, don't you think?
GK: I think I've gotten pretty good at recognizing general douchebaggery.
W2H: True, you have been doing this much longer than me. I still have a lot to learn! 
GK: Part of it is not being emotionally invested in what others think of me and that is a really hard place to come to
W2H: Totally!  If only good nutrition could also shed the “worrying about what others think” baggage along with the fat!
GK:  <laughing>  Seriously.

W2H: What advice do you have for someone who has many differing guru’s opinions and diet advice in their head and aren’t quite sure how to proceed?
GK: Listen to your own body.
W2H: Is there a trick to doing that, which you have found?
GK: Keeping a diet log has really helped me. I can see patterns: weight loss/gain, general sense of well being, etc.

W2H: Do you have a health/fitness role model?
GK: I have several. Diana Nyad is a big one. Jack LaLanne. Lynn Cox.

W2H: What is your favorite health food?
GK: Dark chocolate. Followed closely by avocado and sweet potatoes.
W2H: What? No kale?
GK: Ha! Kale and other greens are favorites as well.

W2H: Do you have a weakness for any “junk” food?  If so, what is it?
GK: Yeah, Reese's peanut butter cups.
W2H: Mmm, great. Now I’m craving those. 
GK: I know. Me too.

W2H: What does "whole to healthy" mean to you?
GK: Once you're able to see the 'big picture', or how all the aspects of your life work together, it's then you are able to begin to pursue true health. We are not a collection of independent organs and functions. Our bodies are intricate systems, and we exist within a larger system. All parts of those systems need to work together for true health to manifest.
W2H: Love that answer.

W2H: What's your favorite kitchen gadget or appliance?
GK: My Vitamix, hands down. 
W2H: Agreed.  I adore mine!  What do you tend to use it for most?
GK: I use it for green smoothies every day. It’s also great for soups, sauces and nut butters!

W2H: Any other paradigms we should watch for you to break anytime soon?
GK: I've got a blog post on childhood obesity brewing in my head. And another one on exercise and insulin resistance. No ETA for either though.

W2H: What are your thoughts on the blood type diet?  
Gk: I'm as skeptical of the blood type diet as I am any other fad diet. That said, I do very well on the diet the book says I should do well on. (She is an AB+ blood type)

W2H: Have you been following the diet study I'm doing?
GK: Yes, it's awesome!
W2H: I'll be doing the raw portion soon...any suggestions on what will help me get through 30 days? 
GK: Hemp seeds and avocado!
W2H: I think I can handle that. ;)

Thanks to Amber for her time spent with me!  She is an outspoken, well rounded, educated advocate for the whole foods way of eating.  Her mantra is, “Eat real food. Move around a lot. Lift heavy things. And skip the kool-aid.” If you would like to be inspired and learn more about her approach to health and fitness, please follow her blog, facebook page and tweets. You’ll be glad you did!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Blueberry Maqui Banana Smoothie

Blueberry Maqui Banana Smoothie
Have you tried any of the Navitas Naturals super foods yet?  OH, YOU SHOULD! They have such a great variety of amazing foods from hemp to cacao to more unusual fair such as lucuma and camu.  All of them are full of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals and their powders are an easy, tasty way to get super foods into your diet.

Recently I was able to review some of the Navitas Naturals products and combined a few into this delicious smoothie. I still want to experiment with the other powders, but today I will focus on the magic of Maqui.

Maqui are the berries from the Chilean evergreen shrub and contain a high amount of antioxidants, phytochemicals, anthocyanins, trace minerals and polyphenols. In addition to containing huge health benefits, Maqui powder from Navitas Naturals is also certified organic and is a Raw food. In other words, you need to get your hands on some of this.

One of the easiest ways to enjoy these powders is to slip some into your favorite smoothies.  You can't go wrong with any of their foods, so just jump in and enjoy.

Blueberry Maqui Banana Smoothie
3/4 cup frozen blueberries
1 medium frozen banana
1 T Maqui powder from Navitas Naturals
3 golden berries from Navitas Naturals (3 doesn't sound like much, but these babies are potent!)
1-2 medjool dates, pitted (add more for your sweetening pleasure)
1 to 1 1/4 cups of almond milk, depending on your preference in texture
3 ice cubes (mine are larger ice cubes, so if you have an ice maker or smaller trays you might need to add more ice)

Place all ingredients in a high speed blender (I highly recommend a Vitamix!), blend until super smooth! Slurp up!  xoxo

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Almond Flour Pancakes with Fresh Peach Syrup and Whipped Coconut Cream

Since I'm doing the Paleo Study, regular old pancakes are not on the table...literally.  So, we cavewomen need to get creative!  Thank goodness someone else invented almond flour because it has saved my butt numerous times on this diet!

I did not invent this recipe, but I did tweak it a bit and I think they turned out the best I've ever had them.  The original recipe can be found here. And if you're interested, Elana of Elana's Pantry has the best almond flour cookbook.  It's good even if you're not Paleo.

  • 3 large eggs
  • 3 tablespoons almond milk, or more to thin out batter  (I used homemade vanilla almond milk that was sweetened with dates, so if you're going to buy almond milk, get the sweetened vanilla.) You could also use water here, but the flavor/texture would be different.
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons real maple syrup or raw honey
  • 1 ½ cups blanched almond flour (you could use almond meal, but I'm not a fan of the texture.)
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • Organic extra virgin coconut oil for the griddle
  1. In a large bowl whisk together eggs, almond milk, vanilla and syrup/honey
  2. Add almond flour, salt and baking soda and mix until thoroughly combined
  3. Heat coconut oil on skillet over medium low to medium heat
  4. Scoop about 1/4 cup of batter at a time onto the skillet
  5. Pancakes will form little bubbles, when bubbles open, flip pancakes over and cook other side
  6. Remove from heat to a plate
  7. Repeat process with remaining batter, add more oil to skillet as needed

Peach syrup

Now this one I did invent, sort of. It's not rocket science, but I didn't follow a recipe.

1/2 a fresh peach, sliced
2 medjool dates, pitted and pulled in half
sprinkling of cinnamon, to taste. (maybe 1/4 teaspoon)
Squirt of fresh lemon juice (not much, maybe 1/4 teaspoon)
1/4 cup of water

In a small saucepan, place all ingredients and stir until mixed through.  Simmer on medium-high heat until mixture boils.  Turn to medium-low and let boil, stirring occasionally (make sure to mash dates really well to release their yummy sweetness. this will also help to thicken the syrup).  Once mixture is thicker, and tastes sweet enough, it's ready!  Pour on top of pancakes and enjoy!

Whipped Coconut Cream

This one is so easy and tasty, I sometimes can't believe it's as healthy as it is.

1 can of coconut milk, refrigerated for 4 hours or more (I keep a can in the refrigerator at all times so I can make this any time I want)
1 t. vanilla (or fresh vanilla bean is even better!)
1/2 t - 1t.  sweetener of choice, to taste (I have used organic raw agave, maple syrup, and coconut sugar, you could also use cane sugar or honey, or of course powdered sugar. I would like to use dates, but haven't had the time/patience to do it just yet.)

Open your can of refrigerated coconut milk, scoop out JUST the top white part that has firmed up. You don't want any of the water that's left in the bottom.  Use a mixer to whip the coconut cream until it is soft and whippy looking. Add vanilla and sweetener.  Start low on the sweetener, taste your whipped cream, add more if you want a sweeter cream.  And, done!  You could add cinnamon, nutmeg, pumpkin pie spice, etc for a spicy kick.

I love to garnish my food.  Once you've plated your pancakes and syrup, sprinkle generously with yummy nuts or hemp seeds.   Then dollop with Coconut Cream!  Nom-ola!

Friday, June 15, 2012

The Paleo diet experiment: first half.

** If you’re just now joining me, here is a brief primer of the diet research study I’m doing for fun. (Yeah, I don’t get out much): I am a blood type A+, my friend Addie is a blood type O+.  In order to test the blood type diet theory, as well as to experiment with two of the most popular diets currently being touted today, Paleo and Vegan, we embarked on a two month diet trial.  Both of us will follow the Paleo diet for 30 days, and then we will both follow a Raw vegan diet for 30 days. During this time we will track our progress in weight, energy, and health changes as well as monitor our pH levels to see how each diet affects us individually.  According to the Blood Type Diet (Dr. D’adamo), I should do great on the Raw vegan diet, and Addie should do best on the Paleo diet.  Stay tuned.

So, here I am at day 15 of the Paleo portion of my crazytown experiment.  I honestly don’t know how I got here.  Three hours after I started this portion of the study, I was over it. I wondered what I had gotten myself into, and how to get myself out of it. But, I stuck it out. I mean, it was just DAY ONE. Surely, I was strong enough to get through one day.  But then, day two came and I felt the same. I started to daydream about running away to a foreign country. Maybe no one would notice!  Or, maybe I could fake an allergy to cavemen. No, these weren’t rational thoughts, but I was desperate.

As I scrambled my pastured eggs and fried up my grass fed bacon, I plotted more ways to get out of this unbelievably horrible….wait.  Did I just say that I’m *allowed*, no ENCOURAGED, to eat eggs and bacon?  BACON?!  And, I’m complaining because..??? Well, let’s not look at those details just yet. Let’s focus on what I couldn’t have, because that’s ultimately what was irritating me the most.  Here is a list of the NO’s on the Paleo diet:

NO sweeteners of any kind (except stevia)(which is gross)
NO dairy
NO grains
NO beans or other legumes (this includes peanuts/peanut butter, people!  PEANUT BUTTER!)
NO white potatoes
NO corn or corn products
NO corn oil, safflower oil, vegetable oil
NO alcohol

Maybe at first glance you think, “Eh, what’s the big deal? It’s a short list.”  And that’s true.  The NO list for Paleo is much shorter than the YES list. However, we as a society have come to rely on the NO list.  Think about your last meal.  Was it Mexican Food? Grains, corn, dairy.  Was it Indian?  Grains, dairy. Was it Italian? Grains, dairy.  Was it Chinese? Japanese?  Grains, grains, grains.  Was it good?  Probably had grains, corn, dairy AND sugar in it!

I love to cook. I am a master at opening up my cabinet/refrigerator/freezer and “winging” a perfectly healthy and tasty meal any night of the week.  But, all of my staples were taken away from me and I had to sort of learn how to cook all over again.  In the fantastic documentary FRESH, there is a quote that pretty much sums this up: “Americans fear only one thing: Inconvenience.” And I was pretty inconvenienced. I had to second guess every. single. ingredient. I would grab cayenne pepper and stop and ask myself, “Wait, did the cavemen eat cayenne pepper?”  Thank GOD for Google!  So, on and on it went for about a week until I finally got my groove back.

The cost of a Paleo diet is also high if you follow the protocol that I am following, which is protein at every meal, about the size of your palm, all from grass fed/grass finished or pastured animals. Eating a high quality meat is a key factor in Paleo, and one that I am 100% behind. Don’t eat cheap meat. You get what you pay for. I am also finding out that most people who say that they are Paleo are really just a modified version of Paleo.  So, if you’re contemplating following a Paleo diet and are worried about the cost, don’t be.  You can simply eat less meat, or skip meat once in a while; it’s up to you and your wallet to decide that one. 

After researching “paleo” recipes on the internet in an effort to get a pizza fix, I quickly realized that most of these recipes call for some kind of sweetener and dairy.  Many so called Paleo recipes were not really Paleo at all!  They were just grain free, which apparently is the primary concern for cavemen wannabes. So, again, if you’re considering this way of eating, you may not have to suffer as I am, since it seems you can have dairy and maple syrup/honey from time to time without being considered rogue. Believe me, it makes all the difference in the world. But, if you have it in you, I highly recommended doing a strict Paleo diet for a few weeks, if not 30 days, just to check in with your body and see how it does without the dairy and sugars. 

Well, so back to my main point…after I realized that I was grumpy about a diet that allowed me to eat eggs and bacon, it kind of helped me get through day 2.  I started to focus on what I COULD have (always a good idea), and I started to get the hang of the ins and outs of the diet. Of course I was having major withdrawal symptoms from my daily consumption of caffeine, organic cane sugar in my tea, dairy, and grains.  These symptoms were clouding my thoughts and draining my energy, so I pretty much just slept through days 3 and 4.  I had zero energy!  None.  I also was hungry constantly. My pH levels were in the toilet. Literally.  Did I mention that I was grumpy?

But thankfully day 5 brought a much brighter, and lighter, me.  I had dropped 5 pounds by then, and was starting to get my energy back. It was still not enough energy to exercise though, which was bumming me out, but at least I wasn’t sleepy anymore. However, over the last few days I’ve had a lot more energy and even managed to catch a class at my favorite yoga place, Pranayoga. I can’t even say how much I needed that, both mentally and physically.  I knew I wanted to incorporate yoga during this diet study as a way to help cleanse my body but also to gain some mental focus. My muscles were sore the next day, and were a gentle reminder that I need to use them more! 

I can’t say that the Paleo diet is the one for me, or not, just yet. But, I have become much more conscious of what I eat, and it is helping me as a nutritionist to understand what my clients might go through, as well as what aspects I want to continue to focus on after the diet is over. I think anyone who struggles with food or their weight needs to get themselves into a 30 day diet challenge just to put a perspective on how food works with their body.  

I came into nutrition school feeling as though there was only one way for people to eat and I was determined to be that person who finally discovered the secret. But, now, after tons of reading, research, and personal experience, I realize that each person has a diet that is right for them. Almost like a fingerprint, we are each unique in our nutritional needs as well.  I hope to be able to educate people to learn to listen to their inner nutritionist so that they can intuitively understand the right foods to eat.  Eating healthy shouldn’t be such a challenge.  I mean, if a caveman could do it…

If you’d like to follow my daily meals and other fun informative nutrition tips, please like my page on Facebook at Whole to Healthy!