Superfood Spotlight: Chia Seeds

The #1 superfood that I recommend to my clients, family, friends, strangers…everyone, is chia seeds. I often get this reaction: “You mean like Chia Pets?!?” They are surprised that the answer is YES! Chia seeds are the seeds of the grass that grows in those funny lawn ornaments…that have been given all too often as holiday swap gifts. :)

So why are they so great? Chia seeds have been a prized food source for quite a long time. The Aztecs ate them for energy and strength. A naturally gluten free food, chia seeds are a fantastic plant based source of omega fatty acids. They have more omega-3s than salmon per serving and are safe to eat on a daily basis. They are also a good source of protein and dietary fiber and known to aid in weight loss. When mixed with liquid they swell and create a gel like consistency which digests slowly and easily, making you feel full longer without bloating. The soluble fiber they contain also promotes the growth of good bacteria in the intestines and helps block absorption of calories from fat. Chia seeds are high in vitamins and minerals such as calcium, magnesium (which we need to help absorb calcium), iron, manganese and phosphorus. Believe it or not, just one tablespoon of chia seeds contains more calcium than a glass of milk and more antioxidants than blueberries!

There are many ways to incorporate these little wonders into your eating habits. The simplest is adding them to water and drinking it down. They are an excellent thickening agent and therefore perfect for adding to smoothies, oatmeal or other grains, or mixing with nut milks to make chia pudding. They can also be used as an addition to baking recipes or as an egg substitute when baking. Add to soups, homemade energy bars, salad dressings or even sprout the seeds for salads! Chia seeds are incredibly versatile and a healthy nutritious addition to your diet.

Here at Kombu Kitchen, Chef Kristen loves using chia seeds in her cooking, especially as the main ingredient in her many varieties of delicious chia seed pudding. Cheers to Chia!

Well wishes,
Christy
Christy LeMire, CHHC
Holistic Nutrition Coach
Kombu Kitchen

The Soy Controversy

There has been a lot of talk about soy and whether or not it is safe. If you searched Wikipedia, you would see that the American Cancer Society, the Health and Human Services Agency for Healthcare Research, The FDA, The New England Journal of Medicine, and the American Heart Association have varying claims about the impact of soy on our bodies. Most major assiciations agree that it is safe, but don’t necessarily agree about it’s benefits. So is it good for you, not good for you, or both? Well, it depends on who you ask.

Here are some good things we know. Soy has a lot of Omega 3 fatty acids, which is great, and many studies show that it helps reduce LDL (the bad cholesterol). Plus, Asian countries with diets high in soy have lower rates of breast cancer. So can we conclude that soy reduces cancer risk, takes care of our hearts, and improves cognitive function? Well, maybe. But more long-term studies need to be done and not all experts fell that these claims will be proven true.

Dr. Oz likes soy. He says it doesn’t cause cancer and may prevent it. He says it is good for your heart, contains high levels of healthy protein and fiber, and that it does not affect thyroid function in those with a normal thyroid (I didn’t even know that one was in debate). Does that mean it’s safe for you? Well, unless Dr. Oz is your doctor, you cant go by him 100%.

Our lives are full of choices, and the only way to make smart ones is to educate ourselves. Do the rewards outweigh the risks? Is any risk too great? Is the risk real or perceived?

At Kombu Kitchen we believe that there are many great health benefits to soy. Chef Kristen is a breast and ovarian cancer survivor who chose to have a double mastectomy and hysterectomy to ensure that she was cancer free. She knows about the soy/estrogen and breast cancer debate, and she still eats soy! For her, moderation is key. She believes that there are many health benefits to soy and that it is an important part of a vegan diet. However, since more information is needed, she decides that some intake is good, but not too much…

She prepares menus at Kombu with that in mind. Soy is used in some dishes, but not the majority. She uses her knowlege, best judgement, and a variety of plant-sourced proteins in her diet and for Kombu meals. But in the end, what is best for you is up to you to decide. Pay attention to your body and how it feels when you eat particular foods, and do research so you are making informed choices. Here, at Kombu, we will continue to educate ourselves in all areas of health and wellness, feed you as we do our own families, and be a trusted resource to help you making the best decision you can about the food you eat.

By Kristen Thibeault

5 Ways You Can Help Prevent Cancer

If you think about it, pretty much everyone you know has been touched by cancer in some way. Thankfully, there are some amazing things happening in the medical world when it comes to cancer diagnosis and treatment. Lives are being prolonged and saved like never before. There are so many wonderful doctors, nurses, surgeons, fundraisers, volunteers, etc out there doing everything they can to cure cancer. We have them to be grateful for. But what can we as individuals do to help prevent cancer in the first place?

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, so I’d like to take the opportunity to celebrate some of the things that are within our control that we can do to reduce our risk of developing cancer. Although you may have inherited some biological factors that may increase your risk of certain cancers, you can help keep cancerous cells from developing, growing and multiplying by making certain diet and lifestyle choices. Imagine a sleeping bear. You could quietly walk around it at a safe distance all day without harm or you could poke the bear, agitating it and cause an attack. Now imagine the bear is cancer cells living inside you and a poor diet and lifestyle are your poking stick. Here are 5 ways you can avoid poking the bear!

An apple a day…

The reminder to eat your fruits and vegetables has been heard a zillion times and there is a reason. Almost 5,000 studies show that fresh fruits and veggies help prevent cancer. Among many other benefits, they increase the alkalinity of the body. An alkaline PH level is not conducive to the growth of cancer, where an acid PH is cancer friendly. Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables from all colors of the rainbow, especially fruits like berries that are high in antioxidants and green vegetables high in chlorophyll.

Limit refined sugar and simple carbs.

Cancer loves sugar. High blood sugar levels in the body create an environment where cancer cells can thrive. I recently attended a cancer awareness event and the refreshments served where a buffet of sugary pastries. To me, this seemed to send mixed messages! Unfortunately, refined sugars and simple carbohydrates (white sugar, white flour, soda, corn syrup, etc) surround us on a daily basis. It is up to us as individuals to gain control over our blood sugar levels and satisfy our sweet cravings with natural foods such as sweet vegetables, fruits and complex carbohydrates (vegetables, beans, legumes and grains such as quinoa and brown rice) and replace refined sugar with natural substitutes such as stevia, coconut sugar and molasses.

Reduce animal protein and dairy.

Animal milk contains essential growth factors which is why breast feeding is so important for newborns. Once this phase is over, the growth factors are no longer needed by the body and these excess hormones can disrupt the endocrine system and cause cancer cells to grow. T Colin Campbell completed a study that showed the effects of animal milk protein on animals with liver cancer. The study proved that when animal protein was replaced with plant based protein, the liver cancer stopped growing.

Choose organic and local when possible.

The quality of our food matters. Choosing organic produce, meats and dairy whenever possible will help ensure your food has not been heavily sprayed with harmful pesticides, genetically modified or injected with growth hormones. These toxins can fester and remain in the body and contribute to illness overtime. If organic produce is not available to you locally, try to find responsible low-spray farms where you can find freshly picked fruits and vegetables. The fresher, the more the nutrients remain intact!

Reduce and manage stress.

Stress is a part of life, but chronic stress can be taxing on the adrenal and immune systems. Making relaxation a priority in your life is an important step to reducing and managing stress in healthy ways. Scheduling time for yourself and finding activities such as breathing exercises, meditation, yoga, reading, journaling, walking or taking baths will help maintain your overall health and wellbeing.

Sending love and strength to all those effected by cancer and the hope that this knowledge can help you feel empowered to take control over your health! Please contact me with any questions or to learn how Kombu Kitchen can help you reach your health goals at christy@kombukitchen.com

Well wishes!

Christy
Christy LeMire, CHHC
Holistic Nutrition Coach
Kombu Kitchen

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