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Simple Strategies For Relieving Stress in the Kitchen

Simple Strategies For Relieving Stress in the Kitchen

If your kitchen has become a centre for stress, these 4 tips can help simplify your cooking style so you have more time to relax and enjoy healthy and delicious meals. (And if the thought of cooking a turkey dinner this Thanksgiving holiday is just too stressful, then why not join us at Rancho la Puerta in Baja, Mexico and have someone else do the cooking for you?!)

Remember, cooking should be a way to relieve stress rather than cause it. The act of preparing a meal can divert the mind from the day’s activities and bring into focus the food you are creating. And the smell and taste sensations that come from preparing a delicious dish are immensely satisfying.

Kitchen Tips: Plan Ahead

Tip 1. Draw It Up

In order to be prepared for the coming week, take a few minutes to plan your meals. Check your schedule (as well as your family’s) for any meal conflicts that might arise (such as evening sports games or late nights at work) and then work around it. By organizing in advance, it alleviates the stress of coming home and trying to figure out what’s for dinner.

Kitchen Tip: Write it down

Tip 2. Write It Down

Many people don’t realize this but you don’t need to spend a lot of time in your average super market because: a) you just have to stick to the outer aisles to get everything you need and b) when you write down a detailed shopping list, it prevents you from wandering into the middle aisles where you’ll find all the processed, unhealthy food. When you write down your list, group items by what aisle they’re in and you’ll save a lot of time, energy and stress.

Kitchen Tip: Prep your food ahead of time

Tip 3. Divvy It Up

If you’ve ever watched a cooking show on TV, you’ll notice that the professional chefs always divvy up their ingredients into separate bowls before beginning the preparation. This extra step ensures you’re not having to look for something at the last second while things are boiling over. It helps you stay in line and on time and definitely takes the stress out of mixing ingredients together.

Kitchen tip: Work Ahead

Tip 4. Work Ahead

Consider cooking extra food or even two meals at once, and reheating on a busier day. Some Mountain Trek favourites include Smoked Salmon and Halibut Chowder, Super Vitalizing Quinoa Salad and Greek Feta & Turkey Stew. Even fresh vegetables can be prepared ahead of time – simply blanch them (ie: parboil in water or steam) in order to remove at the start of the week and store them for use later when you can quickly rewarm or sautée them.

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What Happens To Your Body One Hour After Drinking A Coke?

Did you know over 1.8 billion (billion!) bottles of Coke are consumed around the world every day? No doubt you’ve had one recently and enjoyed the pleasurable effects of the short-term sugar rush. But did you know that one can of Coke (or Pepsi or any other cola product) has so much sugar in it, the only thing preventing your body from immediately rejecting it by vomiting is the phosphoric acid that’s also evident in it. (Incidentally, phosphoric acid is so acidic, it will dissolve a nail in about four days.)

With concerns of heart disease and diabetes on the rise, people are starting to rethink the types of liquids they consume. And then there are people like Niraj Naik, a pharmacist and UK blogger with the handle The Renegade Pharmacist, who’s recent studies have caused us all to be highly concerned about the negative effects of drinking cola. Naik recently created this infographic detailing the physical effects a Coke has on the body within the first hour of consumption. To say the findings are disturbing is an understatement. Thankfully, there’s always water! In our blog about Soda Versus Water, we talk about all the benefits H20 has on your body and your overall wellness. Cheers!

coca-cola-facts-mountain-trek

First 10 Minutes

10 teaspoons of sugar hit your system. (Which is 100% of your recommended daily intake.) You don’t immediately vomit from the overwhelming sweetness because phosphoric acid cuts the flavour allowing you to keep it down.

20 Minutes

Your blood sugar spikes, causing an insulin burst. Your liver responds to this by turning any sugar it can get its hands on into fat. (There’s plenty of that at this particular moment.)

40 Minutes

Caffeine absorption is complete. Your pupils dilate, your blood pressure rises, and, as a response your liver dumps more sugar into your bloodstream. The adenosine receptors in your brain are now blocked, thus preventing drowsiness.

45 Minutes

Your body ups your dopamine production stimulating the pleasure centers of your brain. This is physically the same way heroin works, by the way.

60 Minutes

The phosphoric acid binds calcium, magnesium and zinc in your lower intestine, providing a further boost in metabolism. This is compounded by high doses of sugar, which increases the urinary excretion of calcium.

After 60 Minutes

The caffeine’s diuretic properties come into play. (It makes you have to pee.) It is now assured that you’ll evacuate the bonded calcium, magnesium and zinc that was headed to your bones as well as sodium, electrolyes and water.

As the rave inside of you dies down you’ll start to have a sugar crash. You may becaome irritable and/or sluggish. You’ve also now, literally, peed away all the water that was in the Coke. But not before infusing it with valuable nutrients your body could have used for things like having the ability to hydrate your system or build strong bones and teeth.

But What About Diet Coke?

And in case you’re thinking Diet Coke is healthier for you, have a look at this other infographic below, also done by UK blogger Niraj Naik. Not only do you suffer the same affects as drinking a Coke, you also have the added negative impact of Aspartame — an artificial sweetener that’s essentially a poison for your entire digestive system.

diet-coke-consumption-mountain-trek

 

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Five Weight Loss Must-Haves for Every Kitchen

No doubt you have a fair few gadgets in your kitchen but there are really only a handful that are needed in order to ensure you stick to a healthy weigh-loss regimen. Here they are:

#1. Kitchen Scale

If you really want to get serious about weight loss then it’s important you understand portion size. Purchase an inexpensive food scale and weigh your food before you eat it. You’ll be surprised by how much you underestimate the amount you eat.

yellow-retro-kitchen-scale#2. Smaller Plates

Of course you can hold onto your larger plates for when you’re entertaining guests but for your regular, daily meals you should have a stack of plates handy that are no more than 10 inches (25 cm) in diameter. That way you’ll ensure your portion sizes aren’t too large.

selection-of-plate-sizes-and-bowls

#3. Good Measuring Cups and Spoons

Like the kitchen food scale, these items are essential for maintaining portion sizes. You can be more free-form with the spices, but when it comes to fats, proteins and carbohydrates, it’s best to measure.

pink measuring cups and silver measuring spoons

#4. Water Jug

Having a beautiful looking jug on your counter top that’s always filled with room-temperature water will encourage you to drink more of it.

Three-glass-water-jugs

#5. Pedometer

OK, technically this isn’t a kitchen gadget but if it resides in your kitchen where you spend a lot of your time, then you’ll be more inclined to use it. Pedometers come in all shapes and sizes and most are inexpensive. Keep one around your kettle or breakfast food area so that when you wake up in the morning it’s there to remind you to get in your 10,000 steps per day.

pedometer

Bonus: A Tablet

Like the pedometer, this one isn’t exactly a kitchen gadget either, but with a tablet (or laptop or smart phone) you’ll be able to access recipe sites and social media sites, such as Pinterest, that offer excellent, delicious and interesting dishes to try. And in the near future there will be a Mountain Trek app that you’ll be able to use as well. Stay tuned for more about that exciting development!

tablet-in-the-kitchen

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Cinnamon Granola Recipe

Recipe for Cinnamon Granola

This delicious, gluten-free Cinnamon Granola recipe is perfect for breakfast because it’s easy to make and can be stored for weeks. The ingredient list below is enough to make eight servings.

Ingredients:

2 ¼ cups rolled oats (certified gluten free)
¼ cup slivered almonds
¼ cup pumpkin seeds
½ cup sunflower seeds
2 tbsp grapeseed oil
2 tbsp maple syrup
¼ tsp almond extract
½ tbsp pure vanilla extract
1 tbsp cinnamon

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 325°F
  • Mix grains, nuts and seeds together on a large baking tray
  • Combine remaining ingredients together in a saucepan and heat briefly
  • Pour over nut/oat mixture and toss well to coat
  • Bake for 45 minutes until lightly toasted. Stir every 15 minutes to brown evenly
  • Cool before storing in airtight container
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Cuisine Secrets – 10 Ways to Cook Healthier

We are regularly asked by those who visit Mountain Trek how it is that our food is so delicious and yet we avoid using such “staples” as refined carbohydrates, salt and sugar. The good news is it’s simple: we just don’t have any of those things in our kitchen.

Here are 10 more secrets to healthy cooking, compliments of the chefs at Mountain Trek.

#1. Use Smart Fats

Coconut-Oil-Healthy-Fats

There are two types of fat: unsaturated, such as olive oil, and saturated, such as butter. Choose the first more often and only eat the latter in smaller doses.

#2. Eat More Fruits and Vegetables

Fruit-and-Vegetables

Stick to whole (unprocessed) grains such as wild rice and quinoa, which have more fibre, zinc and other nutrients.

#3. Go Unrefined

Unrefined-Honey-and-whole-flax-seeds

If you take nothing else away from these secrets, remember this: eat more vegetables and fruits and less of almost everything else.

#4. It’s Not All About the Meat

Dried-beans---not-all-about-meat

Meat is a source of protein but most also contain saturated fat. Eat small portions and substitute often with beans and legumes such as peas.

 

#5. Lessen Intake of Fat-Filled Dairy Products

Less-Dairy-Almond-Milk

Fat-free dairy products are usually full of artificial sweeteners, which are worse than fat in our opinion. Better to lessen your intake of fat-filled dairy all together.

#6. Keep Portions Reasonable

Portion-Control

At Mountain Trek we’re big proponents of healthy meal composition as well as meal timings. Remember to keep portions small and simple and eat the majority of your daily food before 5:00 pm.

#7. Avoid Sweeteners

avoid-sweeteners-cup-of-plain-tea

Whether you’re using unrefined honey or white sugar, you’re adding calories to your meal and hardly any nutritional value.

#8. Reduce Sodium

Reduce-Sodium---Spilled-salt-shaker

The recommended intake of salt per day is about a teaspoon – which you will get naturally in your food. Throw away that salt shaker.

#9. Go For the Flavour

Spices---Flavour-your-food

There are many other delicious ways to flavour your dishes than just using salt and pepper. Fresh herbs, spices and citrus will add punch to your meals without making you feel you’re missing out.

#10. Be Mindful and Enjoy

Be-Mindful-and-Enjoy-your-food---wooden-fork-with-spring-greens

In our current culture it’s so easy to just grab the most convenient thing in the cupboard and run. (Or worse, eat out for every meal.) But by putting more time and effort into your cooking you’ll be happier, healthier and enjoy a lot more vitality.

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A Full Day of Spa Cuisine Recipes

Spa-CuisineThere has been a lot of talk about "spa cuisine" in the past year and some people are questioning just exactly what the phrase means. Some assume it's vegetarian or flavourless or served in tiny qualities. Others wonder if it's new-age "superfood" or supplemental vitamins. In actual fact, spa cuisine can include meat, it's delicious and, at Mountain Trek, it's served in perfect portions at the right times during the day so your body doesn't crave non-essential foods. From a scientific perspective, spa cuisine utilizes the natural elements, nutrients and minerals in food to assist the body so that it can function at an optimal level of vitality. In layman's terms, it looks colourful and tastes delicious! You'll find little-to-no processed or refined ingredients in spa cuisine, and in many instances a lot of what you'll be consuming is locally grown or raised and seasonally appropriate. At Mountain Trek, you'll discover that every single one of our meals is well-balanced and amazingly tasty. In fact, we have an on-site nutritionist who ensures the ideal amount of protein, carbohydrates, fruits and vegetables are consumed throughout the day, and at specific times of day, while our chef is always discovering new and delicious ways to prepare the dishes. To learn more about meal composition and timings read our Healthy Eating Tips blog. But if you're looking for a daily sample of delicious spa cuisine, we've included three recipes below for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Bon Appétit!

Breakfast

Manna Bread Breakfast RecipeManna Bread Breakfast

Manna Bread is made with whole sprouted grain berries and pure water – a far cry from the heavily processed bread you find in most supermarkets. Manna bread can come in rye or multigrain or varieties and is available at your local health food store. Loaves tend to be smaller but that's because Manna Bread is more dense and filling. At Mountain Trek we'll typically serve men three half-inch slice in the morning while women receive two slices. Women's portion – serve with:

  • 2 slices smoked cheese (equaling ½ oz. or 14 grams)
  • 2 slices avocado
  • 3 slices tomato
  • 1 tbsp almond butter
  • Alfalfa sprouts

Men's portion – serve with:

  • 3 slices smoked cheese (equaling ¾ oz. or 21 grams)
  • 3 slices avocado
  • 3 slices tomato
  • 1 tbsp almond butter
  • Alfalfa sprouts

Lunch

Kootenay Mushroom Barley Lentil Soup

Kootenay Mushroom Barley Lentil Soup

This recipe tastes best when you use freshly picked mushrooms from the forest floor, like we do at Mountain Trek. Whatever mushrooms you use, though, this recipe (which serves 4) will be sure to delight and fulfill.

Ingredients:

  • 1 ¼ cup yellow onions, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 tsp grapeseed oil
  • 2 cups mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 cup celery, sliced
  • 1 cup carrots, finely chopped
  • 2 cup spinach
  • 1/3 cup barley
  • 2 ½ tbsp red lentils
  • 2 ½ tbsp sherry
  • ¾ tsp fresh rosemary
  • ¼ tsp black pepper
  • ¾ tsp paprika
  • ¾ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp thyme
  • 3 ½ cups veggie stock
  • 1 whole bay leaf
  • 2 ½ tbsp parsley
  • ½ tbsp Bragg’s or tamari sauce
  • 2 tbsp flax oil
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne

Directions:

  • Heat oil and butter in large soup pan.
  • Add onions, celery, carrots and sauté until translucent.
  • Add mushrooms, garlic and sauté until translucent.
  • Add barley, lentils and spices and sauté for 10 minutes.
  • Add stock and let cook over medium heat for approximately 30 minutes or until the barley is done. 
  • Add Bragg’s, sherry, flax oil and parsley.
  • At Mountain Trek our portions are typically two cups for men and 1.5 cups for women.

Dinner

The Kootenay Bowl

The Kootenay Bowl

This easy-to-make dish is as colourful as it is delicious. It serves four.

Tofu + Marinade:

  • 1 ½ blocks (600 grams) herbed tofu, cubed. (By freezing, thawing and then squeezing the excess water from the tofu its texture changes, allowing it to absorb the marinade.)
  • 2½ tbsp tamari
  • 2½ tbsp grapeseed oil
  • 2½ tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • ¼ – ½ tsp. rosemary powder
  • Blend above ingredients and marinate cubed tofu in it for at least 2 hours before cooking. 
  • Reserve some marinade for cooking tofu.

Dressing: 

  • 2 tbsp nutritional yeast flakes
  • 2½ tbsp water
  • 2½ tbsp tamari sauce
  • 2½ tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp grapeseed oil
  • 1 tbsp tahini Blend above ingredients and serve on the side.

The Bowl:

  • ½ cup quinoa cooked in 1 ¼ cup water
  • 4 cup mixed greens
  • ½ cup beets, grated
  • ½ cup carrots, grated
  • ½ cup red cabbage, shredded very fine
  • 4 large cherry tomatoes, halved 2 tbsp sunflower seeds, toasted 4 pinches alfalfa sprouts
  • Rinse quinoa well and cook until tender (about 12-15 minutes).
  • Sauté tofu in a small amount of the marinade until browned on all sides. 
  • Place greens on the bottom of each bowl, put quinoa on top of that, then add rows of carrots, beets and red cabbage.
  • Sprinkle with sunflower seeds; add tofu, sprouts and tomatoes.
  • At Mountain Trek we serve the following portions: women receive 7 cubes of tofu, 1/4 cup of cooked quinoa and 1 1/2 tbsp of dressing; men receive 9 cubes of tofu, 1/3 cup cooked quinoa and 2 tbsp of dressing.

To find more Mountain Trek recipes and to get the shopping list for these recipes, download our Habits 2 Health App now. 

Download App

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10 “Non-Diet” Weight Loss Tips and Simple Holiday Detox Ideas

[wps_social_buttons] Non-diet Approach

The “Non-Diet” Approach to Weight Loss

Mountain Trek does not subscribe to any diet plan and in fact, we don’t believe in the concept of dieting at all, and yet we guarantee those who participate in our program will lose weight. And they always do. Why is that? Well among other things we make sure everyone who attends Mountain Trek, whether it’s at the British Columbia Lodge or our Rancho La Puerta programs workout their bodies for portions of the day but there’s more to it than that. Our guests always compliment us on the quality of the food (for proof look at our TripAdvisor comments) and very few have ever said they’ve gone hungry during the program. So what’s the secret?

Have you ever stopped to wonder why there are so many fad diets out there? The fact is, none of them work, certainly not for any length of time anyway. And don’t even get us started on trendy weight loss pills and claims of slimness in a bottle or with one type of exercise device sold on late-night TV. So many of us binge and then starve our bodies only to repeat the cycle that it’s no wonder we have trouble maintain a healthy consistent weight. Problems such as obesity, diabetes and heart disease are all a result of improper eating practices combined with lack of physical activity for which our bodies were designed for.

At Mountain Trek we’re not interested in short-term efforts for losing weight but rather we want to encourage a long-term lifestyle change for lasting health. A large part of it rests on the nutritional pillar of our program, which isn’t so much based on counting calories as it is about encouraging healthful eating patterns and nutrition. We focus on balancing blood sugars and the hormones Insulin, Glucagon, Leptin and Grehlin, in order to raise and maintain an Anabolic metabolism. Which is just one way of saying, we teach you about healthy eating habits that transform your health. Our guests learn how to “diet” without actually going on a diet and these are just a few of the tips they take home with them after a stay at Mountain Trek along with the support-structure and strategies for turning them into long-term habits.

#1. Eat Breakfast within 30 minutes of getting out of bed

Healthy Breakfast

#2. Eat two-thirds of your food in the first 9 hours of the day

Steaming Bowl of Soup

#3. Eat multiple food groups every 3 hours during the day

Fruit & Nuts

#4. Eat slower and chew more

Eat slower, chew more.

#5. Eat out at restaurants less

Eat out at restaurants less

#6. Lower your intake of alcohol

Drink less alchohol

#7. Eliminate or minimize artificial sweeteners

Try Natural Sweeteners

#8. Detoxify your body regularly (see below)

Detoxify

#9. Eat less processed food and more organic produce

Fresh, local and organic produce.

#10. Drink more water

Drink more water


Detox

Detox Your Body This Month

If you read our tips for relieving holiday stress in last-month’s newsletter and then attended Mountain Trek’s Winter Program, chances are you’re feeling fit, healthy and happy. However, if you’re like most of us, you indulged a bit during the holiday season and are now looking to get back on track. Well, aside from the weight loss pointers mentioned above, there’s one other key thing you can do in order to encourage wellness and lose a few of those extra pounds that might have crept on what with all the holiday chocolates lying around. And the good news is that one thing is relatively easy to do.

Detoxification has been a tradition among most cultures on earth for centuries: from Scandinavian saunas to American sweat lodges mankind has understood the value of purging toxins through the skin. Essentially, the term refers to the process of removing injurious substances from our bodies, which can be biological (such as bacteria and viruses) or harmful chemicals like heavy metals, food processing compounds and cosmetics. (Nowadays processed foods contain more than 3,000 chemicals whereas at the turn of the century, the only preservative found in food was salt.) These toxins are continuously being flushed from our body through breath, sweat, urine, etc but problems arise if we can’t detoxify fast enough. What happens when we don’t purge these toxins quickly, our fat cells will get larger so the body can store the excess toxins and keep them safely away from sensitive tissue.  When the toxins are more concentrated, our fat cells will also increase in size to keep them diluted.

In other words, detoxing is not only good for riding the body of bad biology and chemicals, it’s also a good way to ensure your body doesn’t start harbouring fat cells. Here are just a few easy actions you can take to support your body in detoxifying:

  • Drink enough water throughout the day so that your urine is almost clear. This will help support your kidney’s removal of water-soluble toxins.
  • Utilize exercise, saunas and steams to aid the release of stored toxins.
  • Dry brushing your skin is another good way to encourage blood circulation, cell regeneration and toxin removal.
  • Eat fibre-rich foods to aid your intestines in moving toxins out of the body.  Constipation leads to toxin re-absorption.
  • Eat organic, pesticide-free produce, and less processed food.

Bonus: Detoxification Talk By Kirkland!


Salmon Fennel Leek Chowder Recipe

Salmon Fennel Chowder Recipe

This recipe will fill the emptiest of bellies and warm the coldest bodies. It’s intended to make a large portion so you can share it with friends or store it in the freezer for enjoying it later but if you’d prefer to make less, just halve the ingredient amounts.

Ingredients:

  • 1⁄4 cup coconut oil
  • 4 cups finely diced onion
  • 4 cups finely diced carrots
  • 4 cups finely diced celery

Sauté above ingredients until they start to brown lightly then add:

  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 16 cups veggie stock
  • 2 cups finely diced parsnips
  • 4 cups sweet potato diced
  • 2 cups diced fennel
  • 2 cups leeks
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 2 tsp. thyme
  • 3 tsp. salt (to taste)
  • 1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

Bring to a boil and then lower to a simmer and add:

  • 1 tsp. lemon zest
  • 1 – 2 Tbs. lemon juice
  • Pinch of cayenne
  • 3 salmon filets – deboned, cooked and flaked
  •  2 cans coconut milk
  • Almond/coconut flour to thicken as required

Cold Weather Must-Haves

Winter is fully upon us now and for most of us, we’re experiencing shorter days, colder temperatures and an aversion to going outside. It’s only natural to feel a bit more lethargic this time of year; in fact, our ancestors spent the winter months immersed in cultural activities rather than hunting and gathering. However, with the plethora of processed snacking foods within arm’s reach, it’s important to surround ourselves with “must-haves” that promote health and well-being. Here are just five things that we encourage to have near you at all times in order to weather the colder months and encourage wellness.

Ginger Lemon Tonic

#1. Ginger Lemon Tea

Enjoy a detoxifying and energizing ginger lemon tea every morning. There’s a reason ginger is called “the miracle root” – in fact, it’s one of nature’s best combinations of detoxifier, anti-inflammatory and digestive aid. You can read more about the tea and how to make it here. Plus it’s just nice to start your day with something warm.

Good Duvet

#2. A Good Duvet

Sleep is so important any time of year but in the winter months when the temperature drops at night it’s important we’re comfortable. That doesn’t mean cranking up the thermostat, however, as most of us are not attuned to sleeping well in the heat. Keep the inside temperature of your house cool at night but cozy up under a good duvet or thick blankets and you’ll sleep more soundly.

Warm & Hearty Recipes

#3. Warm, Hearty Recipes

There are many recipes on the Mountain Trek site for healthy and hearty soups and chili. They are made with vitality-nurturing nutritious ingredients and their warming qualities will dispel the day’s chill. A few we recommend are Bison Chipotle Chili and Squash & Turkey Soup.

A Hot Bath

#4. A Hot Bath

Lying in a warm bath filled with epsom salts is not only relaxing, it’s also a good way to detoxify. It’ll help remove any damp chill that has seeped into your bones and it will open up your pores and encourage toxins to exit your body. If you don’t have a bathtub, a hot shower is an OK replacement but a visit to the local gym for a soak in their hot tub is even better.

Layered Clothing

#5. Layered Clothing

A good quality pair of merino wool long underwear and a long-sleeved top is invaluable at warding off any winter chill when you’re out in the elements. Even if you’re just going for a walk to the corner store, remember to layer and dress appropriately as it doesn’t take long for the chill to sink in and when it does, it can take awhile to disperse it again.


Bonus: A Sun-Filled Getaway!

What better way to beat the winter cold than by escaping entirely and heading to sunny Baja, Mexico for Mountain Trek’s Rancho La Puerta program. Watch the video below and Kirkland will explain the highlights of the program and why it’s an excellent mid-winter vacation option.

7 Crucial Healthy Eating Tips, 5 Easy Nutrition Tips & A Recipe

[wps_social_buttons] Tips for Staying Healthy

Does this sound a bit like your lifestyle:

Wake up groggy ➨ Coffee ➨ Commute to office ➨ Coffee ➨ Quick lunch at desk ➨ Chocolate/Coffee to spike low energy ➨ Commute home ➨ Huge dinner ➨ Watch TV ➨ Sleep ➨ Wake up groggy

Perhaps you’ve tried diets or removing certain food groups from your meals in order to lose weight and be energized throughout your day? Or maybe you’ve swung the other direction and are addicted to certain foods and can’t get through a day without them (like coffee for example)?

Well, let’s take a step back and look at not only the types of food you’re consuming, but how you’re eating them. Our modern-day culture stresses what kinds of food to eat (by the way, there’s a reason there are so many diets fads in the world – it’s because none of them work) but not a lot of sources are concentrating on how and when you eat food and its impact on your overall health. And now that we’re heading into the holiday season, especially Americans who are about to celebrate Thanksgiving, it’s more important than ever to stress some key healthy eating tips.

Meal Timings

Meal Timings

#1. If you take nothing else away from this article, remember one thing: eat breakfast within 30 minutes of waking up. Even if it’s just an Energy Smoothie. With the prevalence put on coffee these days, most of us wake up, have a cup of joe (or several), and, because caffeine is an appetite suppressant, we go the entire morning without eating. The problem with this scenario is your body reacts by thinking it’s being starved and builds up fat cells. Fall into a habit of this and quite quickly it becomes too hard to shed weight because the body is always worried about when the next meal will come. The simple solution to this is to eat some form of food within a half-hour of waking and three things will happen:

  • You’ll kick-start your metabolism for the day
  • You’ll be supporting your circadian rhythm and will have more energy
  • You’ll keep your liver from initiating the “famine” response

We know that a warm cup of coffee is very comforting, especially as the cold weather settles in, but consider trying alternatives like ginger tea, which helps cleanse the liver rather than tax it, or perhaps a barley-based coffee substitute like Bambu or Akava. At the very least, try lessening your coffee intake by just have one a morning after your first meal or smoothie.

#2. Eat two-thirds of your food in the first nine hours of the day. This is an issue that’s most especially prevalent in North America where we tend to consume coffee during the day and then have a huge meal right before we watch TV and fall asleep. The issue with this scenario is the body doesn’t have the ability to work off all those extra calories over the course of your sleeping period and so it tends to store it all as fat. By eating most of your food during the first half of your day you:

  • Allow your body to burn off those calories by walking and being active and
  • You reduce your evening blood sugar levels so insulin doesn’t store excess as fat

This may seem difficult to do at first because large dinners can seem so satisfying but just try it for a little while and we’re positive your energy levels will increase in the morning.

#3. Not only will you benefit from eating within the first nine of hours of your day, you’ll also feel better if you consume multiple food groups every three hours during the day. By snacking regularly you convince the body you’re not starving and it will be less likely to store fat. Let’s preface this, however, by saying that a snack does not include an entire bag of Doritos. All you need is a piece of fruit and a handful of seeds or nuts or any of our top 5 on-the-go-snacks to keep your energy up. And by eating throughout the day you will:

  • Keep your blood sugars steady and avoid spokes and insulin response from eating just a few large meals
  • Avoid the “famine” response and resulting fat storage from skipping meals
  • Avoid energy drops associated with low blood sugar that tends to have us craving coffee, chocolate or another caffeine source

Meal Composition

Meal Composition

As we mentioned above, not only is it important to watch what you eat, it’s also important to watch how much and when you’re eating it. At Mountain Trek we honour people’s choices when it comes to vegetarianism or veganism but we believe it’s crucial to combine multiple food groups at each meal and snack. So whether you get your protein from meat, beans, certain leafy greens kale or our delicious homemade protein bars (avoid store-bought ones as they’re full of calories, among other things) you should be eating it at every meal. Likewise complex carbohydrates (think slow-cooked oatmeal not white bread and most cereals, which contain refined sugar and starches) and vegetables and fruit. We should also stress that we prefer local, fresh, organic and unprocessed foods (stay away from the centre aisles at the grocery store), and as much variety of them as possible. And if you’re eating animal protein, choose organic, wild or free-range that are free of hormones and antibiotics. Here is how we break down our meals at Mountain Trek:

#1. At breakfast we recommend equal volumes of complex carbohydrates, protein, vegetables or fruit as well as a teaspoon of omega oil and small amount of dairy (or substitute if you’re allergic or have an intolerance). By combining these items you benefit by:

  • supporting a “glycemic load,” which contributes to a longer, slower release of blood sugars and avoid insulin spikes
  • getting important minerals, vitamins and phytochemicals, which do the body wonders especially first thing in the morning
  • the high fibre from complex carbohydrates provides chromium to help regulate blood sugars and it creates a sense of fullness, lowering appetite

#2. Lunch should be two-thirds vegetables and a third protein with a small dairy component or substitute.

#3. Dinner should be made up of the following: a half vegetables, a quarter complex carbohydrates and a quarter protein with a small dairy component or substitute. This is because:

  • Higher vegetable portions (salads, soups, steamed or sautéed) provide antioxidants, fibre and phytochemicals to support active, growth-centered metabolism
  • Fewer dinner calories reduces the chance of fat storage
  • It promotes a healthy appetite for breakfast

#4. At Mountain Trek we believe in feeding the body AND feeding the soul. Therefore, we don’t expect you to follow this eating program to the letter. If you can try to eat like the way we detail above five days of the week and allow yourself two days to consume what we call “soul foods” you’ll be happier, and that has a huge impact on your health as well!

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Afterglow Almond Butter Dressing Recipe

Afterglow Almond Butter Dressing Recipe

This is the most sought-after recipe at Mountain Trek and for good reason: it’s delicious and makes you want to eat salads!

Ingredients:

3⁄4 cup organic smooth almond butter
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
1 tablespoon Bragg Liquid Aminos – (may use tamari if braggs is not available – start with 1⁄2 Tbs. if using tamari)
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon rice vinegar
1 crushed garlic clove (or 1⁄2 teaspoon minced)
1 teaspoon curry powder
3⁄4 c. water
1⁄4 tsp. veggie broth powder
1⁄4 teaspoon salt as needed to taste

Directions:

Combine all ingredients in a blender. Purée until smooth. Chill. Use on cooked vegetables or as a salad dressing. Will keep refrigerated for one week.
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Five Easy Nutrition Tips

Aside from the seven suggestions above about when and how to eat, there are five easy-to-implement nutrition tips that will help increase your vitality and support your health. They are:

Drink your food; eat your water

#1. Drink Your Food; Eat Your Water

In other words, eat slower, chew more and swish your water around in your mouth before you swallow. Not only will this help initiate the breakdown of carbohydrates with saliva enzymes and ease digestion, you will allow time for the vagus nerve to communicate when you’re full, thereby avoiding over-eating.

Eat Out Less

#2. Eat Out Less

We all love restaurants but there’s a reason their food tastes so good: lots of butter, oil, sugar and salt. By visiting fewer restaurants you’ll avoid over-sized portions, lots of empty calories and fat. We’re not saying never go to restaurants, but perhaps limit it to once-a-week or special occasions.

Drink Less Alcohol

#3. Drink Less Alcohol

It’s especially important to avoid more alcohol as the cold weather and holidays approach. All alcohol has empty calories (even the ones marketed as being free of carbs) and when combined with excessive eating at Thanksgiving and Christmas, it’s a one-two punch that will guarantee weight gain. We’re not saying don’t drink at all, just limit binge drinking and consider only drinking at meal times to help your liver process.

Minimize Artifical Sweeteners

#4. Minimize Artificial Sweeteners

This means limiting (or better yet, eliminating) sodas, energy drinks, candy and all the toxins associated with them. If you want a treat, consider having chocolate that contains 80% cocoa or better yet sweet fruit like dates. We can’t stress this enough because, ultimately, artificial sweeteners fall into the category of really bad foods given their poisonous qualities.

Explore the Sour Eight

#5. Explore Your Sensitivity to the “Sour Eight”

The Sour Eight are wheat, corn, dairy, soy, sugar, eggs, alcohol and peanuts and the majority of the population has some form of sensitivity to at least one of these. Sensitivities could range from full-blown allergies to mild discomfort but by taking time to remove one of these from your diet for a month, you could avoid constipation, bloating, excess mucus, fatigue, headaches, water retention and most shockingly of all, you could eliminate 5-15 pounds of water retention in your bowels! Try it: start with peanuts and see how you feel in terms of vitality after a month. You may not notice a difference in which case move on to eggs and then work towards the others, which you’ll find are a little more difficult to eliminate as they’re so omnipotent. But ultimately isn’t your health and vitality worth it?

 

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10+ Tips to Keep Well and Active as the Cold Weather Approaches

Autumn Hiking at Mountain Trek

Summer is officially over in many parts of the world and the cooler weather is upon us. The days are getting shorter, the thermometer is dropping and our bodies are entering into what was, traditionally, a time of dormancy. Before the industrial revolution, we humans would spend the winter months in a state of quiescence – there was very little farming, hunting or gathering to be done so we’d slow down and conserve our fat stores. These days, our bodies are still programmed to a certain amount of inaction during the colder months but, unlike the past, we now have plenty of fatty and processed foods to snack on during that time.

Here are some tips to help you avoid a lot of unhealthy snacking and remain well and active as winter rolls in.

#1. Avoid Drinking More Coffee

Morning Ginger Tea

With cooler temperatures comes the desire to drink hot drinks and the most prevalent, especially in the Western world, is coffee. However comforting that cup of Joe is on a cool day, however, one must remember the harmful effects of caffeine. There is a proven relationship between caffeine and weight gain. Continuous consumption of it leads to prolonged levels of cortisol in the bloodstream, which has a negative effect on metabolism, blood sugar levels and blood pressure. Instead of drinking more coffee, consider other hot drink alternatives such as a detoxifying and energizing morning ginger tea.

#2. Avoid More Alcohol

Avoid Alcohol

As we enter months where the nights are longer, we as a species are driven to socialize more in the evenings. And in our modern world, that typically means there is more alcohol on offer. We at Mountain Trek are not abolitionists by any stretch but we think it’s important to stress alcohol’s relationship to weight gain. All alcohol has calories (even the ones marketed as being free of carbs) and so by consuming more, you’re adding to your fat stores. In the case of alcohol this is doubly taxing because it stresses your liver and impairs its ability to flush toxins. Imbibe in the occasional drink but considering capping of the evening with a nightcap of #3.

#3. Drink More Water

Drink More Water

Last year we wrote a post about water versus soda pop and one of the most interesting facts about lack of water was that it is the number one trigger of daytime fatigue. As we enter the longer, colder months, our bodies tend to want to slow down and lethargy is more prevalent – drinking a few glasses of water easily rectifies that. Plus it helps you flush toxins and curb hunger pangs.

#4. Get a Good Nights Sleep

Get a Good Night's Sleep

As the night’s get longer our bodies respond by desiring a bit more shut-eye. Although our bodies require between seven and nine hours of sleep a night, there are many sleep problems that are preventing some of us from getting that. The good news is there are easy things you can do to ensure a good night’s rest. In this post we list seven tricks but the most important is to make your bedroom a work-free and gadget-free zone. Leave all electronic devices outside the bedroom and enjoy some shut-eye unhampered by bells, lights and agendas.

#5. Go For a Soak

Go for a Soak

This one is easy, especially as the colder months set in: find yourself a bathtub, hot tub or hot spring and just lie there. That’s it. There are many therapeutic benefits to a good soak but the main one is relaxation; the power of de-stressing is not to be underestimated, especially because balanced hormones lead to balanced health.

#6. Get Massaged

Massage

As with #5, this one isn’t that difficult either. There are reasons most cultures on earth have offered some form of massage for thousands of years: not only is it relaxing, it’s also good for your health. In fact, an evening massage is one of the best ways to relax after the day’s activities. It will help prepare you for a restful night’s sleep.

#7. Enlist the Help of a Friend

Enlist the help of a friend

In another blog post we listed seven reasons why you should work out with a friend and these apply that much more in the cooler months when it’s easy for us to justify sitting in front of the TV under a blanket instead of getting up and moving. A friend will help keep you accountable but will also make fitness that much more fun.

#8. Exercise – Even Just a Little

Exercise

It goes without saying that we here at Mountain Trek are big fans of exercise, no matter what time of year it is. We also appreciate, however, that when the cooler weather sets in, it can be harder to get motivated. That’s why we’ve compiled some tips to help beat sedentarism some of which are as easy as doing stretches in your office doorway. Remember, though, that to keep your metabolism up and your weight down, your body has to move for at least 40 minutes a day, even if it’s just a brisk walk around the block.

#9. Show Yourself Some Love

Show Yourself Some Love

There are many ways to pamper yourself but the best is to do something you enjoy. It seems like such a simple thing and yet many of us work so hard, by the end of the day we only have energy to sit in front of the TV. Take time in the coming months to do something that recharges your batteries: read a good book by the fire, indulge in a hobby or attend a class. You’ll find you’ll be happier and have more energy to face the cooler weather and shorter days.

#10. Book a Stay with Mountain Trek

Book your stay at Mountain Trek

The best way to pamper yourself is to dedicate a vacation to you and your health. Join us at Rancho La Puerta in the beautiful Baja in November or February to revel in the sunshine. Or come out for a fun-filled time of winter activity at our gorgeous lodge in British Columbia where you’ll enjoy the pristine snowy environment and hang out with like-minded friends by the fire, in the natural hot springs or in our new spa.


How to Top up on Vitamin D Now That the Days are Shorter

Vitamin D

Now that the days are getting shorter, are you feeling a little low on energy? Could be that you’ve come to your ‘D-day’, a time in the year when Vitamin D gets scarcer. But the good news is it’s easy to top up with some delicious nutrient-rich foods and, of course, a visit to sunny Rancho La Puerta in the Baja with Mountain Trek!

In addition to being absolutely necessary for bone growth and repair, Vitamin D also aids calcium absorption in the gut, is responsible for the modulation of cell growth, neuromuscular and immune system function, and reduction of inflammation. It also helps with depression prevention! There’s no question this Vitamin’s role is crucial to our body’s functioning health and there are two natural ways to get it: by the sun’s UV rays, and through our diet. Yet, in the months when the days get shorter, the sun is low in the sky and usually cloud covered and most of us aren’t getting enough of the sunshine vitamin. By the time spring rolls around, many of us are Vitamin D deficient. To help us stay topped up on this important player in the body’s functioning health, we’ve taken a look at two solutions: a sunny, healthy vacation and eating foods rich is this necessary nutrient.

Where Do I get my Vitamin D?

When UV rays from sunlight touch the skin, this triggers Vitamin D synthesis. But when sun exposure is at a minimum during the winter months, we can turn to diet to help with our vitamin D intake. Unfortunately, very few foods are high in Vitamin D naturally, and so it is not possible to get all the Vitamin D you need from diet alone. In conjunction with a high quality multi-vitamin, here are some of the best food sources of Vitamin D:

Fatty fish: So very nutritious for you for so many reasons, fish such as salmon, mackerel, and sardines, and even seafood such as oysters, contain some of the highest concentrations of Vitamin D in food.

Eggs: Not only high in protein and so many other nutrients (Vitamin B12), the sunshine yellow of egg yolks do contain a hearty helping of Vitamin D.

Beef liver: Not everyone’s favorite, but when mom said ‘eat up!’ to those liver and onions, she knew what she was talking about as far as Vitamin D’s concerned.

Mushrooms: Certain varieties of mushrooms, like white button, can provide Vitamin D among other nutrients (Vitamin B5) when lightly cooked.

Many foods are fortified with Vitamin D for the simple reason that we don’t get enough in our diet, or in general. Almost all milk (and baby formula) in the U.S. and Canada is fortified with Vitamin D as are some orange juices, soy products and cereals. But please use caution and check labels, as many of these products can contain refined sugars, hydrogenated oils, and other undesirables.

What About Sunny Vacations?

Sunny Vacations

Who doesn’t enjoy a relaxing trip to a more sunny clime during the cooler fall and winter months? It’s important, though, to moderate your solar intake while on vacation. So many of us rush to the beach and neglect proper sun care in the quest for the perfect tan. This is definitely more harmful than not having any sun at all. Instead, stay out of the sun when it’s at its peak or cover up with loose-fitting, SPF-rated clothing, hat and sunglasses. In fact, the best way to monitor your sun intake while staying healthy is to join Mountain Trek on a retreat to the beautiful Rancho La Puerta property in Baja, Mexico, just a one-hour drive south of San Diego. Our guides will help you take care of your sunscreen needs while keeping you physically active outdoors. It’s the perfect way to get both a Vitamin D infusion and a health reboot at the same time. If a sun-filled, exercise-fueled vacation in the Baja sounds like something you’d be interested in, be sure to contact us soon as both the November and February spots are filling up!

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Featured Cool Weather Recipe

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