top 3 supplements for winter

top 3 supplements for winter ~stay healthy and happy all winter long~

Getting nutrients from food is always the way to go, however sometimes we need to “supplement” our diet with vitamins.  One of those times is during the winter.  The days are shorter, the weather is colder and our bodies become much more susceptible to falling ill to bugs and the winter blues.

Consider adding these supplements to your routine to get a jump start on staying healthy all winter long!

Vitamin D:  Vitamin D helps build strong bones along with calcium.  However, recent studies show that vitamin D increases the level of serotonin, relieving signs of seasonal affective disorder (SAD) or also known as the winter blues.  SAD can cause fatigue and feelings of sadness.  Let’s face it, who doesn’t have those days in the winter???

The body makes vitamin D when exposed to the sun, but how many of us see the sun in the winter?  If you live where I live in the North East, the sun goes down at 4:30.  Many people don’t get out of work until 5 when it’s already dark!  Vitamin D is found naturally in fish, fortified grains/dairy and egg yolks.  The RDA of Vitamin D is between 600-800 IUs depending on age.  Look for a supplement that contains vitamin D3 or cholecalciferol, which is the natural form of vitamin D.

Fish Oil/Flax Oil:  Omega 3 fatty acids help the brain cells use neurotransmitters more efficiently.  Studies show that omega 3’s help improve mood, and ease symptoms of depression.  The most readily available sources of omega 3’s are found in fatty fish such as wild salmon, sardines and anchovies or in vegan sources such as flaxseeds, seaweed and walnuts.  If you don’t eat fish or can’t get enough omega 3’s in your diet, consider taking a supplement containing 650 mg of omega 3’s.

Probiotic:  I’ve discussed the benefits of probiotics before, you can read more here.  The research on the importance of probiotics is fascinating!  They help control everything from chronic digestive disorders, hormone balance as well as immunity.  Having a healthy microflora will keep your immune system strong to fight off sore throats and stuffy noses.

Probiotics can be found in yogurt, kefir, kombucha, kimchi, tempeh and miso.  My favorite way to get probiotics is with  miso soup, perfect for breakfast on cold mornings or as a healing dinner at the end of the day.  If you don’t eat these foods on a regular basis, consider taking a supplement.  Look for a supplement that has the specific genus and species of the probiotic organism such as Lactobacillus rhamnosus.  Also look for a supplement that contains at least 15 billion live organisms in a single dose.  And, always keep them refrigerated if the label indicates.

My favorite supplement company is Metagenics, which is sold through practitioners only.  Contact me if you would like to use my practitioner code to purchase supplements.

As always, check with your doctor before taking any supplements.

blueberry crumble smoothie (balancing omega 3 & omega 6 fatty acids)

Balance, balance, balance…

In the nutrition and wellness world we talk a lot about balance.  Balancing calories in with calories out, balancing fluid intake, having a balanced diet, etc.

I have one more balancing act to add to the mix.  Balancing omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids.

Both omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids are essential, meaning our body can not produce them so we need to rely on food sources.  Both are important in their own right.  Omega 6 fatty acids are necessary for hormone production, inflammation (a good thing when talking about immune response), and blood clotting.  Conversely, omega 3 fatty acids are important for decreasing inflammation, lowering triglyceride levels and risks of developing diseases such as heart disease.

There is a fine line, an equilibrium that must be met for optimal health.

Unfortunately, the Standard American Diet (SAD) has an overabundance of omega 6 fatty acids.  Why you ask?  Because of our dependence on processed foods and fast food restaurants!!!  Omega 6 fatty acids are found in corn oil, peanut oil and safflower oil to name a few.  These are all inexpensive oils that are used heavily in cookies, crackers and packaged snack foods.  Too much omega 6 in a diet can lead to heart disease, auto-immune disease, cancer, obesity, depression and other mood disorders.  All these disease states stem from inflammation.  The SAD is said to have an omega 6 to 3 ratio of 10:1 or 20:1 when it should ideally be at 2:1 to 4:1, that’s a huge difference!

So, how to bring your omega 6 to omega 3 ratio back in balance?

First things first…cut out the junk!  Stay away from those drive through windows and perfectly packaged ring-dings.  Second, swap out your oils.  Use olive oil instead of vegetable oils when cooking.  Third, pump up the omega 3 superfoods like chia seeds, hemp seeds, flax seeds, green leafy vegetables and sea vegetables.

This smoothie recipe will deliver a healthy dose of omega 3’s from the hemp seeds, flax seeds and spinach.  Plus,  it tastes good!

blueberry crumble smoothie ~vegan, gluten free~

Blueberry Crumble Smoothie

(makes 2 servings)

2 cups almond milk

1 frozen banana

2/3 to 1 cup frozen blueberries

1/4 cup old fashioned oats

2 dates, pitted

2 tablespoons flax seeds

2 tablespoons hemp seeds

1 teaspoon vanilla

and a large handful of baby spinach for good measure!

~blend and enjoy~

great grains granola

I’m not going to lie…this recipe wasn’t originally intended to be a granola recipe.  I set out to make a no-bake granola bar which flopped, literately!  They flopped, fell apart, crumbled into pieces!  The mixture of peanut butter, spices and vanilla tasted so good I couldn’t let it go to waste!  Instead, I threw it all on parchment paper and baked it until it was a perfect golden crisp granola!

This is the first time I have used uncooked quinoa in a granola recipe.  Since quinoa is technically a seed it makes sense to eat it uncooked similar to chia or sesame seeds.  It adds a nice crunch!

great grains granola ~gluten-free~

Great Grains Granola

2 cups old fashioned oats

1 cup raw sunflower seeds

1/2 cup raw slivered almonds

1/2 cup uncooked quinoa

1/2 cup ground flax seeds

1/4 cup chia seeds

1/4 cup maple syrup

1/4 cup honey

1/4 cup peanut butter

1/4 cup coconut oil

1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/2 cup raisins

great grains granola ~gluten free~

great grains granola ~gluten free~

-Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.   Place sunflower seeds and almonds on baking sheet in a single layer.  Bake for 10-15 minutes or until lightly golden, stirring occasionally.  Remove and set aside.

-Lower oven temperature to 300 degrees.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

-In a large saucepan over low heat, melt coconut oil, peanut butter, vanilla, maple syrup and honey.  Stirring until well mixed.

-In a large bowl, mix together uncooked quinoa, ground flax seeds, chia seeds, toasted sunflower seed/almond mixture,  sea salt, cinnamon and nutmeg.  Stir until combined.

-Add wet and dry ingredients and stir well to combine.

-Evenly distribute onto two baking sheets and place in 300 degree oven.

-Bake for 50-60 minutes stirring every 10-15 minutes to prevent burning and to create an even golden color.

-Remove from oven, let cool and add raisins.

-Serve with almond milk and berries or yogurt, enjoy!

great grains granola ~gluten free~

Enjoy with sliced berries and almond milk or on top of yogurt!  Chock full of  fiber, protein, omega 3’s, vitamins and minerals it’s a great way to start your day!