Top nutrition benefits of SPELT

As someone who suffers from IBS and who has followed a very restricted diet (mainly gluten free and low in fodmaps) in terms of quantity and variety for way too long, changing the way I approach food was certainly not an easy task. Quite frankly, it is a work in process to this day.

As an attempt of reducing my IBS symptoms, I have cut out gluten from my diet in the past. Subsequently,  this resulted in some nutritional deficiencies and in gaining fear of certain foods. As much as a specific food does not sit well with your stomach, when you leave it out of your diet, you are also leaving out all the potential health benefits that that food may have for your body. I have come to learn that micromanaging what I eat, demonising (groups of) foods and labelling them as “unhealthy”, “bad” or “off limits” is not the way to go. I ended up by wasting so much energy on obsessing over foods and it is simply not worth. We have so much mental energy per day and I realised that I could be putting it to better use.  Thus, for the past half year or so, I have been incorporating a greater and greater variety of foods into my diet. Gladly, I now feel so much better. I have gained more love and excitement for cooking new recipes and for experimenting with food. I have also gained more knowledge about what certain foods can do for us and that is one of the reasons why I am writing this post. I want to talk about SPELT today, which is one of the foods that I have introduced into my diet and that I have been loving to eat lately.

I personally do not think that it is beneficial for our bodies or minds to completely cut gluten out of our diets, unless of course we have an allergy or severe intolerance to it. Whole grains can play an important role when it comes to maintaining a well-functioning body and to having good digestion, cholesterol and blood pressure levels. They are a great source of dietary fibre, vitamins and essential minerals.

If you are not highly intolerant or allergic to gluten, I would highly recommend you to give spelt a go. The fact that there are so many different ways of preparing it, makes it really easy to be incorporated into our diet. Plus, nowadays spelt is readily available in most supermarkets and in a variety of forms (pure whole grain form, puffed or ground into flour). You can can also easily find spelt cookies, crackers and bread.

Despite not consuming gluten on a regular basis because my diet is mainly plant-based and focused on whole foods, I do eat every now and then. I like doing it so because this way I am able to keep my diet varied, which is key to getting the right nutrients in and have a well-nourished mind and body. Being mentally and physically in a good place, makes it so much easier to succeed in life and find true balance and wellbeing within.

I don’t know about you but I like to be informed about the nutrition and health benefits of the foods I put in my body. Hence, after doing some research, I have compiled some information about spelt that I would like to share with you.

First of all, spelt is an ancient grain that has been around for many years. It is a subspecies of wheat and it was actually one of the first grains used to make bread. Despite not being gluten free, it contains considerably less of it when compared to common wheat. Hence why it is actually tolerable by many people with sensitivities. When it comes to its taste, spelt has a nutty sweeter and lighter flavour when compared to whole wheat. I personally like it more as I find it to be more rich in flavour. I have gathered the 5 health benefits that I considered as being the most important. So let’s just get into it!

  • Unlike wheat, spelt has a high water solubility, making it easily digestible and quickly absorbed into the body.
  • It is high in important minerals such as copper, iron, zinc, manganese, phosphorus, thiamin and magnesium. These minerals are needed for the production of red blood cells and for a well-functioning human body with a healthy immune, nervous and cardiovascular system.
  • It boasts a higher protein content when compared to regular wheat
  • It is particularly rich in vitamin B-3 (niacin) and in B17, which is believed to be an anti-carcinoma, helping to fight against cancer.
  • When compared to wheat, it has a greater quantity of certain essential amino acids – namely cystine, isoleucine, leucine, methionine and neurotransmitters, phenylalanine and tryptophane – which our bodies cannot produce but need to be able to thrive!

That being said, I think we could all agree that spelt is undoubtedly a nutrient rich grain. So if this is a grain that does not cause us any abdominal discomfort or any physical health issue, why keep it out of our diets?

Lately, my favourite of consuming spelt has been in its puffed form for being so versatile. You can literally add it to anything you like: porridge, smoothie bowl, yogurt, granola, etc… One of my favourite go-to breakfasts at the moment is puffed spelt soaked in unsweetened soya yoghurt and topped with some fruit and/or a nut/seeds butter (see below). Even though I vary what I have for breakfast every morning and I love doing it, I know I could easily have this for breakfast 7 days in a row haha

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Breakfast this morning before heading to my usual cardio/strength training class at the gym: Unsweetened soya yogurt, finely chopped fresh strawberries and a spoon of dark tahini (my current seed butter obsession!). Easy, simple but so tasty.

I hope this post was informative enough to arouse your curiosity about spelt and I hope it has encouraged at least some of you to give it a try if you have not already. As always, I would love to hear your feedback on it. Also, if spelt is already part of your diet, I’d love to know what is your favourite way of consuming it. I am always on the lookout for new breakfast/lunch/dinner ideas where I can include it in a different way than I am used to.

 

Much Love,

Blissfully Grateful

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A week of vegan breakfasts.

Breakfasts make me happy and they have always had. Whenever I have my beloved ones over, I like to surprise and treat them with a beautiful and delicious morning breakfast. After all, one of the best things in life is to eat food we enjoy with with people we enjoy. ♥

We all know how important it is to have a well-rounded and varied diet that includes foods from each of the main food groups (protein, fats, carbohydrates, fruits and vegetables). This is because different foods provide different types and amounts of key nutrients. Nevertheless, I must say that, I unconsciously neglected this for quite some time. I got way too comfortable eating the same foods over and over again and did not even realise how “limited” my diet become. Anyway, I got a wake up call last Summer and said to myself “enough of this. I am a huge breakfast person and as such I should be more creative with the foods I eat first thing in the morning.” I am so happy with the decision of switching up my breakfast game. I have been loving it and it is so freeing to finally make use of all the goodies I have kept in my kitchen pantry for way too long. Plus, by allowing myself to have different things for breakfast, I have noticed these positive things happening:

  • I feel like I am now able to listen to my body more and eat with greater intention and pleasure. I wake up, tune in and ask myself: “What do I feel like eating today?”. I think about all the possible yummy breakfast combos I can have and go for the one that appeals my body the most; the one my body craves the most. Food cravings are just our bodies communicating what they truly need and ignoring them should never be an option.
  • I wake up more excited and looking forward to my first meal of the day.
  • I feel more energised and overall upbeat after having it.

Here is an entire week of breakfasts..and, trust me, I was able to whip up all of them in a matter of minutes.

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Gluten free sorghum cereal from @Nutribex (details about it on this blog post Breakfast Cereals: Current Addictions) soaked in unsweetened almond milk and topped with fresh raspberries, coconut yoghurt from @kokodairyfree and a spoon of dark tahini (my current seed butter addiction!)

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Oat waffle topped with dried red fruits, a dash of organic cinnamon and a spoon of dark tahini. For the waffle recipe I used gluten free oats, unsweetened almond milk, psyllium husk, baking soda and water. Even though the picture only shows one waffle, the recipe makes actually two. I’d say that the texture and consistency of the waffles need improvement but the taste is on point. Now that I finally got myself a waffles machine, I will be experimenting some new recipes (both sweet and savoury) and I can assure you that if they turn out tasty, you will be seeing them here soon.

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Toasted Breton dark whole grain bread with vegan butter from @alpro. This bread was baked and bought at my favourite organic local store and it is just one of the best that I have ever eaten. I kid you not. It is so wholesome and rich in flavour. There are no nasty ingredients added, only grains that have so many amazing benefits for our health, such as quinoa, buckwheat and amaranth

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Chocolate chia porridge topped with cinnamon and passionfruit. I have made it using gluten free free oats, chia seeds, unsweetened almond milk (it makes it so creamy) and vegan pea and brown rice protein with chocolate hazelnut flavour from @goldnutrition.

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Sweet potato breakfast bowl with unsweetened soya yoghurt, toasted soya flakes, organic whole grain wheats filled with raisins from @wkellog_uk ,and a spoon of dark tahini.

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Organic and gluten free oat crispbreads from @jardinbio. I topped one of the crispbreads with coconut yoghurt from @kokodairyfree and strawbs , another one with smashed avocado, lemon juice, cracked pepper and arugula and the other two with dark tahini and strawbs. I ate 4 in total but one of them did not fit on the wood cutting board … I mean we do love photos of aesthetically pleasing food, don’t we? haha)

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Mini oat pancakes topped with coconut-based raspberry yoghurt from @abbotkinney’s, fresh raspberries and a spoon of dark tahini. This recipe is exactly the same as the one of the waffles.

*Remark: The mug you see in some of the pictures has my usual decaf cappuccino with unsweetened soya milk, unsweetened soya almond milk, organic decaf coffee, maca powder and cinnamon! Love it.

 

I hope this post has somehow inspired to get a bit more creative and switch things up at breakfast time! Because – and hey listen this carefully – you should never ever settle for a boring breakfast!

Breakfast should be an enough good reason to make you want jump out of your bed every morning! 🙂

*Brief disclaimer: I am not sponsored by any of the brands I mentioned. Like always, I am just sharing what I enjoy. Plus, it might be useful to share the brands of the foods for those who might wonder 🙂

 

Much Love,

Blissfully Grateful

It is PUMPKIN SEASON: one of the healthiest foods of Fall.

I love to educate myself about all the different benefits that the foods I eat may have for both my health and overall wellbeing. Since it is fall and I love pumpkins, I thought I would share with you 5 amazing benefits of one of the healthiest (and yummiest!!) foods of the season.

To begin with, let me emphasize on the fact that pumpkin is such a versatile ingredient. I find it is so easy to incorporate in my diet. Even though I eat pumpkin during all year, it is for sure one of my staple foods when the chillier weather comes around.

Here is my small collection of pumpkins currently sitting at my house. Can you tell how much I love them? haha I feel so lucky to be able to find a wide range of types, colors, shapes and sizes at my local grocery store! 🙂 Okay enough of faffing around, let’s hop right into the health benefits of pumpkins:

  • It is a food rich in essential antioxidants, such as alpha-carotene, beta-carotene and beta-cryptoxanthin A that can neutralize the free radicals that our bodies may excessively create, preventing them from damaging our cells
  • It is a source of vitamin A, which promotes good eye sight and strengthens our immune system, helping to ward off ilness and fight bacterial and fungal infections (just 100g can meet 170% of our RDA). It is also a source of vitamin C that, despite being widely-known for fighting the common cold due to its crucial role in increasing our white blood cell production, it is also very important for iron absorption as well as for tissue repair and regenaration.  Lastly but not least, it also contains vitamin E, which is equally vital for a strong and well-functioning immune system. It is also very important to regulate our endocrine and nervous systems (working in a way that balances our hormones naturally) and to repair damaged skin.
  • It is an iron and zinc rich food, the two minerals that are considered most important for a welll-functioning body. Iron is required for hemoglobin formation, which is basically the protein existing in our red blood cells that is responsible for carrying oxygen throughout our body; being thus essential for growth, development and normal cellular functioning. Just like iron, zinc also plays an important role in our cell growth and in protecting us from free radicals. In addition, this mineral is also required for the maintenance of our special senses (i.e vision, smell and taste), healing of wounds and thyroid function.
  • It is a great source of fiber, which as you probably know is essential for our gut health, supporting normal bowel movements, helps constipation and aids disgestion. Another reason why fiber is so important is its role in regulating blood sugar, cholesterol levels as well as in reducing the risk of heart disease.
  • Contains folate, a B vitamin vital for creating both white and red blood cells and subsequently for preventing anemia.

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Are you also a pumpkin lover like me? Please let me know in the comment section below what is your favourite fall food! 🙂

Much Love,

Blissfully Greateful

Shall we strive to buy all our food organic?

I think that most of us is pretty aware of the harmful impact that conventionally grown produce might have on our health and, therefore, recognise the importance of buying organic produce.

I have been considerably growing more environmentally conscious over the past year, basically since I have finished my studies and started my first real job. As someone who is financially independent, I get to choose where I spend my money in and that is a great and freeing feeling.

One of the goals that I have set for 2018 earlier this year was to be more mindful when it comes to my purchases. This implies a greater awareness about the importance of  buying fair trade and organic.

Today I am here to talk specifically about the foods that we should always strive to buy organic, the ones that are okay to consume if conventionally grown and why.

The idea of writing about this topic came to mind after listening to the Rich Roll podcast “GMO’s, Glyphosate, and Healing the Gut” with Zach Bush. As I found it both very insightful and inspiring, I wanted to share some very interesting information that I learnt.

First of all, one thing that was mentioned in the podcast and that has particularly resonated with me was “We have more power than we allow ourselves to believe when it comes to healing ourselves”. I am a 24-years old girl who, despite having a very active lifestyle and caring a lot about nourishing my body with healthy and nutritous fooda, has been struggling with IBS issues for about 4 years now. If there is something that I have come to learn is that my gut health is strongly connected with the way I live my life, namely with my day-to-day habits. With this being said, the podcast really hit home and reassured me that the ability of getting my health restored lies also with me. When I say “health”, I am referring to both my physical and mental health because they are intrinsically connected. I think that everyone would agree that having a toxic lifestyle caused by nutritional deficiencies, lack of sleep, negative mindset and self-talk and being subject to constant stress or anxiety serves no good to our bodies or mind.

Anyway, this podcast taught me about the “Dirty Dozen” and “Clean 15” lists, which are no more than the foods that we should try avoid consuming non-organic at all costs and the ones that are okay to consume conventionally grown because are the least likely to be contaminated with pesticides/herbicides.The entity responsible for elaborating and releasing these lists every single year is the Environmental Working Group (EWG). Thus, given the reliable source who provides this information we can rest assured that is btoh accurate and trustworthy.

Pesticides and herbicides can be easily absorbed into many of the fruits and veggies we consume on a regular basis and, ultimately, into our bodies. By knowing this, I feel very fortunate to live in Holland, where there are well-sized and well-stocked organic markets and stores. Additionally, I’d also say that there is also a fair amount of organic restaurants when compared to other European countries. However, in all honesty, despite knowing how prejudicial non-organic foods can be for my health, I still consume some due to convenience’s sake. I can only speak for myself but, from my standpoint, the truth is that non-organic foods are sometimes just more easily available and affordable.

Needless to say that I’d really love to be able to buy all my foods organic but there are months where my financial budget is just more tight and, as a result, I can’t afford spending as much food in organic produce. Thus, being informed about the foods that are safe to consume in a non-organic form just comes in handy for me! So, let’s start by sharing the list of the Clean Fifteen foods according to the 2018 report released by the EWG.

Clean Fifteen List:

  1. Avocados (great news for all the avocado lovers – myself included – out there!!)
  2. Sweet Corn
  3. Pinneapples
  4. Cabbage
  5. Onions
  6. Frozen Sweet Peas
  7. Papayas
  8. Asparagus
  9. Mangos
  10. Eggplant
  11. Honeydew
  12. Kiwi
  13. Cantaloupe
  14. Cauliflower
  15. Broccoli

Now, the list of the foods that we should buy organic whenever possible because their high likelihood of being contaminated with pesticides, herbicides and chemicals:

Dirty Dozen List:

  1. Strawberries. I was very choked to read that a single strawberry was shown to contain 22 different pesticides. This is outrageous and just one of the main reasons why I love to have the choice of what I put into my body.
  2. Spinach
  3. Nectarines
  4. Apples
  5. Peaches
  6. Pears
  7. Cherries
  8. Grapes
  9. Celery
  10. Tomatoes
  11. Sweet Bell Peppers
  12. Potatoes

I suggest you to have these two lists on your phone for quick and ready access when you are shopping 🙂

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Ah! Just before finishing off this post, I would like to share a small tip with you that i have recently learnt. In order to wash off chemicals of your fruits and veggies, try to soak them in tap water mixed with baking soda. This was shown in a research study conducted in the University of Massachusetts to be a better solution at killing pesticides than just using plain tap water.

 

I hope you could find this blog post somewhat informative and please do let me know in the comments how easy and affordable it is for you to get organic produce! 🙂 Also, what are your thoughts on this? Do you try to buy organic food whenever possible or not because you don’t think it is worth the usual extra cost?

 

Much Love,

Blissfully Grateful

 

 

a Fine Saturday with a fall-inspired lunch.

Today was a pretty lovely Saturday, where I got a bunch of stuff done without overdoing myself. I went to the gym, cooked a nutritious fall-inspired lunch , went for some much needed shopping, cleaned my house, watched two movies, caught up with some friends and took time to take care of my skin (cleansing, exfoliation, moisturising..). Just what I needed. This past week was rather busy and stressful at work. My fatigue was certainly reflected in the hours of sleep I had last night. About 9h/9h30. I woke up feeling so energised and refreshed!

After my gym class that consisted of cardio intercalated with weight training exercises, all I was craving was a super yummy and nourishing lunch full of great nutrients, vitamins and protein to provide me with the necessary energy to get through the day with a smile! Thus, this meal was just what the doctor ordered! I read something the other day that I really liked and fully agree with: we must “think of each meal we have as a way to keep us feeling good and energized until our next refueling.” So true, right? I mean…Why would we knowingly eat foods that will not make us feel and perform at our best?

 

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This fall-inspired lunch is oil free, gluten free and entirely plant based. More importantly, it is made with much love. ♥

Food details: Roasted purple and yellow beetroot, parsnip (my fave!), sweet potato, Brussels sprouts, mushrooms, kale, mustard baked tofu and avocado. YUMS.

 

Hope you all had a lovely and relaxing day with some great food indulgences.

Much love,

Blissfully Grateful

My top sources of healthy fats

Hi there!

Hope you are all doing okay on this fine hump day!!

Even though my academic background is in business/ finance, I am super passionate about nutrition and healthy eating. It is very important to read scientific evidence-based research and as science is a constantly evolving and self-correcting process, we need to be open and willing to learn more and more!

Now let’s get down to business! Today I am here to talk about my favourite sources of healthy fats and why do I include them in my diet.

First of all, just for clarification sake, the “good” fats that I will be talking about are the monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats (the so-called “omega-3 fatty acids“). I am a big advocate of incorporating high-quality fats into my daily diet for a healthier lifestyle and a more vibrant self. From my own experience and knowledge, I can strongly  affirm that (the right) fat does not make you fat. In fact, it does quite the opposite. As the great Doctor Mark Hyman defends, foods rich in high-quality fat content have the ability of helping us becoming more lean, healthier and full of vitality.

As someone who is a fitness enthusiast with digestive issues (i.e. IBS), these are the main reasons why I make sure I consume good fats on a regular basis:

  • They are essential for the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins, such as A, D, E and K.
  • They facilitate the absorption of antioxidants (i.e. carotenoids), which are present in yellow and orange vegetables like carrots. Hence why it is important to have meals that combine some fat with veggies.
  • They nourish our brain. When it comes to the brain, good fats not only boost cognition, memory but they also prevent anxiety and depression. In fact, 60% of our brain cells and nervous system are made up of fatty acids and that is why is so vital to nourish our body with enough healthy fats so it can function properly.
  • They nourish our heart. Omega-3 fats balance our cholesterol levels, reducing the bad (i.e. triglycerides) and raising the good (i.e. HDL).
  • Omega-3 fats acids also assume an important role when it comes to burning fat, rather than storing it. This is because they lower our levels of blood sugar and insulin level.
  • Healthy fats also promote a healthy skin and strong hair

My top favourite sources of healthy fats are:

  • Avocados (yes, yes, yes)
  • Chia seeds
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Almonds
  • Flaxseed
  • Coconut oil

Out of these six sources, I would say that the ones that I consume nearly daily (about 4-6 times a week) are chia seeds, pumpkin seeds and avocados. They are so easy to incorporate in any type of meal, whether that is breakfast, lunch, snacks or dinner. I love how satiated and full of vitality they make me feel.

Just as a final note, we really should not underestimate the power of dietary fats to promote a healthy and good functioning of our body. They are fundamental nutrients for our energy levels and a staple for any person who wants to pursuit a healthy lifestyle.  So, pease do not be “afraid” of foods that are high in fat. They will not make you fat just because they have fat in them. As I have mentioned above, it all comes down to the quality of fat. Healthy fats are absolutely essential for both a healthy body and happy mind ♥.

Now tell me guys, what are your favourites sources of healthy fats?