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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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

 

 

Wednesday, 14th February: the Happiest day.

I had the happiest day in a long time just about two-three weeks ago. I can’t even put into words how blessed and grateful I felt on Wednesday, the 14th February. These feelings were not really connected with the fact that it was Valentine’s Day because I can happily say that my partner shows his love and support all year round.

When I went back home for Christmas last year I took some blood tests (as I regularly do when I go back home) and some of the results came back worrying. My family doctor said that the underlying causes could possibly be overexercise, stress and my diet (nutritional/vitamin deficiency). I got so concerned and I have never felt so much fear for my health or my life for that matter…All I wished was these causes to be true because that meant that my health as well as my overall wellbeing were therefore on my hands.

My doctor advised me to change a few things in my lifestyle, especially when it came to my diet and physical exercise, and told me that I should repeat the blood tests within roughly one month. So during 5-6 weeks, I tried to focus all my energy in getting better. Instead of thinking about how I was feeling, I tried to shift my attention and thoughts to how I ultimately wanted to feel. I knew what I had to do but let me tell you guys: Abstracting myself from the toxic and negative thoughts whilst remaining with a positive attitude proved to be much easier said than done. Some great things have happened since December but there was always these constant feelings of anxiety and fear playing on the back of my head. There were days when it was so daunting to have it all together at work and in front of other people. Anyway, I knew that I needed to be mentally strong and take action if I wanted to restore my physical balance and health. After all, our bodies and minds are like significant others.

I started by giving my body total rest from the gym for basically two weeks and used that time to enjoy the company of my caring boyfriend and friends; I went out to try some new restaurants in town and just indulged in great food without being constantly worried about what I ate or my working out routine. I have also incorporated yoga/meditation back into my lifestyle and made sure that I had enough sleep. I started taking some essential vitamins and minerals such as copper, zinc, vitamin A & B12 and, mostly important, I started not only to eat a greater quantity of food but also a more diverse diet. As a result, I saw myself starting to let go of the negative stigma that I have previously developed towards certain foods.

Due to having digestive issues (caused by my IBS), I tend to follow mostly a low FOD-mad diet which, in the long-term, turned out to be quite restrictive and made me develop fear and anxiety towards certain groups of food. As someone who loves to work out, who has a very active and stress-inducing lifestyle and who has gut issues, I should make sure that I do not overdo myself. However, I guess that I fell into a routine that even though fitted my lifestyle, was not adequate or good to my health. I ended up by overexercising and undereating during many months in a row(without being 100% conscious of it). All in all, I ended up by neglecting myself and my medical results showed exactly that: I did not give my cells the nutrition they needed to function properly.

 

Nevertheless, I now know how crucial it is to change my perception of food and of physical exercise. I now recognise that everything that is not done in moderation for a long period of time has its repercussions.

Fortunately, when I repeated the blood tests in the beginning of February, the results came back normal. I can’t even describe the happiness and relief that I felt. The waiting for the results was absolutely excruciating. It was like I was carrying the weight of the entire Planet on my shoulders.. but when I left the doctor’s office I heaved a huge sigh of relief. It was like I had gained my life back, you know?

If there is something that this experience taught me is that we can’t keep doing the same thing over and over gain and expect different results.This experience acted as a catalyst for changing my course of action and taking ownership of my health, which is something that I cannot take for granted. I am determined to listen to what my body needs; whether that means giving it more attention, respect, rest or food/nutrients.  I am determined to listen to its needs so it can thrive and fully heal. Even though my health recovery is still a work in process, I am now in a better place where I am finally feeling myself healing. I am finally letting go of thoughts that do not serve me. I am finally freeing myself from what holds me back and there is NO better feeling than that one. I just need to make my health my number one priority going forward and I am aware that, knowing myself as I do, this will not always be an easy task. I get worked up easily and end up by putting too much focus on my work, physical exercise and on the million things that I want to get done. However, overdoing myself and destroying my health for that is just not worth. This “go go mentality” is no longer serving me. I need to be more mindful, slow down when my body asks to and let go of what I can’t simply control.

The other day I read this one quote that resonated so much with me and with this situation that I have just experienced. It was: You grow through what you go through. This is so trueSometimes we need to undergo unfortunate events to see life through other lens. Toxic situations help us to put things in perspective and instigate much needed changes in our lives. We all want to leave a joyful and meaningful life but oftentimes we forget that our daily actions, which may be seemingly irrelevant, trivial and unimportant, are what is going to take us there.

That being said, I just want to add another thing as a final note:  We must remember to be gentle with ourselves. At all times. In a world that sells dissatisfaction, we must choose to honour and respect our body. It is so silly how it is so much easier to bash it than to embrace and accept it. Our bodies deserve nothing more than awe, good care and admiration. So, let’s all appreciate them and make this one life that we have count, shall we? ♥

Much Love,

Blissfully Grateful