Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Bits & Morsels

Westville's Organic Mixed Greens with Grilled Salmon, courtesy of Healthy Out, a new and health-conscious alternative to seamlessweb/
by Erin Frankel

This past week finally marked the arrival of spring, which means long, sunny days will soon be the norm. The layers will be shed and the skin exposed, which means 'tis the season to spring clean ... your diet. So, it's time to say goodbye to those heavy dishes we craved during hibernation and say hello to light, fresh, seasonal produce.

We don't need to reminded how long and hard this winter proved. But you do need to bear in mind that the cold weather has chilling effects on our physical and mental health. Bitter climates can induce weight gain, lower your natural levels of vitamin D and serotonin, and irritate and dry your skin. Fortunately, there are natural ways to get through the last bout of cold weather unscathed, while preparing for the warm and sunny days that approach us.

With that in mind, I've rounded up some of my favorite food and drinks which naturally boost your immunity and retract your body's harrowing reaction to the cold. And, coming from someone who loves to indulge in all things food and drink, my recommendations are shaped by the guidance of two experts, an up-and-coming NYC born and bred dietician, Jessica Nagin, along with pointers from seasoned dermatologist Dr. Harold Lancer's new book, "Younger: The Breakthrough Anti-Aging Method for Radiant Skin."

NYC born and bred dietician, Jessica Nagin.
1. Start your day with foods that will give you energy for the day

The stress and anxiety we all feel when our alarm goes off can wreak havoc on our immune system. Beginning the day happy and relaxed will boost productivity and energy throughout the day. You can make a change by taking control of your diet each morning. One of the best ways to start your day is with protein. Protein is necessary for healthy skin, nails, hair, muscles, cartilage and blood, which all need a constant supply of protein for growth and repair.

When you include protein in your daily breakfast regimen, you'll stay full longer, increase your energy and will be more alert throughout the day. Below are some ideal proteins to add to your (new) breakfast regime:

• Brazil Nuts: According to Dr. Lancer, brazil nuts are high in selenium, a mineral that repairs cell damage and slows down the skin's aging process. Nuts are also rich in fiber and antioxidants.

• Berries: Dr. Lancer points out that berries are loaded with anti-oxidants that neutralize free radicals, ultimately increasing collagen production in the skin. "The darker the berry is, the higher the content of Vitamin C and E," so pay special attention to the color of your berries the next time you are at the farmer's market!

• Avocados: Avocados are a rich source of monounsaturated fatty acids (healthy fats), biotin, and vitamin E, which both combat dry skin.

• Eggs: Eggs are a great source of protein, rich in iron and biotin, which keep your hair full and your skin healthy. Try eating just the whites to improve cholesterol levels. And, buy organic eggs. One of Dr. Lancer's dietary do's to improve the quality of your skin is to only eat organic produce. Non-Organic produce contains antibiotics, hormones, pesticides, herbicides, and fungicide — and all of these 'cides' are designed to be toxic.

Dr. Lancer's Younger will keep you looking and feeling young.
2. Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated throughout the day

It is important to stay hydrated throughout the day if you want to improve your overall beauty and well-being. Jessica Nagin emphasizes that drinking tons of water is essential for our cells to process food into energy, keeping you from feeling dehydrated and sluggish, ultimately maintaining energy levels throughout the day.

Drinking plenty of water throughout the day can also lead to weight loss. Some studies have shown that people often confuse hunger with dehydration, and eat fewer empty calories if they are well hydrated. Let's put it this way — if you wait until you are actually thirsty to drink water, then you are dehydrated, even if you don't know it.

Dr. Lancer recommends making water your go-to beverage. Staying hydrated throughout the stay is essential for beautiful skin and good health. You need water to increase blood circulation, digest food, and flush out toxins. Dr. Lancer advises men to drink about 3 liters (thirteen cups) of water a day and women 2.2 liters (nine cups) of water a day. And, if you exercise consistently, you need to drink more to compensate for the fluid loss.

Being well hydrated will have immediate effects on your skin — instantly altering the effects of dehydration such as overtly brittle dry skin and dark circles under the eyes — increasing collagen production and cell turnover while stabilizing and moisturizing the skin barrier.

3. Eat Consistent Meals/Snacks Throughout The Day

If you are like me and find that you are hungry every few hours, then listen closely ... don't wait for your next big meal ... and snack away! Healthy snacking throughout the day eliminates your cravings for fatty foods and increases your metabolism, ultimately aiding in weight loss!

Carrots are a great source of Vitamin A, which aids in your overall skin health. In addition, Beta-carotene and lycopene protect your skin from the sun and repair skin cells. Celery has a high water content and you can never ingest enough water for your skin!
Kiwi is the most nutrition-dense fruit.
Mango is loaded with vitamin E.
Kelp is blessed with high levels of vitamins C and E.
Sunflowers prevent the breakdown of collagen and strengthen the skin's lipid barrier.
And yes, dark chocolate is actually good for you! Just aim high (at least 70% cocoa).
Jessica Nagin says that eating consistent meals/snacks at regular intervals can help make you feel better (tapering those winter blues), helps stabilize blood sugar levels, and provides more sustained energy throughout the day. However, choose your snacks wisely! There are specific snacks that will help boost your energy and overall mood, improve the quality of your skin, and keep you well satiated so those evil cravings don't creep on in. Try keeping some easy to snack on veggies near your desk during the day.

Carrots and Celery are two of my favorites.

If you're feeling a bit sluggish and need some natural sugar, opt for some of Dr. Lancer's recommended superfoods: any fruits like guava, kiwi, mango and melons; a seaplant like kelp; nuts and seeds like pomegranate seeds, sunflower seeds, walnuts or brazil nus; or, if you crave something really rich, dark chocolate.

Guava is loaded with vitamin C, the antioxidant that increases collagen production in your skin.

Kiwi is the most nutrition-dense fruit. It is filled with all sorts of vitamins and minerals like fiber, phytonutrients, folic acid, vitamin C and vitamin E, calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, potassium, and zinc!

Mango is filled with a ton of vitamin E, which improves your skin quality and is a vitamin-C-rich fruit that helps alkalize the body, improves digestion, and supports a healthy immune system.

Melons are high in water content and we need as much water as we can get!

The underwater plant, kelp, has high levels of vitamins C and E, which protect fats in the skin's moisture barrier from free radical damage.

Pomegranate seeds are rich in ellagic acid and punicalagin, which also fight free radical damage to the skin.

Dr. Lancer explains that sunflower seeds have phytoestrogens that prevent the breakdown of collagen and strengthen the skin's lipid barrier.

Walnuts are high in omega-3 acids, which, according to Jessica Nagin, are heart-healthy polyunsaturated fats that keep stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline in check, have anti-inflammatory properties that can relieve skin diseases like eczema, have cognitive benefits, help satiate us (and ultimately control our appetite), and are thought to decrease depression and anxiety.

And, Brazil nuts are high in selenium, a mineral that repairs cell damage and slows down the skin's aging process.

And I'm not including dark chocolate on this list just because I love it. Dark chocolate is actually good for you! The resveratrol and flavinols have been proven to lower blood pressure, improve blood flow, protect against moderate sun damage, and improve the health of your heart. However, make sure you choose the right dark chocolate! The good-for-your-health chocolate is the only the kind that contains about 70% cacao or cocoa.

4. Juice to give your digestive system a break

A great way to increase your veggie consumption while also giving your digestive tract some time to relax is by juicing. You can drink the equivalent of a mountain of vegetables in a single glass and receive all of the health benefits of vitamins, enzymes, minerals, antioxidants, and phytonutrients. Fresh vegetable juice flushes out toxins, oxygenates the body, and fights inflammation. Dr. Lancer notes that toxins and stress make your body acidic, which wreak a lot of havoc on your system. On an internal level, drinking green juice neutralizes the acid and rebalances your alkaline levels. And, externally, green juice prevents free radical damage and premature aging.

In fact, the benefits of green juice are so extensive, everyone should include at least one green juice a day in his/her daily regimen.
Blueprint Renovation Cleanse. Blueprint Cleanse is my go-to cleanse and green juice.
Vitamin D is absolutely essential to reduce your risk of diabetes, or lower your chances of heart attacks, rheumatoid arthritis or multiple sclerosis. The most natural way we can receive ample sources of vitamin D is from natural sunlight. But, if you can't get outdoors during the sunnier days, try eating Jessica Nagin's healthy vitamin D-rich foods like shiitake mushrooms (irradiated), cod liver oil, salmon, mackerel, and sardines. And, Nagin shared an interesting, fun fact: the back of our legs is the site of the greatest photoactivation of vitamin D.

You can get your daily juice intake by making or buying one green juice a day. Or, you can opt to try a juice cleanse this spring. A Juice Cleanse has many benefits. A three-day cleanse can unburden your digestive system by temporarily eliminating the need to digest fats, heavy proteins and fibers. Instead, a juice cleanse provides the body with a steady stream of easily assimilated, hydrating and nourishing fruit and vegetable juices, flushing your cells with vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals.
Blueprint Foundation Cleanse. BluePrint Cleanse is a practical, user-friendly system of cleansing even for the pizza-and-whiskey aficionados intermittently seeking to offset the damages of their indulgences. There's three different levels to choose from — Renovation for the uber beginners (those of you who can't remember the last time you consumed vegetable); Foundation for those who hit the median line of healthy eating; and Excavation for those irritating raw food disciples.
Blueprint Excavation Cleanse. The cleanses (priced between $65 and $80 per day) are cold pressed locally every day, with produce from local independent and organic growers, while supporting the innovation of high-pressure processing, featuring ingredients that are entirely100% raw, unpasteurized, USDA certified organic, non-dairy, and certified kosher.
Blueprint juices are available in 16oz single serving bottles in the following six flavors:

Yellow 2: The newest flavor in the BP portfolio, this juice features ginger, which historically settles upset stomachs and has more recently been found to reduce pain and inflammation. Lemon is also a great source of Vitamin C, which keeps the skin radiant and glowing. Lemon is also a diuretic, helping the body flush out unwanted toxins. Ingredients: lime, ginger, lemon and agave.

Green: Blueprint's most popular flavor (and my favorite) has six pounds of leafy produce in one little bottle. The Iemon contains negative charged ions, providing your body with more energy and mood enhancing properties, it is high in pectin fiber, which helps fight hunger cravings, and has an ample amount of Vitamin C, which is key to the production of collagen, giving skin firmness and strength. Lemon is also a powerful antioxidant that slows the rate of free-radical damage, which causes fine lines, wrinkles and dryness. Ingredients: kale, apple, ginger, romaine, spinach, cucumber, celery, parsley and lemon.

Red: Drinking Beet Apple is a healthy way to increase iron intake for both vegetarians and meat eaters. Ingredients: beet, apple, carrot, lemon and ginger.

Gold: Pineapple is an excellent source of vitamin C and the bottle includes 220% of our recommended Daily Value! Ingredients: pineapple, apple and mint.

Yellow: Cayenne pepper's active ingredient capsaicin can help stimulate the circulatory system and support a healthy metabolism. Ingredients: lemon, cayenne and agave.

White: The cashews in this bottle are an excellent source of copper (40% Daily Value), magnesium (20%) and zinc (15%). Ingredients: cashew, vanilla, cinnamon and agave.

Additionally, BluePrint recently launched three new flavors in convenient 10oz sizes (also available at Whole Foods):

Carrot Lemon – Organic carrots and organic lemons offer a unique twist on a simple flavor profile. Carrots contain beta-Carotene, which helps keep the eyes healthy and vision sharp. It is also packed with Vitamin A, which prevents signs of early aging.

Kale Apple Lemon – Organic kale is complemented by organic apple and organic lemon.

Orange Grapefruit Lemon – Three kinds of citrus in a delicious juice blend make an ideal breakfast beverage and a refreshing alternative to your standard OJ.
The new BP lineup.
6. Incorporate coconuts in your daily regime

Eating coconuts is an excellent way to maintain your immunity. They are antiviral, antifungal, antibacterial, and anti-parasitic. Translation: they kill harmful bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites. Because of that, if you consume coconut in any of its various forms (whether it be raw coconut, coconut oil, coconut milk, coconut butter, or coconut water) it can help treat some of of the worst and most resilient illnesses like influenza, giardia, lice, throat infections, urinary tract infections, tapeworms, herpes, gonorrhea, bronchitis, and numerous other ailments caused by microbials.

My new favorite coconut oil is JaxCoco, which is unique in the sense that it is spun through a centrifuge so there is ZERO peroxide and lower free fatty acid. It is also homogenous, and therefore free of any lumps and rough pieces of coconut husk. JaxCoco also introduced an amazing coconut water only sourced from the best young coconuts (4 to 5 months old), found closest to the beach. This means they are absorbing the best nutrients from the sea. Their coconuts are sourced in the Philippines, and bottled on location.
Whether you're eating the meat, drinking the juice, or consuming it as oil, coconuts are a tasty and nutritious source of fiber, vitamins, minerals, and amino acids. Coconuts contain tons of electrolytes to keep you hydrated throughout the day, namely calcium, potassium, and magnesium. According to Jessica Nagin, magnesium is crucial if you want to spring clean your diet. Magnesium is a natural muscle relaxant and a necessary element in the release and uptake of serotonin (that feel good mood booster) by your brain cells. With proper amounts of magnesium, nature makes sufficient serotonin, thus you experience that emotional balance you may have lost to due seasonal depression this winter.

Coconut oil is excellent for maintaining your youth and beauty. Its antioxidant properties slow down the aging process by protecting the body from harmful free radicals. You don't only have to use coconut oil when cooking although it's a GREAT alternative to EVOO. I also like to place place a little bit of coconut oil on my skin each day to keep it smooth and free from dryness. Coconut oil is also known to treat skin disorders such as eczema, psoriasis, and dermatitis.

7. Be mindful of what you cook or order when pressed with time

In an age and a city where nearly everyone is pressed for time and eating on the fly, it can be increasingly difficult to find healthy, nutritious choices. It is always preferable to cook your own food so you can personally control the ingredients in your dishes. However, at times, we find ourselves so busy, food shopping and cooking devour too much of our precious time.

Well, you're in luck as there are two new food delivery companies that have debuted in NYC recently and that I have added to my own personal regimen.

provides the perfect antidote to combing the city's healthy marketplaces for the ideal ingredients for an excellent dinner. As the leading recipe kit delivery service in the U.S., HelloFresh knows a thing or two when it comes to getting dinner on the table. Designed by trained chefs who hail from the kitchens of Eleven Madison Park and Momofuku, each HelloFresh recipe is delivered with the exact farm-fresh ingredients needed to make a delicious and nutritious home-cooked meal in under 30 minutes. Every week HelloFresh members choose three meals from a selection of award-winning, constantly-changing recipes.
Hamish Shephard, Co-Founder of HelloFresh.
HelloFresh — the leading recipe kit delivery service in the U.S.
HelloFresh then utilizes its network of local, family-owned purveyors to source the freshest ingredients possible for each of those recipes and ships the exact amounts straight to your door, for around $10 per person per meal. No more grocery shopping, no more food waste, no more wasting time! Just delicious, healthy, and fresh food guaranteed from pan to plate in less time than it takes to order takeout. Here are some of their delicious recipes ...
Parmesan Crusted Chicken with Balsamic Potato Salad.
Roasted Butternut Squash and Bean Salad with Feta & Walnuts.
Shrimp and Asparagus Risotto.
Don't have time to cook? Healthy Out is a new and health-conscious alternative to seamlessweb/ If you are totally cramped for time, Healthy Out makes eating a healthy meal simple and seamless (excuse the pun). Healthy Out is an online ordering delivery platform that offers suggestions for high-quality, healthy restaurant dishes that are curated to meet your nutrition preferences. Click on some boxes to give Healthy Out your ultimate health goals and voila, the list of recommendations appear. It's super easy. Try some of the most craved and top-rated dishes like Landmarc's Chopped Salad, Westville's Organic Mixed Greens with Grilled Salmon, or Mooncake Food's Miso-Glazed Salmon Plate!
Landmarc's Chopped Salad.
Mooncake Food's Miso-Glazed Salmon.