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Hidden Talents of the Mighty Avocado and Other Neat Stuff About Healthy Fats

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Growing up my mum often had a few slices of green goodness on the side of her dinner plate which I curiously admired from afar.  Although I was a child who loved all fruits and vegetables, thanks to the prodding of my older brother Bruce, I was a bit weary of the suspicious looking creamy green accompaniment to my mother’s meals.  It was not until  my adult years that I began my love affair with the avocado.

Still a bit skeptical about its benefits due to my ‘low fat‘ brain fog in the 90’s, I began to explore nutrition but hesitated to make avocados a regular part of my own diet due to the overwhelming panic that fat would make me fat.  In this ‘fear the fat‘ phase of my life eating an avocado on the regular seemed like a crime against my self imposed dietary restrictions.  Once the fog lifted, probably when I started eating good fats again and got my brain cells back, I was able to understand the full potential of nature’s healthy fats and how important they are in our diets.  Fats in general have gotten a bad wrap and for good reason with all the highly processed junk out there but the mistake we have made is to bundle all fats into this category.  Yes, we want to avoid refined and genetically modified oils and fats contained in processed products but our body needs healthy fats in order to function optimally.  Fats are used in the body for cellular structure, producing hormones, insulation, and providing us with emergency reserves of energy.   We now know that all fats are not created equal and healthy fats should come from mother nature’s garden, preferably in their unadulterated whole food form.  Raw nuts and seeds, wild caught fish, coconut, and of course avocados are great choices and should be included in a well balanced diet in order to maintain optimal health.  If you keep your portions reasonable and maintain a clean diet in all the other food group categories fats can actually help to balance your metabolism, fear fat no more just eat the good stuff!

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So on to my love affair with the avocado.  Many nutritional virtues have been bestowed upon this delicious green fruit.  Besides being a great source of healthy fats, including a high concentration of the prized omega 3 fatty acids, avocados contain a number of anti-inflammatory compounds called phytosterols and polyhydroxylated fatty alcohols (PFA’s).  These compounds work to regulate inflammation in the body which can have beneficial effects on everything from our cardiovascular system to inflammatory skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis. Avocados also get a leading position on my superfood roster for their ability to regulate blood sugar due to a high fiber and low carbohydrate content, which gives them a starring role in my diabetes protocols.  Containing high levels of antioxidants, especially carotenoids, is another reason to give the avocado praise.  This mighty fruit will help protect you against free radical damage, which is responsible for the deterioration of cells, the aging process, and a contributing factor to many types of cancer.  Avocados are also high in oleic acid which is needed for the optimal absorption of these carotenoids making them much more available to the body, funny how mother nature creates elaborate synergistic combinations in simple guise.

Besides the nutritional accolades avocados are just plain delicious and extremely versatile, you might be surprised by the hidden culinary attributes of your average avocado.  We are all well versed in the traditional uses of avocados….

add to a salad yum!

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make a guacamole, dee-lish!

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slice and eat with a drizzle of raw honey…a little outside the box but seems approachable…

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what about something a little more outside the box…

make chocolate avocado pudding…say what?

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Raw Chocolate Avocado Pudding

Ingredients:

2 ripe avocados

1/2 cup Mum’s Original Raw Cacao Powder

1/2 cup Ojio Raw Organic Agave Nectar

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1/2 cup water (less if you want a thicker consistency)

1/2 tsp. Mum’s Original Himalayan Rock Salt

Preparation:

  1. Add all ingredients to a food processor fitted with an ‘S’ blade or a Vitamix and blend until smooth.
  2. Refrigerate for 1 hour for a chilled version.

maybe a little avocado dairy free ice ‘creem’ on a hot summer night…are you serious?

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Banana Basil Avocado Ice ‘Creem’

Ingredients:

2 ripe avocados

2 medium sized frozen bananas (cut into chunks before freezer to make blending easier)

1 can Thai Kitchen Organic Coconut Milk

1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped

1/2 cup Ojio Raw Agave Nectar

1/4 tsp. Mum’s Original Himalayan Rock Salt

Preparation:

  1. Add all ingredients to a food processor fitted with an ‘S’ blade or Vitamix and process until smooth.
  2. Enjoy as a soft serve ice ‘creem’ or freeze for 1 hour for a firmer texture.

I have tried these two recipes with even the most discerning avocado skeptics and it fools them every time!  Even kids who squirm at the thought of eating a squishy green avocado gobble these up none the wiser.  These recipes are super simple and will inspire your own romance with the amazing avocado!

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What is your favorite way to use avocados? I would love to share your recipes!

wishing a you a fresh, nutritious, and delicious day full of avocado goodness!

Michelle Waithe,

Holistic Nutritionist at Fuel

Crazy for Cilantro!!

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Cilantro is by far one of my favorite herbs! I have to say this is mainly due to it’s bright, fresh flavor but as a nutritionist it is my duty to give some recognition to the fantastic health benefits of this amazing plant.  Here are the top 3 reasons to include more cilantro into your diet:

1. Cilantro is a natural detoxifier and has a great ability to chelate heavy metals and pull them safely out of the body, you will often see cilantro incorporated into a whole foods or juice cleansing detox regime.  Not only does it take out the bad but it also puts back the good due to its high mineral content, in particular iron.

2. Cilantro can help to lower blood sugar and LDL (bad) cholesterol, great for anyone with diabetes.

3. Cilantro has anti-inflammatory properties that may help with arthritis and other inflammatory conditions, even inflammation due to strenuous exercise.

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Organic Vegan Dish: Quinoa Salad with Adzuki Beans, Peppers, Cilantro, and a Lemon Flax Oil Dressing.

You will often see cilantro added to our dishes to enhance flavour and to increase the overall health benefits of our meals.  Another great way to use cilantro is in your fresh green juices.  Simply add a handful when making a fresh pressed juice, you will be surprised how much this enhances the flavour!  Try growing cilantro in your backyard herb or container garden so you will have an endless supply.

Michelle Waithe, Holistic Nutritionist at Fuel Nutrition

Beat the Heat…Stay Hydrated

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I can say with a high degree of certainty that summer is here with a vengeance, all that stuff about global warming yeah well I am starting to take it seriously now!!  As Canadians we often spend the winter months dreaming of the long gone days of summer, basking in the sun’s rays playing outside and getting a little more active. Spring always seems to tease us with a taste of summer and the dance with winter’s fight to hang on just a little longer.  Once Canada Day hits there’s usually no question, summer is officially here.  Like bears coming out of hibernation Canadians around the country are eager to get out and enjoy the weather, get into their outdoor exercise routine, and drop those extra pounds.

Staying hydrated while exercising is always important to prevent fatigue, maintain or improve performance, and make the most of your workouts however, the importance of hydration in hot humid weather is even more crucial.  When the body engages in physical activity heat is generated internally, this is how we burn calories, and in order to maintain the body’s delicate internal balance it has to rid itself of this extra heat which is why we sweat.  Sweat has two main purposes, it allows the body to detoxify through the skin and it is the body’s automatic air conditioning system.  The amount we sweat depends on a number of factors, a few of which include the intensity of exercise, how hydrated the body is, and the key one here is the temperature of the surroundings.  The hotter and more humid the outdoor conditions the more we need to sweat to cool ourselves down.  If our internal air conditioner is working over time and we are not replenishing fluids to keep it going dehydration is a consequence which can have mild to very serious side effects.  The average person loses 1L of sweat for every hour of exercise, and that is in regular conditions, so the message here is replenish, replenish, replenish!

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Now that we understand why we need to hydrate let’s discuss the most effective ways to prevent dehydration and ensure our bodies are equipped to enjoy the hazy days of summer.  Of course the best way to keep the body hydrated is to make sure you are drinking throughout the day.  The most effective way to do this is to drink pure, clean water as your main source of fluids.  When planning exercise outdoors or spending extended periods of time in the heat be sure to consume 1/2-1 L of extra fluid beforehand to compensate.  While exercising also make sure to drink fluids, preferably a natural electrolyte or sport water drink, at regular intervals.  When we sweat the body also loses electrolytes, mineral salts dissolved in body fluids that regulate fluid balance, therefore it is important to replace these as well.  After exercise or extended periods in humid weather replenish fluids throughout the rest of the day at regular intervals to maintain hydration status for future activity.

Here are some of my favorite ways to hydrate the body naturally, tasty ways to beat the heat and keep your body at peak performance.  When buying bottled ‘nutrient waters’ avoid at all costs drinks which are filled with refined sugars, artificial colors (water should never be fluorescent blue or green yikes!!), artificial flavors and sweeteners.  Opt for the natural choices below.

Coconut Water – contains naturally occuring electrolytes, and its delicious too!  Look for unsweetened organic varieties, the only ingredient should be coconut water.

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GP8 Water – naturally purified water that contains 3-4 times the oxygen of regular water, this allows the body to maintain hydration status.

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Vega Rehydrator – a natural, alkaline-forming drink mix, free from sugar and artificial sweeteners, formulated with all the essential electrolytes the body needs to stay hydrated during workouts.

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Or try making your own!

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DIY Electrolyte Drink Recipe

1 cup filtered water

1-2 tablespoons of fresh squeezed lemon juice

1 pinch of sea salt (do not use table salt)

1/2 tablespoon of raw honey

At Fuel we encourage getting a little more active and soaking up some vitamin D when the sun is shining, just remember to always use common sense when exercising in hot humid weather.  If the humidex rating is above 35 avoid strenuous activity, save these days for sipping your lemonade pool side.  Know the signs of dehydration which include nausea and fatigue in mild cases, vomiting and cessation of sweating  in severe cases, this is very serious and requires immediate medical attention.  Know your limits, hydrate your body, and enjoy these long awaited days of summer.

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Michelle Waithe – Holistic Nutritionist at Fuel Nutrition

Lessons From Dad

As a tribute to father’s day this year I thought I would share some of the great life lessons learned from my dad about how stay healthy and youthful.  Both Bruce and I can definitely attribute a strong influence about how to maintain good health from our truly amazing father.  At the age of almost 83 our dad cycles 25km three times per week in addition to longer group rides throughout the summer, engages in a regular weight training regime, and daily cardiovascular exercise.

Dad out for a 25km bike ride

Healthy dietary practices are also part of the daily routine.  Although he does have his sweet indulgences I think the key to my father’s health is his attitude towards food and life in general.  I can honestly say that I have never seen my father overeat or eat in a mindless manner.  All his meals are eaten at the dining room table with complete focus on enjoying his food.  My parents have even decided to have vegetarian only days 2-3 times per week and are incorporating more foods like quinoa, flaxseeds, coconut sugar, and a wider range of fruits and vegetables.

A healthy attitude about life is a key lesson I have learned from my father.  No matter what the situation my father always maintains a positive perspective.  He may worry about the small things like leaving the light on outside and locking the door but when it comes to the big picture even significant life stressors don’t seem to affect him in a way that brings him down or manifests on a physical level. My father is always open to change and interested in improving his health, at an age when most people just give up on improving he is striving for even more excellence.  Anytime I have recommended a dietary change or supplement he takes it on full force and commits to following the protocol.  Only a few months ago himself and my mum were inquiring about doing a cleanse, I can’t even get most people my own age to commit to a cleanse!

A weekday in the life of dad looks something like this:

5am – wake up, start a pot of coffee for himself and my mother, read the paper and prepare breakfast for the grandchildren when they are dropped off before school

8:30am – help my mum prepare the boys for school and shuttle them, along with the other neighborhood kids they look after, to school

9am – breakfast and supplements, 1 apple and bran cereal

10am-1pm – help mum with errands around the house and helping with mum’s in home neighborhood daycare, daily exercise routine (cycling, weight training routine, etc.)

1pm – lunch,  usually some type of sandwich on whole rye bread or leftovers from last night’s dinner

2pm – afternoon nap

2:30pm – pick up first round of kids from school

3:30pm – pick up second round of kids from school

afternoon – online keeping up with cricket news around the world, emails, other world news, snack cheese and crackers or fruit

6-7pm – dinner, usually rice or legumes, with chicken or fish, green salad, and sometimes frozen yogurt, ice cream, or a piece of chocolate for desert

evening – watching Iron Chef, American Idol, Dancing with the Stars, America’s Got Talent, CSI, or movie of the week with my mum, watching sporting events (without mum)

9-10pm – supplements and off to bed for a good night’s rest

Weekends are very similar except more time is spent relaxing in the morning, a more elaborate breakfast such as toast and eggs is on the menu, followed by errands and grocery shopping with mum, then laundry, cleaning, and outdoor chores while mum prepares dinner.  Afternoon relaxation watching sporting events on tv and napping are also part of the routine.  Weekend dinners will sometimes be a splurge of pizza or chinese food but always eaten in moderation and enjoyed fully.

The key to my father’s health is the joy in his routine.  Although sometimes having a house full of kids during the week can be challenging I think this is one of the things that keeps him active and youthful.  A combination of a consistent routine, daily activity, dedicated exercise time, daily naps and regular sleep habits, mental stimulation, and mindful eating are the key to my father’s longevity.  What I have learned from his approach is  that It’s more about how you view your life.  Sometimes it’s not always about what you eat, how much you exercise, and taking the right supplement but it is always about how you perceive your own personal health habits. If you feel good about what your doing and are continually expanding on all levels no matter what age and enjoy life in a mindful way you will see the benefit.  Just this past Christmas I observed him dancing to calypso Christmas music while doing the dishes, now that is the ultimate expression of fully enjoying every moment.  Taking an ordinary task and making it an extraordinary moment of joy is something my dad has mastered.

I should also mention that my dad is a cancer survivor having healed from prostate cancer at the age of 62 and seems to be getting healthier as the years pass.  Since that time he has had a few minor health problems but instead of looking at them as his body deteriorating he has used these challenges to improve even more and keep the momentum of change moving in a forward direction.

My father is one of the best reminders of how to live beyond your physical age, all these lessons I take with me always in my daily life.

wishing you a fresh, nutritious, and delicious day!
Michelle Waithe, holistic nutritionist ar Fuel Nutrition

A Whole Approach to Healthy Food

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Collard Greens salad with black rice, black eyes peas, and a flax oil vinegarette dressing

Welcome to Fuel Nutrition’s blog!  In this first post we would like to share our philosophy of health and a way of eating designed to create your best self.  When asked the question ‘what is your idea of healthy eating?’ the average person will have responses ranging from all sorts of dietary rules and restrictions to the latest fad that promises to drop 10 lbs. in 10 days.  While this may work for some in the short term, this way of thinking about food does not celebrate its beauty and instead casts a good versus bad shadow on mother nature’s magnificent bounty.  At Fuel we dispel all the food myths and bring to the table a philosophy of clean eating that will never again have the word deprivation roll off your tongue, at least not while your taste buds are busy savouring Fuel’s delectable creations.

Our philosophy is based some very simple principles, whole fresh foods bursting with flavour that will nourish the body on all levels for optimal health and vitality. We have taken the best of what we know, the tried and true ideas about healthy eating.  Moulded and adapted by our team members during what seems to be an eternity of experience in the field of fitness and nutrition, we have taken the best, left out the rest and made it convenient for you to have fresh, nutritious, and delicious food without compromise.  We are a little bit paleo with a vegetarian twist, a little bit raw with a cooked compliment, always dairy and gluten free but you will never miss it, sometimes a little ‘juicy’ to cleanse and detoxify, and always whole, fresh, and teeming with flavour, never failing to add a little nutrition knowledge to educate you on the goodness contained in our power packed meals.  Our promise to is inspire your palate, expand your mind, and share our enthusiasm for savouring good health while creating a joyful relationship with food and your body.

Wishing you a fresh, nutritious, and delicious day!

Your Fuel Team