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Superfoods – fact or fiction?

1 Feb

superfoods2

 

Nearly every exotic fruit and vegetable these days are being touted by the media as the next ‘superfood’, and I have absolutely no problem with this.

In a time where obesity and disease are on the rise – I praise anything that draws attention to eating real food. The kind that only nature can create, that is full of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Why would I disapprove of a word that points to broccoli for its anti-cancer causing abilities and takes the spotlight away from the latest McDonalds meal deal?

I do believe that just as there are a handful of genetically blessed group of individuals in the world (I’m looking at you Elle, Cindy and Helena), there are also a group of superior superfoods (higher in nutrients, cancer fighting agents etc) that have the one up over the old potato – actually the potatoes are very high in potassium but moving on.

Below are a list of my favourites  that really pack a punch, and you may be surprised to learn that not all of them hail from far off corners in the world. There may even be one or two sitting in your fridge unbeknownst to you, holding super (health) powers.

Some of my ‘common’ favourite include:

Broccoli: this unfashionable cruciferous  vege needs to be resurrected as it is high in antioxidants, fibre, folate and is also well-known for its cancer-preventing powers.

Did you know veggies from the cruciferous family (cabbage, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, kale etc) contain compounds called glucosinolates, which convert into isothiocyanates (ITCs) when you chew them and break the cell walls. ITCs are compounds with proven anti-cancer activities. They remove carcinogens, kill cancer cells, and prevent tumours from growing? Amazing!!

Kale: Seems kale was on every superfood must have list in 2012 but with good reason. It is powered with essential vitamins and minerals and is fantastic for your skin and can slow premature ageing.. A recent Harvard study finds that cruciferous vegetables, like broccoli, may protect against bladder cancer. It’s one of the most common cancers in this country, and affects two to three times as many men as women. Scientists analyzed the diets of nearly 50,000 men and discovered that those who ate five servings or more per week of cruciferous veggies were half as likely to develop bladder cancer over a ten-year period as men who rarely ate them. And broccoli and cabbage were singled out as the most protective foods.

Berries: best known for their anti-aging effects and high in antioxidants. Also a great option when watching your weight as lower in sugar than most fruits.

Wild salmon: contains lots of vitamin D and selenium for healthy hair, skin, nails and bones and rich in omega 3 fatty acids.

Turmeric:  I predict turmeric will be the next big thing. It contains curcumin, a phytochemical that has been shown in laboratory studies to inhibit the proliferation of cancer cells and suppress tumor blood vessel growth (angiogenesis). Win!

Tomatoes: high in lycopene, full of micronutrients, vitamins and antioxidants that work together in a way that can ward off cancer, heart disease and other ailments. Scientific studies have shown that the more tomatoes you eat, the better. Cooking tomatoes is best of all because simmering them along with some heart-healthy oil, like olive oil, makes it even easier for the body to absorb all of the beneficial properties.

Basil: Holy Basil could be the latest weapon in the war against wrinkles, according to new research.
Containing anti-ageing antioxidants that help to protect against free radicals, cancer-causing chemicals that attack organs like the heart, liver and brain and damage nerve cells. According to the Telegraph, Dr Shinde said: ‘The study validates the traditional use of herb as a youth-promoting substance in the Ayurvedic system of medicine. It also helps describe how the herb acts at a cellular level.’

Other house hold staples which hold super properties include:

Green tea: high in antioxidants.

Brazil nuts: high in selenium.

Natural yoghurt: contains good bacteria to fight bad bacteria.

Eggs: are a compact package of nutrition that provides every vitamin except vitamin C.

And the more ‘exotic’ awards goes to…

Chia Seeds: rich is essential fatty acids, antioxidants, fibre, High source of protein with all the essential amino acids, Rich plant source of iron (3 times more than spinach, Rich source of calcium, and has higher bioavailability than milk, which means that you could be absorbing more calcium from a tablespoon of chia than you do from a glass of milk. Read my full post on it here

Acaí: This South American fruit has been gaining immense popularity across the world for some of its excellent health benefits. Scientists today are still discovering all the wonderful things that the Açaí berry can do such as makes the immune system stronger, slows down the aging process, regulates the levels of cholesterol in the body, improves circulation and functioning of the heart, reduces inflammation, detoxifies the body.

Maca – Maca is typically found in the Andes, at a high location where the land is barren and weather conditions extreme. These harsh conditions could probably be the reason why the maca root is chockfull of nutrients which makes it a highly valued superfood. It is said to increases stamina and libido, helps the endocrine system function properly, thereby eliminating hormonal imbalances, lowers anemia and alleviates menstrual discomfort and cramps, rich source of fatty acids and sterols (and many more).

For extra reading on some supplement ‘superfoods’ check out

Vital Greens  here

Chlorophyll  here .  Love love love.

For more posts on health, fitness and wellbeing from Lee @  Fitness In The City check out Facebook here , twitter here and Instagram: fitnessinthecity_

18 Oct

Look no further for your weekend special (and healthy) breakfast, thanks to Lee Supercharged!

Diary of a juice cleanse

3 Sep

I can now say I have successfully completed a juice cleanse (pre blog post here). Admittedly it was for only 3 days, but regardless, it was a great and gentle little intro into this world which is become oh so popular.

So why juice cleanse?

No matter how ‘healthy’ you are there are always toxins sneaking into our bodies. Whether it be via pollution, foods (like the Hungry Jacks meal deal you may or may not have polished off last week..), sugar (in everything these days), high fat foods (the bad kind, not nut’s and avocado) and not consuming enough fibre. This puts undue pressure on not only our immune system but also our digestive system leading to decreased absorption of the GOOD things you actually are eating.

Did you know that many of these toxins can become deposits in our fat cells (hello muffin tops..) making it harder to lose fat?

Yes, your body is designed to keep on keeping on because it is an amazing machine, but just like machines, a little service here and there can make it function a lot smoother – and that smoother for us means clear skin, healthy and regular bowel movements, energy, clarity and the ability to work without coffee and stimulants!

So that is why I chose to try a juice cleanse! It’s a fantastic way to consume a bucket load of real, fresh easily-assimilated nutrients, vitamins and minerals while naturally working with the body to accelerate the elimination process of releasing toxins to restore optimum health – just in time for Spring!

According to Urban Remedy (who delivered my fab juices) ‘By giving your digestive system a rest, vital energy normally used to digest food is freed up, allowing that energy to become available for other uses, like cleansing and detoxifying. With all this “free time’, your body will begin to scour for dead cells, toxins, damaged tissues, fatty deposits, etc, all of which are then burned for fuel.’

Win!

So below is a short play by play on my cleanse – in a nutshell, they tasted great, yes I got a headache, yes I was grumpy by 6.30pm and yes I feel great now!!

Day 1

I woke up 10 minutes before my alarm went off this morning, maybe it was the anticipation of my 13 week challenge ahead (the juice cleanse is just the beginning), maybe it was a text message jarring me awake.. either way gold star for not going back to sleep like my usual Monday mornings! Instead, I took the pup for a walk, fixed myself a warm water with lemon drink (stimulates metabolism) before a quick yoga session in my lounge room (thanks Power Living DVD) before heading to work.

I decided to stick to Urban Remedy’s suggested times for the juices which means starting at 9am,11am, 1pm, 3pm, 5pm and last one at 7pm.

9am  – #1 avocado, banana, coconut, vanilla and chia -yum!

11am: Ok so I am a little shocked by my juices. How can they be good for me when they taste like this?! They are all delicious! #2 lemon, cayenne pepper, stevia and water

1pm: Pleasantly surprised to find a soup – again, delish! # lentils, tomato, carrot, celery, garlic, veggie stock, olive oil, rosemary, thyme.

Its 3pm and I am on my #4 juice for the day (this one is a green little number full of apple, celery, silver beat, lemon and parsley) and I can honestly say I was expecting dirt tasting liquid  (sorry for the low vote of confidence Urban Remedy but you have surprised me)!

Also surprising is the fact I am not rocking myself in the corner starving and I only have an ever so slight headache (I knew Ben & Jerrys was a bad idea last night as my last horary for the next 13 weeks…) so far so good!

It’s now 5pm and I must say I am feeling a little ill.. but it’s time for juice 5 and thank god the juice turns out to be another soup which is amazing and instantly settles my stomach! #5 asparagus, leek, broccoli, green peas, veggie stock, olive oil, raw cashews, cumin.

7pm – dinner is light but somehow filling… #6 coconut milk and water, raw cashews, raw cacao, stevia and water.

9.30pm I am more than ready for bed – and surprising, I go to bed satisfied still.

Day 2

6am start to teach strength class this morning, and to keep my hunger at bay, I fill up my 1.5L water bottle with filtered water and my good ol’ favourite Vital Greens – perrrrfect!

3pm and my energy is flagging big time with a wee headache to accompany this. Fun fun. It’s the first time during a ‘cleanse’ that I have had any negative impacts, which I guess is a good thing (means it’s working and I need it, but also bad because I shouldn’t have consumed Ben & Jerry’s pre detox!!) Looking forward to cracking my 3pm scheduled green juice!

Early to bed again and must say I was a little grumpy come 6.30pm – lucky I had no clients!!

Day 3

Feeling good!! It’s only 7.41am and I just returned from Bondi to Bronte run (amazing!!) and am just going to take the pup for quick walk.  I hope my energy levels stay with me tonight as I have a movie premier at 6.30pm, which is the exact time I got really grumpy and tired last night.. stay tuned.

3pm. Be gone headache!!

9pm. So I didn’t stab the boyfriend for eating during the movie because I made it and I made it easily!

DONE!

Feeling great today my only regret is that I didn’t do the 5 day cleanse, and it just hit me today that it has been 5 days without coffee and I am feeling good! I have got out of bed A LOT easier the last two days and my digestion system feels to be functioning better as well.

I may have to make this a regular thing. Who knew a juice cleanse would be this easy and fabulous?!

* Juice and soup flavours change per season.

Phase One: transformation me

26 Aug

I’m an all or nothing type of gal.

When I am good I am very good, but when I’m bad, well.. its not pretty.
I have never really found that middle ground between the two..but I don’t necessary think it is a negative anymore. So i am using this ‘unique’ personality trait to my advantage and swinging the ‘all’ towards the health side once again.

Let me explain, I still get cravings with the best of them and when I want some sugar god help you if you get in the way. And sometimes, just sometimes.. after too many early starts and late nights the thought of bounding out of bed to workout before my first client is a little too much and I (gasp) let it slide.

You see I have been sick (and slack) for a few weeks and indulging a wee bit more than my 80/20 paleo diet allows (and feeling ridiculous shit for it let me tell you!) so that’s why I am embarking on my latest venture: transformation ME.

First up on the cards is to target my low immunity and sugar cravings head on with a bucket load of cinnamon and chromium tablets. Oh and a 3 day juice cleanse via Urban Remedy to really drive it home! I have heard great things about this company and the fact that they deliver to my door at a reasonable prize is just too good to say no to.

As a seasoned detoxer I have selected the level 3 cleanse which doesn’t include fruit (as I said, all or nothing). There are 6 juices a day and you are told to drink double that in h20 and herbal teas.

So starting tomorrow I am swapping coffee for green juice to prepare my body for  my second phase of code ME… a 12 week hard as hell core body shaping transformation program. There will be sweat, tears and god awful DOMs, but as a trainer I know how important it is to step up your training game and really push yourself. I expect my clients to train hard so I guess this is as much for them as it is for me.

Want to try your own green juice? Try the below recipe via Urban Remedy and Supercharged foods (more info here):

• Spinach
• Cucumber
• Cos lettuce
• Celery
• Parsley
• Mint
• Lemon
• Ginger

Why?

• Enhance digestion
• Reduce inflammation
• Brighten your skin
• Improve energy levels
• Support detoxification
• Alkalise the body

Wish me luck and I’ll report on the juice cleanse at the end of the week!

Flirting with vitality

11 Jul

I’ve have had commitment issues in the past I’m not going to lie… but there is something which has held my attention for quite some time and keeps me coming back for more.

It’s a little something called Vital Greens.

While I flirt nonchalantly between my other staple products such as fish oil and Vitamin D, my well documented love for the green powder is a keeper and I won’t stray.

Here is why:  Vital Greens is a nutrient and enzyme-rich, complete “Superfood’ that is an energizing, cleansing, alkaline-promoting, all in-one nutritional supplement.

Why this is this combo so important to me?

I lead a pretty busy and hectic life (hello early morning PT sessions followed by a day of work, training, writing , more working and probably not going to bed early enough..) so I need something that energies and supports my system – and that isn’t called caffeine…

I can literally feel every glass full working to my benefit – especially since I made such a conscious effort to take it daily (and sometimes twice daily).

My head is less foggy, my skin is clearer, my tummy isn’t bloated anymore and I have been waking up at 5am with the energy to train myself before I train my clients (and if you know me that is a huge feat!).

One key influencer that bought us closer together was my trip to Nepal. My trusted travel sachets of Vital Greens and I trekked 8 hours uphill everyday for 9 whole days, full of energy and not getting sick once -while everyone around me was dropping like flies!

What else do I love?

  • Most of the bulk ingredients are certified organic or of natural origin.
  • It has a comprehensive formula of 76 vital ingredients (and if you want to learn about every each herb this site here lists them individually with explanations.).
  • Vital Greens includes all the products I used to take separately like Spirulina, Chlorella and Wheatgrass – so I am saving money on buying just one super product.
  • It is balanced with antioxidants and immune supporting herbs (such as astragals root, green tea, shitake mushroom) so I found since taking Vital Greens consistently for the last year (instead of occasionally over 3) I don’t catch every cold and flu going around, and who doesn’t love less sick days!
  • It contains digestive enzymes, prebiotics and probiotics (hello healthy inside and colon).
  • It is alkaline forming – super important for healthy digestion and bowels (and aiming for an alkaline system is especially important if you eat a high protein diet like I do).
  • It is designed to curb the appetite (with artichoke powder, green tea and other ingredients) so it’s perfect for my afternoon Vital Protein/Vital Green shake snack before gym session.
  • It’s high in iron and protein (which makes it perfect for vegetarians too).
  • It taste good which is an important quality in a powder (and if you are not sold on the flavour, try it in juice or smoothie rather than plain water.)

Don’t believe me? My clients are fans too:

“I cannot live without my greens, and I have found Vital Greens to be the superior product on the Australian market. I literally feel the spirulina and chlorella hit my cells, which is the perfect compliment to my nutritional cleansing lifestyle! I have all of my clients on Vital Greens for that extra hit of alkalising nutrients! Lee provides product super quick on request too, which I love!!” Emilie Tonkin, www.emilietonkin.isagenix.com

 ‘Living and working in Sydney has many benefits, but the big city life can be hard to keep up with. Trying to balance a hectic work schedule and a growing social life is hard enough – without having to worry about finding time to keep healthy. Thankfully, at least the early morning rush of trying to throw something together before running out the door has been made easy, and healthy, with the discovery of Vital Greens. My partner and I have been benefiting from all the goodness of Vital Greens for the past 12 months. Mixed in simple fruit smoothies, Vital Greens fuels us for the entire morning and we have the energy to tackle the day…..and the city! I would recommend this product to everyone!’  Darren Duke

“I’m 30 now and having been playing AFL foofball for 22 years and it’s getting harder to recover and have the energy to get the day after a game or training. Since I have started taking Vitals Greens (before the game and in the mornings) I have found I have more energy and more go. I just add it my protein shakes and I’m good to go!’ Shaun Silver

So what are you waiting for, put a spring in your step, ward off winter bugs and get into this green liquid gold!!

Here is a nice little raw recipe to try using Vital Greens and a mix of other superfoods:

Vitality Balls 

              

35 pitted dates

¼ cup chia seeds (black and white mixed)

¼ cup sesame seeds – grind half in mortar and pestle and keep other half whole

¼ cup desiccated coconut

¼ cup walnuts and seeds of your choice.

1/3 cup raw cacao powder

3 tablespoons Vital Greens

3 tablespoons Vital Protein

3 tablespoons honey

3 tablespoons tahini (preferably unhulled)

2 tablespoons ABC spread (combined almonds, Brazil, cashews)

1. Soak dates overnight.

2. Combine dry ingredients in a separate bowl chia seeds, sesame seeds, nuts/seeds, Vital Greens and Vital Protein, desiccated coconut, and cacao powder.

3. Either put softened dates in a food processor or alternatively chop dates into small pieces into a separate bowl. (fyi a food processor does makes your life easier with this recipe!)

4. Add honey, tahini, and nut spread to the chopped dates (either combine in food processor, or combine in the bowl with the dates).

5. Slowly add dry ingredients, mixing as you go. You just need it at a consistency that will hold the dry ingredients together, so you may need to vary quantities as you see fit.

6. Using your hands, form into individual balls about 3cm diameter. Roll in extra coconut or crushed nuts  if you wish!

Enjoy  x

The Rewards of the Cooler Months

8 Jun

I know it is odd and even a little backwards, but I have always found it easier to keep up an exercise routine during the cooler months leading to winter than in spring or summer.

While everyone else is slowly adding to their layers (and I’m not just talking scarves..) I am using this downtime to move, cook and prepare. Kind of like an out of season spring-clean to reset goals before summer (ie fun times) arrives. And let’s be honest, those New Year’s resolutions that you swore to stick to are now a distant, distant memory.

Yes I know it is getting cold out there, but what better way to keep warm than to do a few interval sprints or to sting a kettkebell a few (hundred) times? What more genus way to ward off extra calories from the winter wonders (hello yummy curries) than to sign up to a new class?

Why prepare? Generally speaking the sun will come out after winter and the big jackets will get pushed back to bottom of the wardrobe. Why become one of the usual suspects who waits until a week before beach weather to do a frantic exercise binge in hope of redemption to undo the damage you have caused?

How about this year you join me and instead of damaging your health through winter, shape up and feel amazing. Wake up a wee bit easier and feel confident and strong instead of groggy and couch comatosed.

Yes it will be getting wet and cold outside so one thing you can do is bring your outdoor training indoors. For a few months, switch your bootcamp sessions to indoors (come see me at Holistic Fitness if you’re in Sydney and try one of our classes!) or splash out on a new exercise DVD to get stuck into.

Change up long sessions to short and intense ones so you can still enjoy the relief of your couch and Foxtel IQ once done. But hot tip – watch your hot chocolate/coffee/red wine ratio to good ol’ H20 once you are on that couch as you must stay well hydrated.

Planning is essential to making this work. Try setting yourself an 8 week challenge either at a gym or with a friend, as having an ‘end’ date always helps with mental blocks. Then over time, 8 week blocks will turn into 12 week blocks until it becomes an easy lifestyle routine that hopefully you will even learn to enjoy!

Tip: Dress accordingly! Invest in some warmer (perhaps new..) outfits and at least one water resistant jacked. The reason why they say to keep your hands and feet warm in cold weather, is because the body shunts blood away from the extremities to warm internal organs!

Tip: Don’t let a sniffily nose get in your way of achieving your goals this winter! Virus busting herbs include Olive Leaf Extract, Andrographis, Garlic and Echinacea.

Tip: Rest days are just as important as exercise days – don’t forget this!

Tip: Make big pots of veggie soup for easy to grab meals (and always delish!).

Me? I am 11 days in a 90 day training challenge (broken into 6 week blocks) – stronger body here I come!!

Winter Vegetable Soup – recipe and image via Supercharged Foods be sure to check out her new recipe book which you can buy from here

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 3 celery stalks, diced
  • 140 g (5 oz) sugar-free tomato paste (concentrated purée)
  • 400 g (14 oz) tin chopped tomatoes (sugar and additive free)
  • 150 g (51/2 oz) green beans, topped,
  • tailed and cut into 3–4 cm (11/4–11/2 inch) lengths
  • 1/4 cabbage, coarsely shredded
  • 1/2 cauliflower, roughly chopped
  • 2 zucchini (courgettes), diced
  • 1 red capsicum (pepper), diced
  • 1 green capsicum (pepper), diced
  • 1 bunch kale or 1/2 bunch silverbeet
  • (Swiss chard), stalks trimmed and leaves coarsely shredded
  • 1 litre (35 fl oz/4 cups) additive-free vegetable stock or filtered water
  • 1 handful herbs, such as parsley, thyme, rosemary and basil, chopped

Method

  • Heat the coconut oil in a large heavy-based saucepan and lightly brown the onion, garlic and celery over medium heat for about 5 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste and chopped tomatoes and cook for a minute or two.
  • Add the beans, cabbage, cauliflower, zucchini, capsicums and kale, and cook for 1–2 minutes more. Add the stock or water and, if necessary pour, in enough extra filtered water to cover the vegetables.
  • Bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 1 hour.
  • If you prefer a smoother soup, transfer to a blender or use a hand-held blender and whiz until the desired texture is reached.
  • Serve hot, sprinkled with the herbs.
  • Serves 6–8

Enjoy!

Is Green The New Black?

1 Jun

You would have to be living under a rock not to have noticed the climb of the latest (eco) trend. You know, the new ‘green living’ which has taken over the city in the past year?

Designer natural fibre shopping bags have taken over plastic, hazelnut milk has replaced soy (because soy is so 2011) and if it isn’t’ organic/grain fed/happy (formally cow)/beef.. send it back.

Now don’t get me wrong, I am 100% loving the fact that people are starting to be more conscious to what they put into their bodies, or  how their lifestyle may affect the environment, but I am also realistic and know that not everyone lives in a space that allows you to have hens to provide free range eggs, or a glorious overgrown orchard to feed friends and family. Hell, even just being financially able to afford bucket loads of local produce to sustain clean eating isn’t realistic for a majority of the population.

Thankfully people are not put off by these obstacles (ie greenie bullying) and are still trying to do their bit. From swapping their household chemicals to natural cleaning products, riding their bike to work, buying more local food or simply recycling. It’s nice that we are pulling together to give the planet a well needed helping hand.

My latest ‘bit’ and contribution is pretending I don’t live on the 7th floor of an apartment building (and much to by boyfriends horror) ‘attempting’ to turn our balcony into a vegetable and herb garden.

Turns out this is not as easy as one might think. First there is the space issue, then there is the sun-to-rain ratio issue (please stop raining Sydney), oh and let’s not forget the ‘pouring a whole packet of tomato seeds into a pot thinking they won’t grow’ problem.. because they did. They all did.. and momentarily our balcony was turned into a large green (weedy looking) oasis! Well my boyfriend might object to the oasis statement which may explain why they turned from green to twiggy brown while I was away in Nepal..but they are back on track and I finally have little home grown tomatoes!

Yes, sometimes it IS just the small things that puts a smile on your face.

Key things I have learnt being a rookie urban vegetable grower:

  • Read the instructions before you plant seeds, shockingly, they may actually grow so make sure you have space and enough pots to accommodate this.
  • Make sure you plant them in the correct season, obvious yes but I did say I was a rookie.
  • Tomatoes in particular, are very thirsty and needs bucket loads of water daily, and plant ‘food’ to bring them back to life (see below point).
  • Make sure you leave clear instructions of boyfriend/girlfriends of how to keep said plants alive when you go away.
  • Take plenty of photographic proof of your growing produce as nobody will believe that you could possibly grow anything in the city!

And here is proof of my delish tomatoes and mixed herbs grown from my very own garden balcony.

Tomatoes

  • Tomatoes are high in Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Calcium, Lycopene and Potassium.
  • They are one of the lowest calorie vegetable containing just 18 calories per 100 g.
  • They are excellent sources of antioxidants, dietary fiber, minerals, and vitamins. Because of their all-round qualities, dieticians and nutritionists often recommend them to be included in cholesterol controlling and weight reduction programs
  • Lycopene, a flavonoid antioxidant, is the unique phytochemical present in the tomatoes. Red varieties are especially concentrated in this antioxidant. Together with carotenoids, it has the ability to protect cells and other structures in the body from harmful oxygen free radicals. Studies have shown that lycopeneprevents skin damage from ultra-violet (UV) rays and offers protection from skin cancer.

Rosemary

  • Is known as a popular mood booster and remedy for depression
  • Antioxidant
  • reduces inflammation throughout the body
  • Anti-bacterial: less bugs, more goodness
  •  Improves cognitive function: making you all alert and perky and stuff
  • Antispasmodic: reduces cramps and spasms in the gut

Basil

  • Boasts wide range of antioxidants (polyphenols) on par with berries.
  • Green basil is rich in flavonoids.
  • Decreases platelet aggregation, preventing blood clots.

Give it a try!

Fitness (and good health) In The City x

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