Welcome

My name is Lisa Tsakos, Registered Holistic Nutritionist, corporate speaker and author. This blog provides professional advice from a nutrition and weight loss expert (me!) about corporate and family health. Here you'll find recipes and articles that address work-related challenges like eating on-the-go and maximizing your productivity with the right foods. You'll also find out about how you can help your children develop strong immune systems and healthy bodies. As a nutrition instructor, I often found myself thinking, "When I have kids, this is how I will feed them." With two toddlers, I have the opportunity to practice what I have been preaching and to try out my theories. So far, they seem to be working! Follow me on my journey and also on Twitter @NuVitalityHW.

30 Apr 2014

Antibiotic-Resistance Update

April 30, 2014 Update: 

I was horrified to read the article posted by Scientific American today called "Antibiotic Resistance is Now Rife Across the Globe." Here is an excerpt from the article:
Antibiotic resistance is putting patients in peril in both developing and developed countries, as bacteria responsible for an array of dangerous infections evolve resistance to the drugs that once vanquished them.

Gonorrhea, once well treated by antibiotics, is once again a major public health threat due to the emergence of new, resistant strains. Drugs that were once a last resort treatment for the sexually transmitted disease—which can lead to infertility, blindness and increased odds of HIV transmission if left untreated—are now the first-line treatment and are sometimes ineffective among patients in countries such as the U.K., Canada, Australia, France, Japan, Norway, South Africa, Slovenia and Sweden.

Drugs to treat Klebsiella pneumoniae—a common intestinal bacteria that can cause life-threatening infections in intensive care unit patients and newborns—no longer work in more than half of patients in some countries. And fluoroquinolones, drugs used to treat urinary tract infections, are also ineffective in more than half of sufferers in many parts of the world. Efforts to limit the spread of multidrug-resistant tuberculosis, malaria and HIV are also all under threat due to increasing bacterial resistance.
This is scary news! Now, more than ever, we must protect ourselves from dangerous pathogens by building up our immune systems. That means eating a healthy diet, rich in antioxidants, vitamin A, C and E, and ensuring that our bodies are armed with good bacteria and healthy intestinal microflora. My article below, posted on Sept. 2013, provides more details about antibiotic-resistance and how to protect your health.

27 Apr 2014

Gourmet Olives Marinated in Thyme & Lemon Recipe

You've just returned home from a tiring day at work when there's a knock at the door. 

What do you do when guests drop by a surprise visit? Surprise them back with these gourmet olives. I don't have time to make gourmet-anything, you say? Check out how easy this recipe is: 

Ingredients: 

1/2 cup Kalamata olives 
1/4 tsp. dried thyme 
1/4 tsp. dried rosemary
1/4 tsp. lemon rind
extra-virgin olive oil for drizzling 

Place the olives in a bowl. 
Add the the thyme and rosemary and give them a stir (I like to add slightly more thyme than rosemary). 
Using a grater or microplane, grate a lemon (that has been scrubbed clean using hot water and soap first). Sprinkle the zest over the olives. 
Place the olives in a pretty serving bowl or dish, drizzle some good quality olive oil over top and serve. 

Your guests will be thoroughly impressed! 

Refrigerate any leftover olives for up to a week. You'll find the flavours intensify as they marinade. 


21 Apr 2014

Interview with 'Slimming Meals That Heal' Author Julie Daniluk

My long time friend and colleague, Julie Daniluk, has just released her second book, Slimming Meals That Heal. Julie and I go way (way...) back. She is a brilliant nutritionist, fun to be with, and a wonderful human being through and through. I'm very proud of her and learned a lot from our talk. (Try not to notice that most of my sentences begin with "Wow!")

Julie generously spent some time on the phone with me discussing her book, the latest research about how inflammation drives obesity and vice versa, and her own personal journey towards health. 

During our 40 minute call, Julie explains how inflammation drives weight gain - and vice versa. We discuss how common allergens, like wheat, sugar, corn, soy and more trigger stress hormones that cause inflammation. Julie also provides fantastic tips for eating-on-the-go and some great after school snack suggestions for kids.

Whether you suffer from inflammation or not, it's worth listening to this interview! While I frantically tried to take notes, I gave up halfway through. There was too much info to keep up! Plug in your speakers, click on the red & white arrow at the top of the page and get ready to look at food and the extra 10 pounds on your belly from a whole different angle. 


About Julie:
Nutritionist Julie Daniluk, RHN hosts Healthy Gourmet on the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN), a reality cooking show that looks at the ongoing battle between taste and nutrition. Her award-winning bestseller, Meals That Heal Inflammation, has helped over 100,000 people enjoy allergy-free foods that taste great and assist the body in the healing process. Her new book, Slimming Meals That Heal, explores why inflammation causes weight gain and how anti-inflammatory superfoods shed pounds without dieting. Julie has appeared on hundreds of television and radio shows including The Dr. Oz Show and is a resident expert for The Marilyn Denis Show and Reader’s Digest. 


Find amazing recipes (including the Fruit 'Fundue' with Coconut Caramel Sauce recipe that Julie mentions in the interview), nutrition tips, and her Anti-Inflammatory Quick Start Program at www.juliedaniluk.com. Connect with Julie on Facebook at Julie Daniluk Nutrition and on Instagram and Twitter @juliedaniluk.

12 Apr 2014

"Food of the Gods" Power Smoothie Recipe

Energizing, mood boosting & anti-inflammatory power shake


Ever since tasting colon hydrotherapy guru Carla Roter's Cocoa & Banana Smoothie recipe, I haven't been able to get enough of the creamy concoction.

The recipe is from the just released "The Gentle Colonoscopy Prep" and is recommended as part of the preparation process before a colonoscopy, but I drink it when I need a chocolate fix, after a workout, as a quick on-the-go breakfast, an afternoon snack, or simply because it tastes amazing! 

The basic recipe simply includes coconut milk, banana, cocoa powder and coconut oil (optional). To entice my kids, I sweetened it by adding some maple syrup, but feel free to leave it out entirely. For added protein, Carla suggests adding chia seeds or hemp hearts, both of which happen to blend beautifully into a smoothie, and some avocado. 

By the way, I'll be reviewing Carla's book soon and am hoping for an interview too, so stay tuned!

Ingredients: 

1/2 cup coconut milk (shake the can well to mix in the coconut cream or stir well after opening)
1/2 banana 
1 tsp. all natural cocoa powder (I like Camino's)
1/2 avocado 
1 heaping tsp. chia seeds (soak chia seeds in a jar with 1/4 of warm water until they gel before adding to the smoothie)
1/2 tsp. maple syrup (optional)
I also add 1/2 to 1 cup water to thin it out a little 

Place all ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth. If it's too thick, add a little more water. Makes 1 cup (250 mL). 

If you are following Carla's colonoscopy prep protocol, stick to the original recipe in the book. 

But if a quick breakfast is on the menu, the recipe above is a much healthier alternative to Carnation Breakfast Essentials, Dark Chocolate Powder Drink Mix, and it's almost as easy to prepare. Check out the ingredients: 

NONFAT MILK, SUGAR, MALTODEXTRIN, COCOA (PROCESSED WITH ALKAKI), LACTOSE AND 2% OR LESS OF DICALCIUM PHOSPHATE, SOY LECITHIN, CARAMEL COLOR, NATURAL AND ARTIFICIAL FLAVORS, MAGNESIUM HYDROXIDE, SODIUM ASCORBATE (VITAMIN C), CARRAGEENAN, MODIFIED CORNSTARCH, FERRIC ORTHOPHOSPHATE (IRON SOURCE), ALPHA TOCOPHERYL ACETATE (VITAMIN E), NIACINAMIDE, COPPER GLUCONATE, ZINC OXIDE, CALCIUM PANTOTHENATE (PANTOTHENIC ACID), MANGANESE SULFATE, VITAMIN A PALMITATE, PYRIDOXINE HYDROCHLORIDE (VITAMIN B6), THIAMINE MONONITRATE (VITAMIN B1), BIOTIN, VITAMIN K1 (PHYTONADIONE), FOLIC ACID, VITAMIN D3 (CHOLECALCIFEROL), VITAMIN B12 (CYANOCOBALAMIN).

Carnation's website states it's "A delicious and nutritious way to start the day off right." Umm, not so much. It's basically chocolate milk with added vitamins and minerals. Sugar is the second ingredient in this 'healthy' breakfast and the soy lecithin, maltodextrin, cornstarch, and even the sugar are likely derived from genetically modified soy and corn. Cocoa is chock full of antioxidants, but a study found that when it's processed with alkali, it loses about 90% of its antioxidants. 

Sure, it's convenient, but is it worth it? Instead, blend up this smoothie recipe before bed, and enjoy your healthy 'instant' breakfast when you wake up!

Read more about colon health: Banish Bowel Back-Up Naturally and Fermented Foods Make a Comeback


3 Apr 2014

Super Easy Gluten-Free Trail Mix Recipe

Today I had the privilege of presenting my 'Eating on the Go' workshop to a group of 40+ truck drivers. Talk about a group with unique needs! They're on the road for hours & hours at a time with very little opportunity to stop for food (how many restaurants have parking for 18 wheelers?) or for washroom breaks (I wouldn't want to drink too many liquids either).

Speaking of liquids, during the Q&A period, one of the participants brought up the benefits of drinking a glass of water with lemon - my favourite daily habit - every morning. Unfortunately, we didn't have time to discuss it further, so here's a link to an article that I wrote for Naturally Savvy last year called 8 Reasons to Start Your Day with Lemon Water.

Back to today's seminar... To bring home my points about healthy snacking, I brought in a DIY trail mix (that I threw together in, um, about 1 minute) for everyone to try. 

I make this mix at home for my family about once a month using staple ingredients. We always have at least 4 or 5 different types of raw nuts and seeds on hand (they're stored in the freezer where they last longer). Chocolate is always on hand, too (though it doesn't last the night if I don't hide it from my husband). All the ingredients are tossed together in a large bowl, separated into snack-size Ziplock bags, and stored in the cupboard. We each grab a bag on the way out the door. It's a great snack for road trips, so I was thrilled that the truckers at today's session liked it! 

Here are the ingredients:

1 cup Nature's Path Whole O's Gluten-Free cereal (if you are not sensitive to gluten, you can use any cereal, even Cheerios now that they are GMO-free)
1 cup Nature's Path Corn Puffs (optional. I add them for extra crunch)
1 cup dried cranberries or other dried fruit (sulphite-free if possible)
1/2 cup raw* almonds or other nut
1 cup raw* pumpkin seeds
1/2 dark chocolate chips or chunks
1/2 cup flaked or shredded coconut, unsweetened 
You can even throw in some hemp hearts or flaxseed

The amounts listed here make about 5 cups of trail mix. That may sound like more than you'll ever eat, but you'll be surprised how quickly it goes. If it is too much, divide the amounts in half. 

* Why use raw nuts and seeds rather than roasted? Roasted nuts may taste better than raw, but they aren't nearly as healthy; in fact, they aren't actually roasted, but fried in vegetable oil and over-seasoned, often with MSG or other glutamates. Regardless of how they're seasoned, they are a source of extra sodium. If you prefer the taste of roasted nuts and seeds, roast them yourself in the oven or on the stovetop.


1 Apr 2014

What's in Coca Cola?

This bottle of Coke contains the equivalent of 20 packets of sugar
Even though soft drink sales are losing their fizz, Coke remains in the top spot (followed by Diet Coke). Coca Cola is part of our culture - and every culture around the world. According to NBCnews.com, the Coca Cola logo is recognized by 94% of the world's population. 

Excellent marketing aside, what exactly is in Coke? Here are the ingredients: 

INGREDIENTS: Carbonated water, sugar/glucose-fructose, caramel colour, phosphoric acid, natural flavour, caffeine.

Some call it liquid sugar, some call it diabetes in a can. Whatever you want to call it, the 591 mL bottle of Coke in the photo above contains the equivalent of 20 teaspoons of sugar! But it isn't real sugar, it’s high-fructose corn syrup (which is called glucose-fructose in Canada). 

Glucose-fructose / high-fructose corn syrup is an inexpensive sweetener that has largely replaced sugar in soft drinks and in many processed foods. It is considered a major cause of obesity and an underlying factor in heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and many types of cancer.
The caramel colour used in Coke is 4-methylimidazole (4-MI), a known animal carcinogen that may very possibly cause cancer in humans too. It is the least expensive and most toxic of the four types of caramel that can be added to foods and drinks.  
Phosphoric acid gives Coke its tangy flavour. This chemical has been linked to low bone density caused by a lower calcium to phosphorus ratio. In other words, phosphoric acid, specifically from colas, interferes with calcium absorption.
What about the natural flavours in Coke? According to www.coca-colahellenic.com, "These are natural flavours from a complex mixture of plants that we use as the source of Coca-Cola’s famous flavours." Exactly what are they and which plants are they derived from? That's a well-protected trade secret.
Finally, caffeine is added to give Coke its bitter taste. A 355 mL (12 oz.) can of Coke Classic has about 35 mg of caffeine, the amount in a cup of tea brewed for 3 minutes. 
Even the water, the first ingredient, is carbonated. There isn't a single natural ingredient in Coke. Not exactly a healthy bevy.
REFERENCES:
http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/03/31/usa-soda-beverages-idUSL1N0MS16O20140331
http://www.cspinet.org/new/201203051.html
http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/84/4/936.full 
http://www.nytimes.com/1988/07/01/business/how-coca-cola-obtains-its-coca.html
http://www.coca-colahellenic.com/~/media/Files/C/CCHBC/documents/125Year_A6Leaflet_v6.pdf