Bone Broth: Fad or Functional?

iStock-697330880.jpg

Do you ever feel like it's hard to keep up with what foods are new and trendy and if they're actually good for you?

Since bone broth has been all the rage lately, today I'm going to demystify if it's an expensive hoax or nutritious gold.

Not to sound too edgy here, but I've been drinking bone broth since the early 90s, way before it was put on the map in the US as a gut-healthy food.

Bone broth has been used in other cultures for centuries and my ancestry includes one of those cultures. I am half Persian and half Argentinian—my Iranian mom used to make bone broth for me and my sister whenever we were sick because of its immune-boosting properties. We now laugh about how "bone broth" is actually just "stock" (that has simmered for a bit longer) but that if you put something in a mason jar and give it catchy name, it can sweep the nation as the coolest new thing to have. Why didn't we think of that?

What exactly is bone broth? Bone broth is made from animal bones and connective tissue — typically from cattle, poultry, or lamb but can include fish — that have been boiled into a broth and slow simmered with herbs, spices, and vegetables (usually onions, carrots, celery, garlic) for a minimum of 12 hours but up to 24-78 for richer flavor and nutrients.

What to look for: quality is essential when choosing bone broth. You want organic, grass-fed cattle or pasture-raised poultry as these will yield the most nutrient-rich broths and you won't be getting unnecessary hormones or antibiotics.

Why is it good for you? Bone broth does more than soothe the soul. The slow simmer time enables all of the beneficial proteins, collagen-rich gelatin, minerals, and compounds to be released from the bones and makes the nutrients easy for your body to absorb. Without getting too science-y, here are the spark notes on how bone broth promotes better health.

Joints: bone broth provides an excellent source of easily absorbable collagen that can help restore cartilage and gelatin that can help form and maintain strong bones.

Gut and immune system: according to Dr. Axe, one of my favorite functional medicine doctors, amino acids in collagen build the tissue that lines the colon and entire GI tract so supplementing with collagen can support healthy digestive function. In addition to helping form strong bones, gelatin can also restore gut lining strength, fight food sensitivities, support the growth of good gut bacteria (aka probiotics), reduce inflammation in the digestive tract, and help increase absorption of nutrients from other foods.

Skin, hair, and nails: as we age, collagen production declines. The collagen in bone broth can help maintain skin's youthfulness by reducing wrinkles, puffiness, cellulite formation, and stretch marks. You can expect to see benefits in your fingernails, hair, and teeth as well because the collagen protein provides the building blocks for these as well!

Bonus: it helps aid detoxification by supporting the liver, boosts metabolism, supports nerve function, and more. Bottom line, bone broth lives up to the hype. If you don't want to spend $10-$12 per cup, you can make a pot yourself and store in the refigerator for about 5 days or freeze it. This is a simple recipe from Dr. Mercola.

Are there other trendy foods that you want to learn more about? Let me know in the comments!

In good health,

Briana

Here's the skinny on fat

Energy Bites.jpg

If I could have one wish in the nutrition world it would be for dietary fat to have a different name than body fat. Why? Because there are so many reasons why fat is totally PHAT.

Often times when I encourage clients to eat more fat the skepticism in their eyes says, "is this a trick?" If a trick means staying fuller for longer, increasing your health, and enhancing flavor, then I guess, yes, it's a trick. Do you know the result of health gains? Longevity, weight loss, and confidence to name only a few. Win, win, win. So, how does this work, exactly?

Because fats digest slower than carbs or protein they help keep us satiated for a longer period of time and they help keep blood sugar stable, which is great for controlling appetite and energy levels. They help protect against heart disease by reducing LDL cholesterol (the bad kind) and increasing HDL cholesterol (the good kind). They also help your body absorb fat soluble vitamins (A, D, E, and K)!

Now, before you start putting butter on everything, let's get clear on what types of fat I'm taking about.

There are four types of dietary fats: monounsaturated, polyunsaturated, saturated, and trans fats. Healthy fats are the mono-and-polyunsaturated fats and to some extent saturated fats, though in lesser quantity. These are foods like avocado, nuts and nut butter (especially walnuts because have omega 3s), olive oil, olives, seeds (pumpkin, sunflower, sesame, flax, chia), and fatty fish (salmon, tuna, mackerel, herring, sardines, trout, oysters, sea bass, sole). Although not as powerful as the foods listed above, Brussels sprouts, kale, spinach, hemp seeds, and eggs are good sources too.

The main fats you want to avoid are the artery-clogging trans fats that are often found in commercial baked goods such as cakes, cookies, fried foods, and many processed snack foods like chips and crackers, margarine, and non-dairy creamers. The best way to avoid these fats is by checking the ingredients list for the red flags "hydrogenated" or "partially hydrogenated."

Here are three ways to incorporate more healthy fats into your diet.

1. It's all about quality. You are high-quality person so you deserve to eat high-quality fats. When I say quality, I mean grass-fed butter or ghee, grass-fed meats, pasture-raisedbacon, dark chocolate (72% or darker). Grass-fed as opposed to grain-fed offers nutrient advantages of being higher in omega-3s, which are magical fats that can lower blood pressure, prevent blood clot formation, promote heart health, help fight depression, support memory and brain function, and reduce inflammation.

2. Skip skim. Fat adds flavor to foods so when manufacturers remove fat to create skim or low-fat products like milk, cheese, and crackers they have to add in something else to enhance taste. Do you know what they add in? SUGAR! Next time you're at the grocery store and you're not in a rush compare the nutrition label and ingredients list of skim milk to 2% milk or non-fat crackers to regular crackers and you'll see the difference. Opt for 2% or whole milk and yogurt.

3. Have 1-2 tablespoons of fat with every meal. The US Dietary Guidelines doesn’t encourage a low-fat diet and neither do I! They suggest that about 20-35% of our daily energy (calorie) intake should come from healthy fats. A typical day of eating with healthy fats might look like 2 tbsps of almond butter with breakfast, a drizzle of olive oil and 1 tbsp of flax seeds in a lunch salad, and 1/4 - 1/2 of an avocado and wild-caught salmon at dinner.

In good health,

Briana

3 steps to getting unstuck

iStock-479224952.jpg
 

Tomorrow is officially the first day of spring. Although new beginnings can technically happen whenever you so choose, there is something special about the ones marked by the calendar. They are an open invitation to start fresh. Spring brings more energy, excitement, and inspired action. It is an opportunity to overcome obstacles, breakdown blockages, and get clear on what you want for yourself moving forward.

Here is a three-part journaling exercise that's a powerful way to breakthrough where you feel stuck and start spring with more purpose and mindfulness.

Step 1: Review. Take a few minutes to reflect on your year so far. Without judgment, define your reality. Assess your life holistically—relationships, career, personal care, health, etc. What has and hasn't been going well? What are three important things for which you are grateful? What areas would you like to see improvement in? What's holding you back/preventing you from making progress in those areas?

Step 2: Release. Now is the perfect time to release anything that's no longer serving you. What stresses, doubts, insecurities, fears, perspectives, old narratives, limiting beliefs, etc. are you holding onto that you are ready to let go of? Write down everything that you want to release. Imagine life without this burden weighing you down. How does it feel different? How do you go about your day? How do you carry yourself? What types of things are you doing that you aren't doing now? Connect to that feeling of lightness, of energy but release the thoughts, the specific visions.

Step 3: Reset. Maintaining that connection to invigorated energy, set an intention (or 2 or 3) that captures the essence of what you want to cultivate in your life moving forward. Setting an intention is a tool to help you design a lifestyle that supports your values. When you live in alignment with your values you feel a greater sense of purpose, fulfillment, and happiness.

Intentions are different than goals—they allow for more flexibility and exploration. Your intentions create a roadmap, guiding principles, while your goals are mini destinations, specific outcomes, along the way.

For example, say someone feels bored with and stuck in their daily routine. A goal might be "I will take a cooking class." The intention might be, "I live with curiosity," or, "I operate from a place of curiosity," which can manifest in a number of different ways like choosing to engage in conversation with new people more frequently, trying a new activity (like the cooking the class), and becoming more familiar with your thought patterns (i.e. if you notice that you're often telling yourself that "you should do something," start to ask, "why do I feel like I should do it? Do I want to do it or do I feel obligated to do it?").

Once you have your intention(s), write down 3-5 ways that you can start living in accordance with it.

In good health, 

Briana

3 ways to get organized and feel amazing

 

We are easily influenced by our environment. Our productivity and sense of ease decreases when we're around clutter because it's distracting! Here are three ways to spruce up your surroundings

1. Clean out your closet. Most of us have a few things we're holding on to because "we might need them someday." Is that true for you? If so, I recommend donating or selling items that you haven't worn in over 6 months (unless it's seasonal). If that seems daunting or you just aren't ready to part ways with that outfit you wore in college because it might fit again someday or it might come in handy, then choose only 3 items that you do feel comfortable getting rid of. Removing old things will make space for new, fresh things!

2. Purge your pantry. Take everything out of your pantry and throw away items with a past-due expiration date. It's amazing how packaged goods can build up and stay in our pantries forever. Here are a few pantry staples I recommend always having on hand:

  • Dressings: extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar, apple cider vinegar
  • Herbs/spices: salt, pepper, rosemary, thyme, oregano, basil, cayenne, turmeric
  • Canned goods: tuna, sardines, white beans, black beans, chickpeas, diced tomatoes (no sugar added)
  • Whole grains: quinoa, rice, oats
  • Flavor enhancers: coconut oil, ghee, chicken or vegetable stock (no sugar added)
  • Treats: raw honey, dark chocolate (72% or higher)
  • Protein: almond butter, peanut butter, walnut butter, collagen powder, RX bars or Kind bars 

3. Wipe down your workspace. When you go into the office today, run finger over your desk and you'll notice how much dust has accumulated... unless you regularly clean your desk, in which case, major props! In order to wipe down your desk you'll likely have to move some things around so while you're at it, throw away anything that you don't need. Outdated post-it notes, candy, completed expense reports, etc.  


Have fun with this! Listen to good music, make fun snacks, do whatever it takes to make this a refreshing experience. Trust me, after you're done, you'll feel fantastic—and who doesn't like feeling fantastic?

In good health,

Briana


P.S. In the spirit of being organized, I want to tell you about Panda Planners. They are scientifically designed to make you happier and more productive. They are also really fun for people (like me) who get deep satisfaction from crossing off to-dos and visually seeing your accomplished goals and priorities. 

Spring clean your diet

IMG_8516.JPG
 

A new beginning can technically be whenever you want it to be, but there's something special about the ones marked by the calendar—like the first of every month, new moons, and the first of day of spring, which is just around the corner. They feel like an invitation to start fresh. 

This week I invite you to start fresh with your diet. I'm sharing five ways to sustainably declutter your diet so that you can fuel the increased activity levels that naturally accompany spring. 

1. Say a sweet goodbye to sugar. Most of us get way more sugar in our diet than we need to! The American Heart Association recommends no more than 6 teaspoons of added sugar a day for women and 9 teaspoons for men. If you're looking at a nutrition label, there are about 4 grams in 1 tsp. Here are three healthy swaps to make this week:

  • Instead of soda have Hint water—you'll get the carbonation and flavor without the added sugar and fake ingredients.
  • Instead of energy drinks have green tea—you'll have improved mental clarity and performance without jitters and may even experience boosted metabolism.
  • Instead of bottled smoothies and juice have home-made smoothies. Bottled smoothies can be a one-way ticket to type 2 diabetes. For example, Odwalla’s Original Superfood Smoothie has 51 grams of sugar per bottle. That is 8.5x the daily amount of sugar for women and 5.6x for men! I'm a total supporter of smoothies as long as you make your own, with no more than 2 fruits. 

2. Eat better, not less. You can do this by focusing your diet on whole, unprocessed foods. A helpful guide to setting up your plate for success is 1/4 protein, 1/4 whole grain or starchy carbohydrate, 1/4 fibrous carbohydrate (aka vegetables or fruit), and 1-2 tablespoons of healthy fats. These proportions will help keep you satiated and your blood sugar stable. 

3. Take interest in ingredients. Ingredients are always listed in order of predominance from those used in greatest quantities to those used in least quantities. The fewer ingredients, the better and if you can’t pronounce it or your grandmother wouldn’t recognize it, steer clear.

4. Write a pre-snacktual agreement. The afternoon slump is one of the biggest times for making an impulse snack purchase—and it's usually something sugary. Instead, plan ahead by packing your snacks. The best snacks are high-protein, high-fat like a handful of nuts and dark chocolate (72% or higher), Gruyere cheese kebabs with cherry tomatoes and veggies, banana or apple with nut butter, or hummus and whole grain crackers.

5. Eat like a cow. And by that I mean plant-based and chew slowly. Digestion starts in the mouth. Ideally, each bite should become a baby food-like consistency before you swallow and move on to the next bite. Take your time to enjoy the flavors and textures and put your fork down between bites—you'll slow down in no time. Additionally, it takes 20-minutes for your hunger hormones to relay to the brain that they are satiated so the slower you eat, the better. If you're thinking of getting seconds, wait 20-minutes and then evaluate how hungry you are.


As always, please feel free to email me with any questions or comments about decluttering your diet; I always love hearing from you!

In good health,

Briana

Take yourself on a date...

 

If you don’t want to date you, who will?

You might be thinking, “Briana, you’re a nutritionist and health coach, why are you talking about relationships?” Because it’s all connected, that’s why. No amount of kale will make you feel better if other parts of your life are unbalanced. So let’s bring a little balance, a little va va voom, to our relationships this month, starting with our lovely selves.  

I often work from coffee shops. Maybe it’s just a San Francisco thing, but 99% of the time everyone else in the coffee shop is also working on their computer (or at least pretending to be). The other day in Saint Frank’s a man caught my eye, not only because he was good looking but also because he didn’t have any electronics with him. All he had was his $5 cup of single origin, sustainably farmed, designer coffee and a book. A real paper book. He was simply enjoying time with himself.

It got me thinking about how little time I intentionally spend alone. I’m a solopreneur so a lot of my time is spent alone when I’m not working with clients but I couldn’t remember the last time I chose to take non-work time alone—to treat myself to a date.

Now, if the idea of spending time alone in public makes you nervous, cool, welcome to the club. It can be a little uncomfortable at first, just like a date with another person, but after a few minutes your anxiety will dissipate and you’ll start having fun. And think about this: I didn’t judge that coffee shop stud for being alone—I was inspired by it! Chances are people won’t be judging you either. Whether you are single or in a relationship, taking rejuvenating alone time is so important to your wellbeing. So, what do you say? Ready to take yourself out?

Date Guidelines

1. Lose your security blanket (aka iPhone, iPad, iMac… you get it). If you went out with someone who spent the date on their phone, you probably wouldn’t have a very good time and they definitely wouldn’t be getting a second date. Show yourself the same respect—be present and enjoy what’s around you. You’re also much more inviting when there isn’t a screen blocking you; you never know who might come say hello ;).

2. Netflix and chill doesn’t count. Your solo date should be a treat, not something you can do every other night of the week. You deserve better.  

3. Don’t rush, it’s going to be okay. I remember the first time I went on a date with myself I sat at the bar at some Asian Fusion restaurant. I was so unbelievably self-conscious for being alone that I was sweating, anxious, and ate as quickly as possible. By the time I got home, I had a stomach ache and pit stains that never came out of my white shirt. If I could give my younger self advice for that date, I would say, “breathe into the discomfort. Slow down. No one thinks you’re lame. Most people are too concerned with themselves wondering if they have food in their teeth or if they left the stove on or if they should get the chicken or the steak. Enjoy your freakin' meal."
 

In good health,

Briana

How to "do less" and why it's important

 

What do I mean by do less?

It's easy to get into a pattern of feeling overwhelmed. Respecting your time first is the best way to get other people to respect your time. Interestingly enough, we are often a big part of our own sense of overwhelm. Here's my experience with a few things you could let go of this week to feel lighter and refreshed. 

1. Saying yes for the wrong reasons: Do you ever feel like you have totally overcommitted yourself in your personal life? I know I do! Sometimes I say yes because I think I should be doing something or because I feel bad or because I don't want to let anyone down... notice a pattern? On Sundays I like to write down my personal priorities for the week. That way I know exactly what I want to focus on, my to-dos are simplified, and it's a great way to gut-check if an invite or activity aligns with my priorities. 

2. Over-thinking: There's no need to lose ourselves in the "what ifs" and hypotheticals. When I notice ruminating thoughts come up, I like to acknowledge them without judgment and interrupt them by focusing on my breath and what's happening in the present moment. I also find it helpful to write down what's on my mind before bed. It's a way to get closure on the day and say goodnight to those thoughts so that they don't keep me up at night. 

3. Waiting for the right time: it turns out that there is not a "right" time or perfect time to take action in doing something you want to do. The biggest hurdle is starting—we can make excuses and overthink until we've convinced ourselves out of it (trust me, I've been there). Stop questioning yourself: you're already good enough to get started and you know better than anyone else what's best for you!

4. Living in the past: how often do we replay conversations we had, things that we said or wished we said, things that we did or didn't do? Trusting that you reacted exactly as you needed to in a given situation will help you live in the present. There's no need to let the past rob you of enjoying the present and looking forward to the future. 

5. Trying to please everyone: by pleasing everyone are you pleasing yourself or are you neglecting your own needs and desires? I used to be the queen of people-pleasing until I realized how detrimental it was to my own wellbeing. I learned to be empowered by the fact that it's nearly impossible to please everyone so I might as well honor what's good for me. 

In good health, 

Briana

How to be healthy(ish) during Super Bowl Sunday

 

Because the Super Bowl is the second biggest eating day in the U.S. after Thanksgiving, I wanted to share 7 health tips to help you feel at least half-human on Monday morning. 

WARM UP

1. Get in some exercise before the game even if it's a quick 30-minute walk.

2. Don't show up to the party starving. Have a snack before you go like almond butter/banana, hummus/veggies, or yogurt/berries. This will help you avoid overindulging. You'll be more inclined to look at all of your food options before selecting your favorites instead of getting all the things because they're there. 

GAME TIME

3. Beer strategy: choose to have either a few (1-4) quality beers or, if you're going for marathon drinking, stick to light beers or Guinness because they have under 130 calories per serving. Bonus: alternate between beer and water; you'll thank yourself tomorrow if you do this. 

4. To lower pizza's glycemic index and to make it a more balanced meal, add veggies and chicken. This will help keep your blood sugar stable. If you prefer plain pizza, you can have a couple of wings and a vegetable on the side. As delicious as processed meats are like sausage and pepperoni, steer clear of those on your pizza today since you’ll likely be having other treats.

5. Speaking of blood sugar, skip the soda.

6. Choose either guac and chips OR nachos but not both—they are basically the same thing anyway. For guac, try to get baked chips instead of fried (you can always bring a bag to the party). If you're going for the nachos, pull from the bottom where there is less cheese and toppings.

7. Remember to get up during commercial breaks every now and then. Do a little stretch or walk around—those extra steps add up.

Have fun and may be the odds be ever in your favor!

In good health,

Briana

Water, coffee, alcohol — how to drink more mindfully

 

Hydration, hydration, hydration. I often get asked about water, coffee, and alcohol, specifically, "how much" to be drinking. Here are a few helpful guidelines on how to be more mindful about these commonly consumed liquids.

Water: aim to drink at least half of your body weight in ounces. For example, if you weigh 160 lbs., then drink at least 80 oz. (10 cups).

Alcohol: pace yourself by drinking one glass of water after every alcoholic beverage. Moderate alcohol consumption includes up to one drink a day for women and two drinks a day for men, so aim to stick as close to that guideline as possible. 

  • Wine: has health benefits from the antioxidants resveratrol.
  • Beer: Guinness and stouts are usually made with whole grains so they pack a little more nutritional punch, plus stouts have antioxidants. Regular beer usually has upwards of 130 calories per serving so if you're going for quantity over quality, then stick to lite beers, which have about 95-115 calories per serving. Alternatively, you can choose a beer you really enjoy drinking and stick to one to three servings.
  • Hard liquor: when it comes to cocktails, the fewer ingredients the better. If straight liquor or "on the rocks" is too intense for you, then opt for drinks like vodka soda or tequila soda with just a splash of cranberry, lime, or other fruit juice, mules, or add muddled berries, which will you give a little sweetness without all the extra sugar that syrups have.

Caffeine: coffee and tea are both excellent options that provide health benefits. When it comes to coffee, the Mayo Clinic even suggests that up to four cups per day is safe for healthy adults. BUT the key with coffee (and most caffeinated beverages) is to know your body and how sensitive it is. For example, for me, when it comes to tea, I can usually drink 3 cups of caffeinated tea per day and feel great but my body can only tolerate 1, single shot cappuccino and I have to drink it before noon otherwise it impacts my sleep. Crazy right? One more note about coffee: fancy coffee drinks like pumpkin spice lattes can be masked as dessert so it's best to steer clear of syrups, whipped cream, and other elaborate ingredients OR choose them intentionally as a treat and be mindful of your sugar consumption throughout the day. 

In good health,

Briana