DIY Fermented Green Salsa

With all the hard work (and love) that goes into gardening, it’s always a shame to see “summer plants” loaded with unripe fruits and vegis in the fall.  Unlike Kale, or Brussel sprouts, which can actually get sweeter with a little frost, tomato plants tend to shrivel up, stall out, or just plain rot away.  Rather than wait, and hope, for my green tomatoes to turn red before winter sets in, I decided to combine two of my favorite things: salsa and fermented foods.  As mentioned in a previous post(sauerkraut), not only is fermentation an excellent preservation method, it is also an affordable way of getting probiotics into your diet.

Probiotics are the good bacteria in the stomach that have been shown to boost the immune system, decrease inflammation, and regulate hormone production (hence the stomach’s nickname “the second brain”).  In fact, poor gut flora has been linked to conditions such as fibromyalgia, GERD (reflux), and clinical depression.  While almost any vegetable can be fermented, I am a big proponent of using what is local, in-season, and in-stock.  To try your hand at making fermented salsa, check out the recipe below:

*** Note: Red tomatoes can also be used (I actually used a combination of both).

The Harvest
                   The Harvest

Fermented Green Salsa (HOT):

> 6-7 Medium Tomatoes, chopped

> 4-6 Jalapeno or Fresno Peppers, chopped (less based on heat preference)

> 2 Hungarian Peppers, chopped

> 1 Small Onion, diced

> Juice of 1 Lemon

> 6 Cloves of Garlic, peeled and minced

> Handful of Cilantro, rinsed and chopped

> 2-3 T. Unrefined Sea Salt (no additives)

> 1 oz. Raw Apple Cider Vinegar

1). Hand chop, or pulse in a food processor, everything except vinegar, salt, and lemon juice.

2). Place all chopped ingredients into large bowl.

3). Add remaining 3 ingredients, and stir to incorporate.

4). Funnel salsa into wide mouth jars, making sure to leave at least 1-inch of head space.

5). Using a wooden spoon, or similar object, lightly smash down the salsa to further release its liquid. (This is more important when hand chopping ingredients).

6). If “smooshed” correctly, there should be a slight layer of liquid across the top of the ingredients; this helps to keep mold from forming on the salsa itself.

7). Close jar with traditional canning band/seal to a loose finger tightness.

8). Cover jars with tea-towel and leave them to sit, at room temperature, for 3-7 days.  Make sure to “burp” the jars periodically to avoid excess pressure build up (the seals will begin to bulge/swell upward as CO2 is created).  The number of days is dependent on the general temperature of the room and your personal taste preference.  Occasionally a small layer of white mold will form on the salsa (remember the important liquid layer from smashing the salsa in step 6); if done correctly, you can usually scrape the top layer off with a spoon and continue on with the process.

9). Once the salsa is to your liking, cap firmly, refrigerate and enjoy!

Note: Fermented foods typically have a shelf-life of nearly six months.  This does vary item to item.  If you are concerned about spoilage, it is best to heed on the side of caution, and discard the product accordingly.

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Coming Down the “Stretch”

As the cold autumn weather sets in, and people look to enjoy the outdoors a few last times before winter, the need to warm-up becomes increasingly important. Much as the soil stiffens from the cold winds, so to do our muscles, tendons, and joints. The soft tissues become less pliable, and less efficient, as the body pumps blood to more vital areas of the body. When a muscle, or tendon, is not properly prepared for activity, even the slightest movement can cause an injury (e.g. hiking, raking leaves, trimming trees, etc.).

As a chiropractor, nearly every patient I see has some form of soft tissue injury. These injuries range from strained/pulled hamstrings, partially torn rotator cuffs, and compensatory muscle spasms secondary to an injury elsewhere in the body. Perhaps, one of the most common forms of soft tissue injury is what’s known as a “guarding effect.” When an individual injures themselves, the muscles surrounding the site of injury become very tense in an effort to “splint” the inflamed area. This splinting is intended to limit the individual’s range of motion, stabilizing the injured area and avoiding further pain provocation. The issue, here, is that as the patient adopts this new position they are required to make up that range of motion in another region of the body. A perfect example of this is someone who injures their neck. Rather than turning their head, say with driving, the person is forced to turn their entire upper body. This unnatural movement pattern can then create pain and discomfort in the shoulders, mid back, and other related areas. It is for this reason that all of our patients are given simple at home stretches/exercises to perform in conjugation with their in office treatment plans. Typically, the more compliant a person is with their “homework,” the faster and more favorably they will respond.

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While most people presenting to a chiropractic office are in pain, there are those individuals simply looking to live a healthier lifestyle. As the old adage goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Along these lines, one of the best ways to avoid injury is to maintain good muscle strength, control, and flexibility. The issue here is that many people aren’t quite sure of what exercises and stretches to perform.   While thousands of examples can be found online, in magazines, or learned from a gym buddy, not all advice is created equal (or easily explained). With all of the various forms of stretching out there (static, active, functional, ballistic, PIR, etc.), it can be a daunting task trying to figure out just what type of stretching is best for your specific needs.

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Professionally, I have found the combination of dynamic warm-ups and active stretching to be the most effective method of preparing for physical activity. This notion is further supported by recent research showing that traditional static stretches, when performed within an hour of physical activity, actually decreased muscle function and increased the likelihood of injury. A perfect example of static stretching is the old-reliable hamstring stretch in which an individual stands straight legged while trying to bend forward and touch their toes. The main issue here is that the muscles you are trying to stretch are required for pelvic stability while standing. As you bend forward, the posterior leg muscles are forced to undergo an eccentric contraction, where the muscles actually contract while being elongated (people who lift weights know this better as a “negative” exercise). This alone makes this stretch highly ineffective.

To learn a more effective hamstring stretch, for more information on dynamic warm-ups, or to schedule your Free Consultation today, call Full Function Chiropractic at (570) 601-4091.

 

Treating Carpal Tunnel Syndrome with Chiropractic Care

When people hear the term carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) they often think of hand pain, tingling and numbness, grip weakness, excessive typing, life-long injury, and surgery. Perhaps, CTS has gotten such a bad rap because it is one of the most expensive work related injuries over a lifetime, costing an individual nearly $30,000 in medical bills. Not only is the cost of treating CTS burdensome, its effect on an individual’s ability to perform day to day activities, and job productivity, can weigh heavily on one’s spirit.

While it is true that carpal tunnel syndrome can ultimately result in surgical intervention, it is important to exhaust all conservative treatments first. The first step in treating CTS is to confirm that it is in fact the appropriate diagnosis, and not some other injury or illness with similar symptoms. While mechanical CTS often results from trauma to the wrist, or repetitive stress activities, such as typing with poor ergonomics, working on an assembly line, cleaning, working with hand tools, and sewing/knitting, there are other conditions that mimic CTS, as well. These conditions include hypothyroidism, diabetes, inflammatory arthritis, over-activity of the pituitary gland, and swelling with pregnancy. If these conditions are suspected, simple laboratory and blood tests may be ordered.

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            While other advanced tests, such as a nerve-conduction velocity study, can be performed, your doctor of chiropractic can often diagnose CTS based on a thorough history and standard physical examination. While CTS can occur in almost anyone, it is three times more prevalent in women. Symptoms usually occur in the dominant hand first, and include burning, tingling, and numbness into the thumb, index, and middle fingers. Symptoms often originate at night, as most individuals tend to sleep with their wrist in a flexed position. This position compresses the median nerve, which originates from the lower neck, traverses down the arm, and enters through the carpal tunnel into the hand. As CTS progresses, grip strength may become reduced, the muscles at the base of thumb shrink, and pain may begin to radiate upward along the path of the nerve. It is because of this that your doctor of chiropractic will not only examine your hands/wrists, but your arms, shoulder, and neck as well.

            In the event that you are diagnosed with CTS, it is important to initiate treatment sooner rather than later. Your doctor of chiropractic will likely adjust and/or mobilize the joints of the wrist and hand, as well as the elbow, shoulder, or neck if found to be involved during examination. Typically, stretches and exercises will also be given to aid in removal of inflammation from the area. To assist in maintaining an open carpal tunnel at night, your doctor of chiropractic may also suggest wearing a cock-up splint. This splint will hold the wrist in 15 degrees of extension, the position in which the tunnel is most unobstructed.

Nutritionally, both vitamin B6 and magnesium have been shown to improve nerve function, and reduce symptoms associated with CTS. When dealing with any type of injury, it is also essential to apply ice to the involved area and increase water intake. Water will not only facilitate the removal of inflammation, but helps to maintain proper muscle tone.

Those looking to avoid carpal tunnel syndrome should consider performing on-the-job stretches and exercises, taking frequent breaks from repetitious activities, altering between varying tasks, and utilizing proper ergonomics (e.g. not resting your arm on the edge of the desk while using the mouse).

For more information on carpal tunnel syndrome, or to schedule your appointment today, call Full Function Chiropractic at (570) 748-2500. Remember, it is always important to consult with a health care professional before pursuing dietary/lifestyle modifications.

Pondering Posture

Ever since we were little our mothers have been telling us to sit tall, stand up straight, and quit slouching. When talking about posture, perhaps the old adage “mother knows best” rings true. Posture is the position in which we hold our bodies while sitting, standing, or lying down. “Good posture” is any position that places the least amount of stress/strain on the joints, muscles, and ligaments of the body. Typically, an individual will develop “poor posture” after years of repetitive movements, and positions, which cause our supporting muscles to become weak and tight.

One of the most common posture faults is a forward head carriage, where the head and chin jut outward from the body. This posture is often seen in individuals who spend an extended period of time at a computer or desk. According to Dr. Kapandji, author of “The Physiology of the Joints,” it is estimated that for every inch of forward head posture, the spine experiences an additional ten pounds of stress. Due to the result of altered biomechanics, an individual with forward head posture will also often exhibit rounded shoulders and a decreased ability to extend through the mid-to-upper back. As these issues compound, and compensations develop, the individual may develop scapular pain, shoulder pain, neck pain, and/or headaches.

Poor-Sitting-Posture

Another well documented side-effect of “poor posture” is that an individual’s vital lung capacity may be reduced by up to as much as 30%. This decrease in respiration is often attributed to the inhibition of the front neck muscles. As the head shifts forward the normal curve of the neck is often straightened, or lost. This change decreases the ability of the neck muscles to properly lift the upper ribs while inhaling. Without this lifting action, the lungs are unable to fully expand. These muscles are commonly known as accessory muscles, and are used primarily while exerting ourselves through physical labor, household chores, or sports. Due to this lack of lung capacity, we are often left depleted of oxygen and unable to efficiently produce energy for the body’s processes, including proper muscle contraction.

While the research on lower back pressure in different postures varies study to study, a widely cited study performed by Dr. Nachemson showed that pressure on the discs of the lumbar spine (lower back) increased as a person went from lying down, to standing, to sitting, to bending forward at the waist. With sitting eliciting nearly 40% more pressure on the lower back than standing, it is easy to understand why even today’s children experience spinal discomfort. With the increased use of technological devices, kids are spending more and more hours sitting behind a screen, and less and less hours actively “playing.” This new obsession with technology, coupled with hours of sitting in classrooms and doing homework, has created a great potential for posture related complaints. Typically as a person sits for extended periods they develop tight hip flexors and hamstrings, while the gluts and abdominals become weak and unused. As these muscles become weaker and weaker the body is unable to efficiently handle the stress of daily activities. This stress will inevitably present itself as pain and inflammation.

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The increase in modern technology has also contributed to an increased prevalence in carpal tunnel syndrome, headaches, “texting thumb,” and “text neck.” In fact, it is estimated that the average person sends 657 text messages per month, per phone. One tip to help avoid “text neck” is to raise your mobile device to eye level when sending or receiving texts. This will help you to avoid the rounded posture commonly seen today, and alleviate much of the strain placed on the neck and shoulders.

Simple Vanilla Coffee Creamer

Now a days it seems like everyone is debating what is, and is not, healthy.  Are eggs good or bad for you (good – they are a great source of bioavailable protein and nutrients), margarine or butter (butter – when made from organically grass-fed cattle it is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids and beneficial saturated fats; margarine on the other hand is chemically similar to certain plastics and was originally created to fatten up pigs), and should we drink coffee?  Fortunately, for us, grandmother’s old adage of “everything in moderation” has never been more appropriate.

Those opposed to drinking coffee often argue that, once metabolized, coffee becomes very acidic to our bodies.  This is true!  Our bodies are designed to maintain an average blood pH of 7.4.  When we consume foods that make our bodies more acidic (less than 7.4), our body is forced to compensate by pulling alkylating minerals from other tissues in the body.  This includes our bones, and it is this chronic balancing act that can lead to conditions such as osteoporosis (very few people are clinically calcium deficient).  Research also shows us that cancer cells thrive in an environment that is acidic (they also feed on sugar, which further promotes acidity in the body), and can often be reduced by eating foods that are alkaline in nature (such as fresh greens).

On the other hand, there is also a growing body of research that suggest drinking coffee can have a very positive impact on one’s health.  Not only has coffee historically been touted as a strong anti-oxidant, but has recently been proven to jump-start our metabolism when consumed prior to strenuous exercise.  When drank in moderation, the caffeine in coffee can also act as a headache suppressant.  The concern here is, that when consumed in large amounts, a person can often become addicted to caffeine.  This addiction can in turn lead to symptoms of withdraw, such as tremors and headaches.  So, as Grandmother and I said before, everything in moderation!

With that being said, it is important to point out a few points about drinking/brewing coffee:

  • Coffee is best when purchased as organic – with the coffee industry growing exponentially each year, it has become common practice to use more and more pesticides.
  • Coffee should be brewed from freshly ground whole beans –  just like any food or spice you purchase, the more processed it is by the time it reaches you the less healthy nutrients exist
  • If you are going to add sweeteners/flavorings to your coffee, try to limit the amount of sugar and artificial additives used (both of which are inflammatory to your system).  Below you will find a recipe for a vanilla creamer that is high on flavor, yet low in ingredients.

coffee

Vanilla Coffee Creamer

1 1/4 c. Almond Milk

1 T. Vanilla Extract

2 T. Local, Raw Honey (Provides anti-microbial benefits and aids digestion)

Combine all ingredients and blend until smooth.  Store in refrigerator for up to one week.

Peppermint Mocha Variation: Replace Vanilla Extract with 1-3 T. of Dark Cocoa Powder and 1 tsp. Peppermint Extract

Homemade Sauerkraut

With Saint Patrick’s Day comes leprechauns, four-leaf clovers, corned beef, and luckily for us, half priced cabbage.  While cabbage is delicious in all its forms, ranging from pigs in a blanket to coleslaw, none is healthier than the German staple sauerkraut.  When created traditionally, sauerkraut is just that, “sour” and stinky.  These unique characteristics remind us that sauerkraut is in fact created by letting cabbage rot, in a controlled fashion, until it is jam packed with beneficial lacto-bacteria.  These bacteria are more commonly known as probiotics.

Probiotics are the good bacteria in the stomach that have been shown to boost the immune system, decrease inflammation, and regulate hormone production (hence the stomach’s nickname “the second brain”).  In fact, poor gut flora has been linked to conditions such as fibromyalgia and clinical depression.  Unfortunately, most store brand sauerkraut is heated/processed to ensure long term storage, and consistent taste, destroying any of the living probiotics present.  Luckily (perhaps because we’re all a little Irish on Saint Patty’s), making sauerkraut at home can be an easy, affordable, and fun experience!

Sauerkraut

Basic Sauerkraut Recipe:

> 2 Heads of Cabbage, Medium to Large

> 6 Carrots

> 3 Inches of Ginger, Peeled and Chopped

> 6 Cloves of Garlic, Peeled and Chopped

1). Shred cabbage and carrots using food processor (reserve 3 or 4 leaves from each cabbage); combine with garlic and ginger

2). Place several cups of the mixture into a blender

3). Add filtered water and process until the solution resembles a thick juice (adjust water or vegetables as needed)

4). Pour juice back into remaining vegetable mixture and stir to incorporate

5). Place the mixture into large glass canning jars; using the handle of a wooden spoon, compress the mixture until only two inches of headspace remain

6). Roll up the reserved cabbage leaves into tight “logs” and place them on top of the mixture, filling the remaining two inch gap (this ensures the cabbage mixture below remains submerged in the juice at all times).

7). Close jar with traditional canning band/seal

8). Leave jars to sit, at room temperature, for 3-7 days.  Make sure to “burp” the jars periodically to avoid excess pressure build up (the seals will begin to bulge/swell upward).

9). Refrigerate and enjoy!

Note: Fermented foods typically have a shelf-life of nearly six months.  If you are concerned about spoilage, it is best to head on the side of caution, and discard the product accordingly.

Healthier (And Tastier) Potato Skins

With March Madness just around the corner, and game day snacks a must, it is important to have an option that tops the taste bracket but not the scale.  Rather than reach for the fried buffalo wings, mozzarella sticks, and bacon laden potato skins, try giving these twice baked sweet potatoes a “shot.”  Sweet potatoes, as is made apparent by their rich orange color, are packed full of beta carotene (the whole foods version of Vitamin-A).  Vitamin-A is typically touted for its ability to improve night vision, while simultaneously boosting the immune response (including against measles).  Top this with fiber rich black beans, and heart healthy guacamole (think omega-9 fats from avocados, lycopene from tomatoes, and anti-viral onions) and you’ve got yourself a game-day treat that can’t be beat!

Ingredients:

4 Large Sweet Potatoes

1 1/2 C. Black Beans, drained if using canned

1/2 C. Shredded Cheese, Mexican Blend

Guacamole:

1 1/2 Avocados

1-2 T. Lime Juice

1/4 C. diced Red Onion

1/4 C. chopped Cilantro

1 Medium Tomato, diced

1/2 to 1 Jalapeno, seeded & diced

Salt & Pepper, to taste

guac

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Prepare guacamole by mashing avocados with remaining ingredients; stir to incorporate.

 Bake sweet potatoes until fork tender; approximately 35 minutes.  Halve and remove pulp (reserve for later occasion).

Fill hollowed out sweet potato halves with beans, top with cheese, and place back into oven for 5 to 10 minutes until cheese is melted.

Top each “potato skin” with guacamole and a dollop of sour cream (optional).

ENJOY!!!

Shoulder Impingement

When people experience shoulder pain, whether acute or chronic, they often become fearful of the infamous rotator cuff tear.  While rotator cuff tears are a significant injury, and something to be concerned about, they make up only a small potion of all shoulder complaints.  More often than not, the person’s shoulder pain, and often resultant neck pain, can be contributed to what is known as Shoulder Impingement Syndrome.  As the name implies, the soft tissues of the shoulder often become impinged upon/compressed secondary to repetitive stress, muscle weakness, muscle tightness, and poor posture.  These soft tissues include muscle tendons, such as the biceps and supraspinatus (smallest, upper-most rotator cuff muscle), and the sub-acromial bursa ( a small sac of connective tissue/fluid that acts as a shock absorber for the shoulder/collar bone).  Over time, this repetitive impingement leads to inflammation of the tendons and bursa, resulting in tendinitis and bursitis, respectively.  Pain associated with impingement syndrome often develops gradually over a period of time, with the primary focus being towards the front and side of the shoulder joint.  If left untreated, the repetitive irritation may result in fraying and tearing of the underlying tendons (now we have our more serious rotator cuff tear).

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In a typical healthy shoulder the supraspinatus muscle is able to glide freely in an opening between the shoulder blade and collar bone, just beneath the AC-joint.  However, this space is often compromised and becomes more narrow with repetitive activities involving over head or inward movements of the shoulder and arm.  These activities may include, but are not limited to, swimming, throwing, painting, overhead sports, lifting, sleeping on your stomach, excessive computer use, and extended driving.  The shape of your collar bone, or the development of arthritic bone spurs, in specific locations, are also important factors in developing impingement syndrome.  While x-rays may be useful in identifying these risk factors, they are typically unnecessary in diagnosing impingement syndrome; your Doctor of Chiropractic can often make this diagnosis based on history and physical examination alone.

impingement

When treating impingement syndrome, or any musculoskeletal injury for that matter, it is important to exhaust all conservative options prior to moving forward with more invasive procedures.  As the shoulder becomes inflamed your body undergoes a compensation process, trying to avoid the pain, in which certain muscles become weak while others go into spasm.  This imbalance further creates aberrant motion of the shoulder joint, shoulder blade, mid-back, and neck.  The first goal of conservative care is to reduce the pain and inflammation, while simultaneously improving range of motion.  This can be accomplished in various methods, including chiropractic adjustments, soft tissue work (including myofascial release and instrument assisted soft tissue mobilization), nutritional support, and focused exercises and stretches.  The main focus of the stretches/exercises should be to avoid aggravating postures in which the shoulders and mid-back round forward, further restricting normal shoulder movements.

exercises

As a rule of thumb, the longer an injury takes to develop, the longer it takes for the injury to recover; this also holds true for the individual who simply ignores the pain in hopes that it will clear up on its own.  With this being said, while you cannot expect to fully recover in a matter of days, or weeks, you should see some signs of improvement (e.g. pain reduction, improved range of motion, no longer pain putting on jacket, etc.).  If symptoms persist, despite being treated, your Doctor of Chiropractic may consider referring you for an MRI (to assess for underlying tears), pain management (e.g. pain creams or corticosteroid injections), or to see an orthopedic surgeon.  More invasive forms of treatment, such as cortisone injections, should be reserved for cases that are non-responsive, or extremely painful.  While these injections are effective at reducing inflammation, they do not address the underlying dysfunction responsible for causing the impingement, and carry with them their own set of inherent risks.

Avoiding Snow Shovel Blues

With the winter months upon us, and Jack Frost here to stay, it is inevitable that snow removal is in our future. Everyday common tasks, recreational activities, and basic chores can pose a risk for even the most fit individual if he, or she, has not warmed up properly. Simply going out to shovel after being inactive in bed, on the couch, or using the computer, makes the body susceptible to muscle spasms, strains, sprains, and disc irritation (especially in the lower back).

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Just before it snows (or rains) you, or someone you know, may have experienced aches and pains in old injuries of the back, knees, shoulders, hands, etc. This sensation of pain is partially due to the fact that as the weather changes so too does the barometric pressure. Just like water, pressure often travels from areas of high concentration to areas of low concentration. As the pressure around us drops, the pressure in the fluid surrounding our joints attempts to push outward, creating the sensation of pain. This unique pain can be further aggravated (intensified) by simply going out into the cold weather without proper clothing. As a person becomes cold, the blood vessels in their arms and legs constrict to conserve heat for the vital organs (e.g. heart). This decrease in blood results in a decrease in oxygen to the muscles. Without proper amounts of oxygen the muscles become tight and spastic, increasing the likelihood of injury (think “pulled muscle”).

Along with dressing properly, it is essential that anyone working outside perform a thorough warm-up, including light aerobic activities and functional stretches. Light aerobic exercises can include walking, jogging, performing jumping-jacks, stationary biking, and using an elliptical. A functional exercise, also known as a dynamic exercise, is any movement that utilizes multiple muscles, and takes the muscles/underlying joints through their proper ranges of motion. Examples of dynamic exercises include air squats (without weights), lunges, and bringing your elbow towards the opposite knee while marching. Along with properly warming-up, there are various tips to keep in mind to help reduce the chance of injury with shoveling snow. These tips include:

  1. Be prepared – knowing it is going to snow will afford you ample time to wake-up, and shovel snow prior to work/school
  2. Wear multiple layers of clothing to keep your muscles warm and flexible
  3. When shoveling, it is very important to simply push the snow forward, rather than attempt to throw it.
  4. Avoid sudden twisting and turning movements
  5. As is the case when lifting anything, it is always best to lift with your legs rather than your back. Due to the length of the shovel, and the effects of physics, the perceived weight of the snow is much heavier than the actual weight of the snow being lifted
  6. Take frequent rest breaks to decrease the strain on your joints and muscles
  7. Always perform a series of active cool-down stretches following shoveling, or any other winter recreational activity

snow penguin

Orange is the New Green (Smoothie)!

For those of you looking for a little variety, in your smoothie quest for health, try this sweet and delicious (yet nutritious) sweet potato smoothie.  Sweet potatoes are an excellent source of vitamin-A (hence the orange color), providing nearly 400% of your daily recommended amount.  Sweet potatoes also contain low levels of important minerals, including magnesium, potassium, iron, and manganese.  Potatoes, in general, also provide small amounts of protein and fiber (roughly 2 g. and 3 g. respectively).  Fiber is essential for blood vessel and intestinal health, and provides the body with general inflammation support.  Although sweet potatoes are high in carbohydrates, many of them are complex in nature.  Complex carbs typically breakdown slower in the body, causing a more controlled release of sugar and insulin (essentially eliminating blood sugar spikes).

As stated in my previous blog post, Drink Your Way to a Healthier New Year, one of the best, and perhaps easiest, life-style changes a person can make is to begin incorporating healthy, live foods into their daily routine.  When thinking of a food as “living” or “dead,” there are two important aspects to consider; will it nourish my body and will it expire in a reasonable time period.  Unless food is preserved in a historical manner ( e.g. fermenting or canning), it should be unable to “survive” in your pantry for years at a time.  This extended shelf life, in most processed foods, can be attributed to chemical additives and preservatives that often promote inflammation and toxic overload in our bodies.  While these processed foods can be found in most meals throughout the day, a main offender is often breakfast and/or snacks.

My proposal, to you, is that rather than reach for a granola bar, bagel, donut, or sugary strudel, make yourself an Orange SmoothieThis smoothie is quick and easy to make, provides tons of essential vitamins (including Vitamin-C), minerals (Magnesium and Potassium), and fiber (to help remove “Bad” Cholesterol and leave you feeling fuller longer).  Best of all… KIDS LOVE IT!!!

Orange Smoothie Recipe

Sweet Potato Smoothies

1  1/2  Cooked & Peeled Sweet Potatoes

1 Banana (Preferably Frozen)

1 Madjool Date (Pitted)

1 C. Almond Milk

1 C. Water

Dash of Cinnamon

A Few Ice Cubs

Combine all ingredients in a blender and process until a smooth consistency is obtained.  Add additional liquid, as needed, if smoothie remains thick/unprocessed. Drink the smoothie within 20-30 minutes of blending to receive the most health benefits from your “living” food.

TIP:  It is always best to rinse the blender out immediately after use, to avoid stubborn stuck on pulp.