Do you need a Probiotic?

By writing a short paper for my Microbiology class on how nutrition and microbiology are correlated, I developed an interesting post! Read on for information about Probiotics!

Research is skewed on whether or not taking probiotics are actually beneficial. Research does however indicate that gut microflora is affected by many medications such as antibiotics, birth control pills, and corticosteroids. Gut microflora?!?! What is that? The gut contains microorganisms (bacteria) that aid in many biochemical functions in the body such as digestion, training the immune system and defending the body against some diseases/pathogens. Basically, you need the “good” bacteria to ward off the growth of “bad” bacteria!

The main reason supplementation of probitoics has not been thoroughly proven is because there are no set guidelines on how to measure the benefits of probiotics or how much is safe to take per day. Probiotics are also widely abundant in yogurt with “live and active cultures.” The main strains are Lactobacillus (acidophilus) and Saccoharmyces bouldardii (bifidobacteria). These are the strains that have been shown to help avoid infections, reduce yeast overgrowth in the gut, aid in digestion, and enhance immunity.

If you have ever taken medications such as antibiotics, birth control pills, or corticosteroids, especially long term, chances are your gut microflora may be unbalanced. If you are experiencing any type of digestive discomfort, you should speak with your doctor about trying probiotics first to see if they are safe for you.

IBS sufferers may greatly benefit from probiotics! It is all about finding what is safe and what works for you!

  1. Ezendam, J, & Loveren, H. (2006). Probiotics: immunomodulation and evaulation of safety and efficacy. Nutrition Reviews, 64(1), 1-14.
  2. Edwards, C. (2003). Interactions between nutrition and the intestinal microflora. Proceedings of the Nutrition Society, 52(1), 375-382.
  3. Turner, N. (2005). Probiotics or prebiotics. Alive: Canadian Journal of Health & Nutrition, (277), 50-51.

Carrot Cake…Carrot Cake Salad that is!

I love salad. All kinds! But not ones smothered in mayonnaise!

I especially love when a salad that taste like Carrot Cake. The traditional Carrot Salad is a simple mix of shredded carrots and raisins smothered in mayonnaise. That is taking something healthy and putting it in something not so healthy. The typical American Diet.

So what if you replaced the mayonnaise with yogurt and added a few more ingredients to make it tastes like Carrot Cake?

Now you are talking! This carrot salad is a wonderful concoction consisting of carrots, raisins, pineapple, walnuts, coconut, yogurt, and spices! It is great as a side dish or my favorite is to incorporate it into overnight oats (muesli) for breakfast! It is super healthy providing 100 hundred calories per serving, 4 grams of protein, about 3 grams of fiber, and 100% of your Vitamin A requirement for the day, which is necessary for cell growth, healthy vision, healthy hair, and healthy skin! And yes, it can make just about anyone like salad 🙂

Carrot Cake Salad

2 ½ cups of finely shredded carrots

1 6 oz plain Greek yogurt

1 ½  TBS of honey or maple syrup

¾ tsp of ground cinnamon

¼ tsp of ground nutmeg

1/3 cup of chopped and toasted walnuts, pecans, or almonds

1/3 cup crushed pineapple with juice

1/3 cup of raisins

¼ cup shredded coconut (optional)

Combine yogurt with spices and honey. Mix in all other ingredients. Refrigerate for at least 5 hours.

Now a salad you can enjoy that is delicious + healthy!

If you want to try it in overnight oats, soak 1/3 cup of raw certified gluten free oats in a 1/3 cup milk overnight. The next morning add 1/3 cup of yogurt, cinnamon, 1 tsp maple syrup, sprinkle of gluten free granola (for crunch), carrot cake salad and any other toppings you can think of! This is my all time FAVORITE breakfast!!!

Date Night

So my last weekend in South Georgia before I had to start back to school, my hubby and I had to go out on an adventure. We had been at home all weekend, him studying for a certification exam (something Cisco, he is a networking guy) and I had been packing and cleaning all weekend. I’m at Life University four days a week so I stay with family when I’m in school and then in our home in middle GA, 3 days a week. When I first started Life U, Will worked from home and lived with me as well. He had to move back to our home town over the summer because of work which I don’t mind because now I get to go and see my family more often!

Back to our adventure, Will had a Bass Pro gift card lying around from his birthday. He didn’t have quite enough for the boots he wanted so I made a deal with him that if he took me out to dinner I would pay the little extra for the boots! Hands shaken! So to Bass Pro and to my favorite BONEFISH GRILL we go!

He is like me in the mall at Bass Pro!

And guess where I had a free drink to?

You didn’t even have to guess did you? Tall nonfat iced 1-Pump Pumpkin Spice Latte! Wish I would have gotten a hot drink because it was freezing at Bass Pro!

As far as Gluten Free options go, Bonefish is amazing! They have a selection of wood fired grilled seafood such as: shrimp, scallops, salmon, white sea bass, grouper, lobster, etc with a choice of four different sauces: mango salsa, chimichurri, lemon butter, and pan Asian (not gluten free). They also have a separate gluten free menu so be sure to ask for it if you need it. As far as desserts go: gluten free heaven! A flourless brownie with raspberry sauce, macadamias, and ice cream or cream brulee!

I ordered the appetizer of saucy shrimp: lime tomato garlic sauce, Kalmata olives , and Feta cheese as my meal along with an order of steamed veggies. Delicious! Will got their ever famous Bang Bang Shrimp: fried and tossed in a creamy, spicy sauce along with a Caesar salad. Appetizers are plenty enough food for us without having to order a full meal and helps save the $$$. We didn’t even finish what we had.

We skipped dessert tonight in favor of stopping for….ICE CREAM!

Living in the country now, we don’t get out much anymore because trips to nice stores and restaurants are 30 + miles. T’was a great date night!

Nutrition for Healthy Hair

This is an excerpt from an article I did about a year ago for Vital Source, Life University’s on campus newspaper. I thought a lot of you may enjoy!

Nourishing the hair with a healthy diet:

  1. Protein: The hair is made of a particular type of protein known as keratin. Consuming adequate protein is necessary for growth and strength. The best high protein sources include but are not limited to eggs, fish, poultry, lean cuts of beef, and low fat dairy.
  2. Biotin: The body needs biotin to for a healthy scalp and growth. Deficiencies in Biotin are actually rare so contrary to popular belief supplementation is not necessary. Great sources include eggs, peanut butter, almonds, walnuts, wild salmon, and avocado.
  3. Other B Vitamins: These are all important for red blood cell production which carries oxygen to the scalp promoting hair growth. Sources include fortified cereals, garbanzo beans, wild salmon, tuna, eggs, cheese, and oatmeal.
  4. Vitamin C: Vitamin C is necessary for the absorption of iron which also delivers oxygen with red blood cells to hair follicles for proper growth. Vitamin C is abundant in bell peppers, kiwis, strawberries, oranges, and broccoli.
  5. Beta carotene: Beta Carotene is converted to Vitamin A in the body, which is necessary for all the stages of cellular life giving the hair body and shine. Sources include sweet potatoes, carrots, pumpkin, apricots, and red bell peppers.  
  6.  Zinc: This mineral gives stability to the oil glands of the scalp allowing for proper growth and prevents dry scalp which can lead to dandruff. Great sources of this mineral include crab, pork tenderloin, peanut butter, wheat germ, pumpkin seeds, and pine nuts.
  7. Omega 3 fatty acids: Omega 3 is excellent for adding moisture to the hair follicles allowing the hair to grow with that beautiful luster! Sources include salmon, walnuts, ground flaxseed, mackerel, and sardines.

 

Shampoo Basics

  1. Always choose shampoos free of harsh chemicals such as sulfates. Sulfates have a poignant drying effect that can lead to breakage, lack of shine and even hair loss! Sulfate free brands include Burt’s Bees, Alba, Organix, and L’Oreal Ever pure.
  2. Do not wash your hair everyday. I know this is very hard for many people who have naturally oily hair or who get sweaty working out. Washing the hair every day leads to dry, dull, lifeless hair because it strips the hair of its natural oils. The follicles do not have enough time in twenty fours hours to secrete proper amounts of oil for healthy hair growth. Experiment with up dos that can be sporty or even elegant.
  3. A great way to avoid washing your hair is using a dry shampoo. These can be purchased or home made, which is a plus because it is cheap and natural! Mix equal amounts of baking soda and cornstarch. Dip a comb in, tap, and brush around roots or dry hair to stop that “greasy” look. Repeat as necessary. Use a dryer to blow away excess powder. Style as usual.

 

Conditioning Treatments

  1. Treating the hair to a nice conditioning treatment once a week is essential for adding much needed moisture for shine and softness. Try using an all natural deep conditioner such as Burt’s Bees. Shampoo hair as usual and apply conditioner. Allow to sit at least ten to twenty minutes. Depending on how dry your hair may be, you can leave it on even longer! If you have oily hair, focus on applying the conditioner to the ends.
  2. For a nice homemade conditioning treatment apply a mashed avocado to clean wet hair and follow directions above. Another great home made conditioner is applying a mashed banana mixed with plain yogurt to clean wet hair. Allow to sit as above. 

 

Boosting Shine

  1. Always use only slightly warm water on hair because the hotter the water is, the more it can dry out your hair by removing moisture. A quick shine booster is to simply rinse hair with cold water after you have conditioned it.
  2. Tea treatments are excellent for shine. Use cooled brewed tea the matches your hair color such as chamomile tea for blonde, rooibos tea for red hair, and black tea for brunettes. Apply to wet hair, allow to soak for approximately ten minutes, shampoo out, and condition.
  3. For a home made hot oil shine treatment apply warmed (but not HOT) olive oil, avocado oil, or any other carrier oil to wet hair. Allow to sit for about two minutes, shampoo out and condition.

 

Hopefully these tips will get you well own your way to having not only beautiful but healthy hair as well. You do not have to spend large amounts of money on hair products to attain the hair you want. Eating a healthy diet and following healthy practices with shampooing and conditioning can greatly improve those locks!

1) Bauer, J. (2007). Food cures. New York: Rodale Inc..

I don’t like Gyms….

I like to exercise but I have never been nor will ever be a gym person. I just can’t do it. Granted I will attend fitness classes like Zumba, pilates, and yoga but only with a friend: Thanks for always accompanying me Julie!

I don’t like to enter public places where people might be watching me fall off the treadmill. I’m basically illiterate when it comes to operating gym equipment. I’ll just stick to the dumbbells, thank you. Maybe it is a bit of social anxiety but I just feel like I’m going to do something wrong….

Is this an excuse not to work out? Of course….NOT! So what do I do? Exercise DVD’s! Jillian Michaels and my all time favorite Denise Austin! I also like to walk/jog when the weather is nice and I can talk my husband into going with me: Usually not. Hiking is always great too when we are vacationing in the mountains, such as my favorite 8 mile round trip at the Ramsay Cascades in Gatlinburg, TN. Even though it started pouring rain, thundering, and lightning when we reached the waterfall, 3.5 hours from any type of shelter! We had to hang under a tree (smart right?) and then run for it.

Safely returned:

So back to the DVDs, I have quite a collection and continue to buy new ones to stop myself from getting bored. I need direction you know. Like my own personal trainer on TV telling me exactly what to do. Perfect. Even though I know I’m missing out on staring at the wall for 30 minutes on a treadmill. Yeah, really missing out.

My favorites are Jillian’s Black Pack, 30 Day Shred, banish fat boost metabolism, no more trouble zones, and her new YOGA meltdown! That’s right Jillian did a yoga DVD and quite a good one if you ask me. All of her DVD’s make me feellike I have done a good workout and usually sore the next day. Speaking of, has anyone tried her new SHRED IT WITH WEIGHTS?

Equipment….well I don’t need much….

Area (with some rearranging of course- rugs under the couch and coffee table on the couch)

I like to work-out about 4 to 5 times per week for approximately 30 minutes first thing in the morning while also trying to make some of the rest of my day active: cleaning, walking to classes (lots of stairs), etc. Since Jillian’s workouts sometimes leave me sore, I alternate with Denise’s DVDs. My favorites are her Boot Camps, personal training system, cardio blast, and power zone. Her workouts are all about 20 to 30 minutes and are surely enough to get your heart rate up. She has multiple cardio based and strength based workouts as well. Think about how long she has been a fitness instructor? She knows her stuff!

What I want everyone to know is that everyone can have fun working out. You don’t have to go to a gym, do a DVD, or run a marathon if that is not your style. Just find what you like to do and do it! Make exercise a priority along with eating healthy and you are sure to be happier! I always feel at optimal functioning level if such a thing does exist when I get a work out in first thing in the morning a few days a week. Nothing can happen later in the day to keep me from working out and I have so much more energy!

So find something you like and quite simply just stick to it!

Gluten Free Iced Pumpkin Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

 

That’s a long name right! I was in the mood for baking last Wednesday but also going over to my parents house to hang out with my mom and my nephew Caleb before it was time to head back to the big city for school. This girl would much rather spend her time relaxing in the country of South Georgia but Life University in Marietta is calling my name to FINISH my dietetics degree!

It was also my sister Lara’s birthday and she loves oatmeal cookies. Wouldn’t it be great to deliver her cookies to work on her birthday?!?! But I also had a lot of pumpkin leftover in the fridge from making Pumpkin Muffins….Hmmm….Pumpkin and cookies….Combine!

So this cutie pie, my nephew Caleb, was very willing to help me out as well. Well not really…But he did like banging on the pots and pans as my mom and I worked saying I want a coo coo! He didn’t like them. He ate sugar wafers instead. Seriously….

Everyone else loved them! Especially me…..I know you are dying to make them so let’s start with what you will need

Cream butter and sugar. Add egg, pumpkin, and vanilla (detailed recipe below)

Mix flour, spices, certified gluten free oats, baking soda, and then add raisins + nuts

Add dry ingredients to wet and mix!

Now drop by rounded tablespoon onto cookie sheet and bake away…

Next drizzle icing over your cookies (recipe follows as well)

Then enjoy a balanced afternoon snack…

What?!?!? I had an apple! Ok, ok, peanut butter would have been a better choice than the cookies but hey sometimes you just need a cookie! The key is portion control 🙂

Gluten Free Iced Pumpkin Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

1 cup gluten free white rice flour (or regular all-purpose if not on GF diet)

3/4 cup certified gluten free oats (or regular in not on GF diet)

1/2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

3/4 stick of unsalted butter (6 Tablespoons)

3/4 cup packed brown sugar

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup canned pure pumpkin

1 egg

1 tsp of vanilla

1 cup of mix ins (I chose 1/2 cup of walnuts and 1/2 cup of raisins. Anything will work: chocolate chips, any nuts, dried cranberries, dates, etc.)

Preheat oven to 350 F and coat a baking sheet with nonstick spray.

Cream butter and sugar with an electric mixer. Add egg and combine. Stir in pumpkin and vanilla.

Mix flour with oats, baking soda, and spices. Add walnuts and raisins or mix ins of choice.

Add dry ingredients to wet and mix well.

Drop by rounded tablespoon full onto cookie sheet. Bake for approximately 10 minutes or until golden brown. (I never time cookies, I just watch them!) Then let cool and ICE!

Sugar Icing

1 cup of powdered sugar

1 1/2 Tablespoons of milk

1/2 Tablespoon of melted butter

1/2 tsp of vanilla

Mix all ingredients well until drizzling consistency. If to thick add more milk. If to thin add more powdered sugar. DRIZZLE AWAY!

You can enjoy them while reading my friend Julie’s blog and checking out my post on Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease.

How to save calories at Starbucks???

Oh yes even people in Nassau, Bahamas love their Starbucks! Ok maybe it is just there for the tourists…

So my friends and family know that I openly admit to being addicted to Starbucks!

 But wait Ashley, how do you drink so many lattes and not gain weight? I know, I know: How do I do this when they have white chocolate mochas totaling to 370 calories for a tall and tall sized frappucchino’s for 400 calories?

Here are just a few of my favorite tips:

  • Ask for non-fat milk, simple enough right?
  • Never order anything above a Grande unless you know you have the calories to spare. But really a Venti? Do you need that much milk (calorie wise) at once ? Hot Grandes and Ventis both only get 2 shots anyway….(thanks Jen)
  • Try to limit yourself to only 4 times per week-make coffee or espresso at home. Yes I have a hard time sticking to this rule. Some weeks I do, some I don’t!
  • Always skip the whip
  • When ordering a Pumpkin Spice latte or any other flavored latte
    • A tall gets 3 pumps of syrup, ask for 1
    • A grande gets 4 pumps of syrup, ask for 1 or 2
    • A venti gets 5 pumps of syrup, ask for 3 but this is really too much as we have already discussed!
      • How do I order this????
  • Grande non-fat 2 pump Caramel Latte or Tall non-fat 1 pump Toffee nut latte!
  • Different syrups have different amounts of calories
    • Most flavored syrups: 20 calories per pump
    • Mocha: 25 per pump
    • Pumpkin Spice: about 38 per pump
    • White Mocha: about 60 per pump! Avoid this syrup!
  • So if you ordered a Grande Non-fat Caramel Latte, the total calorie count is 200! That is 80 calories of added sugar (4 pumps). But when you only get 1 or 2 pumps of caramel syrup that is 140 to 160 calories. So yes you are only saving 40 to 60 calories. But if you do this consistently, it adds up!    
  • Compare a Regular Tall Pumpkin Spice Latte made with 2% and whip: 300 calories!
  • A Non-fat, 1 pump Pumpkin Spice Latte with no whip: about 130 calories
  • If you ordered this beverage everyday of the week:
    • Regular: 2100 calories total
    • “Light Version”: 910 calories total
    • That’s 1190 calories saved for a whole week! Hello that’s 2, even 3 meals for some people!

  • Some drinks come with whip some don’t. You do not have to say no whip to drinks that don’t come with it but to be sure they don’t add it you can go ahead and say it. But for reference here is a list of drinks that come with whip: mocha, white mocha, pumpkin spice, cinnamon dolce  
  • What about sugar free syrups? If you can stand the after taste, be my guest. I would rather have a little of the real thing.
  • Caramel Macchiatos! I know this drink is confusing. Macchiatos get one less pump of vanilla syrup on the inside because they have caramel sauce added up top. But I don’t think a Grande needs 3 pumps of vanilla syrup and caramel sauce. My favorite drink: Grande non-fat 1-pump vanilla caramel macchiato. Yes I’m complicated; they hate to see me coming. But my waistline loves me.
  • Frappucchino’s: well now you can customize these to be made with non-fat milk, ask for no whip, and cut down on the syrup pumps if you are getting anything other than a plain coffee frappucchino. The base they use to make these drinks still has lots of sugar so there really is no way around that. Your best bet is to stick with hot or iced lattes.
  • Another thing is to not consider a latte a side beverage. Consider it a snack or part of a meal to tally into your total intake for the day as it contains useful (energy) calories from the milk. The sugar if added will be discretionary (empty) calories.

If you are used to drinking the drinks like they come then yes a lot of this will be a major adjustment! But once you cut down on sugar for a long period of time you will get used to it. You will make a face just like you just tasted something sour when you taste something overly sweet. There is no need to drink your calories when there is all that food out there just waiting to be eaten! Ha ha, just kidding! But for the most part, if you are trying to lose weight or not gain weight, chewing is more satisfying. Be smart about your beverages. There is nothing wrong with a skim latte with a little bit of sugar in your diet. You will get protein, calcium, and carbohydrates from the milk plus energy with the caffeine.

Good luck on customizing your Starbucks order! I know you can do it!

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