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carol@inkwellcoaching.com

Crown Point, IN

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June 13, 2024

Refreshing Drink Recipes to Beat the Heat

As the summer sun reaches its peak, staying hydrated is more important than ever. But who says hydration has to be boring? Here are some simple recipe

June 6, 2024

Fun and Healthy Summer Snacks

Summer is the perfect time to enjoy fresh, light, and delicious snacks that not only keep you cool but also pack a nutritional punch. Here are some fu

May 30, 2024

The Surprising Link Between Texting and Better Eating

Ever notice how you just feel a little lighter after a laugh with friends, or a heartfelt conversation with a loved one? These kinds of positive socia

May 22, 2024

Uncovering the Hidden Sweetness in Everyday Foods

(The following article was written for the December 2020 issue of Get Healthy magazine, a publication of The Northwest Indiana Times. I’m sharin

May 16, 2024

Mastering the Art of Cleaning Produce

Last week I promised that I’d offer some various ways to effectively clean your produce. Before preparing fruits and vegetables, wash your hands wel

May 9, 2024

Navigating Pesticides in Produce

To buy organic or conventional produce? That is the question of the day. Organic produce, by definition, is grown without synthetic pesticides, synthe

May 2, 2024

Diverse Protein Sources for a Healthier You

Last week I covered the topic of how much protein we need in a day and dispelled the idea that protein causes kidney damage. In case you missed it, he

April 25, 2024

Is Too Much Protein Dangerous?

Twenty-five years ago, there was plenty of skepticism about protein. After all, bodybuilders ate lots of it—and they experimented with all kinds of

April 18, 2024

The #1 Nutrition Principle

“Red wine is better than white wine!” “Kale is better than spinach!” “GRAINS ARE EVIL!!” Ever feel like good nutrition is just too complic

April 11, 2024

Angelos Update and Green Thumb Time

If you’ve been following my blog for a few years, you may recall my weekly posts that were written comparing the size of my friend’s baby in utero

Mastering the Art of Cleaning Produce

Last week I promised that I’d offer some various ways to effectively clean your produce.

Before preparing fruits and vegetables, wash your hands well with soap and water.

Clean counter tops, cutting boards, and utensils with hot soapy water before peeling or cutting produce.

Whether you choose organic or conventional, the simplest and often most effective method is to rinse your produce under cold running tap water. This helps remove visible dirt and reduces the amount of chemicals and germs.

For produce with thicker skins, use a soft brush to scrub the surface as you rinse it, even if you plan to remove the peel. Bacteria from the outside of raw produce, such as lemons, avocados and melons, can be transferred to the inside when being cut or peeled.

Soaking and swirling items like broccoli or leafy greens in cold water for a few minutes can help remove any remaining dirt and residue—like tiny bugs. If you feel you need more, you can prepare a solution of vinegar and water (usually a 1:3 ratio of vinegar to water). Soak greens in the solution for a few minutes, then rinse thoroughly with clean water. Vinegar may help to kill bacteria and remove more pesticides.

After washing, dry produce with a clean cloth towel or paper towel to further minimize any bacteria that might be present.

Remove and discard the outermost leaves of cabbage or head lettuce.

Clean mushrooms with a soft brush or wipe with a wet paper towel to remove dirt.

Rinse herbs by dipping and swishing in a bowl of cool water and dry with paper towels.

Bagged produce that is pre-washed and ready to eat should not be rewashed. Your chances of contaminating it from multiple spots in your kitchen is a greater risk.

Do not wash produce with detergents or diluted bleach solutions, as these should not be ingested. Residue that may linger from commercial produce washes are not tested for safety if ingested and are not recommended. The FDA has mentioned that tap water is generally just as effective as commercial products, if not more so. 

Washing produce before storing may promote bacterial growth and speed up spoilage, so it is often recommended to wait and wash fruits and vegetables just before use.

There you have it. Now all you have to do is eat more fruits and veggies.

Much love,
Health Coach Carol

 “Life expectancy would grow by leaps and bounds if green vegetables smelled as good as bacon.”—Doug Larson

Navigating Pesticides in Produce

To buy organic or conventional produce? That is the question of the day.

Organic produce, by definition, is grown without synthetic pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, or genetically modified organisms. Organic farming practices also promote ecological balance and aim to conserve biodiversity.

The debate over whether organic produce is healthier than conventional produce is ongoing. Proponents of organic produce argue that it contains fewer pesticide residues and might have higher levels of certain nutrients.

Scientific studies have been mixed, with some showing minor to moderate increases in certain nutrients in organic produce, while others find no significant differences.

In terms of safety, both organic and conventionally grown produce are generally considered safe to eat, as long as they are properly washed. (More on various ways to wash produce in next week’s blog.)

The pesticide levels on conventional produce are typically below the safety thresholds set by regulatory agencies.

So where does that leave us?

Those particularly concerned about pesticides—such as pregnant women, children, and people with compromised immune systemsmight choose organic produce as a precautionary measure.

I’m in favor of eating a wide variety of fruits and vegetables. Fresh, frozen, organic, conventional—you choose.

Since I’m not quite sure who to believe these days, I try to buy organic when it comes to the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) Dirty Dozen.

The 2024 Dirty Dozen list from the EWG includes fruits and vegetables that they found to have the highest levels of pesticide residues.

  1. Strawberries
  2. Spinach
  3. Kale, collard, and mustard greens
  4. Grapes
  5. Peaches
  6. Pears
  7. Nectarines
  8. Apples
  9. Bell and hot peppers
  10. Cherries
  11. Blueberries
  12. Green beans

Do what is best for you and your family. Please don’t avoid eating produce because it’s on a list. The benefits of eating more produce far outweigh any possible risks. 

 I’ve planted my vegetable garden and will post a photo when I have something to show for my efforts. Hopefully I’ll have my own organic green beans and bell peppers. We’ll see…

Much love,
Health Coach Carol

“God made rainy days so gardeners could get the housework done.” —Anonymous

Diverse Protein Sources for a Healthier You

Last week I covered the topic of how much protein we need in a day and dispelled the idea that protein causes kidney damage. In case you missed it, here’s a link to that blog post:

Is Too Much Protein Dangerous?

Why is protein important and what are the various sources of this necessary macronutrient?

Protein serves as the building block for the human body. It is vital for the repair and growth of tissues, the production of enzymes and hormones, and maintaining muscle mass.

Proteins are made up of amino acids, some of which are essential because the body cannot produce them on its own. Thus, including various protein sources in your diet is not just beneficial but necessary for overall health.

Adequate protein intake helps in muscle repair and growth, especially important for those engaged in regular physical activities. Furthermore, protein plays a crucial role in weight management by promoting satiety and reducing overall calorie intake. 

Animal-Based Protein Sources

  • Eggs: Often referred to as a “complete protein,” eggs contain all nine essential amino acids. They are also one of the most versatile food items in the culinary world, easily incorporated into various meals.
  • Dairy Products: Greek yogurt and cottage cheese are excellent dairy-based protein sources. They are also rich in calcium and probiotics (cottage cheese brands that state “live cultures”), which aid in digestive health.
  • Meat and Poultry: Lean meats like chicken, turkey, and lean cuts of beef and pork (NOT hot dogs, bacon, sausage– you get the idea), are excellent sources of high-quality protein. They are also rich in important minerals like iron and zinc.
  • Fish: Oily fish such as salmon and tuna are not only good protein sources but also provide omega-3 fatty acids, which are beneficial for heart health. Choose wild-caught varieties. 

Plant-Based Protein Sources

  • Legumes: Beans, lentils, and chickpeas are not only high in protein but also fiber, which helps in digestion and prolonged satiety.
  • Nuts and Seeds: Walnuts, chia seeds, and flaxseeds are not only protein-rich but also contain healthy fats and fibers, making them an ideal snack for sustained energy release.
  • Whole Grains: Grains like quinoa, oats, and barley provide a significant amount of protein and are also excellent sources of fiber and other nutrients.
  • Soy Products: Minimally processed soy foods like tofu, tempeh, and edamame are staple protein sources in vegetarian and vegan diets. They are adaptable in various recipes, from stir-fries to salads.

Protein-Packed Breakfast Ideas

  • Smoothies: Protein smoothies made with Greek yogurt or a plant-based protein powder.
  • Omelets: Vegetable-stuffed omelets with a sprinkle of cheese or tofu.
  • Overnight Oats: Prepare them with chia seeds and nuts for added protein.

Protein-Enhanced Snacks

  • Homemade Trail Mix: Combine nuts, seeds, and a bit of dark chocolate.
  • Hummus and Veggies: Pair homemade or store-bought hummus with crunchy vegetables.
  • Protein Bars: Make your own protein bars using nuts, protein powder and oats. 

Whether through animal or plant sources, ensuring diverse and adequate protein intake can lead to a healthier life. It’s not just about quantity but also the quality and variety of protein that contributes to a balanced and nutritious diet.

Many of you have asked if it’s okay to pass along these blog posts to friends and family. By all means, YES! My intent is to share the best and most current information I can find with as many of you as possible.

Thanks for reading and sharing.

Much love,
Health Coach Carol

“I think proteins are really good for your brain. And your brain is where comedy comes from.” — Carrie Brownstein

Is Too Much Protein Dangerous?

Twenty-five years ago, there was plenty of skepticism about protein.

After all, bodybuilders ate lots of it—and they experimented with all kinds of “questionable” things.

Plus, the late 1990s ushered in the rise of high-protein diets for weight loss—an approach many health experts then labeled as “unsafe.”

Over the years, much of the handwringing about protein has faded. (And some of those same experts now advise people to “eat more protein.”)

But one claim just won’t seem to die: “Protein is bad for your kidneys.”   

Spoiler: It’s a myth.

Here’s why: The concern about high protein and kidneys began because doctors tell people with poorly functioning kidneys—usually from pre-existing kidney disease—to eat a low-protein diet.

But…

There’s a big difference between avoiding protein because your kidneys are already damaged versus protein actively damaging healthy kidneys.

It’s the difference between jogging with a broken leg and jogging with a perfectly healthy leg.

Jogging with a broken leg is a bad idea.

Doctors would probably tell you not to do that. But does jogging cause legs to break? No.

Same with protein and kidneys.

Eating more protein does increase how much your kidneys must work, just like jogging increases how much your legs must work.

But protein hasn’t been shown to cause kidney damage—again, just like jogging isn’t going to suddenly snap your leg like a breadstick.

How Much Protein Do You REALLY Need?

For the average person eating a standard diet, protein deficiency isn’t a concern.

However, “not deficient” doesn’t mean optimal.

It just means getting enough protein to maintain function and prevent malnutrition.

👉🏽For sedentary, generally healthy adults, about 0.4 g per pound is enough to cover basic daily requirements. (That’s about 60 grams for a 150-pound person.)

But because protein is involved in so many essential processes, protein needs can go up if you’re:

🏋🏻‍♀️Training hard frequently or have a heavy physical job
🤒Injured, sick, or recovering from surgery
👴🏻Older (because protein digestion tends to reduce with age, so you need more to meet requirements)
💪🏽Trying to lose body fat but still maintain muscle (or you’re trying to maximize muscle)

If you fall into these groups, research shows you want to shoot for around 0.7-1.0 g per pound. (That’s about 105-150 grams for a 150-pound person.)

That’s a bit complicated. So…

Don’t worry about the numbers.

Instead, just shoot for 1-2 palm-sized portions of protein at each meal. Typically, 1 palm-sized portion for women, 2 palm-sized portions for men.

One palm-sized portion has about 20-30 grams of protein.  An open human hand with a light skin tone, shown palm up next to a grilled chicken breast approximately the same size. The background is plain to emphasize the comparison between the hand and the chicken piece, focusing on the size. The image should be realistic, with a clear view of the hand and chicken on a neutral colored surface.

Of course, if you’re not even close to that now, you’ll probably find it difficult to get there overnight.

So, start from wherever you are, and try to eat just a little bit more.

For example, if you only have 1 palm-sized portion of protein a day, try to have 2.

Or if, like many people, you typically get most of your protein at dinner, can you focus on adding a palm to your breakfast and/or lunch?

Try it for 2 weeks, and if it’s working for you—that is, you enjoy it, you’re moving you closer to your goals, and it’s not disrupting your life—build on your success.

That’s how you make lasting progress.

If reaching your goals continues to be a struggle, we need to talk. Email me today to set up a time to discover the plan that will work best for you!

Much love,
Health Coach Carol

“Calories from protein affect your brain, your appetite control center, so you are more satiated and satisfied.”—Mark Hyman