Grain-free No Bake Chocolate Chip Protein Bars

Grain-free No Bake Chocolate Chip Protein Bars

As I go deeper into learning about nutrition and food, while in school to become a Nutritional Therapist, at times feeding my husband reminds me a lot of what my friends who are mothers, go through with their children. Don’t get me wrong, my husband is no man-child, he can take care of himself, he’ll cook when I am not around, he eats his veggies and he can grill like it’s no one’s business – clearly my hubby is > a toddler. But, the man loves his sweets. If he had it his way he would eat a doughnut or a slice of cake for breakfast every single day, he will however on the average day simply settle for toast with jelly or a bowl of cereal.  Of course, no matter what is selected this would all be accompanied by the largest cup of coffee. Ever. Sigh.

Recently I have been working with him not to change his diet in some drastic way, I don’t need him resenting me and my schooling, but more to understand how starting his day in this manner definitely contributes to, if not exclusively causes, those mid-day crashes he was constantly struggling with and not only that, how it also leads to additional cravings and the need and urge for more sugar and carbs to be satiated. The vicious, never-ending, sugar-burning cycle.

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Digestion 101 // Part 4: The Small Intestine




Digestion 101: A North to South Process

As we continue more south in digestion, after first the brain and the mouth, then the stomach we move from the first part of the small intestines, the duodenum and it’s interaction with the accessory organs, the pancreas, liver and gallbladder and into the function of the small intestine.

After we leave the duodenum, the small intestine is less about the actual process of digestion, from a sense of breaking down the food we eat and it is more about the assimilation and absorption of nutrients.

The first part of the small intestines, the duodenum, acts more as a part of the stomach than the small intestine and the jejunum, ileum and villi are responsible for assimilation.

See Part One: The Brain and The Mouth

See Part Two: The Stomach

See Part Three: The Accessory Organs: Pancreas, Gallbladder and Liver

Digestion 101 // Part 4: The Small Intestine
How it Should Work

The small intestines have a dual role as an organ and a gland.

As we talked about in the previous post, The Accessory Organs – The Pancreas, Gallbladder and Liver, the small intestine releases mucous to keep things moving and it also releases two hormones: secretin and cholecystokinin.

Secretin stimulates the pancreas to release bicarbonate to lower the pH of the chyme and pancreatic juice. The CCK stimulates the gallbladder to release bile (to read more about these processes please see post #3).

By the time that the chyme has left the duodenum, thanks to the processes of the accessory organs, the chyme should be almost entirely digested.

  • The carbohydrates have been broken down into glucose molecules
  • Proteins are broken down into amino acids and polypeptides
  • Fats are broke down into fatty acids and glycerol molecules

Peristalsis, a series of wave-like muscle contractions moves these absorbable molecules into the jejunum and the ileum, the middle and end parts of the intestine.

Within the small intestines, we have millions of villi, tiny finger-like projections that protrude from the epithelial lining of the small intestines. These villi and their microvilli absorb the nutrient molecules directly into the bloodstream, where they are carried throughout the entire body.

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Greek Lamb Gyro Bowls with Tzatziki

by Beth @ Tasty Yummies

Greek Lamb Gyro Bowls with Tzatziki

Greek Lamb Gyro Bowls with Tzatziki

Being away from my family living in California, it has gotten a bit easier with time and there are less and less tears over random moments, holidays, but one of the things I miss most is Sunday dinner as one a big family.

I grew up eating delicious home cooked Greek food. My family, they know their way around the kitchen. Everyone has their specialties and their things. My mom is an incredible baker, while not Greek herself she has mastered Greek desserts and pastries, baklava, koulourakia cookies. My dad is the king of savory, the grill master, the Greek God of souvlaki, marinated grilled leg of lamb, roasted potatoes among many other specialties. Sadly while my dad makes THE best lamb you’ll ever eat, neither he nor anyone else in our family has ever mastered homemade gyro. Whenever my parents serve up gyro, which isn’t super often, it usually comes already prepared and frozen. Meh. It makes me sad that we aren’t making it ourselves. Also sadly, these pre-made gyro meats tend to be very processed and they almost always contains gluten, so naturally I won’t touch them. Short of going to a more traditional shop, cart or restaurant, where they cook the meat traditionally over a spinning spit or rotisserie – it’s impossible to get the real thing, I haven’t had it in many, many years.

Traditional Greek gyro, from what I have read, is made with whole cuts of pork, slowly cooked rotisserie style, and thinly shaved, while Americanized Greek gyro is the pressed, almost sausage-like, thinly sliced minced beef and/or lamb blend. Usually served in a pita, wrap style it is a meal that I never get to eat, yet I still find myself craving it.

Greek Lamb Gyro Bowls with Tzatziki

I am home in New York right now, with my family, visiting and meeting my brand new nephew Keaton James, born just three weeks ago. As I was preparing for this trip home to Buffalo, I got giddy at the thought of all the homemade Greek food I would be eating. Greek food is my comfort, it’s what I crave at the holidays, when I am homesick or when I come down with a bug. Greek food from a restaurant is just never the same and somehow making a big feast of Greek food at home, just the two of us, while I do it occasionally, it just never tastes the same to me. This is the food best served with a large group of the people you love most. A big Greek feast needs to come with a side of very loud chatter, tons of laughs, stories from back in the day and it needs kids running around the very same living room that my dad ran around as a little kid.

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Tutorial Tuesdays // Tasty Yummies How-to Make Beet Kvass // A Cleansing Medicinal Tonic

How-to Make Beet Kvass // A Cleansing Medicinal Tonic

How-to Make Beet Kvass // A Cleansing Medicinal Tonic

Part of my journey towards healing my body has been transitioning myself from the standard approach to food consumption that we have all grown up with, eating whatever is served to you or whatever was around and seems right or easy – to instead being able to fully tap into my innate sense of knowing what my body truly needs in the moment and nourishing it in a much more mindful way. Most effective has been the practice slowing down and quieting my mind enough to access this intuition, not just while preparing and actually eating my food, but also harnessing this skill away from meal time – in my yoga and meditation practices. It is in these moments that I truly give myself the space the fully listen to my body and trust that deep down I know what is right.

While this may to you, sound like the beginnings of a meditation series rather than a recipe tutorial, your instincts are not actually far off. For me, this ability to tap into my intuition first came by way of my yoga practice, then it was further developed in my meditation practice and now I find myself opening the fridge and not rummaging through for what I am craving and what sounds good, but rather quieting the chatter of my mind enough to really access the place where my body can communicate to me what it needs. I think in this busy and hectic world we have lost touch with this incredible primal ability to be so in tune with our body and it’s needs and I fear that we are missing out on the opportunity to truly nourish ourselves in a far more effective and meaningful way. Both in the food we eat, but also in the life that we choose to lead.

Recently I was at a new moon sound healing journey, hosted by my friend Brook. As I always do, every few weeks, I showed up for myself. To give myself the much needed time and space for self care, but to also honor my healing path, my guides, and most importantly to set an intention. In my most recent journey, a few weeks back, as we lie there drinking in the healing vibes of the beautiful sound, I found myself receiving messages about what I needed more of, what I should be following and the places that my energy would be best spent. It was powerful, moving and truthfully, it was a little scary (maybe scarier is actually typing it up and sharing it with the world, though).

While much of the messages pertained to my work with others and the new paths I am exploring in my work and as a healer, I also heard, very clearly, certain personal needs that I should explore. To receive very clear messages while meditating isn’t something new to me, but to be told what to do very loudly and very specifically in this manner, this was a first. Without boring you with of the details I will just share the part of that journey that inspired this post. The word beet and images of beets continuously appeared throughout the session. While so much was zipping past me, so many ideas, so many words and images, suddenly rising above the rest, very loudly and clearly I heard: “You need more beets” “Try a beet tonic”. I instantly was reminded of Beet Kvass, something I have tried before, but never actually made for myself.

What is Beet Kvass

Beet Kvass is a healing and cleansing medicinal tonic. A traditional probiotic drink, popular in Eastern Europe, Ukraine and Russia, it is the result of fermentation by friendly Lactobacillus bacteria, which gives it a briny, tangy flavor. Beet kvass has a very interesting flavor combination, that is certainly an acquired taste. A little more intense than the kombucha or sauerkraut we’ve all come to know, it’s earthy, salty, sour, a little sweet and it has that elusive umami flavor – sometimes it’s even a little fizzy.

Benefits of Beet Kvass:

  • Rich in Probiotics
  • Dense in Valuable Nutrients
  • Excellent Liver Cleanser
  • Beneficial Blood Tonic that Balances the pH of the Blood
  • Reduces the Risk of Cancer from it’s Various Antioxidant and Anti-inflammatory Properties

Created through lacto-fermentation, this nutrient-dense stimulating tonic is loaded with friendly probiotic bacteria and beneficial enzymes, great for intestinal health, aiding in digestion and elimination, it’s an excellent liver cleanser and along with the healthy probiotics, beet’s high levels of vitamin C make this tonic an excellent boost for the immune system. It’s also more hydrating than water, containing a collection of minerals necessary to electrolyte balance in the body. Beets also contain phytonutrients called betalains that are found in the pigment of beets and are what causes your hands to stain. These betalains help create red blood cells, making beet kvass an excellent blood tonic for alkalizing the blood. Beet kvass and beets also help to naturally cleanse the gallbladder, improve bile flow, remove plenty of toxins and promote regularity!

Beet kvass can be drank as a tonic, straight up, it can be used in place of vinegar in cooking or in salad dressings, it’s also a great addition to soup and you can even use it in cocktail, the way you would a vinegar shrub.

How-to Make Beet Kvass // A Cleansing Medicinal Tonic

From Sally Fallon in Nourishing Traditions (page 610):

This drink is valuable for it’s medicinal qualities and as a digestive aid. Beets are just loaded with nutrients. One 4-ounce glass, morning and night, is an excellent blood tonic, promotes regularity, aid digestion, alkalizes the blood, cleanses the liver and is good treatment for kidney stones and other ailments.


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