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    (0) Balance Your Blood Sugar

    5 Steps to Balance Blood Sugar

    Most of us have heard the term “insulin resistance” and “high blood sugar”, but what does this mean? Think of insulin as a key to the cell – it unlocks the cell and allows glucose into that cell to prevent blood sugar levels from rising in the blood.  If we consistently have a diet high in sugar, unhealthy fats and processed foods, our pancreas can start to overproduce insulin and we can run the risk of not being able to lower blood sugar levels. So, one could say that a person’s metabolism is impervious to the normal effects of insulin and that regular insulin secretion has stopped working to stabilize blood sugar levels, regardless of how much insulin one person produces.

     

    Balance your macros, Balance your blood sugar

    Macronutrients consist of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. Along with micronutrients (vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients), they are the fuel that keep our bodies running and functioning properly. How much of each macronutrient should we be consuming? Let’s break it down:

    Protein: a general rule of thumb is getting somewhere between 1.2 and 1.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight, per day.

    Carbohydrates: Calculating your carbohydrate intake varies from person to person, it is not advised to go below 100 grams per day (especially for women). If you are exercising, then getting anywhere from 250 – 400 grams might be required to support muscle function and recovery.

    When we look at the breakdown of macronutrients try to consume 5-6 meals a day and at each meal aim to get 20-30 grams of protein, 50-60 grams of carbohydrates and3-5 grams of fiber and fat for optimal blood sugar control. It’s important to note that these ratios are not set in stone and can look different for each person depending on their nutritional needs and health status.

    There are also some general factors to consider when choosing your macro sources. Eat the rainbow! Choose brightly colored fruit and vegetables, along with some grass fed/free range animal protein/eggs, some whole grains (if tolerated), and healthy fats like olives, coconut oil, nuts, and avocadoes. Eat lower GI carbohydrates like greens, most fruits, whole grains, and starchy vegetables. Limit refined carbs like white rice and white bread.  

     

    Stay Hydrated

    Water is involved in almost every bodily function such as circulation, digestion, absorption, and elimination of wastes. It also helps your kidneys flush any excess sugar out of the blood, through urine. Water requirements can vary from person to person depending on the climate, our activity level, and diet. On average, we should be consuming about 8-12 cups of water per day. This all does not have to come from drinking water but can also come from the food we eat (like fruit and vegetables).

     

    Increase Your Fiber Intake

    Dietary fiber is broken down into insoluble and soluble fiber.  Soluble fiber, which has the most beneficial effects for blood sugar control, includes foods like beans, cruciferous vegetables, avocadoes, oats, and pears. Along with fat, fiber slows down the digestion and absorption of carbohydrates and prevents quick spikes in blood sugar. Some population studies show that blood sugar imbalances are related to inadequate fiber intake. So how much should one take? Aim to get 35-50 grams a day. If you are new to fiber rich foods, be sure to increase fiber slowly as it may cause abdominal discomfort like gas and bloating.

     

    Exercise Regularly

    Regular exercise (3 to 4 times a week) can help you maintain a healthy weight, enhance insulin sensitivity, and help improve glucose metabolism. Choose an activity that you enjoy and try to increase your heart rate for around half an hour each session. It is important to have a combination of strength training, stretching and aerobic exercises as they all play a role in keeping your metabolism functioning optimally.

     

    Eat Foods high in Chromium and Magnesium

    Micronutrients like vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients are important too! Especially minerals like magnesium and chromium. If you are not absorbing these minerals or getting enough in your diet, they may be a contributing factor to high blood sugar and even diabetes. Chromium works closely with insulin as it helps the uptake of glucose into the cell. Without it, insulin cannot function properly which may result in a rise of glucose levels in the blood. Foods rich in chromium are meat, mussels, oysters, egg yolks, whole grains, green beans, broccoli, etc. Magnesium also plays a role in glucose metabolism, among its many other functions. That is why a deficiency in magnesium may increase your chances of becoming diabetic. Foods rich in magnesium are tofu, nuts, seeds, and green leafy vegetables.

    (0) Protein Powder Comparison

    Protein is an important nutrient in our diets as it plays a role in hormone production, immune function, and supports the structural components of the body. With our busy lives and some special circumstances, it can be difficult to get enough protein into our diet.

    Protein powders are a great option to help reach our protein requirements and they can be easy to incorporate into our daily routine. When it comes to protein powders, there are so many options to choose from these days – so how do you know which one is right for you?

    Whether you are looking for everyday support or to enhance your physical activity, we picked a few of our favorite options and broke it down so you can choose what is best for you and your current protein needs:

     

    (0) Fresh Juice Recipes

    These juice recipes pack a punch of flavour AND nutrients. What better way to start the New Year off with some healthy beverages!


    Servings: 1-2

    Prep Time: 5-10 minutes

    Cook Time: 15 minutes

     

    Digest Ease Green Juice

    1 Green Apple

    5 stalks of celery

    1 large cucumber

    1 handful of kale or spinach

    1 Lemon

    1 knob of ginger

    1 handful of fresh mint

    Instructions: Wash and cut apple, celery, cucumber (leave skin on), lemon (leave skin on) into smaller pieces. Peel skin off ginger and remove mint leaf stems. Add all ingredients to juicer and drink immediately or store in airtight container, in the fridge.

     

    Anti-inflammatory Orange Juice

    2 oranges

    4 large carrots

    1 large orange beet

    1 knob of ginger

    1 knob of turmeric

    1 Lemon

    Instructions: Wash and cut orange (remove skin), carrots, beets (remove skins), lemon (leave skin on) into smaller pieces. Peel skin off ginger and turmeric. Add all ingredients to juicer and drink immediately or store in airtight container, in the fridge.

     

    Turn up the Beet Juice

    2 beets

    1 apple

    2 carrots

    1 lemon

    1 knob of ginger

    Instructions: Wash and cut apple, carrots, beets (remove skins), lemon (leave skin on) into smaller pieces. Peel skin off ginger. Add all ingredients to juicer and drink immediately or store in airtight container, in the fridge.

     

    (0) Cheesy Gluten Free Biscuits

     

    Have you heard of Lupin flour? Lupin is part of the legume family and is rich in fiber and minerals. This delicious gluten free flour is also an excellent source of vitamin E and is high in protein. A great subsitute for pastas, cookies, muffins, and more! Give it a try today...


    Servings: 8-10

    Prep Time: 10-15 minutes

    Cook Time: 8-10 minutes

     

    Ingredients

    1 cup     Almond Flour

    ¼ cup    Oat Fiber

    ¼ cup    Lupin Flour*

    ¼ tsp     Salt**

    1tbsp     Baking Powder

    ½ tsp     Garlic Powder

    ½ tsp     Onion Powder

    2              Eggs

    ½ cup    Sour Cream

    ½ cup    Zucchini, grated

    4 tbsp   Butter, melted

    ½ cup    Aged White Cheddar, grated

    Instructions:

    Preheat oven to 450F.  Grease a 12-piece cupcake tin with butter.

    Grate the zucchini, put it in a strainer with a little sprinkle of salt.  Let the zucchini juices strain as you prepare the recipe.  Melt the butter and set aside to slightly cool.

    In a large bowl, whisk together the almond flour, oat fiber, lupin flour, salt, baking powder, garlic and onion powder.  Add the grated cheese and fold it into the flour mixture.

    In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs, sour cream and the melted butter and set aside.  Take the grated zucchini and squeeze out any excess liquid, then fold it into the flour and cheese mixture.  Be sure to break up any chunks.  Take the egg and sour cream mixture and add it to the dry ingredients and fold together until incorporated; you will want to use a spatula, because the batter is quite sticky.

    Portion out the batter evenly into the cupcake tin.  Bake at 450F for 8 minutes.  They should be golden brown and if poked with a toothpick, it should come out clean.

    *Lupin flour can leave a bitter flavor if used in large quantities

    **Depending on your threshold for salt, it can be omitted

     

     

    (0) Keto Pizza Crust

    Minimal toppings needed for this Keto friendly pizza crust! A deliciously cheesy and low carb pizza crust for all. 


    Servings: 1-3

    Prep Time: 15-25 minutes

    Cook Time: 15-20 minutes

     

    Ingredients

    2 cups   mozzarella, grated

    2 tbsp   cream cheese

    ½ cup    cauliflower flour

    ¼ cup    almond flour

    ¼ tsp     Salt*

    Toppings of your choice! We used tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese, and fresh basil

     

    Instructions:

    Preheat your oven to 425F.  Set aside a rolling pin and 2 piece of parchment that are 15” in length and width.

    In a medium pot add the mozzarella, cream cheese, cauliflower flour, almond flour and salt.  Place the pot on the stovetop on low heat; stirring the cheese and flour mixture regularly, so it doesn’t burn to the bottom of the pot.  As the cheese melts it will begin to form a dough; once all the ingredients have come together, place the dough ball on one piece of parchment and form a disc.  Place the other piece of parchment on top and roll out the dough in to a 12” diameter.

    Remove the top piece of parchment and place the pizza dough on a pizza tray and poke a fork into the dough to prevent bubbling, make sure to not go right through the dough.  Par bake in the oven for 6-8 minutes, pull the dough out of the oven and a set aside. 

    Turn the oven down to 350F.

    Once the dough has slightly cooled, dress the pizza crust with whatever toppings you have prepared.  Place the pizza back into the oven and continue to bake for another 8 minutes or until the cheese is melted.

    Enjoy!

    *Depending on your threshold for salt, you can omit it from this recipe.  The mozzarella cheese adds to the saltiness of the recipe.

     

     

    (0) Cinnamon Potatoes in Tomato Sauce

    A great side dish to any meal! These savoury potatoes are filling, super flavourful, and can be made ahead of time for convenience


    Servings: 2-4

    Prep Time: 10-15 minutes

    Cook Time: 1 hour 10 minutes

     

    Ingredients

    2lbs potatoes, cubed

    1 can crushed tomatoes

    1/2 cup olive oil

    salt and pepper

    1tsp red chili flakes

    4 cloves garlic, crushed

    1tbsp cinnamon

    1 tbsp thyme

    1 tbsp oregano

    1 cup water

    Crumbled feta to top

    Olive oil to top

    Instructions:

    Preheat oven to 375F

    Combine all ingredients, except water, into a bowl and mix. Add to a baking dish and add the cup of water on top.

    Cover with tin foil and bake at 375F for 45 mins. After 45 mins remove the foil and cook for another 20-30 mins until the potatoes are fork tender and the sauce has thickened. Serve hot, topped with feta and olive oil.

     

     

    (0) Shakshuka

    Packed with veggies, healthy protein, and aromatic spices - this dish will be a crowd pleaser and a great addition to any meal! 


    Servings: 2-3

    Prep Time: 15-20 minutes

    Cook Time: 25-30 minutes

     

    Ingredients

    2 tbsp olive oil

    1 large yellow onion, chopped

    1 large red bell pepper, chopped

    1/4 tsp fine sea salt

    3 cloves garlic, minced

    2 tbsp tomato paste

    1 tsp ground cumin

    1/2 tsp smoked paprika

    1/4 tsp red pepper flakes

    1 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes

    2 tbsp flat-leaf parsley

    Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

    5 to 6 large eggs

    1/2 cup crumbled feta

    Sourdough bread, for dipping

    Instructions:

    Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

    Heat olive oil in a large, oven-safe skillet over medium heat then add the onion, bell pepper, and salt. Cook until the onions are translucent. Add the garlic, tomato paste, cumin, paprika and red pepper flakes. Cook for 2-3 minutes. Add the crushed tomatoes and the parsley.

    Stir, and let the mixture come to a simmer.  Reduce the heat and simmer for 6 minutes. Season for salt and pepper. Make 5 or 6 well with a spoon and crack eggs into them. Season the eggs with salt and pepper. Bake for 8 to 12 minutes until the eggs have reached desired doneness.

    Top with the crumbled feta and parsley.  

    Serve in bowls with sour dough bread on the side.

     

    (0) Mediterranean Chili

    Packed with fiber, healthy fats, protein and carbohydrates, this hearty Mediterranean Chili will leave you feeling full and nourished. 


    Servings: 2-4

    Prep Time: 10-15 minutes

    Cook Time: 1 hour 10 minutes

     

    Ingredients

    2lbs ground meat (lamb, venison, chicken, lean beef, pork, turkey or any combo)

    1 can chickpeas

    2 14oz cans crushed tomatoes

    1 cup Stock

    1 red onion, diced

    4 cloves garlic, minced

    2 roasted red peppers, diced

    3T chili powder

    2T ground cumin

    1T fresh oregano

    1 lemon (zest and juice)

    1t fresh ground pepper

    16 oz spinach

    1 tbsp red wine vinegar

    Feta cheese crumbles, sliced olives and Greek yogurt for serving

    Instructions:

    Add 2 tbsp olive oil to a pot and cook the meat until browned.

    Add in the onions and cook them until translucent

    Add in the garlic and cook for another 2 mins

    Add in the red onion, red peppers, chili powder, ground cumin, oregano, lemon juice and zest.

    Pour in the crushed tomatoes and the one cup of stock. Bring to a boil and simmer for 45 mins.

    In the last five mins add in the spinach and cook until wilted.

    Add in the vinegar and stir.

    Serve topped with feta, olives, and yogurt, if desired.

     

     

     

    (0) How to Increase Your Energy

    Increase Your Greens

    We all know the vast benefits these superfoods provide us – increased energy, detoxification, phytonutrients, and more, but for some, it can be a challenge getting enough into our diet.  So why not add a delicious greens powder to your régime? Alberta Natural Products Greens Powder is the perfect blend of greens and other superfood for clean, sustained energy. Green tea and bee pollen are powerful antioxidants while providing balanced energy. Grasses like barley and wheat grass are also antioxidants and are great for reducing inflammation and helping remove free radicals from the body.

     

    Try a detox

    Feeling like you over-indulged this Holiday Season (and even past year)? A detox might be the answer to get you back on track and crush those 2021 health goals. The Wild Rose Detox kit is a blend of herbs and has been used by Canadians for over 40 years. It focuses on supporting the liver’s natural detoxification pathways and helps improve digestion and elimination. It also comes with food recommendations, which is a nice bonus! They recently came out with a gentle version - same great herbs but less intense laxatives. Give one of them a try and watch your energy improve!

     

    Improve Sleep Quality and Duration

    Sleep Deprivation and poor-quality sleep can negatively impact many areas of our health, causing low energy and fatigue, to name a few. Practicing good sleep hygiene, getting outside during the day, and balancing blood sugar, all play a role in getting a restful sleep. Sometimes when our sleep is impaired and we need extra help, taking a supplement can be a great option for improved sleep quality and energy. Sleep 8 by New Roots is a blend of herbal extracts and melatonin to help calm the mind and reset your circadian rhythm. Such extracts like passionflower that support the production of GABA, a neurotransmitter that induces relaxation and skullcap which helps calm the nervous system. When we prioritize improving our sleep, our energy levels should rise.

     

    Increase Healthy Fats

    Since energy comes from calories and fats have twice as many calories as proteins and carbohydrates, one could say that if someone doesn’t get enough fat in their diet, it might impact their energy levels. There are many different types of fat, but for this discussion I will focus on the benefits of medium chain triglycerides, also know as MCT’s. MCT’s are commonly found in coconut oil & palm oil which have many benefits that include increased energy, better cognitive function, increased metabolism, and a reduction of cravings. Because MCT’s don’t go through the typical digestion process (absorbed directly from the digestive tract) they are especially beneficial for those who have issues absorbing fat. Products like Bulletproof Brain Octane, which have the fastest absorption rate, increase energy levels without the crash. Try adding some MCT’s into your diet today!

     

    Manage Your Stress

    We know that stress is part of the human experience and we need a certain amount to function. Our “fight or flight” stress response is one that has evolved from dangers like getting eaten by a sabretooth tiger to worry about family, financial stress, relationship problems, etc.  Mild stress in these situations can be useful, but if it becomes chronic it can negatively affect our health and sometimes if gone unchecked, can lead to disease. With techniques like meditation and learning how to perceive stress, we can keep it from getting out of control. Along with techniques like these, supplements can play a significant role in managing  and reacting to stress. A great option by AOR is Ortho Adapt. This combination of nutrients and herbs help you handle stress and provide you with stable energy. (Comes in a vegan option too!)

     

     

    (0) Spinach Spanakopita

    Filled with protein, healthy fats and carbohydrates this Spinach Spanakopita is busrting with flavour at every bite. The crispy phyllo dough adds a lovely crunchy texture too!


    Servings: 2-3

    Prep Time: 20-30 minutes

    Cook Time: 1 hour 10 minutes

     

    Ingredients

    454g Spinach

    1 tsp Salt

    100g Onion

    1 cup shredded sweet potato

    1/3 Cup Olive Oil plus extra for brushing

    1/2 Cup Breadcrumbs

    1 tsp Black Pepper

    Fistful of Mint

    240g Feta Cheese

    2 Eggs

    1 Tbsp Dill

    Phyllo dough

    Instructions:

    Place the spinach in a bowl and add in the salt and start squeezing the spinach in your hands to remove all the water. Add spinach to a new bowl

    Place aside and add the onion to a processor and blitz until small dice.

    Add the onion to the bowl along with the Olive Oil, breadcrumbs, black pepper, mint, feta Cheese, eggs, potato, and dill. Mix well

    Place 1 sheet of phyllo on the work surface and drizzle with olive oil repeat this 3 time but, on the 3rd, brush the olive oil over the dough. Cut into 4 equal parts and add 2 Tbsp of filling to each strip. Fold the corner of the dough over the spinach filling and to form a triangle. Continue folding, maintaining the triangle shape, using the whole strip. Repeat to use the rest of the mixture.

    Bake at 400 F for 15 mins until golden brown.

     

     

    (0) AJ's Weight Loss Journey

    Who

    He’s the man behind the camera at Community. He’s also a chef, food blogger, lover of food, and a personal trainer. But most of all, he’s an inspiration to many of us at Community because of how he managed to turn his health around during the early months of COVID!

    Yes, while many of us fell off the health bandwagon this spring, Allan Hussey (AJ) doubled down on improving his health.

    Out of high school AJ became a personal trainer and educated himself on basic nutrition. He was in great shape and a healthy weight. Then came a move to Calgary, an injury, surgery and getting married. He got ‘comfortable’ and the weight piled on. His blood pressure skyrocketed and before long he was on the maximum blood pressure medication. The doctor sat him down and said he had to change his lifestyle.

    What did he do?

    It started with some soul searching on YouTube. He was looking for a long-term weight loss approach. Being a dog lover, he related to how you would get your pet to lose weight: less food; more exercise.

    But being a foodie he knew he’d have to make food decisions that were lower in calories. “How do I get a hamburger to be lower calorie – choose a salad over fries; lean to extra lean meat, over regular.” That type of thing.

    Accountability

    He did his own research by tracking everything he ate for a month and tallying up the calories consumed per day. He would also weigh himself daily.  Then it was trial and error. He continued to weigh himself every day just to keep himself on track. To remind himself of what his goal was.  He also meal planned by the day. He weighed all the meat, vegetables and starch.  

    What He Ate

    He quickly realized that if he dramatically increased his vegetable intake he could eat more, and more often. So, he decreased meat intake and rapidly increased vegetable intake, adding more legumes as well. He drank lots of water. Fruit and popcorn were his go-to on days where he wanted to eat more or satisfy cravings.

    Cheat or treat days

    He gave himself two treats per week at the beginning but found that as he started to be successful in shedding the weight he had less cravings for cheat foods.

    When he did fall off the bandwagon, he didn’t beat himself up about it, but he did make sure he hopped right back on the healthy eating plan.

    He planned in advance for times when he knew he’d consume more calories;  like when he finished his backyard patio and knew he’d be barbequing and having more beverages. He put himself on a maintenance plan of a few more calories and upped his exercise.

    Exercise

    AJ is a personal trainer so was very familiar with working out. He didn’t dive deep into some newplan. Instead he committed to doing some exercise every day. It might be weightlifting but it could also be a hike in the mountains or a bike to Banff. As the weight came off and his fitness level returned, he did more and enjoyed it a lot more!

    What AJ gave up entirely

    Drinking alcohol. It was empty calories so he cut it out entirely until summer. Then he planned it into his weekly calorie and exercise plan. He doesn’t have a sweet tooth, but chips are his weakness so he just made sure they weren’t in the house. Or he’d make them his planned treat.

    Success: Today, AJ no longer takes blood pressure medication. He has lost 70lbs and he feels like a million bucks. He no longer has sleep apnea. He has sustained energy with no more mid-afternoon slumps.

     

    At Community Natural Foods, we don’t often talk about weight loss in our content, but AJ’s story was so inspiring to his co-workers that we hoped it would inspire someone reading as well. Mostly because of the realistic approach he took. He ate well, planned ahead, didn’t expect perfection, and moved his body regularly. Congratulations AJ and thanks for sharing.

    (1) Holiday Brunch Recipes

    Buckwheat Banana Bread (Gluten Free)

    This recipe is so delicious you will hardly know it is gluten free. The riper the bananas used the better the flavor.

    Click here for full recipe

    Mushroom and Spinach Savory Oatmeal

    If you are someone who prefers savory for breakfast then this is for you. Similar to risotto with the health benefits of oatmeal. Oatmeal is high in fiber, beta-glucans and tryptophan - great for gut and brain health!

    Click here for full recipe

     

    Community Classic Smoothie

    Simple and refreshing! Mix it up with an easy, digestable smoothie filled with healthy fruit and protein. 

    Click here for full recipe

     

    Chive Scrambled Eggs with Bacon and Roasted Tomatoes

    A few upgrades on a classic bacon and eggs breakfast. If you are following a keto or paleo diet, this recipe is for you!

    Click here for full recipe