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Grassmilk – good or gross?

4 Apr

Take a moment to look at FIT’s take on an optimal food pyramid and guess what question we most frequently hear. food pyramidIf you are like the majority of people we have discussed our food strategy with, you probably guessed: ‘What about dairy?’

The simple answer is that our strategy is based primarily on nutrient density. Once dairy has been pasturized and homogenized, the quality and density of nutrients is questionable. Add to that the fact that most dairy in this country comes from grain-fed confinement herds which are no healthier than their conventially raised beef cattle counterparts. And then there’s the question of the saturated fat in milk which for years we have been led to believe was bad but are beginning to understand how vital quality saturated fat is to longterm health and vitality.

st benoit

Until recently, there were no mainstream options for high quality, minimally processed dairy beyond organic. Months ago, I saw that St. Benoit (a local dairy, renowned for minimal processed, delicious yogurt) began selling VAT pasteurized milk from grassfed Jersey cows.  Jersey cows produce a richer, higher fat, sweeter milk than the other common dairy cow here in the US, holstein/fresien.  Organic Valley has introduced Grassmilk but doesn’t list what type of cows are in their herd. Because St. Benoit’s Jersey Milk and Organic Valley’s Grassmilk come from pasture raised/fed cows, their milk also has much higher levels of Omega 3s, linoleic acid and vitamin E (compared to grain-fed confinement herds). VAT pasteurization complies with FDA standards but seems to be less likely to significantly alter the quality of nutrients making this process preferrable to HTST (high temperature, short time) or UHT (ultra high temperature) processes routinely used – think of it like how heating olive oil to it’s smoke point degrades the fat destroying it’s health benefit as we have discussed previously.  While both St. Benoit and OV’s milks are non-homogenized, OV does use standard HTST pasteurization which might degrade nutrients more so than VAT.


So, while we stand by our statement that dairy is not a requirement of an optimally nutritious diet, we recognize that no one eats an optimally nutritous diet pasteurization. St. Benoitavailable at Whole Foods and Palo Alto’s Cal. Ave Farmers market on Sundays year round.100% of the time. So, when it comes to dairy, go for whole milk but drink less of it. Some ‘better’ options than what was previously available are St. Benoit’s Jersey Milk or Organic Valley’s Grassmilk – if both are options – choose St. Benoit based on the method of pasteurization.  I haven’t tasted OV’s Grassmilk but can vouch for St. Benoit’s – it’s delish!


A family fave Whole 30 compliant lunch

7 Feb


Cucumbers in place of crackers
Avocado in place of cream cheese
Topped with smoked salmon.

As I pack this lunch for my 5 year old, I always smile thinking ‘just like mom used to make’ or not:).

To resolve or not to resolve, that is the question.

9 Jan

This time of year there is a lot of chatter about resolutions. Regardless of how you feel about new year’s resolutions, it never hurts to set goals and re-evaluate how all is working in your life. The key here in doing so is to set SMART goals – Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely. In this digital age there are thankful a number of apps that can help you not only set goals but track them, incentivize them, and share them. I came across this list that might come in handy. I have tried a few but certainly not all. If you are using or decide to try any of them, please share your experience in the comments below.
ny resolution
Changing habits is almost always easier in theory than it is in practice. As a staff, we recently read The Power of Habit, which was enlightening. Based on what I learned from that and my previous successes and failures with new year’s resolutions, I’ll be trying Way of Life: The Ultimate Habit Maker and Breaker. Look forward to hearing what you choose.

New Family Favorite

19 Mar

It’s always a special evening when setting the nights meal on the table does not illicit a chorus of “I don’t like that” quickly followed by “how much do I need to eat?” Even better when, following that chorus, the first bites are taken and quiet ‘yumm’s are heard from the youngest diners. I always retest within a week to ensure I have, in fact, found a winning combination and in this case, it’s clearly a winner so thought I’d share.

This recipe is taken from Well Fed by Melissa Joulwan currently available for purchase at FIT.

Blue Ribbon Country Captain Chicken
3 strips of sugar-free, nitrate-free bacon (optional)
2 lbs boneless, skinless thighs (or breasts if you prefer)
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 Tbs coconut oil
4 medium onions, thinly sliced (about 4 cups)
3 large bell peppers (red and/or green) thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 Tbs raisings
1/2 c chicken broth
2 Tbs curry powder (penzeys maharajah is awesome)
3 scallions, green tops only, thinly sliced
3 Tbs sliced almonds, toasted (optional)

Cut bacon crosswise into 1/4″ wide pieces. Place chopped bacon in a large, cold skillet, turn heat to med-high, and fry bacon till crisp (i recommend thick sliced bacon). Remove from pan with a slotted spoon and drain on a paper towel.

Season chicken generously with salt and pepper. add coconut oil to the bacon fat in the pan, and reheat skillet. add chicken in a single layer, smooth side down. Don’t crowd the pan and don’t annoy the chicken! You want it to form a crisp, brown crust so place it in the pan and leave it alone, about 4 mins per side. As the chicken browns remove it from the skillet and place in a single layer in a 13×9 baking pan.

in same pan without draining any of the remaining fat, sauté the onions, peppers, garlic and raisings until the veggies just begin to soften, but are not cooked through. Spread them on top of the chicken and return the skillet to the stove.

pour chicken broth into the hot skillet and use a wooden spoon to scrape up any brown bits. add curry powder to the pan and stir until the sauce begins to thicken. Pour sauce over the chicken and wrap the pan tightly with aluminum foil.

bake 35 mins, then remove foil, increase the heat to 400 F, and bake an additional 5-10 mins. Before serving, sprinkle with scallions, bacon and almonds.

Divine! And I have enough veggies left over to make some sort of delicious veggie side later on this week. Let me know what you think!

What is Paleo?

4 Mar

Sometimes we struggle with how to discuss nutrition with clients.  As enthusiastic health and fitness professionals, our excitement about discussing nutrition can often overwhelm those we talk with, and make it seem as though we are crazy zealots out on a campaign against all the “healthy” foods endorsed in commercials and on box labels.  This is definitely not the case, but we do have an ironically novel message for those who will listen: Eat real foods, the way nature intended, and especially those that were eaten by our ancestors for millenia.

Dr. Willen helps us with this mission by providing a great concise video about the Paleo Diet.  While called a “caveman” diet by some, it really is the diet of our forebears, and what, as humans, we were intended to eat.  Watch the short 4 minute video, and then start a great dialogue about food with your ebullient and committed trainer about how to move you along the path of better health and sustained vitality.

Danielle Durante | Athletes | USA Weightlifting

28 Nov

Danielle Durante | Athletes | USA Weightlifting.

It’s been a long journey for one of our own leading up to the olympic trials this spring. With a few competitions between now and then, along with many hours hours of training, we ask all of you to join us in wishing Danielle good luck this weekend and beyond!

Let’s talk veggies!

11 Oct

As the ‘shock’ of getting started has hopefully passed, now is a good time to take a look at what you are eating (instead of what you are not). Personally, I sometimes struggle with different ways to make vegetables to keep it interesting as veggies are the base of this nutrition strategy. I made 2 wonderful mostly vegetable meals this weekend that I thought I’d share with hopes that you all will do the same.

The first was from – I had romano beans delivered in our CSA bag this week so searched google for a recipe.

Braised Romano Beans
Adapted from Laura Sbrana via The NYTimes 08/12/08

Time: 1 1/2 hours

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup minced celery
1/2 cup minced carrot
1 cup minced red onion
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon tomato paste
1 cup peeled, crushed ripe tomatoes, preferably plum tomatoes, with their juices
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 pounds romano beans (flat green beans), ends trimmed (or fresh cranberry beans in their shells). . .Next time think I will cut the beans into bite size pieces prior to cooking as they are a bit ‘unwieldy’ when full length.

1. Heat oil in a deep skillet or a shallow three-quart saucepan. Add celery, carrot and onion and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until vegetables barely begin to brown, about 25 minutes. Add garlic and rosemary and cook until fragrant, a few minutes. Stir in tomato paste and tomatoes. Bring to a simmer. Season with salt and pepper. Simmer until mixture is well combined, about 5 minutes.

2. Add beans, setting them in pan all in one direction. Add 1/2 cup water. Bring to a simmer. Baste beans, season with salt, reduce heat to low. Cook gently, partly covered, turning beans in sauce from time to time, until beans are very tender, about 40 minutes. Adjust seasoning and serve hot or at room temperature.

Yield: 6 servings.

The other was Sunday breakfast. I had spigarello (again from our CSA) and portabello mushrooms that needed to be used. Stuffed portabello mushrooms it is!

This dish can be made with any greens you have in the fridge – the hearty the green, the longer you will need to cook.

Adapted from Primal Cookbook: Quick and Easy

2 portabello mushrooms
olive oil
4 strips bacon, cut into small pieces
1 bunch spigarello, or other greens
bacon fat
2 eggs, raw, scrambled

Preheat oven to 425.
coat mushrooms in olive oil
place on baking tray
season with salt and pepper
cook 15 mins

While mushrooms are cooking, remove woody stems from Spigarello by stripping the greens from the stem. Pile all the greens together and chiffonade (cut into thin strips). Rinse in a collander and shake off most of the excess water. Heat large skillet over medium heat. Place wet greens in skillet and cover to let them steam a bit. Once water is mostly evaporated, add 1 tbs of bacon fat or butter and toss greens to coat. Let cook for a minute or two, then add bacon pieces and stir to combine with greens. When bacon is cooked, add eggs, stirring to mix with greens and bacon. Remove from heat once eggs are cooked. Pile mixture on top of mushrooms and enjoy. (If using spinach or arugula, cook bacon first, then add greens as the greens will cook much more quickly than those used here.

Could use some more ideas. Please comment with your favorite ways to incorporate veg into meals and snacks.

Paleo pancakes – 2 options

5 Oct

I posted this recipe a from few months back and can attest that it has since become a family favorite. At our first Whole 30 pow wow this evening, another recipe was suggested. She mentioned that she modifies this recipe so look to the comments for those suggestions.

This one’s from the Primal Blueprint Cookbook

3 eggs
3 Tbs melted butter or oil
1/4 cup plus 2 Tbs coconut milk
1/2 tsp honey (exclude if you are doing whole 30)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup coconut flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup or so water

Optional additions: flaked coconut, berries, nuts, cinnamon

Whisk together eggs, oil, coconut milk, honey and vanilla. In a separate bowl, stir together dry ingredients then add wet ingredients, stirring till smooth. Add water to thin batter out until desired consistency is reached. In a well buttered Pam or griddle, cook pancakes until Browne on both sides (about 3 mins/side). Smaller pancakes are easier to flip as the cakes will fall apart if too big.

Another paleo pancake recipe thats been around FIT so long I’m not sure where it originated from but will guess

1 egg
1 heaping Tbs almond butter
1 mashed banana

Whisk together and cook in a well buttered Pam or griddle. Watch carefully as they do burn easily. These make great snacks too I you can manage to save any for leftovers.

Primal hot cereal

5 Oct

No nut snacks throughout the day if you have this for breakfast but worth the ‘sacrifice’ for a bowl of hot cereal to start your day.

from: Primal Blueprint Quick and Easy Cookbook

1/2 cup almonds, whole or slivered
1/2 cup pecans
1/2 banana
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp salt
1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk or coconut milk, plus more to taste

Pulse all ingredients in a food processor or blender until desired consistency is reaches. Depending on your preference, the hot cereal can be smooth or chunky.

Warm the cereal in the microwave or on the stove until hot. Add fresh berries and more almond or coconut milk to taste.

Sweet Hash

5 Oct

A good alternative to eggs any way … Or with an egg on top…
from: Paleo Comfort Foods (cookbook)

2 Tbs. Coconut, avocado, or olive oil
1 sweet onion, diced
1 pound sweet potatoes, peeled and shredded/grated (1 pound=1 med/LG sweet potato)
1 lb cooked chicken or turkey sausage, cube into small dice
1 Tbs. Cumin
1 tsp. Cayenne pepper (I cut this in half an still found the hash had a fair bit of kick)
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Heat large sized skillet over med heat an add oil
2. Sauté onion until translucent
3. Stir in the potatoes, mixing to combine and cook until potaoes start to soften and then eventually brown.
4. Mix in the sausage, cumin, cayenne, salt an pepper and cook until sausage starts o get a bit brown.