In a perfect world, magnesium is supposed to be the fourth most abundant mineral in our body, as it is necessary for the synthesis of ATP, the body’s main form of energy. However, it is estimated that over 43% of Canadians do not get sufficient magnesium through the diet. This is due to our food sources being depleted of magnesium themselves. With depleted soils, food processing, and absorption issues becoming more common getting enough magnesium in a day can become quite challenging! When you increase your demand for magnesium by chronic stress and various medications, it is no wonder it is one of the most commonly deficient minerals in developed countries.
Have you ever heard of a Buddha bowl? Its a glorious mix of nutrient-dense foods when blended together keep you full and satisfied. I also love these so much because with a little planning you can eat a different combo of nutritious foods every day of the week. They're also super easy to prepare in advance (I like to make 5 on Sunday for my weekly lunches). The best part is you can't really mess it up! Here I'll give you my tips to prep delicious, healthy Buddha bowls for your week ahead.
Step 1: Grains or greens or both! Choose from 1 or 2 of the ingredients below, and make a big batch if necessary. Divide your base into your containers for the week.
- Brown rice
- Quinoa or any other ancient grains (amaranth, millet, kamut)
- Mixed spring greens
Step 2: Choose your veggies. I usually like to pick whatever is in season (and on sale). I would recommend prepping 6-8 different vegetables to mix and match on top of your Buddha bowl. Each bowl I make usually has 3-4 types of veggies on it. The goal is to see a rainbow of colours when you look at your bowl (or any meal for that matter). I love prepping all my veggies by either roasting, steaming or lightly sauteeing them. Some vegetables like radishes, sprouts, and bell peppers I like to have raw to add a little crunch to my bowl. Here are just a few suggestions:
- Sweet potatoes or yams
- Baby potatoes
- Lightly steamed or sauteed greens (EX. kale, collard, swiss chard, etc.)
- Purple cabbage
- Mushrooms (personally loving shiitake right now)
- Bell peppers
- Squash (EX. butternut, spaghetti, acorn)
Step 3: Choose your protein. As we know, protein comes in a ton of shapes and sizes so play around with this and try to vary your protein throughout the week. I usually by 1 animal-based and 2 plant proteins weekly, and try to alternate my animal source and plant source proteins throughout the week. Cook and prepare your protein however is convenient and tasty! Some protein ideas:
- Organic poultry (chicken, turkey, etc.)
- Organic grass-fed beef
- Wild-cought fish (get those Omega 3s!)
- Beans/Legumes (EX. chickpeas, black beans, lentils, etc. )
- Nuts/seeds (EX. almonds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, etc.)
- Egg (hard-boiled, fried, poached etc.)
Step 4: Dressing. OK, this is the piece-de-resistance. To be honest I usually stick to the same dressing recipe, but you can switch it up and use what you have around the house. If you prepared your vegetables and protein with enough flavour, consider skipping the dressing and just enjoying the flavours of each ingredient! Here are some of my favourite Buddha bowl dressing recipes:
Step 5: Put all your prep work together in 5 big containers. Pack your dressing on the side to avoid sogginess. Enjoy your bowl warm or cold. Lunches for the week, Done!
Now go enjoy your gluten free, dairy free, nutrient-packed meals :)
You may or may not have heard of bulletproof coffee, but this yummy morning brew is going to amp up your mornings and the rest of the day! So many people these days are in a huge rush in the morning and simply grab a coffee, a muffin (or another carbohydrate dense breakfast food) and head out the door. In my experience, this usually causes fogginess, fatigue and hunger mere hours later. Sound familiar?
Bullet or Bulletproof coffee is a delicious, creamy and easy recipe to add some healthy fats to your morning brew. Adding healthy fats, such as MCT oil and grass-fed butter dense with omega 3 and 6, to your coffee slows down the absorption of caffeine. Medium chain triglycerides (MCT) are isolated from coconut oil, for their ability to bypass metabolism in the liver and provide the body and the brain with sustained energy. Blending in these fats and some other powerful, natural add-ins essentially turn your drab morning joe into a breakfast of champions. No need for any more muffins and it will keep you full until lunch! It is important to note that Bulletproof coffee is not the appropriate choice for everyone, but can be a healthful breakfast substitute for many.
The individual ingredients in bulletproof coffee are nothing too special on their own, but all together... Look out! You’re in for a treat! Aside from the joy of your morning coffee ritual, you’ll also have these amazing benefits:
1. Less desire for multiple coffees throughout the day
Possibly one of my favourite benefits of bulletproof coffee, is that having one cup in the morning is going to stop you from reaching for that second, third or even fourth cup in the afternoon. This is a nice change for both your liver and your wallet. Black coffee has some proven health benefits, but these only hold up if consumed in moderation, meaning less than three cups (250mL) of coffee per day.
The reason for this reduced craving for that afternoon joe is multi-factorial but largely due to the ability of fats and coffee to balance blood sugar levels. The addition of fats to caffeine slows its absorption and prolongs coffee’s energy enhancing and blood sugar balancing properties throughout the day. More specifically, one component in coffee (chlorogenic acid) causes glucose to be absorbed further along in the intestine, therefore prolonging satiation and reducing blood sugar spikes. Moderate black coffee consumption has been linked to enhanced metabolic profiles by improving insulin sensitivity, which in turn can even lower the risk of Type II Diabetes. We know that carbohydrates and proteins (like the ones in your breakfast muffin) can be converted to sugar, and therefore cause blood sugar levels to rise, but the fats in bulletproof coffee aren’t going to promote blood sugar spikes at all. Without a blood glucose spike in the morning, you won’t get a blood glucose drop in the afternoon.
Having fewer blood glucose highs and lows creates a sustainable balance that will have you saying goodbye to that 2-3pm slump!
2. More efficient fat metabolism throughout the day (which can lead to weight loss for some)
Ok, wait… so adding fat to coffee, can improve my fat metabolism? You bet!
Adding fats to coffee is going to massively increase the caloric profile of your morning brew. Giving your body ample calories in the morning is important so that it doesn't get tricked into entering starvation mode, which is prompted by caloric restriction. Calorie restriction promotes fat storage and decreased metabolism, which in turn causes you to gain back all the weight that you would have lost restricting your calories. Instead, having a calorie dense, fat-filled breakfast is going to kick-start your metabolism for the day ahead of you!
The coffee itself is known to improve the satiety hormone profile, via ghrelin and serotonin, while specific phenols in coffee also increase fat utilization and promote fat excretion. Butter that comes from grass-fed cows contains a much higher content of healthy essential fatty acids (omega 3 and omega 6) when compared to regular run-of-the-mill butter, and these EFAs are going to promote the production of an optimal hormone profile. Having healthy hormones is key for efficient fat metabolism (see benefit #4).
Medium-chain triglyceride (MCT) oil is a specific type of fat that is more easily digested than other fats and sugars. While being easy to digest, MCT oil helps you feel full longer by producing ketones that will suppress the hunger hormone ghrelin, and increase the satiety signal via CCK. Ketones also fuel your brain and promote thermogenesis, which helps speed up your metabolic rate.
3. Improved cognitive function and energy (no more 3 pm fatigue and brain fog)
We all know that the caffeine in coffee gives most people an energy boost, can stimulate digestion, and promotes regular bowel function. MCT oil helps stimulate digestion in a similar way, therefore it is important to start with only about 1tsp per day, and increase slowly from there. Regular bowel function is key to removing toxins, and an overburden of toxins and inefficient digestion can make us foggy and fatigued throughout the day, which will reduce our energy and cognitive function.
There has been a lot of mixed research on the benefits and harms of coffee. However, recently black coffee in moderation has been shown to reduce rates of neurological disorders such as Parkinson disease, age-related cognitive decline, and even Alzheimer’s disease. Potentially due to the large antioxidant profile of coffee which can be protective against oxidative damage in the brain. Similarly, MCT oil is known to help optimize brain function and cognition by being metabolized into ketones quickly, and providing the neurons in your brain with fast, available energy.
4. Increased production of healthy hormones
I’ve already mentioned a lot about hormones, particularly the ones that send signals of whether you’re hungry or full: ghrelin, CCK, and serotonin. However, it is important to note that the building blocks of ALL hormones in the human body is through saturated fat and cholesterol – no fat equals no hormones. The fats from both MCT oil and grass-fed butter are going to promote production of our hormones including steroid and sex hormones, including testosterone. Testosterone is known to promote fat loss, lean muscle mass development and improved energy!
Information can be empowering, but we all have unique health profiles and needs. Health-related information contained in this post is intended to be general in nature and should not be used as a substitute for a visit with a Naturopathic Doctor.
Pourshahidi, L. K., Navarini, L., Petracco, M. & Strain, J.J. (2016), A Comprehensive Overview of the Risks and Benefits of Coffee Consumption. Comprehensive reviews in food science and food safety, 15: 671–684. doi:10.1111/1541-4337.12206
Cunnane, S. C., Courchesne-Loyer, A., St-Pierre, V., Vandenberghe, C., Pierotti, T., Fortier, M., . . . Castellano, C. (2016). Can ketones compensate for deteriorating brain glucose uptake during aging? Implications for the risk and treatment of Alzheimers disease. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences,1367(1), 12-20. doi:10.1111/nyas.12999