MCT Oil: The Holy Grail of Oils

All the rage these days are “healthy fats”- whether you are consuming Avocados, coconut oil or flax to consume them, they have an array of benefits for your metabolism, brain health, energy and immunity. So what is the rage now? After doing some initial research and hearing over and over again that MCT Oil was the new wave in nutrition, I tried it and have to agree, so far -it’s awesome.

What are MCTs?

“MCTs” are medium-chain triglycerides, a form of saturated fatty acid that has numerous health benefits, ranging from improved cognitive function to better weight management. Coconut oil is one source of MCTs — roughly 62–65 percent of the fatty acids in coconut oil are MCTs — but recently more concentrated “MCT oils” have also been growing in popularity.

Not to get into an abundant amount of chemistry, but the short chain lengths of the MCT oil molecules versus other similar LCT oils, allows for faster absorption into the body and because of their structure they help create ketones that allow for rapid energy improvement and endurance. This is why athletes and post-surgery patients are especially keen on these oils. Also, in addition to low calorie content, MCTs are not stored in body fat the same way other oils are and they have been shown to enhance thermogenesis (the production of heat/energy in the body) . This combination induces that MCT oils are great for promoting weight loss and evening out your appetite.

Other advantages of the oils are that they can help with clearer thinking, better immune function and post- workout recovery. I was introduced to these by Joe Rogan on his podcast recently and my husband got us a bottle at Whole Foods to try. So we have started adding a tablespoon every morning to our coffee and day 3- I have to see I am noticing a huge improvement in the energy boost. I am going to try it for a post-workout add-in for my Shakeology later today! MCT

How Medium-chain fatty acids can help you:

  • Maintain a healthy weight — since they make you feel full
  • Specifically reduce stored body fat — since they also raise your metabolic function
  • Have more energy
  • Think more clearly
  • Experience better digestion
  • Balance hormone levels
  • Improve your mood
  • Fight bacterial infection and viruses
  • Absorb fat-soluble nutrients from various foods

***Warning, tread lightly when you try this for the first time, friends! I had no issues but some people have a “speedy digestive” response!***

Sources:

6 Health Benefits of MCT Oil — Is It Better than Coconut Oil?

Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCTs)

https://www.onnit.com/emulsified-mct-oil/

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The Protein to Include in Every Diet: Shrimp

I know one thing I can always make for dinner and I’m happy, the husband is happy, and its easy to add to almost any dish- shrimp. Luckily, it’s also an amazing source of protein. In my clean eating groups on Facebook I try to highlight this for all the seafood lovers out there. A frozen bag will do but you can usually get a good deal on it at the grocery store if you look! One article I found on a cancer survivor’s meal guide that had these nifty facts:

  • Shrimp are an excellent source of selenium(essential trace mineral important for cognitive function, a healthy immune system and fertility for both men and women)
  • Shrimp are unusually low-fat, low-calorie protein
  • A four ounce serving of shrimp supplies 23.7 grams of protein (that’s 47.4% of the daily value for protein) for a mere 112 calories and less than a gram of fat
  • Shrimp also are a very good source of vitamin D and vitamin B12

 

Nutrition aside, the variety of ways to cook and prepare shrimp are boundless (cue Bubba from Forest Gump recipe ideas!). Whether steamed shrimp and cocktail sauce is the perfect appetizer or you crave a decadent pasta dish – with healthy trade-offs and portion control you CAN eat that on a diet. I chose a few recipes to share that are both healthy and unique and I look forward to trying a few in the coming weeks so I welcome comments and suggestions as well!

 Shrimp Salad Stuffed Avocados

shrimp stuffed-avocadod

Ingredients

  • 2 avocados, pitted
  • 2 tbsp. Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 lb. raw, de-veined shrimp (fresh or frozen)
  • 1 c. cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 c. corn (fresh, frozen, or canned)
  • 1/4 c. Greek yogurt
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Basil, for garnish

Preparation

  1. Scoop out avocados, leaving a small border. Dice avocado and set aside.
  2. In a skillet over medium-high heat, heat olive oil. Add shrimp and cook until fully cooked through, 5-7 minutes. Let cool, then chop into bite-size pieces.
  3. In a large bowl, toss diced avocado with shrimp, tomatoes, corn, greek yogurt, and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Divide salad among 4 avocado halves. Garnish with basil.

 

Shrimp Curry

shrimp

Ingredients

  • 1 large onion, quartered
  • 1 (2-inch-long) piece fresh ginger, peeled
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder (preferably Madras)
  • 1 to 2 fresh serrano chiles, halved lengthwise
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 (14-oz) can unsweetened coconut milk (not low fat)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • 1 lb large shrimp in shell (21 to 25 per lb)
  • Accompaniment: cooked basmati rice
  • Garnish: lime wedge

Preparation

  1. Pulse onion and ginger in a food processor until finely chopped. Cook onion mixture with salt and sugar in oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderate heat, stirring frequently, until onion begins to brown, about 5 minutes. Stir in curry powder and chiles and cook, stirring frequently, 2 minutes. Stir in water, coconut milk, and lime juice and simmer, stirring occasionally, until thickened, 5 to 8 minutes.
  2. While sauce simmers, peel shrimp (devein if desired) and season with salt and pepper. Add shrimp to sauce and simmer, stirring occasionally, until shrimp are just cooked through, about 3 minutes. Add salt to taste and serve immediately.
Garlicky Grilled Shrimp and Couscous
shrimp-2
Ingredients
Marinade
  • 1½ lbs. jumbo shrimp, cleaned + deveined, shells removed
  • 1 garlic clove, grated
  • 1 tbsp. white wine
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
Garlic butter sauce
  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • 1 garlic clove, grated
  • ¼ c. white wine
Couscous salad
  • 1 c. dry whole wheat couscous
  • 2 ears of corn, cleaned
  • ½ English cucumber, thinly sliced
Lemon vinaigrette
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • ⅓ c. roughly chopped parsley
  • salt + pepper to taste
*Because the couscous salad needs a little time to chill, make sure to start that first before you grill the shrimp.
Preparation
  1. For the couscous salad, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the corn and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Using tongs, remove the corn and place onto a cutting board; do not discard the water. When cool enough to handle, shave the kernels off the cob.
  2. In a large bowl, add the dry couscous. Cover with 1 cup of the reserved hot cooking water. Cover with plastic wrap and let it sit for about 5 minutes. When ready, drizzle with olive oil and fluff with a fork to prevent sticking. Spread out onto a rimmed baking sheet to cool.
  3. For the vinaigrette, add the lemon juice to a small bowl and slowly whisk in the olive oil to emulsify. Add the parsley, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
  4. To finish the salad, add the cooled couscous, corn, and cucumbers to a bowl. Pour over the vinaigrette. Mix well to combine and chill before serving.
  5. For the marinade, place the shrimp, garlic, white wine and olive in a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Marinate for up to 15 minutes (any longer and the shrimp will get rubbery).
  6. Preheat the grill to medium heat. Grill the shrimp for about 3-4 minutes on each size. Grill time will vary depending on the size of your shrimp. Transfer to a platter.
  7. To make the sauce, add the butter, white wine, and garlic to a small pan over low heat. When the butter is melted, and the garlic is fragrant remove from the heat.
  8. To serve, pour the garlic butter sauce over the grilled shrimp. Arrange the couscous salad on the side with extra lemon and olive oil, if desired.

Sources:

http://www.delish.com/cooking/recipe-ideas/g3235/healthy-shrimp-recipes/?slide=1

http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/shrimp-curry-231646

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/08/13/shrimp-recipes_n_1367998.html

The White Sofa: Mom’s Best Friend

So you read this title and think I’m crazy …right!? Everyone knows white and kids (or dogs or husbands) don’t go together, but I’m telling you it’s amazing. I thank Ikea for the best $850 I ever spent on furniture, the EKTORP. This baby is a knockoff of the $4500 Pottery Barn slip cover sofa seen in many magazine-worthy living rooms and I feel like I stole it.

Here’s mine, shown in the image above- my husky in the foreground lays on this thing more than I do, my 9 month old pukes on it, spills bottles and has spilled juice on it over and over. My husband and I, also guilty, are constantly eating here in front of the TV. Did I mention I’ve slept on this thing for almost a year straight between pregnancy discomfort where I had to sleep sitting up for months on end and then having a baby that doesn’t like to sleep unless rocked and cuddled every hour. So it should be worn out and beige if not dark brown by now

The secret, you ask? Removable slip covers! I was in awe, finding this off of another mom blog and thinking it was a good price and worth a try. I too, feared the hassle of removing the slipcovers and making time to wash them but after 2-3 times of getting the hang of it I can now remove them in 5 minutes, wash them in 2 loads of laundry (they don’t shrink and you can bleach them or sun bleach them) AND putting them back on I can knock out in 10-15 minutes. I’ve washed these every other month for a year and I took this picture last night.. feeling the love for Ikea right here. Happy mommy.

EKTORP IKEA Couch:  http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/S89129151/#/S69129152

Your Fork: NOT the Enemy

We all have had a moment where we have the fork in our hands looking at a delectable dish, mouthwatering and we are ready to DIG IN. The problem comes with the associated guilt we have either before (while looking through that menu gazing beautifully back at us), during (that moment is now..that fork is your hand ready to go) or even after (you are full, maybe too full…oh maybe you shouldn’t have..).  Why is this?? When did this start exactly? Well according to nutritionist, Lynn Penrose, this is a recent construct of society and in extreme forms it’s actually considered an eating disorder. Penrose states it is in fact a direct creation of the media.

All stemming from labels of food as “good”, “bad”, “healthy” or “unhealthy” we envision that we are in breach of some white and black eating regimen and shame ourselves. This persists and grows subconsciously in us because those labels continue to surround us in every form- tv, articles, blogs like this, until we are repeating it ourselves. This manifests itself into behaviors around avoiding things when really it’s quite obvious, of COURSE you can eat dessert! All in moderation. Moderation is a scary word for many and it can be a challenge to know what that point is for our own mental health. I think those that suffer with obesity and other eating disorders can benefit from positive reinforcement which, as a woman, I hope to share more often. That positive reinforcement shouldn’t be “no don’t eat that” but “yes, you had a tasty bite (or two or maybe three) but you didn’t eat the whole pie”.

The next time you and your fork are hand-in-hand oh so in love with the plate awaiting you- resist that guilt and let go for a minute. Hey, that’s what exercise is for anyways!
Fork

 

**Credits: http://www.hercampus.com/health/new-eating-disorder-you-might-not-realize-you-have-food-guilt?page=2**

Image: Shutterstock