Vitamin Z

Posted on July 01

I know you have a lot on your plate. You are juggling many things, and it often feels like the only way to "do it all" is by sacrificing sleep. You often think, "Who needs their ZZZ's when caffeine keeps me going?" It can be tempting to burn the midnight oil to reach work deadlines and balance family life. Yet the truth remains, no matter how much man has tried to outsmart the need for vitamin Z, sleep deprivation can wreak serious havoc on your health.

What is vitamin Z? While it is not a vitamin you'll find in your food or a supplement you can buy, it is essential for a healthy mind and body. If you haven't figured it out yet, vitamin Z is sleep, and you need 7 - 9 hours every night.

Sleep is when your body repairs and rebuilds. A well-rested body makes better food choices, has more energy, craves less sugar, and manages life better. In contrast, sleep deprivation causes a rise in cortisol levels, which impacts hunger and stress levels. Without enough vitamin Z, the bottom line is you're more likely to make unhealthy food and lifestyle choices to keep you going.  

Read on to learn more about why getting your vitamin Z is fundamental for a healthy mind, body, and soul!

Vitamin Z for a Healthy Weight

RDA for Vitamin Z (according to National Sleep Foundation Guidelines for teens and adults):
Teens (ages 14 - 17): 8 - 10 hours sleep / night
Adults (ages 18 - 64): 7 - 9 hours sleep / night
Adults (ages 64 and up): 7 - 8 hours sleep / night

Sleep and Your Weight:
It's no secret sleep makes just about everything better, including your weight. Research has found that people who sleep more tend to maintain lower body weight.

The less you sleep, the greater the risks for obesity.
  • 6 hours of sleep increases risk by 23%
  • 5 hours of sleep increases risk by 50%
  • 4 hours of sleep increases risk by 73%

Have you ever ever noticed that when you are tired, you crave more sugar and fat? Being sleep-deprived messes up the hormones that regulate hunger, causing an increase in appetite and cravings for high calorie, high carbohydrate foods (aka, sugar and fat!).

One study found that sleep-deprived women ate 329 more calories per day than when rested. However, sleeping 7 hours or more per night increased the likelihood of losing weight and keeping it off by 33 percent.

What about occasionally skimping on sleep?
Researchers found that after only two nights of sleeping 4 hours, participants experienced an 18% drop in leptin and a 28% increase in ghrelin. Leptin is the hormone that tells your body to stop eating, whereas the ghrelin hormone tells you to eat more! Keep in mind that this was only after two nights. Imagine what happens to your hormone levels the more sleep-deprived you become?

Bottom Line: Sleep and Your Health
Sleep is not only crucial for balancing your hormones and weight, but it's necessary to fight off infections, boost your immune system, and promote healthy skin!
7 Tips for Creating Healthy Sleep Habits
  1. Consistency is Key: Your body likes to follow a routine; therefore, try to go to bed and wake up at the same time. While this can be challenging at times, the more you practice it, the more you will find your body craves a consistent schedule.
  2. Exercise: Go ahead and add a sleep enhancer to the list of benefits your body reaps from participating in regular physical activity! Exercise outside and soak up the sunshine for a bonus. Frequent exposure to the sun helps to keep circadian rhythm in tune!
  3. Create a Bedtime Ritual: Maybe it's a hot bath, a cup of warm tea, or a spritz of essential oil on your pillow. An evening ritual will help you relax and unwind as your body prepares for a good night's rest.
  4. Limit Caffeine: For the best night's sleep, limit consumption of caffeine-containing drinks and food after noon.
  5. Avoid Alcohol: Alcohol interrupts the body's sleep cycle. Therefore, it's best to avoid alcohol within five hours of bedtime.
  6. Escape the Electronics: From television to smartphones and every electronic in between, these devices can hinder a good night's rest. If sleep is a struggle and electronics are part of your evening routine, it's time to create a new escape. Try replacing television time with a good old-fashioned book!
  7. Practice Gratitude: End the day by unwinding with a daily gratitude practice. Using a breathing exercise, let your mind reflect on something you are grateful for while breathing in for a count of 8 and out for a count of 8.
Featured Recipe
Cherry-Infused Sleepytime Tea

Chamomile tea has long been used as a remedy to unwind and prepare your body for a good night's rest. This recipe will take it a step further by adding a dose of natural melatonin from tart cherry juice. Enjoy!


  • 6 - 8 ounces chamomile tea
  • 2 ounces tart cherry juice
  • 1 tsp honey (optional)
  • 1 tsp lemon juice (optional)

Instructions: Brew tea according to instructions. In a small saucepan, warm tart cherry juice over medium-low heat. Combine tea and tart cherry juice, add in honey and lemon juice if desired. Sip and enjoy!

Garlic Parmesan Kale Chips

Posted on June 28


  • 5 ounces raw kale, washed and dried (about 6 cups) tough stems removed, if desired. Use bagged, chopped kale if desired.
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese or more to taste


If you’re using whole kale leaves, chop or slice the kale into about 2-inch pieces. Place the kale in a mixing bowl. Pour the olive oil over, and sprinkle with salt and garlic powder.

Gently toss the kale and massage the salt and garlic powder into the kale. Make sure everything is coated with the oil.

Place the kale into the air fryer basket. Set the temperature to 300 °F and the timer for 9 minutes. Open the air fryer and toss the kale with tongs after about 5 minutes. Check it as it gets close to the finishing point to make sure it’s not overcooked.

Empty the cooked kale chips into the mixing bowl, sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and let cool for about 2 minutes.


Watermelon Summer Cooler for CKD

Posted on June 22
1 cup crushed ice
1 cup seedless watermelon cubes
2 teaspoons lime juice
1 tablespoon sugar or Stevia, Truvia or Monk Fruit
2 small watermelon wedges for garnish
Place all ingredients except garnish wedges in a blender and blend for 30 seconds.
Pour into 2 small glasses, garnish with wedges and enjoy!
Helpful Hints
Watermelons vary in sweetness. Adjust by adding more sweetener if needed.
For fluid restricted diets, enjoy a serving of Watermelon Summer Cooler now and freeze one serving for later. Remove from freezer 10 to 15 minutes before serving.
If sugar substitute is used instead of sugar, the carbohydrate is reduced to 6 grams and 26 calories per 6 ounce serving.
Nutrients per serving:
Calories 52
Protein 0 g
Carbohydrates 13 g
Fat 0 g
Sodium 1 mg
Potassium 96 mg
Phosphorus 9 mg
Calcium 6 mg
Fiber 0.3 g
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Gluten Free/Low Carb Bread

Posted on June 10
I found this at Whole Foods Market in the freezer.
It actually toasts well and can be a part of your low carb and gluten free lifestyle. ????
GF Carbonaut Bread

Cucumber Watermelon Salad

Posted on June 08
2 tablespoons lime juice
2 tbsp granulated Truvia
½ teaspoon salt
¼ cup minced fresh parsley
2 medium unpeeled cucumbers, washed, ends removed, sliced lengthwise then sliced crosswise
3 cups watermelon, cut in 1-inch cubes (about 1 pound)
Combine the lime juice, Truvia and salt in a 2-quart bowl; whisk together. Stir in parsley.
Add cucumbers; toss with a rubber spatula, coating all cucumber pieces. Add watermelon; fold in gently.
Cover, set aside and allow juice from the watermelon to mix with the other juices. Stir gently and let stand at room temperature 1 hour before serving.

Importance of Fiber

Posted on June 03
Fiber plays a key role in our health. Many people think it's only for improving bowel movements, but research has taught us that it does so much more! What we GIVE to our gut microbiome is associated with the ability to shift our immune responses, satiety, blood sugar and cholesterol, and even help with mood and behavior.
Are you eating adequate fiber each day? More than 90 percent of women and 97 percent of men do not meet recommended intakes of dietary fiber. Fiber needs can range from 25 grams to 35 grams per day.
Here are some tips for increasing your daily fiber intake, such as:
-Add more whole, plant-based foods, such as vegetables, fruits, and low sugar/high fiber grains
-Learn the fiber content of the foods you consume
-Supplement with psyllium husk as a helpful source of functional fiber
-Incorporate legumes and pulses into your meals

Watermelon ...

Posted on June 01
I don’t know about you, but there is nothing better than cutting into a fresh and juicy watermelon!
More than just a delicious and pretty fruit, watermelon is rich in nutrients, is sustainable, and an economical and nutritious treat.
But the following questions come up from many people: Is watermelon really good for me? How do I pick the right watermelon? What else can I do with watermelon besides cutting and eating it?
Natural Wonders of Watermelon
Nutrient-packed. Two cups of watermelon contain 80 calories, vitamin A, vitamin B6, vitamin C, potassium, magnesium, thiamine, phosphorus.
Natural source of protein: Yup, you read that correctly! One ounce of sprouted, shelled, and dried watermelon seeds delivers 10 grams of protein.
Powerful disease fighter. Watermelon contains higher amounts of lycopene than any other fresh fruit or vegetables. Lycopene is an antioxidant associated with reducing risks for metabolic syndrome, cancer, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes.
Promotes healthy skin. Lycopene and vitamin A, found in watermelon, supports healthy skin. Lycopene may contribute to healthy skin by protecting the skin from sunlight and UV rays. Vitamin A may help build and maintain collagen, and the high water content helps keep skin moisturized.
Immune boosting. Rich in vitamin C, watermelon can help boost immunity against viruses.
Enhance sports performance. Naturally rich in carbohydrates, watermelon gives a pre-workout energy boost. Also, the potassium in watermelon can help with water balance and muscle cramps.
Reduce muscle soreness. Watermelon is a natural source of L-citrulline, an amino acid associated with improved vascular function through increased L-arginine bioavailability and nitric oxide synthesis. One small study found a positive association between watermelon juice and reduced muscle soreness 24 hours after exercise.
Hydrating. At 92% water content, watermelon is a delicious way to hydrate.
Sustainable. 100% of watermelon is usable and compostable, making it easy to keep out of landfills and reduce carbon emissions.
High Value. Watermelon delivers a powerful bang for your buck; depending on the size, one watermelon can serve one to three dozen people!
Watermelon 101: More Tips on Finding & Serving the Perfect Watermelon
Look it over. Choose a watermelon that is firm and free of bruises and soft spots.
Lift it. The watermelon should feel heavy for its size.
Turn it over. There should be a creamy yellow spot on the underside of the watermelon, showing it sat on the ground and ripened in the sun.
Besides cutting and eating, how else can I serve watermelon?
A few unconventional ways to serve watermelon include:
Pair with tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, feta, mint, and a balsamic vinaigrette for a refreshing salad.
Dehydrate and turn fresh fruit into watermelon jerky.
Toss watermelon seeds with a bit of olive oil, sea salt; roast, and enjoy as a tasty snack.
Pickle, stir fry or ferment the rind.

Is Intermittent Fasting a Good Fit?

Posted on May 26
Use the following information as a starting point to decide whether intermittent fasting (IF) may work for you.
Positive indicators. IF may be a good fit for you if you want to...
- improve body awareness and hunger/fullness cues
-explore life without strong food attachments
-work toward the potential health benefits of the practice
-enhance an existing health-supportive lifestyle
Contraindications. IF is not meant for those who are...
-younger than 23 or older than 75
-pregnant or breastfeeding
-diagnosed with advanced type 1 diabetes
-struggling with a chronic sleep disorder
-challenged with an eating disorder or trying to counteract poor eating habits
-predisposed to taking practices, including healthy ones, to an unhealthy extreme

Salmon with Blueberry Sauce

Posted on May 25

4 (5–6 oz) salmon fillets

2 t olive oil

2 shallots, finely chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 t minced fresh ginger

2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries

3 t balsamic vinegar

2 t honey

2 t fresh thyme

2 t lemon zest

1/4 t cinnamon

1/4 t salt

1/4 t black pepper

2 T chopped fresh chives

Preheat oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Place salmon on a greased or parchment paper–lined baking sheet and season with salt and pepper. Bake for 15–18 minutes or until fish is just barely cooked through in the centre.

Meanwhile, heat oil in a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat. Add shallots, garlic and ginger to pan and heat 2 minutes. Place blueberries, thyme, honey, lemon zest, cinnamon, 1 teaspoon of vinegar, salt and pepper to the pan. Bring to boil, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, for 15 minutes. Stir in the remaining 2 teaspoons of vinegar.

Serve salmon topped with blueberry sauce and garnished with chives.


Protein in Food ...

Posted on May 19
Are you worried you are not getting enough protein?
Let's break down how easy it can be to get in adequate protein.
If you need 80 grams of protein per day, what does that look like?
Breakfast: 2 eggs = 12 grams
Lunch: 4 oz chicken = 28 grams
Dinner 6 oz salmon =  39 grams
This totals 79 grams and remember you are also getting protein from vegetables, nuts, seeds, whole grains, beans, lentils, etc....

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