How Much (if Any!) Meat Should We Really Eat?

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Meat is controversial; from raw vegans to hard core paleo dieters, there are arguments for both sides of the spectrum from health and environmental points of view. As a nutritionist, meat eaters often assume that I am vegetarian and plant-eaters worry that I am not. In truth, I'm neither. RASA was founded on the belief that we are all unique individuals; we have different preferences, lifestyles and moral/ethical values. Vegetables are my favorite food, so if you’re vegetarian/vegan and feeling good, keep doing that. I’m into it! 

Biologically speaking, humans are omnivores and benefit from eating some animal protein, whether it be from fish, poultry, eggs, red meat or dairy. But when it comes to eating meat, I have saying: eat better, eat less. Here’s why:

QUALITY MATTERS!

It matters so so much. The food industry (especially in the US) is f*ed up, and we eat what the animals we eat ate. If you don’t want to eat genetically modified corn and soybeans, you shouldn’t eat animals that were fed that. So if you’re not 100% sure of the quality, I would say you’re better off not eating it. Here is what to look for when buying animal products:

  • Seafood: Wild fish and seafood ONLY! Nothing farmed. The Monterey Bay Aquarium is an excellent resource to learn more about the quality of seafood, what to buy and what to avoid, and includes informational on the environmental impact on seafood consumption.
  • Eggs: Buying eggs is like going to the bookstore, so many covers/labels, it’s insane (WHY???). Look for organic, pasture-raised eggs. They do not need to be vegetarian (chickens are omnivores, just like us), or porch raised or free range…look specifically for pasture-raised. The yolk should be bright orange.
  • Poultry: When buying chicken or duck, you should also look out for organic, pasture-raised animals. Free range means nothing.
  • Meat: For red meat, look for all grass fed. Unfortunately, the label “grass fed” can literally mean that the animal was fed grass once in its life. Horrible and shameful, if you ask me. Cows were meant to eat grass. The meat from grass fed cows is high in anti-inflammatory omega 3 fatty acids, while the meat from cows fed corn, soy and hormones is full of highly inflammatory omega 6 fatty acids.

EAT LESS

We need some animal protein, but not as much as you might think. Our body is constantly breakdown and rebuilding, and protein plays an important role in pretty much every single biological process and cell. Your vegan friends are right: vegetables are full of protein too! Nuts, seeds, legumes, even broccoli are all great sources of protein. These awesome foods don’t, however, provide all the essential amino acids (i.e. the ones our body can’t make on its own), so we need to supplement our vibrant plant-based diet with a little animal protein. The best way to think of meat is as a condiment, not the main event. So how much is that? I would say 3 ounces or less per meal (about the size of a deck of cards) and not necessarily with every meal. 

Bottom line: if you eat meat, be mindful of the quality and don’t go overboard. Paying attention to the quality and quantity of your meat intake is not just good for your body, but for the environment as well. I love roasting a chicken and having it for the week. It’s economical, delicious and the bones can be used for broth. Here is my perfect roast chicken recipe from the spring RASA Challenge.

 

 

Perfect Roast Chicken

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Roasting a chicken can be intimidating, but it’s actually really easy and great for leftovers. Make sure to buy organic, pasture raised chicken and save your bones for broth!

PERFECT ROAST CHICKEN

Serves 4
Prep Time: 1 hour

INGREDIENTS

1 organic, pasture raised chicken

½ cup coconut oil or ghee, melted

1 lemon

½ head garlic

Fresh rosemary sprigs (optional)

Salt and pepper

MAKE IT!

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Take chicken out of the fridge to prep and get up to room temperature before cooking.

Place chicken on a cutting board. Pat dry with a paper towel. The dryer the chicken the crispier it will get.  Using a sharp knife, and with the chicken breast side up, cut the loose skin between the breast and the leg so that the chicken can lay flat. Next, generously season with salt and pepper. Really get in there, making sure to season both sides of the chicken and the cavity. 

Place chicken in a cast iron skillet or roasting pan. Cut a lemon and head of garlic in half. Place half of the garlic head and both sides of the lemon alongside the chicken. Add fresh rosemary, if using. Cover with melted coconut oil or ghee.

Roast for about 45 minutes, or until the chicken is nice and brown and the juices run clear. If the juices are still a little pink, cook a bit longer, checking every 5 minutes.

Let the chicken rest for about 10 minutes after taking out of the oven. You can eat it right away with roasted garlic and lemon, or cool and keep in the fridge for 2-3 days. Don't forget to save your bones for broth!

 
 

Why You Should Eat Chocolate. Like Every Day.

In case you didn't know what a cacao bean looks like! (via Pinterest)

In case you didn't know what a cacao bean looks like! (via Pinterest)

Ancient Mayans referred to cacao as the “food of the gods”. And no, it’s not just because of its seriously delicious taste. Cacao beans—the base for chocolate, as you may know—are loaded with fiber and nutrients, like iron, copper, manganese, potassium, zinc and more.

Well that’s good news, right? But what do all these “healthy” things do? Here are just a few of the benefits of adding chocolate to your diet.

A mega source of antioxidants.

More than blueberries, in fact! Studies show that antioxidants protect cells from free radicals that contribute to aging. I'll eat to that.

Good for your heart!

Cacao has been proven to improve circulation, lower blood pressure and cholesterol.

Protect your skin from sun damage.

The flavanols (aka plant-based nutrients) in cacao beans increases blood flow to the skin, shielding it from sun-induced damage.

Improve your gut health.

Your gut has good bacteria and bad bacteria. The good bacteria really like to feast on dark chocolate, which helps them grow and protect your gut.

Be happier!

For real, though—cacao increases production of serotonin, which explains why we crave more chocolate during the winter months, when we get less sunlight and Vitamin D.

Before you hit up the candy aisle, make sure to choose your chocolate wisely!

To get the maximum health benefits from your chocolate bar, buy organic (preferably raw) dark chocolate without additives like dairy or processed sugar. Be sure to read the ingredients, and trust me: you will soon start craving the good stuff not just because of its nutritional value, but also for its taste.

A few of my favorite brands of chocolate bars are: Raiz The Bar, Pana, AlterEco Foods, Green & Blacks and Theo.

Raw cacao (powder and nibs!) are a pantry staple in my home, and used in everything from smoothies to hot drinks and baking.

In honor of the almighty bean, here is one of my favorite recipes using raw cacao.

CHOCOLATE CHERRY NO BAKE COOKIES

Prep: 15 minutes (plus 30 minutes to chill)

gluten free vegan chocolate cherry cookies

Makes about 10 cookies

INGREDIENTS

  • ⅓ cup raw cocoa powder
  • ¼ cup raw agave nectar or maple syrup
  • ¼ cup unsweetened almond milk
  • ¼ cup coconut oil
  • ¼ cup almond butter
  • 1 ½ cups gluten-free oats
  • ⅓ cup shredded coconut
  • ¼ cup raw cacao nibs
  • ¼ cup dried cherries, diced
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Pinch of Maldon sea salt

MAKE IT!

Start by mixing agave or maple syrup and cacao powder in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil and stir until fully combined.

Remove from heat and add remaining ingredients, stirring until the dough is completely mixed together. Then spoon one tablespoon of dough onto a baking sheet or platter lined with parchment paper and form into a flat disc.

Chill in the fridge for 30 minutes before eating.

NOTES

  • These bad boys are totally customizable—use any nut butter, dairy free milk and dried fruit that you like (or have in your pantry already).
  • You can also make them into energy balls instead of cookies.
  • Great for traveling or as an “on-the-go” snack.

If you're looking for more healthy, delicious dessert recipes. Check out my ebook

xx Mia

Now For Some Good News: You Should Probably Eat More

But Before You House That Box Of Double Stuffed Oreos, Read This.

via Pinterest

via Pinterest

Our culture is obsessed with being thin, so it’s only natural that many of us are conscience about not eating too much. Eat less, weigh less—aside from totally sucking, it sounds pretty simple, right? Not so fast, friends.  

Undereating is real! Dare I suggest that this is one of the most common diet issues facing both men and women today. Not only can undereating cause serious health issues, from bone deterioration to infertility, but not eating enough can actually inhibit fat loss (gasp!) and totally screw up your metabolism.

There are two types of undereaters.

The first is someone who consumes a lot of calories, but is not getting enough nutrients. These “empty” calories normally come from sugar, processed foods, alcohol and having too much of one thing (i.e. too much protein at one sitting or only eating one type of food).

The second is someone who just doesn’t eat enough to sustain their lifestyle. People who fall into category number two are often trying to lose weight and hitting the gym hard.

Before we move on, let’s clear up a couple of myths about calories:

1.     Consuming 1200 calories as day is not some magic weight loss formula for women. We all need to get over that. Like stat.

2.     Not all calories were created equal (cue undereater #1). 100 calories worth of Doritos is not equivalent to 100 calories worth of apples. Your body breaks down (or attempts to break down) these foods very differently.

3.     If you are working out and burning calories, your body needs food to recover. If you are overtraining and undereating you will naturally begin to burn muscle and conserve fat.

Worried that you might be an undereater? Here are a few signs:

1.     You’re trying to lose weight and the scale is not budging: your body is literally clutching to that fat like a mother to a newborn baby and your muscles are unable to build.

2.     You can’t get pregnant or are not getting your period: enough said.

3.     You’re cold all the time: OK, you can also be cold for other reasons, like if you live in Antartica, but if you're still cold in Miami that might be an indicator. 

4.     Moodiness: also known as being a HANGRY B****!

5.     Fatigue: your body needs fuel so you will have energy to do all of your things.

So how much do you need to eat?

We’re all different, but think in terms of quality, not quantity. It is very hard to eat 2000 calories of vegetables in one day. Try it, I dare you. Eat real foods—and plenty of them—and you’ll never have to worry about overeating.

I recommend 4-5 smaller meals per day with protein and vegetables to ensure your body is getting a steady stream of nutrients. You can only take in so many nutrients at once, so spacing it out over smaller meals is a good way to make all your calories count.  

If you think you might be an undereater and are in need of a new routine, give me a shout. I offer custom meal plans and health coaching packages to address just this.

OK…now run to the fridge and have a celebratory spoonful of peanut butter (or two). 

Xx Mia

Take The RASA Challenge: 10 Reasons to Get Involved

Yes, you can eat all this on The RASA Challenge! 

Yes, you can eat all this on The RASA Challenge! 

Everyone is burnt out after the holidays, which is really no way to start something, much less set the tone for a new year of life. Travel, family, endless amounts of Christmas cookies and egg nog, that’s a lot to recover from. It’s like running a marathon with a massive hangover or trying to ride a bike with a flat tire. How are you supposed to do that?

No wonder so many of us have the same vague New Year’s resolution year after year. We’re freaking tired and afraid, too lazy or just unsure how to make the steps necessary for real change to occur.

Commitment is tough. Especially when there is no obligation to anyone but yourself. But this year, I’m asking you to be selfish; to say no to the things you truly don’t want to do; to stop saying “yeah, we should totally hang out”, when you know you never will; to commit yourself to a year of positive change.

The RASA Challenge is a 21 day whole foods program developed to clean up your body and your mind, change your relationship with food, curb cravings, create healthier habits and find a diet that suits your unique biological makeup and lifestyle.

Expect to feel awesome: lose unwanted weight, clear your skin, decrease stress, feel more energetic and productive. As a byproduct of all this, you will improve your relationships, your career, your confidence and so much more.

They say one person’s medicine is another’s poison, and this is SO true. We’re all different; we have different DNA, different upbringings and different daily routines. The key to optimal health is finding what works for you, not what works for someone else.

2016 has been weird and wonderful at the same time, but it’s almost over, so let’s start fresh. Enjoy your yule log and peppermint lattes, because January is a new year.

Still not convinced? Here are 10 reasons to get involved:

1. Clear Your Mind

Clean food, clean thoughts. It’s really as simple as that.

2. Declutter

Why does it feel so good to throw things out? The Challenge 21 days, which gives you enough time to throw out old magazines, clothes you haven’t worn in ages, clean out that drawer you put random stuff in...you know what I mean.

3. Set Goals

Give yourself some time to figure out what you really want and how to get it.

4. Eat With Intention

The first step in changing your relationship with food is thinking about what you eat.

5. Heal

The human body is capable of amazing things—give it some space to do just that.

6. Reduce Inflammation

This is a hot health topic these days, friends, and super important for long term health. If you not sure why, read about it here.

7. Look Better

Lose unwanted weight, clear your skin, slap a smile on that mug….

8. Get Your Mojo Back

Sometimes we just need to slow down before we can speed up again.

9. Learn About Your Body

We all are beautiful and unique beings. Take the time to learn what serves you and what really doesn’t.

10. Kick Ass

2017 is yours for the taking! Start off on the right foot—rested, energized, confident, focused. You got this.

Find more information or sign up here.

Xx Mia