Friday Faves: Summer Smoothies

Summertime is coming in hot across the country right now (see what I did there, hehe) and that means breakfast and snack time need refreshing makeovers. We love smoothies all year round, but especially when it’s 80 degrees already at 9 am, ain’t nobody wanna be slaving over a splattering pan of bacon and eggs.

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Photo by Suzy Hazelwood on Pexels.com

Smoothies offer densely packed nutrition, portability and refreshing yum-factor, it’s a win-win-win. It helps to do a little on-the-fly prep as your week goes by. Whatever extra fruit you have lying around about to go bad, chop it up and freeze it. Bananas (obvi), melon, berries, pineapple, mango and watermelon are all great frozen additions. OJ been sitting around for a while? Toss it in an ice-cube tray for future smoothies.

Here are some faves! Fire up that blender and enjoy.

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Photo by Kaboompics .com on Pexels.com

PB&J Smoothie

This is Annie’s OG smoothie from back in medical school and is still her go-to for a filling breakfast. You can make it thicker and have it as a smoothie-bowl with some nuts and fresh berries on top also. All measurements are super-approximate, I don’t actually measure anything.

3/4 Cup Frozen Organic Mixed Berries (I usually get from Costco)
1 small frozen banana
1.5 C spinach or kale
1 C Cashew milk (or any other creamy substance you like)
1 heaping TBS cashew, almond or peanut butter
Optional 1/2 C plain whole-fat yogurt
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Photo by Oleksandr Pidvalnyi on Pexels.com

Watermelon-Cucumber Refresher

Ultimate afternoon pick-me-up right here. Not super filling – great for after workout or if you didn’t quite eat enough of your kids’ leftover dino-nuggets at lunch to get you through till dinner 😉 It’s super hydrating and also packed with great vitamins with the watermelon and cucumber combo.

This one also makes a great alcoholic slushie if you cut out the yogurt and add a shot of vodka or gin instead.

1 C frozen watermelon chunks

1/2 C roughly chopped cucumber – if bitter, skin mostly removed

1/2 C plain whole milk yogurt

1 TBS fresh mint

Enough OJ or pineapple juice to be able to blend – the watermelon has a lot of water, so you won’t need much, start with 1/2 C.

Bonus Boosts

For added protein boost to any smoothie, consider throwing in a scoop of healthy protein powder.  Annie’s fave is NanoPro Vanilla Protein powder, Margo’s prefers Arbonne Vanilla Protein and Kristy’s go-to is Ascent Native Whey Protein Powder.

You can also add a super-food powder such as Youth Factor powder by Nerium or Lifeguard Greens to get a huge boost of anti-oxidant power.

Hope you all have fun getting your blend on this weekend! xoxo, Lockers To Littles crew.

Dr. Annie Answers: Getting Pregnant

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It’s kinda crazy to me that a lot of us spend so much of our lives worrying about NOT getting pregnant and then you go straight from that to worrying about getting pregnant. This, like many issues addressed here, can be influenced by many personal health issues. Talk about it with YOUR doctor. I’m just here to give some basic info. This advice also is less applicable if you’re using a sperm donor or other fertility treatments for any reason, but some of it still applies.

So you think you want to get pregnant…

Number 1: Start a prenatal vitamin. *Ideally* you’re already taking one if you are of childbearing age (aka teens through 40s). If not, start NOW. You should be on a prenatal vitamin at least 3 months, and ideally 1 year before you conceive. What if you’re already trying to conceive? Start now. Better today than next week. Just, the sooner the better.

Which prenatal vitamin is right for me? There are lots of brands, gummy options, drinkable options, etc… to choose from. Find one that you can tolerate taking. The basics it needs to have are 400-1000mcg of folate, 27mg iron, 1000 units vitamin D, and 100mcg iodine. If your diet does not have a lot of healthy omega oils, also get a 1000mg daily DHA/EPA supplement. I personally use Honest company prenatal and DHA.

Talk to your health care provider about any medications you’re taking and if they are safe while trying to conceive. Make sure any chronic health issues such as thyroid problems, diabetes, or high blood pressure have been checked and are in good control. Plan ahead for these!

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This depends a little on what you were using. You CAN get pregnant the month (or week) you stop any form of birth control. So don’t stop using anything unless you are A-OK with being pregnant right away. That being said, hormonal birth control is more likely to have a “wash-out” period where you don’t ovulate regularly and are less likely to conceive. DepoProvera, oral pills (especially if you’re skipping periods), the patch, the nuva-ring and Nexplanon/Implanon all have a 3-6 month expected wash-out. I have seen it take up to a year with Depo. IUDs are less likely to have wash-out, but we wouldn’t be surprised if it took 3 months or so.

So, let’s say you want to get pregnant “sometime in 2019”. Easy. Go off birth control after you have that New Year’s blow-out party. What if you have a more specific window? You can plan to go off birth control 3-6 months in advance of that window, but use condoms to prevent pregnancy until then. Know that condoms are only 85% effective at best and you could still get pregnant earlier than you think. So, if, for example it would be devastating to get pregnant in February (calculate due date from theoretical conception date out here), don’t stop birth control until after that.

How to get pregnant….

SO, um, there are of course some basics here I’m assuming everyone knows about human reproduction. If you’re confused on the what goes where, may I refer you back to wikipedia under “birds and bees”. If you’re not in a relationship where sperm is readily available or you can’t have intercourse for any reason – see a fertility specialist about how to get that all going.

If those exceptions above don’t apply to you… the most reliable way to get pregnant is also the simplest. Have unprotected intercourse every other day from right after your bleeding stops until you start bleeding again. Every. Other. Day. Not every 3 days. Not twice a day (but good for you if this is your issue!). This gives you optimal semen volume and you will never miss your fertile window because it lasts 2-4 days. Boom.

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Now we get to the people who are absolutely opposed to having sex every other day. For some couples, that’s not sustainable over the several months it can take to get pregnant. That’s totally fine! If that’s the case, I usually recommend the Glow Ovulation, Period Tracker App. This lets you track cervical mucus, basal body temperature, ovulation sticks and pregnancy tests, sexy time and everything else about your cycle. Take at least 1 month to track everything while still using condoms so you get some understanding of your cycle.

Then, go for that fertile window! Again, sex every other day or daily. What kind of sex? Pretty much whatever. Position doesn’t matter. Ideally, the person trying to conceive should have an orgasm during or after (though there isn’t evidence that this is necessary, it has little down side!). And if you’re gonna use lube, use this lubricant. Chill out for 5-10 minutes after sperm gets in there then go about your business.

Did you say cervical mucus? Sounds so gross, but is actually the easiest way to check if you are fertile. Just look at the TP after you wipe when you go pee. When you’re approaching fertility and fertile, you’ll notice a clear discharge like egg white. When this is super gooey/stretchy – that’s peak fertility. More nitty gritty here.

How long is this going to take?

If you’re under age 35 it is normal to take up to 1 year to get pregnant depending on your health and the health of your partner. Most couples will get pregnant within 3-6 months. If you’re over 35, the timing gets a little more pressured because fertility starts to decline significantly around age 37. In this case, we would usually only give you 6 months before further testing. If you’ve already been trying to conceive for that long – go see your doc.

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Photo cred: FionaMargoPhotography.com

Final note: Don’t sabotage your efforts.

If you’re in the exciting phase of ‘trying to conceive’, don’t do things that are going to stress you out and make it harder or threaten an early pregnancy. Ask your health care provider if any medications you’re taking are safe. Don’t go binge drinking. Don’t smoke marijuana. Don’t smoke anything for that matter. Have your sperm provider avoid hot-tubs, tight underwear and long bike rides. Eat lots of healthy fruits and vegetables and proteins and fats (first trimester is ROUGH ya’ll, you will need those nutrients stocked up). Exercise regularly. Avoid over the counter medicines other than tylenol and tums without asking your healthcare provider. And… enjoy the ride!

ps. Make sure you follow us for an update on my own adventure trying to conceive baby #3 coming soon 😀

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Dr. Annie is a family physician and married mom of 2 in the Sacramento Area.

Dr. Annie Answers: Good fat, bad fat

 

In case you clicked on this post thinking it had to do with body shapes or positive body image – that’s not the fat I’m talking about here. Although, I do fully believe that there is a wide range of healthy body shapes out there and that no person should feel shame about theirs. I digress…

What I’m actually writing about here is the fat we eat. Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last decade, you should be at least a bit aware that ‘trans fats’ are BAD and ‘omega-3 oils’ are GOOD. I’m going to both give you a bit more detail and also simplify it at the same time. **As always, this blog post is meant to give you information and not as personal medical advice since I am not your personal doctor. **

For decades, people with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes or obesity have been told to follow a “healthy low-fat diet”. That is an oxymoron. It turns out, that exact advice has been a huge driving force in the EPIDEMIC rise in all of the above conditions.  We are just now starting to get a grip on the actual data and the conclusion is undeniable: a diet very high in healthy fats and very low in carbohydrates can prevent and reverse that damage. There are a tiny handful of people with specific health conditions in which they have to limit fat intake. You are probably not one of them.

Good fats go into your body and provide steady energy, a vehicle to transport important nutrients and hormones around, and keep your blood vessels and nerves healthy. Bad fats get in there and gum up the machinery, clog those arteries and often carry harmful things in with them. Your body needs a LOT of those good fats, probably more than you think.

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I have to admit, I too was a skeptic for a time. Enter Whole30 diet in which you eat only vegetables, fruits, meats (SO much meat), nuts, seeds and eggs for 30 days and NO grains, legumes, dairy, sweeteners of ANY kind, alcohol, soy or chemical additives. You aren’t supposed to track calories but I was curious – on average I was eating about 100-120 grams of fat per DAY, lots of it saturated. And you know what? I lost 15 pounds and 2 pant sizes and felt like a freaking super-hero by the end. Depression better, sleep better, skin better, energy better. It just works.

So, how is one to navigate this?? There are a few simple rules.

  1. No reduced-fat versions of foods.
  2. Not all fats are created equal, increase the good, limit the bad
  3. If something is high-fat, try to choose the highest-quality.

Want a little more detail? Read on, my friend!

Rule 1: Choose the full-fat version

“Whaaaaaaaaat?”, You say. Not even low-fat yogurt?? No. We are evolved to like the taste of fat. When fat is removed from foods, food manufacturers have to replace it with something – both for the volume lost and also for the flavor. The answer in most cases is carbs/sugar and salt – both of which have a huge body of evidence to show they are harmful. Diabetes, obesity, hypertension, and multiple cancers included in the ‘harm’.

Moreover, when you have less fat, you have to eat more to feel satisfied because of the way hunger signals translate from stomach to brain. That big old bolus of sugar/carbs you ate instead causes an insulin spike that stores away fat in your body (no thank you extra stored fat!) and then crashes into hunger soon after. Higher fat foods, however cause almost no insulin spike. Check out the difference:

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Insulin over time after eating pure carbohydrate vs pure protein vs pure fat.

So, does this mean I can eat bacon and eggs for breakfast, a steak with butter on it for lunch and breatwurst wrapped in more bacon for dinner as part of this healthy low-carb, high fat diet? Um, no. (though there are some interesting studies in which people did just that…). Most people would still say your diet should include plenty of non-starchy plants (aka not potatoes, corn, peas or carrots). Half or more of your plate should be vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, greens, bok-choy, asparagus….. or sometimes fruits like so:

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Rule 2: Know Good vs Bad fats

So which are which? Nuts, seeds and fruits tend to have healthy fats and should be the largest source of your fats. Newsflash: corn (aka Canola), soy, cottonseed, palm fruit and peanut oils do NOT fall in this category. Coconuts, tree nuts, sunflower seeds are great for eating and their oils for cooking.

And, yes, I said fruits. Avocados and olives are fruits with hella good fat content (California joke). Good fats can also come from fatty fish such as salmon, tuna and trout – or for the more adventurous palate, sardines and mackerel. Good quality meats and dairy can also be a great source – more on what “good quality” means below. If you have to buy the cheap cuts – limit these a bit.

The worst fats are the ones humans have done something ‘advanced’ to that alters them. Ask yourself: Is it is a processed ‘food product’ like margarine or Doritos? Bad. Did the animal or plant it came from have it’s natural lifestyle disrupted for mass production? Bad. Did it come from a lab – aka trans fats and hydrogenated oils? SO SO BAD.  Avoid, avoid, avoid. Also, avoid heating liquid oils (canola, olive, avocado, etc..) to high heat as this can create carcinogens (cancer-causers). Better to use coconut, ghee (butter), or animal fat.

Rule 3: Choose High Quality Fats

Some of you might be thinking at this point… is this what that Atkins Diet was saying? Yes and no. The Atkins Diet skims over the high-quality vs low-quality fat delineation and just says: increase fat, lower carbs. This is a good step in the right direction. However, the quality of the fat also matters, and I’ll tell you why.

Most things that we put into our bodies can be categorized in one of 2 ways – fat soluble or water soluble. In a huge simplification, that means that it can get through your gut and into the rest of your body by ‘riding’ on a fat or with water. Vitamin D, for example, is fat-soluble. So you want to take it after eating some fat. Vitamin C, however, is water soluble so can be taken with just water. This also goes for nasty stuff you don’t want in there. Many chemical pesticides, growth hormones, antibiotics and even heavy metals like mercury are concentrated in fats. Furthermore, the good fat to bad fat ratios change dramatically when we take an animal and feed it an ‘unnatural’ diet.

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Happy, healthy cows.

If a cow is fed grass, as nature intended, the fat profile in those rib-eye steaks and that delicious milk is WAY healthier than if they are corn fed. Not only that, because that corn-fed cow was on a diet it’s body wasn’t made for, they are loaded up with hormones and antibiotics which ride on in to your system with that fat. Note: organic doesn’t mean grass fed, but is still better than non-organic.

Where your budget allows, buy these top quality fats. Organic olive oil and avocado oil are cheaper at Costco. Search out the deals on grass-fed beef. Then cook it in some organic ghee and top off with organic Bechamel served with some broccoli roasted in coconut oil. Then tell me how “deprived” you feel on this diet 😉  It’s really not as hard as you think!

Take home point: Eat LOTS of fat, don’t worry about how much but do worry about what kind. Choose organic plant oils and aim for organic/free range animal products.

Resources:

There is a lot of emerging information about this (finally!!), here are some ways to learn more:

 

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Dr. Annie is a family physician, wife and mom of 2 girls in the Sacramento Area who, yes, cooks everything in butter.