Thursday, March 14, 2013

I've moved - Check out my new site!

Readers - thank you for supporting my mission to bring healthy gluten- and dairy-free eating to families everywhere. I'm so excited to announce that we're moving to a new site with a facelift:

See you there,

Monday, February 25, 2013

Big things are coming! I am going to be active on Facebook, Twitter and Pintrest but the site will be dark for a few days this week. I can't wait to show you what I have in store for Tapps Tips. Stay tuned....

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

10 of my favorite antioxidant-rich foods

Walnuts- This heart healthy nut has a high amount omega 3 fatty acids. Walnuts are rich in fiber, B vitamins, magnesium, and antioxidants such as Vitamin E. They are also one of the best plant sources of protein.

Cloves- This nutrient-dense spice has, anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, and anesthetic properties. Cloves are very high in anti-oxidants and can easily be added to a number of dishes. Sprinkle on apple sauce or cook into an aromatic tea.

Cranberries- Second only to blueberries, these little red powerhouses are teaming with antioxidants. Though they are considered a 'holiday' food, cranberries are available all year round. Add them to smoothies, cook them with your oatmeal or into a muffins.

Pomegranates-This powerful red fruit is very high in antioxidants. Pomegranates can also help to lower cholesterol and blood pressure. The best part? They are sweet like candy.

Aduki Beans- Aduki beans have one of the highest antioxidant level of all beans. High in fiber, these little red beans are also an excellent source of B vitamins. A great detox tool, aduki beans contain an enzyme called molybdenum which is crucial for lever detoxification.
Artichokes -surpisingly high in antioxidants. Known to stimulate and improve liver function by increasing bile production which helps with liver purification and protection.

Green Tea-More than a decade's worth of research about green tea's health benefits has shown it's potential to fight disease, burn fat, and protect against neuro-degenerative diseases. The high levels of antioxidants are readily bioavailable, so are easily utilized by the body.

Raspberries  have significantly high levels of phenolic flavonoid phytochemicals. Scientific studies show that the antioxidant compounds in these berries have potential health benefits against cancer, aging, inflammation, and neuro-degenerative diseases. 

Kale: The King of Greens. Kale is on a scale all of it’s own. Pound for pound it is one  the most nutrient dense foods on the planet. It has high concentrations of vitamins, minerals, anti-oxidants and phytonutrients. This fiber in this powerhouse also helps to bind and neutralize bile toxins which helps to keep cholesterol levels low.

Blueberries are little blue superstars. They have the highest antioxidant level of all fruit. Blueberries are low in sugar and have been shown to improve both memory and metabolism.

Dark Chocolate-And, Drumroll please! My favorite, dark chocolate. By dark chocolate I am talking about real dark chocolate. At least 70% Cacao. I usually use it in the form of Raw Cacao which can be added to any number of recipes like Nut Milk Hot Chocolate, Vegan Chocolate Pie, or Chocolate Cashew Spread. Dark chocolate is rich in cell-protecting anti-oxidants, as well as containing a wide variety of vitamins and minerals. This wonderful bean not only makes everything taste good, it makes us feel good too.

February's Focus: Antioxidants

A Reason To Celebrate Chocolate
Try my vegan cheesecake - for the antioxidants, of course

 With February comes Valentine's day, one of my favorite holidays of the year. Not for the schmaltzy cards or the flowers, but for the excuse to eat copious amounts of chocolate.  Dark chocolate in particular. The best thing about dark chocolate is that it's very rich in antioxidants.  You've probably heard a lot about antioxidants, and many of you know what they do - but I wanted to take a closer look at why they are so essential to good health.

What is an antioxidant?

It may sound more like politics than nutrition, but antioxidants are like the superheroes of the food world, rounding up and shutting down the bad guys .  The bad guys are called free radicals.

So what exactly are " free radicals"  and why are they the bad guys? Simply put,  "free radicals"  are partial, destructive molecules. Molecules are supposed to be made up of pairs of electrons,  but  when a molecule has been damaged as a result of pollution, poor nutrition, pesticides, infection, stress or just plain aging, it loses one of its electrons. These incomplete  molecules wreak havoc on your system. They race through your body trying to steal an electron from complete molecules in order to complete themselves. The free radicals do an enormous amount of damage on their rampage.   This is called oxidation.

Antioxidants are complete molecules that fly through your system with their little red superhero capes on, donating electrons to the incomplete molecules and stopping the free radicals in their path of destruction. No matter how many electrons these  antioxidants  give away, they  remain stable, complete molecules.   Is that a cool superhero power or what? 

Think of an apple slice. It turns brown when it is exposed to the air. That is naturally occuring oxidation. If you squeeze some lemon juice on the apple slices the browning process slows down. That is because lemons contain a lot of Vitamin C which is a powerful antioxidant. The antioxidants significantly slow down the oxidative process.

Where are antioxidants found?

Antioxidants are present in varying degrees in all fresh fruits and vegetables as well as meats, dark chocolate, whole grains, nuts and even red wine.

The more variety you eat, the greater your antioxidant levels will be. Eating a wide variety of foods including different  colors of fruits and vegetables will give you the best array of antioxidants.

Dairy is like kryptonite to antioxidants; it binds with them and reduces their potency.  To ensure you get the full benefit of antioxidants , it is best to eat antioxidant rich foods away from any dairy.   

Have lemon or almond milk in your tea instead of milk, combine your fruit with a coconut kefir instead of dairy yogurt and, use a non-dairy milk in your smoothies to make sure these powerful little molecules have a clear and healing path.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Good vibrations! Detoxing in style at pH Vibe (Video)

I took a trip to pH Vibe in Southampton to try out some of the most popular detoxification methods.

First, I did something called Vibrational Therapy. It basically shakes your body for 9 minutes which felt bizarre. I imagine it feels something like standing on a washing machine during the spin cycle.The idea behind it is that it gets your lymphatic system moving. Toxins tend to clog up our lymph nodes, slowing them down and weakening our immune system. The same effect can be achieved by doing 30 jumping jacks but this was much more fun.

Afterwards I felt really light and high and couldn't stop giggling. 

Next, I did something called an Ionic Foot Bath. This is supposed to electromagnetically pull toxins and heavy metals out of your system. I didn't feel much while this was happening but the water in the foot bath got really sludgy and gross. If the stuff that was in the water was really pulled out of my body, then better out than in! Yuck.

Caution: Anyone who has high levels of mercury in their system should proceed with caution. Though it is good to get the heavy metals out of your system,  the Ionic Foot Bath method can leave you feeling drained.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Detox Month Wrap-Up

This month has been all about how we can help our bodies to detoxify with foods. Whether just making smart choices about detoxifying foods (like in my Top 10) or trying a full-on Dr. Oz 3-Day Cleanse, it has been quite a month! 

The most important factor in detoxification is diet. Eating whole foods with detoxifying qualities is essential to helping your body do its natural job. But, there are also many other popular ways to try and detox. As January comes to a close, let's look at some of them - and if you want to give them a shot, I include my recommendations for the Southampton area.

1. Infrared Sauna These saunas are linked to numerous health benefits including pain reduction and exercise, as well as detoxification. Fans, like Dr. Oz, say the infrared rays help remove toxins and could even extend your life! Saunas also increase blood circulation and get your heart rate rate up.

Psst... check back later this week for a fun look at my trip to pH Vibe!

2. Exercise- Again, sweat, sweat and then sweat some more. Exercise also keeps your blood oxygenated and keeps your lymphatic system moving. Try to get moderate exercise for 30 minutes a day 3-4 times a week. If you can't get to the gym, a good walk will do it.

3. Massage- A massage not only feels good, it releases many of the toxins that are trapped in your tissues. Massage also promotes lymphatic drainage.

Plus, it's great just to get some "me time"!
4. Detox Bath- Similar to the Dr Oz Detox Bath, my tried and true detox bath uses 2 cups of Epsom Salts. I then add 1 cup of 3% Hydrogen Peroxide and 1 cup of baking soda to the water. Each of these components work to draw toxins out through your skin. Soak for a least 20 soothing minutes.

A beautiful bathroom like this never hurts, either
5. Colonic Irrigation- It sounds scary, but it's not! The first time I had one I worked my self into a total panic. It turns out it was over nothing. The colonic was easy and the therapist really put me at ease. I have them regularly now. Colonic irrigation removes the toxins and metabolic waste products that linger in your colon. Get your "pipes" cleaned every once in a while to keep those toxins from being reabsorbed into your system. Better out than in, right?

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Dr Oz 3 Day Detox: The Shake Down

I found this cleanse surprisingly easy to do. I did not find myself fantasizing about food as I have done on some other cleanses. I found each shake (with adjustments to the lunch shake) to be tasty and well-balanced and kept me feeling full until the next meal. Here's my journal of the shakes I drank on the Dr. Oz 3-Day Detox. How did you do?

The Breakfast Shake
Here goes - Day 1, Shake 1. It is clearly way too early in the morning to have my picture taken, but what the heck. It's a breakfast shake, right? This one had a funky green color because I added a little too much spinach, and not quite enough raspberries. The subsequent breakfast shakes were a little more red.

As there weren't any fresh organic raspberries at the market, I had to use frozen ones. But it's OK to use frozen organic produce - they're picked at the height of freshness, so they don't lose much in terms of nutritional content. Also, the frozen variety tend to be less expensive.  
Bottom Line: This shake was very refreshing 1st thing in the morning. I found myself looking forward to it. 4/5 Stars.

The Lunch Shake
I have to admit that I struggled with this shake. The texture of the coconut oil threw me off. I know how important coconut oil is to your health and that it is a vital part of process, but I couldn't take it in the shake. Instead I warmed the oil up a little on the stove and took it as a shot before I drank the shake. I used a little extra of my Homemade Almond Milk to compensate for the loss moisture from leaving out the oil. It made it taste infinitely better to me.

Not everything has to be part of the shake to be a part of the cleanse. If you need to make adjustments like the one above, you can. Just make sure you're getting each element into your body in some form.

Bottom Line: Coconut oil in a smoothie just doesn't work for me, but a little homemade almond milk helped this shake redeem itself. 3/5 stars

The Dinner Shake
This one was my favorite. The cayenne pepper gives it a real kick. I was a little heavy handed when I made the first dinner shake and as a result got a bigger kick than I should have. My son tried a sip and yelped "water! water!" 

The kale I used is from a frozen supply that I have. I buy lots of beautiful kale from a local organic market called The Green Thumb. I wash it and store it in the freezer in large ziplock bags. That way I have a supply to use in smoothies and soups throughout the winter.
Bottom Line: Cayenne pepper and frozen kale help make this shake a wonderful way to end the day. 5/5 stars.

The... Bonus Shake?

You are supposed to choose any of the shakes and have that as your "snack" in the middle of the afternoon. Dr Oz calls it the "Bonus Shake". The first and third day I didn't have the bonus shake. I wasn't that hungry so I didn't feel like I needed it. On the 2nd day I thought I was going to kill someone if I didn't eat something. Unfortunately, I was not anywhere near home, or a blender, when the hunger struck. I managed to find a market and inhaled 2 bananas before I could say Mississippi. 

We all have to make it through the day, and if you feel like you really need to eat, then do. Just try to limit the food you consume to the foods that are on the cleanse. Eat an apple, or a bowl of berries. Or, if you're really hungry have some almond butter on celery sticks. You should not feel like you are starving! At the same time, it's important to recognize when hunger is real, vs when our minds think they need food. 

Dr. Oz 3-Day Cleanse Review

+ I lost 2 pounds and felt much more energized with clearer thinking. I already have a very clean diet and focus a lot on detoxifying my body so I was surprised that got the results that I did. 

+ I loved taking the bath every night. I felt so relaxed and found that I slept much better. I even sprayed a little lavender on my pillow.

The evening meal was difficult. I have a husband a 2 kids to feed, so not eating the same meal as them was hard. My kids kept asking me when I was going to eat dinner.

It's not portable. You need to be close to home, or to a blender, for the 3 days you choose to do this. 

The Bottom Line:
It was easy and tasty and I never felt deprived. I will happily do it again.