Madrona Nutrition and Fitness: Recipe and Nutrition Guide

Madrona Nutrition and Fitness:
Guide to Wellness through Holistic Diet
and Lifestyle

Rachel Fiske
Certified Holistic Nutrition Consultant,
Certified Personal Trainer

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

A Quick Review of FATS

While this is a topic I've written on in the past, I think its an essential one to think about and review often, as it is one of the most confusing, AND most important! 

Hopefully by now, we have all abandoned the obsessive fear of fat that our society has fixated on since the low-fat/no-fat craze began, and embraced a diet encompassing healthy fats on a daily basis. However, the subject of fat is a complex and potentially intimidating subject to be truly informed about, especially after (possibly) breaking away from a lifetime of the typical SAD (Standard American Diet) that drills the idea into our heads that dietary fat and cholesterol=heart disease and obesity. After we embrace the newfound knowledge that this is not, in fact, the case, we may still be a bit confused. Read on to get some quick answers…

What are good vs bad fats?

“Bad” fats mean hydrogenated (aka ‘trans’) fats. These types of fats/oils are unsaturated fatty acids that have been chemically hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated (the adding of a hydrogen molecule to form a double bond), in order for the final product to have a longer shelf life. The problem is, our bodies don’t recognize this compound and have no idea how to digest and assimilate it. When eaten, these compounds permeate our cell walls causing malfunction and have been linked to many degenerative diseases rampant in western society.

“Good” fats are not only good, but necessary. Our brains are 60% fat and cannot function without dietary fat. Fats also protect our organs and cells, regulate body temperature, provide satiety, carry fat soluble vitamins and nutrients, and are the most concentrated sources of energy. We need them to survive and thrive. If we are not getting enough, we are missing vital nutrients, not to mention are likely over-eating other, less nutrient dense foods.

Fats To Include:

Saturated (best to cook with/heat as they do not oxidize at high temps)
  • ·      Coconut oil (xtra virgin, cold pressed, raw)
  • ·      Palm oil
  • ·      Butter (grass fed ideally, or organic)
  • ·      Ghee
  • ·      Lard
  • ·      Tarrow
  • ·      Grass fed meats (if they are not from grass-fed animals, opt for leaner cuts, as all animals store toxins in their fat cells)

Unsaturated (should not be heated…think salads and dips)
  • ·      Olive oil
  • ·      Sesame oil
  • ·      Walnut oil
  • ·      Macadamia nut oil
  • ·      Avacado oil
  • ·      Nuts and seeds/nut and seed butters (preferably raw/organic)
  • ·      Flaxseed oils

  • ·      Margarine or “buttery spreads”
  • ·      Canola, corn, vegetable, soybean, grapeseed, sunflower, safflower oils

Monday, October 15, 2012

Eggs: What To Look For

When standing in front of the egg aisle in your local health food store, co-op, or sometimes even farmers market, you are met with an onslaught of buzz words. Phrases such as pasture raised, organic, cage-free, vegetarian-fed, natural, and more jump out at you. The second thing to jump out is the price difference. You ask yourself, is it really worth spending $8 on a dozen pasture raised eggs versus $4 on organic? Well, lets take a quick look at what these things actually mean, and then you can decide for yourself.

White vs. Brown Eggs: This is an easy one, because there is no difference in nutrient value, it simply depends on the kind of chickens that lay the eggs.

Cage-Free: Cage free means that the eggs come from chickens that are not caged in houses found in commercial chicken farms where the animals generally do not even have room to turn around. However, cage free generally doesn't mean all that much, as the chickens are typically still confined to some sort of cage without access to the outdoors, and fed sub-par diets.

Free-Range: This usually means that the chickens have access to some sort of outdoor space, although it does not specify for how long and still has no relation to what the animals are fed.

Pasture-Raised: Here, the chickens are reared in a way that is basically how chickens are supposed to live in their natural environment, in a pasture with access to shelter. They engage in normal chicken behaviors such as eating foods like worms, insects, fruits, and plants instead of a diet that is largely grain-based (not natural for chickens).

Vegetarian-Fed: This is a tricky one, because we would think this means a plant based diet. But no, this almost always means that chickens are fed a grain-based diet, and also typically means they animals are kept indoors or in cases to keep them from feeding on insects and worms.

Organic Grain-Fed: This simply means that the grains chickens are feeding on have not been sprayed with pesticides or come from GMO (genetically modified) seeds.


Still confused after all these definitions? Lets think best, better, worst. Best, I would absolutely say pasture raised. You are getting a much bigger bang for your buck nutritionally speaking, are supporting happy and healthy chickens, making sure you are free from ingesting pesticides and herbicides, and are doing the land a favor in the process. Better, free-range organic. Again, avoiding nasty chemicals and hopefully the chickens are getting a bit of time to forage outdoors. Worst, commercially raised eggs. As mentioned above, here the chickens are kept in tight cages, are under a great deal of stress, produce much lower quality eggs, and they are fed grains that may be laden with pesticides and potentially GMO.

Hope this helps! Try your local farmers market whenever possible, and I highly recommend visiting the great website Eat Wild to search for not only high quality eggs, but meats and other animal products, as well.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Fall Pear Bread

While I find myself back home in the Pacific Northwest in October, I've been so excited to witness the first of the fall colors and that familiar crispness to the air. My favorite season has inspired me to play around with some delicious fall recipes, and the other night I made (if I do say so myself) an amazing pear bread from the abundance of asian pears growing outside my parents house. You can use any type of pears you have (preferably organic, of course), or if pears aren't in season near you, you could probably replace them with bananas or another seasonal fruit. Get creative!

First of all, lets take a quick look at the nutrient value of pears. Similar to many fruits, almost half of the beneficial nutrients in pears are found in the skin, which is chalked full of compounds called phenolic phytonutrients. These compounds contain powerful antioxidants, anti-inflammatory flavanoids, and anti-cancer phytonutrients ( Pears are very high in fiber, along with Vitamins C and K. Pears are one of the highest foods in flavonols, which have been shown to have act as powerful anti-inflammatory agents in the body, therefore protecting against cancer, degenerative disease, and heart disease. Pears are also known as a "hypoallergenic" food, meaning people who tend to be sensitive or allergic to many fruits generally are fine with pears.

Now, on to the recipe!

Fall Pear Bread
adapted from

Coat a bundt cake pan (or a square pan would work too) with coconut oil or butter

Preheat oven to 350


2 cups almond flour (or other nut flour of your choice, try walnut or pecan)

3/4 cup arrowroot powder
1/4 cup flaxseed meal
2 tbsp chia seeds (optional)
3 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
1/3 cup grade b maple syrup (or less)
2 large eggs plus 2 egg whites
1 tbsp raw apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp vanilla
1 cup pear puree
3/4 cup dark chocolate (optional)


Mix together all dry ingredients in a large bowl. In another large bowl or mixer, add all remaining ingredients and mix. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix until combined, Fold in chocolate chips until they are incorporated. Pour into pan and bake for 40-45 minutes. Let the cake cool in the pan for about an hour before removing. Enjoy!!

Monday, October 1, 2012

What Is Good Nutrition?

A friend and colleague of mine posed the question recently, "what is good nutrition?" After giving it some thought, I realized what an important question this is to ask both myself and my clients, in order to really understand where one is coming from. There is a lot of information and misinformation out there when it comes to what good nutrition really means, and its easy for it all to get jumbled up! So, here are some points I would include in my definition:

  1. First and foremost, realizing that what good nutrition is for me may not be the same for you. Our bodies are all biochemically different and have slightly (or, in some cases, very) different nutrient needs. This does not mean that some people really just need hostess cupcakes...but it does mean that certain people will do better with varying macronutrient ratios (more carbs, fat, or protein), for example. It is essential to remember that there is no one size fits all approach.
  2. Eating the most real, nutrient dense foods available. Good nutrition should mean sticking to whole, non-processed foods that have the most "bang for their buck" in terms of nutrient density. The foods we eat are fueling our body for every task (physical, mental, and emotional) that we carry out each day, and we need all nutrients, all the time
  3. On that same note, VARIETY. Yes, spinach is a nutrient dense food, but if it is one of the only vegetables we eat, we are depriving ourselves of all of the vitamins and minerals found in other vegetables and leafy greens. Same goes for protein and fat sources. After we understand what good, whole food is, we must strive to get a wide variety of everything so that we are allowing our bodies to take in all of the essential vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, trace minerals, amino acids, fatty acids, and other nutrients that science may not even know exists yet! And, it simply makes eating more fun.
  4. Decreasing our stress (especially when eating) and improving our relationship to food.  We must be in our parasympathetic nervous state (aka, the "rest and digest" as opposed to the run-from-the-tiger sympathetic mode) in order for our body to divert energy to proper digestion and nutrient absorption/assimilation. Along with this, I feel that it is of great importance to examine our emotional relationship to food. Do we eat when we are emotional about something? Do we have feelings of guilt or other destructive emotions surrounding food? We have grown up in a society with some very skewed perceptions of body image and food (particularly for women) and this can seriously effect how we digest and assimilate our nutrients. We can eat the best foods, but if our digestion is off for either physical or emotional/mental reasons, we have work to do.
  5. Eating for blood sugar stabilization. While there is no exact one size fits all approach, something that everyone can benefit from is eating a diet to regulate our blood sugar and, therefore, our energy levels. We all too often experience unnecessary dips and spikes throughout the day, which is a sign that we may not be fueling our body effectively. A sign of how well we nourished ourselves in the previous meal or snack is gauging how we feel going into the next...are we ravenous? Light headed? Really grumpy? This is not normal!
  6. Eating anti-inflammatory foods. Inflammation can manifest in many ways, including brain fogginess, depression, allergies, insomnia, digestive problems, and more serious conditions like cancer and autoimmune disease. Visit my past article on inflammation for more details.
  7. Eating a largely plant based diet with at least 5-9 servings of organic vegetables and fruits per day (heavier on the veggies than the fruit). Remember, 1 serving=1 cup cooked or 2 cups raw. This way we are ensuring that we get all of those micronutrients mentioned above that we need to thrive!

Well, here's a start! I think this is an important and interesting question to consider for ourselves...I know I'm always adding to my own definition. So...what is good nutrition to you???