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What are you Eating?

What are you Eating?

By Brandi Vanee, Certified Culinary Nutrition Expert

Food is defined as any substance which you eat or drink for the purpose of maintaining life and growth.

Have you ever wondered how food works in your body to do this? The simple answer is that the food is broken down into macronutrients and micronutrients, which are used to create structures and perform functions in your body.

Macronutrients are:

Carbohydrates - sugars, starches, and fibres with healthy sources being fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. They provide energy to working muscles and fuel to the central nervous system, especially your brain, which is around 2% of your body weight, but takes up about 20% of your energy reserves. Carbohydrates are a quick energy source that prevents your system from breaking down protein in your body (ie muscles) as an energy source. Think of carbohydrates as a sparkler that burns bright and vigorously, then goes out. They also help with mood and memory, which is why headaches, brain fog, and grumpiness are common when you don’t eat enough.

Fats - lipids and essential fatty acids include healthy sources such as olive and coconut oils, avocados, eggs, oily fish, nuts and seeds. Other than breaking down and storing vitamins, insulating us, and protecting our vital organs, fat is extremely important in our bodies as lipids form a membrane around each of our cells, and make up about 60% of our brain. Fat is also a long term energy source. Think of fat as a candle, with a long slow burn that keeps going for hours. Eating a meal that includes a health source of fat gives us the satisfied feeling so we are not longer feel hungry, avoids brain fog, and dry skin.

Proteins - complex amino acids present in all living matter. Healthy sources may include sprouted nuts and seeds, beans and legumes, some vegetables, eggs, fish, and meat. Think of protein as the building blocks of your body; they form and repair tissues such as muscle and hair, as well as enzymes for digestion and antibodies in our immune system. A lack of protein in your meal can leave you feeling tired, have poor concentration, and you may have a difficult time recovering from physical activity or injury.

Micronutrients are vitamins and minerals such as calcium, iron, vitamin C, and many more. These help with a wide variety of functions such as forming the inner structures in your bones, allowing your red blood cells to carry oxygen throughout your body, and strengthen your body’s natural defenses against disease.

It is important to eat foods which are nutrient dense, which means the macronutrients (carbohydrates, fats, and proteins) are full of micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) so that your body is operating at its best. Eating processed foods may mean that you are eating empty calories, which can fill you up, but are lacking nutritional value. Some healthy, nutrient dense snacks to pair with lots of water to stay hydrated include fruit with nuts or seeds, carrots with hummus, roasted sweet potato with butter, whole grain tortilla chips with guacamole, homemade energy bites, and custom smoothies such as the recipe below:

Mean Green Apple Cinnamon Smoothie (serves 2)

I designed this smoothie for when we have those long nights at the dance studio with short breaks for meals. I used this combination of ingredients for the following benefits:

Apples, spinach, cucumbers and dates- source of carbohydrates with fibre, with the added bonus of extra vitamins and minerals, especially iron from the spinach and vitamin c from the cucumber

Cashews, avocados and flax seeds - vitamins and minerals as well as healthy fats

Pea sprouts, hemp seeds, and spirulina - excellent sources of easy-to-digest proteins

Cinnamon - adds flavour and helps to balance blood sugar

½ cup cashews*, soaked for an hour if possible
1 ½ cups filtered water
½ Tbsp hemp seeds
½ cup spinach
1 small cucumber, cut into chunks
½ cup pea sprouts
1 avocado, peeled, pitted and halved
1 green apple, core removed and cut into chunks
2 dried dates, pits removed
½ Tbsp ground flax seeds
1 tsp spirulina
1 tsp cinnamon
Handful of ice if desired
*substitute sesame seeds or sunflower seeds in case of nut allergies
Place cashews, dates, hemp seeds, and filtered water into a high speed blender and blend for 1-2 minutes until the mixture is creamy smooth and frothy. Add remaining ingredients and blend on high speed until very smooth. A handful of ice may be added or blended into this smoothie for texture and to help keep it chilled. Enjoy!

Sprouting Hearts Nutrition - Feeding your Body, Mind, and Soul with Love!


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