Food Friday: Carrot Quinoa Breakfast Cookies

I think I may be a snack monster! "I'm hungry" may be the phrase I say the most ;) This is probably because I am not balancing my blood sugar effectively that day, simply out of habit or I just enjoy food too much! 

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These cookies do the trick for me when I am in that state of mind and my stomach is grumbling. I love freezing them and grabbing one as needed. They are packed full of nutrients from the carrots, quinoa and oats, fat from almond butter and nuts, coconut oil and flax, protein from almond butter/nuts and fibre from whole grains and flax. I see no wrong! (Unless you are on a paleo diet unfortunately.) Remember fat, fibre and protein is what keeps you full for longer and balances your blood sugar. I posted the link to these awhile ago on FB but considering I keep coming back to them I wanted them handy for both you and me. :) 

Depending on how runny my almond butter is, the cookies can be pretty wet before cooking or dry. I add a little more quinoa or oats if it looks too wet, which keeps them from crumbling. If you can eat eggs you may want to try them with 1-2 eggs instead of the flax mixture however I haven't done this yet. The recipe has several ingredients but I find they are a cinch to throw together if you have cooked the quinoa the night before (use the rest in a buddha bowl or salad). Thanks www.loveandlemons.com!

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup oat flour (made from 1¼ cups whole rolled oats ground in a blender - eg vitamix)
  • 1 cup (additional) whole rolled oats
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2-3/4 cup cooked quinoa
  • 1 cup finely shredded carrots
  • 2 tbsp ground flaxseed + 5 tbsp warm water (set aside for 5 minutes)
  • 1/2 cup almond butter
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup nuts and/or seeds (I used walnuts & pumpkin seeds; pecans could be great)
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries

Directions:

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  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a glass, combine the flaxseed and warm water and set aside to thicken for about 5 minutes.
  3. Use a food processor or a blender to process the 1¼ cups rolled oats into a fine flour and measure out one level cup. In a large bowl, stir together the flour, the remaining 1 cup whole oats, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and sea salt. Add in the quinoa and then the shredded carrots, stirring until the carrots are completely coated with flour.
  4. In a medium bowl, combine the almond butter, coconut oil, and maple syrup and stir well to incorporate. Stir in the flaxseed mixture.
  5. Add the wet ingredients to the bowl of dry ingredients and fold in just until combined. Stir in the walnuts, pumpkin seeds, and cranberries.
  6. Scoop just under ¼ cup of batter for each cookie onto the baking sheet. (I have used 1/4 cup and they come out pretty big - which I like.) Bake for 15 to 18 minutes, or until lightly browned. Cool on the pan for 5 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling.
  7. When cookies are completely cool, they can be stored in an airtight container or frozen.

Let me know what you think or if you have any adaptations you like!

In health & happiness, 

Dr. Karen

Adrenal Fatigue - And The 4 Main Stressors To Our Body

Do you ever wonder what actually happens to our body and adrenal glands with chronic stress? Are you experiencing more than one main stressor leading to "adrenal fatigue" aka HPA dysfunction? More studies are showing negative long term side effects from chronic stress so lets get to the bottom of it and heal the body.

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Ever heard the term "adrenal fatigue"? The adrenal glands sit on top of your kidneys and one of their main functions is to produce and secrete a hormone called cortisol. It is stimulated by the hypothalamus and pituitary signals, hence HPA axis. There are many receptors throughout our body that respond to cortisol to stimulate a "fight or flight" response - aka helping us run from that dangerous tiger. However due to four main reasons, our bodies may constantly be running from the tiger when it isn't even there! This of course takes a toll on us. 

Common symptoms of HPA dysfunction:

  • fatigue
  • insomnia
  • brain fog
  • anxiety, depression
  • chronic colds and flus
  • weight gain
  • shakiness 
  • PMS
  • fibromyalgia
  • diabetes 
  • hypothyroidism
  • eczema 

How is your body responding to the stress?

The more I practice, the more I realize the importance of discovering the underlying cause and response of these symptoms for each individual and treating it accordingly. For example, if one patient has more anxiety due to an inability to clear free cortisol effectively due to poor liver or thyroid function, I would treat this much differently than with a patient who is fatigued and depressed due to a down-regulated response in the HPA axis leading to low metabolized cortisol. 

Metabolized vs free cortisol what?? A DUTCH lab test, that I do in my practice and find very valuable, can actually differentiate these hormones and how they are broken down and metabolized. For example free cortisol is how much active cortisol is on our body, representing only 3-5% of our body's cortisol, and metabolized cortisol is what our adrenal glands actually produce, representing around 80%. Blood and salivary tests only test free cortisol, which is not the full representation of what is going on! 

(The DUTCH test actually test test SO MUCH MORE than cortisol, including sex hormones and their metabolites, melatonin and liver detoxification function...all so helpful to see!)

So what is actually causing this HPA axis dysfunction? It typically is not only the day to day stress we experience at our job or due to our daily schedule. If we can decrease these triggers the normal feedback systems within our bodies will recover and symptoms will improve.

Four triggers of HPA dysfunction:

  1. Perceived Stress - This is the main trigger of cortisol dysfunction. Whether it be our go-go-go lifestyle preventing us from resting and recovering, or financial, job or relationship stress. Everyone perceives stress differently and some people may be less resilient than others. That trendy word mindfulness comes in here as well as simply taking time for yourself to recovery. 
  2. Inflammation - This means ANY type of inflammation, including any autoimmune condition, an inflammatory diet full of sugar and inflammatory foods, gut issues, obesity, or chronic sickness. Inflammation of any kind up-regulates the HPA feedback system to put out the fire. 
  3. Blood Sugar Dysregulation - High or low blood sugar affects insulin levels, which ultimately disrupts the HPA axis. This is why is it important to eat a low sugar diet with adequate protein, fat and fibre to slow down absorption of sugar and keep you full for longer. Look for foods with less than 7g of sugar, with full fat and good quality protein. Are you experiencing an energy crash in the afternoon? This means your blood sugar is not regulated! The first thing I suggest is changing your breakfast to include a protein and fat. 
  4. Circadian Rhythm Disruption - I say it time and time again that our body LOVES routine. Too much exposure to light in the evenings, aka staring at a screen all evening, and not enough sun exposure during the day, aka too much time in an office and no sunshine, can affect the hormone cycles. Your cortisol can therefore be spiking at the wrong time. 

Once we establish your main triggers and how your body is actually responding to those triggers, several Naturopathic treatment options can help along the road to recovery. I love adaptogenic or nervine herbs to calm or support the HPA axis (more to come on the difference). IV therapy can help to support the immune system and adrenals (still discounted for the month of August!). Addressing the pillars of health of diet and lifestyle are always important as well. 

Questions about what was mentioned here or curious where your hormones lie? Come in for a visit!  I am always here to help. 

In health & happiness, 

Dr. Karen