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Did you know gut health is intricately linked to autoimmune conditions?

It’s true! The health of your gastrointestinal system determines what nutrients are absorbed into your bloodstream and what bacteria, toxins and allergens are kept out of your bloodstream.  With 70% of your immune system located in your gut, it is critical to keep this vital system working optimally.  There are some simple practices one should consider incorporating into their lifestyle when supporting the immune system.

A diet high in processed and nutrient deficient foods increases the probability that the good and bad bacteria in the gut will get out of balance.  This dysbiosis, as well as consuming foods that the body may be sensitive to, can damage the lining of the small intestine creating what is known as intestinal hyper-permeability in scientific circles, and referred to by many as leaky gut syndrome.

What is Leaky Gut Syndrome?

When someone has Leaky Gut Syndrome, the tight junctions that line the small intestines essentially become loose and allow bacteria, not fully digested proteins and fats and other wastes to “leak” into the bloodstream. This causes an immune response, which produces inflammation and may increase the likelihood of autoimmune disease development.

A leaky gut can lead to:

  • Inflammation
  • Bloating and Gastrointestinal Distress (IBS)
  • Fatigue
  • Skin Conditions
  • Food Sensitivities and Intolerances (known or unknown)
  • Malabsorption of Nutrients
  • Anemia
  • Autoimmune Disease….and more

There are many factors that can contribute to the development of Leaky Gut Syndrome, including: 

  • Poorly managed stress can lead to a compromised immune system, creating greater susceptibility to foreign invaders. Chronic stress is also known to slow the digestive process.
  • An insufficient diet, high in processed foods and sugar and low in fiber, has been linked to leaky gut. Without enough fiber in the diet, it takes much longer to digest food.  Adding insult to injury, highly processed foods are high in sugar, sodium, chemicals and unhealthy fats, all of which create inflammation in the digestive tract.  Note that gluten is a known irritant to the gut lining.
  • An overload of toxins in the system stresses the immune system and hampers the body’s ability to repair. Environmental toxins deplete the body of important trace minerals and create acidity in the body.
  • An imbalance of gastrointestinal bacteria, called dysbiosis, can be a real problem if the “bad” bacteria are out numbering the “good” bacteria. Yeast (candida), parasites, amoebas and other harmful bacteria irritate the gut lining and are suspected as contributing to leaky gut.
  • Overuse of NSAIDs and other drugs, including antibiotics, birth control, antacids, steroids, chemotherapy and radiation therapy, can disrupt gut bacteria balance as well as damage the lining of the intestinal tract.
  • Alcoholic beverages are not easily metabolized and put great strain on the liver. This can impact digestion and the toxins associated with alcohol are also known to damage the gut lining.
  • Consumption of the proteins found in conventional dairy, GMO and hybridized foods have been linked to damage of the intestinal lining.
  • Consuming grains that are NOT properly prepared has been known to irritate the gut lining, leading to damage if consumed with regularity.  When grains are properly prepared, (which includes soaking, fermentation and sprouting) the body is better able to digest them and absorb valuable nutrients.  Unfortunately, grains today are rarely prepared in this fashion.

 

 

Many doctors believe that an autoimmune disease diagnosis often goes hand in hand with a leaky gut.

In order to quell the inflammation and immune system response, consider incorporating some simple practices that are supportive to your gut health may be very beneficial to your overall health and wellness. 

 

 

Tips for Optimal Gut Health

  1. Eat an Anti-inflammatory Diet

    Consume an anti-inflammatory diet of whole, unprocessed foods rich in a variety of vegetables, fruits, lean, well sourced protein and high quality fats.  Remember, if you have a leaky gut, you likely have inflammation.  It is critical to quell this inflammation if healing is to occur.

    Consider eliminating the following highly inflammatory foods: Gluten, Wheat, Dairy, Sugar and Processed Foods

  2. Make Bone Broth

    Remember when you were a little kid and your mom would make homemade chicken soup when you were sick?  For centuries, homemade bone broths have been common in traditional diets because they are a concentrated source of nutrients offering considerable depth of flavor, they are easy for the body digest and considered by many to promote healing. See, Moms know a few things!

    Bone broth can be made from chicken, beef, lamb, fish or other animal’s bones – just make sure you are getting the highest quality bones to make your broth.  It’s the long slow cooking of the bones with some form of acid (raw apple cider vinegar or lemon juice) that releases the therapeutic properties that are believed to be highly beneficial to the gut.

    This simple broth contains collagen, gelatin and the amino acids glutamine, proline and glycine, all essential for the health of your gut lining.   Bone broth also delivers numerous minerals in a form that is easily absorbable.  These include magnesium, calcium, sulphur, silicon, phosphorus and more.

    Bone broth is a delicious way to nourish your gut and support its optimal health each and every day.  I recommend sipping at least two cups each day and using your bone broth when cooking things like gravies, stews, soups, etc.

  3. Include Coconut Products

    Coconut products are believed to be particularly good for gut health.  Why?

    Coconut contains medium chain fatty acids that are much easier to digest than other fats. Fermented coconut products, like yogurt or kefir, add healthy probiotics to the intestinal tract. Coconut oil is antifungal, antimicrobial and antibacterial. Regularly consuming coconut oil can help with the absorption of nutrients by helping to control the proliferation of bad bacteria and parasites.

  4. Consume Soft, Cooked Foods

    It is often recommended that for the first few weeks primarily soft, cooked foods, such as soups or stews, should be consumed. These foods are easily digested and enable the body to take that time to repair and restore the gut.

    Once you feel you are ready to introduce raw vegetables and fruits, it is recommended that you do so slowly and methodically.  If at any point you experience discomfort, return to a more simple diet of soft, cooked foods and consult with your doctor.

  5. Healthy Gut Flora

    Having a good balance of healthy gut bacteria is important for optimal gut health.  Below are some of my personal strategies for making sure my gut flora is balanced.

    Talk to your doctor about taking a high quality probiotic. If your doctor approves, I recommend purchasing three different high quality brands and rotating them. As you finish one bottle, open a different brand.  This is beneficial because each brand will include different strains of probiotic bacteria.  You have thousands of different strains in your gut and it’s important to support as many different ones as you can.

    You can find good quality probiotics at your local health food store or order them online at Amazon, Vitacost.com or ThriveMarket.com.  Some of my favorite brands include: Primal Defense, Trace Minerals, Renew Life, and Prescript Assist.

    Try Kombucha, a delicious fermented tea rich in B vitamins and healthy bacteria. This is a great way to “drink” your probiotics, but BEWARE.  If you know or suspect you might suffer from candida overgrowth, then skip the kombucha as it is fermented with sugar and can have a higher sugar content that what is ideal.  I always recommend checking the sugar content of these drinks and choose the one with least amount.

    Coconut water kefirs, such as Kevita (my favorite!) or Inner-Eco, are delicious and a great alternative if you want to skip the sugars in kombucha. These drinks often have as few as 3 grams of sugar per bottle.  My favorite way to enjoy this healthy beverage is in a wine glass!  Like kombucha, they are also fermented and have an abundance of B-vitamins, probiotics and enzymes.  And, if you want to try your hand at making your own, there are loads of recipes you can find online.

    Fermented vegetables have been a main stay in many cultures for much of history. Not surprising as these foods are rich in enzymes, probiotics, B vitamins, Omega 3 fatty acids and help to balance the pH of your system.  They are super easy and a lot of fun to make!  Consider adding a tablespoon to 1/4 cup of fermented vegetables to each meal.

  6. Digestive Enzymes

    To support your gut health, it is often recommended to supplement with digestive enzymes at each meal.  These are believed to help your body fully digest food and aid in better nutrient absorption.

  7. Supplement with a Whole Food Vitamin

    Taking a high quality multivitamin is very important to ensure you getting all necessary nutrients.  When the gut is compromised, it is likely that nutrients are not being well absorbed.   I also recommend rotating your multivitamin, because each brand has their own “recipe.”

  8. Additional Supplements to Consider

    Before beginning any supplements, always consult with your physician and have appropriate blood work done.

     – Glutamine is an amino acid critical to rebuilding the intestinal lining.

    – Aloe Vera Juice is easy to add to your morning smoothie, and is very soothing the intestinal wall. It is anti-inflammatory as well.

    – Zinc is necessary for cell turnover in the body and is a critical component to a healthy gut. Zinc competes with copper, so if you plan to supplement, consult your doctor to be sure you balance these two minerals.

    – Collagen is not just essential for healthy looking skin, but also helps to restore integrity to the gut lining and contains amino acids that are essential for cell growth and repair. If you choose to supplement with a powder (works well in smoothies!), be sure to choose one from grass-fed, pasture raised cows, free from chemicals and antibiotics.

    – Slippery Elm is often used to support gut health as it is anti-inflammatory and coats the lining of the gut, protecting it from damage due to toxins and pathogens.

    – Omega 3 fatty acids are highly anti-inflammatory, beneficial to gut repair and support a healthy immune system.

 

 

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Food combining and mono meals for better digestion

Food Combining

You’ve probably heard the saying “You are what you eat.”  I believe this to be true.  But I also believe that you need to take it one step further.

“You are what you can digest.”

For someone who struggles with digestive dysfunction or symptoms of a sluggish digestive system, eating mono meals and/or paying close attention to food combining could be very beneficial.

What is a mono meal?

What exactly is a mono meal and why is it beneficial? Very good question which can be answered by taking a step back in time. You see our ancestors, for thousands of years, wouldn’t have had access to the diverse array of delicious foods we have when we open our fridge.  It would’ve been more of a scenario like you found a berry bush at it’s prime ripeness. Ancestrally we would’ve understood that with no way to preserve such bounty, we’d have to eat as much as we could right then and there. Our bodies and brains are much better adapted to this since it’s how humans ate for the majority of their time on this earth.

food combiningA mono meal is just a fancy way of saying, fill yourself up on a meal that consists of ONE thing. Eat a big bowl of just watermelon, eat four bananas, a big bowl of steamed sweet potato etc.  The benefits of mono meals are mainly to do with digestive health. They remove the burden of your digestive system having to differentiate from an array of different substances which all require different enzymes.

The way we eat doesn’t always make sense. Combining starches, proteins, fats and sugars is bound to create a digestive burden which shows up as discomfort, gas and other pesky digestive issues.  When you take a break from complex meals, your organs have a chance to rejuvenate. Detoxification naturally happens at this point and you might find that when you go back to eating as usual, you digest your food better and have more energy.

This leads me to my next point…

What is food combining?

Food combining is a system of eating foods that combine together efficiently to assist digestion so that your digestive tract does not have to work so hard to give you the nutrients you need for energy.  It takes into account the area of digestion for each food within the digestive system and the complexity of digestion for each food.

There are three primary categories of food: proteins, carbohydrates, and fats.  Each category of food requires different enzymes for proper digestion.  So here are a few good rules of thumb to follow:

DO NOT EAT PROTEIN AND STARCHES AT THE SAME MEAL.  Proteins begin their digestion in the stomach where the stomach secretes hydrochloric acid and the enzyme pepsin to break down the food in a highly acidic environment.  When you eat starches, digestion first begins in your mouth, then your stomach secretes the enzyme ptyalin to create an alkaline condition.  Eating starches and proteins at the same meal will neutralize each other and will prevent proper digestion of either food.  Proteins need a highly acidic environment.  Starches need an alkaline environment.

food combiningEAT FRUITS ALONE, ESPECIALLY MELONS.   This is because when fruit is eaten, the digestive process works very quickly and our body uses different enzymes to digest the fruit. The simple sugars contained in fruit need time to be completely absorbed by your body.  If you eat fruit close to a meal, especially right after a larger meal and combine with other foods, it’s held in the stomach too long along with other foods and will rot and ferment in the gut.  Fermentation can lead to gas, rob you of energy, and slow down your digestion.  Now let’s talk about melons.  Melons do not digest well with other foods, period.  And they will frequently cause problems unless consumed by itself.

To recap, here are the best methods for food combining.  

  1. Eat fruit alone.
  2. Eat proteins with non-starchy foods.
  3. Eat starches with vegetables.

Your gut is really your first line of defense for sickness prevention and ultimate health.  It’s easy to forget so I always like to remind my clients that 80% of the body’s immune system lives in the gut.  If you have suffered for a long time with energy issues, poor digestion and inflammation, then you may want to consider food combining.  What have you got to lose?


Do you need support for your digestive health?  Nutritional therapy could be just what you need.  I work with clients across the US and specialize in digestive health, adrenal health, blood sugar and so much more!  Learn about my practice and services here.  http://cecemcclintick.com/work-with-me/

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How does journaling improve your gut health?

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What do writing words on paper have to do with healing your gut? How does journaling improve your gut health? The answers might surprise you. Journaling can help your digestive health in a few ways. There’s been a surprising amount of research done on the health benefits of keeping a journal.

Reduce Stress and Digest

Writing in a journal is a powerful exercise in stress reduction. There are few opportunities in life to spill out your deepest emotions without fear of judgement and journaling is one of them.

Stress is terrible for your gut health. It inhibits healthy digestion and chronic stress can even lead to more severe conditions like leaky gut.

Using a journal as an outlet to vent negative emotions gets them out of your system and has a cathartic effect. It might seem weird if you’ve never journaled before but you’ll probably grow to view writing as a form of therapy. It’s simply a space to write down how you truly feel and process the good, the bad, and the ugly.

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Keeping Track of Your Reactions

The other benefit of journaling for gut health is keeping track of what goes into your body and your reactions to it. You don’t have to do this forever, but if you want to get on the fast track to healthy digestion, it’s necessary.

Try writing down what you eat and how you feel for one week and you’ll be so much more aware of your reactions to certain foods. It doesn’t have to end at how you feel physically, you could also make a note of how you feel emotionally after eating certain foods.

Perhaps eating soup makes you feel comforted and cozy, where eating a fast food burger might make you feel bad about yourself.  Do you feel wired or jittery after drinking your second cup of coffee?  Start to take note of how you feel before and after each meal to begin to see a connection to your gut health and the foods you eat. Write it all down and over time you’ll be more conscious of only putting food in your body that’s deeply nourishing.

Make it Special

Journaling is an act of self-love. You do it for yourself and no one else. Get yourself a beautiful journal that inspires you to take action. Having a gorgeous journal will inspire you to use it.  Click here for ideas and happy writing!  I can’t wait for you to experience how journaling can improve your gut health.

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Massaged Kale with Fennel

This salad is delightfully nourishing and gives you all the benefits of kale, without the digestive distress. When you massage kale you break down some of the tough fibers in the cell wall that make raw kale hard to digest.

When I started eating healthy I couldn’t digest kale very well. It upset my digestion and I didn’t get what all the fuss was about. If this happens to you the solution is to either steam your kale or massage it. This recipe is one of my favorites because you still get all the amazing benefits of raw kale: the enzymes, magnesium, vitamin C and more.

Massaging nourishing oil and lemon juice into the kale also help make the nutrients more bioavailable and easier to assimilate. Plus, it tastes delicious and can be paired with grilled chicken or fish for a classic healthy meal.

kale-233127_960_720Ingredients:

  • 1 bunch kale, chopped
  • 1 large lemon, juiced
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Sea salt and black pepper to taste
  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • ½ cup thinly sliced fennel
  • ¼ cup pine nuts

Directions:

  1. Add kale to a large mixing bowl along with lemon juice, garlic, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Using clean, bare hands, massage the kale until it is wilted (about 2 to 3 minutes).
  2. Once the kale is ready, top your salad with carrots, celery, fennel, and pine nuts. No extra dressing is needed.

If kale is something that’s hard to digest for you, there might be a deeper issue that needs to be addressed. If you want to be able to eat whatever you want and have no digestive issues, I would love to work with you.  Gut health is one of my passions and I offer a wonderful 8 week Gut Health Program to my clients.  Send me an email cece@cecemcclintick.com to schedule your FREE 30 minute consultation to determine if this program may be just what you need.

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Chia Pudding made EASY!

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Chia pudding is my go-to dessert because it’s incredibly healthy AND delicious. There are 101 ways to make chia pudding (maybe more) but today I want to share a few of my favorite combinations and how you can get super creative with your own pudding concoctions.

The Basics of Chia Pudding

Once you’ve got the basic principles of chia pudding down you’ll be able to create any combination of flavors you can imagine.

3 tablespoons of chia seeds to 1 cup of liquid

From there the options are endless! Just make sure to mix each combination up thoroughly so the chia seeds are evenly distributed and any powders dissolve completely. Try these and feel free to experiment with your own favorite flavor combos.

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Here are some of my favorite combos (each makes 1 serving)

Add all ingredients to your blender and process until super smooth.

  • Tropical Rain – 3 Tablespoons chia seeds + ½ Cup guava juice + ½ Cup coconut milk
  • Razzies and Cream – 3 Tablespoons chia seeds + ½ Cup raspberry puree + ½ Cup almond milk
  • Orange Creamsicle – 3 Tablespoons chia seeds + ¾ Cup orange juice + ¼ Cup coconut cream
  • Strawberry Basil – 3 Tablespoons chia seeds + 1 Cup strawberry puree + 5 basil leaves, finely chopped
  • Energy Gel – 3 Tablespoons chia seeds + 1 Tablespoon lemon juice + 1 Tablespoon lime juice + ¾ Cup water + 3 drops stevia
  • Chocolate Dream – 3 Tablespoons chia seeds + 1 Cup almond milk + 1 Tablespoon cacao powder + 3-5 drops stevia
  • Spirulina Mint – 3 Tablespoons chia seeds + 1 Cup cashew milk + 10 mint leaves, finely chopped + 1 teaspoon spirulina powder  + 3-5 drops stevia

A few health benefits of chia seeds

Known as a superfood, chia seeds are rich in fiber, omega 3 fatty acids, protein, vitamins and minerals.

  • Heart Health:  Helps to reverse inflammation and lower blood pressure.
  • Digestive Health:  Constipated?  Try chia seeds!  Since they are high in fiber, they help promote bowel regularity and healthy stool.
  • Blood Sugar:  According to the National Institute of Health, seeds like flax and chia seeds can be a natural blood sugar balancer due to it’s high fiber content and healthy fat.

Did you know that I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE sharing recipes with my clients to help support optimal health.   Send me an email at cece@cecemcclintick.com and let’s chat about how we can work together.

 

Best Vegetarian Proteins

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Here is a list of some of the best vegetarian proteins you can add to any meal.

1.Protein Powders – Protein powders are a great option for building lean muscles and keeping up your energy. If you’re looking for a grain-free option, some of my favorite plant-based powders are hemp and pea. You can add a protein powder to your smoothie, to a dip or soup, or even a sweet potato as an afternoon pick me up. 

2.Spirulina – Spirulina contains the highest form of protein found anywhere in the world (70%). One ounce contains 16 grams of protein. This superfood is recommended for those seeking to lose weight and who want to maintain great health. I suggest adding a tablespoon to a smoothie each day, and you can even add one to water at night.

3.Bee Pollen – These granules, created by bees from flowering plants, are another nutrient-dense food that has 5 to 7 times more protein than beef. These immune-boosting, little seeds give you the power you need to fight colds and provide you with a great boost of energy.

smoothie-865632_960_7204.Goji Berries – These red berries are not only a source of complete protein with 18 amino acids, and all 8 essential amino acids, but have 500 times more vitamin C per ounce than oranges. You can add these to trail mix, smoothies, soups and salads, or you can eat them alone.

5.Hemp – A complete source of protein (36%), hemp is also a rich and balanced source of Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids, including the rare form of GLA (Gamma Linoleic Acid). Just three tablespoons has 10 grams of protein.

6.Chia Seeds – These contain essential fatty acids and protein, and are a soluble fiber. The protein content is 4 grams per ounce, they taste delicious, plus they can be added to soups, smoothies and salads.

7.Tempeh – Unlike other forms of soy, this fermented form is easy to digest. A half cup has a whopping 15 grams of protein.

8.Kale and Greens – Greens are loaded with protein, so adding these to your smoothies is essential. Just one cup of kale is 2.9 grams of protein. You can juice kale, make a kale salad or add it to your smoothie.

9.Non-Dairy Milk – You can get a nice amount of protein in hemp milk, almond milk and even coconut milk. On average, one cup holds 5 grams of protein.

10.Coconut Milk Yogurt or Coconut Milk Kefir – This is a great way to load up on a medium chain fatty acid, which most people are deficient in. Plus, you can add a plant-based protein to this drink, and you have a simple drink loaded with calories and protein to keep you satisfied.

11.Sunbutter and Seeds – Sunbutter (sunflower seed butter) is the perfect on-the-go trick for getting protein into your body. Simply top an apple with sunbutter for a healthy dose of protein. Or, add seeds (sunflower, pumpkin, etc.) to any salad, soup or vegetarian meal to boost your protein levels. On average 2 tablespoons equal 5 grams of protein.

12.Nutritional Yeast – This is loaded with B vitamins and amino acids, and 2 tablespoons equals 8 grams of protein.

13.Avocado – Adding 1 whole avocado to a salad is 2.7 grams of You also get a healthy dose of fat, which will help you lose weight and detox properly.

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Breakfast. Kids. And why it’s the most important meal of the day!

Is breakfast the most important meal of the day?  Is it okay to skip breakfast?  What if I am just not hungry? 

I get tired of eating the same breakfast foods.  I have no time for breakfast.  My kids will only eat cereal.

Do you have these questions?  Or can you relate to the statements above?  Then read on….

YES!  Breakfast IS the most important meal of the day.  Think of the name.  Break/fast.  When you break it down, the word means to ‘break a fast.’  While you have been sleeping, you have been fasting.  Breakfast will break that fast.  It is important that you give your body the nutrients that it needs to have fuel and energy for the day.  You are setting the stage for how your body will perform the rest of the day.  Fill up on good protein, healthy fats and a small amount of complex carbohydrates.  You may find that you are more prepared to work, move and make better decisions throughout the day.  Eating a nutritious breakfast can help you to avoid eating too much at your next meal and snacking throughout the day due to low energy, low blood sugar and low nutrient intake.

I strongly believe that our kids need to have a healthy breakfast every day.  They are growing, learning and playing all day long.  I don’t know about you, but in my house some mornings are a little chaotic.  But we still make time for breakfast.  My kids do like breakfast foods but sometimes they get tired of eggs every morning and beg for cereal.  Can we talk about cereal for a minute?  Moms, cereal is full of SUGAR.  Take a look a the box.  For every 4 grams of sugar that is equal to 1 tsp of sugar.  Then also look at all the other crap. The artificial flavors, preservatives, colorings, etc.  But I know the struggle of getting your kids to eat breakfast can be hard.  My suggestion: don’t feel like you have to stick to a breakfast type food.  The point is to feed them a healthy meal.  FullSizeRenderThere are mornings where my 5 year old son will eat a grilled cheese sandwich and a side of fruit with peanut butter.  He is getting protein from the cheese and natural peanut butter, the healthy fats from the grass-fed butter and some good carbohydrates and vitamins from the fruit.  It’s okay that it is not eggs.  Don’t fight it.  Think outside of the box.  My older kids LOVE a healthy smoothie as it’s super easy and quick while being tasty! Or what about making pancakes with a protein powder?

 

 

 

No time for breakfast?  Then plan ahead.  You can make egg cups, chia pudding and many other healthy foods ahead of time.  Or enjoy a quick healthy smoothie!  There are options.  You just have to make it a priority.  Pinterest is amazing, my friends!  There are many great options for you.   Check out this great recipe!

Ingredients_ Nonstick cooking spray 2 cups cooked quinoa 2 large eggs, lightly beaten 2 large egg whites%2

Just not hungry in the morning?  Cut back on the coffee.  Caffeine suppresses the appetite.  Introduce small amounts of food for breakfast, like half an apple with a tablespoon of almond butter.  As your body gets used to digesting food in the morning, you might notice a bigger appetite in the morning.

Happy Eating!!