Professional holistic health and nutrition counselor and certified yoga instructor, Pegah Kadkhodaian, who is also a good friend of Progressive Pulse and who owns and operates PKNY Health, shares with us valuable and savvy nutritional advice for our optimal Summer living, traveling and general well being. We asked Pegah to explain how nutrients affect our moods, what to shop for this Summer, how to travel effectively and not lose our physical and nutritional progress, plus Pegah shares one of her favorite Summer recipes. You can follow and keep up with Pegah here:
Instagram handle: pknyhealth
twitter handle @pknyhealth
Progressive Pulse: How has food and nutrition changed your perspective on life?
Pegah Kadkhodaian: I have always been a bit of a health nut, so nutrition and food science has always been a pet passion of mine. It wasn’t until I went through the Institute for Integrative Nutrition that I fully realized just how much I had yet to learn and how little I really knew. As a result of that education and making health counseling my profession, which demands a continuous expansion of my knowledge, I have a whole new respect and understanding of how food (and anything we put in our bodies really) affects every single area of our lives. What we ingest affects every other system of the body from the nervous system (brain function) to the endocrine system (hormones) to our immune system. Food is as much medicine as it is a source of pleasure and entertainment.
Progressive Pulse: Does the food we eat directly affect our daily moods?
Pegah Kadkhodaian: Absolutely! As I mentioned in the previous answer, the foods we eat have a profound impact on all the systems of our body. There are foods that will enhance brain function and mood (Omega 3’s and B6 as an example) and foods that will tend to depress brain function and compromise seratonin levels and dopamine. These are processes, highly refined packaged foods, and things that compromise intestinal flora or good bacteria in the gut or small intestine.
Progressive Pulse: What foods should we be shopping for to optimize our health for Summer living?
Pegah Kadkhodaian: I would say all year long, fermented foods that promote good intestinal flora and foods rich in omega 3’s like fish or chia, flax and hemp. Specific to summer, cooling foods…my favorite summery ingredient that has tremendous health benefits as well is Cilantro! Anti-inflamatory, antimicrobial components, and cooling!
Progressive Pulse: What foods are in season right now that you are most passionate about?
Pegah Kadkhodaian: This time of year, we have such an abundance of produce so it is hard to land on just one thing but I would have to say I tend to be really into my greens anytime time of year. The other great thing to get into right now, while in season is berries and cherries. They have tons of antioxidants and are really wonderful for women’s hormone health.
Progressive Pulse: Any advice for ordering off a menu at restaurants?
Pegah Kadkhodaia: Don’t be shy or afraid to order like Sally from When Harry Met Sally. Ask questions, get specific, and don’t be afraid to ask for what you want. Ask about gluten free options and then go further and ask about ingredients. Ask how things are prepared and don’t be shy about asking the chef to prepare something in a healthier way like steaming or water sautéing. Also, making a meal out of sides is a really great way to order healthier alternatives.
Progressive Pulse: Our readers travel a lot, any advice for trying to stay healthy nutritionally, while traveling this Summer?
Pegah Kadkhodaia: I think the key to travel is a two fold. One, plan ahead and if you think healthy snacks won’t be immediately available to you, take some non-perishable things with you like nuts and unsweetened dried fruits or Lara Bars. The other thing is to shift your mindset about vacationing. When you travel you have an incredible opportunity to create new healthy habits because your brain is primed to create new neural pathways. Instead of looking at a vacation as a time to throw all your healthy ambitions to the wind, look at time away as a means of trying new delicious healthy things and going on fun active adventures to get your body moving. Maybe you will find a new physical activity you are into that you can take back home with you, or try a
new food that is outside your comfort zone that has tons of health benefits.
Progressive Pulse: Is breakfast still considered the most important meal of the day?
Pegah Kadkhodaia: Yes! Maintaining level blood sugar is really important for both keeping inflammation at bay and for hormone health. When you don’t eat breakfast, not only does that negatively affect your metabolism, but your blood sugar takes a dive and you are already setting yourself up for the blood sugar roller coaster which you want to avoid.
Progressive Pulse: How do you jump start your day nutritionally for starting your day?
Pegah Kadkhodaia: I love starting my day with a rockin’ green smoothie. The great thing about blending is that you can pack in a lot of micronutrients (vitamins and minerals). You are also helping the body absorb all those nutrients because you have started the work of mechanically breaking the food down so the body doesn’t have to work as hard. The thing to keep in mind is that for blood sugar balance you want a nice balance of protein (think almond butter, hemp, chia, or pea protein), fiber (anything that grows in the ground, fruits, veggies, oats etc.), and fat (nuts, nut butters, coconut oil, avocado, etc.) Greens are the most abundant source of micronutrients including potassium, magnesium, iron, calcium, and so much more. They also give you a light wonderful energy and are awesome for respiratory health.
Progressive Pulse: Can you share one of your favorite recipes that you love making this Summer?
Pegah Kadkhodaia: This is a toughie. If you follow me on instagram or on the FB page you will see that cooking is a huge passion of mine. I usually just cook from the hip and make things up as I go but one of my favorite salads this summer is an asian slaw of sorts. Again, I don’t use super exact measurements so this is an estimation with regard to how much of each ingredient:
Savory Summer Asian Slaw
1/2 head Napa Cabbage
1 cup snow peas
1 tablespoon garlic shoots
1/4 cup flat leaf parsley
1/4 cup cilantro
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
2 tablespoons sunflower seeds
Drizzle with rice vinegar and toasted sesame oil to taste and spray with Braggs liquid aminos, again to taste and toss.
This will keep in your fridge for 3-4 days no problem.
Follow Pegah Below:
Instagram handle: pknyhealth
twitter handle @pknyhealth