By Kathy Smart
Photography by Gord Weber
We are all unique and our food needs are equally unique. What we crave is a message to us of what we may be lacking and how our metabolism is working. Consider the information as the tip of the iceberg as to what your cravings mean.
You Crave: Sweets!
You Need: Chromium
Chromium is a mineral that helps to balance blood sugar. When your blood sugar is unstable your body screams to balance it. A quick shot of sweets brings blood sugar up, fast, but when your blood sugar crashes yet again, we want another sweet!
Increase: Foods naturally high in chromium like carrots, sweet potatoes, whole grains and eggs.
You Crave: Chocolate!
You Need: Magnesium
80% of us are deficient in magnesium. Stress can be a cause of magnesium deficiency, and a lack of magnesium tends to magnify the stress reaction, worsening the problem. In studies, adrenaline and cortisol, byproducts of the â€śfight or flightâ€ť reaction associated with stress and anxiety, were associated with decreased magnesium. (No wonder when you a stressed you want a chocolate bar!)
Increase: Foods naturally high in magnesium dark leafy greens, nuts, seeds, fish, beans, whole grains, avocados, yogurt, bananas, dried fruit and dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa).
You Crave: Carbs! (Bread, pasta, donuts)
You Need: Tryptophan
When you crave carbohydrates this is a sign you are lacking the amino acid tryptophan, the chemical the body uses to synthesize serotonin. Serotonin is that feel-good, happy chemical that regulates our moods! Many times when we are feeling depressed, that is why we reach for bread!
Increase: Whole grains, exercise and fish oil.
You Crave: Meat!
You Need: Iron, Zinc
Craving meat could be a sign the body is in need of more iron. Iron and zinc play a vital role in supporting the immune system, as it helps to transport oxygen throughout the body. Without it, we become fatigued, prone to infection, skin eruptions and tired.
Increase: Foods naturally high in iron and zinc like pumpkin seeds, black strap molasses, dark leafy greens and organic free-range beef.
Kathy Smart is an Ottawa nutritionist, holistic chef, personal fitness trainer, founder of Live The Smart Way and is known as North Americaâ€™s Gluten-Free Expert.
Flourless Chocolate Cake
- 12 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped
- Âľ cup coconut oil
- ÂĽ tsp. fine salt
- 6 large eggs, room temperature
- 1 cup coconut sugar or sucanat
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- Confectionerâ€™s sugar and/or cocoa powder for dusting
Preheat oven to 325F. Spray a 9 x 2 inch springform pan or an 8 x 5 inch pan with non-stick spray. Place the chocolate, coconut oil and salt in a pot and melt on stove over low heat. Beat the eggs, vanilla and coconut sugar with a stand or handheld mixer until light and thickened (about 8 to 10 minutes). Gently fold the melted chocolate into the whipped eggs until evenly combined. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out wet, but not gooey (about 85 minutes). Remove the cake from the oven and cool on a rack.
Nutritional facts per serving: Calories 277; Fats 18.5g; Carbs 28.6; Potassium 25mg; Sodium 71mg.
Sweet Potato Chili
- 1 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1 large red onion, diced
- 1 Tbsp. each of chili powder, ground cumin and unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 Tbsp. fresh garlic, peeled and chopped
- Pinch of cinnamon
- 3 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
- 16 oz jar salsa (I prefer the hot)
- 15 oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
- 4 cups of vegetable stock
Place the olive oil and diced onion in a pot and sautĂ©. Add the sweet potato and all of the spices and cook for 5 minutes. Add the rest of the ingredients, bring to a boil on medium heat, then lower to a simmer and cook for about 30 minutes. Serve the chili with fresh cilantro, avocado, a squeeze of fresh lime and tortilla chips.
Nutritional facts per serving: Calories 172; Fats 3.2g; Carbs 32g; Potassium 658mg; Sodium 505mg; Fibre 8g.