real food

Like What You See….?

…But could do without all the big words? Follow Samantha and The Nourished Soul on Instagram! All you have to do is click follow, and feast your eyes on the pretty pictures. No reading required.

Instagram username is @realfoodisthebest.


See ya there ;-).


Vitamin D: The Sunshine Vitamin

As we say goodbye to the winter months, we welcome the spring time with open and bare arms. We get to say goodbye to sweaters, scarves, and 4pm sunsets, and hello to sun dresses and sun-kissed cheeks. So for this Nutrient Spotlight, I thought I might talk about a vitamin we get from the wonderful, amazing, nutritious rays of the SUN! Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin responsible for an array of crucial bodily functions — maintaining bone density may be the most talked about. The primary role vitamin D plays in bone density involves allowing absorption of Calcium.

So, where do we get Vitamin D?

Did you know that most of the Vitamin D that our bodies make comes from sunlight? Now, it doesn’t take a day of sunbathing on the beach to reap the benefits of the sun’s nutrient-saturated rays. All you need is about 5-10 minutes of direct, UNPROTECTED sunshine (that means no sunscreen, with some skin showing) per day to get enough exposure. So, if you can make that happen, you’re covered! After your allotted Vitamin D time, definitely throw on that sunscreen to protect yourself from irreparable skin damage, which can lead to visible changes and skin cancer.

Here’s the process, from sun through skin:body-vitaminD

If 5 minutes of sunshine per day is not possible for you, as is often the case in the summer months here in San Francisco, do not fear. There are other ways to meet your D-quota for the day!

What are good dietary sources of Vitamin D? How can we make sure to get enough when the sun doesn’t want to come out to play?

The good news for those of us who won’t be getting to soak up the sun during summer months, or for those dreading the winter’s gloomy return, is that there are alternative sources of Vitamin D. Food sources are limited, but do exist. They include fatty fish, mushrooms, and fortified milk; egg yolks provide a small amount as well. A number of other foods may also be fortified with Vitamin D, including cereals and milk substitutes like soy. Just be sure to read the labels on these items, and try to avoid adding highly processed foods into your diet in the pursuit of added nutrients — my opinion is that it’s not worth the trade off.


 Keep it natural!

There has been some controversy over the use of UV (ultraviolet) lamps to increase vitamin D production. On one hand, the rays have been shown to increase the nutrient concentration in mushrooms, which produce Vitamin D the same way we do. Also, users of these devices have reported noticeable improvement in mood, and fewer symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) during winter months. However, these lamps also come with risk of skin damage and cancer. It may be best to discuss the risks and benefits with your doc to determine if a UV lamp is right for you.

If you are still having trouble getting enough quality sun time, and feel your diet may be lacking, speak with your physician about getting a simple blood test to check for Vitamin D deficiency. Your MD may then recommend a Vitamin D supplement if you are deficient. I highly recommend checking your levels before starting a supplement, and always check with your physician before starting any kind of regimen to avoid dangerous interactions or toxicity (too much Vitamin D). Remember, supplementation will typically only provide benefit to those who are deficient in a nutrient. Otherwise, you might as well be swallowing capsulized cash.


What do you think?

What are some ways you clock some outdoor hours to make sure you get enough sun time? Do you take supplements, or use a UV light? Want to share your favorite recipe using Vitamin D rich foods?

Weight Loss Weapon: The Big Mac

Browsing Yahoo! News a few weeks ago, I came across the following article:


Brief synopsis: CEO of McDonald’s states that he was able to lose 20 lbs through increasing physical activity. The shocker here is that Mr. Don Thompson claims he’s not changed his habit of supporting his golden arches by eating there… EVER. SINGLE. DAY.

Upon reading this, I found myself enraged, wanting to rant to the world my thoughts on why this was a huge problem. Then I remembered…. that’s why I created THIS BLOG! So, here’s my take:


 I don’t doubt Thompson’s claim. If you are a sedentary person, if you begin exercising,  your body will require more calories. If you make NO changes to your diet, but are increasing your energy expenditure, you creat an energy deficit. In other words, you are taking in fewer calories than you are getting rid of, which happens to be the exact recipe for weight loss.


While McDonald’s does provide meals that clock in at astronomical percentages of one’s daily needs (1 large French Fry order alone will provide you with 500 calories, 44% of which comes from fat–mostly NOT the good kind), there are some lower-cal options. However, my primary concern in putting this “food” (if that’s what you want to call it) into my body, and the bodies of those I love, goes beyond the sheer number of calories it provides. If you’re a regular reader here at The Nourished Soul, you know I am seriously partial to REAL FOOD. I believe that a healthy diet may certainly include indulgences, but that these treats are best consumed in the form of real ingredients–not chemicals, additives, and perservatives. McDonald’s–and other fast food joints–take processed food to the extreme. Not only are the offerings of this international chain NOT something I would consider near the realm of real food, as it is all highly processed, but additionally, the additives and non-food ingredients (i.e. chemicals — some of which even *I* cannot pronounce) are substances that our bodies do not recognize, and cannot break down, digest, and use as fuel, or for any other purpose, other than poisoning our insides. I mean, does “dimethylpolysiloxane” sound like something your body can translate?

“Could I get a medium fry, hold the sodium acid pyrophosphate, please?”


These are my personal and professional opinions on the idea of losing weight through maintaining calorie deficit alone–meaning to completely ignore what type of calories we are putting into our bodies. Yes, we all CAN lose weight by simply counting calories. But I believe in head to toe wellness, and if you’re reading this, my hunch is you do too. And I strongly feel that to be our best and feel our best, we must treat ourselves LIKE THE BEST.

What do you think? Is Thompson’s method healthy, because it does lead to weight loss?

What are some healthy tips that have worked for you in the past?