Category Archives: Healthy Eating!

DIY Bubble (Boba) Tea

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I know some people out there have a problem eating strange textures, I’m just not one of them. When Bubble (Boba) Tea came out, I was thrilled to chew on those big gummy balls. It was equally exciting to suck them up through that fat straw. What a fun drink! Right?

It had been a few years since I had one, so I stopped by the little shop in the mall excited to experience Bubble Tea again. This time I was seeing the place through new eyes. Instead of being lured by the sweet concoctions or swayed by the colorful powders lined up against the wall, I was a little horrified. What on earth is in Bubble Tea anyway?

Just like a million times before, I cursed my nutrition education and walked out of the store without a drink in hand.

Not to be dissuaded from my growing craving, I decided to figure out another way. Did you know that you can order Bobas (tapioca pearls) on Amazon? Of course you can! (Small soapbox: Please buy local when you can.) So, I ordered some Boba, and figured out how to make my own version where the ingredients aren’t a mystery.

The basic ingredients of Bubble Tea are great (tea, milk, a little sweet, and tapioca pearls) and easy to combine on your own.

Here’s what you do:

  1. Obtain your bobas
  2. Cook them up according to the directions. It should take a whole 5 minutes. Note: I learned the hard way that Boba doesn’t store well – only make enough for one day.
  3. Make your tea of choice (fruity, black, green, matcha, rooibos, white)
  4. Choose your creamer (dairy, non-dairy, full fat, non-fat)
  5. Choose your level of sweet (stevia, sugar, honey)
  6. Add your Boba
  7. If you’re really fancy, order the big fat straws too (I used an un-cool but eco-friendly spoon)
  8. Enjoy!

Here are my cooked plump Bobas:

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Here is my finished product … a decaf Chai with full-fat coconut milk and stevia – Yummo!

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Hey that sounds like a Starbucks drink. I wonder why they haven’t boarded this train yet? Let me know what your favorite combination is below. I’d love to hear from you!

 

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Healthy Kid Lunches Made Easy

Are you constantly on the go with the children in tow? Is the lunch packing, breakfast eating, fast track you call a school morning creating familial meltdowns? Trying to feed your family is tough. Trying to feed your family healthy, unprocessed foods, especially at school, can be tougher. If you’d like your kids to eat a healthy lunch that doesn’t take too much time to make, then keep reading!

Make a Plan…

I have two words for you: advanced planning. Five days a week we have to make lunch interesting enough for our children to want to eat it. Here are a few fun, quick, nutritious suggestions that will make the morning scramble a little less hectic.

Chop, chop…

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Chop fruits and vegetables up at the beginning week that will last until Friday. Veggies are a bit harder than fruit for children to get jazzed up about. You can cut up green beans, carrots, cucumbers, and corn niblets. Choose veggies that you know your children like and make them fun. I make little eye and mouth holes in the cucumbers, add a touch of light ranch to incite more interest in the carrots. Corn and green beans are fabulous warm or cold and great finger foods. Strawberries, sliced bananas, blackberries, and grapes are all wonderful, healthy treats for lunchtime. Throw the grapes in the freezer for snack time! A frozen, tasty tidbit!

Rollups the healthy way…

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Sick of PBJ and Lunchables? Try a deli-meat roll-up instead. You can use turkey, ham, roast beef, chicken. Any sliced deli-meat will do (preferably organic and without nitrates). Fill them with cream cheese, pineapple, peas, red peppers, greek yogurt….anything and everything. You can prepare these in advance so that half their lunch is already made for the week!

Get them involved….

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Have your children get involved with making their own lunch the night before. Ask them what they want for lunch. See what kind of suggestions they make, and counter offer with a healthier choice. Instead of cookies, suggest graham crackers. If they ask for a sugary yogurt, give them greek yogurt and sweeten it up with some strawberries or honey. Instead of chips, how about some pretzel sticks? Let them make their own sandwich, and make fun shapes with them using cookie cutters.

Try a blended approach…

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I’ve never met a kid who wasn’t crazy for a smoothie. Use your blender and add bite-sized pieces of fruit (or veggies). I love to add dark leafy greens. Add a dollop of yogurt and some crushed ice or some frozen fruit and blend. Voila! A healthy snack for lunch time (and they won’t know it’s healthy)! You can play around with different flavors by adding peanut butter, coconut, nuts, etc. This one is also easy to avoid particular diet allergies you may have.

Don’t forget to utilize that thermos…

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Remember that Steve Martin thermos song? “I’m picking out a thermos for you. Not an ordinary thermos for you.” I digress, but check it out for a laugh, here. How about chicken noodle soup or turkey chili for a cold day? Instead of sending them to school with juice, trade it out with some tea sweetened with a bit of honey.

Try a Bento Box…

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You can really shake your child’s lunchtime routine up by picking up a bento box. They make them specifically for kids now, and have several different compartments for a variety of lunchtime offerings! Let’s have fun with lunchtime and keep the kids from trading their dull lunches for Cheetos!

What works for your family? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

 

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How Green Smoothies Saved My Life

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By: Dr. Jessica McCord, Guest Blogger

It’s been almost 2 years since I made my first green smoothie, and you can bet that I celebrate that anniversary!  I would never have thought that such a simple thing could change my health, my eating habits, my awareness (of what goes in my body), and my overall mood and well-being.

I used to drag myself out of bed, rush around the house with no time to spare, except for grabbing  the all-important large mug of coffee full of creamer and sugar.  No breakfast, perhaps a sugary snack sometime in the morning, followed by my afternoon ritual of Coca-Cola or a super-sweet White Mocha from Starbucks.  I needed my caffeine, I didn’t have time for breakfast, and I rarely ate lunch. When I did, it was usually something processed and microwaved with very little nutritional value.

I came home each day feeling tired, battled frequent headaches, caught every little cold that crossed my path, had terrible constipation and bloating (you ladies know what I’m talking about) and didn’t sleep very well.  I ate out most evenings, had little motivation to work out, and felt lethargic a vast majority of the time.

One day, Lisa (owner of this blog and one of my oldest and dearest friends) pointed out a few questionable ingredients in my sacred coffee creamer. We talked about alternatives and sweeteners.  She knew I needed to take baby steps away from my caffeine overload so she gave me advice she knew I could handle at the time.

It didn’t take long for me to start questioning other parts of my diet such as the amount of sugar in my routine, the lack of good healthy foods, and my continued exhaustion.  Changing my coffee creamer and sweetener was a good first baby step, but I knew I needed to do more.

Lisa talked me through my first green smoothie, and although I’ve made little tweaks here and there, it’s remained mostly the same over these past few years. I found a way to get a healthier version of my caffeine in there that even has anti-carcinogenic properties (green tea powder, or Matcha).

I know I’m a nerd for getting excited to wake up in the morning to make my smoothies, BUT they have changed my life.  First, it’s amazing that I am excited to get up in the mornings (ask my husband, he has often incurred my morning wrath). I now wake up 2 hours before I have to be anywhere so I have time to make my smoothie and enjoy it while I relax and do some reading to begin my day.

Not to mention, I now visit my bathroom like clockwork…every morning. Every morning!  That’s right, no more regular constipation and bloating! I leave the house with a happy tummy, a good head-start on my fruits and veggies for the day, and a desire to keep my daily habits in line with my awesome beginning to the day.

I never drank water before I began my smoothie regimen.  Now I drink it all the time. Somehow downing a Coke and a latte every afternoon lost its luster knowing how great I feel without them!  My body loves me for listening to it.

It’s so empowering knowing where my food comes from, reading labels, and taking on healthy habits. My morning smoothies are the way I begin my day with health and it truly carries through the rest of my day.

I rarely get headaches or colds, my stomach is regulated, I have way more energy, and I sleep great. Eventually, I started running and doing yoga because I feel motivated to compliment my healthy eating habits with some exercise. My skin is glowing and I feel wonderful… all from a little smoothie. What an easy and satisfying way to get on the path to better health!

I encourage everyone to try it out, so here’s my recipe below.  Try out different fruits and combinations to suit your style. That’s the great thing about smoothies – you can personalize them to your own needs and tastes.

Jess’s Green Smoothie

All ingredients are organic…it’s worth it!

Place the following in your blender:

  • Handful of spinach (or your favorite greens)
  • Handful of baby carrots
  • 1 scoop of Amazing Grass GreenFoods (I use chocolate or the berry blend, but you can choose your favorite flavor)
  • 1 cup or so of SoDelicious Original Coconut Milk (I’ve tried the unflavored, that’s good too)
  • I scoop of Natural Factors Whey Protein (unflavored) Helps keep you full until lunch!
  • A tablespoon of honey (I do this because I buy local honey and it helps with my allergies)
  • I teaspoon of green tea power (Matcha)
  • About a cup of frozen mixed berries

Then blend and enjoy! Cheers to your health.

ImageJessica McCord, PhD.

Jessica just recently graduated (with honors) from UNM with her Doctorate in Special Education. When she’s not drinking green smoothies, she spends her time trying to figure out how to save the world one student at a time. You might also find her riding bikes with her police officer hubby, playing with her two adorable dogs Bella and Indigo, and sometimes you’ll find her rollerblading along the Rio Grande with me.

 

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How to Get Off the Holiday Sugar Train

You did it! You survived the holiday season. Well almost, New Years is still around the corner. We don’t have to wait until then to start talking about pulling the reins back in and getting off the sugar train. The solution doesn’t have to be complicated, hard, or require a special diet.

Your favorite holiday drug …

CookieMonster

If you’ve ever been to one of my presentations you probably know that I’m a professed recovering sugar addict. The kind of thing you don’t like to admit as a “Health Coach.” Sugar is addictive. If you don’t believe me, consider this….a substance is classified as addictive if:

  • Eating a small amount creates a desire for more (who eats one cookie?)
  • Suddenly quitting causes withdrawal symptoms such as headache, mood swings, cravings, and fatigue (sound familiar?).
  • Loss of control (the “standing in the freezer sneaking ice cream bites” syndrome)
  • Continued use despite adverse consequences (when you can actually see your butt expanding but you don’t care)
  • Relapse rate is 97% (the “what’s one bite?” syndrome)
  • Progressive and terminal (the more you eat, the more you want and the more you eat, the worse it is for your health)

In the past few weeks if you indulged in some sweetness, did you find yourself craving more (probably at the same time of day)? I did. And did you give in? I did.  And have you found yourself sneaking a few small treats every day swearing to yourself that come New Years, you’ll stop or start exercising or something along those lines? I did. Don’t beat yourself up. You’re up against an addictive and delicious foe.

So what to do now…? 

Am I asking you to give up sweets? Absolutely not! I’ve done that and it’s a road that doesn’t lead you to a healthier place. It actually leads to a crazy place where you feel starved no matter how much you put in your belly. A healthy life is a balanced one – so expecting yourself to forever abstain from something your body naturally craves doesn’t seem very plausible.

My point is that it is really easy to get addicted to sugar and start an unhealthy habit vs. indulging in a well-deserved once-in-a-while treat. Follow these tips and I guarantee you can get off the sugar train. I do it every time I feel myself slipping and you can too.

Get off the sugar train…

1. Go cold turkey – I’m serious. The longer you keep eating it the longer it takes to break the craving cycle. Get it out of your body and the cravings will stop. It takes 3 days for me. That’s it.

You’ll want to cut out all refined sugar. I would also suggest taking out fruit juices for a while if you drink those a lot. You can also choose to cut out refined white flour products as well because they act as simple sugars in the body.

2. Make a plan

  • Clear the temptation out of your house as best you can. Out-of-sight out-of-mind works too. All of my husband’s stuff gets banished to “the drawer”.
  • Buy alternatives that make you excited about food and will help quell the yelling sweet tooth.  Plan out your week. What are you going to eat for meals and snacks? Are there any events you need to navigate? If you don’t plan – you won’t make it. Take 30 minutes and get your butt to the store.

Here are some naturally sweet ideas:

    • Roasted root veggies with coconut oil and cinnamon
    • Fruit salad
    • Fruit smoothie (with real fruit)
    • Sliced apples with nut butter
    • Dried fruits/nuts (GORP)
    • Mix raw honey into unsweetened Greek yogurt
    • Sweet herb teas
    • Celery and nut butter and raisins
    • Fresh or dried figs with a hazelnut
    • Baked sweet potato
    • Stevia (a natural alternative to artificial sweetener and the only one I recommend)

3. Eat a solid delicious breakfast – you hear this one all the time…because it’s TRUE! Starting off with something that’s going to keep you satiated and well-nourished goes a long way to set you up to be immune against pesky cravings. Here’s a list of awesome breakfast ideas.

4. Walk it off – just a small walk can do wonders for your mood and it beats cravings. Half the time we’re just bored when we open the refrigerator door. Get out there and get your endorphins going. You’ll be a different human when you get back. If a walk isn’t your thing – just move somehow.

Walk Motivators: Go with someone to spend time together, call a friend you haven’t talked to in a while on the way, take the dog, take time for you and leave everything else at home, or listen to an audio book.

5. Ditch the caffeine habit – don’t unsubscribe yet just hear me out. I know to some of you this sounds completely impossible. I promise, I understand the fear that strikes your heart at the idea of a morning without coffee. Here’s the truth about caffeine. It may help you temporarily but it sets you up for a crash later that leaves you more tired and craving quick energy like simple sugars.

Try it and if you don’t have more energy and less cravings … go back. I’ve had many clients thank me for getting them off the habit.

6. Drink more water – the bonus here is that your skin will look amazing instantly if you can master this.This is how much you need…

•200 lbs = 12.5 cups = 4.5 water bottles (22oz)
•180 lbs = 11.25 cups = 4 water bottles
•160 lbs = 10 cups = 3.6 water bottles
•140 lbs = 8.75 cups = 3.1 water bottles
•120 lbs = 7.5 cups = 2.7 water bottles
•100 lbs =  6.25 cups = 2.3 water bottles

Why it really does matter…

Excess sugar consumption is tied to almost every disease including many types of cancer. It’s also tied to things like premature aging, wrinkles, weight gain.  So basically, too much sugar makes you sick, old, fat, and wrinkled before your time. Awesome. All very good reasons to get it under control.

How much is too much? …

You might be thinking that this is all great for people who abuse sugar but that’s certainly not you, am I right? You only sweeten your coffee so what’s the big deal. The American Heart Association recommends no more than 6 tsp for women and 9 tsp for men. The average adult consumes approximately 22 tsp while the average child consumes 32tsp per day because it’s nicely hidden in so many of our fav foods. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Do you eat food from a box?
  • Do you eat out?
  • Do you eat white bread or flour products (pretzels, cookies, crackers, waffles)?
  • Do you drink sodas or sweetened drinks of any kind (tea, redbull, soda, gatorade)?
  • Do you love sweet dairy…(yogurts, ice cream)?
  • Are you a Starbucks junkie?
  • Do you order fries to eat the ketchup?
  • Do you eat cereal or any kind of pastry for breakfast?
  • Do you read labels to see what your food is made of?

If you answered yes to these questions and no to the last one – I can promise you’re getting more added sugar than you suspect you are. You’re not alone. We do sugar in a BIG way in this country. Check out this article for some stats that you won’t even believe. 

The bottom line…

You can break your sugar habit. As you learn to eat without so much sugar you’ll stop craving it and start to notice how it impacts your energy and general well-being – so it’s easy to keep it up. 80% of the time I do my best to eat well and 20% of the time I say eff it and eat what makes me happy. Luckily a lot of the time, the healthy stuff is what makes me happy because I feel the best and you will too. You can do it. And if you can’t, I can help. Talk to me.

 

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Easy Ways to Avoid Eating BPA for Dinner

BPA bottles

The federal Food and Drug Administration barred Bisphenol A (BPA) in baby bottles and children’s cups in June 2012 but it is still prevalent in food packaging and in our bodies. In fact, BPA is found in detectable levels in 93% of Americans over the age of six according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In this article we’ll cover what it is, where to find it, and easy ways to avoid it.

So, what the heck is BPA?…

It was first synthesized in 1891 and has become a key building block of plastics from polycarbonate to polyester. In the U.S. alone, more than 2.3 billion pounds is manufactured annually.

How it gets in your body…

That number makes a lot of sense when you factor in that it’s found in common products most of us have in our homes like hard plastic water bottles, food containers, canned food and soda/beer cans. The BPA leaches from the plastic containers and linings of canned goods into the food inside and then we ingest it.

In 2011, researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health determined that volunteers who ate a single serving of canned soup a day for five days had ten times the amount of BPA in their bodies compared to when they ate fresh soup daily.

Higher temperatures such as those achieved by microwaving, using the dishwasher, or leaving plastic water bottles in a hot car can increase the rate of leaching by as much as 55%.

Why it’s dangerous…

You’ve probably noticed an increase in products labeled “BPA free” in recent years as more and more people become aware of the dangers. BPA is a known hormone disruptor, even in small amounts, due to its estrogen mimicking effects in the body.

BPA exposure has been linked to:

• Obesity

• Low sperm count

• Infertility

• Diabetes

• Heart disease

• Changes in brain development

• Predisposition to breast and prostrate cancer

Is “BPA free” a safe alternative?

Good question. When scientists conducted lab tests on more than 20 top-brand baby bottles along with more than 450 plastic food and beverage-packages, virtually all leached chemicals that acted like the hormone estrogen, even though many were free of BPA.  Minimizing your plastic exposure is really the best bet and it’s not as hard or expensive as it sounds.

How to decrease your exposure…

Canned-Food Ideas:

  • Avoid canned foods when possible by substituting non-canned variations from the frozen/bulk section or in tetra-pak containers (the cardboard box)
  • Look for canned food with BPA-free liners. There are several brands that have committed to BPA free liners such as: EcoFish, VitalChoice, Wild Planet, Eden Organic (beans only)
  • Buy beverages like sodas or beer in glass
  • Buy your tomatoes in glass jars or a tetra-pak (acidity increases BPA leaching)

Food Storage Ideas:

  • Swap out your plastic food storage containers for glass ones and avoid food contact with plastic lids – you can get a starter set for just over $20
  • Drink tap water or buy a reusable stainless steel/glass water bottle as opposed to plastic bottled water
  • Avoid microwaving and dishwashing plastic containers
  • Swap out plastic baby bottles/cups for glass or stainless varieties – common brands are Pura Stainless, Lifefactory, and EvenFlo but there are many more if you do a search.

Other ways to reduce exposure:

  • Switch your plastic coffee-maker for a French press or ceramic drip
  • Use real metal utensils instead of plastic – including those you cook with like spatulas and big spoons
  • Avoid food packaging with recycle codes 3 or 7
  • Say no to receipts when possible (many are coated with BPA)
  • Instead of looking for BPA free, simply avoid plastics when you can help it (especially anything that touches your food)

The bottom line…

While it may not be possible to eliminate BPA from your life entirely, decreasing the amount that comes into contact with your food will decrease BPA in your body and family in a big way. BPA will exit your system pretty quickly (in hours or days). The trick is to quit letting it back in. You got this!

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5 Surprising Sugar Bombs in your Kitchen Right Now

5 Surprising Sugar Bombs in your Kitchen Right Now

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We do sugar in this country like we do everything else…in a BIG way, but it hasn’t always been like this. The average American now consumes about 130 pounds of sugar per year. That’s 3 pounds per week or 3,550 pounds over a lifetime.  (Check out this infographic about our sugar consumption. It will blow your mind.)

You may be thinking, “There’s no way I eat that much sugar.” Most of us don’t consume that much sugar on purpose but it comes hidden in many of our everyday foods.

Excess sugar is definitely not our friend. It has been linked to weight gain, depression, low-energy, metabolic, heart, and cardiovascular disease, acne, hormone imbalances, inflammation, aging, and more. According to Corporate Health Magazine, a whopping 35-49 percent of children born after 2000 will fall into diabetic ranges. Yikes! Luckily, a little knowledge goes a long way and we have the power to reverse this frightening trend.

Here are a few surprising sugar bombs that may be lurking in your kitchen right now and simple ways to switch them out for healthier options:

Note: To turn grams into teaspoons simply divide by 4 for an approximation. For the items listed below, I also included approximate teaspoons as a measure we might know a little better.

1. Protein bars – These guys are often put in the fit and healthy corner but in reality can be loaded with sugar. A PowerBar contains 25g or 6tsp of sugar. There are three different versions of simple sugars in just the first five ingredients. That’s equivalent to a Hershey chocolate bar.

Sugar fix – If you must have a protein bar, look for a lower-sugar version with quality ingredients that you recognize. A better alternative is trail mix. Take a visit to your local bulk bins and put together your own personalized combo of dried fruits and nuts. Look for unsweetened dried fruits.

2. Yogurt – Yogurt is often touted as a health food but many are loaded with added sugars. Milk contains natural sugar called lactose, but usually above and beyond is added high fructose corn syrup or other forms of sugar. A blended Kroger yogurt has 33g or 8tsp of sugar and lists sugar as the second ingredient with a third add-in later down the list. To put that in perspective, there is the same amount of sugar in a Snickers bar.

Sugar fix – Unsweetened greek yogurt is an excellent alternative. If you need extra sweet, add a little bit of raw honey and/fruit. Greek yogurt is also higher in protein keeping you feeling full longer. Bonus!

3. Cereal – So called “healthy” cereals can have as many as 6 health claims on the front of the box reassuring you that you’re doing the right thing by purchasing it. Yet, when you flip it over and read the label – the facts don’t lie. Raisin Bran, for example, contains 17g or 4tsp per 1 cup serving but that’s not from the raisins. It’s due to the added high fructose corn syrup and two other added sweeteners. The same goes for many of the packaged oatmeal choices out there. With that kind of sugar content, it would be like eating Ben & Jerry’s ice cream for breakfast.

Sugar Fix – Read labels in the store and find a low-sugar cereal that you like (hint: you’ll have better luck in a natural store or aisle). Another option is to make your own. I like to mix together raw nuts, chia seeds, rolled oats, and dried or fresh fruit drizzled with a bit of honey. As for oatmeal, choose the unflavored/unsweetened version and choose to dress it up yourself.

4. Drinks – I’m going to pick on Starbucks here because I know many of us share that addiction. One small glass bottle of vanilla cappuccino has 52g or 13tsp of sugar. The little flavored Via packets list sugar as the first ingredient before coffee – which means there is more sugar than coffee in the “coffee” drink.    Other sugary drinks to watch out for include:

  • Coke (20oz)………………………65g or 16tsp
  • Powerade (32oz)………………50g or 12.5tsp
  • Red Bull (12oz)…………………39g or 10tsp
  • Vitamin Water (20oz)………..33g or 8tsp
  • Fruit Juice (8oz)…………………24g or 6tsp

Sugar fix – Water is always the best choice. Try dressing it up with added fruit to make it more interesting. When you go to a coffee place opt for unsweetened drinks that you can sweeten yourself later if you desire. Tea can also be a great choice and has added health benefits. Cut fruit juices with soda water to decrease sugar levels.

5. Sauces – There is a reason why little kids (and some big kids) lick the ketchup right off the fries…you guessed it, sugar. Here are a few examples of sauces with higher sugar levels. One serving of most of these has as much sugar as a glazed doughnut.

  • Ketchup (1Tbs)…………………4g or 1 tsp
  • Spaghetti sauce (1/2cup)…..10g or 2.5tsp
  • BBQ sauce (2Tbs)………………11g or 3tsp
  • Teriyaki sauce(2Tbs)…………11g or 3tsp

Sugar Fix – Try to find alternatives like spice rubs instead of BBQ sauce or mustard instead of ketchup. Sometimes only these sauces will do so opt for the lowest sugar versions you can find and use sparingly. Unsweetened spaghetti sauce is rare but does exist (hint: you’ll have better luck in a natural food store or aisle). Or get creative and make your own healthier versions.

How much is ok…

The American Heart Association says that for most American women, no more than 100 calories per day, or about 6 teaspoons of sugar. For men, it’s 150 calories per day, or about 9 teaspoons. That said, your body doesn’t need added sugars to function and they add absolutely no nutritional value so avoid them when you can. The average adult consumes approximately 22 tsp while the average child consumes 32tsp per day.

Benefits of a low-sugar lifestyle…

  • Weight loss
  • Steadier energy levels
  • An overall feeling of greater well-being
  • More consistent moods
  • Clear skin
  • Alleviation of hormonal issues
  • Reduced chance for metabolic, heart, and cardiovascular disease
  • Stronger immune function
  • So much more

The Bottom Line…

“Sugar is not food. It’s a high calorie drug dressed up in the cutest way.” – Julia Ross

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Why Cut the Crap? – True radiant health comes from a mixture of healthy diet and lifestyle choices. The cost of our fast-paced and convenient life is toxins in and around us.  Ridding your home and family of  toxins that make you sick and drag you down doesn’t have to be hard or time consuming. In this series, you’ll learn the most efficient and easy ways to “cut the crap” so you can just enjoy your life.

 

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The Hidden Dangers of Microwave Popcorn

The Hidden Dangers of Microwave Popcorn

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I recently rediscovered a lost art… popping popcorn in a pan. It was actually fun but I didn’t make the effort just for fun. I recently learned there are hidden dangers associated with microwave popcorn. Microwave popcorn is an essential staple in many households. It’s the “healthy” low-calorie snack for moms and kids alike. It’s supposed to be good for us…but it’s actually not and here’s why.

The popcorn in the bag is probably fine – well minus the excess sodium, trans fats, and artificial flavors. The problem also lies in the bag itself. You know that coating that turns yellow on the inside of the bag and keeps the grease from leaking through? That coating is made up of fluorotelomers (long word for bad chemical stuff). The fluorotelomers break down into PFOAs which is the same chemical found in the non-stick coatings on pans. As the popcorn pops, the coating gets all over the food.

PFOAs have been linked to toxicity of the immune system, thyroid disease, low birth weight, infertility, tumors, endocrine system disruption, and even cancer.

Not only that, but it tends to be a persistent chemical – making it really tough for our bodies to get rid of. It’s not one of those pass right through kind of chemicals.

Ready for the good news? You don’t have to give up popcorn. You can pull out your old air popper or opt to make it in a pan.  Try this recipe to see how fun and easy it is to avoid nasty toxins.

Make Perfect Popcorn in a Pan…

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 1/3 cup of high quality popcorn kernels
  • 1 3-quart covered saucepan
  • 2 Tbsp or more (to taste) of butter
  • Salt to taste

METHOD

  1. Heat the oil in a 3-quart saucepan on medium high heat.
  2. Put 3 or 4 popcorn kernels into the oil and cover the pan.
  3. When the kernels pop, add the rest of the 1/3 cup of popcorn kernels in an even layer. Cover, remove from heat and count 30 seconds. (Count out loud; it’s fun to do with kids.) This method first heats the oil to the right temperature, then waiting 30 seconds brings all of the other kernels to a near-popping temperature so that when they are put back on the heat, they all pop at about the same time.
  4. Return the pan to the heat. The popcorn should begin popping soon, and all at once. Once the popping starts in earnest, gently shake the pan by moving it back and forth over the burner. Try to keep the lid slightly ajar to let the steam from the popcorn release (the popcorn will be drier and crisper). Once the popping slows to several seconds between pops, remove the pan from the heat, remove the lid, and dump the popcorn immediately into a wide bowl. With this technique, nearly all of the kernels pop (I counted 4 unpopped kernels in my last batch), and nothing burns.
  5. If you are adding butter, you can easily melt it by placing the butter in the now empty, but hot pan.
  6. Salt to taste.

Additional tips:

A. If you add salt to the oil in the pan before popping, when the popcorn pops, the salt will be well distributed throughout the popcorn.

B. Fun toppings for the popcorn – Spanish smoked paprika, nutritional yeast, cayenne powder, chili pepper, curry powder, cumin, grated Parmesan cheese.

Yield: Makes 2 quarts, a nice amount for two people, or for one hungry one.

Recipe courtesy of Simply Recipes    

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