Wholesome Healing

Category: NUTRITION

HOW TO NATURALLY BOOST IMMUNITY

Living in a house full of people, trust me… I know all about being sick. It’s amazing how quickly things fly around. 1 person gets sick and before you know it, all 7 of us are sick. I don’t know about anyone else, but I cannot afford to constantly be sick. So after many attempts at “dodging the bullet”, I think I’ve finally narrowed down the trick to avoiding the bug… or at least fighting it more quickly with a stronger immune system. Here are my favorite tips & tricks…

warn-bath-with-epsom-salt

FOUR SUPPLEMENTS I TAKE ON A REGULAR BASIS:

1. High quality, whole-food multi-vitamin
High quality brands include: Divine Health, Garden of Life, and Mega Food
2. Fermented Cod Liver Oil or high quality Fish Oil
I prefer Fermented Cod Liver Oil for the vitamin D boost, but fish oil is great too. Just look for a high quality one and supplement with extra vitamin D if needed.
3. High quality Vitamin C
Vitamin C is usually made from corn, most of which is GM. If you are trying to avoid GMOs, look for a high quality, whole food vitamin. Here is one made without corn.
Note: I supplement with vitamin C because I have thyroid issues but I also love it because it helps me to recover faster when I workout.
4. Magnesium
This is best taken not as a vitamin but as a mineral bath with magnesium flakes. (I’ll get into this more on another post).

supplements

FOUR SUPPLEMENTS I ADD TO BOOST IMMUNITY:

1. Double dose of Fermented Cod Liver Oil or high quality Fish Oil
I only double the dose for a few days, then go back to my normal dose.
2. Double dose of high quality Vitamin C
Same as above, I only double it for about 3 days, then go back to my normal daily dose.
3. Oil of Oregano 
A powerful antioxidant that only needs to be used for a short amount of time to boost immunity, depending on the supplement form. If it’s concentrated, you may only need to use if for a few days, and then stop.
4. Elderberry Syrup
An awesome anti-viral remedy that can be used as many days as you feel is necessary. Just mix it into a little water, add ice, and it tastes just like a berry tea!

372_34422283817_6468_n
FOUR THINGS I TRY TO DO DIFFERENTLY TO BOOST IMMUNITY:

1. Get more sleep & take it easy.

Your body does it’s most important repairing work during times of sleep. It’s wise to increase your normal sleep time to allow your body to fight off any infection. Beyond more sleep, you should also try reducing unnecessary stresses. This can mean doing more walking instead of high intensity or long duration workouts or anything that causes you to feel over-stressed and fatigued. 
2. Avoid refined sugar like the plague. 
This was something I had heard before I really decided to try it. The fact is, sugar does cause inflammation in the body and makes it much more difficult to absorb vitamin C, so even if you are taking some vitamin C here and there, you may be sabotaging your immunity with all that extra sugar you’re indulging in to make yourself feel better. This really hit me when I got sick right before I started a sugar detox. At the end of day 1 of the detox, I felt 50% better. On day 2, I was 100% better. If you’ve already caught something and you’re battling a sore throat, ginger tea with raw honey is great, so is raw honey mixed with a little cinnamon. Yes, honey is sugar but if you buy raw then it’s not refined. 
3. Drink more water and less everything else.
Flush out the toxins with water. If you can, try to drink less caffeine, milk, sodas, juices, etc. Teas that don’t contain caffeine are completely acceptable. Certain varieties can actually help reduce inflammation (try rooibos or chamomile).
4. Eat real food.
If you don’t know what I mean by this, go over to my Real Food Challenge post to get the idea. Basically, you want to minimize overly-processed junk food as much as possible. Let real food be your medicine. Really, this is the most important step you can take to help your body overcome a virus. 

Advertisements

HOW TO BECOME A LABEL READER

Whole-Foods-Packaging

NUTRITION FACTS VERSES LIST OF INGREDIENTS

The nutritional information of a product is the part of the label that tells you how many calories the product consist of, as well as how many grams of fat, carbs, etc. While this information is definitely helpful for many people (especially those with blood sugar issues, etc.) it does not tell you everything about the product. Unfortunately, our culture has taught us that this is what matters most (low-fat, low-carb, low calorie, low-sugar) and so many people really only look at that section of the label, completely not realizing that what they are eating may actually be a far cry from real food.

So, if eating healthy, real food is your goal, then you need to start paying attention to the list of ingredients. The list of ingredients will tell you much more about what is actually in the product. You cannot simply trust the advertisement on the front label (advertising is so deceiving!) Think about it, their goal is to get you to want to buy the product. And who has time to read labels anyway? Something can be labeled “organic” and many people will buy it mainly for that reason, without ever checking the ingredient list. Advertisement is powerful.

greenpeace-activists-plaster-w

READING LABELS

A good rule of thumb for reading labels is the fewer ingredients listed, the better. For example, something that lists only chicken, water, and salt as the ingredients qualifies as a “real food” item. On the other hand, a different brand may advertise the same product but include 10 more ingredients, half of which you can’t even pronounce. This probably would not qualify as a “real food” item.

However, there is something to be said for the foods that ARE real that contain more than 5 or 6 ingredients. Many of the recipes on my blog contain more than 5 or 6 ingredients and they are considered “real food” recipes. So, technically, you could have a product with over 10 ingredients listed, but if they are all natural, real, unprocessed ingredients, it’s totally fine.

Another good rule of thumb to go by when reading labels is to consider each listed ingredient individually. Are they all items you would buy to cook with in your own kitchen at home? For example, if preservatives are listed in the ingredients, then it’s probably not something you want to buy.

Lastly, another  trick to reading labels is to really look at those first few ingredients and ask yourself if they represent what’s advertised. For example, if the second ingredient listed on a box of “Almond Granola” is sugar and the third is maple syrup then you know that instead of oats and almonds for breakfast, you’ll be eating primarily sugar covered in milk. Not good.

Nutrition-Facts-Panel-with-Ingredient-Statement-Allergan-Statement

INGREDIENTS TO LOOK OUT FOR

Although it’s nearly impossible to cover them all on this short post, I can give you a list of the most popular ones that you probably see everyday. These are ingredients that you most definitely want to avoid, when possible:

HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP
HYDROGENATED AND PARTIALLY HYDROGENATED OILS
Can also be listed as mono- and diglyceride, high-stearate, or stearic rich.
MSG (MONOSODIUM GLUTAMATE)
Ingredients that always contain MSG: Glutamic acid, glutamate, monosodium glutamate, monopotassium glutamate, yeast extract, anything “hydrolyzed” and any “hydrolyzed protein”, autolyzed yeast, and gelatin.
Ingredients that usually contain MSG: flavors, flavorings, broth, stock, maltodextrin, protease, malt extract, soy sauce, and
seasonings.
PRESERVATIVES (TBHQ, BHT, OR BHA)
ARTIFICIAL COLORS
ARTIFICIAL FLAVORS
SYNTHETIC SWEETENERS
Such as: Aspartame, Acesulfame-K (Acesulfame Potassium), Cyclamates, Saccharine, and Sucralose.
Brand names include: NutraSweet, Equal, Spoonful, Equal-Measure, Sunette, Sweet One, Swiss Sweet, Sweet ‘N Low, Sugar Twin, Necta Sweet, Sweet Twin, and Splenda.

SOY (almost always genetically modified)
MANUFACTURED OILS
Such as: Canola oil, vegatable oil, or cottonseed oil
GENETICALLY MODIFIED INGREDIENTS
Most common GM foods: corn, soy, canola, cottonseed, sugar beets, papayas, and some zucchini.
NITRATES AND NITRITES

 

*For a more extensive list with descriptions and very helpful information, go here.

 

7 DAY REAL FOOD CHALLENGE

real food

WHAT IS IT?

The 7 Day Real Food Challenge is an idea I came up with to help people who really want to eat healthier but don’t know where or how to start. I know that the idea of eating healthy can be very overwhelming, especially if you have other very important responsibilities on your plate (and who doesn’t?).

This idea really came to me when I first started to receive feedback from the 30 Day Sugar Detox. Those who completed it came back to me with amazing results including, weight loss, clearer skin, minimal cravings, and better digestion. Fantastic!

However, there were many others who expressed great interest in doing the detox, but it just seemed too overwhelming to commit to. Those are the ones I’m after this time around. You who have such a strong desire to be healthier but just can’t find the time or motivation to really get started. You who find yourself time after time eating the same stuff that you know is not good for you (because you don’t feel so good afterwards) but you don’t know how to say no because you’ve said yes for so long. I’m doing this challenge for you, because I know that getting started is the hardest part. But be encouraged, because once you feel the difference, it creates less of a desire to go back.

The key to success in eating well that I think so many miss is that at the root of it all, it’s really not about eating less calories or less fat or even less sugar (although one or more of these things can have there place for certain individuals, it still should not be the focus). It’s about eating more nutritionally dense foods that help keep you satisfied. I think so many people choose to focus on 1 or more of the aforementioned things and end up missing the point entirely. The problem is, our society has embraced this idea of “dieting” and “losing weight” so much that even our foods in the grocery store are marketed this way (“low-fat”, “sugar-free”, “fat-free”, etc.) and we buy into it, thinking these foods are gonna help us “get healthy”. These foods are not gonna help you get healthy. Sure you may see some weight loss for some time, but that is in no way an indication that you are healthy. There is so much wrong with this type of thinking, I really don’t even know where to begin, so I’ll leave that explanation for another time.

So, in essence, this challenge is a foundational way to jumpstart your healthy eating lifestyle and retrain your mind to stop the “diet thinking” and just nourish yourself. Hopefully this guide will provide helpful tips to get you excited about your new journey.

WHEN:

The 7 Day Real Food Challenge will begin next Monday, June 10th and will end on Sunday, June 16th (However, hopefully you will be inspired to continue eating this way, but that’s entirely up to you).

THE DETAILS:

Okay, so I bet you’re wondering how do-able this is. Well, lucky for you, I designed this to be a very short and easy (read: DO-ABLE) challenge. So if you aren’t joining in on the fun, you basically have zero excuses. 😉 Once the challenge is completed, it is up to you to assess how you feel compared to how you normally feel and decide if you want to continue eating this way… or mostly this way (believe me, I know that eating 100% perfectly healthy all the time is just not realistic). For these 7 days, you’re gonna need to buckle down and be very strict though, to get accurate results. That means, for 7 days it is 100%, all in. If you choose to continue this journey beyond the 7 days, be realistic with yourself, give yourself some grace, but also HAVE GOALS to keep yourself in-line.

Okay, so…. here are the rules…

FOODS/DRINKS YOU CANNOT CONSUME FOR THE 7 DAYS:

1. Anything that contains an ingredient that you cannot pronounce or don’t know what it is. (Fair enough, right?)
2. Anything that contains refined grains, such as white flour, pasta or tortillas (corn or flour). (White rice in moderation, is okay.)
3. Anything that contains refined sweeteners, such as white sugar, corn syrup, or artificial stuff like Splenda.
4. All deep-fried foods (because they are often made using highly refined oils).
5. If it’s questionable, then it’s probably a no-go. Just put it down… walk away from the brownies, sir.
6. Anything that contains artificial colors, flavors, etc. (I mean, this is called a REAL food challenge, after all.)

WHAT YOU CAN HAVE DURING THE REAL FOOD CHALLENGE:

1. Whole foods that are more a product of nature than a product of industry.
2. Lots of fruits and vegetables.
3. Dairy products like whole milk, unsweetened plain yogurt, eggs, and cheese.
4. 100% whole-wheat and whole-grains (sprouted grains are best, like Ezekiel bread, found in the freezer section of most grocery stores).
5. Seafood (wild caught is optimal).
6. Meats such as turkey, beef, and chicken.
7. Beverages limited to water, milk, kefir, all natural juices, & naturally sweetened coffee & tea.
8. Snacks like dried fruit, seeds, nuts, and popcorn.
9. All natural sweeteners including local raw honey, 100% grade B maple syrup (or grade A with only “maple syrup” listed in the ingredients), organic cane sugar, and fruit juice concentrates are all acceptable in moderation.

HELPFUL TIPS:

1. If you’re going to consume dairy, it’s best to choose organic, whole, & unsweetened.
2. If you can afford it, choose organic with fruits and veggies as well. Check out this handy list for foods that need to be prioritized when buying organic.
3. Check out my post on Substitutions for replacements for refined grains, oils, dairy, etc. While you’re at it, check out some recipes too, to help you get started.
4. Purge your pantry. Even if it’s just temporarily, get a box and fill it with all the packaged crap you won’t be eating and put it somewhere out of sight or hard to get to (preferably in the trash can or donation center, but the basement is fine). If you really feel like you can’t live without these foods because they make you feel so great all the time, then you can put them back in your pantry after the challenge is done (it literally hurt me to type those words, I hope you know).

A QUICK WORD ABOUT REAL FOODS

Yes, they are more expensive than refined, packaged foods because they are worth more! Consider your priorities… do you really need another obnoxiously colored V-neck T-shirt? I didn’t think so.

Happy eating, folks. See ya on the other side. 🙂

SUGAR DETOX: PREPARATION

201212-sugar

WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF THIS SUGAR DETOX?

The main purpose of the sugar detox is to restore your health, begin repairing your gut, and reduce inflammation. Although some do it to lose weight, that is not the purpose of the program… but it can be a nice bonus!

HOW LONG IS THE DETOX? 

The detox program is 21 days.

WHO WILL BE DOING IT? IS THERE SOMEONE TO REACH OUT TO FOR SUPPORT? 

There will be many others starting the program on the same day. You can find support and encouragement from them on The 21-Day Sugar Detox Facebook page. Anyone and everyone is welcome to jump on board to join the group!

WHAT CAN I DO NOW TO SET MYSELF UP FOR SUCCESS?

There are a few things you can do now to prepare yourself for the detox:

1. Go on over to The 21-Day Sugar Detox site to purchase the detox guide. It is digital so you will receive the materials promptly. I believe the cost is $21 and you have the materials for life, so you can use it over and over! Totally worth the price! Here are just a few of the helpful things the guide includes:

  • Food replacement guide including dining out options
  • Special modifications for: athletes, pregnant or nursing moms, vegans, and vegetarians
  • Snack ideas plus 30 pages of easy recipes
  • An extensive Yes and No food list as well as handy one-page guides to sweeteners and oils

2. Start getting rid of junk food. Yes, that means all of that leftover Valentines Candy you have lying around. Don’t make it harder on yourself by keeping it around or worse… eating it all at once because you know you won’t be able to have again for a while! Just throw it out! Trust me, it’ll be easier this way.

3. Once you receive your guide, look through the recipes, and start making up your grocery list. For families of 3 or more, you may need to spend a good hour or two on this every week. That means, find recipes you like, plan your meals for the week, make up your grocery list, and clip coupons if you use them. Sound like too much work? Try The Foodee website to help organize your meals and grocery lists. This site even includes Sugar-Detox approved meals… you just have to search for the ones that are labeled as so. Other helpful recipe sites that include some great Sugar-Detox approved recipes are:

HOW WILL I FEEL DURING THE DETOX?

Don’t be surprised if you begin the detox and don’t feel so great during the first 1-3 days. Sometimes feeling worse actually means you are beginning to heal your body. These negative side effects are calling a “healing crisis” and usually only last the first few days of the detox, although some people experience none of these side effects. Some of the most common negative side effects are:

  • Headaches
  • Flu or cold-like symptoms
  • Low energy
  • Bloating
  • Skin breakouts
  • Sporadic sleep
  • Irritability/emotional sensitivity

WHAT KIND OF RESULTS CAN I EXPECT WHEN THE DETOX IS OVER?

Although the purpose of this detox is not to lose weight, many people do experience this nice little side effect. 🙂 Here are some other common results you can expect to see after the detox is over:

  • Glowing skin
  • A flatter stomach/less bloating/fat loss
  • Increased energy (after the first week)
  • Clearer thinking
  • Reduced cravings for sugars and carbs
  • Elevated mood/Less depression
  • Better sleep
  • Lower Cholesterol
  • Increased sense of taste
  • Increased sense of wellbeing

If these look like symptoms that you would like to have a little more of in your life, then I urge you to do this challenge with me! Go on over to The 21-Day Sugar Detox site, purchase your guide, and get ready to change your health!

 

21-day-sugar-detox

A LIST OF SUBSTITUTIONS

FOR THE DAIRY, SOY, LEGUME, & GRAIN-FREE….

IMG_3054

FLOURS (for baking, etc.)
Nut Flours (Almond, Walnut, etc. with the exception of Peanut).
Substitute 1/3 the amount of regular wheat flour and add an extra egg. You will need to lower the temperature and probably increase the baking time as well.
Coconut Flour
Substitute 1/4 of the amount of regular wheat flour and add an equal amount of additional liquid for each portion of coconut flour used. You can count liquid sweeteners as part of the additional liquid and you may also want to try adding an extra egg to help everything bind. Coconut flour is very dry & finicky, so this may require some experimenting. If you don’t have time for that, then look up a recipe that specifically calls for coconut flour to make sure you get it right.

FLOURS (for breading)
Nut Flour or Coconut Flour
Or you can try mincing & sautéing some onions, mushrooms, & garlic to top your protein of choice.

NOODLES/PASTA:
Spaghetti Squash
Cut in half and roast faced down with a little water. When it’s done, “fork” it out.
Zucchini or Yellow Squash
Julienne slice (or you can use a spiral slicer) and saute or steam.
Cabbage Noodles
Take a head of cabbage, slice it into thin pieces, and saute or steam.
Eggplant
Slice thin and use in place of lasagna noodless
NoOodles (Shirataki Noodles)
These work well for Pho or stir-fry. There is very little prep involved, but you do need to make sure to prep them well or they won’t have any flavor.

MASHED POTATOES
Mashed or Creamed Cauliflower
Cauliflower contains less carbs & starch, so this may be a good go-to option.
Mashed Sweet Potatoes
Try experimenting with white sweet potatoes since they are less “carroty” in flavor and will more closely resemble the texture you are looking for. They will still be sweet, but they are delicious!
Butternut Squash
When you don’t feel like sweet potatoes, try squash. For less work, check your grocery store for squash that is already peeled & chopped up. (Organic doesn’t matter much when it comes to anything that has a tough peel that isn’t really edible).
Mashed Turnips and/or Parsnips

RICE
Cauliflower
Pulse in a food processor or Vitamix blender until it has reached a rice-like consistency. Drizzle with a small amount of oil and roast until soft or you can also saute it with some garlic and onions.

OIL
If you’d like to replace butter with an oil, use this chart as a guideline. However, I would suggest a different oil if using high heat.

olive-oil-to-butter-conversion-chart
The following are suitable for salads or drizzling over veggies, etc. Do not use these for cooking unless you are using very low heat:

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Sesame Oil
Macadamia Oil
Walnut Oil
Avocado Oil
Flaxseed Oil (for occasional use only)

The following are suitable for high heat cooking:
Unrefined or Virgin Coconut Oil
A great substitute for butter. I use this one for almost everything. For recipes that call for solid, cold butter, make sure to use solid coconut oil. If the recipe calls for melted butter, go ahead and melt your coconut oil. Costco carries a large tub of it for a great price.
Coconut Butter
This is different from coconut oil because it includes some coconut meat, making it a little drier which means you will need to add a little more moisture. It has a stronger coconut flavor than the oil.
Cocoa Butter
Palm Oil
Ghee or Clarified Butter

BUTTER
Unsweetened Applesauce
In baking, you can try substituting 6 Tablespoons of unsweetened applesauce in place of 1 stick of butter (8 Tablespoons).
Pureed Avocado or Banana
Or, in baking, you can also try pureed avocado or banana in place of butter (the ratio should be 1:1).
Chia Seeds
Combine 1 tablespoon of chia seeds with 9 tablespoons of water and let it sit for 15 minutes, or until it gels. I wouldn’t recommend cutting out all the fat with this substitute. Instead, sub an equal amount of this mixture for half of the fat in the recipe.

MILK
Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk
Unsweetened Coconut Milk
If you choose to use full-fat, please look for BPA-free cans (Native Forest or Natural Value). Or, make your own.

BUTTERMILK
Unsweetened Coconut milk
Use the exact amount that’s called for in the recipe. If it says 1 cup of buttermilk, then use 1 cup of coconut milk.
Unsweetened Almond milk and Coconut Yogurt
1/2 a cup of almond milk with 1/2 a cup of coconut yogurt will also work to replace 1 cup of buttermilk.

YOGURT
Plain Coconut milk “yogurt”
Plain Almond milk “yogurt”

Unsweetened applesauce

SOUR CREAM
If you happen to be okay with cultured dairy, Plain Whole Greek Yogurt makes a great substitute.
Chilled coconut milk
Add a few drops of lemon juice for that hint of sourness.

WHIPPED CREAM/HEAVY CREAM
Full-fat Coconut milk
For whipped cream, only use the fatty part… chilled, whipped, and sweetened with a hint of raw honey, Grade B maple syrup, Stevia, natural jam or fruit juice.
For Heavy Cream, just use the fatty part of the coconut milk. No need to whip or sweeten.

HALF & HALF OR CREAMER
Coconut Creamer
So Delicious has an original flavor that has a little added sugar but not much if you only use small amounts. Do not buy the flavored varieties as they contain more sugar.
Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk
Won’t be as rich, but it will work.

CHEESE
This is a tough one. If you really can’t tolerate dairy, I’d advise you just skip the ingredient completely and don’t even try to imitate it. Just use something else give the dish more flavor or texture. You can use extra veggies such as sauteed onions and garlic (it really just depends on what it is). But if you’re really wanting some sort of substitute for that “cheese” flavor, try this:
Braggs Nutritional Yeast Seasoning
You can maybe even try mixing it with some full-fat coconut milk if you’re looking for creaminess.

MAYONNAISE
If you’re okay with cultured dairy, then use Organic Plain Whole Greek Yogurt with a pinch of herbs and squeeze of lemon juice, or you can try making your own. But if that’s too much work, then try this:
Avocado Mash
Cut open and scoop out the avocado, then mash it up. It works great as a spread replacement.

EGGS
If you can’t tolerate eggs, try one of these:
Ground Flaxseed
Combine 1 tablespoon with 3 tablespoons of water. Whisk until you get an egg white consistency and then let it sit in the fridge for 5-10 minutes before adding to your ingredients. This yields a perfect 1:1 substitute for eggs. So if you need two eggs, double the amount of flaxseed and water before whisking.
Chia Seeds
Combine 1 tablespoon of chia seeds with 1 cup of water and let it sit for 15 minutes. This yields a perfect 1:1 substitute for eggs. However, I wouldn’t recommend substituting both eggs and butter with chia seeds in the same recipe!

SWEETENERS
Pureed Fruit or Fruit Juice
Applesauce, mashed bananas, or pureed apricots have plenty of natural sweetness. If replacing sugar in a recipe, exchange it for the same amount but make sure to reduce the liquids by 1/4 of a cup. Apple juice concentrate and orange juice probably works great too but you may have to reduce liquids even more, say about 1/2 a cup.
Pureed Veggies or Veggie Juice
Naturally sweet veggies like sweet potatoes or carrots can work with the right dish as well.
Dried Fruit
Chopped dates can add plenty of sweetness to a dish. Or a small amount of date “sugar” or syrup can work as well. Another idea is to puree them in a food processor and use 2/3 of a cup in place of 1 cup of sugar.
Raw Honey
Substitute 3/4 cup of honey in place of 1 cup of sugar. Reduce liquids by 2 tablespoons and add 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda. Also, you may want to lower the oven temperature by about 25 degrees.
Grade B Maple Syrup or Granulated Maple Sugar
Substitute 3/4 cup of honey in place of 1 cup of sugar. Reduce liquids by 3 tablespoons and add 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda.
Molasses
Use 1 1/3 cups of molasses in place of 1 cup of sugar. Reduce liquids by 5 tablespoons and add 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda for every cup of molasses used. Do not replace more than 1 cup of sugar with molasses. Try combining with another natural sweetener instead.
Stevia (green leaf, extract, or glycerite)
1 cup of sugar = 1 teaspoon of liquid or powdered stevia. However, when replacing sugar with stevia in a recipe, you may have to account for the loss of bulk that sugar would normally provide. So, for every cup of sugar that is replaced by stevia, 1/4-1/2 a cup of bulk should be added. You can use bit of honey, applesauce, pumpkin puree, or anything that would taste right with the recipe and add some moisture for the bulk.
Coconut Sugar/Crystals
I believe the ratio here is a 1:1. Has a similar flavor to brown sugar.
Spices
Such as cinnamon, nutmeg, or vanilla. They aren’t sweet, but they can still add some flavor so that less sweetener is desired.

POWDERED SUGAR
Coconut sugar and Arrowroot
Blend together 1 cup of coconut sugar and 1 tablespoon of arrowroot powder in a very good blender (Vitamix) until powdery & light brown.
Bananas
If you’re trying to sweeten a frosting, try adding some mashed bananas.

SPECIFICALLY REPLACING SUGAR IN A RECIPE
Raw Honey
Use 1/2 the amount of sugar called for in the recipe. If the recipe calls for 1 cup of sugar, use 1/2 a cup of honey instead.

SPECIFICALLY REPLACING BROWN SUGAR IN A RECIPE
Grade B Maple Syrup
Use 1/2 the amount of brown sugar called for in the recipe. If it calls for 1 cup of brown sugar, use 1/2 a cup of maple syrup instead.
Coconut Sugar
Replace regular sugar with the same amount of coconut sugar.

FOR THICKENING (sauces, soups, etc.)
Arrowroot
Mix 2 Tablespoons (or more if needed) with a little cold water before adding to your dish.
Coconut Cream (AKA Coconut Manna or Coconut Butter)
Mix 1 Tablespoon (or more if needed) with 1/2 a cup of hot water before adding to your dish.
Full-fat Coconut Milk
Use the fatty part of coconut milk, adding little by little until the right thickness and flavor is achieved.
Nut Butters
(Almond butter, Macadamia butter, etc.) May give an undesired flavor but can work if it’s just a small amount.
Pureed Veggies or Canned Tomato Paste
Add small amounts at a time and allow the mixture to simmer for a couple of minutes. Add more if thickness is not achieved.
A Couple of Egg Yolks
Whisk a couple of egg yolks before adding to your mixture and then allow it to simmer for several minutes.
Ground Flaxseed
Whisk 1 tablespoon with 3 tablespoons of water before adding to your dish.

SOY SAUCE
Coconut Aminos
I do not recommend Braggs Liquid Aminos because it contains Soy.

*If you are making an Asian dish, you can also try adding some Toasted Sesame oil for extra flavor.

ALCOHOL
White wine is suitable for slow cooking or marinating. However, if you are really trying to keep alcohol completely out of your diet, try these substitutions instead (or even a combination of both):
Broth
Chicken, Beef, etc… just make sure it’s additive & sugar-free.
Juice
Apple, Grape, etc… also make sure these are additive-free with no additional sugars added.

SALT
Herb Seasoning
Use this with a combination a few fresh chopped herbs of your choice for even bolder flavor.
Spices
Chili powder, Cayenne Pepper, Curry Powder, Red Pepper Flakes, etc. can all add a kick of flavor and substitute a good amount of salt.
Organic Sea Kelp Seasoning
Try this in place of salt for added flavor.
Flavored Oil
Replace a plain oil with a flavored oil like Walnut Oil, Pumpkin Seed Oil, or Sesame Oil to add subtle flavor and reduce some of the salt.
Lemon Juice
Spritzing your food with lemon juice can help result in a similiar taste as sodium since they trigger similar taste receptors.
Garlic & Onion
Substitute some sodium with a little extra garlic and onion powder.
Balsamic Vinegar Reduction
Simmer some balsamic vinegar in a pot until it’s reduced by half. Use this in place of sauces.

KETCHUP
If you can find organic, sugar-free… that works. If not, try:
Organic fire-roasted crushed tomatoes

MARINADE
Use a combination of a good fat/oil, citrus, & herbs/spices to marinade your meat. Do not buy the pre-made stuff as it almost always contains sugar or loads of salt.

CHIPS
Kale Chips
Lightly toss some kale in a high heat oil and sprinkle with some seasoning, then bake.

FRIES
Sweet Potato Fries
Carrot Fries

PEANUT BUTTER (This is a legume, not a nut).
Unsweetened Nut Butters
Almond butter, cashew butter, walnut butter, macadamia butter, etc. If you have a good blender (Vitamix), you can try to make your own.
Unsweetened Sunbutter (Sunflower Seed Butter)
A great option for those trying to limit their intake of nuts.

CHOCOLATE CHIPS
Cocoa Nibs
Substitute an equal amount or try adding something else like chopped walnuts instead.

ICE CREAM
You can try making your own if you have an ice cream machine by using coconut milk/almond milk and some fruit or a sweetener like honey. You can also try adding coconut shreds, vanilla, and some unsweetened cocoa. Or if you like tart fro-yo, try making your own (using an ice cream machine) with Organic whole plain greek yogurt, honey, and vanilla.
Coconut Bliss
This brand of ice cream is made with coconut milk but uses Agave which is okay in moderation but I really wouldn’t recommend having it all the time.

Other ice-cream-like options to try:
Chocolate Bananas
Freeze some bananas then puree with a bit of unsweetened cocoa.


THESE ARE A FEW OF MY FAVORITE TEAS…

IMG_2646

I wanted to share some helpful tips with those of you who may be interested in drinking more tea but don’t know quite where to start. I’m sure that you’ve already read or heard about some of the health benefits of tea. But if you’re not completely familiar, I’ll start you off with a list of 10 reasons why tea is so great & can actually help you lose weight:

1. It’s hydrating.
2. It contains antioxidants.
3. It speeds up metabolism.
4. It gives you energy.
5. It helps cleanse the body by stimulating digestion.
6. It reduces inflammation.
7. It encourages an alert yet relaxed state of mind
8. It promotes better sleep.
9. It contains NO calories, unless you add milk or sugar.
10. It helps lower cholesterol.

Okay, so now that I’ve got your attention, let’s talk about the different types of tea. I don’t want to bore you, but this is important, so don’t even think about skimming… unless you have knowledge of this already. When you get to know the different types of tea, that is when you can really decide on when to drink what. Not to mention, this is where it gets interesting. Who knows, maybe you’ll even learn something new! 🙂

tea cups

Most tea is made from the same plant (Camellia sinensis). White, black, green, and oolong are all made from this plant. What makes them different from each other is the degree of processing that each goes through (fermentation, oxidation, steaming, etc.). Herbal teas (including Rooibos, which is a South African Herbal tea) are not made from this plant and actually aren’t really considered teas at all because of that. They are considered “tisanes” (herbal infusions) because they are made up of flowers, roots, stems, and leaves of other plants. One of the really great things about herbal teas is that they contain no caffeine, so you can enjoy this type of tea at any time of the day (they are especially great to have in the evening). Lastly, the best (most flavorful and health-benefiting) teas/tisanes will always be full-leaf. Sometimes they come in “sachets”, but many times the higher quality stuff comes loose-leaf in canned containers. Choose those for the best flavor. Yes, they tend to be more expensive but good loose leaf tea can be steeped multiple times and the second time around still tastes great. It’s a way to justify the expensive stuff, anyway. 😉

There’s your history lesson for the day. Now, let the fun begin! Because of the specific benefits that each type of tea offers, I’d like to share with you the best way to enjoy your tea throughout the day while really gaining from those benefits. Not only that, but I’m including a list of some of my favorite teas and tea brands to help get you started. Have fun!

4 teas

GREEN TEA

Best time to enjoy: With or after breakfast.
Steeping time: 2-3 minutes
Recommendations:
Precious Companions by Extraordinary Gourmet
Coconut Green Tea by the Green Teahouse
Grapefruit Dragon by Butiki Teas
Enchanted Forest by Joy’s Teaspoon
Peachy Green by Extraordinary Gourmet

BLACK TEA

Best time to enjoy: Late morning/before noon.
Steeping time: 3-5 minutes
Recommendations:
Winter Wonderland by Joy’s Teaspoon
Tali’s Masala Chai by Art of Tea
Chocolate Pheonix Chai by Verdant Tea
French Earl Grey by The Tea Merchant
Queen of Earl by T Salon

OOLONG TEA

Best time to enjoy: With or after lunch.
Steeping time: 3-5 minutes
Recommendations:
Chocolate Tears by Extraordinary Gourmet
Aloha Oolong by Extraordinary Gourmet
Peach Tree Oolong by California Tea House
Maple Pecan Oolong by Butiki Teas
Duo Oolong by Village Tea Gourmet

WHITE TEA

Best time to enjoy: With or after dinner.
Steeping time: 1-3 minutes
Recommendations:
White Ambrosia by White Lion
108 Blossoms by Extraordinary Gourmet
White Ayurvedic Chai by Teavana
White Tibetan Tiger by T Salon
Cantaloupe & Cream by Butiki Teas

rooibos

HERBAL INFUSIONS:

Best time to enjoy: Before bed.
(Peppermint teas are great after meals as well)
Steeping time: 5-7 minutes
Recommendations:
Chamomile Vanilla Bean by Fusion Teas
Chamomile Citrus by Mighty Leaf
Pillow Talk by Extraordinary Gourmet
Cocomint Cream by David’s Tea
Balance by T Salon (my husbands favorite)

ROOIBOS BLENDS (SOUTH AFRICAN HERBAL):
Carrot Cake Rooibos by Fusion Teas
Honeybush Masala Chai by Extraordinary Gourmet
Zingiber Ginger Coconut Rooibos by Teavana
Red Lavender by Zhena’s Gypsy Tea
Caramelized Pear by Art of Tea

TIPS FOR BREWING LOOSE-LEAF TEA:
1. The darker the tea, the hotter the water you want to steep in.
So around 165 for lighter teas, and around 205 for darker teas.
2. Use 1-2 teaspoons of tea per 6-8 ounces of water.
For white & herbal teas, you can use a little more (up to 1 tablespoon) since they contain less caffeine & aren’t as strong.
3. Make sure you DON’T over-steep!
If you get distracted like me and would really rather not drink a bitter cup of tea, maybe get a tea timer/thermometer. I’m sure there’s an app for timing your tea as well, if you don’t want to spend the money. 🙂
4. If you are buying loose leaf tea for the first time, you will need to invest in tea bags or a strainer like this one or this one.
Or, if you really want to get something cool, check out Teavana’s Perfect Tea Maker. Fuss-free and not too pricey, either!
5. Sweeteners & milks.
It’s hard to enjoy a great cup of chai or earl grey without a little milk & sweetener, I understand. So here’s what I recommend:
a. Unsweetened almond milk or coconut milk (full fat is fine, but make sure the can is BPA-free) or
organic whole milk from pasture-raised cows IF you can tolerate dairy (but still keep this to a minimum as it’s not ideal).
b. Raw, organic honey (local is best for reducing allergies), Organic Grade B Maple Syrup, or Stevia (green leaf or extract). Stevia actually contains no calories or sugar so this is a great option if you are trying to lose weight or just trying to stay away from sugar.

Let me know if you try any of the listed teas I shared and how you like them. Enjoy!

%d bloggers like this: