Eat Real Food!

Yesterday I found myself lost in the vortex of YouTube watching a video of someone explaining their new lifestyle choices. No idea how I got there, but I’m so glad I did! The person went on to explain how they had cut out junk food, fast food, soda, candy, etc. from their diet and started exercising more and eating more vegetables, fresh lean meats and overall more fresh and healthy food. They then went on to note the weight loss they’d experienced, the complete lack of cravings for sugary/junky food anymore, as well as an increase in energy, skin quality and just general feeling of well-being.

I couldn’t help but be impressed that they (1) recognized the negative effects their previous behaviours were having, (2) took personal initiative to make a change, (3) have now realized the benefits of living a healthier lifestyle and (4) chose to share their experience with the world. It is such a simple, yet important message to share!

I think that all too often people have a tendency to overthink the concept of moving towards a healthier lifestyle. There is no calorie counting algorithm that you need to follow, no need to eat only salad for the rest of your life and no need to work out eight hours a day, seven days a week. Slowly ease back on the junk food, increase your intake of “real” food, be a little more active and the rest will follow!

I love finding things like this video because I think they are a great and often needed reminder of the importance of making healthier lifestyle choices!

Here are a few more “eat real food” thoughts I am loving right now!

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And my all-time favourite:

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Have you started a journey to healthier living?

What Happens When I Eat Gluten

I was scrolling through my Facebook page the other day and saw this link Jillian Michaels posted: “Science Proves Gluten Sensitivity Isn’t Real; People Are Just Whiners.” Whether she actually believes this or was just giving her followers some “food for thought” I don’t know, but the article really hit a nerve with me, and I have news for those scientists.

First and foremost, I am NOT a whiner.

Second, it is most certainly NOT “all in my head.”

If you are a regular reader of my blog, then you know that I have been eating gluten-free for approximately four years now. (*Read about why I first went gluten-free here!) Throughout the past four years, I have found that the longer I avoid gluten, the more negative the effects I experience when I do consume it. Well of course you say, that happens when you avoid anything for a period of time. Ah, but these things also happened to me for as long as I can remember before I went gluten-free or even knew what gluten was! This leads me to truly believe that there IS such a thing as gluten sensitivity/intolerance.

If you still don’t believe me, let me share with you the happy happy things that happen to my body when I consume gluten.

(*It should be noted that none of these things are “normal” for anyone’s body!)

Bloating

Nobody likes it when your clothes suddenly don’t fit for a few days. Or looking pregnant when you’re not.

Intestinal Pain

The pain can range from mild cramping to stabbing knives (more commonly at this end the spectrum). And we’re not talking just a few minutes of pain, we’re talking a solid day or two. It’s more intermittent than constant, but it definitely lingers for awhile. 

Constipation

Even the smallest amount of gluten can do it in for me with this point. Not fun.

Fatigue

I recently had a piece of pizza (bad me, I know. I regretted it after I spent two days “recovering”.) Anyways, the day after I ate it I was a complete zombie. I felt like I hadn’t slept in a week. From one piece of pizza!!

Head Fog

This sort of goes hand in hand with fatigue I guess. Besides being exhausted, I couldn’t concentrate worth beans. It felt like there was a cloud in my brain.

Zits/Pimples

I’m generally not one to get many zits, small ones here and there, but not huge outbreaks. However, I’ve recently found that eating gluten gives me zits on other parts of my body – back, shoulders, neck, arms, even on my thigh once. Not that zits on your face are any better, but gross!

Keratosis Pilaris (aka “chicken skin”)

I have had KP for as long as I can remember but until recently, never knew what it was called. It’s always worse in the winter so I’ve just assumed it’s some sort of chronic rash related to sunshine. It doesn’t hurt and it doesn’t itch, it’s just there looking weird on the backs of my arms. Turns out that keratosis pilaris is a buildup of keratin in your skin that causes small red and/or white bumps. Nobody really seems to know what causes the buildup of keratin; theories range from hereditary to vitamin deficiency. All I know is that since going gluten-free, the backs of my arms look considerably better. This leads me to believe that somehow, somewhere, gluten is related to my KP.

Nausea

Before I found out about my gluten sensitivity, I felt sick more often than not, especially in the evenings. Looking back now I think, well duh a full day of consuming all-things gluten will do that too you! 

Weight Gain

Now, I don’t mean instant weight gain (wouldn’t that be awful??! Yikes!) I mean weight gain over time from regular consumption of gluten. Even just a week or two of eating gluten can add on a few pounds. Scary! (*Read more about gluten and weight gain here.)

Basically:

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If you had doubts about gluten intolerance/sensitivity, I hope this post has at least given you a bit of insight into why someone might choose to avoid gluten for health reasons. There are definitely people out there who are doing it just because the Jones and the Smiths are doing it, others who are doing it because they think “it’s healthier” (It’s not necessarily healthier. Read some common misconceptions about eating gluten-free here!) but there are also some people out there, like me, who eat gluten-free because their body simply functions better without it, and happy body = happy me!

How do you feel about us gluten-free eaters being called “whiners”?

Breakfast Cookies

I don’t know what you’re having for breakfast today, but I’m having cookies. Yes, you read that right – cookies!

Now, before you get too excited, no they are not your typical chocolate chip or peanut butter cookies. (Nice try!) I’m talking about these fruity oatmeal cookies that are perfect for breakfast! As if having cookies for breakfast isn’t exhilarating enough, these particular cookies are especially exciting. Why?

Flour-free. Egg-free. Dairy-free. AND refined sugar-free.

SIGN ME UP!!

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These simple, delicious cookies are full of soluble fibre and natural sugars, giving you a great boost of energy to get your body movin’ and groovin’! The recipe literally took two minutes to prepare before baking and the cookies turned out amazing!

*I’m not sure they are filling enough on their own for breakfast, but they go great with my juice on days when I need a little something extra. They also make a great snack! 

Breakfast Cookie

  • 1 & 1/2 cups of rolled oats (gluten-free if desired)
  • 2-3 ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1 cup of unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/4 cup of dried cranberries
  • Dash of cinnamon

Mash bananas, then add all ingredients together and mix well. Form into cookies shapes and bake at 350F for approximately 20-30 minutes, depending on the quality of your oven.

BELL Master Herbalist Series – Product #24 Allergy Relief

AHHHH I have tears in my eyes! No, not itchy, scratchy, watery, allergy tears. Not anymore anyways. Tears of happiness because those itchy, scratchy, watery allergy tears are GONE!

I guess you could say I’ve “grown into” my allergies. They just showed up a few years ago, completely out of the blue. Needless to say I was not too impressed. This year my allergies seemed to be exceptionally bad, I’m not sure if it was just a bad season all around or if it was just me. In any case, NOTHING helped. I couldn’t find any relief anywhere. Claritin didn’t work at all, on rare occasions Reactine gave me a tiny smidgen of relief and Benadryl kind-of-sort-of worked, probably only because it knocked me out so I couldn’t remember I had allergies. Ha.

My alleriges were so bad that I had to stay inside some days because I just couldn’t handle all the sneezing and congestion of being outside. I couldn’t even drive with the window down because of people cutting their grass and those darn white fluffies floating through the air. On the other hand, staying inside meant vacuuming my house three times a day and wanting to ship my cat off to Timbuktu. Basically I needed to live in a bubble away from all possible allergens for the entire spring/summer season with one of these:

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Fun fun fun fun fun.

A few weeks ago I finally said enough was enough. I was sick of my head feeling like a fuzzy balloon 24/7, being unable to breathe, and tired of blowing (literally) through half a box of Kleenex every day. Willing to try anything, I went over to the local Natural Health store to see what they had. I was directed to BELL Master Herbalist Series Product #24 Allergy Relief, which they said has received great reviews from their customers.

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Well, I certainly cannot argue with those great customer reviews. Twenty-four hours after taking this product for the first time, I was completely symptom free.

TWENTY-FOUR HOURS!

No more sneezing, itchy throat, scratchy watery eyes, stuffy nose, or fuzzy balloon head! I can bury my face in my cat’s fur as much as I want to. I can drive with the window down. I can go outside and enjoy the fresh air and sunshine, and even roll around in the freshly-cut grass if I wanted to. It is amazing!

*The suggested dosage is two capsules daily for a few days to build up your system, and then one a day after that for prevention. However, I do find that on days where I’m exposed to a greater number of allergens, I need to take two a day.

I cannot say enough good things about this product and the relief it has given me! I know they say “never say never” but I am NEVER going back to those waste-of-money allergy pharmaceuticals! Thank you Bell for allowing me to breathe again!

The Master Herbalist Series by Bell has over 50 natural products for everything from allergies, fertility, blood sugar regulation, joint pain, snoring and migraines, to constipation, colds & flus, acid reflux, vision problems, hearing loss and help quitting smoking.

You can check out their other products at www.BellLifestyleProducts.com

How do you find relief from allergies?

Be sure to follow me on Facebook for more frequent updates and extra posts! 

Centrifugal vs. Cold-Press Juicers

Earlier this year, our Jack LaLanne juicer made a trip to the happy hunting grounds. It was a great starter juicer, but I don’t think it could handle us using it as heavily as we did (2-4 times a day, 365 days a year). On our journey to find a new juicer, we discovered that there is more to choosing a juicer than just choosing between brands; there are actually two different types of juicers!

Instead of doing a single review on our new Omega-3 VRT350 juicer, I’m going to switch it up a little and do a comparison of centrifugal and cold-press juicers.

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COLD-PRESS JUICERS

The Omega-3 juicer is a cold-press juicer. What does this mean? It is as the name says: it presses the fruits and vegetables instead of chopping them up like a centrifugal juicer.

Pros:

  • The pressing motion takes longer to press the juice from fruits and vegetables, which results in more juice produced, and a drier pulp leftover.
  • Because there is no blade, less heat is generated, therefore preserving more nutrients in the resulting juice
  • As such, the juice remains good for a longer period of time before consumption
  • Leafy greens juice better
  • Much quieter to operate

Cons:

  • Much like the Vitamix blender, cold-pressed juicers are very expensive (~$250-500)
  • The initial prep takes longer, because the produce must be cut into smaller pieces to accommodate the small chute
  • As the chute is smaller, it takes longer to feed all your produce through
  • The resulting juice is SO pulpy, I either have to strain it or blend it, which I hate. I know it’s quick to throw into a blender and blend, but I just want my juice to come out as juice and be on my way. 

CENTRIFUGAL JUICERS

A centrifugal juicer, such as my Breville, has a blade, which chops up the fruit and vegetables.

Pros:

  • Cheaper (~$100-400)
  • Little prep needed due to a wider chute
  • Faster juicing time
  • Produces a little-to-no-pulp juice (Juices do tend to be quite foamy though, which means having to stir or shake them before drinking)

Cons:

  • Very noisy due to the grinding and cutting of food
  • Resulting pulp is moist, which means less juice is produced
  • Leafy greens do not juice well; it is better to blend them into your juice with a blender
  • Lower nutrient quality of juice due to the cutting of food, thus damaging nutrients
  • The nutrient quality of the juice deteriorates the longer it sits before being consumed

*I have heard people complain about their juice separating with a centrifugal juicer and say that it doesn’t with a cold-press juicer. From my experience, the resulting juice separates in both types of juicers. However, I don’t think this is a huge negative selling point, it just requires you to stir, shake or blend your juice before drinking, which I often end up doing anyways to add in “extras” like chia seeds, spinach, flaxseed oil, etc. 

My verdict?

I really love my Breville. It is fast, the resulting juice is a good consistency and the preparation and clean up is easy. On the other hand, I do love the pressing action of the Omega-3, and the higher volume and nutrient concentration of the juice produced. It also seems to be a hardier juicer than a centrifugal one. That being said, I will probably go for an Omega-3 juicer when my Breville decides to bite the dust (which is hopefully not anytime soon!)

The reality is that juicing is SO nutritious, I think either option can be a great choice!

Which brand is the best?

Now that juicing is becoming more popular, there seems to be a new brand pop up every week. From what I know and personal experience, the top brands are Omega-3, Breville and Jack LaLanne. Cuisnart or Hamilton Beach would probably get the job done too, they just might not have the quality or lifespan that the other brands do.

Where can I find good juice recipes?

I can NOT say enough good things about The Funky Fresh Juice Book by “The Juice Master” Jason Vale. I use it daily and have not made a bad recipe yet! There are also some tasty recipes on Joe Cross’ (from the movie Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead) website. I love his Mean Green

Hopefully this information helps you pick the right juicer for you!

 

UnDiet: Eat Your Way To Vibrant Health

“Today is the day. Let’s make it happen!”

This is the mantra of Toronto-area nutritionist (or “nutritionista” as she likes to call herself), Meghan Telpner. Meghan became interested in Nutrition after doctors diagnosed her with an “incurable autoimmune disease.” Unable to accept this diagnosis, she set out to prove them wrong. After “UnDieting” for one month, Meghan was happily and healthily 100% symptom-free, and continues to remains so. Having ignited the Nutrition fire, Meghan made the journey to become a Certified Nutritionist and today not only writes her popular blog, but also runs online culinary courses (which I am looking into!), just recently opened her Culinary Nutrition school, and has written the phenomenal book UnDiet.

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I’ve been following Meghan’s blog for a few years now and love her feisty, but straight-forward approach to Nutrition. I received her book as a birthday present and was practically vibrating with excitement after finishing it. Why?

  1. UnDiet is full of SO much excellent information – information that anyone can understand.
  2. It makes me extremely happy that there are others out there who share the same views on Nutrition as me.
  3. It also makes me so so SO excited for what the future holds for me in this line of work!

So what’s UnDiet all about?

As mentioned above, Meghan believes in “UnDieting”, that is, avoiding all the public and media hogwash about diets and dieting, and instead simply just eating REAL food.

What is “real food”? Here’s a quick reminder!

  • Whole grains
  • Beans, peas and legumes
  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Organic meat, poultry, eggs and fish
  • Unprocessed dairy (raw milk and its products)
  • Natural sweeteners
  • Extra virgin cold-pressed oils

In UnDiet, Meghan takes readers on a journey through the simple basics of Nutrition and why UnDieting works. Her quirkiness will make you laugh out loud as she delves into topics from meal planning, food prep, food storage and the importance of hydration, to battling cravings, manifesting a good poop, and “making love in the kitchen”! She also shares 40 delicious gluten-free recipes to help you on your way to UnDiet.

Although the book mainly focuses on food, Meghan also takes a peek into our cleaning cupboards and skin care. These two sections were equally as fascinating to me as the nutrition info and have really motivated me to do some clean up in these areas of my own life, especially with skin care. The skin is our body’s largest organ, and Meghan makes a good point by noting that if we don’t eat skin care products because they’re poisonous, why do we put them on our skin and let our body absorb them? Definitely some food for thought!

My favorite tidbits from the book:

  • “Wouldn’t you rather eat something that tastes healthy than something that tastes like it might cause you to have a quadruple bypass? Strangely, for most people, they’ll take the bypass. Play now, pay later.”   (This is horrifying, and NOT the way people should be thinking about things. We only have one life. We don’t want to cut it short to have to “pay later!”)
  • “The basic flaw in a calorie-counting diet and most conventional diet programs, is that they rarely consider the nutritional value of the calorie. Not all calories are equal.”    (See my post on calories for more on this!)
  • “In the spirit of celebration” indulgences should ideally be partaken in with the utmost selectivity.”    (Ties in well with my recent post about cheating on your diet!)
  • “Cellulite is a sign of built up toxins in fat cells.”    (…It appears I have some toxic fat cells. Yikes. Need to fix this!)
  • “As soon as a normal food becomes “diet”, “light”, or “free,” you know it has taken a trip to the chemistry lab.”    (Avoid these foods at all costs!)
  • “People will often reach for food and will acknowledge that it’s emotional eating, claiming it brings them comfort, but being overweight and sick never made anyone comfortable.”    (I have never thought about it like this before, but I like this approach!)
  • “Supplements are not meant to replace a good diet. They are intended to supplement proper eating by adding a little extra dose of nutrition when we need it.”    (I talked about this in a previous post on vitamin supplements!)
  • “We burn up to 50% more calories when the processing of our whole foods happens instead our body, compared to when eating already processed foods.”    (Just eat REAL food!)
  • “Our food system, as we know it, is becoming a worldwide threat to our health.”     (Considering we have to eat to survive, this is a terrifying thought. Something needs to be done!)
  • “The grand missing component of total health is our attitude. We can blame others all we want but ultimately our level of health and happiness is our own responsibility.”     (Love this!)
  • “Who wants to rely on any substance (e.g. coffee every morning) to be “fine”? By UnDieting, we want to do our best to not have to rely on any substance except maybe real food, water, sunshine and fresh air to function.”    (REALLY love this!)

What are your thoughts about the UnDiet?

Remember, “Today is the day! Make it happen”

Coconut Butter Fudge

Do you remember the time you found that new recipe that called for an ingredient you don’t typically keep in your house, so you went out and bought the ingredient but somehow ended up losing the recipe, leaving you stuck with this one ingredient you never use? If you cook/bake, this has might have happened to you before, and that is what led me to this recipe.

Awhile ago we acquired two jars of coconut butter, but have since lost the recipe that we got them for. I’ve been on a baking binge lately and my Mom said if I wanted to make something, I had to find something that used coconut butter so it can stop collecting dust on the shelf!

So I did.

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:D

This my friends, is coconut butter fudge. It is also probably the most incredible fudge you will ever eat. It is heavenly. I’ve had several people tell me they could eat the entire pan, and others who I didn’t expect to like it, love it! Even someone who doesn’t like coconut liked the fudge! Better yet, the recipe is so ridiculously simple, you won’t believe it!

Chocolate Coconut Butter Fudge

  • 1/2 cup coconut butter (a.k.a coconut spread)
  • ½ cup coconut oil
  • ½ cup cocoa powder
  • ¼ cup raw honey
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extra
  • 2 tsp. peppermint extract (optional)
  • 1 cup unsweetened, shredded coconut (optional)
  1. In a food processer, combine coconut butter, coconut oil, cocoa powder, honey, peppermint and vanilla until well-combined. Add shredded coconut and pulse until just combined.
  2. Spread mixture into an 8×8 square glass pan and smooth the top evenly. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. (*Don’t worry if the mixture is super runny when you pour it into the pan, it will harden!)
  3. Remove pan from fridge and cut fudge into squares. (*If the fudge is too hard to cut, let sit at room temperature for 5 minutes and try again.) Loosen squares with a small spatula or fork, transfer to container and store in the refrigerator.

Coconut Citrus Fudge

  • 1 cup coconut butter (a.k.a coconut spread)
  • 1 cup coconut oil
  • ½ cup raw honey
  • 1 Tbsp. your choice of citrus zest (I mixed lemon and lime together – YUM)
  • 2 Tbsp. your choice of citrus juice
  • 1 cup unsweetened, shredded coconut (optional)
  1. In a food processor, combine coconut butter, coconut oil, honey, zest and juice. Process until well-combined. Add shredded coconut if using and pulse until just combined.
  2. Spread mixture into an 8×8” square glass pan and smooth the top evenly. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. (*Don’t worry if the mixture is super runny when you pour it into the pan, it will harden!)
  3. Remove pan from fridge and cut fudge into squares. (*If the fudge is too hard to cut, let sit at room temperature for 5 minutes and try again.) Loosen squares with a small spatula or fork, transfer to container and store in the refrigerator.

*Kendahl from Our Nourishing Roots recommends removing from the fridge and letting the chill come off for about 20 minutes before serving. However, I served (and ate!) mine directly from the fridge. No doubt it would be a little creamier and softer if it sat out for a few minutes first but we’ve had a few hot days here so I didn’t want it to melt! I guess it just depends on the situation. 

Now that I’ve used up all our coconut butter (like she asked), my Mom says we need to buy more for some reason…

Do you ever buy new ingredients just to make a certain recipe?