Friday, June 22, 2012

Beauty And The Breakfast

eggs-and-bell-pepper.jpg

Here’s a great way to start the weekend. Beauty is where you find it.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Filthy Animal: The Sugar Bandit

australian-possum.jpg

Possum Kingdom ain’t just a lake in Texas, or a creepy song I love by The Toadies. Australia is crawling with them, and although we have concluded our series on the Paleo Way and finished up with Food Predators, I couldn’t resist posting this adorable photo of a possum who broke into an Australian bakery and ate so many pastries that he could no longer move. Poor thing, this is how they found him.

Let’s take a lesson from nature. Click here for more information on what sugar does to you. Have a good weekend, sweeties!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

The Last Supper–A Final Glance at the Paleo Diet

Hi guys, today is our Last Supper…it’s the culminating installment in a series on the Paleo Way as part of better self-care for a new age. We are going to take a quick look at the remaining primary Food Predators and wrap things up with some informative resources before moving on.

True or False

There are some misunderstood meals that aren’t healthy for you despite their reputation, and conversely, some other maligned foods that actually have your best interest at heart. It just goes to show that you can’t always judge a cook by its lover.

Love That Sugar

sugar-heart.jpg

We have examined obvious sugars and their deceptive feel-good factor. Read more at Robb Wolf’s website in his recent article, Carb Addiction: Cake Is The New Crack. It will tell you everything you need to know.

Hold The Mayo

Don’t forget to reject sugars found in common ordinary condiments like mayonnaise and ketchup. Reading food labels and identifying hidden sugars will pay off in the end.

Going Against the Grains

flour-chef.jpg

Grains contain gluten, and gluten is the large, water-soluble protein that creates the elasticity in dough, but it’s also the primary glue found in wallpaper paste. Remember in school, making your own glue with flour and water for craft projects?

Seemingly-healthy whole grains like brown rice contain yet higher levels of gluten than their stripped counterparts. Needless to say, grains are high on the list as a misunderstood food. For a lowdown on the guileful grain, check out this great link from Whole 9 Life.

Insidious Oils

There’s a handful of oils that you should be aware of and beware of. Mark Sisson dishes the straight dope, with his Definitive Guide to Oils.

Bean Around

Beans, also known as legumes, remain controversial. They create an insulin response that raises blood sugar levels. We have already discussed the misunderstood peanut, which is not a nut, but rather, a legume. Read more about beans in this Dear Mark post from Mark’s Daily Apple.

How Now, Brown Cow?

slice-of-cheese.jpg

Dairy is bad news. The vice of ice cream is obvious. Learn about the trappings of cheeses, milk, yogurt and even kefir here on Whole 9 Life.

It’s a Shrink Wrap

If it comes in a box or wrapper, think twice. Processed foods, foods with artificial sweeteners, chemicals, preservatives, and other junk food belong in the trash.

Protein Precautions

Avoid farm-raised fish. They’re fed corn as part of their diet, and as a result, their omega ratios are altered, making them a less-healthy choice than wild fish.

Ditto for chicken, and other meats. You want to limit or avoid commercially-grown, grain-fed animals. Limit or avoid smoked, cured, or nitrate-treated meats such as hot dogs, salami, etc.

Sunny Side Up

eggs.jpg

Limit and avoid eggs from chickens commercially raised in cages, and fed with grains, hormone, pesticides and antibiotics. Don’t fear the yolk. The valuable fat and vitamin D found in the yolk will satisfy and nurture you.

This is lesser-known information about the iconic egg, so please be sure to share it with your friends and spread the word about the most extraordinary orb.

Last Resorts

Our work here is done yet this is just the beginning. For more information about the Paleo life, check out these valuable resources.

http://www.robbwolf.com/
http://www.marksdailyapple.com/
http://thepaleodiet.com/
http://whole9life.com/

Om Shanti Om, Peace to you.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Soooo Sweet: Sugar, Your Biggest Enemy

honey.jpg

Welcome Back

It’s Friday, time to further investigate our Paleo plan for healthy eating in 2012.

sugar-skulls.jpg

Public Enemy Numero Uno

Today we will examine the top Food Predator: Sugar. Sugar may seem tasty, but it is the body’s number one enemy and a threat to your well-being. A dangerous food and beverage additive that will keep you sick and unhealthy, it’s everywhere, and it often cleverly wears disguises that can be absolutely alluring.

Sugar leads to a host of unhealthy problems, from tooth decay to diabetes. Check out this comprehensive list by Nancy Appleton, Ph.D., on 146 reasons why sugar is ruining your health.

In addition to health problems, sugar actually contributes to the aging process. I just received this fascinating email today from Dr. Mercola, identifying sugar’s role in the glycation process and how it destroys your skin and can eventually lead to death! An impressive resumé for something that started out so very sweet.

hooked-on-donuts.jpg

Getting Hooked on Sugar

Remember that the Paleo diet harkens back to primitive times, when hunters and gatherers did not have refined sugar available. Any sugars that the people ate came from limited amounts of natural sources. Refined sugar, courtesy of the industrial revolution, is fairly new in the scheme of history, being readily available within about the last two centuries.

Initially not part of our ancestral diet, the small amount of sugar that primitive man ate was enough to supply a reasonable amount of carbohydrates for energy, but because of the exorbitant amounts Americans and other countries consume today, we are being drowned in simple syrup.

A Quick Fix: The Sugar Trap

The affordability and immediate gratification provided by refined sugar has permitted it to be added to most foods that we eat, whether you realize it or not, because it enhances the flavor and compensates for substandard ingredients.

sugar-trap.jpg

Hidden Sugars

Sometimes it’s obvious, but sugar can also be quite cloaked. Sugar lurks in unsuspecting places–places that seem innocuous. We have already discussed how mayonnaise and ketchup contain hidden sugars. These are just two of the untrustworthy condiments that seem like an everyday necessity, but they will only raise your insulin levels, keeping you addicted to sweets. It can be difficult to find mayo and ketchup without sugar, but it’s not impossible. Remember to read your labels when shopping.

It’s in the Mix

You’ll find most commercial sauces are laden with sugar–of course any kind of prepared spaghetti sauce you buy in the market will have a ton of sugar. Just read the label on the back of the jar and you’ll see. Barbeque sauce, cocktail sauce–they all have one hidden culprit: sugar.

sugared-tomatoes.jpg

Rotten Tomatoes

What may surprise you is that most canned tomato sauces have added sugar in some form to compensate for poor-quality ingredients. The food industry is pretty rotten, and your well-being is the last thing on their mind. It’s unfortunate that such corruption exists in our world, but I guess the greedy parties responsible for such evil will simply have to live with that for the rest of their lives, assuming it bothers them in the first place.

Sweet Disguise

Sugar comes in different forms, such as corn syrup and high-fructose corn syrup, cane juice, cane syrup, agave nectar, honey, molasses, and other seemingly benign ingredients.

It may seem sweet, but trust me when I say that it’s definitely not good for you, and it is absolutely addictive. Stay away from sugar. The less you consume, the less you’ll want.

juicy-juice.jpg

Liquid Sugar

In what you drink, sugar is quite prevalent. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that sodas are not a health food. They’re loaded with sugar, among a multitude of other added sins.

Also guilty as charged are sweetened energy drinks, like Red Bull, or performance drinks like Gatorade; teas like Snapple; so-called ‘healthy’ drinks like Vitamin Water…these insincere food offerings may profess to provide one thing, but in fact they have a very different motive, and you should steer clear of them altogether.

The Juice is Good, No?

In juices as well–be it fruit or vegetable–you will find a ton of empty sugars, even if there is no added sweetener. Additionally, juices are heat-processed. This procedure kills any redeeming nutritional value. And often, the fruit or vegetable is derived from pesticide-laden produce, which is not a good thing.

stevia.jpg

If you decide to indulge in something sweet, try using my favorite sweetener up my sleeve, Stevia. All natural with zero calories, zero carbohydrates and a zero on the glycemic index, stevia will not raise your blood sugar and is an ideal choice for everyone, but especially diabetics.

Otherwise, consider moderation. My old philosophy used to be “I can resist anything except temptation.” Nowadays, it’s “Living well is the best revenge.”

See you around.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Paleo Smoothies: Shaking Things Up, With Precision

blender-blunder.jpg

Recipe for Disaster

This installment of the Paleo diet will piggyback on the smoothie. A home-blended shake is the Paleo Way for a refreshing quick snack or meal replacement, but it has to taste good. Thanks to valuable feedback from my readers, I want to clarify how to make a most superior smoothie.

I’m using as examples my two favorite options for home shakes, the Chocolate Almond and Spicy Tomato. One sweet, the other savory, both high in fat with substantial protein and low in carbs with no sugar.

Cold Equation

A few factors will factor into your success with homemade shakes. Ingredients are key. Precision in measurement is important, but you might have to make some adjustments. And finally, decent equipment will always aid the food process.

Ingredients Are Key

Using my two favorite recipes as examples let’s take a look first at Chocolate Almond.

chocolate-almond.jpg

This is a coconut milk-based concoction. The best coconut milk I have found is Thai Kitchen coconut milk. Get the organic if you can, but you definitely want to get the full-fat version, unsweetened. It can be found in your grocery in the ethnic food aisle. Shake the can really well before you start because the milk separates.

thai-kitchen-coconut-milk.jpg

The lite version is mostly water so it’s devoid of flavor and the creamy consistency and useful fat that your body needs.

Next, the recipe calls for three tablespoons almond butter, but it can be quite bitter if you add too much. You will definitely experience an acrimonious aftermath if you OD on almond butter.

spoon-o-almond-butter.jpg

Whole Foods 365 almond butter, unsalted, is the best brand I’ve found. Buy the creamy and add it with discretion. Almond butter gives you your protein and lends a rich earthy deep flavor to the shake, but too much can be overkill and once it’s in the mix it’s hard to rectify the matter, even by diluting with other ingredients.

365-almond-butter.jpg

The almond butter should contain only dry roasted almonds as its ingredient. There will be some separation on the top of the jar with the natural oils that rise to the top. Give it a good stir to distribute well for a creamy consequence.

While I was in Arizona recently for the distinguished Tucson Gem & Mineral Show, I noticed the almond butter seemed stronger and more pungent than in the San Francisco Bay Area. Maybe it’s a regional thing, an isolated incident in the batch I bought, or perhaps it was just my imagination, but whatever the case I found I needed to use less product. So when handling almond butter, proceed with caution.

With regard to the cocoa powder, I’ve tried a few varieties but keep coming back to good old Hershey’s. It’s been around since 1894, and a fixture in my mom’s kitchen for as long as I can remember. I don’t think we’ve ever used anything else, and the results are reliable.

hersheys.jpg

Now let’s examine my second recipe, the Spicy Tomato.

spicy-tomato.jpg

It’s undeniably unique as far as smoothies are concerned and exactly opposite of what you’d expect a smoothie to be, but trust me when I tell you that it’s mucho rico.

When choosing spinach, I prefer frozen over fresh.

frozen-spinach.jpg

That way, I always have some on hand and don’t have to worry about it spoiling, plus, it only adds to the thick, cool, frothy result that you’ll relish with gusto. Aim for organic.

The ingredients in the Spicy Tomato smoothie are more forgiving for miscalculation than Chocolate Almond. A little experimentation may be necessary to achieve the taste you desire. I always end up adding quite a bit of salt, just because that’s the kind of girl I am.

Adjustments

With both shakes you want to start by following the directions at first, then take liberties later, making alterations for good taste.

Decent Equipment for a Smooth Operator

vitamix.jpg

For smooth, satisfying texture, you’ll need a decent blender. The Vitamix 5200 is the Rolls Royce of blenders, but at around 500 bills, that’s a hefty price tag.

kitchenaid-blender.jpg

America’s Test Kitchen highly recommends the KitchenAid 5-Speed, $99.99. It scores high marks for all-purpose blending.

Being in the market for a good smoothie blender myself, I will probably end up purchasing the Hamilton Beach Dual Wave Blender, $79.99, but it’s currently sold out.

hamilton-beach-1.jpg

It’s got a wide jar for adding ingredients with ease and two side-by-side dual-action blades that tag-team to pulverize ingredients for a smooth finished product. I hate big chunks of ice in my smoothies, and this blender promises to destroy them. Although it’s not considered the best for all-purpose blending, it’s a top-achiever for frozen drinks, and that’s what I’m seeking.

Sometimes things don’t turn out quite the way you’d hoped, which can be disappointing. If your shake tastes bad you’re not going to want it, which defies the concept of a quick healthy Paleo meal.

Hopefully these tips will help. Please keep the comments coming, and see you soon when we get back to the Food Predators.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Detour, Detour: The Paleo Way

amethyst-geode.jpg

Hi guys. Today I am writing you from Tucson, Arizona. I’ve attended the annual world-renowned Gem & Mineral Show, and discovered a handful of gifted artists whom I will share with you.

I’ve met some unforgettable new people, and connected with some old friends. I’ll be delighted to introduce you to them as we continue our journey together.

Due to this little detour, the nutrition installment regarding Food Predators will be delayed. Because of valuable reader feedback, I’ve decided instead to give you tips on how to Shake Things Up, With Precision.

There are a few factors to consider if your shakes don’t possess their desired flavor or consistency, consistently. So stay tuned for that little morsel on meal replacement. We’ll get back to the Food Predators later.

In the meantime, I’d love to tell you about some of my discoveries and purchases at the Gem Show, so keep reading!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

All About Smoothies and The Original Smooth-Talker

smoothies.jpg

Class is Now In Session

Welcome back. As a continuation of the healthy Paleo diet, today we are exploring smoothies and conducting an investigation on The Original Smooth-Talker.

The Best-Laid Plans

Even the best-laid plans will be derailed if your food doesn’t taste good, or if it’s not convenient to execute your goals.

For a quick meal or great snack option you can always reach for a nutritious home-blended shake.

All About Smoothies and The Original Smooth-Talker

Alive with moist mouthfeel, and lots of flavor, the at-home smoothie can make the perfect breakfast or nightcap.

Beware the pitfalls of pit stops like Jamba Juice. Purveyors of seemingly healthy, ‘nutritious’ fast food are often deceptive.

The convenience is tempting but nutritionally nullified by evil sugar-laden juices, among other things, that actually sabotage the healthy lifestyle they impersonate.

You need a shake that is high-fat, with lots of quality protein, and low in carbs and sugar, exactly opposite of what you will find at a place like Jamba Juice.

Believe it or not, you want 50-70% of your shake calories coming from a good fat source. This will make a super-creamy concoction with a desirable texture.

It must be high in fat, with no added sugar. Remember that eating fat will not make you fat. The human body needs healthy fats. They will satisfy and satiate you and provide lasting energy. Your fats can be coconut milk, nut butters, avocado or a combination of these. You should really check out Mark Sisson’s five smoothie recipes on his website devoted to healthy life choices, especially diet and exercise, called Mark’s Daily Apple. Here I will include a few of my favorites.

Tastes Like Nirvana

chocolate.jpg

Coconut milk, almond butter and cocoa powder are an amazing mixture. I had one this morning, and it’s nothing short of decadent.

Coconut milk alone is rich, heavy and velvety. It’s like a glass of heaven. High in heart-healthy fats, it makes a great base for smoothies, and is extremely low in sugar and carbohydrates. Shake the can really well before you open your coconut milk, because it does separate, and make sure to buy the full-fat variety of coconut milk. You want it nice and smooth and creamy for best results.

Add to that some cocoa powder and protein-rich almond butter, ice, and give it a whirl. Almond butter provides both protein and an additional fat source, and in this shake gives the mixture a unique, earthy flavor not unlike a coffee confection.

Cool and rich, this shake comes out with a texture thick and fluffy yet dense, similar to a loose whipped cream.

I sweeten mine with liquid stevia. Stevia, remember, is an all-natural herbal supplement that is incredibly sweet and pure-tasting. It has zero calories, zero carbs, and scores zero on the glycemic index–making it a perfect choice for diabetics.

The result is positively luscious with a complex melange of deep flavors, and it tastes much better than a chocolate-coffee-peanut butter shake from the ice cream shop.

I Think We Have A Big Misunderstanding

peanuts.jpg

You might wonder why peanut butter would not be used in such a shake. Peanut butter, an American staple, contrary to public opinion, is not a patriotic protein. Even organic peanut butter, without added sugars and hydrogenated oils, is a food faux pas.

Peanuts are the least nutritious nut. In fact, did you know that they aren’t really classified as a nut? They’re technically a legume, and carry a lot of issues with regard to food allergies.

avocado.jpg

Another misunderstood food player in the Paleo way is the avocado. Long-considered a vegetable, the avocado is actually a fruit. Rich in vitamin E, avocado is a nutrient-dense food that’s great for your skin, especially in the winter months, and it acts as a ‘booster’ by enabling the body to absorb more fat-soluble skin-nurturing nutrients that are available in the other foods you eat. Avocados are great for your heart as well, because they contain both monosaturated and polyunsaturated fats.

Gone Green

Using the avocado in your home-made smoothie is easy as pie, without the awful aftermath to your torso. Coconut-avocado is a divine experience. It may sound odd, but avocado, when mixed with coconut milk, takes on a unique sweet-savory that I can only describe as mmmm.

The Spicy Tomato recipe from Mark’s website, also with an avocado base, is more heaven-in-a-glass. It’s like drinking the richest spiciest guacamole you can imagine.

Food Predators: The Original Smooth-Talker

homework.jpg

Repetition is often repetitive, and maybe you’ve forgotten, but we have already touched on the Food Predators–sugar, grains, gluten and processed foods–the counterfeit offerings found in your convenience stores, grocery and many so-called healthy establishments like Jamba Juice.

They’re a real Smooth-Talker. But do not confuse them with a genuine, healthy, real food item.

The Original Smooth-Talker would be your juices–both fruit, and vegetable–energy boosters, soy powder, dairy. An offering from Jamba Juice and its ilk is simply a sugarcoma in styrofoam. ‘Live fruitfully’ is their motto. Pardon me while I laugh. It should really be ‘Diabetes in Disguise.’

These foods deserve an Oscar for Best Actor, because they’re doing a good job at acting important, yet they’re devoid of redeeming value.

In fact, lectins, little known to the public at large, are the common natural agents found in many foods like grains, beans and legumes–especially soy–that actually rob you of the ability to digest nutrients.

Mark Sisson, author of The Primal Blueprint, describes lectins as “the cloaked thugs of the anti-nutrient underworld,” and considers them extremely dangerous.

These healthy-looking foods prey on the public, representing themselves as your friend, when in reality they’re just a cart full of killers who hide behind specious food labels and a do-good image.

Eating Your Own Words: Turning the Table on Your Enemies

sugar-lips.jpg

Keep your friends close and your enemies closer. By that, I mean, understand the Food Predators. They don’t like you at all, but they pretend they do. It’s funny, isn’t it, the irony being that they can never satisfy you. Sugar will release an endorphin response that makes you feel better temporarily, but it is very short-lived. It’s not fulfilling, and half the time it doesn’t even taste good. You just give in to temptation, and before you know it, you’ve made a huge mistake that you’re going to have to live with for a while.

I don’t even crave junk food anymore. Those foods used to be tempting, and I didn’t even care that they were bad for me, I just wanted them. But with the many delectable options available in the Paleo diet, you simply don’t need unhealthy foods.

You must be realistic and realize consequences. After you’re finished with these toxic foods, you’re just going to feel worse. They will make you sick, give you a disease, if you let them, and ultimately, they will kill you. That, my friend, is not an overstatement.

Be Afraid. Be Very Afraid.

model-with-strawberry.jpg

Food Predators are a bad enemy to have. But together, we are more powerful. They can’t hurt you now.

You see, the informed public drives commerce, and if you take a vote by refusing to financially support these evil foods, they will shrivel up and die. They’re powerless against you.

Trust me when I tell you that they’re all working together to keep you sick and fat.

Can you imagine what would happen to them if these food criminals were exposed for what they really are?

Walk away from them, and leave them standing where they are. They don’t deserve you; say goodbye. If you ignore them long enough they will cease to be a part of your dietary vocabulary.

Please, Come Again

We still have a lot to learn. Meet me back here next Friday as we advance upon The Vicious Circle–the treacherous clan of fraudulent Food Predators to watch out for and avoid at all costs. I’ll expose the ‘Cart Full of Killers’ for who they really are–I’ll even name names–and discuss the concept of Moderation. Strap up cuz it’s going to be a long ride. We’re not done yet.