This could help Americans lose weight

steak salad

While I enjoy going out to eat, I don’t know how many calories or carbohydrates are in any of the dishes on the menu. A new law requires restaurants with 20 or more chains to list the calorie counts right on the menus. If I could see the calorie count, I would definitely avoid the high-calorie entrées. The most recent study from the Rand Corp., published in 2018, “…found that if people were informed about the calories in menu items, they purchased food with 38 fewer calories, on average” (1). While that’s not a lot, if someone eats several meals a day out, those calorie savings add up fast, and could mean that person loses 11 pounds per year.

Since that study, and past studies have found that people aren’t choosing much lower calorie items when the calories are listed, it makes me wonder that the reason this is, is because the people who eat at restaurant chains are not concerned as much about how many calories they are consuming. If all restaurants, regardless of size, had to list the nutritional information on each item, I bet results would show that restaurants would provide smaller, more reasonable sized portions, and would reduce the amount of oil and fat. I also think results would show that people do chose lower-calorie options if all restaurants were forced to provide that data.

Photo: Look how much meat is on that plate. A serving would be 1/4 of that size.

  1. Source: Tiecholz, Nina. “Calories on menus won’t slim down America.” Los Angeles Times. May 20, 2018. Page A-17.

 

Sugar-Free, Dairy-Free Berry Sorbet

Fit Girl Sugar-Free, Dairy-Free Berry Sorbet

This sorbet tastes like candy, even though it has no sugar. It’s super simple to make and will satisfy a craving for sweets. Even the pickiest child will enjoy this guilt-free treat.

Berry Sorbet

  • 5 1-inch chunks frozen banana (.83% of a small banana)
  • 3 frozen strawberries
  • 5 frozen raspberries
  • 5 frozen red grapes, seedless, stems removed
  • 2 tablespoons of frozen blueberries
  • 1 teaspoon creamy almond butter, level, salt-free
  • 1/3 cup Califia Farms Toasted Coconut Almond Milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, alcohol free (optional)
  • ¼ cup plain collagen protein powder (I use Great Lakes)*
  • 1 teaspoon coconut flakes, unsweetened

Add all ingredients in the order above, except for the coconut flakes, to a mini food processor until creamy. Use a spoon to move sorbet into a small bowl and top with coconut flakes.

approx. 250 calories, 20 grams of protein, and 35 grams of net carbs

*To make your sorbet vegan, just add a few tablespoons of your favorite plant-based plain, or vanilla protein powder.

cell phone use increases body fat & blood sugar

texting

If you’re doing everything you’re supposed to do, such as exercising and eating healthy food, but can’t get your blood sugar stabilized, and/or can’t lose weight, you might be right: it’s not your fault. That’s not to say there’s nothing you can do about it though. Just like parabens in lotions and cosmetics can mess with metabolism, that blue light from iPhones and computers can increase “…insulin resistance-your body’s inability to absorb glucose effectively-and may alter metabolism.”

Keep your computer and cell phone use to a minimum; you might lose weight and have better control over your blood sugar. Cutting back on time at the computer and on the cell phone may relieve neck and back pain, and eye strain too.

 

Source: Yu, Christine. “Set the Table for Healthy Eating. A few simple tricks can help you eat well and lose weight.” Parade Magazine. May 20, 2018. Page 6. Print.

Nada Moo vegan ice cream review

Nada Moo vegan ice cream view from the top

Since I’m allergic to dairy, one of my friends would say “no moo for you!” So, when I saw Nada Moo vegan ice cream, which is dairy-free, I just had to try it. One of my favorite ice cream flavors is Mint and Chip so I bought their “Lotta Mint Chip.” It has a wonderful, sweet mint flavor with just the right amount of crunchy, mini, dark-chocolate chips.

This flavor is delicious, but it could be a bit creamier (the fat comes from coconut). It’s 140 calories for a half a cup, which is on par for a regular ice cream, but stopping at a half a cup is hard when it tastes this good.

Here’s the link to the company’s website: https://nadamoo.com/

Nada Moo Mint and Chip vegan ice cream

 

the newest zero calorie sweetener: monk fruit

monk fruit extract

Manufacturers have been using monk fruit as a sweetener for years, but it’s now gaining a lot of traction and you’ll find this ingredient in a lot more products. What I like about it is that has zero calories, zero carbs, and is not synthetic. The extract is pulled from an Asian fruit called Luo Han Guo.

I wanted to try this sweetener because sometimes I want to sweeten up a dessert without adding more calories or carbohydrates. I don’t like the medicinal aftertaste of stevia so I stopped using that years ago. A food blogger recommended NuNatural’s powdered monk fruit. The price tag for the tiny amount of monk fruit powder I paid was $30, and that’s for less than an ounce of the product.

What I found is that it’s really hard to control the amount that flows out of the little holes on the top. Sometimes, too much comes out and sometimes too little, so that means an inconsistent dessert. Only a small amount is needed for, say, a smoothie, and I don’t know how to calculate 1/32nd of a teaspoon. It’s not like honey or sugar, where more is just sweeter. More monk fruit is harsh and unpleasant. I found the best way to use monk fruit powder is to add 1/16th of a teaspoon to a full carton of unsweetened vegan milk, or to a pitcher of black tea, and shake it, or stir each time before pouring.

All-in-all, I’m not a fan of monk fruit, or maybe it’s just this brand that I don’t like. It doesn’t have a natural sweetness to it; it tastes a bit synthetic. I’ve found products that taste good with monk fruit as the last ingredient in it, like almond milk and some protein powders, but I won’t be buying monk fruit again. My favorite ways to sweeten up a treat is with fruit, honey or maple syrup.

If you want to try this brand of monk fruit, or want more information, here’s the link to the website and where you can buy it on Amazon: https://www.nunaturals.com/pages/search-results?q=monk%20fruit&p=1

https://www.amazon.com/NuNaturals-LoSweet-Extract-Powdered-Sweetener/dp/B00LW219H8?th=1

7 foods you should never eat again. Healthy substitutes for your favorite fatty, sugary foods provided too.

donuts

There’s certain foods you should ban for life. Don’t worry, it’s not pizza. I’ve compiled this short list of foods that people commonly eat, but are so detrimental to our health, that we really should never eat them because these foods have one or more of the following elements: contain chemicals, are chock-full of sugar, contain cholesterol and increase LDL cholesterol levels, are high in fat and calories, contain saturated fat, they spike and increase blood sugar levels, are high in sodium, increases the liklihood of type II diabetes, are low in nutrients, and/or creates arterly clogging plaque in the body. 

Bacon – high in fat and cholestrol

Although, no one wants to give up foods they enjoy, you will feel so much better after you eat something healthy. Bacon may taste good, but I don’t know anyone that feels good after eating bacon. The high-salt and high-fat from the bacon will drown your energy, may cause chest pains and an upset stomach. Nitrate-free ham is a better alternative to bacon.

Mac & cheese – very low in nutrients, high in saturated fat and calories

There’s wheat and gluten-free macaroni that won’t hurt your gut, and vegan cheese made from nuts, that you can choose instead of traditional macaroni and cheese, but beware of how many calories you are eating. Even the healthier versions can be very high in calories. Nuts are extremely high in calories, but are a source of healthy fats.

Donuts – The most important meal of the day is breakfast. You don’t want to start your day with a fried, fatty sugar bomb.

How about having a smoothie sweetened with fruit for a sweet breakfast treat instead? You’ll get fiber and antioxidants.

Soda – full of chemicals, no nutrients, liquid sugar

Zevia is a zero-calorie soda sweetened with stevia so it doesn’t have fake sugar that causes cancer in lab rats. Zevia tastes good too. Just don’t get the cola versions if it contains caramel color because that coloring is linked to cancer too. Of course, filtered water is the best option, but if you can’t give up soda, Zevia is a better option.

Quesadilla – high-calorie, low-nutrient, high-salt

A quesadilla is typically made with flour and fatty, salty cheese, so it’s a high-carbohydrate junk food. Have a corn taco filled with beans, cabbage and vegetables instead of a quesadilla. You can find my recipe for Vegan Tacos with Coconut-Lime Yogurt right here on my blog

Cheetos – food coloring & flavorings (increases cancer), lots of oil, sugar

If you’ve never tried Trader Joe’s kale chips, you’ve got to; they are amazingly delicious, crunchy and they don’t taste like kale. They taste like crunchy chips with a cheesy flavor made from cashews. The bag is small at only 2 ounces, so it’s pricey for what you get, but it’s a healthy, guilt-free treat, and the small bag prevents you from eating too much. Here’s the link to my favorite one: https://www.amazon.com/Trader-Joes-Kale-Chips-Resealable/dp/B009RCR6R2 .

Grilled cheese sandwich – arterty-clogging, fattening

Instead of a grilled cheese sandwich, make a dairy-free sandwich with healthy fat from a creamy, fresh, ripe avocado. Toast one slice of bread. Add sliced avocado, lime juice, a pinch of sea salt and some cracked black pepper.

If you want healthy entrée and dessert recipes, more healthy alternatives to your favorite foods, like my lower-carb and lower-calorie BBQ Chicken Pizza or how to make quick-and-simple lower-salt, lower-fat sausages, order my book from www.thehighfivediet.com

 

 

2-ingredient gluten-free pasta that tastes like the real thing

gluten free pasta sheels by Ancient Nutrition

I’ve tried whole-wheat pasta, and I just don’t like it. It’s too thick and chewy. Wheat products give me a uncomfortable feeling of fullness even with a small amount so I stay away from wheat and gluten. I’ve tried numerous gluten-free products, and have found that they just taste weird. Many gluten-free items contain rice, which isn’t good either because rice contains naturally-occurring arsenic.

When I saw this gluten-free pasta with just two ingredients: corn and quinoa, I had to try it. It’s also certified organic. The directions say to cook it in boiling water for 8-9 minutes, but that’s definitely not enough time because it’s hard to chew.

I put the pasta with a few shakes of salt, about two teaspoons of olive oil, in boiling water for 15 minutes. Then I drained it and rinsed the cooked pasta with filtered tap water. The end result is pasta that tastes really good. Make sure to get the “shells.” I tried the “elbows” which is their macaroni-style pasta, but that one tastes like the gluten-free pasta people dislike.

Use the cooking tips above for Ancient Harvest Shell pasta, and I bet no one will realize it’s gluten-free.

Here’s the link to buy it from Amazon, but I’ve found it much cheaper at the grocery store:

https://www.amazon.com/Ancient-Harvest-Gluten-Pasta-Shells/dp/B00EFRWHCS/ref=sr_1_3_s_it?s=grocery&ie=UTF8&qid=1526511002&sr=1-3&keywords=ancient+harvest+pasta+shells

Naked Egg-White Protein Powder Review

Fit Girl holding a tub of Naked egg-white protein powder

Since I’m allergic to milk protein, I can’t have whey or casein protein powders to add to my fruit smoothies. Amazon has a 3-pack sample of Naked egg-white protein powders so I purchased it so see if I liked it enough to buy a tub of it. The 3-lb tub (pictured above) contains 44 servings for $65, which equates to $1.48 a serving which is a good price for a quality protein powder.

The one thing all three Naked egg white protein powders have in common is that the protein powder doesn’t assimilate very well; it clumps up and takes longer to get the protein powder dispersed evenly. My smoothies are fairly small so that could be why. My husband makes large smoothies with ice, so the smoothies he makes don’t have that clumping problem.

Here’s my review of all three egg-white protein powder flavors:

Plain: It has a slight unpleasant egg smell which goes away after blending with fruit and coconut milk. It has a subtle odd flavor, but if you add strong flavors like cocoa powder or coffee, or lots of ingredients to your smoothie, the odd protein powder flavor becomes unnoticeable. One serving has 110 calories (not bad, but I prefer it to be lower), 2 grams of carbs (great!), and 25 grams of protein (I prefer not to exceed 20 grams of protein at a time since one study showed that the body can only process 20 grams of protein at a time, and the remaining goes to waste). This has only two ingredients: egg white protein and sunflower lecithin.

Chocolate: It tastes like plain protein powder with cocoa powder, which I like because lots of chocolate protein powders taste like synthetic chocolate, and not the real thing. It’s 150 calories for one serving (which is kind-of a lot), with 6 grams of carbs (not bad, but I prefer it to be lower) and a whopping 25 grams of protein. Unfortunately, this has coconut sugar, but that balances out the cocoa so it has a pleasant flavor instead of that bitterness you get from chocolate.

Vanilla: I found this flavor to be really strong and overpowering, but my husband liked it. If you add bitter greens to your smoothies, this might be the best option. A serving contains 110 calories (not too high, but I try not to exceed 100 calories in protein powder), 2 grams of carbs (this is low which is great since I add carbs from fruit), and 25 grams of protein (a lot!). This does have coconut sugar in it though.

My recommendation is to try all three flavors to see which one you prefer; it’s three for $9.99, which is $3.33 per sample. Here’s the link to order: https://www.amazon.com/Naked-White-Protein-Powder-Sample/dp/B01M0SMMEA?th=1

Taste-wise, I like Naked’s egg white chocolate protein powder the best, but because that one contains coconut sugar, it’s still sugar, and because it doesn’t blend very well, I wouldn’t buy this for myself.

Broccoli with creamy guacamole dressing, cumin-dusted chickpeas, dried cranberries, walnuts & vegan chorizo bits

Mexicali Broc and Guac

I wanted a healthy low-carb Mexican dish with guacamole, and this vegetable, bean & nut salad exceeded my expectations. The creamy guacamole coats the broccoli so nicely that each spear is delicious! The roasted chickpeas add texture and protein. The dried cranberries have a wonderful sweet and sour punch. The walnuts add a nice crunch, and additional healthy fat. The vegan chorizo bits are optional, but I like them because they add additional crunch, more protein and lots of heat! If you don’t like spicy food, just omit the chorizo. I’ve nicknamed this recipe: Mex Broc and Guac

 Vegan Broc, Guac and Spice

 Ingredients:

  • 1 can of chick peas, rinsed and drained
  • cumin
  • Salt
  • chorizo (optional. I used Tofurky Chorizo Style)
  • 2 large bunches of broccoli
  • ¼ red onion, diced
  • Prepared guacamole
  • ½ cup dried cranberries
  • ¼ cup chopped walnuts

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Place the chickpeas on a parchment paper-lined cookie sheet. With a potato-masher, press down half the chickpeas to smash them. Sprinkle salt and cumin to lightly dust each one. Heat in oven for 30 minutes so that some of them are crispy-crunchy.

Place the crumbled chorizo onto a heated fry pan (no oil is needed), and cook until some pieces are crisp. The amount to cook depends on how much each person would want. One tablespoon is enough for me, but my husbands likes about four tablespoons. Think of it as crumbled bacon bits on top of a salad to determine how much to cook for each person.

Next, fill a large saucepan with water and bring to a boil. While the water is heating up, slice the broccoli into long, thin, bite size pieces, keeping a lot of the stems attached to the broccoli flower head. After the water boils, add a few shakes of salt, and add the broccoli. Turn on the timer for 5 minutes. Check the broccoli (taste a piece) to see if it’s done enough for your liking. Some people like broccoli fairly raw, but I like broccoli that’s firm, but soft enough so that my teeth still sink into the stalks fairly easily. You probably won’t need to cook the broccoli more than 9-10 minutes. After the broccoli is cooked, drain the water through a colander. Then, add the drained broccoli to a salad spinner to remove any excess water; this makes it easy to get the guacamole to stay on, and won’t thin out the dressing.

In a large glass bowl, add the broccoli, diced red onion, and dried cranberries. Add one cup of guacamole (this is the dressing) to the bowl, and toss with your hands so that all of the broccoli is coated with the guacamole. Plate ¾ to 1 cup of broccoli on a large plate. Remove the cooked chick peas from the oven and place on a hot pad. Add three or more tablespoons of chickpeas on top of the plated broccoli. Then sprinkle one tablespoon of chopped walnuts on top. Lastly, add the cooked chorizo bits on and around the plate. Serve cold or cooled down.

Serves 4.

The vitamin no one takes, but should

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Vitamin K2 works with vitamins A, D, and calcium to strengthen bones and keep our bodies healthy and running efficiently. Without vitamin K2, calcium could end up in joints and arteries. Lack of this essential vitamin is linked to osteoporosis, atherosclerosis, bone fractures, plaque in coronary arteries, vitamin D toxicity, insulin resistance, MS, excess body fat, and even cancer. “Vitamin K2 completely blocks free radical accumulation” (pg 112). “Vitamin K deficiency is also linked to Alzheimer’s’” (pg. 113) and “…increases our risk of diabetes” (pg 112). How does Vitamin K do this? It has many roles, one being that Vitamin K improves insulin absorption. If you think vitamins are not important, a reminder is that doctors insist on pregnant women to take prenatal vitamins to prevent disease and deformity in their unborn children.

Never heard of K2? Most people haven’t. When people think of Vitamin K, that’s K1 from green leafy green vegetables, which doesn’t readily convert to K2. It’s rare that people are deficient in Vitamin K1. K2 sources used to be abundant, but because of practices to increase profits, instead of increasing nutrients in the foods we eat, most people are deficient in K2.

K2 comes from fat, butter, and liver from animals that roam freely in the sun and eat grass (now they are fed blood, organs, and grain, and are sheltered in small confined spaces), and from bright orange egg yokes from chickens who are out in the open air, getting natural vitamin D from sunshine. K2 also comes from natto, which is spoiled, slimy soybeans that is found in some Japanese diets. You can get your K2 from kimchi, a fermented cabbage dish with vegetables (I tried it and my stomach hurt for hours), and from emu oil (which you can buy and use to moisturize your skin).

Joint pain could be caused from eating sugar, a lack of exercise, or from a deficiency of K2; Calcium can settle in joints instead of building bones. K2 pushes calcium where it needs to go and ushers it away from where it shouldn’t. K2 deficiency could also be an indication of frozen shoulder where the shoulder becomes calcified, resulting in pain and limited range of motion.

When searching for a K2 vitamin, look for K2 with MK-7. You don’t want Vitamin K2 with MK-4, that’s synthetic, and potentially harmful. If you’re vegan, you don’t want MK-4 because that’s from animal products. Even if you’re not vegan, MK-4 isn’t the most beneficial form of K2. You want the natural non-animal form of K2, which is MK-7. Look for one that is non-GMO and has the GMP designation, which stands for good manufacturing practices.

Dr. Kate Rheamume-Bleue, author of “Vitamin K2 and the Calcium Paradox,” recommends taking vitamins A, D3, K2, magnesium and calcium together with some fat. You can omit the Vitamin A as long as you take these vitamins with food containing protein. If you’re taking blood thinners, she recommends no more than 50 mcg of K2 MK-7 per day (see 2nd link below). If you cannot find this small amount of MK-7 by itself, you can, instead search for a multi-vitamin which will typically have less MK-7. She recommends 120 mg of MK-7 for most people, but she ups the dosage for her type 2 diabetic and overweight patients to 240 mg of MK-7.

This is one I ordered:

K2 MK-7 90 mcg $11.86 60 soft gels https://www.amazon.com/Jarrow-Formulas-MK-7-mcg-Count/dp/B0013OVVFA/ref=sr_1_4_s_it?s=hpc&ie=UTF8&qid=1524754518&sr=1-4&keywords=jarrow+k2

For those on blood thinners:

Low dose 45 mcg MK-7: https://www.amazon.com/Life-Extension-Low-Dose-Vitamin-Softgels/dp/B001KSNDSM/ref=sr_1_4_s_it?s=hpc&ie=UTF8&qid=1524755902&sr=1-4&keywords=life%2Bextension%2Bvitamin%2Bk2%2Bmk-7&th=1

 

1.       Source: Rheaume-Bleue, Dr. Kate. Vitamin K2 and the Calcium Paradox. How a Little-Known Vitamin Could Save Your Life. Wiley. 2012. Print.

Photo: Me

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