Thursday, October 23, 2014

Chocolate Caramel Nougat Bars


Candy! The one sugary concoction that seems to take the world by storm around the holidays. It is literally everywhere, in every form, shape, size, color, and flavor imaginable. Funny thing is, they are all essentially made with the same ingredients, or at least derived from the same sources; GMO corn, soy, and gluten. Yum. Growing up I never really had taste buds for candy. 
Because my mother has been feeding us real, organic/local food since we were little, I could easily tell how artificial "food" made me feel cruddy (i.e headache, sore throat, and toothaches). 
Despite the fact that processed, high sugar confections are literally toxic to the human body (in that they dump a huge load of glucose into our bloodstream), I don't believe treating yourself has to include the same detrimental effects.  In today's recipe, I use bit of maple sugar to give the candy the sweetness it needs, without leaving you feeling as though you just guzzled an entire bottle of corn syrup. I would not advise trying to make it "healthier" by substituting with a sugar free alternative, as it is important to realize that when trying to cut back on sugar as a way to lose weight, or simply be healthier, substitutes are the last thing our bodies want. Not only are these alternatives abused, but they always seem to have a "catch" that is more harmful to our bodies than real, unprocessed versions like raw honey, pure maple syrup, or organic molasses.  


One prime example of this would be xylitol, a common sugar substitute used in baked goods due to its lack of aftertaste.  Though thought of as safe, this ingredient is actually classified as a dense "acellular" carbohydrate source. This means unlike "cellular" carbohydrates that are naturally sweet in their whole form like sweet potatoes or blueberries, xylitol's cellular wall is already broken down before ingestion. When eaten, our bodies do not know how to handle this foreign food, because it is in a sense pre-digested, thus not allowing our gut to break down the cell wall to access the glucose, and therefore overwhelming the gut.  Instead of benefiting our bodies, acellular carbohydrates mess with gut flora balance and impair metabolism, both of which cause a rise in overall inflammation.  Other examples of these acellular carbohydrates are other processed sweeteners (fructose, HFCS, agave, dextrose, malitol, etc.), grain based flours, PUFA oils and fat (shortening & margarine). Raw honey or maple syrup on the other hand, are not as foreign to the body. Yes, they are sugar, but they come from real, minimally processed sources, and are much more easily recognized by our bodies. Many people see alternatives as their "out," or a way to continue satisfying their uncontrollable sweet tooth without actually trying or changing their lifestyle. Not only is this unhealthy for the body, but also from a psychological standpoint. Sugar substitutes have a time and a place, especially for people who cannot have sugar of any type due to serious medical reasons (like me), however, that doesn't give one the right to over-do them. Eliminating processed sugar (and substitutes) allows one's tastebuds to adjust, recognize the abundance of flavor present in real food, and ultimately enjoy eating on a whole new level.  I can tell you from personal experience that, it is truly crazy how sweet fresh fruit and even vegetables can taste on there own. 


As few notes on today's recipe, you can form these candies into little logs or rectangle, or simply layer them in a lined loaf pan, either way works. Though the recipe calls for macadamia nut butter (which I made by blending 2 cups of macadamia nuts in a food processor until smooth), you can essentially use any nut butter that you have on hand such as almond butter. If wanting to eliminate even small amounts of cane sugar, I have included my quick and easy recipe for homemade "raw" chocolate, which hardens in the freezer due to the saturated nature of coconut oil. Either way is equally delicious, and I am sure you and your guests will enjoy these confections just as much as my friends and family!


Chocolate Caramel Nougat Bites
Ingredients 
Nougat
  • Combine nut butter with sweet potato flour and maple sugar until fully mixed.
  • Using your hands, form nougat into logs and flatten to desired thickness in a parchment lined baking dish.
  • Once done, place dish into freezer until hardened. (10-20 minutes depending on thickness) 
Caramel
  • While the nougat is hardening, make 1/2 of my caramel recipe in a medium sized pan, as directed.
  • Once finished quickly pour the hot caramel into a heat proof dish *This ensures it does not burn to the bottom of your pan. 
  • Spoon equal amounts (about 1 tbsp) over each peace of hardened nougat, and spread into an even layer. 
  • Place in freezer and allow to completely harden. (10-20 minutes) 
Chocolate 
  • To make the chocolate shell, simply melt chocolate chips with one tsp of coconut oil over very low heat until fully melted, stirring every now and then to prevent burning. *Alternatively you can do this on a double broiler or stick the mixture in a heat proof bowl and into a warm oven.
  • Once caramel layer has hardened, spoon about 1 tbsp of the melted chocolate over the caramel layer, and smooth out with the back of your spoon.
  • Sprinkle with a bit of sea salt and place candies into the freezer for 1 hour (or until chocolate has fully hardened) 
Raw Chocolate 
  • If making homemade chocolate, combine 1/3 cup of melted coconut oil with 1/3 cup of cocoa in a medium sized mixing bowl until fully combined.
  • Mix in 2-3 tbsp of maple sugar, 1 tsp vanilla, and a pinch of sea salt. 
  • Allow to cool slightly until the caramel mixture has hardened over your candies. 
  • Once ready, spoon 1 tbsp of homemade raw chocolate over the caramel covered nougat.
  • Sprinkle with salt if desired, and place back in freezer for 1 hour.
  • Remove candies when ready to serve. *Be aware that the coconut oil will soften at room temperature, so make sure to always store candies in the freezer and serve immediately after removing.  

Enjoy!



Gabriella





2 Corinthians 4:18 "We fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal."

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Banana Snack Cookie



With extended family in town this past week, I decided to take advantage of the extra mouths to feed by making new creations.  My family does not celebrate halloween, however, since molded and wrapped high fructose corn syrup (aka candy) is literally being thrown around and handed out everywhere, I figured my family and friends would appreciate if I made the real deal.  If you are anything like me and get a headache at just the smell or even thought of Jolly Ranchers, stay tuned for upcoming recipes of almond joy bites and chocolate caramel fudge chews, I can promise they're much tastier. 


Obviously, todays recipe is not candy, but rather a relatively easy fruit sweetened snack cookie made with only 5 ingredients. I call them a "snack" cookie because they are not all together overly-sweet or rich like your typical chocolate chip cookie, but more like my sweet potato breakfast cookie.   They also happen to be AIP (auto-immune paleo) friendly, as I use gelatin to replace what binding an egg would accomplish.  Real gelatin (not the kind in Jello) has many healing benefits, as it is rich in collagen, proline, keratin, glycine, trace minerals, and protein, all of which together aid in gut repair, digestion, skin, hair, teeth, adrenal, hormone, and liver health.  I could go on and on about how powerful it is, and definitely would call it a real "superfood," right along with my beloved saturated fat.  If you are interested in learning more about what gelatin has to offer, head over to Grass Fed Girl's page here.   Not only does it work great as an egg replacer in baking, but you can make cute little Jello-like gummy snacks with just about any type of fruit or beverage that you like! The Paleo Parents also express their love for gelatin in a post that shares information on which type of gelatin to buy, as well as a slue of great recipes. 




Banana Snack Cookie 
Ingredients
  • 8 oz (1 cup of chunks) banana - peeled
  • 1/4 cup no sugar added apple sauce 
  • 1 tbsp vanilla (optional)
  • 1 1/4 cup shredded, unsweetened coconut
  • 1 gelatin egg (1 tbsp gelatin mixed in 3 tbsp warm water) 
  • Dash of salt (optional) 
Process
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • In a food processor fitted with the "S" blade, mix banana, apple sauce, salt, and vanilla until smooth.
  • Make gelatin egg in a small ramekin and add to the processor, allowing to run until thoroughly mixed in.
  • Add 1 1/4 cup of shredded coconut and pulse until just combined.
  • With a cookie scoop, scoop batter onto prepared baking sheet and use your wet palm or fingers to flatten.
  • Bake in the oven 15 minutes and allow to cool slightly before moving to a wire rack.

Enjoy!




Gabriella





Proverbs 4:11 "I guide you in the way of wisdom and lead you along straight paths."

Breaking the Cholesterol Myth

An average cholesterol blood test is the last thing that you want to rely on when determining your risk for heart disease, stroke, or blood clots.  Unlike popular belief, the term “cholesterol” does not simply stand for one particle that floats around in your blood, clogging up arteries as it goes. Instead, “cholesterol” really implies a variety of different lipoproteins that all have their own specific functions and importance. The three major players the blood are VLDLs (very low density lipoproteins), LDLs (low density lipoproteins), and HDLs (high density lipoproteins). These lipoproteins also contain different amounts cholesterol, triglycerides, and minor fats, all of which determine whether it is a harmful or beneficial particle to the body.  It is also important to note that when dietary intake of cholesterol is intentionally lowered (as is the case for most trying to avoid cardiovascular disease), the body naturally makes more in attempt to compensate for the loss. 


Quality Over Quantity 
HDL, usually termed the “good cholesterol,” take up approximately 30% of the total amount in a healthy individual, and has a job of cleaning the bloodstream of any oxidized cholesterol by taking it back to the liver for recycling or excretion.  VLDLs, which are made up of 80% triglycerides, produce in the liver and have the job of bring triglyceride and cholesterol to target fat and muscle cells throughout the body.  Once this transportation process is completed, VLDLs either become big, “fluffy” LDLs or small, dense LDLs. Big, “fluffy” LDL are for the most part harmless, as they are formed when triglyceride and insulin levels are low (a good sign that overall inflammation is low).  Conversely, when these big LDLs are present alongside of systemic inflammation from poor diet and lifestyle, they can become factors in the cause of heart disease.  Small, dense LDL on the other hand, are created when the opposite blood counts occur (high triglycerides and insulin), and cause an inflammatory immune response in arteries due to resisting oxidative stress created by the constant oxygen exposure.  Because of the differing sizes of these two LDL types, the average blood test accounting for the total value of cholesterol, shows to be useless. The real issue of the matter is not how big you overall LDL numbers are, but rather which types of molecules make up the amount (small and dense or big and fluffy). 

Process of Prevention 
Risks for heart disease occur when small, dense LDL (full of triglycerides via excess insulin production) are able to cram themselves into the sensitive ECL (endothelial cell layer) of an artery that has been previously damaged from inflammation in the body.  Though small, ECL cells are incredibly important in the body, due to the ability of detecting the tiniest chemical changes in the blood from poor external factors.  When they sense there is something wrong happening, an urgent response of the “inflammation alarm” is released. In healthy individuals, this pro-inflammatory response is very productive and helpful, as it is able to defend and aid in the healing of any arising problems.  However, in a compromised system (which is the case for those with high insulin and triglycerides), this response ends up worsening the issue through the release of macrophages- white blood cells that swallow cellular debris, which in this case is the small, dense LDL lodged in the ECL.  In effort to try and "eat up" the large amount of oxidized LDL molecules now stuck in the artery wall, the macrophages transform themselves into foam cells, which then produce a chemical (myeloperoxidase) that only further oxidizes the LDL debris. After all that, foam cells release yet another chemical (cytokines) that attracts more macrophages, making an inevitable and destructive cycle in the artery. When this inflammatory sequence happens, clots form from the accumulation of plaque, which then makes the chance of a rupture highly probable.  However, where a rupture occurs does not necessarily determine where it will stay, as they commonly detach from their origin and place themselves anywhere in the bodies circulatory system that they please. Two common examples of this are strokes, where an artery to the brain gets blocked, and a heart attack, where obstruction occurs in the coronary artery.  
Bad Cop Good Cop 
To say that this process of inflammation and pro-inflammatory responses (via the accumulation of small, compact LDL in an already weakened ECL) was due to cholesterol in animal meat and saturated fat, is very vague and deceiving.  Yes, cholesterol is present in the process leading up to a heart attack, however, it is not the one to blame.  In hopes to simplify the reasoning behind heart disease, experts have altered the way we view the helpful and essential assignment put on cholesterol in the body.  Accusing a helpless particle simply trying to balance inflammation in the body is quite ignorant, as it is clear that the real culprits are unhealthy external factors (excessive carb, sugar, processed food and oil intake, lack of exercise, and (or) too much chronic exercise.), all of which are NOT from actual cholesterol containing foods and saturated fat.  
The varying situations that truly act as precursors to heart disease, along with other major health problems like cancer include; Hyperinsulinemia (elevated insulin due to excess carb intake), high triglycerides (stored, useless form of fat caused by excess glucose), chronically elevated cortisol (stress hormone that promotes inflammation due to poor diet, chronic exercise, bad sleep, etc…), and not enough HDL (inefficient cleaning of damaged cells in the blood via poor diet, exercise, or statins). Putting these catalysts together, one can see that the main, reoccurring theme always seems to stem from the unhealthy and stressful diet and lifestyle that comes from living in an industrialization nation.  Not only do excess carbs produce overwhelming amounts of insulin in the body, but polyunsaturated, trans, and partially hydrogenated fats (see previous post), coupled with the lack, or wrong type of exercise, antioxidants, and saturated fat in one’s life, all come together to create an uncontrollable recipe for disaster.  Whether these health complications show themselves in the present moment of one’s life or not, the seemingly insignificant dangers will always, eventually, end up rearing their ugly heads.   


Instead of focusing on the overall blood count of your cholesterol, there are quite a few alternative routes that can serve as true indicators for any existing health problem that are much more reliable.  According to Dr. Cat Shanahan, one of the most important blood metric assessments for heart disease is the triglycerides to HDL count, which is ideally a ratio of 1:1, due to the dangers caused by excess triglycerides, or insufficient HDL. Others include blood pressure (ideally diastolic/systolic of 120/80 or lower), vitamin D (healthy: 50-70 ng/mL, treating disease: 70-100 ng/mL), fasting blood insulin, HbA1C (estimated average glucose test over an extended period), triglycerides (dangerous: +150 mg/dL, optimal: 100 mg/dL), and hs-CRP (“high sensitivity C-reactive protein” normal: 1 mg/L, pregnancy or systemic inflammation: 10-40+ mg/L).  Elevated markers that also indicate high risk of heart disease, cardiac mortality, damaged tissue, systemic inflammation, and overall health are Interleukin-6 (secretion of “T” white blood cells and macrophages), homocysteine (amino acid), CPK enzyme (creatine phosphokinase in the brain, heart, lungs, and skeletal muscles), LpA2 enzyme (promotes lipoprotein oxidation), ApoB protein (readings in context to “normal” ranges), LDL particle size & advanced lipid profile testing, and coronary calcium testing (via CT scan).  You can also request a separate reading for LDL particle size on your standard cholesterol test. 


What About Statins? 
The problem with statins is that they lower the overall count of your cholesterol (both LDL and HDL).  As discussed previously, not enough of the “good” HDL can lead to plaque build up, even in the presence of of a relatively low amount of small, compact LDL levels. Because this pro-inflammatory suppression of the liver’s cholesterol production stifles overall lipoprotein blood values, simultaneously ever cell membrane is depleting of their energy-producing coenzyme “Q-10,” which then causes fatigue, muscle pain and dysfunction, as well as inability to fight inflammation and free radical damage.  All negative side effects aside, statins have never even been proven to address excessive triglycerides or small, dense LDL levels, both of which are the real risks behind heart disease.  That being said, there have been a few random cholesterol lowering benefits that did occur for some people in high-risk populations, through incidental blood thinning, plaque-stabilization, and anti-inflammatory effects.  However, through various studies, it has been shown that after four years, prescribed multiple cardiac medications have risen their patients risk of mortality by 40%.  All in all, statins do not save people's lives, nor do their subsidiary side effects (good or bad) make them a smart choice regarding overall health.  


Your Choice Only
Overall, the true causes for heart disease can be summed down to three things; oxidation, inflammation, and coagulation (thickening of the arterial wall).  No study, including the extensive  Framingham Heart Study, have ever shown a link between dietary fat, cholesterol intake, and heart disease.  Instead, poor external practices such as smoking and alcohol consumption, lack of exercise, carb-dependency, PUFA intake, and excess sugar, (all of which ultimately contribute to skyrocketing inflammation in the body) deceivingly turn the true “good guy” (aka cholesterol & saturated fat) into an inflamed internal mess.  Instead of depending on a vague and misleading number off an average cholesterol test, take into account the whole picture of your past and present lifestyle.  Consider the fact that common vehicles for butter and meat all happen to be be high insulin and inflammatory products, while those naturally full of saturated fats really are the real definition behind super food. 






Gabriella





John 16:33 "These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world."

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Pork Chops with Sweet Cider Slaw


Between October being the "national month of pork," apples

at their peek of harvest, and the sweetness of maple syrup catching everyone's tastebuds, I knew combining the three into a simple, weeknight dish was a must.  Essentially, this meal takes two steps.  The first can be made as far in advance as the day before, or simply the morning of your planned dinner.  All that comes next is the actual cooking of the pork chops, which only takes about 10 minutes either broiling or grilling, and then your done.  I know grilling is not usually associated with cooler weather, however, I believe squeezing out all of the accessibility that a grill gives should be done until a literal blizzard hinders one from doing so.  Not only do grills save your kitchen from becoming a mess, but there is something about freezing your butt off before dinner that makes a warm, home cooked meal that much more satisfactory. However, if all of that is completely unappealing to you, then simply broiling the chops on a baking sheet can be just as effective. I used Green Valley Farm meat, as it is literally 10 minutes down the road from my house, and I highly recommend you too find a local farm to source your meat.  Not only do humanly raised animals yield a much more nutrient dense meat, but ultimately they are a lot tastier than any store-bought, antibiotic treated "protein." If you are not convinced, here are a few reasons why eating local is better, and another ten reason on how to do so.  Much like my stuffed pepper and pizza frittata recipes, this dinner was loved by my 15 year old brother who tends to be my biggest critic of all.  If that doesn't persuade you to make it, I am not sure what will, so with all that said, lets get cooking!



Maple Mustard Pork Chops
Ingredients
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp brown mustard
  • 2 tbsp homemade spicy mustard *This lends a subtle punch to the otherwise sweet marinade 
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup olive or avocado oil 
  • 4, 8 oz bone-in pork chops 
Process
  • Mix first five ingredients together in a medium sized bowl or metal baking dish.
  • Place pork chops in marinade, coating thoroughly with hands, and covering with plastic wrap.
  • Let marinate over night (or) 4-5 hours.
  • When ready to cook, preheat grill or broiler, and cook 5 minutes per side on the grill (or) in a baking dish 4 inches away from the top broiler. *Cooking time will vary depending on the thickness of your chops.  
  • Remove from heat and let sit for 5 minutes to lock in the yummy juices.


Sweet Cider Slaw
Ingredients
  • 4-6 cups napa cabbage -shredded
  • 1/2 medium sized purple onion -thinly sliced
  • 2 medium sized apples -diced
  • 1 lemon-juiced
  • 2 small kohlrabi -shredded *or thinly sliced with knife 
  • 1/2 cup apple cider
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
Process
  • In a large mixing bowl, combine shredded cabbage, onion, kohlrabi, apples, and sea salt. 
  • In a measuring cup, mix together the cider, salt, lemon juice, and olive oil.
  • Pour sauce over slaw and mix thoroughly with hands until fully coated.
  • Cover with plastic wrap and let marinate overnight (or) until dinner *Preferably 4-5 hours. 
  • Serve raw or lightly sautee in a large skillet until desired texture.  





Gabriella





1 Thessalonians 5:17 "Pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you."

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

FAT Phobia - Part 3

In today's modern society, when most people think of "energy" or daily "fuel," carbs, sugar, and energy drinks all seem to come to mind. Yet if you were to also ask the same group of people how they were feeling at that given moment, it probably would be somewhere along the lines of tired, worn out, needing a nap, or just wanting some type of "pick me up" (usually in the form of a mocha or protein bar). While all of these things might seem like they do our bodies good for a moment, in reality, they are not doing half of the things we have been tricked into believing.  In today's post, I will discuss how our bodies use fat, and why they prefer this essential food group over carbohydrates any day. If you have just tuned into my FAT Phobia series, you can read parts 1 and 2 here and here

A Body Made for Fat


Morning fuel at its finest
Though it is true that glucose is essential for muscle and brain function, it does not necessarily need to be obtained through external dietary sources for our bodies to properly function.  In fact, we were not designed for a constant intake of carbs, as can be observed by our ancestors thousands of years ago who, before the beginning of civilization, obtained adequate amounts of natural carbs through seasonal fruit and vegetables.  However, these sources were not always available, as people merely stocked up on carbohydrates in the summer as a way to survive future famines and long, wintery months where food was limited, and if anything, mostly in fat and protein form.  This is in large contrast to today's world, where processed foods are not only continually made and consumed in excess amounts, but are also much higher in sugar and carbohydrates than any natural, whole foods source that our ancestors may have eaten hundreds to thousands of years ago.  
If hunter gatherers relied on their "four o'clock" snack to get them through the work day, or a "post-workout" shake to help them go out and hunt again, they would have been in major trouble.   In modern society, our bodies have come to fully rely on foods full of sugar and carbs, and are left feeling as though we are "starving" without them.  However, this is just one of the consequences from living in a grain-based, carb dependent world, and ultimately is making everyone into a "sugar burner."  Though this is great for industry and marketing sales, it is the last thing our bodies want to happen.  

Fat vs. Carbs 

Unlike fat, carbohydrates (in any form) are converted by the liver into glucose, which when entering the bloodstream, prompts the pancreas to produce insulin as a way to regulate how this blood sugar is utilized.  Our bodies naturally first use glucose as energy, with the excess being directed into our liver and muscles to be stored in the form of glycogen.  However, this storage space is very limited, and once maxed out, makes insulin receptors tired of trying to do their job, thus becoming "resistant" and pushing any incoming glucose into fat cells.  It is here that incoming calories (regardless of the type) become locked up and useless, and are otherwise known as triglycerides.  This hoarding component of fat initially caused by excess carbohydrate intake creates a variety of inevitable and (or) seemingly invisible issues such as weight gain, stubborn fat, damaged cell membranes, depleted and fatigued muscles, cravings, cramps, exhaustion, decrease in athletic performance, anxiety, eating disorders, and many diseases such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease.


Marksdailyapple.com
Breaking the Cycle 

When little is known about the word "keto," red flags are usually instantly sent off in one's minds.  However ketones, or a state of "ketosis" is not at all dangerous and should never be mistaken for "ketoacidosis." Ketones on the other hand, are our bodies preferred source of fuel that are made in the liver when glucose and blood insulin levels are low.  Before going on, I would like to point out that our bodies only need 150 grams of glucose to preform properly, which can be more than fulfilled through a nutrient rich diet of protein, veggies, and fruit.  In fact, once we get our bodies away from the lie that is "carb dependency," our requirements go down to only 50 grams, as ketones (an alternative fuel source) are produced by the body on its own (no protein shakes required).  One prime example of this process is our liver that, through gluconeogensis, is able to produce ample amounts of glucose without utilizing the bloodstream, via ingested fats (aka no blood sugar spike).  However, if glucose and insulin levels are high, the body is unable to create ketones, making them completely absent from the average American.  Instead, ketone production is suppressed, leaving individuals highly sensitive to having routine meal times and dietary fueling of carbohydrates. 
However, this is not the way our bodies were intended to run, but instead, where meant to be fat-adapted.  Being keto-adapted does not mean your body is in a state of constant hunger (as is the actual case for the standard American diet) but instead, able to burn ketones efficiently, cleanly, and without any stress or thought.  Not only does this state calm inflammation throughout the body, but ideal body weight is obtained, athletic performance and endurance is increased, and an overall state of well-being is obtained.  However, one can not simply become fat-adapted by restricting carb intake, as this only strips the body of lean muscle tissue, causes severe cravings, fatigue, and stress, due to the brain still believing it is lacking the necessary glucose and amino acid requirements to survive. Yet it takes only 21 days to break this sugar-burning cycle, none of which includes obsessive exercise or starvation dieting. 

Calling all Athletes 

As a prior athlete, I am well aware that carbs are viewed as one of the greatest ways to build muscle and preform stronger.  However, this dependency on carbs does the exact opposite of the two main things we are looking for; endurance and strength.  Relying on limited blood glucose and muscle glycogen stores leaves one without a sustainable energy source due to the body not having a large storage capacity.  Once these sources are depleted (which happens relatively quickly), an unhealthy need for dietary carbs ensues in order to restock the muscle and liver that has just been weakened and depleted.  Though you might like this "necessary" need for eating excessive amounts after a workout, you are ultimately doing your body the furthest thing from a favor, not building muscle, burning any fat (if wanted), or becoming the better athlete you were hoping for. A great example of glucose dependency would be a marathon runner who needs a mid-run snack to replenish glucose needs. It goes to show that chronic cardio eventually always leads to burnout, due to the high demand and stress on the body from not being able to correctly burn fat, causing high insulin, overall systemic inflammation, weight gain, and even the inability to "bulk up."  Learn more about slowing down and lifting heavy things here. 


Courtesy Marksdailyapple.com 


Never Ending Benefits 

However, when one is fat-adapted, they are no longer relying on glucose and glycogen stores for energy, enabling them to tap into fat cells for stable, long term energy and (if wanted) muscle retention.  There is no "low blood sugar" crashes, nor the need for the body to take amino acids from existing tissue, as it is already pre-programmed to create ketones when supplies are seemingly low. Instead of running on a treadmill like a hamster to get stronger and (or) lose unwanted fat, low intensity cardio, paired with high intensity sprint workouts is recommended for an ideal fat burning and a truly strong, healthy body inside and out. Another term for being keto or fat-adapted is what Mark Sisson has termed as being "primal."  This state of being promotes longevity by reducing cell division (the cause for cancer and other diseases), enhances cell repair, immune function, and optimized hormone production.  Instead of trying to "ramp up" your metabolism by excessive exercise, starvation or a low-fat diet, turning back to how we were created to function by thriving off of real, untainted, natural energy sources (via fat, protein, veggies, and fruits), provides our bodies and mind with an ideal state of health.
Fearing weight gain, chronic disease commonly associated with age, or any state of simply feeling undernourished and unsatisfied in this world, is not necessary.  Though it seems we are literally born with the statement that carbs are essential to living and "fat is the devil" sketched into our brains, conventional medicine could not have gotten it any further from the truth. By writing this three part series, I not only hope to take the fear of fat completely away from individuals, but also the unnecessary stress that comes with living in a world so industrialized and programmed into only doing what society "recommends." Living primal is all about being flexible in every aspect of life, as our ancestors did not have the same highly structured schedules as we do in today's modern world. Being smart and intuitive about your body, not buying into food and medicine lies, excelling in athleticism and studies, regaining your health that has really always been there, being stress free, and ultimately living a full and long life, is truly what being "primal" is all about.  Learn more about how what we were created to eat, move, and live here and here.





Gabriella




Proverbs 23:18 "There is surely a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off." 

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Chewy Cinnamon Sugar Cookies (AIP-friendly)


Between numerous allergies, having to follow a ketogenic diet, and being sensitive to FODMAPs, sometimes greens, greens, and more greens, along side a slab of protein simply becomes completely unappetizing.  Since being ill (or at least for me ) also includes feeling cruddy after anything you eat, one of my biggest goals is to just be able to eat vegetables and meat without any issues.  No reactions, flare ups, bloating, pain, itching, headaches, gas, leg swelling, or throat closure, none of it, zilch, nada, is that too much to ask? Though its been over 5 years since I've actually felt good after eating (regardless of the item) I do fully believe one day this will happen. However, in the meantime, I try and make food as interesting as possible by playing with the limited items that I can have (though they still never leave me feeling good).  



Today's recipe came of a place of utter frustration with eating.  I have not ever viewed food as evil, I have made sure of that, as this can easily cause an unhealthy relationship with it.  Instead, I change my taste buds, embraced what God has given me, and realize it is just one aspect of life that, though I cannot live without (sadly), is necessary.  If I am going to eat (and I do, everyday, every meal, regardless of the pain involved), I believe it should be worth it, or as I say "worth using my allergy card on."  Of course, everything I eat is paleo, as this is simply how I have eaten for years, plus it is now a must for part of the PK Protocol to heal my damaged cells.  
Going back a few years however, I began eating paleo as a way to cope with severe SIBO that came on from years of nerve damage in my small intestine (via untreated, Chronic Lyme).  Helpless and without any significant direction from any doctors, I searched the internet search engines high and low for ways (outside of antibiotics) to help rid myself of the ugly bacteria literally making bugs drop down and die when they flew near me (no joke.)  Eventually, I came across the Low-FODMAP approach, which after more extensive research and thought, was embraced head on, leading me to eat a "paleo" diet without even realizing it had a name.  My parents spend so much of their money, time, and energy trying to constantly help me make it through each day (and ultimately come to full healing), and for that I am incredibly blessed. Because of this, I see paleo eating as my contribution to the healing process by taking the initiative to regain health, regardless of the difficulty or odds.  



As I said earlier, between all my other daily health symptoms, eating can get monotonous.  In effort to try and "spice things up" I decided to try and make a cookie recipe that, in moderation, could fit into the low-carb diet I must follow. Green plantains were a must, as they are are full of prebiotics and relatively inoffensive.  Prebiotics, though not as well known as "probiotics," are extremely important in having a balanced GI track, as they are what our internal bacteria feed off of.  These indigestible agents are also known as "resistant starch," meaning they cannot be absorbed as glucose in the blood, avoiding the dreaded insulin spike and sugar crash.  In return, it actually fuels the production of a fatty acid called "butyrate," which is used to lower overall inflammation in the body.  All in all, resistant starch helps your gut become stronger, flushes away harmful microbes, while making you pleasantly satisfied in the process.   Interestingly enough, foods such as rice and potatoes actually turn into significant sources of resistant starch after they have cooled, as this allows for the carbohydrate structure to be altered, leaving them "resistant."  Green bananas and plantains however, are two of the easiest ways to get these helpful prebiotics without the incredible carb load.  
Though I used chicory root "Just Like Sugar" as a sweetener (due to not being able to have any type of sugar on the PK Protocol), I made the recipe for my family using granulated maple sugar.  However, I am sure coconut sugar would work just as well.  Any thick, saturated fat like coconut oil can also easily replace the non-hydrogenated palm shortening I use, however, this oil tends to be pretty non-offensive for my body as well.  I used water chestnut flour that I bought here, though I believe a more common paleo-friendly flour such as arrowroot, tapioca, or previously featured sweet potato flour would work also.  All in all, this recipe is free of nuts, coconut, grains, dairy, and eggs, yet somehow comes out exactly like a delicious, chewy cinnamon cookie.  First time making these, my plantain was more yellow than green, which made a moist, thinner cookie than the second batch using a completely green plantain (making it thicker and chewier).  Therefore, be aware that results may vary due to the ripeness of your plantain, and if you can't get your hands on any, I am sure green bananas would work great instead. For added pleasure, frosting the cookies with my strawberry "buttercream" recipe or a bit of melted coconut butter is delicious.   Regardless of if you struggle with your health or follow a specific "diet" I encourage you to try these, as I am sure they will leave you (and your stomach) smiling.  




Chewy Cinnamon Sugar Cookies

Print Recipe 
Ingredients
  • 1 greenish yellow plantain (7 oz without peel) 
  • 1/4 cup water chestnut flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • Pinch of salt
  • 3/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 3 tbsp room temperature non-hydrogenated palm shortening, lard, butter, or coconut oil 
  • 1/4 cup maple sugar or coconut sugar
Process 
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. 
  • Peel, chop, and place plantain into a food processor fitted with the "S" blade. *It is easiest to peel plantains at root temperature 
  • Allow machine to run until plantain begins to break down into a smooth paste.
  • Add baking soda, water chestnut flour, palm shortening, cinnamon, pinch of salt, baking soda, and granulated sweetener of choice, letting food processor run until everything is fully incorporated. 
  • Using a cookie scoop, dollop cookie dough onto lined baking sheet, flatten with the back of your scoop, and bake for 15-18 minutes. 
  • Remove from oven and let rest on baking sheet until cool enough to handle.


Enjoy!





Gabriella




Philippians 2:3-4 "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves,  not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others."

Friday, October 10, 2014

FAT Phobia - Part 2


Once you have come to terms that real fat is good for you (see Part 1), choosing which type to incorporate into daily life can seem even more confusing.  In FAT Phobia, Part 2, I will discuss the differences of various fats,  along with which ones we should emphasize and which ones to ignore.

Types of Fat

There are three types of fats; saturated, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated.  The difference between these fats has to do with their fatty acids - chains of carbon and hydrogen atoms attached to a carboxyl group.  Saturated fats are considered stable against damage, and therefore the healthiest for consumption, because all of their carbon bonds are occupied with a hydrogen. However, when a fatty acid chain has 1 double bond of carbons (carbon to carbon, not carbon to hydrogen), it is a bit less stable, and is called Monounsaturated.  Knowing that "mono" means one, makes it relatively easy to guess that Polyunsaturated refers to fatty acid chains that have two or more double carbon bonds.  This higher number of double bonds in polyunsaturated fats makes them extremely fragile and highly prone to damage, thus they should never be heated.





Saturated Vs. Unsaturated 

If all carbon and hydrogens are bonded (which is the case for saturated fats), the hydrocarbon chains are straight and compact, thus allowing the "fat" to be solid at room temperature.  However, when carbon double bonds occur (otherwise known as being mono or poly-unsaturated), there are kinks or "bends" in the overall structure making it "loose," or otherwise known as an "oil" product at room temperature. This is where the irony of butter substitutes such as margarine comes in, as they are originally vegetable oils that are then later chemically altered.  The photos below compare both an unsaturated and saturated bond.




Omega-What?

From polyunsaturated fats, there are two fatty acid categories that are essential for our body, meaning we can not get them anywhere else but from food.  Omega-3's, usually viewed as the "good guy" with anti-inflammatory benefits, get there name from having a double bond on the 3rd carbon in its fatty acid chain (hence the number "3").  Omega 6's have a double bond on the chain's 6th carbon atom, and are usually seen as the "bad" guy due to having lower anti-inflammatory benefits than omega-3's, coupled with their potential pro-inflammatory precursors.   However, omega-6's are only harmful when they are consumed in excess.  This is one of the reasons why the Standard American Diet is so harmful, as the omega 6: omega 3 ratio is much higher than the suggested 2-4:1 at a whopping 20-40:1.  Because the fatty acids from omega 6 and 3's are both constantly working on the same enzyme pathways to occupy our cells,  having a significantly higher omega 6 count raises inflammatory markers in the body, which then results in a plethora of serious health issues.  However, when there are enough omega-3's present in the body, inflammation is kept at a balance, resulting in overall wellness and protection against illness. Foods that contribute to omega-6 dominance in the body include all forms of processed oils, carbs, sugars, conventionally raised animals and dairy products (due to they themselves being omega-6 overloaded through a grain-based diet), and pretty much any other pre-packaged food.  Reversing too much omega-6 in the diet can not simply be fixed by increasing omega-3 intake, but rather by eliminating processed junk and replacing it with whole food sources.  

Trans or Hydrogenated? 

As I said before,  all polyunsaturated fats are naturally liquid at room temperature.  Because of this, trans or hydrogenated products should clearly send off warning signals in our minds.  Partially hydrogenated oils are made when through the process of hydrogenation (when an unsaturated fat is put under extreme, pressurized heat, and mixed with toxic metallic solvents), which then alters the chemical structure into a saturated fat (i.e. solid at room temperature). Trans fats are the chemically altered by-products that occur during the process of hydrogenation, and also can easily be oxidized, resulting in free radical chain reactions in the body when ingested. They get there name from the change in normal "cis" structure of the fat into "trans" form.   Though hydrogenated products have a longer shelf life, consuming their changed molecular structure causes immediate and direct adverse chemical reactions in our cell membranes, which lead to systemic inflammation, a dysfunctional immune system, obesity (due to inability to metabolize fat), and many other disease and illnesses (including heart disease, cancer, diabetes, etc...). Because the awareness of partially hydrogenated trans fats is spreading, the industry has created a "new" chemically altered oil known as "interesterified."  Essentially, this product is just as harmful as its "trans" and "hydrogenated" cousins. Sources of trans/hydrogenated oils include all vegetable oils, margarine, shortening, and all the foods that are cooked and (or) fried in these products such as fast food, packaged/processed items, baked goods, doughnuts, etc...


Things to Remember
  • Saturated fats are naturally solid at room temperature, while unsaturated are liquid at room temperature and thus called "oil."
  • There are 3 types of fats: Saturated, Monounsaturated, Polyunsaturated.
  • Saturated fats are the most stable making them suitable for high heat cooking.
  • Monounsaturated oils are less stable and thus should be reserved for moderate to low temperatures.
  • Polyunsaturated oils are incredibly fragile and should never be heated, as this changes them into literal poison (i.e vegetable oils; canola, safflower, soybean, cottonseed, sunflower, etc...)
  • Omega 3 and 6's are fatty acids derived from polyunsaturated fats. 
  • Omega 6's are only harmful when the body encounters excess amounts (as is the case for all processed foods and oils.)
  • Adequate amounts of omega 3's can be easily met by eating oily, cold water fish.
  • Chemically made trans/partially hydrogenated oils are extremely detrimental to the body and should be avoided at all costs. 






Gabriella




1 Corinthians 2:9 "As it is written 'No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him."