Tag Archives: Healthy

The Great Oil Debate

Coco vs Olive 1

Coconut Oil or Olive Oil

Which is better? Is there a ‘better’? What is the difference?

The 1st course in my Holistic Nutrition program focused on the fundamentals of nutrition … you know, the basics … Carbohydrates, Proteins, Fats, Vitamins and Minerals.

Simple enough … or is it?

For me, yes – simple enough. I am intellectually driven by Science and Math (nailed Course 1 with 93.25%). But if there is any History involved, you can count on me falling asleep!

So let’s look at a bit of the Fundamentals of Fats!

Fats are molecules composed of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen. Fats can come from animal and plant sources and are insoluble in water.

The structure of fats is where some people get a little sideways … fats are made up of fatty acid chains, which is further detailed as being made up of a methyl (alcohol) group, a carbon chain, and an acid group. Clear as mud!?

We then go further into the kinds of fatty acids … saturated and unsaturated.

I found the easiest way to understand, and explain to non-nutrition-studying individuals, is that saturated fatty acids are hard (think coconut oil or butter) and unsaturated fatty acids are liquid (think olive oil or avocado oil).

Saturated fatty acids can be either short-chain or long-chain and unsaturated fatty acids can be monounsaturated or polyunsaturated … I’m not going to get into the science of these differences.

Short-chain saturated fatty acids are readily burned as fuel – they raise your metabolic rate. Long-chain saturated fatty acids are stored long-term for fuel and can help maintain you blood sugar levels.

Mono- and poly- unsaturated fatty acids help keep your arteries flexible, lubricate your skin and have been shown to improve brain function!

So fats are good, right?

Well, yes … in the right amounts! Too much of anything isn’t good.

Too much fat can lead to fat storage and build-up in your circulatory system and organs of the body. However, too little fat can cause decreased levels of energy, depression and more!

Back to the main point of this post … coconut oil vs. olive oil … is one ‘better’ than the other?

Let’s start with solid vs. liquid – should be easy!

One of my questions in class was “coconut oil is sometimes liquid at (summer) room temperature … does that mean it’s unsaturated?” and the answer was NO.

Both coconut oil and olive oil consist of percentages of saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids.

Olive oil has 82% monounsaturated and 8% polyunsaturated (liquid) and 10% saturated (solid) attributes; whereas coconut oil has 92% saturated (solid) and 6% monounsaturated and 2% polyunsaturated (liquid) attributes.

So since coconut oil has a greater saturated fatty acid content, it is solid at (normal) room temperature and is considered saturated.

Unsaturated fatty acids (again, think olive oil) are liquid at room temperature. Their natural chemical structure keeps them liquid at room temperature. We’ve all used olive oil to cook … be it in a pan to saute, used to toss veggies before roasting, or in a baking recipe. Sadly, this is the WORST thing you can do with olive oil!

When you add heat and hydrogen (naturally through exposure to air) to olive oil, you cause the chemical structure to change. The olive oil changes from an unsaturated fatty acid to an unsaturated trans fatty acid.

Although trans fats are edible, they are not used by the body. Trans fats will cause an increased risk of coronary artery disease and could be linked to Alzheimer’s Disease, cancer, and infertility in women (to list a few)!

Saturated fatty acids (again, think coconut oil) are hard at room temperature. In most cases you will need to soften them to make them usable.

When you add heat and hydrogen to a saturated fatty acid, you take it from one large saturated fatty acid “blob” and break it down into smaller saturated fatty acids “blobs”. Even though it’s now liquid, it remains saturated. You have simply broken apart the “blobs” but you haven’t changed the chemical structure of the saturated fatty acid.

Coco vs Olive 2

Does this all make sense?

Coconut oil can be heated without causing a chemical change … without it turning into trans fat. You should be using coconut oil when cooking, baking, or adding heat of any sort.

Olive oil will chemically change when heated … changing it to a trans fat. You should use olive oil (specifically extra virgin – the highest quality) for salad dressings, added to the end of cooking (after heat removed) for a burst of flavor, or as a dip for breads.

Also, see the ‘advertising’ on the olive oil bottle in the picture above? It actually advising “for sauteing and grilling”! OMG no! That’s crazy!

I recently noticed many nutrition-driven individuals on social media using olive oil for heat-based cooking … but after doing a bit of research on said individuals, it turns out they are simply foodies and not trained nutritionist – phew! They don’t know any better!

Remember my disclaimer: The materials and content within this blog are intended as general information only, and are not to be considered a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

 

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Supplements – A Comparison of Brands

Ever wonder if you are getting enough vitamins and minerals to sustain basic body function, let alone excelling your health?

In my Holistic Nutrition course, we’ve recently learned about vitamins and minerals, and about the RDI (recommended dietary intake) and RDA (recommended daily allowance) and it got me to thinking …

Do I nourish my body with what I eat or am I lacking?

Lately I’m lacking because I’ve been feeling a little ‘under the weather’ and even took some days off work this week to rest my body.

I am currently using a meal-replacement nutrition system that has been fundamental in kick-starting my AMAZING weight-loss journey … can you say 31 pounds in 4 1/2 months!?

And I recently starting using a supplement system that I earned through my essential oil company (why not – it was free!).

But then I remembered that the company from whom I get my shakes and cleanse products, also has supplements …

So which is better … Isagenix Complete Essentials or doTerra Lifelong Vitality? For ease of specification in my review, I’ll review to Isagenix Complete Essentials as “CE” and doTerra Lifelong Vitality as “LLV”.

Here’s what I found …

LLV’s full dose is 4 capsules each of 3 supplements:

  1. xEO Mega
  2. Alpha CRS+
  3. Microplex VMz

The ‘xEO Mega’ is the essential oil Omega complex (think Omega 3 and Omega 6 essential fatty acids). The ideal RDI/RDA of Omegas (EPA & DHA) is 1,000 mg (combined). The ‘xEO Mega’ dose of 4 capsules contains 300 mg of each EPA & DHA. So not bad, but more would be better (side note: it’s also better to have more EPA than DHA).

The ‘xEO Mega’ also contains other forms of essential fatty acids, an essential oil blend, and enough of Vitamin A, Vitamin D, and Vitamin E to satisfy the minimum RDI/RDA amounts.

The ‘Alpha CRS+’ is the cellular vitality complex (think healthy functioning DNA, cells, brain). Four capsules of ‘Alpha CRS+’ will give your body a great blend of supplements, all of which are not regulated for RDI/RDA, but would be SUPER beneficial for your health.

Some of the contents are Turmeric Root extract (anti-inflammatory), Green Tea Leaf extract (anti-oxidant), and Acetyl-L-Carnitine (neuro-protectant).

The ‘Microplex VMz’ supplement is where the main focus is today. This is the food nutrient complex (think vitamins and minerals). Taking 4 capsules of ‘Microplex VMz’ will provide your body with more than 100% of your RDI/RDA of all vitamins, except for Vitamin K and Choline.

Where this (and many) supplements lack is on the mineral side. Taking 4 capsules of ‘Microplex VMz’ will provide your body with more than 100% of Chromium, Selenium, and Zinc. You will receive 0% of Chlorine, Molybdenum, Phosphorus, Potassium, Sodium, and Sulfur; and you will received around 50% or less of Calcium, Copper, Iodine, Iron, Magnesium, and Manganese.

So on a very-basic-math side, taking the recommended 4 capsules daily of each of these 3 supplements, you will provide your body with an overall-average of 48.66% RDI/RDA of vitamins and minerals.

This is great, especially if you eat crappy food all day, e’ry day!

Now let’s looks at CE:

CE’s full dose is 2 packs of supplements – one pack in the AM and one pack in the PM. This is great because your doses are already separated and prepared for you … no fuss, no muss trying to sort out what you need from 3 different bottles of capsules. Just grab an AM pack and done; grab a PM pack and done!

Taking the full dose (AM pack and PM pack) of CE will provide your body with more than 100% of your RDI/RDA of all vitamins, except for Vitamin D, Vitamin K and Choline.

Looking at the mineral-side, taking the full dose will provide your body with more than 100% of Chromium, Copper, Iodine, Manganese, Selenium, and Zinc. You will receive 0% of Chlorine, Iron, Molybdenum, Phosphorus, Potassium, Sodium, and Sulfur; and you will received 65% – 90% of Calcium and Magnesium.

Again, on a very-basic-math side, taking the recommended AM & PM pack daily, you will provide your body with an overall-average of 88.95% RDI/RDA of vitamins and minerals.

WHAT A DIFFERENCE! It really comes down to a breakdown of how much of what vitamin and mineral you are getting …

  • Vitamin A (RDA 2,330 IU) … LLV = 9,000 IU (386%) … CE = 5,000 IU (215%)
  • Vitamin D (RDA 500 IU) … LLV = 800 IU (320%) … CE = 200 IU (40%)
  • Vitamin E (RDA 22.5 IU) … LLV = 110 IU (489%) … CE = 60 IU (267%)
  • Vitamin K (RDA 90 mcg) … LLV = 20 mcg (22%) … CE = 80 mcg (89%)
  • Vitamin B1 (RDA 1.1 mg) … LLV = 3 mg (273%) … CE = 7.5 mg (682%)
  • Vitamin B2 (RDA 1.1 mg) … LLV = 3 mg (275%) … CE = 8.5 mg (773%)
  • Vitamin B3 (RDA 14 mg) … LLV = 20 mg (143%) … CE = 20 mg (143%)
  • Vitamin B5 (RDA 5 mg) … LLV = 10 mg (200%) … CE = 45 mg (900%)
  • Vitamin B6 (RDA 1.3 mg) … LLV = 3 mg (231%) … CE = 10 mg (769%)
  • Folate (RDA 400 mcg) … LLV = 400 mcg (100%) … CE = 600 mcg (150%)
  • Vitamin B12 (RDA 2.4 mcg) … LLV = 10 mcg (417%) … CE = 30 mcg (1,250%)
  • Biotin (RDA 30 mcg) … LLV = 300 mcg (1,000%) … CE = 500 mcg (1,667%)
  • Choline (RDA 425 mg) … LLV = 0 mcg (0%) … CE = 0 mg (0%)
  • Vitamin C (RDA 75 mg) … LLV = 200 mg (267%) … CE = 120 mg (160%)

So again, each provides benefits. But you have to also factor in your actual diet … are you getting enough vitamins and minerals from actual FOOD? Likely not given the amount of vitamin & mineral loss from when produce is picked, transported, sold, then finally used by us. Even if you buy organic, you’re losing nutrients in the picking, transporting and shelf-time.

Best option for food is to buy LOCAL ORGANIC … like literally GO PICK YOURSELF and then you’ll be guaranteed to get the BEST BANG FOR YOUR BUCK!

But if you have to / want to supplement, hopefully this provides you with a bit of ‘food for thought’!

*I have not used CE yet … it’s on my “to buy” list for when I finish LLV
*RDAs listed are for an average ‘healthy’ female
*I represent both Isagenix and doTerra, so this is an unbiased review … but if you want to order from either or both (many other products from both), please reach out to me!
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Avocado Fudge

Happy (Canadian) Thanksgiving!!!

It was such a treat to have a 3-day weekend … and to add awesome to that, our instructor postponed our test! It was supposed to be tomorrow, but we still have a TON to learn about Fats, so now we have until Thursday!

This let me get some bookkeeping done with weekend, and a bit of recipe testing, too!

I made my Mom’s Chocolate Chip Cookies, but swapped the regular white sugar for coconut sugar, and swapped the margarine for butter … meh – they are NOT the same!

I also made some Coconut Bars, but instead of bars, I used a mini muffin tin, so I have Coconut Bites! The original recipe calls for strawberry protein powder, but I swapped for the seasonal release of Chocolate Mint. These turned out AWESOME!

Today I tried out an Avocado Fudge recipe. The original calls for 4 scoops vanilla protein powder, but I wanted to try it with our seasonal release of Pumpkin Spice! So I swapped 3 scoops for PS and used 1 scoop vanilla.

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The full recipe was a MAJOR test for my food processor. It made the motor REALLY smell! So next time, will opt for making 2 half batches instead.

Also, the ingredients call for honey, but the recipe didn’t indicate WHERE to add it! So I completely forgot it!! Was a wee bit concerned how sweet these brownies would be, but was delighted that they taste GREAT!

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Ingredients:

  • 2 large avocados, pitted & peeled
  • 4 scoops vanilla protein powder
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder, unsweetened
  • 1/8 tsp sea salt
  • 2 1/2 cups walnuts
  • 1 1/2 cups dates, pitted and chopped
  • 3 tsp honey

Instructions:

  1. Add the avocado through salt (let’s say through honey!) to food processor and process until a smooth consistency is reached
  2. Add 1 cup of walnuts and 1 cup of dates; process until smooth
  3. Add 1 cup of walnuts and remaining dates; process until smooth
  4. Add remaining walnuts and pulse to combine
  5. Prepare 8 x 8 baking pan with parchment paper; fill with mixture
  6. Press firmly with back of spoon; freeze for at least 3 hours (putting in the fridge isn’t enough – needs freezer)
  7. Remove from pan and slice into desired size pieces (I opted for 4 x 6 = 24 pieces)

Will I make this recipe again – yes, ABSOLUTELY!!!

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Luxurious Tomato Basil Pasta

Today I did my very first Facebook Live! I was a bit nervous, but when you’re talking about a subject that you’re passionate about, it just comes easy!

The FB Live was me preparing a recipe … Luxurious Tomato Basil Pasta from the Oh She Glows Cookbook by Angela Liddon!

Here is the recipe:

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup raw cashews
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened, unflavored almond milk (I used cashew milk)
  • 9 oz uncooked pasta (I used Fusilli)
  • 1 tsp EVOO
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 cups diced tomatoes, drained
  • 3 handfuls spinach
  • 3 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1 cup fresh basil, finely chopped
  • 3 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper

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Directions:

  1. Soak cashews for minimum 2 hours, then drain and rinse. Add cashews and milk to blender and blend until smooth
  2. Cook pasta, according to instructions, to al dente
  3. In large skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and saute until translucent.
  4. Add tomatoes and spinach and cook until spinach is wilted
  5. Stir in cashew cream through pepper and cook until heated through
  6. Add pasta to skillet and mix
  7. Enjoy!

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Tip: if at any point the sauce or pasta dries out, stir in a splash of almond/cashew milk (I anticipate this for the leftovers).

After a quick taste, I have to say … this is one delicious dish! I can’t wait for lunch tomorrow and Tuesday! Will absolutely be adding this recipe to my collection of go-to’s!

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Break Up the Monotony!

Cardio … not feeling it? Then it’s time to break up the monotony!

Doing the same old cardio workout can not only leave you bored and unmotivated, but the combo of routine and less enjoyment during aerobic exercise could also lead to a lack of results and fewer calories burned.

Mix things up to avoid the cardio rut. By keeping things fresh, you can improve workout enjoyment while engaging a new set of muscles. You certainly don’t want to avoid cardio altogether.

As a reminder, there’s strong scientific evidence that regular aerobic physical activity comes with some pretty impressive benefits:

  • Supporting healthy weight loss. Combined with a nutritious and calorie controlled diet, aerobic exercise can help you lose weight and keep it off (1).
  • Improving cardiovascular health. About 40 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic exercise three to four times a week can lower the risk for heart disease and stroke (2, 3).
  • Boosting your mood. Whether you’re in the mood for a workout or not, mounting evidence suggests that you will feel better after you’ve finished one (4).
  • Keeping you active as you age. Regular aerobic exercise paired with good nutrition and resistance training can keep your muscles strong and mobile as you age while supporting healthy cognitive function (5).
  • Supporting immune health. Not only does regular aerobic exercise make you feel better physically, but studies have also shown that it can help support healthy immune function for better long-term health (6).
  • Improving quality of sleep. Aerobic exercise has been shown to promote better quality sleep and the speed in which you fall into REM sleep (7).
  • Increasing your overall energy levels. Regular aerobic exercise helps keep your overall energy levels higher. It’s the release of endorphins during your workout that supports lasting energy throughout your day (8).

But despite the many benefits of cardio, it shouldn’t mean you have to suffer for hours doing an activity you don’t like. There are a number of cardio machine alternatives that can add some variety to your routine while still helping you burn about the same amount of calories as 30 minutes of running on the treadmill (around 300 calories for a 150-pound woman). These include…

60 minutes of…

  • Circuit training – a style of weight training that incorporates aerobic activity
  • Taking a dance, Zumba, or jazzercise class
  • Playing in a softball game
  • Boxing

45 minutes of…

  • Rowing
  • Hiking
  • Swimming laps
  • Playing in a soccer game
  • Playing tennis

40 minutes of…

  • High-intensity interval training
  • Ultimate Frisbee
  • Playing flag football

30 minutes of…

  • Jumping rope
  • Taking a kickboxing class
  • Taking a spin class or bicycling outdoors

If you haven’t been regularly exercising, are overweight or have medical conditions, don’t forget to check in with your medical care provider before starting any exercise routine.

These are just a few ideas to help you get off the cardio rut. The key is in finding ways to achieve your goals while making aerobic exercise a lot more fun.

References
  1. Curioni CC, Lourenço PM. Long-term weight loss after diet and exercise: a systematic review. International Journal of Obesity (2005) 29, 1168–1174. doi:10.1038/sj.ijo.0803015; published online 31 May 2005
  2. American Heart Association. (2013). American Heart Association recommendations for physical activity in adults. American Heart Association. http://www. heart. org/HEARTORG/GettingHealthy/PhysicalActivity/Start Walking/American-Heart-Association-Guidelines_UCM_307976_Article. jsp.
  3. Fletcher GF, Balady G, Blair SN, Blumenthal J, Caspersen C, Chaitman B, Epstein S, Sivarajan Froelicher ES, Froelicher VF, Pina IL, Pollock ML. Statement on exercise: benefits and recommendations for physical activity programs for all Americans. A statement for health professionals by the Committee on Exercise and Cardiac Rehabilitation of the Council on Clinical Cardiology, American Heart Association. Circulation. 1996 Aug 15;94(4):857-62. PMID: 8772712
  4. Byrne A, Byrne DG. The effect of exercise on depression, anxiety and other mood states: A review. Journal of Psychosomatic Research , Volume 37 , Issue 6 , 565 – 574
  5. Hyodo K, Dan I, Kyutoku Y, Suwabe K, Byun K, Ochi G, Kato M & Soya H. The association between aerobic fitness and cognitive function in older men mediated by frontal lateralization. Neuroimage. 2016 Jan 15; 125:291-300.
  6. Gleeson M. Immune function in sport and exercise. Journal of Applied Physiology Published 1 August 2007 Vol. 103 no. 2, 693-699 DOI: 10.1152/japplphysiol.00008.2007
  7. Kredlow MA, Capozzoli MC, Hearon BA, Calkins AW, Otto MW. The effects of physical activity on sleep: a meta-analytic review. J Behav Med. 2015 Jun;38(3):427-49. doi: 10.1007/s10865-015-9617-6. Epub 2015 Jan 18.
  8. Puetz TW, Flowers SS, O’Connor PJ. A randomized controlled trial of the effect of aerobic exercise training on feelings of energy and fatigue in sedentary young adults with persistent fatigue. Psychother Psychosom. 2008;77(3):167-74. doi: 10.1159/000116610. Epub 2008 Feb 14.
*originally posted on IsagenixHealth.com
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Exercise for Weight Loss

Changing your dietary habits is the most important action you can take for losing weight and keeping it off. However, exercise shouldn’t be ignored as it can make weight-loss results more pronounced.

Typically, when individuals lose weight, up to a quarter of that lost weight comes from lost lean body mass that includes muscle mass (1). By adding exercise into a weight loss plan, these individuals can minimize the muscle loss and lose higher amounts of fat than those who lose the same amount of weight without exercise.

Exercise also might help with keeping off the weight once it’s lost. As much of an hour of exercise per day is associated with successful weight loss maintenance or avoiding weight regain (2).

Add High-Intensity Interval Training

One type of exercise that may have especially pronounced benefits is high-intensity interval training. Try adding sprint intervals into your next jog by including 60-second bursts at an all-out pace followed by three minutes of recovery at a comfortable pace.

By adding high-intensity intervals to your exercise routine, you can stimulate your metabolism for up to 24-hours, post-exercise. These brief, all-out bursts of activity rev up your calorie burn and keep it elevated long after your workout ends.

Lift Weights or Use Resistance Bands

Resistance training exercises can help build muscle and burn fat. Muscle is more metabolically active than fat, so your overall calorie burn will be higher throughout the day and the drop in metabolism that comes with most weight loss will be prevented. You’ll also look leaner if you have more muscle and less fat.

Start with two or three sets of 10-12 repetitions of bicep curls, overhead presses, squats, and lunges using light weights until your body has adapted and you become comfortable. Then increase the weight and number of repetitions as you get stronger.

Don’t Forget the Cardio

While most cardiovascular exercise (walking, running, cycling, etc.) will not build muscle, it will help you to burn calories and lose fat mass. Cardio itself burns calories and those trying to lose weight and who include cardio into their plan lose more weight compared to those who don’t include exercise (3).

In addition, studies have demonstrated that those who perform cardio are more likely to lose visceral fat (4, 5). Visceral fat is the dangerous kind of “belly fat” that exists internally and can increase risk of chronic disease states (4,5).

Reduce Your Chance of Weight Regain

Most people who lose weight regain it all back and then some within three -to -five years, but regular exercise makes it more likely that you’ll maintain your ideal weight.

According to the American College of Sports Medicine, those with a goal of preventing weight regain should complete 150-250 minutes per week of moderate physical activity – such as brisk walking, mowing the lawn, and swimming (6). The overall calorie burn should be between 1200-2000 calories per week, which is considered enough to prevent weight gain greater than 3 percent.

Incorporating exercise into your lifestyle will not only contribute to benefits in your overall health, but will aid in your weight loss journey as well. However, it’s always suggested that you check with your doctor before starting any type of exercise regimen.

References:
  1. Heymsfield SB, Gonzalez MCC, Shen W, Redman L, and Thomas D. Weight loss composition is one-fourth fat-free mass: a critical review and critique of this widely cited rule. Obes Rev. 2014 Apr; 15(4): 310-21. doi: 1111/obr.12143.
  2. Santos I, Vierira PN, Silva MN, Sardinha LB, and Teixeira PJ. Weight control behaviors of highly successful weight loss maintainers: the Portuguese Weight Control Registry. J Behav Med. 2017 Apr; 40(2): 366-71. doi: 1007/s10865-016-9786-y.
  3. Wu T, Gao X, Chen M, and Van Dam RM. Long-term effectiveness of diet-plus-exercise interventions vs. diet-only interventions for weight loss: a meta-analysis. Obes Rev. 2009 May; 10(3): 313-323. doi: 1111/j.1467-789X.2008.00547.x.
  4. Keating SE, Hackett, DA, Parker HM, O’Connor HT, Gerofi JA, Sainsbury A, Baker MK, Chuter VH, Caterson ID, George J, and Johnson NA. Effect of aerobic exercise training dose on liver fat and visceral adiposity. J Hepatol. 2015 Jul; 63(1): 174-82. doi: 1016/j.jhep.2015.02.022.
  5. Ohkawara K, Tanaka S, Miyachi M, Ishikawa-Takata K, and Tabata I. A dose-response relation between aerobic exercise and visceral fat reduction: systematic review of clinical trials. Int J Obes. 2007 Dec 1: 31(12): 1786.
  6. Donnelly JE, Blair SN, Jakicic JM, Manore MM, Rankin JW, and Smith BK. American College of Sports Medicine Position Stand. Appropriate physical activity intervention strategies for weight loss and prevention of weight regain for adults. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2009 Feb; 41(2): 459-71. doi: 10.1249/MSS.0b013e3181949333.
*originally posted on IsagenixHealth.com
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Transformation Tuesday … Work in Progress

Ever had a weight-loss goal? My goal is lofty … I want to lose upwards of 100 pounds.

For YEARS, I’ve had a shake for breakfast … trying different brands and flavors, but never really noticing any health benefits or changes, and feeling hungry by mid-morning, with those never-ending afternoon sugar-cravings!

EVERYTHING changed when I finally had enough! Enough uncomfortably tight clothes, enough self-doubt, and enough struggling! I decided to dive in with this nutritional system to boost my confidence and ignite some weight-loss.

With the full support and encouragement of a long-time high school friend, I embarked on this 30-day journey. And honestly, I didn’t have high hopes given my past “results” with other programs.

I snapped some “before” pictures, wearing a workout outfit that I felt good in, hopped on the scale to find out my starting weight, took my measurements … and in true Shannon form, I created a Fitness Tracking spreadsheet!

Every morning I weighed myself. Some may not agree with that, but it helps keep me accountable. And a surprising revelation was the number on the scale … it was going DOWN!

I hadn’t changed my normal amount of exercise – I still took the bus to and from work every day, and enjoyed being home most evenings and weekends – I simply followed the system, as best I could, which allowed me to still socialize and enjoy life.

After I completed my first month, I weighed and measured. Seven pounds and 6 ½ inches … in 30 DAYS! OMG – this system WORKS! I annihilated over 6% of my weight-loss goal IN THE FIRST MONTH!!! I knew I had to keep going!

The second month was different, however. I had 5 days of vacation right smack-dab in the middle. I knew I wouldn’t be 100% with the program during this time, but did what I could to keep the motivation train on the track. At the end of the month, I checked in and realized I obliterated another 9.2 pounds and 14 more inches!

I’ve incorporated this simple system into my lifestyle, enjoyed my vacation, and I KEEP SEEING RESULTS! I’ve lost a total of 16.2 pounds and a whopping 20 ½ inches … and I’m NOT done yet!

My ultimate goal is to maintain a healthy weight for a minimum of 2 years prior to my 40th birthday … giving me just over 2 ½ years to reach that goal.

If you can relate to any of this, are feeling stuck or just curious to know more I’d love to share. If you can’t already tell I’m pretty thrilled!

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Inspired Creations

Clearly I have not been very diligent with writing blog posts, recipes tests, or anything on here! So much has happened since the last time we “met” …

First off, it’s March … so we’ve by-passed February completely! In missing February, I can’t recall anything of great importance that happened.

Except my birthday :o) my 35th birthday, to be exact! I love my birthday and this year was great! I had multiple lunch dates (obvi not on the same day!) and was able to celebrate during the evening of the specific date with a group of friends & coworkers!

At the very beginning of February, I was accepted into the Diploma Program in Applied Holistic Nutrition at The Institute of Holistic Nutrition! I chose the part-time evening program, as I cannot afford to quit my job to attend school, so I will be attending class Monday and Thursday evenings from 6:00 pm – 9:30 pm for a 2 year period! I am beyond exciting to get this started … which isn’t until September!

Luckily, that time is going to be well spent re-doing, arranging, and organizing a new office/work space at home, as well as doing as much bookkeeping as possible to help pay for this program!

One thing I didn’t have much of in February was inspiration or the desire to cook. It’s kind of weird how it ebbs and flows! March has been a bit different because I’ve been following more people on Instagram, through my GonaGetHealthy account, and found some great Instagram Stories and links for recipes!

The first one that caught my eye was the Creamy Spinach Sweet Potato Noodles with Cashew Sauce as shown on the Instagram account and the website of Pinch of Yum!

It looked easy to make, with simple ingredients, and turned out really flipping delicious!

Creamy Spinach Sweet Potato Noodles with Cashew Sauce

I was previously displaying my kitchen & cooking skills on Snapchat, but since it’s more of a personal account, I decided to move my health, food, and cooking trials to Instagram, and this recipe was the first that I did using Instagram Stories.

I had many people watch the story, and even a few friends & co-workers comment or ask questions in person! I think I’ve convinced a few people to go out and buy a spiralizer … they are affordable and can make “noodles” out of so many vegetables!! I have many in mind that I plan on trying out in the coming days/weeks/months as spring arrives and local produce becomes more readily available!

This morning while I was procrastinating the start of bookkeeping (which I’m still procrastinating on), I saw an Instagram Story via the Vital Proteins account, on which Kelsey of Little Bits Of was making her Vanilla Shortbread Energy Balls!

Again, this recipe looked SO SIMPLE with easy ingredients! I did have to hit up the health store for a couple of items, but that was on my list of chores for the day anyways!

While I was shopping, I did a bit of research (thank you awesome cell phone data plan!!) regarding buying almond flour vs. buying almonds and making flour …

The ~400 gram bag of Bob’s Red Mill Almond Flour retailed at this store for $18.99, and from what I could tell, was not derived from organic almonds.

Whereas I bought 300 grams of organic raw almonds and simply put them in my Vitamix dry container to make flour! This amount of almonds retailed for just less than $15.00 and they were ORGANIC! So not really any question of which to use or if I made the right choice!

Vanilla Shortbread Energy Balls

These bites came together very nicely and taste fabulous! Definitely a recipe to go into my collection to be made again and again!

If you know of anyone on Instagram or who has a great website, whom you feel I should check out and/or follow, or if you come across any amazing recipes that you think I should test, please comment below, or send me an email with the details!

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Cookie Craving Conundrum

craving

noun crav·ing \ˈkrā-viŋ\

Definition of craving

  • an intense, urgent, or abnormal desire or longing

012917

I woke up this morning with a craving for oatmeal raisin cookies! But I also knew I needed to get some work done to pad my bank account to pay for college … to which I have my Admissions Interview on Tuesday! Fingers crossed!!!

So in between work, I brought up the websites of some of my favorite health/nutrition mentors:

After reading oatmeal cookie recipes on their sites, I settled on the Gluten-Free Vegan Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies from Meghan’s website. I quickly jotted down the ingredients and figured I needed to hit up my local health food store for the necessary flours and coconut sugar.

I did stop by Safeway on my way to the health food store to see if they carried the ingredients and if so, what was the price point. (Un)luckily, Safeway did not carry the flours or sugar … so one more block to walk!

At the health food store, I was able to easily locate the buckwheat and brown rice flours … and it made me think I might have some at home … but I wasn’t willing to walk home to check! So I grabbed one of each, plus a bag of coconut sugar – something I hadn’t cooked/baked with before. (As it turns out, I did have both buckwheat and brown rice flour at home, but they’d been open and unused for so long, that I felt it was better to toss them and start fresh!)

I had included eggs on my grocery list, but thought I should try to follow the base of the recipe as best possible, which means using “chia paste” instead of egg (also – to keep it vegan!) … so no eggs made it into my basket.

I’m very thankful that all of Meghan’s recipes that I’ve attempted thus far have been very clear and easy to follow. In order to make the chia paste, I needed to grind some chia seeds … and I thought of 3 different “appliances” to make this happen:

  1. Electric spice grinder
  2. Mortar & pestle
  3. Vitamix dry container

Starting with the quickest and easiest … the electric spice grinder (a coffee grinder … but I don’t drink coffee, so it’s never had coffee beans in it). This tool was perfect! It took literally seconds and voila! the chia seeds were now a chia powder!

Mixing the powder with warm water quickly created the chia paste and again – it pasted up in mere seconds!

When making this recipe, I followed the base recipe (wet & dry ingredients) but was VERY skeptical as the recipe called for 1/2 cup coconut oil, softened! HALF A CUP!!! Holy Hannah!

The changes I made were:

  • Raisins instead of chocolate chips
  • Walnuts instead of pecans
  • Cornstarch instead of arrowroot starch
  • Baked 11 minutes in stead of 15 minutes

After the wet ingredients were added to the dry and thoroughly combined, I was still skeptical as the “batter” was very oily …

I scooped out 5 cookies and spaced them well apart on the parchment-lined baking tray … in case they decided to become 1 cookie! I was very pleased to see the cookies completely held their shape and didn’t spread AT ALL!

I was able to fit the rest of the batter, shaped into cookie balls, on the second tray, so not to take too long with multiple batches.

These cookies have great sweetness, but not overly sweet. The coconut sugar definitely has a different smell/taste/texture than regular granular sugar, but it’s so enjoyable!

I’ve changed the color below to show my changes:

Ingredients
  • ½ cup coconut oil, melted
  • ½ cup coconut sugar
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 serving chia paste*
  • ½ cup brown rice flour
  • ¼ buckwheat flour
  • 1 cup oats
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch
  • ¼ tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ½ cup raisins
  • ¼ cup chopped walnuts

*Chia Paste – 1 tbsp chia seeds, ground … mixed with ¼ cup warm water (now, 1 tbsp of chia seeds yields more than 1 tbsp when ground … I only used 1 tbsp of the ground chia seeds … not sure if that was right, or if I should have used the whole amount of ground seeds!)

Make It Like So

  1. Preheat oven to 350
  2. Mix together coconut oil, coconut sugar, maple syrup, vanilla and chia paste
  3. In a separate bowl, mix flours, oats, baking soda, salt, raisins & walnuts
  4. Add wet into dry and stir until combined
  5. Using 1-2 tbsp of mixture, form into balls and flattery slightly and place in parchment lined cookie sheet
  6. Bake for about 10 – 11 minutes, until golden
05-oatmeal-raisin-walnut-cookies

The rest of the day was pretty lazy … for the whole household …

waszabi-baunzai-january-29-2017

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Cashew No-Cheese Sauce

I have a co-worker who, many times, said how she isn’t a good cook. She doesn’t feel confident in the kitchen and most recipes intimidate her.

She is Celiac, and also has allergies to soy and almonds (?) … plus her husband is a “meat and potatoes” kind of dinner eater! LOL

I often think of her when I find easy DELICIOUS recipes … and I’ve started to pass them on to her. The first was the Takeaway Taco Salad recipe from The Un-Diet Cookbook by Meghan Telpner.

I wasn’t surprised when she came to work and told me that she made it, how easy it was, how DELICIOUS it was, and that her husband liked it (it has no meat)! He has even stopped by my desk (yes, also a co-worker) to thank me for passing along recipes to them.

However, when she made the Takeaway Taco Salad, they didn’t make the Cashew Cream Cheese sub-recipe … but since, she has made a recipe she found on her nutritional yeast package.

And she asked me to make it so that I could let her know how it compares to Meghan Telpner’s Cashew Cream Cheese. So today that was my weekly test recipe …

The recipe is found on the package of Bob’s Red Mill‘s Nutritional Yeast (I bought my bag from Safeway for around $11.50 CAD).

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups raw cashew pieces
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 3 tbsp lemon juice

04-cashew-no-cheese-sauce

Directions:

  1. In a food processor or blender, process into a fine powder
  2. Add nutritional yeast, salt & garlic powder – blend until combined
  3. Add water and lemon juice – blend until smooth

Makes 2 cups

This Cashew No-Cheese Sauce recipe is absolutely like cheese sauce – it’s creamy and cheesy! It would be divine over some steamed veggies or even as a nacho dip!

It differs greatly from the Cashew Cream Cheese by Meghan Telpner as that recipe is much more like cream cheese … it’s smooth and thick.

I like the fact that these are vastly different as they can have their own time and place!

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