Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Is Your Probiotic Pill Worthless? A Simple Test To Find Out At Home!

When I attended the Natural Products Expo this year I noticed that there were dozens of newly launched products that were fortified with probiotics – they were everywhere! There is no disputing that probiotics (good bacteria) are good for you, … Continued

The post Is Your Probiotic Pill Worthless? A Simple Test To Find Out At Home! appeared first on Food Babe.



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3-Ingredient, Kid-Approved (and Customizable) Avocado Smoothie

I’ve partnered with the Hass Avocado Board to bring you today’s post. As always, thank you so much for your support! 

Good morning!

We’re a huge fan of smoothies in our house and drink them all the time. Qman, in particular, loves a good smoothie, and I love that I’m able to blend in so many nutrients that he might not consume otherwise. When it comes to food, he’s quite the picky eater.

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But, Quinn wasn’t always a picky eater. In fact, he ate everything as a baby. Broccoli? Loved it. Hummus? Couldn’t get enough. More peas? Yes, please! Basically, if we put it in front of him, he would eat it, which is why we often reached for avocado.

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Avocados are a unique, nutrient-dense, plant-based food that contain many of the critical nutrients for infant health and development. In one serving, avocados contain 6 grams of unsaturated fats, which are known to be important for normal development of the central nervous system, and structural and functional brain development in the first year of life. Avocados are also an optimal first food for babies since they fit right into the three characteristics to look for when choosing one:

  • Nutrient Density: Babies need to eat moderately energy-dense foods that are low in sugar and rich in multiple nutrients that are key for infant health and development
  • Texture/Consistency: A variety of soft and smooth textures are best, such as creamy, lumpy, pureed or mashed. The variety will help develop the ability to chew and swallow
  • Neutral Flavor Profile: Ideal first foods should have a low to moderate sweet and salty flavor profile to avoid early preferences for sweet foods

Additionally, being soft, neutrally-flavored and nutrient-rich, avocados are a wonderful transitional food since they can serve as a gateway food to more nutritious eating patterns later in life. They contain less than 1 gram of sugar per serving (the least amount of any fresh fruit) and when they are introduced in the early feeding stages as a low-sugar fruit option, they can help prevent an early preference for sweet foods, which may influence eating behavior over time.

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With so many health benefits of avocados for little ones, it’s a perfect food to incorporate as a base for homemade baby food. Plus, avocado-based baby food can grow with your child and turn into all sorts of avocado smoothies. We especially love smoothies made with avocado in our house, so I have an incredible recipe to share with you. It’s actually an avocado smoothie “base” recipe, which means you can easily customize it to your liking. It only requires 3 ingredients (avocado, banana, milk), but the addition options are endless!

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kid-approved-avocado-smoothie

Avocado Base Smoothie

  • 1/2 ripe Hass avocado
  • 1/2 small ripe banana
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • additional ingredients (optional – suggestions below)

Directions: Combine ingredients in a blender until smooth.

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Some additions that we like in our smoothies – just blend right into your avocado smoothie base:

  • 1/4 cup frozen or fresh blueberries or raspberries
  • 2-3 whole strawberries
  • 1/2 small peach
  • small handful of fresh baby spinach or kale (frozen works too)
  • 1 tbsp peanut butter, almond butter, or sunflower butter
  • 1 tbsp shredded coconut
  • 1 tsp agave or honey

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Questions of the Day

Parents: Did you/do you feed your little ones avocado on the regular?

What’s your favorite smoothie base recipe? 

Hass Avocado Board: Website//Facebook//Twitter//Instagram//Pinterest//#LoveOneToday



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How to Snack Responsibly in the New World of Health Food Marketing

How to Snack Responsibly in the New World of Health Food Marketing in lineThe growth of the Primal movement has not gone unnoticed. Food producers have latched on because, as much as we emphasize foraging the perimeter of the grocery store—the produce, the meats, the bulk goods—and eschewing processed foods, we remain creatures of convenience. Not everyone has the time or inclination to personally prepare every single morsel that enters their mouths. Sometimes we just need something quick and easy to snack on. And the food industry has risen to the occasion, offering ostensibly healthy Primal-friendly snack foods.

But are they really healthy?

It’s certainly better than previous incarnations of “healthy snack food.”

I’m thinking of the low-fat craze of the 90s, which spawned such obesogenic fare as non-fat Snackwells and yogurts, which made up for the missing fat with extra sugar, and the unholy chips cooked in artificial fat your body couldn’t even absorb—but that your underwear certainly could. This era saw obesity and diabetes rates skyrocket.

Then there are the “100% real juice” products (as opposed to what? I gotta ask). You’d hope the juice is “real.”

And don’t forget about the “healthy whole grains” emblazoned across anything with even a hint of bran and germ. It should just read “soon-to-be sugar, plus some gut irritants.”

The “no high fructose corn syrup” labels that gloss over the fact that they’ve simply replaced HFCS with an equal (and equally damaging) amount of sugar.

The fancy names for sugar: “Evaporated cane juice” (mined from natural sugar springs, no doubt), “crystalline fructose” (ooh, it must be breathtaking under a microscope!), “agave nectar” (hand milked from heritage agave plants on ancestral Hohokam tribal lands, no doubt), “brown rice syrup” (hey, that’s a healthywholegrain!), “raw sugar” (it’s kinda brown so it must be good for you), and all the others.

It’s easy to poke holes in conventionally-healthy snack foods. That’s what we do around here.

But what about the growing number of snack foods marketed to Primal, paleo, and “real food” consumers—are they good for us?

Some are, some aren’t. As I said, we like convenience. Often, we require it just to stay sane and make life go smoothly. Snack food will be on the menu, so we need to understand how to navigate the sordid world of Primal-friendly snack food. How can we do it? What should we watch out for?

Let’s get one thing out of the way first: Primal (or paleo) doesn’t mean healthy.

Is honey Primal? Sure. Are dates? Yep. How about cacao? Of course. And tapioca starch? I’ll give it to you. Coconut oil? Hell yes. Combining excessive amounts of them all into an amorphous blob doesn’t make the healthiest thing you can eat, though. It gives you a subpar brownie if not done correctly.

We all agree that nuts can be a beneficial part of a healthy Primal eating plan, but that doesn’t mean you should grind up a cup of them, throw in some coconut milk, coconut syrup, and eggs and make pancakes every morning.

So here are a few things you should do when picking out your next Primal-friendly snack food.

Heed the labels

They’re the first things you’ll see. And while they can be informative, they’re also misleading.

“Paleo-approved.” People are beginning to stick “paleo-approved” or “paleo” on just about everything. I like it. Helps you separate the (gluten-free) wheat from the chaff. But it can also be misleading if you don’t do some extra investigating.

  • Grain-free granola clusters with honey as the first ingredient.
  • Dark chocolate coconut-butter cups. I bet these are great. And they’re fine as an indulgence. But it’s ultimately candy and should be treated as such.
  • Plain old roasted almonds. Technically correct, as roasted almonds are “paleo-approved.” But the presence of “paleo-approved” on the label just increased the price by 30%; you’d be better off grabbing some almonds from the bulk bin or farmer’s market.

“Gluten-free.” Gluten-free crackers, cookies, cakes, and muffins are still crackers, cookies, cakes, and muffins. I’m not opposed to gluten-free crackers (see below), but let’s be honest with ourselves.

Organic is nice but not sufficient. All else being equal, I’ll take the organic snack over the non-organic snack. But things are rarely equal. Read the rest of the label.

Scrutinize the ingredients

Watch for sugar. Remember all the synonyms listed above.

Avoid weird oils and fats. The healthiest-sounding snack can be derailed by a big whack of “organic free-range soybean oil.”

Placement determines predominance. Food producers must list ingredients in descending order of predominance by weight. If there’s more honey than anything else, honey gets top billing. Use this to determine the relative proportion of problematic ingredients.

Look past the ingredients

Taking each ingredient on its own can make a product look impressive and nutritious. Consider the almond pancake I mentioned earlier. Yes, all those things are “good” for us. But in the end, it’s still a pancake (or a brownie, or a cookie, or whatever it is you’re contemplating eating).

Beware the sub par bars

“Wow, this bar has dark chocolate, figs, and blueberries! Those are all healthy foods that I enjoy on the regular. This bar must be the healthiest thing ever!”

Actually, it’s just a dense brick of dates, nuts, and other fruits. Very little protein, a ton of sugar, and more calories than you think. It’s real food, it’s nothing our bodies aren’t expecting, but the dense structure and high calorie content make it easy to put away a ton of food without realizing it. I’ve seen people eat three or four Lara Bars in a single sitting—close to 800 calories chock full of sugar—as a snack.

Beware fruit snacks (leathers, strips, etc)

I have nothing against fruit. Far more than just a “bag of sugar,” it’s a great source of polyphenols and fiber. If you’re looking for carbs or something sweet, fruit is probably a good option. But just eat the fruit. The vast majority of “all-fruit” strips achieve their status by using “fruit juice concentrates.” Sure, that banana blueberry fruit strip you gobbled as you stalked the aisles of Trader Joe’s didn’t have any refined sugar, but it did receive infusions of grape syrup.

Use crackers wisely

I won’t tell you to never eat those gluten-free chia seed-festooned sprouted wild rice flour crackers (partly because I know you’re going to get them regardless). Just don’t eat an entire box of them by themselves. Instead, throw some aged gouda on top and have fewer crackers. Spread some lamb liver paté on top. Have them with cream cheese and smoked salmon. This applies to any type of paleo-approved version of otherwise forbidden edible vehicles (bread, chips, wraps, etc).

There’s nothing wrong with convenience

Hell, one of my favorite pastimes is going into Costco, beelining for the organic section at the front of the store, and browsing all the snacks and treats. There’s always something new. Most of it is candy and other types of junk masquerading as healthy food—organic fruit snacks, trail mixes, high-cacao dark chocolate-covered pomegranate gummies—but occasionally you’ll find a gem. Like the time my local Costco had something called “Grok Chips.”

These things were the real deal. Grana padano cheese, oven-baked into crackers. They were crunchy and filling and rich in protein and calcium. And that name—what are the chances? I still wish I’d bought a case of them when I had the opportunity. Alas, I’ve never seen them since.

But there are some great products out there that both cater to a growing market and provide excellent nutrition. How about that: a company profiting by providing goods that truly serve a need and desire.

For Primal Kitchen, I’ve focused almost exclusively on real-food products that either replace a hard-to-make food or offer a hard-to-find nutrient. Everyone loves to eat it but hates making mayo, so I came up with some using avocado oil. Everyone knows they should be eating more gelatin/collagen but making bone broth is a pain, so I came up with a delicious chocolate almond bar (and now, coconut cashew bar) full of it.

If you’re having the classics, might I recommend:

As well as some newcomers:

If you’re still floundering in the sea of snacks, check out my “Essential Paleo Pantry Foods” post. It’s got a section for Sisson-approved snacks.

Again, I’m all about personal agency. You have to make your own choices. You can eat whatever you want. Just know that not every food producer trying to capitalize on the ancestral health movement is producing nutrient-dense foods. Hopefully after reading today’s post, you feel better equipped to determine which ones deserve your dollars.

Thanks for reading, everyone. How do you scrutinize snacks? What criteria do you follow?

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Have You Tried: Coffee Flour?

The hottest new trend in coffee couldn’t be farther from a cup of joe. It’s overflowing with nutrients, is gluten-free and helps to reduce food waste. Should you get your hands on some coffee flour?

What Is Coffee Flour?
Coffee flour is derived from the byproducts of coffee production. Coffee beans are encased within a small fruit. Once the beans are removed, the remaining fruit is typically discarded as waste. Farmers have now discovered that this fruit pulp can be salvaged, dried and ground into flour. Recommended uses include baking as well as incorporation into soups, sauces and beverages.

Coffee flour does not possess a strong coffee flavor but does have similarly deep and earthy characteristics. There is a floral undertone that resembles tea more than coffee. It also has a little bit of caffeine; according to Marx Pantry, each tablespoon of coffee flour contains roughly the same amount of caffeine as a third a cup of black coffee (they sell coffee flour for $9/pound).

Healthy Attributes
A small amount of coffee flour contains a huge amount of nutrients. One tablespoon holds almost 10 percent of the daily recommended amount of potassium and nearly 13 percent of daily iron. This plant-based flour is also gluten-free and an excellent source of fiber. Similar to coffee, coffee flour is also rich in cell-protecting antioxidants.

5 Ways to Love Coffee Flour
Add a small amount of coffee flour to a variety of recipes to boost flavor and nutrients.
• Whisk a few teaspoons with olive oil, garlic and balsamic vinegar for a unique salad dressing or marinade.
• Blend it into a banana and almond butter smoothie.
• Sprinkle it onto trail mix.
• Bake it into granola bars.
• Make a batch of Coffee Flour Brownies (recipe follows).

Coffee Flour Brownies
Serves 12

When baking with coffee flour, use it to replace 10 to 15 percent of the regular flour in a recipe. You may also need to increase the liquid in the recipe, as coffee flour is more absorbent than other flours.

Nonstick cooking spray
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup coffee flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/4 to 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
3/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup miniature chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 9-inch square baking dish with cooking spray and set aside. Combine flours, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a bowl and set aside. Melt butter in a medium saucepan; set aside to cool slightly. Whisk in 1/4 cup applesauce and sugar; using a spatula, mix eggs in one at a time, followed by the vanilla; if mixture appears too dry, add remaining applesauce. Fold in chocolate chips. Pour mixture into prepared baking dish and bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean from the center. Cool for at least 20 minutes before cutting into squares.

Per serving: Calories 182; Fat 9 g (Saturated 5 g); Cholesterol 46 mg; Sodium 84 mg; Carbohydrate 24 g; Fiber 3 g; Sugars 17 g; Protein 3 g

Photo courtesy of Marx Pantry

Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC, is a registered dietitian, certified athletic trainer and owner of Dana White Nutrition, Inc., which specializes in culinary and sports nutrition.



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My All-Time Favorite Country Songs

Country

When I was younger I hated country music, until fifth grade when my dance recital included the song Angels Among Us by Alabama. Soon after, I started to like a few country songs and then the whole Shania Twain // Dixie Chicks era began, and I was obsessed. Brad Paisley, Tim McGraw, Kenny, Garth all spoke to me in ways that other music never had. I have always liked all kinds of music, and I have a really eclectic mix of all-time favorite songs, from broadway classics to Celine Dion to oldies to pop ballads to One Direction to classical. While I love to sing along and dance to many genres, I feel country music. I’ve been working on a “Country Favorites” list on Spotify this year that is 42 songs deep. But I wanted to share my very, very favorite songs. Interestingly, nearly all of them are love songs sung by twangy men!

  1. Almost Home // Craig Morgan
  2. Crazy Girl // Eli Young Band
  3. Let’s Make Love // Tim + Faith
  4. Don’t You Wanna Stay // Jason Aldean + Kelly Clarkson
  5. Carried Away // George Straight
  6. Small Town USA // Justin Moore
  7. Red Light // David Nail
  8. Good Directions // Billy Currington
  9. Get Your Shine On // Florida Georgia Line
  10. Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye // Luke Bryan
  11. The Truth // Jason Aldean

I’m dying to know 1) What your all-time favorite country song is, and 2) If you hate country, why? (And please don’t say “because it’s all pick-up trucks and drunks!”)

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Overnight oats for breakfast!! With pockets of banana, blackberries, and chia seeds. I used a Chobani coconut flavored yogurt as the base, and boy was that good!

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Lunch salad from Whole Foods. The kale caesar is my favorite base. Topped with a mix of veggies and tofu.

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I have been craving crunchy tacos for the first time in years! I almost always choose soft taco shells when I’m out, but crunchy tacos take me right back to high school when my mom would make taco bar for us once a week. The tacos below were stuffed with a little meat, sauteed veggies, and cheese. Guac on the side! (And yes, I charred the shells a bit in the toaster oven!)

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Have a great hump day guys!!



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