Tuesday, December 12, 2017

12 Healthy Holiday Baking Swaps!

Baking season is in full swing, and if you’re anything like me you’ll be making some delicious goodies for your friends and family (and yourself!) in the weeks that come. Most holiday recipes call for refined bleached flour… refined white sugar… food coloring…shortening… and all kinds of unhealthy ingredients. The good news is that you don’t need to sacrifice your health this time of year while still enjoying holiday treats. It’s all about making better choices, and this same philosophy applies any time of the year.

Ignore all those holiday baking displays full of GMOs and controversial additives at your grocery store and try these easy and healthy holiday baking swaps instead… 

1. Butter and Margarine

I call conventional non-organic butter “Monsanto Butter” because it comes from cows fed almost entirely genetically engineered or GMO grains and Monsanto is the largest producer of GMOs. Conventionally raised cows are most commonly fed GMO corn and soy, however, some farmers fatten up their feed with additional sugar from GMO sugar beets. The harmful pesticides used on GMOs (like glyphosate) is also being eaten by these cows too and can end up in their milk – and thereby, butter. In the alternative, grass-fed or pastured raised cows produce more nutritious milk than cows raised with grains. The highest amounts of the most beneficial CLA and Omega 3 fatty acids naturally come from grass-fed cows. Also grass-fed cows produce butter with up to 50 percent more vitamin A and E and 400 percent more beta carotene (which gives the grass-fed butter a deeper yellow color).

Many people bake with margarine instead of butter. Margarines like Imperial and Blue Bonnet are made with inflammatory oils like soybean oil that are most surely GMO (unless specified otherwise). They also can contain hidden trans fat additives, artificial ingredients made from petroleum and unnecessary preservatives.

Good alternatives: Organic Valley Cultured Pasture Butter, Nutiva Buttery Organic Coconut Oil (for vegans)

2. Bleached Flour

Flour can be treated with any of the 60 different chemicals approved by the FDA before it ends up on store shelves – including chemical bleach. The industrial processing destroys nutrients, such as Vitamin E and fiber. It has no nutritional value and is essentially dead food, so they “enrich” it with synthetic vitamins (niacin, reduced iron, thiamine mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid) that are not from nature. When wheat is not organic, it is often sprayed with Roundup weedkiller pre-harvest and residues can remain in the flour. The active ingredient in Roundup, glyphosate, is linked to cancer. Roundup is banned on all organic crops. Choosing an organic flour made with whole white wheat (not bleached, this is a variety of wheat) is a good alternative because it has a light texture for holiday baking. Sprouted flour is much more easily digested than starchy flour, and contains more vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Phytic acid is destroyed when the grain sprouts, so your body is able to absorb the nutrients in these grains – which makes them that much better for you!

Good alternative: Thrive Market Organic Sprouted White Wheat Flour

3. Powdered Sugar

While popular brands like Domino and C&H are made with cane sugar (instead of GMO sugar beets), any sugar that is NOT organic could have been sprayed with Roundup weedkiller pre-harvest. These powdered sugars also contain non-organic corn starch, which may come from GMO corn. While sugar is not a healthy ingredient by any means, some holiday recipes require a little powdered sugar and by choosing an organic version will ensure that it is not made with GMO sugar beets or laced with synthetic weedkillers and GMO corn.

Good alternative: Wholesome Organic Powdered Sugar

4. Whipped Cream

Popular brands like Reddi Wip are filled with factory farmed milk, mono-and diglycerides (hidden trans fat), carrageenan (linked to gut inflammation and cancer), and some also contain cellulose (linked to inflammation and digestion problems). Cool Whip is even worse made with high fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated oils, and a concoction of chemicals ranging from artificial flavors to numerous synthetic emulsifiers. Yikes.

Good alternative: Use Natural Value Coconut Cream to make homemade whipped cream. Recipe here.

5. Eggs

 

Similar to dairy, most eggs are raised in factory farms where the chickens are raised on GMO grains, antibiotics, and they never eat grass. Ideally, you’ll want to source your eggs from local farmers who raise the chickens on pasture and never use unnecessary antibiotics or drugs. There are a few good organic pastured options in stores. You can also make a “Flax Egg” as a good vegan option that works well in most baking recipes. Simply mix together 1 tablespoon organic ground flaxseed with 3 tablespoons water per egg. Let it sit for 15 minutes to thicken before using.

Good Alternatives: Vital Farms Organic Pastured Eggs or Homemade “Flax Egg”

6. Shortening

Crisco used to be made with partially hydrogenated oils and since they revamped their recipe to make it with “0 Grams of Trans Fat” it’s more toxic than ever. It’s primary ingredient is now soybean oil – one of the most unhealthy oils out there which increases the risk of obesity, inflammation, cardiovascular disease, cancer, autoimmune diseases, and almost always comes from GMO soybeans. Crisco is also filled with fully hydrogenated oils, hidden trans fat additives, and is preserved with TBHQ (linked to increased risk of food allergies).

Good Alternative: Nutiva Organic Vegan Superfood Shortening

7. Cinnamon

Many of the non-organic spices we find on the shelves are treated with chemicals and pesticides before they end up in the bottle. Organic spices cannot have genetically engineered ingredients (GMOs), artificial colors, preservatives, and other synthetic anti-caking agents.

Good Alternative: Red Ape Organic Cinnamon – Take 15% off with the code FOODBABE here.

8. Vanilla Extract

Avoid “imitation” vanilla extracts that are made with vanillin, as this is typically sourced from petrochemicals and wood pulp. It is fake food and as an artificial flavor it tricks your brain into believing you’re eating real vanilla. It also doesn’t contain the antioxidants found in real vanilla extract that are good for the body. Many of these fake vanilla extracts are filled with controversial additives like caramel color (linked to cancer) and propylene glycol as well.

Good Alternative: Simply Organic Vanilla Extract

9. Food Coloring

Those food colors by McCormick and Betty Crocker are made with artificial food dyes made from petroleum (Red 40, Yellow 5, Blue 1). These are linked to several health issues, including allergies and hyperactivity in children. Dyes have also been found to be contaminated with carcinogens. Europe requires any food containing dyes to carry the warning label, “May Have an Adverse Effect on Activity and Attention in Children.” McCormick’s colors are suspended in a solution made with propylene glycol and preserved with parabens – endocrine-disrupting chemicals linked to breast cancer and reproductive problems. There are natural coloring kits available made from real food like beets, spirulina, and turmeric. This goes for holiday sprinkles too!

Good Alternative: India Tree Natural Decorating Colors

10. Sugar

Refined white sugar has zero nutritional value. Eating refined sugar is addictive, makes you fat, tired, depressed, age faster, makes your skin dull, weakens immunity and when consumed in excess causes all sorts of diseases. Unless a sugar says it is “cane sugar” it is probably made from GMO sugar beets. Any sugar (including Cane Sugar) that is NOT organic could have been sprayed with Roundup pre-harvest. You can replace white sugar with organic coconut sugar. It’s a perfect 1 to 1 substitute for any recipe that calls for regular old sugar. It’s completely unrefined and not bleached, helping to preserve all of its vitamins and minerals.

Good Alternative: Nutiva Organic Coconut Sugar

11. Brown Sugar

Brown sugar is simply white sugar with molasses added to it. So, like all other types of sugar (see above), unless it’s organic it may have been treated with Roundup. It’s best to either choose an organic brown sugar, or better yet, use organic coconut sugar as a replacement. The flavor of coconut sugar is richer than white sugar, so it works well as a replacement for brown sugar and is more nutrient dense. 

Good Alternative: Nutiva Organic Coconut Sugar or Wholesome Organic Brown Sugar

12. Baking Powder

Most baking powders contain aluminum, which is linked to alzheimer’s. The popular Clabber Girl brand is also made with GMO ingredients.

Good alternative: Rumford Aluminum-Free Baking Powder (non-GMO and aluminum free)

How we choose to spend our dollars is very powerful.

Wouldn’t it be amazing if everyone made these healthier baking swaps? If that happened, our stores would stop carrying all those toxic products and give us more good options!

If there is anything on this list that your local grocery stores do not carry, I encourage you to talk to them and request that they do. In this post I tell you EXACTLY what to say, to make it really easy for you.

Please share this post and show your friends and family why it is important to make better decisions when we shop for food. Let’s all vote with our dollars and protect our health – even during the holidays. 

Xo,

Vani

Posts may contain affiliate links for products Food Babe has approved and researched herself. If you purchase a product through an affiliate link, your cost will be the same (or at a discount if a special code is offered) and Food Babe will automatically receive a small referral fee. Your support is crucial because it helps fund this blog and helps us continue to spread the word. Thank you.



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24 Days of Togetherness (Days 6-12)

Our holiday adventures continue with day 6-12 of 24 Days of Togetherness!

I seriously can’t believe we are almost halfway to Christmas. I love this time of year so much; I only wish it would last longer. BUT that’s exactly why our family participates in this tradition, so we get to do all of the fun things that go along with the season and not have it fly by and miss out on our favorite activities. That said, here’s our next 24 Days of Togetherness recap!

Day 6: Get a new ornament for the Christmas tree. We’re not surprised that Qman picked Batman! It was actually the last one at Target, so I have a feeling it’s a popular one.

Day 7: Visit Santa Claus! We went to the Christmas Place in Abington again this year. The Santa Claus was really nice and chatted with Quinn for a solid 5 minutes about his Christmas list, which Qman brought with him and then left with Santa. It was so sweet, and Quinn loved his time with Santa.

Day 8: Watch a holiday movie. Quinn picked The Grinch (Jim Carrey version), which, for the record, is the weirdest movie ever. He was initially interested, but we only made it about half way though before we turned it off.

Day 9: Take a family photo.

Day 10: Drink eggnog.

Day 11: Make a holiday craft. We made a paper chain for the Christmas tree.

Day 12: Wear red and green all day. We got into the holiday spirit this morning! 🙂

P.S. Fun contest altert: Enter to win the ULTIMATE Snow Day from Stowe Mountain Lodge! Share Your Snow Day Experience! Post a photo on social media that illustrates your perfect Snow Day, and you’ll be entered to win one of four monthly prizes along with a chance to win the ultimate Grand Prize at the end of the season valued at over $10,000. To enter, tag a friend you would like to spend a snow day with and include the hashtag #SMLSnowDays. Easy as that! More details here: http://ift.tt/2AxTr2I.

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Diet Drinks That Are Good For You! 

Before you start to question whether your favorite pants just shrunk, remember that you are not alone… almost everyone packs on the pounds this time of year. And, these are pesky pounds too, shown to stick around for months… well into summer. I don’t know about you, but I want to stop that before it happens!

It could be all those holiday goodies tempting us everywhere we look, but there are many reasons why we gain weight in the winter. Heavy foods along with sleep and hormonal changes that are normal this time of year can all make our pants too tight.

I know for myself, I’m a bit less active in the winter and it takes more to motivate myself to head outdoors into the cold. All the way up until recently I’ve been taking long walks with Harley every single evening, but now it is so dark and chilly outside after work that I don’t want to bundle us up to go out. As I’m missing out on all of that daily exercise I was getting, I now need to be extra vigilant on making sure I make it to the gym to get that activity in! Unfortunately… one of my biggest triggers is sugar – especially this time of year! Can you relate?

Before you reach for your next sugary-laden treat, I put together a FREE guide with my Top 5 Winter Weight Loss Drinks to try instead!

When your sweet tooth calls all you have to do is choose one of these satisfying recipes to put your cravings to bed. You’ll also get my proven drink formula that will detox your liver, reduce bloating, and tighten you up naturally! Just enter your email below to get instant access.

Keep The Weight Off This Winter

New FREE Guide to My Top 5 Winter Weight Loss Drinks

Download your copy right now!

 

Each of these recipes include ingredients known to help shed unwanted pounds and keep the weight off. Don’t waste any more time trying to figure out how you will keep the pounds off this winter. Simply download this FREE guide and keep it right on your kitchen counter for the next time your sweet tooth attacks.

If any of your friends or family would love these weight-loss drink recipes, please share this post with them. Here’s to satisfying our sweet tooth in a healthy way! 

Xo, 

Vani

Posts may contain affiliate links for products Food Babe has approved and researched herself. If you purchase a product through an affiliate link, your cost will be the same (or at a discount if a special code is offered) and Food Babe will automatically receive a small referral fee. Your support is crucial because it helps fund this blog and helps us continue to spread the word. Thank you.



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Introducing The Gut Healing Protocol—With a Don’t Miss Deal!

inline_mda_guthealing_645x445Greetings readers, as you know, gut health has become the hottest of topics in ancestral health circles, and is also getting increased attention in mainstream medicine. More and more science is validating how a healthy gut microbiome has wide-reaching impact on general health, and that a damaged gut can set you up for all kinds of downstream health challenges. There are several helpful primers on gut health published here (1, 2, 3).

Today’s message, however, is something a little different and more personal. It comes from a dynamic young health expert from Australia named Kale Brock. We are pleased to bring his wildly popular grassroots gut health book, The Gut Healing Protocol: An 8-Week, Holistic Program to Rebalance Your Microbiome, to the U.S. market. Kale became an expert on gut health not from formal medical training, but rather the hard way. Like many thought leaders in the ancestral health community, Kale’s obsession with gut health was triggered by a serious health setback that was poorly addressed by traditional medicine.

Through diet and lifestyle modification, including special attention to nourishing a healthy gut, Kale was able to correct a condition that his cardiologist insisted would require surgery.

Gut Healing_front-cover-cropKale’s story that he is about to share is his own, and of course must not be construed as medical advice. After all, few if any cardiologists would enthusiastically support the idea that a dietary protocol to heal an inflamed gut might positively benefit a heart condition!

While the details of Kale’s story are unusual, his message of pursuing holistic health and healing is one that many people can relate to. I cannot emphasize enough the urgency in looking beyond the flawed “disease care” model of medicine that is entrenched in modern society today, and to explore the boundaries as Kale has with his own healing journey.

I’m feeling a little testy about this subject, for I had a bizarre health scare myself this year that landed me in the hospital for several days. A routine procedure (that it turns out I didn’t really need!) went seriously awry, causing a life-threatening infection. The whole experience was highly disturbing to say the least. It’s one thing to rail about the flaws in conventional sick care approach and preach about taking responsibility for your health, and quite another to become an unwitting victim of the system.

Kale’s immersion into gut health has been all-consuming. On the heels of self-publishing and promoting his book throughout Australia, he traveled to remote area in Namibia to live with the San tribe and study their gut microbiomes in search of the perfect gut. The documentary of his journey, The Gut Movie (preview and link below), has screened to sold-out audiences throughout Australia. This guy is the real deal, and full of enthusiasm and a fresh, simple, sensible approach to gut health.

Without further ado, here’s our newest Primal Blueprint Publishing author, Kale Brock, to share his message:

I was diagnosed with Supra Ventricular Tachycardia when I was 16 years old. I remember the cardiologist announcing this long, strange sounding diagnosis and thinking to myself; well that’s it, 16 years is not a bad slog old chap, time to hang the boots and give up. But my story went in a different direction. I am an author and filmmaker from Sydney, Australia, and I have specialised in research on the gut and microbiome for the last five years. My journey into health started with the aforementioned diagnosis. I was a young, avid surfer at the time – that’s all I cared about – and the challenges I faced, as far as I was concerned at the time, could result in two outcomes. First, I would continue to experience intense arrhythmia attacks to the point of fainting and would probably have to give up surfing, or anything interesting and exciting for that matter. Second, I would have to find a way to overcome the issue permanently so that I could continue to do the things I loved without fear of drowning, fainting, or coming to another form of demise.

The cardiologist gave me one option at the time. He said I would have to undergo an ablation – a procedure where my heart would be operated on, more specifically my sino atrial node would be burned away – in order to fix the problem. I was curious as to why we would need to attack the part of the heart which wasn’t working, and voiced my concern. He said it was the only option which might work, but was not guaranteed. I asked about any potential influence of nutrition, to which he responded with a quick dismissive wave, as in: it’s got nothing to do with it. In all fairness, I don’t think he was lying per se, but rather demonstrating the education he had been given throughout medical school, in which there is no recognition between nutrition and the optimal electrical signaling of the heart.

I decided to investigate whether there indeed was a nutritional aspect to what I was experiencing. After all, everything we put in our mouths builds and nourishes the human body. That was all I knew at that point, but boy did I have a lot of questions to ask! It was roundabout then that one of the more fortuitous events of my career, and my life, took place. I was introduced to an incredibly well trained naturopath in Australia who, in a very short amount of time, was able to point me in the right direction with some diet and lifestyle factors which she, obligingly, suggested might be influencing my condition.

Using the principles recommended by my naturopath, I was able to turn around my condition naturally within about six months. I went from experiencing serious arrhythmias once or twice per week to just once or twice per year. I can’t even remember the last time it happened. My efforts focused on the area of gut health; that is, rebalancing the population of gut bugs using all the relevant knowledge available in, at the time, a minimally understood field of nutrition and health science.

Over the next six years I went into research overdrive. I sat in on consultations with practitioners, I read every book I could get my hands on, and I interviewed dozens of incredible practitioners whose focus had turned to the gut and microbiome. The message was clear: heal the gut to heal the body. Speaking with these incredible experts outweighed any other information gathering – these guys were putting in the hard yards and seeing the results first hand!

Throughout this time I was learning as much as I could about not only about food and nutrition, but also the pain points people experienced when it came to implementing this information into their life. I saw sick people with serious conditions who couldn’t, for the life of them, begin to change the way they ate or lived. It was bizarre. I realised that no matter how much information I gathered, it didn’t make a difference unless people applied it in their life. And that’s when my role as a storyteller came to light.

With a journalistic background, two years experience in TV and extensive online publishing, I knew that I could tell a story about health in a way that not many others could. There was so much information being uncovered about the microbiome and its impact on our health and wellbeing. Crazy things like affecting and even reversing neurological conditions, influencing our immune system, metabolic systems and our overall health in extremely fascinating ways that even still we’re only just beginning to understand. But there was a gap. The information was there, but people didn’t understand it, and because they didn’t understand it they didn’t act on it. That became my role. I became the middleman between the science and the every day human being.

My new book, The Gut Healing Protocol, focuses on the science of the gut microbiome. It expands on and supports the work of various of the world’s best gut-centric practitioners and ties it all up into a gentle, holistic framework on which great gut health can be based. With a heavy emphasis on using a long-term, sustainable dietary approach to cultivating a healthy microbiome unique to your body, this book is written for you and me, the every day guy or gal who wants to understand and apply all this ‘gut health stuff’ coming out on the news. Inside we have recipes, scientific studies, a short term gut healing program and a long term gut nourishing program which focus on individuality, empowering you to take the driver’s seat.

I don’t pretend to have all the answers. In fact, one thing I’ve learned through all this research, writing the book and making my first feature documentary The Gut Movie, it’s that we don’t have all the answers when it comes to the gut just yet. It’s still being worked out. Practitioners are still refining their approach based on the science and, importantly, based on the symptomatic feedback they get from patients. But I do believe we know enough to get started.

Many people ask me, what’s the number one thing someone can do to improve their gut health? And the answer is very simple, and unanimous across the board. Start with a whole foods diet.

Everybody is unique, each microbiome signature contains different populations of different microbial species however the research seems to be quite clear in that when we eat a varied, whole foods diet, our gut bugs begin to thrive. Within the framework of eating from nature exists your perfect diet, but ultimately that can only be determined by you, the individual. My goal with The Gut Healing Protocol is to give you the tools to feel empowered when making that decision. The decision on what you put on your plate, and what you don’t.

Good luck on your journey, and much love (all the way from Australia!),

Kale Brock

As you know, a Primal Publishing book release just wouldn’t be complete without a deal for MDA. You can probably guess what kind of promo we’ve cooked up to entice you to order Kale’s amazing book (not to mention help implement his practices). What could be more fitting?

The Ultimate Promo Pairing: The Gut Healing Protocol and Primal Probiotics!

inline_mda_guthealing_645x445That’s right, a piggyback with our acclaimed high potency supplement, Primal Probiotics. Order a book now and we’ll throw a bottle of Primal Probiotics into your shipment for free!

At $29.95, the bottle is worth more than the book, making this one of the craziest giveaways I’ve ever approved. (Just use code GUTHEALTH at checkout.)

The official release date for The Gut Healing Protocol is January 2, 2018, but a limited number of advance copies have arrived at our Oxnard, CA headquarters and are ready to ship. I recommend you take advantage of this offer immediately. We’ll honor the promotion until December 21, but you may have a wait time if we run out of books and need to back order.

Kale’s right, the centerpiece of gut health is a whole foods diet. I made a great effort to promote this message, recommending foods like fermented dairy (yogurt, kefir), sauerkraut, kimchi, pickles, kombucha, fermeted soy products (tempeh, miso) and even high cacao percentage dark chocolate to support gut health.

However, today’s food options and stressful lifestyle patterns often leave our guts vulnerable to bad bacteria winning out over healthy bacteria. This is where a high potency probiotic supplement can also play a wonderful supporting role in the process of both healing an inflamed gut and keeping healthy bacteria predominating over harmful bacteria on a day-to-day basis. Primal Probiotics contains a concentrated dose of four different strains of bacilli bacteria, along with bifidus and saccharomyces. This is some high potency, long-lasting stuff, with 10 billion colony-forming units per capsule (check the product page on our website for details about the product). A healthy intake of probiotics improves not only digestive health, but immune function, antioxidant production, fat metabolism, mood and cognitive function, and hormone balance.

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Finally, here’s the preview to his incredible film, The Gut Movie. Just like his book, it offers fascinating insight into the conditions that support essential gut health.

Thanks for reading, and I hope you take advantage of our awesome offer, enjoy Kale’s groundbreaking book, and get your gut functioning at peak levels!

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Chocolate-Dipped Christmas Cuties

This post is sponsored by Cuties Citrus.

It’s the sweetest time of year – citrus season! How many of you got a cute little citrus in the bottom of your stocking when you were little? Cuties are my favorite – seedless, easy to peel, and perfectly portioned. And they bring all.the.Cali.sunshine to the winter season.

What’s more photogenic than a bright Cutie orange? These two cuties!

Mazen and I had the Struckmanns over for a little “get the holidays going” party last week. Traditionally you might decorate Christmas cookies this time of year, but in the spirit of nutrition, we had a Cuties decorating party instead!

I pre-peeled a handful of Cuties so they would be ready, but the kids also each peeled one. It’s so easy a five-year-old can do it! (They wanted to show off how grown-up they were with the challenge.)

I melted a bunch of white chocolate chips with two tablespoons of coconut oil (so the shell would harden on the citrus) in the microwave for about a minute, stirring every 20 seconds or so. You could totally do this with dark chocolate chips too, but I wanted to keep the mess in the light-colored family! : )

They LOVED dunking the Cuties into the chocolate. And quite a few segments got eaten right away!

This project was also fun for our littlest guest too – Mr. Sawyer!

Once we had most of the Cuties dipped, I broke out the sprinkles. My-oh-my, did they love that part!

The white chocolate hardened perfectly so that each Cutie bite had a crunchy half shell. Yum!

Happy Holidays!

White Chocolate Christmas Cuties

Ingredients

6 Cuties Clementines

1 cup white chocolate chips (or dark!)

2 tbsp coconut oil

Christmas sprinkles

Instructions

Peel Cuties and arrange on parchment.

Combine chips and coconut oil in a microwave safe bowl and microwave for 30 seconds, 20 seconds, 10 seconds and continuing on 10 second intervals until melted through. (Total time about 1.5 minutes).

Dip half of a Cutie into chocolate and lay to dry.

Sprinkle sprinkles quickly before chocolate hardens.

Allow to cool completely so a crunchy shell forms on Cutie.

Store in the fridge.

Thanks to Cuties Citrus for sponsoring this post!

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