The Sticky on Sugar

One of the biggest questions I hear when it comes to nutrition advice is about sugar. In recent decades, sugar, in some form, has shown up in just about every product, often listed as something other than “sugar”, and that has caused a lot of confusion even for the most trained food label readers. In truth, added sugars account for 17% of the daily calorie intake in the average American adult diet-and almost as much in the average child’s diet (14%).

You’ve likely heard all about the dangers of refined sugar. It increases the risks of chronic disease, increases the chance of weight gain, and affects insulin levels and hormones. Sugar consumption affects the skin, causing both acne and even a reduction of collagen, which leads to wrinkles and sagging. Sugar intake can increase energy for brief amounts of time, but this only leads to a crash in blood sugar and leads to even more periods of low energy. Sugar creates inflammation in the body that leads to pain and damage to the cells.  In totality, sugar has the ability to badly affect all of the organs of the body, leading to general all over poor health. Sugar also has absolutely no nutritional value, but has 16 calories a teaspoon.

Removing added sugar from our diets is not the easiest thing to do, unless you decide to eat a completely and entirely whole food diet. If that’s not something you wish to take on, but wish to cut as much sugar as possible in your current diet, consider the following suggestions:

*Be a label reader, and know your sugar words. These include words that end with “ose” like, fructose, maltose, lactose, and dextrose. Another huge culprit that has entered our food production is high fructose corn syrup, which is a chemically enhanced version of sugar that has caused quite the negative conversations within the nutrition community because this form may have even worse affects on the body than pure sugar.

 *Try to eat as many whole foods as possible, and limit your packaged and processed foods greatly. To accomplish this, try planning your meals by focusing only by what is on the perimeter of your market-produce, meats, seafood, and dairy. Choose whole grain breads and cereals without added sugar, and if you buy canned foods, check the label for sugars.

*Limit your condiments!! Most of these products are full of sugar!

*Removing sugar from the diet can be a daunting experience, but well worth it. Start small! Set your first goal to something you can easily achieve, like giving up sugary drinks like sodas and sweetened juices. After accomplishing that, try removing sugar from another aspect of your diet, perhaps removing sweets, or using a healthy substitute like Swerve when baking. Make small changes as you progress to easily remove sugar from your diet.

Removing Sugar!

As you remove sugar from your diet, and replace those foods with whole, fresh foods, you will experience many benefits:

*Enhanced Energy Levels

Refined sugar enters your bloodstream almost instantly which causes your energy levels quickly surge and crash. When you start to eat less refined sugar, these fluctuations in energy levels will become a thing of the past and you’ll find that you generally have much more energy throughout the day. Not only does this help you feel great but it also makes you much more productive and allows you to perform all your daily tasks effectively.

*Younger Looking Skin

One of the biggest negatives of consuming refined sugar is that it damages your skin in numerous ways.

First, it causes the collagen and elastin in your skin to become inflamed. These structural proteins help your skin stay firm and youthful looking. When they constantly become inflamed as a result of regularly eating large amounts of refined sugar, they become less effective which causes your skin to sag and wrinkles to form.

Second, the inflammation caused by eating sugar has been shown to aggravate various skin disorders including acne (a disorder characterized by red pimples on the skin) and rosacea (a skin disorder characterized by burning and redness).

When you stop eating refined sugar, you’ll also stop damaging your skin in the ways described above and you’ll find that it looks much smoother, more vibrant and youthful.

*Easier Weight Loss

Sugars passes through the digestive system very quickly and because of this, foods that contain high levels of sugar aren’t as satiating as foods that contain minimal amounts of sugar. This means it’s much easier to overeat and consume large amounts of calories that lead to weight gain when you’re eating lots of refined sugar.

Quitting sugar will mean that you’ll feel much fuller every time you eat and naturally eat less food. Food cravings will come less often and because you’re consuming fewer calories, it will be much easier to lose weight.

*Better Sleep

The energy surges and crashed caused by eating lots of refined sugar are very disruptive to your sleep patterns. They make it difficult to sleep and have a negative impact on your sleep quality when you do manage to fall asleep.

Cutting sugar out of your diet stops it wreaking havoc on your sleep cycles and allows you to enjoy restful, better quality sleep.

*Stronger Immunity

Numerous studies have shown that refined sugar is a huge contributor to chronic disease. It causes inflammation in the body, damages your blood vessels and has a negative impact on your vital organs which leaves you open to a wide range of ailments, illness and diseases.

Reducing your intake of refined sugar stops it damaging your body in this way and allows it to heal. Not only does this make you less susceptible to ailments that are directly caused by refined sugar but it also boosts your overall immunity.

Replacing the Sweet

If you’re looking for ways to keep your sweet tooth, but eliminate sugar, try one of these healthy sugar substitutes! If you’re tracking your calorie intake, be sure to check the calories before using these.

Stevia

Stevia is one of the most popular natural sweeteners. This herb, which comes from South America, is 300 times sweeter than refined sugar. It contains zero calories, so is a great choice if you’re trying to lose weight. Plus, it has no glycemic impact, so it’s a perfect refined sugar alternative if you’re diabetic. Stevia is also very easy to digest which means you won’t suffer from any of the digestive problems that are often associated with sugar substitutes.

*Coconut Sugar

Coconut sugar is created through the heating the sap from coconut palms. Unlike refined sugar, coconut sugar doesn’t de-stabilize your energy levels, so is ideal if you want to stay productive and focused during the day. Like stevia, it’s also a great choice if you suffer from diabetes because it won’t disrupt your blood sugar levels. Another great thing about coconut sugar is that it supplies your body with nutrients as it sweetens and is a good source of calcium, iron, potassium and zinc. 10 calories a teaspoon.

*Date Sugar

Date sugar is made by grinding down dehydrated dates into sugar sized granules. As you’d expect from the production process, it has the same rich and sweet flavor of fresh dates, and shares all their health benefits. These health benefits include promoting healthy digestion, strengthening your heart and lowering your blood pressure. The main negative of date sugar is that it doesn’t melt or dissolve easily, so it’s not a good choice if you want to sweeten your drinks. 15 calories a teaspoon

*Honey

Honey is sweeter than refined sugar and has a much greater range of health benefits. It contains high levels of vitamins and minerals which support many vital processes within the body. It also has antibacterial and antifungal properties, so is a perfect sweetener for boosting your immunity. Unlike refined sugar, honey is also great for your skin and can help make it brighter, smoother and more radiant. It tastes great in tea and can also be used as a replacement for sugar in many recipes. 21 calories a teaspoon

*Maple Syrup

Maple syrup contains around half the calories of refined sugar and is a much more nutritious choice. It’s loaded with antioxidants which protect your body’s cells from damage and reduce the visible signs of aging. Maple syrup is also a brilliant source of the manganese and zinc which boost your metabolism and your immune system. In addition to this, it’s great for your skin and can protect against skin blemishes, dry skin and redness. Finally, maple syrup has been shown to protect against a range of chronic ailments and diseases including arthritis, cancer, diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease and heart disease. Make sure your maple syrup is pure, with no added sugars! 17 calories a teaspoon

If you have questions about your sugar intake, or how to remove sugar from your diet by setting small attainable goals, feel free to contact me

Let’s Eat for POWER (Super Yummy Recipes with Only 5 Whole Ingredients!)

I recently released my free cookbook full of super healthy 5 ingredient recipes on my website, and I wanted to be sure to share them here with you! This cookbook offers 19 recipes for breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and even desserts that are full of superfoods and whole ingredients to provide you with powerful nutrients for energy and vitality-and they are super yummy as well!

To give you a sneak peek, I want to share a dessert recipe here for you to try!

Ingredients

2 cups (250g) all-purpose whole wheat flour
3 tsp. baking powder
1 cup (180g) coconut sugar
1 egg
2 apples, peeled, cored and cut into chucks

½ cup coconut oil, melted (panty ingredient)

Preheat the oven to 360°F (180°C). Prepare an 8-inch (20cm) baking tin lined with baking paper.
 
Place the flour, baking powder and sugar into a large bowl and mix well. Add in the egg and melted coconut oil and stir until combined.
 
Now add in the apples; using your hands incorporate them into the batter.
 
Place the batter into the lined tin and bake for 35-40 minutes. Once ready remove from the oven and allow to cool. Store this cake in an airtight container.

Serves: 12
Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 40 mins

Nutrition per serving:
227 kcal 10g Fats
36g Carbs 2g Protein

This is a “bonus” recipe, not included in the cookbook, just for you!

For more recipes including Protein Pancakes, Stuffed Peppers, Slow Cooked Fajitas, Black bean brownies, and many more, simply go to www.beewell.com/recipes to download your copy now!

get your free copy now!

Dip into a Healthy Game!

It’s Superbowl Weekend, which means it’s time for football friendly snacking!  Even though parties are still on the backburner, I’m offering up a few yummy and super healthy crowd-pleasing dips that are a convenient and delicious way to consume a wide variety of anti-inflammatory vegetables, spices, and healthy fats. While we love the convenience of purchased dips like packaged hummus, many brands contain unnecessary levels of fat and preservatives. Making dips yourself allows you to control the flavor and quality – and it’s easy!

The best dips begin with a creamy base made from foods such as beans, lentils, avocados, edamame, and roasted vegetables [eggplant, carrots, squash, zucchini, peppers, cauliflower] that are blended with oil or another liquid. Add flavor boosters such as tahini, garlic, hot sauce, nut butters, nuts and seeds, lemon or lime juice and zest to add dimension. Finish by seasoning with fresh and dried herbs, spices, salt and pepper and your dip is complete. Here are some of our favorite combinations with healthy “vehicle to your mouth” ideas:

Ingredient and flavor combinations

  • Chickpea hummus [and other beans] – The classic chickpea base is very versatile and can be made with any bean. Add tahini, garlic, lemon, and cumin to chickpeas for a traditional version. Variations include [but are not limited to] roasted red pepper, lemon kale, Moroccan carrot, roasted zucchini, kalamata olive, spicy sriracha, and creamy pesto. Try this crowd-pleasing version for Lemon Dill Hummus!
  • Avocado, AKA guacamole! We love the healthy fats in avocado, but the calories can be intimidating. Cut the amount of avocado in half by adding defrosted edamame beans – you will decrease the calories and increase the protein. Win, win. Add some greens to keep your dip bright and fresh. This Kale and Avocado Guacamole is a team favorite.
  • Roasted vegetables – Baba ganoush is the ultimate example here – a combination of roasted eggplant, tahini, lemon, and garlic. Other roasted vegetables that work well in dips are butternut squash, cauliflower, zucchini, carrots, and peppers. Roasting them allows you to process vegetables until creamy. Start with store-bought for this nutrient-dense and super flavorful Roasted Red Pepper Walnut Dip.

Vehicles: (GET IN MY MOUTH!)

  • Carrot chips or sticks – You can purchase prepared crinkle cut carrot chips or slice carrots on angle. Baby carrots work too.
  • Cucumber chips – Slice cucumbers on an angle to maximize surface area for scooping.
  • Broccoli or cauliflower – Lightly steam these vegetables to bring out their sweetness – you want them to still have the firmness necessary to dip.
  • Green beans – Remove stems, rinse, and dip. If you prefer, you can lightly steam these as well.
  • Endive – This nutrient dense vegetable is the ultimate chip – perfect shape, size, and sturdiness.
  • Peppers – Red, yellow, and orange peppers provide a variety of phytonutrients and are milder than green peppers.
  • Celery sticks – Firm and crisp, celery is a go to vehicle.
  • Snap peas – These can be consumed raw or lightly steamed.

Cherry tomatoes – We love using grape tomatoes on our crudités platters, but dipping them can be tricky. Using toothpicks can help keep your fingers free of dip.

I hope you get a chance to try them while watching the game. Go Team!!!

Roasted Red Pepper and Walnut Dip

Ingredients

4 roasted red peppers, If jarred peppers, drain and rinse (fresh roasted red peppers work too)

1 Tbs olive oil


3 Tbs balsamic vinegar

1/2 tsp cumin, ground

1 lemon, juiced (for 2 Tbs juice)

1 clove garlic, chopped


1 cup walnuts, raw


1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

salt, to taste

Directions

Prep

Drain and rinse roasted red peppers. If using freshly roasted red peppers, you can leave the skin on. 


Chop garlic. 


Make

Add all ingredients to a food processor and process until creamy with a bit of texture. 


Garnish with some additional walnuts and a drizzle of olive oil. Season with salt to taste. 


Serve with fresh vegetables like endive. 


Servings 4

Calories  242

Fat 22.6g    Saturated Fat 2.3g

Carbohydrates 8g   Dietary Fiber 2g     Sugars  4g

Protein 5g

Kale and Edamame Guacamole

Ingredients

4 avocados


4 cup shelled edamame, defrosted (peas work well too)


2 cup kale, spines removed and chopped


1/2 cup lime juice


2 cup cherry tomatoes, chopped


1/4 cup red onion, chopped


2 Cloves garlic, pressed or minced


2 tsp ground cumin 


1 tsp salt


hot sauce, as desired

Directions

Prep

Remove spines and chop kale. 


Juice lime. 


Chop cherry tomatoes. 


Press or mince garlic cloves. 


Make

Cut avocados in half, remove pit, and scoop flesh into food processor. Add beans, kale, and lime juice and pulse until creamy. Add some water if you need some more creaminess or more lime juice to increase tartness. 


Add tomatoes, onion, garlic, cumin to processor and pulse until just combined 


Stir in hot sauce and salt to taste. 


Serve with baked chips and raw vegetables. 


Servings 12

Calories  196

Fat  13g   Saturated Fats 2.3

Carbohydrates    15g     Dietary Fiber  9g     Sugars   5g

Protein  9g

Lemon Dill Hummus

Ingredients

1 (15 oz.) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1 Tbs tahini paste


1 lemon, zested and juiced


1 Clove garlic

1/4 cup olive oil


2 Tbs dill, fresh, chopped

1/4 cup scallions, chopped

salt, to taste


pepper, to taste

Directions

Prep

Drain and rinse chickpeas. 


Zest and juice lemon. 


Chop dill, scallions, garlic. 


Make

Add chickpeas, tahini, 1 teaspoon lemon zest, juice of lemon [about 3 tablespoons], and garlic to a food processor. Pulse until combined. 


Run processor while adding olive oil and continue running until hummus is smooth, stopping to scrape down sides. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Add more lemon juice if desired. 


Add dill and scallions and pulse to combine. Do not run too long or the dip will turn green. 


Serve with your favorite vegetables. 


Servings 8

Calories 117

Total Fat 8.5g   Saturated Fat 1g

Carbohydrates 9g   Dietary Fiber  2g   Sugars 1g

Protein  3g

PLAY BALL Win the Game with Food Focus

It’s been a long year of lockdowns and quarantine, and many of our favorite activities have been postponed or cancelled. BUT, sports are back, and if you are like me, that’s something to celebrate and enjoy. In my family, there’s almost always a sports program on the tv, and when the big games are on, it becomes a real party. Pizza shows up at the door, bags of snacks get piled onto the counters, and depending on the game, there’s usually some wine or beer. Some of our favorite family memories start out this way!

Watching televised sports has become one of our biggest pastimes, as well as a huge social event for many. Friends and families gather and build traditions around watching their favorite sports teams and EATING. This can lead to some huge challenges for those of us that aspire to live and eat healthy. The typical foods found at most sports parties, and even most stadium venues, are mostly high in fat and calories, and low in actual nutrients. The most popular “sports” foods, according to a quick Google search, are pizza, wings, nachos, chips, dessert foods, and of course, beer and soda. After taking into consideration that the average male needs about 2000 calories a day, and the average female needs about 1600, let’s take a look at what the “average” person might find themselves munching on as they cheer on their favorite teams for several hours each week:

  • 2 slices of pepperoni pizza
  • 6 wings
  • Nachos with cheese and toppings
  • Endless amounts various chips (but let’s say 2 servings)
  • 4 cookies
  • 2 beers (only 2!)
  • 2 sodas

Does that sound about right? Have you found yourself eating this way? I know this happens in my house!

This, my friend, is 2800 calories worth of food-with a whopping 100 grams of FAT. Add a loss by your favorite team, and you might find you had a really bad day!!

Fortunately, there are lots of easy and fun ways to combat this sort of pattern of “sports” eating. Offering healthier options, making it a point to get up and move during the game, and drinking more water can all help curb this crazy intake of calories and fat, and even add some fun to the day.

Sports can get pretty emotional, (I threw a vacuum cleaner down the steps after a bad playoff game once-and my dad broke the bathroom door off the hinges after a bad play when I was a kid…) Sports can also be mind numbingly tedious when nothing really happens inning and inning, quarter after quarter. The emotions, the boredom, the excitement, all lead to mindless eating. Have you ever finished off an entire bag or chips or cookies while engrossed in a tv show? All the sudden, the bag is empty, and you have little memory of even tasting it! This is a huge issue when watching sports. Recognize that, acknowledge it, and make that thought part of your watching plan. 

Some tips for making better choices during your sports and party viewing:

always have healthy options available. Veggie and fruit trays with hummus or lower fat dip are a great start.

choose mustard over mayo on your sandwich or hotdog, and consider skipping the cheese.

cheese or veggie pizza instead of pepperoni or fatty meats, and stick to one slice for a very healthy change.

use a smaller plate for your choices, eat slowly, and don’t eat out of giant bowls or packages.

make the decision to only eat at a certain point of the day perhaps at halftime, or during the 7 inning stretch.

instead of pizza, hotdogs or hamburgers, try some grilled kebabs with lean meats, veggies and fruits. 

if you choose to drink, set a limit to 2 drinks, and have a full glass of water before drinking each one. Alcohol and water intake should always be equal!

do a search for some healthy game day snack recipes (there are TONS) and try a new one out each week.

Now, to add some fun to your day! Let’s get up and move, and get everyone involved with fun and exercise!

make some bets with your family and friends, with crazy exercise as the consequence. Your team scores-they have to do pushups, their team scores-you have to do jumping jacks. This can be done with all aspect of the game, even down to ref calls and uniform choices!

get up and move during commercial breaks, long replay decisions, halftime and the 7th inning stretch. March around the house, step outside for some fresh air and take a quick walk around the yard, or even put on some music and dance for a few minutes.

have a themed “party game” available during game breaks-shoot hoops into a wastepaper basket, throw the ball around in the front yard, be creative and have some fun with it!

Above all, remember that this time is for having fun, relaxing with family and friends, and socializing. The food and drinks are just an added attraction to the day, and partaking in a huge feast of food is not a requirement or expectation. Focus on your family and friends, and your team, and have a great and healthy time!

From my website BeeWell.com