Trans Fat Scam


Trans fat is no joke. Have you ever dropped a fast food french fry in your car and days or even months later your come across it while cleaning your car out and it immaculately looks the same? This is trans fat at it’s finest. Rule of thumb here folks….if it can survive an apocalypse…DON’T EAT IT.

Trans fat is made by adding hydrogen to vegetable oil through a process called hydrogenation. The reason they do this is to make the oil less likely to spoil. Using trans fats in the manufacturing of foods helps foods stay “fresh” longer, have a longer shelf life. You can find trans fat in everything from packaged baked goods to deep fried foods. Fast food restaurants usually use trans fat oils because they give french fries a nice golden crisp.

Why is it bad? Trans fat can’t be digested so your body recognizes it as saturated fat. It raises your bad (LDL) cholesterol and lowers your good (HDL) cholestrol levels. This increases your chances of heart disease which is the leading killer of men and women in the U.S. There is also evidence that links trans fats to cancer, diabetes, infertility in women, and Alzheimer’s disease. It is considered to be the worst oil you can ingest.

So what’s the dirty scam? Well…if you are not a savvy label reader, you are being lied to if you don’t catch the dirty words that tell you that trans fat is STILL lurking in your food even though the box claims to be free of trans fat. Although in 2006 the FDA required that all manufacturers  list the trans fat content of their products in the food labels, they also gave these food producers the ability to list 0 grams of trans fat per serving if the serving contains less than .5 grams because it “rounds down to zero”. Many food manufacturers didn’t actually remove or reduce the trans fat content from their products but instead decreased the serving size so that it could reflect .5 grams to be rounded down therefore scamming the American people. As usual they find labeling loopholes and could give a rat’s ass about your health.

How can you avoid consuming trans fat? Well my first piece of advice is to eat whole fresh foods and stray from eating packaged processed foods. But if you must then you need to READ the INGREDIENTS. Don’t let them fool you! If you encounter the ingredients: HYDROGENATED or PARTIALLY HYDROGENATED OILS in the ingredients label then you know for sure the food contains trans fat even though it says 0 trans fat in the nutrition facts. In this case “zero” really doesn’t mean zero so get smart!

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Did You Get Your Flax Seed Today?


Golden Flax Seed

Nowadays, flax seed is in many packaged products. You can’t walk through a grocery store without finding some kind of bread, cereal, or cracker without flax seed in it. You can clearly see how food manufacturers are trying to capitalize on this super-food. Flax seed is ahhhhhmazing. If you are as health concious as I am…you probably know the truth about how good this stuff is for you and the PROPER way to consume it in order to reap the benefits.

For starters, if it’s in packaged food, it is usually left in its whole form which is useless because your body cannot break down the hull around the seed to get to the real nutritious stuff inside. If you are buying a packaged product just because of the flax seed…don’t waste your money. Packaged processed food items usually come with excess fat, sugar, sodium and preservatives to name the obvious. So here is a breakdown of how to consume flax the proper way:

  1. Buy it in whole form, preferably organic (I use golden flax)
  2. Grind it right BEFORE you are going to eat it. 1 tablespoon measured (before grinding) a day is all you need. I use a small coffee grinder that cost me $15. 
  3. If you need to grind enough for a few days, REFRIGERATE it! Flax meal goes rancid quickly.

Don’t bother with flax oil because it’s concentrated calories and you don’t reap many of the benefits as you would eating it by grinding it. Don’t buy it already ground up unless it has been refrigerated.

Now…why should you consume flax seed? Well, flax seed has all sorts of healthy components but has earned a reputation for three primary ingredients:

  1. Fiber – Flaxseed contains both the soluble and insoluble types which lowers the risk of constipation therefore promoting colon health.
  2. Omega-3 essential fatty acids – Also known as the “good” fats that have been shown to have heart-healthy effects. No need to get this from fish! Each tablespoon of ground flaxseed contains about 1.8 grams of plant omega-3s. The ultra-high levels of omega-3 fatty acids lower LDL (bad) cholesterol levels.
  3. Lignans- Flaxseed contains 75-800 times more lignans (a phytonutirent) than other plant foods. Lignins have anti-cancer properties, especially in relation to estrogen-linked cancers like breast. Lignins flush excess estrogen out of the body and also seem to have antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral properties.

How do I get this in my diet? Well, it’s pretty darn easy. Primarily I add my ground flax seed to my smoothies in the mornings for breakfast. You can also add it to your oatmeal, cereal, on top of salads or fruit, and in a soy yogurt. It gives a nutty flavor and doesn’t taste bad so you can actually just eat a tablespoon of it and chase it with water or juice. I find the best way to add it to my daughter’s diet is with a smoothie or in her oatmeal. Enjoy your flax and all of it’s super benefits!

 

 

Churros!


Churros

Churros…need I say more? Crispy on the outside, gooey on the inside, covered in cinnamon and sugar. YUM! I remember going to festivals and enjoying them every chance I could get. Of course as an adult the guilt of how unhealthy churros are sets in and I began to avoid them. So, since I am in the process of writing my very own plant based latin cook book, I wanted to have these tasty treats on the list. I didn’t think they would turn out that great especially on my first try in making them healthy but to my surprise it was a success! I was too excited about them to keep the recipe under wraps until my book is done so here they are! Just for my readers! Post a comment and let me know how your churros turn out. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

¼ cup applesauce

2 ¾ cups water

¼ cup raw sugar

½ tsp sea salt

1 tsp baking powder

½ tsp cinnamon

2 cups whole wheat flour

Extra cinnamon and raw sugar for dusting

*You will need a piping bag, medium sized star tip, non-stick Silpat or wax paper.

Method:

Combine water, applesauce, sugar, and sea salt in a medium sized pot and bring to boil stirring occasionally. While water mixture is heating, combine whole-wheat flour, baking powder, and cinnamon in a small bowl. Turn off heat and add flour mixture to water mixture and stir vigorously until mixture forms into a thick, sticky consistency. If it’s too dry, add a little water at a time and mix until you get a sticky consistency. Let cool for about 10 minutes or until easy to handle but still warm.

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Using non-stick spray, lightly spray the inside of your piping bag and medium sized star tip. Spoon mixture into a piping bag and fill it a little more than half way. The mixture is very thick so it requires more force than actual icing to pipe.

Using a baking sheet lined with a Silpat or wax paper, pipe logs of dough approximately 5 inches long. You may do them any size you want but the longer they get the more likely they are to break easily. Once you have covered your sheet with logs, dust with raw sugar and cinnamon and bake about 12 minutes or until slightly browned on the outside. Remove from oven and let them sit for about 2 minutes.

Using a spatula, gently remove them from the pan and serve warm. You may dust with more sugar and cinnamon if needed. For a move festive look, dust churros with confectioner’s sugar.

 

Ch-Ch-Ch-Chia!


Chia Seeds

Behind every corny chia pet…there is a chia seed! I love this super food and if you aren’t already consuming it then here is some healthful information that will make you want to. Chia seed is a member of the mint family and gives a nutty flavor. They are gluten-free and loaded with antioxidants, fiber, protein, calcium, iron, phosphorus, magnesium, manganese, copper, molybdenum, niacin and zinc.

The high soluble fiber content aides in digestion and because they can hold 9-12 times its weight in liquid it is said you can lose weight because it makes you feel “fuller”. Now why is this seed so super? They are one of the richest botanical source of alpha-linolenic acid or ALA which is an omega-3 essential fatty acid. ALA metabolizes into other essential fatty acids like DHA and EPA which is necessary for normal brain function and development. ALA is not naturally made in our bodies so we must obtain it from food. ALA has also shown to  protect against cardiovascular and autoimmune diseases.

I recently began adding the seeds back in to my smoothies and have noticed the fuller feeling but don’t take my word for it! Try it for yourself. Ancient Aztec warriors used chia seeds for energy, increased stamina, and to relieve joint pain after a long day of battle. It might be a good idea to consume pre or post a good workout! Now lets face it folks…these seeds may be pretty bad ass but this doesn’t mean you can eat crap all day and expect these chia seeds to get you pumped with energy or shed weight. Regardless of how many super foods you are incorporating in to your diet…if your eating nothing but junk you’re not doing yourself any favors. It’s the totality of your diet that counts!

As for incorporating them in to your diet, that’s pretty darn easy. Smoothies are my favorite way to do it but you can also add them to your oatmeal, cold cereal, soy yogurt, baked goods, or salads. A fun way to incorporate them is to make a “tapioca” like pudding with them. It’s super easy and the kids will love it! You can get chia seeds online or at your nearest health food store.  Please note that if you have an allergy to mustard seed or sesame seed you may be allergic to chia seed. I have included the recipe below for you to try. If you happen to try it out, let me know what you think and post a comment!

Chia Seed Pudding

Serves: 1 to 2

Ingredients
1/4 whole chia seeds
1 cup almond milk (or other non-dairy milk)
Chopped fresh fruit, for topping (optional)
Dash of cinnamon

For chocolate flavor: add 1 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder (or to taste)
For vanilla flavor: add a few drops of vanilla extract

Optional ways to sweeten:
1 banana (blended in the blender with plant milk) or
2 to 3 dates, pitted (blended in blender with plant milk) or
Agave nectar to taste

Directions
Place the chia seeds in a bowl or covered container.  Pour the milk over the chia seeds, add dash of cinnamon and stir well. (If using the banana and/or dates, blend them in a food processor or blender with the milk, cinnamon, and ingredients for the flavor you want.

Soak on the counter for at least 20 minutes until thickened, or cover and soak in the fridge overnight.  I prefer to soak them over night. If you use agave to sweeten then stir it in well after soaking. Stir before serving, and top with fresh fruit. Enjoy!

Vegan Cheese Sauce


Vegan Nachos with Black Beans

I am crazy about vegan nachos 🙂 I can honestly say that vegan cheese is not bad. There are some good brands, some bad ones and some down right sneaky ones that still have casein in the ingredient list so beware that even though it says “soy cheese” READ YOUR LABELS!

Cheese seems to be something people have a hard time giving up. It’s addicting and oh so tasty BUT it’s still pure fat, acidic, and cancer promoting among many other things. So to help others satisfy cheese addictions, I am posting a great dairy free cheese sauce recipe I got from a friend of mine but I have changed it up just a bit and added salsa (homemade or store bought) to turn in to nacho cheese sauce. You can also use this recipe for cheese sauce for mac-n-cheese, scalloped potatoes, in a casserole, for chili cheese dogs, as a dip, or on a baked potato. The possibilities are endless and trust me…I have used it for all of the above mentioned meals. My meat and dairy eating family and friends loved this sauce so that should be enough to make you want to try it!

Nutritional Yeast

The most important ingredient is nutritional yeast which is an inactive yeast that contains b-vitamins and amino acids and gives a cheesy flavor to vegan dishes. It’s basically used as a seasoning and can also be sprinkled on homemade popcorn for a tasty treat. You can buy nutritional yeast from any health food store. In Las Vegas I buy mine from Sunflower Market and its found in the bulk bins. If you are not near a health food store you can also buy it online. Be sure not to confuse nutritional yeast with brewers yeast. I must also mention that it takes me 5 minutes to make this sauce which has been great for those days when you need a super quick meal with little to no effort and it’s healthy! So here it is folks:

Ingredients:

2 cups unsweetened plant milk (I use organic soy)                                                           set aside 1/4 cup to be mixed with corn starch

2 tbs of corn starch

1/3 to 1/2 cup nutritional yeast

1 tsp sea salt (or to taste)

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1/2 tsp onion powder

A dash of pepper (optional)

Directions:

Heat 1 3/4 cup plant milk in a small pot. Add seasonings and nutritional yeast and mix well. Meanwhile it heats through, mix in corn starch with remaining plant milk. When the sauce comes to a light simmer, whisk in corn starch mixture and keep mixing while it thickens to prevent clumping.

To make nacho cheese sauce just add 1/2 cup of your favorite salsa. In my family we like to saute fresh onions, tomato, garlic, cilantro, jalapenos or roasted green chile and add that to our cheese sauce.  You can also leave the sauce as is and mix it in with whole grain pasta for mac-n-cheese. Add sauce to thinly sliced potatoes and bake to make scalloped potatoes. I have an idea for creating a pizza with this cheese sauce that I want to try. Get creative and use it on whatever your heart desires! If you try it let me know what you think and post a comment!

Vanessa Chamberlin


Last week I had the pleasure of attending the Health Healing & Happiness Conference at the beautiful Springs Preserve in Las Vegas. At the conference I got to hear a dear friend of mine Vanessa Chamberlin speak about her touching story and how she over came her trials and tribulations including the loss of her husband. By focusing on herself through plant-based nutrition, she found her own Self Worth, Self Respect, and Self Love.

I honestly thought I knew Vanessa pretty well but after hearing her speak, I realized there is a lot more to this tough little cookie and she really does know what loving yourself is all about. I don’t think I can express how grateful I am to have met her. She honestly came at a time in my life when I truly needed her. She has been a mentor, a cheerleader, and support system in my new healthy lifestyle. She has opened doors for me and has encouraged me to follow my true passion….teaching people how to live healthier! I can honestly say that her belief in me has given me the confidence to spread my wings.

Vanessa speaks on a wide variety of topics regarding health and wellness through plant-based nutrition. Vanessa is a Certified Holistic Health Practitioner and Lifestyle Coach.  She has nutrition certifications from Cornell University, SUNY Purchase, and the Wellness Forum Certified Lifestyle Medicine Practitioner.  The Institute Of Integrative Nutrition made her a Certified Holistic Health Coach, and she is accredited through the American Association of Drugless Practitioners (AADP).

Vanessa and her daughters Bella & Bianca

As a mother, she has also given me great advice on nurturing my child the plant-based way. She truly is inspirational and I am grateful to have her in my life which is why I want to share her fun, loving wisdom with my readers. If you want a dose of Vanessa’s “Plantfire” lifestyle you can visit her website and sign up for her newsletter which is always loaded with great information and recipes too! Vanessa is also available for public speaking and is a regular nutrition and fashion contributor for the radio show Charlotte’s Las Vegas on The Talk of Las Vegas KLAV AM 1230 and VegasAllNetRadio.com. She can be followed on facebook, twitter, pinterest, and youtube. One of my favorite parts of her website is the Restaurant Guide which is loaded with great vegan friendly restaurants in major cities as well as her Plantfire recipes. As if this isn’t resourceful enough…Vanessa has her own couture line of mother & daughter Chicfire aprons to plant-base cook in style because as Vanessa see’s it “Everyone should look and feel fabulous in the kitchen!”. Lastly, Vanessa has also recently finished her first soon to be released book entitled ‘Beauty Starts in the Kitchen’ which I can’t wait to read! I hope you all will find Vanessa just as helpful and resourceful as I have. 🙂

Meal Planning Made Easy


Chickpea Tacos from Happy Herbivore

I have recently been asked about meal planning especially for families. Going plant based can be intimidating at first especially if all your life you were use to meat being the center of attention at every meal. Let me just say this…DON’T STRESS! Don’t overwhelm yourself because it’s likely you will throw in the towel after a week. If you are new to plant based (vegan or near vegan) lifestyle, take it slow. Start with Meatless Mondays and stretch it out from there as you familiarize yourself with ingredients, substitutions, and lovely appliances that make your life EASIER! It’s a learning process to change your lifestyle, because this IS a lifestyle but before you know it you will be a pro. It will come as second nature to you when your walking through the grocery store picking out the items you already know are healthy and making meals you are familiar with. Also, don’t give up even if you give in. If you fall off the wagon with a bag of Doritos, some Hostess cupcakes, and 2 liter of soda, it happens….don’t beat yourself up. That nagging stomach pain and queasy feeling will help get you back on track. 😉 We are not striving for perfection here! We all have lives, and most people have children so if you veer off track a bit due to life, it’s understandable.

So, for all my plant based newbies I decided to give you a few tips and great cookbook and website recommendations that have saved me from throwing in the towel. You may or may not be familiar with some ingredients so if you come across something you don’t know, Google it or ask me.

One of my favorite cookbooks is Happy Herbivore and you can purchase it through my Amazon store (paper back or digital). It’s very reasonable and worth every penny! It was also very informative with definitions of ingredients. The author Lindsay S. Nixon is available on facebook and her blog to ask questions or give feedback. She’s amazing and very helpful. She also creates 7 day meal plans for individuals or families with new recipes every week that are absolute time savers. It’s equipped with food shopping lists and you won’t have left overs! The plans also include a weekly calendar, simple directions, and a snack guide. Meal plans start at 1,200 calories which can be adjusted if you’re looking for more calories in your diet. As if it couldn’t get any better…the plans are just $5 and a new one is released every Wednesday. This definitely takes a load off!

I can’t tell you how many vegan food blogs I have comes across but not all are created equal. The trick is to avoid oils in your food. We get enough oils that are already found in whole foods. One website I absolutely love and recommend that you sign up for notifications is www.FatFreeVegan.com This website is full of great recipes and I love that I can type in an ingredient like “eggplant” and a list of recipes containing this ingredient will come up and I can search for the one that is appealing to me and that I have all or most ingredients to make.

These are the top two “go to” sources for meals that I turn to and I am sure you will find them just as useful. I have also downloaded apps on my phone such  as YumYum and 21 Day Veg Kickstart which is also equipped with recipes. Vegan Xpress app is great for when you are on the go and want to find a vegan friendly restaurant near you. Lastly, there are a few kitchen appliances and tools I use to help make things a little easier with meal preparation and you can also find these on my Amazon store. I wish all you newbies the best of luck and if you live in the Las Vegas area I am available as your Health Coach and I can take you on a grocery store tour to help you food shop as well as cooking demos and kitchen pantry/refrigerator clean outs. Happy meal preparation!