Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Healthy Eating in 2013

I don't have many new years resolutions this year, but I do have a couple. I am cleaning up my diet. When I say "diet" I don't mean Atkins. The definition of diet is: "The kinds of food that a person, animal, or community habitually eats." So I'm cleaning up what I eat. I want to be a healthier person this year and subsequent years. This change didn't exactly start January 1st, I've been researching quite a bit for the past several months and what better time to throw it all into action than the first of the year? So, I present my Guide to Healthy Eating for 2013. Mind you I'm no expert but I do have quite a bit of time on my hands and Google at my fingertips.

My first and favorite discovery: Coconut oil! When I run across several people all singing the praise of a certain product I usually go home and research that product. Well, I did just that and am in love with coconut oil. I was one of the millions of people that always categorized coconut oil in the list of bad oils....because of the saturated fat content. It is high in saturated fat, but not all saturated fats are created equally. "The main saturated fat in coconut oil is lauric acid, a medium chain fatty acid. Lauric acid increases levels of good HDL, or high-density lipoprotein, and bad LDL, or low-density lipoprotein, in the blood, but is not thought to negatively affect the overall ratio of the two -Marisa Moore, a spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association"

The key here is to use non-refined, non-hydrogenated, cold pressed virgin coconut oil. The two most exciting things I read about coconut oil was this: "People who take coconut oil also tend to have improvements in how they handle blood sugar, for coconut can help improve insulin use within the body. -Dr. Oz" My blood sugar levels can be a bit crazy at times so this intrigued me. The other thing: "One 2009 study found that women who consumed 2 tablespoons of coconut oil daily for 12 weeks not only did not gain more weight, but actually had lowered amounts of abdominal fat, a type of fat that is difficult to lose, and contributes to more heart problems -Dr. Oz website". I promptly went to and ordered myself a jug of Organic Virgin Coconut Oil. I mix 1 Tablespoon in my smoothie every morning and it keeps my energy levels high and I don't feel the "morning low" in blood sugar. I've started replacing it in some of my baking, using it instead of butter or vegetable oil, with fantastic results. I won't even start on the benefits of coconut oil as a beauty aide. It's a fantastic moisturizer (my rough heels on my feet are nearly soft again!), wrinkle reducer, make-up remover, natural deodorant and hair conditioner. I am in love with coconut oil.

 Next favorite discovery: PB2. I admit to reading several bloggers who rave about this product and never knowing what they were talking about. One day I decided to Google it and what I came up with was a powdered peanut butter. You might be asking yourself why you would want peanut butter in a powdered form?

Because all of the oil and fat has been removed. You are left with the taste and decadence of peanut butter but none of the calories or fat (still has 45 calories per 2 tablespoons vs 190 calories and 15 grams of fat in regular PB). I decided to give it a try and bought a container of it off of Amazon (can you tell I love Amazon and my Prime membership?). So it came in the mail and I decided to try it in a smoothie. Threw some Almond milk, 2T PB2, cocoa powder, a packet of Stevia and some ice cubes in a blender. It was wonderful! I'm a faithful calorie counter so the thought of having my PB without the guilt was exciting. Then I discovered they made a chocolate PB2. It has dutch cocoa added. It's my new favorite thing.

 Next great thing: Chia Seeds. Yep, the little seeds you use to make Chia Pets with. Who knew they were so good for you! You probably know how good flax seeds are for you, well chia seeds are better and they don't spoil like flax seed does. These little tiny seeds are packed full of antioxidants, reduce food cravings, reduce blood pressure, they are the richest plant source of Omega-3s (they have more Omega-3 than salmon!) and they can help control blood sugars. Another plus over flax seed is you don't have to break them up to gain the benefits, just eat em whole. I mix a tablespoon in my morning smoothie and they add a nice nutty flavor. I enjoy them and their health benefits. I found a pound of them at our local grocery store for $10, the only bag they had was Bob's Red Mill.

Last of my favorite health foods: Liquid Stevia. I've only recently become a fan of Stevia. I used to sweeten my tea with honey which would generally always create a roller coaster ride from the blood sugar high then low. It had to go. So I did my research and settled on Stevia. It's an herb in the Chrysanthemum family that is ten times sweeter than sugar. It's a safe, all-natural, alternative to sugar and artificial sweeteners. I've tried the powdered form and it's ok but I really like the liquid, alcohol free version. Of course they sell it on Amazon. I believe 8 drops is equivalent to a teaspoon of sugar. It sweetens my tea without any after taste, I love it! I've been experimenting using it in baking and the results are great. Give it a try if you are worried about using artificial sweeteners (like I am).   

I feel like I could go on but I'll stop here. Perhaps this list has inspired you to do your own research about a product that is out there to improve your own health. Good luck!