nutrition

There’s No Way You Knew These Things About Berries!

Berry picking season is here! Whether you pick your own berries, get them through a CSA or local market consider adding them to your next meal plan! Berries are loaded with antioxidants, fiber, and immune-boosting vitamin C. This week we are going to deliver the facts on nature’s candy, and spruce up some old Ellipse Classic Recipes!

Let’s start by adding any and all types of berries to our Ellipse Protein Pancakes recipe! Just a few ingredients and they pack a serious nutritional punch!

Strawberries

Strawberries taste best at room temperature, but they are also one of the most perishable! What a paradox…
As soon as you get your berries consume the ones with bruises, they are the ripest. Compost any that show signs of mold. Wash your berries only once you’re ready to eat them. If your berries were commercially produced and may have pesticides on them, soak in a container of water with 1 tsp of baking soda for about 15 minutes before using. Berries will stay best when stored in a single layer, so it might be worth taking them out of the container you generally find them in.

Fun Facts!
• Because of their natural level of nitrate, strawberries have been shown to increase endurance for a workout!
• Strawberries are the only fruit that wear their seeds on the outside! Although that fact means that by technicality strawberries aren’t even a fruit since fruits have their seeds on the inside, like blueberries. Strawberries are part of the rose family. Are you starting to feel like you don’t really know your fruits at all??

Try strawberries by making your own yummy Yogurt Bark!

Blueberries

Blueberries make a great frozen snack right out of the freezer! Freeze your berries by washing, patting dry, and freezing on a cookie sheet in a single layer before moving to a bag or container to freeze for up to a year.

Fun Facts!
• Blueberries can be used as a natural food dye. It’s thought that back in colonial times, colonists boiled blueberries with milk to create grey paint.
• Blueberries are only 1 of 3 fruits native to North America! (Cranberries, Blueberries and Concord Grapes)

Pair blueberries or other types of berries with nectarines and almonds in this delicious and healthy Couscous Fruit Salad!

Raspberries

Raspberries are known as an aggregate fruit, creating bead-like pockets called a drupelets from multiple ovaries (Yes, plants have ovaries). Based on how it grows, each drupelet could be considered a fruit on it its own! Unlike many fruits, unripe raspberries do not ripen after they have been picked. Once it’s picked, that’s that.

Fun Facts!
• One raspberry has approximately 100-120 druplets, meaning EACH raspberry has 100-120 seeds! Got a toothpick?
• Raspberries don’t just come in red, but can be purple, gold or black in colour! The gold ones are the sweetest variety, and very tasty.

Raspberries are a no-brainer addition to so many recipes, but start by mixing them into some Banana “Nice” Cream!

Blackberries

Blackberries, like raspberries, are an aggregate fruit. But unlike raspberries, they are produced from one ovary. With that difference, when you pick a blackberry the center stays intact, unlike a raspberry.

Fun Facts!
• Blackberries were used to treat gout by the ancient Greeks because of their anti-inflammatory properties!
• blackberries are known by a variety of names including brambleberries, dewberries, and thimbleberries.

Add blackberries in to our classic Ellipse Breakfast Muffins!

Fast Facts: Intermittent Fasting

We receive quite a few questions on intermittent fasting. It’s certainly a buzz word today. Well start by saying intermittent fasting has a place in the nutrition and health world and can be right for some people, but before starting any trendy protocol, make sure to start by cleaning up your daily habits. Tossing out the processed foods, limiting sugar and flour intake, and getting back to the basics of vegetables, protein, fruit, and a little bit of healthy fats. For many, simple changes that are CONSISTENT are all that is needed. It’s amazing what can happen when we take these simple steps. Want to know more about eating simple? Try SSSimple Eating: Shake, Salad, Starch basics.

If you feel your portions and quality of food are on par, listen up as we talk more about intermittent fasting, and maybe it could help you break through a plateau.

What is Intermittent fasting?

In its simplest form, intermittent fasting is setting aside a chunk of hours in a day where you fast and a chunk of hours for “feasting”. The most common protocol is a 16/8. This means you fast for 16 hours and eat within a specific 8-hour window like 10 am – 6 pm for instance. This would essentially be skipping what most call breakfast, and cutting out after-dinner snacking. If you have followed the Ellipse Shake, Salad, Starch program, you’ll see that you “ride the fast” and then your first meal of the day is breakfast, whatever time that may be.

Another common format is to satisfy all of your daily nutritional needs in one sitting, essentially taking 24 hours off between feasts. As you can see, when it comes to intermittent fasting, finding a protocol of fasting vs feasting that works best for your body is key. If you choose to go this route, play around with different time frames and fast periods to see how your body responds. Be aware of your energy levels throughout the day and pay attention to signs of fatigue as there is no “one-size-fits-all” method. No matter your fast type, be sure to stay hydrated during fast time!

Why choose intermittent fasting?

Intermittent fasting doesn’t necessarily tell you WHAT foods to eat, just when, which can make it a straightforward, easy to follow plan. Intermittent fasting can help teach your body to use the food it consumes more efficiently. Your body can learn to burn fat as fuel when you deprive it of constant grazing/calories. And of course because you are restricting the time intervals that you eat, over the course of a week most people naturally eat less calories which is part of the reason this method has worked for many.

This method can make your life simpler by having fewer meals to plan for. Some research has been done on animals regarding intermittent fasting but long-term data is not yet available. Our friends at Precision Nutrition do not recommend intermittent fasting for pregnant women, people with disordered eating, chronically stressed people, people who doesn’t sleep well, or someone new to diet and exercise.

In Closing…

Like any way of eating, intermittent fasting can be effective for some, but no process works the same for everyone due to all of our unique bodies, lifestyles, and more. What is important is finding the system that works for you to improve health, performance, and happiness!

Now we know we mentioned it already, but if you struggle with maintaining healthy eating habits you’ve got to check out our new SSSimple Eating guide!

This 58-page guide will show you, step-by-step, how to reach YOUR goals using YOUR preferences, and following YOUR rules without expensive, unrealistic meal plans or fad diets!

what the fat

There are few subjects out there that are shrouded in more mystery, distorted with more bad information, and more coveted by the general public than body fat. Well today we are going to help you learn a little bit more about body fat, and maybe shed some light on a few really interesting – and life altering – facts about that porous, squishy, yellow tissue inside all of us.

Did you know??

We have the potential to develop an increasing number of fat cells into our early 20’s, but after that point we have the number of fat cells we will have for life.

Fat is essential for brain functioning, hormone production, and protection of our organs, however body fat over 25% for men and over 30% for women can become a health hazard! Especially when stored around our internal organs, excess body fat increases our risk of diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.

Did you know??

Obese children produce up to twice the number of fat cells as non-obese children. Obese 2 year-olds only have a 1 in 4 chance of NOT being obese by the time they reach the age of 35.

That means basically 25% of obese children will grow up to be obese! It’s vital that we introduce our children to healthy foods and the joy of movement when they are young. Go out and buy 1 new vegetable or fruit this week, one that even you have not tried before, and have the whole family try it! Make it exciting whatever way you can!

Did you know??

An abundance of fat cells directly leads to a deficiency of leptin – the hormone that tells our brain that we should stop eating because we are full!

As fat cells shrink, they produce less leptin which would make us tend to eat more because we are not being told as loudly that we are not hungry, making this a larger problem for people who were significantly overweight or obese as children and/or teenagers. Fat cells want to be filled with lipids. Help your body receive that “full” signal by eating whole/unprocessed foods at regular intervals while being aware of physical hunger vs fullness cues. Sometimes when you body tells you it’s hungry, what it really is asking for is water! If you haven’t had any water for a little while try drinking an 8 oz glass and wait 10 minutes to see if you still want to eat.

Here’s what you need to know for your weight-loss goals:

It starts with the liver: The liver is used to store glycogen (sugar) for reserves. As we eat, our body fills those reserves. It’s when we eat too much (simple or complex sugars) and the liver is at capacity that the remaining glycogen floating around gets moved into our fat cells.

If you want to lose fat, don’t engage in extreme diets! Stay consistent with your healthy habits and make little changes that you will be able to maintain for the long term. Fad diets and quick fixes that yield 30 pounds weight loss in 30 days for instance almost always result in your body losing mostly water and muscle in the process. This is why you often “rebound” back to your original weight shortly after quitting the diet, and sometimes even end up gaining more than you lost because your body is not happy with the yo-yo trend!

What happens when we “lose fat”? Through a series of chemical reactions, fat leaves the body through sweat and urine, but fat primarily leaves the body through respiration (breathing)! Help lose and or maintain body fat percentages by incorporating non-exercise physical activity every day like parking in the furthest spot at the store or at work, taking the stairs, or just playing with your kids and grandkids more often!

Deflating fat cells CAN be done! Two quick hitters to get started are to exercise at least 5 hours per week and get 7-9 hours of sleep per night. You might be one of those who think you only need 5 or 6 hours, and while that may be true for you to live and generally function, burning fat is hard work. Rest is key!

Omega 3 vs. Omega 6 – What’s the deal?

Omega Fatty Acids:

We often hear about the benefits of Omega-3’s through fish oil, flax/chia/hemp seeds, walnuts and more. But why? Both Omega-3 and Omega-6 are essential fats meaning our bodies cannot create them and we must consume them through food (or supplements). Our bodies use these fats to create other fats that have crucial functions in the body. However it is the ratio of Omega-6 to Omega-3 Fatty Acids consumed that nutrition experts are most concerned about.

What is the proper ratio?

For quite some time, it was suggested we ate a ratio of 1:1 (Omega-6: Omega-3). However in today’s world where a sizeable proportion of calories are derived from processed foods rich in vegetable oils and animal-derived fats (namely grain-fed cattle) the ratio has shifted for most people to consuming 10-15:1! This all has created the need to move closer to the 1:1 by increasing Omega-3 consumption and reducing Omega-6 consumption to reduce arthritis inflammation, lower cardiac risk, and reduce brain inflammation (ie Alzheimer’s, mental illness).

In general, most organizations suggest around 500 mg/day of EPA/DHA, however The Institute of Medicine has gone a step further and encourages a daily intake of 1.6 g and 1.1 g per day for adult males and females, respectively.

What foods are rich in Omega-3 Fatty Acids?

First, it’s important to know that there are three main types:

ALA (alpha-linolenic acid)

EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid)

DHA (docosahexaenoic acid)

The first one – ALA – is found in many commonly consumed foods that also have Omega-6 Fatty Acids, hence there is less of a push for people to up their intake of ALA. Some foods with the highest ratio of Omega-3 to Omega-6 are fish and seafood, followed by beans (mung beans/black lentils), Peppermint and Spearmint herbs, green vegetables, tropical fruits, seeds, and mixed green salad.

The only true food source rich in DHA/EPA is fatty fish such as wild-caught salmon. If you are vegan, or do not consume fatty fish or fish oil, you may need to consider using an algal oil (or perilla oil) supplement. Current and limited research shows it could produce a similar effect to marine oils.

*It’s worth noting that current ocean pollution raises possible concerns regarding the safety of fish in general.

OMEGA FATTY ACID SIDE NOTES: You can still have too much of a good thing. While generally not problematic, excessive consumption of fish oil can increase your risk of bleeding and may suppress your immune response. If you take fish oil supplements, be sure to follow your doctor’s recommendation on dosage. Also double-check with your doctor, before taking a fish oil supplement, if you are on blood pressure medication as it has been shown to reduce blood pressure.

Now check out this list of Omega-3 rich foods to add to your shopping list!

Keep it simple with grilled salmon over veggies or try out this delicious recipe with arugula and veggie salad!

6 Classic Favorites with a Healthy Twist!

Happy Mother’s Day!

This week we honor Moms of today and generations past! Many popular recipes from generations before were often comfort food type meals and laden with heavy creams, cheeses, and sauces. We’ll be looking at recipe makeovers for some of the most common recipes “Mom always used to make!”. What was a recipe YOUR mom always made that you would like to see a makeover for? Comment below and maybe we’ll come up with something for you!

#1 - Meatloaf

An undeniable classic! What dish better captures the essence of American households of generations past than the meatloaf? Turkey, fresh herbs and marinara sauce meld together perfectly for this delicious Ellipse Fitness recipe.

Italian Meatloaf by Ellipse Fitness

#2 - Mac 'n' Cheese

A classic comfort food that many of us grew up with and may still eat! That cheesy sauce and mass of white noodles can quickly fill a good portion of a day’s worth of calories, carbs, and fat! Instead, try this healthy alternative loaded with spaghetti squash, cheese, and spinach…but don’t worry! It still has some cheese, milk, and the base feel of Mac and Cheese.
(PS Have you ever tried Nutritional Yeast? Get that flavor of cheese with FAR less calories! Try it out and leave your comments on the blog!)

Baked Spaghetti Squash and Cheese

#3 - Spaghetti and Meatballs

Now, THAT’s Amore! One of the challenging parts of this meal is often the lack of vegetables – not to mention many serve it with butter laden garlic bread. Carbs on top of heavy carbs! Lighten up with chickpea or lentil-based noodles, toss in a few handfuls of spinach (it cooks down such that you hardly know it’s there), mushrooms, and other finely chopped vegetables, and loads of FRESH herbs to add some micronutrients to your dish, as well as great flavor!

Consider skipping that garlic bread or replace with a Wasa Light Rye Cracker. Check out the blog post from last week for zucchini noodles and meatballs for a fresh take and a major health boost!

#4 - Tuna Casserole

According to Wikipedia “Casseroles became a popular household dish in the 1950s mainly because the ingredients were cheap and easy to find at the store. Tuna casserole is a common dish in some parts of the United States, prepared using only nonperishable (AKA never expires!) pantry ingredients: egg noodles, chopped onion, shredded cheddar cheese, frozen green peas, canned and drained tuna, condensed cream of mushroom or cream of celery soup, sliced mushrooms and crushed potato chips.

Try giving that ol’ casserole an updated healthier flare with this SIMPLE and FAST Ellipse tuna white bean salad: tuna, white beans, sweet peppers, and onion served over lettuce. Have more time? Jazz it up with a little olive oil and fresh herbs!

Tuna White Bean Salad by Ellipse Fitness

#5 - Twice Baked Potatoes

Twice baked potatoes typically contain loads of butter, cheese, and sour cream which can quickly crush any attempt at balancing your meals. Instead, try an updated version by pureeing cottage cheese and egg yolk in a food processor. Add scooped out potato flesh, scallions, dill, salt and pepper; pulse until just blended. Mound filling into potato skins and place in a baking dish. Bake at 400 until heated through, 20 to 30 minutes. You will not be disappointed!

Twice Baked Potatos by Ellipse Fitness

#6 - Shepherd's Pie

Historically created to use up leftover meats (doesn’t that sound delicious?? haha), Shepherd’s Pie has a lot of varieties but can often be loaded with butter (like an entire stick!) and less healthy meat options. Try lightening it up and adding some additional nutrients to your next pie with this version containing zucchini, red potatoes, and ground turkey!

Shepherd’s Pie by Ellipse Fitness

4 Lean, Healthy Meals in 5 Minutes!

Need some quick and easy weekday meals? Weekend prep doesn’t have to be some arduous marathon requiring hours of time and every pot and pan in your kitchen! This week we’ve got 4 quick and easy recipes that you can crank out in a flash and feel happy about your meals without agonizing labor!

This week start by buying 4 pounds of Ground Turkey. Brown 3 pounds, cool and separate into 1 pound containers to freeze. With your fourth make these Veggie Loaded Meatballs!

Delicious meatballs packed with broccoli, carrots, baby spinach, green onions, and garlic! Just swap out the beef for to keep things simpler this week!

First? Go Shopping!

Here’s your grocery list for all 4 recipes!

• 4 Pounds Ground Turkey
• Rice (cook ahead if possible!)
• 1 Bag Favorite Frozen Veggies
• Zoodles (Zucchini Noodles, found at most grocery stores in the produce section)
• 1 pound Carrots
• 2 pounds Broccoli
• 2 heads garlic
• 1 small ginger root
• 1 small bag of Baby Spinach
• 1 bunch Green Onion
• 2 Avocados
• Flax Meal (only need 2 TBSP)
• 1 can Tomatoes
• 1 can Black Beans
• 1 pack Taco Seasoning
• 1 pack Ranch Seasoning
• Soy Sauce
• Chili Paste
• Plain Greek Yogurt

Optional Extras:

• 1 can low sodium Cream of Chicken Soup
• Feta Cheese
• Fresh Parsley or Basil
• Hot Sauce

(Creamy?) Turkey and Veggies

Ground Turkey + 1 Bag Frozen Vegetables + Dry Ranch Seasoning
(or substitute YOUR favorite seasoning combo)

Thaw one of your pounds of turkey, toss in a pan with a bag of your favorite frozen vegetables, and your seasoning!

Need a more “comforting” taste? Add up to a can of a low sodium cream of chicken soup and maybe serve over rice or quinoa!

Zoodles + Meatballs

Save time by buying a container of zoodles (zucchini noodles) since they are now quite common in most produce departments. Rewarm your meatballs in the oven or toaster oven while sautéing zoodles with olive and seasonings.

Get an added veggie boost by tossing in a handful or two of spinach. Serve as is or get creative with some tossed feta cheese or fresh parsley and/or basil!

Speedy Stir Fry

Ground Turkey + Onion + Broccoli + Carrots + Chili Paste

Combine some garlic, soy sauce, and ginger with ground turkey and set aside.
Stir Fry onions, broccoli, and carrots in vegetable oil.
Remove from the pan to a bowl.
Reheat turkey and sauce, recombine with veggies, and add chili paste.

Speed up this recipe even more by buying a bag of pre cut broccoli from your produce department or a “stir fry raw mix”. Rice could be pulled from the freezer and microwaved.

Full recipe here!

Rapido Burrito Bowl

Ground Turkey + Tomatoes + Black Beans + Avocado

Heat turkey and add taco seasoning. In a bowl combine rice, taco turkey, tomatoes, black beans, diced avocado and a sauce made of plain Greek yogurt and hot sauce.

Full recipe here!

Might We Suggest a Side Order of…Perception?

NEWSFLASH: Sensations of hunger and satiety may be linked to how we PERCEIVE a meal, far more than simply being based on how many calories we actually consume! In a couple different studies, British researchers served a 3-egg omelet for breakfast – but told the volunteers the first meal had 2 eggs and the other group was told the meal had 4 eggs (Idea Fitness Journal Feb 2018). When people thought they had eaten LESS they reported feeling hungry sooner and then ate more throughout the day than the group that thought they had eaten more. Now intuitively this sounds a little obvious, but just think of the implications! The PERCEIVED amount that you eat, may be even more important than the ACTUAL amount that you eat! Try adding larger volumes of less calorie dense foods (*cough cough* vegetables) to trick your brain into thinking you are consuming more overall.

How Can We Use This Info?

• Try serving your meals and/or snacks on smaller plates or in smaller bowls to give the visual appearance of a larger volume of food. Sounds kinda stupid right? After a little while you will get used to the size and feel satisfied that you piled your food high and still hit your goals!

• Do you eat straight out of the bag or box? This is a huge no-no for conscious consumption! Make sure to parcel out a serving in a separate container or palm of your hand and step away from the bag! Eating straight out of full size packages will give you little to no feedback of how much food you are consuming!

• Start your meals or snacks with a fist sized serving of vegetables and then add some protein from there.

Step up your snacks! How would a “snack” be perceived if it was a full side salad or serving of soup? What would that do to your perception of your next meal? Would you eat as much thinking you had just had a small “meal” snack a couple hours ago? If you struggle with eating too much, consider eating 3-5 small(er) meals, instead of thinking of them as snacks, and see what happens!

• The next time you are eating, stop for a moment and be present! Realize WHAT you are eating: the quantity, the taste, the look, the feel or texture, pay attention to your hunger cues, and be MINDFUL of your eating. Each day try to increase the amount of mindfulness you bring to your meal times, and even increase the amount of time spent on your meals and see if that helps to bring balance to the quantity of food being consumed.
(Hint: IT WILL! And you will feel much more satisfied afterwards)

Recipes to Help Get You Started!

A Light and Powerful Combo
– Dice up a whole cucumber and tomato
– Toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper
– 3 ounces of diced chicken or turkey (optional)
The perception of this light meal/snack will really surprise you at only around 250 calories and 26g of protein!
*Cucumbers are only 8 calories!

Simple Chicken Salad
– Diced chicken or turkey
– Finely chopped cauliflower, sweet peppers and really any veggies!
– Plain Greek yogurt
– Dry ranch seasoning to taste.

Mix it up and serve by itself or wrapped in a lettuce leaf!

Six Trainer Tips for Maximizing Your Program

You can, you should, and if you’re brave enough to start, you will.”

~ Stephen King

Your trainer can do a lot for you, and well they should – that is what you pay them for after all! But there are some things that YOU must do in order to maximize the benefits from the work you putting in, before you can display any dissatisfaction with your program or lack of results.

Six Things You Must Do To Get The Most Out Of Your Program!

#1 – Foam Roll!

Before. After. At home while you watch TV. On the weekends. Foam rolling is maybe your best tool for preventing injury during workouts, improving your mobility so you can ingrain new functional movement patterns that will last, and improving recovery after workouts! Roll muscle bellies, avoid ligaments, tendons, bony processes and soft areas.

#2 – Do Your Homework!

The buck does not stop with foam rolling before sessions, consider adding mobility work into your daily routine to help open up your problem areas and allow you better movement. Your trainer should already know your tighter, less mobile areas so just ask for some suggestions. Froggers/Quad Rocks for tight hips; Inchworms for hamstrings; Lat Activation for shoulder mobility, etc.

#3 – Acknowledge Your Limitations!

There is ALWAYS a way to regress a movement pattern so that you can be more successful at it. It’s one thing to challenge yourself – and of course you should; it is another to force yourself into an injurious position you are not ready for! To push yourself beyond your limits will reduce and not expand them, working within the edge of your ability is how we get stronger without setbacks, complications and extreme hardship! It has to feel like work, but it doesn’t have to feel like suffering.

#4 – Ask for Progressions!

If you find yourself complacently meandering through a movement wondering why you are wasting your time, point it out to your trainer! We know sometimes people don’t want to be spotlighted or viewed as a show-off, but more than likely if it’s THAT easy you are probably missing a key point of the exercise. Help us help you by keeping open communication about what you’re feeling. Which brings us to our next tip…

#5 – Give Us Feedback!

Let us know what you like or don’t like, and WHY – If you don’t like it because it just feels too hard, maybe it’s time to talk about regressions so you can feel successful. If it hurts your back, knees, neck etc most likely something has gone awry with your movement pattern or a latent injury is rearing its head – both of which your trainer may be able to figure out ways to work around and ultimately help you overcome!

#6 – Do Your Part In The Kitchen!

All the training in the world won’t compensate for poor diet, and we have numerous blog posts that can help steer you in the right direction there. Whether you want to lose weight, bulk up, improve your athletic performance or just reduce your risk of developing the major diseases (CVD, Atherosclerosis, Diabetes, etc.) a major component of reaching your goals is going to be what you put into your body when you are not with your trainer.

slap

We can’t push you to be your best if you are dehydrated or if you are dizzy due to low blood sugar or sluggish due to a belly full because you ate 20 minutes before your session. Get to know your body, try different things and see what works best for you! Below are some resources for more information on nutrition!

What to Eat, When to Eat and What it Means for Your Workouts.

Junk Food Disguised as Health Food

Clean Eating With Convenience

Water and Weight Loss

Save Time, Money and Headache with Batch Cooking!

Who has time to create delicious, fresh, home-cooked meals day after day from scratch? Do yourself a favor and set aside one day a week for batch cooking and make your life easier!

Cook and Store

Try cooking up a few pounds of chicken at once for instance. Cut into cubes and flash freeze (spread out on a parchment lined cookie sheet); place in the freezer just until the outside is frozen enough not to stick to other pieces. Once flash frozen, store in an airtight container or bag that way you can grab a handful to throw in the skillet with some veggies and spice and voila!

Label and date your finished product safety!

Freeze in Recipe-Sized Portions

Freeze in single serve, family, or recipe size portions, because let’s be honest: the easier you make your process, the better the chance you’ll stick with cooking and eating healthy. Try creating shake ready bags of frozen fruit for example. ½ banana, ½ cup of strawberries, and frozen spinach can be tossed in your blender with almond milk and some vanilla protein powder for a quick post workout shake!

Plan Ingredients Ahead

If you plan your meals throughout the week ahead, look for similar ingredients. Instead of chopping tomatoes, onions, and peppers for 1 recipe, you can chop several of each and have for a couple different recipes. Store in a sealed bag in the fridge, so you can grab and cook quickly!

Keep Your Staples on Hand

When you use up a “staple” in your pantry, be sure to put on your shopping list immediately and replace the next time you go to the store. Meals go smoothest when the basics are on hand. Think chicken broth, onions, garlic, canned beans or tomatoes – these types of things keep pretty long and can make or break your decision to cook instead of ordering out!

Cook in Bulk? Shop in Bulk!

Plan what you are going to prepare and shop at your nearest warehouse store (Costco, Sam’s, etc). During the summer, shop bulk produce from your farmer’s markets and CSA’s! Think bulk tomatoes, fruit, beans, corn, etc to have local produce all year long. Apples or potatoes for instance when stored correctly can last a really long time!

Print Physical Recipes

Keep a printed/pinterested/photocopy of recipes that are favorites, quick, or go-to’s! When you are in a rut, pull out a few and use for the coming week. Many people save recipes on websites or think they will go back through social media and find things etc, and then they just never get around to it. When you find something you or the family enjoy, get a physical copy of it and store them somewhere in the kitchen for quick reference!

If Not Sugar, Then What??

Last week we talked about some of the harmful effects of added sugar. BUT, if you are going to have sugar, which kind is the right choice? This week we’ll look at honey, coconut sugar, brown sugar, raw vs white sugar, and even stevia. We have to realize there isn’t a simple answer when it comes to added sugars/sweeteners. Added sugars is where the clear majority of health issues lie. Watch your labels and start playing sugar detective to know what you are eating!

Honey

Honey contains a few more calories than table sugar but unlike stevia or table sugar, it contains a variety of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants making honey more like a food than a sugar. Unfortunately, most non-raw honey has been filtered, heated/pasteurized and processed thereby negating many of the health benefits in an attempt to prevent crystallization once on a store shelf.
(Caution: If you are allergic to bees, raw honey could potentially cause reactions!)

Coconut Sugar

Coconut sugar/coconut palm sugar (not to be confused with palm sugar) is made from the sap of coconut trees and is less processed because the sap is extracted and then placed in heat to dry. It has a couple minerals and antioxidants and a lower glycemic index than table sugar thanks to inulin (a type of fiber). Coconut sugar contains the same number of calories as table sugar, but the amount of nutrients is negligible unless large quantities are consumed so it should really not be consumed for its “nutrition” – it is still ultimately added sugar.

Raw Cane Sugar

Raw cane sugar (also called turbinado sugar) is extracted from the sugarcane plant and not refined. Although in large amounts, no sugar is “good”, raw sugar would be a better alternative than white table sugar since it retains some minerals. Raw sugar includes unrefined cane juice or powder (Sucanat and Rapadura) and date sugar.

Beware: White sugar can be labelled in disguise as refined or dried cane juice and refined cane sugar!

Stevia

While all of our article has been designated to explaining different types of sugar, we wanted to take a moment to acknowledge a natural sweetener that appears to be in good standing. Stevia is a sugar-free and calorie-free South African herb made from the leaves of the stevia plant. It has a glycemic index of zero so it doesn’t raise blood sugar. It appears stevia COULD be your best choice for a sweetener without the additional calories of local honey, etc BUT be careful of overly processed stevia products as in general the word “processed” often means “processed with chemicals”.

Also, be aware of overuse as it can cause you to develop more of a taste for sweets. According to Livestrong.com “crude stevia extracts and whole-leaf stevia are not approved, the Mayo Clinic notes, because there are concerns about their effects on the kidneys, cardiovascular system and blood glucose levels.”

In summary, granulated white sugar/table sugar is the most chemically processed and refined of sugars. Brown sugar is just white sugar with added molasses, thus containing even more calories and sweetness. Choosing artificial sweeteners vs a “better” sugar is a choice you have to make based on the information available to you. There is no simple answer it seems. Our advice? Watch your labels, know your sugars, and choose what is best for you while exercising moderation!