A Perfect Parfait

In my last post, I promised you a yummy, low sugar, dessert recipe.

Well, this one is more of a breakfast or snack item but it is definitely low sugar, nutrient-packed and very delicious.

A Perfect Parfait

  • fresh berries of your choice
  • Greek or plain, full fat probiotic yogurt
  • Homemade granola (recipe below)

Layer items, or as in pic below, arrange in a bowl and top yogurt with a drizzle of dark chocolate syrup for extra yumminess.

Homemade Granola

  • 2 cups raw, whole rolled oats
  • ½ cup raw nuts
  • chopped ¼ cup raw seeds (sunflower or pumpkin seeds are great)
  • ½ cup unsweetened dried fruit of your choice
  • 2-3 tablespoons maple syrup or raw honey (or a combo of both)
  • 2 tbsp virgin coconut oil
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 large pinch fine sea salt

Recipe: Preheat the oven to 300º F. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix well.

Bake for 10 minutes.

Done.

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5 Amazing Reasons to Cut Down on Sugar

Sugar, in its many forms, is everywhere and letting it creep back into your diet can be an easy thing for even the staunchest anti-sugar peeps.

Also winter is around the corner and the change of season often means that we spend more time indoors and, as a result, are less active. And being less active can lead to, well, putting on our “winter coat”.

A great way to reduce the chance of this happening is by drastically reducing your sugar intake. Reducing refined sugar intake isn’t necessarily easy as it’s found in virtually all packaged foods, drinks and food at fast food restaurants are laden with it (a large Big Mac meal deal has 85 grams of sugar–236% of your daily allowance). Although it takes a little effort and planning to avoid sugar, it is very worth it in health and wellness rewards.

Here are 5 pretty amazing benefits of eating less sugar:

1. Improved sleep

Insulin levels are regulated when our blood sugar is balanced and one of the benefits of this is deep, restful sleep. Regulated insulin also has a balancing effect on the rest of our hormones as they all work together. This balance helps to improve our energy levels, brain function and, again, the quality of our sleep. A restful sleep gives us consistent and lasting energy throughout the day, increases our ability to focus and makes us less susceptible to sugary afternoon treats to get through the day, helping us to naturally cut down our sugar consumption.

2. Weight Loss 

Did you know that you can lose weight by cutting down on sugar without even reducing calories? This often happens because sugar spikes our blood sugar levels and insulin levels, as well as disrupting neurotransmitters in our brain. All of this increases fat storage. Eating more protein, fiber, fruit, and vegetables increases our metabolism, which then helps our bodies burn calories more efficiently. Losing or maintaining weight isn’t just about the daily calories consumed, but about the quality of foods we eat and the way our bodies process them.

3. Mental Clarity

Expect to feel more focused and clear-headed when giving up or cutting down on sugar. When our blood-sugar levels are consistent and healthy, our brain is more alert and we don’t feel as sleepy throughout the day. Also, too much fructose from foods containing high-fructose corn syrup (many processed, packaged foods) taxes our liver and pancreas. When this happens, these two organs have to work harder to manage all of the low quality sugar in our systems and remove it from our blood stream. While doing this, they exhaust energy reserves which otherwise should have been used for breaking down fat and converting it to usable energy. This can result in an unpleasant cocktail of moodiness, anxiety and even exhaustion.

4. Anti- Aging

Sugar is a primary contributor to the aging process, says Dr. Robert Lustig, a physician who has extensively researched sugar’s effect on the human body. He says fructose, the sweet molecule in sugar, is seven times more potent than the glucose portion of sugar. Fructose (ie. high fructose corn syrup) forms free radicals in our bodies, leading to higher rates of cell damage and death.

In a way, we “rust” as we age, he says. Oxidative stress turns our tissues brown. Overindulging in excess added sugar will speed up this browning process and speeds along the aging process in general.

5. Heart Health

It’s easy to imagine how having excess fat in our blood stream and arteries can lead to heart problems, but less people know about the role sugar plays in cardiac issues. The American Heart Association recommends no more than 100 calories per day from added sugars (6 teaspoons) for women, and 150 calories (9 teaspoons) for men for optimal heart health. Unfortunately people now consume 22 teaspoons per day, on average.

A study by the Journal of the American Medical Association has also shown that people who ate between 17 and 21 percent of their calories from added sugar had a 38 percent higher risk of dying from heart disease, compared with people who consumed 8 percent or less of their calories from added sugar. So less sugar, along with moderate exercise equals a healthy, happy heart.

So, there you have it, some excellent reasons to think about dialing back your sugar habit.

Next post will have a delicious, sugar free dessert to help make living without refined sugar easy and delicious.

Polar Bears & Smoothies

Happy New Year!

I had an amazing New Year’s Day doing the polar bear swim in English Bay.



  
Now it seems like the holidays are long gone but lots of us are still carrying reminders of all of the feasting and parties around with us in the form of soft, squishy muffin tops. And if you’re like me, the feeling of wearing too tight clothing is annoying the heck out of you and you’re thinking of ways to make your “winter weight” disappear.

A solution? Kimberly Snyder’s Glowing Green Smoothie Challenge.

Just drink one of these smoothies every morning for 14 days and, from what I’ve read, your mood will improve, your body will get sleeker, and your energy levels will skyrocket.

Interested? Join the Facebook group “Beauty Detox Group” and dust off your blender.

A little glow in January is a beautiful thing.

Baby, it’s Hot Outside! Summer Soup

Baby, it’s hot outside! Like Global Warming hot. In a desperate effort to keep cool, I’ve been hanging out in the shady green space of the community gardens near my home. And, on my way home from my siesta, I couldn’t help but notice that there were a lot of shiny, dark green cucumbers ripe for the picking all over the garden.

So when it’s this toasty out and harvest time too, what could be better than cooking up a healthy, garden fresh, chilled cucumber soup?

Chilled Cucumber Soup

  •  1 T. olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 T. lemon juice
  • 4 cups peeled and sliced cucumbers
  • 1 1/2 cups veggie broth
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • 1 avocado, sliced
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley
  • sprinkle of mint
  • 1/2 cup yogurt

Heat oil on medium-high, add garlic and onion and sauté until onions are translucent. Add lemon, cucumber, broth and salt & pepper. Simmer until cucumbers are soft.

Transfer ingredients to a blender and add avocado, parsley (saving a little for garnish) and mint and blend well. Finish by stirring in yogurt. Chill and serve.

cucumber soup

And what is the perfect accompaniment for my favourite chilled soup? A little Therapy.

Therapy is an Okanagan vineyard that’s definitely worth checking out. The “Pink Freud” rose is both fruity and full-bodied. And the names of the wine are so cute and witty…Pink Freud, Freudian Sip, Fizzio Therapy…you’ve gotta love a vineyard with delicious wine and a sense of humor too,

therapy vineyards

  In case you like my wine recommendation a little too much..Did you know that cucumbers are a natural hangover cure? They are! To avoid a hangover, eat a few cucumber slices before going to bed. Cucumbers contain enough sugar, B vitamins and electrolytes to replenish essential nutrients destroyed by too much alcohol, reducing the intensity of both a hangover and the pounding headache that comes with it.