Tag Archives: Lifestyle

The Paleo Diet.

What is paleo?

The Paleolithic diet is not a “diet” in the count-every-calorie-I-hate-my-life sense. It is a lifestyle that encourages us to eat and live the way that our ancestors did for hundreds of thousands of years. The first homo sapiens appeared on earth 200,000 years ago. They hunted and gathered, slept, made shelter, and occasionally ran for their lives. They were strong and healthy and didn’t suffer from the diseases that we do now. The agricultural revolution changed the way we modern homo sapiens eat 10,000 years ago. Meaning, we have only been eating wheat and other grains and domesticated animal products for 10,000 years out of our 200,000 year existence. The paleo diet is the avoidance of all grains (even whole grains), refined sugar, legumes, and dairy products. It is eating vegetables, meat, poultry, fish, nuts, and fruit. The paleo lifestyle is to exercise the way we used to: lots of movement, like walking, some heavy lifting, and some sprinting. Our ancestors did not read magazines for two hours on the elliptical or run marathons.

What to eat

Fruit and veg: Go crazy for veggies. Make them the base of your diet and you can’t go wrong. For people trying to lose weight, reduce fruit and starchy vegetables like potatoes, beets, winter squash, and root veggies. For maintaining weight, gaining weight, and sustaining heavy exercise, use starchy vegetables and fruit as your carbohydrate source.

Nuts and oils: Any nut is fair game except for peanuts, which are technically legumes. Monounsaturated fat is good for us, while polyunsaturated fat is more complicated. Polyunsaturated fat is divided between omega 3s and omega 6s. While we do need omega 6s, the ratio of omega 3 to 6 should be 1:1. Modern diets are 1:10, which increases our risk of heart disease. We should emphasize omega 3s and reduce omega 6s. 

  • Monounsaturated oils include: nuts, avocados, olives and olive oil, fish, cod liver oil, grass fed meats, and plants (which obviously don’t have that much fat)
  • Polyunsaturated omega 6 sources include: corn, soy, cottonseed, grapeseed, sunflower, safflower and other vegetable oils, and grains
  • Polyunsaturated omega 3 sources include: salmon, sardines, fish, walnuts, flax, hemp, nuts, grass fed meat, pasture raised chicken & eggs

Meat: meat should ideally be grass fed and organic. Grass fed meat is naturally leaner and contains increased levels of omega 3 fats and decreased levels of omega 6 fats compared to grain fed animals. This is good because omega 3s are anti-inflammatory where as omega 6 fats are pro-inflammatory (bad!). Post-agricultural revolution, cattle began being grain-fed because it is cheaper and they get fatter. If you can’t afford grass fed meat, go for the leanest cuts of conventional meat and supplement with other forms of healthy fat, like avocados, nuts, olive oil and coconut oil. Avoid vegetable oils, as they are high in omega 6.

Poultry and fish: Poultry and eggs should ideally be free-range and not fed a “vegetarian” diet, which really just means corn and soy. Again, this is so that the fat content of the meat and eggs is higher in the fats that reduce CVD. Fish should ideally be wild caught because farm-raised fish are fed (surprise!) corn and grain feed. Remember, the reason that corn and grain fed animals and fish are less healthy than their naturally grazing counterparts is their fat content. Naturally grazing species will have a more anti-inflammatory omega 3 fats and less inflammatory (and thus CVD inducing) omega 6 fats.

About red meat and saturated fat

Paleo or no paleo, the consumption of red meat believed by many to be unhealthy. This is based on studies that link high consumption of red meat to cardiovascular disease (CVD) and cancer, and it is usually explained as the increased level of saturated fat in the diet. This is not the whole story. The studies that claim this are flawed in their methods and/or reporting. They are usually population studies that take large groups of people and have them fill out food frequency questionaires (which are sketchy in their own right since they are based on memory and estimation). The results look at the frequency of cancer and CVD in the population tested. Those who ate more red meat had higher rates of cancer and CVD. What the study doesn’t mention, is that these people were also more likely to smoke, be overweight, obese, diabetic, inactive, or combinations of all of these characteristics.

In this cross over study (which is the most trustworthy type of study), two groups were divided among heavy red meat consumption versus fish and chicken consumption. The red meat group ate far more cholesterol and saturated fat, however, their HDL and cholesterol levels were the same as the fish and chicken group. Interestingly, in women only, red meat actually lowered blood triacylglycerol (=fat, TAG)  levels and the fish and chicken increased the blood TAG levels. This is important because blood TAG levels are now thought to be more indicative of heart disease risk. Another interesting thing about this study was the carb intake, which usually regulates serum TAGs, was similar in both groups. This suggests that red meat has a TAG-lowering effect independent from simply replacing carbs from the diet with protein.  Also worth noting is that the red meat group ate ~200 calories more than the chicken and fish group per day, but did not gain any weight. This is a great blog post that summarizes more studies on this topic.

Two other interesting studies were analyses of other studies. Looking at all the studies that met their standards and criteria, they determined factors that increase and decrease risk of heart disease.

  • Increased risk factors: trans fats and high glycemic loads (AKA sugar, simple carbohydrates, and excessive carbs REGARDLESS of carb type).
  • Decreased risk factors: fiber, fish, beta carotene, omega 3s, fruit, veg, nuts, monounsaturated fats, vitamins C and E, Meditteranean style eating, and whole grains. [I will get to grains a bit later.]

They noted the lack of evidence supporting the notion that reducing saturated fat intake will lower the risk of CVD. Furthermore, according to this study, there is no study yet that reduces saturated fat intake with no other changes to the diet. Meaning, if reductions in CVD were seen with reduced saturated fat intake, it could be due to the other changes made in the study, like reduced carb intake, increased omega 3 intake, etc. Also, note that polyunsaturated fats were not part of the decreased risk factor list, which is what we have increased in out diets by feeding our animals and ourselves lots of corn and vegetable oils.

Main point: Current research seems to indicate that it is not saturated fat that is responsible for our current state of heart disease, but rather the increased ratio of omega 6 to omega 3 fats in our diet. This doesn’t mean you can drown yourself in french fries and steaks. It means that grass-fed meats or extra lean conventional meats do have a healthy place in our diet, along with fish, healthy oils, nuts, and plants.

About grains and legumes

Grains and legumes (beans + peanuts) are out because they contain lectins and anti-nutrients. Wheat germ agglutinin (WGA) is one type of lectin, which is a molecule that can bind to other molecules in our body. Lectins are not broken down during digestion and can bind to receptors on the gut lining. This binding can lead to decreased digestion and absorption of other dietary proteins as well as transportation of the lectins through the gut and into the blood circulation. While they are transported, lectins can damage (in rough terms: “poke holes”) in our intestinal lining. These circulating lectins are then recognized by our immune systems as foreign invaders, and we will launch an immune response against them. Unfortunately, lectins can often resemble normal cells in our body, so these immune responses can essentially become immune attacks on our own tissues. Read: inflammation and auto-immune diseases. Because there is now perforations in the gut lining, other microscopic proteins from our diet can cross the lining, and immune responses can be raised against those proteins as well. Read: food allergies.

The strongest evidence against grains is definitely for those whom have autoimmune disease such as rheumatoid arthritis, celiac, lupus,  Sjogrens, MS, T1 diabetes, and ulcerative colitis. This, this, this, and many more studies indicate that dietary gluten and grains do negatively impact those with decreased immune systems. However, not everyone has an overt immune disease. Like most things in this world, we are on a sliding scale. This study showed that those with celiac disease and people with increased genetic susceptibility to autoimmune disease had increased gut permeability when consuming a diet high in gluten. And as for completely healthy individuals with great immune systems? There is hardly any research. This study, ironically done by a student under the original Paleo-pusher, Dr. Cordaine, showed that healthy individuals did not see an increase in plasma levels of lectins after consuming 50 grams of gluten (although several explanations were offered for these results). However, this study did show that peanut lectins made their way through the intestinal lining and into circulation. This study showed the same with wheat germ agglutinin, but it was done on rats. This study showed that anti-bodies to WGA can be found in human circulation.  Also, this research article is all about using lectins as a way to get pharmaceutical drugs absorbed more efficiently through the intestines, and cites studies that were done on human tissue. Therefore, it does appear likely that lectins are able to enter circulation and possibly cause damage. 

Main point: Anyone with imperfect immune function (which you wouldn’t necessarily know if you were included in that group), and possibly everyone, can benefit from removing grains and legumes from their diet due to their lectin content. Even completely healthy individuals may benefit from lectin avoidance because lectins may at the very least be causing a constant low-grade inflammation in the body. Just try it for a few weeks and see how you feel. 

The anti-nutrients in grains that I mentioned are protease inhibitors and phytates. Protease inhibitors are molecules that inhibit our enzymes from breaking down some of our dietary protein and lectins (which are proteins). I think that this is a bit exaggerated in The Paleo Solution because it is not as if your burger isnt going to get digested just because you ate it with a bun. That would require a LOT of protease inhibitors. Phytates are found in grains and seeds and can bind to important minerals, like magnesium, zinc, iron, calcium, and copper. Thus, when you eat phytates (which are mostly in the bran of the grains) they bind to those nutrients so that you cannot absorb them. While this is bad, I think it is also slightly exaggerated. Phytates will bind those nutrients, but not all of them! Then again, the typical American diet is grain heavy and lacking in fruits and veg, so I guess it could actually make quite a difference in a person’s nutritional status!

About dairy

The case against dairy seems to be mostly based its effect of raising insulin levels. Insulin increases fat storage, and chronically elevated insulin levels can lead to insulin resistance. Clearly, for diabetics and people whom are overweight, this is  bad. I also read that some studies correlate milk intake with auto-immune diseases. However, I am happy to report that some people actually can consume dairy given that they do not have any auto-immune issues, have a healthy gut and weight, and are not lactose intolerant. While strict paleo does say no dairy, even the some of the most hardcore paleo-pushers admit that grass fed, whole fat, organic dairy has its benefits. If it is grass fed and organic, it won’t contain any harmful pesticides or hormones, and will have a healthy fat profile. Additionally, if the dairy is raw, than the naturally occurring enzymes will help with the digestion and absorption processes. Proper dairy can be a great source of calories, protein, fat, calcium, and probiotics, however it can be difficult (or impossible) to get your hands on.

Main point: Try giving up dairy products for a couple weeks, see how you feel, and then re-introduce it. If you feel bloated and ill…. well now you know. If not, stick with grass fed, organic, whole milk dairy products. Those with auto-immune disorders or genetic susceptibility would also likely do well to avoid dairy.

About fiber

When I first heard about how paleo excludes grains, even my beloved whole grains, I was disturbed. Almost mad! Here I was, with a blog all about eating healthfully and including whole grains into our diet, and this community was telling me that that was bad. I fought it. Whole grains have so many nutrients, like B vitamins and minerals! Whole grains have so much fiber! From my studies, I knew that the human body needs two kinds of fiber: soluble and insoluble.

Soluble fiber absorbs water, and thus slows digestion and makes us feel fuller, longer. It also helps feces transit.

Insoluble fiber is not digested by the body and adds bulk to the stool. This is important for maintaining bathroom regularity, which may be helpful with preventing colon cancer. Insoluble fiber is also a key source of food for gut flora (bacteria), which give us all sorts of immune and digestion benefits.

My first instinct was that without whole grains, I would only be getting soluble fiber from fruits and veggies. I feared that without my precious whole grain insoluble fiber sources, I would become a constipated, and thus grumpy, beezy. Turns out one can get both kinds of fiber very easily from a paleo diet.

  • Soluble fiber is found in: fruits like apples, oranges, pears, and berries. Veggies like cucumbers, celery, and carrots. And nuts and seeds like flax, almonds, and psyllium.
  • Insoluble fiber is found in: corn, seeds, nuts, zucchini, celery, broc, cabbage, root veggie skins, dark leafy veggies, onions, grapes, and other fruits.

Other considerations

While I have now made the agricultural revolution sound like the most terrible thing to ever have occurred, I must remind myself and others that it was this revolution that enabled us to feed more people and expand our population. In some ways, this is beautiful. More people, more innovation, peace, love, happiness. On the other hand, we have more people, but they are also fatter and sicker than ever before. So while the agriculture revolution certainly made food cheaper, it has also increased our medical care costs.

Another thing to think about is the environmental-friendliness of the paleo diet. Obviously, a lot of meat and animal products are consumed. While ideally the animals should be sustainably raised and grass fed, this sadly makes up only a tiny portion of our current agricultural system. Furthermore, it has been said that vegetarian diets are far more environmentally friendly than traditional diets. I have hardly done any reading on this, but it is something I have heard over and over again. I think the most important thing to keep in mind at the grocery store (or better yet, farmer’s market!) is that every dollar you spend on food is a vote. Hopefully with enough votes towards healthy, sustainable food items, they will become more affordable and we will slowly transition to a better agricultural system.

I encourage everyone to join me in giving full-on Paleo a shot for a few weeks!


Channeling Texas..

I go through phases with carbs. For periods of time, grains and potatoes lack any appeal to me and aren’t a significant portion of my diet. At other times, they reallyyy hit the spot and pop up at every meal. I think I am entering a more carby phase, although my diet overall is probably lower carb than your average person. Personally, I am a big fan of high fat, high protein meals. I feel more satisfied and energetic when I eat this way – but thats just me! A couple meals as of late…

Breakfast

1 baked sweet potato, 1/2 avocado, 1 egg sunny side up + 4 scrambled egg whites, sea salt

So bomb! If you don’t have time to bake the sweet potato, you can nuke it for 5-7 minutes. I <3 radiated food.

After I typed that, I googled “microwave radiation” and found this doctor’s paper. It is scary. However, her sources are only three books by two authors and she has her own website that sells health supplements. So more research on my part is needed.

Lunch

Southern.

This is 4 oz lean beef sauteed with onion, tomato, zucchini, mushrooms, and 1/2 tbsp butter. I seasoned it with garlic powder, cajun spices, seasoning salt, and a dash of cayenne pepper and sprinkled on some sharp cheddar. Served up with some deeelish cornbread!

I made Heather’s cornbread and followed the recipe exactly, except I subbed milk for coconut milk.

A few of you may be gawking at the beef n’ butter. My thoughts on saturated fat can be found here. :) Also, I updated my Recipe page!

Step away from the peanuts…

I have been addicted to peanut products lately. Every day for a while now, I have been having peanut butter, at least 1/3 cup of peanuts, and some kind of baked good that contains peanut flour in it. A couple days ago, my mouth started constantly having a metal taste in it. Once I realized that brushing my teeth, gargling, and chewing gum wasn’t getting rid of the metallic taste, I googled possible causes. The only one that makes sense is overdosing on copper. Peanuts are a prime source of copper. Oops. So, I am currently banned from all things peanut. Grr.

On a happier note – Nina and I have bonded quite a bit! She is much more relaxed and friendly and is acting more like your typical puppy. I am getting quite attached to her :) I was getting worried there for  while…

After taking Nina on a walk yesterday, I came home to make lunch. I had a salad and a St. Patty’s day themed sandwich!

Tuna Salad Sandwich: Easy & Healthified

Recipe: Serves 1

1 can albacore tuna (should be ~25 grams protein)

1/2 avocado

spoonful of teriyaki sauce (I used Soyvay-even though I’m not down with soy)

sea salt

fresh cracked black pepper

~

whole wheat bun

sprouts

Directions – Mix all of the first ingredients in a bowl and spread over a toasted whole wheat bun! Top with sprouts!

Benefits:

Avocado * contains vitamins A, B, C, and E. Also contain phosphorous, magnesium, potassium, folic acid, zinc, and iron. Their greatest asset is their monounsaturated fat content, which is linked to lower cholesterol levels, reduced risk of heart disease, weight loss, and even alleviating depression.

Tuna * 4oz of tuna is packed with 30 grams of protein, 118% of your daily needed tryptophan (which has a relaxation effect), 75% selenium (which can drastically reduce risk of skin cancer!), 67% niacin, 59% B6, and 40% thiamin! The fat in tuna is largely omega 3, which reduces inflammation, helps the heart, lowers blood triglycerides, and may lower the risk of several cancers.

Questions: Have you ever been stuck with a metallic taste in your mouth? How is your week looking?

GF: Chai Spiced Coconut Pancakes with Macadamia Nuts, Toasted Coconut, and a Creamy Coconut Sauce

Oh my soul.

Heaven.

This morning I decided to break out of my oatmeal rut and make pancakes. Not gonna lie… It took me two rounds of failed pancakes to get the recipe down, but in the end I was rewarded with crispy on the outside, fluffy on the inside, chai kissed-coconut pillows. :) The macadamia nuts are a perfect compliment to the chai and the creamy coconut. I must warn you though, if you make these, follow the recipe! My first two batches fell apart, stuck to the pan, didn’t cook all the way through and basically just spat in my eye.

Chai Spiced Coconut Pancakes with Macadamia Nuts, Toasted Coconut, and a Creamy Coconut Sauce

Recipe: Serves 1

1/2 tbsp coconut oil (to fry in. This is so important. Do not skimp on oil! They will stick!)

1 tbsp toasted coconut (for topping)

Dry ingredients –

1/4 cup coconut flour

1/2 tsp baking soda

4 macadamia nuts, roasted and crushed (save some for topping)

pinch salt

Wet ingredients -

1 egg

1/2 cup milk (you could try subbing coconut milk, I used regular though)

couple drops vanilla extract

1 tbsp chai concentrate

Creamy Coconut sauce –

1 tbsp Artisana coconut butter

2 tbsp coconut milk

(optional: if you want a maple flavor, add 1 tsp maple syrup)

Directions:

1. Beat the egg in a mixing bowl until fluffy, about a minute. Add the milk, chai, and vanilla and beat again.

2. Combine all the dry ingredients in another bowl and mix until there are no clumps of coconut flour. Pour the dry onto the wet ingredients. Stir with a spatula until the batter is homogenous.

3. Melt the coconut into a pan on the stove at medium-low heat. Mine was set to 3 of 9. Spread the oil evenly around the pan.

4. Pour the batter into 3-4 pancakes. Let them cook slowly. Only flip them when the tops have some bubbles and the bottoms are light/medium brown. Make sure that when you flip them there is oil on the pan for the other side.

5. When they are cooked through, transfer the pancakes to a plate. Prepare your coconut sauce by stirring together 1 tbsp melted coconut butter and 2 tbsp coconut milk. Drizzle over the pancakes. Top with crushed macadamia nuts and toasted coconut. Enjoy!

And they are gluten free!

Benefits:

Coconut * coconut gets a bad rap because of its saturated fat content, but its fatty acids are mainly medium-chain triglycerides, not long-chain. The long-chain triglycerides are bad for our cholesterol levels, but coconut has been shown to improve cholesterol levels. Animal studies suggest that medium-chain triglycerides can increase metabolism.

Coconut flour * 1 cup contains 40 grams of fiber and 16 grams of protein. It is one of the lowest carb flours you can use!

Eggs * the yolk is where all the nutrients are! It contains tryptophan, selenium, iodine, B vitamins, and phosphorous, many of which are necessary for optimal metabolism. The egg white has 6 grams of complete protein!

Questions: How are y’all? What are your favorite pancake flavors?

Send me your absolute favorite recipe to try!

The best way to get your professor’s attention..

If you ever want to get someone’s attention – and I mean anyone – munch on kale chips in front of them.

I was at my Biochem professor’s office hours with about 20 other students itching to get some tidbits about the midterm and was having zero luck getting his attention to ask a question.

So, I pulled out a snack.

It was green and flaky. It looked like seaweed. It was delicious.

It was kale chips.

In the midst of talking, he abruptly stopped, mouth hanging open, and asked, What are you eating? I responded with a meek …Kale chips…Wanna try one? And he did! After saying you couldn’t pay me to eat that, he popped one in his mouth and liked it. Keep in mind that this is man who wears cowboy boots and jeans to lecture and only eats animal fat and protein and seems to imbibe on a daily basis.

He continued to eat my chips for the rest of office hours.

This shiz costs you 7$ for a tiny bag at Whole Foods and 9$ at Daily Juice in Austin! My recipe only costs 2.50$. Score!

Homemade Zesty Kale Chips

Recipe: Makes 1-2 servings

1 bunch kale, destemmed

1/4 cup cashews

1 small red bell pepper

1 tbsp lemon juice

1 tbsp yellow curry paste or powder

1 clove garlic

1/2 tbsp nutritional yeast

2 tbsp chopped sweet onion

1/2 tsp cumin

sea salt

Directions - Combine everything except the kale in a blender. Blend until smooth. Rub the mixture onto the kale stalks. Lay the stalks single file on a baking sheet.

If you want them to be more raw (but I am pretty sure they wont count as raw still) you can bake them for a 3-4 hours until crispy at your lowest oven setting. You can go up in temperature (until about 350) and the baking time will decrease. Simply remove from the oven when they are crisp.

 

Also, just another quick little dinner idea for you!

Wasabi crusted chicken with brown rice, vegetables, and peanut sauce

Bad lighting :( delicious though :)

Recipe: Serves 1

4 oz chicken

1 tbsp wasabi powder

1 egg white

precut zucchini & carrots

1/2 cup brown rice, prepared

1 tbsp peanut flour

1 tsp teriyaki sauce

2-3 tbsp peanut sauce

2-3 tbsp peanuts

Directions –

1. Dip your chicken breast in 1 egg white. Then, cover in wasabi powder. Cook on the stove until white all the way through.

2. Steam your veggies. I simply put them in a bowl, covered, and microwave for 90 seconds with 1/2 tbsp water. Drain (but drink the liquid)!

3. To prepare your sauce, take 2-3 tbsp of a store bought peanut sauce (I used Trader Joes, but you could also just use some type of milk/almond milk and increase the peanut flour) and mix with the peanut flour and teriyaki sauce.

4. Toss the rice and veggies in the sauce. Top with wasabi crusted chicken. Sprinkle on a bit more wasabi and the peanuts. Enjoy!

Benefits:

Kale * Extremely high levels of vitamins K, A, and C! Also has manganese, calcium, fiber, and antioxidants.

Onions * contain anti-aging antioxidants phenolics and flavonoids. A study by Dr. Liu showed that pungent and Western yellow onions protected the most against colon cancer, while pungent yellow, Western yellow, and shallots protected the most against liver cancer.

Peanuts * a great source of manganese, Vitamin E, tryptophan (calming!), niacin, folate, and copper! Peanuts also contain lots of healthy monounsaturated fats and antioxidants! They have been linked to a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and have been shown to significantly lower your chances of getting colorectal cancer.

A phyllo-fail and guiltless cookie dough…

Happy Sunday everyone. I hope everyone’s weekends have been going fabulously. I have been studying and functionally procrastinating during the day and going out at night. One of my procrastinating activities was playing around with whole wheat phyllo dough. I assumed making little, stuffed phyllo pastries would be easy peazy. Wrong. The dough is so hard to work with! It sticks together and gets dried out extremely fast. I managed to make 2 decent looking pastries and 1 that was quite deformed, but they all tasted good!

My phyllo fail:

Left to right: stuffed with avocado and sea salt,

feta and red onions,

and goat cheese, a dab of honey, and sea salt

Once I figure out how to make them properly, I will post a how to and recipes. Having only two to show doesn’t seem quite sufficient:

Anyway, I have a biochemistry midterm on Tuesday so that means I will probably post a super sciencey, informational post tomorrow in order to help myself review. But you’re in luck – it will be about metabolism and the biochemistry behind fat burning, fat synthesis, and cholesterol synthesis!

Im sure many of you who read my blog no doubt read Heather Eats Almond Butter. You may have noticed that she mentioned me in a post a couple days because of a recipe I sent her on the down-low. Now that she has outted my guiltless cookie dough to the blog world, it looks like I better post it!

Guiltless Cookie Dough

This recipe is a hybrid between Lori’s Black Bean Cookie Dough, and Evan’s PB Chip Hummus, and me! It sounds weird and it doesn’t look pretty but IT IS DELICIOUS. I ate the whole thing in two servings. It really tastes like cookie dough, but it is packed with 13 grams of fiber, 15 grams of protein, and healthy fats!

Don’t be fooled by its semblance to excrement. This shit is good.

Recipe: Makes 2+ servings

1 1/2 cups black beans

1 tbsp peanut butter

1 tbsp tahini

1 tbsp vanilla extract (a tinyy bit less than)

24 drops stevia

optional: 1 tbsp cream cheese (I have made it with and without this ingredient and am not sure which I like more. maybe without?)

Directions – Combine all in a blender and blend until smooth. Refrigerate until cool. Enjoy!

Benefits:

Peanut butter * a great source of manganese, Vitamin E, tryptophan (calming!), niacin, folate, and copper! Peanuts also contain lots of healthy monounsaturated fats and antioxidants! They have been linked to a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and have been shown to significantly lower your chances of getting colorectal cancer.

Black beans * contain high amounts of sulfite oxidases which means that they combat the damage done to your body when you eat foods containing preservatives. They also are fiber super stars and have lots of iron and folate.

Tahini * a good source of essential unsaturated fatty acids, copper, iron, calcium, fiber and B vitamins. Copper is good for treating some of the pain associated with rheumatoid arthritis due to its anti-inflammatory properties. Magnesium can help lower blood pressure and help women going through menopause maintain normal sleeping patterns. Also, seseami seeds have the highest content of phytosterols of all nuts! Phytosterols look similar to cholesterol and are believed to lower cholesterol levels, aid in immunity and decrease the risk of some cancers!

And each serving’s stats are pretty cool!

Calories 262.0
Total Fat 8.7 g
Saturated Fat 1.4 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 3.2 g
Monounsaturated Fat 3.5 g
Cholesterol 0.0 mg
Sodium 48.8 mg
Potassium 548.6 mg
Total Carbohydrate 33.9 g
Dietary Fiber 12.6 g
Sugars 0.7 g
Protein 14.6 g
Vitamin B-6 6.7 %
Calcium 7.0 %
Copper 21.8 %
Folate 51.7 %
Iron 19.6 %
Magnesium 27.6 %
Manganese 41.3 %
Niacin 10.8 %
Pantothenic Acid 4.5 %
hosphorus 26.1 %
Riboflavin 7.1 %
Thiamin 27.7 %
Zinc 13.4 %

A functional procrastinator makes biscuits..

Sometimes, I am a procrastinator. But I am a functional procrastinator – meaning that when I avoid a particular task, I make sure that whatever I do instead is accomplishing something. For example, on Tuesday I had a Systemic Physiology midterm at 3pm. Instead of studying for the 4 hours leading up to the exam, I made those vanilla protein bars you saw, some cookies, and pumpkin goat cheese biscuits. To me, that was totally accomplishing something. I have nourished my house mates with protein-laden bars and I have learned how to incorporate these delicious biscuits into breakfast, lunch, and dinner!

Pumpkin Goat Cheese Biscuits

These biscuits are whole wheat, but still very light and fluffy. They have a buttery pumpkin flavor with little notes of goat cheese until you bite into a big chunk and are floored by the delicious combo. :)

Recipe: Makes 7 biscuits

1/2 cups whole wheat white pasty flour

1/2 cup stone ground whole wheat flour

1/2 tbsp raw sugar

1  teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup pumpkin

2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter

5 tbsp goat cheese

1 large egg

1/4 milk

Directions – Preheat oven to 375.In a large bowl, sift together flours, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Mash butter in with a fork until it is well incorporated and piece-y. Crumble in the goat cheese until combined. In another bowl, stir together the egg, pumpkin, and milk. Pour the wet over the dry and combine with as few swoops of a spatula as possible. Use a 1/4 cup measure to plop dough balls onto a baking sheet. Slightly flatten with your fingers. Bake for 15-17 minutes.

Breakfast idea: Combine 1/2 of an avocado, 1 crumbled biscuit, some goat cheese, sea salt, and 3 scrambled eggs in a bowl and enjoy!

Kept me full for hours.

Lunch idea: Slice a pumpkin goat cheese biscuit in half, lightly toast it, and spread some fruit jam one side. Layer in some turkey or turkey bacon and serve with an arugula side salad.

Benefits:

Pumpkin * An impressive source of vitamins A and C and iron, manganese, and riboflavin! Also is high in fiber and low in saturated fat.

Whole wheat flour * a great source of dietary fiber, niacin, thiamin, B6, folate, pantothenic acid, riboflavin, iron, magnesium, phosphorous, zinc, copper, manganese, and selenium! Make sure to use 100% whole wheat flour or else you are missing out on these vitamins and minerals and almost all of the fiber!

Homemade Protein Bars (that actually taste good)!

I am so excited to share this recipe with all of you! It all started a few days ago when my house mate and I were at Savemart. Chelsea asked me which bar she should buy for breakfast and I told her that I avoid basically all bars in general (except Kind almond macadamia and Perfect Foods bars). I think they tend to be full of mediocre and/or synthetic ingredients and are usually high carbohydrate and low protein. Disheartened, she ended up not buying any. When we got back to the house, I offered to try and make her a bar that was both high protein and not super high calorie so that she could munch on other things throughout the morning. After two trials, I am proud to present my recipe for homemade protein bars!

Each bar has 215 calories, 12 grams of fat (10 of them unsaturated!), 14 grams of carbohydrates, 4 grams of fiber, and 17 grams of protein.

Homemade Vanilla Protein Bars

Recipe: Makes 10 bars

10 tbsp almond butter (or your favorite nut butter)

2 tsp vanilla extract

5 egg whites

5 scoops vanilla whey protein powder (or your favorite flavor, don’t use isolate)

1 cup oats

1/2 cup oat bran

1/2 cup dried, shredded coconut (I used reduced fat for this recipe to increase the fiber)

1/4 cup vanilla almond milk

1 1/2 tbsp pumpkin (optional, I think)

shake cinnamon

stevia to taste

Directions – Preheat the oven to 250. Mix the peanut butter, vanilla extract, and egg whites in a large bowl until smooth and homogenous. Add in the protein powder and stir until well combined. Add the oats, oat bran, shredded coconut, pumpkin, cinnamon, and milk. Stir until well combined. Taste it and if it isn’t sweet enough for you, add a bit of stevia. I didn’t need to because the protein powder was sweetened enough. Pour into 2 greased pie tins (or you can use something square if you want them to be rectangular) and bake until the edges have separated from the tin.

To be honest, I should have paid more attention to how long I baked them for. Between 10 and 15 minutes? They will be soft throughout and a bit gooey in the very center. You don’t want to overcook them because they will be dry and not taste nearly as good, so watch and check them!

Remove from the oven and let cool (you can put them in the fridge to speed process). Cut into 10 bars/slices.

So yummy!

These bars remind me of some of my favorite blogging friends who I know kick ass in the weight room. Ahem Lori, Lindsay, Ms Wood, April, Mimi, and Melisa.

Benefits:

Rolled oats * A prime source of fiber. Also contain potassium, phosphorous, pantothenic acid, and magnesium.

Coconut * coconut gets a bad rap because of its saturated fat content, but its fatty acids are mainly medium-chain triglycerides, not long-chain. The long-chain triglycerides are bad for our cholesterol levels, but coconut has been shown to improve cholesterol levels. Animal studies suggest that medium-chain triglycerides can increase metabolism.

Cinnamon * In one study, after taking 1/4 – 1 tsp cinnamon daily for 40 days, all participants benefitted from a reduction of fasting blood sugar levels, blood triglycerides, and LDL (bad) cholesterol! It is very high in antioxidants and can help stabilize blood sugar levels, which will help prevent an insulin spike, and thus the storage of fat.

Almond butter * A great source of monounsaturated fats! These are the fats that raise HDL (good cholesterol) levels and lower LDL (bad cholesterol) levels!

Gluten, Dairy & Sugar Free: Purely Coconut Muffins!

I, personally, am very tolerant of gluten. You could even say I love gluten because ingredients that contain gluten often have a high fiber content… and we all know I love fiber. However, I have been interested in gluten free and lower carbohydrate baking lately. My biochemistry class has emphasized over and over again how our bodies do not need dietary sugar (glucose). We can make glucose from lactate (from weight lifting or heavy drinking…), amino acids (dietary or – hopefully not – muscle protein), pyruvate, or glycerol (from fat). So, I have been wanting to make more gluten free muffins (like my Lemon Poppyseed) and ever since Heather introduced me to coconut flour, I have had coconut flour muffins on the brain! With a few trials, I have created a gluten free coconut muffin that I have been enjoying every morning with some greek yogurt and shredded coconut!

*Recipe has been updated and improved! 9/10/2011*

GF Coconut Muffins


Recipe: Makes 6-8 muffins

Dry ingredients:

1 cup coconut flour

1  tsp baking soda

(optional: 1/2 cup sugar)

Liquid ingredients:

4 eggs

1 tbsp coconut oil

1 cup coconut milk

sweetener of choice (1 mashed overripe banana, 1/2 cup honey, 1/2 cup coconut nectar, the sugar listed above, or just the stevia listed below – I recommend a combo of liquid sweetener and stevia)

1 tsp vanilla extract

stevia drops, to taste

coconut oil to grease muffin pan

Directions – Preheat the oven to 350. Combine all of the dry ingredients in one bowl and mix. Combine all of the wet ingredients in another bowl and mix. If possible, use room temp milk so that the coconut oil doesn’t harden when you combine them.) Pour the wet over the dry and combine with a spatula. Grease a muffin pan with some coconut oil and add the batter. If you wish, you can sprinkle some shredded coconut over the tops for a pretty effect. Bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes, or until they pass the toothpick test.

Benefits:

Coconut * coconut gets a bad rap because of its saturated fat content, but its fatty acids are mainly medium-chain triglycerides, not long-chain. The long-chain triglycerides are bad for our cholesterol levels, but coconut has been shown to improve cholesterol levels. Animal studies suggest that medium-chain triglycerides can increase metabolism.

Coconut flour * 1 cup contains 40 grams of fiber and 16 grams of protein. It is one of the lowest carb flours you can use!

Eggs * the yolk is where all the nutrients are! It contains tryptophan, selenium, iodine, B vitamins, and phosphorous, many of which are necessary for optimal metabolism. The egg white has 6 grams of complete protein!

Next up: Chocolate Coconut Muffins and COCONUT RUM MUFFINS!

Quiche so good I ate it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner..

This quiche recipe is very simple and very healthy. I wanted to make a quiche that you could enjoy a huge slice of and feel truly satisfied afterwards. Satisfaction stems from both high quality taste and a food’s nutritional profile. This recipe includes both, and is also extremely quick to make because you can use a frozen whole wheat pie crust. Oh, and did I mention it has 80 grams of protein?

Goat Cheese Quiche

Concrete isn’t really an ideal background…sorry.

Recipe: Makes 4 servings

1 whole wheat pie crust

3 whole eggs

8 egg whites

1 tbsp half and half

3 tbsp chopped purple onion

sea salt

fresh ground pepper

1/4 tsp dill

2-oz goat cheese

Directions – Preheat the oven to 400. Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl, except the goat cheese. Stir with a fork until well mixed. Pour into the pie crust. Crumble the goat cheese over the top. Bake for about 40 minutes, or until cooked all the way through. Serve with a side of greens or fruit for a complete meal!

Benefits:

Eggs * the yolk is where all the nutrients are! It contains tryptophan, selenium, iodine, B vitamins, and phosphorous, many of which are necessary for optimal metabolism. The egg white has 6 grams of complete protein!

Dill * aids in digestion, is a relaxant, can help ease insomnia, and contains the antioxidants monoterpenes, which protect against cancer!

Whole wheat flour * unlike refined white flour, whole wheat flour has more B vitamins, fiber, folic acid, calcium, zinc, phosphorous, copper, and iron. Whole grains reduce your risk for diabetes and have also been linked to weight loss and maintaining a lower BMI.

Check out those stats!

Amount Per Serving
Calories 354.6
Total Fat 23.2 g
Saturated Fat 11.5 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0.6 g
Monounsaturated Fat 2.2 g
Cholesterol 167.3 mg
Sodium 411.0 mg
Potassium 53.9 mg
Total Carbohydrate 19.1 g
Dietary Fiber 4.1 g
Sugars 2.1 g
Protein 19.5 g

And remember! Saturated fat is not the devil.

Vitamin A 8.0 %
Vitamin B-12 6.9 %
Vitamin B-6 4.5 %
Vitamin D 4.9 %
Calcium 4.2 %
Copper 5.5 %
Folate 4.9 %
Iron 8.5 %
Pantothenic Acid 5.8 %
Phosphorus 10.7 %
Riboflavin 14.7 %
Selenium 17.2 %