Category Archives: Diets and Weight Loss
Low Carb Substitutes for Pasta
Watching your calories and carbs doesn’t mean you can’t get a pasta fix. There are plenty of lower carb alternatives to regular noodles.
This one might be a no-brainer, since spaghetti is in the name, but it’s still greatly underappreciated. You can bake it until soft, or even nuke it in the microwave for a fast fix. Then just scrape out the noodle-like strands with a fork. A cup of the cooked strands has only about 40 calories.
Spaghetti squash is full of fiber and other nutrients, and it’s incredibly versatile — fantastic with low-fat marinara, pesto, or cheese sauce. It’s even good simply tossed with a little light butter and topped with grated Parm.
House Foods Tofu Shirataki Noodle Substitute
I’ve been a big fan of this soy-based swap for years. You can eat an entire bag of noodles for just 20 calories. (Yes, you read that right!) Ounce for ounce, regular pasta contains 10 times as many calories. You do need to drain and rinse Tofu Shirataki thoroughly (It comes floating in liquid), but it’s absolutely worth the effort. And these noodles don’t require any cooking; they just need to be heated. You can stir-fry them, or just toss ’em in the microwave (blot excess liquid, if you do). Bonus? They come in a variety of shapes: spaghetti, angel hair, fettuccine… even macaroni. Here’s a tip, though: Don’t confuse Tofu Shirataki with regular shirataki noodles.
The added tofu really improves the texture.
Surprised to see eggplant on this list? Well, when you’re craving lasagna without the starchy carbs, eggplant is your best bet. Cut it lengthwise, soften it up in a skillet, and replace some (or all) of your lasagna noodles with the slices. The result is a towering serving of lasagna with a fraction of the calories.
To keep your lasagna low in fat, use light cheeses and low-fat sauce.
Zucchini ribbons are an amazing fettuccine alternative. Here’s how to make them: Use a vegetable peeler to peel zucchini lengthwise into super-thin strips, rotating zucchini around as you go — and you’ve got noodles! Since zucchini is a summer squash, this swap is perfect in picnic-ready pasta salads.
Broccoli Cole Slaw
Broccoli cole slaw is a blend of shredded broccoli, carrots, and red cabbage. It’s packed with vitamins and high in fiber. And get this: You can eat four cups of it for about 100 calories. Just steam it in the microwave or cook it in a skillet with a little water. I like it with low-fat marinara sauce or seasoned-up canned crushed tomatoes. It’s also great in saucy stir-frys.
If you’re into Asian-style noodle dishes, bean sprouts are the perfect swap for you. They tend to take on the taste of whatever they’re cooked with — add soy sauce or teriyaki sauce to impart major flavor. Like broccoli slaw, these can be cooked in the microwave or a skillet. Each cup of raw sprouts has about 30 calories. They cook down to about half the volume, so start with a few cups. Make sure to mix it up with Tofu Shirataki, too.
Call us if you need help starting a low carb diet. You cannot go cold turkey with carbs, that can cause more problems for you down the road.
Health and Wellness Associates
Dandelions have sure gotten a bad rap lately, and many home owners are trying to combat them using pesticides that contaminate our soil and ground water. Nothing found in nature is by accident, and the dandelion is no different. Just think about it’s bright fluffy attractive flower. The dandelion is the very first food for the bees, and comes out before any other flower. Before the bees move on to the fruit blossoms, they strengthen their hives with the healing benefits of the dandelion.
Folks in the past understood the healing benefits of this wonderful “weed”. Dandelions come in spring, gather the heat of the sun, and cleanse the body from the toxins accumulated over winter. They have long been used by Native American, Chinese, Middle Eastern, and many European cultures to cure an array of conditions from upset stomachs to liver disease. The roots, leaves, and blossoms have all been eaten fresh, brewed into teas, and even made into a honey-like syrup. Europeans often add the fresh leaves to salads. They are delicious, and very high in vitamin A, vitamin C, and Calcium.
I had heard of dandelion jelly, and thought we would try our hand at putting those 222 tiny petals on each of those wonderful spring flowers to work. It has proven to be a cost-efficient substitute for raw bee honey. The flavor is a little florally with a semi sweet after taste. It does tend to crystallize, but melts nicely over hot toast or into tea.
3 cups of dandelion heads
3 cups of water
1 tbsp vanilla extract or 2 vanilla beans split
Lemon cut into 3-4 thick pieces
1 teaspoon cinnamon or 2 cinnamon stick
- Bring to a rolling boil, and simmer 30 minutes.
- Turn off, and allow to steep 6 hours, or overnight.
- Strain (using a cheesecloth set in a strainer, over a bowl) until no more liquid is dripping out. I also squeezed any extra out by hand.
- Return liquid only to the pan, add 4 cups of sugar, and simmer at a low rolling boil for 2-3 hours. Stir ever 20-30 minutes to prevent burning to the bottom
- Sterilize jars, and rims, and pour hot jelly into hot jars. Secure lid, and you’re done.
- Store in a cool dark place for up to a year.
Health and Wellness Associates
French Dip Sandwich with Onions Recipe
This is a solid recipe for diabetics, or if you need more protein in your diet.
2 large onions, cut into 1/4-inch slices
1/4 cup butter, cubed
1 beef rump roast or bottom round roast (3 to 4 pounds)
5 cups water
1/2 cup soy sauce
1 envelope onion soup mix
1-1/2 teaspoons browning sauce, optional
1 garlic clove, minced
12 to 14 French rolls, split
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded Swiss cheese
In a large skillet, saute onions in butter until tender. Transfer to a 5-qt. slow cooker. Cut roast in half; place over onions.
In a large bowl, combine the water, soy sauce, soup mix, browning sauce if desired and garlic; pour over roast. Cover and cook on low for 7-9 hours or until meat is tender.
Remove roast with a slotted spoon and let stand for 15 minutes. Thinly slice meat across the grain. Place on roll bottoms; sprinkle with Swiss cheese. Place on an ungreased baking sheet.
Broil 3-4 in. from the heat for 1 minute or until cheese is melted. Replace tops. Skim fat from cooking juices; strain and serve as a dipping sauce. Yield: 12-14 servings.
Health and Wellness Associates
Say goodbye to soda, juice, and bottled water with these refreshing, healthy flavors! I’m keeping 2-3 flavors of this “spa water” in my fridge now, so I have a variety to motivate me to drink more water.
I was a hardcore Dr. Pepper girl for years. Then I gave up regular soda because of the high sugar content and switched to diet soda. Next we were warned to avoid the chemicals in diet soda; and more recently studies have indicated that diet soda actually causes rather than prevents weight gain (source). Geez. Lots of us moved on to bottled water, but that has landfill and environmental consequences and can be less healthy than regular tap water (source). Juice has more nutrition than soda, but is comparable in sugar, carb, and calorie content (source). Dang. It’s hard to keep up.
At the end of the day, regular old tap water–or at least a filtered version of it–seems to be the way to go. I’m fortunate that St. Louis is considered to have some of the best tasting tap water in the U.S. I still prefer the taste of it filtered through a Brita Water Filter Pitcher–we’ve been using one for years. But, I still don’t drink enough water.
Aside from my morning coffee, I honestly forget to drink fluids throughout the day. I know that it’s important for my health. I don’t dislike water, but I do get kind of bored with it. That was the motivation for starting to make flavored waters.
Subtle flavor without sweetness
These aren’t sweet waters, so they’ll be disappointing if that’s what you’re expecting. This is water with subtle flavors infused into it. Water with a little something extra. A touch of flavor–not an explosion of flavor–with little or no sweetness. You’ve probably had pitchers of ice water with lemon served at restaurants. This is the same idea, but with more variety. Many spas serve fancy waters like these, and it turns out that they couldn’t be simpler to make. And, they are oh-so-refreshing.
The KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid) approach to Flavored Waters
My natural tendency is to go overboard and overcomplicate things, so I really have to fight that when I’m developing recipes. I read about and was tempted to try all kinds of methods for flavoring water that involve blenders, boiling, specialty infuser pitchers, and lots of different ingredients. But, I know myself. If I truly want to transition completely away from soda & juice and drink more water throughout the day, I have to make this simple so it can be an easy routine for me to maintain. When I read celebrity chef Jamie Oliver’s quick and uncomplicated approach to making flavored waters, I was inspired to follow his lead and keep it simple. My easy formula for making KISS flavored waters is to use only fruit and herbs, water, ice, and a jar or pitcher. This is something I can make in a minute or two so I can always have flavored waters on hand in my fridge.
How to make
Naturally Flavored Water
fruit — whatever kind you like (except no bananas); make sure it’s good and ripe for maximum sweetness and flavor. I like to use all kinds of citrus and berries. I also found pineapple and watermelon to work well for flavoring water. If you don’t want to buy whole ones, many grocery stores sell small containers of pre-cut fruit.
herbs — these are optional, but many herbs are a surprising complement to fruit flavors; almost any herb will work depending on your personal preference
jars or pitchers — I use 2 quart mason jars primarily, but any 2 quart pitcher will do.
fruit infusion pitcher–I recently purchased one of these–it’s another option if you think you’ll be making infused waters regularly; a very easy, tidy way to strain fruit from water.
fruit infusion water bottle–I love using this for a portable, on-the-go option.
muddler or wooden spoon for mashing fruit and herbs
water — I use filtered water, but regular tap water is fine if yours tastes good to you
Fresh vs. frozen fruit. When in season, I prefer to use fresh fruit. However, when fruit is out of season, the fresh version can be tart or flavorless. Because fruit that is to be frozen is picked at the peak of ripeness, it is often the better option for the best flavor, sweetness, and nutrients. I find this to especially to be the case with berries and peaches.
A variety of fresh herbs. Use whatever herbs you like or happen to have on hand. I picked all of these from my herb garden and have tried them in flavored waters. It’s surprising how well they blend with most fruit flavors, and they amp up the refreshing factor of the water. Mint is the most obvious herb choice. I also have tried basil, rosemary, sage, thyme, lavender, and tarragon. All good.
I’ll share some of the fruit and herb combos that I’ve recently tried for flavoring water. But, honestly, you can combine most fruits and herbs according to your favorite flavors and what you have on hand in your fridge. I’ll show you how to make 5 flavor combos. You can take it from there, creating endless flavor combos of your own.
Quantities: The quantities in my flavored water recipes are all for 2 quart jars or pitchers. However, I ran out of the 2 quart jars and used a few 1 quart jars, halving the recipe ingredients. So, don’t be confused by the different jar sizes. It’s easy to make a full or half batch depending on your jar or pitcher size.
The first 2 waters are
flavored with fruit only (no herbs)
WASH FRUIT THOROUGHLY! The citrus and berries need to be really, really clean to keep contaminants and bacteria out of your flavored water. I recommend organic fruit, if it isn’t going to be peeled.
- 1. All Citrus Flavored Water (adds refreshing tartness to water) — slice 1 orange, 1 lime, 1 lemon into rounds, then cut the rounds in half. Add to jar, press and twist with a muddler or the handle of a wooden spoon. Press enough to release some of the juices, but don’t pulverize the fruit into pieces. Fill the jar with ice. Pour in water to the top. Stir it with the handle of a wooden spoon or a chopstick. Put a lid on it, put it in the fridge, and chill.
You can drink it right away, but the flavor intensifies if it’s made an hour or two ahead. It’s even better the next day. 24 hours later straight from the fridge, the ice still hasn’t melted completely in mine. The ice at the top serves as a sieve so that you can pour the flavored water without getting fruit bits in your glass.
- Raspberry Lime Flavored Water (beautiful color and mildly tart) — Quarter 2 limes; with your hands, squeeze the juice into the jar, then throw in the squeezed lime quarters. Add raspberries. Press and twist with a muddler to release some of the juices (don’t pulverize the fruit). Fill the jar with ice, then add water to the top. Stir, cover, and refrigerate.
The next 3 waters are
flavored with fruit and herb combos
- 3. Pineapple Mint Flavored Water (a hint of minty sweetness). Add a sprig of mint to the jar–you can throw in the whole sprig; or, remove the leaves from the sprig, if you prefer to have the mint swimming around and distributing in the jar. Muddle the mint–the goal is to bruise the leaves and release their flavor–don’t pulverize them into bits. Add pineapple pieces, press and twist with the muddler to release juices. Add ice to the top and then water. Stir, cover, and refrigerate.
- 4. Blackberry Sage Flavored Water (subtle, refreshing flavor). Add sage leaves to jar and bruise with a muddler. Add blackberries; press and twist with muddler to release their juices. Fill jar with ice cubes, add water to the top, stir, cover and refrigerate.
- Watermelon Rosemary Flavored Water (lovely flavor combo). Add a sprig of rosemary to jar and muddle gently (rosemary releases a strong flavor without much muddling). Add watermelon cubes; twist and press gently to release juices. Fill jar with ice cubes, add water to the top, stir, cover and refrigerate.
How long will they keep? Put a lid on them, put them in fridge, and they will keep for up to 3 days. It only takes a few minutes to make several varieties to keep on hand. No more boring water for me!
Pour a glass. When there’s still ice left in the jar (my ice lasts up to 24 hours in the fridge), it will filter out the fruit/herb bits as you pour the water into a glass. After the ice melts, if you don’t want to drink fruit bits along with the water, use a small wire strainer to remove them as you pour the water into your drinking glass. UPDATE: Another option that was suggested by reader Kelley in the comments section is to use a sprout strainer lid made to fit wide mouth mason jars. I bought one, and it works great! (Thanks for the tip, Kelley!)
Sweeten it up, if you must. If you have a sweet tooth and find these flavored waters undrinkable without some sweetener, go ahead and stir in some simple sugar syrup, honey, agave syrup, or whatever sweetener you prefer. 1 teaspoon of sugar only has 15 calories, so go ahead and add one to your glass. Given that a single can of soda or juice has the equivalent of 10 teaspoons of sugar, you are still way better off drinking slightly sweetened water. If you are hooked on sweet tasting drinks and want to reduce or eliminate sugar or artificial sweeteners, you may need to wean yourself gradually. Unsweetened beverages are an acquired taste. I prefer them now, but it took me awhile to get there.
Or, try making my Naturally Flavored Fruit & Herb Honey Syrups. Just stir these into your chilled water for a healthier way to add a hint of flavored sweetness.
Great for entertaining! Flavored waters are very popular now, as more people are avoiding soda and juice. Make a variety of flavored waters to offer at your next party. Look how gorgeous they are! Refreshing, healthy, inexpensive, and beautiful. Plus you can make and refrigerate them well in advance of the party.
You might also enjoy these recipes:
General formula for whatever fruit/herb combo you desire.
- If using herbs, add a sprig of fresh herbs to jar/pitcher; press and twist with muddler or handle of wooden spoon to bruise leaves and release flavor; don’t pulverize the herbs into bits.
- Add approx. 2 cups of fruit to jar/pitcher; press and twist with muddler or handle of wooden spoon, just enough to release some of the juices
- Fill jar/pitcher with ice cubes.
- Add water to top of jar/pitcher.
- Cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days.
Suggested flavor combinations:
ALL CITRUS (no herbs) — Slice 1 orange, 1 lime, 1 lemon into rounds, then cut the rounds in half. Add to jar and proceed with muddling, add ice & water.
RASPBERRY LIME (no herbs) — Quarter 2 limes; with your hands, squeeze the juice into the jar, then throw in the squeezed lime quarters. Add 2 cups raspberries. Muddle, add ice & water.
PINEAPPLE MINT — Add a sprig of mint to the jar (you can throw in the whole sprig; or, remove the leaves from the sprig, if you prefer to have the mint swimming around and distributing in the jar). Muddle the mint. Add 2 cups pineapple pieces, muddle, add ice & water.
BLACKBERRY SAGE — Add sage sprig to jar and muddle. Add 2 cups blackberries; muddle, add ice & water.
WATERMELON ROSEMARY — Add rosemary sprig to jar & muddle. Add 2 cups watermelon cubes; muddle, add ice and water.
Health and Wellness Associates
Berries and Coconut Whip Cream
Is it good for YOU?
Try bringing berries into your regular diet if you have any illness or symptom, including high cholesterol, ovarian cysts, irregular menstruation, brain cancer, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), stroke, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism, encephalitis, epilepsy, Huntington’s disease, narcolepsy, osteomyelitis, Tourette’s syndrome, cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis (MS), atherosclerosis, heart disease, ovarian cancer, atrial fibrillation, prostate cancer, polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), mystery infertility, endometriosis, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), acne, weight gain, bladder infections, fibroids, hypoglycemia, psoriasis, adenomas, edema, thyroid nodules, hot flashes, sensations of humming or vibration in the body, headaches, nerve pain; mineral deficiencies, frozen shoulder, panic attacks, phobias, brain lesions, jaw pain, anxiousness, scar tissue, Candida overgrowth, back pain and if you are female.
As you eat berries, reflect on the abundance of berries available year-round and how they grow on bushes low to the ground so we can easily pick them and share in them with animals also in need of nourishment. The selfless nature of berries help us to also become more generous, kind, and selfless in turn.
Beautiful and enticing, these berries-and-cream bowls are perfect for brunch, entertaining, or dessert. The coconut milk whips into a cloud of light, fluffy whipped cream, and the hint of ginger and lemon zest completes the dish. Enjoy impressing those you love with these beautiful berry bowls.
Berries and Coconut Whip Cream
1 cup blueberries
1 cup blackberries
1 cup raspberries
1 cup strawberries
2 x 13.5-ounce cans full-fat coconut milk, refrigerated
¼ teaspoon grated ginger
1 teaspoon maple syrup
Lemon juice (from about ¼ lemon)
1 2-inch piece vanilla bean pod, split lengthwise
1 teaspoon lemon zest
4 leaves fresh mint, minced
Rinse the berries, mix them together, and divide them evenly into 2 bowls. Open the cans of coconut milk, being careful not to shake them. Coconut milk naturally separates in the can, leaving a thick, heavy layer on top. Scoop out the solid cream from each can and place it in a small mixing bowl. (You will need ½ cup of cream.) Discard the thin liquid that remains. Using a fork, whisk together the coconut cream, ginger, maple syrup, lemon juice, and the scraped seeds from the vanilla bean pod. Whisk until the mixture is well combined and smooth. Scoop a generous dollop of cream over the berries in each bowl. Top with the lemon zest and mint.
Health and Wellness Associates
Erythritol is a sugar alcohol like xylitol that is the worst artificial sweetener! A lot of people think it’s awesome because it decreases the amount of sugar and calories in what they’re consuming. You’ll commonly find it as an ingredient in low-sugar and sugar-free foods, but there are some very concerning and common erythritol side effects — even when it’s used in low amounts, erythritol consumption can cause diarrhea, stomachache and headache.
The reason why it doesn’t provide calories or sugar to its consumer is because the body actually can’t break it down! That’s right — even though erythritol travels through your body, it doesn’t get metabolized. (1)
Is erythritol a safe and smart substitute for sugar? If it’s made from GMO cornstarch, then absolutely not. I definitely don’t recommend it, especially when there are healthier, safer options readily available. If you’re talking about non-GMO erythritol, then it can be a better choice than some other artificial sweeteners, but I still think there are better options out there.
Erythritol is rapidly absorbed in the small intestine, but it’s poorly metabolized, has absolutely no known functions in the human body and is excreted through the urine unchanged. As we’ve seen before, just because a sweetener doesn’t have calories and doesn’t appear to affect blood sugar, it does not mean that it’s good for your health.
What Is Erythritol?
If you’re a label reader (and I hope you are!), you may have noticed erythritol becoming more and more prominent in ingredient lists lately, especially in energy and sports drinks, thinking to yourself, what is erythritol? It naturally occurs in some fruits and fermented foods, but the variety being added to food and beverages today is typically man-made from GMO cornstarch, resulting in an ultra-processed food — very far from a natural sweetening agent. It’s one of those “invisible GMO ingredients.” It’s also likely to be an insecticide in the near future since researchers have found that the main component of Truvia®, erythritol has proven potent insecticidal activity. (2)
Erythritol is a four-carbon sugar alcohol or polyol that contains about 60 percent to 80 percent of the sweetness of table sugar. Sugar alcohol has nothing to do with cocktails, though since it does not contain ethanol (aka alcohol) like alcoholic beverages. Other sugar alcohols include sorbitol, lactitol, maltitol, mannitol and xylitol. Fruits like watermelon, pear and grapes naturally have minor amounts of erythritol, as do mushrooms and fermented foods like cheese, wine, beer and sake. (3)
Erythritol was first discovered in 1848 by a Scottish chemist named John Stenhouse. Japan has been using it since the early 1990s in candies, jellies, jams, chocolate, yogurt, beverages and as a sugar substitute. It’s gained popularity in the United States more recently. As of 1997, it has the status of generally recognized as safe from the FDA, which honestly really doesn’t tell you much about how safe it is. The food industry and consumers love it because it can have up to 80 percent of the sweetness of sugar, but it’s noncaloric and does not raise blood sugar levels.
Erythritol is now commonly added to many packaged food and drink items as well as sugar-free gums, mints and even some medications. It’s also available by itself as a granulated or powdered sweetener, like Zsweet and Swerve. Erythritol does occur naturally in some fruits and fermented foods — however, the problem is that the grand majority of erythritol used in products today is man-made by taking glucose (most commonly from GMO cornstarch) and fermenting it with a yeast called Moniliella pollinis.
7 Reasons to Not Consume Erythritol (Especially the GMO Kind)
The World Health Organization defines genetically modified organisms (GMOs) as “foods derived from organisms whose genetic material (DNA) has been modified in a way that does not occur naturally, e.g. through the introduction of a gene from a different organism.” (4) Much of the erythritol used in foods and beverages today is derived from cornstarch from genetically modified corn.
Truvia, which markets itself as stevia, is actually about 95 percent genetically modified erythritol with a little bit of rebiana (a stevia derivative) and “natural flavors” thrown in. (5) Animal studies have linked consumption of GMOs with infertility, immune problems, accelerated aging, faulty insulin regulation, and changes in major organs and the gastrointestinal system. (6)
- Commonly Combined with Artificial Sweeteners
Erythritol is not as sweet as sugar on its own so it’s often combined in foods and beverages with other questionable sweeteners, usually ones that are artificial. When combined with artificial sweeteners like aspartame, the erythritol-laden product becomes even more lethal to your health. Side effects of aspartame include anxiety, depression, short-term memory loss, fibromyalgia, weight gain, fatigue, brain tumors and more.
Since products containing erythritol typically also contain artificial sweeteners like aspartame, the side effects of that particular food or beverage become even more likely as well as dangerous.
- Gastrointestinal Problems and Headache
Sugar alcohols like erythritol are well-known for their link to digestive issues. Some of the most common erythritol side effects in small amounts, and especially in large amounts, are undesirable gastrointestinal side effects. These GI side effects are especially common in children. (7)
Unfortunately, the gastrointestinal issues don’t necessarily stop at some rumbling in your stomach. Diarrhea is a well-known common erythritol side effect. Especially when consumed in excess, unabsorbed erythritol can attract water from the intestinal wall and cause diarrhea. The likelihood of diarrhea appears to be even more likely when erythritol is consumed along with fructose. (8) Diarrhea might sound harmless, but it can lead to dehydration and malnutrition.
Many people report upset stomach and diarrhea after consuming normal amounts of erythritol in food or beverages. If consumption is high (50 grams or more per day) then digestive troubles, including gas, cramping, bloating, stomachache and diarrhea, become even more likely. One study specifically showed that the intake of 50 grams of erythritol causes stomach rumbling and nausea. (9)
In 2012, a pediatric study looked at the GI tolerability of erythritol. The aim was to determine the maximum dose level of erythritol that’s well-tolerated by young children (4–6 years old) in a single drinking occasion. The researchers concluded that there is “a safety concern with respect to GI tolerability for the use of erythritol in beverages at a maximum use level of 2.5% for non-sweetening purposes.” (10)
Headaches are another common but less studied side effect.
Seven reasons to not consume erythritol – Dr. Axe
- Could Lead to Overeating
One of the ongoing problems with noncaloric artificial sweeteners is that they don’t get processed by your body the way regular sugar gets processed. When you eat foods containing table sugar and healthier natural sweeteners, your body knows exactly what to do with them. The sugar gets metabolized, and hormones are released to decrease your appetite.
The problem with erythritol is that it’s a sugar alcohol that basically just goes right through your body. It does not metabolized, and therefore, your body may not be getting calories or sugar. It’s also not registering that any fuel got put into your body at all. This is why you can end up still feeling hungry after you consume products with alternative and fake man-made sugars. The body is left feeling unfilled, and you still want to eat or drink something else. This is a slippery slope that can lead to overeating and weight gain. Weight gain has been seen when sugar alcohols like erythritol are overeaten. (11)
- Terrible for SIBO and IBS Sufferers
SIBO is a more prevalent digestive disorder than previously believed, and it occurs in many people suffering from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and other underlying conditions. (12) SIBO is the acronym for “small intestinal bacterial overgrowth,” defined as excessive bacteria in the small intestine. While bacteria naturally occurs throughout the digestive tract, in a healthy system, the small intestine is supposed to have relatively low levels of bacteria. When people suffer from SIBO or IBS, what they put into their bodies on a daily basis can truly spell the difference between healing or increased distress.
Polyols like erythritol top the list for ingredients to avoid with a digestive problem like SIBO because they can so commonly be irritating and problematic to the digestive system.
- Allergic Reactions
Although not highly common, erythritol can cause an allergic skin reaction for some people. A study published in 2000 in the Journal of Dermatology demonstrates how drinks containing erythritol can potentially cause a severe allergic skin reaction. A young 24-year-old woman had severe wheals all over her entire body after having one glass of a beverage sweetened with erythritol. (13)
A wheal, often called a welt or hives, is a a raised, itchy area of skin that’s sometimes an obvious sign of an allergy to something you’ve consumed or come in contact with. When you suddenly have a negative skin reaction, it’s always important to consider what you most recently consumed, especially if it contained a questionable ingredient like erythritol.
- Excellent Insecticide
If you’re not yet convinced that you should stay away from erythritol, there’s more. As of 2014, researchers at Drexel University were pursuing a patent on erythritol as an insecticide and are continuing to study its effectiveness. Yes, that’s right — not only is it low in calories, it’s also really great at killing bugs. I wish I was joking, but I’m not.
The 2014 study is titled “Erythritol, a Non-Nutritive Sugar Alcohol Sweetener and the Main Component of Truvia®, Is a Palatable Ingested Insecticide.” The researchers show that erythritol is toxic to flies, which are drawn to its sweet flavor, which makes erythritol a “killer combination.” (14) I don’t know about you, but I certainly would rather put some raw honey in my next cup of tea rather than a proven bug killer.
The Positive Side of Erythritol
If you purchase a product that has erythritol, how do you know if it’s a GMO erythritol? The product needs to have a USDA Organic- or a Non-GMO Project-certified insignia on the packaging. Under these guidelines, it cannot be from a GMO source.
If you choose a non-GMO erythritol, can be beneficial? I would say the answer is somewhat. Fans of this common sweetener mainly love it because of its lack of calories, which can be helpful to weight management. However, as I’ve said before, the lack of calories in sweeteners can be very confusing to our bodies and brains. Many people also choose it as their sweetener of choice because it won’t cause a blood sugar spike, which can be especially helpful for diabetics.
Studies have been mixed, but some say that erythritol can decrease plaque or, at the least, not contribute to tooth decay. One double-blind, randomized trial study looked at the effects of erythritol on 485 primary school children. Each child consumed four erythritol, xylitol or sorbitol candies three times per school day. In the follow-up examinations, researchers observed a lower number of cavities in the erythritol group than in the xylitol or sorbitol groups. The time until the development of cavities was also longest in the erythritol group. (15)
Better Sweetener Alternatives
Erythritol may have some positives, but I’m not convinced that those positives outweigh the negatives. I personally would rather use stevia because it also doesn’t spike blood sugar and has more proven health benefits, including improvements in cholesterol, blood pressure and even some types of cancer. (16) Raw honey is another favorite of mine that’s truly a superfood. I also recommend monk fruit, which is a fruit-derived sweetener that has been used for hundreds of years.
I’m talking about a real stevia product, not Truvia. Stevia is an herbal plant that belongs to the Asteraceae family. The stevia plant has been used for over 1,500 years by the Guaraní people of Brazil and Paraguay. It’s really a great, health-promoting choice when you buy a high-quality, pure stevia product. Make sure to buy stevia without additives and one that has been less processed. I recommend green stevia as the best option.
Raw honey is a pure, unfiltered and unpasteurized sweetener made by bees from the nectar of flowers. Unlike processed honey, raw honey does not get robbed of its incredible nutritional value and health powers. It has been scientifically proven to help with allergies, diabetes, sleep problems, coughs and wound healing. Look for a local beekeeper to source your raw honey. This makes it even more likely to help with seasonal allergies.
Monk fruit, also called luo han guo, has been used as a sweetener for centuries, and after many years being only available overseas, it’s recently become easier to find in grocery stores in the United States. Monk fruit contains compounds that, when extracted, are natural sweeteners 300–400 times sweeter than cane sugar — but with no calories and no effect on blood sugar. Just make sure that the monk fruit product you’re purchasing doesn’t contain any GMO-derived erythritol or other unhealthy additives.
Final Thoughts on Erythritol
Once erythritol enters your body, it’s rapidly absorbed in the small intestine with only about 10 percent entering the colon while the other 90 percent is excreted in the urine. It essentially goes through your system untouched with zero metabolization. Many manufacturers and consumers think this is great because that means no added calories or sugar to your diet, but what about it is really healthy or natural? Certainly nothing if it’s man-made from genetically modified corn products.
Even if it’s not GMO, its ghost passage through the body doesn’t signal any feelings of satiety and can easily lead to overeating. Also, let’s not forget the possible gastrointestinal distress, headaches and allergic reactions.
When we eat or drink anything, we ideally want it to go to work for us and encourage our overall health and well-being. Erythritol might have some benefits, but I just don’t think it does enough good for the human body. You’re much better off choosing a more natural, health-promoting sweetener, like raw honey, in small amounts.
Please call us if you have any concerns for yourself. It is always best to not introduce more chemicals into your body, but how do you stop? Call us.
Health and Wellness Associates
Archived : JA
Low Carb Quick Chocolate Almond Ice Cream
2 tablespoons sliced almonds
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup sugar substitute (recommended: Splenda)
1 teaspoon no sugar added vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon no sugar added almond extract
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tablespoons whole milk ricotta cheese
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Spread almonds out on a sheet pan and bake for about 5 to 7 minutes until just golden brown. (Watch them carefully as they can burn easily.) Remove and cool.
With an electric mixer on high, whip the heavy cream in a bowl just until frothy and add in the sugar substitute, extracts, cocoa powder, and ricotta cheese. Continue to whip on high until peaks form. Be careful not to over-whip, or cream will break.
Fold in toasted almonds. Using a 3-ounce ice cream scoop, place 1 scoop each in a champagne glass and freeze as “faux” ice cream or serve refrigerated as a parfait. If desired, garnish with low carb whipped cream, toasted almonds, a strawberry fan, cocoa powder, and a sprig of fresh mint.
Health and Wellness Associates
Low Carb Key West Crab Cakes with Mustard Sauce
1 pound blue crabmeat
1 tablespoon small diced red bell pepper
1 tablespoon small diced green bell pepper
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley leaves
1 tablespoon heavy mayonnaise
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons Maryland-style crab seasoning (recommended: Old Bay)
2 tablespoons canola oil
Mustard Sauce, recipe follows
1/4 cup heavy mayonnaise
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
Mix all ingredients together in a small bowl. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
In a large bowl, mix all ingredients, except oil and Mustard Sauce until blended. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. With a tablespoon, carefully spoon poker-chip size mini-cakes into the pan. (The batter will be very loose since there are no bread crumbs, but once the egg in the mix starts to cook they will hold together fine.) Cook on 1 side until firm, about 2 minutes, and then flip and cook for about 1 more minute. Cook in batches as necessary. Serve hot with mustard sauce.
Health and Wellness Associates
Choose Something Else, Your Body Will Thank You
How to Eat Healthy When You are on the Road
For health conscious individuals, eating out at restaurants has always been tricky. Today, more and more places are beginning to provide organic and nutrient dense options. One of the biggest challenges people have as they begin to lead a healthier lifestyle has to do with social outings and restaurants. This article will give you some insight on how to eat healthy when you are on the road!
When you are trying to live a gluten-free, organic lifestyle there are some social repercussions. You can get around these challenges by doing your research and planning beforehand, asking the right questions and choosing wisely. Here are some tips to get the most out of your meals away from home.
Planning Ahead is Crucial:
Planning ahead is really critical for eating healthy while traveling. This means researching restaurants and grocery stores in the area you are traveling through. You can do a google search using keywords like “gluten-free,” “organic food,” “grass-fed,” “raw food,” etc. You can also go to websites like eatwellguide.org to search for the healthiest places in the area you are traveling too. It is also a great idea to look at online reviews of different restaurants you may be going too. You can find helpful reviews on sites like Yelp, Chowhound, TripAdvisor and Urbanspoon.
This will give you a view of other people’s dining experience at the place you are looking into. Whether you are meeting up with friends, going on a date or at a family outing it is always a good idea to eat something beforehand so you aren’t starving when you show up. When we are really hungry we make poor nutritional decisions and become much more susceptible to eating poorly. So be prepared by either eating something before going out or even bringing some of your own healthy food with you.
Ask a Lot of Questions:
When you go out to eat it is okay to ask the waiter the questions you need to know. You may want to make sure the food you are eating is organic, GMO-free, gluten-free and/or dairy-free. You can tell the waiter or restaurant manager that you may have a real dangerous reaction if you come into contact with a certain food item. That will immediately get their attention and they will be sure to cater to your needs. It is always adviseable to know exactly what you are eating. So ask questions, avoid things like sauces, soups and dressings that are typically not made from scratch.
These things are usually processed mixtures with multiple toxic ingredients such as industrial seed oils, GMO’s, artificial sweeteners and preservatives. The server may not know or understand this so don’t make it too complicated on them. It is best to go with clean organic meat if available, good fat sources like avocado slices or guacamole, olive oil and lots of fresh vegetables. You can always ask for extra veggies or extra avocado, etc. so you will be satisfied after the meal. Be sure to let the server know you are going to tip really good and they will come through for you. Of course, you need to step-up and follow through with your end of the bargain and take care of the server.
There may be times where you are at a family member’s home or a place where you just cannot find anything that typically fits into your nutrition plan. If you know this beforehand, you can obviously eat before going and bring some digestive enzymes with you to help neutralize the damage. You could also opt to drink lots of water with lemon if available which will help curb hunger and provide anti-oxidants for your system. When it comes to starches, it is much better to choose potatoes, rice or quinoa over breads and pasta.
Try to take as many of the vegetables as are available and load up on the good fats such as any sort of avocado dish that is available, a hummus dip, olive oil or coconut products. If the meat isn’t organic or wild-caught I would look to avoid this or eat just a real small amount to avoid the concentrated environmental toxins that are in the commercialized meat.
If you need any assistance with your personal health plan please call us and we will help.
Health and Wellness Associates
Zucchini Taco Roll Up
2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 jalapeno, minced
1 lb. ground beef
2 tbsp. Taco Seasoning
1 1/2 c. grated Monterey jack, divided
1 1/2 c. grated cheddar, divided
1/4 c. sour cream
1 (15-oz.) can fire-roasted crushed tomatoes
4 medium zucchini, sliced ⅛” thick
Cilantro, chopped, for garnish
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
In a large skillet over medium heat, heat olive oil. Add onion and cook until tender, 5 minutes. Add jalapeño and cook 2 minutes more. Add ground beef and cook until no longer pink, 8 minutes, then drain the fat. Season with salt, mix in the taco seasoning, and add ½ cup of both Monterey Jack and cheddar, then set aside.
Spread a thin layer of crushed tomatoes into the bottom of a 9″-x-13” baking dish. On each slice of zucchini, spoon a thin layer of sour cream and crushed tomatoes. Top with a layer of beef mixture, and sprinkle with Monterey Jack and cheddar. Roll up and place seam side down in baking dish. Repeat to fill the dish. Sprinkle top with remaining cheese.
Bake until zucchini is tender and cheese is melted, about 30 minutes. Garnish with cilantro.
Health and Wellness Associates