Sunday, February 24, 2013

Junk Food Addictions- Frankenfood is No Accident

Hello to my readers. I challenge you to grab a bag of your favorite junk food: potato chips, Doritos, Cheetos, whatever it may be ...and start reading the article that appeared in the New York Times today. It's lengthy, so I will keep this short.  My gut instinct tells me that you would not be able to continue eating your guilty pleasure as you read from start to finish - for the sake of your family's health, please check out:
The Extraordinary Science of Addictive Junk Food

Excerpted:quote from a Yale University professor of psychology and public health, Kelly Brownell, who was an especially vocal proponent of the view that the processed-food industry should be seen as a public health menace: “As a culture, we’ve become upset by the tobacco companies advertising to children, but we sit idly by while the food companies do the very same thing. And we could make a claim that the toll taken on the public health by a poor diet rivals that taken by tobacco.”

I've been blogging as a health and wellness advocate, and hopefully an educator on the importance of learning to read labels, understanding ingredients and what they mean for your health, for nearly three years now. Today I heard a message about serving the community, and it is my hope that those of you who pop over to this blog regularly, now and then, or by a random google search, find the information helpful and beneficial for your own well being.
It is my prayer that my combined love of writing and health and wellness is a service to you - reaching beyond a community, but perhaps even reaching globally and benefiting people I will never have the privelage to meet.

To your health!
Rita S.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Quest for the BEST Flatbread

A few Sundays ago it was cold, blustery and a good day to catch up on care calls and bake in the kitchen. You see, I am on a quest.  I am making it a goal to duplicate, as flavorful as possible, a gluten-free version of the whole grain flat bread I LOVE at Cosi's restaurants. I love Cosi's for their great salads, but quite honestly, I could wrap myself in a large piece of their flatbread and feel like I have died and gone to heaven (ok, that's pretty lame for what the glory of heaven is really going to be like) - but you get my drift.
When I eat gluten free for a month it is the Cosi's bread I crave. So why not come up with a gluten free version that satisfies my desire for savory whole grain goodness?
On the particular wintery Sunday I mention above, I experimented with four different recipes I had found on line. I tweaked them all - perhaps it is a part of my Italian heritage to not follow recipes, or it could just be that I like to see if what I have on hand works. I was satisfied with my efforts - with the help of my daughter we created and baked four different flat breads. Abby would mark up the recipes - writing in my substitutions and additions. My family gathered around and we had a taste testing - all four breads were different.
The first, we decided, would make an excellent pizza crust. Numbers two and three both utilized the dark brown Teff flour, which gives a unique flavor of its own. The fourth bread was my attempt at Cosi duplication - utilizing coconut flour.  I have read reviews on paleo breads, and the coconut flour breads always win out over rice flour bread. The latter of which, in my opinion, bakes up a very bland bread no matter what herbs and spices are added.
I typed all the recipes up, or so I thought, to share on this blog. Alas, looking for them the Word document is gone, vanished from my laptop. I checked the tablet as I was using it to read recipes as I went along - not there either.  It may still show up, but suffice to say, I fear a day's worth of baking experiments/notes when into the black hole of cyber space.
All I could do is move forward and recreate, so that is what I did Thursday after work. I came home to a pot of vegetable soup on the stove, thanks to my husband. I added spices to the soup, and figured they would need some time to blend. Enough time for me to whip up some flat bread, as I had come across a piece of paper with my chicken scratch notes, I believe, for bread number four. Because flat bread does not need to rise, you can have warm flat bread to go with soup or salad in less than 30 minutes if the ingredients are on hand. I set about recreating my bread, and I do believe this latest attempt is better than the original. BEFORE it gets lost, I figured I better hustle and share this recipe with you. I promise, as I recreate the others, I will share those as well. SAVORY is the best way to describe this bread, enhanced with Rosemary, as well as a blend of Italian seasoning (aka more rosemary), garlic, and more. The picture above shows my original day of baking with three of the four breads. (Un)fortunately, we loved this bread so much that we gobbled it up before I could snap a picture. If you give it a try, do let me known what you think.  IF any of my readers are good at picking out spices, herbs, seed flavors from a bread - if you eat at Cosi's and can determine the flavors please drop my a line so I can continue my quest to duplicate a gluten free version.
Savory Paleo Flat Bread
Inspired by a recipe from, I have added flax meal, herbs and spice to ADD savoriness to this bread. (Plus, I am always looking to add health benefits to my food to give my body energy.) Rosemary is particularly beneficial in helping one's immunity and to get over colds and flu, and since so many people outside of our household are struggling with this currently - it is the perfect time to find ways to increase your intake of rosemary into your eating plan.
Blend dry ingredients:
½ c. almond flour
½ c. coconut flour
½ c. golden flax meal (keep this refrigerated when in storage)
¼ c. arrowroot powder
1 t. baking powder
½ t. dried rosemary
½ t. dried garlic powder
½ t. Italian herb seasoning
½ t. finely milled Celtic sea salt
Lightly whisk wet ingredients, blending into dry:
2 organic free range eggs – lightly beaten
1 t. extra virgin olive oil
½ c. plain almond milk (preference for Silk brand)
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Stir dry ingredients together in medium mixing bowl. Add wet ingredients slowly, mixing with wooden spoon.  If needed, season baking pan by brushing or rubbing olive or coconut oil on surface. Roll dough onto pan and flatten out into a rectangular shape.  Use either clean hands or if preferred, place parchment paper over dough and roll with a mini rolling pin. Flatten to desired thickness, noting that baking time will increase if left more thick.
Bake for 15-20 min. or until center is not wet and ridges start to brown.  Serve warm with your favorite bowl of soup or salad.
Eating gluten free does not equate to never eating bread again.  Find a few recipes you like and obtain a few different flours - your pantry is simply different from the average, gluteneous pantry of most American kitchens.  I will soon be sharing what my new pantry is becoming! 
If your joints ache or you have sinus issues....I really encourage you to go gluten free for a month and feel where that takes you in regards to those symptoms. We have a lifetime ahead of us, and who wants to live it with symptoms that could be alleviated with a 30 day commitment to learning if food sensitivities are the cause? Food for today's thoughts....
My goal is to help you feel great, look great and live great!
To your health,
Rita S.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Choosing A Protein Shake Meal Replacement

So many choices in protein shakes...but which product is truly the best for weight loss? Well, in that regard...I would venture a guess that most will help one lose weight.  But at what cost?
Like so many foods that line the grocery stores, labels promise "good for lowering cholesterol", "low-fat", "with extra virgin olive oil" (so we are lead to believe it is healthy). Protein shake labels also make plenty of claims.
But what are you really buying? This is why becoming an educated label reader makes a difference for long term health.  
Take for instance, soy based protein powder, with organic obviously being a better choice than not.  Most soybean crops are genetically modified. (I believe I read over 90% are GMO.) With what? Herbicide for one.  Herbicides mimic estrogen in the body when consumed, they are nasty endocrine disruptors. Increased estrogen can lead to cancer. (This is one reason I would rather have dandelions in the yard than ChemLawn sprays.)  We have Monsanto to thank for this, in large part - stand up against this giant poisoning our food supply and let your congressman know that you vote no to GMO.
Even if organic, soy is naturally very high in glutamate and excitotoxins. The processing to create soy protein isolate makes it even more toxic, and it is an unfermented soy product.  Per Dr. Russell Blaylock, unfermented soy should be consumed no more than 2x weekly, preferably with a side dish of sea kelp to counter the excitotoxins with anti-oxidants.
When people use a daily protein or meal replacement shake, or TWO, for meal replacement or for weight loss, and it is soy based- they are adding a LOT of excitoxins, glutamate, and acid-based foods to their regimen.  On the outside one cannot see what that is doing to a body on the inside, but from all I have read - I wouldn't want to go there.

Whey can be a better option - but only if it is made from milk from grass fed cows free of anti-biotics, etc. AND only if it is cold processed, as again, heat and processing changes the molecular structure and we end up with FRANKENfood. Like all dairy products, whey protein isolates fall on the acidic side of the pH scale - key is for balance between acid and alkaline based foods. Even organic origin whey is inflammatory - as are all animal food products. Inflammation contributes to  disease, cancer, and general unwell-ness.

No matter what shake you choose, know your source and trust that raw goods are tested for purity. Protein shakes have made news headlines on more than one occasion due to traces of heavy metals, arsenic, and more. You might be surprised to learn that some of your favorite, popular brands do not pass the testing for purity.  With protein shakes you truly get what you pay for.
  Artificial ingredients can be problematic for your body to excrete. They build up inside.  My chiropractor shared with me that he sees an increase in kidney stones come February as many people, wanting to lose weight, hop on board a well advertised weight watching diet plan that includes their brand of canned shakes.  Don't be fooled by "Sucralose" - another name for toxic Splenda.  I looked up ingredients in a very popular whey based shake advocated by a health and wellness company to learn that it contains sucralose. Also, if Stevia is being used make sure it is raw Stevia and not the RebA processed version. Note to those adding Truvia to your coffee - it is not "healthy".

An interview with neurosurgeon, Dr. Russell Blaylock, discusses the adverse affects of artificial ingredients and effects of hydrolyzed soy proteins, and as Blaylock states, you will never learn the truth about milk in the media. Suffice to say is, that although I am the daughter of a dairy farmer, I will not give my children store bought milk. I encourage you to learn much more about this by checking out the Natural News interview with Blaylock here.

If you are going to jump in on a 24, 28 or 30 day program, and you are going to incorporate shakes as a part of the program - do your own diligence and analyze the product.  As I said, I have no doubt you can lose weight from any one brand. The question I am putting forth is, "while you are losing weight for outward appearances, what is happening on the inside on a cellular level?"  Feeling your best begins from within. If your meals are costing you around a buck, it would actually make me question the ingredients and quality. Good health into your senior years requires thinking not of short term, but instead long term effects, of your food choices.

I find it interesting when people state they cannot afford a $2 meal replacement shake.  Years ago I did the math, thinking the same thing - so I can relate.. until I realized I was actually paying more for my breakfast, which either required I cook it (time must be factored in), or I stop enroute to work and get it. I can tell you a latte alone, or a travel mug of organic coffee, costs more than $2. Of course the meals after breakfast become even more expensive.  Three of the four of us drink a pea/brown rice/cranberry based pure and safe protein meal replacement shake for our breakfast - and it has actually been beneficial for our family budget. Not only do we save, but we are getting nutrients, anti-oxidants, minerals, and all essential amino acids as we start off our day.

I hope this day finds you feeling and living great!

To your health,
Rita S.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

30 day Healthy Living Challenge Biggest Loser

I am so very proud of my AB 30 Day Healthy Living Challenge team!
Team TnT lost a total of 76 INCHES in the month of January - with 12 people it averages to 6.333"/person. Thats\'s the AB Advantage!
Three people really carried the team - and were close in numbers, with the BIGGEST LOSER, my sister Diane, losing a total of 12" and 20 lbs., 2nd place was Sheila, having lost 11 inches, and third place, and so close, was Kelly with a loss of 10.5 inches. KUDOS to these amazing ladies!!
I am proud to introduce my sister, Diane, of Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin. Diane held true to the 30 day Healthy Living Challenge plan.  Although she had plenty of opportunities, she held fast and true to the plan and although she WAS not tempted by elimination  foods on the list to "avoid" - she did not give in and chose instead to be transformed!
Because Diane was so successful I asked her to share what her protocol had been through the challenge, which began January 2 and ended January 31. Diane writes:

I used the Arbonne protein shake and fiber booster every morning for breakfast. I had a strawberry or blueberry vanilla Arbonne protein shake. (which means she added berries to her vanilla shake.)
For lunch I had a salad and protein .... usually leftover chicken, hardboiled egg, turkeyburger (no bun etc). Except those few days I ran out of greens when I just took leftover dinner. My salad usually had sunflower seeds and homemad raspberry vinegrette dressing.(the vinegar used was Bragg's organic apple cider vinegar.)

For dinner, I had more variety.
I only had red meat twice... roast beef 1 night and beef hamburger another night.
I had things like turkey chili, chicken and a vegetable - like broccoli or cauliflower, chicken brown rice soup (Recipe from the official 30 Day plan - although I ran out of broth so it turned into more of a goulash, but quite yummy). My favorite dish was brown rice pasta with turkey burger and marinara sauce.
In addition to cutting out gluten, dairy etc, I cut way down on the carbs.  Sometimes at dinner I just had protein and vegetable... other times I had brown rice pasta or brown rice.
As far as exercise, I started up again, but nothing really regular until halfway through the month as it is so hard to always find the time after work, and I really hate exercising first thing in the morning.  So halfway through the month, I came up with the idea of doing my 10 min. ab routine every morning before work (haven't missed a day of it yet) and since it only involves laying on a mat, I don't mind doing it in the morning.  Then my husband and I tried to work out after work together, but it wasn't every day.  Sometimes it was Tony Horton's 10 minute workout (believe it or not, it still makes you pretty tired).  Sometimes it was the easy 24 min. workout we have, I rarely got the 47 min workout in at all.  I still need to improve here.

I also used Prolief (days 12-26) this month... most days twice a day, but sometimes I forgot and it was 1 x a day. And I used the 7 day body cleanse wks 2, 3, and 4 couple days each week. I believe that was about it.

Diane said her family is definitely making some permanent changes to their eating plans, which is really the purpose of the 30 day plan to begin with - it is about making life changes. She and her family  had discussions about greens so they would get the kind everyone was willing to eat (aka mixed greens were chosen over spinach), less gluten and carbs in their future, etc.
I will note that in addition to her eating plan Diane incorporated Prolief - a natural bio-identical progesterone cream into her weight loss plan.  Progesterone is a hormone that counters the effects of estrogen, and many women are estrogen dominant in relation to progesterone once they pass the age of 35.   Because progesterone is both anabolic and thermogenic, it converts fat to energy; and I personally give Prolief much credit towards my own 85 lb. weight loss a couple of years ago.  For the 30 day challenge I did not follow the plan to a T, gave in to temptation, and only managed to bring my overall weight loss to 90.  I was hoping to hit 100 - but I still have not figured out how to find time for exercise in my life of two jobs.

I am so proud of all TnT team members. Keep on blasting away at those pounds TnT - transformation not temptation!!
I hope you feel great, look great and live great - and if not, let me help you transform!

To your health,