Category Archives: grain free

Beyond Sugar Free

Today is October 1st, 2010. It a brand new month and a brand new day. This day has never been seen or experienced before, and it is a day that I make a challenge to myself. I have been sugar free for over a year now, avoiding all sweeteners that raise blood sugar and insulin levels. But today I’m going beyond this, and moving to a new health challenge in which I hope to benefit from.

Going sugar free was probably the best thing I could’ve done for my health. It has provided me with clairty of thought, clearer skin and increased energy. But what if I could experience a higher level of health, one that brings forth the absense of sweeteners all together?

We have grown too dependent on sweet taste, even those who are cooks who use the healthiest ingredients possible. Stevia and xylitol are amazing sweeteners, that won’t increase blood sugar, but I’m afraid I have become too dependent on their additions into my tea, desserts and various other recipes.

I have been researching sweet taste for quite awhile now, and have found some discussing that sweet taste, no matter where it comes from, stimulates insulin levels. This may explain why diet drinks can actually promote weight gain. Even some studies have shown that Stevia helps the pancreas secrete insulin, which can be good when you have high blood sugar, but what if your blood sugar hasn’t risen at all? Is it safe to have elveated insulin, circulating around in your body?

When your blood sugar rises, insulin becomes the effector in the homeostatic mechanism which regulates blood sugar control. It is secreted from your pancreas, and helps take in the glucose monomers (which were broken down from carbohydrates) into your cells which use it for energy. However, if you blood sugar hasn’t risen, yet insulin has, excess insulin can store fat.

Also, high insulin levels can be inflammatory, and many have already concluded that raising your insulin levels contributes to diabetes tremendously, due to the fact that your cells become less sensitive to insulin over time. Because insulin is fat storage hormone, it can be difficult to lose weight if it is secreted excessively. Because it doesn’t have any glucose to take into the cells, it more than likely is stored as fat. This may be the reason why diet soft drinks do not aid in weight loss, and actually contribute to weight gain.

Our ancestors had a way for storing fat whenever they came across berries or sugary carbohydrates, because their bodies knew that famine would be experienced soon. Since fat is a long term energy source, storing it after coming across fruit or other carbohydrates was necessary for survival later on.

After eating the berries or the fruit, which was very rare to do, blood sugar elevated. Insulin then helped take the broken down carbohydrates (glucose-simple sugar) into adipose (fat) cells for later energy use. Thus, many believe that our bodies have evolved from the experiences of our ancestors, to a point where any sweet taste we experience helps secrete insulin. Our bodies may believe that famine will ensure again, and our insulin rises in order to protect our selves and help us survive.

For the rest of the year, I am devoting my entire diet around living sweet free. It is defcinitely a challenge for me, because I love baking, “unbaking” (raw desserts) and making sweet treats for my family. I can still do this, and I will still post recipes every now and then for something sweet and sugar free, but I will not eat it, at least not for a while now.

For three months I shall devote myself to this regimin, and then report back to see if anything has change. I will not eat fruits, either (you can receive the same nutrients from vegetable sources that you get from fruit), or stevia, xylitol, etc. I really do want to see if anything happens or changes in my body, and in my life.

I have tried an experiment on this blog before, my No Grain Experiment. It helped me realize that certain carbohydrates are good, and give me energy. Those from buckwheat and quinoa, for example, help fuel my energy levels throughout the day. I know I shall learn something from this experiemtn, as well.

Are you challenging yourself everyday? Let me know in the comments section. I think that its really important to test yourself and see what you can do, if only so you can know for yourself. You don’t have to prove yourself to anyone, but you must know who you are and what you are capable of (which is anything!).

For now, this is The healthy Advocate.

Coconut Flour Recipes: Crepes or Faux Tortillas!

Grain Free, Low Carb Tortillas (or Crepes)

This is a submission to Penny Wise Platter Thursdays, at TheNourishingGourmet!

Today I present a recipe that I have adapted from Tropical Traditions FreeCoconutRecipes.com website for Coconut Flour Crepes. I use these crepes for breakfast to help get in a good source of protein (sometimes I fill them with sunflower seed butter, banana, coconut and cinnamon, with a little drizzle of honey).

Recently I have been making creamy spinach enchiladas with these crepes, using them as tortillas. I can’t tell you how well they work as a substitute for low carb tortillas, as the texture is very similar. Follow this recipe exactly. I use egg whites only to provide a thin, tortilla like texture. I usually like to keep the whole egg in tact, to provide myself with the complete spectrum of nutrition. If you want more of a fluffy pancake, use a whole egg, with the yolk.

Coconut Flour Recipe: Crepes or Faux Tortillas

1 TBSP. Coconut Flour
1/16 tsp. baking powder

Two Egg Whites, from two eggs (OR, 3 TBSP. egg whites)
Two TBSP. Water (or Coconut Milk)

Mix the coconut flour and baking powder with the water (or milk) and egg whites. Whisk or blend until all lumps disappear (I usually mix, then wait a couple of minutes and mix again).

Pour batter on heated pan greased with coconut oil or butter (grease well). Pour batter in center of pan. Tilt the pan around to spread the batter into a large circle, almost covering the entire bottom of the pan.

Be very careful with this part: Wait until the edges are brown on the side of the tortilla, or carefully circle spatula around the bottom of tortilla until safe to flip. Once safe, flip the toritilla and cook for about 30 seconds on the other side.

Fill with cream, berries, enchilada filling–anything you like!

Makes 1 crepe.

CAREFUL: I have made this coconut flour tortilla crepe many, many times, and many times I have wounded up with scrambled coconut flour eggs. Not pretty, and won’t help in an enchilada recipe. Find a way of “knowing” that the other side of the tortilla is cooked well and that you can easily circle the tortilla with a spatula underneath. Then, when you know it is safe, turn it over to cook.

*Hopefully I can post a recipe everyday along with an article on other health topics every other day. Give me the encouragement to do so! I need you guys to really kick me into doing this, because sometimes I put too much on myself to start writing. I’m here for you! 🙂

If you like this recipe, then you will love the recipe coming up tomorrow–creamy, gluten free, low carb spinach enchiladas.

Grain Free, Low Carb Enchiladas

This is The Healthy Advocate.

Coconut Part Two: Gluten Free, Grain Free and Sugar Free Healthy Coconut Cupcakes with Buttercream Frosting


This photo comes straight from the original recipe found at Healthy Indulgences. My photo will soon replace this, as the current one I own does not do the recipe justice. Anyone want to help me out on my photography skills, or lack there of?


I have made some great things from many different bloggers and websites available on the net. It’s been an amazing experience to see different recipes that are healthy, gluten free and refined sugar free, and then putting my own little twist on them. They also give me wonderful new ideas for brand new recipes that I can bring to you to really liven up your own menu.

But, these cupcakes are so good, you would NOT know they were healthy. Believe me, you won’t. I’ve adapted this recipe from Healthy Indulgences (one of the few blogs I go to to find basic recipes to then go out and experiment with my own). Lauren is around my age, and we’re both college-bound, gluten and sugar free healthy advocates. She’s a bit more experienced then me (OK, a lot more than me), but I’m getting there. I’m glad to have her, as well as others, be my “teachers”, even though they don’t know that they are just yet.
These cupcakes are grain free, meaning that they are going to be low in carbohydrates and gluten will be nonexistent. Many people find that they can lose weight, gain energy and vitality, reverse digestive disorders or dis-eases, clear up skin, etc., quite easily when they cut grains out of their diet. If you want to read my own grain free experiences, read my story here.
The coconut cupcakes surprisingly don’t taste too much like coconut, but you can still sense that tropical feel once you bite into this amazing superfood; and as your tongue reacts to the flavors while you eat this slowly, you energy starts to feel refreshed, replenished and your mood can stay elevated for hours. OK, maybe nothing is that good–but these do come close. They definitely WILL NOT result in an energy crash like other cupcakes, because again, they are low in digestible carbohydrates (particularly refined carbohydrates, which can turn into sugar quite quickly in your body) and refined white sugar, all of which can cause a quick insulin spike and crash, resulting in low energy. So you really are good to go with these.
Be sure to try and pulverize the dried coconut in either a blender, Magic Bullet, coffee grinder, ect., as you really do want a find powder. I used a food processor the first time, and it resulted in half powder, half coconut “bits”. If you don’t mind having those “bits” in your ‘bites’, then it shouldn’t bother you. Me, I would rather have a cupcake with a smooth texture. Also, make sure you are using real eggs and REAL butter or oil, as using replacements will result in a different texture and you will also be missing out on any health benefits the egg yolk, butter or coconut oil provides.
Now, on with the recipe. I tend to speak too much about the recipes I post, which will come to an end on the next one, I promise. This is a super quick, easy treat for you or anyone you know, and can be eaten as dessert, snack, or even be a high protein, high fiber meal replacement.
P.S. This cupcake is full of coconut, so you know that the fat in this recipe will not be stored as fat, but be used as energy very quickly in your body, even resulting in a higher metabolic rate. Read more here about coconut in the PART 1 of this series.
Ingredients:

1/4 cup blanched dry almonds, pulverized into a flour
2 cups unsweetened, dry coconut, pulverized into a fine flour, meal or powder
1 Tbsp. Coconut Flour
-OR Protein Powder
1/2 tsp. Grain Free Baking Powder
1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
3 eggs
1/4 cup coconut or almond milk (or whole, organic raw milk)
2 TBSP. Organic Butter or Coconut Oil, melted
Sweeteners

1/4 cup Xylitol
1/4 cup Coconut Palm Sugar
1/4-1/2 tsp. Stevia Extract Powder, to taste
-OR-
3/4-1 cup natural sugar substitute
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Set oven temperature to 325 degrees F.
Mix the almond flour, dried coconut meal/flour/powder and coconut flour in a small bowl. Add salt and baking powder. Mix together well and set aside.
In another bowl, combine vanilla extract with 3 eggs. Next add the sweeteners. Stir to combine. Add the dry ingredients in with the sweeteners. Mix well. You can also do this in just one big bowl, if you so desire.
Line 8-9 big muffin cups with paper liners. Or, line a mini muffin pan with 20 mini muffin liners. Grease the paper liners well.
Evenly distribute the batter into the muffin cups, making sure that you are giving enough room for rising to occur.
Bake for about 20 minutes, or until “springy” to the touch. Set out to cool and store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week (but they will be gone much sooner than that!).
Carob added to the final frosting. As I said before, my photos do not seem to do it any justice. Reading up on photography!

Yield: 20 mini cupcakes, or 9 regular sized cupcakes
Healthy Buttercream Frosting

4-6 TBSP. Organic Butter, or Coconut Oil (hard)
1/4 tsp. Stevia Extract Powder
or 1/4 cup Xylitol
1 TBSP. Coconut Milk (optional)
Blend the butter or coconut oil with the stevia or xylitol. Add the coconut milk, if using. Frost cool cupcakes (make sure they are cool) and place in refrigerator for storage.
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There you go, for a healthy, meal on the go or quick snack or dessert to help support your healthy lifestyle. Please check out the ingredients you may have not been familiar with anywhere on this blog by doing a quick search, or look them up on your favorite search engine to find out more. Super healthy and extremely nutritious.
Try these out and tell me what you think! I know you won’t be dissappointed.
This is The Healthy Advocate.

Winter Recipe Roundup – Healthy, Gluten Free, Sugar Free and Sooo Good

Click on the picture above to see descriptions

On the last day of winter this year, I decided to squeeze in as much last minute holiday treats as I could. I love wintertime, and I wanted to get the most out of it this year, for some reason. However, when spring came, it was fantastic, because as you can see above in the middle picture (click to enlarge), the first full day of spring was filled with 3 inches of snow–in Texas!
I go to school in Houston but visit Dallas (my home) as often as I can. For spring break I went, and the last day I was there I was running and playing in the snow like a little kid again. How I wish I took more pictures! I made two snow angels, a snow man and several hundred snowballs to throw at the window to get my preteen sister and her friends to wake up (they didn’t come out by the way–apparently they’re too cool for that).
Anyway, back to the recipes. I made quite a bit, unintentionally, and shared them with my mom–brothers and sisters are more into the processed food, promoting its taste and “quality” while never attempting to try real food. Oh well; there is only so much you can do to try to promote health and wellness in others. However, I am “The Healthy Advocate”, so I shall try more, without being too overbearing.
OK, I have strayed again, and I will stay on topic. Enter Coconut Flour Gingerbread Cookies! Sugar free, dairy free and gluten free, I might add (did I also mention they were grain free?). I have never had any luck making a recipe completely vegan when it comes to coconut flour. It seems as though the eggs are an integral part of the recipe in order to bind everything together properly. If anyone has any tips on this, please let me know.
My cookies came out thin, mainly because that was the way I wanted them. You can make them thicker by adding more batter to the cookie cutter (see recipe). Also, they are very soft, not crispy like other gingerbread cookies. I think next time I will try almond flour next winter for a crispier cookie.
The only trouble I had with the recipe was the coconut oil frosting/glaze. Sometimes a chef can’t be patient–you must be when it comes to this recipe! You must first allow the cookies to completely cool before frosting, otherwise the coconut oil will soak into the warm cookie, and won’t make that beautiful hard coating that you see in the picture below.
One more note: The nutrition information below is calculated based on the number of cookies I made. You may need to adjust the numbers when you actually make yours. The entire recipe comes out at 9 grams of digestible carbs! Which means if you ate one cookie, you would only get 0.6 grams of digestible carbohydrates, which is pretty cool (only if you are able to make 16 cookies, like I did). It also contains a whopping 1.5 grams of high quality protein, due to the eggs and coconut flour. What a nutritious and guilt free treat!
This recipe was adapted from SimplyCoconut.com. They have fantastic coconut flour recipes. I haven’t tried them all out yet, but I’m getting there.
Coconut Flour Gingerbread Cookies


Makes about 16 cookies, depending on the size of your cookie cutters.
Ingredients

1/4 + 1/8 cup Coconut Flour (6 TBSP total)
1/2 tsp. Ground Cinnamon
1/2 tsp. Ground Ginger
1/4 Cup Xylitol + 2 TBSP Xylitol (or favorite sugar free sweetener)
1/4 tsp. Pure Stevia Powder
1/8 tsp. salt
1/4 cup dairy free milk–Coconut milk might be best
3 TBSP butter, ghee or coconut oil, melted
3 eggs OR 6 egg whites
Directions

Combine all dry ingredients in one bowl and whisk together. Set aside.
Combine the milk, melted butter or oil and the eggs in a separate bowl. Mix until blended.
Pour in the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and whisk until smooth. Refrigerate for about 30 minutes.
On a greased glass baking dish, place your desired cookie cutter. Pour a couple of tablespoons worth of batter in the cookie cutter and press batter into the shape. Slowly unmold the cookie so all that is left is the batter in the desired shape. Repeat with same or different cookie cutters.
Bake at 400 degrees for 12-14 minutes. Cool completely before frosting.
Coconut Oil Frosting/Glaze

1/4 Cup – 1/2 Cup melted coconut oil
Stevia, to taste
Directions

Pour sweetened coconut oil on top of cooled cookies one TBSP at a time and spread. Cool cookies again so the glaze will harden.
Nutrition Information

Per Cookie w/o Glaze & Made w/ Whole Eggs

Calories: 68.15
Fat: 4 g
Digestible Carb: 0.6 g
Fiber: 0.95 g
Protein: 1.5 g

Per Cookie w/o Glaze & Made w/ Egg Whites

Calories: 60.65
Fat: 2.9 g
Digestible Carb: 0.6 g
Fiber: 0.95 g
Protein: 1.5 g
Sugar: 0.19 g (naturally occurring and bound w/ fiber in the coconut flour)


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Now for the nut-butter cups. These “Reese’s” inspired chocolate covered peanut butter cup is one of my favorite, because I combine different and healthier nuts other than peanut. Peanuts can contain a toxin around them the majority of the time, and are high in inflammatory oils and fats (omega-6’s). I use a blend of organic peanut butter, walnut butter and almond butter (homemade, of course–recipe coming soon).
Homemade Reese’s can take some time, but it is SO worth it, especially when you consider the health of your body. Rather than giving your body all the sugar and inflammatory fats that are found in regular candies, you know you are giving your body the anti-aging, anti-inflammatory fats from walnuts, the anti-oxidants from pure chocolate, and the metabolism boosting qualities of coconut oil. Also, you won’t be bombarding your body with sugar.
This is my first shot at these healthy versions of nut butter cups and balls. I will be trying them again at Easter, and will revisit them again for you guys. You will need paper cupake/muffin liners, cutting the paper “walls” of the liner so that they only stand about 1/2 inches tall.
Homemade “Reese’s” Nut Butter Cups


Makes 14-16 Chocolate Covered Nut Butter Cups

Ingredients

4 oz unsweetened baking chocolate, bar
-OR- 12 TBSP Unsweetened Cocoa Powder mixed with 4 TBSP melted coconut oil

1 tsp. honey, or more depending on how sweet you want your chocolate to be

1/2 cup of your favorite nut butter (I used peanut, almond, sunflower and walnut)
-Sweeten with powdered xylitol, erythritol, honey or stevia, if desired

Directions

Melt the chocolate in a double boiler. Using a small paintbrush or a spoon and your fingertips (like me), spread a teaspoon and a half into a paper muffin cup. Spread around to coat the entire cup (may need more than 1 1/2 tsp.). Continue to do this until about 10-12 muffin cups are all coated. Place in freezer to firm.
Meanwhile, stir the nut butter with your sweetener, if using. Take the hardened chocolate cups out of freezer and put nut butter in each cup, making sure you fill the entire cup–but not too much; you don’t want to fill it up to the top.
Place the muffin cups in the freezer again. Melt chocolate while you wait about 5 minutes, if you need to, and then take out the muffin cups once again. Spread remaining melted chocolate over the nut butter inside the chocolate shells, and spread over to completely cover. Once done, place in freezer again
Wait until it is solid enough to unmold, and then store in freezer or refrigerator. It can melt fast at room temperature if you are using the coconut oil and cocoa powder mixture, so keep in the refrigerator.
With any remaining chocolate and nut butter, make chocolate covered nut butter balls, or make more chocolate covered nut butter cups. Or, use your imagination, be creative, and tell me what you do!


Nutrition Information
Per Chocolate Covered Nut Cup

Calories: 86.25
Fat: 7 g
Protein: 4.5 g
Digestible Carb: 2.7 g
Fiber: 1.75 g
Sugar: 0.8 g (natural–with 1 tsp. honey)


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Well there is the winter recipe round up. No savory dishes this season, but the upcoming ones you will see more healthy breakfast, lunch, dinner and snack ideas.
This has been The Healthy Advocate.



My No-Grain Experiment

Hello all, this is the Healthy Advocate.

Back in early February I decided to go on an experiment that many before me have tried and succeeded in, with great health benefits to reap. This was a total elimination of all grains, in every form, from my diet.
I have been pretty much restrictive on my grains for almost a year already, consuming maybe a serving or two a day of whole, soaked or sprouted grains, sometimes gluten free. There has been a lot of new research coming out about the effects that grains, and in particular gluten, does to our health, which helped move me into following this no-grain ‘diet’.
Many of the information I have received have obviously not been influenced by main stream health experts, but from alternative health experts well informed and motivated to educating others about the health effects of grains. Mainly those following a Paleolithic type diet have really helped show me what our bodies really are designed to eat (or what we, as humans, have been eating for the majority of our time on earth).
It was only 10,000 years ago that the cultivation of agriculture has been developed, and in this time diseases related to diet have increased and/or developed. Many of our ancestors who subsided mostly on meats, vegetables and some fruits had no problems with teeth, blood sugar or weight, and some studies suggested that they were much taller than their grain-eating descendants. Plus, grains stimulate your insulin levels, much more than vegetables, meats and moderate amounts of fruits–so, it is bizarre to me why the USDA is recommending most of our calories come from grains, even if they are low in fat.

Gluten Intolerance: A Small Minority?

I don’t think so. I believe that there are MANY symptoms to gluten sensitivity and intolerance that don’t seem to be connected to gluten, but really are. I have heard of those with depression and mood disorders go off gluten and grains all together, while increasing their mood and beating depression. Now these results may not be typical, but they may be, I don’t know. I do believe, though, that anyone suffering from anything (depression, weight, irritable bowel syndrome, digestive disorders, acne, eczema, teeth problems, ect.) will be better by eliminating or reducing all grains.
It is estimated that one out of seven people in the US have an intolerance to gluten, but I suspect that it may be much higher as most people suffer different ailments, some of them minor, that might be related to gluten and grains. Some people can do very well on small portions of gluten, without any side effect; most people will do much better if the form of wheat they choose is in its whole grain form, rather than refined–this will add the extra fiber and minerals to slow down the blood sugar spike that happens with grains. I also believe that most people will fare even better on grains if they are soaked, sprouted and/or fermented as advocated by the Weston A. Price Foundation.

What I Have Experienced So Far

I never thought that gluten and grains would be a problem for me, because most of the time they weren’t. I do not have celiac disease, and I do not suffer from any type of problems with my body after eating grains. However, for the majority of my time spent learning about nutrition, I have only consumed whole, unprocessed grains, usually in their soaked or sprouted forms. Even then I would only have about one serving per day, four to five days out of the week, something that I don’t believe would cause a problem with me or anyone with no major problems with gluten and grains.
However I have noticed that the past week and two days without grains whatsoever, has given me a better digestion. I’ve also noticed, as I have before with eliminating grains, that I lose weight rather quickly without even trying. I absolutely don’t need to lose weight, as I am already underweight, but even when I eat most of my calories from healthy fats and vegetable carbohydrates (with only a tiny amount of fruit), weight seems to come off easily than when I was eating grains. This has also happened with fermented and soaked grains, but not so dramatically.
After this experiement, which I was thinking would last for about 3 months (at least until May 2010), I might start incorporating grains back into my daily program again, although still relatively small, and still in their whole form (soaked, sprouted). I may even choose gluten free grains most of the time, in their whole form (soaked/sprouted) and as lone as they are relatively low on the glycemic index, which is rare for any grain.
I hope I have provided you a little insight on grains today, and maybe you can take this information and start studying on these issues for yourself. Who knows, maybe something that has been bothering you lately in your body will clear up after eliminating grains, sugar and dairy (at least the conventional ones you find in your local supermarket).
If you have any comments about this subject, or any questions, please post! You guys are important to me on my journey to learning more about nutrition and wellness. I don’t claim to know everything, but I do know things, and I love sharing this knowledge. However, you guys also know things, and it doesn’t help anyone to keep it to yourself. Let’s all make a difference in the world of real health and overall wellness.
This has been the healthy advocate.
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