Extra virgin cold-pressed coconut oil is one of the best oils to use for high temperatures. It is especially my favorite in baking because it enhances the flavors of whatever you are making. Coconut oil is highly resistant to oxidation at high heats therefore it is the best choice for baking, sauteing and yes, even frying. However, in the past, coconut oil got a bad rap because the research was on the refined and hydrogenated oil that is full of trans fats. We know now that partially hydrogenated oil is bad news and is linked to heart disease.
Unrefined coconut oil is truly amazing in its health properties. This liquid gold has lauric acid (also in mother’s milk) which is an efficient killer of pathogens. Studies have also shown this oil improves blood lipids in humans, and can help with weight loss and energy levels. It is wonderful to use on the skin and we often tell our patients with eczema to use this rather than something in a tube that is processed and has toxic chemicals in it.
It works miraculously on dry skin, which I can say from first hand experience. It is the only thing my husband, who is 53, uses on his skin. I hope he doesn’t mind me saying so; it’s just not fair that I am 10 years younger and have the same amount of fine lines. I would like to tell you that is his secret, because if you know him he looks great! I think more has to do with the fact he walks his talk of healthy lifestyle overall. He is so disciplined, probably one of the reasons why I fell in love with him because naturally I am not. If you use it on your face and body before bed, I suggest letting it soak in for awhile. Otherwise you will have a lovely oil stain on your sheets. At least our sheets smell yummy (lol)!
I remember a while back when all the gluten-free choices for flour were rice, and we have seen patients become sensitive to rice after consuming so much of it. When we found out our daughter had a gluten sensitivity, I was not thrilled that every gluten free product from crackers to pasta was made from rice and mostly not organic rice. You know they spray the dickens out of those paddy fields with pesticides, so to say the least it was tricky to find Dr. approved products.
Coconut flour is not a grain and Let’s Do….Organic brand makes a great product that feeds your body and balances your blood sugar unlike rice which is high on the glycemic scale. A half of a cup of coconut flour has 12 grams of protein and high in fiber. I find substituting 1/2 cup of coconut flour works best as more than that makes the recipe dry and you have to add extra liquid ( up to 3/4 cup sometimes). Usually my recipes call for additional flour on top of the coconut flour like substitutions such as ground flax, ground hemp, almond meal, gluten free oats, or organic corn flour (it is essential to buy organic corn everything as 90% of the corn is GMO unless it is organic). Check out my GF Breakfast Muffins that uses coconut flour (click here to see recipe)!
In the day I got so excited about the new natural alternative to sugar called agave and often used it in my recipes where I needed a liquid sweetener. I must tell you my husband was not a fan of this sweet syrup. Of coarse, dag nab it, my husband was right as research soon came out to prove it was not as wonderful as portrayed. In fact some are reporting that it is not nutritionally and functionally any better than white sugar and is similar to high-fructose corn syrup and sucrose (Karo) syrup! If there is one thing I hope you will avoid in your diet that is high-fructose corn syrup (wait and GMO’s too please). Also some agave syrups contain 90% fructose and we now know this can contribute to obesity, liver disorders, and diabetes.
Coconut Secret’s raw coconut nectar is low on the glycemic scale coming in at only 35. Bleached white table sugar has an index of 64! To understand how the GI scale works it starts at zero and goes to 100. According to the University of Wisconsin Center for Integrative Medicine, foods that rate between zero and 49 have a low glycemic index, foods between 50 and 70 have a moderate glycemic index and foods that rate over 70 have a high glycemic index.
High GI foods have also been linked to an increased risk for cancer, type 2 diabetes, acne, Alzheimer’s and weight gain. Did you also know that foods that are low on the GI can have an effect of feeling full, which can prevent you from overeating. This nutritious choice is minimally processed to assure it is enzymatically alive and contains an abundance of mineral like 17 amino acids, vitamin C, B vitamins, and has a nearly neutral pH! How is that for a sweet deal!
I love this alternative to sugar! Who wouldn’t as it is low glycemic, unbleached, unrefined, gluten free and actually has a nutritious value of 17 amino acids, vitamin C, and B vitamins and not to mention this brand keeps it raw by using low temperatures to evaporate it which leaves vital enzymes behind! Our daughter noticed that we use coconut everything and commented that a coconut is all you need in life, you can drink it, cream it, oil it, shred it, flour it, and sweeten anything with it!
We should clarify that coconut sugar comes from the tree when it is tapped and it produces the nutrient rich sap that comes from the coconut blossoms. One tablespoon of raw coconut sap crystals only has 7 grams of sugar verses the bleached white sugar (the devil in disguise) that has a whopping 12 grams in one tablespoon!!! I will take it, thank you very much, and yes my daughter may be right about coconuts!
This is a really cool find and finally it comes in a glass jar. I have seen other brands in a plastic bag type packaging but it is easy access scooping it out of a glass jar. You can use the creamy coconut spread on toast, apples and in soups, which I fancy.
I love to eat these thick flakes of coconut right out of the bag! They are so creamy and crunchy as well as naturally sweet. We use this product in my Healthified GF Granola (click here for recipe), as well as my Lemongrass Coconut Seafood Casserole (click here for recipe). It is delicious in yogurts, cookies and just about anything you can think of. Sometimes I will throw some raw nuts and coconut flakes in a baggie, and it has saved my hypoglycemic tush many times!
Navitas Naturals has some great products and without a doubt this is a “must have” for a “Spoonful of Health” when wanting to chocolate it up! Can you say Chocolate pancakes, Chocolate muffins, Chocolate smoothie……….how about a chocolate bath?!!!! Hmm, I am going to look into that one! With Cacao’s amazing flavor it also has antioxidants galore, iron, and magnesium which we find many patients are deficient in. This one little mineral can change your health for the better! I love this superfood and want to make sure it stays “super” by buying organic. Click here to get my Almond Coconut Joy Cup recipe using Cacao.
I feel like Superwoman (with a capital S) when I add 1 or 2 scoops of chia seeds to my smoothie (she was my hero growing up wearing that getup and looking so real)! No wonder they call it Superfood! Wonder what ever happened to Superwoman? Anyway, you must buy a bag of chia seeds to keep in your pantry so you can add a “Spoonful of Health” whenever you might need an extra SHAZAM! It has great antioxidants (in fact more than flaxseed), omega 3 fatty acids, and calcium. It is an easy digestible form of protein and has soluble fiber, not bad for a seed as tiny as it is……reminds me of a funny story…..
So years ago as an LMT (massage therapist) my next client was waiting in the lobby of our clinic and as I took one look at his arms which were bigger than my body (if you know me I am shrimpy not lobstery) and he was so ripped you could see each muscle striation. I started to sweat bullets. I would need a hammer, and drill to get through that. Let me tell you his legs matched his arms…….he was like 4 bodies in one! He was a professional body builder and won Mr. Olympia, no wonder!
I took a deep breath walked out and introduced myself, as I shook his hand I prayed I would get it back intact. I felt like a little kid saying, “Hi, my name is Dawn and I am going to be your therapist today”. He kinda half smirked, and said, “Oh really?”. I took serious offense to his tone, and well I was going to show him not to judge a book by it’s cover even if it killed me!!! Let me just tell you I had my knee in his hamstring and I was dripping sweat when I was done. He told me it was the best massage he ever had. So my point is don’t judge this tiny seed because it is a powerhouse! SHAZAM!!!
Raw hemp hearts are another amazing superfood that I just had to create some of my recipes using them! They give my soups, smoothies, deserts and cookies a creaminess or a nutty flavor I crave….. Ohhhh hemp you complete me…… I mean hemp you make a smoothie or a soup a complete meal packed with your protein! Just three tablespoons has 10 grams of protein, and these nutty little seeds pack a mean (good) punch of healthy omega 3 and 6 fats!! So hemp up your favorite recipes or just sprinkle it on GF toast and BAM you got a Dr. approved breakfast! Check out my Carrot Ginger Soup that uses hemp and makes this soup a complete meal (click here for recipe).
I just think honey is amazing. When I eat it, I feel so connected to our history. Apparently, it was used by humans 8,000 years ago. In caves in Valencia, Spain there are paintings of honey hunters collecting honey. Archaeologists (this was what I wanted to be when I was a kid) have found honey remains on the inner surface of clay vessels unearthed in ancient tombs dating back 4,700-5,500 years ago. So Cool! The only thing I dig up these days are the darn weeds that are strangling my vegetables in my garden!
Raw Honey is one of the oldest known medicines and is continued to be used today. Clinical studies have proven what Aristotle, Hippocrates and even the Bible said about the healing claims of honey. Manuka honey particularly is an effective natural antibiotic and antiseptic solution for digestive problems, skin infections, wound healing, ulcers and more. I should mention Manuka honey has a very medicinal flavor compared to your basic raw honey. Raw honey still has some of these amazing properties.
In fact raw honey is what we used on our daughter’s scrapes and cuts even as a tot. It was so cute she would ask to lick the spoon (ful of health) after we would apply it to her boo boo each time and sometimes the boo boo didn’t warrant the need for honey but a little lick made it all better. Keep in mind, authorities suggest not giving honey to infants under 12 months old due to their immature digestive system.
Although honey has amazing health properties, it should be used sparingly as it still affects blood sugar levels (unlike stevia). I use a few tablespoons in my Gluten Free Healthified Granola (click here for recipe) and it gives just the right amount of sweetness. It is best not to heat honey too much as it can destroy the enzymes and beneficial properties. So it would not be my pick for baking. I have sautéed purple cabbage and added a tablespoon of honey when the heat is turned off and it is so so good and good for you! Adding it to homemade dressings and dips adds a hint of sweetness too. Check out my Veggi Dip and Salad Dressing (click here for recipe) for some of that sweetness.
Make the honey in your life a banana almond butter honey snack and see if you get some extra sweetness back in return!
For our patients who have nut or peanut allergies, this sunflower seed butter is a great alternative. For a delicious change of pace, add this to your family’s diet for a yummylicious “Spoonful of Health”! We love to spread roasted sunflower butter on apple slices or use it in cookie recipes. There are many choices for sunflower seed butter, and make sure there is no added sugar. I sometimes get the raw versions which is a healthier choice, but once in a while a girl needs a little roasting!
Quinoa dates back over 5,ooo years in the Andes Mountains of South America, where it was first grown. This tiny, gluten free seed has a great source of protein and important minerals like calcium and iron. Quinoa has a rich flavor so I find using no more than 50% is the best for texture and taste in muffins, pancakes, cookies, and breads. I find using the flakes is a lighter flavor in recipes verses using quinoa flour. It also, is a delicious hot cereal! Check out my Breakfast Muffins (click here for recipe!)to see how I used Quinoa Flakes.
Quinoa flour is a great alternative from other grain flours. It has a hearty flavor and I have found it can be overpowering (especially for my daughter) if I use too much. Don’t let that stop you though, as it is truly a wonderful addition to your diet. Quinoa dates back over 5,ooo years in the Andes Mountains of South America, where it was first grown. This tiny, gluten free seed has a great source of protein and important minerals like calcium and iron.
Sucanat a natural sweetener that is dehydrated, freshly squeezed sugar cane juice. The sugar cane is hand-cut and crushed to squeeze out the juice. The juice is heated to reduce it to a thick syrup, which is stirred by hand to create the Sucanat granules. All the sugar cane’s molasses is locked in, giving it a rich distinctive taste. It has 4 grams of sugar, and 15 calories in a teaspoon just like white table sugar.
I prefer using Sucanat as it ranks one of the highest in nutritional values compared to sugars derived from sugar cane. Sucanat also contains a smaller proportion of sucrose than white cane sugar. I find this is the best alternative to refined white sugar and brown sugars. In your recipes use this sweetener as an equal exchange in measurement. I am happy to report, to make Sucanat the sugar cane is “green cut”, which means the fields are not burned. Instead, the leaves and tops of the cane plant are left in the field as a renewable nutrient source for the soil and as a natural form of weed control.
If you are wondering how the name Sucanat came about it stands for SUgar CAne NATural. I have used this natural sweetener on top of my Breakfast Muffins (click here for recipe!) and my Healified Granola (click here for recipe!).
Gluten Free Oats
Traditionally, oats were gluten free but over the years the wheat fields have contaminated the oat fields. Bob’s Red mill tests each farm delivery using an R5 ElISA gluten test to ensure the absence of gluten. If you love oats, you will love my Healified Granola!
Goji berries are considered a super food as it is a nutrient-rich fruit. It is packed with vitamin A, C and E as well as 20 trace mineral like zinc, iron, riboflavin (B2) and beta-carotene. It is a great way to boost nutrition in your smoothies, muffins, and pancakes to name a few.
I love using flax in everything! It is an excellent source of fiber, iron and omega-3’s. It has 8 grams of protein in only 3 tablespoons! It works great as an egg substitute by using 5 tablespoons of tepid water and 2 tablespoons of ground flax per egg. I always have a jar of ground flax seeds in the freezer. The oils can go rancid so it is best to keep it cold after the seed is ground. When using flax in a recipe, consider that it will absorb the liquid so you may need to increase liquids. Check out my Breakfast Muffins, Limalicous Bars, and Almond Joy Cookie recipes to use ground flax.