Monday, December 12, 2011

Coconut Oil for Acne

Although coconut oil has received somewhat of a bad rap for many decades due to its high saturated fat content, it is actually one of the good guys when it comes to healthy fats. According to the folks at Nutiva, who have been nourishing people with their organic, extra virgin coconut oil for years, state on their website that, "since the 1960's coconut oil has been unfairly labeled as "unhealthy". The media reported studies of how tropical coconut oils were laden with artery-clogging saturated fats. What was left out of these reports was the fact that the coconut oil used in the studies was not the virgin oil used for centuries, but rather hydrogenated coconut oil. We have since learned it's the hydrogenation -- artificially adding a hydrogen molecule to oil in order to make it shelf-stable -- that's the problem, not the coconut oil itself. Hydrogenated soy, corn, and canola oils -- loaded with dangerous trans-fats and processed with toxic hexane solvents -- are routinely added to packaged foods. Hydrogenation fattened corporate profits and American waistlines, and is now linked with trans-fats and associated heart disease." Coconut oil has numerous benefits - both externally and internally and because it has anti-fungal, anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties it is super nourishing for the skin. It serves as a chemical free, natural body and face moisturizer and is ideal for clearing up acne, even with oily skinned teens. Since I have two teenagers at home who suffer from typical flare-ups, I decided to do my own in-home study. They were of course skeptical at first, but decided to give this natural remedy a try. I made them each their own little container of the oil and gave them the following instructions: Wash face with warm water and cleanser but do not dry. Use a pea-size amount of the oil and rub between palms to melt and then rub all over face and neck (we live in Boston and it's cold out so the oil is a solid - in warmer months it turns to liquid). Rub any remaining oil on tops of hands. Note that this should only be done at night since the oil does leave a sheen that would not be desirable for those who need to apply makeup or need to go out in public since it looks and is greasy. It does soak in, but may take a little bit of time. Both my girls have been following this evening protocol for a few weeks now with good success and have even mentioned it to their friends. My older daughter came home from school the other day and said, "hey mom, can you make up a container of coconut oil for my friend please", as if I actually was mixing this stuff up in my basement or something. Would love to hear your thoughts on this if you have tried this yourself. I am actually engaging in this home study as well, just to keep those wrinkles at bay - I have teenagers, you know!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

School lunches - Always a Hot Topic

School lunches are always a hot topic, especially since a Chicago school system banned kids from brown bagging, stating that a meal from the school cafeteria is more nutritious than what most children would bring from home. Here are some of my thoughts on the subject in an article written by Northborough Patch reporter Liz Nolan... Parents, what are your thoughts on the nutritional quality of school lunches served in your area?

Friday, March 25, 2011

Chocolate Protein Shake

I love creating my own protein shakes, especially in the morning when I am always crunched for time. You can't beat the quickness factor and if you choose your ingredients wisely you have a super balanced meal that should keep you satiated and provide you with sustained energy for at least 2 1/2 to 3 hours. Everybody reacts to food in different ways, but if you find that this doesn't sustain you, brings on cravings or sends you into sleep mode, you may be lacking enough good fat, quality protein or are going too heavy on the simple carbohydrates.

As a parent of two teens I always try to lure them away from the pull of fast food and other junk that seems to be lurking around every corner - from the fast food court at the mall to the church basement at youth group events. I try to come up with recipes that are delicious, don't scream "healthy" and are suitable stand-ins for their current crap-laden faves. Hopefully with this one I will have them at "chocolate shake" without having to even go near the drive-thru.

As far as nutritionals, this recipe has far more protein than a typical fast food shake. I checked out McDonald's stats for their 16 ounce Triple Chocolate version which came in at 13 grams compared to mine which racks up 32.5 grams, coming mostly from high quality whey protein. Whey protein is loaded with amino acids which have been shown to boost mood and behavior along with the protein content which helps with focus and concentration. As far as the sugar content, which is really the "bad guy" of the equation, the fast food option rolls in at a whopping 84 grams, while mine only has a mere 2 grams. Excess sugar may lead to weight gain, fatigue, poor mood and may contribute to a myriad of other health issues. It can also bring on cravings for more of the white stuff - which may make one think that they are lacking willpower, when in fact it is just the simple logic of sugar feeding sugar. Lastly, the fat content - although the numbers aren't that far off - 14 grams in the Mickey D's, 12 in mine - it's the quality of fat. In my recipe I use coconut oil, a healthy fat which actually accelerates fat burning in the body and helps keep you satiated, is great for healing the gut and makes skin glow. Oh - and the calorie factor - mine comes in at 267 calories while McD's is a staggering 580 - both approximately the same serving size.

So, if you're looking for some quick, easy and healthy breakfast or snack options to fuel yourself or that seemingly always ravenous teen, save yourself a trip to the drive-thru and whip this up in no time in your own kitchen. Feel free to experiment and make your own combinations using nut butter in place of the coconut oil, vanilla protein powder instead of chocolate, or adding a few berries to give it a fruity flavor - the options are endless!

Chocolate Protein Shake

1 C Vanilla Almond Milk ( I use unsweetened Blue Diamond in the box)

1 scoop Jay Robb Chocolate Whey Protein Powder (smartly sweetened with stevia)

12 drops liquid stevia (I use Sweet Leaf by Wisdom Foods)

1/2 Tablespoon coconut oil ( I use Nutiva brand)

2 ounces cottage cheese ( I use half a container of the little four ounce Breakstone's lowfat

1/2 Tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder (I use Ghiardelli)

Mix in a blender until well combined and serve. Feel free to adjust quantities to your liking, knowing that this may change the nutritional profile slightly.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Oven Baked Eggplant Chips

I am currently going through a major food craze with eggplant and it seems like I just can't get enough of this nightshade vegetable. I'm loving their starchy, potato chip like flavor, especially in this baked eggplant chip recipe. This makes a fabulous side dish with a salad or entree, a great snack fresh from the oven, or perfect as a dipper instead of the traditional carb-laden chip or cracker, making it ideal for hummus or guacamole.
Eggplant is very low in calories, coming in at a mere 27 cals per cup, offering 3 grams of fiber and plenty of amino acids which may help to control mood, cravings, depression and regulate sleep patterns. Eggplant is also low in carbohydrates - only 6 grams per cup, which is an important fact considering that if your body doesn't utilize the carbohydrates for energy, it converts the excess carbs to sugar which is stored as fat - yikes! You can read more about sugar and fat in my blog post "Fat Does Not Make You Fat". Compare those eggplant stats with an equal amount of potatoes that contain 133 calories per cup, 30 grams of carbs and 3 grams of fiber. Kinda makes me want to forgo the mashed potatoes and dive into some delicious eggplant, since for me it definitely does help to scratch that carb itch. So, check out the recipe below and discover an easy, satisfying and delish way to help you keep your calories and carbs in check, get in some essential fiber and help to pacify that nagging chip craving that many of us feel.
Oven Baked Eggplant Chips
1 medium eggplant washed and sliced into 1/8 inch rounds
olive oil
  • Wash eggplant and slice into rounds rather than length wise.
  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  • Place eggplant on a large metal baking tray and brush both sides of the eggplant lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with just a touch of salt.
  • Place in oven for 15-25 minutes, checking after 15 minutes.
  • Eggplant will get very brown and will need to be flipped so the other side may brown as well.
  • Eggplant should be crisp and very brown when done.
  • Remove and place on a plate to serve - enjoy!
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