Apple Cider Vinegar: What’s the hype?

apple cider vin

Apple Cider Vinegar has been making headlines all over lately…so what’s all the hype about? I’m writing this post to give you a short and sweet description of what Apple Cider Vinegar is and what it may be beneficial for.

What is Apple Cider Vinegar? Apples are crushed and their juice is added to barrels or casks along with yeasts to ferment the natural sugars. The result is alcohol. Next, the bacteria are added to convert the alcohol to acetic acid. Finally, the mixture is allowed to ferment for weeks or months, depending on the maker. During this time, non-toxic goo made up of yeast and acetic acid bacteria forms within the mixture

What is “the mother”? This is the goo that I mentioned above. Some companies choose to pasteurize and strain out the goo. Others keep the goo for potential health benefits.

What may be the benefits to consuming apple cider vinegar with “the mother”?

  • May help fight infections and promote a healthy immune system
  • May improve blood pressure and cholesterol
  • May decrease your risk of diabetes and heart disease
  • May help maintain a healthy gut
  • May improve calcium absorption
  • Vinegar is associated with cancer fighting properties similar to antioxidants
  • May help with acne when used as a natural toner (balance the pH of your skin)
  • May help with weight loss

How can you drink it? Mix 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar into a large glass of water. Add a teaspoon of natural honey.

braggs

For more information visit Bragg’s website: http://bragg.com/products/bragg-organic-apple-cider-vinegar.html

Chocolate Chunk Energy Bites… with a surprise ingredient!

Guess what these energy bites are made of?! Primarily CHICKPEAS! Who would have thought?

Chickpeas are a low fat alternative to use in many recipes. Chickpeas are also a great plant-based source of protein, fibre, B vitamins, and iron. Tonight I am hosting a class on this Versatile Bean at our Sobeys Stratford. This is one of the few recipes I came up with to demonstrate this little bean’s great versatility! More recipes will be coming your way after our class.

chocolate chunk energy bites

Ingredients (Makes ~ 24 small bites):

  • 1 ½ cups canned unsalted chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • ½ cup natural almond butter
  • 3 tbsp natural honey
  • ½ tsp cinnamon powder
  • 1/3 cup + 2 tbsp Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-free Quick Cooking Oats
  • 1 1/3 cup oat flour (gluten-free Bob’s Red Mill)
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 tbsp pure maple syrup
  • 70% cacao dark chocolate chunks

 

Directions:

  1. In a food processor, combine the rinsed/drained chickpeas, almond butter, honey, cinnamon powder, and vanilla.
  2. Process these ingredients until completely combined into a thick puree.
  3. Using a spatula, scrap the mixture from your food processor into a large mixing bowl.
  4. In the large mixing bowl, add the oats (a small amount at a time) and mix in thoroughly.
  5. Next add the maple syrup and mix.
  6. Finally, add your flour. Add ¼ cup at a time with regular mixing. (It is difficult to combine so the smaller amount at a time, the better).
  7. Fold in your dark chocolate chunks.
  8. Form the mixture into bite sized bites and place in the refrigerator for storage.
  9. Eat chilled and enjoy 🙂

Remembrance Day #LestWeForget

remembrance-day

I write this post in freedom.. freedom that I have due to our soldiers making the ultimate sacrifice many years ago. Today is Remembrance Day in Canada and Veterans Day in the United States. Striving to be your best self, accomplishing your own goals, finishing your degree, volunteering in the community, paying it forward, helping a stranger carry their groceries…the list could go on. These are all many small ways to share love and gratitude for the freedom we have on earth today. Live life to the fullest, as we are where we are now because of these individuals. Today, I want to remind you to take a moment of silence to commemorate the sacrifice that many made to ensure our freedom today. #LestWeForget

Trouble sleeping? Waking up in the middle of the night?

trouble-sleeping

Do you find yourself waking up in the middle of the night? Are you following a certain diet? Trying to lose weight? You may be restricting your carbohydrates too much!

Let’s begin with glycogen… what is glycogen?

  • “Carbohydrate stores” in the body
  • Stores are very limited
  • Reserves are smaller than protein and fat stores
  • Stores are located primarily in the liver and muscle

So how does glycogen impact your sleep?

  • Liver glycogen can maintain its stores to keep your blood glucose (blood sugars) normalized through the night
  • A morning meal will refuel and replace these stores used up overnight while sleeping

HOWEVER, 

If you’re not consuming enough carbohydrate = drop in blood glucose = hunger = waking up in the middle of the night!

Make sure to choose the right carbohydrates to fuel your body and replenish those glycogen stores throughout the day.

Foods such as: sweet potatoes, berries, vegetables, root vegetables, apples, beans, oats, nuts, ancient grains (e.g. quinoa), large flake oats, etc. These carbohydrates are the best source of fuel that are high in fibre and nutrients.

 

Low-Cal Mini Pizza Crusts (Gluten-Free)

I created this recipe looking for a healthy alternative to pizza crust. You can make this crust as mini individual pizza crusts, or make one large pizza crust. I thought the mini pizzas was a fun idea so that if people wanted to created their own pizza and toppings it could be done! This crust is high in protein and low in cals.

beet mini pizzas

Nutrition Facts Per 1 Mini Crust (Makes 5):  Calories: 61 calories Fat: 0.9g Carbs: 5.9g Protein:7.5g

What you will need (makes 5 mini-crusts):

  • 1/4 cup coconut flour
  • 1/3 cup greek yogurt protein-powder from Genuine Health.
  • 1/2 a large head of cauliflower
  • 1/4 cup egg whites
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp italian seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • Touch of ground sea salt
  • Touch of ground black pepper

Directions:

  1. Steam your cauliflower until soft in a heat safe, sealed container for ~5 minutes in the microwave with  3 tbsp water.
  2. When cauliflower is cooked, using a food processor or blender, blend the cauliflower until it becomes a fine consistency (no chunks).
  3. When the cauliflower is fully processed, combine in a large bowl with the rest of the ingredients. Regularly mix as adding ingredients to ensure proper distribution.
  4. Preheat the oven to 375F.
  5. On a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, drizzle with olive oil to prevent sticking. Mold your mixture into small pizza crust rounds and place on the baking sheet.
  6. When the oven is ready, bake on one side for ~15 minutes, gently flip the crusts to toast the alternative side for ~15 minutes.
  7. Remove from the oven, allow to cool for a few minutes and then begin to add your toppings as desired. Once you have completed your toppings, put the pizzas back in the oven.
  8. Remember: this pizza crust is made from cauliflower and may apart a lot more easily than regular crust. You may not be able to pick it up however, eating it with a fork and a knife isn’t so bad. It still tastes GREAT!

I topped my pizzas with roasted beets, roasted garlic, arugula, goat cheese, olive oil, black pepper. One of my favourite food combinations 🙂 

 

 

MSG madness!

MSG

MSG, also known as monosodium glutamate, is not something that I was ever concerned with living in Canada. It was very easy to avoid. The FDA requires that it is stated on the product label if it is within the food. Also, in Canada I did not have a language barrier holding me back from knowing whether their is MSG added in the food or not.

However, I have come to realize. It is in almost EVERYTHING in Lao cooking. So what is the big deal? I’m sure most of you have heard of MSG before because it made headlines when people were concerned it could have negative effects on our health.

Now you’re probably wondering why I am even concerned about MSG.

First of all, there is not enough research on this man-made ingredient to conclude the long-term and short-term risks of this product. However, there has been plenty of signs and symptoms reported from consumers on MSG sensitivity and side effects. In addition, the FDA is still investigating its effects and require all food companies to list it on the label if it is in their product. This is why I choose to avoid it when possible. 

MSG is made from sodium, glutamate and water. It is used in cooking to enhance the flavour. It has the appearance of salt granules. Some reports say that MSG’s flavour enhancing skills have the ability to over-excite our body’s cells to dangerous levels. These types of dangerous levels may kill or damage our body’s cells …leading to and worsening health issues such as, Parkinson’s, Dementia, Alzheimers, etc. (this is not yet researched enough however, it is being studied).

 

Signs and symptoms reported after MSG consumption: 

Headaches, nausea, fatigue, increased heart beat, nausea, vomiting, tingling/burning sensation, flushing of the skin, blurred vision, feeling pressure on the face, chest, back or neck.

I could be overanalyzing… but since I have been living in Laos I have gotten a lot more headaches than usual and tend to feel nauseous sometimes after eating out. When I say MSG is in everything here… I am not lying. For example, sliced mango is served with MSG on the side to dip into?! Crazy.. if you ask me. Why not enjoy mango for its natural flavour?

In Canada, the FDA requires that MSG must be stated on the food product label if it is used. It may be listed as “monosodium glutamate” in the ingredients. You can also look for “No MSG” or “MSG free” on packaging to ensure you are choosing MSG-free foods. It is also very commonly used in Chinese and Asian restaurants in cooking. You can ask for no MSG to avoid this in many places.

See below a picture of sliced mango served with a side of an MSG dip. This is a regular snack served around Laos. Even when you buy mango on the street it comes with a little bag of MSG with it.

mango MSG

Is it really worth it if you can avoid these symptoms and possibly detrimental effects on your body’s cells? No it isn’t. Be an informed consumer. Read the label. Make the wise decision and avoid MSG where you can.

My motivation for this post stems from my Grandpa. He has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s and research is key in order to find ways to help slow down the progression of the disease. Research is still ongoing for this disease and no cure as been found. In the meantime, educating myself on the disease and how to tailor his diet to make a strong positive impact and slow the disease progression is the best I can do at this time. Avoiding MSG is just one of the small ways to make a positive change. 

xoxo until next time

with love

B

Sabaidee! Hello from Laos

Saibadee LAos.jpg

Hi friends! I am all settled in and had the opportunity to explore the city of Vientiane yesterday (Sunday) before I started my first day of work here.

Of course I went to check out the fresh food markets, many temples, and the Vientiane famous night market. Fresh fruit is at every corner wherever I walk… can’t complain about that at all. I am already in love with this city.

fresh fruit market 1.jpg

I am now sitting at my desk on my first day of world at the World Vision Laos National Office with the rest of the Health and Nutrition team. Everyone here is now calling me “Bee” because the r in Brooke is difficult to pronounce. We just went to a cafe across to the street to grab breakfast where I had a “Berry Bliss” smoothie……… MEANT TO BE!

berry bliss smoothie

Anyway… I will be in touch with my many food adventures to come while working here 🙂

xo

B