Strawberry Pancake Mini Muffins

Who doesn’t love breakfast food? Especially pancakes! 

This recipe uses Birch Benders Paleo Pancake Mix— a grain-free pancake mix that’s much better for you than traditional wheat-based mixes (i.e. Aunt Jemima, Bisquick, etc.). It’s made with cassava starch, coconut flour, and almond flour. Cassava is a nutty-flavored, starchy root vegetable native to South America, which has a lower glycemic response compared to grain-based flours. 

Instead of drowning them in maple syrup, I like to take a gentler approach and serve them with a couple tablespoons of nut butter (almond, peanut, sunflower, or cashew) mixed with a teaspoon of pure maple syrup. If necessary, mix with a little unsweetened almond or coconut milk to thin it out a bit. Pair with an egg and breakfast is served! 

Print Recipe
Strawberry Pancake Mini Muffins
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 12 minutes
Servings
servings (1 serving = 5 mini muffins)
Ingredients
  • 1 cup Birch Benders Paleo Pancake Mix
  • 1 large free-range, organic egg
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened almond, coconut or cashew milk
  • 3/4 cup diced fresh strawberries You could also use raspberries or blueberries!
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 12 minutes
Servings
servings (1 serving = 5 mini muffins)
Ingredients
  • 1 cup Birch Benders Paleo Pancake Mix
  • 1 large free-range, organic egg
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened almond, coconut or cashew milk
  • 3/4 cup diced fresh strawberries You could also use raspberries or blueberries!
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease mini muffin pan with coconut oil or use mini muffin cups.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together pancake mix, milk, and egg. Batter will be slightly lumpy. Spoon 1 heaping tablespoon into each well in mini muffin pan and top each with 3 pieces of diced berry.
  3. Bake for 12 minutes, or until lightly browned. Cool in pan for 5 minutes. Remove and serve with a tablespoon or two of fresh ground almond, peanut, cashew or sunflower butter. If you want a maple flavor, simply stir 1 teaspoon of pure maple syrup into 2 tablespoons of nut butter of choice and spread equally on each muffin. Yum!
Recipe Notes

Nutrition Facts per serving (5 mini muffins)Calories: 135Total Fat: 7 g; Saturated Fat: 2 g; Sodium: 290 mg; Potassium: 180 mg; Total Carbohydrate: 14 g; Dietary fiber: 5 g; Net Carbohydrates: 9 grams;Sugar: 2 g (no added sugar);Protein: 7 g

Share this Recipe

Get FREE tips and tiny slices of motivation to help you live a healthier life...without giving up chocolate!

Illuminate Your Life

August 3rd, 2019 | no comments

Photo by Cathal Mac an Bheatha on Unsplash

Plus:

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO TODAY’S POST!

 

It’s Sunday morning and there you are sitting at the kitchen table enjoying a cup of coffee when suddenly, the power goes out. You call the electric company and within a couple of hours they arrive in their noisy, over-sized truck, “flip a switch”, and … PRESTO! Power is restored. 

 

The power wasn’t dead.

It didn’t vanish into thin air.

It was merely…interrupted. 

 

This outage may have resulted from high winds, a lightning strike, or the high power demands of a heat wave. Whatever the reason, something interfered, causing it to “trip”. 

You know exactly where I’m going with this, don’t you? 🙂

 

There’s something you need to understand about the amazing person called YOU

Deep inside of you is a place that knows only well-being; it’s always there and forever shining bright. The problem is, we can’t always sense it and therefore tend to make choices from an imaginary broken, interrupted place. For example:

Perhaps you are experiencing turbulent, tornado-like times such as a messy divorce… so you decide to confide in your new best friends Chardonnay, Ben & Jerry; after all, they are really good listeners and never judge.  

 

Maybe you got struck by a bolt of disease like cancer or diabetes…feeling defeated, you sink into the couch and soak in a week-long pool of denial. 

 

Or maybe it’s noon on a Monday and you’re still steaming over the inconsiderate jerk who cut you off on the freeway this morning…so you rationalize that donut in the lunchroom; after all, you deserve it after that crummy morning commute!

 

But wait my love; don’t you see? Your power hasn’t left you.

 

Your switch was tripped, that’s all!

Access to your power was temporarily interrupted by your perception of the antagonist in question: the soon-to-be ex; the wretched disease; the reckless driver on I-77 North. 

But not even the most offensive, intrusive, larger-than-life nemesis has the power to dim your light of well-being. Through it all, it shines brighter than ever. To sense it however, you must reset your tripped switch. But how?

Take a deep breath in and out, and shift your perception. That’s it!

Remember, just because you can’t “see” electricity, doesn’t mean it isn’t flowing. The same goes for your ever-present light of well-being.

Just breathe and allow; breathe and allow; breathe and allow…

 

Take it one step further: Listen to this for 5 days

Earlier this week I recorded a 3-minute Light of Well-Being visualization for a group of individuals taking my Whole Body Health program. It really brings the core message of this post to life!

For the next five days I would like to challenge you to start your day by listening to this recording in a quiet place with your eyes closed. Pay attention to how your day unfolds. (to listen, click on the heart image above ⇑ ⇑ ⇑)

Nothing more; nothing less.

 

Mel’s weekly food pick: 
Siete Almond Flour Tortillas

Siete Family Foods was born when Veronica Garza’s family helped her overcome a series of multiple debilitating autoimmune conditions that almost wrecked her life. With their love and support, she was able to get better.

In addition to exercising together as a family, they began learning about the ways food can either heal or harm. At her brother’s urging, she tried a low-inflammation, grain-free diet… and her family joined her on the journey.

The Siete line began with grain-free tortillas and then expanded to include taco shells, tortilla chips, and even hot sauce! 

Siete Almond Flour Tortillas are a grain-free tortilla without the artery-clogging trans fats (i.e. partially hydrogenated oils) still hiding out in many brands of tortillas on the market. These heart-healthy tortillas can blanket your favorite sandwich fillings– from almond butter and bananas to greens, sprouts, avocados and hummus (my favorite combo!). 

With only five ingredients, you may do a double take when you see the price (~$1.25 per wrap). But seriously, you get what you pay for, especially when it comes to quality food. If it’s too expensive for your budget, why not invest instead, in the mere five minutes it will take to make your own tortillas? See this week’s recipe pick for Five-Minute Flax Wraps.

Mel’s weekly recipe pick: 
Five-Minute Flax Wraps

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Get FREE tips and tiny slices of motivation to help you live a healthier life...without giving up chocolate!

5-Minute Flax Wraps

If you’re looking for a way to enjoy your favorite sandwich fillings without the blood sugar-burden of bread or the artery-clogging nightmare of trans fat-laden tortillas, you’re going to really love this recipe! It takes only three minutes to prepare and another two minutes to cook.

Flaxseeds, coconut oil, egg, spices, water, and baking powder– that’s it! 

Simply mix all ingredients in a bowl, pour into the bottom of a coconut oil-greased pie plate and microwave for about 90 seconds. Alternatively you could pop it in a preheated 350-degree oven for 10 minutes.

Fill your wrap with any of the following, then roll and eat 🙂 :

  • Hummus + greens (like arugula or spinach) + sprouts + avocado slices + sunflower seeds + a few dashes of hot sauce 
  • Greens + red pepper strips + guacamole + shredded chicken
  • Black beans + salsa + greens + guacamole
  • Tuna or egg salad using avocado oil mayonnaise + sprouts + chopped onion, carrots, and celery
  • Almond butter + diced banana or strawberries (replace paprika and garlic with cinnamon, nutmeg, or cardamom)
  • Breakfast wrap: sliced hard-boiled egg (or scrambled/omelet-style) + avocado slices + sprouts + greens + salsa (see above pic!)

Wraps will keep for a few days in the refrigerator, so why not make a few at a time and store for a quick breakfast or lunch?

Print Recipe
5-Minute Flax Wraps
If you're looking for a way to enjoy your favorite sandwich fillings without the blood sugar-burden of bread or the artery-clogging nightmare of trans fat-laden tortillas, you're going to really love this recipe! It takes only three minutes to prepare and another two minutes to cook. 3 Earthfoods per serving: ❤️ ❤️ ❤️
Prep Time 3 minutes
Cook Time 2 minutes
Servings
wrap
Ingredients
  • 3 tbsp. fresh ground flaxseeds
  • 1/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. smoked paprika
  • 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
  • 2 dashes Sea salt
  • 1/2 tbsp. coconut oil, melted use refined coconut oil for no coconut flavor
  • 1 tbsp. water could also use carrot or vegetable juice
  • 1 large organic, free-range egg
Prep Time 3 minutes
Cook Time 2 minutes
Servings
wrap
Ingredients
  • 3 tbsp. fresh ground flaxseeds
  • 1/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. smoked paprika
  • 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
  • 2 dashes Sea salt
  • 1/2 tbsp. coconut oil, melted use refined coconut oil for no coconut flavor
  • 1 tbsp. water could also use carrot or vegetable juice
  • 1 large organic, free-range egg
Instructions
  1. Mix dry ingredients in a small bowl. Stir in coconut oil and beat in egg and water until blended.
  2. Grease a microwave-safe pie plate with coconut oil and pour the batter over the bottom, spreading evenly.
  3. Microwave on high for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes (alternatively, you can bake in a preheated 350-degree oven for 10 minutes). Let cool and remove from plate using spatula or pancake turner.
Recipe Notes

Nutrition Facts per serving (1 wrap; no fillings)Calories: 230Total Fat: 19 g; Saturated Fat: 9 g; Sodium: 350 mg; Potassium: 90 mg; Total Carbohydrate: 8 g; Dietary fiber: 6 g; Net Carbohydrates: 2 grams; Sugar: 0 g;Protein: 11 g

Share this Recipe

Get FREE tips and tiny slices of motivation to help you live a healthier life...without giving up chocolate!

Listen to Your Inner Voice (it knows what’s best for you)

July 23rd, 2019 | no comments
inner voice

Photo by Mohammad Metri on Unsplash

Plus:

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO TODAY’S POST!

 

We all have an inner voice. Some call it intuition, while others refer to it as a gut feeling. Where does this voice come from?

I believe it is the voice of my higher self, my true nature—that which is directly connected to a higher power. Call this power Divine energy, Source, God, Nature, or Spirit; the name doesn’t matter. In fact, I find that when we put a label on it, we inadvertently negate its immense power. We almost belittle it.

The name then conjures up images of something outside of us. 

 

We ALL have an inner voice (yes, you too!)

As I contemplate the source of this inner voice, there is a deep knowing that I am directly connected to it.

  • How else am I able to explain unbelievably good ideas that seem to come out of thin air?
  • Where did these hunches and gut feelings come from that sure enough came true?
  • Where does my pure clarity of purpose originate? I have no doubt that what I am doing with my life is exactly what I’m supposed to be doing. I am living my purpose, and I feel it deep within. 

As human beings, we have gotten pretty good at ignoring our inner voice, yet it is essential that we learn how to tap into it. Tune in. When it tells you to go left instead of right, go left; there’s a reason. When you have a sure knowing about something but don’t know how you know it, that’s the voice, so don’t question it.

Mel’s inner voice experience (don’t worry…it’s not weird!)

A few summers ago, we put our pet box turtle Dan (hubby named him, not me!🙄) in his outside enclosure. On this particular evening it started to thunderstorm, but we thought nothing of it because Dan loves being out in the rain. After about thirty minutes, the storm passed, and the sun came out again. It was getting late, so Wayne went to retrieve Dan…but to our surprise, he was gone!

He escaped and was nowhere to be found.

We frantically scoured every square inch of our backyard, searching under countless bushes and leaf piles. No Dan. Wayne was visibly upset and reluctantly suggested we cease our search. 

“Mel, let’s just let him go,” he said. “There’s no way we are going to find him out here.” 

Wayne resignedly threw in the towel, but I continued to search. What he didn’t realize was that I had an inner knowing that Dan was close by. I could feel it in my gut. As I tapped into my inner voice, it guided me to go to the edge of our property line. Go to the back! Go to the back! I heard it say. I followed these intuitive instructions and continued walking until I reached our neighbor’s backyard, some five hundred feet from Dan’s enclosure. Sure enough, there he was, frightened and closed up in his shell by the neighbor’s fence, almost completely camouflaged by his surroundings. I picked him up, gave him a big hug (yes, it is possible to hug a turtle), and proceeded to share my find with a very jubilant Wayne. 

Call it your inner voice or a quiet knowing; we all have it. We just have to tune in and trust.

 

Meditation: a tool for connecting to your inner voice

Why are we so good at ignoring this voice? Quite honestly, I don’t believe we even recognize it when it speaks. We may not even know what it is or trust it, for that matter. Or perhaps we’re so busy listening to the constant chatter of our egocentric mind that we don’t make the peaceful space necessary to hear it. 

The most effective way to tap into your inner voice is through meditation– a practice of entering into the present moment by focusing on your breath. Please don’t get all hung up on the name! If the word meditation feels strange to you, replace it with one of these:

Centering
Connecting
Getting still
Going within
Plugging in
Practicing presence
Resting my mind

What meditation isn’t…and what it is

Now let’s clear up a common misconception about meditation. It does not involve stopping thought completely—that would be impossible, as we have anywhere between fifty thousand to seventy thousand thoughts each day.

Consider meditation this way:

Imagine an ocean as the waves crest and break upon the surface. Although not visible from the shore, deep beneath these very active rolling waves, exists calm waters. Think of the thoughts, emotions, and “baggage” you bring to meditation as the roaring waves, and meditation, as the practice that helps you get closer to the calm ocean underneath. There will be times when you achieve the state of deep, still water, and yet other times you may be just beneath the surface. Both are progress and should not be judged.

 

What are the rules of meditation?

There are none. In fact, there is no right or wrong way to meditate.

When I meditate, I focus on my breath as it goes in and out. When a thought creeps into my mind while I’m meditating (and it always does!), I acknowledge it and gently escort it out of my inner space, while continuing to focus on my breath.

During these quiet, meditative moments, I am able to clear the static and make room for my intuitive abilities to surface. I meditate in the morning, about fifteen minutes after waking up. Why? Because I haven’t talked to a single person, checked a single email, or allowed any momentum to build. I literally wake up, brush my teeth, take my vitamins, stretch, and meditate.

 

Meditation and healthy choices

You may be wondering if meditation can help you make positive lifestyle choices. Of course it can!

First, meditation is, in and of itself, a healthy choice. It lowers blood pressure, reduces stress, and provides you with a calm and easy state of mind. But I would like to take this even deeper, if I may. 

Your higher self knows what is best for your health. It is grounded in purity and nature, and it knows how to thrive. And since it comes from nature, does it not make logical sense that it would desire sustenance from the same source? 

Deep inside of us is a constant craving to feel good and at peace, but we often lose touch and forget what good and peace feel like. You know exactly what I’m talking about if, right now, you are reading these words, knowing that things must change for you. You know that you deserve more and better than what you’ve been feeding yourself. 

 

Food and the unspoken power of your inner voice

As you journey towards a healthier you, I fully respect that it’s not so easy to just say no to your all-time favorite comfort foods like pizza and ice cream. Food is legal, it’s delicious, and– depending on what and how much you eat– can contribute to ease or dis-ease in your body. The point is, food will always be around; there’s no escaping it, so you must learn how to coexist with it peacefully if you want to heal at any level. 

Your inner voice is an unspoken power; a consciousness that knows only wellness. When tapped into, this invisible force can empower you to stand before a buffet of party food and say no to the pizza in favor of the veggie tray…without feeling tempted.

It is during daily meditation and quiet reflection, where you are able to reach that place inside you that will settle for nothing less than purity. When you connect to this deeper you, really settle in and listen, choosing veggies over pizza will feel like…home. 

Connect to your inner voice

I invite you to try it out for yourself; experience the peace and power that come from going within. Start with five minutes, and increase your time from there if you choose. You may find it helpful to listen to guided meditations, which walk you through the process step by step. There are a number of free guided meditations available online, or you can download one of the many meditation apps available through your phone. I’ve been using the free meditation app Insight Timer for years and love it!

 

Mel’s weekly food pick: 
Chickpeas

Photo by Kyle Killam from Pexels

Chickpeas (also known as garbanzo beans)– along with lentils, beans, peas and peanuts– are a member of the legume family. Legume is just a fancy word meaning “contained within a pod”.

A salad-bar staple, and also the main ingredient in hummus and falafel (see this week’s recipe pick below), chickpeas are simply brimming with goodness. Because of their abundant fiber, chickpeas are considered a low-glycemic (gentle on blood sugar) food ideal for those with diabetes or pre-diabetes. They also claim bragging rights for manganese (a necessary trace mineral for collagen production), magnesium (a common mineral-deficiency shared by many Americans), folate, iron, zinc, and copper.

Did you know that the fiber in chickpeas also promotes healthy blood pressure and cholesterol levels? Seriously, knowing this, why would you not eat chickpeas?

Because they are so versatile, you can not only enjoy them whole in salads, stews, and baked chickpea snacks, but also blended into homemade hummus and falafel patties. In addition, there’s an entire line of chickpea pasta, called Banza, that makes a wonderful, fiber-rich replacement for traditional wheat-based pasta. Check out this recipe for Upgraded Mac-n-Cheese using Banza shells. 

 

Mel’s weekly recipe pick: 
Herbed Falafel Patties

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Get FREE tips and tiny slices of motivation to help you live a healthier life...without giving up chocolate!

Herbed Falafel Patties

Looking for a nutritious and delicious meat substitute to top your dinner-size salad? Enter falafel– a patty made from ground chickpeas, herbs, and spices.

Traditionally falafel is deep-fried…and that’s a big NO for this body. Thankfully I stumbled upon a baked version at one of my favorite lunch spots a while back and have been hooked ever since.

My version of falafel is baked and loaded with all things Earthfood: chickpeas, parsley, cilantro, basil, hemp hearts, and garlic! 

In addition to an amazing salad-topper, falafel can also be served as a side dish or as a filling for tacos or Buddha bowls!

Print Recipe
Herbed Falafel Patties
Traditionally falafel is deep-fried, but my version is baked and loaded with all things Earthfood: chickpeas, parsley, cilantro, basil, hemp hearts, and garlic! 2 Earthfoods per serving: ❤️ ❤️
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Servings
servings
Ingredients
  • 2 cups canned chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 2 cups fresh basil, cilantro, and parsley, chopped (a combination of all three)
  • 3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp. hemp hearts Navitas brand
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
  • 2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice could also use Lakewood Pure Lemon Juice
  • 1-2 pinches Sea salt and pepper to taste
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Servings
servings
Ingredients
  • 2 cups canned chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 2 cups fresh basil, cilantro, and parsley, chopped (a combination of all three)
  • 3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp. hemp hearts Navitas brand
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
  • 2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice could also use Lakewood Pure Lemon Juice
  • 1-2 pinches Sea salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Combine all ingredients in food processor and pulse until coarse. Shape dough into 8 patties, place on parchment-lined baking sheet and press down slightly in the center of each one.
  3. Bake for 30 mins and turn carefully with spatula at the 15-minute mark.
Recipe Notes

Nutrition Facts per serving (1 patty)Calories: 135Total Fat: 7 g; Saturated Fat: 0 g; Sodium: 100 mg; Potassium: 160 mg; Total Carbohydrate: 15 g; Dietary fiber: 3 g; Net Carbohydrates: 12 grams; Sugar: 0 g; Protein: 4 g

Share this Recipe

Get FREE tips and tiny slices of motivation to help you live a healthier life...without giving up chocolate!

Earthfood-Loaded Yogurt Bowl

A filling breakfast or lunch using unsweetened, full-fat Icelandic yogurt (called ‘skyr’) as the base (you could also use full-fat cottage cheese), topped with chopped apple, a few blueberries, hemp hearts, unsweetened coconut flakes, almonds and cacao nibs. 

So basically, this meal is abundant in Earthfoods, with just a smattering of yogurt. Now that’s what I call a yogurt parfait. Tons of flavor and nutrition…without the sugar!

After enjoying this bowl, I’m sure you’ll be inspired to concoct your own fun masterpiece. Any fruit, nut or seed could work…so get creative and see what you come up with. Why not try some unique sprinklings of goji berries, maca powder or bee pollen? Go get ’em! 

Print Recipe
Earthfood-Loaded Yogurt Bowl
A filling meal using unsweetened, full-fat Icelandic yogurt (called 'skyr') as the base, topped with fruit, nuts, seeds, and a few other unique ingredients. 4 Earthfoods per serving: ❤️❤️❤️❤️
Prep Time 5 minutes or less
Servings
serving
Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened, full-fat Icelandic yogurt I like Siggi's brand
  • 1 small apple, chopped with skin on you could use any fruit here
  • 1 small handful fresh blueberries or berry of choice
  • 1/8 cup almonds or nut of choice
  • 1 tbsp. hemp hearts could also use flax or chia seeds
  • 1 tbsp. cacao nibs Navitas brand
  • 1 tbsp. unsweetened flaked coconut
  • 2 dashes ground cinnamon
Prep Time 5 minutes or less
Servings
serving
Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened, full-fat Icelandic yogurt I like Siggi's brand
  • 1 small apple, chopped with skin on you could use any fruit here
  • 1 small handful fresh blueberries or berry of choice
  • 1/8 cup almonds or nut of choice
  • 1 tbsp. hemp hearts could also use flax or chia seeds
  • 1 tbsp. cacao nibs Navitas brand
  • 1 tbsp. unsweetened flaked coconut
  • 2 dashes ground cinnamon
Instructions
  1. Add all ingredients to a bowl in the order listed and dig in!
Recipe Notes

Nutrition Facts per servingCalories: 435Total Fat: 26 g; Saturated Fat: 10 g; Sodium: 60 mg; Potassium: 270 mg; Total Carbohydrate: 33 g; Dietary fiber: 10 g; Net Carbohydrates: 23 grams;Sugar: 17g (no added sugar);Protein: 22 g

Share this Recipe

Get FREE tips and tiny slices of motivation to help you live a healthier life...without giving up chocolate!

Why Full-Fat Dairy is Better

July 17th, 2019 | no comments

Photo by Mae Mu on Unsplash

 

Plus:

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO TODAY’S POST!

 

Memories still haunt me to this day, of fat-free Frosted Flakes drenched in skim milk for breakfast, a slice of fat-free cheese blanketing my fat-free cold cuts (sandwiched between two slices of fat-free bread) for lunch, and a mid-afternoon snack of fat-free, artificially sweetened yogurt (with my fat-free pretzel sticks).

And please don’t even get me started on that fat-free cottage cheese I used to eat! The stuff could seriously double as spackling paste. I’ll bet if you flicked a spoonful of fat-free cottage cheese at the wall before work, I’m pretty sure it would still be there when you got home.

Listen, when your cat turns her nose up at fat-free cheese…you know there’s a problem.

It’s no wonder I didn’t enjoy dairy products back then; they lacked fat, and therefore tasted terrible! 

 

So why the obsession with low-fat dairy?

Poorly designed studies of the 1970s are to blame for the “full-fat dairy leads to heart disease” message. Their findings prompted the USDA to recommend that all Americans switch to low-fat dairy, and until recently, we rule-abiding consumers diligently followed suit like good little soldiers. We ditched the cream and used skim milk in our coffee (blech!) and “enjoyed” fat-free frozen yogurt for dessert. 

Fast-forward to 2019 and you’ll notice a rise in the number of full-fat dairy products flooding the coolers in your local grocery store. 

 

Full-fat dairy is back baby!

Recent studies aimed to challenge the low-fat dairy recommendation, and with promising results.

A 2018 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed no link between high-fat dairy and mortality, and was actually inversely associated with cardiovascular disease and stroke mortality. In other words, it may in fact offer protection against them. 

The saturated fat naturally found in dairy is mostly palmitic acid. Although palmitic acid raises LDL cholesterol, it also simultaneously lowers triglycerides (the fat in your blood) and increases HDL cholesterol (the ‘good’ cholesterol). Unfortunately we’ve been scared into focusing only on individual cholesterol numbers–such as LDL and triglycerides– and if they are out of range we assume it’s all downhill from there…bring on the statins! 

Your cholesterol ratios are what matters most– most notably your total cholesterol/HDL ratio and triglyceride/HDL ratio. To learn more about these ratios, read THIS POST. For an even deeper dive, check out Dr. Mark Hyman’s free mini-eBook, The Cholesterol Solution.

Another positive: full-fat dairy also contains medium chain triglycerides, a fat linked to improved health.  

Thank God for research, although simply reflecting on the diet patterns of our grandparents is, in my opinion, proof that we need to stop screwing with Mother Nature and get back to our roots. Whole milk is what naturally comes out of cows…until we manipulate it and remove the fat! The result? Blue/gray skim milk.

 

Other benefits of full-fat dairy (compared to low-fat/fat-free)

Compared to low and no-fat dairy, full-fat dairy slows the release of sugars into your bloodstream, which is not only better for your blood sugar, but it’s also more filling and can prevent overeating. 

Another bonus: the fat in whole milk dairy aids in the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins present in dairy, such as vitamins A and D.

And let’s just be honest…full-fat dairy tastes better. Period.

 

Best full-fat dairy choices
  • cream: choose organic when possible or at the very least, hormone, antibiotic, pesticide and GMO-free
  • pasture-raised, hormone-free, full-fat milk: as with cream, choose organic or at the very least, hormone, antibiotic, pesticide and GMO-free
  • unsweetened yogurt and kefir (both are good sources of beneficial bacteria)
  • fresh, unprocessed cheeses (click HERE for a full list)
  • 4% milkfat cottage cheese (I like Daisy and Kalona Super Natural brands)  
  • grass-fed butter and grass-fed ghee
The bottom line on full-fat dairy

If you choose to include dairy products in your diet, go for full-fat and enjoy it in small amounts in the context of a well-balanced, Earthfood-rich diet. Adding full-fat dairy to a SAD diet (Standard American Diet) of ultra-processed convenience foods and crappy carry-out, is not going to offer you any health benefits whatsoever. Just thought I’d mention that. 😘😁

Sources:
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6014779/
https://academic.oup.com/ajcn/article/108/3/476/5052139


Hungry for more information on the fascinating (and misunderstood) topic of saturated fat? Check out this podcast episode featuring Dr. Mark Hyman as he interviews Dr. Aseem Malhotra, a leading thinker in cardiology who has challenged the status quo around fat, calories and conventional wisdom around statin use.


 

Mel’s weekly food pick: 
Siggi’s Yogurt

This is one of the best yogurts out there.

Siggi’s is also called “skyr”– the traditional yogurt of Iceland. Similar to Greek yogurt, skyr is made by straining the whey (water naturally found in milk) to make for a much thicker yogurt. The final product is rich in approximately five strains of live active cultures– friendly bacteria that can boost the health of your digestive tract, immune system, and more. 

It takes four times the milk to make one cup of skyr compared to regular yogurt, which means it contains 2-3 times more protein. 

Although Siggi’s plain 4% milkfat is your best option, they also offer flavored varieties with only a fraction of added sugar compared to other brands out there, and no artificial sweeteners or high fructose corn syrup. If you’re in the mood for an even creamier skyr, they make a ‘triple cream’ (9% milkfat) too! 

To verify their products are non-GMO, Siggi’s conducts their own testing with one of the leading international food testing organizations. 

My favorite way to enjoy Siggi’s is to make a yogurt bowl loaded with all kinds of Earthfoods. Check out this week’s recipe pick below. 

Mel’s weekly recipe pick: 
Earthfood-Loaded Yogurt Bowl

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Get FREE tips and tiny slices of motivation to help you live a healthier life...without giving up chocolate!

Does Snacking Actually Promote Fat Storage?

July 12th, 2019 | no comments

Photo by Thomas Q on Unsplash

 

Plus:

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO TODAY’S POST!

 

“If we were meant to ‘graze’, we would be cows”
– Dr. Jason Fung, MD

 

I’m embarrassed to admit this, but I used to suggest what many health professionals are still advising the public to do today: to increase your metabolism and burn unwanted body fat, you should eat every three hours.

It turns out this advice actually supports fat storage, not fat loss.

Yeah, I know… shocking, right?! And who do you think is responsible for pushing this message out to us eager beavers who want nothing more than to get lean and healthy? Yep, you guessed it– big food companies.

That in itself should piss you off.

Companies whose “bread and butter” consist of nutritionally-void foods such as chips, cookies, candy bars and the like, are largely to blame for this recommendation. And to top it off, goodhearted-yet-naive health professionals like myself, freely dispensed the advice like a rigged gumball machine.

 

Snacking and fat storage: it comes down to insulin

To understand why the practice of grazing supports the storage of body fat, it’s necessary to understand the hormone insulin.

Dr. Jason Fung, Canadian nephrologist and leading expert on intermittent fasting, explains the role of insulin this way:

Insulin is a hormone produced when we eat and its job is to allow glucose into the cells. When it is no longer able to do it, glucose piles up outside the cell in the blood—this is called insulin resistance.

But why does this happen? The cells are already over-filled with glucose. It’s like packing your clothes into a suitcase. At first, the clothes go without any trouble. After a certain point, it’s impossible to jam in those last two T-shirts. The luggage is now ‘resistant’ to the clothes. It’s the same overflow phenomenon. The cell is bursting with glucose, so trying to force more in is difficult and requires much higher doses of insulin. These higher insulin levels drive weight gain and obesity.

So what does this have to do with snacking? Increased snacking increases the risk of insulin resistance, which essentially requires two things:

  1. High levels of insulin—triggered by the refined carbohydrates found in typical snacks.
  2. Persistent levels of insulin—provided by increased eating opportunities (snacking in between meals).

So instead of a balance between the insulin-dominant (fed) state and the insulin-deficient (fasting) state, we now predominantly spend our time in the ‘fed’ state.  The result? Weight gain and fat storage.

So what’s the solution?

 

Heed grandma’s advice: “Don’t snack in between meals!”

Big food companies are concerned with making money; grandma was instinctively looking out for your well-being. Maybe she was onto something with her advice.

Think about it for a second, you go out to dinner and order an “appetizer”. Have you ever looked up the true meaning of the word appetizer?

ap·pe·tiz·er: a small dish of food or a drink taken before a meal or the main course of a meal to stimulate one’s appetite.

Yes, eating stimulates your appetite, and when you snack between meals, it’s like eating an appetizer but then deliberately stopping before you are actually satisfied. This won’t decrease your appetite, it’ll only stoke it!

I don’t know about you, but I’m going with grandma on this one.

 

Hunger becomes more recognizable…a good thing indeed!

If you are an avid snacker, this may seem like a difficult habit to form, trust me I’ve been there. It took me quite a while to get used to not snacking between meals, but once I stopped and took a step back to examine why I was doing it, I realized it wasn’t due to hunger at all. I simply formed a habit… a bad one at that!

Another thing I noticed was that my body became much more sensitive to true hunger. I don’t know why, but we tend to think of hunger as a bad thing. Consider this: Never allowing your body to become hungry makes it very difficult to differentiate between true, biological hunger (i.e. slight grumbling of the stomach) and emotional hunger, or eating ‘just because’.

 

How to make this work for you

Want to give this a try for yourself and see how your body responds? Take a few minutes to map out the timing of your meals. For example: breakfast at 8:00; lunch at 1:00; dinner at 6:00. To help activate a fasting (insulin-deficient) state, make dinner your final eating occasion for the day and allow for a minimum 12-hour fast between dinner and breakfast. For more information on the topic of intermittent fasting, read this post. PS: I highly recommend that you do. 

Of course it matters what you eat– but I don’t want to go too far down that rabbit hole in this post. To learn more about how to form a balanced meal, read this post.

 

Use good old fashioned common sense

So if you’ve been struggling to shed those extra pounds that aren’t serving you, stop blaming yourself for lacking willpower and give this a shot! The beauty of this approach is that it’s based on common sense—something I feel the diet and “snacking” industries have unfortunately tried to rob us of.

Get in the driver’s seat of your body and call the shots…what do you have to lose (other than those stubborn pounds)?

**Want to take a deeper dive into this subject? Check out this episode of the JJ Virgin Lifestyle Show featuring Dr. Fung. 


NOTE: If you are on insulin, diabetes medication, or any other prescription drug, please consult with your healthcare provider before implementing any suggestions in this post.


Mel’s weekly food pick: 
Raw Apple Cider Vinegar

This is a staple everyone should have in their kitchen. I wrote about it well over a year ago, but I think it deserves another mention.

Because it is fermented, raw apple cider vinegar (ACV) is a rich source of enzymes and probiotics. My favorite brand is Bragg Apple Cider Vinegar because it’s organic, raw, unfiltered, and contains “The Mother”—which at first scared the living daylights out of me, until I learned what it was. “The Mother” is a mass of web-like strands of good bacteria floating about in the bottle, which helps promote gut health.

Because it slows the rate that food leaves the stomach, ACV can lower blood sugar when taken before a meal. It can also improve insulin sensitivity. For these reasons, I drink 1-2 tablespoons of Bragg Apple Cider Vinegar diluted in 8 ounces of hot water twice a day—once before breakfast and the other as I’m preparing dinner. It’s definitely an acquired taste, but once you get used to it, it’s actually quite enjoyable! Note: If you decide to sip on ACV as a beverage, ALWAYS dilute it with water. 

Some other notable benefits of raw and unfiltered apple cider vinegar include:

  • Support for a healthy heart
  • Improved cholesterol (decrease in LDL)
  • Reduced blood pressure
  • Strengthened immune system

The easiest way to incorporate raw ACV into your daily meals is to make a dressing out of it and drizzle over a beautiful plate of salad greens! Check out this week’s recipe pick below for Raw Vinaigrette Dressing.

Mel’s weekly recipe pick: 
Raw Vinaigrette Dressing

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Get FREE tips and tiny slices of motivation to help you live a healthier life...without giving up chocolate!

Raw Vinaigrette Dressing

Simple.

Healthy.

Tasty.

Full of healthy fat and powerful blood sugar-lowering ingredients.

Make it once and you’ll never buy another bottle of over-priced salad dressing full of junky ingredients again.

Print Recipe
Raw Vinaigrette Dressing
Salad dressing is one of the easiest things to prepare, yet we still fall into the trap of buying over-priced dressings containing added sugar and inflammatory oils. Make this recipe and you'll never go back to your old ways. I promise! 0 Earthfoods per serving
Prep Time 3 minutes
Servings
servings
Ingredients
  • 1/4 cup raw apple cider vinegar I like Bragg Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil or avocado oil
  • 1 tbsp. raw honey
  • 1 tbsp. Dijon mustard
  • 2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 clove garlic, minced To save time, use bottled minced garlic
  • Sea salt and pepper to taste
Prep Time 3 minutes
Servings
servings
Ingredients
  • 1/4 cup raw apple cider vinegar I like Bragg Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil or avocado oil
  • 1 tbsp. raw honey
  • 1 tbsp. Dijon mustard
  • 2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 clove garlic, minced To save time, use bottled minced garlic
  • Sea salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Add all ingredients to a Mason jar and shake until fully combined. Drizzle over salad greens and enjoy!
Recipe Notes

Nutrition Facts per serving: Calories: 125; Total Fat: 13 g; Saturated Fat: 2 g; Sodium: 60 mg; Potassium: 10 mg; Total Carbohydrate: 3 g; Dietary fiber: 0 g; Net Carbohydrates: 3 grams; Sugar: 3 g (from honey); Protein: 0 g

Share this Recipe

Get FREE tips and tiny slices of motivation to help you live a healthier life...without giving up chocolate!

Trust your body (it knows what it needs)

July 1st, 2019 | no comments

Photo by Liane Metzler on Unsplash

Plus:

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO TODAY’S POST!

Last night Wayne and I enjoyed a beautiful patio dinner in front of a perfect wood-burning fire. We refer to it as our “fun platter dinner”, because it’s full of mostly finger foods– you know, the type you’d find on a charcuterie board at a nice restaurant (to go with your glass of wine). 

Right before bed, I experienced an almost insatiable thirst. Well of course I did; I probably consumed 1000 milligrams of sodium in one sitting…duh! After guzzling a big bottle of water, I began contemplating the very real phenomenon of inner-homeostasis– or our body’s drive towards balance and equilibrium. I came to this conclusion:

Damn is my body brilliant!

And yours is too.

 

Trust your body– it’s smarter than you think!

Have you ever stopped to appreciate the wonder of the human body? It knows exactly what to do to heal itself. Its only role is to keep us protected and alive, at any cost. I mean think about it– imagine if we had to personally instruct our body to heal that cut on our finger. I think we’d all be up the creek without a paddle, and some of us (ahem…ME) would miss a crucial step because we’d be too busy checking Facebook!

Last night, this brilliant body of mine– of which I claim no credit–knew exactly what to do about the excess salt I fed it. Because I disturbed my inner-homeostasis, it responded with a very appropriate: Let’s make her barren desert-thirsty so she’ll drink enough water to restore us back to balance.    

I’m not sure how it knows what to do; it just does! I believe the 13th century Sufi poet Jalaluddin Rumi said it best with this advice: Sell your cleverness and buy bewilderment. 

Your body is an amazing, wondrous, bewildering treasure of light, strength and resiliency. It wants to be well and will do everything in its power to get your attention.

 

Pay attention! Otherwise you’ll miss the warning
  • Thirst.
  • Stress-induced neck pain.
  • High blood sugar following a sleep-deprived night.
  • That subtle layer of extra fat that just “magically” appeared on your abdomen.
  • Elevated triglyceride levels revealed on your recent bloodwork report.
  • The inevitable stroke caused by your pack-a-day habit.  

These are all warning signs that something is disrupting your inner-homeostasis.

So stop with the “whoa is me”, trust your body, and start paying attention! You can fix this. If I may be so bold, you’d better fix it, otherwise your body will cry louder and force you to pay attention.

Can you say D-I-S-E-A-S-E? 

 

First trust your body, then put your $$ where your mouth is

I’m sorry if it seems like I’m being a little harsh, but I hope you understand it’s coming from a place of love and absolute knowing. Knowing that– even if YOU don’t– your body will absolutely support you if you support it.

By all means, read my posts and take it all in.

Then DO something.

Claim ownership of your health and take action.

Listen my sweet friend, I’m not asking you to move mountains here…just little piles of dirt: Make one of my recipes for dinner tonight (try this week’s recipe pick for Avocado Alfredo Pasta); get your ass into bed a half-hour earlier; trade that (may as well be cotton candy-water) sweetened beverage for a glass of lemon water or fruit-infused water; calm your stress with five minutes of quiet meditation.

You get the point! 

 

Trust ME…I speak from experience

Back in 2015, I was told I had pre-diabetes—a diagnosis that literally knocked the wind out of me.

It was my body’s way of getting my attention.

You see, I thought I was doing everything right– I ate healthy food, exercised most days of the week, and my body weight was within a normal range. Well it just so happened that I was eating more carbohydrates than my body could handle. Walking into the kitchen on any given day and mindlessly grabbing a bag of sprouted tortilla chips, was a common ritual for me. I reasoned that “Hey, they are sprouted, whole grain, non-GMO, low sodium, and organic, so I get a free pass to eat as many as I want!” This ended up being half of the bag.

I also came to discover that although I didn’t physically feel it, I was experiencing more stress than I realized, which manifested into elevated blood sugar.

By taking the proper measures to clean up my body and mind, through good nutrition, exercise, rest, supplementation and meditation, I am happy to report that in just six months, I created a healthy environment of normal blood sugar. If you want to read more about my story, click HERE.

Could I have thrown up my hands and jumped on the “it’s genetic” train? Sure. But I didn’t. I trusted, shifted, and my body brought itself back into harmonious balance. 

The bottom line is this

Trust your body, it knows exactly what it needs. Ignore it, and don’t be surprised with what “magically” occurs. 

 

Mel’s weekly food pick: 
Fresh Basil

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

Native to India, Asia and Africa, fresh basil just happens to be my all-time favorite herb. I enjoy this highly fragrant plant most in prepared pesto sauce or Avocado Alfredo Pasta

Benefits:

  • Basil has an impressive amount of vitamin K and is packed with flavonoids–natural plant substances known for their beneficial effects on health. In fact, it’s the flavonoids in basil that protect cell structures and chromosomes from radiation and oxygen-based damage. 
  • Basil also acts as an antibacterial! Its volatile oils protect against unwanted bacterial growth like Listeria monocytogenes, Staphylococcus aureus, and Escherichia coli (E. coli).
  • As an natural anti-inflammatory, basil offers symptomatic relief for conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease. 

Uses:

Fresh basil can be used in so many ways. Here are some of my favorites:

In hot dishes, be sure to add basil near the end of the cooking process to preserve its heavenly flavor.

Storage:

Treat fresh basil like you would fresh flowers. Simply trim the leaves off the bottom of the stems, place in a jar or vase with fresh water and store on your counter. Change the water every two days and wash the leaves right before use. You could also store the leaves by washing gently, patting dry and wrapping in a paper towel. Place in a plastic bag, seal, and store in refrigerator drawer.

Mel’s weekly recipe pick: 
Avocado Alfredo Pasta

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Get FREE tips and tiny slices of motivation to help you live a healthier life...without giving up chocolate!