Tahini-Lime Dressing

10.5.2017 | 14:55

Artisana, Raw Tahini, Sesame Seed Butter, 14 oz (397 g)

With warmer temperatures, it’s easy to get motivated for salads in any form.

Leafy greens.  Sprouts and microgreens.  Tomatoes, cukes, peppers.

Pasta.  Potatoes.

Whatever works for you.

But what to use to hold it together?

One of my favorites is tahini.  It’s got a creamy texture which goes well with lemon or lime juice, plus a little vinegar.  Salt, pepper or any other seasonings to taste and then water to whatever consistency you prefer.

This is one of those mixtures that came about after a trip to a new grocery store, which carries Artisana’s brand of raw tahini.  The limes had looked good in the produce section — yes, tahini is usually paired with lemon, and when I see some good-looking ones, I’ll get them for the next batch.

Vinegar was sitting quietly in the pantry and the pink salt minding its business on the kitchen counter.

Plenty of leafy greens in the fridge and a pot of cooked bean pasta cooling off.  This pasta happened to be lentils, but could just have easily been brown rice.

Toss in a couple of crunchy add-ons and you’ve got a nice salad for a warm evening.

Ingredients

(makes enough for four servings)

2 Tbsp tahini

2 Tbsp apple-cider vinegar

Juice of one lime (or lemon)

2 pinches of Himalayan pink salt or Celtic sea salt

Water to desired consistency

Directions

Measure all ingredients into a bowl and stir until smooth.  May be refrigerated if not serving immediately.  Pour over salad fixin’s of choice.

 

Salad variations:

1 head of romaine or other lettuce or 1 bunch of steamed kale

8 oz. of pasta, cooked

1/2 cup roasted pumpkin or other seeds

2 Tbsp broad bean snacks

 

Or steam potatoes and mix well with dressing.  Add onions or other ingredients as desired.

To spice up the dressing, add a little jalapeno or cayenne!

Salmon Kale Pasta Salad

12.4.2017 | 13:38

Yes, it’s been a while since I posted a new recipe here!

Oh, I’ve been trying some things out in the kitchen over the past couple of months, but it’s been a little challenging to get something on the website.  Hopefully that will change in the coming weeks….

This recipe is one of those that just sort of happens.

Diane gets an idea, or I check the pantry and refrigerator to see what’s on hand and then ponder what I can do with which items.

This one came as a result of winter weather morphing into spring-like.  Okay, we were teased in February with milder temperatures and then winter returned in March, but we’re definitely in springtime now.  I’ve seen the dogwoods and azaleas in bloom to prove it!

Diane isn’t a big fan of tomatoes, so we don’t do a lot of pasta with tomato sauce.  But, we’d used kale as a pesto base a few years ago, and I thought I’d just try steaming some kale, adding the pasta and a few other things, and see what happened.

What happened was a new favorite dish!  One that’s perfect for warmer weather and can even be prepared, placed in the fridge for a while, and served chilled on really HOT days.  Does it get any better than that?

Plus, it’s versatile — any kind of canned or leftover fish will work.  Or shrimp, if that’s your preference.  Pasta can be of any variety, made from grain, bean or lentils.  So far, I’ve only used the curly green kale, but you can experiment with other leafy greens.

Ingredients

1 can sockeye salmon, drained

4 oz. pasta of choice, cooked (I’ve been using brown rice)

1 bunch of curly green kale, steamed

2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

1/4 tsp sea salt

1/4-1/2 tsp garlic powder (or 1-2 cloves fresh) or to taste

1 tsp dried basil

1 tsp dried oregano

Directions

Steam kale for approximately 15-20 minutes, or to desired softness, and cook the pasta according to package directions.  Combine remaining ingredients in a large bowl.

Drain pasta, then add pasta and kale to the bowl and mix thoroughly.  Serve warm or cool.

Add any salad favorites (like tomatoes) and some seed- or nut-based crackers.

Excellent with a glass of Kevita!

Superfood Elixir

7.1.2017 | 11:03

This is another one of those recipes that just “happens.”  And with incredibly great timing, given that most of the United States is experiencing some very COLD temperatures!

It’s what I like to think of as a super-powered beverage, with protein powder giving it an added punch.  With a little bit of healthy fat, it’s just about a meal by itself.  A little 70% (or higher) chocolate, and voila!

TIP:  Equal Exchange has some great chocolate options.

Plus, thanks to an electric kettle, it doesn’t take that long to heat the water.

Hmm, sounds almost too good to be true, yeah?

Super easy and super tasty.

Superfood Elixir

1855495

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ingredients

2 1/2 cups HOT water (boiling or not)

1 packet of flavored protein powder — so far, chocolate, vanilla and coffee have worked superbly

1 tsp maca powder

1/2 tsp mesquite powder (optional)

1 tsp chaga powder

1-2 Tbsp cacao powder

2 Tbsp coconut oil

Stevia (optional – I find the protein powder is sweet enough)

Directions

Heat water.  Add everything to a high-speed blender and blend on high for about 15-20 seconds.

Pour and savor on a cold day, while you watch the snow fall or the birds come to the feeders….

Easier Than Pie Pumpkin Oatmeal Bake

27.11.2016 | 16:28

Ever wonder where that phrase “easy as pie” came from?  I did.  Having made a few pies in my time, and those were  never with a crust from scratch, it’s still not easy.  So, I went looking, and here’s what I found at thefreedictionary.com:

easy as pie

Also, easy as falling or rolling off a log . Capable of being accomplished with no difficulty, as in This crossword puzzle is easy as pie. The first term presumably alludes to consuming pie (since making pie requires both effort and expertise). The variants most likely allude to standing on a log that is moving downstream, a feat in which falling off is a lot easier than remaining upright. Mark Twain had it in A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court (1889): “I could do it as easy as rolling off a log.” The first colloquial term dates from the early 1900s, the colloquial variants from the 1830s. For a synonym, see piece of cake.
So, I get it now — it’s not the making, it’s the eating.
Well, here’s a recipe that’s a lot easier than pie to make, but for the holidays, it’s got pumpkin.  Plus it gives you an excuse to turn on the oven in cold weather.
And it works as either breakfast or dessert!
It’s also featured in the recipe collection for our Gluten-Free Easy As 1-2-3 online course.

Easier Than Pie Pumpkin Oatmeal Bake

pumpkin-oatmeal-bake

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ingredients:

3 cups of gluten-free rolled oats

½ – 1 tsp stevia or 2-4 Tbsp honey (to taste)

½ tsp salt

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp cinnamon

½ cup raisins, cranberries or currants

½ cup pumpkin puree

1 cup coconut milk

¼ cup coconut oil, melted

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375° F.  Combine all dry ingredients except fruit in a medium-sized mixing bowl and stir until well blended.  Add wet ingredients and mix thoroughly.  Add dried fruit and stir until combined.

Spoon into a baking dish and bake uncovered for 25-30 minutes, or until the edges start to brown.  Allow to cool.

May be enjoyed warm or cool.

The Gift of Good Friends

14.11.2016 | 23:39

I’ve talked before about attending live events, networking and belonging to small Mastermind groups.

The importance of all of these has been made quite clear to Debra and me this past year.

When we were putting together our gluten program – Gluten-Free … Easy as 1, 2, 3 – earlier this year, we knew we wanted to include some expert interviews.  And we had some particular experts in mind….

If you still don’t believe how important the idea of a solid network is, let me tell you – it matters.

Can you imagine how good it feels to be able to present a slate of experts to your clients, and know that they really are experts?

1952224

Debra and I have been so thrilled to be able to introduce some amazing people to those who signed up for this first live version of the program, and those who decide to take it as a self-study course starting in early 2017.

And all of these people are our dear friends and colleagues, with whom we’ve worked together in professional groups for some time now.

I met Brad and Bree Rudner at an event two years ago, and knew I wanted their perspective on dealing with food allergies and autoimmune conditions as a family.  Their modified version of the Paleo diet works for them and their two daughters, and Bree’s recipes are amazing.  (And easily adaptable, if there’s an ingredient or two you can’t include.)

I met Steph Jackson at a different event, about a year and a half ago, and Debra met her about six months later.  I’ve been working with Steph personally for the past year, and I’m also taking her practitioner program – she knows more about probiotics and the microbiome than anyone I know….

1244124

I’ve been writing articles and contributing recipes to Bernadine Otto’s online magazine “Live, Love and Eat” – now featured on Amazon, and looking lovely on my Kindle Fire – since she started it up several months ago.  But she also teaches the Emotional Freedom Technique, commonly referred to as “tapping.”  Tapping is a wonderful way to deal with food cravings – perfect for a program helping people to give up some very addictive comfort foods….

I only got to meet Andrea Caprio recently, but I’ve been interacting with her online for quite some time.  As a matter of fact, it was Andrea who was crucial to putting our little Mastermind group together.  She specializes in Adrenal Fatigue and helping over-stressed executives, but she’s had her fair share of experience dealing with gluten and its problems.

And Catarina Catarino, whom I’ve not yet met in person, is someone whose blog articles I’ve been reading for quite some time.  And knowing that she’s certified in Eating Psychology … we had to include her voice.  Again – guiding people away from those addictive comfort foods….

All of these people are part of my network, and when Debra and I started thinking about what sort of “extras” we wanted to include in our program, they were among the first names that sprang to mind.  Each one of them adds something special to the course, even though not one of them specializes in the subject of gluten per se.

They’ve been supportive of our work from the beginning, sharing our blog posts and recipes, or asking one or both of us to be part of their projects.

1806940

Some of them even offered to help us promote the program before they even knew what would be included in it!!  They believed in our knowledge and skills that much….

All of them stepped up right away, asking how they could contribute.

I know it’s a bit early for Thanksgiving, but I am so thankful for having these amazing people in my life.

I can promise you that our program wouldn’t be nearly as rich without their contributions.  It would still be a damn good program, mind you – we’ve put a lot of work, and several years of experience, into it – but it wouldn’t be the same.

So I just wanted to take some time out to share my gratitude for the gift of such very good friends.

Because I can’t just call them “colleagues” any more – they are so much more than that.

I’ve contributed to some of their programs, I’ve taken some of their courses, and I’ve shared personal and professional successes and challenges with them.

And they’ve been there for me.

And if that isn’t the best gift a person could receive, I don’t know what is.

I will have so much to give thanks for this year, and these phenomenal folks are at the top of the list….

1617348

Rest & Reset

5.11.2016 | 20:53

Things have been a little … crazy lately.

Maybe it’s just the start of the holiday season.  (When did that happen???)

1478075

Or maybe it’s one of the wackiest election cycles in recent memory….

All I know is that it seems as though everyone I know is busy.

“Crazy-busy,” even.

Debra and I attended two weekend events within the space of a month or so.

Both events were great, but oh boy – we were in the midst of launching, creating and sharing our first online program.

Ah, the Divine timing of the Universe….

It’s certainly been a grand and exciting ride – we learned a lot at both events, and made many connections, some with old friends and some with new ones.

There has been a lot going on.

It’s been great, but I won’t lie – I’m a little bit tired, and I needed to take a few days off when we got back from the more recent trip.

Maybe that was because I was working pretty much non-stop the previous couple of weeks – making sure the modules for our program would be ready on time, catching up on my major online course, keeping up with the smaller ones….

Well, okay, maybe “keeping up” is a bit of a stretch, since I fell a bit behind while on the road.

But that’s all right.

I’ve learned a lot since last year, when I put ridiculous expectations on myself and had something of a meltdown. You can find that post here.

Now that’s an understatement….

I’m happy to say:  no meltdown this time.

Woman at Home Reading Book

And taking those few days to rest and reset – the only commitment I needed/wanted to honor was my biweekly meeting with one of my small mastermind groups (well worth attending, believe me) – has made a world of difference.

Here I am, back at the keyboard, writing blog posts and other articles….

Getting ready to record the audio for our next module….

Completing my journaling assignment for an online course that will finish up in another week….

Feeling grateful for all of the wonderful opportunities for growth that the Universe has been sending my way….

The reason I wanted to share all of this is because R&R is something we all tend to let fall by the wayside.

We’re all so busy, and we tend to make more commitments than we can handle sometimes.

It’s as though we know that “No” is a complete sentence, but we feel so guilty when we refuse something we really want to do so we can take the time for something we really need to do.

For instance, one of my more absolute boundaries is around sleep.

1685181

Sure, I don’t always get enough – intentionally or otherwise – but I make an effort to maximize my sleep as regularly as possible.  I’ll make exceptions, but it has to be for something extremely important to me.

At our recent event, I passed on the evening sessions and on the early morning qigong – not because I wasn’t interested, but because I wasn’t sleeping well in the hotel and needed some downtime.

A friend asked where I had been, and when I told her, her response was “Oh.  Good for you for focusing on your self-care.”

We all need to do more of that – how often do we make plans with friends because we don’t want to disappoint them, even though we’re desperate for some quiet time alone?

I’ve learned to say “No” more often.

1505088

And there’s a really good reason for that:

By saying “No” to the things that aren’t really serving me and my needs, I’m able to say “Yes!” to the things that really, truly matter most to me.

This is a very important re-frame, because it helps us realize that we’re not just being party-poopers or buzzkills.

There’s a reason for it.

One of the things that stuck in my head when I read all of the Sherlock Holmes stories years ago was the idea of a “brain attic.”

There’s only so much room in our busy brains, and if we keep filling them up with unimportant junk, the important stuff that we really want to retain will slowly leak out….

It’s not just information, knowledge, facts and figures, though, right?

Sometimes our emotional brains just get too overloaded with baggage and stuff, don’t they?

And sometimes we need to take a day or two … or three … and process all of that “stuff.”

Kind of a “reboot,” if you like.  A rest & reset….

I am so grateful that I took the time to do that this week – it helped me be far more ready to tackle the upcoming workload, call schedule, etc.

I have a lot I want to accomplish, not just this week but in the weeks to come.

And let’s face it:  Ready or not, the holidays are here.

1896765

“Winter is coming,” indeed….

Account(Ability)s Payable

16.10.2016 | 20:14

Now that Debra’s and my gluten program is well under way – and many thanks to those of you who signed up; we are so excited to have this opportunity to provide you with the most useful tools available for navigating the maze of a gluten-free lifestyle – I’m taking a break to talk about something else.

One of my favorite subjects, actually….

Networking and accountability!!

These two components – which kind of go hand-in-hand, I think (at least for me!) – have been the absolute game-changers in how I look at starting and running a business in the online health and wellness space.

img_2783

It was an absolute thrill for me to spend some time in beautiful Los Angeles, California, recently.

(Especially since the event I attended was in a hotel near the airport, with shuttle service to and fro – i.e., no driving!!  Although Uber was very helpful for a trip to a nearby Whole Foods the afternoon before our trip home – had to pick up some more travel stash for our non-stop flight….)

Anyway….

Compared to two years ago – when I attended ITN Live! as a brand-spankin’-new student – this time it was first-class all the way.  (At the event, not on the airplanes.  Still flying coach for the time being.)

Not only did I sign up as an “Early Bird” and a VIP, but I’m also on the Student Advisory Board of the Institute for Transformational Nutrition.

I had one of the best (front-row) seats in the house, where I got to spend time with some of the dear friends and colleagues I’ve made in the online forum.

I’m in a mini-Mastermind group with one of them.  (Andrea Caprio)

img_2252I’ve done a podcast interview with another.  (Trent Childers)

This was my first time meeting some of these folks – and it felt like I was hanging out with old friends.

 

 

 

And yes, I even got my booty on the dance floor at Saturday night’s Gala dinner….

img_3328

We even had the opportunity to choose an “accountability buddy” or two – and make commitments to each other.

My little trio – Andrea Caprio, Maria Mizzi and myself – committed to one action to take before the end of the month.

The amazing thing is that each of us has already either met our goals, or is well along the way….

(Of course, I had another incentive – I had already made my commitment to Cynthia Pasquella herself!  So I had to step up!!)

I couldn’t disappoint my Khaleesi, after all….

[video_player type=”youtube” width=”560″ height=”315″ align=”center” margin_top=”0″ margin_bottom=”20″]aHR0cHM6Ly93d3cueW91dHViZS5jb20vd2F0Y2g/dj1pR3BfTjNJcjdEbw==[/video_player]

(Yes, apparently there are quite a few fans of HBO’s “Game of Thrones” series in the ITN community.  I will never be able to look at – or read about – Theon Greyjoy in the same way again….)

Seriously, though, I got to reconnect with a few people I met a couple of years ago, and make many, many new friends.

Although so many of them felt like family, after so many months of online interaction.

img_2873

Someone once asked me why I go to live events – traveling can be difficult and time-consuming sometimes, especially when you have dietary restrictions – when “you can learn everything you need online these days.”

Well, yes … maybe … really?

I don’t think so.

You can learn a lot online – I’ve taken (or am currently taking) a wide variety of courses, all of which offer great value for the money.

But no matter how amazing the material, or how active the online forum, nothing comes close to making those one-on-one, face-to-face connections.

Skype and Zoom are great – I wouldn’t trade either of them for anything – but getting to give Bernadine Otto (creator of the amazing online magazine “Live, Love and Eat” – to which I’ve been a regular contributor since the very first issue!) a long-lost sister (think “The Color Purple”), death-grip hug during early registration … that’s just not something you can recreate online!!

And making a commitment to someone, while you’re looking them in the eye … that’s not a promise that’s easy to back out of, is it?

These are your friends, your peers, your colleagues – you want to support them, and you don’t want to let them down.

Another thing about live events is that you often connect with people in unexpected ways – chatting at a networking breakfast, lunch or dinner and finding a way to work together than hadn’t occurred to you before.

img_2810

During one of our VIP “networking” lunches, one of my neighbors mentioned a subject about which I know nothing – but it sounded fascinating … so I asked her if she’d consider writing a guest blog article about it for our website.

All of these ways of interacting – whether planned or spontaneous – can lead to connections that help all of us in the end.

We learn how to collaborate, instead of compete.

And all of us have different skills to bring to the table.  Sure, I’ve got writing and editing experience from my “Diana Bastine” days, but I’m not at all tech-savvy.

Debra and I had already reached out to our friends and colleagues for bonus interviews, recipes, etc. for our gluten program.

I can’t tell you how valuable and treasured these connections are to me – I intend to step up and support them in the same way they’ve come through for us.

Because I know these people – I’ve met many of them … at live events.

img_3315

And no, that’s not something you’re going to get online.  You can connect, and I won’t disparage the importance of nurturing those “virtual” friendships, but there is a whole different level of energy at live events.

We celebrate our successes, we support each other during the hard times – we’re just literally “there” for one another.

And where else can you “geek-bond” over “Game of Thrones” outside of fantasy and science-fiction conventions???  I mean, c’mon … work with me here….

Maybe I’ll see you at the next event … and share the “Neon Blacklight” in-joke.  For now, I guess you, um, “just had to be there.”

(All photos courtesy Noam Nizzani Photography)

Gluten, Gluten, Go Away …

8.10.2016 | 00:52

Bread slices and text Gluten Free on wooden board

I’ve been getting really tired of talking about gluten.

We recently presented a couple of webinars, where we discussed the three most common mistakes people make when trying to adopt a gluten-free diet.  [ed.: You can access the recording here.]

We’ve got a program to help people find their way through the maze of gluten-free products available – and make “going gluten-free” as quick and easy as we know how.

(We took the long route to get here.  You don’t have to.  We’re sharing everything we’ve learned along the way.)

Back in the day, before I knew better, gluten was making me sick.

Now I’m just getting sick of gluten.

Gluten, gluten, everywhere….  (With apologies to the brilliant poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge.)

And yet….

I just started Dr. Tom O’Bryan’s new book, The Autoimmune Fix.

Gluten free food concepts word cloud illustration. Word collage concept.

And I’m learning things about gluten that even I didn’t know – and I’m one of Dr. Tom’s Certified Gluten Practitioners.

It’s not because he was holding back on us either.

It’s because new studies are coming out all the time.

In fact, some of the potential connections being tossed around haven’t even been fully studied yet….

Wow.

I mean, wow.

I don’t want to freak anyone out, but this autoimmune issue – and its connection to gluten, in particular – is getting more urgent by the day!

Let me put it to you this way:

I look at the symptoms I’ve been dealing with for the past year and a half – and I’ve been gluten-free for years, mind you!! – and I start to wonder….

Wonder if there’s a hidden source of gluten I’ve missed – in my diet or elsewhere.  (Personal care products?  Supplements?  “Naturally” gluten-free products, such as quinoa or other grains?)

Wonder if I’m hyper-sensitive to one or more of the foods that cross-react with gluten.  (Create the same symptoms because they’re triggering the same antibodies.)

Each and every one of us is going to have different “triggers.”

This is what makes it so difficult – and what makes that concept of “bio-individuality” so important.

I know – there’s that “b” word again….

But this is why listening to your own body is so important.

It’s why we can’t go around offering guarantees.

Because everyone is different.

The only guarantee we can really make is that we’ll give you our best effort, using the best information we have available to us.

But honestly, we can’t listen to your body for you.

We can’t feel what you’re feeling when you eat (or drink) something that you’re sensitive to.  Or when you’re exposed to a toxin that might affect you, but not the person sitting next to you.

Do you see how this works?

We have to work together, and we have to pay attention to the feedback our bodies are giving us.

It’s not our fault that we sometimes miss some of the pieces, whether we’re patient or practitioner, client or coach.

Gluten free letters. Concept photo of healthy food lifestyle.

Because not all of the pieces have been discovered yet.

If you have Celiac Disease, you’ve got the pieces – you’ve got the genetic markers, you know the trigger (the gluten contained in wheat, barley and/or rye) and you’ve got the “leaky gut” (intestinal permeability).

But if you don’t have CD, if you’re just sensitive to gluten – or one of the other problematic components of wheat – you may not have all of those pieces yet.

Like I said, I’ve only started Dr. Tom’s book.

But even just one chapter in, I can highly recommend it if you want to get a better understanding of autoimmunity and gluten’s (or wheat’s) role in it.

I’ve heard Dr. Tom O’Bryan speak many, many times.

I’ve even met him a couple of times.

(He’s a very smart, very nice man.  Really.)

But I’m still learning new information from this book.

And I’ve only just started it….

If you want to join us for our “Gluten-Free:  Easy as 1, 2, 3” program, we’d be thrilled to have you.

But if you don’t, please educate yourself in some other way.

The subject of gluten may be fodder for late-night TV skits, or allegedly funny “satire,” but it’s not a joke.

Gluten – even wheat itself – is causing a wide variety of health problems in a huge percentage of the population.

If you do nothing else, at least read The Autoimmune Fix.

1672480

(The Kindle version is very inexpensive, or you can even ask your local public library to order a copy.  They’re quite good about ordering books requested by their patrons.)

As much as we all might wish otherwise, I don’t think this topic is going away any time soon.

Not unless the human digestive system acquires the capacity to digest the indigestible overnight.

(That would equate to tens of thousands of years in geological time, of course.)

Oscar Wilde defined hunting as “The unspeakable in pursuit of the inedible.”

Kind of makes me wonder how he would have defined wheat and gluten….

Harissa Tahini Salad Dressing

1.10.2016 | 14:36

iphone-24sep2016-004

Sometimes, recipes just invent themselves.  This one is a super-easy example.

Diane and I needed to do a little shopping a couple of weeks ago.  Now, we’re not big shoppers pretty much most of the time.  This particular day, we had of number of stores to visit, all in the same area.  In fact, we were so successful at World Market that we didn’t have to venture across the road to a large (and this being a Saturday) and potentially very crowded mall!

It was in World Market that we happened on some harissa sauce.  To backtrack for a second, one of our favorite local restaurants is called the Mediterranean Deli.  Great food, with a large variety of vegetarian and meat dishes, gluten-free pita, and several varieties of hummus — our favorite variety of the last is, you guessed it, harissa.

Harissa’s color is naturally a beautiful bright red color, due to its main ingredient being red peppers, and it adds a nice spicy kick to whatever you add it to.

So, we picked up a jar of the harissa and some tahini, which World Market happened to have conveniently on a nearby.  I wasn’t sure exactly what I was going to do with them, but I knew I was doing something.  I can’t remember if I’d decided on dressing before we got home that day or after, but it doesn’t matter.  I tried it out that evening, and we’ve been enjoying it pretty routinely ever since.

In fact, I now need to pick up another jar of tahini, because I’ve still got plenty of harissa on hand….

Harissa Tahini Salad Dressing

iphone-24sep2016-002

Ingredients

(enough for 2 large salads or 4 side salads)

2 Tbsp tahini

2 tsp harissa sauce

juice of 1 small or 1/2 large lemon

water to make desired consistency — typically I use 2-3 teaspoonfuls

Directions

Measure out all ingredients into a small bowl.  Stir until smooth.  Pour on salad.

Yes, it’s that simple.  Here’s the video clip showing me making it.

[video_player type=”youtube” width=”560″ height=”315″ align=”center” margin_top=”0″ margin_bottom=”20″]aHR0cHM6Ly95b3V0dS5iZS9LMXBWaE1yQW93WQ==[/video_player]

Harmful Health Halos

24.9.2016 | 19:55

Food diet icon collection set, human health care diets such as gluten free, sugar free, nut free, GMO free, egg free, dairy free, nitrates free, trans fats free, cholesterol free.

You know about the “health halo” thing, right?

(Yes, it’s a thing.  And not a good thing, at least not in my opinion….)

Health halos come in many different forms – low-sodium, “heart-healthy,” gluten-free, no artificial colors or flavors….

Here’s the thing:  Removing one potentially harmful ingredient does not turn junk into a health food.

The Halloween candy being sold at Whole Foods or your local organic co-op is still candy.

Just because the added colors come from beet juice or turmeric, and they’re “fruit-juice sweetened,” does not mean that those lollipops aren’t still sugar bombs….

Fruit is healthy for most people because the hit of fructose is coupled with fiber – all that sugar doesn’t hit your system at one time.

Fruit juice is made by removing that fiber, so you lose that slowing down effect – and just get the sugar hit.

One thing I learned from a marvelous – and marvelously entertaining – book called The Dorito Effect, by Mark Schatzker, is that there is very little distinction between “natural” and “artificial” flavors.

The food scientists find the obsession with “natural flavors” most amusing – because they’re still being synthesized in a laboratory somewhere.  They just start with a “natural” source.

The term “spices” on a label almost seems pretty innocuous, right?

Well, guess what?

“Spices” can translate into “mostly MSG.”

That’s right – if the amount of MSG is below a specified limit, it doesn’t need to be called MSG on the label.

Low fat zone text concept isolated over white background

And then there are all of the current buzzwords:  low-sodium, low-fat, fat-free, sugar-free, gluten-free….

I won’t go into the nuances of specific labels – that information is available elsewhere – but there are so many variations … to be called “low-sodium,” a product has to meet a specific percentage of sodium.  “Reduced sodium” is not the same as “low-sodium.”

“Reduced fat” is not the same as “low-fat.”

All of these labels have very specific definitions, depending on the percentage of the offending ingredient.  It can be crazy-making….

When it comes to the business of processed foods, there is a very careful formula for making foods taste perfect to the standard palate.

If you tamper with one of the big three – fat, sugar or salt – you’ve got to make up the difference, right?

Or it’s not going to taste good.

And if it doesn’t taste good, you lose market share.

Hand writing Low Sodium with marker, health concept background

You may have noticed that the food industry is very competitive.

Removing the fat from a processed food removes a lot of what makes it satisfying to the consumer – so the fat is often replaced by increased amounts of sugar.

Removing the salt … well, if you’ve ever had a canned tomato soup or bottled tomato juice with “no salt added” on the label, you know how good that tastes….

And then there are the sugar-free products – filled with even less-healthy artificial sweeteners, most of the time.

It’s a toss-up, really – we all know how bad sugar is for us, but artificial sweeteners may cause even more harm.

So “sugar-free” on a label does not necessarily mean it’s a chocolate bar you want to be eating….

And the replacements for gluten in a product can be just as bad as the sugar substitutes – although many of them are as high on the Glycemic Index as … well, sugar!!

a sugar free word with background - still life

I don’t care about whether a food manufacturer wants to put “low-sodium” or “fat-free” on their product label.

What I do care about is the aura that can give to a food – the “health halo” that leads the average consumer to think it’s a healthier product.

Many people really believe that “heart-healthy” on a label means that a processed food will be good for them to eat if they’re struggling with heart disease.

Maybe….

But maybe not.

“Gluten-free” is only one of the latest and most common health halos in the processed food industry.  It’s a niche market that has grown exponentially over the past several years.

But the problem is that these foods aren’t necessarily healthy for you.

If you’re extremely sensitive to gluten, obviously they’ll be much easier for you to digest.

But that doesn’t mean they’re foods you should be eating.

Let’s face it; we all know we should try to eat mostly fresh, whole foods – the ones that don’t have labels in the first place.

It’s hard for a bunch of collard greens or a Granny Smith apple to have a health halo – they’re just wholesome, healthy foods (for most people).

But sometimes we have to navigate the labels.

Here’s a helpful hint:

Don’t pay attention to those bright, cheerful flags on the front of the box, the ones with large fonts that are easy to see, proclaiming “sugar-free” or “reduced sodium.”

Read the ingredient list, and check the nutrition facts – yes, those are the bits in the very small print, and they provide the most important information on the package.

Angel & Devil Concept - Vector File EPS10

Don’t be fooled by the angelic halo on a product that’s playing the very devil with your health….