Sugar Blues and Open Sky Discount

sugar

Sugar is everywhere today.  Not only is it in soda, cake and ice cream but in more unlikely foods such as ketchup, canned food and salad dressings.  Sugar is often disguised in fancy language such as corn syrup, dextrose, fructose or maltose.  Many of us unknowingly consume 30 teaspoons of sugar each day, which is 3 times the USDA recommendation.

It is only natural that we crave sugar.  It is simply the body asking for energy.  When sugar is digested, it turns to glucose which fuels the body’s cells and helps restore energy levels.  But, before you hit the vending machine for an instant energy boost, note that all sweets are not created equal.

Refined sugar creates a roller-coaster effect–imagine a child’s birthday party.  The kids are calm in the beginning, but after cake time everyone is bouncing off the walls.  The sugar from the cake quickly enters the bloodstream and causes the blood sugar level to skyrocket causing excitability, hyperactivity and nervous tension.  Because this sugar is refined and does not have any minerals or vitamins to sustain energy, the hyperactivity will only last for a short period of time before the energy plummets and the kids become cranky and tired.  Ever wonder why these kids birthday parties last only a couple of hours?

Refined sugars not only lead to major mood swings but also take a tool on the body leading to health problems such as diabetes, weight gain and hypoglycemia.  Because the table sugar in your morning donuts is such a severe dose of energy, it causes your body’s glucose levels to spike up and then crash down.  When the body senses a high level of sugar it goes into panic mode and words hard to burn it up as quickly as possible.  In order for the body to absorb sugar properly, it uses its own minerals and enzymes creating a deficiency.  Refined sugars also create more cravings for more high-calorie, sweet foods as your body tries to replace lost nutrients.

For those of you who are sugar addicts, start slowly.  Rather than quitting ‘cold turkey’, try to incorporate sweeter veggies such as carrots and sweet potatoes into your day.  You may still experience energy dips in the early afternoon and then a couple of hours post lunch, however, this is only natural.  By incorporating more foods with naturally occurring sugars, the energy dips will not be as sever as if you were to eat a candy bar.  As you add more veggies, you will eventually crave less sugar and naturally crowd out the sweet snacks.

Sometimes your cravings go beyond hunger or the need for an energy boost.  The desire for something sweet may be the need for other forms of comfort in your life. When do you crave sweets the most? Is it in the late afternoon when you are bored at work or when you are home alone? Along with replacing simple sugars with sweet veggies, whole grains and fruits, try to incorporate more self-care into your life, whether it is though relationships, exercise or hobbies.  You may be surprised to learn that your desire for that bowl of ice cream is not as strong.

Here are a few of my facts and tips to help you navigate through your Sugar Blues:

  • Sugar is addicting; once we start…we cannot stop…we continue to crave sugar and want more and more!
  • Food changes everything; we take it in with our mouths and it becomes us..’you are what you eat’, so when we are eating too much sugar, we are very different than when we are eating leafy greens and good sources of protein
  • Willpower is not the problem, it’s the uncontrollable cravings
  • Sugar is the solution, not the problem
  • Why do we go for sugar? It gives us something-energy, feeling happy, satisfied, etc. and it’s an instantaneous solution to these problems. It will shoot our energy through the roof but we will crash later. So, sugar is our solution in the moment- our body is constantly trying to achieve homeostasis (balance).  We want balance.
  • So, if we wake up tired-we want coffee, donuts or sugar, which spikes us up then we crash
  • If we are eating too many salty foods (yang) such as meaty, salty grounding foods they will make us crave sugar (yin) foods.  For instance, bartenders put out peanuts so that people will continue to drink sweet alcohol.  The same goes for dining out–the food is always heavy on the salt so that we will want to order off the dessert menus.
  • When we are craving sugar we are not hungry, we are usually thirsty.  Most Americans are dehydrated, which causes migraine headaches and exhaustion.
  • When you get a craving; take a deep breath and drink water, look at your watch and wait 20 minutes for the craving to pass.
  • There is ALWAYS something behind your underlying causes of cravings.
  • Could be our lack of primary foods in our lives? By Primary Foods, I am referring to love, friends, relationships, work, spiritual practice, career, exercise, hobbies and anything that is a non-food source that heals your soul.  Are you bored? Are you lonely? Are you running away from something or someone? Many people use food to fill a void that food CANNOT fix. The freezer (ice cream) satisfies that need, but the ice cream does not solve anything, so you are off to find another quick fix.
  • Put a list on your fridge that will list non-food options called a ‘Nourishment Menu’; use this menu to feed your soul.  Work in the garden, call a friend, take a walk, get outside in nature, practice yoga, read a book, make a human connection with friends or family members.   Food cannot help our problems or make us feel as good as these options can.
  • Ask yourself, “Am I getting the nourishment that I want from my life?”  ” Am I looking to food to fill this void in my life?”
  • Sugar is not the problem; it is the solution and our body is always trying to come into balance. When we eat too many meat-based or grounding foods we are going to crave the opposite.
  • If we are dehydrated we will crave sugar.
  • Often times, food is not the issue.  We are looking for connection with spirit in our body.  Take a step back and analyze the situation.  You may be surprised to know that food is not the problem at all.
  • What is one thing that you learned about yourself with your relationships with food?  Be sure to look at everything you do for yourself that truly nourishes you.  True nourishment comes from non-food sources; mindless snacking is something we do to keep us busy.
  • If your sweet tooth is not satisfied with sweet vegetables or fruit, here are some of my favorite ‘Sweet’ Condiments, which are more natural alternatives to sugar.

Be sure to understand and comprehend each bullet point above.  Ask yourself if these scenarios relate to your life.  Do you realize the impact of sugar on your health and well-being?

Eat for quality, not quantity and savor each bite of food.

Open Sky Discount

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Rhubarb and Pear Crumble

Here is a delicious spin on the classic holiday crisp.  I’m making this unique crumble for our family Christmas celebration and I can’t wait for everyone to taste this gluten-free, dairy-free holiday dessert.

Don’t have enough of any one fruit to create a crisp?  Not to worry, simply peel and slice a combination of fresh pears, plums, apricots, nectarines or peaches.  Any combination will create a deliciously sweet crumble for your holiday guests.


Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cup sugar or stevia
  • 3/4 cup GF Flour Mix
  • 2 Tbsp. rice flour
  • 1 tsp. dried orange peel
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 2 cups fresh rhubarb, sliced
  • 2 cups fresh Rome apples, sliced

Topping

  • 3/4 rice flour
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 6 Tbsp. ghee or butter substitute
  • 3/4 cup rice bread crumbs or gluten free cereal
  • Optional: Greek plain yogurt
  • Optional: Agave nectar
  • Optional: Fresh mint leaves

Directions

  • Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Combine sugar or stevia, flours, orange peel, cinnamon and lemon juice in a small dish.  Mix this with the rhubarb slices and place into a shallow Pyrex 9 x 9 baking pan.
  • For the topping, combine flour, sugar and salt.  Cut in the ghee or butter substitute.  Slowly add in bread crumbs.
  • Sprinkle this mixture over rhubarb.
  • Bake for 45-60 min or until lightly brown and cooked.
  • Serve warm with a dollop of Greek plain yogurt, a drizzle of agave nectar and mint leaves.
  • Enjoy!

Happy Holidays from The Healthy Apple!

Gingerbread Cookies

How adorable are these cute little gingerbread men and women? I couldn’t resist…as with every year I have to make my special gingerbread people.  It’s a fun, festive ritual that I take part in and enjoy every second of the process from grading cutting shapes with my cookie cutters to decorating the clothes and features on the gingerbread people.  Here is a wonderfully delicious gingerbread recipe that will surely compliment your gingerbread house this season.

I was so excited to make these gingerbread guys and gals because I used two of my new Open Sky products, my Winco Aluminum Rolling Pin, which was fabulous and created an even and smooth surface for my cookie cutters and my Copper Bowl, which was perfect for mixing my ingredients to create the gingerbread dough.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups whole-wheat flour
  • 1 ½ tsp. baking soda
  • 1 ½ tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. ginger
  • ½ tsp. cloves
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 2 Tbsp. wheat germ
  • ¼ cup ground flax seeds
  • 1 stick butter, unsalted and softened
  • 1 tsp. honey or agave nectar
  • ¼ cup oil
  • 1 cup sugar or stevia
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup molasses
  • 2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat several baking sheets with cooking spray or line with parchment paper.
  • In a large bowl combine whole-wheat flour, all-purpose flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, flax seeds, wheat germ and salt; mix well. Beat butter, honey, oil and sugar in another large bowl with an electric mixer until it forms a creamy texture.
  • Add egg, molasses and balsamic vinegar; beat until combined. Add the dry ingredients and stir to combine.
  • Divide the dough into 4 equal portions, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled, at least 3 hours or overnight.
  • On a floured surface, roll each portion separately to create a 1/4 inch thickness. Cut cookies using cookie festive cutters. Combine scraps and roll dough again to make additional cookies.
  • Place cookies on baking sheets.
  • Bake the cookies, about 10 to 12 minutes or until golden brown.
  • Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
  • Decorate with icing and personalize each gingerbread man and woman.

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Chef Creates Healthy Pizza

Zucchini and Dark Chocolate Banana Bread

I have recently been contacted by Stonyfield to create some tasty recipes using their delicious yogurt.  I am a huge fan of Stonyfield’s Oikos Greek yogurt and my family loves the Stonyfield plain yogurt, as well.  Over the next week, I will be posting 5 of my favorite Stonyfield yogurt recipes…they’re perfect for this holiday season and a sure taste-bud pleaser so be sure to keep checking in over the next two weeks for my tasty and healthy Stonyfield recipes.

Ingredients

  • 2 large eggs
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ cup Stonyfield plain yogurt
  • 1 ½ cup flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon chili powder
  • 2 large ripe bananas, mashed
  • ¼ cup dark chocolate chips
  • 2 large ripe zucchini, shaved

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  • In a large mixing bowl, combine eggs, oil, sugar, vanilla and Stonyfield yogurt; mix well.
  • Slowly add in dry ingredients.  Add zucchini shavings and mashed banana; mix well.
  • Slowly fold in dark chocolate chips; stir until completely mixed.
  • Bake for 45-60 minutes or until golden brown and firm in the center.

Pumpkin Bran Cookies

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Earlier this week I was in the mood for some serious pumpkin…it must be the fall foliage and autumn breeze that spark my yearning for harvest foods.  These are the days when Central Park is remarkably beautiful; the leaves turning beautiful shades of auburn and rust…reminds me of pumpkins and produce-packed cornucopias.  It’s hard to believe Thanksgiving is next month, although we still have time to enjoy these October days I’m eager to whip up new tasty seasonal recipes.  And what better ingredient to use than good ‘ol pumpkin?

For this particular recipe I used canned pumpkin, which can easily be found in your food store.  Be sure not to purchase ‘Pumpkin Pie Mix’ because the can looks quite similar to regular ‘Pumpkin’.  I always reach for Libby’s canned pumpkin as it has a delectable taste and is incredibly delicious eaten directly out of the can (Yes, you caught me…I have been known to scoop a few spoonfuls of Libby’s right into my mouth).  In this case, try not to eat all of the pumpkin as you’ll need 1/3 cup for the recipe.  I do recommend, however, purchasing another can of Libby’s pumpkin as it is incredibly inexpensive and is wonderful when mixed with a dollop of Greek yogurt and cinnamon for a tasty treat.

I have yet to test this recipe with fresh pumpkin, however, I will be experimenting soon and I’ll be sure to fill you in on the recipe.  For this particular case, canned pumpkin is a perfect option for a quick and easy way to create these healthy treats.  When I’m short on time, but desire flavor I reach for canned pumpkin and it always does the trick.

As for the bran crumbs, they can also be found in your food store…just take a peak down the baking aisle and you’ll be amazed to see numerous boxes, all of which are perfect suited for this delectable recipe. Bran crumbs are a fantastic way to enrich your recipes with a hearty crunch and a dose of heart-healthy fiber.

Not only are these cookies incredibly tasty, but they’re chock full of fiber and pack scores of beta carotene, as well.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cups flour
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 cup ground flax seeds
  • 1/3 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1 egg (or egg substitute)
  • 1/2 cup rice milk
  • 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • 2/3 cup butter (or butter substitute), melted
  • 2 cups bran crumbs or (stale bread mashed into crumbs)
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 Tbsp. dried basil

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Sift together dry ingredients in a large bowl.
  • Combine wet ingredients, then add to dry mixture.
  • Slowly add melted butter and bran crumbs; mix well until it forms a cookie dough consistency.
  • Drop teaspoon sized spoonfuls of cookie dough onto ungreased cookie sheets.
  • Bake for 10-12 minutes or until done.

There are ways to enjoy these fiber-ific pumpkin cookies.  Here are some of my favorites:

  • Pumpkin Cookies crumbled and sprinkled atop morning oatmeal, Greek yogurt and fruit parfait, applesauce or whipped banana pudding.
  • Frozen Greek yogurt sandwiched between 2 Pumpkin Cookies, then rolled in chopped nuts to make ‘Flying Saucers’.
  • Add soft baked Pumpkin Cookies (cut into quarters) to your trail mix or popcorn for a harvest taste.

What is your favorite way to enjoy fiber-rich cookies?

Another School Year…Rid The Lunch Box of Refined Sugars

As September rolls on, another school year begins and many parents prepare to send of their children back to school…sadly, we all know the constant struggle with keeping healthy meals and snacks at home and in the lunch box, therefore I have listed a few tips to help keep you and your loved ones away from those scary, hidden refined sugars.

school

As the weather begins to cool off in the Fall season, we start to transition into a lifestyle change where our physical activities and responsibilities become more focused on getting organized and rushing from one school event to another after school activity.  This transition can lead to disordered eating habits and cravings for stressed out parents, teens and children.  When the times get tough…what do we do? Yep, you guessed it–we reach for sweets.

We all love sweet treats.  Sugar is what most people look for to give them a boost of energy.  To put it in it’s simplest terms, let’s define the ‘good sugar’, shall we?  Sugar is a simple carbohydrate that occurs naturally in foods such as beans, veggies, fruits and grains.  These unprocessed sugars contains a variety of vitamins, minerals, enzymes and proteins.

On the other hand are the processed sugars.  Our bodies must deplete its own store of enzymes and minerals to absorb table sugar properly, which creates a deficiency.  These processed sugars quickly enter the bloodstream and wreak havoc on our blood sugar level-first pumping it sky high causing nervous tension and hyperactivity, then crashing extremely low causing depression, exhaustion and fatigue.

Many people do not realize the emotional roller-coaster ride that comes along with downing all that sweet white stuff.  However, we must remember that sugar is not the whole problem.  The problem is the addictive cycle that we have created by eating processed sugar, feeling the rush, then crashing and taking in more sugar to start the crazy cycle again.  Now, if we are eating a balanced, healthy diet that includes veggies and whole grains, we will not need that ‘fake’ energy boost from processed sugar.

Today, many school and office cafeterias are a huge concern; we are bombarded with more processed foods such as Pop Tarts, sugary cereals, candy bars, sodas, donuts, pizza, fries, etc.  These foods are readily available in schools from Kindergarten through College/Grad School and even in many office cafeterias.

When Americans need a mid-afternoon snack, they look for a soda or a candy bar to give them that boost of energy because these foods are readily available.  The main concern here is that these easily accessible foods do not supply us with the sustainable energy or nutrients our bodies and brains need.

Processed foods are high in simple sugars and quite low in minerals.  Over consumption of these refined sweets and added sugars found in vending machine snacks has led to an explosion of Type 2 Diabetes, childhood obesity and hypoglycemia.  Because of the poor state of our children’s health, scientists predict that they are the first generation in American history to live a shorter lifespan than their parents.  Quite a disturbing fact, isn’t it?

When people eat processed, sugar-laden foods such as a Pop Tart for breakfast, pizza for lunch, a candy bar and a soda for a mid-afternoon snack and a burger with fries for dinner, they will suffer from malnutrition.  Studies have shown that when we eat a diet rich in whole foods, we experience less brain fog, miss fewer days of school/work, have higher school test scores and are good problem solvers because we are getting the nutrients to fuel our brains.

Nutrition and food can be confusing, however, you can start by slowly transitioning your eating to incorporating more veggies, fruits and whole grains into your meals.  Eating natural foods may taste bland when people are accustomed to artificial flavors, however, by simply adding herbs, spices and healthy condiments you can jazz up any dish.  Be sure to take a look at my Condiment Page.

Get your kids and husband involved in the food shopping experience by having them select whole foods for their lunches and snacks.  Take a family trip to the farmers market and purchase a new fruit, grain or vegetable each week.

With each meal, add a few greens or introduce a new fruit to their dessert plate.  It takes most people, both kids and adults, 3 times of trying a new food before they truly begin to enjoy it.

We all form our habits at a young age, therefore if we want to see a healthier future, we must start today by incorporating a healthy lifestyle and eating style in our daily lives.