Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Grain Free Gourmet

I don't believe there is a single perfect diet that will yield optimal health and results for everyone. We are each genetically, psychologically and biologically unique. What works for me may not work or be best for you, and what works for you may not work for your husband. However, one element of the Standard American Diet (SAD) that has been proven time and again to be very bad for all of us is the over consumption of sugar. Whether its cheerios, coffee creamer, baking flour, bread crumbs, pasta, potatoes or icing on the cake - it is all converted to sugar in our bodies, resulting in sugar overload of epic proportions. 

Sugar and grain consumption has increased drastically over the last 40-50 years. And as this study by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition shows, while consumption has climbed, the nutritional quality, most notably the amount of fiber, has severely decreased. What this means is
we are eating more and more crappy carbs.  As a result, along with consumption,  obesity and diabetes rates have risen as well. According to the CDC, 26 million Americans have diabetes, a number that is nearly double that of just 20-25 years ago. One third of American adults are obese and another 17% of adolescents (age 2-19) are obese, and these numbers continue to climb. 

A less discussed effect of excess refined carbohydrate consumption is insulin resistance. Insulin resistance occurs when the natural amount of insulin produced your body isn't able to handle the sugar load. When you eat sugars, again whether that is potatoes pasta or pudding, your blood sugar rises and the pancreas produces insulin to move the sugar to the cells tissues and muscles that need it for fuel. The more processed the carbohydrate, the quicker the conversion to sugar and the quicker and more severe the spike in blood sugar. When your body is consistently overloaded with sugars, it causes confusion with the insulin signals and they start doing a crappy job. As a result, your pancreas has to produce extra insulin to handle the sugar load and get the job done. In the meantime though, excess sugar remains in the blood where it travels to your liver and is turned into and stored as fat. This results in a fatty liver and excess body fat, especially in the belly region. And ultimately it throws the whole body out of whack. If this goes on for too long the pancreas eventually gives up and you end up with diabetes. 

Lesson Here: Consume Your Carbs Through Fruits, Vegetables and Whole, Fiber-Rich Grains. Avoid Processed Carbohydrates.

I have learned that my body is sensitive to spikes in blood sugar. I take steps daily to regulate my stress and cortisol levels as well as blood sugar spikes. By doing so, I have experienced a dramatic change in my belly region, my most difficult area to shed fat. (If you struggle with some extra belly fat, you may want to try some breathing exercises, yoga and basic thoughtful blood sugar control. If you have questions about this, feel free to message me, we can discuss further.) Don't get me wrong I enjoy my dark chocolate and love fruits, but I consume them more thoughtfully than I used to. I try to pair my sweets with fats and/or protein to even out the effect on blood sugar. This way I don't send my blood sugar skyrocketing only to crash shortly, leaving me hungry again. I also tweak my favorite recipes to include zero refined carbohydrates and if I don't really need any more grains in my day, I make them entirely grain free. Like last night! 

If you follow along on my Facebook Page you got a sneak peak at dinner last night. I made some Grain-Free Salmon Zucchini Cakes over steamed spinach with a small cucumber salad on the side. For dessert I baked  two varieties of a basic almond butter and coconut flour cookie - dark chocolate chunk & dark chocolate walnut. I'm not a huge cookie person. Usually I crave some warm applesauce or dark chocolate mousse. BUT as Lietenant Roberts's return is just a week away (YAY!!!!) I wanted to play around with some dessert recipes to help him with his transition to an organic lifestyle (read more on LT Jon Roberts mission to adopt an organic lifestyle here). I have to admit, loved everything about my meal last night and didn't feel the least bit guilty for indulging in one of EACH type of cookie! I had to make sure they weren't poisonous :). I couldn't wait to share the recipes with you guys so you can try them out for yourself! Let me know what you think!

Grain-Free Zucchini Salmon Cakes

Here's what I love about this recipe: It is insanely easy and quick to make and it tastes incredible (especially with a little lime juice). It's completely grain-free, packed with protein, omega-3's, and healthy fats. And what I did here to get more bang and "veg" for my buck, is I gave it a zucchini-pancake-twist. You could easily make these without the zucchini, but while zucchinis are in season this is a great way to add an extra serving of veggie to your meal, increase nutrient content and also spread the can of salmon to feed more mouths or to use for meals the rest of the week. You can't lose with these, guys!

  • 6 oz. BPA-Free can Wild Salmon (this is the one I used)
  • Half of a Medium Organic Zucchini, grated (I used my cheese grater)
  • 1 Large Pastured Egg
  • 1 Tablespoon Coconut Flour
  • 1 Tablespoon Flaxseed
  • 1/4-1/2 Tablespoon Organic EVOO
  • 1 Tablespoon Organic Dijon Mustard
  • 2 Tablespoons finely chopped Organic Onion
  • 2 Tablespoons finely chopped Parsley
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Dash of Organic Chili Powder

Heat your organic oil of choice in a pan over medium heat. Mix all ingredients together in a bowl. Once the oil is hot, using a spoon or your hands (I just use my hands) form palm sized patties and add to the pan. Depending on your stove and cookware they could need anywhere from 4-6 minutes per side. Once golden brown on each side, remove from pan. Serve hot or cold - both are delicious. I served mine over a bed of steamed organic baby spinach and squeezed some lime juice over top. Voila!

Grain-Free Almond Butter & Coconut Flour Cookies

Time for dessert! Whew! As I mentioned earlier, Jon is returning from his military deployment with the intention to adopt an organic lifestyle as well. While he continues to believe more and more in the benefits of living this way, I know he is a little nervous about what he might have to give up. So, I've been trying out some different recipes to show him that he can still indulge - because he can! So last night I whipped up two different versions of a grain-free almond butter and coconut flour cookie: Dark Chocolate Chunk & Dark Chocolate Walnut. First, I'll give you the recipe for the base so you can jazz it up anyway you want, and then I'll show what I did to make each variety

Almond Butter & Coconut Flour Cookie Base:

  • 1 Cup Raw Organic Almond Butter
  • 1/4 Cup Organic Coconut Flour
  • 1 Large Pastured Egg
  • 1 Tsp. Organic Vanilla Extract
  • 1 Tablespoon Coconut Oil
  • 1/2 Tsp. Baking Soda
  •  Pinch of Salt
  • Stevia, Coconut Palm Sugar or Date Sugar to your preferred sweetness
Dark Chocolate Chunk:

  • Almond Butter & Coconut Flour Cookie Base
  • 1/2 80% Cacao Organic Dark Chocolate Bar, Chopped into Chunks 
Dark Chocolate Walnut:

  • Almond Butter & Coconut Flour Cookie Base
  • 2 Tablespoons Organic Cacao Powder
  • 3 Tablespoon Chopped Organic Raw Walnuts

*Note: I made one batch of the almond butter & coconut flour cookie base and then divided it in two. I then added the specified ingredient amount for each variety to one half of the base. If you want to make one variety or the other (instead of both), simply double the add-ins.

Preheat the oven to 325. Combine ingredients for cookie base until mixed thoroughly. Then add in the fix-ins for one or both varieties. Using a spoon form small dough balls and place on lined cookie sheet. Flatten slightly with a fork or spatula. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden.

Let cool on rack & Enjoy!

I hope you all enjoy these recipes as much as I did! Share your photos or variations with me in the comment section below or on the Facebook Page!

Keep it Real,


No comments:

Post a Comment