10 awesome probiotic foods and Why to eat them!

The human body contains more foreign microbes than human cells. In fact there are trillions of microbes in your gut alone. However, you also have a healthy microbiome in your mouth, in your eyes and on your skin. That begs the question(s): Are you feeding your little friends properly? Are you eating enough probiotic (microbe) rich food?

You may ask why you need to feed them and, if you have so many, why eat more? These are all good questions. The chances are that you are indeed feeding them, but, if fed the wrong thing, certain microbes can become overgrown and take over, causing negative symptoms including: fatigue, brain fog, digestive distress, sinus infections, and more.

By feeding them the proper, healthy kinds of probiotic foods, you cancel out the overgrowth in favor of a healthy gut population. When this microbiome is in balance, wonderful things can happen.

10 reasons to eat probiotic rich foods

  1. Provide enzymes to aid in digestion– These enzymes are especially helpful for the middle-age diet. Probiotics boost enzyme levels, which decline with age. They also contribute to anti-aging and longevity.
  2. Build a protective barrier along the digestive tract. This barrier prevents leaky gut, which allows larger molecules than normal to pass through, leading to food sensitivities or allergies and even autoimmune disorders.
  3. Produce anti-biotic and anti-viral substances to protect the gut and the body. These substances provide immune protection for the gut and the entire body.
  4. Help lower the pH in the digestive tract. These helpful little bugs produce the short chain fatty acids butyric acid and proprionic acid. “these organic acids lower the ph in the GI tract, making it more acidic which reduces the growth of pathogenic bacteria.”
  5. Nourish and energize the cell lining of the GI Tract – “It is estimated that the gut cells receive 60-70% of their energy from bacterial activity.”
  6. Produce vitamins – This further enhances the nutrition value of the probiotic food.
  7. Eliminates toxins and waste from the colon.
  8. Positively improve mood and aid in depression.
  9. Improved weight loss through reduced balanced microbiome and reduced sugar cravings.
  10. Manage GI disorders – many disorders of the GI tract could be due to an imbalance in the microbiome. Probiotic rich food can help balance the microbiome and bring stability to the GI tract.

10 awesome probiotic rich foods

Now that we know why to eat them, we need to know which foods are best. While you can buy some at the store, it’s always best to make your own, which is easy and inexpensive. I’ll be posting a greek yogurt recipe this Thursday on my KITCHEN BLOG. Also look for a DIY Sauerkraut recipe there next week.

  1. Kefir – This can be either water/coconut water kefir or dairy kefir. Water kefir is a bubbly drink that is often flavored with small amounts of fruit juice. Dairy kefir is simlar to yogurt but with a buttermilk texture. I favor this over yogurt due to the diversity of the microbes in the kefir, which can be anywhere from 10 strains to more than 30. Yogurt typically has only a few.
  2. Sauerkraut – As most of you know, this is fermented cabbage. I highly recommend making your own. Store bought sauerkraut is often pasteurized and contains no microbes. Proper sauerkraut is high in vitamin C, as well as digestive enzymes.
  3. Kombucha – This is a fermented and effervescent black tea. It helps support energy, digestion and liver detoxification.
  4. Yogurt – Most of you will buy this in the store. If you do, I recommend organic yogurt. Make sure the package says “active cultures”
  5. Kvass – I must admit, this one is unfamiliar to me. “Kvass is a traditional fermented beverage having a similar taste to beer. Much like kombucha because of its fermentation process and probiotic benefits, it is commonly made from stale, sourdough rye bread.”
  6. Apple cider vinegar – We’re talking about the raw-unrefined apple cider vinegar, which will often say “with the mother” on the label. ACV is known to help reduce cholesterol, improve insulin sensitivity, and weight loss.
  7. fermented pickles and veggies – Once again, we are talking about proper fermented pickles, not the canned, vinegar pickles in the store. Fermented veggies are packed with healthy probiotics
  8. Traditional buttermilk – or cultured buttermilk. Once again, if you buy buttermilk in the store and it says “cultured buttermilk”, make sure it says “active cultures” on the label.
  9. Miso – Miso is “created by fermenting soybean, barley or brown rice with koji. Koji is a fungus, and the fermentation process takes anywhere from a few days to a few years to complete.” Some of the world’s centenarians eat fermented soy and miso!
  10. Brine-cured olives – Once again, olives are eaten throughout the Mediterranean, home of some of the world’s oldest people! Make sure to choose organic olives from a small company.

Closing thoughts

As I venture into the world of food fermenting, I have discovered how easy and inexpensive it is to make some of the world’s healthiest foods. Remember, food fermenting has been around for 1000’s of years as a way of food preservation. Take time to experiment and find the foods you like best. Your little buggy friends will thank you, and so will your body!

Regulating Healthy Blood Sugar Levels to Manage Diabetes

According to a study in 2015 from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 30.3 million Americans have diabetes, and 84.1 million have pre-diabetes. Pair that with the statistic that 1 in 3 Americans are pre-diabetic and 90% of those at risk are unaware they have a likely potential of being diagnosed. It begs the question, how can you effectively manage your diagnosis if you aren’t aware it is developing?

To start, you must educate yourself and first understand the main types of diabetes. For some, such as those with type 1, it’s a genetic part of who they are, which is harder to avoid. For others, such as those with type 2, it’s entirely contingent upon diet and lifestyle. No matter which type with which you are diagnosed, lifestyle changes are imminent. You likely have to start caring about things you once ignored. Your blood sugar levels being one of them!

1. Blood sugar informs how to manage diabetes daily

Also known as blood glucose, your blood sugar levels are often a key indicator of whether or not your diabetes is being properly managed. Not only that, properly managing your diabetes benefits your overall health and can help prevent the development of other health complications like vision loss and kidney disease. However, before you can properly manage your blood sugar levels, you need to know the healthy ranges for which you’re striving. With that said, it is important to note that each person is unique, and your first step should always be consulting with your doctor to determine your personal key target ranges. For reference, standard target blood glucose ranges include:

  • 80-130 before a meal
  • Below 180 approximately 2 hours after the start of a meal

Checking your numbers on a regular basis gives insight into what makes your sugar levels fluctuate. Keeping a daily health journal of your eating habits, water consumption, and exercise routine can help you become more aware of your choices and how they impact your blood sugar. Tracking which foods and activities cause spikes and dips in your blood glucose levels will allow you to make better-informed decisions to properly manage your diabetes.

2. Consuming Good Fats and Whole Foods Leads to Healthy Blood Sugar

Pre-diabetes progresses to a Type 2 diagnosis when blood sugar and weight are not properly managed. To manage and maintain healthy blood sugar levels, you must increase your intake of good fats and whole foods. Whole foods are anything unaltered or in their natural state, such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes, and whole grains. These foods have several health benefits that will work with the body to activate the standard way of processing sugar. Even in the pre-diabetes stage, your body is confused about the abundance of sugar in your system, and your insulin production doesn’t work correctly. Insulin is a hormone that takes sugar out of your blood and turns it into energy or stores it, as fat, for future use. When there’s too much sugar, the body becomes overwhelmed, and creates too much insulin, leading to insulin resistance. When this happens, the cells of the body cannot use up sugar effectively, which is what causes high blood sugar levels.

It is important to know what healthy fats for diabetes are, to ensure you are incorporating the right foods into your diet to keep your blood sugar aligned. Whole foods contain nutrients, vitamins, fiber, and other ingredients that will stabilize and balance your blood sugar. Foods with good fats are full of polyunsaturated, monounsaturated, omega-3, and omega-6 fatty acids. Some good fat foods include:

  • Olive oil
  • Avocados
  • Peanuts
  • Almonds
  • Walnuts
  • Flaxseed
  • Fish (salmon, swordfish, sardines, tuna)

When consuming a diet rich in good fat foods, you are more likely to have regulated blood glucose than if you consume a diet rich in carbohydrates. Consuming healthy fats, while reducing refined carbohydrates ultimately nurtures your production of insulin, by lowering blood sugar levels and balancing insulin production.

From cutting or limiting sugar intake, exercising regularly, and incorporating whole foods and good fats into your diet, you will effortlessly manage your blood sugar levels. Making these alterations will help your body significantly change for the better. These positive diet changes will not only get your blood sugar in a healthy zone but can contribute to potentially reverse your diabetes diagnosis altogether.

3. Exercising Regularly Lowers Blood Sugar Levels

Another way to limit increased levels of sugar in your bloodstream and aid in managing a diabetes diagnosis is through frequent exercise. Exercising regularly is one of the most effective ways to lower blood glucose levels because it allows your muscles to absorb and use sugar for energy. When incorporating exercise into your regular routine specifically for blood sugar benefits, you should aim to engage in a variety of different physical activities and exercises. It is important to balance various intensities and types of movements to ensure that your body is moving and engaging with different muscles. It is suggested that adults should be physically active for at least two and a half hours per week. Recommended exercises include:

  • Walking
  • Jogging
  • Swimming
  • Water Aerobics
  • Pushups
  • Light weight-lifting

Any and all exercise methods should be discussed with your doctor to determine what the best and most efficient approach suits your personal needs.

(This article, edited and approved the Purple Almond Wellness, was submitted by an guest author. )

Tamara’s Closing thoughts…

It’s important to go slow when making major changes to your lifestyle. Pick one thing to change, such as adding whole foods to your diet. Changing to a whole food diet, as indicated in this article, is probably the most important change you can make. As I said, go slow when making this change. Pick one meal a day to be made 100% whole foods. Do that for a week, then add a second 100% whole food meal and so on until your diet is 100% whole foods. Once that is accomplished, you can add something else. Set a S.M.A.R.T. GOAL and create steps to meet that goal. You’ve got this!

5 Whole Food Breakfasts in 5 Minutes or Less

Okay, I know, when you think of whole food, you don’t think of quick, convenient food. Admit it, that’s the excuse we all use. “Making food from scratch takes too much time. It’s easier to throw a Pop Tart in the toaster!” Maybe you’re the type of person  who doesn’t eat breakfast at all.

It’s okay if you’re not. I’ve been doing intermittent fasting for at least a year. However, my first meal, to “break” the fast, is always a breakfast style meal. Just because I wait 16 hours between my last meal one day and my first meal the next day, doesn’t mean I don’t need breakfast. In fact, with intermittent fasting, that first meal is even more important! What you eat when you break the fast needs to be healthy and nutritious. Breakfast, especially with intermittent fasting, is still the most important meal of the day.

Well, now you don’t have any excuses. Here are 5 super healthy breakfast ideas (Videos-no less. I mean who doesn’t love those quick recipe videos?). They are jam-packed with vitamins, minerals and healthy fat and they’ll be ready in the same amount of time as a Pop Tart or toast and Coffee.

Green Smoothie-The first time I ever heard of a green smoothie, it sounded disgusting. I mean why would anyone in their right mind blend leafy greens, with perfectly good fruit and drink it? It’s better than it sounds. In fact, they can be down right delicious. And what better way to eat those all important leafy greens? (Especially if you don’t like them). This video shows the basic smoothie technique. Feel free to get creative and, remember my motto, use what’s on hand. Let me know if you make a green smoothie so good, you just have to share. Watch this post on the 10 best blenders, for tips to pick the right one for you.

Smoothie bowls-Take smoothies to the next level by combining smoothies with fruit and granola. This video makes a basic fruit smoothie, using soymilk. If you are allergic to soy, or just try to avoid soy, (like me) use ANY liquid, such as water, nut milk, rice milk, coconut milk or coconut water, or even yogurt. Feel free to take the green smoothie you just made, and make it into a smoothie bowl.

Overnight Oatmeal-This recipe is prepared the night before, in just a few minutes and placed in the fridge. Then, when you wake up in the morning, you can grab  it and go. Once again, this is a basic technique and very versitile.

“Magic” Eggs– I was fascinated by this technique when I first saw it. I admit, it’s very cool, but takes a bit of practice. I did try this, and was not successful the first time…or two. A few tips: 1) don’t add in the extra items the first time you make it, just the egg,  2) make sure your pot is big enough, with plenty of water. 

Sweet Potato Toast-Take that magic egg you just made, and put it on a slice of sweet potato “toast”, along with some steamed greens. YUM! (Sweet potato toast tip…It’s not as quick as it looks in the video. In my experience, It takes 2-3 “toast cycles for the sweet potato to properly cook,)

Featured picture is via 9 Smoothie Bowl Recipes You’ll Want to Eat Every Morning

Nutrition 101: A Beginner’s Guide to the Anti-Aging Okinawa Diet

This week, I’ve been discussing longevity and places around the world with the most centenarians (100 year olds). Okinawa, Japan is one of those places, as discovered by bluezones.com. Just how much healthier were the people of Okinawa than those of use here in the good old USA?

source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17986602

As you can see in the chart above, made with data from 1995, the people of Okinawa were much healthier than individuals here in the USA or even their counterparts in mainland Japan. If you’ll notice I did say “were” healthier. Sadly, as our western culture has infiltrated this beautiful island, the younger generations have forgotten the ancient and healthy food culture of the Okinawan people. But just what is that culture and it’s benefits beyond that of longevity?

What is the Okinawa Diet?

The Okinawan Diet is an ancient way of eating for the people of Okinawa, Japan. Okinawa is located in the Ryukyu Islands of Japan.

The life expectancy in Japan is 84 versus the USA life expectancy of 78.8. With that said, Okinawa has more than 5 times as many centenarians as the rest of Japan. So, what is the secret? What is so different about the Okinawan way of life? How do Okinawans differ from the rest of Japan or the world for that matter? It all boils down to the Okinawan diet and lifestyle.

The Okinawa Diet: Living to 100


What do Okinawans eat?

The Okinawa Diet is a whole food, plant based diet, rich in leafy greens, as well as yellow and orange vegetables. While they do eat rice, their main source of starch is purple sweet potatoes. They eat only small amounts of meat, mainly pork, and dairy. Legumes and soy are also emphasized in this anti-aging diet. The Okinawa diet contains relatively little processed food.

Health Benefits of the Okinawa Diet

  • Large amounts of anti-oxidants
  • naturally calorie restricted
  • low fat and low sugar
  • improved immunity
  • ant-aging
  • improved brain health – not only are Okinawan people among the longest living, they also have some of the lowest rates of dementia in the world!
  • lowers risk of heart disease
  • lowers risk of cancer
  • improved bone health

How you can eat the Okinawa Way

  • Practice Hara Hachi Bu – this translates to “eat until you are eight parts out of ten full.” This is a practice from Confucius that reminds us to stop eating when we are 80% full
  • Eat mindfully – In the west, we scarf down our food as if we haven’t eaten in weeks. It’s not uncommon to gobble up our food on the run or while driving. This is opposite of the Okinawa philosophy. Take your time and think about what and how you are eating. Think about your “satiety ” or fullness level.
  • 1200 calories per day – I highly doubt the ancient Okinawa people actually counted calories. However, when you base your diet on plants, you will naturally eat fewer calories. The main concept here is our 2000 calorie diet here in the west is far too much. There is more and more research showing the longevity and anti-aging benefits of a calorie restricted diet. For more information on calorie restriction, see my article on the CRON DIET.
  • Eat the rainbow – Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables, of all colors. The colors of plants is what gives them specific nutrients not found in other foods. The more varied your diet, the more colorful your diet, the healthier it is.
  • Start eating sweet potatoes – they don’t have to be purple. Okinawan people eat all colors of sweet potatoes. These tasty gems are filled with fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin B6, vitamin B5, vitamin E and potassium.
  • Limited amounts of HIGH QUALITY protein – stay away from CAFO and mass produced forms of protein. Since you will be limiting the amount of protein, you’ll want to go for quality over quantity. Aim for wild caught seafood, grass fed beef, pastured chickens/eggs, and organic pork.
  • Limit grains and dairy – While the Okinawa diet does include dairy and limited amounts of rice, these foods are greatly limited. In fact, if not for the legumes, the Okinawa diet could be considered largely paleo in nature.

Closing thoughts

You don’t have to jump in with both feet, as we often try to do when changing our diet. Start gradually by implementing mindful eating. Add a few vegan meals to your week. Slowly begin to cut back on processed foods. You don’t have to go from eating the Standard American Diet 100% of the time to eating the Okinawa diet 100% of the time. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing. Use the 85/15 rule. Gradually work up to eating the Okinawa diet 85% of the, and allow yourself some fun foods 15% of the time.

Until next time, Namaste my friends.



  1. https://draxe.com/nutrition/okinawa-diet/
  2. https://nutrineat.com/health-benefits-of-okinawa-diet
  3. https://www.nutrition-and-you.com/okinawa-diet.html
  4. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/foods/sweet-potatoes#vitamins-and-minerals

Nutrition 101: The Upside Down Pyramid

Presently, a full two-thirds of Americans are overweight or obese, and childhood obesity has tripled over the past 30 years.” Do these statistics surprise you? This quote is from a wonderful article written by Dr. Joseph Mercola.  In it, Dr. Mercola discusses the Standard American Diet (S.A.D.) which is filled with highly processed and refined “food”, and  how these foods are making us fat. He also discusses the  faulty science behind the USDA’s food guide pyramid, which was replaced with My Plate in 2011.

Comparing the Mediterranean Diet Pyramid

The USDA food guide pyramid (pictured above) encourages individuals to eat between 6 to 11 servings of breads and cereal per day.  Most carbohydrates, whether complex or simple, are essentially chains of sugar, bonded together. When these chains are digested, the body breaks them down into individual molecules of sugar. So, basically, your body doesn’t know the difference between a can of soda and a piece of whole wheat bread.

coca-cola-462776_640 (1)bread-1281053_640 (1)

The only difference between the soda and the bread, is the length of time it takes for those sugars to be processed by the body.  Because the bread contains fiber, the process of breaking down the molecules of sugar takes longer. But, in the end, the bread will break down into the same sugar molecules that are contained in the soda. For more information on just how carbohydrates are processed, see this article from New Health Advisor. Now, don’t get me wrong, I am not demonizing all carbohydrates by any means. Carbohydrates are ESSENTIAL to any healthy diet.


While My Plate (pictured above), has slightly lowered the amount of grains, it eliminated fat from the picture. Fat is very important for our body. Deficiency in essential fats can cause serious health problems. For more information on the importance of fat in the diet, check out this in depth look at fat at the Weston A Price Foundation.


So, just how do we eat healthy, if the food guides provided by the government are faulty? It’s not rocket science, in fact, the secret to eating healthy is fairly simple. Are you ready? Just eat REAL FOOD. You’re probably saying “Well if I’m not eating real food everyday, what am I eating?” When I say “real food”, I mean whole food,  not the packaged, refined and chemically laden food most of us eat every day. At my house we call refined food “food like substances.” They look, smell and taste like food, but they’re  not.

Whole vs Processed vs Refined:

Why Whole Foods are The Best Foods - Natural Health

What is a “whole food”?

Whole food is defined as food, as close to its natural state as possible, which is supportive of health, and does not contribute to disease . Whole food is generally intact, and sold with little or no packaging. This is food the way mother nature intended it, such as apples, broccoli, beef, chicken, fish, or eggs. Whole food does not necessarily need to be a whole plant, but part of a plant, such as rice, nuts, seeds or legumes. Since these foods are picked directly from the plant, in the natural state, the essential nutrients remain intact.

What is a “processed food”?

These foods, which start as whole foods, are altered through cooking, refining or juicing. For example, a potato would become processed as it is cooked and mashed prior to eating. Other examples include grinding wheat berries into whole wheat flour or cooking brown rice to make it edible.

If it came from a plant… EAT IT!!!! | KarmaFree Cooking

What is a “refined food”?

A refined food is a barely recognizable, minimized version of a whole food. These foods have been chemically, or mechanically processed, resulting in the elimination of some or all essential nutrients . Typically, additives, preservatives and flavor enhancers have been added to increase shelf life . Some examples include lunch meat, potato chips and bleached white flour.

#MondaMantra If your food can go bad, it’s Good for you ...

Whole foods are nature’s foods. Whole foods are the animals and eggs fresh from the farm, or fruit plucked from the tree or vegetables pulled from the earth. You can walk into a wheat field and pick handfuls of wheat berries, but, you can’t walk into a wheat field and pick a bag of flour or loaf of bread. That is the difference between whole foods, processed foods and refined foods.

Health Benefits of Whole foods

Phytonutrients and antioxidants: Whole fruits and vegetables contain phytonutrients or plant nutrients. These nutrients, which give plants their bright color, contain antioxidants, helping to reduce inflammation, sugar cravings and fight chronic, degenerative diseases such as cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease and type-2 diabetes.

More good-fat: Whole foods, such as fish, grass-fed beef and plants increase the amounts of healthy omega-3 fats in the diet .

Lots of fiber: Fruits, vegetables and whole grains contain lots of fiber. While fiber cleans the digestive tract, feeds our good bacteria and keeps us full, it also helps lower risk of disease such as stroke, cancer, coronary heart disease and obesity.

Nutrient-dense: Whole foods are very nutrient-dense. This means they are low in calories, but very high in essential nutrients, so you get more “bang for your buck”

Reasons to Avoid Refined Foods

Refined flour, sugar, and high-fructose corn syrup: Refined sweeteners and carbohydrates are empty calories, and considered “negative nutrients.”  This means the body needs to use its own reserves of essential nutrients to digest the food. These sweeteners also cause chronic diseases such as, fatty liver disease, obesity, insulin resistance and diabetes.

Artificial ingredients: These ingredients are chemicals and not actually food, such as coloring, preservatives, flavor enhancers and texture agents . Studies show that these chemicals can lead to cancer, allergies, hyperactivity, brain disorders and Alzheimer’s Disease

Trans fats and processed oil: Refined foods are high in “bad fats” such as trans fats and processed vegetable oils, including soy, and corn oil. These fats can cause inflammation in the body, leading to many different chronic diseases, as well as heart disease.

Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO’s): Refined food contains GMO’s, which are genetically engineered to either resist pests or herbicides. Studies show these foods lead to tumors, allergies, liver and kidney damage, or organ failure.

The upside down pyramid:

Now that you know the difference between whole, processed and refined food, you may be wondering what type of whole foods you should eat and how much. Well, a picture is worth a thousand words as they say. Dr. Mercola has developed a pyramid as a guide for how to eat healthy. The base of the pyramid is healthy fat and vegetables. The next level of the pyramid is healthy, organic, grass-fed or free-range protein. The next layer is fruit, which should be eaten in moderation due to the sugar content. And, finally, the tip of the pyramid is grains, cereals and pasta.


Whole food alternatives to popular refined food:

The following chart is from website Weed em and Reap. It contains healthy, whole food alternatives to standard American food.


Cooking whole food can be easy:

Now, you may be thinking that whole foods aren’t very convenient and take a long time to cook.  As I showed in my blog: “5 whole food breakfasts in 5 minutes or less”, it can be very easy.

Check out this recipe from Primavera Kitchen. It’s a simple and delicious whole food dinner. The Asparagus, Sweet Potato, Chicken Skillet can be prepared in under 30 minutes.  ENJOY!

Asparagus, Sweet Potato, Chicken Skillet

Busting the (Whole) Grain Myth – UC Davis Integrative Medicine

With the back and forth of grains, no grains, things can get a bit confusing. Many people are sensitive to grains, and should remove them from the diet. But, does that mean that everyone should stay away from grains?

Personally, I do avoid grains, because of a food sensitivity. I did an elimination diet about one year ago, to discover which foods aggravate my sinus migraines. Unfortunately, grains are on that list. But, I believe most people can safely eat grains, as long as they are prepared properly. Our ancestors who ate grain, typically soaked and fermented them, prior to eating. This helps the body digest them more easily.

Overall, what is the consensus on grains? Should you be eating grains? Are grains bad? Can humans digest grains? All this and more can be found in this interesting article from UC Davis – Integrative medicine. Here, they dispel some of the myths surrounding grains.

Have a look:

Exploring the nutritional controversies surrounding whole grain: does it make you fat, should you include it in your diet, and more.

Source: Busting the (Whole) Grain Myth – UC Davis Integrative Medicine

Ultimate Guide to Nutrients: Understanding Trans Fats

At the beginning of August, I wrote the first in a series of articles on FAT. In that article, I explained that I was breaking this topic down into a series of six articles:

  1. Fat-the basics
  2. Fats to avoid
    1. Trans Fatty Acids
    2. Vegetable oils
  3. Saturated fat
  4. Unsaturated fat
  5. Omega fat
  6. Cholesterol

The first article covered the basics on Fat, including defining fat, fatty acids, and types of fat. The next topic I’d like to cover is “Fats to avoid”. I decided to break this topic down into two separate articles, because quite frankly, trans fatty acids needs an article on it’s own. So my six article series has become seven !

What are Trans Fats?

In my first article, I explained that fats are divided into groups based on the types of bonds. Here is a quote from that article:

“Fatty acids are broken down further into 2 other groups, based on the chemical bonds between the carbon atoms in the chain. These bonds can either be single or double bonds. These bonds affect the properties and characteristics of the fatty acid.:

  1. Saturated Fatty Acid – SFA – have all single bonds between the carbon. Because there are no double bonds in the chain, SFA’s are rigid and inflexible, and completely surrounded or SATURATED with hydrogen. This rigid nature makes them quite dense, and, therefore solid at room temperature.
  2. Unsaturated Fatty Acid – UFA – have one or more double bonds. The existence of double bonds, makes the UFA’s flexible or bendable. It also means there are fewer hydrogen atoms, so the UFA are not surrounded or saturated by hydrogen, therefore, they are UNSATURATED. The flexibility of these acids make them highly unorganized, preventing them from coming together, making them liquid in most cases.
    • MonoUnsaturated Fatty Acid – MUFA – have one double bond
    • PolyUnsaturated Fatty Acid – PUFA – have two or more double bonds.

This information is important for understanding trans fats. All fats, are made of mainly hydrogen and carbon, with oxygen molecules at the end. The double bonds in NATURAL UFA’s contain hydrogen molecules on the same side of a double bond. This allows the fatty acid to be flexible and, therefore, liquid at room temperature:

Screen Shot 2017-09-12 at 11.01.38 AM.png

HOWEVER, a trans fatty acid is CHEMICALLY ALTERED, so that the two hydrogen atoms are on opposite sides of the double bond:

Screen Shot 2017-09-12 at 11.04.15 AM.png

This makes the trans fatty acid straight and rigid and SOLID at room temperature, similar to saturated fatty acids:

Screen Shot 2017-09-12 at 11.06.21 AM.png


How are Trans Fats made?

While some trans fats occur naturally, in animal products, the VAST majority of trans fats are commercially produced, by chemically turning PUFA’s from their natural liquid state, into a solid (AKA: margarine/shortening).

Here’s the process (2):

  1. It begins with cheap oils, such as soy, corn, canola or cottonseed-which have become rancid from processing (and genetically modified)
  2. Mixed with tiny metals such as nickel oxide, which acts as a catalyst for the next step.
  3. The oil mixture is  exposed to hydrogen gas in a high pressure/temperature reactor
  4. Emulsifiers and starch, similar to soap are added to the mix to improve consistency.
  5. Steam cleaned at high temperature, removing the unpleasant odor.
  6. Bleached to remove the “unappetizing gray” color
  7. Dyed to make it resemble butter
  8. Compressed into blocks or tubs.

This process creates

partially-hydrogenated oil,

which are trans fatty acids.

Why you need to avoid Trans Fats…

You mean, aside from the fact that they are HIGHLY PROCESSED fats, made from chemicals and rancid, genetically modified oil?

Here are some other reasons, in case that’s not enough..

  1. Trans fats are toxic to your body. Unfortunately, your body recognizes them as regular fatty acids and makes them part of your cell wall. This causes tremendous problems, because the hydrogen molecules are in the wrong place. Cell metabolism can only occur when all of the electrons are in the proper arrangement. (2)
  2. Increased risk for cancer (2)
  3. Increased risk for many serious diseases including: (2)
    1. Heart disease
    2. Diabetes
    3. Obesity
    4. Immune system dysfunction
    5. low birth weight babies
    6. birth defects
    7. impaired vision
    8. sterility
    9. bone/tendon problems

If Trans Fats are bad, then saturated fats must be bad too, right? WRONG!

We will be covering saturated fats in a future article in this series, but, suffice it to say, they have been unfairly vilified. To compare trans fats to saturated fats is like comparing apples to oranges. There is no comparison.  Let me ask you this…Would you eat an apple, that had been chemically altered to look and taste like an orange, or would you just eat the real orange?

EVERY cell membrane in your body is made up of 50% saturated fat. (3)  Saturated fats, in the proper amounts, have many benefits, including (3):

  • Enhanced immune system function
  • Improved bone health
  • Needed for the body to properly utilize certain Omega-3 essential fatty acids
  • Anti-microbial properties
  • Preferred food for the heart! (YES, does that surprise you?) The heart draws on the saturated fat around the heart for energy during times of stress

On the other hand, as stated above, trans fats are TOXIC, serve no purpose, and reek havoc on our bodies.

But, Trans Fats were outlawed and are no longer used…right? Um…Not exactly

In 2015, the Obama administration and the FDA issued a ban on PARTIALLY-HYDROGENATED OIL, giving the food industry 3 years to “phase them out”, so they are still a part of the food system. (4) Partially-hydrogenated oils have been banned, NOT fully hydrogenated oil. If you fully hydrogenate an oil, you COMPLETELY turn it into a saturated fat. In other words, you add the missing hydrogen molecules, and remove the double bonds. (6)


So, fully-hydrogenated oils are seen as “safer” because they do not technically contain trans-fats, however, keep in mind the HIGHLY PROCESSED nature of these fats, in combination with the rancid, genetically modified oil.  Skip these chemically manufactured saturated fats, and eat the REAL thing!

The loop hole

So, you go to the store and pick up a pre-packaged dinner which says “ZERO TRANS FATS” on the label. Do you trust the label and does zero really mean zero?

NO! According to the FDA guidelines:

A product LABELED ZERO can contain up to .5 gram of trans fat per serving. 

ALWAYS read the ingredient label! ALWAYS! If there is ANY partially-hydrogenated oil in the ingredients, the product absolutely contains trans fats, even if it says “ZERO TRANS FAT” on the label (4)

Foods to avoid:

I go to my standard advice… eat a WHOLE FOOD DIET, and stay away from processed food. Here’s a chart showing the products highest in trans fats.






  1. McGuire, Michelle; Beerman, Kathy A.. Nutritional Sciences: From Fundamentals to Food (Page 223). Cengage Textbook. Kindle Edition.
  2. https://draxe.com/the-truth-about-saturated-fat/
  3. https://www.westonaprice.org/health-topics/know-your-fats/the-skinny-on-fats/#benefits
  4. http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=102351941
  5. http://www.politico.com/story/2015/06/obama-bans-trans-fat-119050
  6. https://www.thespruce.com/do-hydrogenated-oils-contain-trans-fats-2246050



Just thought you should know…How to Prepare Amaranth + 15 Recipes

A couple of weeks ago, in my ULTIMATE GUIDE TO NUTRIENTS: PROTEIN article, I published the following list of plant foods that are complete acids, containing all 9 essential amino acids.

  1. Quinoa – 8.14 grams per cup
  2. Amaranth – 9.35 grams per cup
  3. Soybeans – 22 grams per cup
  4. Buckwheat – 23 grams per cup
  5. Hempseed – 31.56 grams per 100 g
  6. Chia seeds – 16.54 grams per 100 g
  7. Blue-green algae – 4 grams per tablespoon
  8. Spirulina – 4 grams per tablespoon

As you can see, on the list is a little “grain” called Amaranth. I received a comment from a follower on how to prepare Amaranth, and what to do with it. So, I told her I’d post an article. Here’s a shout out to SUSIESHY45. I do apologize Susie. I meant to publish this last week and just ran out of time.

So just what is Amaranth? Amaranth isn’t a grain at all, but the seed of a plant from 60 different species of amaranthus. (1) It is often called a pseudo-grain because it possesses many of the same nutrient qualities as grains.

It was used by the Aztecs and domesticated between 6000 and 8000 years ago. Due to the high nutrient content of the seed, it was heavily relied upon by ancient cultures. (1) It is native to Peru, but can also be found in Africa, India, China, Russia, South America and North America. (1)

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Here is the nutrient content in 1 cup of Amaranth: (1)

  • 251 calories
  • 4 grams fat
  • zero cholesterol
  • 15 milligrams sodium
  • 46 grams carbohydrate
  • 5 grams dietary fiber
  • 9 grams protein
  • 0.3 milligram vitamin B6 (14 percent DV)
  • 0.1 milligram vitamin B2/riboflavin (3 percent DV)
  • 0.6 milligram niacin (3 percent DV)
  • 0.5 milligram vitamin E (2 percent DV)
  • 0.1 milligram thiamine (2 percent DV)
  • 2 milligrams manganese (105 percent DV)
  • 160 milligrams magnesium (40 percent DV)
  • 364 milligrams phosphorus (36 percent DV)
  • 5 milligrams iron (29 percent DV)
  • 13 micrograms selenium (19 percent DV)
  • 0.4 milligram copper (18 percent DV)
  • 116 milligrams calcium (16 percent DV)
  • 54 micrograms folate (14 percent DV)
  • 2 milligrams zinc (14 percent DV)
  • 332 milligrams potassium (9 percent DV)


How to prepare amaranth

With all of the obvious health benefits, Amaranth does have a few drawbacks, like other grains, pseudo-grains, nuts and seeds. All of these foods contain properties, that act as built in defenses, which protect the plants.  These substances include: phytic acid, tannins, gluten-related proteins and enzyme inhibitors. (2)

These natural defenses are known in the nutrition world as “anti-nutrients” because they can inhibit nutrient absorption and cause a host of other problems, such as (2):

  • bind with essential minerals in the gut, flushing them from your body
  • block new mineral absorption
  • irritate the gut
  • inhibit digestion
  • lead to bone loss
  • cause allergies
  • put stress on the pancreas

But don’t let these drawbacks scare you away from trying Amaranth, or any other grain, nut or seed.  It simply means you need to prepare them properly.

Soaking Amaranth, (or other grain) in water with a bit of vinegar or lemon juice eliminates the anti-nutrients and begins the spouting process. This means the food has come to life, increasing the nutrient content. It also helps to partially digest the difficult to digest substances like, tannins, or gluten-like proteins. (2)

Soaking Tips: (2)

  • Combine the grains in a large bowl, covered with water (a couple of inches above the grain) with a dash of vinegar, cover with a cloth and set in a dark place.
  • Soak for a minimum of 6 hours. If you plan on having it for dinner, begin soaking in the morning, that way it’s ready when you want to make dinner.
  • If you’re making Amaranth Porridge for breakfast, begin soaking the night before
  • It can be soaked for up to 24 hours in the same water. If you choose to soak it longer, change the water/vinegar after 24 hours.
  • Drain the soaked grains and rinse them prior to cooking

Basic Recipe for Cooked Amaranth (after soaking) (2)

  • Because the grain has been soaked, it has absorbed water and will have a decreased cooking time and lower grain:water ratio. At this point you will need approximately 1 cup of water per 1 cup of grain. (will yield 2 – 2.5 cups)  (4)
  • Put soaked amaranth grains in a pot and cover with water until the level is about 1/2 inch above the grain.
  • Bring the water to a boil, without a lid, then reduce heat to medium-low for about 15 minutes.
  • After 10 minutes, check the grain, if the top is dry, and it appears like the water is gone, stir with a wooden spoon to see if the grains have begun to stick to the bottom. If the bottom of the pot is dry, they are done.
  • For a more porridge like consistency,  use slightly more water and cook longer. (3)
  • Amaranth can also be made in a rice cooker. This takes about 20 minutes. (4)

Now onto some delicious amaranth recipes…

Amaranth Porridge

NY Times



  • ½ cup amaranth 
  • 1 ½ cups water
  • ¼ cup milk, almond milk or rice milk(more to taste)
  • 2 teaspoons maple syrup or brown sugar or, if available, Mexican piloncillo
  •  Pinch of salt

Follow this link for complete instructions:

NY Times -Amaranth Porridge


Amaranth Salad

My Recipes 



  • 1 1/2 cups cold water
  • 1/2 cup uncooked whole-grain amaranth
  • 2 cups diced unpeeled English cucumber
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced celery
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1/2 cup drained no-salt-added canned chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
  • 1 cup (4 ounces) feta cheese, crumbled
  • Lemon wedges (optional)

Follow this link for complete instructions:

My Recipes Tabbouleh-Style Amaranth Salad

Mexican Ranchero

Amaranth Stew

Making Thyme for my Health



  • 1 cup amaranth
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 jalapeno, cored and diced
  • 2 bell peppers, cored and diced
  • 3 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can crushed fire roasted tomatoes
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon cayenne (depending on how hot you like it)
  • 1 (15 ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 2 avocados

Follow this link for complete instructions:

Making Thyme for my Health-Mexican Ranchero Amaranth Stew


King Arthur Flour



  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/4 cups milk (or non-dairy milk)
  • 3 tablespoons melted butter or vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 cups amaranth flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • *Add more milk for thinner pancakes, less for thicker cakes.

Follow this link for complete instructions:

King Arthur Flour – Easy Amaranth Pancakes

Baked Amaranth Meal Cracker

Flatbread Recipe

Book of Yum



  • 1/2 cup whole amaranth grain (not flour)
  • 1 1/2 cup water
  • salt to taste
  • flavored olive oil (lemon or basil)
  • fresh basil, torn into pieces to garnish (optional)

Follow this link for complete instructions:

Book of Yum – Amaranth Flat Bread

Here are 10 more recipes

I hope I have inspired you to expand your culinary horizons and give this wonderful little “grain” a try. If you have cooked with Amaranth, how do you prepare it? Let me know in the comments below…I’d love to know! HAPPY COOKING!

Let us stop for a moment to pray and meditate..png


  1. https://draxe.com/amaranth/
  2. http://cleanlivingguide.com/recipe/simply-amaranth/
  3. https://www.drweil.com/diet-nutrition/cooking-cookware/cooking-with-grains-amaranth/
  4. http://revivelifeclinic.com/how-to-cook-perfect-amaranth/

Wellness Wednesday: Healthy Whole Food Meals in 30 Minutes or Less

Earlier today, we talked about how to stay healthy at work. What happens after a long stressful day? Many people feel too tired to cook and end up ordering take out or stopping for fast food. ‘They don’t realize just how quickly you can fix a healthy and tasty whole food meal.

Just to show you how easy it can be, I have found 10 recipes using mainly whole food ingredients. All recipes can be prepared in 30 minutes or less. ENJOY!

Miso Glazed Salmon with Snap Peas

From: Daily Burn


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For complete instructions visit The Daily Burn

Steak and Cauliflower Potatoes with Sautéed Spinach

From: The Daily Burn

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For complete recipe instructions visit The Daily Burn.

Quinoa Mushroom Risotto

From: The Daily Burn

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For complete recipe instructions visit The Daily Burn

12 -Minute Chicken and Broccoli

From: Gimmie Some Oven

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For complete recipe instructions visit Gimmie Some Oven

Cauliflower Rice Fish Taco Bowls

From: Jules Eats and Treats


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For complete recipe instructions visit Jules Eats and Treats

Quick Tex Mex Sweet Potato Skillet

From: iFood Real

main-quick-tex-mex-quick-potato-skillet-recipeScreen Shot 2017-05-03 at 7.52.59 PM

For complete recipe instructions visit iFood Real

Zucchini Noodles with Cilantro Lime Chicken

From: iFood Real

skillet-far-cilantro-lime-chicken-zucchini-noodles-recipeScreen Shot 2017-05-03 at 7.56.39 PM

For complete recipe instruction visit iFood Real

Paleo Chicken Piccata

From: Noshtastic

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For complete recipe instructions visit Noshtastic

Italian-Style Egg Skillet

From: Buck Naked Paleo

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For complete recipe instructions visit Buck Naked Paleo

20-Minute Shrimp and Sausage Skillet

From: Paleo Newbie

paleo-newbie-skillet-meal-boar-sausage-650x650Screen Shot 2017-05-03 at 8.07.53 PM

For complete recipe instructions visit Paleo Newbie


The following article is from Dr. Jonathon: All about healthy choices. Dr Jonathon Neal Colter is a practicing Chiropractor from North Carolina, with 20 years experience. He does a remarkable job in the following article discussing the difference between real food and “food stuff”. (Or as I call them “food like substances.” Like The Purple Almond, Dr. Jonathon advocates real food choices, advocating 80% to 90% of your diet from real food.

Continue reading “FOOD vs. FOOD “STUFF””