Oil Pulling: Does it stand up to the hype?

Oil pulling has been at the forefront of health and wellness news lately, it seems like everyone is talking about it, everyone is doing it, and everyone is claiming all sorts of health benefits from preventing heart disease, to correcting hormone imbalances, to preventing migraines, to curing a hangover. If that’s all true, great, sign me up! But are these claims all true and it is healthy for everyone?

What is Oil Pulling?

Oil pulling is a practice that is around 3,000-5,000 years old, started in India (an Ayurveda traditional medicine practice), that has most recently gained the attention of some celebrities, so to some it seems like a rather new phenomenon. It is based on the idea of a daily health routine that aids in cleansing the body. Oil pulling should be performed after brushing and flossing your teeth, to remove the larger debris and loose plaques, so the oil can be used in a clean oral environment. Most often using sesame oil, as it has antimicrobial properties (meaning: it can kill off some harmful bacteria), you can use one of two two techniques to oil pull:

1. Fill your mouth with oil and just keep it in your mouth for up to 5 minutes then spit it out.

2. Put roughly 30ml of oil in your mouth and swish and gargle (as you would a mouth wash) and spit out.Oil Pulling

What does it do?

Since the oil has an antimicrobial properties, by letting it (either actively- swishing- or passively) get between your teeth and into your gums, it helps to decrease the bacteria content in your mouth and saliva (which has been shown in a couple of very small studies), which would lead to less plaque formation and your teeth and gums and prevent bad breath (bacteria is most often the culprit for bad breath). Decreasing bacteria leads to less inflammation in your mouth, and theoretically, this would lead to less cavities, and improve gum health (think less bleeding gums and possibly decrease risk of gingivitis). It can also help with prevention of canker sores, or any other small oral ulceration due to bacteria. Mostly, this occurs because oil is lipid (fat) based, and will leave a slight coating on your teeth and gums which helps prevent bacteria from sticking there, along with the antimicrobial properties.

Does it work?

This obviously has been a part of Eastern Medicine for a long time, and there are some benefits of decreasing bacteria in your mouth such as decreased inflammation and bacteria counts, along with improved breath,which has been shown in small studies of oil pulling. That being said, using a chlorhexidine based mouthwash can also give the same benefits (think GlyOxide).

There have been numerous other claims that it is a full body cleanse and draws all toxins out of your entire body, which various people have claim leads to migraine prevention, hormone imbalance correction, improve kidney function and vision, prevent insomnia…and the list goes on.  These things, have not been shown to be due to oil pulling, and the claims are pretty far fetched.  However, I am sure that some people really believe this, and the mind is a very powerful thing, so if you oil pull and feel better from whatever ailments you have, great.

There are no negative side effects from oil pulling, besides having to swish with oil (which doesn’t taste great) daily, so if you are interested in giving it a try, go for it! You will most likely improve your oral health, but as for everything else…there is nothing to prove those benefits will occur, so don’t be disappointed if your life doesn’t change completely!

Yours in Good Health

B

You Don’t Believe in Vaccinations?

Measles outbreaks have been on the rise, after the virus was nearly eradicated in the United States, in 2000. Mostly these infections are on the rise because of people choosing not to give vaccinations to their children, for whatever reason. Measles is a very serious virus, and it is most dangerous to children under the age of 5, and as more and more children have been vaccinated worldwide, the rate of death from measles dropped off, but it is now becoming more of a threat. Regardless of the reason/s that you don’t think that you should get vaccinations, you cannot deny that denying vaccinations not only puts your child at risk, but others as well, and measles outbreaks are becoming more and more frequent.

What are Measles?

The measles are a virus, also known as rubeola, that usually has four stages, over a course of two to three weeks, and with varying symptoms from first exposure (which occur over 7 to 14 days) such as: fever, cough, runny nose, sore throat, pink eye (inflamed eyes), tiny white spots with bluish centers in the corners of the inside of the cheeks (AKA Koplik spots), and a large blotchy skin rash.

The three stages:

1. Incubation Period: from 7 to 14 days after first exposure, you may have no symptoms at all, as you have been exposed and the virus is just starting to take shape.

2. Early Symptomatic Phase: You start to develop some generalized symptoms like fever, cough, runny nose. You might think that you have a regular cold at this point, unless you happen to notice Koplik spots.

3. Acute infection: after 3 days of the generalized symptoms, a red bumpy and blotchy rash will start on the face and around the ears to the hairline, which will spread down to the neck, chest abdomen, then to arms and legs.  At the same time as the rash is spreading, an intense fever to 104F-105F will also occur. This phase can last for about a week.

diseases.net

diseases.net

4. Infectious State: you may not feel sick or that you have the measles 4 days before you see a rash, but that is when you are able to spread the virus to others, and you remain infectious to others for up to 4 to 7 days AFTER the rash has completely gone away. It is easily spread from person to person through coughing, touching mucus in any form (sneeze droplets, etc.), and from inhaling the exhalation from an infected person. The virus can stay alive on a surface for several hours and can infect a person through rubbing eyes, nose and/or mouth.

Why is it so serious?

There are some complications that can occur, which can lead to long-term health issues or lead to death: bacterial ear infections, swelling of the brain (encephalitis), bronchitis, pneumonia, and can lead to serious complications in pregnant women. Some of these can be very hard to treat due to the concurrent infection, but encephalitis can be very serious leading to death if the brain swelling is uncontrolled, and the complications with pregnancy can be very severe for the fetus.

The up-side:

If you have not been vaccinated, and find out that you have been exposed, within 3 days of exposure, you can receive the measles vaccine, and if you do get the symptoms of the virus, they are very mild and there is less of a risk of the other complications. Usually when these outbreaks occur, the sources are quickly located and the news and other sources are very good about getting the word out about possible exposures, so if you think you have been exposed, get vaccinated.

You don’t have to get vaccinated, but if you do end up getting infected, the risk of transferring the virus to others is very high, and the exposure to small children and those who may be immune suppressed due to cancer, medical treatments, or older age, can be deadly. As a favor to yourself, and to those around you, no matter what your beliefs are, think about getting the vaccine, and vaccinating your children, it could be the difference between life or death.

Yours in Good Health

B

 

Can You Live Off of Soup Alone?

There are so many different soup “diets” talked about, and people make claims of losing tons of weight and maintaining the weight loss by basically only eating soup. I’ve been asked if this is healthy, and if you truly can live off of a diet like this without missing any key nutrients and vitamins.

The Scoop on Soup:

Honestly? My first thought was, no way can you hit all of your nutritional needs by eating solely soup. But then I actually started reading up on a few of these diets, the soups they suggest for all meals, and many of them suggest different soups for fast weight loss, and then maintenance. The theory is that you are getting nutrients and electrolytes from various vegetables, proteins in the form of meats, tofu, etc., along with fiber from the veggies and grains (that you can add once you get to the maintenance phase). And you are taking in fluids, so part of your daily water intake, while you are getting your nutrition from food; their theory is that soup is “one stop shopping” for nutrition in a bowl, which it can be.  But, you need to remember that just like any foods, soups can be healthy because they can be filled with vegetables and lean proteins…but they can also be really high in sodium (salt) content, have heavy fats and creams in them, and be light on vegetables.

The key to a healthy diet is getting varied vitamins and nutrients through your food, and as much as I hate to admit it, humans are creatures of habit, so if we like something (i.e. a certain food) we will tend to eat it more frequently….if you do that with this soup diet, like eating chicken soup morning for every meal, you could be missing some major parts of your diet.

Fresh ramen made from scratch

Fresh ramen made from scratch

You really need to make you own soups; store-bought tend to be high in sodium and fats (from butter or dairy), and if you make your own from scratch, you can control the ingredients and know exactly how healthy and fresh your ingredients are. For example, I don’t eat pre-prepared soups with meat in them, I have no idea where that meat came from, but I can pretty much guarantee that it is not antibiotic and hormone free, so in making your own soup, you will know the source of all your ingredients, which is a great feeling. We made some amazing ramen from scratch incorporating spinach, mushrooms, corn, bamboo, bean sprouts, garlic, fresh noodles, poached eggs, and non-GMO non-MSG Miso (soy paste); we hit most of our major food groups, so it was a pretty well-rounded meal, low on sodium, and literally 1/10th the fat and calories of the ramen in a package! I could eat that every day, but you need to remember to change-up your diet and the soups so that you are getting varied veggies (for different vitamins and nutrients), proteins, grains, and fruits.

It is tough to get key nutrients like calcium and vitamin D through soups, plus many of the other nutrients in the fruits and veggies can cook off when making the soups. I would get bored with eating soup three times a day (seriously, soup for breakfast too? I think putting my morning smoothie in a bowl could count as breakfast soup, right?); wouldn’t you want to just bite into a sandwich or chew on some roughage at some point? But hey, that’s just me!

If you are able to change-up your diet, learn what your nutritional needs are, meet them, and you don’t get bored, I think that it is a valid diet option for someone who might normally not eat a well-balanced, healthy diet. It is labor intensive (making soups all the time), and I would have a tough time sticking to it, but if you really love soup, and are committed to hitting all of your dietary needs by switching up your soup bases (veggies, proteins, and grains), then have at it!

Yours in Good Health

B

Is Quorn Really Healthy?

Many people ask me about Quorn™ and whether I think it’s healthy or not. The first time I heard about it, I had no idea what the person was talking about and had to do some research. Once I looked into it, and started asking around, I realized it is much more popular than I had imagined, and it kind of made me feel like I was living under a rock. I was a little shocked at all the controversy here in the US over this mycoprotein meat substitute though.

from www.quorn.com

from www.quorn.com

What is Quorn™?

Quorn™ is a meat substitute that is a mycoprotein (which merely means it’s a protein from a fungus: think mushrooms). These mycoproteins were first cultivated in the 1950′s-60′s for animal and human feeding, in case there was a shortage of protein availability (I have no idea why this was a huge concern, but apparently it was in some circles.) Thus, the process was created, and proteins were derived from fungus, but it is a created biomass, so it isn’t actually grown in nature, it is created in a lab. The fungus that Quorn™ is made form is not actually a mushroom per say, but it is of the same genus, and it is fermented through a patented technique, and Quorn™ is made. Quorn™ is a high protein, low-fat, low-calorie, and high fiber alternative to meat, that supposedly has the same texture, and similar taste to meat (I haven’t eaten it, but all meats taste differently, so I’m not too sure about that claim.) The Quorn™ product was first sold in the UK in the early 1990′s, the rest of the EU in the late 1990′s, and came to the US in the early 2000′s. Currently you can buy Quorn™ in specialty made food items, or just frozen as itself in which you can add it to your own meals in place of meat.

What is the controversy?

There were three main issues that came to pass when Quorn™ hit the market: it was claiming to be “a mushroom based product”, it was also claiming to be vegetarian but used non-free range eggs (AKA battery eggs) in processing, and there were fears it would cause allergic reactions. The mushroom base allegations, were legitimate in that the proteins are created from a fungus that is not a mushroom, technically, but who wants to read “this is a fungus based product” on their food? I wouldn’t reach for that first, I will be honest with you. But, Quorn™ changed it’s labeling to remove that statement altogether, and it is not described anywhere on the Quorn™ website what it is actually created from (which is in no way a negative, just an interesting side note.) The Quorn™ company worked with the Vegetarian Society to start using free-range eggs, and obtain their seal of vegetarian approval, so while it is not vegan (some products also contain milk), it is considered a vegetarian product. The final claim about allergies, was truly unfounded; there was one asthma attack related to the product, but there are many other products on the market with a much higher allergic reaction rate, such as soy, wheat, etc. Besides the Vegetarian Society, the other claims were made by a competitor in the market, so while they may have had some merit, it was more to give negative press to the product.

Final Verdict?

I have never eaten Quorn™, but I do know many people who do, as an alternative to meat and to decrease their fat and calories in meals. Personally, I stick to lean meats and vegetarian meals, I don’t usually even add tofu to meals because I get protein in other ways, but I think that it is a viable alternative for vegetarians looking to add more protein and for those looking to cut calories. I try to eat a clean diet that is minimally processed, and Quorn™ is clearly a lab created processed food, however, this is something that can be very effective to help with calorie reduction in dieting or for adding lean proteins on the go (if you don’t have time to prepare meals, the high protein pre-packaged ones seem pretty easy.) While I don’t consider it an option or me, I think it is a “healthier” alternative for  those who eat a high fat, high cholesterol diet and are looking to decrease fat and calorie intake. If you eat Quorn™ as a staple, give some  feedback for the rest of the readers!

Yours in Good Health

B

Do You Need a Workout Partner? Be Active Together!

I have a rather hectic schedule, and I work out at times when most of my friends are sleeping (to be honest, when most of the world is sleeping), and my motivation to get out running every day happens to be my dogs. If they don’t want to go out running in the bitter cold at 5am? I basically dig deep with every excuse to get out there, but there are days that I just am dead in the water and I really need some inspiration. For me, and for everyone else who needs that motivation to get out there and either try something new or just have a buddy to workout with, there is actually an app for us: Be Active Together. It’s a dream come true when we are lacking inspiration and motivation!

What is Be Active Together?
It’s an amazing new app, and the goal is to make you healthier by inspiring you and giving you the motivation to work out! Basically you fill out a profile of what activities you like to do, what you level of experience/intensity you work out at, and then you can go ever further and fill out calendar preferences of what days you want to work out, times, and match! The app will match you with someone who works out at a similar intensity with whichever activity you choose to, in your area. Not only does it help you meet people who are interested in the same activities, but it gets you that motivation you need; once you lock in to meet up and work out with someone, you are more likely to do it. There have been many studies showing that people are more apt to stick to health and fitness goals when they have people to meet their goals with, and when they are held accountable. Be Active Together helps you to make yourself accountable: you set a workout “date”, and you then have a reason to be there on time, because if you don’t, you are leaving someone hanging and negatively impacting their workout too, so you better get your butt there! (Just a little friendly pressure to not be a flake and keep the dates you set!) It’s almost like paying for a trainer to hold yourself accountable, except people are choosing to meet up for free!

Step 1: choose your sports/activities

Step 1: choose your sports/activities

 

So many activities to choose from!

So many activities to choose from!

 

Step 2:  scale your level of experience and intensity of your workouts

Step 2: scale your level of experience and intensity of your workouts

For me, who is a runner that knows people run when I do, but I just don’t know them personally, it’s a great app: we can meet when the rest of the world is snoozing, it makes me get out of my warm cozy bed, meet up with another non-gym going runner, and we get it done together! And, you can even meet with people who go to your gym; if you are new to a city, or not but looking for some people with similar healthy interests, this is perfect!

Step 3: Pick your schedule and search for a work out partner!

Step 3: Pick your schedule and search for a work out partner!

 

 

 

It takes commitment to get out there and get in shape, and with Be Active Together, you might just make some new friends in the process of getting fitter AND it just so happens to be one of my favorite things: free! So download, the app, tell me what you think, and let’s all hit those healthy New Years Resolutions!

Yours in Good Health
B

A Risk Factor for Hearing Loss: Being Overweight?

We all know that being overweight can increase your risk of heart disease, stroke, type II diabetes, among other issues, but there is a new health issue associated with being around 20lbs overweight: hearing loss.

"I can't hear you!"

“I can’t hear you!”

What is the deal?
Harvard Nurse Health study, which has followed over 68,000 nurses from 1989-2009 (and actually they still follow tons of nurses, collecting lots of data, in relations to all aspects of our lives) found this connection between hearing loss and being overweight…but there’s a little more to the story. It appears that people with higher Body Mass Index (BMI) numbers, have higher rates of hearing loss. People with a BMI of 30 are 22% more likely than those within the “normal” BMI to have hearing loss, and those with a BMI of 40 are 25% higher at risk. And, because sometimes because a BMI isn’t always totally an accurate measurement of being overweight, they broke it down in another way: if your waist is 34 inches you have a 27% higher rate of hearing loss than those who have a 28 inch waist (or smaller). It makes researchers believe that belly fat is the main risk factor.

(Your BMI is calculated by using your height and weight and the easiest way to calculate it is to use an online BMI calculator, like the one offered for free by the National Institute of Health.)

How does this work?
Researchers are working on finding out how exactly being overweight diminished hearing loss, but there is a really strong link, and it is more prominent in females, granted this study was performed on primarily females, so we can wait for further research before we get too upset about that! While the true relationship of increased weight and hearing loss is not totally known, it is a reality, and we can stay tuned for the details of the pathophysiology!

And, this is just one more reason to get you living that healthy lifestyle and getting fit and keep down that belly fat, so you can hang onto that hearing for as long as possible….along with decrease your risk of heart disease, diabetes, and stroke! So let’s get out and get fit!

Yours in Good Health
B

Already Faltering with Your New Years Resolutions?

I’ve heard of so many people that made these really intense New Years resolutions related to health, fitness, weightless goals, etc. which I give kudos for, and I think is awesome, however some of you all have set yourselves up for failure. Now, I am never someone who will tell you not to shoot for the stars, however, I am a realist, and I want people to make attainable goals, so that you set yourself up for success. Success and feeling positive about a change, is the key to it sticking, so set some goals you can keep up in the dawn of this New Year.

New Year SkyOverzealous weight loss goals?

It’s super easy to put in your head that you can lose 3, 4, 5 lbs a week so you can hit that magic number by the time you take your winter holiday in someplace tropical and warm and you get to wear your bathing suit. The reality is that with working out, and eating a healthier diet to cut down your caloric intake to a safe and healthy level (for most women the lowest you should go is around 1500 calories per day), you should be losing around 1 lb a week for sustainable weight loss. Plus, anyone who has read my blog before knows that I am not a huge fan of people having set weight goals; I truly believe that you should set your goals based on your clothes, and shoot for looking fly in those skinny jeans, as opposed to staring at a number on a scale, which is bound to disappoint some days due to normal weight fluctuations. So don’t get bummed because of a number, feel good because you look awesome in your clothes, and they slip on just a little bit easier now!

Hardcore Workout Regimens:

Making mental commitments to working to 7 days a week, or jumping in with 4am workouts every day when you normally work out at in the evening….or not at all, can also backfire!  Although, this one can go either way; some people feel a total addiction to working out and love that endorphin rush and make a complete life change, which is great, but others can get totally overwhelmed, not get that endorphin rush, and completely give up on their goals or feel like a failure if they can’t hit that mark every day.  So set your goals based on what you actually can add into your life based on your current life schedule with work and life commitments: if you can only get to the gym 5 days a week, or you go some mornings and some afternoons, it should be considered a win! And you do need to be careful about jumping in too fast and over-training, you put yourself at risk for injury, so listen to your body!

Cleanses and other Radical Diet Changes:

People hear about “nutrition” or weight loss fads all the time and decide they are going to do it, because some random celebrity lost 10, 20, 30+ pounds adding/deleting something form their diet.  I know that you all know this is the truth: fad diets don’t work! If you want to change something about your diet to be healthier or lose weight, it needs to be a lifestyle change that you are actually able to commit to and stick with, otherwise it is completely pointless. Do you really want to cut out all sugar from your life? Or do you really want to be vegan? Do you know the implications and you can commit to that? Well then, as long as it’s been well thought out, and what you want to do, I stand behind you and will cheer you on, but don’t make changes because of some silly trend you read about.

The best New Years Resolutions for health and weight loss are those that you can actually attain, and that you feel positive about. Set goals that will make you feel good, and keep you motivated all year long, so next year you can make another goal that will lead you into an even healthier lifestyle! Lifestyle changes take time to get used to, as you are changing learned behaviors and patterns; allow yourself a few mess ups, but get right back at it, and keep positive! Plus, it helps if you have a friend or loved one that supports you and is actually making the changes with you! Plus, there is no rule that you can’t alter a resolution for which you may have set the bar too high…you will meet your goals, just stay positive and set yourself up for success: It’s a New Year, so be a New YOU too!

Yours in Good Health

B

 

Go Nuts Today…and Every Other Day Too!

For ages the adage has always been “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” but a couple of recent studies from Harvard may make us all rethink that saying! Of course, if you have a nut allergy, you can disregard all of this information…because eats nuts will certainly send you right TO the doctor and ostensibly shorten your life span altogether!

How can Nuts Improve your Overall Health?

The studies showed that nut eaters (and for these studies peanuts were considered nuts, even though they are actually legumes, and part of the bean family) who had at least a serving of nuts every day, were much less likely to die of cancer (in general), respiratory disease, and cardiac (heart) disease. And they found that over the 30+ years that the studies were being done, daily nut eaters had a 20% reduced risk of dying than those who did not eat nuts every day. This data came from, as stated earlier, an over 30 year research study assessing the nutritional and health status of over 120,000 Nurses and Physicians starting in 1980. A different study found that eating nuts actually helps to decrease the amount of Low Density Lipoproteins (LDLs) which are also known as the “bad” cholesterol, along with lowering your blood pressure and your blood pressure in response to stressful situations. Eating nuts actually helps to protect your heart by decreasing the circulating bad cholesterol, and decreasing your inflammatory response, which can cause plaques to build up and lead to heart attacks or long-term cardiac disease.

NutsNuts are High in Fat and Fat is Bad?

The studies actually found that people who tend to eat more nuts, had lower incidences of gaining weight during the study periods, because nuts are a perfect blend of protein and fiber which helps to delay absorption and makes you feel full longer. So, as long as you stick to a serving of nuts a day, and try to stick to the unsalted version, you shouldn’t see any weight gain, and the health benefits are astounding! The studies found that all nuts are beneficial, so no nut is considered better than another. So feel good about adding nuts to salads, eating them plain as a snack, putting nut butter on an English muffin/bagel for breakfast (ditch the cream cheese or butter), and try making nut crusted proteins (i.e. chicken or fish) as your main dish for dinner to super protein boost your meals!

Yours in Good Health

B

Snow Storm Safety!

For all those, like me, who are affected by snowstorm storms during the winter, and possibly confined to their homes because of it, I just wanted to drop a reminder a few ways to keep yourself safe:

1. Make sure to get food and some water before the storm hits!  Whatever food you can eat, and plan on possibly losing power, so you may have to eat PB&Js for a couple of days, or canned goods, just make sure that you have enough food to eat and fresh water to drink.  You don’t want to have to go out during the storm (plus, stores won’t be open!)

2. Snow falling can be gorgeous, and you may want to go out for a walk in it, but please do not stray too far out heavy snowfall alone; with poor visibility, it is easy to get lost especially in poor lighting (dusk and nighttime.)

3. The same goes for your animals, off leash, they can easily get lost with poor visibility and poor lighting. If you have small creatures, like mine, they can fall below the snow line, so keeping them on leash ensures their safety. It can also be harder for you to hear them with snowfall and plows around, so you may not be able to visualize them OR hear them. snowpups

4. When shoveling, take breaks: the exercise when shoveling is a lot more exertion than people think, and it is easy to strain muscles and/or exert yourself to the point of heart attack (we see a lot of cardiac arrests during snow storm shoveling).  So please take breaks, and ask for help, or if you have a plow, do a favor for someone who might not be able to shovel themselves out. If you have the means, maybe call a company to help plow you out in heavy snow.

5. Be careful with snow blowers: they can get clogged up, sometimes requiring you to pull out rocks, branches, etc. but make sure that the motor is off and the blade has stopped spinning. There are always some pretty nasty snowblower accidents that come into the Emergency Department every snowstorm! Even though it isn’t as exerting as shoveling, take breaks! Being exhausted and operating any sort of motorized equipment is as unsafe as being under the influence of alcohol, so please be safe and take breaks as you can.

6. If you have chronic medical conditions, or are unwell, have a plan to get to medical assistance if necessary. Emergency Medical Services (EMS) will be up and running, but they need to be safe getting to you, so times may be slightly delayed, and it is something to keep in mind.  If you have someone driving you to the hospital, give yourself ample time and drive slowly and safely to get there. For example, if you are pregnant and due to give birth during a predicted snowstorm: have a plan in place!

7. Please be mindful of driving bans, it’s for your own safety! if you HAVE to drive, for emergency purposes (and no that doesn’t mean you forgot extra wine) be careful and take your time.  Make sure that you have a cell phone, or a way to contact EMS or roadside assistance if you need to, but please use good common sense, you do not want to be one of the statistics.

8. Use common sense, it seems fun to go out and do crazy things in the snow, but temperatures are cold, visibility is low, snow drifts are higher than expected, and transportation can be really difficult. So, if you have to get your crazies out, bring a cell phone and a friend, and let people know what you are up to/when you are going. Especially if you have been drinking to pass the time (remember to eat and to hydrate well!)

9. General winter warning: Don’t go skating on ponds unless it is posted that it is safe to do so. Many times ponds/lakes appear more frozen than they are!

10. To stay healthy? Remember you don’t need a gym to get exercise when you get stir crazy, you can always rock out with some yoga, jumping jacks, burpees, squats, etc. there’s way to keep moving even when confined to your home.

Otherwise, enjoy the snow, have fun, and hopefully you will be able to escape your homes safely soon enough!  Remember: Helping someone out is a good feeling, so if you are fit and have the means (a plow/snow blower/shovel), help someone who might be completely snowed in and unable to get themselves out. Pay it forward and keep it safe!

Yours in Good Health

B

Why Baking from “Scratch” is Key this Holiday Season

I know that it seems like our weekends are filled with holiday parties with friends, family, or at work.  On top of that there is shopping to do, possible holiday travel to plan, and the list goes on and on.  But, inevitably, there will be some cooking or baking that you need to do either as a guest or a host, and I know with limited time it seems like purchasing pre-made or ready to be made (i.e. pre-made mixes) are the winners choice, but are they really?

Just some food for thought (pun totally intended):

Let’s use a box of yellow cake mix as an example, if you were to purchase a $3.45 box of cake mix (that makes one serving and you still need to purchase eggs and oil to make the cake mix into a cake) you get ingredients of: wheat starch, salt, dextrose, Polyglycerols Esters of Fatty Acids, partially hydrogenated soybean oils, maltodextrin, cellulose, artificial flavors, xanthan gum…..and the list goes on.

Standard cake mix

Standard cake mix

If we were to purchase our own flour ($2.46), baking powder ($1.89), and sugar ($2.35) our dry goods would cost a total of:  $6.70.  The ingredients you get for flour: enriched unbleached flour, baking soda: sodium bicarbonate and corn starch, sugar: pure sugar cane.

The winner for price?  It seems worth it to buy everything separately….a little more up front, but you can make more cakes (or whatever you choose to do with those extra dry goods). If we used all our dry product, we have at least 4 cakes worth of dry goods, so its about $1.68/cake. But the real winning point for me? The ingredients! When you bake at home, you know what you are putting into your cake, it may not be the fluffiest or most delicious cake anyone has ever had (on the other hand, it totally might be!) but you know that you made it yourself, which people tend to really appreciate, and you know that the ingredients you used were clean and with as few fillers as possible.

cake from scratch

cake from scratch- all organic!

The winner for time?  Per the directions on a yellow cake mix box, it will take 3 minutes of prep time and 28 minutes (approx) of baking time. For a classic yellow cake from scratch, it will take you 15 minutes of prep time and 25 minutes to bake. It’s basically a wash!

Think about it: we all are trying to be healthier, economically savvy, and all in the limited amount of time we have to spare, so why not make something from scratch that you can feel good about eating yourself, feeding your children, and others because you know what went into it. Plus, it takes no more time than baking from a box. I will tell you, I would rather feast on an ugly looking cake made with clean products rather than one filled with preservatives and other man-made things ANY day!

Yours in Good Health

B