Monday, December 22, 2014

Paleo Gingerbread

Here's one of my favorite holiday recipes. I try to mix it up between the 'traditional' baking and the 'healthier' options. This paleo gingerbread is incredibly rich and moist with many Christmas flavors in it - it fills the house with the smells of orange, ginger and cloves. It's amazing. The recipe is a little complex with the number of ingredients but is really simple to make.

Paleo gingerbread

1 large orange
1/2 cup candied ginger
1 1/2 cups pitted dates
1 cup cranberries
1/2 cup walnuts
2 cups almond meal
1 cup coconut flour
1/2 cup honey
2 tbsp molasses
1 tbsp vanilla
1 tsp sea salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 teaspoon each ground ginger, cloves and allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 cup coconut oil
2 eggs
*1/2 cup plain full fat yogurt (OPTIONAL! If you are a strict paleo use 1/2 cup applesauce and add a 1/2 cup more almond flour)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Prepare 8 x 8 inch baking pan by coating lightly with oil and dusting with flour. Set aside.

Cut orange in half. Squeeze juice from full orange and reserve in 1 cup measuring cup. To orange juice add molasses and vanilla. Add enough yogurt to make one full cup. Set aside.

Place orange rinds in bowl of food processor along with ginger, dates, cranberries and walnuts. Pulse until chunky paste results. Set aside.

In medium bowl measure flours, baking soda and powder, sea salt and spices. Mix together well. Set aside.

In large bowl combine eggs, honey and coconut oil. Beat well for 3 minutes. Add yogurt/orange juice mixture and beat another 3 minutes.

Add flour mixture to egg mixture and beat until smooth. Fold in processed fruit and nut mixture and gently mix until just combined.

Pour mixture into prepared 8 x 8 baking pan.

Bake at 350 for 40-45 minutes. Test cake with toothpick to make sure it is baked all the way through.

Remove from oven and let cool before cutting.

Dr. Anna Falkowski HBSc, ND
Naturopathic Doctor, Clinic Director
Twitter: @NaturoDoctor
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Sunday, December 14, 2014

Christmas treats get a VEGAN/Paleo yummy and guilt-free

After finishing a really hard and dedicated fitness and nutrition regime I decided I wasn't going to ruin it over Christmas by allowing excess sugars, flour and unhealthy fats back into my life, so I decided to swap out a few holiday treats for healthier version. I got this idea on Pinterest, and just changed a few ingredients around to get these amazing little vegan cheesecakes that look AND taste scrumptious. Seriously, these are such a hit, and the fact that you can create your own flavors to satisfy those different cravings and family members is a real bonus. My husbands comment was 'why are they so small', meaning he was hoping for a larger portion (awesome!). The lemon zest really gives it a nice zing. The consistency is between a cheesecake and mousse. It is quite light.

For the crust:
-1 cup raw almonds
-1 cup dates (soaked 10min in hot water then drained)
-pinch of sea salt

throw all ingredients into food processor and turn on high until the nuts form a meal and the whole thing starts to form together - if it's too dry, add extra dates of a little water. Press 1 Tbsp into greased muffin tin lined with a strip of parchment (so that you can pull the tabs to remove them later)

For the batter:
-3 cups unsalted cashews, soaked overnight, drained and rinsed
-3/4 cup coconut cream (put a can of full-fat coconut milk into the fridge overnight, open and remove the firm cream - keep the coconut water for another use like a smoothie)
-1/2 cup honey (or maple syrup of vegan)
-1/2 cup melted coconut oil
-juice of one lemon (squeezed)
-zest of one lemon
-pinch of salt

Put all into the food processor (or blender) and blend until smooth. Pour the batter onto each crust. Now the fun begins - select your flavor. You can use raspberries, blueberries, peanut butter or caramel. I tried a little of everything. For caramel, you can make your own or use store bought - add 1 tsp and swirl it through. For peanut butter use natural and add 1 tsp and swirl through gently. For Blueberries I put a few frozen berries into the batter and swirled through. Now put them into the freezer to set (at least one hour). Remove using a butter knife and store in a tupperware in the freezer and use as needed. Can serve frozen OR thawed for 10 min. ENJOY!!
The original recipe/idea was taken from this Pinterest recipe.

Dr. Anna Falkowski HBSc, ND
Naturopathic Doctor, Clinic Director
Twitter: @NaturoDoctor
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Why I don't recommend consuming an abundance of fruit!

When I ask my patients how their veggie intake is, I often get the response ''I don't get a lot of veggies in my diet but don't worry I eat a lot fruit''. The requirement for fruit in the diet is still a huge misconception! I realize that the food pyramid still puts vegetables and fruits together on the chart, but let's clear this all up right now.
Although fruit (can) be a part of a healthy diet for (active) individuals (particularly around workouts), fruit is full of an undesirable sugar called 'fructose''.

What is fructose? Fructose is a sugar found primarily in fruits and high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) - a sweetener found in pop, candy and commercially prepared baked goods. Unlike glucose (which can be used as energy by the bodies cells in tissues such as the muscles, brain AND liver, fructose can ONLY be metabolized by the liver (because it requires an enzyme called fructokinase, which is only found in the liver, to turn it into glycogen, which can be used by the body as energy).
Fructose also does not cause insulin to be released, and therefore does not stimulate the release of the hormone LEPTIN (your satiety hormone which tells the body you've had 'enough') - leading to cravings and an overall increase in caloric intake! Not great for weight-loss! Fructose seems to be more 'lipogenic' than glucose (or ''fat-producing'') for these reasons - once the liver stores of glycogen are full (which doesn't take very long due to it's small capacity for storage), the rest turns into fat. For these reasons, there is concern for high intakes of dietary fructose (not only from processed sources, but also from FRUIT!).

My recommendation? Limit your fruit intake to one serving in your smoothie (one cup of berries or 1/2 banana) or if you are active, you can have a serving pre and post workout (because it will be used by the body as energy, not stored as fat).
I also recommend offering different snack choices to children - we often go to fruit because they like the sweetness and it gets them to eat, but we need to switch it up and offer them healthier choices like proteins and health fats (see my power balls recipe for a quick snack idea). I hope that clears up some of the misconception about fruit, and I hope that it gets you reaching for a different snack option during the day!

Dr. Anna Falkowski HBSc, ND
Naturopathic Doctor, Clinic Director
Twitter: @NaturoDoctor
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Sunday, December 7, 2014

My Reflections on completing my latest challenge!

So yesterday was my FINAL day doing the 'Four weeks to Fab' program by Rita Catolino and I wanted to write about it while it was still fresh in my mind. This was an intense 5 weeks, and anything this intense is going to have it's peaks and valleys, and I think because of the difficulty, it makes the experience that much sweeter and fulfilling. Anytime you tackle something that requires a great deal of dedication, discipline and hard work you learn a great deal about yourself - your strengths and weaknesses. I have to say that I'm incredibly proud of myself, I'm inspired and rejuvenated, and I feel on 'fire' with ideas. I think every woman/mother should have an experience that forces themselves to set a moment in the day aside for them. This program forced me to plan my exercise (and fit it into my family schedule) and plan my meals (which often differed from what the family was eating) and in the end I grew stronger because of it (thus instilling the importance of looking after oneself. Ok I'm rambling, but here is a summary of what I learned, experienced, or was simply reminded of:
1. Sugar is the MOST addictive substance known to man. I was not eating a high sugar diet prior to the program, but removing all desserts and sweet things was HARD. We run to sweet flavors for comfort, and this habit is a hard one to break. One thing I didn't plan on seeing was how great my skin looked by the end - no hormonal breakouts, no dull complexion - my skin was glowing if I do say so myself, and I'm pretty sure it was 95% from removing sugars (in the form of sugar, grains, fruits, breads, pastas etc). And yes, cutting sugars (in all forms) helps with weight-loss and puts you in fat-burning mode, when replaced with protein and healthy fats!
2. I was reminded that it takes more than a few days to break a habit and retrain the body. To be precise, it took a good 3 weeks to stop craving carbohydrates....3 WEEKS!! I realize now that often patients that struggle with giving up gluten/dairy/sweets may be giving up too quickly, and it's up to me to remind them that it can take 21 days!
3. PROTEIN provides consistent energy. We need it routinely throughout the day. Most women don't get enough, and even i was not getting enough.
4. WATER is awesome. You need to drink it, lots of it. BUT you can make it into tea. I drank tonnes of rooibos/green/white/herbal tea to total 3-4 L of clear liquid daily. My skin looked great and I had energy. Your bladder gets used to it, but yes you will be making trips to the loo more than you're used to!
5. Lifting weights is an amazing workout, that propels your metabolism to new levels. Working your large muscle groups (like legs) burns a tonne of calories, and forces the body to look for fuel - this allows you to eat more carbohydrates without it landing along the waistline!
6. Not all carbohydrates are equal. Gluten-free grains and sweet potato don't cause inflammation in the body like wheat, pasta, bread, crackers and excess fruit do. Your body looks and feels better with the first choices, and your energy stays consistent.
7. Everyone is an individual. Not all diets work the same way in every person, and there's no ONE diet that's the best/perfect one. Although we know a lot about healthy diets, we still need to consider how the person feels on it, and support them or modify the diet to meet their needs (I for example struggled with removing all seeds, and had to use them as fiber to offset the effects of so much protein). I found the balance and all was good!
8. When something is important to you, you'll make the time for it, plan for it and incorporate it. No excuses. I had to get creative - wake up early, plan the night before etc. It means bringing the family on board so that they know your goals and what you're trying to achieve. It makes them more understanding and supportive.
9. You need support. Although I help others on a daily basis, I would have never 'coached' myself through this challenge. It's always nice to have someone to lean on, and someone to throw ideas off of.
10. If you think you know everything, then your life is going to be boring. I love to learn from others, and get a different perspective on things. My perspective on nutrition comes from a naturopathic perspective. By reaching out to someone who is an expert in THEIR field (fitness), I've taken my knowledge to a new level, and have gained AMAZING experience that I can now share with others. NEVER stop learning!
11. Feeling STRONG gives you confidence, inside and out. It's a step towards something bigger for many people - I saw this transformation in the other women doing the program, which brings me to my final point...
12. Surround yourself with people who raise you higher...that cause you to think bigger, to reach for your goals, and who cheer you on while you do it. This is imperative. This may be family, a friend, or a stranger you met doing the same program! Find those people, and you will succeed.

I feel very fortunate to do the work I do, and I can't stress enough how much a healthy lifestyle plays a role in your overall health.  There's day I feel that I should just call myself a lifestyle coach because that's how important it is. I would love to come into everyone's kitchen, stock their pantries full of healthy foods, and tell them all about the importance of moving their bodies. Maybe one day I will:)
But for now, I'm left with many new ideas, and the creative side of me is already concocting a new program for the many women who's lives I want to touch - for all the moms that want more energy and to look and feel fabulous. I can't wait to see where my ideas take me, and I'm hoping to share them with you in the near future!

Dr. Anna Falkowski HBSc, ND
Naturopathic Doctor, Clinic Director
Twitter: @NaturoDoctor
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