Sugar, Spice, and Everything Nice

What do you want your food to taste like?

Sugar Free, Gluten Free, Waffles – flavored with bananas, peanut butter, and nuts!

While this blog is intended to address sugar + sugar substitutes, the main question I want to address first is “What do you want your food to taste like?”

There are so many things right from this earth – whether plant or animal based- that your food could taste like. Do you want your steak to taste like beef, or like bbq? Do you want your poultry to taste like chicken or more flavorful like curry? Do you want your stack of breakfast pancakes and waffles to taste like pancakes and waffles, or do you want them to taste like straight sweet sugars? Do you want your cookies to taste like a dessert with decadent flavors or taste like straight, ultra sweetened sugars?

Whether a full meal that been marinating for days, or snacks to fill your appetite, or desserts served at a party, I want you to really think about the question What do you want your foods to taste like? smell like? look like?

Making salad taste like lemon, garlic, onion, and dill without any sugars or dressings.

When you sit down to write out your meals, your snacks, you dishes to pass, and/or your baked goods you are preparing, really think about that question: what do you want it to taste like? How can you make it taste like that? Let’s talk about it by categories. Don’t worry, we will get to the idea of baking and using sugars.

But first, let’s talk meals. Salads, sides, soups, marinades, proteins and more. If you’ve ever seen my cooking with the coach video on how to make dips, dressing, marinades and more – you know I can help you make your food taste like anything. With the right oils + vinegars + spices, you can make your food concoctions taste like anything at all.

Making dressings, marinades, sauces, spices, flavorings in my house hold always looks like a science lab of mixed-concoctions, or a cocktail bar gone wrong – whichever way you see it. I usually start by just mixing until things taste good. I don’t always have a recipe. I don’t always have reason or rhyme to my mad scientist mood in the kitchen. Vinegars. mustards, liquid aminos, lemon/lime are all healthy on our gut so adding them to your salads, poultry, meats, won’t add bloat or inflammation to your body.

For example, for a sweet, yet spicy dressing you can easily use olive oil + lemon/lime juice + apple cider vinegar + a hot spice such as cayenne. For a more balsamic like taste you can simply use an oil base + balsamic vinegar + lemon/lime + cracked peppers/spices of your choice. You really do NOT need to add real or fake sugars to your dressings to taste good. Bottled dressings in the store add it for that very “addictive” behavior selling point.

Should your meal taste like curry – use curry. Should it taste like Italian dishes – use oregano, Italian seasoning, garlic. Should it taste spicy – use spice of your choice. Should your sloppy joes taste like a tomato base – use tomato products. Should your ketchup taste more like tomatoes and vinegar than sugar? Use tomatoes and vinegar. Overall, the question remains: does the food really need sugar to taste like what YOU want it to taste like?

Dish to pass with a homemade dijon dressing to make the salad taste amazing!

Even if your bottles of dressing labels indicate gluten free, non-GMO, organic cane sugars, they are still sugars. Our bodies do not need sugars in every dressing and marinade out there. If you want your salads and proteins to taste a specific way, there are always options to either purchase sugar free dressings and/or make them homemade. My absolute favorite is a honey or dijon dressing, but I have many more. You can always find my recipes in my book or my cooking with the coach series featured in my wellness workshops.

So, when planning and making your next dish to pass, really think about what you want it to taste like and go for that flavor. Don’t kill the flavor with sugar. It’s not an absolute need.

Let’s move onto sweets and baking!

This was a dish to pass at a Christmas Themed Apres-Ski Stretch class. Made completely out of nuts and coconut, it’s all the flavor with none of the sugars.

Let’s talk about snacks and baking. When it comes to snacks, baking, or just craving sweets, my first suggestion will always be to think back to the question of what you are craving and what you want it to taste like? Like, are you craving sugar or craving chocolate? Are you craving sugar or are you craving something peanut-butter flavor? Are you craving an oatmeal cookie with raisins, or craving the sugars in that cookie?

Then, you move onto the question of how can you satisfy that craving without the actual sugar? How can sweeten things with natural sugar options? Let’s start a small list:

Craving Chocolate: cacao powder or cacao nibs
Craving Sugary Peanut Butter such as reeses: natural nut butters without sugars
Craving Cookies: creating a recipe with oat flour, oats, cacao nibs, nuts are a great option! Lots of sugar free cookies, energy bites, and muffins recipes in my book and nutrition plan!

This “Energy Bite” recipe alone has chocolate, peanut butter, nuts, and can easily have dried fruits/dates to satisfy cravings of all sorts.

Moving onto other ways of satisfying the sweet tooth naturally. Natural sugar options would include, but not limited to using bananas, apples or applesauce, fruit purees, seeds, nuts, raisins or other ideas. Natural, but significantly more dense calorie options would include honey, agave, molasses, or maple syrup. These ones are very dense in natural sugars, so a little bit will go a long way. Other sweetener options, but also very calorie dense would be dried fruits (unsweetened, not sugar coated) or dates. Again, they are dried, dehydrated sugars, thus still very dense in sugar calories. A little bit will go a long way. All of these options would add a touch healthy, natural sugar sweetness to what you are baking. They can easily substitute/replace white or brown sugars.

Also while baking and/or making sweets – if you come back to the question “What do you want it to taste like?” If you are aiming for specific flavors like chocolate or peanut butter, you actually don’t need sugar replacements at all. For your chocolate cravings, cacao or cacao nibs works wonders. Straight peanuts or peanut butter without added sugars is a very healthy fat and absolutely okay to bake with.

But then the question remains – “how much of these replacements do I use?” That’s a great concern. In one of the chapters of my cookbook, I talk about how when I actually cook solo, I don’t measure anything. I do what I call “measure with my heart.”

For Josh’s birthday, I made him chocolate chip cookies with very little sugar. And, I made myself gluten free, sugar free, chocolate chip cookies. The recipe called for 1 cup of white sugar, 1 cup brown sugar. Wetook2 cup of white sugar. I literally took the sugar content down to 25% of what it called for. How much sweeteners you need to add depends on what you want it to taste like.

To be honest, when it comes down to using sugar or sugar replacements in baking, the sugar isn’t actually serving any specific purpose. I mean, when you think about baking soda, baking powder, yeast, self rising flours – these have purpose. You really cannot mess with those measurements or your baking items may not rise or settle correctly. But sugar: what’s it’s purpose in the baking? Taste, that’s it. And, back to our original question – what do you want it to taste like?

How sweet, how sour, how spicy you want something to taste answers the question of how much or how little of the replacement sugar item you should use. You can use sugar substitutes exactly as the amount originally suggested, or you can scale it back to meet the sweetness you want.

Let’s take the oatmeal muffins from my cookbook for example. The oats and the eggs are the main ingredients that make it bake. How much banana, fruit, nuts, flavorings you use is dependent on what you want it to taste like.

So, when it comes to sugar, spice and everything nice – you are chef. You get to decide what you’re adding, when you’re adding it, and how much or how little. You can decide if you want to eliminate it all together. Try eliminating it. You may find that your cookies taste even more decadent like the flavors you are striving for. You may find that your creamy chicken salads really taste like good chicken instead of processed items.

If you’ve read this far and have any questions about sugar, recipes, what to eat, how to eat, I’d LOVE to help you. Follow along with many other of my food concoctions and #Saladaday posts on my social media.

Managing Your Metabolic Rate & Weight Loss

If you look at these words “metabolic rate” and you wonder what that means, you’ve arrived to the right place. And, please, by all means, don’t feel like metabolic rate is strictly related to weight loss. Weight loss, weight gain, or weight maintenance – or no concerns to your weight at all – we should all be a tad bit familiar with how metabolic rate impacts our body and our energy levels.

But hey, maybe weight and calories mean nothing to you or you’re not wanting to be too obsessive about them. That’s okay! Let’s just talk about energy we take in, how well we burn it, and what’s left over.

Metabolic Rate is the rate in which your body burns calories. Some people have a very fast metabolic rate (metabolism), while others have a slower rate of burning. Some people fall in between and can maintain weight really easily. An individual with lower metabolic rate probably gains weight easily, while one with higher metabolic rate struggles to maintain weight. Both situations can become frustrating and dangerous.

Majority of my followers/readers come to me in search of help to manage their weight in a weight loss sense. Thus, majority of this blog addresses the manners in which we can IMPROVE our metabolic rate in order to achieve the weight we are striving for or manage the weight in which we are currently at.

If you are feeling “Stuck” with poor or slower metabolic rate, we’re going to talk about the various ways in which you can improve your metabolic rate. Later in this blog we will address the components of weight loss. Keep reading.

How can you improve your metabolic rate in five steps:

  1. Become educated on what metabolism is and YOUR BODY
  2. Know that your metabolic rate involves your ENTIRE body: brain, breathe, organs, muscle fibers, fat cells. You have to be willing to work your brain, practice breathing techniques, have healthy functions organs (liver, kidneys, gut, intestines, digestive system), strive for muscle gains, and work towards eliminating fat.
  3. Understand the three main ways to BURN calories: basic life functioning, breaking down food, and physical activity.
  4. Apply the strategies listed in the weight loss lists and chart below.

Let’s chat about the rumor that our metabolism slows down as we age. For women specifically, we hear that our metabolism slows down after kids, during/after menopause, and as we age. Is this true? Sure, it is true. There are a few things can slow our metabolic rate. But, let’s be stronger than these obstacles. Let’s learn about these obstacles and overcome them.

Top there components that slow your metabolic rate:

  1. Inactivity – your resistance to exercise, your hesitation to move your body, your excuses of “why” you cannot even go out walking slows your metabolic rate. But you can overcoming this obstacle by getting up and MOVE your body. Every. Darn. Day.
  2. Poor Nutrition Choices – choosing crash diets, skipping meals, or cutting out a certain macro will slow your metabolism. Because your metabolic rate involve the brain, muscles, organs, and fat cells – you do need all three macro components. You need the correct meals each day. Cutting these out slows the metabolism and halts your metabolic rate.
  3. Inconsistency – choosing to only apply these strategies a few days a week isn’t enough. You need consistency EVERY DAY for SEVERAL days/weeks/months in a row. Once you find a program or coach that does work for you, you probably need to stick to this for 18+ months in order to keep that consistency and maintain a healthy metabolic rate for the long haul.

Where does weight loss come into play?

Being that metabolic rate is relevant to how you burn the calories you eat, that plays a huge role in weight loss. Everyone will tell you that weight loss is “easy” and “just a calorie deficit” and “eat less.” Absolute myth. Not true. Weight loss is so much more than eating in a calorie deficit.

The list above is also show in a pie chart below. These are the 8 components; these are the 8 pieces of the pie that I believe are the most crucial to weight loss. Without one, you cannot complete the pie. You really do need to work towards all 8 pieces for optimal success.

In the list above, and in the pie chart I have given them a number order of what I believe to be the most crucial, to the lesser of importance.

Let’s talk about these.

#1 Relationship with Yourself + Self Belief – if you believe you can achieve the body/weight/look/health you want, you absolutely can do it. But you must first believe, see, visualize, and then DO. This takes a solid relationship with yourself and healthy dose of self belief.

#2 Sleep – This is where we lack the most organization and value to our weight loss journey. But remember back to metabolic rate where I said our internal organs and digestive systems has a play. We need to give our internal time to recover, and regenerate before expecting to work all day. Without sleep, our body cannot even work enough to have a high metabolic rate in order to burn calories. So, give your body the rest it deserves and it will work for you during the day.

#3 Hydration – again, brain, breath, organs, muscle fibers – they cannot work properly and in a correct metabolic rate without water. Drink your water.

#4 Nutrition – this goes without saying and explaining. And, if you’re confused about nutrition, we really need to chat about the Nail Down Your Nutrition Program + Coaching.

#5 Physical Activity – exercise not only burns calories during the minutes in which you are you moving, but keeps your heart and blood system working throughout the day for higher calorie burn. For weight management, 30 minutes a day will be sufficient. For weight loss, 60 minutes a day is ideal. Not sure where to start with the activity, let’s chat about my Actively Ageless program for workouts all all abilities.

#6 Behaviors: Affirmations, Tracking, Portion, Discipline – This in itself could be an entire blog. But, your behaviors play a part. Behaviors are how you speak to yourself, how you track your foods, how you portion your macros, your discipline to stick to a workout calendar, your discipline to follow a nutrition plan. Behaviors also include giving up some indulgences such as alcohols, breads, sweets, pastries and so much more. Behaviors also include your consistency that we mentioned above.

#7 Community – You absolutely can achieve goals by yourself. But statistics and experiences demonstrate that the ladies in virtual or in person communities are more like to DO + Follow through with what they talk about. Without a community, it is easy to just talk talk talk. But, once you say it to someone in a community (our virtual facebook groups), you will do + follow through.

#8 Effort – If you have ever taken one of my spin or cardio classes, you hear me talk about effort levels in percentages, but also in score 1-10. I always ask for a 7, 8, 9, or 10. If you are really really really dedicated to your weight loss, I am asking for a level 10 effort – all in. To become all in, I highly suggest printing this blog. Having the list / pie chart in a visible place. Highlight these top 8 components of weight loss and bring them to life.