Friday, August 30, 2013

Healthy Vinaigrette

Healthy fats are a critical component of a wholesome diet. Traditional fats like extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil and pasture raised butter have been replaced with modern oils like canola, soybean and safflower. These oils are highly refined, processed and inflammatory. Our bodies don't have enzymes to breakdown these oils as they can not be made by the natural means of pressing, as with olive oil. I tell my clients, oils should come from naturally fatty, oily foods such as olives or coconut.

Unfortunately in today's grocery stores it's hard to come across food made with traditional ingredients. As I tour my clients through the health food stores they are appalled that nearly every salad dressing is made with some form of refined oils. And worse is that these oils are 'organic' which leads people to think they are healthy! I know it's confusing but don't be deceived by food labels, not everything labeled 'organic' is good for you. Canola, soybean, safflower, sunflower, peanut, and corn oils are all refined and contain high amounts of Omega 6 fatty acids that contribute to inflammation throughout the body. You most likely don't buy these or use them for cooking but they sneak they're way into your salad dressings, breads, crackers, cereals, granolas, tortillas, etc.! That's why I call them one of my 'Hidden Ingredients'. Beware of processed foods and always read ingredients!

But low and behold, there is one health food's company that makes their dressings with all the right ingredients! Bragg's Healthy Vinaigrette dressing is one of my all time favorites, made with extra virgin olive oil, apple cider vinegar, honey and spices. Their Ginger and Sesame is an excellent dressing as well, perfect for a Chinese chicken salad! The Braggberry and Hawaiian marinades are good choices as well, mixed with olive oil they make deliciously sweet dressings!And of course, you can always make your own dressing at home. My favorite home-made salad dressings is a Mustard Dill Vinaigrette that will spice up even the most boring of salad greens!

The Recipe
1/4C Rawapple cider vinegar 
3/4C Extravirgin olive oil
1T shallot
1t Dijon mustard
1T nutritional yeast
1 clove garlic
2t fresh dill or 1t dried
1t raw honey
Pinch of sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper

Blend all ingredients together! Refrigerate after using, the oil will separate and harden naturally, so take it out a half hour before using and shake well.

You can't have a healthy salad with a poor dressing so choose Bragg's or make this home-made Mustard Dill dressing! Be sure to schedule your personal Health Food Store Tour with Dani to learn all about the '4 Hidden Ingredients' and be sure they aren't sneaking they're way into your diet!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Nut and Seed Protein Bars

Last night in Fortuna Fitness' Primal Cooking Class I revealed the recipe for the long awaited Nut and Seed Protein Bar! Everybody wants a good bar once and awhile and it's a difficult thing to find one in the stores. Why? Because processed, packaged foods almost always contain one or more of what I call 'The 4 Hidden Ingredients'. Refined sugar, refined oil, refined flour and refined salt. Refined foods are lacking in the nutrients they once contained, are usually acidic, difficult to digest and overall damaging to the body. More on those to come! For now, enjoy these protein bars that are made from nuts and seeds, natural sugars and a boost of protein from the only protein powder I recommend: Tera's Whey! They are an excellent choice for breakfast when you're on the go, an afternoon pick me up or a nice, healthy dessert.

The Recipe
1C flaxseeds
1C walnuts
3/4C sunflower seeds
3/4C pumpkin seeds
1/2C hemp seeds
4 scoops Tera’s Whey Protein powder (vanilla flavored)
1/2C coconut oil
1/2C maple syrup
1T vanilla extract

1. Grind the flaxseeds either in a coffee grinder or a high speed blender. They need to be ground finely. Then add to a mixing bowl.
2. Grind walnuts finely, then sunflower seeds, then pumpkin seeds and add to flaxseeds in the bowl.
3. Add hemp seeds (no need to grind these) and 4 scoops of the protein powder and mix thoroughly.
4. Heat coconut oil until softens, mix with maple syrup and vanilla extract.
5. Fold into the nut mix slowly and mix in thoroughly, you may need to add water until you get the consistency of bread dough. Start with a few spoonfuls of water and increase to 1/4C as needed.
6. Line an 8x8 glassware baking dish with parchment paper and press the ‘nut dough’ using a spatula or your hands. If you don't have parchment paper lining the pan with coconut oil will work just fine.
7. Bake at 300° for 30 minutes. If you desire them to be more crisp then leave them for another 10 minutes, watching so they don’t burn.

There are so many variations to making these bars. Use different flavored Tera's Whey, like chocolate or vanilla. You can use honey in place of maple syrup, choosing local and raw honey so you get the most benefits. You can add cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice. Replace walnuts with almonds and then add almond extract! The possibilities are endless! Add raisins or goji berries, maybe even some dark chocolate chips to make these bars a special treat!

These bars are so delicious they'll probably disappear in  no time but if you don't think you'll finish them up in 2-3 days then be sure to freeze half the batch for later as they don't keep long. Thanks Fortuna Fitness and everyone who came out to our cooking class last night! Stay tuned for out next Primal Cooking Class at the end of the month!