Monthly Archives: September 2015

Say Goodbye to Dairy: How to Make Coconut Milk

If you’ve been paying attention to the health industry at all, it’s highly likely that you’ve seen that non-dairy milks are all the rage right now. Everything from coconut milk to almond milk to oat milk to rice milk is popping up on grocery shelves across the country. These non-dairy options are a great alternative to cow’s milk, especially for those who are lactose intolerant or sensitive to dairy for other reasons.

The only problem with these milks (well, aside from the fact that store-bought versions are more costly than a gallon of cow’s milk) is that some of them are loaded with artificial ingredients that make you wonder whether they’re really a healthy choice or not.

Sure, if you’re sensitive to dairy, swapping cow’s milk for any of the alternatives will probably make you feel better, but wouldn’t it be nice if you could have the milk without the additives? Luckily, you can – and it’s really simple: make your own!

Now before you go running off, hear us out. Making your own milks is really easy (almost ridiculously easy) and you’ll save a TON of money over buying them in store. We can get 4 to 8 cups of coconut milk from an 8 ounce bag of shredded coconut depending on how thick it is. That translates to $0.27 to $0.53 per cup compared to around $1.36 per cup when you buy it in the box.

Two of our favorites – and two of the easiest to make – are coconut milk and almond milk. Today, we’re going to start with showing you how to make coconut milk and then we’ll advance into almond milk, which is only a fraction more time-consuming due to soaking of the nuts.

coconut milk2

What You’ll Need:

  • One cup of shredded coconut
  • Two cups heated (not boiling) water

What To Do:

Put coconut and water in a blender and blend for a few minutes. Strain the mixture through a nut bag or a cheesecloth in a pitcher. That’s IT!

If you want, you can even play with these measurements until you reach your desired level of thickness. Sometimes we’ll even put the strained coconut pulp back into the blender with another half of a cup of water and blend it then strain it again.

Not So Natural: Why You Should Avoid High Fructose Corn Syrup

A lot of people, especially those who work for food manufacturers who use a lot of high fructose corn syrup, will say that high-fructose corn syrup is just like any other sweetener – that there is no reason to avoid it, especially since it comes from corn, which is healthy, right? While all of this sounds nice, it doesn’t line up with the scientific studies, which say that when consumed in excess high fructose corn syrup can do a number on your health.

HFCS

What is High Fructose Corn Syrup?

Sure, you’ve heard about it, but what is high fructose corn syrup, or HFCS, exactly? HFCS is a liquid sweetener that contains a mixture of glucose and sucrose, two different types of sugar. Developers started working on the creation of HFCS in the 1950s, but it wasn’t fully introduced to the food and beverage industry until the 1970s. Now, HFCS accounts for 40 percent of the calorie-containing sweeteners that are added to the food and beverage supply in America. HFCS is significantly sweeter than sucrose (or regular ol’ table sugar), so manufacturers can use less – and save money in the process.

How HFCS is Hurting Your Health

Although the manufacturers of HFCS, which they also like to call natural corn sugar for dramatic effect, like to think that HFCS and regular sugar are processed the same way in the body, that’s not the case. The chemical bond in sucrose is a lot stronger than the chemical bond in HFCS. Because of this, the HFCS is more rapidly absorbed by your body. This means it enters your bloodstream more quickly, causing spikes in glucose and insulin, putting you on a risky path toward type II diabetes. HFCS also goes right to your liver, triggering a process called lipogenesis – or the creation of triglycerides and cholesterol. Too much HFCS can also lead to “fatty liver” – a condition affecting more than 70 million Americans.

Of course, like any other sweetener, consuming too much HFCS can easily put you over your calorie needs for the day. As you know from our previous blog post, over time, excessive calorie consumption can lead to weight gain. It’s not just that, though. An animal study published in Pharmacology, Biochemistry and Behavior in 2010, reported that male rats who were given water sweetened with HFCS had more significant increases in visceral fat – the fat around the stomach – than male rates who were given water sweetened with sugar. This is important because having a lot of visceral fat increases the risk of developing heart disease, high blood pressure, type II diabetes, and certain types of cancer.

Another reason to avoid HFCS – one that really doesn’t have anything to do with the sweetener itself – is that the foods that contain HFCS are often highly-processed and lacking in nutrients. If you see HFCS on an ingredient label, you can almost be sure that there are better choices out there.

So what do you think? Do you look for high-fructose corn syrup on the label? Do you avoid foods that contain it?

Creating a Calorie Deficit — Your Key to Weight Loss

When it comes to weight loss, there are many different diets, cleanses, exercise programs, etc. that you could try (and probably yield a positive from), but in the end, it all comes down to one thing: calories. It doesn’t matter what type of diet you’re following – even if it’s the healthiest diet in the world – if you’re eating too many calories, you won’t lose weight. To lose weight successfully, you’ll need to create a calorie deficit, which happens when you burn more calories than you take in.

What is a Calorie?

Since we’re on the subject, it would make sense to define what a calorie actually is. A calorie is the amount of energy (heat) required to raise the temperature of one kilogram of water one degree Celsius. This might not mean much to you, but it’s how your body runs, and luckily, your body helps you out by using (or burning) calories whenever it needs to change the temperature of the water in your body to help perform a specific task. But enough about that, let’s get back to what this has to do with weight loss.

Energy Balance

Energy balance is a state when the amount of calories (or energy) you’re taking in is in perfect harmony with the amount of calories (or energy) you’re expending, or burning off. In a state of neutral energy balance, your weight remains the same. A positive energy balance occurs when you eat more calories than you burn. If your body is in a positive energy balance for too long, you’ll gain weight. A negative energy balance – and the goal for weight loss – occurs when you regularly burn off more calories than you take in.

 

 

 

VM Balance

 

A negative energy balance is also referred to as a calorie deficit. To lose weight, you’ll need to sustain a calorie deficit for weeks, months, or years – depending on how much weight you want to lose. Of course, there’s a science to this too. One pound is equal to 3,500 calories. This means to lose one pound per week, you’ll need to create a calorie deficit of 3,500 each week. To lose two pounds per week, you’ll have to bump up this deficit to 7,000 calories weekly.

How Do You Create a Calorie Deficit?

Well, we’re glad you asked. You can create a calorie deficit – or put yourself in a negative calorie balance – with cutting out calories from your diet, increasing your exercise, or a combination of both (which is ideal due to the added benefits of exercise, like lowered cholesterol, decreased heart disease risk, and increased oxygenation to the body).

Figuring Out Your Calories

The amount of calories you need each day just to sustain your normal body functioning varies based on your age, sex, height, and activity level. There are a couple different equations nutrition experts use to figure out how many calories someone should take in to sustain, lose, or gain weight, but we’re going to skip over the math and make it easier for you by directing you to this calorie calculator. Just plug in your stats and get your numbers. It will tell you how many calories you need to maintain and lose weight.

Once you know exactly how many calories you need to lose weight, you’re ready to put a plan into action — and that’s where we come in! We can help you develop a program to change your “before” into an “after”, just like these clients.

Just a Reminder

Successful and sustainable weight loss takes time and patience. It’s not an overnight quick fix. In fact, most nutrition experts define “healthy weight loss” as one to two pounds per week. Of course, you may lose more depending on your body mass and how much weight you have to lose, but it’s never a good idea to severely restrict your calories or workout excessively. Make sure that your calorie intake doesn’t fall under 1,200 calories per day and that you’re working out responsibly – 30 minutes five times per week is a great place to start.

The Best Diet? One You Can Stick To.

Walk into any bookstore and you’ll see an entire section dedicated to diets and weight loss. Ask 10 different people who were successful with their weight loss goals and you’ll probably get 10 different answers about what worked for each one. There’s the vegan camp and the paleo camp; the low-carbers and the low-fatters; the raw foodies and the juice cleansers – so how can you narrow it down and figure out which diet works for you? Well, the answer may be simpler than you think. The best diet for you is the one you can stick to.

diet

Research shows that there’s really no “magic trick” to losing weight. Many popular diet plans result in weight loss, reduced cholesterol, and healthier insulin levels when adhered to for a few months; however, when diet participants are followed for a year, there seems to be a pattern where compliance goes out the window and much of the lost weight comes back. So how can you prevent this dreaded yo-yo dieting?

Find a diet plan that works for you. For most, it’s all about moderation. If you choose a diet that eliminates all sources of carbohydrates, think to yourself “will I be able to follow this for a year or more?”. Sure, the dramatic weight loss claims can pull you in – and many of these diets are successful on delivering on these claims – but what’s the point in losing 10 pounds in two weeks if you can’t keep it off for more than a month?

Here are some tips for choosing the right diet plan for you:

  • Pull from several different types of diets to create something that fits into your cultural and personal preferences.
  • Find support. Whether it’s from family, friends, or a supportive weight loss clinic like Valley Medical, support is key. Although it’s helpful to find someone who has the same goals as you, you don’t have to be following the same diet plan to provide a source of support for each other.
  • Eat a variety of food choices – lean proteins, fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, healthy fats. The key to avoiding boredom is to keep things fresh. Healthy food doesn’t mean bland food.
  • Adapt to the seasons. Part of the fun of the changing seasons is the seasonal foods that become available. Allow your diet to adapt as the seasons change. This is another way to keep it fresh and interesting.

Have you found a diet plan that works for you? If so, what are your best tips for sticking to it for the long-term?

Beyond Green: Five Teas That Can Help Boost Weight Loss

Beyond Green: Five Teas That Can Help Boost Weight Loss

You’ve probably heard by now that green tea – which is one of the most popular teas in the world – can help promote weight loss and reduce belly bloat. This is largely due to one of the main antioxidants in green tea called EGCG, or epigallocatechin gallate.

EGCG not only helps you fight off free radicals – and the chronic diseases, like heart disease and cancer, that can develop from their damage – it also helps boost your metabolism so that you’re able to burn more fat and calories (and lose more weight).

Although green tea is the most well-known and the most talked about, it’s not the only weight loss tea on the block. These other teas can also help boost metabolism, help you burn fat, and increase your energy levels.

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Oolong

Oolong, which means “black dragon” in Chinese, is loaded with catechins, substances that help boost your body’s ability to metabolize fats specifically. A study published in the Chinese Journal of Integrative Medicine found that participants who regularly sipped oolong tea over a six-week period lost an average of six pounds – that’s one a week! Oolong tea can also help reduce cholesterol levels. After 6 weeks, participants in the study had remarkably improved lipid profiles.

Rooibos

Rooibos tea is harvested only in South Africa. This special tea contains a compound called Aspalathing, which helps promote weight loss by reducing the stress hormones that cause you to store fat, especially around the belly area. A reduction in stress hormones also means you tend to be less hungry throughout the day.

Porangaba

Porangaba tea, which grows in the Amazon, helps suppress appetite, boost metabolism, and increase energy levels. It can also help improve blood circulation. Porangaba is rich in allantoin, caffeine, allantoic acid, and potassium.

Bilberry

Bilberry tea doesn’t boost your metabolism directly like some of the other teas on this list, but it does help balance your blood sugar levels and can help reduce cravings, especially for sweets. The next time you’re craving ice cream after a healthy dinner, start sipping on some Bilberry tea!

Peppermint

Peppermint tea is another great tea to sip after dinner. It speeds up digestion and helps alleviate any digestive troubles, like indigestion. Like Bilberry tea, peppermint tea can also help control cravings.

We want to hear from you! Have you tried any of the teas on this list? If so, what’s your favorite? If not, which one is first on your list to try?

Going Gluten Free? A Guide to Gluten Free Flours

Many people think that going gluten-free means committing to a life of longing for your favorite gluten-containing treats, like bread, pancakes, and even the breading on your chicken; but it doesn’t have to be like that. With the rise in popularity of following a gluten-free diet, there is an easy accessibility to gluten-free options for many foods.

VM flour

As we mentioned in a previous blog post, “gluten-free” doesn’t always mean healthy. Some processed, pre-made gluten-free foods are still loaded with less-than-ideal ingredients, like soy fillers, sugar, and high fructose corn syrup. Whenever you’re looking for a gluten-free treat, it’s always best to make your own.

To make it a little easier for you, we’ve compiled a list of some of the most popular gluten-free flours out there. We’d venture to say that some of these flours make homemade gluten-free treats even better than their gluten-free counterparts.

Almond Flour

Almond flour is one of the most popular gluten-free flours out there right now. Almond flour is made by grinding almonds down into a fine dust. Like almonds, almond flour is packed with protein, healthy fat, calcium, potassium, magnesium, and fiber. Because it’s so high in protein, though, almond flour cannot be substituted one for one with wheat flour. Almond flour is ideal for baked goods and breading things, like chicken or meatloaf.

Coconut Flour

Coconut flour is another big player in the gluten-free game. Coconut is unique because it contains a special type of saturated fat – called medium-chain triglycerides – that are actually used directly as energy instead of being stored by your body as fat. A study in the British Journal of Nutrition showed that coconut flour may also help stable blood sugar levels and reduce the overall glycemic load (or the effect on your blood sugar) of the food it’s used in. Like almond flour, coconut flour cannot be substitute one for one with wheat flour, but the light fluffy flour is very versatile.

Rice Flour

Rice flour is a key ingredient in many gluten-free baked goods because it’s bland, so it works well with just about any flavor, and it’s has a light texture that’s suitable for baking cakes and other temperamental baked goods. It’s also a good option for thickening soups or sauces without the gluten.

Tapioca Flour

Tapioca comes from the root of the cassava plant. It has a light, starchy flavor that gives baked goods a nice texture and “chew”. It’s common to see tapioca flour in combination with other gluten-free flours in gluten-free baking. Tapioca flour is also an excellent thickener, so, like rice flour, you can use a tablespoon or two in place of wheat flour when you need to thicken a soup or sauce.

Gluten-Free All Purpose Baking Flour

Some companies, like this one, make a gluten-free all-purpose flour that is usually a mixture of several different types of flours, like chickpea flour, rice flour, and tapioca flour. These all-purpose flours may also have added starches and gums, like xanthum gum and guar gum to help mimic the properties of regular all-purpose flour. Many of these “ready-to-go” flours will have instructions for how to substitute them for wheat flour in recipes.

Unless you’re a gluten-free pro, we always recommend finding a gluten-free recipe to use these flours in. It takes the guesswork out and ensures that your final product comes out right. If you feel confident in your ability to adapt a recipe to make it gluten-free, you can certainly use one of these flours or a combination of these flours in place of all-purpose flour, but it will take some thinking – and maybe even some experimentation. There are several charts available online to help you figure out the conversions. Some flours even have conversion instructions listed on the back.

To get you started, here is one of our favorite gluten-free pancake recipes: http://nomnompaleo.com/post/9199871590/cinnamon-and-coconut-pancakes

Have you done any gluten-free baking or tried any of these gluten-free flours? Share your experience or your favorite recipe with us!

Cauliflower Tortillas: A Low-Carbohydrate Bun Option

This weekend, we’re (unofficially) saying goodbye to summer with friends, family, celebrations, and cookouts. With these cookouts comes lots of temptation, but just because you’re watching what you eat, doesn’t mean you have to miss out.

Cauliflower is all the rage in the nutrition world right now – and for good reason. It’s packed with nutrients, low in carbohydrates, extremely versatile, and has a mild flavor that you can tweak to work for whatever you’re in the mood for. We played around in the kitchen a little bit to create these cauliflower tortillas that you can use in place of a bun for a low-carbohydrate option for those hot dogs and burgers this weekend. And we think they’re mighty good.

Cauliflower Tortillas

What You Need:

Small head of cauliflower

2 eggs

¼ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon pepper

Other spices, optional

What To Do:

  1. Preheat oven to 375.
  2. Take a small head of cauliflower and put it through a food processor to make cauliflower “rice”. Measure out about 3 cups (packed) and steam in a veggie steamer for about 5 minutes.
  3. Allow “rice” to cool and then place in a nut bag and strain out all of the excess water (THIS STEP IS IMPORTANT). If you don’t have a nut bag, you can use a cheesecloth or a towel to squeeze out all the excess liquid.
  4. Put the cauliflower in a bowl and add 2 eggs, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. You can get creative here and add some more spices and/or herbs depending on the flavor you want.
  5. Mix everything together until incorporated.
  6. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and put about 1/4 cup of the mixture on the parchment paper. Use a fork to spread it out into a thin round layer. Repeat until you’ve used all the mixture (you may need two baking sheets). Cook for 10 minutes and then flip “tortilla” over and cook for another 5 – 6 minutes.

You’re done! You can eat these right away or bring them along with you to your cookout. To eat them later, just heat up the tortilla on the grill (for just a couple minutes) when you’re ready to eat it.

We hope you enjoy!

Product of the Month! CarbCrave Complex by Pure Encapsulations

SEPTEMBER is here – and that means a new product to add to our monthly special! With this special you receive 4 WEEKS of everything listed below for only $295 (that’s a savings of over $200)!

Physician Consult & Weekly Weigh-ins
Meal Plans
FDA Approved Medications
MetaBlast Supplements
Craveaway Supplements
Weekly Upgraded Injection of B-12
Bi-Weekly Injection of Lipo X
Full Body Analysis on our BODYCOMP Scale
Product of the Month

VM CarbCrave2

This month, for our product of the month, we’re offering CarbCrave Complex with Sensoril®Trim by Pure Encapsulations. CarbCrave Complex is designed to help curb excessive carbohydrate intake and to help moderate appetite by supporting healthy brain chemistry and mood.*

The active ingredients in CarbCrave Complex include:

  • Chromium Picolinate – helps balance blood sugar and control carbohydrate cravings.
  • 5-HTP – a precursor for serotonin, the same neurotransmitter released by the consumption of carbohydrates. Serotonin is thought to be responsible for increased mood – which is why people, especially those under stress, tend to crave carbohydrates.
  • DL-Phenylalanine – supports dopamine and epinephrine production, which are two neurotransmitters responsible for increased well-being.
  • Relora (which is a proprietary blend of magnolia extract and phellodendron extract) – Like chromium picolinate, Relora® helps decrease carbohydrate cravings and leads to a healthier intake of carbohydrates in adults. In one study involving 49 volunteers prone to eating under stress, Relora® helped reduce stress- related snacking of sweets by 76%.
  • Sensoril® Trim Ashwagandha – promotes relaxation and maintains healthy cortisol levels, which helps support glucose and fat metabolism. Ashwagandha also helps improve the body’s response to stress and fatigue.
  • Pyridoxal 5’Phosphate (or activated vitamin B-6) – a vital component in the synthesis of neurotransmitters.*

CarbCrave

If you have any questions about CarbCrave Complex or you want to take advantage of our monthly special, contact us TODAY!

DISCLAIMER * These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.