I have just returned from a 3-day juice fast/detox in beautiful (but very rainy) Byron Bay with my good friend Janet Kalmin who is equally as passionate about health as I am. We had a lot of time to read and learn while we were away, and we have returned from our trip invigorated, cleansed and very motivated to make positive changes to our diet. In particular we read the works of some of the leading voices in food and health at the moment – David Gillespie (Sweet Poison, Big Fat Lies, and Toxic Oil) and Sarah Wilson (I Quit Sugar). Janet has kindly offered to guest blog on The Shrinking Hubby this week. What she has to say about the fats we consume is not only interesting and thought provoking, but really (urgently) important for our future health. The large and very powerful manufacturers who control our food industry are not concerned about future risks of health, as long as their products don’t instantly kill us – it simply doesn’t make business sense to them. This is going to have extremely worrying consequences for our future generation.
I hope that you get a lot out of Janet’s article, and above all that it gives you some power to make informed decisions about the kind of food you are feeding yourselves and your families. Because if we can get the message out that there are foods swamping our supermarkets that are making us very sick as a population, then hopefully our population won’t buy these foods and then the manufacturers will not have the incentive to market them to us (and our kids)!
Finally I just wanted to bring to your attention the fact that Jessie Reimers (you can follow her facebook page ‘Get A Fresh Start’ here) is currently petitioning the Heart Foundation to stop endorsing unhealthy margarines and immediately review the ‘tick of approval’ program. I highly recommend that you check out what the petition is all about and sign it here. Please also take the time to share it with your friends – it is a very important crusade for the benefit of all of our health.
The Skinny on Fat
by Janet Kalmin
It seems a small revolution is happening in the world of fats, and with the help of the internet, vital research previously ignored is being brought to light.
There is a dawning of a new age in how we see fat, particularly the much maligned saturated stuff; butter, lard, cream, animal fat of any sort plus some other gems like coconut oil. Some are calling the war against saturated fat the biggest health myth of the century and you should know about it!
We are so conditioned into thinking that saturated fats cause heart disease and raise our cholesterol that even I find myself feeling some guilt when I add another slather of butter. But according to pioneering nutritionists Mary Enig and Sally Fallon of the Weston A. Price Foundation in the US, this is exactly what I should be doing if I want to raise my good cholesterol and protect my body from oxidation and other nasty repercussions of too little saturated fat and too much polyunsaturated fat. It’s the latter that raise your ‘bad’ cholesterol.
They say animal fat is “not deadly, but is necessary for our bodies to initiate, suppress, or resolve inflammation as needed. These are all vital processes that allow us to respond appropriately to our environment. My children have always enjoyed butter, animal fat, whole milk, coconut oil, just as our pre-war ancestors did. They are heart disease free.
However the food industry sponsored Heart Foundation continues to strongly urge us to replace saturated fat with omega 6 options (polyunsaturated) through the media, our GPs and little friendly reminders on margarine lids. Funny, that.
Just a few years ago I thought I knew it all, all about fats anyway. The much espoused Mediterranean diet told us to cook and cover everything in EVOO (Extra Virgin Olive Oil) and so I did. And don’t get me wrong, that was great, mono-unsaturated omega 3s and all that jazz. Problem was, almost everything from the shops contained anything but olive oil. From cook-in sauces and curry pastes to take-away you can almost guarantee a polyunsaturated fat has been used. They are lurking, weirdly, in things like an Up and Go, marketed as a great start to the day! And they are not just polyunsaturated. Canola oil needs so much processing to rid it of its foul taste and odour that it becomes a trans-fat – generally now agreed to be the worst possible scenario for fat.
Polyunsaturated fats are known as vegetable oils, which is laughable as no vegetable is processed for its oil, it’s just sounds good. David Gallespie more accurately calls them ‘seed oils’. Seed oils are nasty stuff according to some enlightening new and old research. Canola and Cottonseed oil are by-products of industrial waste! They are cheap and easy to make in large quantities. They just make perfect business sense.
These are everyday foods that contain seed oils:
- peanut butter
- boxed cereals
- packaged breads
- salad oils
- other fake fats like shortening and artificial “butter” products
Cotton-seed oil, sunflower oil, canola oil, corn oil, soybean oil, rice bran oil….
These fellas are lurking in your daily diet whether you like it or not.
Bread, sauces, chips, take away, almost anything that comes in a jar of oil like olives, antipasti, snack foods, and the list goes on.
But what does it do you?
Seed oils are highly- processed polyunsaturates full of omega 6s. And there lies the problem.
Our bodies are designed to be 1:1 Omega 6 and Omega 3. Get this ratio wrong and you are asking for trouble. Apparently we are not getting enough of the 3 and WAY too much of the 6s.
And you can see why when you look at everything that contains ‘vegetable’ (aka seed) oil.
Some recent research (and more importantly some older research that seems to be constantly ignored by mainstream health ‘authorities’) is telling us that these oils are doing all sorts of damage including floating around while our bodies try and absorb them into our cells. Google the link between skin cancer and vegetable oil, it will turn your stomach.
Problem is we are animal fat! Yes that’s right; you know the saturated stuff that we have been warned will kill us. But if you think about it simply, how can we process fat into our cells if that is not the fat our cells are made of? Sometimes you don’t need a Bio-Chemical PhD to understand basic logic. And that’s the whole point. David Gillespie says it like this “… the reality is our body can’t tell the difference between them [polyunsaturated and saturated fats]. We use fats for energy and importantly, to construct our cells. The end result of a diet high in polyunsaturated fats is that our cell membranes are constructed of polyunsaturated fat. This is a problem because it is much more volatile, much more likely to oxidise. Out of control oxidation ultimately leads to the kind of mutations in the DNA of the cell nucleus that leads to cancer. “
The Weston A. Price Foundation sheds some light on the recent history of fats:
“[It’s] the mid-1980s and the food industry has a problem. In collusion with the American Heart Association, numerous government agencies and departments of nutrition at major universities, the industry had been promoting polyunsaturated oils as a heart-healthy alternative to “artery-clogging” saturated fats. Unfortunately, it had become increasingly clear that polyunsaturated oils…cause numerous health problems, including and especially cancer.” Check out westonprice.org and go crazy!
Join me in banning these foods from your family’s diet and go back to the good stuff. The Weston A. Price Foundation found women with lower saturated fat and higher polyunsaturated had far more wrinkles. That’s the deal breaker is it not? Wait and see, it will all come to light in ten years and you can sit back smugly and say with me:
“I told you so!”
Here is an incredibly easy recipe for chocolate balls which are a great alternative to a sugary treat when that sweet craving hits. They are full of superfoods and very rich so you won’t want to over indulge, yet they really do the trick. I find they get me through that post lunch/afternoon slump perfectly or as a treat to have with a cup of tea after dinner.
I added protein powder to the recipe below but that is entirely up to you. Also you could jazz it up with some chopped nuts (pistachios, almonds etc) or chia seeds (for more fibre), maybe some peppermint extract instead of vanilla – really the options are endless. This is a great base recipe to work with and I quite like them like this …
What you will need:
3/4 cups water
1/2 cup chopped dates
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup raw cocoa powder
1/4 cup unrefined coconut oil
1/2 cup coconut butter
Optional: 1/4 cup – 1/2 cup vanilla protein powder (I used Theresa Cutter’s all natural vanilla – pure whey protein sweetened with stevia – no artificial nasties)
1/2 cup shredded coconut
How to pull it together:
1. Put the dates in the water and bring to the boil. Remove from heat and soak for 30 minutes. Blend dates in a food processor/blender until smooth.
3. Warm the jars of coconut oil and butter until runny. Measure out amount required and add to the date mixture.
4. Add vanilla, salt and cacoa powder and mix to combine.
5. If using, add the protein powder and mix well.
6. The mixture will be really runny, you’ll need to chill in the fridge for a good 45 minutes – hour or until the consistency is fudgy (i.e. easy to roll).
6. Roll mixture into balls and roll in the coconut and then I like to to put them in mini cupcake patties. (Don’t be frightened the rolling part gets quite messy – once they are in balls and in the fridge they harden up beautifully and make a great little snack)
Keep in an airtight container in the fridge and enjoy!!!
A really healthy sweet treat that you can enjoy guilt free – sound too good to be true? This is an absolutely delicious recipe from The Healthy Chef (Teresa Cutter). Full of healthy ingredients, it uses honey instead of sugar and almond meal instead of flour but does not sacrifice itself as far as taste and satisfaction is concerned. This is a great cake to make if you are having people over for tea and freezes really well if you want to cut it up into individual serves for when that sweet craving hits hard. Feel free to play around with the spices and/or dried fruit – adding some walnuts might be nice …
Healthy Carrot Cake
What you will need:
3 large carrots grated (food processors make this task really easy)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
3 cups almond meal
1/4 cup coconut oil (Teresa uses macadamia nut or olive oil – I used coconut oil and found it gave the cake a deliciously nutty flavour)
1/4 cup honey
1 cup sultanas
1/2 cup craisons (I added these – delicious!)
2 teaspoons gluten free baking powder
How to make it:
1. Preheat the oven to 160 degrees celcius (320 degrees Fahrenheit)
2. Combine carrot, eggs, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, almond meal, oil, honey, sultanas, craisons and baking powder into a large bowl and mix well. (I used my mix-master on a slow setting to make sure it mixed well)
3. Pour into a lined and greased loaf tin.
4. Bake for 1 1/2 hours or until cooked through. You may need to cover with foil if it starts to burn before cooked through.
5. Remove from the oven and cool completely in the tin then turn out and serve as you wish. (it is delicious on it’s own, or you could top it with greek yoghurt, cream cheese and icing sugar or whatever you fancy).
Seriously one of our favourite dinners. Who doesn’t love a golden schnitzel drizzled with freshly squeezed lemon juice?! But it doesn’t have to be crumbed in bread crumbs and deep fried! I found this recipe from The Healthy Chef using almond meal and arrowroot instead of flour and bread crumbs. I actually think it is yummier than the traditional recipe (and it’s very kid friendly too ..).
Almond Meal Crusted Schnitzel
Serves 2 adults and 3 children
What you will need:
2 Chicken Breasts (sliced in half length wise and beaten with a kitchen mallet if you have one)
About 2 tablespoons Arrowroot
Almond meal (about 1-2 cups depending on how your crumbing goes…)
2 organic free range eggs (beaten)
Lemon to serve
How to make it:
Coat the chicken pieces in the arrowroot, then dip into egg mix followed by almond meal.
Heat your pan and add some coconut oil. Cook the chicken pieces until they are lovely and golden and the chicken is cooked through.
Serve with a big squeeze of lemon juice alongside steamed veggies, a big salad, vegetable ratatouille – whatever you like. This time I served with a big green salad and added some slow roasted mini roma tomatoes, asparagus, feta and avocado. To roast the tomatoes toss halved mini roma tomatoes in some olive oil, salt and pepper. Lay them out skin side down on a tray lined with baking paper and bake for about 35 minutes or until they are cooked to your liking. A delicious way to add flavour to your salads.
Was absolutely delicious!
In our quest for good health sometimes it’s the little things that can make all the difference.
Here are 10 foods that most of us eat regularly that can be swapped for just-as- good- but- much- healthier options.
1. Swap BREAD for SPELT/RYE MOUNTAIN WRAPS
We really don’t need the amount of bread that the average person eats. We are conditioned to toast in the mornings and sandwiches at night and bread rolls for dinner but you will notice such a difference if you cut out the bread. Mountain Bread is so wonderfully versatile. It’s easy to swap your breakfast toast or lunchtime sandwich for a mountain bread wrap and as for the bread rolls at dinner – totally unnecessary GET RID OF THEM!!!
2. Swap OLIVE OR VEGETABLE OILS for COCONUT OIL (for cooking)
I love love love my olive oil in salad dressings or as a marinade, but for cooking coconut oil has amazing health properties and its exquisite nutty flavour adds something extra to your food. I have been using it to cook my bodyism pancakes, my healthy almond meal schnitzel (recipe to come) or even cook up our chicken for the fridge. It adds a delicious zing to my vegetable ratatouille (recipe to come) too. Yum! When taken in moderation it actually assists weight loss and apparently is amazing for your skin and hair.
3. Swap your REGULAR LATTE for a PICCOLO LATTE
Yes it’s not as nice as a big milky coffee, but not as harsh as a straight espresso and drinking milk definitely effects the bloating of our stomachs. This is one habit that is easy (and cheaper) to get into and makes your morning coffee (almost) guilt free. Especially if you drink more than 2 coffees a day make the 2nd and 3rd piccolos if you can’t deal without your latte in the morning.
I’ll also go against the grain here and say that I always drink full cream milk – I believe that skim milk although less in fat is so heavily processed that the body struggles to digest it. Whenever I’ve switched to skim I’ve never noticed a difference on the scales, on the contrary I find myself fuller after full cream so I am less likely to snack …
4. Swap BALSAMIC VINEGAR in your salad dressings for APPLE CIDER VINEGAR
Apple cider vinegar has amazing health benefits like aiding digestion and reducing bloating. It is such a yummy and easy salad dressing to whip up 1 tablespoon olive oil to 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar with some sea salt and cracked pepper.
5. Swap CREAM CHEESE for COTTAGE CHEESE
Cottage cheese IS YOUR FRIEND! It is just as yummy as cream cheese but much higher in protein. Spread it on your mountain bread wrap with chicken, tomato and spinach before toasting, or have it for afternoon tea with some yummy mango or berries and a sprinkle of cinnamon, or spread with avocado on rice cakes (plain of course). Delicious.
6. Swap CHOCOLATE for RAW CHOCOLATE
Good food stores sell raw chocolate – made with coconut or cacoa butter, and agave syrup. It is much richer than chocolate and definitely tastes different but it is a great way to get rid of those sugar/ chocolate cravings and a little goes a loooong way.
7. Swap MARGARINE for ORGANIC BUTTER
Your body doesn’t know what to do with the processed nature of margarine which is completely artificial and laden with nasty trans fats. Much better to use (better tasting anyway) natural organic butter instead – in moderation of course!
8. Swap REGULAR YOGHURT for GREEK YOGHURT
Greek yoghurt has more protein and less carbohydrates than regular yoghurt but so thick and creamy and delicious! It’s very versatile – mix with avocado and fresh lime for an easy guacamole or have with berries as a snack. Use in salad dressings or sauces.
9. Swap FLOUR for ALMOND MEAL
This is trickier than the other swaps because it takes a bit of getting used to but almond meal is a great substitute for flour and much better for our gut. The paleo diet has embraced the use of almond meal and there are many yummy recipes out there. I will be posting a few in the coming weeks.
10. Swap SUGAR/ARTIFICIAL SWEETENERS for NATVIA or RAW HONEY
We are starting to realise how terrible sugar is on our bodies but if you really need that sweetness give raw honey or Natvia a go. Natvia is an all natural sweetener made from stevia – so versatile – without the harmful effects of artificial sweeteners.
So as you can see – you don’t have to suffer to be healthy, most of these swaps are far superior in taste than their counterparts!