Cutting out grains and sugars is a great way to lose weight, but if you're going to do so, you need to replace those calories with something else! Beans, legumes & lentils are all a great way to add the extra calories that will keep you satiated and keep your blood sugar levels stable. The most common pitfall to any grain/sugar-free diet is a lack of calories. This ultimately leads to you feeling so hungry that you turn to high calorie high sugar foods, and possibly giving up on the diet altogether. The key to maintaining a healthy diet is in making sure you’re eating enough calories to sustain your energy levels.
Hummus is probably the most versatile way to add them to your diet. If you’re not a fan of chickpeas (or crave more variety) you can substitute chickpeas in recipes with any other bean. Hummus is a quick snack alternative, and goes great as a dip with any veggie. It’s easy to always have on hand in the fridge or to grab on-the-go at any grocery store. Hummus now comes in a variety of flavours – regular, garlic, red pepper, wasabi, masala, avocado, chipotle, olive, pine nut, and the list goes on! It’s also easy to make ahead at home. Here are some great ways to use hummus:
1. On eggs – use hummus in deviled eggs as a replacement for the yolks. It also goes so well on an omelette, frittata or to top fried/scrampled/poached eggs.
2. As a salad dressing - just add your preference of vinegar - balsamic, white, apple cider, rice wine or lemon juice…then salt and pepper to taste and voila!
3. As a pasta sauce over zucchini noodles – mix a chopped tomato and a couple tbsps. of hummus to your noodles…it melts into a creamy sauce.
4. Add to soup stock to make a soup
5. It's great on fish use it as a dip or instead of tartar sauce.
6. On an avocado
7. On burgers – Hummus is for hamburgers. Use hummus as a spread for veggie, turkey, or beef burgers in place of traditional condiments like mayonnaise, ketchup, barbecue sauce, or mustard. You can also mix it right into your burger patties.
8. Hummus stuffed chicken breast
9. Mexican Layer Dip - Use hummus in your Mexican layer dip as a protein-packed sour cream replacement.Layer dip with guacamole refried beans hummus salsa chopped tomatoes cottage cheese
10. Use it as an alternative to mayo or condiments. Tastes great in chicken or tuna salad.
11. As a stirfry sauce
12. Falafals (make a bunch, they freeze well!)
13. Roasted in the oven - put a little bit of olive oil on them and then topped them with any spice you wish. This makes a great crunchy snack
14. cherry tomatoes filled with hummus. Cut off the tops of cherry tomatoes, scoop out the seeds, and use a piping bag to fill each tomato with hummus. Hummus also makes a great topping for sliced tomatoes.
Beans, chickpeas and seeds/nuts also make great salad toppers. Other than hummus, split peas are great to have on hand as well – split pea and ham/bacon soup is a quick and filling way to warm up in the winter months. Add them to chili, soup and stew recipes to make it a more hearty meal.
Here is a simple hummus recipe:
1 3/4 cups cooked, drained chickpeas (from a 15-ounce can) or a little shy of 2/3 cup dried chickpeas (if you’re cooking them from dry, add ½ teaspoon of baking soda to the pot when cooking)
1/2 cup tahini paste
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice, or more to taste
2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
3/4 teaspoon table salt, or more to taste
Approximately 1/4 cup water or reserved chickpea cooking water
½ teaspoon cumin
In a blender or food processor, blend lemon juice, garlic, tahini, salt and cumin until smooth. Add in chickpeas and blend again until smooth (adding as much water as necessary to achieve the desired consistency).
Fat burning power of omega-3
Overall Health Benefits
Fish oils also provide a host of other health benefits. They have been shown to be effective for:
- preventing heart disease, high blood pressure, rheumatoid arthritis, menstrual pain, raynaud's syndrome, stroke, weak bones, kidney problems, bipolar disorder and psychosis.
- Protecting yourself from air pollution
- Reducing symptoms of osteoarthritis
- Reducing the signs of aging
- Improving fat burning
- Boosting brain power and memory
- Preserving lean muscle
- Improving bone health
Dietary Sources of Omega-3
Omega-3 fatty acids are derived from two sources – plant source (Alpha-Lipoic Acid), and animal source (fish oil).
Dietary sources of ALA - soybean, canola and flaxseed and chia seed.
Dietary sources of fish oil - herring, mackerel, salmon, and sardines.
ALA vs. fish oil – in studies, both forms have been shown to increase fat loss, however, ALA has also been shown to help you store the carbohydrates you eat in muscle or in your liver as opposed to in fat cells. This gives ALA supplements an edge when consuming a high carb meal.
What to look for in a supplement
Herbs & Spices for Weight Loss
Herbs and spices don’t just make food much more tasty and interesting, using them can also speed up your weight loss efforts, by quite a considerable amount. This is an inexpensive way to boost your weight loss efforts. These spices can all be purchased at your local Bulk Barn – this is a great way to go and purchase just a small amount of each so that you can see which you find easiest to cook with (rather than buying them all individually packaged in the spice aisle of your grocery store).
Here is a list of herbs & spices along with their particular benefit:
Turmeric – inflammation
Cinnamon – blood sugar/insulin control
Cayenne – fat burn
Ginger – reduces appetite
Black pepper – burns calories
Coriander – increased metabolic function
Cumin – overall weight loss
Garlic – metabolize carbohydrates and fat
Parsley – reduce blood glucose
Ginseng – slows weight gain
Cardamom - reduce blood glucose
Cloves – increase metabolism
Mustard – thermogenic
If you don’t do much cooking, another easy way to incorporate these into your diet is to fill them into empty gelatin capsules using the capsule machine https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xo92dGCt1Rc (can be purchased online, or at most health food stores)
Weight Loss Teas
In addition to herbs & spices, tea also has its own individual health & weight loss properties, from dimming your hunger hormones to upping your calorie burn to literally melting the fat that’s stored in your fat cells. In addition to that, they can also help reduce your risk of heart disease and diabetes. Just make sure that you don’t add sugar to your tea!
Here is a list of teas along with their particular benefit:
Bilberry – balance sugar levels
Oolong – reduce cholesterol/fat metabolism
Hibiscus - contains flavonoids and minerals that help reduce absorption of fats.
Green tea - maintain metabolic health. Promotes weight loss.
Rose tea - more antioxidants than green tea. Thought to clear toxins from your system and prevent constipation.
Peppermint – appetite control
Pu-erh tea – has been shown to literally shrink fat cells
White Tea - prevent new fat cells from forming
Yerba maté tea - contains chemicals that help burn fat and calories while suppressing appetite.
Star anise - antimicrobial, promote digestive health, decrease water weight.
Green tea - boost metabolism, unlocks fat cells
Rooibos - regulates fat storage hormones
Mint – cravings
Next week’s blog will look at how Omega-3 fatty acid can aid in weight loss.
The typical North American diet is highly inflammatory. Eating a chronically inflammatory diet leads to chronically elevated stress levels, which leads to a whole host of problems including asthma, food and airborne allergies, sinusitis, dermatitis and weight gain.
So what makes foods inflammatory? There are at least two dozen factors that affect a food’s inflammatory potential, including the amounts and proportion of various fatty acids, the amount of antioxidants and other nutrients, and the food’s glycemic impact, or effect on blood sugar levels.
Eating highly inflammatory foods –- chronic inflammation in the body –- cortisol (stress hormone) production –- increase in blood glucose levels –- weight gain & stress related diseases.
Under stressful conditions, cortisol provides the body with glucose (as a fight or flight response). Elevated cortisol over the long term consistently produces glucose, leading to chronically increased blood sugar levels leading to weight gain (fat storage) and an increased risk for type 2 diabetes.
Studies have shown that cortisol has an effect on appetite and more specifically, cravings for high-calorie foods. It also indirectly influences appetite by modulating other hormones and stress responsive factors known to stimulate appetite.
Here is a list of the top 12 inflammatory foods:
1. The “3 Ps”–Processed, packaged, or prepared foods. And, yes, fast food is atop the list of inflammatory foods thanks to the harmful oils, sugar and artificial sweeteners, food additives, and a whole host of nasty ingredients.
2. Hydrogenated and trans fats found in margarine, shortening, lard or products made with them. That includes baked goods, cookies, pies, buns etc.
3. Meat (not wild-caught fish) - meat and poultry tend to cause inflammation so make them the background of your meals not the main dish.
4. Fried foods (French fries, onion rings, potato chips, nachos, hamburgers, etc.). I think these items speak for themselves.
5. White sugar and sweets, including soft drinks and sweetened juices.
6. Synthetic sweeteners - Nutrasweet, Splenda, saccharin, aspartame, etc
8. Food additives: colors, flavor enhancers, stabilizers, preservatives, etc. Some of the main ones include sulfites, benzoates, and colors named FD&C #”X.”
9. Dairy products (yogurt, ice cream, cottage cheese, butter, cheese, etc.) - today’s dairy products are packed with hormones, antibiotics, and other harmful ingredients so avoid them as much as possible.
10. Wheat products. Wheat is highly acid-forming and inflammatory in the body. Worse, most wheat available now is genetically-modified (GM). Many serious health conditions are starting to be linked to GM wheat consumption.
11. Other gluten-containing grains. Gluten is found in most grains and is highly inflammatory.
12. Alcohol. High in sugar, and a burden to the liver – definitely better used in moderation.
Tracking inflammation in the foods you eat:
Figuring out if the foods you eat are inflammatory is very easy – go to http://www.inflammationfactor.com/ , there you can look up any food, and it will give you either a positive (+) or a negative (-) number based on how inflammatory or anti-inflammatory it is. Positive numbers are good (anti-inflammatory), negative numbers are bad (inflammatory). There is also an App that you can put on your phone or device called “IF Tracker” – its an easy way to look up foods on the go or in the grocery store.
Just by becoming more aware of the inflammatory properties of the foods you are eating, you may even find that you can eliminate (or drastically reduce) any allergies or sensitivities.