Pumpkin Spiced Hummus

October 24, 2017
Pumpkin Spiced Hummus

Its pumpkin spice season…yes, the time of year when…poof!...everything seems to get pumpkin spiced…among the cookies and the lattes are the less obvious pumpkin spiced goodies – like gum, vodka, and margarine.

I have two rules when it comes to pumpkin spiced things:

  1. It should have some actual pumpkin in it.  Way too many of the pumpkin spiced goodies out there have no actual pumpkin, they are just flavored to taste like pumpkin.  Avoid things that are just artificially pumpkin flavored, but have no actual pumpkin in them.  Pumpkin is actually very nutritious – pumpkin is rich in fiber and beta carotene which boosts the immune system and our eye health. So when  you are geting pumpkin spice – it should be made with real pumpkin.  Not just something that is made to taste like pumpkin.  Go for the real stuff only!!
  2. It should not break the sugar bank or use artificial sweeteners. A LOT of pumpkin spice products are loaded down with tons of added sugars, and watch out for those “sugar free” versions – which may use chemical sweeteners that are just as bad (or worse) than sugar.  Sugar lowers our immune system and packs on the pounds.  

With pumpkin spice everywhere – It peaks the question – is everything better pumpkin spiced?  Like does pumpkin spiced hummus sound good?

At first glance, pumpkin spiced hummus doesn’t sound too yummy, but I decided to give it a whirl, and decided that it is decidedly delicious!!

The cool thing about pumpkin, is you can go more savory, or sweet.  For this hummus recipe, I decided to go more on the sweet side, to make more of a dessert hummus (yes, dessert hummus is a thing), but I think I will try a savory version next time.

Give this a try and let me know what you think!  I know it sounds kinda weird, but it really is good!

Pumpkin Spiced Hummus

Ingredients:

  • 1 can of chickpeas – drained and rinsed (or you can prepare your own from dry, soaked and cooked beans)
  • 3/4 cup pumpkin puree (can be from a can)
  • 4 Tablespoons of coconut milk
  • 2 teaspoons of coconut oil (melted)
  • 2 Tablespoons of apple sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon of high quality unprocessed salt
  • 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract (I used alcohol free for this)
  • 2 teaspoons of Lakinto (or you could sub maple syrup or stevia)
  • 2 scoops of vanilla vegan protein powder (I used Warrior Blend)
  • 2 teaspoons of Ceylon cinnamon
  • 1.5 teaspoons of pumpkin pie spice

Directions:

  1. Drain and rinse chickpeas.
  2. Put into a food processor with the coconut milk and apple sauce – process until smooth.
  3. Add in the rest of the ingredients.
  4. Taste and adjust.
  5. Serve with sliced apples, pita or graham crackers.
  6. Store in refrigerator for up to 2 days.

 

Recipe created by Nutritionist and Author Sara Vance.  All right reserved.

 

 

 

 

Sara Vance Article written by Nutritionist Sara Vance, author of the book
The Perfect Metabolism Plan A regular guest on Fox 5 San Diego, you can see many of Sara’s segments on her media page. She also offers corporate nutrition, school programs, consultations, and affordable online eCourses. Download her free 40+ page Metabolism Jumpstart eBook here.

*This article is for educational purposes only. The content contained in this article is not to be construed as providing medical advice. All information provided is general and not specific to individuals. Persons with questions about the above content as how it relates to them, should contact their medical professional. Persons already taking prescription medications should consult a doctor before making any changes to their supplements or medications.

©2015, all rights reserved. Sara Vance.

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20 Reasons to Break Up with Sugar

April 22, 2016
Screen Shot 2016-05-25 at 4.32.45 PM

Sugar.  It is no wonder we love it so….

It’s delicious and sweet, it makes us happy, and gives us a little burst of energy.

We celebrate with it, and it is there for us whenever we need it.

At first glimpse, it seems like everything we could want in a relationship.

But everything is not all sweet when it comes to sugar.

Sugar hides behind the “harmless empty calories” myth.  Hey, I used to believe it too.

Well, one part is true – sugar is definitely empty calories.  But the part that is the lie is that sugar is “harmless.

Friends. It is a BIG. FAT. LIE. 

 

 

Now don’t get me wrong – a little natural sweetness for someone with a healthy metabolism is okay– a square or two of (70% or higher) dark chocolate, a deliciously rich and creamy cacao avocado pudding…

But the problem with sugar is most of us have a hard time getting  just a little bit….

Sugar is hiding in over 75% of all packaged foods, so it is sneaking into our diets – so much so, that we often have no idea how much sugar we are getting every day.

Sugar is highly addictive – the more we eat, the more we want.

The energy sugar delivers is short-lived – it is followed by a crash – so we reach for more of the sweet stuff to get another boost.  I call that cycle ‘the sugar rollercoaster” – and the longer we are on that ride, the worst it is for our health.

Woefully, the real truth is that excess sugar has a dark side, a very serious dark side.  Not only is excess sugar the #1 reason for a sluggish metabolism and stubborn weight gain, it is making billions of people sick….including our children.

Chronically elevated blood sugar raises the risk of almost every major disease. Let’s take a closer look at some of the reasons you might want to consider a “break up”….

20 Reasons to Break up with Sugar:

 

  1. Causes Weight gain

    Especially weight gain in the midsection. When we say we want to “lose weight” what we really mean is that we want to lose fat. But when we are eating too much sugar – our metabolism is in what I call “sugar-burning mode”  which means it is running on sugars – and storing the extra as fat (adipose tissue).  So when the metabolism is in sugar burning mode – it is not burning fat, it is storing it.  This is referred to as “insulin resistance” and leads to stubborn weight gain – and a host of other issues.

  2. Makes you Hungry

    Sweet foods and drinks stimulate our sweet tooth – so the more sweets we eat (even artificial sweetened foods and drinks), the more we want. So eating lots of sugar and simple carbs just makes us hungrier.  Studies show that when meals are consumed with sugary drinks, more calories are consumed.  Poor blood sugar regulation can lead to big swings – causing dangerous highs and lows – the drops in blood sugar can make you feel angry when you are hungry – sometimes called “hangry.”

  3. Lowers Immunity

    Studies show that sugar lowers the white blood cell count and therefore our immune system.  So eating sugar and simple carbs all the time means our immune system is running low all the time.

  4. Mood Imbalances

    Like any other addictive drug, the sugar rollercoaster has a powerful effect on our mood and brain chemistry. When our blood sugar is high, it gives us energy and makes us feel happy. But when it drops, it can make us feel tired, sad and low.  So we reach for more of what gave us that boost – that puts us on a rollercoaster ride that causes our mood to be very unstable.  Over time, these sugar highs and lows can lead to more serious mood disorders.  Sugar also causes an imbalance in healthy gut bacteria, which is tied to anxiety and other issues. Depressed Immune System: A 1973 study out of Loma Linda University found that consuming a glucose solution lowered the effectiveness of white blood cells to fight infection.

  5. Low energy/fatigue

    Sugar and simple carbs does not supply lasting energy – it spikes our blood sugar, which is then followed by a crash.  When we crash, we are going to be looking for another energy boost hungry.  So what do we reach for to get energy again – more sugar or simple carbs because it gives us a quick boost! I call that cycle “The Sugar Rollercoaster, and just like an actual roller coaster – the longer we are on that ride, the more likely we are to get sick.

  6. Inflammation

    The hallmark of most chronic diseases – is chronic and systemic inflammation. A diet high in sugars raises our inflammation, and this can raise our risk of many diseases.

  7. Digestion issues

    Sugars feeds yeast and fungus. So diets high in sugar can sometimes lead to chronic overgrowth of yeast, bacteria or fungus (often this will happen after a course of antibiotics that wipes out the good bacteria.) Other issues in the gut – including bacterial overgrowth, dysbiosis, leaky gut can also be linked to excess sugar intake.

  8. Tooth decay and cavities

    One of the most obvious things we are taught from a very young age about sugar – is that too much of it is not good for our teeth.  The dentist warns our kids about it around Halloween time. But Halloween is not the only time of year that we eat too much sugar. The average person gets at least 3 times the added sugars every single day!

  9. Diabetes (or ‘diabesity‘)

    When we spike our blood sugar over and over, our body eventually becomes less effective at lowering it. This can develop into Insulin Resistance, which is a precursor to Type 2 Diabetes (and possibly Type 3, see Alzheimer’s disease below). Insulin resistance makes our body less able to process sugars – which can lead to fatigue, hunger, and weight gain. But the tricky thing is that insulin resistance often has no obvious symptoms. Which is why many people have no idea that they have it. Insulin resistance can lead to pre-diabetes, and if not addressed – eventually diabetes. Poorly managed diabetes can lead to serious health issues like nerve pain & damage, kidney failure, loss of limbs, and blindness. Do you remember that Type 2 Diabetes used to be called Adult-onset until a few year ago? They had to rename it – because kids were getting it. Sugar is harming the health of the majority of our youth – and setting them up for a lifetime of health issues.

  10. Heart Disease/Stroke/Metabolic Syndrome

    According to this article on Dr. Chris Kresser’s website – “metabolic syndrome could more simply be called “excess carbohydrate disease”.  In fact, some researchers have gone as far as defining metabolic syndrome as “those physiologic markers that respond to reduction in dietary carbohydrate.”  The American Heart Association published a statement in Circulation, that excess sugar consumption increases our risk of heart attack and stroke. Having impaired blood glucose tolerance was found to increase the risk of stroke by 50%. Even a fasting glucose over 85 mg/dl (considered a “lab normal” level) was associated with an increased risk of cardiac mortality. The worst offender for heart health?  Sodas. Studies have found that men who drink 1 soda a day increase heart disease risk factors by 20%.  And before you pick up a diet soda – realize that drinking diet sodas are linked to a 44% increased risk of heart disease.

  11. Cancer:

    Ninety years ago Nobel Laureate Dr. Otto Warburg discovered that sugar fuels cancer cells. Since then various studies have demonstrated a potent link between sugar and cancer, including that malignant cells die when starved of glucose. Sugar molecules are present in high numbers near cancer cells, in fact – that is one way to test for cancer – you take a radioactive glucose solution, and using a a PET scan – they can see that areas that are cancerous take up more of the solution than non-cancerous areas. But a 2013 University of Copenhagen study found that sugar was not just present in cancer cells – but that it aided the growth of malignant cells. Researchers out of the University of Wurzburg in Germany, concluded that “significantly reducing the intake of dietary carbs could suppress or at least delay the emergence of cancer, and the proliferation of existing tumor cells could be slowed down.” According to the study, “many cancer patients exhibit an altered glucose metabolism characterized by insulin resistance and may profit from an increased protein and fat intake.”  There is currently promising research underway at the Salk Institute in La Jolla led by Dr. Reuben Shaw, PhD. to study the link between diabetes, sugar metabolism, and cancer.

  12. Kidney Disease:

    A recent study found that drinking sodas caused elevated levels of protein in our urine, which can be an indicator of kidney problems. According to a researcher with the study: “There is no safe amount of soda. If you look at the recommended amounts of sugar we can safely consume every day, one can of soda exceeds the maximum level.”  This is one example that shoots a big hole in the age-old adage “everything in moderation.”

  13. Fatty Liver:

    Research is revealing that diets high in sugar (particularly fructose), strains the liver, and is contributing to the development of non alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) . The American Liver Foundation estimates that one quarter of Americans have NAFLD, but since there is often no symptoms, these estimates could be too low. Fructose, one form of sugar – is processed differently than glucose. It does not require insulin to get into the cells. It bypasses the pancreas (which releases the insulin) and instead goes directly to the liver to be processed. So because fructose does not spike our bloodsugar like other sugars do, it was originally thought to be a healthier option – because it is lower glycemic. And when taken in small amounts by healthy people – there could be some truth to this.  However – because our liver only has a limited capacity to handle fructose and sugar – and we are eating loads of fructose (often as high fructose corn syrup), we are overwhelming our livers – causing them to get fatty.  Dr. Hyman refers to fatty livers being like “fois gras.”  Perhaps the most disturbing part of this is that an estimated one in 10 kids has NAFLD, and 40% of obese kids having it.

  14. Osteoporosis:

    Scientific studies reveal that elevated blood sugar and oxidative stress are contributing factors in the development of osteoporosis (Clarke 2010, Confavreux 2009, Lieben 2009; Zhou 2011).  Advanced glycation end products (AGE’s), the by-products of high blood sugar were shown to impair bone mineralization.  AGE’s also activate a receptor called RAGE, which diverts calcium from the bone, into vascular smooth muscle cells, which can lead to hardening of the arteries/ heart disease. (Study by: Tanikawa 2009; Franke 2007; Hein 2006; Zhou 2011).

  15. Hormone Issues:

    A study conducted at the University of British Columbia found that a diet high in sugars, especially fructose, could interrupt our sex hormones, leading to fertility issues, PCOS, and endometriosis. One reason sugar can interrupt hormone imbalance is in part the strain that is put on the liver to metabolize the fructose. The liver is very important for detoxing hormones.  Another way that excess sugar affects hormones is through aromatization – which is the conversion of testosterone to estrogen.  Diets high in sugar and simple carbs can increase aromatization – leading to estrogen dominance conditions in men and women.

  16. Accelerated Aging – Advanced Glycation End Products (AGEs):

    We all know that too much sun damage can make our skin look older, and smoking is a definite no no if we don’t want to look wrinkled and have lackluster skin. But one lesson I really wish I had gotten when I was in my teens or 20s to help keep your skin looking baby soft?  Skip the sugar. Sugar creates something called Advanced Glycation End Products (AGEs), which damages the collagen and elastin in our skin, and causes our skin to sag and look more wrinkled.  When there is sugar in our bloodsteam, they attach to proteins to form molecules that are called Advanced glycation end products (appropriately the acronym is AGEs).  The more sugar you eat, the more of these AGEs develop. AGEs are known to damage the collagen and elastin proteins in the skin, which is what gives the skin it’s elasticity, and volume, and helps to prevent wrinkles. Sugar affects our skin in 3 ways: When AGEs come into contact with collagen it changes the normally elastic and fluffy collagen and makes it brittle and dry, and that is what leads to sagging and wrinkling of the skin. There are 3 types of collagen – I, II, and III.  The strongest and most resilient type is III.  Sugar changes type III collagen into type I, which is more instable. Sugar interferes with the delivery of antioxidants in the body, so it can leave the skin more vulnerable to damage from the sun. “As AGEs accumulate, they damage adjacent proteins in a domino-like fashion,” explains Fredric Brandt, MD, a dermatologist in private practice in Miami and New York City and author of 10 Minutes 10 Years. The good news?  Although some of the wrinkles are here to stay, a little bit of the damage caused by sugar can be reversed when you give sugar the ole’ heave-ho!  I have experienced this myself personally.  When I gave up sugar a few years ago, I remember noticing some pretty remarkable improvements in the quality of my skin. Not enough that anyone thought I went out and got plastic surgery or anything. But enough that I noticed improvement.

  17. Brain fog, poor memory, Alzheimers:

    Insulin resistance can lead to lower levels of insulin in the brain, which over time could lead to memory problems, dementia, and Alzhimer’s or Type 3 Diabetes. According to Dr. David Perlmutter, author of the New York Times best-seller, Grain Brain – “sugar, carbs, and wheat are the brain’s silent killers.”   A recent study out of UCLA, indicates that added sugars affect memory and brain function – with researchers coming to the rather bold conclusion that “sugar makes you dumber.” Fortunately, the study also revealed a magic bullet that can make your brain work smarter, even reversing some of the negative effects of sugar…omega 3 fatty acids (found in fatty fish, fish oils, nuts, and some seeds like hemp and chia).  High sugar diets seem to be linked to poor learning, memory, and recall. But there is mounting evidence that it is also linked to more serious brain conditions – like Alzheimers. According to a study published in August 2013 in the New England Journal of Medicine, “even subtle elevations of fasting blood sugar translates to dramatically increased risk for dementia.” Many researchers are calling Alzheimer’s disease “Type 3 Diabetes,” because they are finding plaques in the brain that look very much like the diabetic plaques.  Learn more in this article from Psychology Today.

  18. Sleep issues

    Poor blood sugar regulation can cause your blood sugar to dip in the middle of the night, causing you to wake up.  Some people will also feel shaky – and will need to go get something to eat to stabilize their blood sugar in the middle of the night. Some people with more advanced blood sugar dysegulation might find that they need to get up and go to the bathroom several times at night.  This could be a signal that the kidneys are working overtime due to elevated blood sugar levels.

  19. Thyroid issues

    According to thyroid expert Dr. Izabella Wentz, poor blood sugar regulation can cause thyroid antibodies to spike, and can also weaken the adrenals (which work in conjunction with the thyroid).  She says that researchers from Polland have found that up to 50% of Hashimotos sufferers have impaired carbohydrate metabolism. According to Dr. Chris Kresser, “studies have shown that the repeated insulin surges common in insulin resistance increase the destruction of the thyroid gland in people with autoimmune thyroid disease. As the thyroid gland is destroyed, thyroid hormone production falls.

  20. Neurological issues

    Do you get tingling feelings, numbness, pain, or burning feelings in your extremeties?  This could be a sign of chronically elevated blood sugar levels.  According to pain management specialist Robert Bolash, MD. ““High blood sugar is toxic to your nerves. When a nerve is damaged, you may feel tingling, pins and needles, burning or sharp, stabbing pain.” According to the Cleveland Clinic, the bad news about daibetic neuropathy is that once you have it, it is very hard to reverse. So prevention is key – and the way that is done is by keeping blood sugar levels below diabetic levels. Neuropathy not only can lead to debilitating pain, but it also can cause dangerous infections. If you are experiencing nerve pain, tingling, numbness, or burning – along with having your blood sugar levels evaluated, make sure to rule out a B12 deficiency as well – as that can cause neuropathy, and could lead to permanent nerve damage if untreated.

  21. Death of all Causes:A study published in JAMA in 2014 linked sugar consumption to an increased risk of death of all causes – in both normal weight and overweight individuals. Those whose diet was comprised of 17-21% added sugars had a 38% higher risk of dying from a coronary event. The risk was doubled for those who got more than 21% of their diet from sugars.

Nope, it’s definitely not all sweet when it comes to sugar.

Because of the increased risk of heart disease from excess sugars, the American Heart Association has come up with recommended limits for added sugar for women & men:

  • Women should get no more than 6 teaspoons of added sugar a day (24 grams).
  • Men should get no more than 9 added teaspoons of sugar a day (36 grams).

Keep in mind – one 12 oz. soda has on average 10 teaspoons of sugar.

The type of sugar we eat also matters.  Fruit sugar is naturally occurring sugar and comes paired with fiber, antioxidants, minerals and vitamins – we can’t say that for a soda or a Slurpee.  So sugar from whole fruit is better than processed added sugars (which are empty calories).  But we can even overdo natural sugars like maple syrup, honey, dried fruit, and such.  And when there is insulin resistance, it is good to limit all sugars for a short time to reset the insulin response.

One of the best things you can do for your health is to take back control from sugar!

If you are getting too much sugar – you are not alone.  Most people are getting at least 3 times too much sugar in their daily diets – that doesn’t even take into account all the flour and simple carbs.

The biggest issues that most of us have – is that sugar is highly addictive (as addictive as a drug), and we are eating it often without even realizing it – because it is hiding in most packaged and processed foods.

Chapter One in my book The Perfect Metabolism Plan provides numerous tips for “Breaking up with Sugar” – including some surprising foods that spike the blood sugar, as well as nutritional tips and supplements that help to balance blood sugar, some good alternatives, and more.

break up with sugar program

 

If you are wanting a more in-depth program – consider my Break up with Sugar Online course.

You will get actionable tips to break old habits and form new ones, a support network, recipes (yes, they are delicious – I am a foodie – I don’t do bland), and the best of all….your tastebuds can even change!! Mine did!!

I used to LOVE my sugar and simple carbs – I was a bonafide sugar junkie for years. But since breaking up with sugar about 6 years ago – the idea of eating a super sweet caramel sundae no longer appeals to me at all!!  Ick! I’d rather have a square of 70% or higher dark chocolate instead now (yes, you can have some sweetness in your life – even if you break up with sugar!!).

Just remember that nutrition and lifestyle changes can be very powerful tools to help you change your health and reduce your risk of future diseases.

Signature

 

Sara Vance Article written by Nutritionist Sara Vance, author of the book
The Perfect Metabolism Plan A regular guest on Fox 5 San Diego, you can see many of Sara’s segments on her media page. She also offers corporate nutrition, school programs, consultations, and affordable online eCourses. Download her free 40+ page Metabolism Jumpstart eBook here.

*This article is for educational purposes only. The content contained in this article is not to be construed as providing medical advice. All information provided is general and not specific to individuals. Persons with questions about the above content as how it relates to them, should contact their medical professional. Persons already taking prescription medications should consult a doctor before making any changes to their supplements or medications.

©2015, all rights reserved. Sara Vance.

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Grain Free Pumpkin Mini Muffins

October 29, 2015
Pumpkin Muffins - Sara Vance

I love the Fall – the leaves are changing, there is a bit of a chill in the air, and we get to pull out the sweaters. But perhaps one of my favorite things about the Fall – is pumpkin!

Pumpkin is a member of the winter squash family – an excellent source of fiber, which supports a healthy digestive system. The deep orange color of the pumpkin flesh tells us that it is a rich source of beta carotene (vitamin A) – which is important for healthy eyes, and boosts the immune system too (important this time of year).

Growing up, it just never quite feel like Fall until my mom made a batch of her pumpkin bread. Moist, delicious, pumkin-y and fragrant with spices. But her recipe was made with white flour, lots of sugar, and vegetable oil (the recipe actually calls for ‘salad oil’). So I decided to reinvent her pumpkin bread into these delicious grain free anti-inflammatory pumpkin mini muffins – with healthy coconut oil replacing the ‘salad oil’, ground flax and coconut flour in place of the white flour, and waaaay less sugar. Plus, these are also nut free for my friends that can’t have nuts.

The plethora of spices in these muffins fill the kitchen with the scent of cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves while they bake.

Mini Pumpkin Flax Muffins

Ingredients:

  • 2 organic eggs
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil (melted) – plus extra for greasing muffin tin
  • 1/4 cup organic sugar or coconut sugar (or a combination of coconut sugar and stevia if you like)
  • 2 Tablespoons water or milk (non-dairy or raw)
  • 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
  • 1 cup of ground flax meal
  • 1 cup of pumpkin puree (use the rest for this amazing Pumpkin Cacao Chip smoothie)
  • ¼ cup of coconut flour
  • 1 Tablespoon of ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon high quality salt (like Himalayan)
  • 1/2 cup raisins (or 1/2 cup mini dark chocolate chips)

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Melt the coconut oil.
  • Lightly grease mini-muffin pan with some coconut oil (or you can line with muffin papers)
  • Mix together the eggs, sugar, pumpkin, vanilla, spices, salt, baking soda, and baking powder till well combined, then add in and mix together the rest of the ingredients – folding in the raisins or chocolate chips last (or sometimes – I just press them into the tops of the muffins before putting them into the oven to bake).
  • Spoon into the prepared muffin tin and put into the preheated oven.
  • Bake for about 15 mins.
  • Remove and allow to cool.

Makes about 24 mini muffins.

Serve & enjoy!  These are extra yummy with a little grass fed butter on them. 

Sources:

http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=63

http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/health-benefits-eating-pumpkin-puree-4645.html

Sara Vance Article written by Nutritionist Sara Vance, author of the book
The Perfect Metabolism Plan A regular guest on Fox 5 San Diego, you can see many of Sara’s segments on her media page. She also offers corporate nutrition, school programs, consultations, and affordable online eCourses. Download her free 40+ page Metabolism Jumpstart eBook here.

*This article is for educational purposes only. The content contained in this article is not to be construed as providing medical advice. All information provided is general and not specific to individuals. Persons with questions about the above content as how it relates to them, should contact their medical professional. Persons already taking prescription medications should consult a doctor before making any changes to their supplements or medications.

©2015, all rights reserved. Sara Vance.

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Candy Overload? I Have a Deal for You!

November 3, 2014
candy-corn
Categories: Halloween, Sugar

If you are like most households in this country – you have been knee-deep in candy – for days (maybe weeks) now.  I even walked by a bowl of Halloween candy at the gym today (say whaaat?)!!  It seems to be everywhere!

And it is a slippery slope….you think, hey “just one itty bitty little candy bar” can’t hurt, right? …and it certainly wouldn’t…if we actually stopped at one.  But soon we are reaching in the candy bowl over and over, and the wrappers are piling up (I know, because I have been there, done that myself in the past).

Have you tried to give up sugar before, only to get sucked back in?

Studies show that sugar is as addictive as a drug, and in addition to all that candy, most packaged and processed foods contain lots of hidden sugar! So it is no surprise that the majority of Americans are just getting too much of it and find it next to impossible to stop!
Yes, You Can Do This!

A few years ago right around this time – I had just had it with sugar.  I was tired of needing to eat every couple of hours or I would get hangry (hungry-angry). I was tired of feeling sluggish every afternoon, and tired of wondering who that old lady was looking back at me in the mirror. I was tired of always needing something sweet after dinner. I guess I was just tired of being…tired. The best part?  I was simply not prepared for how AMAZING breaking up with sugar would actually be!

I used to think sugar was just empty calories – but it is much more sinister than that.  High sugar diets not only wreak havoc on our metabolism, moods, energy, and immunity; but over time – they can increase our risk of many diseases (including cancer, heart disease, and one of the fastest growing diseases in this country – non-alcoholic fatty liver disease).  And if that is not enough, they create AGEs (advanced glycation end products) – which leads to wrinkles and sagging skin (I know, I wish I knew about that one when I was in my 20s!).

So last year around this time, I decided to create my one week eCourse – Break Up with Sugar. 
It teaches you WHY you should ditch the sugar and HOW to do it (and not go too crazy)!!

And right now, for a limited time – I am offering 50% off the price (ends Nov. 10th)!!

What you Get:

  • Get daily emails/course materials – to help you stay on track and accountable!
  • The Break up with Sugar guide and recipes – to help you ditch the sugar for a week, and reset!
  • Meal plan & prep tips – to help you stay organized!
  • An online community to share thoughts and post questions

I also share a lot of my personal history with sugar, and even my break up letter that I wrote to sugar (yes, humor is key)!
How about you?  Are you OVER the sugar? Ready to take back the control?
Breaking up with sugar could very well be the best thing you do for your metabolism, mood, immunity, sleep, energy, and overall health.

Breaking up with sugar is the first of 10 keys in my upcoming book The Perfect Metabolism Plan (Red Wheel/Conari, March 2015).  I pushed really hard to have it be the first key (even though my editor thought it was a bit much to hit people with the sugar bomb right off the bat), because I know that it is simply not possible to optimize your metabolism and health when your blood sugar is out of control.

Maybe you are not even hooked on candy…. there are many ways we can be spiking our blood sugar.  Maybe it is the wine, sodas, fruit juice, lattes, and even low sugar foods like pretzels – which was “my sugar” for years (read: Are Pretzels Worse Than a Candy Bar?).

Are you over it?  But not sure how to break free from the sugar?

Sign up for my 1 Week Break up with Sugar e Course -now on sale for 50% off (for one week only)!

Serena the Switch Witch bookWant an idea for the kid’s candy too?  See if they would like to trade their candy for a toy – it is not too late for the Switch Witch to pay them a visit!!

Sara Vance Article written by Nutritionist Sara Vance, author of the book
The Perfect Metabolism Plan A regular guest on Fox 5 San Diego, you can see many of Sara’s segments on her media page. She also offers corporate nutrition, school programs, consultations, and affordable online eCourses. Download her free 40+ page Metabolism Jumpstart eBook here.

*This article is for educational purposes only. The content contained in this article is not to be construed as providing medical advice. All information provided is general and not specific to individuals. Persons with questions about the above content as how it relates to them, should contact their medical professional. Persons already taking prescription medications should consult a doctor before making any changes to their supplements or medications.

©2015, all rights reserved. Sara Vance.

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The Halloween Sugar Rollercoaster

November 5, 2013
bigstock-Amusement-park-rides-19603847-1024x849

Halloween is over, so while is your sweet child acting like a little monster…?

In the weeks that follow Halloween parents might notice that their child:

  • Is a little grumpier
  • Is having trouble sitting still
  • Has caught another cold or virus
  • Has been having trouble in class with his behavior or focus

Don’t worry – it could be the Halloween candy!

Between all the sugar and artificial colors, it is no wonder our kids’ aren’t their usual selves. All that candy has them on the Sugar Rollercoaster!

What is the Sugar Rollercoaster?

When we eat sugar, it goes surging into our bloodstream, giving us a burst of energy.  But that energy is short-lived, and followed by a crash.  So naturally, we tend to reach for more of what gave us the burst of energy, and the cycle happens all over again.  I call this the “sugar rollercoaster,” and it is easy to get stuck on it!  The blood sugar crash causes moodiness, increased hunger, low energy, and can even lead to shakiness.

Sugar and Immunity

Sugar also lowers our production of white blood cells, which reduces our immunity, not what we need this time of year when colds and flu season is coming into its’ peak.

More Addictive Than Cocaine?

A recent study found that sugar was more addictive than cocaine, so it is not surprising that once you get started, it is hard to stop.

What about the Artificial Colors?

In addition to the sugar, one packet of Skittles contains 9 (yes NINE) different artificial colors. Many parents might not realize the impact that all those colors can have on their kids.  Artificial colors has been shown to negatively affect behavior and attention in certain susceptible kids. Europe has recognized this, and all products with artificial colors must contain warning labels.  So most brands use natural colorings in Europe, while they use the brighter and cheaper artificial colors in the U.S.  Watch this Halloween Candy Controvery segment on the Today Show to learn more.

So how much sugar does Halloween really add to the average kids’ diet?

Did you know that the average kid collects about 100 pieces of candy on Halloween night?  Well, Screen Shot 2013-11-05 at 8.32.53 AMthey are just fun-sized candies – so it is no big deal right?  Well, a fun sized packet of Skittles contains 11.4 grams of sugar, which amounts to just under 3 teaspoons of sugar.  Two packets of fun sized Skittles, and your child has already met their recommended added sugar intake for the whole day!!  That leaves no room for the added sugar that is coming in their yogurt tubes, cereals, sports drinks, snack bars, fruit juice, flavored milks, or the barbeque sauce they dip their nuggets into (a surprising number of BBQ sauces’ first ingredient is high fructose corn syrup)!

It Really Adds Up

Let’s assume that on average, each fun sized candy has about 2.5 teaspoons of sugar, and if a kid brings home 100 pieces, that will add up to 250 teaspoons of sugar or 3,700 calories of pure sugar!  The average teenage boy already eats over 500 calories a day of sugar on average (not considering Halloween candy in the mix).  So just 5 fun sized candies each day will add an extra 12.5 teaspoons of sugar (that is 1/4 cup!), which is an extra 187 calories of nutrient-void candy.  If they are eating 5 pieces a day, it will take them 20 days to eat the 100 pieces – so that is an extra 3,700 calories of sugar in less than 3 weeks!!

What’s a Parent to Do?

American kids already are getting way too much sugar in their daily diets. But trick or treating really takes them over the edge.   So what is a parent to do about all that candy laying around?

  • Invite the Switch Witch to come for a visit! The Switch Witch is like the Tooth Fairy – she comes in the days after Halloween to trade candy for a toy.  I loved the idea of the Switch Witch, but I wondered why she trades candy for a toy, so I decided to write an eBook last year about why she does this – and that is how Serena the Switch Witch was born!!  It is available for Nook and iPad on Lulu.com for just $1.99!!   My sister did all the art for the book too.   Kids can choose a couple of peices to keep, and then leaves the rest for the Switch Witch, and she will bring them a toy in it’s place!
  • Bring the candy to a Candy Buy Back program – a lot of pediatric dentists have these – they will give you a small sum of money for each pound of candy you turn in.  Then they send the candy along with toothbrushes to the troops overseas.  Go to www.halloweencandybuyback.com to find a candy buy back location near you!
  • If the kids decide to keep the candy, make sure they are not keeping it in their room.  If it is in their room, they will be more likely to eat it all day long, and you might just find a few dozen wrappers under their bed next time you clean.
  • Pool the candy together in a “movie stash,” and hide it away somewhere the kids won’t find it, and is very inconvenient for you to sneak it too.  We have done this in the past, and then when we go to the movies, I let my kids pick out one or two Halloween sized candies for the movie.  It is a fun treat, and then you don’t pay the movie prices, or end up with the movie sized candy boxes.
  • If you do keep the candy, get rid of everything that has artificial colors in it, because that can contribute to hyperactivity and focus/attention problems.
  • Do science experiments with the candy!!  Such as making this colored rainbow… I think putting artificial colors in our bodies is kind of like doing a science experiment anyway, so why not do an ACTUAL science experiment that your kids can learn from (not get all hyper from)??

Sara Vance Article written by Nutritionist Sara Vance, author of the book
The Perfect Metabolism Plan A regular guest on Fox 5 San Diego, you can see many of Sara’s segments on her media page. She also offers corporate nutrition, school programs, consultations, and affordable online eCourses. Download her free 40+ page Metabolism Jumpstart eBook here.

*This article is for educational purposes only. The content contained in this article is not to be construed as providing medical advice. All information provided is general and not specific to individuals. Persons with questions about the above content as how it relates to them, should contact their medical professional. Persons already taking prescription medications should consult a doctor before making any changes to their supplements or medications.

©2015, all rights reserved. Sara Vance.

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Tired of all the Candy? The Switch Witch to the Rescue!

November 2, 2012
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Categories: Halloween

The Halloween decorations and costumes are all put away, the Jack O’ Lanterns are gone. It is time to gear up for our next holiday – Thanksgiving.  But since most kids come home from trick or treating with pounds of candy, the Halloween treats are likely still lingering.

The thing about candy and sugar is, the more you eat, the more you want.  So once kids get started, it is hard to stop eating the candy (and adults too, it is not easy for us to have those candy bags laying around is it?).

All the empty calories and artificial colorings in candy can contribute to tooth decay, weight gain, mood swings, focus issues, and there is some evidence to show that diets high in sugar also can lead to heart disease and reduced immunity. According to Dr. Sears, “the immune-suppressing effect of sugar starts less than thirty minutes after ingestion and may last for five hours.”

Don’t worry – it is not too late to invite the Switch Witch to come for a visit!!

The Switch Witch travels the world in the days that follow Halloween trading toys for the candy, sort of like the “Tooth Fairy” of Halloween.  She is a kind and fair witch, so she even suggests that the kids pick a few choice ones to keep (mom and dad can decide how many), and then leave the rest outside their door before they go to sleep.  Kids wake up the next morning looking forward to their surprise, instead of lamenting over the missing candy.

Serena the Switch Witch bookMy friend Jill told me the Switch Witch fable 4 years ago, and I was hooked!  I loved the Switch Witch tale so much, that I decided that kids should know why the Switch Witch does this, and who she is.  So I decided to write the book: Serena the Switch Witch, a fun eBook about a little witch named Serena and how she came to be known “The Switch Witch.”  Serena is a creative little witch that loves to play with her cat Spook, invent fun new magic spells (like turning rocks into toys), and she also loves candy!  Read Serena the Switch Witch to find out why Serena has to travel the world after Halloween trading candy for a toy.

Try reading Serena the Switch Witch to your kids, and see if they would like her to pay them a visit!  Available on Amazon Kindle for just $3.99 (free for Prime or Kindle Unlimited)!

What to do with the candy Serena takes away?  Bring it to a Candy Buy Back program – find a location near you!

Read this article for some other Tricks for Handling those Halloween Treats.

Sara Vance Article written by Nutritionist Sara Vance, author of the book
The Perfect Metabolism Plan A regular guest on Fox 5 San Diego, you can see many of Sara’s segments on her media page. She also offers corporate nutrition, school programs, consultations, and affordable online eCourses. Download her free 40+ page Metabolism Jumpstart eBook here.

*This article is for educational purposes only. The content contained in this article is not to be construed as providing medical advice. All information provided is general and not specific to individuals. Persons with questions about the above content as how it relates to them, should contact their medical professional. Persons already taking prescription medications should consult a doctor before making any changes to their supplements or medications.

©2015, all rights reserved. Sara Vance.

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Tricks for Handling those Halloween Treats

October 19, 2012
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Categories: Halloween

Halloween is a fun time for the kids – they get to dress up, put on spooky make up, celebrate at parties, and walk in parades.  But a favorite Halloween tradition is also trick or treating, so that means a bucket of candy coming home.  Loading up on candy and sweets can lead to cavities, weight gain, moodiness and even reduced immunity.

The thing about sugar, is it causes your blood sugar to spike. And what goes up, must come crashing down – so when that happens, kids often will reach for more sugar to boost their energy back up. I call it that the “sugar roller coaster.”  Once you get on the sugar roller coaster, it is hard to get off!!

Tricks for those Halloween Treats!

Short of banning trick or treating all together – here are some tips and tricks to help manage all the treats and bring some balance back to Halloween:

  • Make sure kids eat a good healthy meal before going out to trick or treat – they will eat less candy along the way.
  • Set up rules ahead of time – how many pieces of candy can they have while trick or treating, and how many pieces per day they can have after Halloween?
  • When it comes to the trick or treat bag or bucket – size does matter – two pillowcases full of candy is more candy than 5 kids should eat all year. Send them out with a smaller bag/bucket to limit the haul.
  • Walking is great exercise – but Halloween night is not the time to walk 4 miles – the fewer houses you visit, the less candy will come home.  It is not the amount of candy, it is the experience of trick or treating with friends and family.
  • Keep the candy in a place besides their room – out of sight, out of mind.  They will be less tempted to “sneak” it all day long.
  • Think about offering alternatives at your own home – other parents will be grateful that you did not add to the candy haul.  And then you won’t have leftovers to add to the candy collection either (and you won’t be snacking on it leading up to Halloween.
  • If you are going to offer candy – why not choose candy that is a little better?  Visit Natural Candy Store and you will find organic lollipops with vitamin C and all natural colors, fair trade dark chocolate, and lots of allergy-friendly and naturally colored candies and treats.
  • After Halloween, encourage kids to bring some or all of their candy to a Candy Buy Back program! Many dentist’s offices participate – and they pay per pound of candy.  They then send the candy to the troops overseas.
  • Schedule a visit from the Switch Witch!!  The Switch Witch takes the candy and trades it for a toy (the kids can even choose a few pieces to keep if they like first).  Read The Switch Witch eBook to your kids after Halloween night, and they might just decide to trade their candy for a toy!!

Hosting or heading off to a Halloween party?  For some tips and ideas for a healthier Halloween party, including how to make a melon brain, and apple bites – read Healthy Halloween.

Sara Vance Article written by Nutritionist Sara Vance, author of the book
The Perfect Metabolism Plan A regular guest on Fox 5 San Diego, you can see many of Sara’s segments on her media page. She also offers corporate nutrition, school programs, consultations, and affordable online eCourses. Download her free 40+ page Metabolism Jumpstart eBook here.

*This article is for educational purposes only. The content contained in this article is not to be construed as providing medical advice. All information provided is general and not specific to individuals. Persons with questions about the above content as how it relates to them, should contact their medical professional. Persons already taking prescription medications should consult a doctor before making any changes to their supplements or medications.

©2015, all rights reserved. Sara Vance.

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Healthy Halloween

October 13, 2011
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Halloween parties and treats can be fun, festive & yes – even healthy!  Here are some tips and ideas to make your Halloween celebrations healthier this year.

The Healthier Halloween Party. 

The kids are all dressed in their costumes, and excited to play games and eat spooky treats.  But with tons of candy and sugary foods everywhere this time of year, many kids are actually relieved to have some savory & healthy options too.  Alongside the candy & sweets – serving foods with protein and/or fiber – will help to level out the sugar rush & crash.

Some Fun/Healthier Halloween Party Ideas:

  • Melon Brain – this “brain” from Disney Family Fun makes an amazing centerpiece for your Halloween celebration, and later you can cut into your “brain,” I bet everyone will want to try a bite.  Disney Family Fun has a bunch of really great ideas for healthy Halloween party foods.
  • Witches fingers– made out of string cheese, and green pepper – they really do look like fingers!  Besides being creepy and fun, having some protein will help to level out kids’ bloodsugar at the party.  You can also make them out of carrots and almond slices too.
  • Apple bites – made out of apples and almond slivers.  They are fun & easy to make and eat – and healthy too!  I think these are fun year-round!
  • Snack O’ Lantern Fruit Cups:  This snack can also be a craft at the party – cut the top off and let the kids scoop the flesh out of oranges (save & chop orange bits and toss with other fruit).  Let the kids draw jack o’ lantern faces on their orange “pumpkins” (parents can cut out the shapes) and then fill with the mixed fruit. They have their very own a Snack O’ Lantern fruit cup!  Great photo opp – of each kid holding their own snack o’ lantern.
  • Fizzy Fruit Sodas with Spider Ice cubes!  Freeze ice cubes with Halloween spider rings in them – each drink gets one!  Its a party favor and a spooky drink!  Instead of serving soda or juice with artificial colors and high fructose corn syrup – put 2 parts apple cider (or fresh citrus juice) and 1 part sparkling water.  Add a little bit of clear Natures Agave nectar if it needs a little sweetening.  Stir and serve with Halloween straws and spider ring ice cubes.
  • 5 a Day Bandz – a fun party favor, 5 a Day Bandz help kids track their fruit & veggie consumption.  Put all the bands on the left wrist in the morning, and move 1 to the right each time you eat a fruit or veggie – shoot for a minimum of 5 on the right wrist by the end of the day!  Each pack comes with a card with tips for incorporating fruits & veggies, and information about how the program works – they are great motivator for picky eaters.
  • Pumpkin Seeds – kids love to munch on roasted pumpkin seeds.  So don’t toss them out after you carve your Jack-O-Lanterns.  Here is a recipe from the Food Network for several kinds of pumpkin seeds – including barbeque flavored!  Rich in minerals and vitamin E.
  • Cheddar and salt & pepper popchips – the black and orange bags are festive Halloween colors, and popchips are a better option than other chips that have artificial colors and trans fats.  My chip ‘rule of thumb’ is – don’t eat the chips that turn your thumbs bright orange (because they probably have artificial colors and other stuff kids don’t need)!

Healthier Treating. 

For anyone who is trying to avoid artificial colors and high fructose corn syrup – Halloween can be a “fright night.”  Many Halloween treats and party foods contain artificial colors, additives, high fructose corn syrup, and preservatives, which can wreak havoc on some kids’ mood, behavior, and focus/attention.  Looking for some healthier options to hand out at parties or trick or treat time?

Check out Natural Candy Store – they offer all natural candy that has no trans fats, artificial sweeteners, colors, flavors, or preservatives.  They even have options for people on specialty diets like Feingold.  Try their Surf Sweets, Yummy Earth lollipops, Equal Exchange mini dark chocolates, Endangered Species Bug Bites chocolate, they even have some cool bat and pumpkin shaped lollipops, or get a mixed bag with several different kinds!  The Endangered Species Bug Bites chocolate is 100% ethically traded organic cacao, and each one comes with a card inside that features a bug – a picture on one side, and a description on the other.   My kids really like Yummy Earth‘s Organic Vitamin C Pops.

It is all still candy – so it is still best to limit it – but unlike most other Halloween candy, Natural Candy Store’s candy is made without chemicals, artificial colors, trans fats, etc.  It is nice that families who are trying to avoid those things have options.

Halloween Cookies and Cupcakes

Instead of grabbing the pre-made Halloween cookies or cupcakes from the store bakery, which are probably loaded with trans fats, artificial colors and high fructose corn syrup.  Make home-baked pumpkin cookies or cupcakes – or even pumpkin doughnuts – baking is a fun activity, and anything homemade is always better than store-bought, especially if you sneak in some healthy “boosts” (such as flax or chia). If you want to make them fun & festive colors, you can decorate them with natural food colors instead of the artificially colored kind.  Where can you find natural food colors? The Natural Candy Store carries them – they have an assortment of concentrated natural decorating colors to make orange and black icing.

I thought this recipe for Pumpkin Whoopie Pies from Rachel Ray looked fun, festive, and pretty easy – you can even make them ahead and freeze them!  I am going to make them for my son’s Halloween class party, but I am going to add some ground chia or flax seed to the pies, and replace the confectioners sugar with a 1/2 cup of agave nectar for the frosting.  I am going to make the frosting orange colored using the natural liquid food coloring I got from the Natural Candy Store.

Post Trick or Treat Candy Overload? Find a Halloween Buy – Back Program.

Most kids come back from Trick or Treating with a bucket filled with hundreds of pieces of candy – more than most parents would like them to eat in a year! Not only does it contribute to tooth decay, it is full of empty calories, artificial coloring – all that sugary candy certainly won’t help kids focus in school, or boost their immunity.

Serena the Switch Witch bookBut what can you do with it all?  Look for a Halloween Candy Buy-Back program near you.  Many local dentist’s office will take the candy, weigh it, and give you money for each pound of candy you turn in.  What do they do with all that candy?  They send it to the troops overseas.  To find a participating dentist in your area, visit the Halloween Candy Buy Back site.

Or invite the Switch Witch to come to your house – we let our kids choose 1 piece a day for a few days, and they leave the rest for the Switch Witch, who will trade their candy for a toy.

Or for those budding scientists – why not do some science experiments with the candy – check out these fun Candy Experiments.

I asked some of my friends what they do to make Halloween healthier, and here are some of their useful tips and tricks and some links to cool blogs about healthy Halloween ideas:

  • My Munch Bug says: “For my clients with food allergies, juvenile diabetes or other food related issues (or for families who just want to reduce the amount of junk!), the parents let them enjoy the fun of trick or treating and bring home a big sackful. Then, they let them pick a few treats that meet their dietary restrictions if they want to…then weigh the rest. Each pound is equal to $1 and they sell their loot for a special trip as a family to the toy store. In a perfect world, all the neighbors would give out healthy treats (some do!) but this is a strategy that seems to keep everyone happy.
  • Stacy H says: We let our son choose a few to eat that night – keep 3 pieces for later- and put the rest out for the “Switch Witch.” We donate the rest to those who send it to soldiers over seas.
  • I loved these Savory Halloween ideas from the Ladies Who Lunch, especially the cheddar cheese ghosts and pumpkin muffins.
  • I liked this blog from Spoonfed: Halloween Treats Don’t Have to be Tricky.  They also turned us onto the Candy Experiments website – thanks Spoonfed!

Sara Vance Article written by Nutritionist Sara Vance, author of the book
The Perfect Metabolism Plan A regular guest on Fox 5 San Diego, you can see many of Sara’s segments on her media page. She also offers corporate nutrition, school programs, consultations, and affordable online eCourses. Download her free 40+ page Metabolism Jumpstart eBook here.

*This article is for educational purposes only. The content contained in this article is not to be construed as providing medical advice. All information provided is general and not specific to individuals. Persons with questions about the above content as how it relates to them, should contact their medical professional. Persons already taking prescription medications should consult a doctor before making any changes to their supplements or medications.

©2015, all rights reserved. Sara Vance.

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