Gluten-Free Chocolate Banana Protein Muffins

In my ever present search for easy recipes, I stumbled upon these delicious gluten-free muffins. But these aren’t your average muffins, filled with sugar and simple carbohydrates, creating a blood sugar spike and leaving you hungry for more. These muffins are a meal! Bake up a big batch or two (or three), and you have easy, on-the-go mini meals, filled with complex carbs, good fats, and protein to keep you full for hours! As with all recipes, the ingredients listed below function as a base. Experiment to your heart’s content!

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup Almond Flour
  • 1/2 cup Oat Flour
  • 1/4 cup Amaranth Flour
  • 1 cup Egg Whites/Eggs (I use 1/2 cup each, feel free to use whatever ratio your prefer or what you have on hand)
  • 7 to 8oz Greek Yogurt
  • 3 Ripe Bananas
  • 1 tbsp Coconut Oil
  • 2 tbsp Cacao (Chocolate) Powder
  • 1 tbsp Vanilla Extract
  • 1 tsp Cinnamon

Preparation:

  • 1. Preheat oven to 400˚F. Coat silicone muffin cups or muffin pan with olive oil so as not to stick.
  • 2. In a large bowl, mash bananas into a paste. I like them a little chunky for texture.
  • 3. Mix all remaining ingredients into the bowl until a smooth consistency is reached.
  • 4. Spoon mixture into muffin cups/muffin pan.
  • 5. Bake in oven approximately 15-17 minutes. Remove from the oven, let cool, and eat!

Thinking about going gluten free? Or not sure what gluten is? Check out this article!

Is Raw Milk Really Safe?

Milk is onIt's a cow!e of the most widely debated foods. Should we consume it? Is it natural for us to consume milk beyond infancy? Are most people allergic to milk? Should we ferment milk? Is milk really mucous forming? Do you need milk to build strong bones? What about all the fat and cholesterol in milk? Is low-fat or non-fat milk better than whole milk? Perhaps one of the largest debates at present regarding milk is whether or not milk should be consumed in its raw state or pasteurized and/or homogenized.

To understand this debate we must first know what exactly pasteurization and homogenization entail. Pasteurization is a process originally developed by French scientist Louis Pasteur. It is a process of heating a raw food to a certain temperature for a specific length of time, and then cooling it immediately, in order to eliminate all harmful and potentially pathogenic micro-organisms within the food. This process differs from sterilization in that is does not eliminate ALL micro-organisms, but only those that are deemed hazardous. Additionally, Pasteurization aims to eliminate most enzyme activity within a food. Pasteurization of food extends the shelf-life of foods that would otherwise spoil too quickly (such as for shipping). Pasteurization of food can be applied to more than milk, such as for wine. Today, two types of Pasteurization are utilized for milk in the United States. The first is high-temperature, short-time pasteurization, where milk is heated to approximately 71.7°C (161°F) for 15-20 seconds. The second is ultra-high temperature Pasteurization (or simply ultra-Pasteurization), where milk is heated to 135°C (275°F) for at least 1 second.

Homogenization is an emulsifying technique, designed to break the fat globules contained within milk into smaller and smaller particles, so as to prevent the separation of milk into its components (fats, lactose, and proteins). Milk is homogenized by pushing milk through a small tubes, called pores, that slowly get smaller and smaller as the milk continues through. As the tubes shrink, the fat globules in the milk break apart and become smaller. The pressure required to push milk through these tubes can range from 2,000 pounds per square inch up to 14,500 pounds per square inch. Typical fat globules in milk range in size from 1-10 microns, but after homogenization can range from 0.2-2 microns. Because the fat globules are now much smaller than previously, they remain suspended in the milk itself, rather than simply rising to the top of the milk. The amount of pressure required to homogenize milk creates an amount of heat approximately equal to that of Pasteurization.

Raw milkProponents of raw milk claim that has a host of benefits:

  • Raw milk has numerous antibacterial properties that help protect itself and those that drink it from harmful pathogens
  • Raw milk contains natural enzymes that helps digest all components of milk
  • Raw milk also contains numerous bacteria that produce lactase, the digestive enzyme that helps break down the milk sugar lactose, a component of milk that gives many people digestive trouble
  • While many people are indeed allergic to milk, most people with sensitives have allergies to the super-heated proteins in Pasteurized and homogenized milk, and are thus not actually allergic to milk
  • Raw milk contains natural growth hormones if it comes from a healthy mother cow feeding on good green grass, and is thus a very healing food
  • Raw milk contains higher levels of conjugated-linoleic acid (CLA), a healthy medium-chain tryglyceride (a saturated fat) that aids your body’s immune system and ability to utilize fat as energy
  • Raw milk contains a higher percentage of vitamin B12, as B12 is easily destroyed in heat
  • Raw milk contains raw protein, and thus is easier for our bodies to break down and assimilate for use
  • Raw milk that is fermented, such as a good raw cheese, is even easier for our bodies to assimilate, and contain additional beneficial bacteria that aid in digestion

Proponents of pasteurized/homogenized milk, such as the FDA, claim:

  • Pasteurization does not cause allergies to milk to lactose intolerance
  • Raw milk does not kill dangerous pathogens by itself
  • Pasteurization does kill harmful pathogens
  • Pasteurization does not decrease milk’s nutritional value, including B12
  • Raw milk contains a dangerous bacteria known as Listeria, which can cause miscarriage and death of a fetus or newborn
  • Raw milk can be a source of food-borne illnesses, such as vomiting, diarrhea, fevers, headaches, and body aches

Milk?

The purpose of this article is not to dissuade or persuade the consumption of either raw milk, pasteurized milk, or homogenized milk, or to promote one above another. However, my personal experience has given me a wealth of information when it comes to consuming milk. This is my experience, as it pertains to how milk reacts in my body. I encourage all people to wisely experiment with foods, and be conscious and note how not only milk, but all foods, react within their bodies. I initially began eliminating dairy from my diet a few years ago, attempting to find any food sensitivities I may have. I noted no drastic differences at first when eliminating cheeses, but did notice I had less allergies in general once I eliminated liquid milk. Upon adding liquid milk back into my diet, my allergies again flared up. I assumed this meant I should not consume milk at all, and virtually eliminated it, with the exception of cheese occasionally, for a couple years. Then I heard about raw milk. For the majority of my life, I never knew there could be a difference. Milk is milk, right? But I decided to give it a try; after all, I’ve always loved milk. There was no negative reaction, no allergies whatsoever. In fact, it seemed like my body was bursting with energy. I loved it. I am fortunate to live in a California, where raw milk is currently legal. While I don’t drink raw milk everyday, I do enjoy it occasionally as a treat.

I do encourage people to try raw milk if they find they have sensitivities to milk and would like to truly enjoy milk. But again, do it wisely, try it slowly. I know many people that simply cannot tolerate milk in any form, and also many that find no difference in how they feel or how they digest raw milk, pasteurized milk, or homogenized milk. If you are fortunate to have access to any form of milk that is fed a natural diet of grass and not injected with numerous hormones unnecessary to its production, and are able to digest milk, enjoy it as you would all things: in moderation, not to excess.

Feeling Full and Satisfied with Food

The latest fad diets are hard to ignore. They are plastered in front of our faces on magazine covers, commercials, blogs, internet ads, books, and grocery stores. Low Carb? Low Fat? Paleo? Separating carbs and protein? Raw Food? HOW DOES A PERSON KNOW WHAT TO EAT????

There’s a lot of misinformation out there, but luckily science can come to the rescue. Nutritional studies come out with new findings every year, but there are some basic facts that can help sort through the endless information available. One tool: the basics of energy metabolism. This can be quite simple, and doesn’t have to be a long, boring science lecture.

The basic idea: To get the most satiation and satiety (fullness right after a meal, and the length of time you stay satisfied), it is beneficial to have carbohydrates, protein, fat and fiber in your meals. Different foods serve different purposes, and you can have eat a snack with only protein or only carbs and survive. But if you want to feel satisfied and full, it’s important to include a bit of everything. (Also, vegetables are the magic ingredient!) Here’s why:

Vegetables: They contain a lot of fiber and very few calories. The fiber and bulk of vegetable roughage causes a feeling of fullness and satisfaction, and supplies the body with a range of nutrients.
Eating only vegetables: You may feel full initially, but your body will quickly use the calories and you will soon be hungry. Also, with so few calories, a meal of purely vegetables lacks the energy it takes to be active.
Too few vegetables: You may take in too many calories, since it will take a lot of protein and fat to feel full. Fiber is super important for digestion, and the diverse micronutrients will satisfy your body’s needs, making you feel more satisfied.

Carbs: Starch and Carbohydrates provide the most immediate energy source. The body breaks them down quickly, and the calories are soon available for use. This means that you feel more full faster, and can start using the energy right away.
Too many carbs: If your meal contains too much starch, you will have a lot of energy available immediately; but if you don’t use it quite quickly it will be stored as fat.
Too few carbs: If you eat too little starch, it will be more difficult to feel full, and you may eat too many calories before feeling satiated (satisfied).

Quiche with goat cheese and spinach, salad with basil pesto dressing. A beautifully balanced meal from my new favorite restaurant, WeHo Bistro.

Protein: This includes any complete amino acid chain, including vegetables sources. Beans, hemp, soy, and eggs all count as protein. Protein takes longer to digest than carbs, so the energy becomes available awhile after you eat. To feel fuller longer, this is a good thing. If protein is in your meal, once the energy from a carb spike drops, the energy spike from protein kicks in.
Too much protein: Too much protein (especially animal protein) causes free radicals in your blood. Free radicals are bodily chemicals that will run free and ravage the body, causing various diseases and harm. Most Americans test too high in blood protein.
Too little protein: If you don’t have enough protein in a meal, (i.e. your meal is purely starch), your blood sugar may drop, and you can become irritable and hungry faster.

Fat: Poor dietary fat. It has gotten the worst rap among “health food” and diet advocates. But, our body needs a certain amount of dietary fat. Fat gives us energy, and fatty acids (like Omega 3) promote brain activity. Plus, fats make us feel more full for longer. Studies show that people who follow a low-fat diet get hungry faster, feel unsatisfied, and end up eating more calories in a day than those who don’t eliminate fat. Since the “low-fat” craze of the 90’s, heart disease has actually been on the rise.
Fat takes the longest to provide energy to our body, so after your carb energy spike and protein energy spike have subsided, the energy spike from fat kicks in. So this provides a longer satiety (length of satisfaction and fullness from a meal), and may make you less likely to reach for unhealthy snacks in between meals.
Too much fat: Before you pour cream and bacon on your pasta in excitement, know that you can eat too much fat. It is 9 calories per gram (compared to protein and carbs which have 3 calories per gram), so you can go overboard. It may make you feel sluggish or overly full, and excess calories can be stored as body fat. Plus, fat quality is important. Cold-pressed olive oil and coconut oil are different than toxic margarine, canola oil, and bacon fat. So choose quality of quanity.
Too little fat: Your cells need fat for energy, building, and repair. Too little fat means you may get hungry too soon after a meal, and reach for unhealthy snacks. The minerals and hormones produced by your thyroid can also become off-balance. Too little Omega 3 can result in memory problems. So, add some olive oil to your brown rice, or some raw butter to your asparagus.

Sugar: Energy from sugar is the available the quickest, but this is only beneficial if you need immediate energy without the desire of a full belly (like when you’re running a marathon or riding a bike.) The sugar provides immediate energy for use, without the body needing to “waste energy” digesting. But if you don’t use the energy immediately, it will cause an insulin spike and store the extra energy as fat!

Food Spotlight: Asparagus

Asparagus was once considered to be a member of the lily family of plants, and while it is now considered to be in its own family, it is still remarkably similar to other lilies such as garlic and onions. When we consume asparagus as a vegetable, we eat the young shoot of the plant. Once the bud at the end of the spear we consume opens, the plant creates a fern-like structure that would be too hard or ‘woody’ to eat. The exact origin of asparagus is unknown. We do know that it originates somewhere in the Mediterranean, where it has been consumed for thousands and thousands of years. It may have been consumed and cultivated to some degree as early as 20,000 BP in Egypt. It is depicted in ancient Egyptian friezes dating to approximately 3000 BC, and was consumed and cultivated extensively in Greece, Rome, Syria, and Spain. The vegetable was so prized by Emperor Augustus of Rome that he created an ‘Asparagus Fleet,’ whose sole duty was to haul the vegetable from the fields for the wealthy. The oldest surviving cookbook, De Re Coquinaria by Apiucius, which hails from Rome during the 4th or 5th century AD, contains a recipe for delicately cooking asparagus.

Fresh, young, growing shoots of plants are some of the most nutrient dense foods, and asparagus is no exception. Asparagus is abound with the nutrient Vitamin K, an essential fat-soluble nutrient that helps your blood to clot properly, prevents calcification of your arteries, prevents bones from fracturing, aids bruising, and aids in preventing bone-loss. A single cup of uncooked asparagus contains approximately 70% of your recommended daily intake of Vitamin K! Asparagus is also rich in beta carotene, the precursor to Vitamin A, folate, iron, thiamin, copper, and manganese. One cup of uncooked asparagus contains only 27 calories, while containing 3 grams of protein, as well as 3 grams of dietary fiber!Asparagus has been so revered throughout the ages largely because of its medicinal properties. It is known as an excellent plant for detoxifying your system for numerous reasons. It contains large amounts of the amino acid glutathione, an important amino acid utilized by the liver as an anti-oxidant for cleaning up free radicals (toxins that create damage in your system). The large amounts of folate contained in asparagus have anti-inflammatory properties, helping to reduce pain and arthritis, as well as reduces your chances of heart disease and is essential for preventing birth defects for pregnant women. Additionally, asparagus has many diuretic properties, which help to aid constipation and keep you regular, as well as cleanse your liver and kidneys. Finally, asparagus contains inulin, a special form of fiber/oligosaccharide that help to feed beneficial bacteria in your intestines.

Asparagus can usually be found year-round with so many vegetables being imported from different localities and regions of the world. However, truly delectable and fresh asparagus is available only in the spring, when it is most abundant and thus also cheapest. Asparagus doesn’t face as many threats from pests as do some other plants, so it’s not absolutely necessary to get organic asparagus. That being said, the most nutritious and tasty asparagus can often be found only at a local farmer’s market because of freshness (where they tend to be less sprayed, anyway).

Asparagus is delectable simply steamed or baked, and is the perfect accompaniment to numerous dishes! Be sure to try Orange Roasted Tofu and Asparagus!