Intermittent Fasting – Key to a healthy body

Fasting has been part of human lifestyle for centuries, mostly for religious and medical purposes.  More recently there are a large number of researches to support the health benefits of fasting which includes improved disease state, reduced oxidative stress and preserved learning and memory functioning.

Here are some of the top benefits of fasting:

  • Promote longevity and reduce aging.
  • Increase autophaghy, which is your body’s way to recycle old and worn cells. It’s linked to many health benefits including reduced risk of diabetes, cancer, and heart disease.
  • Increase human growth hormone, which helps increase energy, increase bone density, and increase/retain muscle.
  • Fasting can help you get into a state of ketosis, where you’re running on fat instead of glucose.
  • Reduce inflammation and improve gut health.
  • Fasting can help with weight loss.

Fasting, though, is not for everyone. If you are like me, staying without food for a whole day will make you anxious but there is a better solution – Intermittent fasting.

Intermittent fasting is a pattern of eating where you cycle between periods of eating and fasting. The good news is that you get the same health benefits as regular fasting without stressing your body too much.

There are many ways to “intermittently fast” but the approach I liked best is the 16:8 rule, where you fast for 16 hours and eat within an 8-hour window. The good news is that you will be sleeping for part of your “fasting” 16 hours window so it is not that hard to follow.

There are some rules to follow before you start intermittent fasting

  • Reduce the intake of processed foods
  • Increase raw foods in your diet – fruits, vegetables and nuts
  • Eat balanced meals – Protein, complex carbs, and fats
  • Drink at least 6-8 glasses of water every day
  • Reduce the amount of sugar, especially processed sugar, from your diet.

Once you believe you are ready to start Intermittent Fasting, start small. Start with 12-hour fasting window and see how your body reacts. Gradually increase it to 16 hours. During fasting window, drink only plain water – no lemon, honey or any other additives. No tea, coffee!

Have a combination of fruit and nuts to break the fast. I usually have banana and walnuts as my first meal. Here are some other good options – Dates/Almonds/Raisins.

It is very important to listen to your body when eating and fasting. Women, especially should not starve and stress their body too much as it impacts the hormonal balance so it is highly recommended to start slow on your fasting. Try incorporating intermittent fasting once or twice a week.

I have experienced many health benefits by incorporating intermittent fasting so I assure you that it is not a fad but a tried and tested recipe to improve health, increase energy and eventually weight loss.

Remember Intermittent Fasting is not a Diet but a Lifestyle change. It is a tool for healthy living.

Give it a try and let me know if you have any questions.

<Please consult with your doctor before starting Intermittent Fasting if you have any medical conditions that might get aggravated from prolonged starvation>

 

 

 

Morning Kickstart Smoothie

Smoothie is an integral part of my everyday diet.  My morning starts with the whirl of my favorite blender that results in a drink that I carry around all morning, slowly sipping and enjoying.  Smoothies are your best friend if you are trying to incorporate more fruits and veggies into your diet. It is the simplest change you can make to start a healthy lifestyle.

I change my smoothie recipe depending on what is available at hand but this is my go-to recipe for the days I don’t want to experiment.

This smoothie will help kick-start your busy day with a burst of energy!

Ingredients:

2 cups Spinach or Kale

½ cup water, ½ cup ice

1.5 cups freshly squeezed orange juice (I get it from my local grocery store)

1 cup pineapple

1 cup blueberries

½ cup beetroot

A slice of ginger

1 tsp flax seeds

Blend the liquid and greens first. Add the rest of the ingredients. Blend more until you have no chunks left.

Sip along!!

Note:

  1. If you are using frozen fruits, feel free to omit the ice
  2. You can use any fruit of your choice like mango, banana, kiwi, strawberries etc
  3. You can replace orange juice with coconut water or any other liquid but that will alter the sweetness so adjust the fruits accordingly

Top 5 food additives to avoid

You don’t just eat what you think you are eating. For eg. If you are eating potato chips, you would think it is potato, oil, and salt. Right? WRONG! Here is the ingredient list on a bag of potato chips I recently found in my grocery store: Potatoes, cottonseed oil, salt, whey, maltodextrin, spices (including black and white pepper), sunflower oil, sugar, dextrose, onion powder, sodium diacetate, buttermilk, garlic powder, autolyzed yeast extract, natural flavors, yeast extract, citric acid, disodium inosinate and disodium guanylate, malic acid

There are hundreds of additives, added flavors added to our food before it reaches our plate. All packaged products are enhanced, fortified and have added chemicals to increase the shelf life. Even though these additives are approved by FDA and identified as safe when consumed in small quantities but what most people don’t understand is that when we are eating multiple food items /multiple servings of these additives throughout the day, it causes havoc to our body. It makes us SICK!

Multiple studies have shown the impact of these additives on our health and causation of diseases in our bodies.  The simple rule is to eat as much raw, fresh or home cooked meals as possible but it is not always feasible. The sad part is that they are present in the organic foods as well so even if you are buying organic bread or from your trusted brand (See my last post ) it is still advisable to read the ingredient list to make informed decisions.

Here are some of the top food additives I avoid when buying packaged foods.

  1. Artificial Sugars: Some of the most commonly found artificial sweeteners are: Aspartame (Equal, NutraSweet, NatraTaste Blue), Sucralose (Splenda), Acesulfame K (ACE K, Sunette, Equal Spoonful, Sweet One, Sweet ‘n Safe), Saccharin (Sweet ‘N Low, Sweet Twin), Xylitol, Sorbitol. Artificial Sweeteners are found in diet/sugar-free sodas,  jello (and other gelatins), desserts, sugar-free gum, yogurts, drink mixes, baking goods, tabletop sweeteners, cereal, breath mints, pudding, kool-aid, ice tea, chewable vitamins etc..Artificial sweeteners, like Aspartame, are believed to be carcinogenic, make you gain weight and have an impact on memory. These toxic sweeteners may lead to a wide variety of ailments including brain tumor, lymphoma, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s, fibromyalgia, and chronic fatigue, emotional disorders like depression and anxiety attacks, dizziness, headaches, nausea, mental confusion, migraines, and seizures.
  2. Food Colors: Food colors are one of the most widely used and dangerous additives. In Europe there regulations on labeling food dyes to inform consumers of the health risks, the United States has no such requirement. Some of the common food dyes used today are Blue #1, Red #40, Yellow #5, Yellow #6 etc. They are found in baked goods, beverages, desserts, candies, cereal, drugs. Studies have established a strong correlation between the food colors and hyperactivity in kids. They have also shown to cause tumors in lab mice.
  3. BHT: BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole) and BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene) are widely used by the food industry as preservatives, mainly to prevent oils in foods from oxidizing and becoming rancid. They are found in many chips, cookies, and cereals. They are also used in used as preservatives in lipsticks and moisturizers, among other cosmetics. According to EWG research: Some data has shown that BHT can cause cancer in animals. Rats fed BHT have developed lung and liver tumors (EFSA 2012). BHT has also been shown to cause developmental effects and thyroid changes in animals, suggesting that it may be able to disrupt endocrine signaling (EFSA 2012). A neurobehavioral study of rats exposed to BHT throughout development described effects on motor skills and coordination before the animals were weaned.
  4. Nitrates or Nitrites: Cold cut meats like Turkey, Ham, Salami are usually treated with nitrates or nitrites which are chemicals commonly used as coloring agents, preservatives and flavoring. They are used to prolong a food’s shelf life but they come with health concerns. Studies have linked nitrites to stomach cancer. There is also evidence that nitrites may be associated with brain and thyroid cancers, but a causal link has not been established.
  5. Carrageenan: Carrageenan is everywhere – in yogurts, nut milk, cold cut meats and a lot of organic products. You can find it in organic yogurt, tofu, coconut milk and the list goes on and on. It has a long and controversial reputation as an emulsifier that damages the digestive system. Even though Carrageenan is derived from red algae or seaweed but it goes through a processing process, which makes it degraded and harmful for consumption. Studies have established that consumption of carrageenan induces inflammation in our body. Various sources claim that individuals experiencing gastrointestinal symptoms (ranging from mild bloating to irritable bowel syndrome to severe inflammatory bowel disease) have noticed that eliminating carrageenan from the diet leads to profound improvements in their gastrointestinal health.

Here are few in the top of my list but there are many more that you should be careful about like Trans Fats and Partially Hydrogenated Oils. Try eliminating or reducing these chemical additives from your diet and observe the difference in your overall health.

What other additives do you avoid when buying packaged foods?

 

 

 

Why you should always read the ingredient list!

Don’t let the companies fool you. I got tricked and I am here to warn you!

I get my milk from Oberweis. The company claims that their milk is better than Organic as it is fresh from local farms and lightly pasteurized. They pledge that there are no artificial growth hormones, antibiotics, non-nutritional additives or preservatives ever added to the milk and they treat their cows humanely. I was sold. I started trusting the brand. I subscribed to their milk service, so it is delivered fresh at my doorstep every week.

It’s summertime so I decided to stock my fridge with some ice-cream. Of course, I would go nowhere else but to the company I trust. I added their Mango and Pomegranate ice cream to my order.  This is where I went wrong:

  • I believed that since the milk is of good quality; ALL products from this company would be of great quality.
  • Another factor we consider is price – there is a common misconception that if the price is high, the product is better than its competitors.

Both the assumptions failed when we received the ice cream. I was shocked, when my son who was getting ready to enjoy this treat asked– Mom, How are you letting me eat this ice cream when it contains a lot of the ingredients you don’t allow us to have?

He was right – High Fructose Corn Syrup, Carrageenan, Yellow #5, Yellow#6 all of these were staring back at me from the ingredient list. I felt cheated and tricked!

I trusted the brand, I trusted their products so failed to do my part in validating the ingredients before ordering.

My advice to you is to read the ingredients of the products you buy – EVERY SINGLE TIME. Don’t believe in what is published on the front of the package, turn it around and read the ingredient list. You will be surprised to learn that there are so many artificial, synthetic ingredients “hidden” in the packaged foods you eat.

Your health is in your own hands – Stay healthy, Stay armed!

Live without Pain and Inflammation

We all have experienced pain in our bodies at some point. Pain usually appears when there is inflammation. Inflammation is an important part of the body’s immune response. It is the way our bodies heal itself. Without inflammation, infections would never heal. Inflammation becomes a problem when it is chronic.

Imagine the inflammation as our body’s personal army to protect against invaders or injury. Their job is to fight the battle (against infections and germs) and come back to base. When the soldiers lose the signal on when to stop fighting, it leads to chronic inflammation. Chronic Inflammation is when the body stays in the inflamed state even after the “threat” is gone”. Most common cause of chronic inflammation is the food we eat and environmental toxins we are exposed to. Our body’s immune system doesn’t recognize this “stuff,” so it tries to get rid of it by fighting it.

Recent research from well-known sources such as the Harvard School of Public Health has found that many illnesses are directly related to inflammation in the body including heart disease and stroke, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, arthritis, cancer, and stomach or intestinal problems. When there is inflammation, there is a pain. Did you know Anti-inflammatory medicines are most widely taken medicine in the US?

If you believe that you are suffering from chronic inflammation – here are three easy steps you can take to reduce pain and inflammation:

  1. Practice “Clean” eating: Try adding more natural, raw food in your diet. Buy organic whenever possible. The best way to reduce inflammation is to just eat real foods. They are foods that bypass tinkering by a food chemist and are eaten very close to the way they grew on the farm. Slowly eliminate/reduce processed and packaged foods from your diet. A fiber-rich diet helps reduce inflammation by supplying naturally occurring anti-inflammatory phytonutrients found in fruits and vegetables.
  1. Follow the 4-S diet: The easiest way to remember the key anti-inflammatory foods that will help keep you young and active is the Four S’s. Salads, Smoothies Spices, and Seafood.

Salads and Smoothies are natural anti-inflammatories because they are from plants. The antioxidants found in fruits and vegetables gives them their rich color and make them anti-inflammatory. Antioxidants are natural medicines. The National Cancer Society says we should eat 9 – 13 servings of fruits and vegetables daily.

Spices contain high levels of antioxidants and immune boosting nutrients. Ginger and Turmeric which are heavily used in Indian cooking are one of the best spices to reduce pain and inflammation. Ginger inhibits production of the free radical that causes inflammation and pain. Turmeric’s benefits are largely because of curcumin, a potent antioxidant that dramatically reduces inflammation. The bioavailability of curcumin is highly improved if taken with black pepper so make sure to spice up your food with turmeric, ginger and black pepper.

Seafood, especially cold water fish, contains omega 3 oils which are the most helpful anti-inflammatory nutrients you can eat. Research shows that omega-3 fatty acids reduce inflammation and may help lower risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, and arthritis — conditions that often are triggered by chronic inflammation. If you cannot eat fish for any reason, consider taking a good quality fish oil supplement to get the benefits of Omega-3.

  1. Exercise: What type of exercise should you do? The BEST exercise is the one you will do! You do it because you enjoy it!

There are lots of fun ways to move.  You can take up a new sport such as ballroom dancing or hiking or just do walking, yoga, running..whatever you enjoy doing!! Besides movement being good for your muscles, it’s good for your mind.  New movements actually build new cerebral pathways.

Make sure you incorporate these three components into your exercise routine:

Strength training:  At one time it was believed that losing muscle was a natural part of aging, but studies now show that older people can maintain muscle with the same amount of strength training as younger folks.

Endurance. Endurance exercises increase your breathing and heart rate and include exercises like walking, swimming, and dancing.

Flexibility: Flexibility exercises like stretching, yoga, and Pilates, loosen and lengthen our muscles.  As we age, muscles not only become weaker, they become tighter and shorter.  Orthopedists have found that people who have increased flexibility are less likely to suffer from arthritis and joint problems.  

By following these simple guidelines and slowly making lifestyle changes, you can definitely reduce chronic inflammation and lead a healthy, pain-free life.

Eat Right not Less to Lose Weight

“Should I stop eating carbs if I want to lose weight” or “I am on a low-fat diet but still not losing weight. Why?” or “Is dairy bad for me”. These questions come up almost every day in my conversations with people.

Our “food wisdom” is often swayed by the food marketing industry. Last decade they made fat the “villain”   and I see that happening to our good ol’ friend “carbs” now.

All macronutrients – Fats, Carbohydrates, and Proteins are required for a healthy body.  It’s the form in which we eat them make them good or bad for us.

Adults and “active” children need approximately “50%” of their daily calories from carbohydrates. Carbohydrates or carbs can be “simple” or “complex” based on their chemical makeup and what your body does with them. Simple carbs are quick-burning fuels. They very quickly break down into sugar in your system. You want to avoid these. They can be found in cakes, processed foods, soft drinks, candies etc..Complex carbs take more time to break down, which allows for a slower, more gradual release of energy. Whole grains, beans, legumes, and starchy vegetables are all examples of complex carbs. Complex carbs have fiber and vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients so go ahead and enjoy your “roti”, rajma-rice, potatoes or any of your favorite complex carbs without guilt.

Similarly, there are good and bad fats. Fats from coconut oil, ghee, grass fed butter, and fish are all good for us. Chemically created fats that are made in a lab, like partially hydrogenated oils and trans fats, are what causes harm to our body. Avoid all foods that contain trans fat. These fats are found in most of the packaged and fast foods.

So how do you lose weight then?

The answer is not that simple. A human body is very complex and many factors contribute to its functioning like nutrition, environment, lifestyle, even our thoughts as our mind and body are closely inter-linked.  The first step is to understand the underlying cause of weight gain – is it stress, is it junk food or eating outside or is it because of your erratic lifestyle and eat/sleep patterns. Once you understand the root cause, it will be easier to plan your weight loss. Most people go on “strict” diets by eliminating various food groups without understanding the root cause but If the cause is not addressed, the weight will come back – pretty soon.

Here are the four pillars for a healthy lean body: L.E.A.N.

Lifestyle – how you live? Do you have a disciplined lifestyle? How well do you sleep at night? Do you eat/sleep in a “fixed” window every day? All of these factors control how your body functions. Also, there are so many toxins in everyday products that have impacted our health in a negative way. From household cleaners to cosmetics – everything is full of harmful chemicals that we expose our body every single day (a topic for another time) . Try to simplify your life by having a routine and using natural products whenever possible.

Exercise – how do you move? People always ask what is the best exercise to lose weight and the answer is whatever exercise you love to do. For some people, it could be walking/running, for others yoga or dancing. Whatever you enjoy doing is what is good for your body. Also, sitting all day and then going to gym for one hour is not a good idea. Stay active by walking, taking stairs or just standing instead of sitting whole day. Also, don’t “over-exercise” to lose weight faster. Too much exercise could put stress on the body and will be counter-productive in your effort to lose weight.

Attitude – how do you think?  A lot of studies have shown a strong correlation of stress to weight gain, especially around your mid-section (tummy) area. No amount of diet or exercise will work if you are constantly stressed out. Try deep breathing, mindfulness or meditation to manage stress and the weight issue will automatically be taken care of.

Nutrition – how do you eat? First of all, you don’t need to eat less to lose weight – you have to eat right. Add more raw fruits and veggies to your diet: Most of the food we eat is either cooked or processed, which are depleted of most nutrients. Try to add more unprocessed, uncooked raw food in your diet. Start your day with a bowl of fresh fruit and have a salad with your lunch and dinner. If you need to eliminate something, eliminate junk, processed food. Eat all food groups because they are full of nutrients that your body needs. Fat or carbs do not make you fat; eating junk food that is full of toxins makes you fat.

These are some simple guidelines that clarify some myths about food/diet and how to start thinking about weight loss. Start off by introspecting and making small positive lifestyle changes based on your root cause. Follow LEAN to get lean!

Feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions or need additional help to meet your goals.

 

Whole Wheat Zucchini Chocolate Muffins

Its summer time and Zucchini are in the season. I use Zucchini in various recipes like stir-fry, curry, raita, and paranthas. One of the ways my kids eat Zucchini is in this sweet treat. I have tried many variations of Zucchini muffins and found it goes really well with banana and chocolate flavors. I made this recipe with mostly natural sugars like dates, bananas, and maple syrup. I love the fresh taste of these muffins but the good news is that they freeze well. They can be used as a snack, breakfast or a delicious lunch box treat.

Health  benefits of Zucchini:

  • Good source of antioxidants and Vitamin C
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Good source of Potassium
  • Improves digestion
  • Good source of  B vitamins
  • Can help control Diabetes

SERVES: 12 muffins

PREP TIME: 15 minutes

COOK TIME: 25 minutes

TOTAL TIME: 40 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium zucchini grated
  • 1 medium banana mashed
  • 6 dates
  • ¼ cup melted coconut oil (or any other oil of choice)
  • ¼ maple syrup
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup coconut/raw sugar
  • ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon aluminum free baking powder
  • ½ salt
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • semi-sweet chocolate chips, mini or regular (I used mini)

Steps:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and lightly grease the muffin tin.
  2. Grate the zucchini, squeeze to remove excess water
  3. In a blender or mixer, blend the dates, bananas, maple syrup, coconut oil, eggs, and vanilla extract into a liquid mixture.
  4. In a bowl combine all the dry ingredients -flour, cinnamon, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt
  5. Make a well in the dry mixture and slowly add the liquid and mix well
  6. Add the grated zucchini and chocolate chips and mix well.
  7. Pour the mixture into the muffin pan and bake for 20-25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  8. Remove the muffins from the oven and wait for 5 minutes to let it cool.

Gobble them up!!

 

Why I don’t recommend Gatorade (and other “-ades”) for kids?

There is a constant struggle in my house – since the kids are in competitive sports they demand Gatorade and other sports drinks, because “all the other kids drink it”. These drinks are marketed towards people who are active so my kids believe that it is a requirement to have sports drinks to get to their peak performance.

I agree that these sports drinks provide the electrolytes to replenish our bodies but unfortunately they have more than electrolytes in them.

Gatorade and other sports drinks are made up of mostly chemically treated & refined sugar (as much as a typical soda), artificial colors, and other ingredients that are really harmful to your body.

Artificial colors like Red 40, Yellow 5, and Yellow 6, are contaminated with known carcinogens. They are also known to cause hyperactivity in the kids. The sad part is that they are found in most foods targeted towards kids like cereals, candy, drinks etc. It is very important to read the labels and avoid all foods that contain these food dyes.

Also, some flavors of Gatorade use brominated vegetable oil as a stabilizer. Brominated vegetable oil has been linked to some serious diseases like thyroid problems, fertility issues, and psychological symptoms. It also has been linked to certain types of cancer, and increased risk of diabetes and obesity.

According to a research done by Berkeley researchers, sugar in sports drinks may be contributing to the child obesity epidemic. When consumed often, the sugar content of Gatorade can also contribute to tooth decay, especially in children.

Healthy Alternative to Sports Drinks:

Water: Water is the most underrated drinks but it is one of the most natural, most powerful sources of hydration.  Help your kids develop a habit of drinking water during their sports practice and games. Even if the day is hot and humid, water can provide sufficient rehydration, especially if exercise lasts less than an hour

Coconut Water: Coconut water contains all 5 essential electrolytes. Minerals such as potassium, magnesium, sodium, zinc, selenium, iodine, sulfur and manganese are all available in coconut water. These minerals re-hydrate and create balance in the body.

Watermelon juice: Watermelon is the most popular summer fruit. Watermelon juice is rich in electrolytes and is very helpful for maintaining fluid balance; it also improves circulation and aids in muscle recovery after a physical exercise session.

Chocolate Milk: According to one study, Chocolate milk rehydrates your body as much as a sports drink, but it also offers a boost of protein, which helps your muscles repair after intense exercise. The sugar and sodium in chocolate milk also supply you with electrolytes, which helps you recover and rehydrate more quickly. You can easily make chocolate milk at home by combining cocoa powder, maple syrup or cane sugar to organic milk of your choice.

Make your own Sports drink: It is very easy to make a sports drink which will provide you the right balance of electrolytes without the nasty and harmful ingredients. Take 1 cup of coconut or regular water; add a cup of orange/apple juice. Squeeze half a lemon and add ¼ teaspoon of salt. Add 1 tsp of honey. Mix well and store it in the fridge. Kids can enjoy this drink anytime during hot summer days.

There might be a market for these sports drinks for some heavy duty athletes but I believe it is best to avoid them for our kids. Do you have any other healthy alternatives to the sports drinks that worked for your kids?

 

Bewitching Black Bean Brownies

Who does not like warm fudgy Brownies! I am a big brownie fan and so are my kids. The problem is store bought brownies or brownie mixes have many controversial ingredients that I have banned from my “acceptable” list. Here comes a savior. These brownies are not only super delicious but super healthy too. Moreover, they have the right balance of protein, fat, and fibers that they can also be served as a breakfast food. Your kids are going to thank you for that!!

The special ingredient in this recipe is black beans. Most of you must be thinking how the black bean would taste in a sweet dish but trust me you cannot even taste them in there. Serve it to your friends and family first before revealing this secret ingredient. I am sure they could never guess what is in there. Also, the sweetness in these brownies is coming from natural sources like dates, maple syrup, and bananas so there is no need to add additional sugar. You might get a hint of banana flavor but that really goes well with these gooey chocolatey brownies.

Try it and enjoy!

Prep Time 10 minutes

Cook Time 20 minutes

Total Time 30 minutes

Serves – 9 pieces

Wet Ingredients:

  • 1 15-oz Black bean can, drained and rinsed very well
  • 12 Dates soaked in hot water for 10 minutes (Discard the water before using)
  • 1 large ripe Banana (or 2 small)
  • ½ cup Apple sauce
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • ¼ cup coconut oil

Dry Ingredients

  • ½ cup instant oats
  • 2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ¼  tsp salt
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tbsp walnuts (Optional)
  • ½ cup chocolate chips (more for topping) – Not optional

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F
  2. Drain, rinse and wash the beans well.
  3. Add all the wet ingredients in a food processor and blend until you get a smooth paste
  4. Add the dry ingredients and blend really well
  5. Fold in the chocolate chips
  6. Pour the batter into a baking dish and smooth the top. Sprinkle walnuts and additional chocolate tips on top.
  7. Bake brownies for 20 to 25 minutes or until the top starts to dry out and crack a bit and the edges start to pull away from the sides.

Let it cool at least 10 minutes before trying to cut. If you feel that they are still undercooked, let it stay in the fridge for few hours and they will turn into a perfect consistency!

Serve warm or cold!

 

Are you cooking with the right oil?

Our body needs fat for functioning. Fats are essential to provide energy, support cell growth and protect our organs. Fat helps absorption of important vitamins and nutrients and regulating the hormones. So a healthy body needs fat – Please don’t try to go on fat-free diets!!

Good news is that oil is used in almost every recipe and is an integral part of the everyday diet but the sad part is a lot of unhealthy oils are marketed as healthy so people are confused and misinformed.

Let me get this straight – Vegetable oils are bad for you. Yes – Canola, Corn and all vegetable oils should be avoided at any cost.

Vegetable oils are usually made from genetically modified plants (Rapeseed, Corn, Soybean), are heavily processed by adding harmful chemicals (like petroleum, BHA, and BHT), and stripped of all nutrients. These chemicals have been linked to decrease in testosterone, impact the functioning thyroid hormone and disrupt the endocrine system.

Vegetable oils contain very large amounts of biologically active fats called Omega-6. Our bodies need the right balance of Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids in order to function properly. A diet that is high in Omega-6 leads to an imbalance of fatty acids, which is one of the leading causes of inflammation and heart diseases.

Vegetable oils also contain a large amount of Trans fats, which have been linked to all kinds of serious health conditions from diabetes, obesity to heart disease and even cancer.

Now that I have convinced you to avoid vegetable oils, let’s talk about some good alternatives:

  • Coconut Oil: One of my favorite oils, perfect for high heat cooking like frying, sautéing, baking and stir-frying. There are many benefits of coconut oil – helps improve the good cholesterol, keep our internal organs free from microbes and help reduce Candida and other bacterial/yeast infections.
  • Ghee: Ghee has a very high smoke point which means that you can easily use ghee for baking, sautéing, frying and roasting without the risk of destroying the important nutrients that provide all these wonderful ghee benefits. Ghee has conjugated linoleic acid(CLA), which have been found to reduce body fat, prevent cancer and lower blood pressure. It helps strengthen our bones and promotes healthy weight. Added benefit, it enhances the flavor of the food it is added to.
  • Avocado oil: Avocado oil is one of the healthiest cooking oils available. It helps lower LDL cholesterol levels, reduces blood pressure and improves pain due to inflammation. Avocado oil can also be used for baking, sautéing and stir frying. You can now find Avocado oil at some Costco stores.
  • Olive Oil: Olive oil has a lot of wonderful health benefits like improved insulin resistance, cancer-fighting properties, and improved heart health but it has a low smoking point, making it unsuitable for temperatures above 250’F (121’C). Olive oil is good for sprinkling on salad, dips and light sautéing but do not use it for high heat cooking, specially the Extra Virgin Olive Oil. 

The oils listed above are not an exhaustive list of all the oils available in the market today. Let me know which one is your favorite oil. Finding the right oil for your type of cooking can be challenging but I highly recommend switching oils and using a combination of the above-mentioned oils to achieve different benefits. All it takes is a little bit of experimentation.