Nutritional Ketosis Day 60

I LOVE spices. For me spices make a meal, period. You can have the same basic meal, but by changing the spices and herbs combination, you get completely different experiences.

Spices and herbs are also nutritional powerhouse; they are recognized for their antioxidant power and anti-inflammatory properties. Some of them are even used for medicinal purposes and to stimulate the immune system.

Weight loss potential of spices to boost metabolism and promote satiety, is also documented. For example, capsaicin in peppers is believed to have metabolic boosting properties (ginger too, boost metabolism). In addition, if the food you eat is flavorful and satisfying, there is a good chance you will eat less and consume fewer calories.

I like to make my own seasoning mix, because I know that there are no sulfites and preservatives and premixed spices makes the cooking less complicated and time-consuming. I often skip the salt and add it when I cook.

Cajun seasoning is a good basic one to keep around. It can be used on anything: kale chips, any meats, fish and seafood and can be even mixed with Greek yogurt to make a dip for crudités.

Recipe #1 (original, boost metabolism, very hot)

1/4 cup (60 ml) salt

1/4 cup (60 ml) cayenne

1/4 cup (60 ml) paprika

1/4 cup (60 ml) garlic powder

1/4 cup (60 ml) ground black pepper

2 tablespoons (30 ml) onion powder

2 tablespoons (30 ml) dried oregano

2 tablespoons (30 ml) dried thyme

 

Recipe #2 (modified, super anti-oxidant, milder)

30 ml (2 tablespoons) paprika

15 ml (1 tablespoon) ground bay leaf

15 ml (1 tablespoon) onion powder

15 ml (1 tablespoon) dried basil

15 ml (1 tablespoon) dried oregano

15 ml (1 tablespoon) dried thyme

5 ml (1 teaspoon) garlic powder

5 ml (1 teaspoon) cayenne pepper

Salt and pepper

I use a lot of spices on my food and the mixes are fairly hot to some people, use less cayenne for milder taste. Garlic and Onion are High FODMAP (fermentable = gas/bloating) so you can replace it with chives if you want. I sometimes put all the spices in a clean coffee grinder and reduce to a fine powder.

Weight this Morning: + 0.2 lbs

Weight Loss Total (Starting day 45): – 9.2 lbs

Today I had: Water with apple cider vinegar (with the mother), cayenne pepper and salt and sparkling water. I also had some black tea sweetened with xylitol. I had some blackened Cajun Haddock (again, but it’s so good!) with sriracha sauce and tofu-shirataki spaghetti noodle with an olive oil/butter sauce. That’s 900 calories for today.

Cajun seasoning is delicious with white fish.

Cajun seasoning is delicious with white fish.

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Pinch the Cinnamon, reap the rewards

Current research has confirmed that many common spices have medicinal properties. One of the most beneficial is also the most common: cinnamon.

There is evidence that cinnamon can be used to reduce the glycemic index of a meal up to 29%. It can lower blood glucose, LDL cholesterol and triglycerides. Cinnamaldehyde, an active organic compound in cinnamon, is an effective anti-microbial agent.

There is many ways it can help manage our blood sugar regulation; it can increase our glucose metabolism and has been found to have insulin-like effects. Cinnamon slows down gastric emptying to reduce the rise in blood sugar after meals, improving insulin sensitivity.  A bioflavonoid found in cinnamon called proanthocyanidin may alter the insulin-signaling activity in our fat cells.

Cinnamon also enhances our antioxidant defenses, improves digestion, reduce inflammation, and improve blood circulation.

Cinnamon Variaties - Robin

Cinnamon

A number of species are often sold as cinnamon:

  • Cinnamomum verum (True cinnamon, Sri Lanka cinnamon or Ceylon cinnamon)
  • Cinnamomum cassia (Cassia or Chinese cinnamon)
  • Cinnamomum burmannii (Korintje, Padang Cassia, or Indonesian cinnamon)
  • Cinnamomum loureiroi (Saigon cinnamon, Vietnamese cassia or Vietnamese cinnamon)

European health agencies have warned against consuming high amounts of cassia bark, because of its coumarin content. A teaspoon of Cassia cinnamon powder contains 5.8 to 12.1 mg of coumarin and the tolerable daily intake for humans is 0.1mg/kg body weight. Measurements of coumarin in Saigon cinnamon are much lower than those in Cassia and Ceylon cinnamon contains hardly any coumarin.

Saigon cinnamon is the most effective on blood sugar regulation and is low in coumarin. Cassia and Padang Cassia are acceptable choices; it is effective but has higher level of coumarin. Ceylon has a much smaller impact on blood sugar management and is the most expensive.

One possible way to avoid coumarin and still use Cassia is to steep it in a non-fat hot liquid. Coumarin is fat-soluble so we can extract the beneficial compounds this way and leave out the coumarin. Just use the liquid and throw away the stick.

Cassia or Padang Cassia are the most commonly found in American grocery stores and coffee shops, if you ask for cinnamon. Finding Saigon cinnamon needs a bit more research. Some grocery stores will carry it, make sure the label say: Saigon Cinnamon. Look for it in higher-end/whole food type grocery stores, usually it is offered in the organic spices section.  I buy mine at Costco. They carry a very good Kirkland signature Ground Saigon Cinnamon.  It is a staple product for them; I was able to find some at several of their locations in Canada, United States, Hawaii and Australia!  Plus it’s very affordable.  I also sometimes use the Cassia sticks in teas and coffees.

To get the maximal benefits out of the spice get fresh ground cinnamon or grind it yourself. The polyphenols and active ingredients oxidize overtime.

You don’t need to eat cinnamon at every meal to get the benefits; it’s the total amount per day that counts. 1 gram is the lowest effective dose. ½ – 1 teaspoon per day is a good number to aim for.

Chocolate, the new health food?

Cocoa and chocolate are associated with an impressive array of health benefits. These benefits are coming from flavanol catechin, which act as powerful antioxidants similar to those found in fruits and vegetables. One tablespoon of natural cocoa has only 20 calories and more antioxidant capacity than about 2 cups of green tea, 1/2 cup of blueberries and half a glass of red wine. Half of the fat in cocoa butter (the fat in a dark chocolate bar) is oleic acid which is the same healthy monounsaturated fat that is found in olive oil and half of its saturated fat called stearic acid, which has a neutral effect on cholesterol.

Yet, not all chocolates deliver the same health benefits. A milk chocolate bar may feed our craving for sweets, but that’s about all we’ll get out of it. In choosing a quality chocolate for the health benefits and pleasure, it’s the cocoa that matters. The higher the cocoa content, the more health benefit we’ll get from it.  We want at least a 70% cocoa content and we have to make sure the percent is on the label “Dark” can mean as low as 50%.

Other excellent options are unsweetened non-dutched cacao powder, for cooking or to make a cup of cocoa, and roasted cocoa nibs.

Processing can impact the anti-oxidant content of cocoa. The main method is called alkalization or dutching.  The Dutch process lowers acidity (makes it compatible for baking with baking powder instead of baking soda), increases solubility, enhances color, and remove some of the natural bitterness. Unfortunately, those bitter compounds are the beneficial flavanols that we are looking for.  About 60% and as much as 90% of natural cocoa original antioxidants are destroyed by dutching. Natural cacao will contain about 34.6 mg/g of flavanols, while dutch-processed will be between 13.8 mg/g and 3.9 mg/g.

Some of the best (taste and quality), readily available and more affordable brands would be Lint 70% to 90%, Giradelli 86%, Green and Black’s Dark 85% and Trader’s Joes Dark Chocolate Lover’s 85%. The list is not exhaustive, if you can find some Valhrona Noir Extra Amer 85% or Scharffen Berger 70% – 82% and you want to splurge, you won’t be disappointed. If you are new to dark chocolate, Lint 70% is where I would start. As your taste buds adjust, you can go up from there.

Shop smart and ENJOY slowly, every day, without guilt. You’re definitely doing something good for your health!

YUM!

YUM!