Cinnamon: The Best Power House of Flavor & Health Benefits

We all know the warming effect cinnamon has to our taste buds and as well as the aromatic impact, as your mouth starts to water as soon as you catch a whiff of the delicious scent.  What’s even better, are the tremendous amount of health benefits!

Cinnamon Spiced Cake
Cinnamon Spiced Cake

Yes, it tastes amazing and it’s great for you.  Love it when that happens!

Cinnamon had been used for centuries and dates back to ancient Egypt. It was considered a gift fit for kings as it was rare and therefore very valuable.  It was even used as a natural food preservative during medieval days. Fortunately, for us, it’s easily accessible these days.

There are two main types and it’s important to note, not all cinnamon is created equal. Click To Tweet

Ceylon, is known as the “true” cinnamon. Cassia is more common and probably the one you’ll find most often in your grocery store. Ceylon is lower in in coumarin then Cassia which can be harmful in high doses. In addition, Ceylon has been found to contain more of the health benefits listed below.

Read labels carefully, Ceylon is the one you want.

 

Most of the health benefits come from cinnamaldehyde and comes from the oily part of the bark that carries the distinctive smell and flavor.  The benefits of which, may surprise you.

  • One of the most powercinnamon-1070153_1920ful antioxidants
  • Anti-inflammatory benefits and improves circulation
  • Reduces risk of heart disease by reducing LDL and Triglyceries and increasing HDL, while at the same time lowering blood pressure
  • Improves Insulin sensitivity, the hormone that regulates metabolism and energy use. Lowers blood sugar levels
  • Has an anti-diabetic effect by decreasing the amount of glucose that enters the bloodstream after you’ve eaten
  • Has to be shown to have numerous benefits in the treatment of Parkinson’s and Alzheimer by preventing the buildup of a protein called tau in the brain, a key factor in Alzheimer’s disease
  • It’s been proven to improve cognitive function even with use of a scented candle.
  • Fights bacterial and fungal infections with oil being very effective in treating respiratory infections caused by fungi, but also inhibits the growth of bacteria like Listeria and Salmonella
  • Useful in combatting congestion by clearing up mucus and improving circulation and not just good for viruses like the common cold. It’s been effective in studies on HIV by preventing the virus from entering the cells
  • The antimicrobial effects can even prevent tooth decay and reduce bad breath (a great addition, if you make your own toothpaste or look for it when shopping for a natural brand)

Whew! I did say it was a power house of taste and health benefits and this isn’t even an all-inclusive list. In short, it can combat free radicals with its anti-inflammatory benefits, reduce the risk of heart disease, stabilize your total cholesterol level, improve Insulin sensitivity, boost brain function and fight bacterial and fungal infections.

Experts do warn of incorporating too much cinnamon into your diet if you are pregnant, breastfeeding or have a heavy menstrual cycle. As always, if any of this applies or you’re looking to add it as part of a healing protocol, please consult your health care professional.  The recommended dosage according to the U.S. Department of Health is up to 6 grams daily but should not be used for more than 5 days a week.  Add cinnamon into your diet slowly. Even half a teaspoon a day has a positive effect.

Here is one great way to enjoy cinnamon’s power house of flavor along with it’s healthy benefits. Try our Mini Cinnamon Spiced Cake.

 

 

Resources:

http://authoritynutrition.com

http://www.organicauthority.com

http://www.greenmedinfo.com/substance/cinnamaldehyde

Living Life with Sjogrens Syndrome

Life is hard with Sjogrens Syndrome.

When you’re dealing with a disease like Sjogrens Syndrome  that is constantly changing, traveling and effecting various parts of your mind and body at different times, waiting is the hardest part of living. The realization that Sjogrens Syndrome  is for life. Never knowing when the goods days will go bad. Never knowing what part of the mind or body will be next. It’s like living in a war zone in constant anticipation of the next explosion, never knowing when it’s going to strike. On the edge of your seat, on the edge of life, that is what Sjogrens Syndrome is.

We are what we create.

As I write this, I have tears welling in my eyes. The reality is hard and there are days where I fight for more courage. I will not lose hope. I will not give up. I have made great choices with my health which are fuelling my fight against Sjogrens Syndrome . I am not writing this for sympathy. It’s OK to cry. We all should allow ourselves to free our emotions and crying, like writing, can be very cathartic. I am writing this so you know, I understand. You’re not alone. We are in this fight together and you can live a wonderful life with Sjogrens Syndrome.

Hope will not breed hopelessness.

For those who do not know, I have an autoimmune disease known as Sjogrens Syndrome. There is no cure, it’s progressive and pervasive. You can go through long periods of remission and then without warning, a new or old symptom smacks you in the face, or mind or other body part. It can mimic thyroid issues, lupus, Fibromyalgia or Celiac but, is also often diagnosed along with those other autoimmune diseases. Sjogrens Syndrome   effects every person differently.  It can come with any combination of dehydration, chronic fatigue, dry eye, dry mouth, dry skin or neuropathy. The biggest challenge for me has been as soon as I  think I’ve figured it out, it changes. Leaving you feeling defeated with the frustration of having to start all over again. As an outsider, you can’t see it.  We all look “fine”. Even now, it’s hard to explain. I have never been tested for anything else because, frankly, for me, it wouldn’t matter. How I approach treatment would be the same.

 I have been searching for clues to understand why Sjogrens Syndrome happened to me…

I’ve been searching and learning about Sjogrens Syndrome  for over four years. I reached a point in my life where I was no longer willing to give in to the pain and the fatigue. This will not be my fate. I do not have to feel this way. I abandoned the excuses of age and the “disease” and searched for the truth. A truth I’ll share with you as I continue my journey learning more at every turn.  I won’t always have all the scientific mumbo jumbo or statics. My mind looks at relationships and correlations. I am not a doctor or a nutritionist. I can only share what I found, the effect it’s had on me and my solutions.  Do the research and when you start to look back at your child hood, the pieces will start to come together.

 Gluten and sugar are evil.

Dairy can have it’s own issues, but at the root of what I’ve found is gluten and sugar.  Hydrogenated oils and other GMO products add fuel to fire but that’s not where I found it started. Leaky gut is one of the prevalent conditions plaguing people today. When I go back to my child hood, I have always had stomach issues. I was told I had a “spastic” stomach and it was basically ignored.  I still have no idea what that really is. I also craved carbs / sugar.  Fatigue set in during my late teens. I was active in sports, worked part time and was going to school. In college I worked full time and went to school full time. Of course I was tired. My blood work wasn’t always great but, I looked “fine”.

 Our bodies have the ability to heal itself.

Yes, we are extraordinary works of art. They key is allow our body to do its job. I was sabotaging it. Grains were not something the human body relied on as food source.  Regardless of what you believe about the “primal” food print, gluten itself is not the same as it was decades ago. As a result of environment factors, depleting nutrients in the soil and “modifications” made to ensure its survival, the molecular structure of gluten has changed significantly from its ancestral roots.  It is the expression of the genes in wheat and its interaction with human genomes which wreaks havoc on our body. No wonder our body is confused and starts to attack itself. It was never intended to digest this type of food.

liver detox for health

The body is always working to keep us in homeostasis.

To keep things in balance. What we’re feeling is our body trying to pull us back in line. Sugar puts our body in a frenzy in much the same way. What have we been told? Fat free is the way to be. So we ingest tons of artificial sweeteners under the guise of “no calories”. Our body treats it the same and still produces the same amount of glucose. How do you feel after riding roller coasters all day? A bit dizzy? Not so stable? Bingo, your body is no different. Not to mention, sugar has been proven to be just as addictive at cocaine. Keep in mind, natural sugar is still sugar and you really shouldn’t have more than a tablespoon of natural sugar a day. Carbohydrates, by the way, plays into that sugar addiction and there is evidence of highly addictive qualities of wheat as well.

We need to allow our bodies to heal.

Stop sabotaging habits and fuel ourselves with real whole foods in the way nature intended. We need to help our body bring us back into homeostasis. How do we do that? Here’s what I’ve discovered…so far.  Yes, I use Paleo as a framework for food preparation. You would think, that was a result of my research, but to be honest, I started eating “primal’ before I knew what Paleo was. I learned to listen to my body and with the help of muscle testing to confirm my suspicions, eliminated foods causing chaos in my body. Trust me, I didn’t’ want to hear I needed to say goodbye to French fries, corn, chilies or tomatoes (that’s a short list)  My favorite food was Thai,  Indian and Mexican.

Intermittent fasting is where I started.

If you’ve read our article on the five two diet, you’ll know the reason we chose that lifestyle three years ago was about longevity and not weight loss. Yes, you will lose weight. It’s a nice side effect. The 5:2 diet allows your body the time to repair damaged cells by lowering IGF-1 levels (insulin like growth factor 1). We have high levels at birth and during our growth period as part of building new cells through splitting and duplication. When we run out of food or bodies switch from building new cells, by lowering IGF-1, to repairing existing ones. For example, we all have a certain amount of cancer cells that exist in our body. Whether they get ‘turned on’ or not is dependent on multiple factors but that’s for another time. What’s important here, is to limit the duplication of the cells and encourage their repair. Remember, this is about giving your body what it needs to do its job.

There is an alternative to anything.

If there’s a will there’s a way. I am not a cook nor like to spend time in the kitchen cooking or cleaning. The truth, living without, for so many years, prevented me from changing. I had all the excuses. I don’t have time, it’s too expensive, it won’t taste good. I’m “mostly” gluten and dairy free. Well folks, your body doesn’t’ acknowledge “mostly”. Sjogrens Syndrome does not accept half measures.   If the “evil” is there, it knows and treats it no different than if you ate the entire pizza or chocolate cake. The truth, I was forced to find alternatives when I had to eliminate dairy from my daughters diet. The truth, there are some really bad dairy free alternatives out there. While it served a purpose, the choices didn’t facilitate healing. The truth, I chose to say no to the pain. I chose to say no to a future of medications, doctors’ visits and debilitating and/or terminal illness.

 I am living with Sjogrens Syndrome  and it’s hard.

I will not give up the fight. I take advantage of every training, white paper and article I can find to learn more every day. Food really is nature’s medicine. We need to give our body a fighting chance to do its job. The message in the video “We are all ONE“,   is intended to be about mother nature. For me it reflected what we do to ourselves. We need to stop pushing the limits and take responsibility to preserve what we have and allow our body to live in harmony with itself.  I am not perfect. I have and continue to make progress. I chose this profession, because I want to help others improve the quality of their life. I want and will share what I’ve learned about Sjogrens Syndrome  with you. I will show you how to make better choices for your life.  There is a better way. I am living it!

 

I want and will share what I’ve learned about Sjogrens Syndrome with you. Click To Tweet

In closing…

Thank you for allowing me the time to share my thoughts. Life with Sjogrens Syndrome is hard. Many will not read to this point, for those who do, thank you. I have included a few resources if you like that sort of thing. It is, by all means, not an exhaustive list. Having a strong and positive support system is vital to our health. I am fortunate to have the support of my husband and children. If you don’t, I invite you to join our community of support. The door will always be open, you are not alone with Sjogrens Syndrome.

Wishing you good health for life,

Margie

Sources:

http://www.greenmedinfo.com/page/dark-side-wheat-new-perspectives-celiac-disease-wheat-intolerance-sayer-ji

http://www.einkorn.com/einkorn-nutritional-facts/

http://authoritynutrition.com/6-shocking-reasons-why-gluten-is-bad/

http://instituteofhealthsciences.com/the-intermittent-fasting-diet-52-diet-by-caroline-noonan/

https://thefastdiet.co.uk/forums/topic/help-with-inflammation/

My Quest for the Best Paleo Bread

The Best Paleo Bread Quest Begins…

My quest for the best paleo bread started because one of the hardest things to give up when you first remove Gluten from your meals is bread. I have found many store bought brands but not all Gluten free breads are created equal. Read the labels and you’ll  find many not so healthy ingredients. Hence my quest for the best Paleo bread began. Not only did it have to taste great, but it had to be easy to make. Suitable for a non-cook, non-baker. There are tons of recipes out there but, as I’m sure you’ve experienced, they don’t all turn out quite like the picture or taste great. After all, isn’t great tasting food what we want?

My 5 rules for recipes

I am not a cook or have ever really enjoyed cooking. In fact, if you told any of my friends or family that I’d be baking my own bread, making my own granola or vegan grounds they would think you were crazy.   Therefore, I have a few ground rules when it comes to making things at home.

  1. Easy, meaning few ingredients, few utensils, and no complicated cooking methods. Sifting is as complicated as I get.
  2. Reusable ingredients. I have to be able to use the ingredients in other recipes which means they need to be pretty basic cupboard items.
  3. Meals have to be pan/stove to table in under 30 minutes. For baked items and some of my staples like granola and vegan grounds, I’m willing to allow more time because I’ll be saving time in prep during the week.
  4. Has to be nutritionally balanced and accommodate an average breakdown of 20% carb, 55% fat, 25% Protein. ( as a meal or full day breakout not always as an individual item)
  5. Has to taste great! ( defined as I would want seconds)

Over the years, I’ve found a few that fit the bill. They each have a different texture and taste which means they are better suited with some foods or condiments then others. Here are a few of my favorite finds, links to where I’ve found them (if available) and the meals or snacks I’ve used them with.

  • Flax Bread: Maximized Living. Has a very earthy flavor and spongy texture. Works best with hearty meals like soups, sausage sandwiches and burgers. Also works well as a fried egg sandwich and I enjoy it toasted with a bit of almond butter.
  • Coconut flour bread: All Just Choice. This is one I’ve experimented with combining a few recipes and baking tips. Lighter in texture then the flax meal bread. Not as dense and a bit sweeter. It’s great with dairy free butter and natural preserves. Still a great option with eggs and makes good French toast. Yum!
  • Jalapeno Skillet Corn bread: The Recipe Hacker. Yes, it’s Paleo and there is NO corn! We ate this with soup or a vegan chili but to be honest, I would eat it for desert. I have to make it now without the Jalapeno’s (nightshade) but it is still just as good. It’s a little more effort ( ok 2 steps vs 1) but was extremely worth it.

While all the above are great in their own right, none really worked well as a basic sandwich bread that I would use for a PBJ (Peanut Butter and Jelly) sandwich. I have to admit, I do miss those and it’s such a staple lunch box option. I started to wonder if my quest was doomed, could there be a ‘best paleo bread’ or would I never find a replacement for basic sandwich bread I used to enjoy?  Then I came across a Paleo bread recipe from Elana’s Pantry. She has a great site full of a variety of Paleo friendly recipes.

I have to admit, I was a little hesitant at first. The coconut flour bread had become my default go to bread because it tasted great and had only a few ingredients. I was looking for ways of upping the protein content, bread after all, no matter which way you slice it, will always be higher in carbs than protein.  At first glance, Elana’s recipe looked more intense but when I compared the breakdown, it won out so I gave it a try. In actuality, all the ingredients are staple items in my kitchen and once I put it all together it was just as quick and easy as the other Paleo bread recipes. When I compared the nutritional breakdown, Elana’s recipe won out.

 

BreakdownElana’s Paleo BreadPaleo Coconut Flour BreadMaximized Living Flax BreadThe Recipe Hacker Jalapeno Corn Bread
Calories / slice11394221*337
Carb %12201519
Fat %71696970
Protein %17111610

*to be fair, the slices are large but in all honesty you wouldn’t want them any smaller J

 

The final result of the best paleo bread…drum roll…..

Elana’s Pantry is the best Paleo Bread! It was moist and not overpowering with flavors which makes it a great option for PBJ.  My version of PBJ, is really ABJ (Almond Butter & Jam).  I add a tablespoon for Almond Butter and a tablespoon of Mrs. Miller’s homemade Guava Jam. This jam is made with all natural ingredients. Not to mention I love guava and it reminds me of growing up as a kid in Hialeah. My inner child was extremely happy at 371 calories. Our Avocado dip was great on some thinner slices toasted. Imagine using it for bruschetta?! Give the paleo breads a try and let me know what you think along with how you chose to pair them.  I can’t wait to hear about your creations!

 Coming up Next … the quest for the best Paleo Vegan Bread. This one is in the making and I could use your help. If you have a favorite Paleo Vegan Bread recipe that fits all the “rules”, Please comment below. I will post the outcome next month… the saga continues.

 

How and why coconut oil pulling can super charge your health

How and why coconut oil pulling can super charge your health

Ok, so I’m not a poet, or a song writer, but I did want to take this opportunity to talk with you about “coconut oil pulling”, what it is, how to do it, and most importantly the results I’ve seen from pulling coconut oil.

coconut oil pulling – thousands of years of proof

Oil pulling is an Ayurveda (Indian) practice for oral health and detoxification that has been passed down for thousands of years. I was reading some articles on oil pulling a few months ago, and what intrigued me was a small, for want of a better phrase, “side effect” that was reported by a number of people that were advocates of this practice.

People reported they were experiencing an “over production” of saliva.

Well, for people living with Sjogrens this is a side effect we can use. Sjogrens patients who suffer from dry month produce 50% less saliva then those who do not have the autoimmune disease. Saliva aids the ability to clear food particles from our teeth; facilitates the ability to break down food for easier digestion; clear bacteria from our mouth; acts as a natural acid neutralizer; has antibacterial properties and that’s the short list.

Several studies recommend increasing saliva production to improve oral and digestive health.

So, I put the theory to the test and started oil pulling with coconut oil. I used one tablespoon of unrefined, cold pressed, virgin coconut oil and swished it in my mouth for up to 20 minutes a day followed by brushing my teeth. It’s not as bad as it first sounds, and you quickly get used to the different sensation that having a tablespoon of oil in your mouth brings. I started with 10 minutes and by the end of the first week was up to 20 minutes. It has become part of my daily morning routine.

Tip: it’s easier to complete 20 minutes if you do something else at the same time, I found I can shower, get ready, catch up on emails etc., so hardly notice the time go by.

The coconut oil pulling benefits were everything I could ask for and more. By the end of the first week I noticed my mouth wasn’t as dry and, as an additional benefit, my teeth were whiter. Now, I know the power of a placebo effect and I tend be a bit of skeptic. I needed real proof before I shared this revelation with you.  My proof came in the form of my dentist at my next scheduled cleaning a month after I started oil pulling.

The hygienist wanted to know what I was doing because my mouth looked “normal”.

The dentist confirmed it. It was also the quickest cleaning I’ve ever had. Have to love that! When I told them I had started pulling coconut oil  they both started to do it themselves. My dentist was fully aware of all the benefits, but never realized the positive impact it could have for someone with dry mouth.

My dentist now recommends it as a beneficial practice for oral hygiene going forward.

The interesting thing is it’s the “side effect” that allowed me to make the correlation. I have always been good at looking at features and benefits of various concepts, pulling those parts of each that demonstrate value and adapt it in a customized approach to each unique situation. These are types of health and wellness stories that I will continue to share with you and invite you to share your stories too. What “unforeseen’ benefits have you discovered in your journey to healthier living?

 Each step you take towards healthier living is All Just Choice.

 Margie Burton
Nutritional Therapist
All Just Choice

*Side note: some people experience teeth sensitivity when they first do oil pulling. I experienced this myself for the first couple of weeks.  My research indicates this is part of the detoxification process and effects some people more than others. Rinsing your mouth with salt water afterward helps. In addition, reduce the amount of time (example: 10 minutes) to give your body time to adjust.

Further reading
Saliva protects teeth against cavities more than we thought
Benefits of Salivary Stimulation