Worst, Better, Best Hot Apple Ciders!

Continuing on our spice binge for fall, let’s talk about good and bad hot apple ciders. Most people seem to opt for instant, but how many ingredients can you even understand on the box? I’m taking the liberty of comparing not only the ingredients, but the amount of work involved in making three kinds of apple cider.

Three types of hot apple cider

On the left is Mott’s instant Hot Spiced Cider in Red Delicious (as in the apple). Mott’s has a collection of instant hot spiced ciders, and each one is inspired by a different kind of apple – Red Delicious, Granny Smith, McIntosh, etc. But the ultimate flavor, the one that used to be my favorite – was Hot Apple Pie. YUM. That was the first one of the collection to disappear. You can find these at Sam’s Club, Wal-Mart, Shoprite, and similar places.

In the center is a spiced cider mix you’d most likely find in country shops that sell handmade Christmas ornaments (I know we’re not up to that holiday yet!) and always have that lovely spiced candle scent. Autumn Harvest Spiced Cider Mix is actually a spice bag that you would steep in heated apple juice, so it’s not really an instant “mix” as it might sound.

On the right, last and far from least, is R.W. Knudsen’s Organic Mulling Spices. This is also a teabag of mulling spices you’d steep in hot apple juice.

So which would you pick? Well, of course the instant Mott’s would be easiest. Just add hot water and voila! But the other two aren’t much more difficult. Just heat up your favorite apple juice and steep. Picking one of these three based on how long they take to make isn’t the best way to go. Let’s check out the ingredients.

apple cider ingredients

On the left is Mott’s instant hot cider. As you can see, there’s very little you can feel good about in there. It starts with sugar, which isn’t a great sign – usually that means the flavor relies on sweetness rather than…well…flavor. We actually don’t get to any kind of apple ingredient until we get to the 5th ingredient on the list! The apple puree powder (powder…ugh) is surrounded by artificial flavors and malic acid, not to mention the twice occurring maltodextrin, silicon dioxide, and caramel coloring among other things. I don’t even see any spices on the list of ingredients, which means the spice flavor is coming from the artificial flavors ingredient. Judging by the lack of real, clean ingredients, this is not something I would buy anymore.

On the right is Autumn Harvest Spiced Cider. Again, the ingredients start with sugar, which means that if your apple juice already has sugar, you are increasing that amount by 10g per serving. After the sugar, there are a bunch of real spices, which is great. The last ingredient, however, would keep me from drinking this: calcium silicate. What is calcium silicate? Well, for one, it’s used in a product called Pro Silicate, which is a solution used on plants to alter their pH level. I can’t say I want to put that into my body. The second thing to note is that it’s listed on the CDC’s site as something to watch out for because it targets your eyes, skin, and respiratory system.  To me, that’s just frightening. There’s no way I’m ingesting something the CDC says you should immediately wash off your skin or eyes OR BREATHE FRESH AIR IF YOU’VE INHALED IT. Very frightening.

R.W. Knudsen's mulling spices

Finally, we’ve made it to something human body-friendly! All organic spices with not a single preservative. Whew! This is the only thing I trust when it comes to drinking apple cider. I get myself my favorite apple juice – 365 brand organic Honeycrisp apple juice (no preservatives, no sugar, just organic Honeycrisp apples) – heat it up and steep the spice bag in it. It taste SO good. You may feel like you’ve never tasted real apple cider until you have this. And believe me, once you have this, you won’t be able to drink Mott’s mix without tasting the sugar and the chemicals. At least that was my experience.

There you have it! In order of worst ingredients to best ingredients: Mott’s instant Hot Spiced Cider, Autumn Harvest Spiced Cider Mix, and, taking #1, R.W. Knudsen’s Organic Mulling Spices.

What is your favorite apple cider mix/mulling spice mix? What do you think of the ingredients we talked about?

Keep on living the wheat free life!

 

From BLT to BLA (and it’s not boring)

Who doesn’t love a good BLT? Of course the classic is AMAZING – I’m not contesting that! But I don’t always want to use tomato because nightshades cause inflammation in  your body. Also, tomatoes can be pretty flavorless if they’re not in season. So instead, I have the perfect replacement: BLA. And it’s anything but blah. Bacon-Lettuce-and-Apple! For my own diet, here’s how I make it:

Bacon: Applegate Organic Turkey Bacon

Lettuce: organic green or red leaf lettuce

Apple: a sweet, crisp organic apple contrasts the salty bacon, typically Pink Lady, Jazz, Gala

Mayo: my favorite dairy-free mayo is Organic Vegenaise, and they have a couple of different options to suit your dietary needs including soy free

Bread: homemade buckwheat bread recipe or Udi’s White Sandwich Bread (when I was still eating it)

BLA - bacon, lettuce, apple

And there you have it. An easy organic, anti-inflammatory, gluten free, dairy free, and optional soy free BLT variation, especially perfect for fall, when apples are in their prime! What kinds of variations have you made either to accommodate your diet or just to spice it up?

Keep on living the wheat free life!

9 Reasons Why You Might Feel Lightheaded

**Disclaimer: I am not a doctor or a health professional – the below are just ideas as to why you may have lightheadedness at various times, based on my own experience, other people’s experiences, and research. Nothing can replace your own knowledge of your body or your health professional. Just take these suggestions as what they are: suggestions!

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I don’t know about you, but sometimes I get spells of lightheadedness, sometimes straight up dizziness. Nothing debilitating, but here and there the dizziness makes it difficult for me to turn my head around to, for example, check the other lane on a highway when I’m merging. That’s dangerous. But I’ve had blood tests and nothing is wrong with me to cause this. So what could it be? Consider these things:

- Have you had enough protein today? My most common problem is not having enough protein because I (1) skipped breakfast (2) had a salad with no protein for lunch (3) have done numbers 1 and 2 for a long period of time. Protein doesn’t have to mean meat. If you’re a vegetarian, you can use beans, fish (if your diet allows it), eggs (if your diet allows it), legumes (some can be hard for your stomach to digest), nuts, etc.

- You haven’t eaten at all today/low blood sugar. Don’t just go shoving food in your stomach if it’s dinner time and you haven’t eaten – you can make yourself sick that way. Instead, have something with protein, but nothing heavy. Fish, rice, and veggies would be a good meal in this case.

- Lack of sleep. If you’re low on z’s, your head could get funky in multiple ways including lightheadedness. Caffeine is only a temporary way to wake you up. Catching up on your sleep is the only way to fix this problem.

- Stress. You’ve probably heard before that stress can cause a multitude of physical reactions, and lightheadedness is one of them. If this happens, it’s important that you take a moment to calm down and relax – you don’t want to make yourself pass out. Sit back in a chair and take a deep breath. Close your eyes and figure out what’s stressing you out. Now write it down. This is SO important. Don’t be shy – no one will see this but you. Writing down your stresses can help relieve them because you’re no longer holding them inside. If your stress is caused by having too much to do, make a list of things you need to do to help take off the stress of remembering all your tasks. And make it a detailed list. The less you have to remember, the better you’ll feel.

- Physical overexertion. Did you just finish up at the gym after some heavy lifting or running? You may have overdone it, in which case it’s best to sit down and drink some water. If you’re in a place where you can safely fall asleep, let yourself AFTER you’ve taken in some water. Your body needs to recover, so let it.

- You’ve started a new pill or supplement. STOP. If it’s making you dizzy or lightheaded, DON’T CONTINUE TAKING IT. Check online if this is a common side affect, and if it’s not, call your doctor immediately to make sure nothing is serious is happening to you.

Intolerance to seaweed is more common than you think!

Intolerance to seaweed is more common than you think!

If it’s a common side affect, you still may want to inform your doctor, but also make sure to flush your system – DETOX! Get some green tea down, then follow up with lemon water. If you’ve already got a digestive enzyme that you know works for your body, take it. The faster you get whatever is affecting you out of your system, the better.

- If you have lightheadedness or dizziness directly after eating something, it may have been bad or you may have eaten something you have an allergy/intolerance to. This commonly happens with sushi. Go to Google and look up “sushi lightheadedness” and you’ll find a ton of complaints about this because many people have an allergy/intolerance to seaweed and don’t know it! Then when they eat or overeat sushi (this includes non-raw rolls), they get lightheaded. If it’s an intolerance, it may pass. If you’ve eaten an allergen and something bad could happen beyond lightheadedness, take proper precautions (any pills or patches you might already have) or seek medical attention right away. If you think it’s possible that you’ve eaten slightly off or straight up bad meat or fish and your symptoms get worse, get to a doctor ASAP. You don’t want to mess with food poisoning. While waiting it out can sometimes work, sometimes it doesn’t. Err on the side of caution and listen to your body.

- If you’ve just reintroduced a food back into your body, you may need to take it slower. You could be reacting to it because your body is no longer used to it or because your body is overwhelmed with something it no longer recognizes. When you reintroduce a food you’ve stayed off of for a long period of time, eat a very small amount at a time at first. This is crucial to your body not fighting the food, thereby possibly avoiding a bad reaction.

- Last but not least, it could be that time of the month. Lightheadedness and dizziness can happen as part of PMS. Remember, your body is going into a sort of overdrive to get your reproductive system into gear for your period, and the stress of that on your body can sap some of your energy, making you feel lightheaded. Be careful driving in these cases as exerting yourself can make it worse.

What else have you experienced that made you feel lightheaded or dizzy? Sharing your experiences is extremely welcome so we can all help each other.

Keep on living the wheat free life!

Happy Sunday!

The end of the weekend is not something to mourn, it’s something to make the most of! So get your motivated self together and cook something yummy today! Your stomach and your self-esteem will thank you for putting yourself first. Your food might even thank you; mine did:

DSC01015

Noodle love

Keep on living the wheat free life! :)

Gluten Free Banana Spice Cake Recipe

Since it’s fall, I’m not trying to do apple or pumpkin everything, but instead spice everything! So the beginning of this fall trend is banana spice cake, which I’m happy to say turned out really well. Super light, moist, and yummy. Here’s my recipe:

Banana Spice Cake Recipe Index Card

If you like to taste heavier spices, double everything in the spice mix part. Otherwise the spices will be light and the banana flavor will be front and center.

Set the oven to 350 degrees.

1. In a bowl, mash the bananas with a fork until they’re as smooth as possible. Mine always still have some lumps, but this is normal.
2. Add all wet ingredients to the bananas and mix well.
3. Put all dry ingredients in a mixing bowl and mix them together well, making sure to use a spatula to press out any lumps most common in the almond flour and coconut sugar.
4. Add wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and turn the mixer on. Make sure you scrape the bottom of the mixer with a spatula so none of the dry ingredients stay clumped on the bottom. The batter will seem a little loose – that’s okay! If you dip your spatula into the batter, about half should slide off and half should stick.
5. Pour mixture into a well greased baking pan (mine was 9×9) and put in the oven for approximately 30 minutes.

Banana Spice Cake

By the time your cake is done baking, it will be a beautiful brown with edges pulled away from the sides of the baking pan. It shocked me how light this came out, but the combo of almond flour and brown rice flour is really what did it.

Banana Spice Cake Piece

I can’t wait to share more spice recipes with you!

Keep on living the wheat free life!

Coming Down from a Sugar Detox

WE’VE DONE IT! We’ve completed the sugar detox! And by “we” I mean anyone who’s ever experienced a sugar detox…and me. Your body is cleansed of refined sugar and is showing signs of its contentment; you have more energy, sleep better, think clearer, etc.

But what now?

I’ll tell you what NOT now. Don’t overdose on sugar as soon as you’re off the detox! You’ll actually undo all you’ve done and shock your body. And we all know how shocked bodies react. Just look what happensno sugar overload to people who go on juice diets to lose weight and then go straight back into a regular diet – they usually gain more weight than they had in the first place. So how do you go about reincorporating some sugars without screwing with your system? Easy. No, literally. Take it easy – ease them into your system. That’s the healthiest way to do it. Don’t go eating a whole pile of refined sugar cookies right off the bat. Instead, limit yourself to two or three per day and slowly increase. You might be surprised, though, at your lack of cravings, or that a smaller amount of sweet things will satisfy you. Or even that the ice cream that tasted so good just two weeks ago now tastes overly sweet. Don’t mourn it – it’s a good thing! The less tempted you are to have refined sugar, the better off your body is.

Here are some good things to start out with:

- Mango Apple Salsa – eat it on chips, salmon, meat, or even by itself; eliminating the sugar is absolutely fine, I actually prefer it that way

- Chococorn – spread your chocolate intake out and mix it with healthy air-popped plain popcorn for a lightly sweet and satisfying snack

Coconut Bliss ice cream – have a small serving of non-dairy ice cream that doesn’t use refined sugar, just agave; look especially for the plainer flavors

Larabars – they use dates instead of refined sugar; I particularly like the Apple Pie, Banana Bread, and Peanut Butter Cookie bars

- Juice – pick a juice, any juice that (1) doesn’t come from concentrate (2) doesn’t have sugar in it

And those are just four easy things to help you – two homemade, three you can buy in the store.

What do you usually do when you come off a sugar detox? Do you eat sugar alternatives or go back to the refined stuff?

Keep on living the wheat free life!

Sugar Detox Day 14: “Like A Pro” Pasta

LAST DAY OF SUGAR DETOX! Wow! It went by faster than I’d expected. For this last post, I want to share with you a product I already blogged about once because it’s surprising that it’s safe for sugar detox. Plus, I’m going to show you how you can spice it up. Did you guess what it is from the title? It’s Hoboken Farms Big Red Marinara Sauce!

Hoboken Farms Big Red Marinara Sauce

This sauce has no sugar and is made from basic organic ingredients, no extras, no preservatives. It’s wonderful by itself, but I like to dress it up a little sometimes. On this detoxing occasion, I used pitted kalamata olives, which I cut in half. But let’s start from the beginning.

1. Boil water with some salt.
2. Put in pasta. I used Jovial’s Brown Rice Penne this time. If you’re doing a single serving, put in about 1.5 cups to 2 cups, depending on how hungry you are. I like a full bowl of pasta, so I use 2 cups.
3. Boil pasta until just barely al dente, then strain and quickly rinse in cold water. Put aside.
4. Rinse out the pot you just used and put in about 1 cup of marinara sauce on medium heat. Use the same stove burner to save energy. Here’s where you can get fancy. You can:
– Add a 1/2 tablespoon of oregano
– Sauté diced onions, then add them to the heated sauce
– Cut 4-6 pitted kalamata olives cut in half and add to the sauce as it’s heating up
– Sauté other chopped veggies like bell peppers, broccoli, peas, etc. and add them to the heated sauce
– Add meat – roast chicken, ham, or even steak – to the sauce as it’s heating up
5. Once the sauce is heated through, add the pasta and mix well. Let the sauce cook down a little bit and stir a couple more times to make sure the pasta doesn’t stick. This will take about 4 minutes.

Kalamata Olives in Marinara Sauce with Penne

That’s all there is to it! You skipped the hard part – making the sauce – and just added some extras. You even used the same pan for the pasta, so that’s one less thing you have to wash. You did this like a pro, and you have the restaurant-quality dish to show for it. What a reward for the last day of sugar detox!

So how did your sugar detox go? Was this your first time? Would you do it again?

Keep on living the wheat free life!

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