A Sweet Valentine’s Treat

Valentine’s Day is almost here, and soon, there will be sweets everywhere. Sugar is my personal weakness. Although it may be tempting to dive right into the chocolate, you may want to think twice, because there are many chemicals lurking in mass-produced sweets. Reese’s cups, for example, are known to contain a dangerous chemical made from petroleum called Tertiary Butylhydroquinone, or TBHQ. Many other well-known companies, such as Godiva and Russell Stover, use artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives (think Yellow #5!) in their chocolates.

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This year, instead of buying questionable sweets for your sweetheart, try an alternative! I highly recommend the Enjoy Life Brownie Mix I recently purchased at Wal-Mart. It was so easy to make these little cupcake brownies, and Enjoy Life’s mix is free of eight common allergens (including gluten) and doesn’t contain anything artificial.

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I finished by topping with a few fresh berries and crushed walnuts. Voila! A delicious treat minus the gross laboratory ingredients.

Keep it simple and sweet this Valentine’s Day. Browse the gluten-free or health food section of your local grocery store; you may be surprised at the natural alternatives to conventional snacks. Look for products that are free of artificial preservatives and colors, and be sure you can read and understand each ingredient listed. Laboratory ingredients like Tertiary Butylhydroquinone wouldn’t be found in your pantry next to the flour and sugar, and therefore, they don’t belong in your food!

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Sources:

“Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups – Too Cheap and Full of Toxic Chemicals.” Living Traditionally.

“Are You Getting Conned by Cheap & Toxic Chocolate?” Food Babe.

Healthy Little Limes

Good morning and Happy Friday!

After doing some reading this morning, I learned about the many health benefits contained inside a little lime. I had no idea. Did you know that drinking unsweetened water with lime, or adding lime slices to a recipe, can offer the following health advantages?

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Digestion Helper
A lime’s acidity works with saliva to break down food. Limes stimulate the bowels and are also a good source of fiber.

Infection Fighter
Due to a lime’s high Vitamin C content, they can help the body fend off infections. If you’re already sick, limes can help shorten your cold or flu. Citric acid kills bacteria and is often used to preserve foods.

Inflammation Reducer
I had no idea, but Vitamin C can decrease the levels of inflammation in your body. (I’ll have to pass this one along to my dad, who suffers from psoriatic arthritis.)

Cancer Fighter
Citrus fruits have been shown in studies to help fight various cancers.

Asthma Reliever
This one is personal for me because I have asthma. Lemons and limes are effective for asthma relief and I will certainly try this out firsthand.

I just poured myself a tall glass of lime water to enjoy as I finish typing this post. I had no idea limes were so healthy, and it’s so easy to add them to your favorite recipes (so many possibilities: tacos or burritos, salads, black bean burgers, chicken…). I will definitely try to increase my lime intake after reading these amazing health benefits.

 

What’s Your Daily Sugar Intake?

Treats, such as these caramel apples from last summer’s trip to Rehoboth Beach (yum!), are a fun and rewarding part of life.

Too many treats, however, will easily exceed your daily recommended sugar intake. Do you know how much processed sugar (not fruits) you’re consuming each day? Did you know that sugar hides in many foods, and many of these foods are not desserts?

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The obvious places sugar can be found include cookies, candies, cakes, doughnuts, soda, and ice cream, but the less obvious places include cereals, breakfast foods, sauces, condiments, peanut butter, yogurt, and more.

According to the American Heart Association, men should only be consuming about 37.5g of sugar per day, or 9 teaspoons. Women can consume around 25g, or 6 teaspoons.

sugarinfoTo visualize grams into teaspoons (a trick that personally helps me), take the number of grams and divide it by 4. This will give you an estimate for how many teaspoons you’re consuming; 20 grams of sugar, therefore, is 4 teaspoons.

It’s important to check the sugar content in almost everything. Below are a few popular grocery items and their grams of sugar per serving:

  • Soda: 41g per 12oz Serving (10.25 teaspoons)
  • Non-Organic Ketchup: 4g per 1 Tablespoon (1 teaspoon)
  • Greek Yogurt Cup: 9g per Cup (2.25 teaspoons)
  • French Vanilla Coffee Creamer: 5g per 1 tablespoon (1.25 teaspoons)
  • Single Serve Frozen Pepperoni Pizza: 12g per 4-slice Pizza (3 teaspoons)
  • Dark Chocolate Strawberry “Nutrition” Bar: 14g per Bar (3.5 teaspoons)

Considering these numbers, it’s so easy to consume excess amounts of sugar.

For example, if you had 2 cups of coffee and cream (2.5 teaspoons), a bagel (3g sugar each = 0.75 teaspoons) and cream cheese (5g per 2 tablespoons = 1.25 teaspoons), half of the single-serve pizza (2 slices, 6g sugar = 1.5 teaspoons), and a dark chocolate strawberry bar for a snack (3.5 teaspoons), you’ve only made it to the end of the work day, and you’re already at 9.5 teaspoons of sugar, which is 3.5 more teaspoons then you should’ve consumed today! In this instance, you haven’t eaten dinner yet, and you really haven’t eaten that much. It is important to be an informed consumer when it comes to sugar content.

Why does your sugar intake matter? Sugar is harmful to the body in large doses, and too much sugar can cause dental cavities, diabetes, cognitive decline, liver failure, weight gain, and heart problems.

Desserts and treats are fine in moderation, but it’s important to keep a balanced diet and to be aware of the places where sugar can hide. (Luckily, the above does not apply to fresh fruits, so keep eating that fruit you love!)