Is Black Seed Oil the Key to Weight Loss?

There are a lot of claims that black seed oil is the next weight-loss “miracle” you need if you want to stay slim. Believers will tell you that it “melts” fat and “instantly” gives you a perfect waistline. How much of the hype is true?

What Is Black Seed Oil?

Black seed oil comes from a flowering plant called Nigella sativa. Some natural health stores refer to this plant as black caraway, black cumin or Roman coriander, but it’s not related to traditional cumin or caraway at all. When pressed, these tiny black seeds release an aromatic, peppery oil.

How Effective Is Black Seed Oil for Weight Loss?

It’s time for the million-dollar question: Does black seed oil really work for losing weight? The answer is yes, but there’s a catch.

According to a few studies, black seed oil can significantly reduce the body-mass index and waist size of people who are overweight. So far, so good. It helps you drop those extra pounds and slims your belly.

However, this research measured weight loss in groups who were also eating a low-calorie diet. The people taking black seed oil burned more fat compared to the other group, but everyone in the study was eating healthy food. This means that black seed oil can enhance your weight loss efforts, but you also need to follow a smart diet.

Why Is Black Seed Oil Good for Weight Loss?

Scientists still aren’t sure how black seed oil helps with weight loss. One possibility is that its natural compounds give your metabolism a boost for faster fat burning. It’s also possible that black seed oil reduces cravings for junk food, making it easier to eat less and choose healthy foods.


DON’T go to the dentist 🛑
You do not need to shell out thousands of dollars, just to keep your teeth clean and healthy. In fact, you never need to set foot in a dentist office ever again. Instead, there’s a new home remedy that’s taken the world by storm, and… All you have to do is mix together these dirt-cheap ingredients!


What Other Health Benefits Does Black Seed Oil Have?

Black seeds have been used for their medicinal properties for a long time. So, if you want to try this oil for slimming your waistline, you may get other benefits, too. Black seed oil is rich in antioxidants, making it good for overall health:

  • Reduces blood pressure

  • Lowers cholesterol

  • Improves blood sugar levels

  • Prevents bloating

  • Helps digestive function

Important studies have shown that black seed oil can help people who type 2 diabetes to balance their blood sugar levels. By lowering blood pressure and cholesterol, the antioxidants in black seed oil can help protect your heart.


How Safe Is Black Seed Oil?

More research is needed, but taking the equivalent of 1 teaspoon a day for several months doesn’t appear to have harmful side effects. However, black seed oil may interfere with medications such as beta blockers. If you take prescription medicine, always check with your doctor before taking supplements.

How Do You Use Black Seed Oil?

If you’re excited about trying black seed oil, getting started is pretty easy. You can either take it as a supplement or use it with meals.

Soft gel supplements provide about 2–3 grams of oil per day. Some people take 1 teaspoon of oil directly. When used in meals, you can add 2–4 tablespoons without problems.

Personally, I like to use black seed oil in salad dressing. It has a spicy, strong flavor similar to fennel. I mix it with lemon juice or Dijon mustard for a healthy vinaigrette. You can toss this tasty dressing with spinach, romaine, arugula, radishes, carrots and other fresh veggies.

7 Life-Saving Hacks for Healthy Eating at Your Favorite Restaurants

Eating Out

Have you been avoiding Sunday brunch with the girls and date night at that incredible French cafe? If you think weight loss has to mean deprivation, think again! When you love eating out but you want to stay healthy, put these life-saving hacks in your back pocket. When it's time for your sister-in-law's birthday dinner or your monthly casual lunch with your coworkers, you'll be able to order smart and enjoy a delicious dining-out experience.

Think About Your Drink

For best results, stick to water when you eat at a restaurant. Not only do you avoid empty calories, but you also limit your sugar intake when you swear off sweetened iced tea, sodas and other beverages. If water isn't your thing, try unsweetened tea. Alcohol also adds calories without much nutritional value; the best choices are either a 4-oz glass of red wine or a cocktail with vodka and a diet mixer.

Choose Lean Meat

While a meat-free meal might seem like the healthiest option, it can backfire if you usually don't eat a vegetarian diet. If you don't feel full, you might overdo it on bread and other empty carbs. Select a lean cut like chicken breast or a less-fatty steak like filet mignon or sirloin so you'll get the protein you need to stay satiated until your morning cup of coffee without the added fat and calories.

Eat Before You Go

Avoid skipping lunch so you get the best bang for your buck at that new tapas place. Instead, eat a light, healthy meal before you dine out. Think carrot and celery sticks with low-fat ranch or whole-wheat pita with hummus. Otherwise, you might find yourself going harder than anticipated on the breadbasket. If you don't have time to eat beforehand, ordering a healthy appetizer can potentially reduce the overall calorie content of your meal.


DON’T go to the dentist 🛑
You do not need to shell out thousands of dollars, just to keep your teeth clean and healthy. In fact, you never need to set foot in a dentist office ever again. Instead, there’s a new home remedy that’s taken the world by storm, and… All you have to do is mix together these dirt-cheap ingredients!


Slow the Pace

No matter how hungry you are, if you wolf down your meal you might keep eating long after you've had enough. Eating more slowly gives your brain time to process signals that you're full. Try setting down your fork and taking a sip of water between every bite or two.

Load Up on Veggies

When perusing the apps menu, skip anything breaded, creamy or fried. Instead, pack your plate with steamed or roasted veggies, order a starter salad with dressing on the side or choose a broth-based veggie soup. Ask to have your vegetables prepared with olive oil rather than butter. You can even ask for a double or triple side of veggies with your main to amp up the nutrients and reduce your caloric intake. See if you can swap fries or a loaded baked potato for broccoli, spinach or sweet potato fries.

Make a Plan

Check out the restaurant's menu online before you go, especially if you haven't visited before. This gives you a chance to set your heart on a healthy selection before the host seats your party. If you don't notice anything nutritious on the menu, you might want to pick a restaurant with a greater variety of choices. When in doubt, ask if the chef can prepare a simple meal of steamed veg and chicken.

Skip Dessert

That three-layer chocolate torte might look enticing, but it has little to offer in the way of nutritional value. If you have a sweet tooth, ask a friend (or two) to share. Otherwise, order coffee or espresso to enjoy a relaxed end to your meal without the extra sugar, calories and fat.

With these seven smart tips, you won't miss a beat when it comes to social engagements with eating involved. Ordering mindfully (and splurging everyone so often) can boost the health of your diet and may even lead to shedding a few unwanted points.

3 Things You Have To Know About Your Metabolism If You Want To Lose Weight

Weight Loss

I have a friend; let’s call her Carla. Like a lot of us, Carla wants to lose a few pounds. Like a lot of us, Carla has a serious sweet tooth. And like a lot of us, Carla often blames her displeasure with her weight on her metabolism, neglecting the fact that she finishes most nights with a delicious but unhealthy bowl of mint chocolate chip ice cream.

While your metabolism does play a role in your weight, that role is typically misunderstood. Here are three things you may not know about your metabolism.

1. It Isn’t One Single Thing

For the longest time, I thought that a person’s metabolism was a single process in his or her body, like breathing. Boy, was I wrong.

Your metabolism is a group effort by several smaller, individual metabolic processes. One of these is your resting metabolism, which is what most people are talking about when they refer to their metabolism.

A more accurate way of thinking about your metabolism, especially with regard to weigh management, is to think of it as your totally daily energy expenditure. Your TDE is based on three things:

  1. Your resting metabolism (as mentioned above)

  2. How much energy your body needs to digest food

  3. How active you are

Together, these three processes make up your overall metabolism. Your resting metabolism is the biggest piece of the TDE pie. It makes up roughly 70% of your metabolism. The energy your body needs to process what you eat is the smallest slice at 10%.

2. It Adapts to Your Lifestyle

My friend Carla isn’t alone in blaming her metabolism for those extra pounds she wants to shed. Plenty of women assume their metabolism is this fixed thing over which they have plenty of control. If you have a fast metabolism, you can eat lasagna three meals a day and never gain weight. If you have a slow metabolism, simply looking at a piece of birthday cake can make you go up a dress size.

None of that is correct. Your metabolism isn’t a fixed, singular process. As you change, it does too. The more calories you eat and the more you move around, the more calories you burn. Conversely, if you eat less and move less, your metabolic rate slows down as well.

What can we take away from that? Load up on healthy, whole foods and stay active, and you’ll encourage your metabolism to kick into high gear. Lie on the couch, sipping on diet soda and forcing down carrot sticks, and your metabolism will slow down accordingly.


DON’T go to the dentist 🛑
You do not need to shell out thousands of dollars, just to keep your teeth clean and healthy. In fact, you never need to set foot in a dentist office ever again. Instead, there’s a new home remedy that’s taken the world by storm, and… All you have to do is mix together these dirt-cheap ingredients!


3. There’s No Such Thing as a “Broken” Metabolism

Maybe you’ve heard a friend say that she can’t lose weight because her metabolism is broken. Maybe you’ve even though that about yourself once or twice. Here’s the thing: Your metabolism can’t break. As you’ve already seen, it’s not one specific thing; it’s a network of processes. If you want it to speed up, you need to give it fuel in the form of nutrient-dense, unprocessed food and plenty of movement.

It’s worth nothing that that movement doesn’t have to be 90 grueling minutes at the gym every day. Chasing after your grandkids or running errands are both great for your metabolic rate, too. The main thing is to get off the couch or away from your desk as much as possible. Barring thyroid or other hormonal issues, the biggest culprit for a sluggish metabolism is a sedentary lifestyle.

If you’re unhappy with your weight, it may be time to take control of your metabolism. By moving more and filling your plate with useful calories, you can make your metabolic rate work for you instead of against you.

How To Find the Right Personal Trainer for You

If you have trouble staying motivated or designing an exercise routine that gives you results, expert trainers can help eliminate these obstacles. How can you choose the right personal trainer for your needs? Look for these eight essentials:

1. Credentials

Fitness may not be rocket science, but personal trainers should be certified. Depending on whether you’re focused on health, weight training or sports, look for certification from The American Council on Exercise (ACE), National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) or National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM).

2. Focus

Find a personal trainer that focuses on the type of activity you need help with. If your goals are to build sleek muscles, look for a weight trainer. Do you want to run a marathon? There are trainers who specialize in running. For overall health or weight loss, you can even find certified trainers who are also registered dieticians.


DON’T go to the dentist 🛑
You do not need to shell out thousands of dollars, just to keep your teeth clean and healthy. In fact, you never need to set foot in a dentist office ever again. Instead, there’s a new home remedy that’s taken the world by storm, and… All you have to do is mix together these dirt-cheap ingredients!


3. Professionalism

It’s a good thing to find someone friendly and energetic, but there are always lines that shouldn’t be crossed. If a personal trainer says or does something that makes you feel uncomfortable, choose a different option. A great sign of trustworthy exercise professionals is that they ask you about any preexisting conditions you have or medication you take before designing your exercise routine.

4. Insurance

Even the best doctors have malpractice insurance to cover unforeseen accidents. In the same way, you should only work with personal trainers who carry liability insurance.

5. Schedule

Before signing up, make sure the trainer’s availability lines up with your schedule. Not all trainers are willing to give you classes in the evenings or on the weekend (though many do). Professionals who adapt to your schedule make it easier for you to maximize weight loss every week.

6. Reputation/Experience

The best trainers have real experience under their (beautifully slim) belts. Real professionals should have a great reputation for delivering results, not just telling clients what they want to hear. Check online for reviews from other customers. Any trainer should have a page on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter that you can look at.

7. Personality

It may seem like a small thing, but your trainer’s personality is actually one of the most important things. Certain types of individuals simply click with your own outlook on life, which makes them especially effective at motivating you. Like a great doctor, these trainers feel like friends you trust. Whether you need some military-esque tough love or an encouraging voice by your side, there’s a professional that fits out there somewhere.

8. Price

Last but not least is your exercise budget. It’s common for trainers to charge upwards of $50–$100 an hour or more. What if you can’t afford the cost? Before giving up an ideal trainer that fits you well, ask about discounts. Sometimes, you can save money with a six-month or annual exercise plan. Other times, the solution is to take a group class with friends.

Hiring a trainer can give you important advantages with your weight loss goals. Exercise professionals know how to motivate you, how to keep you safe during workouts and how to give you long-term goals that really work. That way, you don’t just lose weight, you learn the keys to keeping it off.

7 Reasons To Try Spinning

When I was younger, “spinning” was called “riding a bike.” It was fun, for the most part, and a good way to look for trouble with my girlfriends or, much later, look at autumn leaves with my husband. Today, spinning classes are all the rage, and the type of bike riding you do looks nothing like those sun-dappled daytrips to gaze at fall foliage. Instead, riders pedal together indoors on a fleet of stationary bikes under the motivational leadership of an instructor. Some classes feature pulse-pounding pop music; other keeps the lights low. No matter the atmosphere, spinning is a fun, high-energy way to stay healthy.

1. It’s Low-Impact

With all the music and words of encouragement, spinning classes may be high-octane but, unlike running or dancing, spinning itself is not a high-impact activity. Instead, it’s gentle on your joints, which makes it an excellent type of exercise for older riders or those bouncing back from injury. With spinning, the chances of a stress fracture or torn ligament are virtually nonexistent.

2. It’s Not Boring

Unless you have an iPad and a Netflix subscription at your disposal, putting in an hour on the treadmill can be a real snoozefest. Whether you’re walking or running, you’re also unlikely to vary your pace. In spin class, your instructor will have you changing your pace and your resistance throughout the entire workout. This variety is great for your muscles and a sly way to keep you from getting burned out.


DON’T go to the dentist 🛑
You do not need to shell out thousands of dollars, just to keep your teeth clean and healthy. In fact, you never need to set foot in a dentist office ever again. Instead, there’s a new home remedy that’s taken the world by storm, and… All you have to do is mix together these dirt-cheap ingredients!


3. It Burns a Ton of Calories

How’s this for a statistic? An hour-long spin class typically burns about twice the calories of other exercise classes. What’s more, all of that variety described above makes it a HIIT workout, i.e., a session that combines high-intensity bursts of activity with lower-intensity recovery movements. HIIT workouts cause your body to keep burning calories and blasting away the fat long after you’ve left the gym.

4. You Can Pick Your Own Pace

Just because your instructor cranks up the pace or the resistance, it doesn’t mean you have to do the same. With spinning, you can ride at a level of challenge that works for you. (P.S. No one else will be able to tell what resistance your bike is set to.)

Similarly, if you have any mobility issues, you can adapt your workout to fit your needs. If you have a bad back like me, for example, you can stay seated throughout the class instead of standing up when prompted.

5. Weather Can’t Cancel Your Class

Walking is great exercise. When rain, snow or sleet are part of the forecast, however, your motivation to lace up your shoes and don 19 layers of warm clothing may wane. In some cases, such as those involving ice, it may be downright dangerous to walk, jog or break out your trusty Schwinn. Since spinning takes place indoors, you can rest assured that a downpour will never cancel your workout plans.

6. It’s Good for Your Whole Body

Think spinning’s just good for your legs? Think again. It’s also a fabulous workout for your core and your cardiovascular system. A spinning class really gets your blood pumping, which can lower your chance of stroke, diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and other chronic conditions.

7. It’s a Group Effort

My favorite part of attending spin class is the community spirit. Sure, your instructor will motivate you throughout your ride, but so will your classmates. You’re all in this together. If you often find yourself in need of encouragement when you sweat, spinning is an excellent choice. I’ve made lifelong friends from spin class.

Don’t let the fear of a group class or a lack of cycling experience stop you from spinning. Your local gym likely has spinning classes for all ages and levels of experience — and a bike with your name on it!

Does Apple Cider Vinegar Live up to the Hype?

If you're like me, you've heard apple cider vinegar recommended in the past few years for everything from weight loss to lower cholesterol and better blood sugar control. How many of these claims actually stand up to science? While we haven't yet seen a ton of studies that look at the health effects of apple cider vinegar, the existing research gives some hints about the potential uses of this pungent pantry staple.

Limited Evidence of Long-Term Weight Loss

Harvard Health News reports that while acetic acid, found in apple cider vinegar, boosts metabolism and decreases fat deposits in obese rodents, these effects have not been replicated in human studies. The largest human trial on apple cider vinegar and weight loss to date, conducted in 2009 by Japan's Central Research Institute, showed moderate weight loss in participants who took 2 tablespoons of the vinegar each day. Individuals who took 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar each day saw similar but less dramatic effects. With just 175 study subjects, however, we need more research to determine whether these results hold true with a larger sample size.

A newer but smaller study, published in 2018 in the Journal of Functional Foods, found that the 39 overweight or obese participants achieved lower body weight and BMI with apple cider vinegar administration along with a restricted-calorie diet. These researchers, from the Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran, also reported an association between apple cider vinegar and reduced appetite among individuals in the study.

Rodent studies about apple cider vinegar also suggest that the ingredient can work as an appetite suppressant. A small randomized control trial published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association in 2005 found that individuals who took apple cider vinegar along with a high-carb meal ate 200 to 275 fewer than normal calories for the day. These findings echoed research published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 1998, where study participants reported a more significant feeling of fullness and slower stomach emptying after taking apple cider vinegar along with a starchy meal.

Other Uses for Apple Cider Vinegar

The Japanese study also found that apple cider vinegar had a modest positive effect on participants' blood triglyceride and body fat levels. In the 2018 study, participants also experienced reduced triglyceride levels, along with lower total cholesterol levels and higher levels of HDL (good) cholesterol.

Researchers in the Iranian study also reported that participants had lower visceral adiposity index levels after the apple cider vinegar regimen. VAI is a collection of body measures that can indicate a higher risk for certain types of cancer as well as heart disease and metabolic syndrome.

Apple cider vinegar may also improve blood sugar control among individuals who have type 2 diabetes according to a 2016 study by the Singapore Institute for Clinical Sciences and the National University of Singapore. Rodent studies on the effects of apple cider vinegar also support decreased insulin levels and lower blood sugar levels.

Getting Started With Apple Cider Vinegar

Without additional research, the jury is still out on the true efficacy of apple cider vinegar for weight loss and overall health. If you're curious and want to give this trick a try, apple cider vinegar is safe for most people. However, you should check with your doctor before adding a daily dose to your supplement routine. Individuals who are taking potassium-lowering medications or have diabetes can experience unwanted complications from apple cider vinegar.

In addition, you should dilute the vinegar with water to prevent its acidity from wearing away your tooth enamel. Most doctors recommend diluting one to two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar in a full 8-ounce glass of water and spreading out consumption throughout the day.

Get Creative With These Delicious Vegetarian BBQ Ideas

The words "vegetarian" and "BBQ" don't naturally flow together for most people, but they don't have to be mutually exclusive. For many people, their first thought when they hear "vegetarian BBQ" is fake meat, which often doesn't grill very well, anyway. The thing is, the best vegetarian BBQ items are fruits and veggies, and they're not only for people who don't eat meat! Add a few of these items to your next grilling session and

Grilled Corn

Grilled corn is a classic summer food. It also happens to be vegetarian because, well, it's corn. The secret to beautiful, perfectly roasted corn that isn't burnt to a crisp is brining. That's right. Soak the ears (husks and all) in a tall stockpot filled with salty water for a few hours before grilling time. When it's time to cook them, shake off the excess water, and carefully lay them on the grates. The soaked husks will help the corn steam and roast to perfection without scorching too much. When the ears are done, peel back the husks and slather the corn in butter and seasoning salt or chili powder. If you're serving grilled corn to vegans, try olive oil instead of butter.

Fruit and Veggie Kabobs

These are pretty self-explanatory. You skewer some fruits and some veggies, and you grill them. The key is figuring out which flavors go well together. You can't go wrong with red bell peppers, onion, and pineapple. Or try strawberries and peach or mango chunks with blackberries or kiwi pieces. If you're using wooden or bamboo skewers, soak them first so they'll be less likely to burn on the grill.

Grilled Peaches

Try grilling peaches at your next BBQ, and summer will never be the same. This craveable delicacy is extremely simple to put together. All you need is halved peaches and a little bit of olive oil. You just brush the peaches with the oil and lay them on a medium-hot grill. Cook them for about five minutes on each side, then take them off and serve them plain, with ice cream, or however else you see fit.

Portobello Mushrooms

This is the closest thing to fake meat you'll find in this list. Grilled portobellos are delicious on their own, but they also make for decent sandwich filling. Before you cook them, whisk up a basting liquid of olive oil, lemon juice, balsamic vinegar, garlic, salt, and pepper. You'll sometimes see this referred to as a marinade, but you don't want to soak your mushrooms the way you would with a true marinade. Simply brush the mixture on both sides before tossing the portobellos on the hot grill. Cook four or five minutes per side, and then serve them on hamburger buns with all the fixings.

Whether you're entertaining vegetarians at your next backyard BBQ or just trying to add fruits and vegetables to your typical cookout menu, these recipes should get you started. Once you discover how easy it is to grill delicious appetizers, desserts, and side dishes, you'll likely come up with even more ideas for incorporating your favorite fruits and vegetables during grilling season. Pro tip: You can grill just about any vegetable, but keep in mind that tiny pieces can easily fall between the grates and into the fire, so steer clear of very small veggies and when you cut veggies for grilling, keep the pieces relatively large.

Get the Facts on 5 Plant-Based Meat Substitutes

If you've been thinking about going vegetarian for health, environmental or animal rights reasons, you may wonder how you'll live without your carnivorous faves. With so many innovative plant-based meat substitutes on the market now, it's easier than ever to eat less or even no meat while still enjoying your go-to dishes. Consider this your guide to the bevy of faux meat options you'll find at your local grocery or health food store.

Tofu

Depending on how you prepare it, tofu is an incredibly versatile plant-based meat option that can sub in for seafood, chicken, pork or even beef. This soybean product, which has long been used liberally in Asian cuisine, can soak up the savory flavors of your chosen marinades and spices. When you incorporate tofu in your diet, you'll also enjoy the benefit of calcium, protein, fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, selenium and iron. In fact, tofu is a complete protein, which means it contains all the essential amino acids the body needs for optimal function.

Even if you've tried tofu before and found it too tasteless or mushy, try purchasing an extra-firm variety and using lots of seasoning. You might be pleasantly surprised about how satisfying soy-based meat can be when you spice it up and throw it on the grill. Tofu also provides an excellent alternative to cheese and eggs if you plan to go completely vegan.

Tempeh

Although tempeh is also made from soy, the use of the whole soybean and the fermenting process create a product with a stronger flavor and an even greater nutritional value. Tempeh, which comes in small cakes or patties, is rich in vitamins, fiber and protein and offers benefits for your digestive health. You may also find tempeh products mixed with grains such as barley and quinoa.

The firm texture of this meat substitute works well in sandwiches, salads and stir-fries, or try a traditional pairing with Thai peanut sauce. Crumble it to use in place of ground beef in your favorite taco and chili recipes.

Seiten

If you avoid soy, try seitan. This pure wheat gluten product is high in protein and low in carbohydrates. You can buy seitan in premade vegan versions of burgers, bacon and sausage, or purchase straight seitan and make your own meat alternatives. Seitan is easy to prepare and can be baked, stir-fried, grilled, sauteed and marinated to your heart's content. However, keep in mind that seitan is not an option for individuals with celiac disease or other forms of gluten sensitivity.

Jackfruit

This new kid on the block is a tropical fruit with a mild taste and meat-like texture that make it an ideal substitute for pulled pork. The sweet taste pairs well with barbecue sauce and other spicy flavors. Just roast the jackfruit in the oven with your seasonings of choice for about 15 minutes for a chewy texture that will make your tacos, sandwiches and stews sing. Best of all, this fruit is rich in fiber, potassium and vitamin C. According to Medical News Today, studies show that jackfruit consumption in animals boosts "good" (HDL) cholesterol levels and decreases the levels of "bad" (LDL) cholesterol.

Mushrooms

Fungi are another outstanding meat substitute if you prefer to eat whole foods rather than processed products. The naturally meaty flavor and texture of mushrooms make these veggies a natural for tacos, stir-fries and sandwiches. You'll also get a healthy dose of fiber and very few calories, which makes mushrooms a filling no-brainer if you're trying to achieve a healthy weight.

When you're experimenting with these meat substitutes, keep an open mind and an open spice cabinet. Refer to recipes that provide step-by-step instructions on how to prepare these unfamiliar ingredients to become an expert in no time.

3 Delicious Dessert Recipes That Don’t Use Sugar

I love dessert. I don’t love what it does for my waistline or blood sugar. Fortunately, there are a variety of clever ways to enjoy a sweet treat without packing on the pounds or otherwise negatively impacting your health. Here are three of my favorite dessert recipes that don’t use an ounce of processed sugar.

Double Chocolate Banana Cookies

Ingredients:

  • ¾ cup whole-wheat flour

  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda

  • ¼ teaspoon salt

  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

  • ½ medium banana, mashed

  • ¼ cup honey

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted

  • ½ medium banana, chopped

  • 1/3 cup no sugar-added chocolate chips (I use Enjoy Life vegan semi-sweet chips)

Directions:

  1. Add flour, baking soda, salt and cocoa powder to a large bowl. Mix well until no clumps remain. Set aside.

  2. Whisk banana, honey, vanilla and coconut oil together in a medium bowl.

  3. Add the banana mixture to the flour mixture and gently combine.

  4. Fold in banana chunks and chocolate chips. Chill mixture in fridge for 30 minutes.

  5. Preheat oven to 325 degrees and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

  6. After the dough has sufficiently chilled, drop dough onto prepared sheet by the tablespoon. Shape them into cookies; these don’t spread out much.

  7. Bake for 10-14 minutes, depending on how soft you like your cookies.

  8. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack to cool further.

Devil’s Food Doughnuts

Ingredients – Doughnuts:

  • 5 Medjool dates, pitted

  • 1 tablespoon water, divided

  • ½ cup coconut flour

  • ¼ cup, plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened almond milk

  • ¼ cup good maple syrup

  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted

  • 2 tablespoons sunflower seed butter

  • 2 tablespoons coconut crystals

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

  • ½ teaspoon baking soda

  • pinch sea salt

  • 2 eggs

  • ½ cup vegan chocolate chips

Ingredients – Glaze:

  • ½ tablespoon sunflower seed butter

  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup

  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil, softened

Directions:

  1. Grease a donut pan with coconut oil. Any size pan will work; with a large pan, this recipe yields eight delicious donuts that, yes, I know, are technically a breakfast food.

  2. Microwave dates with ½ tablespoon of water for 30 seconds to soften.

  3. Add ½ tablespoon of water to the softened dates and mash well. You should end up with about ¼ cup of date paste.

  4. Combine date paste with remaining donut ingredients in a food processor. Blend until you have a smooth batter.

  5. Fill each hole in donut pan roughly 75% of the way up with batter.

  6. Bake for 12 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Remove and let cool for 5 minutes before relocating to a cooling rack to cool completely.

  7. While the donuts bake, make the glaze by whisking the sunflower seed butter, maple syrup and coconut oil together in a medium bowl.

  8. Dip top of fully cooled donuts in glaze, and you’re done!

No-Bake Peanut Butter Cookies

Ingredients:

  • ¼ cup coconut oil

  • ¼ cup honey

  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt

  • ½ cup creamy peanut butter

  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

  • 1 cup quick-cooking oats

  • ¼ cup unsweetened coconut (shredded or flakes)

Directions:

  1. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

  2. In a medium saucepan, combine coconut oil, honey, salt and peanut butter. Melt over medium heat, stirring continuously until well-combined.

  3. Stir in cocoa powder and vanilla.

  4. Stir in oats, then coconut until the dough is thoroughly mixed.

  5. Using a tablespoon, drop dough onto prepared cookie sheet. There should be enough for 18 cookies or so.

  6. Put the cookie sheet in the fridge or the freezer, and let the dough harden for at least an hour.

  7. Serve cold. (When coconut oil hits room temperature, it becomes soft.)

Eating healthy doesn’t mean depriving yourself of delicious doughnuts or sumptuous cakes, cookies or pies. Make smart choices, get a little creative in the kitchen, and indulge in moderation, and you’ll never have to go without.

3 Fat Loss Myths ­– Busted

Some say weight loss is a journey. Some say you should eat for the body you want, not the body you have. Some say that you can burn calories by eating a grapefruit. Remember that early ‘80s craze? For every grapefruit diet fad that’s debunked, two more weight-loss fables seem to pop up in its place. Here are three of the biggest fat loss myths busted.

Myth No 1: Avoid All Carbs at All Costs

First things first, some carbs really are terrible for you. Processed carbs powered by white flour and refined sugar (think pasta, pastries, fruit juice and beer) offer little or no nutritional value. Instead, they wreak havoc on your blood sugar levels and drive a host of health problems including obesity, diabetes and heart disease.

Complex carbohydrates, however, are a necessary component of a healthy diet. Research shows that because of their fiber content they can prevent an array of health issues, such as irritable bowel syndrome, heart disease, diabetes and colon cancer.

Which carbs are complex? Here’s a helpful, albeit incomplete, list:

  • Whole wheat flour, pasta and bread

  • Barley

  • Lentils

  • Brown rice

  • Quinoa

  • Beans

  • Chickpeas

Other fiber-rich foods to consider making staples of your fat-loss diet include nuts, seeds, fruits and vegetables. Each soaks up water as it moves through your body, so you don’t only feel full, you feel full for longer than you would with other foods.

Myth No. 2: Exercise Is the Key to Fat Loss

If you hate the gym, good news! Research shows that diet, not exercise, is the main factor in fat loss. Pounding the pavement or hitting the pool five days a week won’t help you lose fat and keep it off if you’re not eating well.

That said, exercise is key to maintaining your overall health — not to mention keeping up with your grandkids — so don’t donate your walking shoes to Goodwill just yet. Instead of overdoing it on the treadmill, however, focus on losing fat by building muscle.

Strengthening your body boosts your metabolism. The more muscle you have, the more calories you’ll burn each day simply by existing. Your basal metabolic rate determines how many calories melt off when you’re at rest, and the higher your body’s percentage of muscle, the higher your BMR.

Myth No. 3: If You Want To Lose Fat, Kiss Snacking Goodbye

If your mother was like mine, she likely warned you about the nutritional dangers of eating between meals. And by “warned you” I mean “ordered you not to spoil the dinner she spent the last 90 minutes making over a hot stove." You may have even issued such a warning to your own kids.

With apologies to mothers everywhere, snacking can be good for you in certain instances. In fact, most experts agree that eating five small meals each day instead of three can help you avoid overeating at those meals. Having a snack when mid-afternoon hunger pangs strike can stop you from bingeing from dinner until bedtime, too.

What you eat matters even more then when you eat it, though. If you’re chowing down on sugary sweets and salty treats between meals, you’re doing your waistline no favors. Opt for a healthy snack that’s high in nutrients, such as vegetables or non-fat yogurt, and you can aid fat loss.

Skip the alcohol, too. It's loaded with empty calories. If the thought of a wine-free book club makes you shudder, start with small changes. Trade one glass of Chardonnay for a clean, cool bottle of sparkling water with lemon that you can feel good about.

When it comes to fat loss, it’s important to separate the wheat from the chaff. And, as this myth-busting session shows, it’s just as vital to separate the whole wheat bread from its processed counterparts and trade your afternoon cookie break for some carrots and hummus. Over time, small changes yield huge results.