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.


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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.

Can Losing Weight Help With Joint Pain?

Now you have yet another reason to stay active and eat a delicious, healthy diet. According to research from the renowned National Institute of Health, Arthritis Foundation and Cleveland Clinic, losing weight has a major effect on reducing joint pain and improving mobility. Here are 5 reasons why burning those calories should be a priority.

1. Osteoarthritis Relief

Losing weight can alleviate pain significantly in people who have OA. This is because every pound of weight is equal to four pounds of pressure on joints. If you drop just 10 pounds, it’s like you lost 40 pounds when it comes to your joints. Lose 20 pounds and your body feels 80 pounds lighter!

2. Less Cartilage Loss

Weight loss can make life much easier for people who have OA. Losing weight reduces the wear and tear your joints have to deal with. This can slow the damage to your cartilage, especially in knees and hips. Healthy cartilage cushions your joints, so you want to protect it as long as possible.

According to one 2017 study of knee OA patients, people who continually lost weight experienced much lower cartilage damage. What’s especially interesting is that weight loss was directly related to the speed of cartilage loss. The more weight patients lost, the slower OA advanced.

3. Reduced Inflammation

Did you know that fatty tissues send signals to your body that trigger inflammation? Too much fat can cause sore muscles and joints throughout the body, making the pain of arthritis much worse. Stop this inflammation cascade by keeping your weight in a healthy range. A diet rich in inflammation fighting foods can also provide significant relief.

4. Positive Effects on Rheumatoid Arthritis and Psoriatic Arthritis

Hitting your ideal weight helps your body deal with autoimmune disorders such as RA and PsA better. One recent study found that weight loss produced significant positive effects on people who have PsA. This can mean fewer days where you wake up with pain and stiffness. Losing weight also increases your odds of RA remission.

5. Lower Uric Acid Levels

Burning calories can reduce overall levels of uric acid in your blood. If you have a tendency to get gout attacks, losing weight should be top on your list of natural remedies. Want to take gout pain relief to the next level? Here’s what to eat:

  • Grapefruit and oranges

  • Pineapple

  • Cherries

  • Leafy green veggies and broccoli

  • Beans

  • Nuts and peanut butter

  • Lentils

  • Whole grains

Don’t forget to drink plenty of water every day. Yogurt, low-fat milk and coffee are great for reducing uric acid levels. Yes, several cups of coffee a day can actually help with gout prevention.

The Best Exercises for Joint Pain

If you’re experiencing a lot of joint pain, the thought of exercise probably doesn't seem appealing. However, your joints need workouts to stay flexible and healthy. The good news is there are gentle exercises you can do that really work. Even better, they help your body release endorphins, natural pain relievers and mood boosters.

Try low-impact, moderately intense aerobics activities three or four days a week. Swimming, walking, biking or using an elliptical trainer all help you stay active while reducing joint stress. As you shed pounds and eat great, you can look forward to less pain each and every day.

What’s the Best Way To Lose Weight: Dieting or Lifestyle Changes?

For many, the battle of the bulge seems never-ending. We lose weight. We gain it back. We lose more weight. We gain even more weight back. To see real, permanent change on the scale, what’s the best way to ditch those unwanted pounds?

Dieting

From Atkins to The Zone, there are more diets than there are seats in Madison Square Garden. Some diets, like the Mediterranean diet, ask you to fill your plate full of healthy fats. Others, such as the Paleo diet, challenge you to go full “cavewoman” and only eat the foods that our earliest ancestors ate: nuts, lean meats, berries.

No matter what’s on the menu, virtually all diets have two things in common. First, most diets are designed to offer big results in a short period of time. They tend to do this by similar means, too:

  • Calorie restrictions

  • “Eat and “Do Not Eat” lists

  • Calorie counting

  • Prewritten weekly meal plans

  • Eliminating certain foods or food groups from your diet

  • Frequent weigh-ins

The other thing that most diets have in common is that they’re ineffective. In the simplest terms, following a regimented eating plan that’s full of rules and restrictions is a hassle. For starters, it eliminates the possibility to eat, drink and be merry. A slice of birthday cake or that second glass of wine are strictly off limits, which can make socializing a self-conscious slog.

It can also result in a frustrating cycle of eating very little for several days and then eating everything in sight. In fact, the overwhelming majority of people who lose weight using a diet gain all of that weight back within five years, and many of those folks pack on additional pounds in the process.

Dieting can also be bad for your health. Extreme diets can be a gateway to eating disorders, particularly in younger women and men. They can also leave you nutrient-deprived. Remember the Grapefruit Diet that was all the rage in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s? It turns out that woman cannot live on citrus fruit (and some strategically placed salads and skim milk) alone. Many diets lack balance. This can have adverse effects on your health, such as iron-deficiency, for example.

Some diets also impart unhealthy, if not downright bizarre, eating tips. Contrary to what you may have believed in the era of Pac-Man and shoulder pads, grapefruits do not burn fat.

Lifestyle Changes

While diets typically provide a temporary fix, healthy lifestyle changes create the potential for lasting weight loss. Slow and steady wins the race, right? Instead of forsaking all carbs, for example, make a switch to healthy whole grains, and incorporate them mindfully. This behavior is far easier to maintain than trying to swear off all bread baskets until the end of time.

Here are several examples of other lifestyle changes that can lead to permanent weight loss:

  • Eating and drinking in moderation

  • Taking the stairs

  • Avoiding processed and prepackaged “convenience” foods

  • Going for a walk everyday

  • Using a fitness tracker or pedometer

  • Drinking more water

  • Treating yourself from time to time

The key to implementing lifestyle changes is starting small. If you want to start walking two miles every day, but you haven’t dusted off your sneakers in years, start by just walking to the mailbox every day — or even just putting on some sneakers. Once you master that walk to the mailbox, start walking to the end of your block and back. You’ll likely find yourself getting to the end of your block and deciding to go even farther — just because you can.

The Verdict

If you want to lose 10 pounds for your niece’s wedding next month, a crash diet might do the trick. If, however, you want to lose weight and make it stay gone, most health and nutrition experts agree that lifestyle changes are far superior to dieting.

Gained a Little Weight During Quarantine? Here’s How To Lose It

Weight loss quarantine

If you’ve been indulging in comfort food more than usual lately, you’re not alone. Trying times call for pasta, cookies and more homemade Chex Mix than you can shake a pretzel stick at. Here’s the thing: All lockdowns must end. When you’re ready to start taking those pandemic pounds off, here are three tips to kick-start the process:

1. Get Moving

Living in a rural or suburban area can make getting outside to stretch your legs and soak up some Vitamin D relatively easy. Strive for 30 minutes of activity each day, even if it’s simply getting down on your hands and knees and yanking some weeds.

If, however, you’re confined to an apartment or other living situation that doesn’t include a spacious backyard or secluded street, you’ll need to get slightly more creative. For example, if you’re missing the gym, you might try a customizable exercise app such as Daily Workouts or Sworkit.

You can also look to YouTube for fitness options. Predictably, the video hub hosts channels dedicated to virtually any kind of movement you may want to start incorporating into your quarantine routine, from weightlifting to yoga and everything in between. For example, Yoga with Adriene, a popular channel with over 4 million subscribers, offers a seemingly endless variety of programs for people of all fitness and mobility levels.

Now might also be the time to dust off those old dance DVDs in your closet or borrow some fitness discs from your local library. If your branch isn’t open or offering curbside pickup of materials, it may have partnered with digital partners such as Hoopla to offer streaming dance videos and other home fitness titles.

2. Start a Weight Loss Program

The quickest way to lose weight is to pair exercise with a healthy diet. One of the best methods for sticking to that healthy diet is tracking what you eat.

Fortunately, the advent of personal computers and mobile devices has made this process far less time-consuming. Online programs such as WW (formerly Weight Watchers), Noom, Lose It!, and

MyFitnessPal all make calorie counting simple. Many weight loss programs also offer individual coaching and small group support to keep you on track on those days when binge-watching “Parks and Rec” with a bag of chips sounds far more appealing than aerobics and carrot sticks.

It’s worth noting that most of these programs offer a free trial period so you can see if it’s a good fit before you commit. Some are entirely free as well.

3. Keep a Gratitude Journal

Mindfulness matters when it comes to weight loss. Even if you’re not writing about food, adopting a mindset that’s firmly rooted in the present and focused on all that you have to be thankful for in these trying times can help you lose weight.

How? By lowering your stress.

According to WebMD, when you’re stressed, you’re more likely to skip that healthy breakfast or reach for that peach pie in the fridge. What’s more, your cortisol levels can skyrocket when you’re tense. This can turn your late-night sundae party into a full-time habit, as well as send your insulin levels through the roof.

When that happens, your blood sugar plummets. The result? Even more sugar cravings. Starting or ending each day by focusing on the good in your life can keep your stress in check and boost your odds of successful weight loss.

You’re living through a unique time in history — not a fun one, of course, but a remarkable one — and you’re certainly not the only person who let healthy, mindful eating take a backseat to just making it to tomorrow in once piece. Now that you’re ready to come out of quarantine healthy, fit and fresh, make the choice to embrace an active, mindful lockdown routine and watch the unwanted weight disappear.

Try These 3 Amazing Foods That Lower Your BP

lower blood pressure

1. Salmon

Salmon is a true heart health superstar. This tasty fish is packed with omega-3 fatty acids, special compounds with incredible benefits for your entire circulatory system. Many studies show that omega-3s can reduce triglyceride levels, keep your arteries healthy, prevent blood clots and fight inflammation. Even better, they can cause a significant drop in blood pressure!

To give your diet a delicious boost of BP-fighting omega-3s, bake or grill salmon fillets with your favorite herbs:

  1. Season the salmon fillets with thyme, oregano or garlic (or all three).

  2. Place each portion in parchment paper or foil.

  3. Sprinkle a dash of lemon juice and drizzle some olive oil on top.

  4. Fold parchment or foil and place in a preheated oven.

  5. Bake salmon for 12-15 minutes at 450 degrees Fahrenheit.

Salmon isn’t the only fish that has omega-3s, but it’s one of the best sources. You can also try mackerel, arctic char, black cod, rainbow trout and albacore tuna. Anchovies and sardines are spectacular for omega-3s, but you need to get them fresh, not canned. Omega-3 oils made from fresh fish are also an option.

2. Garlic

Including more garlic in your meals has two big benefits for blood pressure. First, garlic can make your arteries open wider, improving blood flow and getting rid of hypertension. The easier it is for your heart to pump blood, the less it has to work.

Second, garlic is a natural flavor enhancer. If you’re trying to reduce your salt intake, garlic makes a great replacement. That way you can eat healthy and still enjoy meals that taste amazing.

The next time you feel like something sweet and zesty, make honey-garlic chicken. Use skinless chicken breast, honey, fresh ginger, scallions, low-sodium soy sauce and plenty of garlic. With these tangy and tasty ingredients, you’ll be surprised how flavorful everything is without adding salt!

3. Spinach

Say goodbye to high blood pressure for good with the power of spinach. Leafy greens are a phenomenal source of potassium. In fact, fresh spinach gives you more potassium than bananas. Why is that important for BP?

Potassium is the enemy of sodium. By increasing the amount of potassium you get every day, it flushes excess salt from your system. This can drastically reduce blood pressure.

In addition to these BP benefits, spinach contains a ton of nutrients. It’s rich in vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin D, vitamin K, calcium and magnesium. Spinach can give you stronger bones, better eyesight and a healthier immune system.

Not a fan of spinach? That’s OK. There are other leafy greens you can try instead. Sauteed or steamed broccoli makes the perfect complement to any meal. For a delicious salad, toss together romaine lettuce, arugula, Swiss chard and beet greens with a vinaigrette made of olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

The Key To Lowering BP With Nutritious Foods

Lowering your blood pressure is all about eating less salt and unhealthy fats. There are lots of delicious foods that can help, such as fresh blueberries, low-fat Greek yogurt, whole-grain oatmeal and unsalted pistachios. Once you've got a healthy meal plan, you’re good to go!

How to Improve your Cholesterol to Reduce your Risk of Heart Disease

How to improve your cholesterol

If you’re wondering how to improve your cholesterol, your health care provider has probably told you your “numbers” are abnormal. This generally means your total cholesterol is too high, your HDL (good) cholesterol is too low, your LDL (bad) cholesterol is too high, or your triglycerides are too high. (More than one of your cholesterol numbers could be abnormal.) Continue reading “How to Improve your Cholesterol to Reduce your Risk of Heart Disease”