My sweet SugaVida is your new sugar alternative

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Refined white sugar is a cruel mistress. She pulls you in with sweet claims and leaves you with toxic results.

Try making the switch to SugaVida ($14 for 8.8 ounces), a new sugar alternative that is organically certified and is now rolling out in stores across the country and online.

Even though this sweetie is showing up to the party with a new name, it’s been around for a long time. You might know SugaVida as jaggery, which is often used in Southern and East India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Indonesia and several African countries. Derived from the sap of the palmyra palm tree, SugaVida is harvested sustainably (without cutting down trees) in Southeast India while supporting local producers and biodiversity in farming communities.

Test out SugaVida with the yummy gluten-free clementine almond muffin recipe below.

SugaVida has a low glycemic index, doesn’t raise blood insulin, and is a plant-based source of the hard-to-get vitamin B-12 along with calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc, sodium and phosphorus. The flavor brings to mind a mild caramel with a slight nutty kick. It’s a great alternative to stevia, which can leave a bitter aftertaste, and is more neutral tasting than coconut sugar. Plus SugaVida can be used in both cold and hot drinks and for baking.

New studies are even claiming that it has anti-inflammatory and anti-arthritic effects and can reduce blood cholesterol levels. But don’t take that as a sign to go buck wild, remember this is still a sweetener. We’re for moderation in all things (except for vegetables).

Gluten-Free Clementine
Almond Muffins



 Makes 12 small muffins
1 cup + 1 tablespoon organic butter
¾ cup of SugaVida
4 organic eggs
Zest of 2 organic clementines and juice of one organic clementine
2 cups ground organic almonds
½ cup organic gluten-free flour
½ teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon mixed spice

1. Heat the oven to 350F degrees.
2. In a bowl beat the SugaVida and butter together until light. Slowly add the eggs one at a time until well mixed. Add the zest and juice and gently fold in the rest of the ingredients to make a smooth batter.
3. Pour into muffin wrappers and bake for 30 minutes or until a knife comes out clean.

Note: Make this recipe grain-free by omitting the flour and adding ½ cup more of ground organic almonds.

It’s a date Deliciously Ella goes beyond the blog with a new book

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For Ella Woodward, simplicity reigns.

This means a plant-based diet free from gluten, dairy, refined sugars and anything processed. The lifestyle choice for the author of the new Deliciously Ella: 100+ Easy, Healthy, and Delicious Plant-Based, Gluten-Free Recipes ($20) isn’t just a aesthetically driven one, but rather a commitment driven by some very real medical concerns.

When she was 19 years old, Ella was diagnosed with Postural Tachycardia Syndrome, a rare illness that left her bed-ridden 95 percent of the time.

Ella calls herself a former “sugar monster.” Out went a diet that revolved around pints of Ben and Jerry’s cookie dough ice cream and spoonfuls of Nutella. In came the motivation to start a food blog and develop new recipes like sweet potato brownies, butternut squash risotto and quinoa and turmeric fritters.

As Ella’s diet stabilized, so did her symptoms—the blackouts, heart palpitations, unbearable stomach issues, chronic pain and constant headaches were gone and she was able to go off her medication completely.

Ella Woodward, self-proclaimed former “sugar monster” turned Britain’s “new Nigella”.

Ella’s blog, which chronicled her experiments, earned her the title Britan’s “new Nigella” and quickly grew into a popular app and now this vibrant book filled with vivid recipes.

We were struck by one recipe that’s so simple it’s hardly a recipe at all—just a very, very good suggestion. Take portly Medjool dates, pry them open, stuff their bellies with almond butter and a dusting of raw cacao powder. (Attempt to) wait an hour while they chill in the fridge. As Ella says, “This may not be the most complicated recipe in the book, in fact it may well be the simplest, but that doesn’t mean it’s not the best! It’s sweet and satisfying and oh-so-delicious. The caramel-like dates complement the creamy almond butter so well—it’s a match made in heaven.”

Medjool Dates Stuffed with Nut Butter

 

Makes 12 dates

12 Medjool dates
12 teaspoons organic nut butter (Ella recommends almond butter)
Optional: a sprinkling of organic raw cacao powder

1. Peel the dates open, without totally cutting them in half, and remove the pits.
2. Place a small teaspoon of organic nut butter and a sprinkling of organic raw cacao powder where the pit was and push the 2 halves of the date together again.
3. Place the stuffed dates in the fridge to firm up for about an hour and then enjoy.

Drip drop Why you need Honeydrop by your side this winter

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David Luks, the CEO and founder of Honeydrop, has upgraded everyone’s mom’s secret weapon (a spoonful of honey in your tea, that is).

His cold-pressed juice business was inspired in the wake of a cancer diagnosis. He says, “I was inspired by a nutritionist who told me to consume less processed foods such as white bread, white rice and white sugar. She told me pure raw honey is unrefined, never heated, and thus naturally contains vitamins, minerals and antioxidants and most importantly, does not spike your blood sugar as fast as highly refined sweeteners.”

Think of the antimicrobial manuka honey as nature’s antibiotic.

Honeydrop specifically uses New Zealand Manuka Honey, which is packed with methylglyoxal, a powerful compound that can fight infections. “We source Manuka Honey with a 12+ Unique Manuka Factor (UMF),” he says. “The UMF measure is the standard way of describing the bacteria-killing power of the product.” Think of the antimicrobial Manuka honey as nature’s antibiotic.

When you drink a refreshing Apple Ginger Lemon Daily Immunity Honeydrop ($7; find a store near you here or order online), you not are only consuming two cold- pressed Fuji apples, one lemon, an ounce of ginger and a tablespoon of Manuka Honey, you are also supporting the company’s “Buy A Bottle, Save a Bee” initiative to fight Colony Collapse Disorder. A percentage of proceeds from every bottle of Honeydrop is donated to local beekeepers to build new beehives.

Mom always had it right. Now Honeydrop does, too.

Know more about Colony Collapse Disorder

Follow the rules This celebrity wellness pro has the prescription you need

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We’d love to have a sit-down with Dr. Frank Lipman and ask him, “Hey doc, what can I do to improve my health?” But since Lipman is a bit busy attending to his wellness-focused clients, which include Gwyneth Paltrow and Arianna Huffington, we have the next best thing: his new book, The New Health Rules: Simple Changes to Achieve Whole- Body Wellness ($20).

The book is like peeking into Lipman’s personal playbook of integrative health mantras. The 175 actionable, bite-size tips (each accompanied by a stunning photo) provide practical and simple answers in an ever-growing morass of confusing health advice.

Since we are always thinking about our next meal, we got Lipman to tell us three of his best food-focused tips.

Dr. lipman shares his personal playbook of integrative health mantras.

1. Eat the yolk: No more egg-white omelet nonsense! Let Lipman put the cholesterol myth to bed once and for all. He says: “Contrary to popular belief, the cholesterol you eat has virtually no impact on the cholesterol level of your blood. It’s sugar and carbs that trigger production of bad cholesterol in your body.”

2. Caffeine can have a half-life of seven hours: We are going to have to rethink our afternoon coffee dates after reading Lipman’s manifesto that, “At the very least, you should never consume caffeine after 1:00 p.m. If you are struggling with insomnia or intense stress, eliminating caffeine can make a huge difference.”

3. Think of dairy as a condiment: Although we were taught as children to consume massive amounts of dairy for strong bones, we need to reconsider our intake as adults. Lipman says, “Most adults can’t process cow’s milk. Keep servings to a dollop, max. You can get all the calcium you need from dark-green, leafy vegetables like kale and spinach, without stressing your gut.” Seek out raw cheeses made from sheep, goat and buffalo’s milk, instead of commercial cow-based products.

Buy the book

Digital revolution Three new must-have apps for clean eating

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We’ve taken a tip from the Girl Scouts (their motto that is, not the cookies) when it comes to eating better: “Be Prepared.”

That means we consider it our duty to be armed with a stainless steel water bottle and a bag with a couple of tasty snacks thrown in. Recently, we’ve included our phones in our ongoing healthier eating quest with three wonderful apps.

Clean Plates Healthy Restaurant Guide
(New York and Los Angeles, with more cities coming soon.)
Yes, this is a shameless plug, but if you’ve used our free iOS app in the past, get ready to have your mind blown by version 2.0. We’ve given it a makeover with a totally new interface and our list of Top 100 most highly rated, Clean Plates-approved restaurants in NYC and LA. Our nifty geo-location tool means you can easily find restaurants near where you are at any given moment and search by location, cuisine type, cost and dietary preferences including: Clean Meats, Clean Fish, Vegetarian Friendly, Gluten-Free and Clean Desserts. You can even add restaurants to our “My List” feature so you’ll always have a gameplan for new places you want to check out.

Pair up the clean plates and ROC apps for a clean eating, socially responsible dining option power search.

ROC National Diners’ Guide
If you care about where your food comes from and how it was raised or grown, you should also care about who is making your food. This free guide for iPhone or Android from Restaurant Opportunities Center United provides information on the wage and benefit practices of the 150 most popular restaurants in America, while listing responsible picks in major cities across the U.S. That kale salad tastes better when it’s made by a chef who’s provided with paid sick days and served by a waiter who makes a living wage.

James Beard Foundation Vegetables: Recipes by JBF Award–Winning Chefs
Download this app for iPhone or Android (5 recipes free; $3.99 for full access; free to JBF members) and it will be like you’ve got a private chef (take your pick from Thomas Keller, Alice Waters and others) in your home kitchen. Recipes like seared fennel with fennel purée, swiss chard ribs and beet salad with mango, feta, orange and mint are demonstrated in step-by-step high-definition photos and short videos. The app can even email you a complete shopping list or suggest needed cooking gear.

 

Herbs fully loaded A reference book worth a thousand Google searches

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Our shelves are practically buckling under the weight of cookbooks. But our reference library could use a refresh.

We’ve recently been taken with Stepehn Orr’s The New Amercian Herbal ($27.50).

With 900 entries on every herb we’ve ever heard of (plus plenty we haven’t) and dozens of herb-centric recipes, it’s a newly indispensable tome on our table.

Orr lays out the alphabet of herbs (agrimony to yarrow) and describes herb families, herb-drying techniques and fun new words to use like “demulcents,” a class of herbs (including coltsfoot, horehound, licorice, marshmallow, mullein and oats) that coat and lubricate inflamed throat tissues. Plus, the stunningly lush photographs are a reminder that spring surely will come.

Stephen Orr opens your eyes to herbs you didn’t even know you needed. 

The book introduced us to a new Persian dish that we are wild about: Panir Sabzi, a platter of herbs and feta that truly equals more than the sum of its parts. Orr says, “I admire its simplicity: just handfuls of various green herbs combined with cheese, nuts, and radishes and, rather surprisingly, no dressing. It truly is an appetizer as it seems to wake up the senses and digestion for whatever main course is coming.”

Serve the salad with sprouted flatbread and dig in using your hands to pluck a customized mix of herbal flavors.

  Serves 4 to 6 as an appetizer

1 small bunch fresh mint
1 small bunch fresh tarragon
1 small bunch fresh parsley
1 small bunch fresh cilantro
1 small bunch fresh basil
4 scallions, trimmed of roots and any damaged leaf tops
4 to 6 small radishes, topped and tailed
1 cup walnuts
¾ pound feta cheese

1. Remove any damaged leaves or tough stems from the herbs and place them in groups in a salad spinner to rinse and dry them thoroughly. Set aside.

2. Wash the scallions and quarter them lengthwise. Wash the radishes and cut them in half. Dry ­roast the walnuts in a skillet until they are lightly brown. Slice the feta into 1⁄4­ inch slices.

3. Arrange each type of herb on a large flat platter, add groups of scallion, walnuts, radishes, and cheese, and serve. Everyone should eat with their hands, grabbing the cheese, vegetables and nuts and using the herb leaves to wrap them in tidy bundles.

 

Buy the book

Flower power Cook up a cruciferous vegetarian steak

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We’re equal-opportunity eaters.

We see no reason a piece of vitamin C-rich and fiber-filled cauliflower can’t be a big, fat and juicy as a resplendent grass-fed steak.

Good thing chefs around the country agree with us. Meet the cauliflower steak: A full head of cauliflower, core intact, sliced from top to bottom and temptingly seared and caramelized. It deserves to be the centerpiece of your table, as much as any piece of meat.

At New York’s new Café Clover, executive chef David Standridge serves golden-brown steaks with fresh greens, a chutney of pickled cauliflower and herbs, a cauliflower puree (simply made with water, cauliflower and a touch of cream) and a sauce made of piquillo peppers, garlic, almonds, sherry vinegar and olive oil. “My inspiration was to create a vegetable-centric entree that a pork loving chef, like myself, is fully satisfied by,” he says.

Superba Snack Bar’s cauliflower steak comes with edible flowers, a parsley puree, crispy horseradish and dill.

At Brooklyn’s Eugene & Co, the pan-seared vegetable incorporates cumin, coriander and paprika and is finished off with carrot ribbons, feta and toasted cashews. Park Avenue Winter serves their T-bone with black rice and goat cheese, while Kin Shop puts a Thai twist on theirs with a Siamese green curry with Szechuan peppercorn tempura, kabocha squash and turnips.

Across the country, LA’s Superba Snack Bar has been rocking the trend since 2012, but is changing things up with a new plating with edible flowers, a parsley puree, crispy horseradish and dill.

Thankfully, this is a preparation that is not just for the pros, chef Standridge tell us. “The technique is very simple and something that anyone can easily replicate at home.”

Follow his instructions for your new favorite non-steak steak:

1. Trim a whole head of cauliflower of its leaves and then cut into steaks 1 to 2 inches thick. The best way to do this is to trim from the outside until you can see that the stem is holding the steak together. That will give you an idea of where to cut.

2. Once you have a nice thick piece, it’s just a matter of heating olive oil in a pan until hot and getting a nice golden brown sear on each side.

The health benefits of cauliflower.

Hybrid happy When kale meets Brussels sprouts

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Dearly beloved readers, we are gathered here today to witness the union of kale and Brussels sprouts in holy matrimony. Into the cruciferous kingdom these two wonderful vegetables come now to be joined in hybridization, to be henceforth known as “kalettes” and we will all get to eat happily ever after.

The rumors are true: Brussels sprouts and kale have joined their sweet forces into a new hybrid called the “kalettes” which combines the best flavors of each vegetable and offers a sweet and nutty result. The taste is milder than Brussels sprouts and the texture is more tender than kale, but this vegetable mash-up is still rich in vitamins C and K and contains double the amount of vitamin B6 than traditional sprouts.

Frilly-leaved kalettes are quickly making their presence known nationwide: Keep your eyes peeled for this purple and green wonder vegetable at Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, Kroger, Costco and other retailers around the country. You can also look for kalettes marketed under the names “BrusselKale” and “Lollipops Kale Sprouts”. You can even get your hands on kalette seeds for your garden here.

Kalettes makes for a great boost of color and nutrition.

Whatever you call them, we like them roasted in the oven at 475° for 10 minutes, simply sautéed in a skillet with some olive oil or chopped finely and mixed with apple cider vinegar into a raw kalette salad.

This blessed union is also a great reason for a refresher on the difference between GMOs and hybrids.

Tozer Seeds, the largest family-owned vegetable seed company in England, hybridized the kalette by cross-pollinating Brussels sprouts with kale (which belong to the same plant species – brassica oleracea), through self-pollination, and then cross-pollinating the parent lines using insects (something that could happen in the wild). On the other hand, genetically modified foods (GMOs) are derived from organisms whose DNA has been tampered with in an unnatural way, for example through the gene splicing or crossing different biological kingdoms.

Got it? Then what are you waiting for? Go get some kalettes!

Recipes with kalettes

Coffee 2.0 Should you try to turbocharge your coffee?

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Coffee purists, take a deep breath. What we are about to suggest you do to your morning joe is anathema to all that you hold dear.

Step one: Brew 8 ounces of your favorite coffee. Step two: Take 1 to 2 tablespoons of unsalted grass-fed butter and 1 to 2 tablespoons coconut oil and blend them into the coffee using a blender at high speed for 10 to 20 seconds or until foamy.

The recipe above is Bulletproof Coffee, a term that has been on a particularly potent rampage of late. The term was coined and popularized by Dave Asprey, a proponent of a Paleo-like diet and a seller of his own Bulletproof-branded products including Brain Octane oil, a medium-chain triglyceride (MCT) oil extracted from coconut and palm kernel oils.

Asprey uses MCT oil instead of coconut oil; supposedly MCT’s, which make up about 15% of butter and coconut oil, are more easily digested than other fats, are used directly as energy similar to carbohydrates and might (emphasis on might) enhance the body’s natural tendency to burn fat.

We recommend using grass-fed butter and coconut oil.

Converts swear that drinking this concoction delivers boundless energy with a sharp focus. The idea is the fat slows the time it takes for your body to metabolize the caffeine, creating a slow energy burn sans caffeine crash, while keeping hunger at bay and spurring weight loss. Although there is no solid scientific research to back up the claims there is plenty of anecdotal evidence.

When we tried it, we felt satiated, loved the creamy flavor and did find that we were completely without the caffeine heebie-jeebies. However, we won’t be ditching our morning hot water with lemon routine or a nourishing fiber-rich breakfast in favor of drinking solely this coffee anytime soon.

If you do decide to play around with your morning cup, know that blending is the linchpin to the whole thing: Plopping a spoonful of coconut oil and butter into your brew won’t cut it. The key is to emulsify all those good fats into a cohesively frothy latte-like whip. We also recommend trying it with grass-fed butter and coconut oil (rather than spending big bucks on MCT oil) given that you probably already it have stocked in your kitchen and the coconut oil provides more beneficial fats than processed MCT oil.

And let us know how it goes on Twitter or Facebook. We’d love to know what you brewed up!

It’s all good Reboot your eating habits with this must-have cookbook

Photo Credit: Michael Harlan Turkell

We’ve had it with half-hearted resolutions. This year, we’re going for the full reboot and taking our cues from A Good Food Day: Reboot Your Health with Food That Tastes Great ($30).

Taking healthy eating advice from Marco Canora of Manhattan’s Hearth, a chef who cops to “crazy hours and even crazier eating habits” and who formerly fueled his body with “the questionable trinity of coffee, bread and cigarettes” might seem counterintuitive. Instead, it’s refreshing.

Canora has been there, done that, or as he says, “I was a champ at treating my body like a piece of #%@* … until my body started to stage a revolt.” Thirty pounds of excess weight, sleep apnea and thyroid dysfunction kicked this chef into action and propelled him into finding a healthier lifestyle that was also delicious.

In his new cookbook, Canora teams up with certified health coach Tammy Walker to showcase 125 good-for-you recipes that you actually want to eat.

“A good food day … it’s about eating super delicious food with a clear direction toward better health.” — Chef Marco Canora Photo credit: Michael Harlan Turkell

This winter we’ll be making bowl after bowl of his Dandelion Salad* with Hard-Boiled Egg. The eggs create a rich coating that mutes the bitterness of the greens, while olive oil steps in to make the fat-soluble nutrients in the greens more easily absorbed. It’s the perfect hearty winter green swap for anyone sick of kale and the dandelion greens do an ace detoxing job for those overtaxed livers.

And if you are in New York City, stop by Canora’s new bone broth window, Brodo, which sells hot and nourishing bone broths made with grass-fed beef bones, organic chicken and turkey.

We’re taking Canora’s loud-and-clear sentiment into the new year with us, “A good food day isn’t about patting yourself begrudgingly on the back for eating the way you’re ‘supposed to;’ it’s about eating super delicious food with a clear direction toward better health.”

  Serves 4 to 6

2 bunches dandelion greens, thick stems removed,

cut into 2-inch pieces (about 6 cups)

(*CP Note: If you can’t find or aren’t fond of dandelion greens this salad works wonderfully using tender greens such as spinach or arugula or try a mix of greens for varied flavor and nutrients.)

4 hard-boiled eggs, chopped

½ medium red onion, thinly sliced

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Crumbled croutons or toasted breadcrumbs (optional)

Put all the ingredients (except the croutons, if using) in a large salad bowl and really get in there with your hands to thoroughly mix everything so the egg yolks break down and coat the greens. Sprinkle with croutons or toasted breadcrumbs, if you like.
Order a copy.