kris ulland

Your Nutrition Partner

There are so many approaches to losing weight that taking even the first step can be overwhelming. Low-fat, high carb; high protein; very low carb with high fat and moderate protein; intermittent fasting; low calorie; and all the big name diet solutions like Weight Watchers, Noom, Atkins, Jenny Craig, etc.

There are also thousands of books and thousands upon thousands of experts who have their own approach.

If there was one diet program that worked for everybody, we wouldn’t need so many. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all fix.

Holistic experts agree: Eat Real Food Mindfully!

The problem with dieting is that it works short-term, but not usually long. People get tired of adhering to protocols, they get physically tired because they are eating less calories, and then their brain tells them constantly that they are hungry and willpower eventually evaporates.

Want to lose some weight? Start by keeping a food diary and seeing what you really eat every day. Be honest; this is for your eyes only. This is a good step to learn mindfulness around eating. While you are at it, keep a journal around feelings that come up around eating. (How does it feel to overeat? How does it feel when you eat just the right amount? How does it feel when you under-eat?)

Plan what you will have in your cupboards so that when you are hungry you have a healthy snack available or the ingredients ready for a meal. Make a list for the grocery store planning that you will eat three meals a day with two snacks (if you are hungry).

Buy enough so you can have protein at every meal. Protein promotes satiation and can reduce food intake without the feelings of deprivation. 50-75 grams a day of protein is sufficient. A cup of chickpeas has nearly 40 grams of protein. A 1/4 cup of almonds has 6 grams of protein. It quickly adds up and remember that too much protein isn’t good for you either. Amyloidosis, a build up of protein, can affect the heart, kidneys, liver, spleen, nervous system, stomach or intestines.

High quality fat is not fattening, so do not count fat grams. Chose food-sourced fats like avocado, coconut, nuts and seeds, and olives. Keep coconut oil and olive oil and reduce or remove bottled vegetable oils and salad dressings. They are mostly omega-6 and are inflammation-producing. We want to keep a good ratio of omegas 3 and 6. Too much omega 6 can raise your blood pressure, lead to blood clots that can cause heart attack and stroke, and cause your body to retain water.

On your next trip to buy food, think clean, organic and fresh whenever possible. Start in the produce isle and stock up on greens and fruits and vegetables. (If you don’t eat them before they start to go bad, chop them up and make a stir-fry or freeze them for a soup.)  If you are trying to lose weight you can have UNLIMITED non-starchy veggies – raw, steamed, juiced, make a broth. Starchy root vegetables are okay – parsnip, carrot, sweet potato, celeriac, beet root, jicama, burdock, etc..

Two pieces of fruits a day is good for most people but pay attention to how you feel when you have eaten fruit. If you bloat, try a different fruit or try eating less. Many studies indicate fruit helps in weight loss because of its fiber content.

Focusing on a quality diet works better that counting calories. Eating a whole-foods diet aids in glycemic control and helps to correct insulin and leptin resistance. The primary function of leptin is the regulation of fat stores. A lower sensitivity to leptin leads to many problems, such as food cravings, hunger after meals, poor energy levels, and weight gain (or trouble losing weight). Lower sensitivity to leptin is particularly challenging for people with diabetes and higher levels of insulin. Overeating can lead to too-high blood sugar levels.

A whole-foods diet will also support the thyroid, adrenals and neurotransmitters. A clean diet will lower your toxic burden and curb inflammation (inflammation causes weight gain).

To ensure you have the best digestive function, add fermented foods like lactose-fermented vegetables. Lacto-fermentation is the process by which bacteria breaks down the sugars in foods and forms lactic acid. Lacto-fermented foods include sauerkraut, kimchi, and pickles.

Practice the 10% Solution. Stop eating when you are 90% full. This will ease the digestive process. Overeating, even in lean individuals, induces insulin resistance and leads to impaired insulin signaling. Insulin resistance occurs when your cells stop responding to the hormone insulin. This causes higher insulin and blood sugar levels, potentially leading to type 2 diabetes.

Save 10% for a snack or your next meal. This will help you be more mindful. Ask yourself if you are still hungry? Breath deeply and let your food settle.

Other diet stratagies:

  • Drink some water or herbal tea before eating. Thirst can masquerade as hunger. 37% of all Americans’ thirst mechanism is so weak it is mistaken for hunger. 75% of Americans are chronically dehydrated. Also, one glass of water will shut down midnight hunger pangs.
  • Chew, chew, chew! Chewing your food thoroughly improves digestibility and assimilation. it also moderates allergic responses to foods. Chewing slows down the eating process so your body actually has the time to tell when it is full.
  • Eat sitting down.
  • Enjoy your meal with music, people when that is possible, but not the tv
  • Try not to eat when you are angry (see above – no news on the tv). The parasympathetic nervous system promotes optimal digestion.
  • Design your eating space so that it is not cluttered or distracting.
  • Appreciate the taste and texture as you chew.

There are no magic bullets for weight loss. Your best approach is combine healthy food choices with lifestyle and attitude. Support your goals with metabolism-boosting and blood sugar-balancing nutrients.

  • Chromium – is depleted by sugar intake
  • B Complex – supports wellness
  • Essential Fatty Acids – add nuts and seeds- 1/4 a cup for a snack
  • Green tea – increases fat burning and promotes weight loss
  • Cinnamon – helps you lose visceral fat and supports weight loss. Cinnamon helps lower blood pressure, cholesterol, boosts insulin function and metabolism
  • Bitters: dandelion, gentian root – can promote overall healthy eating habits and control overeating. Consuming bitter foods stimulates the production of PYY and GLP-1 hormones, which help control and suppress the appetite
  • Magnesium – improves insulin sensitivity – try magnesium glycinate 400 mg/day
  • B12 – is often too low with aging or diet or if you take metformin for diabetes – take 250-500 mcg/daily methylcobalamin
  • Vitamin D – improves insulin sensitivity (Have yours checked once a year with a blood test.)

Cinnamon

Cinnamon is a well-know spice with a sweet, woody scent. It is derived from the brown bark of cinnamon trees and native to Sri Lanka. Historical records mentioned cinnamon as early as 2000 B.C., and it is even referenced in Biblical texts.

Spices were so highly revered hundreds of years ago that nations went to war over them. In 1518, the Portuguese invaded the island kingdom of Kotto in Sri Lanka, seizing the cinnamon trade. This caused the kingdom of Kandy to join forces with the Dutch to drive out the Portuguese, giving them control of the cinnamon industry for the next 150 years.

Cinnamon is made by cutting the stems of cinnamon trees. Cinnamon and cassia are the two most common types of cinnamon. Both come from the bark of a plant in the laurel family which can grow up to 30 feet tall, but most farms keep them short and bushy to make harvesting easier. After three years, the bark is peeled from the trees during the rainy season and left to dry and ferment for 24 hours. Then the outer layer of the bark is scraped off, leaving the inner, light-covered bark, which curls into quills as it dries. These rolls are called cinnamon sticks. These sticks can be ground to form cinnamon powder. Removal of the outer bark makes the cinnamon less biting and mellows the aroma.

The distinct smell and flavor of cinnamon are due to the oily part, which is very high in the compound cinnamaldehyde. Scientists believe that this compound is responsible for most of cinnamon’s powerful effects on health and metabolism. Studies show that cinnamaldehyde fights some infections. Cinnamon oil has been shown to effectively treat respiratory tract infections caused by fungi. It can also inhibit the growth of certain bacteria, including Listeria and Salmonella. The antimicrobial effects of cinnamon may also help prevent tooth decay and reduce bad breath.

When researchers tested the effects of just a few drops of cinnamon oil on 3 ounces of refrigerated carrot broth, the growth of the foodborne pathogenic Bacillus cereus was inhibited for 60 days. But the B. cereus flourished in the same amount of carrot broth without the cinnamon, despite refrigeration.

This antimicrobial effect was known to the ancient Egyptians, who used cinnamon in their mummification processes.

A tablespoon of cinnamon provides 4.14 grams of fiber, as well as 33.6 grams of potassium and 1.36 grams of manganese.

Manganese is a trace mineral that acts as a cofactor for enzymatic reactions crucial to development, digestion, reproduction, antioxidant defense, energy production, immune response and regulation of neuronal activities. It also helps promote blood clotting and support the growth of your bones and connective tissues.

Cinnamon is also a component of the antioxidant enzyme superoxide dismutase, which helps neutralize free radicals that can damage cell membranes and DNA. Adequate levels of manganese have been linked to the management of diabetes, epilepsy and even premenstrual syndrome (PMS). Additionally, cinnamon has been used as a coagulant to help reduce bleeding, as well as an insect repellant.

One study found that cinnamon may help reduce blood glucose concentration and enhance insulin sensitivity in normal-weight and obese adults. Numerous human studies have confirmed the anti-diabetic effects of cinnamon, showing that it can lower fasting blood sugar levels by 10–29%

Apart from the beneficial effects on insulin resistance, cinnamon can lower blood sugar by several other mechanisms. First, cinnamon has been shown to decrease the amount of glucose that enters your bloodstream after a meal. It does this by interfering with numerous digestive enzymes, which slows the breakdown of carbohydrates in your digestive tract. Second, a compound in cinnamon can act on cells by mimicking insulin. This greatly improves glucose uptake by your cells, though it acts much slower than insulin itself.

The effective dose of cinnamon is typically 1–6 grams or around 0.5–2 teaspoons of cinnamon per day.

Two compounds found in cinnamon appear to inhibit the buildup of a protein called tau in the brain, which is one of the hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease. In a study in mice with Parkinson’s disease, cinnamon helped protect neurons, normalized neurotransmitter levels and improved motor function.

Scientists also reported that cinnamon could be used as a potent chemopreventive drug in cervical cancer, and may be a promising strategy for cancer prevention. Cinnamon inhibits tumor growth. The report concluded that cinnamon extract induced apoptosis (death) in cervical cancer cells. Cinnamon acts by reducing the growth of cancer cells and the formation of blood vessels in tumors and appears to be toxic to cancer cells, causing cell death.

A study in mice with colon cancer revealed that cinnamon is a potent activator of detoxifying enzymes in the colon, protecting against further cancer growth.

How to Buy

Not all cinnamon is created equal. There are two types: Ceylon cinnamon, produced in Sri Lanka, and cassia cinnamon, coming mainly from China, Vietnam, and Indonesia.

The Cassia variety contains significant amounts of a compound called coumarin, which is believed to be harmful in large doses. All cinnamon have health benefits, but Cassia may cause problems in large doses due to the coumarin content.

Ceylon (“true” cinnamon) is much better in this regard, and studies show that it’s much lower in coumarin than the Cassia variety. True cinnamon is tan in color with a warm, sweet flavor, whereas ground cassia is a reddish brown, usually coarser in texture, with a more bitter, stronger flavor and a more aromatic bouquet.

Unfortunately, most cinnamon found in supermarkets is the cheaper Cassia variety.

 

How to Store

Store powder or quills (sticks) in an airtight container in a cool, dark place. It is best to buy small quantities of ground cinnamon as it quickly becomes stale, losing flavor and aroma. Grind your own from cinnamon quills using a spice or coffee grinder for best flavor or use whole cinnamon quills.

How to Cook

Cinnamon is well-known ingredient in many and baked dishes, but it is also an interesting addition to marinades, beverages,​ and dressings.

In Mexico, cinnamon is added as a flavoring too. Most exclusive liqueurs contain cinnamon, as do various bitters.
Cinnamon oil is pressed from cinnamon and cassia waste-products (usually the outer bark) for use in cosmetics and drugs.

Vegan Gluten-free Cinnamon Rolls

Minimalist Baker/ Photo credit: Minimalist Baker

7

Ingredients

WET

  • 0.75 scant cup unsweetened plain almond milk (or other dairy-free milk)
  • 2 Tbsp organic cane sugar
  • 1 Tbsp vegan butter (Melt or Myoko’s brand or Earth Balance)
  • 1 packet active dry yeast (~2 1/4 tsp -Fleischmann’s active dry original)

DRY

  • 2 cups gluten-free flour blend* (with xanthan gum)
  • 0.75 cup almond flour (not almond meal)
  • 2 Tbsp cane sugar
  • 2.5 tsp baking powder
  • 0.5 tsp sea salt
  • 4 Tbsp cold vegan butter

FILLING

  • 3 Tbsp melted vegan butter
  • 0.67 cup organic brown sugar (light or dark)
  • 1 Tbsp ground cinnamon

TOPPING

  • To create a simple powdered sugar glaze, whisk 3 cups sifted organic powdered sugar with 1 Tbsp (14 g) melted vegan butter and add 1-3 Tbsp dairy-free milk until smooth. (Optional: 1 t vanilla) To thicken, add more powdered sugar. To thin, add more dairy-free milk. Pour onto the rolls after cooling outside of the oven for 10 minutes.

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F  and use vegan butter to lightly coat a standard pie plate or round baking dish. Set aside.
  • Heat dairy-free milk in the microwave or on the stovetop to the temperature of warm bath water – approximately 110 degrees F. (Be careful not to exceed that temperature or it can kill the yeast.)
  • To the dairy-free milk, add the vegan butter and sugar and stir to melt. Then add yeast and stir once more. Set aside (uncovered) to proof for 10 minutes, or until it appears puffy on the surface (this indicates the yeast is activating. If it hasn’t activated at this point, either your yeast was expired or the liquid was too hot or not hot enough).
  • Meanwhile in a medium mixing bowl whisk together gluten free flour blend (including xanthan gum), almond flour, cane sugar, baking powder, and sea salt. Then add cold vegan butter and use a fork or pastry cutter to mix or “cut” into the dry mixture. It should resemble the texture of wet sand.
  • To the dry ingredients, add the almond milk-yeast mixture a little at a time and stir. A dough that resembles moist (not crumbly) cookie dough should form. Add more of the wet mixture as needed. If it gets too wet and tacky (you should be able to form it into a ball when rolled), add more almond flour or GF flour blend. Set aside.
  • Get a large cutting board and wrap with plastic wrap (tuck the wrap down around the edges so it stays in place). (I use waxed sheets.) Then dust the surface of the plastic wrap generously with gluten-free flour.
  • Add the dough in the center of the board and sprinkle with more gluten-free flour. Then top with another sheet of plastic wrap and tuck down around the edges of the cutting board (so it stays in place). Use a rolling pin to roll the dough out into a large, thin rectangle. The dough should be about 1/8th-inch thick.
  • Carefully remove the top layer of plastic wrap and brush on the vegan butter. Then sprinkle with brown sugar and cinnamon and spread gently with fingers to evenly distribute. Then, untuck the bottom layer of plastic wrap from the cutting board and use it to tightly roll the dough lengthwise into a cylinder.
  • Use a serrated knife or floss to cut into 7-8 even rolls. Then carefully transfer to the prepared pie dish or cake pan (they can be fragile to transfer).
  • Cover with plastic wrap and a towel and set on top of the warm oven and let rise for about 30 minutes, or until the rolls have risen slightly and are touching – they won’t get as voluminous as gluten-containing rolls, but they will puff up a bit!
  • Remove towel and plastic wrap and place rolls on the center rack of your oven and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until tops are golden brown and the rolls have risen/expanded quite a bit. While the rolls bake, you can prepare the glaze (optional).
  • Let the rolls cool at least 20 minutes before frosting (optional). Store leftover cinnamon rolls covered at room temperature up to 3-4 days or in the freezer up to 1 month. See notes for make-ahead cinnamon rolls to store in the freezer (unbaked).

NOTES:

You can also make the dough ahead of time to the point of rolling and cutting the dough into rolls – at which point you would transfer them to a parchment-lined baking sheet, freeze, and then place in a freezer-safe bag or container and freeze up to 1 month. Then, when ready to bake, place in a prepare baking dish, cover, and set on top of the oven to thaw for 1 1/2-2 hours. Then heat the oven to 350 degrees F and allow them to continue thawing / rising. Once they’ve thawed and visibly risen, bake for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown and expanded/risen. Glaze as instructed (optional).

 

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