Gooey Paleo Snickerdoodles!

Growing up, I used to go to this amazing hole-in-the-wall restaurant that was mexican food AND chinese food combined (think jade red chicken quesadilla with white rice and beans) and it was glorious. It sounds weird. It probably is weird. It is amazing though and until you experience it, you have not lived. Anyway, they would serve your food to you with warm snickerdoodle cookies that were perfectly crunchy on the outside and gooey on the inside. My heart adores snickerdoodles, but it' been a hot minute since I've indulged in one.

Until yesterday.

All I wanted was a snickerdoodle so I set out in the kitchen to make it happen and make it happen, I did. 

I won't promise you these will taste exactly like the white sugar-laden cookies of my childhood, but they're darn close and super delicous! They're also super simple to make; I'm not about that sifting, separating, and whispering sweet nothings to the batter, so go make these now! Enjoy!

Gooey Paleo Snickerdoodles

Ingredients
2 c. + 2 T blanched almond flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 c raw honey
2 pastured eggs
3 T coconut sugar
2 tsp ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. In a medium sized bowl, use a wooden spoon to mix dry ingredients until well incorporated. Add vanilla, honey, and eggs and mix well. The dough will be super sticky! Using a cookie scoop, measure out round balls of the sticky dough and roll in cinnamon sugar mix. Gently press the dough down slightly. Bake at 350 degrees for 9-12 minutes or until edges are golden brown. Allow to cool for a few minutes then serve warm! Store leftovers (as if!) in an airtight container in the refrigerator. 


If you make these, share a picture with me!

XO,

Cameo

How to Shop for Real Food

Well, hello there! I promise one day I'll become a blogging connoisseur, but for now I'll focus on simply delivering quality content! Today we're talking about one of my favorite topics - grocery shopping! I actually love a good grocery shopping trip, but didn't always used to. It can be frustrating when everything is so confusing on what's healthy and what's marketing so let's dive into that a bit and talk about all things REAL FOOD.

1. CHOOSE YOUR STORE

As a certified nutritionist, I can tell you that I've never once done my weekly grocery shopping at Whole Foods. You don't need a health store to find healthy food! You can find budget friendly, quality items at stores like Costco, Sprouts, Natural Grocers, Kroger, Publix, Aldi, or Safeway! My personal favorites are Costco and Sprouts! It's also important to add that supporting your local agriculture is vital to your health and your community's economy! Search your area for local ranches and farms, or hit up your local farmer's market or CSA for produce.

Whatever store you have locally is a great place to start. You can find quality products almost anywhere if you know what to look for, so let's start with that!

2. WATCH FOR SNEAKY MARKETING

Food marketing can be so hard to navigate. I have so much passion around this subject, I soon hope to write an entire book about it, but we'll start simple today! If your food has a label, it has some sort of marketing. Remember, marketing doesn't have to be obvious for it to work; in fact, subliminal messages can be received better by the consumer. 

Animal Products: Cage free, organic, natural, vegetarian fed, USDA Choice, antibiotic-free, etc. I'm sure you recognize these words from purchasing beef, chicken, pork, and eggs. So what's actually worth the extra money? Well, very little of it, actually. When it comes to beef, our very best option is grass-fed/grass-finished beef which has the best omega 3:6 ratio, is higher in vitamins, and contains cancer fighting CLA. If your label says "organic", but NOT grass-fed, it simply means your beef was fed organic grain feed. The problem is, the feed often given to cattle isn't that of it's natural diet, and contains corn, soy, and other by-products we want to avoid. Remember, you are what your food eats!

Chicken and eggs are also heavily marketed with things we actually want to avoid. You might find the words "cage free, vegetarian fed" on your chicken or eggs, but this isn't what it's made out to be. Cage free doesn't mean they're let out to pasture or that they have any outdoor space at all. Free range follows closely behind it, with very little outdoor space. The word we want to look for is pastured, meaning they have open, free, and constant access to the outdoors. Why does that matter? If you're an animal lover, you can value the welfare of chickens in their natural habitat but even if you're not, pastured chickens are the healthiest chickens! They are free to roam and absorb nutrients like Vitamin D and consume their natural diet which isn't the vegetarian feed touted on the labels. Pastured chickens love to eat bugs and worms which keeps them healthy and in turn, provides quality eggs. Pastured eggs have 2/3 more Vitamin A, 2x heart-healthy Omega 3, 3x more Vitamin E, 7x beta-carotene, and 4-6x more Vitamin D than conventional eggs. You can visually SEE the difference by cracking open a pastured egg next to a conventional egg. The color of the yolk and the taste will show you the difference! You can see where your favorite brand lands here.

Produce: Do we choose organic or non-organic? That's a great question. The organic movement is still fairly new. Up until the shift in agriculture in the early 1900s, most food was organic and sourced from the farmer so this new world of organic, non-GMO food is still being explored in both science and health. So what does YOUR family do? You make the best choice you believe in. Personally, in our home, I choose primarily organic as to ensure we live the most toxic free life as possible. That's where my personal values and convictions lie, but you can decide differently. Ultimately, if you're filling your cart with a wide array of vegetables, organic or not, I'm happy! If you're on the fence, my rule of thumb is to choose organic if I eat the skin. You can also follow along the guidelines of the EWG's Clean 15 and Dirty Dozen.

Products: Here is where marketing gets all sorts of tricky! While the labeling on products in grocery store aisles, IS regulated by the FDA, it doesn't mean it has your best interest at heart. So we're going to completely ignore the front of the packaging and it's claims about heart health, low-sugar, or being "clean". Flip that product over then skip the nutrition panel. What?! Yes, skip it.  We want to look what's in the product. The first thing I look for is sugar, including artificial sweeteners that don't show up on the nutrition panel (which is why we ignore that!). There are over 60(!) names of sugar with more hitting the market all the time. Learn the names of sugar and avoid products with this as the first three ingredients or use more than one form of sugar. Also, skip junky crop seed oils (hello, inflammation!) like canola oil, vegetable oil, safflower, or soybean oil which are actually more damaging to your health. If you don't recognize an ingredient, your body won't either. Keep ingredients limited and to things you can understand.

3. Save Money

When you begin to pass on processed and choose real food, the sticker shock can be a little hard to swallow. This requires a bit of perspective shift, as food is medicine so you have to see it as an investment in your health, family, and legacy. Beyond that, there are some simple ways to save money!

Double Ad Days: Find out if your local grocery store participates in double ad days. Sprouts does Double Ad Wednesdays where the have both the previous week's specials on the same day the current week's specials hit. This gives you a bigger variety of sale options! Just last week, grass fed beef was half off so I stocked up on the same day my favorite eggs were on sale! This is my favorite way to save money.

Skip specialty products: It's tempting to go buy all the newest protein bars, snacks, sauces, and dressings but if you're on a budget, simply skip these items. You can easily make sauces and dressings for cheaper at home, and snack on real food items like hard boiled eggs, vegetables, and snack-sized protein like chicken or burger patties. Keep your spending to protein and vegetables and you'll have everything you need to succeed!

Clean 15 and Dirty Dozen: If you can't afford all organic but want to include some, stick the Clean 15 and Dirty Dozen that we talked about above so you're getting the best bang for your buck!


If you're local to the Denver-metro area, I do grocery store tours! I'll tag along on your weekly grocery shopping trip and help you purchase the best products for you and your family. You can schedule that filling out the contact form!

If you have questions about anything we talked about, leave a comment! I could talk all day about quality product and food marketing and I'm happy to help.

Be well,

Cam

Buffalo Chicken & Sweet Potato Skillet (Paleo & Whole30!)

I have a confession. I used to not like buffalo chicken. I know, I know! I had only ever tried buffalo chicken dip, covered in cheese and served with tortilla chips and did not like it at all, but when my husband recommended I create a buffalo chicken dinner, I gave it a shot. Thank goodness, because I. am. obsessed. Without all the junky additives of some buffalo sauces, melted cheese, and doused in canola oil ranch, the true flavors of it totally shine through!

This is the perfect dish to share at parties, on Superbowl Sunday, or to whip up for dinner on a weeknight! I used the Primal Kitchen Ranch with it and it adds the perfect touch, but without the refined vegetable oils, sugar, and preservatives of traditional ranch. Seriously, make this, pour ranch all over it, and enjoy life.


BUFFALO CHICKEN &
SWEET POTATO SKILLET
 

GATHER //
2 T coconut oil
3 chicken breasts, or about 1 lb
1 large sweet potato
½ tsp black pepper
½ tsp garlic powder
¼ tsp sea salt
¼ tsp paprika
⅓ c hot sauce (I used Franks)
3 T grass fed butter or ghee
Green onions, sliced thinly for garnish
Primal Kitchen Ranch Dressing for garnish

CREATE //
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Dice chicken breasts into small cubes, about 1” pieces, and set aside.
3. Peel and dice sweet potato into small cubes, about ½” pieces, and set aside.
4. On medium-high heat, melt coconut oil in cast-iron skillet, swirling to coat entire pan. 
5. When pan is hot, add chicken and allow to sear until they easily lift from pan. Turn chicken pieces and sear other side.
6. Add sweet potato and seasonings, stirring to coat evenly, and place in oven for 20 minutes.
7. While the chicken is cooking, combine hot sauce and ghee in small sauce pan, whisking to incorporate. Allow to simmer on medium-low heat.
8. After the 20 minutes, remove chicken and potatoes from oven and pour buffalo sauce, stirring to coat evenly. Return the skillet to oven for 5-10 minutes or until sweet potatoes are fork tender.
9. Remove from oven and garnish with sliced green onions and ranch dressing. Serve with greens for a more complete meal.


Want to win the entire Whole30 Kit, including this ranch? Head over to my Instagram to enter the giveaway! You can find me at @_lemonandfig.

Be well,

Cameo

All In Moderation: Three Reasons Why It Doesn't Work

One of the biggest pieces of mainstream nutritional advice is "all in moderation" or "it's all about balance". We tout moderation and balance as if they're the cure to our health woes and if you could just get yourself under control, just eat a little bit less you will be fine. Unfortunately, it doesn't quite work like that. Here's why.

 

1. We can't self-moderate. A study released last spring shows that people tend to define "moderation" by their terms and not a smaller set amount. The more a person favored the particular food they consumed, the more they justified their intake and reported they ate a moderate amount, even if they overconsumed. So while health and nutrition professionals tout "everything in moderation", we're leaving out what that actually means, and setting the public up for failure.

"The message to ‘eat unhealthy foods in moderation’ provides a standard for eating behavior, but based on our supported hypotheses, we suggest that this message is a poor standard. First, the message is ambiguous, allowing people to broadly interpret what is moderate onsumption (Leone et al., 2007). Second, as shown in Study 3, whendefining moderation, people look to their own consumption and tend to rate moderate consumption as greater than their own consumption. In this way, definitions of moderation may play a self-serving role in justifying both chronic overconsumption and temporary indulgences. If, as we show, the concept of moderation is poorly understood and subject to potential self-serving biases in perception, moderation messages may do little to reduce caloric intake and may actually result in increased food consumption."

2. Moderated junk is still junk. Our nation is completely hooked on sugar, which we know affects the brain the same way some drugs do, and yet we continue to tell you to enjoy it in moderation. For the same reason I wouldn't tell an alcoholic to consume their vice in "moderation", I wouldn't tell someone who is addicted to sugar to enjoy "just a little bit", yet we continue to because breaking up with sugar is thought of as too hard. Sugar is still sugar, a doughnut is still a doughnut, and brownies are still brownies, even when consumed sometimes and not all the time. When we consume processed and refined carbohydrates and sugar, our body still gets hit with the gut disruption, the blood sugar spike and drop, and if you have food intolerances, you'll still get the reaction; even more importantly, you're still feeding your brain's addiction to sugarWe are under the impression that a little junk is NOT JUNK. Unfortunately, it is, and it still affects your body, and mind, in the same way.

3. You're an abstainer. In Gretchen Rubin's book, she talks about two types of people: moderators and abstainers. Moderators tend to not do well with the "never" approach and instead lessen their desire for something if they can have small amounts of it every so often. Conversely, abstainers do well with the all-or-nothing approach. If it's off the table, it's off the table. I'm an abstainer. I'd rather go completely without than battle the back and forth thought process of "do I need this?", "how much should I have?", "when can I have this again and still be 'moderate'"? The opposite is true of my husband, who is a great moderator. He can have one or two cookies and not care for any more for an extended amount of time. When I asked him what makes him a moderator he said, "Once I satisfy the craving, I don't need to continue satisfying it even if it's something I really like". Once he has the reward his brain is seeking, it no longer continues asking. I don't believe abstainers or moderators are more or less healthy than each other, but instead need to find how their tendency works for them to achieve health. For both moderators and abstainers, it's still important to eventually diminish chronic consumption of processed carbohydrates and refined sugars - the less we consume, the less we'll want, and the healthier we will be long-term.

"Research - and my own experience - suggests that the less we indulge in something, the less we want it. When we believe that a craving will remain unsatisfied, it may diminish; cravings are more provoked by the possibility than by the denial." - Better Than Before by Gretchen Ruben.

When we finally accept that "all in moderation" isn't the best dietary advice we can give, it empowers us to seek out what truly makes us healthy and pour our efforts and determination to that. What do you think? Are you moderator or abstainer? How do you view "all in moderation"? I'd love your thoughts!

Be well,

Cam

Myth Busting: How to Lose 20 Pounds

Happy New Year! I love when January 1st hits. It's a chance for a fresh start, new beginning, and goal setting. I think resolutions get a bad reputation and in some ways, they're not super beneficial; however. if setting a resolution helps you eat better, move more, and achieve more - even if only for a little - I'm all for it, but let's set healthy resolutions that lead to lasting change. But what is healthy?

Around this time I see more and more health articles, graphics, and blog posts surface around social media and many of them share incorrect information. I found this one which tells how to lose 20 pounds in a month with no exercise. Sound too good to be true? It is. Let's talk about why.

 

Let's go step by step, shall we?

Heading: Losing 20 pounds in one month is not only extremely difficult, but also not sustainable. Unless you have a significant amount of weight to lose, it doesn't come off that fast ever. If you do achieve that, you're setting yourself for the most hungry month of you life and most likely, rapid weight gain. 

DO INSTEAD: Set practical goals for yourself that lead to steady weight loss and healthy habits.

 

Step 1: Not all calories are created equal. A meal rich in nutrient dense fat, quality protein, and a carbohydrate like butternut squash is significantly higher in calories but much better than say, a can of Coke Zero. When we go too low calorie, we drop satiating fat that keeps our energy full for longer, and replace it with artificial sweeteners that throw off our blood sugar and lead us to needing more food (remember, sugar isn't satiating, meaning it doesn't fill you up!). We're then thrown into a roller coaster of eating processed, artificial food and never feeling full. Additionally, 1,100 calories is LOW. Your body needs calories and energy to sustain its processes and brain function. 

DO INSTEAD: Consume as many calories of nutrient dense foods as you want, remembering to stop when you're full. When you are hungry again, eat a snack or meal that's made of quality ingredients like protein, fat, and carbs. 

 

Step 2: When we eat five or six meals a day we're overloading our digestive system and not allowing it to properly digest food and assimilate nutrients. When our digestive system doesn't have a chance to fully break down food before we consume more, we don't break down the food particles small enough and they get pushed through the intestines. When we continually have whole or partial food particles in our intestines, it rubs against the microvilli (or the wall of the intestines) and eventually breaks through and enters our blood stream. This is called leaky gut and contributes to decreased immune function, inflammation, and in some cases, autoimmune.

DO INSTEAD: Eat three meals a day to keep your blood sugar regulated and tummy full.   

 

Step 3: I like fruit! I think it's valuable and a great addition to any meal. We already talked about how you don't need to be low-calorie to reach your weight loss goals, so if you're hungry, grab something or make your meals bigger to avoid the blood sugar roller coaster.

DO INSTEAD: If you want some fruit, combine it with a fat such as coconut butter, almond butter, or sautee it in grass fed butter (hello, warm bananas!).

 

Step 4: Yay for water! I recommend taking your body weight, cutting it in half, and drinking that number in ounces. This keeps your bodily processes moving, hydrated, and it keeps your skin happy! PASS on the non-diet drinks - Diet Coke is still Diet Coke and isn't healthful under any circumstances.

DO INSTEAD: Drink enough water for your body. Get a water bottle you love, add some sliced citrus, keep track on an app - do whatever it takes to ensure you're properly hydrated!

 

Step 5: When we become enslaved to calorie tracking and point counting, we can so easily develop an unhealthy relationship with food where we only see "good vs bad" or ideas such as "I'm allowed to have __________ because I have calories left over". Your body doesn't reset at midnight and neither should your calorie tracker. 

DO INSTEAD: Listen to your body and eat until you're full. Skip the tracking, weighing, and measuring and celebrate your body's intuitive nature to feed itself what it needs. Don't be a slave to My Fitness Pal.

 

Step 6: Please. Hesitate. I am a fan of supplementation but only when under the guidance and instruction from a certified nutritionist or health care professional. Many supplements are not appropriate for those with compromised autoimmunity, those who are on other medications, and women who are pregnant or breastfeeding. There are no supplements that "burn fat". If someone tells you that, they are lying and trying to sell you something. Always check with your healthcare provider before adding in supplements.

DO INSTEAD: Focus on nutrition and appropriate exercise before you head to your medicine cabinet to lose weight. If you don't know what supplements would best benefit you, work with your nutritionist or doctor.

 

Step 7: I agree with this to an extent! I appreciate setting weight loss goals and checking if you've achieved them but true health isn't reflected on a scale but rather how you FEEL. Is your skin clearing up? Is your inflammation lowering? Is your energy high? Focus on these things instead - we call them non scale victories!

DO INSTEAD: Instead of weighing yourself, spend some time at the end of each week writing down victories you had during the week whether they're physical, spiritual, or emotional and see how you progress in true health!

 

Step 8: If you're not consuming enough food and need a multivitamin to support your health, we need to take a hard look at the plan you're on. In many OTC multivitamins, there are synthetic forms of nutrients, fillers, preservatives, sugar, starches, and dyes meaning they'll do far more harm than good. Multivitamins have their place, but it's not in place of real food.

DO INSTEAD: Consume a wide range of colorful fruits and vegetables along with pastured meats to ensure you're getting all the nutrients you need.

If you're on a health journey, I'm so glad! I've been there at the beginning, I've stumbled through the middle, and I'm happy to say I've found my groove. Find a lifestyle that works for you and is sustainable, improving not just your weight but your health and wellbeing long-term.

Questions? Just ask!

 

Be well,

Cameo