Sugar Challenge and some (healthy) sugar substitutes!

Spring Cleaning--Sugar Challenge!

Starting today, I am beginning a sugar challenge. My buddy, Erin from Well in LA has started the process and I am piggy backing on this escapade! As most of you know, I am 5 months pregnant. It's really easy to fall into the trap of eating poorly when pregnant because, "I'm getting fat anyway, why not indulge?" I truly do think it's fine once in a while, everything in moderation (including moderation!).  BUT, when growing a HUMAN LIFE--now is not the time to eat low-nutrient foods just for kicks. I've been hearing and reading about the way Jessica Simpson was eating during her pregnancy and it makes me want to throw up. Jessica shared, "Kraft mac and cheese with Lawry's seasoning salt is the breakfast for pregnant champions!!!" I couldn't eat that way if I tried! My body would dispute!! It IS difficult when you have certain cravings that are indeed intensifies when pregnant, but I'm here to support you! I'll post tricks, recipes and tips here.

Extreme doesn't work for me!

Many people have the wrong idea that people who consume a diet of exclusively raw foods or vegan are extremists who deprive themselves of all things delicious and decadent, namely sweets and desserts. It can’t be too much fun having a bowl of chopped broccoli for dessert, can it? Some assume that those who insisted that they did not eat sugar were lying, weird, or had no fun eating. After being raw for several months at a time and vegan for years, I now understand completely why people would give up processed sugars and I also understand how we can give it up without sacrificing the fun! Read on to learn about a healthy substitute for sugar, no matter what your needs are-from baking to a sweetening a smoothie.

Sugar-what's the big deal?

sugar

Over the last few years, there has been a worldwide explosion in the prevalence of Type 2 diabetes – the third leading cause of death in the US. Type 2 diabetes occurs where there is sufficient insulin, but when insulin receptors become less sensitive.

This insulin resistance is the common factor in a cluster of cardiovascular disease risk factors known as metabolic syndrome. 20% of adult Americans have it, and it affects up to 40% of those over 60.

Eating sugar shoots our blood sugar levels up and triggers a spike in the hormone insulin, which is needed to prep our cells to absorb the sugar. If there are no other nutrients to sustain our blood sugar level, it crashes as quickly as it rises — and we crave another hit. This is how sugar addiction begins.

Moreover, sugar floods us with pleasure by stimulating the release of the neurotransmitter serotonin, and probably other mood-elevating substances. Scientists report that eating chocolate initiates a brain response similar to falling in love.

And so our brains have learned over time to equate the taste of “sweet” with a rapid infusion of energy and pleasure — a good thing when food was hard-won and life a battle to survive. Even now when we eat sweet foods, special taste buds trigger enzymes that prime our brain to anticipate this extra boost. With a balanced diet and a healthy metabolism, a calorie–control mechanism kicks in after a few minutes to regulate the desire for more food, including the satiety hormone leptin. But with too much sugar, we eat and eat and can’t get satisfied.

Another big difference between prehistoric times and now is that sugar back then came solely from complex natural sources that had other nutritional qualities, such as fruit, honey, bark, and leaves. And because naturally sweet food is seasonal, ripening with the sun in the summer or growing almost exclusively in warm climates, it was relatively rare in past times.

Sugar Alternatives

What is glycemic index? GI only measures glucose, so numbers don't tell us the whole story; it isn't measuring calories or other substances that impact blood sugar like sucrose or fructose.

agave 

Agave Nectar: this golden or dark brown liquid is derived from the blue agave plant. It's glycemic index (GI) is low-15. it contains slightly more calories than white sugar.  It's best in soft-textured foods such as smoothies, drinks, salad dressings, pies and cheesecake. Can also be used in breads, cakes and cookies. Substitute 2/3 cup agave nectar for 1 cup white sugar; in baking, reduce other liquid by about one-third.

Brown Rice Syrup: This dense liquid is made by fermenting brown rice with enzymes to convert starches to sugars. Thick, creamy texture, pale golden color and mild sweetness is reminiscent of butterscotch. It has a relatively low GI of 25. Same calories as sugar but only half as sweet, so you may need ot use more. This sweetener is best in soft textured dishes such as pie fillings, hot cereals, and sauces. Butter for crunchy items like granola or cookies versus baked goods because it makes them heavy and hard. Substitute 1 212 cups brown rice syrup for 1 cup sugar; reduce other liquid by 2 tablespoons.

Splenda: avoid this sweetener. Once it gets to the gut, sucralose goes largely unrecognized in the body as food — that’s why it has no calories. The majority of people don’t absorb a significant amount of Splenda in their small intestine — about 15% by some accounts. some side effects: Sucralose has been implicated as a possible migraine trigger.  Self-reported adverse reactions to Splenda or sucralose collected by the Sucralose Toxicity Information Center include skin rashes/flushing, panic-like agitation, dizziness and numbness, diarrhea, swelling, muscle aches, headaches, intestinal cramping, bladder issues, and stomach pain.

Organic granulated sugar: Unbleached, less processed granulated sugar cane. Not made from genetically modified sugar beets. Turbinado organic sugar ("raw sugar") is slightly browner, with larger crystals. Essentially the same calories and GI as white sugar, but retains some of the mineral-rich molasses. This is best in anything that uses regular sugar; similar texture and adds no color. Substitute 1:1 for regular sugar.

Stevia: Derived from a shrub; now available in leaf form (ground or whole leaf) and as a refined liquid or powder concentrate. Usually sold in the supplement section. The raw leaf is 60 times sweeter than sugar; in concentrated form, stevia is 150 to 300 times sweeter than sugar. In South America and Asia, people have used raw leaf stevia safely for centuries. with zero calories, it exerts no impact on insulin levels (some studies suggest stevia may help control insulin levels). Late last year the FDA granted "no objection" status to Cocoa-Cola and PepsiCo to use stevia based products in beverages. Ideal for sweetening tea, lemonade or other liquids. Lacks bulk so it's tricker for baking-works in cookies, granola and pies but not well in breads, cakes or anything where texture matters. In baking, replace 1 cup sugar with 1 teaspoon stevia powder (or liquid), plus 1/3 cup of a bulking agent such as egg whites, applesauce, mashed bananas, pumpkin puree, or yogurt; increase liquid by 2 tablespoon May add a bitter aftertaste so go easy!

Yacon Root Syrup: a specialty sweetener made from an Andean root which has many health-promoting qualities. It's rich in potassium, phosphorus, chromium, calcium, iron and other trace minerals. It contains a whole B complex profile and important antioxidants. The root can also be found in dried powder or snackable “chip” form. Has been shown to be helpful for diabetics with a neglible effect on insulin. It improves digestive health because of the Fructans (FOS) that allow the body to use yacon as a prebiotic "food" for the digestive tract. Similar in consistency to maple syrup.

Xylitol: white crystalline alcohol powder once commonly derived from birch bark, now mostly refined from corn, berries and plums. Similar in appearance and sweetness to white sugar. This sweetener doesn't metabolize as sugar, so has no effect on insulin levels. Contains 9 calories per teaspoon, about half that of sugar.  Shown to be effective in preventing tooth decay; may have positive effects on bone health. Note: EXTREMELY toxic to dogs. Xylitol dissolves easily in liquid; idea for beverages, smoothies, sauces and ice creams. Not suitable for yeast-based baked goods but works well in quick breads. A direct substitute for sugar. In recipes calling for high quantities, use equal parts xylitol and another natural sweetener to reduce xylitol's potential bloating or laxative effects.

Fresh Ripe Fruits from Your Kitchen: This is the simplest way to get some sweet flavor into your foods. Ripe bananas in particular are very sweet and are commonly used in smoothies and blended foods. You may also want to chop or rehydrate some fruits you may have dehydrated in your own kitchen, or purchased in bulk at the natural foods market. Feel free to experiment. I freeze bananas once they ripen and keep them in the freezer to pop into a smoothie when needed.

I challenge you to go even a week without processed sugars. You'll not only notice a difference in your energy levels, but you'll notice how addicted you actually are!! Explore these different options above and figure out what works for you and your body. 

Let me know how it goes, I am here to support you!

Comments (10):

Vegan eggnog | The Philosophie on

[…] add 2 tablespoons agave […]

candace b. on

This is a great article Sophie. Thanks!

Healthy Chocolate Milkshake Recipe and Video! | The Philosophie on

[…] scoop (2 Tablespoons) Protein Powder of your choice (Raw, Brown Rice or Whey) *2 drops of chocolate stevia concentrate *2 drops of vanilla creme stevia concentrate *handful or two of […]

A Mindful Approach to Wellness -  The Philosophie on

[…] cup agave […]

erin @WELL in L.A. on

LOVE this Sophie! Thank you for such a comprehensive guide!

Alkaline Foods | The Philosophie on

[…] Junk & Processed foods […]

Drinking Soda is Bad: Why Diet Soda is no Diet at All | The Philosophie on

[…] might signal insulin to release even though there are no actual calories or sugar. (another reason Splenda […]

Healthy Indulgence | The Philosophie on

[…] sweeteners-substitute for sugar […]

raw vegan dessert-cherry chocolate bombs! | The Philosophie on

[…] 2 tbsp dark agave […]

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[…] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Sophie, Adi Jaffe. Adi Jaffe said: RT @YogaSoph: http://www.thephilosophie.com/philosophie/sweeteners-substitute-for-sugar/ […]

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Heart of the Week: Hum Nutrition Skinny Bird Capsules

I've been using HUM Nutrition’s Skinny Bird supplements for the past month and am loving the gentle energy boost they give me. If I'm drinking coffee that day, I’ll skip the supplement because I don't want extra caffeine, but if not, I’ll take a Skinny Bird after I whip up a Philosophie Smoothie. Once it’s kicked in, I find myself feeling much more energized and focused. Plus, it’s got green tea extract to help boost your metabolism.

What else is special about Skinny Bird? This non-GMO, sustainably-sourced supplement features 5-HTP, a naturally occurring amino acid and precursor to serotonin, that neurotransmitter that makes you feel oh-so-good. Serotonin is heavily involved in mood, appetite, and sleep–so everything that’s super essential to how you feel.

I've noticed when I’ve taken 5-HTP or a supplement like Skinny Bird that contains this amazing amino acid, I always feel more at ease, balanced, and happier!

Have you taken any Hum Nutrition supplements? Let me know on Facebook with #MyPhilosophie!

Coconut Oil: Friend or Foe?

The wellness world was turned upside down this past month when the American Heart Association announced that coconut oil is a no-no for heart health. As we at Philosophie HQ have a love affair with coconut oil, I felt it was important to chime in on this debate. Like most issues today, every expert has a different opinion, and I wanted to share with you ours.

Bottom line: There are healthy fats and there are unhealthy fats. Coconut oil is abundant in medium chain triglycerides (called MCTs) that deliver immediate energy because the body quickly turns them into fuel, which means that this oil is NOT stored as fat. Coco oil is a fat that is MUCH easier for your body to digest, as well as anti-fungal and anti-microbial. There are so many benefits to consuming coconut oil, and they’re all backed by studies.

We all know the buzz word “anti-inflammatory,” but did you know that the start of almost all chronic disease stems from inflammation in the body? It’s so important to adopt an anti-inflammatory diet to protect your insides and your overall health, and consuming coconut oil on the reg helps you do just that!

The AHA also claimed that there were “no known offsetting favorable effects.” On the contrary, research shows that fats in coconut oil can actually decrease risk factors for heart attack and strokes! Coco oil PREVENTS the hardening and thickening that happens to your arteries when you are about to suffer from a heart attack or stroke. Obesity is another major issue in our country, and coconut oil actually helps speed up your metabolism, as well as reduces your appetite.

I think it's important to note that the AHA was basing their inaccurate conclusions about coconut oil on studies that were conducted 50 years ago! The wellness industry is constantly changing, but one thing that remains the same is the incredible benefits of coco oil when it’s used properly.

We love to cook and bake with coco oil, we use it as a hair mask, as an eye makeup remover, in smoothies, and in bulletproof coffee–most importantly, of course! I personally rely on it to help strengthen my weakened gut lining in my stomach, due to food sensitivities! It also acts as a moisturizer for your body, and helps heal wounds. What can this superfood NOT do?

Knowledge is power, Philosophie Tribe! Arming yourself with accurate and current information is key in staying on top of your wellness game!


We’re love to hear your thoughts on coconut oil–let us know if you’re still riding the coconut train with us on Twitter with #MyPhilosophie!

Watermelon Pizza Recipe

On a midsummer night that calls for a light, magical dessert, forego the traditional fruit salad for this bewitchingly beautiful treat. All it takes is a crisp watermelon cut into a lovely moon, topped with superfood-infused yogurt, a handful of berries, and walnuts for some added crunch! On top of being simply swoon-worthy, this luscious pie is also abundant in antioxidants, probiotics, and omega-3s...which means that summer dreams should definitely be made of watermelon pizza.

 

Gather This:

 

Do This:

Mix the yogurt with the Berry Bliss. Spread the supercharged yogurt onto the watermelon slice. Top with berries + nuts, and enjoy!

I would love to see your beautiful watermelon pizzas this summer! Share them with us on Instagram with #MyPhilosophie + #PhilosophieSuperfoods!

Heart of the Week: Klean LA

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I have heard so many wonderful things about Klean LA that I couldn’t wait to try it. I’m especially stoked that they’re gluten-free, soy-free, preservative-free, as well as local AND sustainable (they have FANTASTIC eco-friendly packaging). I also feel that it’s important that I teach Kai + Leo to support local, small businesses!


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The convenience factor of Klean LA, along with their delish food, makes keeping my family healthy really easy. I can’t get enough of their roasted veggies and brown rice–and their housemade sauces are to die for! Kai couldn't stop sneaking their yummy quinoa, and Leo was OBSESSED with the roasted chicken.

On busier work days, I definitely don’t always have time to go out and purchase fresh food and then prepare a yummy, nourishing meal for my family that evening. Klean LA though helps me do just that (well, minus the shopping + cooking parts)! But that’s what life's about – finding a system that works for YOU, and this absolutely did the trick for The Jaffe Family!

What are healthy eating hacks do you use for you or your family? Share them with us on Facebook with #MyPhilosophie! 

5 Day Pre-Festival Cleanse

Festival season sparks those magical moments that you’ll be reminiscing about in decades from now – blissing out to artists on your favorite playlist performing only 10 feet in front of you, drinking dreamy cocktails, and spending dawn to well after dusk with your tribe dancing, laughing, and living wild and free.

To ensure that you begin your festival with open, radiant energy (not drained and desperate for a vacation), prepare your mind, body, and soul for your packed weekend of magic with a 5-day pre-festival cleanse.

This holistic, revitalizing cleanse will not only support you in detoxing from the taxing energies in your life, but will also make you feel rejuvenated, refreshed, lighter, and truly ready to celebrate all that’s to come.

To get started, integrate the three following practices into your week for 5 days before your big weekend:

1) Cultivate a morning ritual to promote a peaceful mind.

Create your ideal morning and fresh start by making your own altar space, a special place for you to find stillness, meditate, and dig deep. It helps to place your journal, crystals, essential oils, intention cards, and candles on a beautiful tray that you can bring to your favorite rug or sofa – or even take outside so that you can open your morning amongst soft sunlight and calming birdsongs.

In 5-10 minutes, light your candles, apply your oils, picks up your crystals, and then connect to your breath and meditate, allowing thoughts to come in without judgement and leave freely. Even if your neighbor’s dog barking starts barking, the mailman stops by, or a firetruck with a blaring siren passes your street, don’t get frustrated. While we don’t live on top of the Andes Mountains, we do live in a place that’s active, dynamic, and also beautiful – this is your home. Simply acknowledge the sounds and then get right back into it.

Once you’ve completed your meditation, pick one of your intention cards (like this Own Your Awesome Deck) – a card that feels good to you and feels right in that moment. Soak in the wisdom of the card and then take note of the love, joy, and inner tranquility you’ve just cultivated.

While this practice is a must in the 5 days leading up to your festival, it’s also a beautiful ritual to integrate into your everyday routine!

2) Do a 15-30 minute HIIT workout at home, the gym, or your local park.

Hard and fast HIIT (high intensity interval training) workouts are a fitness staple – especially if you have a regularly packed schedule. The beauty in HIIT workouts is that they’re so short and sweet you can do them daily!

Whether you’re new to rapid cardio circuits or are a HIIT champ, the key to these workouts is giving it your all and really taking yourself to your edge.

Dive right in with this HIIT sweat sesh made up of 3 super intense circuits of high knees, air squats, burpees, and elevated leg crunches. In each of these exercises, you’ll only have one minute so make the most of that minute.

Your heart rate will be pumping by the end so make sure to drink a bunch of water and then cool down with some restorative yoga stretches.


3) Do the Philosophie 5-day food-based cleanse.

While festivals like Outside Lands and FYF now have an array of wholesome options, it’s likely that there might be some curly fries and craft beer in your weekend as well. You can give your body an energy boost going into the festival by doing a simple food-based cleanse in the days before. This type of cleanse is unique in that it doesn’t promote deprivation, but rather focuses on giving your digestive system a well-deserved break.

Since we all get busy and don’t always have time to shop for and prepare healthy, wholesome foods, we’ll often turn to picking up fast food or ordering the deep-fried item at dinner with friends. The issue with this is that we’ll be filling ourselves with foods that are much more likely higher in trans fats and high-glycemic sugar, possibly sprayed with pesticides, and lower in nutrients.

A food-based cleanse like this 5 Day DIY Philosophie Cleanse provides just the opposite and consists of protein-rich smoothies, nutrient-dense salads, whole food snacks, superfood energy bars, fresh juices and fiber-filled soups—all of which are gluten-free, vegan, low in sugar and high in plant-based proteins. Check out a typical menu of the yummy, nourishing foods you’d be eating during the cleanse or even get a jump start:

Breakfast:

Berry Mint Bling Smoothie

Gather This:

  • 1 cup dairy-free milk
  • 1 cup organic frozen blueberries
  • 1 tablespoon Philosophie Green Dream Superfood + Protein Blend
  • ½ banana
  • 1 tablespoon goji berries
  • 7-8 fresh sprigs of mint
  • ¾ cup fresh organic baby spinach
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ice to taste

 

Do This:

Add all ingredients to a high-speed blender and blend until smooth and creamy.

 

AM Snack:

Coconut Water


Lunch:

Mermaid Salad

Gather This:

  • quinoa
  • wakeme
  • arame
  • hijiki
  • sesame oil
  • turmeric
  • cayenne
  • salt + pepper
  • avocado, sliced
  • lemon juice
  • sesame seeds

 

Do This:

Prepare quinoa as directed and set aside. Soak wakame, arame, and hijiki in 2 cups water for 20 minutes, drain well and add to cooled quinoa along with sesame oil, turmeric, cayenne, salt, and pepper. Slice avocado and bathe in lemon juice for several minutes. Add all the avocado and lemon juice to quinoa mixture and toss. Sprinkle with sesame seeds for garnish.


PM Snack:

Snap Peas + Hummus


Dinner:

Green Power Soup


Gather This:

  • 1/2 cup tomato, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons lime or lemon juice
  • 1/2 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon jalapeno pepper
  • 2 cups kale, chopped
  • 1/2 cup celery, chopped
  • 1/2 cup red bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 zucchini, chopped
  • 1 cup cucumber, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons flaxseed or olive oil
  • ½ avocado, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon Philosophie Green Dream Superfood + Protein Blend
  • 1/2 cup carrot juice


Do This:
Blend all ingredients in blender. Garnish with parsley leaves and avocado chunks.

Any questions about doing a pre-fest cleanse? Please ask away on Twitter with #MyPhilosophie! 

The Bee’s Knees: 5 Reasons Honey Makes the Perfect Sweetener

Raw honey is hands down one of my favorite ways to infuse sweetness into my smoothies, toast, yogurt, salad dressings, and savory cooking. This golden liquid comes straight from superfood heaven – after 2 MILLION flower blossoms are visited, 1 pound of honey is created! A bee also makes about 1/12 teaspoon in its LIFETIME, so this is a true delicacy. And when our superfood + protein blends are swirled into jars of raw honey, you have a low-glycemic, high-vibrational, nutritionally-dense nectar that is pure bliss. Read on for 5 more reasons why honey is the bee's knees! 

1) It's bursting with vitamins + minerals. 

Raw honey contains an assortment of vitamins including Vitamin B6, thiamine, niacin, riboflavin and pantothenic acid, along with minerals like copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, sodium AND zinc! This definitely makes it one of the most nourishing ways to sweeten your eats + drinks.  

2) It's full of antioxidants. 

Micronutrients called polyphenols in honey contain antioxidants, which are SO essential for radiance + wellness. Antioxidants help combat free radicals, those bad atoms that contribute to cellular damage and can lead to disease.

3) It provides an all-natural energy boost! With 17 grams of carbohydrates per tablespoon, it's a great way to support muscle recovery after you've had an intense workout. I like to add our Berry Bee Honey to this oh-so-yummy DIY Coconut Pineapple Sports Drink

4) It can enhance your shampoo + conditioner. With its humectant properties, honey makes a great addition to shampoo by helping your hair maintain moisture. The nutrients and enzymes in honey also give your hair a gorgeous shine without weighing it down. I like to mix a small spoonful of raw honey into my shampoo or conditioner! 

5) It makes a lovely face mask, especially after a day out in the sun. The healing benefits of raw honey have been recognized for centuries. Ancient Egyptians and Ayurvedic traditions used honey to treat skin infections, burns, and wounds since this sweet gift from nature possesses antibiotic properties. I love mixing it into this hydrating DIY mask with aloe and cucumber (video below) since it reduces both redness and swelling!  

What are your favorite ways to use our supercharged honeys? Tell us on Facebook with #PhilosophieSuperfoods on Facebook!