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!

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Heart of the Week - Shape House Sweat Lodge

My amazing assistant, Taylor, and I recently visited a HEAVENLY sweat lodge in LA. It was Taylor’s first time, and she ended up loving it so much that she wanted to spotlight it as the Philosophie Heart of the Week. Read on for what to expect at a sweat lodge + why it’s THE perfect ritual to integrate into your summer cleanse!

When you hear the term “ sweat lodge,” do you become frightened or intrigued (or maybe even both – like I had been)? A few years back, I had seen CNN do a story on a sweat tent that was in the middle of a field. I figured there's no way that it could be as weird as that!  

We’re ramping up for our newest Summer 17’ Philosophie Cleanse, so I knew this would be the perfect time for my body to try the West Hollywood way of sweating and release any old energy that was no longer serving me.

Plus, I’ve experienced so many So-Cal staple firsts with Sophie – everything from Pressed Juicery Freeze to Cafe Gratitude to learning how to do a headstand in yoga class. Why not spend some time in a detoxifying sleeping bag while watching the latest episode of Big Little Lies? With all this in mind, I decided to visit an LA-based urban sweat lodge called Shape House with Sophie.

I had butterflies as I walked up, but instantly relaxed as we stepped into the calming and beautiful space. After the adorable girls at the front desk explained the process, we then changed into our “jail clothes” (an oversized long sleeve shirt, even bigger sweats, and sexy mid-calf socks). Sophie turned to me and said, “You don’t really want your skin touching anything–but here, let's take a photo!”

After, I found my 170-degree cocoon and hopped in–I looked like the filling in a burrito! They then handed me a remote and alkaline water, which has anti-disease + anti-aging antioxidants–an essential during the 50-minute detoxifying sweat.

MANY people, Kardashians included, are in love with Shape House. Not only does this sweat session burn anywhere from 800-1,200 calories, it also improves metabolism and digestion, gives your skin that glow, and helps you enter a deeper sleep (I slept like a baby that night).

My skin also felt firmer and tighter post-treatment since I was sweating out toxins and improving the flow of my lymphatic system. Shape House uses FAR infrared sweat technology to provide heat that warms the body from the inside out, which creates a deeply cleansing sweat!

The first 24 minutes were glorious. I was also secretly patting myself on the back for handling this like a champ! Then...I got a bit warm! Nothing that I couldn’t handle though, especially when I had the alkaline water and Reese Witherspoon to pull me through. I took deep yoga breaths and relaxed even more, knowing I was treating my bod to something special! Then, an employee came in with a cold lavender towel for my head, which really kicked the experience up another notch! Right when I thought, “I could probably get out now,” and started puzzling over what to have for lunch, my time was up!

I wobbled to their relaxation room and savored refreshing orange slices (great vitamin C boost!) and a cup of tea to bring me back down to earth. I sat there and thought about how much I loved sweating out the bad stuff to make way for the good stuff! 

While Shape House has pretty bathrooms with showers and amenities, they actually recommend trying to wait two hours after your Sweat Session to shower. Your body continues to burn calories and detox as its returns to its normal temperature, and showering cuts that time short. We had to shower directly after since we started our day out there, but I felt thoroughly detoxed.

In a nutshell, I LOVED my experience at Shape House. I felt so clean and light the next few days. I also only wanted to put clean ingredients into my body throughout the weekend, since I had just sweated out all of the “junk.” 

If only I had the time to go weekly, I would! They recommend anywhere from once a week to once a month–or whenever you can! Thank you, Shape House, for having the Philosophie team, and for making my first time at a sweat lodge simply blissful.  

xo,

Taylor

 

 Have you gone to a sweat lodge before? How was your experience? Let us know on Facebook with #MyPhilosophie!

Shaved Carrot Salad Recipe

As the weather heats up, I love tossing up light, simple salads as either a side dish for dinner or a quick + healthy afternoon snack! That's why this julienned carrot salad made with only 3 ingredients has easily become a summer staple in my kitchen. Beautiful heirloom carrots in various shades of orange, amber, and maroon dressed in Berry Bee Tahini serve up both delightful crunch and sweet nuttiness. 

In addition to making my tastebuds super happy, this salad packs in the nutrients. Carrots provide a super high dose of vitamin A, which helps support vision, bone growth, immunity, and skin health! When you drizzle on the tahini, you also get a dose of minerals such as phosphorus, lecithin, magnesium, potassium, and iron. This lovely seed butter is very high in vitamin E and also one of the best sources of calcium. On top of all that, a spoonful of Berry Bee Honey adds a burst of sweetness, as well as high levels of beautifying vitamin C! 

Gather This:

  • 1 pound heirloom carrots
  • ¾ cup tahini
  • 1 tablespoon Berry Bee Honey
  • ¼ cup water
  • salt + pepper (to taste)

 

Do This:

Julienne the carrots, and set them aside in a bowl. Next, make the sauce by combining and stirring the tahini, water, honey, salt, and pepper. Drizzle the sauce over carrots and serve! 

What superfood summer salads are you tossing up? Share them with me on Instagram with #PhilosophieSuperfoods! 

3 Delicious, Dairy-Free Ways to Get Probiotics

While this post is sponsored by KeVita, these are 100% my opinions! 

Just like there are “good” fats, there’s also good types of bacteria and yeasts that we actually WANT in our bodies. Without probiotics, our bodies are prone to disease and inflammation so it’s good that we eat them on a regular basis to maintain a healthy gut.

Our gut is even called our “second brain” since it’s directly connected to our mood and how we think. Bottom line: when our gut is balanced, our brain feels happy.

While plain yogurt infused with a spoonful of Berry Bee Honey is always a yummy way to nourish your gut if you enjoy dairy, here are three DELISH dairy-free ways to get in your probiotics!

Kombucha

I love sipping a fizzy glass of Kevita® Master Brew Kombucha™! With live probiotics and active cultures, KeVita is my easy and delicious way to increase daily probiotic consumption and it’s also yeast-free! My fave is their citrus flavor, which is sweet and refreshing, and has 80mg of organic caffeine, making this a great afternoon pick-me-up!

Oh, and KeVita’s Master Brew Kombucha line features 9 sparkling and yummy flavors! Check out all the flavors here!

Miso

For that oh-so-yummy umami flavor, I like to mix in miso paste into my soups and salad dressings. This Asian seasoning is made by fermenting a combo of barley, brown rice, soybeans, and other grains with a specific fungus. In addition to providing probiotics, miso is also a wonderful source of protein, manganese, copper, vitamin K, and zinc!

Sauerkraut

Pickled Planet Sauerkraut is a staple in my superfood salads! In addition to being crispy, salty, and simply delicious, this pickled cabbage helps your body produce energy (thanks to its high levels of iron!) and promotes healthy eyes and skin due to its assortment of carotenes and punch of vitamin A! If you’re tossing up a Japanese-style salad, I love their Velvet Sea Sauerkraut since it also features burdock, ginger, and two types of seaweed.

What’s your favorite way to get in probiotics? Let me know on Twitter with #MyPhilosophie!

Toast Tuesday: Cream Cheese, Cucumber, + Sprouts Toast Recipe

If you love tea party cucumber sandwiches, you'll be head over heels for this week's Toast Tuesday recipe. It's as simple as toasting up a gluten-free slice of bread, spreading on dairy-free cream cheese, and layering the bread with beautiful crisp cucumber slices and a handful of sprouts! 
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Together, the vitamin K-rich cucumbers + vitamin C-packed sprouts add a truly lovely crunch! The cucumbers also help hydrate your body and flush out toxins – PERFECT for the warm months. 
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And if you do fancy the idea of dressing up in your prettiest floral dress and holding a garden tea party, you could definitely serve up this recipe (without toasting the bread and also cutting off the crust edges) with an iced rendition of this Chai Tea Latte Recipe!
.Gather This: 
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Do This:
Toast your slice of Udi’s Gluten Free Bread, spread on the Kite Hill Cream Cheese, and top with sliced cucumber and a handful of sprouts. Enjoy! 

What's been your favorite Philosophie toast? Share it with us on Facebook with #PhilosophieSuperfoods! 

Heart of the Week: Ritual

When it comes to living a more resilient life from the inside out, rituals are a MUST for living a healthier life. Believe it or not, 40% of our day is determined by our habits, so it's really important that we choose our rituals with intention + purpose. One small ritual every day – like making a superfood smoothie, journaling, or taking vitamins – can make a world of a difference! 

While I feel like there aren't a lot of vitamins or supplements that I can get behind, I've been a big fan of Ritual Vitamins for a really long time. Within HALF AN HOUR, I can feel a boost of energy from the vitamin B12. I love that I can feel the effects of Ritual so soon after!   

Their assortment of nutrients is also created specifically for women. This actually makes a huge difference because men and women's bodies are so different and have such unique needs. I love that Ritual acknowledges this and also pairs nutrients that work together. For example, the vitamin D helps your system absorb the calcium. Even if you eat super healthy, it's great to take a supplement like Ritual to fill any nutritional voids your body may currently have.

Beyond boosting your energy, increasing your brain function, and helping you weather any emotional storms, Ritual also cultivates an attitude shift. By taking it at the beginning of each day with your lemon water or superfood smoothie, you plant the seed to feel GOOD and face the day and its challenges with strength and positivity.  

Check out the video above to learn more about Ritual with me and Dr. Zelana and also hear about the resilience rituals I do each + every morning! 

What are your wellness rituals? Tell us in the comments on the video + then be sure to subscribe to the Philosophie Youtube Channel for more chats on radiant health + nutrition! 

7 Ways to Stay Active as a Family in the Summer

As a family who LOVES sunshine + playing outside, we’re all about summertime! The warm season is one of the most beautiful times to be active outdoors and celebrate Mother Nature’s gifts. Here are 7 ways that our fam gets moving, while having a blast together:

Play in the park in the morning. While the kids run wild, my hubby and I love sweating it out in the playground. The monkey bars, balance beam, and steps create challenging ways to tone our bodies in HIIT sets.

Do lawn yoga in the afternoon. Sharing my practice with my little ones and introducing them to the many, many benefits of yoga make for such magical moments. I highly encourage anyone looking for a workout buddy to get flowin' with their kiddies!

Go for a bike ride at sunset. Blissing out during bike rides while the sun goes to bed is one of the most beautiful ways to close a day. And if it’s extra special if you’re biking home from the farmers market with rainbows of fruits + veggies for your evening meal! (While it's easy to wear flip flops during summer bike rides, I prefer these light + comfy Skechers YOU shoes!) 

Go on an evening hike or walk. Beyond fresh air and light exercise, these night walks provide a space for togetherness + reflection that allow us to truly reconnect. I don’t know what it is about being outside, but it’s always easiest to speak your truths, your fears, your joys when you’re unbound by walls and are completely free to feel + express.

Jump in the pool. You can’t beat splashing around in a pool and playing Marco Polo to cool down. If you live in LA and want to up your swimming game, the John C. Argue Swim Stadium in Expo Park is a great spot to take the fam. I also love the Ace Hotel for a pool dip with a gorgeous view of the cityscape of DTLA!

Spend a day picking fruit. Running around and picking fresh, organic blueberries, strawberries, and cherries is a summer must. Living in California, my family and I are so SO lucky to live close enough to produce farms—I really wanted to take advantage of this gift and share it with my kids. Plus, you’ll have a pail full of ripe fruit ready for a dreamy dessert or nourishing smoothie

Have an epic beach day. Jumping waves, dreaming up sandcastles, flowing beside the aqua water. ‘Nuff said.

What’s your favorite way to stay active with your family during the summer? Share with me on Twitter with #MyPhilosophie!