ChocoPerfection Update





I wrote about Chocoperfection when I first started this blog as a great chocolate alternative for a low carb diet.  Since then I've been eating it several times a week and I love it just as much today as I did back then.



Probably even more now because they just launched a new version - dark chocolate with orange - which is my absolute favourite. I was lucky enough to receive a box of these from the founder, Mary Jo Kringas, and I soon ordered several more.  They are that good!


Since then I've done even more research on them, and nothing that I've found out has caused me to change my mind about the suitability of this product for a low carb and Paleo diet.

I was interested to read that Mary Jo uses the same sweetener that is used in Suzanne Somer's Somersweet.  Suzanne started out promoting her diet but has since made a name for herself as a health researcher.  She is also very adamantly opposed to chemical pollutants of all kinds, so I'm pretty confident that anything that she recommends and certainly anything she would personally sell would have to meet pretty high standards.

Both the sweeteners used in Chocoperfection - oliofructose and erithrytol - rank zero on the glycemic index which makes them perfect for low carbers. Also, oliofructose has been named as one of the healthiest foods on the planet because of it's prebiotic properties.  It cleans the colon and strengthens the immune system.

The other major benefit of Chocoperfection is all the fibre it contains.  Every nutritionist these days is telling you to eat more fibre, and if you are going to take a supplement, why not take it in the form of a delicious chocolate bar?

Mary Jo says she eats 3 or 4 of these bars every day with no side effects.  Some people - unfortunately I'm among them - cannot eat that much without stomach bloating.  But having a bar every day or two works for me, and certainly allows me to indulge my chocolate cravings without any added sugar.

Chocoperfection might not be a "real" food in the sense that it grown on the ground or has a face, but then neither is protein powder - which doesn't stop major Paleo writers from recommending it.  It seems to me that as long as you are eating a healthy Paleo diet most of the time, a Chocoperfection indulgence once in a while is probably as healthy a treat as you are likely to find - and definitely delicious!


 “Life isn't about finding yourself.  Life is about creating yourself.”   - George Bernard Shaw




     

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Paleo Primal and Gluten-Free Smoked Salmon and Goat Cheese Pizza




I'm really loving this almond flour crust pizza.  Here is my latest version. I no longer feel deprived because I can't eat at my favourite pizza place.  Now I can have a gourmet pizza at home!

Ingredients :

1 individual almond flour pizza base (see post below)
2 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
4 ounces of smoked salmon, chopped
1/4 cup of sliced black olives
1 thinly sliced ring of red onion, chopped
a few sprigs of fresh dill
olive oil for brushing

Directions :
  • Preheat oven to 425'F
  • Brush the cooked pizza base with olive oil and sprinkle with the crumbled goat cheese, chopped smoked salmon and chopped red onion.
  • Top with the black olive slices and finish with a sprinkling of chopped fresh dill.
  • Place on a pizza pan or cookie sheet, and bake for 10 - 15 minutes, just until all the toppings are warmed through.
  • Serve and enjoy.
I'm really glad I made up a whole batch of these bases and stuck them in the freezer.  Now, with just a few minutes spent choosing toppings, I can enjoy this delicious treat any time I want!



 “Life isn't about finding yourself.  Life is about creating yourself.”   - George Bernard Shaw




     

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Paleo Pizza Crust using Almond Flour or Meal






I have already covered coconut flour pizza crust and protein pizza crusts in previous posts, so to complete your Paleo Pizza selection, I want to give you a great almond flour pizza crust as well.  I have to say that this is now my personal favourite.  The combination of spice and cheese makes it really delicious.

This crust came about after trying many of the recipe versions I found online.  Most were pretty good, but I found that for me they were lacking a bit in taste .  This is why I ended up adding seasoning and cheese to my crust as well as on my pizza.  


Ingredients :

2 cups of almond flour or almond meal
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon of Pizza spice (or Italian Seasoning) to taste
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
salt and pepper


Directions :
  • Preheat the oven to 375'F
  • Lightly oil two pieces of parchment paper.
  • Place all the ingredients into a large bowl.  Add a pinch of salt and a few grinds of pepper, then mix everything together to form a dough.
  • The dough will be quite sticky, but you should be able to form it into a ball.  If not, don't worry.  You haven't done anything wrong.  Eggs vary in size so this will make a difference in how much dry ingredients you need. Just add another tablespoon or two of almond meal until you have the right consistency. 
  • Put the dough on one of the pieces of parchment and cover with the other.  Using a rolling pin, roll the dough until it's about 1/4 to 1/2" thick.  I like mine as thin as possible.
  • Place the parchment paper covered dough onto a cookie or pizza pan, then remove the top paper and bake for 15 or 20 minutes.
  • I like mine nice and crispy, so I keep it in the full 20 minutes until it starts to brown.
  • Remove from the oven and cool for 5 minutes. Turn the oven up to 425'F. While the base is cooking and the oven is heating, get all of your topping ingredients ready.  You can add whatever you want, but make sure you have at least some vegetables to make this a healthy choice.  When I don't have anything in the fridge I use frozen which works just as well.
  • Put on your favourite toppings, then return to the oven and bake for about 15 minutes longer or until the cheese has melted.   Cool then slice.  
This will give you a great thin crust pizza that's easy to hold in your hand.  You will also find that it's so filling you really won't want more than a couple of slices.

Pizza is a great healthy Paleo treat, so whether you go for this version or prefer the coconut flour crust instead, make sure you include it often on your menu plan.



 “Life isn't about finding yourself.  Life is about creating yourself.”   - George Bernard Shaw




     

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Hiking - Simple Pleasure and Exercise combined






We all know now that walking is the best exercise for over-all fitness, so taking up Hiking as a simple pleasure is just a simple progression. (Image from www.vancitybuzz.com)

Hiking not only allows you to get great exercise, it also helps you de-stress and relax by allowing you to focus on different surroundings.

www.tourismvermont.com

Hiking with a group can be a great way to connect ...

www.vancouverislandnorth.ca

.....but hiking alone also has it's merits.  After a week of dealing with people and problems, it's a great way to get rid of stress and regroup.

No matter where in the world you live, there is always a place for you to hike.  Walking in the country is the best because you also benefit from the fresh air  ...

toulousletrek.com

But if you're stuck in the city you can still enjoy hiking as well.  Maybe you wouldn't consider it hiking, but spending a day walking around the city and checking out the sites is great exercise.

newyork.cbslocal.com

It's hard to believe, but many people who live in cities never see the things that make that city famous unless they have friends or relatives and are forced into doing some sightseeing. 

alitedesigns.com

Most large cities now also have walking trails, and if you check your local tourism office you can get yourself a copy of a local map showing all the trails.  On a holiday weekend when everyone is going out of town except you, why don't you plan your own outing and check out one of these walks.   This is a great activity to do with family or friends. 

victoriadailyphoto.blogspot.com

Maybe plan on stopping somewhere new for lunch.  One plus of hiking in the city is you don't have to pack a lunch!

yelp.ca

If you do a lot of hiking in remote areas, or even decide to do an overnight hike at some point, then you will want to get some equipment, and there are many specialty hiking stores now that carry everything you could ever need and more.  Just spending a few hours in one of these could be a mini day trip.



Whether you're lucky enough to have access to country trails, or have to stay in the city, you can still spend a great day hiking, and reap all the rewards, so if you're getting a bit bored doing your regular neighbourhood walks, consider expanding your horizons.  You'll find it great for your body and your mind


 “Life isn't about finding yourself.  Life is about creating yourself.”   - George Bernard Shaw




     

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Winter Simple Pleasure - Cross Country Skiing




I live in snow country.  Every winter my community is overrun with eager skiers who can't wait to put on their skies and whiz down those slopes.  This is something I have to admit holds absolutely no appeal to me.  I could never understand how barreling down a slope and being hit in the face with a freezing cold wind could ever be called fun.  

However cross country skiing is a completely different thing.  You can go at your own pace, admire the scenery on a sunny day, and if you take a backpack with a picnic and a wine flask you can very happily spend a whole day with the family or with friends getting exercise together. (Image from www.ncc-ccn.gc.ca)

www.kahlerglen.com

If snow really isn't your thing, you might change your mind if you give this a try.  A few hours skiing on a sunny winter's day can be surprisingly exhilarating, as well as a great way to get in shape.


Equipment and Instruction

Cross country skiing doesn't require a lot of equipment, but you do want to make sure you choose wisely.  Luckily, you can find out all you need to know online.  Here, here and here are a few examples of sites with helpful information.

You can also find lots of videos online that will show you just how it's done.  Experience and a good instructor is probably the best way, but watching a few of these videos will definitely give you a head start. 



Here are a couple of videos that show you the basic technique.


Of course, if you want to get even more information, there are lots of books and DVDs available as well.  Here are just a few examples :




  Health Benefits

Cross-Country skiing is not only fun, it's also a great exercise choice.  This low-impact total body workout is the ultimate cardio exercise, burning more calories per hour than even tennis or speed-walking.  And this is just recreational skiing.  If you decide to push yourself a bit, or find yourself skiing uphill you could burn over 1,000 calories an hour!

Because no single muscle group in overstressed, you can cross-country ski for hours on end.  As a result, a fast heart rate is also sustained for a long duration, and this is exactly what your heart needs in order to be strengthened and to improve your heart's capacity to pump blood efficiently and effectively.

Cross country skiing is also one of the safest and lowest-impact sports in the world.  Unlike downhill skiing, there is very little shock to the feet, knees and hips thanks to the gliding motion of classic diagonal skiing.  So if you are concerned about your joints, this might be a good choice for you. 

Last but not least, skiing produces a natural high. A good workout on the trail will give you an intense feeling of exhilaration and a wonderful sense of well-being.  This is the result of the endorphins that are produced. Even once your ski day comes to an end, this feeling of well-being will linger, practically guaranteeing a stress-free restful evening and a fantastic night's sleep.

So if you live where the winter months are cold and snowy, instead of grumbling about the cold, make it work for you.  On the next sunny day try cross-country skiing, and have a great time  enjoying the great outdoors while you reap the health benefits as well. (Image from www.yosemitepark.com)


 “Life isn't about finding yourself.  Life is about creating yourself.”   - George Bernard Shaw




     

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Flaxseeds and Paleo Gluten-free Scones




For those of us on a Paleo diet, especially those eating low carb for weight loss, flaxseeds are a nutritional powerhouse.  Not only are they full of fibre which really keeps hunger at bay, they also have many other benefits. (Image from healthvigil.blogspot.ca)

These seeds from the plants with the pretty blue flowers, are high in most B vitamins, magnesium and manganese. They are also rich in omega 3 fatty acids, a key force in fighting inflammation.  The high fibre helps stabilize blood sugar and promotes proper functioning of the intestines.

 image from aliexpress.com

Flaxseeds benefit everyone, but they have been shown to be of special benefit to women.  They are a great source of lignans which convert in our intestines to substances that help balance female hormones.  Studies have shown lignans may promote fertility, reduce peri-menopausal symptoms, and possibly prevent breast cancer.

There are a few concerns, and one is the high fiber content.  This is one of the benefits, but if you aren't used to eating a lot of fiber, you need to start slowly with only 1 or 2 tablespoons a day.  If you have irritable bowel syndrome you should check with your doctor before adding a lot of this to your diet.  Also, make sure you drink lots of water, otherwise you could suffer from cramping and constipation.

There have also been some recent studies linking large amounts of flaxseed consumption to a potential prostate cancer link. (see this post by Mark Sisson.)  This obviously doesn't apply to women, and Mark Sisson's view is that "healthy women can consume low to moderate amounts of flax without concern. ".  Men on the other hand - especially older men - need to be more careful, and Mark suggests that you take it easy on the flaxseed and stick to fish oil for your omega 3s.


How to store Flaxseeds and make your own Flaxseed meal

Flaxseeds need to be stored in a cool dark place, which is why I recommend you keep them in your fridge or freezer.  Whole flaxseeds will keep up to a year.  Ground flaxseed meal will keep for a month or two.  Flaxseeds should taste nutty.  If they ever taste bitter you need to throw them out. 

In order to guarantee freshness, many people choose to grind their own flaxseed meal, and this is easily done in a food processor or coffee grinder.  Wikihow.com (photo above) gives you a 7 step method, and here is a video that shows you how to grind flaxseed in a cheap coffee grinder :


How to use Flaxseeds

If you have seen flaxseeds as part of a recipe and felt a bit uncertain, join the club.  I have been cooking Paleo for several years now, and even though I know they are health, flaxseeds just didn't really do anything for me.

But after reading Dr. Davis Wheatbelly Cookbook and his newest 30 minute Wheatbelly Cookbook that has all changed.  He recommends that you use golden flax seed meal in your recipes instead of the dark ones, and now that I have tried them I can totally see why.


They make all baked goods look a lot more like the wheat versions that we are used to, with a lovely golden crust.  The meal also seems to have more of the texture of regular flour, and works better in recipes.  Dr. Davis uses golden flaxseed meal a lot, and all of the recipes of his that I have tried have been delicious.  His flaxseed wrap and flaxseed tortilla recipes are now staples that I wouldn't want to do without.


ORANGE CURRANT SCONES

These scones, based on the ones in Dr Davis' book, are a great example of how you can use flaxseed meal.  I ate orange currant scones continually for breakfast before I started eating Paleo, so I am thrilled to now have a Paleo version.  Check the Wheatbelly Cookbook for the Cranberry Cinnamon scone and the Ginger Apricot scone recipes.  These are truly amazing.

Ingredients :
  • 1 cup of ground golden flaxseeds
  • 3/4 cup of almond meal (bleached or natural)
  • 1/4 cup coconut flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons of your favourite sweetener (coconut sugar, xylitol etc.)
  • 5 tablespoons of cold butter
  • juice of one orange (about 1/4 cup)
  • zest of one orange ( see here for how to zest fruit)
  • 1/2 cup of currants
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
Directions :
  • Preheat the oven to 350'F, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • In a large bowl, combine the flaxseeds, almond meal, coconut flour, baking powder, salt, orange zest and sweetener.
  • Using a pastry blender or a couple of knives (see video below) cut the butter into the flour mixture until the pieces of butter are the size of small peas.
  • Add the currents and mix to make sure they are evenly distributed.
  • In a smaller bowl, whisk the eggs with the orange juice and vanilla, then add to the dry ingredients and mix until well blended.  You should end up with a sticky dough.
  • With wet hands, divide the dough into 8, then form each the way you would a hamburger.  Put them on the parchment lined baking sheet.  
  • Bake for 18 minutes or until golden brown.  Cool for at least 5 minutes before handling because they do crumble easily when fresh.
If you want, you can also reserve some of the beaten egg to brush the finished scones and then sprinkle them with a bit of coconut sugar or xylitol before baking.

Also, if you make sure you flatten them to about half an inch in height, you can then easily toast them when you want them.  Again, give them a minute or two to cool before removing from the toaster.


How to Cut in Butter into Flour

Cutting butter into flour is what gives you that great flaky pastry.  For those of you who are unfamiliar with this technique, here is a video :


Try these with a mug of coffee for breakfast.

These scones might not look like much by themselves, but I'm sure once you taste them you will be amazed at how flaky, delicious, and similar in taste to the wheat-filled original they are.


 “Life isn't about finding yourself.  Life is about creating yourself.”   - George Bernard Shaw




     

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