Sugar-Free Healthy Banana Bread

Sugar-Free Healthy Banana Bread
I have a sweet tooth.  I admit it.  I love sweetbreads and I love sugar.  If I could have it my way, and sugar was not so bad for my health, I would probably eat doughnuts and pastries all day long.  Ah, dreams...
But back to reality - and that reality is that sugar is bad for gut health.  That is a fact! I wrote a blog on sugar not too long ago, Check it out here.  So what to do to satisfy that sweet-tooth of mine? I have been experimenting with recipes.  Trying to get my sweet tooth satisfied in a healthy way.  So I came up with this banana bread, which has no sugar and no sugar substitute. A Sugar substitute, like monk fruit or stevia, is something I would use from time to time, but I wanted to create something without using any type of sugar - just the natural sugars from fruits.  The results - this delicious and moist banana bread. 

Bananas are rich in potassium - which is good to keep our heart healthy and magnesium - which is good for the skin.  They are also rich in vitamin C, can aid with digestion, and give good energy, without cholesterol and fats.   This bread also has pecans.  Pecans are good to maintain our hearts healthy. They contain monounsaturated fats such as oleic acid along with phenolic antioxidants which help reduce the risk of heart disease. They also aid in the digestion and might help with weight loss.   I also used essential oils to make this bread, instead of spices.  Just one drop of the vitality essential oil gave my bread a lot of flavor!  I also baked my bread on a Demarle Flexipan similar to this one 

To bake it 

I told my kids I was going to try this new bread - using no sugar and no oils and they were hesitant to try.  I am pleased to inform you that when they tried it, they all loved it! 


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Vicky said, "This is so good mommy!" 

Sugar-Free Healthy Banana Bread
Ingredients:
  • 1 1/2 Oat Flour (I put rolled oats in the food processor and hit it a couple of times to make it into flour) If you want to make this gluten-free you can use gluten-free oats
  • 1/4 cup of Flax Seed
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 pinch of sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp of ground cinnamon 
  • 1/2 tsp of ground cardamom 
  • 5 ripe bananas - mashed
  • 1 whole egg
  • 3/4 cup of apple sauce 
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 drop of cinnamon vitality essential oil 
  • 1 drop of clove vitality essential oil 
  • 1 drop of nutmeg vitality essential oil 
  • 1 drop of nutmeg vitality essential oil
  • Optional: chopped pecans, chopped walnuts and/or sugar-free chocolate chips, 
Let's make it.  Combine the bananas, apple sauce, egg, vanilla & essential oils in a bowl.  Make sure all is well combined.  Set aside.  Combine all dry ingredients and mix well.  With a spatula, carefully combine all the wet and dry ingredients.  Do not overmix.  If you have a flexipan, pour the banana mixture and bake at 350 for 50 minutes or until done.  If you need to you can grease a pan using coconut oil and parchment paper.  

Enjoy! 

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Teaching our kids Self-Care

Teaching our kids Self-Care

“They are kids, they can eat anything and not gain weight or get sick.”  I have heard this statement a lot! We often think that because kids are young, they can eat, drink and do whatever they want with their bodies, because they are young.  I completely disagree with this statement and I will tell you why. 


When a child learns from a very early age to eat right and to take care of their bodies, when they become adults they will be healthier.  When we tell our kids it is ok to eat junk food often, drink sugary drinks, or all the candy they can eat, we are essentially teaching them it is ok not to take care of our bodies.  From the moment we are born, we begin to age.  Our bodies develop and continue to grow and we continue to age. If we learn at a very early age to take care of our bodies & mind, we will have a better chance to grow up to be healthier adults.  Let me put it this way - when we plant a seed in the ground, and it begins to grow, don’t we take care of that baby plant? Perhaps we chose to start growing it inside - away from the elements - and we water it and make sure it gets just the right sunlight so it continues to grow healthy.  This is because eventually, we want to see a healthy plant that bears good fruit, right? It is the same with our children.  We need to nurture them, prepare healthy foods, limit the candy and sugar intake, limit the junk food intake so they can grow as healthy adults.  Healthy eating can help prevent chronic diseases.   Healthy eating habits are more likely to stay with us if we learn them as a child. Why wouldn’t we want our kids to grow up to be healthy adults? 


More than 100 million U.S. adults are now living with diabetes or prediabetes, according to a report released in 2017 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  That is alarming! I really believe it could have been prevented if the kids were taught to take care of themselves. 


Self-care is very important to me and it is something I am teaching my kids.  I sit with them and I explain the importance of taking care of their bodies.  I have taught them to take care of their personal hygiene.  We keep them active.  Mental health is also very important here.  My kids have the freedom to express their feelings and emotions and we address those with the Bible and payer.  It is important they feel validated and safe.  


I cook for them daily - and yes, occasionally, we'll have some not-so-good-for-you food - but we are able to enjoy that guilt-free, knowing we eat healthy most days.  I pay close attention to the ingredients on the label of the food I am buying, avoiding highly processed food, sugary (see my sugar post here) and bad oils (see my post on oils here).  I make a daily menu and I make meals.  Yes, it takes work, but I love them and I want them to live a good, healthy life.  I organize myself and buy the ingredients for our meals and sometimes I even do meal preparation ahead of time. 


Self Care is important and it can be learned from very early on.  I encourage you to have a talk with your children about the importance to take care of our bodies and minds. 


Until next time...  



Self Care in times of grief

Self Care in times of grief

Last Monday, May 18th, my younger brother Javier passed away.  The idea of him now being around anymore brought deep sadness to my life.  That first night after his passing, I couldn’t sleep.  Memories flooded my mind.  Remembering our childhood years - when we used to argue for just about anything.  Our youth years - when we became inseparable as we went to places ministering together in worship  Our weddings, the birth of our kids, family gatherings, celebrations, outings, our Christmas together - and how he would complain that he would get only one gift - for both Christmas and his birthday, because his birthday was on December 29th.  I remembered our last time together. He was in the hospital and we came to visit for his 45th birthday.  We sang for him, and laugh and made plans to sing again when he got better. He was so happy that day.  We prayed for him.  I had no idea that was going to be the last time I would get to see him.  


During the first two days I didn’t even open my bible and I refused to pray.  I was so sad.  My son Adrian said he was worried I would never smile again.  I was trying to process this great loss - I am still trying to process it.  My brother is gone - and just the thought of it makes me cringe.


A few days ago I decided to open my bible   Something came over me - I needed healing.  I needed comfort and I knew I wasn’t going to find it anywhere else, but the Word.  It is when God showed me that self-care is more than taking care of my body - it is also taking care of my heart.  I love this quote by Anne Lamott:  You will lose someone you can’t live without, and your heart will be badly broken, and the bad news is that you never completely get over the loss of your beloved. But this is also the good news. They live forever in your broken heart that doesn’t seal back up. And you come through. It’s like having a broken leg that never heals perfectly—that still hurts when the weather gets cold, but you learn to dance with the limp.”  I will never, ever forget my brother and all the things we got to do together.  He will forever live in my heart and in my memories. 


There are four things God showed me during this time of grief.  


  1. Impregnate with the Word of God.  2 Timothy 3:16-17 says “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,  so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” In the word of God we can find every tool we need to go through every situation we face in this life - including grief. Psalms 23 is one part of scripture in particular that brings peace to my heart.  I started to read through the word and I felt a supernatural peace to take over my emotions.  I am hurting - yes, but I am also experimenting the healing process that only the Word of God can bring. It is like a balm is being applied to my broken heart.  I might have the scars left one day, but my heart will be mended because I am letting God mend it. I am letting go and trusting in God, because after all, “the waves and wind still know His name”  .  1 Peter 5:7 says "Let him have all your worries and cares, for he is always thinking about you and watching everything that concerns you. "

  2. Pour your heart out to Jesus in prayer.  I read somewhere this phrase “prayer is good for the soul.” That phrase has stuck with me throughout my life.  It is so so true! Prayer is indeed good for the soul.  We need to come to God in prayer.  Sometimes, we can’t even say the words.  Sometimes, our tears fill the prayer room.  That’s the beauty of prayer - we do not need fancy words.  We do not need to “clean up our act.” We can come to God - just as we are - and say whatever is in our hearts - or come to him with our tears.  Philippians 4:6-7 says “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything; tell God your needs, and don’t forget to thank him for his answers. If you do this, you will experience God’s peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand. His peace will keep your thoughts and your hearts quiet and at rest as you trust in Christ Jesus.” You know, there used to be a time when nobody could come to God in prayer just at any time - there was a ritual to be followed.  But Jesus came and destroyed that ritual and now we can come to God in prayer at any time.  Let’s not take it for granted.  Try it - pray - just tell God what’s in your heart.  

  3. Keep up with your journaling.  I wrote a whole blog on this.  Check it here.  God will show you very interesting things - things you won’t want to forget.  Write them down.  King David wrote many Psalms.  A lot of them reflect the situation he was facing at the time - like Psalm 3, he wrote that when he was fleeing from his son Absalom. Also Psalms 18 - he wrote that one when God helped him flee from King Saul.  He wrote these psalms and many others because God was showing him beautiful truths and now we can benefit from those writings as well.  

  4. Surround yourself with the right people.  Make sure you have a support group.  I am so grateful for my husband.  He has been there for me every step of the way.  Sometimes, all I need is a hug and he has done just that.  My brother was very much loved.  There have been so many words of encouragement from people who knew him.  It has been so encouraging to read messages that have lifted our spirits up.  Proverbs 12:25 says "Anxious hearts are very heavy, but a word of encouragement does wonders!"  Words of encouragement have indeed done wonders for my soul.  I am very grateful.  People who didn’t know him, but know me, have also given us words of encouragement.  It has been very uplifting.  


Self-care during difficult times is a gift from God. Let us not waste that precious gift. 


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Sugar.. the expose

Sugar.. the expose
Sugar has been present in the homes of many Americans for many generations.  I remember seeing reports of how much things were in the 40s and 50s and sugar is always on that list, along with milk, flour, and butter.  Sugar is a staple ingredient in a lot of homes. 

Only in recent years have we begun to hear about sugar being bad for our health.  There is a lot of confusion and misinformation on sugar.  Should we eat it? Should we avoid it completely?  I did some research on sugar and other sweeteners and here is what I found out: 

Before we go on, please note this post contains affiliate links.  I earn a small commission when you click on those.  It does not cost anything to you and it helps me.  

According to heart.org, the average American adult consumes 77grams of added sugars in their diet - daily! We find sugar in natural foods such as fruits and vegetables.  We can consume these because they also offer rich nutritional value.  The problem comes when we eat highly processed food which contains sugar in several forms: cane sugar, sugar, corn syrup, molasses, fructose syrup.  Sometimes all of these ingredients are listed as “organic” but that does not make them better for us.  Items such as sodas, fruit juices, sport, and energy drinks can have a high dosage of sugar.  

What is the recommendation for our daily sugar intake: The American Heart Association’s recommendations the following: Men should consume no more than 9 teaspoons (36 grams or 150 calories) of added sugar per day. For women, the number is lower: 6 teaspoons (25 grams or 100 calories) per day. Consider that one 12-ounce can of soda contains 8 teaspoons (32 grams) of added sugar!  There goes your whole day’s allotment in one slurp.
Let’s talk briefly about what sugar does to our bodies, besides the fact that it raises our glycemic index.  
  • Sugar may cause inflammation of the intestines and unhealthy gut bacteria grow 
  • Sugar may cause obesity
  • Sugar has been linked with acne.  "Sugary foods quickly spike blood sugar and insulin levels, causing increased androgen secretion, oil production, and inflammation, all of which play a role in acne development” healthline.com 
  • Sugar may cause an increased risk for Type 2 Diabetes. 
  • Sugar may increase the risk of depression.  Consuming a lot of processed foods, including high-sugar products such as cakes and sugary drinks, has been associated with a higher risk of depression 
  • Sugar may drain your energy.  Have you heard of the “sugar rush”? You get it as soon as you get sugar, but then after that effect has passed, it leaves you tired and sluggish - the worst feeling ever! 
  • Sugar may have a negative effect on your dental hygiene.  Dentists recommend staying away from sweets and sugar because it can cause cavities.  
Ok, so we can all agree too much sugar is bad for us, but what should we do? How can we now sweeten our coffee or tea or our desserts?? There are some alternatives I can share with you which I have tried.  I am going to list them from my less favorite to my very favorite.  
  • Artificial sweeteners.  According to the MayoClinic.com, Artificial sweeteners are synthetic sugar substitutes. But they may be derived from naturally occurring substances, such as herbs or sugar itself. Artificial sweeteners are also known as intense sweeteners because they are many times sweeter than sugar. I do not use them.  I do not like the flavor they give to my food.  
  • Stevia - This is my least favorite natural sweetener because most of the products found at the store have very little stevia on it - and it is mixed with other chemicals that might mimic the sweet taste.  It usually gives me a tummy ache.  However, I have to say Young Living uses Stevia for Ningxia Red and it is pure.  My stomach tolerates it well.  I have no issues with that. Turbinado Sugar - this is sold as “raw sugar” but it really isn’t.  It is also processed - as it is partially refined. Raw sugar is not edible, because it has to go through a cleaning process where they remove debris and soil.  It is the same as white sugar.  It is also sold more expensive than regular white sugar
  • Agave SyrupAccording to healthline.com "Agave nectar (often called Agave syrup) is a very popular sweetener in the natural health community. This sweetener is touted as a healthy alternative to sugar because it has a low glycemic index. The glycemic index (GI) is the potential of foods to lead to rapid spikes in blood sugar."  Agave syrup is very sweet - so a little goes a long way.  Also, agave syrup has no nutritional value.  Even though it has a low glycemic index, if it is consumed in large quantities, it can raise the sugar level on your body. 
  • Honey: I love honey.  It is very sweet, so a little goes a long way.  I would recommend getting local honey from a local farm.  You will get the purest honey that way.  Forget the bear! Did you know that pure, raw honey never goes bad?  It naturally chrysalises, so if this happens, just leave it by the stove for a bit and it will liquefy again.  
  • Maple Syrup.  It is very sweet.  I like to use it in some foods.  Because it is very sweet,  little goes a long way.  It has a nice caramel flavor. It comes from the sap of trees and it is processed naturally to get the maple syrup.  I am talking about the real maple syrup, not the Aunt Jemima syrup which has tons of sugar and things that we do not need in our bodies. 
  • Coconut sugar - We love it because it has a light caramel flavor.  I use it on my baked goods and sometimes in the pancake mix.  It has a low glycemic index.  Coconut sugar is the dehydrated sap of the coconut palm.
  • Monk Fruit: I have tasted this and I like it.  It’s natural, contains zero calories and is 100–250 times sweeter than sugar. It is also thought to have antioxidant properties.  The only thing is that sometimes it has an aftertaste.  I baked bread and cookies with it.  Lakanto has a whole line of products with monk fruit.  Check it out! 
  • Allulose - this one is a new one for me.  I got their sugar and their sugar-free chocolate chips.  No aftertaste at all! We all liked it - as a matter of fact, they didn’t even notice here at the house I wasn’t using real sugar! Allulose is also known as D-psicose. It is classified as a "rare sugar" because it is naturally present in only a few foods. Wheat, figs, and raisins all contain it.  Also, allulose is Keto friendly.  
My favorite sweeteners and the ones I use more frequently are Lakanto monk fruit, coconut sugar & honey.  Which is your favorite sweetener? 

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Cooking Oils, the good, the bad & the ugly (FREEBIE)

Cooking Oils, the good, the bad & the ugly (FREEBIE)
Hello, my friends! Today I want to talk to you about cooking oils - what is good, what is bad, and what we need to avoid at all cause! Read all the way to the end to find my free guide for a "crunchy" healthy lifestyle!! 
My great-grandmother Isabel used to only cook with lard.  She used to say lard was the best cooking fat and cooking oils just made the food taste nasty.  She lived well into her late 90's and died of natural causes. She enjoyed good health most of her life (God healed her of cancer - but I will leave that story for another day) and was lucid! 
Nowadays there are lots of cooking oils in the market.  But which one is good for you and which ones we should avoid.  
I was very curious about this, so I set out a researching quest.  I consulted several websites including healthine.com and medicalnewstoday.com
Here is what I found out: 
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO) is packed with antioxidants and heart-healthy fats.  However, it has a smoke point of 375degrees, at which point it starts to degrade and release free radicals - these are bad! It is better to use for dips, salads & dressings. Free radicals can cause damage to our cells causing the body to age faster.  
  • Coconut Oil: You can find this oil in its refined and unrefined form.  The refined kind has a more neutral, light coconut flavor.  The unrefined kind has a stronger coconut flavor.  Make sure you get a cold-pressed, NON-GMO kind and if possible organic.  This oil is high on vitamin E, but it has no fiber and it has no other minerals or vitamins.  It smokes at 450 degrees (350 unrefined/virgin) so it makes a great oil for sauteing and roasting.  I personally use the refined because I don't really care for a strong coconut flavor in all my food.  Here is my favorite coconut oil
  • Avocado Oil: This is a great choice. It is actually my favorite as well! It’s unrefined like extra virgin olive oil, but it has a higher smoking point, which means it can be used to cook at higher heat and is great for stir-frys. It doesn’t have much flavor, which makes it a good option for cooking. I love this one!
  • Grapeseed Oil: I am on the fence with this oil - and I'll tell you why.  This oil is produced from the seed of the grape and it is a product os wineries.  That is good for business because they are profiting from every single part of the plant.  However, it is not always done right.  To be a good quality oil, it has to be cold-pressed and free of solvents.  Not all factories follow this procedure.  So you really have to read the label.  Also, be careful - because some will say in big letters "Grape Seed Oil" and in small letters will say "blend" and then you will notice that it will have oils such as canola and corn oil - those are bad!  On the positive side, grapeseed oil has a high concentration of antioxidants.  It has a high smoking point, making it good for sauteing and roasting.  I personally do not use it much, because I am not sure of the origins of it.  Some labels can be vague about this.  
As there are good cooking oils, there are also bad ones.  You might want to consider avoiding the following plant oils due to their high omega-6 contents:
  • soybean oil
  • corn oil
  • cottonseed oil
  • sunflower oil
  • peanut oil
  • sesame oil
  • rice bran oil
  • palm oil
According to my research on healthline.com: "Scientists have hypothesized that too much omega-6 relative to omega-3 may contribute to chronic inflammation. Chronic inflammation

 is an underlying factor in some of the most common Western diseases, such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and arthritis. Observational studies have also associated a high intake of omega-6 fat to an increased risk of obesity, heart disease, arthritis, and inflammatory bowel disease"
Something very important I want to point out here - Look at the labels of the food you buy. What oils are they using! We buy tortilla chips, potato chips, and other snacks but we just look at the front of the package - it might say things like "baked" or "excellent source of vitamin xyz"  and other misleading things like that, but we fail to look at the oil they use to make those things. Just turn the package around and look! Many things are made with either soybean oil (which is a very cheap and commercial oi - or palm oil)  Look at the peanut butter, for example.  Many "creamy" peanut butter have palm oil! This oil causes inflammation and it has been linked with heart disease.  It is very important we look at those labels and we avoid, as much as possible, foods with these bad oils.  
With regards to lard, perhaps my great-grandmother Chavelita, as we lovingly called her, was not very wrong. Go for pure lard, not highly-processed lard (like the one in the blue box)  According to Prevention.com "Lard has 20 percent less saturated fat than butter; it's also higher in monounsaturated fats, which are good for cardiovascular health. Lard is also rich in oleic acid, the same fatty acid that is in olive oil, and praised for its health benefits."  I have gotten my lard from a local farm and it adds a fantastic flavor to my Mexican dishes.  

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Which cooking oil do you normally use? Do you need to make some changes?
 
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