Sugar Swindle: Portion Size Problems

Don’t get caught in the latest product swindle!
If you do, you’ll end up not only spending more to get less, but you’ll be in a nutrition bamboozle too. Two bad things for the price of one? How does that work? It’s the latest ‘sugar swindle’ in the grocery store and here’s how it goes…

Look for a product you like claiming “Less Sugar” or “Now with X% less sugar!” Usually the percentage is around 15%, 20%, or 30% or so. It can be anything in between, too. The product will be the same price, and the box/jar/container will also likely look the same, except the new sugar claim marking to call your attention to it. It can ALSO be for ‘less fat’, and rarely ‘less salt’. But where you see the word “LESS” start looking out:

What’s the weight of the product?
What’s the portion size?
What’s the serving size of the individual item? (ex granola bar, product packet, etc)
What is the actual measure of the product?

Compare it with another of the same thing not marked for “Less Sugar” to see the trick in action. More often than not, the PRODUCT ITSELF has been reduced by the percentage you see on the label. As in, it weighs 20% less than it did before. Of course the amount of sugar is reduced–the amount of the entire product is reduced! You get “0 sugar from a cake” when you………have 0 cake. The box or package will likely be the same size as it was before, just to make the trick complete. However, by looking at the printed package weight/serving/portion size you can expose it. They’re counting on people just picking up the box with the shiny ‘less sugar’ or ‘less fat’ sticker & moving on–thereby losing money by paying more for less.

Here at MySeeds, we don’t usually bash products.
But this scheme is too tricky and mean-spirited to ignore. The ‘less sugar’ motto is a good one to have, and make at home foods can help you achieve this. Looking for products that taste the same/similar but have less sugar is good too. However, as usual, your best defense against scams like this is to read the package, look at the ingredients, and (if necessary) hop online to do a little research. You don’t want to lose money and you do want better health, so a little reading and research goes a long way to propel you toward these goals in the supermarket and beyond.

Advertisements

Mystery Missing Can: Broccoli

ButternutCobbSoupWhere’s the canned broccoli?
This is a product that people assume exists somewhere. Although, no one ever finds it. Most other vegetables can be found in a can…but no matter how many times one travels down the canned-goods aisle, broccoli will never turn up there. This fact gets overlooked, but do you know why it’s impossible to find?

Because canning destroys broccoli completely.
To safely can products, the food inside must be heated for long enough, and for hot enough to kill bacteria. It’s then packed inside the can with some liquid and sealed. While corn, peas and beans go through this process just fine (mostly) broccoli won’t. And if that one item gets totally destroyed in the process…what’s it doing to everything else? It could just be written off there as ‘a fluke of food’, but really there’s a lesson in the fact as well:

Canning isn’t a great idea for good nutrition with SOME foods.
Not ALL foods are made worse/less nutritious by canning. But SOME are. And, by knowing which is which, you can make better selections for better health and nutrition.

The first thing to know & always look for:
The NO BPA stamp on the can. Cans may be made of metal, but to avoid a ‘metallic flavor’ they are lined with plastic. BPA is in the news as a hormone-mimic in humans that’s not great for health. Hence all the ‘no bpa’ fuss on lots of plastics. However, can-liners are overlooked because people only think of the metal when they see the can. BPA leeches in reaction to heat…and canning uses heat so…look for BPA free cans no-matter what you’re getting.

Is there added sugar, sugar-water, or syrup in that can?
This only applies to fruits, pie fillings & other sweeter selections, but it’s important to look for if you’re trying to choose for health. If you wanted preserved pear slices you want actual pear pieces, not a tin of high fructose corn syrup. Sure, the fruit can be rinsed, but it can also absorb added sugars you don’t need. Reading the label is key here.

Foods that are heat resistant or heat activated:
Tomatoes are heat-activated. Heating these releases some nutrients and activates others making them different than raw tomatoes. So canning tomatoes & choosing sauce in jars is just fine. Beans & pumpkin also stand up well to heat. They don’t get any better for you due to it, but you’re not losing out on a lot, either. Keep in mind: You’ll pretty much never lose any fiber in canning, so claims of ‘equal fiber’ are true, but the fiber was never going anywhere anyway. It’s the nutrients you’re looking for. Artichoke hearts & coconut milk/cream also hold up fairly well.

What to do instead?
If you want long-lasting, inexpensive fruits or veggies that you can store for a while before using, think outside the can and inside the freezer. Skip those canned peaches & buy a bag of frozen slices when peaches are out of season. Get frozen corn when it’s not on the cob. Carrots are always in season, so no need for any gimmicks there. Fresh is always the best, but when you can’t get it, reach for frozen instead. It’s just as safe & bacteria free but there’s never any heat issues, BPA concerns or temptation to hose everything down with HFCS.

 

Same with soup:
Soups get just as hot in the canning process as any fruit or veg…so while they may be “warm n’ hearty” they may also be over-cooked so some are better over-looked. Making soup at home is a MUCH better option. Most people think it involves tons of time slaving away at the stove…but it really doesn’t when you have the right recipes for easy, tasty, hot OR cold soups with MySeeds! Everything from Cool-Cantaloupe to award winning White Chia Chili to Lemon-Chicken-Quinoa classic could be at your fingertips if you choose MySeeds. Want the scoop on our soups? Head over to the Chia Seed Recipe Club to see what you can make.

Avoiding Artificial Honey And What MySeeds Recommends

Have you heard of artificial honey?
Or “Honey flavored Syrup”? How about “honey extract” & “honey substitute”? While they’re not real honey, they’re all (somewhat unfortunately) real. And, they’re showing up more on the menu and inside products. These ‘honey flavored’ substitutes are generally made of the old standard high fructose corn syrup…that thing you’re not supposed to be eating a ton of, yet is somehow in a preposterous amount of foods. Others are made with artificial sweeteners like maltitol, erithritol and other sugar alcohols, water and a flavor concoction to try and fool the taste. They’re here because they’re often cheaper than real honey, and they can be very low calorie, thanks to the calorie-free nature of chemical sweeteners. However, just because something is lower calorie doesn’t mean it’s good for you.

To learn more about artificial honey, use this quick article
Extra Crispy: What Is Imitation Honey

What does MySeeds recommend?
RAW. LOCAL. Honey.
If you’re going to sweeten with honey, you can do it the right, and better-for-you way by selecting raw local honey. Most honey is Pasteurized. This means heating it up in an attempt to ‘kill bacteria’. All bottled and canned food on store shelves has undergone this process, along with milk. It is good, and necessary for those products though. Fruits, juices and other items can have harmful bacteria in or on them that would go on a rampage in a closed container and make people sick. Honey, however, is different. It kills bacteria on its own, so raw honey is pretty safe. (exactly 0 items are 100% safe)
Pasteurization matters because store bought foods need to have a shelf life, and no other food kills its own bacteria like honey does. However, the heating process also kills healthy enzymes, breaks apart vitamins  and destroys other natural compounds. The solution to this is squeezing or making your own juice, or just eating raw fruit at home, and selecting raw honey, since it kills bacteria in its natural state. Make the calorie of honey count: select the one with the good-for-you add-ons.

Local: Honey that’s local to your area
Honey produced by bees near you is a good pick, because they gather up pollen particles and other micro-items that could be allergens. They get trapped in the honey & you end up consuming them. The stomach however, unlike the nose, in allergy season, can handle allergens like these microscopic particles. When it handles them, your body can become more familiar with the allergens, which makes them less likely to affect you when pollen is in the air. It’s a way to teach an over-reactive system “hey, there’s no need to freak out about this pollen particle. You don’t need to start sneezing and watery eyes. I’ve encountered this before.”

There is no “Get Out of Sugar Free” card.
At least, not right now. Of course, a sweetener that tasted just like sugar but isn’t bad for you in any way is the ultimate goal, but no one’s reached it yet. Stevia leaf, monk fruit and even Xylitol (a bark derivative) are better for you than sugar in a drink, but the taste may not be quite there yet. Honey, of course, is the same way. It’s still on the glycemic index, it’s still a type of sugar and it still affects blood sugar. So, using it in moderation is just as important, even though raw honey has lots of positive properties too.

Chia Drinks at Home? It’s Our Latest Pin

You’ve (probably) seen ’em on store shelves in the refrigerator area…
It’s chia seed drinks! The new textured beverage that’s bringing chia (and kombucha, too) to the table. Some people enjoy the texture while others don’t, but if you do…or if you just wanted to try it, why not make it at home?

Making chia drinks at home can save you money & save on nutrition too. Fresh stuff you mix up in the kitchen doesn’t need to be heat treated for safety. Heating or Pasteurizing reduces some nutrients and can neutralize some healthy enzymes. Get the best of all 3 worlds: flavor, cost & nutrition by mixing up a glass of fresh flavor with make-at-home chia drinks.

This colorful topic comes with a fresh pinfographic for Pinterest, and a cool recipe you can try on this long weekend!

Extra Eclipse Fun! Make Chia Eclipse Cookies

Are you having an Eclipse Party?
How about some Eclipse Cookies for this Astronomical Event Excitement! Only once every 99 years does the complete Solar Eclipse go across the USA in this way. Even if it’s not a total eclipse in all areas, you can still see some sun fun as the moon goes by. Why not have an event of it, and serve some fun cookies?

Bake Eclipse Cookies!
A pale sugar cookie makes up the ‘sun’ part while a tasty dark chocolate cookie makes up the ‘moon’ part, and they’re stuck together with a dab of chocolate. Setting the cookies off-sides makes it resemble how the eclipse will look as it is observed across the USA. Each cookie uses MySeeds Chia Gel to replace some of the butter & add fiber. They’re both pretty easy to make, but the chocolate does require some time in the fridge, and some waxed paper for rolling. To make the dab of chocolate, all you’ll need are some chips in the microwave. Make up a batch before Eclipse Monday the 21st & then take a bite as the event happens for extra fun!

EclipseMap

Simple Chia Sugar Cookies
A soft, tasty cookie with simple charm. It doesn’t have any added flavorings or extracts here. (But it can) A sugar cookie may seem ‘plain and simple’, but don’t underestimate a home-baked one with this great taste.

Ingredients:
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon corn starch
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup white sugar

Wet Ingredients
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla
6 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons MySeeds Chia Gel

These are quick cookies, so begin pre-heating the oven to 350
Add all dry ingredients except the sugar to one bowl and mix together.
Use the electric mixer to beat the butter and sugar together until light and airy. Add the egg, and egg yolk & mix again. Last, use the mixer to add the vanilla and chia gel.

Use a large spoon, and slowly mix as you add the dry ingredients to the wet. Stir gently and avoid over-mixing. Use a cookie scoop or about 2 and 1/2 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon to drop the dough onto the sprayed cookie sheet. You can press them a little flatter at this point, and sprinkle a little sugar (ex. sanding sugar) if you desire. These DO spread while they bake so be sure to leave some room. Bake for about 12 minutes or until the bottoms of the cookies are just lightly browned.

Eclipse Step: Make these first so you know what size the dark cookie should be.

Cut-Out Chia Chocolate Cookies
A crispier cookie that you have to roll out & use a cookie cutter to make. These are round for the eclipse, but you can make any shape you want later. Using extra dark or ‘special dark’ cocoa makes them richer-tasting and not too sweet. Extra Black specialty cocoa* powder was used here to get the shadowy look.

Ingredients
1 and 1/4 cup flour
3 tablespoons baking cocoa
3 tablespoons dark baking cocoa
2-3 tablespoons black baking cocoa
1 cup sugar

Wet Ingredients
6 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons MySeeds Chia Gel
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla

*This is a refrigerator make-ahead recipe: Don’t pre-heat the oven
Mix together all dry ingredients except the sugar
Cream together the butter and sugar until fluffy, add the egg, vanilla and chia gel.

Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet, stirring with a big spoon until well combined. Avoid over-stirring. Place the whole bowl into the fridge for at least half an hour to chill the dough thoroughly. Once chilled, scoop the dough out onto a sheet of waxed paper. Top it with another sheet of waxed paper and roll out the dough between the sheets until it is about 1/4 inch thick.

If you peel back the top paper and the dough has become sticky, put it in the freezer to firm it up again. Once it’s chilled, pre heat the oven to 350 & use your cookie cutter to cut out desired shapes. Look at the average size of the sugar cookies. How much did they spread? Choosing a round cookie cutter of about this size will work for the Eclipse shape because these cookies don’t really spread when baked.

Place the cookies on a baking sheet with parchment paper. Bake for about 11 minutes. Cookies are done when slightly firm/spring back in the center.

EclipseCookieLine

Make your own eclipse!
Melt about 4 tablespoons of chocolate chips in the microwave with a few drops of vegetable oil. Stir frequently, and melt slowly. Spread the chocolate under a dark cookie and stick it to the top of a light cookie. Lay the pairs flat on a cookie sheet and place in the fridge to solidify the chocolate.

IMG_2977

Grab some MySeeds Chia & get started with these 2 cool recipes before the eclipse heads your way. Notice there are no preservatives. Keep these cookies in a covered container in the fridge after the Eclipse Day (if there are any left)

Don’t wait 99 years for more great recipes like this! We’ve got dinners, desserts, breakfasts and so much more with chia. It’s not limited to just replacing butter or oil, so it’s time to find out what else chia can do for you with our Recipe Club! It’s free, it never repeats and you can stay as long as you like. Let these fun cookies be your introduction to the benefits of chia seeds.

*What is Extra Black specialty cocoa?
You can’t find it in groceries but you can buy it online in several places like Amazon. It’s literally coal-black cocoa, not brown at all. It has a different flavor than ordinary or Dutch, that’s often described as “The Essence of Oreo”. It is a strong flavor but you don’t need that much to get the desired taste & effect. It is not very expensive, either and generally sells by the whole pound. Have fun and experiment when this is in your kitchen!

Foods to Fight Fatigue: Sun Sentinel Says…

SunSentinelChia

Chia seeds get a call-out in a major news paper!
And it’s good news if you have an “energy crisis” like an afternoon slump or feeling fatigue throughout the day. They investigate and report on foods that can help fight fatigue if you can eat some of them every day. You don’t need to eat them all day every day, but instead of chips for a snack, having some spiced almonds or a home-made chia granola (without all the sugar) could help. Also on their list are cacao (chocolate lovers can rejoice) and salmon.

We’re always hunting for chia in the news for you…
So you don’t just have to take our word for it on how beneficial they are. The article has a few suggestions on how to eat chia, also saying “Chia seeds improve cognitive function and offer a fast easy energy boost”. Since they had limited space, of course they couldn’t list all the ways to get chia, like an easy Chia Drink to fight the afternoon slump, using it in baking, and mixing it into burgers. There’s just too much to fit into just one page.

Omega 3s in Common
Notice how the Salmon Section boasts about omega 3 fatty acids…and then the same thing happens in the chia section. This means that even if you don’t like fish, are vegetarian, don’t have time to prepare fish…or really anything else, you can still get your omega 3s with chia seeds.

It’s Summer: Bust Hydration Myths & Boredom

It’s July!
The height of summer & time for lots of warm weather, great sunshine and fun outdoor health activities. If you’re outside and sweating though, you’re probably also thinking of staying hydrated–and that’s a good thing. Part of staying healthy is staying hydrated…but at just the right amount for YOU. You can over-hydrate, and bad-for-you choices litter the drink aisle in the store. But, if you bust some myths and learn a little, healthy choices can be tasty as well.

Hydration Barrier:
Water: “It’s boring”
Sometimes people don’t drink enough because ‘plain water’ is ‘too boring’. This is especially true when trying to quit pure fruit juice, oj, or soda. The key to combatting this is flavor that’s healthful too. There are loads more great tea flavors (that’s tea-bag tea, not bottled, sweetened teas) than there used to be. Flavors like hibiscus pomegranate, green tea mango, and dark cherry are readily available. Sweetening with a drop or 2 of stevia liquid can satisfy a sweet-tooth too.

Other myths include coconut water being the be-all end-all solution to hydration (it’s not, different activities and times of the day call for different ways to get your water, so variety is key) and the old “8 glasses a day” myth.

If you’re gearing up for summer fun, bust 10 myths first with

10 Hydration Myths

Then see some Chia Seed drinks to keep the flavor flowing all year long!
Plus, there’s a refreshing recipe there too.

Don’t Just Take Our Word For it…

Chia is great!
Every so often someone does an absolutely fabulous job summing up the benefits of chia seeds, or produces a fantastic recipe…and this week sees one of the best! It’s one thing, as a chia expert, to talk about chia, but it’s another when someone else recognizes all the great helpful potential of chia. We love reading what aspects are chosen, and seeing lots of great photos.

Curious?
The Benefits of Chia Seeds & How To Add Them Into Your Diet

It’s got loads of great info in an easy to read format.
It breaks the benefits down into sections like digestion, hydration, bone health, and more. Then, it gives tips on how to use them to get your own maximum benefit. After all, chia can help you with a wide variety of goals.

It’s a long article, but it HAS to be because there are just so many good points, and health boosters to consider. Of course, MySeeds has chia benefits in a variety of different articles, but this one seems to condense everything onto one page for your reading convenience. There are also colorful photos & likely a few recipe links you can grab too, if you’d like to try what you see.

Convinced to try chia?
Get MySeeds! We’re the only chia with 2 automatic instant bonus cook books packed with recipes to get you started. The time to add chia to your menu is now, and you’ll want to enjoy easy recipes with great taste and better health thanks to these tiny seeds. Don’t waste your time crawling all over the internet to try and gather recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert, snacks and more…get everything all at once when you Choose MySeeds.

Summer Fruits for Summer Health!

Summer is here!
On this, the longest day of the year. As summer arrives, it brings with it a bounty of colorful plant foods. You can take advantage of these for better health, when they’re at their peak of freshness and flavor. Some fruits though…are under-estimated.

The Watermelon
It’s got ‘water’ in the name, and, is indeed mostly water. (92%)
However, this doesn’t mean that it’s not nutritious. Watermelon is actually fantastic for health, with vitamin A, anti-oxidant pigments, vitamin C, even B and potassium too. So, don’t overlook this one as ‘a sweet wet fruit’, it’s actually a healthy choice. And, you can enjoy it in our chia recipes like Strawberry-Watermelon Quinoa, and our chilled watermelon gazpacho savory chia soup.

Plums
Enjoy several different types with their different tastes this summer to receive plenty of antioxidants from their rich dark color, vitamin c, soluble fiber vitamin k and even some trace copper. There are over 200 kinds of plums in the USA, but over 2000 world wide, so there are plenty to choose from. You can just slice and eat them, or make something like our Chia Plum Salad.

Even more fun fruit enjoyment ideas?
Keep cool this summer with popsicles! Don’t forget, we’ve got a whole Kindle book packed with colorful pops that are better for you too. It features lots of summer fun fruits in easy recipes. Fun Chia Popsicles!

Why are antioxidants important in the summer?
When it’s nice out, people will want to spend time outdoors having fun. And that’s great! But, more intense sun can mean more oxidative damage to skin. (So, do use suntan lotion and take precautions) If you do get more sun though, high-antioxidant fruits and veggies can help your body defend against damage. Fortunately, the solution is enjoyable eating with plums, peaches, watermelon, berries, mangos and more in season right now.

Xylitol for All? Sugar-Replacement Gains Popularity

You’ve probably heard of Xylitol, but what is it exactly?
It’s a sugar alcohol. Anything that ends in “itol” (malitol, etc) is a sugar alcohol. Most of these come from plants or plant byproducts. Xylitol comes from either corn cobs or birch trees. It’s used to replace sugar because it tastes sweet but your body can’t really break it down like sugar. It’s powdery/crystally and white, measured by the spoonful, and easy to use…but should you?

The current answer is “It Depends”

If you have a dog who might access it or Xylitol food/drink you’ve made: NO

Xylitol HARMS DOGS
Much like chocolate, onions & raisins that are harmless and safe for humans but hurts dogs, Xylitol is the same. If they eat it, or food containing it, they can get really sick or die. Treat Xylitol like you would chocolate for a dog and keep it well out of reach. Of course, they think it’s sweet/tasty too, just like you, so they’ll want some but it is paramount they don’t get it.

Where is Xylitol BEST used?
In gum! Cavity causing bacteria hate it. It has a few properties that bacteria don’t like, first off: it’s un-ferment-able, then, it has some ‘non stick’ properties that keep bacteria from clinging to teeth, cell walls and more. These combined actions give it a mouth-helping effect that’s already been studied to work. Having a piece of sugar-free xylitol gum after a meal is a good idea if you can’t brush your teeth.

The price is coming down:
You may notice the ‘sugar-free sweetener’ aisle in the grocery getting more diverse. This is a good thing as more options let more people make some healthier choices. However, it used to cost more to choose. But, as this sugar-alcohol has gained popularity, the price has come down–especially since corn-cobs would ordinarily go to waste. You may be able to buy a bag of Xylitol that’ll last months for under 10 dollars. (rather than tiny jars, mini-packets and other small portions) So, if something becomes a bargain & more widely available, it also becomes more likely to get used.

Side effects?
Like anything (almost anything) too much is no good for you & intestinal issues like gas, bloating, diarrhea, queasiness can result. But, the required amount to get to this problem point is pretty high, like 40 grams worth of high. So, its unlikely that merely sweetening a coffee with a teaspoon of the stuff is going to get anyone into trouble. Same with a cookie sweetened with it, or a drink where 4 tablespoons are diluted in 2 quarts of water. WebMD weighs in as well & of course studies are ongoing. But, if you’re looking at the side effects of loads of HFCS & sugar and aspartame vs Xylitol, you’re likely better off with Xylitol.

Of course, if some ‘healthy alternative’ appears, the MySeeds Test Kitchen has to look into it!
We’re well aware of the plague of sugar in almost everything & the bad health effects of too much sugar. If Xylitol can be a great replacement or help people get away from HFCS sodas that would be a big benefit.

Test #1
Kool Aid!
Kool Aid packets (makes 2 quarts) are unsweetened drink mixes with a great and appealing variety of flavors. Because they expect you to add your own sweetener, this gives you the opportunity to sweeten with anything you want, in any amount to get a desirable drink. Kids like it, there are enough flavors people can’t get too bored with it & it works well as a chia drink/snack replacer as it’s not too acidic. If someone’s trying to set down the soda for good, drink mixes like this can be a decent gateway.

Xylitol Kool Aid Recipe
2 quarts filtered water
3 to 4 tablespoons xylitol
1 packet any flavor Kool Aid drink mix
Optional per glass: mix in 1 teaspoon dry chia seeds & allow to gel in the drink

Xylitol packages say ‘equal to sugar’, but it actually comes across as sweeter than sugar so you DONT want to use a cup (as suggested on the packet) The key here is to stir in the powder, the sweetener, and then leave the pitcher to sit. Stir again after about half an hour. The package may say “works like sugar” but it doesn’t really dissolve that fast so leaving it alone in the fridge yields a better flavor/sweeter taste without having to add more.

Tricky Tricky:
As with all things that fool the tongue, they don’t fool the body. It tastes great, but keep in mind that you might get hungry sooner than usual if you are using non-sugar sweeteners. This can be combatted by adding fiber at the same time, like with chia seeds in baked goods, or by making chia drinks.

The bottom line:
Xylitol does its best job in gum, and isn’t a supplement. It’s ok to experiment with, but beware of getting too much. It’s probably better than corn syrup for you in drinks, but keep an eye on hunger levels/fight that with fiber and don’t go overboard drinking it all day every day.