Saturday, March 15, 2014

Dieting, Counting Calories or Nourishment -- My Story

 The beginning of the year is when most people have resolved to lose weight and commit to exercising.  Many people start a "Diet" which limit caloric intake in order to lose weight.  I know this.  I lived this.  It was my life for many years.
There were years where the Diet consisted of everything non-fat: non-fat dairy, non-fat salad dressing, only boneless skinless chicken breast, carrots, celery, salads and diet soda by the gallons.  Beef, bread, fats, full-fat dairy and saturated fats were evil.  Yes, foods were either good or bad.  Foods on the Diet were good, all other foods were diabolical.

This would work....for a while.  I would eat only salads, boiled chicken breasts, carrots and celery, tuna fish, rice cakes, non-fat yogurt, skim milk and diet soda.  And I would lose weight.  However, after weeks of feeling hungry all the time, I would go off the Diet and eat whatever I could get my hands on, mostly chocolate, chips, candy bars, KFC and the like.  Naturally, I would gain the weight back eventually.  This would continue and I was perpetually either on the Diet or off the Diet.
What is the problem with this?  Going off the Diet? Gaining the weight back?  No.  That's what I used to think.  But I now understand that in my effort to lose weight, I was depriving my body of vital nourishment.  Our bodies need a wide variety and very large quantities of nourishing food to function well and prevent disease.   I have learned and now live by a different mantra:  It's not about calories, it's about nourishment.

The best part of this story is that when the body has all the nourishment it needs in the form of whole foods that feed your cells and reduce inflammation, it will naturally shed excess fat.  I have even found that eating fat helps to increase metabolism and muscle mass, thus leading to returning to your body's natural weight and leanness.

Are you dieting?  Do you have a list of "good" foods and "bad" foods?  Does it ever feel like a light switch where you are either "on" your diet or "off".  I am very familiar with those thoughts and feelings and will be sharing my journey from the Diet to nourishment.

My hope is the lessons I've learned may benefit you and that you will find the way of eating that nourishes and heals your body.

Enjoy Life!

--Two Peas

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

How to Make Almond Flour and Why I Soak My Raw Nuts, Seeds, Grains and Legumes

Have you wanted to make recipes using almond flour, but don't like the cost?  That is exactly how I felt.

I had been using almond meal until recently when I decided to take matters into my own hands by making my own finely ground blanched almond flour.  And it worked like a charm!


Almond Meal

Almond meal is made from ground up almonds, skins intact.   If you have a Vitamix blender, it is very easy to make and the baked goods that result are delicious.


Almond Flour

Almond flour, on the other hand, is ground up blanched almonds, skins removed.   It is lighter and fluffier than almond meal.  It makes the texture of baked goods lighter and more like conventional baked goods.

Why Soak?

Removing the skins is important for nutritional reasons, also.

Nuts such as almonds, but also seeds, grains and legumes all have phytic and enzyme inhibitors in the hard outer shells or skins them which preserves and protects the germ inside.  This protective outer coating renders the nut, seed, grain or legume impervious to deterioration and able to store for years.

While this protective exterior ensures no degradation of nutrients inside, it also has anti-nutrient properties:  the phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors make nutrients unavailable for absorption in the gut.  Phytic acid binds to calcium and magnesium and other nutrients, preventing their absorption in the intestine.  Enzyme inhibitors means impaired digestibility.  A net loss of nutrients occurs when eating raw nuts, seeds, grains and legumes that have not be properly soaked and dehydrated. 

Soaking the raw nuts, seeds, grains and legumes in an acidic solvent gently and efficiently removes the anti-nutrients, magnifying their digestibility and nourishment.

I have gotten into the habit of soaking and dehydrate my grains, nuts and seeds and it has been working.  So, for me to remove almond skins prior to dehydration was not a huge learning curve.  Instead it was an extra 30 minutes of prep.

How to Make Finely Ground Blanched Almond Flour

1.  Blanch almonds for up to 2 minutes in nearly boiling water.  Immediately transfer to an ice water bath.

2.  Squeeze the almonds between your fingers and the skins should slip off.  
 3.  Remove the skins from all the almonds and dry almonds on a towel.
4.  Dehydrate almonds for 24 hours.  I use a stainless steel drying rack in my oven set to warm. It stays between 110 and 150 degrees as long as I monitor the temperature and shut off the oven when it gets to 150.    If you have a dehydrator, even better.
5.  Next, grind the almonds in a blender, a Vitamix, or a coffee grinder.  Grind until just before it becomes a butter.  It will stick to the sides a little and have a slightly oily feel.  It should also feel very light and fluffy.
5.  Using a strainer, sift the flour collecting the fine grains in a bowl.

6.  There will be larger pieces in the strainer which you can grind up again.  The flour is done when it is very fine with no visible almond pieces.   
7.  Very Important.  Freeze until needed.  Once the phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors are removed, the vital nutrients are extremely vulnerable to deterioration and begin to loose potency.
It is ready for baking all kinds of delicious baked goods.


--Two Peas