Spice Up Your Life

Cinnamon-300x185I have to say that I am a big fan of spices and my world might not be the same if spices were nonexistent. Okay that might seem a little overkill but the point I am trying to make is that I love my spices as much as I love any kind of ingredient. In my eyes without spices there wouldn’t be some of our delicious meals. I don’t consider this as a matter of opinion but a matter of fact. Think about it, the last time you ate something it was either good or bad for the amount of spice that was involved with this food. Either your food was over salted or it lacked enough flavor. Have I made my point? One of these spices I couldn’t live without is cinnamon.

So why cinnamon? Cinnamon to me is the perfect complementary spice that doesn’t exactly overwhelm you with its flavor. This spice isn’t the main attraction to a meal but it is a worthy supporting star in its own right. Its perfect on shakes, fruits, pies, ice cream, eggs, toast, and any baked goods. This is one of those spices that we should strive to add more into our diets because it kicks butt nutritionally and keeps us healthier. Let me give you five benefits to cinnamon.

1. Has anti-inflammatory properties: This alone is worthy of taking because most processed foods out there cause inflammation in our body one way or another. Cinnamon can help reduce this impact.

Cinnamon Fern

2. Helps lower risk of getting cancer: When you consider 1 in 3 individuals in the United States will get cancer at some point in their life and cinnamon can help lower these risks I bet cinnamon starts sounding more appetizing to take now right? Trust me, I am for any food that will help reduce those odds.

3. Keeps you focused an alert: I don’t know about you but I can’t remember the last time I woke up saying that I wanted to be tired. If cinnamon delivers this benefit I will gladly accept it. It can help us wean away from caffeine.

4. Helps with Weight loss: Consider this as an ally in your battle with permanent weight loss and weight control. Having more natural aids is a good way of shedding those additional five pounds off our bodies for good.

5. Keeps your breath fresh: Ever wonder why there is cinnamon flavored gum out there?Think Big Red bubble gum. Or why there is cinnamon flavored mouthwash? Now imagine what natural cinnamon can do for your breath.

Cinnamon definitely is not for everyone but its made for anyone. You don’t have to be a fanatic of cinnamon and take it as religiously like myself but you should aim to take cinnamon more often. I mean what would the harm be if you took more cinnamon? You got some added health benefits when would anyone refuse those. Tell me what you think about cinnamon, do you love it or hate it? Or maybe its a roller coaster ride? Share your thoughts below. 

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Picking Protein Powders


In our fast paced society, eating the right food can be difficult if we are very often on the go. I mentioned before that supplements are the perfect complement to our food. One supplement that I consume from time to time is a protein shake. I definitely like to drink a protein shake right after the gym but I also find myself also drinking a protein shake when I know I will have a busy day ahead and might not have time to eat a healthy meal. But how do you know what kind of protein powder you should be taking? Well the answer is simple but you must determine what you value in your protein powder and what your fitness goals are because there are literally hundreds of choices for protein powders and they all vary slightly. So in this blog post I will discuss some of the main protein powders out there.

To begin you must know where your protein powder is derived from. Is it an animal sourced protein or a vegetable derived protein? This is perhaps a fundamental factor that you must consider. Animal sourced protein are perhaps the most popular and better known proteins out there but plant sourced proteins are getting more buzz especially around the vegan and vegetarian communities. So lets begin with animal derived protein powders.

Animal Derived Proteinvs

  • Whey Protein: This is probably the most widely used protein out there. This is derived from milk and can be made into many different flavors. I personally love this type of protein because it offers a lot of bang for my buck. Plus this type of protein powder helps build up my immunity. However, there are three forms of whey protein out there that should equally impact your decision in determining if this protein is right for you. Essentially, the three different forms of whey protein relate to the amount of processing used to make the protein and how much protein per unit it contains. The three forms of this protein are whey concentrate, isolate, and hydrolysate. I discuss two of the three below.

1. Concentrate: This type of whey protein still contains fat and large amounts of lactose since it is derived from milk. However, it is the least processed of all of the whey protein powders and is a little less expensive than whey isolate.

2. Isolate: This whey protein has little to no fat and little to no lactose and might be better suited for individuals who have more delicate stomachs or are trying to remove fat from their diets. Keep in mind that although this whey protein has more protein content than whey concentrate it is more heavily processed and will cost you more at the register.

  • Casein Protein: Casein protein is also referred to as milk protein since the majority of this protein is derived from milk and shares many similarities to whey protein. This protein also comes in a variety of flavors but the biggest difference between casein protein and whey protein is when they are absorbed and digested in our bodies. Unlike, whey protein where it kicks in relatively quickly after consuming it, Casein protein takes a bit longer to be absorbed. If we use the rabbit and turtle race analogy, whey protein would be the rabbit and casein protein would be the turtle because of the slow and steady pace at which it is absorbed by our bodies. This is why this protein powder is perfect for later in the day if you like to snack late in the evening because it will keep you full so you won’t have to binge eat late at night.

Plant Derived Protein

  • Pea Protein: So now we discuss plant based protein powders. You might be thinking why would I consider this kind of protein powder. Well for starters this is an ideal protein powder if you are lactose tolerant but also if you get bloating from either whey or casein protein powders. In particular, pea protein is derived from peas that might better suit a vegan or vegetarian diet. Plus this protein protein plays well with other drinks in case you you might want to mix it with other drinks. Additionally, this protein powder has a low amount of carbohydrates so for folks trying to cut out carbs from their diet, this is a good protein powder to use. Again it comes down to your fitness goals.
Pea Protein
  • Soy Protein: This particular protein offers 8 amino acids and is derived from the soybean. Like whey protein, soy protein comes in different forms: soy concentrate, soy isolate, and in a textured soy protein. Each one of these soy proteins offers its own benefits and downfalls just like whey protein. More importantly this specific protein can be hard to mask if you are trying to mix with other drinks but it can be done. I would recommend using your favorite fruits or peanut or almond butter to accomplish this.
  • Rice Protein: Who would have thought that rice had protein right? Well as it turns out it does! In fact this protein powder shares many of the same characteristics as pea protein. This protein is perfect for individuals that are considered about their fat or calorie intake as this protein powder tends to be low in these categories.
  • Hemp Protein: This protein source is perhaps the most widely used source of protein that vegetarians and vegans use. Unlike soy protein, hemp protein is easier to digest and it also has low fat content compared to other types of protein powders specifically any concentrate powders. Some other advantages this protein has is that it contains no soy, dairy, or artificial flavors. So you either like the flavor or you don’t.

It doesn’t matter if your new to protein powders or if you’re a protein junkie like myself figuring out what protein powder can be difficult to determine. Hopefully, I have pointed in the right direction so you at least know what protein powder would work well with your body and be consistent with your fitness goals. I strongly recommend you sample a protein powder from each different type before finally settling on your favorite protein. Personally, I have tried them all of different brands and I would say it was a good experience to have. I highly recommend for everyone to do it too! Remember that selecting the type of protein powder is only one factor to consider when selecting your next protein powder. Other things to consider are flavoring, sweeteners, and other ingredients that are mixed in with the protein powder. Feel free to share below which type of protein powder you are currently taking and if you would recommend it or not.  

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Vitamin Breakdown Series (Part 2: Vitamin B1)

article-vitamin_b1Last week we discussed vitamin A (retinol) and its importance to our bodies. This week we talk about vitamin B1, one of the 8 vitamin B’s out there. Rather than summing up the entire vitamin B family in one gigantic post, I will discuss each vitamin B separately because in my opinion each vitamin B equally deserves the spotlight as they bring something different to the table. I want you to think about each vitamin B as one part of an octuplet family and this week we are focusing our attention on the first of 8 children.

Background History:

This vitamin was first discovered in 1897 by Christian Eijkman, a Dutch physician. He observed this while he was trying to find causes to beriberi (pronounced berry berry), a disease that can be fatal if you lack enough vitamin B1 in your body. After Eijkman, scientist Casimir Funk picked up where Eijkman had left off and in 1912 he coined the word vitamin while isolating the “anti-berberi factor.” This would eventually lead to the vitamin being named B1 as it was the first of the B vitamins to be discovered.

sources_of_vitamin_b1-compressedBasics that are not so basic:

Another common name to B1 is thiamine. This B vitamin is water soluble like the other seven B vitamins so it does not stay in our bodies and must be replenished. This vitamin is instrumental for multiple functions in our body which include converting food into energy, improving brain function, and improving our immune system. As mentioned before, without this vitamin in our bodies, it can lead to beriberi if left untreated but to other health problems as well. These health problems include fatigue, paralysis, and heart damage among other problems.

Food sources for Vitamin B1:

Some food sources that have high amounts of Thiamine include beans, lentils, nuts, beef, pork, and various grains such as cereal and oatmeal. Keep in mind that there has been some research that has found when consuming coffee and tea that Thiamine is not fully absorbed. Recommended dosages of this vitamin vary in men, women, and children based on aged. You should consult your doctor based on your individual needs.This wraps up this weeks discussion of vitamin B1.  Next week I discuss another B vitamin. If you have any questions feel free to ask away below or follow me on twitter. 

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Do you Know Your Chicken?

chicken_picture1_xlargeWelcome back! In my last blog post I discussed the differences between organic and natural foods. In this blog I will continue the discussion by talking about some other common terms used in food packaging. In particular, I will discuss the terms used to describe our chicken.

So let’s talk chicken. When eating chicken there are only a couple of different options for how your chicken can be packaged and delivered and how your chicken lived before it was packaged. In other words, you can either have fresh or frozen chicken and caged or cage-free chicken. These terms are pretty simple to understand but let’s go over them to see how well you truly understand them with a curve ball or two as well.

Fresh chicken: There is no better way to eating chicken than fresh chicken. But what I think of fresh chicken is different to how the USDA refers to it as. According to the USDA, a chicken is considered to be fresh if its temperature has never dropped below 26°F or -3°C. This is a reason why fresh chicken always has the “keep refrigerated” label.chick-1080p-desktop-wallpaper

Frozen chicken: Since we can’t always eat a fresh chicken eating frozen chicken is the next best option. Chicken is considered to be frozen if it is held below 0°F or -17°C.

Mechanically Separated Poultry: Well here is a curve ball I mentioned earlier. I like to call this the dirty bird or “wild card chicken.” This type of chicken is commonly found in canned chicken and resembles that of canned tuna. This poultry product as the USDA states is, “produced by forcing the bones with attached edible tissue through a sieve.” As you might have guessed, this is my least recommended form of eating chicken.

Caged Chicken: If you don’t know this by now chickens are used for eggs and their meat. Caged chickens are genetically modified and are confined to cages to produce eggs or are harvested for their meat. Claims are made that these caged chickens do not carry the same nutrients as cage free chickens since they are not allowed to roam.

Cage-Free Chicken: Also known as free range or free roaming chickens, cage free chickens have the ability to wander outside. At least in theory, check out what this article for further detail. What you find might make you think twice about what free-range and cage-free chicken really mean.

Hormone free chicken: USDA does not allow the use of hormones of any kind to be used in poultry so this term can be literally used to describe any and all type of chicken. So don’t be fooled by this label.

Hopefully this is helpful in selecting the right type of chicken for your next meal. I strongly believe knowing these differences can help you make the best food decision possible or at the very least it will make you more aware of the differences in your chicken. Who knows, you might actually taste some subtle differences between the different types of chickens.  Do you prefer fresh or frozen chicken? Leave your comment below and follow me on twitter.

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The Great Debate: Natural VS Organic Food

downloadWhen you go to a grocery store and you are trying to pick out a healthy meal the different terminology used on the food packaging can make this impossible. The language provided on the food packaging can make you feel like you’re reading a different language. It almost becomes a chore simply deciphering what food is healthy and which food is not. It shouldn’t be difficult knowing and understanding difference between natural and organic food. It might sound like it’s purely semantics but it’s anything but that. Knowing the differences between these words can empower you to make the right decision when buying your next set of groceries. Below I describe the terminology used in food packaging and how familiarizing yourself with these two words and how it can help you understand what the food packaging is claiming to have or not have.

Natural VS Organic

The terms I want to discuss are natural and organic. The word “natural” is an overused word when it comes to food labeling. But here is what you need to know about this word. Natural is not what we expect the term natural to be and is not so natural after all. In fact, the USDA (United States Dept. of Agriculture) defines it as, “a product containing no artificial ingredient or is minimally processed.” So for example, a potato chip manufacturer can claim they are making natural potato chips as long as they give an explanation as to why they are natural. And this can be done by simply saying minimally process or no artificial flavoring. The problem with this definition is that it isn’t a heavily regulated explanation and is displayed in far too many food products. This means that food companies can still manipulate and call their food “natural” even if it contains GMO’s, antibiotics, hormones, and pesticides.

Now the word organic has stricter requirements unlike the word natural. Organic foods must meet the requirements set out by the USDA. Organic food can fall into one of four distinct categories that I discuss below in further detail. Depending on which of the four categories, a particular organic food falls into they can be GMO, pesticide, and hormone free. A good way to think about natural and organic food is that all organic food can be natural but most natural food is not organic food. Here are the four organic categories ranked from least strict to the foods that meet the strictest organic requirements.

  1. 4colorsealgif
    USDA Organic Seal

    Less than 70% organic ingredients: With this kind of food, food manufacturers are not able to use the USDA stamp or the word organic. Instead, they can only use the word organic when describing the ingredients in the ingredient list that are organic. If the rest of the ingredients are not organic then they don’t need to follow the organic regulations.

  1. Made with organic ingredients: In this group, the USDA organic seal cannot be used and  organic food in this category must be made up of at least 70% of organic ingredients. This is what I call C type food. Would you accept a C type food knowing that you can have an A type food if it means paying a little more and having it taste better in my opinion, and doing a little bit more homework?
  1. Organic: Under this category, all ingredients must be made up of at least 95% organic ingredients which don’t include salt and water. Also foods in this category can have the USDA seal but are not required to do so. Trust me if a food company is able to put this seal on its food packaging it most likely will.
  1. 100% Organic: In order to make this claim, ALL ingredients must be certified as organic. Foods that fall into this category can use the USDA seal but are not required to do so. So if you’re eating foods that fall into this category know that you’re eating the best kind of food there is.

Hopefully, this is useful next time you are grocery shopping and you must make the decision between natural and organic. Thanks for reading my blog. Follow me on twitter or share your comments below. Did you find this helpful? 

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Vitamin Breakdown Series (Part 1: Vitamin A)


What do Vitamin A, retinol, and beta-carotene all have in common? They are all the same thing! I don’t know if you have ever had this feeling I am about to explain. It’s a feeling of receiving too much noise and clutter over the newest health claim. Specifically, I am talking about receiving constant bombardments of ads, commercials, and statements daily regarding why you should have more of a particular vitamin, mineral, or antioxidant, in your body.

Personally, it can get overwhelming. I have to admit that it can make you feel like you’re not doing anything right in regards to your diet and what you’re eating. This is why I am creating this vitamin breakdown series where weekly I will summarize all that you need to know about a particular vitamin.  My intention is to provide you with helpful information that can help you determine what vitamins, minerals, or other necessary supplements are lacking in your current diet.  This isn’t meant to be negative rant towards any particular group, community, or entity but rather as another way of delivering basic information without having an interest on what you decide to eat or not eat. So let’s get to it.

Background History:

This vitamin got its name after Elmer McCollum performed studies to determine why someGut-bacteria-to-battle-vitamin-A-deficiency-Could-probiotics-be-modified-to-produce-beta-carotene_strict_xxl essential nutrients were missing in mice and he referred to these as components as factors A and B. This would later be result in the naming this compound as vitamin A. The reason it picked up the named retinol is because of its huge impact it has on our ability to see.

Basics that are not so basic:

Vitamin A is a fat soluble vitamin which literally means it gets stored as fat throughout your tissues in your body. This a good thing because our bodies can store vitamin A for a rainy day. This storage occurs primarily in our liver but vitamin A actually gets processed in our small intestine. We should care about this vitamin because it helps with our eyesight as previously mentioned, growing healthy tissue, and keeping a healthy skin among other reasons. The bad news when it comes to vitamin A is that there is such a thing of having too much vitamin A. Having excess vitamin A can lead to hair loss, upset stomachs, and headaches among other more serious side effects down the road.

Food sources for Vitamin A:

Vitamin A is abundantly found in many fruits and vegetables. Some vegetables with high sources of vitamin A include sweet potatoes, carrots, brussel sprouts, broccoli, and spinach. Fruits with high vitamin A content include apricots, cantaloupes, mangoes, cherries, and watermelon. This gives you the perfect reason to get your vitamin A through different fruits and vegetables.  Eggs and in milk products also are good sources of vitamin A.

Hopefully you learned something about vitamin A that you might have not known already. After reading this do you think you are getting enough vitamin A? Feel free to comment below, share with your friends and family, or follow me on twitter. 

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Salts 101



The amount of salt you consume in your diet can have a significant impact on your health but not all salts are created equal. This is a very powerful and underrated chemical and hopefully you appreciate salt a bit more after this post. This book definitely impacted and showed me the importance of salt. Currently, there are different salts out there and determining which salt to use and its benefits can be helpful when it comes time to incorporating it in your meals. Here is a small guide on the salts.

Table Salt: Another common name to this type of salt is iodized salt. This is perhaps the most commonly used salt and it’s one of the more processed salts out there. The reason for this is because like other salts, iodine, is added to this salt. If this particular salt is taken in large doses can be very detrimental to your health. So incorporate this salt into your diet in minimal amounts.

Kosher Salt: This is another commonly used salt that is another alternative to table salt. This is salt is commonly sold in a larger grain size but it does not include iodine like table salt. This salt offers great flexibility and is often used as ordinary salt or to cure meats.

Sea Salt: As the name implies, this salt gets its name from being evaporated from the sea. This salt is available both in coarse or fine grain and can be used for just about every meal. In comparison to table salt, this salt offers more minerals as it tends to be unrefined therefore making it a better choice than just plain table salt.

Rock Salt: Any salt that has been mined from salt deposits is coined as rock salt. This salt is sold in large quantities and can be found at your local hardware stores. This salt is often used in to dissolve ice during the winter. sea-salts

Himalayan Salt: This salt is often seen as a pink salt due to the iron oxide it contains and can be used for any type of dishes. It also is used as a bath salt. This salt tends to have more texture than most salts and often comes in a coarse grain.

Colored Salts: There are a variety of salts that have different colors that include red, black, blue, and grey salt. These salts get their respective color from other elements contained within each salt. These have a diverse origin that range from Hawaiian islands to parts of India. These salts very in flavor and can be used for different dishes including salads

I have briefly given a description about the most common salts out there. There are other salts such as smoked salt, flavored salts, fluer de sel, and flake salt that I didn’t mention that are also widely used in different parts of the world.  Faeries finest provides great additional information on other widely used salts. Each salt adds something different and can be used for different purposes. Do you have a preference in the salt you use? Feel free to leave your comments below. 

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