An Apple Versus A Doughnut: How Science Helps Me Avoid Junk Food

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Back when I started studying to become certified as a Personal Trainer, I came across an article that sparked something in me.

Ever have that feeling? Have you ever read something or saw something or heard something that struck a chord in you or resonated with you in such a way that you never looked at anything the same way again?

Yeah, for me, with regards to junk food, it was this article.

Now, I’ll be the first to tell you I hate science. I’ve never had a knack for understanding science, math, chemistry, pretty much anything with numbers and letters. 😉 But food? I understand food.

So when I read this article, I remember thinking it was a tad too “science-y” and so I had to read it about 3 or 4 times to truly get it. For those of you who aren’t into this whole biology thing, I have summarized the main takeaways. My point with today’s post is that perhaps those of you who are addicted to things like donuts and all around crappy foods and can’t seem to stop, maybe if you READ or UNDERSTAND how these foods differ, you’ll be more likely to make the healthier choice.

  1. An apple contains good nutrients like Vitamin C but also has calcium, phosphorus, iron, Vitamin A and a healthy dose of potassium. An apple skin contains a compound called quercetin, a powerful antioxidant that reduces cardiovascular risk.  The flavonoids and phytochemicals that it contains seem to help fight against cancer. AND the skin contains lots of fiber, which helps to improve bowel function and reduced cholesterol absorption. Woohoo! Lots of good stuff right??
  2. A doughnut contains none of these nutrients.
  3. The doughnut is loaded with saturated fats, trans fats and refined sugar and is largely devoid of any nutritional value, other than energy, which it has in abundance.
  4. The digestion process of the doughnut is quite lengthier than the apple. Healthier fats generally are absorbed via the liver, whereas saturated and trans fats pass through the villi and are converted into triglycerides, the main form of fat storage in the body. They are also coated in cholesterol (from the liver) and hence the fats in a doughnut will raise the bad (LDL) cholesterol and reduce the good (HDL) component.
  5. Trans fats do even more damage. They have been shown to wreak havoc with the body’s ability to regulate cholesterol and massively increase your risk of heart disease. They also get into the outer lining of our cells, causing them to harden.
  6. We shouldn’t be too harsh on the doughnut, some of their trans-fat containing friends are deep fried foods, such as French fries, cakes, cookies, biscuits, some breads (especially croissants and pastries), processed foods (especially pies, sausage rolls etc), snack foods (potato chips, some muesli bars) and margarine.

I would be lying if I said I haven’t had a doughnut since reading this post back in 2008. But I can honestly say I know I have had 3 in the past 7 years. Why? When I was presented with the option of having one, I ALWAYS remember this article. Like I said in the beginning, it was one that resonated with me. Maybe it will make an impact with you or someone you know that you think MIGHT take Doughnut Sunday at church just a little too far. 😉

As for the progress that’s been made since this article came out, the USA has taken steps to ban trans fats in most foods so it’s not as popular as before. But you can bet not ALL those popular doughnut chains are trans-fat free. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration allows companies to round down to 0 g in its nutrition facts label even if the food contains as much as 0.5 of a gram per serving. Some popular donut companies use the words “Trans Fat Free!” in their advertising legally even though they DO in fact, contain trans fats.

That’s just an FYI for you. I’m not the food police but trans fats are not something anyone should be eating on the regular. If you care about your body and your health, take the time to research what you’re eating.

In good health,

Michelle

P.S. I recently did a consult with a woman who found me through my other blog that has little to do with fitness. In case you wanted to read what truly matters to me, you can read my ramblings there too.

Holiday Treats Healthified & Survival Guide

During my nutrition lecture I hosted yesterday, I baked a few recipes for my clients to try and these were all big hits.  I literally just searched for these on Pinterest.

Interesting things to note:

  • I made my own almond flour in my Vitamix blender by putting a little over a cup of almonds in there.  Just had to be careful to make sure I didn’t put it up too high or else turn it into almond butter. 🙂
  • I purchased coconut flour ages ago and finally found recipes to try them out on.
  • This was the first time I purchased and used coconut sugar – I will definitely be using it again.
  • The roasted banana and sweet potato mash tastes better the day after and tastes good cold OR steamy hot.  I spoke to someone who said they used orange peel and orange juice instead of the banana to make “mashed” sweet potatoes.

All the attendants of the nutritional lecture walked away with a “Survival Guide” for the day before, day of, and day after a holiday celebration.  It’s a great way to be held accountable, you can even email me afterwards to let me know how you did!  If you’d like to purchase this 3 -day plan you may email me at FromFitToFigure@gmail.com for a price for this download.  I’m always happy to share the knowledge!

In the meantime – enjoy these recipes!

Roasted Banana and Sweet Potato Mash – SkinnyMom.com

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Ingredients

  • • 3 medium sweet potatoes – cooked and peeled
  • • 2 large bananas, ripe
  • • 3/4 cup coconut milk
  • • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375.
  2. Roast bananas for 10 minutes–then let cool.
  3. Mix together the potatoes, bananas, spices, coconut milk and mash until desired consistency.
  4. Serve immediately. (This is also great for baby food!)

Apple Coconut CrispDeliciousByDre.com

applecoconutcrisp.dbd_.pin_

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs of apples (i used 2 honeycrisps–yep, one pound each…now that’s a real apple!)
  • 1/2 cup (56 grams) organic coconut flour
  • 1/2 cup (50 grams) almond flour (make your own!)
  • 1/2 cup gluten free oats (*paleo substitution* use 1/2 c chopped pecans or slivered almonds)
  • 2/3 cup coconut sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp all spice
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/3 cup organic coconut oil
  • 2 tbsp organic flax seed
  • 2 tbsp egg whites
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tbsp agave (optional)

Instructions

  1. preheat oven to 375
  2. core and slice apples (i used an apple corer, peeler, slicer i found for 10 bucks!)
  3. toss apples with a light sprinkle of cinnamon before placing in 8×11 (ish) glass dish
  4. optional lightly drizzle 1 tbsp organic agave over the apples in the dish (gives a more caramelized taste/effect without using brown sugar!)
  5. separately, mix the egg whites and the flax seed together and let sit until needed
  6. add all remaining dry ingredients together in a bowl and mix up with a fork
  7. next add melted coconut oil and vanilla along with the egg white & flax mixture
  8. mix together with fork until it creates a nice crumble
  9. spread evenly across the apples in the dish until completely covered and put in the oven to bake for 30 minutes.
  10. once finished, let cool for at least another 30 minutes or so.

Notes

**i recommend covering this dish lightly and storing in the refrigerator (if there’s any left over!) sealing it tightly will cause the crumble to absorb the moisture of the apples and it will no longer be crispy!

The World’s Healthiest Cookie – FoodieFiasco.com

These are bite sized! Teeny tiny bites!
These are bite sized! Teeny tiny bites!

Nutritional Info

*Update: There has been some question about the nutritional info, and for clarification, these having only 6 calories each is based upon a bite-sized cookie. If you only make 8 cookies out of this recipe to make them more traditional sized, they will have about 15 calories each.

Per bite based on 16 bites

Calories: 6 (about 8 or 9 with chocolate chips)

Fat: <0.5 grams

Ingredients

2 Tablespoon coconut flour

2 Tablespoon mashed banana or applesauce (I prefer banana. Personally, I think applesauce gives them too much of an apple-y taste. That’s just me.)

pinch salt

stevia or other sweetener, to taste

1/8 teaspoon baking powder

3 Tablespoon almond milk, or milk of choice

chocolate chips

Directions

Preheat oven to 350F.

In a small bowl, mix coconut flour, baking powder, and salt. Add in masked banana or applesauce and stir. Add in almond milk, one tablespoon at a time until fully incorporated. Stir in chocolate chips. Drop dough by tablespoon or teaspoon, depending on how big you want them, on a parchment lined baking sheet.  I used a silicone mat. Flatten the dough into cookie shapes.Bake in the oven at 350F for 10 minutes. Let cool before scarfing them all down.

Crustless Pumpkin Pie – Food.com

crustlesspie

Ingredients

    • 1 1/2 cups fresh pumpkin or 1 (15 ounce) cans pumpkin puree
    • 3 eggs
    • 3/4 cup Splenda Sugar Blend for Baking ( see NOTE)
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
    • 1/4 teaspoon cloves or 1 3/4 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
    • 3/4 cup heavy cream or 3/4 cup light cream

Directions

  1. Mix all ingredients together.
  2. Pour into a well sprayed pie pan.
  3. Bake at 350′ for 30 to 40 minutes.
  4. NOTE: DO NOT use Splenda packets

Coconut Flour Chocolate Chip Banana Cookies – DitchtheWheat.com

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Yield: Makes 18 medium sized cookies.

Ingredients

  • 1 fresh ripe large banana, (200 grams)
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin coconut oil, (slightly warmed for easier mixing. Room temperature)
  • 3 tbsp coconut flour, sifted
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp cream of tartar
  • 1/8 tsp baking soda
  • 1/8 tsp sea salt
  • 1/8 -1/4 cup of chocolate chips

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 F. Line a baking pan with parchment paper.
  2. Using a mixing machine combine the banana and the egg. Slowly add the coconut oil (coconut oil must not be hot or it will cook the egg. You just need to the coconut oil slightly warmed enough to mix smoothly). Add the coconut flour, vanilla, cream of tartar, baking soda and sea salt. Mix until smooth. Lastly add the chocolate chips.
  3. Using a spoon, drop 1 inch balls of batter onto the baking tray leaving space between each cookie. Use the back of the spoon to smooth the cookies to a flat cookie shape. *The cookies will not naturally flatten, you must do this manually.
  4. Bake for 40 minutes.