I take my health and nutrition very seriously. That being said, I also love my comfort foods! One of the most daunting and even downright spooky parts of changing my diet years ago was the thought of having to give up the things I loved. My cheat junk foods.
The awesome news is that I have found some much better alternatives to some of the things that I had to take out of my diet. These healthier junk foods taste incredible, but without at least some of the negatives that their unhealthier counterparts contain. This page is dedicated to sharing with you some of my favorites. Most are organic, gluten-free, lower in carbs/sugars and keto safe.
These are now staples in my house. I know that there will be times in my life when I need to cave and indulge in some yummy treats. Having them around keeps me from going even deeper into the dark side of some really unhealthy stuff. Check them out and let me know what you think!
MY FAVORITE HEALTHY “ISH” JUNK FOODS:
Most of these foods can be found in your local health food store. They are also available online at sites like Vitacost or Amazon (links are to Amazon).
Lesser Evil Organic Paleo Puffs: These delicious treats are made with quality, simple and nutritious ingredients – lower glycemic cassava root, sweet potato, coconut oil, Himalayan salt. They are baked not fried and come in a variety of flavors, including Salt ‘N Apple Cider Vinegar, Himalayan Pink Salt, “No Cheese” Cheesiness and Fiery Hot (these last two taste a bit like Cheetos). All of them are super tasty! The brand Lesser Evil makes some other great products as well, like their Veggie Sticks.
Siete Grain Free Tortilla Chips: These are a fantastic replacement for standard corn chips. They are light and crunchy. Two big benefits: first, they use primarily lower glycemic gluten-free cassava flour instead of corn. Cassava is grain free, paleo friendly, a pre-biotic, and packed with nutrition. Second, they are fried in avocado oil instead of the highly inflammatory industrial seed vegetable oils most chips are fried in (which should be avoided at all costs!). They are deep-fried, so still not quite a health food but a much better alternative when you feel like you just can’t go without some chips.
Quinn Paleo-friendly Pretzel Chips: Grain-free and gluten-free pretzels that actually deliver on great taste. They are very crunchy and great with dips. Made with cassava flour, a root vegetable. Baked and topped with rock salt.
Lesser Evil Organic Buddha Bowl Popcorn: A great popcorn that uses coconut oil instead of the highly inflammatory industrial seed vegetable oils most popcorn brands use (which should be avoided at all costs!). Very nice taste.
Birch Benders Paleo Pancake & Waffle Mix: I’m addicted to this stuff! Their Cassava-root base delivers delicious, grain-free, low-glycemic, low carb, pre-biotic nutrition with the fluffy texture of traditional recipes, with almond and coconut flours adding fiber, protein, a hint of natural sweetness. Low carb and keto-friendly. I like to mix in some frozen blueberries or dark chocolate chips to the mix before cooking.
Birch Benders Paleo Toaster Waffles: These are pre-made, light and fluffy, and so incredible. You can find these pre-made frozen waffles at many health food stores, including Whole Foods.
Simple Mills Almond Flour Pumpkin Bread or Muffin Mix: Love this mix. I’m a pumpkin freak, so hits my sweet spot. Lightly sweet and delicious.
Hu Hunks Vegan Chocolate Covered Cashews with Vanilla Bean: These chocolate-covered cashews are off the charts good! They contain organic cacao, unrefined organic coconut sugar, organic fair-trade cocoa butter, vanilla bean and sea salt. It’s that simple.
Absolutely Gluten Free Original Crackers: These are my favorite gluten-free crackers. they are made with tapioca and potato starch but taste shockingly like a classic wheat flour cracker. Wouldn’t call these the absolute healthiest choice, but very tasty if you insist on a better alternative.
UNREAL Dark Chocolate Coconut Bars: These are delicious for when I just think I can’t live without a little candy. Taste surprisingly like Mounds candy bars. They have three simple ingredients: Organic Coconut, Organic Cassava Syrup & Dark Chocolate. Only 3 grams of sugar. UNREAL makes other good alternative candy that tastes and looks like some of your favorites but are lower in sugar and other bad ingredients.
These are just some of my favorites, you can find a lot more like this at your local health food store.
Healthy food and lifestyle choices are more than virtuous practices. They are often the magic key to keeping our body running in its optimal and precision-tuned natural state of wellness. The poor choices we make are frequently the driving force behind our body’s undue degradation, far more than most people realize.
The encouraging news that I’m excited to share with you in this book is that vibrant and enlivening health are well within reach. Good food is medicine. Weaving the four nutritional pillars in this book into your life can help create substantial healing for your body and get you back into the shape in which you can thrive. This will inevitably lead to a more fulfilling and energetic life. And, I believe, it’s one of the ultimate acts of self-love.
Rather than write an exhaustive overview of nutrition and all the things we could do to be healthier, I have distilled the nutrition steps in this book down to the four most highly leveraged and important “pillars” for good health. Even those of you with a crazy busy modern life can implement some of these steps and start to improve. Every step you take, even small ones, make a difference. There is plenty within to get you on a great path to feel amazing!
These tips can help you:
- Prevent disease and in some cases reverse,
- balance weight without worrying much about calories (eat plenty of the good stuff!),
- generate more energy and vitality,
- improve blood sugar and cholesterol,
- shed or reduce longstanding body aches and pains,
- clear up foggy-headedness,
- create vibrant skin,
- improve your mood,
- help you sleep better, and more…
We all have unhealthy junk foods we know we shouldn’t eat, but it can seem we just can’t help ourselves sometimes.
Over the years, as I’ve taken on healthy eating more seriously, I felt like I had to find some alternatives that would still allow me to feel like I was indulging in favorite treats, but without as many negative consequences. Thankfully, I discovered many fun and delicious alternatives to my favorites (corn chips and pastries at the top of the list).
The items listed below are a few of my favorite healthier cheat foods. They are all very tasty, paleo friendly, gluten free and on the healthier side compared to mainstream options. You can find more on my Favorite Foods Shopping List on my website.
They are linked to Amazon if you want to try some out. You can also find most of these items at a local health food store, like Whole Foods, or better yet a locally owned facility.
SNACKS & APPETIZERS:
Siete Grain Free Tortilla Chips: These are AMAZING! So light and crispy. Tastes surprisingly like corn chips. They are made from Cassava and fried in Avocado oil. Both are much better for you than other chips made with cheap industrial seed vegetable oils which are rancid and toxic.
Sweet Potato Chips or Blue Corn Chips: Jackson’s Honest chips are fried in coconut oil, which is a better option than cheap vegetable oils.
Mary’s Crackers: These are gluten free and relatively clean ingredients if you want a crackery snack. They have many flavors. Crunchy and nice.
Coconut Almond Butter: by Maranatha. This is so tasty! Creamy and delicious. A blend of almond butter with coconut cream. One of my favorite treats is a tablespoon of it.
These are lower glycemic load “carb” alternatives that won’t wreak as much havoc on your body as many refined flours. You can bake with these or use them for a number of cooking needs. They taste great! They are paleo friendly and gluten free. You should still be mindful about how much you indulge.
Paleo Pancake and Waffle Mix by Birch Benders. This mix is sooo good. Totally hits my need for occasional pancakes, without the giant carb hit.
Cassava Flour by Otto’s Naturals: This flour is made from Yucca root. Another great alternative baking flour that is a staple in low glycemic non-wheat flour baking.
Bob’s Almond Flour: so great for baking. Makes yummy chocolate chip cookies (see my recipe)!
Cassava and Coconut Flour Tortilla’s by Siete. These taste good and are a great alternative for those that really want some kind of carb alternative for wraps or other uses. I love to use them with enchiladas and tacos.
Again, you can find more on my Favorite Foods Shopping List on my website. I’d love to hear what your favorite healthier cheats are, respond to this email and let me know! I’m always on the lookout for more good stuff.
I know how much many of us love the handiness of non-stick coated pans. They don’t require as much greasing, and they are easier to clean up. Unfortunately though, while handy, the substances used to make most of the nonstick cookware you find in stores have been shown to also give off toxins that are not good for us, and they pollute our water supplies and environment. Some of these toxins are in a class called “PFAS” and they don’t easily break down, and can persist in your body and in the environment for decades.
There are some toxins that are released from cooking with non-stick cookware on too high a heat. These noxious gases, when released, are particularly potent and problematic.
But even at so-called “proper temperatures,” nonstick cookware can create problems, leaching chemicals into your foods as they cook, or if you accidentally scrape off some of the material when stirring.
Animal studies have shown that the base chemicals used to make Teflon, one of the most commonly used nonstick materials, can cause:
- growth defects,
- liver damage,
- immune system damage, and
- have even caused death in lab rats and monkeys.
An EPA advisory panel also reports it as a “likely carcinogen” in humans.
The good news is there are some non-stick coatings that look more promising. One is made by a company called Scanpan. They make a full line of pans that uses a whole new coating technique that they call GreenTek, which allows them to bond the nonstick surface without using the noxious chemicals known to be of greatest concern. Their classic line uses a titanium ceramic surface that can even withstand metal cooking utensils. They are made from 100% recycled materials. I use their pans and LOVE them. They are a bit pricey but very sturdy and long-lasting.
Best Cooking Materials
While Scanpan looks promising, we know what the best non-toxic materials are, they include: stainless steel, enamel, ceramic, glass, and cast iron. These are non-toxic options that should be your main staples for cooking. A little olive or avocado oil at medium heat will do just fine to help lubricate the pans for food!
Good-quality, whole food based fats are essential to our existence and an important part of a healthy diet.
My generation grew up hearing a major fallacy. We were told that eating fat made you overweight and sick. Because of this, so many people are scared of eating fat in their diets. But this has been a long, falsely perpetuated misconception, at least where healthy fat is concerned. And the science is now proving it.
Healthy fats provide fuel and energy for the body’s proper functioning and can have many additional health benefits:
- Lowers your risk of heart disease and stroke,
- Reduces unwanted inflammation and blood pressure,
- Decreases bad LDL cholesterol levels, while increasing good HDL,
- Promotes healthy functioning of the brain and nervous system,
- Balances metabolism and helps establish healthy weight,
- Required for the absorption of some critical vitamins, the essential fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K.
Now, here’s a big caveat. Highly processed, easily oxidizable, and inflammatory industrial vegetable seed oils, which we’ve been told for decades are so much better for us, are actually a big villain and should be avoided. See the list below.
So, which specific fats are good and not good?
Whole food sources like avocados, olives, nuts, seeds, and even quality animal-based fats can all be part of a healthy diet.
Oils should be attained through expeller-pressed methods, in which the oil is extracted from the nut or seed in one step, relying on force. Unlike toxic chemical processing, expeller-pressed oils are safe and provide a nourishing food. The industrial vegetable seed oils, though, are typically extracted through chemical processes, often using toxic substances.
Another key risk of consuming bad industrial seed fats occurs because of a process called oxidation. Oxidation is a disaster for the body, and another main driver of diseases, including heart disorders, cancer, and strokes. This is one reason that most vegetable oils are a problem. The bad ones oxidize easily.
The good news is, by replacing bad fats with healthier ones, you’re not having to cut something succulent out of your diet. Instead, you’re simply swapping it with a form of fat that is much healthier and actually tastes better. It’s a win-win!
Best Types of Fats and Oils to Use:
(Diversity is important, so mix it up and get a variety each day.)
- Olive Oil (always extra virgin, cold-pressed)
- Avocado Oil
- Coconut Oil (virgin)
- Tallow and Lard (from good sources, like grass-fed animals)
- Butter and Ghee (Clarified Butter) (grass-fed is best)
- Palm Oil (sustainably sourced)
- Smaller amounts of cold- or expeller-pressed, unrefined nut and seed oils, such as macadamia, walnut, and sesame. Flax, chia, and hemp are also considered to be decent sources.
- Full-Fat Dairy. For those that can tolerate dairy, this can be a good source. (Organic, grass-fed sources are best.)
- Quality, Grass-Fed Animal Fats.
Fats and Oils to Avoid:
(Almost all processed foods contain one form or another of these toxic fats.)
- Sesame (unless used cold-pressed in things like salad dressing, but never in processed foods or to cook with)
- Most non-stick cooking sprays (some new companies are using avocado or coconut oils, which may be better)
- Anything labeled “Vegetable Oil,” “Shortening,” or with words “Hydrogenated” or “Trans Fat” on label.
There are so many benefits to getting enough healthy fat in your diet. Though it’s important to note that even with healthy fats, you want to make sure you reduce your sugar and refined carbohydrates (breads and pastas) in conjunction with eating more good amounts of fat. They do not make a good combination in excess.
Three of the best alternatives are stevia, monk fruit, and allulose.
- Coconut Sugar
- Maple Syrup
- Maple Sugar
- Raw Honey
It’s important to skip the bad stuff!
When it comes to the topic of dietary fat, we’ve been sold a mountain of falsehoods over the past decades. The fats we were told were good, like industrial seed vegetable oils1, are actually largely toxic and can cause disease, while healthy fats can help protect against it. The good whole-food based fats, even quality saturated fats2, are an important part of a healthy diet.
We were told that eating fat made you fat and we heard little about sugar and refined carbs’ role in weight gain (or disease). The evidence is now clear though: Good fat is crucial to thriving health and the real triggers for weight gain are often sugar, refined carbs and bad fats.3 4 The healthy fats you eat in your diet, are not the same thing as stored fat in your body. There is a whole other set of mechanisms at play to trigger fat storage, and that fat storage is often born of glucose (sugar).
Having enough quality fats in your daily diet actually tends to increase metabolism and leads to sustained weight management. It’s important for most people to get enough quality fat when trying to manage weight. Our body needs nutritional caloric satiation to function properly. When you try to lose weight simply by calorie restriction, it actually reduces metabolism. It’s important to eat enough good fats so that your body isn’t overly stressed and can perform its key functions well.
Fat was also supposed to be the big cause of heart disease and a number of other health conditions. When it comes to healthy fats, the exact opposite is true. By depriving ourselves of the good fats we need, we’ve shifted towards needing to eat and burn sugar and carbs for energy, which are literally killing us!
Healthy fats are calorically very nutrient dense. They feed the body far more per calorie than carbs/sugar. Therefore, you get a much better bang for the buck and are able to satiate yourself more than you can with carbs/sugar. You have to eat a lot more carbs/sugar for your body to get the energy it needs to run than you do with fat. This is a particularly important point for those who are trying to manage their weight.
Now as I said earlier, there’s a big caveat. Highly processed and easily oxidizable and inflammatory industrial seed vegetable oils, which we’ve been told for decades are so much better for us, are actually a big villain. We’re talking canola, soy, corn, safflower, sunflower, the so-called “safe fats.” These oils are extracted through chemical processes, often using toxic substances.
Alternatively, good quality fats are essential to our existence. Here we are talking about:
- sustainably sourced palm oil,
- nuts and seeds,
- quality animal fats (grass-fed in particular),
- egg yolks,
- butter and ghee (yup, I said butter).
These are whole-food based fats. When not eating a whole food source, independent oils attained should be through expeller pressed methods, which, unlike toxic chemical processing, are safe and provide a nourishing food.
The good news is, by bringing in more healthy fats and replacing the bad, you don’t have to stop eating or cut something out of your diet, you’re simply swapping it with a form of fat that is much healthier and actually tastes even better. So it’s a win, win!
You want your fat stores to be of the utmost quality. The industrial seed oils that are often oxidized before you even use them, work against your body in a myriad of ways. Source quality is always critical! You are what you eat.
Most people find that when they shift to a diet that burns more fat for energy instead of glucose, body weight quickly stabilizes and energy is gained. Fat and glucose burn differently in the body. In most cases, good fat actually speeds up our metabolism. And it’s a more sustainable source of fuel for prolonged energy.
Oxidization is not our friend:
A key risk of consuming bad fats occurs because of a process called oxidation.5 Oxidation is a disaster for the body, and another main driver of disease, including: heart disorders, cancer and strokes. This is one reason that most vegetable oils are a problem. The bad ones oxidize easily.
Oxidation is damage caused by oxygen. It’s like when apples or bananas turn brown from air exposure. This happens with fats too, and it’s essentially what happens inside your body when you eat oxidized oils. It’s kind of like rusting on the inside. The ensuing “oxidative stress” creates “free radicals” that are inflammatory and can damage your body. Most of the bad and highly refined vegetable oils listed above cause great risk of this happening inside you.
Fried foods from industrial seed vegetable oils, leave your cells and arteries looking just like the fried foods — rugged, crusty, torn. They disable cells functioning in the short term, and ultimately destroy healthy cells, causing heart attacks and strokes. This process is also how oxidation fries arteries! While eating food fried in these bad oils is the worst of the worst, eating the oils themselves generally does the same thing over time. Eating fried foods from these oils is one of the very worst things you can do to yourself. It creates both short term damage and suffering as well as dire consequences in the long term. (You can fry your own foods in certain oils; see below for more details).
Trans & Hydrogenated Fat:
This type of fat that is now universally understood to be toxic and linked directly to coronary artery disease is called trans fat, or hydrogenated fat. Transfats and hydrogenated or even partially-hydrogenated oils are highly processed foods, typically made from industrial seed vegetable oils. They are created this way through processing, so that they can be more “shelf stable” and thus cheaper and easier to produce and store. These fats should be avoided at all times. Be mindful, even when your label says “0” trans fats, it can still include some as it allows for .5 grams or under to be listed as “0”. The more processed foods you eat with these bad oils, the more the grams will add up. ANY amount will do damage.
The lesson here: ditch the margarine and bring back the butter!
Learn much more about fats and other crucial dietary steps, by downloading my free guide “Your Path to Vibrant Health.”
Learn more about fat from the experts: For those interested (or who need more convincing), you can really geek out on the various types of fat our body needs, and those it doesn’t. There are so many roles fat plays in thriving health. If you are interested in learning more, I’d highly suggest reading the work of Dr. Mark Hyman and/or Dr. Catherine Shanahan. Google their names along with the word “fat” for a myriad of informative articles and videos. Here are a couple of good ones:
Dr. Hyman: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xgWBKJsJtk0
Dr. Shanahan: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YbpX41oCi1M&t=508s (this one’s really only for those who want to geek out on the deep science, it’s in-depth but fascinating.)
Ever since I changed my eating habits towards a much healthier lower carb, lower sugar paleo style diet, I’ve been looking for occasional dessert treats that are healthier but still delicious and satisfying. I’ve found some nice chocolate chip cookie recipes over the years, but I’ve finally perfected one myself that I really love!
This is a mouth watering treat. The cookies are soft and tender on the inside, flaky on the outside. They’re not overly sweet, but hit just the perfect spot.
The base in these cookies is almond flour/meal. The good news about this flour is that it has about 1/3 the carbs that wheat does. Wheat clocks in over 75 grams per cup vs. about 22g for almond flour. Let’s not be too crazy by calling this a full-on health food, but it’s certainly a healthier alternative for the occasional treat. Try them out!
Delicious Chocolate Chip Spice Cookies
(Lower-carb, Gluten Free, Egg Free, Dairy Free*, Paleo Friendly)
Prep time: 10 minutes. Cook Time: 10 minutes.
Organic and grass-fed ingredients always preferred.
2 cups almond flour or meal (blanched preferred, any will do)
1/4 cup butter, ghee or *coconut oil (your choice)
3 Tablespoons pure maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
1. Preheat oven to 350F.
2. Whisk together all the dry ingredients in a medium bowl.
3. Add in pre-softened or melted oil/butter, maple syrup and vanilla extract. Mix thoroughly.
4. Fold in chocolate chips.
5. Spoon out a rounded tablespoon sized amount. Roll and lightly compress in your hands. Place on a cookie sheet with parchment paper (optional) and gently flatten out.
6. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until the outside edges turn golden brown. Let sit for about 10 minutes and enjoy!
I recently added something to my scrambled eggs that you might think crazy, but it was sooo GOOD! I added blueberries.
Might sound awful, it did to me when I heard about it last week, but it is pretty amazing.
Pasture raised eggs are already a great source of choline, b vitamins, good fat, protein and more – they really are a super-food. Add in the blueberries for a powerful burst of antioxidants to kick off the day. Be bold, try it out! I’d love to know what you think.
Here’s how I did it:
3 pasture raised organic free range eggs
1/2 cup of frozen or fresh organic blueberries
1 Tablespoon of grassfed ghee or butter
Splash of coconut milk (or substitute)
Put you ghee/butter (I used both) and blueberries into a pan on medium heat and let them soften for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Mix together your eggs and coconut milk in a separate dish, then pour into your pan. I use a small whisk and stir constantly until desired consistency. Eat and enjoy!