Ultra-processed foods are harmful for our health — here’s why

Junk Food

In countries such as the UK, US, and Canada, ultra-processed foods now account for 50 percent or more of calories consumed. This is concerning, given that these foods have been linked to a number of different health conditions, including a greater risk of obesity and various chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease and dementia.

Ultra-processed foods are concoctions of various industrial ingredients (such as emulsifiers, thickeners, and artificial flavors) amalgamated into food products by a series of manufacturing processes.

The intense industrial processes used to produce ultra-processed foods destroy the natural structure of the food ingredients and strip away many beneficial nutrients such as fiber, vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals.

Many of us are well aware that ultra-processed foods are harmful to our health. But it’s been unclear if this is simply because these foods are of poor nutritional value. Now, two new studies have shown that poor nutrition may not be enough to explain their health risks. This suggests that other factors may be needed to fully explain their health risks.

The role of inflammation

The first study, which looked at over 20,000 healthy Italian adults, found that participants who consumed the highest number of ultra-processed foods had an increased risk of dying prematurely from any cause. The second study, which looked at over 50,000 US male health professionals, found high consumption of ultra-processed foods was associated with a greater risk of colon cancer.

What’s most interesting about these studies is that the health risks from eating a diet high in ultra-processed foods remained even after they had accounted for the poor nutritional quality of their diets. This suggests that other factors contribute to the harm caused by ultra-processed foods.

It also implies that getting the right nutrients elsewhere in the diet may not be enough to cancel out the risk of disease from consuming ultra-processed foods. Similarly, attempts by the food industry to improve the nutritional value of ultra-processed foods by adding a few more vitamins may be side-stepping a more fundamental problem with these foods.

Cauliflower Rice

Cauliflower Rice
Serving Size  : 4    
  1/2          heads  organic cauliflower
  1              whole  onion — diced
  1 1/2      tablespoons  butter
  1             tablespoon  garlic granules
  1/2         tablespoon  thyme
                  salt and pepper

Sauté onion in butter until golden.

Place florets in bowl of food processor in batches. Process until evenly chopped but not completely pulverized.

Remove rice to a large bowl and continue processing florets in batches until all florets are “riced”.

Heat butter in pan over medium high heat and add cauliflower rice. Fry it, with onions, garlic powder, thyme, salt and pepper for about 4 or 5 minutes, stirring gently, often to keep it from sticking.

Chocolate Brownie Cookies


Chocolate Brownie Cookies

Serving Size  : 50   

1/4     cup  all-purpose flour
1/4      teaspoon  baking powder
1/8     teaspoon  salt
2         large  eggs
2/3     cup  sugar
1/2     tablespoon  brewed espresso
1         teaspoon  vanilla extract
2         tablespoons  unsalted butter
5         ounces  extra-bittersweet chocolate — chopped
2         ounces  unsweetened chocolate — chopped
3/4     cup  mini chocolate chips

1)  Preheat oven to 375°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

2)  In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

3)  In the bowl of an electric mixer, briefly whip the eggs to break them up. Add the sugar, espresso, and vanilla and beat on high speed for 15 minutes, until thick.

4)  While the eggs are whipping, place the butter in the top of a double boiler, or in a small metal bowl suspended over a pot of simmering (not boiling) water, and scatter the extra-bittersweet and unsweetened chocolate on top. Heat until the butter and chocolate melt. Remove the boiler top from over the water and stir the chocolate and butter until smooth.

5)  Gently fold the chocolate mixture into the egg mixture until partially combined (there should still be some streaks). Add the flour mixture to the batter and carefully fold it in. Fold in the chocolate chips.Chill the batter in the freezer for a half hour.

6)  Drop the batter by heaping teaspoonfuls onto the prepared baking sheets and bake until puffed and cracked, 8 to 9 minutes. Cool on a wire rack before removing from the baking sheets.

Variation;  Substitute 1/2 cup chopped toasted nuts or dried sour cherries for an equal amount of the chocolate chips.

Awesome Fudgy Brownies!


Two clients called to tell me today that the Brownies we delivered today were perfect!!   Wahhooo!!

These brownies have the best flaky, crunchy tops of any brownie I’ve ever made, the coffee adds depth of flavor and the blueberries help hold the moisture!

Here the recipe;

Serving Size  : 12   

1/2   cup  unsalted butter — melted
1 3/8 cups  granulated sugar
1     cup  chocolate chips
2     tablespoons dried coffee
1/4   teaspoon  baking soda
1/3   teaspoon  salt
1 1/3 tablespoons  water
1 1/3 teaspoons  vanilla extract
2 2/3 eggs
3/8   teaspoon  xanthan gum
3/4   cups  sweet rice flour
1/2      cup tapioca flour
1/4   teaspoon xanthan gum
1 1/3 cups  blueberries

1)  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2)  Butter a 8×8 glass pan

3)  Pour the butter into the bowl of a stand mixer. Add the sugar and cocoa powder and beat until smooth and almost creamy.

4)  Add the salt, water, and vanilla. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing in between each addition.

5)  Add the rice flour blend, baking soda, coffee crystals and blueberries and mix well. The batter will be thick.

6)  Use a sturdy spatula to spread batter in the prepared 8×8 pan. Bake for 30-35 minutes until toothpick inserted comes out clean.

7)  Let cool, then cut into 2? squares. Try really hard to not eat them all yourself.

Or you can order them from Beyond-Paleo.com!

Coffee, Cinnamon and Hazelnut Cakes


Coffee, Cinnamon and Hazelnut Cakes

Serving Size  : 8

1/2      cup  sweet rice flour
1/4      cup tapioca flour
3/4      cup  hazelnuts
3/4      cup  sugar
3/4      teaspoon  baking powder
3/4      teaspoon  ground cinnamon
1/8      teaspoon  salt
3          large  eggs
1 1/2  teaspoons  vanilla extract
3          tablespoons  butter
3          teaspoons  instant coffee

Preheat oven to 350F.

1)  Butter iron muffin tin.

2)  In the bowl of a food processor, combine flour, hazelnuts, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon and salt and whizz until hazelnuts are finely ground. Add in eggs and vanilla extract and whisk pulse until batter is smooth.

3)  In a small microwave-safe bowl, melt the butter. Add in instant coffee powder and stir to dissolved. Add coffee=melted butter mixture to the batter and pulse until butter is completely incorporated.

4)  Divide batter evenly into prepared muffin cups.

5)  Bake for 18-22 minutes, until the cakes spring back when lightly touched and a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean.

6)  Take cakes out of the muffin pan and allow to cool on a wire rack

7)  When ready to serve, invert cakes onto a plate and remove their wrappers. Cakes can be served at room temperature or slightly warmed.

Ethiopian Chicken Stew (Doro Wot)

A guest gifted me with some Berbere a few years ago and I began exploring Ethiopian foods.  When the Berbere ran out I began making my own- the recipe is below.

Serving Size  : 4    

  4           teaspoon  ghee
  2 1/2   teaspoon  minced ginger
  5           small  red onions — finely chopped
  5           cloves  garlic — minced
  3           Tablespoon  Ethiopian spice mix (called Berbere)
  1           plum tomato chopped
  3/4       teaspoon  ground cardamom
  8           chicken drumsticks Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper — to taste

  4 hard-boiled eggs

1)  Heat butter in a 6-quart saucepan over low heat.  Add ginger, onions, and garlic; cook, stirring, until soft, about 30 minutes.

2)  Add spice mixture and tomato; cook, stirring, until reduced and darkened, about 15 minutes.

3)  Add 4 cups of water, cardamom, and chicken, season with salt and pepper; boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; cook, covered, until chicken is done, about 1 hour. Transfer chicken to a plate; cook sauce until reduced, about 15 minutes. Add eggs and warm.

4)  Pour reduced sauce over chicken.



Berbere, whose name means hot in Amharic, is a chile-spice blend that’s essential to many Ethiopian dishes, including Doro Wot and Misr Wot.

Makes about 3/4 cup

2 teaspoon coriander seeds
1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
1⁄2 teaspoon black peppercorns
1⁄4 teaspoon whole allspice
6 white cardamom pods
4 whole cloves
1⁄2 cup dried onion flakes
5 dried chiles de árbol, stemmed, seeded, and broken into small pieces
3 Tablespoon paprika
2 teaspoon kosher salt
1⁄2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1⁄2 teaspoon ground ginger
1⁄2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1)  In a small iron skillet, combine coriander seeds, fenugreek seeds, black peppercorns, allspice, cardamom pods, and cloves. Toast spices over medium heat, swirling skillet constantly, until fragrant, about 4 minutes.

2)  Let cool slightly; transfer to a spice grinder along with onion flakes and grind until fine. Add chiles, and grind with the other spices until fine.

3)  Transfer the mixture to a bowl and stir in paprika, salt, nutmeg, ginger, and cinnamon. Store in an airtight container for up to 6 months.

Cauliflower Tots


  Pic from Hungry Empress                          

Serving Size : 4   

2    cups  cooked cauliflower florets — finely chopped in food processor
1    large  egg
1    large  egg white
1/2  cup  onion – diced small, sautéed in butter
1    cup grated potato
3    Tablespoon  minced dried basil
1    Tablespoon  dried basil
1/2  cup  gluten breadcrumbs
2    Tablespoons  butter                 

1)  Steam a little over 2 cups raw cauliflower florets , 4 to 5 minutes or until tender but not mushy, then drain well.  I put something heavy on top of it in the colander to drain it well, left it to sit while I steamed to grated potatoes.

2) Steam potatoes about 7 or 8 minutes.

3)  Preheat oven to 420°F. Butter mini muffin tins.

4)  In a medium bowl, combine all of the ingredients and season with salt and pepper to taste.

5)  Spoon 2 tablespoon of mixture in your hands and roll into small ovals. Bake for 16-18 minutes, turning halfway through cooking until golden.

Braised Eggplant with Garlic and Basil

Braised Eggplant with Garlic and Basil

From image

This IS one of the easiest eggplant dishes I’ve made. A delightful technique to keep the eggplant tender yet not mushy. Very flavorful!

I’ve made it lactose, gluten and soy free.

Serving Size  : 4    

1/4   cup  coconut aminos — or Tamari
1       teaspoon  honey
1/2   teaspoon  Siracha
2       teaspoon  arrowroot
1/2   teaspoon  toasted sesame oil
4       tablespoons  butter
1       large  eggplant — sliced into 1-inch squares
2       medium cloves  garlic — minced (about 2 teaspoons)
1/4   teaspoon  salt
1/4   cup  fresh basil leaves

1)  Combine 1 1/2 cups water, coconut aminos, honey, and chili bean sauce in a small bowl and stir. Combine 1/4 cup water and the arrowroot in a separate bowl.

2)  Heat the butter over a medium-high heat in a large fry pan or Dutch oven until shimmering. Add the garlic and eggplant and sprinkle with the salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly softened and fragrant, about 4 to 5 minutes.

3)  Stir in the water, coconut aminos, honey and chili bean sauce mixture. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a gentle but consistent simmer and cook, uncovered, stirring or flipping eggplant occasionally, for until eggplant slices are tender and liquid has reduced by about half, about 15 minutes.

4)  Stir the arrowroot and water mixture in its bowl to loosen it up. Stir it into the pan with the eggplant and allow it to thicken. Taste for seasoning, adding any extra salt, aminos, chili sauce, or honey as desired. Remove from heat and stir in the whole basil leaves. Serve immediately.

Coconut Tapioca Pudding with Mango

FROM; Smitten Kitchen

Serving Size  : 4   

1/3         cup  small pearl or flaked tapioca
1             each  egg yolk
2 1/2     cups  coconut milk
1/4         teaspoon  stevia
1/4         teaspoon  sea salt
1/2         teaspoon  vanilla extract

Mango puree;
1             ripe mango — peeled, pitted and roughly chopped
1             Tablespoon lime juice
1/2         cup  coconut flakes — toasted

Make pudding: In a medium saucepan, soak tapioca in coconut milk for 30 minutes. Whisk in egg yolk, stevia, salt and vanilla bean seeds, if using (if using extract, you’ll add it in a bit).

Place saucepan over medium heat until mixture comes to a simmer, then reduce it to very low heat so it’s barely bubbling, and cook it until it thickens, about 15 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and add vanilla extract, if using. [Pudding will be the consistency of thick gravy – i.e. worrisomely thin – going into the cups but after chilling in the fridge, it will set.]

Pour into pudding cups to chill for several hours or overnight.

Make mango puree: Place mango chunks in food processor  and lime juice and blend until very smooth, scraping down the sides several times, if needed. Refrigerate puree until needed.

Serve with mango puree on top, toasted coconut flakes or a few gratings of lime zest.

To toast coconut chips: Heat an oven to 350 degrees F. Spread coconut flakes on a rimmed baking sheet and toast until golden brown and fragrant, about 5 minutes, tossing once if needed to help them brown evenly. Let cool before using.

Chicken Fried Steak- lactose and gluten free recipe!

While at Riverside Arts Market on Saturday buying grass fed meat from JD Beef, their cube steak was on sale for $7.00 a pound!

Here’s my lactose and gluten free recipe for Chicken Fried Steak!

Serving Size  : 4    

3          cups  sweet rice flour
1/8      teaspoon  cayenne pepper
1          large  egg
1          teaspoon  baking powder
1/2      teaspoon  baking soda
1          cup  coconut milk
2          pounds  cube steaks
1/2      cup  butter

1          medium  onion — minced
1/8      teaspoon  dried thyme
2          medium cloves  garlic — minced or pressed through a garlic press
3          tablespoons  sweet rice flour
1/2      cup  beef stock
1          tablespoon  rice vinegar
2          cups  coconut milk
3/4      teaspoon  sea salt
1/4      teaspoon  ground black pepper

1)  For the steaks: Measure the flour, 5 teaspoons salt, 1 teaspoon black pepper, and cayenne into a large shallow dish.

2)  Stir rice vinegar into coconut milk. In a second large shallow dish, beat the egg, baking powder, and baking soda; stir in the coconut milk (the mixture will bubble and foam).

3)  Heat iron skillet to medium hot. When hot, add butter and let it come to bubbling.

4)  Pat the steaks dry with paper towels and sprinkle each side with salt and pepper to taste. Drop the steaks into the flour and shake the pan to coat. Shake excess flour from each steak, then, using tongs, dip the steaks into the egg mixture, turning to coat well and allowing the excess to drip off. Coat the steaks with flour again, shake off the excess. 

5)  Place three steaks in the butter and fry, turning once, until deep golden brown on each side, about 5 minutes (oil temperature will drop to around 335 degrees).

6)  Turn the heat to medium, add the onion and thyme, and cook until the onion has softened and is beginning to brown, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until aromatic, about 30 seconds. Add the flour to the pan and stir until well combined and starting to dissolve, about 1 minute.

7)  Whisk in the broth, scraping any browned bits off the bottom of the pan. Whisk in the milk, salt, pepper, and cayenne; bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Cook until thickened (gravy should have a loose consistency-it will thicken as it cools), about 5 minutes.

8)  Transfer the chicken-fried steaks to individual plates. Spoon a generous amount of gravy over each steak. Serve immediately, placing any remaining gravy in a small bowl.