A Natural and Healthy Touch of Added Sugar

A Natural and Healthy Touch of Added Sugar

Even a touch of added sugar has become a no-no in some restrictive diets.  A mention of the “S” word – S*U*G*A*A*R – can cause an uproar in the low-carb diet crowd!  Sugar quickly became the “it” word for a diet disaster just like fats, hydrogenated oils, salt, HFCS and GMO’s among many other foods.  People will also say sugar = death.  But, is consuming sugar a real nutrition concern?

An Apple a Day…

Sugar has been used in the diet since Adam took his first bite of an apple…that is a fructose sugar-based apple!  Sugar is simply a carbohydrate that the body digests and turns into energy or stores as energy in the liver or fat cells to be used later.  Yes, there are many forms of sugars, and the body has the ability to digest them all (except for sugar alcohol).  But is every type of sugar the same?  Are some healthier than others?  With this new concern for sugar, the focus has quickly turned to avoiding all types, even those composed of natural sugars like fruit and honey.

Should You Avoid All Sugars?

As a registered dietitian, I have seen fads come and go. Foods move from the good list to the bad list and then back to the good list again.  Remember the fat free craze in the 1990’s?  Now we are telling people to eat healthy fats and lots of them!  Don’t get me wrong; I don’t think we shall ever tell people to go crazy on sugar, but I also don’t think sugar should be shunned either.

Balance is always the key to a healthy diet.  It is about portion control, food integrity, quality and function.  It is also about enjoying the food you eat and savoring the flavor. It is about:

  • Getting back to nature, that is “natural foods,” and not lab foods or man-made chemically derived foods
  • Eating food that the body can process, digest and use as fuel
  • Macro nutrients and micro nutrients and the body’s fundamental need to survive.

The problem with eating habits in America is lack of balance. We go from unhealthy extremes such as consuming too much sugar or unrefined carbs, to cutting it out of our diets entirely. This can cause a ripple effect in one’s health. For example, weight going up and down. Complete avoidance of certain foods can cause cravings that are difficult to tame when food boredom sets in.

I honestly don’t believe one single nutrient can devastate the body.  There are so many outside factors that can cause disease and poor health even beyond the diet.  The body is still a medical mystery, and every day we learn more.   

Why Does Betsy’s Best Use Small Amounts of Three Different Sugars?

I am often asked why I add a small amount of three types of sugar to my gourmet nut and seed butters.  Demerara, honey and stevia are my sweeteners of choice. I simply say, “well, I’m a sweet girl!” All kidding aside, I am not scared of sugar in small amounts when it is high quality and balanced with other nutrients.  In fact if food has flavor it is more enjoyable, and I choose to enjoy my food while fueling with nutrients.  It is the best of both worlds and makes eating a healthier diet fun, interesting and sustainable.

Why not love your food?  I was very careful when making my choices of ingredients and wanted the best quality and a combination that would provide a great experience.

Organic Stevia Leaf Extract

Stevia is a non-sugar-based herb that mimics the sweet taste of sugar but without the insulin response that sugar causes.  Many people avoid stevia for the fear of the bitter aftertaste it can sometime provide.  I selected a high-quality stevia that removes the bitter stem for a smoother taste.

Demerara Sugar

Demerara sugar is the ingredient I get asked about the most.  Many people have never heard of Demerara, let alone know how to pronounce it! It is often used in Europe because it is one of the most natural sugars, similar to a terbanaro or sugar in the raw. However, Demerara is much more natural and purer than other sugars.

Demerara sugar is the first crystallization off of the sugar cane plant.  I like to compare it to Pink Himalayan Salt (also another ingredient I use) because it contains minerals and has not been stripped of nutrients. The large crystals that form with Demerara also help contribute to the light crunchy texture of my butters, along with the Pink Himalayan Salt and chia seeds.  When you bite down on them, you experience a burst of flavor and a unique experience.  Demerara sugar also has notes of caramel which give my nut and seed butters a wonderful flavor!

Organic Honey

 

Honey is a very natural source of sweetness and also contains antioxidants.  However, I chose not to sweeten my butters with only honey because it greatly changes the consistency and mouth feel.  It can make the butter very sticky and hard to use.  The small amount I use adds a great taste while not negatively affecting the texture.

I also choose to use organic honey that helps to protect bees and provides optimal nutrients to people. In order to be organic, the flowers that the bees get the nectar from have not been sprayed with chemicals. … As long as beekeepers’ control where the bees go, they’ll know that they’re getting honey from organic flowers.”

In three of my butters, Betsy’s Best Gourmet Almond Butter, Gourmet Seed Butter and Gourmet Peanut Butter, I purposely paired honey with cinnamon. Combining honey and cinnamon provides additional benefits when consumed together rather than if consumed separately.

How Much Added Sugar Does Betsy’s Best Have Per Serving?

My Gourmet Almond Butter has 2 grams of sugar on the low end, and my Gourmet Seed Butter has 4 grams of sugar on the high end.  My other butters (Gourmet Peanut Butter, Gourmet Cashew Cardamom Butter, and Gourmet Toasted Coconut Cashew Butter) contain 3 grams of sugar, and adding stevia allows me to accomplish that.  I also added chia seeds that have fiber, and combined with the nuts and seeds, contain healthy fats and protein that lowers the glycemic index and net carbohydrates.

Keep in mind that nuts and seeds themselves have at least 1 gram of natural sugar, so I am only adding an additional 2-3 grams of sugar per serving.

Flavor and Balance Are Important

So, I admit it, I am a sweet gal, but a mindful one too.  I want my food to be fun, interesting, playful and delicious….but most importantly, Nut-ritious!

I want people to be able to enjoy my gourmet nut and seed butters on a spoon or use them as a unique ingredient to enhance any recipe.

I want my butters to provide function and flavor, yet be balanced enough that you can enjoy them every day.

Let’s face it, if you have a sweet tooth, eliminating all sugar will leave you craving sugar.  Betsy’s Best is the perfect low-sugar sweet treat to help you sustainably reduce your daily sugar intake.

By all means, we should avoid foods that have excessive amounts of added sugar.  Heck, even some popular chocolate hazelnut spreads have close to 30g of added sugar. A lot of fat-free foods (dinosaurs from the “fat is bad” era) are loaded with too much sugar to make them taste better.  These are foods to be avoided. But, avoiding all sugar is generally not sustainable and causes people to avoid eating healthy foods such as bananas and apples.

While some people choose to eat a very restrictive, unbalanced diet that might eventually be proven to be unhealthy, I shall be sitting back, licking my spoon and enjoying every last bite of my Betsy’s Best Gourmet Nut and Seed Butters!

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How To Make Chocolate Dipped Apples

How To Make Chocolate Dipped Apples

Are you wondering how to make chocolate dipped apples? Apples, a superfood fruit, sure are good for you, so why not turn them into a delicious and healthy dessert. Dipping them into a relatively low-sugar dark chocolate provides the perfect contrast between sweet and tart.  Even better, making this wonderful treat is fairly simple.

How to Make Chocolate Dipped Apples in 5 Easy Steps:

Step 1: Core the apples

Select 2 apples to core. There are two ways you can approach taking the core out of the apple.  First, you can buy an apple corer.  This device makes it super easy to remove the core.  Your other option is to cut the apple in half and cut out the core using a knife.   By removing the core your chocolate dipped apples will be more enjoyable to eat. It is also important if you want to stuff your apples with some yummy surprises (see Betsy’s recipe below.)

Step 2: Melt the chocolate

Place 1 cup of dark chocolate or semi-sweet chocolate chips into a microwave safe bowl.  Pour 1/4 tsp of coconut oil onto the chips. Microwave for thirty seconds and stir. Microwave at 30 second intervals until the chocolate is smooth and creamy. (Hint: The oil helps the chocolate to harden and not stay in liquid form.)

Step 3: Dip your apple into the chocolate

Place your apple into the bowl and swirl it through the chocolate until covered.  Use a spoon to scoop any left ober chocolate onto the apple.

Step 4: Let the chocolate dipped apples cool and dry.

Place the apples onto wax paper, place in refrigerator, and allow the chocolate to cool and dry to the touch.

Step 5: The most important part!

Enjoy your chocolate dipped apples!

Yield: 2 apples

Now that you know how to make chocolate dipped apples, it is time to make them into a gourmet treat.

Betsy’s Nut Butter Stuffed Chocolate Dipped Apples Recipe (pictured above)

These apples are a healthier and tastier version of the traditional caramel apple. The gourmet nut butter surprise inside is the best part! You can choose from Betsy’s Best Cinnamon Peanut Butter, Cinnamon Almond Butter, Toasted Coconut Cashew Butter, or Cardamom Cashew Butter. Allergic to nuts? Use Betsy’s Best Cinnamon Sunflower Seed Butter instead. All 5 nut and seed butters are gourmet treats. Trust Betsy! It will be #LoveAtFirstTaste!

Nut Butter Stuffed Chocolate Dipped Apple Ingredients:

  • 1 apple, cored
  • 2 T of any Betsy’s Best Gourmet Nut or Seed Butter
  • ¼ C semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • ¼ C white chocolate chips
  • 1/4 tsp coconut oil

Nut Butter Stuffed Chocolate Dipped Apples Directions:

Stuff Betsy’s Best into the apple’s hollowed-out core. Melt chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl in 15-second increments, stirring between. Dip the bottom half of apple in chocolate and coat with a knife. Let chocolate cool. Melt white chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl in 15-second increments, stirring between. Use knife to coat upper half of the apple. Let chocolate cool completely before eating.

Drizzle some caramel or butterscotch onto your chocolate dipped apples for another twist and roll in crushed nuts to finish it off!

Your Bestie,

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Best Fruits To Eat

Best Fruits To Eat

Are you looking for the best fruits to eat? With so many fruits available, Betsy has narrowed it down to four fruits to focus on. Betsy calls them Super Fruits because they are  Super  For You! You will look at fruits in a whole new way when you learn these additional nutritional benefits. Fruits are not only sweet and delicious, but also optimize the nutrients in your diet if you know the best and most nutritious ones to eat. Take a look at what dietitians have to say about the most nutritious fruits and what they can do for you!

Berries are the BEST fruits to eat!

Berries Are The Best Fruits To Eat including strawberries, blueberries, and blackberriesYes, blueberries, strawberries, blackberries and raspberries have been known to be healthy fruits, but did you know that Goji Berry is known to be nature’s most nutritionally complete food? Known as the “red diamond,” these little berries sparkle with nutrients and one of the few fruits to contain 18 different amino acids, including 8 of the 9 essential food-based amino acids that our body can’t produce on its own. Not only that, it is the “celebrity” of vitamin C content. We give it a Golden Globe because it has 500 times the amount of vitamin C content per weight of oranges, ranking it the highest source of vitamin C in the fruit category

It is also a stellar source of vitamin B1, B2, B6, and vitamin E. Vitamins are not the only category we nominate for a gold star, these red diamonds also shine in the mineral category too!  They contain 21 trace minerals, including zinc, iron, copper, calcium, germanium, selenium, and phosphorus. Because of its rich red hue, these bright-colored berries happen to be the richest source of carotenoids of all known foods and plants on earth. GO-GO-Goji!

Great ways to eat goji berries: Sprinkle on a salad, mix with nuts to make a trail mix, add to homemade granola bars, make “red” ants-on-a-log for kids using with Betsy’s Best Gourmet Peanut Butter, place atop an açaí bowl, or mix into oatmeal.

Pucker Up with Lemon!

Lemon anyone? Zest it, squeeze it, juice it or eat it! This tart fruit has a lot of functional health benefits. Known for a highLemons Are One Of The Best Fruits To Eat vitamin C content, it is not only great for your immune system but also for your gut health, heart health, weight control and more! Help your heart and watch your waist with the fiber in the rind of lemons by adding lemon zest to your foods. This pectin (soluble fiber) helps to keep you full and eliminate bad cholesterol from the body. Lemons are definitely one of the best fruits to eat!

The tart flavor comes from the citric acid in the fruit, and although tart on the tongue, lemons fight hard against kidney stones. It does that by increasing urine volume and urine pH, creating a perfect environment to prevent kidney stone formation. This means that marinating lemons in your water is doing your kidneys good!

Did you know that lemons can also prevent anemia? Although they contain very little iron—which is used in blood cell production—it helps our bodies to absorb iron in the gut, so creating a marinade for your meats with a little lemon juice will help you pump up your blood by supporting iron absorption!

Great ways to eat it: make a spa water with lemon, mint and cucumber, zest lemon rind over a salad, meats or fish, or add it to baked goods. Use the juice of the lemon in salad dressings or marinades, or freeze lemons and water in an ice cube tray for beautiful ice that melts into a vitamin C-rich refresher! Try this delicious Lemon Pie Smoothie Recipe using Betsy’s Best Gourmet Nut and Seed Butters.

The Green Avocado Machine!

Avocados Are One Of The Best Fruits To Eat. That is Right, they are a fruitIs it a fruit, is it a fat, is it a vegetable? What is avocado? Somehow it gets classified as all three! Technically it is a fruit (it has a seed and comes from a tree) but its creamy texture with lipids often classifies it as a fat, and because of the green color and non-sweet flavor people often call it a vegetable. I wonder if the avocado is having an identity issue? In my book, this is one of the most unique and best fruits to eat because of its versatility and subtle flavor. It makes smoothies thick and creamy, it is a great replacer of butter on toast, it is fabulous on a salad or in a wrap, and it can be blended into a delicious chocolate pudding! Sweet or savory, it goes both ways!

Avocados are not only delicious to eat but also have many health benefits. Move over banana, avocados have 14% of your RDI (Recommended Daily Intake) of potassium compared to 10% found in bananas. Potassium helps maintain body cells and reduces your risk of heart disease, strokes, and kidney failure. The fact that avocados are high in fat is not a bad thing because they contain heart-healthy monounsaturated fats. Avocados happen to be the fattiest plant food in existence, but this rich oleic acid found in the flesh is what gives it its superpowers!

Don’t let the creamy texture fool you, avocados are also a rich source of fiber! The soluble and insoluble balance of fiber gives it the perfect amount and together provide 7 grams of fiber in a 3.5 oz serving. That is 27% of your RDA! Make sure you feed your gut-friendly bacteria, lower your cholesterol, and feel fuller with all that plant-based fiber!

Great ways to eat it: atop a salad, in place of mayo on a sandwich, in a smoothie, mix with cacao and honey and blend into a chocolate pudding, grill it, or cut in half, place an egg in the seed opening and bake it! And let’s not forget the famous avocado toast, duh. You can also try this delicious mint and chocolate chip smoothie with avocado and Betsy’s Best Gourmet Nut and Seed Butters!

An Apple A Day DOES Keep The Doctor Away!

Ol’ Johnny Appleseed knew a thing or two when it came to this sweet forbidden fruit! The almighty apple is a staple in most An Apple A Day Keeps The Doctor Away because they are one of the best fruits to eathouseholds, yet many don’t realize all of the nutritional benefits that comes with each bite—we are talking antioxidants, which aid in giving apples their amazing benefits! Clearly, apples are among the best fruits to eat. These phytonutrients are the powerhouse behind protecting your cells from free radical damage and reducing the risk of developing cancer, hypertension, diabetes, and heart disease. This is not only true for apples, but nectarines, peaches, and berries too! Many fruits contain antioxidants, but some are richer than others. So if you want to slow down the aging process of your body and protect your cells, then an apple a day is the way!

Fullness is the factor when it comes to the soluble fiber in the flesh of the apple; just like the creamy avocado, the crisp apple is also loaded with fiber. This keeps you full, satisfied, and helps you manage weight.

Apples can also be a perfect paring with many foods! Enjoy your apple with peanut or almond butter, on a salad, baked with cinnamon, in a smoothie, in a chia pudding, dipped in cottage cheese or diced over oatmeal. Try this delicious Apple and Spinach Salad with a Betsy’s Best Gourmet Nut and Seed Butter Dressing!

To Your Health!

Add berries, lemon, avocado and apples to your daily diet and you will be the poster child for good nutrition as you enjoy the best fruits to eat!!

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The Best Sources of Omega-3 Fatty Acids

The Best Sources of Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids have received a lot of attention lately for their health benefits – and for a good reason! These polyunsaturated fatty acids have been linked to lowered levels of inflammation, risk for cardiovascular disease and even memory loss.

For the most part, the standard American diet is very deficient in omega-3s. By increasing your intake of omega-3s through food sources, you can drastically improve your overall health. Although this nutrition topic is very complex and expanding constantly, the main thing we know is this: increasing your consumption of the following omega-3 rich foods will increase your body’s omega-3 supply, in turn improving your health and well-being.

Fatty Fish: Albacore tuna, mackerel, anchovies and fresh-caught salmon are the best sources of omega-3s. These types of fish eat a less soluble form of omega-3s (ALA) through seaweed and convert it to the most beneficial forms for our bodies (EPA and DHA). Eating these types of fish, or supplementing with a 1,000-1,500 mg daily dose of fish oil, is an excellent way to improve your health.

Almonds: In addition to being an excellent source of antioxidants, protein, and beneficial vitamins and minerals, almonds are also an excellent source of plant-based omega-3s.

Flax Seeds: These fiber and omega-3-packed seeds can easily be added to your diet by sprinkling them on oatmeal, cereals, salads and smoothies. Just make sure to grind or buy already ground flax seed so your body can fully absorb the amazing nutrients flax has to offer.

Chia Seeds: These seeds may be one of the smallest and most nutritious foods in the world. Chia seeds contain 10 grams of fiber in just 2 tablespoons, and are an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, as well as iron, calcium and magnesium.

We’re crazy about Omega-3 fatty acids which is a big reason why chia seeds are a key ingredient in all of our Betsy’s Best Peanut, Almond and Seed Butters. Each serving contains all of your daily Omega-3 needs!

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Pack the Perfect Picnic

Pack the Perfect Picnic

Finding a way to enjoy the last bit of summer with the family? Why not have a picnic? One of my favorite things to do is to be outside. The fresh air, green grass, beautiful flowers, and an area for us to play with the dog is pure summer bliss. I let my daughter help me pack our picnic basket and snacks.

Our jar of Betsy’s Best is always with us and perfect for dipping those apple and celery slices. Even the dog had a tasty bite of our peanut butter. Here is a way to make sure to keep your picnic healthy with some delicious recipe ideas. What a great way to enjoy the day!

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