Friday Favorite: Almond Milk

My name is Hilary and I am lactose intolerant. Ugh. The first step is admitting your stomach can’t handle it.  For a long time, I was in denial about this fact despite feeling awful after consuming some of my favorite treats like fettuccine alfredo, milkshakes and macaroni and cheese for the first few decades of my life. It was only a couple of years ago that I started listening more to my body and realizing that I had control over feeling satisfied versus miserable after a meal.  There are lactose aid pills available and I do keep them at home and in my purses for eating meals out.  But it’s not very hard to avoid milk products when there are so many alternatives available.   There is lactose free milk, coconut milk, rice milk, and others. For a while, I tried Silk, the soy milk brand but I found it to be too sweet with the added sugar. I also wasn’t crazy about the idea of so much soy in my diet because some scientific research links it to breast cancer.  Then I discovered unsweetened almond milk and decided to try it.  I never looked back.  I like the Blue Diamond brand because their unsweetened almond milk comes in small, individual-use containers so I don’t have to come up with ways to use a half gallon of it before it goes bad.  I use it in smoothies, chai tea lattes, baking recipes, and even recipes like macaroni and cheese in a pinch.  It works very well as a milk-alternative and I encourage you to try it out, even if you aren’t lactose-challenged (although 30 million American adults are!).  Almond milk has no saturated fat, and is low in calories.  But keep in mind that unlike whole nuts, it does not contain a lot of protein, nor a lot of calcium like cow’s milk.  So drink up, but don’t forget your leafy vegetables and lean protein on the side!Almond Milk Text-pic

The Sweetest Thing

A few months ago in an ongoing quest for perfect, supermodel skin I tried cutting sugar from my diet.  I did some research which showed that the androgen hormone, which is linked to insulin, can cause breakouts.

Unfortunately, the only true fact I’ve learned in my 15+ year quest for skin like the Noxema girl’s  is that apparentlysugar me being me is what causes breakouts and no limitation of sugar is going to be a magic cure. However, giving up sugar for about 8 weeks did open my eyes to how much of it was in the foods I was regularly eating, from fruit to processed foods and everything in between.  And after eliminating it I felt more energetic and less thirsty.  My clothes fit better and I didn’t crave sweet foods the way I once had.  So while I don’t avoid it entirely anymore, I am much more discerning about the sugar I do eat.  For example, I’m just gonna say it…once in a while I like to eat a whole bag of Twizzlers.  Or a doughnut. Like a frosting-drenched, sprinkle-topped doughnut.  So to balance out those sporadic cravings, and because those foods have approximately 0 health benefits, I avoid sugar in other ways that aren’t as much of a sacrifice for me like:

  • Reading the ingredients of my groceries and avoiding foods with added sugar, corn syrup, sucralose, etc.  Even “savory” foods like crackers and chips sometimes contain sugar.  So sneaky!
  • Making my own granola. Cereal is often very high in sugar, even most granolas which are marketed as “healthy”, “natural” or “with a HINT of sweetness”.  When I make my own, I add just a small amount of honey and lots of dried fruits.  If i’m going to consume sugar, I want it to be from natural sweeteners as much as possible! Here’s my recipe!
  • Making my own salad dressing.  Most bottled dressings from the grocery store have really nasty ingredients like corn syrup.  Have you ever seen a yummy homemade dressing recipe say, “slowly whisk in the high fructose corn syrup and xanthum gum”? Ew.
  • Making my own chocolate candies.  Many popular candy bars are overloaded with high fructose corn syrup or sugar.  I like making my own dark chocolate that’s actually dark and bittersweet. Here’s my recipe!
  • Fulfilling my ice cream cravings with coconut or almond milk ice cream with no added sugar.  Don’t be weirded out!  There are some delicious brands and flavors and they still taste sweet while eliminating the processed sugars.
  • Using agave syrup as an alternative to processed, white sugar when baking.  It has a lower glycemic index and you only need about half the amount when compared to sugar.

I’m always looking for other ways to eliminate processed sugar from my diet.  But for now, I think this is a good start!