Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Coconut Flour Lemon Bread Recipe – First Attempt

Finished Coconut Flour Lemon Bread
©Marie Anne St. Jean

I’m still trying to get back on the low-carb bandwagon, and have been researching alternatives to baking with white or wheat flower.  I found organic coconut flour at my local Mennonite/Amish market, so thought I’d give that a try.  I don’t know how coconut flour compares to regular flour in carb count, but it is gluten free and likely better for me in that regard, so I figured I’d give it a try.  Paleo is another new dietary regimen buzz word, and I guess coconut flour fits into that program also.

I’ve never used coconut flour (or any flour other than made from wheat), so I did a little research first to see how it compares to white flour when baking.  I’m glad I did, because I found that it reacts so much differently than regular flour, and requires more liquid than you would think.   I searched for bread recipes with coconut flour and found several, and they took between 6 and a full dozen eggs – yikes!  Most called for a sugar substitute as the sweetener, with some giving directions for using white sugar, but I decided to try honey instead and added a little lemon juice to liven things up a bit, thinking since honey is more liquid than sugar, I could use less eggs.

I think what I came up with worked out great.  Coconut flour isn’t going to give you a real bakery bread-like texture, but will result in something more akin to cornbread.  Think of it as banana bread without the bananas – it’s not sweet, but not like ‘real’ bread either. This isn’t something you can make sandwiches with, but it’ll taste good with a pot of beans, or with a little butter and honey or jam with your morning coffee or tea.

Since the trick to working with coconut flour is getting the ratio of flour to liquid correct, I was surprised that I nailed it on the first try.  Here’s my recipe, followed by notes of what I might change next time:

Ingredients for Coconut Flour Lemon Bread

¾ cup coconut flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp sea salt
5 eggs
½ cup butter (1 stick), softened
1/3 cup honey
1 tbls lemon juice

Sift together coconut flour, baking powder, and sea salt in a bowl.

Mix together eggs, butter, and honey in separate bowl until well blended.  (If the butter is lumpy, use a mixer on low for a minute or so, and break up lumps as much as possible).

Add sifted dry ingredients to egg mixture and mix well by hand (a heavy spatula worked well for me), adding lemon juice.  Batter will be thicker and less liquid than cake batter, but not as stiff as cookie batter (it will resemble cornbread batter at this point).

Spoon mixture into a greased loaf pan (it doesn't pour well) and bake at 350* for 40 minutes.  Turn out onto wire rack to cool.

Mixture will resemble cornbread dough
©Marie Anne St. Jean


- I wasn’t sure how much honey would be needed as a sweetener, so I started with approximately 1/3 cup, but don’t think the result was quite sweet enough.  I’ll probably increase to ½ cup when I make this again.

- I also wasn’t sure how much lemon juice I should add, so I started with 1 tablespoon.  I didn’t really get the lemony flavor I desired, so will increase to 2 tablespoons the next time I make this recipe.

- Since bread made with coconut flour doesn’t really rise, it looked pretty skimpy in the loaf pan.  I think I’ll try using smaller loaf pans next time.  I might also increase the coconut flour to a full cup and add an extra egg, and increase the amount of honey and lemon by a small amount if using a regular sized loaf pan again.

Fresh out of the oven
©Marie Anne St. Jean

If you make coconut lemon bread using this recipe, please let me know how it turns out, and whether you tried any of the changes that I suggested.  I've already eaten half of this first loaf this afternoon, so I'll undoubtedly be trying the new variations soon, and will post my results again.

Now that I've tried coconut flour, I think I'll try making my own almond flour and see what I can do with that.

~ Marie Anne

(Yes, you can even buy organic coconut flour through

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Tips to Keep You Drinking Water During Winter

(Photo by collectmoments)

Everyone knows that drinking water is important to our health, and it's just as important to stay well hydrated in winter as it is summer.  We need to replace what we lose when we perspire when the weather is hot, but water is essential year round for so many health reasons, so don't put your water bottle away when the temperature drops.

Water aids in digestion, helps our kidneys flush out toxins, and is important for healthy looking skin.  Inadequate fluid intake can result in muscle fatigue, as cells can shrivel without it, so drinking water is essential from a fitness standpoint.  It can also help regulate our body temperature, which is important any time of year.

But I Don't Like Plain Water

Many people don't.  Trying adding a drop or two of lemon juice to flavor it just a bit.  I always ask for lemon with my water when eating out, and I've grown accustomed to the taste, so now I replicate that at home.  I don't use fresh lemons often enough to justify purchasing the fruit, but the bottled lemon juice is a good substitute, and it really does only take the smallest amount to make the water more palatable.

Drink More, Spend Less

I've never believed in spending good money to buy bottled water.  Since I pay a water bill every month and my tap works just fine, I refuse to spend extra only to add more plastic waste to our already overcrowded landfills.  A filtered water pitcher has been a good investment for me - my water is clean and tasty, but without the added hassle and expense of having to buy it in bottles.  My refrigerator doesn't have a water dispenser, so the pitcher is perfect for my needs.

But It's So Cold!

One of my biggest stumbling blocks that keep me from drinking enough water in winter is that I'm always cold, and who wants a cold drink when they're already freezing?  Give me that mug of hot chocolate!

To help get over that hurdle, I leave the water pitcher on the counter every day and drink it at room temperature. It's not exactly warm, but it's much better than when it's refrigerated.  Leaving it out in the open also serves as a constant reminder throughout the day to keep drinking, which is harder for me to remember when it's chilly out.

I probably still don't drink as much water in winter as I should, but I'm much more diligent about it now, and these tips help me keep things flowing a little easier.

~ Marie Anne

Monday, February 10, 2014

Using Massage to Rehab Sore Muscles

Guest post by Renee Sanchez

Many people suffer from sore muscles whether it is due to exercising, long days at work or even just through the natural aging process.  No matter the reason for your sore muscles, you’re probably just looking for relief so you can relax and sleep at night.  There was an experiment conducted by researchers to find out exactly what happens when muscles go through the massage processes.  The following are the steps that were taken and what was concluded from the experiment

The Experiment

The experiment required subjects to offer tissue samples through a biopsy procedure before and after the subject exercised.  First, the subject offered a sample of a leg muscle while it was resting and before the exercise routine began.  After this incision was allowed to heal so it would have no impact on the results, the same subjects were placed on a station bicycle until they were exhausted and could go no further.  Another biopsy was taken directly after exercise from one leg.  The other leg was massaged for ten minutes and it too had a sample taken along with the leg that was not massaged.  After a period of rest, they took more samples in order to see the progress of the injuries and repairs

Over Exercise Injuries

When the muscles are over exercised there are small tears in the muscles that can lead to reactions in the immune system such as inflammation.  This is caused when the body goes into overtime to fix the cells that were torn during the overexertion.   It has always been thought that massage helps to repair those little tears because it caused higher blood flow through the damaged tissue but was never tested before.  This brave set of subjects allowed themselves to be cut time and time again to get the samples needed to determine if massage was really that beneficial or if the tissue would have repaired itself without the need for massage

The Results

It was found that massage not only increased the blood flow to the damaged cells but also aided in the production of certain compounds which aided in healing.  One compound, known as Cytokines, which aid in the inflammation of the cells, was also reduced.  Mitochondria, the compound that helps turn Glucose into energy were increased in the muscles that were massaged.  In layman’s terms, the massage did indeed help the overexerted and damaged muscles rebound from the stress that was put on them to heal faster and more effectively.  There are drugs on the market that offer the same results but many would rather have a good massage rather than taking drugs, which may also restrict the healing process in the long run.

So if you exercise a great deal and you find that you’re exerting yourself a bit too much, you may want to invest in a handheld massager like the Hitachi wand.  Unless you want to spend a great deal of money on massage therapies every time you workout, this is the next best option.

Author Bio:  Renee Sanchez has been aiding individuals in their recovery from sore muscles for many years.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Another Low-Carb Trick - Cabbage for Lasagna Noodles

Photo by Eirik Newth
I made a post the other day about low-carb pizza crust made with cauliflower, and mentioned that now I needed to find a substitute for pasta.  Well Tay must have heard me, because she came up with a recipe to use cabbage in place of lasagna noodles.   I don't see how cabbage could work as a replacement for regular spaghetti, but lasagna works for me!

Her recipe doesn't include meat, but I would definitely add a layer of ground beef and sausage to make this more like a true lasagna.  I like my lasagna to have a thick layer of meat and honestly, the lasagna noodles are secondary to the meat and cheese, in my opinion.  Since both meat and cheese are ok to use while following a low-carb diet, I'm definitely putting this on my list to try soon.  I don't buy cabbage often, but I have a half head left from dinner the other night, but not sure I have any ground beef on hand, so it still might have to wait a few days.

I wonder how it would work with a layer of cauliflower in place of the lasagna noodles?  I'll give that a try too and report back!

What's your favorite part of homemade lasagna?

~ Marie Anne

Earn While You Burn With Walgreens Step Balance Rewards

Using SparkPeople to earn points for trophies and passing your Fitbit friends as you race to your goals are great incentives, but how about earning something more tangible from working out?  Walgreens will pay you in Balance Rewards that you can use for free products, just for weighing yourself and logging your workout every day.  You won't get rich overnight, but if you're going to work out and watch your weight, you might as well get a little something for doing so.

You can join communities of like-minded people on Steps, and also earn badges as you progress.  If you have FitBit or a similar device, link it to Walgreens Steps to accumulate Balance Rewards points automatically without even having to log in.

If you need an incentive to lace up your sneakers every day, the promise of earning while you burn might be just the motivation that you need.

~ Marie Anne

Do I Need to Drain Cucumbers?

Because of their high water content, cucumbers are a great low-calorie vegetable to include in side dishes or eat as a healthy snack.  Th...