Product Review: Siete Grain-free Tortillas

2016-06-11 13.04.59I recently received samples of two new grain-free tortillas from Texas-based Siete Foods–one made from almond flour and the other from cassava and coconut.

Tortillas that are gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-free, vegan (almond only), and Paleo-friendly will have obvious appeal to a wide range of “special needs” dieters.  And these are quite tasty!

The ingredient lists are short and sweet and each tortilla tastes reassuringly of its namesake ingredients–the almond having a warm nutty flavor and the cassava/coconut tasting faintly of fresh coconut. Continue reading “Product Review: Siete Grain-free Tortillas” >

New low glycemic sweetener is higher in calories than indicated

I recently received a sample for review of a new sweetener from Italy called Dolcedi, made from organic apples. According to the manufacturer’s website:

“Dolcedì’ can be used any way you would use traditional table sugar or honey and in the same proportions; one teaspoon of sugar equals one teaspoon of Dolcedì’.”

It’s promoted as having a lower glycemic index than sugar–which it does. But the manufacturer also claims that it’s 25% lower in calories than sugar–which it is not.

When used as directed, Dolcedi actually provides 31% MORE calories than sugar.

Continue reading “New low glycemic sweetener is higher in calories than indicated” >

Book Review: Always Hungry by David Ludwig

always hungryIn general, I’m not a big fan of diet books. Even the best ones tend to be larded with hype and gimmickry. Basic nutrition principles are embellished into elaborate metabolic wizardry. Simple guidelines are obscured by unnecessarily complicated schedules, lists, programs, and templates.

Otherwise, how would you fill 300 pages? Because the basic tenets of any decent dietary philosophy can be communicated in a few paragraphs.  (Or as few as 7 words.)


But if you need a little more structure (and mythology) to get you motivated and keep you on track, the program outlined in David Ludwig’s new book Always Hungry is not a bad choice. Continue reading “Book Review: Always Hungry by David Ludwig” >

Product Review: Tumeric turmeric-based elixirs


Tturmeriche good folks at Tumeric (no, that’s not a typo; that’s how the brand is spelled) recently sent samples of their turmeric-based juice drinks and power shots for me to review. Knowing my interest in diet and inflammation, I guess they figured I’d be impressed by a product-line based on one of the most anti-inflammatory spices in the world. They were right!

The traditional Indian ingredient is being heavily researched as a potential preventive for Alzheimer’s disease, cancer,  and other inflammation-related conditions.  And turmeric-based juices are a great new way to get more of this health-promoting spice into your diet.

The Tumeric brand elixirs offer a potent dose of fresh-pressed turmeric juice blended with traditional Indian herbs and spices.  My favorite is the original elixir, a spicy combination of turmeric, ginger, cardamom, and cayenne (!), lightly sweetened with honey. A 12 ounce bottle contains 70 calories and 15g of sugar–about half the sugar of orange juice.  The Golden Milk, made with turmeric, coconut cream, chia, and hemp milk, is more like a meal, with 270 calories, 11 g of protein, and 14 g of fat per bottle. (I’m not crazy about the taste of coconut cream, but if you are, this one is worth checking out.)

One advantage to the 3-oz, 70-calorie “PUREprana” shots is that they also feature black pepper, which enhances absorption of curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric.

At $6 per 12-ounce bottle, this is definitely a premium product but one that’s unique, well-formulated and a nice addition to the category.

Product Review: Ball® FreshTECH Automatic Home Canning System



Although I’m not a prolific canner, I usually put up a few things from my garden every August, using an ancient enameled canning pot I picked up years ago at a yard sale.  Baltimore in August is steamy enough without giant pots of water boiling on the stove for several hours, so I was intrigued by a recent review of a new electric canning appliance from Ball–and delighted when the folks at Ball offered to send me a unit to review.

Having spent the weekend playing with my new toy, here are some thoughts–in case you are considering purchasing one. Continue reading “Product Review: Ball® FreshTECH Automatic Home Canning System” >

Something new for your pantry: Tea seed oil

Tea seed oilNot to be confused with tea tree oil, tea seed oil is an edible oil pressed from the seeds of Camellia oleifera, a small shrub related to Camellia sinensis, or tea plant.  I recently received some samples from Arette, a company that distributes organic tea seed oil.  As this product may be unfamiliar to many of you, I thought I’d post a quick review/introduction.

Culinary Features

Tea seed oil has a thin, light texture, similar to almond or grapeseed oil–much less viscous and “oily” than, say, olive oil.  The flavor is also very light and clean.  There are times, of course, when you’d want a more robust oil–but for times when you’re looking for a light touch, tea seed oil fits the bill.

Tea seed oil makes a light, delicate vinaigrette, perfect for delicate greens that might be weighed down or overwhelmed by the flavor of a heavier or heartier oil.  Vegetables sauteed in tea seed oil remain almost dry to the touch, without the oily sheen you’d get from a heavier oil.

Nutritional Properties

Tea seed oil also has some unique nutritional properties. Although the texture reminds me of grapeseed oil, tea seed oil has a very different fatty acid profile. Continue reading “Something new for your pantry: Tea seed oil” >

This week: a review of Grain Brain, foods that prevent herpes, eating dirt, and more

Eating CaterpillarIn this week’s podcast, I review the new book Grain Brain, which claims that avoiding wheat can cure ADHD and prevent Alzheimer’s disease. Perlmutter’s book essentially picks up where Wheat Belly left off, expanding the indictment against “modern wheat” as the cause of many (if not all) of 20th century health problems.

Coincidentally, I just returned from the annual Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo, where I had an opportunity to talk with some actual wheat scientists who are eager to debunk the many myths and misunderstandings about modern wheat. Obviously, everyone has a bias here. Davis and Perlmutter are out to sell books. Wheat scientists are out to defend their industry. But it is interesting to compare the strength of the evidence presented by each side. (Advantage: wheat scientists).

Speaking of myths and misunderstandings, there’s a long-standing bit of nutritional lore stating that the body can only absorb 30 or so g of protein at a single meal. This podcast sorts out the facts and fallacies of protein utilization.

If you’re amoung the 60% of the population living with herpes infection, perhaps you’ve googled around to see whether there are any dietary approaches that can prevent outbreaks. You’ll find a hodge-podge of well-meaning advice but not much in the way of evidence-based recommendations. Here’s my take on what may or may not help.

Finally, a look at some of the claims made for diatomaceous earth. Will it keep bugs off your vegetables. You bet. Will it make your hair shiny and your skin glow? Probably not.

Product Review: My KIND of snack bar

NS-FlavorsMy primary complaint with most granola and snack bars is that they’re all so high in sugar (or, in the case of the low carb bars, high in fake sugar). It’s not merely a nutritional objection; I find most of them unpleasantly sweet. So I was intrigued to learn about a new line of bars and granola from KIND, each with 5 grams of sugar or less–no artificial sweeteners or sugar alcohols.

In a perfect world, of course, we’d all make all of our food from scratch–even our granola and energy bars!  [<== my recipe] 

But, there’s no denying the convenience of ready-made meals and snacks, especially when schedules are tight. In my last book (Secrets for a Healthy Diet), I devoted an entire chapter to how to select the best packaged food options–and leave the rest on the shelves. If these KIND Nuts & Spices bars had been around then,  I would have singled them out as an great example–because they meet all of my criteria.

1.  The ingredient list reads like a recipe, not a chemistry experiment.

2.  They pack a decent amount of protein.

3.  They’re low in sodium, high in potassium.

3.  They’ve even got as many grams of fiber as sugar.  (That one rule of thumb knocks virtually every other bar out of the running.)

Despite–or maybe because of!–all that, they taste really good. Like nuts and spices and grains. (Thanks to KIND for sending some samples my way).

Folks, you won’t find many product reviews on this site because I don’t like most of the products I’m asked to review. But I found these little bars to be pretty impressive–and worth passing along. If you’re looking for a ready-made granola or energy bar, these come pretty darn close to the stuff you’d probably make if you had the time.  (Actually, in terms of sugar, they’ve got my homemade snack bars beat by a mile.)  Just be sure you look for the ones marked “only 5 g sugar” on the front. The product line also includes some bars that are quite a bit sweeter and stickier.