Ricki’s Raves (3): Healthy Food Made Faster (ie, By Someone Else!)

I’ve decided to start a little series called Ricki’s Raves, in which I share some of my favorite items (both food and non-food alike) that I truly love and use all the time. Today, I rave about my favorite low-glycemic sweeteners and sugar-free chocolate. In case you missed the earlier installments, find Part One, “Healthy Food Made More Convenient” (my favorite appliances),  here and Part Two, “Healthy Food Made Sweeter (plus Chocolate!),” here. 

Ricki's Raves

 

One of the tenets of the strict anti-candida diet is that you must eat only whole, real, unprocessed food. People with candida-related complex (CRC) often have weary immune systems, so you don’t want to be stressing your system even further by feeding it chemicals, refined grains, rancid fats or oxidized ingredients.

That said, we also have to live in the real world. Sometimes, we just don’t have time to make Every. Single. Thing. from scratch. So, while I still do make about 90% of my food myself, for that other 10%, I rely on packaged foods that follow the same principles I do: they contain a product made from the same kind of whole food ingredients that I would use on my own if I had time, without any added fillers, flavorings, or chemicals.

Here are a few of my favorites when it comes to prepared foods that save me a ton of time in the kitchen!

Protein Powder

GrowingNaturals Protein Powder on rickiheller.com

What it is

Those of us who consume smoothies regularly are likely familiar with protein powders. As the name suggests, protein powder is a concentrated form of protein (powdered, natch!), that has been derived from foods, often whey, soy, rice, hemp or pea (plus many others on the market nowadays). As such, it’s a concentrated form of one macronutrient (protein), and can be thought of more as a supplement than a whole food.

Why you’d use it

If you follow a plant-based diet, it’s really no problem to acquire enough protein from whole foods (as my friend Gena so aptly demonstrates here). That said, plant-based or not, many of us find ourselves pressed for time in the morning or on the go, and we sometimes don’t have the time to prep our food from scratch. When your schedule is ultra-full (like, say, at the holidays!) or you just don’t have time some days to meet your nutritional needs with whole foods, a protein powder comes in extremely handy to ensure you’re getting enough protein from a healthful source.

What I recommend

My favorite brand of protein powder by far is Growing Naturals. I love that they are committed to natural, non-GMO sources of protein, and that their powders are made from raw, sprouted grains and legumes (rice and pea, respectively). Compared to other protein powders on the market, Growing Naturals doesn’t include unnecessary fillers or ingredients that add calories and expense to the product.

They use rice because of its low-allergen potential (and the rice they source is low in heavy metals, having won the “world’s best rice award” two years in a row); pea protein contains a good amount of lysine, an essential amino acid that is lower in most other plant-based proteins. And both the rice and pea proteins contain the full spectrum of essential amino acids required by the human body for health.

I love the flavor of both their rice and pea varieties (very mild, creating a smooth, non-chalky mouthfeel in your smoothies or shakes) and the fact that they provide a good percentage of your daily protein (24 grams and 15 grams, respectively) in a fully plant-based powder. (And have you checked out the new Strawberry and Chocolate flavors? Yu–ummm!).

Cost

A 16-ounce (465 g) cannister of rice protein is $16.99 in the US and $25.51 in Canada; pea protein is $17.19 in the US and $32.28 in Canada.

Recipes I love using protein powder

As you can see, I use protein powder for way more than simple smoothies and shakes. Try one of these, to boost your protein intake in other recipes, too:

sugar-free, gluten-free mocha sunbutter recipe on rickiheller.com

High Protein Mocha Sunbutter Spread

Blendtec blueberry pudding recipe on rickiheller.com

Creamy Blueberry Protein Pudding

Chocolate Peppermint Bark from Diet, Dessert and Dogs

Chocolate Peppermint Bark with a Protein Boost

Almond Flour

JK Gourment Almond Flour on rickiheller.com

What it is

Almond flour (ground blanched almonds) is a wonderfully versatile grain-free and gluten-free flour that can be used in a multitude of applications.

Almond flour is great for anyone with celiac or following a Paleo or SCD (Specific Carbohydrate Diet) lifestyle. It’s also ideal for an anti-candida diet, since it’s low glycemic and low carb, and therefore won’t feed the yeast.

Why you’d use it

Particularly for someone on an anti-candida or grain-free diet, almond flour allows you to enjoy all kinds of baked goods and other typically grain-based recipes without using grains. Since grain servings are so coveted on the anti-candida diet (you’re allowed very few grains in the beginning), almond flour can provide you with an alternative flour while you save your grains for other purposes (like quinoa pilaf).

If you generally grind your own almonds to create almond flour as I do, almond flour is a perfect convenience product when you’re either out of almonds or just don’t have the time or inclination to do it yourself. And it’s already a staple in many European baked goods.

What I recommend

My favorite almond flour is this one from JK Gourmet. It’s finely ground, but still has a bit of texture (you’ll find there are many different brands, some much coarser than others). This fine texture allows for delicate baked goods while still providing enough substance for heftier treats like cookies. Plus, it’s great when used as a breading for tofu nuggets or even sweet potato fries.

The company also sells a variety of other products, both single ingredients and prepared mixes or treats and snacks. I’ve used their cookie mix and pancake/waffle mix with great success, and can’t wait to give the coconut flour and cocoa butter a try, too.

Devoted to using pure, natural ingredients without additives or preservatives (as they put it on the site, their mandate is “devoted to making all-natural, preservative-free whole-foods baked goods that taste as good as they are healthy”), JK Gourmet offers mixes that contain what would basically be my own ingredients in an similar recipe.

The full ingredient list for their pancake/waffle mix, for instance, is ” Almond flour, organic granulated coconut nectar, baking soda, salt.” Yep, FOUR INGREDIENTS. Seriously, if you’re looking for packaged foods that are minimally processed, this is exactly what you want.

Cost

Four pounds of the almond flour is $46.95 in the US and five pounds is $74.85 in Canada. The coconut flour is a bit more economical at 5 pounds for $34.00 in Canada (I couldn’t find it in the US).

Recipes I love using almond flour

sugar-free, grain-free lemony almond pancake recipe

Grain Free Lemony Almond Pancakes

grainfree, vegan, candida pizza crust recipe on rickiheller.com

Grain-Free, Bean-Free, Oil-Free Pizza Crust

candida diet, vegan, sugar-free, gluten free fruit crumble recipe

Autumn Fruit Crumble

Honorable Mentions: Almond Milk, Crackers,Vegetable Broth and Chili

gluten-free, sugar-free, vegan products on rickiheller.com

These brands are convenience products I use regularly when I don’t have time to whip something up from scratch. And while they aren’t “perfect,” I’m happy with the compromise of convenience versus “100% pure” when I really need it. For me, it’s worth sometimes using a prepared food to save me the stress or headache of making my own. So, while I try not to use this kind of product regularly, it sure does come in handy in a pinch!

Here are my best picks for processed/prepared foods:

Silk Almond Milk: The only boxed almond milk I’ve found without carrageenan. This is probably the most “processed” food I use or consume. It has a smooth, light texture and very neutral flavor, perfect for matcha tea, baking or cheese sauces. Silk brand is the only almond milk I buy that isn’t homemade.

Mary’s Crackers: Made from whole grains and not much else, Mary’s is a classic that comes in very handy when you need a portable snack, or if you’re serving appetizers and want to provide a cracker that everyone can enjoy.

Pacific Vegetable Broth: The only vegetable broth I’ve found without added chemicals OR sugar. It does contain mushrooms (often shunned on the ACD), but at this stage, for me, this doesn’t cause a problem. Pacific brand is the only boxed broth I use. (If you know of others, share in the comments!).

Amy’s Chili: The vegan staple that is often on-call for a quick, high protein meal that tastes just like homemade. Yes, it contains tofu, but if you eat tofu, you’ll love Amy’s. I usually add chopped kale or other green leafys to amp up the vitamins and minerals and help alkalize the tofu. Amy’s has other great products, too–check labels to see if the ingredients fit within your dietary boundaries.

Well, there you have it! I hope you enjoyed this installment of Ricki’s Raves. If you found this information useful (and if you have other recommendations to add), please let me know in the comments! 

 

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Disclosure: This post is sponsored by some or all of the companies featured here. As always, my opinions are my own. I never (ever) recommend items or products on the site that I don’t already use and love. If some links are affliate links and you choose to purchase using those links, at no cost to you, I will receive a small percentage of the sale. 

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