Essential oils have been used for thousands of years. The Ancient Egyptians were well-known to use them both both medicinally and also for aroma therapy. They were also used extensively in India as part of Ayurvedic medicine. And of course botanical medicines were used by many peoples around the world for generations. Hippocrates, considered the father of modern medicine, documented the medicinal properties of over 300 plants.
And, of course, the food-grade oils can also be used as food flavouring, which becomes particularly useful when avoiding sugar and other nasties.
My favourite use for essential oil is orange oil in chocolate. Orange chocolate was one of my favourites growing up, but I am unaware of any healthy versions. So I made my own, which is available in my Easy Keto cookbook.
I initially had trouble locating a good orange oil for cooking, so here is a link to Australian Essential Oils, who make a beautiful sweet orange oil.
Sendra, E., 2016. Essential oils in foods: From ancient times to the 21st century.
Gelatine is often associated with delectable desserts, jelly (jell-O), and the delightful wobble in the perfect panna cotta. Gelatine is not the first thing that comes to mind when thinking of health food, but it been used for hundreds of years for its extraordinary health benefits.
Gelatine is the product of bones, cartilage and skin boiled down so the collagen can be extracted, which becomes the clear, flavourless substance we know as gelatine. Many people are aware of the health benefits of collagen, otherwise known as the beauty protein, for our skin, but it also has many other benefits.
Gelatine has been used in traditional diets for years as a health restorer, which is why chicken soup is often recommended for the sick. It has also been shown to be good for the digestion, joint protection, good sleep (glycine from gelatine has been shown to improve sleep when taken before bed), and many other benefits.
In the treatment of feverish and acute infectious diseases, it is evident that gelatine plays a double role. In the first place, the nutritive qualities of gelatine, its ready absorption and colloidal properties, make it ideally suited for inclusion in the diet both during the height of fever and during convalescence. Bayley emphasised this factor from a nurse’s viewpoint, observing that gelatine acts as a base for the preparation of many dainty, pleasing dishes which appeal to the patient with poor appetite, thus providing much-needed nourishment. —N.R. GOTTHOFFER
Gelatine sheets are supposed to be standardised so if a recipe calls for a sheet of titanium gelatine, for example, it should be standard strength across brands, however, I have found that not to be the case. For that reason, to make things easier for you, these are the gelatine sheets I use in the keto cookbook.
Gotthoffer, N.R., 1945. Gelatin in nutrition and medicine.
Proksch E, Segger D, Degwert J, Schunck M, Zague V, Oesser S. Oral supplementation of specific collagen peptides has beneficial effects on human skin physiology: a double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Skin pharmacology and physiology. 2014;27(1):47-55.
Schauss AG, Stenehjem J, Park J, Endres JR, Clewell A. Effect of the novel low molecular weight hydrolyzed chicken sternal cartilage extract, BioCell Collagen, on improving osteoarthritis-related symptoms: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Journal of agricultural and food chemistry. 2012 Apr 16;60(16):4096-101.
Samonina, G., Lyapina, L., Kopylova, G., Pastorova, V., Bakaeva, Z., Jeliaznik, N., Zuykova, S. and Ashmarin, I., 2000. Protection of gastric mucosal integrity by gelatin and simple proline-containing peptides. Pathophysiology, 7(1), pp.69-73.
Stevia is often categorised as an artificial sweetener, but it is not artificial, in fact, it is simply a small green herb with extremely sweet leaves. I often have one growing in my garden. In commercial versions, the leaves are ground and processed into a fine white powder.
Pure stevia is extremely sweet! Hundreds of times sweeter than sugar! In fact, 1/2 tsp is equivalent to 1 cup sugar! I use pure stevia in my cookbooks, so if you are using my recipes, make sure the brand you use is pure; otherwise some of my recipes will not work. Some of the brands in the supermarket have a huge label that says ‘Stevia’ but it is actually mixed with erythritol to bulk it up. Stevia itself is ultra sweet, so it is only used in small amounts. If one of these alternative brands is used, you could imagine that the result would not be very sweet.
I also don’t recommend erythritol or xylitol because neither can be absorbed by humans, which means they can cause digestive symptoms and interfere with digestion of the food eaten with it. And good digestion is paramount to both good health and weight loss. Also, xylitol can kill a dog (low blood sugar, seizures, and/or liver failure) if it accidentally gets a hold of something made with it. If you have animals, it is safer not to have it in the house.
What about the stevia aftertaste?
Stevia leaves do have a bitter component to them, however, the good brands remove that bitter component during processing. Cheap brands can still have the bitter after taste. It is also important to avoid using too much; too much can leave an artificial taste. If you have had a bad stevia experience, I would recommend trying again.
In my opinion, stevia is the best natural, alternative sweetener for a strict keto diet (it doesn’t contain the toxic chemicals that can cause hunger and health issues, it doesn’t spike blood sugar, and doesn’t cause digestive issues like the sugar alcohols that cannot be absorbed).
And, for those who have never liked stevia, many have told me that flavoured stevia was a game changer. My favourite is vanilla, which is great in chai tea, coffee etc. Or, strawberry in yoghurt.
The brand I use and reference in all my recipes is Nirvana.
In most Western countries, the Friedewald formula is used to calculate LDL levels. Because measuring the LDL directly is time consuming and requires more expensive equipment, for years, labs have been using this equation:
LDL= [total cholesterol] – HDL – [Triglycerides/5]
The total cholesterol, HDL and triglyceride measurements are used to calculate the LDL. The problem is, the equation doesn’t always work. Pathologists know it doesn’t work when triglycerides are high, but studies have shown that it also doesn’t work when triglycerides are low. One of the pleasant side-effects of being on a low-carb diet is that our triglycerides will drop. If you get your cholesterol checked, it may look like you have elevated LDL, and the doctor might read you the riot act or suggest ‘treatment’. But, if your triglycerides are low, your LDL reading on your test will be incorrect.
You can ask the doctor for a direct LDL test, which solves the problem. But, a new formula has been developed that is much more accurate for calculating LDL levels when your triglycerides are less than 1.0 mmol/L (100 md/dL). Thanks to this calculator, you can figure out accurate LDL levels yourself. I had my LDL checked directly, and the calculator was spot on with its result.
Simply enter your total cholesterol, your HDL, and your triglycerides, and you will get a much more accurate calculation.
LDL = mmol/L as per "Friedewald" formula
LDL = mmol/L as per "Iranian" formula
Note: The calculator measures both mmol/L (Australia/New Zealand/UK), and md/DL (U.S.). Click the link at the top to change to the alternate measurement.
Chemical perfumes, skin care products, and make-up can put junk in our trunk! They can cause weight gain!
Why? Some of the chemicals disrupt our hormones, which causes fat storage.
I recommend using only natural ingredients on our skin; something we could safely ingest. The average person uses around nine skin care products every day, which exposes us to over 100 chemicals every day. In addition to our poor Western diet, toxicity is the other huge problem contributing to modern disease and ageing. Chemicals are absorbed directly into our bloodstream when we put them on our skin.
Try to find products that you can easily understand the ingredients; for example, sunflower oil, aloe vera or rosehip oil. The same goes for make-up, perfume, and other personal care products.
Here are a few of my personal favourites.
Ecology skin cream, developed by Crystal Fieldhouse, who chooses to eat high quality, nutrient dense foods, so she wanted the same for her skin care.
She herself used to have very sensitive skin, and found that commercial skin care did not meet her personal standards or help with her problem skin. She decided to go back to traditional principles.
She began experimenting, and has developed a beautiful range of skin creams, made with only a handful of recognisable ingredients. These are ingredients you can picture growing in nature. For more information, click here.
To get a free konjac exfoliation sponge with your order, enter ‘Bring back the fat’ as the promo code at checkout.
Happy Skin Care is a beautiful brand and they are also a small family business. They have a lovely natural cosmetic and skin care range, including cleansers, toners, moisturisers, eye creams, masks, anti-ageing creams, and more. For more information and their full range, click here.
You can also purchase a sample pack to trial the products; the pack includes a cleanser, hydrating tonic, moisturiser or facial oil, and a mineral mask.