Friday, March 20, 2009

4 Guilt-Free Sweet Treats That Actually Improve Your Health

I've noticed that there's a few common themes in the change-rooms post Bikram Yoga classes. Aside from the normal chit-chat as to what lies ahead or behind us for the day, and aside from the obvious 'look how red my face is!' or 'wasn't that a fantastic class' comments, there seems to be a lot of discussion about food.

I guess it stands to reason - after 90 minutes of twisting, holding, bending and stretching, not to mention sweating does tend to lend itself to a certain must-be-satisfied-soon sort of ravenous hunger. And even though most of us take a good 30 minutes or so after class before we can really stomach the idea of food, that doesn't mean we're not already thinking about what we might get stuck into, does it?!

So with that in mind, and given that I know you're wanting to keep a strong focus on health but at the same time, well, live a little, I thought I'd give you my favourite sweet treats that actually improve your health. You may be surprised by one or two of them ..

1. Stevia - a lifesaver for those who love to bake or (admit it!) sprinkle sugar on their food from time to time, this South American herb is actually 30 times sweeter than sugar, and, in it’s liquid format, can be up to 300 times sweeter than sugar. The really great news here is that not only is Stevia calorie free, but unlike most artificial sweeteners - which are so effective at tricking your body that they cause insulin to be released and fat to be stored - Stevia actually has no effect on your blood sugar. You can purchase Stevia at any organic store or most health food stores.

2. 70% Dark Organic Chocolate. Okay so dark chocolate sure isn’t as sweet as milk, but hey, it’s still chocolate. According to olympic-level Strength and Conditioning Coach and creator of Biosignature Modulation Charles Poliquin, eating up to 90 grams of lead-free organic dark chocolate each day can actually assist in weight loss! Not to mention a helluva lot of ‘feel-good’ factor I might add! Cocoa is rich in polyphonol antioxidants - particularly important for females to support a healthy uterus. Remember - no more than 90grams, and it should be at least 70% dark. To release flavor and reduce pigging out, shave the chocolate with a grater before eating it.

3. Organic white wine or champagne. Those who love their sweet white wine will be thrilled to find out that white wine and even champagne is just as beneficial for its antioxidant properties as what red wine is. Wine contains the before-mentioned polyphonol antioxidant but also has the antioxidant resveratrol - not only does it have stress-building properties, but it improves immune and heart health, and even aids in the release of certain stored body fats.

4. Berries. Regular readers will know I’m not a huge advocate of daily fruit intake. Not if you want to be lean and living in great health, anyway. After all - fruit’s not available all year round in nature so why should we imagine we know better? There is one exception to this rule though, and that’s berries. Blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, any old berries, just eat ‘em. There’s something ever so luxurious about a bowl of berries with your post meal, isn’t there? One word of warning on berries - conventionally they are quite toxic, so always choose organic. If toxins don’t bother you just compare the taste - it’s like eating water compared to incredible sweetness and flavour.

Do you have any other favourite sweet treats for post yoga that still fit into the healthy category? Please let me know if I've missed anything!

Not just Food for Yoga. Food for Life.


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