Low Carb Chocolate Shake

I joined Yuri’s beta testing group for the new book that he’s writing, and it all kicked off yesterday.  Since then I’ve been trying to come up with new recipes for old favourites, bringing the carbohydrate levels way down for those low carb days.  Since the diet doesn’t include my daily stress management tool – chocolate – I’ve been looking for alternatives.

So today being a low carb day, I changed up my favourite chocolate shake to stifle a craving.  Not only is it low in carbs but it is very high in protein due to the peanut butter, spinach, and protein powder. My taste testers agreed that it was a fantastic alternative, both returning for seconds.


Low Carb Chocolate Shake

  • 1 cup coconut milk (canned, full fat)
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • ¼ cup peanut butter
  • 3-4 cups baby spinach
  • 3 tbsp protein powder
  • 3 tbsp dark cocoa powder
  • 20 drops stevia (Now’s French Vanilla flavour is my favourite!)

Place all ingredients in a blender and blend well.

Serves 2 (each serving has approximately 4g of sugar)


Luca got chocolate on his face, shirt, the floor, and couch pillows!  Just a normal day with 3 boys!

High Fructose Corn Syrup May Contain Mercury


A recent study published in the journal Environmental Health in the US found that much of the high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) that is replacing sugar in processed foods is tainted with mercury.

Mercury is neurological toxin – toxic to humans.  It is a metal that causes  kidney and liver damage and white blood cell imbalance.  It is related to underactive thyroid for its ability to displace iodine in the thyroid glands.  Significant amounts in the body can produce insomnia, dizziness, fatigue, depression, memory loss, dermatitis, and hair loss.

How does mercury get into the food supply?  Mercury cell chlor-alkali products are used to produce thousands of other products including food ingredients such as citric acid, sodium benzoate, and high fructose corn syrup.  HFCS is used as a sweetener to enhance the shelf life of food products.

The problem lies in the realization that mercury residue may be found in all products produced by the mercury cell chlor-alkali industry.  In 2003 the Environmental Protection Agency reported in the Federal Register that on average approximately seven tons of mercury were missing from each plant in the year 2000.  There are 8 plants in the US, each containing as much as 8,000 pounds of mercury, and every year, unaccounted for mercury losses are reported to the EPA.

Mercury grade caustic soda and hydrochloric acid are primarily used by the HFCS industry.  Several chemicals are required to make HFCS, including caustic soda, hydrochloric acid, alpha-amylase, gluco-amylase, isomerase, filter aid, powdered carbon, calcium chloride, and magnesium sulfate. 

If mercury grade caustic soda, hydrochloric acid, or sodium hypochlorite are used in the milling process that turns the corn and the cornstarch molecule into HFCS, it just may end up in your food.  Environmental Health Officers and researchers at National Institute of Standards and Technology found low levels of total mercury in foods they tested.  Researchers found mercury in nearly 50% of samples of commercial HFCS tested in 2005.

In 2007, the average daily consumption of HFCS in the US was 49.8 g per person according to the US deparment of Agriculture website.  But there are those who consume much more that this amount when you account for the amount of soda some people consume, while others consume none at all.

You may notice HFCS as one of the first ingredients on product labels.  Ingredients are listed in descending order by weight, which means that if HFCS is the first ingredient on a label, there is more HFCS than any other ingredient in that product.  And if HFCS is one of the first few ingredients, there is a chance that it is accompanied by traces of mercury, if it was manufactured with mercury grade chlor-alkali chemicals.

Since mercury is an accepted neurotoxic heavy metal, the American Academy of Pediatrics has recommends that we minimize any form of mercury exposure to our children to ensure optimal child health and nervous system development.  I would add to avoid mercury exposure especially during pregnancy – a time when mothers think it acceptable to indulge their sweet tooth – perhaps to the detriment of their unborn child.

Mercury isn’t the only reason I suggest avoiding HFCS.  High doses of unnatural sugars (and even the natural ones) go straight into the bloodstream and attack the walls of the arteries while spiking blood sugar in a manner that sends the whole body into an unbalanced frenzy.

Choose natural sugars wherever possible such as unpasteurized honey, agave syrup, daikon root syrup, and real maple syrup in small amounts.  Avoid commercial processed foods and simply look to food labels for some added motivation to avoid them!  Simply now knowing what chemicals go into the processing of HFCS is a good enough reason to avoid anything containing it, that’s for sure!


“Mercury from chlor-alkali plants: measured concentrations in food product sugar.”
Renee Dufault, Blaise LeBlanc, Roseanne Schnoll, Charles Cornett, Laura Schweitzer, Lyn Patrick, Jane Hightower, David Wallinga, Walter Lukiw. Environmental Health 2009, 8:2 (26 January 2009).  doi:10.1186/1476-069X-8-2

What’s for Breakfast?

istock_berriesHave you ever seen the Nutella commercial where a woman tells us about how Nutella provides the energy her kids need?  That may be true, but the so-called energy they are getting via high amounts of sugar is really just sending their blood sugar through the roof and setting them up for some attention disorder symptoms in their first period class.

And its not only Nutella that sets you and your kids up for failure during the day.  Any commercial breakfast that contains wheat and high amounts of sugar will do the same thing – this means breakfast cereals, toast, porridge, toaster strudels, coffee, etc.

Coffee, even if it doesn’t contain any sugar at all, is one of the biggest culprits that sabotages your efforts to stay alert during the day – causing you to hit the wall.

Caffeine is a central nervous system stimulant which stimulates the adrenal glands to secrete adrenaline, the flight or fight hormone.  Though we rarely encounter lions and other predators in the daily grind, we have not yet lost this primal instinct.  When caffeine is consumed, it causes increased blood pressure, heart rate, perspiration, muscular tension, nervousness, and irritability.  The adrenals become fatigued and hypoglycemia results, causing the body to crave sugars and get blood sugar back up.

If you drink coffee daily, your adrenals will become exhausted and unable to respond to stress.  Stress does not include outer stresses like job stress or issues with family members, but overall stress on your body which includes dietary stressors as well.  I would go as far to say that dietary stress trumps all other stress on your body as the most detrimental type of stress.

If you can drink coffee and go straight to sleep after, you have likely exhausted your adrenals for so long that they simply don’t respond anymore!  Your days are likely long and fatigued as well if this is the case.

This is why it is important to start your day with whole foods – nutrients that will nourish the body and the cells rather than throw the body out of balance.  If your body is out of balance, it’s likely working far below its operating potential!  If you’re not operating at your full potential, it’s time to look at what fuel you are putting into your engine!

Opt for fresh, raw fruits and vegetables for breakfast.  Have a salad or a bowl of fruit.  Make your own almond milk with soaked almonds, sesame seeds, and sweeten it with a banana and pour it over some cut up apples and pears.  Make a smoothie or have a green juice.  In our house we start the day with barley greens, go for a workout, and then come home for something more substantial.  I usually opt for an avocado, but lately it’s been 3 apples.  Yum!