Archive for February, 2012

Kaeng Raeng Review


This past week, I did the 3-Day Raw Vegan Cleanse with the assistance of Kaeng Raeng smoothie packets. I wish I was one of those intensely dedicated types that could have done this without the assistance of meals, but the truth is, I’m not that strong! However, I do recommend the Kaeng Raeng detox smoothies for anyone struggling with lack of energy, acne, or sleep problems.  It helps me cut back on caffeine, clears my skin, and gets rid of my insomnia (at least for the days surrounding the detox).

The best thing about this cleanse is that it makes you think about EVERY single thing you put into your body.  I usually eat super healthy for a month or so after because I get into the habit of avoiding processed, unhealthy foods during the detox (and that habit doesn’t just go away.)

Here’s what you’re supposed to do:
Have three smoothies a day, each mixed with 24 to 34oz of water. You can add in ice, raw fruits and veggies to blend to give the shakes more substance (which I recommend). Just make sure you’re drinking at least 24 oz water each time!  The shakes replace your meals, so in between shakes, drink lots of water and snack on raw veggies or fruit to get through the day (I recommend apples, snap peas, and carrots! If you’re really struggling, snack on a few almonds as well.) The reason I recommend Kaeng Raeng for a detox instead of  home-made green smoothies is because the packets have all the nutrients (probiotics, vitamins, minerals, protein) you need on a daily basis–which is why detoxes that only involve lemon juice, water, and syrup are NOT healthy. You don’t want to deprive your body of the nutrients it needs to function, even for a few days!

Side effects: Be prepared to use the bathroom more frequently, and if you’re anything like me, be prepared for some weird food dreams! If you’re addicted to caffeine, you’re going to have a headache the first day. I didn’t find myself craving “bad” food (brownies, ice cream, cheese-its), but rather flavorful “good” warm food (roasted tomatoes, sauteed mushrooms and veggies, etc.)

There are PROS and CONS to going raw for a few days. 
The PROS are pretty obvious: it is so good for you and it takes barely any time to prepare meals. The CONS: It can be expensive if you don’t already have a lot of the ingredients on hand (kaeng raeng starts at about $50, raw sauces can especially add up when you buy them all at once), and restrictive — you probably won’t want to eat with friends during the detox to avoid temptations.

This is the second time I’ve done the Kaeng Raeng detox. They almost always have a celebrity sponsor, right now Kendra Wilkinson has a discount code for 15%, just enter KENDRA15 at checkout: http://kaengraeng.com — By the way, I purchased my KR detox myself, it was not a gift, and this post is not endorsed in any way by the company.

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Sure, your diet keeps your body slim and healthy, but its impact doesn’t stop there.

The food you eat — from wrinkle-fighting antioxidants in fruits and vegetables to hydrating healthy fats in fish — may matter to your skin almost as much as it does to your waistline.

Is your way of noshing helping or hurting your complexion? We asked top docs for their take on the face-friendliness of six popular diets.

Read on to see if yours passes the beauty test, and find out how you can alter what you eat for A-plus skin.

Health.com: 8 steps to healthy skin at every age


(such as The Mediterranean Diet and The Mediterranean Prescription)

The lowdown: Fish, leafy greens, olive oil, and fruit are the stars of this heart-healthy, waist-whittling diet. But the benefits don’t end there — eating Mediterranean may also protect against melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, a recent Italian study suggests.

On the cosmetic front, omega-3 fatty acids in fish help keep skin-cell membranes strong and elastic. And antioxidants in leafy greens and olive oil may protect against ultraviolet light and other environmental assaults that can break down collagen and elastin, the structural supports that keep skin plump and smooth. Result: less sagging and fewer wrinkles later.

Olive oil, tomatoes, and red wine also have antioxidants that help block the chemical reactions that lead to sun damage, explains Leslie Baumann, M.D., chief executive officer of the Baumann Cosmetic and Research Institute in Miami Beach, Florida.

Skin Rx: Red wine contains resveratrol, an antioxidant that’s great for skin — but sip in moderation. Overdoing it can dehydrate you, leaving skin dry. Too much alcohol can also generate free radicals, which can break down collagen, leading to wrinkles, Baumann says.

Health.com: 7 ways you’re aging your skin


(such as “The New Becoming Vegetarian” and “Skinny Bitch”)

The lowdown: Whether you skip meat and other animal products for your health, ethical reasons, or both, you probably eat more fresh produce and whole grains as a result — good news for your skin. The antioxidants in these eats neutralize the free radicals that contribute to wrinkles, brown spots, and other signs of aging.

Plant-based protein sources may also have super skin benefits. For example, beans contain zit-battling zinc and decrease inflammation, a culprit behind redness, pimples, and premature wrinkles, says Nicholas Perricone, M.D., author of “Forever Young: The Science of Nutrigenomics for Glowing, Wrinkle-Free Skin and Radiant Health at Every Age.” On the other hand, some studies suggest that dairy contributes to acne, Dr. Baumann says; consider other protein sources if breakouts are a problem.

Skin Rx: Veggie diets tend to be low in fat, so incorporate ground flaxseeds and olive and safflower oils to help your skin retain water, making it more supple, Baumann says.

Health.com: 12 mouthwatering meatless meals

High-protein, low-carb

(such as South Beach Diet and Atkins)

The lowdown: First, the good news: Cutting back on white bread, pasta, and refined sugar in order to fight flab can also lower the secretion of the stress hormone cortisol and minimize breakouts, says Manhattan dermatologist Francesca Fusco, M.D. Moderate plans that swap in whole grains, fresh produce, and lean meats also up antioxidants, blemish-busting zinc, and collagen-building protein.

But beware of more meat-heavy plans: Getting some cholesterol from red meat will shore up skin cells’ protective lipid layer, but “eating too much animal fat can result in an increased production of free radicals, which are thought to interfere with normal cellular processing,” says New York City–based aesthetic dermatologist Lisa Airan, M.D. “This may cause premature cell death,” which can lead to sagging skin.

Skin Rx: Drink lots of water to keep skin hydrated. Choose fish and other lean proteins — not just saturated fat-laden red meat. Eat antioxidant-rich leafy greens daily.

Health.com: 15 big benefits of water


(such as “Eat More, Weigh Less”)

The lowdown: Cutting down on saturated fat — found in red meat and whole milk — is great for your heart and waistline. A diet low in animal fat also stems the production of free radicals that can prematurely age skin, Airan says.

Still, your skin needs some fat, especially the good kind found in nuts and olive oil. Fat helps your body absorb complexion-friendly antioxidants and fat-soluble vitamins, and strengthens cell membranes — and ultimately your epidermis — for a dewier, more supple face.

Skin Rx: Eat a little fat. “Get at least 20 percent of your calories from fat, mainly the unsaturated kind,” says New York City dermatologist Cheryl Karcher, M.D. Sauté veggies in olive oil, toss nuts into salads, and keep omega-3-rich salmon, flaxseeds, and the occasional fortified egg in your diet. Linoleic acid, found in vegetable oils, is “crucial for bolstering the skin barrier, which keeps moisture in and irritants out of your skin,” Dr. Baumann says.

Health.com: The 50 fattiest foods in the states


(such as “Raw Food Life Force Energy”)

The lowdown: Raw-foodists — who nosh mainly on produce, nuts, and sprouted beans and grains — believe that not cooking food preserves its natural enzymes, aiding digestion, energy, and weight loss. Though these claims aren’t universally accepted by doctors, there’s no denying that these foods make for a happy complexion.

What’s more, the healthy oils in nuts, avocados, and olive oil keep skin cell membranes strong and pliant. The downside: “When you eat very little meat, it’s challenging to get enough of the building blocks for collagen,” Airan says.

Skin Rx: Sneak in sprouted beans, sushi, soy, and other raw proteins for collagen, and incorporate healthy fat sources like almonds, flaxseeds, and olive oil to help build firm skin cells.

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Love is smoothie happiness in the Baskett household! In honor of Valentine’s Day, I’m sharing a smoothie that’s yummy with some color. When I’m making a new smoothie, I love for it to be a bright, fun color. This one is a pretty purple, which is one of my favorite colors, and it is great because it’s high in iron (from the cabbage).

I think I’m going to surprise Hank with this for a smoothie breakfast in bed! You can steal my idea if you want, wink wink.

My Purple V-Day Smoothie:

  • 2 cups of chopped red cabbage
  • 1 cups blueberries
  • 2 bananas
  • Handful of strawberries
  • Ice and water (add ice enough for thickness)

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Vegan Nutella Recipe


It’s a sad moment for many to learn that Nutella isn’t vegan. Luckily, this addictive, chocolaty hazelnut spread can be veganized! This recipe for homemade Nutella is from Christie Matheson’s book Cake Simple.

This could be great for V-day breakfast, gifted in a hand-labeled mason jar, or even used as a frosting for a cake or cupcakes. I haven’t tried it but it looks like it could be good…enjoy!

Vegan Nutella


  • 1 cup hazelnuts
  • 12 oz vegan milk chocolate, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons mild vegetable oil
  • 3 tablespoons confectioner’s sugar
  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4ths teaspoon salt


  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Spread the hazelnuts in a single layer on a baking sheet and toast them in the oven until they’ve browned, about 12 minutes. When they’ve slightly cooled, peel off the skin by rubbing them with a kitchen towel – it’s ok if some of the skin remains.
  3. Meanwhile, melt the chocolate in a medium saucepan over simmering water or in the microwave, stirring until smooth. Allow the chocolate to cool completely.
  4. Take your toasted hazelnuts and, using a food processor (like a Cuisinart), grind the hazelnuts into a paste. Once you have your paste, add the oil, sugar, cocoa powder, vanilla, and salt and continue to blend until smooth (or as smooth as possible).
  5. Add the melted chocolate and continue to blend well.
  6. Strain the mixture to remove any remaining solids. The outcome will be a fairly thin mixture, but it will thicken as it cools. The Nutella will stay for 2 weeks in a jar.

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Hold the GlutenSo, your friend has a gluten intolerance, huh?

Oh, and your mom was just diagnosed with celiac disease? And your co-worker’s wife’s sister’s BFF thinks her digestive issues might be linked to … what was that?

Oh, gluten.

Feel like everyone you know these days has an issue with gluten? Sure, it’s a bit of an exaggeration, but the truth is celiac disease (CD) — an autoimmune response to gluten — currently affects 1 in 133 people.

Why Is Gluten the Bad Guy?

Here’s the short of it: When people with CD eat foods containing wheat, rye, barley and triticale (i.e. gluten!), their immune systems cop an attitude and create a toxic reaction that causes damage to their small intestines, making them feel downright awful. We’re talkin’ cramping, depression, migraines, skin rashes, vomiting and more bathroom trips than you care to learn about.

Hold the GlutenDon’t Be So Sensitive

As for gluten intolerance and gluten sensitivity, the digestive system is again left unhappy, but without the CD immune response. Symptoms range from mild discomfort to those that are comparative to the ultra-icky ones related to celiac disease.

“The prevalence of gluten intolerance and celiac disease diagnosis is certainly remarkable and has clearly caught the attention of the medical community by surprise,” says Jennifer Fugo, certified health coach and founder of Gluten Free School. “They’ve spent a massive amount of time generally believing that an immune reaction to gluten was of little interest and problem for those of us complaining of various issues that don’t quite make sense when viewed separately.”

Gluten on the Rise

So, why now? Why the increase in diagnoses? Experts say there are two main reasons pointing to the increased awareness of gluten and the nasty spell it has cast on many:

Today’s “wheat” isn’t exactly wheat. Kiss that idyllic vision of farmers harvesting their grains goodbye. The truth is, very little of our grain production is done in a wholesome manner. These days, we’re chowing down on refined grains that have been modified to suit the business that agriculture has become.

We like to eat … a lot. Take the fact that glutenous grains have been hocus-pocused and match it with the fact that the overconsumption of food is an ever-expanding problem, and you’ve delivered quite the double-whammy to your guts. “What might be an occasional issue in the past for those sensitive has now become a monster storm of inflammation that rolls through the body at every bite, [causing] repeated damage to the body,” Fugo said.

Hold the GlutenGluten-Free Game Plan

So what’s a Healthy Bitch to do? If you suspect gluten may be the creeper that lurks in your gut, then get to the doc for testing. And listen up: Don’t stop eating gluten before you have a blood test — it may provide a negative result. If the blood test proves you’re a dead ringer for celiac disease or gluten intolerance, then the doctor may order a small bowel biopsy. Don’t worry — after the hell your intestines have been through, a teeny biopsy is a walk in the park.

Left untreated, celiac disease can lead to even more health problems, including Type 1 diabetes, infertility, certain types of intestinal cancer and osteoporosis.  So, don’t mess around, mmmk?

Want to kick gluten for good?  Check out this gluten free cleanse!

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A new study conducted by Canadian scientists has found that a special vegetarian diet including soy, nuts, viscous & plant sterol, lowered bad cholesterol significantly, without the assistance of drugs, over a six month period. In fact, study participants on this diet showed a significantly greater lowering of bad cholesterol than those on an ordinary vegetarian diet of low-fat and whole grains, over the same period.

The new study, conducted by David J. A. Jenkins, M.D., of St. Michael’s Hospital and the University of Toronto, and colleagues, is published in the August 24/31, 2011 issue of JAMA, the journal of the American Medical Association.

The new study “represents the first randomized trial to our knowledge to assess the ability of an intervention that counsels for consumption of these cholesterol-lowering foods to reduce LDL-C at 6-month follow-up in real-world conditions,” the researchers wrote.


In the study, a group of 345 Canadian who volunteered for the study were selected to participate on the basis of having initially high levels of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (“LDL-C” or bad Cholesterol), ranging from 135 to 205 mg/dL for the men in the study, and from 116 to 178 mg/dL for the postmenopausal women in the study. None of the participants had a personal or family history of cardiovascular disease, hypertension, or diabetes, and none of the participants were currently taking any cholesterol-lowering medications.

The participants were randomly divided into three groups — two “intervention groups” who went on the special vegetarian diet, high in soy protein, nuts, viscous, and plant sterols, and a control group who went on a vegetarian low-saturated fat diet with high fiber and whole grains, including whole grain cereals, fruit and vegetables, but not containing any of the four mentioned cholesterol-lowering foods (soy, nuts, viscous, and plant sterols). Over the six months of the study, one of the intervention groups (routine) received counseling in two one-hour visits, and the other intervention group (intensive) received seven such counseling visits.

According the the study report, the special foods selected for the intervention diet (soy, nuts, viscous and plant sterols) have previously been recognized by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA), based on prior studies, as being associated with lowering of cholesterol and improved heart health. “Many of these foods [also] have other attributes, including lowering the glyceimic index, which may aid in reducing disease risk for cardiovascular heart disease, diabetes, and obesity,” the researchers stated. However, according to the authors, the long-term effect of diets rich in these foods compared to conventional dietary advice had not previously been measured.

A sample of the special diet assigned to the intervention groups in the study, compared to the control group diet, is shown in a chart called “Representative Diets Followed in Control and Dietary Portfolio Treatment Groups,” that is linked with the published study report in JAMA.

Here is a sample of the foods included in the special cholesterol-lowering diet, provided by the study authors:


Hot oat bran cereal, soy beverage, strawberries, sugar and psyllium, oat bran bread, enriched margarine (enriched with plant sterols), and double-fruit jam

Snack ( all Snacks could be eaten with meals, if desired)

Almonds, soy beverage, fresh fruit


Spicy black bean soup, Sandwich (soy deli slices, oat bran bread, enriched margarine, lettuce, tomato, cucumber)


Almonds, psyllium, fresh fruit


Tofu bake with ratatouille (firm tofu, eggplant, onions, sweet peppers), pearled barley, vegetables (e.g. broccoli, cauliflower)


Fresh fruit, psyllium, soy beverage

The researchers measured the LDL-C levels of the study participants at the beginning of the study, at each of their counseling visits, and at six months, to determine the effect of the assigned diets on the participants’ LDL-C cholesterol levels over six months.

The overall attrition rate of the participants was not significantly different between the three study groups (18 percent for intensive dietary group, 23 percent for routine dietary group, and 26 percent for control group).


The researchers found that at the end of six months on the assigned diets, the LDL-C cholesterol levels of those on the special cholesterol-lowing diet who received 7 counseling sessions (intensive group) were reduced by an average of 13.8 percent, the LDL-C cholesterol levels of those on the special diet who received two counseling sessions (routine group) were reduced by an average of 13.1 percent, and the LDL-C cholesterol levels of those in the control group were reduced by 3.0 percent.

“Percentage LDL-C reductions for each dietary portfolio were significantly more than the control diet,” the authors wrote. “The 2 dietary portfolio interventions did not differ significantly. Among participants randomized to one of the dietary portfolio interventions, percentage reduction in LDL-C on the dietary portfolio was associated with dietary adherence,” the researchers stated.

The special diet achieved these significant reductions in LDL-C (bad cholesterol), “without lowering HDL-C [good cholesterol],” according to the study authors.

The researchers also found that the intensive cholesterol-lowering diet let to a significant reduction in diastolic blood pressure of 2.1 mm Hg, compared with the control diet. In addition, the Cholesterol-lowering diet reduced the calculated 10-year cardiovascular heart disease risk by 11.3% in the intensive intervention dietary group, and by 10.8% in the routine intervention group, according to the study authors. These reductions were significantly greater than the .5% reduction in cardiovascular heart disease risk in the control group, the researchers found.

“In conclusion,” the authors wrote, “this study indicated the potential value of using recognized cholesterol-lowering foods in combination. We believe this approach has clinical application. A meaningful 13 percent LDL-C reduction can be obtained after only 2 clinic visits of approximately 60-and 40-minute sessions.”

The authors observed that upon joining the study the study participants, “were already consuming an acceptable background diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol.” Therefore, they further concluded “this approach may underestimate the effectiveness of the diet when applied to those individuals who are not already following therapeutic diets.”

Implications – Is Changing Your Diet Enough?

“A lot of people rely on the medication, but diet is really powerful actually,” Dr. Jenkins, the study’s lead author, who is a professor of nutrition and metabolism at University of Toronto, told Reuters Health. He suggested that doctors should encourage their patients with high cholesterol to try diet changes, if they’re interested, according to Reuters. “A couple of visits to a nutritionist might be enough for motivated patients to make the switch to a plant-based, higher-fiber diet,” he added.

“The diet only is enough for the majority of the people that have a not-so-good lifestyle,” Dr. Joan Sabate, head of nutrition at Loma Linda University in California (who was not involved in the study), told Reuters Health. “By changing the diet and their lifestyle they can establish good control of their cholesterol,” she said.

“The main takeaway here is that people can lower their cholesterol with diet if they put their minds to it,” Dr. Jenkins, lead author of the study, told ABC News. “These can be small changes. We’re not asking people to live behind bars,” he said.

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I finally finished the cleanse!

For the most part I’m glad I did it and stuck with the six-day plan. Day two was a little hard because my body was craving more sustenance and I really needed to chew on something, so I had a stockpile of vegetables by my side at all times. Day three and four were a little easier because I was adjusting, but near the end of day four I developed a headache that I could not get rid of, no matter how much water I drank. Day five went a little smoother because I knew I was almost done.

The last day I pushed through and felt great. My skin cleared up and I’ve lost 5 ½ pounds (granted this will return when I go back to my normal eating). This cleanse was great because it rid my body of toxins — so I can start eating healthy and fresh for the New Year. Still, I recommend the three day cleanse, but if you have the stamina to do six all the power to ya!


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