Grilled Boneless Chicken Breasts

Servings: 4 (4-ounce portions)
2 large boneless chicken breasts
½ tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
½ teaspoon coarse salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 teaspoon Italian spice

Lightly pound the chicken breasts to a uniform thickness, about ½ thick. Brush lightly with extra virgin olive oil. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and Italian spices. Grill on a medium hot grill 7-8 minutes per side, turning once. Can be cooked on an inside, stove top grill or on a outdoor barbeque.

March 27, 2015 in Everything Else by

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Dietary Cholesterol Isn’t Bad Anymore!

CholesterolThe U.S. government Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee is now saying dietary cholesterol (the kind you eat) “is no longer a nutrient of concern.” Jeez, it only took about 60 years to undo the bad science and give out the correct advice.  Dietary cholesterol DOES NOT CAUSE HEART DISEASE.  The primary cause of heart disease is inflammation, which is directly linked to excess insulin production, which is directly linked to excess consumption of caloric sweeteners and powdery flours.

It’s the sugar, stupid! It’s always been the sugar.

February 13, 2015 in General, Health, Nutrition, Scientific News by

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Sugar-free Mom book review: One thumb up and one thumb down

SugarfreemomThe biggest problem with this book is author Brenda Bennett’s mis-representation and use of the word “natural” for many processed ingredients that are included in her recipes. An apple, for example, is an unaltered and natural food. Coconut sugar is not. Erythritol is not. Xanthan gum is not. Brown rice syrup is not. Even powdered stevia is not natural. Natural foods can be seen and eaten as they actually exist in nature, whereas the substances used and recommended by Bennett have either been treated, reduced or created by humans. It follows that Bennett’s introductory comments about sugars, other caloric sweeteners, sugar alcohols and flours are incomplete and create confusion. It’s better to skim through her food addiction story and the rest of her commentary, and go straight to the cookbook.

This is where Bennett shines. The book is smartly organized, beautifully photographed and has 194 yummy-looking recipes. Many are familiar comfort food recipes that a whole family can enjoy. Some are completely sugar-free and some have the processed substances listed above. She’s very keen on erythritol and stevia as the preferred sweetening agent. Other fave ingredients include potatoes, gluten-free flour, legumes and all things coconut (the new darling ingredient of Paleo people). If Bennett had titled her book as a low-sugar option for families, I would have felt less mislead. Purists who are looking for recipes without any caloric sweeteners, powdery flours and/or foods that have a naturally high sugar content should pass on this book.

February 13, 2015 in Product Recommendations, Thumbs Down, Thumbs Up by

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For Valentine’s Day: Sugar-free Peanut Butter and Chocolate Truffles


Recipe created by Mellissa Sevigny

This is an easy sugar-free, egg-free, gluten free and low-carb peanut butter truffle recipe that requires no cooking or chilling time!
Serves: 18 truffles
For the truffles
  • 1 cup natural (sugar free) chunky peanut butter, room temperature
  • ⅓ cup zero carb vanilla protein powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened
  • 3 Tbsp heavy whipping cream
  • ⅓ granulated sugar substitute (such as Splenda)
For the coating
  • 2 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 squares 85% (or more) cocoa dark chocolate
Whip together all of the ingredients until fully combined iwith a mixer, food processor, or magic bullet. Roll into 18 one inch truffles. Chill for 5 minutes (optional) before rolling in cocoa powder, or drizzling with melted dark chocolate. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 10 days, or in the freezer for up to 1 month.
Approx nutrition info per serving:1 “naked” truffle: 121 calories, 9g fat, 2g net carbs, 5g protein
1 cocoa dusted truffle: 124 calories, 9g fat, 2g net carbs, 5g protein
1 choco drizzled truffle: 128 calories, 9g fat, 2.25g net carbs, 5g protein

February 13, 2015 in Recipes by

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“Fake” Fiber Added By Food Manufacturers

330px-Modified_food_starchCheck out my latest article about “fake” dietary fiber that’s been added by food manufacturers to super-charge fiber counts.  It’s published at  Click on the link below:


October 29, 2014 in Nutrition by

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Sugary Sodas Shorten Life by 4.6 Years!

SodasHere’s yet another nail in the sugar coffin.  In addition to making you fat, sick and tired, a study published in the American Journal of Public Health suggests that sugary soda drinks speed up the aging process.  Aging shrinks telomeres, the caps on the end of your chromosomes.  The shorter the telomere, the harder it is for a cell to regenerate, and the quicker it ages. Sugary soda consumption can shorten your telomeres and promote aging, possibly the same impact as smoking.

Researchers at UC San Francisco studied the stored DNA of 5,300 healthy Americans who participated in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey over a 14 year period.   The participants were all between 20-65 years old and had no history of diabetes or cardiovascular disease  The big discovery is that the people who drank more soda had shorter telomeres.  Just 20 ounces of soda per day was linked to 4.6 years of aging.  “The extremely high dose of sugar that we can put into our body within seconds by drinking sugared beverages is uniquely toxic to metabolism,” says Elissa Epel, senior author of the study and psychiatry professor.

There was no link to aging with diet sodas or with fruit juices.

Mothers, save your children and get all sugary drinks out of the house!

This post was sourced from an October 20, 2014 article in The Washington Post entitled “A lifetime of sugary sodas may be 4.6 years shorter” by Lindsey Bever.

October 21, 2014 in Scientific News, Sugar/Caloric Sweeteners by

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The Gluten Sensitivity – Sugar Connection

BellyAcheGluten is a protein in wheat, and the people who report a sensitivity to it have a wide range abdominal discomforts including bloating, gas, diarrhea, and tummy pain as well as headaches, tiredness, cloudy mind, and numbness in arms, fingers and/or legs.  According to Jane Brody, esteemed health reporter for The New York Times, “recent studies have strongly suggested that many, and possibly most, people who react badly to gluten may have a more challenging problem:  sensitivity to a long list of foods containing certain carbohydrates.” 

Most notably, a study was conducted in 2011 by Dr. Peter Gibson, a gastroenterologist at Monash University in Victoria, Australia.  He did his research on 34 people with irritable bowel syndrome and non-celiac gluten sensitivity.  (These are people who have gluten sensitivity but not celiac disease.)  The participants were put on a two week diet that was low in certain sugars (carbohydrates) which are collectively referred to as “Fodmaps.”  All participants improved while on the diet.  The big surprise was that only 8% of them reacted specifically to gluten when it was re-introduced.  This led to the conclusion that it might be the sugary fodmaps, not the gluten, that’s causing the problem for most people.

Fodmap is an acronym form Fermentable, Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides and Polyols — which are all sugars that draw water into the intestine.   The theory is that these sugars are poorly digested or absorbed and result in bacteria in the colon.  Here’s a snapshot of fodmaps:

FRUCTOSE:  These are the sugars found in fruits, honey, agave, peas, sweet peppers and all drinks made with  high fructose corn syrup.

LACTOSE:  These are the sugars found in dairy products including ice cream, cheeses and sour cream.

GALACTANS:  Complex sugars found in legumes, broccoli, cabbage and Brussels sprouts.

POLYSOLS:  These are the sugar alcohols that are typically used in sugar-free candies and include maltitol, sorbitol, xylitol, and isomalt.  Sugar alcohols are also present in stone fruits like avocado, cherries, peaches, plums and apricots.

FRUCTANS:  Soluble fiber found in wheat and rye as well as bananas, garlic, onions, leeks, artichokes and asparagus.

There’s a complete list of foods in the fodmap category at

Note that gluten sensitivity isn’t the same as celiac disease, an uncommon autoimmune condition that can destroy the small intestine.  It’s also not the same as a wheat allergy, another uncommon problem, that has symptoms such as swelling, itching, skin rash, tingling or burning in the mouth, and nasal congestion.


October 17, 2014 in Scientific News, Wheat/Gluten by

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Sugar-free Halloween Treats

HalloweenHere are 10 practical, affordable ideas for sugar-free treats to give to the costumed tricksters who come to your door later this month:

Food Choices
1. Boxes of raisins
2. Small packages of popcorn
3. Small packages of pretzels
4. Sugar-free gum
5. Individually-wrapped packages of string cheese
Small packages of seeds or nuts are too risky because many kids having allergies

Non-food Choices
6. Temporary tattoos
7. Stickers
8. Toys
9. Glow-in-the-dark items
10. Glitter

And, of course, there’s always money!

October 6, 2014 in General by

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Jessica Simpson Eats Sugar-Free!

JessicaSimpsonYet another celebrity goes sugar-free and shrinks by 70 pounds!  Jessica Simpson is a singer, songwriter, actress, mother, wife, 2012-2013 Weight Watchers spokesperson, and fashion mogul.  She’s also a petite 5’3″ woman who’s publicly struggled with her weight much of her adult life, especially after her first pregnancy.  There are many of us who can relate to her story.

Simpson gives Weight Watchers credit for weight loss after her first pregnancy and for teaching her how to eat more sensibly.  After her stint as WW spokesperson, Simpson switched to a sugar-free/low carb eating strategy.  Her daily diet was mostly comprised of veggies, smoothies and protein.  Fave recipes include egg white omelets, chicken satays, whipped chick peas, soba noodles, and shrimp skewers.  Click here for a link that features an example of Simpson’s eating plan. Then, in preparation for her wedding to Eric Johnson, Simpson switched to a strict vegan diet to lose the remaining 10 pounds.

Simpson also amped up her exercise program with daily yoga workouts, and a goal of achieving 8,000-10,000 daily steps (4-5 miles mile walks).  Now she has a personal trainer who guides her through 45-minute workouts 4 times a week.

Of course, it helps for Simpson to have a personal chef, a personal trainer and support of every kind, but everyone on every budget can switch to a mostly fresh veggie and protein and get decent results.

September 30, 2014 in General, Obesity/Weight Loss by

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10 Foods with Hidden Sugar

NoSugarThe World Health Organization recently established a guideline for limits on daily sugar consumption, and here it is.  No more than 6 teaspoons (or 25 grams) of sugar per day max!  (FYI, this amount is still double the 3 teaspoon limit recommended by other experts.)  The WHO also published tips for identifying 10 foods that contain hidden sugars and that aren’t normally associated with sugar consumption.

1. Pasta sauces
2. Granola bars
3. Yogurt
4. Instant oatmeal
5. Salad dressing
6. Breakfast cereals
7. Energy drinks
8. Canned/packaged fruits
9.  Bottled ice tea
10. Ketchup

September 29, 2014 in Nutrition, Sugar/Caloric Sweeteners by

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Soda Companies to Cut Sugar Content of Drinks!

SodasThe American Beverage Association just announced that Coke, Pepsi and Dr. Pepper will reduce the sugar/caloric content of their soda drinks by 20% by 2025.  This is largely a PR move in response to declining soda sales and public pressure about the role of sugary drinks in our national obesity problem and type 2 diabetes epidemic.

A 20% reduction over 10 years is a relatively small change.  That said, it’s a big step in the right direction and reflects growing awareness about the impact of excess sugar on health and weight.   As a consumer, you can expect to see smaller sized soda cans (probably at the same price), more variations of bottled water and more diet drinks.

This announcement was made on September 23rd at the Clinton Global Initiative.  Michael Jacobson, executive director for Science in the Public Interest, says the announcement demonstrates “the industry is seeing the writing on the wall.” 

About time!

September 24, 2014 in General, Health by

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Joe Manganiello Eats Sugar-Free!

JoeManganiello1Hunky actor, author and director Joe Manganiello is a sugar-free and bread-free eater.  And by the way, so is his current girlfriend, Sofia Vergara.  In case you haven’t noticed, both of these people have amazing physiques.

Manganiello says his body is the result of a low-carb, sugar-free diet, CrossFit exercise, and high intensity interval training on a treadmill.  To get camera-ready, Manganiello trains like a pro athlete rather than as an actor.  He works out twice a day, six times a week and claims to be 100% steroid free.  Some of his fave CrossFit moves include Olympic lifting, lunges and box jumps.

Manganiello is best known for his acting work in Magic Mike, a big screen movie, and as the best werewolf ever in the HBO TV program, True Blood.  He’s also a graduate of Carnegie Melon and the author of a fitness book, Evolution. Evolution Manganiello’s book emphasizes the vital importance of developing mental strength as a component of physical strength.

A day in the food life of Joe Manganiello

Joe Manganiello’s Diet

Nice half-Italian boy from Pittsburgh does good.  Go Joe!

September 23, 2014 in General, Health by

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Live 33% Longer by Eating More Veggies and Fruits

fruitveggiesVeggies and fruits tend to be low in calories, high in nutrients, and rich in fiber.  They’re also the only source of phytochemicals, and the smartest (most skinnifying) source of carbohydrates., the nutritional term for foods that contain natural or added sugar.  In addition to all these advantages, now there’s even more evidence that Mom was right about eating your veggies.  A new study shows that you’ll live longer if you eat more than the 5 recommended servings per day.

This observational study was conducted in the U.K. over a 7.7 year period, and published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health. (The source for this blog post is a summary of the study published in the Tufts Health & Nutrition Letter: July 2014 Edition.)  Study results revealed a “robust association” between high veggie and fruit consumption with a dramatic increase in participant longevity by 33% for any cause of mortality.  Even more, the risk of death from cardiovascular disease was 31% lower, and the risk of death from cancer was 25% less.   Vegetables provided a slightly greater benefit than fruits because fruits did not provide any incremental advantage after 3-4 servings were consumed. Another important finding was that frozen fruits and veggies provided as many protective benefits as fresh fruits and veggies, but canned fruits and veggies were actually linked to an increase in mortality.

Note that the U.K. study did not count starchy veggies like potatoes, yams and plantains as veggies.  It used the following guidelines as the basis for determining a single portion.
– 2 or more small fruits (2 plums, 3 apricots, 7 strawberries)
– 1 medium-sized fruit (apple, orange, pear, banana)
– 1/2 grapefruit, 1 slice of melon, 1 slice pineapple
– 2 broccoli spears, 5 asparagus, 3 stalks of celery
– 4 heaping tablespoons of cooked kale/spinach/green beans
– 3 heaping tablespoons of beans or peas
– 1 large bowl of salad greens
– 1 5-ounce glass of unsweetened fruit or veggie juice


September 16, 2014 in Health, Nutrition by

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The Code of a Good Training Partner: From Thinner, Leaner, Stronger by Michael Matthews

ThinnerLeanerStrongerThis is an excerpt from THINNER, LEANER, STRONGER by Michael Matthews.  Training partners can be very helpful in getting you to show up and exercise, especially when  you don’t feel like it.  Establishing rules or a “code” for partners helps to avoid the problem of constant cancellations of training sessions or dissolving a training session into a chat fest.  Here’s Michael’s training code:

1.  I will show up on time for every workout, and if I can’t avoid missing one, I’ll let my partner know as soon as I know.
2.  I will come to the gym to train — not to chat.  When we’re in the gym, we focus on our workouts, we’re always ready to spot each other, and we get out work done efficiently.
3.  I will train hard to set a good example for my partner.
4.  I will push my partner to do more than she thinks she can.  It’s my job to motivate her to do more weight and more reps than she believes possible.
5.  I will be supportive of my partner and will compliment her on her gains.
6.  I won’t let my partner get out of a workout easily.  I will reject any excuses that are short of an actual emergency or commitment that can’t be rescheduled, and I will insist that she comes and trains.  In the case where there’s a valid excuse, I’ll offer to train at a different time so we can get our workout in (if at all possible).

Click HERE for the link to THINNER, LEANER, STRONGER at

April 2, 2014 in Fitness by

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Greek Yogurt vs “Regular” Yogurt

FageYogurtGreek-style yogurt isn’t imported from Greece or any other country.   The name Greek simply reflects a thicker style of yogurt that’s preferred by people living in the Mediterranean region.  Note that the FDA doesn’t regulate the term “Greek yogurt,” which means that the thickening process varies from product to product based on the recipe used by the food manufacturer.  All Greek-style yogurts start as regular yogurt.  The healthiest Greek-style yogurt products are made by straining out the excess liquid whey, thus leaving a thicker product.  Other Greek-style products are thickened with pectin, corn starch, carrageenan (a suspected carcinogen) and/or gelatin rather than being strained.  Always check the ingredients list to see what’s in the product you’re considering.

Thickening impacts the nutritional profile of the yogurt because it creates a more concentrated product.  Six ounces of Greek yogurt, for example, has 17 grams of protein.  Compare this to six ounces of regular yogurt which has around six to eight grams of protein.  Carbohydrate and fat content varies based on whether sugar has been added by the food manufacturer or fat has been removed.  Avoid products made with granola, fruit, syrups or chocolate.  These additives often turn the  yogurt into candy.  Terms like authentic or traditional typically signal that the yogurt is made with whole milk or whole milk and cream.  Obviously, if  you’re interested in caloric content, choose a plain, low-fat option. Another difference is calcium content.  Greek-style yogurt usually has around 150 milligrams of calcium rather than the 300 milligrams of calcium in regular yogurt.  It’s reduced because calcium is lost during straining.

Yogurt is made by adding bacteria (primarily lactobacillus bulgaricus and streptococcus thermophiles) to milk.  These friendly bacteria have been shown to prevent or shorten episodes of diarrhea associated with taking antibiotics.  Claims regarding protection to the auto-immune system and/or regarding protection against ordinary colds or flu, are still  unproven.  In any case, for a superior product, always look for terms like active or live cultures on the yogurt label.

Greek yogurt is a reasonable taste and texture substitute for sour cream, cream and mayonnaise. According to a recent retail research study, more than half U.S. households bought Greek-style yogurt last year.  This is the biggest growth area in the yogurt market and represents 44% of this multi-billion dollar industry.

April 1, 2014 in Nutrition by

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About Karen Bentley

Karen Bentley Karen Bentley is the founder of The Sugar-Free Institute and an expert on sugar-free eating. She’s also an author, educator, coach and speaker. Her most recent book, The Power to Stop, is an Amazon Kindle bestseller.

Be A Sugar Detective

Video: Be a Sugar-Free Food Detective by Karen Bentley

Karen Bentley teaches you how to read the ingredients list on packaged foods to figure out how much sugar has been added by the food manufacturer. Find more information at

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