Home cooking for optimum health and a Healthy Halloween!

trick or treat basket
With Halloween fast approaching it seemed the perfect opportunity to talk about a subject that’s very close to my heart: Home cooking. One of the most fundamental tenets of living a healthy lifestyle in this day and age is cooking your meals from scratch - it’s nearly impossible to go wrong when you know exactly what’s in your food.

The problem as I see it is that the food we use to fuel our bodies, that keeps us healthy and vibrant and thriving has become an opportunity for big brands and consumerist models to take advantage of our lack of knowledge surrounding what we should and should not put into our bodies. What once was simple has become incredibly complicated; as consumers we want our food to last longer and be better value which has lead to the inclusion of more preservatives and additives to keep things fresher for longer, more flavour enhancers, more sugar (our taste buds have changed immeasurably compared to our ancestors), and so the list goes on.

These days we shop for convenience, ease and satisfaction: we’re all far too busy to forage for our own food and cook it from scratch and we have very little connection with where our food actually comes from. Local farmers markets are growing in popularity again, but big supermarkets continue to reign supreme, bringing us bananas in the middle of winter, confectionery spiked with artificial flavours, canned and packaged foods that will happily outlive us all.

Halloween is typically a time for treats, sweets and an absolute excess of sugar - as are so many ‘holidays.’ So with the spooky season fast approaching I wanted to give you some ideas for Halloween treats that your body can handle, but first let’s talk about the importance of home cooking for our health.

Do you really know what’s in your food?

Food companies are very good at making things sound healthy when they’re not, so as consumers we’ve got to get savvy and start learning how to read ingredient labels. Here are some simple pointers to help you get started:

How to read a food label:

● Partially Inverted Corn Syrup: Inverted syrups (corn, glucose or fructose) are sweeter even than table sugar and foods that use it retain moisture better and crystalise less easily. Don’t be fooled, just because ‘corn’ or ‘fructose’ come originally from natural sources these inverted syrups have zero health benefits and wreak absolute havok with our blood sugar as it passes into our bloodstream at a faster rate due to its heavy processing. Avoid at all costs!

● MSG: Now we all know that MSG (Monosodium Glutamate) is bad for us, but it also comes dressed up in other names like soy protein isolate, whey protein isolate, yeast extract, calcium caseinate, sodium caseinate, anything ‘hydrolyzed’ or labeled ‘natural flavouring’. It can cause headaches, rashes, heart palpitations and depression. So be warned!

● Hydrogenated Vegetable Oils: Thankfully these have somewhat disappeared from ingredient labels, but I remember a time when you couldn’t pick up a chocolate bar without hydrogenated something or other being on the label. You still might see it in some of the cheaper peanut butters as it stops it from being a soupy mess and improves the texture and consistency of food. Avoid all margarine, shortenings, packaged snacks and also look out for “fractionated” on the ingredient label, as it means the same thing. Hydrogenated oils have been linked to heart disease and cancer due to the trans fats found in them.

● Nitrates and Nitrites: Nitrates are naturally occurring compounds found in fruit, vegetables, and grains which turn into nitrites when touched by the tongue. The problem with nitrates is that they easily change into nitrosamines in the body, which is only stopped in fruit and vegetables due to the presence of vitamin C. Nitrates and Nitrites are added to cured meats to prevent bacteria and discoloration of the product, however, without the Vitamin C source present, the nitrites are more likely to form into these dangerous nitrosamines. Nitrosamines have been linked to cancer. Also commonly known as potassium nitrate and sodium nitrate.
Florentines
At Cru8 although our food comes packaged it is by no means processed, so you can rest assured that everything that’s inside the packet is outside on the label, no preservatives or nasties whatsoever - hence why it’s important to refrigerate your Cru8 products like the paleo breads and Keto Buns.

Healthy Halloween Treats

This Halloween why not try our keto chocolate macaroons dipped in molten dark chocolate for a really indulgent twist, and pop a few bags into your children’s trick or treating basket!

Or try our lightly spiced carrot cake and whip up a warm spiced almond butter with autumnal spices of cinnamon and cloves, mixed with coconut cream to drizzle indulgently on top!

You can even try making your own ‘candy’ for trick or treating, and get your kids involved too! A simple way to do this with children is to melt 70% (or higher) dark chocolate and pour it onto a piece of greaseproof baking paper. Then get your kids involved with the toppings! Freeze dried raspberries, nuts, seeds and dried fruit are all fantastic to sprinkle on top of the chocolate. Allow it to cool and harden in the fridge and then break up into pieces and wrap in individual bags or eat straight away! You can even drizzle peanut butter and swirl it into the chocolate for the ultimate indulgence without the crazy sugar high!

Enjoy!

Alexi x
carrot cake