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Heels To Laces is on a mission to break through the clutter of health and fitness and make it easier to live healthier – and have a ton of fun doing it.

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“What you’re supposed to do when you don’t like a thing is change it. If you can’t change it, change the way you think about it.” ~Maya Angelou

Each post we will present you with a truth or dare. All you have to do is tackle it with gusto and make it happen. Often, by just focusing on one change…just one, it’s much more palpable and achievable and becomes the jump start you need.

TruthGet rid of the excuses
How often do you find yourself making excuses for unhealthy choices? You know who you are: “I’m tired, so I need that double chocolate Frappuccino”; “I had a long day at work, I deserve that bottle of wine”; “I don’t need to work out today, I’ll do it tomorrow”.

The problem with excuses is they usually trigger bigger problems like a food coma, hangover and laziness.

Be true to yourself by thinking of the consequences over the immediate gratification. That’s how you’ll find long-term success.

We don’t claim to know everything – so sometimes we have to ask the experts – but today, it’s our turn:

Oil, Man
Oil is good for you right? Omega 3’s, heart health, brain smarts, etc. Then why is fried food the enemy? Just like anything in life, there’s some good and some bad. Picking the right oil can make all the difference. So here’s your handy little guide.

Best Oils For Cooking
When you’re cooking at a high heat, you want to use oils that are stable and don’t oxidize or easily turn rancid. When oils undergo oxidation, they form free radicals and harmful compounds that are unhealthy to consume. Saturated fats and monounsaturated fats are more resistant to heating, but oils that are high in polyunsaturated fats should be avoided. 

Coconut Oil: One of the best choices for cooking – made up of over 90% saturated fatty acids, it is very resistant to heat. It can also improve cholesterol, help kill bacteria and other pathogens, boost metabolism and increase feelings of fullness. Look for raw or virgin coconut oil.

Clarified Butter (Ghee): Grass-fed ghee is rich in the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, and K2 and CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) — the essential fatty acid found almost exclusively in grass-fed animals, which is now believed to protect against cancer, heart disease, and type II diabetes. The milk solids have been removed from ghee, therefore is it considered dairy-free.

Olive Oil:  A heart-healthy fat, it contains beneficial antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties. Choose high quality extra virgin olive oil – it has many more nutrients and antioxidants than the refined oil olives and a much richer taste.

Avocodo Oil: Very similar to olive oil, it is primarily monounsaturated.

The Not So Good
Industrial Seed and Vegetable Oils: These are highly processed, refined products that are much too rich in Omega-6 fatty acids. The world health organization’s (WHO) recommended ratio for omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids is about 4:1. However, the average ratio American’s ingest ranges from 10:1 to 25:1

Avoid the following oils altogether – as an ingredient, for cooking or ingesting:  Soybean, Corn, Rapeseed, Sunflower, Grapeseed, Safflower, Canola.  To create these oils, many are refined, bleached and deodorized. About 87% of canola oil is genetically modified.

It is recommended to avoid nut oils when cooking due to their high level of polyunsaturated fats, except for macadamia nut oil which is mostly monounsaturated (like olive oil) and has great properties and is safe for cooking 

Side Note: Fish oil and flaxseed oils are great as they are high in omega-3s, but should not be heated because they are sensitive to oxidation.

There have been many reports about unsavory olive oil dealers who have been combining olive oils with cheap vegetable oils. As a result, you might be unknowingly ingesting unhealthy oils. Artisan or locally produced olive oils tend to be your safest bet. Olea olive oils are 100% pure olive oil.

Cacao. Nope, we didn’t misspell it. We are familiar with cocoa – chances are, it’s what you grew up on. But there’s a new kid in town. Raw cacao is the purest form of chocolate you can consume, which means it is raw and much less processed than cocoa powder – which is typically used in chocolate bars. Raw cacao is known to be one of the best sources of antioxidants of any food source and the highest source of magnesium.  It is the highest plant source of iron, loaded with calcium and is a natural mood elevator & anti-depressant.

The key is to maintain the beneficial properties without adding sugar. Companies are getting smarter. There are some incredible, pure chocolates available that only use honey as a sweetener – so you get the added benefits of honey + cacao. Two of our favorites: Honey Mamas and Good Stuff Cacao.

Sometimes, you just gotta have it.

Thrive, Baby, Thrive
Bug season is upon us. Did you know certain homeopathic oils are said to have the same power as deet? We found this blend of 100% aromatherapy oils – a combination bugs, ticks and mosquitoes avoid. The best part? You can safely put it all over your body on a daily basis. Bonus – it has other therapeutic properties like purifying, boosting energy and promoting immunity.

Not So Fishy
We are consistently asked what is the best protein powder to add to smoothies, dishes, etc. The honest answer is most of them are loaded with junk, additives and artificial flavors. There is a much more efficient way to get your added protein through simply adding collagen. This is one of the purest sources we have found and has 9 grams of protein per serving. Better yet, it’s tasteless and super fine (no chunks). Oh wait, did we mention it also helps reduce wrinkles, promotes skin hydration and elasticity, promotes healthier joints, builds stronger nails and healthier hair? Um-hum.

Chippy, Chip
No matter how hard we try, we just can’t say goodbye to the chip. What would we do with all of that guacamole? The crunch, the texture, the satisfaction… We almost gave up hope, until we found these. Gluten-free, grain-free, vegan, Paleo, yeast-free, non-GMO. Although it comes with a warning – do not sit down with the bag. They disappear quickly. P.S. they also have them at Whole Foods.

D to the H to the A
We hear about the benefits of Omega 3’s all the time. And they are legit. Omega 3’s support overall wellness including heart, brain, joint, eye, immune system and mood health. And this little ditty is the Ultimate. It contains 1,000 mg EPA + DHA with the added bonus of 500 IU of vitamin D3 to support calcium absorption, energy level and healthy bones. Pure, wild caught and sustainably sourced. Also safe (and beneficial) for kids.

It’s All Contained
If you were going to do one thing for yourself, especially if you struggling to get your nutrients by food alone, take a multi-vitamin. But not just any multi – they are not all created equal. We have talked about Mega Foods before – all of their products are made from pure food sources (which we love!) – they are not synthetically produced. This is as pure as it gets, “from farm to tablet.” One a day, that’s all it takes to help your body maintain optimal performance.

All of our recipes will always be quick, healthy, easy, gluten-free, grain-free, sugar-free, mostly dairy-free, SCD legal and Paleo friendly. And yes, all sorts of deliciousness.

Yeah, this one is killer.

No-Bake Crazy for Cashew Cups

  • 1 cup organic raw cashews
  • 8 pitted dates
  • ½ cup organic melted cacao butter
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/8 cup honey
  • pinch of sea salt

This is the easy part.

Melt the cacao butter. Combine all ingredients in a small bullet blender cup. Blend at high speed until well blended and smooth. Spoon into small cupcake liners. Freeze. Ready in 1-2 hours.

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Disclosure: some product recommendations are affiliate sites, which simply means we get a small compensation from the companies that sell the products we endorse. We will never endorse a product we do not personally use or love. Opinions expressed are solely those of Heels To Laces.
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The Italian Experiment

italiaThis April, we spent 10 days in Italy. Best. Trip. Ever. And we ate. Everything. Cheeses, oil soaked veggies, gelato, pizza, bread, pasta…All of it. The entire week, I did not have one stomach ache (typically I average 1-2/day) and I lost weight. Truth spoken people.

Aside from moving to Italy, there is a lesson in this – and it’s two-fold.

  1. Pure, unprocessed fresh food is good for your body. Period.
  2. Fat is good.

1st point – Italians barely use a refrigerator and do not load their pantries with snacks. Most of them use the college-sized dorm room versions our kids take to school. Everything is bought and made fresh daily. They do not manufacture or consume processed foods.

Now let’s focus on the 2nd point. As I’ve written about before, we have been taught to be afraid of fat and told “fat will make you fat”. I am here, as a witness, to tell you… that is a myth.

More and more we are learning that higher fat diets help balance hormones, make vitamins (A,D,E,K) more absorbable, promote skin, hair, cardiovascular & brain health, prevent diabetes and… help you lose weight. All calories are not created equal. That is a farce. But there is more to it. Some pure logic – some scientific.

The fat you will find in a frappuccino or a milkshake (kinda the same thing), in a processed protein bar, in frozen dinners, in cookies or even in over-the-counter cheese is not the fat I am referring to. These processed fats are not pure, fresh or organic. They are simply that – processed. And your body does not know what to do with them – so the chemicals are converted to fat in your body.

Enter the scientific: The hormonal effect of food is a much bigger part of the equation and is the most important factor when it comes to fat loss. Namely, insulin (the fat-storage hormone, not fat-releasing). According to Jonny Bowden, PhD, CNS – author of Smart Fat: Eat More Fat, Lose More Weight. Get Healthy Now, “the American high-carb, low-fat diet…causes a lot of insulin to be released. When insulin is high, the fat cells lock their doors and won’t release their goodies…and fat can’t be burned for fuel.”

Here’s the kicker. Carbs and protein effect insulin levels. Fat? Not-at-all. And it produces more energy per gram than any other food group. And this all works when you eat “smart fats.”

Smart fats include:

Extra virgin olive oil (hello, Italia)
Fish oil
Wild salmon
Coconut, palm & nut oils
Dark chocolate (Italia, there you are again)
Free range, organic eggs
Fats from grass-fed organic meats

Toxic fats include:

Factory farmed meat on a grain-fed diet
Man-made processed fats and foods
Processed omega 6 veggie oils (corn, soybean, canola)
Fats damaged in cooking (see previous blog: Best Oils To Cook With)

So, the high-fat, high-fiber, high flavor, moderate protein-rich foods consumed in Italy proved to be the winners.

Try it. See how you feel and if you notice a difference. And always remember to source your fruits, veggies and proteins organically as much as possible.

To leave a comment on this article or any other blog entry, please fill in the “Leave a Comment” box under each blog entry on our site: Heels to Laces.



  • Sonja Gamgort

    A+ post! Should we skip the store bought packaged pasta then? Would love to look deeper at the case for eating grass fed meats versus grain fed!

    • Debra

      Organic fresh pasta is your best option. Definitely avoid grain fed meats if possible.

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Fat is Good.

Fat is Good

Our society has made us afraid of eating fat. It really took ground with the boom of the “fat-free” industry in the 80’s. The truth is, the right fats help promote health and well-being. It’s about choosing which fats to ingest. The mix of fats that you eat, rather than the total amount in your diet, is what matters most. The key is to eat more good fats and less bad fats.

Here’s the lowdown:

Fats contribute to the amount of cholesterol in your body. Very simply,Good-Fats-Vs-Bad-Fats

HDL cholesterol is the “good” kind of cholesterol found in your blood.

LDL cholesterol is the “bad” kind.

  • Monounsaturated fats lower total cholesterol and bad (LDL) cholesterol levels, while increasing good cholesterol (HDL).
  • Polyunsaturated fats lower triglycerides and fight inflammation.
  • Saturated fats may raise your blood cholesterol if you eat too much.
  • Trans fats are the worst types of fat. They raise your bad LDL cholesterol and lower the good HDL cholesterol.

Good Fats: Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are good for you. They lower cholesterol, protect your heart, reduce the risk of disease and support overall health. Omega-3 fats are in this category and are essential to physical and emotional health. They are highly concentrated in the brain and research indicates they play a vital role in cognitive function (memory, problem-solving abilities, etc.) as well as elevating your mood, fighting fatigue and controlling your weight.

 Examples of Good Fats Include:

  • Monounsaturated (the best kind!): Olive oil, canola oil, sunflower oil, sesame oil, avocados, olives, nuts (almonds, macadamia, hazelnuts, pecans, cashews), peanut butter
  • Polyunsaturated: Soybean oil, safflower oil, walnuts, sunflower, sesame and pumpkin seeds, flax seed, fatty fish (salmon, tuna, mackerel, herring, trout, sardines), tofu

Bad fats: Saturated fats have fallen into this category – however, saturated fats are ok if they are eaten in moderation. Coconut oil is a perfect example. The health benefits of coconut oil are immense, as discussed in previous posts.

Bad fats raise our cholesterol and put our bodies at risk of certain diseases. Trans fats should be completely avoided. Trans fats (hydrogenated oils) are the worst kind of fats and are used in the manufacturing of food to help it stay fresh longer.

  • A trans fat is a normal fat molecule that has been twisted and deformed during a process called hydrogenation. During this process, liquid vegetable oil is heated and combined with hydrogen gas.
  • No amount of trans fats is healthy. Trans fats contribute to major health problems, from heart disease to cancer.

Examples of Saturated Fats That Should Be Eaten in Moderation

High-fat cuts of meat (beef, lamb, pork), chicken with the skin, whole-fat dairy products (milk & cream), butter, cheese, ice cream, palm & coconut oil

Examples of Bad Trans Fats (the worst kind!):

Commercially-baked pastries, cookies, doughnuts, muffins, cakes, pizza dough, packaged snack foods (crackers, microwave popcorn, chips), stick margarine, semi-solid vegetable shortening, most pre-mixed products (cake mix, pancake mix, and chocolate drink mix), vegetable shortening, fried foods (French fries, fried chicken, chicken nuggets, breaded fish), candy bars

**Trick: How to tell a good fat vs. a bad fat: Trans fats and saturated fats tend to be solid at room temperature, while monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats tend to be liquid (think of olive or sunflower oil).

And no… fat-free foods are not healthier. Many fat-free foods are high in sugar, refined carbohydrates, and calories.

General Guidelines For Choosing Healthy Fats

  • Try to eliminate trans fats and limit fast food
  • Limit saturated fats by cutting back on red meat and full-fat dairy foods and replacing them with low fat varieties (ie. use olive oil instead of butter, low-fat cheese vs. full fat, skim or 1% milk vs. whole milk)
  • Eat omega-3 fats every day. Good sources include fish, walnuts, ground flax seeds, flax-seed oil, canola oil, and soybean oil.
  • Keep total fat intake to 20-35% of calories
  • Limit saturated fats to less than 10% of your calories (200 calories for a 2000 calorie diet)

Lastly, enjoy eating fat. It is good for your health.

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