Category: Recent Articles

How to Choose the Best Olive Oil

When you go to a grocery store, you’ll see a lot of different kinds of olive oil – different colors, from almost clear to yellow to deep green, different descriptors on the label, and vastly different price ranges.

Which one goes with which application? How does the taste compare? Is the expensive stuff worth the money? In this article, we’re going to go through it all.

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Cranberry Sauce Recipe with No Added Sugar

Cranberry sauce adds a pop of color and tangy zing to any Thanksgiving spread. Problem is, cranberries are naturally pretty sour on their own, and the sweetness you taste in most recipes usually comes from more sugar than a can of soda.

If you’re going to indulge in sweets, save it for dessert. This cranberry sauce recipe is sweetened with applesauce, with the option to use maple syrup, honey, or your favorite natural sweetener if you want to tone down the tartness.

It’s easy to make, and likely the quickest recipe you’ll make for your whole Thanksgiving celebration. Here’s how to do it.
Cranberry Sauce Recipe with No Added Sugar
Time in the kitchen: 15 minutes

Serves: 8-10

Ingredients

18 oz. fresh cranberries (we love Honestly Cranberry)
1 cup water
1/2 cup applesauce
3 Tbsp. fresh squeezed orange juice
2 Tbsp. honey
Zest from ½ orange
1/8 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp. ground cloves
1/8 tsp. ground ginger

Directions
Place the cranberries and water in a pot and heat over medium heat.

Mix in the applesauce, orange juice, honey, and orange zest.

When the pot comes to a boil, reduce it to a simmer and stir in the ground cloves and ginger and the cinnamon.

Allow the sauce to simmer for around 12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the sauce reaches the consistency of your liking. Taste the sauce occasionally and adjust the sweetener to taste.

Serve this cranberry sauce alongside your favorite meat or holiday meal. It’s also delicious as a lower sugar sweet option when paired with a bit of coconut cream, dark chocolate or fresh whipped cream.

Tips:
– If the cranberry sauce is too tart for you as written, feel free to add additional honey. You could also use maple syrup.
– Depending on the strength of your stove top burner and the size of your cranberries, you may need a little more or less time for the sauce to finish cooking.

Nutrition Facts (1/8 of recipe):

Calories: 60
Fat: 0g
Total Carbs: 13g
Net Carbs: 10g
Protein: 0g

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Weekly Link Love — Edition 107

Research of the Week
High sugar diets may cause “persistent” epigenetic changes to an animal’s appetite for junk food.

Vitamin D improves cognitive function in older adults with mild cognitive impairment.

Keep sprinting, folks.

Starchy and sugary foods linked to cavities, especially when consumed as snacks.

Convalescent plasma appears to work in COVID patients.

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12 Ways to Boost Your Serotonin

Serotonin is a funny one. Although the prevailing sentiment is that we want to “increase serotonin,” it’s not that simple. There’s no indication that more serotonin is necessarily better in every situation, or even generally. The link between serotonin and “happiness” or “mood” isn’t so clear-cut as the experts would have you believe, either. So while I am going to tell you how to “boost” serotonin levels because serotonin is a vital neurotransmitter, I plan on sticking to foods, supplements, and behaviors that promote physiological levels of serotonin. Boosting serotonin beyond what the body is designed for may not help you, and it may have unpleasant and unwanted effects. Is Serotonin a Mood Booster? Yes and no. For evidence, I submit two items. The first is clinical research and the second is pure anecdote, albeit personal anecdote. Everyone has heard of SSRIs, or selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors. The most common form of antidepressants, their purported mode of action is to reduce the re-absorption of serotonin by neurons which increases the circulating concentration of serotonin in the brain. They increase brain levels of serotonin so it’s able to act longer. The evidence in favor of SSRIs in treating depression is mixed. Not everyone benefits, and it often takes several months to take effect. But they do help some people. In recent years, depression studies have pitted SSRIs against another drug—tianeptine—that does the opposite: increases the absorption of serotonin by neurons and decreases the concentration of serotonin the brain. If the “serotonin=happy” hypothesis is correct, tianeptine shouldn’t improve depression. It should worsen it. But that’s not what happens. Both tianeptine, which lowers brain serotonin, and SSRIs, which increase it, have been shown to improve depression symptoms in patients with clinical depression. If anything, tianeptine might even be more effective. This doesn’t mean that serotonin has nothing to do with depression, or that it’s bad for depression. It just means that the story is a little more complicated than we thought. Now the anecdote. Back when I was doing some research for a new probiotic supplement, I tried one that had been shown to increase serotonin levels: B. infantis. This is how I do things usually. Most all my products are created to solve a problem in my own life. I figure that if something appeals to me or fixes an issue affecting me, it will help others too. So this time, I added the powder to a smoothie and down the hatch it went. About half an hour later, I got the distinct sense of what I can only describe as emotional numbness. There was just this big blank emptiness in my heart and mind. I felt robotic, except I was a robot who had memories of what it was like to feel. It was a very uncanny, unnerving feeling that I don’t ever want to feel again. Maybe the dosage was too high. Maybe I shouldn’t have been taking a probiotic strain meant for human infants (B. infantis is present in infant guts … Continue reading “12 Ways to Boost Your Serotonin”

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How to Stay Level During Uncertain Times

Humans are hardwired to crave certainty. Psychologists argue that it’s an innate need, programmed into our biology and reinforced through evolution. Understanding our environment allows us to predict, with some degree of accuracy, what will happen in the future. From an ancestral perspective, certainty allows us, theoretically, to avoid danger, reap desired rewards, and ensure survival.

The need for certainty is a central tenet of psychology. Human development is all about testing and forming theories about the environment, from toddlers throwing objects and learning about physics, to young children acquiring theory of mind, to adolescents pushing social boundaries. Even our language reflects this. Consider how many words we have around the concepts of agency, self-determination, personal freedom, and free will, especially in more individualistic societies.

At its crux, the need for certainty reflects a desire to control and master the environment. We assert control through our choices, whether that’s deciding what to eat for breakfast, opting for the highway or surface streets on our commute, or choosing whom to marry. Every decision, from mundane to life-altering, depends on our ability to weigh the odds of getting a favorable outcome. We can only do that if our world is predictable, at least to a degree.

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How to Thicken Sauce Without Flour: Low Carb, Keto, and Gluten Free Sauce Thickeners

 
Dear Mark,

I’m trying to stay strictly primal/paleo, but I always run into problems when I need to thicken sauces or soups. I grew up learning to use flour/cornstarch like everyone else, but is there a good low-carb/primal alternative?

Thanks,
Raul
I received this email a while ago, but it wasn’t the first. A number of readers have expressed their confusion when it comes to thickening sauces, gravies, or soups without using traditional floury methods. The question of thickening sauces is one of the hurdles I face every time I put up a recipe post – it’s become a bit of an internal struggle (as seen with last week’s beef and broccoli stir fry recipe, in which I hesitatingly called for a teaspoon of flour as a thickener) because while adding a bit of flour or cornstarch to a larger recipe may not drastically impact the carb count, it does complicate the consistently Primal message I try to convey. This post, I hope, will resolve that struggle.

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