Category Archives: Nutrition

Happy National Cake day everyone! I love that this year it falls right in line with the Thanksgiving holiday week. Every year, around this time, the pet care community starts to share information online about what foods are safe to feed your pets at the Thanksgiving dinner table. Well, this time around you can make a cake for your fur babies to enjoy for dessert. I’ve tested out two very easy and simple recipes; both are meat free and you can taste them yourself. I did!

About five or six years ago I had to revamp my whole lifestyle and diet. After suffering from very intense migraines, I switched my diet to exclude gluten, while decreasing sugar and dairy significantly. Before all of this, I enjoyed baking cakes for friends’ birthdays and special occasions. I would make elaborate cakes into fun shapes or with three tiers, and then decorate them with edible sparkles and diamonds on top of fondant. It didn’t help that there is an amazing cake supply shop in Manhattan (I was living in Brooklyn), so self control was challenged the moment I stepped foot into the baker’s paradise. Once I had to reevaluate my diet, my cake production slowed dramatically. Making gluten free cakes is not as fun for me! It’s more difficult and more expensive; plus it’s just better for my health if I don’t eat so much cake, I guess. (sigh) 

I have experimented with simple ingredients, to make pet-friendly baked goods and treats since then, however. So for Cake Day, I’ve tested out two cake recipes for this article. They are both meat free and gluten free. The first one uses egg and dairy (can easily be made dairy-free), while the second one contains no dairy or eggs. You can also tweak these to fit your pet’s needs if they cannot have something that I used. Let’s get into it!

Cake #1

This recipe uses only seven ingredients, most of which I already had in my kitchen. 

Ingredients

Cake

  • 1 cup flour (I used almond flour)
  • ¼ cup peanut butter
  • ½ cup unsweetened applesauce
  • ½ cup pumpkin puree
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ⅛ cup vegetable oil (I used olive oil)
  • 1 egg

Frosting

  • ¼-½ cup Primal goat’s milk
  • ¼ cup peanut butter

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a bowl, combine pumpkin, applesauce, peanut butter, and vegetable oil.
  3. Once smooth, mix in the egg. Add the flour and baking soda into wet ingredients.
  4. Bake in a greased pan for 25-30 minutes.
  5. Mix together ingredients for frosting. Once the cake is cooled, frost and decorate! 

You can use any flour or vegetable oil that suits you. If it were summer, I would probably have used coconut oil because it is cooling for the body and adds a nice sweet, nutty taste to the cake. I already had Almond flour, but any flour would work fine. I would strongly advise against using bleached white flour, however. That isn’t good for anybody.

The peanut butter I used does not contain any added sugars or palm oil. Consequences of palm oil production include deforestation, destroying habitats for a number of animals, as well as causing harm to animals living in those forests. Always check the ingredients if you’re buying peanut butter! The ingredients in the peanut butter I bought are roasted peanuts and salt. That’s all you need. Similarly, the applesauce I picked up is unsweetened and has no added flavors or sugar. 

As for the pumpkin puree, you can find canned pumpkin in the baking aisle, but only use the pure canned pumpkin. Please do not feed your pets pumpkin pie filling. You could probably find canned pumpkin at your local pet supply store! Weruva makes packets of pumpkin. I always keep a packet or a can of pumpkin in my home. Pumpkin is a great source for beta carotene (vitamin A), vitamins C and E, high in fiber, antioxidants and other nutrients. It’s wonderful for skin and coat; it’s also my go-to fix for upset tummies. That includes constipation and diarrhea, just FYI.

To make the cake, set your oven to 350 degrees. While the ovens warmed, combine the dry ingredients in one bowl; and then in another bowl mix together the pumpkin, peanut butter, applesauce and vegetable oil. Whisk these ingredients until you have a smooth texture, then add the egg into the liquids. From there, combine the dry and liquid ingredients together. This recipe makes one 8” cake. You can double or triple it if you want to have multiple layers to your cake. After about 25-30 minutes, check that a toothpick inserted is clean when removed. Allow the cake to cool before frosting it.

For the frosting, I combined peanut butter with goat’s milk from Primal Pet foods. The amount of goat’s milk will vary depending on how thick you like your frosting. Primal’s goat’s milk contains healthy probiotics, turmeric, ginger, and cinnamon. All of these spices do wonders for inflammation in the body, digestive health, and they are warming for fall and winter.

Get creative with your decorations too! I sliced some apples and added a dollop of pumpkin to top off my cake. I sampled a piece before I frosted the cake, and it tasted pretty good. I would make this cake for myself!

Cake #2

Ingredients

  • 1 cup almond flour
  • ½ cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 mashed banana
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ cup water

Frosting

  • ¾ mashed banana
  • ¼ cup pumpkin puree

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Mix together the mashed banana and applesauce. Then stir in flour and water.
  3. Grease pan with oil and bake for 20-25 minutes.
  4. Mix together mashed banana and pumpkin for frosting.
  5. Once cake is cooled, frost and decorate as you prefer!

Like I said, I wanted this cake to be a little more minimal, and with ingredients that are likely to be found in your kitchen already. You can certainly play around with this one, like adding apple chunks. It tastes good and is very moist, but the texture of the finished product was not as firm and baked as I would prefer. Once cooled, it firmed up a little, but it doesn’t have the same fluffy cake-texture that we all love. Your pups probably won’t care as much about that as I do. 

If I were to try this one again, I would either add oats or pumpkin to the cake batter. Better yet, mixing up a “flaxseed egg” or adding chia seeds could have solved my issue to help bind the ingredients together well. The frosting came out like more of a pumpkin banana glaze, and then I topped it with apple and banana slices, and peanut butter drizzle. As long as there are not sensitivities, you really can’t go wrong with peanut butter!

There are so many options when making cakes for your pets! Plus, with these recipes you can enjoy a piece with your fur baby. If your concerned about your pets having sensitivities to the ingredients of their treats, we can provide you with some answers. At 5 Strands Testing we provide hair analysis to help you find clarity. Food and environmental intolerance tests are available through our website. 

For those out there that would prefer not to do the cooking and would rather buy from a pet bakery, you’re in luck! Pet bakeries are becoming more and more popular these days. Here in the Atlanta area we are lucky to have Three Dog Bakery. There are locations around the country, however, and you can search the nearest bakery on their website www.threedog.com. The closest location to Atlanta is in Grayson, GA, where they make a wide variety of cookies, cakes, cupcakes and baked goods for your pets! There’s still time to get treats for all the pets at your Thanksgiving holiday party. Remember to research what is safe for your pets to eat from your plate this holiday.

Have a safe and happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Big Boys Don’t Cry / Man Up

Big Boys Don’t Cry / Man Up

 

How many times have you heard this in movies, songs, or even over hearing it while out somewhere? What are the effects on the boys that grow up hearing this as they become men? We’ll explore this a little later. November 19th is International Men’s Day (IMD). It was founded by Dr. Jerome Teelucksingh in Trinidad Tabago in 1999. Although its creation goes back to the 1960’s, it didn’t really take root until 1999. IMD has the purpose of highlighting men’s experiences.

 

According to the IMD website, in 2009 six broad objectives were ratified:

  1. To promote positive male role models; not just movie stars and sports men but every day, working class men who are living decent, honest lives.
  2. To celebrate men’s positive contributions to society, community, family, marriage, child care, and to the environment.
  3. To focus on men’s health and wellbeing; social, emotional, physical and spiritual.
  4. To highlight discrimination against men; in areas of social services, social attitudes and expectations, and law
  5. To improve gender relations and promote gender equality
  6. To create a safer, better world; where people can be safe and grow to reach their full potential.

We’ll only go over a few of them here for the sake of time.

 

Promote Positive Male Role Models

According to singlemothersguide.com, 1 in 4 American children live in mother only families. Of those children, 35% never see their father. Although single mothers do their best to raise children, there are many things a man can teach them that a woman can’t. Unfortunately, boys and girls grow up learning these things from negative role models. This leads to things like seeking love in the wrong places, bad behavior, no emotional intelligence, low self esteem and self worth, etc. 

There is definitely a need for positive role models everywhere. Having a balance of mother and father for a child is crucial and if that balance isn’t able to be met a supplemental positive male or female should be encouraged. We need to start by being that positive roll model to encourage others to live better.

 

Men’s Health and Wellbeing

Physical health is usually the first thought when the topic of health comes up. It is very important, but what about mental health? How does one’s environment and influences as they grow up play into this. Let’s take the phrases that we started this of with, “Big boys don’t cry” or “Man up” as an example. In the book Deeply Holistic by Pip Waller, she states, “Understanding and respecting our needs for emotional discharge or release is an essential part of remaining healthy and being able to be fully present within ourselves.” A boy growing up with the notion big boys don’t cry that grows into an adult then hearing to man up is being taught throughout his life to suppress his emotions. This can lead to feelings of being unworthy or unloved, lack of empathy, lack of trust, and many other things that are never healed from. 

Will Bowen said, “Hurt people hurt People.” The man that grew up and suppressed all his emotions now is dating and may even get married and have kids. Now all of this suppression and unhealed emotions get passed on to his family and the cycle continues. Shining light and taking action on emotional health can break so called “generational curses” and make men’s and woman’s worlds so much better.

 

Create a Safer, Better World; Where People Can Live Free From Harm and Grow to Reach Their Full Potential

The last section highlighted the importance of emotional health. Now going further, if the man ends up healing and helping others around him heal, this now opens up spreading it to the next generation. More people walking around more open to who they are allows for them to be themselves. They can now more easily explore who they are and want to become instead of who they were conditioned to be. More children would see happy, functional relationships between their parents who know who they are and can encourage them to grow into themselves. How much better would the world be then? We have to start somewhere.

International Men’s Day focuses on men’s experiences but also impacts world experiences. If you are a man reading this, I hope this opened up some areas for you that we can improve on. Take in what moved you in any type of way and explore it so that we can begin to heal and be better men for those around us.

Michele Ackerman Interview

Michele Ackerman Interview

Intolerance Testing for the Elite Over 50 Club

I recently had the privilege to talk to a wonderful women by the name of Michele Ackerman. Michele has been in the fitness world for over 20 + years. As she is currently now in the elite over 50 club, she is the living testament that you are never to old to take your health, nutrition, and fitness to the next level.To many people think they are doing just great on their own and are eating healthy and clean diets along with training and muscle building. However, as we should all know by now, eating healthy is individually subjective! That is where having an open mind comes into play and Michele is that kind of women. She is always looking for ways to better herself. She found our testing process and is so enthusiastic about the benefits of implementing the results that she has now joined the team and will be sharing and selling the product to friends, family, and other people in the fitness world.

 I would like to share an interview with Michele to share some of her personal information and what she thought about taking the test. I hope you enjoy the information and can learn from her. I know that she has given me motivation to jump back into exercise again!

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Elaine: Michele, Can you tell me how you got started in fitness and competitions?

Michele: I competed in my first physique competition in 1993 when I was 30 years old, as a bodybuilder. It was a dismal failure. After employing the keto diet typically used by bodybuilders, my 5’ 7” frame weighed a mere 112 pounds, not the kind of physique that wins bodybuilding shows.

I assumed physique competitions were out of the picture for me until this thing called “figure” came along about 10 years later. The ideal appearance is athletic — not too much muscle and not too lean. Friends from the gym convinced me to give it a try. So, at 41 years of age, I took the stage again as a figure competitor in 2004 at the National Physique Committee (NPC) Peggy Sue Classic.

This past year, I transitioned from figure to the “bikini” division. Though my physique has changed very little over the past 15 years, the sport has. Every division — women’s physique (formerly called bodybuilding), figure and bikini – has become more muscular in appearance. I believe I can now be more competitive at a higher level in the bikini division than figure.

Elaine: How many competitions have you competed in and how did you place?

Michele: I have competed in about 20 different shows in several bodybuilding federations over the years. Most of my competitions have been in the NPC, but I have also competed in the National Gym Association (NGA) and the Drug Free Athletic Coalition (DFAC). I have competed in primarily regional shows, but also competed at the NPC Masters Nationals in 2016.

Some of these shows are tested for performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs); others are not. NGA and DFAC use urine tests and polygraph to ensure athletes are clean. I have taken a hard stance on PEDs from the beginning. I want people to get a realistic impression of what the human physique can be, without the use of drugs.

Regarding placings, I always say: if you compete long enough, you’ll stand at the top of your class and at the bottom, especially if you stretch yourself and move to the next level. Often, I learn the most from my disappointments. I have yet to tie it all together and present my perfect package. But I learn every time I step on stage and am getting closer!

I have won classes at the NPC Natural Cincinnati (2014), NPC Natural Northern (2015), DFAC Cardinal Classic (2015), NPC Natural Kentucky (2017), NPC Elite Physique (2018), NPC Natural Northern (2018) and NGA Monster Mash (2018)

Elaine: How did you hear about our Intolerance Testing?

Michele: I heard about Intolerance Testing from a fellow bikini competitor who had worked in the Intolerance Testing booth at the Arnold Classic in 2018.

Elaine: What made you decide to try our Intolerance Testing? 

Michele: My friend was very successful in reducing core inflammation after she made diet changes based on her Intolerance Test results. I knew the primary change for her prep this year was diet and was amazed at the changes in her physique, so thought I’d give it a try.

As well, I was having challenges losing weight during competition prep and suspected foods I was eating before my competitions contributed to bloat on stage.

Elaine: What did you think about the test results?

Michele: The test is one of the best investments I have ever made in my health, not just for physique competitions but for my overall health too. I consider the results to be Michele Ackerman’s specific blueprint for better health. I will retest again in about nine months to assess how changes in my diet impact results.

Elaine: Was it difficult to implement in your routine?

Michele: It was not a challenge for me to implement a new routine, largely because of my stance on food and because I have been meal prepping as part of my routine for many years. I view food first and foremost as sustenance and then as pleasure. Sure, I want to eat food that tastes great, but it needs to meet goal-one first.

My strategy was to take out everything — and I mean everything — on my list and see where I stood five weeks out. It took me about 10 days to phase out every “no” on my list (level 3, level 2 and level 1). I frequently visited the Intolerance Test website to determine what foods were tested and could be in my diet and learn where food additives (E series) are commonly found. I developed a grocery list of can-do foods to help with shopping.

I also switched up my supplement program. I stopped taking a multivitamin because I was deficient for some nutrients (vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin B7 and others) and near toxic for others (iron, magnesium). I now purchase vitamins and amino acids of which I am deficient separately and try to address deficiencies naturally through food in hopes of better absorption. I also stopped eating food packaged in tin because tin was listed on my heavy metals test.

Elaine: Do you have any tips to offer?

Michele: For this to work, I feel you need to be open-minded. When I sent off my hair samples, some asked, “What will you do if you find your favorite foods on the list?” I told them I would be thrilled to find suspect foods. What I did not expect was the extensive list I got. Though my diet was squeaky clean by most standards, nearly two-thirds of what I was eating was being rejected by my body – solid, nutritious foods, just not ideal for me and likely over-consumed.

So, some of my favorites had to go (wheat, oats, pineapple, apples, whey protein, citrus and sugar of ALL forms and more). But, there are tons of foods I CAN eat (peanut butter, dates, peaches, pears, rice, chicken, cheese, eggs and more). I didn’t mourn the loss of some of my favorite foods, but rather celebrated the fact that I have a tool that can help me develop my own plan for better health.

Another aspect of test I appreciate is that it doesn’t throw the baby out with the bath water. Often people assume they are gluten or lactose intolerant. For me, the test revealed specific dairy foods and grains that are problematic. Though I am sensitive to cream, sour cream, whey and butter, I can tolerate milk and cheese. I have substituted spelt and rice flour for the wheat and oat flour I had previously used in baking.

Some also ask if I will be adding foods from my no list back into my diet when I’m not competing. Not a chance! I feel so much better that I have no desire to put them back in.

Elaine: Did the test results help you to feel better and did you see any results?

Michele: By making changes in my diet, I feel “lighter” overall, with less bloating in my abdomen and less inflammation in a knee that has caused me problems over the past two decades. I also lost a couple pounds when I made changes initially.

As well, for the first time since I have been competing, I am able to see my oblique muscles run the entire length of my mid-section. I attribute this to diet changes since this was the single biggest change I made this year.

Elaine: Do you think the Intolerance testing will help other people in the fitness world?

Michele: I believe the Intolerance Test can help others in the fitness world. It often takes multiple shows, testing different diets and foods to determine the best way to “peak” for a show. Everyone processes foods differently, and even the same person can process foods differently from show to show. In the years since I first competed, I have learned the keto diet is a no-go for me. I also learned that I can lose muscle mass eating tons of protein. I keep notes from season to season and consult them frequently in hopes of getting it perfect at some point.

Striking the right balance of protein, carbs and fat in the right amounts with the right level of activity is the challenge for each of us that steps on stage. Though there are dozens of different theories on pre-contest diets, I think the test can help to eliminate problematic foods from the onset. It can also help to address deficiencies, so an athlete can be running on all four cylinders.