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INGREDIENTS TO KNOW

The Internet is overflowing with healthy recipes. For example, just type “paleo recipes” into Google Search and you’ll see 13 million results. So on this page, we thought we could provide the most help by reminding you what to avoid in a recipe and what you want to focus on – for pet food too! Then we provide some sample recipes here that fit the bill and as a bonus, are super easy and contain only a handful of ingredients!

10 Recipe Ingredients to Avoid

The following is our “Top 10” list of what ingredients are best to avoid – or at least minimize dramatically – in your recipes.

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All Beings Sugar is 50% glucose - which quickly spikes our blood sugar - and 50% fructose which must be processed by our liver rather than by our cells for energy. This is in addition to the 500 other functions our liver already has. The problem with sugar intake today is the quantity resulting in a drastic increase in Type II Diabetes and numerous other health problems. There’s good reason sugar is often called “The White Death”.
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All Beings Artificial sweeteners like aspartame (e.g. Equal and NutraSweet), sucralose (known as Splenda), and saccharin (i.e. Sweet ‘N Low, Sweet Twin) may seem healthier than table sugar but they in fact cause everything from excessive cravings and weight gain to cancer, depression, infertility, birth defects, Alzheimer’s Disease, and overall cell and nervous system damage… to name just a few of their dangerous side effects.
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All Beings Corn syrup and high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) were originally supposed to be the answer to blood sugar-spiking glucose found in regular table sugar since fructose barely spikes blood sugar levels or causes insulin secretion – two primary causes of Type II Diabetes. However, fructose is processed by the liver converting it directly into fat often resulting in non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, obesity, high blood pressure, and other health issues.
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All Beings Agave nectar is actually one of the worst sweeteners on the market as it’s mostly fructose – even higher than high-fructose corn syrup at times! It may not spike the blood sugar like regular sugar but once again, it relies on an already-overloaded liver for processing in the body and turns directly into fat.
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All Beings Artificial trans fats which stem from the processing and hydrogenation of vegetable oils to make them more solid (think margarine, spreads, and shortening) lead to obesity, high blood pressure, heart disease, essential fatty acid deficiency, cancer, Type II Diabetes, liver dysfunction, infertility, and more.
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All Beings Refined vegetable oils like corn, sunflower, canola, safflower, soybean, and cottonseed oil not only endure extensive pressing, heating, industrial chemicals, and highly toxic solvents but they also contain trans fats and large amounts of Omega-6 fatty acids which are harmful and inflammatory in excess, especially today when most of us get too little beneficial Omega-3s.
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All Beings Enriched wheat flour (vs. whole wheat flour or whole grain flour) is when most of the natural vitamins and minerals have been extracted in order to give bakery items a finer texture and longer shelf life. When the bran and the germ are removed, your body absorbs wheat differently resulting in everything from quick blood sugar spikes and eventual Type II Diabetes to excess fat. Even worse is if you're gluten sensitive or have Celiac disease requiring complete avoidance of wheat altogether. 
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All Beings Common table salt is a manufactured form of sodium chloride that only mimics the taste of the naturally occurring rock, crystal, and sea salts vs. offering the true benefits of this important and necessary mineral. During the manufacturing process, it loses most of its eighty important elements (e.g. iodine) and has several synthetic chemicals added including bleach to make it white. This often toxic version of salt leads to high blood pressure, Type II Diabetes, gout, and obesity.
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All Beings Soy milk may not contain lactose and may even seem “healthy” but think again. Soy is often an allergen for many people and has been proven to emulate estrogen in the female body throwing off hormonal balance and potentially leading to breast cancer. It also inhibits mineral absorption and may block your protein digestion.
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All Beings Poor quality proteins such as grain-fed beef and chicken and farmed salmon can sabotage your health as much as the other “bad” ingredients on this list. What’s important to remember is that the nutrients you receive from your protein are only as good as what that animal was eating and how it was raised (i.e. caged vs. pasture-raised).

Additional Recipe Considerations

It’s also helpful to follow a few general rules when it comes to macronutrients (i.e. carbohydrates, fats, and proteins) in the recipes and foods you choose. For example:

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If you’re working to stabilize your blood sugar, reverse the potential path to Type II Diabetes, and lose weight, aim for low-carb, low-sugar recipes in general. For example, if you’re looking for snacks and treats which we all love, look to those made with nut flours vs. wheat flour and natural sweeteners like stevia vs. other sweeteners covered above. Ideally in a day you want to consume no more than 100-150 total grams of net carbohydrates (i.e. total carb grams - total fiber grams) which means the lower the carb grams in your recipes and foods you choose, the more guilt-free eating you will enjoy. Just remember to avoid the artificial stuff that may have a low carb count but will do so much more damage in the process. And don’t forget to move every day even if it’s just a 20-minute walk! Exercise is an automatic way to stabilize blood sugar.

NOTE: A teaspoon of sugar is approximately 5 grams of carbs.

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Choose foods and recipes with more fiber since every gram of fiber gets subtracted from your total carbohydrate gram count. This gives what’s called your “net carb count” which is the number we care about most when counting our carbs in a day.
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If you’re going to have a sugar-spiking snack, remember that adding fiber, protein, and/or fat will help slow that sudden glucose rise in your blood. For example, adding a little nut butter to an apple, banana, or cracker.
That’s a few guidelines to get you started in the right direction. Be sure to contact us if you have any questions.

Recipe Ingredients we Like

When it comes to making the healthiest possible food, here’s a short list of ingredients to strive to include in your meals, snacks, and treats:

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Safe all-natural sweeteners like stevia (in powder or liquid extract form) which don’t contain calories and don’t shoot up your blood sugar but watch out for stevia-related products like Truvia that add additional sweetening ingredients like sugar alcohol.
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Butter from grass-fed cows, organic lard, and ghee.
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Tropical oils like coconut and palm oil which can also take high heat (unlike a popular favorite, olive oil that should be saved for salad dressings and light sautéing).
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Whole grain flours but even better are the large variety of nut flours including everything from almond and coconut to cashew and hazelnut.
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Unrefined sea salt.
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Dairy alternatives like high-quality, unsweetened goat, almond, cashew, and coconut milk which don’t include a list of ingredients you can’t pronounce. Just be careful of the additives and thickeners often used.
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Organic, free-range eggs.
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Organic, grass-fed meat and poultry.
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Wild fish and seafood.
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Organic fruits and vegetables. We know organic is more expensive so at least aim to buy organic for those items that don’t have a skin to protect themselves from pesticide.

We know that eating this healthy is not always feasible due to access and budget so a good rule of thumb is to at least strive for the best quality ingredients for those items you eat a lot of. For example, if you’re having 2-3 eggs a day, then ensure those are organic and free-range or if you have chicken four days a week, ensure it’s from pasture-raised chickens living off nature vs. grain while crammed in cages.

What about Pet Food Ingredients?

All BeingsYou may not be making your pet’s food at home but it’s also helpful to know what to avoid and what to look for when reviewing ingredients on packaged food. Most importantly, let’s focus on those label ingredients you need to avoid at all cost, whether for a cat or dog:


NOTE: Avoid any pet food with ingredients from China. However, it can be hard to determine the source of your pet food ingredients so if you’re not making your pet’s meals yourself, focus on locally-produced brands who know exactly where their ingredients stem from. Note too that China is also the largest supplier of the vitamins, minerals, and amino acids used in manufactured pet food. 


  1. “Meat” – This is anything but good quality meat and usually contains the parts of unsavory and/or diseased animal parts that came directly from the slaughterhouse.
  2. “Meat by-product” – This can include diseased lungs, livers, spleens, kidneys, brains, blood, bones, stomach, and intestines from slaughtered animals.
  3. “Meat meal” – This is material from rendering plants and may very well contain euthanized dogs and cats.
  4. “Poultry or chicken by-product” – This can include the heads, feet, and sometimes fecal matter from non-rendered, slaughtered poultry.
  5. “Poultry or chicken by-product meal” – This can include the necks, feet, undeveloped eggs, intestines, and even feathers from ground, rendered, slaughtered poultry.
  6. “Fish meal” – This can include heads, tails, innards, and blood from fish processing plants.
  7. Grains such as corn and wheat – Grains like this are dangerous, nutrition-less fillers that have no place in pet food. Avoid brands with either word included in any form on the ingredient label.
  8. Additives and fillers like beet pulp (added for fiber but is primarily sugar leading to Type II Diabetes) and BHA, BHT, and carrageenan (proven carcinogens).

At the end of the day, read pet food labels like you would your own food labels and stick to products with ingredient lists you understand from reputable suppliers, preferably as local as possible. To learn more about what’s in manufactured pet food today, we recommend the book, “Food Pets Die For: Shocking Facts About Pet Food” by Anne N. Martin where much of this information comes from.

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“Real food doesn’t have ingredients. Real food IS ingredients.” - Jamie Oliver

 

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