Jem Organic Nut Butter Blog

  • The Sugar Paradox

    Sugar is the talk of the town right now and getting a lot of bad press. Like all superstars there is always more to what meets the eye, or mouth in this case.

    As a Nutritionist and Exercise Physiologist for the past 30+ years, I have seen many foods get their time in the spotlight. It seems like yesterday when fats were the bad boy and before that it was protein. Because of my love for food, nutrition, and health, I find myself acting as an advocate for macro and micro nutrients. So many times I have seen the “baby getting thrown out with the bath water”.

     

    Let’s start with the first big question I get all the time: Is sugar ever good for you?

    The fact is, that you wouldn't be able to survive without sugar. Your body relies on small amounts of sugar to function properly. Now don’t go crazy and fill up on sugary foods, but there is a place for small amounts of the right kinds of sugar in your healthy eating plan.

    Sugar provides energy to your muscles and acts as a source of energy for your brain and nervous system. You also need sugar because it helps metabolize fats and prevents your body from using protein as energy. Whether you are an athlete or not every human needs glucose.

     

    A quick recap on sugar: let’s get on the same page

    All sugars breakdown in the body to glucose which is essential for life.

    Is it true that sugar is sugar is sugar?

    Not all sugars are created equal and how your body metabolizes sugars in fruits and vegetables and milk is different than how your body metabolizes refined sugar added to over processed foods with no fiber, fat or protein. It’s all about the speed in which your body breaks down the sugars - no matter whether these sugars are from sucrose, fructose (fruits) or lactose (milk). This speed determines how quick your insulin and blood sugar rises. This is where the word glycemic index or glycemic load come in. The higher the index or load the more sugar in your blood stream. But remember, once the sugar passes through the stomach and reaches the small intestine, it doesn’t matter if it came from an apple or a soft drink. It is also important to note that how much sugar is in your blood will determine how the body uses sugar. I will give you an example:

    At dinner you had white refined pasta and bread with no salad (fiber) or meat (protein). The amount of sugar in your blood would be high from the starch (starch is how grains and vegetables store glucose from photosynthesis.) Add a couple scoops of ice cream for dessert, chances are your blood sugar is too high and that extra sugar will get stored as either fat or glycogen. These are both storage forms of glucose that are used when quick energy is needed *(not a totally bad thing, just when it is in excess over time). Now let’s say you had your high starchy dinner and your blood sugar is high and you eat an apple for dessert. Because you are overloaded from your dinner the sugar in the fruit would still get stored because you have enough in your body/blood from your dinner. You will feel tired, sluggish and maybe irritated. Because this is what is feels like to be on a blood sugar high and low. Sugar blues. It’s a real thing.

    Now let's look at a better scenario: Your dinner consists of steamed vegetables (fiber), a salad (fiber), salmon (healthy fat and protein), very low amount of sugar/glucose (glycemic load) in you blood. Now you have a cup of ice cream or some fruit drizzled with Jem. Your blood sugar still may spike but the extra sugar will be able to be used as energy instead of being stored. To make this even better I would recommend that you take a nice after dinner/dessert walk. Now all that sugar can get used right up by exercising.

    Don’t get me wrong. I am not a fan of all sugars. In fact there are some sweeteners that I down-right wish did not exist. Below is a quick look at sugars/sweeteners that I avoid altogether and some that I like in moderation. It comes down to what will spike blood sugar and which ones will not. This is due to their lower glycemic index and or their nutritional value.

    Avoid: High fructose corn syrup which includes Agave nectar. White processed sugar from sugar beet or cane. Avoid any artificial sweeteners like Aspartame and Sucralose.

    In moderation: honey, coconut palm sugar, pure maple syrup, molasses and dates. (yes I do include dates as a sweetener and not a fruit)

    Health Benefits stated by Big Tree Farms (where we at Jem Organics source our coconut palm sugar from): “Our coconut sugar is low glycemic verified, which means we conduct regular human clinical trials to ensure our product is what we say it is. Our test results continually show a Glycemic Index of under 40 for both our granulated coconut sugar and our liquid coconut nectar. This means that it is pure and not mixed with cane sugar. Our coconut sugar absorbs slowly into the bloodstream, providing sustained energy, not the sugar high and crash like cane sugar. Other coconut sugars simply cannot provide this assurance.

    Coconut sugar has one of the highest nutrient contents of any sweetener. We are not saying that coconut sugar should replace your daily dose of vegetables. What we are saying is, better to use a sweetener that has nutrients than not.

    Coconut sugar is considered one of the, if not the most, sustainable sweeteners in the world. This means it’s healthy for the environment, which ultimately means health for other plants, animals and people like us. Holistic health is our mission. Healthy biomes mean healthy lives.” http://bigtreefarms.com/pages/product

     

    There are many do’s and don’ts when it comes to sugar.

    It all starts with understanding glycemic index and load. Below is a great little education on what glycemic load and index mean:

    According to OSU Linus Pauling Institute » Micronutrient Information Center: Glycemic load is a ranking system for carbohydrate-rich food that measures the amount of carbohydrates in a serving of food.

    Foods with a glycemic load (GL) under 10 are considered low-GL foods and have little impact on your blood sugar; between 10 and 20 moderate-GL foods with moderate impact on blood sugar, and above 20 high-GL foods that tend to cause blood sugar spikes.

    Fun fact: Jem nut butters have a glycemic load of our sweet flavors is an average of about 4.8 :)

     

    To Keep it simple: What I always recommend to clients or friends, is to eat whole foods with a low glycemic load (like Jem!), Don’t skip meals, exercise at least 30 min a day, don’t eat sugary foods on an empty stomach or late at night, don’t eat anything 2 hours before you go to bed, and don’t eat sugary foods when stressed.

  • Soak Your Nuts! A Lesson From Jem CEO, Jen Moore

    Most people enjoy nuts like almonds, cashews, hazelnuts and peanuts (if there are no allergies present) as well as the creamy, rich buttery bi-product we have all enjoyed on sandwiches, with apples and bananas for what seems like generations. Although most people are not aware that proper preparation is key when it comes to actually getting the nutrients they carry, to avoid any indigestion that may occur from mass-produced nuts and seeds that make their way onto the shelves of our food grocers.

    First of all, I prefer to use the terms soaked and germinated. Soaking is only half the battle (as germination can imply anything expanding into greater being from a small existence) in sprouting, soaking and germinating nuts and seeds. Grains and legumes has been going on for a very long time. Documentation has been noted as far back as 3000 B.C. in China, and in the old Testament of the Christian Bible. More recently, in the past 10 plus years sprouting and soaking nuts, seeds and grains has increased in popularity with the resurgence of the extensive work done by Dr. Weston Price.

    In her book, Nourishing Traditions, Sally Fallon has many great recipes using sprouted foods. I believe that one of the contributing factors to the increased popularity and knowledge around sprouting is due to a larger number of people who have become more food sensitive and need the help that sprouting, soaking and germination provides that makes their foods more bio-available and easier to digest. As a Nutritionist and Exercise Physiologist, I feel motivated to help educate people on the simple but highly important ways to prepare nuts and seeds so they can enjoy them, but also obtain the benefits from them.

    Why take the time soak, germinate then dehydrate nuts? Four good reasons it is worth the time. One: If nothing else, you are cleaning them! All nuts go through a lot before they get to you. Why not take some time and give them a good soak and rinse? They have been on a long journey. Two: They just taste better! Three: Increased nutritional availability according to Dr. Szekely and written in Gabriel Cousens MD book, Spiritual Nutrition. Soaked sprouted and germinated nuts, seeds, and grains have an increased energy charge. They are high in digestible proteins, essential fats, enzymes, minerals, and vitamins. Soaking activates enzymes and neutralizes acids in order to increase the nutrition available in the nut. Four: Helps to alkalize the body. Why is this important? Bacteria and disease do not seem to flourish in alkaline environment. When nuts are soaked and germinated their pH increases which makes them more alkaline and in turn can be a part of a alkaline rich diet that takes your body from more of an acidic state (think inflammation), to an alkaline state.

    How to soak and germinate Almonds:
    1. Soak almonds for 12 hours in enough filtered or spring water to cover nuts with about an inch extra on the top. Add approx. 1 tsp pink Himalayan salt for every 1 cup organic almonds. You can soak in the fridge.
    2. Rinse almonds well.
    3. At this point you can do many things with your “activated” almonds:

    a. Dehydrate at low temp for several hours until crispy. Season as you wish
    b. Make your own nut milk~ blend with a little water then using a nut bag, squeeze out the milk. Add some vanilla and yumm –– drink up!

    Enjoy the process of slowing down and taking the time to soak, sprout and germinate. It’s worth the time and your body will be better off.

  • Vegan Smores Dessert Pizza

    Alexa Fueled Naturally came up with this amazing creation, and we just had to share!
  • A Trend That's Here To Stay

    JEM was recently featured as a 2017 food and drink trend on The Today Show. Nilou Motamed, Editor in Chief of Food & Wine, called out 2017 as the year of “familiar foods with a twist.” It’s all about making our food special.

    The exotic flavor of cardamom is taking the world by storm. During the 4-minute segment, JEM’s popular Cashew Cardamom nut butter was showcased as a must-have treat. Our nut butters are leading a “healthy renaissance,” where snacking is both delicious and good for you. Drizzle JEM on everything from popcorn, fruit, desserts, cereal and even pizza (!) for straight-up, ditch-the-guilt decadence.

    When the cover of Bon Appetit magazine proclaims, “because healthy should still be delicious,” it’s a celebration of the heart to have our core values revered. (We can’t stop high-fiving each other!) Health and happiness matters, and the two often walk hand-in-hand.

    Food trends are a funny thing. We’ve seen them come and go over the past century. Remember the TV dinner craze? We’ve morphed from low-fat foods to the food pyramid to low-carb everything. For decades good old-fashioned real food has fallen by the wayside.

    Nutella is a perfect example of a food that started out with good intentions. The original ingredient list? Whole hazelnuts ground up with real chocolate. That was it. Eventually artificial flavors and colors were added, as well as hydrogenated palm oil. *insert scowl here*

    When we started JEM, our vision was crystal clear. And non-negotiable. We wanted a product that was not only delicious, but would stand the test of time and trends. Inspired by the infinite wisdom found in Nature, we created a balanced treat that is also a functional food. We use organic ingredients and sprouted nuts that are stone-ground with ancient spices and roots. These artisanal techniques have stood the test of time. Some of our ingredients and practices have been used for over 10,000 years!

    Simple, wholesome, wildly delicious real food is THE trend that’s here to stay.

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