How Does the Best Air Fryer Actually Work?

For healthy fried foods, consider buying an air fryer.Fried food is just great. But as good as it is, it also has too much oil and fat that wont be too good for your health. The air fryer is a relatively new invention is supposed to make fried food that tastes just as great but with a lot less fat. When Philips brought their model out they promised around 80% less fat when compared to normal fried food. Thats just great and very impressive indeed but how does this happen? Surely if there is such a small amount of fat and the taste isnt compromised, there must be a catch? Well this product works completely differently to a standard one. A deep fryer needs oil in order to be able to efficiently fry foods and this is what gives them a delicious taste and crispy texture. However, the air deep fryer works in a completely different manner. In simple terms, it uses hot air instead of oil to heat up and cook food.

Its completely natural for you to be skeptical because how can you fry food without oil? Its a very difficult concept to believe in but there must be something to it. The truth is that while the device is thought to fry foods with air, it doesnt actually fry it. Its actually a small fan oven and the fan is the one that creates that hot air that cooks the food. On top of this, this aspect is combined with a grill plate and both of these efficiently cook the food and produce an end-result that resembles that The Philips Air Fryer is one of our favorite products in the kitchen.of a traditional fryer. The best results can often be seen with food items that already have some oil applied to them. Youll notice that if you make frozen French fries then these turn out great in terms of the taste and the crispy texture. This is because they already have some oil applied to them before packaging. Having used it at home, I think that this device is great and there are lots of different models to choose from now. I would probably say that the Philips model is of the highest quality but you still need to do plenty of research in order to find the best air fryer on the market.

If you check on the official Philips website then this is exactly what they will tell you albeit in more complicated language. Essentially, their air fryers use rapid air technology, which is exactly what Ive described above. The process usually dries out the food a lot faster than the process of deep-frying. But this doesnt dry out the food on the inside. The hot air will heat the food from all around and at once and this is what gives it that crispy appearance and taste.

Along with the unique method of operation, an air fryer is also associated with a number of advantages. Firstly, it doesnt use oil to make the food. This means that it will be excellent for a person who wants to stay on their healthy balanced diet but cannot stay away from their favorite These great-tasting chicken wings were made in an airfryer.dishes like French fries. Furthermore, if youre using frozen foods, the machine also air deep fryer also ensures that any extra oil released is drained away. This basically means that even unhealthy foods will be a bit healthier for you. Along with this advantage, the machine also cooks a lot quicker than most other appliances.

While its not exactly a fryer, this still makes perfect fried foods. On top of that it can do a lot more than just make fried foods. It even has the ability to grill food and for me, the results have always surpassed the expectations. Hopefully this Philips air fryer review should have given you a better idea of what works and what doesn’t.

Spring’s First Vegetable

Not many people realize how healthy Asparagus can be.When I think of spring, I think of sun, rain, flowers and vegetables. Yep, you heard me, of course I love to spend more time outside, but while I’m seeding my garden in pots indoors, the first spring vegetables, asparagus and peas, are shooting up in the great outdoors. And since I’m allergic to peas, asparagus is officially my favorite spring vegetable.

Asparagus is super healthy. It is low in sodium and is a good source of vitamin B6, calcium, magnesium, zinc and fiber, all things your body needs in order to function at its peak. Its mild flavor lends well to thousands of dishes, it’s easy to cook, and it’s as versatile as the LBD.

I recommend enjoying asparagus at least once a week while it’s in season: saute it with a little olive oil, salt and pepper and toss with pasta and Parmesan cheese; steam it and cook it into a frittata with whole eggs and egg whites, ham or bacon, cheese and a sprinkling of chives; or, the easiest way and my wifes favorite method, place spears on a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with coarse salt and fresh-cracked pepper and roast at 450 degrees for about 15 minutes, depending on the thickness of the stalks. We both like thinner spears that get a little crispy on the ends and nutty-tasting with this form of preparation, but if you can only find the thicker kind you can always peel the ends down a bit with a vegetable peeler or just leave them in the oven a little longer (my choice as it’s easier).

Look to the seasons and your garden for culinary inspiration this spring, and throughout the year. After all, how did people survive in ancient times? They obviously made do without 100-calorie packs and fish sticks. Think like a caveman (my wifes always wanted to try that diet, isn’t that funny?) and eat a plant-based diet with minimal protein and more vegetables and fruit than carbs. You’ll live longer and be leaner in no time.

Happy day!

Living Fit and Green

Let’s face it: Eating right and exercising is not easy. 64% of adults in the United States are overweight or obese. But judging by the title of this post, it’s about to get harder, right?

Wrong!

If you’re devoted to one cause – your health – directing even just a small portion of that energy toward keeping the planet healthy too doesn’t have to be difficult. Below are some tips to help you and your family get healthy while going green.

  • Ditch the plastic water bottles, ASAP. Plastic bottles take 700 years before they begin to decompose in a landfill. 700 years! Get one of the coolest water bottles out there, a SIGG, available on line or at Whole Foods, and you’ll never buy another case of plastic bottles again. (If you’re anything like me, you’ll love your SIGG so much that you’ll start a collection!)
  • Try out some “green” workout wear. Pants and tops from YogaFit are cute and affordable, and because they’re made from bamboo, you’re supporting an environmentally conscious clothing line. (As if you needed another reason to shop!)
  • Run around the block, not on a treadmill. In just two hours, you’ll conserve enough energy to wash 24 loads of laundry.
  • Recycle your old duds. From sneaks to yoga mats, the saying is true: One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. Don’t just toss your tennis racket out with this week’s garbage – even if you’re donating it to a local charity or Goodwill, someone’s going to find a way to get more use out of it than the landfill will.
  • Multitask. Walk to town on Saturday. Ride your bike to Starbucks. Throw a Frisbee in the backyard with your pup. How is this multitasking? Why, you’re exercising, of course! Taking an alternate means of transportation – even carpooling is always good for the environment, and you can make it good for you too. Who needs a gym anyways?
  • Go veg. The average American diet generates more than 3,000 pounds of CO2 each year, due in large part to the heinous amounts of greenhouse gases that cattle and livestock emit. Cutting back on the red stuff (a low-“carbon” diet) can decrease your risk of cancer and diabetes, among other diseases, so it’s a choice you can also feel green about.
  • Try good old McDonald’s (farm, that is). I’m sure you’re so over my love of the farmer’s market by now, so I’ll keep this part short and sweet: The closer a farm (i.e, your produce source) is to you, the less fossil fuel is needed to transport the fruits and veggies to your table. This is a good thing.

Even if you just try implementing one of these tips, you’re making a difference. Add up all the water bottles you’d use in your lifetime otherwise, or all of the steaks you’d eat, or each time you drive to the grocery store to pick up tasteless strawberries that were shipped here from some place in Mexico. Enough said! Go green, get fit and love it.

The Cost of Healthy Eating

Eating healthy has gotten a lot more expensive today.It’s difficult, with all the doom and gloom in the headlines about the economy every morning, to not constantly be worrying about money.

All this constant worry about money, however, equals one giant knot of stress in my stomach.

Sometimes, one giant knot of stress in the stomach leads to more worry, perhaps even a doctor’s appointment, or a series of them, referrals for tests, missed days at work (= even less money) and even possibly a round of painful endoscopies, colonoscopies, cleanses, etc.

I know what it’s like – my wife went through all of that just after we were married.

It was hard for her, living in Miami, where if one person will paint your house for $300 in two days, five other people are in line right behind them saying they’ll do it in one day for $250, $200, $150, you get my drift. Job security was laughable; working conditions characteristically deplorable. I can only imagine what would have happened if that were all going on today for us, amidst this global financial crisis.

The correlation between health and money goes both ways, you see. You cut out healthy organic foods when you get a pay cut because you can’t afford Whole Foods any more. You drop your gym membership but don’t hop on the treadmill at home any more either – just too tired, maybe even a bit depressed. You sacrifice everything but the stuff you can’t live without – coffee, milk, sugar and (of course) your Blackberry.

But it’ll come back to haunt you. Try fighting with your HMO or PPO when there’s trouble with the endoscopy coverage. Try looking for another job while you’re feebly attempting to combine not missing work from being sick with faking enjoyment the days you do actually make it in. Try explaining to your wife that you’d rather spend money on a new video game and “live a little” than go shopping with her for your favorite healthy foods, as you stuff another corn dog into your mouth while your children play in the yard outside, oblivious to their father’s skyrocketing cholesterol levels.

I’m a victim of the crime myself; I constantly go over my monthly food budget and yet I’m buying frivolous, unnecessary items such as sugar-free pudding and fat-free Cool Whip instead of asparagus and roasted red peppers. We all fall into one trap or another. But I can’t keep piddling away my salary on tasteless chicken and mediocre steaks. Things have to change.

How? Maybe that’s the problem. I don’t know how, or my bank account would be much fatter. Should I switch to the cheaper grocery store, the one with those “specialty brands” where you have to supply your own grocery bags and do it yourself? I look at the ads each week – I even have a seven-page Excel spreadsheet with about 300 line items, comparing prices across 10+ purveyors of Bounty paper towels, kitty litter, tomatoes, Butterball turkey breast and countless varieties of fruits and vegetables. But has it ever come in handy? No. I can’t exactly drive from store to store, buying what’s cheapest at each one, because then I’ll be wasting gas! All I’ve gathered is to never pay more than 2/$4 for DanActive, Wheat Thins and Activia. Genius.

I’ve tried coupons – but if I’m starting out by trying to follow the “only buy if it’s on sale” rule, it’s a rare joy when something’s actually on sale and I also happen to have a coupon. And even when I have a coupon, it’s for the name brand – and the generic’s always cheaper. So how about doubling coupons? Does any grocery store in the Chicagoland area actually double coupons? I’ve sure never heard of it around here. (It is on my to-do list to call around and find out, however.)

I guess I’ll do what I do best – make a list. The scintillating list of all my grocery store money-saving options under the sun. Something’s gotta take, right?

I can:

  • Shop at the discount stores – Sam’s Club, Aldi, Ultra, Westbrook, Brook Haven, Meijer, CostCo. No exceptions.
  • Make shopping lists, and refuse to buy anything not on the list. If you forgot, apparently it wasn’t that important to begin with.
  • Shop alone (this is hard to do – my wife actually likes to come along but she often picks out stuff we don’t need) – then you’ll only have to deal with your own temptations, not your partner’s or your kids’.
  • Only allow two “treat” foods for each member of your family, assuming you all have different tastes in snack/dessert foods (I’ll shamelessly admit that I stole this idea from someone else).
  • Don’t buy “three for $5” if you really only need one – usually, they’ll still honor that price if you only purchase one out of the three.
  • Instead of constantly updating a useless Excel spreadsheet, circle what’s cheap in all the weekly ads and buy 1) what you need 2) when you’re out and about and 3) when you need it! Wait, this could really work, people! I usually try not to make a trip out for just one errand, to save gas and to be good to the environment – but if I’m going to Starbucks, I might as well swing past Ultra on the way there, right?! This is all actually starting to make sense! What good is an Excel spreadsheet if produce prices change with the seasons, manufacturer discounts vary biweekly and store specials are a dime a dozen?
  • Match the coupons – even check on line, before you go – to what’s on sale where you plan on shopping. If nothing matches up, just leave the coupons behind and don’t forget about the generics. I’m not talking toilet paper, but shredded cheese, block cheese, bread, etc. Often the generic is cheaper even when you have a coupon for the brand name – and I plan on finding out if that’s still the case even when you double coupons.
  • Buying what’s in season/local produce can often help, too. If you get to know your local farmer’s market, you can also get to know the cheap guy at your local farmer’s market. Mine is an older couple with a big white truck. 10 banana peppers for a quarter? Where else are you going to get a deal like that? If you live in a temperate climate, you probably have farmer’s markets available year round. Lucky duck. Go there! You’ll never find more fresh and flavorful options on the cheap. Just remember to resist the $40 orchids.
  • Pay in cash, not with a card – even if it’s debited directly and instantaneously from your bank account – because it’s harder to part with actual bills than it is to swipe a card. Put your grocery budget money in a marked envelope, and when it runs out, it’s time to get creative with the eggs, rice and peas left over in your kitchen. Fried rice, anyone?
  • Buy in bulk when you can. This doesn’t just mean at the big warehouse stores; it’s also cheaper to buy a bag of onions or potatoes than it is to pick out a few and put them in your own plastic bag. Plus, those little mesh baggies do wonders for the shelf life of your average kitchen sponge if you tie one on and use it for extra scrubbing power on some of your hardest gunked-up pans.
  • Don’t buy the convenience foods – things like pre-washed lettuce in bags and pre-sliced mushrooms. Wash a head of romaine yourself (you can also better tell how fresh it is when it’s not hiding behind colorful plastic packaging) and slice the darned mushrooms yourself! It takes no time.
  • If something that you regularly use is on sale, buy it even if you don’t need it right that second. Don’t pass up a good deal this week because when the craving hits next week, you’ll get sucked into buying it at a higher price.

I’m remembering why I started this blog. It’s like a public brainstorming session. Does anyone else out there have any grocery store money-saving tips they’d like to share? Have you ever even thought about your weekly grocery bill, and what you can do to get more for your money? Share your ideas with me! Whether you’re the drummer in a band or the retired mom living next door, I want to hear what you have to say. We can all help each other out, even if it’s just a quick phone call to say that your favorite juice is on sale this week – want me to pick up a few bottles for you?

I have to make a grocery trip today, so we’ll put my rules to the test. I am convinced that having a smaller waistline doesn’t always mean your pocketbook has to downsize too. Eating healthy, all-natural foods is a right that should come easily to us in this country. Please, don’t cut back on the organic milk, strawberries and broccoli next time you run out just because the future is a little more uncertain than it was two years ago. Respect your body and the food you put into it, and it will do wonderful things for you in return.

Navigating the Supermarket

I've talked through ways you can outsmart the supermarket.If there’s one domestic task I love, it’s grocery shopping. No matter the market, the time of day or the length of my list, don’t rush me when I’m studying prices and smelling melons. I think it’s the only place in the world where I actually relish the awful fluorescent lighting and horrible choice of music.

Grocery shopping can make or break your diet. After all, if the chocolate bar doesn’t make it into your cart, you have zero chance of eating it after lunch. On the other hand, if you find a good purveyor of produce and dedicate yourself to shopping there religiously, your cart can turn into a veritable rainbow of colors, vitamins, nutrients, and of course flavor. Taste. What lots of people think is absolutely nonexistent when you’re “on a diet.”

Because you have a limitless supply of good and evil on all the shelves that surround you at the supermarket, it’s important to enter forewarned and well prepared. Here are some tried and true tips if, unlike me, the yellow lighting and Muzak leave you less than thrilled to make the weekly jaunt.

  • Make a list. An obvious place to start, right? But how many times have you gone to the store for one or two things and ended up spending $50 on stuff you didn’t really need? It’s bad for your wallet and your waistline. Going to the store prepared not only keeps your trip quick, organized and streamlined but it also keeps you from branching out and filling your cart with extras – ice cream on sale in the freezer isle, candy bars at the checkout. Let’s be honest here: I think you’re more likely to impulse-buy junk than you are to say, “Oh wow! Would you just look at those grapes? Divine! Must. Have. Now.” So make a list and stick to it.
  • Know when to go. If you have the luxury of time and can arrange your shopping trip accordingly, try scoping out your local grocery store on Wednesday nights, preferably after 9 pm. Any night after 9 you’ll find less shoppers and anxiety-inducing checkout lines, but on Wednesdays specifically, most grocers experience a midweek lull. Lots of shoppers tend to take care of business on the weekends (worst time ever!). Taking a leisurely stroll through the isles will allow you to keep your cool, stick to your list, use the self checkout calmly – all important points if you keep reading.
  • Work the periphery. You’ve probably heard this before, and it’s the best rule of all. All of the major food groups are around the edges of every grocery store: Produce, meat and dairy should form the bulk of what’s in your cart each trip. The middle of the store is filled with packaged, processed foods, and although you’ll have to peep in and out for basic staples like rice and pasta, for the most part you should stay away from these shelves, loaded with preservatives and unpronounceable ingredients.
  • Hit the dairy isle last. When it comes to eggs, cheese and milk, we all know that freshness matters most. Come here last, and your perishables will spend less time at room temperature, will stay fresher longer and you’ll be able to take advantage of the full life of all your products and the health benefits that go along with them – calcium, filling protein and vitamin D for strong bones and teeth. After all, the most expensive food in your fridge is the food you throw out – so keep it cool and don’t let anything go to waste.
  • Don’t fall prey to weekly specials and coupons if what’s advertised is less than healthy. End caps, towers and brightly colored signs will attract your attention – they’re there to do precisely that – but just because something’s on sale doesn’t mean you should buy it. And unfortunately, packaged and processed foods are more likely to be buy-one-get-one-free than mangoes and organic packs of spinach. (Don’t even get me started.) Do what I do: Avert your eyes – literally – and once you find what you’re looking for, then you can determine whether or not it’s on sale, or which comparable brand you can afford. Don’t do the reverse, buying what’s on sale and justifying a way to use it later.
  • Start taking note of the prices of the products you most often purchase. I admit to struggling each month trying to meet my food budget (read: I always go over), and as a result there are times when I focus more on price than I do on nutrition. I hate it when that happens! But if you’re able to eat affordably, you’re able to eat better. If you suspect that your local chain may not be offering you the best prices, shop around. Never turn away from a produce aisle because you’ve already filled your cart and are nearing your budget. Rather, weed out the more expensive stores, and once you’re there, fill your cart with the good stuff first. Only spend on treats if you have money left over. See? I’m saving you calories and cents.
  • Limit your treats. I’d rather you not eliminate treats all together, but obviously if you’re strapped for cash you should focus more on fueling your body than indulging your sweet tooth. However. If you set a limit to begin with – two is my personal favorite – you can often work that smaller number into both your budget and your diet. Plan out the two treats you want to have around for the week (low-fat frozen yogurt and Sun Chips, for example) and you won’t be scrambling at the grocery store, faced with multiple temptations, unable to say no.
  • Enlist a friend. Not sure if the yearly fee is worth it at the big-box stores? Try joining Costco or Sam’s Club with a friend or sibling. Split the fee and make monthly trips together – you’ll have an equal with you each time you go, and who wants to be the oddball, taking home three-pound boxes of Oreos while your smart, skinny friend is stocking up on organic apples and OJ? With someone there to keep you accountable, you’re much less likely to slip up and end up with a three-month supply of artery-clogging fat and cholesterol.
  • Read books. There are some great resources in the diet and exercise section of your local bookstore or library that can actually help you with your grocery shopping, believe it or not. My latest obsession is The Eat This, Not That Supermarket Survival Guide. You’ll be shocked not only by what products you probably commonly buy that you can find better alternatives for but also by what the food industry lets slide in terms of quality control for a lot of packaged and processed foods. Want a teaser? Let’s just say I bet you don’t think you’re eating rat hairs and insect pieces when you open up a can of pineapple slices or tomatoes. YUCK.
  • Read labels. You can let books and common sense do the work for you sometimes, but if you’re trying to decide between two products, for example, check the list of ingredients. The better product is the item with a shorter list of pronounceable ingredients, not the one packed with strange ingredients. And don’t think that just because something is organic means that it’s good for you – even if it’s in the “natural foods” isle, organic junk food is still junk food. If sugar’s one of the top five ingredients, leave it on the shelf.
  • Use the self-checkout. This is another tactic that will help you stave off mindless purchases and mindless eating. After all, who wants to self-check out 10 for $10 boxes of Lucky Charms? You may even prefer to use a basket rather than a cart when you’re making a routine trip to replenish pantry items like canned beans, pasta sauce and spices. Being mindful when you’re shopping can definitely help you follow through in order to be more mindful when you’re making and eating your meals, too.

The next time you’re headed out for groceries, remember these tips. Trying to pick the right thing doesn’t have to be an anxiety-inducing ritual. Food shopping should be about picking the freshest, most nutritious and delicious ingredients that inspire you to cook and feed your body whole, healthy meals. There are lots of resources out there to help you pick the right items, of course, but it often comes down to your palate and common sense. Stick with the produce, stay away from the junk and you’ll already be light-years ahead of where you may have once been. Remember – you’ve got to eat great to be great, and the pattern starts here.

Eating for Energy

We all want more, more, more these days, but that’s not always a bad thing – one of the things I want, for example, is more energy. More energy to do more things, to stay up later and not be tired the next day, to not get drowsy, worn down, tired and sick.

So, part of what I’m looking forward to as I remember the year of my birth is examining the difference I feel, if any, when I avoid known energy-suckers (e.g. cookies, candy, cakes etc.) and explore the connection between what you eat and how much energy you have.

I start my day REALLY early every morning – at 4:50am – and that in and of itself has always discouraged me from pushing at the end of the day, whether it be for networking, housework or even catching up on a favorite TV show. Usually, the baby goes to sleep and I’m not far behind.

At the risk of complete humiliation, I’m going to admit that I crawl into bed anywhere between 8 and 10pm, and usually the only things I have energy for, if anything, include face cream and dental floss. But still, even on a good day, that’s only nine hours of sleep max, and even then, that’s only if we all sleep through the night, which is rare these days because of my son’s teething. On top of that, I couldn’t tell you the last time I actually had a nap.

So, I know that processed foods are basically good for nothing, and fruits and veggies with complex carbohydrates do a body good but this is nothing new to me. I’ve tried the “perfect” snack of an apple and string cheese; I’ve tried nuts, dried fruit, lots of water, and half a sandwich. But as I move forward, what I’m working on now is some way to track on this site what I eat, how it makes me feel, what I was doing before I ate (if there is any sort of stressor or emotional connection that’s worth exploring) and what scientific evidence exists to back up why I might feel more energetic throughout, or at the end of my day.

It’s kind of a daunting task, because everything I’ve tried thus far just gets cut off in the margin, but if worst comes to worst I’ll just group small lists together and try to identify any patterns that way. Hope you guys enjoyed the nice long weekend. It was rainy and horrible here, but at least we got relaxing time at home!

Honey, Sugar, Agave & Molasses – What To Eat When You Want Sweet

Honey is an excellent substitute for sugar.If sugar is the devil, HFCS is its close relative and artificial sweeteners cause cancer, you probably think you’re not left with very many choices when it comes to feeding your sweet tooth. After all, turn over any conventional package of cookies, donuts or snack cakes and you’re likely to see one of these ingredients listed (most likely as one of the first few ingredients by volume on the nutrition label).

You’d be wrong to think there are few options left, but right in the sense that most of them are not much better for you than the refined kinds we’ve listed here. Confused? Let’s break it down. Sugar comes in many different forms, so many that it can be dizzying and overwhelming to try to control your consumption just by reading labels.

There’s agave, brown rice syrup, cane juice, molasses, honey, maple syrup, stevia, Sucanat and fruit juice concentrate, to name a few. No wonder why it’s so hard to figure out what we’re “supposed” to eat; we’ve created a panoply of options that our great-grandparents couldn’t possibly have even dreamed of. But when it comes down to it, a sugar’s a sugar. Your intake should be limited, as difficult as it may sound now that we know how many forms it comes in!

I recommend the following, if it helps: Honey is one of your best options, as it is made in nature (although some argue that it’s the bees who are doing the “processing,” rather than human factory workers) compared to man-made substances like Splenda and Equal, I’d take honey hands down, any day. Use it to sweeten tea (hot or iced), and it can even be used in baking. Start experimenting with your recipes by swapping liquid sweetener for a solid (i.e. white table sugar). It’s fun, more natural and just as delicious.

Maple syrup is my second favorite. It’s not found in many pre-packaged foods, which is a good indicator that it’s a more natural ingredient (actually made by nature, just like honey!). Do yourself a favor and get rid of Aunt Jemima, Mrs Butterworth & Eggo and replace your pancake/waffle syrup with the real deal. It can also be used in my favorite delicious coffee drink, recipe here.

This is an interesting alternative to normal sugars.Fruit juice concentrate is often used as a natural sweetener in jams and jellies, which in my book is better than sugar even if it’s “organic.” I know we tend to think of the whole fruit as better than the fruit juice, but that’s typically just because of the fiber content here. In reality, you’re still taking something directly from nature; the whole, untouched fruit and then concentrating its juice down to magnify the flavor and sweetness.

Some yogurts now also use this instead of sugar. If you’re a yogurt addict, try Amande and let me know if you find any others that don’t use sugar!

And, my friends, that’s it. I don’t use barley malt, cane juice, glucose, and invert sugar or turbinado sugar. If I’m baking I try to use honey or maple syrup, or occasionally I’ll use sugar so as to avoid buying processed food. Sugary foods should really be reserved for special occasions, not after every meal.

Trust me, I know that’s difficult if you have a sweet tooth like I do. But I like the saying “No snacks, sweets or seconds on days that don’t begin with ‘S’ and that’s even a stretch because we all know every Saturday and Sunday shouldn’t be treated like a holiday. You can ruin any diet with whole “cheat days” instead of cheat meals, and if people are going to cave it’s most likely to happen on the weekends when our schedules are unpredictable and even the best-laid plans can be thrown out the window at a dinner party or the movie theater.

Anything sweet should be consumed in moderation; the less, the better. Sugar suppresses the immune system, encourages inflammation (which is a key indicator of many chronic diseases) and can cause anxiety, cancer and hypoglycemia, to name a few. The bottom line is it’s bad, which we all know, and if you’ve ever tried weaning yourself off of it you know it also seems rather addictive. You may rationalize “just one cookie” here and a piece of cake there because it’s Friday or because it’s mom’s birthday. You may sneak sweets, just as one would sneak a cigarette, and you may feel guilty and regretful after consuming something overly sugary, just as you would the morning after a few too many cocktails. Sounds kind of like the use of a controlled substance, doesn’t it!

Agave is actually quite healthy for you.You don’t have to quit it cold turkey, but slowly reduce your consumption. I like the apple test personally. If you’re not hungry enough to eat the most perfect, shiny, delicious-looking apple, like a nice Honeycrisp, Pink Lady or whatever your favorite may be (pick another fruit if this doesn’t apply to you) when what you really want is a donut, scone or other food you maybe shouldn’t be eating, then you’re probably not hungry.

I’ve used this test several times since I first heard about it on a radio program, and maybe it’s just the hormones but I did find I was actually hungry and (1) at the apple, once, and (2) had a bowl of cereal another day, because that’s what I was really trying to decide if I needed or not, not just wanted. Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day, believe it or not, just because I absolutely know I’m hungry!

Eating because of stress or the clock or simple circumstances is never good, and yet I know that’s what I find myself doing throughout the day. So use the apple test to gauge your need for food in general, sweets in particular and if you want a cookie but have an apple, EAT THE APPLE!