Choco-Nut Granola

Gluten-free, grain-free granola made with nuts, seeds, coconut oil and raw honeyHey Folks…

First of all, sincere apologies for not posting as often lately! Man, life can be a bit distracting! So, to make it up to you all, I’m sharing my recipe for CHOCO-NUT GRANOLA.  This stuff is so delicious and yummy, you’ll be hard put to stop with a single handful.  For starters, this is a gluten-free recipe and in fact, there are no grain ingredients whatsoever, only nuts and seeds which are chock full of minerals and healthy fats such as oleic acid, which is a monounsaturated fatty acid found naturally in many plant and animal products. Oleic acid has been shown to reduce inflammation, boost memory power, and reduce symptoms of asthma, as well as lower LDL levels (bad cholesterol) and increase HDL (good cholesterol).  Another plus to eating nuts? The healthy oils/fats found in macadamia nuts, walnuts, etc. actually help the body burn fat more efficiently! So, check it out…you and your family will love this!

Choco-Nut Granola

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1/3-1/2 cup Almonds
  • 1/3-1/2 cup Cashews
  • 1/4 cup Hazelnuts
  • 1/2 cup Macadamia nuts
  • 1/4 cup Pistachios
  • 1/2 cup Walnuts
  • 1/3 cup Sesame seeds
  • 1/3 cup Pumpkin seeds
  • 1/4 cup Sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 cup Organic, Unsweetened coconut flakes
  • 2 Tbsp. organic, extra virgin coconut oil
  • 2 Tbsp. organic cocoa powder
  • 1-2 Tbsp. raw honey
  • Dash of course grain sea salt

DIRECTIONS:

The above measurements are only a guide…you can experiment with different ratios depending upon which nuts/seeds are more preferable to you! Begin by lightly chopping all nuts and throw into a large mixing bowl.  Throw in the seeds as well as the organic, unsweetened coconut flakes. In a separate smaller bowl or mixer, stir together coconut oil, honey, cocoa powder and sea salt.  (You may have to warm honey in order to gain correct consistency as the coconut oil mixture should be liquidly.) Pour mixture over nuts and seeds and stir, ensuring all nuts/seeds are thoroughly coated. Press into pan and bake on low heat (150 degrees) for about 45 minutes. Chill. Eat. Yum!

Gluten-free, grain-free granola made with nuts, seeds, coconut oil and raw honeySide Note: You can also add in small pieces of dried fruit for an extra sweetness or zing.  My favorite are tart cherries!  However, be aware that most dried fruit contains a lot of sugar so watch portions accordingly.

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The Sun and You

For most of us, we’ve heard all our life to avoid the sun, especially in attempts to prevent skin cancer, wrinkles, sun spots, etc. We’ve been told by marketers and doctors alike to slather on the sunscreen and to minimize overall exposure as much as possible.

What if I were to tell you, however, that we’ve been sadly misdirected in that much of what we understand to be truth has otherwise been the result of massive propaganda stemming from the dermatology, cosmetics and sunscreen industries? What if I were also to tell you that sensible sun exposure can actually help prevent certain cancers as well as keep the skin looking youthful? I recently read The Healing Power of Vitamin D and Sunlight” which is compiled by Mike Adams, based on his interview with Dr. Michael Holick, author of “The UV Advantage”.  Continue reading below for more insight into this fascinating and challenging subject.

Fifteen Facts You Probably Never Knew About Vitamin D and Sunlight Exposure:

Vitamin D prevents osteoporosis, depression, prostate cancer, breast cancer, and even effects diabetes and obesity. Vitamin D is perhaps the single most underrated nutrient in the world of nutrition. That’s probably because it’s free: your body makes it when sunlight touches your skin. Drug companies can’t sell you sunlight, so there’s no promotion of its health benefits. Truth is, most people don’t know the real story on vitamin D and health. So here’s an overview taken from an interview between Mike Adams and Dr. Michael Holick.

1. Vitamin D is produced by your skin in response to exposure to ultraviolet radiation from natural sunlight.

2. The healing rays of natural sunlight (that generate vitamin D in your skin) cannot penetrate glass. So you don’t generate vitamin D when sitting in your car or home.

3. It is nearly impossible to get adequate amounts of vitamin D from your diet. Sunlight exposure is the only reliable way to generate vitamin D in your own body.

4. A person would have to drink ten tall glasses of vitamin D fortified milk each day just to get minimum levels of vitamin D into their diet.

5. The further you live from the equator, the longer exposure you need to the sun in order to generate vitamin D. Canada, the UK and most U.S. states are far from the equator.

6. People with dark skin pigmentation may need 20 – 30 times as much exposure to sunlight as fair-skinned people to generate the same amount of vitamin D. That’s why prostate cancer is epidemic among black men — it’s a simple, but widespread, sunlight deficiency.

7. Sufficient levels of vitamin D are crucial for calcium absorption in your intestines. Without sufficient vitamin D, your body cannot absorb calcium, rendering calcium supplements useless.

8. Chronic vitamin D deficiency cannot be reversed overnight: it takes months of vitamin D supplementation and sunlight exposure to rebuild the body’s bones and nervous system.

9. Even weak sunscreens (SPF8) block your body’s ability to generate vitamin D by 95%. This is how sunscreen products actually cause disease — by creating a critical vitamin deficiency in the body.

10. It is impossible to generate too much vitamin D in your body from sunlight exposure: your body will self-regulate and only generate what it needs.

11. If it hurts to press firmly on your sternum, you may be suffering from chronic vitamin D deficiency right now.

12. Vitamin D is “activated” in your body by your kidneys and liver before it can be used.

13. Having kidney disease or liver damage can greatly impair your body’s ability to activate circulating vitamin D.

14. The sunscreen industry doesn’t want you to know that your body actually needs sunlight exposure because that realization would mean lower sales of sunscreen products.

15. Even though vitamin D is one of the most powerful healing chemicals in your body, your body makes it absolutely free. No prescription required.

On the issue of sunlight exposure, by the way, it turns out that super antioxidants greatly boost your body’s ability to handle sunlight without burning. Astaxanthin is one of the most powerful “internal sunscreens” and can allow you to stay under the sun twice as long without burning. Other powerful antioxidants with this ability include the superfruits like Acai, Pomegranates (POM Wonderful juice), blueberries, etc.

Diseases and Conditions Caused by Vitamin D Deficiency:

  • Osteoporosis is commonly caused by a lack of vitamin D, which greatly impairs calcium absorption.
  • Sufficient vitamin D prevents prostate cancer, breast cancer, ovarian cancer, depression, colon cancer and schizophrenia.
  • “Rickets” is the name of a bone-wasting disease caused by vitamin D deficiency.
  • Vitamin D deficiency may exacerbate type 2 diabetes and impair insulin production in the pancreas.
  • Obesity impairs vitamin D utilization in the body, meaning obese people need twice as much vitamin D.
  • Vitamin D is used around the world to treat Psoriasis.
  • Vitamin D deficiency causes schizophrenia.
  • Seasonal Affective Disorder is caused by a melatonin imbalance initiated by lack of exposure to sunlight.
  • Chronic vitamin D deficiency is often misdiagnosed as fibromyalgia because its symptoms are so similar: muscle weakness, aches and pains.
  • Your risk of developing serious diseases like diabetes and cancer is reduced 50% – 80% through simple, sensible exposure to natural sunlight 2-3 times each week.
  • Infants who receive vitamin D supplementation (2000 units daily) have an 80% reduced risk of developing type 1 diabetes over the next twenty years.

Shocking Vitamin D Deficiency Statistics:

  • 32% of doctors and med school students are vitamin D deficient.
  • 40% of the U.S. population is vitamin D deficient.
  • 42% of African American women of childbearing age are deficient in vitamin D.
  • 48% of young girls (9-11 years old) are vitamin D deficient.
  • Up to 60% of all hospital patients are vitamin D deficient.
  • 76% of pregnant mothers are severely vitamin D deficient, causing widespread vitamin D deficiencies in their unborn children, which predisposes them to type 1 diabetes, arthritis, multiple sclerosis and schizophrenia later in life. 81 % of the children born to these mothers were deficient.
  • Up to 80% of nursing home patients are vitamin D deficient.

What You Can Do:

“Sensible exposure to natural sunlight is the simplest, easiest and yet one of the most important strategies for improving your health. I urge you to read the book, “The UV Advantage” by Dr. Michael Holick to get the full story on natural sunlight. You can find this book at most local bookstores or through BN.com, Amazon. com, etc. Note: This is not a paid endorsement or an affiliate link. I recommend it because of its great importance in preventing chronic disease and enhancing health without drugs or surgery. This may be the single most important book on health you ever read. If more people understood this information, we could drastically reduce the rates of chronic disease in this country and around the world. Sunlight exposure is truly one of the most powerful healing therapies in the world, far surpassing the best efforts of today’s so-called “advanced medicine.” There is no drug, no surgical procedure, and no high-tech procedure that comes even close to the astonishing healing power of natural sunlight.”

“And you can get it free of charge. That’s why nobody’s promoting it, of course.”

Additional notes by Nourish:

  • If you chose to supplement with vitamin D, please avoid the cheaper, less-effective D2 and instead opt for an oil-based D3.
  • Avoid fortified foods! Although there are natural food sources of vitamin D, most fortified foods (such as pasteurized dairy, orange juice, etc.) are fortified with D2, not D3. Besides you shouldn’t drink orange juice anyway, it’s too high in sugar.
  • Avoid using chemical-based sunscreens and instead opt for one which is manufactured with natural oils and minerals. Mineral-based sunscreens are just as effective and do not pose the same toxic exposure.
  • Astaxanthin, as mentioned previously in Mike Adam’s above summary, is a powerful antioxidant, shown to effectively scavenge free radicals from muscle tissue and help reduce singlet oxygen (particular type of ‘bad’ oxidation).


Raw Brownie Bites

Raw Brownie Bites that are gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free and guilt-free

Okay, I am in love with this raw dessert…and you will be too if you try it (gluten-free, diary-free, GUILT-FREE). Okay, ready?
INGREDIENTS:
  • 3/4 cup raw walnuts
  • 1/4 cup raw almonds
  • 2 Tbps. cocoa powder
  • 1 cup or approx. 15 Medjool dates, pitted
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • pinch sea salt
  • 1 Tbsp. raw honey (optional for those who are vegan)
DIRECTIONS:
Throw the nuts in a food processor and blend until the natural oils begin to surface. Throw in the cocoa powder and blend more. Add in the dates, vanilla extract and sea salt. Blend more until the mixture begins to stick to itself. Add in the raw honey (this stuff is soooooo good, its unbelievable). Mix in the food processor until the dough forms a ball. Throw in fridge until mixture is cooled. Remove chilled dough from the fridge and roll into bite-sized balls – top with sesame seeds or chopped walnuts and store in fridge or freezer.
Although I wouldn’t advise eating several of these in one sitting because of the sugar content (albeit natural sugars), these raw brownie bites make a perfect, guilt-free dessert/snack chock full of fiber, vitamin A, vitamin E, magnesium, Omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, etc.  Bettcha can’t say that about your typical brownie, now can you?
ENJOY!

Tart Cherries – Your New Super Food

Tart Cherry Close-UpHomegrown and long a part of America’s history, cherries are truly an American favorite. Technically known as Prunus Cerasus, tart cherries’ nutrition, unique flavor and naturally functional properties are right on target with today’s new food and beverage trends. Tart cherries are packed with powerful antioxidants. In fact, they have among the highest levels of antioxidants of other “Super Foods“. Tart cherries ranked 14 in the top 50 foods for highest antioxidant content per serving size — surpassing well-known leaders such as red wine, prunes, and dark chocolate, according to one recent study (1). Compared to other Super Fruits, tart cherries are right up there on the ORAC scale, sharing gold-medal space with blueberries, acai berries, cranberries and strawberries.

(Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC) is a measure of antioxidant strength. ORAC measures how many oxygen radicals a specific food can absorb and deactivate. The more oxygen radicals a food can absorb, the higher its ORAC score.)

Even more important than antioxidant levels alone, other natural compounds in tart cherries may work synergistically to deliver powerful health benefits, according to research from the University of Michigan, specifically anthocyanins, which help block enzymes associated with inflammation. Tart cherries contain significantly more anthocyanins than other fruits, including blueberries and pomegranates. Additionally, this lovely bright red fruit contains flavanols, such as quercetin and other polyphenols such as ellagic acid and melatonin. Yes, melatonin, which is why there are some who claim that tart cherries can actually help one get a better night’s rest! Also, if you’re looking to boost your natural intake of vitamin A, look no further than the tart cherry which a single serving serves up 19 times more vitamin A than blueberries or strawberries.

Aside from the fact that tart cherries are a nutrient powerhouse, they also provide a number of health benefits. Many studies have linked tart cherry consumption and cherry anthocyanins to decreased inflammation and inflammatory-related conditions.  One particular study from University of Michigan revealed a cherry-enriched diet reduced inflammation markers in animals by up to 50% (2).

Tart cherries in a green bowl

For decades arthritis and gout sufferers have regularly consumed tart cherry juice for relief of symptoms.  As early as the 1950’s, the science began to support this long-held tradition, linking cherry consumption to reduced pain associated with gout attacks. Specifically, one study found that when healthy women ate 2 servings of cherries after an overnight fast, they showed a 15% reduction in uric acid levels, as well as lowered nitric oxide and C-reactive protein levels, all of which are associated to inflammatory diseases like gout. The inflammatory benefits extend to arthritis sufferers, too! Studies show that a daily dose of tart cherries (as tart cherry extract) helped reduce osteoarthritis pain by more than 20% for men and women.

Tart cherry consumption has also been linked to a number of cardiovascular benefits as well – from overall anti-inflammation to reduction in cholesterol levels, to decreased risk for atherosclerosis and metabolic syndrome. The anthocyanins in tart cherries may also lower blood lipid levels and significantly elevated blood antioxidant capacity.

Organic tart juice concentrate can be a good option for those who cannot find the real fruitSo if you are looking for foods which naturally help the body manage internal inflammation, tart cherries make a great addition to your nutrition plan. Like all fruits, however, you should be aware of the sugar content. By far, the beat way to consume tart cherries is either in their whole form, or in concentrated supplement capsules.  Of course, the whole fruit contains sugar, but you also get a nice dose of fiber, which helps to minimize insulin release. At 60 calories per serving, tart cherries are great as a mid-morning snack or mixed in with your favorite breakfast smoothie or oatmeal. If you have difficulty sourcing the fruit, you can also try a juice concentrate (found in most health food stores) which is 100 calories per 2 Tbsp. serving and 22 grams of sugar. Just keep in mind that one of the best ways to minimize internal inflammation is to cut down on sugar intake and drinking fruit juice, even natural or organic, delivers a lot of sugar along with those vitamins and nutrients.  If you like the idea of dried fruit, you can always make your won by either drying tart cherries in a low-temp oven for a couple of hours or using a dehydrator at home.  Eating whole food fruit is always the best option!

 Nourish yourself with tart cherries and feel and look fabulous!

1. Halvorsen BL, Carlsen MH, Phillips KM, Bohn SK, Holte K, Jacobs DR, Blomhoff R. Content of redox-active compounds (i.e., antioxidants) in foods consumed in the United States. Am J Clin Nutr 2006;84:95-135.

2. Seymour EM, Urcuyo-Llanes D, Boiling SF, Bennink MR.  Tart cherry intake reduces plasma and tissue inflammation in obesity-prove rats. FASEB J 2010; 24:335.1.

Green Curry Lime Shrimp with Asparagus

Happy Friday! Looking for a quick-fix, super yummy, healthy meal for you and the family tonight? Check out this Green Curry Lime Shrimp with Asparagus recipe! Shrimp cooks up super quickly (in about 4-5 min.) and if you use pre-cooked brown rice, you’ll be ready to chow down in a matter of minutes!

Green curry lime shrimp with spring's favorite vegetables, asparagus.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 pound(s) shelled and de-veined shrimp
  • 4 teaspoon(s) green curry paste
  • 1 tablespoon(s) virgin organic coconut oil
  • 1 pound(s) asparagus, cut in 2-inch pieces and/or tips only
  • 2 limes
  • 1 can(s) (13 1/2- to 14-ounce) coconut milk
  • 2 tablespoon(s) less-sodium fish sauce (GMO-FREE)
  • 2 package(s) (8.8-ounce) whole-grain brown rice

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Start rice cooker for brown rice, approximately 45 minutes.
  2. In medium bowl, toss shrimp with curry paste to coat. In 12-inch skillet, heat coconut oil on medium-high. Add shrimp; cook 3 minutes or just until pink, stirring. Transfer to large bowl.
  3. To same skillet, add asparagus tips and 3 tablespoons water; cook 4 minutes or until asparagus is tender-crisp and water evaporates, stirring often. From 1 lime, grate 1 teaspoon peel; cut remaining lime into 4 wedges.
  4. Add asparagus to shrimp in bowl. To skillet, add coconut milk and lime peel; heat to boiling on high. Reduce heat to medium and cook 5 minutes or until slightly thickened.
  5. Return shrimp mixture to skillet. Stir in fish sauce; heat through.
  6. Garnish with extra limes…enjoy!

Black Bean, Quinoa & Citrus Salad

Black Bean, Quinoa & Citrus Salad

Looking for a new take on quinoa?  Check out this super yummy citrus salad recipe I found on www.iowagirleats.com. What is quinoa you ask?  Well, many folks think quinoa (pronounced keen-wa) is a grain, when in fact, it is a seed. Not only is quinoa high in protein, but the protein it supplies is complete protein, meaning that it includes all nine essential amino acids. Given that quinoa’s amino acid profile is well balanced, making it a good choice for vegans concerned about adequate protein intake, it is especially well-endowed with the amino acid lysine, which is essential for tissue growth and repair. In addition to protein, quinoa features a host of other health-building nutrients, such as manganese, magnesium, folate, and phosphorus.  The amazing nutrient profile of quinoa may be especially valuable for persons with migraine headaches, diabetes and atherosclerosis. So check out this super yummy and satisfying recipe and know with confidence you are sustaining your health, as well!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1/2 cup dry quinoa
  • 1 cup + 2 Tablespoons water
  • 1/4 small red onion, minced
  • 1 grapefruit, peeled & diced
  • 1 can black beans, drained & rinsed
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 2 ears of corn, kernels cut off cob
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • 1/3 cup cilantro, chopped

For the Lime Vinaigrette:

  • 1 1/2 limes
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • juice limes into a small bowl, then whisk in extra virgin olive oil and season with salt & pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS:

  • Rinse quinoa in a fine-mesh strainer. Add to a small saucepan with the water, then bring to a boil. Put a lid on the pan, turn the heat down to medium-low, then simmer for 15 minutes, or until the quinoa has absorbed all of the water. Remove from heat, let sit for 5 minutes, then remove the lid and fluff quinoa with a fork. Chill until ready to use.
  • Combine red onion, grapefruit, black beans, cranberries, corn, avocado, cilantro and cooked, chilled quinoa into a large bowl. Toss with lime vinaigrette, sprinkle with additional salt & pepper to taste, then serve. Enjoy!

The Anti-Inflammatory Diet

Are you looking for success in your next diet?  Adopt the anti-inflammatory diet and make it a lifestyle, not a temporary fix!So many “diets” of today promote a quick-fix, easy solution versus focusing on long-term, sustainable change.  That’s why so many diets fail…they work for short periods but in the end, do not support optimal health. Our society is geared for instant gratification, hence the reason why marketers love to promote everything from a packet of hunger-reducing sprinkles you pour over food to the ever-famous diet pill.  Well, as it stands true for most things in life, there is no such thing as a real “quick” fix. If you want to get healthy, lose weight, look younger, and cut down on your medications, you need to make a lifestyle shift by eliminating negative behaviors, incorporating healthy food choices and exercising daily. So this is where I introduce the anti-inflammatory approach to eating. It isn’t a diet per say but moreover a lifestyle adjustment that fosters health and longevity!

What is inflammation?

Inflammation is the immune system’s first response when tissue has become injured, irritated, or diseased and makes it possible for the body to deal with a large number of foreign and toxic substances, playing a primary role in tissue repair. However, long-term internal inflammation has now been found to have the opposite effect and instead of helping to heal damaged tissue, actually causes tissue damage. Chronic inflammation has also now been found to be a major cause of weight gain and to further, inhibits ones ability to shed extra pounds by simple calorie reduction.

There are a number of factors which promote the over-production of inflammatory chemicals within the body; smoking, lack of exercise, obesity or weight gain, and sleep deprivation. But perhaps the largest cause of internal inflammation comes from the foods we eat. As it turns out, all foods can be divided into three categories based on how they affect us on a cellular level: pro-inflammatory, neutral, or anti-inflammatory. If you were to take a wild guess at which foods increase inflammatory response, what would you say? Yep, you guessed it: high sugar and processed foods!

Dr. Weil, champion of the anti-inflammatory diet, states, “If I could summarize everything I know about nutrition in one sentence, it would be…stop eating refined, processed and manufactured foods if at all possible.”

It’s important to realize that Inflammation is directly linked to insulin response in the body. We’ve discussed how high-sugar, refined foods cause the body to release insulin. Well, increased insulin levels in the blood lead to chronic inflammation which ultimately leads to, aside from general weight gain, a number of degenerative diseases, particularly those which are associated with aging. Fundamentally, this means that we need to make conscious food choices by purposefully selecting foods which will minimize insulin response, therefore, minimizing inflammatory response. At the end of this post, I’m going to challenge you to incorporate anti-inflammatory foods into your diet, as well as eliminate pro-inflammatory foods, for 2 solid weeks – you will be amazed at the results! So, let’s take a closer look, starting with those foods which actually cause inflammation!

Pro-Inflammatory Foods:

  • Sugar: table sugar, HFCS, dextrose, maltose, etc. Translation: dump the soda!
  • Fruit Juice: if you want the nutritional benefits of fruit, just eat the fruit. Juice is all sugar, no fiber, which will spike insulin response. Note that many manufacturers actually add sugar to juice to make it even sweeter…parents, serve your kiddos real fruit slices, not juice.
  • Refined Grains: crackers, bagels, white flour, white bread, pasta, cereal, etc. – choose 100% whole wheat products only, but preferably, cut out wheat all together.
  • White Rice: white rice is stripped of all essential nutrients, fiber and vitamins – select whole grain brown rice, only.
  • Trans Fats: vegetable oils which have gone through the chemical process of hydrogenation found in most fast foods, french fries, deep-fried foods, commercial baked and processed goods like doughnuts, crackers, peanut butter, etc.
  • Dairy: particularly low-fat products like yogurt, skim milk and all ice cream products, whipped cream, etc. Note: many folks suffer from milk allergy and digestive intolerance  –  we’ll review this at a later date.
  • Coffee: yes, I know…booooo.  We love our coffee, don’t we? When you drink coffee throughout the day, not only are you ingesting a pro-inflammatory food, but you are also exhausting your adrenals which can be detrimental to your metabolism as well as a number of other cellular activities. Cut your overall consumption down to 1 cup in the morning (some experts feel 1 daily cup to be beneficial). Choose organic coffee as most commercially manufactured coffees have a significant chemical load.
  • Alcohol: overconsumption of alcohol will cause inflammation of the liver, deterring the liver’s ability to effectively detox the body and excessive toxin load will lead to overall systemic inflammation.
  • Grain-Fed Beef and Poultry/ Processed Meats/ Excessive Meat Consumption: look for grass-finished beef and free-range chicken. Cut out the bacon, salami and all other deli meats which more often contain chemicals, nitrates and even sugar! Limit meat consumption to 4 ounce servings, 1 meal daily, as the majority of your diet should consist of fresh, raw vegetables and fruits, whole grains such as brown rice and grain-like items such as quinoa and fatty fish such as salmon.
  • Toxic Food Chemicals, GMO’s, Preservatives, Additives, Artificial Colors and Flavors: 90% of those food products which fall into the “processed” category contain a number of artificial chemicals, i.e. MSG.  MSG is a highly addictive neurotoxic, flavor-enhancer found in almost all processed foods and has been linked to headaches, obesity, racing heart, fibromyalgia, as well as a host of other horrific symptoms and conditions. MSG takes many names and many forms, so buyer beware!
Anti-Inflammatory Foods (listed in order of priority/ volume in which they should be consumed):
  • Water!: 3 liters daily
  • Fresh Vegetables: mostly raw as found in salads and smoothies, fresh or frozen but never canned. Note: Always be aware of The Dirty Dozen
  • Fresh Fruits: berries, melons, peaches, nectarines, apples, etc. In moderation, enjoy bananas, figs, tangerines, pineapple and grapes as these fruits have a higher Glycemic Index – higher in sugar. Note: Always be aware of The Dirty Dozen
  • Healthy Herbs and Spices and herbal teas
  • Healthy Fats: extra virgin cold pressed organic olive oil, extra virgin organic coconut oil, expeller-pressed canola oil, nuts, seeds and avocado.
  • Fish & Seafood: wild salmon, black cod, herring, sardines, etc.
  • Whole Grains and Grain-Like items: brown rice, quinoa, buckwheat, etc.
  • Beans and Legumes: when coupled with brown rice or other whole grain, creates a complete protein.
  • Lean Beef & Poultry: organic, grass-finished beef and free range skinless lean chicken.  Free range organic eggs.
Everyone, regardless of age, gender or current state of health, can adopt the anti-inflammatory diet. Do me a favor…better yet, do yourself a favor and give it 2 weeks. That is only 14 days out of a lifetime…not long at all. By now you likely realize that every post in my blog in some way correlates to the anti-inflammatory diet so feel free to scan the recipes I’ve posted thus far and incorporate them into your meal planning.  The wonderful thing about this particular approach is that you aren’t told to get rid of any one specific food group. (Sugar is not a food group.) You can enjoy a wide variety of very flavorful, satiating foods and you don’t even need to count calories. I guarantee that at the end of the 2 week period, you will look and feel so much better that you won’t want to go back to those negative eating habits – this will be the first step in making permanent, lasting positive change!
Nourish yourself and your family and make the above changes for 2 weeks…you will see and feel the difference!

Fast Food or Mad Food?

Is the "bacon sundae" the next best thing in fast food?  We don't think so!Just when you think our fast-food nation couldn’t get worse, a few new items on fast food menus are taking the “junk food” idea to a whole new level—and a downright revolting one, at that. Check out these new concoctions that should never (ever, ever) cross your lips.

Pizza Hut’s Hot Dog Pizza:

Love pizza? What about hot dogs? How about them together?! We’re sad to say there is such a thing. Pizza Hut restaurants in the United Kingdom recently unveiled a new offering of a “Hot Dog Stuffed Crust” pizza on its delivery menu. Bite into the crust and end up with a mouthful of salty, processed meat along with your mouthful of dough. For now, you won’t be able to get these stateside, but stay tuned. In the meantime, we say: God save the Queen…from a heart attack!

Taco Bell’s Doritos Locos Tacos:

Loco indeed. Earlier this year, Taco Bell unveiled the Doritos Locos Tacos, which combines their signature Taco Supreme—full of gut-busting ground meat, cheese, and sour cream—with a new shell made from Nacho Cheese Doritos chips. Need we say more?

Burger King’s Bacon Sundae:

Rumor has it that Burger King is testing potential new menu items. One of them? A bacon-topped vanilla ice-cream sundae. They aren’t nationwide just yet, but one was recently spotted at a Nashville restaurant. Unfortunately, the bacon-overload craze isn’t limited to Burger King: Jack in the Box has a bacon-flavored milkshake that racks up 773 calories, 40 grams of fat, and 75 grams of sugar in just one 16-ounce order.

KFC’s Double Down:

While it’s smart to avoid white bread, we’re not sure that’s what KFC had in mind when they created the Double Down. This “one-of-a-kind” sandwich swaps bread for two slabs of fried chicken. And it doesn’t stop there: the rest of the sandwich consists of two slices of bacon, Monterey and pepper jack cheese, and some sort of special creamy sauce. It tallies up to 32 grams of fat and 1390 milligrams of sodium per sandwich.

Read more from the original article: Prevention Magazine

Moroccan Fava Bean and Vegetable Soup

This brightly orange-colored soup is inspired by the fresh fava bean soup that Rivka Levy-Mellul, author of “La Cuisine Juive Marocaine,” remembers as the first course of her childhood Seders in Morocco. The authentic dish is a substantial soup made with quite a lot of meat, but this is a super delicious vegetarian version. Although one might think that the fava bean would create a pale green soup, the addition of carrots and turmeric kick it up a notch, both in flavor and in color!

You might be asking…what is a fava bean? Well, these pale green beans housed in big floppy pods have been a beloved early spring food across the planet for centuries. Favas — also known as Windsor beans, English beans, horse beans and pigeon beans — have long been diet staples in Asia, the Middle East, South America, North Africa and Europe. These ancient beans are one of the oldest cultivated plants and among the easiest to grow. The beans have a buttery texture, slight bitterness and lovely, nutty flavor. And after a long, dark winter, their fresh green color pushes you right into spring. Also, favas are nutrition superheroes. They are high in fiber and iron, and low in sodium and fat. They have no cholesterol but so much protein, they are called the meat of the poor. As a matter of fact, Italians credit the fava bean as a factor in saving Sicilians from starvation during a time of famine. Since then, the fava has been considered good luck. Now that luck – and magic – is being enjoyed at more American tables.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 pounds fresh fava beans or 1/2 pound frozen double-peeled (2 cups)
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 leeks, white and light green parts only, cleaned and sliced
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 medium or large carrots, peeled and diced
  • 2 celery ribs, diced
  • 2 medium turnips, peeled and diced
  • 1 small potato (about 4 ounces), peeled and diced
  • 2 quarts water, vegetable stock or chicken stock
  • Sea salt to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/3 cup chopped cilantro plus additional leaves for garnish

DIRECTIONS:

1. Skin the fresh favas: bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil. Fill a bowl with ice water. Drop the shelled fava beans into the boiling water and boil 5 minutes. Drain and transfer immediately to the cold water. Allow the beans to cool for several minutes, then slip off their skins by pinching off the eye of the skin and squeezing gently. Hold several beans in one hand and use your other thumb and forefinger to pinch off the eyes, have a bowl for the shelled favas close at hand and this will not take very long.

2. Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over medium heat in a large, heavy soup pot or Dutch oven and add the leeks, onion, carrots and celery. Cook, stirring, until vegetables are just tender, about 5 minutes, and add the turnips, potatoes, favas, water or stock, salt and bouquet garni. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 45 minutes, or until the vegetables are very tender. Remove and discard the bouquet garni.

3. Purée the soup using a hand blender or a food mill, or working in batches, in a blender, making sure that you place a towel over the top of the blender and remove the inner part of the lid to avoid hot splashes. Return to the pot, add the pepper, turmeric and chopped cilantro and bring to a simmer over medium-low heat. Turn the heat to low, cover and simmer, stirring often, for 30 minutes. Taste and adjust salt and pepper. Serve in wide soup bowls, garnished with cilantro leaves and with a drizzle of olive oil over each serving.

Yield: 8 servings.

Advance preparation: You can make the soup through Step 2 up to two days before serving. Refrigerate before puréeing. When you wish to serve, purée the soup, then reheat and proceed with the recipe.

Enjoy!

Childhood Obesity On The Rise

Childhood obesity rates in America

Healthy People is a nationwide government program, started in 1979, designed to promote health and disease prevention.  Given the alarming increase in obesity rates in America over the past 20 years, Healthy People 2010 had a goal to decrease the overall childhood obesity rate to 5%. Given that one in six children between the ages of 2 and 19 are technically obese (now year 2012), with the overall childhood obesity rate at 17% and climbing, looks like Healthy People 2010 seriously missed the mark!  Why?

Well, let’s start with another alarming statistic which may shed a little light on where children are learning about food choices! In 1980, 15% of the American popoulation was obese. According to the latest CDC statistics, we’ve hit an all-time high of almost 36% – over 1/3 of our entire population. Keep in mind that this data is specific to those who are obese, defined by a BMI equal to or great than 30 and doesn’t account for those who are nonetheless overweight, but by 30 pounds or less.

Map of Adult Obesity Rates in America 2010A clear trend is beginning to emerge.  Obese children often have obese parents.  According to the American Academy of Child & Adolscent Psychiatry, if one parent is obese, there is a 50% chance that their children will also be obese.  However, when both parents are obese, their children have an 80% chance of being obese.  According to a separate study, published in the International Journal of Obesity, 41% of eight-year-old daughters of obese mothers were obese, as compared to 4% of girls whose mothers were normal weight. Many will examine these statistics and point to newer science which indicates that there is in fact genetic predisposition to weight gain. In response to the study, Dr. Blandine Laferrere of the New York Obesity Research Center at St. Luke’s Hospital states that the environment has a primary effect on kids with a genetic susceptibility toward obesity.

“If you look at the last 20 years, you see that obesity has increased tremendously,” she says. “Yet there has been no change in the genetic pool in those 20 years. Intervention early on, in childhood, can prevent obesity.”

These are key factors in regard to the “nature versus nurture” arguement. Yes, there may be some genetic predisposition, but a focus on nutrition from the onset of life remains yet the number one way to deter obesity and related disease.

So what does all of this mean? How can we prevent childhood obesity from continuing to blossom out of control and to further, how can we decrease the prevalence all together? I have a couple of ideas. The Healthy People program attempted to decrease obesity rates by fundamentally promoting the idea of fewer calories and higher activity levels. While in a nutshell, this sounds logical and viable, the reality is that we cannot continue to vilify the ol’ might calorie!  Why?  The answer is 2-fold:

For starters, there are a number of nutritionally-dense, high-calorie whole foods that offer an amazing array of health benefits that simply cannot go ignored; nuts such as almonds and walnuts, healthy oils like olive oil and coconut oil and good fats like avacados. I fear that if we promote “low-caloric intake” that the focus will be on eating less of the bad stuff versus more of the good stuff.  Secondly, you can reduce your calories as much as you like but if the foods you’re eating are still filled with sugars, toxic additives, fillers, flavor enhancers, fake sweeteners, sugars, GMO’s, hydrogenated oils (trans fats), and sugars (did I mention “sugars”?) you will not achieve health. If you consume less, but still eat a diet consisting primarily of processed, quick-fuel food products, you will only continue to starve your body of necessary nutrients, further perputating obesity and obesity-related illnesses like diabetes, metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular disease, cancer, auto-immune diseases, etc.

Ultimately, this brings us back around to a discussion on sugar. I don’t think there is anything coincidental when we examine the positive correlation between the increase in obesity and the increase in sugar consumption over the past 20 years. Sugar, in one form or another, is found in just about every processed food item out there…sugar is even added to certain meats and meat products such as SPAM. The average Amercan child consumes a daily diet that is made up of at least 17% sugar, and this is in addition to all of the refined carbs (like cereals, white breads, crackers, pastas, etc.). Where are the green vegetables, colorful fruits and healthy fats?

Fresh green apples instead of junkIf you are a parent at all concerned with the staggeringly shocking rates of childhood obesity, I strongly suggest you take a hard look at what your family is eating.  Are your cupboards filled with soda, chips, crackers, cereal, white bread, processed foods like macaroni and cheese, granola bars, conventional peanut butter, etc.?  Do you eat out or do take out several times a week?  How often do you hit the fast food drive through? It’s time to clean house, prepare more meals at home and introduce your family to the anti-inflammatory diet.

Minimally, I suggest the following:

  1. Eliminate all soda, including diet and sugar-free.
  2. Replace all refined white flour products with 100% whole wheat and overall, attempt to consume grains in their whole form (brown rice versus white, quinoa, buckwheat, etc.)
  3. Crowd out the junk (chips, crackers, cookies, candy, etc.) with fresh vegetables and fruits
  4. Serve green at both lunch and dinner (green salad, green beans, avocado, spinach, etc.)
  5. Eat breakfast everyday and make sure you are consuming protein like Greek yogurt and a slow-releasing carb like steel cut oatmeal
  6. Drink 3 liters of water a day
  7. Make sure your dairy is organic and opt for cage-free, organic eggs
  8. Cut down on animal proteins and if within your budget, go for organic grass-finished beef and cage-free chicken
  9. Eat fatty fish 2-3 times a week and incorporate healthy oils into your meal planning, such as olive oil and coconut oil
  10. Supplement with a good Omega-3 and Multi-Vitamin
If you implement these suggestions for yourself and your family, not only will you lose weight, but more importantly, you will be on the fast-track to optimum health.  Nourish yourself and your family from the inside out with healthy whole foods, always!

http://www.cdc.gov/obesity/data/trends.html

http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/databriefs/db82.pdf