Nut, Ginger, and Chocolate Radiance Bars

Your search for a healthy crowd-pleasing holiday treat ends here. These are perfectly sweet and satisfying with a warming hint of ginger, and an irresistible combination of crunch and chocolatey creaminess.  Please watch the recipe video from http://www.greenkitchenstories.com for the original recipe.  It is my favorite recipe video of all time, beautiful videography ❤ and the recipe is truly delicious.

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Makes about 24 bars

  • 10 coconut date rolls
  • 2 tablespoons unrefined coconut oil
  • 1 cup raw almond butter
  • 1 tablespoon fresh grated ginger
  • 1 cup puffed millet
  • 1 handful walnuts, chopped
  • ½ cup raw pumpkin seeds
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 3.5oz 60% dark chocolate
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
  1. Watch video
  2. Combine date rolls together by smushing them with a fork on a plate and add to a medium saucepan over low heat with coconut oil, almond butter, and grated ginger. Mix well to combine
  3. Add in millet, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, and salt and mix well
  4. Line a 13” x 9” pan with parchment paper and press mixture evenly into pan
  5. Melt chocolate and spread over the top. Sprinkle with coconut flakes.
  6. Cover and freeze for about an hour. Cut into 24 bars. Store in the freezer or refrigerator.

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1 Bar (based on 24 bar yield):
Calories 140
Protein 3g
Carbohydrate 8g
Total Fat 12g
Fiber 2g
Cholesterol 0mg

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Why these bars make you radiant?

  • Sweetened with fruit with vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants; preventing blood sugar spike and crash which ultimately prevents depression, fatigue, and cravings for more sugar
  • Coconut oil, although the gold standard saturated fat source, should be regarded like any other oil: a concentrated food that provides a lot of calories with limited nutrients. It’s okay to use some unrefined high-quality coconut oil when preparing special-occasion treats, but as with other oils, its use should be minimized. *read more about coconut + coconut oil in article below!
  • Almonds are high in the antioxidant vitamin E, which protects cell membranes from damage; preventing disease, inflammation, muscle soreness, and keeping skin glowing preventing wrinkles
  • Ginger is well known for its powers of healing indigestion and migraine headaches. Ginger also has potent anti-inflammatory properties
  • Millet is a whole grain, a complex carbohydrate helping to maintain stable energy levels throughout the day. It also has protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals
  • Walnuts contain the essential omega-3 fatty acids, which convert to the most abundant fatty acid in our brains, DHA. Omega-3s in the diet improve focus and cognitive function, and they have also been shown to decrease inflammation leading to heart disease.
  • Raw pumpkin seeds are a fabulous source of minerals like zinc, which is important for immune system function as well as formation of proteins and DNA. Pumpkin seeds also have vitamins like the antioxidant vitamin E mentioned previously.
  • Dark chocolate contains flavonoids, which are part of a group of antioxidants known as polyphenols. These flavonoids may decrease oxidation (damage) from LDL cholesterol and lower blood pressure. Also, chocolate contains many minerals like calcium, magnesium, iron, and potassium

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*Coconut Oil Info:

“Few foods have been at once as maligned and acclaimed as coconut oil. Because it’s the most concentrated source of saturated fat in the food supply—even higher than lard or butter—some view it as a notorious health villain. Not surprisingly, it rests atop the “avoid” column of mainstream healthy-heart-food lists.

Others view coconut oil as a fountain of youth and the greatest health discovery in decades. These advocates claim that coconut oil can provide therapeutic benefits for Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, cancer, diabetes, digestive disturbances, heart disease, high blood pressure, HIV, kidney disease, osteoporosis, overweight, Parkinson’s disease, and many other serious conditions. So what’s the truth?

Based on the available science, coconut oil is neither a menace nor a miracle food. Coconut oil should be regarded like any other oil: a concentrated food that provides a lot of calories with limited nutrients. It’s okay to use some high-quality coconut oil when preparing special-occasion treats, but as with other oils, its use should be minimized. On the other hand, whole coconut should be treated in much the same way as other high-fat plant foods—enjoyed primarily as a whole food. As such, it’s loaded with fiber, vitamin E, and healthful phytochemicals, and has powerful antimicrobial properties.

The relative health effects of coconut oil consumption remain somewhat uncertain. Some people believe that eating coconut oil does no harm because it’s cholesterol-free; others claim it’s harmful because it lacks essential fatty acids. But we can’t ignore the fact that in many parts of the world where coconut and coconut oil are the principal sources of dietary fat, the rates of chronic disease, including CAD, are low. There is one major caveat: the benefits seem to apply only when coconut products are consumed as part of a diet rich in high-fiber plant foods and lacking processed foods.

The people of the Marshall Islands provide a poignant example. The traditional Marshallese diet employed a wide variety of coconut products, which furnished an estimated 50 to 60 percent of total calories. Seventy years ago, when this diet was standard fare, diabetes was pretty much unheard of. When their indigenous diet gave way to a Western-style diet of processed foods and fatty animal products, diabetes rates escalated even though coconut products continued to be featured prominently in the diet.

Coconut oil is so often blacklisted by health-care providers mainly because approximately 87 percent of its fat is saturated. Many people imagine saturated fat as a single tyrant that clogs arteries, but different types of saturated fats exist. They contain fatty acid chains whose lengths contain from 4 to 30 carbon atoms. Depending on the length of the carbon chain, these fatty acids have very different effects on blood cholesterol levels and on health.

The most common saturated fatty acids are lauric acid, myristic acid, palmitic acid, and stearic acid. Their carbon-chain length and main food sources are:

  • lauric acid (12 carbon atoms): coconut, coconut oil, palm kernel oil
  • myristic acid (14 carbon atoms): dairy products, coconut, palm oil, palm kernel oil, nutmeg oil
  • palmitic acid (16 carbon atoms): palm oil, animal fats
  • stearic acid (18 carbon atoms): cocoa butter, mutton fat, beef fat, lard, butter

Saturated fatty acids with 12 to 16 carbon atoms increase LDL cholesterol levels, while 18-carbon stearic acid doesn’t. However, stearic acid isn’t completely off the hook; some evidence shows high intakes could adversely affect other CVD risk factors, such as lipoprotein(a) and certain clotting factors.

As it happens, approximately three-quarters of the fat in coconut oil comprises saturated fatty acids known to raise blood cholesterol levels: 15 percent is saturated fatty acids with small carbon chains (6 to 10 carbon atoms), 47 percent is lauric acid, 18 percent is myristic acid, 9 percent is palmitic acid, and 3 percent is stearic acid. Case closed?

Well, not exactly. The predominant fatty acid, lauric acid, does raise total cholesterol, but it appears to raise HDL cholesterol to an even greater extent than LDL cholesterol, favorably altering the ratio of HDL to total cholesterol. In addition, lauric acid is converted in the body into monolaurin, a powerful antiviral, antifungal, and antiseptic compound—and coconut oil is among the richest food sources of lauric acid. There’s also evidence that coconut products have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activity. However, the compounds responsible (which include a variety of phytochemicals, such as phenolic acids) are largely eliminated when coconut oil is refined.”

– See more at: http://plantbaseddietitian.com/coconut-oil-menace-or-miracle/#sthash.ld9rrM3w.dpuf

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How to Sprout and Cook Beans: Cheap Protein Packed Magic Foods

Cooked or Sprouted Beans?

Which is healthier?  Nobody says it better than Dr. Michael Gregor of http://www.nutritionfacts.org.  Watch his video on the topic here. The main takeaway: America should definitely eat more beans, no matter sprouted or boiled. One protein and fiber packed disease fighting food that is literally $0.45 per pound?! Is this real life!? Buying dry beans in bulk not only stretches your dollar ridiculously (sprouting is seriously a garden on steroids), but beans are an important element in our diets. If you do buy canned, be sure that it is low sodium. I recommend purchasing the Eden’s brand.

The Nutrients

According to USDA’s supertracker  1/2 cup of pinto beans cooked from dry contains 6 grams of protein (as much protein as an egg) , 4 grams of fiber (recommendation is about 25 grams / day), and about 20% the daily recommendation for folate. What supertracker doesn’t mention is that many studies have shown that phytates in beans are incredible magic cancer fighters. The fiber and antioxidants in beans also help promote healthy gut bacteria, weight goals, decrease inflammation, the list goes on. Enjoy!

Recipes

All of these recipes with beans from Forks Over Knives , the Post Punk Kitchen and Pinterest look awesome! My personal favorite recipes with beans are Black Bean Brownies and my mom’s EPIC Chili! Although these recipes call for canned, I use boiled and it works just as well.  Hummus with chickpeas, lentils, kidney beans, ohh baby there are SO many kinds of beans!!! I CHALLENGE you to try them ALL!

Step 1. SOAK

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1/4 container with dried beans
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Fill the container with water and let sit for about 6 hours or overnight

Step 2. RINSE

 

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Dump out water and they are ready to boil!

Step 3. BOIL OR EAT RAW

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Rinse 1-3 times a day for 1-3 days to sprout. Keep on countertop or in a warm and dry place. To cook, just boil for about 30 minutes, feel free to add a garlic clove, bay leaf, or other spices. Low sodium vegetable broth is good too.
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To stop the tails from growing, put them in the fridge. 🙂 Yum!
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Eat your medicine ❤

Light? Low? Free? What Does the Packaging Really Tell Us?

There is a lot of lingo thrown at us in the grocery store.  From oatmeal magically lowering cholesterol to fat-free peanut butter? Can this be?! These explanations will help you to discover what the labels mean so you can choose the best option. >> I highly recommend going to http://www.fooducate.com/ or downloading the app- you can look up products and see how healthy they are, quick and easy!

don't be fooled

Descriptions of Nutrient Claims

  • Free – no amount of or a trivial amount of calories, fat, saturated fat, cholesterol or sodium; calorie-free is defined as less than 5 calories per serving
  • Good source – is defined as 10-19% of daily value of a certain nutrient per serving
  • High – is defined as more than 20% of daily value of a certain nutrient per serving
  • Less – is defined as containing 25% less of a certain nutrient than a standard food
  • Light – is defined as containing 1/3 less calories or 1/2 fat of a standard food (is this a good thing!? beware of crazy ingredients on the label that you don’t recognize, it is likely a fake sweetener that is illegal in other countries and linked to cancer!)
  • Low – is defined in certain nutrient terms
  • low fat – 3 grams or less per serving
  • low saturated fat – 1 gram or less per serving
  • low sodium – 140 mg or less per serving
  • low calorie – 40 calories or less per serving
  • more – is defined as containing 10% of nutrient daily value when compared to a standard food

Beware of TRANS FAT

Aka hydrogenated oils or mono or diglycerides on the ingredients label. Food labels are allowed to say that they have 0g trans fat per serving if there is less than 0.5g trans fat per serving. However, it is likely that the serving size is ridiculously small (like on non-stick cooking spray). If you see hydrogenated oil or mono or di glycerides I would not recommend purchasing the product.

hydrogenated oils
Find a brand with zero hydrogenated oils!

Organic Or Natural?

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  • Natural: a product that has no artificial ingredient or added color and is minimally processed. Although consumers purchasing “natural” meat, poultry, and eggs can be happy that there are no artificial ingredients or colors added, it’s important to remember “natural” does not mean hormone-free or antibiotic-free; these are separate labels, also regulated by the USDA.
  • Organic: certified organic and contain at least 95% organic content. Organic food is produced using approved organic farming methods “that foster cycling of resources, promote ecological balance, and conserve biodiversity. Specifically, “synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, irradiation, and genetic engineering may not be used” to produce organic food, meaning that organic food products are not genetically modified and have not been treated with synthetic pesticides or fertilizers

PLU Codes:

gmo 8

You know, those numbers that every food in the produce department has? They mean something!

  • 4 digit codes: conventionally grown
  • 5 digit code that starts with a ‘9’ : organically grown
  • 5 digit code that starts with a ‘8’ : Genetically Modified Organism *avoid* unfortunately, I have never seen this used.  GMOs are secretive and discretely used in packaged items as corn and soy oil.  Good luck to us Americans! Hope GMOs are clearly labeled soon!

Food Label Health Claims – those foods making health claims must follow the following criteria:

  1. must be a naturally good source of at least one of the following nutrients – vitamin A, vitamin C, iron, calcium, protein, or fiber
  2. foods containing more than 20% daily value of total fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, or sodium cannot carry health claims

oatmeal-helps-reduce-cholesterol

  • Calcium and osteoporosis
  • Fat and cancer
  • Fiber containing products such as vegetables, fruits, grains and cancer
  • Fiber containing products and heart disease
  • Fruits and vegetables and cancer
  • Folic acid and neural tube defects
  • Saturated fat and cholesterol and heart disease
  • Sodium and hypertension
  • Whole grains and heart disease & cancer
  • Sugar alcohols and tooth decay
  • Soluble fiber and heart disease
  • Soy protein and heart disease
  • Plant sterol and heart disease
  • Potassium and hypertension & stroke