The Hero Pot | Lentil Vegetable Healing Soup

Split red lentils cook in just 10 minutes and are an awesome source of iron, protein, fiber, and disease fighting properties. And to me, they almost take like cheese! Ugh so GOOD!  I make a different version of this soup at least every week lately.  Broccoli and onions one day.  Zucchini and mushrooms another.  The ginger, turmeric though.  So divine.  Give this a try!

The Hero Pot

  • A large pot
  • 1 red onion
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 small chunk of ginger
  • 1 tbsp ground or fresh turmeric
  • 1 sweet potato
  • 1 cup red lentils
  • ~6 cups filtered water
  • ~1/2 cup broccoli
  • ~1/2 cup celery
  • ~1/2 cup mushrooms
  • ~1/2 cup peas
  • Lime and avocado to garnish
  1. Prep ingredients: chop vegetables, mince garlic + ginger
  2. Sautee onions and garlic in pot in 1/3 cup of water (keep a jug of water nearby to add as needed)
  3. Add turmeric, lentils, sweet potato, and 5 cups of water and bring to boil for about 10 minutes
  4. Turn down heat to simmer and add in rest of ingredients to simmer for about 15 minutes
  5. Take your superhero medicine 😛 enjoy

 

HEMP MILK RECIPE | Dietitian Approved

Ahh hemp seeds!  One of the most nutrient dense little foods out there.  With anti-inflammatory omegas, packed with protein and iron.  Look out world hemp milk is going to make a lean mean hulk outta you! 1 cup of this milk recipe has got about:

  • Calories: ~130
  • Protein: ~8 grams
  • Fat: ~9 grams (essential omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids!)
  • Iron: 15% DV* (*daily value based on a 2000 calorie diet)
  • Fiber: 8% DV*

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups cold water
  • 1/2 cup hemp seeds
  • 1 pitted moist date
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla

Steps:

  1. Blend for 1-2 minutes on high until smooth and creamy
  2. Keep in the fridge for about a week
  3. Hug someone randomly, because you can
  4. ❤ smile.

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Healthy Pasta TASTE TEST + 4 Reasons Why I STILL Avoid Gluten

 

Pasta. What a delectable vehicle for vegetables!  Add your favorite beans, steamed veggies, and tomato sauce and BOOM! An impressive gourmet dinner.  While intact grains are the gold standard (grains in their whole form), whole grains, yes including their bran, germ, and endosperm, are milled into a fine flour to make whole grain pastas, breakfast cereals, and other “whole grain” products.  A few examples of legit whole intact grains would be steel cut oats, brown rice, quinoa, and millet.

wholegrains

How to tell if the product is WHOLE GRAIN?

  1. Whole grain stamp is on the package
  2. “100%” or “Whole” are used to describe it
  3. The first ingredient listed is a whole grain

refinedgrains

Refined grains are not only grains milled into a flour, but their grain was stripped of the nutrient and fiber containing bran and germ! Murder! Refined grains are white / light in color and examples include white bread, cookies, cakes, pretzels, white rice, regular pasta, and anything made with white flour. Darn!

Don’t fret too much! The recommendation is:

Make at least 1/2 of your grains whole grains.

Grains are an important part of a healthy balanced diet for fiber, iron,powerplategraphichirez magnesium, selenium, b vitamins, and lasting energy! Be sure to include them on your plate.

The Taste Test

Well before #1, my personal favorite is ZUCCHINILINI OF COURSE! Which is simply zucchini or summer squash, spirilized to look and feel like spaghetti. I like to mix it with pasta dishes to add bulk, flavor, color, and more veg of course!

#1 Nature’s Promise Whole Wheat Spaghetti: #1 in taste, texture, and nutritional profile. Contains gluten.

#2. Bionaturae Gluten Free Corn and Soy Spaghetti: Fabulous texture and taste and with 5g protein and 6% iron, this product is ok. Low in fiber :-/

#3. Jovial Gluten Free Brown Rice Spaghetti: Quite sticky texture, but great flavor and elasticity.  Would go great with a sauce. However, low in fiber although whole grain. Brown rice is naturally low in fiber.

 

#4. Ancient Harvest Gluten Free Corn and Quinoa Spaghetti: Texture dry and kinda crunchy, but a good source of fiber at 16% daily value and 10% iron!

#5. Andean Dream Quinoa Gluten Free Spaghetti: Texture was definitely a little sandy.  But I must say with 6% calcium, 12% iron, and just barely a good source of fiber at 10% daily value, not bad.

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The Consensus:

The quinoa based gluten free products have a better nutritional profile, but are not as delicious as the lower fiber rice based ones.

Why I personally still avoid Gluten?

Do I go out of my way to avoid gluten?

No.  I still enjoy it in moderation. My mom makes homemade bread and pizza with gluten which I eat occasionally.  My diet is whole foods based, so I rarely purchase packaged products that might contain gluten.

Do I eat gluten every day?

No.  Maybe I eat a gluten containing meal or snack 3-4 times a week.  I am generally healthy and do not currently feel any reason to put more effort into seriously avoiding wheat, barley, rye, and foods containing gluten 100% of the time.

Why I make this personal choice:

  1. My sister has ulcerative colitis, which is similar to celiacs in that they are both autoimmune inflammatory intestinal disorders. With a genetic risk factor in my family, I try to not over load the gluten as a personal preventative measure.
  2. Studies linking gluten and autism spectrum disorders autism-and-nutrition-1. The GFCF (gluten free casein free) diet has been shown to help people with ADHD and autism, what else could it be linked to? I am ever curious and after reading such articles have trouble stomaching gluten (and of course would never recommend drinking milk).
  3. Naturopaths recommend avoiding gluten initially when trying to avoid inflammation with an “elimination diet,” along with dairy and other common inflammatory trigger foods. With this in mind, many people have success reversing adverse symptoms like rashes, IBS, fatigue, etc (SO MANY), once they remove gluten from their diet.  I grew up with canker sores, weird rashes, and eczema so, avoiding inflammation (and gluten) is in my best interest.
  4. Close friends with celiac disease so it is easier for everybody to find a gluten free delicious option!

While as you could see from the video, a gluten free diet is not recommended for the general public because it tends to have less nutrients. Be a savvy shopper and let me know if you have any questions! Enjoy those intact whole grains and plant yums! xx

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Vegan Brunch: True Bistro with STEPH’S PLATE + Why Try A Vegan Restaurant?

First of all, I am so honored to have met Steph from Steph’s Plate! She is such a doll you must watch her videos and get inspired on IG.  Secondly, True Bistro is one of the most classy vegan restaurants I have ever been to.  It is definitely swanky enough for impressing a date, yet not intimidatingly so.  Their lunch menu offers brunch options of waffles, crepes, tofu scrambles, as well as classic sandwiches with burgers, salads, and they feature incredible sweets like local FoMu ice cream and fresh cinnamon buns.

 

Steph ordered the crepes with FoMu lavender ice cream and blueberry compote, I went for the more savory mushroom and red pepper tofu scramble with fresh home fries, salad, and a side of their smokey mac and cheese.  Steph’s crepes were incredible.  They didn’t, you know, “taste vegan” at all!  It was so good, like an incredible dessert to me!  My scramble had such a refined savory flavor profile, I was really impressed.  It didn’t taste like eggs necessarily but the combo of herbs and veggies were brilliant- so delicious.  The mac and cheese I actually got to take home for my sister (the cheese lover). It had a LOT of smokey flavor, almost sausage-y.  Anyone who enjoys those smokey tones would adore it.  Can’t wait to try the waffles and I must go for dinner!

 

4 Reasons: Try A Vegan Restaurant:

1. Plant Foods In Your Diet

A whole foods plant based diet has been shown to be the most effective at preventing and reversing disease. According to the USDA’s Scientific Report of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines:

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2. Environmental Impact

It is without a doubt that eating more plant based meals is more sustainable for the long term and environmentally friendly. As described in the USDA’s Scientific Report, and watch Dr. Michael Gregor’s Video:

3. Prevent Heart Disease and Cancer

Saturated fat and cholesterol are well known for their association with causing the leading causes of death: heart disease and cancer.  Fortunately, plant based diets high in whole foods with fiber containing grain products, fruits, and vegetables, can significantly reduce the risk of cancer and heart disease.

4. Get Inspired

Once you find out how delicious plant foods can really be, you are much more likely to want to get in the kitchen and start cooking!  Keep trying more restaurants and dishes, and before you know it, every meal will be whole foods, plant based, and simply divine.

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3 Easiest Favorite Healthy Lunches | Gluten Free, Vegan, Affordable

School, work, packing for kids, or just want easy healthy lunch ideas; I’ve got you covered!  Three of my favorite and most simple lunch combos. Watch this video to get the tips, snacks, and full recipes.

I base my lunches off the Physician Committee’s “Power Plate“: everymealpowerplate

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Here are the three main bowls:

1. Mexican Bowl

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Ingredients:

  • 2 cups Chopped Romaine Lettuce
  • 1/2 cup Brown Rice
  • 1/2 cup Black Beans (I like Eden’s Brand)
  • 1/2 cup Organic Corn
  • 2 Tbsp Diced Red Onion
  • 2 Tbsp Low Sodium Natural Salsa
  • 1/4 Avocado
  • 1/4 Lime, Squeezed

2. Harvest Bowl

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Ingredients:

  • 2 cups Spinach
  • 1 cup Quinoa
  • 1/2 Diced Organic Apple
  • 3-4 Tbsp Raisins
  • 2 Tbsp Chopped Red Onion
  • 1-2 Tbsp Chopped Walnuts
  • 1 tsp Maple Balsamic Dressing
  • 1/4 Lime, Squeezed

3. Italian Bowl

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Ingredients:

  • 1 cup Kale
  • 1/2 Summer Squash Spiralized
  • 3 Chopped Baby Bella Mushrooms
  • 4 Cherry Tomatoes
  • 2 Tbsp Chopped Red Onion
  • 1/2 Cup Cannellini Beans
  • 1/2 Cup Engine 2 Brand Low Sodium No Oil Tomato Sauce
  • 2 Tbsp Sunflower Seeds
  • 1/4 tsp Kelp Shaker
  • 1/2 tsp Kale Chip Shaker
  • 1 tsp Nutritional Yeast
  • 1/4 Lime, Squeezed

These can be modified with whatever whole grains, veggies, beans/legumes you’ve got on hand. Make them the way you like, and enjoy!

 

Rainbow Ginger Citrus Zoodles | Raw, Vegan, Simple, Delicious.

The research I am doing for my graduate program is on plant foods and cancer- I am on cloud 8374378457 with all the EUREKA WHATT research that is out there!! Sulforaphane in broccoli, sweet potato protein, flavanols in cacao, cranberries, blueberries, tomatoes, the plant kingdom cures cancer!! Amazing! The best is to get organic and picked ripe because plants produce natural components called salvestrols to protect themselves from harm similarly to how the plant foods protect us.  It. Is. Unbelievable. Potent cancer killers without harming the body, truly healing it. Mind, body, spirit, immunity, vitality, sustainability ❤ Eat the rainbow, reap the success, love, beauty, and happiness *starstruck*

Rainbow Citrus Zoodles

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The Noodles:

  • 4 small zucchini, spiralized
  • 2-3 medium carrots, spiralized
  • 1 small red bell pepper, sliced thin
  • 2 purple cabbage leaves, sliced thin

The Sauce:

  • 1/2 cup fresh orange juice
  • 2 Tbsp fresh lemon or lime juice
  • 1/3 cup raw cashews
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 cup fresh scallion
  • a quarter sized chunk of ginger
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. tahini
  1. Combine noodles in a large bowl
  2. Blend sauce ingredients in a high speed blender until smooth
  3. Drizzle over noodles, mix and devour with some people you love!

Spaghetti Squash Stir Fry with Creamy Peanut Sauce | Oil Free, Gluten Free, Vegan

I love not following recipes, don’t you? This is just a crazy good experiment of mine inspired by Healthy is a Verb and Ambitious Kitchen.  Came out pretty bomb.  I have no idea what the exact measurements are, I was just throwing stuff together.  Feel it out, and make it with whatever veggies you like. With V day coming up, this is the perfect one to share with your hubby.  Or, save the rest for later gator! Have fun!

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The Stir Fry

  • 1/3 cup water, (keep a glass of water close by, this is used to prevent sticking to pan without added oil)
  • 1/3 small onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 garlic clove, grated finely using cheese grater or minced
  • 1 small chunk of fresh ginger, also grated finely
  • 1/3 head of broccoli with stem, chopped
  • 2-3 red cabbage leaves, chiffonade
  • 1/3 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1/3 cup of mushrooms, rough chop
  • 2 leaves bok choy, thinly sliced, stem and all!
  • 1/2 roasted spaghetti squash, scraped
  • 1/2 orange
  • 1/2 lime
  • 1/4 cup almonds, chopped (I totally forgot about these until after I took pic and ate some of it, makes a great crunch!)
  1. If you haven’t roasted your squash yet, prehead oven to 400*F. Cut it in half the long way and place it open side down on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake for ~45 minutes or until soft
  2. In a large frying pan over medium to high heat, heat the water, onion, garlic, and ginger, about 3-5 minutes, mixing often
  3. Throw in the broccoli, cabbage, bell pepper, and mushrooms, let it get happy for another 2 minutes
  4. Next comes the bok choy and mix another minute, feel free to add water if needed
  5. Scrape out half of the spaghetti squash (keeping seeds- yum love squash seeds!) and mix that in
  6. Mix in ~1/2 cup of peanut pinto sauce and mix until well combined
  7. Peel orange and cut it into slices perpendicular to the way the sections go to make nice little orange pieces like in the picture. Makes for a delish orange, peanut, gingery kind of asian vibe
  8. Mix in orange chunks, and top with lime to squeeze and crushed / chopped nuts. YUM!

Peanut Pinto Sauce

  • ~1/2 cup dry pinto beans, soaked for 6 hours and boiled for ~30 minutes, [or feel free to use canned no salt added pinto beans, drained and rinsed (I like Eden’s brand the best, if using Eden’s, drain, but no need to rinse)] 
  • ~1/4 cup of peanut butter (the kind with one ingredient only: Peanuts. if there are “hydrogenated oils” on the ingredients label, toss it)
  • ~2 Tbsp maple syrup
  • ~1 cup boiling water (from cooking beans)
  • juice of ~1/2 lime*

Blend all ingredients in a high speed blender until smooth.  Not sure about the measurements but I think it would be hard to make this combo taste bad. Hope you’re hungry!

*I put lime or lemon juice on everything, for flavor, for peak iron absorption, and it makes me feel amazing!

Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Balls | Vegan, Gluten Free, Uncooked, Naughty

Remember tollhouse chocolate chip cookies??? That feeling like dag, I just want to eat the raw douughh omgg.. Just wait till you try this cookie dough replica with peanut butter. Yup. It’s crack. You’ve been warned.  These babes. Peanut. Butter. Cookie. Dough. Musical eating is allowed (moaning). BEWARE: may trigger binge eating.

Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Balls

Adapted from the incredible Ambitious Kitchen’s Chickpea Blondies

Makes ~24 balls

  • 1 1/2 cups boiled chickpeas (or canned, rinsed and drained)
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter- the kind that only has 1 ingredient: peanuts
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup (try using 1/3 cup of moist pitted dates instead!)
  • 1 1/4 tsp maca powder (or vanilla extract, I don’t have vanilla and maca is like vanilla cupcakes)
  • squeeze some juice from 1/4 of a lime
  • 1 tsp grated fresh ginger (ground powder would probably work too)
  • 1/3 cup chopped walnuts (or vegan dark chocolate chips)
  • Cacao powder for dusting
  1. Put all ingredients except chopped nuts(or chocolate chips) in a food processor (S blade) or in a high speed blender like a Vitamix. Blend until smooth like cookie dough.
  2. Fold in chopped nuts with a spoon
  3. Using a tablespoon, form 24 balls and roll with your hands, set aside.
  4. Put about 1/4 cup of cacao powder in a small bowl and roll ~3-4 balls at a time in the cacao powder
  5. Store in an airtight container in the fridge and, normally I would say share with loved ones but this one you’re going to want to hide in the back and keep them all to yourself. *see no evil* Savor in good health!

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1 Cookie Dough Ball According to non-italics ingredients out of 24 has:
Calories 73
Carbohydrate 7 g
Protein 3 g
Total fat 4 g
Monounsaturated Fat 2 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 2 g
Saturated Fat 1 g
Fiber 2 g
Cholesterol 0 g

http://www.supertracker.usda.gov

Barbecue Black Bean Burger. Easy. Cheap. Vegan. Irresistible.

I know, eating heart healthy is hard. You just. You love meat way too much, you can’t give it up.  I know the feeling.  Like a meatless meal is a deprived, sad, flavorless, unsatisfying sounding situation, right?  Well- these burgers and fries.. you’ll never look back.  Welcome to the earth shattering world of f*ing BOMB healthy food!!

bbqburger

BBQ Black Bean Burgers

Adapted from the incredible Minimalist Baker. Easy Grillable Veggie Burgers.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup cooked brown rice
  • 1 cup raw walnuts
  • 1/2 Tbsp unrefined coconut oil or olive oil
  • 1/2 white onion, finely diced
  • 1/3 cup mushrooms, roughly chopped
  • 1-2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 Tbsp each: chili powder, cumin, and paprika
  • 1/2 tsp each: salt and black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked black beans, well rinsed, and drained
  • 1/3 cup ground rolled oats (throw some oatmeal in the blender)
  • 3-4 Tbsp vegan BBQ sauce (reach for one without high fructose corn syrup that has <140 mg sodium per serving)

Steps:

  1. Preheat oven to 350*F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. (These also work well cooked on skillet or grill)
  2. If your brown rice isn’t cooked yet, I have learned in my nutrition classes that vitamins are lost when cooked in excess water or when water is drained off.  Thiamin, (aka vitamin B1) is lost as temperature or pH rises but it is more heat stable in acid, so it would be a good idea to cook rice with some lemon or lime juice, adding acidity to help retain nutrient content. Cook in amount of water that will be absorbed during cooking : 1 cup rice, use 2 cups of water.
  3. Heat a skillet over medium with 1/2 Tbsp oil, onion, garlic, and mushrooms. Saute for 3-4 minutes, until onions are translucent. Remove from heat and set aside.
  4. To a high speed blender or food processor, add walnuts, chili powder,  cumin, paprika, salt, pepper, and blend until smooth, but not butter.
  5. To a large mixing bowl, add drained black beans and mash well with a fork (nice work out, takes about 3-5 minutes, if you don’t feel the burn, you ain’t doing it right! Gotta love it.) Leave some whole beans for good texture though.
  6. Add cooked rice, spice-walnut mixture, sauteed onion mushroom garlic mix, maple syrup, ground oats, BBQ sauce, and mix thoroughally with a wooden spoon until moldable dough forms.  If too dry, add a tad more BBQ sauce, if too moist, add more ground oats.  Taste and adjust seasoning as you’d like.
  7. For larger burgers, divide into 5 patties (~1/2 cup in size) or form 10 smaller burgers (~1/4 cup in size). To help form the patties, line your 1/2 or 1/4 measuing cup with plastic wrap and pack with burger mix. Press down to pack firmly, then lift out by the plastic wrap’s edge, and use hands to flatten slightly on the parchment paper, forming a 3/4 inch thick patty.
  8. Bake for about 15-20 minutes on each side for a total of 30-40 minutes cooking time.
  9. Serve over a toasted bun with kale, super thinly sliced cucumber and red onion,  avocado, and another drizzle of BBQ sauce. The cooling cucumber and avocado complement the heat from the BBQ sauce deliciously.
Based on one out of five burgers made:
Calories 337
Protein 10 grams (1 egg has ~6 grams)
Carbohydrate 37 grams (2.5 diabetic exchanges)
Total Fat 18 grams of healthy plant based fat!
Fiber 6 grams
Cholesterol 0 grams

^estimation based on USDA’s http://www.supertracker.com

For a side of fries, I have been loving my Deliciously Ella cookbook and recommend trying her Perfect Potato Wedges or Cinnamon and Paprika Sweet Potato Wedges

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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