Dragons, Dandelions, Dry Wine & Dark Chocolate

DThis sounds like the beginning of a great adventure. Day four in the A to Z Blogging Challenge brings us the letter D. At first all I could find were Dandelion Greens. (Yes, I’m making a face) If you like them, well… that’s good and you should keep eating those bitter green stems. I hear they’re good with eggs. (My mother taught me not to gag.) I would rather spend time talking about dragons, dry wine and dark chocolate.

I had seen dragon fruit in the store but it looks so exotic I had no idea what to do with it, so I waked right past. With the challenge I wanted to take pictures of it and  I went to on-line videos on-line.  What did I find? It is one incredible fruit that is easier to use than it looks. It also has a very mild flavor (between a kiwi and melon).

Before we get the knife and dig in, lets look at everything this gorgeous fruit can do for you.

 

  • Dragon fruit is rich in vitamin C and fibers that help provide an overall healthy body. Dragon fruit boosts immune system and promotes healing of wounds and cuts.
  •  Because of the richness in fibers, Dragon fruit aids in the digestion of food. We have learned how important this is to a healthy body and weight loss. Studies also suggest that Dragon fruit promotes the growth of pro-biotics.
  • Dragon fruit can help lower blood glucose levels in type 2 diabetes. Studies also suggest that the the glucose found in Dragon fruit aids in controlling the blood sugar level for diabetes patients.
  • Dragon fruit prevent formation of cancer causing free radicals.
  • Dragon fruit helps to control cholesterol level. Dragon fruit is also rich in flavonoids that are known to have favorable effects against cardio related disease.
  • Dragon fruit improves eye sight.
  • Dragon fruit improves memory.

Wow! So why have I waited do long to try it?Dragon fruit how to use it

With the mighty dragon flying into my kitchen you would think I’d be done with the Dd, but there is more! I am loving my smoothies, but enjoying a meal is still important. Remember I’m in this for the long haul so I need to be able to sustain this dry wine & dark chocoletenew lifestyle.

This evening when I got home the sun was just starting to set and the breeze was cool, so we grabbed a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon along with some dark chocolate, strawberries and raspberries. Now set back and relax. Yes, wine (the dry kind has the most health benefits.) It does have to be a dry. Here’s a list:

Dry Reds
Pinot noir: 0.68g carbs per ounce
Cabernet franc: 0.71g
Merlot: 0.74g
Cabernet sauvignon: 0.75g
Shiraz/syrah: 0.76g
Zinfandel: 0.84g

Dry Whites
Pinot blanc: 0.57g carbs per ounce
Sauvignon blanc: 0.6g
Pinot grigio: 0.6g

In the Mediterranean diet, wine has also long been considered one of the key health-promoting components.Some population-based studies point to a relationship between wine intake and improvements in insulin sensitivity. When your body is more efficient at using carbs, you will have better health and easier fat loss.

It’s not about red or white, it has more to do with dry or sweet. Dry wines have a lower sugar count. Sorry to say for many of the fruity wine lovers that dry wines generally have less than 1 gram (g) of carbohydrates (sugars) per ounce while the carb content of sweet wines can be upwards of 1.5 to 2g per ounce. Yes, it seems the dry wine is the good guy.

Healthy living in not about starvation and denial – it’s about finding balance and moderation. Pour a glass of your favorite wine, and munch on some berries with the dark chocolate. The mix of flavors on your taste buds is divine.

So when it comes to Dds what did I miss? Any favorite treats or places that just make life better?

 

 

Layered smoothie. Top: coconut, cucumbers, green grapes, avocado, fresh lemon juice and unsweetened almond milk, Bottom: Frozen strawberries, blueberries, half of a shredded beet, triple zero yogurt, chia and unsweetened almond/coconut milk

Coconut, Carrots and Chia

C for the A to Z Blogging Challenge.
C for the A to Z Blogging Challenge.

Good Monday morning to you! It is April 4 and the third day of the A to Z Blogging Challenge and we have the letter C. Today I’m exploring some classics and some new-to-me foods.

 

Coconut comes in the dry form or the fresh brown shell. I’ve never been able to eat the crispy white flakes that come in a bag. If you want to stop me from eating a cookie or cake, sprinkle some of that…stuff on it and (shudder) I won’t touch it. Now the fresh coconut is a whole other story. Don’t let the hard shell stop you from buying one of these babies at the store. They are easy to open and use.

After draining the water, place the coconut in the oven at 350 for about 12 minutes. Then wrap it in a bag smash it with a hammer or throw it hard against a concrete floor. The harder the better.
After draining the water, place the coconut in the oven at 350 for about 12 minutes. Then wrap it in a bag smash it with a hammer or throw it hard against a concrete floor. The harder the better.

Using a Philips screw-driver with a hammer or a wine bottle opener make holes in the three “eyes” of the coconut. Use a cup or bowl and drain out all the water. Some have mistakenly called this liquid coconut milk – but that is a different product that is make with the coconut flesh. Once all the water is out place the coconut in the per-heated oven (350) for 10 to 12 minutes. This helps pop the flesh right off the shell after you smash it. Smashing it can be fun. Either hit it with a hammer a bunch of times or throw it down hard against a concrete floor. It should break easily into several pieces. It will be good for about a week in your refrigerator.

The water doesn’t have the same nutritional value as the fruit, but it is a great way to add flavor to anything from a smoothie to rice. The Coconut itself contains a healthy portion of potassium that may help reduce stroke risk according to some research. It is high in fat and amino acids, which is good for muscle formation. If you’re losing weight you want to take care not to lose muscle. When you add it to your smoothie or sprinkle it over a salad the small amount of fat makes the nutrients of the other fruits and veggies more bio-available.

Carrots are a “mom” veggie. One of the vegetables she told you to eat along with broccoli and spinach. Well, once again she was right. They are nutritional rock stars and now you can find them in reds, purples and yellow along with the tried and true orange.

Carrots roasted with zucchini in a little Olive oil and garlic and herb mix from Mrs. Dash
Carrots roasted with zucchini in a little Olive oil and garlic and herb mix from Mrs. Dash

Even though they taste sweet, carrots are low in sugar and have almost no fat. So they get a high score when you need something to chew on but don’t want a great deal of calories.

Slice them up and they can sweeten your smoothie.

Coconut/Carrot Smoothie: Perfect for a warm summer day.

  • One carrotcarrots cocount orange beets banana
  • Fresh coconut
  • orange beet (if you can’t stand the beet add pineapple or mango.  If your goal is to bring down blood sugar level be careful of the pineapple)
  • One medium banana
  • One tb of organic Chia
  • Cup of unsweetened Almond/coconut milk
  • 2 Tb of Oikos Triple Zero Greek yogurt (Vanilla)
  • 1/2 of a fresh squeezed lemon.
  • I toss it in my Ninja for 35 seconds and I might even put it in the freezer for 30 min to get a really ice cold treat.

 

Something that is very new to me is chia seed. I had heard of chia tea, but didn’t really know what it was other than a new trending “health” kick. I have learned that despite their tiny size, this gift from mother nature packs an incredible amount of good-for-you nutrition. With just two tablespoons it will deliver 11 grams of fiber, four grams of protein, five grams of plant based omega-3 fatty acid and just about 20% of your daily calcium needs. So throw them into you smoothie or mix them with your oatmeal and yogurt.cashews organic cocoa chia gronola That little crunch will add up to a lot of nutrient.

At my H.E.B I have found organic cocoa chia granola. For a snack on my drive home I’ll mix it with cashews or almonds. Maybe a little dried fruit. (again if you have blood sugar concerns be careful of dried fruit)

I have also discovered Mamma Chia granola mixes. They come in a variety of flavors. Two of my favorites are Vanilla Almond Clusters and Cinnamon Pecan Clusters. (noticed how I slipped in other C names? hehe).

cucumber

This is the green layer for the smoothie on top of the post. I did add chia to the one in the picture, this one has flax seed. Top: Cucumbers, Green grapes, avocado, spinach, kiwi, fresh lemon, you could also add a bit of fresh coconut. I added unsweetened almond milk and blended for 30 to 40 seconds.

The bottom layer (purple): Frozen strawberries, blueberries, shredded beets (to taste or take them out), chia, Triple Zero Oikos Greek Yogurt and unsweetened almond milk.

There are so many C foods – do you have a favorite I left off or a smoothie using any of these foods. I’m always looking for a new smoothie to try.  Have a great week.

 

Banana, Berries & Bacon…oh, I mean Beets

B in the A to Z Blogging Challange. Bananas, Berries & Beets....or Bacon
B in the A to Z Blogging Challenge. Bananas, Berries & Beets….or Bacon

Welcome to day two of the April A to Z Blogging Challenge. Today we are exploring healthy foods in the B column. The reason I put bacon in the title was not to tease you, but to bring out the point that living healthy is not about denial. It’s about making daily choices that benefit your body and mind. you can still enjoy the things that you love. Moderation is good.

I’m in this for the long haul so I want to able to maintain not destroy. I still cook real bacon to a crunchy crisp and eat a slice with my eggs every once in a while and I’ll add the bacon dripping to my potato salad…we don’t eat it that often so might as well make it right.

As I eat better and fill my body with rich foods of the earth I found I don’t really crave sweets or fatty foods as much. That might just be me. Check in with me next year and we’ll see how I’m doing.

Now back to the food of the day: Bananas, Berries & Beets.

Bananas are a happy fruit - your brain likes them.
Bananas are a happy fruit – your brain likes them. (and your gut and your bones)

You can’t go wrong with Bananas. They’re one of the most consumed fruit on the planet. They provide potassium and fiber and help the body absorb calcium, so they are perfect with that skim milk or almond milk smoothie. They also add a creamy texture, like the avocado.

They’re also a feel good fruit. Banana’s increase the level of dopamine, serotonin & nor-epinephrine…you know, the stuff that makes your brain happy. Yes, bananas can ward off depression. So instead of the gallon of ice cream eat a banana. At least cut one or two up and add to the ice cream. (and it will absorb the calcium)

If you’re looking for something with high benefits, but low calories pick up some berries! Blueberries are my favorite. They help maintain healthy levels of blood sugar even lowering it,(perfect fruit if your diabetic or just trying to lose weight)  protects vision and improves memory. It is another brain food that helps keep your cognitive skills sharp. Along with all that, they provide vitamins C and K and manganese. The compounds that give them their beautiful vibrant color is linked with helping  inflammation and building up your immune system. Blackberries also have much of these healthy characteristics and are high in fiber. (we love our fiber, but *side note* remember you need to drink plenty of water to help the body processes easier.)

The thing that gives blueberries and beets their color is the thing that will help you be healthier.
The thing that gives blueberries and beets their color is the thing that will help you be healthier.

BEETS!!! Beets? Yuck. Yes!! Beets are awesome in so many ways.

The betalain that gives the deep, rich red color of the beet is an antioxidant that could help ward off cancer and other diseases. It pretty much has a whole alphabet of vitamins, along with potassium boosting your immune system. The greens of the beets are good too. They carry a whopping 44 milligrams of calcium, so pair it with a banana (in a smoothie) and your bones will thank you.

With all that, we’re still not done with the beet. It has compounds that can lower blood pressure and LDL cholesterol. It helps your hard working muscles and joint relax. (anti-inflammatory) Yes, beets are worth the time. So find a way to eat them. They are jammed full of hard to get nutrients. If you don’t like smoothies, try roasting your beets or cut them very thin and add them to your salad with some bacon & walnuts.

Blueberry, strawberry, blackberry, triple zero Greek yogurt, Flax seeds and unsweetened almond/coconut milk thrown into my Ninja for 35

 

To get this rich color you can’t add green to this smoothie.

  • 1/2 Peeled and sliced beet
  • 1 cup  frozen organic organic blueberries
  • 1 cup  frozen strawberries
  • 1/2 organic banana
  • 1 Tb flax seed
  • 1 cup Oikos Triple Zero Nonfat Greek Yogurt (Vanilla)
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond/coconut milk

 

 

For the smoothie abovebeets-blueberries-blackberries-bananas-spinach

  • 1 cup of organic spinach (fresh or frozen)
  • 1 organic banana
  • 1 cup of organic blueberries
  • 1 hand full of organic blackberries
  • 1/2 beet peeled and sliced
  • 2 Tb  Oikos Triple Zero Nonfat Greek Yogurt (Vanilla)
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk

 

 

 

 

For a note on color:

*Warning* When you mix colors opposite on the color they neutralize each other – you know, green & red, purple & yellow, orange & blue turn into browns, greys, & swamp water green. All those colors that look  vibrant next to each other turn dirt colors when the blades mangle them together. That is way you see so many of my smoothies before the blend. 🙂

So do you have a favorite healthy B food I left out? Broccoli, beans, Brussels sprouts…

 

 

Avocados, Almonds & Apples…Yum

A in A to Z blogging challenge
A in A to Z blogging challenge

Welcome to April 1st and the first day of the A to Z Blogging Challenge. I’m going to spend the month sharing what I have learned about eating for a healthier body which enables the mind to work at a higher efficiency and gives your spirit peace. LOL That’s what they tell me anyway. The bottom line? If I want to stay active in  my own life I have to get in better shape. The numbers don’t lie.

Now that I’m hyper focused on what makes my body work better, I’m going to share some thing I have found in my journey of self-discovery. This is not medical advice and everyone has different needs depending on where you are at in life. It’s just my observations and experiences. (My lawyers made me say that).

My goal is to lose weight in order to get my numbers back on track. For me the discovery of smoothies was LIFE CHANGING. I’m a picky eater and it seemed all the “healthy foods” were ones I didn’t enjoy. But when you throw those babies in a Ninja and swirl them all together – lets just say I’m getting my full servings of vegetables and fruit everyday. Which means I’m not hungry. I feel great, I really do.  No magic pill or drink, just good old mother nature, unprocessed, raw and beaten into submission.

So for the first day of April we will start with three of the superstars: Almonds, Apples & Avacad0s.

Avocados & Almonds
A in A to Z blogging challenge

Rumors about almonds are true, they are hiding a great deal of fat in that little teardrop nut. But it’s monounsaturated fat. Moderation is the word with this treat. Research has shown they can help maintain good cholesterol levels and slow your cognitive decline as you age. (Brain food). They keep your gut happy and build a strong immune system. They are full of protein and fiber, which will help you feel full longer.

Avocados also struggle against the fat rumors, but boy do these guys deliver. They contain nearly 20 vitamins and minerals and because of its make-up they are easily absorbed by the body instead of flushed straight out. A serving is a half to one third and you don’t need or want more than that in a day. They are great for a bright green smoothie and add a nice creamy texture. I hear they are also good for the heart and may reduce heart disease risk.

Apples are full of fiber and helps lover cholesterol levels
A in A to Z blogging challenge

The good old classic Apple. These girls are high in fiber which lead to a healthy gut and are great for regulating digestion. They also help lower cholesterol levels. They just help you feel fuller therefore reducing the over all calories you eat. The sweetness is a good mix to cut the bitterness if kale and some other greens.

Do you have a favorite healthy A food that I ignored?

  • On the top of the page is the smoothie I made with 1/2 avocados,
  •  Handful of almonds
  • 1 sliced red apple
  • 1  cup of frozen berries
  • 1 cup of kale (without the stems)
  • Pour a cup of unsweetened almond milk (use this if your cutting back on sugar)

I threw it all into my Ninja, blended for 35 seconds and WHAM! I have a smoothie that does all sorts of good things for  my body. Enjoy!

If you have a good smoothie combo share! See you tomorrow with the B foods.