The Nuts & Bolts of Healthy Eating

N
N is for Nuts

Nasty rumors are floating around about the fat in nuts.  Instead of being afraid of the little nuts you should embrace them for the nutritious, healthy snack they  provide. Almonds, cashews, walnuts, or pistachios, any whole nut makes a healthy high-protein snack. And these nuts are high in fiber.

You mix protein with fiber and you will fill full longer.  Even though they are loaded with the good fats, it’s still important to measure out portions. 

A hand full can lower cholesterol, make for a healthy heart, help weight control and even lower cancer risk and that is just the tip of the iceberg for these tiny little nuts.

nuts 1
Another reason to love My H.E.B – I can buy in bulk and keep it local. They have so many choices.

Unfortunately, too few Americans eat nuts regularly: They account for less than eight percent of daily antioxidant intake.  Let me remind you that just a small handful can add protein, fiber, good fats  and important vitamins and minerals to you diet.

Here are my favorites.

Pistachios: They slow down your eating

Pistachios are my travel companions. This nut has the fewest calories, less than four calories each. If you eat them shelled, then you are working for your food and you’ll eat less but it takes longer. I love eating them in traffic on my long trip home.

Pistachios are rich in the antioxidant gamma-tocopherol, a form of cancer-fighting vitamin E. Pistachios are also packed with potassium, which we need for healthy nervous system and muscles. Vitamin B6, is another gift that comes in this tiny package. It helps  lift your mood and build up your immune system.

About 50 nuts make up a serving.

Almonds: They keep things moving.

Of all the nuts, almonds have the most fiber. If nothing else I hope you have learned how important fiber and a healthy digestive system is to your overall health.

nuts 3
I like a touch of chocolate or dried fruit thrown in the mix.

They are also rich in vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant. Some research shows that almonds are good for someone trying to keep their blood sugar levels healthy. In one study: Those who ate about 20 percent of their calories from almonds for four months saw their bad LDL cholesterol drop and their insulin resistance decrease compared to a control group who didn’t eat them. They may also help if you are on a healthy weight loss journey. In one International Journal of Obesity study, when two groups of obese adults followed low-calorie diets for six months, those who included almonds in their weight loss plans lost more weight than those who ate more complex carbohydrates.  Almonds may even keep your gut healthy: A test-tube study (funded by the Almond Board of California) found that Almonds brought more good bacteria to the body’s immune system.

Unsweetened almond milk and unsweetened Almond/coconut milk are two of the milks I use in my smoothies.

About 23 nuts make a serving.

Pecans: The Heart of Texas. This is a native and our state tree.

Pecans are famous for those tasty pies. But what they should be know for is the health benefits to your heart.  They may help prevent plaque formation in your arteries. In fact, a Journal of Nutrition study (funded partly by the National Pecan Shellers Association) found that consuming pecans can help lower LDL cholesterol levels by as much as 33 percent. Pecans may also buffer your brain health, according to an animal study from the University of Massachusetts Lowell. The vitamin E found in the nuts could delay progression of degenerative neurological diseases like amyotropic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.

Serving size is only about 18 halves.

Cashews: Good for your brain

nuts and coco granola chia clusters
Some cashews mixes with coco/chia granola.

 

Cashews deliver the magnesium. Which may help improve memory and protect against age-related memory loss, according to a study in the journal Neuron. They also are heavy in iron and zinc. Our body uses iron to carry oxygen to our cells, and zinc helps with immune health and healthy vision.  Unsweetened cashew milk is the other liquid I like using in my smoothies. It has less calories than skim milk (25 compared to 80) but has more calcium (45% compared to 30%). It is also creamier.

About 1/4 cup is a serving.

Walnuts: A happy nut.

A handful of walnuts may level out any mood swings you might be having because of hormones. Manganese has been given credit for happy mental health and nerve health. It also has the most antioxidants of all nuts. This is the stuff that helps protect your body from the cellular damage that can lead to heart disease, cancer, and premature aging. If you would rather avoid fish, walnuts have the highest counts in omega-3 fatty acids. They  fight inflammation. I like to drop a small hand full to a smoothie every now and then.

A serving is  14 walnut halves.

A couple of my favorite smoothies:

(Right) Walnuts, fresh blackberries, kale, frozen blueberries and a cup of unsweetened cashew milk. (left) Unsalted almonds, frozen blueberries & strawberries, fresh bananas & spinach along with unsweetened almond milk. I throw them in my Ninja for about 40 seconds and enjoy!

 

There are more nuts to explore and this is a good site to find information :

http://www.everydayhealth.com/diet-and-nutrition/0406/why-you-should-go-nuts-for-nuts.aspx#03

 

 

 

Where Trouble Melt Like Lemon Drops

LLemons are happy fruits. I love just having them around the kitchen. They bring sunshine indoors.  Lemons are to bring joy and happiness. Even Judy Garland as Dorthy, sings about troubles melting like lemon drops in Somewhere Over the Rainbow.
Lemons bring happiness. The home remedies that use lemons are endless. They are one amazing little fruit. I’m going to freeze some lemon juice to add to my ice cold water. lemons-1
The health benefits of lemons are due to its many nourishing elements like vitamin C, vitamin B6, vitamin A, vitamin E, folate, niacin thiamin, riboflavin, pantothenic acid, copper,  calcium, iron,  magnesium, potassium, zinc, phosphorus and protein. Lemon is a fruit that contains flavonoids, which are composites that contain antioxidant and cancer fighting properties. It helps to prevent diabetes, constipation, high blood pressure, fever, indigestion and many other problems, as well as improving the skin, hair, and teeth. Wow, I need to start putting lemon in my water everyday.
lemon-2
Studies conducted at the American Urological Association highlight the fact that lemonade or lemon juice can eliminate the occurrence of kidney stones by forming urinary citrate, which prevents the formation of crystals.
Next time you make a smoothie, cut a lemon in half and squeeze some juice to perk it up.
kiwi smoothie a
Do you add lemon to your fish and chicken or maybe your water?  What is your favorite healthy L food?

 

 

 

For my smoothie: Hemp, organic banana, organic kale, organic red and black grapes and organic frozen blueberries with unsweetened almond milk.

Health Benefits of Hemp

HFirst of all you can not get high from hemp. Even though hemp and marijuana are both made from the Cannabis plant, hemp seeds contains less than  a trace of THC which is the psychoactive substance in marijuana.

What hemp does have is a complete source of protein, which means that they provide all the essential amino acids. Complete protein sources are very rare in the plant kingdom. Quinoa is the only other example of a complete, plant-based protein I can think of. Hemp seeds are also rich in healthy fats. They have a 3:1 ratio of omega-6 to omega-3  along with good amounts of vitamin E, phosphorus, potassium,  magnesium,  calcium, iron and zinc.

Hemp - an complete protien source and no, it can't make you high.
Hemp – an complete protien source and no, it can’t make you high.

Whole hemp seeds are high in fiber, both soluble and insoluble. This is great stuff for your digestive health. I made the mistake of buying shelled hemp seeds. They have less than 1g of fiber, but all the other good stuff.

Soluble fiber forms a gel-like substance in the gut. It is a valuable source of nutrients for the beneficial digestive bacteria, and may also reduce spikes in blood sugar and regulate cholesterol levels.

Insoluble fiber adds bulk to fecal matter and may help food and waste pass through the gut. Consuming insoluble fiber has also been linked with a reduced risk of diabetes.

This is great stuff for your digestive health. I made the mistake of buying shelled hemp seeds. They have less than 1g of fiber.

This week I will be adding three tbs of hemp seeds to one of my smoothies every day.

This is one I had today:

For my smoothie: Hemp, organic banana, organic kale, organic red and black grapes and organic frozen blueberries with unsweetened almond milk.
For my smoothie: Hemp, organic banana, organic kale, organic red and black grapes and organic frozen blueberries with unsweetened almond milk.
Smoothie with black & red grapes, kale, banana and unsweetened almond milk.
H in the A to Z Blogging Challenge

Three tbs of hemp

one cup  kale

one cup  red & black grapes

one cup frozen blueberries

one cup unsweetened almond milk

I threw it all in my Ninja for about 40 seconds. I like the bites of graped you can see in the smoothie.

 

I had a hard time finding healthy foods that start with H. Did I miss one? Do you know of any healthy H foods

 

Grapes a healthy food choice - the darker the better

Garlic, Ginger, Grapes & Greek Yogurt does a Chicken Good

GLet’s all pretend it is still April 8 and we can talk about healthy foods that start with the letter G. Yes, in today’s A to Z Blogging Challenge it is all about the G. In my research for the perfect G food, I came across a receipe that had a sauce of  ginger and grapes over garlic chicken. I added fennel and Greek yogurt and claimed it as my own. I tested it on my teenage sons. They ate it and came back for more! They said they liked the “sweet” flavor of the chichen.

First let’s look at Garlic. If my parents were cooking on the stove or over the fire pit, garlic was on the menu. We grew our own garlic. (well, they grew garlic and I ate it) They used it like other people used salt. You should too.

Garlic has some serious health benifts. It is credited with bolster immuity and keeping joints healthy. It is well documented that garlic is cardioprotective along with being an

Galric and Ginger going on a dinner date. I added a little fennel and it got interesting.
Galric and Ginger going on a dinner date. I added a little fennel and it got interesting.

effective antiviral.

Now ginger is new to me. I’ve always thought it was interesting, but had no idea what to do with the twisted  root. A little will go a long way and you can store it in the freezer. Use it with fish, chicken, salad dressing. Anywhere you want to put a little snap to the flavor of your dish. It can be tasty in a smoothie also.

 

I love my Triple Zero Greek Yogurt in my smoothies so I thought it might make a good base for the chicken to keep it moist. That is when I discovered that my large 32 oz of yogurt was empty! This is very telling people. In the past when I would buy yogurt we never ate the whole thing – it would end up going bad. So to find it all gone, well that is evidence to our life style change. I ran to my H.E.B and found they were out also. So after ten minutes of reading and comparing lables I went with Stonyfield Organic Nonfat Greek Yogurt. Why did I spend so much time reading the lables?

Yogurt has been marketed as a health food and in it’s basic for it is. Conventional yogurt is rich in protein, calcium & potassium. The Greek varieties knocks it out of the park with double protein but half the sodum and carbohydrates of regular yogurt.

Now a word about this HEALTHY food. It is healthy as long as compnies are not adding to the natural yogurt. Look at the sugar amount on the lable if it is 10g or higher put it back on the shelf. Yogurt might naturally have up to 9g of sugar, if it has more than that the  healthy food has been contaminated. You have to read the lable.

The good thing about raw fruit?  You don’t have to worry about the added ingrdeents (well other than pestacides). The main stay of this sauce was organic seedless grapes (green, red and black)

Grapes a healthy food choice - the darker the better
Grapes a healthy food choice – the darker the better
Grapes are a healthy choice for people who are looking to cut calories or reduce fat. Each 1-cup serving contains only 62 calories and less than 1 gram of fat. A cup of  grapes also provides you with some protein, fiber, and has only 15.78 grams of carbohydrate.

Dark grapes have  anthocyanins. It’s what gives them their color; the darker the fruit, the higher the anthocyanin content. A natural antioxidant, anthocyanins protect your body from damage from free radicals produced as your body breaks down food, reducing the risk of cell damage and death and potentially slowing down the aging process. A study published in the 2010 “Annual Review of Food Science and Technology” found that anthocyanins may help reduce inflammation and cancer activity, alleviate diabetes and control obesity. Yes, I will be adding more grapes to my diet.

Antioxidents: We hear that word a great deal. A study published in “BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine” in July 2013 said that  grapes may prevent oxidative damage because of the  antioxidants and antiglycation that are found in the little fruits. Glycation is a protein cross-linking process that leads to harmful consequences, which may contribute to the development of many age-related diseases, such as diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, autoimmune diseases, cancer and Alzheimer’s disease. Man, grapes are sounding better and better.

So I made this Glazed Chichen with Grapes, Ginger, Garlic & Fennel

6 thinly sliced skinless, boneless chicken breast 1 TBS olive oil Freshly ground Himalayan Pink Salt & Black Pepper 6 cloves garlic, sliced 1/5 cup of nonfat organic Greek yogurt (no sugar added) 3 cups of seedless grapes ( 1 c. red, 1 c. green 1 c. black) TBS fresh Fennel 1 inch fresh ginger, peeled and minced 1 TBS honey 1 1/2 bold spicy mustard
Galric and Ginger going on a dinner date. I added a little fennel and it got interesting.
  • 6 thinly sliced skinless, boneless chicken breast
  • 1 TBS olive oil
  • Freshly ground Himalayan Pink Salt & Black Pepper
  • 6 cloves garlic, sliced
  •  1/5 cup of nonfat organic Greek yogurt (no sugar added)
  • 3 cups of seedless grapes ( 1 c. red, 1 c. green 1 c. black)
  • TBS fresh Fennel
  • 1 inch fresh ginger, peeled and minced
  • 1 TBS honey
  • 1 1/2 bold spicy mustard
  1. Make sauce: The yogurt, grapes, ginger, fennel go into the blender. It will be a beautuful pink color. Whisk in honey and mustard.
  2. .Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Run chicken with the oil, salt, pepper, and garlic. Place in the roasting dish with 1/2 cup of the sauce. Marinate for ten minutes.
  3. Heat oil in saute pan ( I actully used cocunut oil here) over medium heat. Brown the chicken on both sides. Return the cooked chicken back to the pan (I use a stone roaster from Pampered Chef)
  4. Cook for fifteen mintes, uncovered, until chicken is cooked and tender.
  5. In a clean saute pan heat remaining sauce over low heat until thickened. Drizzle over cooked chicken and serve. (confession – It was getting late so I just poured the remaining sauce over the chicken for the last 10 minutes in the oven.)  The drizzling probably looks better.

So I’m looking for more ginger recipes. Do you have one? What about G…what’s your favorite healthy food that starts with G?

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

I have Joined the A to Z Blog Challange

Starting in April, I will share my new obsession with you. I will explore the wonderful world of food, God given food that grows from the earth and nourishes our bodies. All the colors and textures create their own unique art work.

We’ll talk about everything from avocados to ugli fruit. Any excuse to take pictures. LOL

Why has this become an obsession? In the middle of February I made a commitment to myself that I would live a healthier life. Sitting in front of the computer and sitting in the car has taken a toll on my body and as I approach 50 I realized I had to make some changes. Some things happen to us beyond our control, but I can control what I put in my body and how I use the body God gave me.

11149268_10153198041191740_364585605645514242_n
Noah inspired me with his no excuses motto – really how can I argue with him?

Last season of Dancing with the Stars, I fell in love with Noah Galloway. (the inspirational kind of love) I wanted that kind of determination in my life.

I knew I had it. It took will power to finish my master’s degree at forty.  To find ways to inspire students, To write a 60k word novel. To work until I got my story published. To keep writing in order to get more writing contracts. It wasn’t easy with a language disability (dysgraphia). With hard work and focus I accomplished my dreams and reached my goals.

 

Unfortunately at the expense of my health. I now need that drive and focus in order to reach my health goals. In doing so I have discovered the world of smoothies and the wonderful fruits and veggies that can go in them. Arranging the colors and selecting the flavors to combine have fired the creative side of my brain.

Do you have a favorite food that nourishes you, heart, mind and body?

As the sun sets on March I hope you walk along with me through my April journey.

Sunrise at the end of my road. Yes I live in the country. And love it.
Sunrise at the end of my road.