Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Top 20 Healing Foods- Flaxseed

By now most health-concious people have heard about flaxseed and know of it's health benefits.  It is high in omega-3 fatty acids and fiber.  But did you know that it is also rich in Vibamins B6, E, Folic Acid, Magnesium and phytoestrogens called lignans? Lignans act like estrogen in the body, blocking estrogen receptors on cells and cotnribute to reduced rates of some hormone-related cancers, such as breast cancer.   Just a tablespoon of ground flaxseed provides 2.3 grams of fiber.  Just be sure that your flax seeds are ground.  Your body can't break them down whole.  They will come out the same way they went in and you won't reap the benefits.  You can find them ground just about anywhere.  Bob's Red Mill makes some- I've even seen it at Walmart. You can also find it in the bulk section of your health food store.  I store it in the fridge to keep it fresh longer.

Key Nutrients:
ALA fatty acid
Vitamins E, B6
Folic Acid

You can find a great recipe for my super simple to make granola that features ground flaxseed as a main ingredient here. Eat it for breakfast and I promise you won't be hungry until lunchtime. :)
I also like to add about a quarter cup of ground flaxseed to any baked goods I make- breads, pancakes, cookies, birthday cakes, everything!  It's a great way to sneak some nutrition into not-so-good for you foods.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Top 20 Healing Foods- Dark Chocolate

Not many people can say they don't love chocolate.  And isn't it wonderful that more and more studies are showing how wonderful it is for our body?  Dark chocolate (not milk, it is too high in fat/dairy/sugar to fall onto a healthy foods list) is loaded with antioxidants in the form of flavinoids, which are also found in red wine and many fruits and vegetables.  Dark chocolate actually has more flavonoids than any other food! For the most antioxidants look for dark chocolate that contains at least 60% cocoa.  The higher the percentage, the higher the antioxidant punch.  I encourage you to try many different percentages and find the one you like best.  It can take a while for your palate to transition from milk to dark, but your body and your waist line will thank you. 

I like to get my daily dose of chocolate by eating a small amount of dark chocolate chips or a square or two of a good quality dark chocolate.  Because the cocoa flavor is so strong it doesn't take much to sooth my chocolate cravings, and I feel good knowing I'm doing something for my body that feels so decadent!

Key Nutrients:
Vitamins A, B1, C, D, E

If you want to get a little fancier with your chocolate give this recipe from Pioneer Woman Cooks a go.  It's an easy dessert that sounds, and looks, fancy.  Perfect for impressing dinner guests or your sweetheart on Valentine's Day!


12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
4 large eggs, at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 pinch salt
8 ounces (1 cup) very hot strong coffee
1 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons sugar
Place the chocolate chips in the blender. Crack in the eggs, then add the vanilla and the salt. Pulse 5 to 7 times, or until the chocolate chips are partially pulverized.

Turn on the blender, then pour in the very hot coffee through the hole in the top in a steady stream. The coffee will melt the chocolate and turn it into a smooth mixture.

Pour the mixture into small mason jars, pretty wine glasses or demitasse cups. Place the jars on a tray and refrigerate them for 2 to 3 hours, or until firm.

Whip the cream with the sugar and plop it onto the top of each glass.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Top 20 Healing Foods- Carrots

Today we continue with #5 on my list of the Top 20 Healing Foods.  Most people like today's food, the carrot.  However, we tend to get into ruts with this veggie.  Carrot sticks, carrot salad, that's pretty much it.  But I encourage you to play around with this wholesome root vegetable and find new ways to incorporate it into your diet.

Key Nutrients:
Vitamins B6 and C

Beta-carotene gives carrots their bright orange color and provide significant health benefits.  One large carrot provides almost all the vitamin A you need in a day.  If you cook it rather than eat it raw, it provides even more.  The darker the carrot, the more beta-carotene it will provide.  Carrots are high in fiber which can help lower cholesterol, vitamin A is great for eye health and carotenoids like beta-carotene help protect against cancer. 

Cooked carrots provide more beta-carotene than raw since cooking breaks down the cellular walls that encase it.  Cook them in as little water as possible to maintain the highest levels of nutrients.  Tip: eat your carrots with a little fat, as this helps the body absorb the beta-carotene.

This is a really easy recipe for a quick side dish.  I adapted it from a recipe from Ina Garten.


2 pounds carrots
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons unsalted butter or coconut oil
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill or flat-leaf parsley
Peel the carrots and cut them diagonally in 1/4-inch slices. You should have about 6 cups of carrots. Place the carrots, 1/3 cup water, the salt, and pepper in a large (10 to 12-inch) saute pan and bring to a boil. Cover the pan and cook over medium-low heat for 7 to 8 minutes, until the carrots are just cooked through. Add the butter and saute for another minute, until the water evaporates and the carrots are coated with butter. Off the heat, toss with the herbs. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and serve.
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