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Bring the Smoothies Back June 10, 2011

I enjoy smoothies, but in the cold winter months I typically don’t eat them.  However, with the warmth of summer returning I have added them back into my diet.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup soymilk
  • 1 cup spinach
  • 1 cup strawberries (fresh or frozen)
  • 1 cup mango (fresh or frozen)
  • 2 tbsp. coconut butter
Throw all the ingredients in the blender and you’ll have a delicious tropical tasting smoothie.  It may look green, but it doesn’t taste green.
Currently my basic rule of thumb with smoothies is:
  1. 1 cup some type of milk (almond, soy, hemp, rice…)
  2. 1 cup spinach (you can even throw in romaine, kale, any leafy green)
  3. 1 cup tart fruit (any berry because they are lower in sugar)
  4. 1 cup sweet fruit (it’s better to use fruit to sweeten your smoothie rather than added sugar because at least you’ll be getting some nutrients, you can use mango, pineapple, dates, or banana)
  5. 2 tbsp healthy fats (coconut butter is sweet tasting, you can also use almond, peanut, or cashew butter, you can also throw in hemp seeds, sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds, but they tend to give a bitter taste, either way you’ll be giving your body some healthy fats)
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Butternut Squash Soup & Some Important Cooking Tips January 24, 2011

This will warm you up nicely since it’s been so cold out lately.  The recipe is a bit lengthy so I would recommend doing this on a Sunday.

Ingredients:

  • one medium sized butternut squash
  • one can of coconut milk (unsweetened)
  • 1 tbsp of curry powder
  • 1 tbsp of fresh chopped ginger root
  • 1 bag of frozen peas

Directions: (about an hour and a half)

  1. Cut the butternut squash lengthwise and scoop out the seeds.
  2. Place it face down on a baking pan in  1/2 an inch of water.  Bake at 375 for 45min-1hour.
  3. When the squash is done you should be able to pierce through the skin with a fork or knife.
  4. Scoop out the meat from the squash and put it into a blender or food processor.
  5. Also add the coconut water, curry powder and ginger root and blend.
  6. Place the mixture in a pot on the stove on a low heat (3) and add the frozen peas (or any other veggies you’d like)
  7. In about 10 minutes you should have some yummy soup!

Baking the butternut squash face down prevents it from burning.  When food is dry baked acrylamides are formed.  Acrylamides have been shown to cause cancer.  So you may be thinking to yourself…everything causes cancer these days!  Well, let me put it this way, cigarettes contain large amounts of acrylamides and we KNOW those cause cancer.

Healthy cooking tips at home:

Cook at home often because that is where you have the most control over your food.  Also it is extremely important to cook your food at a medium to low temperature.  There is no need to have the burner higher than a medium heat.  Heating food too much not only destroys the nutrients, but also causes the fats in foods restructure into transfats.

You should also only cook with coconut oil because it can withstand temperatures of up to 350 degrees without restructuring into harmful heart disease causing transfats.  Also, the medium chain fatty acids found in coconut oil will actually double the rate at which omega 3 fatty acids are transferred into DHA.  DHA is a fat that is essential for healthy brain functioning.

So we all hear about how benefits of Omega 3’s.  However, we don’t hear that in order to use Omega 3 fatty acids our bodies need to convert them to DHA.  Everyone’s conversion rate differs, which is why eating small amounts of coconut can be a very beneficial addition to your diet.

However you don’t want to over do it with fat.  If you’re doing a stir-fry I would suggest adding 1 tsp per person.  If you are more active you can be a little more liberal with this suggestion.

Steaming or boiling food is the best way to cook veggies because you lose the least amount of nutrients.  However, we all like a little variety.  If you do plan on doing a stir-fry add a teaspoon or two of water and keep the heat no higher than a medium heat.  Keeping a low heat will prevent the occurrence of acrylamides and retain nutrients.  It may take a little longer, but your body will thank you for it!

 

Food Pyramid Revised October 15, 2010

Filed under: Health Facts and Concerns,Health Tips — Yvette @ 3:18 pm
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I recently re-read Dr. Joel Fuhrman’s book Eat To Live.  He talks about how it is important to have most of what you eat consist of plant food.  I think this diet is much more approachable for the average American who is not ready to become vegan.  The motto is similar to Michael Pollan who states, “Eat food.  Not too much.  Mostly plants,” only he gives a little more detail on exactly what and how to eat.

Animal (including fish, eggs and dairy) and processed foods are taxing on the body and acidic.  They are also very high in saturated fat and calories as well as low in vitamins and minerals.  These foods do not make ideal diet or health foods.  In his book he suggests limited animal food consumption to 2 to 3 times per week, and recommends fish over dairy.  This is because his idea is based upon the idea of weight loss.  Dairy contains a large amount of saturated fat which immediately goes to the waist line (even low fat dairy), whereas fish at least contains amounts of Omega 3 & 6 essential fatty acids.  Please note that I am not promoting the eating of fish because I am vegan, but just simply giving the facts stated in the book.  Dr. Joel Fuhrman states that if animal food can be avoided at all this is best to maintain proper weight and ideal health.

Fruits and vegetables bring alkalinity to the body and they contain vitamins, minerals and most importantly phytonutrients which help our cells fight against diseases.

What about protein?  That’s what most people ask…well there a few points to be made here.  First off, after you’re done growing and if you’re not highly active you don’t need that much protein at all.  Second, green leafy vegetables are 50% protein and and beans are also a great source of protein.  Third, you do not need to combine different foods in order to make a complete protein.  The body can store amino acids (building blocks of protein) in it’s cells until there is a complete protein.

The idea behind the diet is that you need not restrict calories if you are eating 90% plant food and most of that 90% is fruits and vegetables.  You will lose weight and feel healthier.

 

Juice Fast For Peace June 23, 2010

Filed under: Health Facts and Concerns,My story — Yvette @ 1:14 am
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I recently finished a 7 day juice fast with Dr. Gabriel Cousens, one of the raw foodists who has inspired me.  7 days of nothing but green juice, the only fruit that was in the juice was lemon!  I cleared out a lot of mental and physical toxins.  It is amazing what the body can store over the years.  I am really grateful for everything that I learned from Dr. Cousens.  I feel that I will be able to use the knowledge in order to help heal my digestive problems.

Dr. Cousens indicated that sometimes we are deficient in minerals and vitamins because we can not absorb them (this is my situation).  This actually may have to do with the amount of HCl (hydrochloric acid) in our stomachs.  I am planning on incorporating this into my array of supplements.  In August I will get my blood drawn and see how my levels are doing!

***Also he highly recommended that women over 40 take HCl***  This is because the amount of acid decreases with age and the lack of it hinders the absorption of calcium.  This is the main reason for osteoporosis.  Calcium supplements are not very effective and it is much better to up the HCl acid so that you can actually absorb the calcium from your food.  You may not even be able to absorb the calcium from the supplement.  This applies to all other supplements as well.

The juice fast has also inspired me to go back to being raw.  Now that I have more knowledge I feel that I will be able to approach it better.  I also realize that when I was raw I was eating a lot of things I was allergic to, such as oranges, cucumbers and so forth.

Dr. Cousens has a nice approach to being raw.  The general guidelines are fruits, nuts and seeds for breakfast, a salad for lunch and a smoothie or blended soup for dinner.  I look forward to sharing my new recipes this summer with everyone!

 

Necessary Appliances for Easy, Healthy Meals February 20, 2010

The vast majority of Americans eat out several times a week.  How many times a week do you eat out?  When we go out to eat, we let others control what goes into our food.  If you desire to be a healthy eater, then eating out is really not something you want to do frequently.  But if you don’t have the time or the desire to put in some real effort at first then there are some things you can do to help you start.  They do involve you buying certain appliances.

The two important appliances for eating healthy would be a rice cooker/vegetable steamer and a blender.  You could conceivably just live off the food from those two appliances and you would be in great shape.

Rice cooker/vegetable steamer – You can pick up a rice cooker/vegetable steamer at Target or any chain store for about $30.  Steaming vegetables is the cooking method that destroys the least amount of nutrients.  The steamer also does ALL the work for you, when you stir fry, you have to watch the pan anyways.  Who wouldn’t want to do less work and have healthier food?  Steaming certain vegetables can be easier on the digestive system than eating them raw.  Cruciferous vegetables such as brocolli, asparagus and kale can create a lot of gas otherwise.  As for the rice, just measure the water and throw the grains in and it’ll beep when it’s ready.  You really should be eating brown rice or wild rice, since these are the grains with cancer and heart disease fighting agents.  Once the food is done you have yourself what my boyfriend calls a Buddha Bowl, rice and veggies!  If you want some more flavor feel free to add some dressing 🙂

Blender – I posted many many recipes for smoothies.  Blenders make really easy on the go meals that are really healthy.  Suppose you are running late and don’t have time to throw together a sandwich or some other meal.  You can throw a few pieces of fruit and some leafy greens into the blender and you have yourself a tasty, healthy, raw meal.  This will also prevent you from going out to eat on your lunch break.  The best way to stay healthy is to try and prevent situations where you’ll be tempted to eat not-so-healthy food.  If you really want to go the extra mile I would recommend getting the Vita Mix.  This is the blender I use…and it is AMAZING…it is by far the most used appliance in my kitchen.

 

Sugar Part V – Agave Nectar February 15, 2010

Filed under: Food Additives,Health Facts and Concerns,Sugar — Yvette @ 10:48 pm
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You may be unaware of the agave nectar debate, or you may be geniunely curious about whether it is a health food or not.  If we look at it honestly it is a sweetener and any sweetener isn’t the best thing for you, but usually fine in moderation.

The question mostly comes from the raw food community, where many tout it’s raw deserts as being health foods.  Being a raw foodist I have been amazed at how liberally agave nectar is used in some recipes.  Sometimes it is not used just as a sweetener, but a major component of the recipe.  This is when I stopped myself and started questioning this sweetener.  This is what I’ve found.

Agave nectar is about 90% fructose and 10% glucose, this ratio is not found anywhere in nature.  The high amount of fructose makes it a low glycemic sweetener and is great for diabetics, in the short term.  The long term risks are high triglyceride counts.  This is because when fructose enters the body in this isolated form it immediately goes to the liver and produces fat cells.  Unlike glucose which immediately causes a surge in the blood sugar levels.

If we consider agave nectar’s sugar ratio and compare it to high fructose corn syrup which has a 70% to 30% ratio, we can immediately see that it is unnatural.  Although we should not put agave nectar on the same shelf as HFCS, it still IS processed, we can not ignore that.  How is agave nectar processed?  This seems to also answer another question…is agave nectar actually raw?

Agave nectar comes from the same plant that tequila is made from, a type of cactus.  In order to prevent agave nectar from turning into tequila the enzymes must be destroyed, therefore agave nectar really isn’t raw.

So, is agave nectar a ‘natual sweetener’?  Well that depends on your defintion of natural.  I would recommend maple syrup, honey, or dried fruit over agave nectar.  But sometimes a particular diet calls for it, then I would say to use it in moderation.  I would not however put it alongside HFCS or white sugar as some people do.  Agave is not processed with mercury and chlorine, like HFCS and sugar.  Agave nectar lays somewhere in the middle on the spectrum of sweeteners, use it sparingly and you should be fine.  However, I would not consider it a health food.