Friday, February 1, 2013

Spicy Asian Spinach Salad

I've been getting back to eating healthy and so I'm on the look-out for great vegetarian recipes.  When your food options are limited you can become very creative! My friend Patty from Victoria made a delicious salad for a party with cooked green peas and a spicy dressing.  I ate the left overs for a week.  Here's  the best imitation I could come up with.

Adding peas to a vegetarian dish is a great idea since peas are a "seed" vegetable.  These veggies typically are high in protein.  You'll notice that you'll stay full longer when you add them to a salad.

Spicy Asian Spinach Salad

Spinach leaves
1 shredded carrot
1 chopped red bell pepper
chopped cilantro
green peas, boiled and cooled
cheese, such as feta or your favorite
chopped red onion
sliced avocado

Asian Sesame Dressing 

1 tbsp. Rice Vinegar
1 tbsp. Raw Apple Cider Vinegar
1 tbsp. Sesame Oil 
1 tbsp. Dijon Mustard
3 tbsp. unrefined, x-virgin olive oil 
a little bit of water 

Blend all dressing ingredients together and adjust to your taste.  

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Black Bean Recipes Tip # 2

Tip number two: Eat two servings of beans, lentils, quinoa, tofu (soy), or seed vegetables daily.

 Dried Beans and Quinoa in Recycled Glass Storage Jars
Tip number two has to do with the type of protein we should be getting.  It's good to be open to varying your sources of protein.  If you eat meat, then you can continue to do so, but why not add some vegetable sources of protein to your diet as well.  You'll get the added benefit of more fiber, nutrients and anti-oxidants.  You'll also cut down on your intake of fat, cholesterol and acid-forming foods.
Today I'd like to focus on black beans, since I have learned how to make them!

I didn't grow up eating a lot of beans.  If you are North American you may have learned how to make beans when you started cooking for yourself, like I did.  Beans don't seem to be a dietary staple here as compared to many other countries.  The problem is that by not eating beans regularly, we are excluding a great source of fiber and protein, and antioxidants from our diet.  

Lets examine some surprising facts about black beans.

Consumption of black beans promotes an anti-inflammatory effect in the colon.  This is due to a process that occurs when the indigestible fraction (IF) in beans allows bacteria in the colon to produce butyric acid.  The colon uses this fatty acid as its primary energy source.  It feeds the bowel and produces potent anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer effects. It has also been shown to have a positive effect on intestinal permeability.   Impaired gut barrier integrity is associated with many health conditions, such as Candida over-growth and food sensitivities.  

There has been some debate as to whether beans should be cooked in the water used for soaking them. It has been generally agreed upon by researchers that there are more benefits to discarding the soaking water. Some of these benefits are getting rid of some of the phytates and tannins that can lower nutrient availability. (Phytates are found in grains, nuts and legumes).  Using new cooking water also reduces flatulence-related substances like raffinose (up to 33% removed along with the soaking water).

Phytonutrients as found in the pigment of berries and grapes called anthocyanins are also found in black beans.  The flavonoids: delphinidin, petunidin, and malvidin are three anthocyanins primarily responsible for the rich black color that we see on the bean surface.  One of the most important activitites of anthocyanin is its high antioxidant effect.  It can protect your cardiovascular system from oxidative stress.  

The Brazillians have given beans an exclusive place on their food pyramid. Studies showing a lower risk of type 2 diabetes, many types of cardiovascular disease, and several types of cancer was one of the key factors used by the Brazilian government and the U.S. government in establishing their bean intake recommendations.   Instead of 3 cups of weekly legumes, 4-8 cups would become the goal range.  

Some people like to used canned beans but they may wonder if it's better to make your own.   One special concern in the canning area has been the use of bisphenol A (BPA) in resin-based can liners.  This concern can be avoided when you make beans from scratch.  However, be sure to follow a bean cooking guide to be sure you cook beans safely.  Especially beans like kidney beans must be prepared very carefully or you could find yourself in the hospital!

From a single, one-cup serving of black beans you get nearly 15 grams of fiber (well over half of the Daily Value and the same amount consumed by the average U.S. adult in one entire day of eating) and 15 grams of protein (nearly one third of the Daily Value and equivalent to the amount in 2 ounces of a meat like chicken or a fish like salmon).  

My biggest challenge with beans was finding recipes that would taste good enough to eat every week.   In Costa Rica, we ate a local dish of black beans mixed with rice called "Gallo Pinto."  From this recipe, I came up with my own re-fried black beans recipe that is great for bean burritos or as a side dish.  The other recipe I can eat any time is my black bean chili.  Although I add a little ground beef, it would be great as a vegetarian dish too.  You can experiment with your own recipes while working toward the goal is of making beans a delicious part of your normal diet.  Eating beans is a good life-long, healthy habit for children to develop too.  Here are a couple of my recipes.  

Black Bean Marinara Chili

1 green bell pepper, chopped 
1 onion, chopped 
2 cloves minced garlic  
1/2 chopped jalapeno (optional)
1 lb natural ground beef (no hormones and grass fed)  
1 tbsp. cumin 
1 tbsp. chili powder 
1/4 tsp. Himalayan or other real sea salt 
Pre-Soaked, Black beans about 2 cups cooked 
1 jar 739 ml Simply natural Organic Tomato Pasta Sauce

Saute onion, green bell pepper and garlic until soft, about 7 minutes.  Add ground beef and saute until cooked through.  Add cumin and chili powder.  Adjust amount of seasoning to your taste.  Add salt and  cooked black beans.  Finally, mix in tomato pasta sauce.  Let simmer for 1/2 hour or longer.  

Black Bean Tacos  

Sprouted Wheat Tortillas (Alvarado St. Bakery)  
x-virgin olive oil 
1 onion, chopped  
1 red bell pepper, chopped 
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tbsp. cumin 
1 tbsp. chili powder 
1/4 tsp. real salt 
1 cup cooked black beans 
1/2 cup grated jack cheese 

Saute onion, red bell pepper and garlic until soft, about 7 minutes.  Add spices and beans.  Watch carefully and flip over frequently until lightly charred.  Another option is to lightly fry the tortillas in olive oil, fill tortilla with bean mixture and cheese.  Fold tortilla in half and then once more.  Serve when heated through.  Garnish with cilantro, salsa and avocado.  

For re-fried beans,  place bean mixture in Vitamix and blend with toggle, pushing beans into blades until mixed through.   Remove toggle, cover and secure.  Pulse on high for a few seconds.  Place bean mixture and cheese in tortillas, heat thorough and serve.  

References: Butyric Acid: Ancient Controller of Metabolism, Inflammation and Stress Resistance



Those seeking help for specific medical conditions are advised to consult a qualified nutrition therapist, clinical nutritionist, doctor, or equivalent health care professional. The recommendations given here are intended solely as education and information, and should not be taken as medical advice. Neither myself nor the sources mentioned accept liability for those who choose to self-prescribe. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to treat, diagnose or cure any disease either physical or mental.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

"Master of Disguise" Green Smoothie

Best Smoothie for Vegetable Haters!

My mom has been experimenting with different smoothie recipes lately. She purchased a Vitamix and is having fun with it! She has never been one for vegetables. She was traumatized in her childhood when her mom tried to get her to eat vegetables. Since then she won't eat salad, or much of any foods that are green. She describes vegetables as tasting like dirt. She does realize that there are some health risks associated with not eating a healthy diet. So having a Vitamix has helped her incorporate foods into her diet that she would normally NEVER eat. She is now "drinking" her vegetabels in the form of green smoothies. She is a master of making vegetables undetectable in her smoothies. Here's an example of one of her recipes. You can see the video on Youtube .


Master of Disguise Green Smoothie

1/2 cup V-8 fusion juice Acai Mixed Berry (add more juice to thin if necessary)
2 cups collard greens or kale
1 banana
1 cup Organic Antioxidant blend (Costco) Dark Tart cherries, blueberries, pomegranite, raspberries, strawberries mixed
4 or 5 whole frozen strawberries
1 cup frozen bluberries
2 scoops stevia to sweeten

Blend all ingredients on low using toggle.  Adjust speed as needed. Remember to rotate your green leafy vegetables.  That means using a different green leafy vegetable for every juice you make.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Cholesterol Controller Smoothie

Here's a way to use tip number one in a smoothie.  Although it's called Cholesterol Controller, it's good for those who don't have cholesterol imbalances as well.

Vitamin C is key when you are trying to improve your cholesterol.  Kale contains loads of this vitamin. Kiwis are also high in Vitamin C.  Essential fats have also been shown to be helpful for cholesterol.  This is another reason to drink your greens!

Cholesterol Controller Smoothie

1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1 tbsp of nuts/seeds mixture (from top ten tips)
1 kiwi
2 kale leaves
1 banana, frozen
ice if needed
add water to desired consistency
a pinch of stevia if desired

Blend all ingredients and enjoy!



Those seeking help for specific medical conditions are advised to consult a qualified nutrition therapist, clinical nutritionist, doctor, or equivalent health care professional. The recommendations given here are intended solely as education and information, and should not be taken as medical advice. Neither myself nor the sources mentioned accept liability for those who choose to self-prescribe. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to treat, diagnose or cure any disease either physical or mental.

Consultation - Get Your Fats Right

Fat is vital to life.  Without it our bodies would not function properly.   When it comes to fat, many people think in terms of how too much fat can effect your cholesterol and weight.  However, more attention should be given to how fats effect our cells and various functions of the body.   So today we'll do an overview of how to make sure we're getting the right kinds of fats in the diet.

Of the top ten daily diet tips mentioned by Patrick Holford, the first one listed has to do with our daily fat intake.  We'll go through the 'top 10' list one by one, until we've learned how to incorporate all of these foods into  our diet.  Here's tip number one:
Golden Flax Seeds

#1 Take one heaping tablespoon of fresh, raw ground seeds or one tablespoon of cold-pressed oil.

The basic kinds of fats are saturated (hard) fat such as butter and meat.  Saturated fats are not essential.  The two kinds of unsaturated fats are polyunsaturated and monounsaturated.  The latter fats mentioned are essential for optimal health.  Having a quality source of these fats effects the brain and nervous system, immune system, cardiovascular system and skin.  One sign of essential fats deficiency is dry skin. Some health experts point to depression as another side effect of sub-optimal levels of omega-3 and omega-6.

Sources of Unsaturated Fats

The kind of fat found in nuts and seeds is unsaturated fat.  Olive oil is an example of monounsaturated fat and polyunsaturated fat is the type present in nuts and seeds.  Of these, polyunsaturated fats are essential to good health.  The two kinds are linoleic acid, or omega-6, and linolenic acid which is better known as omega-3.  These fats have a profound impact on hormone health creating prostaglandins.  Prostaglandins are essential for proper brain function,which affects vision, learning ability, coordination and mood.  Some prostaglandins are anti-inflammatory and one is pro-inflammatory.  The kinds of fats consumed determine which prostaglandins are made.  They also reduce the stickiness of the blood, control blood cholesterol and fat levels, improve immune function, reduce inflammation, and maintain water balance.   Hormones are either fatlike, called steroid hormones or proteinlike, such as insulin.  They are made from components of your food, and diet can play an important part of keeping your hormones in balance.

What are the best food sources of essential fats?  Fish, nuts and seeds.  The nuts/seeds richest in omega 3 are flax, hemp and pumpkin seeds.  The sources richest in omega-6 include corn, safflower, sunflower and sesame seeds. Corn should always be organic! We'll have to discuss that later.

Due to concerns about toxic metals in fish, many prefer to use a fish oil supplement.  Fish oils contain EPA and DHA.  Nuts and seeds are converted into these acids through processes in the body.  By consuming fish you can bypass these conversions and get a more direct benefit.  The reduced consumption of fish has fueled the epidemics of cardiovascular and mental health problems since both the brain and the body depend on omega-3 fats. The highest amounts of EPA and DHA are found in mackerel, herring, salmon, tuna, sardines, anchovies, marine algae and eggs.  Salmon, and sardines have been shown to have lower levels of metals.  Try to be informed of which fish contain the most metals.

If you don't like nuts and seeds or fish, you can try oil supplements.  For omega-6, you could use borage oil, evening primrose oil or black currant oil.  Look for something that contains at least 100 mg of GLA.  For a fish oil supplement you'll need at least 200 mg of EPA and 200 mg of DHA or 400 mg of these two combined into one pill.

I still recommend eating seeds.  They are abundantly rich is essential fats, minerals, protein and vitamin E.  Here's how to get a 50/50 ratio of omega-3 and omega-6:

  1. Fill a glass jar with an airtight lid, such as a mason jar, half with flax seeds (omega-3) and half with a combination of sesame, sunflower, and pumpkin seeds (rich in omega-6).  
  2. Keep the jar sealed, and place in the refrigerator to help keep the seeds from oxidizing. 
  3. Now you can follow the advice found in tip one of the top ten diet tips.  Grind one heaping tablespoon of seeds and put on cereals, soup.  You can also use in smoothies and salad dressings. 
You can use a coffee grinder, seed grinder or the dry blade container you purchased with your Vitamix.  With the dry blade container you can make almond flour too.  

In a future article, we'll discuss why we should avoid fried foods and especially fats such as shortening and margarine.  
Grind Your Own Fresh Flax Seeds!

Use your ground seeds in the Cholesterol Controller Smoothie above.


The New Optimum Nutrition Bible by Patrick Holford; Fats that Heal-Fats that Kill by Udo Erasmus


Those seeking help for specific medical conditions are advised to consult a qualified nutrition therapist, clinical nutritionist, doctor, or equivalent health care professional. The recommendations given here are intended solely as education and information, and should not be taken as medical advice. Neither myself nor the sources mentioned accept liability for those who choose to self-prescribe. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to treat, diagnose or cure any disease either physical or mental.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Raw Date Snack

Raw Date Nut Bars

Dates are delicious! They have a taste similar to caramel and smell good too. Chances are you’ve tried them even if you think you haven’t since they can be blended into many recipes for natural sweetness. They’re used extensively in raw foods recipes since they mix so well with other ingredients such as, shredded coconut, raisins, peanut butter, chocolate chips, nuts etc.

Raw foods are recommended as a way to keep living enzymes in food. (Aka ‘living foods’) Enzymes which are vital in assisting digestion are destroyed in heat over 118 degrees according to most experts. If you want to improve digestion or increase energy, you may consider including more raw foods into your diet.

These are perfect for a mid-morning snack. If you want to be a true raw-foodist, you’ll need a dehydrator. Mine is an Excalibur 5-Tray that I purchased on e-bay. If you'f like me to see what kind of price I can get for a dehydrator for you, just let me know.

You’ll need:

7-10 medjool dates, seeded
1-2 to one cup raw almonds, soaked overnight and dehydrated between 105-115 degrees overnight or all day
A dash of sea salt
Powdered ginger and cinnamon, optional

Place dates and soaked, dried almonds in a food processor. Add salt and cinnamon if you’d like. Mix until crumbs are small and slightly sticking together but don’t over process. Form into 1-2 inch disks.

Date Nut Peanut Bars

Make as above but add a couple tablespoons of peanut butter in the processor. Blend and form into disks, dehydrate between 105-115 degrees for four hours or so.

Why Soak Your Nuts

If you want to get a major added health benefit from your nuts, soak them!  Soaking nuts in water activates their enzymes, eliminates enzyme inhibitors, and partially digests the protein, thereby increasing their nutritional and hydrating potential.

To soak your nuts, all you have to do is place nuts in a container, cover with water with one or two inches above the top of the nuts, place in the fridge for an hour or two for almonds, or overnight.  Rinse them, and change the water every day.  Eat after two days to keep them from getting moldy under the skins.


The pH Miracle Balance Your Diet, Reclaim Your Health by Robert O. Young and Shelley Redford Young

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Peanut Butter Bliss Shake

Sometimes, I crave peanut butter!  I know that some health experts avoid peanuts, and prefer to stick to almonds and almond butter, but every now and then, I like to splurge.  Since peanuts contain a toxin, it's best to buy organic.  This is another delicious drink you can make in seconds in your Vitamix.

My husband Troy with his Peanut Butter Shake
Peanut Butter Bliss Shake

1/4 cup Greek yogurt, honey flavored
2 heaping tablespoons organic peanut butter
1/2 cup organic 2% milk 
4 ice cubes
2 tbsp. real maple syrup or less 

Put all ingredients in a blender and mix until creamy.

Here are a few peanut butter fun facts:

  • The world's largest peanut butter and jelly sandwich was created November 6th, 1993 in Peanut, Pennsylvania and was 40 ft long. It contained 150lbs of peanut butter and 50lbs of jelly.
  • 96% of people, when making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, put the peanut butter on before the jelly
  • Adults actually consume more peanut butter than kids

Vitamix FREE SHIPPING CODE- 06-005792