Tag Archives: health food

Superfoods

If you open any food magazine or read current articles on food, you will find several lists of food that we should be eating regularly.  These foods are good for our health in so many ways.  And, a lot of these lists overlap.  Well, here is a list of superfoods from http://www.everydayhealth.com.  I especially like these superfoods because they are all wheat and dairy free!

Why Are They So Super?

Here is the list and how you can incorporate these superfoods into your diet:

1.  Avocados have tons of “good” fat to help the heart, skin, and eyes, as well as stabilize blood sugar.  Guacamole is always a crowd pleaser… chop up some avocados and add chopped tomatoes, chopped onion, lime juice, and crushed red pepper.  I also like to add avocados to salads, mix avocados with tofu in the morning, or have a simple tomato and avocado salad drizzled with balsamic vinegar at night with dinner.

2.  Apples have those powerful antioxidants and lots of fiber… but you have to keep the skin on.  The saying still holds that eating an apple a day keeps the doctor away.  The best way to keep the fiber and antioxidants is to eat an apple raw… just pop one in your lunch, or slather some peanut butter on apple slices for an afternoon snack.  For breakfast, I like to eat chicken sausages with sliced apple already in them.

3. Blueberries are good for our brains and are full of antioxidants.  I usually buy bags of frozen berries and put them in the blender with a half of a banana and my favorite juice for an afternoon smoothie.  I have a smoothie almost everyday; they are refreshing and filling.

4. Cabbage can prevent cancer and helps the immune system.  Unless you like eating cooked cabbage, it can be hard to find ways to eat it.  Try making cole slaw, like my Thai Cole Slaw, or chopping it up and adding it to salads.  You won’t even know its there, but it will add a nice crunch to salad greens.

5.  Fish is a great alternative to red and white meat and has great fatty acids.  My favorite fish recipe is Thai Salmon.  My mother likes making fish with a simple mustard, mayo, and bread crumb topping.

6.  Garlic is great for your breath heart.  It helps lower cholesterol and prevents heart attacks.  What doesn’t garlic go on?  To make it easy, I like the garlic that comes already chopped up in a squeeze tube.

7.  Mushrooms are good for the immune system and help blood pressure.  Mushrooms are a great addition to any meal… in an omelette, on salad, stuffed in chicken, folded into tomato sauce, or steamed as a veggie side.

8.  Almonds are high in fiber and “good” fat.  But, be careful because they are high in calories if not eaten in moderation. Because I can’t eat regular bread crumbs anymore, I like to grind up almonds (or any nut) and coat chicken/ turkey cutlets or breasts, as if they were bread crumbs.  See my Raspberry Almond Turkey Cutlets.  Almonds make a great crust, and add some fiber to the meat.

9.  Eggs are great for protein and amino acids.  I can’t eat whole eggs anymore, but used to eat one everyday for breakfast.  It helped lower my cholesterol and held my hunger over until lunchtime.  Now, I will occasionally eat egg whites in moderation for their protein value.

10.  Flaxseed has wonderful vitamins and fiber.  It is a true superfood.  I love grinding flaxseed into a powder, and sprinkling it on anything that needs extra nutritional value… salads, cereal, smoothies, or even breading on chicken.

11.  Pomegranates have antioxidants to help with aging and protect against cancer.  They seem to becoming increasingly popular.  You can eat the fruit itself, or I usually buy 100% cranberry and pomegranate juice to put in my smoothies.  For a Friday night, you can’t go wrong with a pomegranate martini… at least it has some health benefits!

12.  Red wine has been the topic of many articles on cardiovascular health.  In moderation, it seems to help heart health.  I like to marinate read meat in red wine… or just drink a glass with dinner after a long day!  Just what the doctor ordered.

13.  Dark Chocolate also has antioxidants and less calories than milk chocolate.  I recently found pure dark chocolate pieces at Starbucks… a perfect treat for someone who has been missing out on traditional desserts!  I actually couldn’t eat the whole bar because I wasn’t used to it, but it hit my sweet tooth perfectly.

Happy Allergy Free Eating!

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A sweet secret

Shhhh…. I have a sweet secret.  It’s called Agave Nectar.  Ok, so I might have given that one away too quickly.  But not many people have heard about this wonderful little sweetener and I want to make it more popular.

Even before my allergies forced me to eat a more natural diet, I was cautious about sweeteners.  I did the whole “diet” sugar thing and used artificial sweeteners in my coffee.  But after a while, it bothered me.  I barely even looked at the research that claims artificial sweeteners cause cancer and other health risks; I just didn’t like the idea of putting so many chemicals in my body.  Artificial sweeteners don’t taste natural because they aren’t.  It was a conscious decision to not use artificial sweeteners anymore if I could avoid it.  No more Equal.  No more soda.  More reading labels.

I didn’t notice an obvious benefit to my health, I just felt better that I wasn’t putting chemicals in my body.  So, I turned to sugar.  Sugar does have calories, but I was willing to take the extra calories if it meant I was chemical free.  But even sugar isn’t that great.  It is bleached and processed, and has a high glycemic index.  This high glycemic index means that it raises your blood sugar really quickly and can cause a “sugar crash”  and make you even more hungry.  So now what?

Agave Nectar!  My mom told me about this sweet secret and I decided to give it a whirl.  I bought some and used it in my coffee.  Sweet!  It looks like honey, and has a dense sweet flavor.  It does have calories, but you really don’t need that much because it is so sweet.  It is also all natural.  The ingredients are literally “agave nectar” which has not been processed.  And it has a low glycemic index.  (Sugar has a glycemic index of over 60, and agave nectar’s is under 30.)  So, it is processed in your bloodstream more consistently.  Think of its possibilities…. coffee, oatmeal, smoothies, cocktails, baking… anywhere you normally use sugar.  Here is more information about agave nectar. I hope you try it and feel good about what you are putting into your body!  I do.

Here is a mojito recipe using agave nectar.  (My arm really had to be twisted to try this out 🙂 )

In a bowl, crush together a handful of mint leaves, 1 tbsp. of agave nectar, and the juice of one lime and blend the flavors.  In a cocktail glass, add  1 or 2 shots of citrus rum, two cups of club soda, and the mint/agave/lime juice mixture.  Add a few ice cubes, stir, and enjoy!

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Dairy Allergy? SOy what?

Milk does a body good, right?  Well…

I was talking with a close friend yesterday who wants to eliminate dairy from her diet for health reasons, including eczema.  I eliminate dairy because of my allergies.  Kathie Lee Gifford eliminates dairy because it makes her throat have excess phlegm, which is not good for her morning talk show.  Sounds like there are a variety of reasons to eliminate dairy.

Dairy has so many nutritional components, namely protein and calcium, and yet is also the culprit of many health problems.  Enter the soybean!  

Well, soy also has great nutritional benefits as an alternative for those of us who can’t handle dairy.  When I first had to pour my container of cow milk down the drain, it took some guts to buy soymilk.  I knew it would taste different, but like everything else, I have gotten used to it.  Not only have I grown to like the taste, but I have also learned about the wonderful health benefits of soy… and have never looked back at that container of milk down the drain.

The soybean is native to Eastern Asia, and has been used in Asian cooking for centuries.  (Soy sauce, anyone?)  Now, Brazil and the US are mass producers of it.  The power of the soybean is that it packs in both protein and fiber, but is a plant.  It is a superfood.  Our culture generally looks towards meat and milk for protein power, but these also come with a hefty saturated fat content and harm all those cute little animals.  So, not only is the soybean great because it is environmentally friendly, but it has great nutritional value without the fat.

Comparing ourselves to other cultures, we are one of the few cultures that drinks milk from a cow (which is actually intended for baby cows), and drinks milk past infancy.  Look at the Asian culture where the soybean originated… is primarily dairy free, and most Asian women have beautiful skin, glossy hair, and lean bodies.  Coincidence?

The soybean itself has other benefits… such as reducing cholesterol and blood pressure, warding off certain cancers, maintaining hormone levels, providing healthy omega-3 acids, and aiding in weight loss.  All packed into a little bean!

My favorite soy products are Silk products, edamame, and tofu.  Yes, tofu.  You really should give tofu a try at least once.  And not just out of the container (gross!), but cooked as part of a meal.  My new favorite breakfast is “Tofu Scramble” where I cut up chicken sausage and tofu, and saute them together as I would scramble an egg and sausage.  A little fresh salsa on top, and there is a perfect protein packed and low cal breakfast.

Yes, there still remains some controversy about soy, just as there is with everything.  However, it seems that the benefits are limitless, and the prevalence of soy in our society speaks to its power.  Just as with everything we put into our bodies, we need to be mindful of how it affects us and it seems that soy is beating milk in the nutritional race.

Articles that I found interesting and helpful:

Soy Nutrition

Women’s Health

Pros and Cons of Cow Milk

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Flaxseed to the rescue

I have recently discovered an allergy friendly superfood.  Flaxseed.  Bet you didn’t see that one coming.

Before food allergies, I ate the same breakfast everyday.  One egg, a piece of toast or half engligh muffin, OJ, and coffee.  Once I learned about my food allergies, that breakfast became a fond memory.  (After hearing about my allergies, a friend even said to me,”You are allergic to eggs?  But you eat one everyday!”  My thoughts exactly.)  I discovered Van’s gluten free waffles thanks to my mother (who always has a knack for the delicious), and soon discovered that most Chex cereals are also gluten free.  Ok, so two choices for breakfast now.  Chex cereal and soy milk are perfect for the morning rush, but cereal just doesn’t hold my hunger until lunch like the protein- filled egg breakfast I used to eat.

Enter flaxseed.  I have heard about flaxseed before as well as its health benefits.  So, while at Whole Foods, I decided to give it a whirl.  I bought some and sprinkled it on my cereal.  Doesn’t taste like anything, but those seeds sometimes get caught in my teeth.  What if I put them in the food processor?  Instant flaxseed powder.  I sprinkle a few tablespoons on my cereal, and I am seriously full at breakfast.  Just adding that tiny ingredient has made all the difference in my breakfast.  It must have super powers.

Actually, upon recent research, I realized that flaxseed does have super powers. It helps lower cholesterol and blood pressure, it helps prevent cancer, it aids your immune function, it expands in your belly and can help with weight loss, and it helps balance women’s hormones.  The list goes on.  Here are some helpful articles (article 1 and article 2) I found about the benefits of flaxseed.  Who knew this seed has been around for centuries and we are just now realizing how great it is for us?!

Once I realized how great flaxseed is for our bodies, I started to notice it in more food items- my Van’s waffles have ground flaxseed in them (no wonder they are so delicious!), the granola I put in my yogurt has flaxseeds in it, gluten free flours sometimes have ground flaxseed in them, and now I sprinkle it on my cereal and sometimes in smoothies.  One of the best secrets I have discovered about flaxseed is that if you combine flaxseed powder and water in a ratio of 1 to 3, you can use it to replace one whole egg in any recipe.  Flaxseed to the rescue!

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