Avocados – 5 health benefits of this super food in your diet

Avocados – 5 health benefits of this super food in your diet

Avocado a super food gift from nature

Avocado is a unique super food fruit that is very healthy for you. The avocado is different than most fruits in that it has a much higher nutritional value and is considered a ‘superfood’. It is loaded with essential nutrients that are good for your body.  It has many healthy attributes along with a great taste and makes a great addition to your pantry.

Avocado is a positive Paleo food.  If you are not familiar with the Paleo diet or lifestyle, it is a word to describe the ancient cave man diet.  These early hunters and gatherers ate mostly nuts,  berries, meats and other good whole foods, with none of the farmed grains that are part of many mainstream diets. We really love eating Paleo, as it gives us a simple framework to good healthy clean eating. One of the other major benefits we’ve found with Paleo, is we stay satisfied between meals, reducing the need for snacking, and the temptation for less healthy foods.

avocados super food1-Avocados Are Full of Good Nutrients

Avocados have many vitamins and nutrients. Vitamins B, C, K and E all in significant amounts. There is over twelve percent of potassium per serving in these green bumpy fruits; its why they call them a super food! The fruit is also very low in sugar, which has many health benefits, especially keeping inflammation at bay.  The carbs that exist in avocados are mostly dietary fiber. It also contains smaller amounts of trace minerals like zinc, copper and iron. These fruits taste great and they are nutritious too.

chicken-bacon-avocado-lettuce-wrap - super food2-Avocados Contain “Good Fat”

Over seventy percent of calories in avocados are made up of fat.  They contain some protein and NO trans fats.  The good news is this green super-food contains ALL good fats.  This is great for healthy eating. There is only a half gram of saturated fat in this wonderful fruit.  Eating good healthy fats can actually lower your body’s cholesterol, provides a more stable, slow release energy source.
hass-avocado-super food

3-There are no GMO Avocados

There are no varieties of avocados that have been modified in the lab, so you don’t have to worry about your avocados being GMO (Genetically Modified Organism). It’s tough alligator like shell prevents pesticides from making it’s way into the tasty fruit.  This fact puts Avocados onto the clean 15 list each year.  The clean 15 helps to indicate which produce we need to buy organic (the dirty dozen) and which are ok to buy non organic (the clean 15).

Avocado super fruit helps with pregnancy - super food4-Avocados are a natural source of Folate

One of the most important nutrients for expecting mothers is folic acid or folate. Folate is the natural form of this B vitamin and better than having to take the synthetic form. Folate helps to prevent the baby from having any deformities. The lack of this vitamin can also lead to depression in adults. Folate from avocados provides the natural source of the vitamin that is readily absorbed by your body.

green-smoothie-super food5-Avocados Are a Good Replacement for Dairy

They can be used in many of your favorite recipes that require dairy. A good example is to use avocados to make a creamy dressing or instead of butter when baking.  They make great thickener for smoothies or shakes and even work with ice-creams and other deserts as a cream replacement. The durability of the fruit makes it one of the finest super foods you can include in your diet.

 

Below are some of the recipes from our site that contain Avocado

[ultimate-recipe-grid name=”Avocado Recipes” template=”default” images_only=”true” filter=”” multiselect=”true” match_all=”true” match_parents=”true” limit_author=”” limit_by_tag=”ingredient” limit_by_values=”Avocado; Avocado Dip” sort_by=”date” sort_order=”DESC” limit=”30″]What’s your favorite use for avocado in your daily meal plan ?

My Quest for the Best Paleo Bread

The Best Paleo Bread Quest Begins…

My quest for the best paleo bread started because one of the hardest things to give up when you first remove Gluten from your meals is bread. I have found many store bought brands but not all Gluten free breads are created equal. Read the labels and you’ll  find many not so healthy ingredients. Hence my quest for the best Paleo bread began. Not only did it have to taste great, but it had to be easy to make. Suitable for a non-cook, non-baker. There are tons of recipes out there but, as I’m sure you’ve experienced, they don’t all turn out quite like the picture or taste great. After all, isn’t great tasting food what we want?

My 5 rules for recipes

I am not a cook or have ever really enjoyed cooking. In fact, if you told any of my friends or family that I’d be baking my own bread, making my own granola or vegan grounds they would think you were crazy.   Therefore, I have a few ground rules when it comes to making things at home.

  1. Easy, meaning few ingredients, few utensils, and no complicated cooking methods. Sifting is as complicated as I get.
  2. Reusable ingredients. I have to be able to use the ingredients in other recipes which means they need to be pretty basic cupboard items.
  3. Meals have to be pan/stove to table in under 30 minutes. For baked items and some of my staples like granola and vegan grounds, I’m willing to allow more time because I’ll be saving time in prep during the week.
  4. Has to be nutritionally balanced and accommodate an average breakdown of 20% carb, 55% fat, 25% Protein. ( as a meal or full day breakout not always as an individual item)
  5. Has to taste great! ( defined as I would want seconds)

Over the years, I’ve found a few that fit the bill. They each have a different texture and taste which means they are better suited with some foods or condiments then others. Here are a few of my favorite finds, links to where I’ve found them (if available) and the meals or snacks I’ve used them with.

  • Flax Bread: Maximized Living. Has a very earthy flavor and spongy texture. Works best with hearty meals like soups, sausage sandwiches and burgers. Also works well as a fried egg sandwich and I enjoy it toasted with a bit of almond butter.
  • Coconut flour bread: All Just Choice. This is one I’ve experimented with combining a few recipes and baking tips. Lighter in texture then the flax meal bread. Not as dense and a bit sweeter. It’s great with dairy free butter and natural preserves. Still a great option with eggs and makes good French toast. Yum!
  • Jalapeno Skillet Corn bread: The Recipe Hacker. Yes, it’s Paleo and there is NO corn! We ate this with soup or a vegan chili but to be honest, I would eat it for desert. I have to make it now without the Jalapeno’s (nightshade) but it is still just as good. It’s a little more effort ( ok 2 steps vs 1) but was extremely worth it.

While all the above are great in their own right, none really worked well as a basic sandwich bread that I would use for a PBJ (Peanut Butter and Jelly) sandwich. I have to admit, I do miss those and it’s such a staple lunch box option. I started to wonder if my quest was doomed, could there be a ‘best paleo bread’ or would I never find a replacement for basic sandwich bread I used to enjoy?  Then I came across a Paleo bread recipe from Elana’s Pantry. She has a great site full of a variety of Paleo friendly recipes.

I have to admit, I was a little hesitant at first. The coconut flour bread had become my default go to bread because it tasted great and had only a few ingredients. I was looking for ways of upping the protein content, bread after all, no matter which way you slice it, will always be higher in carbs than protein.  At first glance, Elana’s recipe looked more intense but when I compared the breakdown, it won out so I gave it a try. In actuality, all the ingredients are staple items in my kitchen and once I put it all together it was just as quick and easy as the other Paleo bread recipes. When I compared the nutritional breakdown, Elana’s recipe won out.

 

BreakdownElana’s Paleo BreadPaleo Coconut Flour BreadMaximized Living Flax BreadThe Recipe Hacker Jalapeno Corn Bread
Calories / slice11394221*337
Carb %12201519
Fat %71696970
Protein %17111610

*to be fair, the slices are large but in all honesty you wouldn’t want them any smaller J

 

The final result of the best paleo bread…drum roll…..

Elana’s Pantry is the best Paleo Bread! It was moist and not overpowering with flavors which makes it a great option for PBJ.  My version of PBJ, is really ABJ (Almond Butter & Jam).  I add a tablespoon for Almond Butter and a tablespoon of Mrs. Miller’s homemade Guava Jam. This jam is made with all natural ingredients. Not to mention I love guava and it reminds me of growing up as a kid in Hialeah. My inner child was extremely happy at 371 calories. Our Avocado dip was great on some thinner slices toasted. Imagine using it for bruschetta?! Give the paleo breads a try and let me know what you think along with how you chose to pair them.  I can’t wait to hear about your creations!

 Coming up Next … the quest for the best Paleo Vegan Bread. This one is in the making and I could use your help. If you have a favorite Paleo Vegan Bread recipe that fits all the “rules”, Please comment below. I will post the outcome next month… the saga continues.

 

Clean Cabbage Slaw: The breakdown

Clean Cabbage Slaw

Just what makes our Clean Cabbage Slaw so healthy ?

Our Clean Cabbage Slaw (link leads to the recipe), shown here with Shrimp and dehydrated beet chips is as versatile as it is healthy. We have a very eclectic family. While we love Paleo, we all have a slightly different versions based on our food choices. We have carnivores, a pescatarian and a vegan. This works for everyone! You can eat it on it’s own or add, shrimp, chicken, avocado or whatever takes your fancy. We’ve also taken it on some of our picnics.  Originally based on our Lime and Walnut Cabbage Slaw, we just made a few modifications based on what was in the house. Swapped the walnuts for pecans and the lime for lemon, added carrot and red onions.

Cabbage

  • cabbage-493308_1280Part of the cruciferous family, rich in fiber and has been shown to cure stomach ulcers.
  • The Red variety is loaded with antioxidants which reduces inflammation, boosts brain function and cancer protection. While the other varieties contain these benefits, red cabbage has shown to have 6X the amount as its green and white counterparts. So, mix it up for better health.
  • Known to be a natural way to reduce cholesterol, it prevents bile from absorbing fat after a meal.
  • It contains glucosinolates , which studies suggest inhibit the growth of cancer cells.

Red Onion

  • red-onions-vegetables-499066_1280A source for quercetin, allicin and chromium.
  • Quercetin has antioxidant properties and has anti cancer, anti fungal and anti bacterial properties. Onion juice is often used as a natural remedy for ear infections.
  • Allicin, when crushed, is known to prevent and treat cancer and reduce high blood pressure and good for cardiovascular health.
  • Chromium helps control glucose levels and why onions have a low glycemic index. Some evidence suggests, a chromium deficiency can make weight loss more difficult or even cause weight gain.

Carrots

  • carrots-673184_1280Loaded with Vitamin A and rich in Beta-carotene which is known to protect against macular degeneration and support night vision
  • Reduce the risk of lung cancer breast cancer and colon cancer. Carrots produce a natural pesticide called falcarinol which may be the cause for the anticancer properties.
  • Beta-carotene is an antioxidant and which helps slow down the aging process.
  • Vitamin A and antioxidants promote healthier skin by protecting against sun damage, premature wrinkles, and the skins overall appearance. It can even be used as a facemask with a little bit of honey

Lemon

  • lemon-684203_1280Loaded with vitamins and minerals here are just a few: Vitamin C, B6, Thiamin, Fiber, Copper, Calcium
  • Eases pain of sunburn and bee stings
  • Works as a natural detox to flush out toxins and promote weight loss
  • Natural dandruff remedy and increases shine to hair
  • Solves problems with constipation and indigestion
  • Cold remedy and fever reducer

Almond oil

  • IMG_20150702_113522Excellent source for Vitamin E and contains Vitamins A , D and polyunsaturated fatty acids which has shown to reduce the effects of UV exposure on the skin.
  • It is great for the digestive system and acts as a mild laxative to keep you regular
  • Improves the absorption of Vitamin A and K which makes it a perfect partner for this meal
  • Improves brain and nervous system function
  • Regular use can lower cholesterol
  • Good for heart health as it contains potassium and magnesium and is high in monounsaturated fats

Pecans

  • pecans-139711_1280Good source of fiber promoting digesting health. Reduces risk of colitis, colon cancer and hemorrhoids
  • Contains heart healthy monounsaturated fats and phenolic antioxidants which have been found to prevent coronary artery disease and strokes.
  • Contains phosphorus for bone and teeth health. This mineral is essential for cell and tissue repair and can prevent muscle pain after exercise.
  • Rich in magnesium which has anti-inflammatory benefits. Magnesium has been known to be effective in reducing the risk of Alzheimer, arthritis, cardiovascular disease. Also lowers blood pressure and reduce the risk of stroke.
  • Pecans contain oleic acid which is also present in olive oil. In addition to lowering LDL it is a good source of antioxidants. Oleic acid has been found to reduce the risk of breast cancer.

There you have it. Loaded with flavor, nutrient dense and at only 408 calories for a full meal with shrimp, a winner all the way around. Try it out for yourself. Looking forward to hearing what you think.

 

Source:

http://www.healwithfood.org/health-benefits/eating-red-onions.php#ixzz3ehUiBZws

http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=19

http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=19

http://www.care2.com/greenliving/10-benefits-of-carrots.html#ixzz3ehZYfHHQ

http://www.zliving.com/beauty/skincare/almond-oil-the-secret-behind-the-8-million-dollar-hands-3268/

http://naturalsociety.com/health-benefits-of-pecans-7-reasons-eat-pecans/#ixzz3ekPugJQo

Who Else Wants To Eat Chocolate and Lose Weight?

Seriously, eat chocolate and lose weight?

eat chocolate and lose weight
Get Your Daily Recommended Dose

There is scientific evidence to prove the statement ‘eat chocolate and lose weight’. Now before you rush to the cupboard or the store, there are a few clarifying facts you should know. This isn’t a bait and switch, you just need to ensure you have the right recipe to achieve the maximum benefits from this glorious antioxidant rich food. Yes, I classify it as a food. First, it’s not just ANY chocolate. Dark chocolate (look for 65-70% cocao) has proven health benefits. Cocao, has one of the highest levels of antioxidants loaded with flavonoids. It actually contains 5X more flavonoids then an apple! It enhances metabolism through the effect it has on the absorption and digestion of fats and carbohydrates making you feel fuller faster. In addition, it will lesson your cravings for sweet, salty, fatty foods. As if that wasn’t enough, and for most people, you may want to stop right here, but I insist you must read on.  A word of caution before we proceed. Cocao is the hero here. It does have a bitter taste, so the butter and sugar often added to cocao to sweeten the flavor is what you need to watch out for. You still need to practice moderation. Suggested dosage, don’t you just love that term, is 7 ounces of dark chocolate a week or one once per day.

 

Seriously, eat chocolate and lose weight? Click To Tweet

So, what do you look for?

According to the University of Michigan School of Integrative Nutrition you can eat chocolate and lose weight – who by the way, has dark chocolate listed in their “healing foods pyramid”

Use the following guidance:

  • > 60% cocoa
  • Made from cocoa butter instead of fats such as palm and coconut oils. Although cocoa butter does contain significant amounts of saturated fat in the form of stearic acid, it has been shown to have a neutral effect on cholesterol unlike the saturated fat in both palm and coconut oils.
  • Made without the use of ‘hydrogenated’ or ‘partially hydrogenated’ oils, which are known to negatively impact cholesterol
  • Darker is better: phytochemicals, like flavonoids, contribute to pigment. More flavonoids means darker chocolate and potentially greater health benefits.
  • Chocolate is only as good as its ingredients; look for dark chocolate made from organic or fairly traded cocoa beans (Find a list of fair trade certified chocolate producers at: http://www.transfairusa.org/)

Also, worthy to note that milk acts as an inhibitor. In multiple studies, caseins (the protein found in milk) binds to polyphenals negating the positive antioxidant effects. Apparently the same is true for other antioxidant rich items such as tea and blueberries. Use dairy free milk alternatives instead such as almond milk, hemp, or coconut milk.

Another word of caution, cocao is high in oxalates. People who experience kidney issues and are susceptible to kidney stones should avoid oxalate producing foods. Cocao does contain caffeine and although research is inconclusive, it has been linked as a trigger for migraines in some people. Eating chocolate and losing weight may not be possible for those who should suffer from the issues mentioned and it is best to seek medical advice if you are unsure.

The  Mayans considered it a cure-all

Reduce stress: A finnish study showed that women who ate chocolate during pregnancies, experienced less stress and their babies were happier and smiled more. Keep in mind this is because stress itself can leave an imprint on the fetus, although I suggest you do your own research and may want to continue to have your daily dosage to relieve stress over the next 18 years. Just a thought. Chocolate was also found in a Swiss study to reduce stress hormone levels in subjects who were very anxious.

Helps control insulin levels: An Italian study: “Flavonoids increase nitric oxide production,” says lead researcher Claudio Ferri, M.D., a professor at the University of L’Aquila in Italy. “And that helps control insulin sensitivity.” Again, before taking any supplements (I’m referring to the chocolate here) please consult with your health care professional.

Improved alertness and brain activity: Researches at Oxford University, Norway and the University of Nottingham found that drinking cocoa rich in flavanols boosts blood flow to key parts of the brain for 2 to 3 hours. Next time you have a big test, presentation or an interview don’t forget your dose of dark chocolate. Make it peppermint dark chocolate and you’ll get a double bonus.

Sun protection: Yes, I didn’t see this one coming. According to London researchers chocolate flavanols’ sun-protecting capabilities. Subjects who ate chocolate with high levels of flavanols took twice as long for their skin to develop the reddening effect that indicates the beginning of a burn. So in addition what we’ve learned in the article on sunscreen, you can prepare for your next sunny holiday by adding dark chocolate to the list.

Cough suppressant: One study found that chocolate quieted coughs almost as well as codeine without the side effects of feeling sleepy and foggy. This may be due to theobromine, found in chocolate which may suppress the vagus nerve in the brain. Chocolate vs codeine, natural remedies are not only healthier, they can be tastier too.

Don’t forget your daily dose

So, there you have it. A metabolism booster so you can eat chocolate and lose weight and so much more. It’s no wonder this rich and creamy commodity has been coveted by people for thousands of the years. The Aztecs even used it as money. Just be sure to watch out for added sugars and take note of the list above of what to look out for when reading labels. I typically reserve my dose for the weekends for items like chocolate chip vegan cookiesguilt free chocolate mousse or to add to our Paleo Thai pancakes. Enjoy!

Sources:

http://www.womenshealthmag.com/nutrition/chocolate-facts?

http://www.med.umich.edu/umim/food-pyramid/dark_chocolate.html

http://www.naturalnews.com/025670_tea_milk_polyphenols.html