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Quinoa

6 Sep

Quinoa has the most protein of any grain, and the highest fat content. It’s a great source of vitamins & minerals.  Quinoa is higher in lysine than wheat, and is considered a complete protein. Quinoa is not really a grain; it is a seed belonging to the Goosefoot family. We cook and eat it like a grain, so that’s why it’s known as a grain.
Red or White? White quinoa is most common, red is less common and more expensive. Red quinoa is harder and holds its shape better, and it has a stronger more earthy taste. Some people think it is more nutritious, but as far as I can tell that’s not necessarily so.

Nutrition Data  1 cup cooked quinoa: 185g: 222 cal; 39g carb; 4g fat; 8g protein; 5g fiber; iron 15% DV; Good source of: Vit E, folate, magnesium, phosphorus, manganese; estimated glycemic load 18

**Because of its high fat content, quinoa should be stored in the fridge or freezer so it doesn’t go rancid.

To Soak or Not to Soak Quinoa: Quinoa naturally comes with a bitter coating called saponin which must be rinsed off. Most quinoa that you buy in the U.S. has been pre-rinsed and dried, but I usually soak it 5 minutes just in case, to loosen up any residue of saponin, or dust or chaff that remains. Skip soaking if you like, but always rinse quinoa.

Quinoa Cooking Directions:

1. You’ll need a 2 quart pot with a tight fitting lid, and a fine mesh strainer

2. Double the recipe if you want to have leftover quinoa for another meal or two

3. Optional: Soak the quinoa for 5 min in the cooking pot. Soaking helps quinoa to cook evenly, and loosens up any residue of saponin (usually removed in processing), which can give a bitter taste

4. To Rinse: Stir the quinoa with your hand, and carefully pour off the rinsing water, using a fine mesh strainer at the last.

5. Drain quinoa well in the strainer, transfer to the cooking pot, add 1 1/2 cups water & 1/4 tsp salt if desired. No salt will make quinoa softer and fluffier, a little salt will make it firmer and it may take a couple extra minutes to cook.

6. Bring to a boil, cover with a tight fitting lid, and turn the heat down to simmer.

7. Cook for 15 minutes.

8. Remove quinoa from heat and allow to sit five minutes with the lid on.

9. Fluff quinoa gently with a fork and serve 🙂

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Pressure Cooker Directions:

1 cup quinoa to 1 1/4 cups water

1. Rinse quinoa, add to pressure cooker with water and 1/4 tsp salt if desired.

2. Lock lid on high pressure setting. Bring up to pressure, reduce heat to simmer, cook on high pressure for 5 minutes.

3. Use natural pressure release

What To Do With Cooked Quinoa:

When I cook quinoa I always make a double batch so I have some left over in the fridge or freezer toquinoa-bb2-150x150 use in other quinoa recipes.

Use the basic quinoa recipe above as a starting point, and substitute quinoa for pasta or rice in almost any meal.

See my favorite Quinoa Recipe, Quinoa & Black Beans HERE

Sprouts

5 Sep

Sprouts are a powerhouse of nutrition and Delicious!!!

Sprouts are not new. They have been grown by many civilizations over the past 5,000 years. The practice of sprouting is becoming more and more popular, and for good reason. This ancient practice, can turn a hard to digest grain, seed, or bean into a food product that your body digests as easy as a vegetable.

Research shows that sprouts are a veritable fountain of youth. Sprouts abound with antioxidants, they are full of protein, chlorophyll, vitamins, minerals and amino acids.

Seriously check it out: Broccoli sprouts have been found to contain 50 times as much of the antioxidant sulfurophane as mature broccoli.

Wheat Grass juice is the closest substance to hemoglobin, and is therefore a phenomenal blood purifier and liver de-toxifier. Sprouts contain enzymes, giving your body a much needed rest as they digest themselves – invigorating you while requiring no help from your body to process them. New research indicates that peanut sprouts reduce harmful cholesterol and that sunflower, buckwheat and grain sprouts dramatically improve the quality of life for diabetics. The list goes on and on.

 

What Can Be Sprouted?

You can sprout just about anything that could be considered a seed. You can sprout vegetable seeds like radishes and broccoli or grain seeds like wheat or quinoa. You can sprout beans like chickpeas or lentils. Anything you might be able to put into the ground to grow into a larger plant can be sprouted.

When purchasing vegetable seeds for sprouting be sure that they are marked “sprouting seeds”. Some seeds are sold with a chemical residue that prevents sprouting.

How Sprouting Works

Put simply, sprouts are the first growth of a seed, before they turn into what will someday become the plants we know and love in our gardens. When you keep the seeds most and warm they begin to sprout and create tiny little plants.

Where once there was a hard to digest seed, after sprouting you have a nourishing plant food. Sprouts are chock full of nourishment including vitamins and minerals, enzymes, and chlorophyll.

Sprouting Equipment: 

You can purchase sprouting kits like THIS one  I use for making sprouts, or you may want to use two pieces of very basic equipment; A wide mouth canning jar and ring lid plus a sprout screen. A quart jar works well for vegetable sprouts and a half gallon jar works well for grains or beans.

 

That’s really all you need besides the seeds themselves and the water you will use to soak and rinse them.        

Cultures for Health has some great kits, lids, and seed packets.

Sprouting How-To: Basic Principles for Any Seed

Whether you wish to sprout broccoli seeds for a fresh addition to your sandwich or wheat grains to make healthier bread, the principle of sprouting remains the same.

1. Soak Sprout Seeds Overnight. Start by rinsing your seeds (vegetable, grain, or bean) in water. Then cover  them with at least four times as much water and allow to soak overnight.

 

 

 

2. Drain and Rinse Seeds. The next morning you are going to dump off the soaking water, rinse with fresh water, and begin the sprouting process. If you are using a jar you will want to invert it at a 45 degree angle over a bowl or other container to allow the water to slowly drain off. If you are using a sprouter just replace the lid. you want to cover or keep them in a dark place at this point.

 

3. Rinse, Drain, Repeat. Two to three times per day you will want to pour water over the sprouts, swirl, shake, & drain well.. Every day your sprouts will grow a bit more until they have filled your entire vessel.

after about 2 days the seeds are beginning to sprout, but they are not ready yet

alfalfa101-150x150*You will want to allow vegetable seeds to grow until they fill the tray. Remove the lid and expose them to the sunlight for a few hours so they can begin to produce chlorophyll and turn green. Grains and beans you may only want to sprout until the tiniest sprout “tail” emerges for best flavor. the length of time it takes the seeds to sprout depends on several factors, mainly temperature; the warmer it is the faster they grow.

 

4. Store Sprouts. When you are satisfied with the length of your sprouts you are ready to store them, either in the refrigerator for vegetable or bean sprouts or, in the case of grains, in a dried state if you wish to grind them.

No matter which type of seed you are sprouting you want the storage point to coincide with a dry point in the sprouting process in order to prevent mold. So don’t rinse them and then cover tightly and store in the refrigerator.

To dry grains you can lay them evenly on a lined dehydrator tray and dry at no more than 145 degrees to preserve enzymes. Or you can simply lay them out on a sheet pan covered with cheese cloth (to prevent bugs) on a warm, dry day. You want the grains to be as dry as they were when you started so they will run easily through a grain mill. You can test them out by simply biting or chopping into one to make sure it is dry and crunchy.

Vegetable sprouts can keep in the refrigerator for around five days, bean sprouts up to a week, and dried grain sprouts indefinitely (though consuming them sooner may enhance their nutrition).

5. Eat Sprouts!!!

Vegetable sprouts can be used in salads, sandwiches, or on top of soups. Mung bean sprouts can be used in stir fries or added to other Asian-inspired dishes. Other bean sprouts can be cooked just as you would regular beans. Sprouted grains can be ground to make everything from bread to biscuits to pancakes.

Sprouting is actually a lot easier than most people think, and only takes minutes of hands-on time. So if you are interested in the benefits of sprouting don’t be intimidated, start sprouting today!

Basic Supplements & Nutrients to Consider

5 Sep

It is impossible to build the walls and roof of a house without first laying a proper foundation. The better your diet is, the more whole/ real foods you eat, the LESS supplements you will need. Pills should never be looked at as your first source of nutrition. 

A healthy diet is your foundation and supplements are to complement your diet to ensure you receive adequate vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber. Supplements are just that- to supplement a healthy diet.

 

1. Wholefood Vitamin Mineral Complex

Vitamins are essential to life. The late Albert Szent-Gyorgi MD Ph.D Nobel prize winner stated, “The whole idea of a vitamin is a paradox, everyone knows things we eat can make us sick, it seems senseless to say something we have not eaten could make us sick. But this is exactly what a vitamin is: a substance that can make us sick or even die by not eating it.

Vitamins are a group of organic compounds that are essential for normal growth, development, and metabolism. Vitamins are produced from living material such as plants or animals, and minerals come from the soil. Vitamins contain no calories, they cannot make you fat; they are not the fuel, but more like the ignition switch that sparks the fuel and keeps the engine running. When vitamins are not present in sufficient quantity, metabolism ceases or is impaired.

Recommendations: Look for a multivitamin supplement from a REPUTABLE company.  Do A lot of research!! You want a multivitamin that is all natural and labeled as ‘whole food’. Read the label and see what is in what you plan to take!!

After reading Eat to Live by Joel Fuhrman and listening to his recommendations , I tried his multivitamin and I really like it. I am not an affiliate of his, but I do really respect his work, there is a ton of science behind it.  I highly recommend his books and his multivitamin. You can read what he has to say about a multi HERE. Because of a gene mutation I have (read about it HERE), it is harder for my body to absorb certain vitamins so I currently take Optimal Multi by Seeking Health. Fuhrman’s & Seeking Health’s multi both use Folate instead of Folic Acid.
       

2. Essential Fatty Acids – EFAs

Omega-3 fatty acids are essential to the body and must be obtained through diet. Fatty fish, such as cod, tuna and salmon are the best source, but they can also be found in some plant sources and in flaxseed, walnuts and soybeans. Most people do not eat enough of these foods to obtain optimal amounts of omega-3 nutrients and will need to supplement.

  • EFAs are important for cardiovascular, immune, reproductive and nervous system health.
  • A primary function of EFAs is the production of prostaglandins, which regulate body functions such as fertility, conception, heart rate, blood pressure, blood clotting, menstrual tissue and the immune system.
  • Needed for the proper inflammatory responses throughout the body.
  • Promotes healthy brain function and may have anti-aging benefits for the brain.
  • EFAs are utilized by cell membranes, where oxygen and nutrients are exchanged.
  • Can support positive effects on cellular reactions during extreme physical challenges.
  • EPA and DHA are well known for their ability to maintain healthy cognitive function, their potential to support healthy moods and their positive impact on joint comfort and flexibility


Watch out for low-cost, low-grade fish oil supplements, which may contain traces of dioxin, mercury, PCBs and other environmental contaminants. Many fish oil products are made with fish from potentially contaminated, close-to-shoreline waters, so it is important to look for one of the highest quality, freshest wild salmon caught from deep, icy cold, pristine waters of Alaska. Alaska is a known leader in seafood sustainability and has the most highly protected, cleanest fish stocks in the world.

Dr. Don Colburn had a great idea- he said to open your fish gel and if it smells or taste rank – it it rank- do not take it.

Chia seeds, Flax Seeds and Flax oil are all  great vegan sources of Omega 3’s.

3.  Calcium/Magnesium/D3 

Magnesium: Many people are deficient in magnesium which vital mineral that the body uses for hundreds of reactions. Every cell in the body needs magnesium in some way, and it is vital for bone, tooth, muscle and joint health as well as for optimal sleep and stress reduction. One of my favorite magnesium products is Natural Vitality’s Natural Calm. It is a beverage you sip on like a tea before bed. It makes me sleep like a baby and my jittery – restless leg disappeared  (my legs did not disappear, the jitters did) when I started drinking it. I use this type of Magnesium because it is a highly absorbable blend of magnesium carbonate and citric acid, which in combination with water, creates ionic magnesium citrate. It is also good because you can start with a small amount and work your way up slowly with it. ** update I got inconstant about drinking Calm at night so I switched to a capsule form (it is just easier for me to remember this way) from Seeking Health- Optimal Magnesium.

Vitamin D3 is essential to maintaining and building strong bones, according to “Foundations and Clinical Applications of Nutrition.” Without vitamin D3, calcium cannot be absorbed by the bones, ultimately rendering the mineral useless. Vitamin D3 supports the immune system and improves its function. Vitamin D3 can assist your immune system in fighting off common illnesses, including colds and the influenza virus, by ensuring that your immune system is working at its highest potential. Without this necessary vitamin, you are likely to experience a greater severity and occurrence of common illnesses. I supplement with 2000 IU to 5000 IU everyday. In addition, I try to make sure I am out in the sun for a limited time each day, which also gives me Vitamin D. Make sure if you purchase Vitamin D you get D3 as cholecalciferol . I use a liquid D3 in Olive Oil from Seeking Health.

Calcium supplementation is something some people need and others do not, depending on individual diet and needs. Calcium is key in the building of new bone. And bone development occurs every day of your life. Just as you shed skin cells and grow new ones to replace them, your body naturally removes old bone and replaces it with new. Gradual bone loss begins in adulthood and becomes more serious after age 50. In women, the hormonal changes of menopause — and the drop in estrogen levels that occur with it — can greatly worsen the imbalance. The bones naturally lose mass, becoming more brittle.

Because calcium isn’t produced by your body, the amount you have depends on supplements or the foods you eat. It is actually quit easy to get calcium through diet. Most people associate only dairy with calcium. While there is a lot of calcium in cows milk, once the milk is pasteurized, this calcium is not well absorbed or utilized in the body. Foods that are high in Calcium include sesame seeds- 1000mg of calcium per 100g serving; chia seeds -631mg of calcium per 3.5 oz serving; dark leafy greens – 100-150mg of calcium per 100g serving; flax seeds – 256mg of calcium per 100g serving; quinoa  – one cup cooked has 60-100 mg of calcium, not to mention a high amount of potassium, zinc and protein; beans- most beans have 42mg of calcium per 100g serving; broccoli- one cup has 74 mg of calcium.

You need approximately 1000 mg – 1200 mg of calcium per day, preferably divided in 2 doses, take with meals if you are supplementing.

4.  Antioxidants 

Antioxidants are substances or nutrients in our foods which can prevent or slow the oxidative damage to our body. When our body cells use oxygen, they naturally produce free radicals (by-products) which can cause damage. Oxidation  is the destructive effect of oxygen (and other oxidizing agents) on the molecular components of our cells. Just as oxygen can cause metals to rust and corrode, it can pull electrons from organic molecules rendering them defective and useless Antioxidants act as “free radical scavengers” and hence prevent and repair damage done by these free radicals.  Health problems such as heart disease, macular degeneration, diabetes, cancer are all contributed by oxidative damage. Antioxidants may also enhance immune defense and therefore lower the risk of cancer and infection.

Antioxidants block oxidation reactions and offer protection to the membranes and other parts of cells. Vitamins C and E are capable of “quenching” free radicals by donating electrons to them. Other micronutrients that act as antioxidants are the mineral selenium and pigments called carotenoids. These include beta-carotene in orange and yellow fruits and vegetables; lycopene in tomatoes, watermelon, papaya and pink grapefruit; anthocyanins in blueberries and other blue and purple fruits and vegetables; and lutein, zeaxanthin and other carotenoids found in carrots and leafy greens. Green tea provides important antioxidants called catechins, and red wine contains resveratrol, an antioxidant from the skin of grapes. Chocolate contains similar compounds (polyphenols) to those in red wine and green tea.

We need dietary antioxidants every day. You do get some antioxidants in your foods if you eat well, but I as insurance against any shortage, I recommend taking a daily supplement to give you a steady supply of these protective compounds.

  •  Antioxidant Drink Mix: I love  FoodScience of Vermont Superior Reds.  I use this in my morning protein shake everyday. It has high ORAC berries to support brain, heart, liver, immune system health and energy levels. It is made from nutrient rich berries, fruits, and potent plant extracts in combination with DMG HCI, Acetyl L-Carnitine, Phosphaidylserin, Resveratrol, Lycopene and Lutein to support immune system function. There are other brands of antioxidant drink mixes that similar -research, research, research though- because some are not worth buying- always make sure you get a quality product!!!.

     

5.   Fiber

Fiber is a type of carbohydrate that makes up the structural material in the leaves, stems, and roots of plants. But unlike sugar and starch—the other two kinds of carbs—fiber stays intact until it nears the end of your digestive system. Fiber molecules are held together by chemical bonds that your body has trouble breaking. In fact, your small intestine—can’t break down soluble or insoluble fiber; both types just go right through you. If you are detoxing or cleansing your body (as you regularly should be!!!) fiber absorbs these toxins and helps your body eliminate them quickly. Adults need 25-35 grams of fiber per day!

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There are two types of Fiber: Soluble and Insoluble, and you need both!! 

Soluble Fiber is fiber that dissolves readily in fluids to form a gel-like material in your digestive tract.This gel can trap certain food components and make them less available for absorption. These fibers have been linked to lowering ‘bad’ cholesterol and regulating of blood glucose levels as it slows the absorption of sugar into your bloodstreamSoluble fiber is found in oats, beans, barley, and some fruits. 

Insoluble Fiber is fiber that does not dissolve in liquids. Its structure is thick and rough so it zips through your digestive tract and increases stool bulk and cleaning house so to speak. If you are losing weight fiberous foods have a fulling effect. Insoluble fiber is found in wheat bran, oat bran, nuts, and many vegetables.

The truth is, God actually handled all of this. Most whole, real foods, in the state they were created by Him, contain a mixture of soluble and insoluble fiber. The inside of apples, for example, provide soluble fiber and the skins are mostly insoluble fiber.

So you need to get fiber from your diet. Fresh fruits and vegetables contain a lot of fiber. . Arrowhead Mills Organic Golden Flax Seeds have 9g per 3 tbsp. Bob’s Red Mill Chia Seeds have 5g per tbsp. Flaxseeds and Chia sees are also chock full of EFAs!! I grind some of these seeds and use them in my shake every morning.

Recommendation: Eat sensibly, but keep up with your fiber intake and make sure you are getting both types. Spread your fiber intake through the day. DO NOT eat 12 bowls of oatmeal for breakfast and think “fiber intake, check”. Favor whole, unprocessed foods. Make sure the carbs you eat are fiber-rich—this means produce,seeds, legumes, and whole grains—to help slow the absorption of sugar into your bloodstream. “The more carbohydrates you eat, the more fiber becomes important to help minimize the wide fluctuations in blood-sugar levels,” says Jeff Volek, Ph.D., R.D., a nutrition researcher at the University of Connecticut. 

Keep a record of what you eat at MyFitnessPal.com (for free) for a while and get a good idea of how much fiber you are getting (as well as proteins and fats).

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.  This post is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. I am NOT a medical Doctor. Please see my FULL DISCLOSURE HERE. 

Nutrition 101

5 Sep

What we NOURISH and FUEL our bodies with will not only affect HOW WE LOOK – but HOW WE FEEL, THINK and ACT. It is important and it is WORTH your time to study and learn all you can about nutrition so you know how and what you need to be eat.

BUT conflicting health and nutrition information can be confusing. How do we know which ‘expert’ is right? How do we know which foods and habits are the best for our particular lifestyle, and health status? Honestly, sometimes even when we KNOW what we should eat, it is hard making healthy choices happen in everyday life.

There IS a lot of conflicting, confusing information surrounding what exactly is a healthy eating plan.  A few statements to establish where I stand or don’t stand.

  •  Crash dieting is never the way to go. You need to figure out what is best for your body, within certain healthy boundaries, and make the choice to develop habits that lead to a lifestyle of eating in a way that nourishes your body.

  •  I don’t believe there is one healthy eating plan (Paleo, Vegan, etc) that is the ONLY way and ‘right’ for all people at all times. God created us different and there is no one size fits all eating plan; However, there are some basic guidelines everyone should follow.

  • In our pursuit of health and wellness we need to be careful we don’t get caught up in perfectionism. We know we need to eat as much unprocessed, whole, live foods as possible to be healthy; and we know most of them should be fruits and vegetables; and they should be organic if possible; and they need to be as fresh as possible- shopping everyday or two is best, and ideally they need to be raw or sprouted, or was that fermented… and all of a sudden we are stressed and confused and we are so overwhelmed we are thinking ‘I can never do this I might as well go have a Big Mack’ 😦 DON’T DO THAT!!! It is OK to make small changes where you can, as you can. Canned vegetables are not ideal- but they beat Pop-tarts every time!! Do the best you can for where YOU are, and grow and improve as time goes on.

The BIG magic eating secret to be healthy is:

EAT REAL FOOD– There are specific foods that our bodies actually need, and then there are other foods that are not only ‘not needed’ by the body, they are quit harmful to it. In general, our bodies need foods that come from plants and animals.

Eat mostly Vegetables, Fruits, Nuts, Seeds, &  some whole grains: Now remember what I said about perfectionism- but ideally you want as much raw organic food as possible. WHY RAW? Raw foods have enzymes. Cooked foods do not.

Enzymes are extremely important. Every system, every process, every chemical reaction in our bodies is initiated and carried out by enzymatic activity. There are thousands and thousands of different types of enzymes that function in our bodies.

Alkalize or Die. A second important reason for eating a diet of mainly raw fruits and vegetables has to do with the bodies need for alkalinity. The human body functions best when our blood is slightly alkaline. All foods burn down after digestion into acid or alkaline ash.  Most cooked foods burn to acid in the body and most raw fruits and vegetables burn to alkaline. Acidic conditions are the forerunner of degenerative diseases & leave the body highly susceptible to parasitic activity (reason enough to eat your veggies don’t you think??)

Fiber & Nutrients are another great reason to eat raw.  Fiber: plants have it, animals do not. Fiber is essential for keeping waste products from getting congested in our intestinal track and eventually our livers. This congestion has been considered a leading cause of cancer and other degenerative diseases.

Eat lean meats and healthy fats. I believe lean meats and healthy fats have value in most of our diets too. Proteins are made up of amino acids that are absolutely essential to every cell function within our bodies. Complete proteins are high-quality proteins that contain the essential amino acids we need for basic body function. These proteins are more easily absorbed by the body and are found in meats, eggs, fish, and poultry. Quality and quantity are huge when considering protein. It is best to only eat meat that has been raised naturally and humanly, such as free range chickens, grass fed beef & non farm raised fish.

I want to be honest and say: I do personally still eat some processed foods BUT I am working to eliminate them. They definitely make up a very small percentage of my total diet.

There is so much more to consider concerning nutrition. Look for posts coming soon about what fats are good fats, different types of fiber and how our bodies use it, is a grain-free diet the way to go for you? , and many more.

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