Better Bites

My experiments in healthy eating, cooking, and living

Archive for the tag “Healthy fats”

Raved About Healthy Blueberry Scones Made with Spelt Flour

Blueberry scones 1

After reading the title, you already know these blueberry scones have been raved about. I made them twice in one weekend when I went up to Boston with my family and they were promptly gobbled up each time. I was also asked for the recipe multiple times, which I take as a good sign, but watch out, if you make them once you are bound to be asked to make them again (and again – and for good reason too).

This recipe produces light, fluffy scones that you don’t need to feel bad about eating. With only 1/3 of a cup of oil and 1/3 of a cup of agave nectar per recipe these are fairly guilt-free. The whole spelt flour produces a lighter scone than white or all purpose flour would and unlike wheat flour these scones don’t have the heartiness or the taste of being a whole grain (which I find as a plus when it comes to baked goods). They are also incredibly moist and a few anti-scone family members even enjoyed them (and came back for seconds). My dad (who sometimes acts like a foodie, but isn’t – but is still full of “helpful” criticisms) even said they were the best scones, which is what I consider a huge accolade coming from him. The word “best,” is uttered very sparingly by him.

I found the recipe on Shannon’s amazing blog (which you should check out if you haven’t – it’s full of wonderful recipes, musings on running, book reviews, and more), Move Eat Create, and only made a couple of changes. I used vegan buttery spread by Earth Balance instead of using hazlenut or coconut oil, which I found to produce a more flavorful and lighter scone (as I have used coconut oil in making these scones in the past, but I can’t speak to using hazlenut oil, as I haven’t used it). I also used fresh blueberries, which I felt made all the difference in the world. They just added this little pop of sweetness, as they are now in peak season in New England. Read on for the slightly altered recipe below.

Blueberry scones 2

Healthy Blueberry Spelt Flour Scones: 

*Recipe from Shannon’s blog titled Move Eat Create (find the link to the recipe in the paragraph above)

*Makes about 9-10 scones

Ingredients:

2 cups whole spelt flour

1 tbsp baking powder

1/2 tsp of fine grain sea salt

1/3 cup of Earth Balance buttery spread, melted (sub with butter if you aren’t trying to make them vegan, and if you want to be a bit healthier but still not have them be vegan, you can use 1/6 cup melted butter 1/6 cup vegetable oil combination)

1/3 cup of light agave nectar

1 tbsp vanilla extract

1/4 cup hot water

3/4 fresh blueberries

Method: 

1- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

2- Meanwhile, mix the dry ingredients and stir with a whisk to ensure they are well combined.

3- Then, after melting the 1/3 cup of buttery spread, combine the melted buttery spread, agave nectar, and vanilla extract. Stir once and then pour over the spelt mixture. Gently mix together.

4- Add the hot water and again gently mix until it’s combined (try not to over mix spelt flour).

5- Gently fold the fresh blueberries into the batter. Use a 1/4 cup measure to spoon batter onto a parchment-lined baking sheet (to ensure that the scones will be the same size). Bake the scones for 15-20 minutes or until they are golden brown on top. These kept well in an air tight container for 3-4 days. I stored mine in the fridge and heated them in the microwave or toaster before eating.

If you missed my other scone recipes here are the links for my raspberry chocolate chip spelt flour scones and my ginger peach spelt flour scones. Enjoy!

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Kale & Avocado Hummus Served with Paprika-Spiced Pita Chips and a Social Eating Weakness

Kale, & Avocado Hummus

When I think about going to college, I think about how much fun I had with my roommates. One of my roommates, Tanya, and I always had tons of laughs when we were together. At one point we also made Spongebob and Patrick shaped pancakes for breakfast.

One of the things Tanya used to make fun of me for was my social eating habit or at least that’s what we called it. I was never one to enjoy the cafeteria food and I always had a decent-sized stash of food in the apartment (though at that time I was famous for making English muffin pizzas and breakfast for dinner more than I was for making healthy meals).

A social eating weakness, for those of you who are wondering, is when you drop what you’re doing (at all costs – you could be writing an important paper or talking on the phone) to eat and chat with people. For me, this problem really made itself known while I was at college during my sophomore year living while with three roommates in a tiny apartment with white-painted cinder block walls (if you’re visualizing it now and thinking it looked like a prison, you would be half right – the other half was filled with mismatch college decor). While discovered this urge to eat with others while in college, I think it stemmed from my Italian roots (those people are always forcing food on you, whilst yelling usually).

I didn’t start college as a social eater. No, this problem developed when I moved into the apartment with a small kitchen-living area. As we were in college, we all had different class, work, and eating schedules, but if anyone went into the kitchen and was making a meal I was there too. I just couldn’t resist eating and socializing with others. I did this even if I wasn’t hungry. The act of eating and talking just came so naturally to me (the two seem to go hand in hand).

My social eating habits brought me to share this recipe because it is perfect to eat with others. The dip’s creamy texture and mild flavor balance out the spicy, crisp pita chips. I brought this kale and avocado hummus to a July 4th party and it was devoured by the many guests at the party, as well as by me. Appetizers are my weakness, as are desserts (as is social eating). Does anyone else have this problem or am I alone in this?

Kale & Avocado Hummus 2

Kale & Avocado Hummus:

Ingredients:

1 can of cannellini beans or garbanzo beans (I used cannellini)

1 avocado, halved and diced

2 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil

2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped

1/2 lemon, juiced

salt and pepper to taste (roughly 1/4 tsp of sea salt and freshly ground pepper, or more to taste)

3-4 leaves of kale, ribs removed and roughly chopped (you could try another green like spinach or arugula)

Method:

Add all of the ingredients except for the kale into a food processor. Blend on high until the mixture is well combined and fairly smooth. Then add in the kale. Blend again on high until the kale becomes chopped into tiny pieces or is not visible at all. Serve alongside the spiced pita chips or for a gluten-free option serve with corn chips.

Paprika-Spiced Pita Chips:

Ingredients: 

1 package of pita bread, about 4-5 thick pitas

2(+) tbsp of olive oil (or more depending)

1 tsp of smoked paprika

1/2 tsp of garlic powder

1/4 tsp of sea salt and freshly ground pepper

1/8 of a tsp of cayenne pepper

Method:

1- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Then slice your pita bread into triangles by cutting each pita in half and than slicing triangular shapes by cutting from the middle out to the edge of the pita with a knife.

2- Once the pitas are cut, add them to a mixing bowl. Then drizzle the olive oil over the pitas (making sure not to only pour it in one spot). Sprinkle the spices over the pita. Then mix the pita with the olive oil and spices, making sure each pita piece is evenly coated.

3- Bake for about 15 minutes and then flip each pita piece. Bake for another 15-20 minutes (or until both sides are golden brown). Taste a pita chip and add a little extra salt and pepper if necessary. Serve alongside the avocado hummus. Enjoy!

Loaded Southwestern Bruschetta

Loaded Southwestern Brushetta

Just by looking at that picture, you know this is a messy recipe. If you mind getting your hands dirty,then your’e better off looking, rather than enjoying this loaded southwestern bruschetta. I am not afraid of getting my hands or face a little dirty and so I dug in. Like so many other foods, the messiness of the dish was entirely worth it. Think about it, would you avoid an ice cream cone or popsicle in the summer just to keep clean? I think not. Therefore, loaded southwestern bruschetta is a deliciously messy idea. What are some of your favorite finger-licking-good foods?

Thinking about messy summer foods reminds me of my favorite cold treat. Growing up, I was  nearly addicted to toasted almond ice cream (the kind that comes neatly wrapped, on a stick, and sprinkled with toasted almond flavored pieces). Anytime there was an ice cream truck that came by, it was guaranteed I would order a toasted almond frozen treat. I would sit at the beach eating my half melted ice cream pop, not even caring that half of it was on my hands and that the seagulls above were eyeing me. When I was finished, I only longed for more. Maybe that is why I’m also crazy for the Almond Joy.

*Find my Almond Joy Bar post here (recipe from Rawmazing) and my Almond Joy Popcorn recipe here. For an Almond Joy-inspired breakfast treat, try my Almond Joy Overnight Oats recipe (click here for the recipe).

Loaded Southwestern Bruschetta:

*Makes enough topping for about 1/2 a loaf of bread, sliced (I used a wheat loaf from Whole Foods, as I have yet to tackle making my own bread)

Ingredients:

1 avocado

1/2 tsp of garlic or more to taste (1/4 tsp for the bean/corn mixture and 1/4 tsp for the avocado spread)

1/4 tsp of salt and pepper (for the avocado spread)

1/2 of a lime, juiced

2 tsps of olive oil

1 portobello mushroom cap, diced fairly small (1/4 inch pieces)

1/2 cup of black beans

1/2 cup of corn

1 medium tomato, diced

1/4 tsp of salt and pepper (for the bean/mushroom mixture)

1/4 tsp of chili powder

a tiny pinch of cayenne pepper

1/2 a loaf of whole wheat bread, sliced into thick pieces

Method:

1- First, make the avocado spread by halving the avocado. Then scoop out the green fruit’s ripe flesh into a bowl. Add the spices and the juice of  the lime. Mix well. Then set aside in the fridge to let the flavors combine.

2- Over medium heat, add olive oil to a pan. When the pan is hot, add the diced mushroom pieces. After a couple of minutes add the corn, tomato pieces, black beans, and spices. Stir and heat until the corn is warmed through (if using frozen corn) or until the mushrooms are fully cooked. Put a lid on for the last minute of cooking to moisten up the mushrooms.

3- Spread the avocado mash on the half loaf of bread. Then, slice the bread into thick slices. Top each slice with a generous helping of the corn salad. Enjoy!

Sweet Potato Bites

Sweet Potato Bites

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about what makes me happy. I’ve gone through some major life changes over the past few months, which have caused me to think and rethink how I see the world and how I see myself. I broke up with someone I’d been with for three and a half years. He was a big part of my life and he helped me grow to be the person I am today, but as the last few months of our relationship wore on, it was more and more evident that we were not growing together, but apart. It didn’t feel right to me anymore and at my core, I knew I had to make the decision that was best for both of our futures (and feelings). It was difficult, but I am finally starting to feel at ease with the decision I made. That choice has made me think about what I really want in life and what I want in a partner. Right now, I’m not entirely sure about what I want out of life, but I do know I want to be happy. That is what is most important to me (and one thing I’m not willing to sacrifice).

On the eve of my 27th birthday, one of the things I am certain of are the things I enjoy doing most in life. They aren’t even complicated or extravagant things. Instead they are simple like as spending time outside, gardening, food (eating, cooking, and enjoying it with friends and family), writing, reading, and being creative (as well as appreciating others’ creativity).

Today, I was pulling up weeds in the garden, as well as planting a few extra squash plants my dad had given me and in one word, I felt content. I could have stayed out there for hours, but I had to come in and give my poodles some much-needed attention. Gardening just feels right to me. It is an activity I really don’t need to try hard to like. As Gretchen Rubin would say, “You can choose what you do, but you can’t choose what you like to do.”

What are the activities that make you happiest and that keep you going? What makes you want to wake up each morning to see the new day?

Sweet Potato Bites: 

*Recipe  potato seasoning recipe (changed only slightly) from Thom’s blog, Don’t Switch Off the Light (I’ve used his recipe for Vegan Mexican Roasted Potatoes so many times, but I never tire of it)

Ingredients: 

For potatoes: 

2 large sweet potatoes, cut into 1/4 inch slices (width-wise)

1 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil

1 large garlic clove, diced

1/2 tsp of cumin and oregano

1/4 tsp of salt, pepper, and garlic powder

For black beans: 

1 can of black beans

1 tsp of olive oil

1 large clove of garlic, diced

1/4 tsp of salt, pepper, and chili powder (adjust the amount of chili powder to suit your taste, if you like it spicier then add 1/2 tsp)

For guacamole: (*I made this recipe in the past and it was delicious)

*either use your favorite recipe for guacamole made from one avocado OR use the simple recipe below

1 avocado

1 clove of garlic

2 tsp of fresh parsley, diced

1 lime, juiced

1/4 tsp of salt, pepper, and garlic powder

Method:

1- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. While the oven is preheating, slice the sweet potatoes and put them on a baking sheet. Then drizzle the olive oil over them. Sprinkle the spices on and then mix all of the potatoes together with the spices, until each slice is evenly coated. Bake the sweet potatoes for about 15 minutes before flipping them and cooking them for another 15 minutes. When finished, they should be tender and slightly browned on both sides.

2- While the potatoes are cooking, heat the olive oil, black beans, garlic, and spices in a pot over low heat. Stir periodically. Take off the heat and cover when the beans are warmed. *You can save this step until when the potatoes have been in the oven for about 15 minutes already.

3- Make the guacamole by halving the avocado. Then take the seed out. Score the avocado with a knife by slicing tic tac toe shaped lines on the fleshy part of the avocado (all the way down to the skin – 1 cut per 1/4 inch). Then scrape or squeeze the fleshy part of the avocado out of the skin. Add it to a bowl with the rest of the ingredients and mash with a fork. Put the guacamole in the fridge until the potatoes are ready (to let the flavors combine). *If I’d had a tomato or cilantro, I would’ve added that to my guacamole too! I just happened to be low on ingredients since the next day was grocery shopping day.

4- Assemble the sweet potato bites by placing sweet potatoes on a serving tray. Then spoon about one teaspoon of black beans on each medallion-shaped potato. Top each with a small dollop of guacamole (Oh how the word dollop still reminds me of Martha Stewart). Serve immediately & enjoy.

Guacamole Inspired Quinoa

quinoa guacamole dinner

Avocados are ever present in my diet and for me, a dish with avocado in it is never a disappointment. Hence guacamole-inspired quinoa. This protein packed recipe, is also full of other necessary vitamins, such as vitamin C (thanks to the bell pepper pieces and tomatoes), vitamin A (from the tomatoes), and B-complex vitamins (from the avocado). Avocado adds a creamy texture and a dose of heart-healthy fats. Overall, this dish tasted reminiscent of guacamole, but with much more substance.

Ingredients for guacamole-inspired quinoa: 

*Serves 3-4 people

1 cup of quinoa

1 tbsp of olive oil

1 onion, chopped

1 large clove of garlic, diced

1/2 tsp of salt

1/4 tsp of pepper and garlic powder

1 tsp of extra virgin olive oil

1/2 lemon, juiced

1/2 cup of diced tomato

1/4 cup of organic bell peppers diced

1 jalapeno diced

1 avocado, diced

1 tbsp of fresh cilantro, sliced

Method: 

1- Add the quinoa to two cups of water and heat over medium high heat. When the quinoa begins to boil, lower the heat to medium low.

2- Meanwhile dice all of the vegetables. Then heat the olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Add the onion to the pan and let it cook for 3-5 minutes before adding the garlic. When the garlic begins to brown, take the pan off the heat.

3- When the quinoa is done, add the extra virgin olive oil, spices, and lemon juice. Stir well and then add the rest of the veggies, including the onion mixture. Finally, add the cilantro. Enjoy!

If you have any favorite avocado inspired recipes, please share!

A Lemony Spring Pasta Dish with a Side of Herb Avocado Spread and a Kitchen Mystery

spring pasta

A mystery, you wonder? Yes, a mystery, but not a murder mystery ( at least I should hope not). Last night, I arrived home after a long night of conferences. As I walked in the door at 8:00, all I could think about was food. I practically lunged at the fridge like a foodie jumps at the chance to try a new restaurant.

Then, all of the sudden, I noticed the quiet. I was alone. The dogs were no where to be found. Usually before I even reach to turn the door knob, the poodles are pawing at the door ready to greet me upon entry. Yet, it was silent. Eric and the poodles were not there and as I looked down at the shelf in the fridge, neither was the Easter calzone that sat there untouched before I left for work that morning.

I was slightly perplexed. I heard music upstairs and I assumed Eric had taken the dogs up there to play, while he played pool with the upstairs neighbors. I thought maybe Eric had brought the calzone to share with the other guys that live up there, as sort of an offering. Maybe if he offered them a calzone full of meat and cheese, he would be offered more meat in return. In his dreams, I’m sure.

At some point later, the dogs ran down the rust-colored carpeted stairs, Eric in tow. I asked him about the disappearing calzone. He mentioned casually that he had eaten it for dinner. I said “You ate the whole thing?” He stared at me, noticing my disbelief. I mean it was a pretty big and rich stuffed bread. He said with a lowered voice, “What, you mean that wasn’t healthy?” I shook my head and laughed. He pouted a little bit, feeling slightly bad about eating the entire thing, but after proudly mentioned that he had loaded it up with barbecue sauce. How that goes with a bread filled with a variety of cheeses and meats, I don’t know, but I do know that my meat-free spinach calzone is still in the fridge (safe and sound). Read on for a totally unrelated recipe for a spring pasta dish with a lemon sauce and a side of bread with avocado “butter.”

spring pasta 2

Ingredients for spring pasta with a lemon twist:

*Serves 6

1 tbsp of olive oil

1 red onion, thinly sliced

3 garlic cloves, sliced thin

2 cups of baby bella mushrooms, sliced

1/2 tsp of salt and dried basil *fresh would be preferred, but I only had dried basil (if using fresh basil add it in at the last minute, before serving)

1/4 tsp of garlic powder, pepper, and red pepper flakes

2 cups of asparagus, diced into 1 1/2 inch spears

1/2 cup of frozen peas

1 package of spaghetti (about a pound) *GF option – GF pasta choice like rice pasta

1-2 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil

the juice of 1/2 a lemon

Method:

1- Heat a large pot with water and set it over high heat. While waiting for the water to boil, slice the garlic and red onion.

2- Heat a frying pan and add olive oil to it. When the olive oil is hot in the frying pan, add the red onion. Let it brown before adding the garlic slices. Let the garlic slices get brown around the edges before adding the mushrooms. Let the mushrooms brown a bit and then add the spices, asparagus, and frozen peas. Stir the veggies and let them cook.

3- Add the spaghetti to the pot as soon as the water is boiling. Meanwhile, take your veggies off of the heat when the asparagus is slightly softened, but still crisp.

4- Drain the pasta. Add it to a serving bowl and squeeze the juice of half of a lemon over the top. Then add the extra virgin olive oil. Stir. Then add the vegetables and mix well. Serve alongside bread topped with avocado spread.

 spring pasta 4

Ingredients for herb avocado spread:

*Serves 4

1 avocado

1 tbsp of fresh basil, sliced OR 1/4 tsp of dried basil

1/4 tsp of salt, pepper, and garlic powder

1-2 cloves of garlic, diced

1 tsp of extra virgin olive oil

Method: 

1- Cut the avocado in half. Scoop out the insides into a bowl. Then add the rest of the ingredients. Mash well until the spread is smooth and butter-like. Enjoy on fresh toasted bread!

Do you have any favorite seasonal spring recipes? If so, please share. I’m always looking for new recipes to try!

Week Seven: Avoiding Over-Consumption of Fats

My first jar of coconut oil. I chose the Whole Food's 365 brand, before delving into more expensive products (just wanted to make sure I liked using it - which I did).

For the past few weeks I’ve been trying to improve my diet by eating healthy fats with cholesterol lowering benefits. I have also completely stopped cooking with butter. In reading more about consuming healthy fats, I learned that good-for-you fats also need to be eaten in moderation. According to Prescription for Nutritional Healing, which was written by Phyllis Balch, CNC, fats should only make up about 10 to 20 percent of your total calories each day. If I aim to eat about 2,000 calories per day, that would be about 200 to 400 calories. This percentage really made me think about the fat sources I’m consuming and where I should limit myself. In two tablespoons of peanut butter there is about 200 calories, most of which come from fat. I don’t think I’ll be completely cutting out peanut butter or any other healthy fat source, but I will try to limit the amount I eat. I tend to be a snacker, so while I won’t over eat one food, I will eat many little snacks throughout the day and sometimes that includes cashews, walnuts, and pecans,. Time to start paying attention to what I’m actually eating (without getting crazy about counting calories or any unhealthy thoughts that can come along with paying attention to food).

 

Melt-in-Your-Mouth Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

chocolate chip oatmeal cookies

 

I was craving oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. The buttery-flavored kind that I remembered eating as a child. I wanted to smell that sweet aroma that fills the kitchen just a few minutes before the oven timer beeps. The zucchini oatmeal breakfast cookies that I made earlier in the week just didn’t satisfy that craving. They tasted too health conscious (if there is such a thing). They lacked the flavor of the chocolate chips and the distinctly crisp yet soft texture of oatmeal cookies that have all of those rich and over-processed ingredients.

As I searched for oatmeal cookie recipes on my laptop, I was appalled by the amount of white sugar and fatty butter I found in each recipe. One recipe actually called for two cups of butter and while I’m sure they would taste wonderful, I wasn’t quite sold on thinking about the tablespoon of butter I would be eating each time I picked up a cookie. I wanted to cut out the artery-clogging fat and the large amount of processed sugar in each cookie. So, I thought, why not create a near guilt-free cookie? One that would be highly-flavored and with crisp edges that led to a soft gooey center.

 

After my disastrous pancake episode earlier in the day, I wasn’t leaving the outcome of these cookies up to chance. Since all of these drop-cookies didn’t fit on the baking sheet, I put two in a small loaf pan and tested those first. I wanted to make sure the batter wasn’t too dry and that the end result would more than satisfy my sugar-loving taste buds.

The verdict? Without any butter, eggs, or table sugar, these cookies had a buttery flavor that came from the combination of using coconut oil instead of butter and sucanat instead of sugar (which has the flavor of brown sugar). As I neared the center of these precious gems, the soft cookie crumbled into my mouth, the taste, fully appeasing my week-long craving. The rolled oats towards the outside of the cookie added that promised crunch I desired. I was in such a good mood from the making and eating of these cookies that I only laughed when I came into the bedroom and saw my dog, Maxi, chewing holes into my white, cotton , lace-trimmed underwear. Sadly, it’s not the first time he’s done this. He seems to have an affinity for my panties. I’ve even seen him just walking around the house with them. It’s weird, but also slightly hilarious to think of this small cockapoo creeping around the house with my underwear in his mouth!

Back to the cookies! I’m guessing that if you make these, you’ll find reasons to keep coming back into the kitchen and that somehow you’ll just keep picking up another cookie each time. I mean they’re healthy right? Indulge a little.

These were just out of the oven and nearly ready to be eaten!

These were just out of the oven and nearly ready to be eaten!

Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies: 

*Lightly adapted from the chewy chocolate chip oatmeal cookie recipe found at allrecipes.com

*Makes about 14 cookies (recipe can easily be doubled to make more cookies, I just didn’t want to have 28 cookies laying around in the house – it seemed deadly since only two of us live here)

3/4 cup of oat flour (GF if you prefer, or if you don’t have oat flour white/wheat might work also)

1 1/2 cups of rolled oats

1 tsp of baking soda (*not sure if it needs baking soda, because they don’t really rise due to the denseness of the oat batter)

1/2 tsp of baking powder

1/4 – 1/2 tsp of sea salt

3/4 cup of vegan semi-sweet chocolate chips (I used Whole Foods 365 brand, which naturally has no dairy)

1 mashed banana

1/2 a cup of sucanat (I used the Wholesome Sweeteners brand, though I’m sure you could use regular brown sugar or turbinado sugar)

1/4 of a cup of coconut oil, packed in the measuring cup and then melted

1 tsp of vanilla extract

Method: 

1- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Then whisk the flour, oats, chocolate chips, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together.

2- In a separate bowl, mash the bananas and then add the sucanat to them.

3- Melt the coconut oil and add it to the banana mixture. I melted mine in the microwave for about 1 minute. You can also stir in the vanilla at this time.

4- Add the dry ingredients to the wet. Make sure you stir the batter enough so all of the oats are coated by the wet ingredients. Note that the batter won’t be overly moist or doughy (no need to worry, since that is the way it is supposed to be).

5- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

5- On a lined baking sheet, drop cookies onto a baking sheet using a tablespoon. You may have to form them a bit just to make sure that all of the cookie stays together (as the batter crumbles easily before baking).

6- Bake for about 10 minutes (depending on your oven). When they are finished the bottom should be a golden brown color and the top should begin to brown.

7- Let the cookies sit on the baking sheet for about five minutes and then move them over to a cooling rack for five minutes or so. Note that the cookies are fragile when they immediately come out of the oven, so be gentle when taking them off of the cookie sheet.

Do you have any favorite healthy dessert recipes that you’ve made or any healthy baking tips? As always, enjoy the recipe and let me know how the oatmeal cookies turn out, if you make them!

 

 

Week 6: Adding Cholesterol-Lowering Healthy Fats into my Diet

Avocado

I am an anti-drug type of girl. I don’t like being prescribed pills. Sometimes I am really naughty and I won’t even take prescribed drugs the doctor ordered. Something about taking medicine just doesn’t feel right to me. It just doesn’t seem natural, not to mention the number of side effects that can come with taking prescription medications. If I feel minor discomfort, usually I let it pass. Tylenol isn’t even in my medicine cabinet.

Naturally, I am against taking statin drugs to lower my cholesterol. If there is a lifestyle-change that can be made to lessen or reverse a medical issue, that is the first way I will try to solve the problem. This week I aim to increase my consumption of cholesterol-lowering fats known as monounsaturated fatty acids and essential fatty acids. Last week, I added more flax into my diet (mostly in deliciously purple-colored “green” smoothies), which contain omega 3 fatty acids, which are one type of essential fatty acid (EFA). Other foods are also high in these types of fats like walnuts, which can also help lower cholesterol. While the benefits of decreasing cholesterol in this way are only modest, it is certainly a start in beginning to give my body what it needs to become healthier. Bring on the almonds and foods with plant-based fats such as avocados, peanut butter, olive oil, sesame oil, nuts, and seeds. One thing to be careful of is over consumption of fats. Despite that these fats are considered healthy, they should still only remain a small portion of your total caloric intake (about 10 to 15% of your daily caloric intake).

For a recipe with cholesterol-lowering organic sesame oil, try making my vegetarian rice noodle stir fry.

*To understand more about why Omega 3 fatty acids are so important to our bodies, read this informative post by jennovafoodblog!

Sources: 

Prescription for Nutritional Healing: Fourth Edition by Phyllis, A. Balch, CNC.

Green Smoothies Three Ways

smoothies

 

Over the years I’ve gone through boxes of Cheerios, Trix, Fruit Loops, Quaker oatmeal, Kashi cereals, and more. I’ve also had enjoyable weekend breakfasts that consisted of eggs over-medium with toast or fluffy, fruit-topped pancakes. This week, I decided to make a radical change to my normal breakfast, which is usually cereal with fruit. I made green breakfast smoothies. These frothy concoctions contained heart healthy flax seeds, potassium-rich bananas, iron-filled spinach, and nondairy milk, as well as a few other feel-good ingredients. Whether it was a banana, blueberry, or mixed berry shake, it filled me up and kept my energy levels high until lunch time. I can not say enough about how amazing I felt all week after consuming these green drinks. I am a convert! I was inspired by the recipe I found on Radiance, which is also full of good-for-you ingredients. I have been feeling happier and more lively lately. I attribute some of those good feelings to these deliciously-smooth drinks. They take a bit longer to make than cereal and milk, but it is more than worth it.

Not only did I help lower my cholesterol by consuming nutty flax seeds, but I also had a two servings of fruit and one of leafy greens before 9:00 am. On top of that, these smoothies tasted lightly sweet, with a fruity finish. I have the power to change the course of my high cholesterol. Why should I sit by and consume butter and other unhealthy foods, when I can make lifelong changes to improve my health? We all have the power to change how we feel. Why not take the chance on your health? Make a healthy adjustment. See if any positive results come your way. I doubt you will regret it.

Lately, I’ve been more aware of my body and whether it feel s good, bad, or right (if you haven’t read Gretchen Rubin’s post on happiness and feeling good, feeling bad, or feeling right, I highly recommend it!). I have noticed how much better I’ve been feeling – I attribute it to all of the positive things I’ve been doing for myself. To that – I raise my green smoothie-filled glass. Cheers! Find the smoothie recipes below.

smoothies 2

Ingredients for blueberry banana smoothies (my personal favorite):

1 cup of almond milk (*look for a brand without carrageenan, which can have negative health effects – I used Whole Foods 365 brand)

1 tbsp of flax seeds, ground

1 tsp of green SuperFood by Amazing Grass (*not necessary if you don’t have it on hand)

1 – 2 handfuls of spinach, washed

1/2 of a banana (frozen if you like)

1/2 cup of frozen or fresh organic blueberries

Ingredients for banana spinach smoothies: 

1 cup of almond milk (*look for a brand without carrageenan, which can have negative health effects – I used Whole Foods 365 brand)

1 tbsp of flax seeds, ground

1 tsp of chia seeds, ground

1 tsp of green SuperFood by Amazing Grass (*not necessary if you don’t have it on hand)

1 – 2 handfuls of spinach, washed

1/2 of a banana (frozen if you like)

Ingredients for banana berry smoothies: 

1 cup of almond milk (*look for a brand without carageenan, which can have negative health effects – I used Whole Foods 365 brand)

1 tbsp of flax seeds, ground

1 tsp of chia seeds

1 tsp of green SuperFood by Amazing Grass (*not necessary if you don’t have it on hand)

1 – 2 handfuls of spinach, washed

1/2 of a banana (frozen if you like)

1/2 cup of frozen or fresh berry mix

Directions: 

1- Pour in the liquid first. Then add the chia and flax seeds, as well as the green superfood.

2- Add the handfuls of spinahch. Then top the spinach with the berries and banana (to weigh it down).

3- Blend until smooth!

What positive changes have you made lately? As a result, how do you feel?

*Recently I discovered Oh She Glows – what a phenomenal blog! I linked to her green monster smoothie recipe, which I’d like to try next!

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