Soak up some soluble fiber with Carrot Lentil Coconut Stew

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Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both women and men; about 610,000 people die of heart disease in the United States every year–that’s 1 in every 4 deaths.

Americans do not get enough fiber and this could be one contributing factor of the alarming rate of heart disease in our country. Fiber protects the heart!

One type of fiber is soluble; this type of fiber is found in beans, lentils, peas, oats, oat bran, and apples. Research has shown that fiber can lower LDL cholesterol and total cholesterol, both of which reduce the risk of heart disease.

I have created a delicious lentil stew recipe that is loaded with soluble fiber. Don’t be intimidated by the number of ingredients, they are mostly  warming spices that will give your immune system a boost—perfect for this time of year! Enjoy!

Carrot Lentil Coconut Stew using Crock Pot/Slow Cooker

      Ingredients:   

  • 2 Cups of Dry Red Lentils
  • 1 Cup of Medium Spiced Salsa (I like Newman’s!)
  • 1 Teaspoon of Vegetable Oil
  • 2 yellow onions, chopped.
  • 3 Large Carrots, cut in half length wise and thinly sliced
  • 5 cloves of minced garlic
  • 2 Teaspoons of Turmeric
  • 1 Teaspoon of Cumin
  • 1 Teaspoon of Fenugreek
  • 1 Teaspoon of salt
  • ½ teaspoon of lemon pepper
  • 6 cups of Vegetable Stock
  • Korean Chili sauce (you can purchase at any Asian Market)
  • 1 can of lite coconut milk
  • 1 Tablespoon of Lemon Juice
  • Chopped Cilantro and Unsweetened Shredded Coconut for topping/garnish

 

                Directions:

  1. Rinse lentils and soak overnight in 5 cups of water
  2. In a big soup pot, heat the oil over medium heat.
  3. Add the onions, carrots and cook for 5 minutes, stirring them until they are soft.
  4. Add the garlic, turmeric, fenugreek, salt and lemon pepper and stir for one minute.
  5. Add the salsa and bring to a boil.
  6. Stir in the lentils and vegetable stock.
  7. Transfer this concoction to a slow cooker. Cook on HIGH for 4 to 5 hours or LOW for 8 to 10 hours.
  8. Stir in coconut milk and lemon, cook for 15-20 minutes on HIGH.
  9. Add a couple of squirts of the Korean Chili sauce. Mix Well.
  10. Serve in soup bowls. Garnish with cilantro and coconut.. or a swirl Korean Chili sauce.

 

 

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Chevre Stuffed Dates

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Earlier this month, I explained in a blog entry why I am obsessed with dates. Click here to read that entry–in a nutshell, they’re loaded with fiber and amazing nutrients. In that initial entry, I shared a sweet smoothie recipe using dates. The following week, I shared a recipe for rice crispy treats using dates. Click here to check that recipe out.

But what about a savory date recipe?! You can easily find bacon-wrapped date recipes with a simple Google search, but I wanted something healthier (even though I admit that I do love bacon every now and then). This is a healthy savory date recipe I came up with and it seriously only took me 10 minutes to make! This is the perfect appetizer to bring to a party!

Chevre Stuffed Dates

Ingredients:

  • 15  pitted dates sliced in half length-wise
  • 4 ounces plain chevre goat cheese
  • 1/4 cup slivered almonds

Directions:

  1. Spread goat cheese into the crevice of each slice of date.
  2. Top with slivered almonds.

Yes, it’s that easy! Enjoy!

Wishing you and yours happy holidays! I’ll be catching up with you with all types of fun recipes and health tips in the New Year!

 

Why I’m Bananas over Dates

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Yes, dating your loved one is healthy for your health, but I am talking about the wrinkly little dried fruit that is oh so sweet! We’re right smack in the middle of the holiday season and this is the time of year that people are hooked on sugar and it’s so hard to get off it once you’re on it! I use dates to satisfy my sweet tooth in a healthy way.

Dates come from the date palm plant. In our country, they are primarily grown in California and Florida. There is also a destination in Arizona where they are grown, appropriately named Dateland!

Here are some of the amazing health benefits of dates:

Phenomenal Fiber

Do you know that you are supposed to get at least 30 grams of fiber today?! It’s likely that you do not consume enough because the latest research shows that only 10 percent of American get enough fiber! Dates are one way that you can up your fiber intake! One serving of dates has a whopping 7 grams of fiber!

Fiber can help your digestion and helps prevent your blood sugar from spiking!

Packed with Phenolic Acid

Phenolic acid is an antioxidant that has amazing anti-inflammatory properties, which can help protect you against almost any disease, including heart disease and cancer!

High in Minerals

Dates are high in potassium, magnesium, copper, manganese, and even have a decent amount of iron. These minerals help promote bone health. Potassium is excellent for heart health as well. And iron is important for carrying oxygen to your muscles and your brain!

Are you going to join me in eating dates this month?! Here’s a recipe to start you off! And because I want to help you defeat the sugar temptation this month, I promise to post a new date recipe each week in December!

Bananas over Dates Smoothie

Ingredients:

  • 2 frozen bananas chopped
  • ½ cup dates
  • 2 cups unsweetened almond milk
  • ½ teaspoon ground gloves
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions: Place all of the ingredients in a blender. Blend until smooth.

 

 

 

 

 

Sensational Autumn Parfait

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Yes, it is still autumn amidst these snow flurries!

Parfait in French means “perfect.” It’s quite fitting because a parfait can be a perfect meal!

A parfait is simple, light, and delicious. You can have it for breakfast, a snack, or even dessert. It can be pretty much anything you want, but usually consists of yogurt, fresh fruit, and granola.

This is a meal I often have for breakfast because it’s quick and easy! It’s also satiating, which can help you deny those holiday treats that are flooding into your office this time of year!

I like to use Greek yogurt in my parfaits because it packs a ton of protein: about 20 grams per cup, as opposed to the 8 grams you get from a cup of milk.

To assemble your parfait, all you need are the three ingredients I listed above. You can use any kind of fruit and any type of granola, though I do recommend using a granola with a lower sugar content as many granola may seem healthy, but when you check the nutrition label they can be packed with sugar. Find a granola with less than 8 grams of sugar per serving! A great brand I use is Barley+ granola. It provides a high fiber content with low amounts of sugar per serving.

Try out this fall parfait for a yummy treat:

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp sweetener (maple syrup or honey)
  • ¼ cup pumpkin purée
  • ¼ cup  granola
  • 1 apple cut into small chunks

Directions:

  1. Combine yogurt, sweetener, pumpkin, and cinnamon in a bowl.
  2. Spoon a few tablespoons of yogurt into you bowl or cup.
  3. Then add a layer of granola, followed by apples.
  4. Complete this until you’ve finished your supply of ingredients and enjoy!

 

Celebrate National Peanut Day with Peanut Butter Energy Balls

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Today is National Peanut Day and this food is definitely deserving of a day for itself! Peanuts aren’t actually a nut, they’re a legume. They flower above ground but grow below ground.

Peanuts have fat and fat is bad. WHAT?! If someone ever tells you this, tell them they’re WRONG! Not all fats are created equal. Peanuts are filled with brain-boosting, heart-healthy mono and polyunsaturated fats. These fats do not lead to weight gain! In fact, the fiber, healthy fat, and protein combination found in peanuts can be part of a weight-loss diet, if eaten in moderation. You don’t need much…a quarter cup of peanuts or a couple Tablespoons of peanut butter can curb hunger for a few hours!

The unsaturated fat in peanuts is mostly monounsaturated fat, which is associated with lower cardiovascular issues. Monounsaturated fats assist in keeping your arteries clear, which allows blood to flow freely. This decreases your risk of heart attack or stroke. These fats also help to lower your LDL or “bad cholesterol” levels and raise your HDL or “good cholesterol” levels.

You want to choose “natural” when it comes to peanut butter. If you check the nutrition label and there are more ingredients than just peanuts and salt, then it’s not natural. In many brands, sugars and unnecessary ingredients are added in.

Another thing to watch out for is the “reduced fat” label on peanut butters. Like I said before, fat is not the enemy! When something like peanut butter is made to contain less fat, other ingredients have to be added, usually sugars, to fill the place of the fat. Just go for the natural peanut butters for the best and cleanest type!

Hear me out on this…my favorite way to enjoy peanut butter is on a sandwich with cucumbers. Don’t knock it until you try it! The cucumbers add a freshness and crunch that can’t be beat. If that’s not your favorite, give these Peanut Butter Energy balls a try! They’re perfect for a mid-day snack or for when that sweet tooth craving hits!

Peanut Butter Energy Balls Recipe:

  • ⅔ cup peanut butter
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup oats
  • ½ cup ground flaxseeds
  • ⅓ cup mini chocolate chips

Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl and roll into balls. Keep them in a closed container for up to a week or in the freezer for however long you want!

Enjoy!!!

 

 

Strawberry Bliss

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It’s strawberry season in Central New York! I love strawberries-they’re one of the best sources of vitamin C around! And I have good news for diabetics…these incredibly sweet treats are low in sugar! Strawberries are a great choice if you have a sweet tooth, but are trying to control your sugar intake. In addition to vitamin C, strawberries are loaded with an antioxidant mineral called manganese and dozens of phytonutrients that have proven to help your cardiovascular system.

Looking for some ways to enjoy strawberries now that they are available in your backyard and are the freshest they will be all year? In addition to eating them by themselves, here are ways I enjoy them:

  • Freeze a handful or two of them (de-stemmed) and toss them into your morning smoothie!
  • Strawberries and arugula make quite the pair. Slice strawberries and add to a bed of arugula along with crumbled feta. Dress with balsamic vinegar and olive oil. So yummy!
  • Breakfast just got better! Add strawberries to Greek yogurt and granola and you have a fantastic, nourishing, protein and fiber-rich breakfast that is oh so tasty!
  • Make a healthy rendition of strawberry lemonade. Blend a pint of strawberries until juice consistency. Add to a quart of water, squeeze in juice from 4 lemons. Stir in 4 Tablespoons of stevia. Add ice for a most refreshing summer drink!
  • Combine strawberries with rhubarb and you have a dynamic duo. Both are harvested in June. Take the antioxidants of strawberries combined with those in rhubarb and you will get a spark of energy, some pep in your step. Eating Well has put together amazing strawberry rhubarb recipes like Strawberry Rhubarb Quinoa Pudding, Strawberry-Rhubarb Fruit Bars, and even Chilled Strawberry-Rhubarb Soup. Click here to check them out!

Heal your gut, reduce your stress

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April was Stress Awareness Month, but stress is a part of our everyday life!

If left unchecked, stress can be deadly. In fact, stress is often referred to as the silent killer because although its effects are not immediately apparent, it can lead to several serious health problems such as high blood pressure and heart disease.

The biochemical changes that occur during times of stress have significant and immediate impact on gut and gut function.

Stress “kills” the good bacteria that is essential to your body—it keeps your immune system strong, helps you digest your food and absorb the nutrients, regulates your hormones, and prevents inflammation. Inflammation is the worst enemy of all as it is the precursor to all diseases.

All of us have experienced stress at some point in our lives, which means out guts have been compromised. And an unhealthy gut only exacerbates your stress.

I have three tips that can help you restore your gut flora and help you reduce stress.

  1. Avoid Artificial Sweeteners and Added Sugars

Several studies have shown that artificial sweeteners (such as those in diet soda or those little pink or blue packets you pour into your coffee can literally destroy your good bacteria.

Added sugar literally feeds the bad bacteria lurking in your gut. Not to mention more and more studies are linking added sugar to heart disease. Food brands will be required to list the added sugars in their products by July 2018.

I suggest honey or stevia as good alternative sweeteners.

In terms of honey, I especially love using Wedderspoon Raw Manuka Honey. Manuka honey has antimicrobial and ant inflammatory properties—basically the opposite of artificial sweeteners. This honey can strengthen your immune system and improve your gut flora.

Stevia is an awesome sugar alternative—it is not an artificial sweetener and it has no added sugar. I turn to Sweetleaf Stevia; this brand is the authority when it comes to stevia. Stevia comes from a plant and a little bit goes along way as it is 30 times sweeter than sugar. For example, a typical soda contains 9 teaspoons of sugar. To achieve the same sweetness with stevia, you would only need one teaspoon and wouldn’t have the harmful effects that added sugar causes!

Stevia contains dozens of nutrients as well. Stevia is a great choice for diabetics because it has a non-glycemic response. Visit Sweetleaf.com to find delicious recipes using stevia

  1. Take Probiotics

Probiotics are live, good bacteria. Taking probiotic supplements actually replenish good bacteria in your gut.

My favorite probiotic is Just Thrive. Many of the probiotics on the market not survive in your intestinal system so they aren’t all that helpful. With Thrive, 100% of the healthy flora, in their capsules, survives and hence, you thrive quite literally.

  1. Fill up on fiber.

Most people do not get nearly enough fiber in their diet. A healthy gut depends on fiber to move food along!

Be sure your diet has plenty of vegetables, fruit, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds. Make sure your snacks are fiber-ful too. Grab a piece of fruit or a 100-calorie pack of Setton Farms pistachios. Pistachios are not only loaded with fiber, but also have been proven to reduce stress. A recent Penn State study showed that the healthy fat and fiber combo in pistachios can reduce vascular stress, keeping your blood vessels open and relaxed during stressful moments.

Keep your gut in check—keep your stress in check! Your gut is often referred to as your second brain.

Treat your gut well and you will feel well.