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Spice Up Your Life

Looking for a way to spice up your life? Well let’s get it on, in the kitchen. Yes I said the kitchen…this is where the spices are stored. Here is a quick look at the health benefits of a few of my favorite spices. Just a few reasons to eat at home, eat fresh and healthy. Food as medicine. But remember to always consult your physician before using these spice remedies.

 

Cinnamon

Popular in Chinese medicine for its antioxidant and antibacterial properties. It will help fight a bad stomach bug, candida yeast infections. Some researchers claim that cinnamon is effective in improving memory and cognitive development. Sprinkle cinnamon in your oatmeal, in your coffee, on sweet potatoes fries, squash…really anything that sounds good!

 

Turmeric

For me the most common benefit of turmeric is its anti-inflammatory properties. The active ingredient is curcumin, which can have antiviral, antibacterial, anti-fungal  and antioxidant properties as well. Use turmeric on cauliflower, in salad dressings, rice, and curry dishes.  Another favorite way to consume it is through a glass of tea with honey and lemon. You can find many recipes online.

 

Cayenne Pepper

An ingredient in cayenne called Capsicum is responsible for its health benefits. Capsicum has been shown to increase circulation and contribute to weight loss.  You can use cayenne to flavor beans, chili, tacos, and really anything you want to spice up with some heat.

 

Parsley

This beautiful green herb has had its claim to health fame since the early days of the Romans. Parsley’s health benefits include anti-oxidant nutrients, high folic acid content, and Vitamin C. These benefits can help fight against arthritis, keep the heart healthy, and fights against bad breathe. Parsley can be used in marinades, added to soups and sauces, meats, fish…the list can go on!

 

Thyme

The oil of this plant has antibacterial and antiseptic properties. Recent studies suggest it is effective in killing MRSA bacteria strains. My most common use for thyme is in marinades, soups and in roasted beef, chicken or turkey.

 

 

Of course these are only a few of the many herbs and spices that provide health benefits. Add some spice to your life and some real health benefits!

 

 

 

 

Posted in Food | January 12 th , 2016 | 0 Comments

Diet and Vital Nutrients

The motto of EcoPharmacist has always been ‘Emphasizing the importance of diet and vital nutrients—the natural disease-preventing “medicines” that people need daily.’  Easy translation for some is to look at it as, food as medicine.

 

Continuing education is exciting to me. Learning and exploring how we can ensure the food choices we make have a benefit to our bodies, is very empowering. Making educated choices feeds the soul with the same benefits. A recent area of intrigue is to dissect some of our household favorites, and maybe tweak them so that the emphasis of diet and vital nutrients is focused on.  In our house, foods from around the world are enjoyed. Mexican, Italian, Chinese, Japanese, American and Indian foods are just a few examples of the worlds we explore with our senses. Today I want to share a favorite that has been adapted from Cooking Lights August 2010 issue, called Fall Vegetable Curry with Basmati Cashew Rice. I have dissected a few of the nutritional variables in this dish, to give my soul a nod, and acknowledgment that this dish is good for us!

 

While this recipe has a variety of vital nutrients, I will focus on the curry powder benefits. The garbanzo beans, rice, cilantro, yogurt, onions and cashews all add another level of nutritional benefits, but the flavor boost of curry is also giving your body a great power of goodness.

 

Curry powder, the key ingredient in most Indian Curry dishes, can be a blend of up to 20 different herbs and spices, including the commonly used: cardamom, chiles, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, cumin, fennel, fenugreek, mace, nutmeg, pepper, poppy seeds, sesame seeds, saffron, tamarind and tumeric (which gives curry its characteristic golden color).

 

Here are some reasons I found and repeat directly, through American Grandparents Association and grandparents.com, that make curry good for you:

 

Alzheimer’s prevention

Researchers from UCLA found that vitamin D3, taken with curcumin, may stimulate the immune system to get rid of the amino acids that form the plaque in the brain that’s associated with Alzheimer’s Disease. Researchers are also studying the link between curcumin and the low rate of Alzheimer’s in India, where curry is a diet staple. (The incidence of Alzheimer’s in India is a quarter of that in the United States.)

 

Cancer suppression

The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center reviewed studies that looked at the effect of curcumin on cancer. The researchers conclusion? That “it is quite apparent that curcumin has tremendous potential for prevention and therapy of a variety of cancers.” Another UCLA study has found that curcumin can trigger cancer-killing mechanisms found in human saliva. However, to get enough curcumin to achieve this effect, it must be taken in supplement form.

 

Reduced inflammation

Turmeric has been used for eons as a folk remedy anti-inflammatory, helping with muscle and joint aches. A University of Arizona study confirmed that the curcumin and other essential oils in turmeric can protect against joint deterioration and inflammation due to rheumatoid arthritis. And a study on the effectiveness of ibuprofen over curcumin to ease pain found that surprisingly, the benefits were about the same for both the ibuprofen and the curcumin.

 

Reducing blood pressure

Chinese herbalists have used sweet basil, also found in curry, for centuries to bring down hypertension. A study out of Xinjiang Medical University, China, puts some science behind the folk remedy. Researchers found that basil affects levels of the proteins that constrict blood vessels. In addition, a study by the Indigenous Drug Research Center in India found that cardamom, another curry spice, also had a positive effect on those same proteins.

 

Protecting your bones

Turmeric may ward off osteoporosis, according to a different University of Arizona study. Researchers found that when female rats that had had ovaries removed were given curcuminoid-enriched turmeric extract, it prevented up to 50% of bone loss, and also preserved bone structure and connectivity.

 

Preventing food poisoning

Coriander, another curry spice, has been shown to destroy food-borne bacteria, preventing those nasty midnight runs to the bathroom. A study published in the Journal of Medical Microbiology found that a solution made with coriander oil effectively killed several strains of bacteria including E coli.

 

Now its time to try this wonderful recipe and reap the benefits through body, mind and soul. Know you are eating good and doing your body good! ENJOY!

 

Fall Vegetable Curry with Basmati Cashew Rice

Taken from Cooking Light, October 2010

Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 1 cup curry and 2 tablespoons yogurt)

Total time: 25 Minutes

 

Ingredients:

 

1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil

1 cup diced peeled sweet potato

1 cup small cauliflower florets

1/4 cup thinly sliced yellow onion

2 teaspoons Madras curry powder

1/2 cup organic vegetable broth (such as Swanson)

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), rinsed and drained

1 (14.5-ounce) can no-salt-added diced tomatoes, undrained

2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

1/2 cup plain 2% reduced-fat Greek yogurt

Cooked basmati cashew rice *

 

 

Heat olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add sweet potato to pan; sauté 3 minutes. Decrease heat to medium. Add cauliflower, onion, and curry powder (No Madras curry powder? Try 1 1/2 teaspoons regular curry and 1/2 teaspoon red pepper); cook 1 minute, stirring mixture constantly. Add broth and next 3 ingredients (through tomatoes); bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes or until vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally. Sprinkle with cilantro; serve with yogurt.

 

*Cook 1 cup basmati rice according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Stir in 1/4 cup unsalted cashew pieces and 1/4 teaspoon salt.

 

Picture taken from Cooking Light, October 2010

Posted in Food, Health & Wellness | September 17 th , 2015 | 0 Comments

Sweet Cherries or Tart Cherries

Cherries, sweet cherries or tart cherries, are the smallest member of the stone fruit family. This family includes apricots, peaches, plums, and nectarines. Both sweet and tart cherries have long been used for medicinal remedies like gout, inflammation, pain, arthritis, neurodegenerative diseases, muscle recovery and diabetes.

 

Sweet and tart cherries contain a naturally occurring plant compound called phenolics that have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects. The most effective form of cherry phenolic is called anthocyanins. So the darker the cherry, the more of this compound you will find. Tart cherries like the Montmorency and Balaton, both contain high levels of melatonin , which aid in a good nights sleep.

 

According to Traverse Bay Farms, the comparison of tart cherries versus the sweet black cherry can be summarized as follows.

Amount of anthocyanins in tart vs black (sweet) cherries:

Tart:
Approximately 310 milligrams in 100 grams of fruit.

Black:
Approximately 100 to 150 milligrams per 100 grams.

Here is side-side comparison of 8 ounces of the juice of each of the varieties:

Tart Cherry Juice Black Cherry Juice
Vitamins A 0 4% DRV
Vitamin C 15% of DRV 25% of DRV
Sodium  20 mg 10 mg
Potassium 410 mg 560 mg

 

Another big consideration is how they taste. Tart cherry juice is, well, tart. Black cherry juice has a higher amount of natural sugar, carbs, and most people will find it to be more palatable. To make tart cherry juice easier to drink, it can be diluted in water, or mixed with tea or soda. You could even mix it into your favorite smoothie recipe!

 

Any way you eat them, or drink them, cherries, both sweet and tart have health benefits. Research on those benefits continue to grow, and in the mean time, enjoy some summer cherries!

Posted in Food | July 7 th , 2015 | 0 Comments

Phytonutrients and why they are so important

Your mom has always told you to eat your vegetables. Whether you listen or not, could be affecting your health. The reason why vegetables are so important to have in your diet is highlighted in a recent article by the Hippocrates Health Institute. 

 

Vegetables are a good source of vitamins and fiber, but the tiny compounds that scientists are most interested in are the phytonutrients. These specific plant compositions allows a plant to protect itself from fungi, disease, and bugs. Research is showing that those phytonutrients help your body protect itself in similar ways, when included in your diet.

 

The Hippocrates Health Institute reports “Organic fruits and vegetables have far more phytonutrients than nonorganic plants. This is because nonorganic plants become dependent upon the artificial, chemically-synthesized pesticides and fungicides farmers spray on them to help them grow. Consequently, the plants stop producing many of the antibodies needed to naturally deal with these challenges. Phytonutrients are also very sensitive to heat and are destroyed by the cooking process. Therefore fresh, ripe, raw, organic, and whole fruits, vegetables, and sprouts are the best source of these powerful defenders for your immune system.” There are 5 key benefits the body is rewarded with when consuming fresh, organic, raw vegetables:

 

Antioxidant: Phytonutrients work to rid our bodies of damaging free radicals. If left to roam in the body, free radicals can cause damage to cells, proteins, and even your DNA.

 

Antibiotic: Phytonutrients are known to boost your immune system to help prevent bacterial infections.

 

Cancer preventative: Some of the phytonutrients studied, specifically in broccoli and tomatoes, are thought to have cancer preventing properties.

 

Anti-inflammatory: Many are known to have properties to reduce inflammation within the body.

 

Immune support: Phytonutrients have qualities to support your immune function. This is done in partnership when inflammation in the body is reduced, encouraging tissue support and protection.

 

According to The Hippocrates Health Institute, scientists have identified more than 25,000 phytonutrients in plant foods. Many phytonutrients give plants their distinctive colors such as the green, orange, and red in spinach, carrots, and bell peppers. Here are just a few:

 

Chlorophyll – wheatgrass, spirulina, chlorella, barley grass, and in all leafy greens. Good for healthy blood, brain, all bodily tissues, detox, lowers blood pressure, glowing skin.

 

Beta-carotene – carrots, yams and green leafy vegetables. Good for Healthy eyes, skin, hair, bones, teeth and sex.

 

Lycopene – tomatoes, watermelon, pink grapefruits and apricots. Good for boosting the immune system and cancer of the mouth, esophagus, lung, stomach, intestines, prostate, cervical and colon.

 

Selenium – brazil nuts and walnuts. Boosting the immune system especially for people dealing with colds, flus, AIDS/ HIV, and tuberculosis. Excellent for the thyroid and it is anti-aging!

 

Diindolylmethane – broccoli, kale, cabbage, cauliflower, Brussel sprouts and collard greens. Strengthens the immune system.

 

Allyl Sulfides – garlic, onions, and shallots. Strengthens the immune system, good for allergies, colds, and flu.

 

Curcuminoids – Turmeric. This phytonutrient has been shown to have anti-inflammatory, pro-digestive, and anti-infectious activities.

 

Listen to your mother, and eat those vegetables!

 

Posted in Health & Wellness | April 24 th , 2015 | 0 Comments

Green Smoothie Benefits

Green Smoothie Benefits to rev up your week and once again keep the good luck and green theme going for the week! There are many more benefits of a green smoothie, however I grabbed a handful of the ones I see as my main motivators to drink the delicious green goodness.

 

1. Aids with weight loss

 

2. Anti-aging

 

3. Energy booster

 

4. Rehydration

 

5. Relieves contipation

 

6. Curbs sugar cravings

 

7. Makes skin radiant

 

8. Stabilizes blood sugars

 

9. Nourishes healthy hair and nail growth

 

10. Anti-oxidants reduce the risks of diseases

 

11. Anti-inflammatory

 

12.  Boosts the immune system

 

 

To help keep you on track, or get you started, on a healthy life style, try this delicious green smoothie.  Clean, green and full of fiber, potassium, vitamin C and folate, this smoothie is high in electrolytes and cleanses the skin, kidneys and liver! The apples contain pectin, which is a great form of fiber that may reduce cholesterol levels too. ENJOY!

 

2 apples

3 celery sticks

1/2 cucumber

Juice of one lemon

Small handful parsley

1 C coconut water

1/4 C mint leaves

handful of kale or spinach

 

Wash all produce well. Chop ingredients and blend in a high powered blender until smooth. Serve and Enjoy!!

 

 

 

 

Posted in Food | March 19 th , 2015 | 0 Comments

Superfood Breakfast Recipe

Here is a delicious superfood breakfast recipe to make sure you get a boost of the essential vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that our bodies need. I found myself falling in love with steel cut oatmeal this week. Well that love actually started after the previous blog on the different types of oatmeal. I had never wandered outside the world of flattened oatmeal. You just cannot do a segment without really trying the foods right? Sounded like a delicious chore to me! I did just that, and now every morning I start my day with steel cut oatmeal. To keep it interesting, and to make sure I cram as many healthy benefits into the meal, I made myself a superfood version.  My version provides antioxidants, an anti-inflammatory boost and plenty of fiber. So many endless possibilities with steel cut oatmeal.

 

Pumpkin Spice Steel Cut Oatmeal Topped with Walnuts and Apples

1 C steel cut oatmeal, cooked according to package directions

1/4 pumpkin puree

1 T honey

1 tsp cinnamon

1/4 C chopped walnuts

1/4 C chopped apples

 

Cook the steel cut oatmeal according to package directions. Add pumpkin, honey, cinnamon and stir. Top with the walnuts and apples. ENJOY!!

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Food | February 19 th , 2015 | 0 Comments

Foods That Cleanse The Body: Avocado

Foods That Cleanse The Body: Avocado

 

When you hear the word avocado, you may start day dreaming about smooth, silky, delicious guacamole. I know I sure do! But did you know that the avocado is a little nutritional hulk? Yes, the avocado might have a high fat content, but it contains powerful antioxidants, vitamins and minerals that the body reaps great benefits from.

 

The fat content of this little fruit is made up primarily of phytosterols, which are key in the body’s anti-inflammatory reaction. Another key portion of avocado fat composition is known as oleic acid. Oleic acid is thought to help the body absorb nutrients better in the digestive tract. Avocado fat is monounsaturated, reduces cholesterol, and reduces the risk of stroke and heart disease. So don’t let the high fat content scare you, its good for you!

 

Pair the unique fat composition of avocados, with their vitamin, mineral and antioxidant content and you will agree that this little fruit is a nutritional giant. Avocados are low in sugar, contain 4 grams of protein per serving and are rich in phytochemicals, that prevent various cancers. This delicious green nutrition giant is filled with vitamin C, B9, B6, B5, E, K, folate, and has more potassium than a banana.

 

The newest information that I am excited to learn about the avocado is that it naturally contains glutathione. Glutathione is to me, the antioxidant powerhouse! Adding glutathione to your daily diet eliminates toxins in the body, is anti-aging, and gives your body an immune-boost, and protects you against certain cancers! So eat fresh, unprocessed avocados with a source of vitamin C, like tomatoes, and you will increase your body’s absorption of glutathione. Sounds delicious to me!

 

 

Posted in Food | February 10 th , 2015 | 0 Comments

Foods That Cleanse The Body: Lemons

Foods That Cleanse The Body: Lemons

 

There are many health benefits in the lemon. Full of Vitamin C, the lemon has strong antibacterial, antiviral, and immune-boosting powers.  Lemons contain many other substances like, citric acid, calcium, magnesium, potassium, bioflavonoids, pectin, and limonene, that promote immunity and fight infections. These key components of a lemon, make this sour yellow fruit, nature’s powerful little antioxidant.

 

Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that is needed to produce glutathione in the liver. Glutathione neutralizes the toxins in the liver, aiding detoxification of the body. This makes the lemon a partner in fighting free radicals in the body, reducing the risks of certain cancers. At the first sign of a cold, you should get your body the vitamin C boost it needs to bounce back faster. You can add the juice of one lemon to a glass of warm water and drink that every two hours. The vitamin C will be absorbed by your mucous membranes, if you gargle with the juice of a lemon too.  As well, the antibacterial and antiviral properties of lemons can accelerate the healing of canker sores in the mouth, and freshen your breath.

 

Lemons are applauded for their multiple uses. When fatigue sets in, drinking lemon water or using lemon oil as aromatherapy gives your brain and senses a boost, making you more alert and able to concentrate. Lemons have a powerful alkaline affect on the body and the lemon acid will actually help stimulate stomach acid and aid in digestion. Drink a glass of warm water, with the juice of one lemon, after each meal to benefit from this. If you suffer from high cholesterol, don’t forget that the pectin power in lemons, along with its other metabolism and circulation boosting nutrients, can help lower cholesterol.

 

Does your complexion need some help? Well the citric acid in lemons work as a powerful antiseptic, and are effective in treating acne. Pairing the citric acid with the vitamin C, boosts the immune system, and are vital for that healthy glowing skin and production of collagen.  That collagen helps keep skin, blood vessels, tendons and ligaments healthy, making you beautiful inside and out!

 

Our body can be affected by everything we ingest. The body needs to be fed healthy foods that keep it working at its prime.  Adding inexpensive lemon water to your daily diet has so many whole body benefits. This refreshing beverage is a must for everyone!

 

 

 

Posted in Food | February 9 th , 2015 | 0 Comments

Foods that cleanse the body: Beets

Foods That Cleanse The Body: Beets

 

Beets are beneficial to your health for many reasons. Beets are an antioxidant vegetable which contains many nutrients that detoxify the liver, lower cholesterol, are anti-inflammatory, have anti-aging properties and are linked to reductions in certain cancers. The nutrients in beets are called betaine, betacyanin, betalains, betanin, iron, folate, fiber, iron and pectin. Pectin helps in the detoxification of the liver. It is a fiber in beets that actually cleans the toxins that have been removed. The body will then gets rid of those toxins by flushing them out. This detoxification process is what researchers link to the prevention of colon, liver, lung, skin cancers. Keeping the liver healthy is essential to everyone’s longevity. Beets get their red or yellow color from phytonutrients called betalains. These unique phytonutrients work to reduce inflammation in the body, thus providing cardiovascular relief.

 

The beetroot is most commonly thought of as the part to eat, however, the greens are said to be the healthiest part of the plant. These greens contain protein, vitamins A, C, B6, K, magnesium, folate, copper, zinc, fiber, iron, manganese and calcium. Beet greens can ward off osteoporosis from the calcium content, boost the immune system, and can play a key role in fighting Alzheimer’s Disease. So make sure the next time you have the opportunity to eat the whole plant, please do! Be aware that the beetroot is high in carbohydrates and sugar, but low in calories. The greens however are not high in sugar, and are low in calories too. So eat the beetroot in moderation and indulge in the greens. Here is a great salad that will allow you to enjoy the whole plant, and reap those health benefits!

 

Beet Salad with Walnuts and Goat Cheese

 

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 lb. golden or red beets or a combination
    (about 6 medium), with greens attached
  • 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more as needed
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 12 oz. mixed baby greens
  • 1 cup walnuts, lightly toasted
  • 12 oz. goat cheese (I prefer herbed)

 

Instructions:

Preheat an oven to 400°F.

Wash beets and remove greens. Set greens aside. In a bowl, toss the beets with enough oil to coat evenly, and season with salt and pepper. Wrap the beets individually in aluminum foil and place on a baking sheet. Bake until the beets are tender when pierced with a knife, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Remove from the oven. When the beets are cool enough to handle, peel them and cut them crosswise into 1/4-inch slices.

In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, salt and pepper until blended. Slowly whisk in the 1 cup olive oil.

In a bowl, combine the beets with 1/4 cup of the vinaigrette, season with salt and pepper, and refrigerate until ready to use.

Rough chop the beet greens previously set aside, to match the size of mixed greens. Then in a large bowl, toss the mixed baby greens and beet greens with salt, pepper and enough of the vinaigrette to coat lightly. Divide the greens among 8 salad plates. Sprinkle the walnuts and beets evenly over the salads, and drizzle with additional vinaigrette if needed. Crumble the goat cheese over the salads, and serve immediately.

Posted in Food | February 4 th , 2015 | 0 Comments

Foods that cleanse the body

Foods That Cleanse The Body

 

In recent days I have found myself more and more interested in foods that have detox benefits for the body. Foods that should be consumed daily to help fight aging, cancer, diabetes, high cholesterol, and much more. So for a few days, I think sharing a little about some of these wonderful foods, is a must! I will start with a personal favorite of mine, kale.

 

Kale is a leafy green or purple superfood. Some claim it is the healthiest food you can eat. A member of the brassica oleracea species, which also includes vegetables such as brussel sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, collard greens and cabbage. They are all naturally low in fat, cholesterol, sodium and calories, but rich in potassium, fiber, folic acid, beta-carotene and vitamins A, B6, C and K. Kale also contains thiamine, magnesium, niacin, riboflavin, calcium, iron and protein. A one cup serving of kale provides 1-2 grams of fiber. With approximately 30-35 calories per serving, you can get a good daily intake of fiber with few calories. The fiber contents of steamed kale make it good for lowering cholesterol levels too. Kale has both anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties as well.

 

Kale contains isothiocyanates (ITC’s) which can detoxify the liver and have been linked to the reduction of many cancers. These five cancers are on that list: colon, breast, bladder, prostate and kidney cancers. According to the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University:

 

  • Isothiocyanates are derived from the breakdown of glucosinolates—sulfur-containing compounds found in cruciferous vegetables.
  • Cruciferous vegetables contain a variety of glucosinolates, each of which forms a different isothiocyanate when hydrolyzed.
  • Isothiocyanates, such as sulforaphane, may help prevent cancer by promoting the elimination of potential carcinogens from the body and by enhancing the transcription of tumor suppressor proteins.

 

All of these amazing health benefits should have you craving kale! So here is a simple way to prepare some delicious kale to enjoy.

 

Sautéed Kale With Garlic

 

2 bunches of kale, chopped and ribs and stem removed

3 cloves garlic, minced

3 T olive oil

1/4 tsp red pepper flakes

salt and pepper, to taste

 

In a large sauté pan, heat olive oil, and add garlic and red pepper flakes. Cook until the garlic is just lightly browned. Add the kale in batches, tossing it in the oil, each time. Repeat until all kale has been added to the pan. Cover the kale and sauté for approximately 5-6 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste. Mix well, and allow a little moisture to escape pan.

 

Enjoy kale as a side dish or serve it mixed into your favorite pasta as your main course. Delicious and easy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Food | February 3 rd , 2015 | 0 Comments



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