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10:08 am

7 Foods to Add to a Healthy Kitchen in 2017

 

If you’re looking to improve your health, increase your energy and fight off pesky illnesses, look no further than these seven foods. Every whole foods kitchen needs to be stocked with certain essentials that can elevate our health and these superfoods do just that. I make sure I’m always stocked with number 1 and 3 throughout the winter months to keep the sniffles away.

  1. Fermented Foods – These are foods like unpasteurized sauerkraut, kefir, kimchi, raw yogurt, kombucha, miso and tempeh. They are naturally rich in probiotics and feed the beneficial bacteria in your gut. Fermented foods also help to improve digestion and make it easier for us to absorb the nutrients from the foods we eat.

 fermented veggies

Try this: Add a handful of fresh-from-the-farm green beans to a mason jar, fill with a clove of garlic, fresh or dried dill and a few peppercorns. Add 2 tbsp sea salt and fill with water.  Add the lid, gently tighten. Leave on your counter for a few days until you see bubbles, then place in the fridge. Voila! Homemade Fermented Veggies!

 

  1. Coconut & Its Products – I love all things coconut and it’s a great whole food to add to your recipes, especially if you’re trying to avoid dairy. You can drink coconut milk and electrolyte-rich coconut water, add shredded coconut or coconut flour to your baking and snack recipes, and the king of all things coconut is the oil. Coconut oil is great for high heat cooking and sautéing vegetables and meats. Coconut oil is primarily saturated (over 90%), with the bulk of it coming from lauric acid, a medium-chain saturated fatty acid, which has antimicrobial properties.

Try this: Make this delicious Fat-Burning Chocolate Smoothie with coconut oil.

chocolate smoothie


  1. Bone Broth – This superfood is becoming quite trendy and rightfully so. It’s made by simmering animal bones and connective tissue. It’s rich in vitamins and minerals and key amino acids, such as glycine and proline, which are needed to make collagen. Potential health benefits include joint and bone health, along with some claims of reducing inflammation.1

Try this: Save money and make your own broth or stock from leftover bones.

 chicken broth (800x600)

  1. Ghee (Clarified Butter) – Ghee is made from butter that has been slow-cooked to remove the water and milk solids, making it a great high-heat cooking fat for those sensitive to dairy. It contains Vitamins A, D, E and K2, along with butyric acid and other short-chain saturated fats that may reduce inflammation, promote gut health and inhibit cancer growth.2

Try this: Sauté your favorite vegetable or protein in a tablespoon of ghee. My favorite is kale or collard greens, with some pan-seared salmon.

 

  1. Mushrooms – Mushrooms are rich in antioxidants and all of the B vitamins, selenium and copper. They are powerful immune modulators and possess anti-cancer properties.3 Load up on all different kinds like Portobello, Reishi, Lion’s Mane, Shiitake, and Maitake.

 

  1. Raw Cacao – My personal favorite superfood is Cacao – or pure raw, unheated chocolate from the cacao pod. It’s full of antioxidants, fiber, magnesium, iron, copper, and manganese. It can also reduce insulin resistance, which is another common risk factor for many diseases like heart disease and diabetes.4

 

Try this: I like blending raw cacao in my smoothies and teas and using it in snack items, like these Cherry Chocolate Bites.

 cherry chocolate bites

  1. Sea Vegetables – I know what you’re thinking, but stick with me here. There are so many different ones to choose from like arame, dulse, nori, kelp, chlorella and wakame. These edible sea veggies are full of iodine, which can promote healthy thyroid function, along with fiber and health-promoting plant compounds.5 Nori is typically used in sushi rolls, arame is great in a salad, and chlorella is typically ground as a powder and used in smoothies or as a supplement.

 

Try this: Toss some fresh wakame with a little rice wine vinegar, sesame seeds and sesame oil for a delicious salad.

How many of these foods are in your kitchen right now? Share your favorite uses in the comments!

Cindy Santa Ana is an Integrative Nutrition Health Coach and Culinary Nutrition Expert. Her book, Unprocessed Living, shares how to read confusing food labels and how to transition away from processed foods. She helps to inspire her clients to reach their ideal weight and increase their energy while juggling their career and personal life. Find her at www.UnlockBetterHealth.com, @unlockhealthnow and Unlock Better Health on Facebook.

References:

  1. Zhong, Z. "L-Glycine: A Novel Anti-inflammatory, Immunomodulatory, and Cytoprotective Agent." Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition and Metabolic Care.S. National Library of Medicine, 06 Mar. 2003. Web. 08 Dec. 2016.
  2. German, J. Bruce, and Cora J. Dillard. "J Bruce German." Saturated Fats: What Dietary Intake? Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 01 Sept. 2004. Web. 08 Dec. 2016.
  3. Hassan, MA. "Mushroom Lectins: Specificity, Structure and Bioactivity Relevant to Human Disease." International Journal of Molecular Sciences.S. National Library of Medicine, 8 Apr. 2015. Web. 08 Dec. 2016.
  4. Davide, Grassi. "Insulin Sensitivity Increased in Glucose-Intolerant." The Journal of Nutrition. American Society for Nutrition, 7 Sept. 2008. Web. 8 Dec. 2016.
  5. Kapil, Umesh. "Health Consequences of Iodine Deficiency." NCBI. National Institute for Health, 7 Dec. 2007. Web. 8 Dec. 2016.

 


12:08 pm

How to Make a Healing Smoothie



green-682620With summer approaching, I thought it would be a good time to share some tips and tricks on making a nutritious smoothie.  Smoothies can be refreshing in hot weather, but more importantly, they nourish your body on a cellular level and can improve your health, your digestion and your immunity. Made properly, a smoothie can cleanse your body of toxins, assist with weight loss, hydrate you, and provide a simple, quick meal when you’re in a hurry.

Smoothies can serve a few different purposes as well. There’s the breakfast smoothie, the post-workout fuel-up, and the afternoon pick-me-up (or after school snack if you have children). My girls also love popsicles made from smoothies, which sure beats those questionable novelties on the ice-cream truck!

You could use a recipe that tells you exactly how to make a particular smoothie, but I like using this simple Green Smoothie Formula which allows you to get creative in the kitchen.

Easy Green Smoothie Formula:

  1. Start with 2 cups of leafy greens (like baby spinach, Swiss chard, kale, even Romaine lettuce) I like to rotate my greens for maximum nutrient intake.
  2. Add about 1 ½ cups of liquid (water, coconut milk, almond milk, or coconut water)
  3. 1 banana (freeze your overripe ones) or 1 pitted Medjool date
  4. 1 cup of Fresh or Frozen Fruit (pick your favorite, use what is in season or use frozen fruit)
  5. Superfood Boosts: Sprinkle in chia seeds, goji berries, Maca powder, flax seeds, cinnamon, raw cacao, or hemp seeds.

Serves 1-2 – depending on how hungry you are!

Blending Tips:

  1. If you don’t have a powerful blender, whiz your greens and liquids first, then, add your fruits and superfoods.
  2. If using fresh fruit (as opposed to frozen), add a few cubes of ice to chill your smoothie and make it creamy and cool. I like to freeze seasonal fruit to have on hand all year round to make smoothies. Frozen bananas make it super creamy.
  3. You can make these the night before, but store in glass jars with a tight lid. They may need a brief run through the blender right before consuming or a good shake.

The Meal-Replacement Smoothie:

To use a smoothie as a meal replacement, say for breakfast, it’s important to add protein and healthy fats. I like using a tablespoon of a nut butter like cashew or almond butter or you could even add pumpkin or sunflower seeds (if you have a high-powered blender). To add in a healthy fat, you could use a tablespoon of coconut oil or coconut manna or ½ an avocado.

The Post-Workout Smoothie:

Adding in healthy fats like coconut oil, avocado and nut butters can provide your body with the fuel it needs to continue on its fat-burning mission. Protein is essential too and nut butters and seeds are great in a smoothie after a good workout. Low-glycemic berries are best after workouts as well.

Make it Kid-Friendly:

Leafy greens and light-colored fruit like mangoes and pineapple create a bright neon green smoothie. I make these in my Wellness After School class for elementary-aged children and call it my Green Goblin Smoothie. They all love it once they try it, but some are wary of the green color at first.

Using blueberries and strawberries can turn your smoothie purple or pink, which can be more accepting of choosy children.

A Bit About Superfoods:

A “superfood” is basically just a nutrient-dense food that is really great for your health. We’ve all heard of blueberries, wild salmon and broccoli being traditional superfoods, but there’s a few more that are becoming more commonplace that you should consider adding to your diet. Superfoods are high in antioxidants, minerals, vitamins and amino acids – which we all need.

Maca Root

Maca Root is very nutritious and it’s great in smoothies because the smoothie helps mask Maca’s earthy taste. Maca is full of fiber and amino acids, is great for weight loss and it helps deter sugar cravings. It’s also used to boost energy and a sluggish libido. Ancient Peruvians used Maca as a fertility enhancer.

Raw Cacao is another favorite of mine. Cacao is chocolate is its raw, unprocessed form. It contains theobromine which encourages a healthy balance of bacteria in the mouth, speeds up metabolism and boosts energy. It’s also high in antioxidants, fiber and magnesium, and boosts serotonin levels.

What do you put in your green smoothie? Share with us in the comments!