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Posts Tagged ‘Antioxidant’

My family LOVES lentils. They’re one of our favourite legumes because they taste so great, they’re cost effective and you can use them in so many dishes. Lentil patties, vegetarian lasagna, vegetarian Shepard’s Pie, various casseroles and the list goes on…

A bag of green lentils (not cooked or canned) cost $2-4 depending on where you shop. One bag of lentils could potentially make enough meals for a family of four (eating lentils once a week) for a month! They also provide a great source of protein, fiber, vitamin B6, iron and magnesium. Combined with rice, lentils are a complete protein meaning that they provide the body with all essential amino acids (building blocks of protein) making them an ideal protein source.

lentil rice
I made this casserole for the first time a few weeks ago and everyone loved it. It’s so simple to prepare yet so amazing! The one thing to note is the cooking time (2 hours 20 minutes).

Recipe:
Curried Lentil and Rice Casserole
2 TBSP extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 TBSP finely chopped fresh ginger
1 TBSP finely chopped fresh tumeric, or 1 TSP dried
2 TSP curry powder
1 TSP ground cumin
1 TSP ground coriander
1/2 TSP cinnamon
2 TSP sea salt
4 carrots, chopped
1 1/2 cups French Lentils or black beluga lentils
1 cup long grain brown rice
5 cups water
1 cup coconut milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Heat a 10-inch skillet over medium heat. Add the olive oil and onions, saute for 5 to 6 minutes. Add ginger, tumeric, spices, and salt. Continue to saute for another 2 minutes until fragrant.

Place onion-spice mixture into a large casserole dish. Add carrots, lentils, rice, water and coconut milk. Mix together well. Cover and bake for 2 hours.

After 2 hours, turn oven temp up to 425 degrees F. Remove cover and cook for another 20 to 30 minutes to let excess liquid cook off. Stir and serve.

Yield: 4 to 6 servings.

This recipe is compliments of the cookbook called “Nourishing Meals” by Alissa Segersten and Tom Malterre. I use this cookbook at least once a week. It’s $24.95 and can be found at most book stores.

If you have not eaten lentils lately this is a great weekend meal. The bonus is you will have leftovers for the work week ahead!

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Did you know that your liver is the most important organ in your body alongside your heart?!
liver detox
Our liver is the largest internal organ in the body and plays a major role in metabolism, the storage of glycogen, red blood cell decomposition and detoxifying everything that enters the body. It acts like a filter, processing everything we put past our lips including things like pesticides and other chemicals, saturated fats and alcohol. Given the liver’s vital and constant 24/7 job, it’s easy to see how it can become compromised and require support.

Current research indicates that 9 out of 10 people have what is known as a “fatty liver”. There are three major symptoms that indicate you are in need of extra liver support: poor skin (primarily pimples, acne and cellulite), low energy levels (general fatigue for no good reason) and an ever expanding waistline (excess weight around the midsection that will not go away with exercise and diet alone). Alive Magazine – June 2013

If you seem to struggle with losing weight there’s a good chance your liver is the culprit or at least part of the equation. When the liver is burdened with bad fats like those in deep fried foods, baked goods, meats and alcohol it in turn slows your metabolism and inhibits weight loss. The best way to detoxify your liver, increase your metabolism and your body’s ability to function optimally is by way of liver cleansing foods, herbs and/or nutritional supplements.

One of my favourite liver support supplements is:

Sold at Steve Nash Fitness!

Available at Steve Nash Fitness

For those of you who wish to increase the detoxification effects of the liver (in conjunction with a liver support supplement), below is a list of of the best foods:
*dandelion & leafy greens (helps to neutralize metals, chemicals and pesticides)
*cruciferous vegetables (produce enzymes that aid in digestion thus eliminating toxins)
*garlic (activates enzymes that eliminate toxins)
*turmeric (helps with the production of bile)
*beets (high in plant flavonoids that increase liver function)
*grapefruit juice (helps the liver flush out toxins – unsweetened is best)
*green tea (high in antioxidants that support the liver)
*avocados (high in antioxidants and helps the liver filter out harmful materials)
*lemons (aid with digestion & detoxification)
*walnuts (high in omega-3, helping support the liver’s cleansing process)

What are you doing to support your liver?

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These days, many of us are up at the crack of dawn and work longer hours than our bodies (and minds) would like. This can result in an afternoon energy lull. As the workday drags on many people feel the need for something to increase their energy and mental capacity, often reaching for a cup of coffee or other liquid stimulant.

Coffee is by far one of the most popular drinks across Canada. Although plenty of controversial research exists on coffee consumption and its health benefits compared to its negative effects, we love our java!


From the research I have uncovered, 1 cup of brewed coffee has 80-135mg of caffeine; 300mg per day is considered within health standards or safe for the average person. Although coffee does have some health benefits, the list of negative side effects are pretty astonishing: not only is it very addictive, but can cause heartburn, interfere with iron absorption, and also decreases the natural good bacteria in the intestine (not enough good bacteria can cause health implications long term). Coffee alone is not always the culprit, but the sugar and cream we add to it, also adds to our already expanding waistlines! If you can’t quit the habit completely, resist having more than two cups a day.

I can honestly say, I do enjoy an almond milk latte once in a while but I do my best to avoid highly caffeinated beverages; the initial boost is great but the crash that comes a few hours later forces me to reconsider. Over the years, I have found and enjoyed several effective, healthy stimulating beverages that both the sports enthusiast and the habitual caffeine consumer may find enjoyable. Not only do these alternatives offer long term energy but they also boast numerous health benefits! I would like to share a few of these with you.

One of the most highly consumed electrolyte replenishment drinks is Gatorade. For those of you who are not in the habit of reading food labels, Gatorade contains nothing but sugar, salt, water, artificial flavouring and food colouring. Why would you want to put artificial dyes and flavours into your body? Take Emergen-C’s for example: per packet Emergen-C’s contain 24 nutrients, 7 B vitamins, 1000mg of Vitamin C and half the amount of sugar that exists in a bottle of Gatorade. A better choice, hands down!


Two great tasting and nutrient-rich alternatives to coffee are Matcha Green Tea and Yerba Mate. Yerba Mate is a Spanish tea brewed by placing loose tea leaves into hot water and steeping until the desired taste and potency is reached. Like Matcha, Yerba Mate helps to lower bad cholesterol levels, decrease ones risk for cardiovascular related diseases and is a natural source of energy. To top it all off, neither of these beverages are addicting, both are brewed from natural herbs and tea leaves, and provide the body with a steady supply of energy whereby the our energy peaks, and gradually decreases without the extreme low often felt after over consumption of coffee.

Matcha Green Tea is of Japanese heritage and arrives in Canada as a finely milled powder. Matcha differs from green tea in that it has 1300 times greater the amount of antioxidants than green tea alone…pretty amazing! It also helps to lower bad cholesterol when consumed on a regular basis. Matcha powder can also be used in baking or as a natural food colouring agent.

And what about Red Bull, the one that “gives you wings”? It is not only highly addictive and raises your blood pressure, but over-stimulates the central nervous system and oh yeah, tastes disgusting. Don’t go there.

Lastly, those of you in search of a great pre-workout stimulator without extreme heart-racing side effects should try Vega’s Pre-workout Energizer. It’s loaded with 13 plant-based performance-enhancing stimulants, including Yerba Mate, and comes in two yummy fruit flavours: Lemon-lime and Acai Berry. It’s one of the best natural energizers on the market today. Think long term health, and your body will thank you.

I hope the next time you’re in need of a boost you will try some natural alternatives to the typical choices of coffee and soda pop. Your feedback is always welcome…if anyone has an interesting energy drink to share please do!

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Did you know that potatoes are ranked fifth in terms of their antioxidant value compared to that of other vegetables? I was delightfully surprised to learn this fact seeing as potatoes are a staple in our home.

Potatoes are packed with antioxidants, not with calories. One medium sized potato only has 136 calories and is loaded with vitamins and minerals. These night shade vegetables contain vitamin B6, thiamine, riboflavin, folate, magnesium, phosphorous, iron, zinc, potassium, vitamin C and fiber.

The potassium content in one potato with skin offers you between 720mg and 800mg per serving and they even possess vitamin C- half of our daily intake to be exact. Our recommended intake of potassium is 4700mg a day and vitamin C is 2000mg a day, therefore this small spud is a great meal option. Aside from being nutrient dense and a great source of antioxidants, potatoes also help to prevent hypertension, stroke, coronary and cardiovascular diseases. Recent research confirms that antioxidants, like the ones contained in potatoes, can kill both prostate and breast cancer cells.

Potatoes come in a variety of different colours and types. Like most brightly coloured fruits and veggies, purple potatoes contain anthocyanins and have the highest level of antioxidants. Yellow potatoes contain beta-carotene, another powerful antioxidant.

Whether you choose red, yellow, purple, white, fingerling or russet potatoes, they are all extremely healthy, affordable and versatile. Just be sure to buy organic! Because spuds grow IN the soil, they absorb pesticides and other toxins from the earth, so they are in the Top 10 list of produce to buy organic. Be sure to enjoy these tasty vegetables with the skin on to maximize fiber and nutrient intake. Avoid over-boiling potatoes because the nutrients leach into the water and not our bodies where they’re needed.

My two favourite ways to eat potatoes are either in a Soup or as homemade French Fries with garlic aioli. I hope you will enjoy these recipes as much as I do.

Potato Leek Soup
2 lbs potatoes, peeled, diced into 1/2 inch pieces (Yukon Golds are delish!)
3 large leeks, cut lengthwise, separate, clean. Use only the white and pale green parts, chop.
2 Tbsp butter
2 cups water
2 cups chicken broth (or vegetable broth for vegetarian option)
1 small crown of broccoli
1.5-2 cups thinly sliced kale, separated from the rib
Salt & Pepper

*You can make this soup gluten-free by using gluten-free broth.

Cooking Instructions
1. Saute leeks in butter with salt and pepper in a medium sized sauce pan. Cover pan, cook on low heat for 10 minutes. Check often. Do not brown leeks! Browning will give leeks a burnt taste.

2. Add water, broth, and potatoes. Bring to a low simmer and cook for 20 minutes. Scoop about half of the soup mixture into a blender, puree and return to pan, or if you want you can blend it all.

3. Steam broccoli and kale. Add to soup before eating.

4. If you like, you may add a bit of marjoram, parsley, and/or thyme, and a few dashes of hot sauce or tobasco to taste. Add some freshly ground pepper, and 1 tsp salt or more to taste.

Yield: Serves 4-6.


Homemade French Fries with Garlic Aioli
3 Large Russet Pototoes
1-2 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano
*salt and pepper to taste
*baking stone or cookie sheet

Aioli
1/4 cup of low fat mayonnaise
1 large clove of garlic, crushed
1/4-1/2 tsp of curry powder

Cooking Instructions
1. Cut potatoes into strips (fries).
2. Coat with olive oil and toss with spices, salt and pepper.
3. Bake on 375 for 40-45 minutes until done.
4. Enjoy with homemade aioli!

Serves 2.

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Keeping the BEET…

This week’s blog is about the vibrant and nutrient dense vegetable known as the beet.  When I was a kid my Mother told me that beets tasted bad and as a result we never really ate them as part of our family meals.  Like most kids growing up in the ’80’s our staple vegetables were cream corn, peas, broccoli and carrots.  It wasn’t until I had boiled beets at my Grandmother’s that I realized they weren’t so bad.  I can’t say I loved them but they sure tasted better than turnip!

It wasn’t until about 5 years ago, when I moved out west from Ontario, that beets became a part of my regular diet.  While working at the Kootenay Co-op grocery store in Nelson, BC, I completed an extensive project on vegetables and their importance in our diet.  When I started researching beets, a ton of valuable information was available.  I found out that not only are they packed with nutrient compounds that protect against heart disease, birth defects and certain types of cancer, but they also contain antioxidants.

It turns out that beets also have the ability to purify the blood, alleviate constipation, offer liver support and promote menstruation.  As you may or may not know, the B vitamin referred to as folate is crucial in preventing certain birth defects.  One cup of lightly boiled beets contain 136mcg of folate, just over a quarter of a pregnant woman’s required intake- 400mcg daily!  As you can see beets are an important part of a healthy diet.

My favourite way to enjoy beets is either roasted in the oven in a can of coconut milk and curry powder with other root vegetables such as yams, potatoes, carrots, parsnips, onions and of course garlic, or shredded raw on a salad.  Believe it or not beets are actually very sweet and offer a colourful and nutritious addition to any summer salad.  Beets can also be eaten pickled or in soups.

Just remember, as with most vegetables never overcook beets as heat diminishes their anti-cancer properties and their taste.  I hope you will find a way to incorporate beets into your daily diet.  I’ve included one of my favourite raw beet recipes for you to try.

Shredded Beet and Carrot Salad

  • 450 g carrots
  • 450 g raw beets
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely minced or 1 teaspoon garlic paste
  • ¼ cup of currants or raisins
  • ¼ cup of walnut pieces
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon strong Dijon Mustard
  • chili pepper flakes, to taste
  • sea salt & ground pepper to taste

Optional add-ins

  • leafy fresh herb, chopped (cilantro, or flat-leaf parsley) (optional)
  • toasted nuts (almonds, pine nuts, cashews, peanuts) or seeds (sesame, sunflower seeds)
  • grated apples

Directions:

Prep Time: 10 mins

Total Time: 10 mins

  1. Trim, wash and grate the carrots and beets. (If you own a food processor with a grater attachment, yay for you!)
  2. Place the rest of the main ingredients, from garlic to black pepper, in a large salad bowl, add the grated carrots and beets, and toss until well combined.
  3. Add any desired add-ins and toss again.
  4. Taste, adjust the seasoning, and let stand for 30 minutes, if you can, before serving: the beets and carrots will render juices that will make the salad moister.
  5. If you don’t have that kind of time and the salad does not feel quite moist enough, add a dash of citrus juice, tomato juice, or any sort of juice that may currently reside in the refrigerator door.

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