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Sweet Summer Squash

Summer squash in basket

Did you know there were over 40 varieties of squash? Right now summer squash is in its peak season from mid summer to end of summer, buy a few different types of squash summer and try them out. These varieties of summer squash include:

  1. Yellow with a crookneck or straight neck shape
  2. Zucchini that is green or yellow, long or round
  3. Pattypan is a scallop shape

 

When selecting summer squash it is best to choose small, firm squash with bright-colored blemish free skin.

 

Summer squash has a ton of nutritional benefits- One cup of squash has a ton of nutritional benefits, it is high in vitamin C providing 25% of the DV, also contains about 17% of your DV of beta carotene to help with vision degeneration associated with aging. Also yellow squash is very low in calories with only 18 calories per cup, very low in fat and low in carbohydrates.

 

If you are interested in preparing summer squash without a complicated recipe, sautéing is an easy way to bring out sweetness of these vegetables. Chop the squash into small pieces for fast cooking, and allow it to get browned and caramelized. Turn it into a side dish by tossing with beans or cooked grain such as quinoa, a generous handful of fresh herbs and a flavorful cheese like goat or feta.

 

At MySuperFoods we always have a ton on summer squash on hand and lucky for us Katie makes the best zucchini chocolate chip muffins. These muffins are incredible, perfect for a snack or even a sweet treat, so if you have a few extra squash try this recipe https://mysuperfoods.wordpress.com/2013/07/18/what-to-do-with-16-summer-squash/ and hope your friends and family love them as much as we do!

 

To try a new summer squash recipes, check these out!

 

Grilled Squash

Grilled Summer Squash

Adapted from myrecipes.com

 

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups baby zucchini, halved lengthwise
  • 2 cups baby yellow squash, quartered length
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • Cooking spray

 

Directions:

 

Preheat grill to medium-high heat. Combine baby zucchini and baby yellow squash in a large bowl. Add ­olive oil, kosher salt, and black pepper; toss well. Place vegetables on a grill rack coated with cooking spray. Grill 5 minutes on each side or until lightly charred and tender.

 

Squash with mint and goat cheese

Warm Squash Salad With Mint

Adopted from Julie O’Hara at NPR

Yields 4 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 medium zucchini (about 1 pound), trimmed and chopped into half-inch pieces
  • 3 small yellow crookneck squash (about 3/4 pound), trimmed and chopped into half-inch pieces
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 (15.5-ounce) can cannellini beans, rinsed, drained and dried
  • 1/4 cup loosely packed chopped fresh mint
  • 4 ounces goat cheese

Directions:

Add the olive oil to a large nonstick skillet and heat to medium high. Add all the squash, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring frequently, for 10 minutes or until squash is lightly browned and tender (adjust the heat if squash browns too quickly). Transfer to a large serving bowl.

Add the beans and most of the mint to the bowl. Toss gently. Just before serving, crumble the goat cheese over the salad and finish with the rest of the mint.

 

Fettucine squash

Fettuccine With Squash Ribbons

Adopted from Julie O’Hara at NPR

Yields 4 servings

Ingredients:

  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 12 ounces whole-wheat or regular fettuccine
  • Cooking spray
  • 3 fully cooked chicken sausages, preferably spinach and feta or sun-dried tomato flavor
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 to 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes, halved crosswise
  • 3 medium zucchini, trimmed, skin removed and peeled into thin ribbons of about ½ inch wide
  • 3 medium yellow crookneck squash, trimmed, skin removed and peeled into thin ribbons
  • 1/4 cup packed chopped fresh basil
  • Parmigiano-Reggiano for serving

Directions:

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Salt generously and add fettuccine. Cook according to package directions. Reserve about 1 cup of pasta-cooking water and drain.

Meanwhile, coat a nonstick skillet with cooking spray and heat to medium. Add chicken sausage and cook, turning often, until golden brown on each side. Transfer to a cutting board. Allow sausage to rest for a few minutes, then thinly slice on the diagonal.

Add olive oil to skillet and turn heat to medium-low. Add garlic and cook 1 minute. Add tomatoes and cook 3 minutes, or until skin is no longer taut. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Deglaze skillet with about 1/4 cup of reserved pasta-cooking water, loosening any bits from the bottom of the skillet. Remove from heat.

Off the stove, add the zucchini ribbons to the empty pasta pot, followed by the tomato mixture, the drained pasta, the sliced sausage and about three-quarters of the basil. Toss well to combine. If pasta appears dry, add enough of the reserved cooking water to coat the pasta so it looks moist, but not wet.

Divide among 4 bowls and use a vegetable peeler to shave thin pieces of Parmigiano-Reggiano over pasta. Sprinkle with remaining basil and serve immediately.

 

Sources

http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/grilled-summer-squash-50400000120703/

 

http://www.cookinglight.com/food/in-season/in-season-yellow-squash-and-zucchini

 

http://www.livestrong.com/article/349229-the-nutritional-value-of-yellow-squash/

 

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=92739541

 

Be sure to check out

https://mysuperfoods.wordpress.com/2013/07/18/what-to-do-with-16-summer-squash/

 

 

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Super Ingredients

As a mom (or a person) it’s hard to stay on top of the latest and greatest nutritional powerhouse ingredients.  (Nevermind getting everyone up, dressed and fed for the day…)

Here’s a simple breakdown of some of our favorite ingredients, why they are so amazing and some products we buy for our own kids to maximize nutrition:
1. Chia – rich in omega 3s (polyunsaturated fats).  These are essential fatty acids that are good for cognitive development (brain food), asthma, growth, and anti-inflammatory effects.  We used chia in the development of MySuperCookies and also love Nature’s Path Coconut Chia Granola.
You can read more about chia here.
2. Quinoa – Has 8 essential amino acids, which can’t be made by the body, but are needed for brain health, immunity and kidney function.  Quinoa is also high in vitamins A, C and E, which makes it a great antioxidant.  We love Simply 7 Quinoa Chips with Sea Salt.
3. Acerola – tropical superfruit with many health benefits.  It is extremely rich in vitamin C, an essential nutrient that plays a role in immunity health.  MySuperCookies are made with acerola and 1 serving (11 cookies) achieves 50% RDA of Vitamin C.
4. Coconut Oil – Is rich in antioxidants and fiber.  The fatty acids are known to reduce the risk of heart disease.  We love baking with coconut oil and can’t get enough of Emmy’s Organics Dark Cacao Macaroons.
 
Check out our past article on coconut oil here.
5. Flax Seeds – Tiny powerhouses of fiber, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. Flax seeds are easy to sprinkle into smoothies, oatmeal, and pancake batter.  We use flax seeds in all MySuperFoods products but we also love Dr Kracker Pumpkin Seed Cheddar Crackers
 

Here is a bit more about flax seeds.

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Un-BEET-able

Beets are now in season, and it is the perfect time to start incorporating this summer vegetable into a few dishes! If you are not sure where to start, or have never cooked with beets this quick article will help to get you started. First lets explore some nutritional facts about why beets are a great addition to any diet!

 

  1. Beets are a low calorie vegetable that are packed with fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants
  2. They are a great source of naturally occurring folate or folic acid, which is important for a healthy pregnancy. For a woman of childbearing age, one should consume 400 micrograms of folic acid and a pregnant woman should consume 600 micrograms. By consuming the recommended amount of folic acid this will allow for healthy neural tube formation and brain development of the baby.
  3. Consuming beet juice can help lower high blood pressure and help increase stamina when working out due to the amount of nitrate

 

Some beet preparation tips are:

  • Grate raw beets for a colorful addition to salads or decorative garnish
  • Steam beets for 15 minutes to ensure they retain their maximum nutritional value and flavor
  • Marinate steamed beets in fresh lemon juice, extra virgin olive oil, and fresh herbs suggest to Wrap each beet in aluminum foil and bake them at 400˚F for1 and 2 hours, or until the blade of a knife slides easily in and out. After they are cooled slightly, the skins easily rubbed off with a paper towel. Cooked beets are like sponges, so soak in vinaigrette of woodsy sherry vinegar and virgin olive oil.

 

 

Here are a few recipes to try out

 

Beet Tahini

Adapted from Inventive Vegetarian

Ingredients

2 beets

Juice of 2 lemons

2 cloves of garlic

1/2 cup tahini

Salt, to taste

 

Directions

Preheat oven to 400F

 

1. Wash and trim, but don’t peel, the beets, then wrap each one in tin foil and toss it in the oven for 45-60 minutes, until a knife can easily pierce each beet.  Once the beets have cooled enough to handle, rub them with your thumbs and the skins should come off easily.

 

2.  Roughly chop the beets and the garlic and put both in the bowl of a food processor.  Give them a quick pulse to start breaking down the beets.

 

3.  Add the tahini and lemon juice and puree until smooth.  Taste and adjust salt as desired.  Serve cold or room temperature with crackers or raw vegetables.

 

 

Quinoa Salad Recipe with Roasted Beets, Chick Peas, Baby Spinach and Orange

Adapted from Gluten- Free Goddess, Serves 4.

 

Ingredients

3 cups cooked quinoa

2 beets, trimmed and quartered

Olive oil

Sea salt

1/4 cup fruity olive oil

1/4 cup fresh squeezed orange juice

2 teaspoons organic gluten-free tamari sauce

1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar or rice vinegar

1 tablespoon organic raw agave nectar or local honey

1 cup drained rinsed chick peas

2 big handfuls of baby spinach leaves

Sea salt and ground pepper, to taste

1 fresh orange, peeled, trimmed, cut into bite sized pieces

 

Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 375ºF.

 

2. Here’s how to cook quinoa in a rice cooker. While the quinoa is cooking, roast the beets in a medium size roasting pan, by combining the beets with a drizzle of olive oil and sprinkle of sea salt. Place the pan in the center of the oven and roast until the beets are tender (roughly 45 minutes). Remove the beets from the hot pan and set them aside to cool. When cool enough to handle, rub off the skin. Cut the beets into bite sized pieces.

 

3. To make the dressing, combine the olive oil, orange juice, GF tamari, vinegar, and agave in a glass measuring cup and whisk. Set aside.

 

4. Combine the warm, cooked quinoa in a mixing bowl with the chick peas and baby spinach leaves. Pour in the salad dressing and toss lightly. Season with sea salt and pepper, to taste.

 

5. Gently add in the cut up roasted beets and fresh orange pieces. Do not over mix or your entire salad will turn beet red. I think it’s more attractive to keep the staining to a minimum.

 

5. Serve with a sprinkle of fresh goat cheese, or slivered almonds, if desired.

 

 

 

Orange-Glazed Beets

Adapted from VegKitchen, serves: 4 to 6

Ingredients

6 medium beets (or any size, as long as it adds up to about 2 pounds)

2 teaspoons arrowroot or organic cornstarch

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

2/3 cup fresh orange juice

Freshly ground pepper to taste

Grated orange zest for garnish, optional

Minced fresh dill or other herb for garnish

 

Directions

  1. To cook the beets:Rinse the beets and cut away all but an inch of the stalks. Combine in a large deep saucepan with water to cover; bring to a boil, then simmer until just tender. How long this will take varies greatly upon the size of the beets; start checking after about 20 minutes, but don’t poke too many test holes into them, or they’ll bleed like crazy! When done, drain.
  2. No matter which cooking method you use, let the beets cool (you can plunge them into a bowl of cold water to speed things up), and when cool enough to handle, peel them and cut into bite-sized chunks.
  3. Combine the cornstarch and vinegar in a small container and stir until dissolved. Set aside.
  4. Heat the orange juice in a medium saucepan and bring to a gentle simmer. Whisk in the cornstarch and vinegar mixture, stirring carefully to avoid lumps.
  5. Stir in the diced beets. Cook over very low heat until heated through, about 2 to 3 minutes, then transfer to a serving bowl.
  6. If you juiced an organic orange, I highly recommend using grating some of the zest to garnish the beets, along with a sprinkling of dill or other fresh herb. Serve at once or cool until just warm.

Sources:

http://www.eatright.org/Public/content.aspx?id=6442470253&terms=beets

http://theinventivevegetarian.blogspot.com/2013/03/beet-tahini.html

http://glutenfreegoddess.blogspot.com/2011/01/quinoa-salad-with-roasted-beets-chick.html

http://www.vegkitchen.com/recipes/orange-glazed-beets/

http://www.eatright.org/Public/content.aspx?id=6808&terms=folic acid

Be sure to check out for more about beets https://mysuperfoods.wordpress.com/?s=beets&submit=Go

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Super Strawberries

Are you looking for a refreshing summer snack that pairs perfectly with breakfast, lunch or even dessert?  Strawberries are one of our favorite summer foods that we love to incorporate into snacks and with so many health benefits, what isn’t to love?  Strawberries are best eaten when their pinkish-red color is most vibrant.  This bright red color of strawberries is perfect to brighten up the aesthetic display of any meal, so get create and see what you can create! If you are looking for a strawberry that has a greater intensity of flavor, choose a smaller variety because larger ones tend to have greater water content and therefore the flavor of the fruit is diluted.  It was also found that these berries are best eaten within the first 2 days of being picked because they have a major loss of vitamin C and antioxidants; to receive the highest amounts of these vitamins and minerals be sure to buy fresh local produce.  Another tip for keeping your strawberries fresh in the refrigerator is to place them in a cold storage bin or drawer to help boost the humidity in the space and reduce the cold air circulation around the produce. Strawberries have many antioxidants, which we know helps decrease the aging of cells, and also the polyphenols in strawberries play a major role in helping regulate blood sugar response, therefore shown to be a low glycemic index food.  As strawberries are now in season, pick some up at the farmers market and enjoy these flavorful berries! Strawberry fish Strawberry butterfly Stawberry Breakfast

Strawberry flowers

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Oat Bran: The Unsung SuperFood

Screen Shot 2013-10-14 at 3.23.32 PM

Megan Monday articles are written by Megan Kalocinski, a Certified Holistic Nutrition and Health Coach

Oat bran (not to be confused with oatmeal) has long since been an unsung health hero, for its original use was to feed livestock after oats were processed.   Oat bran looks like ground oat flour (not whole oatmeal grain flakes) and is what’s left over once the bran is removed from the actual oat (the outer covering of the oat is stripped for a more “appealing” look).  Because of its rich bran content, oat bran contains about 50% more fiber and soluble fiber than oatmeal, which as we know, helps to lower cholesterol and promote healthy digestion.  That’s not all, however.  This delicious “alternative” grain adds fluffiness and a punch of powerful nutrients to foods, such as protein, selenium, calcium, iron, thiamin, phosphorus, riboflavin, magnesium, and zinc, which is why more and more people are incorporating them into their recipes.  It’s a good thing the smarty-pants at MySuperFoods were wise enough to include this super grain in with their MySuperSnacks Granola Bites!

Here are the other health highlights to this wonder food:

–        FIBER: as aforementioned, a 1-cup cooked serving of oat bran provides 5.7 g, which is about 25% of your daily recommended intake of fiber.

–        POWER PROTEIN: Oat bran also supplies a significant amount of protein, which is important for adult and growing bodies alike to make and repair cells.  Additionally, protein is essential for healthy fetal, childhood and adolescent growth and development.  Our bodies require the essential amino acid phenylalanine, which is plentiful in oat bran.

–        SELENIUM: The important dietary mineral that helps reduce the effects of free radicals and lowers your risk of heart disease and cancer is present in a hefty amount of just 1 cup of cooked oat bran – you can fulfill 31% of your daily recommended dietary allowance!

–        THYROID HEALTH & BRAIN BOOSTER: The essential amino acid mentioned above – phenylalanine – is critical in maintaining neurological health and thyroid function.  Phenylalanine deficiency can cause confusion, lack of energy and studies have even linked it to anorexia, which is why it’s important you get enough…and you certainly will by eating oat bran.  Selenium combines with proteins to produce selenoproteins which combat the effect of free-radicals, disease (like heart disease and cancer), and also boosts thyroid and immune health.

–        HELPS TO REDUCE CHOLESTEROL: the high fiber and soluble fiber content help to lower bad cholesterol levels and raise healthy levels.  The soluble fiber in oat bran helps to reduce the low-density lipoprotein (LDL), a.k.a. the “bad” cholesterol.  This fiber also reduces the absorption of cholesterol into the bloodstream and is considered much more efficient than oatmeal, which contains 50% less fiber than oat bran.

–        FIGHT INFLAMMATION: the high fiber content also attributes to lowering inflammation in the body, which can help those suffering from arthritis, high blood pressure, or auto-immune diseases.

–        FEEL FULLER LONGER: there is no better way to keep your belly full longer than to fill it with a high-fiber food that takes longer to digest and travel through the digestive system (which is also really helpful at cleaning out all of the “junk” left behind in your body!).  Many people have added oat bran to their foods to help them stay fuller longer and burn energy slower.  Once consumed, oat bran enters the digestive tract where its soluble fiber absorbs water, “takes up space”, and forms a gel-like substance, creating a feeling of fullness.  Interestingly enough, oat bran absorbs about 25 times its volume in liquid, so you can imagine how much space that takes up in your stomach.  To be exact, a tablespoon of oat bran (about half an ounce) forms a 13 ounce ball in the stomach.

–        BALANCE BLOOD SUGAR AND HELP BEAT TYPE II DIABETES: help combat blood sugar spikes by eating foods higher in fiber, which oat bran definitely promises.  Because it takes longer for the body to digest fiber (or not break it down at all), blood sugar levels stay stabilized longer and do not experience the “crash” that happens when high-sugar or carbohydrate foods enter the body.  As a result, this definitely helps keep blood-sugar diseases like hypoglycemia and Type II diabetes from standing a chance.   The gel-like ball that forms once oat bran is eaten passes through your digestive system and is broken down into a mix of fatty acids, amino acids, and glucose (all for energy, growth, and repair).  This process also slows down the break-down of sugar and further helps to remove calories from the body by reducing the absorption of dietary fat, while keeping your blood sugar levels low and stable (remember….unused sugar in the body turns to and is stored as fat).

–        CONSIDERED GLUTEN FREE: While oat bran is gluten-free by nature, it all depends on how and where it is processed, packaged, etc.  True gluten-free products need to be manufactured/packaged in a facility that is completely sterile from gluten (ANYTHING that contains wheat, barley, or rye).  You can find specially manufactured brands of oat bran that are certified gluten free.  Regardless, what a great alternative for those who suffer from gluten sensitivities or intolerances!

–        RICH IN ANTIOXIDANTS: Who knew that a bran could be rich in free-radical, aging, and disease-fighting antioxidants!??!  Another bonus for oat bran and all of its ways to keep the human body healthy.

How to Use Oat Bran

Oat bran has a natural nutty taste and texture.  There are many different ways to incorporate oat bran into your family’s diet, but here are some of the more common and delicious ways:

  • You can eat it by itself as a hot cereal made with water and/or milk (or nut milk).  Combine 1 part oat bran with 2 parts liquid (milk or nut milk) and cook over medium heat for 5 to 7 minutes, or until most of the liquid is absorbed.  Toss with fresh or dried fruit and drizzle with honey for a wholesome breakfast.
  • Try mixing it in with yogurt or cottage cheese to add fiber with your calcium.
  • Add a scoop to your favorite pancake, waffle, muffin, cookie, or other baked good recipe.  The possibilities are endless with what you can add oat bran to.
  • Add a tablespoon or two into a smoothie.
  • Bread meat or fish in egg and then coat with oat bran for a crunchy texture and nutrient boost without added fat.
  • Add 1/3 cup of oat bran to meat loaf.

Storage

Like flaxseed, oat bran contains a little naturally-occurring fat that is susceptible to going rancid.  When buying in the store, look for products in well-sealed containers.  If you’re buying in bulk, buy from a store that moves its stock quickly and be sure the product is free from any moisture (the oat bran will be clumpy looking) and has a faint nutty smell (this is natural).  Because oat bran has a tendency to go rancid quickly if not stored properly, take precautions to prolong its shelf-life.  It should be stored in a tightly sealed container in a cool, dark and dry place.   Even better, store it in the freezer in a tightly sealed container.  You can cook with oat bran directly out of the freezer in recipes or on its own – no thawing required.

 

 

Nutrition Information (Per 3/4-cup of cooked oat bran)

Calories 66 kcal
Protein 5.3 g
Fat 1.4 g
Carbohydrate 18.8 g
Fiber 4.3 g
Sodium 2 mg
Calcium 16 mg
Vitamin B1 (thiamine) 0.26 mg
Vitamin B2 0.06 mg

 

Source: Canadian Nutrient File, 2007b

Megan Monday articles are written by Megan Kalocinski, a Certified Holistic Nutrition and Health Coach and Owner/Founder of Empower Nutrition & Health Coaching.  Megan educates and empowers women, men, and children of all ages to learn the true ins-and-outs of “feeding the brain with knowledge about the best foods and habits for one’s body” in order to reach optimal health and wellness potentials. Visit her website today to learn more: http://www.exponentialhealthandwellness.us or feel free to send her an e-mail at: megan@empowerhealthcoach.com.Screen Shot 2013-10-14 at 3.23.32 PM

 

References:

http://www.healthyeating.sfgate.com

http://www.dukandiet.com

http://www.allaboutoatbran.com

Priyanekeshu Parihar (Yahoo Contributor)

Leslie Beck, RD

 

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MEGAN MONDAY: Amazing Amaranth

amaranthHave you perused the ingredient list on the back of a MySuperFoods’ MySuperSnack Granola Bite pouch and come across that intriguing amaranth flour?  While I’m definitely not trying to over-stereotype, I bet I could envision a few puzzled looks and some funny pronunciations – as I recall the first time I ever heard of amaranth several years ago when I was studying nutrition.  “Ama-what? Ah-mah-ranth?  A-mar-ranth?”  It’s actually pronounced: “am-uh-ranth” and it’s packed with insanely nutrient-dense awesomeness, which is why MySuperFoods uses it in their products, of course!

Amaranth actually describes a genus of an herb that has over 60 species, has been around for centuries, originated in South America and Mexico, and interestingly enough, much of the world considers it a weed.  Yet that does not stop those who know about its health powers to consume it as a grain, vegetable, and cereal.  Amaranth shares many of the same nutritional values as quinoa, so many people have turned to this alternative as another option during meals.  Grain amaranth is very palatable and is easy to cook and include in snacks and dishes.  Like Swiss Chard, amaranth is grown and consumed as a leafy vegetable in many countries around the world.  It is commonly boiled, steamed, or included in soups and stir-frys.

Here are some health facts that you should know about amaranth to understand its greatness and versatility:

Rich in Vitamins – Amaranth is full of essential vitamins, specifically a good source of vitamin A, C, E, K, B5, B6, folate, niacin, and riboflavin.  These act as antioxidants, raise energy, control hormones, and much more.

Hefty on Minerals – Amaranth includes numerous minerals such as calcium, iron, copper, magnesium, and especially manganese.  It is also a good source of zinc, potassium, and phosphorus. These build strong bones and muscles, aid hydration, boost energy, and are vital in thousands of processes.  When comparing the mineral content of calcium, iron, and magnesium in common foods, amaranth is much more like Swiss chard than wheat. It contains about four times as much calcium as wheat and twice as much iron and magnesium.  That’s quite the difference!

Protein Powerhouse – Amaranth contains large amounts of complete protein (meaning that it contains a complete set of amino acids, therefore you do not need to consume different sources of proteins to obtain the recommended daily value), and weighs-in at up to 30% more protein than wheat flour, rice and oats.  Notably, amaranth’s rich protein content is also very bioavailable and more digestible than other grains (it has been compared to the digestibility of milk protein).  According to Plant Foods for Human Nutrition, “The Institute of Nutrition of Central America and Panama in Guatemala conducted a comparative study between the protein in amaranth and cheese protein.  Researchers concluded that the protein in amaranth is among the most nutritious vegetable-based protein and can be considered on-par with protein from animal-based products.”

Naturally Gluten Free – amaranth lacks gluten, which is a problematic protein contained in many true grains.

Full of Fiber – Amaranth is a high fiber food, making it filling and aiding to one’s digestive health, cholesterol, and blood pressure.  An added bonus is that it slows the absorption of sugars to let the body keep up with energy production.  Cooked amaranth is 90% digestible.

 

Amino Acids and Lysine – as mentioned earlier, amaranth contain essential amino acids, including lysine, which vegetables and grains tend to lack.  Most cereal grains, like wheat, are relatively low in this amino acid.  Alternatively, amaranth is relatively rich in this amino acid, containing approximately twice as much lysine as wheat on an ounce-for-ounce basis. Lysine is of interest because it has clinically shown potential for cancer treatment and helps the body absorb calcium, build muscle, and produce energy.

Boost Immunity – Due to the potent array of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, amaranth may boost immune function according to some studies.

 

Fight Inflammation – The anti-inflammatory properties in the peptides (short chains of amino acids, which ultimately make up proteins) and oils of amaranth can ease pain and reduce inflammation. This is especially important for chronic conditions like diabetes, heart disease, and stroke, where inflammation erodes at health on a daily basis.

 

Cancer and Disease Prevention The same peptides in amaranth that protect against inflammation may also help prevent cancer.  The antioxidants in this grain may also help protect cells from damage that can lead to cancer.

According to the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, molecular biologists in Mexico set out to study the properties of amaranth and in 2008, were the first to report presence of a special peptide that closely mirrored one that has been previously identified in soybeans and is widely thought to have cancer-preventive benefits as well as possibly blocking inflammation. 

Heart Health and Cholesterol Control – The oils and phytosterols in amaranth have been shown to help prevent and treat those with hypertension and cardiovascular disease.  Regular consumption of amaranth can reduce cholesterol levels, including LDL (bad cholesterol) and triglycerides, and lower blood pressure. The fiber and phytonutrients in amaranth lower blood pressure according to some recent studies.  According to the journal Lipids in Health and Disease, “Russian researchers used a 1996 study conducted on chickens as a model to determine whether or not amaranth would also show benefits for patients with cardiovascular disease (CVD).  Patients who presented with coronary heart disease and hypertension not only showed benefits from the inclusion of amaranth in their diets, researchers also saw a decrease in the amounts of total cholesterol, triglycerides, and LDL significantly.”

 

Grey Hair Prevention – as odd as it may sound, some research has even shown that grain amaranth shows promise in prevention of premature greying of the hair, suspecting that the high mineral content has a role in this.

A Word of Caution With Leaves of Amaranth – Amaranth’s (not the grain) moderately high content of oxalic acid inhibits much of the absorption of calcium and zinc.  It should be avoided or eaten in moderation by those with gout, kidney disorders or rheumatoid arthritis.   Reheating cooked amaranth leaves is not recommended, particularly for consumption by young children, because the nitrates in the leaves can be converted to nitrites, as in spinach.

Uses for Amaranth:

  • Grain amaranth can be simmered like other grains and has a porridge-like texture. It can be combined with other grains if you desire a more “rice-like” dish.
  • Grain amaranth can also be popped in a skillet like popcorn, which gives it a nutty flavor and crunchy texture.
  • You can easily make amaranth flour by taking dry amaranth grain and running it through a Vitamix blender or a nut/seed blender until you have a fine powder/flour that you can use in many recipes for a healthy, gluten-free alternative to wheat flours.
  • I normally eat grain amaranth at breakfast, where I make a hot cereal out of it.  I buy amaranth grain in bulk and it’s inexpensive and easy to store in glass jars.
    • I rinse my amaranth off first before cooking.
    • In a stovetop pot, I combine about 1 cup of amaranth grain to about 3 ½ cups of water and bring to a boil.  You can cover it and let simmer until it thickens up; stir frequently.  This will make enough for left-overs for yourself or for about 2-3 people.
    • I like to add chopped walnuts or pecans to my amaranth with some raisins or dates and even a little cinnamon.  It’s delicious and will hold you over for awhile.

Here is a great summary on how to cook amaranth by the Whole Grains Council:

“Cooking amaranth is very easy – measure grains and water, boil water, add grains, gently boil with the occasional stir for 15-20 minutes, then drain, rinse, and enjoy!  Yes, it’s really that simple.

Cooked amaranth behaves a little differently than other whole grains.  It never loses its crunch completely, but rather softens on the inside while maintaining enough outer integrity so that the grains seem to pop between your teeth.  In fact, the sensation of chewing a spoonful of cooked amaranth grains has been compared to eating a spoonful of caviar (without the salty fishiness, of course).

None of our culinary experts reported any success when trying to prepare amaranth for a pilaf, but the cooked grains can be spread on a plate or other flat surface to dry a bit, then sprinkled on salads, added to cookie batters, or stirred into soups.

In fact, there’s only one real rule to follow when cooking up a batch of plain amaranth – don’t skimp on the water!  We suggest at least 6 cups of water for every one cup of amaranth, not because the little grains will absorb that much liquid, but because of what happens to the water that’s left.  Our experiments with the average amount of liquid (about 2 cups) left us with about two inches of excess water that was goopy and viscous, in part due to starch being released by amaranth as it cooks.  The grains hadn’t gone bad or anything, and they were fine after a brief rinse in a fine-mesh strainer, but it was a bit of a surprise.”

Here are some more recipes:

Reference:

US Department of Agriculture, Whole Grains Council, and World’s Healthiest Foods.

Megan Monday articles are written by Megan Kalocinski, a Certified Holistic Health and Nutrition Coach and Owner/Founder of Empower Health & Nutrition Coaching of Exponential Health and Wellness, LLC: http://www.exponentialhealthandwellness.us

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OUTSTANDING OATS!

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Let’s Hear It for Outstanding Oats

I thought it would be a neat idea to showcase some of the great ingredients that are used in MySuperSnack Granola Bites, and what better way to kick off the series than with highlighting one of my favorites – oats.  Since I’ve been a little kid, I have heard time and time again how eating oatmeal is one of the healthiest ways to start your day.  Many heart patients and individuals seeking to lower their cholesterol and add fiber to their diets are encouraged to eat oats daily.  As a health coach, I suggest oats to most of my clients, as I feel they offer so many nutritional benefits – there’s really no reason NOT to utilize this gift from nature.

As parents, we are always seeking ways to feed our families and ourselves quick, easy, and healthy options, and oatmeal has to top the charts for versatility and ease.  Thanks to versions of “quick cooking” oats now available, offering oatmeal in the morning to our families is a great way to get nutritious goodness into everyone while allowing the kids to get creative with what they can add to the oatmeal for flavor – fresh fruit, spices, a pinch of maple syrup or other natural sweetener… not to mention all of the recipes you can make with oatmeal.  From pancakes to breads to cookies – you can make a plethora of great things…even gluten-free options for those sensitive or allergic to wheat, barley, or rye.  We love putting uncooked oatmeal into our Vitamix to add to smoothies in the morning for added energy, fiber, and substance.

 

 

Here are some interesting facts about oats (SOURCE: The World’s Healthiest Foods) –

  • Oats (scientific name: Avena sativa) are a hardy cereal grain crop that can withstand poor soil conditions, are harvested in the fall, but can last throughout the year if stored properly.

 

  • Oats originally came from Asia and slowly migrated to parts of Europe before making their way to the Americas by traders and explorers.  People have been cultivating oats for over two thousand years for food and medicinal purposes.

 

  • Unlike many other grains, oats do not lose their nutritional power once hulled.  This process does not strip away their bran and germ, thus keeping their high fiber and nutrient content intact.

Amazing Health Benefits of Oats –

  • Oats are great sources of FIBER.  Check out the chart to see how much is packed into a 1 cup serving:

Food

Fiber Content in Grams

Oatmeal, 1 cup 3.98
Whole wheat bread, 1 slice 2
Whole wheat spaghetti, 1 cup 6.3
Brown rice, 1 cup 3.5
Barley, 1 cup 13.6
Buckwheat, 1 cup 4.54
Rye, 1/3 cup 8.22
Corn, 1 cup 4.6
Apple, 1 medium with skin 5.0
Banana, 1 medium 4.0
Blueberries, 1 cup 3.92
Orange, 1 large 4.42
Pear, 1 large 5.02
Prunes, 1/4 cup 3.02
Strawberries, 1 cup 3.82
Raspberries, 1 cup 8.36

 

  • High in nutrients magnesium, zinc, phosphorus, manganese and selenium, oats help us round out our nutritional needs from whole food sources rather than manufactured vitamins.

 

  • Why is selenium important, in particular?  The selenium present in oats poses as a necessary “cofactor” or helper of the important antioxidant, glutathione peroxidase.  What this means is selenium works with vitamin E in numerous vital antioxidant systems throughout the body, which in turn, make selenium helpful in decreasing asthma symptoms and in the prevention of heart disease. In addition, selenium is involved in DNA repair and is associated with a reduced risk for cancer, especially colon cancer.

 

  • It’s a low-calorie food that boasts high levels of protein (combined with fiber), which means that it will keep you fuller longer, your body will burn it better over time, and it will help stave off cravings, especially for sweets.  As the soluble fiber of oats is digested, it forms a gel, which causes the “thickness” of the contents of the stomach and small intestine to be increased. The gel delays stomach emptying making you feel full longer which helps with weight maintenance. New research suggests that children between ages 2-18 years old who have a constant intake of oatmeal lowered their risk of obesity. The research found that the children who ate oatmeal were 50% less likely to become overweight, when compared to those children that did not eat it.  This is perfect for starting our young ones off to a healthy start!

 

  • People eat oats to help LOWER CHOLESTEROL.  According to researchers, “Oats, oat bran, and oatmeal contain a specific type of fiber known as beta-glucan. Since 1963, study after study has proven the beneficial effects of this special fiber on cholesterol levels. Studies show that in individuals with high cholesterol (above 220 mg/dl), consuming just 3 grams of soluble oat fiber per day (an amount found in one bowl of oatmeal) typically lowers total cholesterol by 8-23%. This is highly significant since each 1% drop in serum cholesterol translates to a 2% decrease in the risk of developing heart disease.”

 

  • Help ward-off HEART DISEASE with oats!  According to a study conducted at Tufts University and published in The Journal of Nutrition, “Oats, via their high fiber content, are already known to help remove cholesterol from the digestive system that would otherwise end up in the bloodstream. Now, the latest research suggests they may have another cardio-protective mechanism.  Antioxidant compounds unique to oats, called avenanthramides, help prevent free radicals from damaging LDL cholesterol, thus reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease.” 

 

  • BOOST IMMUNITY with oats! In laboratory studies reported in Surgery, beta-glucan significantly enhanced the human immune system’s response to bacterial infection. Beta-glucan not only helps neutrophils (the most abundant type of non-specific immune cell) navigate to the site of an infection more quickly, it also enhances their ability to eliminate the bacteria they find there.  Starting your day with a bowl of oatmeal may boost your immune response in addition to your morning energy levels.

 

  • BALANCE BLOOD SUGAR AND HELP FIGHT TYPE-2 DIABETES – Studies also show that the aforementioned beta-glucan in oatmeal has beneficial effects in diabetes as well. “Type 2 diabetes patients given foods high in this type of oat fiber or given oatmeal or oat bran rich foods experienced much lower rises in blood sugar compared to those who were given white rice or bread.” Starting out your day with a blood sugar stabilizing food such as oats may make it easier to keep blood sugar levels under control the rest of the day, especially when the rest of your day is also supported with nourishing fiber-rich foods.  Additionally, oats are a rich source of magnesium, a mineral that acts as a co-factor for more than 300 enzymes, including those involved in the body’s use of glucose and insulin secretion.

 

  • OATS CAN HELP CHILDHOOD ASTHMA!  Research conducted by the International Study on Allergy and Asthma in Childhood found that increasing consumption of oats, whole grains, and/or fish could reduce the risk of childhood asthma by about 50%.  With the American Lung Association reporting that almost 20 million Americans suffer from this harrowing respiratory disease, which is reported to be responsible for over 14 million lost school days in children, and an annual economic cost of more than $16.1 billion, I would think families would be thrilled to know that eating oats could help combat this risk.  What about oats that could attribute to this health benefit is the numerous anti-inflammatory compounds found in fish, oats, and whole grains, notably, the omega-3 fats supplied by cold water fish and the magnesium and vitamin E provided by whole grains.

 

  • Do you need to watch GLUTEN in your home due to a sensitivity or CELIAC’S DISEASE?  While some individuals and healthcare providers will caution to avoid oats if there is a gluten issue, it is becoming more widely accepted and encouraged for CLEAN-SOURCED oats (those NOT prepared in a facility or on machinery that also processes wheat, barley, or rye) to be added to the diet.  Many times, oats are prepared on such “contaminated” machinery, which is why they have been cautioned against, not to mention their close relativity to whole grains.  Oats can also contain gluten from nearby wheat field contamination and processing facilities.

 

Scientifically speaking in regards to gluten issues, oats lack many of the prolamines (proteins) found in wheat (gluten) that causes reactions in sensitive individuals.  However, oats do contain avenin, which is a prolamine that is considered toxic to the intestinal mucosa of avenin-sensitive individuals, so please use caution if you know you are avenin-sensitive.  Many studies have shown that many celiacs can consume wheat free oats with no problems.

Recent studies of adults have shown that oats, despite the small amount of gluten they contain, are well-tolerated.  Research states that “a double blind, multi-center study involving 8 clinics treating 116 children newly diagnosed celiac disease suggests oats are a good grain choice for children with celiac disease as well. The children were randomly assigned to receive either the standard gluten-free diet (no wheat, barley, rye or oats) or a gluten-free diet with some wheat-free oat products. At the end of the study, which ran for a year, all the children were doing well, and in both groups, the mucosal lining of the small bowel (which is damaged by wheat gluten in celiac disease) had healed and the immune system (which is excessively reactive in celiac patients) had returned to normal.” While this is great news for those whose diets are restricted due to gluten issues, be sure to clarify with your healthcare provider first before deciding to incorporate oats (and careful selection of the “cleanest” type of oats is a must).

Types of Oats to Look Out For:

You may have seen different types of oatmeal or oat products lining the shelves in stores.  Confused by what you see?  Here is a simple break-down of common types of oat products and what they are used for –

  • Oat groats: un-flattened kernels that are good for using as a breakfast cereal or for stuffing.
  • Steel-cut oats: featuring a dense and chewy texture, they are produced by running the grain through steel blades that thinly slices them.  Steel cut oats take longer to cook than traditional oats or quick-cooking oats.
  • Old-fashioned oats: have a flatter shape that is the result of their being steamed and then rolled.
  • Quick-cooking oats: processed like old-fashioned oats, except they are cut finely before rolling allowing them a faster time to prepare.
  • Instant oatmeal: produced by partially cooking the grains and then rolling them very thin. Oftentimes, sugar, salt and other ingredients are added to make the finished product, so be careful when selecting.  I always read the ingredients and sugar content on the package before selecting.
  • Oat bran: the outer layer of the grain that resides under the hull. While oat bran is found in rolled oats and steel-cut oats, it may also be purchased as a separate product that can be added to recipes or cooked to make a hot cereal.
  • Oat flour: used in baking, it is oftentimes combined with wheat or other gluten-containing flours when making leavened bread, cakes, or cookie-type products.
  • If you purchase prepared oatmeal products such as oatmeal, look at the ingredients to ensure that the product does not contain any salt, sugar or other additives.
  • When cooking all types of oats, it is best to add the oats to cold water and then cook at a simmer. The preparation of rolled oats and steel-cut oats require similar proportions using two parts water to one part oats. Rolled oats take approximately 15 minutes to cook while the steel-cut variety takes about 30 minutes.
  • When storing oats, take special caution to ensure their freshness.  It’s recommended to buy small quantities at a time since there is a chance of oats going rancid over time (like ground flax seed) due to its slightly higher fat content than other grains. While buying a container or a box of small packets of oats is readily available, it may be cheaper to buy oats in bulk.  If buying in bulk, make sure that the bins containing the oats are covered, free from debris, and that the store has a good product turnover so as to ensure its maximal freshness.  Smell the oats to make sure that they are fresh. Whether purchasing oats in bulk or in a packaged container, make sure there is no evidence of moisture.

Store oatmeal in an airtight container in a cool, dry and dark place it they will keep for approximately two months.

 

Oats- Complete Nutrient Listing

amount

1 cup cooked

 
total weight

234.00 g

 
BASIC MACRONUTRIENTS AND CALORIES

nutrient

amount

%Daily Value

Protein

5.94 g

11.88

Carbohydrates

28.08 g

9.36

Fat – total

3.56 g

5.48

Dietary Fiber

3.98 g

15.92

Calories

166.14

9.23

MACRONUTRIENT AND CALORIE DETAIL

nutrient

amount

%Daily Value

Carbohydrate:
Total Sugars

0.63 g

 
Monosaccharides

0.05 g

 
Disaccharides

0.58 g

 
Soluble Fiber

2.34 g

 
Insoluble Fiber

1.64 g

 
Other Carbohydrates

23.47 g

 
Fat:
Monounsaturated Fat

1.02 g

4.25

Polyunsaturated Fat

1.31 g

5.46

Saturated Fat

0.73 g

3.65

Trans Fat

0.00 g

 
Calories from Fat

32.01

 
Calories from Saturated Fat

6.53

 
Cholesterol

0.00 mg

0.00

Water

195.65 g

 
MICRONUTRIENTS

nutrient

amount

%Daily Value

Vitamins
Water-Soluble Vitamins
B-Complex Vitamins
Vitamin B1

0.18 mg

12.00

Vitamin B2

0.04 mg

2.35

Vitamin B3 (Niacin Equivalents)

0.53 mg

 
Vitamin B6

0.01 mg

0.50

Vitamin B12

0.00 mcg

0.00

Biotin

— mcg

Choline

17.32 mg

4.08

Folate

14.04 mcg

3.51

Pantothenic Acid

0.73 mg

7.30

Vitamin C

0.00 mg

0.00

Fat-Soluble Vitamins
Vitamin A (Retinoids and Carotenoids)
Vitamin A IU

0.00 IU

0.00

Vitamin A RAE

0.00 RAE

 
Retinol RE

0.00 RE

 
Carotenoid RE

0.00 RE

0.00

Beta-Carotene

0.00 mcg

 
Lutein and Zeaxanthin

421.20 mcg

 
Lycopene

0.00 mcg

 
Vitamin D    
Vitamin D IU

— IU

Vitamin D mcg

— mcg

 
Vitamin E    
Vitamin E Alpha-Tocopherol Equivalents

0.19 mg

0.95

Vitamin E IU

— IU

 
Vitamin E mg

— mg

 
Vitamin K

0.70 mcg

0.88

Minerals

nutrient

amount

%Daily Value

Boron

— mcg

 
Calcium

21.06 mg

2.11

Chloride

— mg

 
Chromium

— mcg

Copper

0.17 mg

8.50

Fluoride

0.17 mg

5.67

Iodine

— mcg

Iron

2.11 mg

11.72

Magnesium

63.18 mg

15.79

Manganese

1.36 mg

68.00

Molybdenum

— mcg

Phosphorus

180.18 mg

18.02

Potassium

163.80 mg

4.68

Selenium

12.64 mcg

18.06

Sodium

166.14 mg

6.92

Zinc

2.34 mg

15.60

INDIVIDUAL FATTY ACIDS

nutrient

amount

%Daily Value

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

0.04 g

1.67

Omega-6 Fatty Acids

1.27 g

 

 

 

Need Some Creative Ideas and Recipes for Ways to Incorporate Oatmeal?

  • A great way to start your day—add your favorite nuts and fruits to a piping hot bowl of oatmeal.
  • Healthy versions of oatmeal cookies are a favorite for every one of all ages.
  • Add oat flour or whole oats the next time you make bread or muffins.
  • Sprinkle oat bran on your hot or cold cereal.
  • Oat groats make a great basis for stuffing for poultry.
  • You can make your own oat flour!  Simply add oats to a Vitamix or food processor and blend on high until you have a smooth flour.  Be sure to store in an air-tight container.

Here are some great oatmeal recipes already featured on MySuperFoods:

https://mysuperfoods.wordpress.com/2013/03/28/zoe-lucas-chocolate-chip-oatmeal-cookies/

https://mysuperfoods.wordpress.com/2012/11/10/oatmeal-date-and-apple-muffins/

https://mysuperfoods.wordpress.com/2012/10/29/pumpkin-pie-oatmeal-with-pumpkin-cream/

https://mysuperfoods.wordpress.com/2012/10/19/pumpkin-oatmeal-muffins/

https://mysuperfoods.wordpress.com/2012/09/06/chocolate-peanut-butter-oatmeal-balls/

https://mysuperfoods.wordpress.com/2012/08/18/baked-honey-oatmeal-with-raspberries-and-pistachios/

 

 

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Everything You Ever You Wanted To Know About Melons!

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One of THE best things about summer (in addition to longer days, warmer weather and beach holidays) is the amazing abundance of sweet seasonal fruits it brings us. One of my and my children’s favorites are melons! Honeydew, cantaloupe and watermelons are natures candy! They are hydrating, sweet and packed with nutrition! Here’s a quick guide on how to pick, store and enjoy these all summer long.

**When preparing melons, always wash the outside thoroughly with cold water and do not use the same knife that you used to cut the surface, to cut the inside. Melons can (on rare occassions) have salmonella on the surface, so it’s better to safe**

HONEYDEW MELONS
– Every bite has 50% RDA Vitamin C, Potassium, Copper and B Vitamins
– Pick a heavy one with a waxy, not fuzzy rind; it should be heavy and the surface should bounce back when pressed
– If melon is ripe, cut it and store in plastic wrap or air tight container; will last in refrigerator for about 4 days or can be frozen for 10-12 months (great for making smoothies or ice pops)

CANTALOUPE:
– Good source of Vitamin A, C, Folate and Potassium
– Pick a heavy one with a clean rind (no bruises or marks)
– If it is not ripe, you can speed up the process by storing them with pears or bananas
– After cutting melon, keep in refrigerator with seeds (as this helps keep it soft), keep in refrigerator for 3 days or freezer for 10-12 months

WATERMELON:
– Great source of Vitamin C, B Vitamins and Lycopene; good source of Potassium and Magnesium
– Watermelon are one of the least pesticide sprayed fruits, so you can buy it conventional
– So the trick to picking a great watermelon is to put your ear on it and knock — the sound should be hollow (not too hollow, but not solid)
– If you’re buying cut watermelon, color should be red/deep pink
– A whole watermelon can be stored outside the refrigerator, in a cool dark place — it will last much longer than in the refrigerator
– Cut and store the same way you would a cantaloupe

ENJOY!

http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/features/honeydew-7-healthy-facts

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Hemp Hemp Hooray!

imgresHemp is a word that may get some of you thinking back to the days of the Grateful Dead…or some of you may be scratching your heads wondering why we would be highlighting  this superfood as something commonly misunderstood as marijuana.  While both hemp and marijuana belong to the same plant species, they belong to a different subspecies.  Hemp is bred to maximize fiber, seed, and/or oil, while marijuana varieties seek to maximize THC (the psychoactive substance that makes marijuana an illegal drug in the Western world).  Hemp actually belongs to the same family of plants as mulberry, which is known for its ability to survive nearly every climate on Earth.  Even better, hemp does not require any of the pesticides or herbicides that are used to keep weak plants alive.  The best part of the hemp plant is that it produces a tasty (rich nutty flavor) superfood as a seed.

A brief history of hemp is that its production is probably the oldest industry on the planet, going back more than ten thousand years.  The oldest relic of human industry is a piece of hemp fabric dating back to approximately 8000 BC.  Hemp has played a vital role in agriculture and culture – especially in America.  The “hamp” place name (New Hampshire, Hampstead, Hampton, etc.) references locations where hemp was once grown.  George Washington and Thomas Jefferson both grew hemp on their farms and Ben Franklin owned a hemp paper mill.  Hemp continued as a massive agricultural crop in North America until the late 1930s.  (SOURCE: “Superfoods” by David Wolfe).  So…. Why isn’t hemp as readily used today?  A long story short, there was a bunch of political and lobbying hoop-la that occurred in the early 1930s when the media giant Hearst (in coalition with DuPont Corporation) led a crusade to ban hemp because the two companies found a more profitable way to produce paper using trees rather than the widely-used hemp plant at the time.  Hemp was incorrectly classified as marijuana as banned in 1937 with the Marijuana Tax Act (hemp production briefly resumed during WWII when its resources were needed for the war efforts).  As a result, the hemp plant and all of its glory has been sheltered since, but is quickly making a comeback due to its resourcefulness (and the fact that people are aware that it’s NOT the same as THC-containing marijuana).

The hemp plant is extremely useful – all parts of the plant can be used.  In fact, hemp can be used to make virtually anything that is currently made of cotton, timber, or petroleum.  Getting into the health benefits of hemp, here is a complete run-down of why you should consider incorporating hemp into your daily dietary regime (SOURCE: “Superfoods” by David Wolfe).  Warning: You’ll probably want to run out right away and get a bag of hempseeds after you learn how incredibly good they are for the human body:

  • First off, hempseeds are pretty insane regarding AMINO ACIDS AND PROTEIN.  While writing all of the fascinating things about hempseeds, it spurred an idea for me to do a special article refreshing our memories on some important health fundamentals (stay tuned for that article to shortly follow).  The hempseed is a complete protein source.  One of the best sources of plant protein and fat is found in hempseed.
  • Hempseeds contain all of the essential amino acids and essential fatty acids necessary to maintain healthy human life.  No other single plant source has the essential amino acids in such an easily digestible form, or has the essential fatty acids in as perfect a ratio to meet human nutritional needs.
  • The oil from hempseed has the highest percentage of essential fatty acids of nearly any seed on Earth.
  • MINERALS!!!  Hempseed typically contains over twenty trace minerals because hemp excels at absorbing minerals from the soil (unlike many of our burned-out farmed fruits and vegetables today grown in worn-out and abused soil).
  • PROTEIN!!! Shelled hempseed is 35% protein, 47% fat, and 12% carbohydrate.  Packed with 33-37% pure digestible protein, raw hempseed (meaning it was not treated with heat processing, like many nuts and seeds are before being packaged and sold), with all their original life-force energy and enzymes intact, are one of nature’s richest sources of complete protein.  Only algae (such as spirulina) exceed hemp in protein.
  • RAW SOURCE – Hempseed, unlike commonly available animal protein, is a pure, raw source of complete protein.  It never needs to be cooked to kill bacteria, so all of its vital components stay intact.
  • EASILY ABSORBED!!!  The human body can readily absorb and utilize all of the hempseed goodness because it blends easily into water, beverages, smoothies, shakes, and salad dressings without heat.
  • HYPOALLERGENIC!!  (No, we’re not talking Labradoodles, here)  Many people are allergic to common high-protein foods such as whey (dairy) and soy.  Not hempseeds!
  • BRAIN BUILDING!!!  Hempseed is a good source of brain-building, liver-supporting lecithin à this is a lipid (fat-oil) substance composed primarily of choline and inositol.  It is found in all living cells as a major component of cell membranes.
  • CHLOROPHYLL!!  Hempseed is one of the few seeds that contains chlorophyll à inside each hempseed are infant green leaves that will eventually open and grow as seed sprouts.
  • Approximately 47% of each hempseed is comprised of “good fats” – with an ideal balance of omega-3 (ALA alpha-linolenic acid) and omega-6 essential fatty acids (linoleic acid and gamma-linolenic acid).
  • LOW CARBS AND SUGAR!  (Something every parent would like to hear for their children)  The carbohydrate content of shelled hempseed is 11.5 percent and its sugar content is 2%.  Of the shelled hempseed carbohydrate, 6% is in the form of fiber.  The fiber content of hempseed flour is the highest of all commercially grown seeds!
  • Hempseeds have a high content of vitamin E (three times higher than flax seed!) in the form of alpha-, beta-, gamma-, and delta-tocopherol and alpha-tocotrienols (ummm….OK, so what this means is there is a wide variety of natural-occurring vitamin E sources here, thus making it super absorbable and usable by the body.  Most of the vitamin E we take in supplement form is only in the alpha-tocopherol form).
  • Hempseeds are also an outstanding source of monounsaturated omega-9 fatty acids (which are considered a healthy energy source and a quality beautifying oil).
  • (Remember my article on sprouted grains a few weeks ago?) Hempseed naturally sprouts on the hemp plant late in the growing season (during autumn), lowering phytic acid and increasing enzymes, which make the seed even more digestible.
  • Hempseed’s essential fatty acid and protein profile provides a healthy alternative to fish, which is becoming increasingly risky to eat, given rising mercury and PCB contamination.
  • Hemp leaves are also edible (and no, you won’t get high from eating them) – they contain a high percentage of silica, which is useful in building strong bones and beautiful skin, hair, and nails.
  • FIBER! Hemp leaf is rich in fiber – one side of the hemp leaf is so soft and the other side is abrasive, so as the leaf is eaten and the fiber moves through the body, the sides of the leaf churn through the digestive tract, scrubbing and softly cleaning the intestines.
  • Dried hemp leaf tea has a reported phenomenal taste as well as antimicrobial action.
  • Thanks to its nourishing oil, hemp is booming in the personal hygiene industry with hemp found in soaps, shampoos, lotions, lip balms, and bath oils.  Companies such as Dr. Bronner’s soap that I mentioned a few weeks ago in my “If You Can’t Put It In Your Mouth, It Doesn’t Belong On Your Skin” article (a great alternative to the other health and beauty products) uses hemp oil as part of their formulations to create fabulous cleansing agents.
  • Hemp is used as a great textile – it’s four times warmer than cotton, four times more water absorbent, and has three times the tensile strength as cotton…not to mention it’s much safer than conventional cotton because it does not need to be sprayed with tons of pesticides and herbicides.  Many clothing companies are now making clothing options made out of hemp.
  • Hemp makes great paper (it was originally used as the first paper fiber thousands of years ago until the wood-pulp paper industry changed that in the 1930s) that requires less chemicals, natural resources, and can be easily and readily recycled.  Hemp can even be used to make rope, plastics (which is way better than relying on petroleum and chemicals to make current plastics), and wood-like building materials.  Hemp can even be used as a fuel source!

WHERE TO FIND/HOW TO USE HEMP:

OK, so I barraged you enough with happy hemp facts and why hempseeds are sooooo good for you.  Some of you are probably still wondering if eating hempseeds is a concern with the whole “marijuana” concept.  No, you won’t get high from eating hemp seeds (well, high on health, maybe….hah…hah…hah….one thing hemp seeds don’t do are cure bad humor, sorry).  Just keep note of a few things:

– To be imported into the U.S., hempseed must be cracked out of their shells (due to the strict hemp agriculture laws).  You can easily find hemp seeds in many stores across the U.S. now – many grocery stores carry them, especially Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, and any health store.  You can even buy them online.

– There are many hemp seed products out there: shelled hempseeds (for eating), hempseed protein, hempseed cold-pressed oil, hempseed butter, raw hempseed energy bars (many of which come in chocolate varieties…yum), raw hempseed ice cream, hempseed milk (a great non-dairy alternative), hempseed salad dressing, hempseed breads, and hempseed body care products.

– Hempseed protein powder is a great alternative to milk-based protein powders!!  My husband has been using hemp protein powder in his smoothies and after workouts rather than the overly-processed isolated milk-based protein powders.  I even use the hemp protein powder to add to baking recipes and raw snack recipes.  Trader Joe’s sells a great hemp protein powder (in addition to other health stores, or online).

– Hempseeds are great eaten alone or as a snack.  They go well sprinkled on salads and they add a richness and flavor to smoothies and salad dressings.

 Here are a few recipes to try:

Hemp Milk

  • 1 cup hempseed
  • 4 cups filtered water
  • 1 pinch sea salt
  • ¼ – ½ vanilla bean

Blend all ingredients in a blender and filter through a strainer, nut-milk bag, or other fine-mesh bag.

Add 1-3 tablespoons of a sweetener if you wish (raw honey [not if using for young children], agave nectar, or stevia).  Optional: add berries, peaches, and/or papaya.

Add hemp milk to your smoothie or shake, your morning cereal, or to coffee/tea.  You can also drink hemp milk straight and many people find it a better alternative to dairy, especially those with dairy intolerances or sensitivities.  From experience, I find hemp milk to be the creamiest and richest of the nut/seed milks.

Hemp Shakes

Add hempseeds to your morning smoothies or shakes.  These tend to taste better when added to a smoothie base of frozen bananas and coconut milk and/or oil.

Hempseed Dressing

  • 1/3 cup hempseed
  • ¼ cup hempseed oil
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 3 tbs lemon juice
  • 2 sprigs parsley
  • 2 tbs hempseed butter
  • 2 tbs honey

Blend all ingredients until smooth.

Here are some other great sources for hempseed recipes:

http://lovingthebike.com/cycling-nurition/loving-the-bite-3-simple-hemp-seed-recipes

http://thehealthyfamilyandhome.com/raw-hemp-seed-bars-with-cacao-drizzle/

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Adding Calcium To Your Child’s Diet

Earlier this month, Fox News ran an article discussing the decline of children consuming milk in favor of sweetened beverages such as sodas and juices, however one major part of their research demonstrated that those children who were given milk on a daily basis at a younger age were more likely to continue drinking healthier liquids as they got older.

We all know how vital calcium is for the body.  It is vital for bone growth and development, brain function, strong teeth, and children who consume adequate amounts of calcium are also less likely to break bones.  Below are the RDA for calcium in children.

-Age 1 to 3 years: 500 mg
-Age 4 to 8 years: 800 mg
-Age 9 to 18 years: 1,300 mg

While milk is the most popular choice due to it’s high calcium content, here are some other alternatives that can help you child get the calcium they need if milk is something they are not fond of.

-Dairy products such as cheese and yogurt (especially low fat or skim options)
-Eggs
-Green, leafy vegetables such as kale, spinach, bok choy, and broccoli
-Fortified juices
-Fortified cereals and breads
Soybeans
-Tofu with added calcium sulfate
-Frozen yogurt
-Almonds

Sources:

http://www.everdayhealth.com

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