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    Archive for the ‘copper’ Category

    You Ask, I Answer: Amaranth

    Amaranth Grain crop 001A few days ago on Twitter you recommended we give alternative grains like amaranth a try.

    Can you tell me more about it?  How can it be prepared?

    — Will Reicks
    (Location withheld)

    Although amaranth can be eaten as a savory side dish, I prefer it as an alternative to oatmeal, especially since it has a porridge-like texture.

    I enjoy it topped with sliced bananas, chopped pecans, goji berries, and cacao nibs.

    Like quinoa and wild rice, amaranth falls into the “pseudo-grain” category, since it is technically a seed.

    Not only is it a completely safe food for those with gluten intolerances and wheat allergies — it also boasts a powerful nutritional profile.  One cup of cooked amaranth delivers:

    • 251 calories
    • 5 grams of fiber
    • 9 grams protein

    It is also an excellent source of iron, magnesium, manganese, and phosphorus, and delivers substantial amounts of calcium, copper, folate, selenium, vitamin B6, and zinc.

    Added bonus?  Amaranth contains exclusive phytonutrients that help lower LDL (bad) cholesterol as well as a powerful group of antioxidants called betalains that help reduce cellular inflammation and, consequently, the risk of different cancers.

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    Quick & Healthy Recipes: Lentil Paté

    Red Lentils 002Due to their stellar nutrition profile, hearty texture, and unique flavor, I am a die-hard fan of lentils.

    Though they are often prominent in soups and casseroles, they also go well as a dip for crudité or heart whole grain crackers.

    This lentil paté is especially wonderful served warm in the winter months.

    YIELDS: 8 servings

    INGREDIENTS:

    2 tablespoons olive oil
    1/2 cup white or yellow onion, chopped
    2 medium garlic cloves, diced
    1 small carrot, peeled and shredded
    1/3 cup red pepper, chopped
    1 cup dry lentils, rinsed (I think red lentils look nicer for dips, but feel free to use brown)
    1 1/2 cups water
    1/2 teaspoon sea salt
    1/2 teaspoon paprika
    3/4 teaspoon cumin
    Pepper, to taste
    1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

    INSTRUCTIONS:

    Heat olive oil in pot over medium heat.  Add onion, garlic, carrot, and red pepper.

    Cook the vegetables until soft, stirring frequently.

    Add lentils and water.  Bring contents to a boil.

    Lower heat to a low simmer and cook until no more water remains in pot.

    Add salt and spices.  Stir until well-combined and cook, still over simmer, for two minutes.

    Pour contents into food processor, add lemon juice, and puree until smooth.

    Feel free to add more spices after pureeing, if you deem it necessary.

    NUTRITION INFORMATION (per serving):

    123 calories
    0.8 grams saturated fat
    150 milligrams sodium
    8 grams fiber
    6 grams protein

    Excellent Source of: B vitamins, copper, magnesium, manganese, monounsaturated fats, pantothenic acid, potassium, vitamin A, vitamin C

    Good Source of: Iron, phosphorus, zinc

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    You Ask, I Answer: Seaweed

    895835I consider myself an adventurous eater, but other than a few sushi rolls when I go to a Japanese restaurant, I don’t eat much seaweed.

    Whenever I am at Whole Foods, I see a pretty good-size chunk of one aisle devoted to different kinds of dried seaweed.

    What are some ways I can eat them?  Do they offer any real nutrition  benefits or are they healthy just because they are low in calories?

    — Joanna MacKay
    New York, NY

    Seaweed — which is literally available in thousands of varieties — offers an array of flavors, textures, and health benefits.

    All varieties are good sources of B vitamins, calcium, copper, iodine, magnesium, manganese, potassium, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, and zinc.

    Most varieties also provide substantial amounts of lignans — the compounds found in flaxseed that are linked to decreased cancer risk AND lower LDL (bad) cholesterol levels!

    Nori is the most commonly consumed seaweed, as it is the one used in sushi rolls.  However, many people also like to add a few slivers of nori to salads and soups.

    You can even buy sheets of nori and make home-made vegetable rolls.

    For example, roll up mesclun greens, sliced avocado, sliced mango, and julienned (that’s chef-speak for “thinly sliced”) red peppers in a nori sheet, cut the long roll into round bite-size chunks, drizzle a bit of dressing on top (this peanut-cilantro one complements the flavors fabulously), and you have yourself a fun — and nutritious — lunch!

    In Japan, toasted nori snacks are immensely popular (almost as much as potato chips are in the United States).

    Kombu is a type of seaweed mainly used for stocks, while kelp is often added to soups (like miso) or used in granule form to add fishy flavors to vegetarian items that aim to mimic seafood.

    Arame is used in many savory dishes, including stews and grain-based side dishes, while hijiki is often steamed and consumed as a side dish of its own (one restaurant I frequently establish serves up hijiki as part of a platter alongside brown rice, chickpeas, and stir-fried tofu).

    Dulse is mainly available as granules to add fishy flavors to food, although whole dried dulse can be eaten right out of the bag as a snack or used as a salad topper.

    FYI: most seaweed salads at Japanese restaurants use a combination of seaweeds.  The downside?  They contain a substantial amount of added sugars and oils.  If you want to start your meal with it, keep that in mind and make light entree selections.

    The biggest mistake I come across when it comes to the nutritional aspects of seaweed is the completely erroneous claim that they are a good source of vitamin B12.

    They are NOT.  Seaweed contains B12 analogues — compounds that mimic the vitamin.

    Vegetarians and vegans need to be very mindful of B12 analogues; they attach to B12 receptors in the body, and prevent real B12 in the diet from being absorbed properly!

    Also, since seaweed is very high in iodine, anyone with thyroid issues should first consult with a Registered Dietitian before adding it to their diet on a consistent basis.

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    Quick & Healthy Recipe: Red Pepper Cream Soup

    red-pepperMy recent cream of mushroom soup recipe was such a hit that many of you have been asking for another “blend and heat” soup recipe.  I am happy to oblige!

    Here is a similar concoction that beautifully highlights the natural sweetness in red peppers and carrots.  Perfect for fall!  Like the mushroom soup, this is fairly hearty and filling, so you can simply follow it up with a light entree.

    YIELDS: 1 serving

    INGREDIENTS:

    1 cup water
    1/2 cup raw cashews, almonds, or sunflower seeds
    2/3 cup raw red pepper strips
    1/4 cup raw green pepper, diced
    4 baby carrots
    2 Tablespoons raw onion, chopped
    1 Tablespoon chopped celery
    1/4 cup fresh or frozen corn
    1 garlic clove
    1 Tablespoon lemon juice
    1/6 teaspoon salt
    Black pepper, to taste
    1/4 teaspoon powdered ginger

    INSTRUCTIONS:

    Combine all ingredients in blender and process until well combined.

    Transfer to small pot and heat on stovetop for 2 or 3 minutes.

    NUTRITION INFORMATION (for cashew variation):

    384 calories
    4 grams saturated fat
    400 milligrams sodium
    6 grams fiber
    13 grams protein

    Excellent source of: Copper, vitamin A, vitamin C

    Good source of: Folate, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, vitamin B6, vitamin E, vitamin K

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    Quick & Healthy Recipe: Five-Minute Creamy Mushroom Soup

    mushroomsI love a bowl of homemade soup on chilly days, but don’t always have the time (or patience) to make soup from scratch.

    Alas, this amazingly simple “chop, blend, and heat” recipe produces an out-of-this-world-delicious (and super healthy!) soup.  I’ve been hooked on this since day one.

    Since this soup is filling due to its share of healthy fats and protein, it can be perfectly paired with a salad or small sandwich.

    YIELDS: 1 – 2 servings

    INGREDIENTS:

    1 cup water
    1/4 – 1/2 cup raw, unsalted cashews
    1/4 cup chopped onion of choice (I use yellow)
    1 garlic clove (use 2 if you want it extra-garlicky)
    1 cup sliced mushrooms of choice (I use white)
    1/4 cup chopped celery
    1 Tablespoon lemon juice
    1/8 teaspoon salt or miso
    Pepper, to taste

    INSTRUCTIONS:

    Process all ingredients in blender.

    Transfer to pot and heat for 5 minutes.

    Serve and enjoy.  Top with cilantro or scallions!

    NUTRITION INFORMATION (per serving):

    358 calories
    4 grams saturated fat
    300 milligrams sodium
    3 grams fiber
    11 grams protein

    Excellent source of: Folate, niacin, pantothenic acid, riboflavin, thiamin, vitamin B6, vitamin C

    Good source of: Copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, potassium, selenium.

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    Quick & Healthy Recipe: “I’ve Got Hummus Coming Out Of My Ears!” Dip

    almonds-spoonAs much as I love hummus, there are times when my tastebuds beg for a change.

    This delicious — and super easy — dip is a top-notch, phytonutrient-rich alternative.

    YIELDS: 2 cups (8 servings)

    INGREDIENTS:

    1 cup raw almonds
    1/2 cup raw walnuts
    1/4 cup onion, chopped
    2 garlic cloves
    1/2 cup red pepper, chopped
    1/2 cup green pepper, chopped
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1/4 cup lemon juice
    6 Tablespoons water

    INSTRUCTIONS:

    Combine all ingredients in food processor and pulse for 20 – 30 seconds.

    NUTRITIONAL INFORMATION (per 4-tablespoon serving):

    153 calories
    5.5 grams heart-healthy monounsaturated fat
    1 gram saturated fat
    150 milligrams sodium
    3 grams fiber
    5 grams protein

    Excellent Source of: Manganese, vitamin C, vitamin E

    Good Source of: Copper, magnesium, riboflavin

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    Quick & Healthy Recipe: Garlic Tahini Dressing

    tahiniI’ll be the first to admit I have culinary commitment issues.

    One week, a certain salad dressing might be the apple of my eye, only to suddenly seem ‘blah’ overnight.

    As a result, purchases of bottled salad dressings aren’t very fruitful for me.  After a bottle is approximately halfway used up, it sits in my refrigerator for months, unused and ignored until it expires.

    “I’m just not that into you,” I say apologetically as I empty it out in my kitchen sink.

    Alas, I don’t want to get a bad reputation in the salad dressing aisle.  That’s why I now make my own salad dressings in very small batches.

    This dressing below — a tasty break respite from vinaigrettes — is one of my all-time favorites.  It goes particularly well over crunchy raw salads or steamed vegetables.  I was inspired by the tahini dressing served by one of my favorite New York City vegetarian restaurants.  Thank you, Quantum Leap!

    YIELDS: 4 servings

    INGREDIENTS:

    1/4 cup tahini
    1/4 cup water
    2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
    1 Tablespoon lemon juice
    2 or 3 garlic cloves
    1/4 teaspoon salt

    INSTRUCTIONS:

    Combine all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until evenly combined.

    Let stand for a few minutes and serve.

    NUTRITION INFORMATION (per serving):

    90 calories
    1 gram saturated fat
    150 milligrams sodium

    Good source of: Copper, manganese, phosphorus, vitamin C

    Added bonus 1: Tahini — also known as ‘sesame seed butter’ — is high in beta-sisterol, a phytosterol that helps lower LDL (“bad”) cholesterol.

    Added bonus 2: Sesame seeds also contain sesamol, an antioxidant that helps lower atherosclerosis (that’s the technical term for “hardening of the arteries”) risk.

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    You Ask, I Answer: Cacao Nibs

    nibsWhat are cacao nibs?

    I saw them in a health food store and wasn’t sure what to make of them.  They looked very decent, nutritionally speaking.

    — Corey Clark
    Via the blog

    Cacao nibs are small bits of fermented, roasted and husked cocoa beans.

    Raw cacao nibs, meanwhile, are small bits of dried and husked cocoa beans that were soaked in water (to loosen their shells).

    Nibs can be eaten plain; while I absolutely love them, I must say they are an acquired taste due to their intense bitterness.

    To me, they taste like a cross between a coffee bean, cocoa powder, and blue cheese.  I also love their unique crunch.

    I usually keep a small bag of cacao nibs in my refrigerator, as I find them to be an absolutely perfect fix for chocolate cravings.

    I’ll either sprinkle a few in my morning yogurt (along with a sliced banana, to add some sweetness), add them to a smoothie, or use them in my favorite homemade trail mix recipe (raw walnuts, raw cacao nibs, goji berries, and mulberries).

    Cacao nibs contain a fair amount of minerals, flavonoids, and antioxidants.  That said, they are usually eaten in small amounts, so I wouldn’t depend on them for a particular nutrient in my diet.

    While I dislike the “no, really, THIS is nature’s perfect food!” hype that tends to accompany their marketing, they are a unique-tasting, unprocessed food perfect for snacking that is completely devoid of sugar-laden empty calories.

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    Quick & Healthy Recipe: Flippin’ Healthy French Toast

    825101-FB~Sliced-Loaf-of-Bread-PostersI am often amazed at the many ways in which people desecrate French toast by turning it into a sugar-laden caloric bomb.

    I will never forget a restaurant in New York City’s Hell Kitchen neighborhood that served French toast coated in a thick layer of what appeared to be Golden Grahams cereal, only to then top that off with thick caramel syrup and powdered sugar.

    This recipe delivers a wide array of delicious flavors without the excess calories.  Make sure to serve with ripe fruits, as they are responsible for the sweetness of this dish.

    YIELDS: 4 slices (serves 2)

    INGREDIENTS:

    4 slices whole grain bread (frozen overnight)
    3/4 cup milk of choice (dairy, soy, almond, rice, hemp, etc.)
    2 teaspoons vanilla extract
    2 teaspoons coconut extract
    1 tablespoon cinnamon
    2 teaspoons butter/oil/vegan ‘butter’ (for griddle)
    2 tablespoons vanilla powder
    2 tablespoons unsweetened shredded coconut
    1 tablespoon cinnamon
    3/4 cup sliced strawberries
    1 medium banana
    1/4 cup raw walnuts, chopped

    INSTRUCTIONS:

    (The night before, store slices of bread in freezer.  This will allow them to absorb more liquid without falling apart.)

    Heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

    In a wide bowl, mix milk of choice (I use unsweetened soymilk),  vanilla extract, coconut extract, and cinnamon.

    Dip bread slices in mix and set aside on small plate.

    Heat butter/oil/vegan butter (I use Earth Balance “butter” sticks) in griddle or pan.

    Once griddle/pan is hot, place bread slices.  Heat for 2 or 3 minutes, flip, and cook for another 2 or 3 minutes.

    Turn off heat and transfer bread slices to flat baking sheet (you may need to lightly coat with baking spray first).

    Pour any remaining mix on bread slices and top off with vanilla powder, shredded coconut, and cinnamon.

    Place baking sheet in oven.  After 7 minutes, flip bread slices over and heat for in oven for another 7 minutes.

    Serve and top with sliced strawberries, bananas, and walnuts.

    NUTRITION FACTS (for a 2-slice serving):

    460 calories
    4.4 grams saturated fat
    410 milligrams sodium
    10 grams fiber
    13 grams protein

    Excellent source of: Fiber, folate, niacin, riboflavin, thiamin, vitamin B6, vitamin C

    Good source of: Copper, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium

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    Quick & Healthy Recipes: Ridiculously Easy Pie Crust

    dates crustI always enjoy experimenting with new pie recipes (especially of the vegan variety), but find pie crust to be an often-times challenging obstacle.

    Most ready-to-use pie crust products on the market have horrid ingredient lists.

    If I choose to make my own at home, it’s either taking out the rolling pin I do not own, or mixing together crushed graham crackers with butter.

    Alas, this recipe not only makes a delicious pie crust in minutes, it’s also chock full of nutrients.

    Whenever I have served pies made with this crust in the past, the only comments I get are how delicious it is.  Busting the “health food tastes like cardboard” myth one dessert at a time!

    YIELDS: One 8 or 9 inch pie crust

    INGREDIENTS:

    1 1/3 cups almonds
    1 tsp. vanilla extract
    1 tsp. cinnamon
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1/2 cup pitted dates

    INSTRUCTIONS:

    Place almonds, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt in blender and process until coarse texture is achieved.

    Add dates, process until all ingredients are evenly mixed.

    Press onto pie plate with fingers and chill for two or three hours.

    NUTRITION FACTS: (per 1/8 slice)

    215 calories
    1.2 grams saturated fat
    75 milligrams sodium
    4 grams fiber
    5 grams protein

    Excellent Source of: Copper, magnesium, manganese, riboflavin, vitamin E

    Good Source of: fiber, potassium

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    Quick & Healthy Recipes: Creamy Cashew-Vanilla Whip

    How’s this for a super easy recipe — the only skill needed is turning on a blender.

    One of my favorite ways to eat this is to layer it with berries, bananas, and raw buckwheat in a big bowl, especially in the Summer.  On cooler days, it’s also delectable as an oatmeal topping!

    YIELDS: 1.5 cups

    INGREDIENTS:

    • 1 cup raw cashews
    • 2 pitted dates
    • 1/2 cup cold water
    • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract/powder (or 1 vanilla bean)
    • 2 teaspoons coconut oil

    DIRECTIONS:

    Combine all ingredients in blender (or food processor) until a smooth consistency is reached.

    For best flavor and texture, refrigerate for a few hours before consuming.

    NUTRITION INFORMATION (per 2 Tablespoon serving):

    125 calories
    30 milligrams sodium
    3 grams protein

    Excellent Source of: Copper, magnesium, manganese

    Good Source of: Potassium, zinc

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    You Ask, I Answer/Quick & Easy Recipes: Vegan Alfredo Sauce

    I became vegan about two months ago.

    I don’t really miss many things since I find perfectly tasty substitutes, but yesterday night I found myself craving alfredo sauce (maybe it’s the cold weather).

    Since I have seen some vegan recipes on the blog, I wondered if you had any ideas as to how I can have alfredo sauce without dairy?

    — Shannon Gibson
    St. Paul, MN

    You’ve come to the right place, Shannon!

    Although I am not vegan, I love vegan cooking — it is creative, healthy, and always offers a new experience for the tastebuds.

    After several experiments, I crafted this delicious dairy-free alfredo sauce:

    YIELDS: 6 servings (1 serving = 1/2 cup)

    INGREDIENTS

    3/4 cup raw cashews
    1 cup water
    3 garlic cloves
    2 Tablespoons lemon juice (freshly squeezed preferred)
    1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
    1/4 cup nutritional yeast
    1 teaspoon salt
    1/2 teaspoon pepper (optional)
    2 or 3 large basil leaves (optional)

    INSTRUCTIONS

    Place cashews in food processor. Pulse for 20 – 30 seconds.

    Add water and pulse until cashews and water are evenly mixed.

    Combine rest of ingredients in food processor until blended.

    NUTRITION INFORMATION (per serving)

    150 calories
    1.5 grams saturated fat
    380 milligrams sodium
    4 grams fiber
    8.5 grams protein

    Good source of: B vitamins (including B12!), magnesium, copper, phosphorus, manganese, potassium, iron

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