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    Archive for the ‘manganese’ Category

    Beyond Milk: There’s Much More To Bone Health than Calcium and Vitamin D

    Milk is a good source of calcium and vitamin D (though, remember, milk in the US contains vitamin D because it is mandated by law; in many other countries, milk is devoid of the sunshine vitamin), but it lacks many other nutrients crucial for healthy bones.

    Too often, conversations and debates on the nutritional “worth” of milk turn into a “cows” versus “soybeans” face-off or, if it’s slightly more advanced, “cows” versus all the available milk alternatives (soy, almond, coconut, hemp, oat, and hazelnut).

    As far as calcium is concerned, fortified foods and beverages contain calcium that is just as absorbable as — and in some cases, more absorbable than — the calcium in milk.  In other words — the added calcium in soy or almond milk is just as good for your bones as the one in cow’s milk (or any other animal’s milk, for that matter).

    In order to truly tackle the topic of bone health, though, we need to go beyond the calcium and vitamin D content of milk and its vegan analogues and instead identify all the nutrients that play important roles in bone health.  In doing so, we find that milk is far from the king of the bone health hill.

    Continue Reading »

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    Quick & Healthy Recipe: Spicy Mushroom & Black Bean Burger

    Onto the second vegan burger recipe!

    While this one requires a bit longer prep time than the firstblack-beans, it shouldn’t take more than twenty minutes.  This burger freezes very well, so you could make a huge batch and save most of it in the freezer for hurried nights.

    YIELDS: 4 patties

    INGREDIENTS:

    2 14-ounce cans low-sodium or sodium-free black beans, drained and rinsed for about 30 seconds
    1 Tablespoon olive oil
    1/2 cup white mushrooms
    1/2 cup onions, chopped
    3 garlic cloves, minced
    1/2 teaspoon chili powder
    1/4 teaspoon cumin
    1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
    1/4 teaspoon paprika
    Pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)
    1/8 teaspoon salt

    INSTRUCTIONS:

    In a medium bowl, mash black beans with a fork or wooden spoon (or, if you really want to get into it, use your hands!). The idea is not to make bean puree, but to achieve a chunky mashed texture. You definitely want solid bits of bean here and there. Once done, set bowl aside.

    In a medium saucepan, heat olive oil. Once hot, add mushrooms. Cook and stir frequently for 2 to 3 minutes. Add onions. Stir frequently for 1 to 2 minutes. Add garlic, and continue to cook until garlic is golden brown.

    Increase heat and add all spices (except salt). Stir frequently for 2 minutes.

    Transfer vegetable mixture into food processor. Add salt. Process for approximately 10 seconds.

    Add vegetable mixture to “bean mush” bowl.  Mix with hands, compressing all ingredients together, making “burger dough”.  Form “burger dough” into four individual patties and cook to your liking (either pan-fry for a few minutes on each side or bake on a lighty oiled baking sheet at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 7  minutes on each side).

    NOTE: I have been able to get a solid dough without needing to use binders (that said, I don’t mind eating crumbly vegan burgers).  If you want your burgers more solid, feel free to add a half cup of whole wheat breadcrumbs or quick-cooking oats.  Or, if you don’t require a fully vegan recipe, two egg whites will work, too.  Even then, don’t expect these to be as solid as the frozen type you can buy at the grocery store.

    NUTRITION FACTS (for one patty):

    249 calories
    0.5 grams saturated fat
    375 milligrams sodium
    14 grams fiber
    15 grams protein

    Excellent Source of: Folate, iron, magnesium, thiamin

    Good Source of: Manganese, phosphorus, zinc

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    Quick & Healthy Recipe: Spiced Lentil & Quinoa Bowl with Avocado Dressing

    lentejas_-lensculirnarisI consider this a perfect year-round dish.

    In the cold winter months, the warm lentils and quinoa, along with the spices, make for a comforting dish.

    Once summer hits, I love this as a cold salad!

    This is also one of those meals that keeps you full for a very long time, as it combines heart-healthy fats, soluble fiber, and protein.

    Don’t be let the long steps fool you; this is a very simple recipe.  The lentils and dressing can both be prepared while the quinoa cooks.

    By the way, if you don’t have a food processor (or don’t feel like taking it out, using it, and cleaning it), you can always replace the dressing with some fresh avocado slices.  Even if you don’t have avocados handy, the lentil and quinoa combination in itself is delicious!

    YIELDS: 4 servings (1 cup quinoa + 1 cup lentils + 2 TBSP dressing)

    INGREDIENTS (Quinoa):

    2 cups quinoa
    4 cups water
    Pinch of salt

    INGREDIENTS (Spiced Lentils):

    2 TBSP olive oil
    1 cup onions, chopped
    1/2 cup carrots, shredded
    1/2 cup red pepper, diced
    1/4 cup green pepper, diced
    1 cup mushrooms, chopped
    2 T garlic, minced
    1/2 t cumin
    1/4 t cinnamon
    1/2 t curry powder
    1/3 t salt
    1/4 t paprika
    1/8 t black pepper
    1 cup dried lentils, rinsed (any color; if you can find sprouted dried lentils, even better!)
    3 cups water
    1 Tablespoon lemon juice

    INGREDIENTS (Avocado Dressing):

    1 large avocado, pitted
    2 t lime juice
    1 garlic clove
    2 t ginger
    1/4 t salt
    1/4 c water

    INSTRUCTIONS (Quinoa):

    In a small pot, combine quinoa, water, and a pinch of salt.

    Bring to a boil, cover and reduce to simmer until all water evaporates.

    Fluff quinoa with fork.

    INSTRUCTIONS (Spiced Lentils):

    In a large pot, heat olive oil.  Once sufficiently hot, add onions, carrots, peppers, mushrooms, and garlic.

    Stir frequently over the course of 2 minutes over medium-high heat.

    Add spices.  Stir frequently for 2 more minutes.

    Add lentils and water, stir and bring to a boil.

    Cover, reduce heat to low and cook for 15 minutes, stirring two or three times.

    Turn off stovetop, uncover, add lemon juice, and stir one more time.

    INSTRUCTIONS (Avocado dressing):

    Combine all ingredients in food processor and process until evenly combined.

    NUTRITION INFORMATION (per serving):

    538 calories
    2.5 grams saturated fat
    450 milligrams sodium
    15 grams fiber
    18 grams protein

    Excellent Source of: Folate, manganese, monounsaturated fats, niacin, potassium, riboflavin, thiamin, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K

    Good Source of: Iron, phosphorus, vitamin E, zinc

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    You Ask, I Answer: Kamut

    EFI_PASTA_KAMUT_SPIRALSPlease enlighten me.  For the past few months, I’ve seen kamut pasta at the grocery store.  I had never heard of it before.

    What is kamut?  Is it healthier than wheat?

    — Julie Wilkens
    St. Paul, MN

    Kamut, the “brand name” for khorasan, is a whole grain native to the Middle East.

    The name “Kamut” is of Egyptian origin, and refers to a popular legend (not urban, mind you, just a regular legend) that khorasan was a staple of Egyptian pharaos.

    Although it is a relative of wheat — and definitely not appropriate for anyone on a gluten-free diet — it has a nuttier taste and chewier texture, reminiscent of brown rice.

    You can buy kamut “as is” (it looks like extra large brown rice grains), in pasta form, or as an oatmeal-like hot cereal.

    You will often see an ® symbol after kamut.  No need for concern; it is not genetically modified or owned by Monsanto!

    As kamut producers explain it, the grain was patented in 1990 “to protect and preserve the exceptional qualities of a particular variety of the ancient wheat.”

    In order to receive the “kamut” trademark, manufacturers of these foods must sign a licensing agreement and abide by certain rules (i.e.: 100% organic farming practices, a certain amount of selenium per sample, and a specific protein range).

    A half cup of cooked kamut delivers:

    • 140 calories
    • 5 grams of fiber
    • 6 grams of protein

    Additionally, it is an excellent source of selenium, manganese, magnesium, and zinc.

    I see very little nutritional differences between it and 100 percent whole wheat pasta, though.

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    You Ask, I Answer: Mesquite Powder

    mesquite-powderMy local health food store now carries mesquite powder.

    Is that the same as mesquite barbeque stuff, like the flavoring in potato chips?

    What about it makes it healthy enough to be at a health food store?

    — John Amers
    New York, NY

    Many people are unaware that mesquite trees contain an array of edible components.

    The mesquite you refer to (the one used for barbecuing as well as for barbeque-flavored snacks) comes from mesquite tree wood that is processed into chips and then smoked.

    The mesquite powder sold in health food stores, however, is the end result of grinding up mesquite tree pods and seeds.

    I find that mesquite powder has a delicious caramel-like flavor.  As with maca, I love to add a heaping tablespoon (or two!) to any shake I make with cacao (the flavors complement each other wonderfully).

    I know some people also like to add it to pancake batter (it has some thickening properties and can replace a small quantity of flour) and yogurt.

    Mesquite powder is a very good source of soluble fiber, manganese, potassium, and zinc.

    While it is certainly not inexpensive, a small bag lasts me two to three months.

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    You Ask, I Answer: Cucumbers

    cucumber_marketmore76_organicI always hear that cucumbers help with weight-loss because they are mostly water and low in calories, but I never see them referred to as being very nutritious.

    Are they high in any nutrients?

    — Diana Wegfield
    (Location withheld)

    Cucumbers provide a generous amount of manganese, potassium, vitamin C, and vitamin K.  To get the highest amount of manganese and potassium, be sure to leave the skin on.

    Compared to other vegetables, their phytochemical and antioxidant content is low.

    That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t enjoy cucumbers.  I don’t believe that every single morsel you put in your mouth has to be chock-full of nutrients.

    If, for example, adding sliced cucumbers to a salad helps you eat more dark leafy green vegetables, you’re reaping benefits!

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    You Ask, I Answer: Peanuts vs. Tree Nuts

    peanuts-peeledA peanut butter sandwich is as American as apple pie.

    What are your thoughts on peanut butter, though?

    I’ve been hearing that peanuts, which I know are actually legumes, aren’t as healthy as tree nuts.

    Should I be making my sandwiches with almond butter instead?

    — Fred (Last name withheld)
    Brooklyn, NY

    I don’t have any issues with peanuts or peanut butter.

    When it comes to nuts (and, yes, for the sake of this post we’ll treat peanuts as such), my recommendation is to always have one serving of some nut every day.

    One serving is made up of 13 walnuts halves.  In the case of almonds, that’s 23 individual pieces.  If you’re talking pistachios, you’re looking at 49 kernels!

    The issue with nuts is that you could label any one as “better” or “worse” than the next, depending on what criteria you use.

    Consider these lists I compiled:

    FIBER CONTENT (per ounce)

    • Almonds, hazelnuts, pecans, pistachios: 3 grams
    • Brazil nuts, walnuts, peanuts: 2 grams
    • Cashews: 1 gram

    PROTEIN CONTENT (per ounce)

    • Peanuts: 7 grams
    • Almonds, pistachios: 6 grams
    • Cashews: 5 grams
    • Brazil nuts, hazelnuts, walnuts: 4 grams
    • Pecans: 3 grams

    MONOUNSATURATED (heart-healthy!) FAT (per ounce)

    • Hazelnuts: 12.9 grams
    • Pecans: 11.5 grams
    • Almonds: 8.7 grams
    • Brazil nuts, peanuts: 6.9 grams
    • Cashews: 6.7 grams
    • Pistachios: 6.6 grams

    OMEGA 3: OMEGA 6 RATIO (per ounce)

    • Walnuts: 1:4
    • Pecans: 1:20
    • Pistachios: 1:51
    • Hazelnuts: 1:89
    • Cashews: 1:125
    • Brazil nuts: 1:1,139
    • Almonds: 1:2,181
    • Peanuts: 1:5,491

    All of them, meanwhile, are good sources of vitamin E, magnesium, and manganese.  Calorie amounts range from 155 (cashews) to 195 (pecans).

    I always recommend varying your nut intake since each variety contains unique phytonutrients and antioxidants that have been linked to an array of health benefits.

    Peanuts, for example, are a wonderful source of resveratrol (the same antioxidant in red wine and grape skins), while pecans contain high amounts of beta-sisterol, a cholesterol-lowering phytonutrient.

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    You Ask, I Answer: Tempeh vs. Tofu

    Sliced_tempehIn some of your posts, you have mentioned that tempeh (pictured, left) is more nutritious than tofu.

    Is that just because tempeh is fermented, or are there more reasons?

    — Sarah Bertanke
    (Location withheld)

    While tempeh’s fermentation process certainly gives it a nutritional (and probiotic!) boost, there is more to this tale.

    FYI: Fermentation reduces soybeans’ phytate content, thereby making their zinc and iron much more bioavailable.

    Whereas tofu is made by coagulating soy milk with a precipitating agent (in most cases calcium sulfate, thus the high amounts of calcium in tofu), tempeh is made from whole soybeans.

    The presence of said soybeans — in some cases along with wild rice or flax — makes tempeh a high-fiber food.

    While four ounces of tofu provides 1.5 grams of fiber, that same amount of tempeh adds up to 11 grams!

    Due to its “whole food” status, tempeh is also an excellent source of manganese, magnesium, and potassium.

    Tempeh is also significantly higher in protein and omega-3 Alpha-Linolenic fatty acids than tofu.

    Although I enjoy the taste of both, I am partial to tempeh’s nutty flavors and unique mouth-feel.

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    You Ask, I Answer: Free Radicals

    antioxidant-protecting-cellWhat exactly are free radicals, and how worried should I be about them?

    I realize I have barely a kindergarten concept of them.

    — @Beth_Pettit
    Via Twitter

    The concept of free radicals within the scope of health and nutrition can get super complicated, but here is an informative, simple-as-I-can-make-it “101” crash course.

    Free radicals are compounds with both positive and negative characteristics.

    Their main positive function relates to our immune system.  Our body actually deploys free radicals when it detects a foreign substance in the body.

    Without free radicals, our bodies would have a harder time combating most viruses and bacteria.

    Unfortunately, that’s where the good news ends.

    Free radicals have what is called a “free-floating electron”.  This makes free radicals very upset, since they want that electron to be paired off with another one.

    In their quest to find another electron, they scour all over the place, damaging cells and DNA in the process.

    DNA damage is particularly disturbing, as it is the chief cause behind degenerative diseases like cancer.

    While our cells have some built-in protection against free radicals, there is only so much they can take before they basically become powerless.

    What makes the issue of free radicals complicated is that there is no way to avoid them.  Most free radicals are byproducts of necessary metabolic processes (like digesting food and cell regeneration).

    Of course, certain factors increase free radical content in our bodies.  These include:

    • Air and water pollution
    • Smoking
    • Emotional stress
    • Exposure to radiation
    • Pesticides
    • Excessive intakes of omega-6 fatty acids
    • Aging

    The best thing you can do to limit as much damage possible?  You guessed it — eat a healthy diet.

    Consider this: most of the enzymes our body sends out to attack free radicals are created from nutrients like manganese, selenium, and zinc.

    Diets low in these nutrients are unable to create as good of a defense against free radical damage as diets where these nutrients are consistently consumed in adequate amounts.

    While vitamins C and E are well-known for their antioxidant (that’s code for “free-radical-neutralizing”) capacities, keep in mind that the thousands of phytonutrients in whole, unprocessed foods also help minimize cellular damage.

    FYI: to read more about antioxidants, I HIGHLY recommend you read this post.

    This is precisely why you want to be sure to eat a variety of fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and legumes — all those foods are packed with unique and exclusive compounds that provide plenty of assistance.

    It is also crucial to eat whole foods that intrinsically contain these compounds (as opposed to supplements that isolate certain ones) since clinical research has clearly demonstrated that in order to work effectively, these compounds need to work in tandem.

    As morbid as it sounds, free radicals are also the body’s way of guaranteeing eventual death.  A person in their eighties produces much higher amounts of free radicals than someone in their thirties.

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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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    You Ask, I Answer: Maca

    maca-powderWhat are  your thoughts on maca?

    I’m not exactly clear of its benefits.

    — Susy (Last name withheld)
    (Location Unknown)

    If this is the first time you hear of maca, Susy is referring to a cruciferous root vegetable native to the highest altitudes of the Andes mountains in Peru.

    In the United States (and most of the world), maca is sold as a powder, much like cocoa.  You can find it at Whole Foods, health food stores, or from online vendors (I am familiar with the Navitas Natural brand).

    I personally love maca’s unique flavor (it’s somewhere between coffee, cocoa powder, almonds, and nutritional yeast) and often add it to smoothies, yogurt, and oatmeal.

    Maca is a great source of many minerals — especially magnesium, manganese, and selenium — and contains its own share of unique phytonutrients and antioxidants.

    Since maca is not a popular food, studies on it are limited.  However, this small-scale study published in science journal Andrologia by Peruvian scientists concluded that maca supplementation appeared to increased sexual desire (scientific term: libido) among healthy adult males.

    In case you’re wondering why that was the focus of the study, it was mainly to determine if anecdotes of increased sexual desire as a result of consistent maca consumption were fact or fiction.

    Not surprisingly, I have seen many unsubstantiated health claims for macca on the Internet, ranging from promises of improved memory to eliminating fatigue, all of which sounds more like hype than fact to me.  General well-being has much more to do with general eating patterns than the inclusion of one or two specific foods.

    That said, maca offers a great nutrition profile and I certainly would not discourage someone from adding it to a healthy diet.

    Keep in mind, though, that maca is not a magic potion.  There are literally hundreds of foods you can introduce to your diet if you seek unique phytonutrients and antioxidants — pretty much any fruit, vegetable, legume, nut, or seed!

    What sometimes bugs me about these products is the way in which they are “exoticized” in their marketing, complete with references to ancient warriors and “hidden powers”.  To Peruvians, maca is as common as apples are to someone from Washington state.

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    You Ask, I Answer: Oat Flour

    5106PF2KV9L._SL500_AA280_PIbundle-5,TopRight,0,0_AA280_SH20_I have a question [in regards to your recent post] about oat flour.

    I can tolerate wheat just fine, but if I were to replace whole wheat flour with oat flour in my baking, would I end up with a more nutritious product?

    — Nicole Clanham
    (City withheld), CO

    Let’s first do a simple comparison.

    One cup of whole wheat flour contains:

    • 407 calories
    • 15 grams fiber
    • 16 grams protein
    • 121% Daily Value of selenium
    • 228% Daily Value of manganese
    • 14% Daily Value of potassium
    • 41% of manganese

    A cup of oat flour, meanwhile, provides:

    • 444 calories
    • 12 grams fiber
    • 15 grams protein
    • 57% Daily Value of selenium
    • 258% Daily Value of manganese
    • 12% Daily Value of potassium
    • 81% Daily Value of manganese

    Alas, no mind-blowing differences.

    There are, however, some added bonuses to oat flour (especially if you make your own by grinding rolled oats in a food processor).

    1. More soluble fiber than any other grain.  Remember, soluble fiber helps lower cholesterol levels and triggers fullness more quickly.  Insoluble fiber — which whole wheat flour contains lots of — helps keep things moving through our digestive system.
    2. Exclusive antioxidants and polyphenols believed to promote heart health and lower diabetes risk.

    As great as that is, you can not fully replace the whole wheat flour in a recipe with oat flour.

    Since oat flour does not contain gluten, a baked good made entirely with it will not rise.

    “Wait a minute,” you may be saying.  “I thought you said oats were not safe for people on gluten-free diets!  What do you mean it doesn’t have gluten?”

    Allow me to explain.  Oats are intrinsically gluten-free.  However, many are cross-contamined in factories that also process wheat.  While the minimal contamination is significant enough to cause problems for an individual with celiac, it is not enough to have an effect on the baking process.

    Feel free to substitute half the wheat flour in a recipe with oat flour, though.

    As I always like to say, keep nutritional context in mind.  Oat flour in an otherwise unhealthy recipe (loads of sugar and calories) is a moot point.

    The best way to get oat’s health benefits is by preparing unsweetened oatmeal (and adding your own fruit and nut toppings) or adding quick-cooking oats to yogurt or a smoothie.

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    Quick & Healthy Recipes: Bananacado Shake

    Most of us avocado-banana-420-420x0are accustomed to eating avocado in its savory form, usually as guacamole or part of a salad.

    In some parts of the world — especially Indonesia and the Philippines — avocado is commonly included in sweet concoctions.

    Fret not: although this delicious breakfast smoothie utilizes avocado to achieve a creamy texture, its taste goes unnoticed.  The key is to use very ripe fruit in order to provide a good amount of sweetness.

    This is one of my favorite breakfast foods whenever I’m in a rush.  The combination of healthy fats, fiber, and protein keeps me full through most of the morning!

    YIELDS: 1 serving

    INGREDIENTS:

    1 small avocado, sliced (or one half of a large avocado)
    1 medium frozen banana (previously sliced and stored in Ziploc bag)
    1/3 cup frozen strawberries OR frozen peaches OR frozen pineapple
    1 cup milk of choice (choose unsweetened varieties if using non-dairy milk)
    1 scoop (or 1/2 scoop) unflavored protein powder (ONLY if using low-protein milk, like almond milk)
    1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    1 Tablespoon oat bran or psyllium husks

    INSTRUCTIONS:

    Place all ingredients in blender and process until evenly combined.

    For optimal texture, blend for at least 20 seconds.

    NUTRITION INFORMATION:

    441 calories (460 if using 2% dairy milk, 485 if made with low-protein milk + protein powder)
    2 grams saturated fat (3 grams if using 2% dairy milk)
    15 grams fiber
    180 milligrams sodium
    0 grams added sugar
    12 grams protein (24 if made with low-protein milk + 1 scoop protein powder)

    Excellent Source of: Folate, manganese, monounsaturated fatty acids, pantothenic acid, potassium, vitamin B6, vitamin C, vitamin K

    Good Source of: Magnesium, vitamin E

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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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