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Posts Tagged ‘healthy fats’

Perfect Parfait

In Nutrition, Recipe on July 10, 2013 at 11:00 pm
fruit, yogurt, go raw

Fruit, yogurt, Go Raw Original Granola

Please step away from the acai bowls! They are loaded with added sugars. Sugar is added to those little, frozen packets of smashed berries and to the nut milk that is blended with it and, finally, the granola that gets tossed on top. No wonder they are a big hit – you might as well be eating dessert!

You can do a much better job by BUILDING YOUR OWN breakfast bowl with fresh fruit that hasn’t been processed, packaged, and flown in from Brazil. I eat a lot of fruity, nutty, yogurt-y concoctions. Some might call them parfaits, others might call them fruit salad. Either way, the hot summer months, with their abundance of fruit, call for cool, juicy breakfasts with enough fat and protein to keep you satisfied and nourished. On the outset it appears that the parfait is ‘healthy’ but there is much variance as to the value of each ingredient so I think it merits a discussion.

papya parfait

Papaya, yogurt, hemp seeds, coconut, & sunflower seeds.

There are usually 3 components to a parfait: (1) yogurt (dairy or vegan), (2) the fruit, and (3) the ‘toppings’ (hopefully nuts & seeds). What I find is that most parfaits resemble dessert in that they are much too high in sugar and other carbohydrates. Let’s leave the job of providing sugar and fiber to the fruit (choose a colorful variety) and do our best to eliminate it from the other two components.

Begin by choosing a sugar-free – yes, that means PLAIN – version of yogurt, whether it be a Greek dairy yogurt or coconut milk kefir or soy yogurt. This is not always easy, especially with the diary substitutes, but it can be done. Also, choosing a FULL-FAT version is essential for 2 reasons: (1) the balance of protein/fat/carbs is more supportive of health (nonfat yogurt is heavy on carbs) and (2) the plain flavor is not as sour b/c the fat is still included (hence less sugar needed to make it palatable). Even if you are trying to lose weight, a full-fat version is more supportive of satiation, smaller portions, and weight control (I promise!).

go raw simple

Go Raw brand granola – unsweetened or sweetened with dates & raisins

End by choosing toppings that include healthy fats and no added sugars. Sorry, folks, but ‘granola’ is not going to do it here. Yes, it’s delicious but it’s usually very high in added sugars. Low sugar varieties are available, such as those from Go Raw that are sweetened with dates and raisins, and, yet, this healthy choice is still adding unnecessary carbs to the balance. It’s much healthier to take a deconstructionist view of granola as a topping. Say what? Sprinkle on sunflower seeds or almonds or walnuts or hemp seeds or coconut flakes or chia seeds or pepitas or sesame seeds…you get the idea. These toppings add healthy fats and protein as opposed to more carbs.

Finally, add a little shake of cinnamon or cocoa or fresh mint to up the flavor factor without adding more volume or calories.

Building your own breakfast bowl ensures you get ‘good’ carbs, a healthy amount of (the good) fat, and plenty of fiber and antioxidants. Have fun and get creative!

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Apple-Mint Bean & Grain Salad

In Nutrition, Recipe on May 21, 2013 at 6:19 am
bean & farro salad ingredients

Salad ingredients sans dressing.

I’m kind of on a pink kick these days. I find myself drawn to pink food in pretty jars: pink Himalayan salt, raspberry jam, cactus fruit kombucha. This Sunday, at the La Jolla Open Aire Market, my pink preference seemed to migrate to produce as I chose watermelon radishes and pink lady apples for this recipe.

salt and lemon

Pink Himalayan salt and Meyers lemons.

This delicious salad was served to me while at a friend’s house for dinner otherwise it’s rare for me to attempt  a recipe with this many ingredients. I really like to keep things simple when it comes to healthy eating and I don’t think more is better. This is exactly the kind of recipe I would have skipped while searching for a new idea. Too many ingredients, too many instructions. But…it’s really not so bad and the outcome is fantastic! Do not become overwhelmed by the long list of ingredients in this salad. Besides the prep for radishes and apples, it is actually quite fast and the dressing gets quickly processed – super easy! I used a filet knife when trying to ‘paper thin’ those radishes and almost sliced the tip of my middle finger off!

Crisp, soft, chewy, creamy, bitter, refreshing, filling – the beautiful texture and flavors in this irresistible salad make for a well-balanced meal complete with healthy, whole-grain carbs, plant-based proteins, and ample fat for satiety.

Here is the original recipe which uses cilantro and Greek yogurt instead of my substitution of mint and coconut kefir. Also, avocado doesn’t hold up well overnight and, since this salad just gets better over time, I decided to leave it out.

watermelon radishes

Watermelon radishes.

1 cup pearled farro (or short-grain brown rice, if gluten-free)

1 cup black beans

1 cup cannellini beans

5-6 radishes, sliced paper thin (good luck), then half-mooned

1/2 apple, sliced into matchsticks (the thinner the better), then halved

Salt & Pepper

1/2 Meyers lemon, juiced

Dressing:

bean & farro salad w kale

Served on a bed of marinated kale.

3 TBSP rice vinegar

1/2 Meyers lemon, juiced

1/2 apple, cored

3 TBSP olive oil

Handful of mint

1/4 of a shallot

Pinch of sea salt & fresh-ground black pepper

2 TBSP coconut kefir

Place 1 cup farro and 2.5 cups water in rice cooker. Press ‘cook’ button (I love rice cookers!). Or pot-boil with 3 cups water for about 15-20 mins and drain excess water when done. Drain and rinse beans, if using canned beans. Place beans in large bowl with salt & pepper. Thinly slice apples and radishes. Add radishes to bowl with beans. Place apples in separate bowl with lemon juice. When farro is done, cool in refrigerator. In the meantime, make the dressing by placing all ingredients in the food processor. When farro is cooled, add to large bowl of beans and radishes. Add in the sliced apples, remaining mint leaves, and dressing. Mix well.

Enjoy on a bed of kale (marinated in olive oil, lemon juice, and salt) or wrapped in a romaine leaf or just as it is.

Nutritional Info: 8oz (~1 cup) serving = 288 kcals, 8g fat, 40g total carbs (8g fiber), 8g protein. With 60% carbs, 30% fats, and 10% protein, I think this salad is perfectly balanced.

Chocolate Avocado Mousse

In Nutrition, Recipe on April 12, 2013 at 4:21 pm
avocado and chocolate

Avocados and chocolate. Together at last.

Last night I was chatting on Facebook with friends from my childhood in Alaska while I was trolling the web for what to do with avocados that doesn’t include guacamole or smoothies. It’s Hass avocado season (Apr to Sept) here in San Diego County, the largest grower of avocados in the U.S., and I’ve got friends leaving bags of rich, ripe avocados on my doorstep. In an effort to use them before they go south, I discovered chocolate mousse with avocado – genius. I quickly whipped it up (5 ingredients, 10 mins) and a love affair between Chocolate Avocado Mousse and Salmonberry began. Move over Chia Pudding, there’s a new dessert in town! The reaction from my childhood friends was less than enthusiastic which is hilarious because these are the same kids who grew up eating various parts of marine mammals and caribou.

mousse ingredients

Ingredients: avocado, cocoa, coconut cream, honey, vanilla.

Since I’m a healthy eater who rarely eats dessert (not much of a sweet tooth), my motto used to be “If I’m going to have dessert, I’m going to go big!”. On those rare occasions, I thought, why modify dessert – eat real butter, eat real sugar. But I’ve discovered that as I eat less and less animal foods and refined sugars, my taste buds just can’t handle traditional desserts. I’m now highly sensitive to such strong inputs and quickly become overwhelmed. As my son stated recently, when we made a key lime pie for St. Patty’s Day (complete with sweetened condensed milk!), “Whoa, this is so intense!” I’ve now begun to delve in and embrace healthier dessert options. Not so I can eat more volume or more often but so I can actually swallow more than one bite without succumbing to the ‘food hangover’ that’s very often a result of too much sugar and animal fat.

For this recipe I used local Hass avocados. I don’t recommend using out-of-season avocados and, depending on where you live, you may only have access to Hass but do you really want a jet-lagged avocado all the way from Chile in your delicious dessert? Check out this blog post from Avocado Diva for which avocados to eat year-round.

knife in cream

This coconut cream is not for wusses.

I also used Trader Joe’s Coconut Cream, Extra Thick and Rich, because, well, look at the picture, and Valrhona cocoa because its darker and richer than other baking cocoas.

Here’s the recipe from MySanFranciscoKitchen.com:

1 ripe avocado

1/4 cup cocoa powder (unsweetened)

1/4 cup coconut cream

3 TBSP honey

1 tsp vanilla

Place all ingredients in mixing bowl and blend with hand mixer until smooth and creamy – no lumps. Top with nuts, coconut flakes, fruit, nothing…

1/2 cup serving (4oz) = 273 kcals, 17g fat, 26g sugar, 5 g fiber, 2g protein.

Let’s not be fooled. This is still a dessert that’s high in fat, albeit a healthier fatty acid profile than animal fat, and sugar, so, please, slowly savor and revel in the deliciousness but don’t overindulge.

Choco Avo Mousse

Chocolate Avocado Mousse

Choco-Chia Nut Spheres

In Nutrition, Recipe on April 3, 2013 at 10:19 pm

I just couldn’t use the word ‘balls’. Again, more chia and coconut (easy, affordable, healthy fats, high fiber). Almonds add healthy fats, protein, and more fiber. All these ingredients can be found in the bulk aisle. If you are shopping at a market that does not have a bulk aisle, perhaps you should find your way to one that does as these markets tend to have healthier food options. Yes, these are a kind-of glorified trail mix but are healthier than a highly-processed energy bar and serve the same purpose. Use as a tea-time dessert or as a great post-workout snack.

nut spheresIngredients:

1.5 cups dates – pitted

1/2 cup water

3 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder

2.5 TBSP chia seeds

2 cups almonds (if you use raw almonds, chop a bit first or it’s gonna be hell on your processor. If you don’t care about the recipe being raw then use tiny roasted & salted ones)

Coconut flakes (unsweetened)

Dash of cinnamon and/or cayenne

In a food processor, purée pitted dates and water until a sticky paste forms. Add cocoa powder. Add chia seeds and almonds in batches to create solid dough. Shape mixture into TBSP-sized balls and roll in coconut or cocoa powder. Refrigerate for 30mins. Makes ~25 spheres.

1 sphere = 88 kcals + 6g fat + 3g protein + 2g fiber

I Heart Eggs

In Nutrition on March 31, 2013 at 2:08 am
photo (70)

Colorful eggs from happy backyard chickens.

I LOVE EGGS. I know it’s hip to be vegan but I just can’t give them up and it doesn’t feel like the right thing to do for my body. So I eat them. Often. With gusto and relish (not the condiment). I eat eggs from perhaps the happiest chickens in SoCal. Maybe it’s the ocean view – they check the surf at Scripps Pier – salt air, or foraging in the veggie garden but most likely it’s the sunny, 7-year-old girl who adores them and showers them with love. And, in turn, all those happy, loving vibes are ingested by me.

It is OK to eat eggs everyday…yes, really! Whole eggs are a nutritious part of everyone’s diet. Even for those of us with high cholesterol, eggs can be safely consumed (studies have shown dietary cholesterol to have little effect on blood lipid levels). Egg whites are a complete protein source meaning they provide all the essential amino acids the body cannot make on its own. However, if you are only consuming the whites you are missing out on vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and healthy fats. Whole eggs are low in calories and packed with nutrients so poach ‘em, fry ‘em, scramble ‘em, frittata ‘em, quiche ‘em, french toast ‘em, rancheros ‘em…have I left anything out?

photo (5)

Whole grain toast topped with avocado, poached egg, and salsa verde.