I'm not sure how many of you grew up eating liver...I sure didn't (Jewish Grandmother and all...I was a deprived child). So when a professor of mine recommended eating liver for its high vitamin A content to help with a hormonal imbalance I was experiencing, I cringed at the thought. Now, 2 years later, I've come around, and made my first beef liver pate recently. It is delicious! I've been spreading it on dehydrated (raw) nut and seed crackers, but you could put it on anything, veggies included. Let me list some of the wonderful health benefits of liver.
Liver (from an organic source), is incredibly nutrient dense, particularly in Vitamin B12, A, copper, folate, riboflavin, and selenium. Also a good source of zinc, iron, protein, and vitamin C. Sufficient B Vitamin intake, which many lack, is essential to many bodily functions, first and foremost heart health. It is also key for energy. Zinc is crucial to immune health, and Vitamin A prevents vital infections, improves eyesight, and protects the lining of the blood vessels. An interesting side note: if you have that common goose-bump like appearance on the back of your arms, it is likely to be caused by the condition keratosis, and is a vitamin A deficiency.
So...check out this recipe for liver pate! Adapted from farmlet.co.nz.
Beef Liver Pate
500g beef liver
1 small onion, chopped
1/2 cup red wine
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 teaspoon dijon mustard
1 sprig fresh rosemary
1 sprig fresh thyme
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 cup butter
2 tablespoons cracked black pepper
*Saute the liver and onions in a couple of tablespoons of the butter until the livers are browned and the onions are tender.
*Add wine, garlic, mustard, herbs and lemon juice and cook uncovered until most of the liquid has gone.
*Cool and blend to a smooth paste in the food processor along with the rest of the butter. (This is easier if the butter is not fridge cold!)
*Add salt to taste.
*Check the consistency of the pate. If it seems dry and crumbly rather than smooth and creamy, add more butter.
*Put pate in a shallow dish and press the cracked pepper onto the top of it.
Since starting work at a personal trainer at a gym, I wake up really, really, really early. Breakfast is by far my favorite meal of the day, and I've always been the type of person who will get up an hour early just to have the time to sit, read the news, and enjoy breakfast. However, getting up at 3:45am would be a little crazy. So I've started making smoothies in the morning, which is great if you're pressed for time, or if you're the type of person who struggles with wanting to eat a big breakfast. As I've mentioned before, its SO crucial to get an adequate amount of protein (at least 20 grams) and good fat in the morning, as it will stimulate your metabolism and keep your blood sugar stabilized throughout the day.
One thing people have a hard time digesting (ha! get it? PUNny). I digress...is raw eggs in smoothies. This seems like some strange/unhealthy habit done only by body builders. But, I promise you, if you are buying organic, free range (preferably local from a farm) eggs, you are both not in danger, but you are providing your body with an excellent fuel source full of nutrients, protein, and fat. Its very important to not eat egg whites raw without the yolk, because this can lead to a B Vitamin deficiency. Check out this article from Dr. Mercola for more great information: http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2002/11/13/eggs-part-two.aspx. Also important to keep in mind that when buying whey protein powder, it's essential to buy a good quality, organic brand, as many are loaded with additives, colorings, preservatives, and artificial sweeteners.
So, here is a smoothie idea! Of course, as with all recipes, feel free to experiment/improvise!
1 serving cold pressed, organic whey protein (Natural Factors is a good brand)
1-2 tablespoons coconut oil
1/2-1 cup coconut water (try raw milk or whole coconut milk instead)
2 organic eggs
1 tablespoon ground flax seeds
1 handful of berries (or other fresh fruit, berries are lower in sugar)
Dark, leafy greens that you have around (I generally add kale, and you don't taste it at all, but its a great boost of nutrients)
This is a good morning/breakfast smoothie, but can also be a great post-workout meal (30 minutes post exercise, as our body shuts down digestion during intense workouts).
Clearly, I am obsessed with coconut. These macaroons are seriously delicious, and the recipe was given to me by my friend and fellow nutrition couch, Diane Sanfilippo of http://balancedbites.com. As I've mentioned before, coconut comes in many delicious/nutritious forms, including those in this recipe: coconut butter and shredded coconut. Both can be purchased at any health food store/co-op, or online. http://tropicaltraditions.com is a great one. Enjoy!
Variations: I like to add cinnamon and a bit of orange zest. You can also add some raw cacao powder if you want chocolate coconut macaroons, although keep in mind that this is a very overpowering flavor so just a little bit goes a long way!
My love affair with coconut has reached a new level recently, as I have discovered coconut flour. Coconut flour is simply dried, ground coconut which contains 14% coconut oil and 58% fiber! The remaining 28% consists of water, protein, and carbohydrate (Dr. Mercola). For those of us who are gluten free, or simply experimenting with healthier alternatives, coconut flour is a wonderful choice. Other gluten-free flours such as brown rice, quinoa, buckwheat, and cornmeal flours, may still have an irritating/inflammatory effect on the gut for some people. Also, coconut flour has a delicious, sweet taste, which makes it ideal for baking. It does not bind as other flours would, but mixing it with eggs fixes the problem. You can buy coconut flour at any health food store (your local co-op, whole foods, etc), or you can order it online from a great company: tropicaltraditions.com. These pancakes will keep you feeling full due to the healthy fat and high fiber content.
I have been experimenting with gluten/grain free pancake recipes lately, and adapted the following from nourishingdays.com. Enjoy!
COCONUT FLOUR PANCAKES
recipe yields about 6 medium size pancakes
4 organic eggs
1/2 cup coconut flour
1 cup coconut milk (full fat) or raw cow's milk
1 tsp baking soda
pinch of sea salt
1 mashed banana (optional...I added this to make them extra fluffy)
Vanilla to taste
Cinnamon (feel free to use other spices...ginger and/or nutmeg would be tasty)
1 tbsp. sweetener (I used about 1 tsp. raw honey)
Coconut oil, butter, or ghee for frying
Mix all wet ingredients together, then dry ingredients separately. Coconut flour may need to be sifted, as it will often have some chunks in it. Then mix everything together until smooth, fry in cooking fat of your choice, top with a bit of grade B maple syrup, berries, or spread with butter or coconut oil. Yum!!
I've recently found myself all too often spending $2+ on Lara bars...as they are really the only healthy snack food you can buy in any close proximity to my work-place. They only have 2 or 3 ingredients, such as cashews, dates, and coconut. I thought to myself over the weekend, "I could easily make 10 of these for the price I'm paying for 1 or 2." And not only was that accomplished, but (if I may brag for a moment), they came out much better! It really is so simple to make our own snack foods, whether they be raw like this recipe, dehydrated (still raw of course, but a bit more time consuming), or something baked, such as homemade granola bars (which can also be made grain or gluten free, depending on your diet/taste/digestive status). My one problem with these is exercising self-control...while they are undoubtedly healthy, they do contain a good amount of sugar (dried fruit), so its important not to go crazy! Check out the recipe:
Homemade "Lara" Bars
Adapted from loveveggiesandyoga.com
1 cup organic dried fruit (whatever you want, I used dates, currants, and cranberries)
2/3 cup nuts and seeds (again, any kind will work, I used walnuts and almonds because thats what I had around)
As with any recipe, you can play around with this! I added cinnamon, a bit of raw cacoa powder, and shredded coconut. Experiment with your favorite spices!
Grind nuts/seeds in either a Vitamix or food processor, remove and set aside.
Next, grind dried fruit
Add ground nut/seed mixture to fruit, and grind together until it forms a paste (also, add whatever other ingredients you'd like at this point)
Last, lay out mixture and form into bars/balls/whatever you want. Wrap individually (or not, although they do stick together a bit), and refrigerate.
Its that simple...Enjoy!
Almond butter, sooooooo delicious, yet soooooo expensive. I was introduced to this recipe last year by fellow Nutrition Educator Ruby Germono. After making it last night and being reminded how delicious it was, I thought I'd share! First, lets look briefly at the health benefits reaped from the main ingredients of this recipe: almonds and coconut oil.
Almonds are an excellent source of monounsaturated fat, which have shown to reduce the risk of heart disease. They are also high in vitamin E, potassium, magnesium, calcium, iron, and zinc. Almonds have been shown to lower our "bad" cholesterol (LDL), and are also high in fiber.
Coconut Oil is amazing. Enough said. By now, you all know how I feel about coconut oil, but here's a quick reminder of its myriad of health promoting properties. Coconut oil is a medium chain fatty acid, which has been shown to boost metabolism and actually help with weight loss (despite what conventional nutrition would warn against all saturated fats being evil). Additionally, coconut oil is an anti-microbial, and can help with gut (and other) inflammation, it has many antioxidant properties that protect against cancer and degenerative disease, and is a great immune booster. Read my previous blog on coconut oil for more info.
2 cups almonds
3/4 cup coconut oil
1-2 tablespoons raw honey (I'd start with one and then add to taste)
1/2-1 teaspoon sea salt (again, start with just a pinch)
For this recipe, you will need either a powerful blender (I have a VitaMix), or a food processor. If using a VitaMix, put all ingredients in the blender and just go for it. If using a food processor, first grind the nuts and sea salt, then add honey and coconut oil and process until smooth.
You can also use any other kind of nuts! I recommend soaking the nuts first, as nuts, seeds, and grains all
have enzyme inhibitors (designed by nature to protect), however it makes these foods partially indigestible. By soaking (with almonds, soak for 8-12 hours), it allows us to digest more of the vitamin and mineral content and is less likely to cause digestive distress. This is not absolutely necessary, but a good idea!
Yum!!While another fascinating nutrition post is soon on the way (I know I know, you're all holding your breath and haven't slept in days), I wanted to share this delicious recipe I just made! Lamb is a great source of protein, as well as the mineral Zinc. Zinc is vital for our immune systems, wound healing, bone density, and prostate health (as well as many other benefits!). Lamb is also high in vitamin B12, which is crucial for proper brain and nervous system function. I wrapped mine in kale leaves and topped with some spicy mustard and raw sauerkraut. Enjoy!!!
Basil Lamb Burgers
1 lb Ground Lamb
3 Cloves garlic, minced
½ tsp cayenne pepper
¼ Cup scallions, chopped
¼ Cup fresh basil, chopped
1Tbs ground flax seeds
1 Tabs sea salt
Pepper to taste
1. In a large bowl, mix the turkey, garlic, cayenne pepper, scallions, basil, salt and pepper.
2. Allow to marinate for at least 30 minutes in the refrigerator.
3. Take the mixture and make them into patties of desired size.
4. Grill on medium heat for about 5-6 minutes each side or until done.
5. Serve with rosemary potatoes from previous recipe.
Just wanted to quickly post this amazing kale salad recipe that is so simple, tasty, and good for you! I have served this dish to people wary of kale and they've loved it, and fellow kale enthusiasts find themselves making it weekly. The following recipe is the whole sha-bang, if you will (and you will)...but if you're pressed for time simply throw the three main dressing ingredients together and massage it into some kale. And there ya go, you've got yourself a salad!!
Let me give a brief overview of the myriad of kale's health benefits. It is incredibly nutrient dense, first of all being full of powerful anti-oxidants that protect our cells from free radicals (like those found in rancid oils, like canola and vegetable oils). Kale is one of the best sources of Vitamin K, as well, which is crucial for anti-blood clotting properties and absorption of calcium (among other things). Furthermore, kale has been proven to act as an anti-cancer agent , provides cardiovascular support, and is very anti-inflammatory due to its amounts of omega 3 essential fatty acids. According to whfoods.com, It only takes 100 calories of kale to provide us with 25-35% of the National Academy of Sciences' public health recommendation for the most basic omega-3 fatty acid (alpha-linolenic acid, or ALA). We suspect that this amount will be plenty to show direct anti-inflammatory benefits from regular kale intake." So...eat up!!
1/3 cup tamari soy sauce (tamari is better than regular soy because its fermented! Yay probiotics!)
1/3 cup lemon juice
1/3 cup flax seed or extra virgin olive oil
1/2 medium- seized red onion
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
1/4 cup sesame seeds
1 lb. fresh kale
1/2 cup alfalfa sprouts
1/2 cup sunflower sprouts
1 avocado, cut into 1/2 inch cubes (optional)
1 cup thinly sliced shiitake or crimini mushrooms (optional)
Combine the Bragg or soy sauce and lemon juice in a blender or whisk in a bowl. Slowly dribble in the oil as the blender turns or as you whisk vigorously. Slice the onion into thin half-moons and marinate in the dressing as you prepare the rest of the salad.
Toast the seeds in a heavy bottomed pan over medium heat until seeds are just golden and fragrant. Toast each seed type separately as their size requires varying roasting times. Cool to room temperature.
De-stem the kale. Stack the kale leaves and slice into 1/4 inch ribbons. This is the most important step so make sure that you take your time. The success of this recipe lies in cutting the kale into small ribbons and in completely massaging the kale with the dressing.
Toss the seeds, sprouts, and kale together in the marinated onions and as much dressing as necessary to lightly but completely dress the kale. Massage the dressing into the kale with your hands. Add the avocado and mushrooms if using and toss again with your hands.
Hello all! Well this recipe is a little late considering Thanksgiving has come and gone (along with our tighter-fitting clothes...we'll simply retire you until Spring), but I made this dish for the occasion and it would be great for Christmas, Hanukkah, or any night Monday-Sunday. Its absolutely delicious, and a nice change from 1) standard mashed potato dish which, if you have inflammation and particularly joint pain, you should stay away from (as well as all other nightshade vegetables), or 2) typical sweet potato dish with marshmallows and whatever other crap is generally included.
As always, a brief lesson the endless benefits of yams. Yams are a great source of potassium, which is crucial for controlling blood pressure. Also, they are full of vitamin B6, which is linked to decreased risk of heart attack and stroke. Yams are additionally good for blood sugar regulation, as they are a complex carbohydrate which release sugar into the blood at a slow and steady pace. This mixed with its high fiber content make us satiated, and therefore, help with weight control. Yams are also very high in vitamin C (27% of our daily value in one cup of cubed yam), B vitamins, magnesium, calcium, and phosphorus.
Also included in this recipe are macadamia nuts, which are chalked full of of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and heart healthy monounsaturated fats. The recipe also includes coconut, which I previously wrote an entire blog on because its just that good...but includes among other things incredibly healthy short and medium chain fatty acids (that are great to cook with because they don't go rancid at high temperatures), provide us with energy that is not stored as fat (it can actually help us lose weight), and is rich in lauric acid which protects and boosts the immune system.
So now that we're all excited...try out this recipe!
Coconut Macadamia Nut Sweet Potato Mash
Source: Heidi Swanson (6 servings)
2 ½ lbs. orange-fleshed sweet potatoes
⅓ cup coconut milk
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, grated
1 tablespoon maple syrup
½ teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
⅓ cup raw, unsweetened grated coconut
2 tablespoons melted butter or coconut oil
⅓ cup toasted macadamia nuts, chopped
Preheat your oven to 350F degrees, a rack in the upper third. Butter or oil 6 ramekins or a single medium-sized casserole dish.
Wrap each sweet potato in foil, pierce numerous times with the tines of a fork and place in the oven for somewhere between an hour and an hour and a half, until each is baked through. Times vary greatly depending on the size of your sweet potatoes - in the end you should be able to cut through the center flesh as if it were soft butter.
Remove the potatoes from the oven, let them cool for a few minutes, and cut each sweet potato in half. Scrape the flesh into a medium mixing bowl. You should have about three cups of sweet potatoes.
In a large bowl mash the sweet potatoes with the coconut milk. If my sweet potatoes are on the fibrous side, l take a hand blender to them for a minute or so (alternately you could use a food processor). Stir in the ginger, maple syrup and salt. Let it sit for a few minutes, stir again and taste - adjust the seasoning if you need to - this is your chance to get the right amount of salt and ginger in the sweet potatoes before they go in the oven.
Spoon the sweet potato mixture into individual baking dishes (or single larger baking dish), sprinkle with coconut, drizzle with olive oil and bake uncovered until warm and the coconut golden roughly 30 - 40 minutes.
Remove and sprinkle with the toasted macadamia nuts.
This was described last night by more than one person as the best chicken they hadever had...and I am inclined to agree. Its full of healthy fats like coconut, organic butter from grass fed cows, and ghee (see previous blog on fats). Hopefully by now we have embraced the importance of good fats in our diet and are eating plenty of protein which is so essential to our overall function (at least 20 grams per meal, especially at breakfast!). This recipe was adapted fromEat Fat Lose Fat by Dr. Mary Enig and Sally Fallon. They call for 1 cup of sourdough breadcrumbs, but I substituted flax and almond meal. Enjoy!
1 Tablespoon flax seeds
1/4 cup almond meal
1 tablespoon curry powder
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup shredded unsweetened dried coconut
1/2 cup fresh orange juice
6 chicken thighs (or whatever chicken you have)
1/2 cup of either butter, ghee, or coconut oil (I used a blend of all three)
Preheat oven to 350 F. Mix together flax and almond meal, curry powder, salt, and coconut on a large plate. Pour orange juice into a small bowl with one beaten egg. Dip the chicken into the juice/egg mixture, and then in the "breading" mix. Place prepared thighs into a buttered pyrex pan. Melt butter/coconut oil/ghee together in a small saucepan (or in the oven) and pour over chicken. Bake for at least an hour, or until chicken is cooked through.