Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Lectins - Are Beans Really Toxic?

It is probably best to decide for yourself whether lectin rich foods should be avoided.

This site does an excellent job of summarizing the research and clinical data available.

Essentially, the following food groups could be harming your body:
  • grains, especially wheat and wheat germ but also quinoa, rice, buckwheat, oats, rye, barley, millet and corn.
  • legumes (all dried beans, including soy and peanuts),
  • dairy (perhaps more so when cows are feed grains instead of grass, a speculation based on research showing transference of lectins into breast milk and dairy.
  • nightshade (includes potato, tomato, eggplant and pepper).
What is left to eat!  Luckily animal sources containing lectins, including eggs, are not considered to have toxic effects at this time.

Experiment with removing the food groups above for 7-10 and see how you feel.  Listen to your body, it will guide you.

Breakfast Tonic of Champions

A few months ago I stumbled across a folk remedy and holistic cure website.  It totally blew my mind.  I had never heard of Apple Cider Vinegar, or the practice of taking Tumeric, the spice that gives curry its yellow color, on a daily basis.

I now take the following breakfast tonic everyday. 
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tbsp Organic, Raw Unfiltered Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1 tsp Tumeric
  • 1/4 tsp Cayenne Pepper
  • 1/4 tsp Cinnamon

The effects…  Morning alertness, increased energy throughout the day, clearer skin.  It really has made a significant improvement to how I look and feel.  Still bald however, it does not trigger hair growth.  I wonder if there is a holistic remedy for that!

Gluten Free, Dairy Free, No Processed Suagr Red Velvet Cupcake

It was a bold endeavor; create a cupcake using no flour product of any kind, no processed sugar, no butter or dairy of any sort.  Basically omit the essence of what a cupcake is. 

Not just a challenge to create any cupcake, but a Red Velvet Cupcake.  Known for being super rich, utilizing a cream cheese frosting.  How do you make cream cheese frosting with no dairy?! 

The Cake:
After crawling around the web, I found a cupcake recipe using garbanzo beans.  Seemed crazy, but I thought what the hell.  The batter was runny and I thought I was doomed for failure.  The darkened during baking, and actually came out with a decent texture.

The Frosting:
The frosting proved even more challenging, but again Google came to the rescue.  How about a cream cheese frosting made from Cashews?  At this point I began questioning my sanity.  But what the hell, started soaking some cashews.

The result was interesting.... But ultimately unsuccessful.  I would definitely use more Agave nectar next time, as the cupcake was not sweet enough.

The Cashew based cream cheese frosting needs... A lot, not even sure where to start.  But alas, will return to this challenge again until it comes out right.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Healthy Chocolate Fudge

With two attempts, this healthy dessert keeps getting better.  Incredibly easy, you just need a few ingredients and a food processor.

  • 1 cup organic cacao powder (preferably organic, definitely non-alkaline extraction)
  • 1 cup raw, virgin, organic coconut oil (available at Trader Joes for $6)
  • 2-3 Tbsp Raw Organic Honey / Raw Organic Agave Nectar  (could sub stevia, since no baking, not sure amount)
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup Nuts (your choice, almonds and walnuts are always good)

Heat some water in a saucepan.  Put the coconut oil in a heat safe bowl, and set in sauce pan just until about half of the coconut oil has turned into a liquid state.  You don't want to heat this really, just bring it up to 78 degrees or so to change the solid to liquid state.  Set aside.

Process cacao powder and nuts.  Add coconut oil.  Try not to over-blend or separation may occur.  Taste, add honey until sweet enough. 

Spread into a parchment lined loaf pan.  Chill for 30-60 minutes in the freezer.  Cut into ~24 pieces, individually wrap, and store in fridge.  Coconut oil based products should not be stored at room temp, they will melt. 

This provides a tasty and convenient way to consume healthy fat.  Coconut oil is a special medium chain fat with amazing health benefits.

Nutrition Info:
Calories - 115
Fat - 10.7
Sat. Fat - 9.2
Carbs - 4.2
Sugar - 2.1
Protein 1.1

Home Made Protein Bars

This was my first attempt at a home made protein bar.  The results were interesting...

Since I started eating more Paleo, the oatmeal and cereal will be replaced by quinoa and lentils. 

In addition, the next protein bar will feature organic cacao powder instead of chocolate chips.

Still trying to find a replacement/substitute for textured vegetable protein (aka processed soy) that you find in so many commercial protein bars. 

Some combination of super foods (chia seeds, quinoa, cacao powder, berries) along with protein powder and possibly egg whites for the next incarnation. 

2 cups oatmeal
2 cups Kashi cereal
12 scoops whey protein
1/2 cup almond butter
1/2 cup honey
1 banana
1 cup almond / coconut milk
1/2 cup apple sauce
1 cup cranberry
1 cup almond slivers
1/2 cup walnuts
1.5 cup chocolate chips
1 cup flax meal
1 cup water

Nutrition Information:
Calories    Fat       Carbs  Sugar  Protein
255.4        12.2      21.5     6.1       15.4

Grass Fed Beef Chili - Quick Dinner

I try to eat the highest quality lean protein meats whenever possible.  And a person can only eat so much chicken!

Thankfully, there is Organic, 100% grass fed beef available at farmers markets and chain stores including Sprouts and Whole Foods.

This healthy dinner took just over 30 minutes to prepare.  Great weeknight option. 

Chili -
1 pound organic, grass fed ground beef
1 can organic pinto beans
1 cup tomato cream sauce (or pasta sauce)
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 white onion, chopped
1 can organic tomato paste
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/2 teaspoon garam masala
(all seasoning just estimates, I just eyeball it)

Saute onion and garlic, add ground beef, cook until no longer pink (10 min).  Strain excess fat, return to pan, ass tomato and beans.  Bring to boil.  Reduce heat and simmer covered for 20 minutes.

Lentils -
1 cup red or green lentils
2 cups water or organic chicken stock
1 bay leaf
2 whole cloves
Garlic salt
Cayenne Pepper
Garam Masala

Rinse lentils in strainer three times.  Add to sauce pan with water/stock.  Bring to boil.  Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 20 minutes until done.  

Kale Salad -
Whatever you have on hand, it's salad!  Kale goes well with apples and walnuts.   Make a simple balsamic vinaigrette to dress it. 

Friday, February 24, 2012

Mayo Alternative That Sounds Halfway Decent

Found a great Mayonnaise alternative on Yahoo.

Egg-free, Soy-free, Dairy-free Mayonnaise Substitute

meat of 1 avocado, sliced or cut in chunks
juice of one half of a lemon
1-2 heaping teaspoons Dijon mustard (I use the grainy kind)
2 tsp.-1 T milk alternative (rice milk, hemp milk, etc.)
a couple of dashes of paprika
a pinch of salt
a pinch of sugar, if you like your mayo a bit sweeter

I am going to try to make more chicken and salmon salads, but they are just not the same without mayo.  Hopefully this alternative bridges the gap. 

Epigenetics - Effecting Future Generations

I had heard about the Zone Diet, but never paid much attention to the details.  Then I was listening to a podcast where the founder of the Zone Diet philosophy, Barry Sears, was interviewed.  It completely changed my mind.  It might be the most scientific and factual approach to healthy eating and longevity.

One interesting fact, our dietary choices effect out future generations and their likelihood for obesity.  Those Cheetos are going to make your grandkids fat.  Grab an apple instead.

Read more about Epigenetics.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Eating for Health - Awesome Video

Stumbled upon this UCTelevision Video on Youtube, amazingly insightful.  Worth the hour long investment.  A quick guide to eating healthy.

Nutrition and Cancer

Protein - A Quick Intro to Protein Suppliments

So there are a million different options and approaches to getting more protein via powders.  There are two primary types:

Whey Protein - Fast acting, take immediately after a workout / run / gym.  Protein powder will not create muscle (common fear) but will actually help tone and lean existing muscle.  Will not make you bulky at all.  The best price / performance ration for Whey Protein is ON's 100% Whey.

Casein Protein - Longer releasing, ideal for breakfast shake or evening drink.  Slowly releases, allowing body to absorb protein over several hours.  Lots of options, I prefer Optimum Nutrition brand here as well.

Both products above are milk based.  There is also a new all-veggie protein powder called Raw Protein, available at Whole Foods.  Pretty expensive, but entirely plant based.  I have not experimented with plant based proteins yet. 

In addition to straight protein powders, there are also blends.  A mixture of protein, amino acids, vitamins, minerals, etc.  A little more expensive, think of them as "designer proteins"    I really like this product and take some every morning and evening - Syntha6.

Stay aware from the protein powders sold at supermarkets like Walmart, etc.  They are very cheaply made.

You can of course also buy premixed shakes, protein bars, etc.  I used to buy these, but they are over-processed and contain to much sugar. 

As always, good idea to consult your doctor first about what is best for your body. 

Water - The Simplest Way to Lose Weight

You have heard it a million times, but it does not make it any less true.  If you want to be healthy and lose weight, drink drink drink that H20.

Obviously, consuming a large glass of water before eating will make you feel full sooner.

But beyond just drinking before meals, consuming large amounts of water will help flush toxins, give you an excuse to get up from your desk every 2 hours for a brief walk, and provide opportunities to hit on that hot new intern at the water cooler.  Water as office wing-man, who would have thought.

*Photo used from Rock 96.7 website.

My Favorite Raw Food - Sushi

Last night I battled traffic for a final opportunity to dine at my favorite sushi restaurant, Sushi Nozawa.  Nozawa-san, credited with creating the Omakase craze in the United States, has decided to retire and will shut his doors at the end of February.

The meal did not disappoint.  Baby tuna in ponzu sauce, red snapper, scallops, blue crab hand roll, lobster hand roll, Toro hand rool, salmon, Monkfish liver.

While the rice and fish portion consumed during this glutenous meal was obviously excessive, sushi is a great way to get raw protein in a convenient and relatively fashion.

For lunch, try a sashimi salad, which will normally feature several small pieces of different fish over a bed of Japanese greens with a sesame oil based dressing.  Very healthy, low carb, and delicious!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Raw Foods - Everything in Balance

An excellent overview of why a "raw food" diet (75% of food cooked at less than 115 degree) is not necessarily healthy.

Consistent with all recommendations on this blog, everything in moderation.  Raw foods are great, but you want to mix it up for ideal health.

Raw Food
A review of the scientific literature for raw food risk and benefits.

Vegan, Raw Brownies

As a seasoned baker, I have created some amazing desserts, with copious amounts of sugar, oil and eggs.  As I try to introduce more raw foods into my diet, and avoid all processed sugar, baking becomes a challenging endeavor.  Thanks to Cheeky for the recipe, which is recreated below with some minor modifications.

  • 1/2 Cup Slivered Almonds
  • 8 Organic Medjool Dates
  • 3 Tbsp Raw, Organic Agave Nectar
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 Tbsp Almond Butter

 Prep dates; remove seeds and roughly chop.

Process almonds in Food Processor to create almond meal-like consistency.

Add Medjool dates and cocoa poweder, process until well incorporated.  
Add liquid ingredients and pulse until "dough" starts to clump together and move around the food processor together.  Do not over process.
Spread into parchment lined loaf pan. 
Freeze for one hour, cut into appropriate sized pieces.  Store in fridge.  Yields ~16 squares.

I can't say it compares to a Ghirardelli box mix, but it aint half bad.  =)  Rough nutrient analysis:
  • 100 calories
  • 4 grams fat
  • 13 grams carbs
  • 1.25 grams protein

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Fruit and Oatmeal Scrambles

Banana Oatmeal Scramble

Once a week or so I break down and enjoy some good old fashioned grain-based carbohydrates lol.  Ashley at Edible Perspective provided the inspiration for this recipe.

  • 1 Banana, ripe
  • 1 Tbsp Organic Raw Almond Butter
  • 3 Tbsp Organic Rolled Oats 
  • 2 Tbsp Organic Milk alternative (Soy, Almond
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • Dash of raw honey
  • 1/4 tsp Cinnamon 
  • 1 tsp slivered almonds
  • 1 tsp organic butter for greasing the skillet
  1. Mix all ingredients except butter together in a bowl, using a fork to mash the banana.  Should look like lumpy pancake mixture.
  2. Melt butter in pan over medium heat, medium-low if using high quality stainless steel cookware.  Pour batter in, spreading out to roughly 1/3 inch thick.
  3. Cook for ~3 minutes, looking for nice brown bottom but not burnt.  Flip, and cook for another 3 minutes.

Once you have this, you will never go back to regular boring water/milk based oatmeal.  You can use any fruit or nut combination you like.  It will all be delicious.

Extra Money for those Extra Nutrients

Sprouted Seeds
Why three time the price?
While at Whole Foods earlier today, I noticed sprouted red lentils were almost three times the price of regular seed lentils.  Soaking in water sure is expensive!