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Quinoa is SUPER

24 Apr

Not only is quinoa delicious, it is high in protein, fiber and iron, and it’s gluten free.  Quinoa has every one of the nine essential amino acids. These nine essential amino acids are the ones that your body cannot synthesize in quantities sufficient to sustain good health, so they need to come from food sources.  It is also reported to help migraine headaches, because it is a great source of magnesium, a mineral that helps relax blood vessels, preventing the constriction and rebound dilation characteristic of migraines.  Low dietary levels of magnesium can also lead to hypertension, ischemic heart disease, and heart arrhythmias.  Quinoa is good for the heart.

Many people think that quinoa is a type of grain, but it’s not. Quinoa is actually the seed of a plant related to spinach. This food staple is grown in the mountains of Ecuador and was once called “the gold of the Inca’s” because it increased stamina. At that time, the Incas didn’t know about quinoa’s nutritional facts or amino acids.

So now that you know how super quinoa is for you, try one of these unique recipes.

Pineapple Quinoa Boat

1 1/2 cup fresh pineapple, diced

4 cups cooked quinoa

1/2 red onion, diced

1 cup Shiitake mushrooms

1 cup kale, shredded

1/4 cup nutritional yeast

1/2 tsp dried jalapeno

1/2 cup finely diced pineapple

2 Tbsp mint, chopped

2 Tbsp Tahini

3 Tbsp pineapple juice

to taste: splash of tamari, fine black pepper, and pinch of salt

  • Cook your quinoa. I used 1 1/4 cups dry quinoa + 1 cup water + 1 cup veggie broth + pinch salt. Set cooked quinoa aside.
  • Put Quinoa, diced pineapple (not the finely chopped), red onion, shiitake mushrooms, 1 Tbsp mint, kale, nutritional yeast and jalapeno to the pan with a splash of safflower oil. Turn heat to high and cook for about 3 minutes – moving quinoa around so it cooks on all sides. A few crisped bits of quinoa is a good thing. Add a splash of tamari, black pepper and salt to taste. Transfer the fried quinoa to a bowl. Set aside.
  • Quickly sauté the 1/2 cup finely diced pineapple to add as a garnish later. Just brown the edges a bit. The pineapple will pick up the flavor left in the pan. Set aside.
  • Mix the tahini, pineapple juice, and chopped mint for the sauce, and set aside.
  • To plate you spoon in the quinoa mix into a pre-hollowed pineapple. Then add the pineapple garnish over top. Sprinkle 1 Tbsp fresh chopped mint on top. You can serve with the dressing on the side or you can add right over top this dish.

Italian Quinoa Cakes

2 cups cooked quinoa

1 flax egg (1 tbsp of ground flaxseed with 3 tbsp of hot water)

1/2 cup almond flour

2 green onions sliced thinly

2 Tbsp sun-dried tomatoes, chopped

8 fresh basil leaves, chopped

1/2 cup Daiya mozzarella Cheese-Style Shreds (or “real” mozzarella if that floats your boat)

1/2 tsp sea salt, 1/2 tsp black pepper and 1/2 tsp cayenne

1 tsp olive oil, for cooking

  • Place all ingredients in a large bowl and stir well to combine.
  • Form compact cakes with about 1/2 cup of the mix per cake.
  • Heat a frying pan over medium heat with 1 tsp olive oil.
  • Place quinoa cakes in the pan and cook about 4-5 minutes per side, until golden brown.
  • Serve over a bed of salad.

 

Quinoa Brazil Nut Paella

 

1 cup whole grain quinoa

1 1/2 cups vegetable broth

1/2 orange, juiced (about 1/4 cup juice)

1/2 orange de-seeded and diced

2 tsp orange and lemon rind zest

1 lemon, juiced

1 bag frozen mixed organic veggies (peas, corn, carrots)

1 large onion, chopped

2 white button mushrooms, chopped

7 cloves garlic, chopped thickly

1/2 Serrano pepper, roasted, de-seeded and chopped

1/2 cup Brazil nuts, chopped

2 Tbsp olive oil

2 Tbsp vegan buttery spread

2 bay leaves

1/4 teaspoon saffron strands

1 tsp cayenne

generous black pepper

sea salt to taste

Prep:

  • Rinse and dry quinoa with cold water. Set aside.
  • Juice, chop and zest the orange.
  • Juice and zest the lemon.
  • Chop onion, garlic, mushrooms and Brazil nuts.
  • De-seed and slice Serrano pepper. Roast strips of pepper.
  • Microwave frozen veggies for two minutes (or thaw on counter prior to use)

In soup pan:

  • Add oil, vegan spread, a pinch of salt and pepper.
  • Turn heat to high-until oil sizzles.
  • Add onion, garlic, pepper, Brazil nuts and bay leaves.
  • Saute for a few minutes, on medium heat.
  • Add chopped orange and orange zest.
  • Saute uncovered for an additional few minutes.
  • Fold in 3/4 package of frozen veggies (thawed or warmed).
  • Add lemon juice.
  • Saute on medium-high for five minutes, stirring constantly.
  • When all ingredients are cooked through and slightly browned, remove 1/2 of veggies from pot. Set aside, covered.

Quinoa:

  • Turn heat to high and add veggie broth, cayenne, saffron and orange juice.
    Bring to boil.
  • (Yes, half the portion of veggies will still be in the pot.)
  • Add dry quinoa and stir.
  • Reduce heat, cover pot, and simmer for 10-15 minutes.
  • Stir occasionally.
  • When quinoa has absorbed all the liquid, remove cover and fold in remaining veggies to pot.
  • Re-cover and allow to cook on low heat for five minutes. (This should add a nice browning effect to the bottom layer of quinoa.
  • Fluff finished quinoa with fork.
  • Remove bay leaves before serving.
  • Serve hot. Garnish with grated/chopped raw Brazil nuts.

 

Thanks to http://kblog.lunchboxbunch.com/2009/03/recipe-vegan-quinoa-brazil-nut-paella.html for the paella recipe. 

 

Feed Your Heart

14 Feb

On Valentine’s Day, I suggest you love your heart.  Regardless of your relationship status you can spoil your ticker today and feel great about it.  What better way to show your heart you care than to eat something healthy for it?  Below you will find what your heart needs and where to get it.  Wishing you and your heart a very happy Valentine’s Day.

1. Potassium “High blood pressure is perhaps the single greatest contributor to the development of heart disease,” says Kulze. Scientists agree that a diet high in the essential mineral potassium is associated with lower blood pressure levels. Potassium lowers blood pressure by countering the effect of excess sodium and by aiding in the transmission of nerve impulses and promoting normal muscle function, both of which are vital for optimal heart and blood vessel function, explains Kulze.
Find it in: Potatoes, bananas, tomatoes, dark leafy greens, prunes, soybeans, lima beans, pumpkin seeds, avocado, almonds

2. Carotenoids Thanks to their fat solubility and potent antioxidant properties, these plant chemicals (which give fruits and veggies their red, yellow, and orange hues) are a major force in the fight against heart disease. Evidence suggests they interact with bad LDL cholesterol, preventing it from oxidizing and sticking to artery walls. According to a study published in 2004 in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, women with higher levels of carotenoids in their blood had a 34 percent lower risk of cardiovascular disease.
Find them in: Watermelon, kale, carrots, sweet potatoes, red bell peppers

3. Flavonoids Both oxidation and inflammation are involved in the development of cardiovascular disease. “But thanks to their potent antioxidative and anti-inflammatory activity, flavonoids pack a powerful one-two punch against heart disease,” says Kulze. In particular, this large class of plant chemicals keeps the lining of the arteries (endothelial cells) flexible, which improves blood flow and reduces blood clotting. In a 2001 American Journal of Clinical Nutrition study, researchers reported that a 7.5-milligram increase in catechin (the flavonoid compounds found in tea and cocoa) intake resulted in a 20 percent reduction in heart disease mortality risk.
Find them in: Cocoa, dark chocolate, green tea, red wine, extra virgin olive oil, pomegranates, apples

4. Soluble fiber According to a 19-year survey that examined the effects of fiber intake on heart attacks in about 10,000 adults, those who ingested the most soluble fiber had a 12 percent reduction in coronary heart disease events. So what gives soluble fiber its heart-healthy properties? “It combines with water in the GI tract to form a gelatinous mass that ‘sponges up’ cholesterol, diminishing its absorption and escorting it out of the body,” Kulze explains. “It also slows down the digestion and absorption of carbohydrate foods, giving rise to lower and more stable blood glucose and insulin levels, which has favorable effects on metabolism and arterial health.”
Find it in: Whole grains such as oats and barley; beans; okra; Brussels sprouts

5. Omega-3 fatty acids Research continues to confirm that omega- 3 fatty acids, a class of polyunsaturated fats, play a key role in heart health. “Omega-3s give rise to anti-inflammatory molecules known as resolvins and protectins, both of which ward off blood clots that can trigger stroke and heart attack,” explains organic chemist Shane Ellison, author of The Hidden Truth about Cholesterol Lowering Drugs. Also, in a 2005 Brazilian report that reviewed 159 studies of the effects of omega-3 fatty acids, soluble fibers, and phytosterols on heart health, scientists established that omega-3 fatty acids lower triglyceride levels, a risk factor for heart disease. Researchers also found that they increase good HDL cholesterol, says Dawn Jackson Blatner, RD, a spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association and author of The Flexitarian Diet.
Find them in: Flaxseed; flax oil; walnuts; soy; canola oil; small, dark leafy greens such as watercress, arugula, purslane

6. B vitamins (folate, B6) Elevated levels of homocysteine, an amino acid in the blood, are associated with risk of coronary artery disease and stroke. B vitamins folate and B6 work in concert to metabolize or break down homocysteine. Harvard’s famous nurses’ health study showed a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease in women who regularly used multivitamins (a major source of folic acid and vitamin B6) and also in those with high dietary intake of vitamin B6 and folic acid. In another study, reported in the journal Circulation, researchers at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation in Ohio found a link between low blood levels of vitamin B6 and folic acid and an increased risk of atherosclerosis, which can lead to heart attacks and stroke.
Find them in: Fortified breakfast cereals, spinach, broccoli, asparagus, potatoes, bananas, sunflower seeds

Thanks to Vegetarian Times for providing this info.

Espresso Black Bean Chili

25 Jan

From one of my favorite chefs, Mark Bittman.  Here is a unique spin on chili.  Personally I adore coffee and black beans are so yummy (and healthy).

Why are black beans so healthy?  They are a wonderful source of dietary fiber, which has shown to help lower cholesterol. In addition, the high fiber of black beans helps to prevent blood sugar from rising too rapidly after a meal, which is beneficial for people with diabetes or other similar diseases. In addition, black beans are especially high in insoluble fiber, which helps keep your digestive tract healthy. Most importantly, black beans are a high source of protein with virtually NO FAT. Recent research has also found that black beans are rich in antioxidants, the highest level of antioxidants among other beans. These antioxidants, known as anthocyanins, found in black beans help destroy free radicals in the body, which can help fight against heart disease, cancer and aging.

Espresso Black Bean Chili

Makes: 6 to 8 servings

Time: 1 1/2 to 2 hours, largely unattended

3 tablespoons neutral oil, like grapeseed or corn
2 onions, chopped
2 tablespoons minced garlic
3 cups chopped ripe tomato (about 1 1/2 pounds whole; canned is fine; don’t bother to drain)
1/2 to 1 cup freshly brewed espresso, 1 to 2 cups brewed coffee, or 2 tablespoons espresso powder
2 tablespoons chili powder
1/4 cup dark brown sugar or 3 tablespoons molasses
One 3-inch cinnamon stick
1 pound dried black beans, washed, picked over, and soaked if you like
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. Put the oil in a large pot with a tight-fitting lid over medium-high heat. When hot, add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another minute.

2. Stir in the tomato, espresso, chili powder, brown sugar, cinnamon, and beans and add water to cover. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat so the liquid bubbles steadily but not violently. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the beans are beginning to soften, 30 to 40 minutes. Add a good pinch of salt and pepper.

3. Continue cooking until the beans are tender, anywhere from another 45 minutes to 11/2 hours. Taste and adjust the seasoning, adding more sugar, salt, or pepper. Serve or store, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 3 days

Cure Yourself

17 Jan

An amazing movie (documentary) claims the degenerative diseases that afflict us can be controlled, or even reversed, by rejecting animal-based and processed foods.  Quit the meat, quit the dairy, and you can cure yourself?  Watch Forks Over Knives.

I am a believer, and I have been since 1997 when I went Vegan.  My sources back then were not as well prepared and entertaining as Forks Over Knives.   This movie is so easy to watch; it flies by.

Myths, old-wives tales, and greed driven propaganda are dispelled so absolutely it will blow your mind.  Degenerative diseases like heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and even several forms of cancer, could almost always be prevented, and in many cases reversed, by adopting a whole foods, plant-based diet.   But do you want to believe it?  I bet you don’t, because it’s just too hard….to give up your meat.

(Forks Over Knives is currently showing on HBO, as well as free-streaming on Netflix.)

Wishing you happy enlightenment my friends.  Be good to yourselves.

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