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Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Foods That Fight Fat #1: Avocado

Over the next several weeks, we would like to introduce you to Seven Fat Fighting Foods. By incorporating these foods into a healthy lifestyle, you will enjoy incredible results! Some may be obvious, and some may shock you!

Fat Fighting Food #1 is Avocados! Avocados may also be referred to as the Alligator Pear due to the shape and dark green, leather-like appearance. 

Avocados have seemed to develop a bad rap as a vegetable TOO high in fat.  Let us begin with the fact that Avocados are indeed a fruit, or a large berry with a single seed.  Second, avocados are know as a Super Food "Fat Fighter" due to there high content of monounsaturated fats, which are the "GOOD FATS". 

How it works Blood sugar peaks can signal your body to store fat around your midsection, but monounsaturated fats stop the spikes, thwarting fat accumulation. Half an avocado contains 10 grams of the healthy fats! YEAH!

Other benefits of Avocados Include:

Helps maintain a healthy heart
Lowers cholesterol
Controls blood pressure
Promotes eye health
Regulate blood sugar levels
Reduces stroke risks
Anti-aging properties
Healthy skin

It is suggested to eat an avocado per day.  Here is a suggested recipe to try. Enjoy!

Avocado Whip
2 cups

2 Avocados, pitted and peeled
1/4 cup fresh lime juice (2-3 limes)
1 Tbsp tahini
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp fresh pepper

Combine all ingredients in a food processor; process until smooth (about 30 seconds).  Transfer to serving dish. (To make up to 6 hours in advanced, set aside 1 Tbsp of lime juice; drizzle over surface and cover with plastic wrap.  Refrigerate.)  Garnish with fresh pepper.

This would be perfect as a vegetable dip or can also be used as a condiment on your favorite wrap.

Stay tuned for Fat Fighting Food #2 coming soon!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

FDA passes ruling on Gluten-free labels

One of the easiest ways to eat gluten-free is to stick with whole foods. There is no need to read labels in search of gluten containing ingredients on a head of broccoli, dried blacks beans, apples, quinoa or chicken. But what about when you purchase those items that do contain an ingredient list. Ingredients can be complicated and hard to pronounce and if you are Celiac and need to avoid all traces of gluten, how do you REALLY know that that product is gluten-free?

Being Celiac, myself, I have experienced adverse reactions eating and drinking products that claimed to be gluten-free. One of the major concerns for Celiacs is cross-contamination of food. A well-known example in the Celiac community are rolled oats. Oats that are processed on the same equipment as wheat products will not have “wheat” on the ingredient list but they should not be consumed by people who have Celiac because of this cross-contamination. Instead, oats need to be designated as gluten-free oats such as Bob’s Red Mill offers.

Gluten is a protein that occurs naturally in wheat, rye and barley. Celiac disease is an inherited auto-immune condition that makes it impossible for those who have it to digest gluten. If gluten is ingested, the body produces antibodies that attack and damage the lining of the small intestine. This can cause severe health problems including nutritional deficiencies, osteoporosis, growth retardation, infertility, miscarriages, short stature and intestinal cancers. Many times there are physical symptoms to ingesting gluten which include bloating, cramping, diarrhea, foggy thinking, constipation, fatigue and headaches.

Personally, I do my research on the companies that claim they are gluten-free to research their practices and whether or not they are producing products in a gluten-free dedicated facility, meaning that no gluten ingredients or products are brought in or produced in the facility. You can see “gluten-free” and “contains no gluten ingredients” and “naturally gluten-free” on many products because of the lack of standards set forth by the FDA, this labeling really doesn’t mean much.

Under the federal definition, which FDA has been working on since 2007, food that carries a "gluten-free" label must contain fewer than 20 parts per million of gluten. There seems to be some research out there that claims that 20 ppm is a safe amount, even for Celiacs, but I am going to beg to disagree. This is a matter of exposure. When gluten is present in a Celiac, there is an autoimmune response. If numerous products that contain 20 ppm (or less) are consumed all at once or on a daily or weekly basis, this exposure compounds and becomes a very real issue for Celiacs. This also allows for companies that do not have a designated gluten-free facility to produce products. How are these standards going to be ENSURED for each and every product that ends up on our grocery shelves? The FDA has not had a lot of success in the past enforcing all of the rules and regulations set forth, so how are these standards going to be enforced?

As for me, I will continue to eat whole foods, and make tasty dishes from great resources like The Healthy Edge Cookbook and limit my intake of processed foods. When I do venture out and eat at restaurants or buy processed foods, I will do my research and choose restaurants and companies that are dedicated gluten-free and have great reviews from other Celiacs. There is a powerful community at www.celiaccommunity.org where people will post honest reviews of products they have had an issue with.    

Friday, August 2, 2013

Breaded Zucchini Bites

This is the season for zucchini.  If you have a plant of your own, you know how plentiful your crop can be. So what do you do with all of your extras?  Of course it is always nice to share the bounty with family and friends, but it is also a good idea to preserve what you can for use later in the year.

I recently made four loaves of Zucchini Bread.  I left two out and wrapped two up tightly in Saran wrap, then put into freezer bags and froze them for a later time.  I also shred two of my "monster" zucchinis and put enough to make a batch of bread into a freezer bag, squeezed out all excess air, sealed the bag and put them in the freezer to save for this winter.

While looking for something new to do with zucchini for dinner, I came across a recipe for zucchini fries.  Of course they used ingredients that aren't necessarily "Healthy Edge", so I had to come up with an alternate plan to replicate these delicious finger foods.  The kids loved them, even my daughter's friend who says she does not eat zucchini tried them and gave me the thumbs up!  Feel free to play with the seasonings that go into the breading to fit your taste.  Enjoy!

Breaded Zucchini Bites

2-3 Zucchini (depending on size and quantity you want to make)
1 cup whole oats, ground in food processor
1/2 cup almonds, ground in food processor
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cumin
1 tsp garlic powder
1 organic egg, beaten

Step One: Cut up your zucchini.  I tried two different ways when cutting my bits.  I sliced one zucchini, about 1/4 inch thick.  The other one I cut in half, then split those pieces in half and sliced it thinly to resemble fries.

Step Two:  Mix your ground oats, ground almonds, pepper, salt, cumin and garlic powder in a bag or a bowl.

Step Three:  Dip your zucchini pieces into the egg, then into the breading mixture and place on a greased baking sheet.

Step Four:  Bake in a pre-heated, 450 degree oven for 14 minutes.  Serve warm.

We hope you enjoy this recipe and let us know what you think or what else you added for seasonings!
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