Tagged antioxidants

Kale

Kale, kale, bo bell, banana nana fo fell, fee fi fo fell – kaaallee. This leafy green can make some mouths drool and others afraid to come to the dinner table. Obviously, for Becky and I, it is the former (ya know, since we named our blog after it and all). It is not just the taste that gets us so excited to eat kale, it is also all the nutrients packed in it. This post is only going to go over the basic nutritional benefits of kale, but believe me, there are so much more than what is listed here. For starters, just one cup of kale contains enough vitamin K, A and C for the entire day. JUST ONE CUP (gasp).

But what do all of these vitamins do for you and why is kale so important? Great questions! We covered antioxidants in some of our previous posts, but I can’t stress how important they are for daily intake. Every day our body undergoes stress and this stress creates free radicals. Whenever I picture free radicals in my head I see little hooligans with California surfer dude accents, beating up my cells while saying “radical dude”. Vitamin C and Vitamin A are both powerful antioxidants that have the power to fight against those California hooligans, so eating kale regularly can help keep you from getting sick, prevent cancer, and keep you looking and feeling young. Vitamin K is an important fat-soluble vitamin that helps with blood clotting. I’m sure you are wondering why blood clotting would be a good thing, and yes many times we want to avoid clots within our cardiovascular system, but the fact is our body still needs to be able to make clots when necessary. All those tiny knicks from shaving or bruises you get from running into the end of the bed in the middle of the night require Vitamin K to heal up nicely.

Something that I learned more recently is that kale contains a tiny bit of fat. In general, vegetables have pretty minimal fat contents, so I never would have imagined that it could be another one of kale’s amazing health benefits. The reason why the fat content in kale is so special is the ratio between omega-3s and omega-6s. A western diet typically contains an omega-6:omega-3 ratio of 15:1 to 16.7:1, but the recommended ratio is 1:1. Kale has the exact ratio of omega-3s to omega-6s recommended to achieve ultimate health and keeping a balanced ratio can help fight inflammation, which is suspected to be the main cause of the majority of diseases. Kale is also a great source of fiber, a key component in keeping your bowels regular and your heart healthy!

Cooking kale can be tricky and I think that is why many people don’t find it enjoyable. One of the most common complaints I hear is how long it takes to eat kale because of its hard to chew center, but the easy fix to this is removing the center before using kale in recipes. Experimenting with new vegetables can be tons of fun, so try to include it in several different recipes until you find what you like. I love to include kale in almost every soup I make and I also love to chop it up really fine and include it in salads. Check out our recipe page for tasty kale recipes and share some of your favorite recipes in the comments!

Matcha Matcha Matcha

There could not possibly be a better superfood to focus on in the month of March than matcha. The vibrant green color screams St. Patrick’s Day and the name itself sounds eerily like March – so in my eyes, they were made for each other.

When I was a teenager I worked at a huge health food supermarket and I stumbled upon the magic powder that is Matcha. Obviously, the health benefits of green tea have been widely known for years, so what makes Matcha so magical? I’m glad you asked because I could go for days!

For starters, matcha has an unbelievable amount of antioxidants. When you brew a cup of normal green tea the water can only extract a portion of the antioxidants housed in the tea leaves, so tons of antioxidants are thrown in the trash with the tea bag. Matcha powder, on the other hand, is produced by grounding the entire tea leaf, so a serving of matcha tea houses the same antioxidant power as 10 cups of brewed green tea! In fact, the ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) for matcha is 1573 units per gram which outshines many vegetables, fruits, nuts, and other Superfoods. As you may remember, antioxidants are a great defense for the body against illnesses and can even help prevent aging and chronic diseases like cancer. One type of antioxidant that matcha contains, known as catechin EGCg, is known specifically for its anticancer properties. Catechin EGCg fights body damaging free radicals formed from UV rays, radiation, pollution, and other chemicals.

Matcha also contains L-theanine, a special amino acid that has the capability to cross the blood-brain barrier. Because of this property, L-theanine has the potential ability to decrease mental and physical stress and boost mood and cognitive performance. Matcha is believed to contain almost 5 times the amount of L-theanine found in other common teas.

To round out that awesome magic housed in matcha we present you with caffeine! I can’t even pretend that I could make it through a day without ingesting some form of caffeine – two children and the bags under my eyes are a dead giveaway. Luckily for me (and everyone I come in contact with), matcha contains about twice the amount of caffeine found in other teas, but because of the calming effects of L-theanine, matcha will not leave you feeling jittery like a cup of several cups of coffee. In fact, for years Buddhist monks have used matcha green tea to stay awake and alert for long periods (we are talking days here) of meditation.

So matcha can help you stay awake, calm you down, make you smarter, help you lose weight, prevent you from getting sick, ward off cancer, detoxify your body, and lower cholesterol and blood sugar (which I didn’t even get to, I know!). But, does it taste good? YES! Matcha powder has the earthy taste that most green teas have but it has a surprising sweetness to it. So what are you waiting for, whip up this simple recipe and ENJOY!

Vanilla Matcha Green Tea Latte
1 teaspoon matcha green tea powder
1/2 cup water
1 cup vanilla soy milk
1 teaspoon honey/maple syrup/agave

  1. Bring water to a simmer and remove from heat. Whisk in matcha green tea powder and sweetener.
  2. Warm soy milk and add to tea mixture. Mmmmm. Yum.

5 Important Ingredients for a Healthy Breakfast

As a dietitian, I find it aggravating that breakfast is considered the “most important meal of the day”, #everymealisimportant. Why do I find it aggravating? Mainly due to the fact that in America breakfast is another excuse to eat dessert – pancakes, waffles, cinnamon rolls, frosted flakes, French toast, and pastries/doughnuts! Breakfast could be one of the most important meals of the day if it actually contains ingredients that are nutritious. A grrrrreat, and important breakfast, would include these 5 ingredients!

  1. Lean Protein – Proteins are the main building blocks of the body! Protein helps build muscles, hormones, neurotransmitters, skin, etc. – without protein, life would not be possible. Proteins must be broken down into amino acids to be digested though. This process requires more energy and time than digestion of carbs and fats, which results in a feeling of fullness for a longer period of time. So, not only do you burn more calories eating it, but you also eat less over time! It gets even better though (*gasp). Since protein slows down digestion, it has the ability to prevent sugar highs and low – and as Trinh Le, MPH, RD points out, a lot of bad diet decisions can be made on a sugar low. Choose lean proteins, like those listed below, to limit intake of saturated fat.
    1. Whole Egg
    2. Fish
    3. Turkey Sausage
    4. Beans
    5. Nuts
    6. Tofu
    7. Yogurt/Low-fat milk
  2. Healthy Fats- Healthy Fats provide a great source of Omega-3 Fatty acids which have numerous health benefits for your body including reduced inflammation, decreased depression/anxiety, improved risk factors associated with heart disease and many more!  Fat also helps with satiety,  helping you to feel more satisfied.  And let’s face it, fat makes everything taste better.  If food doesn’t taste good then we aren’t eating it!  Healthy fats can come from foods included in the list below.
    1. Avocado
    2. Fish
    3. Nuts/ Nut Butters
    4. Olive Oil
    5. Whole Egg
    6. Flax/Chia Seeds
  3. Fiber – Fiber feeds the good bacteria in the gut.  When the good bacteria are fed and functioning at optimal levels this leads to reduced inflammation, improved status of GI disorders like IBS and Crohn’s, and an increased production of nutrients in the body.  Foods that have fiber in them tend to be lower on the glycemic index, which helps those nasty hunger “highs and lows”. So, take care of your gut and it will take care of you!  Sources of dietary fiber are listed below.
    1. Fruits
    2. Whole Grains
    3. Beans
    4. Vegetables
    5. Nuts
  4. B Vitamins – The eight B vitamins — B1 (thiamin), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B5 (pantothenic acid), B6, B7 (biotin), B9 (folic acid),  and B12 — aid the processes in which the body makes and uses energy. So, basically they help convert all those healthy proteins, fats, and carbs eaten during breakfast into energy.  It’s simple, without B Vitamins, it is more difficult to be energized, regardless of how much coffee you drink with breakfast!
    1. Fruits
    2. Vegetables
    3. Nuts
    4. Eggs
    5. Meat/Fish
    6. Fortified Grains
  5. Antioxidants – Our bodies naturally produce toxins throughout the day. These toxins can damage cells and lead to heart disease, cancer, hearing loss, and even aging but antioxidants can help prevent these side effects. Antioxidants neutralize free radicals (aka toxins) by donating an electron and making them stable. The foods below are rich in antioxidants, such as Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Flavonoids, etc.
    1. Citrus Fruits
    2. Berries
    3. Coffee/Tea
    4. Nuts
    5. Avocados

Mmmmmm breakfast.

Dark Chocolate Detox Bark

February is American Heart Month! My family health history has proven to me that I have a ticking time bomb nestled in my chest, so heart health has always been extremely important to me. But just because I like to look out for my heart, doesn’t mean I miss out on delicious desserts. In fact, the ingredients in these little treasures can help defend against heart disease and loads of other illnesses.????????????????????????????????????

Bark Ingredients:

Dark Chocolate – Sometimes I think the main heart benefit of dark chocolate is the relaxing feeling you get when it hits your tongue (AKA euphoria), but experts say there’s a whole lot more involved (AKA science). Lucky for us, dark chocolate contains the highest amount of flavanols, which are a type of flavonoid. Our body naturally produces toxins on a daily basis and antioxidants, such as flavonoids, help fight against the damage toxins can cause over time, like the build up of plaque in our arteries. Flavanols also help lower blood pressure and improve blood flow – so three cheers for dark chocolate!

Nuts (Pistachios, Almonds, and Walnuts) – Nuts tend to get a bad wrap because of their fat content, but a little goes a long way since they are filled with healthy monounsaturated fat. A study done in 2008 by the American Society for Clinical Nutrition showed that just two servings of pistachios can help drastically lower LDL and total cholesterol. The unsaturated fats found in nuts can protect your heart and raise seratonin levels, which will help boost  your mood. Nuts also contain a good amount of fiber and plant sterols to help lower cholesterol, Vitamin E to help decrease plaque build up, and L-arginine to help make the blood vessels more flexible.

Pumpkin Seeds – At first we decided to add the pumpkin seeds because they are such a beautiful color, but it turns out these beauties are also packed full of healthy nutrients for your heart. The biggest powerhouse is Magnesium – a mineral that most Americans are deficient in. Magnesium can help regulate blood pressure and help prevent cardiac arrest or a stroke because of its role in helping the heart pump.

Dried Fruit (Cherries and Blueberries) – Just like dark chocolate, dried fruits contain a hefty amount of antioxidants, especially polyphenols. All of those antioxidants will help improve blood flow and keep the heart pumping for generations to come.

????????????????????????????????????

  1. Line an 8×8 pan with wax paper.
  2. Break up 8 ounces of dark chocolate into small pieces and place in a microwave safe container.
  3. Microwave 60 seconds and stir. Place back in microwave for another 30 seconds, stir and repeat until chocolate is melted completely.
  4. Pour melted chocolate into the 8×8 lined pan and let cool for 3 to 5 minutes (do not allow chocolate to set completely).
  5. Top with nuts, seeds, and dried fruit.
  6. Eat it.