Lentil and Swiss Chard Soup

Let’s prevent cancer! This recipe is quite easy. It is prepared with simple ingredients but the flavor is dynamic!


You’ll Need

  • 1 cup lentils
  • 1 ½ quarts water
  • 1 large potato, diced
  • ½ bunch Swiss chard or Kale
  • 1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil
  • Lemon wedges or lemon juice

Directions

  • Wash lentils, add water, cover and cook until almost tender.
  • Add diced potato; boil for 10 minutes.
  • Add Swiss chard or Kale.
  • Meanwhile, sauté onions with salt and pepper in oil until golden brown.
  • Add to lentil mixture and cook until all of the vegetables are done, no more than 10 minutes.
  • Adjust seasonings.
  • Serve with lemon wedges or add some lemon juice to the pot.

For more information: Click here to visit Will Clower’s website

 

Chocolate For Your Blood Pressure

If you’ve ever wondered if your love affair with chocolate is a one-sided relationship, don’t worry. The latest nutritional research has some very good news. Because February is “Heart Month” as well as the month for Valentines Day, we will give you all the reasons why this delicious food is so good for you!

For Lower Blood Pressure 

Chocolate with Heart and Stethescope

We mentioned in a previous post how cocoa consumption encourages the growth of blood vessels into your muscles. It turns out that cocoa also increases blood supply to your heart muscle as well. Add onto this the data showing increases of good cholesterol along with reductions of bad cholesterol, and finally improvement of the health of your arteries themselves. The overall outcome of all these results is lower blood pressure. 

Four meta-analyses of randomized control trials found that ingesting cocoa epicatechins (about 50 grams of 70% cocoa chocolate daily) reduces blood pressure by approximately 4.6 points systolic and 2.1 points for diastolic.

Why Does Chocolate Help?

Outline of a person, highlighting arterial system

 

It is likely because consistent cocoa consumption increases the flexibility of your blood vessels. It makes them more elastic, so they can stretch (and not break) in response to high blood pressure spikes.  

The more consistently it is consumed, the greater the effect. After 3 days, the arterial elasticity was improved by approximately 40%. By day 5, it was up to 65%. After 1 week, it had improved by 70%! This kind of high cocoa infusion is reversible, however. When it was withdrawn for a week, the artery stretchiness starting returning back to baseline. 

The Bottom Line  

From your heart to your head, from your muscles to your metabolism, your love of chocolate is totally returned. Across the board, there are two ways to nurture this mutually beneficial relationship: choose high cocoa chocolates, and consistently have a little every day. Win-win!   

Sun-Dried Tomato Pasta w Vodka Cream Sauce

Hi everyone, this recipe is a staple in our home, and it is so dirt-simple to make that you end up looking like a cooking superstar when it actually takes you no time at all … bonus!! This recipe is published in The Fat Fallacy
Sundried tomato pasta with vodka cream sauce
I borrowed this pasta recipe from my dear friend Debbie, although she’s won’t tell me how to make her incredible, and now famous, chocolate chip cookie recipe. Don’t worry, I’ll wear her down.

Continue reading “Sun-Dried Tomato Pasta w Vodka Cream Sauce”

Chocolate For Your Emotional Health

If you’ve ever wondered if your love affair with chocolate is a one-sided relationship, don’t worry. The latest nutritional research has some very good news.

Because February is “Heart Month” as well as the month for Valentines Day, we will give you all the reasons why this delicious food is so good for you!

Your Brain On Chocolate

Schematic of a man with Chocolate plugged into the Brain

The cocoa bean contains a wide array of psychoactive properties, each of which nudge your neurons in different way.  

  • Chocolate’s theobromine can act synergistically with its own caffeine to create a sense of pleasure.  
  • It also contains phenylethylamine, known as the love drug because it is also released naturally when people fall in love or experience intense pleasure.  
  • In addition to all these other feel-good chemicals, chocolate also contains tryptophan, which can be converted into serotonin. The levels of tryptophan and serotonin are both associated with your emotional state: if they’re low, so are you.  
  • Brain PET scans reveal that chocolate consumption light up the pleasure areas of the brain. This is also related to the chocolate-stimulated release of endorphins.  

This is all very suggestive, because chocolate is associated with all these

Mother and Daughter cooking with chocolate

 neurochemicals linked to positive mood. But the real question is intensely practical and personal. When you eat chocolate, does your mood actually improve? Are real world measures of anxiety changed, and in what direction?  

The answer turns out to be yes and no. While that non-answer isn’t interesting, what is very interesting is the fact that “chocolate brings the happy” under specific conditions. So once you know what those are, you can make sure all those upbeat brain chemicals work for you!  

 

Chocolate As Prevention

Happy Woman on neighborhood street

Here are some basic outcomes data. Eating 40 grams of high cocoa chocolate (about 8 thumb-size pieces, or 1 ounce) every day for 2 weeks can help lower stress levels. How? Consuming this amount of chocolate for this long is actually associated with a decrease in the stress hormone cortisol that floods your blood, can trigger fatty deposits, adrenal exhaustion, and even muscle wasting.  

But does the statistical decrease in cortisol actually translate into you feeling less crappy? Less stressed? Less anxious? It’s one thing to measure a hormone in the context of some research study and show that the cortisol level in your blood stream moves up or down. But the real question is whether eating chocolate results in improved feelings in the long term.  

Senior Couple Jogging HappyAs the continual bearer of good news, let me just tell you that the answer is a big, chocolaty yes. A 2010 study looked at the impact of cocoa polyphenols on two groups of people over an 8-week period. They gave one group 85% cocoa chocolate and the second group something that tasted just the same (it even had the same number of calories).  

Those eating the 85% cocoa chocolate reported a 35% reduction in fatigue, a 37% reduction in anxiety, and a 45% reduction in depression. By comparison, those who ate the very same product without cocoa’s polyphenols reported slight increases in every one of those measures.  

By the way, if you’re wondering how eating the equivalent of 9 thumb-size pieces of 85% cocoa chocolate daily impacted their weight, there was no weight gain at all after 8 weeks of eating this amount. Zero.

 

Mediterranean Celery

The combinations of ingredients in this dish work wonderfully together. This dish makes a nice complement to grilled fish.
You’ll Need

  • 8 stalks celery (about 1 pound)
  • ¼ cup sliced olives of choice
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 Tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 1 ½ teaspoons chopped fresh or ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 small tomato, seeded and chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
Directions
  • Cut celery into 1/4-inch slices and boil 3 to 5 minutes or until crisp-tender.
  • Mix all ingredients together and serve.

 

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Fish in Cilantro Sauce

Fish as a regular part of the diet provides a fabulous balance for healthy heart health.

You’ll Need:

  • 2 pounds red snapper or similar fish
  • 1 small onion sliced
  • 1 garlic clove minced
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • ¼ cup toasted almonds, ground
  • 2 Tablespoons lime juice
  • ½ teaspoon salt (and a pinch more for sprinkling on the fish)
  • 1 dash pepper
  • ½ cup cilantro, chopped

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350
  • Thaw the fish fillets if frozen. When thawed cut into 8 fillets
  • Cook onion and garlic in oil on low-medium heat until tender but not brown.
  • Add the almonds, lime juice, the ½ teaspoon of salt, and pepper.
  • Heat through.
  • In a well greased 13 X 9 X 2-inch baking dish, arrange the fish fillets and sprinkle lightly with salt.
  • Top with the onion mixture.
  • Sprinkle evenly with the cilantro.
  • Bake, covered, for about 35 minutes, or until the fish flakes easily when tested with a fork.

Chocolate For Your Metabolism

If you’ve ever wondered if your love affair with chocolate is a one-sided relationship, don’t worry. The latest nutritional research has some very good news.

Because February is “Heart Month” as well as the month for Valentines Day, we will give you all the reasons why this delicious food is so good for you!

Artful pic of chocolate swirl into the shape of a heart

The consumption of cocoa does an amazing thing. It encourages blood vessels to grow their way into cardiac and skeletal muscle tissue. Once those muscles have more vessels, they also have an influx of oxygen and nutrients that lead to increased energy and metabolism (through increased numbers and sizes of your mitochondria)

How much of an energy boostAccording to this study, cocoa antioxidants alone produce a 30% increase in fatigue resistance and a 30% increase in new blood supply. Even better, the increase in energy that you get from combining it with exercise amounts to a boost of 50% more energy. 

How long will it take for these changes to occur?

Fitness man eating chocolate

It took 2 weeks for experimental animals to see a 30% increase in fatigue resistance. In a separate study, it took 4 weeks to see increased capillaries and mitochondria appear in the muscle tissue. And subjects with type 2 diabetes who were administered 100 milligrams of cocoa epicatechins per day for 3 months showed significant increase in mitochondria. 

So remember that consistency cocoa consumption is key, and chocolate can be your vehicle for that intake.   

Being More Active: Step 3

Roadsign states that Big Journeys Begin with Small StepsAt each new year, gyms fill with the hopeful. People come earnest and determined to really follow through this year with the resolution to get fit, and stay fit.

How do they do? The data don’t look good.

By Valentines Day, a full 80 percent of people have abandoned their oh so well intentioned resolution. Unfortunately, many assume that they are the problem, when in fact it may just be their approach. This year, let’s take a new path for fitness by avoiding the three main causes of Resolution Dissolution.

Mix it upBored woman laying on exercise ball

Boredom is an activity killer. If your activity routine bores you because you’re doing the same thing the same way day after day after day, you will not be able to keep it up. This is not because of a physical issue, but a basic psychological one.

Avoidance behavior in all animals is a fundamental biological phenomenon. It shapes your actions in ways that are not even on the conscious level. If you are very uncomfortable with something (flying, speaking to groups, driving at rush hour, etc) then your mind will construct reasons why you need to do anything else in the world than that thing.

Now map that onto your activity resolution. Once you get bored with it, and are not actually looking forward to it at all, your mind creates all the reasons why you should not do it, and all the reasons why you’ll certainly do it the next time. Just not this time.

Of course this will get repeated next week, until it becomes forgotten altogether.

The solution is to mix it up. If you want to take spinning classes, do that once per week and maybe take dance lessons another time during the week, and walk with your friends at lunch. That way you’re doing many kinds of activities for your body, plus you’ll be less likely to get bored along the way!

 

Chocolate For Your Heart Health

If you’ve ever wondered if your love affair with chocolate is a one-sided relationship, don’t worry. The latest nutritional research has some very good news. Because February is “Heart Month” as well as the month for Valentines Day, we will give you all the reasons why this delicious food is so good for you!

For Improved Heart Health 

cocoa on white background in shape of a heart

It may be surprising to hear that high cocoa chocolate is heart healthy because of its saturated fat content. But it turns out that, like many evil villains, they’re just misunderstood. One-third of the cocoa-derived fats are composed stearic acid, which doesn’t raise your bad cholesterol at all. Moreover, your liver converts it into heart-healthy oleic acid. Another one-third are the healthy monounsaturated fats.  

But whatever the current theory d’jour of health may be, it is still true that the consumption of cocoa fats can in fact raise your good cholesterol (HDL) and lower your bad cholesterol (LDL). Even better, the antioxidants in cocoa also help fight the chronic vascular inflammation that can lead to atherosclerosis. All this may be why researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital found that people who ate more high cocoa chocolate actually did have fewer incidents of heart disease.  

It’s not just isolated research reports either. This meta-analysis of 114,009 

Heart Shape Set Beside Stethescopy

participants showed that the highest levels of high-cocoa chocolate consumption were associated with a 37% reduction in cardiovascular diseaseand a 29% reduction in stroke compared with the lowest levels.  

 

This Australian study argues that eating 100 grams of dark chocolate per day is more cost effective than traditional medication and could save people’s livesHow popular would doctors be if they prescribed dark chocolate? 

The Caveat

Dark Chocolate Chunks with CocoaAnd you’re like, sure but what’s the catch? The catch is that the healthy nature of chocolate comes from its cocoa.  That’s why darker chocolate is better. Think about using your chocolate as a vehicle for the cocoa. 

If you need a rule, strive for chocolates that have 70% cocoa or more. That way you get more of the heart healthy stuff with less of the sugars — a double bonus!