Cilantro: Love It or Hate It?

cilantro

This weekend I was helping teach a cooking class for a local organization that encourages people to grow, buy, and cook real whole foods to prevent chronic illness. One of the ingredients we were using in the salsa and guacamole we were making was cilantro. It turns out that cilantro is one of those foods that people either love or hate.

We had one person who really despised cilantro (just like my mother) and one with a sensitivity to cilantro, so we also made a small batch of cilantro-free guacamole. I, on the other hand, love it. I love the way it smells and I often mix it with my salad greens. I don’t even bother to chop it before putting it in my salad, I just toss in the whole thing. Yum!

Cilantro (and parsley) contains many cancer-fighting antioxidants as well as antibacterial and antifungal properties.¹ It is also believed to help the body detoxify, aid in digestion, and help stabilize blood sugar levels.

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7 Ways to Use Dandelions in Your Diet

dandelionspost

Did you know that Weed Appreciation Day is coming up? No? I’m not surprised. ;) Weed Appreciation Day is coming up on Monday, March 28th, and in recognition, I’d like to share my favorite weed: the Dandelion.

Besides being the most hated weed found in lawns across the United States, dandelions pack quite a bit of nutritional value.

Research suggest that dandelions help reduce inflammation in the liver and gallbladder. Their leaves, which are a natural source of potassium, have traditionally been used to remove excess water and toxins from the body.

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Lemon and Lime Infused Water

Lemon Lime Water

As a child, I remember taking a sip of cola and feeling my throat and nose burn from the fizzy, acidic concoction. The only soda I could get down the hatch was lemon-lime flavored beverages (or the ever rare peach soda).

For many Americans, however, soda is their beverage of choice. I have several friends and family members who used to consume almost no water while drinking several cans of cola each day.

Unfortunately, research has shown us that consumption of sugary beverages is linked to a number of chronic conditions, most notably type 2 diabetes, in addition to obesity, dental caries, and hypertension.¹

Instead of reaching for a can of soda, go for a healthy glass of lemon and lime infused water.

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Kids and Kale Chips

A couple of weeks ago Food Network posted an article to their Facebook page called, “8 Kids’ Foods That Sound Healthy ButKalechips Aren’t.” As the title suggests, the list consisted of processed and prepackaged foods that aren’t healthful despite being marketed that way. Boy did it cause an uproar! Many of their posts get thousands of likes and some even get 100+ comments, but this post got nearly 6,000 likes and 503 comments. The comments ranged from “Of course these aren’t healthy” to “Oh, no! I just fed these to my kid.” However, there was a huge number of negative comments condemning Food Network for pushing the “healthy foods agenda,” judging parents, and being out of touch with what kids will really eat.

Many people chimed in to ask “What are you supposed to feed your kid?” as if there aren’t any alternatives to prepackaged foods. I get it though. Our culture is so conditioned to eat manufactured food produced by big food companies that it is almost unimaginable to go without them or even suggest that they might not be good for us. One comment stated, “Oooooo spare me. The only thing that makes kids unhealthy and obese is the electronics they spend all day glued to.” Sure, a sedentary lifestyle contributes to the development of chronic illnesses, but you cannot discount the impact of diet. In fact, when it comes to maintaining a healthy weight, a healthful and nutritious diet actually trumps exercise.

A large number of parents took the time to write that their children just won’t eat fresh fruits and vegetables. And kale chips? Kale chips were definitely out of the question! Many refused to “starve” their children so they give in and let their children have their favorite unhealthy snack foods.

Here’s the truth, not every kid is going to eat kale chips, but they might if given the chance. It may take more than one exposure before they develop a taste for a particular food. Even as an adult, I used to gag whenever I ate a sweet potato, now I love sweet potatoes and yams. When you begin to eat more real food, your palate adjusts and you begin to crave more real food.

The more you eat processed foods, the more you want processed foods. In fact, processed foods are created to be highly palatable. They are full of salt, sugar, and fat–which we love! They are actually quite addictive, which is one of the reasons why the whole “everything in moderation” argument doesn’t always work. It is no accident that the Pringles tag line is, “Once you pop, you can’t stop” and why Lays says, “betcha can’t eat just one.”

Here’s the simplest solution, if you don’t buy them in the first place, you remove the temptation to over-indulge and your kids know that they aren’t getting those foods no matter how much they protest because there aren’t any to get. This removes the struggle.

On a side note, I’ll also add that when you’re managing a potato allergy and celiac/gluten sensitivities, you quickly learn that potato chips, crackers, and even “veggie” chips aren’t going to be players in your diet. Kids will not go hungry if they can’t get their hands on the most popular snack foods.

My oldest daughter is in the “won’t touch a kale chip” camp but she loves fruit and she knows she is not going to get certain processed foods no matter how many times she asks. The result: she rarely asks for junk and eats mostly real whole foods. My other two daughters like kale chips. My youngest daughter actually loves them! She even sneaks them when I’m not looking.KalechipsRd

If you want your kids to eat better, feed them better and don’t give into their demands for junk. It really is that simple. It’s okay to have treats occasionally, but do make sure the majority of their diet comes from real whole foods that are produced from the earth, not a factory. And if you decide you do want to experiment with kale chips, they are about the easiest thing you can make.

Here’s all you need to make kale chips:

1 bunch of kale

2 tbsp of olive oil or coconut oil

sea salt

garlic powder

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. Rinse the kale. Pull the kale leaves from the stems and place in a large bowl. Drizzle with the olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt and garlic powder to taste. Mix with your hands to make sure the kale is evenly covered, then place on a cookie sheet and bake for 10 to 15 minutes or until the kale is crispy. Enjoy!

I’d love to hear your thoughts and how you incorporate healthy snacks into your diet. Feel free to leave a comment below.

Hard-Core Blueberry Smoothie

I don’t drink sports drinks or much of anything besides water. However, I do occasionally enjoy a nice refreshing smoothie from time to time.hardcoreblueberrysmoothie One of my favorite drinks is my Hard-Core Blueberry Smoothie. I call it “hard-core” because I usually drink it either prior to my strength-training sessions or between strength-training and cardio. I also call it hard-core because, as you’ll see below, one of the ingredients is a pineapple core (Aren’t I so clever?). ;-)

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup Blueberries (organic)
  • 1 cup Dandelion Greens (organic)
  • 1 cup Ice (approx. 6 ice cubes)
  • ½ cup Water
  • 2 thin slices Ginger (approx. 2 grams)
  • 1 Pineapple core (optional, if you’re sensitive to citrus)

Preparation:

  1. Place all of your ingredients in your blender (I use a Vitamix) and secure the lid.
  2. Select variable 1.
  3. Turn on the blender and quickly increase speed to 10.
  4. Blend on high for about 30 to 45 seconds, or until you’ve reached your desired consistency.

(Yields 2 cups or 500 ml)

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Two of My Favorite Things Just Had the Sweetest Baby!

I’m a bit of weirdo in that I eat Kale and Brussels Sprouts like other people pop potato chips. I absolutely love them! So, imagine, if you will, my

Kale Sprouts

reaction when I stumbled upon these little gems called, “Kale Sprouts.”

When I first saw them in the produce section of my local Whole Foods, I thought they were teeny, tiny, little miniature heads of Kale. As I leaned in for a closer inspection, I noticed the label, which read, “The New Superfood! Powerful source of antioxidants, vitamins & iron. The perfect fusion of Brussels Sprouts & Kale.”

My next thought was, “Oh no! What have they done to my Brussels Sprouts and Kale? Is this some kind of GMO Frankenfood?”

Curious, but still afraid to eat them (hey, GMO’s are scary), I scooped up a bag and added them to my shopping cart. Once I got home, I decided to call the company that distributes this new curiosity in my region, 4EARTH FARMS.  Kale Sprouts were just released in my area in March 2014. If you haven’t seen them in your neck of the woods, yet, don’t worry, they are probably on their way. It turns out that Kale Sprouts are a natural hybrid between Russian Red Kale and Brussels Sprouts. The small sprouts look like Kale but grow on a stalk like Brussels Sprouts. Very cool, huh?

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