No-flour Cacao brownies

Brownies-Recipe-2-1200

So I have to admit, I am a sucker for chocolate!  Lately, I have become really interested in cacao, and being that it’s a superfood, I am always looking for new recipes that contain this tasty ingredient.  I hesitantly tried these brownies because they just seemed too good to be true.  However, they were delicious!  Dark chocolate lowers beware, these are addictive!

Very Simple Ingredients:

  • 2c organic cacao powder
  • 2c organic coconut sugar
  • 4 organic free range eggs
  • 1c organic coconut oil
  • 2-4 tbsp of coconut or pea protein milk

Very Simple Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350.

1. Mix the dry ingredients well

2. Mix the wet ingredients well

3. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients

You may need to use an electric mixer to mix thoroughly.  At first, this “batter” seems pretty sticky and thick.  You can add a little more milk if that is the case.  Flatten the batter onto a well greased 8X8 inch pan.  Bake for about 15-18 minutes.  Let it cook.

Cut into square and store in the fridge for a tasty treat when you are craving chocolate!

Health Benefits:

Cacao: This is not the same as the copycat, pesticide and processed cocoa!  Do not confuse them!  Normal cocoa powder and chocolate have been chemically processed and roasted, which destroys a large amount of the antioxidants and flavanols (the things that keep you young and healthy) (Ellen, n.d.).  Raw cacao is packed with antioxidants, 40 times more than blueberries, which has the amazing power to be able to absorb free radicals.  Cacao is high in iron (7.3mg per 100g), making it higher in iron than spinach and beef!  It is also full of magnesium, which can optimize energy production for a healthy heart.  Raw cacao is high in calcium, and has more than 300 phytochemicals and nearly four times the antioxidant power of regular dark chocolate, and contains protein, calcium, carotene, thiamin, riboflavin, magnesium, and sulfur.   According to Dr. Mercola. “Cacao can improve heart health, cholesterol, stress levels, and inflammation, to list just a few physical advantages. Fringe benefits cacao releases into the brain include anandamide, endorphins, phenylethylamine, and serotonin, all sparking descriptives like “blissful” and “euphoric.” All this satisfying goodness comes from a frothy mug of hot cocoa or a creamy bar of unadulterated chocolate. It’s no wonder the Spanish called it “black gold.” (Mercola, n.d.)

Coconut sugar: Coconut sugar is a natural sweetener derived from coconuts.  It is high in trace elements such as iron, calcium, potassium, and some short chain fatty acids, polyphenols, antioxidants and inulin (Axe, 2018).  The inulin can stimulate the growth of bifidobacteria in the gut, which can boost the immune system and upregulate oral tolerance through Tregulatory cells.  Bifidobacteria have been known to help restore the good bacteria in the gut that may have been destroyed through chemotherapy, antibiotics and the like (Axe, n.d.).  As a result of inulin, this may be a safer alternative for diabetics or those with blood sugar issues, since inulin may help reduce absorption of glucose (Axe, n.d.)

Organic Eggs: The benefits of organic eggs may be worth the extra cost. They come from chickens that were given 100 percent organic feed, free of any agricultural chemical residues (Kannall, 2017).T he feed given to the chickens cannot come from crops that are genetically modified, treated with pesticides or herbicides, or fertilized with chemical or synthetic products. The chickens also cannot be treated with hormones, antibiotics or other pharmaceuticals.  The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency notes that some of the pesticides used in food production may cause cancer, skin irritations, nervous system disruption or hormonal imbalance in humans. Organic eggs are free from any of these potentially harmful chemical residues (Kannall, 2017).  Omega-3 eggs are typically fed a diet high in omega-3 fatty acids, and therefore lay eggs that are higher in Omega-3 fatty acids than chicken that are only grain fed.  “Omega-3s play a critical role in brain function and growth, reduce inflammation and may prevent chronic diseases such as cancer, heart disease and arthritis” (Kannall, 2017). Eggs from free-range chickens may contain two-thirds more vitamin A, seven times more beta-carotene and three times more vitamin E than conventional eggs (Kannal, 2017). These differences likely come the diet of organic hens that free-range.   An independent study conducted by “Mother Earth News” confirms that free-ranging chickens lay eggs with two times the omega-3s, one-third of the cholesterol and one-fourth of the saturated fat as conventional eggs.  Other health benefits of eggs is that they are a good source of protein, iron, riboflavin, vitamin B-12, phosphorus and selenium.

Coconut oil: Coconut oil is made up of mostly medium chain fatty acids, caprylic acid, lauric acid, and capric acid.  Most of the fats we consume take longer to digest, but MCFAs found in coconut oil provide the perfect source of energy because they only have to go through a three-step process to be turned into fuel (Axe, n.d.). This makes coconut oil easier to digest, not readily stored as fat, can have antimicrobial and antifungal properties, and can be easily converted into energy.  Coconut oil has anti-carcinogenic and anti-inflammatory properties, and it can be protective to your skin and hair.  A study published in the journal Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy found the capric acid and lauric acid in coconut oil made for an effective natural treatment for candida albicans and yeast infections as well!

References:

Axe, J. (n.d.). Is Coconut Sugar Good for You? Retrieved (2018, May 28) from https://draxe.com/coconut-sugar/

Axe, J. (n.d.) 20 Coconut Oil Benefits for Your Brain, Heart, Joints and More.  Retrieved (2018, May 28) from https://draxe.com/coconut-oil-benefits/

Ellen, B. (n.d.) Cacao: 5 Little Known Benefits of This Amazonian Superfood. Retrieved (2018, May 28) from https://begoodorganics.com/blogs/subscriber-only-recipes/7991527-cacao-5-little-known-benefits-of-this-amazonian-superfood

Food Facts. (n.d.). What is Cacao Good For?  Retrieved (2018, May 28) from https://foodfacts.mercola.com/cacao.html

Kannall, E. (2017, October 3). Benefits of Organic Eggs. Retrieved (2018, May 28) from https://www.livestrong.com/article/67236-benefits-organic-eggs/

 

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Why we love Matcha Tea!

teavana.matcha

We love matcha tea! Here is a summary why we love it so much and drink it often.

The health benefits of green tea consumption have been reported to include: cancer inhibition, allergy relief effects, cognitive dysfunction, and preventive effects on metabolic syndrome (Fujioka et al., 2016).  “In a large epidemiological study, which was based on a follow-up investigation of 82,369 Japanese people for 13 years, green tea consumption also showed positive effects such as lowering the risk of cardiovascular diseases and stroke” (Fujioka et al., 2016).  Dietary polyphenols found in green have been identified as potent antioxidants. In fact, green tea polyphenols have been shown to modulate different categories of antioxidant biomarkers, such as vitamins, trace elements, and enzyme systems (Vogt & Richie, 2007).  “Administration of epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), the most abundant polyphenol in green tea, was shown to restore chemically reduced tissue levels of antioxidant vitamins A, C and E in rats” (Vogt & Richie, 2007).

Interestingly, green tea polyphenols have been shown to upregulate the endogenous synthesis of intracellular glutathione (GSH) and glutathione peroxidase, while attenuating mitochondrial oxidative stress (Basu et al., 2013). Upregulation of glutathione is a very important, since its deficiency has been implicated in aging, cardiovascular disease and cancer(Vogt & Richie, 2007).  The study by Vogt & Richie observed an increase in plasma antioxidant capacity in both green tea beverage and extract groups at 8 weeks, which can be an appropriate target for people with metabolic syndrome since the scenario presents with elevated systemic oxidative stress and impaired antioxidant status.

There are two prominent methods for serving green tea. The general serving method consists of steeping the leaves in hot water and filtering them through a tea strainer. In contrast, in traditional Japanese tea ceremony, fine powdered green tea leaves (matcha) are foamed with a tea whisk in hot water. I have switched to matcha tea and also recommend it often, as I found drinking the 3-5 cups of green tea to obtain the benefits did not fit into my schedule.  I also found matcha more enjobale!  The consistency is very creamy with an interesting flavor.  I also find the ceremony of mixing it very enjoyable.

Farmers cultivate matcha by covering their tea plants 20–30 days before harvest to avoid direct sunlight. This increases chlorophyll production, boosting the amino acid content and giving the plant a darker green color.  Once the tea leaves are harvested, the stems and veins are removed and the leaves are ground up into a fine powder known as matcha.

Matcha also seems to have more potent health benefits than its steeped counterpart. Here are some of the benefits I found in research:

  1. Reactive oxygen species-Powder teas showed the tendency of higher inhibitory effect on ROS than the same amount of leaf teas (Fujioka et al., 2016). The powdering process increased the EGCG extraction by more than 3 times, which likely contributes to the higher antioxidant activity.
  2. More catechins- Matcha also has more catechins and antioxidants, as much as 137 times greater than steeped green tea (Healthline, n.d.).
  3. Liver protection-Matcha can significantly reduce liver enzymes as observed in studies with people with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.
  4. Cognitive performance-some research indicates that match can elevate cognitive performance. Researchers found that matcha caused improvements in attention, reaction time and memory, compared to the placebo (Healthline, n.d.). This can be attributed to some of the caffeine content, but also l-theanine that is found in matcha tea, which can promote alertness and mitigate the stimulatory effects of the caffeine.  I have found the “buzz” from matcha to give me an alert and calm feeling at the same time…it’s actually quite amazing.
  5. Cancer prevention-The higher content of EGCG can have potent anti-cancer properties, as seen in vitro studies using prostate, skin, liver and lung cancer cells (Healthline, n.d.).
  6. Improve lipid status-Some studies show that matcha can reduce LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, and also prevent the oxidation of LDL as well. This associates matcha tea with a reduce risk of heart disease and stroke.
  7. Weight loss-The constituents of green tea are associated with aiding in weight loss. Since matcha comes from the same plant as green tea and has comparable nutrient profile, it can be inferred that matcha would also aid in weight loss.

 

As a side note, matcha can have heavy metals and pesticides, so it is best to use organic and a brand that removes most of the contaminants. I did a bit of research and found that Teavana brand was a good brand and this is the brand we use.  Matcha is great as a latte.  You can use flax milk and sweeten with raw honey to make this into an enjoyable, health boosting treat!

References

Basu, A., Betts, N. M., Mulugeta, A., Tong, C., Newman, E., & Lyons, T. J. (2013). Green tea supplementation increases glutathione and plasma antioxidant capacity in adults with the metabolic syndrome. Nutr Res, 33(3), 180-187. doi:10.1016/j.nutres.2012.12.010

Fujioka, K., Iwamoto, T., Shima, H., Tomaru, K., Saito, H., Ohtsuka, M., . . . Manome, Y. (2016). The Powdering Process with a Set of Ceramic Mills for Green Tea Promoted Catechin Extraction and the ROS Inhibition Effect. Molecules, 21(4), 474. doi:10.3390/molecules21040474

Healthline (n.d.). 7 Evidence –Based Benefits of Matcha Tea. Retrieved (2018, February 22) from https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/7-benefits-of-matcha-tea

 

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Ginger and Tumeric Shot

golden.milk

I was at Earth Fare the other day and I tried a ginger shot.  Within 15 minutes, any feelings of inflammation subsided.  The amazing ginger and its anti-inflammatory effects!  Immediately I came home and invented this recipe. Here is what you need to make it happen:

Anti-inflammatory Ginger Tumeric Shot

Ingredients: blend together in a blender or Vitamix and juice it.

  • 1 large piece of peeled ginger, about 2-4 inches long (experiment with different amounts of this please!)
  • 1/2c coconut milk or any non-dairy milk of your choice
  • 1 tbsp Golden Milk blend (see link below)
  • 1 tsp coconut oil or any oil (improves absorption)

I used the following product in mine and it was delicious!

Check out the link below!

http://amzn.to/2zomULW

Benefits of Ingredients:

1. Ginger- it is a rhizome plant that has been used in medicine for 4700 years!  IT is a potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent which can improve CVD, indigestion, immune system, respiratory function, and bacterial infections.  “The Journal of Microbiology and Antimicrobials published a study in 2011 that tested just how effective ginger is in enhancing immune function. Comparing the ability of ginger to kill Staphylococcus aureus and Streptococcus pyogenes with conventional antibiotics, Nigerian researchers discovered that the natural solution won every time!” (Axe, n.d.)

2. Tumeric– comes from the cucuma longa plant which grows in India and Southeast Asia.  It has powerful anti-inflammatory, anti-depressant, pain killing, cholesterol lowering, blood sugar lowering properties.  Many studies indicate that tumeric is extremely effective to arthritis and other pain related conditions.  It is best taken with black pepper. According to a study, published in Planta Medica, taking turmeric in combination with black pepper, which contains piperine, improves turmeric absorbability throughout the entire body. They added 20mg of piperine to 2,000mg turmeric, and it increased the bioavailability of turmeric 154 percent! (Axe, n.d.)

3. Coconut- Medium chain fatty acid known for its caprylic acid, lauric acid and capric acid. It is a potent anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial as it is able to penetrate the lipid walls of bacteria and can kill H. pylori as well.  It is a potent anti-fungal (thanks to lauric acid found in monolaurin) and can reduce candida and viruses.  Coconut oil can also improve your energy and metabolism and can be used as fuel.  Great for digestion and improves ulcerative colitis.  If coconut oil is taken at the same time as your omega 3 supplement,  it can make them twice as effective, as they are readily available to be digested and used by the body.

This stuff is great for your gut, and can improve bacteria and gut health by destroying bad bacteria and candida together!  Dazzling duo!!!

Interesting notes in regards to UTI :

Coconut oil has been known to clear up and heal urinary tract infection and kidney infections. The MCFAs in the oil work as a natural antibiotic by disrupting the lipid coating on bacteria and killing them. Research also shows that coconut oil directly protects the liver from damage.(Axe, n.d.) Coconut water also helps hydrate and support the healing process. Doctors have even injected coconut water to clear up kidney stones. Coconut is a powerful superfood, which is evident given all these tremendous coconut oil benefits.

There are too many benefits to list, such as weight loss and periodontal health, so here is a link for you to check out yourself.  I have been using Monolaurin myself with great success all around and even lost a few pounds!

https://draxe.com/coconut-oil-benefits/

 

References

Axe,John. (n.d.)  12 Medicinal Benefits of Ginger.  Retrieved from https://draxe.com/10-medicinal-ginger-health-benefits/

Axe, John. (n.d.) 12 Tumeric Benefits: Superior to Medications?  Retrieved from https://draxe.com/turmeric-benefits/

Axe, John (n.d.) 20 Coconut Oil Benefits and Side Effects (#5 is Life Saving).  Retrieved from https://draxe.com/coconut-oil-benefits/

 

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Delicious Hummus Recipe

hummus_1

Adapted from Inspired Taste

You Will Need

  • 1 (15-ounce) can Organic chickpeas
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) fresh lemon juice (1 large lemon)
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) well-stirred organic tahini
  • 2 large raw garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • Celtic Sea Salt to taste
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons (30 to 45 ml) water
  • Dash ground paprika, for serving

Instructions:

1. In the bowl of a food processor, combine the tahini and lemon juice and process for 1 minute, scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl then process for 30 seconds more. This extra time helps “whip” or “cream” the tahini, making the hummus smooth and creamy.

 

2. Add the olive oil, minced garlic, cumin, and a 1/2 teaspoon of salt to the whipped tahini and lemon juice. Process for 30 seconds, scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl then process another 30 seconds or until well blended.

3. Open, drain, and rinse the chickpeas. For creamy hummus, remove the skins! Add half of the chickpeas to the food processor and process for 1 minute. Scrape sides and bottom of the bowl, then add remaining chickpeas and process until thick and quite smooth; 1 to 2 minutes.

4. Taste for salt and adjust as needed. Serve hummus with a drizzle of olive oil and dash of paprika. Store homemade hummus in an airtight container and refrigerate up to one week.

 

Why you MUST include this in your healthy diet:

  1. Chick peas-also known as garbanzo beans.  High in fiber, but the fiber it contans produce the short chain fatty acids that are needed for a health microflora in your gut!  That means they provide fuel to your intestinal wall.  Also high in molybdenum, manganese, folate, copper, phosphorus, protein, iron and zinc!
  2. Lemon juice-high in vitamin C and becomes alkaline in your body.  Also can stimulate digestion
  3. Tahini-which is really just sesame butter. Rich in phosphorus, lecithin, magensium, potassium and iron.  It also contains methionine which is important for liver detoxification, high in B vitamins and vitamin E.  IT also is a good source of complete protein and good unsaturated fats (needed for integrity of cell membrane)
  4. Garlic-the benefits are most when eaten raw after they have been chopped.  Or left out for 10 minutes before cooked. The key is to chop them!  Garlic is high in manganese, B6, Vit C, selenium and fiber.  Garlic also has potent antimicrobial, anti-viral, and anti-inflammatory properties.  The active compounds can also reduce blood pressure, lowers LDL cholesterol, and help enhance liver detox pathways.
  5. Extra Virgin Olive oil-high in antioxidants, olive oil contains oleic acid, which has strong antimicrobial an anti-inflammatory properties.  It can also help lower blood pressure and does not contribute to weight gain, and it can reduce oxidative damage by free radicals
  6. Celtic Sea salt-rich in trace minerals, can regulate fluid balance, and provides the body with essential electrolytes for regulating cellular function.  Contains magnesium, calcium and potassium…cooking with Sea salt is the wise thing to do!  IT can also help increase HCL production in your stomach for proper digestion
  7. Cumin-promotes digestion, rich source of iron, contains flavanoid, alkaloids and phenols that are linked to health. Can also improve cholesterol, may promote weight loss and has anti-inflammatory properties

References

Leech, Joe. (2017, June 4). 11 Proven Benefits of Olive oil. Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/11-proven-benefits-of-olive-oil#section9

Leech, Joe. (2017, January 19).  11 Proven Benefits of Garlic. Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/11-proven-benefits-of-olive-oil#section9

Thorpe, Matthew.  (2017, March 23).  9 Benefits of Cumin. Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/9-benefits-of-cumin#section10

Uren, Mia. (2012, December 3).  10 reasons to eat Tahini. Retrieved from https://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-6997/10-Reasons-to-Eat-Tahini.html

 

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Cauliflower Tabbouleh

Cauliflower-Tabbouleh-url

Adapted from Maryland University of Integrative Health

Ingredients:

o 1  ½  pounds cauliflower, trimmed and cut into 1-inch florets

o 6 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice ( I used Lime!)

o 6 Tbsp. EVOO

o ½ tsp. ground turmeric

o ¼ tsp. ground coriander

o ¼ tsp. ground cumin

o 1/8 tsp. ground cinnamon

o Sea salt

o ¼ tsp. freshly ground pepper

o 1 cup tightly packed coarsely chopped parsley

o ½  cup coarsely chopped tightly packed mint

o 1  medium cucumber, peeled, seeded, and diced o 12 cherry tomatoes, halved  (I skipped this due to food sensitivity)

Method of preparation:

  1. Place the cauliflower florets in a steamer basket and steam until just tender-crisp, 5 to 6 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly.
  2. Place the cooked cauliflower in the bowl of a food processor and pulse about 15 times, until the texture is fine, with pieces about the size of rice grains.
  3. In a large bowl whisk together lemon juice, olive oil, turmeric, coriander, cumin, cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and pepper. Add the cauliflower and toss well to coat. Taste, and adjust with a couple of pinches of salt if needed.
  4. When the cauliflower has completely cooled, fold in the parsley, mint, cucumber, and tomatoes. Serve at room temperature.

Notes: Cauliflower just like walnuts, visually reminds us of the brain. Nutritionally is a brain-boosting superstar, filled with B vitamins, omega-3s, phosphorus, and manganese. It helps with the liver detoxification; happy liver makes a happy brain. Cauliflower comes also in deep purple higher in anthocyanins brain boosting antioxidants and orange color has more beta carotene.

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Dark Chocolate Truffles

truffle

Ingredients:

o 2 ounces Lilly’s sugar free chocolate chips

o 1/4 cup water-boiling

o 1/2 cup walnuts

o 1 Tbsp. unsweetened Cacao powder

o 2 Tbsp. unsweetened Cacao nibs

o 1/2 cup pitted and halved Medjool dates

o 1 tsp. vanilla extract

o Sea salt

o 2 Tbsp. shredded coconut

o ¼ tsp. curry powder

 

Method of preparation:

  1. Stir the boiling water into the chopped chocolate and let it stand for 30 seconds. Using a small whisk, stir until the chocolate is completely melted and glossy.
  2. Coarsely grind the walnuts in a food processor, and then add the cocoa powder, dates, vanilla, and 1/8 teaspoon of salt, and process for a minute. Then add the chocolate mixture and process until smooth, another minute. Remove from food processor and store in a bowl. Cover and chill for approximately 1-2 hours, until firm.
  3. On a plate, mix the coconut, curry powder, and a pinch of salt. Scoop up approximately 2 teaspoons of the chilled chocolate mixture and roll it into a smooth ball between your palms, then roll it in the curried coconuts to coat. Repeat with the remaining mixture, then place the truffles in an airtight container and chill thoroughly before serving.

Studies suggest walnuts may boost memory, while chocolate, as we all know, is the ultimate mood boosting agent. One bite of this dessert and you’d be hard-pressed to feel any stress.
Cacao is high in polyphenols which promotes the growth of beneficial gut flora to maintain a healthy gut!

Adapted from R. Katz: The Healthy Mind Cookbook

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GUT HEALTHY Banana Muffins

banana.muffin.JPG

I improved the recipe to make it even more gut healthy!

Ingredients:

  • 100g coconut flour
  • 4 bananas
  • 1c flax seed meal
  • 1 tbsp manuka or raw honey
  • 1 omega-3 pasture raised egg
  • 2 tbsp goat milk or organic whole  milk yogurt
  • 1/4c unsweetened applesauce (opt)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4c goat milk
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil

Mix the wet ingredients in a blender.  Mix the dry ingredients in a bowl.  Mix the wet ingredients in the dry ingredients using a hand or electric mixer.  Spray muffin tins with olive oil spray ( I use a misto spray)   Spoon the batter into the muffin tins until 3/4 full.  Cook at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes.  Cool. Enjoy!

PS: even my picky son loved these!

 

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