Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Creative Ways To Use Dates

Growing up, I spent my summers in Israel, where dates were part of the daily diet. These days, I’m pleasantly surprised to see that this dried fruit has become mainstream in the States. I spoke with Colleen Sundlie, founder of The Date Lady, to ask for her tips for getting creative with this versatile, nutrient-packed fruit.

The History

This naturally dehydrated fruit goes back over 5,000 years, and is native to the Middle East. These babies require a hot, dry climate, and are grown in the Middle East, Africa, along with California and Arizona. You may be familiar with the Medjool variety, but there are numerous other varieties including Dayri, Halawy, Thoory, and Zahidi which may be found in specialty food markets.  Most varieties are about 1-2 inches long and have an oval shape with a single oblong seed inside. The skin is paper thin, while the flesh has a sweet taste.

Dates are green when unripe, and turn yellow, golden brown, black, or deep red when ripe. The sweet fruits are typically picked and ripened off the tree before drying. You can find pitted and un-pitted dates at the market.

The Nutrition Lowdown

One date contains 66 calories, 18 grams of carbs, 16 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of fiber. One date also contains small amounts of a multitude of good-for-you nutrients like B-vitamins, calcium, magnesium, and potassium. Dates are free of fat and cholesterol.

Dates also contain powerful antioxidants, including anthocyanins, carotenoids, and polyphenols. Eating a diet high in antioxidants has been associated with a reduced risk of diabetes, cancer, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s disease.  The soluble fiber found in dates can help lower the risk of high blood pressure and diabetes. A 2014 study published in the Journal of Nutritional Science found that dates may also help maintain bowel health and reduce the risk of colorectal cancer.

Getting Creative with Dates

So what have dates become so popular lately? “Dates are the perfect natural sweetener,” explains Sundlie. “They add deep complexity to the flavor profile, not to mention nutrition.” With the 2015 dietary guidelines capping added sugar at 10% of total calories, many folks are turning to natural sweeteners like dates to add flavor and depth to dishes. “People are just now really starting to catch on to the fact that dates have that deep, caramel complexity and amazing cooking and baking application opportunities. They are no longer getting confused with figs and prunes.”

The market has also gone beyond just dates. You can now find date syrup, date sugar, balsamic date vinegar, and chocolate date spread. All these products can help add sweetness to recipes using dates.

Here are a few ways you can get creative with dates in the kitchen:

  1. Bake them: Add chopped dates to loaves, cookies, and muffins.

Recipe to try: Healthy Oatmeal, Date, and Chocolate Chunk Cookies

  1. Stuff them: Stuff pitted dates with almonds or cream cheese for an easy appetizer

Recipe to try: Stuffed Sweet Dates

  1. Roll them: Pulse in the food processor and mix with nuts and coconut flakes, or chia seeds to make protein-packed balls or bites.

Recipe to try: Honey-Almond Date Balls

  1. Blend then: Instead of sweetener, add dates for natural sweetness in smoothies

Recipe to try: Banana-Coconut Pudding Smoothie

  1. Mix into dressing: Try Sundlie’s own recipe (below) for salad dressing using date syrup.

Salad Dressing in a Snap (pictured above)
Serves: 6

1/4 cup date syrup
1/4 cup olive oil
1/8 cup balsamic vinegar
1/8 cup apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon tarragon
1 teaspoon sumac

1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon red pepper

In a small bowl, whisk ingredients together and serve. Yield: ¾ cup.

Nutrition Information (per 2 tablespoon serving): Calories 121; Total Fat 9 grams; Saturated Fat 1 grams; Protein 0 grams; Total Carbohydrate 10 grams; Fiber 0 grams; Sugar: 0 grams; Cholesterol 0 milligrams; Sodium 7 milligrams

Recipe courtesy of Colleen Sundlie.

 

Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CDN, is a registered dietitian and consultant who specializes in food safety and culinary nutrition. She is the author of The Greek Yogurt Kitchen: More Than 130 Delicious, Healthy Recipes for Every Meal of the Day.

*This article was written and/or reviewed by an independent registered dietitian nutritionist.



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How to Buy (and Appreciate) Eggs

Inline_Egg_BuyingTime and again I find myself on the topic of eggs. I’m a fan really. In fact, I had them for breakfast just this morning (as most mornings).

They’re one of nature’s true superfoods after all—pre-packaged and ready to enjoy however you see fit. The healthy fats, proteins, vitamins and minerals contained within simply can’t be ignored, regardless of all those misguided cholesterol-haters out there.

Back in 2008, I provided a brief look into deconstructing egg carton labelling. That simple guide to egg purchasing has gotten a fair amount of attention and shares over the years, so I’m revisiting the subject to update and elaborate where it makes sense. I don’t see eggs ever losing their place in paleo/Primal eating, and I know others share my enthusiasm.

Eggs: an Ultimate Primal Food Source

Every Primal mind knows that eggs are a great source of protein, healthy fats, and various vitamins and minerals. Vast amounts of choline, bucketloads of selenium, rare food-form vitamin D—that sort of thing. That’s old news, but useful info nonetheless. Since writing that original post almost nine years ago, however, there’s been a plethora of nutritional discoveries, some I’ve mentioned before and some not.

For starters, getting a daily fix of egg may further lower your already-slim chances of developing diabetes. In one of the first population-based studies of egg consumption vs. health, over 2000 men between the ages of 42 and 60 were assessed over almost 2 decades. The study found that men who ate 4 eggs a week had a 37% lower risk of type 2 diabetes than those who ate a measly 1 egg per week.

A study done back in 2011 showed that in addition to all their nutritious proteins, fats and vitamins, eggs also contain the two amino acids tryptophan and tyrosine. Two compounds that just so happen to have strong antioxidant properties. Unsurprisingly, researchers found that all the antioxidant goodness was holed up in the yolks, and that cooking the yolk reduced the antioxidant load by half…at which point they’re still as rich in antioxidants as an apple. Not bad at all. (If you like your eggs cooked, there are ways to minimize the oxidation in the yolk.)

Eggs also have a way of making a good thing better. A recent Purdue University study found that the lipids contained in eggs can improve absorption of carotenoids from vegetables. Sixteen participants were given a raw mixed-vegetable salad with no eggs, one and a half eggs, and three eggs. The absorption of carotenoids from the salad greens was almost 4 times higher in the 3 egg salad than the salad that had no eggs. Turns out that nicoise salad they always have at your local cafe cabinet is worth a stab after all. One thing to keep in mind, however…it’s really the lipids contained in the yolk that’s extracting all that nutrient magic, rather than the egg whites. Sure, other healthy fat sources (e.g. quality oils and dressings) serve the same purpose, but there’s nothing like egg in a Big A$$ salad if you ask me.

A similar study discovered that adding three whole eggs to salads increased vitamin E absorption by between 4 and 7 times. Considering vitamin E is the second most under-consumed nutrient in the average American diet, it’s nothing to minimize.

And those infamous egg critiques we all grew up hearing? Yeah, dead in the water long ago. A study published this year involving 2500 subjects showed that eating an egg a day is not associated with an elevated risk of dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, or any other form of memory disorder. Little surprise there.

By the same token, research continues to prove that there’s no link between consuming the cholesterol in eggs and coronary heart disease—even in those folks “predisposed” towards cardiovascular complications.

What’s That Carton Label Really Telling You?

Eggs can be a nutritional powerhouse, particularly when they come from quality sources. The problem is, it’s not always obvious what “quality” even means in the mysterious world of marketing. Cage free, free range, organic, all-natural, pastured, omega-3…is it all just commercial gibberish? The look of the eggs inside the carton won’t be of help either—they all just look like eggs.

To get the most nutrition for your money and to know the sourcing conditions of what you’re investing in, a few pointers are helpful. To recap…

Cage-free

Cage-free eggs might imply that the hens that lay them enjoy some form of freedom, but don’t be fooled. Legally, there’s very little meaning behind this label, beyond the emphasis that cage-free hens are permitted to move around outside of an individual cage. In most cases, this simply means they’ve traded a small cage for a much larger one, also known as a “henhouse”. These houses are typically packed to the walls with chickens, to the point where they’re often just as cramped as they would be inside a cage. They can technically engage in social behaviors with other hens, but this usually just means they peck at each other in their fight to get access to food and as a result of the unnatural stress of their close confines. The result is that many have their beaks partially snipped in the first few days of their life. Not cool.

Nutrition-wise, cage-free eggs are possibly a little more nutritious than the average caged chicken egg, but only just. Their feed might be a little better, and they can at least move around a little, but they can’t roam, bathe in the sunshine, or eat nutritious food. They’re also pumped with antibiotics and steroids – some of which can pass from the chicken to the egg.

Free-range

Technically another step up in the egg nutrition pecking order, but the meaning of this term varies considerably. Government regulations remain surprisingly lax on the definition of “free range”, and generally only require that poultry farmers allow their hens some form of access to the outdoors. While there are those farmers that take this meaning literally, most opt for the cheapest and easiest available option – a tiny chicken-sized door in a corner of the shed. Sure, those chickens technically have the option to go outside, but most either can’t or choose not to anyway. To truly know just how “free range” those eggs are, you need to do your own brand-specific investigations.

Free-run

Arguably a step back down in the egg nutrition department, these eggs are essentially just from cage free hens. They don’t have access to the outdoors but can theoretically move around freely and are probably still healthier than caged hens.

Omega-3 Fortified

These eggs come from hens that are fed higher levels of flaxseed, linseed or omega-3 supplements. It’s a good thing. One study showed that omega-3 fortified eggs had five times the omega-3 content of a conventional egg and nearly 40% lower omega-6 content. Keep in mind most of that is ALA-based.

Considering the average Primal diet contains plenty of natural omega-3 sources, I wouldn’t be relying on these eggs for your daily quota. If the cost difference is substantial where you shop, you might be better putting that money toward some quality fish or fish oil.

Organic

With the organic certification comes a fair bit of oversight, including a ban on GMO feed, antibiotics, free access to the outdoors, and of course completely organic feed (grains). And that organic feed might be offering you more than you think, considering research into egg feed over the years has found everything from organic arsenic to banned antibiotics to residues of acetaminophen, diphenhydramine (active ingredient in Benadryl) to fluoxetine (the active ingredient in Prozac). This isn’t to say every conventional feed has any or all of these, but personally I prefer having a better idea of what’s not in the feed.

An organic label doesn’t guarantee humane conditions. In certain areas, displaying the organic label could mean providing perches and dust-bathing areas. On the other hand, debeaking might be part of an organic farm practice.

Certified Humane

While chickens aren’t kept in battery cages, they may not be necessarily outdoors. Nonetheless, living conditions won’t be as crowded as a conventional setting because of audited density standards. There’s also no guarantee for organic feed.

I’ve skipped over a number of other egg marketing terminologies, including “all-natural,” “United Egg-Producers Certified,” “vegetarian fed” (no bugs or grubs allowed), and “farm-fresh.” File these under meaningless or irrelevant.

There’s No Substitute for Pasture-Raised.

Pastured eggs are, quite literally, the cream of the crop. Since my last post nearly a decade ago, there’s more research and availability. Pastured hens are raised on farms that allow them to roam freely to their hearts’ content, pecking at bugs, plants, shoes, dogs – whatever takes their fancy. They receive ample sunshine, and aren’t injected with hormones, antibiotics, or steroids. Life is good for the pastured hen, and they pass this down into your pastured eggs.

But don’t just take my word for it. A Pennsylvanian study from a few years back found that the nutrients in pastured eggs far surpassed anything found in “commercially-raised” eggs. According to the lead investigator, “eggs from pastured hens eggs had twice as much vitamin E and long-chain omega-3 fats, more than double the total omega-3 fatty acids, and less than half the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids.” Throw in higher vitamin A concentrations, and you’ve got yourself a no-brainer when it comes to forking out a few extra coins for eggs of the pastured variety.

Various investigations conducted by the American Pastured Poultry Producers Association (APPPA) back up these findings. In one of their analyses, poultry extraordinaire Barb Groski grabbed a bunch of egg and broiler samples from pastured and unpastured chickens and sent them away for lab analysis. The pastured eggs contained 40% more vitamin A, 34% less cholesterol (not that we were worried), and four times as many omega-3s. The pastured meat displayed similar nutritional superiority. A couple of Portuguese studies found much the same, with considerably more omega-3s in the pastured hens.

Don’t have access to locally raised/pastured eggs? Vital Farms is doing a stellar job of partnering with small farms across the country to make good eggs more accessible. And not just at Whole Foods: I’ve seen them at Target, Ralph’s, Vons, Safeway, Albertsons, and plenty of other stores.

Thanks for reading, everyone. Have you noticed a change in taste or your own health in switching from conventional eggs to organic or pastured? Do you have specific farms or online sources you’d recommend?

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The post How to Buy (and Appreciate) Eggs appeared first on Mark's Daily Apple.



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Emails between the EPA & Monsanto now revealed (The contents are sickening!)

I have made it my life’s mission to raise public awareness about what’s really in our food, how it can affect our health, and how a handful of large corporations are poisoning us for profit. These corporations use big bucks and unethical tactics to influence regulators into playing their game to keep Americans in the dark about the dangers of their products.

We should be able to trust that the food we buy is safe, but when the people in charge of that are working for Monsanto – we’ve got a problem.

Along with so many of you and fellow activists, we have been spreading the truth about GMOs and hazardous chemicals used in conjunction with them like Roundup (glyphosate). This weedkiller isn’t just used on GMOs but on 70 different food crops in the U.S. – it’s in practically everything Americans eat. So, if glyphosate is causing cancer and other diseases, I want to know about it and get it out of our food – don’t you?

Stating the obvious: Monsanto makes billions off of Roundup sales, so they don’t want anyone to question its safety. Some never-before-seen confidential documents just released in a court case against Monsanto give us a glimpse into how they are working to influence the EPA (who is in charge of determining whether they are allowed to sell Roundup anymore) and undermine any efforts to ban its use. These documents show what many of us have known and suspected for quite some time… Monsanto is manipulating scientific research and has gotten some EPA officials on their side who seem to be helping them cover-up the health dangers of Roundup so they can keep it on the market.

Keep in mind… Monsanto and the EPA both do NOT want the public to see these internal emails! Why do you think that is?

While Monsanto is being sued in California by dozens of people who claim Roundup caused their non-hodgkin’s lymphoma, Monsanto had to provide over 6 million pages of internal emails and documents to the court and attorneys, and marked the majority of them as “confidential” so they’d be hidden from the public. When the plaintiffs asked the court to make the records public, both Monsanto and the EPA objected. The judge didn’t agree with their objections and threatened to sanction Monsanto if they continued trying to seal documents and found it in the best interest of the public to release them for all of us to see,“even if Monsanto doesn’t like what they say”.

The public interest group U.S. Right To Know is publishing these documents in their entirety on their website here. This is just the beginning and more are coming out. 

Here’s what we have uncovered in these documents so far…

  • Monsanto was in private talks with a top official at the EPA, Jess Rowland, who was in charge of evaluating the cancer risk of glyphosate for the EPA. Rowland was allegedly helping them stop another federal agency from investigating whether glyphosate causes cancer and told a Monsanto employee, “If I can kill this I should get a medal”. Rowland also signed off on the mysteriously leaked and deleted EPA memo which found glyphosate “not likely to be carcinogenic to humans”, which Monsanto touted as proof the EPA finds it safe.

  • Long-term EPA toxicologist Marion Copley accused EPA’s Rowland of playing “political conniving games with the science” and making decisions based on his “bonus” in favoring pesticide makers (such as Monsanto). Dr. Copley went on to allude that other EPA staff have conflicts of interest and may be taking bribes. She asserts that Anna Lowit (still at the EPA) intimidated staff to change their findings to favor the industry. Dr. Copley also stated, “It is essentially certain that glyphosate causes cancer.” 

  • A Monsanto employee proposed they could “ghost-write” portions of a scientific report and then just have hired scientists “sign their names so to speak”. The EPA would later use this report evaluate the safety of glyphosate. The reason they would do this is highly unethical – to make the report appear to have been prepared by independent scientists, when in reality Monsanto wrote it! This begs the question, how often do they do this? An email suggests they ghostwrote this report presented to EPA regulators in 2000, although no Monsanto employees are listed as authors.

  • Way back in 1999, Monsanto buried the findings of their own scientist (Dr. James Parry) who found glyphosate is genotoxic and recommended further testing. Internal emails show that Monsanto employees questioned whether Parry had “ever worked with industry before”, “hoped that it didn’t cost too much” and that they should hire a different expert who would be “influential with regulators” and help them with “outreach” efforts. Ha! They only want to hire scientists who will make findings in their favor to deceive our regulators.

  • Monsanto knows other compounds in Roundup such as NNG and 1, 4 Dioxane are toxic and can cause cancer as they acknowledged this with each other in emails mentioned in court docs: “If you talk to Kerry [Liefer, an EPA employee], I wouldn’t push the NNG issue too hard — don’t want to draw attention to the toxicity of our product”.

  • In another 2015 email, a toxicologist at Monsanto hinted that Rowland would be retiring from the EPA and that he’d be useful for their “ongoing glyphosate defense”. This just further shows that Rowland was in Monsanto’s back pocket all along and is a key player in helping them achieve their mission.

They are feeding us lies and these secrets are poisoning us!

Most Americans are eating glyphosate every day… No matter how healthy we eat or how much we try to protect ourselves from it, this weedkiller is being used on most major conventional food crops and is so rampant in our environment that it is contaminating virtually all of our food. It’s been found in honey, cereals, meat, drinking water, breast milk, infant formula, chips, cookies… the list goes on. Our government agencies (FDA and EPA) know this and are allowing corporations to poison Americans for profit. It’s truly disgusting! 

Monsanto is stooping to corruption to continue selling their poisons. Everything from seeking to keep their correspondence with the EPA secret, to intimidating scientists at the WHO International Agency on Cancer (IARC) who found Roundup’s active ingredient glyphosate “probably carcinogenic”. A large body of peer reviewed research links glyphosate to cancer, reproductive problems, liver, kidney and skin cell damage, antibiotic-resistance, and more – but Monsanto doesn’t want the public to know the truth!

Glyphosate should be banned worldwide and consumers have the power to make this a reality. Here’s our ACTION PLAN:

  1. Choose to buy only certified organic food and products. This will hit Monsanto where it really hurts, their bottom line! Their best-selling products like Roundup and GMO seeds are banned on organic farms. If all farms were organic these products would bite the dust! This is voting with your dollars and is the most effective way to force change.
  2. Share this post with everyone you know! Expose their corruption. They should be shamed for this! Especially if you know anyone who is still eating non-organic food or using Roundup around their homes, make sure you get this information in their hands.
  3. Ask your favorite companies to test for glyphosate and get certified. Wouldn’t it be nice to know if the food you buy contains glyphosate? I have an exciting announcement! The Detox Project just launched a new “Glyphosate Residue Free Certification” program and will begin labeling products that have been tested and are free of glyphosate. I’ve partnered up with them to help spread the word – They are working with food manufacturers and grocery chains, so that soon we will see labels like this on some products – send this link to your favorite companies and ask them to go glyphosate free.

Everyone deserves to know exactly what they are eating and have access to safe, affordable food. My job will not be done until this is a reality. I’m so happy to have so many of you by my side and I know we can make this happen!

Xo,

Vani

 

 

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Super Easy Beef Chili

Last week I invited some friends over to have dinner and watch Survivor together. It was a really cold and windy day, so I decided on chili!

I went into it without a recipe, and came up with this super easy beef and bean chili that everyone loved.

This chili has three steps: brown the meat with garlic (and onions if you can stand ’em!), add everything else, and simmer until the flavors are awesome. Done and done.

Chili powder and smoked paprika spice her up.

Our toppings included grated pepper jack cheese, Greek yogurt, and Red Hot Blues, which I dipped like nachos.

Super Easy Beef Chili

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Ingredients (4-6 servings)

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 cup diced bell peppers
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 1 can pinto beans, drained
  • 1 kidney beans, drained
  • 1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 cup water (use the tomato can to get all the extra sauce!)
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tbsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp kosher salt

Instructions

  1. Brown beef and garlic in a deep pot until beef is cooked through. Skim off fat.
  2. Add remaining ingredients and stir to combine.
  3. Bring to a bubbling simmer and cook, covered, for at least 15 minutes, but preferably longer so the flavors develop.
  4. Serve with cheese, sour cream, and chips, if desired!
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At the Survivor watching party, Hillary brought these chocolates from Trader Joe’s to do a blind tasting. She loves a good blind tasting!

I think it’s funny how sure I was of some of my flavor guesses, but I was so not right! The only standouts were the orange and the coffee.

The post Super Easy Beef Chili appeared first on Kath Eats Real Food.



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Clean Eating Marinara Recipe

Clean Eating Marinara Recipe

I recently received a desperate comment on Facebook from a reader who just couldn’t stand my use of (clean) canned tomato sauce a moment longer. This sweet person was kind enough to share their… Read more →



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Episode 360 – Wired To Eat Release – 7-Day Carb Test and Q&A

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Sleepcocktails_banner_728x90_LeftToday is the day, my new book Wired to Eat has officially released! On this special episode my incredible wife Nicki Violetti joins me to talk about Wired to Eat, the 7-day carb test, and more Q&A about the book.


Download Episode Here (MP3)

 

If you haven’t already, check out the new book Wired to Eat.

 

30 Day Guide to the Paleo Diet

Want some extra help? Have you been trying Paleo for a while but have questions or aren’t sure what the right exercise program is for you? Or maybe you just want a 30-day meal plan and shopping list to make things easier? We’ve created a getting started guide to help you through your first 30 days.

Buy the book

 

Wired-to-Eat-RenderDon’t forget, Wired to Eat is available for pre-order now!

Amazon, Barnes & Noble, IndieBound, iBooks



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