10 Distinctive Health Benefits of Walnuts

Written by Benjamin Roussey

Walnuts are an ideal inclusion in the daily diet of anyone who wants to maintain salient heart health, prevent diabetes, and improve constipation.

Keeps Your Heart Healthy

Walnuts will promote the production of HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol) in your body, which is excellent for your heart. A daily intake of about 25 grams of walnuts will reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. Though this may not be a big deal to you if you are the guard to the street hoodlum lawyer in the show Breaking Bad! Your health apparently is not a concern to you.

Boosts Immunity

Walnuts will boost your immune system against both viral and bacterial infections. This unique food even has anti-cancer properties to help you stay free from that dreaded illness.

Enhances IQ

Walnuts are powerful nourishment for your mind. As they contain high amounts of omega-3 unsaturated fats, they will nourish healthy cerebrum cells and enable the elimination of degenerated cells in the brain.

Builds Healthy Bones

Omega-3 works quietly to build mineralization and increases your bone strength. Additionally, omega-3 combines with manganese to improve the long-term resilience of your bones.

Counteracts Gallstones

Studies have demonstrated that walnuts play a vital role in counteracting gallstones, particularly in females.

Fights Insomnia

Melatonin, which supports healthy sleep, is found in walnuts. Eating a modest bunch of walnuts before heading off to bed will help in having sound sleep and fight off insomnia.

Lessens Unhealthy Cholesterol

Walnuts contain phenols, vitamin E, Gallic corrosive, and other agents that work to reduce harmful LDL cholesterol levels in your body. And if you are that large guy stuck on the island in Lost, you know your cholesterol is too high!

Keeps you Energized

Walnuts are an amazing source of proteins, fiber, vitamins and minerals, such as iron, magnesium, phosphorus, copper and manganese. They also contain healthy fats and fibers to keep your vitality levels up.

Reduces Constipation

Walnuts are a rich source of fiber. They are useful in easing the blockages in the stomach because of their diuretic impact, and address chronic constipation.

Promotes Weight Loss

Walnuts are a key source of polyunsaturated fats, and include the alpha-linoleic corrosive compound. It helps to improve metabolism leading to weight loss and maintain a healthy gut system.

If You Want to Eat Organic On a Budget, Here Are 4 Best Things to Buy

Written By Aysha Chaudhry

By now, we all know eating organic is a big step in improving our health and supporting sustainable farming.

While it is great in theory, the reality is that buying organic products can be pricey and out of our budget. Check out the list below of the foods where buying organic makes the most positive impact on your health.

1. Beef – Animals raised for their meat are usually injected with many different hormones and steroids while they are raised. However, beef may be the scariest one. There is the highest correlation between hormones given to cows and cancer rates in humans, higher than any other livestock. So to be hormone and steroid-free, opt for organic beef.

2. Berries (and other fruits eaten with the skin on) – Just think about it. Produce is constantly sprayed with pesticides and other chemicals while it’s being grown, and we buy them and eat them as is. Yes, a lot of us wash our fruit but is that enough? Consider strawberries, with their ridged skin. It’s difficult to really wash away all those pesticides.

3. Coffee – Fun fact: Coffee is the number one most pesticide-sprayed crop that we consume. And do we really know what happens before they grind up those chemical-ridden coffee beans and sell them to us?

4. Leafy Greens – Large, leafy plants like kale and lettuce are not only hard to wash, but they are another group of produce that we eat as is. There is no protective skin to peel off and throw away, those pesticides are planted right onto these vegetables.

3 Food Hacks You Should Steal from Restaurant Workers

Written by Salina Jivani

Ever notice how restaurant food just tastes more delicious? There’s a reason for that, and lucky for us, the professionals have shared some of their most steal-worthy secrets that will leave your meal guests clamoring for the recipes. Try these easy-peasy food hacks and leave your guests amazed by your kitchen prowess.

Get scrumptious stir-fry

Ever wonder why your Chinese fried rice doesn’t quite taste as yum as that hole-in-the-wall Chinese restaurant up the street? The answer’s in chicken stock. Instead of cooking your rice in water, cook it in chicken stock and hear your taste buds sing!

Make mouthwatering chicken

Ain’t nothin’ like chicken. But what is the secret behind making it irresistible? Simple: season the outside and the inside. And then make sure you don’t overcook the meat. You can check this by making sure the liquid runs clear when you carve off a piece.

Create delicious stock…with scraps

Once you’re through chopping vegetables, don’t throw away the ends or unused parts, like the ends of onions or tops of carrots, etc. Also keep the bones and spare meat from your non-vegetarian dishes. Then simply throw it all—meat and veggies—together into a pot a proportionate amount of water and create your own, fresh homemade stock!

You don’t have to be a pro to benefit from these tips. So breathe easy and let the cooking begin!

3 Foods That Make Your Child Sharper

Written by Salina Jivani

Homework, soccer, tutoring lessons, piano practice. What don’t parents do to ensure their kids a bright, promising future? While extracurricular activities can help build a child’s confidence and intelligence, most parents miss out on another key component that can effectively help foster a healthy, sharp mind in their children…a healthy diet.

 

Here are three foods that are proven to cultivate sharper minds and more intelligent kids.

Almonds
Almonds are great for kids because they contain fatty acids and are also extremely rich in protein, which is great for brain cell repair. Also, almonds are proven to improve your child’s cognitive functions, which equals improved memory.

Fish
There’s nothing fishy about fish being great for the mind. Salmon and mackerel have tons of Omega 3 fatty acids—which are prime material for a child’s brain because they keep memory sharp, prevent mental skills from declining and have a great dose of Vitamin D (especially handy in winter months when you’re child’s more likely indoors than out).

 

Eggs
If you’re looking for an all-around wholesome food, you can never go wrong with good ol’ eggs. Egg yolks in particular contain amazing nutrients that promote healthy communication between cells and improve memory function. The best part about eggs is that they can be cooked in many different ways, catering to even the pickiest of eaters.

 

Diet lays the groundwork for your child’s success…so don’t neglect it!

 

 

How To Instantly Become a Wine Connoisseur

Written by Ariel Wallace

Have you ever watched a movie and became marveled how the actors interact with wine.The color, smell, ambience of wine in a glass. Ever wanted to explore wine a little more, here’s a few short cuts to becoming a overnight Wine Connoisseur.

Develop A Wine Palate: Learn from the best and acquire a favorite wine of your own. Red or White find a wine that best suites your choice of taste. Getting past your wine flavors is the first part. Consider joining a wine tasting group.

Trying an Unfamiliar Wine: Branching away from your comfort zone of wine and going with an Oblique taste. Leaning toward savory instead of a sweet wine. Building a list of different wines is a sure way to pronouncing an A-Z Winery list.

Writers and Wineries: Wineries and Writers go hand in hand. You can find alot of articles from Wine Experts stating they’re opinion on blogs and wine reviews. Try reading a book that sets the mold for your understanding. A great book for starters is “The World Atlas Of Wine”. Which is an informative read to share over a glass of Wine.

Wine Expert: You’ve finally made it to the finish line. You can look at the wine list and pick out a wine in confidence. Pairing wine and food is something that is now natural for you. Congratulations you are now a wine Connoisseur!

5 Superbowl Snacks That Lead to Diet Victory

Written by Salina Jivani

One of the most awaited sporting events of the year is just around the corner. And typically the fierce competition of the Superbowl accompanies an even fiercer craving for all your favorite action-packed foods and snacks, often ones that contain an abundance of saturated fats, carbs and excessive calories. Unfortunately, these very culprits can put a damper on a (so far) head strong effort of eating lean and staying fit—a goal that many of us aspire to at the start of the new year.

But you can’t starve yourself while everyone is busy stuffing face during the most important football game of the year, right? Right (you didn’t think we’d say otherwise, did you?)!

If you’re watching the game at your own place or someone else’s, plan on working in one of these healthy options into your Superbowl spread to make sure the game doesn’t pack a punch on your waist and leave you feeling defeated.

Veggies

Are you a veggie lover? Offering a veggie tray is a covert way of contributing a delicious, popular, yet tasty Superbowl side dish while allowing you the option to indulge in a snack that’s chockfull of fiber and boasts low calories and fat. If you’re not a fan of the readymade veggie trays, opt to create your own with an assortment of your favorite vegetables. What to dip? Try one of the below complementary options for some added yum.

See other foods on the Superbowl buffet you’re vying to get your hands on? No worries—fill up on your veggies before you proceed to other less healthier options so you don’t end up overindulging on them.

Kale chips

Looking for a leaner alternative to potato chips minus the excessive levels of oil and sodium? Try kale chips. Cut off the kale stems, place the kale leafs on a conventional oven tray, spray lightly with cooking oil (or not) and add a sprinkle of salt before you bake. In no time at all, you’ll have yourself a tray of crispers that’ll give potato chips a run for their money.

Looking for something with more of that potato-ey flavor? Making your own homemade potato chips can help cut back on a lot of the unhealthy ingredients found in the packaged versions. Cut a potato into thin, round slices, place on a baking tray, spray lightly with oil (or not) add salt, bake to a crisp and voila! You’ve got yourself a healthier, fresher version of potato chips!

Cucumber/turkey rolls

If you’re cutting back on carbs or looking to eat clean, look no further—we’ve got the perfect snack for you. All you need are some cucumbers and turkey (or your choice of lean meat). Cut the cucumbers into tall, thin slices, place a layer of turkey on top, and maybe a slice of tomato (if you’re a fan), roll it all up and hold in place with food picks for a fresh, delish, pick-me-up finger food. Want condiments? Try healthier variations of mayo (like Tzatziki sauce or hummus) for flavor.

If you’re a vegetarian put hummus (or something similar) on the cucumber and add in your own choice of veggie favs, like shredded carrots or pimento olives for a special zing.

Homemade dips

Buy a dip from a grocery store and you’re likely to ingest several preservatives and other unhealthy ingredients, like excess salt and saturated fats. Make your own dips from natural ingredients and you’ll relish the fresh taste plus your body will thank you for the vitamins and minerals more densely present in the homemade versions.

Dips popular with the crowds include salsa, hummus and avocado, so consider experimenting with at-home recipes for these.

Crispy Chicken

Of course no Superbowl is complete without an ample dose of chicken, right? Good news is, now you can have your chicken and eat it too without the telling residue of oily fingers (and clogged arteries!). Try a crispy homemade oven fried chicken recipe that allows you to still preserve and relish the crispy breadedness of fried chicken, while eliminating the excess fat and calories.

If you’re going to a venue or other place where you won’t be able to bring your own food, no worries! There are always healthier alternatives you can look for, such as those that are baked, or are as close to their raw/natural form as possible (variations of fruits, veggies and lean meats).

And remember, if you do overeat, don’t berate yourself—it’s never too late to get back on the health bandwagon (or burn off those calories at the gym). So put your game face on and eat to diet victory!

Recipe Corner: Stifado- A Greek Chicken Stew

Written by Iris Foss

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This esquisite Greek Chicken Stew is a popular dish for special guests and gatherings. Hearty and a zinch to prepare.

Ingredients:

1 family pk of chicken
1/2 cup of olive oil
2 pks of Sazon con achote
3/4 cups of stuffed olives
1/4 of a cilantro bunch chopped
1/2 of a garlic head crushed
3 corns on the cob cut in 1/4’s
1 cup of tomato sauce
1 tsp of Adobo
1/2 tsp Sea salt
1tsp of black pepper
1small onion chopped
1/2 of a green pepper chopped
4 lge sliced carrots
4 lge potatoes cut in 1/6’s
1 can of drained chickpeas
1tsp of Thyme
1/4 cup of cooking wine
1/4 cup of pancake mix or flour
5 Bay leaves

Preparation:

1 In a soup pot combine and mix well all ingredients except the tomato sauce and flour.

2 Cover and put in the refrigerator to marinate over night.

3 When ready to cook, just set on the stove on low for about 20 min.

4 Remove lid and slowly stir. Add 2 cups of water. Replace lid leaving bit of a vent. Turn up a bit to med- low and let it simmer for 20 more min.

5 Mix the tomato sauce with the flour until it creates a cream.

6 Add that cream to the stew. Uncover and reduce it back to low. Simmer for 10 more min.

7 Let stand for 10 min and serve with white rice.

Recipe Corner- “Moussaka”

Written by Iris Foss

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Moussaka is a traditional Greek dish. Every family surely has their own version. I prefer the healthy version.

INGREDIENTS:

Meat sauce

2 pounds ground lamb or beef
1 chopped onion
4 crushed garlic cloves
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 Tbsp dried oregano
2 Tbsp tomato paste
1/2 cup of cooking wine
2 Tbsp or more of lemon juice
Pinch of salt to taste

Bechamel sauce

1 stick unsalted butter
1/2 cup flour
1 teaspoon salt
4 cups whole milk
4 egg yolks
3 cups shredded Mozzerella cheese
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

The moussaka

3 large peeled and sliced eggplants
1/2 cup salt
2-3 pealed and sliced potatoes
1 cup grated Parmesan Cheese
Olive oil

Prepare the meat sauce

1 Heat and brown the ground meat. Drain all the grease. Add the onions about halfway into the browning process. Sprinkle salt over the meat and onions.

2 Once the meat is browned and the onions have softened, add the garlic, black pepper, oregano and tomato paste. Mix well and cook for 2-3 minutes.

3 Add the red wine and mix well. Bring the sauce to a simmer uncovered for 20 minutes. Turn off the heat. Taste for salt and add more if needed. Add the lemon zest and the lemon juice. Mix well and taste. Set the sauce aside.

Prepare the potatoes and eggplants

4 Peel and slice the eggplant and the potatoes into 1/4 inch rounds.

5 Boil the potatoes in salted water for 5-8 minutes – you want them undercooked, but no longer crunchy. Drain and set aside.

6 To cook the eggplant, grill or fry the rounds using Olive oil. Transfer into paper towels and set aside.

Prepare the béchamel

7 Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour and cook, whisking constantly, until pale and smooth, 2 minutes. Still whisking constantly, add the milk and cook until thickened. Season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Let the sauce cool for 5 minutes. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and Mozzerella cheese. W8hisk into the bechamel sauce until smooth.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Butter a 3-quart baking dish or casserole dish.

To assemble: Put half the eggplant and potato slices in the dish and cover with half the meat sauce. Top the sauce with the remaining eggplant and potato slices, and then the remaining meat sauce. Pour the bechamel over the top of the meat sauce and spread evenly with a rubber spatula. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese evenly over the top, place the dish on a baking sheet, and bake until browned and bubbly, 45 to 50 minutes. Top with fresh parsley or cilantro, if desired. Let cool for at least 20 minutes. Cut into squares and serve.

Why Bread Is More Dangerous Than it Looks (and how to choose wisely)

Written By Salina Jivani

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If you’re like most people, you’ve had a love-hate relationship with carbs at some point. And who can blame you? With all the dieticians out there keen on slinging mud on our hip-clinging friends, like rice, bread, and, yes, donuts, it’s tempting to completely banish these traitors from our lives. But if your worth the grain on your bread, you know that carbs are an essential part of any well balanced diet. And let’s be real: diets that are carb-restricted are doomed for failure at some point, because practically it’s not possible or healthy to go forever without these essential (and oh so yum) foods in our lives.

The trick to eating carbs is to select the healthy ones (yes, wave good bye to bagel’s frosted and sprinkled twin)—which can be especially difficult when it comes to one of America’s most necessary staples, if storms and power outages are anything to go by—bread. And with store-bought breads containing harmful ingredients while deceptively boasting their nutritional superiority over competitors’, it’s easy to see why they have a bad rap. After all, how can you trust a food that’s constantly under so much scrutiny?

But don’t give up hope. There’s a way to make sure you’re including this can-be-healthy food into your daily diets—while benefiting from its merits. To make sure you’re buying the healthiest most natural, nutrient-dense bread, we’ve compiled some important information you should consider the next time you find yourself browsing the bakery aisle.

Ingredients to avoid

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Let’s start with the no-nos. You may not give it much thought, but the bread most of us have lurking in our pantries has a ton of very bad, not so great ingredients. A quick skim of your bread packaging may reveal some of these unhealthy items:

  • High fructose corn syrup
  • Sugar
  • Soybean oil, corn oil
  • Corn starch,
  • Soy lecithin
  • Preservatives
  • Food coloring
  • Any terms you cannot pronounce—these typically sound more like names of chemicals that belong in a lab than whole foods you may find in the aisle of a grocery store.

Why are these ingredients bad for you? We’re glad you asked.

Of course, manufactured sugars are an obvious. Nothing good ever comes out of them and they’re certainly not healthy for you. Plus, even fake sugars are known to cause cancers and heart disease while others that operate under a cleverly named alias, like high fructose corn syrup, can cause health risks including weight gain, diabetes, and bad cholesterol.

Genetically modified ingredients (GMOs) like soybean oil, corn oil, corn starch, and soy lecithin can be detrimental to your health because the original forms from which these oils are derived often contain pesticides that are poisonous and can prove toxic when ingested.

Preservatives, which are often present in many breads and are sometimes listed simply as “preservatives” on the ingredients panel, can lead to long-term diseases like ADHD.

Even the simpler, seemingly harmless ingredients like food coloring or artificial flavors can lead to a development of allergies or asthma.

And of course the ingredients you can pronounce are usually the ones you should steer clear of the most, because these are the ones that are lab-manufactured, just like they sound, and can pose a whole slew of health issues including, but not limited to, cancers and tumors. (Think about it—you’re expecting your body to digest lab-devised chemicals. There’s no way that can be healthy!)

What you should look for

Now that you know what to avoid, let’s talk about what you should look for. Put simply, anything that is a real ingredient and is healthy for you gets a green checkmark. Examples include whole wheat, herbs, flaxseed, rice bran, yeast, hemp seeds…you get the drift. If it sounds like a real food your mom would encourage you to eat, it’s probably safe.

Best brands on the shelves

Now that we have all the good and the bad out of the way, let’s get to the fun stuff! Even though we’ve made that loaf in your pantry look as threatening as it did when the Atkins diet took the world by storm, let us reassure you that bread is and can still be a healthy carb. And the good news is, you don’t have to don an apron and cover yourself in flour from head-to-toe to avoid the adverse health effects of poorly choiced purchase—there are some great options right there on those super market shelves. That’s right, there’s hope. In fact, here are the brands that are top-rated by many trusted health advocates:

So don’t be afraid of the B word (bread, of course!). Just remember, an educated consumer is the best one

Fast food: The Death Culprit

Written By Salina Jivani of “The Great Word Nerd” blog

 

Calories have become all the rave. After McDonald’s made news on multiple occasions for its unhealthy, obesity-inducing meals, and Jared from Subway stepped out, dwarfed by his old fat jeans, claiming that “eating fresh” had helped him lose weight equivalent to that of a grown adult, it’s as though a cyclone of frenzy seized the fast food industry and calorie counts started popping up on drive through menus and nutritional fact sheets everywhere. But don’t be fooled. Although many restaurants are more calorie conscious and aim to make meals more calorie friendly, that doesn’t mean the foods they offer are any healthier for you to consume. In fact, excessive calories are just one thin layer among many others of why you should avoid fast foods like the plague.

 

High Sodium– If you know anything about eating healthy, you know that keeping the salt shaker at bay is a good thing. According to the American Heart Association (AHA), about nine out of every 10 adults consume too much sodium, of which the AHA recommends no more than 1500 milligrams per day. Eat a single meal at a fast food restaurant of your choice and you’re likely to deplete your entire day’s worth of recommended sodium. One serving of Taco Bell’s volcano nachos (1650 milligrams) or a single serving of McDonald’s Big Breakfast with hotcakes (2260 milligrams) and you’re already over the recommended amount. Keeping that level of consumption up with even the slightest bit of regularity and you’ll make yourself infinitely more prone to fatal health concerns, including stroke, headaches, high blood pressure, kidney disease, stomach cancer, and heart failure, to name a few.

fries

 

Fake ingredients- When you eat, you want to make sure you’re nourishing your body and consuming something that is healthful. After all, your body will work hard for you as long as you give it the means to do so. But many fast food restaurants don’t have the prized nutrients or vitamins your body craves. In fact, the beef used by many restaurants is not 100% real meat–nowhere even close to that percentage. According to one study, approximately 50% of beef patties are composed of water and only between 2.1%-14.8% of the entire patty is actually real. The remaining 35%-48% is composed of chemical fillers and preservatives, which basically means that on a more favorable scale, 15% of what you ingest is real, nutritional food. The remaining 85%? Fake, lab-tested chemicals. Which brings us to our next point.

 

Low nutrition value–  Of course if you’re not eating real food, you can’t expect your body to extract real nutrients from those foods. And if you’re like the majority of Americans who depend on fast food restaurants for at least half their meals during the week, you’re doing more harm than good by depriving your body of vitamins and minerals that are essential to good health and longevity. The ratio of calories to nutrient density in fast foods is baffling. In other words, eating a fast food meal pretty much means that all you’re feeding your body are harmful chemicals and a ton of extra calories with no true nutritional value to sweeten the deal.

pizza

 

Food safety-  You wouldn’t ever entertain the thought of eating silly putty for lunch, would you? Opt for chicken nuggets from most fast food restaurants, and it’s likely that you’ll be getting a good dose of dimethylpolysiloxane—the exact chemical found in putty. In fact, according to several studies, the chicken contained in nuggets are not really even meat, but made from a sticky substance created from ground carcass and processed chicken bones. Not scared? Consider this: the chicken nuggets at many restaurants contain a chemical preservative called tertiary butylhydroquinone (TBHQ), which safeguards foods from discoloration. The downside is that while your food will appear fresh, fatal effects of TBHQ in rats include tumors and death.

 

So the next time you decide you’re too lazy to pack a good ol’ homemade brown-bag lunch, think about what you’re sacrificing at the cost of convenience. Although an occasional meal here and there at a local joint likely won’t harm you, it’s always a good idea to prepare home cooked meals in advance so that you’re not left tempted to turn that occasional fast food visit into a regular habit. Besides, who doesn’t want to save some money and avoid a ton of unnecessary calories?