Benefits of Chocolate and Raw Cacao

Chocolate

I found a great web site that offers luscious raw chocolate confections but also great info on the health benefits of raw chocolate.

Graph designed from information gathered at Natural News: Examining the Properties of Chocolate and Cacao for Health. Source: Source: US department of Agriculture/Journal of American Chemical Society and Brunswick Laboratories MA, USA

This study in the Journal of Cerebral Blood Flow and Metabolism indicates that the flavanols found in cacao may be helpful in preventing additional neural damage in the case of a stroke. This could indicate a protective function for the flavanols found in cacao, as cocoa was specifically used as part of the trial.

Additional details on the neuro-benefits of cocoa and more layman’s terms about the latest research from the Journal of Cerebral Blood Flow & Metabolism.

his study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition shows that heart health is increased by consumption of cacao. Blood pressure is reduced, and endothelial function improved in overweight adults.

“Chocolate contains more magnesium than any other food. Magnesium is the number one mineral deficiency in the west. It is the most powerful stress relieving mineral. It also relaxes the muscles and builds strong bones and teeth.” What more do you need?

Chocolate again scores well in a literature review for protective effects against heart disease. From the article published in Nutrition & Metabolism (Jan 3, 2006,) “The body of short-term randomized feeding trials suggests cocoa and chocolate may exert beneficial effects on cardiovascular risk via effects on lowering blood pressure, anti-inflammation, anti-platelet function, higher HDL, decreased LDL oxidation” and “Meanwhile, the large body of prospective studies of flavonoids suggests the flavonoid content of chocolate may reduce risk of cardiovascular mortality. Our updated meta-analysis indicates that intake of flavonoids may lower risk of CHD mortality”.

Another study, from the Archives of Internal Medicine February 2006.

Chocolate has been shown to have excellent antioxidant levels. ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) values of dark chocolate (13,120 per 100 grams) exceed those of prunes (5, 700); blueberries (2,400), strawberries (1,540) and spinach (1,260). Adding milk to chocolate does not help, in fact, it seems to block the activity of the phytochemicals responsible for the powerful antioxidant capacity of cacao. The August 28, 2003 issue of the journal Nature has a great article discussing the power of dark chocolate, of which, cacao is the key ingredient.

Researchers from the University of Cambridge in England have finally published solid evidence to demonstrate the consumption of chocolate is associated with improved heart and vascular health. Writing in the prestigious BMJ (British Medical Journal), Dr. Oscar Franco and his team determined several factors including diet, exercise, body weight control and lifestyle changes could help reduce the risk of heart disease, a condition expected to claim the lives of nearly 24 million people worldwide by the year 2030. The study authors found that the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of cocoa from chocolate consumption could reduce heart disease risk by one-third and could also reduce the risk of sudden death from a heart attack and stroke incidence.

Cacao, ‘the food of the gods’ has received considerable attention lately as it has been found to contain one of the highest levels of antioxidants on the planet, exceeding red wine, green tea, and other exotic fruits and vegetables. Recently published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Agricultural Food Chemistry (December 3, 2003) is an article titled “Cocoa has more phenolic phytochemicals and a higher antioxidant capacity than teas and red wine”.

Cacao is showing benefits for reduction in blood pressure and greater insulin sensitivity in healthy persons. In an article titled “Short-term administration of dark chocolate is followed by a significant increase in insulin sensitivity and a decrease in blood pressure in healthy persons” published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, March 2005, insulin sensitivity was improved almost 12% in 15 test subjects given dark chocolate and systolic blood pressure dropped almost 6% among the same group.

More testing shows that the antioxidant effects of cacao are helpful in arteriosclerosis. Testing with laboratory rabbits showed, “The antioxidative effect of Cacao Liquor Polyphenols was superior to those of the well-known antioxidative substances, vitamin C, vitamin E and probucol.” Arteriosclerosis, April 2005.

Cacao may help lower the oxidative stress of strenuous activities – thus helping athletes to recover. Recent research “conclude[s] that dietary flavanols, using cocoa drink as example, can lower the plasma level of F(2)-isoprostanes, indicators of in vivo lipid peroxidation.” Free Radical Biological Medicine, August 2004.

Free radical decreases have been noticed in subjects eating chocolate. In one trial there was a 16% drop in the amount of expelled free-radicals, indicating a higher antioxidant level in the subjects taking chocolate. Found in Nutr. Cancer, Vol 47, Iss 2, 2003.

The procyanidin found in Cacao have also been shown to inhibit cataract formation in diabetic lab rats. Experimental Biological Medicine, January, 2004.

All regular readers of NaturalNews know that researchers have discovered chocolate (especially the organic, not junked up with additives and sugar type) contains phytochemicals which appear to promote good health. But no one has had much of a clue about the specifics of some of those benefits on the cardiovascular system — until now. Scientists at the European Society of Cardiology Congress currently underway in Paris just announced that chocolate provides huge protection from heart disease as well as stroke.


Controlling Diabetes with Diet

Veggies

Although I started my business 36 years ago to help people who had severe food allergies it quickly grew to thirty clients within a few weeks. The word got out that although my service was lactose and gluten free it certainly didn’t taste plain and the meals appealed to a very wide range of people whether they had allergies or not.

There were a few times over the years where I stopped doing the service for awhile and worked in kitchens around Jacksonville. One of the things I realized very quickly was this way of eating was absolutely perfect for diabetics. I’ve always leaned toward low glycemic and this is ideal for someone who has to watch their blood sugar. And even if you’re not diabetic it turns out watching your blood sugar helps with blood pressure, cancer, heart disease and other health problems.

This was really brought home about six years ago when a friend of mine on Facebook kept posting consistently that he could not get his blood sugar regulated and that his diabetes was out of control and his doctor was really worried. So I reached out and offered to help him. He replied that there was no way that he could afford to work with me. It took me several times of offering to work with him for free or for barter where he accepted my help.

So two mornings later he came and met with me for a few hours then we talked about how he had been eating. He told me that he was eating exactly the way the Diabetes Association recommended he eat, but that it was not working. In fact he told me he was taking Duval counties agricultural departments class on diabetes and that he just wasn’t working for him. So we talked, I gave him an exact way of eating and he headed out to go to the grocery store.

So about 11:30 the next morning he called me and he was in tears. He told me for the first time in six years that after breakfast his blood sugar was in the range it should have been in. He continued to do better and told me that the following week he went back to the class at the agricultural department. He was very excited to share what he had learned and how well he was doing. He asked if they would be interested in me coming in and talking to them and sharing my knowledge. They told him they weren’t interested.

I can tell you that four months later his doctor was blown away at the next visit and that he was able to go off of insulin. He said when he went to see his dentist that his dentist was thrilled at how much better his gums were doing and his overall health.

On one of our later visits I asked him if he had a copy of the flyer that he had gotten about the class that he did. It turns out it was a trifold pamphlet put out in tandem with the American Heart Association and the diabetic association. The last page gave the diet that they recommended. What they recommended was oatmeal for breakfast. Oatmeal is a grain and derives almost all of its calories from carbohydrates. If you add a healthy serving of fruit you drive that carb load up even further. The other meals were just as deficient.

What our government tells us to eat every day as a crock and is based on heavy lobbying from the food industries. I’m sure everyone remembers when Oprah was sued by the beef board in Texas for saying on her TV show that she did not eat beef. She had to move her show to Texas and spend several weeks defending herself. It cost her lot of money to do so and she won that suit. Because she has the right to say whether she doesn’t eat beef or not. And the science shows us that beef is not that healthy to eat very often. Oprah knew it at the time and we all know it now. But this shows the power of the lobbying forces and the food industry. We should all be very wary of their recommendations and go back to eating real food and stop eating products.

In most cases if you use insulin, you can go back to oral medication and diet to control your blood sugar. If you are on oral medication, you most likely can go off of it aster beginning to eat correctly.


Veggie Rice

Veggie Rice

Veggie Rice

1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 cup frozen peas
2 Jasmine rice, cooked
1 yellow squash, diced
1 zucchini, diced
1 onion, diced
6 scallions, cut diagonally
1 broccoli, cut in small florets
1 red pepper, diced
1 Tablespoon grated ginger
2 clove garlic, minced
1 green pepper, diced
1 T. sweet chili sauce
2 Tablespoons Coconut Aminos

Cilantro- for garnish

1) Heat the oil in a wok. Add the broccoli and pepper and stir-fry, over a high heat, for 3 mins. Add the tofu and cook for 1-2 mins, until crisp.

2) Tip in the rice and stir-fry for 4 mins, breaking up the grains as they warm. Stir through the peas and cook for a further 2-3 mins.

3) Meanwhile, make the sauce. Mix the chilli, garlic, ginger, tamari, sweet chilli sauce and vinegar in a bowl. Pour it over the rice mixture and toss until coated and warmed through. To serve, spoon into bowls and scatter over the sesame seeds and spring onions.


Why You Should Use Vinegar When Boiling Potatoes

Photo by Hai Nguyen on Unsplash

Photo by Hai Nguyen on Unsplash

Potatoes are a versatile ingredient in cooking. They can be baked, mashed, fried, boiled or added to roasts, soups, and stews. However, it’s important to know which potato to use in a recipe that will give it the best texture and its own distinct flavor, per Spruce Eats. And if you thought all potatoes were the same, settle in to learn something new.

Most potatoes can be put into two categories — waxy or starchy. Higher starch content can break down or become creamier and they’re best used when making mashed or baked potatoes. Waxy varieties are the types of potatoes that will hold up better to boiling in water, like when you’re making potato salad. Speaking of the popular side dish, nothing is worse than biting into potato salad and getting a mouthful of mushiness. If this is something you’ve struggled with, before you give up on preparing potato salad from scratch, try adding a bit of vinegar to your pot of water.

How vinegar helps potatoes keep their shape
In Our Steps/Shutterstock
Once you’ve determined that you’re using the correct type of potato for boiling, adding vinegar to the pot of water will help them retain their shape. This hack provided by Home Cook World calls for boiling potatoes for 30 minutes and adding a bit of salt and a dash of vinegar to your boiling water at the 13 minute mark. Why is vinegar helpful?

According to Eating Expired, vinegar makes potatoes form a thin crust on their outer layer. This crust is what’s necessary to help them keep their shape and not become mushy or fall apart. Also, it’s important to note that there’s no specific type of vinegar that’s better at this over another. Eatwell 101 reports that using white, apple cider, or red wine varieties of vinegar all work well to keep potatoes in tact.

The next time a recipe calls for boiled potatoes, try adding vinegar to your pot of water to keep your potatoes firm and ensure your recipe is a success.


How Gut Bacteria Impacts the Brain, the Link Between Health and Happiness

Rain

I have offered Health and Happiness Seminars for decades. It is a 4 part class and I help the students make slow steady changes during those four weeks. Most of them look at me like I am full of it when I tell them that they will be far happier at the end of the month. That they will sleep better by the end of the first week and begin losing weight and feeling ,more energetic with 3 or 4 days. It is such a joy to see their faces at the 2cd class and listen to them share! As I teach them how to improve the way they eat, and why, and help them make changes each week they are amazed. I had a teacher from Georgia drive down to my classes one summer and she told me they swore she had had lipo and cosmetic work when she went back to teach in September. It make that big of a difference, and it is all about great nutrition and gut health.

A growing body of research has shown that the teeming populations of gut bacteria within us have evolved complex connections that can affect our body’s basic functions — from metabolism to sleep to mood.

Changes in the makeup of the gut bacteria in the human digestive system have been associated with a growing number of diseases.

Healthy Heart

Some of the many beneficial compounds that certain gut bacteria produce for us are carotenoids—antioxidants that are believed to protect against stroke and angina.

In a 2012 study in Nature Communications, researchers in Sweden compared the gut microbiome of stroke patients to that of healthy subjects and found that there were more carotenoid-­producing gut bacteria in healthy participants.

Stanley Hazen, M.D., Ph.D., and his team at the Cleveland Clinic have been looking at a variety of ways microbes play a role in heart disease.

For example, when certain gut bacteria metabolize lecithin (abundant in egg yolks) and ­carnitine (a compound in red meat), it boosts compounds in the blood that are linked to an increased risk of heart attack and stroke. Remove the bacteria and the risk-causing compounds vanish even ­after eating those foods.

Allergies Denied

Researchers in Copenhagen reviewed the medical records and stool samples of 411 children for 6 years and found that those who had the least diverse colonies of gut bacteria as infants were more likely to develop some types of allergies.

Trim Weight

A growing body of studies indicates that obese people tend to have a much lower diversity of gut bacteria — up to 40 percent less — than people with a healthy weight. And gut microbes may be responsible for those lean or plump traits: several studies with mice have found that transferring gut microbes from obese mice (or from obese humans) into non-­obese mice, leads the non-obese mice to gain weight.

In turn, adding gut bacteria from lean mice into heavy ones causes the chubby mice to lose weight on a high-fiber, low-fat diet. Researchers believe different bacteria metabolize food differently, which could affect how much your body absorbs.

A 2013 study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences suggests certain gut microbes may help lower blood pressure.

Researchers found that by-products produced by certain gut bacteria activated a specific kind of cell receptor in blood vessels that lowers blood pressure. More bacteria equals more by-products, which equals healthier blood pressure.

Fight Cancer

A robust and diverse gut microbiome may help certain chemotherapies work better. French researcher Laurence Zitvogel, M.D., Ph.D., and his colleagues observed that gut bacteria in mice encouraged immature immune cells in the lymph nodes to develop into tumor-targeting T-cells.

In contrast, when mice were treated with antibiotics (which wipes out bacteria) before begin­ning chemotherapy, the chemotherapy was less effec­tive. The researchers ­believe the gut bacteria help prime the immune system to respond to chemotherapy.

Some microbes may be associated with colon cancer. University of Michigan researchers exposed two groups of germ-free mice — essentially mice with sterile colons — to a known carcinogen.

One group then received gut bacteria from mice with colon cancer and went on to develop twice the number of tumors than the other group who got gut bacteria from cancer-free mice. The researchers narrowed down the microbial families associated with colon cancer and one included Prevotella.

People with inflammatory bowel disease are at higher risk of developing ­colon cancer than the general population. Researchers have thought that the main culprit is overactive immune cells, which release DNA-damaging molecules.

Now new findings in Science suggest that overactive immune cells also may be causing an imbalance in your gut bacteria — encouraging E. coli strains that produce cancer-causing toxins.

Relaxed & Happy

There’s something to be said for “gut feelings.”

Gut bacteria produce hundreds of different neurotransmitters, including up to 95 percent of the body’s supply of serotonin, a mood and sleep regulator. Serotonin also controls movement within the intestines.

Our gut is said to be our “second brain” in part because the vagus nerve is a major communications highway that stretches from the brain to various points along the intestinal lining; communication travels in both directions.

One Lactobacillus species, for example, sends messages from the small intestine to the brain along this nerve: in a study led by John Cryan, Ph.D., a neuroscientist at University College Cork in Ireland, anxious mice were dosed with a proprietary strain of Lactobacillus rhamnosus.

Those rodents then had lower stress hormone levels and an increase in brain receptors for a neurotransmitter that’s vital in curbing worry, anxiety and fear. The effects were similar to those of Valium.

According to another study, when mice had this bacteria in their gut, they showed less depressive behavior. Whatever bacteria may be responsible for “feeling good,” it appears they can be acquired: a recent experiment moved gut bacteria from fearless mice into anxious mice. The new bacteria sparked a personality change, making timid mice more gregarious

Dan Littman, M.D., Ph.D., a microbiologist at the NYU School of Medicine, led a study that found an association between the gut bacteria Prevotella copri and the onset of rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune disease of the joints. While the connection was significant, it’s not clear which comes first: the bacteria or RA.

However, other animal studies, Littman says, have clearly shown that gut microbes play a role in causing autoimmune diseases. One of these, published in 2013 in the journal Science, showed 75 percent of female mice at risk of autoimmune type 1 diabetes were protected against the disease when they were given gut bacteria from healthy mice.

Manage Crohn’s

A large study out of Massachusetts General Hospital involving more than 1,500 patients recently reported a connection between gut microbes and Crohn’s disease (an inflammatory bowel disease that can affect any part of the GI tract, but typically the intestines).

In addition to having less diversity, Crohn’s patients had fewer bacteria known to quell inflammation and more bacteria that cause inflammation.

Interestingly, those who received the standard antibiotic treatment for Crohn’s had a microbe mix that was even more out of balance. Another study found that when Crohn’s patients were given a prebiotic fiber supplement each day, disease symptoms decreased significantly.


My Path Back to a Pescatarian Diet

Pescatarian Diet

When I transitioned away from strict vegetarian 15 years ago it was because I kept developing more allergies after becoming highly sensitized to latex which cross-reacts with a soy or gluten allergy. For about 7 years I ate Pescatarian and loved it. When organic meats got easier to find I tried widening my diet out but did not feel as well. So my Meal Delivery service has included meats for the last 10 years I have mostly eaten Pescatarian. With the climate issues we are experiencing many of my clients have asked me to lean more toward plant-based and I have decided to move in that direction by transitioning to Pescatarian.

While I am well versed and considered an expert on Vegetarian Nutrition I do not feel it gives us the saturated fats we desperately need nor do we get enough Omega-3 fats.

For a look at why we need Saturated Fats please read my article The Importance of Saturated Fats in the Human Diet.

To make my diet perfect I eat a plant based diet that includes seafood, mostly cold water fish. I also cook 75% of the my food with Ghee. There are many benefits to cooking with and eating ghee. It gives us a very stable fat to cook with that can be used for sautéing and baking, it gives use badly needed Vitamins A, C,D, and K as well as those saturated fats, monounsaturated Omega-3’s, as well as a small amount of polyunsaturated fats. It also has more conjugated linoleic acid. It is also lactose free.

So I cook with ghee, eat seafood about 3 times a week, rely on eggs, beans, nuts and seeds for protein also. I eat about half of my daily intake raw including salads and fruit and ALWAYS have raw food with any cooked food as that gives me the enzymes I need for proper digestion and gut health. I put a healthy emphasis on green leafy vegetables as they are crucial for meeting out needs for calcium and iron.

I eat no sugar, relying on Monk Fruit Sweetener in my coffee and to make desserts, It has no glycemic load and no calories and gives the correct texture that you need for baked goods.

I do use some grains but only gluten free, I use rice pasta occasionally but never for a full meal such as spaghetti. It’s mostly devoid of nutrition so even when I make a Pasta Salad it will have WAY more veggies than pasta.

Most of us get enough protein and fat, but almost no one gets enough vitamins, minerals, enzymes and phytochemicals. These nutrients are the key to health and longevity. This is an anti-inflammatory diet, one that will help you heal and slow down the aging process, help you sleep, lower blood pressure and have more energy.


What Is a Pescatarian and What Do They Eat?

In this article I will be discussing the benefits of Pescatarian Diet and a few pitfalls people run into in following it.

Pescatarian

A pescatarian is someone who adds fish and seafood to a vegetarian diet. There are many reasons people choose to forgo meat and poultry, but still eat fish.  Some people choose to add fish to a vegetarian diet so they can get the health benefits of a plant-based diet plus heart-healthy fish. Others might be trying to curb the environmental impact of their diet. For some, it might be simply a matter of taste.

Most simply, a pescatarian is someone who doesn’t eat meat, but does eat fish

Of course, just as vegetarian diets can vary widely, so can pescatarian ones. It’s possible to eat a meat-free diet that’s full of processed starches, junk food and fish sticks, rather than a healthier one based on whole foods.

Why Do People Choose a Pescatarian Diet?

Health Benefits

There are many proven benefits to plant-based diets, including a lower risk of obesity and chronic diseases like heart disease and diabetes .  According to research, you can get many of those protective benefits from a pescatarian diet too. One study found that women who were pescatarians gained 2.5 fewer pounds each year than women who ate meat.

And people who shifted their diet in a more plant-based direction gained the least amount of weight, showing that reducing your animal consumption may be good for you no matter your current eating patterns.

Additionally, one large study looked at people who ate meat rarely or were pescatarians. They had a 22% lower risk of dying from heart disease compared to regular meat-eaters.

Environmental Concerns

Raising livestock comes with a high environmental cost.  According to the United Nations, raising livestock contributes to 15% of all human-made carbon emissions.  In contrast, producing fish and seafood has a lower carbon footprint than producing any type of animal meat or cheese.

A 2014 study calculated that diets of fish eaters caused 46% less greenhouse gas emissions than the diets of people who ate at least a serving of meat a day.

What Do Pescatarians Eat?

A typical pescatarian diet is primarily vegetarian with the addition of seafood.

Pescatarians Do Eat
  • Whole grains and grain products
    (My Meal Delivery Service uses on gluten free grains
  • Legumes and their products, including beans, lentils, soy and hummus. I personally do not use soy as I have a severe allergic reaction to it and use 0only Tempeh in the service. I use Coconut Aminos as a substitute for soy sauce) I do use miso and tempeh and miso are both fermented foods that aid in developing good gut flora and are easier to digest than other forms of soy)
  • Nuts and nut butters, peanuts and seeds
  • Seeds, including hemp, chia and flaxseeds
  • Dairy, including yogurt, milk and cheese
    (my service a lactose and gluten free. I use coconut milk, almond milk, cashew milk, etc. I make these myself as they are much richer in taste as well as having to chemicals added as boxed milks do)
  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Fish and shellfish
  • Eggs

Benefits of Adding Fish to a Vegetarian Diet

There are many health benefits of adding fish to a vegetarian diet.

Many people are concerned that completely excluding animal products or avoiding animal flesh could lead to a low intake of certain key nutrients (.In particular, vitamins B12, zinc, calcium and protein can be somewhat harder to get on a vegan diet (11Trusted Source, 13Trusted Source).

Adding seafood, including fish, crustaceans and mollusks, to a vegetarian diet can provide beneficial nutrients and variety. Fish is the best way to get omega-3 fatty acids (14Trusted Source).

Some plant foods, including walnuts and flaxseeds, contain alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), a type of omega-3 fat. However, this type of ALA is not easily converted to eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) in the body.

DHA and EPA have additional health benefits, helping not just the heart, but also brain function and mood. In contrast, oily fish, such as salmon and sardines, contains EPA and DHA.

Boost Your Protein Intake

Humans only need about 0.8 grams of protein per 2.2 pounds (1 kg) of body weight daily to stay healthy. That’s about 54 grams for a 150-pound (68-kg) person. However, many people prefer to eat more protein than that.

A high-protein diet can be hard to achieve with just plant proteins, especially if you don’t want extra carbs or fat with your protein.

Fish and other seafood offer an excellent source of lean protein.

Seafood Is Packed With Other Nutrients

Beyond omega-3s and protein, seafood is rich in several other nutrients.

For instance, oysters are extremely high in vitamin B12, zinc and selenium. Just one oyster delivers 133% of the RDI for vitamin B12 and 55% of the RDI for zinc and selenium (18).

Mussels are also super rich in vitamin B12 and selenium, as well as manganese and the rest of the B vitamins (19).

White fish varieties such as cod and flounder don’t deliver much omega-3 fats, but they are a source of extremely lean protein.

For example, just 3 ounces of cod provide 19 grams of protein and less than a gram of fat. Cod is also an excellent source of selenium and a good source of phosphorus, niacin and vitamins B6 and B12 (20).

You’ll Have Extra Options

Being a vegetarian can be limiting at times.

Eating out at restaurants often leaves you with a not-so-healthy choice, with dishes like cheesy pasta as the main “veggie” option.

If health at least partially motivates your food choices, then becoming pescatarian will give you more options.

And fish is generally a good one, especially if you get it baked, grilled or sautéed, as opposed to deep-fried.

Drawbacks of the Diet

There are not many health drawbacks of this diet.

That said, some people may be more vulnerable to high intakes of fish.

Fish, especially larger species, can contain mercury and other toxins.  For this reason, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends that young children and women of childbearing age, especially pregnant and nursing women, should avoid tilefish, swordfish, shark and king mackerel.

These populations should also limit albacore and yellowfin tuna to one palm-sized serving or less per week. Light tuna is lower in mercury and it’s fine to eat 2–3 servings a week.

Since this diet is primarily vegetarian, it’s subject to some of the other traps that frequently accompany vegetarian diets. For instance, it can be easy to overeat carbs, especially if you rely on lots of processed grains.


Vegan Broccoli Mac and Cheese

Vegan Mac and Cheese

6 Servings

The best traditional mac and cheese recipes rely on more than just the cheese. They use a bechamel to create a cheese sauce that enrobes the pasta and keeps the dish wonderfully creamy.

It follows, then, that the best vegan mac and cheese recipes rely on more than vegan cheese, too. In fact, plenty of them don’t use any vegan cheese at all, instead enlisting cashews to create the sauce and other powerful ingredients (such as nutritional yeast, miso and mustard) to bring nutty, deep and sharp flavors to the party. Some recipes add tapioca or potato starch to approximate the stretchiness of cheese, vegan or not.

Here, you cook potato, carrot, garlic and onion in a skillet with water and the requisite cashews, then the whole thing gets pureed with the aforementioned flavor boosters to become the sauce. The potato brings that starchiness, the carrot a hint of color.

One warning about this recipe: It makes a lot, filling a deep 12-inch cast-iron skillet. If your household is small, feel free to eat whatever portion you’d like, refrigerate some for the following few lunches

Make Ahead: Assemble and refrigerate for up to 3 days before baking.


Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium white or yellow onion (8 ounces), chopped
  • 1 teaspoon fine salt, divided, plus more to taste
  • 2 garlic cloves, grated or pressed
  • 1 medium russet potato (9 ounces), scrubbed and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 medium carrot (4 ounces), scrubbed and cut into 1/4-inch coins
  • 1 cup (4 1/4 ounces) raw cashews
  • 2 cups water, plus more as needed
  • 5 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 1 tablespoon white miso
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1 large head broccoli (1 1/2 pounds)
  • 1 pound elbow macaroni
  • 3/4 cup (2 ounces) vegan panko, such as Kikkoman brand
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1   Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 450 degrees.

In a 12-inch cast-iron or other ovenproof skillet over medium heat, heat the oil until it shimmers. Add the onion and 1/2 teaspoon of the salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is translucent, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds.


2    Add the potato, carrot, cashews and water, increase the heat to high and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer, uncovered, until the potatoes and carrots are very soft, 10 to 15 minutes. (Add hot water as needed to keep the vegetables just barely covered.) Remove from the heat and let cool for a few minutes.


3    Carefully pour the vegetables and liquid into a blender. Add the nutritional yeast, miso, mustard, smoked paprika, cayenne and 1/4 teaspoon of the salt. Blend on high until the sauce is very smooth, 1 to 2 minutes.


4   Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. While the water is heating, cut the broccoli stem from the head and use a vegetable peeler to peel the stem’s tough outer layer. Cut the stem in half lengthwise and then into 1/4-inch half moons. Cut the head into bite-size florets.


5   Once the water is boiling, add the pasta and cook until 2 minutes shy of al dente according to the package directions, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the broccoli and cook for the remaining 2 minutes, or until the broccoli is bright green and the pasta is al dente.


6  Drain the pasta and broccoli and return to the pot. Pour in the sauce and stir to fully coat. Return the mixture to the cast-iron skillet and smooth into an even layer.


7   In a small bowl, toss the panko with the remaining 1/4 teaspoon of the salt and the pepper. Sprinkle over the mac and cheese. Bake for 10 to 20 minutes, or until the panko is lightly browned and the sauce starts to bubble. Serve hot.

By Joe Yonan


Avocado Key Lime Pie

Key Lime Pie

I LOVE Key Lime Pie!  BUT this way of making it has become my favorite dessert!!!  This dessert is uncooked except for the pie shell, so making it very healthy, low glycemic and sugar free! The recommendation for eating avocadoes in 1/2 avocado a day for heart health.

Avocado Key Lime Pie

Key Lime Filling

2 ripe avocados
1/2 cup key lime juice
1 Tablespoon gelatin powder
8 oz cashew or sunflower cream cheese, room temperature
2 large Tablespoons of lime zest
1/3 Monk Fruit Sweetener
½ teaspoon stevia (or another ¼ cup sugar)
1 cup coconut milk, don’t shake it, just scoop the creamy part into the food processor
1 gluten free pie crust, baked and cooled

Key Lime Pie Filling

Place the lime juice in a small saucepan, whisk in the gelatin. Gently heat, while stirring, to dissolve the gelatin. Do not boil!

Place cream cheese, coconut milk/cream, lime/gelatin mix, lime zest, sugar, pinch of salt in food processor. Blend really well, you may have to stop and use a spatula to get it off of the sides and then continue blending.

Pour the mixture over the prepared crust, spread the top smooth and place in the fridge to set for at least 6 hours.


Are Eggs and Egg Yolks Bad For You?

Eggs

On one hand, they’re considered an excellent and inexpensive source of protein and various nutrients. On the other hand, some people believe the yolks can increase your risk of heart disease.

Whole eggs have two main components:

Egg white: the white part, which is mostly protein

Egg yolk: the yellow or orange part, which is rich in nutrients

The main reason eggs were considered unhealthy in the past is that the yolks are high in cholesterol.

Cholesterol is a waxy substance found in food. It’s also made by your body. A few decades ago, large studies linked high blood cholesterol to heart disease.

In 1961, the American Heart Association recommended limiting dietary cholesterol. Many other international health organizations did the same.

Over the next several decades, worldwide egg consumption decreased significantly. Many people replaced eggs with cholesterol-free egg substitutes that were promoted as a healthier option.

For several decades, eggs were believed to increase heart disease risk because of their high cholesterol content.

It’s true that whole eggs are high in cholesterol

Whole eggs (with the yolks) are indeed high in cholesterol. In fact, they’re a significant source of cholesterol in the standard American diet.

Two large whole eggs (100 grams) contain about 411 mg of cholesterol (1Trusted Source). By contrast, 100 grams of 30% fat ground beef has about 78 mg of cholesterol (2Trusted Source).

Until recently, the recommended maximum daily intake of cholesterol was 300 mg per day. It was even lower for people with heart disease.

However, based on the latest research, health organizations in many countries no longer recommend restricting cholesterol intake.

For the first time in decades, the Dietary Guidelines for AmericansTrusted Source released in December 2015 did not specify an upper daily limit for dietary cholesterol.

Despite this change, many people remain concerned about consuming eggs. This is because they’ve been conditioned to associate high dietary cholesterol intake with high blood cholesterol and heart disease.

However, just because a food is high in cholesterol doesn’t necessarily mean it raises cholesterol levels in your blood.

Two whole eggs contain 411 mg of cholesterol, which exceeds the maximum daily limit that was in place for many decades. However, this restriction on dietary cholesterol has now been lifted.

How eating eggs affects blood cholesterol

Although it may seem logical that dietary cholesterol would raise blood cholesterol levels, it usually doesn’t work that way.

Your liver actually produces cholesterol in large amounts because cholesterol is a necessary nutrient for your cells.

When you eat larger amounts of high cholesterol foods, such as eggs, your liver produces less cholesterol because more of it is coming from your diet (3Trusted Source, 4Trusted Source).

Conversely, when you get little cholesterol from food, your liver produces more to compensate.

Because of this, blood cholesterol levels don’t change significantly in most people when they eat more cholesterol from foods (Trusted Source4Trusted Source).

In one long-term, well-designed study, consuming egg yolks daily for 1 year did not significantly change total cholesterol, LDL (bad) or HDL cholesterol, or the ratio of total cholesterol to HDL (an important marker of heart disease) in adults with early signs of age-related macular degeneration (5Trusted Source).

However, one review of well-designed studies in healthy individuals found that eating cholesterol-containing foods raised both LDL (bad) and HDL cholesterol, but the ratio of LDL to HDL (an important marker of heart disease risk) remained constant compared with the control group (6Trusted Source).

Likewise, in another study, 30 people who ate 3 eggs per day for 13 weeks had higher total cholesterol, HDL, and LDL (bad) cholesterol compared with those who took only a choline supplement.

However, their HDL to LDL ratio remained the same (7Trusted Source). The study’s authors concluded that eating foods high in cholesterol regulates the amount of cholesterol your body makes in order to maintain the HDL to LDL ratio.

Also, keep in mind that cholesterol isn’t a “bad” substance. It is actually involved in various processes in your body, such as:

· production of vitamin D

· production of steroid hormones like estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone

· production of bile acids, which help digest fat

Last but not least, cholesterol is an essential component of every cell membrane in your body, making it necessary for survival.

When you eat eggs or other cholesterol-rich foods, your liver produces less cholesterol. As a result, your blood cholesterol levels will likely stay about the same or increase slightly while your HDL to LDL ratio remains the same.

Do eggs increase heart disease risk?

Several controlled studies have examined how eggs affect heart disease risk factors. The findings are mostly positive or neutral.

Studies show that eating one to two whole eggs per day doesn’t seem to change cholesterol levels or heart disease risk factors (8Trusted Source, 9Trusted Source, 10Trusted Source, 11Trusted Source).

In one well-designed study, eating two eggs per day did not adversely affect biomarkers of heart disease compared with eating oatmeal (9Trusted Source). Additionally, those who ate eggs for breakfast reported greater satiety than those who ate oatmeal.

Another well-designed study found that eating two eggs per day did not significantly affect total cholesterol, LDL (bad) cholesterol, or glycemic control in people with overweight or obesity who also have prediabetes or diabetes (10Trusted Source).

Another well-designed study looked at the effects of eating eggs on endothelial function in people with heart disease. The endothelium is a membrane that lines your heart and blood vessels.

Eating 2 eggs for breakfast for 6 weeks did not result in differences in cholesterol, flow-mediated dilation (an assessment of vascular function), blood pressure, or body weight compared with eating Egg Beaters or a high carbohydrate breakfast (11Trusted Source).

Eating eggs may also help lower risk of metabolic syndrome.

One large study of adults reported that women who consumed seven eggs per week had lower risk of metabolic syndrome than those who ate one egg per week. (12Trusted Source)

Similarly, another study associated eating four to six eggs per week with decreased risk of metabolic syndrome, compared with eating one egg per month. (13Trusted Source)

What’s more, consuming eggs as part of a low carb diet improves markers of heart disease in people with insulin resistance or type 2 diabetes. This includes the size and shape of LDL particles (14Trusted Source, 15Trusted Source).

One study followed prediabetics who were on a carb-restricted diet. Those who consumed whole eggs experienced better insulin sensitivity and greater improvements in heart health markers than those who ate egg whites (14Trusted Source).

In another study, prediabetic people on low-carb diets ate 3 eggs per day for 12 weeks. They had fewer inflammatory markers than those who consumed an egg substitute on an otherwise identical diet (15Trusted Source).

Although LDL (bad) cholesterol tends to stay the same or increase only slightly when you eat eggs, (good) cholesterol typically increases (14Trusted Source, 16Trusted Source).

In addition, eating omega-3 enriched eggs may help lower triglyceride levels (17Trusted Source, 18Trusted Source).

Research also suggests that eating eggs on a regular basis may be safe for people who already have heart disease. In fact, eating eggs may be associated with fewer cardiac events.

One large study of healthy adults examined peoples’ egg consumption over almost 9 years. Daily egg consumption (less than 1 egg) was associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease, ischemic heart disease, and stroke among middle-aged adults. (19Trusted Source)

Another large study found no link between eating eggs and death from coronary heart disease. In men, eating eggs was associated with a lower incidence of death from stroke (20Trusted Source).

To top things off, a review of 17 observational studies with a total of 263,938 people found no association between egg consumption and heart disease or stroke (21Trusted Source).

Studies have shown that egg consumption generally has beneficial or neutral effects on heart disease risk.

Do eggs increase diabetes risk?

Controlled studies show that eggs may improve insulin sensitivity and reduce heart disease risk factors in people with prediabetes.

However, there is conflicting research on egg consumption and the risk of type 2 diabetes.

One recent review of studies determined that eating up to seven eggs per week does not significantly increase markers for cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes in both people with and without diabetes(22Trusted Source).

However, a review of two studies involving more than 50,000 adults found that those consuming at least one egg daily were more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than people who ate less than one egg per week (23Trusted Source).

A second study in women found an association between high dietary cholesterol intake and increased diabetes risk, but not specifically for eggs (24Trusted Source).

And a large observational study that found no link between eating eggs and heart attacks or strokes did find a 54% increased risk of heart disease when they only looked at people with diabetes (21Trusted Source).

Based on these studies, eggs could be problematic for people living with prediabetes or diabetes.

However, it’s important to keep in mind that these are observational studies based on self-reported food intake.

In fact, controlled studies have found that eating eggs along with a nutritious diet may benefit people with diabetes.

In one study, people with diabetes who consumed a high protein, high cholesterol diet containing two eggs per day experienced reductions in fasting blood sugar, insulin, and blood pressure, along with an increase in HDL cholesterol (25Trusted Source).

Other studies link egg consumption with improvements in insulin sensitivity and reduced inflammation in people with prediabetes and diabetes (14Trusted Source, 26Trusted Source).

Studies on eggs and diabetes provide mixed results. Several observational studies show an increased risk of type 2 diabetes, while controlled trials show an improvement in various health markers.

Your genes may affect how you respond to egg consumption

Although eggs pose no risk to health for most people, it’s been suggested that it may differ for those with certain genetic traits.

However, more research is needed in this area.

SUMMARY

Eggs are loaded with nutrients

Eggs are a particularly nutrient-rich food. They are a great source of high quality protein, as well as several important vitamins and minerals.

One large whole egg contains:

Calories: 72

Protein: 6 grams

Vitamin A: 10% of the daily value (DV)

Riboflavin: 16% of the DV

Vitamin B12: 21% of the DV

Folate: 9% of the DV

Iron: 5% of the DV

Selenium: 28% of the DV

Eggs also contain many other nutrients in smaller amounts.

SUMMARY

Eggs are high in a number of important vitamins and minerals, along with high quality protein.

Eggs have many health benefits

Studies show that eating eggs can have various health benefits. These include:

Help keep you full. Several studies show that eggs promote fullness and help control hunger so you eat less at your next meal (9Trusted Source, 39Trusted Source, 40Trusted Source).

Promote weight loss. The high quality protein in eggs increases metabolic rate and can help you lose weight (41Trusted Source, 42Trusted Source, 43Trusted Source).

Protect brain health. Eggs are an excellent source of choline, which is important for your brain (44Trusted Source, 45Trusted Source, 46Trusted Source).

Reduce eye disease risk. The lutein and zeaxanthin in eggs help protect against eye diseases like cataracts and macular degeneration (16Trusted Source, 47Trusted Source, 48Trusted Source, 49Trusted Source).

Decrease inflammation. Eggs may reduce inflammation, which is linked to various health conditions (15Trusted Source, 26Trusted Source).