Avocado toast is a currently popular, healthy, lectin-free alternative to peanut butter or jam, or PB&J. Breakfast, lunch, or an anytime snack are great reasons to give avocado toast a try.
Add Pesto for a Twist
I love avocado toast, especially with my signature twist of homemade, also incredibly healthy, pesto.
Featuring fresh basil and garlic from my backyard garden, my version of pesto can be quickly whipped up by adding parmesan, almonds, and just enough virgin olive oil (for the healthiest version) to create a paste. I use my Pampered Chef blender, love how well it works for this recipe.
Sorry, I never measure the ingredients when I blend a batch of pesto. Or many other things for that matter. You could Google a proper recipe for a guideline though. Although traditional pesto recipes call for pine nuts, I prefer to use always-available-in-my-pantry almonds instead. Remember, almonds contain healthy fatty acids.
I scrape a batch of pesto into an icecube tray, then freeze. A few hours later, pop the cubes into a sealable container and store them in your freezer.
Uses for Pesto
My pesto cubes get added to soups, pasta, sauces, and more. Just today I had pesto avocado toast with a few pieces of bacon left over from yesterday’s breakfast.
Pesto also makes a healthier substitute for mayo in a toasted tomato sandwich or a BLT. I haven’t tried this yet, but can you imagine a macaroni or potato salad with pesto instead of mayo?
Use your imagination! The possibilities are endless. Let me know your favourites.
If you, like me, are confused about the difference between the Indian spices such as turmeric, curcumin, cumin, and curry powder, this post should help…
Let’s start with turmeric. Turmeric, also known as Indian saffron, is a plant in the ginger family, native to southeast Asia and India. It has a bitter but warm taste and is often used to color and flavor butters, cheeses, mustards, and curry powders. Although the leaves are used to wrap and cook food in areas where it is grown, it is the rhizomes of the turmeric plant that are ground into a powder used around the world to color and flavor food.
The root of turmeric is also used widely to make medicine to treat conditions such as heartburn, gallbladder disorders, diabetes, arthritis, stomach pain, headaches, cardiovascular disease, irritable bowel disease, lung infections, menstrual problems, depression, water retention, bronchitis, kidney infections, colds, fibromyalgia, skin inflammations, as well as both fungal and bacterial infections. Current research is hoping to prove that turmeric is also effective against cancer.
Personally, to take advantage of the amazing health benefits, I use turmeric in my custom smoothies every morning.
Curcumin is the main component of turmeric rhizomes that imparts the typical bright yellow color. It stains everything it touches, so be warned! That’s about the only downside of this wonderful, healthy spice though.
Cumin is the dried seeds of a herb in the parsley family, mainly grown in India as well as other tropical and subtropical, frost-free areas around the world. The seeds are used ground or whole as a spice to give flavor and aroma to food. I add ground cumin to soups, stews, stir-frys, and more. Once you learn and appreciate the unique taste, you can use your imagination to decide where it should be added.
Curry powder is a spice blend containing primarily turmeric, cumin, coriander, and chili pepper. A similar blend of spices is called garam masala in south Asia. Some commercial blends of curry powder also contain ginger, garlic, fennel seed, mustard seed, cardamom, nutmeg, black pepper, and or cinnamon.
Curry powder is very convenient as it contains most of the other Indian spices mentioned in one bottle. I add it to soups, stews, sauces, etc, even devilled eggs! Once again, use your imagination to add this unique flavour to just about anything.
Well, I learned the difference between these Indian spices (turmeric, curcumin, cumin, and curry powder) while researching this post. I hope it was helpful. Try some of these spices soon to add flavor and color to your cooking while preventing or treating many health issues at the same time.
The benefits of vitamin supplements are incredibly far-reaching. They can help aid bodily functions such as digestion, metabolism, and immuno-response. Researchers continue to support the belief that vitamin supplements play a large role in longevity. When combined with a proper diet, adequate sleep patterns, and daily exercise, a noticeable impact on life quality can also be achieved with vitamin supplements.
So what about memory? Can these tablets really boost cognitive function? Well, yes and no. One of the most common symptoms of aging is memory loss. As of 2020, roughly an estimated 5.8 million Americans aged 65 and older live with Alzheimer’s dementia. If scientists were able to slow the onset of Alzheimer’s with the use of vitamin supplements, over 200 thousand fewer seniors would be diagnosed per year. So, in that respect, vitamin supplements act as a preventive measure.
Five supplements that boost memory
Researchers have studied the correlation between B-12 and B complex vitamins and cognitive function for a long while. They have found that having a B-12 deficiency could lead to troubles with memory in the future. According to the Mayo Clinic, having an adequate amount of B-12 can lead to improved memory. Still, there is no concrete evidence to suggest that higher intake leads to more benefits. However, there is evidence that regular B-12 consumption can slow the cognitive decline of seniors diagnosed with Alzheimer’s when combined with omega-3 fatty acids.
B-12 deficiency is most common in those with bowel or stomach issues, strict vegans, and diabetics. Getting enough B-12 should come naturally. Certain foods such as fish and poultry contain high levels of the vitamin B-12. Dairy products and certain vegetables such as mushrooms also offer high levels of B-12.
If you do not eat foods rich in B12, you can supplement your diet with vitamin B12 in a jar! and get the same benefits.
2. Vitamin E
Vitamin E is another supplement that has shown to slow cognitive decline. Like vitamin B-12, this vitamin has proven to be more effective in older people since they are more at risk for memory loss. According to a 2014 study done by The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMMA), “Among patients with mild to moderate [Alzheimer’s], 2000 IU/d of alpha-tocopherol [the vitamin E supplement] compared with placebo resulted in slower functional decline.”
Vitamin E deficiency is rare, but it does occur. It is most apparent in those whose diets lack fat. Good sources of vitamin E include foods such as:
dark-colored fruits, such as blueberries, avocados, and blackberries
vegetables, such as spinach and bell peppers
Whether you get your daily dose of vitamin E from your diet or a jar of supplements, make sure you do!
3. Vitamin D
Vitamin D is essential for efficient brain function as well as keeping our bones, teeth, and muscles healthy. We obtain Vitamin D mainly through the sun’s rays. The vitamin isn’t found in many foods, but it is abundant in certain fatty-fish such as trout, salmon, and tuna. Vitamin D supplements are great for everyone, but especially for those who spend a lot of their time working from inside. Being deficient in vitamin D can have negative effects such as raised anxiety, depression, and chronic fatigue.
Omega-3 fatty acids are extracted directly from fatty fish like sardines and salmon. Fish oil can play a vital role in optimizing brain function. That’s because fish oil contains the same fatty acids found in the cell membranes of human brain cells. Preserving healthy brain cell membranes can have a massive impact on how our brain develops as we age. Not only is fish oil excellent for the mind but it is also great for muscle recovery as it decreases muscular pain and shortens recovery time after a workout.
Yes, we know that NAD+ is not a vitamin, but its potential to optimize brain function is worth noting. NAD+ is a compound that is produced naturally in the body but as we age, our NAD+ levels decrease. The rate at which our NAD+ levels decrease is directly related to increasing biological age. So as we age, we lose NAD+ and we lose energy, our skin ages, and we experience some form of memory loss or mental fatigue. NAD+ supplements are available at certain vitamin shops, but one of the most effective methods is NAD+ treatment through an IV.
Though these nutrients are not the “end all and be all” for cognitive decline, having a consistent intake of the vitamin could slow symptoms, especially for seniors and those already diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or other mental diseases. The easiest way we can prevent the onset of these illnesses is to take care of our bodies. Good sleep patterns, a good diet including vitamins, and daily exercise are things we can do daily to increase the quality of life and longevity.
If you are not keen on introducing supplements to your diet, try incorporating foods that contain the specific vitamins instead. That is my preferred way to achieve a healthy diet. I do so by concocting a variety ofsmoothies that contain healthy, fresh vitamin-packed fruits and vegetables. Make the choice based on your lifestyle, but be sure to incorporate the vitamins into your diet.
This is yet another OBG post. Sorry, I don’t believe “oldie but goody” was on my recent list of acronyms, but it should have been. This recipe for the best, gluten-free chicken chili came up in a search of my go-to cold-weather comfort foods…
A few days ago I made the best gluten-free chicken chili in my slow cooker. My husband said it was the best “soup” he has ever tasted. Regardless of what you call it, chili or soup, it was fantastic.
My Recipe for Chicken Chili
The only problem is, as usual, I did not follow a recipe, so the measurements I am giving you are approximations only. These quantities are for my family of five with leftovers (hopefully) for the next day…
5 uncooked, boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 cans white kidney beans, well rinsed and drained
2 cups sliced baby portobello mushrooms
1 cup chopped spanish onion
2 cups grape or cherry tomatoes
1 cup roasted red peppers (cut up two sweet red peppers, toss in a bowl with olive oil, bake the peppers on a cookie sheet at 400 until they start to turn black at the edges)
2 cups green tea (i know, sounds gross, but I didn’t have any fresh chicken broth and needed some liquid, not to mention green tea is good for you!)
2 tsp each chili powder and curcumin (or more chili powder if you like it HOT)
2 tsp minced garlic
I cooked the above ingredients for 6 hours on the low setting of my slow cooker, then removed the chicken breasts, let them cool before chopping them up, and returned them to the pot. At this point, I also squished the tomatoes against the side of the slow cooker to make them burst. Some members of my family (not me) are picky and don’t like the squishiness of cherry/grape tomatoes. I then let the concoction simmer for another hour on low heat.
Secret Ingredient in my Chicken Chili
Approximately 20 minutes before serving, I turned off the heat on the slow cooker, and then added 1 cup of jalapeno flavored Greek yogurt, and 1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese. I buy the yogurt at Costco and use it in many recipes instead of sour cream or cream cheese. It provides a nice, mildly spicy flavor and adds much less fat.
Any of the following symptoms could be signs that you suffer from gluten intolerance. If any of these signs apply to you, get yourself checked out; you will be glad you did! I did years ago after suffering through many of the symptoms listed below; see this previous postto read about my story.
Digestive issues such as gas, bloating, diarrhea and even constipation.
Keratosis Pilaris, (also known as ‘chicken skin’ on the back of your arms). This tends be as a result of a fatty acid deficiency and vitamin A deficiency secondary to fat-malabsorption caused by gluten damaging the gut.
Fatigue, brain fog or feeling tired after eating a meal that contains gluten.
Diagnosis of an autoimmune disease such as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, Rheumatoid arthritis, Ulcerative colitis, Lupus, Psoriasis, Scleroderma or Multiple sclerosis.
Neurologic symptoms such as dizziness or feeling of being off balance.
Hormone imbalances such as PMS, PCOS or unexplained infertility.
Diagnosis of chronic fatigue or fibromyalgia. These diagnoses simply indicate your conventional doctor cannot pin point the cause of your fatigue or pain.
Inflammation, swelling or pain in your joints such as fingers, knees or hips.
Mood issues such as anxiety, depression, mood swings and ADD.
How to Deal with Gluten Intolerance
Gluten intolerance can affect many of the organs in your body, not just your stomach and intestines. This is especially true over long-term exposure. Get informed; knowledge is the best way to move forward to better health.
Gluten-free options are currently very popular in grocery stores and restaurants. I am happy to report there has been a huge improvement in the ten years since I was diagnosed with my wheat allergy.
I’m sure you’ve heard the saying “an apple a day keeps the doctor away.” Do you believe it? I do. Apples are an incredibly easy, inexpensive, and delicious way to add fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants to your diet.
Apples have been around forever, since the days of Adam and Eve. What have we learned about the correlation between apples and good health?
The Health Benefits of Apples
Apples are fat-free, cholesterol-free, gluten-free, low in sodium, and full of fiber (with the peel on), pectin, vitamins, flavonoids, minerals and antioxidants. One apple contains approximately five grams of fiber and just eighty calories.
Which Minerals are Abundant in Apples?
Apples are full of magnesium and potassium which help control your blood pressure. Quercetin is a flavonoid found in apples that protects your artery walls as well as your lungs. Boron, a trace mineral that is absorbed from the soil, is also found in apples. It has been shown to be beneficial for your joints.
Antioxidants Prevent and Stop Cancer
Research has proven that antioxidants are helpful to prevent disease and even to stop the growth of cancer cells once they are present in your system.
Apples Alleviate Constipation
Doctors have suspected for years that constipation is at the root of many illnesses. Constipation is caused by insufficient fiber in the diet. Conditions such as appendicitis, varicose veins, diverticulitis, hernias and hemorrhoids are all thought to be caused by strained bowel movements.
Most people know that fiber can alleviate these strained bowel movements. An apple a day can go a long way to keeping your body regular and free from constipation. My children can attest to the fact that anytime they complained of a stomach ache, I would always ask them when the last time they had a good poop. I would then prepare them a large bowl of sliced apples (with the peel still on) sprinkled with cinnamon.
Pectin is a carbohydrate found in apples that helps our intestines when diarrhea is a problem. This is because pectin causes food to congeal, just as it does when you use it to make jam or jelly.
Most mothers are familiar with the BRAT diet recommended when their children have diarrhea. It consists of bananas, rice, unsweetened applesauce and toast. Most of these ingredients are bland and easy on the stomach. The applesauce (apples without the fiber of the peel) is primarily included in this diet because of the pectin.
Now that you know just how good apples are for you, be sure to eat an apple a day to stay healthy or get healthier.
There are all kinds of fat in our foods. Trans fat, hydrogenated fat, partially hydrogenated fat, saturated fat, unsaturated fat, monounsaturated fat, polyunsaturated fat, etc. Learn the difference between these fats to trim the pounds and inches from your body and get healthy.
Trans or Hydrogenated Fats:
oils treated by a hydrogenation process to be harder at room temperature and increase the shelf life of products that contain them
snack foods such as cookies, cakes, crackers, chips
salad dressings, margarine, and other foods made with partially hydrogenated oils or shortening
raise bad cholesterol (LDL) levels and lowers good cholesterol (HDL) levels
solid at room temperature
raise cholesterol levels
mostly animal foods such as meat, milk, cheese
tropical oils such as coconut oil, cocoa butter, palm oil, palm kernel oil.
chicken and fish have less saturated fat than red meat
liquid at room temperature, mostly from a plant source
lower bad cholesterol (LDL) levels
Monounsaturated: avocado, nuts, seeds (almonds, hazelnuts, pecans), and canola, olive, and peanut oils
Polyunsaturated:omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids from fish such as salmon, herring, sardines, mackerel, trout, and tuna, walnuts and flaxseeds, as well as corn, safflower, flaxseed, sunflower, soybean, and sesame oils
Although a ratio of 1:1 between omega 6s and omega 3s is the ideal balance to strive for, studies have shown modern diets to be as high as 16:1 This higher proportion of omega 6s is leading to the increase of many disease states within our modern societies including arthritis, heart disease, autoimmune diseases, and other inflammatory processes, as well as numerous types of cancer.
Omega 3s are crucial for our brain, hormone, and immune function, good vision and hair, skin, cell, and tissue growth. They are helpful in treating symptoms of lupus, asthma, osteoporosis, arthritis, diabetes, breast and colon cancers, and irritable bowel disease. A deficiency in omega 3s can result in conditions such as depression and mood swings, poor memory, fatigue, poor circulation, dry skin, and more.
While omega 6s are helpful in treating the symptoms of arthritis, diabetic nerve pain, menopause, high blood pressure, multiple sclerosis, eczema, and even allergies, too much omega 6s can cause depression, dyslexia, obesity, hyperactivity, and other health problems.
Fats are crucial for good health as they provide energy and facilitate the absorption of fat-soluble K, D, A, and E vitamins. They also aid in hormone production and cell growth, protect your internal organs and regulate your body temperature. For these reasons, fats should account for 30% of your daily calories.
So, which ones are the best?
Try to eat mostly unsaturated and use saturated fats sparingly, less than 10% of your daily calories. Trans or hydrogenated versions should be avoided as much as possible. Avoid margarine, canola, and hydrogenated oils. Instead choose eggs, olive oil, avocado, almonds, coconut oil, and cold-water fish.
The pH level of a substance is the measure of potential hydrogen on a scale of 0 to 14. On this scale, a measurement of less than 7.0 is acidic, and greater than 7.0 is alkaline. The acidity or alkalinity of everything can be measured, from the soil in your garden, and the water in your swimming pool, to the blood cells in your body.
Why is Alkaline Better than Acidic?
Why is it so important to keep your blood pH on the alkaline side? Basically, because extensive research has shown that an alkaline pH increases the amount of oxygen in your blood. This is a good thing since the lack of oxygen in your blood cells causes disease.
When our blood becomes too acidic we enter a state of acidosis. Even slight deviance from the ideal pH of 7.4 can cause problems. Loss of energy and concentration, tiredness, even exhaustion can be common. Long-term effects include acid build-up in our organs, loss of muscle mass, and loss of bone density when the calcium stored in our bones leaches out to try to compensate for the acidosis.
Bacteria and viruses thrive in acidic conditions causing bodies in acidosis to be vulnerable to disease. Acidic toxins we ingest from food, water, and even the air that we breathe produce disease-causing free radicals.
An alkaline pH, on the other hand, is believed to have many health benefits. These include boosting metabolism, slowing the aging process, and slowing bone loss in menopausal women. Other benefits include neutralizing acid, helping your body absorb nutrients better, and preventing disease. An alkaline pH prevents disease by removing the free radicals that your body does encounter in day to day life.
How do we Ensure our Blood pH stays Alkaline?
So, how do we go about alkalizing our blood cells? The easiest way is to monitor what we eat and drink. Chlorinated tap water is acidic, and although most city water is alkaline to prevent acid corrosion in the pipes, toxic chemicals are used to make it alkaline. Mineral water is alkaline due to the addition of health-promoting minerals such as calcium, magnesium, sodium potassium, iron, zinc, nickel, and manganese. Ionized water is adjusted mechanically to make it more alkaline.
Many common foods and ingredients cause our blood pH to slip into the acidic zone. These include sugar, flour, and protein from animal sources such as dairy products and meat. Remember, it is the effect the food has on your body after digestion that makes it acidic or alkaline. For example, lemons are acidic in taste, but one of the most alkaline foods.
To keep your body feeling and looking its best, choose foods from the alkaline side. and reduce foods from the acid side in the following chart:
Some people believe the alkaline food theory is just another “fad diet” encouraged by the alkaline/ionized/mineral water companies. As usual, I encourage you to be the judge. Try it for yourself, especially the simple, no cost, no risk, food chart version. Be sure to let me know what you think and how you feel.
Research has shown that healthy, properly functioning digestive systems can alleviate many health issues. Weight control and fat loss, curbing sugar cravings, mood control, and more are easier to achieve if you look after your digestive system.
I knew this from my own experience with health issues over the years, but my personal observations were validated watching this video. Dr. Amy Lee is head of nutrition at Nucific. She starts off talking about unhealthy (contrary to popular belief) breakfast choices, then explains why these choices get you in trouble and how to change your habits.
She also states that food sensitivities are warning signs that digestive systems are not functioning properly, something that resonated strongly with me.
I have more time to watch these videos now that my garden business is (literally) under snow. Although they are marketing something at the end, I scroll through that part. I do find lots of informative, well-searched (I do check) fodder for thought though. In turn, this research translates to inspiration for my blog posts.
In case you have no desire to or don’t have time to watch the whole thing, I have summarized it for you…
Breakfast Choices Affect Digestive Systems
Breakfast is important, but what you choose to consume or offer your children to consume first thing in the morning is even more important.
Healthy breakfast choices are crucial to kickstart digestive systems for the day and keep them functioning properly. These three popular choices are bad ideas as they contain too much sugar in forms often difficult to recognize. High fructose corn syrup is the worst offender. It is present in many packaged, convenient breakfast (and other snack) foods.
yogurt (see clarification below)
Dr. Lee recommends physical activity plus the use of these three digestive enzymes to break down food properly. When this happens nutrients are distributed throughout our body and the waste eliminated.
These enzymes are already present in our bodies but you can add to them with commercial supplements(pills) or foods such as:
You know my preference. I’ve never been a proponent of pills. I also noticed that many of the foods listed above are ingredients in my customizedmorning smoothies, so are rarely absent from my fridge or freezer.
The Issue with Yogurt and Digestive Systems
While (some) yogurt does contain digestive enzymes or probiotics, read the labels as not all probiotic yogurts are created equal. Most contain so much sugar the benefit of the enzymes is diminished by the sugar content.
If yogurt is your thing, I’ve done the research for you. The healthiest yogurtswere recently listed by Prevention Magazine. These contain more healthy digestive enzymes than sugar, with some vegan options making the list.
I choose yogurt drinks that contain 40% (5 gm per bottle) less sugar for my grandchildren. The tiny containers (nano) have spill-proof lids and come in many flavours. My grandkids all love them.
Candida or Yeast Infections
Do you suffer from repeated yeast infections? Sugar in your diet may be to blame because yeast feeds on sugar, wreaking havoc on your digestive and blood systems.
Mood swings, lethargy, fatigue, bloating, joint pain, sugar cravings, eczema or rashes, weight gain, and recurrent yeast (urinary tract) infections, and inconsistent bathroom habits (diarrhea/constipation) can all be attributed to excessive sugar (and yeast production) in your diet.
While bananas and mango contain digestive enzymes, they also contain a high amount of natural sugars, so beware of consuming too much of them. So do these foods:
gluten containing grains like wheat, rye, barley and spelt.
deli meats and farm-raised fish.
refined oils and fats such as canola, soybean, and sunflower oils or margarine.
Olestra, a Dangerous Fat Substitute
Another dangerous ingredient in many so-called “light” convenience foods is olestra (AKA olean), a fat substitute advertised to improve the healthiness of these foods with their fat-free claim. So dangerous in fact, olestra has been banned in many countries, since it was subsequently discovered to increase weight gain and gastrointestinal problems in its consumers.
That’s because our bodies are not equipped to identify fat substitutes or preservatives, so store the calories as fat instead of converting them to useable energy.
Lifestyle Approach vs Dieting
A quote from the video above states:
the digestive system makes energy or fat, NOT both!
By controlling how you feed it, you are the only one that can decide whether your digestive system makes energy to burn or stores fat. Choose a lifestyle approach instead of a fad diet to help your digestive system work for you.
You should soon discover that this choice is much easier to maintain.
Grocery stores sell more bananas than any other fruit. My son told me that when working in the produce department of Loblaws years ago. However, the jury is out on whether they are good for you or not.
Some people believe that the high starch and natural sugar (fructose) content in bananas should be avoided when watching your weight. Others believe their high potassium, fiber, and protein content are good for muscles and energy levels before and after a workout. The potassium also helps regulate blood pressure levels.
So, who is right? Both, it just depends on your goals.
Avoid Bananas if Trying to Lose Weight
For example, if I am trying to lose a few pounds I avoid bananas, relying on healthy food choices with less starch and sugar levels. That’s because this sugar and starch cause a rise in insulin levels which in turn results in fat storage. Not good if you are battling those dreaded love handles or sporting a not-so-flat stomach. My diet motto however is “moderation is key.” I believe if you totally restrict things you like, you will tend to crave them more.
Bananas are very convenient for providing a quick energy boost and a light snack. They do not require refrigeration and transport easily. In fact, I resort to one often when working in mygardens because I can easily peel one without touching the edible portion with my not-so-clean fingers.
They also provide creaminess in my morning smoothies and make an excellent substitution for unhealthy fats in baked goods. I also found them effective at reducing morning sickness way back when. But only if almost green, the overripe ones made me gag.
Bananas are also particularly effective after a bout of intestinal spasms and diarrhea experienced when I eat something I am sensitive to. That is because bananas represent the B in the BRAT diet (with rice, apple sauce, and toast). That’s the one I learned about when my kids were young. All bland foods, these four staples were recommended to get systems back to normal after flu symptoms of diarrhea and vomiting.
For the same reason, bananas are reportedly good for curing hangovers.
In my humble opinion, bananas get a bad rap, with the pros far outweighing the cons. For that reason, there is always a bunch of bananas on my kitchen counter. Not to mention my grandchildren love them.