Healthy French Truffles

Valentine’s Day is coming up!

Going out for a romantic dinner with your significant other, cooking a gourmet dinner at home, and sending cards/gifts to each other… Valentine’s Day is a great opportunity to show the people around you how much you love them, and to feel how much you are loved!

These Healthy French Truffles are wonderful gifts for Valentine’s Day - they’re easy to make, delicious, and much healthier than many desserts!

Healthy French Truffles

INGREDIENTS:
• 20 pitted dates
• 2 tbsp coconut flakes
• 2 tbsp coconut oil
• 2 tbsp cocoa + some extra for coating

DIRECTIONS:
1. In a blender, add pitted dates, coconut flakes, coconut oil, and cocoa. Mix well.
2. Form bite-size balls.
3. Roll them in cocoa to cover.
4. Leave them in the refrigerator for an hour.

Pumpkin Pudding Parfait

Eating is not just an action to provide energy and nutrients for the body, but is also an enjoyable, exciting, pleasurable experience for many people. So even if desserts may not provide you a lot of nutrients, you don’t need to totally avoid it.

Making desserts at home is often a great way to reduce calories (use less butter/oil, or sugar) and add more nutrients (add fruits, etc.). Canned pumpkin purée (NOT canned pumpkin pie mix) is a great ingredient when making desserts at home. 1 cup of canned pumpkin is only 80 calories, contains more than an entire day's worth of vitamin A, and is also a good source of vitamin C! Try our super easy Pumpkin Pudding Parfait.

INGREDIENTS:
• 1 can pumpkin purée
• ¾ can low-fat evaporated milk
• 5.1 oz (1 ½ package of the 3.4 oz packages) instant vanilla pudding mix
• 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
• 1 12-oz box chocolate chip cookies
• Cocoa powder or cinnamon (optional)

DIRECTIONS:
1. In a blender or a food processor, combine pumpkin purée, evaporated milk, instant vanilla pudding mix, and pumpkin pie spice. Refrigerate for ~1 hour.
2. Layer the pudding mixture and chocolate chip cookies in a serving dish, cover it with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
3. Sprinkle some cocoa powder and/or cinnamon to taste.

Pumpkin Pudding Parfait

REFERENCES:
1. The Ohio State University. College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences. Chow Line: New from the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences. Oct. 30, 2015. https://cfaes.osu.edu/sites/cfaes_main/files/site-library/site-documents/News/chow_pumpkin_103015.pdf

Grapefruit Avocado Salad

It is commonly said that the average American gains a few pounds or more during the holiday season (Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day). However, there’s not much data to support this statement, and one study showed only 0.37 kg (0.81 lb) weight gain over the holiday season.

If you gained a lot more than that, that’s okay. New Year is a great time to start changing your eating habit. Avoid any extreme diets because even if you lose weight rapidly, you’ll likely gain it back once you go back to your regular diet. Instead, try to gradually change your habits to a healthier one, and aim for slow but sustainable weight loss.

Increasing your vegetable intake is a great way to eat healthier and have better control of your weight. Eating veggies doesn’t mean that you have to eat boring salad (lettuce + cucumber + tomatoes) everyday. Be creative and enjoy different flavors and textures in your salad - using fruits will add some sweetness and using seeds/nuts will add some crunch.

Grapefruit Avocado Salad

Here is a recipe for our Grapefruit Avocado Salad.

INGREDIENTS:
• 1 ruby grapefruit
• 4 banana shallots (or 2 small red onions)
• Juice of 1 lemon
• 2 Tbsp olive oil
• 1 tsp salt + some extra to massage the shallots
• Handful of salad leaves
• 2 precooked (boiled or roasted) beetroots
• 1 avocado
• 1 small can of butter beans
• Thyme (optional)

DIRECTIONS:
1. Supreme ruby grapefruit- save any juice you get while supreming.
2. Thinly slice banana shallots (or red onions), massage it with salt, and put it in a bowl. Add lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and any juice from the grapefruit. Set aside while preparing the rest of the ingredients.
3. Rinse and dry the salad leaves. Cut beetroots into 8 pieces. Slice avocado. Drain the canned butter beans.
4. On a large plate, start layering the salad leaves, butter beans, beetroots, avocado and grapefruit. Top it with the shallot dressing that you made and sprinkle with thyme.


REFERENCES:
1. Yanovski JA, Yanovski SZ, Sovik KN, Nguyen TT, O'Neil PM, and Sebring NG. A prospective study of holiday weight gain. N Engl J Med. 2000 Mar 23;342(12):861-7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4336296/

Our Favorite Smoothies

It’s almost the end of the year - did you accomplish your New Year’s Resolution?

The key to achieving your goals is to set specific goals. For example, instead of broad goals like “I will eat healthier in 2019,” your goal should be something like “Instead of skipping breakfast everyday, I will make smoothies at least 3 times a week.”

Smoothies

For those of you that always have hectic mornings or those that don’t have great appetite in the morning, smoothies are an easy, healthy, and delicious way to start your day!

Try one of our favorite recipes (from left top, clockwise):

Banana, Avocado and Papaya Smoothie
In a blender, mix 2 bananas, 1/2 avocado, 1/3 papaya, 2 cups almond milk and ice.

Raspberry Mandarin Smoothie
In a blender, mix 1/2 cup almond milk, 3 oz coconut yogurt, 1 tbsp honey, 3 oz frozen raspberries, 1 banana, juice of 2 mandarins, pinch of ground cardamom, and pinch of salt.

Blueberry Mango Smoothie
In a blender, mix 1 banana, 1/3 cup blueberries (fresh or frozen), 1/3 cup mango (fresh or frozen), 1/2 cup unsweetened Greek yogurt, 1 tsp bee pollen, 1 tsp coconut oil, and 1/3 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk

Spinach Banana Smoothie
In a blender, mix 1 ripe banana, 1 cup packed spinach, 1/2 cup Greek yogurt, 1 tsp coconut oil, 1 tsp bee pollen, and top it off with unsweetened vanilla almond milk (you can add more or less depending on how thick you like it).

Have a nice day!

Fruits

Homemade Hummus

Did you know that hummus is made of chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans? Studies show that people who eat chickpeas/hummus had higher intake of some key nutrients like vitamins and dietary fiber. Studies also show that chickpea/hummus consumption may be associated with better weight management and lower risk of cardiovascular disease.

Let’s make some homemade hummus today - it’s super easy!

Hummus

INGREDIENTS:
• 1 can chickpeas (drain and keep the liquid)
• 1 juiced lemon
• 3 tbsp tahini
• 2 garlic cloves
• 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
• 1/4 tsp sea salt
• ½ tsp ground cumin

DIRECTIONS:
1. Place chickpeas (you can save some to decorate on the top), lemon juice, tahini, garlic, olive oil, salt, and ground cumin in a food processor and process until smooth.
2. If the hummus is too thick, add the chickpea liquid, one tbsp at a time, until the desired consistency is reached.
3. Taste, adding more salt and lemon juice as needed.
4. Place in a bowl and drizzle with olive oil.

Hummus can be a healthy alternative for a lot of things - replace mayonnaise in your sandwich, cheese on your cracker, or creamy dip for your veggie sticks. Our favorite dish is spreading the hummus on cucumber slices and topping it with half a sun-dried tomato, sunflower seeds and paprika!

Hummus

REFERENCES:
1. Wallace TC, Murray R, and Zelman KM. The Nutritional Value and Health Benefits of Chickpeas and Hummus. Nutrients. 2016 Nov 29;8(12). pii: E766. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5188421/
2. O’Neil CE, Nicklas TA, and Fulgoni III VL. Chickpeas and Hummus are associated with Better Nutrient Intake, Diet Quality, and Levels of Some Cardiovascular Risk Factors: National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2003-2010. J Nutr Food Sci 2014, 4:1. https://www.omicsonline.org/chickpeas-and-hummus-are-associated-with-better-nutrient-intake-diet-quality-and-levels-of-some-cardiovascular-risk-factors-national-health-and-nutrition-examination-survey-2155-9600.1000254.pdf

Sweet Potato Pancakes

Happy (almost) Thanksgiving!

Looking for a delicious festive breakfast? Try these sweet potato pancakes!

Sweet Potato Pancakes

INGREDIENTS:
• 1 large sweet potato (steamed and mashed)
• 2 eggs
• 1/3 cup almond milk
• 1/4 tsp salt
• 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
• 1 tbsp butter
• coconut yogurt, cinnamon, pumpkin seeds and maple syrup to taste

DIRECTIONS:
1. Mix together the mashed sweet potato, eggs, almond milk, salt, and ground cinnamon.
2. Over medium heat, melt butter and cook the sweet potato pancakes for approximately 2 minutes per side (don’t flip them too soon so that they don't break!)
3. Top them off with some coconut yogurt, cinnamon, pumpkin seeds and maple syrup.

Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes are not only delicious, but are also one of the best sources of beta-carotene, which are converted into vitamin A in our body. Vitamin A protects body from infections, supports cell growth, and is involved in eye and skin health.

Enjoy sweet potatoes for meals and snacks - the easiest way to cook them is to just rinse and bake in an oven until they are soft. You’ll be surprised how sweet they are without having to add any sugar :)


REFERENCES:
1. California Department of Public Health, Network for a Healthy California. Harvest of the Month. 2010. http://harvestofthemonth.cdph.ca.gov/documents/Winter/SweetPotatoes/Sweet%20Potatoes%20-%20Educator%27s%20Newsletter_Final.pdf

Carrot & Apple Soup

On a freezing day, coming back from a long day of work, how does a nice warm cup of soup sound?

Here is a simple, delicious soup recipe that can be made ahead to make your week easier!

Carrot & Apple Soup

INGREDIENTS:
• 1 onion (diced)
• 2 Tbsp olive oil
• 3 garlic cloves (minced)
• 8 cups vegetable broth
• 1 lb carrots (ends chopped off and sliced into 1/4 inch thick discs)
• 2 apples (peeled, cored, and diced)
• 2 tsp turmeric
• 2 tsp cinnamon
• 1 tsp paprika
• 1/2 tsp salt
• milk or cream, fresh herbs (optional)

DIRECTIONS:
1. Sautée the diced onion in olive oil.
2. Once onions are translucent, add in the minced garlic cloves and sautée for another 1-2 minutes.
3. Add in vegetable broth and the sliced carrots. Simmer for about 15 minutes, until carrots are tender.
4. Add in the diced apples, turmeric, cinnamon, paprika, and salt. Simmer for about 5 minutes, until apples are tender.
5. Using an immersion (or regular) blender, blend the soup until smooth.
6. Top with a splash of milk or cream and fresh herbs.

Carrots

Carrots contain vitamins, minerals, carotenoids, flavonoids, etc. Because of these nutrients, carrots may be beneficial in preventing cancer and enhancing your immune system. There are also some reports suggesting their effects in preventing diabetes, and lowering cholesterol and blood pressure.

Apples

How about apples? There’s a saying “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” so they must be really healthy, right?

Unfortunately, a clinical study that compared people that typically ate at least 1 small apple a day vs. those who didn’t concluded that there was no evidence that “an apple a day keeps the doctor away.”

However, many studies show an association between eating apples and a decreased risk of chronic diseases like cardiovascular disease, cancer, and asthma. Apples contain various phytochemicals, many of which have antioxidant and/or anticancer functions.


REFERENCES:
1. Silva Dias, J.C. (2014) Nutritional and Health Benefits of Carrots and Their Seed Extracts. Food and Nutrition Sciences. 2014. 5;2147-2156. http://file.scirp.org/pdf/FNS_2014120411490798.pdf
2. Davis MA, Bynum JP, Sirovich BE. Association between apple consumption and physician visits: appealing the conventional wisdom that an apple a day keeps the doctor away. JAMA Intern Med. 2015 May;175(5):777-83. https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamainternalmedicine/fullarticle/2210883
3. Boyer J and Liu RH. Apple phytochemicals and their health benefits. Nutr J. 2004 May 12;3:5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC442131/pdf/1475-2891-3-5.pdf

Roasted Pumpkin Salad

Halloween is coming up - what are you going to be this year?

Pumpkin's beautiful bright color comes from an antioxidant called beta-carotene. Diets high in foods with beta-carotene may be associated lower risk of certain types of cancer and heart diseases.

How about some Roasted Pumpkin Salad for dinner today? It’s full of different flavors and textures.

Roasted Pumpkin Salad

INGREDIENTS: (2 servings)
• 1 lb 5 oz cubed pumpkin
• 3 tbsp olive oil
• 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
• 1 tbsp granulated sugar
• 1/2 tsp chili flakes
• Dash of salt and pepper
• 4 handfuls of spinach leaves
• 2 oz pistachios
• 3 oz feta
• Pomegranate seeds (optional)

DIRECTIONS:
1. Mix the pumpkin with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, granulated sugar, chili flakes, salt and pepper. Place them in a baking tray and bake at 390º F for 30 minutes.
2. Rinse and dry the spinach leaves. Place spinach in a bowl, add roasted pumpkin, and top it with pistachios and feta.
3. Sprinkle some pomegranate seeds for a crunch (optional).

Halloween

REFERENCES:
California Department of Public Health. Harvest of the Month. Published: 2012. Accessed: Sep 13, 2018. http://harvestofthemonth.cdph.ca.gov/documents/Fall/Pumpkin/Pumpkins%20-%20Educator%27s%20Newsletter.pdf

Salmon Crêpe

It’s almost the weekend!

What is your favorite brunch menu? Pancakes, waffles, omelets… It’s hard to just pick one, but one of our favorites is bagel + smoked salmon + cream cheese! If you also LOVE this combination, try our Salmon Crêpe. It tastes just as good (if not better!), and looks a little fancier to brighten up your weekend.

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INGREDIENTS:
• 1 egg
• 1 tbsp sugar
• 1/4 tsp salt
• 1 cup milk
• 3/4 cup flour
• 1/2 tsp baking powder
• 2 tbsp vegetable oil
• Smoked salmon
• Cream cheese

DIRECTIONS:
1. Add the egg, sugar, salt, milk, flour, and baking powder into a blender and blend until smooth. Wait for 20 minutes, then add vegetable oil. Mix well.
2. Heat a large non-stick pan over medium-high heat. Slowly pour a little scoop of the batter while holding pan off the heat and swirl the batter in a circular motion to get a thin layer. Cook for about 1 1/2 minutes or until loosened from the bottom of the pan and lightly browned. Flip the crepe and cook for another minute until lightly browned. Remove from pan and place on a plate and continue the process until the batter is gone.
3. To assemble the crepes, spread a small amount of cream cheese and some smoked salmon. Roll the crepe and cut into 3 parts. Enjoy!

Salmon is a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, a type of fat that has been associated with lower risk of cardiovascular and other diseases.

If you have some leftover smoked salmon, put it on a toast or rice cracker with some mashed avocado - a super easy breakfast/snack recipe!

Salmon Avocado

Green Quinoa Salad

Preparing your lunch and/or dinner on weekdays is not an easy task, but it’s definitely worth it. It is so much easier to control your weight when you’re preparing your own meals. Here’s an easy healthy recipe for a weekday meal – Green Quinoa Salad.

Green Quinoa Salad

INGREDIENTS (serves 4):
• 1 cup dry quinoa
• 3.5 oz edamame (frozen or fresh)
• 3.5 oz peas (frozen or fresh)
• 12 asparagus spears
• 1 carrot
• Grated zest and juice of half lemon
• 3 tbsp olive oil
• 1 tbsp honey
• 1/2 tbsp balsamic vinegar.
• Handful of coriander
• Salt and pepper

DIRECTIONS:
1. Cook the dry quinoa as per package instructions and spread it on a wide plate to cool.
2. Boil edamame and peas for 4 minutes.
3. Cut asparagus spears in half, blanch for 2 minutes, and leave to cool.
4. Using a vegetable peeler, shave carrot into ribbons.
5. In a small bowl, make the dressing by mixing grated zest and juice of lemon, olive oil, honey, and balsamic vinegar.
6. In a separate bowl, mix the quinoa, vegetables, and coriander (chopped), add the dressing, and sprinkle salt and pepper to taste.

Quinoa contains higher amounts of protein than other grains (~8g protein per 1 cup cooked quinoa), and unlike some plant protein, it is a complete protein (i.e. contains all 9 essential amino acids). It is also rich in fiber, manganese, phosphorus, magnesium, folate, and thiamine.

Quinoa can be used as a substitute for rice and pasta in many dishes. You can also try making a breakfast quinoa cereal with some fruits and cinnamon!

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REFERENCES:
Harvard School of Public Health. The Nutrition Source: Quinoa. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/quinoa/. Accessed Aug 9, 2018.

Whole Wheat Pancake with Applesauce

Looking forward to the weekend?

LOVE going out to brunch and getting those pancakes?

Eating out and experimenting different restaurants is definitely fun, but making your own pancakes from scratch is also a lot of fun! It's also a great way to make it healthier so you don't have to feel guilty afterwards. 😊

Whole wheat pancake with applesauce

Try our Whole Wheat Pancake with Applesauce.

INGREDIENTS (~10 pancakes):
• 1 cup and 2 Tbsp whole wheat flour
• 2 tsp baking powder
• 1/4 tsp salt
• 1 1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
• 1 tbsp honey
• 6 tbsp applesauce
• 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
• Oil or butter for the pan
• Fresh seasonal fruits

DIRECTIONS:
1. Mix the whole wheat flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl.
2. Add unsweetened almond milk, honey, applesauce and vanilla extract to the bowl. Mix to incorporate.
3. Heat a skillet over medium heat. Brush a bit of oil or butter and cook the batter until bubbles form. Flip and cook the other side.
4. Serve them with fresh seasonal fruits and some extra drizzles of honey.

applesauce

In this recipe, applesauce is the secret ingredient, preventing the pancake from being dry without having to add extra fat/oil. This secret tip works for many other recipes - when you're baking a muffin or a cake, try replacing 1/3 to half the fat/oil with applesauce.

Roasted Carrots with Ricotta Cheese

Looking for a delicious side dish to impress your friends or significant other with? Try our Roasted Carrots with Ricotta Cheese. You don't need to buy any fancy ingredients, but the dish will still be delicious and impressive!

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INGREDIENTS:
• 1 whole bunch of carrots
• Olive oil (enough to coat carrots + 1 tsp)
• 1/2 tsp salt
• 1/4 tsp pepper
• 1/4 cup pine nuts or silvered almonds
• 1/2 cup low-fat ricotta cheese
• Balsamic vinegar (to taste)

DIRECTIONS:
1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
2. Chop the stems off the carrots and lay on a baking sheet.
3. Drizzle with just enough olive oil to coat the carrots. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
4. Roast for 20-30 minutes in the oven until carrots are browned.
5. While the carrots roast, in a small frying pan, add in olive oil and pine nuts (or slivered almonds).
6. Roast in the frying pan for 2-3 minutes until the nuts are lightly toasted.
7. On a serving plate, spread the ricotta cheese. Layer the roasted carrots on top, and then top with toasted pine nuts. If desired, add a drizzle of balsamic vinegar on top. Enjoy!

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Carrots contain vitamins, minerals, carotenoids, and flavonoids that may prevent cancer and enhance immune system. They are available all year round, inexpensive, and lasts longer than most veggies so it's a great vegetable to always have in stock. 


REFERENCES:
1. João Carlos da Silva Dias. Nutritional and Health Benefits of Carrots and Their Seed Extracts. Food and Nutrition Sciences, 2014, 5, 2147-2156. http://file.scirp.org/pdf/FNS_2014120411490798.pdf

Hazelnuts & Basil Pesto

Nuts may be calorie dense, but they are rich in healthy unsaturated fat and plant protein. They also contain vitamin E, folic acid, potassium, fiber, and various other micronutrients and phytochemicals. Eating more nuts have been associated with lower risk of heart disease. Some studies also suggest beneficial effects on hypertension, diabetes, cancer, etc. 

A smart way to incorporate nuts into your diet is replacing chips and other unhealthy snacks with nuts. That way, you're not adding extra calories to your total daily intake, but can get all the healthy benefits from nuts.

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Another way to increase your nut intake is to incorporate them into your meals. Sprinkling them onto your salad or roasted veggies is an easy way. You can also try our Hazelnut & Basil Pesto for dinner. It's super easy and great for a meatless night. 

INGREDIENTS:
• 1 cup dry couscous
• ~3 oz basil
• 3 cloves garlic
• ~3.5 oz hazelnuts
• 3 Tbs olive oil
• 1 Tbs lemon juice
• Salt to taste

DIRECTIONS:
1. Cook couscous as per packet instructions (makes 2 cups).
2. In a food processor, add basil, garlic cloves, hazelnuts, olive oil, lemon juice and salt to taste. Pulse several times.
3. Incorporate the pesto with the cooked couscous.
4. Serve it with baked sweet potato, avocado and pomegranate seeds or any side veggies you like!
*The pesto-couscous will sit perfectly in the fridge for a few days, ready for a lunch on the go!

basil and hazelnut pesto

REFERENCES: 
1. Ros E. Health benefits of nut consumption. Nutrients. 2010 Jul;2(7):652-82.  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3257681/pdf/nutrients-02-00652.pdf
2. Nuts for the Heart. Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health Web site. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/nuts-for-the-heart/. Accessed May 4, 2018.

Turmeric Salmon

Everyday, we hear more and more stories about how good fish is for our health. Scientific studies have shown that consumption of fish and/or a type of fat in fish (called omega-3 fatty acids) is associated with improved body composition, cardiovascular health, and mental and cognitive status. 

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You might think cooking fish is difficult, but it's really easy - the key is to get fresh fish and avoid overcooking. Here is a recipe for perfectly cooked Turmeric Salmon:

INGREDIENTS:
• Two 4-ounce salmon steaks
• 1 tbsp coconut oil
• 1/2 tsp turmeric
• 1/4 tsp paprika
• dash of cayenne pepper
• dash of salt and black pepper
• 2 slices of lemon

DIRECTIONS:
1. Place two 4-ounce salmon steaks on separate pieces of parchment paper.
2. Lather each salmon steak in 1 Tbsp of coconut oil.
3. Sprinkle each salmon steak with 1/2 tsp turmeric, 1/4 tsp paprika, a dash of cayenne pepper, and a dash of kosher salt and black pepper.
4. Top each salmon steak with a slice of lemon.
5. Fold the parchment paper around each piece of salmon so that a small envelope is created (for more info on how to wrap the salmon: search "salmon en papillote").
6. Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes.

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Using the spices not only add flavors to the salmon, but may also add health benefits! For example, turmeric has been traditionally used for digestive health and some clinical studies also suggest its benefits. 

REFERENCES:
1. Fish or n3-PUFA intake and body composition: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Obes Rev. 2014 Aug;15(8):657-65. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24891155
2. Fish consumption and risk of all-cause and cardiovascular mortality: a dose-response meta-analysis of prospective observational studies. Public Health Nutr. 2018 May;21(7):1297-1306. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29317009
3. Association between fish consumption and risk of dementia: a new study from China and a systematic literature review and meta-analysis. Public Health Nutr. 2018 Mar 19:1-12. doi: 10.1017/S136898001800037X. [Epub ahead of print] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29551101
4. Fish consumption and depression in Korean adults: the Korea National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 2013-2015. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2018 Jan 17. doi: 10.1038/s41430-017-0083-9. [Epub ahead of print] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29339828
5. Efficacy of turmeric in the treatment of digestive disorders: a systematic review and meta-analysis protocol. Syst Rev. 2014 Jun 28;3:71. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24973984

Beet Linguine

Beet's dark red color is not only a great addition to various dishes, but it may also have health benefits! Its pigment called betalain is thought to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects, and may be associated with lower risk of diseases.

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Not sure how to cook them? Try our Beet Linguine.

INGREDIENTS:
• 2/3 pound raw beets
• 1 pound chicken breast
• Salt and pepper
• 1 Tbsp. of coconut oil
• 1 tsp salt
• 10 ounces of linguine
• 1 pound baby spinach
• Grated Parmigiano cheese (optional)
• Olive oil (optional)

DIRECTIONS:
1. Preheat oven to 400-425º F.
2. Peel beets, slice them into ~1/4 inch thickness, and cook them in the preheated oven for 20-30 minutes.
3. Cut chicken breasts into chunks and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook in a frying pan with coconut oil (3-5 minutes on each side).
4. Fill 2/3 of a large pot with water, add 1 tsp salt, and boil.
5. Cook linguine for 5-7 minutes and drain.
6. Mix linguine with baby spinach, beets, and chicken.
7. Add Parmigiano cheese and olive oil to your preference and enjoy!

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REFERENCES:
1. Tom Clifford, Glyn Howatson, Daniel J. West, and Emma J. Stevenson. The Potential Benefits of Red Beetroot Supplementation in Health and Disease. Nutrients. 2015 Apr; 7(4): 2801–2822. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4425174/

Peanut Butter Oat Balls

Having issues with your cholesterol? Try oats!

Whole grains are higher in fiber and overall better for health compared to refined grain. Furthermore, studies show that among the whole grains, oats are the most effective in lowering cholesterol.

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Oats are a good source of plan protein, fiber, thiamine, and iron. 

 
*Data from the Asken Diet app

*Data from the Asken Diet app

 

Having a bowl of oatmeal for breakfast is an easy way to incorporate oats into your diet, but if you want other ways to get more oats, try our delicious Peanut Butter Oat Balls for a snack!

INGREDIENTS:
• 1 cup rolled oats
• 1/2 cup natural peanut butter
• 1/4 cup sunflower seeds
• 1/4 cup dark chocolate chips or cacao nibs
• 1/4 cup honey or agave syrup
• 1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

DIRECTIONS:
1. In a large bowl, simply combine all the ingredients except for the shredded coconut
2. Once mixed, roll the dough into small ball shapes
3. Cover each ball in unsweetened shredded coconut
4. Cool in the fridge for 20 minutes, then serve

Peanut Butter Oat Balls

REFERENCES:
1. Harvard Medical School. Harvard Heart Letter: Whole-grain oats: Best bet for lowering cholesterol. Harvard Health Publications Web site. https://www.health.harvard.edu/heart-health/research-were-watching-whole-grain-oats-best-bet-for-lowering-cholesterol. Published: October, 2015. Accessed September 8, 2017.

Mashed Cauliflower (with Shrimp)

Cauliflower is an excellent source of vitamin C and also contains other nutrients like vitamin K, folate, and potassium. It belongs to a group called cruciferous vegetables, which are thought to be helpful in preventing cancer.

 
*Data from the Asken Diet app

*Data from the Asken Diet app

 

The most common cauliflower has white flower buds, but there are other varieties that are orange or purple. There is also a light green variety called broccoflower, which is a cross between broccoli and cauliflower.

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Because cauliflower is low in calories and fat, it has been used as a substitute of various foods, such as cauliflower rice and cauliflower pizza crust. How about some mashed cauliflower as a healthy alternative to more starch-filled mashed potatoes?

INGREDIENTS:
• 1 minced shallot
• 1 Tbsp of butter
• 10 ounces of cauliflower rice
• 1 cup of vegetable broth

DIRECTIONS:
1. In a medium saucepan, sautée one minced shallot in 1 Tbsp of butter
2. Once translucent, add in 10 ounces of cauliflower rice. Sautée for approximately 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly
3. Add in 1 cup of vegetable broth and cook for 8-10 minutes, until cauliflower is tender
4. Using an immersion blender, mash the cooked cauliflower until it reaches a smooth, creamy consistency
5. Serve with grilled shrimp or salmon

Mashed Cauliflower

REFERENCES:
1. University of the District of Columbia, Center for Nutrition, Diet and Health. Cauliflower. University of the District of Columbia Website. https://www.udc.edu/docs/causes/online/cauliflowersm.pdf. Accessed September 8, 2017.

Pitaya Smoothie

Dragon fruit, also known as red pitaya, is native to tropical forest regions of Mexico and Central/South America. Recently, it is gaining popularity worldwide due to its vibrant color and antioxidant property. Dragon fruit contains several antioxidants like betalains, polyphenols and ascorbic acid.

Animal studies suggest that dragon fruit may have some health benefits, such as increasing oxidative defense and promoting would healing.

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If you are always busy in the mornings, try making smoothies for breakfast. Smoothies are an easy nutrient-packed way to start the day!

INGREDIENTS:
• 1 banana
• 1 packet of puréed pitaya (Açaí can be used as an alternative)
• 1 cup of plain Greek yogurt
• 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
• 1/2 tsp of bee pollen
• (For topping: Sliced banana, shredded coconut, bee pollen)

DIRECTIONS:
1. Blend banana, puréed pitaya, yogurt, almond milk, and bee pollen
2. Top with some sliced banana, shredded coconut, bee pollen, or whatever else you choose

Pitaya Smoothie

REFERENCES:
1. Anand Swarup KR, Sattar MA, Abdullah NA, et al. Effect of dragon fruit extract on oxidative stress and aortic stiffness in streptozotocin-induced diabetes in rats. Pharmacognosy Res. 2010 Jan-Feb; 2(1): 31–35. doi: 10.4103/0974-8490.60582.

Lentil Soup

Even if you are not a vegetarian, it may not be a bad idea to have occasional meatless nights.

Recent study shows that high plant protein intake was associated with lower overall and cardiovascular death risks while high animal protein intake was associated with increased cardiovascular death.

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As we reach the end of the summer, it’s time to start enjoying warm soups! How about trying some plant-protein filled soups like lentil soup?

Lentils are a good source of not only plant-protein, but also complex carbohydrate, thiamine, iron, and other nutrients. 

INGREDIENTS:
• 1 diced onion
• 1 Tbsp butter
• 1/2 cup red lentils
• 2 cups vegetable broth
• 2 Tbsp of fresh chopped parsley
• Dash of pepper
• 1/4 cup milk or almond milk

DIRECTIONS:
1. In a large pot, cook the onion in butter until it's translucent, but not browned
2. Add red lentils and vegetable broth. Simmer the broth until the lentils are cooked through (if the soup is too thick, add more broth as necessary)
3. Add in fresh chopped parsley and a dash of pepper
4. To make the soup smoother, use an immersion blender and blend until the desired consistency is reached
5. To top it off, mix in milk or almond milk. Serve and enjoy

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REFERENCES:
1. Song M, Fung TT, Hu FB, et al. Association of Animal and Plant Protein Intake With All-Cause and Cause-Specific Mortality. JAMA Intern Med. 2016 Oct 1;176(10):1453-1463. doi: 10.1001/jamainternmed.2016.4182.
2. USAID. Lentils Commodity Fact Sheet. USAID Web site. https://www.usaid.gov/what-we-do/agriculture-and-food-security/food-assistance/resources/lentils-commodity-fact-sheet. Updated: November 14, 2016. Accessed September 8, 2017.

Avocado Smoothie

Whether it's in a salad, on a toast, or as a guacamole, who doesn't LOVE avocados?

Avocado

Some people are concerned that it's high in calories, but 1/2 avocado is 76 calories -  lower than 1 tablespoon of butter (~100 calories).

And the fatty acid composition of avocado is much healthier than butter! Majority of the fat contained in avocado is a type of fat called monounsaturated fatty acids. 

With this healthy fat and other nutrients, avocado consumption has been associated with cardiovascular health and healthy aging. 

 

Avocado goes well with pretty much anything, but if you're looking for something different, how about trying our creamy Avocado Smoothie?

INGREDIENTS:
• 1/2 avocado
• 1 banana
• 1/2 cup packed spinach
• 1/2 cup Greek yogurt
• 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
• 1 Tbsp coconut oil
• 1 tsp flax seed
• 1 tsp bee pollen

DIRECTIONS:
1. Add all the ingredients in a blender
2. Blend until smooth
3. Enjoy it with a spoon (this smoothie comes out extra creamy and is often difficult to drink with a straw)


REFERENCES:
1. United States Department of Agriculture. Basic Report: 09038, Avocados, raw, California. National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference Release 28. https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/2157
2. United States Department of Agriculture. Basic Report:  01001, Butter, salted. National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference Release. https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/1
3. Mark L. Dreher and Adrienne J. Davenport. Hass Avocado Composition and Potential Health Effects. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2013 May; 53(7): 738–750. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3664913/