Food

Food for Thought:

Ch-ch-ch-chia! I was introduced to the wonderful world of chia seeds about four years ago. At the time, I was living and studying in England, while simultaneously suffering through a long, long bout of constipation. A lovely herbalist friend (and mentor) of mine suggested consuming chia seeds to get my bowels back on track. 48 hours and a few servings of chia seeds later, and my poops were a movin’ and a groovin’. I can remember how elated I was. I sent her an email almost instantaneously; the subject was something along the lines of: I pooped! I pooped! I pooped!

Four years later, I’m now living in Vietnam and still very much embracing the mighty seeds. In fact, they have become a trusted travel companion of mine, and I can’t hit the road for long without ‘em.

Alright, enough of my scoop on poop. So, what does the science have to say about these little super seeds?

Well, not only are chia seeds are rich in protein, fiber, and omega-3s. They also contain phosphorus, calcium, zinc, potassium, and a slew of other important minerals. But most importantly, chia seeds are wonderful for the gut for a few reasons. First off, they are full of dietary fiber, which helps promote regularity and healthy stools. Plus, the soluble fiber in chia seeds can act as a prebiotic, which supports the growth of good bacteria in the gut. Chia seeds also absorb a considerable amount of water when in the digestive track, often making stools softer and easier to pass.

Full of omega-3 fatty acids, chia seeds are also wonderful for the brain. Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are essential fatty acids—meaning they are essential for health, AND you need to consume them because the body can’t make them on its own. Moreover, the body uses these fatty acids to make DHA, which is essential to brain function. Remember, the brain is 60 percent fat. Getting adequate fatty acid (omega-3 and omega-6’s) intake is crucial to the maintenance of brain health and mental performance.

Ch-ch-ch-cheers to chia!

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Cinnamon Chia Pudding

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Cinnamon Chia Pudding

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup full fat coconut milk
  • ½ cup warm water
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • ½ tbsp. cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp. honey
  • 2.5 tbsp. chia seeds

Whisk everything together, until seeds are thoroughly coated. Store in an airtight container in fridge. Let sit for thirty minutes and enjoy! (The longer it sits, the more liquid the seeds will absorb and the thicker the pudding will become.)

Note: You can also swap the cinnamon for 2 tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa powder and a pinch of salt to have a richer, chocolate chia pudding instead. This can also double as a dessert option.

Food For Thought:

You’ll most likely notice that I often incorporate coconut oil in my recipes, especially when it comes to dessert. But not too long ago, the AHA released some pretty controversial claims regarding the overall “health and safety” of coconut oil. Ah yes, the good ‘ol AHA—the “nation’s oldest and largest voluntary organization dedicated to fighting heart disease”—you know, the same one that’s sponsored by Pfizer, Monsanto, Splenda, and even Subway. Yeah, that one.

According to the report, the AHA states that “coconut oil increases LDL cholesterol, a cause of cardiovascular disease, and has no known offsetting favorable effects.”

Now while there is some truth to some of what the report had to say, there are also a lot of missing pieces. And well-respected leaders in the wellness realm have since been speaking up and out against the AHA’s report.

While coconut oil can raise LDL levels, it can also raise HDL, or “good cholesterol” levels too. Additionally, according to the AHA report, increased cholesterol levels increase the risk for heart disease. But a study conducted in Japan found that low levels—not high—of cholesterol can actually increase the risk for mortality. And yet another study found that coconut oil supplementation does not cause dyslipidemia—i.e. high levels of “bad cholesterol.” It does, however, help to reduce abdominal obesity. What the AHA report completely fails to address is the importance of HDL to LDL ratios. Not to mention the importance of cholesterol in the body. As put by Dr. David Perlmutter, “cholesterol is a fundamental part of every cell membrane in the body, including, most importantly, the membranes of your brain cells.”

Perhaps the real issue here is that everyone is too focused on making a culprit out of cholesterol, when the real cause for concern is inflammation.

So, for now, I will continue to believe in the health benefits of moderate—2-3 tbsp. per day—coconut oil consumption.

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Chocolate Fat Bombs

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup coconut oil *The coconut oil needs to be slightly cool and firm before mixing. If the oil is too warm, the honey will separate when put into the freezer. And you’ll be left with a sticky, goopy mess on the bottom of a not-so-sweet treat.
  • ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 4 tbsp. honey
  • ½ tsp. vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Pour into silicone molds (aim for about 10 individual treats) and place in freezer until set—about 20 minutes. Pop out of molds. Store in airtight container in the fridge, and enjoy throughout the week.

Food for Thought:

Ah eggs—incredible, edible eggs. I love eggs. And for years now, they have been a huge staple in my diet. But my affinity for yolks-and-all eggs has come with a lot of flack over the years.

“It’s really not good for you to be eating so many eggs.”

“Your cholesterol levels are probably through the roof!”

“Eggs are bad for you.”

And one of my all-time favorites…

“You know, eating all those eggs is like the equivalent of smoking a pack of cigarettes.”

The sad truth is that all of these attacks on eggs are just yet another off-shoot of the “cholesterol war” American physicians have been at for years. The same war that is keeping people ill-informed, and all together, well, ill.

Once again, let’s remind ourselves that cholesterol is indeed a very necessary component of our overall health. A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found absolutely no correlation between eggs and the risk for coronary artery disease. What the researchers did find, however, was that eggs were full of beneficial compounds, such as lutein and zeaxanthin. These compounds reduce inflammation throughout the body and mitigate damage caused by free radicals.

So let’s stop prescribing to the cholesterol crisis and circle back around to the body’s real enemy: inflammation.

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Salmon Scramble

Ingredients:

  • 8 oz. salmon
  • 8 eggs
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 tbsp. fresh dill, chopped
  • ½ lime, juiced
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • ¼ tsp. chili powder

Coat the salmon fillet with lime juice, salt, pepper, and chili powder. Bake in the oven, for about 10-15 minutes at 350F. Remove salmon from oven. Let cool for a few minutes, and then break apart into small chunks. Coat a frying pan with olive oil. Add in the onions, and sauté until the onions begin to turn translucent. Reduce heat to low. Whisk the eggs in a bowl. Add salt and pepper if desired. Pour egg mixture into pan, and let cook for a minute or two until the eggs just begin to firm. Add in the salmon and fresh dill. Scramble everything together and let cook for a few more minutes until the eggs are set. Serve and enjoy!

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Quick Veggie Scramble

Ingredients:

  • 3 eggs
  • 1 small tomato, chopped
  • ½ medium onion, chopped
  • 1 handful of spinach *Fresh dill is another great option too!
  • 1-2 tbsp. olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Coat a frying pan with oil. Toss in onions and sauté for a minute. Toss in tomato and spinach. Season with salt and pepper. Quickly whisk eggs in a bowl, and pour into the pan, coating the veggies. Cook on low for a few minutes, lightly scrambling until eggs reach desired consistency. Add a bit more salt and pepper if you wish, and enjoy!