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Ultimate Guide To The Avocado: Supplement, Food & Nutrition Facts



Avocados are a stone fruit with a creamy texture that grow in warm climates. Their potential health benefits include improving digestion, decreasing risk of depression, and protection against cancer.
Also known as an alligator pear or butter fruit, the versatile avocado is the only fruit that provides a substantial amount of healthy monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA). Avocados are a naturally nutrient-dense food and contain nearly 20 vitamins and minerals.

Here are a range of health benefits of the Avocado

1. Avocados are nutrient rich
According to the USDA National Nutrient Database, one serving (one-fifth of an avocado, approximately 40 grams) contains: Avocado stoned and destoned, Avocados are rich in vitamins and minerals, 64 calories
almost 6 grams of fat, 3.4 grams of carbohydrate, less than a gram of sugar, almost 3 grams of fiber.

Avocados are a great source of vitamins C, E, K, and B-6, as well as riboflavin, niacin, folate, pantothenic acid, magnesium, and potassium. They also provide lutein, beta-carotene, and omega-3 fatty acids.

Although most of the calories in an avocado come from fat, don't shy away! Avocados are full of healthy, beneficial fats that help to keep you full and satiated. When you consume fat, your brain receives a signal to turn off your appetite. Eating fat slows the breakdown of carbohydrates, which helps to keep sugar levels in the blood stable.

Fat is essential for every single cell in the body. Eating healthy fats supports skin health, enhances the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients, and may even help boost the immune system.



2. Healthy for the heart
Avocados contain 25 milligrams per ounce of a natural plant sterol called beta-sitosterol. Regular consumption of beta-sitosterol and other plant sterols has been seen to help maintain healthy cholesterol levels.

3. Great for vision
Avocados contain lutein and zeaxanthin, two phytochemicals that are especially concentrated in the tissues in the eyes where they provide antioxidant protection to help minimize damage, including from ultraviolet light.

As the monounsaturated fatty acids in avocados also support the absorption of other beneficial fat-soluble antioxidants, such as beta-carotene, adding avocados to your diet may help to reduce the risk of developing age-related macular degeneration.

4. Osteoporosis prevention
Vitamin K is essential for bone health. Half of an avocado provides approximately 25 percent of the daily recommended intake of vitamin K. This nutrient is often overlooked but is essential for bone health.

Vitamin K is often overshadowed by calcium and vitamin D when thinking of nutrients important for maintaining healthy bones, however, eating a diet with adequate vitamin K can support bone health by increasing calcium absorption and reducing urinary excretion of calcium.

5. Cancer
Adequate intake of folate from food has shown promise in protecting against colon, stomach, pancreatic, and cervical cancers.

Although the mechanism behind this apparent reduction in risk is currently unknown, researchers believe that folate protects against undesirable mutations in DNA and RNA during cell division.

Avocados may even have a role to play in cancer treatment, with some research finding that phytochemicals extracted from avocado can selectively inhibit the growth of precancerous and cancerous cells and cause the death of cancer cells, while encouraging the proliferation of immune system cells called lymphocytes.

These phytochemicals have also been shown to decrease chromosomal damage caused by cyclophosphamide, a chemotherapy drug.

6. Healthy babies
baby breast-feeding, Folate is also known as folic acid. Folate is extremely important for a healthy pregnancy. Adequate intake reduces the risk of miscarriage and neural tube defects.

Recent research from McGill University found a 30 percent higher incidence of a variety of birth defects in baby mice conceived using sperm from mice with a folate deficiency compared with mice conceived using sperm from mice with adequate folate levels.

7. Lower risk of depression
Foods containing high levels of folate may help to decrease the risk of depression because folate helps to prevent the build-up of homocysteine, a substance that can impair circulation and delivery of nutrients to the brain.

Excess homocysteine can also interfere with the production of serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine, which regulate mood, sleep, and appetite.

8. Improved digestion
Despite its creamy texture, an avocado is actually high in fiber with approximately 6-7 grams per half fruit.

Eating foods with natural fiber can help prevent constipation, maintain a healthy digestive tract, and lower the risk of colon cancer.

9. Natural detoxification
Adequate fiber promotes regular bowel movements, which are crucial for the daily excretion of toxins through the bile and stool.

Recent studies have shown that dietary fiber may also play a role in regulating the immune system and inflammation.

10. Osteoporosis treatment
Substances called saponins, found in avocados, soy and some other plant foods, are associated with relief of symptoms in knee osteoarthritis, with further research planned to determine the long-term effects of isolated extracts.

11. Antimicrobial action
Avocados contain substances that have antimicrobial activity, particularly against Escherichia coli, a leading cause of food poisoning.

12. Protection from chronic disease
According to the Department of Internal Medicine and Nutritional Sciences Program of the University of Kentucky, high fiber intakes are associated with significantly lower risks of developing coronary heart disease, stroke, hypertension, diabetes, obesity, and certain gastrointestinal diseases. Increased fiber intake has also been shown to lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels, improve insulin sensitivity, and enhance weight loss for obese individuals. Researchers found that avocado seed husks contain compounds that could help to kill viruses, combat heart problems, and treat cancer.

How to incorporate more avocados into your diet
You can tell how ripe an avocado is by gently pressing into the skin. If the avocado is firm and does not budge, you will need to let it ripen for a few days before consuming. Soft avocados make great guacamole or dip, while firmer avocados are great for slicing and adding to a salad or a sandwich. To speed up the ripening process, place an avocado in a paper bag with a banana.


Some Avocado Food ideas

Avocado sandwich
Avocado can be mashed and spread on toast instead of butter, or sliced and added to a sandwich or salad.

Quick tips:
Spread avocado on toast in the morning instead of butter. Use avocado instead of mayonnaise salad, or as a spread on a sandwich. The soft, creamy texture of an avocado and its mild taste make it a perfect first food for babies.

Mediterranean Grilled Avocado Stuffed with Chickpeas and Tahini

Vegan Mediterranean Chickpea Stuffed Grilled Avocado - Grilled avocado is stuffed with fresh cucumber, tomato and crispy grilled chickpeas! A drizzle of tahini makes this a delicious, healthy and easy, vegan dinner for under 250 calories!

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Servings 4
Calories 206 kcal

Ingredients

    1 Can Chickpeas drained and rinsed, 13oz
    Coconut Oil (or oil of choice, or vegetable stock for basting)
    1/2 tsp Smoked paprika
    Salt + Pepper
    2 Large Avocados
    1/2 Cup Cucumber diced (about half a large cucumber)
    1/2 Cup Cherry tomatoes cut into quarters
    1 1/2 Tbsp Fresh lemon juice + additional for servings about 1 large lemon
    2 tsps Tahini
    Cilantro for garnish

Instructions

    Preheat your grill to medium/high heat. The temperature gauge should read about 400 degress once heated.

    Place the rinsed chickpeas onto a paper towel and dry well. Transfer to a small bowl, peeling off any of the papery skins that come lose while you dried the chickpeas. Spray the chickpeas generously with Coconut Oil (Grapeseed, olive or your oil of choice, for those who do not use processed foods, cold pressed coconut oil is best or use a vegetable stock baste)  and then toss with the smoked paprika and a few generous twists of salt and pepper.

Place the chickpeas into the bottom of the grill basket into an even, flat layer. Place onto the grill and cook for 10 minutes. Then, spray the chickpeas again with coconut Oil and stir around. Cook for another 10-12 minutes until lightly charred and crispy. Remove from heat and let cool.

Cut the avocados in half, removing the pit. Scoop out the center of the avocado so you have a large, deep hole. Spray the avocados with Pompeian Coconut Oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place, flesh-side down, onto the grill and cool until nice grill-marks form, about 5 minutes.

While the avocados cook, mix the cucumber, tomatoes and lemon juice in a small bowl. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper.

Divide the cucumber mixture between each avocado half, making sure to really stuff it into the center. Top each half with 1 Tbsp of chickpeas* and drizzle with 1/2 tsp Tahini.
Garnish with cilantro and DEVOUR.

Recipe Notes

* You will not use all of the chickpeas in this recipe, only about 1/3 of the can. But, it's easier to just grill the whole can and then snack on the extra crispy chickpea goodness!

Avocado Chocolate Tart
Watch the video and see how to make this delicious dessert.

Ingredients:

Crust: 50g nuts, 50g shredded coconut, 30g sweetener (For example agave, maple syrup, or your choice)

Filling: 200g avocado, 60g sweetener, 40g cacao powder, 20g coconut Oil (Cream can be used as a replacement), a hint of vanilla, a hint of cinnamon. (add a little cayenne to spice it up and increase vascular health)

Instructions:
1. Blend all the ingredients for the crust with a food processor.
2. Put the mixture in a tart tin and press down evenly.
3. Combine all the ingredients for the filling in a food processor and process until smooth.
4. Put the mixture in the crust.
5. Leave it in a fridge for a couple of hours.

Potential health risks of consuming avocados
It is the total diet or overall eating pattern that is most important in disease prevention and for achieving good health. It is better to eat a diet with variety than to concentrate on individual foods as the key to good health.

If you are taking blood-thinners, such as Coumadin (warfarin), it is important that you do not suddenly begin to eat more or less foods containing vitamin K, which plays a large role in blood clotting.


Nutritional Profile of Avocados







Time for Trudy's Tuesday Blog




Time for Trudy's Tuesday Blog

Hope everyone had a great week!
Today's topic is FRIENDS. There seems to be a lot of pressure for little girls, teens and even women to have a BFF or a "bestie" which implies that one friend holds more importance other another. I hate labels of any kind and these two are on the top of my list. When we start to compare one friendship to another it becomes a competition and that is where jealousy comes in. In the world of technology as soon as you go somewhere or do something your first thought is to post it on Facebook. This is great until one of your friends that wasn't included sees it. Let's be honest not all friendships are the same each one is a unique relationship between two people. I love things that are not complicated and this goes for my friendships as well.I am fortunate enough to have great women in my life and we each share an individual friendship but none of them are a duplicate of another. I have a friend that I don't see for years at a time but can pick up the phone or hangout with her and it is like no time had passed. She knows me better than anyone and I know her just as well. We have been in each others lives for good times and bad and we both know if either one needed the other we would be there in a heartbeat. We have been friends for more than 35 years and there is no one in my life that can duplicate this relationship. I had talked about recycling relationships in one of my other blogs. I mentioned that I reconnected via Linked In with someone that I was friends with over 30 years ago. From the moment we met up for dinner last December, we have been inseparable. We talk every day and are even working on writing a novel together which is just about finished. No one can replicate this amazing relationship either. Both of these are incredibly important to me but are entirely different and I could not even begin to compare them. I am also very grateful to have forged  relationships with other women in our circle. Sometimes we do things as a group, sometimes it is just a few of us and sometimes it is just two of us. Not everyone has the same interests or dynamics. Two of my friends are going to Thailand on vacation. I have no interest in going but thrilled for both of them. I am taking them and picking them up from the airport and can't wait to see pictures and hear about their trip when they get back. There is no jealousy. The best way I can paint a picture is to think about your life as an arena. In your arena you are the main attraction. There are tons of seats but they are in different sections. You will have a select portion of your people in the VIP section. This is the area where the friends that I just described are sitting. Then you have the other seats in the arena that are further away from the stage. Throughout the years people will change seats, enter the arena or even exit on their own but this is all part of life.  Everyone one in your life plays a part but they all have a different role. Relationships change as we grow.



As I promised, I am sharing a story about another one of my rescue pets. This week I am focusing on Peekaboo's journey. About 13 years ago, my daughter was working down the street from the town animal shelter. She used to go there on her lunch hour to give the animals some affection and attention that they may not have had. She noticed a small chihuahua in a cage in the back with a badly injured eye and inquired about her. She was told the dog was going to be euthanized that afternoon so she should look at the other dogs if she was interested in adopting. They said it wasn't worth the money to get the eye fixed since she was about 10 years old. This didn't sit well with my daughter (I guess the apple didn't fall far from the tree). She demanded that they give her the dog and after some debate they agreed and charged her the full adoption fee even though the plan was to put this unfortunate baby to sleep.  My daughter brought the dog to the vet to see what could be done for her eye, the only solution was to remove it but he informed her the dog was pregnant and it would have to wait until after she had the puppy. Unfortunately when it came time for Peekaboo to deliver the puppy there were complications so she had to be rushed to the emergency vet.  The puppy was too big for her so it never developed properly and was stillborn. Peekaboo was devastated and tried to mother one of her stuffed animals. It took lots of time, love and affection to get her back on track before we were finally able to get her eye removed. After my daughter started having children, Peekaboo became very neurotic, the loud noises and sudden movements of the kids gave her anxiety. So about 6 years ago she came to live with me and my husband. My daughter knew she was getting old and wanted her to be in a peaceful environment for however long she had left. Peekaboo thrived. From our best estimate she is at least 20 years old, she only has the one eye and is now almost totally blind in the other but she is able to get around. She sleeps a lot, eats, loves to cuddle and is still feisty and keeps the other pets in line. She definitely rules to the roost. We laugh and say she won the "Puppy Lotto" twice!
Peekaboo


Don't buy an animal when you can adopt, there are so many wonderful pets like Peekaboo that would love to be part of your family. If you can't adopt yourself, you can use your social media to help create awareness so you can help an animal find a home!









Recipe Time

I will leave you with a quick, easy and delicious recipe with step by step instructions. I used what I had so you can always make substitutions.

Veggie Lasagna




12 lasagna noodles (I typically use oven ready but didn't have any on hand)
Spinach
Mushrooms Yellow squash
Basic tomato sauce *
Nutritional yeast **
Salt and pepper

Boil noodles according to package
Saute vegetables in a pan with a bit of olive oil

 Since I don't like a mess I start layering my lasagna so I don't need to use more than one frying pan.
Put some sauce at the bottom of the pan and place 4 lasagna noddles, then add the mushrooms, cover with some sauce and sprinkle of the nutritional yeast.

Layer the next 4 noodles, the yellow squash and finally the spinach. Top with sauce and more nutritional yeast. Then cover with the remaining noodles add more sauce and a final sprinkle of yeast.


Bake at 300 degrees for 45 min
ENJOY!

 * Recipe was in January 23rd blog
** Nutritional yeast was used instead of Parmesan cheese, check out the blog on The Smoothie Vegetarians for other ways to use nutritional yeast,

As always, please like, share and comment!

Until next time.

With Gratitude,

Trudy










Have a Vegan Happy Hour



If you're like me, after a hard day of trying to save the world, you like to settle down with a nice glass of wine. Or a cocktail or just some sort of alcoholic treat. Did you stop and think if your adult-only beverage is vegan? You might be surprised.

Avoiding liquor with cream or honey is the first thing that comes to mind when trying to get vegan booze, and it's simple enough to do. Irish Cream is out, unless you can find a non-dairy version (more on that in a minute), and any traditional mead product that is fermented with honey. That still leaves you with a whole wide range of alcoholic delights to choose from. Just avoid the animal products in the ingredients, you're good to go. Or are you?

Now you can enjoy creamy cocktails that are vegan and dairy-free!


Sorry to say, that's not the whole story. Not by a long shot. Though the ingredient list may be free of animal products, the processing behind many beers and wines is not. The problem is the materials used during filtration or clarification. In order to get your alcohol all clear and pretty, it is generally filtered. I'm not a vintner so I am probably simplifying this, but you get the idea.

Materials used in filtering many wines and beers may include bone char, gelatin, egg whites, milk casein protein, chitin and isinglass. Though some of these are probably unfamiliar, you are surely already noticing a few unpleasant materials that you don't usually associate with drinks. Chitin is a material found in crustacean shells, and isinglass is made from fish bladders (yes, seriously). Though technically, there should be none of this stuff in your final glass, you're still "using" animal products when you buy wine or beer that was made this way. Henceforth, they are not vegan.

To be fair though, this is only part of the usual process with wines and beers, so all you hard liquor drinkers out there are probably safe. Otherwise, you might want to start doing a little research into processing and try to find brands or products that are certified as being vegan. One place to start is Barnivore.com. They have a huge database where you can search for your favorite brands and see what's vegan and what's not.


Bailey's Almande
And to top off today's boozey blog, I wanted to share my review of Bailey's newest non-dairy cream drink: Almande. I got a bottle for Christmas and it was thoroughly (and quickly) enjoyed over the holidays. Not only is it vegan, it is also certified gluten-free, which is too much of a double-win to ignore.

As a lover of Irish Cream, I think this is a fantastic and appropriate replacement, though I won't say it tastes precisely like the famous Bailey's we all know and love. I find it sweeter, and you really notice the almond flavor, though it is not actually made with almond milk. Whether you take it straight, on the rocks or use to mix your own creative vegan cocktails, I'd recommend giving Almande a try.


Harmless, or Harmful?

I'm a pretty slim person and have been for the last decade or so. For much of my childhood, however, I was overweight and was bullied because of it, like so many children are. I lost weight in my teens (not in a good way) and then gained, and so the yo-yo life began. I gained just over one hundred pounds with my first pregnancy (people who didn't know me then never believe this, but it's absolutely true) and it took me years to lose it, and then I gained just over eighty pounds with the second pregnancy and lost it again. Gained and lost, gained and lost, repeat. Too many of us know what this is like, and too many of us judge our self worth by this. It's ridiculous, and it's sad, but it's unfortunately the truth. I'm guilty of this as well, I think a lot of women are.

About ten years ago I went back to work after staying home with my children for years. My new job was very physical and the weight dropped off and stayed off. I wasn't vegan then, only vegetarian. I took up running for the second time in my life and remembered how much I loved it. I ate well and have continued to do this with occasional slip ups, I'm human after all. A year ago I saw middle aged muffin top creeping up on me and I quit drinking and worked on myself a little more. My point: I wanted to be healthier and so I made that my goal; the weight loss was a side effect of that.



Since I've been vegan I hear constantly “Oh, well that's why you're slim, you don't eat anything”. I've given up correcting people – people believe what they want to believe. It's such a misconception. There are vegan pizzas and vegan cupcakes (I have some killer ones in my freezer), and vegan brownies, and vegan pies, and vegan butter, and vegan cheese – well you get the idea. Fun Fact: I'm told (and I haven't confirmed this) that Oreos are vegan. I know right? Pillsbury dough is “accidentally” vegan. So theoretically, I could have Oreos for breakfast and pastry for lunch and brownies for supper. And if I did do that, and I was a larger person I don't believe people would comment on my size so freely. Bottom line: it's really nobody's business. People have health issues, and genetics, and culture choices etc to infinity; that contribute to their physicality, and perhaps they just don't spend every waking moment contemplating their size; there is so much more to life and so much of this is directed towards women; it's very disheartening.

Where am I going with this rambling? I'll tell you. Being vegan is no different from being anything else. I don't eat vegan to be slim. I eat vegan because I believe strongly in a do no harm (or at least as little harm as possible) mentality. I'm not on a diet, I'm not cutting out animal products for vanity. There are slim vegans, there are medium vegans and there are large vegans. There are “junk food” vegans, and raw food vegans and everything in between vegans. Surprise! We're regular people. Veganism isn't a diet, it's a choice directed by our views on sentient beings and our unwillingness to harm them.



I am slim. I have been large. I have been medium. I have been sick (very). I have been healthy. Many of my recent choices (yoga, hiking, abstaining from alcohol) are based largely on keeping my health now that I have it back – not everyone is so lucky. And you know what? Every so often I stuff my face with cupcakes – they're vegan – but they're still damned good cupcakes! What bothers me the most is how we (society) have to put everyone into a “type”. We all need to chill and stop commenting on other people's appearance and what they eat or don't eat, and how they live their lives. I think the “do no harm” philosophy can go a lot further than what we decide to have for lunch.

Gwen




Indulgent, Plant Based Meals (Superbowl Friendly!)


(photos by Danielle)
(photos by Danielle) 

If you want some delicious, indulgent recipes….check out some of these. All of these foods you can have for a dinner or as appetizers are all amazing if you want to eat food with amazing taste and texture, but not sacrifice anything! It can be important to stay on the healthier sides of course so of these meals can be made healthier with some alternatives. 

(photos by Danielle)

(photos by Danielle)
(photos by Danielle)

My family and I were looking for some alternatives to food we were already eating. So when we went to the store to pick up food for my family to eat during any of the upcoming football games, we found plenty of options. We did two products from Gardein which were the wings and the tenders. Both of these taste amazing and you can not even tell the difference. I also made some nachos which were absolutely wonderful. 

(photos by Danielle)

(photos by Danielle)

For the wings and chicken tenders, we had three different kinds of hot sauce to switch up the variety. However, we also had barbeque sauce to switch it up as well and let everyone have their options. We used franks red hot sauce along with the Nandos peri peri sauce in the medium and hot flavors. I am a huge spicy food lover so these are wonderful for me and I was a huge fan. 

(photos by Danielle)
(photos by Danielle)

(photos by Danielle)

Also, for the nachos, I used both regular tortilla chips and the black tortilla chips. I topped the nachos with beans, salsa, sour cream, onion and red bell peppers. I used the Heidi Ho cheese to make the queso and it was phenomenal. I would definitely purchase this again. For the meat, my mom had an amazing idea of cooking the Trader Joes meatballs that we love so much and crushing them up for a nacho topping. This whole meal together turned out amazing and preparing foods can show you what needs improvement in the future. 

(photos by Danielle)

For dessert, a wonderful idea is chocolate mousse. Yes, there IS a way to get that amazing flavor while still being healthy. You can use aquafaba to get that amazing whipped and creamy texture. It is like using egg whites but without all the negative health risks. What you need to do for the recipe is get a can of chickpeas/garbanzo beans and separate the beans from the water. Save the water and start blending it until there are folds. You can add any sweetener you like such as sugar or maple syrup if you want more flavor. If you want a chocolate flavor, you can melt chocolate chips. However, if you are going to do this, remember to stir them often or they will burn. Wegmans and Trader Joe's store brand already carry a vegan version of chocolate chips and you can not tell the difference with them. Fortunately, this is an amazing option because you can still enjoy all of these indulgent foods. This dessert will be ready after letting it chill in the fridge for a few hours. A recipe for this may be coming very soon! 

Hope everyone has a wonderful weekend and tries some of these soon! Here are some other similar posts you may enjoy if you found a lot you like in this one: 






-Danielle

The Truth About Health Products

The Truth About Health Products
You see the advertisement for the next big thing! Take this product and it will cure and you get a list of practically everything that ails you. The truth is that yes, there are herbal and natural products out there that will assist with the maintenance, prevention and even in some cases cure many chronic illnesses or promote the immune system, help with brain health and more. But! No one product can do this. There are a range of them but you need to take many individually to get the dosage that works and yes some require smaller doses and can be used with other plant and herbal sources that work together on the same condition.

This article is not about the efficacy of these products, but about the types of products, the truth and the hype about the form they take. Supplement and health products are generally delivered in one of four ways. As a drink or infusion into a fluid medium, a supplement capsule or tablet, a tea/coffee blend or in bulk powder form. We will explain the truth behind the delivery of products in these forms so you can know and make more informed decisions. (Be sure to look at our article To Extract or Not To Extract, and get the truth behind using extracts instead of the pure plant sources of products)

Pure Bulk Powders
Some people like to get their supplements as bulk powders so they can take them in higher doses, incorporate into foods, smoothies or take as a shot. Pure powders are the best source for plant sourced health products. They just have the water removed and are then powdered. They are as God made them. Full of fiber, nutrients and all their active ingredients. But be sure that the drying process used keeps the process of drying below 71 degrees so it doesn't destroy the plant source and then ultraviolet exposure is used to ensure that any organisms are killed (UV is an aspect of light that only harms organisms and so ensures that you don’t catch anything from a plant produced powder). Now this is the best source for a health product but when you look at herbal and plant sources those that have the medicinal and most active ingredients tend to be bitter, spicy or cause irritation. That is why some people who decide to try and incorporate herbal and plant source powder into their diet directly can end up with mouth and throat irritations, and other complications because of the irritant nature of the powders. The the best way for taking these powder is via encapsulation.



Capsules & Tablets
Capsules are considered the best way to take a health product. Above the explanation for why powders are best, but due to their nature can cause irritation. Also later in this article we cover teas and coffee and yes you can take a herbal tea but you reduce the effectiveness of taking the whole herbs and just getting the water-soluble bits. Capsules are an ideal herbal and plant delivery system. Having the pure powder inside a capsule protects the body from the irritant nature of these powders. You don’t suffer the taste, and your mouth, throat, esophagus, lungs and nose are protected from the powders and they are delivered directly to the stomach, where your digestive juices can absorb all the goodness of the powder without the irritant and taste issues. You also get the whole herb/plant in an easy to take form that is bioavailable as it still retains its botanical nature. Note always take herbal supplements with food as it increases the absorption rate with the mix of fats in the food as well as water increasing the absorption of the fat and water soluble active ingredients.

Tablets are another way that herbal/plant products can be delivered. But these generally have extracts, fillers, additive, even organic ones, your source is not pure, its processed and has content apart from the original plant source. This is due to the fact that plant powder cannot be made into a tablet, extra ingredient like binders and stabilizers are necessary to form a tablet. For instance, many manufacturers sell spirulina tables and as part of the manufacturing process, they add fillers as well as food coloring to increase the dark green color of the tablet. This is not an advisable method of taking a natural health product as you get less and it is more denatured and so reduces its bioavailability due to the processing.



Drinks, Juices & Infusions
This is one area that has grown in a big way. People are told to buy a herbal drink full of herbs, plants sources, extra minerals etc. Or the super smoothies packed full of fruits and medicinal plants. Sadly, the truth behind these products or even making your own is that regardless of the benefits promoted due to the herbs and plants, these products tend to be high in sugar. Moderation is always the best rule. When God made the apple, he packaged it with nutrient and lots of fiber, so yes its sweet but you can only eat a couple, juice it and a glass of juice has 6 apples worth of sugar and you remove fiber and nutrients by eliminating the apple solids. If its sweet, then its bad. No matter how many herbs you add, if its sweet, it promotes chronic disease and weight gain, diabetes, hypertension, Alzheimer’s, liver and kidney disease and much more. No matter what the advertisements say, or if you have a network marketer promoting a product the truth is that the juice or water-based products that are sweet do not promote health but chronic illnesses. If you forget about the sugar levels and lack of fiber look at the numbers on a product or the preservatives that let it keep for so long, what are the preservatives also doing to you? When it comes to drinks, beverages and juices best to avoid it unless you use a lot of high water low sugar vegetables when making your drinks. Better to make smoothies as these keep the plant fibers whereas juices concentrate sugar and carbohydrates.

Infused Fluids
Next, we look at infused honey, apple cider vinegar and coconut oil. There are some people who have difficulty swallowing capsules and there is one class of infused herbal/plant sourced products that can be used. Wild honey, Virgin Coconut oil and Apple Cider Vinegar as standalone product do not have the processing and concentrated sugar that the processed infused drinks mentioned above. Alone they each have their own health benefits and so by adding medicinal herbal/plant sources to these products is a viable way of taking herbal powders. The flavors can be masked but also the coating from the fluids can protect from irritation. Also infused honey is a good way to give children a herbal dose as kids love sweet but it is not a big sugar hit like the herbal drinks which at times have more sugar than most sodas.

Tea, Coffee and Sweet Sachets

There are many who promote medicinal herbal and plant products as drinks like teas, coffees and sachets. Sachets and pouches tend to be high in sugar, and like the drinks above have the same problems with the cause of chronic disease. In general herbal teas, as long as they are unsweetened, are good as a delivery system for natural medicinal plants but you only get a fraction of what is in the powder. The reason is that many of the active ingredients of herbal products are fat soluble, so when you make a tea, you get none of those active ingredients that are fat soluble. Many of the active ingredients are also within the powder/leaf itself and so you can flavor your tea, get some health benefits, but you are missing out on most of the health properties locked inside the herbal leaves/powder that you don’t consume. That is why capsules are the best way to get the whole benefit from medicinal and herbs and plants.

Coffee comes in many forms, beans, powder granules and does have some health benefits, but that is in moderation. The health benefits are more for those in good health. Coffee has a range of active ingredients that can boost brain function, increase alertness and also has a diuretic quality. But take one cup of coffee and your blood pressure raises for 4 hours after you consume a cup. When you buy a coffee that has a whitener and sugar then you lose your health benefits, the whitener and sugar adds starch and calories, so on top of increasing the blood pressure from the caffeine it also raises blood sugar levels and so no matter what herbs, mushrooms or medicinal value that you add to coffee, it’s not going to outweigh the fact that your blood pressure, blood sugar, stroke, cancer and in turn any chronic illness will worsen or if you don’t have a chronic illness then drink too much of this and you are on your way poor health.

Conclusion
In conclusion as you can see that many products say they are healthy and will deliver medicinal herbal and plant benefits, but the bottom line is that a pure plant powder in a capsule is the best way to take a medicinal plant and mixing it and adding it to processed food products actually turns the product into an unhealthy delivery system promoting chronic illness and ill health.


Abundance vs Moderation



Hi Everyone, hope you all enjoyed your week!

Today's topic is ABUNDANCE versus MODERATION.

Can there be too much of a good thing? How much do we really need? Do we always want more than we actually need? Do we live in a world of excess? I often think about this.

When you eat too much food it can lead you to being overweight. If you buy too much it can create excessive debt you don't want or need. Excess stuff creates clutter.

What is the difference between want and need? When I go shopping I now ask myself if the item is something I want or is it something I need. A perfect example of this happened the other day. I was in a shoe store and found the  most beautiful pair of red velvet heels that caught my eye. I tried them on and they looked stunning and I almost took them up to the register after justifying in my mind how much I needed them. But after walking around in them in the store for a few minutes I realized that they would wind up sitting in my closet since I had no plans to wear them anytime soon and had nothing that would even go remotely with them. I quickly decided that this was definitely not a case of needing them and we parted ways .As I walked out of the store I actually felt good about my decision. There are times that I don't need something but just want it and that is fine as long as I can afford it, have a use for it and have a place to put it. I am working on resisting impulse purchases such as the red velvet shoes.

There are the basic things that we all "need" food, water, clothing and shelter among other things that we consider necessities. Sometimes I think we all think we need more than we do. If you talked to someone that didn't have all these things, they would say that the basics would be something they would want. It is all in perspective. Some people always want more while others are grateful for what they have and are totally content with less.



For the upcoming week, I would like to suggest that you focus less on gathering material things and start being "mindful" of the things that you currently have in your home. Could you be content with less? Do you really need six different kinds of shampoos or will one suffice? I know I used to be guilty of this. If you are like me and just want to simplify your life, you may want to consider taking an inventory of what you actually have. This may even be a way to save you money. Knowing what you have in the cupboard can help you with meal planning and even avoid having to buy something you already have from the grocery store. I have gone shopping and purchased items I already had just because there was too much stuff in the cabinet therefore I spent money I didn't have to. Spring is coming so it may be a good time to clean, organize and purge.

Clutter doesn't just happen in our surroundings but it also happens in our minds. Sometimes we are so preoccupied with doing the next thing that we don't enjoy or take notice of what we are doing at the moment. So while we are on the subject of being mindful, I encourage you to take a day to appreciate the little things. When you get up tomorrow and take your shower, concentrate on how the water feels on your skin, how the soap feels between your fingers when you are washing your hands, the way the food feels in your mouth when you are eating breakfast. What is the texture, how does it taste, how does it feel on your tongue? If it is raining, snowing or if the sun is shining when you walk out doors, what is the sensation that you feel on your face? Take a moment to listen to the sounds around you during the day. Take everything in.

Life is not just about material things. I hope this exercise gives you another perspective and more of an appreciation of the simple things in life.

Sometimes you just need to stop and smell the roses.

Thank you for all the great comments about last week's blog and the kind words about Colby. He is a sweetie and enjoys keeping me company while I write. Next week I will share another story about one of his siblings.




Now onto food. For this week's recipe, I decided to share something that is great on it's own but also can be used as the basis of many other dishes.

My Basic Tomato Sauce

Olive oil to coat the pan (I use a stock pot)
1 large or two small onions chopped (you can use more or less depending on preference)
2-28 oz cans of crushed tomatoes (I usually use whatever is on sale)
1 large can of tomato sauce (the one I used was 29 oz)
Garlic can be fresh or dried ( I used 5 cloves since this is what I had on hand but again it is up to your own personal taste)
1/4 cup of dried basil
1/4 cup of dried oregano
As soon as the onions and garlic were translucent I added the dried spices gave a quick stir and added my cans of tomatoes and let it simmer. Your entire house will smell delicious. During the summer months I incorporate fresh tomatoes from the garden.

I love this sauce, it is so versatile that you can use with pasta, pour over zucchini, squash, rice or even polenta. It is also great to use as a base for soup or make a chili. The best thing is you can make a large batch since it freezes well.


As you may remember from prior posts, that I recently gave my living room a mini makeover. My existing flower arrangemenst were looking a little tired so I wanted to spruce them up a bit. I went to a well known craft store in my area to get some silk flowers when I saw these willow sticks which I thought would have been a great enhancement to the arrangement. When I got to the counter, I was shocked to see the sticks rang up for $15.00 for 6 sticks literally. Before discovering the key between need and want I can honestly say I would have paid the price and not given it a second thought. I asked the cashier to remove the item and just left with my silk flowers. Here is where the recycle, re-purpose and up cycle comes in. I told my husband what happened and while I was arranging my flowers, he went out back found better sticks than I was going to buy and cut some of the the plumes from the Savannah grass we have in our yard. I was worried that the plumes would dry out and get all over everything but so far this has not been the case. They remained totally in tact but with any dried flower I would avoid handling them once you get them in place. I now have more beautiful accents in my arrangements than I would have purchased and they didn't cost a cent. Nature can provide some amazing things if you just take the time to look for the beauty.



Please share some of your own money saving tips that you use to decorate your home, I look forward to seeing what everyone else is doing.

Don't forget if you experience something new, something good happens or you just feel good to write it down and add it to your gratitude jar! It is not about having more, it is about enjoying what you have.

Finally, please like, comment and share if you find value in my post.

With Gratitude,

Trudy




Know Your Nooch

It may not sound too interesting (or appetizing), but nutritional yeast should be part of any healthy vegan diet. If you’re new to a vegan lifestyle than you may not know much about it yet and this is your chance to hop on the noochy bandwagon. Or even if you’re not vegan, you can still add a little of this stuff into your cooking for a nutritional boost.

First thing to know is that this is not the same thing as baking or brewing yeast, but it is a form of yeast fungus (making it completely vegan). It comes in a thick flake, kind of like quick oats. Vegan places online sometimes call it nooch, and some countries call it “savory yeast” rather than nutritional yeast. The point is, it’s not baking yeast. Oh, and I should mention that it’s completely gluten-free too.


Unlike the active yeast that is used to make baked goods rise, nutritional yeast is inert. It won’t have any chemical effect on your foods except to give a savory cheesy or nutty flavor to your dishes. Many people use it as a taste booster even if they don’t want the vitamin benefits since vegan dishes are usually light on a good cheese taste.

And speaking of vitamin benefits, this is the main reason to get some nooch for your vegan kitchen. A diet with no animal products is going to be low or completely lacking in B12, and this is one of the few ways to get some without resorting to commercial vitamin supplements. It also has a good dose of other B vitamins, and even some protein.

You can get this type of yeast in bulk food stores, health food shops and some major supermarkets (only if they carry a good selection of non-mainstream foods). You probably won’t need a huge bag. Most uses will only be a tablespoon at a time. A couple of cups would last you a while. Personally, I buy it by the big scoop at our local Bulk Barn.


How to Use It

That’s all well and good, but what exactly do you do with this stuff? One common way to add some yeast to your foods is as a sprinkled topping. That's as simple as it gets. Add a little to veggie chili, a tofu scramble or even on top of a bowl of popcorn. In place of Parmesan, it works very nicely on spaghetti too.

Used in recipes with non-dairy milk, you can make a fantastic “cheese” sauce as well. We use it for a great alfredo recipe for example. Oh, you could also stir in a spoonful to thicken up some vegan gravy.


Even if you’re not specifically looking to add the cheese taste, it can be added in lots of places just for the vitamin supplement. Just don’t go overboard. You can take in too many B vitamins if you start dumping yeast on all your food. Two or three tablespoons is more than a enough for a day.

Warm Up This Winter: Vegan Stuffed Acorn Squash Recipe


With the cold weather this time of year, I am craving warm and satisfying meals. If you know me, I am such a sweet tooth. My days are usually filled with fruit and acai bowls. However, this snowy and cloudy weather has me freezing. I am trying to warm my insides with hot tea and home-cooked meals. I have been seeing acorn squash recipes for a while now on Pinterest and have been dying to try one for myself. Since acorn squash is in season, I decided this would be the perfect time to create a nice healthy recipe with it! It is nutritious, filling, and very tasty.

I cooked this for myself, my brother, and my mom and we all thought it was delicious. Feel free to change up this recipe to satisfy your own taste buds. You can add in veggies such as green beans or chopped carrots, or change the quinoa to wild rice. Taste as you go to see if you want more spices, go crazy! This recipe does takes a while to cook, but it is not difficult at all. Since the dish looks very fancy, it is great to throw together for a nice family dinner. It will make you look and feel like an impressive chef!



 Ingredients
2 acorn squashes
1 tablespoon of olive oil or vegan butter (optional)
salt & pepper
½ diced white onion
½ diced red bell pepper
2 cloves minced garlic
2 handfuls of chopped kale 
1 cup vegetable broth
 ½ cup quinoa
1 can cannellini beans (black beans also work)
2 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp cumin
green onions and dried cranberries optional to garnish

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Slice the two acorn squashes in half and scoop out the seeds. Brush the olive oil evenly on the yellow part of the acorn squashes and lightly sprinkle on salt and pepper. Fill a baking pan with ½ inch of water. Place the acorn squashes cut-side-up in the baking dish. Place in the oven for about one hour.

While the squash is in the oven, sauté the diced onion, red pepper, and garlic in a pot with just enough water so they do not burn. Once the onions are golden and garlic is fragrant (about five minutes), add in the cup of vegetable broth and half cup of quinoa. Bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to a simmer and cover for approximately 30 mins. Once quinoa is cooked thoroughly, add in the kale and can of beans. Stir in 2 tsp of garlic powder, 2 tsp cumin, and salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat.
Take the acorn squash out of the oven and spoon the quinoa mixture evenly into the acorn squash halves. Garnish with chopped onion and dried cranberries if desired.


Depending on how hungry you are and how large your acorn squash is, this can serve 2-4 people. This recipe tastes best when fresh out of the oven, but you can refrigerate the leftovers for a few days. Enjoy!