Chia Seeds: A healthy addition to your recipes

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I love to try new recipes and recently I’ve been experimenting with some that include Chia seeds. This morning’s pick was Chocolate Chia Pudding. It has a very rich chocolate flavor, so I topped it with a little whipped cream and a fresh strawberry. Add a couple of candles to create a special surprise for your loved ones or just to brighten your own day. When you make healthy choices fun, they are so much easier to incorporate into your life!

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Chia seeds are among the most nutritious foods available to us. They provide us with fiber, protein, Omega 3 fatty acids and a variety of micronutrients. They are 40% fiber by weight, and just one ounce contains 10-11 grams of dietary fiber. They can absorb about 10-12 times their weight in water, which helps to make the body feel full faster and for a longer period of time, thereby helping to reduce calorie intake. As they absorb water, they swell and form a gelatinous coating on the outside; it is important to soak them or add them to a liquid before ingesting.

The seeds have a bland flavor, so they take on the flavor of whatever you add them to. They can be added to meatballs, yogurt, smoothies, puddings, scrambled eggs, etc. Two tablespoons of Chia seeds contain more Omega 3’s than one serving of salmon, and it is a great choice for those following a vegetarian diet. (Salmon does contain an additional form of Omega 3’s that Chia Seeds do not, so adding both to your diet is optimal.)

 

High fiber diets are associated with a lower risk of developing diabetes and eating high fiber meals to keep blood sugar stable. Based on a review of findings from several large studies, The National Institute of Medicine found that diets with 14 grams fiber for every 1,000 calories were associated with significant reductions in the risk of both coronary heart diseaseand type 2 diabetes.

Omega-3s may also decrease LDL, total cholesterol and triglyceride levels, reduce atherosclerotic plaque, improve endothelial function, and slightly lower blood pressure. The richest sources of plant-based omega-3s are chia seeds, flaxseeds, flaxseed oil, hempseeds, hempseed oil and walnuts.

Chia Seeds: Health Benefits and Nutritional Information

 

I found a great video on youtube by Dr. Axe that explains the benefits in an understandable way. Only about 4 minutes long. Benefits of Chia Seeds 

 

Chocolate Chia Pudding:

1/4 Cup Chia Seeds

2 1/2 Tbsp. Pure Maple Syrup

1 tsp. Vanilla Extract

1 Cup Almond or Coconut Milk

1/4 Cup Hershey Baking Cocoa (unsweetened)

Mix on low in blender or whisk by hand in a deep bowl. Let set for at least 30 minutes, then pour into individual containers. Garnish with sifted Baking Cocoa, whipped cream, and strawberry (if desired).

I changed this recipe a bit so that I could use ingredients that I already had in my house. The original recipe used 2 Tbsp. Agave instead of the Maple Syrup and only 1/2 tsp. Vanilla extract instead of the 1 tsp. that I used. (I love the richer flavor, so I used more.)

Try this link for some more great recipes!  Simple Ways to Add Chia to Your Diet

 

Practicing Mindfulness

Mindfulness is the practice of focusing your attention on the present moment. It is noticing the details of things–textures, smells, different hues of color, sounds–and observing your feelings in a non-judgmental kind of way. It can be as simple as focusing on your task of folding laundry–observing the silkiness of a satin shirt or the roughness of a bath towel beneath your fingers, the fresh fragrance that rises as you press soft folds into the fabric. Your thoughts begin to slow along with your breathing as you transform a “chore” into an immersion of the senses. Just a few moments like this can change and uplift your mood.

Laundry - woman folding clothes home, houseworkhow-smell-affects-your-body-mind

 

We live in a world where multi-tasking is not only necessary at times, but it has become glorified. People talk about the long lists of things they have accomplished in a day, in a week, or perhaps just in an hour. While we are working on one thing we are already thinking ahead to the next, and our days rush by in a blur. It makes us feel accomplished and temporarily satisfied at our resourcefulness. However, soon we look for ways to cut corners in order to accomplish even more things, and over time it leaves us feeling stressed, worn out, and longing to just “get away from it all.” The thing is…we can’t get away from ourselves, and we are the ones allowing the stress in to undermine our lives. When we allow ourselves to become exhausted physically, emotionally, and/or spiritually, our perspective changes; we start to see our lives from a place of depletion, lack, and resentment instead of one of abundance and appreciation.

When we are unhappy with ourselves and our lives, we begin to find fault with others around us as well. Our mood can become sour and critical, and we start to focus on all the negatives in our day–things that on another day we might not notice at all.

There are many things we can choose from to alleviate the feelings of stress, and the ones I am focusing on today are the practice of mindfulness and a type of meditation called “Loving Kindness Meditation.”

Research has shown that the practice of mindfulness and Loving Kindness meditation can not only boost memory and cognition, but it can help in developing compassion and empathy toward others, thereby improving our relationships. It improves sleep, relieves stress, can help lower blood pressure, and we begin to feel more joy in our lives. As we become more aware, we begin to recognize the limitations we place on others and on ourselves and we come to a place of being able to offer forgiveness and acceptance.

Mindfulness, paying precise, nonjudgmental attention to the details of our experience as it arises and subsides, doesn’t reject anything. Instead of struggling to get away from experiences we find difficult, we practice being able to be with them. Equally, we bring mindfulness to pleasant experiences as well. Perhaps surprisingly, many times we have a hard time staying simply present with happiness. We turn it into something more familiar, like worrying that it won’t last or trying to keep it from fading away.

When we are mindful, we show up for our lives; we don’t miss them in being distracted or in wishing for things to be different. Instead, if something needs to be changed we are present enough to understand what needs to be done. Being mindful is not a substitute for actually participating in our lives and taking care of our own and others’ needs. In fact, the more mindful we are, the more skillful we can be in compassionate action.

~ Karen Kissel Wegela PhD, The Courage To Be Present

I found this meditation on youtube–it is only about 13 minutes long. It is similar to one that I learned in my college class “Meditation and Mindfulness.”  It is soothing and relaxing and can be a wonderful way to begin or end your day. Enjoy!

Loving Kindness Meditation on youtube

 

Other Sources: American Psychological AssociationBenefits of Mindfulness

 

What happens to your body when you practice Meditation & Mindfulness?

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The amygdala is the part of the brain that houses our “fight or flight” response, feelings of fear, and feelings of anger. When we are under unrelieved, long-term stress, our bodies start producing more cortisol (a stress hormone) which over time can create health challenges for us. We start triggering more amygdala responses and start to find that we are reacting with anger and/or fear to things that normally would not bother us.

Research has shown that regularly practicing meditation and mindfulness (20-30 minutes per day) can actually create physical changes in the brain and chemical changes in the body. It can help to balance our production of cortisol, as well as other hormones, and over time the size of the amygdala begins to decrease while areas in the frontal cortex grow more connections.

The hippocampus is the area of the brain that helps us learn and retain new information (memory), as well as regulating emotions and response control. With regular meditation the hippocampus begins to grow new, stronger connections and increases in size. We begin to experience a sense of inner peace, feelings of positivity, and are able to manage life’s stressors more effectively.

It’s well-documented that our cortex shrinks as we get older – it’s harder to figure things out and remember things. But in this one region of the prefrontal cortex, 50-year-old meditators had the same amount of gray matter as 25-year-olds. –Sara Lazar, Neuroscientist

How meditation can change your brain  (youtube with Sara Lazar)

 

Scientific Benefits of Meditation – 76 things you might be missing out on

Brain changes with meditation. Scholarly article.

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Quinoa Facts and Recipes

Quinoa (pronounced KEEN-WAH)

Quinoa is considered a whole grain, which means it includes the entire intact grain seed without removing any of its parts. It is non-GMO, gluten-free, and contains iron, B-vitamins, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, vitamin E, fiber, and all nine of the essential amino acids. It is one of only a few plant foods that are considered a complete protein and it has a high protein to carbohydrate ratio when compared to other grain products. It is a good alternative source of protein for vegans and vegetarians.

Quinoa also contains important fatty acids. About 25% of quinoa’s fatty acids are in the form of oleic acid, a heart-healthy monounsaturated fat, and about 8% are in the form of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), the omega-3 fatty acid most commonly found in plants.

In addition, it works as a prebiotic that feeds the good bacteria in your intestinal tract, and it is easily digested for optimum absorption of nutrients.

“Quinoa is a good source of protein, fiber, iron, copper, thiamin and vitamin B6,” said Kelly Toups, a registered dietician with the Whole Grains Council. It’s also “an excellent source of magnesium, phosphorus, manganese and folate.” Toups emphasized that a “‘good source’ means that one serving provides at least 10 percent of the daily value of that nutrient, while ‘excellent source’ means that one serving provides at least 20 percent of the daily value of that nutrient.”  Quinoa Health Benefits

Recipes to try:

quinoa burger

Quinoa and Black Bean Burger

Stuffed Bell Peppers
Stuffed-Peppers

Quinoa Breakfast Pudding

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Change your choices, change your life!

Over 2,000 years ago Hippocrates, the ancient Greek father of medicine said, “Let food be thy medicine.” People back then started with good nutrition and herbs to keep their bodies healthy, and many of the diseases we see today did not even exist.

In my Foods As Medicine class, we were asked to make some diet changes for a month to see if we felt any different. I typically eat healthy, but the addition of large spinach, kale, and carrot salads with dinner every night, as well as an overall increase of raw vegetables and fruits (and less red meat) left me with a feeling of more energy and motivation. My skin tone was smoother and my eyes were brighter. The differences I felt with just a few dietary changes were amazing.

Finding fresh produce in Minnesota in the summertime is usually not difficult–there are many Farmer’s Markets available to choose from, and food co-ops are another alternative. Look for deep colored vegetables and fruits for the best nutrient content. Spinach and kale are in the category of cruciferous vegetables and offer many health benefits.

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Various components in cruciferous vegetables have been linked to lower cancer risks. Some have shown the ability to stop the growth of cancer cells for tumors in the breast, uterine lining (endometrium), lung, colon, liver, and cervix, according to the American Institute for Cancer Research. And studies that track the diets of people over time have found that diets high in cruciferous vegetables are linked to lower rates of prostate cancer.

I have included a link to a review of the documentary “Forks Over Knives,” as well as the original documentary. The documentary is very long but well worth watching. The changes in the health of the people participating in the study are incredible!

 

Forks Over Knives Review

 

Article quote from WebMD.

http://cosmosdocumentaries3.blogspot.ca/2013/07/forks-over-knives-documentary-film.html