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6 Tips for Effective Meal Planning

Effective meal planning starts with a plan, recipe ideas and organization. It can be stressful to have to work all day long then come home and try to figure out what is for dinner. This is an overwhelming feeling and can create stress just trying to figure out where to start. Essentially this is a skill that requires practice in order to become a pro at it. But it doesn’t have to be dauting to get started. I will outline a few strategies that helped me when I had to start planning ahead in order to save money on the grocery bill. I will show you how to use what you already have to create healthy meals even when you are pressed for time.

Tip #1 – Take Stock Before Meal Planning

Firstly, you must understand that meal planning is the act of organizing meals for the week ahead. Take into consideration what is already planned for the week, times you will have to cook and taking advantage of leftovers. When taking stock of what you already have in your fridge or cupboards start with the foods that will spoil first. This usually includes produce, dairy products and foods already cooked and stored in fridge. This method will help you to remember to use it before its completely destroyed. The foods you write down you can use as the basis for your healthy meals for the week. This will help to reduce grocery bill because you will only have to shop for what is missing to complete the meals you are considering.

Tip #2 – Consider Your Schedule for the Week

When meal planning always review your schedule for the week. This will help you to fit in meals that will fit into your schedule without causing stress in the process. For example, if your children have extra curricular activities twice a week that gets you home late in the evenings then perhaps on those days you can purchase a pizza or choose to cook a meal that takes a few minutes to prepare. Another example, is what if you have to work late because it is the busy season or you work a shift schedule. In this instance you can plan to use leftovers or even pick up something on the way home.

Keeping your weekly schedule in mind will keep you more organized when it comes to meal times. Also, as mothers we are busy doing so much we may just not feel like cooking. When organizing your meals take into consideration that you may just not feel like cooking so always have a go to meal on hand for those times.

Tip #3 – Planning Creative Meals

This part of the process can be fun because you can be creative but at the same time very overwhelming. Even more so if your family consists of different diets and you are not sure what to make. But having a resource of recipes to pull from can help make it a little easier for you. As you get better at meal planning you will be able to create your own meals through mixing and matching.

Just begin with step one and see what you already have that is perishable and start there. For example, you had tacos one night and had left overs in the fridge. You can consider having tacos again for dinner or you can take the same ingredients left over and combine it with egg for an omelet. Or you can add it as toppings over lettuce with Mexican cheese as a garnish and serve with your favorite dressing. Or you can take the same ingredients and put it over rice with salsa. As you can see there are plenty of ideas that you can come up with just from left over taco ingredients. If a family member can not have dairy then skip the cheese toppings and everyone can eat the same meal.

You may have chicken tenders in the freezer and consider them as a choice for dinner the kids will like but isn’t necessarily healthy. Here you can add broccoli, and macaroni and cheese and instantly its a balanced meal that they will love. Or you can take the same tenders cut them up add them to a spinach wrap shell with lettuce, tomato, onion and your favorite sauce and have it as a wrap for lunch with sweet potato fries.

Tip #4 – What Meals Should You Make?

This step is perhaps the most challenging because you not only have to think of meals but ones that you can actually cook. Sometimes we can get stuck in a loop having the same meals over and over. Its fine when the kids continue to cobble them up but when you start hearing, “chicken and rice again” or “didn’t we just have this?” can add more stress. Try asking the family members what they may want to eat for dinner.

If you pack a lunch for your children, ask them what they like to take. This reduces the horror of seeing them waste the foods because its not what they like. Consider theme nights to help break up the monotony of dinners. The idea here is not to stress. Maybe you can have pancake Tuesday in May. Or its super bowl time and you need more party foods than full meals. Think of meals where the whole family can join in to make so the burden is reduced off of you. Getting kids involved in the cooking process is a good way to help them learn about meal planning. Purchase recipe books catering to the specific diets can also help increase your ideas for meals to make.

If you think about being healthy but have lots of produce that may spoil soon, consider making a smoothie instead of a full meal. This way you increase nutrients and effectively use all the fruits before they perish.

Example of Meal Planning Prep

Tip #5 – Meal Planning Grocery List

The most crucial step when meal planning is to have the ingredients on hand for whatever you decide to make. Once you have come up with your ideas for meals throughout the week make a list of ingredients needed. Next cross reference what you already have with what you will need to create the meals. The difference is what you will have to purchase from the store.

If your counting the cost, consider how long each meal will last as some may be enough for leftovers. This way instead of purchasing enough ingredients to make seven dinners you may only need enough to make five thus reducing the cost of your grocery bill. Another tip is to imagine going through the grocery store isles and what you will need from each to create your list. This can sort of help you organize your shopping list in a way that you won’t miss anything. All of this makes you a more efficient shopper which could also help reduce your time in the store!

Tip #6 – Don’t Stress

Meal planning is an organized way to ensure you and your family are having tasty meals each and every night no matter the circumstances. It can help you save time, money and frustration as well as improve overall nutrition and happiness. Just think you’ll be able to use the perishables before they spoil and use all that you purchase at the store. At the end of the day don’t stress there are plenty of resources to help you beginning with the tips outlined above.

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Why do we need Vitamin K?

Vitamin K benefits the body in many ways. Most importantly it aids our bodies in blood clotting and coagulation. Prothrombin is a protein that is produced from vitamin K and plays a major role in blood clotting. This means when we cut ourselves prothrombin prevents us from bleeding to death. So it is important that we consume enough foods that will give us plenty of vitamin K. Without it, prothrombin is lowered and the risk of excessive bleeding increases.

Another important benefit of vitamin K is that it promotes the calcification of bones and prevent calcification of blood vessels and kidneys. Therefore it may help to improve bone health and lower risk of osteoporosis. It may even prevent calcium build up in the arteries which is good for high blood pressure sufferers.

But rest assure, having a deficiency in this vitamin is rare for healthy people who eat a balanced diet. However, if your diet restricts the consumption of green vegetables this can inhibit the formation of vitamin K. On the other hand research has shown that there is no toxic side effects in adults who take it via supplement form.

Food Sources of Vitamin K

The main dietary sources are from green leafy vegetables. This would provide vitamin K1. Animal products and fermented foods provide vitamin K2. When we eat any leafy green we are ingesting vitamin K1. Bacteria in the large intestine converts K1 to the storage form vitamin K2 and stores it in the liver or fatty tissues.

Other green sources include broccoli, brussels sprouts, herbs, kale, lettuce, arugula etc. Basically anything that goes through photosynthesis. This list also includes white potatoes, carrots, pumpkin seeds, cranberries and cashews.

Risks to consider

Toxicity is rare and less likely to come from eating foods containing vitamin K. Keep in mind that taking any form of supplement can lead to toxicity. In particular any blood thinners, anticonvulsants or even weight loss drugs can negatively interact with the vitamin. The rule of thumb is to eat a balanced diet so that there is little room for deficiency.

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Improve Satiety with Nutritious Potatoes

Potatoes are loaded with so many healthy nutritional benefits that it seems odd to omit them from your diet. When it comes to loosing weight most people are quick to eliminate them from the diet in order to reduce carbohydrate intake. By doing so you are missing out on the delicious, satisfying health benefits that these potatoes have.

Did you know that potatoes are the most highly consumed vegetable in the world? This may be due to the fact that they are easy to grow, versatile enough to be used in most dishes and affordable. Prepared the right way, potatoes can make any meal more satisfying, delicious and nutritious.

One thing I love about potatoes is that they are available all year round. There are over 4000 varieties to choose from but the most commonly used are russet, yellow, new, sweet and red. Some are too bitter to eat while others are very sweet. No matter which kind you use, always remember to scrub them clean with the skin on before using. If you want to add extra fiber to your meal keep the skin on.

Health Benefits of Potatoes

When dieting the hardest thing to achieve is satiety. That is, you want to feel fuller longer so you don’t indulge in overeating of the wrong kinds of foods. Potatoes can give you that plus help you keep your weight in check. Satiety is the result of consuming enough fiber in your diet. Any food that is high in fiber will help you prevent heart disease, balance blood sugar levels and improve your digestive health.

There are two types of fiber present in fruits and vegetables. They are insoluble fiber and soluble fiber. Soluble fiber acts like a prebiotic which improves gut health. Insoluble fiber can treat or prevent constipation or irritable bowl symptoms. Potatoes have what is known as resistance starch which includes both insoluble and soluble fiber benefits. This makes potatoes ideal when trying to loose weight.

If you suffer from high blood pressure it is because you have a deficiency in potassium and magnesium. Without enough of potassium and magnesium in your diet you will be more prone to retaining sodium which in turn raises your blood pressure. High blood pressure can lead to a stroke. Potatoes are a good source of these minerals that help to lower your blood pressure. Did you know that a potato has more potassium than a banana? or that it contains over 40% of the daily value of vitamin C our bodies need?

Quercetin and folate found in potatoes provide anti-cancer benefits to our bodies. The antioxidants protect against many forms of cancer including damage to our skin that is caused from the sun.

How to Store and Cook Potatoes

Potatoes are good for baking, mashing, deep frying, steaming, roasting, boiling, pan frying and pureeing. They can be divided into three categories. Starchy versions like Russet, yam, sweet potatoes are good for frying or baking. Waxy versions like red and fingerling are good for roasting and boiling. All the others would fall into the all purpose category of which you can either pan-fry, roast or stew to your liking.

If you store potatoes correctly they can last for a long time. Rule of thumb is to store them in a cool dry place in your kitchen. Ensure there is good ventilation and away from direct sunlight like in a cupboard or pantry. Keep the room temperature between 45-55° F to keep them from spoiling. Higher temperatures will cause them to begin sprouting.

Never store them in plastic bag because this encourages moisture to be retained. Instead, chose a basket, paper or netted options for storage. Keep them out of the refrigerator to avoid the starch content found in potatoes from turning into sugar from the cooler temperatures.

Creamy Zucchini and Potato Soup

  • 3 zucchinis
  • 5 potatoes
  • 5 cups of organic chicken broth
  • 1 tsp fennel seed, thyme, garlic powder
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 tbsp. avocado oil
  • 1 tbsp. organic butter
  1. Preheat oven to 400° F.
  2. Slice fresh zucchini into rounds and place in glass bowl. Next add oil, fennel seeds, thyme, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Mix together until all pieces are coated.
  3. Place zucchini onto cookie sheet in a single layer. Place cookie sheet in oven. Roast zucchini for 40 minutes.
  4. Wash, peel and cut potatoes into quarters.
  5. In large pot, add butter and roast zucchini. Sauté for 3 minutes. Next add 5 cups of chicken broth and potatoes. Boil on medium heat for 15 minutes.
  6. Add pot mixture to blender and blend until smooth. Serve warm.

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Protect Your Cells with Antioxidants

antioxidant rich mushrooms

Antioxidants are extremely beneficial to our bodies. They are chemicals that help the body eliminate free radicles. Essentially they are the by-products of metabolism and other bodily processes. Therefore our bodies produce this naturally.

On a daily basis, our bodies are constantly fighting off diseases, infections and harmful toxins. These toxins cause free radicles which end up attacking our healthy cells. When our cells are unhealthy cancer, stroke and heart disease risk is much higher.

Did you know that our daily routines and lifestyles introduce toxins into our bodies? These toxins often come from exposure to smoke, toxic chemicals, or alcohol. However, eating foods that are rich in antioxidants helps our immune system detoxify these toxins.

Vitamins C, E and beta carotene also known as antioxidants. Beta carotene reduces the damage caused by free radicles. Eat more foods deep in yellow, green orange or red colors. Vitamin C protects body from infections, helps heal wounds and aids the absorption of iron. Eat more citrus fruits.

Where are antioxidants found?

The best sources are in produce. But you can also find them in wholegrains, nuts, herbs, spices and some meats. Mushrooms contain a potent antioxidant that reduces the risks of high blood sugar and obesity.

Mushrooms are fat free, low in calories, which can promote weight loss without the extra fat. The most common varieties include shiitake, white, oyster, or Portobello. Choose mushrooms that are mold free and dry.

If you want to develop healthy eating habits, try adding them to stir-fry’s, salads, omelets or sandwiches. You can also increasing your mushroom intake with this tasty mushroom rice recipe. This recipe is a quick and easy way to incorporate more antioxidants into your daily diet.

Mushroom Rice Recipe

  • 7 mushrooms
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 onion
  • 2 tbsp. avocado oil
  • 4 cups beef broth
  • 2 cups of uncooked rice
  • fresh sprigs of thyme

Method:

  1. Coarsely chop the mushrooms and onion. Mince the garlic clove and set aside.
  2. In a saucepan add the avocado oil, garlic, onion and mushrooms until lightly sauté until mushrooms are cooked.
  3. Next, stir in the uncooked rice allowing the rice to be lightly toasted. Then add in the broth, fresh thyme and reduce heat to low. Cover the pot and leave until all the liquid has been absorbed.
  4. Once cooked, stir contents of pot until well blended. Serve as a side or main dish.

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Which Milk is Best for You?

Milk is necessary to build strong bones and teeth. It is also known to induce sound sleep when consumed warm and can lower your risk of diabetes. But with all the numerous options available in the grocery stores, which milk is best for you? A common approach to finding this answer is to do trial and error. It may be costly to find out but worth it.

Start with the versions you are already familiar with and keep trying them until you find one that tastes good, causes no adverse effects and provides exactly what your body needs. The USA national dietary guidelines recommend adults drink up to three cups per day.

Cow or Alternative Milk?

All cow milk provides natural essential nutrients our body needs. Protein, calcium, potassium, riboflavin, phosphorus, niacin, vitamin B12 and vitamin D are all naturally present. It is very affordable, has 134 calories and tastes better. However it’s known to cause more allergic reactions in people because of its proteins. Therefore, this makes it more difficult to digest in those who suffer lactose intolerance. Many people suffer with lactose intolerance so manufacturers have now developed what is known as alternative milk options.

Alternative milk options typically come from plant sources. These include almond, rice, cashew, hemp, soy etc. Despite being marketed as an alternative source it actually has none of the vitamins and minerals the cow naturally offers, For this reason they have to be fortified in order to match the nutrition quality of the regular version. Alternative versions don’t provide enough protein necessary for growth, muscle recovery, and meal balance.

Best Options for Weight loss

If your plan is to loose weight consider grouping the various options available according to calories contained. For example, lactose free has 159 calories, coconut has 157 calories and skim has 88 calories. But did you know that almond milk has the lowest amount of calories of all of them, coming in with 63 calories per serving! Not to mention its taste isn’t bad at all.

However, if you have a nut allergy this may not be the best option for you. Instead try rice, skim or nonfat versions. If you are looking for a dairy free option, fortified soy or coconut milk may be best for you.

There are four types of cow milk available today. They are either skim, 1%, 2% or whole. But the major difference here is the amount of calories and fat. 1 cup of 1% has 1.5 grams of fat and 2% option has double grams of fat. If your looking to switch to a non-fat version start sampling these four options.

Cashew milk texture is very close to whole milk, has fewer calories than skim, no sugar and provides more calcium than dairy.

Trouble digesting lactose?

If this is you, this means that your body is intolerant of the natural sugar, lactose, found in this white goodness. This would cause bloating, gas and diarrhea. Lactose free options have been specifically treated to break down the lactose into simple sugars that are easily digested. As a result it is a bit sweeter than the regular version.

Goats milk has become increasingly popular as an alternative. It has more protein, potassium and calcium per cup than any other kind available.

Soy milk has all the benefits of cow versions but you have to ensure it is fortified with calcium and vitamin D becaue it is made from ground soybeans that are soaked in water.

Rice milk is also known as an easy to digest soy alternative since it is made from ground brown rice and water. Hemp milk is made from hemp seeds and is thicker and creamier than other non-dairy versions but it is less sweet. Both versions are highly recommended for people with multiple food allergies.

However if you are looking to avoid dairy, soy, and gluten then try macadamia milk. This is ideal for vegans.

Turmeric Latte Recipe

  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 2 tsp ground turmeric
  • ½ tsp cinnamon, vanilla extract
  • pinch of black pepper and cardamom

Whisk ingredients together until well combined in a pot over medium heat. Whisk for about 5 minutes or until a foam forms. Serve warm.

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Medicinal Grapes

Grapes are great for a healthy snack any time of day. But did you know that for centuries they have been used for their medicinal properties than any other fruit? These medicinal grapes are loaded with plenty of antioxidants to keep you healthy for years to come. Most people struggle to eat more foods rich in antioxidants, so eating this sweet and juicy fruit is a good way to increase your intake.

Grapes are a good source of potassium. Potassium is a mineral that helps to balance fluids in our body. If you have high blood pressure levels eat more grapes to lower your risk of heart disease and stroke. Medicinal grapes are also known to ease inflammation which in turn protect your cells from damage. Did you know that studies have shown that a diet rich in grapes can prevent or even delay the onset of cataracts and glaucoma? These sweet little juicy treats are full of surprises!

Since grapes have a low glycemic index this makes them quite attractive when striving towards your weight loss goals. Foods with a low glycemic index won’t raise your blood sugar levels quickly after consumption instead they will keep you more stable and your sugar cravings at bay.

Are All Medicinal Grapes Equal?

The amount of antioxidants and anthocyanins, aka phytochemicals, present in medicinal grapes depends on the variety. Anthocyanins are in most blue, purple and red skinned fruits. These dark color fruits are also much higher in fiber, polyphenols, and melatonin then green or white grapes. Therefore, it seems that the red or purple color variety of medicinal grapes are better for our bodies.

Medicinal grapes contain Vitamin C, E, and K which are all good for healthy bones and tissues. Vitamin K helps with quick healing of sores and aids the body’s digestion of iron. Vitamin E from the seeds, can help with maintaining healthy hair and skin. Vitamin C supports a healthy immune system.

Red wine, made from red or purple medicinal grapes, is known to have many health benefits. Malbec wine has four times more antioxidants as Merlots and twice as much as Cabernet Sauvignons. However, Madiran wine contains the highest amounts of antioxidants necessary for healthy blood-vessel function. But if your trying to loose weight and still want to benefit from drinking wine, Pinot Noir is ideal. This wine has the lowest calorie count and sugar content per glass than any other red wine!

Enjoy All the Varieties

Grapes come in a variety of colors, such as green, red, black, yellow, purple, seeded, seedless and even cotton candy! Its an all year round fruit that is always available. When selecting grapes from the grocery store, be sure to choose ones that are firm and without blemishes. The most fresh medicinal grapes will have green flexible stems and look quite plump. Alternatively you can always opt for dried fruit versions which are equally as good. Do not buy grapes that have white fur growing on them as this is a sign of mold. Store them in a cool place or refrigerator.

Try this quick sweet recipe to enjoy grapes in a whole new way!

FROSTED GRAPES

image from Dreamstime
  • 1 lb. of red or purple grapes
  • 1 package of strawberry gelatin mix
  1. Remove grapes from stems and wash well in strainer. After pat the grapes dry to remove excess water.
  2. Put the grapes in a 1 gallon zip lock bag with gelatin mix and seal tightly. Shake so that grapes are evenly coated with sugar mix.
  3. Empty sugared grapes onto cookie sheet in a single layer. Place in refrigerator for 1 hour.
  4. Remove from refrigerator and serve.

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Improve Good Cholesterol with Eggs

protein packed eggs

Eggs are loaded with 13 essential vitamins and minerals we need daily. They are low in calories but high in protein. Eating them doesn’t raise your cholesterol or spike your blood glucose. As a matter of fact, they help increase good cholesterol levels which can reduce heart health risks.

Eggs contain dietary cholesterol and can be eaten every day. While cholesterol is essential for us, having too much of it in the bloodstream can increase the risk of heart disease. It can also lead to fatty deposit build up in blood vessels and prevent the flow of blood in the body, which can cause blood clots or heart attacks.

While it is true that genetics can play a part in high cholesterol levels eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly can be beneficial in keeping it low. This why eating eggs can be beneficial to your body. Not only do they provide energy but the materials needed for growth and repair of the body they do a great job lowering cholesterol.

Different Types of Eggs

When it comes to cooking or baking hens eggs are usually the go to. But that doesn’t exclude other types from different animals. Turkey, geese, ducks, guinea fowl and quail eggs are all edible alternatives. Not only are there different types of eggs they are also graded in seven sizes. According to the USDA there are three consumer grades for them: Grade AA, A and B. The grade is determined by the interior quality of the egg, appearance and condition of the egg shell. Eggs are tasted for quality then graded and weighed. The size doesn’t effect quality but it plays a major role in price.

Nutrition Value

The 7g of protein from one egg is complete and easily digestible. Eating two eggs would provide 180 calories, about 14g of proteins and 82% of your daily vitamin D. They also provide necessary omega 3 fatty acids and antioxidants that help our bodies fight diseases.

Did you know that 50% of your daily folate, 25% of daily Vitamin B2 and 40% of daily selenium requirements can be found in one egg? Its not sufficient to meet our daily protein requirements but does provide the highest quality of protein. Since it is a good source of disease fighting nutrients like carotenoids they may help in reducing the risk of blindness in adults.

Brain development and memory is bolstered because of the choline content found in eggs. Try eating them as a main dish or included in other recipes.

Health, Safety and Hygiene with Eggs

  • Eggs should be stored in a cool place like your refrigerator, away from raw meat and strong smelling foods
  • Wash hands before and after handling eggs
  • Never use broken or cracked eggs
  • Kitchen surfaces, utensils and containers used with their preparation should be cleaned regularly with hot soapy water.
  • Consume as soon as possible after preparation or store in refrigerator until needed
  • Always use pasteurized eggs to reduce risk of salmonella bacteria poisoning

The Versatile, Edible Egg

Fried, scrambled, poached, boiled and omelets are mainly served during breakfast. Serve with produce or meats to increase your nutrition value. But some can be served up for lunch, dinner or snack time. Below is a basic recipe for an omelet:

Ingredients:

  • 3 eggs
  • 2 tsp avocado oil
  • Optional: chopped parsley, sliced mushrooms, shreeded cheese, diced tomato, bell peppers, onions, cut up chicken, shrimp, beef, fish or ham, spinach leaves
  • black pepper, salt, thyme

Method:

  1. Break the eggs into a glass bowl and season with black pepper, salt and thyme.
  2. Beat well with a fork or whisk until the yolks and whites are thoroughly combined
  3. Add 1 tsp of oil to pan and heat with your choice of options. Sauté for 1 minute.
  4. Next, add eggs to sautéed options. Cook quickly by continuously moving the mixture with fork until lightly set; remove from heat.
  5. Half fold the mixture and with help of spatula slide the omelet onto plate. Garnish and serve warm.

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How Do Pumpkins Aid Weight Loss?

Healthy Curry Pumpkin

Pumpkins are a nutrient dense addition to your diet. These sweet yellow vegetables are rich in vitamins B6, C, E and Thiamin. They are excellent sources of dietary fiber and omega 3 fatty acids. As a result of being rich in fiber, pumpkin can curb appetite and reduce hunger pangs. This goes a long way when you want to loose weight.

Did you know that a single cup of cooked pumpkin provides only 49 calories with grams grams are coming from fiber? Overall it is 94% water which helps to reach your daily recommended amount of water per day.

Improves Immune System Function

Having a healthy functioning immune system is key for our survival. Everything that we consume has both good and toxic elements that ultimately end up in our bodies. However, rest assure, our bodies were designed to fight off most of the toxic invaders. This is largely due to the intestines because they work to get rid of the toxins and absorb the beneficial nutrients from the food.

Our intestines function at their best when we eat lots fiber rich foods. Fiber is essential for good gastrointestinal and digestive health. Good gut bacteria helps the body to move toxins out while making it easy for our bodies to absorb the good vitamins and minerals from your food. The result is a healthier digestive system which can do its job fighting off toxic threats that enter our bodies daily.

Different Ways to Consume Pumpkins for Weight Loss

As you can imagine, being such a popular addition in cooking, there are lots of ways to prepare this little golden bit of deliciousness. If you are into juicing you can certainly create a calorie rich beverage to consume when you feel a little down. However, keep in mind that juicing will remove the fiber content from the vegetable. As a result such juices can cause more health problems because of the very high sugar content that remains.

Pumpkin soup would be an ideal way to consume the fiber content present in the vegetable. When you make the soup the recipe typically includes other vegetables, herbs and spices that ultimately increases nutrition content consumed. Cooking tip for picky eaters: pumpkins are even tastier with cinnamon and a bit of brown sugar added. This can help kids to consume the vegetable with ease.

For a quick snack you can munch on pumpkin seeds. Pumpkin seeds provide lots of protein, fiber and healthy fats, not to mention an incredible amount of vitamins and minerals that our bodies need.

Try this quick recipe for a tasty pumpkin side dish that compliments any protein like fresh Mahi Mahi fish:

Curry Pumpkin Recipe

  • 1 lb. of pumpkin
  • 1 small onion, glove of garlic
  • 3 green onions
  • ½ red bell pepper
  • 1 bird pepper
  • 2 ½ tsp of curry powder
  • ½ tsp turmeric and cumin
  • 1 ½ chicken stock
  • 2 tsps. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp. avocado oil

Method:

  1. Peel, seed and cut pumpkin into chunks. Cut the small onion into pieces and finely chop the garlic. Seed and slice the bell pepper and finely chop the bird pepper. Chop the green onions as well.
  2. In a pot add the avocado oil, onion, garlic, green onions, peppers and sauté until onions are tender.
  3. Next, add the curry powder, turmeric, cumin, thyme, cinnamon and brown sugar, mixing thoroughly. Allow to cook for a few minutes.
  4. Last add the stock, pumpkin, salt n pepper to pot and leave to cook until pumpkin is tender.
  5. Garnish with fresh thyme and serve while warm.

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Are Canned Foods As Good As Fresh?

healthy canned food options

Canned foods are a good substitute when fresh isn’t available. People who tend to consume these foods have a higher intake of nutritional value because they can be eaten at any time. It doesn’t depend on whether it is in season or not because they are readily available. These foods are picked right at the peek of freshness. This ensures the best taste and nutrient quality of the food. The amount of minerals and vitamins remains unchanged during the canning process which ends up preserving the nutritional value. Based on this canned foods are considered to be just as nutritional as fresh or frozen varieties.

How are Canned Foods Made?

Foods can be commercially canned or at home as a DIY project. Fruits and vegetables should be canned within hours after being picked. The procedure of canning will vary depending on the foods selected. However they all are washed, peeled, chopped, crushed or pitted before canning. Depending on the type of produce, you can blanche them first locking in the nutrients.

After the food is prepped for packaging, the empty cans are then filled with either juice from the food, varying degrees of syrup or water and seasoned. Once the food has been properly processed it is then added to the cans and sealed. Did you know that every canned food must go through a heating process? This heating process kills bacteria and prevents spoilage from occurring. Once the can is heated it is quickly cooled.

Potential Dangers to Canned Foods

Foods that are manufactured in a processing plant and then canned are less likely prone to the toxin botulism. Botulism is a very serious illness caused by a toxin that attacks the body’s nerves causing muscle paralysis and difficulty breathing. The toxin is made of Clostridium botulinum and can be a real threat to home canned foods. If you desire to can your own foods be sure to adhere to the correct techniques for each food. Follow the National Center for Home Food Preservation for correct procedures to follow.

Another important thing to consider when eating canned foods is the level of heavy metals present. These heavy metals come from the tin cans used in the canning process. Tin toxicity can occur when we ingest food from a damaged can. A survey conducted by the US Drug and Food Administration found the highest levels of lead and cadmium in canned tuna and tomatoes. 

Remember This When Considering Canned Options

  1. Pick foods that are packed in water or 100% juice. Even better is if the food is packed with its own juices.
  2. Avoid light syrup and heavy syrup options because this will increase your added sugars which leads to stored fat.
  3. Canned foods are typically high in sodium. Therefore choose low or no sodium options. When you see reduced sodium on cans it simply means there is less in there but its still present. If possible rinse the foods to remove the sodium.
  4. Most critical – avoid dented, cracked or bulging cans as this is usually a sign of bacteria growing.

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Soothe Your Skin with Cucumbers

cucumbers for facials

Cucumbers provide beneficial nutrients that are good for our skin. Whether your dealing with breakouts, a sunburn, or heat rash know that cucumbers will calm your skin on contact. This is due to the high antioxidant properties naturally present in the fruit. A unique amino acid gives its natural cooling effect. Any food rich in antioxidants has the power to reduce the risk of cancer and other diseases of the body.

Did you know that eating cucumbers is good for the breath? Take one slice of cucumber and place it at the roof of your mouth. Hold it there with your tongue for 1 minute. The fruit actually fights the odor causing bacteria present in our mouths!

Eating cucumbers can lead to balanced hydration, digestive regularity and lowered blood sugar levels. The high water content helps to detoxify the body, relieve constipation as well as keep the kidneys and brain healthy. Cucumbers have a very high amount of vitamin K, vitamin C including beneficial minerals like magnesium and potassium which all promote good skin health.

See the nutritional chart below to learn more of what this elongated fruit provides.

Cucumber Nutritional Facts

Hydrate Your Skin with Cucumber Water

The summer sun and air conditioned homes can cause our skin to become dry. Drinking water is the best way to hydrate. But did you know that cucumbers contain about 96% water? This means that a whole cucumber eaten is enough to meet your daily fluid needs!

Another method to effectively rehydrate your skin is to mist your face with chilled cucumber water. The pantothenic acid found in cucumbers helps the skin to hold onto the water which will keep it hydrated during the brutally hot summer months.

Increase Weight Loss with Cucumbers

Cucumbers are also known to help with weight loss. As a result of containing so much water they are naturally low in calories. For every one cup of cucumber there is only 16 calories. This means you can eat as much as you want and it won’t increase your waistline. Go crazy and add them to you sandwiches or salads.

Cool Cucumber Beauty Recipes

Cooling Cucumber Face Mask

Blend together one unpeeled cucumber and 1 Tbsp. of full fat Greek yogurt. Apply evenly to your face and chest were the breakouts or sunburns are. Leave it for 20 minutes and rinse. Its the combination of the cucumber and the fat content of the yogurt that help to reduce redness and heal the breakouts or sunburn.

Cucumber Water Mist

In a spray bottle combine half a cup of water, witch hazel and 1 Tbsp. of fresh cucumber juice. Chill in refrigerator until ready for use. Before using shake the bottle and mist your face for immediate relief.

Tring to stay cool and still look good is always a challenge during the summer. But thanks to these cucumber beauty recipes keeping cool can be a lot easier to do.

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