Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Roasted Beet & Basil Salad with Hot Bacon Vinaigrette

Some days I get really ambitious and spend a lot of time making a complicated meal, but most days, I really just like to keep things simple. Just a few great ingredients tossed together on a plate is really all I need. A salad encompasses many different colors, textures and flavors on one plate and in one bite! And I’m blessed to have a husband that is more than willing to make a meal out of salad and be just as satisfied as if he had eaten a steak! Well, almost as satisfied.
The inspiration for this particular salad came from the humble pig. At the farmer’s market on Saturday I picked up some great bacon from a local farmer. Truthfully I don’t think I’ve ever met a piece of pork that I didn’t like, but this bacon was some of the most flavorful, delicious bacon I have ever put into my mouth. So I used it in two ways in this salad: crumbled on top and in the vinaigrette.
Now I know you’re thinking “Bacon! Healthnuts don’t eat bacon!”. But oh yes. We do. That’s the beauty of having a balanced diet. No food is completely off limits all of the time. I crumbled up just one piece total on the salad, but this bacon was so flavorful that it permeated the entire salad. And actually, bacon fat is a very stable cooking fat, and has loads of healthy saturated fat that is absolutely essential to your bodies’ proper functioning. Don’t fear the fat people! For more info on why and how you can incorporate bacon into a healthy diet, check out this book.
The roasted beets add another layer of meaty texture and rich flavor, which is cut by the tangy Hot Bacon Vinaigrette and the punch of the red onion. Heirloom tomatoes are a complete no-brainer addition to this salad, and contribute a mellow sweetness that unmistakably shouts “summertime!!” Check out my recipe!
Yields 2 dinner-sized salads
Ingredients for the salad:
  • 3 cups mixed greens, You can use whatever you like. I used an organic pre-mix that had baby kale, spinach, baby bok choy, arugula and radicchio.
  • 2 slices of bacon, cooked to your liking. But really, let’s be honest, who can just eat 1 piece of bacon. Just cook up the whole pound and use the rest in something else.
  • 2 medium sized beets
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, torn into pieces
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin coconut oil
  • sea salt and pepper
  • 1/2 of a red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes. I used heirlooms in this and they were amazing. So use those if you can find them.
Ingredients for the Hot Bacon Vinaigrette

  • Preheat your oven to 400 degrees
  • Wash, peel and medium dice the beets. Place them on a sheet tray and coat with coconut oil, 1 tbsp sea salt and 2 tsp black pepper. Spread in an even layer on the tray and roast for 30-40 minutes or until tender, turning occasionally.
  • While the beats are roasting, cook your bacon. I love to cook bacon in my cast iron skillet (likethis one).
  • Prepare the vinaigrette. Now this is the technical part so pay attention. Toss the ingredients in a mason jar or container with a lid and shake it up. Taste it, and adjust seasoning. Did you catch that? Okay good.
  • Prepare your salad. Distribute the greens evenly. Toss on the onions, tomatoes and basil.
  • When the beets have cooked, distribute them amongst the salads. The hot beets will wilt the greens just a touch and it’s perfect!
  • Crumble the bacon on top of the salad and drizzle the Hot Bacon Vinaigrette. Serve and Enjoy!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Crunchy Kale Chips!  My Personal Recipe!!

It's completely clean, really healthy, and a great way to get a serving--or more!--of all-important dark leafy greens. **Note that you'll end up with a yield by volume that is about half of what it was when the kale was raw--so make lots! It won't last long!**


  • Kale, fresh, cleaned, totally dry, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • Sea salt
  • Olive oil
  • nutritional yeast


Any kind of kale works. Including purple dinosaur!!

Pre-heat your oven to 150F.

Rip the kale into bite-sized pieces. You don't want to eat the main vein, so toss that. Toss kale into a suitable-sized mixing bowl (depending on how much kale you are making).

Spray kale lightly with Eat Clean cooking spray (aka olive oil in a spritzer). Massage just enough oil onto leaves, to make sure all surfaces are covered. Sprinkle with sea salt and nutritional yeast, and massage again. Make sure all kale bits are covered.

Bake in oven for 45-60 minutes. Every oven is different, so make sure you keep an eye on the kale starting at about 30 minutes.

Resist the urge to turn the oven temp up--believe me, all you'll end up with is kale cinders. Not tasty. And totally devoid of nutrients!

When the kale pieces are crunchy, they're done. They should be quite crunchy, and not have any un-crunchy bits, but still be pretty green.

Then just eat! Yum in your tum!!

Tips & Bonus Information

Nutritionists recommend at least one serving of dark green leafy vegetables, and one of orange vegetables, each day. So crunch away! Also, baking the kale chips as low as possible helps them retain much of the nutrients and enzymes which are there when the kale is raw. If you have a dehydrator with temerature-adjustment capabilities, you can make them super-healthy by dehydrating them on 105F for about 4 hours, depending on the humidity in the air where you live.
PREPARATION TIME: 10 minutes to tear and massage 
COOKING TIME: About 45-60 minutes. 

Monday, July 29, 2013

14 Signs of Inflammation and How to Stop It


The signs of inflammation are many and varied — it’s been linked to everything from bloating to joint pain to sinus congestion and skin rashes. Although a clinical assessment is the only way to determine for sure if you suffer from inflammation, the more of the following symptoms you experience, the more likely you have low-grade inflammation, says Mark Hyman, MD, author of The UltraSimple Diet(Pocket Books, 2007).
  •  Bloating, belching, passing gas
  •  Diarrhea or constipation
  •  Fatigue, sluggishness
  •  Itchy ears or eyes
  •  Dark circles or bags under eyes
  •  Joint pain or stiffness
  •  Throat tickle, irritation or coughing
  •  Stuffy noise, sinus trouble, excessive mucus
  •  Acne, cysts, hives or rashes
  •  Ruddy, inflamed-looking skin
  •  Flushing
  •  Water retention, skin puffiness
  •  Craving certain foods
  •  Compulsive or binge eating

The good news: Inflammation is fixable: “Our best tool to reverse inflammation isn’t a drug, but our diets,” says Barry Sears, PhD, a former research scientist at Boston University School of Medicine and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and author of the forthcoming Toxic Fat Syndrome. One of the best ways to snuff out inflammation is by heeding food sensitivities and intolerances. These are inflammatory responses that occur when the gut fails to break down certain foods.
The most notorious offenders are dairy, wheat, corn, sugar, soy, eggs and peanuts. Keep a food diary to identify negative reactions (which may be delayed by hours or days after you’ve eaten), then root out food sensitivities by following an elimination diet for at least a week. (For more on that, see “False Fat” in the March/April 2003 archives.)
By eliminating the foods that irritate your body and eating more of those that help your body combat inflammation, you’ll get rid of a lot of bloating and water retention, produce fewer “weight-gain” hormones, and have more energy for activity, says Elson Haas, MD, medical director of the Preventive Medical Center of Marin in San Rafael, Calif., and author of The False Fat Diet (Ballantine, 2001). That sounds like a slim-down strategy we can all live with.
One year it’s this diet trend, the next year it’s that diet trend. The funny thing is that, aside from the all-celery and 8-grapefruits family of diets, all the smart diets end up saying pretty much the same thing: Eat bushels of fruit and vegetables, whole grains, less animal fat, and cut out refined foods. Genius!
Lately there’s been a flood of diet books based on the anti-inflammatory concept. The gist is that constant or out-of-control inflammation in the body leads to illness, and that eating to avoid constant inflammation inspires better health and can fend off disease. We generally think of inflammation as the painful part of arthritis, but inflammation is also a component of chronic diseases such as heart disease and strokes. Which is why proponents of the diet say it can reduce heart disease risk, keep existing cardiac problems in check, reduce blood triglycerides and blood pressure, and soothe sore and stiff arthritic joints.
Specifics vary from one anti-inflammatory diet to another, but in general, anti-inflammatory diets recommend:
  • Eat plenty and a variety of fruits and vegetables.
  • Eat little saturated and trans fats.
  • Eat omega-3 fatty acids, such as fish or fish oil supplements and walnuts.

  • Limit your intake of refined carbohydrates such as white pasta and white rice.
  • Increase your consumption of whole grains such as brown rice and bulgur wheat.
  • Limit (or quit) your consumption of red meat and full-fat dairy foods, increase lean protein and plant-protein source.
  • Avoid refined foods and processed foods.
  • Generously use anti-inflammatory spices.

By incorporating these herbs and spices into your diet, you get great flavors with healing properties. Researchers from the University of Michigan have found, for example, that basil has anti-inflammatory activity compared to ibuprofen, naproxen, and aspirin!

Top anti-inflammatory herbs and spices:
Black Pepper
Ready to tame the inflammation? Try these:
Parsley, garlic, and superfood walnuts: Parsley & Walnut Pesto
Double yummy whammy!: Ginger & Turmeric Tea
The all-star anti-inflammatory round-up: Vegetarian Curry

Saturday, July 27, 2013

The Weight of the Nation: Part 3 - Children in Crisis (HBO Docs)

The Weight of the Nation: Part 2 - Choices (HBO Docs)

The Weight of the Nation: Part 1 - Consequences (HBO Docs)


Fruits, and veggies, and whole grains, oh my! Beyond the grocery store shelves lined with less-than-healthy processed foods in brightly-colored packaging, there are still hundreds of healthy options waiting to be picked up and put in your shopping cart. (Many come in vibrant natural packaging!) They span every food group, from fruits and veggies to grains, dairy, and healthy fats! Here are 26 of our favorites, one for each letter of the alphabet, along with what makes them so super. (Plus a few healthy recipes to help you get super with some superfoods in the kitchen.)Superfoods A-to-Z
If you’ve spent even a few minutes on Greatist, it’s no secret we’re huge fans of avocados. (There’s even an avocado-shaped piñata in our office!) There’s good reason, too: Avocados are a great source of monounsaturated fat (which can improve cholesterol levels, decrease risk of heart disease, and benefit brain function), vitamin E (a powerful antioxidant), and vitamin B6 (which promotes healthy skin and serves as a back-up fuel) [1] [2]. Plus, they’re just darn delicious (kale salad with avocado and grapefruit, anyone?). Just remember not to overdo it — this fruit is pretty heavy and high in calories, it’s probably best to consume no more than about half a fruit per day.
Try It Now: Dark Chocolate Avocado Cookies
Other A Superfoods: almondsasparagus, apples
Photo by Marissa Angell

It’s hard to beat beets. First off, let’s talk about that color: Beets are high in betalain, an antioxidant that gives them that purple hue and may help ward off cancer and other degenerative diseases [3]. Vitmains A, B, and C offer additional benefits ranging from bolstering the immune system to helping the body produce collagen [4]. A healthy dose of potassium, which is essential for proper organ function, and fiber, which keeps the digestive tract regular and helps maintain heart health, help round out beets’ nutrition profile.
Try It Now: Spinach-Citrus Salad with Roasted Beets and Almond Vinaigrette
Other B Superfoods: broccoliblueberriesbananasbeans
These little seeds may have gained fame as the base of the 90s chia pet craze, but they offer oh so much more as a superfood. Chia seeds are packed with magnesium, iron, calcium, and potassium. Plus, they’re perfect for adding to smoothies, yogurt, and pudding. The little seeds can absorb up to 10 times their weight in water, which some studies suggest can help the body stay hydrated longer and may improve overall endurance [5].
Try It NowPumpkin Chia Seed Pudding
Other C Superfoods: cantaloupecherriescinnamoncauliflowercranberries,cabbage
Dates are great for a few reasons. First off, they’re a perfect healthy recipe substitution for both sugar and/or butter in baking. They’re also packed with fiber (which is essential for good heart and digestive health) and vitamins and minerals including potassium, selenium, copper, and magnesium [6].
Try It Now: Fruit and Nut Bars
Other D Superfoods: dilldandelion greens
Photo by Marissa Angell

Eggs are one of the best superfoods because you get a good serving of protein in an inexpensive little package. Just 70 calories and 6 grams of protein, eggs are also rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which help with proper body function and heart health. They’re good for the eyes, too: The antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin (found in the yolks) help protect the eyes from light and free radicals (and may even help prevent eye degeneration that can present with age) [7]. And while there’s been much debate about the health of those lil’ yellow centers (some say their cholesterol content is bad news bears), the yolks are full of choline, a B vitamin essential for proper brain function [8] [9].
Try It Now: Brussels Sprout and Egg Scramble
Besides their crazy-high fiber content, research suggests the omega-3s in these seeds can help lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease[10] [11]. It is important to note that the positive effects of flaxseed on cholesterol have been shown to be temporary, meaning they can wear off if regular (daily) consumption stops [12]. Add the seeds (whole or ground) to baked goods, oatmeal, or a salad, and skip the flax oil, which may not have the same awesome cholesterol-regulating powers [13].
Vitamins C and K, beta-carotene, and resveratrol are the health-benefit stars of this favorite super-fruit. These vitamins act as antioxidants in the body to help eliminate free radicals that can cause cellular damage [14][15]Resveratrolhas made headlines for its potential to lower LDL cholesterol, help inhibit cancer cell growth, and treat cognitive impairment [16][17].
Hemp Seed and Yogurt
Photo by Caitlin Covington

The biggest benefit here comes from essential fatty acids and protein. Those fatty acids (including polyunsaturated fats and omega-3s) may help fight coronary heart disease, cancer, and even symptoms of depression [18]. These little seeds aren’t lacking in vitamin and minerals, either — they’re high in magnesium, zinc, and iron. Gamma linolenic acid (aka GLA, also found in breast milk) also makes an appearance, adding a variety of benefits ranging from allergy defense, to helping treat attention deficit disorder, and even helping lower cholesterol levels [19].
Try It Now: Chia, Hemp, and Buckwheat Breakfast Pudding
Inca Berries
(aka cape gooseberries or, ground cherries, or husk cherries)
Here’s yet another superfood native to South America (along with goji berries and quinoa, to name a few!). Incan berries are packed with vitamins C and A, iron, niacin, and phosphorous. They’re also high in protein (especially for a berry!) and fiber. When eaten, they start off with a sweet flavor and finish with a bit of a sour twist.
Try It Now: Husk Cherries with Goat Cheese on Toast
Other I Superfoods: ice water
Jalapeño Peppers
Jalapeños are packed with capsaicin, a compound found in spicy peppers that’s credited with speeding up metabolism and suppressing appetite [20] This magical compound also increases fat oxidation (so the body can more easily use fat as fuel) [21].
Try It Now: Healthier Jalapeño Popper Chip Dip
Kiwi Parfait
Photo by Caitlin Covington

Aside from containing a superhuman amount of vitamin C (243 percent of the daily recommended amount in just two fruits), kiwi is a fantastic source of folate, which is essential for overall cell health. Some studies suggest it may even reduce the risk of heart disease and colon cancer [22].
Try It Now: Greek Yogurt and Kiwi Parfait
Other K Superfoods: kale
It’s no secret that citrus fruits — like the mighty lemon — are packed with vitamin C, which is essential for the body to produce collagen (which helps keep blood vessels, tendons, ligaments, and bones healthy and strong. Plus, they’re filled with the antioxidants known as flavonoids, which may help reduce risk of heart disease, reduce inflammation, and fight some cancers [23] [24]. (Citrus fruit and pancreatic cancer risk: a quantitative systematic review. Bae J.M., Lee E.J., Guyatt G. Department of Preventative Medicine, Cheju National University College of Medicine, Jeju, Jejudo, Korea. Pancreas, 2009 Mar; 38(2):168-74.)). To get the biggest benefits from these sour sweeties, pair withfoods high in iron (like leafy greens and red meat): Vitamin C helps the body absorb iron, too!
Try It Now: Healthier Lemon Artichoke Dip
Other L Superfoods: lentilsleeks
Believe it or not, it’s the chocolate version of this cafeteria treat that’s touts some serious post-workout health benefits. Studies suggest that this delicious drink provides the optimal ratio of carbohydrates and protein for gym-goers to consume post-exercise. The research suggest that a chocolate milk fix could help improve performance, make for quicker exercise adaptation, and lead to better body composition [25].
Try It Now: Healthier Chocolate-Blueberry Smoothie
Mixed Nuts
Giant bags of assorted nuts have been known to appear at the Greatist office regularly — and not just because they’re irresistibly delicious. The unsaturated fats in nuts are good for your heart, and some types (looking at you, almonds) can help lower blood pressure and body fat (when combined with a low-calorie diet) [26]. Nuts are also a good source of protein, making them perfect for a healthy midday snack to keep you full longer. While they can be a bit high in calories, they’re also nutrient-dense, meaning that you get a big nutritional bang for your calorie buck!
Try It Now: Fruit and Nut Bars
By now, the whole “whole-grains” thing is burned into all of our brains, right? Good news: Oatmeal, that unassuming, easy, delicious breakfast staple is a great source of whole grains. It’s that “whole” part that makes oatmeal a great source of fiber, which has been shown to help lower blood cholesterol, aid in digestion, and improve metabolism [27]. While those instant oatmeal packets are certainly convenient, we recommend making your own at home to cut out any unnecessary sugar or additives (and so you can customize to your liking).
Try It Now: Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal
This superfood goes way beyond the standard pie — you can enjoy its health benefits in oatmeal (see recipe above), roasted and served in a salad, or in baked goods. The orange flesh of these Fall favorites is rich in antioxidants and vitamins including beta-carotene (essential for eye health), fiber, and vitamin K (which may reduce risk for some types of cancer) [28] [29]. But don’t stop with the actual meaty part of this gourd — the seeds are healthy, too. One ounce (about 140 seeds) is packed with protein, magnesium, zinc, and potassium, and studies suggest pumpkin seeds could help prevent enlargement of the prostate gland, lower the risk of bladder stones, and help prevent depression[30] [31] [32] [33].
Try It Now: Pumpkin Chia Seed Pudding
Other P Superfoods: pineapplepomegranatepistachios
Photo by Nicole Silver

It may look like rice or couscous, but this mildly nutty, grain-like staple is actually a seed related to green leafy vegetables like kale and Swiss chard. Quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wa) is one of the only grains or seeds that provide the nine essential amino acids our bodies can’t produce themselves [34].
Try It Now: Quinoa Apple Cake
These peppery, crunchy little beauties come in a few varieties, from white (also called daikon), to red, to (wait for it) watermelon! Some studies suggest certain compounds in radishes may be able to help stop the growth of some cancers (including breast cancer) [35]. More research suggests another compound found in radishes, anthocyanins (also found in cherries), may help prevent some cancers and even aid in muscle recovery after a tough workout (though this research is based on anthocyanins in cherries, not radishes) [36][37].
There’s nothing fishy about the health benefits of this seafaring superfood. Salmon is full of healthy omega-3 fatty acids, which studies suggest can help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease [38]. Those trusty Omega-3s may also help protect skin from UV-induced damage [39].
Try It Now: Baked Salmon with Avocado-Dill Yogurt
Other S Superfoods: spinachstrawberries
Photo by Jordan Shakeshaft

Tea is undoubtedly one of the go-to beverages in the Greatist office, and it’s this ancient tonic’s health benefits that keep us steeping more and more! From boosting endurance to reducing the risk of cardiovascular issues and (potentially) a bunch of cancers (including breast, colon, skin, and lung, to name a few), tea leaves are a great way to stay hydrated and healthy at the same time. Plus, some research suggests green tea could help prevent some types of skin cancer, while black tea may help cure those annoying sunburns [40].
Try It Now: Green-Tea Oatmeal
Other T Superfoods: turmeric
Ugli Fruit 
         (aka Tangelo)
These ugly Uglis are actually a type of tangelo from Jamaica. And, well, we’ll leave it to you to guess how it got it’s name. This citrus fruit is a cross between a grapefruit, Seville orange, and tangerine — sort of like a tangelo, but bumpier and more lopsided. One fruit contains about 140 percent of the daily recommended value of vitamin C and about 90 calories. (Photo: Betty B)
Try It Now: Ugli Fruit Smoothie
Good news: you can’t really go wrong with vegetables. Regardless of the variety you choose, they’re going to have at least a handful of redeeming qualities, from high levels of vitamins and minerals to a good dose of fiber.Green veggies are a great source of iron and calcium; red veggies are usually packed with lycopene and anthocyanins; and allium veggies like garlic and onions are full of antioxidants (which can help protect against free radical damage to the body’s cells (and especially the skin) [41] [42].
Try It Now: Mixed Vegetable Salad Platter
With just 48 calories per cup and packed with water, this refreshing fruit makes for the perfect healthy snack mid-summer (or any time of year). It’s low in sugar, and high in vitamins A and C, as well as the amino acid citrulline, which help the body produce another amino acid, arginine. Arginine can help lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease [43] [44]. This melon’s also a great source of lycopene, the super-healthy essential carotenoid found in tomatoes, that studies suggest can protect the body from UV rays, cardiovascular disease, and some forms of cancer [45] [46].
Try It Now: Watermelon-Lime Ice Pops
Other W Superfoods: wheatgrass
         (aka Watermelon)
Well, we’ve basically said it all. Xigua is just a specific type of the commonly known watermelon, so they have very similar (err, identical) health benefits. (Give us a break! There aren’t many foods that start with the letter X….)
Try It Now: Minted "Xigua" Salad
First, let’s get one thing straight: Yams and sweet potatoes are not the same thing (though, yes, sweet potatoes are also a superfood). These tubers are low on the glycemic index, meaning that they can be consumed without negatively affecting blood sugar levels, making them a great food to eat for sustained energy. On top of that, yams are a great source of fiber, vitamin B6, potassium, and manganese, which are key for things like proper production of serotonin, nervous system function, and wound healing [47] [48].
Try It Now: Caribbean Roasted Root Vegetable and Goat Cheese Spring Rolls
Come July and August, zucchini’s a staple on most grocery store shelves. The best part? It can be used perfectly in both sweet (think zucchini bread) and savory (think simply grilled) dishes. This green-skinned veggie is packed with vitamins C and B6, potassium, manganese, and folate. Plus, it’s low in calories (just 20 per cup!) and has a high water content, so it’s great for hydrating in the summer heat, too.
Try It Now: Zucchini Noodles with Leek-Tomato Sauce