Healthy Grilling for the 4th of July

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It’s a holiday weekend and many folks will be firing up the grill. Before you do, read this article from Dr. Joel Fuhrman and your backyard BBQ a healthy (and delicious) one.

Warmer weather and outdoor grilling often go hand-in-hand. Yet, research has shown that turning up the heat can cause potentially cancer-causing substances to form. Here are some ways to grill in the great outdoors while reducing your exposure to harmful substances.

  • Make vegetables your main attraction! If you have a grilling basket, fill it with your favorite sliced vegetables, or make vegetable skewers. Mushrooms, onions, garlic, cherry tomatoes, zucchini, and summer squash all combine well, but get creative with your top picks or seasonal harvests. Toss with a little water, balsamic vinegar, and some MatoZest or fresh or dried herbs such as basil, oregano or rosemary for a robust and nutritious dish. Try blending spices with walnuts and a bit of your favorite vinegar and brush it on the veggies frequently while grilling. If you are grilling any starchy vegetables you can soak or marinate them first in a water-vinegar mix to add to their water content to minimize the production of acrylamide, which is a cooking-related carcinogen formed when starches are cooked at high temperatures.1,2 Avoid eating the blackened portions of grilled vegetables, starchy or non-starchy.
  • Keep in mind that meats contain several harmful elements including animal protein, arachidonic acid and heme iron.4-7 When grilled or even cooked at high temperatures, carcinogenic compounds are also formed (see box).  Redefine the burger with bean or veggie burgers! Store-bought burgers often have added salt and concentrated soy protein, but you can make your own nutritious burgers. Try this recipe for Sunny Bean Burgers and toss them on the grill.
  •   As an alternative to burgers, serve up grilled portabella mushrooms (marinated in your favorite vinegar) and serve on a toasted whole grain pita with sliced tomato, raw onion and a pesto dressing made from basil, avocado and pine nuts.
  •   Grill corn on the cob in the husk or make party corn cobs by husking, spraying lightly with a mix of extra-virgin olive oil and water, and sprinkling with your favorite herbs. Place on the grill for 6-10 minutes, rotating frequently to minimize browning.
  •   When it comes to grilling, vegetables, mushroom and bean burgers are the safest choices. But for those who choose to grill and eat meat occasionally:
  • To minimize these harms, limit your portions consistent with a Nutritarian diet: Use only small amounts of meat mixed in with a bean burger and some mushrooms and onion. The phytates in the beans sop up the hydroxyl radicals and excess iron from the meat, reducing its toxicity. Also, anti-cancer foods like onions, garlic and cruciferous vegetables may help the body detoxify some of the HCAs.8-11
  • Completely avoid processed meats, such as hot dogs and sausages. NOCs are potent carcinogens; there is convincing evidence that processed meats (and red meats) are a cause of colorectal cancers, and high intake of processed meat is also associated with heart disease, stroke and diabetes.12-15
Meat-related Carcinogens3
Formed in meats cooked at high temperatures

  • Heterocyclic amines (HCAs) – formed in hamburger, steak, chicken, and fish as a reaction between creatinine amino acids and glucose. Higher temperatures and longer cooking times increases HCA production
  • Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) – formed from flames and smoke; when meat juices drip and flame hits meat
  • N-nitroso compounds (NOCs) – formed in the stomach from nitrate/nitrite preservatives, found in processed meats

References:

  1. Parzefall W: Minireview on the toxicity of dietary acrylamide. Food Chem Toxicol 2008;46:1360-1364.
    2. Hogervorst JG, Baars BJ, Schouten LJ, et al: The carcinogenicity of dietary acrylamide intake: a comparative discussion of epidemiological and experimental animal research. Crit Rev Toxicol 2010;40:485-512.
    3. National Cancer Institute. Chemicals in Meat Cooked at High Temperatures and Cancer Risk. http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/Risk/cooked-meats. Accessed July 1, 2014.
    4. National Cancer Institute: Food Sources of Arachidonic Acid [http://appliedresearch.cancer.gov/diet/foodsources/fatty_acids/table4.html]
    5. de Lorgeril M, Salen P: New insights into the health effects of dietary saturated and omega-6 and omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids. BMC Med 2012;10:50.
    6. Kaaks R: Nutrition, insulin, IGF-1 metabolism and cancer risk: a summary of epidemiological evidence. Novartis Found Symp 2004;262:247-260; discussion 260-268.
    7. Brewer GJ: Iron and copper toxicity in diseases of aging, particularly atherosclerosis and Alzheimer’s disease. Exp Biol Med 2007;232:323-335.
    8. Murray S, Lake BG, Gray S, et al: Effect of cruciferous vegetable consumption on heterocyclic aromatic amine metabolism in man. Carcinogenesis 2001;22:1413-1420.
    9. Walters DG, Young PJ, Agus C, et al: Cruciferous vegetable consumption alters the metabolism of the dietary carcinogen 2-amino-1-methyl-6-phenylimidazo[4,5-b]pyridine (PhIP) in humans. Carcinogenesis 2004;25:1659-1669.
    10. Kurzawa-Zegota M, Najafzadeh M, Baumgartner A, et al: The protective effect of the flavonoids on food-mutagen-induced DNA damage in peripheral blood lymphocytes from colon cancer patients. Food Chem Toxicol 2012;50:124-129.
    11. Wilson C, Aboyade-Cole A, Newell O, et al: Diallyl sulfide inhibits PhIP-induced DNA strand breaks in normal human breast epithelial cells. Oncol Rep 2007;17:807-811.
    12. Continuous Update Project. Colorectal Cancer Report 2010 Summary: Food, Nutrition, Physical Activity, and the Prevention of Colorectal Cancer.: World Cancer Research Fund/American Institute for Cancer Research; 2011.
    13. Chen GC, Lv DB, Pang Z, et al: Red and processed meat consumption and risk of stroke: a meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies. Eur J Clin Nutr 2013;67:91-95.
    14. Micha R, Wallace SK, Mozaffarian D: Red and processed meat consumption and risk of incident coronary heart disease, stroke, and diabetes mellitus: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Circulation 2010;121:2271-2283.
    15. John EM, Stern MC, Sinha R, et al: Meat Consumption, Cooking Practices, Meat Mutagens, and Risk of Prostate Cancer. Nutr Cancer 2011:1.

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Oatmeal Banana Muffins

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These muffins are delicious – My kids love ’em for breakfast or a snack.
They make a  great post-work snack too.
2 cups old fashioned rolled oats (not the quick cooking kind)
1/3 cup natural peanut butter
2 ripe bananas mashed
1/8 cup raw honey or maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/8 cup  unsweetened almond milk (if mixture seems too dry, add another TBSP or so)
              *any unsweetened plant based milk will do
1/4 cup chocolate chips
*Optional nutrient boosting add-ins: 2 TBSP ground flax seeds, 2 TBSP hemp seeds,
Preheat oven to 350
Mix all the wet ingredients in a bowl. Add the oats and chocolate chips and mix well. Lightly oil a muffin tin and spoon batter into each cup.  Bake in the oven for 15 minutes. Makes 12 full size or 24 mini muffins.
These can be kept in the fridge for several days or frozen.
*options: use unsweetened applesauce instead of bananas; use your favorite nut butter in place of peanut butter.
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Mango Salad with Spicy Peanut Dressing

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This delicious summer-y salad is packed with nutrients.  Just look at those colors!

And what’s not to love about peanut sauce? Seriously…

Salad Ingredients

1 mango, diced
1 head butter lettuce, coarsely chopped (or your choice of salad greens)
1 red pepper, diced
1/2 cup red cabbage, shredded
1 small cucumber, diced
2 carrots, shredded
1/2 c edamame (shelled)
1 avocado, diced
2 scallions, chopped
1/4 c fresh cilantro, chopped (optional)
1 tsp black sesame seeds, for garnish

 
Dressing Ingredients

1/2 cup creamy all natural peanut butter
3/4 cup coconut milk
1-2 TBSP Sambal, to taste (red chili paste)
2 TBSP lime juice
1 TBSP brown sugar or to taste
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
1 TBSP minced fresh ginger
2 TBSP soy sauce

Instructions

Combine the dressing ingredients in a saucepan and whisk over low heat combined. If necessary, add water or vegetable broth to thin to desired consistency. Tranfers to a covered bowl/container and refrigerate.

Combine salad ingredients except for sesame seeds in a large bowl. Drizzle with dressing and garnish with sesame seeds.

 

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Start a Plant Based Diet

28 day

Have you considered trying a plant based diet, but you’re not really sure where to start? Well, I have created a plan that is easy and affordable and takes out all of the guess work. I urge you to give it a try.

My 28 Day Kick-Start gives you the tools you need to kick-start your health with a plant strong diet.

The online program includes:

  • 4 week menu plan of delicious meals with recipes (PDF)
  • Nutrition and Health related information    
  • Access to Facebook group for continued support

 

Eat Healthy & Thrive 28 Day Kick-Start Online Program is totally self-paced with no one-on-one coaching or email support. You get access to everything you need to follow the program on your own.

The 28 Day Guided Program gives you everything listed above, as well as unlimited phone and email access and individual support for the duration of the program. Calls and emails will be returned within 24 hours.

Research shows that people who eat plant-based diets have lower weight, reduced risk of chronic diseases, better nutrient intake, reduced risk of food-borne illnesses, lower exposure to dietary contaminants, and very often, better management of chronic health conditions such as high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes.

Good health is a choice that you can make today!

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Easy Veggie Tacos

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I have 3 requirements for meals that I make at home: easy, delicious and plant strong. This recipe definitely fits the bill. It’s a favorite in my house and I’m sure you will love it too.

Ingredients:

  •         1/2 c chopped onion
  •         1 clove garlic, minced
  •         1 lb sliced mushrooms
  •         2 zucchini, sliced or cubed
  •         1 yellow or red or green bell pepper, chopped
  •         1 c  corn
  •         1 15oz can of black beans
  •         salt/pepper to taste
  •         chili powder to taste
  •         Tomato, chopped
  •         avocado, chopped
  •      whole grain or sprouted grain tortillas

 

Instructions:

Toss veggies in a bowl with seasonings. Spread them out  on a cookie sheet or shallow pan and roast in the oven at 400 degrees for about 15-20 minutes. Heat beans on stovetop. Heat tortillas til soft.  Assemble tacos, top with tomatoes and avocado. Add salsa if you prefer. These are also delicious wrapped in lettuce leaves if you wanted to forego the tortillas. *optional – garnish with cilantro. The salt is optional and can easily be omitted.

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Plant Powered 4th of July Feast

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The 4th of July usually involves backyard BBQ’s and potluck dinners, but those fun festivities don’t have to center around a slab of meat on the grill. Did you know that grilled meat (any meat – chicken, fish, beef and pork) contains carcinogens?

You can still fire up the grill – just toss veggies on instead! Grilled corn on the cob, eggplant, zucchini, onions, mushrooms and peppers are delicious and don’t forget about the fruit – pineapple, nectarines and peaches are simply amazing. Just load up some skewers with your favorites and toss them on the grill for a few minutes.

These plant strong recipes are definite crowd pleasers:

Spicy Watermelon Salad

This recipe is delicious and refreshing – a perfect summer side dish. The sweet watermelon is enhanced with the flavors of lime and mint and the kick from the chili’s rounds it out perfectly.

*adjust ingredients to taste

  • 5-6 cups Watermelon diced
  • 1-2 *chili peppers finely minced
  • 3-4 mint leaves minced
  • lime juice (1-2 limes)

*You can substitute red pepper flakes or sambal for the chili’s if you prefer.

Cut up watermelon into large chunks. Reserve any juice and mix it with the lime juice, mint and chili peppers. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and refrigerate.

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White Bean & Wild Rice Veggie Burger

  • 1/2 c uncooked wild rice, rinsed
  • 1 c red onions, finely chopped
  • 1 c celery, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 tsp dried basil
  • 1/4 tsp dried parsley
  • 1/4 tsp Mrs. Dash Original no-salt seasoning
  • 1/2 c almonds, lightly toasted
  • 1 1/2 c cooked white beans or
  • 1 (15 ounce can) no-salt-added or low sodium white beans, drained 100% whole grain bread crumbs or old fashioned oats if needed to adjust consistency

Instructions:

Combine rice and 2 cups water (or no-salt-added or low sodium vegetable broth for additional flavor) in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 45 minutes or until rice is tender. Drain any excess water.

While rice is cooking, water saute onions, celery and garlic over low flame for 10 minutes or until tender. Stir frequently to prevent burning; cover sporadically to soften vegetables, but uncover to let water steam off. Stir in basil, parsley, and Mrs. Dash.

Finely chop almonds in food processor. Add beans and process until beans are pureed and mixture is well combined. Place in a bowl and stir in wild rice and onion mixture.

Form into burgers. If mixture is too wet, a small amount of whole grain bread crumbs or oats may be added. Place burgers on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake at 350 degrees F for 40 minutes, turning after 20 minutes.

 

 

Israeli Couscous Salad

  • 1 1/2 c Israeli couscous
  • 1 c cucumber, quartered and thinly sliced
  • 1/4 c minced fresh flat leaf parsley 10 to 12 basil leaves, thinly sliced (to taste)
  • 3 ripe nectarines, pitted and diced
  • 1 c halved cherry tomatoes
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • 2 to 3 TBSP lemon juice
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • Mixed baby greens, as needed
  • 1/4 c toasted pine nuts or toasted slivered almonds green onions, chopped

Bring 5 cups of water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add the Israeli couscous and simmer for about 8 minutes, or until al dente. Drain and rinse with cool water until the couscous is at room temperature.

In a mixing bowl, combine the couscous with the remaining ingredients except the last two. Toss well to combine.

Line a large serving platter with some greens. Mound the salad over them. Sprinkle the top with the toasted nuts and green onions. Serve at once or cover loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate until needed.

 

 

Cherry Vanilla Ice Cream (Dairy Free)

Ingredients:

  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 cups cherries, pitted (fresh or frozen is fine)
  • 15 dates, pitted
  • 1 1/2 cups coconut milk
  • Pinch sea salt

Directions:
Place all ingredients and only 1 cup cherries into the blender and mix well. Add remaining cherries and pulse a bit to break them up. If you don’t like chunks in your ice cream, blend until smooth.
If you have an ice cream maker, chill the mix so it’s cold and process in the ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions. Freeze in a large, airtight glass container. No ice cream maker? Just pour into a large, airtight glass container and freeze.
Thaw for about 10 minutes before serving. Enjoy!

 

 

No Bake Berry Cheesecake (vegan)

* even though this is made with healthy ingredients, it is still calorie dense, so watch your portion size!

The recipe is definitely a labor of love – but it’s perfect for a special occasion.

Crust:

  • 1 c raw nuts (any combination works. I use walnuts, almonds and cashews)
  • 1 c unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 8 Medjool dates, pitted (soaked in water for 5-10 minutes)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

In a food processor, process the nuts and coconut to the consistency of course sand. Add the dates and vanilla and process until combined well.  Press the crust into the bottom of a nonstick spring-form pan or a pie plate. Place the crust in the fridge while you make the filling.

Filling:

  • 2 c macadamia nuts (soaked overnight)
  • 1 package (organic) firm silken tofu (drained)
  • 2 TBSP nutritional yeast
  • 2 TBSP vanilla extract
  • ½ c lemon juice
  • 10 Medjool dates, pitted and soaked in water for 5-10 minutes (blended into a paste with the lemon juice, using a blender or food processor)

The day before you plan on serving, blend the soaked macadamia nuts in a Vitamix or other high powered blender with just enough water to blend until smooth. Pour the mixture into a cheesecloth and let drain overnight.

To make the filling:

In a food processor or high powered blender, process the macadamia cheese and the rest of the filling ingredients until smooth. Pour the filling into your crust and place in the freezer for an hour.

Topping:

  • 1 package of defrosted raspberries, strawberries, blueberries or blackberries (or a combination of your favorites)
  • 2 TBSP chia seeds
  • 2 Medjool dates (blended into a paste with a small amount of lemon juice or water)

Mix all ingredients and leave in the fridge for several hours.

Right before serving, pour the berry mixture over the cake.

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Amaranth Breakfast Porridge

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What is Amaranth?

Amaranth is often lumped into the “grains” category, but it is in fact the seed of a cereal-like herb. It’s amazingly versatile and deserves its place as a highly regarded “superfood.”

Amaranth has an extremely high protein complex, with unusually concentrated amounts of lysine, an amino acid rarely found in plants. A combination of amaranth and other low-lysine grain, such as wheat, creates a very high amino acid profile, even higher than those found in meats and other animal products.

Amaranth contains more calcium, and the supporting calcium cofactors (magnesium and silicon) than milk. The calcium found in amaranth is therefore highly absorbable and easily utilized by the body.

A gluten free food, amaranth is also easily digested, making it especially useful for very active people, vegetarians, and pregnant and breastfeeding women.

How to use Amaranth

Amaranth can be cooked in the same way as rice. This is a good way to try amaranth, if you’ve not eaten it before. To obtain optimum nutrients from this grain, it is recommended that amaranth be soaked for 8 -10 hours.

Cooked Amaranth has a slightly sticky texture. Be careful not to overcook it, as it can become gummy.

 

Amaranth Breakfast Porridge

Ingredients:

•1 cup amaranth

•3 cups water

•1-2 Tbsp lemon juice (optional)

•Toppings of your choice: ground flax seeds, sunflower or pumpkin seeds, chopped raw nuts, fresh fruit, unsweetened coconut flakes, goji berries, nut butter, non-dairy milk, cinnamon

Directions:

In a medium bowl, place water, lemon juice, and amaranth and soak overnight (on countertop or fridge) After amaranth has soaked, rinse under cold water and drain. In a small pot, add soaked amaranth and 3 cups of water. Bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Remove from heat, and stir in your favorite toppings.