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Meatless Monday: Fat Free Vegan Cabbage Soup

Today I have a really healthy and easy recipe for you, especially if you’re interested in losing some weight, feeling better and eating more home cooked food. It’s a delicious spin on cabbage soup.

Fat Free Vegan Cabbage Soup Recipe
Serves 8

IMG_3121-0.JPGIngredients:

2 medium sweet onions, diced (like Vidalia)
5 cloves of garlic, minced
10 oz.(283 g) package of mushrooms, sliced
2 tsp fresh thyme (or 1 tsp dried)
6 large stalks of celery, leaves removed and sliced
4 large carrots, peeled and sliced
1/2 head of green cabbage, shredded
2 (16oz) cans of fire roasted diced tomatoes (Muir Glen Organics)
10 cups of low sodium vegetable broth
Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:

1. Sauté onions, garlic and mushrooms in 2-3 cups of vegetable broth for 5-6 minutes until the onions are tender. (Mushrooms take longer to cook than the rest of the veggies, so we’re cooking them first.)

2. Add the rest of the vegetables, the thyme, the canned tomatoes, and the vegetable broth

3. Cook the vegetables over medium heat for 30-40 minutes or low heat for 1.5-2 hours until the vegetables are tender.

4. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add a little cayenne or chili pepper if you like the soup spicy. If you like your soup a little thinner you can add a little more vegetable broth or water if desired. But don’t add too much or you will dilute the flavor.

5. Serve!

Original recipe by Veronica Grace, The Low-Fat Vegan Chef

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Dietary Fats: What’s Good and What’s Bad ?

Certain fats should be part of your healthy diet. They can lower your risk of disease. But you should make sure that you’re eating “good” fats instead of “bad” fats.

Why do I need fat in my diet?

Your body uses fat for energy. It also uses fat to build nerve tissue and hormones and to control inflammation. Fat also helps your body absorb vitamins A, D, E and K from the foods you eat.
But consuming too much fat can contribute to obesity. Fat calories turn into body fat more easily than carbohydrates or proteins. Fat in your diet can confuse your appetite, so you can’t tell when you are full. Some fats also raise your total cholesterol and blood pressure, and may increase your risk of some cancers, heart disease and diabetes.

How much is too much?

Fat contains 9 calories per gram – more than twice the calories of carbohydrates and protein, which have 4 calories per gram. Everyone has different calorie needs. Your doctor can help you figure out how many calories you need and how many of these can come from fat.

If you are overweight, the American Heart Association recommends that you get less than 30% of your total calories from fat. So, if your body needs 2,000 calories a day, you can have up to 65 grams of fat each day.

What are the “bad” fats?
Limit or avoid these fats:

Saturated fat is usually found in animal products, such as meat, poultry, eggs and dairy products such as cheese, cream and whole or 2% milk. Palm, coconut and other tropical oils, as well as cocoa butter, also contain saturated fat. Many snack foods, such as desserts, chips and French fries, are high in saturated fat. A diet high in saturated fats can increase your LDL (“bad”) cholesterol levels and can put you at risk for heart disease.

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Trans fats are a type of hydrogenated man-made fat usually found in processed foods, such as cookies, cakes, doughnuts, crackers, snacks and frozen foods, and in fried food, such as French fries and onion rings. Trans fat is especially bad for you. It lowers your HDL (“good”) cholesterol while raising your LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and triglycerides. All food manufacturers are now required to list trans-fat on nutrition labels. However, foods can have up to 0.5 grams of trans fat per serving and still be labeled trans-fat free. To avoid them completely, check the ingredients list and avoid partially hydrogenated oils.

The American Heart Association recommends that you get less than 7% of your total calories from saturated fats and less than 1% from trans fats. So, if your body needs 2,000 calories a day, you should eat less than 15 grams of saturated fat and less than 2 grams of trans fat.

The good fats

IMG_3069.JPGMonounsaturated fats are found in canola, olive, avocado, and peanut and other nut oils, as well as in legumes (dried beans and peas), olives, seeds, nuts, nut butters and fresh avocados.

Polyunsaturated fats are found in vegetable oils like corn, sunflower and safflower oil, as well as sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, corn, soybeans, and many other kinds of grains, legumes, nuts and seeds.

Omega-3 fatty acids are usually found in seafood, such as salmon, herring, sardines and mackerel. They can also be found in flaxseeds, flaxseed oil and walnuts.

Studies have shown that these fats, if used in place of saturated fat, can help you lower your total cholesterol level. Omega-3 fatty acids are especially beneficial—studies have shown that they can also decrease your risk of inflammation or heart attack if you are at risk for heart disease.

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Tips for a healthy diet

You don’t have to cut all fat out of your diet, but you should limit the amount of fat you eat. Try to eat foods made with unsaturated fat and avoid foods that are high in saturated and trans fats.
Other things you can do include:

Avoid fast food. It almost always contains trans-fat.

Limit the amount of red meat you eat. Instead, try to eat baked or broiled fish, poultry and vegetable proteins.

Use canola oil when you are baking.

Use olive oil when you are cooking, for salad dressings and as a spread on bread.

Make healthier snack choices. For example, snack on a small handful of unsalted peanuts or edamame (soy beans) instead of potato chips.

Try a slice of avocado on your sandwich or in your salad, or add nuts or garbanzo beans to a salad.

Use liquid or soft tub margarine instead of butter. Look for margarine that has low saturated fat and no trans fat.

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Meatless Monday: Rice and Black Bean Burritos

Mexican food is one of my favorite types of cuisine. I recently visited Los Angeles, California and this is what inspired me to find a good recipe for vegan burritos.

Rice and Black Bean Burritos
(Vegan, Gluten-Free)
Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 15 mins
Total time: 25 mins

Ingredients:
Tortillas for wrapping, use gluten-free if needed

For the Rice:
2 tbsp olive oil
1 white onion, diced (reserve some for beans)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup vegetable broth
1 cup diced fresh tomato
¼ cup water
1 cup rice

For the Chili-Lime Beans:
2 tbsp fresh lime juice
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp black pepper
¾ tsp chili powder
2 tsp cumin
2 cans black beans, well-rinsed, drained

Toppings:
Cilantro, finely chopped
Carrot, grated and peeled

Instructions:
1. Cook the onion and garlic in 2 tbsp of olive oil for 5-10 minutes in a sauce pan.

2. Add the rice, broth, water and tomato and cook, covered until rice is cooked. About 10-15 minutes.

3. Add the extra onion and garlic to a fry pan with the black beans, lime juice, cumin, chili powder, salt and pepper. Using a potato masher, mash up some of the beans in the pan and continue to cook for about 5-8 minutes until heated through.

4. Once the rice and beans are done, add to a large wrap with cilantro, carrot and salsa, roll up and enjoy!

5. Makes 4 very large burritos.

Variations: You could also add non-dairy cheese (Daiya) and serve with guacamole desired.

Recipe adapted from Deryn Macey

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Vitamins & Minerals…Do You Know Your ABCs?

Vitamin and mineral supplements not only fill the stores shelves…they fill the news. You may be questioning which dietary supplements you really need.

In this post, I will comment on six popular supplements:

1. B vitamins
Collectively, the B vitamins – B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B9 (folic acid) and B12 – can reduce stress and improve mood. Who needs to supplement their B? Three groups of people:

Vegans need the B12 found in meat, chicken, fish, dairy and eggs to prevent anemia and ensure healthy nervous system function.
People 65 and older may need B12 because it becomes hard to absorb from food as we age.
Women who are pregnant or trying to conceive need folic acid to help guard against birth defects.

2. Vitamin C
Vitamin C supplements may shorten the duration and misery of colds but are unlikely to prevent them. Personally, I don’t think people need C on a daily basis, but taking a large dose at the onset of a cold can be helpful.

It’s easy to get vitamin C from fruits and vegetables. But think beyond the orange. That morning glass of orange juice is full of sugar and carbs; look instead for vitamin C from bell peppers, broccoli, papaya and kiwi.

Avoid taking vitamin C with aspirin – both can irritate the stomach. And remember that high doses of Vitamin C may interfere with cholesterol medication.

3. Calcium
Best known for improving bone health, calcium is easy to find in milk, cheese and yogurt. Usually, when we think ‘calcium’ and imagine the cow, but there are plenty of plant-based sources as well, like spinach, kale, and collard greens.

It is important to know which type of calcium supplement you’re taking and when to take it. Calcium citrate can be taken at any time. Calcium carbonate must be taken with food. And because the body can absorb only so much calcium at one time, it’s best to take half in the morning and half at night.

4. Vitamin D
This is the supplement most healthcare providers recommend. Important for bone and muscle health, vitamin D is difficult to find in natural food sources. Fortified dairy products, cereals and breads usually don’t provide enough vitamin D. Sunshine – the other source of D – can be scarce.

Vitamin D, which works with calcium, is important for women as they age to prevent bones from becoming fragile. “Women often take a calcium supplement that has vitamin D in it. I recommend additional vitamin D to further increase vitamin D levels. Vitamin D3 is better absorbed than vitamin D2.

A Cleveland Clinic study recently found that vitamin D is best absorbed when taken with the largest meal of the day — preferably one containing healthy fats because vitamin D is fat-soluble.

5. Vitamin E
Daily vitamin E supplementation has been touted for preventing cancer and heart disease. However, a large, seven-year national study by Cleveland Clinic experts proved that men who took vitamin E every day actually increased their risk of prostate cancer by 17 percent. The longer the supplement was taken, the higher their risk.

The message: For most men, taking vitamin E supplements may do more harm than good.

Other studies have failed to show that vitamin E supplements protect against heart disease. For heart health, it’s safer to get vitamin E from dietary sources – safflower, sunflower and wheat germ oils; nuts and seeds; olives; and green veggies.

At high doses, vitamin E supplements act like a blood thinner and can increase the risk of bleeding.

6. Magnesium
Magnesium, the fourth most abundant mineral in the body, can help with muscle cramps, migraines and sleep problems. People are often deficient in magnesium and don’t realize it. Almonds, soy products and pumpkin seeds are great dietary sources of magnesium. Magnesium is typically found in calcium supplements to enhance absorption.

Benefits may not add up
A growing body of research seems to reinforce the role of dietary supplements as just that: supplements to our diet, taken to correct a deficiency.

The bottom line is to get most of your vitamins and minerals from dietary sources rather than from a pill. The majority of us don’t need to spend a lot of money on supplements. The best way to get enough vitamins is to follow a healthy diet that includes a wide range of fruits and vegetables.

A word on multivitamins
What if you aren’t consistently eating a well-balanced diet? A multivitamin is good for most adults who are not getting all the nutrients that they need every day.

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Meatless Monday: Wild Rice-Stuffed Pumpkin

Pumpkin stuffed with wild rice makes for a fun and tasty dish. Serve as a light lunch or with an entrée of your choice, and a fresh green salad, for a beautiful fall dinner. This is also a perfect substitute for the centerpiece of the meal, replacing turkey for vegans and vegetarians at Thanksgiving.

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Wild Rice-Stuffed Pumpkin
Vegan, Gluten-Free
Servings: 12

Ingredients:

2 1/2 cups of uncooked wild rice blend*
2 lb. fresh spinach, stemmed
Low Sodium Gluten-Free Vegetable Broth
¼ cup plus 2 Tbsp. Extra virgin olive oil, divided
6 cups sliced button mushrooms (1 ½ lb.)
1 large onion, chopped (2 cups)
1 cup diced celery
3 Tbsp. cloves garlic, minced, divided
3 Tbsp. chopped fresh sage, divided
4 tsp. chopped fresh thyme, divided
2 cups fresh or frozen corn kernels
1 15-oz. can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup chopped toasted pecans
1 6- to 8-lb. cooking pumpkin

Instructions:

1. Prepare wild rice blend according to package directions (using GF vegetable broth instead of water). Transfer to bowl.

2. Bring 1/2 cup of vegetable broth to a boil in bottom of skillet. Add spinach, and cook 4 minutes, or until wilted. Drain, and cool, then squeeze dry, chop, and add to rice in bowl.

3. Heat 2 Tbs. oil in skillet over medium heat. Add mushrooms, onion, celery, 4 tsp. garlic, 1 Tbs. sage, and 2 tsp. thyme; sauté 10 minutes, or until all liquid has evaporated. Stir in corn and kidney beans, and sauté 3 minutes. Stir mushroom mixture into rice mixture. Fold in pecans, and season with salt and pepper, if desired.

4. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line rimmed baking sheet with foil. Cut top from pumpkin, and scoop out seeds and pulp.

5. Combine remaining 1/4 cup oil, remaining 5 tsp. garlic, 2 Tbs. sage, and 2 tsp. thyme in bowl. Brush oil mixture over inside of pumpkin. Fill pumpkin with rice mixture, cover with top, and bake 1 1/2 to 2 hours, or until pumpkin is tender when side is pierced with knife tip. Uncover, and bake 10 to 20 minutes more.

*Variations:

IMG_2621.JPGFor individual servings, bake is small pumpkins and garnish with dried cranberries and toasted pumpkin seeds.

*Quinoa or quinoa/rice combo would be great too and add even more protein per serving.

Recipe from Vegetarian Times

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Homemade Halloween Oreos

IMG_2524.JPGWho doesn’t like Oreos? Oreos are delicious! So you probably wouldn’t believe me if I told you I don’t like Oreos. The truth is, I used to LOVE Oreos but I don’t eat them anymore. Why? Because the store bought Oreos are full of artificial ingredients, and quite frankly a chemical mess. So, I have been on a quest to find a “healthier” version that I could prepare at home and…wa-lah! I found this one:

Ingredients

For the cookies:
1/4 cup oat flour
2 tbsp almond flour
1/4 cup cocoa
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tbsp maple syrup
1 tbsp coconut oil, melted
1 tbsp apple sauce

For the filling:
1 tbsp coconut butter
2 tbsp pumpkin puree
juice from half an orange
stevia to taste

Instructions:

1. In a small bowl mix the dry ingredients for the cookies. Add the rest of the ingredients and combine. A slightly sticky dough should be formed.

2. Roll the dough into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap, and let it chill in the fridge for at least 10 minutes.

3. Preheat the oven to 400F.

4. In between two pieces of parchment paper, roll out the dough evenly and quite thin. Use cookie cutters to cut out shapes. Continue to roll out the dough and cut shapes until as much of the dough is used as possible (if there’s a little extra just eat it).

5. Place cookies on a parchment paper lined baking tray and bake for 5 minutes.

6. Remove from oven and let cool.

7. While the cookies are cooling, prepare the filling by melting the coconut butter and mixing with the rest of the ingredients.

8. To assemble the oreos, spoon some of the filling onto a cookie, spread it out, and place another on top, repeat with the rest of the cookies.

9. Store in an airtight container in the fridge.

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Recipe from: http://www.lovemefeedme.net

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Breast Cancer: How to Reduce Your Risks

With October coming to an end, I wanted to spend a little time discussing healthy ways to lower your risk of breast cancer.

Every woman wants to know what she can do to lower her risk of breast cancer. Some of the factors associated with breast cancer — being a woman, your age, and your genetics, for example — can’t be changed. Other factors — being overweight, lack of exercise, drinking alcohol, and eating unhealthy food — can be changed by making choices. By choosing the healthiest lifestyle options possible, you can empower yourself and make sure your breast cancer risk is as low as possible.

Make Healthy Lifestyle Choices

Here are 5 healthy lifestyle choices you can make
to reduce your own risk of breast cancer:

1. Maintain a healthy weight

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Obesity is not just linked to heart disease, diabetes, and stroke, but also to cancer. A recent study presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology shows that young women who are obese have a 34 percent increased risk of dying of breast cancer. Gaining weight after menopause further increases the risk of breast cancer.

If you have gained weight, losing weight may lower your risk of breast cancer.

2. Add exercise to your routine

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Physical activity not only burns energy (calories), but may also help lower the risk of breast cancer, especially for postmenopausal women. This is because exercise may lower estrogen levels, fight obesity and may boost the function of immune system cells that attack tumors. Here is all it takes to get started:

Before you start a new exercise program, see your doctor if you:

*Have been inactive for a long time
*Are overweight
*Have a high risk of heart disease

Include physical activity in your daily routine. All you need is moderate (where you break a sweat) activity — like brisk walking for 30 minutes a day.

Do whatever physical activity you enjoy most and gets you moving. After exercising, think about how good you feel. Use that feeling to motivate you the next time. If you are already physically active, keep up the good work!

3. Limit alcohol intake

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You may have heard about research that showed having one serving of alcohol (for example, a glass of red wine) each day improves your health by reducing your risk of heart disease. While that may be true, many studies have also shown that drinking alcohol can increase the risk of breast cancer. In general, the more alcohol you drink, the higher your risk of developing breast cancer. If you drink alcohol, have less than one drink a day. Getting enough folic acid may lower the risk linked to drinking alcohol. Folic acid can be found in multivitamins, oranges, orange juice, green vegetables and fortified breakfast cereals.

4. Limit postmenopausal hormones

IMG_2507.JPG For each year that combined estrogen plus progestin hormones are taken, the risk of breast cancer goes up. Once they are stopped, this increased risk returns to that of a woman who has never used hormones in about five to ten years. Menopausal hormones also increase the risk of other health conditions. Talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits.

5. Breastfeed, if you can

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Breastfeeding protects against breast cancer, especially in premenopausal women.

Breast cancer never sleeps and neither will the fight. So, get your pink on for the rest of the year–don’t leave the fight against breast cancer behind in October. Be aware! Be vigilant! Remember it is never too late to start!

1. Know your risk.
2. Get screened.
3. Know what is normal for you.
4. Make healthy lifestyle choices.

Learn more at: ww5.komen.org