Swiss Chard with Raisins and Pine Nuts

This is a unique dish that can make a wonderful side dish! The colors of the dish are quite festive too!

You’ll Need

 

  • 1 ½ pounds Swiss chard (preferably rainbow or red)
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts (2 ½ ounces)
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • ¼ cup golden raisins
  • 1 cup water
Directions
  • Tear chard leaves from stems, then coarsely chop stem and leaves separately.
  • Toast pine nuts in oil in a wide 6- to 8-quart heavy pot over moderated heat, stirring constantly, until golden, 1 ½ to 2 minutes, then transfer with a slotted spoon to paper towels to drain and season with salt.
  • Cook onion in  remaining oil in pot, stirring occasionally, 1 minute, then add chard stems and cook, stirring occasionally, 2 minutes.
  • Add raisins and ½ cup water and simmer, covered, until stems are softened, about 3 minutes.
  • Add chard leaves and remaining ½ cup water and simmer, partially covered, stirring occasionally, until leave are tender, about 3 minutes.
  • Season with salt and pepper. Serve sprinkled with pine nuts.

 

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Couscous with Eggplant

Veggies and whole grains are great for cholesterol control. For extra fiber use whole wheat couscous. This is a great and quick dish to make for a potluck!

You’ll Need

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons onions, finely chopped
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric
  • ½ teaspoon coriander
  • 1 cup eggplant, diced
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 cup couscous, precooked
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

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Energy Drinks Worse for Your Heart Than Caffeine Alone: Study

(via Reuters) Drinking 32 ounces of energy drink is associated with potentially harmful changes in blood pressure and heart function that are beyond those seen with caffeine alone, according to a new study.

There are more than 500 energy drink products on the market, and their increased popularity is matched by a significant rise in energy drink-associated emergency department visits and deaths.

Manufacturers and fans of these products claim they are as safe as caffeine, but there is little evidence to support that claim.

Caffeine in doses up to 400 mg (about five cups of coffee) is generally recognized as safe by the Food and Drug Administration. While energy drinks usually contain caffeine, little is known about the safety of some of their other ingredients the study team writes in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

To see what effects these other components have, researchers compared physical changes in a group of 18 healthy men and women after consuming a commercially available energy drink and after drinking another concoction with the same amount of caffeine but none of the other ingredients.

Besides 320 mg of caffeine – the amount in about four cups of coffee – the energy drink contained 4 ounces of sugar, several B vitamins and a proprietary “energy blend” of taurine and other ingredients that are often found drinks like Monster Energy, Red Bull and 5-Hour Energy.

Sachin A. Shah of David Grant Medical Center on Travis Air Force Base and University of the Pacific in Stockton, California, and colleagues measured the participants’ blood pressure and used an electrocardiogram (often called an ECG or EKG) to measure heart electrical activity for 24 hours after the subjects consumed the drinks.

Related: FDA Checks Into Deaths Linked to Energy Drink

An ECG change known as QTc prolongation and sometimes associated with life-threatening irregularities in the heartbeat was seen after drinking the energy drink, but not after drinking the caffeine beverage, the study team reports.

Several drugs have been withdrawn from the market just for causing ECG changes of a similar magnitude, the authors note.

Blood pressure increased by close to 5 points after drinking the energy drink, but by just under 1 point after drinking the caffeine beverage. Blood pressure also remained elevated six hours later.

These changes are by no means worrisome for healthy individuals, the researchers say, but patients with certain heart conditions might need to exercise caution consuming energy drinks.

Related: Can Caffeine Kill You?

Larger studies are needed to evaluate the safety of the noncaffeine ingredients contained in energy drinks, they conclude.

“The energy drink industry claims that their products are safe because they have no more caffeine than a premium coffee house coffee,” said Dr. Jennifer L. Harris from University of Connecticut’s Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity in Storrs, who wasn’t involved in the study.

“However, energy drinks also contain a proprietary ‘energy blend,’ which typically consists of stimulants and other additives. Some of these ingredients (including taurine and guarana) have not been FDA-approved as safe in the food supply, and few studies have tested the effects of caffeine consumption together with these ‘novelty’ ingredients,” she said by email.

“On top of that, energy drinks are highly marketed to adolescent boys in ways that encourage risky behavior, including rapid and excessive consumption,” she said. “As a result, emergency room visits by young people in connection with energy drinks are rising.”

Any research that compares the effects of consuming energy drinks versus caffeine alone provides important evidence for public health advocates who have urged the energy drink companies to stop targeting youth with these potentially harmful products, Harris added.

Related: Energy Drinks Can Be Harmful to Young Children

More than 5,000 cases of people who got sick from energy drinks were reported to U.S. poison control centers between 2010 and 2013, and almost half of those cases were in children did not realize what they were drinking

Energy drinks typically contain high levels of sugar and at least as much caffeine as a cup of coffee. But the drinks also often tout the energy-boosting effects of a mix of other ingredients, ranging from taurine and l-carnitine, naturally occurring amino acids, to ginseng (a Chinese herb typically used in alternative medicine). But despite this “special blend” of ingredients, studies suggest energy drinks don’t boost attention any better than a cup of coffee does.

Even just one 16-ounce energy drink can increase blood pressure and stress hormones and could put a healthy young adult at risk for heart damage, concludes a 2015 Mayo Clinic study.

The American Academy of Pediatrics says energy drinks have “no place” in the diet of children and adolescents.

 

Taking the stairs may boost energy more than drinking caffeinated beverages

For young women running on little sleep, 10 minutes of stair walking increased energy more than the amount of caffeine in a soda or half a cup of coffee, according to a small study.

This energy boost is relatively short, and overtired workers may need to do a few bouts of exercise throughout the day to keep up energy long term, the researchers write in the journal Physiology and Behavior.

“There are many people who are sleep deprived and report low energy. We focused on women because they more frequently report low energy compared to men,” said study coauthor Patrick O’Connor, a professor of kinesiology at the University of Georgia in Athens.

To compare the effects of caffeine and exercise on energy level, the study team recruited 18 female college students with average caffeine intake and physical activity levels.

The women in the study were also relatively sleep-deprived, with all reporting sleeping 6.5 hours or less per night.

Before starting the experiment, the women answered questions assessing their feelings of energy or vigor and their motivation levels.

The women also completed cognitive tests measuring their attention, short-term memory and reaction times.

Participants then received either a flour-filled placebo pill, a caffeine pill containing 50 mg of caffeine (about equivalent to a soda or half a cup of coffee), or completed a 10-minute stair-walking exercise.

After receiving a pill or doing the exercise, the women completed the cognitive tests and questionnaires two more times, 30 minutes and 50 minutes later. The women also rated their feelings of energy a third time, about an hour and 15 minutes after the experiment.

The experiment was repeated two more times over three days, to ensure that each woman experienced each experimental condition.

The researchers found that women who did 10 minutes of stair-walking reported significantly higher levels of energy than women who took the caffeine equivalent of a can of soda.

This effect lessened over time, though, and the caffeine and exercise groups had similar energy levels an hour after the experiment.

The interventions did not significantly affect attention, memory, or reaction time.

The effect of exercise in this study was fairly short-lived, O’Connor noted, but other studies suggest that multiple short bouts of exercise spread throughout the workday can offer more long-lasting energy, he said.

A person with low fitness may be fatigued by intense exercise, which could work against the positive effects they might get from it, noted Kumar, who was not involved in the study.

“For individuals who cannot have or prefer to abstain from caffeine, physical activity throughout the day is sufficient and recommended,” Kumar said by email.

Everyday ways to boost exercise and energy include, “Take the stairs versus the elevator, park in a further parking spot to increase your walking distance, walk or cycle to work or school instead of driving, and take walking breaks,” Kumar said.

“For sleep deprived office workers, especially during inclement weather, taking a 10-minute walk up the stairs can help office workers feel more energetic,” O’Connor said. “Take a break from sitting in your chair and walk up the stairs for a temporary boost in feelings of energy.”

SOURCE: bit.ly/2pJKxsV Physiology and Behavior, online March 14, 2017.

Avocado Salsa

 Avocados are super for our heart and overall health.

You’ll Need

  • 1 ripe avocado, coarsely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon finely diced red onion
  • 1 tablespoon minced jalapeno
  • 2 tablespoon fresh lime juice

It’s the easiest salad
Just mix them all together, salt and pepper to taste.

Note:
Another wonderful addition to this is coarsely chopped tomatoes and basil!

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A Healthy Taco Salad

I know, I know, taco salads are typically associated with bar food, horrible eating habits, and WAY too much beer!! 


But that doesn’t mean we can get all the healthy benefits of this super salad … you just have to control consumption. 

 
Try this at home … it’s delicious and a perfect quick spring time meal!

 

You’ll Need

  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 dash cayenne pepper
  • 1 (19 ounce) can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup salsa
  • 2 cups shredded lettuce
  • 2 small carrots, julienned
  • 2 red bell peppers, cut into thin strips

Directions

  • Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Stir in the onion and garlic; cook and stir until the onion has softened and turned translucent, about 5 minutes. 
  • Add the turkey, and stir until crumbly and no longer pink. 
  • Season with chili powder, cumin, oregano, cayenne pepper, kidney beans, and salsa. Cook over medium-high heat until the mixture is simmering and the beans are hot, about 5 minutes.
  • Divide the lettuce, carrots, and red bell peppers among 4 serving plates. 
  • Spoon the turkey mixture overtop to serve.
 

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Smoked Salmon Pasta

Salmon is a good source of omega 3 fatty acids which aid in cholesterol control and overall heart health.

You’ll Need

  • 8 ounce smoked salmon
  • 1/2 cup sundried tomatoes
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 cups green beans or chopped broccoli
  • 1/2 pound pasta, cooked
  • Capers, optional
  • Salt and pepper

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Vegetable Frittata

Frittatas are a great way to use up veggies that are almost out the door. Give this one a try but experiment with your own veggies too.

You’ll Need:

  • 1/3 cup chopped onion
  • 2/3 cup chopped green pepper
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 ½ cups scrubbed, chopped zucchini
  • 2 minced garlic cloves
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • ¼ cup peeled, seeded and chopped tomatoes
  • 6 large eggs, beaten

Directions:

  • In skillet, cook onions and green pepper in butter and 1 tablespoon olive oil stirring, 5 minutes.
  • Add zucchini, cook covered 4 minutes.
  • Add garlic, salt and tomato, cook stirring, 5 minutes.
  • Transfer to bowl.
  • Cool.
  • Add eggs.
  • Over medium heat, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in 10″ ovenproof skillet.
  • Add egg mixture, cook 3-5 minutes till underside is set.
  • Bake preheated 400 F degrees oven for 1 to 2 minutes till puffed and golden.
  • Cut into wedges.