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.

Endive Beet and Red Onion Salad

This dish provides some great color and is a nutritious and delicious side.

You’ll Need

  • ½ pound raw beets, trimmed
  • 3 heads of Belgian Endives, medium
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 Tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • salt and pepper
  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 Tablespoons finely chopped parsley

Directions

  • Place the beets in a saucepan and add water to cover.
  • Bring to a boil until the beets are tender, about 30 minutes, depending on the size or age of the beets.
  • Drain and let cool.
  • Remove the skins and slice the beets.
  • Trim off the bottom of the endives and cut them into 1 1/2 inch strips.
  • Drop the pieces into cold water.
  • Drain and pat dry.
  • Peel and slice the onion.
  • Combine the mustard, vinegar, salt and pepper in a salad bowl.
  • Add the oil and blend well with a wire whisk.
  • Add the beets, endive, onion and parsley.
  • Toss well and serve.

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Spicy Baked Sweet Potatoes

Here is an easy to make nutritious and delicious side option.

You’ll Need

  • 2 medium sweet potatoes
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons olive and coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon ginger powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
Directions
  • Wash and scrub potatoes leaving the skins on.
  • Cut the potatoes into 1/4 to 1/2 inch sticks or cubes and set aside
  • Mix together the spices and oil
  • Add the potato sticks to the mixture and coat well
  • Lay onto a cookie sheet and bake for 30 to 40 minutes.
  • Stir them halfway through cooking.

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Spanish Rice

 

Please share your recipes with us. This Spanish rice can complement a variety fish. Submitted by Ryan at Westinghouse. Thank you, Ryan!

You’ll Need:
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 cup tomato sauce
  • 6 slices bacon
  • 2 onions, diced
  • 1 cup uncooked white rice
  • 2 tomatoes, diced
  • 2 green bell peppers, diced
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 (10 ounce) can sliced black olives, drained (optional)
  • 1 (10 ounce) can whole kernel corn, drained (optional)
Directions:
  • In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine chicken broth and tomato sauce.
  • Bring to a boil while cooking the following:
  • In a large skillet over medium heat, cook bacon until evenly brown.
  • Chop bacon, and set aside, reserving a small portion of the bacon fat.
  • Add onion to skillet, and saute until tender.
  • Stir in rice, and cook until lightly browned, 3 to 5 minutes.
  • Pour in boiling chicken broth and tomato sauce.
  • Add diced tomatoes, green peppers, and chopped bacon.
  • Season with chili powder, salt, and pepper.
  • Cover, and simmer for 30 to 40 minutes.
  • Stir in black olives and corn.

FOOTNOTE
If you are going to double the recipe (I usually make a doubled recipe), use the same amount of bacon strips and oil, and keep to 1 can of olives and 1 can of corn, double all other ingredients.

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Chili

Invite friends over and enjoy a great chili and company.

You’ll Need

  • 1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 ½ cups chopped onion
  • 1 cup chopped green pepper
  • 1/2 pound ground beef
  • 1/4 pound ground pork
  • 1 can kidney beans
  • 1 ½ Tablespoons minced garlic
  • 3 Tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 4 cups canned tomatoes
  • 1 Tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon red hot pepper flakes
  • Salt to taste
Directions
  • Heat oil in skillet, add onion and green pepper.
  • Cook until wilted.
  • Add the meats and, using the edge of a heavy kitchen spoon, stir and chop the meat to break up any lumps.
  • Sprinkle the meat with garlic, chili powder, cumin and oregano.
  • Stir to blend.
  • Add the beans. Stir again then add the bay leaf, pepper, tomatoes, vinegar and crushed hot pepper.
  • Bring to a boil, lower simmer, and cook for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
  • Salt to taste

Research On Health Impact of High Cocoa Chocolate

Fifty-eight million pounds! That’s how much chocolate is purchased during the week of Valentine’s Day. We definitely have a love affair with this confection. The question is…does it love us back?

Well, the latest nutritional research has some very good news: Yes, chocolate totally loves us back. Just bear in mind that our true feelings are for the cocoa itself (specifically, its antioxidant catechins and epicatechins) and not for the artificial chocolate flavorings and candies that have little-to-no cocoa. So, if you’ve ever been concerned that your love affair with chocolate is one-sided—don’t worry. Here are the top four reasons chocolate loves you as much as you love it:

1. Chocolate will rev up your metabolism.

The consumption of cocoa encourages blood vessels to branch into cardiac and skeletal muscle tissue, which brings an influx of oxygen and nutrients. This increases the metabolism because it creates more (and more effective) mitochondria in the muscles, producing extra energy for you.

According to this study, cocoa epicatechins alone produce a 30 percent increase in fatigue resistance and a 30 percent increase in new blood supply. Even better, the increase in energy that you get from combining it with exercise amounts to a 50 percent energy boost.

So how long will it take for these changes to occur? It took two weeks for experimental animals to see a 30 percent increase in fatigue resistance. In a separate study, it took four weeks to see an increase of capillaries and mitochondria appear in the muscle tissue. So remember that consistent cocoa consumption is key, and chocolate can be your vehicle for that intake.

 

I doubt it surprises anyone that chocolate can light up your brain’s pleasure centers like a Christmas tree. But in addition to the short-term spritz of mood-boosting dopamine, endorphins, and serotonin, the psychoactive pleasure-palooza you get from cocoa can reduce measures of stress and anxiety. This 2010 study published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology showed that daily consumption of cocoa polyphenols for 30 days produced a 10 percent reduction in anxiety and a 10 percent improvement in measures of calmness. Given this, it’s not surprising that the subjects also reported less depression.

It’s important to note that improvements in emotional state only occur from sustained moderate levels of cocoa. You (unfortunately) can’t shortcut this by eating a lot all at once, because cocoa volume is not as important as consistency.

3. Your heart will thank you for your chocolate addiction.

It may be surprising to hear that high-cocoa chocolate is heart healthy because of its saturated fat content. But it turns out that like many evil villains, it’s just misunderstood. One-third of the cocoa-derived fats are composed of stearic acid, which doesn’t raise your bad cholesterol at all. Moreover, your liver converts it into heart-healthy oleic acid.

The consumption of cocoa fats can, in fact, raise your good cholesterol (HDL) and lower your bad cholesterol (LDL). Even better, the antioxidants in cocoa help fight the chronic vascular inflammation that often leads to atherosclerosis. All this may be why researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital found that people who ate more high-cocoa chocolate have fewer incidents of heart disease. Another meta-analysis of 114,009 participants showed that the highest levels of chocolate consumption were associated with a 37 percent reduction in cardiovascular disease and a 29 percent reduction in strokes.

This Australian study argues that eating 100 grams of dark chocolate per day is a more cost-effective solution than traditional medication and could save people’s lives. How popular would doctors be if they prescribed dark chocolate?

4. Chocolate will make your arteries happy.

So cocoa increases blood supply to your heart, increases good cholesterol and lowers bad cholesterol, and it also has an impact on the arteries that carry blood through the body, which determine your blood pressure.

A study of randomized control trials found that ingesting cocoa epicatechins (about 50 grams of 70 percent cocoa chocolate daily) reduces blood pressure by approximately 4.6 points for systolic and 2.1 points for diastolic. Why? It’s likely because consistent cocoa consumption increases the flexibility of your blood vessels. It makes them more elastic, so they can stretch (and not break) in response to high blood pressure spikes.

Again, the more consistently it is consumed, the greater the effect. After three days, the arterial elasticity was improved by approximately 40 percent. By day five, it was up to 65 percent. After one week, it had improved by 70 percent! This kind of high cocoa infusion is reversible, however. When it was withdrawn for a week, the arteries’ stretchiness started returning back to baseline.

From your heart to your head, from your muscles to your metabolism—your love of chocolate is totally returned. And by choosing high-cocoa chocolates and consistently having some every day, you can nurture this loving relationship. Win-win!