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!

Parmesan Polenta

Polenta is served in various parts of the Mediterranean. Some great things about this recipe are that it does not take a lot of ingredients and the ingredients are very basic. They come together to form quite a spectacular  dish! Enjoy.

You’ll Need

  • 9 ½ cups chicken broth
  • 2 cups yellow cornmeal
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 3 Tablespoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder

Directions

  • Bring chicken broth to boil in heavy large saucepan.
  • Reduce heat to medium.
  • Gradually whisk in corn meal. Cook until cornmeal is very soft and mixture is thick and creamy, whisking occasionally, about 20 minutes.
  • Remove from heat.
  • Stir in Parmesan cheese, onion powder and butter.
  • Season polenta to taste with salt and pepper.

 

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Spiced up Grits

A perfect side dish to complement a variety of meals

You’ll Need

  • ½ cup red bell pepper, chopped
  • ½ cup green onions, sliced
  • 2 Serrano chilies, deseeded and chopped
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 ½ cups milk
  • 1 ½ cups water
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • ¾ cup white hominy quick grits
  • 1 ½ cups Monterey Jack Cheese, shredded

Directions

  • In a skillet melt butter and saute the bell pepper, onions, and chilies until the pepper is tender.
  • In a large saucepan heat the milk, water, salt and pepper to boiling.
  • Gradually add the grits, stirring constantly, and reduce the heat when they have all been added.
  • Simmer uncovered, stirring frequently, until thick, about 5 minutes.
  • Stir in the bell pepper mixture and cheese.

Haley’s Comet Is Making My Cat Creaky, and Other Observations

When health pieces come out that seem too weird to be right, they probably are.

The article (pulled in below for your reading pleasure) makes the point, and I’ll chat about it in this video. 

 

ARTICLE FROM WP:

Trying to lose weight? The colder months might be the perfect time.

Freezing temps are no excuse to give up on fitness. As it turns out, you might stand a better chance of losing weight when it’s cold.
A new study published in the journal Scientific Reports found that people actively trying to shed pounds had the best results when the temperature dropped. The more inhospitable the weather, the more conscientious people became about keeping track of their meals and calories.“Climate-related factors can directly change a person’s behavior, and these factors can have a certain impact on intentional efforts to lose weight,” said Sang Youl Rhee, who led the research team at Kyung Hee University Medical Center in Seoul. “In addition, various climatic factors can lead to a significant change in the level of energy expenditure in the body.”

Researchers tracked the weight loss of 3,274 people under 42 throughout Europe, the Americas and Asia with Noom Coach, a fitness app that can pinpoint the location of users. They then used a meteorology service, called Weather Underground API, to monitor conditions, and discovered that colder temperatures and lower dew points as well as higher wind speed and precipitation were all linked to the app users’ weight loss.

On average, people logged into Noom 110 days during the year-long study, or roughly every three days. Men tended to use the app more frequently than women and were more likely to lose weight. People who logged their meals regularly, especially dinner, lost the most weight.

 “During the weight-loss journey, it’s important to focus on changing the underlying behaviors that lead to obesity,” said Rhee, an endocrinologist. “Those who continue logging food and have an awareness around what they are eating will be most successful in losing weight.”

Chronicling meals, physical activity and weight have been proven in previous studies to be effective ways to lose weight. A Kaiser Permanente study of 1,700 people found that those who kept a daily account of what they ate lost twice as much weight as those who kept no record.

Noom, which launched in 2012, lets users choose from a variety of courses, ranging from 16 to 22 weeks, designed to prevent or manage chronic diseases such as hypertension and diabetes. Courses are created by physicians and come with a coach to guide users through the process. One week might be dedicated to understanding triggers to unhealthy foods you’re eating while another focuses on getting you to try a variety of veggies.

“It’s a cognitive behavior-based program, meaning you’re trying to understand what makes you have certain habits and behaviors and change your thinking around those behaviors and habits,” said Artem Petakov, president and co-founder of Noom. “There are different exercises to make you more mindful and more likely to problem-solve around those areas.”

Petakov said Noom has worked with other researchers, including a team at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York, on wellness studies. In this case, the team at Kyung Hee approached the company, which has 45 million users worldwide, to get a diverse collection of anonymous data.

The study did not take exercise into account, but Petakov said that’s not necessarily a shortcoming.

“The popular notion is that physical activity is the key to achieving weight loss, but the truth is it’s more about nutrition,” Petakov said. “When it’s colder, you have more time to focus on the nutrition aspects, cooking more for example, and just have more time to dedicate to it without as many distractions as far as going outside.”