12 Must-Eat Foods For Better Health

As the saying goes: “You are what you eat”. I can see a huge difference in my health after I cut off sugar and gluten completely.

Here is a list of my favorite foods. Not only they make me feel good, they are also tasty.

1. Avocado
Avocados are excellent source of vitamins A, C, E, K and Folate as well as rich in Potassium. They contain mono-saturated fats and antioxidants. Regular consumption of avocados have great health benefits for the heart and maintaining a healthy weight, cholesterol, blood sugar and blood pressure levels.
AVOCADOS1
See also: How can you outsmart cravings?

2. Hummus
Hummus is one of the super foods that I love. If you want to maintain your weight or lose weight, I highly recommend it. Hummus is one of the most nutritious food you can find.

See also my simple Hummus recipe: Love Love Hummus

3. Tahini
Tahini is a ground sesame seed paste. It is creamy, oily, rich in Calcium and delicious in vegan salad dressings. You can find Tahini in health food stores and Farmer’s Markets. It’s an essential ingredient in Hummus.

4. Organic Apple Cider Vinegar
The best vinegar is raw and unfiltered. Apple Cider Vinegar has many health benefits. It can help control cholesterol, blood sugar and blood pressure levels. It may aid increasing metabolism and detoxifying the liver.

5. Yogurt
The health benefits of yogurt are so impressive such as building bones, enhancing immune system function and lowering cholesterol levels. Look for yogurts that say “live and active cultures” on the label. Yogurt is one of the foods you should eat everyday.

6. Lemon
Lemon is an antioxidant with many health and cosmetic benefits. A glass of fresh lemon juice in hot water first thing in the morning is excellent to clear the digestive system and purify the liver. Lemon may lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

7. Cinnamon
Cinnamon, a metabolism booster, is widely believed to be one of the most effective ways in lowering glucose, triglycerides and cholesterol levels.

8. Turmeric
Turmeric is an antioxidant. Turmeric’s impressive health benefits are numerous: anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, treating Alzheimer’s disease, multiple sclerosis, radiation burns, arthritis pain and fighting cancers. I highly recommend turmeric for daily cooking.

9. Nori (Japanese Seaweed)
Nori is an excellent super food for busy people. Whether you use Nori to make sushi or just enjoy it as a snack, it’s a great choice with excellent health benefits and anti-aging properties. Seaweed is rich in Iron, Calcium, Folate and helps maintain a healthy thyroid function.

10. Blueberries
Blueberries have the highest antioxidant properties; packed with vitamins: A, B complex, C, E and minerals: Manganese, Copper, Selenium, Zinc and Iron. Blueberries may help get rid of belly fat while lowering cholesterol levels and improving insulin sensitivity.

11. Apples
You must have heard the expression: “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.”
Apples are some of the healthiest fruits. Apple peel is a rich source of Flavonoids. Daily apple consumption may reduce the risk of colon cancer. Apples are excellent for keeping healthy blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Apples are also believed to fight off Alzheimer’s Disease. Eat apples with their skin on (after washing thoroughly).

12. Quinoa
Quinoa is a super food rich in Calcium, Lysine, Protein, Iron, Magnesium, Potassium, Phosphorus, Vitamin E and Fiber. Quinoa boosts heart health and may protect against certain types of cancer.

See also: Eat More Quinoa and Shrimp Quinoa

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How can you outsmart cravings?

I was so happy to read my dear Twitter friend Lori Shemek‘s tweet today: “Eat avocados to outsmart cravings! They’re loaded with essential fats to prevent cravings.”

I’ve always loved avocados even before I knew avocados were a super-food. Whether you’re looking for extensive health benefits or beauty secrets, Avocados are one fruit that can offer you all. Avocados are packed with more than 13 essential vitamins, minerals, including Vitamin C, Vitamin E, B-vitamins, Folic Acid, Potassium, Magnesium, Zinc, and “heart-healthy fats”. Avocados are one of the best anti-aging super-foods, loaded with a combination of fatty acids, essential amino acids and anti-oxidant phytonutrients. The healthy Oleic Acid (monounsaturated fat) in avocados, helps increase the metabolism of fats and can help stabilize blood sugar levels. Avocados also prevent wrinkles and skin aging.

I eat 1/2 of an avocado and sometimes one whole avocado daily. I don’t have any cravings at all.

I refrigerate avocados for longer shelf life.

Happy and Healthy Eating!

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Simple ways to be a loser

If you’ve ever tried to lose weight, you know it takes work. A dramatic diet plan never works for me and I doubt it works for anyone. Eating smaller and frequent portions, sleeping more and exercising regularly works for me.

There are some simple ways to slash the calories while getting necessary nutrients.

1. Start your day with a cup of warm lemon water every morning.

2. Have an apple with the skin on, before breakfast and lunch. Apples provide fiber and pectin. Because of it’s fiber content, you’ll feel fuller and eat less afterward.

3. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Eat a bigger breakfast such as oatmeal with raisins, blueberries, nuts and seeds. If you prefer bread at breakfast, choose fiber-rich whole grain bread with nuts and seeds. Eat a fulfilling breakfast and lunch so you won’t be so hungry at dinner. Eat light at night.

4. Eat a cup of plain yogurt three times daily. If you don’t like yogurt, try cottage cheese. A cup of yogurt or cottage cheese will speed up your metabolism.

5. Start your dinner with a salad. Make your own salad dressing with grape seed oil and vinegar (or lemon juice). Add some Mozzarella or Parmesan cheese and olives. You’ll notice you’ll eat less afterward.

6. Drink 8 glasses of water daily.

7. Drink green tea instead of Coffee Mocha or similar high calorie coffee drinks.

8. Walk, hike, bike, dance or lift weights. Yoga seems to have a calming effect on the brain and nervous system. Park your car away from the grocery store so you can have a walk. Instead of taking the elevator, use the stairs.

9. Sleep 7-8 hours. Poor sleep habits unfortunately increase production of the stress hormone cortisol. Stressed out people tend to eat more high fat junk foods, which results in more stored body fat.

10. Eat more protein such as avocados, beans and fish.

11. Brush your teeth after every meal. This will not only help keep your teeth healthy and cavity free, but also prevent you from eating unnecessary snacks between meals. A minty fresh mouth decreases your appetite.

12. Go nuts! Nuts and seeds contain heart healthy fats. Chose almonds, walnuts, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, pistachios, Brazilian nuts, cashew nuts and Macadamia nuts. Eating nuts and seeds daily may help promote weight loss.

13. Indulge yourself with a healthy snack. Serotonin levels drop considerably in the late afternoon. Eat a snack that is rich in B vitamins and complex carbohydrates. Dark chocolate is an excellent choice!

14. Don’t dwell on the negative. Some people may eat considerably more and junk food when depressed. Move forward not backward. Your past does not define you. The past is gone. The present is what ever you make it.

15. Find more “Me” time. When the Internet becomes your only source of social life, you may gain weight. Break away from the keyboard once every few hours. Find activities you like!

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Nature’s Menu: The Best Way to a Long and Healthy Life

Food that grows from the earth’s soil contains life sustaining nutrients. A healthy diet from nature’s menu can help prevent diseases. Smart food choices can improve the chances of survival for those already diagnosed with life-threatening illnesses including cancer. Not only that, healthy food choices are needed to lead a healthy life style. Limiting your alcohol consumption, avoiding red meat and fatty/processed foods will help your body stay strong and live longer.

1 ) VEGETABLES

Vegetables are low in calories and loaded with fiber, vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals. Raw vegetables have the most nutritional value.

Dark leafy greens: Contain Vitamins A, C, and K, folate, manganese, magnesium, calcium and fiber. May promote eye health, fight cancer and reduce diabetes risk.

Broccoli: Contains Vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B9, C and A, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and zinc. Isothiocyanates in broccoli may fight and help prevent cancer.

Brussels Sprouts: Loaded with vitamins A, C, B6 and K, folate, manganese, potassium and fiber. May reduce cancer risk, especially breast and colon cancer.

Bean Sprouts: Packed with protein, vitamins C and K, folate and potassium, Bean Sprouts is excellent for weight management.

Bok Choy: Nutrients include vitamin C, folate, calcium, and fiber. May support immunity and promote bone health.

Radishes: Contain vitamin C, fiber and folate. May boost immunity and assist in weight control.

Red Bell Peppers: Loaded with vitamins A, B6, C and K, fiber, manganese and folate. May promote heart health, support immunity and may decrease risk of cancer.

2 ) FRUITS

Eat fresh fruits daily instead of processed snacks and sweets.

Strawberries – Nutrients: Vitamin C, fiber, folate, potassium and flavonids. May promote brain health and lower cholesterol. In addition, strawberries may have anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer effects.

Pomegranate – Nutrients: Antioxidants, flavonoids, potassium, calcium, and fiber. Studies suggest that pomegranate protects against plaque in the arteries, may help fight heart disease, certain types of cancer and brain degeneration.

Avocado: Being the healthiest fruit in my opinion, avocado is packed with essential vitamins and minerals such as vitamin K, B6, C and folic acid, potassium, copper and fiber. Avocados contain a monounsaturated fat that may help lower cholesterol. Avocado being a good source of potassium, also helps regulate blood pressure. It contains carotenoid lutein plus significant quantities of vitamin E and may protect against breast cancer.

Tomatoes – Nutrients: Vitamins A, B and C, potassium, folic acid, iron, phosphorus, carotenoids and fiber. Lycopene, an antioxidant in tomatoes, may prevent certain types of cancer and promote prostate health.

Raspberries – Nutrients: Vitamin C, manganese and fiber. May protect eyes, reduce blood pressure and promote heart health by preventing artery hardening. An antioxidant, ellagic acid, found in raspberries, helps destroy certain types of cancer cells.

Blueberries – Nutrients: Vitamin C, manganese and fiber. Blueberries are one of the highest antioxidant value fruits. They are excellent warriors against heart disease and cancer.

Plums – Nutrients: Vitamins A and C, fiber. Plums help support immunity system and may promote bone density and strength.

3 ) LEGUMES

Black beans: Contain iron, fiber, protein, folate, manganese, magnesium. Packed with powerful antioxidants, black beans many protect against cancer and tumor growth.

Red kidney beans: Nutrients include folate, fiber, protein, iron, manganese and phosphorus. Red kidney beans promote heart health and may help prevent diabetes.

Lentils: Rich in iron, fiber, protein, folate, manganese and magnesium, lentils may improve brain, breast, colon health and lower blood pressure.

Garbanzo beans (chickpeas): Loaded with molybdenum, folate, fiber, protein, iron, manganese, phosphorus, copper, zinc and magnesium, Garbanzo beans can help lower cholesterol and improve blood sugar levels.

Adzuki beans: Contain magnesium, potassium, iron, zinc, copper, manganese and B vitamins. Adzuki beans may help lower blood pressure, manage weight, support kidney and bladder function.

4 ) GRAINS

Quinoa – Nutrients: Calcium, lysine, protein, iron, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, vitamin E and fiber. Quinoa boosts heart health and may protect against certain types of cancer, including breast cancer.

Oats – Nutrients: Calcium, iron, fiber and protein. Oats may lower cholesterol and reduce risk of heart disease and cancer.

Barley – Nutrients: Folic acid, iron, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, vitamin E and fiber. Barley is linked to reduced risk of heart disease. It may also lower cholesterol and regulate blood glucose levels.

Brown rice – Nutrients: Mangenese, selenium, magnesium, phosphorus and fiber. Brown rice may improve blood glucose levels, assist in weight management and may lower cholesterol.

5 ) NUTS AND SEEDS

Nuts and seeds are rich in essential fatty acids which promote brain and heart health.

Brazil nuts – Nutrients: Selenium, calcium, magnesium, omega-3s, iron, vitamin A and protein. Brazil nuts may boost immunity, promote liver health, thyroid function and reduce the risk of cancer.

Almonds: A rich source of vitamin E, niacin, calcium, phosphorous, iron, magnesium, zinc, selenium, copper and fiber. Almonds are good for heart, brain and skin. May help to regulate cholesterol, blood pressure. May protect against diabetes and prevent colon cancer.

Walnuts – Nutrients: Manganese, copper, potassium, calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc, selenium, omega-3s, vitamin E, riboflavin, niacin, thiamin, pantothenic acid, vitamin B6, and Folate. Walnuts may help to lower the risk of blood pressure, coronary artery disease, strokes, breast, colon, prostate cancers and fight against inflammation and neurological diseases.

Sesame seeds – Nutrients: Vitamin B3, protein, calcium, iron and zinc. Sesame seeds may reduce the risk of breast cancer.

Flaxseeds – Nutrients: Lignans, alpha-linolenic acid, omega-3s and fiber. Flaxseeds may prevent breast, colon, lung, skin cancers and can help inflammatory diseases. May also lower cholesterol levels, diabetes risk and plaque formation in the arteries.

Sunflower seeds – Nutrients: Vitamins B1, B5 and E, selenium, manganese, magnesium, phosphorus and Folate. Sunflower seeds may help prevent heart disease.

Pumpkin seeds – Nutrients: Omega-3s, protein, iron, zinc and magnesium. Pumpkin seeds may promote prostate health and lower cholesterol levels.

~~~TWO HEALTHY RECIPES~~~

QUINOA-AVOCADO SALAD

Ingredients:

1 cup quinoa
1 teaspoon chili powder
6 teaspoons lime juice
4 teaspoon grapeseed oil
2 ripe avocado
3 drops Tabasco sauce
1 cup alfalfa sprouts ( or broccoli)

Directions:

Prepare quinoa as described here and add 1/2 teaspoon chili powder. The liquid should be completely absorbed.

Whisk together 5 teaspoon lime juice, oil, and remaining chili powder in a bowl. Add cooked quinoa and toss well. Season with salt and black pepper.

Dice avocados; toss with Tabasco sauce and remaining 1 teaspoon lime juice.

Divide quinoa among two medium size salad bowls, add avocado and top each with sprouts. Serve immediately.

Note: Quinoa can easily be replaced by bulgur or couscous.

BLACK BEAN QUINOA BURGERS

Ingredients:

1/2 cup quinoa
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 large tomato, finely chopped
1 15-oz. can black beans, rinsed and drained
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
6 multi-grain hamburger buns

Directions:
Prepare quinoa as described here.

Meanwhile, place onion and diced tomatoes in a nonstick pan and cook over medium heat, about 4 minutes. Stir in 3/4 cup black beans, garlic, cumin, pepper, and 1 cup water. Let simmer about 4-5 minutes.

Transfer bean-onion mixture to food processor, add 3/4 cup cooked quinoa and process until smooth. Then, transfer to a bowl and stir in remaining 3/4 cup quinoa and 3/4 cup black beans. Season with salt and pepper, if desired and cool.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Shape bean-quinoa mixture into 6 patties and place on baking sheet. Bake about 20 minutes or until patties are brown on top. Flip patties and bake for another 10 minutes more or until both sides are brown. Serve on warm multi-grain buns or toasted multi-grain sourdough.

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Slash the Salt

If everyone ate less sodium, the number of heart attacks would drop.
Most Americans eat way too much salt everyday. Sodium contributes to high blood pressure which is a major risk factor for heart attacks and strokes. Frozen and processed foods contain excessive amounts of sodium. So, avoid them as much as possible and focus on more healthy foods like veggies, fruits and fish.

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Don’t Believe Everything You Hear

CHOLESTEROL: Your body weight is only one contributing factor when it comes to high cholesterol. You can be overweight with normal cholesterol levels whereas a slender person can have elevated levels. Genes, thyroid function, life style play an important role. Even if you have a healthy, normal weight, it’s vital to check your cholesterol levels regularly.

HEART ATTACK: It’s commonly believed that you’ll feel chest pain if you’re having a heart attack. While this may often be true, it’s not always the case. Shortness of breath, pain in your arms, neck, jaw, sweating, feeling extremely tired or anxious can also be signs that you are having a heart attack. Especially with a family history of heart disease and high cholesterol. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S. among men and women.

COLON CANCER: The myth is that colon cancer is a man’s disease. Colon cancer is the third most common cancer in women. Beginning at age 50, everyone should get a colonoscopy screening.

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Keep Your Brain Sharp

RELAX: We live in a complex world with multiple distractions. Even very young people have “senior moments” today. Take a few minutes everyday to breathe deeply or mediate. Our brains are more alert and recollection is greatly improved when we’re calm and relaxed.

GO FOR A WALK: I love walking because it eases my mind. I am more alert after a walk. Even people without diabetes can still have elevated glucose levels, which can harm the brain and it’s memory function. Physical exercise helps get blood glucose down to normal levels.

SNACK ON BLUEBERRIES: Anthocyanins, the blue-red pigments found in blueberries, appear to improve memory, help protect the brain from stress and may reduce the effects of Alzheimer’s disease or dementia.

LEARN SOMETHING NEW EVERYDAY: Mental stimulation limits the debilitating effects of aging on memory. Whether it’s a foreign language or a Latin dance, learn something everyday.

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A Healthier You in 4 Weeks

Making important changes to our life style doesn’t happen overnight.
Patience is the key. As the saying goes, “Rome wasn’t built in a day”.

Give yourself permission to pause and reflect on your life.

Do you feel younger or older than your chronological age?
Be good to yourself. Replace your bad (eating) habits with good ones.

LOSE WEIGHT
1. Portion Control. The key to healthy eating.
2. Have a healthy (and substantial) breakfast and lunch.
3. Have healthy afternoon snacks (so you won’t be starving at dinner).
4. Dinner should not be a heavy meal. (Again, Portion Control).

TONE UP
1.Power up your heart. This increases your metabolism and blood flow.
2.Strengthen your core
3.Tone your arms and upper body

EAT HEALTHY
1. Add a veggie and fruit to all your meals
2. Try a new herb or spice at every meal.
3. Switch to lactose free milk. Eat low-fat/low-sugar yogurt everyday
4. Be sure to eat a combo of protein and carbs.

SLEEP BETTER
1. Try to go to bed and wake up at about the same time everyday
2. Avoid caffeine after lunch.
3. Avoid alcohol at least 2 hours before turning in.
4. Turn off your computer, TV or cell phone at least an hour before you go to bed.
5. Dim your lights before bedtime.

Here are some healthy snacks:
1 Tablespoon raw walnuts with 1 Tablespoon dried raisins.
1 Tablespoon raw almonds
1 Apple with 1 Tablespoon peanut butter
1 small cup hummus with carrots or zucchini.

Not gaining weight is just as important as losing weight.
It’s still a victory. Don’t get discouraged.

Eat Less, Move More!

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Make every dinner “Una Fiesta Grande”

The healthful and nutritive properties of wine have been recognized for thousands of years. I simply love a glass of wine at dinner. I also use wine in cooking. I love to feed people.

Recently, I had the pleasure of discovering a very unique wine, Amayna Chardonnay 2007 from the Leyda Valley region in Chile. This wonderfully complex wine is rich and smooth. Exotic fruit aromas and a creamy texture characterize this Chardonnay. Delicious with a meal, this wine can also stand on it’s own with no acidic bite or after taste.

A balanced white wine that will pair well with fish, seafood, poultry and cheese.

Good wine is always complemented with good food. Here is a recipe:

WILD SALMON WITH BUTTER SAUCE

Ingredients

2 tablespoons grape seed oil
2 medium shallots, finely chopped
1 1/2 cups dry white wine
1 stick unsalted butter
1 tablespoon capers, rinsed and drained
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 tablespoon oil and 1 tablespoon unsalted butter to sauté salmon
Four 7-ounce skinless wild salmon fillets
3 cups shredded romaine lettuce

Directions

1. In a small skillet, heat the oil over low heat. Add the shallots and cook until softened, about 3-4 minutes. Add 1 cup wine and boil over medium heat until reduced to 2 tablespoons, about 7 minutes. Reduce the heat. Remove the skillet and whisk in the butter, 1 tablespoon at a time. Stir in the capers, cayenne pepper (optional) and season with salt and black pepper.

2. Heat 1 tablespoon oil and 1 tablespoon butter in large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat; add 1/2 cup wine. Season the salmon fillets with salt and black pepper and add them to the skillet. Simmer gently over medium heat, turning once, until it starts to brown, about 5 minutes per side (depending on the thickness).

3. When the salmon is done, reheat the butter sauce over low-medium heat, whisking until hot (don’t boil). Spread the shredded lettuce on plates. Using a spatula, remove the salmon fillets from the skillet and set them on the lettuce. Pour the butter sauce over the salmon fillets and serve warm.

You’ll get through this dish real quick with Amayna Chardonnay.

Happy Cooking!
~Cheers

“Drinking good wine with good food in good company is one of life’s most civilized pleasures.” ~Michael Broadbent

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It’s Time for your Spring Cleaning!

Weeding out what’s not working in our lives, both internally and externally, can improve our mental outlook and our physical well-being. There are healthy rituals that can empower, energize and renew your life:

Live with intention: Decide what you want to achieve and write down your goals. Every book about achievement (of any kind) stresses the importance of setting personal goals.

De-clutter: Whether it’s your home or office or even your purse, clear the clutter. When you clear the clutter, you’ll create a space. This will bring calm and serenity to your environment. You’ll get more organized. More important, you’ll be inspired to do the same in other parts of your life. Please see also my blog post: Declutter your life

Chill out: Allow yourself some time to relax and replenish your reserves. Life is your personal journey. Keep looking for the answers that are right for you. Whether you try yoga, meditation or other forms of relaxing, find a way to recharge.

No sugar diet: I can’t emphasize enough how bad the refined sugar and corn syrup is for you. Consider minimizing your sugar intake, if you haven’t done it already. Artificial sweeteners are just as bad. Eating excess sugar can increase your risk for cardiovascular disease, diabetes, depression, hypertension and osteoporosis.

Detox your body: Please read my blog post: Are you planning a detox this spring ?

Engage in a variety of physical activities: Whether you work out at a gym, swim, do yoga or pilates, dance with your favorite music or walk daily in nature, do something everyday. This is good for your mental as well as physical health.

Enjoy the sun: Please read my blog post: Are you getting enough “Vitamin D”?

Drink a smoothie: If you don’t eat fruits and vegetables daily, this is a great way to get it all in one. Try one of my favorite recipes: 12 oz strawberries, 1 cup blueberries , 1 ripe banana, 1 cup plain lowfat yoghurt, 1 cup almond milk.

Substitute quinoa for rice: Quinoa has all of the essential amino acids your body needs. Please read my blog post: Eat more quinoa

Volunteer: Find a cause you’re passionate about and spend some time every week to give back. This will make you happy and fulfilled.

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