To Salt or Not to Salt?

Ditch the Table Salt

Regular table salt contains 97% salt, but it also has anti-caking agents, MSG, chemical additives and aluminum derivatives. It’s not natural (although it does have iodine), and it has been shown to increase blood pressure and contribute to weight gain.

 

Shake the Sea Salt

There are several good reasons to include unrefined Celtic Sea Salt or pink Himalayan salt, in your diet. It can improve hydration, support kidney function, help cleanse the colon, support brain function and heart health, transport fluids throughout the body, and help improve overall energy levels. Adding 1/4 teaspoon sea salt to your meals is a simple way to boost your health. Sodium and potassium work together throughout your body, so it is important to keep them balanced. In addition to adding sea salt to your diet on a regular basis, be sure to include lots of potassium rich foods such as avocado, spinach, swiss chard, sweet potatoes, lima beans, pinto beans and lentils.

Rich in Trace Minerals
High-quality sea salts typically contain between 60 and 84 different trace minerals (potassium, chloride, magnesium etc.). Our soils are becoming more and more depleted, making it harder to obtain trace minerals from the foods we eat.

Helps Balance Fluids
Sodium is a regulator of water within your body and within your body, water likes to follow salt. This means, if you take in too much salt, water retention will occur. At the same time, the opposite is also true. If you don’t take in enough salt, you won’t be able to retain enough water and you will urinate too frequently. Essentially, a loss in sodium results in a loss in water. Consuming sea salt daily, will help to maintain sufficient sodium levels, which will help balance sodium-potassium ratios. Sodium and potassium are two electrolytes that work together to ensure that there is proper fluid balance in your body’s cells as well as your blood plasma and extracellular fluid.

Excellent Electrolyte Source
The minimal processing of unrefined sea salt enables it to retain much of its natural mineral content. Electrolytes have so many important functions, from regulating your heartbeat to allowing your muscles to contract properly. Enjoying sea salt in moderation can help to prevent an electrolyte imbalance.

Supports Brain, Muscle and Nervous System Function
As a provider of sodium, sea salt is not just good for you, it’s essential for proper brain, muscle and nervous system function. Sodium is required for the transmission of electrical signals in the body. Without this communication system working as it should, the brain, muscles and nervous systems are inclined to suffer. Both too much and too little sodium can cause cellular malfunction. Many people have become “salt-a-phobic.” While it is important to make sure that you do not get too much salt in your diet, it is equally as important to make sure you get enough.

Aids Digestion
Not getting enough salt in your diet can actually negatively impact your digestive health. If you don’t get enough salt in your diet, it can lead to your body not producing enough hydrochloric acid (HCL) in your stomach. If you have low stomach acid, it can seriously throw off your digestive system. Consuming the right amount of sea salt helps your body produce proper amounts of HCL since sea salt provides chloride, which is the building block of stomach acid.

Enhances Nutrient Absorption
Having enough stomach acid also helps our bodies to absorb vitamins and minerals like calcium, zinc, iron, folate and B12. Consuming a high-quality sea salt regularly can help your body absorb more nutrients from the foods that you eat. It’s not only what you eat, but how your body processes what you eat, that gives your body the nutrients it needs on a daily basis.

So go ahead and shake the sea salt.  It’s good for your health!

 

 

Puffed Apple Pancake

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup milk
  • 4 eggs
  • tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2cup flour
  • tablespoons butter, melted
  • 3 apples (I used Cortland), peeled & thinly sliced
  • 2-3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

 

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees Farenheit.
  2. Whisk the milk, eggs, maple syrup and vanilla, in a medium bowl.
  3. Add the flour to the mixture and whisk until smooth.
  4. Lightly grease sides of 9×13 glass dish with butter and pour melted butter in dish.
  5. Place the apple slices over the butter and bake in oven for 10 minutes.
  6. Pour the batter over the apples and and sprinkle the brown sugar and cinnamon on top.
  7. Bake for about 20 minutes or until puffy and lightly browned.
  8. Remove from oven and let cool slightly before serving. Serve with plain yogurt and extra maple syrup if desired.

recipe adapted from geniuskitchen.com  

Pumpkin Pie Overnight Oats

Thick and creamy pumpkin pie overnight oats with chia are a nutritious, healthy breakfast. Top with nuts, maple syrup, cranberries, coconut or yogurt. 
*Thank you to Monique from Ambitious Kitchen (www.ambitiouskitchen.com) for this tasty breakfast.* 
 
INGREDIENTS
  • 1/4 cup plain yogurt
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie fill)
  • 2 tablespoon pure maple syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup oats
  • 2 teaspoons chia seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
 Method:
  1. In a medium bowl, mix together yogurt, almond milk, pumpkin puree, vanilla and maple syrup until well combined. Stir in oats, chia seeds and spices. Pour into a glass jar or container and place in fridge for 4 hours or overnight. Makes 1 serving of pumpkin overnight oats.

Can A Walk After a Meal Improve Your Health?

Heading out the door for a 15 minute walk, instead of heading to the couch after dinner can do two things for your health:

1.  Improve digestion

2.  Improve blood sugar levels.

In a study published in the “Journal of Gastrointestinal and Liver Diseases,” research showed that walking after a meal will speed up the rate of digestion. This translates as less gas, bloating and discomfort and more regular bowel movements.

Researchers also found that post-meal walks help clear glucose from the bloodstream, in part because more of it is taken up by muscles. This is especially helpful for people with diabetes or anyone wanting to lose weight. Blood sugar levels rise following a meal; going for a walk will give this excess glucose to your muscles cells rather than your fat cells.

Bottom line: A post-meal walk can improve your overall health by improving digestion and blood sugar levels.

Slow Cooker Vegetarian Chili

This hearty chili is super easy to prepare.  Just put all the ingredients in your slow cooker and come back in 6-8 hours to enjoy a steaming bowl of vegetarian chili.

 

Ingredients:

1 cup uncooked farro or quinoa

1 large onion, peeled and diced

4 cloves of garlic, minced

1 (19oz) can red kidney beans, rinsed and drained

1 (19oz) can black beans, rinsed and drained

1 (19oz) can chick peas, rinsed and drained

1 (114ml) can diced green chilies

1 L carton organic vegetable broth

1 (540ml) can diced tomatoes

1 (740ml) jar chunky marinara sauce

4 carrots, peeled and chopped

2 cups frozen organic corn

2 Tablespoons chili powder

1 Tablespoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Method:

Add all ingredients to a large slow cooker and stir thoroughly to combine.  Cook on high for 3-4 hours or on low for 6-8 hours until the chili is cooked through.  Serve immediately, garnished with extra toppings such as shredded cheddar cheese, crushed tortilla chips, avocado or sour cream.  Refrigerate leftovers in a sealed container for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months.

Recipe adapted from www.gimmesomeoven.com   

One Pan Mexican Quinoa

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Ingredients:

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic minced
1 jalapeño pepper,  minced
1 cup quinoa
1 cup vegetable broth
1 (15-ounce) can black beans drained and rinsed
2 medium tomatoes, diced
1 cup corn kernels (frozen organic is a good option)
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 avocado halved, seeded, peeled and diced
juice of 1 lime
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves

 

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and jalapeno, and cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 1 minute.
Stir in quinoa, vegetable broth, beans, tomatoes, corn, chili powder and cumin; season with salt and pepper, to taste. Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat and simmer until quinoa is cooked through, about 20 minutes. Stir in avocado, lime juice and cilantro.
Serve immediately and enjoy hot or refrigerate and serve as a cold salad. It’s delicious both ways and a good source of dietary fiber, folate, manganese and magnesium.
Recipe modified from damndelicious.net

Tex-Mex Casserole

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This recipe uses a few simple ingredients like brown rice, black beans and peppers to make a delicious and easy meal.  My kids thought the kitchen smelled like tacos and they all loved it.

For the Tex-Mex Spice Blend

1 tablespoon chili powder

1.5 teaspoons ground cumin

1 teaspoon smoked paprika or 1/2 teaspoon regular paprika

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon fine sea salt

1/4 teaspoon ground coriander (optional)

For the Casserole

1.5 teaspoons olive oil

1 red onion, diced

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 orange bell pepper, diced

1 red bell pepper, diced

1 jalapeno, seeded and diced

fine grain sea salt and black pepper

1/2 cup corn

1 (14 ounce) can diced tomatoes, with their juices

1 cup tomato sauce

2-3 cups chopped kale or baby spinach

1 (15 ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed

3 cups cooked wild rice blend or brown rice

1/2 cup shredded cheese

1-2 handfuls corn tortilla chips, crushed

Optional Toppings

sliced green onions

salsa

avocado

corn chips

sour cream or cashew cream 

Method:

  1.  Cook the rice.  Make the Tex-Mex spice blend by combining the chili powder, cumin, paprika, cayenne, salt and coriander.  Set aside.
  2. Preheat the oven to 375F.  Oil a large casserole dish.
  3. In a large wok or pan, heat the oil over medium heat.  Add the onion, garlic, bell peppers and jalapeño and salute for 7-8 minutes, until softened.  Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Stir in the spice blend, corn, diced tomatoes and their juices, tomato sauce, kale or spinach, beans, rice and 1/4 cup shredded cheese.  Salute for a few minutes and season with more salt and pepper if desired.
  5. Pour the mixture into the prepared casserole dish and smooth out the top.  Sprinkle with crushed corn tortilla chips and remaining cheese.  Cover and bake for 15 minutes.

Recipe from Oh She Glows

Lentil and Black Bean Salad

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Potluck coming up? This high-fiber, high-protein, vegan and gluten-free salad is a crowd pleaser.  It’s easy to make and lasts for days in the fridge.

Salad

1 can (19 oz/540 mL) lentils, drained and rinsed

1 can (19 oz/540 mL) black beans, drained and rinsed

2 cups corn (non-GMO)

1 cup diced red bell peppers

1 cup diced green bell peppers

1 cup diced celery

½ cup chopped green onions

¼ cup chopped fresh parsley

Dressing

¼ cup olive oil 

3 tbsp red wine vinegar

1 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 tbsp honey (use maple syrup for vegan)

½ tsp Dijon mustard

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Combine all salad ingredients in a large bowl. Be careful not to smash the beans and lentils.

Whisk together dressing ingredients and pour over salad. Mix well. Add several grinds of black pepper and a pinch or two of sea salt and mix again. Refrigerate at least 4 hours before serving. (Tastes even better if made 1 day ahead.)

Makes about 10 cups salad

Recipe adapted from Janet and Greta Podleski (janetandgreta.com) 

 

Strawberry Rhubarb Apple Crisp

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Ingredients:

For the Topping:

3/4 cup rolled oats

1/4 cup flour (GF, almond, whole wheat)

1/4 cup organic cane or brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

3 tablespoons butter

For the Fruit:

3 cups peeled and sliced Granny Smith apples

1.5 cups sliced strawberries

1.5 cups sliced rhubarb

1/2 cup organic cane or brown sugar

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice

1.5 tablespoons arrowroot powder (similar to cornstarch, but non-GMO)

Method:

  1.  Preheat oven to 375 F
  2. Combine all topping ingredients in a medium bowl until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  Set aside.
  3. Combine all fruit ingredients in a large bowl.  Mix well.  
  4. Grease a baking dish with butter or coconut oil.
  5. Pour in fruit mixture and spread evenly.
  6. Sprinkle topping over fruit.
  7. Bake uncovered for 35-40 minutes or until fruit is tender and topping is golden brown.
  8. Serve warm and enjoy.

Knead Bread?

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This bread is amazing. It is quick and easy to make – can be mixed right in the baking pan and no kneading is required. There are no rising agents and you can use your favourite nuts. And finally, it’s healthy AND tastes great, especially toasted with some nut butter.

Highlights:
gluten and dairy free, vegan
contains whole grains, nuts, and seeds
high in healthy fats
high in fiber
source of plant based protein

Ingredients:

1 cup sunflower, pumpkin, or hemp seeds (or combination)
1/2 cup flax seeds
1/2 cup hazelnuts or almonds
1 1/2 cups rolled oats or spelt
2 tablespoons chia seeds
4 tablespoons psyllium seed husks
1 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
1 tablespoon maple syrup or honey
3 tablespoons melted coconut oil
1 1/2 cups water

Method:

Line a standard loaf pan with parchment. Combine all dry ingredients, stirring well. Want less crunch? Pulse ingredients in a food processor first.
Whisk maple syrup, melted coconut oil, and water together in a measuring cup.
Add wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix very well until everything is completely soaked and dough becomes very thick (if the dough is too thick to stir, add one or two teaspoons of water until the dough is manageable).
Smooth out the top with the back of a spoon.
Let sit out on the counter for at least 2 hours, or overnight. Soaking the nuts and seeds helps to remove phytic acid, neutralize enzyme inhibitors and improve nutrient absorption
To ensure the dough is ready, it should retain its shape even when you lift the parchment.
Preheat over to 350 degrees and bake in loaf pan for 20 minutes.
Remove from the loaf pan, place upside down directly on oven rack and continue to bake for 30 to 40 minutes.
Allow to cool completely before slicing.
Store in tightly sealed container for up to 5 days or freeze.
Makes a great snack.

Recipe inspired from My New Roots (mynewroots.org)  

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