Stone Fruit Cheesecake Tart

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Stone Fruit Cheesecake Tart 

Ingredients 

CRUST

  • 1 1/4 cup oats 
  • 3/4 cup almonds
  • 3/4 cup walnuts 
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt 
  • 2-3 tablespoons coconut oil 
  • 2 tablespoons coconut sugar 

CHEESECAKE FILLING 

  • 1 small container coconut yogurt (I used CoYo brand) 
  • 1 cup cashews, soaked in hot water at least 30 minutes 
  • 1/4 cup full fat coconut cream 
  • 3 tablespoons Meyer lemon juice 
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil 
  • pinch of sea salt 
  • 2-3 tablespoons monk fruit 
  • zest of 1 lemon 

STONE FRUIT TOPPING 

  • 3 seasonal stone fruits: nectarine, peach, and/or plum 
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon 
  • punch of sea salt 
  • 2-3 tablespoons monk fruit (optional, depending on sweetness of the fruit)
  • 1 tablespoon arrowroot powder 

EQUIPMENT

  • 9 inch pie pan with a removable bottom 
  • food processor 
  • high speed blender 

DIRECTIONS 

First, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F, and cover the cashews with boiling hot water. Set aside. Line the pie pan with parchment paper. 

To make the crust: 

  1. Pulse the oats, walnuts, and almond in a food processor until they're ground into a fine meal. Add two tablespoons of the coconut oil and continue to process until the mixture starts to stick together when pinched between your fingers. Add an additional tablespoon of coconut oil if it's still too dry. 
  2. Press the mixture into the parchment lined pan. 
  3. Place in the oven for 15 minutes, covered with foil. After 15 minutes, remove the foil and continue to bake until the crust starts to turn golden brown, about 8 minutes longer. 
  4. When done, allow to cool completely. If you need to expedite this process, place the slightly cooled crust in the freezer. 

To make the cheesecake filling: 

  1. Zest the lemon before juicing it. 
  2. Add all ingredients to a high speed blender. Use the tamper stick to help all ingredients reach the blade. Blend until completely smooth. Taste and adjust (more sweetness, or more lemon). 

To make the stone fruit topping: 

  1. Dice each fruit and place the pieces in a bowl. Toss with the cinnamon, sea salt, and arrowroot powder. The arrowroot powder will help to create a thick, syrup-y sauce as the fruits cook down. 
  2. Place the fruit mixture in a small sauce pot over medium heat and cover. Allow the fruit to stew 7-10 minutes, or until thickened. Remove and cool completely. Similar to the crust, if you need to expedite this process, place it in the freezer. 

Assemble the tart: 

  1. Pour the cheesecake filling into the completely cooled crust. Start by pouring the mixture into the center of the crust, then use an offset spatula to smooth it out into the edges. Place in the freezer for 30 minutes to set. 
  2. Next, add the completely cooled fruit topping. Again, pour the mixture into the center, then gently smooth out to the edges. 
  3. Decorate the top of the tart with thin fruit slices and/or fresh flowers. 
  4. Serve and enjoy! 

 

3 Ingredient Green Soup

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During these upcoming summer months, your body may be craving lighter meals, hydrating fruits, and more veggies (just to feel good in the skin you’re in!).

Or, maybe the summer potlucks have you craving potato chips and charred meat, and reaching for those veggies is not a natural inclination right now...

Either way it’s all great - take a moment to check in with where you’re at, and either keep riding the healthy-’cause-it-feels-good train, or get back on it.

Here’s a soup for when you just have a craving for those greens (this happens to me - usually when too much sugar has sneaked its way in!) or perhaps for when you tummy needs a break. It’s made with three simple ingredients that you likely already have on hand, and each ingredient has so much to offer.

Broccoli & Cruciferous Vegetables

Cruciferous vegetables, including broccoli, are some of the best types of veggies you can eat. Their high nutrient profile comes from glucosinolates, a compound that is shown to exert a variety of health benefits and disease prevention. glucosinolates work synergistically  with other phytonutrients to reduce inflammation and promote antioxidant activity. Since inflammation is a common denominator in many modern diseases, including autoimmune diseases, diabetes, and Alzheimer's, incorporating more cruciferous vegetables is always a great idea. Not to mention, the compounds found in cruciferous vegetables are excellent for daily detoxification.

Spinach

If you’ve only been putting spinach in your green smoothie, it’s time to try it in this soup!

Spinach contains twice as much iron as other greens (though it’s non-heme iron - read more about that here ) and is one of the most alkaline-producing foods. The acid-alkaline theory basically states that the root of disease comes from an overly acid pH in the body; this is an oversimplification, but it’s always a good goal to consume more alkaline-producing foods and less acid-producing foods (i.e. eat more vegetables than grains and bread). Spinach is also one of the richest sources lutein, which is especially important for eyesight and preventing macular degeneration.

Extra-Virgin Olive Oil

The olive oil is what makes this soup. Experiment for yourself: try the broccoli and spinach only. Then, add the olive oil in and try again. You’ll be amazed! Extra-virgin olive oil has been long celebrated for its numerous benefits, including being anti-inflammatory anti-cancer, and high in anti-oxidants. Consumption of extra-virgin olive oil in place of saturated fats also been shown to prevent he oxidation of cholesterol and help prevent atherosclerosis. Make sure to use a high-grade olive oil in this soup (as well as in the rest of your cooking!). Low grade extra-virgin olive oils won’t have a high polyphenol content, and those versions do not like to get blended with a metal blade - you’ll notice a bitter aftertaste. To learn more about how to choose the best olive oil see here

 

3 Ingredient Green Soup

Makes 2 servings

  • 2 cups steamed broccoli or cauliflower florets
  • 1 cup packed spinach
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon mineral rich sea salt (pink Himalayan or Celtic), or to taste
  • Few grinds of fresh pepper

Directions

  1. Steam the broccoli or cauliflower florets about 5 minutes.
  2. Remove the florets and place into a blender along with the spinach and water.  
  3. Blend until smooth
  4. With the blender running on low, drizzle in the extra-virgin olive oil until just incorporated. Make sure you use a high grade oil!***
  5. Pour blended soup back into a small pot to warm.
  6. Serve and enjoy!

 

Asian Almond Sauce

Every time I make this Asian-style sauce, I can practically drink it!.

This recipe was originally used as mock-peanut sauce for fresh spring rolls. The version below has more liquid so it can be used as a thick dressing over a slaw, and it still works well as a dip for veggies or spring rolls. 

Asian Almond Sauce

  • 1/2 cup hot water 
  • 2 dates, chopped 
  • 1/2 cup almond butter, smooth 
  • 3 teaspoons coconut aminos
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed 
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ginger, grated 
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt 
  • juice from 1 lime
  1. Heat 1/2 cup water. Place in a small bowl with the dates to soften. Let soak 5 minutes. 
  2. Add the dates plus the soaking water into a blender. 
  3. Then, add the almond butter and the remaining ingredients. 
  4. Blend until smooth. 
  5. Drizzle over a slaw, or use as a dipping sauce for fresh spring rolls. 

Liver Boosting Slaw with Orange Sesame Citrus Sauce

Cabbage, along with other cruciferous vegetables, are excellent at supporting the liver. I’ve recently been interested in liver support due to its connection with detoxifying excess hormones (namely estrogen) which is critical in hormone balancing and preventing terrible PMS!

To make sure I get in enough cruciferous veggies, I buy 1 head of cabbage per week. Some weeks I rough chop it and then roast with other veggies, and other weeks I slice it thin for a slaw. Since it’s spring time I’m naturally inclined to more raw salads, and this one in particular has been hitting the spot!

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Cabbage & Radish Liver Boosting Slaw

  • ¼ head of green cabbage, sliced thin using a mandolin
  • 2-3 radishes, sliced thin using a mandolin
  • 2-3 stalks green onion, sliced on the diagonal
  • 2 carrots, shredded
  • ½ bunch cilantro, roughly chopped

Toss all ingredients into a bowl. Double the batch for salads during the week. 

Orange Sesame Citrus Sauce

This versatile sauce is excellent over a hearty green salad or slaw, drizzled over cooked greens/roasted vegetables, or as a dip for spring rolls/nori rolls. It will be thin when you first make it, then will thicken up in the refrigerator.

  • ¼ cup coconut aminos
  • 2 garlic cloves, grated
  • 1 inch piece of ginger, grated
  • 1 stalk green onion, roughly sliced
  • 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
  • Zest of 1 large navel orange
  • Juice of 1 large navel orange
  • ¼ cup almond butter or cashew butter
  • 1-2 tablespoons maple syrup

Place all ingredients into a blender and blitz until smooth.

 

Golden Greens

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Recently I've been cultivating the cephalic phase of digestion through mindfulness. When we think of digestion, we may immediately think about the work of the stomach or our intestines, but digestion begins before then. It begins with the smell of fresh ginger and garlic sautéing in a pan, or how beautiful greens look when they're brightened by heat.

The cephalic stage of digestion refers to how our senses and brain signal to the rest of the body that it's time for food. Sight, sound, smell, and thought trigger the brain to transmit signals down the central nervous system through the vagus nerve. Impulses from the vagus nerve then promote peristalsis and secretion of gastric juices.

I'm sure you've experienced this before: you're in a mall and walk by Cinnabon, or one of those pretzel shops, and immediately your mouth waters. Yup, that's the body taking cues from the nose to get those digestive juices going; enzymes in the saliva are released to begin the break down of carbohydrates, and hydrochloric acid, or HCL, released in the stomach to disassemble protein. 

So, taking the time to smell your food, look at and appreciate your food, will only help the body to properly break down and absorb nutrients. Bonus points if you can enjoy your food with a loved one, or take a moment to express compassion. Compassion just so happens to stimulate that vagus nerve! 

This is officially my new favorite way to enjoy collard greens. The beautiful color of the turmeric paired with the creaminess of the coconut will satisfy at any meal. 

Golden Greens

  • 1 cup diced onions 
  • 2 rounded tablespoons fresh ginger, grated 
  • 3 large garlic cloves, grated 
  • 2 bunches collard greens, de-stemmed and chiffonade or cut into strips  
  • 2 rounded teaspoons turmeric 
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt 
  • 1 cup full fat coconut milk 
  • 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
  • red chili pepper flakes, optional 
  1. Add 1 tablespoon cooking fat of choice (coconut oil or pastured bacon fat works well) to a medium heat pan. Thrown on the onions and let cook, about 5 minutes. 
  2. Next, add the garlic and ginger and stir frequently for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Smell! 
  3. Now you're ready for the collard greens. Add them a few handfuls at a time, making sure to mix with the onions, garlic, and ginger. Continue to add more as they slowly wilt and allow for more space. 
  4. Once all the greens have been added and they're looking nice and bright, add the turmeric powder and salt. Coat well. 
  5. Pour in the coconut milk and apple cider vinegar. Bring heat down to a low simmer. 
  6. Allow to simmer ~7 minutes. Taste and adjust as needed. Top with red chili flakes. 
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Lemon Tahini Dressing

Here's my go-to dressing that's perfect over steamed greens, like collards or curly kale. I also love this as a dressing over raw kale salad, paired with currants and toasted walnuts.  

Lemon Tahini Dressing

  • 1 cup chopped zucchini
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice 
  • 1/3 cup tahini
  • 2 cloves garlic, grated 
  • 1 teaspoon salt 
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin
  • 2 tablespoons water 
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil 
  • pinch cayenne pepper
  1. Peel the zucchini and roughly chop. One cup is approximately half of a large zucchini. 
  2. Add all ingredients except for the olive oil. Blend until smooth. 
  3. Drizzle in the olive oil while blending on low. 
  4. Add cayenne, and taste. Adjust as desired. 

Simple meal planning tips

 Photo by Stephanie Crocker 

Photo by Stephanie Crocker 

I recently sat down with one of my aunts, Tia Paulina, to pick her brain about meal planning. She’s a busy mother of four, and has been raising her children gluten-free for their entire lives.

Here’s her process: At the beginning of each week, she pulls out a calendar that’s specifically dedicated to meal planning.

Then, she takes out a few cookbooks, and flips through the pages until something jumps out at her.

Next, she writes the title and page number of each recipe into the planner, taking into consideration leftovers, and special nights during the week when she’ll need something made ahead of time.

Lastly, she makes a grocery list based on the recipes of the meals she’s chosen. She does this every week, on either Sunday or Monday. Sometimes she cooks nightly, or every other night, but it always depends on the type of week she and her family will have.

What I love about her process is that it’s simple. Yes, she has a special planner for meal planning, but all that’s written in the planner is a recipe title and page number! The important thing about her planning is that she prioritizes it because, well, she has to. One of her kids has a gluten allergy, so to make it easier, the entire family eats gluten-free.

If you’re interested in getting pregnant, currently pregnant, or already have a family, you’re probably motivated to eat healthy, nourishing food. Here are a few ways to make sure you’re set each week with a plan.

Create a process that works for you

There’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to this, so try out a few strategies until something sticks.

How comfortable are you in the kitchen? Do you need recipes, or can you wing it?

If you feel like Top Chef at home, or you’re the type that just likes to put everything into a pot and see what happens, plan for bulk and mains, and switch things up with seasonal produce. Choose 2-3 protein options, and always grab your basic fresh produce, like lettuce, herbs, avocados, etc.

Here are a few other ideas if you’re more of a free spirit in the kitchen:

  • Plan 2-3 protein choices that can be used multiple times throughout the week. Consider a whole roasted chicken that’s pre-cooked if you’re in a pinch, or utilize a slow cooker (think slow cooked pork shoulder = pulled pork tacos, Mexican-style burrito bowl, or added to salad).  
  • Consider 1 large batch of grains to be used all week; great gluten-free grains include brown rice, quinoa, millet, and buckwheat.
  • Pre-chop raw veggies, like celery and peppers, for snacks. Cutting them before storing may increase your likelihood to eat them.
  • When roasting vegetables, do a few types of veggies at a time!
  • For quick prepping and convenience, buy lettuce pre-washed, use frozen fruit for smoothies, or buy sauces pre-made (but read ingredient labels).
  • Always make multiple servings and freeze for future use; stews, spaghetti sauce, and chilis all freeze great.

For those of us who like a bit more structure and just need inspiration, here are a few ideas to consider:

  • Cookbooks: If you feel more comfortable following recipes, then plan straight from a recipe book, similar to how Paulina plans for her family of six. Don’t forget to check out your local library for recipe books! You can put books on hold, and always have a new book for different ideas.
  • Get a magazine subscription. Next time you’re waiting in the grocery store line, flip through some food-centered magazines and see what style you like best. Examples include Real Simple, Bon Appetit, Paleo Magazine, etc. Every month you’ll receive fresh ideas, which are mostly seasonal. And remember, recipes are suggestions, so feel free to swap ingredients for healthier ones, or make replacements for what’s in season where you live.
  • Try a Meal Delivery Service. There are several services now that will deliver all your recipe ingredients, even measured out, and all you have to do is put them together! This is a good option for whenever you’re lacking inspiration, or want a fun bonding experience. Making it a weekly event could be a great way to bring all members of the family together. Some popular services include Blue Apron, HelloFresh, or Plated.

My Favorite Meal Planning App

I’ve tried several meal planning apps, and the Real Plans App is by far my favorite. I like it because it’s completely customizable to your own diet. For instance, you can choose a paleo diet with or without dairy, and specific food groups or ingredients to include or exclude. It also creates a food prep timeline based on the meals you choose, so you don’t forget to defrost something the night before if need be. Also, in the app you can access your shopping list, and mark things off as you add them to your basket. The shopping list also tells you which recipe each ingredient is for, and exactly how much of it you need. Two people can have the app on their phone, so when my partner says he’ll go to the grocery store, I choose the meals and he does the shopping from the list.

Fail to Plan, Plan to Fail

Sometimes the thought of doing something is more stressful than actually doing it. Planning what to cook every week might sound like a big ordeal, but it doesn’t have to be - and will make your life easier down the road. Step into it with the intention of nourishing yourself and family. Begin with the planning and everything will fall into place.

Is full fat good for you?

 Photo by Stephanie Crocker 

Photo by Stephanie Crocker 

Many people are surprised when I encourage full-fat dairy over nonfat yogurt, real butter over vegan butter, or full fat coconut milk. Of course, this is understandable. It seems logical to think, I don’t want to be fat, so therefore I shouldn’t eat foods that are high in fat.

Good fats and bad fats

When it comes to choosing full-fat foods, it is crucial to distinguish between health-promoting fats and rancid, corrupted fats.

Fats usually go from “good” to “bad” when they undergo some process of refinement. Oils and fats are often heated at high temperatures, oxidized through exposure to light/air, or polluted by commercial farming methods. High heat processing, for instance, removes healthful nutrients like Vitamin E and alters lipid compounds that the body cannot use for healthy cell building.

Here are a few common examples of “bad” fats that are highly refined:

  • Margarine and vegetable shortening
  • Hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated fats (read ingredient labels!)
  • Refined vegetable oils such as soybean oil, safflower/sunflower oil, cottonseed oil, canola oil, etc.
  • Fried foods
  • Artificial trans fats (found in processed foods like doughnuts, biscuits, pie-crust mixes, etc.)

Good fats have not been refined, and all types of fat, whether saturated, monounsaturated, or polyunsaturated, play a role in supporting a healthy body. Examples of foods that contain good fats include:

  • Avocados
  • Butter - organic, pastured
  • Coconut
  • Eggs - organic, pastured
  • Fish (especially salmon and sardines)
  • Olive oil (unrefined!)
  • Nuts and seeds

Why full-fat foods are better than low- or reduced-fat foods

Low- and reduced-fat products have gone through a refinement process. This process often removes the valuable nutrients that make that food so great to eat in the first place! Additionally, when products are refined to low-fat or reduced-fat, the flavor often diminishes, so more sugar is added to make up for taste. That means the fat is simply replaced by sugar (and excess sugar in the body just turns into fat). 

Some of my favorite full-fat foods

Coconut milk: Full-fat coconut milk is full of medium chain triglycerides (MCT). MCTs can actually increase the body’s metabolic rate. These types of fats are more readily accessed for energy, meaning they are burned, not stored. Full -at coconut milk also contains lauric acid, which is antiviral and antibacterial. When full fat coconut milk is reduced to low-fat, much of the MCTs are removed, and therefore many of the benefits are lost. When choosing full-fat coconut milk, opt for the canned variety that is BPA-free and contains no additives. 

Yogurt: In most cases, low-fat yogurt includes added emulsifiers and industrial fibers so that it will mimic the creamy texture of full fat yogurt, not to mention added sugar to make up for flavor. The fatty acids found in full-fat yogurt, though, are quite beneficial. Yogurt made from organic, pasture-raised cows contain conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) and phytanic acid. CLA has been found to be protective against heart disease and cancer, and phytanic acid has been shown to improve insulin sensitivity. Additionally, full-fat dairy from organic, grass-fed cows will offer a good source of fat soluble vitamins like Vitamin A (in its active form, retinol) and Vitamin K2; two important ingredients that are difficult to obtain elsewhere in the diet. Several studies show that full-fat dairy is not associated with risk of cardiovascular death, such as this one that found a 69% lower risk of death compared to those who ate the least amount of full-fat dairy. 

Most people, especially pregnant/breast-feeding women and growing children, can benefit from more full-fat food sources, rather than refined low and reduced fat products. Even though it might feel counterintuitive, eating the right fats will not promote unnecessary weight gain. In fact, the opposite is true: healthy fats help the body build the right hormones and induce satiation so weight loss is a common result. Do your best to stay away from refined fats and processed foods containing hydrogenated fats, and instead opt for traditional foods like extra-virgin olive oil, coconut, egg yolks, and pastured, organic butter. 

Do you have any other questions about full-fat foods or good vs. bad fats? Let us know in the comments and we’ll do our best to answer!

Bone Broth: the "superfood" trend you should actually try

Mark my words: bone broth is the new green juice.

Bone broth is an ancient food that has made its way back into the spotlight. It’s popping up in packaged form at Whole Foods and other natural foods stores, butchers are now selling it in hot containers like coffee, and broth bars like this one are emerging onto the scene.

And although you should look at most health fads with a skeptical eye (e.g. products labeled as “superfoods”), the re-emergence of bone broths should be greeted with a warm welcome. Similar to the way fermented and probiotic-rich foods (like kombucha and sauerkraut) have been making great headway due to their impact on promoting a healthy gut, the nutritional benefits of bone broth also deem it worthy of a place in the modern kitchen.

What Is It?

Bone broth is simply a stock made from the meat and bones of animals, most commonly chicken and beef, as well as lamb or fish. The bones, joints, and other parts with cartilage are cooked over low simmering heat, in order to extract gelatin and other nutrients.

Stock or Broth?

Technically, broths and stocks are different. Broths refer to the liquid made from meats, vegetables, and other seasonings (not bones). Stocks, on the other hand, refer to liquids made from slow simmered bones, and they’re often unseasoned. However, when making a stock out of bones, there’s often meat still on the bones, which crosses it over into the broth category. For the purpose of this post, I’m going to use the words broth and stock interchangeably, since we’re addressing the healing properties of slow cooked bones (a stock) but also want the flavor typical of broths (from meat, vegetables and other seasonings).

Nutritional Benefits  

Bone broths are helpful for strengthening bones, cartilage, tendons, and connective tissue for both a pregnant mother and her baby.

By slow-cooking the bones and marrow, collagen and healing amino acids such as proline, glycine, and glutamine, are released. Bone broths also contain essential minerals, including calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, silicon, and sulphur. These nutrients are easily digested and have been found to significantly improve gut and bone health, joints, and the immune system.

Consuming broth during pregnancy is especially helpful in providing extra glycine. While a mother can make enough glycine for survival, sufficient amounts of glycine are needed for fetal growth. The fetus can access glycine from the mother’s blood, or manufacture it with sufficient amounts of folate, a vitamin, and serene, an amino acid. A mother can ensure she gets adequate glycine by consuming bone broth daily.

Collagen is what solidifies and creates the jello-like gelatin. Collagen is found in bones, marrow, joints, and tendons, and offers a diverse array of health benefits, including:

  • Can protect and smooth the lining of the digestive tract and can aid in healing or reducing symptoms of IBS, Crohn’s Disease, ulcerative colitis, and reflux. The hydrophilic colloid found in gelatin attracts and holds liquids and digestive juices and supports proper digestion. Collagen also helps break down proteins, which can be useful for those with leaky gut syndrome.
  • Contains amino acids glycine, proline, and arginine are anti-inflammatory. Glycine is also calming and can promote better sleep.
  • Helps promote probiotic balance and growth.
  • Builds connective tissue, which can prevent bone loss and relieve joint pain. It can also help reduce joint pain and inflammation due to the healing properties of chondroitin sulphates and glucosamine. These compounds are extracted from the boiled down cartilage.
  • Supports the regeneration of connective tissue in the skin, which can reduce the appearance of wrinkles and cellulite. Additionally, the gelatin is supportive of healthy hair and nail growth.

Make Your Own Bone Broth

Bone broth can be easily made at home, which will far outweigh the nutrient content of typical boxed broths, which often contain MSG or other synthetic flavors.

Bone broth can be made with bones and cartilage of chicken, beef, fish or lamb, and sometimes includes a small amount of meat. Since the nutrients will be excreted from the bones of these animals, it’s important to purchase pasture-raised, grass fed, organic and local whenever possible.

Simple Homemade Bone Broth Recipe

  1. Place bones in a large stock pot or slow cooker and cover with water.
  2. Add 2 tbsp. of apple cider vinegar to help excrete the important nutrients from the bone.
  3. Bring to a boil, then turn down to a simmer (if using a slow cooker, turn on high for 1-2 hours, then back down to low for the remaining time).
    1. Fish stock: at least 4 hours, up to 24 hours
    2. Chicken: at least 6, up to 24 hours
    3. Beef/lamb: at least 12 hours, up to 72 hours
  4. Add vegetables and/or seaweed in the last hour of cooking.
  5. Strain and store in glass jars in the fridge for up to 5 days, or freeze for later use.
  6. Enjoy as soup, in stews, sauces or stir-fries, or sip as-is, seasoned with herbs and spices.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bauman E. NC 2010. Musculoskeletal Health. [Power Point Slides]. Retrieved from http://dashboard.baumancollege.org/course/view.php?id=88

Cowan, T.S. & Morell, S. F. (2005). The Nourishing Traditions Book of Baby and Childcare. Washington, DC: New Trends Publishing, Inc. 

Mercola, DO (2013). Bone Broth: One of Your Most Healing Diet Staples. Retrieved from <http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2013/12/16/bone-broth-benefits.aspx>

Which cooking oils are best?

 Photo by Stephanie Crocker&nbsp;

Photo by Stephanie Crocker 

Small Change, Big Impact: Reducing Omega 6 Consumption by Switching Cooking Oils

One of the easiest ways to improve your health in a big way is to pay attention to your cooking oils. While vegetable oils may seem like a logically healthy food (oils that come from vegetables?), they’re actually one of the biggest culprits of promoting inflammation in the body.

Vegetable oils, or industrial seed oils, are oils that have been extracted from the seeds of plants. These seed oils have been stripped of their health-promoting antioxidants through refinement, and most refining processes include being bleached and deodorized with chemical solvents. Because these oils are so refined, they’re very unstable and sensitive to heat, oxygen, and light. The problem with these oils is that they have very large amounts of polyunsaturated fatty acids and high amounts of omega-6 fatty acids.

Omega-6 is an essential fatty acid, meaning we cannot produce it on our own and we have to get it from food. There’s nothing inherently bad about omega-6 fats; however, we need them in the proper ratio to omega-3s in order to be beneficial, and too much omega-6 can cause a variety of health problems, including inflammation. Opinions about the ideal ratio of omega 3:6 varies from about 3:1, or at least 1:1. However, most people eating a typical standard American diet have a ratio that ranges from 1:10 to 1:25! 

Omega-6s and inflammation in a nutshell:

  • Because of our industrialized diet, most people get plenty omega-6 fatty acids from seed oils.
  • Too much omega-6 (without enough omega-3s) leads to systemic inflammation.
  • Systemic inflammation contributes directly to insulin resistance, diabetes, heart disease, weight gain and more.

Which cooking oils to avoid

Our food industry is inundated with refined vegetable oils. Oils such as sunflower oil, soybean oil, canola oil, and corn oil are the cheap and therefore standard in all pre-made foods, including salad dressings, sauces, marinades, spreads, etc. These low-cost oils are also commonly used in restaurants, fast-food establishments, and processed food items.

Common refined vegetable oils to avoid:

  • Canola
  • Corn
  • Cottonseed
  • Peanut
  • Rice bran
  • Safflower
  • Sunflower
  • Soybean

Which fats/oils to use for cooking

When considering a fat source for cooking, take into consideration if you will be using it for low, medium, or high heat cooking.

Best fats for medium/high heat cooking: These products are high in saturated fats, which makes them more stable for higher temperatures and less likely to be oxidized.

  • Butter/ghee
  • Tallow (beef fat, from grass-fed cows)
  • Lard (pork fat, from pastured pigs)
  • Duck fat
  • Avocado oil
  • Palm oil (organic, from an environmentally safe source)
  • Coconut oil (medium)

Best fats to use cold: These fats have more unsaturated fats, and are moderately stable at very low temperatures. Alternatively, add these fats to foods once they have been removed from heat.

  • Macadamia oil
  • Walnut oil
  • Flax seed oil
  • Extra Virgin olive oil*

*Unlike the fats listed in the medium/high-heat cooking list, extra-virgin olive oil contains more monounsaturated fats than saturated fats, so some believe it is less ideal to cook with at high temperatures. However, researchers have shown that olive oil may be able to stand up to the heat due to its polyphenol and tocopherol content, which help to protect the oil from oxidation. In the case of olive oil, quality may make a difference, since the more polyphenols, the less prone to oxidation it will be.