February is the time of year that we celebrate romance and love with Valentine’s Day as well as encourage people to engage in heart healthy lifestyle habits during American Heart Association month. The combination of sweet and juicy cherries along with chia seeds in this frozen smoothie serves as a nutritious yet delicious Valentine’s Day treat or even a quick breakfast on the go.
½ cup 1% milk or non-dairy milk such as almond, soy or cashew milk
2 tsp chia seeds
1 tsp pure almond extract
2 tsp stevia
1 cup vanilla bean or cherry flavor frozen yogurt or non-dairy frozen dessert (example So Delicious or Tofutti brands)
Combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth and well combined. Serve immediately.
Substitute the non-dairy milk and non-dairy frozen dessert if desired to prepare a non-dairy or Paleo friendly smoothie.
If desired, you may substitute 1 cup Greek non-fat yogurt in place of the frozen yogurt. Nutrition Information per serving: 152 calories, 3 grams fat, 1 gram Sat. fat, 2 grams Unsat. fat, 8 mg cholesterol, 19 grams carbohydrates, 2 grams dietary fiber, 15 grams protein,0 grams trans fats
Nutrition information in this food blog is not intended to provide medical advice. Consult your personal health care provider for medical advice.
Cherries are nutritional superstars which provide powerful antioxidants that fight disease causing free radicals in our body and they also have anti-inflammatory properties as well. Research done at the University of Michigan suggests that tart cherries provide cardiovascular benefit and can reduce the risk of stroke. They are sweet and tart in taste and an excellent source of fiber as well as a good source of potassium and Vitamin C in the diet. One cup contains only 87 calories. Cherries are delicious to snack on and you can add them to salads, muffins, quick breads, smoothies or to a bowl of hot or cold cereal in the morning.
Chia seeds can be added to smoothies, yogurt or hot cereals and taste great in puddings. They naturally gel or thicken liquid foods. Chia seeds have been a staple in Mayan and Aztec diets for centuries and recently gained popularity as a nutritional staple in the United States in the last ten years. Chia seeds come from salvia, a plant with sky blue flowers that is native to Mexico. They are a rich source of polyunsaturated fats and are one of the highest sources of plant-based omega-3 fatty acids. The heart healthy omega-3 fatty acids in chia seeds are thought to play a role in reducing inflammation in the body, enhancing cognitive function and reducing cholesterol according to various research studies on this subject. The combination of the protein, high fiber content and gelling action of chia seeds when combined with liquids contribute to their high satiety, which is the feeling of being full and satisfied. This can potentially reduce food cravings between meals and fill you up more at meal time. Since they are also a great source of fiber, they are very helpful in preventing constipation as well if consumed as part of a high fiber diet on a regular basis.
Be sure to celebrate Valentine’s Day with the love of your life and be good to your heart in honor of the American Heart Association’s heart health month!
The leaves on the trees are slowly beginning to turn shades of bright red and gold and the weather has cooled off to highs of the sixties and seventies during the day with chilly evenings as well. We have not had a frost overnight yet. My garden is still producing tomatoes and peppers and a rare strawberry or two. This is a beautiful time of year and the perfect temperature for baking bread. No need to turn on the air conditioner when I’m baking, just open a window or two to cool off my kitchen. I didn’t plant zucchini this year as I have done in the past. I usually produce a bumper crop of these and have to leave extra zucchini on unsuspecting neighbor’s steps to use them all up. I purchased a large zucchini recently at our local farmers market for only seventy five cents and wanted to bake some zucchini bread. I had seen a zucchini cake recipe online and decided to change a few ingredients as well as add some walnuts to the recipe and bake it as a quick bread. In order to reduce the fat and calorie content of the recipe, I swapped out 50% of the vegetable oil or butter for unsweetened applesauce. I decided to use butter in place of vegetable oil to give my recipe a richer, buttery flavor. If you need to limit the cholesterol and saturated fat content of your diet, you could use a vegetable oil in place of the butter. My husband and I are blessed to have normal levels of cholesterol. We do control our cholesterol intake by using very lean cuts of meat as well as using fish and chicken breast in addition to consuming a healthy diet. We occasionally splurge on a little butter though! I reduced by flour by 1/4 cup and substituted ground flaxseed for this to add a unique taste and some extra nutritional benefit. Next, I substituted half of the sugar called for in the recipe for honey. To use honey in place of one cup of sugar in your recipe, use 2 tablespoons less honey, add 1/4 tsp additional baking soda and reduce the liquid in your recipe by three tablespoons.
In addition to the delicious taste, this bread is chock full of healthy ingredients including blueberries, walnuts and zucchini. Walnuts are a member of the tree nuts family and are a rich source of Vitamin E, magnesium, copper and biotin. Walnuts offer heart healthy cardiovascular benefits by helping lower the risk of chronic oxidative stress and reducing inflammation in the body if consumed on a consistent basis. Scientific studies done on walnuts indicate that these benefits may also help reduce incidence of other diseases such as breast and prostrate cancer as well. Study participants consumed three ounces of walnuts per day. Walnuts may also offer benefits for prevention of obesity and weight loss in general. This may be surprising to some people since they think of high fat and high calories foods such as nuts as a contributor to obesity. Walnuts contain heart healthy polyunsaturated and omega-3 fatty acids. Nuts consumed in limited quantities of a one ounce serving per day as a snack or when combined with other foods can be very satisfying and filling and may benefit in controlling appetite thus assisting with weight loss.
2 cups fresh blueberries or drained canned unsweetened blueberries
¾ cup chopped walnuts
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Coat two 9 x 5 inch glass bread pans with non-stick spray or light grease with vegetable oil to prevent sticking. Combine the eggs, butter or vegetable oil and vanilla in a large mixing bowl and beat well. Add honey to this mixture and beat until well combined. Next add the sugar and mix this into the ingredients. combine the flour, ground flaxseed, baking powder and baking soda into a separate bowl and stir together with a fork until well combined. slowly add the dry mixture to the wet mixture and stir together mixing just long enough until well combined. Combine blueberries with one tsp of flour in a small bowl stirring gently until coated well.
Fold in zucchini first, next the nuts and lastly the blueberries. Pour batter into prepared pans. You can use a 8 x 8 inch cake pan in place of one of the bread pans if desired. Bake for approximately 40 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out without wet batter clinging to it. Cool bread on a rack.
the cholesterol and saturated fat content would be less if you substitute a vegetable oil such as canola, olive or corn oil as an example. If desired, you may use coconut oil. The cholesterol content of the recipe will be lower and the saturated fat content will be very similar to the amount in the recipe using butter. Persons on gluten free diets may substitute a gluten free flour or flours in place of the all purpose flour. Investigate how these flours may be substituted in place of all purpose flour and in what quantities before preparing this recipe. This blog is not intended to provide medical advice. Please contact your personal health care professional to provide you with nutritional and medical advice. It is best to bake the bread in a glass pan since the acidic nature of the blueberries may corrode the metal in a metal bread or cake pan. If you do have to use a metal pan, remove bread from pans immediately after cooling off your bread to help prevent this.
Zucchini is a very versatile vegetable and can be used in breads, stir fries and soups and is delicious when prepared on the grill. It is very low in calorie content and is a moderate source of vitamin C, potassium and folate.
Blueberries are a good source of fiber, very low in calories and an excellent source of disease fighting antioxidants. They provide vitamin C, Vitamin K and the mineral manganese. Blueberries offer many health benefits which I won’t go into detail in this post. For more information about their health benefits, read my August 2016 post which includes the recipe for Blueberry Summer Salad.
Enjoy these beautiful fall days and take a little extra time to sample recipes incorporating fall produce from your local farmers market or your own garden.
Bananas are a favorite fruit around my house and I frequently use extra bananas to make banana bread. We live in a small town in the midwest and banana bread is probably one of the most popular quick breads in the region and has been for many generations in my family. My husband and I also love the combination of bananas and peanut butter so I decided that I wanted to try a new version of this recipe. While shopping at Sam’s Club recently, I purchased a powdered peanut butter called PB Fit and decided to incorporate this into my banana bread recipe. The PB Fit contains 50 calories per 2 TB serving compared to 200 calories per 2 TB serving of regular peanut butter. The PB Fit powder is also gluten free, non-GMO, vegan and kosher. It can be used in smoothies or added when baking. I enjoy the challenge of modifying my recipes to improve the nutritional value and must admit this is sometimes a trial and error process until I come up with a recipe that not only tastes good but is good for the body as well! Peanut butter powder incorporates more protein into this recipe, as does the addition of greek yogurt in place of part of the fat called for in the original recipe. To boost up the fiber content of banana breads or similar types of quick breads, you can also swap out a portion of of the all purpose (white) flour and substitute whole wheat flour and old fashioned oatmeal. The original recipe called for 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour so I used 1 cup all-purpose flour, 1 cup whole wheat flour and 1/2 cup of old fashioned oatmeal. If you prefer a gluten free bread, substitute your favorite version of 2 1/2 cups of gluten free flour and use the certified gluten free oatmeal in this recipe. If you really like the combination of peanut butter, banana and chocolate, add 2/3 cup of dark chocolate chips to this recipe for that extra special dark chocolate taste to satisfy those chocolate cravings! Banana bread is delicious when served for breakfast, snacks or in a brown bag lunch.
Add bananas to a large mixing bowl and beat well with an electric mixer. Next add the oil, honey yogurt, eggs and 1% milk to the beaten bananas and again mix well until thoroughly combined. Add the powdered peanut butter and beat well. Combine the remainder of the dry ingredients in a separate bowl and stir together well. Add the dry ingredients to the banana mixture and again mix together until well combined. Place the bread mixture into an oiled bread pan and bake at 350 degrees F for approximately 55 minutes until golden brown. Remove the pan from the oven and let the bread cool and remove from bread pan.
This food blog is not intended to provide medical advice. Consult your personal health care provider for medical advice.
Plan to serve this bread with some fresh fruit and a cup of coffee for a quick and easy breakfast on the go.
I also like to add bananas to smoothies, fruit salads, peanut butter sandwiches or just enjoy a banana as a quick and healthy snack. One banana provides 25% of an adults daily value (DV) of vitamin B6, 16% of the DV for manganese, 12% each of the DV for potassium and dietary fiber as well as 10% each of the DV for copper and biotin.
Have a very blessed day! Thought for the day from Gloria Gaither: We may run, walk, stumble, drive or fly, but let us never lose sight of the reason for the journey, or miss a chance to see a rainbow on the way. Inspirational verse for the day: Psalm 37:4 Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart!