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Heart-Friendly Foods You Should Consume Regularly

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One-third of deaths worldwide have been linked to heart disease. You may have seen some of the damaging effects on a friend, family member or perhaps you currently struggle with a heart-related issue yourself.

In the U.S alone, someone suffers from a heart attack every 40 seconds. It seems almost everyone we know has a heart disease story – they have either experienced it or know someone who has.

What Are Heart Diseases?

Although heart attacks are some of the commonest forms or symptoms of heart disease, they aren’t the only ones at all. Heart disease is only a general term to describe the dysfunction of the blood vessels in different parts of the body that usually lead to organ malfunction.

Some common types of heart diseases are:

Arrhythmia (abnormal heart rhythm), atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries from fat and cholesterol buildup), heart attack (block blood flow to the art usually due to a clot), heart valve issues, and heart failure (when the heart fails to pump as much blood as required)

What Would You Do Differently?

What would you differently if you could significantly cut down your risk of developing heart diseases by incorporating a healthy diet? Yes, diet really does impact your risk of developing heart diseases.

Below are some picks of super healthy foods you should eat regularly for optimum heart health.

Apples

Good old’ apples! Apples have been shown in many types of research to significantly lower the risk of heart disease. They contain compounds that could improve heart health. One such compound is a phytochemical called quercetin and it acts as a natural anti-inflammatory agent. Studies suggest that quercetin may also help to prevent clots.

Apples are high in soluble fiber and polyphenols known for its antioxidant effects.  Flavonoid epicatechin is one of the polyphenols known to lower blood pressure among many other flavonoids connected with a lesser risk of stroke and decreased harmful cholesterol.

The best part? Apples are can be enjoyed in a variety of ways not just alone as a snack. So, grab as many as you can the next time you go grocery shopping.

Salmons

One of the best sources of omega-3 fatty acids, salmons offers so many benefits for the heart. A 2012 study revealed that as little as 0.45 to 4.5 grams of omega-3 fatty acids can considerably improve arterial function.

Omega-3 has also been known for decreasing inflammation, reducing blood pressure and enhancing the function of the endothelial cells.

What’s there not to love about salmons? They’re delicate, tasty and with less than the normal fish taste and smell compared to other fatty fishes like sardines and tuna.

What are you waiting for? Stock up on salmons and enjoy in many different ways – grilled, sautéed, steamed, etc.

Green Leafy Vegetables

Greens such as kale, spinach, and celery are popular for the vitamins, minerals, and antioxidant they pack. They are also fantastic sources of vitamin K – beneficial for your arteries and improve blood clotting.

In some studies, green leafy vegetables were associated with a lesser risk of heart diseases. Leafy greens are also rich in dietary nitrates which have been proven to reduce blood pressure, arterial stiffness and boost the functions of the cell lining the blood vessels.

In another study of over 20,000 women, higher intake of leafy greens was linked to a lower risk of coronary heart disease.

Chocolates

 

Theobroma cacao aka cocoa is rich in antioxidants. The antioxidant found in cocoa powder and dark chocolate has been shown to be even more powerful than those contained in antioxidant-rich fruits like acai, cranberry, blueberries, and pomegranate.

In a study, regular consumption of dark chocolate was shown to reduce cardiovascular disease by 37%, stroke by 29% and type II diabetes by 31%!

Note however that when it comes to optimizing it for your health, the darker chocolate is one you should opt for. Pick only the types with up to 72% cocoa and legally sourced.

Legumes

Name them; chickpeas, beans, lentils, and so many others. They’re rich in fiber and other health-improving nutrients. They contain little fat, proteins, complex carbohydrates, antioxidants, and anti-cholesterol compounds.

They can also help to improve your blood glucose and maintain a healthy weight, while the fiber they contain can help to promote healthy gut bacteria.

They may cause gas, but if you slowly incorporate them into your meals and consume them regularly, your body will certainly grow used to it.

Red Wine

Red wine is rich in polyphenols that are known to be healthy for the heart. Many studies indicate that moderate consumption of red wine can be helpful in preventing heart-related disease because of its antioxidant effects. It also promotes endothelial function, decreases the negative effects of blood platelet activity, and increase healthy cholesterol.

Tomatoes

Another super-food; tomatoes are high in lycopene, an antioxidant. Lycopene is a known anti-inflammatory compound that lowers inflammation and fights against oxidative damages that could contribute to heart diseases.

When eaten raw, tomatoes can improve HDL level (good cholesterol) in overweight women. Cooking can, however, increase their nutritional content such as releasing more lycopene that normally available in its uncooked state.

Walnuts

Rich in fiber and micronutrients like copper, manganese, and magnesium, studies suggest that that regularly including walnuts in your diet may offer you protection against heart disease.

According to another study, eating walnuts may decrease unhealthy cholesterol level by up to 16%, reduce diastolic blood pressure by 2-3 mm Hg and combat oxidative stress and inflammation.

In a different study of 365 participants, incorporating walnuts into meals significantly lessened LDL and total cholesterol.

Avocados

 

Just like olives, avocados are rich in monounsaturated fatty acids, essential vitamins, and phytochemicals that effectively work as antioxidants for a healthier heart.

The monounsaturated acids contained in avocados are known to greatly reduce inflammation throughout the body and this, of course, includes the heart. Avocado oil is also one of the healthiest cooking oil as the fat it contains is resistant to oxidation from heat, unlike most other cooking oil types.

Conclusion

Most of the foods listed above aren’t only needed for heart health. They can also be helpful in protecting you against other chronic conditions like Alzheimer’s, cancer, diabetes, and many others. They are therefore worth including in your diet for optimum health.

 

We’d like to know of other heart-healthy foods you often consume. Share with us in the comment or let us know if they’re already included on our list.

Dawn is a health and fitness enthusiast, a massage therapist and she also loves to write!

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Prevent Food Wastage: Tips For Preserving Leftovers, Why You Should Eat Your Leftovers And Mistakes To Avoid

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Yearly, billions of pounds of leftovers are discarded in just the U.S alone. While a huge chunk of this number is food that never makes it to our tables, a considerable amount of this food goes to waste from our kitchens.

Some people do not eat leftovers! And while some others would eat leftovers, it is only on the condition that they taste great when reheated or else, they are thrown out.

Unfortunately, not many know how to make leftovers taste great so they end up throwing them out. How wrong! Food is expensive and there is so much you can do with leftovers!

In this post, I’ll share some of the ways you can make the most of your leftovers, tips for using leftovers, how to preserve leftovers and some common mistakes to avoid with leftovers.  Read on!

                                  Tips For Using Leftovers

Establish A Leftovers Night Or Day

If you haven’t already, then start today. Establish a weekly leftovers night or even day. I mean, you just can’t let them go to waste. And even though consuming leftovers are not your thing, you’ll be wasting a lot of money by letting these foods go to waste. Do better; set aside a particular day each week for leftover consumption and let your family in on your plans. Again, depending on your relationship with leftovers, they may not be very inclined to join in but all that can change once you know how to prepare your leftovers.

Reheat Your Leftovers The Right Way

Depending on how long it’s been kept, your leftover can become stale. Thankfully, this can be corrected with the right reheating method. So now you don’t have to toss a meal in the thrash anymore because it has gotten bland or no longer taste as good as the first day. What you should do is re-spice, re-season, or do just about anything to bring back or even enhance the taste. Work your magic here, get creative and you’ll notice the flavor return to your food.

However, when reheating leftovers, spices and seasonings alone won’t do as most leftovers tend to dry out a little. You should add some moisture in the form of butter, sauce, sour cream, and then topped off with some cheese. You enjoy two benefits by doing this; improved texture and a better-tasting meal.

That said; note that any day can be a leftover day. You can always defrost and heat your leftovers whenever you feel like it, you do not have to wait until the leftover day.

First Foods First

With this method, you can identify the foods that need to be consumed first. And this is something you really should take seriously if you live in a household with children or have flatmates.

You can place these foods in an area of the fridge reserved exclusively for leftovers or have the meals labeled with “eat-me” first stickers. Now, everyone in the house knows where to pick food from when hungry.

Mix And Match Meals

Because leftovers are usually an assortment of food, one sure way to consume them is by mixing them up. Again, this would require re-spicing, re-seasoning and some level of creativity. Even when you have only one meal type available, you can always bulk it up by using regulars such as eggs, bread or wraps or veggies.

Make Your Leftovers Into Something New

Experiment! Get creative with the meals. Make your leftovers into something new. If you have plenty of plain white rice, you can make some fried rice with it or enjoy it with some tomato sauce or soup.

You can make your leftover chicken into chicken salad sandwiches and the enchiladas into a taco salad. Just do anything as long as the outcome is edible. You should be able to envision the meal’s outcome before starting and if it makes sense, then go for it.

Preserving Leftovers

Your leftovers will keep in a refrigerator for only a short time. If you’re not certain of consuming it within a day or two, you should freeze the meal.

Almost every meal can be frozen and defrosted later. This not only helps to ensure that you don’t waste food but also ensures that you have a supply of meals on days when you need to whip up something quickly for lunch or dinner. All you need are containers/Tupperware or sandwich-sized Ziploc bags. They are stackable and easy to defrost when needed.

Other effective ways for storing leftovers in the freezer include:

Pyrex bowls

Pyrex bowls are long-lasting and will hardly ever get scratches or stains even after multiple uses. However, opt for the ones with lids to keep your food covered in the fridge and after you take them out. Another reason you may want to opt for Pyrex bowls is that they are microwave safe. This means they can go from the fridge to the microwave with no hassle.

Mason jars

Using mason jars is another effective way to store your leftovers. However, using them can be tricky as they can shatter when contents expand in the freezer. You can prevent this by leaving some space at the top of the jars and freeze them with their lids off. Once frozen and fully expanded, you can replace the lids.

Freezer wraps

These include foil, waxed paper, and plastic. You can store chunks of leftovers such as large cuts of meat and bread in them.  They are compact, nice and so you get to fully utilize your freezer space.

Why You Should Consume Your Leftovers

You may already know why you should always consume your leftovers, but as a refresher, I’ll outline these reasons and more below. So, the next time you think about tossing that bowl of rice, you’ll have more than a few reasons not to.

Leftovers Save You Money

You work hard for your money, and while there are fancier things to spend it on, food is one essential that you never leave out. You spend good money on food! And of course, lots of time preparing it.

Now, think about it; you spent all that time and money shopping and standing in the kitchen prepping these meals only to have them go to waste. By eating leftovers, you keep the waste at bay and keep your food budget reasonable.

You Reduce Food Wastage

By choosing to include leftovers in your meal plan, you play your part in reducing global food wastage. You become part of the solution and also help yourself save money you’d have thrown away – yes; food wastage is the same thing as throwing money away.

Some Foods Taste Better As Leftovers

Soups, sauces and even casseroles are just a few of the foods that taste better with time. This is simply because their flavors have had enough time to blend well.

You should try it; make two meals at once; one that you consume today and the second for tomorrow, then refrigerate and reheat the second for tomorrow or the day after. You’ll notice it taste better than you’re used to.

It Saves You Time

Instead of starting all over with prepping a new meal, putting leftovers to use will save you valuable time.  You spend only minutes prepping and reheating leftovers instead of the hours you’d have spent on a new meal. Plus, your kitchen is cleaner and safer as cleanup is easier and quicker.

Making Use Of Leftovers: Before You Eat A Leftover

Before consuming any leftover, you want to make sure that it is safe. And this, of course, depends on how the meal is stored.

Before storing away leftovers, make sure you allow them cool, then cover and place neatly in the fridge within three hours of cooking. And while frozen foods will keep longer, you should consume foods you place in the refrigerator within two days. Depending on the food type, you can either consume them cold or heat until very hot.

Also, note that not all meals do well as leftovers. Leafy salads and pastries are best eaten fresh. For salads, then don’t dress it if you think that you might not finish it. You can always enjoy the crisp leftover salad without the dressing the next day.

Making Use Of Leftovers: Conclusion

Have you been tossing out your leftovers? Well, now you know better. Take out that Tupperware containing yesterday’s leftover, let your creativity soar, reheat and enjoy! Remember, your money doesn’t come easy, or does it? Even if it did, you don’t want it going to waste, do you?  Of course not! Now, go enjoy some leftovers!

 

Thoughts, questions, or tips on using leftovers? Share in the comment section below!

 

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How To Make Almond Chocolate Milk At Home

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If you’ve tried making your homemade almond milk, you’ll agree that the quality of your product beats most store-bought varieties hands down.

Yes, buying ready-made products can seem more convenient but if you follow the making instructions, the time and effort you spend making yours are always worth it.  Plus, homemade products are often free of the many additives commonly present in many commercially-produced foods, and you also get to tell exactly what goes into your food.

It’s the same with making almond chocolate milk. You know exactly what goes into your food and what to avoid or include.

Homemade almond chocolate milk is a safe and healthy alternative to the store-bought varieties that are usually filled with thickeners, preservatives, sugars and other artificial taste enhancers even with the often ridiculously high price tags pegged on them.

Homemade Almond Chocolate Milk: Ingredients Needed

  • 3 cups of raw almonds
  • 5 cups of filtered water
  • 1 cup of pure dark chocolate
  • Optional: 6 dry dates (seeds removed), 3 tbsp vanilla bean paste

Homemade Almond Chocolate Milk: Making Instructions

First, soak the almond nuts in water for either a few hours, overnight, or for a few days. Ensure that the almonds are covered with enough water.

When soaked, drain and rinse under running water.

Scoop the soaked almonds into your blender or food processor, add the date nuts, water and cover the lid. Blend until smooth. A thicker or thinner consistency may require less or more water, so check after blending to see if you like the consistency of the mixture. You may need to blend the almonds and dates in batches but this depends on the size of your blender or food processor.

Pour the mixture into the cheesecloth or a nut milk bag after blending to strain into a clean already prepared bowl. With your hand, firmly twist the bag to extract as much liquid as possible from the pulp.

Once strained, you can set aside the leftover pulp for dehydration and for use later in baking or added to cereals or porridges.

Place the chocolate into a separate bowl and melt over a large bowl of water placed over a saucepan containing water. You can also melt in a microwave if more convenient.

When it melts, fetch some almond milk; add to the chocolate bowl, then mix to combine well. This is so your chocolate milk mixes easily with the rest of the milk.

Once well-combined, add the chocolate mixture to your bowl of almond milk and mix. At this point, you can add any other sweetener of your choice or even more cocoa powder for extra chocolate.

Pour the mixture into a glass jar or bottle for storage in the refrigerator. It can keep for up to five days. Before you serve each time, make sure you shake properly. If you’re freezing for long, use only tempered glasses or BPA-free containers.

 

Did you try the chocolate almond milk? How did you like it? Tell us in the comment section below. Also, don’t forget to check the article on making homemade almond milk and other homemade recipes.

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How To Make Almond Milk At Home

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Don’t we all just love the convenience of store-bought varieties of our favorite food products?

Truth is, while the convenience of buying already made food products/ingredients is almost incomparable, oftentimes, it also means that we lose out on the quality that only the original can offer.

With homemade products, you actually know what goes into the product, the making process and you are able to control the taste to a large extent. What’s more? The satisfaction of creating and seeing your own finished work is second to none!

*enters almond milk*

Fast-becoming a number one go-to plant-based milk, almond milk is a favorite in many vegan/plant-based cooking and cooking recipes.

It is healthy, tasty, and requires minimal processing.  It is also one of the many non-dairy milk types that both adults and children can enjoy.

Making almond milk is not only an incredibly interesting process, but it is also a very old practice.  Several cultures have made almond milk way before the French reinvented it in form of blancmanges.

The almond milk making process simply involves leaving almonds soaked overnight in water for a few hours or a day or two. Now, depending on how creamy you want your milk, you may have to soak for even longer or shorter.  Simply rinse the seeds from the soaking water and blend/grind in fresh, clean water. The liquid you have after draining the blended almonds and water is your, fresh and tasty almond milk.

Of course, you can add some twists and bends to the process for extra sweetness or to make the delicious almond chocolate milk.

Making Homemade Almond Milk Without Carrageenan

If you like keeping your foods as addictive-free as possible, homemade almond milk gives you the liberty to do so.

One of the things many almond milk aficionados love about this plant-based milk is how it can be made without preservatives or additives like carrageenan. While carrageenan (derived from seaweed) is commonly used for thickening and emulsifying many commercially-produced food products, it can be inflammatory to the body.

It is best to make almond milk and other plant-based milk at home instead of consuming store-bought products. This way, you’ll be certain that it is completely free of additives and fillers.

Health Benefits Of Almond Milk

What are the health benefits of drinking almond milk? There are several reasons you should consume almond milk and some of these reasons are listed below.

  • Almond milk is non-dairy and so, it is free of lactose or casein. The two have been known to cause digestive issues in humans.
  • Just 1 cup of homemade almond milk provides you with up to 6 grams of protein!
  • In just one cup of homemade almond milk, you get up to 8% of your recommended daily calcium intake and 6% of your daily calcium need!
  • And finally, it is tasty! Not a health benefit alright but it still had to be mentioned for emphasis even though you already know : )

Before You Make Homemade Almond Milk: Things To Know

  • True, it would be more convenient if we could make several batches and store in the refrigerator, but we can’t.
  • Almond milk will only keep fresh for a few days and unless you intend pasteurizing it, (somehow defeats the whole idea behind making it at home) make only the quantity you need for a few days. You can always make another batch later, it takes just minutes to grind and strain after soaking.
  • When making almond milk, you can start with 1 cup of almonds to 2 cups of water. Increase or reduce or increase the quantity of water to thicken or lighten in subsequent batches if you want.
  • Almond milk can be made in a food processor or a blender. There is very little difference between the two but you can start with a blender then use a food processor the next time to see which you prefer the most.

How To Make Homemade Almond Milk

Again, one of the reasons homemade almond milk is better than the store-bought ones is that you get to tell exactly what gets into your milk. With homemade almond milk, you are certain that there are no sweeteners or fillers added to it. The recipe below is made with just two ingredients and is ready for use in less than 10 minutes (after soaking).

Soaking the almond nuts

Soak the raw almonds in water for a few hours, overnight or a few days. As the nuts absorb water, they soften and increase in size. Ensure that you cover with a cloth and allow to sit undisturbed until blending day.  Note that the longer you let the almond sit, the creamier the result.

Equipment Needed For Homemade Almond Milk

  • Strainer (cheesecloth or fine mesh nut milk bag)
  • Bowls
  • Blender/food processor
  • Measuring cup

Homemade Almond Milk: Ingredients Needed

  • 2 cups of water
  • 1 cup of raw almonds

Optional: sweeteners like maple syrup or dates can be added

Directions

  • Rinse the soaked almonds in clean water and drain.
  • Place almonds in a blender, add the water and blend at the highest speed until smooth and creamy.
  • Strain the almond blend with a cheesecloth or a fine nut-milk bag. Twist the cheesecloth or nut milk bag with your hands to extract as much liquid as possible.
  • You can add coconut oil and vanilla before blending for extra creaminess and flavor.

What Can I Do With Leftover Almond Pulp?

The leftover almond pulp can be added to porridges, homemade muffins, and cakes or any of your favorite oatmeal recipes. You can also dehydrate and store in sealed containers for use when needed.

 

Planning to make your first homemade almond milk or already given it a try? Let us know how you liked it in the comment section below.

Questions/thoughts? Also, share in the comments

 

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