Tag Archives: spinach

The Perfect Gluten-Free Dessert with a Secret Ingredient

brownies-blue2sm-682x1024Calling all sweet tooths! Brownies are a dessert staple – right after cake, ice cream and pie. There are so many variations of the brownie recipe that it can be difficult to carve out your own, but after many attempts I think I’ve done it.

It took a while to get this recipe right, but I found that spinach, of all things, is the key. Not only does it add a little nutrition to the treat but it also helps keep the brownie moist. I’ve also added Cardomom, which is a bit of an exotic spice. If you don’t have it in your cupboard you can skip it, but I think it rounds out the taste nicely. Oh, and these brownies are also gluten-free! Does it get any better than that?

Perfect Gluten-Free Spinach Brownies

makes @16 brownies

Serve with Almond Milk

Ingredients:

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 350ºF.

Line an 9×12-inch baking pan with parchment paper.

Steam the spinach until wilted (about 2 minutes).

 In a mixing bowl whisk together the raw cacao, almond meal, sorghum flour, salt, cinnamon, cardamom and baking soda.

 Put the maple syrup and the spinach in a blender and blend until pureed.

 Make a well in the center of the mixing bowl and add the beaten eggs, vanilla extract, sesame oil and maple syrup-spinach mixture. Beat on low-medium for two minutes, until the batter begins to come together. At first it will seem thin but keep beating until it thickens and becomes smooth and glossy. It might seem a little soupy to you but that is ok. It will come together in the oven.

Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan.

 If you are adding nuts, stir in the nuts by hand. Even out the batter with a silicone spatula.

 Stud the top with some dark chocolate chips and press in slightly.

 Bake in the center of a preheated 350ºF oven for 30-35 minutes, or until the brownies are set. The top will crack, like a flourless chocolate cake. You will know it is done when a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Enjoy!

Originally posted on my website, TappsTips.com 

5 Stress-Reducing Foods You Should Add to Your Diet

Screen Shot 2013-06-24 at 9.30.37 AMEating lunch at your desk every day will stress you out, but what you’re shoveling into your mouth also plays a role. And stress is more damaging than you’d think when it comes to weight maintenance and loss, says James Duigan, Elle Macpherson’s personal trainer and author of the newly revised and updated book, The Clean & Lean Diet.

It’s a vicious cycle: Stress increases hormones in your body that cause you to store fat (especially around your belly), and the more stressed you are, the more you’ll crave stress-boosting foods, like sugary snacks, which will make you more stressed after you eat them.

The key is to focus on eating a balanced diet of clean, wholesome foods that deliver essential vitamins and minerals. (Oh, and don’t forget to sleep.) “Reducing stress is not only important for fat loss or maintaining a healthy weight, but it’s also important for a healthy, happy life,” Duigan says.

Here are five stress-reducing foods from the Clean & Lean Diet to get you started now:

Avocados

This fruit’s creamy texture can help satisfy cravings when your body is in a state of stress, Duigan says. “Plus, all the good fat and potassium they contain can lower your blood pressure (and therefore stress levels).”

Berries

Studies have shown that vitamin C helps the body deal with stress, and berries deliver a healthy dose. They also provide you with fiber, which helps regulate blood-sugar levels. And blood sugar is seriously linked to stress levels.

Spinach

All dark green vegetables will fight stress by feeding your body its vitamins, and spinach is also particularly rich in magnesium. “Magnesium helps return your body to a calm state and improve your sleep,” Duigan says.

 

Read about the rest of these amazing stress-reducing foods at Well+Good NYC!

How to Balance pH for the Best Body You’ve Ever Had

Screen Shot 2013-06-11 at 5.04.26 PM

Summer is a season of renewal, and a great time to highlight pH balance, a critical factor in overall health, including maintaining a healthy digestive system, glowing skin, and a strong immune system. Like most things in life, it’s all about balance – in this case, between the level of acidity and alkalinity in your body. If your pH (short for potential of hydrogen) balance is too far in one direction or the other, it can be detrimental to your health.

I enlisted the help of  Dr. Jeffery Morrison to explain the specifics around pH balance, as well as easy dietary choices that help to correct imbalances. A leader in the Wellness field, Dr Morrison is a medical doctor as well as a nutrition expert. He heads up the Morrison Center in NYC and is the author of the book “Cleanse Your Body, Clear Your Mind.

What is the importance of the acid/alkaline balance in the body?

Dr. Morrison: Our bodies work the best when we are able to maintain the proper pH. When the body is too acid or too alkaline, it doesn’t work optimally.

What causes an imbalance?

JM: Our bodies are very efficient at keeping the acid/alkaline balance, but if we carry too much stress and our acid levels get too high, then the body needs to work extra hard to maintain that balance, leaving little energy for healing and repair.

When the body is too acidic, the cells become deprived of the oxygen they need to efficiently deliver nutrients and energy throughout the body. To buffer the acid in our blood and maintain a proper pH, the body also needs to steal calcium from our bones and magnesium from our cells. That is why people who are acidic over an extended period of time tend toward osteoporosis, low energy, and shorter life spans.

If too much acid can hurt us, why do we need it?

JM: We need the acid to help fight infection. We tend to become acidic when we are fighting an acute infection like a cold or the flu or healing a wound. The body’s response to infection is inflammation. Temperature and circulation increase while oxygenation decreases; it’s like localized chemotherapy. As a consequence, acid levels increase.

This is why people tend to get really tired when they are sick. Cells need oxygen to make energy and the acidic environment inhibits the cells from getting that oxygen. This is a healthy response. We want this to happen. This is how our bodies heal. However, when this acute reaction becomes a chronic one, then we get into trouble.

What steps can people make to create more alkalinity in their body?

 JM: Eating the wrong food plays a big role in how acidic we are. People who eat processed food, drink soda, and eat candy tend to be more acidic. Other things that play a role in our pH levels are chronic infections, long-term use of prescription medications, too much protein, and stress.

food-chartWhat foods are best to eat to promote optimum pH?

JM: The best foods to boost your alkalinity are leafy green vegetables like spinach, kale, celery, and swiss chard, as well as some fruits. To shoot for an optimum pH, people should eat a diet that is 70% alkaline and 30% acidic. Acidic foods like nuts, grains, and proteins are an essential part of your diet but should make up only 30% of your food intake.

What about non-dietary factors?

JM: The other things that people can do to reduce the acidity in their bodies are moderate exercise, stress management, and to drink plenty of water.

How can people find out if they are acidic?

JM: There is a very simple test that anyone can pick up in a health food store: pH Balance strips. You can choose either urine or saliva, but I feel that urine is more accurate. Use the strips with your first morning urine. If you test below a 5, then it is likely that you are acidic.

What will people feel when they switch over from being too acidic to becoming balanced?

JM: When your body’s pH normalizes, you will feel more energized and less achy. You will sleep better, your mind will be clearer, your skin color will improve, and your ability to fight off infections will increase. This is because your cells will have proper oxygenation which will allow your body to function at its highest level.

For more inspiration, here are 4 pH-balancing recipes:

Kale Chips
pH Balance Juice
Berry Kale Smoothie
Beet Fennel Soup

 

Chart credit: Better Body Choices

Originally published on my website, Tapp’s Tips

Seven Scrumptious Spinach Salad Recipes

PHOTO (cc): Flickr / elana’s pantry

Spinach salads are a wonderful accompaniment to a variety of meals, or as a meal in itself! They pair deliciously with a nuts, fruits, and meats. Spinach is a step above other greens in nutritional value as well, as it is one of the richest sources of beta carotene, which improves immunity (among other benefits), and it is packed with vitamins C, A and B. Not to mention the fact that it is delicious and colorful. Try one of making these tasty salads for your next dinner party!

 
Spinach Salad with Cranberries, Almonds, and Sesame SeedsThis light and beautiful salad is tossed with blanched almonds, cranberries, sesame seeds, poppy seeds, and minced onions and drizzled with a light vinaigrette. Consider pairing this salad with Spaghetti Bolognese and toasty garlic bread.
 
Shrimp and Orange Spinach Salad.  This low-fat, Asian-influenced delight is a complete meal. A layer of spinach is topped with shrimp, oranges, small pasta shells and peas, which are coated in a soy and ginger marinade.
 
Strawberry and Spinach SaladThis simple and lovely salad is slightly sweet and tangy with a poppy seed dressing. It is perfect as a complete, light meal or for taking to showers or other parties.
 
Spinach Salad with Garbanzo Beans and FetaThis is a fabulous meal-in-itself for dieters that is both filing, low-calorie, and scrumptious. All you need is baby spinach, a can of garbanzo beans and crumbled feta. Top with balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil.
 
Grilled Spinach SaladTalk about a complete meal! Grill whatever vegetables you’d like: mushrooms, onions, red peppers, eggplant…anything that strikes your fancy. Combine grilled veggies with grilled, sliced chicken breasts and top with a honey mustard dressing.
 
Warm Bacon, Avocado and Spinach SaladThinly sliced avocadoes are nestled between leaves of spinach and topped with warm bacon, walnut pieces, and parmesan and drizzled with a piquant cider vinegar and Dijon mustard dressing.
 
Spinach Salad with Steak, Blueberries and Feta CheeseA very healthy and satisfying supper! Thinly sliced steak, blueberries, and walnuts top this spinach salad. Try it with a fresh baguette and a glass of wine.

 

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