More Than Just Tasty – The Many Health Benefits of Avocados

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By Shannon Keirnan, Contributing Foodie Bitch

One of the many benefits of being a Foodie Bitch is how it entirely changes your taste for certain foods.

When I gave up processed foods and limited my gluten, I began to realize I wasn’t craving my usual sugary or salty snacks. Better yet, healthy foods I had previously not enjoyed now tasted much better. In fact, that was usually more what I was in the mood for when the urge to nibble struck…

In particular, avocados became my new rage.

I never liked avocados (except maybe mixed into Lindsey’s Avocado Spread), and that seemed like a superfood tragedy. Recently, in hopes that I could just choke some down for health benefits, I tasted one again. I was amazed by how much I liked it.

Well, “liking” avocados now is putting it mildly. I went on an avocado rampage. I chopped those babies up and put them in everything. I mixed them into pulled pork and mashed potatoes, I cut them up and threw them in salads, added them to any taco I might eat, or just wrapped up an avocado as the “meat” in a tortilla. If all else failed, I just drizzled a little olive oil and some salt and pepper over a sliced avocado and went the bare bones route for dinner.

I’m glad I can finally destroy these things as they deserve to be destroyed, because adding avocados to your diet has a huge range of health benefits.

– Avocados are a “healthy fat.” Don’t be continually fooled into thinking fats are bad. Your body needs fat to run and survive, and the monounsaturated fats in avocados can reduce the bad cholesterol in your blood, which lowers risk of stroke and heart disease.

– They’re high in protein too. An avocado contains around 4 grams, so, especially if you’re meat-free, they’re a great option to fill up on.

– Avocados are rich in potassium, vitamin K, vitamin B9, vitamin B6, vitamin B5, vitamin C and vitamin E (which some might know as the “beautiful skin” vitamin). The potassium levels can help balance the sodium levels in your body.

– Avocados contain around 11 grams of fiber, which is nearly half the recommended daily amount.

– They’re good for your figure. A study on avocado consumption in US adults found that people who eat avocados regularly were more likely to have a lower body weight, BMI, and waist circumference.

– Avocados are also rich in phytochemicals, which help prevent the development of certain cancers.

– Eating avocados along with other nutrient-rich foods can increase your absorption of antioxidants – specifically lycopene and beta-carotene.

– Avocados have anti-inflammatory properties, and can soothe the body.

So, thank goodness, that I can fully appreciate the many health benefits of the avocado. Hopefully you do too – feel free to leave your favorite way to prepare avocados in the comments and pass on the love!

Now, if I could only get myself to like tomatoes…

(P.S. If you’re wondering how to make the avocado tacos pictured above, they’re just my Shrimp Taco recipe made meat free, with an extra pinch of sea salt!)

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It’s Garden Time!

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By Nancy Smorch, Foodie Bitch 

I’m so excited!  My plants for the garden arrived this past weekend from organic Cinzori Farms, here in Michigan.  I’ve got some new plants this year, like chocolate mint.  I remember Mike and I saw this at a restaurant’s herb garden a couple of years ago in California and I thought it was so cool!

I’ve also got some white eggplant this year in addition to the usual purple.  More strawberry plants too, as I’m trying to gradually expand my strawberry patch.

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Also, I wanted to give you an update on the seeds I planted in the egg cartons.  Quite honestly, I wasn’t sure they were going to work out at first.  The soil dried out so quickly and nothing was coming up for a while, but not to worry.  They are sprouting nicely.  I will have lots of nice lettuce in the raised beds by the house.

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Monday I was on a mission to complete all of the weeding in the raised beds in under 30 minutes so I could be ready for my plants and seeds.  With some extreme focus and speed, I think it was more like 45 minutes, but I did it.  I was surprised to see these guys – onions from last year!  I love onions, so these were a welcome surprise.  It also looked like I had some sort of squash growing from a squash or pumpkin that was left outside until this spring.  I can’t remember what it looked like, so it should be fun to see what comes up there.

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I posted a little note on Facebook about how each year I always wished I had planted fruit trees on our property years ago when we built the house – we would be enjoying fruit from them by now.  So, I never got around to planting them, thinking it was too late.  Well, two years ago, I finally started a little fruit orchard at our house.  We’ve lost quite a few of the trees over the last couple of years – some to deer, some to the fact that the soil they were planted in the first year was quite sandy, and I think this past winter was just a little too hard on a couple of them.  I replant a few new ones each year and last year I moved them to a spot on our property with better soil.  We’re making progress.  I love looking out and seeing them mature.

Did I ever tell you how much I love this time of year in West Michigan?

What have you planted so far in your garden?

‘Ripe Cookbook’ by Cheryl Sternman Rule, with Photography by Paulette Phlipot

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By Nancy Smorch, Foodie Bitch

This recommendation comes to you just in time for farmers market season and all of the fresh, RIPE, produce that accompanies it.

This beautifully photographed book is divided into simple recipes and ideas for fruits and vegetables based on their color.

For example, in the “Green” section, you’ll find beautiful pictures of green fruits and vegetables in alphabetical order, each with a full recipe for that particular fruit or vegetable and 3 simple uses for them.  Take avocados.  You’ll find one full recipe for avocados:  Avocado Tangerine Salsa, and then 3 “Simple Uses for Avocados”, one of which is to simply take an avocado half and fill the cavity with olive oil, lime juice and coarse sea salt.

In the “Orange” section, you’ll find “Red Curry Glazed Butternut Squash with Coconut Rice”, as the main recipe, along with “3 Simple Uses for Butternut Squash” – one of which is to simply toss penne pasta, squash, brown butter, sage, and breadcrumbs.

I love it!  Can you tell by all of the sticky notes hanging out of the sides in the picture?

What’s my favorite recipe in the book, you ask?  Thank you for asking!

It’s actually the Rhubarb Cherry Mini Crisps on p. 56.  These individual sized “crisps” are perfect all summer long – I just change out the fruit with the season.  Of course I modified the recipe a bit and used rice flour instead of regular flour and used blueberries and cherries the first time I tried it (because rhubarb was out of season)…

But guess what is in season now?  Looks like I may be making this for dessert tomorrow night with actual rhubarb.  Thanks for the suggestion ;).

Here’s the website for the “Ripe” cookbook – and don’t you LOVE the new book trailers?  Check out “Ripe’s” book trailer and if you are looking for a gift for a foodie graduate, a wedding or shower gift, or simply a gift for a special person, consider this mouthwatering book.  Simply put – a work of art, in and out of the kitchen!

Dr. Terry Wahls’ Recovery from Multiple Sclerosis – Through Food!

Someone very close to me was just diagnosed with MS (Multiple Sclerosis).

In an effort to research options for her to give her hope, I came across Dr. Terry Wahls and her TEDx Talk.  In 2000 Dr. Wahls was diagnosed with relapsing remitting MS. By 2003 it had transitioned to secondary progressive MS.  By 2007 Dr. Wahls spent most of her time in a reclining anti-gravity chair.  It was then that she discovered Functional Medicine, which directed her research to nutrition.  She redesigned her diet to accommodate the food and nutrients necessary for her brain and mitochondrial health. This particular diet was basically the Paleo Diet.

By 2008 she was not only walking again, but completed an 18 mile bike tour.

I share this video with you because, for those of you curious, she does a really good job of explaining some really important functions in the body (brain and mitochondria) which are relevant not only in her case with MS, but in so many other ailments our population is experiencing.  She also does a great job of explaining the importance of eating the right kinds of food in terms of our health.

For me, it meant (even if I don’t have MS), I certainly want to support my brain – especially as I get older.

This means eating lots of sulfur-rich vegetables like cabbage, broccoli, brussels sprouts, kale, onions, mushrooms, and garlic, to name a few.  It also means eating a lot of fruits and vegetables of various colors for antioxidants.  It also means eating foods higher in iodine and selenium, like seaweed.  The omega-3 fatty acids are extremely important for the brain and grass-fed hormone- and antibiotic-free meat is important as well.  The only food on her program I have a hard time with is the animal organ meat – I don’t have it in me to try that one yet.

Anyway, Dr. Wahls continues to hold clinical trials for researching the effects of the “Hunter-Gatherer” way of eating, and is publishing the positive results on health she is discovering.

Regardless of whether or not you feel this is the way for you to eat (everyone’s body is different), you can’t help but agree on moving away from processed foods and returning to whole, nutrient-dense foods.

It’s great that there is so much more information and research being performed today showing the connection between the food we eat and health.  We’re moving in the right direction!

Check out more about Dr. Wahls and her findings on MS at her website.