Zesty Zoodles

 

Zoodles are an easy, low-carb,  and nutritious alternative to regular refined pasta  that’s  frequently consumed as part of the Standard American Diet (SAD). When making the transition  to a whole food based diet, pasta is often missed by carb lovers everywhere.  Zoodles however, allow you to still enjoy your favorite pasta based dishes without having to sacrifice taste and ease of cooking! All you need is a Spiralizer and the possibilities are endless!

 

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Shrimp “Bolonasge” Topped with Almond Cheese

shrimp

Spaghetti with ‘Paleo’ Homemade Turkey Meatballs

turkey-meatballs

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7 Health Benefits of Avocado

7 Health Benefits of Avocados 

Avocados have grown in popularity in past decade and with good reason. These green, creamy, delicious fruits make a great addition to almost any food or dish. Not only are avocados incredibly versatile, but they are loaded with an array of nutrients to help support your health!

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1. Good Source Fiber. Avocados are about 7% fiber by weight. Most people don’t come near meeting the recommended daily intake for fiber.  Avocados contain both soluble and insoluble fiber to support digestion and health. Eating 1/2 of a medium sized avocado provides 5 grams of fiber!

2. Rich in Monounsaturated Fat. Monounsaturated fatty acids offer valuable health benefits including  lowering “bad” cholesterol and reducing risk of heart disease and metabolic syndrome. Just a single 1 oz serving of an avocado provides about 3 grams of this healthy fat while a whole avocado has nearly 15 grams!

3. Great Source of Potassium. Potassium is a critical mineral that the body needs to function normally. It’s especially important to help the heart, kidneys and other organs work. Did you know an avocado provides more potassium than a banana? Just one half of an avocado provides approximately 345 mg of potassium.

4. Fight Inflammation. Avocados contain various antioxidants including carotenoids, Vitamin E and Vitamin C as well as anti-inflammatory compounds such as catechins and procyanidins. Catechines can increase plasma antioxidant activity and also help prevent oxidation. 

5. Support Eye Health. Avocados are a good source of the two carotenoidslutein and zeaxanthin which are important carotenoids found in the eye. Eating fruits and vegetables rich in these two compounds can help reduce risk of developing mascular degeneration. One half of an avocado contains about 185 mcg of lutein and zeaxanthin

6. Support Healthy Blood Pressure and Cholesterol. In addition to being a good source of potassium which supports healthy blood pressure in the body, magnesium and antioxidants in avocados can help dilate blood vessels. Furthermore, those who consume avocados regularly have higher HDL cholesterol (the good stuff) and lower LDL and triglyceride levels. 

7. Increases Absorption of Carotenoid-Rich Foods. Carotenoid-rich foods such as carrots and spinach are better absorbed with some healthy fat. Because avocados naturally contain healthy fat, not only is the absorption of beta-carotene increased, the conversion to it’s active form, Vitamin A, is also increased. Try adding avocado to your salad to increase the bioavailability of the nutrients found in the dark leafy greens and other vegetables!

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7 Ways to Incorporate Avocado Into Your Diet

  1.  Slice and top on a salad (the healthy fat will help absorb all of these good nutrients in the veggies)
  2.  Use as a spread on a sandwich in place of mayonnaise.
  3. Add ripe avocado to a breakfast smoothie. 
  4. Slice and drizzle with olive oil, and a small dash of salt and pepper
  5. Blend with olive oil and herbs to create a creamy pasta sauce.
  6. Combine with a ripe banana and cocoa powder to create a creamy chocolate pudding.
  7. Make a refreshing avocado sorbet

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Real Food Yogurt

If you can tolerate dairy, then yogurt is a great food to include in your diet as it’s one of the few dietary sources of probiotics. Food manufactures however, have ruined yogurt by adding a ton of artificial ingredients to them. You may think of your yogurt as a healthy snack, but unfortunately that just may not be the case. Most of the yogurts filling the shelves in grocery stores are very processed with added artificial dyes (i.e Red #40), artificial sweeteners, other additives, and a lot of SUGAR. Yuck. This sugar is not to be confused with the natural sugar in yogurt and all dairy. All yogurt contains naturally occurring sugar called lactose. The average plain Greek yogurt will have about 5-6 grams of this naturally occurring sugar while plain regular yogurt will have around 8-11 grams. Anything above this number is most likely added sugar!

Yoplait: This popular yogurt contains 26 grams of sugar! The ingredient list includes added sugar, modified corn starch, and tricalcium phosphate (prevents caking and increases calcium content).

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Stay clear of yogurt with added thickeners such as carrageenan, guar gum and modified corn starch. In addition, watch out for artificial sweeteners like aspartame. These are typically added to low-fat, fat-free, and sugar-free options to enhance taste. (I’d go for a full-fat yogurt if you can find one). Any sort of food dye should simply be avoided. Even vanilla flavored yogurt may seem like a safe choice but vanilla flavoring can easily add an additional 10 grams of sugar. As far as Greek yogurt, it doesn’t always equal “healthy.” Many Greek yogurts are also guilty of containing a lot of added sugar and other fake food additives. Greek yogurt does have a higher protein content because it is strained to remove the whey. A standard 6 oz Greek yogurt contains between 15-20 grams of protein.

So what kind of yogurt is best? REAL yogurt of course. Yogurt should only contain TWO ingredients: milk and live active cultures. Both Greek and regular yogurt are fine, whichever you prefer. I always recommend going for an organic plain yogurt or 100% grass-fed yogurt.

Choboni has a natural Plain Greek yogurt out. Ingredients: Cultured Pasteurized Nonfat Milk, Cream, Live and Active Cultures: S. Thermophilus, L. Bulgaricus, L. Acidophilus, Bifidus and L. Case

One of my favorite grass-fed yogurts by Maple Hill Creamery

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Like flavor?

It’s always best to opt for plain yogurt and flavor it yourself. If you like vanilla, try adding a teaspoon or two of pure vanilla extract. If you like fruit flavored yogurt, it’s always better to buy plain yogurt and add your own fruit! Raspberry flavored yogurt for example, puree fresh or frozen raspberries and stir into plain yogurt. It will not only be better for you but taste better too! I like to stir cinnamon into my plain yogurt. Cinnamon has anti-inflammatory properties and is also a blood sugar moderator. I also like to add chopped nuts to add a little more healthy fat and protein. Nuts are a better alternative to sugary granola if you like a crunch. Unless you make your own homemade granola 🙂 You can also try stirring in some organic almond butter or natural peanut butter.

Sometimes I also like to mix in some ground flax or chia seeds to boost nutrition and add fiber and omega-3s. There’s so many real food options!

What my yogurt looks like!

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Get creative and enjoy!