Creamy Rice Pudding

Here is a delicious, quick, and easy recipe to satisfy your sweet cravings using whole foods ingredients instead of sugar. Amylose and Amylopection are both starches, however, amylopectin is highly branched and therefore breaks down into glucose faster than amylose, which is a more linear structure. I chose long grain brown rice due to its higher content of amylose resulting in a slower glucose response.

In an earlier post, BPA and the consequences that result from it was mentioned, along with alternative ideas to avoid the chemical. Native Forest is a company that does not line their canned goods with BPA. You can also use Thai Kitchen coconut milk, but at this time their canned coconut milk still contains BPA in the liner.

Feel free to add additional spices including garam masala, ground cardamom, star anise, or a dash of nutmeg. I’m sure this would be delicious as well with a dash of raw cacao added after it’s done cooking for a heart healthy chocolate treat!

1/2 cup long grain brown rice (soaked overnight)
1-2 cups water
1/4 cup lite coconut milk (by Native Forest)
1/2 vanilla pod, seeds removed but reserve the pod
1 cinnamon stick
2 dates, pits removed
Ground cinnamon, for garnish

In a small pot or saucepan, add the rice, one cup water, coconut milk, the vanilla seeds and the pod, cinnamon stick, and dates and stir to combine. Over low to medium-low heat, simmer rice until soft and creamy, stirring occasionally. Add more water throughout cooking, if necessary. When ready, remove the cinnamon stick and vanilla pod. Serve in a small bowl and garnish with a dash of cinnamon. Enjoy!

Chocolate!!

Rich, creamy, smooth, velvety…how would you describe your favorite kind of chocolate? Does it have hints of raisins or cherries or is it infused with lavender, chilies, or ginger? Perhaps dark is your favorite with the rich, strong, cocoa taste or the creaminess of milk chocolate that just seems to melt in your mouth. There is something special about biting into a piece of chocolate and tasting all the special notes that it has to offer. I’ve tasted a variety of chocolate bars, and it always amazes me how different and unique each chocolate bar is depending upon where the chocolate is from (Guatemala, Madagascar, Peru, etc.)

As you take a bite of your next piece of chocolate, here’s something to think about…it’s good for the heart. Chocolate (specifically 70% or higher) has so many nutritional benefits. Chocolate is high in magnesium, chromium, iron, protein, and fiber, along with many antioxidants and flavonols. In various studies, it’s been shown to reduce blood pressure and blood clotting, and improve circulation.

When choosing chocolate, avoid varieties that contain high fructose corn syrup, partially hydrogenated oils, or any other additives. Soy lecithin may be added to some varieties to keep a smooth consistency to the chocolate, although some varieties do not use this ingredient leaving the chocolate with a bit more texture to it.

I’d love to hear about your favorite brand of chocolate and/or your favorite way of enjoying it. Do you enjoy it plain, just savoring it, or in a favorite recipe (creamy pudding, gooey brownies, truffles, etc).  Here’s a recipe that I really enjoy…

CHOCOLATE MOUSSE

Cooking: 10 minutes, plus 30 minutes to chill

Makes: 16 servings

  • 1 1/2 cups dark chocolate chips
  • 1 cup unsweetened soy milk or other milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 package of organic silken or firm tofu
  • ¼ cup brown rice syrup or sweetener of choice

Combine chocolate, milk, and vanilla extract in a small saucepan. Place on medium-low heat and stir until chocolate melts and turns shiny. Blend tofu in a food processor or blender until smooth. Next add melted chocolate and sweetener. Process until smooth.

Chill in refrigerator until set about 1 hour or more.

Recipe by Ami Karnosh, PCC Cooks Instructor. http://www.pccnaturalmarkets.com/pcc/recipes/chocolate-mousse.

Heart Healthy Foods

In continuing with the heart healthy theme, (February is American Heart Awareness Month), I’ve posted some great heart healthy foods. Remember small, everyday changes, along with simple and easy nutrition tidbits (see previous post), diet modifications, and exercise you can help reduce your risk of developing heart disease and its complications. 

Foods that are beneficial for heart health include:

  • Wild salmon, sardines, and other cold water, oily fish (omega 3 fats)
  • Fruits including apples, pears, berries, pomegranates, and citrus fruits
  • Vegetables such as broccoli, dark, green leafy vegetables, tomatoes, onions, garlic, squash (all varieties)
  • Raw nuts and seeds ~ almonds, pumpkin seeds, walnuts, and pistachios
  • Whole grains ~ brown rice, quinoa, buckwheat, amaranth, oat groats, & wild rice
  • Beans ~ full of fiber, protein, and complex carbohydrates
  • Dark chocolate ~ choose 70% or higher and enjoy in moderation

Here’s a great recipe that I enjoy all the time featuring heart healthy salmon from Natural Health Magazine. Mix up the ingredients as you choose…diced bell peppers would be great, I soaked arame and stirred that in, and I’ve also used dried Italian seasoning when I was all out of fresh herbs).

Wild Salmon Salad

Serves: 6

Ingredients:

  • 1 7.5-ounce can wild salmon
  • ¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon or lime juice
  • ¼ cup diced carrot
  • ¼ cup diced celery
  • 2 scallions, sliced into thin rings
  • 2 tablespoons minced herbs, such as basil, parsley or cilantro
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Using the back of a fork, mix the salmon well.

Add the lemon or lime juice, carrot, celery, scallions, and herbs; mix thoroughly. Season with salt and pepper.

Serve on a bed of greens, or use as a filling for a sandwich topped with sliced tomato, avocado, and sprouts.

Nutrition Facts

Per serving: 173 calories, 34% fat (7 g; 1.7 g saturated), 15% carbs (7 g), 51% protein (22 g), 2 g fiber, 262 mg calcium, 1.4 mg iron, 616 mg sodium.

Natural HealthMag.com. http://www.naturalhealthmag.com/healthy_eating/healthy_recipes/61.  2009 Weider Publications, LLC.

American Heart Awareness Month

February is American Heart Awareness Month. Did you know that heart disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S.? According to the Centers for Disease Control, about every 25 seconds an American will have a coronary event. Besides unmodifiable risk factors that cannot be changed such as age, hereditary, ethnicity, there are precautions you can take to help reduce your risk by altering lifestyle and dietary habits. For instance, certain diseases and conditions can put the heart at risk for a coronary event such as smoking (and second-hand smoke), being physically inactive, having high blood pressure and/or high cholesterol levels, along with being obese, and having an unhealthy diet.

A whole foods diet with brightly colored fruits, vegetables, healthy fats and oils, and whole grains supplies the body with adequate vitamins, minerals, and fiber for a healthy heart. High triglyceride and cholesterol levels can build up in the arteries, which can disrupt blood flow and lead to blockages. Soluble fiber found in fruits including pears, apples, and citrus fruits, along with oats and oat bran, barley, beans, and legumes has been shown to help lower cholesterol levels.

Besides soluble fiber, vitamins and minerals play an important part in keeping the heart healthy. A refined diet high in excess sugar, sodium, processed foods and preservatives can lead to excess inflammation throughout the body, which suppresses the immune system. Leafy greens such as spinach, Swiss chard, kale and collard greens are high in calcium, magnesium, vitamins A, C, and K, which are full of antioxidants and nutrients to help reduce inflammation and improve health.

Lastly, healthy fats, whole grains, and lean protein choices help lead the way to a healthy heart. When choosing fats and oils, avoid “hydrogenation or partially hydrogenated” from the ingredient list, as these have been shown to clog up the arteries. These hydrogenated fats may also be listed on the ingredient label as trans fat, which may be found in margarines, shortenings, or packaged crackers and baked goods. Instead choose olive or canola oil or plant-based margarines that are trans-fat free. In addition, opt for lean protein sources that are low in saturated fat and high in protein such as beans or legumes. When purchasing animal protein sources, look for skinless poultry, lean red meat, or fish. Begin to incorporate whole grains such as quinoa, wild rice, barley, or steel cut oats over refined white flour products.

And remember, small modifications have a big impact over time leading to a healthier heart!

In Summary, Healthy Lifestyle Change Tips/Reminders

  • Choose lean cuts of poultry or meat w/o the skin
  • Avoid partially hydrogenated oils/trans fat
  • Choose low-fat dairy products
  • Aim for less than 300 mg of cholesterol a day
  • Choose foods lower in salt/sodium
  • Cut back on added sugars found in food and beverages
  • Drink alcohol in moderation
    (no more than two drinks for men and one for women)
  • Pay attention to portion sizes