Fuel 2 Live

Fuel your belly. Fuel your soul.

Month: February 2013

Keep away vampires and cancer!!

You know the myth, garlic wards off vampires (Sorry Twilight Fans), well it also wards off germs and cancer. Now you might not believe in vampire but the germs and cancer part is for sure real! Yes, you will need to carry mints after eating garlic, but it is a great herb to add to your dishes.

Garlic is part of the onion family. When you purchase garlic you are buying it by the bulb. When dishes call for cloves of garlic they are referring to the little sections on the inside. Garlic has antiviral, antibacterial, anti-fungal properties and has been used to treat bacteria, virus, fungi and yeast skin conditions. It has been used lately as a supplement that helps enhance your immune system and overall health.

Garlic contains a sulfur compound name allicin, which is where it’s distinctive odor and flavor  comes from. When you chop or chew garlic it produces this chemical. Allicin is a powerful antibiotic and greatly helps prevent the ability of germs to grow and reproduce. Having high levels of Vitamin C, it is well know to help promote a healthy immune system.

Garlic is one of the most popular foods to eat to help prevent cancer. Scientists think that because garlic boosts the production hydrogen sulfide that it is extremely successful at fighting off a variety of cancers. Hydrogen sulfide occurs both naturally and from human-made processes.  Hydrogen sulfide is produced during the digestion of food containing vegetable or animal proteins.There are numerous studies on the effect garlic has on cancer. You should check out the National Cancer Institute to find more info.

So not only is garlic awesome at helping you stay healthy but it is very delicious. I joke by saying I add garlic to everything, which is only partial a joke. I really do add garlic to just about every dish. I always add more garlic than is asked for in a recipe, but do be careful, it can make a dish taste spicy. If you want a subtle garlic taste, add the garlic at the start of cooking. If you want a stronger garlic flavor, add the garlic right at the end of cooking. If you are anything like me and really love the taste of garlic, add some in the beginning and end.

garlic

I also have this nifty little garlic chopper that has wheels on it to make the job of chopping easy. If you have children that like to help out in the kitchen I highly recommend it. My kids love to roll it all over the countertops!

Sweet Potatoes and CHOCOLATE!!!

Whaaaaat!!!!??? I know what you are thinking, I must be insane and there is no way that is healthy, but I got a sweet potato recipe for you that is beyond delish! It is a pretty healthy dish as well.

Sweet potatoes are a good source of Dietary Fiber, Vitamin B6, and Potassium. They are a very good source of Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Manganese, and Beta-carotene. The high levels of Vitamin A and Beta-carotene make them a superfood for your skin. Some skin care ingredients like retinol are actually derived from Vitamin A and Beta-carotene combats free radicals (organic molecules responsible for aging, tissue damage, and possibly some diseases). Plus they are low in Sodium and very low in Saturated Fat and Cholesterol. Best of all they have a low glycemic index which means they are popular among diabetics and those who need to monitor their blood sugar levels. Sweet potatoes have a glycemic load of only 17 compared to a white potato, which has an index of 29. Oh, and by the way, a medium size sweet potato has just over 100 calories.

So what about the chocolate? It can’t be healthy, right? Well if you where melting a Hershey’s bar over your baked sweet potato then I will have to go with no, it can’t be healthy. But I’m talking about organic unsweetened cocoa powder. It’s gives you just enough chocolate flavor without all the sugar and fat. Cocoa powder is a great antioxidant that protects the body from cellular damage that free radicals cause.

In this recipe I also add cinnamon, which is a wonderful spice all in itself. Cinnamon can help regulate blood sugar levels and can help reduce LDL cholesterol levels. Cinnamon is a natural food preservative because it inhibits bacterial growth and food spoilage when added to foods. Cinnamon is not just for baking cookies and apple pies. It can work in many sweet and savory dishes.

Well here is the recipe for my baked sweet potato and chocolate.

I apologize in advance to those of you who have to have exact measurements for ingredients but I kind of came up with this on my own and it was all by taste. But don’t be deterred, play around with it and make it your own. Start with a little seasoning and after tasting it, if you feel like it needs more, add it.

I first pre heat my oven at 400 degrees. I take a baking sheet and line it with foil (great for the clean up). Bake the sweet potato until tender, about 45mins or so.  I slit open the potato and top with a little Earth Balance Soy Free natural buttery spread, or drizzle on a little EVOO.  I sprinkle a little bit of organic cocoa powder, cinnamon and a dash of salt. I sometimes go crazy with it and add just a little cayenne pepper too. The little touch of heat plays nicely with the sweetness of the potato.  And it’s as simple as that.

If you enjoy this recipe please comment. Plus add any changes you have made to make it your own. I am always open to new ways of eating sweet potatoes!

It says “NATURAL” it must be healthy!

Not!!! The term “natural” isn’t truly regulated unless you are talking about poultry and meat.  In such case, poultry and meat cannot contain artificial flavors, colors, preservatives, and must have minimal processing. Saying that it is “natural” does not indicate how the animal was raised, fed or taken care of. When talking about other food products, the term “natural” can be used if the food does not contain added color, artificial flavors, or synthetic substances. But this in itself can be tricky and misleading.

“Natural” foods could contain processed sweeteners, genetically modified plants, and additives and preservatives like sodium benzoate. Sodium Benzoate is a sodium salt that occurs naturally in some foods at low levels but when mixed with ascorbic acid, or vitamin C, the preservative converts to benzene, a known carcinogen. A carcinogen is a substance that is capable of causing cancer in humans or animal.  Some “natural” foods include soy or corn, which are some of the most commonly genetically modified crops we know of.

“Natural” foods can also contain “natural flavors and colors.” This term is often used for flavors and colors derived from natural sources, but which are often processed in a lab like artificial flavors. And what about the ingredient cellulose? I’m sure you have read that on the back of some of your “natural” foods. Well cellulose is molecule found in the cellular structure of virtually all plant matter. Sounds ok, right? Well when it comes to your “natural”  granola bars and cereals, cellulose is added to up the fiber content and is made from nontoxic wood pulp or cotton. Gross, right?! After all wood and cotton are “natural.” Well so are lead and arsenic.

Just remember “natural” doesn’t always mean better or healthier. It is a term that is greatly abused and misused as a marketing tool. Food companies know that consumers are becoming more health conscious and that they need to change their packaging to become more appealing. The truth is the potato chips you bought five years ago are the same one you are buying now; they are just in a fancy bag with the word “natural” on them. And they have not suddenly become healthy!

Want to eat healthy? Read the fine print, do some research, and educate yourself.

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