Tiffany's Treasures

My collection of little gems to love and share!

Top 10 Health Foods of 2013

on June 3, 2013

Healthy eating has become a huge trend sweeping the nation as people start to pay more attention to what they are putting in their bodies. Fad-Dieting and Crash-Dieting have shown some promising results, but they almost never seem to last, unless you continue with the diet program… which we all know is next to impossible! As someone who loves to experiment with food, I was eager to investigate some of the more promising Health Food Trends. I was surprised to find that most of these foods are not only great for your body… but they are not to bad on your taste buds either! I found that many of these foods can be easily incorporated into your everyday cooking and some can even be tossed into foods that we eat on the go. I have compiled a list of my favorite finds… My food treasures…if you will.

chia-seeds

Chia Seeds

Chia seeds are one of my new favorite finds. Many of you are probably picturing a little clay head that you spread water-soaked seeds onto to make them grow hair… Ch-Ch-Ch- CHIA!  You are absolutely right! They are the exactly the same, minus whatever chemicals those companies add to preserve the seeds for longer periods of time. And they do a whole lot more than just providing a new doo for your Window-Sill Pet!

Unlike flax seeds, chia seeds don’t have to be grinded in order to be absorbed into your body. (That’s right flax lover’s, you were supposed to be grinding them) They also don’t spoil as fast, making them much more convenient to take on the go. They taste kind of nutty, and mild. And here’s something pretty neat- chia seeds are hydrophilic, meaning that they expand and hold up to 10x their weight in water. You can see this immediately when you sprinkle them in yogurt, as they will take on a sort of “jelly” layer around the actual seed. You can also just simply sprinkle them in plain water or fruit juice to make a sort of Chia Jello Shot! Because of this interesting quality, chia seeds are believed to coat the stomach to help absorb less calories.

If chia seeds aren’t on your grocery list yet, keep reading…. here are some other health benefits I dug up on these treasures!

  • Contains Omega 3 fatty acid, and antioxidants- 5 grams in 2 tablespoons
  • Also contains 2 grams of Fiber, 4 grams of Protein, and 205 milligrams of Calcium… all in just 2 tablespoons!
  • Has also been proven to reduce inflammation
  • And if that’s not enough, it also fights aging!

You can buy chia seeds in their natural form from any health food store such as Whole Foods, but I am also seeing them pop-up in mainstream groceries as well. Here is a link for 10 recipes showcasing these little gems:  http://www.shape.com/healthy-eating/meal-ideas/quick-and-easy-chia-seed-recipes

Coconut Flour

I love coconut…… the water, the meat, the flavor. I love coconut in my coffee and of course in my desserts! So I was excited to see coconut taking on another form, creating more ways to incorporate this delicious food into my every-day diet. And who would of thought that this tropical treat packed a huge health punch as well?  The new coconut craze is Coconut Flour! A very fine, light, slightly scented, slightly sweet- flour, capable of being incorporated into all things savory and sweet.

Coconut flour is gluten-free, which is another plus, and it can be substituted in most wheat-based recipes by 10-30%. You can also substitute for flour 100% in things such as muffins and quickbreads. It contains natural sugar, so it is slightly sweet,so make sure that you reduce the amount of sugar in your recipes by about 10% when using coconut flour. In milder recipes, the coconut taste can be slightly noticed, but in recipes where flavors are a little more pronounced you wont even notice the coconut flavor. Coconut flour is high in dietary fiber and protein as well. You can even dissolve a few spoonfulls in a glass of water for a high fiber drink! Use coconut flour to thicken soups and sauces, or just sprinkle on top of desserts to enjoy a slight coconut essence.

I expect coconut flour to really take off , especially in dessert baking. With everyone shying away from processed sugars, bakers will enjoy a natural sweetness that coconut flour provides. If you would like to try some coconut recipes click the link below. If you have any you would like to share, please comment or message me so I can give you full credit!

Coconut Flour Recipes-  http://pinterest.com/coconutrecipes/coconut-flour-recipes/

Chic Peas

I was researching these little cakes that I had called “Cinque e’ cinque” , which were basically little chic pea cake pattys. There were so versatile and tasty, I was leery of their health content. Boy was I wrong! They are in fact very healthy, which lead to me to dive into their main ingredient…Chic Peas! Chic peas aren’t a new food, as they have been featured in many international foods, such as Indian. And I am sure that you have seen them on most decent salad bars. They are small, roundish,  and tan. They are mild in flavor – and slightly nutty. They can be eaten out of the can, but they are much better freshly boiled. You can also sauté them in many different dishes or just roast them and eat as a snack. One of the most noted dishes made from chic peas is Hummus. Hummus has become increasingly popular and while you can now find a mouth-watering array of flavors at your local grocer, it is also pretty easy to make. Chic peas tend to showcase other flavors extremely well… making Hummus options pretty much endless! And another plus? They’re pretty cheap! So you can improve your daily diet without a noticeable increase in your grocery bill.

Chic peas contain Phytoestrogens, which are plant versions of the natural hormone Oestrogen. When eaten regularly as part of your normal diet, chic peas may assist the body’s own production of this hormone. This can lower your risk of Breast Cancer. Chic peas also help protect against osteoporosis, and they have also been found to reduce hot flashes – common in post-menopausal women. Of course freshly boiled Chic Peas are higher in vitamins and minerals, but the ones found in cans are still healthy. Both are a source of fiber, helping to lover cholesterol  and help with digestion. And here’s a really cool little tidbit- 3 tablespoons of boiled Chic Peas = your daily recommendation of 5 servings of fruit and veggies! How’s that for healthy?

The Chic Pea cakes that I referred to at the start are a must try. They are also sometimes called Faranitas, and they consist of chic pea flower and rosemary. It’s a lot like eating dried hummus and the topping choices are endless! Top these cakes with chopped tomatoes, balsamic vinegar and some olive tapenade… and you’ve got yourself a snack treasure fit for a Queen! I have listed links below for both Chic Pea Recipes and the Chic pea cakes I love, Cinque e’ Cinque. Don’t forget to let me know what you think!

Chic Pea Recipes – http://www.eatingwell.com/recipes_menus/recipe_slideshows/easy_chickpea_recipes

Cinque e’ Cinque – http://www.lucini.com/shop/cinque-e-cinque

Coca Nibs

Coca Nibs are the “essence” of Chocolate…. need I say anymore?  They are made by roasting cocoa beans and breaking them into small bits. That’s it! No added sugar, no added preservatives….nothing but the pure…nutty…sultry…essence of chocolate.  A very long time ago Mexicans actually used cocoa beans as currency, apparently they knew the true worth of these little treasures way before we caught on! They can add some crunch to many dishes already present in your diet- such as salads, yogurts, and cereals. Making them a pretty convenient way to get some benefits without much effort. You might even be able to slip these into your children’s diet, after all- it’s never too early to start eating healthy!

Coca Nibs are one of the BEST dietary sources of Magnesium (272 milligrams per 100 grams) as well as a good source of Calcium, Iron, Copper, Zinc and Potassium. Magnesium is a mineral that people are usually deficient in, in fact, about 80% of Americans were found to be well below their daily recommended intake. Magnesium is important to nerve and muscle function, as well as bone strength and circulation. It’s also a mineral that is not naturally produced in the body, so it must be attained through food intake or supplements. Coca nibs have a lot of other impressive benefits as well.

  • Extremely high levels of Vitamin C and Antioxidants. More antioxidants then blueberries, red wine and green tea!
  • They contain Theobromine- a central nervous system stimulator, similar to caffeine- such to give you an energy boost.
  • Help with Mood elevation. Nibs contain Tryptophan- an amino acid required or production of Serotonin. Reduces anxiety and releases endorphins-the body’s natural opiate. Also contains Anandamide- known as the “bliss” chemical.
  • Assists with Appetite control because of their Chromium content. Chromium is a mineral that stabilizes blood sugar and reduces appetite.
  • Flavonoids can also be found in Coca Nibs- an antioxidant that plays a role in Circulation, reduces the risk of blood clots, heart attack and stroke.

So the fact that people become “Choca-holics” might actually have some scientific credentials! And with all these healthy benefits… I think I found my new addiction! I have some ways you can play with Coca Nibs listed in the link below, but you can experiment with them on your own…or let your kids find new ways to enjoy them. They think they’re eating chocolate- while you know they’re eating healthy. Gold star for you!

Healthy Coca Nibs Recipes- http://www.yummly.com/recipes/cacao-nibs-healthy

Maca

Maca (a.k.a. “lepidium meyenii”

This is an interesting one that I am pretty sure most of you have never heard of. Maca is derived from a herbaceous plant that grow high on the plateaus of the Ande’s Mountains in Peru. It is a root vegetable, a relative of the radish and turnip, but having a stronger taste and smelling of butterscotch. It is known to locals at “Peruvian Ginseng” and has been used for centuries by the Peruvians for its crazy healing powers!

Now that it’s becoming more known in the U.S., you can find it in a supplement form as well as an ingredient. Maca can be found in pill, liquid, powder and root form. It has been used for ages to make medicine to treat various ailments such as Anemia and Chronic Fatigue. Other uses include:

  • Used by athletes to increase energy
  • Promotes sexual function for both males and females. Boosts Libido, balances Hormones, increases fertility and maximizes endurance.
  • Relieves Menstrual issues and Menopausal symptoms. Alleviates cramps, body pain, hot flashes and anxiety. DO NOT TAKE WHILE PREGNANT OR BREAST FEEDING
  • Contributes to skin health- clearing acne and blemishes, and decreasing sensitivity to severe weather conditions.
  • Also fount to lessen stress, anxiety, depression and mood swings. Some have even reported an increase in mental energy and focus.

When using Maca as an ingredient, you can cook the root to add it to soups for an interesting flavor boost. You can also grind it into powder (or buy it in powder-form) and use it to bake bread. You can also reap the benefits by adding Maca to smoothies, yogurt, salad, drinks and cooked food. I found some pretty cool recipes for using Maca….so go ahead an experiment, and share your new find with friends!

When using Maca as a supplement, as always discuss it with your doctor first.

Maca Recipes- http://pinterest.com/JoshAmyJordan/maca-recipes/

Amaranth

Amaranth is also one of my new favorite foods, being one that is easily combinable with many different flavors and textures. I love experimenting with what I call “empty slate” ingredients, able to be paired with almost anything while still holding it’s own. And I would definitely consider Amaranth to be one of those foods.

A genus of herbs that contain over 60 species, Amaranth exists in a variety of colors and uses. Although you will be surprised to know that most of them are weeds, extremely un-appetizing! People from countries all over the world consume Amaranth in different forms. Some use Amaranth grains, while others use the veggies and cereals. In America, we are familiar with Quinoa and Buckwheat…all part of the same family! In Mexico they actually pop the seeds to make a sweet-sugary treat known as “Alegria”, while Peruvians ferment the Amaranth to make a type of beer beverage.

Amaranth is chock full of vitamins, including A, B6, K, C, folate and riboflavin. It also contains a lot of minerals important to our health, calcium, potassium, iron, copper and magnesium. Amaranth has a large amount of protein, almost 30% more than wheat flower, rice and oats. It is also gluten-free! This new health-friendly food helps with Hypertension and Cardiovascular disease, while it also strengthens your immune system. It has even been said to help with premature graying of hair!

You have to experiment a little bit with Amaranth, but don’t be afraid…it’s actually pretty kitchen friendly! It can be boiled, steamed or included in stir-fry and soups to name a few. If you are interested in trying this super-food check out the link below, and don’t forget to tell me your thoughts!

Amaranth Recipes – http://www.yummly.com/recipes/amaranth-grain

Seaweed

I know what your thinking… Seaweed isn’t new, I eat it with sushi all the time! And you’re right, Seaweed has been around for centuries. But if your anything like me, your Seaweed experience just about ends at sushi….well except for the Seaweed Salad they serve with the sushi! As you can probably guess, other countries have been using Seaweed for a very long time, and maybe they knew something we didn’t, because Seaweed has been making a big time appearance in many other areas other than sushi. And it’s a good thing, because the health benefits of Seaweed are undeniable, which is why I couldn’t make this list without adding it to the mix. Some of the more popular edible Seaweeds include Green Kumba, Black Hijiki, and Red Dulse. Other than sushi, Seaweed has made it’s mark in side dishes, soups, salads, appetizers and even desserts!

Seaweed has the vitamins A, C, calcium, iodine and magnesium… this is because every one of these minerals is concentrated in sea water… duh!

With 5-10 calories per serving and virtually NO FAT, I call it a “freebie” food, helping control weight by leaving you actually feeling full. Seaweed also aids in Digestion, it’s high in soluble fiber- soaking up water in the intestines creating movement in the bowels. Seaweed is also being experimented with as a salt-substitute. Eventually, Seaweed granules could replace sodium in some of our better-known snack foods. Dishes with Seaweed in them won’t need a lot of added salt, and lowering salt intake reduces high blood pressure.

Seaweed extracts may also have anti-cancer properties, but this theory has not been tested on humans yet. Still, knowing how Seaweed has so many healthy qualities really makes you appreciate “Sushi-Sunday” with your girlfriends. But don’t stop there, try adding Seaweed to your diet in other ways. You may be surprised at how versatile and tasty it actually is.

Seaweed Recipes – http://www.101cookbooks.com/ingredient/seaweed

Rooibos Tea

Tea is such a huge part of my life! I am also a coffee fanatic… but coffee is loaded with caffeine, then you add flavored creamer and sugar, and you have a high calorie cocktail good for a late morning crash! So I try and drink tea as often as possible, plus it’s tasty and it comes in so many varieties that even the pickiest person could find a tea that suits their style. Rooibos Tea is one of my recent favorites, and honestly the only reason I started to drink it is because they were giving free samples of a Chai Rooibos at Teavana (Free Plug) and I liked it so much I bought a few ounces. Afterwards I started noticing it popping up on shelves within popular brands such a Lipton, so it became a regular statement in my kitchen. When I was researching for my Top Ten’s, I learned a whole lot about this tea that I never knew… and I am actually sipping on some as I type this post!

Rooibos Tea is naturally sweet and nutty. It’s one of those tea’s that is fabulous all by itself, needing no sugar or sweetener to compliment the taste. It is also referred to as ” South African Red Bush Tea”, but I have also seen it labeled as “African Red” Tea and just plain “Red Tea”. It’s caffeine free, which explains why I am sipping it after 6pm, and I often use it as one of my “wind-down” teas. It can be mixed with an almost never-ending array of flavors and other teas, making it one of the most versatile healthy teas on the market.

Health-wise it contains Antioxidants, always a good thing. It has been proved to be great for cardiovascular issues and liver disease. Rooibos is also a Bronchodilator, helping with respiratory problems as well. It also lowers blood pressure, which is probably why after a long day of chasing a 1 year old around, I like to have a hot cup to calm down before bedtime. And if that wasn’t healthy enough, studies have recently shown that Rooibos may suppress HIV induced cytopathicity, while also reducing brain aging.

My advice is to go to your local loose-tea supplier (I love Teavana) and ask an expert about this Healthy Tea. They will be able to provide you with all the information, along with the best combinations and flavors to try. Below is the link to Teavana. I was also thinking that maybe I will try and review some teas on here shortly, since there are so many out there to choose from.

Teavana – http://www.teavana.com/

Stone Ground Mustard

I figured I would throw a condiment in here as well. But then again, Mustard can be sooo much more than a simple condiment on your burger! Stone Ground Mustard is one of my all time favorite condiments, and it’s another one that is WAY under-rated and under-utilized. I would recommend “Organic” Stone Ground Mustard” in order to reap all the health benefits of this zesty spread. The ingredients are simple: Water, Vinegar, Mustard Seeds, and salt. One tablespoon has only 5 calories, much less than it’s thick white counterpart, Mayo. Mustard seeds are a member of the Cruciferous plant family… which interestingly enough, also contains broccoli and cabbage! Who would of thought?

Mustard seeds are rich in Antioxidants linked to cancer prevention as well as Anti-inflammatories.

I believe this condiment is highly over-looked. Although you can spread it on a ham and cheese and call it a day… there are so many more palatable possibilities! Try whisking some in with olive oil and a bit of lemon juice for a healthy salad dressing or marinade. Or… if your kids are fans of honey-mustard, instead of using that pale yellow slime that comes pre-packages with tons of preservatives and god knows what else…. try mixing up your own! It’s a really fun way to get your kids involved and eating healthy at the same time. Of course, you can always go au-natural…. and dip chunks of mozzarella cheese right into the Mustard, like I do… you can feel the little spicy seeds popping in your mouth! MMMMmmmm….

The possibilities are endless…. so try it out, and leave me some comments. I’m curious to know how you use this healthy condiment!

Stone Ground Mustard Recipes-http://www.mustardgirl.com/recipe_stoneground.htm

Hemp Seeds

Last but not least, the Hemp Seed. A flavorful little treasure-trove of health! Hemp Seed are natures HIGHEST botanical source of essential fatty acids… pretty cool huh? And no, this is not the kind you can plant and smoke! It is in the same family, but the kind sold to ingest as a health-food have no THC. You will not fail a drug test, and some companies even offer a written guarantee that if consumed, you are 100% safe from testing positive for THC.

Now that all of the stoners that searched “Healthy Hemp” are leaving the post… we can continue with the benefits of this super-food. Hemp Seeds are high in protein, and include 20 amino acids including the “9 essentials”. They also contain fatty acids, fiber and Vitamin E. Hemp Seeds are highly digestible, making consumption and evacuation a little easier. They are also a rich source of Phytonutrients, the disease-protective element of plants, with benefits of protecting immunity, bloodstream, tissues, cells and organs. Hemp Seeds have been used many times to treat nutritional deficiency diseases often brought on by Tuberculosis. Other benefits include:

  • Heart Health- Hemp seeds are shown to have anti-inflammatories that improve circulation. Also lowers blood pressure. Many elderly persons with failing health turn to hemp seeds, and within 3 months report a significant change in cholesterol and blood pressure.
  • There are no known allergies to hemp seeds, and they also benefit those who are unable to eat gluten, lactose, sugar, fish, nuts, and other common foods.
  • Those who regularly ingest hemp seeds during their breakfast routine report no hunger cravings until lunch time, by which time you can choose to eat more fruits and veggies, knowing by eating hemp seeds, you have already met your daily requirements for proteins and other essential nutrients.
  • Consumers of hemp seeds also report increased energy and focus, and less stress.

I really enjoy Hemp Seeds, and I am just now experimenting with putting them into a lot of my dishes. My favorites include simple dishes that showcase the Hemp’s flavor, such as the blackberries I have pictured above. You can’t really see it, but I have some low fat Greek Yogurt underneath the berries, drizzled with a little Agave Nectar. How’s that for hitting the Jackpot! I also add them to Milkshakes, Health Bars, Yogurt Parg They taste slightly like pine-nuts- another one of my favorites, but without the hefty price tag and adding a lot more nutrients. So give hemp a try… The healthy way!! Please share any recipes you may have tried….I am always eager to add to my collection.

http://pinterest.com/hippiebutter/hemp-seed-recipes/

In Closing….

I hope my little list inspires you to add some of my Healthy Treasures to your daily diet. Your taste buds will enjoy the variety and your body will thank you for it! If there are any foods that you are absolutely in love with, and wish to share with me your experience and recipes, I would love to hear them! I am always on the lookout for up and coming food trends… so stay tuned to see what else I can dig up for your dining delight!

– Tiffany

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One response to “Top 10 Health Foods of 2013

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