5 ways to add more nutrients to your lifestyle
(Family Features) A nutritious diet is crucial for overall health and well-being. While it’s OK to indulge from time to time, it’s important to make sure you’re providing your body with appropriate nourishment.
There are many ways to help you add more of the essential nutrients you need into everyday meals, including these nutritious ideas from CocoaVia.
Sneak in More Fruits and Vegetables.
You can bulk up the nutritional value of nearly any meal by incorporating fruits or vegetables directly into your recipes. Pureeing veggies is a good way to disguise textures or flavors you might typically avoid. For example, celery is a natural flavor enhancer for many types of broth soup. Adding finely pureed celery to the stock will add the flavor without the crunchy bits. You can also slip vegetables like spinach or carrots into smoothies, and depending on the base and fruit, you may never even taste them. Fresh, canned or frozen, fruit can give a boost of nutrition to dishes like oatmeal or pudding. You can also use purees (think applesauce) as a low-fat substitute for eggs and oil in baked goods like cake.
Fresh fruits and vegetables provide a wealth of essential vitamins and nutrients, but you may be surprised that their frozen counterparts do the same. Frozen foods are often perceived as less nutritious, but they can contain just as many nutrients as fresh produce. In fact, since freezing often involves picking the food at its peak and then quickly freezing it, freezing can actually help retain vitamins more efficiently than refrigeration or canning; frozen vegetables can actually hold on to nutrients longer than fresh produce and are a great alternative when seasonal fruits and vegetables are unavailable. In many cases, frozen veggies also make it easy to experiment with better-for-you meals because the cleaning and prep work is already done. You can try adding them to soups, stir-fries, casseroles and even pasta dishes.
If you’ve historically shied away from cooked vegetables, you may find that proper preparation is the secret ingredient. Not only does overcooking veggies deplete their flavor, in most cases it also diminishes their nutritional value. Cook veggies lightly and quickly using methods like stir-frying or steaming to help retain water-soluble nutrients like vitamins B and C.
You may think of dishes covered in rich gravy or sauce as unhealthy, and in some cases, you would be right. However, it’s actually quite possible to create saucy dishes that taste terrific. Both tomato sauce and pesto add nutrients and can top pretty much anything, from pastas to grilled chicken. Tomato sauce contains lycopene, a bright plant pigment known as a carotenoid that has been linked to a range of health benefits. Pesto is traditionally made with healthy pine nuts and basil, but you can also get creative and prepare this light sauce alternative with options such as arugula, spinach and heart-healthy walnuts or pecans.
Consider Cocoa Flavanols.
Another option to consider adding to your diet is cocoa flavanols. These plant-based phytonutrients are found naturally in cocoa, and research supports that these flavanols work within your body to help maintain healthy blood flow. While chocolate, including dark chocolate and natural (non-alkalized) cocoa powder, can be sources of cocoa flavanols, they are often not a reliable source of cocoa flavanols. The way cocoa is handled matters in the retention of these phytonutrients. However, one easy way to add cocoa flavanols to your routine is by incorporating a daily cocoa extract supplement, such as CocoaVia, which contains the highest concentration available in a cocoa extract supplement today. The supplement can be added to the food or beverage of your choice, like a Chocolate-Chai Smoothie or coffee. Visit CocoaVia.com for more information about cocoa flavanols and ideas for adding them to your diet.
The Truth About Chocolate
While there are many misconceptions about chocolate, especially when it comes to its health benefits, these facts from the experts at CocoaVia set the record straight on some of the most common chocolate myths.
- Chocolate contains powerful antioxidants.
Chocolate, particularly dark chocolate, does contain cocoa flavanols, phytonutrients which numerous scientific studies have demonstrated have a positive impact on health. However, cocoa flavanols are not antioxidants. While not antioxidants, cocoa flavanols have been shown to have positive effects on health that are linked to their ability to support the health and function of your blood vessels.
- Chocolate is good for your heart.
Chocolate can be part of a healthy diet, but it is not a health food. Even if chocolate is high in cocoa flavanols, the calories, fat and sugar leave it best-suited as an occasional indulgence.
- Chocolate containing 70 percent cacao or greater is good for you.
The percentage of cacao is not a reliable indicator of a product's cocoa flavanol content. Unfortunately, there is also no way of knowing exactly how many cocoa flavanols are in a conventional chocolate product because traditional cocoa processing, which includes fermenting, drying and roasting of beans, destroys many of the flavanols naturally present in the cocoa bean.
- Chocolate is high in caffeine.
Chocolate does contain caffeine, but an average 1-ounce serving of dark chocolate contains less than half the amount of caffeine found in an average cup of black tea. The amount of caffeine in chocolate is in proportion to the percentage of cacao in the product, meaning milk chocolate contains less caffeine than semi-sweet or dark chocolate.
Makes: 1 smoothie
- 1/2 cup boiling water
- 1 chai-flavored tea bag
- 1/2 cup fat-free milk
- 1 tablespoon honey
- ice cubes
- 1 packet CocoaVia Unsweetened Dark Chocolate (or Sweetened Dark Chocolate) supplement
- In measuring cup with pour spout, pour boiling water over tea bag. Let steep 5 minutes; remove tea bag.
- Pour milk and tea into blender; add honey, a handful of ice and cocoa extract supplement. Cover and blend until smooth.
Nutritional information per serving: 130 calories; 1 g total fat; 50 mg sodium; 27 g carbohydrates; 1 g dietary fiber; 24 g sugar; 5 g protein; 375 mg cocoa flavanols.
Content courtesy of CocoaVia
Photo courtesy of Getty Images (man and woman in kitchen)
Source: Cocoa Via
Make a heart-healthy menu with flavorful fruit
(Family Features) Heart-healthy foods can play a role in healthy aging. Whether you enjoy them by the handful as a refreshing snack or use them to add color, crunch and a touch of sweetness to a meal, grapes are a heart-healthy option that make eating better easy.
Grapes of all colors – red, green and black – are a natural source of beneficial antioxidants and other polyphenols. At just 90 calories per serving, they also contain no fat, no cholesterol and virtually no sodium.
With a juicy burst of flavor, grapes show how simple it can be to make good-for-you-dishes that also taste great. Even though California grapes are a snacking staple in most kitchens, you may not realize how versatile they can be for cooking. For example, grapes add a sweet touch to a crunchy yogurt salad and complement the bold spice on a skewer of grilled shrimp. Fresh, flavorful grapes even put a tangy, fresh twist on a soothing glass of iced tea.
Grapes and Brain Health
A grape-enriched diet helped protect against metabolic brain decline in Alzheimer’s-related areas of the brain, according to research from the University of California-Los Angeles. The pilot study, funded by the California Table Grape Commission, was conducted among people with early memory decline and showed that subjects who didn’t consume grapes exhibited significant metabolic decline in these critical regions. Additionally, those consuming the grape-enriched diet showed beneficial changes in regional brain metabolism that correlated to improvements in cognition and working memory performance, according to a report published by Experimental Gerontology.
Find more delicious recipes to make healthy eating easy at GrapesfromCalifornia.com.
Zahtar Shrimp and Grape Kabobs
- 2 tablespoons zahtar
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
- 2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 1/8 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/8 teaspoon pepper
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 36-40 large shrimp (about 2 pounds), shelled and deveined
- 1 cup whole green California grapes
- 1 cup whole red California grapes
- In medium bowl, combine zahtar, garlic, thyme, vinegar, honey, salt, pepper and olive oil. Whisk to combine. Add shrimp and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate at least 30 minutes or up to 4 hours.
- Thread shrimp and grapes onto skewers. Heat grill or grill pan to medium-high.
- Grill skewers, turning once, until shrimp are lightly charred and cooked through and grapes are caramelized but firm, about 2-3 minutes per side.
Nutritional information per serving: 190 calories; 20 g protein; 12 g carbohydrate; 6 g fat (28% calories from fat); 1 g saturated fat (5% calories from saturated fat); 180 mg cholesterol; 870 mg sodium; 1 g fiber.
Savory Yogurt with Grape and Cucumber Salad
- 1/3 cup raw cashews
- 1/3 cup hazelnuts
- 1/4 cup sesame seeds
- 2 tablespoons cumin seeds
- 2 tablespoons coriander seeds
- 2 tablespoons dried thyme
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3 cups plain, nonfat Greek yogurt
- 1/2 cup green California grapes, halved
- 1/2 cup red California grapes, halved
- 1 cup English cucumber, diced
- 1 tablespoon minced shallot
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar
- salt, to taste
- pepper, to taste
- 4 tablespoons dukkah
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- To make dukkah: Heat oven to 350 F. Spread cashews and hazelnuts on baking sheet and toast 6-8 minutes. Transfer to food processor and set aside. In skillet over medium heat, toast sesame seeds, cumin seeds and coriander seeds until fragrant, 1-2 minutes, then transfer to food processor. Add dried thyme and salt. Pulse mixture until coarsely ground. Makes about 1 cup that can be stored in an airtight container.
- Divide yogurt into four 3/4-cup portions. In small bowl, combine grapes, cucumber, shallots, olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper. Toss to combine. Top each bowl of yogurt with 1/2 cup grape mixture, 1 tablespoon dukkah and sprinkle of lemon zest.
Nutritional information per serving: 220 calories; 19 g protein; 18 g carbohydrate; 8 g fat (33% calories from fat); 1.5 g saturated fat (6% calories from saturated fat); 10 mg cholesterol; 140 mg sodium; 2 g fiber.
Sparkling Hibiscus Tea with Grapes and Mint
- 6 cups water, divided
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 6 hibiscus tea bags
- 2 cups green California grapes, divided
- 10 mint leaves
- 1 navel orange, sliced
- 16 ounces sparkling water
- Using tea kettle or saucepan, bring 3 cups water and honey to boil. Add tea bags, turn off heat and steep 6-8 minutes. Remove tea bags and allow remaining liquid to cool 15 minutes.
- In martini shaker or bowl, muddle 1 cup grapes with mint leaves. Add muddled grape and mint mixture to 48-60 ounce pitcher along with remaining water and orange slices. Stir in hibiscus tea mixture. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes. Strain before serving.
- To serve, add ice to 8-ounce glass. Top with 3-4 grapes, 2 ounces sparkling water and hibiscus tea mixture.
Nutritional information per serving: 70 calories; 1 g protein; 16 g carbohydrate; 10 mg sodium; 1 g fiber.
(Family Features) It’s no secret: Americans are desperate for sleep. In fact, the U.S. sleep aid market is expected to grow to $44 billion by 2020, according to data from Persistence Market Research. However, achieving better sleep may be as easy as changing what you eat.
A survey commissioned by the Cherry Marketing Institute and conducted online by Harris Poll in January 2017 among more than 2,000 adults suggests that Americans may be open to alternate sleep solutions. An overwhelming 83 percent of Americans would prefer to improve their sleep through diet rather than using over-the-counter sleep aids.
One promising solution that doesn’t require a trip down the pharmaceutical aisle: Montmorency tart cherry juice, which has been scientifically studied for its ability to help improve sleep quality and duration. Montmorency tart cherries are one of the few food sources of melatonin, a sleep-regulating hormone.
“Melatonin plays a big role in the sleep equation,” said Dr. Michael Breus, a nationally renowned sleep expert. “Without it, our bodies aren’t triggered to regulate the sleep cycle and therefore, we can’t get the rest we need. One simple, delicious and natural way to incorporate melatonin into your sleep routine is with Montmorency tart cherry juice. Research has shown adding two glasses of Montmorency tart cherry juice to your daily routine can improve your sleep quality and duration.”
A growing body of research suggests Montmorency tart cherry juice may help with sleep-related concerns, such as:
- Improving sleep efficiency
- Reducing the severity of insomnia and sleep disturbances
- Increasing sleep time
Tart cherries are available year-round in dried, frozen and juice forms at retailers across the country and online. For additional information, including more recipes like this soothing bedtime tea, visit choosecherries.com.
Tart Cherry Turmeric Bedtime Tea
Recipe courtesy of Kristina LaRue of LoveandZest.com
Prep time: 2 minutes
Cook time: 7 minutes
Yield: 2 cups
- 1 cup Montmorency tart cherry juice
- 1 cup water
- 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
- 2 bags chamomile tea
- 1/4 cup frozen Montmorency tart cherries
- In small pot or tea kettle, bring tart cherry juice and water to boil. Stir in turmeric and ginger, and pour over tea bags and frozen Montmorency tart cherries. Steep 5 minutes. Remove tea bags and drink warm, at room temperature or chilled.
Source: Cherry Marketing Institute