Regular Chocolate Consumption Lowers Heart Disease Risk by One-Third

Photo by: loririce

Thank heavens we made a chocolate glaze for our donuts this weekend! A new meta-analysis in the British Medical Journal concluded that after analyzing the chocolate eating habits of over 100,000 peeps, the highest consumers (exact quantity too hard to measure) had a 37% lower risk of cardiovascular disease, 31% lower risk of diabetes, and a 29% lower risk of stroke. Being that most chocolaty foods are also rich in artery-clogging saturated fat and cholesterol, it’s important to choose dark chocolate, and small quantities each day. Such As:  a few squares of Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Truffle bar, or any of the low-fat, low-cholesterol chocolate delights posted here.

The reason for chocolate’s ability to guard and protect the heart is it’s high concentration of polyphenols, which are powerful antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents. However, beans and veggies are also rich sources of these almighty stewards. So, sounds like a diet rich in veggies topped off with some dark chocolate each day is a perfect plan!

More details in today’s USA Today.


If You Must Donut

I scored a fantastic job one college summer in the research & development department of Rich Products Corporation, based in my home ‘hood of Buffalo, NY. In my list of duties, I was required to taste-test donuts EVERY DAY. And some days, I also taste-tested non-dairy coffee creamers and low-fat cookies. A total dream job for a college kid. Get paid to test donuts and junk? Yes please!

Well, after 2 months of heaven, a wider and squishier tush, and a newly greased nose, I finally maxed out on donuts. I didn’t think it was possible either, but I haven’t had a donut since last millennium!

Now, years later, I decided to take on a donut project: Healthy homemade donuts that look and taste like they should, but leave your tush looking like it used to. Eat donuts, but stay hot and sexy!

Inspired by and based on these mini-donuts, here’s the result:

Photo by: Bitchin' Dietitian

Donut Pop-Ems for Hot Bodies
Makes 22 donut pop-ems

Dry Ingredients:

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cinnamon

Wet Ingredients:

1/2 cup non-dairy milk (I used original flavor almond milk)
1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 Tbsp flaxseed meal, soaked in 3 Tbsp warm water for 5 minutes (egg substitute)
1/4 cup Earth Balance margarine

Preheat oven to 350º F.

In a large bowl, combine dry ingredients with a whisk to mix thoroughly.

Combine wet ingredients in a small sauce pan over low heat and mix until margarine is just melted. Don’t let the mixture get too hot (you should be able to stick your finger in it without getting burned). If you burn your finger, it’s too hot for the dough.

Pour wet ingredients into the dry and stir to combine. Dough should be gooey and airy.

Scoop spoonfuls into a nonstick mini-cupcake pan (or mini-donut pan if you have it), filling cups almost completely full.

Bake for 12 minutes without letting tops get brown.

Invert hot pan upside down over a cookie sheet or cutting board and pop-ems should fall out. Allow to cool completely before glazing.

Fresh out of the oven, Pre-glaze

Sugar Glaze with Sprinkles

1 Tbsp non-dairy milk (I used original almond milk)
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/8 tsp almond extract (optional)
1/4 cup sprinkles, poured into a bowl

In a small bowl, whisk, powdered sugar, and almond extract (if using) with a fork to remove all lumps. Drop donuts into the glaze and then dip half the donut into sprinkles. Place on parchment paper until glaze dries (chill in fridge for faster solidification).

Chocolate Glaze 

3 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips (about 1/4 of a standard bag of chocolate chips)
3 Tbsp non-dairy milk

Heat in small saucepan over low heat–stirring constantly–until chips are melted. Dip and roll donuts in chocolate glaze and place on parchment paper to dry. Sprinkle with sprinkles if desired.

Nutrition info per donut pop-em (without glaze): 59 calories, 2 g fat,0 mg cholesterol, 9 g carbohydrates, 5 g sugar, 0.5 g fiber, 1 g protein.   

And the taste? INCREDIBLE! Not a complaint in the house!

Fun Food Fact Friday: Greenwheat Freekeh

Pronounced “Freak-ah,” Greenwheat Freekeh is roasted green wheat that has been around for over 2000 years, and it may be the new quinoa. It’s basically wheat that’s picked early (when it’s green) and dried, burned, and smoked. Sounds violent! But, the result is a grain that has 4 times more fiber than rice, and is high in protein, calcium, iron, potassium, and zinc. Plus, it has a low Glycemic Index, meaning that it slowly turns into glucose in your bloodstream, thus preventing sugar spikes and insulin rushes, and is a good carbohydrate food for diabetics.

When I saw it in the bulk section of Whole Foods the other day, I couldn’t resist. A freaky grain, and this variety from Australia? Count me in! And now I’m realizing my favorite hideout–Trader Joe’s–may also have a version of Freekeh as well.

But don’t ancient grains take hours to cook?
(which is actually a seed that’s eaten like a grain, rich in protein and fiber, and wheat and gluten-free) only takes about 15 minutes to prepare. Greenwheat Freekeh takes 20-25 minutes to prepare the cracked version and 40-45 minutes to prepare the whole grain variety. Still faster than brown rice. Here’s a fun 2-minute how-to Australian Freekeh movie.

I cooked a pot last night and am enjoying Freekmeal Breakfast this morning. DEEE LISH. Nutty, sweet, and filling!

Bitchin' Dietitian's Freekmeal Breakfast

Freekmeal Breakfast
Serves 1

1/2 cup cooked Greenwheat Freekeh
2 Tbsp dried cranberries
2 Tbsp pepitas
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 cup unsweetened coconut milk (the fridge version, not the canned version) 

Heat all ingredients on the stovetop or in the microwave for 1-2 minutes. Mmm mm MMM!

Interested in more ways to get your Freekeh on? Check out this Freekeh with Chickpeas and Mushrooms and this Freekeh Salad with Beets, Cilantro, and Lime.

Consuming Hemp Protein Immediately after Workout Helps Build Muscle

Photo by: Bitchin' Dietitian

According to 2 new studies in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, consuming 25 grams of protein immediately following a workout greatly improves the body’s ability to build muscle. The studies noted that muscle-building is mainly due to the amino acid leucine, which is especially high in Hemp Seed Protein. Where to get the stuff? Not the local frat house, just head to Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods. I happen to LOVE the Trader Joe’s Vanilla Hemp Protein Powder. Not only does it have 18 g protein per 1/2 cup scoop, but it’s also high in fiber and the essential heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Can’t get those extra beauties in whey or even soy protein powders!


Meat-Eaters May Be Short on Fiber and Cancer-Fighting Antioxidants

Veggie Burger by: SweetOnVeg

With all the news on Clinton’s year-long vegan diet, and basically whenever someone decides to give up meat, there’s a flurry of concern the diet will be short on protein, calcium, vitamin B12, and zinc. But actually, Bill’s current tour de force not only has sufficient protein, calcium, vitamin B12, and zinc from beans, nuts, meatless burgers, fortified non-dairy milks, and fortified cereals, but it’s also skyrocketing the charts on heart-healthy and cancer-busting fiber and antioxidants. So, until Bill goes totally RAW and starts sprouting grains, avoiding all processed foods, and making almond milk from scratch (which is actually a pretty righteous nutrition situation, but does require a daily multivitamin), there is no need for panic.

But why don’t we see this headline in the news?
Meat-Eaters May Be Short on Fiber and Cancer-Fighting Antioxidants

Ironically, meat and processed-food enthusiasts should be extra careful because by skipping out on plant proteins (beans, tempeh, nuts, broccoli, quinoa) and instead downing meats and other processed foods, they’re missing out on key life force nutrients that work to prevent heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. This is why in nutrition counseling, I recommend multivitamins to meat-eaters, and not to plant food junkies.

Did you get your 9 servings of veggies and fruits today?

Do These 4 Things, and Live a Longer, Healthier Life

Photo by: Sam Howzit

A friend of mine always joked that healthy eating didn’t help you live longer, it just seemed longer. Well, now there’s proof. This week’s American Journal of Public Health reported on the lifestyle habits of nearly 17,000 adults and their risk of dying from chronic diseases. Do these 4 things, they concluded, and enjoy life a whole lot longer:

1. Don’t Smoke.
2. Eat Healthfully.
3. Exercise Regularly.
4. Go Easy on the Alcohol.

Happy early Birthday to Besse Berry Cooper–the world’s oldest person–who turns 115 on Friday this week! How does she do it? She minds her own business and doesn’t eat junk food. See?!

Prunes for…. Bones?

Photo by: izik

No joke! A new study in the British Journal of Nutrition showed that among postmenopausal women, 10 prunes a day improved bone mineral density significantly because of their ability to suppress the rate of bone resorption (the breakdown of bone) which tends to exceed the rate of new bone growth as people age. Daily prunes may be a great way to prevent osteoporosis or fractures. Start with 2 or 3 and work your way up to 10.

Read more here. Delicious Prune Pudding for dessert today anyone?

Broccoli Crosses Party Lines: Bill Clinton Goes Tofu

Photo by: World Economic Forum

While George HW Bush may have been anti-broccoli, George W was a floret lover. And now Bill Clinton is declaring his love for green veggies and their ability to reverse heart disease.

Bill may not have made the best lifestyle choices last millenium, including his decision to continue downing donuts and fries after Hillary enlisted heart disease reversal doc Dean Ornish in 1993 to overhaul the White House menu–this move landed him in the OR for a quadruple bypass in 2004. But, after that surgery and then having 2 stents implanted last year, he decided to get drastic and Go Totally Tofu. Now, he’s dropped 20 lbs and has never felt better. Check out his CNN interview or the NPR recap 1 year after his decision to eat a totally plant-based diet (except for a bite of turkey on Thanksgiving….).

If Bill can do it, so can you! Recipes here.

The Cheapest Healthiest Food on the Planet

Photo by: llsimon53

When times are tight, the quality of our food is often what suffers most, and then our cellulite follows right behind (on our behinds). UnWelcome back, fat pants and blood pressure machine! As a health conscious, frugal google, but realist when it comes to the sacredness of time and quality of life, I’ve always purchased canned beans and felt like they were cheap enough, tasty, and a great item under the circumstances. $0.69 for a 15-oz can is nothing (sale price), right?

Well, you might say I’ve had a change of ‘beans’ recently. When you take into account the dirt cheapness of dried beans, the fact that you can do a ‘Quick Soak’ (see below) rather than starting the process 8 years before the meal, and cook a mass quantity and freeze them in 1-cup portions, the cost of dried beans is astronomically cheaper than canned.

Canned beans (on sale) cost about 20 cents per 1/2-cup serving (which provides 7 grams of protein and 7 grams of fiber).

Dried beans (not on sale) cost about 6 cents per 1/2-cup serving (also providing 7 grams protein and 7 grams fiber).

So if you eat beans once a year, no biggie. But wait, if you only eat beans once a year, you’re spending too much on unhealthy food and need to get your grocery list’s act together! Beans will save you!! Even Dr. “God” Oz touted beans this week on his show saying they’re a healthier source of protein than meat, and they contain soluble fiber that helps lower cholesterol. More here and here. And if you want to make them less farty, check here.

The challenge is on. This week, fire up some dried beans. They’re probably already in your pantry. I generally cook 3 cups dried at a time (makes about 6 cups cooked). Refridge what you’ll use over the next week, and freeze the rest in 1 or 2-cup portions. Incorporate them into any of these 30 concoctions. Or see if one of the 60 recipes here jump out at you. Nothing? How about the “I Don’t Do Beans” Beans or the Gooey Louie Bean Brownies? Just start somewhere!

For further cost-saving, healthy-eating tips, check out Healthy Eating on the Cheap, and this hot-off-the-press hotcake book by Ellen Jaffe Jones called Eat Vegan on $4.00 a Day.

What are some other cheap, life-extending foods?

*Quick Soak Instructions: Cover beans with water and bring to a boil for 2 minutes. Remove from heat, cover, and let sit for an hour. Drain water. Add new water. Bring to a boil again, then reduce heat to simmer and cook, uncovered, for about 1 more hour. Two hours is a whole lot better than 2 days, especially when you can pretty much do anything you want during that 2-hour period. 

One Hot Dog per Day Increases Diabetes Risk by 50%

Soy Dog Mice, photo by: gamene

For real. Looking at 20 years of data among 200,000 health professionals and nurse participants, Harvard researchers determined that a small serving of processed or red meat not only increases diabetes risk by up to 51%, but that substituting healthier protein sources–such as soy dogs, whole grains, nuts, beans, or lentils–actually decreases Diabetes risk by 20-25%. Read the abstract of the meta-analysis (a super study with statistically strong results) in this month’s American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Unless you don’t mind Diabetes, it’s time to consider some meatless main dishes, STAT!