Kiwi Guacomole

For last week's "Food as Medicine" group, we were focusing on fruit and one of the recipes we made was Kiwi Guacomole.  Adding a kiwi to the guacomole reduces the fat density of the guacamole and also adds other nutrients - especially Vitamin C as kiwis as high in Vitamin C.


Another benefit of adding the kiwi - aside from nutrition, and taste, is that the Vitamin C from the kiwi stops the avocado going brown.  I had some for three days and it was still green with no brown at all.  The Vitamin C was acting as an antioxidant to the guacamole.  Seems like we should eat it and get those benefits in us!

So here's the recipe.  Adding 2 kiwis makes not as firm as regular guacomole so if you like it firmer, just add one.


Ingredients:
1 avocado, pitted, peeled and diced
2 kiwi fruits, peeled and halved
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 chopped onion
1 medium tomato halved
1/2 cilantro leaves

Place all the ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend briefly just on the lowest speed.  You don't want to liquidize it, so just go slow. Alternatively, you can do more cutting of the ingredients and then just mash them up the in a bowl, using a potato masher or pastry blender.

You can also add white beans to this, to thicken it, or garden peas.  I often add other veggies - all of which reduce the fat density and make for a healthier guacamole.
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A pocketful of pecans

Harvesting continues....since October we've gone from grapes, to figs, to persimmons.....sort of missed the guavas when we were away....to olives and today, to a pocketful of pecans.


Yes, our pecan tree is still small so we both picked a pocketful. There were 17 in all!

Yeah. 17 pecans!  They now "cure" - i.e. dry - for 2 weeks before we open them up and see the goodies inside.


And did you know...pecans are the most nutritious nut with amazing antioxidant content.  I always thought walnuts were healthier than pecans...hmmm....our little tree better get growing! 

Check out this little video from nutritionfacts.org and see if you know how to rank nuts.



"What's next to harvest?", I hear you ask.... Citrus. Our citrus harvest is in mid flow...more on that another day.
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Eat a rainbow a day

Do you eat a rainbow a day?

Eating a diet that includes lots of different colors is linked to lowered risks of obesity and chronic disease.  The natural colors of foods are aesthetically pleasing to the eye and incorporating different colors into your food plan offers more than just macronutrients and antioxidants.  The colors are connected to specific functions inside the body too.

  • Red foods like tomatoes and watermelon contain the antioxidant lycopene, shown to play a role in reducing the development of certain cancers and may by important for warding off heart problems.  
  • Orange foods like carrots and sweet potatoes are great sources of beta-carotene, a vitamin A precursor. When we eat orange beta carotene, it converts into Vitamin A in the body.  Eating orange fruits and vegetables can help our immune system and eyes to function better.
  • Yellow and green foods are packed with phytonutrients like lutein for eye health, chlorophyll to protect cells from damage, and folic acid, an essential nutrient for growth and development.  
  • Blue and purple foods are excellent sources of brain-protective antioxidants.  Eating blue berries and purple grapes can keep the mind sharp and focused.

Take a look at the chart above and see which color you don't normally eat on a daily basis and consider buying some of that color this week when you go grocery shopping.(The above chart includes brown in the rainbow! Not a usual rainbow color, I know - but useful for us to consider adding whole grains and legumes to each day.)

It's great if you can "eat a rainbow" each day - with at least one fruit or vegetable from each color of the rainbow.  See how well you normally do and try to improve it.  It would be fun to try and see how many colors you can combine even in one meal - can you get 5 colors or more in your next meal?


May your week be color full!
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Green Tea Benefits

After yesterday's post about hibiscus tea being higher in anti-oxidants than green tea, you may be left thinking you should make a switch from green to hibiscus tea....but before you throw out that green stuff, let's look at some of the other benefits, above and beyond anti-oxidant activity, that green tea has to offer.


Although coming in second place to hibiscus tea, green tea does still have a very high antioxidant value (see yesterday's table) and is also a detoxifier by activating enzymes in the liver that eliminate toxins from the body.

It is rich in polyphenols including catechins and particularly EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate-3).  EGCG is one of the most powerful nutritional molecules against the formation of new blood vessels by cancerous cells (angiogenesis) needed for tumour growth and metastases.   Green tea also facilitates the death of cancer cells (apoptosis) and has been seen to enhance the effects of radiotherapy on cancer cells.


Pretty impressive stuff heh?  And so many good clinical studies on it's effects.

Japanese green tea - called Matcha - has even higher levels of EGCG than chinese green tea, as matcha is ground up tea leaves rather than just steeping the leaves in water.



EGCG is not present in black tea as it is destroyed during the fermentation process required to make it.  However, decaffeinated green tea still contains all the good polyphenols that caffeinated green tea does, so its preferable to go with decaf.

After two or three cups of green tea a day, EGCG is plentiful in the blood and spreads throughout the body by means of our small capillary vessels.  These surround and feed every cell in the body.  EGCG settles on the surface of cells and blocks the "switches" or receptors on the cells, whose function it is to set off a signal that allows the penetration of neighboring tissue by foreign cells, such as cancer cells.  Once the receptors are blocked by EGCG, they no longer respond to the signal that cancer cells send to invade tissue and to make the new vessels needed for tumor growth.

Studies have shown green tea to substantially slow the growth of leukemia, and breast, prostate, kidney, skin and oral cancer.

It has been found that green tea has even greater effect when combined with other molecules commonly found in Asian diets, such as soy.


So hibiscus tea or green tea?  I don't see any reason to choose just one - why not just drink both?  Both have benefits and both taste very different from each other, so if you are in the mood for something fruity, try the hibiscus, otherwise, go green.

And don't limit yourself to just drinking your EGCG - you can add it to yoghurts, smoothies, ice cream, cakes, desserts - especially if you use the powdered Matcha.  Even Nestle have come out with a green tea KitKat bar in Japan!

How will you get your green tea?
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Best beverage

We've heard for a long time about the high antioxidant and health benefits of green tea, but a study published in 2010 in "Nutrition Journal", has found another drink that has even greater antioxidant levels.

The study was very extensive, comparing the antioxidant levels of more than 3100 foods, beverages, herbs and spices. Can you even think of 3100 different foods?  I'll be sharing some of the other results in future blog posts.



But the beverage that came out tops of 283 beverages was Hibiscus tea.  Some examples of the antioxidant content for popular drinks are:

  • coke/pepsi 1
  • white wine 5
  • black tea 23
  • green tea 36
  • red wine 38
  • coffee 47
  • matcha tea 100 (matcha is powdered green tea)
  • hibiscus tea 132


An example of a readily available hibiscus tea in a tea bag is Red Zinger.  Alternatively, you can purchase dried hibiscus flowers from Mexican food stores and steep your own tea. Hibiscus teas don't contain caffeine and, as well as their antioxidant powers, they are also seen to lower high blood pressure.


Michael Greger, M.D. suggests preparing a day's worth of hibiscus tea as follows:
8 glasses of water, 4 bags of hibiscus tea, juice of one lemon, sweetener if desired (eg erythritol or blended dates).  Mix together and put in the fridge overnight. Remove the tea bags in the morning and drink throughout the day.

I fancy adding some ginger to the above too....Do you have other ideas?  I'm going to give it a try.

By the way, I met Dr. Michael Greger this weekend at a great nutrition conference I attended in Santa Rosa.  What an entertaining man and so informative. I highly recommend his website where he posts a new video every day - http://nutritionfacts.org.


BUT, before you throw all that green tea away, while hibiscus tea may have a higher level of antioxidants, green tea also has many other health benefits, especially anti-cancer properties from EGCG - a compound in the tea.  I'll tell you more about that tomorrow.
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