Quinoa Health Benefits and Recipes

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my Disclosure Policy for details.

Have you heard of quinoa? This superfood is one of the world’s most popular health foods.

First, let’s get the name right, for this seed that’s often referred to as a grain.

Quinoa is pronounced “KEEN-wah”. And there are many excellent reasons to include quinoa in your diet.

Need encouragement? Check out these quinoa health benefits and recipes.

Quinoa Health Benefits and Recipes title meme

Quinoa Nutritional Facts

Quinoa is grown as a grain crop although technically, it’s a seed. The Inca considered quinoa an important crop, calling it the “mother of all grains”. In South America, quinoa has been eaten for thousands of years. Only recently has the superfood become a trend in the US.

Quinoa comes in three varieties: red, white and black.  It is gluten free, high in protein and one of the few plant based foods that provides all nine essential amino acids that the body needs.

Additionally, quinoa is high in fiber, magnesium, vitamins B and E, iron, potassium, calcium, phosphorus, copper, zinc and antioxidants.

Quinoa’s antioxidants help calm inflammation throughout the body and provide anti-cancer, anti-viral and anti-depressant properties.

NASA considers quinoa a suitable crop to grow in space, due to its high nutritional content, ease of growing and its simple preparation methods.

Quinoa Health Benefits and Recipes uncooked
Quinoa health benefits and recipes – uncooked quinoa

Health Benefits of Quinoa

These important health benefits help give quinoa its superfood status:

  • gluten free means quinoa won’t cause symptoms that those with gluten sensitivities experience such as rashes and digestive disorders
  • provides all nine essential amino acids that the body cannot produce on its own
  • excellent source of protein, especially beneficial for those on a plant based diet One cup of cooked quinoa provides 8.14 grams of protein.
  • low glycemic index, meaning it does not quickly raise blood sugar levels
  • improves metabolic health by reducing insulin and triglyceride levels
  • high fiber content reduces the risks for constipation, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and diverticulosis
  • promotes a healthy weight. High fiber foods help people feel full longer
  • vitamin E content helps reduce the risk for heart disease, eye disorders and certain types of cancer
  • high iron content supports blood health, energy and cell function, connective tissue health and muscle metabolism
  • B vitamin folate promotes healthy pregnancies and reduces the risks of certain cancers and depression
Quinoa Health Benefits and Recipes cooked
Quinoa Health Benefits and Recipes – cooked quinoa

Adding Quinoa to the Diet

Quinoa is easy to prepare and simple to add to meals.

Prepare quinoa by combining two cups of water with one cup of uncooked quinoa in a sauce pan. Always use a 2:1 ratio of water to quinoa. Bring mixture to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer, cover and cook for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and leave quinoa covered for five more minutes. Remove cover and fluff quinoa with a fork.

Or prepare quinoa in recipes.

Check out what I made this week, all from one box of dried quinoa.

Quinoa and Black Bean Tacos

This simple to prepare recipe yielded yummy, meatless tacos. While the quinoa and black bean filling simmered, I chopped toppings for the tacos: tomatoes, mixed greens, red, yellow and orange peppers and avocado.

I’m on my second package of gluten free tortillas…and still have leftover quinoa and black bean filling in the fridge. The perfectly seasoned filling reminds me of meat, texture and flavor wise, and they are perfect for Taco Tuesday.

Quinoa and Black Bean Tacos

Quinoa and Black Bean Tacos

Try this meatless taco that's full of flavor
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Total Time 30 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine Mexican
Servings 8 Servings

Ingredients
  

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika may use regular paprika
  • 1 6 oz can tomato paste
  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 1 14 oz can black beans
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • sea salt and black pepper, to taste
  • 1 pkg gluten free taco sized tortillas may use regular taco sized tortillas
  • assorted toppings such as diced tomatoes, shredded greens, salsa and chopped avocado for tacos

Instructions
 

  • Saute onions and garlic in skillet with olive oil 3 - 4 minutes until soft and translucent
  • Add spices, tomato paste, quinoa and vegetable broth. Stir to combine and bring to a boil. Add black beans. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 15 minutes
  • Remove pan from heat and leave covered for 5 minutes
  • Remove cover, add lime juice and fluff mixture with a spoon or fork

Assemble Tacos

  • Heat tortillas in a lightly greased skillet or griddle, one at a time, until they puff and brown slightly. Move to plates and fold in two.
  • Spoon quinoa and black bean mixture into tortillas. Top with diced tomatoes, shredded greens, avocado and salsa. Makes at least 8 tacos.
Keyword black bean, meatless, quinoa, taco

 

Quinoa and Black Bean Tacos
Quinoa Health Benefits and Recipes – Quinoa and Black Bean Tacos

Quinoa Breakfast Bowl

Using the quinoa in place of oatmeal, this morning I prepared a tasty breakfast treat. Plus I made enough quinoa to use for dinner tonight.

For a hearty quinoa breakfast bowl, with leftovers, combine one cup uncooked quinoa with two cups of water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and cover. Simmer for 15 minutes, remove from heat and leave the cover on for another five minutes. Use plant based milk, if desired, in place of water.

I combined a healthy portion of cooked quinoa with a cup of fresh blueberries, sliced banana and a tablespoon of chia seeds plus a splash of unsweetened almond milk. If desired, sweeten the breakfast quinoa with a spoonful of pure maple syrup. I left mine unsweetened and it was perfect for me.

A quinoa breakfast bowl is a great change up from oatmeal and packed with nutrients. Try different combos such as raisins and cinnamon, strawberries and bananas, chopped dates and walnuts, bananas and nut butter. The possibilities are endless.

Quinoa Health Benefits and Recipes breakfast
Quinoa Health Benefits and Recipes – breakfast bowl

Quinoa and Chickpea Bowl

With my leftover quinoa from this morning, I created a simple, delicious dinner bowl tonight.

I call these bowls my “clean out the fridge” meals. They are a wonderful way to use up leftover veggies and cooked quinoa or brown rice.

In a skillet, melt two tablespoons plant based butter or use olive oil. Add one chopped yellow onion, 3 garlic cloves, minced, and any other veggies you want. I added diced red, yellow and orange peppers and sliced mushrooms. Stir fry veggies until barely tender.

Add cooked quinoa and combine well. I added a generous sprinkle of sea salt and garlic powder. Reduce heat to simmer and cover, allowing quinoa to heat through.

While quinoa mixture simmered, I warmed up organic chickpeas from a can and sliced an avocado.

My assembled bowl contained the quinoa/stir fry mixture, chickpeas, sliced avocado and a mixed green salad with slivers of carrots and red cabbage. It was the perfect evening meal, ready in about 15 minutes.

Quinoa Health Benefits and Recipes bowl
Quinoa Health Benefits and Recipes – quinoa and chickpea bowl

I’m Sold on Quinoa

I love this superfood! And I’m looking forward to creating more meals with quinoa and discovering new recipes…or creating my own.

Do you love quinoa too? What’s your favorite way to enjoy this highly nutritious food?


 

Journey With Healthy Me is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. This affiliate program provides a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com, all at no extra cost to you.

Negativity’s Impact on Health

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my Disclosure Policy for details.

Negativity. We are all familiar with it as a lower energy feeling. The simple definition of negativity is the expression of criticism or pessimism. However, that definition doesn’t go deep enough.

Negativity is a tendency to feel downcast, disagreeable and cynical. It’s a pessimistic attitude that expects the worst in life.

Anyone can experience a negative feeling or a low vibe day. Temporary negativity is often the result of an illness or accident, unexpected life circumstances or personal difficulties. However, when most thoughts about the world, life, others and the self tend toward the bleak, negativity can become habitual.

Like positive thoughts, negative thoughts create neural pathways. The more negative thoughts and experiences we have, the more entrenched those pathways become. We actually condition ourselves to think negatively and find the bad in life.

We can shrug and say, “I’m just a negative person.” However, that negativity comes with a price. Check out negativity’s impact on health and learn how to shift.

Negativity's Impact on Health title meme

Signs of Negativity

Not sure if negativity is becoming habitual in your life? It can show up in these ways:

Cynicism – a distrust of people and their motives

Hostility – unfriendliness or opposition towards people, often accompanied by anger

Unreasonable anger – an intense emotional state involving strong, non-cooperative responses to perceived hurts, provocations or threats.

Skewed perceptions – only seeing the bad in situations or people

Assumptions – assuming bad things will happen

Blaming – assigning responsibility for wrongs or faults to others or believing you are a victim of life circumstances

Feeling of doom – expecting terrible, destructive fates to happen

Paranoia – thinking everyone…or life…is out to get you

Negativity's Impact on Health
Negativity’s Impact on Health – skewed perceptions

Negativity’s Impact on Health

Negative situations, relationships and thoughts create stress. The body responds by releasing the hormone cortisol, also known as the “fight or flight” hormone.

This hormone is valuable when we are faced with actual danger. However, when the body stays in fight or flight mode, for extended periods of time, it has a detrimental effect on the body and on health.

Common effects of negativity on the body include:

Brain disorders – degenerative brain diseases, dementia, stroke, depletion of brain chemicals required for happiness

Heart disease – chest pain, heart attacks, high blood pressure

Digestive issues – slowed digestion, hardening of organs in digestive system, upset stomach, type 2 diabetes, irritable bowels, overeating, loss of appetite

Immune system – increased infections, inability to fight off inflammation which leads to many types of diseases

Fatigue – sleep disorders, tiredness, irritability, muscle tension and pain

Headaches – tension, jaw clenching, migraines, eye strain

Mental health – anxiety, fear, depression, social withdrawal, unhappiness

Negativity's Impact on Health stomachache
Negativity’s Impact on Health – digestive disorders

Changing Negativity to Positivity

Have you experienced any of the signs of negativity? Once we become aware of negativity’s impact on our bodies, we can shift it.

Here are ways to overcome negativity, lessening its impact on health and creating positive pathways in the brain:

Limit – turn off the news, stop reading negative posts on social media, unfriend or block or snooze negative people to clean up your feed, carefully choose who you hang out with, set boundaries with negative family members, remove yourself from negative situations, people and conversations

Live in the moment – release the past, forgive others and yourself, don’t worry about the future, focus on tasks at hand, speak positive affirmations

Practice gratitude – every day, express thanks for all the good things in your life

Engage in activities you love – do what brings you joy, laugh, play, explore new hobbies, spend time with people who encourage you, create, offer to others

Meditate – learn to still the mind, let go of negative thoughts, focus on breathing

Take action – if a negative situation or thought arises, take positive actions. For example, if a driver cuts you off in traffic, starting a negative train of thought, slow down, take deep breaths, and allow another car room to change lanes in front of you.

Negativity's Impact on Health online
Negativity’s Impact on Health – limit negativity online

Making Positive Choices

When signs of negativity show up in your body, affecting health, make choices.

When I’m in a negative situation or around negative people, my body responds in specific ways.

My jaw and hands clench, the muscles in my face, neck and scalp tighten and I get a headache. I notice my breaths are rapid and shallow. If I don’t remove myself quickly enough from the situation, my body goes into shut down mode. I can’t see or hear well and my throat narrows, limiting my ability to speak. For me, it feels like negative energy overwhelms me, overpowers me. It’s not a feeling I like.

The best choices I can make are to get out of the situation, leave the conversation or walk away from the person. As my body calms from fight or flight mode, I practice deep breathing, express gratitude, go for a walk outdoors or spend a few minutes in meditation to restore my positivity.

How does it feel, when you encounter negativity? What choices can you make, to shift back into positivity?

Remaining healthy at every age includes removing the habit of negativity from your life. It’s not just an attitude adjustment or a glass half full mentality…although those are important. Shift the negativity for a healthier you and a longer, happier life.

Negativity's Impact on Health laugh
Lessen negativity’s impact on health for a longer, happier life.

 

Amazon finds to boost positivity:

 


 

Journey With Healthy Me is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. This affiliate program provides a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com, all at no extra cost to you.

I am not a medical practitioner. I study health and wellness related topics and share experiences from my own personal healing journey.

 

 

 

 

 

Vegan Chocolate Avocado Mousse

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my Disclosure Policy for details.

During March’s National Nutrition Month, a healthy, delicious dessert made from simple wholesome ingredients became a favorite. A local cafe featuring vegan food inspired me to make my own vegan chocolate avocado mousse.

I’ve read about combining avocado with cocoa powder to make this creamy dessert. However, until sampling it at The Veggie Table, I’d never eaten it. Let me tell you, it’s amazing.

This vegan chocolate avocado mousse comes together quickly. And, it’s a great way to use up ripe avocados. I mentioned the recipe in Creating Highly Nutritious Meals. Here is more info about the dessert and my perfected recipe.

Vegan Chocolate Avocado Mousse title meme

Avocados, the Secret Ingredient

Avocados are extremely nutritious. They are fruits, which is why it appears on my list of highly nutritious foods under that category.

This pear shaped fruit is loaded with healthy fats, fiber, protein and 20 different vitamins and minerals including vitamins B5, B6, C, E and K. Avocados contain more potassium than bananas. Plus the good fats contain oleic acid, associated with reducing inflammation in the body and fighting cancer.

Avocados are also high in antioxidants that improve eye health. Additionally, the fruit increases antioxidant absorption from other foods.

Incredibly, a recent study shows that people who eat avocados are healthier than people who don’t. Those who add avocados to their diets have a higher nutrient intake and are 50% less likely to develop metabolic syndrome, a cluster of symptoms that are major risk factors for heart disease and diabetes.

The edible part of the fruit, the yellow/green flesh inside, is rich, smooth and creamy, making it an ideal addition to salads, salsas…and mousse!

Vegan Chocolate Avocado Mousse avocados
Vegan chocolate avocado mousse – start with ripe avocados

Tips for Making Vegan Chocolate Avocado Mousse

Start with ripe avocados. You know the joke about avocados…you wait for them to ripen and then suddenly, they’re overripe.

You want ripe avocados for this mousse recipe. The outer skin appears dark, black almost, and the fruit feels soft and gives to pressure, when the avocado is perfectly ripe.

Using a knife, cut through the skin of the fruit from end to end, on both sides of the fruit, and separate into two halves. Remove the large pit. Using a spoon, scoop out the soft flesh inside.

Use freshly cut avocado right away, as oxygen causes the fruit to oxidize and turn brown. When making the mousse, I cut the avocado last, right before adding it to the blender.

Vegan Chocolate Avocado Mousse half
Vegan chocolate avocado mousse – a freshly scooped half
Vegan Chocolate Avocado Mousse

Vegan Chocolate Avocado Mousse

This creamy, healthy dessert comes together in minutes
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 10 mins
Chilling Time 1 hr
Total Time 1 hr 10 mins
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 4 servings

Ingredients
  

  • 3 ripe avocados
  • 1/4 cup plant based milk
  • 6 tbsp pure maple syrup
  • 3 tbsp cocoa powder
  • dash sea salt

Instructions
 

  • Halve avocados, remove pits and scoop out flesh. Combine with remaining ingredients in a blender.
  • Blend on high speed for 30 seconds. Stop and scrape down sides. Repeat two more times. After scraping down the third time, blend on high for 60 seconds.
  • Scoop mousse into four dessert cups. Cover and chill for at least an hour. To serve, top with fresh berries or fruit.
Keyword Avocado, Chocolate, Mousse, Vegan

 

Vegan Chocolate Avocado Mousse blender
Ingredients for Vegan Chocolate Avocado Mousse in the blender.
Vegan Chocolate Avocado Mouse ready to chill
Vegan chocolate avocado mousse – ready to chill

Enjoying This Dessert

It only takes a few minutes to create this dessert. While dinner simmers on the stove, there’s plenty of time to blend the mousse and pop it into the refrigerator to chill. The smooth and creamy pudding-like dessert is ready to eat fresh from the blender. It thickens up immediately. However, I love the mousse chilled.

When serving, top with fresh berries such as blueberries and sliced strawberries. Raspberries or blackberries make excellent toppings as well. Or add a dollop of whipped coconut milk, chopped nuts or a sprinkle of unsweetened shredded coconut.

Then enjoy. Vegan chocolate avocado mousse is the perfect end to a meal. And it makes a pretty little “fancy” dessert for guests or for a special occasion such as a birthday or anniversary meal.

Have you tried chocolate avocado mousse? Is there another avocado recipe that you enjoy? Share with me your favorites in the comments below.

Vegan Chocolate Avocado Mousse
Vegan chocolate avocado mousse, ready to enjoy.

Cooking finds from Amazon:

 


 

Journey With Healthy Me is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. This affiliate program provides a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com, all at no extra cost to you.

Thrive Through Powerful Nutrition Habits

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my Disclosure Policy for details.

March is National Nutrition Month, a yearly campaign created by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. The month presents the perfect opportunity for learning to make better food choices and for developing healthy eating habits. The theme this year is Personalize Your Plate.

What fun this month. creating a four week series with a focus on nutrition. Check out the previous posts:

Eat a Variety of Nutritious Foods

Shopping for Nutritious Foods

Creating Highly Nutritious Meals

After laying a strong nutritional foundation and offering peeks into how easy it is to create healthy habits, this week presents tips to keep it all going. Check out the last post in the series, Thrive Through Powerful Nutrition Habits.

Thrive Through Powerful Nutrition Habits

Thrive Though Powerful Nutrition Habits

Thrive means to grow vigorously, to flourish and prosper. I chose the word intentionally, for with these nutrition habits it is possible to thrive at a high level. And don’t we want to thrive and live the best lives possible, rather than survive, which carries the connotation of just getting by.

During the last few weeks I shared how important it is to fuel our bodies with the highest levels of nutrition. Using the list of nutrient dense foods that I put together, I created a meal plan and then shopped for those foods. And finally, last week, I posted seven days worth of meals. A week beyond and I’m still preparing delicious, healthy meals from that one shopping trip.

The tips below are grouped around the activities from the previous weeks. Plus I’m offering suggestions for eating healthy away from home.

Tips for Choosing Highly Nutritious Foods

You already have the list of the foods that best energize the body and keep it healthy. In addition, try these tips:

  • healthy eating depends on one thing…making daily choices. Choose wisely and with the knowledge of what healthy foods do for the body, and what unhealthy foods do as well. The healthier the choices initially, the easier it gets to choose the next day…and the next.
  • try new foods. If you eat the same three vegetables every week, try something different. And know that foods you disliked as a child may taste wonderful to you now. I disliked radishes as a child. Now I love them.
  • consistently add more fruits and veggies to your diet. Fill at least half of your plate with them.
  • take advantage of seasonal produce. Fruits and veggies are plentiful and so full of flavor when it is their season.
  • visit your local farmer’s market for freshly grown produce, much of it organic. Or enjoy picking fruit at a “pick your own” farm.
  • grow your own vegetables. Gardening is a great family project. And kids often enjoy eating veggies they grow.
Thrive Through Powerful Nutrition Habits radish
Thrive through powerful nutrition habits – try new foods

Tips for Shopping for Highly Nutritious Foods

When heading to the grocery store, keep these tips in mind:

  • create a meal plan and then shop for it. This prevents overbuying foods you can’t use in a week or getting home and then trying to decide what to do with your food!
  • shop in the fresh produce section first. As you can see from my shopping trip, the majority of foods came from the fresh produce department.
  • buy organic when you can. These foods are free from pesticides, chemicals and additives. They also contain more antioxidants than conventionally grown produce.
  • wash fresh produce at home, before using, especially if it is not organic. I use Seventh Generation dish washing liquid and then rinse thoroughly. You can also add a few drops of lemon essential oil to a container of water and let produce soak for half an hour. Rinse well.
  • when shopping for the healthiest ingredients for your meals, avoid processed foods as much as possible. You don’t need all the added preservatives and chemicals.
Thrive Through Powerful Nutrition Habits natural grocers
Thrive through powerful nutrition habits – a favorite store for purchasing organic produce, Natural Grocers

Tips for Creating Highly Nutritious Meals

  • start with a meal plan…five small meals in a day or three meals and two healthy snacks. It’s essential to know what meals you are creating so you know what foods to purchase. Meal planning is what you make it…fun and interesting or tedious and boring. CHOOSE to make it fun by adding variety to your weekly meals.
  • with a written meal plan, create multiple meals using the same ingredients, combined in different ways. For example, that head of cauliflower that I purchased contributed to a steamed veggie bowl, to stir fries and to a chopped veggie salad.
  • cook enough for leftovers or use food remaining after a meal creatively the next day. Cooked brown rice, stored in the fridge, is useful for so many meals. Leftover cooked veggies, combined with brown rice and a homemade sauce makes a great lunch.
  • use Sunday afternoons for food prep, so that meals come together quickly during the week. Wash and chop veggies for a huge salad. Clean and cut berries or other fruit and keep in the fridge. Chop onions, celery, peppers and other foods for stir fries and keep chilled.
  • for convenience, use a pressure pot, also known as an instant pot, a slow cooker or an air fryer for creating flavorful, nutritious meals. I love my pressure cooker. It works as a steamer too.
  • be creative. Try new recipes. Check Pinterest for ideas. Just type what you are looking for in the search bar.
  • when enjoying your meals or snack, focus on that food, rather than eating mindlessly. Feel gratitude for the nutrients the food provides.
Thrive Through Powerful Nutrition Habits cauliflower
Thrive through powerful nutrition habits – create multiple meals using similar ingredients

Tips for Eating Nutritious Foods on the Go

While eating at home provides control over what foods we create meals with, eating out feels different. To take the stress out of eating away from home, and maintain nutritious habits, try these tips:

  • make healthy choices. It comes back to this, always, no matter what. You get to choose what you put into your body.
  • in restaurants, don’t hesitate to ask how food is prepared. I typically order plain veggies or a plain salad, without the extras like butter, cheese, egg, etc. If eating out with other people, let them know you want to make healthy choices and help pick a restaurant that everyone is happy with.
  • pack snacks for road trips, playtime at the park, hikes in nature or birthday parties. Having healthy choices helps prevent eating something you’ll regret later.
  • bring your own food to family gatherings or holiday meals. I do. It may seem strange at first, however my family is used to me bringing plant based dishes to Thanksgiving or Christmas gatherings. I either pre-cook food and bring it ready to eat or tote in the ingredients and prepare my meal there.
  • when flying, request vegan meals at the time of ticket purchase. This must be done in advance. I’ve traveled in four European countries without any problems finding vegan meal options at restaurants.
  • if possible, stay in accommodations with a kitchen so you can prepare your own meals. I’ve done this multiple times and it saves money as well.
Thrive Through Powerful Nutrition Habits thanksgiving dinner
Thrive through powerful nutrition habits – prepare you own meals at family gatherings. My Thanksgiving meal with vegan mashed potatoes and gravy, roasted veggies and cranberries.

The Nutrition Challenge

I hope you enjoyed this nutrition series. I’ve heard from many of you, saying you appreciated seeing what foods I select and shop for and what my meals look like.

I’d love to see what nutritious foods YOU select and shop for and what YOUR meals look like.

Consider this a Nutrition Challenge. If you accept, please write a blog post or social media post and tag me or send me the link, so I can be inspired.

I’m Journey With Healthy Me on Instagram and Facebook. I’d love to connect with you on those platforms, if we aren’t connected already. Or send me your links in the comments below. You may also email me through my contact form at the end of the post.

I have two missions in life: to encourage people to be healthy at every age and to inspire people to live life beyond the edges of fears, comfort zones and limiting beliefs. The latter is the focus of Cindy Goes Beyond, my other blog. Here at Journey, may you find the inspiration and encouragement you need to live your healthiest, best life.

Thrive Through Powerful Nutrition Habits potpie soup
Pot pie soup

 

Create Nutritious Meals with These Helps

 


 

Journey With Healthy Me is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. This affiliate program provides a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com, all at no extra cost to you.

Creating Highly Nutritious Meals

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my Disclosure Policy for details.

March is National Nutrition Month, a yearly campaign created by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. The month presents the perfect opportunity for learning to make better food choices and for developing healthy eating habits. The theme this year is Personalize Your Plate.

In recognition of National Nutrition Month, I created a four week series. Week One, I posted Eat a Variety of Nutritious Foods. It shares the benefits of eating highly nutritious food. Find the list of foods that I selected on that post.

Week Two, Shopping for Nutritious Food, serves as the bridge between knowing what to eat and preparing delicious, highly nutritious meals. I shopped at Aldi Grocery Store for nutritious food, using the previous week’s list as my guide.

This week, you get a peek at the results, with Creating Highly Nutritious Meals. And finally, next week, is Thrive Through Powerful Nutrition Habits.

Creating Highly Nutritious Meals title meme

Putting the Pieces Together

Shortly before becoming plant based, I shared with others a desire to cook more at home. Cooking is a way to express creativity and I felt drawn to that.

Little did I know that embracing a plant based lifestyle would open that door to fulfilling my desire.

It’s fun for me, creating highly nutritious meals. And crafting this series, I especially enjoyed this week’s meals based on the list of highly nutritious foods. It was like having all these pieces laid out before me and then putting them together to create beautiful, colorful works of art.

Creating Highly Nutritious Meals chopped salad
Creating highly nutritious meals – chopped salad containing a dozen veggies

Creating Highly Nutritious Meals

Using the foods from the Week One list, that I purchased at the Joplin Aldi Grocery Store during Week Two, I created seven days of meals. Here they are.

Day One

Breakfast – gluten free oats with berries and chia seeds. I discovered it’s easy to make oatmeal in the microwave. Add 1/2 cup of rolled oats, regular or gluten free, to a large mug or bowl. Pour 1 cup of water over the oats. Microwave for about 2 minutes. That’s it! I typically add a dash of sea salt and then top the oats with berries and chia seeds or bananas and walnuts.

Lunch – chopped salad. Check out how easy it is to create these amazing bowls of chopped veggies HERE.

Snack – 1/2 a sliced apple

Dinner – steamed Brussels sprouts, asparagus and cauliflower with a baked potato

Snack – Cara Cara orange

Creating Highly Nutritious Meals breakfast oats
Creating highly nutritious meals – breakfast oats with fresh berries and chia seeds
Creating Highly Nutritious Meals snack oranges
Creating highly nutritious meals – snack – Cara Cara orange
Creating Highly Nutritious Meals steamed veggies
Dinner – baked potato and steamed veggies

Day Two

Breakfast – fruit smoothie. I combine fresh bananas with frozen fruit and enough chilled filtered water to create a smooth blend.

Lunch – chopped salad with organic vegan tomato soup (from Pacifica)

Snack – handful of walnuts and cashews

Dinner – avocado and kale pasta (recipe below, adapted from Forks Over Knives)

Snack – apple slices

Creating Highly Nutritious Meals snack apple slices
Creating highly nutritious meals – snack apple slices
Creating Highly Nutritious Meals avocado and kale pasta
Avocado and kale pasta
Creating Highly Nutritious Meals avocado and kale pasta

Avocado and Kale Pasta

This creamy pasta dish comes together in minutes
5 from 4 votes
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Total Time 30 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 4 servings

Ingredients
  

  • 1 16 oz package of gluten free pasta
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 8 oz asparagus, cut into one inch pieces
  • 2 cups grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1 cup baby kale
  • 1 avocado, halved
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper

Instructions
 

  • Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain, reserving one cup of pasta cooking water. Return pasta to pot.
  • In a large skillet, saute asparagus and tomatoes in olive oil.
  • In blender, combine remaining ingredients, through crushed red pepper. Cover and blend until creamy, adding 1/2 to 1 cup of reserved pasta cooking water to make a smooth sauce.
  • Add sauce and sauted asparagus and tomatoes to pasta. Gently toss to combine. Season with sea salt and fresh or dried dill, if desired. Makes four servings.
Keyword Asparagus, Avocado, Gluten Free Pasta, Kale

Day Three

Breakfast – fruit smoothie

Lunch – vegan tostadas (we ended up enjoying an afternoon out and had a fabulous lunch at the vegan restaurant The Veggie Table.

Snack – handful of walnuts and cashews

Dinner – avocado and kale pasta (leftovers)

Snack – apple slices

Creating Highly Nutritious Meals breakfast smoothie
Creating highly nutritious meals – breakfast smoothie
Vegan Tostadas from The Veggie Table
Vegan Tostadas from The Veggie Table.
Creating Highly Nutritious Meals snack nuts
Creating highly nutritious meals – snack – walnuts and cashews

Day Four

Breakfast – gluten free oats with sliced bananas and walnuts

Lunch – stir fried brown rice and veggies. This is a great way to use left over brown rice and an assortment of fresh or cooked veggies. I saute the veggies together, add the brown rice and a sauce made from 2 tbsp Bragg liquid aminos (soy sauce substitute), 1 tsp toasted sesame oil and 1 tsp fresh or powdered ginger. This lunch stir fry contained at least a dozen veggies.

Snack – skipped due a larger than normal lunch

Dinner – red lentil and sweet potato curry (recipe below, adapted from Forks Over Knives) served with brown rice

Snack – apple slices

Creating Highly Nutritious Meals stir fry
Creating highly nutritious meals – stir fry brown rice and veggies
Creating Highly Nutritious Meals lentil and sweet potato curry
Red lentils and sweet potato curry over brown rice for dinner.
Creating Highly Nutritious Meals lentil and sweet potato curry

Red Lentils & Sweet Potato Curry

Prepare this savory curry in the slow cooker.
5 from 4 votes
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 5 hrs
Total Time 5 hrs 20 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine Indian
Servings 8 servings

Equipment

  • Slow Cooker

Ingredients
  

  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 4 1/2 cups sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 1 1/2 cups dry red lentils
  • 1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1 small can tomato paste
  • 1 small yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 small green bell pepper, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tsp fresh or dried ginger
  • 2 tsp curry powder
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
  • Hot cooked brown rice, couscous or quinoa

Instructions
 

  • Combine all ingredients in slow cooker along with 2 cups of water. Stir to combine.
  • Cover and cook on high heat 4 1/2 to 5 hours or on low heat 9 to 10 hours. Check for doneness after 4 1/2 hours (or 9 hours). Season with sea salt and black pepper, if desired. Serve over brown rice, couscous or quinoa. Makes 8 - 10 servings.
Keyword Curry, Red Lentils, Sweet Potatoes

Day Five

Breakfast – fruit smoothie

Lunch – leftover avocado and kale pasta with chopped salad

Snack – handful of walnuts and cashews

Dinner – red lentils and sweet potato curry with brown rice (leftovers)

Snack – Cara Cara orange

Creating Highly Nutritious Meals lunch avocado kale pasta and salad
Creating highly nutritious meals – the last of the avocado and kale pasta paired with a chopped salad

Day Six

Breakfast – oats with berries and chia seeds

Lunch – cup of red lentil curry (leftovers) topped with fresh kale. I failed to get a photo of this but I loved the added kale.

Snack – apple slices

Dinner – my parents took me out for a meal. I had rice noodles with vegetables

Snack – chocolate avocado mousse. This simple dessert is so easy to make. Combine in a blender 3 ripe avocadoes, halved, 3 tbsp cocoa powder, 1/4 cup plant based milk (I used unsweetened almond milk), 4 tbsp pure maple syrup and a dash of sea salt. Blend until creamy. Divide into four small dessert cups. Chill at least one hour. Top with fresh berries.

Creating Highly Nutritious Meals snack chocolate avocado mousse
Creating highly nutritious meals – snack – chocolate avocado mousse

Day Seven

Breakfast – fruit smoothie

Lunch – roasted potatoes and sweet potatoes with chopped salad. Recipe for roasted potatoes HERE.

Snack – Cara Cara orange

Dinner – navy beans, brown rice and kale. Recipe HERE.

Snack – chocolate avocado mousse with berries

Creating Highly Nutritious Meals lunch roasted potatoes
Creating highly nutritious meals – lunch – roasted potatoes and sweet potatoes with chopped salad
Creating Highly Nutritious Meals navy beans and kale
Creating highly nutritious meals – dinner – navy beans, brown rice and kale

Seven Days of Highly Nutritious Meals

After a week of delicious and healthy meals and snacks, I STILL have plenty of food remaining for several days worth of meals. I bought more bananas today and almond milk. That’s it.

As you noticed, I don’t mind eating left overs the next day. In fact, I love knowing I have food already prepared in the fridge. There’s still a large amount of red lentil and sweet potato curry to enjoy. I’ll need to make another batch of brown rice tomorrow, in the pressure pot.

Throughout the day I drink plenty of filtered water and at least one cup of herbal tea.

I hope this week of breakfasts, lunches, dinners and snacks shows you how easy and doable it is, creating highly nutritious meals. Truly, I love eating this way and my body and health show the benefits from it.

If you are not plant based, add in salmon or chicken. However, I encourage you to try meatless meals, and not just on Monday. The body thrives with this level of nutrition.

Next week I’ll share how to keep the good nutrition going, past the month of March!

Amazon Finds to Make Cooking Easier


Journey With Healthy Me is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. This affiliate program provides a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com, all at no extra cost to you.

 

 

 

Shopping for Nutritious Food

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my Disclosure Policy for details.

March is National Nutrition Month, a yearly campaign created by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. The month presents the perfect opportunity for learning to make better food choices and for developing healthy eating habits. The theme this year is Personalize Your Plate.

I created a month long series around National Nutrition Month. Last week I posted Eat a Variety of Nutritious Foods. It shares the benefits of eating highly nutritious food. Find the list of foods there.

This week is the bridge between knowing what to eat and preparing delicious, highly nutritious meals. I went shopping for nutritious food, using last week’s list as my guide. Next week, you get a peek at those daily meals and snacks. And finally, during week four, I’ll share tips for keeping the nutrition habit going.

Shopping for Nutritious Food title meme

Shopping for Nutritious Food

Using last week’s list of foods as a guide, I created seven days worth of meals. I plotted out breakfast, lunch, dinner and two snacks for each day. From the meal plan, which I’ll share next week, I wrote out a shopping list.

Although I initially intended to set a budget for groceries, I decided against that idea. I still shopped carefully, choosing my local Aldi store because of low prices yet high standards for produce and products.

I also appreciate that Aldi is dedicated to sustainable business practices while supplying quality foods at affordable prices. They have in place a doable plan for reducing their environmental impact including reducing packaging and moving to 100% reusable, recyclable or compostable packaging by 2025.

Aldi is eliminating styrofoam from packaging by the end of this year. And they’ve never offered single use plastic shopping bags at checkout. Shoppers may purchase or bring from home reusable bags, purchase brown paper bags or use the assortment of cardboard boxes that the store makes available.

Shopping for Nutritious Food Aldi
Shopping for nutritious food at Aldi.

The Grocery List

Today I shopped from my list and only deviated from it when I found a cream colored ceramic tea cannister for sale in the store. I unsuccessfully looked and looked for one recently and felt such delight today in finding the last one available in the store.

So that my shopping receipt accurately reflected what I spent on nutritious food, I bought the tea cannister separately.

Based on last week’s nutritious foods list, and the meals I planned around that list, here’s exactly what I purchased today:

Veggies

  • yellow onions – one bag of six
  • kale, chopped – one bag
  • leafy lettuce – one bunch
  • grape tomatoes – one package
  • baby portabella mushrooms – one package
  • radishes – one package
  • yellow, red and orange sweet peppers – one package
  • green bell peppers – three
  • sweet potatoes – one 3 lb bag
  • potatoes – one 10 lb bag
  • asparagus – one bunch
  • Brussels sprouts (fresh) – one package
  • celery – two bunches
  • cauliflower – one head
Shopping for Nutritious Food potatoes
Shopping for nutritious food – potatoes and onions

Fruits

  • bananas – one bunch of six bananas
  • apples – one 3 lb bag
  • Cara Cara oranges – one package of six oranges
  • blueberries – one carton
  • strawberries – one carton
  • avocadoes – three
  • frozen mixed fruit – one medium package
  • frozen strawberries and bananas – one large package
Shopping for Nutritious Food peppers
Shopping for nutritious food – peppers

Beans and Grains

  • canned black beans – one
  • brown rice and quinoa pasta – one package

Miscellaneous

  • vegetable broth – one carton
  • tomato paste – one small can
  • diced tomatoes – one can

On Hand at Home

I already had these items at home:

  • broccoli
  • lemon
  • dry navy beans
  • dry red lentils and dry brown lentils
  • brown rice
  • gluten free oats
  • walnuts
  • almond milk
  • sugar free peanut butter
  • olive oil
  • salsa
  • non GMO tortilla chips
  • assortment of spices, herbs, sea salt, black pepper
  • assortment of teas
Shopping for Nutritious Food gluten free pasta
Shopping for nutritious food – gluten free pasta

Amount Spent

The total for my shopping trip today…$63.20, including tax. This nutritious food will sustain and nourish two people for at least a week. The meal planning is for seven days however some of the items will last longer than that.

For seven breakfasts, lunches and dinners, for two people, that’s about $1.50 per meal. It’s actually less than that when I factor in two snacks per day, for two people as well.

Shopping for Nutritious Food amount
Amount spent, shopping for nutritious food

Next Week – Nutritious Meals

I bought everything on my shopping list at Aldi this morning. Typically I shop at three different stores: Natural Grocers, Walmart Market and Aldi. Today other shopping excursions were not required.

Tomorrow is Day One of seven days of nutritious meals. Next Wednesday, which is Day Seven, I’ll share those daily meals in another blog post.

I’m excited to show the variety that is possible when eating highly nutritious food. Stay tuned!

Shopping for Nutritious Food week of food
What a week of nutritious food looks like.

Cooking Helps from Amazon:

 


 

Journey With Healthy Me is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. This affiliate program provides a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com, all at no extra cost to you.

 

 

Eat a Variety of Nutritious Foods

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my Disclosure Policy for details.

March is National Nutrition Month, a yearly campaign created by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. What a great opportunity to make better food choices and to develop healthy eating habits. The theme this year is Personalize Your Plate.

The month presents an excellent opportunity as well to me as a health blogger. Because I post in Journey once a week, the month long event breaks down naturally into four connected posts.

This week I lead off with Eat a Variety of Nutritious Foods. I provide a sampling of the best, most nutritious foods to add to your shopping list.

The rest of the month looks like this:

Eat a Variety of Nutritious Foods title meme

Eat a Variety of Nutritious Foods

This week’s goal focuses on encouraging better food choices. The typical American diet includes high levels of sugar, fats, meats, eggs, cheese and processed foods. Additionally, we often sacrifice nutrition for convenience by stopping for fast food on the way home after a busy day.

And yet, nutrition is extremely important. What we put into our bodies, fuels our bodies. Highly nutritious foods helps the body and all its systems function better and maintain health. Poor quality foods contribute to the breaking down of the body and its systems, creating diseases and disorders.

We’d never put poor quality gasoline into our vehicles and expect them to operate well. And yet daily we consume low quality foods without a thought for how our bodies are affected by our choices.

I divided nutritious foods into categories. And, I am plant based. In good conscious I can’t recommend animal products. If you don’t feel ready to eliminate meat from your diet, include chicken or wild caught salmon in several meals during the week. I highly encourage you to go meatless as often as possible. Eggs feed viruses while dairy products create inflammation in the body and increase mucous production.

Veggies

A diet rich in vegetables lowers blood pressure, reduces the risk of heart disease and strokes, prevents some types of cancer, eases digestive problems and improves eye health. Vegetables provide fiber, valuable vitamins and minerals, colors, textures and flavors. They are low in calories, sodium and cholesterol. Their antioxidants combat inflammation and diseases.

Choose from the following vegetables:

  • dark, leafy greens such as spinach and kale
  • potatoes and sweet potatoes
  • radishes
  • mushrooms
  • cruciferous veggies such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower and cabbage
  • celery
  • onions and garlic
  • peppers – green, red, yellow and orange
  • asparagus
  • cucumbers
  • radishes
Eat a Variety of Nutritious Foods veggies
Eat a variety of nutritious foods – veggies

Fruits

In recent years, people feared eating much fruit, due to the misconception that the sugar in fruit is the same as refined sugar. It’s not. The natural fructose and glucose found in fruit are different from refined sugar and high fructose corn syrup.

Fruit digests quickly. And like veggies, fruit is an excellent source of vitamins and minerals, fiber, antioxidants and flavonoids. A diet high in fruit reduces the risk of heart disease, cancer, inflammation and diabetes. Fruit fights disease. They make great snacks instead of cookies, chips or fast food.

Choose from the following fruits:

  • bananas
  • apples
  • melons
  • berries such as blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, cranberries and blackberries
  • cherries
  • avocadoes
  • kiwis
  • figs
  • dates
  • grapes
  • lemons and limes
  • oranges and tangerines
  • mangoes
  • papayas
  • pears
  • pomegranates
Eat a Variety of Nutritious Foods fruit
Eat a variety of nutritious foods – fruits

Legumes

Legumes of all kinds provide necessary fiber, protein, B vitamins, folate, calcium and zinc. They are low fat.  Beans are similar to meat, nutrition wise, without the saturated fats.

Legumes reduce the risk of heart disease and lower cholesterol levels. They also help lower blood pressure and triglycerides.

Choose from the following legumes:

  • chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans
  • lentils
  • peas
  • kidney beans
  • black beans
  • pinto beans
  • navy beans
  • black eyed peas
  • purple hull beans
Eat a Variety of Nutritious Foods purple hull beans
Eat a variety of nutritious foods – purple hull beans

Nuts and Seeds

Nuts and seeds provide fiber, vitamins, protein, healthy fats including omega-3s, iron, zinc and niacin.

These small powerhouses are rich in antioxidants that prevent cell damage and reduce the risks for inflammation and disease. They help lower cholesterol and triglycerides and blood sugar levels.

Choose from these nuts and seeds:

  • almonds
  • walnuts
  • cashews
  • pumpkins seeds
  • chia seeds
Eat a Variety of Nutritious Foods walnuts
Eat a variety of nutritious foods – walnuts

Grains

Grains are a bit trickier. Some people, like me, don’t tolerate wheat and other grains containing gluten. Include wheat, cautiously, if you don’t show symptoms of gluten intolerance.

Healthy grains provide important nutrients, fiber and B vitamins. They improve heart health, lower the risk of strokes, support healthy digestion, help maintain weight and reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes.

Pastas made from brown rice are a healthy alternative to wheat pastas.

Choose from the following grains:

  • oats
  • brown rice
  • quinoa
Eat a Variety of Nutritious Foods oats
Eat a variety of nutritious foods – oats

Herbs and Spices

Herbs and spices provide valuable nutrients, antioxidants and health benefits. Use aromatic herbs and spices for cooking. The rest make excellent health boosting teas. Herbs and spices lower the risk for heart disease, certain cancers and diabetes. They contain anti-inflammatory and anti-tumor properties.

Choose from the following herbs and spices:

  • aromatic herbs including thyme, rosemary, basil, bay leaf, sage and oregano
  • cilantro
  • turmeric
  • ginger
  • cat’s claw
  • nettle leaf
  • lemon balm
  • rose hips
Eat a Variety of Nutritious Foods sage
Eat a variety of nutritious foods – sage

Create Your Shopping List

As you plan meals for next week, choose from the list of highly nutritious foods and include as many as possible. Concentrate on veggies and fruits first and then add in legumes, grains, herbs, nuts and seeds.

As I plan my meals for next week, I am doing the same, incorporating as many of the listed foods as possible.

Watch for next week’s post of the shopping trip to see which foods I purchase for the meals for week three.

Let’s eat healthier, together!

Eat a Variety of Nutritious Foods meal prep
Kale, navy beans, brown rice and onion.

 

Find these herbs at Amazon:

 


 

 

Journey With Healthy Me is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. This affiliate program provides a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com, all at no extra cost to you.

I am not a medical practitioner. I study health and wellness related topics and share experiences from my own personal healing journey.

 

 

Heart Healthy Snacks

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my Disclosure Policy for details.

During American Heart Month in February, I’ve focused on posts that promote cardiovascular health. Heart Health Tips offers simple and yet important ways to take care of the heart. Lemon Blueberry Baked Oats provides an easy to prepare recipe featuring a food that supports heart health. And Eight Ways Kindness Boosts Health shows that practicing kindness is good for health, including the cardiovascular system.

Today’s post lists suggestions for heart healthy snacks. Doctors agree that a plant based lifestyle and the Mediterranean diet both support heart health. These diets…or a combination of the two…decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease and offer protection for the heart.

When thinking about the best heart healthy snacks, focus on these three vital factors: fiber, unsaturated fatty acids or omega-3s and antioxidants.

Heart Healthy Snacks title meme

Apples + Unsweetened Nut Butter

High fiber fruits like apples, paired with a no sugar added nut butter, checks all the boxes for heart friendly nutrients and antioxidants. Choose a red skinned apple for even more benefits and leave the peeling on.

Apples offer bioactive polyphenols and soluable fiber that’s proven to boost cardiovascular health. Skip nut butters loaded with sugar. Instead, choose a natural peanut butter, such as Crazy Richard’s. Or look for no sugar added almond or cashew butter.

Heart Healthy Snacks apples
Heart healthy snacks – apples with cashew butter

Hummus + Crunchy Veggies

Traditionally made from chickpeas, delicious creamy hummus provides antioxidants that protect the heart and blood vessels.

Create a snack or a meal from hummus and crunchy, fiber rich vegetables such as celery, carrots, red, orange, yellow or green sweet peppers and cucumbers. These veggies add vitamins A and C to the diet along with more antioxidants.

Heart Healthy Snacks hummus
Heart healthy snacks – hummus with crunchy veggies

Avocado Toast + Fruit

Considered a fruit, rather than a vegetable, avocadoes are a rich source of good-for-you fatty acids and anti-inflammatory compounds that help thin the blood naturally.

Top multi-grain, gluten free toast with sliced or mashed avocado. Eat along with fresh berries, apple or orange slices or chunks of melon. Berries are full of antioxidants and plant compounds that protect heart valves and ventricles and dissolve plaque within veins and arteries.

Heart Healthy Snacks avocado toast
Heart healthy snacks – avocado toast with fruit

Non GMO Popcorn + Turmeric

Popcorn is a fiber rich snack option. Just look for non GMO varieties to reduce the risk of inflammation. Create a healthy twist on this traditional snack by sprinkling on the powerful healing spice turmeric.

Due to its anti-inflammatory properties, turmeric’s curcumin protects the whole cardiovascular system. Plus it lowers bad cholesterol while raising the good.

Heart Healthy Snacks popcorn
Heart healthy snacks – non GMO popcorn and turmeric

Nuts or Seeds + Raisins or Dried Cranberries

Nuts and seeds contain fiber, omega-3s and antioxidants, making them excellent for heart health. Create your own trail mix by combining a variety of unsalted seeds such as pumpkin, sunflower, hemp or chia and nuts such as almonds or walnuts with unsweetened dried coconut, raisins or dried cranberries.

Raisins, which are dried grapes, provide iron and polyphenals that benefit the heart. Dried cranberries are high in antioxidants that heal cardiovascular disease and arteriosclerosis.

Heart Healthy Snacks nuts and raisins
Heart healthy snacks – nuts, seeds, raisins and dried cranberries

Frozen Banana Dessert

Also called Banana Nice Dream, create this snack using ripe, frozen bananas. Blend in a high speed blender until the frozen banana chunks become a smooth and creamy “ice cream”. Bananas offer fiber, antioxidants and nutrients that boost heart health.

Add frozen wild blueberries or frozen grapes to create fun variations of this yummy dessert. Or top the treat with fresh berries.

Heart Healthy Snacks banana nice dream
Heart healthy snacks – frozen banana dessert

Chia Pudding + Berries

Chia seeds are an excellent source of protein, vitamins E and B complex, and minerals such as calcium, magnesium, zinc and iron. They are higher in omega-3 fatty acids than any other food and especially beneficial for chronic inflammation and heart disease.

Chia pudding is so simple to make. Combine 1 cup dairy free milk, such as almond milk, with 1/4 cup of chia seeds in a mason jar or container with a lid. Cover and chill overnight in the refrigerator. Add berries, nuts or sliced fruit and enjoy.

Heart Healthy Snacks chia pudding
Heart healthy snacks – chia pudding with berries

Oatmeal + Fruit + Nuts

No longer just for breakfast, oatmeal is a fiber rich food long promoted for its heart health benefits. Oats lower bad cholesterol and protect the heart against oxidation.

Make overnight oats and enjoy for breakfast or for an anytime snack. Combine in a small mason jar:

  • 1/3 cup gluten free oats
  • 1/4 cup chopped nuts
  • 1/3 cup dairy free milk, such as almond or coconut milk
  • 1/3 cup dairy free plain yogurt, such as coconut milk yogurt
  • fresh fruit of choice…berries make an excellent addition
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • add 1/4 tsp cinnamon if desired

Cover jar and place in the refrigerator the night before. Open and eat right from the jar the next morning.

Heart Healthy Snacks oatmeal
Heart healthy snacks – oatmeal

Sweet Potato Fries + Avocado Dip

This superfood offers an abundance of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that nourish the body and protect the heart. Try sweet potatoes as a heart healthy snack by slicing them into a bowl and adding a small amount of olive oil,  a teaspoon of onion powder, a teaspoon of garlic powder, a teaspoon of paprika and dashes of sea salt and black pepper. Coat fries then place in a single layer on a parchment paper covered cookie sheet. Bake at 400 degrees for 40 minutes, turning fries halfway through baking time.

Enjoy sweet potato fries with this easy avocado dip. Combine in a blender 1 ripe avocado, 2 garlic cloves, minced, 1/4 cup plain non dairy yogurt, 1 tablespoon lemon juice and sea salt and black pepper to taste. Blend until smooth and serve immediately.

Heart Healthy Snack sweet potato fries
Heart healthy snacks – sweet potato fries

Make Snacks Count

The next time you head to the kitchen, hungry for a snack, make the conscious choice to make the snack count. Rather than mindlessly eating, intentionally create snacks that boost heart health and contribute to overall wellness.

Did you discover a new snack to try?

Heart Healthy Snacks smoothie bowl
Heart healthy snack – bonus snack…smoothie bowl with fruit, nuts and chia seeds

Heart Healthy Amazon Finds:

 


 

Journey With Healthy Me is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. This affiliate program provides a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com, all at no extra cost to you.

I am not a medical practitioner. I study health and wellness related topics and share experiences from my own personal healing journey.

 

Eight Ways Kindness Boosts Health

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my Disclosure Policy for details.

February 17 is Random Acts of Kindness Day, a holiday created to encourage all of us to show kindness to others. When we practice kindness, we display the qualities of friendliness, generosity, empathy and compassion.

There’s evidence that kindness not only benefits the receiver, it brings benefits to the giver as well.

Kindness and empathy help us relate to other people and develop positive connections with family, friends, pets and even strangers that we encounter. Besides improving personal relationships, kindness can actually make us healthier.

Check out these eight ways kindness boosts health.

Eight Ways Kindness Boosts Health title meme

Kindness Releases Serotonin

Acts of kindness release serotonin, the “feel good” hormone. Serotonin does amazing things for the body. It stabilizes mood and produces feelings of wellbeing and happiness. Serotonin helps brain cells and central nervous system cells communicate with each other. Additionally, it aids sleeping, eating and digestion.

Eight Ways Kindness Boosts Health releases serotonin
Eight ways kindness boosts health – releases serotonin

Kindness Eases Anxiety

Occasional anxiety isn’t harmful. It can help us meet a deadline or prepare the body for action with a flight or fight response. However, chronic anxiety causes feelings of doom, panic attacks, depression, headaches, breathing disorders, irritability and muscles aches and pains.

Kindness helps ease anxiety by focusing on others rather than ourselves. When we help others, even in small ways, the “thinking” side of the brain takes a break and the creative side engages, which contributes to less anxiety and a calming of the body.

Eight Ways Kindness Boosts Health eases anxiety
Eight ways kindness boosts health – eases anxiety

Kindness Lowers Stress

Similarly, kindness lowers stress and the effects it has on the body. When we get outside of our own lives, by showing kindness to others, the body releases endorphins. These polypeptides made by the pituitary gland and central nervous system help the body relax. They reduce pain as well.

Helping others causes feelings of satisfaction, known as “helper’s high”, because of the pleasure effect associated with endorphins.

Eight Ways Kindness Boosts Health reduces stress
Eight ways kindness boosts health – reduces stress

Kindness Releases Oxytocin

Practicing kindness releases another powerful hormone, often referred to as the “love hormone”. Oxytocin is a neurotransmitter as well, associated with empathy, trust, sensuality and relationship building.

Oxytocin benefits heart health by lowering blood pressure and expanding blood vessels. And, studies show that oxytocin is addictive. Once the body finds a source for it, it does not forget. When practicing kindness releases oxytocin and we feel good as a result, we are encouraged to do it again…and again. Kindness is a wonderfully addictive habit to acquire.

Eight Ways Kindness Boosts Health heart health
Eight ways kindness boosts health – heart health

Kindness Lowers Inflammation

Inflammation is the body’s natural response to an invader, such as bacteria or an infection. However, chronic inflammation is a major contributor to poor health. It leads to diabetes, cancer, pain, obesity, migraines, rheumatoid arthritis and a category of diseases known as autoimmune disorders.

The oxytocin produced as a result of kindness lowers inflammation throughout the body, which helps prevent diseases.

Eight Ways Kindness Boosts Health lowers inflammation
Eight ways kindness boosts health – lowers inflammation

Kindness Prolongs Life

Amazingly, kindness creates longevity by strengthening relationships. Those healthy relationships contribute to a positive mental outlook and improved heart health, which in turn lead to a longer, happier life.

Studies show that we have a 24% lower risk of early death when we practice kindness toward others and volunteer our time and skills to benefit others.

Eight Ways Kindness Boosts Health longevity
Eight ways kindness boosts health – longevity

Kindness Returns to Us

Although this benefit may seem way “out there” to some, I can personally attest to the truth of it. Kindness sent out, returns to the sender. Kindness is often likened to the waves that ripple outward, when a pebble is dropped into water. Those waves continue on, as energy. And eventually…or sometimes quickly…those waves come back to the sender.

Another way of thinking of it is this: we reap what we sow. When we plant seeds of kindness, kindness grows and we harvest the blessings of it. When we plant seeds of discord or unkindness, that’s what grows and we harvest that whether we want to or not.

I’ve experienced this phenomenon so many times, and I’ll bet you have too. I let a car cut in front of me, in a line of traffic. And a short time later, a car gives me the same grace. Or, I practice random kindness to a stranger and then a stranger shows kindness to me. These experiences build trust and deepen feelings of wellbeing, which brings to us all the other benefits listed here.

Eight Ways Kindness Boosts Health it comes back
Eight ways kindness boosts health – it comes back to the sender

Kindness Fosters Self Care

Practicing kindness can create a sense of purpose in life. And when we have a sense of purpose, when we enjoy what we do, we tend to take better care of ourselves. Kindness to others results in kindness to ourselves in the form of self care and preventative health care.

Eight Ways Kindness Boosts Health self kindness
Eight ways kindness boosts health – self care

Start a Kindness Habit

Rather than practice kindness for one day, consider these ways to start a kindness habit:

  • Keep a running list of people you know that might need assistance and ways you can help. Running errands for a shut-in, walking the neighbor’s dog, checking in on loved ones and sending encouraging texts to friends are all simple ways to help.
  • Raise your awareness throughout the day, watching for opportunities to offer kindness. Smile at people, even while wearing a mask during the pandemic. Your eyes convey the smile. Acknowledge people by thanking them for doing their jobs. Compliment others. When you look for ways to practice kindness, you’ll find them.
  • Keep a gratitude journal. Gratitude helps us think kind thoughts, about others, about ourselves, about circumstances.
  • Try a kindness challenge…for seven days, for 14 days, for 30 days. Every day do one random act of kindness. Go beyond your comfort zone. Have fun.

Practice kindness today. Practice kindness everyday. It’s good for others, good for the world and good for you.

Eight Ways Kindness Boosts Health be kind to all kinds
Be kind to all kinds.

Check out this inspiring book by David Hamilton, The Five Side Effects of Kindness.

 

Journey With Healthy Me is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. This affiliate program provides a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com, all at no extra cost to you.

I am not a medical practitioner. I study health and wellness related topics and share experiences from my own personal healing journey.

Lemon Blueberry Baked Oats

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my Disclosure Policy for details.

February is American Heart Month. It serves as a reminder to take care of our hearts by adopting proactive practices that prevent coronary disease. Check out Heart Health Tips, for ways you can live a healthier life.

Oats support heart health. They provide necessary fiber and reduce the risk of heart disease by lowering LDL cholesterol and protecting against oxidation.

I’ve eaten oatmeal since my childhood. Recently I upped my game. I tried overnight oats for the first time. And today, I made my first batch of baked oats. You will love this delicious lemon blueberry baked oats recipe. And it is plant based, of course!

Lemon Blueberry Baked Oats title meme

The Goodness of Oats

A bowl of hot oatmeal, on a frosty morning, starts the day right. However, I love variety and trying new things. Overnight oats offer convenience and endless possibilities. Click the link above for the basic recipe. Then create fun and flavorful overnight oats using different fruits and additions.

Baked oats offer even more options. And they are so good they double as breakfast or a healthy snack. I love blueberries, however substitute blackberries, strawberries or raspberries if desired. Or swap out the berries and lemon for diced apples and cinnamon.

I used gluten free oats. If you don’t have a gluten sensitivity, regular oats are fine. This recipe is vegan and refined sugar free. I adapted it from several recipes that I discovered online.

Lemon Blueberry Baked Oats ready to eat

Lemon Blueberry Baked Oats

This versatile recipe comes together in minutes and delivers a delicious flavor combo.
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 45 mins
Total Time 50 mins
Course Breakfast
Cuisine American
Servings 4 servings

Ingredients
  

  • 2 cups gluten free oats
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1/2 cup dairy free vanilla yogurt
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries or substitute frozen blueberries
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 4 tsp lemon extract
  • 4 tbsp pure maple syrup
  • 2 tsp baking powder

Instructions
 

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place oats in a bowl. Add boiling water and stir to combine. Allow oats to soak for two minutes.
  • Add remaining ingredients. Stir gently to combine. Spoon mixture into an 8X8 lightly greased baking dish.
  • Bake for 45 minutes, or until knife inserted in center comes out clean or mostly clean. Serve warm with a spoonful of dairy free yogurt. Store left overs in fridge and reheat or eat cold. Makes 4 servings.
Keyword Baked Oats, Blueberry, Lemon

 

Lemon Blueberry Baked Oats into the oven
Lemon Blueberry Baked Oats – ready to go into the oven

Tips for Making Lemon Blueberry Baked Oats

Oats are naturally gluten free. However, they are typically processed in facilities with other products that contain gluten. Look for packages of oats that specify gluten free, meaning they were prepped in a facility without contamination with other products.

Substitute frozen blueberries for fresh, if desired. Likewise, substitute fresh lemon zest for lemon extract. The lemon flavoring is subtle and pairs well with the semi-tart blueberries. Adjust maple syrup for more or less sweetness. I used four tablespoons, with a mildly sweet result. And I buy the Silk brand dairy free yogurt at my local Walmart neighborhood market.

Lemon Blueberry Baked Oats out of the oven
Fresh from the oven, lemon blueberry baked oats.

The Test Taste

I tested the recipe this afternoon, after lunch. Greg and I didn’t wait for breakfast time tomorrow. We chose to sample the lemon blueberry baked oats fresh from the oven. Greg added a dollop of frozen coconut whip to his bowl of baked oats and I spooned on a small amount of dairy free vanilla yogurt.

The recipe receives a thumbs up from both of us! It tastes as good as it smells, as it bakes. The texture is soft and slightly chewy with a hint of sweetness. And that lemon blueberry combo is perfect!

I know what’s for breakfast tomorrow. I’ll warm up the baked oats and savor them again. What a wonderful, healthy breakfast for cold winter mornings. I look forward to trying different versions such as apple cinnamon.

Have you made baked oats yet?

Lemon Blueberry Baked Oats spoonful of goodness
Lemon Blueberry Baked Oats – a spoonful of goodness

Find these ingredients at Amazon:

 


 

Journey With Healthy Me is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. This affiliate program provides a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com, all at no extra cost to you.