Grilled Figs and Eggplant Salad with Blackberry and Fig Dressing

Grilled Figs and Eggplant Salad with Blackberry and Fig DressingFigs are a fruit native to Italy and Greece. The fruit is available in both fresh and dried forms, and they offer a nutritional advantages due to their nutrient content.

Are you worried about the appearance of your skin? Figs are rich in nutrients that build and maintain healthy looking skin. The nutrients include B-complex, vitamin-C, phosphorus, potassium, calcium and magnesium, which are all essential nutrients for boosting and rejuvenating the skin’s health. Figs contain high amounts omega-3 fatty acids which helps to keep skin moisturized and conditioned.

Rubbing fresh figs on your face and allowing it to dry can help cure acne.

Fig leaves are also used is used for skin problems like eczema, psoriasis, and vitiligo (loss of pigment color). The milky sap from the tree is used to treat skin tumors and warts, when applied directly to the skin.

Research with the chemicals found in the leaves of the fig tree reports that a tea made from fig leaves could help use insulin more efficiently and reduce insulin requirements in people with type 1 diabetes. It also helps to lower blood sugar levels after eating (WebMD).

Let’s enjoy the healthy benefits of figs as well as their natural sweetness with our featured recipe: Grilled Figs and Eggplant Salad with Blackberry and Fig Dressing. Here is what you will need.

Bellas Blackberry and Fig Dressing6 black figs, stemmed , cut in half

1 small eggplant, sliced

1 cup fresh blackberries

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1/2 teaspoon Himalayan salt

4 cups mix tender leafy greens (can mix spring greens with some spicy greens)

1/2 cup goat cheese

1/3 cup pecan pieces

1 jar Bella’s Blackberry and Fig Balsamic Dressing (3 to 5 tablespoons each plated salad)

sliced eggplant and figsThe eggplant we used is a long narrow purple and white Asian eggplant. According to Grow Organic, they are a “new” eggplant on the garden scene, though it is a much older Asian variety. They are long and narrow, and come in a variety of colors including white, purple, magenta and green (Grow Organics).

Slice the eggplant into 1 inch slices, and cut the figs into two.

olive oil coated sliced eggplant and figsIn a large mixing bowl, add the oil, salt, and slice produce and toss until coated.

on the bbq - grilling eggplant and figs

bbq grilled eggplant and figsNext place a piece of tin foil on to a BBQ grill, and heat BBQ until hot.

Place figs and eggplant on to hot grill, and turn after 2 minuets.

After turning  you should hear the figs make a pop noise (skins are bursting slightly), about 1 minute, then remove from grill and set aside.

Grilled Figs and Eggplant Salad with Blackberry and Fig Dressing- detailed close upNext, per plate add two hand fulls of leafy greens. Top with grilled eggplant, figs and blackberries. Next sprinkle on cheese and nuts. Now splash 3 to 5 tablespoons of balsamic dressing (about 1/4 cup or 2 ounce). You can purchase the dressing at your favorite market if available, and if not, you can find it at the Whole Foods Market.

The number of eggplant and fig pieces, including berries you place on each plated salad will determine how many salads you will be preparing.

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Balsamic-Honey Glazed Chicken and Asparagus

Balsamic-Honey Glazed Chicken and AsparagusAbout 70 years ago, way before fast food restaurants opened up, one pot meals were popular. The reason being that the women worked long hours in the fields or in factory jobs, and were often too tired to make a complete meal for their family. So instead they made meals that were quick and easy to put together.

One pot meals are quick and easy to prepare and do not not require a lot of time in the kitchen. On many occasions these meals are enjoyed by family and friends, and always include foods that go well together, like pinto beans and rice, macaroni and cheese, and spaghetti and ground pork.

A true one pot dish is literally using one pot to cook all the ingredients at the same time. The one pot meal can also include using one pot to cook the ingredients separately, and then combining them together at the end of the preparation and cooking time. These type of one pot meals are also not time consuming.

Our featured dish: Balsamic-Honey Glazed Chicken and Asparagus is the later description of the one pot meal. Here is what you will need.

produce ingredients for Balsamic-Honey Glazed Chicken and Asparagus

1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp Italian dressing, your favorite, store bought or homemade

3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

2 tablespoons honey

1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 1/4 lbs chicken, sliced horizontally, and cut into 2 x 4 inch pieces

4 tablespoons olive oil

Salt and black pepper for seasoning

1 lb fresh asparagus, trimmed of tough ends, cut to 2-inch pieces (thinner stalks are the best to use, if you can find them)

1 1/2 cups rainbow matchstick carrots

1 cup grape tomatoes, mixed colors, halved

If you can not find rainbow matchstick carrots, then the orange ones are fine. We did take the time to make our own matchsticks using a red and yellow carrot with a julienne peeler.

In a large measuring cup, mix together dressing, balsamic vinegar, honey, and red pepper flakes, and set aside.

cooking chicken in a large skilletIn a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Season the chicken with a little salt and pepper, then place chicken evenly in skillet. Cook about 8 minutes, turning chicken pieces once halfway through cooking, until it has cooked through.

Add half the dressing mixture to skillet and rotate chicken to evenly coat. Transfer chicken to a large serving platter, and leave sauce in the skillet (if there is any).

cooking asparagus and carrots in a large skilletNext add the prepared asparagus and carrots to skillet, season with a little salt and pepper (optional), and cook, stirring frequently, until crisp tender, about 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer veggies to a serving platter with chicken.

Add remaining dressing mixture to skillet and cook, stirring constantly, until thickened, about 1 minute.

Balsamic-Honey Glazed Chicken and Asparagus - closer viewAdd tomatoes to vegetables and mix in. Drizzle dressing mixture in pan over top of chicken and vegetables or return chicken and vegetables to pan and toss to coat. Plate and serve.

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Organic Coconut Popcorn

Organic non-gmo tri-colored corn kernelsDo you know what’s in that bag of popcorn you put in the microwave? Are you ready for the answer?

1. Diacetyl: It is used a s a flavoring in microwave popcorn. It can obliterate the airways, and lungs if exposed to too much. It was used in World War I, to do exactly that. Factory works who are exposed to the chemical have irreversible lung damage.

Brown University documented three cases of bronchiolitis obliterans (caused by diacetyl) in microwave popcorn lovers. One man, 47, ate three bags a day, and needed a lung transplant. A 56 year old coughed up blood one day, and he ate 3 bags of microwave popcorn a day.

The University of Minnesota reported that the chemical diacetyl, can pass the blood-brain barrier, and weaken the brain’s defenses against the formation of amyloid plaques, causing Alzheimer’s.

2. Perfluorooctanoic Acid: Most manufacturer’s  line the microwave popcorn bags with perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) to keep grease from leaking out. When the bags are heated, they leach the PFOA into the popcorn.

3. Tertiary Butylhydroquinone (TBHQ): This chemical is made from butane, a known toxic gas. Medical studies have reported that just eating 1 gram could cause ADHD in children, asthma, allergies, dermatitis, and dizziness. It’s been associated with stomach cancer in laboratory animals.

Most of the corn in the U.S.A., about 86% is harvested from GMO seeds. We also noted, microwavable popcorn is not sold in health food stores. But you can buy lose non-gmo corn kernels, or in jars, and that brings us to our featured recipe: Organic Coconut Popcorn. Here is what you will need.

heating coconut oil

Heat 3 tablespoons of refined coconut oil in a 3 quart pan over medium heat. Let oil solids melt. From 1/3 cup of organic popcorn kernels, add 4 kernels to heated oil and cover pan with lid. When the kernels pop, remove pan from heat and add the 1/3 cup of kernels to pan in an even layer. Return lid to pan and count to 30. Return pan to heat and wait for kernels to start popping. Once they do, gently shake pan over heat. When you no longer hear any popping remove pan from heat and add popcorn to a serving bowl.

melting butterWith pan still hot, add organic pasture fed cows butter or organic virgin coconut oil, and melt. Next pour over popcorn and mix in. You can also add Himalayan salt, organic smoked paprika, or organic Parmesan cheese.

Organic Coconut Popcornpopcorn pan not burned using coconut oilFollow this method and ever kernel of popcorn will always pop evenly and not burn, not even the pan. You can never say that about those chemical filled microwave popcorn bags.

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Gluten Free BBQ Chicken Lasagna

Gluten Free BBQ Chicken Lasagna

Gluten Free BBQ Chicken Lasagna

Do you worry about weight gain? If your nutrition currently comprises of processed food products, like those that contain simple sugars and refined flour, changing to gluten free eating could help result in weight loss.

Even if you do not have celiac disease, but still experience bloating, vomiting, weight loss, constipation, chronic diarrhea and abdominal pain, and including sneezing, runny nose, headache, and moodiness after eating a product with gluten, then maybe you are allergic to it.

Are you an Autistic adult, have a autistic child? Then a gluten free diet would be to your advantage. Autism is known for causing communication difficulties and social impairments. It is believed that autism among other things, could involve the digestion of peptides, which are similar to proteins, making changes in your diet could help with autism treatment.

Even though evidence is inconclusive, many autistic adults and parents with children who are autistic have found that gluten free eating helps in controlling some behaviors linked to autism, and helping to manage the condition.

Medical science notes that while gluten consumption may not necessarily cause the disease, but it does inflame these conditions (celiac disease and autism) or contribute to flare-ups.

If you love pasta (which contains gluten), you can still enjoy it, eating gluten free. Give our featured recipe, Gluten Free BBQ Chicken Lasagna , and see for yourself.

Here is what you will need.

8 ounces lasagna noodles, gluten free (we used a no-boil ready to cook product)

1.5 pounds of shredded, cooked chicken

1/2 cup red onion, chopped

1.5 – 18 ounce bottles BBQ Sauce (without soy or canola oil or any gmo product)

15 ounce can black beans, rinsed

1 1/4 cup corn kernels, frozen

1/2 cup roasted red bell peppers, chopped

1 teaspoon chili powder

3 cups shredded Italian 3 cheeses

1/4 cup spring onions, diced

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

ingredient mix in a large bowlPrepare and add the chicken, red onion, spring onion, corn, black beans, and roasted red bell pepper to a large mixing bowl.

mixing in chili powder and BBQ sauceNext add chili powder and BBQ sauce, and mix until well incorporated.

coating bottom of pan with BBQ sauceNext coat the bottom of a 13×9 inch glass baking pan with some BBQ sauce. Now layer in some gluten free lasagna pasta. Next spoon on the chicken mixture, top with cheese, and continue with two more layers, finishing with a hefty layer of cheese.

Bake for 55 minutes in heated oven covered with foil, and then uncover and cook for an additional 5 minutes.

just out of the oven - Gluten Free BBQ Chicken LasagnaRemove from oven and let cool about 5 minutes.

Gluten Free BBQ Chicken Lasagna - detailed close upPlate and serve.

 

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The Broccoli – Essence of Real Food

The Broccoli – Essence of Real Food

The Broccoli – Essence of Real FoodWhen you were a youngster you probably didn’t see what was so great about broccoli. What you didn’t know then, but probably know now is that broccoli is the essence of real food, as it has been dubbed one of many, a super food.

The broccoli from top to bottom is overflowing with macro-nutrients, including vitamins and minerals that are needed for overall health and well-being. This vegetable has been around for millenniums, and has forever been used and viewed as the ideal go-to food.

It’s healthy, can be eaten in a number of different ways, comes with a variety of benefits, is easy to cook, and offers the body a boost of vitamins and minerals in every serving.

Continue reading to get an overall understanding of this vegetable, the essence of real food.

Understanding the Broccoli from Top to Bottom

Broccoli is an edible plant that closely resembles the cauliflower, and is associated to the cabbage family. It’s a vegetable that originated in Italy, and was first mentioned of about 2,000 years ago.

Due to the broccoli’s rich green color, and its counterpart the purple broccoli, both are high in antioxidants and macro-nutrients for excellent health.

Anatomy of the BroccoliAfter harvesting the broccoli plant and removing the root system, it contains three main parts:

  • Flowery Head
  • Leaves
  • Stalk

The root system of the broccoli plant needs nutrient rich soil in order to grow and support the plant and produce its vital vitamins and minerals.

Broccoli plants need to be watered often in order to keep the plant hydrated and well fed as it approaches maturity.

The leaves and stalk are lesser known parts of the broccoli plant because gardeners and farmers often discard these pieces at harvest. However, they are actually edible and highly nutritious.

Broccoli leaves can be long and thin or short and wide and grow along the stalk. They are often blue-green in color and thicken towards the head of the plant.

The crowning head is the part of the broccoli most familiar to people. Sometimes called the curd or the head, the top of the broccoli is most commonly eaten. This head is made of small, dense edible floral shoots. Usually, the head is harvested long before the shoots, or little florets open.

There are two cultivars of broccoli, purple and green, though the green shoots are most commonly cultivated by gardeners. The best environment for planting and harvesting broccoli,  is in full sun, with plenty of water, and nutrient rich soil.

Broccoli Rates High In Nutrition

broccoli head and leavesBroccoli is a great food to eat as it contains various nutrients that hold anti-cancer properties and support a strong, healthy immune system.

Broccoli is an essential source of energy, healthy complex carbohydrates, protein, and low in fat.

Nutrients: Broccoli contains vitamin-C and many of the B-vitamins, including thiamine, niacin, riboflavin and folate. It also has traces of calcium, iron, potassium, and phosphorous.

High Fiber: Need more fiber in your diet? Look no further as broccoli is high in fiber. The fiber in broccoli can help support heart health, lower LDL (bad) cholesterol and helps support healthy weight management because it is filling and low in calories.

How to Prepare Broccoli

Meat and Broccoli Stir-FryBroccoli can be steamed, boiled, microwaved, stir-fried, or eaten raw.

However, over cooking or boiling broccoli has been proven to reduce levels of anti-carcinogenic compounds present in the food. It is therefore best to steam it until it reaches a bright green color, but no longer.

Adding Broccoli to Your Diet

broccoli at the farmers marketAdding broccoli to your regular daily diet can help increase your overall health.

Have broccoli as a side dish at dinner, add broccoli to a salad for lunch, chopped broccoli with eggs or in an omelet for breakfast, and even eaten raw as a healthy snack is a great way to include this essence of real food to your diet (recommended not to eat raw if you have a low thyroid problem).

All parts of the broccoli can be juiced, as it makes a great addition to any green juice. Juice it along with kale, spinach, green apples, celery, cucumber, ginger and lemon.

You’re not a kid anymore, so enjoy the essence of real food. Enjoy eating broccoli.

Enjoy our recipe using broccoli: Chopped Broccoli Tomato and Bacon Salad (includes a video).

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Healthy Mouthwatering Lunch

Mushroom Tortellini with Asparagus

Mushroom Tortellini with Asparagus

The medical journal, “American Medical Association” publish  in 2010 based on a study that found vitamin B-6 when combined with folate ( not folac acid, the inferior form, a synthetic form) and methionine ( an amino acid, also found in meat, chicken, fish, eggs, garlic, onions, legums, and some dairy) can reduce the chances of lung cancer by as much as two-thirds. Asparagus contains both of these vitamins, and including the amino acid methionine.

More great news of the vegetable asparagus is it contains saponins which helps to fight inflammation, and can help with arthritis and rheumatism. It can also help to prevent varicose veins. Ayurvedic medicine has used asparagus for century’s to treat the symptoms of menopause as well as infertility and loss of libido (in both men and women).

The featured recipe also includes vitamins and minerals like vitamin-A, vitamin-C, calcium, and iron. It also has 18% of your daily need of protein 9 grams (daily protein need is 25 grams for woman and 30 grams for men).

Now for our featured recipe, and here is what you will need.

Mushroom Tortellini with Asparagus

1 package cheese tortellini

Pint of cream

¼ cup grated Asiago cheese

5 – 7 asparagus stalks

1 4 oz. can mushrooms

1 cup baby spinach

1/2 tsp. black pepper

 

Asparagus being blanched - Mushroom Tortellini with AsparagusBring a pot of water to boiling. Separately prepare a bowl of cold water with some ice.

Add salt to the boiling water and blanch the asparagus for 2 – 3 minutes until they just start to become tender.

Remove and add asparagus to the cold water to stop the cooking and set the color.

Remove to a paper towel to drain and dice into ½ inch pieces. You could do this ahead of time and keep the prepare asparagus in the refrigerator.

Next bring a pot of water to boil and the tortellini according to package instructions.

While cooking the pasta, heat a large sauté pot over medium heat and add 3/4 of the cream. While the cream is heating continue to stir and allow it to slow reduce, scrap sides of pot if needed.

When the cream has reduced by about 1/3 lower the heat and simmer, about 3 to 4 minutes.

Next add the asiago cheese to the cream, and turn the heat to high, stir in till cheese is melted. Add mushrooms and black pepper, and stir in.

Tortellini should be done now, so quickly drain and add to the cream along with the asparagus and toss to combine.

Place spinach on top of mixture and place a lid over pot, and allow spinach to wilt, about 4 minutes.

If you see the cream sauce to thick and would like it a bit thinner, just add a little more cream a tablespoon at a time till you see the thinness you desire.

Plate paste and garnish with cheese, if desired.

A great addition to this recipe would be roasted pine nuts. You can also 86 the mushrooms if you like, in other words delete them from the recipe (86 is a restaurant term for “out of product”, can also mean, “you’re out of here”).