Rearranging the foods you eat by adding more nutrient-rich products to your diet can drastically improve your health and longevity.
As a nutritionist, one of my favorite healthy foods that I always keep in my kitchen is a can of organic chickpeas with no salt (or low sodium). Chickpeas are a type of legume from the same family as kidney beans and peanuts. Sometimes referred to as chickpea beans, the most common chickpea is round in shape and beige in color, but other varieties are black, green, or red.
A staple in the Mediterranean diet, chickpeas are high in fiber and protein, both of which are necessary for bone, muscle, and skin health. (One cup of chickpeas has 12.5 grams of fiber and 14.5 grams of protein.)
Even longevity expert Dan Buettner agrees on the health benefits of chickpeas. Buettner, who coined the term “blue zones” – or places around the world where people live the longest – asked dozen of top nutritionists and food scientists what people should eat to live long and healthy lives. He found that among the most recommended foods, chickpeas stood out “like a flashing neon sign”.
Here are six easy, quick, and creative ways to incorporate chickpeas into your daily eating routine:
1. Swap croutons with roasted chickpeas in salads
This is a great way to add crunch, fiber, protein, and flavor to your bowl of veggies.
Roasted chickpeas are available at most grocery stores. However, you can also make them yourself at home by rinsing and drying canned chickpeas. (It helps to dab them between paper towels or clean tea towels.) Then add a few tablespoons of olive oil and toast them on a baking sheet at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for about 20 to 30 minutes, or until they turn crispy and golden brown.
If you want a stronger flavor, throw in spices like paprika, cumin, or black pepper.
2. Add chickpeas to smoothies for extra creaminess
The key to a filling smoothie is adding protein and healthy fats. So if you don’t have protein powder on hand, chickpeas are a great source of vegetable protein.
They also give your smoothie a nice fiber boost for a more balanced meal – and many of us are lacking enough fiber. A 2017 analysis in the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine found that 95% of Americans don’t consume enough fiber each day.
To make my chickpea smoothie, just mix almond milk, banana, chickpeas, dates and peanut butter together.
3. Enjoy no-bake chickpea cookie dumplings as snacks
Chickpea cookie dumplings are a perfect afternoon snack. It only takes a few minutes to create a whole supply that typically takes a week.
They contain protein and fiber, which is key to keeping me going until my next meal. They also prevent the blood sugar crashes that can result from eating snacks that are high in sugar.
In a food processor, combine drained and rinsed chickpeas, nut butter, oats and a sweetener of your choice (e.g. honey or maple syrup) and mix everything together until smooth. After mixing in some chocolate chips, use a spoon to scoop out about two tablespoons of batter and roll it into a bite-sized ball with your hands.
Keep everything in an airtight container.
4. Top pizza with grilled chickpeas
I love using grill-flavored chickpeas as a pizza topping. It’s an easy way to add both protein and flavor to any piece of savory cake.
Just mix your favorite barbecue sauce with chickpeas, stir to coat them evenly, then sprinkle on top for a savory topping.
5. Spread the chickpea puree on the avocado toast
One of my favorite dishes for a quick breakfast or lunch is chickpea and avocado toast.
It’s easy: mix some chickpeas with avocado and season them with spices (I like to add cumin powder and chili powder to mine), lemon juice, and coriander. Spread the mixture on wholemeal toast and top with a pinch of chilli flakes.
6. Chickpea pancakes for brunch
Using chickpeas instead of flour for pancakes is a total game changer.
You will need canned rinsed chickpeas, eggs, nut butter, baking soda, vanilla extract, and milk (you can use substitutes like oat or almond milk). Mix until the batter is smooth, then heat the pancakes on a frying pan and cook each side for a few minutes. Serve with your favorite fruit toppings!
Rahaf Al Bochi is a nutritionist and founder of Olive Tree Nutrition, a nutrition consulting company. It has been featured in numerous publications including CNN, US News & World Report, and HealthDay. Rahaf is also the recipient of the Georgia Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics 2020 Outstanding Service for the Media Award. Follow her on Twitter @OliveTreeRD.
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Lemon for Longevity, A Blue Zones Living Best Practice| Well+Good
GRowing in a Greek-American household, along with an abundance of extra virgin olive oil, Bergoregano, and fresh garlic, had another ingredient that was inevitably used in almost every dish and served with almost every meal – lemon. And by “used” I don’t mean just as a side dish or to finish off a dish, but eating lemon for a long life means making it a truly integral part by incorporating it in significant quantities and consuming it daily.
As a registered nutritionist, I began to wonder if this ubiquitous citrus is perhaps one of the main benefits of the Mediterranean diet – in addition to the good fats from olive oil and seafood and an abundance of vitamins and minerals from plant-based ingredients. In fact, the Mediterranean region, where lemons have the upper hand, is home to two of the five Blue Zones – the island of Ikaria in Greece and the island of Sardinia in Italy. Lemons are also listed as one of eight top fruits to consume as part of the Blue Zone diet. Read on to learn what makes lemons so good for us and how you can use them more in everyday cooking.
Lemon Health Benefits
First and foremost, lemons are a good source of vitamin C, containing about 50 percent of the recommended daily amount in a single lemon and about 20 percent of the recommended daily amount in just two tablespoons of lemon juice. As a powerful antioxidant, vitamin C supports the immune function and protects the skin against free radicals and visible signs of aging as well as sufficient moisture. Hello lemon water! And the power of lemons is not just in their juice.
In fact, most of the antioxidant flavonoids are found in the peel or whole fruit, not in the juice alone. Studies have shown that citrus flavonoids are cardioprotective by improving blood flow and lowering cholesterol, as well as improving glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity, suppressing inflammation, and having anti-carcinogenic benefits. Lemon polyphenols may also have antiaging benefits, according to a study published in the Nature Journal. The citric acid in lemons can also help prevent kidney stones from forming.
Lemons in everyday cooking
Lemon adds acidity, one of the most important flavor elements in a balanced dish. Much like salt, lemon often adds that little extra to make a dish complete. It turns food from matte to light, and also helps penetrate any greasy, rich flavor that can be overwhelming on its own, which is one of the reasons it goes so well with olive oil.
From sweet to savory, there are almost myriad ways to use lemons in everyday meals. Here are some of my favorites.
Lemon juice “the simple squeeze”
A generous fresh squeeze of lemon just before serving can be just the finishing touch it needs. Lemon juice can also be a great base for a light dressing, sauce, or marinade (the acid helps soften proteins) when paired with extra virgin olive oil and fresh or dried herbs.
Examples of when to reach for the lemon include adding it to a broth, green vegetables, lettuce greens (lemon and arugula is one of our favorite combinations), bean dishes including bean dips like hummus, fried potatoes, cooked fish, poultry, or even red meat, alongside many other everyday foods. Lemon juice can also be a great addition to a grain salad when paired with fresh herbs and on the ever-popular avocado toast.
And when it comes to drinks, adding a squirt of lemon to a green smoothie will help maintain the bright green color and add some extra flavor. And of course, fresh lemon water is still our favorite. Starting with a glass in the morning can be invigorating and provide a healthy dose of vitamin C even before your first meal. (Just remember, if you drink lemon water all day every day, it can damage tooth enamel due to its high acidity, but a glass in the morning won’t hurt.) Pro Tip: To get the most juice out of your lemons, roll them Gently back and forth on your countertop or cutting board before using them. You can also try microwaving lemons to extract even more juice … seriously.
Citrus segments are the pieces of fruit with no white pulp or skin. Orange and grapefruit segments are often added to composed salads or open toasts, but this can be done with lemons too! To do this, cut off each end of the lemon, stand the lemon on one end and use a sharp paring knife to carefully remove the entire outer skin that is exposing the lemon pulp without the white stones. Then, hold the lemon in your hand and carefully cut around each lemon segment along the inner layers of the skin, pushing them out one at a time. Adding a few lemon wedges instead of lemon juice can be a great way to add acidity to a dish without adding all of the extra liquid. You also benefit from the advantages of the fiber from the pulp.
All the essential oils of lemon live in lemon peel – and these powerful, health-promoting flavonoids. Lemon peel offers all the aroma of lemon, but without the intense acidity of the juice or the bitterness of the pulp. In combination with lemon juice or used alone, lemon peel can bridge the gap between sweet and savory. On the savory side, lemon peel is a great addition to grain salads, pasta dishes, vegetable side dishes, poultry and seafood-based recipes, dips and sauces, and much more. On the sweeter side, lemon peel can add another flavor element in dishes like overnight oats, smoothie bowls, or fruit-based desserts like cakes. The peel can either be grated finely or carefully cut into larger pieces and then finely chopped.
To get most of the benefits of the lemon, it is ideal to use it whole and consume all of the parts of the lemon. While the raw white pulp has a bitter taste, it becomes softer when cooked. Throwing halved lemons on the grill, in a roaster, or straight into a saucepan of broth or soup while they’re cooking are all great ways to enjoy whole cooked lemons – but one of the healthiest ways to consume whole lemons is in fermented ones Shape. also known as canned lemon, which is very common in North African cuisine and other parts of the Mediterranean.
Preserved lemons are made by storing whole lemons with salt in sterile jars and fermenting them for several weeks. Recipes that include the ingredient often state “chopped canned lemon,” which leaves many chefs unsure of which parts to use. (The peel, pulp, and even the juice from the glass are all edible and delicious!) But thanks to New York Shuk, which specializes in Middle Eastern staples, canned lemons are now available as a mixed paste that contains the Guess and offers all the benefits of the whole lemon plus intestinal healthy probiotics from lacto fermentation. I love this canned lemon paste in almost everything from salad dressings to dips to marinades and more.
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Best Vegetarian Instagram Accounts 2021
Maintaining healthy eating habits – be it in the New Year or during quarantine (when snacks are so tempting) – is easier when you surround yourself with people who inspire those habits, even virtually. Although these vegetarian bloggers are scattered all over the world, it will feel like they’re in your living room with you as they share recipes and tips for healthy vegetarian eating all year round.
Bookmark these in your browser and follow on Instagram for a steady stream of delicious inspiration. Bonus: Many of these vegetarian virtuosos also have cookbooks so you can prepare their recipes offline too.
The first mess
Laura from The First Mess takes us to her old farmhouse to share vegetable-heavy recipes through large and inspiring photos. Start with their vegan caramelized onion dip or smoky chickpea, cabbage, and lentil stew with kale.
The First Chaos Cookbook: Lively Plant-Based Recipes to Eat Well Through the Seasons at Amazon. Buy now
A couple is cooking
Sonja and Alex are a couple from Indianapolis who share simple and nutritious recipes. A few years ago they decided to cut processed foods and fast foods from their diets and have since developed hundreds of whole foods recipes that they share at A Couple Cooks. Next time you have people, try their braised veggies or their favorite vegan lasagna recipe.
A couple cooks: Pretty easy cooking on Amazon. Buy now
Sweet potato soul
Jenné Claiborne, creator of Sweet Potato Soul, is not only a source of great vegan recipes (like Vegan Burrito Bowls, Vegan Caesar Salad, and Vegan Sweet Potato Chocolate Muffins), but also a great help with meal preparation and planning. Check out their YouTube cooking videos to find out more.
Sweet Potato Soul: 100 Easy Vegan Recipes for the Southern Flavors of Smoke, Sugar, Spices and Soul on Amazon. Buy now
Oh it shines
Oh She Glows focuses on vegan whole foods, but most of them are also soy and gluten free. These include amazing desserts like Obsession-Worthy Peanut Butter Cookie Ice Cream, but filling meat alternatives (like the Ultimate Green Taco Wraps with Lentil Walnut Taco Meat) are also well represented.
Oh She Glows Every Day: Quick and Easy Satisfying Plant-Based Recipes on Amazon. Buy now
Although Oh, Ladycakes is a baking blog, the recipes are as healthy as baked goods, with the main ingredients being natural sugar and alternative flours. We recommend starting with Ashlae’s Whole Grain Caramel Apple Hand Pies or the Peanut Butter Cookies.
The authors of Sprouted Kitchen create accessible and delicious vegetarian cuisine. Their focus is often on healthy recipes that are ideal for entertainment, such as the flour-free peppermint stick cake or the berry-ginger cocktail.
The Sprouted Kitchen: A tastier version of Whole Foods on Amazon. Buy now
Green kitchen stories
Green Kitchen Stories is a couple and a daughter who share their healthy take on vegetarian recipes. You have several cookbooks, like “Green Kitchen Travels” (with recipes inspired by foods from around the world) and “Little Green Kitchen” (with an emphasis on kid-friendly recipes that you’ll love to eat too), but you can Also, check out their recipes, like their Green Pancakes, which are cooked in three ways, or this Seasoned Parsnip Cake, for free on their blog.
Green Kitchen at Home: Fast and healthy vegetarian food for every day at Amazon. Buy now
Of course Ella
Erin of Naturally Ella turned to a healthy diet after watching her father go through numerous medical problems due to his traditional American meat and potato diet. First, check out their Barley Chocolate Chip Cookies or the spicy Sweet Potato Galette.
While I may be biased as it is my own blog, Vegetarian ‘Ventures is all about offering delicious vegetarian recipes that focus on local and seasonal ingredients. especially if you like the sound of Savory Cheddar & Cornmeal Waffles or Salted Maple Dark Chocolate Raspberry Crumble.
[Ed. Note: Check out Shelly’s Pistachio-Crusted Tofu with Red Chimichurri, Sweet Cinnamon Fruit Dip, and Skillet Bagel Eggs with Lemon-Rosemary Butter too!]
Plates and boards: beautiful, casual spreads for every occasion at Amazon. Buy now
Biscuit + kate
Cookie + Kate is a vegetarian blog about a girl and her dog creating healthy habits in the kitchen. In addition to recipes (like Halloumi Tacos with Pineapple Salsa & Aji Verde), Kate also regularly shares “What to Cook This Month” guides so you can keep track of seasonal food.
Love real food: More than 100 vegetarian feel-good favorites to please the senses and nourish the body on Amazon. Buy now
Oh my vegetables
Oh My Veggies is a wonderful resource not only for recipes, but also to learn more about vegetarian topics such as the differences in tofu and how to prepare rice from cauliflower.
Love & lemons
The Austin-based couple behind Love & Lemons are experts at turning traditional recipes into healthy, vegan versions that are just as fantastic. We recommend starting with the Vegan Mac & Cheese or the Chocolate PB&J Cups.
Love and Lemons Every Day: 100+ Bright, Plant-Oriented Recipes for Every Meal on Amazon. Buy now
The plump vegetarian
Justin Fox Burks and Amy Lawrence offer a Memphis take on meatless cuisine with their popular blog The Chubby Vegetarian. While southern specialties like Red Velvet Cornbread are their bread and butter, they also cover the world with recipes like Young Coconut Ceviche.
The chubby vegetarian: 100 inspired vegetable recipes for the modern table (for Kindle), at Amazon. Buy now
Over 1.7 million Instagram followers can’t be wrong. British sensation Ella Mills helped bring plant life into the mainstream with her popular blog, cookbooks, app, line of products and even a brick and mortar London deli. If you can’t make it across the pond, try making their stunning breakfast creations and hearty specialties like this Jerusalem artichoke salad in your own kitchen.
Deliciously Ella: 100+ Easy, Healthy, and Delicious Plant-Based Gluten-Free Recipes (for Kindle), on Amazon. Buy now
Are there healthy and unhealthy carbs?
Carbohydrates are one of the three macronutrients found naturally in plant foods, including peas and beans, nuts and seeds, grains, dairy and dairy products, fruits and vegetables.
The other two macronutrients are dietary fats and proteins.
Carbohydrates are an essential nutrient – meaning a person must ingest them through food – and the body needs them to function properly as they serve as the primary source of energy.
The word “carbohydrates” is an umbrella term that describes different types of sugary molecules found in foods.
In general, there are three types of carbohydrates: sugar, starch, and fiber.
It is possible to further classify them into simple or complex carbohydrates, depending on the number and type of sugar molecules – like glucose – that each structure contains.
Also called “simple sugars”, “sugars” or “saccharides”, these carbohydrates contain between one and 10 sugar molecules and are found in fruits, vegetables and dairy products. Those with one or two sugar molecules are called monosaccharides and disaccharides, respectively, while those with up to 10 sugar molecules are called oligosaccharides.
Lactose – the main sugar in animal milk – is a disaccharide made up of the monosaccharides glucose and galactose.
However, oligosaccharides are medium-length prebiotic carbohydrates found in high-fiber foods and breast milk.
Complex carbohydrates are made up of polysaccharides, which are longer, complicated chains of sugar molecules. Complex carbohydrates include both starch and fiber.
Starches are the stored carbohydrates in peas and beans, grains and vegetables and provide the body with energy.
Fiber, or fiber, is the indigestible part of plants – found in whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds, and legumes like peas and beans – that supports good intestinal health.
Carbohydrates often have a bad rap for the association of their excessive consumption with weight gain, obesity, metabolic syndrome, and diabetes.
This phenomenon, referred to by some researchers as “carbotoxicity”, encourages the idea that excessive consumption of all types of carbohydrates promotes the development of chronic diseases.
Because of this, many low-carb diets are popular with people interested in losing weight or controlling blood sugar levels. They are popular even with seasoned athletes.
However, several other studies have shown that the quality of the carbohydrates people consume is just as important as the quantity.
This finding suggests that some health options are better than others, rather than “making all carbs equal”.
Carbohydrates that people consider unhealthy because they are less nutritious include:
- refined carbohydrates like polished rice and flour
- sugar-sweetened drinks such as sodas and juices
- highly processed snacks including cookies and pastries
According to existing research, a diet high in these types of carbohydrates and fewer of the more nutritious options can increase markers of inflammation and maintain hormonal imbalances in people with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS).
Excessive consumption of simply added sugars is also linked to an increased risk of insulin resistance, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and cancer.
However, studies differentiate that added sugars and simple sugars, which are naturally found in foods, may not have the same negative effects.
A 2018 study even suggests that natural sources of sugar like honey can be effective in lowering blood sugar levels and the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
New research continues to shed light on the negative health effects of these so-called unhealthy carbohydrate foods.
Experts recommend a balanced diet that consists mainly of nutritious foods and that only contain these types of carbohydrates in moderation.
Some of the more nutritious sources of carbohydrates that people typically consider healthy include:
- Fruits like bananas, apples and berries
- starch-free vegetables like spinach, carrots, and tomatoes
- Whole grain products like whole wheat flour, brown rice, and quinoa
- Peas and beans, such as black beans, lentil peas, or chickpeas
- Dairy products and dairy products such as skimmed milk, yogurt, and cheese
Research has linked a diet high in these complex carbohydrates – like the Mediterranean diet – to anti-inflammatory benefits, lower insulin resistance, and reduced risk of chronic disease.
Researchers attribute many of these benefits to the fiber content of complex carbohydrates.
For example, the fiber in whole fruits improves long-term weight management and supports regular bowel movements and healthy aging.
Additionally, improving the quality of your diet by consuming more complex carbohydrates and fiber can improve some of the effects of PCOS, such as: B. Insulin resistance and increased androgens.
A 2020 review found that the fiber in whole grains offered several health benefits, including a reduced risk of heart disease, bowel disease, cancer, and diabetes.
The glycemic index (GI) and glycemic load (GL) are two metrics that people have used to determine the quality of carbohydrate foods and classify them as “healthy” or “unhealthy”.
The GI is a measure of the blood sugar-increasing potential of a single carbohydrate-containing food compared to pure glucose.
Low GI foods, composed mostly of complex carbohydrates, have minimal effects on blood sugar levels. This includes whole grains and non-starchy vegetables. High GI foods include potatoes and foods with added sugar.
Likewise, people use GL to gauge how much a particular meal is likely to raise blood sugar levels.
Although people have used both the GI and GL for decades to guide meal planning and control blood sugar levels for people with diabetes, the science is inconclusive.
Many studies suggest that increased intake of low GI foods improves health outcomes, but other studies show that differences in daily glucose tolerance and individual responses are responsible for blood sugar levels, rather than the GI of the foods themselves.
A food’s GI therefore cannot be a direct predictor of a person’s glycemic response.
Differences in glycemic response between individuals make it difficult to determine which carbohydrates are really the healthiest, as even whole grains may not be a consistent and reliable measure of GI and GL.
Despite the popularity of low-carb diets, they are not for everyone, and some populations still benefit from a high-carb diet.
For example, exercise endurance performance is compromised on a low-carb diet, and high carbohydrate intake remains the best-documented choice for elite athletes.
In members of the general population with high carbohydrate intake, there is a significant decrease in blood sugar levels – which may promote remission from prediabetes – when daily carbohydrate intake is reduced.
Therefore, experts recommend that populations who consume 65–75% of their daily calories from carbohydrates should reduce their carbohydrate calories to 50–55% of their daily intake and increase their protein intake.
A carbohydrate limit of 45% or less of daily calories is more effective for short-term blood sugar control, but may not be sustainable and will not provide better long-term results than a range of 50-55% of daily calories from carbohydrates.
Before making any changes to their diet, people should speak to a doctor or registered nutritionist to determine their specific carbohydrate needs in order to optimize their health outcomes.
Carbohydrates are an essential macronutrient that provides the body with energy and fiber to support good health.
Excessive consumption of carbohydrates is linked to weight gain and an increased risk of developing chronic diseases such as heart disease and diabetes.
However, despite their bad reputation, carbohydrates offer many health benefits when a person consumes frequent sources of complex carbohydrates and fiber in favor of refined carbohydrates and sugar-sweetened beverages.
The ideal diet also varies from person to person. For example, a high-carbohydrate diet optimizes athletic performance.
Non-athletes who consume 65-75% of their daily calories from carbohydrates, however, see the greatest drop in blood sugar levels when they reduce their caloric intake from carbohydrates to 50-55% of their daily energy intake.
Carbohydrates aren’t bad when people control the amount and type of food they consume and tailor them to their specific needs.
Lemon for Longevity, A Blue Zones Living Best Practice| Well+Good
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