This past week at school was really busy. I'm not exactly sure why, but the whole week slipped away from me without cooking at home or posting on the blog. Our course was meal planning to meet nutritional needs of people with health issues….heart disease, diabetes and cancer. It was great to learn why certain nutrients and food play a role in preventing and managing these diseases. Each day we made a different menu, with several healthy desserts in the mix. This one was part of the heart disease plan.
There are some general lifestlye and nutrition principles in first preventing and then managing heart disease. First, quit smoking or don't start. Diet wise, decrease your consumption of foods that cause inflammation. These include meats, refined fats, diary products, alcohol, and sugar. So what should you eat? Dr Andrew Weil, a renown integrative medicine physician, describes the general anti-inflammatory diet here and illustrates it in the pyramid below.
You also need to remove hydrogenated and transfats from the diet. These refined fats are mostly found in processed foods and fast foods. Things like crackers, commercial baked goods, prepared condiments, and frozen prepared foods are full of them. Another reason to cook good food at home. And of course, eliminating refined sugars and limiting starchy carbohydrates. Easier said than done right? So what can you eat? Without boring you with all the details of why the vitamins and nutrients work, here is what to eat:
- Lots of fiber. Fiber is found in lots of foods. The best sources are fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains. Especially good for soluable fiber are oats, barley, legumes particularly garbanzo beans, apples, and carrots.
- Foods with antioxidants: fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds. Eat across the rainbow. Aim for a minimun of 5 servings of fruits and vegetables every day, with the optimal being 9 servings. Ideally, only 1-3 of these servings are fruit.
- Get enough B vitamins. Foods like beans, spinach, asparagus, collard greens, beets, bananas, brussel sprouts, green peas, peanuts, crimini mushrooms, berries, and garlic are great. Vitamin B12 is hard for vegans to get as it is found in diary products and eggs. There is some in nutritional yeast but it is not well absorbed.
- Eat foods with vitamins C and E. This includes wheat germ, sunflower seeds, almonds, olives, papaya, Swiss chard for vitamin e. Vitamin C is easy to get. It is in lots of vegetables and fruits. Red pepper is one of the best sources. Also good are broccoli, strawberries, citrus, cauliflower, papaya, and brussel srouts.
- Get enough omega-3 fatty acids and the one anti-inflammatory omega-6 fatty acid. (Huh?) Don't worry about the details, just eat hemp seeds, flax seeds and oil, chia seeds, pasture raised eggs and dairy, and fatty fish like salmon and sardines. Also eat heart healthy oils like olive oil, sesame oil, and macadamia nut oil. Coconut oil is also good. Canola oil is too high in the inflammatory omega 6, so try to limit it.
- Eat the anti-inflammatory herbs: rosemary, ginger and tumeric, and eat garlic and onions.
- Eat foods with potassium and magnesium: leafy greens, legumes, nuts and seeds, winter squash, mushrooms, broccoli, summer squash and beets.
Seems complicated, but really it is all those same food rules: home cooked food, not from packages, lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, beans, nuts and seeds. Some dairy and eggs if they agree with you.
So on with the pie. This is a heart healthy one. The crust is made with almond meal and coconut oil, or almond or other nut oil, and one tablespoon of sweetener. The filling is just cooked berries, also with one tablespoon of sweetener. In the summer when berries are in season fresh would be good to use. We just used frozen, making this an all year round recipe. Really easy to make and bright and fresh tasting, especially as it is served cold. Be careful in baking the nut crust. They burn really quickly so keep an eye on it. We didn't have a garnish for this but it would look much better with a little whipped cream on top or a few berries, or even a little scoop of ice cream on the side! Don't be put off by the bland looking photo, it is worth making. (This recipe is adapted from Julie Mayfield's Paleo Comfort Foods as taught at the Natural Epicurean.)
And now since it is the holiday season, here is a video I stumbled on. If you like country music and harmony you will love this video!
Simple Berry Pie with Almond Flour Crust
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Ingredients (1 pie)
- 1 1/2 cups almond flour
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg
- 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted, or almond oil
- 1 Tbsp maple syrup
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 4 cups of mixed berries (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries or blackberries, your choice), fresh or frozen. (2-3 bags frozen)
- 1 Tbsp maple syrup
- 1 Tbsp lemon juice
Preheat the oven to 350.
Prepare the crust: Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl. Mix wet ingredients in a small bowl. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix well. Press the dough into a 9 inch pie plate. Bake until golder brown and no longer appears wet. Start checking at 10 minutes but it may take 20 or 25 depending on your oven. Watch it well as it will burn quickly.
Make the filling: Put all ingredients in a saucepan. Heat over medium heat. If berries are frozen stir every now and then until the berries are thawed. Once thawed or if using fresh berries, use a potato masher or a large spoon to mash the berries. Cook over medium heat 20 to 30 minutes until reduced by half, and thickened. Stir it occasionally. You may need to mash the berries a couple of times as they cook to get the consistency you want. You can make this really chunker, or smooth depending on your preference.
When crust is done, remove from oven and cool for 10 minutes. Pour in the cooked fruit mixture. Let cool until no longer hot, then cover and place in the refigerator. Chill at least one hour until set and cold. Serve topped with whipped cream, coconut or cashew cream, or ice cream. Also, its really good just plain!
(sorry for the picture….we didn;t have a garnish. This doesn't look like much but it a really delicious and quite nurtitious dessert!)