Author Archives for My Real Dish

About My Real Dish

Sue Ellen is a mother, Spanish teacher, Young Living essential oil user, world traveler, and follows a strict wheat, dairy, and egg free diet loaded with veggies. So if you have food sensitivities and you are wondering what you can eat, here on this blog she will share not only recipes, but also her dish on health, essential oils, and life. Get ready to make some yummy foods and DIY essential oil products!

Roasted Figs (Paleo & Vegan)

Figs have a short season so get to your nearest grocery now! I got mine at Trader Joe’s. I’ve been trying lots of new things with the Blonde Coconut Nectar since I used it to create my Blackberry and Blueberry Crisp. I love that its flavor doesn’t compete with the food and it doesn’t have a strong coconut taste either, just a nice sweetness. So I used it to roast the figs with a little cinnamon; sometimes the simplest ingredients are the tastiest.

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I’ve been enjoying them on oatmeal, on salad, pizza, and even a sweet potato with a little vegan butter. Just can’t get enough of these delectable figs! Plus, they are ready in a snap!

Roasted Figs (Vegan & Paleo)

  • Servings: 9
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Simple, delicious, Paleo, and Vegan Roasted Figs with only three ingredients. Check out the recipe ideas for ways to eat these figs!

Tips: Figs will stay fresh in the fridge for a week or so. I like to pull out a couple every day to add pizzazz to my typical staples.

Ingredients


Directions

  1. Heat oven to 375.
  2. Slice the figs in half.
  3. Place on a baking pan.
  4. Coat with coconut nectar and cinnamon.
  5. Arrange the figs cut side up.
  6. Cook for ~15 minutes until they are tender and slightly caramelized.
  7. Serve warm, and store leftovers with sauce in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

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I participate in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. However, the product I am recommending in this post is one of my personal favorites that I frequently eat, make and enjoy.

Peach Upside-Down Cake (Vegan & Gluten-free)

Peach Upside-Down Cake

More Food Allergies

This recipe is for my son, who suffered a summer and spring of mystery hives this year; we discovered after 8 hours in an allergist’s office last month that he is so highly allergic to birch trees that he has developed a birch pollen-food syndrome. He can’t have fruit with seeds like peaches or apples if they are not baked, his peanut allergy is worse and he’s still allergic to eggs and dairy. Furthermore, his igA for gluten was a 93, so he has now joined the gluten-free club with his sister and me. I just sent this kid to kindergarten with a huge list of avoids and a new AUVI-Q®. On a positive note, they seem so much easier to use that epi-pens and they were FREE. Overall, he’s handling it all fine, with the exception of the gluten, but to cheer him up we baked this gluten-free vegan peach cake so that he can enjoy some of the yummy fresh peaches in season right now.

Easy Gluten-Free Recipe

I don’t remember ever eating a pineapple upside-down cake, but it was the inspiration for this peach upside-down cake. I have been playing around with peach pies the summer and still haven’t perfected my liquid ratio. So I decided to take the flavor of the spices that I loved and use them in a peach cake instead! This cake uses a gluten-free cake mix, I used Pamela’s. To make it vegan, I used applesauce 1/4 cup per egg. The cake consistency was perfect!

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Peach Upside-Down Cake (Vegan & Gluten-free)

  • Servings: 10
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

An old-fashioned favorite with a twist of peaches, made easier with a simple gluten-free cake mix.

Tips: (1) Prepare gluten-free cake mix per box, substituting 1/4 cup applesauce per egg. (2) Serve with dairy-free vanilla ice cream or vegan whipped cream if desired.
Credit: My Real Dish

Ingredients

Peach Topping

  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice
  • 4 peaches
  • 2 tablespoons of maple syrup

Cake Batter

  • 1 bag Pamela’s Gluten-free Vanilla Cake Mix
  • 3/4 cup applesauce
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2/3 cup water
  • coconut oil to grease pan


Directions

  1. Heat oven to 325.
  2. Cut parchment paper for 9″ springform pan.
  3. Grease pan and parchment paper with coconut oil (I used cold-pressed unrefined) and a paper towel.
  4. Peel and slice peaches.
  5. Combine 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon allspice and maple syrup.
  6. Pour maple syrup spice mixture over peaches and evenly distribute sauce over peaches.
  7. Pour peaches into spring-form pan and set aside.
  8. Prepare gluten-free cake mix per directions of the mix, substituting 1/4 cup applesauce per egg.
  9. Pour cake batter on top of peaches.
  10. Bake for 38 – 45 minutes.
  11. Set aside to cool.
  12. When cool, quickly and gently flip the pan onto the cake stand and serve.

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Blackberry and Blueberry Crisp (Paleo, Vegan & Gluten-free)

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This pie only has 7 ingredients and takes less than 10 minutes to make!  See video below for the introduction of the recipe and the ingredients that I used.

Here’s how easy it is to make! Hope you enjoy!

Blackberry and Blueberry Crisp (Paleo, Vegan & Gluten-free)

  • Servings: 9
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

You will love the ease and deep rich slightly sweet flavor of this crisp. With only 7 ingredients, the natural flavor of the berries shines. It's thickened with tapioca flour to make it tree-nut free, gluten-free, and paleo. Serve with ice cream for dessert, or serve without for breakfast.

Tips: See the video for tips and the ingredients I used.
Credit: Loosely inspired by the Bakerita

Ingredients

Fruit Filling

  • 2 ½ cups blackberries
  • 2 ½ cups blueberries
  • 1 ½ teaspoon tapioca flour
  • 1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon
  • ⅓ cup tablespoons coconut nectar (I used Organic Coconut Nectar by Blonde

Crumb Topping


Directions

  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Grease 9-inch pie pan with coconut oil
  3. Add blackberries, blueberries, tapioca flour, cinnamon, and coconut syrup, mix gently to combine. Add berries to the pie pan.
  4. In a small mixing bowl, add date sugar, tapioca flour, and coconut oil (1/4 cup at a time) and combine with a fork until combined.
  5. Spread crumb topping to the top of the berries.
  6. Bake for 25 – 30 minutes

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I participate in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. However, the products I am recommending in this post are my personal favorites that I frequently eat, make and enjoy.

Incredible Ways Going Vegan Will Change Your Health

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You might be right on the cusp of going vegan, or just trying to eat more healthily, and now you just need something to push you over the edge. You would be amazed and astounded at what incorporating a greater variety of fruits and vegetables into your diet can do for your body. Various research reports have highlighted the numerous advantages the plant-based lifestyle will bring. Here are some of the health benefits of eating more plants.

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Pic Source

Drop Those Pounds

It’s true to say that one of the main reasons many people find themselves turning towards the vegan lifestyle is to lose weight. That’s understandable because meat and dairy often means fat. So, it’s no surprise then that when you go vegan, you’re more likely to shed that excess weight. Observational studies show that vegetarians and vegans tend to be slimmer and have lower body mass indexes compared to other individuals.

If you want more evidence of this, just look at the research studies that compare those on a vegan diet to those on a calorie-reduced diet. The vegans in these studies were able to eat until they felt full and still lost more than those on the calorie reduced diet plans!

Vision

If you have had issues with your eyesight such as an astigmatism you may have needed to see an ophthalmologist. These individuals can help and will work to provide the best possible treatment which will usually involve glasses or surgery. However, if you improve your diet by getting more vitamins and minerals from a variety of different fruits and vegetables, you might find this change is enough to fix the issue. There are reports of people who have issues with their eyes which have disappeared after going vegan. So, if you hate your glasses and can’t stand contacts, it might be time to think about putting some more fruits and veggies on your plate!

Reducing Risks of Cancer

Did you know that eating seven portions of fresh fruit and vegetables per day will lower your chances of developing some types of cancers by nearly fifteen percent? According to research, people that follow a plant-based diet are more likely to match this requirement compared to others who fill their diet with junk food, meat, and dairy. All of which, coincidentally,  if consumed in high quantities, have been linked to cancer.

Reduced Pain

When people talk about following a plant-based diet, they often link it to the young generation trying this crazy diet fad. However, elderly individuals can experience the results of the vegan lifestyle as well. Arthritis is a condition that tends to develop as you age and can lead to immense levels of pain. Research studies have been looking at ways to reduce the pain experienced by individuals suffering from this condition. The study showed patients on the vegan diet experienced less pain and had more energy compared to the placebo group.

Regardless, following a plant-based diet or even just increasing the number of fruits and veggies you eat every day, does bring some fantastic health benefits for your body. If you have changed your eating habits to eat more healthy foods, what benefits have you seen?IMG_5329.JPG

 

Eggplant Chickpea Pasta (Vegan & Gluten-free)

This video describes tips and tricks and the ingredients that I used. If you have any questions, ask away in the comments!

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Eggplant Chickpea Pasta (Vegan & Gluten-free)

  • Servings: ~12
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

This easy light eggplant chickpea pasta dish has an olive oil sauce with fresh basil, parsley, garlic and tamari to bring out the flavors of the fresh garden vegetables. It's perfect for a summer or fall bbq or picnic, and is a complete meal.

Tips: If you have time, marinate your eggplant overnight with the tamari, shallot, basil, parsley, garlic, salt, and pepper. See the video for this tip!
Credit: My Real Dish

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon tamari (gluten-free soy sauce)
  • 1 teaspoon real salt
  • 3 ½ tablespoon chopped fresh basil
  • ½ cup parsley
  • 1 large shallot
  • 3 large garlic cloves, minced
  • ½ cup olive oil (+ 3 tablespoons for sautéeing in the pan )
  • 12 grinds of the pepper grinder
  • 1 bell pepper
  • 3 small eggplants 
  • 2 heirloom tomatoes
  • ½ bag of gluten-free pasta (I used Trader Joe’s quinoa & rice spirals)
  • 1 – 15.5 oz can of chickpeas (garbanzos), rinsed and drained


Directions

  1. Prepare water to boil on the stove for the pasta with a little salt and olive oil. DO NOT overcook the pasta, it will make it mushy.
  2. Drain and rinse the chickpeas (I open the can almost all the way and leave a small portion attached, making it easy to rise and drain until the water runs clear or save the brine to make a vegan lemon meringue or key lime pie)
  3. Finely chop the eggplant, shallot, parsley, and basil, dice the bell pepper, mince the garlic, and chop the tomatoes in big chunks.
  4. Heat 3 tablespoons of oil on medium-high heat on the stove in a large sauté pan.
  5. Add eggplant, shallots, garlic, and bell pepper to the pan and sauté for 3 minutes.
  6. Add basil, parsley, black pepper, real salt, tomatoes and continue to sauté until the eggplant and onions are translucent and the peppers are slightly tender (if you haven’t marinated overnight).
  7. Combine with the cooked pasta and the 1/2 cup of olive oil, and serve!

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5 Benefits Of A Wholefoods, Plant-Based​ Lifestyle

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“Eat your veggies” my parents used to say, “it’ll help you grow up big and strong”. I choked down those veggies because my mom always overcooked them until they were MUSHY and she never salted or buttered anything! They were full of vitamins and minerals, I was told and while my infantile mind didn’t know how or why they were important, Mom and Dad told me that they were and this message was enforced after many nights staying at the table for hours because I refused to eat them and wasn’t allowed to leave until I complied. As an adult, I learned that if I don’t overcook my veggies and I actually season them – they really are delicious! I realize that my household was different than the majority of homes where most were told, “Eat your meat.” Regardless of what our parents told us, most of us were brought up to believe in a balanced diet. And better advice, our parents could not have imparted. A healthy mix of carbohydrates, proteins and healthy fats, along with a sprinkling of vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients allow us to be the best that we can be…

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Image by PxHere

And then came the fad diets

For generations, a balanced diet was enough for us. But then came the fads. The latter half of the twentieth century and the twenty-first century gave rise to a whole host of fad diets. The Atkins Diet, the Dukan Diet, the Pritikin Diet, the zone diet and various soup diets, juice cleanses and formalized methods of formalized starvation found fame when they gained celebrity advocates and were used by Hollywood stars who needed to lose weight quickly to slim down for a role. These fad diets aimed to convince us that we’d been getting eating wrong our whole lives. They tried to make us believe that we’d dedicated our lives to an inefficient form of eating and that they alone held the keys to a healthier, happier, sexier version of us. They often demonized entire food groups (usually either fats or carbs), and bade us to eliminate them altogether from our diets. They promised quick and easy results and often they delivered. Cutting your caloric intake significantly and dropping an entire food group will often result in initial weight loss. But this inevitably leads to cravings and lapses and whatever gains are made are often lost just as quickly.

That may be because these fad diets fundamentally damaged the way we see food in a number of ways. They’ve made us demonize fats or carbs and value a slim body over a healthy body. Moreover, they’ve made us jaded and cynical. Thus, as more and more people turn to a plant-based diet (with this year’s veganuary seeing record numbers of people eschewing meat and animal products) it’s easy for us to dismiss it as just another fad. But a plant-based diet that eschews processed foods rich in animal products for whole foods, is much more than a fad diet. Here we’ll look at why a vegan or plant-based lifestyle differs from the fad diets of yesteryear before going into some of the health benefits…

A plant-based diet is still a balanced diet

First, I do want to say that the definition of plant-based has changed over time. It used to mean entirely vegan, but then moved to also incorporate vegetarian diets, and now includes few or no animal products. Regardless, the MAJORITY of your diet consists of vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, legumes, and fruits. A plant-based diet can still be perfectly balanced while fad diets advocate the omission of entire groups of macronutrients. There’s very little in an omnivorous diet that can’t be found in the plant world. “But what about protein?” you may be asking. Here’s the thing. All proteins come from plants. Only plants can take nitrogen from the atmosphere and convert it into the amino acids which are the building blocks of protein. When we eat a T-bone steak or a chicken breast, we’re simply recycling the plant-based proteins stored in their muscle tissue. A plant-based diet has all the complex carbohydrates, fiber, healthy fats and protein we need to live long and healthy lives. The only possible exception is vitamin B12. This is important in maintaining metabolic function and is found abundantly in eggs, meat, fish and dairy products but it’s harder to come by in the plant world. Mushrooms have some, but not enough to sustain us which is why a B12 supplement is advisable (I personally take SuperB from Young Living – you can buy it here and B12 spray from Dr. Mercola). But then most omnivores probably aren’t getting enough vitamin B12 either. Let’s look at some more benefits of embracing a whole food, plant-based diet…

Your risk of cancer is drastically reduced

History will remember our time as an era in which most of the population courted the risk of this dreadful disease. Modern cancer research has come an incredibly long way, with breakthroughs in gene editing meaning that a cure for this awful sickness could come within our lifetime… But until then, prevention remains the best cure. Those on a plant-based diet reduce their cancer risk in a number of ways. Plant-based diets are high in fiber and this has been directly linked to reduced risk of colon cancer. Unlike meat, eggs or dairy products, plants are rich in essential vitamins and minerals and contain phytonutrients which are essential for a healthy immune system and keeping serious illness at bay. It also means that they eschew processed red meats like bacon, salami, pastrami and pepperoni which have been labeled by the World Health organization as Type 1 carcinogens.

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Image by Pixabay

You spend less money on food

It’s a common fallacy that eating right is more expensive than subsisting on processed convenience foods than ready meals. In fact, in many cases the opposite is true. Fresh veggies, fruits, grains, and pulses tend to be far cheaper than meat, eggs, fish and dairy products and in most cases are less expensive than high calorie, low nutrient processed foods as well. This Time magazine article shows that vegetarians save around $750 a year more on food than meat eaters.

You vote for your wallet against animal suffering…

The primary motivator for many to cut animal products out of their diet (as well as their clothes, shoes and beauty products) is because they’re voting against normalized animal cruelty in the only way that matters in a capitalist society… With their wallets.

… And for sustainability

As our population grows, our animal agriculture industry is going to more and more environmentally damaging lengths to feed it. Raising animals for their meat, milk, and eggs utilizes far more land, water, and natural resources than growing plants. Animal agriculture is the world’s leading cause of species extinction, habitat loss, water pollution and ocean dead zones. In fact, 70% of soy grown on the planet is grown to feed livestock rather than humans. That should tell you everything you need to know about world hunger right there.

What can you do? This spring, I persuaded my husband to stop eating his daily turkey sandwich for lunch to a big delicious salad (it took his stomach a couple of weeks to adjust so please keep this in mind as you increase your veggies and decrease your meat). If I’m not home to make him a salad, he will prepare a bag salad kit, and I’m really proud of him! This switch must be attainable and easy friends! Try going plant-based, or simply reducing the plants : everything else ratio in your diet. You may be surprised at how much you benefit. If you would like a daily smoothie, salad or other plant-based recipe inspiration, follow me on Facebook or Instagram!

 

Peanut Butter Banana Mocha Smoothie

Lately, I’ve been scrambling to get out the door in the morning to get the kids to an early swim and dive practice. However, it’s not my normal stressed out I’m going to be late for work scramble that I do during the school year, so I’ll take it! Anyway, this scramble forced me to create this new breakfast – it’s an all-in-one smoothie. Get your caffeine and breakfast in one jar!

Everyone has been raving about these almond milk cold brews from Califia Farms, and I finally picked up this mocha flavor at the grocery store last week, and it is phenomenal. IMG_4922So after I was drinking a cold brew and a smoothie at the pool the other day, I decided to just put my coffee in my smoothie. It’s like a chunky monkey smoothie, but with mocha delicious coffee and some extra cacao, because there can never be enough chocolate. Makes me feel like I’m drinking a healthier version of a frappucino.
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Peanut Butter-Banana Mocha Smoothie (Vegan & Gluten-free)

  • Servings: ~1
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

It's a traditional peanut butter, banana, and chocolate smoothie, but with a kick of coffee to create an easy frozen breakfast to help you wake up!

Tips: (1) Use Wowbutter to make this a peanut-free breakfast (2) Skip the coffee and add a non-dairy milk to make a caffeine-free smoothie.
Credit: My Real Dish

Ingredients


Directions

  1. Place the bananas and the cold brew at the bottom of the Vitamix or high-powered blender, and then top with remaining ingredients.
  2. Pureé until smooth.
  3. Drink and enjoy!

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Double Chocolate Gooey Butter Brownies (Vegan & Gluten-free)

On Saturday mornings growing up in St. Louis, my Dad would take me to Lubeley’s Bakery & Deli near our home to get a German coffee cake or pastry. My favorite was always the Gooey Butter Cake. There are so many stories about who actually created the Gooey Butter Cake, but it is a St. Louis treat that we usually eat for breakfast, like a coffee cake. It’s a cake that is layered with a thick creamy sticky topping, which creates a gooey-goodness!

I never realized that some of the foods I loved were only available in my hometown until I moved away for college and couldn’t find them anywhere. Most of them I can’t eat anymore because of my wheat and dairy intolerances, such as toasted ravioli, Provel cheese, or Ted Drewes Frozen Custard. Since discovering my food intolerances, I thought that I would try to recreate this St. Louis tradition with a vegan, gluten-free, and chocolate twist.

If you regularly follow me on Instagram or read my blog, then you know that I’m a chocoholic. I thought why not make Gooey Butter Brownies with a chocolate gooey topping? The key ingredient to making these Double Chocolate Gooey Butter Brownies extra chocolaty is Hershey’s Special Dark Cocoa Powder for the topping. Of course, you could use unsweetened cocoa powder, but the Hershey’s Special Dark Cocoa Powder takes this chocolate dessert to a new level of chocolate decadence.

DOUBLE CHOCOLATE GOOEY BUTTER CAKE

Double Chocolate Gooey Butter Brownies (Vegan & Gluten-free)

  • Servings: ~12
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

St. Louis sticky-sweet gooey butter cake takes a gluten-free vegan healthier twist with this easy, but decadent, chocolate recipe. Refined sugar-free option available.

Tips: use Xylitol Powdered Sugar for low-carb, refined sugar-free option.
Credit: My Real Dish

Ingredients

Cake Base

Perfect Paleo Brownies (Vegan & Gluten-Free)

Gooey Topping

Optional


Directions

  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Lightly grease a 13- x 9-inch baking dish.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, prepare Perfect Paleo Brownies (Vegan & Gluten-Free). Press mixture onto bottom of prepared baking dish; set aside.
  4. Boil hot water for egg replacer.
  5. In a medium bowl, beat vegan butter and applesauce until creamy.
  6. Prepare your egg replacer (take with 3 teaspoons egg replacer, 4 tablespoons warm water, and mix until it thickens)
  7. Add the egg replacer and blend in powdered sugar (or Xylitol Powdered Sugar) until well combined.
  8. Pour gooey topping batter on top of the brownie-lined baking pan.
  9. Bake 30 to 40 minutes or until the brownies are nearly firm when you shake if (you want the topping to be a little gooey, so do not overcook the cake).
  10. Remove the brownies from oven and let them cool.
  11. Once they’ve cooled, sprinkle with powdered sugar (or Xylitol Powdered Sugar)if desired.
  12. Refrigerate any leftovers.

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Avocado Mint Chocolate Chip Pie

Everyone knows that I’m obsessed with avocados. I eat one at least once a day. Although I’ve made desserts with avocados before, this pie might be the best one yet. It is green, but you don’t taste the avocado. My children and their neighbor friend didn’t question me for a second when I told them it was Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream Pie. I call that a Mom win!

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Avocado Mint Chocolate Chip Pie (Vegan and Gluten-free)

  • Servings: 6 servings
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Tips: Crust can be made homemade with this recipe or if you don’t have time for homemade, check out Mi-Del Cookie Crust. It is available at Wal-mart for $5 and most grocery stores, and it’s allergy-friendly (dairy, gluten, egg, soy, and nut-free) but not sugar-free.

Credit: My Real Dish

Ingredients

Paleo Pie Filling

  • 4 large avocados
  • 1 cup coconut milk refrigerated overnight (hard cream only)
  • ⅛ cup lime juice (juice from ~1 lime)
  • ¼ cup + 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 15 drops Young Living Peppermint Vitality Oil (you can buy it here)
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips (I used mini chips)

Chocolate Sauce

The Best Vegan Chocolate Sauce (Optional, not sugar-free)

Crust

Easy Chocolate Crumb Crust (see tips for more details) 


Directions

  1. Prepare the chocolate pie crust first (or see tips for store-bought allergy-friendly crust).
  2. Put all of the ingredients, except the chocolate chips, in a Vitamix or high-powered blender, and purée until smooth.
  3. Stir in the chocolate chips.
  4. Put into pie crust, and freeze for 1 hour.
  5. The result is a minty “nice cream” cake.

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Munching For The Mind, Foods That Boost Brain Power

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With the risk of memory loss and disorders like dementia on the scientific community’s consciousness, a lot of research has been done in what really gets the brain ticking. In particular, many are looking at the foods that can help improve memory and reduce the risk of developing dementia in later life. Some even suggest that these foods can help dementia patients manage their symptoms and maintain their independence for longer. So, what are the foods that are supposed to help you build a healthier brain?

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Leafy greens and other veggies

Leafy greens, like spinach, collard greens, and kale have become a popular food group as of late. A big part of this is the B9 and folate within them that have been shown to improve cognition and have a role in battling depression. Broccoli, cauliflower and other cruciferous vegetables have a similar folate content, as well as ingredients that lower the amino acids related to memory loss. Kimchi is a recipe that takes quite a bit of time to prepare, but it contains lots of antioxidants that can stop the free radical damage so closely associated with cognitive impairment.

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Whole grains and legumes

High fiber foods are highly important for anyone who is, in fact, suffering from memory loss or related illnesses like dementia. For one, they tend to regulate digestion and make that process smoother which can help them more independently use the toilet. Quinoa is easy to make, easy to eat, and also contains a whole host of ingredients good for the brain. Zinc, phosphorus, and selenium, in particular, are hard to find in the average diet. Beans and other legumes also contain magnesium, potassium and more of that folate that can improve emotional health as well as mental health. Both grains and legumes can contain B vitamins that boost neurotransmitters which help maintain sharp brain function.

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Nuts and berries

Acai berries are something of a “superfood.” This doesn’t mean they are the cure-all for the world’s diseases nor that they are the only food you should eat. They are, however, jam-packed with anti-inflammatory ingredients, vitamin C, vitamin E, and those antioxidants that prevent free radical damage to the brain. Plus, acai berry smoothies are easy to make, simple to drink, and taste delicious. But most berries are good, it doesn’t necessarily have to be acai. Nuts like almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, and cashews contain omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Contrary to what the word “fat” means to a lot of people, this doesn’t mean they are unhealthy. Rather, healthy fats are making a big comeback, and let’s look at why that is.

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Omega-3 fatty acids

Omega-3 aren’t just a “good” type of fat, they are essential to the human body. When we lack them, we are at a much greater risk of heart disease, depression, arthritis, and much more. What’s more, they play a crucial role in preventing the lesions on the brain that can cause dementia in the first place. There are multiple kinds of omega-3s, too. The most important kinds are DHA and EPA, which tend to be found in fish, with salmon having some of the highest content on the market. ALA is another type of Omega-3 that is less important, and less efficiently used by the body, but just a small amount of vegetable oil or leafy vegetables can help you get your recommended amount. 

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Spice it up

Whether you’re eating to preserve your mental health or you’re trying to help improve a loved one’s diet if they have dementia, the flavor is very important. Vegetable purees might be easy to digest and very good for you, but they have what we will kindly call an acquired taste. A little cinnamon can do wonders for the taste, but it can also do wonders for your brain. Cinnamon, cumin, and recent superfood darling, turmeric, all help reduce inflammation in the brain and can break up the plaque (literally deposits that cling between and outside cells) that can contribute to memory loss. Turmeric, popular as it is, is another antioxidant, preventing that free radical damage we’ve already covered.

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Making eating accessible

The foods mentioned here have been suggested not only to reduce your risk of dementia but also to help slow the progress of such conditions. Whether or not that is true is not fully defined, but any changes to the diet of someone with dementia should be made carefully. If a loved one will need skilled nursing, make sure that all dietary changes are cleared with them. Ensure you include lots of fiber in their diet to help digestion and incorporate smaller meals that can reduce the need for concentration, which people with memory loss can struggle with. If your loved developed dysphagia, where they have trouble swallowing, avoid hard-to-chew foods and consider those options designed specifically to address that problem like vegetable purees.

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What you shouldn’t eat

There are some foods to avoid if you’re seriously concerned about your mental health which can even speed up memory loss. It should be no surprise that processed foods are on the list of things to cut from your diet, high in specific proteins and nitrosamines, a component that causes the liver to produce fats that are bad for the brain. Breads, in general, should be cut down as much as possible. White bread is particularly dangerous, but even whole grain bread can spike your blood sugar, which leads to the inflammation that other foods we have looked at are trying to prevent. Diacetyl and nitrates are two more unhealthy brain foods that should be avoided at all costs and most commonly found in beers, margarine, processed meats, and microwave popcorn.

There is still much we don’t understand about memory loss and dementia, and it’s safe to expect that other foods and lifestyle habits will be found to contribute as great a role as the dietary recommendations listed above. Dementia is far from simple and it will take more than a diet to fight it, but it can play a bigger role than you might suspect.

 

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