Amy’s Kitchen, Natural and Organic Foods

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Healthy Living

Welcome to our all-round guide to good living in the 21st century.


The best way to enjoy Raw Kale

Kale

Kale is a super food that has been shown to lower the chances of 6 different types of cancer. It is anti-inflammatory and is a vitamin rich anti-oxidant, high in vitamins K, A and C. It can be eated raw or cooked. If you have never tried raw kale before, here are some tips:

GIve your kale a masage before eating.  This improves the texture and softens the taste.

What you need:
-One bunch of kale with the ribs removed (the big center part) and chopped into ribbons

-A few pinches of fine, sea salt

-Clean hands.

  1. Add kale and sea salt to a large bowl. (use approximately 1/4 teaspoon of fine sea salt for every 2 cups of chopped kale.)
  2. Massage the salt into the kale for 2-3 minutes by simply kneading with your hands, turning, tossing the kale to break it down. (It should be reduced in size roughly by one-third when you are finished).
  3. Rinse the kale and drain water.
  4. This rubbed version is ready to use in a salad. Try the Quinoa Kale Salad on our recipe page.

 

 


Summer Grilling

While we love nothing better than grilling up some of Amy’s Veggie Burgers on the grill, here are some other items to add to the plate. And on a hot summer night, it is great to fire up the grill (it also has the added benefit of keeping the kitchen cool) to prepare a great meal. Did you know you could cook Amy’s pizzas on the grill? How about some veggies or even fruit?

To cook one of your favorite Amy’s pizzas on the grill, first it is a good idea to thaw it out on the counter.

Pizza on the Grill

What you need: Tin foil
Lightly coat a piece of tin foil with cooking spray and place it on the grill. The cooking spray keeps the pizza from sticking.

Over medium coals, grill the pizza crust for one to two minutes, then move the pizza to the cooler side of the grill and grill for an additional 3 minutes. If using a gas grill, cook pizza on the upper rack of the grill and cook for 6 minutes. Keep checking the pizza to prevent burning.


Soaked Nuts

Soaked NutsHave you ever soaked nuts? Here are 3 reasons why you might want to try it.

1. Tannins (or the bitter taste) get released from nuts after just 20 minutes of soaking time. With the tannins released, the nut has a softer, less bitter taste.

2. Soaked nuts start the “sprouting process” and like other sprouted seeds and nuts, there is increased enzyme activity and greater absorption of the nut's nutrients by the body and increased digestibility. Nuts without skins such as macadamias, cashews or Brazil nuts don't have as much of the murky water residue, but soaking is still recommended.

3. Soaked nuts make for great smoothies and desserts. After nuts have been soaked, they are great for dips and in smoothies. They break down more easily and blend into the recipe more easily.

Soaking Nuts: Recommended Soaking Time
Soak your nuts and seeds anywhere from 20 minutes, to 2 to 3 hours, even overnight in the refrigerator. In general, harder nuts will take longer to soften. If your recipe calls for soaked nuts or seeds and you are low on time, try to squeeze in 20 minutes or just do a really good job rinsing them. Otherwise, plan ahead a bit and soak them overnight in your refrigerator in a glass container with an airtight lid.


Then what:
Lightly toasting your soaked and dried nuts will yield an especially nice result. Ovens can often bake as low as 160-170 degrees. If your oven does this, bake them on a cookie sheet for an hour. If you have a food dehydrator, this is a good option too. Follow the instructions in your manual.

Soaked nuts do not last as long, so only soak as much as you can eat in a weeks time. 


Nuts Linked With Lower Diabetes, Heart Disease Risks: Study

People who choose nuts as their snack of choice are doing their health a benefit, new research suggests.

A recent study shows that people who regularly eat tree nuts -- including almonds, macadamias, pistachios, walnuts and cashews -- also have lower risks for Type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome and heart disease.

The researchers from Louisiana State University Agricultural Center found that nut consumption is linked with lower levels of an inflammation marker called C-reactive protein (which is associated with heart disease and other chronic conditions) and higher levels of the "good" kind of cholesterol.

In addition, people who regularly ate the tree nuts had lower body mass indexes (BMI, a ratio of height to weight) than people who didn't regularly eat nuts, the study said.

It should be noted that the study was funded by the nonprofit International Tree Nut Council Nutrition Research & Education Foundation. It appeared recently in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition.

The research included 13,292 adults whose diets were analyzed through the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys between 1999 and 2004. The researchers considered a "tree nut consumer" as someone who ate at least a quarter of an ounce of nuts a day. The researchers found that about 18.6 percent of people between ages 19 and 50 and about 21 percent of people ages 51 and older were regular nut consumers.

The researchers found that the prevalence of metabolic syndrome among people who regularly consumed the nuts was 5 percent lower than those who didn't consume the nuts. (Metabolic syndrome is known to be a risk factor for conditions like heart disease and diabetes.)

This is certainly not the first evidence linking nut consumption with body benefits. Last year, a Spanish study showed that, particularly among people with metabolic syndrome, eating an ounce of nuts (raw walnuts, almonds and hazelnuts, all with the peels on) a day is linked with higher levels of serotonin, reported Shape Magazine. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that is linked with feeling happy.

And last year, Reuters reported on a study in the journal Diabetes Care that showed that swapping out carbs for a half-cup of nuts could help people with Type 2 diabetes to decrease their blood sugar and "bad" cholesterol levels.

The Mayo Clinic reported that nuts have powers to lower "bad" cholesterol levels, and eating them could even lower the risk of blood clots linked with heart attack. That's because nuts contain "good" fats, omega-3 fatty acids, cholesterol-lowering fiber and plant sterols, and vitamin E (which could help keep arteries clear of plaque), according to the Mayo Clinic.

Specifically, walnuts may have the highest concentration of omega-3 fatty acids compared with all the other nuts; omega-3 fatty acids have anti-inflammatory effects, Joy Bauer, NBC's Today Show nutritionist, told Everyday Health.

But even though nuts have health benefits, that doesn't mean you can go hog-wild with your portions. Diet and fitness expert Dr. Melina Jampolis told CNN that people should not eat more than a quarter of a cup of nuts or seeds a day, since they have so many calories from fat.

"Eating unlimited amounts can easily add an extra several hundred calories a day to your diet, which could lead to weight gain and increased cholesterol levels," Jampolis told CNN.


Study pegs cost of obesity at $190.2 billion per year

ITHACA, N.Y. — Obesity accounts for nearly 21% of U.S. health care costs, according to a study conducted by researchers at Cornell University. The study showed that an obese person incurs medical costs that are $2,741 higher (in 2005 dollars) than if they were not obese. On a nationwide basis, that translates into $190.2 billion per year, or 21% of national health expenditures.

Previous estimates had pegged the cost of obesity at $85.7 billion, or 9% of national health expenditures.

“Historically we’ve been underestimating the benefit of preventing and reducing obesity,” said John Cawley, Cornell professor of policy analysis and management and of economics, and lead author of the study. “Obesity raises the risk of cancer, stroke, heart attack and diabetes. For any type of surgery, there are complications with anesthesia, with healing (for the obese). … Obesity raises the costs of treating almost any medical condition. It adds up very quickly.”

The study, which was conducted with Chad Meyerhoefer of Lehigh University, estimates the effect of obesity on medical expenses by treating the heritable component of weight as a natural experiment. Previous research reported the difference between the medical expenses of heavier and lighter people, which is a misleading estimate of the causal effect because obese and non-obese individuals differ in so many ways.


Calcium Sources Beyond Milk, Yogurt and cheese

Calcium Sources Beyond Milk, Yogurt and cheese

The following are sources of calcium that might replace part of the milk, yogurt or cheese that you currently eat. Milk and yogurt supply about 300 to 400 milligrams of calcium per cup. Cheese supplies about the same amount per 1 and 1/2 ounces. The sources listed below do not contain cholesterol.

Vegetable

Serving Size

Milligrams

Calcium

Calories

Collard greens

1/2 cup cooked from frozen

180

 

31

Bok choy

½ cup cooked

165

10

Spinach

½ cup cooked from frozen

150

22

Edamame (green soybeans)

½ cup cooked

130

90

Turnip greens

½ cup cooked

125

24

Kale

½ cup cooked

100

20

Parsley

½ cup raw

100

11

Swiss chard

½ cup cooked

100

18

Okra

½ cup cooked

90

18

Mustard Greens

½ cup cooked

90

11

Dandelion Greens

½ cup cooked

75

18

Artichoke

½ cup cooked

or 1 small

55

40

Leeks

½ cup cooked

55

16

Broccoli

½ cup cooked

45

20

Fennel

½ cup cooked

45

20

 

Nuts

Serving Size

Milligrams

Calcium

Calories

Almonds

¼ cup (4 tablespoons)

95

154

Brazil Nuts

¼ cup

55

218

Hazelnuts

¼ cup

55

180

Almond butter

1 tablespoon

43

101

Sesame seeds

1 tablespoon

63

52

Tahini

1 tablespoon

65

86

 

Grains

Serving Size

Milligrams

Calcium

Calories

Amaranth

½ cup cooked

135

125

Quinoa

1 cup cooked

80

222

Brown rice

1 cup cooked

50

216

 

Legumes

(Beans, Peas, Lentils)

Serving Size

Milligrams

Calcium

Calories

Tempeh

1 cup cooked

150

165

Soybeans, yellow

1 cup cooked

150

298

Tofu

4 ounces

120 to 400 (varies)

80 to 140

Navy Beans

1 cup cooked

110

300

Pinto Beans

1 cup cooked

100

245

White Beans

1 cup cooked

95

255

Chickpeas

1 cup cooked

95

275

 

Fruit and Other

Serving Size

Milligrams

Calcium

Calories

Rhubarb

½ cup raw

175

13

Figs, dried

½ cup

150

185

Blackstrap Molasses

1 tablespoon

170

47

Nondairy Milk

1 cup (8 ounces)

Varies tremendously

Read labels

40 to 150

 

 

 


All about Beans

Inexpensive, healthy & nutritious.

Besides being delicious and versatile, virtually all types of beans are nutrient powerhouses. Darker-colored beans are richest in heart-healthy, cancer-protective antioxidants, but all beans are beneficial to those looking to improve the nutrient density of their meals; rich in protein (about 7 to 15g), folic acid, magnesium, and protective phytochemicals. Most beans are also high in both soluble and insoluble fiber, and slowly digested carbohydrates, with a gentler, even beneficial, effect on blood-sugar.

Beans are especially filling and satisfying, even though they're fairly low in calories, (100 to 125 calories per half-cup serving). Hearty and toothsome, beans closely match meat's nutrition and flavor profile, without the accompanying dose of saturated fat, and for a fraction of the price.

Cooking dried beans from scratch gives you the firmest texture and best flavor, and it's easy to do with a little advance planning. But there's no denying that canned beans are wonderfully convenient (compare soaking, cooking, and seasoning beans to buying precooked canned beans), and you're more likely to eat beans regularly if there are canned beans in your cupboard – but read those ingredient labels carefully as some of the canned varieties may add extra, unnecessary ingredients like salt, and even in some instances pork fat and always look for BPA free cans!

Amy's uses many of these variety (we note some of our favorite meals after each bean)

Amy's Medium ChiliVarieties
Kidney beans are large; almost 3/4 inch, have a definitive kidney shape and are nearly maroon in color. These are the beans to use in chili because they're hearty, and take well to spices. Cooking time: 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

Light Red Kidney beans are similar to their darker relative and are the bean for the Southern dish, red beans and rice. Cooking time: 1 1/2 to 2 hours. (Try Amy's medium and spicy Chili)

Pinto (Pink) is the staple of Mexican cooking, and is a pinkish-mauve color that turns brownish when cooked. Some variations are mottled. Pintos look like brown medium ovals. Pintos are favored for whole or refried beans in burritos and tacos. Cooking times vary from 1 to 2 hours depending on size. (Try Amy's Refried Beans)

Special note on Refried Beans or frijoles refritos:
Refried beans begin with onions and garlic sautéed in lard or oil, to which spoonfuls of cooked pinto beans are added, mashed, and cooked until they are thicker than mashed potatoes. Sometimes a little broth or water is added. The intriguing thing is that they are not re-fried at all. One theory for this misnomer is that in Mexican Spanish, "re" is a way to emphasize doneness, such as these beans are well-done or cooked thoroughly. They are not, however, fried two times.

Cranberry or Roman Beans are a favorite in Italian recipes. These medium mottled tan and red beans are oval in shape, take to spices well, and are very tender with modest cooking time 45 to 60 minutes.

Garbanzo or Chickpeas, popular in Middle East cuisine, are the basis for hummus, the bean spread spiked with garlic and olive oil. They're an imperfect round beige color and give both a nut-like flavor and firm texture. Use whole in soups or salads or grind up cooked beans for hummus or for frying for falafel balls. Modest cooking time of 30 minutes to 1 hour. Skins should be discarded because they're difficult to digest. (Try Amy's Mattar Paneer or Mattar Tofu)

Black-eyed Peas are the ones to bring luck into your life on New Year's Day as the Southern custom asserts. These beans are white with black dots and have a light very smooth texture. Cooking time: 30 to 60 minutes. (Amy's Black Eyed Pea & Veggies Bowl is one of our favorites)

Black or Turtle Beans are medium sized black oval beans, that are popular in Caribbean cooking and adapt well to South and Central American dishes for which a heartier, earthier, smoother bean is desired. Cooking time: 1 to 1 1/2 hours. (Try Amy's Enchiladas or Amy's Black Bean Chilis)

Navy beans are not navy blue as one would expect, but small white ovals that add a mild flavor to soups and salads and can be used in baked beans. They belong to the haricot bean (white bean) family, and cook in 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

Great Northern beans are another relative of the haricot bean (white bean) family but larger than navy beans yet offer a similar mild white beantaste that is great in soups and stews and in the classic French dish, cassoulet. Cooking time: 45 to 60 minutes. (Try our Organic Hearty French Country Vegetable Soup)

Limas are plump, slightly curved beans that are pale colored and come in two sizes: small baby lima and white with a creamy smooth texture or slightly larger butter beans that are pale green to white. Both are delicious alone or added to soups or casseroles. Cooking time: 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

How to Choose

Dried beans should look even in color, shape and size. It's important to rinse them before soaking to determine if there are any stray pebbles or dirt that escaped the package. Beans that look wrinkled or misshapen should be avoided. Soak dry beans according to directions, usually several hours to overnight, and cook completely from 1/2 to 2 hours. Salt after cooking to avoid toughening. Once cooked, they can be stored in the refrigerator for several days and added to salads, rice, pasta, or stews as desired.


Amy’s loves Mushrooms and not just because they are tasty!

Mushrooms

Mushrooms have a long history, but culinary and medicinally. There are over 14,000 mushrooms, only about 3,000 are edible, about 700 have known medicinal properties, and fewer than one percent are recognized as poisonous.

Mushrooms contain many micronutrients. In addition to being one of the only food sources of vitamin D, mushrooms are an excellent source of potassium (1 portabella mushroom contains the same potassium as a banana).

Mushrooms are seen as an anti-oxidant, a heart tonic and a cancer preventative. This is because they are rich in riboflavin, niacin, copper and selenium. Selenium keeps your thyroid happy, protects your muscles (especially the heart muscle) and when combined with vitamin E (found in many greens, almonds and seeds), it is a potent anti-oxidant.

Shiitake mushrooms have been used for centuries by the Chinese and Japanese to treat colds and flu. Lentinan, a beta-glucan found in shiitake mushrooms, appears to stimulate the immune system, help fight infection, and demonstrates anti-tumor activity.

You can enjoy mushrooms in many of Amy’s meals:

Brown Rice & Vegetables Bowl
Teriyaki Bowl
Asian Noodle Stir Fry
Brown Rice, Black Eyed Peas & Veggies Bowl
Amy’s Light & Lean Roasted Polenta gives you a great dose of the selenium, vitamin E combo!

And even on pizza!
Amy’s Mushroom & Olive Pizza
Amy’s No Cheese Roasted Vegetable Pizza (regular and gluten free)  Get your Shitakis here!

*Information for this article was taken from http://www.vegetarian-nutrition.info
and http://www.whfoods.com


Nutrition: Nuts May, in Fact, Help Avert Diverticulitis

Doctors have long advised people with diverticulosis to steer clear of nuts and foods with small seeds, fearing they might cause severe intestinal complications.

But a study has found that eating these foods not only does not increase the risk of complications, but may even lower the risk of developing the disease. The study, published in the Aug. 27 issue of The Journal of the American Medical Association, is the first large-scale study of the matter.

About a third of Americans over 60 develop diverticulosis, which causes intense pain in the abdomen and leads to the rupture of small pouches in the colon, called diverticula.

In the study, scientists analyzed data on more than 47,000 men ages 40 to 75 who had no history of the disease at the start of the study. The subjects were followed for the next 18 years, a period in which 800 cases of diverticulitis and about 380 cases of diverticular bleeding were diagnosed.

Those who ate the most nuts, twice a week or more, had a 20 percent lower risk of developing diverticulitis than those who ate the least, while those who ate popcorn at least twice a week had a 28 percent lower risk. They also found no link between any foods and complications.

The authors say the benefits may come from nutrients and fiber in nuts and light popcorn.


7 Economical Superfoods for Everyone

The media and food marketers often make a big deal out of the latest superfoods. Take goji berries or pomegranates as two recent examples. But trendy superfoods are usually pricey, unfamiliar, and unavailable locally, making them inaccessible to the masses.

In a post appearing in Food, Nutrition & Science, food expert Sharon Palmer, RD, suggests more familiar, readily available, and affordable superfood options. The best part? You can snag many of these items in organic form and on the cheap at a local farmer's market (or in your own backyard garden!)
 

Here's here list of affordable superfood choices:
 

Oats1. Oats. Oats are rich in avenanthramide, an antioxidant that protects the heart. Other oat accolades? The superfood lowers cholesterol and has been shown to possess disease-zapping antimicrobial activity, making organic oatmeal the perfect affordable breakfast item for cold and flu season.
 

More details: The Grain Guide: Easy Recipes for the Healthiest Whole Grains.
 

2. Dry beans. Forget expensive steak and sausage. Dry beans and dry lentils pack a healthy low-fat, plant-based protein punch. Known as a "perfect food," just one cooked cupful can provide as much as 17 grams of fiber. Beans are also loaded with protein and dozens of key nutrients, including a few most people fall short on—calcium, potassium, and magnesium. Studies tie beans to a reduced risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and breast and colon cancers.
 

Soak beans overnight and rinse them well to eliminate most of the flatulence-causing compounds.
 

3. Garlic. This onion relative contains more than 70 active phytochemicals, including allicin, which studies show may decrease high blood pressure by as much as 30 points. High consumption of garlic lowered rates of ovarian, colorectal, and other cancers, according to a research review in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. To boost garlic's health effects, be sure to crush the cloves and let them stand for up to 30 minutes before heating them.
 

4. Cayenne pepper. If you can handle the heat, this powerhouse pepper is worth your while. The heat in cayenne peppers come from a phytochemical called capsaicin, which can help clear congestion, fight cholesterol, melt away body fat, and jump-start your metabolism. Sprinkle it over veggies and beans to sneak it into your diet.
 

5. Celery. Eating four sticks of celery a day can produce modest reductions in blood pressure, thanks to the vegetable's rich supply of phthalides, phytochemicals linked to cardiovascular health.
 

Bonus: Celery is loaded with androstenone and androstenol, pheromones that help attract women.
 

6. Tomatoes. Tomatoes are our most common source of lycopene, an antioxidant that may protect against heart disease and breast cancer. Avoid canned tomatoes when possible: The epoxy can coating usually contains the harmful plastic chemical BPA. Instead, load up on in-season, organic tomatoes in bulk and preserve them for year-round enjoyment.
 

7. Onions. This bulb boasts far-reaching health benefits, including immunity-boosting compounds that can help prevent everything from the common cold to cancer. Onions are also rich in quercetin, a flavonoid shown to keep your blood healthy. It's also a must-have for natural allergy prevention.
 

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