Monday, April 18, 2011

Southwest Citrus Salad

Hey all,

Now that the sun is starting to make its appearance in Bloomington, I am excited to super-salad my diet with a whole bunch of colorful goodies. I tried to experiment with some southwest ingredients and make it a little citrusy for the summer. Since there is a good balance of protein, fiber and fat, you can eat this salad as an entire meal or add it to some greens to give it that extra health boost.

Southwest Citrus Salad:

1 can organic beans (I used great northern)
1/3 cup chopped carrots
1/3 cup chopped tomatoes (not pictured)
1/2 cup frozen corn
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/2 jalapeno, seeded and finely chopped
1/4 cup cilantro, finely chopped

Juice of 1 large lemon
Juice of 1 lime
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil or flax oil
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
sweetener to taste (I did 1tsp maple syrup)
dash of salt and pepper

Allow the corn to defrost, and add beans, corn, chopped carrots, tomatoes, onion, jalapeno and cilantro in medium sized bowl. Combine dressing separately, adding more sweetener for desired taste, then dress salad. If short on time, enjoy right away, or keep it as a snack for later when the ingredients have more time to blend together.

I want to briefly discuss black beans as a staple superfood, even though I used great northern beans for this recipe pictured acove. Personally, I prefer the taste of black beans and I've found significant nutritional data for these beans compared to several others. Beans in general rank supreme in their cholesterol-lowering fiber content, as well as their ability to stabilize glucose levels to prevent insulin related health concerns such as diabetes. Black beans, in particular, are an excellent source of a trace mineral called molybdenum, important in detoxifying potentially harmful sulfites found in processed foods. Black beans are also extremely high in the B vitamin folate, tryptophan, manganese, protein, phosphorus, iron and magnesium. The high soluble and insoluble fiber content in beans makes them an excellent food to prevent constipation and improve overall digestive health. Because of the darker color of black beans, they rank highest in antioxidant levels, including anthocyanins, which are also present in cranberries and grapes.

I'm going to hold off on the superfood information of tomatoes and onions, as I'll be using them more frequently in recipes to come.

Cilantro is a super antibacterial, antiviral and anticancer herb that has been used for thousands of years for its medicinal properties. I love using cilantro in my summer salads due to its cooling properties in the body which has been known to help support the spleen, bladder, pancreas, stomach, and lungs. Fun fact: one study revealed cilantro to be twice as effective as the antibiotic drug gentamicin at killing salmonella.

Apple Cider Vinegar
This type of vinegar (ACV) is a natural bacteria-killer that has been used medicinally for centuries. The main components of ACV include trace minerals such as potassium, magnesium, calcium, phosphorus, sodium, copper and iron. Since this product is fermented, there are a variety of medicinal properties including viable enzymes and healthy bacteria to restore your digestive system. According to webMD, ACV has been proven to reduce glucose levels in diabetes patients, help lower cholesterol and high blood pressure, kill and reverse cancer cell growth, and support healthy weight loss by providing a feeling of fullness. Traditionally, ACV has been used to treat skin conditions, reduce sinus infections, prevent muscle fatigue after exercise and strengthen the immune system.

To read more about the benefits of carrots, check out my Breakfast Power Muffins recipe!


Grotto, David. RD, LND. (2007) 101 Foods That Could Save Your Life. New York: Bantam Books

Ginger Snap Oatmeal

Hey guys,

So before I get going with salads and healthy snacks, I wanted to share a delicious oatmeal recipe that I came up with the other day after waking up to a craving of my grandma's famous ginger cookies. I've made this recipe both warm and cold, so you can boil your oats over a stove or let them soak overnight which we will discuss in a minute. What's really great is that it only takes about 5 minutes or less to make, depending on which option you choose. So, you don't have an excuse not to get that most important meal of the day in before running out the door! The lead superfood ingredient in this recipe, aside from the oats, is blackstrap molasses. I've grown up loving this flavor and I was so excited to hear that the health benefits of molasses actually make it a healthy sweetener to use! I also used hemp seeds in this recipe to give it even more of a superfood kick.

Ginger Snap Oatmeal:

1/2 cup whole oats
1/4 cup hemp seeds
1 cup milk of choice (I used almond)
1 tbsp organic blackstrap molasses
1 tbsp maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
sprinkle of salt and nutmeg
handful of walnuts

Directions for warm oatmeal:
First, heat up milk on stove and add oats and hemp seeds. Stir until desired consistency (5mins), then add molasses, syrup, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Stir and garnish with walnuts and a little extra milk if the texture is too thick. Enjoy!

Directions for cold oatmeal:
So, here is an easy trick to incorporate in your life if you're like me and tend to be super rushed in the mornings. Oats can be soaked overnight to not only give you a cold breakfast when you're not quite feeling up for a warm one, but also to increase their nutrition by avoiding the effects of high heat and making the oats raw! All you have to do is put the oats and seeds (or nuts, if desired) in a small airtight container with milk and let them sit overnight. I put mine in the fridge to keep them cold, but if you'd rather it be room temperature you could use water instead of milk and let it sit out until the morning. Next, just add the molasses, syrup, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Sprinkle the walnuts on top and enjoy!

Since I had some extra fruit on hand that morning, I also added sliced bananas on top and began my meal with a fresh grapefruit. Be creative, and let your taste buds lead the way.

Blackstrap Molasses

This type of sweetener would be an excellent replacement of table sugar or other artificial sweeteners due to its high mineral content that can help promote health. Blackstrap molasses is a high source of iron, making it a useful ingredient to consume for women during their menstrual cycle or anyone at risk for iron deficiency. Fun fact: the amount of iron found in molasses is higher than equivalent quantities of red meat, and you get to avoid the fat and cholesterol. Iron is a integral component in one's blood, making it essential to maintain proper oxygen levels in the body and support a healthy metabolism. Another mineral that ranks highest in blackstrap molasses is calcium. As I'm sure many of you have heard before, calcium is important in maintaining strong bones and the conduction of nerve impulses to and from the brain. Just two teaspoons of blackstrap molasses provides 13.3% of your daily recommended value of iron and about 12% of your recommended value of calcium. Other health components in molasses include manganese, copper, potassium and magnesium.

Hemp Seeds
Hemp seeds are known as the most nutritionally complete food sources in the world, mainly because they contain all essential amino acids and essential fatty acids needed for optimal health. Hemp seeds provide the highest source of essential fatty acids out of any plant, making them important in supporting a healthy immune system and producing gamma globulin antibodies (the body's defense mechanism to fight illness). Hemp seeds contain about 20% highly digestible protein and 30% essential fatty acids, like omega 6 and omega 3's.

Walnuts are a great nut choice to use due to their high source of vitamin E, omega 3 fatty acids and other essential minerals. Walnuts are a great anti-inflammatory food because of the adverse effect of omega 3 fatty acids and vitamin E on heart disease and certain cancers. Particular antioxidants and phytochemicals found in walnuts are not present in virtually any other food, including the juglone quinone and tellimagrandin. In addition to these therapeutic properties, walnuts are also high in manganese, copper and an important amino acid tryptophan.

For more information about the benefits of oats, check out my recipe on "Molly's Fav Oatcakes".

Thanks for reading, and I hope you enjoy!


Pratt, Steven MD. (2004). Superfoods Rx. New York. HarperCollins Publishers Inc.