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BLACK BEAN SWEET POTATO BURGER

Adapted from the Mininmalist Baker.
Yummy black bean burgers  with sweet potato and grain.  6 servings @ 2 burgers each

Ingredients
• 1 can of cooked black beans, rinsed and drained
• 2 cups mashed sweet potato (2 large sweet potatoes)
• 1 – 1 1/2 cups cooked brown rice* (or sub cooked quinoa*)
• 1/2 cup finely diced red onion
• 1/4 tsp chipotle powder
• 2 1/2 tsp ground cumin
• 1 tsp smoked paprika
• 1/4 tsp each salt and pepper (to taste)
• Optional: 1/2 cup walnut or almond meal (or finely chopped)

FOR SERVING (optional)
• Sliced avocado
• Bed of greens
• Sliced onion
Instructions
1. Perce clean sweet potatoes several times with a knife. Wrap with a paper towel, and microwave 3 minutes a time, rotating and repeat until soft to the touch. Let cool. While potatoes are cooking, cook rice or quinoa (see notes for instructions).
2. Add black beans to a mixing bowl and mash half of them for texture. Then add sweet potato scooped from skin and lightly mash, then 1 cup grain, onion, nut meal and spices. Mix to combine. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Add more rice or nut meal if the mixture feels too wet.
3. Lightly grease a baking sheet and line a 1/4 cup measuring cup with plastic wrap. Fill the lined measuring cup with sweet potato mixture. Turn over onto the baking sheet and gently press down to mash.
4. Bake burgers for a total 30-35 minutes, gently flipping 15 minutes in to ensure even cooking. The longer you bake them the firmer and drier they will get. I check them at the 25 minute mark.
5. Serve on thin buns (double stack for more bulk) or atop a salad with sliced avocado, red onion, greens, or salsa.
6. Store leftovers in a container in the fridge for up to a few days. Freeze and when needed grab one to thaw for easy snacks or on the go meal.

Notes
*For quinoa: rinse 1 cup quinoa and add to a saucepan over medium heat. Sauté in a bit of olive oil for 1-2 minutes, then add 2 cups water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer, cover and continue cooking for about 15 minutes or until tender and fluffy and the water is absorbed.

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Recipe borrowed from Dr Mark Hyman Makes 2 servings:  My version

2 Tbsp Sunflower Seeds
2 Tbsp Chia Seeds (can be soaked overnight to make shake smoother and to release nutrients in seeds)
4 Walnuts
2 Tbsp Raw Pumpkin Seeds
3 Brazil Nuts
2 Tbsp Raw Almond Butter
1 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil Organic Coconut Oil or quarter ripe avocado
1 Banana (may omit banana if diabetic)
1 Cup Wild Blueberries
1 Cup Water
1/2 Cup Unsweetened Almond Milk
*Optional: Advocare’s Muscle Gain Vanilla or plant protein powder of your choice.  I have also used Advocare’s meal replacement shakes  which includes carbs so you would need to omit the banana!

Beloved, I pray that in every way you may prosper and enjoy good health, as your soul also prospers. 3 John 1:2

While staying in one day, nursing a cold, and getting caught up on my reading, I found myself watching the few  pairs of squirrels who live in my yard.  They’re quite comical, looking for nuts to crack, and often getting into tiffs on the branch outside my kitchen window.  You might say I was doing nothing.
     This is something I have allowed myself to do, or not do as I’ve gotten older. Thankfully, unstructured time stimulates what neuroscientists call the “default-mode network” in the brain, where creativity and problem-solving happen.  _ Heather Rogers, “The Upside of Downtime” Experience Life Magazine.  
 
Idleness  stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, which brings a host of healthful outcomes, including a reduced heart rate, good digestion, and better moods, says the article.
 I truly agree.
Some argue that our society is on the whole “addicted to busyness” – always seeking to get it done, or seeking to stay in constant connectedness to the latest gadget or app.  I find that many of my customers are consumed with being, doing, having everything all to the edge, no margin or time for the necessities in life.  Studies vary on the average checks to their phones by smartphone users of  85-150 times a day.  Social Media accounts for 15-40 of those checks.  This equates to 1/3 of a normal day of waking hours.  Busyness at work, employees are limited to very strict break times that barely allow for a bathroom break or time to eat.

For those of you with activity goals, here are some simple strategies for you: Put away your phone. Try some type of repetitive activity that allows your mind to wander like going for a walk, running, mowing the lawn, weeding, cleaning or doing the dishes.  Keep the tv, phone, radio off and just let your mind wander, and wait for the creative juices to begin flowing, and of course move your body. 

If you are dealing with allergies, irritability, and aches and pains like me, it may be a time for a recharge.  Stress, sugar, food sensitivities and environmental factors can cause inflammation which can wreak of havoc on most of the normal operations of our body systems, affecting your energy, mood, and cravings.  Let’s look at some option for reducing inflammation.

  1. Eat more plant-based, whole, nutrient-dense foods.
    Focus on what you can do to fuel your muscles, brain, cells with good nutrients and avoid refined sugar and flour, processed junk, animal products, etc. by adding a variety of plant-based whole foods to your diet. These foods will flood your body with the vitamins, minerals, cancer-fighting phytochemicals, antioxidants and fiber it needs to recover from chronic inflammation.
  1. Focus on gut health.
    Your gut holds approximately 60-70 percent of your immune system, so it stands to reason that it would be a great place to reduce chronic inflammation. And if your gut is out of balance, you can only imagine that your immune system is out too. Try natural probiotics like natural unsweetened yogurt everyday, or a good probiotic supplement. Click here.
  2. Identify and address food sensitivities and chronic (or hidden) infections.
    You could be fighting a losing battle if you’re ignoring potential food sensitivities and/or infections. If your body is working to cope and fight these challenges everyday, you can bet that you’re feeding the fire of inflammation on a regular basis.

Gluten, soy, dairy, eggs and yeast are common problem foods that might be distracting your immune system every time you sit down for a meal. These allergies can be identified with a blood test. Or try eliminating them one at a time.  While following the elimination approach, you remove all common allergens from your diet and then slowly reintroduce them, one by one. Consider trying a cleanse too.

  1. Relax and Rest. Most doctors recommend seven to eight hours of sleep per night. If you’re cutting corners in the snooze department, you’re cheating your immune system, which means it needs to kick into high gear in an effort to keep you well.

Lack of sleep and unrealistic expectations on what your body can handle, keep stress hormones elevated. Unfortunately, when you’re stressed out all the time, you’re also producing more of the hormone cortisol—which keeps inflammation on high. You deserve to take a break from stress even if its for 10 minutes a day.  I focus rather on the big picture – create margin, cut back on some things, and spend more time with God and the people that you truly care for. 

Quick Chicken Fingers

This is seriously so easy, and so good, and so good for you.  When you want something savory, a quick snack, or something you can grab and go!

 

Preheat oven to 425.

Chicken Tenders, One pound (Iused 14 oz of Bare Naked Chicken Tenders from Schnucks.)

1/2-3/4 cup of almonds

1 tbs of basil

1 tsp of Sea Salt (or 1 table salt)

1 tsp celery salt

Or any spices you fancy

Put almonds in blender and blend until coarse to powdered, and put in a shallow bowl or dish.  Add spices and toss.  Rinse chicken, and coat each piece on each side in batter.  Place in a shallow baking pan coated with spray or melted coconut oil.  Bake for about 10-15 minutes or until slightly browned.  Check after about 10 minutes to ensure cooked through.

Serve with a green salad and veggies, or portion to go for an easy snack.  Double recipe for the family and for leftovers.

 

 

You do not have to avoid summer get togethers nor succumb to temptation and pressure.  DSCN0424Before you throw your healthy lifestyle off the merry go round, check out these simple summer celebration tips to focus on vitality and victory:

  1.  Drink water, lots of it, and prepare with carting a large container with you everywhere you go.  Alternate your water with sugary or alcoholic drinks.  Staying hydrated will help you stay full and safe in the heat.  Oh, and hit the lou before heading out.
  2. Pick your battles – pick one.  If you have family members, get together or events that you know will tempt you beyond your control, choose wisely what you can live without and consider picking one indulgence.  Give up the break room cookies, gooey butter cake, and lemon chocolate  pie for the one serving of grandmas homemade brownies you have to have – I mean, she made them just for you.  Or the grazing on potato chips and dip, and everything else at the party, for the one scoop of potato salad.
  3. Eat your normal meals throughout the day of lean protein and vegetables, fruits and nuts, outside of the events to maintain a healthy metabolism and avoid overeating.  “Saving your calories”  messes with your metabolism and your brain.
  4. Watch your portions.  If you have eaten normally throughout the day, you have no reason to go back to the spread for thirds; and you can still indulge on your favorite treat.
  5. Politely decline to take home the deserts or extras that are not normally in your eating plan.  Aunt  Stella will understand if you tell her the truth… you want to be healthy.

Plant based diets

Studies on blue zones, areas where people live to over 100 years old, found that  all of them eat a rich array of fresh fruits and vegetables, which are packed with disease-fighting nutrients. In this category we include beans as the cornerstone of most centenarian diets is beans.  Favorites include fava, black, soy and lentils as they are rich in fiber and protein. Phytochemicals and nutrients found in fruits and vegetables, including a variety of colors, support a healthy body.farmers market2010

Meats can still be on the menu but consider them as a side or ingredient, and choose the leanest, finest meat you can afford. If you are grilling, minimize charing as this creates bad free radicals that wreak havoc on our bodies cells.  Limit portions to the size of a deck of cards and try eating no more than twice a week. This is consistent with the USDA’s MyPlate recommendations to make fruits, vegetables and grains the majority of your intake.

If you find it hard to avoid meat, trying eliminating it for just one day, and focus rather on salads, stews, and combining beans with nuts or grains for a heartier meal.  Eating nuts—a handful a day – provides essential fats, and can give you an extra 2-3 years of life expectancy!

If you are looking at a better quality of life, and a longer more exuberant life, I’d follow these people’s example!