Betty Wedman-St Louis, PhD, RD, LD

Licensed Nutritionist & Environmental Health Specialist

Archive for the ‘almond’ tag

Chocolate Spicy Popcorn

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Chocolate Spicy PopcornCombine the famous US snack food and sweet brown powder from the cacao tree and you have the making of a healthier snack than you’ll find in the supermarket. Chocolate has become one of the most popular favors in the world and was used widely throughout the Mayan empire over 2000 years ago. It was not until the Spanish added sugar and milk that our current chocolate delights entered the culinary scene.

On a recent trip to the Savory Spice Shop, St. Petersburg FL. a college favorite snack flooded my memory as I picked up sacks of cocoa powder and a spice blend called Peruvian Chili Lime Seasoning. A college roommate was always on a diet and needed “something crunchy” to help her study. Popcorn was her best option for a low calorie snack.

Many people think popcorn is regular corn kernels but it is corn kernels with the starch extracted. The starch is used for cornstarch or laundry starch and the pith that remains can be used for packing material, explosives (fireworks) or popcorn snacks. The calories from popcorn snacks come from what is applied to the popped kernels.

Sweet corn and livestock feed corn contain up to 50% oil which contributes substantial calories. Corn products are also not a good nutrition addition to the diet since they are deficient in the amino acid lysine and B vitamin niacin. Today, some ornamental varieties of corn are grown with tiny red, white, yellow, purple and blue kernels. These ornamental varieties are offered as gourmet popcorn because the seeds dry well and can be stored for extended periods of time.

The Peruvian Chili Lime Seasoning can add a zesty taste to the Chocolate Spicy Popcorn. Chili and cumin powders complement each other to increase blood flow and improve bronchial congestion. Chili stimulates endorphins, kills pain and induces a sense of well-being. Adding grated dark chocolate to the snack mix adds calories but can be added at your discretion.

Marcona almonds from Spain are the best choice for a healthy snack because they are not pasteurized with hexane gas. Marcona almonds with rosemary, available at a local specialty market, are a favorite healthy snack. Almonds have about 150 calories per ounce (about 20 nuts) which is 60 % more calories from fat than protein.

Chocolate Spicy Popcorn

6 cups air popped corn (1/4 cup unpopped)
1/4 cup chopped Marcona almonds
1/2 cup dried No Sugar Cranberries or Cherries
1 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1 ounce grated dark chocolate
1/2 teaspoon Peruvian Chile Lime Seasoning (optional)

Toss together popped corn, almonds and cranberries in lightly oiled 9 inch square baking pan. Combine honey, coconut oil, and cocoa powder in bowl or saucepan. Heat to blend. Pour over popcorn mixture. Toss to blend. Sprinkle on dark chocolate and seasoning mix. Makes 3 servings.

Calories per serving 185

Protein 1 g
Carbohydrates 22g
Fat 8 g
Sodium (no seasoning) 217mg (with seasoning) 467mg

Written by bwsl

March 3rd, 2015 at 2:22 pm

Pumpkin & Eye Health

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Pumpkin Banana MuffinsDon’t throw that Halloween pumpkin away! It could help improve your eyesight better than the carrots your mother told you to eat. As we age our eyesight begins to diminish and carotenoids from orange and green foods become more important.

Research suggests that oxidative damage on eye lens leads to cataract formation- one of the leading causes of age-related blindness in the U.S. A cataract is the process of clouding in the lens caused from free radicals. Carotenoids reduce free radicals within the eye and body.

While most canned pumpkin is really winter squash (pumpkins are in the squash family), it still contains lutein and zeaxanthin for macular eye health. I recently watched how the macular carotenoids were calculated in foods and dietary supplements. The darker green and deeper orange foods were the best foods to support eye health. Trace amounts of these carotenoids were even found in 21 samples of fish, shrimp and sea turtles. Eggs from chickens fed marigold flowers, oranges and peaches even showed levels of zeaxanthin, a carontenoid speciifically evaluated for macular degeneration protection.

A daily intake of 6 mg lutein/zeaxanthin is recommended to provide cataract and macular degeneration benefit. This equals 1/2 cup cooked pumpkin/winter squash or 1 cup cooked kale/spinach or broccoli daily.

Enjoying fresh cooked or canned pumpkin year round in tasty nutritious recipes like Pumpkin Banana Muffins is a great way to maintain eye health. The recipe is features whole grains and hemp hearts, the most nutrient packed gluten-free grain grown for centuries. Don’t risk eye health problems like glaucoma, macular degeneration or diabetic retinopathy by using convenience foods loaded with sugar and unknown vegetable oils. Fresh homemade foods are better!

Pumpkin Banana Muffins

1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup hemp hearts or hemp flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
3/4 cup cooked or canned pumpkin
2 ripe small bananas, peeled and mashed
1/3 cup honey
2 eggs
1/3 cup coconut oil
1/4 cup chopped almonds or pecans

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line baking pan with muffin cups. Combine flour, hemp hearts, baking soda, cinnamon, and cloves in mixing bowl. Beat together pumpkin, bananas, honey, eggs and oil. Pour into center of flour mixture. Stir until blended. Spoon batter into muffin cups. Top with chopped nuts. Bake 20-25 minutes or until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean. Cool or serve hot. Makes 12.

Calories per muffin 265
Protein 5 g
Carbohydrates 24g
Fat 11g
Sodium 189 mg

Written by bwsl

December 24th, 2014 at 7:32 pm