Recipe: A+ Sweet Potatoes for Auntie Misty with Sunflower Seed Dressing

Photo by MinimalistPhotography101 from Flickr.com

Ingredients:

Roasted Sweet Potatoes
Roasted Red or Yellow Onions
Salad Greens (including watercress is a nice option)
Cooked Brown Rice
Sunflower Dressing (below)

Sunflower Seed Dressing Ingredients: (adapted from 101 cookbooks website recipe)
1/3 cup sunflower seeds
1/3 cup olive oil
2 T lemon juice
1 T honey
salt to taste

warm water to loosen dressing as desired

Directions: Blend sunflower seed dressing ingredients in a food processor until creamy and smooth. Then add salt to taste and warm water for desired consistency. I find the dressing works best if it is not runny, but more like a thicker ranch dressing consistency. But, it is very much up to your own taste.

Prepare beds of salad greens on plates. Salt and pepper the greens lightly, then place just a few thin slices of roasted onions on the top. Next, slice the roasted sweet potatoes into rounds about as thick as your index finger. Peel off the skin, and place one or two slices on the salad greens. Top with brown rice and a turn or two of the dressing.

If you’re feeling adventurous and have a few more minutes on your hands, try frying the sweet potato slices approximately 2 minutes per side til brown before putting on the salad greens. It adds another whole level of sweet potato flavor. yummmmm.

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A+ For Sweet Potatoes

Photo by Natalie Maynor from Flickr.com

My Auntie Misty gives foods grades. I never knew this til I sat down to a dinner with sweet potato at the helm and I thought she said, “Sweet potato is a plus food.” I laughed, “Yes, it is a food.” “NO!” She replied, “It is A+ FOOD!” Indeed sweet potato deserves high marks. They have a low glycemic index and make your body more responsive to insulin. They contain no fat, are high in fiber, and are also high in vitamin A and C as well as containing a fair amount of calcium and iron. The best part of sweet potatoes is that they are delicious! Apparently, Christopher Columbus found these edible relations of the Morning Glory vine so yummy that he brought the tubers back to Europe and they subsequently flourished across the globe even reaching China and Japan by the 16th century. Now, the Japanese even make a kick-you-cross-eyed booze out of sweet potato called shōchū.

To roast a sweet potato, no need to fuss with foil or whatnot. Just toss them on a cookie sheet straight from your grocery bag. Whack your hotbox up to 400F, and roast for about an hour or until the sweet potato is soft all around and oozing its caramelized sugars. Then, mush with butter and enjoy. Or, toss an onion on the cookie sheet and make the dinner I made Auntie Misty. It is dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, diabetic friendly, gluten free, and, gasp, tasty. If you are vegan, substitute a smaller amount of agave nectar to taste for the honey. If you are a meat-eater, the recipe as it stands is also the perfect accompaniment to a simply prepared chicken breast, slice of beef, or a even a tasty pork chop.

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Will a Glass of Calcium-Rich Milk Really Help You Sleep?

Photo By striatic

Nothing adds to stress like a bad night’s sleep. A friend mentioned to me a year or so ago that she takes Calcium supplements before bed to combat sleeplessness. I started trying this a few weeks ago and have been very happy with the results. I take two 500 mg pills that also contain 5 mcg’s of Vitamin D3 and have been able to fall asleep without trouble. If I do wake up in the middle of night, I take two more. I feel rested when I wake up, not groggy as I have when taking OTC sleeping pills. And, taking the extra calcium is great in general for women to help prevent osteoporosis.

Warm milk has long been a highly recommended folk remedy for insomnia. Regarding Calcium as a sleep aid, William Sears, M.D. says: “Calcium helps the brain use the tryptophan to manufacture melatonin. This explains why dairy products, which contain both tryptophan and calcium, are one of the top sleep-inducing foods.”

On his website, Ask Dr. Sears, he includes a great list of “SNOOZE FOODS”. These are foods high in the sleep-inducing amino acid tryptophan:

  • Dairy products: cottage cheese, cheese, milk
  • Soy products: soy milk, tofu, soybean nuts
  • Seafood
  • Meats
  • Poultry
  • Whole grains
  • Beans
  • Rice
  • Hummus
  • Lentils
  • Hazelnuts, Peanuts
  • Eggs
  • Sesame seeds, sunflower seeds
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LYFE Kitchen Breaks Ground on First Location

Finally, healthy fast food?

“Opening in late summer 2011, LYFE will showcase food that is natural, preservative- and additive-free, enhanced with spices, herbs, and other natural ingredients. No dish contains more than 600 calories and most offer less. Chef Art Smith helped to design the menu with thoughtful options for everyone, including his popular Unfried Chicken, while Chef Ronnen, LYFE’s chef consultant for plant-based and vegetarian foods, offers options such as his Ancient Grains Bowl.”

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Vogue Looks at Food as a Natural Alternative to Treat Depression

In April’s Vogue, writer Ginny Graves looks at how nutrient therapy targets the underlying problem of depression and can help keep people off antidepressant medication for good. She mentions a clinic in Mill Valley, California just north of San Francisco — the Recovery Systems Clinic — whose executive director Julia Ross, M.A. says antidepressants can be a helpful tool but “The trouble is, they don’t cure anything, so when you go off them you risk becoming depressed again.”

Even worse, more and more patients are being prescribed combination of drugs that can have varied and adverse effects. Ramin Mojtabai, M.D., Ph.D. coauthored a study showing that doctors routinely prescribe two or more medications during a single office visit 60% of the time. From a Science Daily article about the study:

“While the evidence for added benefit of antipsychotic polypharmacy is limited, there is growing evidence regarding the increased adverse effects associated with such combinations,” the authors write. For example, some combinations have resulted in increases in body weight and total cholesterol level, whereas others may be associated with an increase in fasting blood glucose level.

Graves mentions the National Center for Whole Psychiatry in Chevy Chase, Maryland where doctors prescribe antidepressants for patients only when “absolutely necessary”. Instead the clinic focuses on identifying and treating nutrition deficiencies, hormone disorders, and allergies, all of which can effect state of mind.

Unfortunately, the Vogue article is not available online, but is still available on newsstands.

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