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Is Agave Nectar Really Better Than Sugar?

 Professional chefs, bakers and home cooks alike have been pleased to discover agave nectar, a sweet and pleasantly mild syrup made from the root of the agave plant (which, when fermented, becomes tequila). Marketed as an all-natural sugar substitute, at 32 dollars a gallon agave is turning an extremely good profit globally. But is agave better and healthier than sugar?

Origins of Agave

Agaves, a close relative of the aloe plant, are native to the southwest of the United States, Central America, as well as central and tropical South America. It is produced mainly in the Guadalajara region in Mexico, where it has been used by native Mexicans for centuries.

Commercial production of agave nectar began in the 1990’s, and since then bottles of this exotic golden syrup have been crowding the shelves of health food stores across the United States and Europe. Agave nectar can be found on the labels of many products from soda and ice cream to ketchup and granola. Now entering the mainstream culinary market, restaurants, cafes, bakeries and bars are serving agave in cocktails, smoothies, sauces, dressings and baked goods.

Agave

6 Cocktails You Should Know How to Make

 #1. Martini

This classic (and endlessly classy) cocktail can be made with either vodka or gin, and has numerous variations, including:

  • Dry – no vermouth
  • Medium Dry – a dash of vermouth
  • Wet – one part vermouth
  • Dirty – a dash of olive juice
  • Shaken – shaken with ice instead of stirring
  • On the Rocks – served over ice
  • With a Twist – served with a lemon twist instead of olives

Each one of these variations changes the drink slightly. For example, vermouth, a fortified wine flavored with herbs and other botanicals, changes the complexity of a martini’s flavor profile. James Bond famously took his gin martini shaken, not stirred, medium dry, with a twist. Below is the recipe for a James Bond martini:

Martini Ingredients:

  • 2 shots gin
  • Dash of vermouth
  • Lemon rind

How to Make a Martini:

  1. Pour the gin and vermouth into a shaker about 1/3 filled with ice.
  2. Shake well.
  3. Strain into chilled glasses.
  4. Peel a swatch of rind 1-2 inches long, twist it, and drop into the glass.

Preferred glass: Cocktail glass

Garnish options: Olives, lemon slice, or lemon twist

#2. Manhattan

A Manhattan is

3 Healthy Smoothies Perfect for the Holidays

 It’s time to get out the blender and put it to work with these simple, delicious recipes for healthy, seasonal smoothies with an autumn twist. If you don’t already drink juices or blended drinks on a regular basis, smoothies are a great place to start. These simple blends are easy to love and even easier to integrate into your daily routine.

Here are a few tips on why smoothies are an easy way to incorporate some great nutrition into your daily diet:

  • Smoothies are one of those no-hassle treats you can whip up quickly, and with just a few ingredients you may already have on hand.
  • Drinking smoothies on a regular basis can be a really good habit to form, however you have to be smart about the ingredients you choose. Store-bought smoothies typically contain sweetened fruit juice, sugar and even ice cream, but making them at home with fresh fruit, vegetables and other ingredients can make for a very healthy snack.
  • Fewer than a quarter of Americans get enough fruits and vegetables, despite the USDA’s recommendations of at least five servings

What Are Phytochemicals? Discovering Their Health Benefits

Study[1] after study[2] after study[3]has shown that a diet high in fruits and vegetables is especially beneficial to human health and can even reduce the risk of many serious health conditions.[4, 5]Phytochemicals may be one of the reasons why.

Phytochemicals are chemical compounds produced by plants. They are commonly found in fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes, and grains. Phytochemicals are frequently confused with phytonutrients. Whereas phytochemicals include plant compounds that are beneficial as well as those that are detrimental, phytonutrients specifically refers to compounds that have a positive effect. In other words, all phytonutrients are phytochemicals, but not all phytochemicals are phytonutrients.

The distinction between phytochemicals and phytonutrients is an important one, as not all phytochemicals are beneficial. Technically, cocaine, codeine, oxycodone, and nicotine are all phytochemicals. Even ricin, one of the most deadly and potent poisons in the world, is a phytochemical.[6] This doesn’t mean that all phytochemicals are bad, quite the opposite. Some phytochemicals offer incredible health benefits.[7]

Types of Phytochemicals

There are thousands of different phytochemicals. Here are a few that are of particular interest from a dietary perspective.

Carotenoids

Carotenoids are plant pigments responsible for the yellow, orange, and

What Is the Glycemic Index ?

The glycemic index (GI) is a way to measure the impact specific types of food have on blood sugar.[1] GI values range from zero to one hundred. Food with a high GI value will make blood sugar levels rise (and fall) quickly, food with a low GI value will have a more slow and steady effect.

A GI value under 55 is low; foods that have a low GI value include beans, cruciferous vegetables, grapefruit, and tomatoes. A GI value between 56-69 is moderate; examples include pasta, green peas, sweet potatoes, orange juice, and blueberries. A GI value over 70 is high;[2] examples include refined sugar, potatoes, white bread, dried fruit, carrots, and watermelon.

Why Are Glycemic Values Important?

Paying attention to the GI values of the food you eat allows you to exert a level of control over your blood sugar; there are many reasons why this is desirable.

Persons with diabetes struggle with maintaining balanced blood sugar.[3] It’s a disease that’s reached epidemic proportions. Over 29 million Americans have diabetes, almost 90 million more are prediabetic. A diet centered around foods with a low GI value can help keep blood sugar under

Sweet and Savory Vegan Buddha Bowl

If you’ve scrolled through your social media in the last year, you’ve probably come across a slew of veggie-filled dishes called “Buddha bowls.” They are usually deep, round bowls filled with healthy cooked and raw vegan ingredients that fill you up and keep you sustained for hours. The easiest way to throw these bowls together is to prepare a few different ingredients one evening during the week, particularly the cooked ingredients, and use them to make quick and fresh meals throughout the week.

You can follow the original Nutrition Stripped recipe, but Buddha bowls are an infinitely flexible concept. All you have to do is arrange some vegan protein, complex carbohydrates, and a healthy source of fat on a bed of raw leafy greens. I like to add a few odds and ends to bump up the flavor and texture of my Buddha bowls, and it’s a fantastic way to use up leftovers, like sweet potatoes.

Sweet Potatoes: Delicious and Nutritious

Feel free to omit or add any ingredients to this recipe, but don’t skimp on the sweet potatoes. In terms of nutrients per dollar, sweet potatoes provide an excellent return on your investment. They’re

The Benefits of Manganese

Many people know that vitamin B-12 supports normal energy levels and that vitamin C can help the immune system, but what do you know about manganese? It doesn’t have the star power of other nutrients like calcium, iron, or potassium, but it’s still essential and vital to your health. Manganese, which is stored in the bones, kidneys, and pancreas, is a trace mineral, meaning your body needs very small amounts of it, but that doesn’t make it any less important. Rather, the human body requires it for many important functions.

Manganese Health Benefits

Manganese supports normal health in several ways. It is a cofactor that helps enzymes carry out their functions in the body. Manganese is essential for the metabolization of cholesterol, carbohydrates, and protein. As a component of the antioxidant enzyme superoxide dismutase (SOD), it helps combat the damaging effects of free radicals by converting superoxide, a metabolic byproduct, into safer molecules that won’t cause cellular damage.[1]

There may also be a relationship between manganese and blood sugar. Studies have revealed that diabetes patients have low levels of manganese in their blood, but researchers have not been able to figure out whether diabetes causes

The Health Benefits of Garlic

Garlic (Allium sativum) is a plant used in cooking and medicine, best known for its distinctive flavor and aroma. While frequently used as a seasoning, garlic is technically a vegetable. A member of the Allium family, it’s a close relative of onions, shallots, leeks, and chives. The benefits of garlic don’t end with adding flavor to food, it’s a legitimate superfood that has been used for an astounding variety of medical applications for thousands of years.

History of Garlic

Humans have consumed garlic as both cuisine and cure for over 7,000 years. The plant is native to central Asia, but its use and cultivation has spread around the world. Ancient Egyptians gave garlic to the laborers building the pyramids to boost stamina and prevent disease. In Ancient Greece, Olympic athletes would chew garlic before participating in the games. References to garlic can be found in Homer’s Odyssey, 5,000-year-old Indian medical texts, and the Bible. Garlic was used as food and medicine in the cultures of the ancient Romans, Chinese, Vikings, Phoenicians, Israelites, and Persians.

Now, garlic remains a popular food and flavoring. It’s a staple of Mediterranean, Indian, Middle Eastern, Chinese, and Southeast

How To Make Healthy, Natural Sunflower Seed Butter

Sunflower seed butter is creamy, versatile, delicious, and it’s an awesome substitute for nut butter. This recipe from Oh She Glows is more than just plain ground sunflower seeds—it also features cinnamon, coconut sugar, and coconut oil. It tastes amazing!

As a great source of fiber, essential vitamins, and minerals, sunflower seeds are one of the healthiest seeds. Half a cup provides vitamin E,[1] B6, folate, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, manganese, and zinc.[2] Some research suggests sunflower seeds are a heart healthy functional food because they contain phytosterols, phytonutrients that promote normal cholesterol levels.[3]

Sunflower Seed Butter Recipe

  • Prep time: 15 minutes
  • Cook time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: 16 ounces

Equipment

  • Baking sheet
  • Parchment paper (optional)
  • Food processor or blender
  • Spatula

Ingredients

  • 3 cups of organic, raw, unsalted, shelled sunflower seeds
  • 1/4 cup organic coconut (palm) sugar
  • 1 tbsp organic unrefined coconut oil
  • Pinch of Himalayan crystal salt
  • 1/2 tsp organic cinnamon

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Spread sunflower seeds in a single layer on a baking sheet (preferably lined with parchment paper) and place in the oven. Seeds are ready once they have a golden hue, about 10-15 minutes depending on your oven. Watch closely so they don’t burn.

7 Incredible Pomegranate Benefits

Pomegranates have exploded in popularity in recent years and it’s due to their ever-growing list of amazing health benefits. Rich in nutrients such as vitamin C, vitamin E, magnesium, potassium, and antioxidants, pomegranates defend against free radicals, soothe irritated tissue, and promote healthy aging. Best of all, pomegranates are as delicious as they are nutritious. Let’s look at some of the incredible health benefits of pomegranates.

Best Pomegranate Benefits

1. Pomegranates Are a Dense Source of Nutrients

Pomegranates are bursting with vitamins and minerals. Pomegranate seeds, sometimes referred to as arils, are a great source of fiber and micronutrients. Below is a nutritional breakdown for one cup of pomegranate arils.

2. Pomegranates Contain Powerful Antioxidants

Pomegranates contain anthocyanins and punicalagins—both powerful antioxidants.[2] A balanced diet rich in foods that contain antioxidants may help reduce free radical damage. Excessive free radicals can lead to serious health problems and accelerate cellular aging. Some research even suggests that pomegranates support normal tissue growth at the cellular level.[3, 4]

3. Pomegranates Promote Cellular Integrity

The cells in your body are constantly bombarded by chemical and biological agents that cause oxidative stress. Oxidative stress triggers the

Are Microwaves Dangerous to Your Health?

Microwave ovens have been the norm in US households for almost 50 years. If you’re under 40, you’re more likely to have grown up with a microwave than without a microwave. Ever since they were first introduced, microwaves have been a source of controversy. While manufacturers and retailers maintain that microwaves are completely safe, many people still want to know: are microwaves dangerous?

Many of the original concerns about microwave safety, such as radiation leaks and pacemaker problems, have been addressed by modern technology. However, there remain real, potentially serious, health issues that arise from microwave use. Leaks, burns, nutritional concerns, and promoting a culture of laziness and immediate gratification are all good reasons why you may want to consider a different cooking method.

I don’t use a microwave. I don’t have one in my house, and we don’t have one in the breakroom at Global Healing Center. First, I’m not a fan of what they produce—food that’s frozen on the inside, and lava-hot on the outside, not to mention bland and soggy. More importantly, I do not believe that microwaves are the safest, or most nutritious, method of cooking food.

Radiation and How Microwaves

6 Lemongrass Benefits to Support Your Health

Lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus) is a perennial herb with a distinct, lemony aroma and flavor. It’s a staple of both Vietnamese and Thai cuisine. Though the plant is native to India, it’s grown all over the world today. Lemongrass is a rich source of nutrients that offer many therapeutic benefits.

Benefits of Lemongrass

Lemongrass is a source of beneficial phytochemicals and specialized nutrients that support the body’s response to harmful organisms, boost the immune system, and promote overall wellness. Although the balance of nutrients may vary slightly from one variety to the next, in general, lemongrass provides antioxidants like isoorientin, orientin, caffeic acid, and chlorogenic acid; all of which help halt the damaging action of free radicals. Caffeic acid, in particular, may neutralize free radical action up to 85%.

1. Supports the Body’s Response to Harmful Organisms

Some of the phytochemicals found in lemongrass are resistant to harmful organisms. Two of which, geraniol and nerol, are effective against a broad spectrum of harmful organisms. Another, citral, targets candida, specifically.

Lemongrass may also be effective against entire colonies of organisms known as biofilms. A biofilm is a thin, slimy, continuous collection of organisms that adheres to

Beneath the Sugar Coating

The Great Sugar Rush

If you’ve been paying attention at the grocery store lately, you’ve certainly noticed that the shelves in the sugar section have been inundated with new products. The recent barrage of granules, crystals, flakes, and powders has made it challenging to distinguish one sugar from another. Granulated white sugar was once the only option available. Today, however, there is fierce competition from a throng of new products–evaporated cane juice, organic cane sugar, cane juice crystals, and a number of others with similar names. For the sake of simplicity, I’ll refer to these new sugars as cane sugars.

Glazing Over The Truth

At the moment, a great deal of information is not available regarding cane sugars. There does seem to be a misconception that they are wholly better for you than white sugar, which is simply not true. Some manufacturers mislead consumers into believing that cane sugars are not processed when, in fact, all sugars derived from sugar cane go through some processing, the distinction being how much.

How Sugar is Processed

In the most simple terms, processing extracts the juice from the cane and evaporates the liquid so that just

Organic vs. Local Food Which is Better?

One of the top ethical questions in the cooking world today centers on how we should nourish our bodies. In a world where more and more of our food is industrially produced using chemical enhancers and pesticides, many have turned to an organic diet. Organic products are grown free of chemicals and therefore taste better, richer and more like nature intended. However, chefs and restaurateurs might have to rethink their loyalty to organic produce. Sure, living in moderate climates such as California makes it quite easy for some restaurants and chefs to obtain organic produce from their farmer’s markets and local providers; but the same cannot be said for places further away from natural food supplies.

How Far Will You Go for Organic?

Fruits or vegetables that travel long distances to get to their destination not only use a lot of fuel to get there (which, of course is not very environmentally sound), but they are also generally picked before they are perfectly ripe and sold long after being harvested. The best solution, of course, is to buy local and organic whenever possible. In doing so, you get the best of both worlds: delicious, naturally-grown produce

7 Jobs for Food-Lovers Who Can’t Cook

Who says you have to be a great cook to be a foodie? If you love great food — eating it, discussing it, studying it or just being around culinary creations — you could turn your passion into your profession. There are so many food jobs that don’t require a chef hat or working in a busy kitchen for which you can still earn a great living and be around food, glorious food, all day long.

Come sample our menu of food careers to see if any of them whet your appetite. Then, find out how to break in and whip up a huge batch of career success.


Brewmaster

While this profession is more about drink than food, how cool would it be to make beer for a living? With more and more microbreweries and craft beer businesses booming, brewmasters are like beer scientists, overseeing the production process of man’s favorite beverage. The job involves a bit more chemistry and heavy-lifting than most food jobs, and requires a huge amount of time and hard work. But it usually pays off. Depending on the size of the brewery you work for, salary can range widely,

6 Hot Cooking Trends and How to Do It Yourself

The culinary industry is a fickle business due in part to the variable palates of its customers that change, not just from generation to generation, but from year to year. Kale, house-made soft drinks, bruschetta? So 2014. That’s according to the National Restaurant Association’s annual culinary forecast, which surveys 1,300 professional chefs to determine the hottest cooking trends 2015.

Some of the foods that have gained the most trendiness since last year’s survey include ethnic condiments (hello sriracha!), wild rice and, just in case you thought culinary trends were all about health foods, donuts.

This uncovers an interesting point: Are the hottest food trends meant only for the chicest professional kitchens, or are they more accessible than we think? For those in the culinary field, or those who wish tolearn to cook, here is a sampling of the National Restaurant Association’s list of the hottest cooking trends 2015, along with DIY tips and recipes.


1. Local Sourcing

First off, there is no official definition of “local” food sourcing. Hardcore locavores would put the radius from farm to table at 100 miles, but others use state lines as a guide.

5 Easy Recipes for Entertaining

The holidays are supposed to be frantic, right? Well, with the right recipes and a little kitchen confidence, they certainly don’t have to be. These holiday appetizers are healthy, easy to make, and sure to please even the pickiest eaters.

Each of these hors d’oeuvres will use just a few ingredients to create wholesome and balanced nibbles that are delicious and easy to prepare. These sensible yet festive hors d’oeuvres will help remind you what a balanced snack looks and tastes like so that you can actually begin to incorporate these elements into your daily diet. These recipes should be easy for beginner chefs, while still having the look and feel of a high-end dining experience.


Crispy Prosciutto Melon Bites

  • 1-2 packs of good quality prosciutto
  • ½ cantaloupe or honeydew diced into small chunks

Heat a medium pan with a touch of olive oil. Lay prosciutto sheets in the pan and cook for a 2-3 minutes per side just until slightly crisped. Remove from the pan and slice into bite size pieces. Working over a cutting board, top each piece of melon with a piece of salty prosciutto and secure with a toothpick. If

7 Brain Foods for a Healthy Mind

In today’s busy world it is easy to forget about the basic guidelines for healthy eating, including the importance of eating three square meals a day. But did you know that certain foods are considered good for your brain health and overall brain function?

We’ve rounded up our favorite “brain foods” that have been proven to help with focus, memory, and keeping you feeling more awake, alert and energized throughout your day. The following is a list of eight super-foods that should be part of your weekly meal plan. Each food will include information about the health benefits for specific brain-related function, as well as a quick recipe suggestion. So whether you’re looking for foods to help with memory, to help wake you up, or perhaps even to help you concentrate, these amazing nutritious foods are sure to provide.


1 – Avocado

Avocados are one of the most nutrient-dense foods out there. They contain fiber, potassium, vitamins A, C, D, E, K and all of the B vitamins. Avocados are also high in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats known as omega-3 fatty acids, which can help keep your heart and brain healthy. Eating avocados can

5 Sweet Candy/Cookie Combinations

In the kitchen, it can be all too easy to stick to what you know and love. This is especially true when it comes to baking, where an experiment gone wrong can land you with a batch of rock-hard gingersnaps, bitter brownies, or cake so gooey you would need a spoon to eat it.

On the other hand, playing it safe means your results are reliable, but never a delightful surprise. Some of the most delicious foods out there came from bakers and chefs who tried something new, often by mixing things that they love. So we decided to experiment by putting two of our favorite things together: cookies and candy.

Between those two types of treats, there’s a seemingly endless list of possible combinations, and not all of them are going to be a match made in heaven. We tested a variety of cookie/candy combinations to take the pressure off busy home cooks who might not have time to bake and eat several batches of treats. (You’re welcome!) These are a few of our favorites.


1. Reese’s Pieces + Double-Chocolate Cookie

Why it works

Chocolate and peanut butter are always a

Tips to Turn Your Favorite Foods Vegetarian

There are lots of logical reasons to eat vegetarian, and there are also lots of evolutionary reasons why we humans crave meat. However, there are creative and tasty ways to staunch your meat cravings and get the protein your body needs without actually eating meat. For those who have recently turned to vegetarianism, or have been vegetarian for a while and are looking for new cooking ideas, here is a run-down of six tasty and easy to prepare meat substitutes that will help turn your favorite foods vegetarian.

Meat Substitute #1 – Jackfruit

This amazing and relatively unknown fruit from India is high in protein, potassium and vitamin B, making it not only a convincing doppelganger for meat, but providing some of the same nutritional value.

How to use it: Pulled pork has been a hot trend in the professional culinary scene for a few years now because, well, it tastes amazing. Vegetarians can get in on the action (without clogging their arteries) by using jackfruit as a substitute in pulled pork dishes.

How to prepare it: The most important part of the preparation is finding green jackfruit. It