Warming up to Healthy Eating- Lentil Soup

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Was last night the sixth holiday party we just attended? Yes, it surely was. Or perhaps it was the thirteen. I’ve lost count. While I relished every last friend, holiday/new year wish, hors d’oeuvre, cookie & cocktail with gusto, I am now carried away to a more sensible space. Here in Florida it’s a sometimes cold place we call January.

If you are like us and many others, who have spent the last month stuffed with stuffing and tipsy with holiday cheer, January brings with it a promising opportunity for replenishment, balance, and the only way to do that is by giving your body everything it needs to thrive. Lots of healthy foods and vegetables.

But to go right from cookies to carrots in 0 to 60 seconds seems crazy, we believe the body must be eased back into it’s normal patterns gently and reasonably. No fad diets, or pill will have you looking and feeling your best.

At Intelligent Gourmet, we know it’s not about losing weight – it’s about living your best life. That said, for many of us, part of becoming healthier, happier people involves undoing some of the less-great decisions of the last several weeks and, yes, losing weight. Unfortunately, changing your lifestyle doesn’t happen overnight (though one diet claims otherwise)

What matters is keeping your nutrition high, your calories controlled, and your exercise up!

Try working your way back into some better eating habits with a healthy soup packed with protein and vegetables. Here we share with you a recipe for a very versatile lentil soup that you can easily adapt to your families personal preferences and pantry inventory:

Ingredients

  • 1 # package of dried lentils (You can use any kind you like, red, green, brown and black beluga)
  • 1 medium yellow onion, (small diced)
  • 1 large carrots, (small diced)
  • 2 ribs of celery (small diced)
  • 2 cloves of garlic smashed
  • 1 12 oz package of winter squash cubes (available at most grocers)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon yellow curry powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon of turmeric powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon of cumin
  • cayenne pepper
  • 4-6 cups of vegetable or chicken stock
  • 2 hand full of your favorite greens chopped, (kale, spinach, mustard, or chard)
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • flat leaf parsley (for garnish)
  • olive oil

Directions

  1. Start my heating some olive oil in a heavy bottomed pot over moderate heat, (you do not want the olive oil smoking) Add the chopped, carrot, celery and onion and allow these vegetable to sauté slowly about 8 – 10 minutes stirring occasionally. Once the vegetables are soft and the onion is translucent add in your chopped garlic, salt and spices, stir and cook another 2 minutes until fragrant.
  2. Add in your winter squash cubes of choice and toss to combine.
  3. Add 4 cups of your stock ( chicken or vegetable depending on if you are making this vegan or not), and bring to a boil.
  4. Add in your raw lentils ( Lentils do not need to be soaked like other beans but do rinse, Check the cooking time on the package, which can vary from one type to the next. Red lentils cook in as little as 15 minutes while the black ones can take as long as 45 minutes.)
  5. Reduce heat to low and simmer uncovered until lentils are just tender but not mushy, and your squash is soft. (Add additional stock if you want a thinner soup adjust to your liking)
  6. When the lentils are just tender, add the chopped greens. (They’ll only take a minute or two to wilt remove the pot from the burner as soon as the greens are wilted and bright green.)
  7. Finish with freshly squeezed lemon juice, a pinch of cayenne pepper, and a drizzle of olive oil, and a generous amount of chopped parsley. Adjust salt if necessary.

CHEF NOTE:

Change up your meal in any one of these 4 ways.

  1. You can trade 1/2 the stock with coconut cream for a creamy flavor.
  2. Season with smoked paprika, a touch of liquid smoke, and a ham bone.
  3. Add in a 14 ounce can of diced tomato for another variation.
  4. Serve with a tablespoon of greek yogurt on top.
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Re-Vamp Your Breakfast Recipes, try a Quinoa Bowl

Why try a quinoa bowl for breakfast? Quinoa is a complete protein, meaning it has all 10 essential amino acids, and a high fiber content. One cup of cooked quinoa contains 5 grams of satiating fiber, having it for breakfast will help to arm your body with the tools it needs to get through the day and stay fuller longer. As an added bonus, quinoa is packed with health boosters like zinc, calcium, iron, riboflavin, heart healthy fats and antioxidants that have been found to reduce inflammation.quinoa bowl

Recipe: Quinoa Breakfast Bowl
Prep Time: 5
Cook Time: 15
Yield: 2 bowls

Ingredients:
1/2 cup dry quinoa, rinsed
3/4 cup canned lite coconut mylk + more for drizzling
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon + more for sprinkling
pinch of salt
1 tablespoon of dried unsweetened dark cherries
1 tablespoon of toasted pecans
1 tablespoon of toasted pumpkin seeds

Preparation:
Combine quinoa, coconut milk, cinnamon and vanilla in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover, and let cook for 15 minutes until quinoa can be fluffed with a fork.
Divide quinoa into two bowls then cover with dried fruits, pecans, + pumpkin seeds and a few extra drizzles of coconut milk.

Chef Notes:  You can use a shelf stable organic Coconut mylk available at Aldi’s Markets. Or you can make your own Almond mylk but that’s for another blog.  Option to add  sweetener of choice,  we find it sweet enough with the coconut milk and fruit.

#Kidfriendly #addtoppingsofyourchoice #mixandmatchfruitsnutsandseeds #yearroundmeal

Nutrition: 302 calories, 10.3 g fat (4.9 g saturated fat), 99 mg sodium, 34.6 g carbs, 5.3 g fiber, 7.9 g sugar, 8.2 g protein

Reduce Inflammation & Improve Your Digestion with Easy To Make Bone Broth


Remember how soothing chicken soup is whenever you have a cold? Well it turns out that broth, and especially bone broth (made from simmering bones and cartilage) really do have medicinal properties. I’m always on the lookout for foods that both nourish and heal your body, and while studying at the Institute of Integrative Health and Nutrition I was turned on to bone broth as a way of improving digestive symptoms such as bloating and pain.

Bone broth is experiencing a revolution right now, and for good reason. It can reduce joint pain and inflammation through chondroitin sulphates, glucosamine, proline, arginine, and glycine which all have anti-inflammatory effects. It promotes strong, healthy bones through high amounts of calcium, magnesium, and additional nutrients that play an important role in healthy bone formation, and promotes healthy hair and nail growth thanks to the gelatin in the broth. It may even help you sleep better due to the calming effects of glycine. Wow. No wonder superstar Kobe Bryant is drinking it daily and it’s even gained a cult following in NYC!

Another important component of both broths are that they are rich in Humic + Fulvic minerals! What are those you ask and why should I want them?
Research is just beginning to show us the important role that fulvic minerals play and the information is amazing! These minerals like others support the body in a variety of ways including cellular health, brain health and digestion by helping the body absorb nutrients from food.
In a perfect world, our food would naturally contain high levels of minerals from the soil, but this is not usually the case with our modern food supply.

Ready to try this out? You can make bone broth at home (recipe below!) by simmering chicken, beef, or pretty much any type of bones in water for 6+ hours. At Intelligent Gourmet we use this recipe as a base in most of our stocks and it’s just plain delicious! No single theory of health is right for everyone, but we’ve seen bone broth work well for some people and not cause adverse symptoms for anyone, therefore we feel it’s safe to approve as a food that promotes digestive health.
Intelligent Gourmet’s Bone Broth Recipe

Ingredients

4-5.5 lbs. of Beef or Chicken bones (including joints, knuckles, necks etc.)
2 gallons Cold Water or enough to cover your bones (Why cold water? On a chemical level, it actually promotes the extraction of protein, helping to up the nutrient quotient of the stock.)
1 large Onion, coarsely chopped
2 Carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped
3 stalks of Celery, coarsely chopped
4 cloves of Garlic, peeled
2 Bay Leaves
2 Tbsp of Vinegar* (such as Bragg’s Raw Apple Cider Vinegar)
1 bunch of fresh Parsley
Optional: Thyme + Rosemary (I like to add thyme, bay leaf, and whole peppercorns, with maybe a sprig or two of rosemary. If you’re adding herbs and veggies to the broth, be sure to add them toward the end of cooking, especially if you’re doing a marathon stock making session.)

*A Note on Vinegar: This is not an optional ingredient. Not only is it ideal to combine fats with acids like vinegar, when it comes to making broth the goal is to extract as many minerals as possible out of the bones into the broth water and vinegar really helps to leech all those valuable minerals out of the bones. Bragg’s raw apple cider vinegar is a good choice as it’s unfiltered and unpasteurized.

Preparation

In a large stockpot, combine all ingredients. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to-low and simmer for 6 to 24 hours (the longer you simmer it, the more intense the flavor). Add water as needed to keep ingredients submerged. Strain stock into a clean pot or heatproof plastic container and discard solid ingredients. Let cool and refrigerate overnight. Leave the solidified fat on the top while storing as the fat acts as a protective layer and delays the formation of bacteria. Immediately prior to use, bring the bone broth to a gentle boil. Makes about 12 cups.

You can use this broth as a base for soups like we do at Intelligent Gourmet, or you can drink it straight as a restorative concoction.

Interested in learning more about foods that promote healthy digestion? Here are a few I can recommend:

Bananas
While all fruits and vegetables are generally good for digestion, bananas in particular are great because they don’t irritate the stomach. That’s why they’re part of the “BRAT Diet” (Bananas, Rice, Applesauce, dry Toast), which has been suggested for folks suffering from vomiting or diarrhea.

Water
Water (which most people do not drink enough of) is excellent for the digestive process as it helps move things through the intestines. Drink an extra glass of water in the morning and evening, or carry a refillable water bottle that you can sip from throughout the day.

Ginger, Turmeric, Peppermint
Spices and herbs like ginger, turmeric and peppermint are great for settling an upset stomach. Try drinking ginger or peppermint tea, or sucking on a peppermint lozenge.

Yogurt, Kefir, Sauerkraut, Kimchi
Probiotic-containing foods like yogurt are good for the digestive system because they contain good bacteria that crowds out any bad bacteria that you may have in your gut. You want to look specifically for foods that contain live bacteria, such as yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, and kimchi.

Asparagus, Oats, Onions, Lentils, Whole Grains
Prebiotic foods like asparagus contain a type of fiber that probiotics feed off of to multiply, so it’s good food for your good bacteria. Prebiotics are found in foods such as asparagus, onions, lentils and whole grains.

Soup

3 Healthy Foods With Funny Side Effects

Asparagus side effects

A light snack could make your mouth taste like a penny tray, and a trip to the bathroom could turn your night out into a nightmare. Some healthy foods we eat every day can come with a few surprises. Have you ever experienced these?

1. Beets (of DOOM)

I’m dying! Or so you might think in the bathroom after a beet buffet. Don’t be too alarmed if your toilet bowl looks like a crime scene. The red color that occurs in some peoples urine and feces is caused by a chemical, betanin, in beets. If your genes allow you to break down betanin, you most likely won’t be seeing tie-dye the next time you eat beets. Aside from their bold pigment, beets have outstanding health benefits, too. Beets are a natural aphrodisiac, and they lower your blood pressure which helps prevent heart disease.

2. Asparagus brings back da’funk

Pee-eww! Ever get funky smelling pee after eating asparagus? Don’t worry, your pee isn’t abnormal; you just have a good nose. The odor is caused by a sulfur compound released when you digest asparagus – but not everyone can smell it. Again, genetics is the key to the pee. Some people don’t notice the odor when they go to the bathroom, even if the odor is present. Asparagus is the vitamin shop of the plant world: it’s packed with vitamins A, C, E and K, antioxidants, and amino acids.

3. Pine Nuts: Reason #199 to eat local

Have you ever noticed a dry, metallic taste after eating pine nuts? I love pine nuts. They’re one of the main ingredients in pesto, are the key to pignoli cookies, and they add earthy deliciousness to sandwiches. But, studies associate pine nuts from one variety of tree (the Chinese pinus armandii) with a metallic taste that can last in your mouth from two days to two weeks (it’s called “pine nut mouth”). Like most nuts, pine nuts are rich in iron which helps blood carry oxygen around the body, and they contain a number of B vitamins. The combo will give you energy and stamina.

Don’t let these side effects scare you off of these healthy snacks! They won’t harm you – they just add a little… variety to your day.

A Fathers Day Menu That’ll Keep Him Healthy & Happy

Father and Son vintage

Fathers Day tends to be red meat-heavy – hot dogs in the grill, fillet mignon, ribs – but wouldn’t it be even better to create a feast that helps Dad stay healthy? It’s no secret that dietary needs for men and women are a little different, so here is a party-ready menu full of SuperFoods that specifically support male health needs.

A Drink to Get the Blood Moving: Watermelon Agua Fresca
Watermelon promotes blood flow, helping the circulatory system keep circulating, which is great for heart health (and romantic evenings). To make watermelon agua fresca for four, combine 4 cups water with 4 cups chopped seedless watermelon, Stevia or agave nectar to taste, and the juice of 1 lime. Pour through a strainer to get rid of excess pulp, and serve chilled with ice.

A zinc-packed appetizer: Crabcakes
Crab, oysters, and lobster are high in Zinc, an antioxidant mineral that protects against cell damage that can lead to prostate cancer. However, the health benefits of crabcakes are outweighed by the calorie count if you cook them the traditional way. So, instead, use Panko breadcrumbs and just a little oil to sautee them. CookingLight has a great recipe with a spicy remoulade.

B-Vitamin-Boosting Turkey Burgers (with microgreens a slice of heirloom tomato, sautéed mushrooms and onions, and avocado)
You didn’t think we’d completely ignore the grill on Fathers Day did you? Turkey meat is high in protein, B vitamins and zinc, making it one of the healthiest meats for dad that isn’t seafood. Tomatoes, high in lycopene, help guard against prostate cancer; mushrooms contain selenium and potassium, which fight heart disease; and avocado contains phytosterols which are anti-inflammatory and keep cholesterol levels (and heart disease risk) under control. (If Dad’s a vegetarian, try a veggie burger made with quinoa, another great source of B vitamins.)

Beta-Carotene on the Side: Grilled Sweet Potato Wedges
No burger is complete without fries, and grilled sweet potatoes scratch that itch in the healthiest possible way. Beta carotene, found in all orange vegetables, combines with vitamins C and E to protect the body against cell damage.

Flavonoid-Full and Flavorful Dessert: Berry Pie
No, pie isn’t healthy, but you’ve got to give Dad something sweet on his special day – and berries almost make up for the buttery crust. Berries – whether blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries or cherries – have powerful antioxidants that can help maintain and enhance strong brain function.

And, if you’re looking for a great Fathers Day gift to keep Dad in good health – why not give him a month’s supply of Intelligent Gourmet juices?

Drinking for Medicinal Purposes: 5 Teas For Whole-Body Health

chai masala health benefits

We all know that green tea and black tea are full of antioxidants, but other teas are often overlooked for their health benefits and medicinal value. Here are four of my favorite herbal teas, and one tea that’s all spice!

Sleep well with Chamomile

Chamomile tea has been used medicinally since ancient Egypt and has gained a reputation throughout the centuries for helping to ease cramps, lower fevers, speed healing time from colds, and of course, to help people relax and sleep better. Some studies even show chamomile protecting against cancer cell growth.

Get a beauty boost with Rooibos

Rooibos tea is high in vitamin C and antioxidants, but its claim to fame is its power to help the skin fight signs of aging and common skin issues, like eczema, wrinkles and acne.

Focus with Lemon Balm

The problem with caffeinated beverages is that alertness comes with a cost: increased anxiety. With lemon balm, studies have shown that a 600 mg dose boosts your mood, increases the feeling of calm, and helps you stay alert. In fact, some studies indicate that lemon balm might help calm and improve brain function in Alzheimer’s patients.

Ease your digestion with Dandelion Tea

Some diets include drinking pitchers full of dandelion tea to help you lose weight. You will lose weight, or at least water weight. It’s a laxative! Dandelion tea’s health benefits also include decreasing inflammation, calming upset stomachs, easing gas pains, and aiding digestion in general.

Support whole-body health with Masala Chai

Masala chai is as close to a magic tonic as you can get – and it’s delicious! Real masala chai includes some of the best medicinal spices out there, combined with antioxidant-rich black tea and milk. Just be sure that the masala chai you buy gets its flavor from real ingredients and not artificial flavors and added sugar. Spices include:

  • Cardamom – cleanses kidneys, supports urinary tract health, and improves digestion.
  • Cinnamon – Lowers bad cholesterol, regulates blood sugar, anti-fungal.
  • Cloves – antibacterial, antiviral, anti-fungal, and antiseptic. They also improve the metabolism.
  • Ginger – prevents and manages stomach ulcers, anti-inflammatory, stimulates blood circulation, and protects against cold and flu.
  • Black pepper – a powerful antioxidant and antibacterial (especially helpful against respiratory conditions).

 

 

The 5 Superfoods of Sushi Restaurants

Iodine rich foods, like fishJapanese traditional cuisine is based on seafood and fresh vegetables and is packed with superfoods! So you’d think going out for sushi would be incredibly healthy for you – right? Well, it can be. But the first step towards making your Sushi night a healthful success is ditching one ingredient: White rice.

White rice is high on the glycemic index and low in vitamins and minerals compared with unprocessed grains. It’s calorie-dense and will boost your insulin levels to make you feel hungrier – Sumo wrestlers eat it all the time!

But what is sushi without the rice?

  1. It’s called sashimi. Seriously. Order sashimi and you’ll enjoy a plate of delicious fresh raw fish, minus the calorie-dense, vitamin-deficient processed white rice. My favorites are fatty tuna and salmon, both rich in Omega-3 fatty acids.
  2. Hand rolls, seaweed wrappers packed with raw fish and fresh vegetables, are another superfood staple. Seaweed is one of nature’s best sources of iodine, which improves your skin and helps your metabolism for faster, easier weight loss.
  3. Green tea is rich in cancer-fighting antioxidants and has even been shown to reduce anxiety – which means it’s good for the body and the mind! Green tea also has small amounts of flouride, making it excellent for strengthening teeth (in  moderation).
  4. Miso soup comes with nearly every sushi dinner. It contains kojic acid, which reduces age spots and brightens skin.
  5. Edamame, soy beans, reduces symptoms of menopause and help women maintain balanced hormone levels. Even for younger women, soy helps skin stay plump and elastic.

Of course, you’ll also want to avoid the tempura and sushi rolls with crazy names, like “crunchy rainbow volcano roll.” Not only do these rolls all include white rice, they also often rely on mayonnaise and fried ingredients. These rolls are made to please Western palates – you’d never find them in a sushi restaurant in Japan (unless they cater to tourists!).

Diet Plans for The New Year – Which is right for you?

Banh Mi Gourmet Style

At Intelligent Gourmet, we know it’s not about losing weight – it’s about living your best life. And, the only way to do that is by giving your body everything it needs to thrive. That said, for many of us, part of becoming healthier, happier people involves undoing some of the less-great decisions of our pasts and, yes, losing weight. Unfortunately, changing your lifestyle doesn’t happen overnight (though one diet claims otherwise), and an actual “Diet” might be just what you need to kick-start your efforts. Here are a few Intelligent Gourmet-Approved plans.

With all the diets below, you can mix and match to create your own healthy and delicious eating plan that works for you. What matters is keeping your nutrition high, your calories controlled, and your exercise up! Be sure to combine your eating plan with a regimen of physical activity that is right for you. Whichever weight loss plan interests you, be sure to first discuss it with your primary health care provider.

The Mediterranean Diet
Resources: The New Sonoma Diet, The Mediterranean Diet, The Omega Diet, The New Mediterranean Diet

Who should consider this:
• People with families, since it has a wide variety of foods and is something everyone can do
• Those with a risk of heart disease
• Anyone who wants to maintain their healthy weight
• People interested in lifestyle changes and learning to eat for optimal health

The Mediterranean Diet is the recommended diet of the Mayo Clinic. Research has shown that the traditional Mediterranean diet reduces the risk of heart disease and cancer, as well as a reduced incidence of Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases. Every meal is based on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, olive oil, beans, nuts legumes, seeds, herbs and spices – with moderate amounts of seafood, poultry, eggs, cheese and yogurt. Red meat and sweets are a once-in-a-while treat.

The Anti- Inflammatory Diet

Resources: The Perricone Weight-Loss Diet, The Anti-Inflammation Zone, The Inflammation Free Diet Plan

Who should consider this:
• Those with a family history of heart disease
• A family history of arthritis or Alzheimer’s disease
• Anti-aging buffs looking for younger-looking skin
• Those with inflammation-related health problems

Anti-Inflammatory Diets focus on foods that are rich in antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids. You’ll be eating salmon, lots of fruits and vegetables, nuts and low-fat dairy, but you’ll have to avoid processed foods made with flour, sugar or other sweeteners. No breads, cereals, crackers, fried foods, fruit juice, pasta, pizza, soda, or even frozen yogurt allowed. The up-side? You’ll look great!

Gluten Free Diet
Resources: Wheat Belly, Grain Brain, The G – Free Diet

Who should consider this:

• People with diagnosed celiac disease
• People with skin allergies
• Those with auto immune disease
• People with chronic inflammation
• Diabetics

If you don’t like to read labels this diet isn’t for you. It requires eliminating all contact with gluten to be effective. This diet is fabulous for people who love to make their food from scratch, using whole ingredients, since you’ll want more control over exactly what you’re putting into your body. Or you can always order Intelligent Gourmet meal plans. 😉

Vegan/Vegetarian Diet
Resources: Forks Over Knives, Eat to Live, The Kind Diet, The China Study

Who should consider this:
• People with hypertension
• People with high cholesterol
• Heart patients

The American Dietetic Association has given the official “Okay” to vegetarian and vegan diets as being healthful and nutritionally adequate. As if we needed their permission! The health benefits of a vegetable-centric diet are many, though it can lead to over-dependence on carbs unless you’re careful. Careful is really the watchword for vegetarian and vegan diets. You have to be careful to ensure you’re getting enough protein and micro-nutrients since you’re cutting out a significant source (meat). My tips are: Keep sweets and fatty foods to a minimum, go with whole grains, and eat a wide variety of whole foods that include protein-rich staples like lentils.

A Fat Burning, Low Calorie Diet
Resources: The New Abs Diet, The Flat Belly Diet, From Belly Fat to Belly Flat, The L.A. Shape Diet

Who should consider this:
• Those who want to drop a few pounds quickly
• Exercise junkies
• Non-foodies
• Models

What I like about these types of diets is the emphasis on eating less and moving more. That’s a recipe that always works! There’s a heavy emphasis on protein-rich foods like almonds and beans, allowing you to feel full for longer, and refined carbs and sweets are kept to a minimum. Just be sure that your “low calorie” diet is at a minimum of 1,200 calories a day – no less. Otherwise you’re burning muscle, not fat!

Merry Christmas – and Let There Be Cookies!

Snickerdoodles with cardamom

Merry Christmas Everyone!

I know that Christmas just isn’t complete without something sweet, and cookies are too good to pass up! But, if you need a nutritionist’s blessing over your Holiday table to feel less guilty about indulging, here it is. While you can make healthier cookies using anything from vegan butter, to finely ground nuts, gluten-free flour, and agave nectar – even if you make your Christmas cookies with white sugar and shortening, the spices in them still have very healthy qualities. 

Why Christmas Cookies Are Healthy For You (kinda)

Gingerbread Cookies

Ginger, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg combine to make gingerbread cookies rich, spicy, delicious – and healthy. A true superfood, ginger improves blood flow, prevents colon cancer, reduces inflammation, strengthens the immune system and fights respiratory problems brought on by winter colds. Cinnamon helps reduce bad cholesterol; cloves are packed with antioxidants and manganese (which helps you control your weight and improve your mood); and nutmeg contains trace minerals that strengthen the immune system, and antibacterial properties that help protect teeth and gums. You can even find nutmeg oil in some toothpastes.

Find a healthy Gingerbread Cookie recipe using spelt flour here.

Snickerdoodles

The main ingredient flavoring delicious, soft and chewy Snickerdoodles is cinnamon. Cinnamon reduces LDL cholesterol levels (which, in turn, reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease), fights ulcer-causing bacteria and pathogens, is anti-inflammatory, and helps balance hormones in women.

Find a vegan Snickerdoodle recipe here.

Lebkuchen

This German Christmas cookie is made with a number of spices, candied citrus peels, hazelnuts and almonds. The combination of cinnamon, ginger and cloves is powerful enough to make them healthier than the average cookie, but when you add ingredients like flavanoid-rich orange and lemon peels, constipation-reducing dates, and protein and good fat-packed nuts, this cookie starts looking more like a breakfast bar you’d find in a health food store! If, that is, it weren’t for all the sugar.

Martha Stewart’s Lebkuchen recipe here.

Enjoy everything on your holiday table this year, and we at Intelligent Gourmet wish you a very Merry Christmas!

Find these recipes and more on the Intelligent Gourmet Holidays Pinterest Board

Vitamins Shmitamins – Scientists Confirm Common Sense

Citrus and beet saladAchieving great health isn’t as easy as popping a pill – so say five physicians from Johns Hopkins School of Public Health and Warwick Medical School in a recent journal editorial in the Annals of Internal Medicine. The story has been making headlines this month because the news is shocking to many self-described “health nuts.”

For me, this news couldn’t be more exciting. I’ve been telling people for years that whole foods – WHOLE FOODS! – are what your body needs to process just the right amounts of nutrition. Whole foods are almost always naturally balanced so their healing, healthful properties work together, boosting each other and catalyzing each other. When you separate out and condense one good property from its support system, the result isn’t nearly as beneficial – in fact, it can even be harmful.

That vitamins can be harmful may be the real shocker in this revelation. The authors specify Beta-carotene, vitamin E, and high doses of vitamin A supplements as being particularly bad, and the physicians were not at all impressed with folic acid, B vitamins, mineral supplements and multivitamins either.

Their conclusion?

A balanced diet is the best approach.

No kidding! Antioxidants, vitamins and other nutrients aren’t meant to be solo acts – they’re ensemble players. They need their supporting casts to do their work. In fact, the only vitamin not yet on the “Naughty List” is folic acid for pregnant women (and I’d still recommend a whole foods approach of leafy greens, asparagus, broccoli and citrus). Oh, and that vitamin D3? Get it from sunlight (you can overdose by pill, but your skin absorbs only what you need from the sun).

The journal article is titled “Enough is Enough: Stop Wasting Money on Vitamin and Mineral Supplements” and I recommend everyone read it. Then come in to Intelligent Gourmet and drink some nutrition-packed juice. It’s better than any vitamin!