Sprouts taco dinner

I was in the mood for something quick after fighting 108º F weather and commuter traffic today in the blast furnace summertime of Dallas, so I went for something that looks great, tastes great, and is sure to boost my spirits to face another day just like this one tomorrow.

I harvested my lentil sprouts this morning, so they had been in the fridge all day, just chillin’.  Summertime is a great time for good-tasting tomatoes, when the taste hasn’t been compromised by refrigeration, and I can never turn away from a just-ripe avocado!

sprout tacosThere it was, simple, tasty, and inspiring with its color and fresh taste!

I had some organic corn tortillas that were very low in sodium and no oils, and I had some spicy tomato sauce left over from last week that was just enough to mix in with my sprouts.  I pulled three tortillas out of the storage bag, heated them for 20 seconds, covered with a paper plate, in the microwave oven.

To get my quota of cruciferous veggies for the day, I steamed some brussels sprouts and diced butternut squash I had prepared for steaming over the weekend.  This couldn’t have been any easier!  Faster than waiting in a drive-thru line at a greasy hamburger joint where I used to spend my money.

The result was a full stomach, nutritious perfection, and I was done with it all by 7 p.m.  Time to kick up my feet and watch some baseball!

Advertisements

Seeds and nuts blend

Because seeds and nuts are an important source of oils, and because they are easy to binge-eat for me, they are a part of my daily eating habit, but only in limited portions.  I limit them, not because they are unhealthy, but because the binge-eating is just an awful calorie increasing habit.

In order to be successful in staying away from the binge, I make a blend that is very tasty, has a variety of healthful seeds and nuts, and can be made ahead of time and kept in the refrigerator for a few days.

The mix I use most of the time consists of raw cashews, golden roasted flax seeds, chia seeds, and avocado seeds (see my post on avocado seed preparation.).

seedmixIngredients:

2 tbsp raw cashew pieces
1 tbsp golden roasted flax seeds
1 tbsp chia seeds
1 avocado seed, prepped and chopped
1/2 tsp cumin powder (optional, but wow, is it good!)

Directions:

Prep the avocado seeds as shown in this post.  Add avocado seed pieces and all other ingredients to a food processor or grinder.  Grind all ingredients to a fine texture.  The mix retains its great flavor for several days, refrigerated in an airtight container.

Since you might use this seed mixture in a variety of dishes, including breakfast smoothies, you might forego the cumin, but I find it to be very mild, and it adds a rich taste to the smoothies.

Avocado seeds put to healthful use

Could it be true!

I usually eat at least one avocado a day. I add them to smoothies, take them in my lunch, packed with a sharp knife from home so I can keep them whole and fresh until I’m ready to cut into them, and sometimes, I just eat them in the skin, adding some black pepper or red pepper sauce when it’s handy.

Until a few weeks ago, I had always done what I had always done — I threw the enormous seeds into the nearest trash can, figuring they would be impossible to crack without a jackhammer, and I did not have one in my garage.  And, then, I started reading about avocado seeds and found out that about 70 percent of the avocado’s nutrient value is in the seed itself! Holy guacamole! (I just had to say that.)

Health benefits of avocado seeds

So, thanks to Google and the pioneers on the natural foods front, I found that avocados are indeed healthful for a variety of health conditions.  Ranging from old wive’s tale practices to modern studies, the reported benefits are that avocado seeds provide antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits, extraordinary benefits to digestion (very high in soluble fiber), and excellent collagen support for healthy skin.

As one who suffers from the autoimmune disease, psoriasis, as well as mild psoriatic arthritis — as well as one who refuses to get started on prescription drugs, many of which have severe and life-threatening sideshows — I’ve been adding natural foods to my diet for several weeks to battle inflammation and joint damaging arthritic diseases.  A sidenote: after only seven days on a pure Eat To Live diet, following Dr. Fuhrman’s arthritis protocol, my joint pain went away and has not returned.  This was also true of my previous stint on Eat To Live when I was mostly focused on weight loss instead of building my immune system.  When my weight loss was accomplished, and my doctor’s less than enthusiastic response to my taking myself off my blood pressure and cholesterol meds, I went back to bad habits.  All the joint problems returned in full force within a matter of a few months, and, of course, in a matter of two years, I had regained 70 of the 85 pounds I had lost.

Avocado seed prep

So, back to the main topic!  Being curious, I started collecting the seeds by washing them thoroughly and placing them in a bowl in my window sill where they could get some sunshine and would dry within a few days.  After I had a few of them ready for grinding, I assembled my arsenal and went to work.

avoseed1
I have my cutting board, chef’s knife, my seed (coffee) grinder, three seeds, and my Snapware storage container. the seed shown here on the bottom still has the thin outer layer of skin loosely attached. The darkest of the three (top right) is the driest, and consequently, the hardest to crack.  The top left seed is ideal because it is still a little soft at the core and provides a notch where the knife blade can be anchored when making the first cut.  Aside: some people use a hammer with the seed placed in a plastic bag, which is not a bad idea, though I did not find it necessary.

After making the first halving cut, lengthwise, the rest of the cuts were easy, using the heel of the chef’s knife.  Just make sure all fingers and curious cats are clear of the possible collateral damage and shrapnel that may be involved if the attempt fails.  If it does fail, go get the hammer!  Here it is split eight ways:

avoseed3

By the way, this is the driest of the seeds that I showed you above on the top right. It worked fine by anchoring the knife blade in the yellow portion.

I continued to cut the seeds into smaller and smaller sizes as long as I had enough yellow to anchor my knife blade.  Then, when I was satisfied that the sizes would be small enough not to tear up my seed grinder, I put a few pieces at a time into the grinder and ground them until they were powdery with a few small chunks remaining.

avoseed2

I store the ground seed in my Snapware container and use 1 tbsp a day in my morning breakfast smoothie.  Some bloggers have complained that the seed has a bitter taste.  The seeds are loaded with tannins, hence the mild bitterness.  I didn’t find it offensive at all, but then, my favorite wines were always the very dry red cabs.  No drinky alcohol any more, but it explains my tolerance for tannins.

avoseed4

Sources (among many others who say pretty much the same thing):

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23448442
http://dramyneuzil.com/tag/eating-avocado-pit/
http://dailysuperfoodlove.com/4448/the-surprising-benefits-of-avocado-seeds/

Banana Avocado Breakfast Smoothie

In order to get out the door and to work on time, I put all these items in an airtight container the night before so that I can simply put it all in a blender for my breakfast the next morning.  I can even drink it on the way to work, so it’s a time-saver.  And, it’s very healthful and delicious.  Here is the basic smoothie, and I change it up with new things occasionally.

1.5 cups unsweetened coconut milk
1 banana, sliced
1 avocado, skin and seed removed
1 cup fresh blueberries (frozen okay during off-season)
1/4 cup flax or chia seeds, freshly ground (I use a dedicated coffee grinder)
4 sprigs of fresh mint, chopped with long stems removed
1 large handful of fresh greens (spinach and baby kale are ideal!)
Ice cubes as desired

Place all items in blender, and blend to desired consistency.  I use the puree setting on my blender, and it’s very smooth and delicious.  It makes about 16 oz.

Substitutes: Any berries, walnuts instead of listed seeds, nut milks (low or no sodium important)