What’s Cinco de Mayo without Cilantro?

Add this distinct herb for extra flavor and health benefits

cinco de may blog

Pico de Gallo is a traditional Mexican dish featuring fresh cilantro.

We’re taking a look at herbs and their ability to add great flavor to your recipes, often eliminating the need for salt. We started with basil in March and this month we’re featuring cilantro.

Be sure to check back often to learn more about herbs and how to incorporate them into a delicious, healthy eating plan.

Celebrate with cilantro

With Cinco de Mayo just around the corner, it’s time to celebrate Mexican food and culture. Pico de Gallo, with its fresh tomato, onion, chile, lime juice and cilantro, is a classic component of Mexican festivities.  It’s also popular in Thai, Indian and Chinese cuisines.

Of cilantro’s two components used in cooking (seeds and leaves), our focus is on the leaves. The seeds are known as coriander and the leaves are known as cilantro (or coriander leaves). Look for bright green leaves without yellow spots if you purchase cut cilantro. If you’re harvesting from your own garden, cut up to 1/3 of the plant at a time, leaving enough leaves for continued growth. To clean cilantro leaves, move them gently around a bowl of cold water until all dirt/sand is removed. When chopping the cilantro, include some of the tender stems for additional flavor. Continue reading

Avocado health benefits

Indulge in game-day guacamole without guilt

healthy snack blog
Recent studies have confirmed the heart-healthy benefits of avocados.

Many of us are looking forward to Super Bowl Sunday — some for the game and others for the snacks. And since guacamole has become a Super Bowl staple, there’s good news for those in the latter category. Avocados, the main ingredient in guacamole, may lower your cholesterol and risk of heart disease.

Avocados are rich in vitamins, minerals, plant sterols and fiber, as well as the heart-healthy monounsaturated fats also found in olive oil and nuts. Recent studies in Spain have confirmed that including olive oil and nuts regularly in the diet can reduce the risk of heart disease. Now, new evidence has added avocados to the list of risk-reducing foods. Continue reading

Low-carb v low-fat diet

Does ditching the carbs lead to a healthier heart?

raw food2

A new study discusses the advantages of a low-carb v low-fat diet and its impact on heart health.

Low-carb diets of one form or another have been on our radar for quite some time as a way to quickly shed pounds, but we haven’t known much about how these types of diets affect our heart health. A study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine last week says that compared to a low-fat diet, a low-carbohydrate diet is better not only for weight loss, but may also be better for your heart. Before we jump on the low-carb bandwagon, let’s take a closer look at this low-carb v low-fat study.

The study

This study included 148 obese men and women with healthy lipids and no history of heart disease or type 2 diabetes. They were assigned randomly to either a low-fat or low-carbohydrate diet, and they followed these diets for 12 months. All participants met with registered dietitians and received nutrition education, with emphasis on the benefits of monounsaturated fats and recommendations to limit trans fats. Those assigned to the low-fat diet were instructed to have less than 30 percent of their total calories from fat (less than 7 percent from saturated fat), while those assigned to the low-carb diet were instructed to limit their carbohydrate intake to less than 40 grams per day. Neither group was given a specific calorie goal. On average across the 12 months, participants in the low-carb group consumed about 130 fewer calories per day than those in the low-fat group. Continue reading