Real Food

13 Ways Avocados Love You Back!

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I love avocados. And with good reason, they’re diverse, taste great and are an amazing source of nutrients. Avocado’s array of health benefits are so vast that I’m actually convinced avocados love us too.

Here are 13 Ways Avocados Love You Back!

1. Eating Avocado Regularly Can Support a Healthy Heart!

  • This creamy green fruit contains essential fatty acids that help to lubricate and protect blood vessels by removing cholesterol deposits, free radicals and other blockages.
  • Avos also contain copper, iron and b-vitamins that are key to the formation and function of red blood cells.
  • Their levels of magnesium and potassium are also known to help reduce blood pressure.

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Top 7 Health Benefits of Turmeric

Top 7 Health Benefits of TurmericAs the saying goes: “Let Food Be Thy Medicine” and when it comes to the health benefits of turmeric, it’s certainly a potent medicine!

The health benefits of turmeric, a member of the ginger family, cannot be understated. This potent medicinal herb tops my charts of most beneficial and far-reaching plant medicinals – a must have for any herbal first aid kit or any long-term medical plan!

If you’re a lover of Asian or Indian Cuisine then you might already be familiar with turmeric, a common spice used in these colorful and delicious culinary traditions.

It’s one of the main ingredients in Curry powder; a flavorful spice blend with more to offer than simply a musky taste and beautiful shade of yellowish orange. Turmeric is widely grown in South East Asia and India, and lucky for me, in Pacific Islands including Hawaii where we call it olena. A couple of months ago I planted my first bunch of turmeric and I can’t wait to harvest it!

This potent spice has caught the attention of western researchers only fairly recently despite having a long reputation as a natural remedy for a wide variety of ailments in many traditional cultures. Now people are calling turmeric a ‘super-food’, ‘the spice of life’ and natures ‘ultimate healing herb’. It’s also becoming widely recognized as ‘one of natures best skin foods’.

Why does turmeric have so many health benefits? Most research keeps pointing back to one of the main active ingredients in turmeric called curcumin, a curcuminoid responsible for the yellow pigment color of turmeric. Curcumin has been identified as the agent responsible for most of the biological activity of turmeric, which according to Dr. Mercola has been shown to influence over 700 genes. This is yet another reason to eat all the colors of the rainbow! Read More: (more…)

Dragon Fruit

Dragon Fruit

Dragon fruit has got to be one of the most spectacular and exotic looking fruits on the face of this planet – actually, it looks like it could be from another planet!

Want to immerse yourself for a whole week in exploring, tasting and eating exotic fruits like this? Check out our group or private raw food retreats here in Hawaii.

This far out fruit comes from a veining cactus growing around the tropic and subtropics. It’s native to Mexico and grows in South America but is largely grown in Asia where it is known as pitaya or pitahaya. You can find this unique dragon fruit in local grocery stores throughout North America, as their thick skin makes for easy shipping.

Dragon fruit comes in three main variety of colors; bright pinkish-red that when you cut open you’re either mesmerized by a deep fuchsia, a pure milky white translucent flesh. There’s also a yellow variety with the same whitish color inside (like shown above). It’s leathery skin is covered with beautiful green ribbon-like protuberances. All varieties come packed with a multitudes of edible, crunchy black seeds which lends this fruit it’s higher-than-average fat content. (more…)

Lychees Please

lychees

It’s lychee season here in Hawaii and I’m in heaven! These little lychee fruits are like little drops of pure nourishing nectar. What a blessing to be able to eat something that’s not only juicy and delicious, but fresh, raw, organic and local! Lychee season is typically in the summer months of the year, so if you come to Hawaii for a visit at that time, keep an eye out for these earthly delights.

All About Lychees

Lychees are nearly round, oval and sometimes heart shaped (my favorite) that are usually 1 to 1.5 inches in length. Lychees are covered by a leathery rind that is strawberry red in color and a little bumpy and rough in texture. Best to pick when they are sark red. Once picked they last about 3 days before they start turning brown. Fresh is best!
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Top 5 Health Benefits of Sprouts

top-5-health-benefits-of-sprouts

There’s many good reasons why I love sprouts.  You can grow them at any time of year and add them to a wide variety of meals. There’s also dozens of different kinds of sprouts to choose from. Sprouts are also incredibly nutrient dense, are low in calories, low on the glycemic index, are high in fiber and loaded with vitamins and minerals and like most real, fresh food, offers a host of health benefits. Here are my top 5 health benefits of sprouts. Here’s to sprouting good health!

Top 5 Health Benefits of Sprouts

1. Sprouts Are Easy to Digest

During the sprouting process there is a tremendous increase in metabolic activity:
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Passionate for Passion Fruit

Passion fruit

Passion fruit is known locally here in Hawaii as lilikoi and is also commonly known as granadilla in other parts of the world. This fruit is a staple in our household. I’ve had so much fun playing with this tasty and sour fruit in different low fat, raw vegan recipes, like passion fruit smoothies and raw, vegan passion fruit pies. I also love to eat lilikoi with papaya fruit, a wonderful combination and match made in heaven. We have both yellow and purple varieties growing on our property that both have a glossy, smooth and slightly egg shaped exterior.

Waking up and picking passion fruit first thing in the morning off the lawn surrounding our house reminds me of Easter egg hunting when I was a little kid – makes me smile every time.

Passion fruit grows on a vine that can grow up to 15 to 20 ft per year with a lifespan of only 5-7 years. The flower that produces this fruit is purely magical. Its subtle aroma is such a sensory tease for what’s to come. Such an incredible process that nature has blessed us with witnessing – the birth and creation of fruit from such a spectacularly beautiful flower that is nourishing to the soul on so many other levels than simply physical. This is the power that nature has – to nourish all of our being.

The flower of passion fruit

Health Benefits of Passion Fruit

Like most fruit, passion fruit is a super rich source of fiber, vitamins and minerals, anti-oxidants and water – closely mimicking the nutritional requirements of our bodies. It’s also low in calories and contains zero cholesterol.

Passion fruit is high in soluble fiber: A 236g serving of passion fruit contains 25g of dietary fiber, a whopping 98% of daily value.  Not only does fiber help in weight-loss but it also helps ward off the potential threat of many diseases. The fiber found in fruits also helps to slow the entrance of glucose in the bloodstream, thereby preventing large spikes in blood sugar. It also helps to further lower cholesterol levels.

Passion Fruit is high in Vitamins: Passion fruit is especially high vitamin A, C, B2, B3, B6 and folate. The sour taste of passion fruit is a clue it is high in ascorbic acid, also known as vitamin C, a powerful water-soluble anti-oxidant. In one serving of passion fruit (236g), there is over 70mg of vitamin C compromising almost 120% of our daily value. Passion fruit is also particularly high in vitamin A, playing a key role in helping you maintain a healthy immune system, healthy eyes, skin, teeth and bones. The best way to get vitamin A in your body is through whole, ripe, fresh fruits and vegetables. One serving of passion fruit provides about 60% of our daily value of vitamin A.

Passion Fruit is high in Minerals:  Passion fruit also serves up a healthy dose of minerals, including iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, and copper. Potassium is an essential mineral and electrolyte. It helps the body maintain its water and acid balance. It also plays a key role in maintaining normal blood pressure and in transmitting nerve impulses. It’s also important to maintain a proper sodium to potassium ratio in the diet. High sodium to potassium consumption has been linked to increased risk of heart disease. Fruits provide the perfect ratio of potassium to sodium balance for us to be optimally healthy. One serving of passion fruit contains over 20% of our daily need for potassium.

Macronutrient Breakdown of Passion Fruit

  • Carbohydrates: 86%
  • Fats: 6%
  • Protein: 8%

Passion fruit has a low glycemic load, and is mildly anti-inflammatory, making it an ideal, healthy snack.

There are so many wonderful and amazing fruit to enjoy.  Do you want to experience the wonderful taste of this exotic fruit? Check out our raw food Hawaii retreats.

 Aloha from the Big Island of Hawaii,

Laura Dawn, Registered Holistic Nutritionist

The Truth About Oils: Are Oils Really a Health Food?

the-truth-about-oilsI have to admit, for many years I was subject to believe that certain “heart healthy” oils made the “good” list of health-promoting foods. Sold in health food stores and marketed as health foods, I believed it all – where else was I going to get all my essential fatty acids (EFA’s)? I didn’t want to be deficient in Omega 3’s! (One of the most widely marketed nutrients of our time.)

I studied nutrition and this is what they taught us at school; that heart-healthy fats are a great source of essential fatty acids and should be included in a healthy diet.

But after diving into the low-fat raw vegan lifestyle and doing lots of research (including reading an excellent book by Dr. Douglas Graham called The 80/10/10 Diet) and personal experimentation, what I discovered was that oils aren’t exactly as healthy as they are often promoted to be.

The Truth About Oils

Oils – all oils – are refined. And hopefully you know what we should do with refined foods:  mainly, avoid them. So why doesn’t the same go for oils? Just as the wheat is stripped of it’s nutrients and fiber to make a refined flour product, so too are fats extracted from whole foods sources to make a fractional product that is now 100% fat. Once something is extracted from it’s whole, it is no longer what it once was, as we know: the whole is much more that merely the sum of its parts. And what we are left with is what we call empty calories.

Despite the fact that many of these ‘healthy’ oils like flax, hemp, olive, almond, avocado, are all deemed to be health foods, they are still stripped of their protein, carbohydrates, fiber, vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals – and what we are left with, the real bang for your buck is calories, and a bigger waistline – oh yes – and an empty pocket.

These expensive oils that are marketed as having extremely precise and technical extraction methods are still refined foods. Whole foods are like complete little packages provided by nature to protect the fats from the damaging effects of light, oxygen and heat and less prone to the damaging effects of free radicals. It’s simply impossible to extract oil from any plant source and not damage it whatsoever as monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats are extremely sensitive and unstable. It would be hard to argue that the best health benefits from these fats come when they are in their whole food package and when it is through chewing that they are extracted and broken down, as opposed to any kind of machine.

Of course, if you are adamant about keeping oils in your diet, I would recommend cold-pressed organic oils, preferably with a high ratio of omega 3’s, (like flax oil and hempseed oil) but it’s hard to argue that simply going direct to these same whole plant sources (like flax seeds and hemp seeds) for essential fatty acids is a healthier choice still.

Since I dropped oil out of my diet, I’ve noticed a huge difference in how I feel and my clients have as well. Once I learned the truth about oils, it was actually really easy to transition to oil-free dressings like this Oil-Free Orange Celery Salad Dressing and oil-free dips like this Red Earth Dip. I love using vegetables and fruits as the base to most of my dressings (rather than oils, and high fat foods like nuts and seeds), adding even more whole, organic nutrient dense foods to my diet.

Like I say to my clients: experiment! Try going a day, a week, or a month without oils and see what changes you notice. Oils will always still be there for you if you want to go back to them, but honestly, the health benefits far outweigh the perceived need of refined oils in the diet – even the perceived healthy ones!

Just think: there is approximately 120 calories in every single Tablespoon of extra oil that you add to your diet, that adds up extremely quickly. Making one small change to your diet, like removing oils, just might be the little change that will help you to reach your desired health goals.

Aloha from the Big Island of Hawaii,

Laura Dawn, Registered Holistic Nutritionist

Star Fruit

Star Fruit

Thanks to the handy wikipedia site, I now know that the aptly nicknamed star fruit is really known as carambola, native to parts of Southeast Asia. Thankfully, this tropically fruit thrives in Hawaii and is currently in season on the Big Island. Living a low-fat, raw vegan lifestyle, a typical breakfast for me (with star fruit in season) looks like: a plate full of about 6-9 star fruit and I’ll eat as much of this one fruit until I’m comfortably full. Star fruits are so juicy and have such a subtle and delicately sweet flavor. I love eating what’s growing locally and in abundance. 

The entire fruit is edible, except the seeds. Star fruit has a slightly waxy textured skin, and the inside flesh is firm, crunchy and extremely juicy – quenching any thirst. Its high water content and high content of insoluble fiber makes this fruit easy to digest, and helps maintain proper function of the bowels, speeding elimination time. Almost all fruit shares these characteristics, making them the perfect food to predominate any healthy diet.

Macronutrient Breakdown of Star Fruit

Compared to many fruit, star fruit has a higher than average protein and fat content, ranking in at:

  • Carbohydrates: 80%
  • Protein: 11%
  • Fat: 9%

Like almost all fruit, star fruit is the perfect food to eat on low-fat, raw vegan diet as it fits the recommended target of at least 80% fats, 10% protein and 10% fat (also referred to as 80/10/10).

Star fruit is extremely high in vitamin C. Consuming one cup of star fruit (about 130 grams) would yield you 45.4 mg of vitamin C, that’s over 75% of our daily requirement in only one cup!

Buying, Picking and Storing Star Fruit

It’s best to pick star fruit fresh, when it is ripe, but if you buy it when it’s still green, it will ripen into a nice yellow color. Make sure to turn the non-ripe fruit at least once a day. If you’re choosing them at a market, pick nicely colored yellow (or orangish) star fruit that are firm. You don’t want the fruit to feel soft to the touch. Avoid buying star fruit if it’s turning brown, but if it’s just the ridges that are brown, you can easily just cut along the outer ridges. You can also cut the ridges off if they’re still a little green.

Hope you all get a chance at some point to try this delicious fruit. If you’d like to learn how to transition to a raw vegan lifestyle and would love to come to Hawaii, check out our raw food Hawaii retreats.

Aloha from the Big Island of Hawaii!

Laura Dawn

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