Making the Perfect Coconut Granola — February 11, 2021

Making the Perfect Coconut Granola

 

The perfect coconut granola is the perfect combination of oats, nuts, seeds, add-ins, fruit, sweetener—such as honey or maple syrup.

The perfect coconut granola is not only the perfect simple and fast breakfast…but also the perfect after school snack…the perfect topping for yogurt, ice cream, milk or fresh fruit…the perfect food for camping trips and road trips.

The perfect coconut granola can be made ahead of time and stored for weeks.

 

 

 

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Ingredients

The Oats…4C…Old-fashioned oats will keep their shape during baking, but use certified gluten-free oats if you need gluten-free granola. Do not use instant or quick oats.

 

The Fruit…1C…Whether or not you actually use fruit is totally up to you, but fruit adds extra sweetness, chewy texture, and more flavor to your finished granola. Any dried fruit will work—dried cherries, dried cranberries, dried apricots, raisins, mixed dried berries

 

The Coconut…2/3C unsweetened flaked coconut

 

 

The Sweetener…1/3 cup maple syrup or honey or agave nectar…Use whichever one you like the best or what you have on hand. Another option would be 1/4C brown sugar. Such  sweeteners stick to the oats and give you plenty of sweet chunks in the mix. You can use whatever kind of sweetener and oil that you’d like, but the coating for your granola should be about half sweetener and half oil.

 

 

 

The Nuts and Seeds…1C…Good option would be any one or a combination of the following…almonds, walnuts, pecans, pistachios, pepitas, sunflower seeds, cashews, peanuts, and macadamia nuts.

 

 

The Oil…2/3C melted coconut oil…The oil is what makes the granola crispy. Substitutes for coconut oil include extra virgin olive oil or butter.

 

The Salt…1/2tsp…Salt adds flavor to your granola. Try using fine-grain sea salt instead of regular table salt. 

 

 

The Spices…1tsp…Spices can give your granola a subtle warming flavor. Good options include ginger, pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon.

 

The Vanilla…2tsp vanilla…simply because you’re baking something…have you ever noticed that whenever you’re baking anything at all, one of the ingredients is always vanilla…and you start by preheating your oven to 350…

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Optional Mix-Ins…Feel free to experiment by adding whatever else you want,,,such as 2tsp lemon or orange zest, mini chocolate chips, small candies like M&M’s, chia seeds…you name it…or find it…

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Instructions
 

Preheat oven to 300°F. Line rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Whisk together oil, sweetener, salt, and spices. Add oats and almonds. Stir to coat well. Press the granola into an even layer onto the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes, stirring only once halfway through cooking. Remove from the oven. Add the fruit. Press and tamp down the granola before it cools to help the granola stick together. Cool completely before storing. Avoid jostling the granola on the pan any more than you gave to until it cools completely. Once completely cooled, transfer to an airtight container, where it will keep for up to a month.



Making the Perfect Coconut Tea — February 7, 2021

Making the Perfect Coconut Tea

Coconut tea is a caffeinated beverage that is relatively new to America and parts of Europe, but has actually been enjoyed for generations in tropical regions where coconuts commonly grow.

Coconut tea combines coconut flakes and milk into green or black tea to create both a wonderful flavor and a wealth of health benefits.

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The Why

Coconut milk contans a high level of healthy fats, antioxidants, vitamin C, fiber, and many important minerals—such as magnesiumiron, and potassium.

Coconut has been proven to have many health benefits. Coconut and coconut-related groceries such as coconut oil and shredded coconut can help prevent cancer, improve heart health, boosting the immune system, and protect the skin.

Green and black tea can give the immune system a major boost.

Both of these two main ingredients can h ve an effect on the metabolism, boost passive fat-burning. aid weight loss efforts, help protect you from high blood pressure and coronary heart disease…

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Coconut Tea

  • 2Tbsp heavy milk
  • 1C coconut milk
  • 4 green or black tea bags
  • 4C water
  • 8 cardamom pods
  • cloves
  • 2Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1Tbsp peppercorn

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Instructions 

Bring 4 cups of water to boil, At this point you can choose between making chai coconut tea or green tea coconut tea.

To make chai coconut tea, add 8 cardamom pods, 8 cloves, and 1Tbsp to saucepan. Then add four black tea bags. Remove from heat. Steep for 5min. In a second saucepan, bring 1C coconut milk and 2Tbsp brown sugar to a simmer. Mix the milk into the tea. Heat for 2min. Whisk the entire mixture.

To make coconut green tea, add three green tea bags. Remove from heat. Let the tea steep 5min. Pour in 1/4 cup of coconut milk and 2 tablespoons of heavy cream. Stir thoroughly. Remove the tea bag. Regardless which tea you are making, you can either serve the tea warm or refrigerate and serve cold.  

Making the Perfect Coconut Water Smoothie — February 5, 2021

Making the Perfect Coconut Water Smoothie

Coconut water is a refreshing and hydrating option to the milk or plain water that we all typically think of as the liquid base for smoothies. Not only that, coconut water offers so much more as far as nutrition and health benefits.

Coconut water smoothies are especially great after you work out because it quickly rehydrates you and is a great, natural source of antioxidants and key electrolytes—such as potassium and sodium—that your body needs in order to bounce back after working up a sweat.

Coconut water is also a natural and healthy alternative to the not-so-healthy Gatorade-style energy drinks we usually grab after working out because coconut water contains low amounts of salt and sugar…as well as no artificial additives or colors.

So here are only a few quick and easy ideas for using coconut water in smoothies that are low in calories and a weight loss friendly…

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The Base…1C coconut water

The Greens…1C kale

The Fruit…(pick and choose your favorites…note that both fresh and frozen will work)…

  • Banana…1 peeled and chopped
  • Blueberries…½ cup
  • Cranberries…½ cup
  • Mango…½ cup chopped
  • Orange…1⁄2
  • Pineapple…1⁄2 cup chopped
  • Raspberry…1 cup
  • Strawberries…⅓ cup

The Sweetener…(Optional)…½tsp honey or agave nectar

Add-Ins…(optional)

  • Chia seeds…1Tbsp
  • Cinnamon or ginger…1/4tsp
  • Squeeze of lime
  • Ice cubes…4 to 5

Pour coconut into lender. Add kale. Blend for 1min. Add fruit and add-ins. Blend again. Add ice if using. Blend again. Enjoy! 

Nature’s Own Sports Drink — February 3, 2021

Nature’s Own Sports Drink

Dubbed by marketers as “Mother Nature’s sports drink,” coconut water has become a “trendy” beverage in recent years…a beverage that is had said to not only hydrate the body, but also to help with a whole host of conditions—including hangovers,  cancer and kidney stones.

Coconut water is a tasty refreshing beverage that is also good for you because it is loaded with several important nutrients, including minerals that most people don’t get enough of.

Coconut water is the clear liquid naturally found in the center of a young, green coconut.

Coconuts take about a year to fully mature. As the coconut matures, the water is replaced by coconut meat…but if the coconut is being grown to make coconut water, the coconut is harvested when the coconut is  about seven months old. The younger the fruit, the more water it contains.

Coconut water is different from coconut milk. Coconut water comes straight from the coconut…whereas coconut milk is coconut meat that has been ground up and mixed with water.

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Nutrition

  • So many of us are trying to steer clear of processed, artificially-sweetend or flavored foods these days…including fortified cereals, unhealthy snacks, and energy drinks that contain caffeine and artificial ingredients. Coconut water may be a great alternative.
  • Coconut water is low in calories…naturally free of fat…a good source of fiber…low in carbohydrates and sodium…rich in potassium…a great source of several vitamins and minerals, such as magnesium and vitamin C.
  • All without artificial ingredients or additives that may be unhealthy.
  • And not to mention super hydrating.
  • Calories…An 8-ounce serving of coconut water contains 45 calories…about the same found in the same amount of Gatorade.
  • Sugar…Most unflavored coconut water contains 1.3 grams of sugar per ounce…less sugar than many sports drinks and much less sugar.
  • Vitamins…Coconut water is a great source of vitamin C…a single eight ounce serving contains 10%RDI.
  • Minerals…One cup coconut water has more potassium than four bananas…61mg potassium17% of the RDI.

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Health Benefits

  • Coconut water has become a popular sports drink for those of us seeking energy, hydration, and endurance.
  • But let’s look at some of the other benefits that coconut water provides.

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Bloating

Many people experience uncomfortable swelling after meals that are high in sodium. Coconut water contains the potassium needed to counteract these high levels of sodium and keep your belly from swelling.

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Blood Pressure

Coconut water is effective in keeping your blood sugar levels down because of the amounts of magnesium and potassium that it contains. Potassium is often given to heart patients to strengthen their hearts.

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Energy

If you want to avoid that tired, draggy feeling in the early afternoon, drink some coconut water. Coconut water contains carbohydrates and electrolytes that rehydrate the body and are great for a quick energy boost…that’s why athletes swear by it.

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Hangover Remedy

If you drank too much alcohol the night before and are now enjoying the headache and hazy feeling of a good old-fashioned hangover, try starting the day with coconut water.  The electrolytes in coconut water replenish the body with the minerals and nutrients needed for you to function effectively and rehydrates your parched system.

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Immune System

Coconut water has a healthy supply of vitamin C which is important for…

  • boosting your immune system
  • eliminating impurities
  • fighting illness and infection
  • killing germs
  • preventing colds and flu

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Kidney Stones

Thank goodness I’ve never had a kidney stone, but I hear that they really, really hurt…and sometimes require surgery.

Whar are kidney stones?

Kidney stones are crystals formed from whenever your body has too so much calcium and oxalate that these adhere to your kidneys to form kidney stones.

Whenever you have kidney stones, doctors often recommend that you drink plenty of water, but coconut water is actually more effective than plain water in preventing the development of these crystals.

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Muscle Cramps

Cramps that are a result of such thibs as pre-menstrual syndrome, a long run or weightlifting, or potassium deficiency can be painful and debilitating, Coconut water nourishes muscles and prevents cramps because it is rich in potassium and muscle-nourishing.

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Obesity

Sodas…or as we say in the Deep South…typically contain tons of sugar…and even when you buy sugar-free soda, it still contains chemicals and preservatives that are unhealthy for you.

Coconut water on the other hand, contains no calories, provides more nutritional value, is naturally free of additives and artificial sweeteners….making it a healthier alternative.

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Skin

In order for your skin to look its best, it is essential that you consume a steady supply of water, vitamins, and minerals.

Coconut…The Why — January 29, 2021

Coconut…The Why

 

Calories…One half cup coconut…or a piece of fresh coconut meat measuring 2″ x 2″ x 1/2″…contains about 350 calories. Protein…1/2C or a 2″ cube of coconut meat contains 1.5 grams protein. Carbs…1/2C or a 2″ cube of coconut meat contains about fifteen grams carbohydrates. Fiber…1/2C or a 2″ cube of coconut meat contains four grams of fiber.

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Fat

One-half cup or a 2″ cube of coconut contains about fifteen grams of total fat—13.4g saturated fat…0.64g monounsaturated fat…and a smaller amount of polyunsaturated fat—meaning that coconut is not one of the healthiest fruits out there.

The American Heart Association recommends limiting your fat intake to a total of 78 grams per day…of which no more than sixteen of these grams being saturated fat… Which means that coconut is not actually healthy for you if you are concerned about your fat intake.

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Vitamins

  • Coconut is not a significant source of vitamins, but is also a very good source of B-complex vitamins—vitamins such as folates, riboflavin, niacin, and thiamin.

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Minerals

  • Manganese…A single serving of coconut meat provides 34% of the daily value for manganese, a mineral that helps your body maintain a healthy brain, nervous system, healthy bones, and immune function.
  • Copper…A single serving of coconut meat provides 10% of the daily value for copper, a mineral that helps form red blood cells.
  • Selenium…A single serving of coconut meat contains 6% of the daily value for selenium, an important antioxidant that protects your cells.
  • Iron…A single serving of coconut meat contains 2mg…11% of the daily value…of iron, a mineral that helps form red blood cells and also helps regulate your heartbeat.
  • Potassium…A single serving of coconut meat contains 356 mg…7.5% of daily value…of potassium.

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Antioxidants

Coconut contains antioxidants—including gallic acid, caffeic acid, salicylic acid, and p-coumaric acid—which may help protect cells from damage and death caused by oxidative stress and chemotherapy….and may also reduce your disease risk.
Cuckoo Over Coconuts — January 22, 2021

Cuckoo Over Coconuts

 

When you think of tropical fruit, one of the first things that comes into mind is the coconut…one of the most important crops of the tropics.

 

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The Tree

Coconut trees can grow up to almost one hundred feet tall with leaves that can be as long as twenty feet each.

Coconut trees can typically be found anywhere along the coast…wherever the average daily temperature stays above 55°F and the average annual rainfall is above 40 inches.

Each tree can yield as many as a hundred actual coconuts, but most trees grow about fifty.

 

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The Fruit

Your typical coconut is an oval shape that is about fifteen inches long and seven inches round…weighing about three pounds…with a hard shell containing both coconut meat and liquid.

 

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More Facts

The name coconut comes from the Spanish word coco, which means ‘head’ or ‘skull.’ The coconut probably got this name from the fact that the coconut looks like a face…with three indentations on the coconut shell that resemble facaaial features.

There are several varieties of coconut…which you probably wouldn’t know if you walk into your typical grocery store.

These include the Maypan coconut, the King coconut, and Macapuno….each varying in such factors as taste of the coconut water, color of the fruit. For more about the different types of coconut, check out this article by Home Stratosphere.

Breadfruit….The How — January 19, 2021

Breadfruit….The How

Photo by Trang Doan on Pexels.com
Breadfruit is probably not one of those fruits that you simply wanna grab and take a big bite of… Try if it you want, but most people will find the taste and texture of uncooked breakfast more than a little unpleasant. However, if the unripened breadfruit is boiled until tender, the breadfruit will have a more potato-ish texture…similar to freshly baked bread. In fact, the best way to think about uses for breadfruit is to treat it as if it were a potato of sorts and cook it accordingly—mashed, in salads, made into fries and chips, etc. In fact, breadfruit can be used as a delicious substitute for any starchy root crop, rice, pasta, vegetable, or potato. But breadfruit is actually better than potatoes because they are actually more nutritious. So like the potatoes, breadfruit can be prepared in many ways—steamed, baked, sauteed, boiled, fried… And like potatoes, breadfruit can be used in a variety of dishes—casseroles, curries, stews and chowders, salads, and chips.

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Ripeness

The riper the breadfruit, the softer and creamier and sweeter it becomes…similar to a banana…with a custardy, bread-like taste…meaning that riper breadfruit are great for can be used for fritters, pancakes, bread, beverages, and other baked goods

Breadfruit is a staple ingredient in many cuisines—especially Caribbean, Latin America, and Polynesian…for making both sweet and savory dishes. Here are a few recipes worth trying… Philippinesginataang langka Sri Lankacurry Indiafritters Jamaicasoup Breadfruit flour can be used a good gluten-free substitute for panko or breadcrumbs…and actually has a much better taste and greater nutritional value than any other gluten-free flour alternative available. Breadfruit seeds can also be cooked an eaten…making them a a nutritious, savory snack with a crunch.

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Where to Find

If you don’t live in the back of the backwoods like Middle of Nowhere, Mississippi… where I’m from…you might be able to go to your closest Caribbean specialty food store…

If you happen to live in Hawaii or be there even in the midst of all this corona crap, you will find breadfruit readily available…probably labeled as “ulu”…In fact, breadfruit is so common in Hawaii that there is even a National Breadfruit Institute of Hawai’i.  For the rest of us, you could also try your local farmers’ market or wait until your next box of ugly produce comes in and you luck out and get breadfruit in your assortment.

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Choosing and Storing

If you are choosing your breadfruit yourself, make sure that the breadfruit is firm. You want the skin to be greenish-yellow with only a little brown cracking.

The fruit bruises easily so check for bruises or soft spots. Some brown cracking is okay, but not too much. Store breadfruit in your fridge…(future post on which fruits and veggies to store in fridge and which not to…as well as how to organize your fridge coming soon…maybe four years from now)… In conclusion, hopefully you also will be checking breadfruit off your list of foods on the Raw Foods Pyramid  yet to try…as you join me in this quest to embrace a healthier lifestyle.
Breadfruit…The What and the Why — January 17, 2021

Breadfruit…The What and the Why

sliced fruits on tray
Photo by Trang Doan on Pexels.com
Honestly before starting our quest to switch from the typical Southern meal regimen—chicken fried steak, fried chicken, fried whatever…after all, isn’t the Texas State Fair notorious for frying anything and everything… I had never heard of many of the fruits and veggies that I am including in this blog about raw foods and clean eating. But recently I joined a food co-op that delivered breadfruit. At first I was kinda scared of the interesting little green things in my basket, but I am not one to waste ingredients and also someone who dares to try new recipes, so I started figuring out what to do with the darn thing….what recipes I could use it in and what nutritional goodness it had to offer.

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The Where

Breadfruit are another tropical fruit…native to the South Pacific and very popular throughout Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands.

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The Breadfruit Tree

As far as how it’s grown, the breadfruit grows on trees that can grow as tall as eighty-five feet high. The breadfruit tree is a member of the fig family and one tree alone can produce a massive 450 pounds of breadfruit each year for decades. One single breadfruit tree is capable of yielding up to two hundred breadfruits per season. The leaves of the breadfruit tree are large ovals that are long and skinny, and glossy green.

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The Fruit

One breadfruit can weigh up to twelve pounds in weight and have a diameter of twelve inches. The breadfruit is typically round, oval or oblong The skin of the breadfruit is a green and prickly. The flesh is hard and green. The flesh of a fully ripe breadfruit will be creamy yellow with oval seeds or a cylindrical core, depending on which particular variety of breadfruit you have purchased. A single breadfruit can weigh as much as twelve pounds and is capable of feeding a family of four.

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Nutritional Value

Breadfruit is an excellent source of the following nutrients…
  • antioxidants
  • calcium
  • carbohydrates
  • carotenoids
  • copper
  • fiber…½C provides 25%RDA
  • iron
  • magnesium…1/2C contains up to 10%RDA
  • niacin
  • omega 3
  • omega 6
  • phosphorus
  • potassium…1/2C contains up to 10%RDA
  • protein…1/2C contains up to 10%RDA
  • thiamin…10%DV
  • vitamin A
  • vitamin B
  • vitamin C…35%DV

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Health Benefits

Breadfruit can be beneficial to your health in many ways, especially for fighting or preventing…
  • asthma
  • blood pressure
  • diabetes
  • heart diseases and heart attacks
  • risk of developing colon cancer
So now that we’ve gotten the facts about breadfruit and its nutritional/health benefits, let’s get to the fun part—what to do with it the next time the local co-op or one of those imperfect food subscription boxes sends it your way…(because if you’re like me, you probably wouldn’t have ever put it into your grocery cart or instacart order yourself)…
Let Them Have Cake Also…Healthier Cakes for Diabetics and Other Sugar-Conscious People — January 12, 2021

Let Them Have Cake Also…Healthier Cakes for Diabetics and Other Sugar-Conscious People

My husband’s birthday is this weekend…and obviously I want to make him a cake.

Yet he is a diabetic, so my days of baking as if I were from Mississippi…(which I am)…have long passed.

But this year for his birthday I am bound and determined to make him a cake that he will actually eat…and enjoy.

Since we don’t normally indulge in sweet things such as cake, I want this to be an extra special treat that he will feel free to devour.

So I have done my homework as to how to make him a cake that is both healthy and delicious…a cake that uses healthier alternatives than the Southern Cooking Holy Trinity—cream cheese, powdered sugar, and Cool Whip.

Let’s take a look at what some of those healthier alternatives include…

 

 

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The Flour

  • One of the best things you can do for your health is to give up processed foods…and white flour is definitely a processed food…and less healthy for you than other flours that are out there.
  • White flour…or what most of us call “all-purpose” flour is less healthy for you because it has been “processed” to remove the outer layer of the grain…which is where all the healthy stuff, like fiber, are found.
  • Better alternatives include whole-wheat, nut flour, almond meal or buckwheat flour.
  • You can read more about these healthier alternatives in this post post by Self magazine.

 

 

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Fruits and Veggies

For years I’ve heard that using applesauce instead of sugar is a much healthier way to still make delicious cakes and cookies, but if you’re like me you’ve been hesitant to try it.

However, when you’re married to a diabetic such as mine, who goes to great lengths to make sure that his whatever stays whatever, it starts making sense.

Applesauce can be used as a substitute for either the sugar or the fat in a recipe, but you don’t want to replace both the sugar and the fat with applesauce.

To use applesauce to replace the sugar, use the same amount of applesauce as the sugar listed in the ingredients, but use less of the liquid—normally milk or water—by 1/4C for every 1C of applesauce added.

To use applesauce to replace the oil or butter, replace half the fat with applesauce…so whenever a recipe calls for 1C oil, instead use 1/2C oil and 1/2C applesauce.

For more about baking with applesauce, check out this article from Taste of Home.

Other fruits that can be used In baking to help cut back on added fat include mashed banana.

If you are planning on subbing mashed banana for the butter or oil called for in a recipe, use the same amount of mashed banana as the amount of butter or oil that the recipe originally called for.

For more about using fruits and veggies other than the expected options of applesauce or banana, check out this article from Organic Authority.

 

 

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The Oil

One of the nutrients…or should I say anti-nutrients…that we all should think about in our quest to eat healthier is saturated fat.

And ordinary butter contains a lot of saturated fat. In fact, each tablespoon of butter contains 11.52 grams of fat, which is 36%DV…not to mention over one hundred calories.

That’s in just one tablespoon…

And how many cakes have you ever made that require only one tablespoon.

 

Normally you have to use at least one whole stick…meaning that you are adding about 58 grams of fat, which is 290%DV…not to mention over eight hundred calories.

 

Don’t you want to make better batter than the batter you make with butter?

 

Instead of butter, consider using one of the following…

  • olive oil
  • rapeseed oil
  • sunflower oil or spread

Using these as a substitute for butter, not only lowers the amount of saturated fat, but will also give your cake a lighter, moister texture.

For more about baking with healthier fats, check out this article from Health Line.

 

 

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The Sugar

As far as sugar goes, healthier options would include honey, maple syrup, stevia, and dates.

For more information about sugar substitutes, check out this article from Food Revolution.

 

 

 

 

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The Icing on the Cake

If you’ve gone to all this trouble to make a healthier cake, you don’t want to ruin your efforts by using the standard high-sugar frosting or icing.

Instead of your standard frosting or icing, try one of the following instead…

 

Develop a Passion for Banana Passion Fruit — January 11, 2021

Develop a Passion for Banana Passion Fruit

Before starting this series on tropical fruits, I had honestly never even heard of banana passion fruit…and I still honestly haven’t figured out where the closest place to buy it is…but since it is a tropical fruit, I’m gonna go ahead and include here in this chapter…(think once I finish crawling up the Raw Foods Pyramid, I may try to put it all together into a book…probably too lofty of a goal, but hey we are all making New Year’s resolutions right now anyway)…

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Banana Passion Fruit…The What

Banana passion fruit are native to many areas of South America—particularly Colombia, Bolivia, Ecuador, Venezuela, and Peru.

Banana passion fruit grows on vines that can be as tall…or long, not sure which word would be correct here…as twenty-two feet….and that have attractive, deep pink blossoms. The vines are commonly used in landscaping to cover trellises.

plant is known to live for up to twenty years. A mature banana passion fruit vine can produce up to three hundred banana passion fruits. 

The fruit itself is oblong and about four inches long. The orange-scented fruit has a  thick, leathery skin that changes from green to bright yellow as the fruit ripens…and juicy, sweet pulp that is studded with black seeds.

The pulp is juicy and sweet, with a tart bite and hints of banana. Although the seeds are edible, they can be somewhat bitter…

Banana passion fruit is available year-round in the tropics, with a peak season in the spring and fall months.

However…interestingly enough…it is illegal to sell and distribute the plant in New Zealand and Hawaii because it is considered to be an invasive species that can quickly take over and deprive other native plants from the sun.

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Banana Passion Fruit…The Why

Banana passionfruit are a good source of the following nutrients…

  • antioxidants
  • calcium
  • carbohydrates
  • fiber
  • iron
  • phosphorus
  • protein
  • vitamins A and C

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Banana Passion Fruit…The Why

As long as you store ripe banana passion fruit in an open paper bag in the fridge, they will last for around a week.

Although banana passion fruit is best eaten as it is instead of trying to cook or make something else out of it, here are some more ideas as far as using banana passion fruit…

  • desserts such as cakes, cheesecake and pies
  • fruit salads
  • ice cream
  • juices
  • parfaits
  • relishes, jams and other preserves
  • smoothies
  • yogurt 

So let’s take a look in the following posts at a few of these ideas…shall we?!