Prisco’s Family Market

1108 Prairie Street, Aurora, IL 60506 | 630-264-9400

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Sensational summer blueberries are now available!- Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Summer is the best times to purchase blueberries. This amazing fruit is officially in its peek season and not only readily available, but in its prime in both texture and flavor. You'd be hard pressed to find blueberries bursting with this much sweetness any other time of year. Why are blueberries hard to beat? Here are a few reasons:

Nutrition

Blueberries are considered a superfood. Superfoods, for those not familiar with the term, are foods (usually raw items, such as fruits and vegetables) that have been confirmed to be nutrient-rich and especially beneficial for the health and well-being of the consumer. Blueberries fall into this category because they are high in fiber and low in calories, and an excellent source of essential vitamins and minerals (such as K1, vitamin C and manganese) and antioxidants.

While blueberries are often eaten fresh, they make for an excellent ingredient in many baked goods, and are perfect in jams and jellies, and even juiced. They are also easy to store, lasting several days if refrigerated (be sure they are dry and free of mold before placing them in the fridge), or months if frozen.

Freezing blueberries:

There is a specific process to this if you want to maximize consistency: First, spread your blueberries out on a rimmed baking sheet and let them firm up in the freezer for a couple hours. Afterward, transfer them into a resealable plastic bag and pop them back in the freezer. They should keep for a few months. Note: Because freezing can break down the cellular structure of the berries, you may wind up with a less plump texture. Because of this, your best bet is to use your (still delicious!) berries in baking recipes or smoothies once they are removed from the freezer.

Try some of these fabulous blueberry recipes

For fresh blueberries, try:

If you have frozen berries:

 

Sweet, refreshing cantaloupe- Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Everyone has their favorite summer melon. For most, the watermelon has become iconic; look at stock photos of picnicking families and you will see it frequently, often alongside sandwiches, hot dogs or burgers. The reality is, come warm weather watermelon is available everywhere, and it dominates the produce department from May all the way through August. But the second most recognizable melon, the cantaloupe, is available year-round and never goes out of style. Unlike its more watery cousin, the cantaloupe is popular because its flesh is similarly sweet but much more dense, making it far better for recipes and anyone who prefers to bite into a firmer fruit.

[info courtesy of nutrition-and-you.com & organicfacts.net]

Many varieties of cantaloupes are grown all over the world. However, two common types have become popular in the western world. The European cantaloupe (Cucumis melo cantalupensis) derives its name from the Italian papal village of "Cantalup" and features lightly-ribbed, pale green skin that looks quite different from the North American cantaloupe. Galia melon and charentais belong to this category. North American cantaloupe (Cucumis melo reticulatus), famous in the United States and some parts of Canada, is named reticulatus due to its net-like (or reticulated) skin covering.

In general, cantaloupe fruits feature round or oblong shape, measure 4.5- 6.5 inches in diameter and weigh 1-2 pounds. Internally, its flesh color ranges from orange-yellow to salmon, has a soft consistency and juicy texture with a sweet, musky aroma that emanates best in the completely ripe fruits.

What's so great about cantaloupes?

They help boost the immune system. Cantaloupes not only have the beta-carotene and phytochemicals working in its favor against free radicals, but also a healthy dose of vitamin-C. Vitamin C similarly scavenges disease-causing free radicals and act as an important line of defense for a healthy immune system. Also, vitamin-C stimulates the production of white blood cells, which seek out and destroy dangerous bacteria, viruses, and other toxic substances.

Cantaloupes may help in preventing cancer. Cantaloupes are rich sources of beneficial nutrients, including beta-Carotene, an essential carotenoid that the body requires and a powerful antioxidant. It has been linked to reduced chances of a number of different types of cancer, and the phytochemicals present in fresh fruit like cantaloupes have also been linked to anti-tumor behavior.

Cantaloupes contain substances which are known to help maintain eye health. Cantaloupes contain carotenoids, which are associated with a reduced risk of cataracts and macular degeneration, as is the vitamin-C content of cantaloupes.

Cantaloupes have a high amount of dietary fiber, which is an essential component of healthy bowel movements and digestive health. Eating a proper amount of dietary fiber can bulk up your stool and reduce your chances of becoming constipated, and can make your bowel movements more regular and consistent. By insuring a smooth flow through your digestive tract and colon, you reduce your risk of colorectal cancer and other dangerous gastrointestinal conditions.

Eating cantaloupes is good for your skin. Cantaloupes are wonderful places to find beta-carotene, which is the precursor to vitamin-A. The body converts the beta-carotene into vitamin-A, which enters the skin and stimulates the membranes of skin cells and increases regrowth and repair.

They help reduce stress and anxiety. Potassium is one of the essential nutrients found in cantaloupes. Potassium has been shown to relax blood vessels and reduce blood pressure. Excited levels of blood pressure can act as a stressor on the body, and can even induce the release of stress hormones like cortisol. Potassium also increases the flow of blood and oxygen to the brain and reduce the presence of stress hormones in the body, which can seriously reduce symptoms of anxiety.

The phytochemicals in cantaloupe also have anti-inflammatory qualities. This means that having a proper amount of cantaloupe in your diet can help prevent oxidative stress on your joints and bones, thereby reducing inflammation. Chronic inflammation of these vital areas can lead to conditions like arthritis.

Cantaloupe Recipes

There are plenty of ways to consume cantaloupe aside from raw... Not that there is anything wrong with a nice, juicy slice or cube of cantaloupe. However, eating raw cantaloupe is common; most of us have enjoyed melon slices and fruit salad numerous times over the courses of our lives. Consider this an opportunity to experiment a little with this wonderful fruit, rather than doing the same old thing!


Grilled Sea Bass with Cantaloupe-Lime Salsa

Chicken Cantaloupe Salad

Cantaloupe and Blueberries with Vanilla Sauce

Easy Fruit Tarts

Cold Melon Soup

 

Tips for Making School Lunches They Will Love- Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Now that you have an idea of what to pack for your kids’ lunches, it’s time to consider how to pack them. Consider the following tips, courtesy of Reader’s Digest.

1. Get some kid-approved gear - Tired of going through countless brown paper lunch bags and plastic sandwich bags? Stock up on some lunchboxes that will take your family straight through the school year. Soft-sided, insulated lunchboxes are the norm these days. And food can go into lidded plastic storage containers. Look for ones divided into several individual compartments, or for bento boxes with removable, interlocking pieces.

Or get smart about brown bagging - For older kids who are averse to carrying lunchboxes, double-bag their regular brown paper lunch bags for added insulation and strength. The perfect ice pack for this scenario? Just wet a few paper towels, fold them and place inside a re-sealable sandwich bag. Freeze overnight and place in the lunch bag in the morning.

2. Time it right - It’s nearly unanimous: Parents say packing lunches at night is key to getting everyone out the door on time on busy mornings. Tip: Make lunches while you’re already making dinner, or right after dinner but before you do the dishes; the kitchen counter is already messy, some of the items you’ll use might already be out, and all the cutting boards and utensils can go straight into the dishwasher with the dinner dishes.

3. Prep once, eat often - Have a PB and J lover (or two) on your hands? Make a whole loaf or two of sandwiches and refrigerate or freeze them individually. To keep them from getting soggy, spread peanut butter all the way to the edges and limit jelly to the center area. When it’s time to pack lunches, just grab a sandwich and add a piece of fruit, some pretzels and a yogurt – done!

4. Pay attention to temperature - When it comes to food safety, the cooler (or hotter) a food starts out, the better. For example, store sandwiches in the refrigerator until right before it’s time to leave for school, and heat up soup as much as possible before pouring it into the thermos and sending your kid out the door.

5. Freeze the drinks - Store juice boxes in the freezer. They’ll keep a lunch bag cool, and they’ll thaw and be ready to drink by lunchtime. This trick will work with water bottles as well, or juice poured into an empty plastic bottle; just make sure the bottles aren't filled completely, so there's room for expansion when the liquid freezes.

6. Keep hot foods hot - Not all kids like sandwiches. If you have a soup or pasta fan on your hands, invest in a short, wide-mouthed insulated thermos. These come in kid-friendly designs and will safely store hot foods (like beans and rice, or mac and cheese) for up to six hours. Tip: Keep your thermos hotter by filling it with hot water and emptying it just before adding the (steaming hot) food.

7. Protect fragile fruit - Some whole fruits are more durable (apples, bananas) but others are prone to piercing, bruising, or even smashing when jostled – not the most appetizing outcome for picky kids. To pack delicate, juicy fruits like pears, peaches, or nectarines, wrap a paper towel around the fruit before bundling it into your child’s lunch bag. Bonus: The paper towel doubles as a napkin.

Ginger & Turmeric – Two amazing natural supplements- Tuesday, May 17, 2016

A great many people are supplementing their diets with multivitamins these days, and many more are also including natural supplements in their daily regimens. Everything from fish oil and green tea extract, to probiotics and citrus oils have become commonplace. In this blog, we thought we would share some facts about two natural supplements: Turmeric and ginger root. Both are readily available, and once you hear about the benefits each offers you might consider adding them to your diet.

Ginger is a rhizome, a thick underground stem that sprouts roots and shoots. After a ginger root is broken off from the main plant it is washed and dried in the sun. Once dried, it can be used for cooking or medicinal purposes. Turmeric is a relative of ginger. The turmeric root contains curcumin, an anti-inflammatory molecule. While ginger is often used as a fresh root in things like stir-fries and other Asian dishes, turmeric is most familiar as a ground dried spice very commonly used in Indian cooking. It is also used extensively in American dishes and condiments (in fact, it's what gives yellow mustard its color).

Ancient Chinese and Indian healers have made ginger and turmeric a part of their toolkit for thousands of years.  Both roots are a natural antioxidant and anti-inflammatory.  Long-term, low-level inflammation plays a major role in almost every chronic Western disease. This includes heart disease, cancer, metabolic syndrome, Alzheimer’s and various degenerative conditions. Therefore, anything that can help fight chronic inflammation is of potential importance in preventing and even treating these diseases. 

Preparing Ginger For Cooking

To use ginger, the light brown skin is usually removed. This is easily done with a spoon. Simply scrape the edge of the spoon against the skin of the ginger, and it comes off quite nicely. You can also use a vegetable peeler or even cut away the skin with a knife, but a spoon is the preferred method as it can reach into the root's curves and contours better.

Ginger is a very fibrous root so once the skin is removed you will want to further prepare the ginger for use. Cut the ginger into medallions, then matchsticks, then fine dice. By doing this, you are cutting the long fibers in the root against the grain, making the ginger much more palatable. Alternatively, you can grate fresh ginger on a rasp grater to get a very fine ginger paste.

When cooking with fresh ginger, there are a number of ways to incorporate it into a dish. For stir frys, I often fry ginger medallions or matchsticks in the hot oil before adding the vegetables. You can then remove the ginger or leave it in if you like. You can also grate the ginger into a paste before frying it in oil. This method is particularly nice if you like lots of spicy ginger flavor. By grating it, you increase its surface area, and its flavor will penetrate throughout the dish much better. It's also texturally nice because the ginger will be fully incorporated rather than remaining in large chunks.  You can also add fresh ginger to hot tea or blended juices.

 

A serious problem with salt- Tuesday, January 12, 2016

[Info courtesy of webmd, healthyeating.sfgate.com, fitday.com & livestrong.com]

Salt is a very common seasoning in most foods; in fact, here in America, we pretty much take it for granted. Just about every pre-made or pre-packaged and/or processed food item contains some salt, with a number of very common -- and commonly used -- foods and ingredients containing it in large quantities. Soups, broths and gravies, soy and other sauces, salad dressings, bacon and other cured meats, cheese, a huge variety of snack foods such as pretzels and popcorn, and pickled foods all boast unusually high salt content. To be precise, it's not the salt in and of itself that is the problem: it's the sodium component of salt. Salt is sodium plus chloride. Both are minerals. Salt is made up of 40% sodium and 60% chloride and it's that 40% that causes so much concern among modern doctors.

Of course, the human body requires some salt. Sodium is an essential nutrient required by the body for maintaining levels of fluids and for providing channels for nerve signaling. However, many people consume many times their recommended daily allowance of 1.5 grams per day.Too much salt can have a negative impact on the body, resulting in anything from hypernatremia, or an imbalance of the amounts of salt and water in the body, in the short term, and increased blood pressure, heart disease, stroke and osteoporosis in the long term.

How to reduce your intake of salt/sodium

[info courtesy of kidney.org]

There are a number of ways you can reduce the amount of sodium in your diet, including the following --

  • Use fresh, rather than packaged, meats. Fresh cuts of beef, chicken or pork contain natural sodium, but the content is still much less than the hidden extra sodium added during processing in products like bacon or ham. If a food item keeps well in the fridge for days or weeks, that's a tip off that the sodium content is too high.

  • Choose fresh fruit and vegetables as well, since they are very low in sodium. Canned and frozen fruits are also low in sodium.

  • When buying frozen vegetables, choose those that are labeled "fresh frozen" and do not contain added seasoning or sauces.

  • Begin reading food labels as a matter of course. Sodium content is always listed on the label. Sometimes the high sugar content in a product like apple pie can mask the high sodium content so it's important to check every label for sodium content.

  • Compare various brands of the same food item until you find the one that has the lowest sodium content, since this will vary from brand to brand.

  • Select spices or seasonings that do not list sodium on their labels, i.e. choose garlic powder over garlic salt.

 

Broccoli…Boring vegetable or Green Superhero?- Tuesday, November 17, 2015

It’s kind of like the tagline from an often played, well-known auto insurance commercial series. Someone says to you “Hey there, have some broccoli, it’s good for you.” and you reply “Everybody knows that!”

Like with most foods that are good for our health, eating broccoli is usually about as exciting as watching paint dry. It has a rather bland taste and if you spice it up with some melted cheese or a creamed soup in a casserole, you pretty much defeat the whole “it’s good for you” concept.

So maybe we need to dig a bit deeper in order to be inspired by this humble little green vegetable that is purported to be so darn healthy. Looking at a web site that promotes broccoli, the headline of the article states that broccoli is “one of the healthiest green vegetables -- it’s versatile, inexpensive, and tastes great.” Really? That is something only a broccoli farmer could say.

Okay, so let’s get past our indifference. What are some fun broccoli facts?

1)     The word broccoli comes from the Latin word brachium and the Italian word braccio, which means “arm”.  

Okay, so some ancient Roman had a good sense of imagination. That’s like saying, “look at that cloud overhead, it looks just like a unicorn!”

2)     Broccoli is a part of the cabbage family.  

WOW on that one! So one boring green vegetable is related to an equally if not more boring green vegetable. I don’t think this is working just yet.

3)     Eating broccoli reduces the risk of coronary heart disease and death in postmenopausal women.

This, now, is something well worth knowing, ladies, but what good does it do to the other half of the population? Let’s keep digging.

4)     A compound found in broccoli appears to have more effect than modern antibiotics against the creation of peptic ulcer causing bacteria.

Okay, now we are on to something. Perhaps this timid little veggie can help relieve a sore tummy.

5)     Broccoli comes in a variety of colors, ranging from deep sage all the way to dark green and purplish-green.  

I did say it’s GREEN didn’t I? Do shades of green really matter?

6)     Tom “Broccoli” Landers holds the current world record for eating 1 pound of broccoli in 92 seconds.

Bully for Tom. I, for one, will never be a serious threat to the record.

7)     Broccoli is high in Vitamins C, A, and folate and also soluble fiber.

Yes, the vitamins are all good. but even more important, I know that eating good fiber is on my doctor-prescribed TO DO list.

8)     It has been shown to fight cancer cells in lab tests.  

Now you’re talking. Preventing cancer has got to be a strong motivator for anyone.

9)     It’s versatile in the kitchen, both as handy snacks, in soups, in salads, and finely chopped in homemade pesto.

How about on top of a pizza? Oh yeah that’s another way of making healthy food a lot less healthy…Sorry.

10)   Americans eat an average of 4lbs. of broccoli a year.  That’s 900% more than 20 years ago!  

Okay, okay…I give up. It looks like broccoli is much more like a Super Green Giant than a bland veggie. I need to change my perspective and eat my fair share of California’s great broccoli crop.  If my fellow countrymen have increased broccoli consumption from less than 1/2 lb. per year to 4 lbs., they must be on to something. Yes, I know, this is where you say “Everybody knows that!”

 

Tips to avoid Holiday weight gain- Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Courtesy of www.webMD.com

So what's the harm in a little holiday weight gain, especially if it's just a pound? According to researchers at the National Institutes of Health, most Americans never lose the weight they gain during the winter holidays. The pounds add up year after year, making holiday weight gain an important factor in adult obesity. It is possible, however, to enjoy holiday goodies without putting on a single pound. "Portion control is the key."

Here are some tips to avoid that unwanted weight gain this Holiday Season.

1. Never Arrive Hungry

New York psychologist Carol Goldberg, PhD, says planning ahead can help you maintain discipline in the face of temptation. "Don't go to a party when you're starving," she warns. Try to have a nutritious snack beforehand. If you do arrive hungry, drink some water to fill up before filling your plate.

2. Divert Your Attention

People often forget that there's more to a holiday party than food, Goldberg tells WebMD. "Don't look at the party as just a food event," she says. "Enjoy your friends' company or dancing. Focus on something other than food." Chatting is a great diversion, whether you're at a small family dinner or a large party. "Take your mind off of food and focus on the conversation."

3. Pace Yourself

Have you ever tried telling yourself you'll only eat during the first half hour of a party? Goldberg says this strategy is a mistake. If you cram in as much as you can in half an hour, you chew faster. Chewing more slowly will fill you up with less food. Munch at a leisurely pace by putting your fork down between every bite. This puts you in control.

4. Count Your Canapés

When there are Canapés, it's easy to lose count of how many you eat. Keep track by stashing a toothpick in your pocket for each one. Set a limit and stick to it.

5. Outsmart the Buffet

When dinner is served buffet-style, use the smallest plate available and don't stack your food; limit your helpings to a single story. Go for the simplest foods on the buffet, fresh fruits and vegetables and shrimp cocktail are good choices. Watch out for sauces and dips."

6. Limit Alcohol

Avoid drinking too much alcohol at holiday parties. It's not just about calories but about control. If you drink a lot you, won't have as much control over what you eat.

If you feel out of place without a drink, Goldberg suggests sipping water or club soda with a lemon twist , "so you have something to carry like everyone else."

7. Be Choosy About Sweets

When it comes to dessert, be very selective. "Limit your indulgences to small portions and only what is very sensual to you," Goldberg says. Her personal rule on sweets: "If it's going to have calories, it has to be chocolate."

8. Bring Your Own Treats

Whether you're going to a friend's party or an office potluck, consider bringing a low-calorie treat that you know you'll enjoy. Bringing your own dessert will make the more fattening alternatives less tempting.

9. Limit 'Tastes' While Cooking

If you do a lot of cooking during the holidays, crack down on all those "tastes”. People lose their appetites when they've been cooking because they've been eating the whole time, For tried-and-true recipes, dare yourself not to taste the dish at all until it is served.

10. Walk It Off

Make a new holiday tradition: the family walk. Besides burning some extra calories, this will get everyone away from the food for a while.

 

Butter makes a comeback!- Tuesday, October 20, 2015

[Info courtesy of bussinessinsider.com, newsmaxhealth.com & authoritynutrition.com]

For decades now, butter has been reviled by health professionals and cooks alike for being unhealthy and undesirable. Why? Because butter, along with other high-fat foods like red meat, became the target of health crusaders in the 1970s following the observation that eating saturated fats raises "bad" LDL cholesterol, which was linked to heart disease.

However, butter really doesn’t deserve the wicked reputation it has received.

Over the years, researchers have been unable to provide convincing evidence that saturated fat causes heart disease. On the contrary: the latest evidence actually shows that reducing saturated fat intake has, in fact, increased our cardiovascular risks!

Why butter is back

  • Butter is Rich in Vitamins - There are a lot of fat soluble vitamins in butter. This includes vitamins A, E and K2. Vitamins A and E aren’t real significant -- if you’re eating a healthy diet that includes animals and plants then you are probably getting enough of those already -- but Vitamin K2 is important because it is fairly rare in the modern diet. Vitamin K2 can have powerful effects on health. It is intimately involved in calcium metabolism and a low intake has been associated with many serious diseases, including cardiovascular disease, cancer and osteoporosis. Dairy (including butter and cheese) from grass-fed cows is particularly rich in Vitamin K2. 
  • Butter is a Good Source of Butyrate and Linoleic Acid - The fatty acid butyrate is created by bacteria in the colon when they are exposed to dietary fiber. This may be the main reason fiber has health benefits for humans. Studies also indicate that butyrate supplementation may help prevent weight gain on an unhealthy diet by increasing energy expenditure and reducing food intake. In addition, butyrate improves the function of mitochondria and lowers fasting triglycerides and insulin. It is also an anti-inflammatory. Butter, especially grass-fed, is a great source of a fatty acid called Conjugated Linoleic Acid. This fatty acid has powerful effects on metabolism and is actually sold commercially as a weight loss supplement. CLA has been shown to have anti-cancer properties, as well as lowering body fat percentage in humans. 
  • Butter Contains Healthy Saturated Fats – The “war” against saturated fat was based on bad science. In fact, recent studies suggest that there is no association at all between saturated fat and cardiovascular disease. Saturated fats raise HDL (the good) cholesterol and change the LDL from small, dense (very bad) to Large LDL, which is benign. Additionally, butter contains a decent amount of short and medium chain fats, which are metabolized differently from other fats. They lead to improved satiety and increased fat burning. 
  • Butter Lowers Heart Attack Risk - For a long time, health authorities encouraged people to replace butter with margarine – a supposedly healthier alternative. Unfortunately, this assumption has proven to be false. Margarine contains a lot of trans-fats, which are downright toxic and have been proven to cause a myriad of diseases. In studies examining the effects of butter and margarine on cardiovascular disease, margarine significantly increased the risk of cardiovascular disease, while butter had no effect. Another study revealed that high-fat dairy consumption reduced the risk of heart disease by a whopping 69% (most likely due to increased Vitamin K2 intake). 
  • Butter Is Associated with a Lower Risk of Obesity - Nutritional authorities often recommend that we choose low-fat dairy products. That way, we can get the calcium we need without all those supposedly bad fats and calories. But despite the higher calorie content, eating high-fat dairy products is NOT associated with obesity.  In fact, a new review paper came out in 2012 that examined the effects of high-fat dairy consumption on obesity, cardiovascular disease and other metabolic disorders: They discovered that high-fat dairy did not increase risk of metabolic disease and was associated with a significantly reduced risk of obesity.

Based on all this (relatively) new information, perhaps it is high time we all review our biases toward butter, and reconsider its role in our diets. Besides being much healthier for us than we were lead to believe, butter is also far tastier than existing alternatives...

So go grab that stick out of the fridge and start cookin’!

 

Breakfast – The essential meal - Tuesday, October 13, 2015

[info courtesy of webmd, shakeupyourwakeup.com, & dietdetective.com]

Life can be hectic, and sometimes it can be difficult to make time for everything – even such essentials as breakfast. Yes, it's true what they say, "breakfast is the most important meal of the day." This is largely because after a long night's sleep (which is basically an 8-hour fasting period), your body isn't going to have a whole lot to work with in the morning. You're "running on empty", as the saying goes, which can have an adverse effect on your ability to focus – and even your ability to lose weight. Nutritionists advise that breakfast should be eaten within two hours of waking so that your body has all the necessary fuel to get you up and running, and stay that way until lunchtime.

As far as preparing breakfast goes, try to include something from each major food group. Fruits such as apples, bananas and strawberries, are good sources of vitamins and minerals; for protein, eggs are an excellent option, and relatively quick and easy to cook. (Not a fan of eggs? Substitute some Greek yogurt.) In addition, a slice or two of 100% whole grain toast can provide you with much-needed nutrients and fiber, as well as help keep you feeling fuller, longer.

Don't have time to prepare a complete breakfast in the morning? As you know, there are a number of alternatives -- most notably, cereals. It doesn't get much easier than that... Just add milk and eat! The problem is, not all cereals are created equal so you do need to acquaint yourself with the products that are available. When purchasing a breakfast cereal, you want something that:

  • Is low in sodium: Many cereals are high in sodium; the Institute of Medicine recommends no more than 1,500 mg of sodium per day.
  • Has less added sugar: Regardless of the name, whether it’s honey (although there is some research that indicates honey can help with allergies and work as an antibiotic), brown sugar, raw sugar or maple syrup, all added sugar essentially adds calories without significant nutritional value.
  • Contains fewer ingredients: Choose those cereals (and all your foods) that have the fewest ingredients, and make sure they’re names you can pronounce.
  • Contains whole grains: These could include brown rice, buckwheat, bulgur, graham flour, oatmeal, quinoa, rolled oats, whole-grain barley, whole oats, whole rye, whole wheat and wild rice.

If you want the most out of your breakfast (and your cereal), it's up to you to choose wisely!

 

Dark Chocolate – The Healthier “Candy”- Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Often when people think of chocolate, they think of some sort of sugary confection, such as chocolate ice cream, milk chocolate candy bars or pieces, or rich cookies or brownies. As a category, “chocolate’ is generally lumped in with “junk food”, and people tend to avoid it if they are trying to maintain a healthy diet. However, it’s been proven time and again that dark chocolate in particular – that is, chocolate that has a higher cacao percentage (over 35%, with some bittersweet bars being well over 80%) and no milk additives – is actually good for you.

Dark chocolate, by definition, has far less sugar than a comparable amount of milk chocolate, and it is highly nutritious. A 3.5 oz. bar of 70-85% cacao chocolate contains 11 grams of fiber, 67% of your recommended daily allowance (RDA) of Iron, and 58% RDA of Magnesium. It also boasts plenty of potassium, zinc, phosphorus and selenium, all of which are required by the human body for healthy function. In addition, the fats contained in dark chocolate are mostly saturated and monounsaturated, which is excellent, and dark chocolate is also a superior source of antioxidants.

Still not convinced? Well, it’s been determined that dark chocolate can help in the fight against cardiovascular disease. According to authoritynutrition.com,

[According to recent research] the compounds in dark chocolate appear to be highly protective against the oxidation of LDL…In a study of 470 elderly men, cocoa was found to reduce the risk of cardiovascular death by a whopping 50% over a 15 year period.

Another study revealed that eating chocolate 2 or more times per week lowered the risk of having calcified plaque in the arteries by 32%.

So the next time you have a craving for some candy, rather than deprive yourself completely direct your attention to the dark chocolate section of the candy aisle instead. Consider grabbing that 70%+ cacao bar and enjoying an ounce or two a couple times per week: Not only will you help satisfy your craving for chocolate, you will also be doing your body a favor.

Interested in some tasty dark chocolate desserts? Give these recipes a try! They may include added sugar, but the other benefits of the cacao still apply…

 

Chocolate Bread Pudding with Strawberry Sauce

Chocolate Dipped Strawberries

Chocolate Drop Cookies

Coffee Liqueur Pudding

Walnut and Chocolate Chip Muffins