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Dehydration at its best

 

When we think of things being dehydrated, we associate it with being a bad thing. In most cases, this is very true. Not being hydrated enough can lead to many adverse effects. But, what about dehydrating fruits and vegetables? Are there benefits to that? Read on to explore how my children have taken to dehydrating fruits and vegetables and I've used it as a foundation for fun, healthy, family time. 

 

Dehydrating fruits and vegetables is nothing new. As long as the sun has been around, we've been dehydrating all types of foods from fruits to vegetables and even meats. But, as it goes for anything I promote, we will keep the animals safe with this as well.

 

My dehydrator was bought as a gift, but I immediately knew it was something I would enjoy with my children. I never experimented with it before but I knew I wanted to engage in healthier practices. I started researching more on the topic to get a better understanding.

I've learned that dehydrating foods, just like anything else can have its pros and cons. By dehydrating foods, some of the nutrients depending on the food can be stripped or destroyed in the process. Nonetheless, many are also preserved. I'd probably say the biggest downfall is the concentrated amount of sugar. All this really means is to find a balance between fresh fruits and dehydrated ones. 

 

I encouraged my children to take part in utilizing the dehydrator. We started with the most basic fruit, bananas. We had much success and moved onto other fruits like apples, strawberries, and even kale. We don't use it daily, but we are getting back in the practice of using it more often.

 

We use the time together to learn, have fun, and get rewarded with food in the end which we rarely turn down. More simply put, dehydrating fruits and vegetables is an easy way to spend time with your children and actually get them involved in making healthier choices. This process gives your child options and a sense of being able to do things on their own. So even when we don't do it together, I'm still content knowing they are making healthier decisions and being proactive with their time.

One thing I like about fruit chips is being able to enjoy fruit outside of its traditional way, and beyond just mixing and mashing. I love chips and now I can enjoy them with much more nutritional content. I asked my oldest Aniyah what she likes best about dehydrating fruits and which are her favorite. She said “bananas and apples are my favorite and what I like best is how sweet it makes the fruits. It's so easy to do.” When I asked my youngest Kaniyah what were her favorite fruits to dehydrate and if she disliked anything about the process she replied: “my favorite is the banana and strawberry chips, and what I hate most is having to wait so long for them to dehydrate.” 

 

Yes, that is the worst and most time-consuming part of the process. Preparation is a breeze. You simply rinse if necessary and slice. Once placed on the dehydrator, time is not on your side. Even though it is a slow process, it's practically effortless. Which, in today's fast-paced world, that's always a plus. 

 

For this article, we will use apples and bananas, but keep in mind, anything with water content can be dehydrated. The biggest thing to remember is the thinner you slice the fruit, the less time it takes to dehydrate. Also, when placing the slices on trays, keeping them properly spaced apart will allow for better air circulation so they dry out more evenly. 

Raise Your Nuts, Lower Your Cholesterol

 

Everybody knows somebody, that knows somebody, who has high cholesterol. High cholesterol may not seem like the end of the world, but it certainly can be a problem. There are multiple ways to treat high cholesterol, many of which are natural and holistic. Is high cholesterol an issue for you or somebody you know? Read on to learn of a simple and tasteful way to help treat and control high cholesterol. 

 

There aren't any major symptoms that appear when having high cholesterol. Letting high cholesterol go untreated can lead to other health problems, and ultimately, be a silent killer. One of the best ways to help determine if you have high cholesterol aside from having your doctor tell you is to know what cholesterol is, what causes it to rise, and how to lower it. 

 

Cholesterol is a waxy substance naturally produced in our bodies used to help aid in things like digestion, producing vitamin d and hormones, and contributes to the structure of cell walls. There are two types of cholesterol, LDL or “bad cholesterol,” and HDL or “good cholesterol.” HDL is responsible for transporting cholesterol to your liver to be released from your body. LDL, on the other hand, transports cholesterol to your arteries which can lead to a world of trouble.

 

As mentioned, having high cholesterol doesn't exhibit many symptoms. In fact, the only symptoms it displays is the aftermath it creates. High cholesterol can lead to having a stroke, heart attack, and peripheral artery disease just to name a few. As I said, it is a silent killer. 

 

 

Though we naturally produce cholesterol, we consume it as well. This is not a major problem. When your body recognizes you're consuming cholesterol through diet, it naturally adjusts the amounts of cholesterol you produce. This helps your levels to stay balanced. The problem comes when we over-consume cholesterol through our diet beyond what we need to balance it. That along with poor exercise are the biggest contributing factors. 

 

Eating animal products high in fat such as meats and cheeses are a big part of why people develop high cholesterol. Some adjustments can be made when consuming animal products that are claimed to help reduce the amount of high cholesterol caused by these products, but in my opinion, it's best to avoid them as our bodies are not designed to consume them. 

 

 

Several foods can be consumed to help maintain healthy cholesterol. Some of these foods include walnuts and almonds, legumes like lentils and beans, avocados, cocoa, dark leafy greens, and extra virgin olive oil. All in all, the key is to achieve a balance between eating and exercise. Even with cholesterol being elevated, proper exercise can help to balance it out. Oh, how easy we tend to forget how sweating is a form of detox and getting some of the nasty things out of our body. 

 

 

I will focus on walnuts as they are the real purpose of this article. A patient at my job was the one to mention eating walnuts to lower cholesterol. I will not disclose his information for privacy purposes; but while at work one day, I was having a very meaningful conversation with this man. The subjects discussed varied. 

 

As the conversation continued, he went on to say how he starting making dietary changes but attributes the drop in his cholesterol to eating walnuts. He attests “walnuts helped to keep the weight off and hunger down.” He says he would eat “½ cup every other day,” but along with diet changes and exercise “walnuts helped to lower my cholesterol.”

 

I told this gentleman that I would write my next article on walnuts and how they can be used to lower cholesterol. After our conversion, I started doing more research on the topic. Of course, I started finding countless websites and resources that attested the same.

 

 

Walnuts are rich in the plant variety of omega 3 fatty acids. As a vegan, this is important. Most dieticians will tell you to get your biggest source of omega 3's from fish. I absolutely and positively disagree. Anything we need to fulfill any dietary needs can be achieved through a plant-based diet. Of course, when changing eating habits, adequate research should be done before, during, and after doing so. But bottom line, walnuts have a ton of health benefits one of which includes helping to lower cholesterol.

 

Instead of consuming meat products, use this simple substitute of walnuts to lower your cholesterol, keep it at bay, and enjoy what you eat in the process.

 

I'm currently eating raw so I will include two recipes that I threw together during my raw period. Don't get me wrong, I love fruits, vegetables, smoothies, and salads, but I was yearning for something more filling and tasteful. The two seasonings used to make these dishes were both bought from Walmart. I'm not the biggest fan of Walmart, but they are the only store I've found these particular seasonings at. Looking for an alternate source is on my to-do list. 

 

To be honest, one could substitute any of your favorite seasoning mixes for the two that I used. If certain flavors resonate with you, go for it. I simply try to supply healthier recipes and ideas that you can use as is or to inspire the chef in you. Before I ramble, grab these ingredients and enjoy.

 

*I use a ninja food chopper to chop and mix the ingredients but one can simply chop and mix by hand or with whatever resources they have available.

Raw Spicy Cajun Tacos

*If you choose, you could substitute the lettuce bed with real tortillas, as well as add any other taco toppings, but for all intents and purposes of this article and my diet at this time, this is the list:

8 beds Romaine lettuce

1 Avocado

10 grape tomatoes

2 slices of onion (east to west)

1 mini sweet pepper

2 cups walnut

¼ slice lemon

1-2 tbsp Cajun seasoning

Chop and mix the walnuts, onion, pepper and Cajun seasoning. Start with the smaller measurement of seasoning and if it's not spicy enough, add more. (This was extra spicy so yours may not be this dark if you use less seasoning)

Slice and cut tomato and avocado 

Lay lettuce beds out to fill

Layer with a walnut mix, avocado, tomato, and squeeze some lemon juice on top

Eat and enjoy

 

2 bite delights (raw stuffed mini sweet peppers)

Ingredients:

Bag of mini sweet peppers serving makes 10-20 (half peppers) depending on the size of pepper and how much you fill each one

1 cup walnuts

1 slice Onion (east to west)

Cilantro

1 Avocado

2 tbsp Mediterranean seasoning mix

¼ lemon slice 

 

Chop and mix walnuts, onion, and Mediterranean seasoning. 

Slice peppers in half after cutting the tops off and disposing of any seeds. 

Slice avocado in small pieces and separate a handful of cilantro from stems. 

Fill Pepper with walnut mix and top with cilantro and avocado.

Sprinkle a little more walnut mix on top.

Squeeze  lemon juice over peppers.

Eat and enjoy