Tag Archives: Antioxidants

Foods That Fight Mental Decline

Research shows that normal memory problems can begin as early as age 27. And while such minor forgetful moments certainly don’t signify cognitive decline, everyone could still use a boost in cognitive performance! In addition to keeping stress at bay, working out and engaging your brain regularly, simply eating certain foods can actually boost mental performance. Add these six foods (including dark chocolate!) to your weekly or daily diets. Read more at America’s Eating Strategist.

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Chicken Lettuce Cups with Peanut-Hoisin Sauce

Chicken lettuce cups appear on most Asian fusion menus as light, refreshing appetizers. But the nutritional stats are surprisingly – and unnecessarily – high: Pei Wei’s Minced Chicken with Cool Lettuce Wraps have 620 calories and 22 grams of fat – without the peanut sauce. Cheesecake Factory’s Thai Lettuce Wraps have 1,025 calories, 114 carbs, and 2,347 mg sodium! These chicken lettuce cups are light (as they should be), flavorful (mint and peanut sauce give them authentic flavor) and perfect for the end of a hot day.

Filling:

One head of butter or bibb lettuce
1 lb ground chicken (or turkey)
1 T sesame oil
1 cup sliced green onions, divided
½ cup chopped cilantro, divided
½ cup mint
2 T low-sodium soy sauce
1 T fresh chopped ginger
1 cup matchstick julienne-cut carrots
1 cup matchstick julienne-cut cucumber
¼ cup peanuts
Brown rice (optional)

Peanut-Hoisin Dipping Sauce:

¼ cup creamy peanut butter
¼ cup hoisin
1 minced shallot
1 T soy sauce
2 T lime juice
1 tsp sesame oil

Method

To make the sauce, heat sesame oil over a small skillet. Add minced shallot; saute for 1-2 minutes. Add peanut butter, hoisin, and soy sauce; stir. Bring to a boil; let cool and add lime juice.

For the filling, heat a large skillet over medium heat; add sesame oil. Add ½ cup sliced green onions; saute 3-4 minutes. Add ground chicken, breaking it up into small pieces. Once browned, add soy sauce, ¼ cup cilantro, and ginger.

Slice carrots and cucumbers into matchstick pieces.

Separate lettuce leaves and shape into cups. Top lettuce with chicken mixture, followed by green onions, carrots, cucumber, cilantro, mint, and peanuts. Top with peanut sauce.

For a more complete meal, serve with brown rice.



Why Should You Eat This?

Lettuce cups are essentially the low-carb version of any type of wrap (and they can be used in any cuisine as a substitute for processed bread products: tortillas, bread, hamburger buns, injera, sesame pancakes). Of course, carbs aren’t inherently bad, but in dishes like these, they can add a lot of unnecessary carbs and calories. Using lettuce also allows the main flavors (mint, ginger, cilantro, lime, peanuts) to take the spotlight without being overpowered by doughy carbs.

Peanuts appear twice in this recipe – as a garnish and in the sauce. Peanuts add that unique Thai flavor, but they also add a huge dose of antioxidants: they actually boast the same antioxidant level as strawberries and blackberries. Two of these antioxidants are p-coumaric acid, which has been shown to reduce the level of carcinogenic activity, and resveratrol, which may reduce the risk of stroke, cancer, heart disease, and neurodegenerative disorders. To boost these benefits, pick roasted peanuts (or roast them yourself): doing so increases their antioxidant power by 22%.

Chocolate Chip Cherry Coconut Cookies

These whole wheat cookies are packed with cherries, chocolate chips, and coconut, making them a healthier variation of the traditional and much-loved chocolate chip cookie. Ingredients like whole wheat flour, honey, and applesauce displace some of the cookie’s less healthy ingredients without compromising flavor. Dried cherries, dark chocolate, and flaked coconut give the standard cookie a more complex flavor profile and decrease the amount of sugar necessary. I like my cookies chewy; if you like yours crispier, bake for an extra 3-4 minutes.

Ingredients
1 cup Whole Wheat Flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
⅛ teaspoon salt
½ cup brown sugar, packed
1 T honey
⅛ cup butter, softened
⅛ cup unsweetened applesauce
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg
½ cup semisweet chocolate chips
⅓ cup dried cherries, chopped
1 cup unsweetened coconut, flaked (note flaked, not shredded; bigger pieces of coconut give better flavor and crunch)

Method
1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. On baking sheet covered in aluminum foil, spread flaked coconut and bake for 5 mintues (watch carefully so it doesn’t burn).
3. Add sugar, honey, butter, and applesauce in a large bowl; beat until blended.
4. Add vanilla and egg; beat.
5. Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt; add to large bowl and mix at low speed.
6. Add chocolate chips, dried cherries and coconut until just combined.
7. Scoop onto greased cookie pan.
8. Bake for 9 minutes.

Makes about 15 cookies.

Nutritional Information: per cookie: 166 calories, 7 g fat (4 g saturated), 23 g carbs, 2.3 g fiber, 2 g protein, 18 g sugar


Why you should eat these:
The average chocolate chip cookie has about 200 calories, but restaurant and deli options can easily pack in 500 or more! And because cookies are essentially empty calories, it’s best if they have as little a caloric impact as possible. These cookies manage to come in under 200 calories, even though they’re packed with chocolate chunks, cherries, and coconut. Another bonus: these same delicious ingredients give the cookie some nutritional redemption. Dark chocolate is packed with flavonols and antioxidants that help lower blood pressure, protect against cardiovascular disease, improves mood, protects skin, and, as new research shows, may help individuals maintain a healthy weight. Cherries are an athlete’s superfood: due to their anti-inflammatory properties, they help reduce muscle soreness following intense exercise. And coconut, made of healthier medium chain fatty acids, may boost metabolism and the immune system. While I wouldn’t recommend depending on dessert for a nutrient and antioxidant boost, it’s certainly an added bonus to a great-tasting cookie.