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Guest Post: Does Your Diet Include Enough Foods with Vitamin B12?

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Many people are focused on healthy eating—getting enough antioxidants, avoiding trans fats, limiting salt intake, and all those other things that can impact our health in a good or bad way.

And all that attention to detail can be exhausting! Unfortunately, we are going to make things even worse.

In addition to everything you are already thinking about, you should also pay close attention to your vitamin intake—especially vitamin B12.

Who Cares About B12?!

Vitamin B12 is an essential nutrient. Its primary responsibilities include maintaining the health of the circulatory and nervous systems.

It is very easy to become deficient in this nutrient. Vitamin B12 is only found in animal products—like beef, pork, lamb, dairy products, eggs, etc. So, if you aren’t getting enough of those foods, you can quickly see a decline in your overall health.

Since B12 is responsible for things like our nerves, brain and blood, you can image how detrimental a deficiency is! Early-stage symptoms are mild but left unchecked, a deficiency can lead to mania, depression, suicidal thoughts, trouble walking, heart disease and more.

Vitamin-Rich Foods

A deficiency sounds scary, right? Few of us would choose those side effects! Therefore, it is important to get enough foods rich in vitamin B12.

Here are some fun and tasty ways to infuse B12 into your diet.

Goose Liver Pate

In addition to several other key vitamins and minerals, one tablespoon of goose liver pate contains nearly one fifth of your recommended daily value of vitamin B12.

Emu Steak

Emu steak is both tasty and low in fat. Just a few ounces of this meat will supply more than enough of your daily requirement for vitamin B12.

Turkey Liver

Next time you’re cooking turkey, make sure you don’t get rid of the liver. It contains very high amounts of vitamin B12 and even larger doses of vitamin A.

Caviar

Eating caviar isn’t simply a way to make yourself feel fancy; it’s also good for you. This luxurious dish is packed full of essential nutrients.

Feta Cheese

Want a yummy meal idea? Add some crumbled feta cheese to a salad of dark greens and fresh berries. This simple salad addition will provide nearly half of your daily B12 needs.

Sardines

If you can tolerate them, this nutrient-dense food is super healthy. Sardines have plenty of B12, but also vitamin D, calcium, and omega-3 fats.

Clams

A mere three ounces of clam meat provides ample amounts of B vitamins, chromium, and iron.

Because we are foodies, we naturally gravitate towards the fun, unique, and interesting foods. But in reality, any food that came from an animal will have high levels of B12. If all else fails, grab a glass of milk and you’ll be well on your way!

When Diet Isn’t Enough

Those who are passionate about food (like us!) sometimes think it can do no wrong. However, the sad reality is that even our most favorite foods sometimes let us down.

Some people—no matter how many B12-rich foods they eat—can still be deficient. Sometimes, our bodies have a hard time absorbing the nutrient. This problem is extremely common in the older generation.

Other individuals have health issues that prevent them from utilizing the B12 in food. A vitamin B12 deficiency is common among pernicious anemia, Crohn’s diese, lupus, and Graves’ disease patients.

In these cases, vitamin B12 supplementation is essential. It helps replenish the body’s storehouse of B12. The most effective form of supplementation is injections (because people with absorption issues would have the same problem with oral pills as they do with food).

In fact, some people prefer supplementation. Vitamin B12 shots ensure adequate levels—even when our healthy diet seems to slip a little. Plus, a slight surplus of vitamin b12 can help prevent health issues and minimize undesirable side effects.

We know closely monitoring the foods you eat can be tiring. But really, the alternative is much worse!

Check to make sure you are getting at least a little bit of vitamin B12 each day. Your taste buds—and overall health—will be glad you did!

Lindsey Dahlberg, guest post author, was recently diagnosed with a vitamin B12 deficiency. Now, more than ever, she is especially attentive to the foods she eats. When she isn’t online sharing her health tips with the masses, Lindsey is probably in the kitchen, experimenting with new recipes.

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Nourishing Mondays: Sweet Potato, Quinoa, Spinach and Red Lentil Burger

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Enjoy these colorful, nutritious, and hardy burgers!

Ingredients:
1/2 cup quinoa (blond or black), rinsed
1/2 cup red lentils, rinsed
1 2/3 cups water
Salt to taste
1 ½ pounds sweet potatoes, baked
3 cups, tightly packed, chopped fresh spinach
3 ounces feta, crumbled (about 3/4 cup)
3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
¼ cup minced chives
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
Freshly ground pepper to taste
1 cup panko or chickpea flour (you will not use all of it)
¼ cup grape seed oil

Directions:
1. Combine quinoa, red lentils, water and salt to taste (I used a rounded 1/2 teaspoon) in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer 15 to 20 minutes, until quinoa is tender and blond quinoa displays a thread, and lentils are just tender. Drain off any water remaining in the pot through a strainer, tapping strainer against the sink to remove excess water, then return quinoa and lentils to the pot. Cover pot with a towel, then return the lid and let sit undisturbed for 15 minutes.

2. Skin sweet potatoes and place in a large bowl. Mash with a fork. Add spinach and mash together (I use my hands for this). Add quinoa and lentils, feta, mint, chives, lemon juice, and salt and pepper to taste. Mix together well. Mixture will be moist.

3. Take up about 1/3 cup of the mixture and form into a ball (you can wet your hands to reduce sticking). Roll the ball in the panko or chickpea flour, then gently flatten into a patty. Set on a plate and continue with the rest of the mixture. Refrigerate uncovered for 1 hour or longer (the longer the better).

4. When you’re ready to cook, place a rack over a sheet pan. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a 12-inch, heavy nonstick frying pan over high heat. Swirl the pan to coat with the hot oil. Lower heat to medium. Place 4 to 5 patties in the pan (do not crowd), and cook until well browned on one side, about 4 minutes. Turn and brown for about 4 more minutes. Remove to rack. Heat remaining oil in the pan and cook remaining patties. Keep patties warm in a low oven until ready to serve. Serve with a salad and your choice of toppings, such as the usual (ketchup, mustard, relish), or yogurt raita, garlic yogurt, or chutney.

Servings – 10

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Sustainable Saturdays: Positive Food Trends

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The world has a long way on the war on poverty and doing this in a sustainable way however there are many positive trends that we can celebrate and build on.  To reduce global hunger and create a more sustainable system, we will need a mix of new technology and improved behaviors.

Technology Trends:

Algae farms:

By tapping the vast ocean, companies are starting to grow algae in vast quantities.  Don’t worry this isn’t for our dinner plates. The algae will be used as a sustainable animal feed source giving our current grazing pastures a break from the decades of over use.  The algae farms could have additional benefits such as being a source of biofuel and even cause a reduction in global CO2 levels.

Supply Chain Improvements:

While local sourcing is great, we are still a long way from achieving a majority of local food sourcing. Studies show that over 40% of the American food supply is never eaten due to spoilage with much of that due to inefficiencies in the supply chain.  As the costs of RFID (Radio-frequency identification) tags have plummeted, transportation companies can now affordable track their food shipments in real time down to an individual boxes sitting on a pallet.  The real-time information eliminates bottlenecks and reduces transit times which in turn will cut spoilage.

locally grownTrending Behaviors:

Local Sourcing:

The customers have spoken and the restaurants have heard.  According to a 2014 National Restaurant Association survey, 4 of the top 10 hottest trends related to locally sourcing their ingredients.  Sourcing produce continues to be most common but restaurants are also starting to look for local sources of meat, seafood, and even alcohol!

Micro Urban farming:

Micro Urban farming is a movement to utilize unused urban space to grow food for people in need.  Organizations such as Urban Farming work globally to support local efforts to create small farms.  The farms are supported locally with donations for supplies and the labor is provided by the families that will receive the fruits and vegetables from the local farm space.

About the Author:

Chris Wimmer writes at HealthSmartLiving.com. Read more about how he uses his juicer to make sure he gets a few extra fruits and vegetables into his diet.

(Photo 1, Photo 2)

Nourishing Mondays: Curried Spinach and Lentil Bake

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Looking for a quick, healthy and filling dish to whip up? Look no further; this recipe for curried spinach and lentil bake is sure to please.

Ingredients:

1 cup(s) chopped yellow onion
1 clove(s) garlic, finely chopped
3 tablespoon(s) olive oil
1 cup(s) basmati rice
2 teaspoon(s) curry powder
1 1/2 teaspoon(s) salt
1 teaspoon(s) freshly ground pepper
2 package(s) (10-ounce) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and liquid squeezed out
2 cup(s) cooked brown lentils
2 can(s) (13 1/2-ounce) coconut milk

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Cook onion and garlic clove in olive oil in a large heatproof skillet over medium-low heat until translucent. Stir in rice, curry powder, salt, and pepper; cook 2 more minutes. Add spinach, lentils, and coconut milk. Cover and bake, 30 to 40 minutes.

10 servings

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Sustainable Saturdays: Saturday Smoothie

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A few weeks ago, I wrote about drying your garden harvest in a food dehydrator for later fall and winter enjoyment.  Today, I wanted to share a great smoothie recipe that I recently concocted using some of my dried fruit.

The key to using dried fruit in a smoothie is to rehydrate the fruit before blending.  This can be accomplished by pre-soaking the fruit in water for an hour or pre-soaking your fruit in one of the liquid smoothie ingredients.  In this recipe, I use the orange juice to rehydrate the strawberries.

Strawberry-Orange Smoothie Delight

Ingredients

8 oz Fresh Squeezed Orange Juice
4 oz Almond Milk
½ cup dried strawberries
1 cup ice

Directions

Combine orange juice and strawberries in a bowl and let stand for 1 hour.

Pour orange juice, strawberries and milk into the blundered. Pulse until strawberries are well broken down. Add ice and blend for another 10 seconds to achieve a good consistency. Serve and enjoy immediately!

About the Author:

Chris Wimmer writes at HealthSmartLiving.com. Read more about smoothie makers and food dehydrators because if he can do it so can you!

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Guest Post: It’s Not About “How” We Eat, It’s About “What” We Eat

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Increasingly more people are chasing after more active lifestyles, merging hectic daily activities with a constant need to stay strong and healthy. Although “how” we eat is important, we should also focus on “what” we eat if we want to see a good change in our bodies.

Consumer considerations about supplying the right amount of vitamins and minerals and their blends in suggested quantities to the body are escalating. Even though people finally understand the great importance of healthy foods, it’s still difficult to include these principles into our lifestyles. As human beings, we simply love how delicious food can be; and we’re particularly referring to junk food.

In the United States, 65% of the people are struggling to lead a healthy lifestyle; in spite of all their efforts, junk food tastes a lot better. Fortunately, we’re constantly pressured by society to eat healthy. The media keeps highlighting the bad effects of unhealthy foods, and this affects our perceptions. We want to live longer, we want to stay healthy, and we want to feel good. To achieve all that, we must stay away from unhealthy foods.

People’s attitude towards weight and health

Not many people realize that their eating habits may lead to vitamin deficiencies. It’s literally impossible to stay healthy by eating just food. In some cases, vitamin supplementation may be required as the body cannot produce all necessary nutrients for a vigorous, strong immune system. Our agitated lifestyles don’t allow us to have regular balanced meals. Thus, our only solution is to take supplements in order to keep our bodies healthy.

This doesn’t mean we should replace food with supplements, as supplements are just meant to fill in the gaps. A recent study performed in 2011 indicates that the people can understand the importance of exercise and diet. However, very few are willing to commit. People want to eat and feel full rather than cut back on their carbohydrate intake even that means gaining weight.

Our bodies need proteins

Proteins are the link between weight management and active food. Proteins derived from dairy products play a vital role in nutritional performance and dietary supplements, due to their superior taste and dietary profile, natural character, and versatile functionalities. As for mass produced proteins, they are valued for their solid purposeful qualities.

Milk proteins are the most important; they’re essential in both dietary supplements and performance nutrition. There’s no secret that dietary proteins have a positive effect on our bodies. We can include proteins into our systems in 3 different ways: hydrolyzed, intact protein, and pre-digested protein. From a functional and nutritional point of view, these nitrogen sources have both advantages and disadvantages.

Whey and casein are the two most important proteins found in milk. They’re absorbed and digested differently by the human body. Apparently, to regulate protein anabolism, everything depends on the protein digestion rate. Unlike casein, the whey protein is absorbed much faster by inducing a shorter, more dramatic boost in blood plasma amino acids. Thus, whey proteins are commonly employed for fast recovery products.

Milk also contains calcium, which plays a vital role in the body. It strengthens the bones and teeth, and it is excellent for weight management. Several arthritis supplements contain calcium, among other ingredients, to make sure that the whole body stays strong, energetic, and pain-free.

Benefits of weight management supplements

Including tasty active foods into our diet is certainly good for the health. However, it’s not enough to lose weight. Did you know that supplements have a lot of benefits, too? HCA for example, is in fact a salt that from a dried fruit’s rind. It is found in Southeast Asian plants such as Garcinia Cambodia and bridal berry. Research shows that HCA boost fat metabolism and inhibits appetite; apparently, it also lowers “bad” cholesterol.

Chitosan is another weight loss supplement that helps the body burn fat faster. It comes from the chitin fiber, a primary component found in shells and crustaceans. Holistic practitioners recommend Chitosan, as it claims to lower cholesterol and diminish the absorption of fat into the body.

There are many other nutrition & weight management supplements available in the marketplace. However, prior to starting a treatment, make sure to include healthy foods in your diet, too. Focus on proteins from dairy, white meat, fruits and vegetables, and never forget that what you eat is just as important as how you eat.

(Photo Sources 1, 2, 3)

Nourishing Mondays: Fall Vegetable Curry

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Fall typically brings out the urge to cook full, hearty meals; dishes that will satisfy you and bring warmth on chilly nights. This Indian-inspired dish is the perfect example. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil
1 cup diced peeled sweet potato
1 cup small cauliflower florets
1/4 cup thinly sliced yellow onion
2 teaspoons Madras curry powder
1/2 cup organic vegetable broth (such as Swanson)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), rinsed and drained
1 (14.5-ounce) can no-salt-added diced tomatoes, undrained
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 cup plain 2% reduced-fat Greek yogurt

Directions:

1. Heat olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add sweet potato to pan; sauté 3 minutes. Decrease heat to medium. Add cauliflower, onion, and curry powder; cook 1 minute, stirring mixture constantly. Add broth and next 3 ingredients (through tomatoes); bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes or until vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally. Sprinkle with cilantro; serve with yogurt.

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Sustainable Saturdays: The Right Way to Enjoy Pomegranates

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In the mid-2000’s pomegranate juice was today’s kale. It was touted at the magical elixir that could improve your cardiovascular health, treat your painful arthritis, and even restore your skin to a more youthful appearance.

While pomegranates are still believed to provide many positive health benefits, the news has changed from health benefits to lawsuits and deceptive advertising. The original POM Wonderful manufacturer is suing Coca-Cola for selling pomegranate juice that contains less than 0.5% pomegranates.  But that’s not all, the USFDA and FTC are also investing the POM Company about overstating the health benefits of their POM Wonderful juice. Well at least their juice is 85% pomegranate!

With the negative news about advertising practices dominating the talk about pomegranates, I thought it would be a good time to remind everyone about some great ways to enjoy pomegranates beyond the grocery store juice.

Ways to Enjoy Pomegranates

Hand Fruit – Cut a fresh pomegranate in half and enjoy the process of eating the little capsules of goodness.  If you have never eaten a fresh pomegranate, it’s much like eating un-shelled nuts as it givens your hands something ‘to do’ while snacking. (Eat a pomegranate like a pro)

Salad Topping – Pomegranate seeds are a great way to provide a unique flavor and texture to your salad.  It should also let you reduce the amount of dressing required cutting your calories too.

Ice Cream Topping – Skip the M&Ms and opt for pomegranate seeds. The seeds are just as sweat as candy and even have their own candy ‘crunch’.

Party Cocktails – Pomegranates make great additions to Champaign and party punches. A few of my favorites are on serious eats.

About the Author:

Chris Wimmer writes at HealthSmartLiving.com. Read more about possible pomegranate health benefits along with other great foods to include in your daily diet.

(Photo Courtesy: Shai Barzilay)

Nourishing Mondays: Baked Pesto Chicken Angel Hair Pasta

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Start your week off with this quick and easy recipe for baked pesto chicken.

Ingredients:

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
½ cup basil pesto
2 plum tomatoes
shredded mozzarella cheese

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Cover cookie sheet with foil.

2. Put pesto and chicken in bowl. Toss until chicken is covered.

3. Bake for 20-25 minutes.

4. Place slices of tomato on top of chicken and sprinkle with cheese.

5. Bake another 3-5 minutes.

6. Serve with a box of angel hair pasta and herbs and French bread.

(Photo Source/Resource)

Sustainable Saturdays: Ways to Preserve Your Garden Harvest – Part 2

Reported by foodem.com, the online wholesale food marketplace-Pressure canning

Last Saturday I shared how to preserve your garden harvest by using a food dehydrator. A food dehydrator is great at preserving fruits, vegetables and even meats.  The food can be re-hydrated later or simply eaten in its new dried state.  I personally love eating dried food as it completely transforms the texture and concentrates the food’s flavor.

This week we will talk about canning as a yet another way to preserve your garden harvest.  So what exactly is canning?

Canning is a simple process of applying heat to food while it is in a glass canning jar to kill and eliminate the future risk of bacteria and food spoilage.  A correctly canned and stored jar of food can last up to 2 or 3 years although it’s probably best to try to clear out and rotate your canned food on an annual basis.

Why I started canning:

1)     I’m practical as canning let’s me save vs. waste our summer garden bounty while it also saves our family money in the winter as we don’t need to purchase as much out of season produce

2)     I’m sentimental.  I grow up in rural Oregon with a huge garden and not much money. However, I never knew that until I was an adult. I just remember the fall days of my mom canning applesauce and enjoying a bowl of applesauce virtually everyday of my grade school life.

3)     I’m trying to be healthier. Home canned goods have no artificial preservatives while the grocery store brands can still use artificial additives to extend their look and taste.

What you need to get started:

1)     A pressure canner. This is different than a pressure cooker which uses pressure to cook food faster but not in a glass jar.  As this is an introduction to canning, you may have some trepidation about canning with one of those BIG old pressure canners that sit on your stove top.  If this is you, consider buying a small electric pressure canner such as the autocanner from Ball.

2)     Basic canning accessories including a canning funnel, jar lifter, magnetic lid lifter, and kitchen tongs.

3)     Glass canning jars and metal lids. The jars can be used over and over while you should always use a new lid to ensure a quality seal.

The final piece of the canning puzzle is to find your first canning project.  Here are 3 great canning projects for noobies courtesy of the Ball Company: Dill Green Beans, Tomato Sauce, and Apple Jelly.

Once you let your newly jarred food cool for about 24 hours make sure you find a good long-term storage area for your jars to maximize the shelf-life and freshness.  The location should be dark and cool with average humidity.

About the Author:

Chris Wimmer writes at HealthSmartLiving.com. Read more about how he learned to use a pressure canner to save some of his garden harvest for the winter. You can also follow him on facebook and twitter.

(Photo Courtesy: paige_eliz)