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  • Writer's pictureDanielle Taylor

GREEN MACHINE SUMMER BOWL - Harness the healthy power of GREEN!

Updated: Aug 9, 2020


 

We are going for a little color coordination today. There are a lot of great ingredients in this recipe, and today we are going to highlight two of my absolute favorites...Avocados and Pumpkin Seeds.

For many of us avocado is a beloved, yet occasional treat. Guacamole at a party, or maybe a splurge add-on when ordering at a restaurant. I am here to tell you that this cram-packed wonderfood should be invited as a regular guest to your meals whenever possible. If you come with the preconceived notion that avocados should be avoided because of the fat, I hope to change your mind now that science has proven otherwise, even the opposite, when it comes to eating avocados and weight loss!


Heart Health - Avocado’s relationship to heart health has been well established for decades. It knows exactly what to do to whip your blood-lipids back into shape: raising HDLs (“good” cholesterol), lowering LDLs (“bad” cholesterol) and triglycerides, as well as having positive effects on blood pressure and atherosclerosis damage, (including in diabetic cases), and improving vascular health through their antioxidant super powers.


Phytosterols are the plant versions of cholesterol. They work magic for our cardiovascular health because they advantageously block cholesterol absorption in the digestive tract. And what do you know, avocados are the richest known fruit source of phytosterols. These beautiful fruits are coming in hot with vitamins, minerals, and a plethora of bioactive compounds, such as carotenoids, phenolic compounds, and flavonoids, all of which have been linked to reduction in chronic disease, metabolic syndromes, and even cancers.


Weight Loss - Did you know that avocados are 72% water and about 7% fiber, and only just over 100 calorie per half. Not only that, they have the same desirable effects on weight management, waist circumference and BMI (body-mass index) as low-fat veggies and fruits. Avocados have comparable nutrition to tree nuts along with their proven heart-health benefits, but with less than half the calories per serving...so, yeah, pass me that guac, please!


Avocados also contain very little sugar, half of an avocado contains only about 0.2 grams of sugar. Interestingly, the primary sugar in avocados is a unique seven-carbon sugar called D-mannoheptulose which doesn’t behave like conventional sugars (such as sucrose or fructose) in our bodies. It looks like it may even be able to lower insulin levels by an astounding 35%! Not only is the updated glycemic index and load of an avocado expected to be about zero, a study of healthy overweight adults suggested that one-half an avocado consumed at lunch greatly lowered hunger and increased satiation (feeling of fullness), perfect for those trying to drop some pounds the healthy, yet not-so-starving, way.


Anti-Aging - Most of us have at least come across the merit of antioxidants. In a nutshell they protect our DNA from damage by picking up free radicals floating around in our bodies. Actually, the noticeable effects of ageing are great indicators of our DNA health. The great news is that avocados are excellent sources of antioxidants, such as xanthophylls, and this includes in the extracts and oil. One compelling study was done on airline pilots who are exposed to high levels radiation known to damage DNA and accelerate the aging process. The more vitamin C, beta-carotene, β-cryptoxanthin, and lutein-zeaxanthin from fruits and vegetables that they ate, the less damage there was to their DNA. And guess which star player has all of the above? That's right, avocados!


Like coconut oil, avocado turns out to offer natural protection against the sun due to the highly bioavailable amounts of lutein and zeaxanthin that can help to protect the skin from damage from both UV and visible radiation, and without all of the chemicals, or vitamin D blocking issues associated with standard sunscreens. Several studies even show that both topical or oral lutein can give us UV protection.


Eating avocado doesn’t just provide us with a bunch of nutrients, it also makes nutrients in other foods more absorbable, specifically fat-soluble vitamins like A, E, D, and K. Adding avocado to salads with low-fat or no dressing, and serving avocados with salsa, increases carotenoid bioavailability by 2–5 times. Talk about a team player!


PRO TIP - Peeling skin from the fruit (instead of scooping it out with a spoon) allows you to get the most nutritional value, as it’s in it’s highest concentration in the darkest, most outer layer.


Pumpkin Seeds are another best friend for your diet. Like many seeds, they are rich with minerals and phytonutrients. One in particular, magnesium, is a key player in an immense number of important metabolic functions, cardiac and nervous system functioning, bone health, as well as related to healthy management of diabetes, migraines, and blood pressure, and that’s just naming a few.


Heart Health - Pumpkin seeds lower several cardiovascular disease risk factors. Just like those glorious avocados, pumpkin seeds can increase HDL cholesterol, and decrease both total and LDL cholesterol. Pumpkin seeds also have high concentrations of phytosterols, which are plant compounds that help prevent cholesterol absorption. Postmenopausal women that were given pumpkin seed oil daily not only had boasted those blood-lipid profile benefits, but also a marvelous drop in diastolic blood pressure and much appreciated reductions in menopausal symptoms, including those miserable hot flashes.


Anti-Inflammatory - Pumpkin seeds are potent anti-inflammatories (especially considering their antioxidant properties). A study on inflammation showed pumpkin seed oil applied topically appeared to worked just as well as a typical anti-inflammatory medication, but without the side-effects on the liver. Remarkably, when the inflammation spread from the skin to the joints (a.k.a. arthritis), the pumpkin seed oil seemed to improve those sites as well.


Super-Protein - Pumpkin seeds provide a fantastic assortment of essential fatty acids, especially palmitic, stearic, oleic, and linoleic acid (which we all have to eat to maintain our health because our body can’t manufacture these necessary fatty acids). Even though they aren’t the only heavy hitter when it comes to omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, they are strikingly low in fat for how protein-rich they are compared to other seeds such as chia, making them an excellent nutrient rich option, without a lot of calories.



Below the Green Machine Summer Bowl combines these two power players together, so you’ve got yourself a mouthful of health that doesn’t just nourish and delight the taste buds, but also fights to protect you from head to toe!



 

GREEN MACHINE SUMMER BOWL


Serves 3-4

Gluten Free, Plant-Based, Sugar Free, Salt Free, Nut Free

Prep and Cook time: 25-30 mins


Bowl Ingredients:

  • 1 cup rice (brown, white, or jade)

  • 2-3 green onions (green parts for bowl, white parts for dressing)

  • ½ cup+ cucumber

  • 3-4 sprigs mint

  • ½ cup cilantro (can use other fresh herb(s), such as Italian parsley)

  • ½ medium or small tomatillo (optional, sub with tomatoes if hard to find)

  • ½+ avocado

  • 3 Tbsp pumpkin seeds

  • 1 Tbsp lime juice

Dressing Ingredients:

  • ½ an avocado

  • ½ cup cilantro

  • ¼ cup vegan sour cream (my favorite brand is Forager Project)

  • 2 tsp lime juice

  • 3-4 cloves garlic

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil

  • 2-3 green onions (green parts for bowl, white parts for dressing)

  • ½ medium or small tomatillo (optional, sub with tomatoes if hard to find)


Prep Work:

  1. Add 1 cup of rice to a medium sauce pot, add recommended amount of water (depending on the type of rice you choose to use); bring to boil, reduce heat to simmer and cover with lid and cook for recommended time.

  2. Thinly slice the green section of green onion and roughly chop white section and place in a blender (or mini food processor) for the dressing.

  3. Slice cucumber into half moons and set aside.

  4. Thinly chop mint and set aside.

  5. Roughly chop cilantro, add ½ cup cilantro to a blender, save remaining cilantro to add to rice.

  6. Remove the husk of the tomatillo. Roughly chop one half and add to the blender. Dice the remaining half and set aside.

  7. Halve and chop a large avocado, add half to the blender; save remaining half for the bowls.

  8. Juice 1 lime, add 2 tsp to blender, save 2 tsp for rice.

  9. Finish dressing: add ¼ cup sour cream, 2 teaspoons lime juice, 3-4 cloves garlic, and 1 tsp olive oil and blend together until smooth.

  10. Once rice is finished cooking, add remaining ½ cup cilantro, 3 tablespoons pumpkin seeds, and 2 tsp lime, mixing well.

Ready to Serve:

  1. Serve rice covered with avocado, cucumber, tomatillo, mint, sliced green onions, and sprinkle with more pumpkin seeds.

  2. Add the desired amount of dressing, salt and pepper to taste, and enjoy!





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