Vegetables That Promote Bone Health and a Recipe for Fennel-Dill Artichokes

I am happy to host a guest post today from Elaine Rosales. As our family continually strives to work on  our diet regarding food allergies and healthy living, nutrition is a topic which comes up at our house more and more. We are attempting to balance simplicity with nutrition and moderation. Check out Elaine’s awesome recipe!

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Vegetables That Promote Bone and Joint Health

artichokesMany people, especially those nearing their senior years, are now looking for effective ways to take good care of their bones and joints. This is very important, because as you reach your 30s, your bone mass will start to gradually decline.

Many think that the best way to stop or reverse bone loss is to take high doses of supplements, such as calcium. But here’s the truth: you can actually keep your bones strong and healthy simply by modifying your diet. You will be surprised and happy to know that there are natural substances that can help keep your joints and bones healthy even as you age.

The Potential Benefits of Fennel

According to one study in the International Journal of Molecular Medicine, eating fennel seeds may have a beneficial effect on the loss of bone mineral density, as well as on bone mineral content.

The research says that fennel helps reduce osteoclast differentiation and function, which helps to decrease bone turnover markers and offers a protective effect on the bones. Osteoclasts are cells that break down weakened bones, while osteoblasts are cells that build them back up.

Fennel, also called bronze fennel or common fennel, is a plant that produces both a seed-like fruit and a leafy growth used as an herb. It is actually a treasure trove of nutrients: it contains folate, vitamin C, calcium, magnesium, phytonutrients, and antioxidants.

Try This Simple Fennel Recipe: Fennel-Dill Artichokes

Ingredients:

4 artichokes

1 cup carrots, quartered lengthwise

1 cup fennel or celery, thinly sliced

¼ cup olive oil

¼ cup melted coconut oil

¼ cup fresh lemon juice

1 teaspoon fennel seeds

2 tablespoons or more fresh dill, chopped

½ teaspoon salt

Black pepper

 

Procedure:

  1. Trim the tips of the artichoke leaves and cut off the stems, so they sit upright.
  2. Put the artichokes in a large pot, add water until they’re properly covered, and bring to a boil. Cover the pot, reduce heat, and let simmer until just barely tender. This takes about 15 minutes. Drain.
  3. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  4. Mix the carrots, celery, and fennel, and then spread evenly in a baking dish. Put the artichokes in an upright position on top of the vegetables.
  5. Mix the coconut oil, olive oil, fennel seeds, lemon juice, salt, dill, and sprinkle with black pepper. Pour all over artichoke mixture.
  6. Cover the baking dish and bake until all the vegetables are tender. This takes about 45 minutes.

This recipe makes four servings. Remember that this is a high-starch dish, so eat it in small amounts. You can also combine it with a protein and fat meal.

Don’t Miss Out on Other Healthy Vegetables

Fennel is just one example of a vegetable that has beneficial effects for bone health. High vegetable intake is actually associated with positive effects on bone mineral status for many years. Vegetables supply your body with bone health-promoting nutrients, like potassium and vitamin K1.

Potassium is needed by your body to help keep your body fluid pH levels at an optimal range. Sufficient potassium intake can help optimize your sodium to potassium ratio, which is an important factor for ensuring optimal bone mass.

However, if you eat a diet loaded with processed foods (which are high in sodium but low in potassium), there’s a high chance that your potassium to sodium ratio will be far from optimal and will set the stage for many health ailments.

In conclusion, eating a diet rich in high-quality, organic, and locally-grown vegetables – while ditching high-sodium processed foods – will help you to increase your bone density and strength naturally, and will help decrease your risk of developing fractures.

Remember, though, that healthy eating is just one aspect of bone and joint health – you need to combine it with other natural lifestyle strategies, such as optimizing your vitamin D levels, exercising regularly, and getting enough  high-quality sleep.

About the Author

Elaine Rosales enjoys reading articles written by Dr. Mercola. She is currently researching different treatment protocols for joint pain, and how optimal joint health greatly depends on various natural lifestyle strategies such as proper diet, exercise, and sufficient rest.

photo credit: minwoo via photopin cc

Dark Chocolate Pumpkin Torte (GF/DF)

What makes pumpkin better? Chocolate!

 

Dark Chocolate Pumpkin Torte (GF/DF)

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

Melt the following over gentle heat:

  • 1/2 cup dairy free chocolate chips
  • 2 TBSP. oil

Mix the following:

  • 3 large eggs and 2 egg whites or 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 t. vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • frshly grated nutmeg (however much smells right to you)
  • pinch of salt

Add the melted chocolate to your batter and continue mixing.

Add to a 9 inch spring form pan that has been greased well (wax paper on the bottom also helps). Bake at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes, until the torte is jiggly in the middle but holds together. Allow to cool and remove from pan.

Melt 1/4 cup of dairy free chocolate chips and a smidge of oil. Drizzle across the top of the torte.

Chill torte before serving.

 

Note: I typically freeze my pumpkin puree in 2 cup increments, so I make two tortes and freeze one for later!

Pumpkin Hot Chocolate (dairy free)

Fall screams pumpkin, and much to my husband’s chagrin, we try to incorporate pumpkin into a lot of dishes……including, apparently, hot chocolate!

Pumpkin Hot Chocolate (dairy free)

Blend the following ingredients:

  • 3 cups almond milk
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 4 1/2 TB. maple syrup
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • a sprinkling of freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 3 TB. cocoa powder

Heat over gentle heat until warmed through to your liking. Garnish with miniature marshmallows as desired.

 

Slow Cooker Cinnamon Applesauce

Fall calls to me to make aromatic food. Nothing says September quite like apples and cinnamon. Cinnamon applesauce made in the slow cooker not only tastes delicious and is free from preservatives, it makes our house smell wonderful. This recipe makes a nice chunky (or process for smooth) applesauce with a pleasant sweat tarness.

Slow Cooker Cinnamon Applesauce

  • 24 medium sized apples, peeled and chopped
  • 4 tsp. lemon juice
  • 2 – 3 inch cinnamon sticks
  • 4 TB. light brown sugar

Set crock pot on low and place the peeled and chopped apples into it. Add the lemon juice, brown sugar and two cinnamon sticks. Cook on low for 6 hours, stirring occasionally. Whisk to give the applesauce a nice chunky consistency and remove the cinnamon sticks.

Two dozen apples fills my large oval slow cooker. If you have a smaller slow cooker or want to make a smaller batch, you can cut the recipe in half. Keeps well in the fridge or can by normal canning methods.

 

Clementine Cake (gluten and dairy free)

I love using citris in recipes at this time of year. I love citris, period, although I rarely use it anymore due to my 1 1/2 year old’s citris allergy. When I saw this gluten and dairy free recipe for clementine cake by Deb at Smitten Kitchen, I knew I wanted to try it. I ended up making it for our Solstice Party (while my husband pointed out that having people over is not a time to try a brand new recipe which I planned to further alter).

However, it turned out really well. I was quite impressed and happy to have another use for the almond meal leftover from making almond milk.

Recipe:

  • 1 pound of celementines.
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons  sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups leftover almond meal from making almond milk (as opposed to Deb’s 2 1/3 cups of almond flour)
  • 1 heaping teaspoon baking powder (I use homemade in order to avoid the cornstarch)

According to the original recipe, you cover the clementines with water, bring to a boil, and simmer for two hours, under the raised eyebrows of your husband, who is horrified that the entire clementines will go into the cake. Deb’s instructions say to deseed the clementines after they cool, but the seeds were so small it seemed pointless. I dumped them in my trusty Blend-Tec,along with the other ingredients, and blended away.

After pouring in a greased (with canola oil) springform pan, I baked the cake for about 50 minutes at 375.

The cake turned out wonderfully moist with an almost custard like texture and a taste that was more than sweet enough (I may even cut the sugar down next time).

Gluten and Dairy Free Chocolate Chip Cookies

Chocolate chip cookies couldn’t disappear just because we were cutting out gluten, dairy, and soy. Luckily, Ginger Lemon Girl has a fantastic gluten/dairy free recipe.

This was actually the first allergen friendly dessert that I made that came out correctly. My husband sighed when I made them and decided that he could live gluten and dairy free with the inclusion of these chocolate chip cookies. Thankfully, I’ve become much more adept at making allergy friendly desserts (and other dishes, but let’s be honest, the desserts are important) since then.