Make a Great Grocery List in Minutes

Having a well-planned grocery list gets you in and out of the store quickly and helps you stick to your healthy eating plan.

Use these tips and in just a few minutes, you’ll have a blueprint for a cart full of groceries that won’t bust your budget or diet.

Organize your grocery shopping list by aisle. Follow these tips for filling that list with the healthiest foods from each aisle.

1. Bakery and Bread

On Your List:

  • Whole wheat bread, pita pockets, and English muffins
  • Whole-grain flour tortillas

Look for the words “whole wheat” or “whole wheat flour” as the first ingredient on the label.

Choose whole-grain breads that contain at least 3 to 4 grams of fiber and have fewer than 100 calories per slice.

2. Meat and Seafood

On Your List:

  • Skinless chicken or turkey breasts
  • Ground turkey or chicken
  • Salmon, halibut, trout, mackerel, or your favorite seafood
  • Reduced-sodium lunchmeat (turkey, roast beef)

If you buy red meat, choose the leanest cuts — ones with very little marbling.

Eat ground chicken or ground turkey breast instead of ground beef. These are much lower in fat. Get creative with the condiments and you’ll get flavor without the fat.

3. Pasta and Rice

On Your List:

  • Brown rice
  • Whole wheat or whole-grain pasta

Again, favor whole grains whenever possible.

4. Oils, Sauces, Salad Dressings, and Condiments

On Your List:

  • Tomato sauce
  • Mustard
  • Barbecue sauce
  • Red-wine vinegar
  • Salsa
  • Extra virgin olive oil, canola oil, nonfat cooking spray
  • Jarred capers and olives
  • Hot pepper sauce

Many sauces and condiments are surprisingly high in sodium and sugar. Look for sugar-free varieties. Keep track of sodium levels, especially if you’re cutting back on salt.

Replace mayonnaise and other high-fat condiments with options like salsa and hot sauce, or choose light mayonnaise.

5. Cereals and Breakfast Foods

On Your List:

  • Whole-grain or multigrain cereals
  • Steel-cut or instant oatmeal
  • Whole-grain cereal bars

Buy cereals and cereal bars that are high in fiber and low in sugar. Use berries, dried fruit, or nuts to add sweetness to your cereal.

6. Soups and Canned Goods

On Your List:

  • Diced or whole peeled tomatoes
  • Tuna or salmon packed in water
  • Low-sodium soups and broths
  • Black, kidney, soy, or garbanzo beans; lentils, split peas
  • Diced green chilies

Check the label to see how much sodium is in canned vegetables and soups. Look for lower-sodium varieties.

When buying canned fruits, choose brands that are packed in juice rather than syrup.

7. Frozen Foods

On Your List:

  • Frozen vegetables: broccoli, spinach, peas, and carrots (no sauce)
  • Frozen fruit: strawberries, raspberries, blueberries (without added sugar)
  • Frozen shrimp
  • Pre-portioned, low-fat ice cream or frozen yogurt
  • Whole-grain waffles
  • Whole-grain vegetable pizza

Buy frozen vegetables to throw into soups, casseroles, and stews.

Low-fat frozen yogurt blended with frozen fruit makes a quick, healthy smoothie.

8. Dairy, Cheese, and Eggs

On Your List:

  • Skim or low-fat milk or soymilk
  • Fat-free or low-fat yogurt
  • Fat-free or low-fat cottage cheese
  • Low-fat cheese or string cheese snacks
  • Eggs or egg substitutes
  • Firm tofu
  • Butter or spread (a variety that doesn’t contain hydrogenated oils)

    If you like whole-fat cheeses and butter, you don’t have to deprive yourself. Just use smaller portions.

    Buy strong-flavored cheeses like Parmesan or goat cheese, so that you can use a smaller amount without sacrificing taste.

    Don’t buy pre-sweetened or flavored yogurts, which can be very high in sugar and calories. Instead, buy plain yogurt and add your own flavor with a tablespoon of fresh fruit or jam.

    9. Snacks and Crackers

    On Your List:

    • Whole-grain crackers
    • Dried fruit: apricots, figs, prunes, raisins, cranberries
    • Nuts: almonds, cashews, walnuts, peanuts, pecans, pistachios (roasted and unsalted)
    • Seeds: sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, whole or ground flaxseeds
    • Peanut butter, almond, or soy butter
    • Hummus
    • Dark chocolate pieces (containing more than 70% cocoa)

    10. Produce

    On Your List:

    • Fruit: bananas, apples, oranges, mangoes, strawberries, blueberries
    • Vegetables: sweet potatoes, baby spinach, broccoli, carrot sticks

    Look for a large variety of colorful fruits and vegetables. They have the most nutrients.

    Buy fruits and vegetables that are in season and locally grown. They taste better and cost less.

    Precut fruits and vegetables save you prep time.

    11. Drinks

    On Your List:

    • Unsweetened green and flavored teas
    • Calcium-fortified orange juice
    • Sparkling water

    If you buy juice, make sure it’s 100% fruit juice and not a “juice drink,” or “-ade.”

    An easy at-home recipe is to add fruit juice to sparkling water.

What Is the Nutritional Difference Between Hulled & Unhulled Sesame Seeds?

What Is the Nutritional Difference Between Hulled & Unhulled Sesame Seeds?

It’s no surprise that most of America’s sesame seed crop is used by the baking industry — the flavorful seeds are a familiar topping on bread, rolls, breadsticks, crackers and biscuits. Even though they’re often treated as a garnish, sesame seeds are an excellent source of heart-healthy unsaturated fat, dietary fiber and several important vitamins and minerals. When it comes to certain nutrients, whole sesame seeds, or those that retain their light brown skins, are slightly more nutritious than the hulled variety.

Basic Value

Sesame seeds are incredibly tiny — it takes about 1,000 of them to make a 1-ounce serving. In terms of calories and basic nutrients, whole sesame seeds are nutritionally comparable to hulled sesame seed kernels: You’ll get right around 160 calories, 13.6 grams of mostly unsaturated fat, 4.8 grams of protein and 7.3 grams of carbohydrates from a 1-ounce serving of either, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Dietary Fiber

Whether their hulls have been removed or remain intact, sesame seeds are a good source of dietary fiber. Whole sesame seeds are a somewhat better source of insoluble fiber because their hulls contain bran, but hulled sesame seeds still deliver about the same amount of total dietary fiber. Whole dried sesame seeds and bare dried kernels each provide just over 3 grams of dietary fiber per 1-ounce serving.

Minerals

If you’re looking to increase your intake of calcium or iron, whole sesame seeds are a much better option than hulled. You’ll get close to 280 milligrams of calcium and 4 milligrams of iron from a 1-ounce serving of whole dried sesame seeds, whereas a serving of hulled dried sesame seeds supplies less than 20 milligrams of calcium and just 1.8 milligrams of iron. Both varieties are good sources of zinc, phosphorus and magnesium.

Vitamins

Sesame seeds are a significant source of B vitamins, particularly thiamine, vitamin B-6, niacin and folate. Although whole sesame seeds are slightly higher in thiamine and vitamin B-6 than hulled seeds are, bare sesame kernels are slightly higher in niacin and folate. You’ll also get more vitamin E from hulled seeds than you will from whole seeds — a 1-ounce serving of hulled sesame seeds contains almost 7 times as much vitamin E as a serving of whole seeds.

Phytonutrients

With or without the hull, sesame seeds are an excellent source of antioxidants and polyphenols, including lignans. Diets rich in plant lignans are associated with a reduced risk of heart disease and may help protect against certain hormone-related cancers, according to the Linus Pauling Institute. A comprehensive review published in “Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition” in 2007 notes that sesame lignans also promote healthy cholesterol levels and help prevent high blood pressure.

Organic Sesame Seeds is available to purchase at SFMart.com

This article is originally posted on LIVESTRONG.COM

6 Hearty Bean Soups That Will Keep You Full For Hours

bean soup recipes

PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF VEGETARIAN VENTURE

It’s the dead of winter. And that New Year’s resolution to have salad for lunch every day—though well intentioned—just isn’t cutting it. Nope, this time of year calls for soup. Hot, steamy, soul-warming soup.But not just any soup. We’re talking about bean soup. When it comes to a meal-in-a-bowl that’s high on the heartiness factor and will keep your belly filled for hours, it just might be the perfect choice.That’s because beans are one of the only foods out there that are loaded with both protein and fiber—a combination that packs a serious satiety punch. They might even be more filling than meat. One recent Danish study found that participants who feasted on bean-based meals ate 12% fewer calories at their next meal compared to those who dined on pork or veal.So grab your wooden spoon and pull out your stockpot. It’s time to make a big batch of one of these hearty bean soups.

PERFECT SPLIT PEA SOUP

Perfect Split Pea Soup
1/6 PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF MOSTLY VEGAN
Perfect Split Pea Soup

Split peas might not be trendy like chickpeas, and they don’t show up in nearly as many recipes as lentils, white beans, or black beans. But they’re delicious in The Mostly Vegan‘s simple split pea soup with onions, carrots, and potatoes. And with an amazing 16g fiber and 16g protein per cooked cup of peas, they will keep you full all day long.

Ribollita
2/6 PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF FEASTING AT HOME
Ribollita

Most recipes for the Tuscan soup ribollita are more vegetables and bread than cannellini beans—making them great for an appetizer, but not for an actual meal. Feasting at Home‘s version is big on the beans, so it’s way more substantial. And a drizzle of rosemary lemon garlic oil makes it taste extra special. (Try one of these 10 slimming soups that still satisfy.)

thai coconut lentil soup
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Coconut Lentil Soup with Lemongrass and Ginger

A cup of cooked lentils serves up a whopping 16g fiber and 18g protein. But if you’re bored with your usual lentil soup, try Café Johnsonia‘s Thai-inspired version. It’s loaded with warming spices like ginger and curry powder, and gets a rich, velvety texture from full-fat coconut milk. (Follow these tips to sneak more fiber into your diet.)

Creamy Vegetarian White Chili
4/6 PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF VEGETARIAN VENTURE
Creamy Vegetarian White Chili

A generous amount of white beans isn’t the only thing that makes Vegetarian Venture‘s chili stick-to-your-ribs delicious. It’s also got two cups of whole milk, which won’t just help you stay full (thanks, protein and fat!). Full-fat dairy products might also keep you leaner, suggests Journal of Nutrition research.

Leblebi (North African Chickpea Soup)
5/6 PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF ALEXANDRA COOKS
Leblebi (North African Chickpea Soup)

Yup, chickpeas are good for way more than just hummus and salads. They’re downright delicious in this North African-inspired soup loaded with tomatoes, cumin, paprika, cilantro, and fiery harissa, says Alexandra Cooks. And at 13g fiber and 14g per cooked cup, they’ll stay with you for hours after your meal.

Creamy Broccoli White Bean Soup with Garlicky Yogurt
6/6 PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF WITH FOOD + LOVE
Creamy Broccoli White Bean Soup with Garlicky Yogurt

What’s the secret to making creamy broccoli soup without the cream? Pureed white beans, says With Food and Love. Not only do they bring the calorie count way down, they load your soup up with protein and fiber so you stay full for the long haul. Smart, right?
The article 6 Hearty Bean Soups That Will Keep You Full For Hours originally appeared on Prevention.

Organic products are available to purchase at SFMart.com

This article is originally posted on Rodal’s Organic Life

The 11 Healthiest Whole Grains You Should Be Eating

whole grain bread

Carbs get a negative rap because so many people are eating the bad ones—refined carbohydrates in white bread, candy, cookies, sugary cereals, and all sorts of other junk food and drinks. In fact, research has shown that 95 percent of the grains we eat are refined. Eating too many foods with these adulterated ingredients isn’t just bad for watching your weight; it can also raise your risk of heart disease and diabetes, plus raise your levels of blood fats called triglycerides, putting you on the fast track for a heart attack, stroke, or other health issues.

The good news is that working the healthiest grains into your diet can help prevent these health problems. Healthy, whole-grain foods are made from cereal grains that include the whole kernel, and research shows that they can protect you from ticker trouble, diabetes, colon cancer, and possibly asthma and Alzheimer’s disease. These 11 grains are worth keeping at the top of your shopping list.

wheat bran on spoon
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Whole Wheat

This one is pretty easy, as long as you don’t let food marketers trick you. It can be readily found in bread and pasta products, but make sure the label says “100 percent whole wheat.” Terms like “multigrain” and “wheat” don’t cut it. As when you’re shopping for any whole-grain product, look at the ingredients and make sure the whole grain is at or near the top of the list. Each serving should contain at least 2 or 3 grams of fiber.

oats
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Whole Oats

Oats are particularly rich in avenanthramide, an antioxidant that protects the heart. When you’re shopping for this whole grain, whether you see the word “whole” or not doesn’t matter the way it does with wheat products. Oats in the ingredients list mean the product is made from whole oats. But, if you are buying something like instant oatmeal, avoid those that contain high-fructose corn syrup. Studies have found that it was a source of mercury contamination in oatmeal. We suggest sticking to the good old-fashioned unsweetened kind and mixing in a little fruit or honey.

brown rice
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Brown Rice

When you choose white rice over brown, around 75 percent of its nutrients—including nearly all the antioxidants, magnesium, phosphorus, and B vitamins contained in the healthy bran and germ—are left on the milling-room floor. Always opt for brown rice, which includes brown aromatic varieties like basmati and jasmine. Get even more exotic with red and black rice, both of which are considered whole grains and are high in antioxidants. Though technically a grass, wild rice is also considered a whole grain and is rich in B vitamins, such as niacin and folate.

 

rye
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Whole Rye

According to nutritional research from the nonprofit The Organic Center, rye has more nutrients per 100-calorie serving than any other whole grain. It has four times more fiber than standard whole wheat and provides you with nearly 50 percent of your daily recommended amount of iron. The problem is, most rye and pumpernickel bread in this country is made with refined flours. Be persistent and look for “whole rye” topping the ingredients list to get the healthy benefits.

freekeh grain
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Freekeh

Yes, freekeh has a crazy name, but it has very serious benefits. This Arabic grain is a low-carb form of ancient wheat that has up to four times more fiber than brown rice. Freekeh kernels are harvested while they’re young and then roasted. They contain more vitamins and minerals, such as immune-boosting selenium, than other grains. Once in your stomach, freekeh acts as a prebiotic, stimulating the growth of healthy bacteria that aid digestion. (This is different than a probiotic, which is a beneficial live bacteria you consume). Look for it in Middle Eastern markets or natural-food stores.

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Whole-Grain Barley

Eating a half-cup of whole barley regularly during a 5-week period cut participants’ cholesterol levels by nearly 10 percent when compared to other participants who went without barley in a USDA study. Add raisins or dried apricots to quick-cooking barley and serve it as a side dish. Just make sure it’s whole-grain barley, not “pearled,” which means the bran and germ have been removed.

bowl of buckwheat groats
7/11 GAMZOVA OLGA/ SHUTTERSTOCK
Buckwheat

This common pancake whole grain is one of the whole grains many people living with celiac disease can tolerate (others include quinoa, amaranth, and sorghum). And it’s one of the best grain-based sources of magnesium, a wonder mineral that does everything from ease PMS symptoms to improve nerve functioning; and manganese, which boosts brain power. And thank goodness for that, because who doesn’t enjoy a good buckwheat pancake from time to time?

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Bulgur

For all practical purposes, bulgur is considered a whole grain, even though up to 5 percent of its bran may be removed during processing. It’s so good for you, though, we’re putting it on the list. The grain, which is used to make tabbouleh salad, is a great source of iron and magnesium. The fiber and protein powerhouse (a cup contains nearly 75 percent of the dietary fiber you need for the day, and 25 percent of the protein you should get) can be used in salads or tossed in soups. And it cooks in only a few minutes.

quinoa
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Quinoa

Though it’s technically a seed and not a grain, this ancient South American power food is packed with more protein than any other grain, and each uncooked cup of the stuff (about three servings) has 522 milligrams of omega-3 fatty acids. Your family will likely enjoy its light, nutty flavor for a change of pace at the dinner table.

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Whole-Wheat Couscous

Most of the couscous you see is a form of pasta, usually made from refined wheat flour. So when you’re eyeing the items in the aisle for the healthiest couscous pick, look for the whole-wheat kind, most easily found in natural-food stores. Skipping the refined version and going with the whole-grain type will gain you 5 additional grams of fiber.

corn
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Corn

Corn can be extremely healthy for you when it’s whole. A good source of B vitamins, magnesium, and phosphorus, whole corn is also thought to increase healthy gut flora, which can ward off diabetes, heart disease, and chronic inflammation. Yellow corn is also high in antioxidants. The easiest way to eat it? Popcorn. Just skip the microwavable kinds that use harmful chemicals in the bags’ nonstick lining. Instead, buy organic popcorn kernels and pop them in a microwave using an ordinary paper bag, or do it the old-fashioned way on the stovetop. Buying organic is important, as about 40 percent of the corn grown in the United States is genetically modified (GMO) to withstand higher doses of pesticides.

Organic products are available to purchase at SFMart.com

This article is originally posted on Rodal’s Organic Life

The Advantages of Eating Beans

Pinto soufflé, garbanzos a l’orange, black bean flambé…if we afforded beans gourmet status, we may well reduce the burden of many of our most common degenerative diseases. That’s because the incredible health benefits of beans are simply undeniable. Let’s take a look at how the many benefits of beans can positively affect your health and well-being.

Health Benefit of Beans #1: High in Protein

Though lean meats and fish typically get all the glory, one important health benefit of beans is their protein content. A cup of cooked beans—black, pinto, or kidney, to name a few—contains roughly 15 grams of satiating, muscle- and tissue-building protein. So whether you’re a vegetarian or just looking for something other than chicken, fish, or turkey to add to your plate, try beans instead.

Health Benefit of Beans #2: Loaded With Fiber

Did you know that the average American only consumes about half the daily recommended amount of fiber? Instead of getting the 30–35 grams required for optimal health and proper digestion, most people only eat about 16 grams. Adequate fiber intake can lower cholesterol, ward off diabetes, enhance intestinal health, help with weight loss, and relieve a number of other health concerns. In fact, a recent study showed that every 7 additional grams of fiber consumed by study participants helped to significantly reduce their risk of heart disease. Another health benefit of beans? You can get that amount of fiber (about 7.5 grams) in just one half-cup serving.

Health Benefit of Beans #3: Bursting With B-Vitamins, Folic Acid, and Minerals

Another benefit of beans is that they are packed with vitamins and minerals, particularly B-vitamins, folic acid, zinc, magnesium, potassium, and copper—nutrients that the standard American diet tends to be deficient in. Beans also contain other phytonutrients such as plant sterols, lectins, and phenolic compounds with diverse health-enhancing properties.

Health Benefits of Beans #4: Rare Plant Source of Lysine

An interesting health benefit of beans is that they are one of the few plant sources of the amino acid lysine. Why is lysine important? For starters, it’s an essential amino acid, meaning it’s necessary for health but your body cannot produce it so you must get it from dietary sources. Furthermore, it’s required in the formation of collagen and connective tissue, the conversion of fatty acids into energy, and the absorption of calcium. Meat, fish, cheese, and eggs are good sources of lysine, but the clear winner in the plant world is beans.

Health Benefit of Beans #5: Low on the Glycemic Index

If you are watching your weight or your blood sugar, you are probably familiar with the glycemic index (GI) of different foods. In laymen’s terms, glycemic index basically refers to how quickly foods are broken down in your body and how they affect blood sugar. Foods with a high glycemic index cause rapid spikes in blood sugar and insulin (and subsequent crashes), and foods lower on the GI list tend to be digested more slowly and have less of an effect. The slower breakdown of foods helps keep blood sugar on an even keel, makes you feel full longer, and has positive effects on several aspects of health. Foods with a GI of 55 or lower are considered low glycemic. And guess what? Another health benefit of beans is that they have a GI ranging from 10 to 40, with chickpeas (garbanzo beans) being the lowest.

Health Benefit of Beans #6: Boon for Heart Health, Diabetes, and More

The benefits of beans really are undeniable. Regular consumption of beans has been linked to improvements in heart and intestinal health, diabetes and metabolic syndrome, weight control, and more. Everyone should try to incorporate more of these nutritional powerhouses into their daily diets. (Check out the healthy bean recipes below for ideas on how to get started.)

How to Overcome One Downside to Beans

Despite all the health benefits of beans, they can produce intestinal gas, which can be uncomfortable and embarrassing. It’s caused by the human body’s inability to completely digest resistant starches and other carbohydrates in beans called oligosaccharides. We simply lack the enzymes to break them down into simpler molecules for absorption. When these undigested carbs arrive in the intestinal tract, they are metabolized by the trillions of bacteria that reside there, which break them down in a fermentation process that releases hydrogen, carbon dioxide, methane, and other gases. (The odor is caused by sulfur compounds.)

There are two ways to reduce this problem. First, soak dried beans plus 1/8 teaspoon baking soda in cold water for eight hours or overnight. Pour off the soaking water and rinse well before cooking. This will get rid of a significant percentage of indigestible oligosaccharides.

Second, take Beano or digestive enzymes when you eat beans. Beano contains alpha-galactosidase, an enzyme that converts the indigestible carbohydrates in beans into simple, readily absorbed sugars.

Beans are available to purchase at SFMart.com

This article is originally posted on Dr. Whitaker

The Health Benefits of Roasted Barley Tea

The Health Benefits of Roasted Barley Tea

Overview

Individuals interested in beverages with therapeutic properties may be intrigued by roasted barley tea, known in Japanese as mugicha or in Korean as boricha. Barley tea is available in loose grains, tea bags or prepared tea drinks. It is traditionally used for detoxification, to improve digestion and for urinary tract infections, among other applications. While these uses have not been proven by scientific research, barley tea has other health-promoting properties.

Antibacterial

Roasted barley tea interferes with the absorption of oral streptococci, states the December 2006 issue of the “Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry.” Italian researchers exposed pretreated ceramic beads mimicking tooth enamel to bacteria and the tea in various combinations, discovering that the tea inhibited bacterial colonization and adhesion. Researchers noted that one chemical known for its anti-adhesive properties was absent in barley tea which was not roasted.

Antioxidant

Barley tea has antioxidant properties, notes the December 2004 issue of “Bioscience, Biotechnology, and Biochemistry.” A team of Japanese researchers from Shizuoka University analyzed the chemical components of barley tea and their effects on peroxynitrite. This unstable oxidant can lead to cell death and health complications including cardiovascular, inflammatory and neurodegenerative diseases, explains nature.com. The research team determined the presence of 10 chemicals within barley tea which were able to scavenge, or destroy, the peroxynitrite.

Anticoagulative Properties

Barley tea improves blood fluidity, according to the April 2002 issue of the “Journal of Nutritional Science and Vitaminology.” High blood viscosity can lead to impaired blood circulation and related health disorders. Japanese researchers working for the Kagome Company found that the fluidity of the blood increased directly in proportion with the presence of alkylpyrazine, a substance which gives flavor to their tea.

Roasted Barley Tea is available to purchase at SFMart.com

This article is originally posted on LIVESTRONG.COM

Top 10 Health Benefits of Brown Rice

Brown rice is better for you than white — most of us know that! It’s The majority of consumers typically choose white rice over brown rice because of the difference of appearance. While it’s true white rice looks so much more delicious than brown rice, it doesn’t mean it’s the healthier alternative. According to a study conducted by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, brown rice is the top choice in terms of both nutritional and other inherent healthy benefits. Let’s compare brown rice vs. white rice.

Tasty, Easy Brown Rice Recipes e-bookIf you’d like to make more use of brown rice, and want easy, tasty recipes right at your fingertips, consider our Tasty, Easy Brown Rice Recipes pdf e-book, part of our affordable e-book series. With 30 of our most popular recipes and 20 full-color photos, you can print out this concise guide or view it right on your computer.

Why Brown Rice? Before white rice went through the refining process, it at one time looked exactly like brown rice. Brown rice, unlike white rice, still has the side hull and bran. The side hulls and brans provide “natural wholeness” to the grain and are rich in proteins, thiamine, calcium, magnesium, fiber, and potassium. For those trying to lose weight or those suffering from diabetes, brown rice can prove a healthful staple given its low glycemic rating which helps reduce insulin spikes.

Unfortunately, all white rice packaging has a label that reads “enriched.” Since white rice has been stripped of iron, vitamins, zinc, magnesium and other nutrients during the refining process, manufacturers must add unnatural fortifications in the form of synthetic vitamins and iron so it can be marketed to the public as a “nutritious food.” Although white rice is fortified, it still doesn’t reach the minimum nutritional requirements for one serving of food as specified by the FDA. The healthy benefits of brown rice are listed below.

Thai pineapple stir-fried riceIf you’d like to find lots of easy, tasty ways to use brown rice, see our wide array of Brown Rice Recipes.

1. Rich in Selenium Brown rice is rich in selenium which reduces the risk for developing common illnesses such as cancer, heart disease and arthritis.

2. High in Manganese One cup of brown rice provides 80% of our daily manganese requirements. Manganese helps the body synthesize fats. Manganese also benefits our nervous and reproductive systems.

3. Rich in Naturally-Occurring Oils Naturally occurring oils are beneficial for the body as these healthful fats help normalize cholesterol levels.

4. Promotes Weight Loss The fiber content of brown rice keeps bowel function at it’s peak since it makes digestion that much easier. Brown rice is the perfect addition to the daily diet for those seeking bowel regularity. In addition, brown rice also makes the tummy feel full which translates to smaller meal portions.

5. Considered Whole Grain Brown rice is considered a whole grain since it hasn’t lost its “wholeness” through the refinement process. Wholes grains are proven to reduce the buildup of arterial plaque and reduce the risk of heart disease and high cholesterol.

Brown rice in a bowl6. Rich in Anti-Oxidants This is one of the best kept secrets regarding brown rice. We usually associate anti-oxidant rich foods with blueberries, strawberries and other fruits and vegetables. The antioxidant capacity of brown rice is right up there with these super stars.

7. High in Fiber Brown rice is high in fiber and on top of the list for foods that can help prevent colon cancer. This can be attributed to the high levels of fiber naturally contained in brown rice. These fibers attach to substances that cause cancer as well as to toxins in the body, thus eliminating them and keeping them from attaching to the colon wall.

8. A Slow-Release Sugar Brown rice helps stabilize blood sugar levels; therefore, it’s an excellent food choice for those suffering from diabetes. Studies show that those who consume one half cup of brown rice daily reduce their risks of developing diabetes by 60%. On the other hand, those who consume white rice regularly increase their chances of developing diabetes one hundred-fold.

9. Perfect Baby Food Brown rice cereal or brown rice itself is the perfect baby’s first food due to the dense natural nutrition and fiber it contains. This is a much better choice than refined white rice cereal products as rapidly growing babies and toddlers require nutrient rich diets to help maintain rapid growth cycles.

10. Candida Yeast Infections Brown rice is the perfect adjunct for candida yeast infection treatmentsgiven that high glycemic and otherwise sugary/starchy foods are prohibited during most candida treatment protocols. The natural digestibility of brown rice coupled with the high fiber content can help sensitive digestive systems heal from an overgrowth of candida organisms. Finally, brown rice is simply delicious and a fantastic staple for both vegetarian and vegan diets. Brown rice can be used as a white rice alternative in most vegetarian recipes and provides a full, rich and somewhat nutty flavor. Brown rice flour can be used for vegetarian pancakes, breads and other baked goods. All in all, brown rice is clearly the healthy choice.

Organic Black Beans is available to purchase at SFMart.com

This article is originally posted on VegKitchen

11 Delicious Ways to Eat Black Beans

You’ll almost never find our kitchens without a can or two of black beans stocked in the pantry. This versatile ingredient can be used in so many different ways. From soups and chilis to enchiladas and salads, the recipes are seemingly endless. We chose our 11 favorite black bean recipes to get you started with something new.

(Image credit: Michaela Cisney)

1. Chilled Black Bean, Feta & Cucumber Salad

This is one of those salads that actually gets better with more time spent in the fridge to let the dressing work its magic. We recommend making a big batch over the weekend and enjoying it for lunches all week.

(Image credit: Faith Durand)

2. Cuban Black Bean Soup

To make this soup the right way, use dried black beans and let them soak overnight. You’ll also want to give it ample time to cook on the stove, so really, it makes a better weekend recipe. Finally, don’t skimp on the vinegar — it’s what gives the soup that little extra kick.

(Image credit: Nick Evans)

3. Crunchy Black Bean Tacos

These pan-fried tacos are made with soft tortillas and are somewhere between a taco and a quesadilla. You can fill them with anything you want; they are a great way to use up a small amount of leftovers.

(Image credit: Megan Gordon)

4. Black Bean, Sweet Potato, and Quinoa Chili

While the options for vegetarian chili recipes are nearly endless, we’re partial to this one with sweet potatoes (or you could substitute butternut squash) and quinoa. Just remember — you might have to add a bit more water at the end since the quinoa will soak it up.

(Image credit: Emma Christensen)

5. Slow-Cooker Black Bean Enchiladas

Slow-cooker enchiladas are a bit magical. They might not be the prettiest meal on the block, but they are one of the tastiest. Plus, they are easily adaptable, so you can basically clean out your fridge and end up with a mouth-watering meal.

(Image credit: Emma Christensen)

6. Quick and Easy Black Bean Soup

The secret to the subtly smoky flavor of this black bean soup? The single piece of bacon it’s cooked with. It takes a quick weeknight staple to a whole new level.

(Image credit: Emily Han)

7. Kale and Black Bean Tacos with Chimichurri

No, chimichurri wasn’t originally intended for vegan tacos, but the garlicky sauce adds a whole new dimension to these tasty tacos. Of course, the big chunks of avocado and sautéed kale don’t hurt either.

(Image credit: Kimberley Hasselbrink)

8. Baked Black Bean and Avocado Burritos

Somewhere between a burrito and an enchilada, these avocado and black bean delights reside. You can play around with additional fillings, like sautéed peppers or greens; make sure you taste-test the filling to get the spices to your liking.

(Image credit: Joanna Miller)

9. Vegetarian Black Bean Espresso Chili

It can be hard to get that rich, meaty taste in a vegetarian chili, but the addition of instant espresso powder adds a depth that most vegetarian chilis lack. Try making this version, or adding a little espresso powder to your own favorite chili recipe to get the full effect.

(Image credit: Emma Christensen)

10. Southwestern Pizza with Black Beans and Corn

One of our favorite unexpected black bean recipes is this Southwestern pizza. In place of traditional red sauce is a black bean mash. The whole pizza gets topped with corn, peppers, and a healthy dollop of avocado cream.

(Image credit: Faith Durand)

11. Avocado Lime Black Beans

We call this the can-o’-beans lunch. It takes almost no time to make, and can be eaten for a couple days in a row for lunch. You can also dress it up with a few other freshly chopped veggies and make it into a delicious side dish.

Organic Black Beans is available to purchase at SFMart.com

This article is originally posted on The Kitchn

Taste Test: Shin Ramyun Instant Noodles

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[Photographs: J. Kenji Lopez-Alt]

As a kid, my sisters and I would spend our Saturdays expanding our minds, honing our hand eye coordination, and discovering the meanings of discipline, hard work, and lost childhood through the Tiger Mom-approved double-header of Japanese school and music school. It was a grueling eight hour schedule that left me with about an hours’ worth of free time in the middle of the day, during which I’d catch up on cartoons or football with my dad while making myself lunch. Sometimes this meant frozen chicken pot pies or pastrami sandwiches from the deli down the street. More often than not, this meant instant ramen.

I wasn’t a ramen prescriptivist, but my selection usually landed upon either Myojo Chukazanmai, a premium Japanese brand, or on Shin Ramyun, the Korean brand of instant noodles flavored with beef and chili. Its fierce heat and intense saltiness has earned it some rabid followers—it was the number one response when I asked people to name their favorite ramen brand over Twitter, and it’s one of the best selling non-Japanese brands around, available in over 80 countries.

For two and a half decades since its introduction in 1986, Shin Ramyun was available in only two forms: in a packet, and in a cook-in-the-container styrofoam cup. In 2011, they introduced Shin Black, the premium version of their traditional ramen.

We tasted all four options to see how they stacked up.

BLACK VS. STANDARD

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Straight out of the package, there’s a pretty clear difference between the Shin Black and the standard cup: the Black version contains one extra seasoning packet. Rather than the straight-up mix of beef extract, chili, and vegetables that you get in the standard, the Black comes with one packet of chili mix, and another which has a beef and anchovy soup base.

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The dehydrated vegetable packet in the Black is also larger and contains bigger chunks of mushrooms, scallions, and peppers. With the packet version of Black, the vegetable mix also includes slices of dehydrated beef. More on that in a moment.

OVERALL WINNERS: EITHER RAMYUN FROM A PACKET

While tasters were divided on how the broth and noodles in the standard Shin Ramyun compared to the premium Black version, there was one clear consensus: the ramyun that comes out of packets and gets cooked in a pot is superior to the cup-style. It makes perfect sense. With the former, you’re cooking the noodles at a fast boil; with the latter, you’re steeping them like tea.

The ingredient labels on the packets reflect a difference in formulation for the noodles as well, perhaps in order to compensate for this difference in cooking method.

Overall, tasters found the packet noodles to be bouncier and more like real noodles, though Max was the lone exception in enjoying the thinner, softer noodles in the standard Shin Cup (“If you’re not going to get great noodles anyway, you might as well get ones that are better at absorbing sauce,” was his reasoning).

The soup bases for the packet-based soups were also superior. It’s tough to decipher from the ingredients lists what made them better, but they were richer, fuller, and slightly more “natural” tasting. Soups from the cups were labeled as “harsh,” “aggressive,” and “artificial.” Not so bad that we wouldn’t eat them, mind you, but enough that taking the time to make the packet-based version is a no-brainer.

Interestingly, cost had virtually nothing to do with our preferences. When you buy the make-in-the-cup style ramyun, you pay double the cost for the convenience of not having to use a regular pot. Similarly, the Black versions of both the cup and packet soups cost twice as much as the standard. All told, people were pretty evenly split on naming the $.24/ounce standard Shin Ramyun Noodle Soup packets and the $.47/ounce Shin Ramyun Black Premium Noodle Soup packets as the winners.

Here are some more tasting details.

SHIN RAMYUN NOODLE SOUP PACKET ($.24/OUNCE)

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This is the classic flavor of my youth. Salty and spicy with a mild ocean aroma and bits of rehydrated shiitake mushroom and scallion floating in a thin but flavorful broth. The noodles are better than your average packet of ramen (I’d put them on par with our top-rated Sapporo Ichiban), but by no means mind-blowing. As Jamie put it, this is something “I’d want when I was sick.”

Max, on the other hand, says that he’d “like to dip [his] dosas in it.” I’m not quite sure what that means and I’m a little scared to find out.

SHIN RAMYUN BLACK PREMIUM NOODLE SOUP PACKET ($.47/OUNCE)

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The first thing you’ll notice when comparing the Black version to the standard is the larger chunks of vegetables. Real-sized slices of shiitake mushroom and slivers of hot chili peppers float around the opaque, mildly creamy broth. The front of the package shows thick slices of real beef. What we get instead are these little nubbins:

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Sort of like the bits you find at the bottom of a bag of beef jerky that you resort to eating when you’re at mile 169 of a road trip and the real food ran out a few miles past the last rest stop. We could’ve just as soon done without them.

The broth for the Black contains dehydrated beef stock and anchovies in addition to the “beef extract” and “beef fat” that flavors the standard version, creating a more subtle, balanced broth. It’s heartier, but also milder. If you’re looking for more of a salt and spice punch, the standard packet is the way to go.

SHIN CUP NOODLE SOUP ($.47/OUNCE)

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The overall loser, the Shin Cup had both the thinnest, harshest broth, as well as super-thin, soggy noodles that are very similar in texture to those you’d find in other cup brands like Nissin’s Cup Noodles. The dehydrated vegetables were also the smallest—little bits of scallion, hot pepper, and shiitake mushroom add a bit of interest, but not much. As far as instant soups go, we wouldn’t kick this one out of bed, but we wouldn’t feel the need to put on a new shirt before meeting it at a bar either. Even if we’d spilled some ramen on the old one.

SHIN CUP BLACK PREMIUM NOODLE SOUP ($.89/OUNCE)

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A big step up in noodle and broth quality from its less premium cousin. The label on the top of the box claims that the Shin Black Cup is “Spicy Pot-Au-Feu Flavor,” though an examination of the ingredients doesn’t reveal anything special as far as unique flavorings go. Like the Black packet version, the Black Cup has a creamier, milder broth with a more “real” flavor, though this guy doesn’t have the dehydrated beef chips you’ll find in the packet version. No big loss.

About the author: J. Kenji Lopez-Alt is the Chief Creative Officer of Serious Eats where he likes to explore the science of home cooking in his weekly column The Food Lab. You can follow him at@thefoodlab on Twitter, or at The Food Lab on Facebook.

Shin Ramyun Noodle is available to purchase at SFMart.com

This article is originally posted on Serious Eats

Health Benefits of Black Sesame Seeds

Health Benefits of Black Sesame Seeds

Overview

Sesame seeds are so nutritious that you might not want to wait until your next visit to the bakery to eat the few that top your bagel. Sesame seeds are an excellent source of many essential minerals as well as a very good source of vitamin B1 (thiamin) and dietary fiber. The nutrients found in sesame seeds may contribute to cardiovascular health, reduce inflammation, support respiratory health, protect against colon cancer and osteoporosis as well as other conditions. Depending upon the variety, sesame seeds come in many different colors, including white, yellow, black and red.

Many Major Minerals

Black sesame seeds are an excellent source of magnesium and calcium. A 1/4 cup serving of provides 126 mg of magnesium, or 32 percent of the Recommended Daily Value (DV), and 351 mg of calcium (35 percent of the DV). That’s slightly more than you find in a cup of milk, however, the calcium is located in the hull of the seeds, so hulled versions offer much less calcium.

Magnesium and calcium are important essential minerals that help regulate blood pressure, reduce the likelihood of developing tension and migraine headaches (triggered by blood vessel spasms), reduce the occurrence of airway spasms in asthmatics and regulate sleep patterns, especially in women suffering from menopause-induced sleep disturbances.

Essential Trace Minerals

A 1/4 cup serving of black sesame seeds provides almost 1.5 milligrams (mg), or 74 percent of the DV, for the trace mineral copper, and 2.8 mg (about 19 percent of the DV) for zinc. These minerals are needed in very small quantities, but are essential for human health. Copper plays a role in the anti-inflammatory process which is beneficial for reducing some of the swelling and pain characteristic of inflammatory diseases. Copper also is needed to activate an enzyme necessary for building collagen and elastin, which provide structure and elasticity to bones and joints.

Low dietary intakes of the trace mineral zinc (low circulating levels in the bloodstream) is associated with a depressed immune system as well as loss of bone and decreased bone density of the hip and spine. Consuming zinc-rich foods, such as black sesame seeds, reduces the risk of suffering from bone fractures caused by reduced bone density (common among the elderly) or osteoporosis. Optimal zinc intake may reduce the frequency and length of the common cold because it keeps the immune system healthy.

Tiny Cholesterol Fighters

Black sesame seeds help lower serum cholesterol levels (which contributes to cardiovascular health) in several ways. They contain two unique substances known as sesamin and sesamolin. These substances belong to a group of fibers called lignans (flaxseeds are another rich source of lignans). Lignans are rich in dietary fiber and have a cholesterol-lowering effect.

Black sesame seeds are rich in phytosterols. Phytosterols are plant compounds very similar in structure (chemical) to cholesterol. Consuming more dietary phytosterols not only decreases blood cholesterol levels but reduces the risk of developing certain types of cancer. Sesame seeds offer the highest phytosterol content (400 to 413 mg per 100 grams or 3.5 ounces) of all nuts and seeds.

Organic Black Sesame Seeds is available to purchase at SFMart.com

This article is originally posted on LIVESTRONG.COM