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Knock out Father Time With Turmeric Tea

Home Brewed Turmeric Tea 

Home Brewed Turmeric Tea 

Maybe you're at a true place of peace with aging gracefully. Or, perhaps you're like me and you already have your boxing gloves on, in the ring with Father Time and fully prepared to knock him out cold. While exercise- and more specifically, strength training- is one of the very best ways to cheat the clock- what you put inside of your body makes a massive difference as well.

Turmeric, a common medicinal "super spice" used in traditional Asian medicine for over four thousand years, is a fantastic natural anti-aging and anti-inflammatory agent due to the natural phenol curcumin, which gives turmeric its beautiful yellow hue. 

A recent review issued by the Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University concluded that due to "its demonstrated chemopreventive and therapeutic potential, curcumin, the bioactive extract of turmeric, promises a great future in human clinical studies designed to prevent and/or delay age-related diseases." Three other studies made similar conclusions, and also found that turmeric was shown to be a preventative in post-menopausal breast cancer. 

In Okinawa, Japan, large amounts of turmeric tea are consumed, and it's no wonder that Okinawa is also known to have the most long-lived people in the world! 

Needless to say, I've been adding turmeric to my daily diet. Alzheimer's disease and arthritis both run in my family and turmeric is shown to help prevent or slow both. Being in my mid-thirties, I have the (mis)fortune of battling acne spots and wrinkles simultaneously and, guess what? Turmeric decreases fine lines and wrinkles while acting as an antiseptic. 

Try this simple recipe for turmeric root tea, which I'm sipping as I type this: 

Ingredients:
1/4 cup fresh grated turmeric root
2 tbsp. of fresh grated ginger
4 cups of water
lemon and honey to taste

Directions:
Finely grate the turmeric root and ginger root, and add to 4 cups of water in a pot on the stove. Bring to a boil and strain. Add lemon and honey to taste.

Sip slowly and enjoy! Do you have a natural anti-aging remedy that's working for you? If so, share it in the comments section!

If you missed my post on weightlifting as the Fountain of Youth, you can check it out here: http://tangramfitness.com/blog/2014/1/6/seeking-the-fountain-of-youth-head-to-the-weight-room

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Paleo Christmas Treats: Blondies and Macaroons!

paleo blondies.jpg

With the Christmas holiday approaching, sweet treats are inescapable, pestering us from every shop window, party tray, and restaurant. Even if you locked yourself in your home, your soclal media feeds can be counted on to showcase friends gorging on Peppermint Mochas and Cranberry Bliss Bars at their local Starbucks (providing them with well over 100% of their daily value of saturated fat in one go, but I digress...)

That said, just because something is chocolatey, gooey, and divinely delicious doesn't necessarily mean that it's evil. Instead of bringing over a fruitcake or pecan pie to your next family gathering or soiree, why not whip up something a little more health-conscious? With these recipes for Paleo Macaroons and Blondies, no one will even notice the difference. 

Paleo, otherwise known as the "caveman diet," is an approach to eating as nature originally attended- free of grains, legumes, dairy and processed foods. Paleo has been widely adopted not only by athletes, but by the millions living with autoimmune disorders, inflammatory diseases and allergies. I've been eating "clean" for quite a long time (no processed foods), and I decided to take it one step further and adopt the Paleo lifestyle two months ago to support my bodybuilding goals and healing from endometriosis. So far, I've noticed that my energy levels have skyrocketed and I don't fatigue so easily at the gym. 

Paleo Blondies (Vegan and Gluten-free)

Blondies ready for the oven.

Blondies ready for the oven.

Ingredients:
4 large ripened bananas
2/3 cup of tahini
2/3 cup maple syrup (the real stuff!) 
1/3 cup of almond butter
2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 tsp. baking powder 
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/3 cup dark chocolate, finely chopped

Instructions:
1. Preheat oven to 175 celsius. Line a small baking pan with parchment paper.
2. Mix all of the ingredients except for the dark chocolate in a food processor, until smooth.
3. Pour batter into the lined pan and smooth out the top with a spatula. Sprinkle the finely chopped dark chocolate on the top. 
4. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes or until golden brown. Set to cool for 1 hour and cut into small squares.

Makes approx. 25 small squares
 



 


Chocolate Peppermint Macaroons (Paleo, Grain-Free)

Ingredients:
3 cups shredded coconut 
1/2 cup cacao powder
1/2 cup honey
1/3 cup coconut cream
1/3 cup water
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract 
1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
1 egg white
1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Instructions:
1. Preheat oven to 160 celsius. 
2. Combine all ingredients in a bowl except for the egg white.
3. Beat the egg white with an electric mixer, until peaks form.
4. Fold the egg white into the rest of ingredients and mix well. 
5. Scoop out small balls of dough with a spoon or your hand and pack them together until firm.
6. Place the dough balls onto a large cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and bake for 30 minutes. 
7. Cool for an hour on a wire rack.
8. Optional- dip the bottoms of each ball into melted hot chocolate. 

Makes approximately 18 macaroons 

*Chocolate Peppermint Macaroons recipe adapted from Against All Grain.*

Enjoy, and if you're interested in learning more about Paleo, leave a note below or email me and I'll include more information about it on the blog!
 

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Super Simple Turbo-Charged Bliss Balls

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It's that time of year again when holiday parties abound, replete with an endless array of sickly sweet, processed treats that nearly guarantee swelling bellies and wider waists (not to mention killer refined sugar hangovers). Over the next few weeks, I'll be posting some recipes for healthy, tasty and easy alternatives to indulge in while still staying on track with your fitness and nutrition goals. First up is the "Super Simple Turbo-Charged Bliss Ball"- scrumptious bites of goodness that pack a high-energy punch and require less than twenty minutes in the kitchen! 

Ingredients:
1 cup Medjool Dates with pits removed (you can buy these at most Cold Storage and Giant stores)
1 cup almonds, walnuts or Brazil nuts
1/3 cup cacao or cocoa powder
1/3 cup coconut oil
1/2 cup fresh frozen shredded coconut (many of the veggie markets in Little India carry this in their refrigerators)
2 tablespoons green superfood powder (I use and swear by Vitamineral Green, which I purchase from Balanced Living. It's pricey, but still far less than a daily Starbucks latte).
1 1/2 tablespoons chia seeds (many health food stores in Singapore carry them)

Directions:
- Soak the Medjool dates in warm water for 10 minutes to soften
- Mix nuts, cacao powder, coconut oil, green superfood powder, shredded coconut and chia seeds in a blender or food processor until smooth.
- Add the Medjool dates to the mix and blend. You can add a bit more coconut oil if your mix is dry.
- Roll the mixture in your hands, shaping small balls
- Sprinkle fresh shredded coconut over each ball. Alternatively, you can dust them with green superfood powder.
- Stick in the fridge for 20 minutes and serve.

This recipe makes 25-30 Bliss Balls. They store well in the freezer, are easily transportable, and irresistible! 

Health benefits:
Medjool dates are high in carbohydrate glucose and fructose for energy, as well as dietary fiber, which can relieve constipation and aid digestion. They also contain carotenoid and phenolic antioxidants, which are known to boost the immune system, stave off disease and improve cardiovascular health.

Nuts have been shown to reduce cancer, heart disease and other chronic disease. Almonds are high in Vitamin E, which will help keep your skin looking its best.
Brazil nuts contain selenium to boost your immune system and heal wounds quickly. Walnuts are rich in omega-3 fatty acids to lower blood pressure and triglyceride levels.

Cacao is known to reduce cholesterol in the blood, lower blood pressure and improve your mood. Cacao is chock full of antioxidants to slow down the aging process caused by free radicals. It's also a good source of sulfur for lustrous hair and strong nails.

Coconut is truly a wonder food with incredible health benefits, including blood sugar stabilization, healing wounds, and lowering cholesterol. Coconut is also known to increase metabolism due to its medium chain fatty acid content.

Chia Seeds are an excellent source of omega 3 fats and are popular for their ability to increase energy levels (many distance runners swear by them). If you're aiming to lose weight, turn to the chia seed- it will help keep you feeling full. 

Green Superfood Powders are power-packed with high potency nutrients, including antioxidants, minerals and enzymes. I drink Vitamineral Green each morning instead of coffee for an amazing energy boost- it also makes my skin look brighter (no, they don't pay me to write that. I really swear by the product). 

Makan Makan!

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Mussels for Muscles: My Top Pick for a Healthy (and Eco-Friendly) Meal

Mussels for Muscles! 

Mussels for Muscles! 

It’s been about three years since I last ate chicken. I distinctly remember my final bite, at Five Star Hainanese Chicken Rice in Katong, just a few days before I’d peeled open Jonathan Safran Foer’s “Eating Animals” on an intercontinental flight. I don’t want to ruin your dinner, so I’ll just say that his descriptions of factory farming and antibiotic use in poultry were enough for me to bid farewell—yet again— to the bird. This is a particularly unfortunate breakup for any athlete, since chicken is one of the best sources of cheap and convenient protein around.

Enter the Mussel. Mussels are a type of elongated, dark shelled clam inhabiting both freshwater and saltwater, with fairly diverse characteristics in appearance and taste. Their flavor reminds me of floating lazily in the ocean on a breezy day- salty and earthy at the same time. Mussels have been eaten for thousands of years, and were first commercially cultured in the 12th century in France on ropes suspended from buoys. This method—longline farming—has remained largely the same over hundreds of years. Many of the pre-packaged mussels available regionally hail from New Zealand, Australia and China, but there are also Asian Green Lipped Mussel farms much closer to home, in the Straits of Johor.

Due to its nutritional profile, affordability, sustainability and versatility, mussels are hard to beat. A one cup serving of mussels cooked in moist heat contains approximately 130 calories and a whopping 18 grams of protein. Mussels are high in selenium, a trace mineral that plays a critical role in antioxidant metabolism by supporting the enzyme, GPX, which removes hydrogen peroxide from the body and prevents damage to RNA and DNA. Mussels also contain high levels of two long chain fatty acids, EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), Omega 3 fats that are vital for healthy brain, eye, joint, skin and cardiovascular function. Their zinc content will help keep cold viruses at bay, and they have more vitamin A and iron than their crustacean counterparts, as well as being a rich source of vitamins B12 and E.

Mussels are one of the most sustainable food options today, and actually assist the environment by keeping our waters clean. Some scientists are even proposing that mussel farming may be a way of cleansing coastal waters from pollutants like sewage and fertilizers. One thing mussels won’t clean out is your wallet. A hearty mussels dinner at home for two can cost as little as $4 (crazy, considering how much Belgian restaurants charge in Singapore for a small pot of mussels)! Preparation and cooking time are stress-free; just pull off any “beards” from the shell and, if you’re so inclined, give them a bit of a scrub in the sink before steaming them with your favorite broth and aromatics. The creative options are endless! A white wine base is all the rage these days, but if you prefer to go alcohol-free, you can use fish stock, lemon water, or apple cider vinegar instead. Here’s a delicious, no-frills recipe for a muscle-boosting dinner in minutes:

Easy Breezy Mussels for Muscles:

3 pounds fresh mussels
5 Tbsp olive oil
3 cloves of garlic, finely sliced
4 small shallots, minced
3 sprigs of thyme
½ cup parsley
½ cup dry white wine or apple cider vinegar
Juice of 1 lemon
Freshly ground pepper, to taste

In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add shallots and sauté until softened, about 8 to 10 minutes. Add thyme and garlic, as well as dry white wine or apple cider vinegar and boil for a minute. Add the mussels, lemon and most of the parsley. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes, until mussels have opened. Sprinkle the remaining parsley and pepper and serve the mussel in bowls with broth. Serves 2-3 hungry people. Voilà!

Enjoy! Have a favorite mussels recipe or sustainable protein option? Jot down your thoughts in the comment section! 

 

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© Tangram Fitness 2013