Cilantro Macadamia Pesto

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A heavy metals screening revealed that I have high concentrations of mercury, lead and a few other unwelcome metals hanging around messing with my mojo. Not fabulous news, but a good reason to seek out foods to support my detox protocol and help my bod get rid of all that nasty crud. There are many foods high in certain vitamins, minerals and chlorophyll that can help rid the body of toxic metals. Luckily I love most of these, namely cilantro, dark leafy greens, berries, cucumber and asparagus, so I'm taking this as an opportunity to enjoy these delicious foods as often as possible!

Cilantro is particularly helpful in elimination of heavy metals and it happens to be one of my favorite herbs. When thinking of ways to get the most bang for my cilantro buck, pesto immediately came to mind. Pesto is one of my favorite sauces because of its rich flavor and versatility. This is my dairy-free variation on a traditional pesto which uses basil, garlic, pine nuts and parmigiano-regiano or pecorino.

I hope you'll enjoy this rich, refreshing, detoxifying, vegan pesto sauce! I shared this recipe on New Day NW's Wellness Wednesday as a dip for raw veggies or gluten-free crackers. It's also delicious on grilled wild fish, organic free-range chicken, or a burger (especially tasty on veggie burgers). This stuff is addictive! My husband calls it "the crack", so consider yourself warned ;-). Bon apetit! 

Ingredients:

Makes about 1/2 cup

  • 1 cup packed fresh organic cilantro leaves (about 1 bunch)
  • 1/3 cup organic extra virgin olive oil
  • 2-3 garlic cloves
  • 1/4 cup macadamia nuts, roasted
  • 1/4 tsp Himalayan salt (add more or less to taste)
  • 1/8 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 lime, juiced (add to taste 1 tsp at a time)

Preparation:

  1. Combine the cilantro, garlic, and macadamia nuts in a food processor and pulse until finely chopped.
  2. Add the olive oil and blend until smooth.

  3. Add the lime juice 1 tsp at a time, tasting as you go until you reach the

    desired tartness. I usually use 2-3 tsp.

  4. Refrigerate in a glass container and allow to warm to room temp before serving. 

Enjoy!

Date Paste: Ancient Natural Sweetener

A modern day favorite, dates have been a sweet treat for more than 5,000 years. The Medjool date made its way from Mesopotamia and was introduced into the U.S. in the 1920's when 11 roots were quarantined in Nevada for seven years. Nine plants survived, and were grown in Southern California in 1935. Medjool dates are most often found dried, but they can be picked and eaten fresh as well.

In addition to their natural sugars (66 g per 100g / 3.5 oz. serving), dates contain vitamins A and K, as well as many of the B vitamins. The minerals copper, selenium, magnesium and manganese contribute to their preventive health benefits. Just one serving provides seven grams of dietary fiber, which supports healthy gut function. Eating dates in moderation can protect cells from damage caused by free radicals, and that's good for the whole body, but keep in mind that they are still high in sugar and should be used sparingly.

Date paste can be used in baking, as a spread on your favorite cracker, and in chutneys and other recipes. You can also put your own spin on this recipe by adding spices such as cinnamon, cacao or cardamom. Experiment and see what sweet bliss you can create!

Equipment:

  • 1/2 litre Mason jar (or similar glass jar)
  • Food processor

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb (450 grams) standard pitted or Medjool dates
  • About 3/4 cup water
  • Pinch of Himalayan Salt or Sea Salt
  • Splash of Pure Organic Vanilla Extract

Directions:

  1. Tightly pack the pitted dates in a Mason type glass jar. You should be able to cram about 450g in a half liter jar.
  2. Pour water over the dates until the jar is really full. Add water if needed to cover dates.
  3. Cover the jar. Soak dates overnight, at least 12 hours.
  4. After soaking, transfer the entire content of the jar, including the water, to the bowl of your food processor. The mixture should look chunky and gooey.
  5. Add vanilla and pinch of salt.
  6. Process dates on high speed for about 5-8 minutes, or until smooth and creamy. The longer you process, the smoother and creamier your paste will be. After 3 to 4 minutes, you will have obtained a paste, but it will still be somewhat grainy. Run the processor for a bit longer.
  7. After the desired consistency has been obtained, transfer your date paste back to your Mason jar. Place it in the fridge. Paste will darken after a few days. Keeps 3-4 months.

Heart Healthy Red Pepper Hummus

The garbanzo beans and olive oil in this recipe both help with blood fat regulation, including lowering levels of LDL-cholesterol (bad cholesterol), total cholesterol, and triglycerides. The red pepper is rich in lycopene and vitamins A and C, all of which are fabulous for heart health.

Ingredients:

1 can organic garbanzo beans (chickpeas)

1/2 organic red bell pepper

1/3 cup organic tahini (usually found in the nut butter aisle)

2 Tbsp organic extra virgin olive oil

2-3 cloves organic garlic, peeled and minced

Juice of 1 medium OR 2 small organic lemons 

1 tsp ground cumin

1/2 tsp ground coriander

Himalayan or sea salt to taste

Directions: 

Puree all ingredients in food until smooth and creamy.

Enjoy with a rainbow of fresh organic veggies: 
carrots, celery, radishes, squash, zucchini, string beans, bell peppers, cucumber, broccoli, cauliflower, tomatoes, etc.

Brazil Nut Butter

Growing on trees that reach up to 160 feet tall, these delicious and highly nutritious nuts are high in mono- and polyunsaturated fats, magnesium, phosphorous, potassium, and selenium. In fact, Brazil nuts are the highest natural source of selenium (543 mcg in 1 oz.). 

A potent micronutrient, scientific evidence to date suggests that selenium might play a role in the prevention or treatment of heart disease, cognitive decline, liver disease, some types of cancer, and thyroid disease. Selenium concentrations are highest in the thyroid gland, and it has a vital role in the functioning of the gland. Just two Brazil nuts a day make it easy for most people to meet their daily selenium requirement.

Don’t go overboard on Brazil nuts—too much selenium in the diet can cause brittle nails, alopecia, rash, upset stomach, and fatigue. The Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences advises a maximum limit of 45 mcg of selenium for kids and 400 mcg for adults daily. The best way to enjoy Brazil nuts is to combine a few with other types of nuts, seeds, and raisins. Sprinkle on salad, yogurt, or blend into a smoothie.

Making freshly ground nut butters at home gives you the opportunity to enjoy these nutritious spreads without the added sugar or preservatives often found in store-bought varieties.

Note: There is a 2 to 1 ratio of nuts to nut butter. To make 1 cup of nut butter, start with 2 cups of shelled nuts. 

 Ingredients:

  • 2 cups organic raw Brazil nuts

Optional flavor add-ins (opt for organic or locally sourced):

  • Sea salt or pink Himalayan salt, finely ground to taste
  • Organic stevia, raw honey or maple syrup to taste
  • 1 tsp Organic vanilla or almond extract
  • 1 Tbsp Organic cacao powder (for a smooth nut butter) or cacao nibs (for a chunkier nut butter)

Optional Prep:

(a) To make the nuts more digestible, soak and dehydrate the nuts to extract phytic acids (compounds that bind minerals). Before grinding, soak nuts in water and cover for 8-12 hours. Dehydrate about 10 hours.

(b) To add a distinctive, warm flavor, toast the nuts before grinding. Toast nuts on a dry baking sheet at 400°F until nuts are fragrant and lightly browned, 5 to 10 minutes. Watch closely; nuts burn easily. Make sure the nuts are cool to the touch before grinding.

Directions:

Place nuts into a food processor and start blending, leaving out the optional flavor add-ins. Blend for 11-12 minutes. You may need to grind at various speeds or intervals until you reach the consistency that meets your taste preferences. The nuts will go through several stages and you’ll need to keep pressing the contents into the center of the blender as you go through the process. The nuts will crumble, clump, ball, redistribute, and then finally … the oils will release, and you’ll have a nice spread.

Mix in your choice of flavor add-ins by hand. Nut butter keeps in the refrigerator for about a month.

Resources

Anton Health and Nutrition. “Homemade Nut Butter.”

Radiant Life Company. “That’s Nuts! A Complete Guide to Soaking Nuts and Seeds.”

National Institutes of Health. “Selenium: Dietary Supplement Fact Sheet.” Accessed May 2015. 

National Institutes of Health. “Selenium: Fact Sheet for Consumers.” Accessed May 2015.  

Nutrition and You. “Brazil Nuts Nutrition Facts.” Accessed May 2015.