- 1 pound white baking chocolate
- 1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
- 3 cups confectioners’ sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon McCormick® pure vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon McCormick® Pure almond extract
- 1/8 teaspoon McCormick® green food color
- 1/2 cup chopped pistachios
- Additional pistachios for garnish, if desired
How to make it
- Line an 8-inch square pan with foil, allowing foil to extend over sides of pan.
- Spray with no stick cooking spray.
- Melt chocolate as directed on package.
- Beat cream cheese in large bowl with electric mixer until smooth. Gradually beat in sugar on low speed until well blended.
- Add melted chocolate, extracts and food color; mix well.
- Stir in chopped pistachios.
- Spread evenly in prepared pan.
- Garnish with additional pistachios, if desired.
- Refrigerate at least 1 hour or until firm.
- Use foil to lift out of pan onto cutting board.
- Cut into 25 (1 1/2-inch) squares.
- Store in refrigerator.
- Substitute: One bag (12 ounces) white chocolate chips can be substituted for the white chocolate squares.
Who doesn’t want to become smarter? Who wants to look better or feel healthier? Many recent studies have shown how certain nutrients can positively affect the brain, specifically in areas of the brain related to cognitive processing or feelings and emotions. Generally speaking, you want to follow a healthy diet for your brain that will lead to strong blood flow, maintenance of mental sharpness and reduce the risk of heart disease and neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and dementia.
We know that foods play a great role in our brain, as concluded in several studies led by a phenomenal neuroscientist at UCLA, Gomez Pinilla.
According to one study, the super fats your brain needs most are omega-3 fatty acids. Your brain converts them into DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) which enhances neuronal communication and promotes neuronal growth.
Food and nutrients represent fuel to our bodies the same way that when we use our car we need to fill the gas tank. Unfortunately, we generally take better care of our cars than our bodies. Why is that? We are hearing frequently that consuming the right nutrients can help our health, aging process, and more efficient brain-body functioning.
With that said, I want to share with you ten foods you must keep in your diet to maintain brain health:
1. Apples: Eating an apple a day protects the brain from oxidative damage that causes neurodegenerative diseases such Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. This magical nutrient that acts as protection is quercetin, which is a phytonutrient.
2. Asparagus: Asparagus is rich in folic acid, which is essential for the metabolism of the long chain fatty acids in your brain.
3. Lean Beef: Lean beef is rich in vitamin B12, iron and zinc. These vitamins and minerals have been shown to maintain a healthy neural tissue.
4. Blueberries and strawberries: Studies show that people who eat berries improve their memory and their motor skills. In addition, their antioxidant properties can protect your brain from the oxidative process.
5. Dark chocolate: Dark chocolate offers incredible concentration powers. It is a very powerful antioxidant containing natural stimulants that increase the production of feel-good endorphins. Trick: you need to find dark chocolate with less than 10 grams of sugar per serving for optimal benefits.
6. Salmon: Salmon contains omega-3 fatty acids, which studies have shown to be essential for brain function.
7. Dried oregano: Certain spices have powerful antioxidant properties. In several studies, this powerful spice has shown to have 40 times more antioxidant properties than apples, 30 times more than potatoes, 12 times more than oranges, and 4 times more than that of blueberries or strawberries.
8. Walnuts: Walnuts are rich in protein and contain omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins E and B6 which all promote healthy neural tissue.
9. Whole grains: Whole grains deliver fiber and vitamin E that help promote cardiovascular health, which helps improve the circulation to the brain.
10. Yogurt: Yogurt and other dairy foods are filled with protein and vitamin B that are essential to improve the communication between nerve cells.
Cinnamon: its lovely scent not only suffuses your home, but also lingers on to make you smell good!
Citrus fruit: split open a ripe orange, and you’re greeted with an instant burst of refreshing fragrance, and a light spray of juice. Eat the orange, and you’ll feel your mouth feel fresh, too. What’s more, citrus fruit is more readily absorbed by the body, so you give off a pleasant scent.
Cardamom: the sweet, spicy seeds of green cardamom are a favorite ingredient in mouth fresheners. I never buy commercial packets, preferring instead to simply split open a pod and pop the seeds in my mouth. For a long time after, the mouth feels fresh. Besides, cardamom is a powerful healing spice that boosts immunity.
Fenugreek seeds: they are a wonderful aid to smelling good. They are also excellent for strengthening bone health. Soak them overnight in clean water, and munch on them in the morning. At first, they taste slightly bitter, but as you chew, the flavor sweetens and feels wonderful in your mouth.
Milk: tone down the strong odor of garlic by adding milk to your menu. Low-fat or whole fat, either version of milk improves the way you smell.
Jasmine tea: if you’ve been in a lift with someone who has just had coffee, you know what that smells like. A cup of pleasant, floral jasmine tea, on the other hand, leaves you smelling good. If you drink herbal tea often, your digestive system works better, which in turn helps your body smell good.
In general, avoid red meat, which are proven to cause unpleasant body odor. A plant-based diet consisting of fresh produce, whole grains, sprouts, nuts and seeds cleanses you from within and keeps you smelling fresh.
by Jan Cho
Back in 2011, USDA Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan apologized for a loophole in the organic standards, which, according to the Cornucopia Institute, “led to the indiscriminate and illegal addition of synthetic nutrients to organic foods.” The USDA thereby proposed to close the loophole in January 2012, a move that at first garnered support from both the organic community and corporate food manufacturers who own organic brands.
In a series of meetings earlier this year, however, the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) rejected corporate petitions for eight synthetic nutrients. This was not at all the decision that food manufacturers had expected, since, as the Cornucopia Institute reports, “in the past, the NOSB has all too often sided with corporate lobbyists in a desire to ‘grow’ the organic market.”
Rather than concede defeat and abide by the NOSB’s decision on the eight nutrients, food manufacturers have simply disregarded it. Moreover, at their urging, the USDA may now leave the loophole intact, as it were, allowing the indiscriminate addition of unapproved synthetic nutrients to organic foods to continue. The USDA is seeking public comment on this policy through December 26, 2012.
The addition of synthetic nutrients to organic foods is a legal as well as a philosophical issue. Simply stated, food manufacturers are breaking the law by incorporating them into organic foods. As explained by the Cornucopia Institute, “the law prohibits the use of a petitioned synthetic material if it is found to be non-essential to producing organic foods, or to endanger human health or harm the environment, or if natural or organic alternatives exist.” It’s in accordance with these criteria that the NOSB voted against the use of the synthetic nutrients in question. While the USDA cannot override the NOSB’s decision, it has elected to ignore it by declining to close the loophole in organic standards.
What’s wrong with synthetic nutrients?
In addition to the legal issue, there is a philosophical issue to consider here. “One of the founding principles of the organic movement is the reliance on natural processes for healthy food production,” reads the position paper issued by the Cornucopia Institute. So vitamins and minerals in organic foods should be obtained by natural processes, from natural sources. Synthetic nutrients, however, are industrial substances manufactured in laboratories and factories, often using hazardous petrochemical solvents, and contain additives like artificial coloring, coal tar derivatives and preservatives. In other words, it’s everything organic consumers are trying to avoid by choosing organic foods. Food companies use synthetics because they’re cheaper and easier to come by.
Synthetic nutrients have no place in organic foods, yet many organic consumers don’t realize that they’re already in there. As one survey of 1,500 organic consumers showed, the vast majority (95.1 percent) of them either assume that the nutrients in organic foods are derived from natural sources or don’t know whether they are or not. The survey also showed that a majority (60.8 percent) would not buy foods containing a synthetic nutrient, and 30.3 percent would be “less inclined” to buy them.
To be frank, the whole business of adding nutrients to foods at all (but for a few exceptions like infant formulas) is one that I’m pretty skeptical about. The bottom line is that foods are fortified today because that’s what drives sales. The only reason for adding Vitamin C, 20% more calcium and 5 grams of fiber to products is because consumers are more likely to buy them. It’s a marketing gimmick, not a public health measure. In today’s land of plenty and variety, most of us can easily get everything we need from foods found in and provided by nature — unfortified, unsupplemented, straightforward food. The trouble is, we have lost our way over the years and no longer know how to prepare these foods to our best advantage and incorporate them into a wholesome, balanced diet.
As Barbara Kingsolver argues in “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life,” what Americans could really use is a robust food culture. “We have yet to come up with a strong set of generalized norms, passed down through families, for savoring and sensibly consuming what our land and climate give us,” she writes. “We have, instead, a string of fad diets convulsing bookstores and bellies, one after another, at the scale of the national bestseller.”
These are fad diets that spin the latest research on nutrients and other discoveries into marketable schemes. I’d like to see us move past this unproductive cycle. I’d like to see us getting to know real food and using the wisdom of that experience to rebuild a food culture, take pleasure in our food and enjoy good health to boot.
Dip them in caramels melted with a little cream, then dip them in finely chopped, salted peanuts. So addicting. Like little tiny caramel apples….but better.
Cute!- chocolate cake mix and green icing (not sure what to use for the pots)
Or for a garden party!