Holiday health–dark chocolate, pumpkin seeds, and cranberries!

If you haven’t heard by now, dark chocolate contains antioxidants, which help to fight and prevent damage to your health.  Unfortunately, refined sugar is one of the foods that promotes this damage and is usually genetically-modified, so buy chocolate made with organic sugar, containing at least 60% cacao.

Pumpkin seeds are a popular folk medicine in Bulgaria, Turkey, and the Ukraine.  One controlled study found that certain amino acids present in these seeds reduced the major symptoms of enlarged prostate.  A daily handful of pumpkin seeds can also boost your intake of the mineral zinc, needed for a healthy immune system. Try this simple candy recipe:

Melt 16 ounces of bittersweet chocolate or chocolate chips (at least 60% cacao) over low heat, stirring constantly (do not boil).  Remove from heat and stir in 1 cup of raw pumpkin seeds (pepitos).  Spread chocolate onto parchment paper about 1/4-inch thick.  Sprinkle with 1/2 to 1 teaspoon sea salt (optional).  When cool and hardened, break into pieces.

Cranberries contain compounds that block infectious bacteria like E. coli from clinging to bladder and urinary tract cells, allowing them to be washed away by drinking plenty of water, before they can start an infection.  Add some unsweetened cranberry juice to your holiday wassail recipe, or add some unsweetened dried cranberries to your salads, quinoa, or pumpkin bread. When a recipe calls for raisins, substitute all or part with cranberries.  Try adding cranberries and walnuts to the above candy recipe!

Healthy holidays!

Lisa Hernandez, Certified Nutritionist

1 Corinthians 10:31–“Whatever you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for God’s glory!”


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