This Valentine's week I have participated in Gluten-Free and Heart-Healthy 2013—an event spearheaded by Cara's Cravings in support of American Heart Month (thank you to Cara for wrangling us all together!). It's been a week of heart-healthy eating inspiration. If you missed any of it, you can catch up with all the contributors here:
All Day I Dream About Food with Maple Glazed Salmon Salad
A couple of years back my husband and I discovered the book Eat Right for Life: How Healthy Foods Can Keep You Living Longer, Stronger and Disease-Free by Dr. Raymond A. Schep and Nicole Kellar-Munoz. It is a fantastic book and a highly recommended read. Schep and Kellar-Munoz's list of the "100 Best Foods for Curing Disease and Maintaining a Healthy Mind and Body" is spot on. I have a copy of it taped to the fridge to inspire me to add more of those foods into our everyday meals!
A handful of the heart-healthy all-stars on this list have found their way into the Onion & Sun-Dried Tomato Almond Crackers recipe I am sharing today. They are:
SESAME SEEDS: In Eat Right for Life, the authors offer a lengthy discussion on copper—a critical necessity for heart health. Just under two ounces of sesame seeds will supply your daily requirement of copper. They have a very high phytosterol content which works to enhance the immune response and in doing so decrease cancer and disease.
ALMONDS: A Harvard Nurses' Healthy Study showed that women who consumed more than five ounces of nuts a week lowered their risk of heart disease by 35%, compared to women who rarely ate nuts. Almonds contain significant stores of antioxidants, as well as fiber, arginine—a protein that keeps arteries elastic—and more of those phytosterols to help lower harmful LDL cholesterol levels while maintaining beneficial HDL levels. And like sesame seeds, almonds are excellent sources of copper and manganese. Almonds are best enjoyed raw, and preferably organic which have not been irradiated. Roasting destroys the nut's delicate vitamin E content.
CHIA SEED: Omega-6 fatty acids are abundant in the modern diet (in meats, soy and plant-based oils). Omega-3s not so much. We need both, however we need to be consuming them in a 1:3 ratio. Excessive levels of omega-6 fatty acids, relative to omega-3 fatty acids have shown to increase the probability of a number of diseases. These missing omega-3s in our diet are necessary to prevent inflammation in joints and arteries and chia seed is an excellent source—a super food really—of omega-3s. And arthritis sufferers get this, the authors of Eat Right for Life suggest that a heaping tablespoon a day of chia seed provides enough alpha linolenic acid (ALA) to cure arthritis and even prevent it! And to top it off, chia seed packs an astounding amount of protein and is extremely high in fiber. Here's a popular post I wrote on chia.
Onion & Sun-Dried Tomato Almond Dehydrator Crackers
Gluten-Free | Casein-Free | Citrus-Free | Corn-Free | Dairy-Free | Egg-Free | Fish-Free | Peanut-Free | Potato-Free | Rice-Free | Shellfish-Free | Soy-Free | Wheat-Free | Grain-Free | Easily Sesame-Free | Sweetener-Free | Yeast-free | GFCF | Vegetarian
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Dehydrating Time: 8-12 hours
5 tablespoons ground white CHIA SEEDS (grind seeds to a meal in a clean coffee grinder)
1 cup WATER
2-1/2 cups ALMOND FLOUR (Bob's Red Mill or Honeyville or make your own)
1/2 cup raw white SESAME SEEDS
1-1/2 teaspoon GRANULATED ONION
1-1/2 teaspoon OLD BAY SEASONING
1 teaspoon CHOLULA or other hot sauce
1/2 teaspoon SEA SALT
2 tablespoons minced SUN-DRIED TOMATOES
2 tablespoons DRIED ONION FLAKES
2 tablespoons raw black or white SESAME SEEDS
- In a medium bowl whisk chia meal and water. Add remaining ingredients, except for onion flakes and black sesame seeds. Mix well.
- Gather dough into a ball and place between to sheets of unbleached parchment. Roll to 1/8-1/4" thick.
- Remove top layer of parchment. Sprinkle surface of dough with onion flakes, sesame seeds, and a few dashes of salt. Gently press into crackers.
- Using a pizza cutter or sharp knife, slice/score dough into 1-2 inch squares.
- Transfer sheet with dough to dehydrator tray.
- Dehydrate until crisp (8-10 hours or overnight depending on temperature), flipping once onto a new tray, and removing second layer of parchment.
- Our friend Elana of Elana's Pantry offers tips on how you can dehydrate in an oven if you don't have a dehydrator.
- For the crackers pictured I used 1 cup of almond pulp (reserved from making almond milk) and 1-1/2 cups almond flour. If you have almond pulp to use up, by all mean do. Crackers made with part pulp come out a tad crispier than those made with all almond flour.
Let's Stay in Touch