Meet-Marie-Tower,-RHN

When it comes to hormone health, picking key foods that have multiple benefits for balancing hormones is helpful. Schizandra berry is just such as a food and may be a true anti-aging food as well.

In China it is known as a five-flavor fruit,” because it contains the flavours sweet, sour, salty, bitter and pungent which, in TCM, all represent various health properties. This may also explain its funky taste.

Research has confirmed that compounds found in the berries, called schisandrins, help with supporting nervous system issues, liver issues and coughs. Much of this research, which includes controlled clinical studies with humans, is in China, unfortunately.

Even more specifically, with regard to supporting the nervous system, animal studies have found that schizandra can counter the stimulating effect of caffeine.

Taking schizandra, while either cutting down on coffee or going cold turkey, lessens the nervous, shaky and anxious symptoms that come with withdrawal. It also helps keep the blood sugar stable and lessens the severity of the headache that always accompanies caffeine withdrawal

It further supports the nervous system by supporting the adrenals. It is a known adrenal adaptagen, making it a perfect food for the body during times of stress.

As for the liver, schizandra can protect it from toxic substances in a similar manner to milk thistle, the most well-known liver protective supplement. It may be helpful in the recovery from hepatitis and acts as an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory to help protect the liver. One double-blind placebo study looked at 12 racehorses, all of similar age, weight, temperament and training and all with high liver enzymes and low performance issues. After fourteen days, the horses on schizandra, had lower liver enzymes in comparison to the placebo. Fifty percent of the horses on schizandra also had improved appearance and performance. And while we are not race horses, we certainly often conduct our lives like we are so some schizandra could really help us with our performance issues.

Digestively, it may be helpful for proper peristalsis (gastric muscle contractions), stress-induced gastric ulcers and regulating stomach acid. It can also help with diarrhea.

But for many of us, the number one benefit for schizandra may be the research that states it has anti-aging properties. This would include the fact that it has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory abilities, two important elements in preventing age-associated issues.  Studies have also shown it may help with age-related memory loss, and act as a tonic for the heart. It can supply us with more energy, help with depression and help support the immune system.

And finally, for the vanity in all of us, schizandra may help our appearance by giving us a clearer complexion, improved skin elasticity and diminished the appearance of scars or wrinkles. Does it get any better than that?

What is the issue? Getting a good source of the product may be difficult. Nature’s Way has  a great capsule that is available in the US only right now. St Francis makes a good tincture. Organic Traditions has a dehydrated powder in a jar that is 6x concentrated. You can also find loose berries in health food or Asian stores. These can be ground in a coffee grinder and added to a smoothie or made into a tea.

 

If buying a supplement, watch out for standardized extracts. Although many science types might recommend this as the preferred version, a standardized extract is usually just one phytochemical found in a plant and does not represent all the chemicals found in the whole plant or in this case, the berry. There are 40 different phytochemical compounds in schizandra – there would have to be for it to do all the amazing things it is credited for. This is what we should be consuming – the whole berry – if we want to get the most from it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

References:

Hancke, J., et al. “Reduction of serum hepatic transaminases and CPK in sport horses with poor performance treated with a standardized Schisandra chinensis fruit extract.” Phytomedicine 1996, 3 (3):237–240.

Ip, S. P., et al. “Effect of a lignan-enriched extract of Schisandra chinensis on aflatoxin B1 and cadmium chloride-induced hepatotoxicity in rats.” Pharmacology and Toxicology 1996, 78 (6):413–416.

Ko, K. M., et al. “Effect of a lignan-enriched fructus Schisandra extract on hepatic glutathione status in rats: Protection against carbon tetrachloride toxicity.” Planta Medica 1995, 61 (2): 134–137.

Lu, H., and G. T. Liu. “Anti-oxidant activity of dibenzocyclooctene lignans isolated from Schisandraceae.”Planta Medica 1992, 58 (4):311–313.

Nishiyama, N., Y. L. Wang, and H. Saito. “Beneficial effects of S-113m, a novel herbal prescription, on learning impairment model in mice.” Biological Pharmaceutical Bulletin 1995, 18 (11):1498–1503. Song, W. Z., and P. G. Xiao. “Medicinal plants of Chinese Schisandraceae and their lignan components.” Chinese Traditional and Herbal Drugs 1982, 13 (1):40–48.

 

 

 

 

 

Thai Quinoa Salad

Thai Quinoa Salad

Prep

Cook

Total

Yield 6 Servings

A delicious lunch or dinner, I make this one often in my house!

Ingredients

  • ¾ cup uncooked quinoa
  • 1 heaping cup red cabbage , shredded
  • 1 red bell pepper , diced
  • 1/4 cup red onion , chopped
  • 1 cup carrots , shredded
  • 1 cup edamame , shelled
  • ½ cup cilantro , chopped
  • 2 green onions , chopped
  • ½ cup cashew halves
For the dressing:
  • ¼ cup peanut butter , crunchy or smooth
  • 2 tsp freshly grated ginger
  • 3 Tbsp tamari sauce
  • 1 Tbsp honey
  • 1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp sriracha hot sauce (optional)
  • Water to thin if necessary

Instructions

  1. Cook quinoa according to package directions. You should have a little over 2 cups of quinoa.
For the dressing:
  1. Add peanut butter and honey to a microwave safe bowl and heat in microwave for 10-20. Stir until smooth. 

  2. Add in ginger, soy sauce, vinegar, sesame oil, olive oil and sriracha and stir until smooth and creamy. 

  3. If necessary, thin the dressing by adding a little more olive oil or some water. Taste and add more hot sauce, if desired.

  4. Drizzle half of the dressing over the cooked and cooled quinoa. Toss to combine.
  5. In a large bowl combine the red pepper, onion, cabbage, carrots, edamame, and cilantro. 

  6. Fold in the quinoa. Add as much of the remaining dressing as you'd like (to taste). Add cashews and garnish with green onions. Enjoy.

Courses Lunch

Sweet Potato Taco Bowl

Sweet Potato Taco Bowl

Prep

Cook

Total

Yield 4 Servings

After running my power bowl program recently for the 4th year in a row, I am even more addicted to having my meals in a bowl. Nothing beats it, and this recipe was a hit with my whole family!

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tbsp sweet smoked paprika (feel free to use hot smoked paprika if you like extra spicy)
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp cayenne powder (optional, very spicy)
  • 1 lb  sweet potatoes, peeled and copped into 1-2" cubes (approx.)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 lb extra lean ground beef
  • 1 14 oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup corn, either from can or 2 ears of corn (shucked and kernels removed from ear)
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved OR 2 large tomatoes chopped
  • 1 medium avocado, sliced

Optional:

I added brown rice in my kids bowls to make it extra filling, they loved it! For mine, I threw some mixed greens in the bottom of the bowl.

I also added Salsa on top.

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400° F.

  2. In a small bowl mix together chilli powder, paprika, cumin, salt, oregano, garlic power, onion powder, and cayenne pepper (if using).

  3. Toss sweet potatoes pieces with vegetable oil and half the seasoning mixture from the small bowl, about 2 tablespoons. Bake for 15-20 minutes until tender and cooked through.

  4. Meanwhile, cook beef over medium-high heat for about 5-7 minutes until cooked through. If necessary, drain any large quantities of fat from skillet, leaving about 1 tablespoon. Add beans and remaining seasoning mixture from the small bowl. Toss to fully coat beans and beef with seasoning. Continue to cook until beans are heated through.

  5. To serve either place all ingredients in separate dishes for family style serving, or make individual bowls before serving table.

  6. Serve with any desired optional garnishes (Greek yogurt, jalapeños, sliced green onion, chopped cilantro leaves, lime slices, crumbles feta, salsa etc.).

Courses Supper

Gluten Free Chocolate Banana Bread

Prep

Cook

Total

Yield 1 Loaf

Ok, honestly this is probably THE BEST banana bread I've ever had - and it's gluten free! 

Give it a try and let me know what you think.

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon ground flaxseed
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 1 cup Bob's Red Mill Gluten-Free 1-to-1 Baking Flour 
  • 1/2 cup Dutch process cocoa
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 3 large ripe bananas (about 1 1/2 cups mashed)
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil, melted and slightly cooled
  • 3/4 cup coconut sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup chocolate chips

Instructions

  1. Heat your oven to 350°F. Grease a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.
  2. In a small bowl, mix together the flax seed meal and water. Let sit for 10 minutes.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and sea salt. Set aside.
  4. In a large bowl, mash the ripe bananas with a fork. Add the melted coconut oil and stir until combined. Add in the coconut sugar, flaxseed mixture, and vanilla extract. Stir until smooth.
  5. Stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, don’t overmix. Stir in 1/2 cup of the chocolate chips.
  6. Pour batter into prepared pan. Sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cup of chocolate chips over the top of the bread. Bake for 65 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the bread comes out mostly clean, you might have some melted chocolate chips on the toothpick and that is fine. You just don’t want a lot of gooey batter on the toothpick.
  7. Remove the pan from the oven and set on a wire cooling rack. Let the bread cool in the pan for 15 minutes. Run a knife around the edges of the bread and carefully remove from the pan. Let the bread cool on the wire cooling rack. Cut into slices and serve.

Notes

The bread will keep on the counter, wrapped in plastic wrap, for up to 4 days. This bread also freezes well. To freeze, cool the bread completely and wrap in plastic wrap and aluminum foil. Freeze for up to 1 month. Defrost before slicing.

 

Gluten Free Chocolate Banana Bread by Marie Tower at Marietower.com

Courses Snack

Detox Quinoa Salad

Detox Quinoa Salad

Prep

Cook

Inactive

Total

Yield 6 Servings

This salad is quick & easy, plus it tastes great! It's made with whole foods that also just happen to be good at helping your body detox after the long winter. 

Ingredients

  • 1 cup quinoa thoroughly rinsed
  • 2 cups water
  • 3-4 ounces spinach, stems removed and coarsely chopped
  • 1 can (15 ounces) corn, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can (15 ounces) black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 5-6 green onions, chopped
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, finely chopped
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 large limes, juiced
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Instructions

  1. Follow package instructions to cook the quinoa. Transfer to a large bowl and aside to cool completely.

  2. To the bowl with the cooled quinoa, add the chopped spinach, rinsed corn, rinsed black beans, cherry tomatoes, chopped green onions, and finely chopped cilantro.  (Add in walnuts, pumpkin seeds, or anything you like just on your plate/bowl so they don't get soft).

  3. Toss together.

  4. In a small bowl whisk together the lime juice, olive oil, about 1 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, ground cumin, and red pepper flakes. Pour over the salad and toss to coat.

  5. Store leftovers in the fridge in an airtight container.

Courses Lunch

Oaty Applesauce Muffins

Oaty Applesauce Muffins

Prep

Total

Yield 12 Muffins

My kids devour these muffins every time I make them. Try them yourself, and you will see it why!

Ingredients

  • 1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/2 cup almond milk (or other milk)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon  vanilla
  • 4 tablespoon butter or coconut oil , melted
  • 1/3 cup coconut sugar
  • 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp salt

*I also add in a few dark chocolate chips and some chopped pecans to these

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with liners or grease with non-stick cooking spray. Set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, stir together the oats, applesauce, milk, egg, vanilla, butter and sugar. 

  3. In a large bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, salt and cranberries or raisins.

  4. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the applesauce mixture. Stir just until combined (don't overmix!) Add in any add in's (like the dark chocolate chips or pecans) and give it a quick stir.
  5. Spoon the batter evenly into the muffin cups. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. 

  6. Don't over-bake or the muffins will be dry. Remove them to a cooling rack. 

    Enjoy!

Courses Snacks

Zucchini Bread

Zucchini Bread

Prep

Total

Yield 1 Loaf

This yummy zucchini bread is perfect as a snack or dessert. Remember though, that although there is no refined sugar in this recipe, it's still a treat, and moderation is key. Yes, I know it's hard to do! 🙂

 

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup coconut oil
  • 3/4 cup honey (or pure maple syrup)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup grated zucchini
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup plain greek yogurt
  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)
  • A few dark chocolate chips (optional)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, cream coconut oil and honey. Add egg, zucchini, yogurt, and vanilla, mix on low until combined.
  3. Combine dry ingredients and add to batter. Mix on medium speed just until combined. Stir in nuts or chocolate chips if using them.
  4. Spray a standard size loaf pan with non-stick cooking spray. Pour batter into loaf pan. Bake 50-55 minutes or until a fork inserted in the center of the loaf comes out clean.
  5. Allow to cool 15 minutes in pan before removing and cooling completely on a wire rack.
  6. Cut into slices.

Courses Snacks

Chocolate Chip Granola Bars

Chocolate Chip Granola Bars

Prep

Cook

Total

Yield 24 Bars

Granola bars are admittedly a quick and easy snack to take when you are on the run. We love them, our kids love them - because most of them taste great!

BUT

Many store-bought granola bars are full of sugar, and ingredients that we can't even pronounce, so what exactly is that doing to your body?  Mood swings, hormone imbalances, energy dips... you get the picture. 

So, what about making your own delicious granola bars in minutes using only real food, and ingredients we know?!

Yes please! (Plus they are a big hit with all of my kids, so that is another win!)

Ingredients

  • 4 1/2 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla 
  • 3/4 cup honey
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

Plus 1 cup of add-in goodies if desired:

mini chocolate chips, raisins, coconut flakes, chopped dried apricots, dried cranberries, etc. (We like to add dark chocolate chips and chopped pecans).

Instructions

  1. Lightly butter a 9 x 13 pan and preheat the oven to 325 F.
  2. Combine the butter and honey with a mixer in a large bowl and mix well.
  3. Add all ingredients except the add-ins and mix until combined. Stir in the add-ins by hand.
  4. Press the mixture into the pan. It’s a little sticky, so it helps to put a few drops of water on your hands and press the mixture in firmly.
  5. Bake at 325 F for 15-20 minutes until golden brown. They won’t look quite done, but will firm up while they cool. After they cool for about 10 minutes, you can cut them into bars.

Courses Snacks

No Bake Chocolate Quinoa Cookies

Prep

Inactive

Total

Yield 12 Cookies

These were a huge hit in our house, and literally take minutes to make! 

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup almond butter (or nut/seed butter of choice)
  • 1/2 cup cooked quinoa
  • 1/2 cup quinoa flakes
  • 1/2 cup coconut flakes
  • Coarse sea salt for sprinkling (optional, but recommended!)

Instructions

  1. Line baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. In a small sauce pan over medium, melt together coconut oil, syrup and cocoa powder. Whisk until combined. Add the almond butter and stir again until smooth.
  3. Remove saucepan from the heat and fold in the quinoa, quinoa flakes and coconut flakes.
  4. Using a cookie scoop, drop the mixture onto the prepared baking sheet, shaping slightly with your hands if desired. Sprinkle with sea salt and place in the freezer to set for about 30 minutes.
  5. Store in an airtight container in the freezer for best results, but can also be stored in the fridge (they’ll just be softer - I prefer them this way though!)

Courses Snacks

Morning Glory Banana Bread

Morning Glory Banana Bread

Prep

Cook

Total

Yield 1 Loaf

This is a quick & easy banana bread that tastes great and makes a great snack for everyone!

Ingredients

  • 2 cups whole wheat or gluten-free flour 
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ½ tbsp unsalted butter or coconut oil, melted and cooled slightly
  • 2 large egg whites, room temperature
  • 1 ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup plain Greek yogurt
  • ¾ cup mashed banana (about 2 medium)
  • 2 tbsp pure maple syrup
  • 6 tbsp milk or milk substitute
  • 1 ½ cups freshly grated carrot (about 2 medium, peeled first!)
  • ¾ cup finely diced apple (about 1 small)
  • ¼ cup raisins
  • 2 tbsp finely diced pecans
  • 2 tbsp shredded unsweetened coconut

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly coat a 9x5” loaf pan with olive oil.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together the butter, eggs, and vanilla. Mix in the Greek yogurt, stirring until no large lumps remain. Mix in the mashed banana and maple syrup. Alternate between adding the flour mixture and milk, beginning and ending with the flour mixture, and stirring just until incorporated. (For best results, add the flour mixture in 3 equal parts.) Gently fold in the carrots, apple, raisins, pecans, and coconut.
  3. Spread the batter into the prepared pan. Bake at 350°F for 45-55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes before carefully transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Courses Snack

Schizandra – Nature’s Hormone Food

When it comes to hormone health, picking key foods that have multiple benefits for balancing hormones is helpful. Schizandra berry is just such as a food and may be a true anti-aging food as well. In China it is known as a five-flavor fruit,” because it contains the flavours sweet, sour, salty, bitter and pungent [...]

Thai Quinoa Salad

PrintThai Quinoa SaladPrep 15 minsCook 20 minsTotal 35 minsYield 6 Servings A delicious lunch or dinner, I make this one often in my house! Ingredients¾ cup uncooked quinoa1 heaping cup red cabbage , shredded1 red bell pepper , diced1/4 cup red onion , chopped1 cup carrots , shredded1 cup edamame , shelled½ cup cilantro , chopped2 green onions , chopped½ cup cashew halvesFor the dressing:¼ cup peanut butter , crunchy or smooth2 tsp freshly grated ginger3 Tbsp tamari sauce1 Tbsp honey1 Tbsp red wine vinegar1 tsp sesame oil1 tsp olive oil1 tsp sriracha hot sauce (optional)Water [...]

Sweet Potato Taco Bowl

PrintSweet Potato Taco BowlPrep 15 minsCook 20 minsTotal 35 minsYield 4 Servings After running my power bowl program recently for the 4th year in a row, I am even more addicted to having my meals in a bowl. Nothing beats it, and this recipe was a hit with my whole family! Ingredients2 tbsp chili powder1 tbsp sweet smoked paprika (feel [...]

Gluten Free Chocolate Banana Bread

PrintGluten Free Chocolate Banana BreadPrep 15 minsCook 65 minsTotal 1 hour, 20 minsYield 1 Loaf Ok, honestly this is probably THE BEST banana bread I've ever had - and it's gluten free!  Give it a try and let me know what you think. Ingredients1 tablespoon ground flaxseed3 tablespoons water1 cup Bob's Red Mill Gluten-Free 1-to-1 [...]

Detox Quinoa Salad

PrintDetox Quinoa SaladPrep 15 minsCook 15 minsInactive 30 minsTotal 60 minsYield 6 Servings This salad is quick & easy, plus it tastes great! It's made with whole foods that also just happen to be good at helping your body detox after the long winter.  Ingredients1 cup quinoa thoroughly rinsed2 cups water3-4 ounces spinach, stems removed and coarsely chopped1 can (15 ounces) corn, drained and rinsed1 can (15 [...]