Tuesday, July 26, 2016

In The News: Cinnamon Can Help Improve Learning Ability?

Cinnamon is a well loved and popular spice, who doesn't love a sprinkle on apples or mixing in our baked good recipes? !  But now recent research suggests that consuming cinnamon may improve learning capacity too!! A study published in Neuroimmune Pharmacology noted that mice that were considered poor learners that consumed cinnamon experienced improvements in their learning ability. 

Previous research has shown that poor learners have less of CREB protein (one that plays a role in learning and memory function) in their hippocampus and have more of the alpha5 subunit of GABAA receptor or GABRA5 proteins - those that inhibit conductance in the brain.

In this particular study, feeding the mice cinnamon actually altered the proteins that are associated with poor learning thereby improving learning and memory. After consuming cinnamon, the mice metabolized it into sodium benzoate, which can be used as a treatment for brain damage. The sodium benzoate actually helped the mice by increasing the beneficial CREB in the brain and decreasing inhibitory GABRA5 which increased the ability of the hippocampal neurons to change. These changes that resulted improved memory and learning. After 1 month of cinnamon consumption, those mice originally considered poor learners improved in memory and learning, but the good learners were unchanged.  The lead researcher, Kalipada Pahan, Ph.D., Floyd A. Davis Prof. of Neurology at Rush University Medical Center,  notes: "We have successfully used cinnamon to reverse biochemical, cellular and anatomical changes that occur in the brains of mice with poor learning."   I'd say this is encouraging preliminary research!

Check out the study HERE.


Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Recipe ReDux Post # 48: Cajun Cauliflower "Rice" and Beans

July's Recipe ReDux theme is "Get Your Fruits and Veggies in Shape" and we were encouraged to develop a recipe using fruits or veggies in unusual shapes/creative cuts.  Cauliflower had been on sale at my local Sprouts Market last week so I eagerly bought 2 large heads. As the week wore on I started to realize the cauliflower had been just sitting in my fridge and it needed to be eaten!! I decided it would be the perfect veggie to work with for this challenge and I thought it would be a good idea to try my luck at another cauliflower rice recipe.  As you may recall, I have made a faux risotto with cauliflower rice with turned out great.  This time I went for simple pairing of cauliflower rice with black beans and spiced it up with some Cajun flair.  Just four ingredients combine to make a super yummy dish that can be served as a side with your favorite protein, or even be a meal itself served over salad or topped with avocado, cheese and salsa! It is high in fiber and protein and low in fat too, which is a bonus!! I hope you will give it a try and take a look at all the other creative veggie/fruit recipes developed by the talented Recipe ReDux group!


1 large head of cauliflower
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 to 1 teaspoon of Cajun seasoning
Two 15 ounce cans of black beans, drained and rinsed well


Make the cauliflower into raw "rice " by using THIS recipe.  Add the tablespoon olive oil to a large skillet and put in the cauliflower rice and sprinkle the seasoning over it .  Saute on medium-high heat for a few minutes, stirring frequently.  Add the black beans and heat for another 3-5 minutes until warmed through.

Makes 5 heaping cups, five servings

Serving size: 1 heaping cup Calories 189 Protein 12 g Carb 31 g Fiber 8 g Sugars 2 g Fat 3 g Saturated fat 0 g Sodium  136 mg


Friday, July 15, 2016

In The News: Artificial Sweeteners Can Increase Appetite!

As you may have noticed, I tend not to use artificial sweeteners in my recipes. As a dietitian,  I DO think that they may have a place in the diets of some  but...IN MODERATION.  I personally do not consume them because of the aftertaste they impart and the way they make me feel. They are a hot topic of research lately as to whether there are potential adverse health effects created by consuming them... check out this latest study done in fruit flies and mice that suggests consuming artificial sweeteners may stimulate appetite, along with decreasing sleep quality (click HERE to read).


Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Gabby's Eats: Super Easy 2 Ingredient Yogurt Pops!

Each year Gabby and I create a "Summer Fun List" which is essentially a bunch of activities that we carve out time to complete together to liven up the season and combat Summer boredom!! Creating recipes, namely a new popsicle, is always on our list and we developed the easiest one yet this past week!!  I had bought a six pack of 4 ounce yogurts and we happened to have popsicle sticks on hand so we decided to see what the result would be if we simply punched the sticks through the top of the yogurt container and froze them.  Guess what?...It worked!  No need for fancy molds or holders and no mess- what you get is a yummy yogurt pop in no time :)   Just be sure to use pre-blended yogurt varieties instead of fruit on the bottom.  And once they are frozen, it helps to run the container under warm water for easier removal of the yogurt pop.


6 pack of 4 ounce pre-blended flavored yogurts (We used YoBaby)
6 popsicle sticks


Carefully poke the sticks though the top of the container (using a knife to pre-cut a small slit in the top helps), freeze overnight and serve!

Makes six yogurt pops, 6 servings

Serving size: 1 pop Calories 100 Protein 4 g Carb 12 g Fiber 0 g Sugars 9 g Fat 4g Saturated fat 1 g Sodium 65 mg

*nutrition facts will vary depending on brand of yogurt used 


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