Spice Up Whole Foods Recipes

If you’re well on your way with my Whole Foods Diet recommendations, you’ll love these two delicious whole foods recipes.

These are creations of Elisa Ashenden, my little sister, Healthy Chef and total, utter, FOODIE.

By utter foodie I mean she LOVES food, (yes that is Love with the big “L”) eats an amazing amount of it, and absolutely refuses to ever put anything in her mouth or on her table that is not delicious.

My fond nickname for my wonderful little sister is “Piglet” – the picture below should explain everything.


Elisa’s obsession with whole foods recipes has paid dividends, she stays this lean year round – despite eating a huge amount, and only ever eating food that makes her happy – for one simple reason…

She has figured out how to make very healthy, whole foods recipes UTTERLY DELICIOUS.

She does this better than anyone I have ever met.

Think Whole Foods Diet For Fat Loss.

When your food is conducive to fat loss, fast and easy to prepare, yet tastes delicious, it makes getting lean and staying lean very very easy… which is why we are wrote a whole foods recipes cookbook together!

Consider this a sneak peak into some of the yumminess we’ve included.
Enter Elisa…

Whole Foods Recipe 1: Marinated Pork Tenderloin (Cumin and Turmeric)

‘Never eat more than you lift’  – Miss Piggy

Serves 2

Given this is a pork dish, it seemed only fair to include a quote from a pig. My brother, Chris Ashenden, has taken this quote quite seriously I think…and let me tell you, the man can lift a lot!

On that note, I always at least double this recipe, if not quadruple it, as it tastes amazing cold and is delicious served at breakfast with eggs, or cut up and enjoyed with a salad for lunch.

Economical, quick and easy to prepare. All of the things I look for in whole foods recipes.

600gm/20ounce (or thereabouts) pork tenderloin
1-2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 heaped tsp cumin powder
1 tsp whole cumin
½ tsp turmeric
½ lemon, rind only
2 tbs olive oil
1 tsp coarse rock salt

Heat the oven to 200 deg C/ 390 deg F

Trim any excess fat from the tenderloin to your taste. Combine all the ingredients in a marinating dish big enough to lay the tenderloin out flat. You can use a roasting dish if nothing else fits. Roll the pork around in the marinade to coat well. Leave for 30 minutes at room temperature.

Heat a frying pan to high and brown the tenderloin on all sides until it is golden all over. This will take about 3-4 minutes. You won’t need to add oil to the pan as there is enough coating the pork from the marinade.

Place the pork in a roasting tray and scrape any remaining marinade or pan juices over it. Cook for 20-25 minutes until the fattest part of the loin shows a soft pink colour if you test it with a knife, but there is no blood gushing out. (Pork can, and should in my opinion, be served slightly pink in the centre).

Rest the meat for 5-10 minutes by covering in foil before slicing. Drizzle the pork with any juices from the roasting pan and serve with salad, greens or sweet potato mash.
© Elisa Ashenden 2013

Whole Foods Recipe 1: Japanese Fusion Steak (Ginger and chili)

Serves 2

Having grown up in Japan, this dish is a version of something my mother used to make us almost weekly.

Even decades later, none of us can get enough of it. Case in point, this dish is so yummy, I once made it for a friend who had specifically told me she didn’t like steak. I challenged her to keep to that opinion after trying one bite. (I did have something else for her to eat in case my experiment failed). She tried it…and not only finished it, but asked for the recipe and has subsequently served this to her guests!

Japanese Fusion Steak calls for Coconut Aminos or Tamari (traditional fermented gluten-free soy sauce). I prefer it with Tamari but the coconut aminos are more diet compliant so it is up to you (if you use aminos, add a pinch of salt to the marinade).
You can use this marinade with chicken and it works beautifully too, and is magic on the BBQ.

If you want leftovers or more economy, make extra steaks (and increase marinade accordingly) then slice the steak the next day and serve cold over salad.

2 large rib-eye steaks (or any cut you enjoy most)
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 heaped tbs grated ginger
½ tsp finely chopped fresh red chili (more if you love spice)
1 tbs sesame oil
5 tbs coconut aminos or tamari
1tsp coconut oil

Combine all the ingredients except the steak and coconut oil in a dish that is large enough to lay the steaks out flat. Add the steaks and turn them over a few times to coat them well. Leave at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Set a frying pan to high (as high as it goes). Add the coconut oil and when it is searing hot add the steaks (open the windows, you might get some smoke in the next few minutes but you will thank me later). Do not pour in the liquid of the marinade, but set it aside.

Grind some fresh black pepper over the top while they are cooking. Presuming your steaks are approximately 2 cm or ¾ inch thick, cook them 2-3 minutes on each side for medium rare, more for medium and 1.5-2 minutes or less each side for rare (timings vary according to steak thickness so use this as a general rule only).

In the final minute, add all the remaining marinade to the pan. Serve with Sweet Potato Mash, Greens of any kind or a huge salad.

©Elisa Ashenden 2013
As far as whole foods recipes go, I can promise you these will be crowd pleasers.
You may not be the best cook, but there are plenty of shortcuts to infuse your own whole foods recipes with a little superfoods magic…

A Superfood Kick For Whole Food Recipes: The 5 Magic Spices

“Let Thy Food Be Thy Medicine”  – Hippocrates, a smart dude who wore a toga and spoke about health about 2400 years ago.

Food is FIRST.

Every time “food-science” gets a new “breakthrough” ingredient, nature continues to trump all in delivering clean, healthy, nutrition.

Whole-food sourced is the only way to go, whether for food or for supplements, but then, I am biased.

Eating healthy food doesn’t have to be boring. There are magical ingredients in the world that not only make your whole foods recipes delicious; they add color and fragrance, and they’re really good for you!

5 Magic Spices (well, 4 magic spices and 1 magic herb)...

Four spices with vibrant red and yellow colors, all with equally impressive health properties: turmeric, ginger, cinnamon, and chili.

Cumin is technically a herb, but most folks think of it as a spice and have it in the spice cupboard, so I’m also including one fabulous herb in this post on spices, to call it five.

The science on cumin’s health benefits is at an earlier stage than the other spices, but the results look promising.

As I wrote this with The Big Sis, who is a stickler for what has been shown in well designed clinical studies, when talking these up we are sticking to the science folks.
All of these spices taste and look fantastic when added to whole foods recipes. They have unique active compounds that variously act against inflammation, infection, pain, nausea, obesity, free radicals, cancer and cardiovascular disease.

They also contain essential vitamins and minerals and a massive host of natural occurring antioxidants.

If you’d like to know exactly what’s in them, check out the US Government’s national nutrient database:

Turmeric Root

Turmeric (also called ‘Indian Saffron’) grows in South and Southeast Asia. It has been part of Indian food and Ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years. The roots are either used fresh or dried and ground into powder.

Its scientific name is Curcuma longa and its active chemicals are the polyphenols curcumin and other curcuminoids.

Curcumin interacts with fat and muscle cells, pancreas and liver tissue, and macrophages in the immune system, helping to counteract insulin resistance and lower blood glucose and blood lipid levels.

Clinical trials show that curcumin:

  • helped prevent the development of diabetes and improve the function of Beta-cells in the pancreas

  • reduced symptoms such as joint tenderness in patients with rheumatoid arthritis

  • reduced the severity of pruritus (skin itchiness)

  • decreased heart attack associated with coronary artery bypass grafting

  • decreased protein and blood in the urine and decreased systolic blood pressure in patients with inflammatory kidney disease

  • improved postoperative pain and fatigue following surgical removal of the gallbladder

  • improved the general health of patients with colorectal cancer by increasing p53 molecule expression in tumor cells, speeding up tumor cell death

Sounds good to me, let’s eat some. (Just be aware that very high doses of turmeric can increase urinary oxalate levels, increasing the risk of kidney stone formation in susceptible individuals)

Ginger Root

Ginger belongs to the same family as turmeric and has the same geographical origins and ancient Ayurvedic history. 

Like turmeric, the part used for food is the root, or rhizome. Its scientific name is Zingiber officinale and its active chemicals include gingerol, shogaol, paradol, zerumbone and zingerone.

Ginger is used commonly in folk medicine to reduce nausea. While other traditional uses include digestive function, anti-inflammatory effects, a pain killer (most likely linked to any anti-inflammatory effect), and as an immune booster.

The majority of clinical trials point to ginger’s ability to assist in digestive stability and combat nausea.

Clinical trials showing variable results on ginger’s anti-emetic properties suggest that its effect varies between individuals.

In clinical trials, ginger:

  • reduced the severity of nausea induced by chemotherapy in adult cancer patients

  • showed mixed effects on postoperative nausea across different trials

  • showed mixed effects on morning sickness in pregnant women across different trials

  • reduced muscle pain following exercise-induced muscle injury

  • reduced pain scores in patients with osteoarthritis of the knee

  • Powdered and at very high doses, reduced platelet aggregation in patients with coronary heart disease (but this effect was not shown at low doses, or in other studies)

    A review of clinical trials showed that ginger reduced subjective pain reports in patients with osteoarthritis, period pain, and experimentally induced acute muscle pain – the authors suggest this effect may be due to ginger’s anti-inflammatory activity.

    In animal studies, ginger:

    • protected mice against radiation-induced sickness and mortality

    • protected normal tissues against the tumor-killing effects of radiation in mice with cancer

    In vitro, ginger:

    Inhibited the cyclooxygenase activity of platelets
    Yep. Ginger is looking good, and it tastes delicious. Throw it straight in those whole foods recipes. It goes with pretty much everything in my opinion.
    Warning: people with heavy susceptibility to bleeding should seek medical advice before taking large amounts of ginger due to studies suggesting it may reduce platelet activity (necessary for blood clotting).

    Cinnamon Bark

    Cinnamon spice comes from the sweet inner bark of certain trees, originally grown in Sri Lanka, India, China, the Middle East and parts of Africa.

    When dried, the bark curls into quills; it can also be powdered. In ancient times cinnamon was highly prized for its fragrance in Egypt and the Middle East and it has been used in traditional medicine in China for thousands of years.

    The two most common types of cinnamon sold commercially are Cinnamomum verum, also called true cinnamon, Sri Lanka cinnamon or Ceylon cinnamon, and Cinnamomum cassia, also called cassia or Chinese cinnamon.

    The active chemicals are cinnamaldehyde, cinnzeylanine, and eugenol.

    Cinnamon has antibacterial effects. In clinical trials it also appears to improve blood parameters, which may help prevent/improve diabetes and aid fat loss. However some studies show no statistically significant effect on blood glucose levels.

    The most consistent benefit observed across different studies is reduced fasting blood glucose.

    Clinical trials show that cinnamon:

    • improved blood glucose concentrations, fasting blood glucose, postprandial glucose response and insulin sensitivity in normal weight adults, obese adults, and patients with type 2 diabetes

    Cinnamon is best added to DRINKS in my opinion. I love a teaspoon mixed into hot coffee, or put on top of a double espresso over ice. Serve shaken, not stirred.

    Note: Don’t go totally nuts: Cassia cinnamon contains high levels (up to 1%) of coumarin, the parent compound of the anticoagulant warfarin. Very high doses of coumarin are toxic. 

    A tolerable daily intake is 0.1 mg/kg body weight. At 110 lbs, that would be about 5 grams of cinnamon. At 220lbs, about 10 grams of cinnamon, to be well inside the tolerably daily intake.

    Chili Fruits

    There are many Capsicum species, including all the familiar chilies and bell peppers and many exotic others. Examples include C. annum, C. baccatum, C. chinense, C. frutescens, C. pubescens.

    Originally native to the Americas, the fruits of these plants contain varying degrees of the active chemical capsaicin and other capsaicinoids and have been used in food since ancient times.

    Absolutely chock full of bioflavonoids and antioxidants, and with some interesting FAT LOSS benefits, from a medical perspective, capsicum binds to receptors on nerves that sense pain.

    Clinical trials show that red chili peppers:

    • decreased the intensity of abdominal pain and bloating in patients with irritable bowel syndrome

    • activated brown adipose tissue in healthy men

    • decreased blood glucose and maintained insulin levels in healthy men

    A review of trials involving capsicum species and weight loss showed that chilies reduced abdominal adipose tissue levels, reduced appetite and energy intake, and increased energy expenditure.

    Warning: chilies can taste HOT! as well as delicious :)

    For those with digestive issues such as IBD and autoimmune problems this is actually a food I recommend you take out for a month or more, in line with a full elimination approach (you know, all that no grains, legumes, dairy stuff), then re-introduce carefully and assess tolerance.

    The vast majority will have no problems whatsoever, and that is a good thing, as capsicums are YUMMY.

    Cumin Seeds

    Cumin is a herb belonging to the same family as fennel and caraway and the seeds are used in cooking. It is native to areas stretching from the Mediterranean to India. Its scientific name is Cuminum cyminum and the active chemicals are cuminaldehyde and polyphenols.

    It is extremely rich in vitamin C.Very few clinical trials have been conducted on cumin. Bearing in mind that animal and ‘test tube’ (in vitro) studies cannot be extrapolated in any straightforward way to human beings, I have given a snapshot of these types of studies below.

    It will be exciting to see clinical trials emerge on cumin.
    In animal studies, cumin:

    • improved diabetic parameters (e.g. blood glucose and insulin), lowered blood lipid profiles, reduced body weight, reduced oxidative stress, and delayed the formation of cataracts in various rat models of diabetes

    • was a potent immunomodulator, increasing the count of T cells (CD4 and CD8) and the Th1 cytokines predominant immune response in both healthy and immunocompromised mice

    • prevented bone loss in a rat model of postmenopausal osteoporosis

    • attenuated seizures in mouse models of epilepsy

    • suppressed the development of colon cancer in rats injected with a colon-specific carcinogen

    • reduced the number of stomach tumors in a mouse model of the cancer

    In studies in vitro, cumin:

    • had a considerable inhibitory effect on a wide range of bacteria and fungi

    • was a potent antioxidant with free radical scavenging properties

    • reduced the survival of liver and breast cancer cells

    • inhibited platelet aggregation

    Warning: consult your doctor if you take warfarin or have bleeding conditions, as cumin may affect the clotting process. 

    These amazing plants can not only make your life (and food) a lot more interesting, they can also help reduce inflammation and pain, improve blood sugar levels, and may have other protective effects against cardiovascular disease and tumors.

    The science is still not conclusive and a lot more clinical trials are needed, but these plants have an ancient and distinguished history that we should pay attention to. And of course, they taste goooooood.

    With the whole foods recipes we’ve shared above you can already get cracking adding ginger, chili, cumin and turmeric to your diet.

    For cinnamon you don’t need whole foods recipes as such. I recommend a big pinch in your daily coffee – it tastes and smells amazing.

    As with all of my posts, please consult your doctor first if you have any health conditions or take any medication. General warning: some people are allergic to certain spices.

    Spice Up Whole Foods Recipes
    Spice Up Whole Foods Recipes

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    Dont forget to grab your quick PDF for buying the best supplements on the market

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