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Lemon Olive Oil Cake

Here's a great holiday crowd-pleaser and a True Food Kitchen restaurant exclusive! While you might be hesitant to use olive oil in a dessert recipe, such fears are groundless. Olive oil gives this cake a unique flavor and richness that is balanced out by a little sweetness and the light freshness of lemons. Hesitate no more!

4 lemons, zested and juiced
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
6 eggs
1 teaspoon sea salt
2 cups evaporated cane sugar
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder


  1. Combine zest, juice and olive oil in a small bowl.
  2. In the mixer combine eggs & salt. Mix on medium for 2 minutes. Slowly add the sugar and continue to mix until pale and thickened.
  3. Turn mixer to low and slowly sift in the flour and baking powder, followed by the olive oil mixture. Do not over mix at this point; just incorporate the ingredients.
  4. Pour this mixture into a cake pan or muffin tin. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes for cupcakes and 35 minutes for large cakes. Poke with a toothpick to check for doneness.
  5. Serve with Greek yogurt and fresh strawberries.

Food as Medicine: Compounds known as limonins in the cells of citrus fruits have been shown to help reduce the risk of cancers of the mouth, skin, lung, breast, stomach and colon.


Don't Eat Late

The timing of your meals may influence your weight, at least if you're a mouse. A new study from Northwestern University suggests that late-night snacks or eating when you should be asleep can pile on pounds. The researchers were investigating why shift workers who are on the job at irregular hours tend to be overweight. So they fed mice a high fat diet during normal mouse sleeping time and fed the same diet to a control group of mice during the hours when the animals are naturally awake. All the mice gained, but the ones fed when they should have been asleep increased their weight by 48 percent compared to the others whose weight went up only 20 percent. All the mice ate the same number of calories and performed equal amounts of exercise. This suggests that the timing of meals matters to weight control. Earlier research found that our circadian clock regulates energy use, which implies that when we eat may affect the balance between calories consumed and the number of calories burned daily. The study was published online Sept. 3, 2009 by the journal Obesity.


4 Tips for Nutrition and Cognitive Health

To help preserve mental function and protect against age-related cognitive decline consider implementing these healthy lifestyle, nutrition and supplement choices:

  1. Eat an anti-inflammatory diet. It helps prevent inappropriate inflammation and counters the damage from oxidative stress, which may be linked to Alzheimer's disease. Focus on antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables, foods rich in vitamins C and E, omega-3 fatty acids, and the spices turmeric and ginger. My Anti-Inflammatory Food Pyramid has more information and specific recommendations.
  2. Eat berries. Blueberries in particular may improve motor skills and help reverse age-related short-term memory loss, and may also protect the brain from stroke damage.
  3. Use cooking methods that limit inflammation. Cook at lower temperatures to avoid the formation of AGEs (advanced glycation end products) which have been linked to Alzheimer's disease, and avoid cooking methods that require excessive fat, such as deep frying.
  4. Focus on fish. Wild Alaskan salmon, sardines, herring and black cod are excellent sources of anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids, yet are relatively low in potential environmental toxins. Diets rich in fish have been shown to help alleviate depression and other mental-health issues.



Preventing Heartburn

If you suffer from frequent heartburn - twice a week or more - you may have gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD. This condition occurs in people whose lower esophageal sphincter doesn't close properly, allowing stomach acid to backflow into the esophagus, causing a burning sensation in the chest and neck areas. It can also cause nausea, coughing, belching, a bitter taste, and respiratory problems, including aggravating asthma. Diet, stress, smoking and pregnancy can all trigger or worsen symptoms.

If you think you have GERD, see a doctor to rule out other concerns, such as angina, which has similar symptoms. Discuss any medications you are taking: some can trigger reflux. If you want to treat GERD naturally, try the following:

  1. Keep a food and beverage journal. It can help you track and avoid triggers.
  2. Eat small, frequent meals.
  3. Wear loose clothing and maintain a healthy weight. Both can prevent stomach constriction and help reduce GERD.
  4. Avoiding lying down after eating.
  5. Practice relaxation techniques such as breathing exercises.
  6. Sip chamomile tea. It can help soothe inflamed tissue in the esophagus.
  7. Try sleeping on your left side. This may help move acid away from the entrance of the esophagus.
  8. Experiment with DGL (deglycyrrhizinated licorice), a supplement proven to be effective against GERD.

About Olives

One of the oldest foods known, olives were first cultivated in Crete some five to seven thousand years ago. While olives have a high fat content, almost three-fourths of their fat is the healthy monounsaturated type, which offers cholesterol-lowering properties. Olives are also a good source of vitamin E (which helps to neutralize free radicals), iron, copper and dietary fiber.

Try Tofu Provencal for a festive dish featuring olives.


Yoga Promotes Weight Loss

It's not the poses or the stretching that works - instead, the mindfulness associated with yoga seems to promote weight loss and prevent gains. Four years ago, researchers at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle found that regular yoga practice may help prevent middle-aged spread in normal weight people and spur losses in the overweight. Now the same team has found that mindfulness, not just physical activity, makes the difference. Mindful eating means knowing why you eat and stopping when you're full (as opposed to eating when you're not hungry, when you're stressed and in response to cues such as advertising). The new study included more than 300 individuals from local yoga studios and other venues who reported on their activities, in and out of yoga class. All the participants filled out a Mindful Eating Questionnaire. Those with the highest mindfulness scores had lower BMIs (body mass index) than those with lower scores. The study was published in the August, 2009, issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association.


A Note on Eggplant

Part of the nightshade family of vegetables, eggplant (called aubergine in France, which may be why we use that term to indicate a deep purple color) is a low calorie source of nutrients: it provides fiber, potassium, manganese and vitamins B1, B6 and folate. It's also a good source of phytonutrients and flavonoids, which have antioxidant properties and help neutralize free radicals, which in turn lessens oxidative damage to cell membranes.

Try these delicious, healthy recipes featuring eggplant: Eggplant-Walnut Pâté or Ciambotta (Italian Vegetable Stew).


Muscle Makes for Better Bones

Conventional medical wisdom has held that being overweight has one advantage: the extra weight puts enough stress on bones to help stimulate the formation of more bone tissue.  Overweight bones are typically stronger than those seen in thinner people who are believed to have a higher risk of osteoporosis.

But researchers in Belgium have challenged that view with a study showing that the fatter men in their study had smaller, thinner bones and that the size of their bones was affected most dramatically by the amount of fat in the trunk area. Of the 768 men between the ages of 25 and 45 whose bone density was examined, those with the largest, densest bones were those with the highest lean muscle mass. The researchers said that bone mass fell as the percentage of body fat rose and that bone mass increased as lean muscle mass rose. They concluded that bone mass is determined by "dynamic" loading provided by muscle mass rather than the "passive" loading from the weight of fat. The study was published in the July 2009 Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism.