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Don’t Buy That! 10 Foods You Should Make at Home

Don’t Buy That! 10 Foods You Should Make at Home

Some very delicious packaged foods have some seriously disgusting ingredients (who knew ice cream’s dirty little secret?). Others are ridiculously over-priced for how easy they are to make. And some just taste so much better when you make them yourself.

Here are 10 super simple things you should never buy pre-made again.

Whipped Cream

Cakes_Really_Vanilly_lg

    Once you make whipped cream at home you’ll realize that, whatever it is in those pressurized cans, it’s not the same as what you just put on your pie. You hardly need a recipe to make whipped cream at home. It’s just cream, powdered sugar, and a touch of vanilla extract all whipped together. But here’s a recipe from the Food Network just in case.

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    Vanilla Extract

    Vanilla-Bean-Bundle-1-of-11

      True, making vanilla extract takes a tremendous amount of patience, but you’ll save a bundle making it yourself. All you need is vanilla beans, clean glass containers, vodka, and a couple months. You can get everything you need (aside from the vodka) as well as the recipe at Beanilla.com.

      Chicken stock

      If you have ever wondered why your homemade soup just doesn’t measure up to your favorite restaurant’s, you probably only need to make one small adjustment: start with homemade stock. As the base that all the other ingredients build on, the stock is pretty important flavor-wise. Most canned and boxed stocks have very little flavor, just a lot of sodium. Martha Stewart has a very reliable recipe, which is a great place to start.

      Salad dressing

      If you don’t care for a little titanium dioxide with your salad, steer clear of store bought salad dressings. Found in paint and sunscreen, titanium dioxide is a great ingredient for turning dingy, overly-processed substances bright white; but not so good for your health. Instead whip up a batch in your blender in just a couple minutes. The Pioneer Woman offers a great recipe on the Food Network web site (ignore the preparation time since most of it is just chilling the dressing in the fridge).

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      Hummus

      Hummus

        Once you discover all the delicious things that pair nicely with hummus (vegetables and pita for example), you’ll want to have it around all the time. A cheaper alternative to buying it pre-made is to make it yourself, and it’s really easy. Try this recipe from About.com or if you’re more of a perfectionist, this one from Deb Perelman of Smitten Kitchen.

        Lemonade

        Lemonade

          Whether you find bottled lemonade too sweet or just want to try a little DIY experiment, you’ll be pleased by the results of homemade lemonade. The Pioneer Woman comes through again (as she so often does) with a refreshing lemonade recipe that will please your own little punks every time.

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          Ricotta

          rich homemade ricotta

            Not only does homemade ricotta taste so much better than store bought, it’s also a lot cheaper. If you can boil water, you can make ricotta. Just follow these excellent directions over at Smitten Kitchen.

            Peanut Butter

            MAKE YOUR OWN PEANUT BUTTER

              A staple in practically every American mother’s pantry, peanut butter is a pretty healthy food, as long as it’s just peanut butter. Skip the whole hydrogenated oil business and make your own using a really, really easy recipe from A Beautiful Mess. There are only two ingredients, so it really couldn’t get easier.

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              Pancake Mix

              Whole Wheat Pancakes

                If you don’t recognize the ingredients on the box, it’s time to make your own mix. Try this one from the health monks at Tassajara Meditation Center where flipping sublime pancakes is just one way to reach Nirvana.

                Granola Bars

                Chocolate Granola Bars

                  Making your own snacks is a great way to cut out unwanted sugar and to customize food to your tastes. Tweak this recipe from the Daily Green to make it exactly how you want it.

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                  12 Best Brain Foods that Improve Memory

                  12 Best Brain Foods that Improve Memory

                  Nutrition plays a vital role in brain function and staying sharp into the golden years. Personally, my husband is going through medical school, which is like a daily mental marathon. Like any good wife, I am always looking for things that will boost his memory fortitude so he does his best in school.

                  But you don’t have to be a med student to appreciate better brainiac brilliance. If you combine certain foods with good hydration, proper sleep and exercise, you may just rival Einstein and have a great memory in no time.

                  I’m going to reveal the list of foods coming out of the kitchen that can improve your memory and make you smarter.

                  Here are 12 best brain foods that improve memory:

                  1. Nuts

                  The American Journal of Epidemiology published a study linking higher intakes of vitamin E with the prevention on cognitive decline.[1]

                  Nuts like walnuts and almonds (along with other great foods like avocados) are a great source of vitamin E.

                  Cashews and sunflower seeds also contain an amino acid that reduces stress by boosting serotonin levels.

                  Walnuts even resemble the brain, just in case you forget the correlation, and are a great source of omega 3 fatty acids, which also improve your mental magnitude.

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                  2. Blueberries

                  Shown in studies at Tuffs University to benefit both short-term memory and coordination, blueberries pack quite a punch in a tiny blue package.[2]

                  When compared to other fruits and veggies, blueberries were found to have the highest amount of antioxidants (especially flavonoids), but strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries are also full of brain benefits.

                  3. Tomatoes

                  Tomatoes are packed full of the antioxidant lycopene, which has shown to help protect against free-radical damage most notably seen in dementia patients.

                  4. Broccoli

                  While all green veggies are important and rich in antioxidants and vitamin C, broccoli is a superfood even among these healthy choices.

                  Since your brain uses so much fuel (it’s only 3% of your body weight but uses up to 17% of your energy), it is more vulnerable to free-radical damage and antioxidants help eliminate this threat.

                  Broccoli is packed full of antioxidants, is well-known as a powerful cancer fighter and is also full of vitamin K, which is known to enhance cognitive function.

                  5. Foods Rich in Essential Fatty Acids

                  Your brain is the fattest organ (not counting the skin) in the human body, and is composed of 60% fat. That means that your brain needs essential fatty acids like DHA and EPA to repair and build up synapses associated with memory.

                  The body does not naturally produce essential fatty acids so we must get them in our diet.

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                  Eggs, flax, and oily fish like salmon, sardines, mackerel and herring are great natural sources of these powerful fatty acids. Eggs also contain choline, which is a necessary building block for the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, to help you recall information and concentrate.

                  6. Soy

                  Soy, along with many other whole foods mentioned here, are full of proteins that trigger neurotransmitters associated with memory.

                  Soy protein isolate is a concentrated form of the protein that can be found in powder, liquid, or supplement form.

                  Soy is valuable for improving memory and mental flexibility, so pour soy milk over your cereal and enjoy the benefits.

                  7. Dark chocolate

                  When it comes to chocolate, the darker the better. Try to aim for at least 70% cocoa. This yummy desert is rich in flavanol antioxidants which increase blood flow to the brain and shield brain cells from aging.

                  Take a look at this article if you want to know more benefits of dark chocolate:

                  15 Surprising and Science-Backed Health Effects of Dark Chocolate

                  8. Foods Rich in Vitamins: B vitamins, Folic Acid, Iron

                  Some great foods to obtain brain-boosting B vitamins, folic acid and iron are kale, chard, spinach and other dark leafy greens.

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                  B6, B12 and folic acid can reduce levels of homocysteine in the blood. Homocysteine increases are found in patients with cognitive impairment like Alzheimer’s, and high risk of stroke.

                  Studies showed when a group of elderly patients with mild cognitive impairment were given high doses of B6, B12, and folic acid, there was significant reduction in brain shrinkage compared to a similar placebo group.[3]

                  Other sources of B vitamins are liver, eggs, soybeans, lentils and green beans. Iron also helps accelerate brain function by carrying oxygen. If your brain doesn’t get enough oxygen, it can slow down and people can experience difficulty concentrating, diminished intellect, and a shorter attention span.

                  To get more iron in your diet, eat lean meats, beans, and iron-fortified cereals. Vitamin C helps in iron absorption, so don’t forget the fruits!

                  9. Foods Rich in Zinc

                  Zinc has constantly demonstrated its importance as a powerful nutrient in memory building and thinking. This mineral regulates communications between neurons and the hippocampus.

                  Zinc is deposited within nerve cells, with the highest concentrations found in the hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for higher learning function and memory.

                  Some great sources of zinc are pumpkin seeds, liver, nuts, and peas.

                  10. Gingko biloba

                  This herb has been utilized for centuries in eastern culture and is best known for its memory boosting brawn.

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                  It can increase blood flow in the brain by dilating vessels, increasing oxygen supply and removing free radicals.

                  However, don’t expect results overnight: this may take a few weeks to build up in your system before you see improvements.

                  11. Green and black tea

                  Studies have shown that both green and black tea prevent the breakdown of acetylcholine—a key chemical involved in memory and lacking in Alzheimer’s patients.

                  Both teas appear to have the same affect on Alzheimer’s disease as many drugs utilized to combat the illness, but green tea wins out as its affects last a full week versus black tea which only lasts the day.

                  Find out more about green tea here:

                  11 Health Benefits of Green Tea (+ How to Drink It for Maximum Benefits)

                  12. Sage and Rosemary

                  Both of these powerful herbs have been shown to increase memory and mental clarity, and alleviate mental fatigue in studies.

                  Try to enjoy these savory herbs in your favorite dishes.

                  When it comes to mental magnitude, eating smart can really make you smarter. Try to implement more of these readily available nutrients and see just how brainy you can be!

                  Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

                  Reference

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