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Savor the heart-healthy benefits of raw almond-cherry cookies with cacao and hemp seed

Tuesday, February 22, 2011 by: Carolanne Wright
Tags: cookies, recipes, health news

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(NewsTarget) Heart health can easily be cultivated by intelligent choices of specific nutrient dense foods. Certain nuts, fruits and seeds as well as cacao create a winning recipe for vibrant health.

Rich in the antioxidant vitamin E along with an abundance of flavonoids, monounsaturated fat, and fiber, almonds supply fantastic nutrition for maintaining a strong and healthy heart. Research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that the consumption of almonds with their skins significantly lowered cholesterol levels. The synergy of vitamin E and flavonoids in the skin of almonds appears to be the key. Almonds also reduce C-reactive protein, which is an indicator of inflammation that damages the arteries. By soaking nuts overnight with a pinch of Himalayan or Celtic sea salt, nutrients are preserved and digestibility is enhanced.

Cherries, hemp seed, and cacao also provide excellent heart-friendly nutrition. Cherries contain anthocyanin (plant-based flavonoids) that display strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory traits. These qualities positively influence blood vessels, platelets and lipoproteins which reduce the risk of heart disease. The oil in hemp seeds lowers cholesterol while supplying an outstanding source of essential fatty acids. This healthy fat further helps to protect the heart by curbing inflammation and removing plaque from the arterial walls. Procyanidin, a powerful antioxidant flavonoid found in cacao, also promotes heart health by protecting tissue from oxidation while maintaining vascular tone.

Enjoy the sweet benefits of almonds, cherries, hemp, and cacao in the following recipe. Your heart with thank you for it.

*Organic ingredients are always best for optimum health, quality, and taste.

Raw Almond-Cherry Cookies with Cacao and Hemp Seed

1 1/2 cup raw almonds
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1/4 cup raw cacao powder
1/2 teaspoon + 1/4 teaspoon Himalayan or Celtic sea salt
3/4 cup dried cherries
1/4 teaspoon each pure, glycerin-based almond and vanilla extract
1 teaspoon finely grated fresh orange peel
1/8 cup hemp seed hearts

Cover whole almonds with water and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Soak 8-12 hours or overnight. Drain off excess water and place almonds into a mesh strainer over a bowl, uncovered, in refrigerator for several days. Toss almonds twice per day to aerate and speed drying time. Once almonds are completely dry, about three days, remove from refrigerator. In a food processor fitted with the S blade, pulse 1-cup of the almonds with nutmeg, cacao and remaining 1/4 teaspoon of salt until coarsely chopped. Add cherries and both extracts; pulse until mixture just comes together while still having chunks of fruit and nut. Place in a small mixing bowl and combine with orange zest and hemp seeds. Set aside.

With remaining 1/2-cup of soaked and dried almonds, process in a coffee grinder until finely ground. Set aside. Using a small, oiled cookie scoop, form dough into balls and roll in almond meal. Set on plate and repeat process. Chill for at least two hours and store in a sealed container.

Sources for this article:

"Almonds", George Mateljan Foundation. Retrieved on February 8, 2010 from, http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foo...

"The Role of Tree Nuts and Peanuts in the Prevention of Coronary Heart Disease: Multiple Potential Mechanisms", Penny M. Kris-Etherton, Frank B. Hu, Emilio Ros, and Joan Sabate, American Society for Nutrition, 2007.

"Health Benefits of Almonds. High Protein, Heart-Friendly and a Good Diet Aid", Fiona Wilkinson, October 12, 2008. Retrieved on February 8, 2010 from, http://www.suite101.com/content/top-healthy-...

"Anthocyanins and heart health', Giuseppe (Joe) Mazza, Pacific Agri-Food Research Centre, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (2007). Retrieved on February 8, 2010 from, http://www.iss.it/binary/publ/cont/369%20-%2...

"Antioxidant properties of cold-pressed black caraway, carrot, cranberry, and hemp seed oils", Liangli Lucy Yu, Kequan Kevin Zhou, John Parry, Food Chemistry, Volume 91, Issue 4, August 2005, Pages 723-729

"Hemp Seed Benefits", Mary Earhart. eHow.Retrieved on February 8, 2010 from, http://www.ehow.com/about_5413242_hemp-seed-...

"Hemp Seed Health Benefits", Valery Elias, eHow. Retrieved on February 8, 2010 from, http://www.ehow.com/about_5397760_hemp-seed-...

"Cocoa and chocolate flavonoid: Implications for cardiovascular health", Francene M Steinberg, Monica M Bearden, Carl L Keen, Journal of the American Dietetic Association, Volume 103, Issue 2, February 2003, Pages 215-223

About the author

Carolanne enthusiastically believes if we want to see change in the world, we need to be the change. As a nutritionist, natural foods chef, and wellness coach, Carolanne has encouraged others to embrace a healthy lifestyle of organic living, gratefulness, and joyful orientation for over 13 years. Through her website www.Thrive-Living.com she looks forward to connecting with other like-minded people from around the world who share a similar vision.

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