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Chronic over-scheduling is a habit I learned in college and am still learning to unlearn this habit. Does this sound like you or anyone you know? If so, you can probably list off the annoying consequences of an over-scheduled life. I’m all too familiar with them, which is why I am untraining myself. Over-scheduling has taught me many positive things too, such as how easy it is to say “yes” and how hard it is to follow-through when over-committed. Now, I choose my yes’ more carefully. Over-commitment also taught me how to be nimble and quick in the kitchen. Sometimes though, “nimble” + “quick” = blackened (burned) sandwiches because I decide that I can throw my clothing on while my sandwich is grilling. But for the most part, I’ve learned it wisest not to multi-task while cooking, and if I decide that I must (again, out of compulsive habit), I now mostly choose to multi-task on other kitchen activities so that I am near my cooking foods. Ultimately, I am striving to stop multi-tasking because it is less effective than uni-tasking, but the habit isn’t easily kicked!

This recipe is a way that you can prepare a quick quesadilla in less than ten minutes (if you don’t putz around). You can dress it up with salsa and a salad or just take it plain and naked with you for a little grab and go goodness. If you have the room on your griddle, complete both quesadillas at once. My iron skillet is a little too small for two quesadillas to lay flat side by side, but when I’m hustling, I squeeze them both in together and make it work!

On a side note, I will retire this wordpress blog by the end of May. I am moving all of my blog posts to my website: www.namastenutritionist.com. Please subscribe to continue receiving quality posts, podcasts, videos and more.

Enjoy the grub, homies!

Ingredients: Organic corn tortillas, 2 cups chopped kale, ~ 1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts, ~1/2 cup shredded jack or mozzarella (organic, of course!).

Place corn tortilla on a hot griddle (over medium heat). Pile it with ~ 1 cup of chopped kale. You’ll think this amount of kale is NUTS, but just you wait til you see the shrinkage!

Artistically line your sliced or shredded cheese over the kale and sprinkle with 1/4 cup chopped nuts.

Cover pan with lid until kale wilts and cheese melts.

Voila! Melts in just a few quick minutes.

Fold over and press down with your spatula to seal the deal.

Serve with salsa and a sprig of celery florette, salad, or whatev. Or, take it naked as a grab ‘n go snack.

Please “like” this post and share with your pals.

My future posts will start showing up at http://www.namastenutritionist.com, so please subscribe to updates there!

xoxo

Love,

Frances

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I’m very excited because I have finally finished a cooking video for you. I had a lot to learn about shooting, editing, and producing. This video is in honor of colorectal cancer awareness month and my goal is to share with you foods and herbs that prevent or fight cancer. This is so exciting because we have our health in our hands. Nature provides us with a powerful pharmacopeia of medicines that rival anything modern medicine can provide. Don’t you think?

My goal in this video is to teach you a simple recipe using powerful anti-cancer foods. Please view, comment, share and enjoy.

Thanks for your support, my friend!

With love,

Frances

Enjoy!

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When all my wisdom teeth were removed, I quickly discovered the agonizing pain of dry sockets. Vicodin left me with a hangover headache that was worse than the dry sockets. In desperate search for a solution, I remembered the old home remedy of using cloves for a toothache. Upon request, my surgeon supplied me with several strips soaked in clove oil and the tools to stuff them into the healing sockets. I used them faithfully to relieve the pain – almost entirely – until the wounds healed. This wasn’t a placebo effect, either. Human subjects have reported less pain when clove oil was used in dentist procedures.

Cloves help your heart, digestion, blood sugar, sexual health, and have deodorizing and anti-cancer effects.

  1. The eugenol found in cloves may inhibit inflammatory progression in human cells, and IV infusions of clove has actually reduced lung cancer.
  2. Folk remedies use it for improving digestion and reducing flatulence. This can be achieved with simple mulled cider or homemade chai tea spiced with clove.
  3. Anti-spasmodic: use in a tea to reduce coughing, or try it topically to treat muscle spasms.
  4. Animal studies have shown that it reduces yeast infections when used topically over the infected area. However, it can also irritate mucus membranes or promote dermatitis, so apply with care. You can purchase it as an oil or salve and apply several times daily. Clove oil is not recommended for internal use for yeast infections.
  5. Clove used in topical cream may help prevent premature ejaculation.
  6. One clove study found that a daily dose of cloves lowered cholesterol while improving insulin performance. This study showed that the daily cloves reduced overall glucose, triglycerides, and LDL (“lousy”) cholesterol levels. It also inhibits lipid peroxidation, which promotes heart disease.
  7. Traditional herbalism includes clove oil as pain reducer for teething babies. Hippiedippiebebe.com shares that you can mix one drop of clove oil with 1-2 Tbsp carrier oil, such as olive or almond, and massage into baby gums. People with sensitive teeth can try making a clove compress or by anointing teeth with the clove-carrier oil mixture. However, use caution, as this could also burn baby or cause allergic reactions. For baby, it’s probably best to stick to commercial remedies containing clove oil that have been tested.
  8. During the Han dynasty, you could only speak to the Emporer after managing your breath by chewing on clove. In Medieval times, cloves effectively masked the odor of improperly preserved foods.
  9. To evaluate its freshness, squeeze the clove with fingers; it will release oils when fresh. Alternatively, drop a few cloves into water. Good ones will float vertically, while older cloves will sink or float on their sides.
  10. Cloves can be added to classic sweets, like pumpkin pie, oatmeal cookies and applesauce. They are traditionally used in combination with other herbs to flavor meats, stews, marinades or pickles.
  11. In this post on Spices Your Oatmeal Craves, I provide my magic blend of several spices, including cloves, so that you can easily shake it over cereal, yogurt, cookies and more.
  12. It is an essential ingredient in garam masala (an Indian classic),  Chinese five-spice (a Chinese staple spice), and in the mulling spices for apple cider.
  13. Use a coffee grinder to grind whole cloves just before combining with other spices (for freshest flavor).

A home remedy using clove and cinnamon topically to reduce pain is provided by David Grotto, RD, LDN, in his book “101 Foods That Could Save Your Life”:

Make  a paste from one-quarter teaspoon clove powder and one teaspoon cinnamon oil. Apply this to the forehead for headaches or to any other painful area. To relieve a toothache, chew on a clove or dip cotton in clove oil and apply it to the painful area.

Have a favorite clove recipe or remedy? Please share it with us!

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I’ve felt a bit taxed the last few days, as though a cold is reaching its long, nasty tentacles for me. I made a super-immune booster drink in less than five minutes, and I’ve felt great ever since I consumed it this morning. It contains fresh carrots and orange juice, both which boast large amounts of immune-powering vitamin C and flavanones, which are specialty flavonoids that protect you from many diseases.

Ginger hosts potent antioxidants as well, and holds its own for biting back at cancer tumors. It’s known for its immune-enhancing properties in Ayurvedic medicine, and the story goes like this: ginger is hot, which opens pores and allows you to sweat out toxins. The toxins that don’t make it out through your pores can become neutralized by ginger because it is an anti-pyretic for the common cold. (Read more about Ayurveda and medicinal uses for ginger here.) Aromatically, ginger gives this drink an exciting and pungent kick, so start off with small amounts if you aren’t used to it.

Use ORGANIC. Organic supplies you with better nourishment than conventional, plus it will save your body from the burden of processing synthetic pesticides in your food.

Don’t be a weeny – drink the damn pulp! Unless you have a medical condition that forbids you consume fiber (and you probably don’t), you need your fiber. If you use a juicer for this recipe, add the pulp back into your juice.  The fiber is a *brilliant* gift of life, and your DNA evolved consuming A LOT of roughage. Most Americans are missing out on the valuable benefits fiber. The average American barely meets one-third to one-half of their recommended fiber intake. What a loss! Fiber improves your overall weight, too. It fills you for longer, which encourages you to eat less! If you weren’t filling up on fiber, chances are that you’d fill up on fat and carbs instead. It also slows the rate of sugar entering your blood, so your blood sugar is more stable. Real Americans eat fiber!

So there.  Drink and be merry for this glass of juice and all its fibery goodness. It’s a lovely smoothie. Give thanks you have tasty, life-giving foods. Be happy you aren’t drinking Sunny Delight or Hawaiian Punch.

Have another wonderful juice recipe? Please share it with us in the comments section below!

If you like this post, please share with your friends on email, twitter, facebook, or wherever you like.

Bottoms up,

Frances

Vitamix Blender

Makes 2 servings

Equipment needed: A mighty, mighty blender that is tough enough to puree carrots (I use a VitaMix). You can use a juicer, if you have one.

Assemble:

4 carrots, washed and chopped into chunks (sized appropriately for your blender) – avoid skinning them to retain nutrients.

2-4 Tbsp RAW ginger – peel ginger skin (don’t fuss over getting it all off, or you will ruin a pleasant evening). Chop coarsely. *If using powdered ginger, sprinkle it into juice lightly because it tastes about 6X stronger when powdered.

Optional: apple slices (leave skin on)

Orange or apple juice.

WAAAIT! Add a little water to this blender, shake and drink it down (or give it to your compost bucket).You can also scrape with a spatula. Don't let it go to waste -we're in a depression and resources are precious.

Combine carrots and ginger in your mighty, mighty blender. Fill with enough juice so that it just passes the top of the vegetable line. Puree. Add more juice if needed. Taste and adjust the ginger or any other flavors, if needed.

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As fall ripens and cooler temperatures sweep in, pumpkins begin dotting front porches and fences as we prepare for Halloween.  Decorating and scary-evil pumpkin faces aside, these ancient fruits are a super power against chronic and killer disease.  Pumpkin has proven itself worthy of cancer-fighting powers, specifically in decreasing the risk of prostate, breast, lung, colorectal and gastric cancers.  Despite being a high-carbohydrate fruit, research shows that blood glucose control is improved when participants eat plenty of pumpkin. In studies with rats, the oils found in pumpkin seeds reduce hypertension from advancing. And, the seeds are also wonderful because they are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which means they are a fantastic means of increasing your daily omega-3 intake. (Read about how to fall in love with omega-3’s here.)

Pumpkins come in all varieties, including white, red, gray, green, blue, striped, and heirlooms, as well as large and small. Their flavors are as dynamic as their appearances. They can take a humble background note in casseroles and soups, or they can proudly hold the center stage with vibrant flavors in main dishes and stand-alone side dishes. By giving yourself the opportunity to explore with these ancient and veritable fruits, you’ll not only excite your eyes and pallette, you’ll also support your immune system, your skin and eye health.

Personally, I enjoy sprinkling a handful of pumpkin seeds over warm cereal (such as cooked millet or oats). I also regularly add them to yogurt parfaits, salads, and rice-bean-veggie dishes, such as kitchari.

Pumpkin is great in soup. Try this adventurous recipe for Pumpkin-Curry-Coconut-Apple Soup from Crescent Dragonwagon in her famed book, “Passionate Vegetarian”. If you are short on time, buy the stock and use a little apple juice in place of water. Just read the ingredients list to avoid using anything with hydrogenated oil, trans-fat, or MSG, please. Buy something with ingredients that you can understand and pronounce, like carrot, potato, celery, etc. You get the idea. Pacific Naturals is a great company that produces organic soups and stocks. (Perhaps one of my upcoming posts should be on ways to easily make your own stock. It’s always cheaper and healthier, and it is faster than you might think!)

Find great pumpkins at farmer’s markets, roadside stands, and pumpkin patches or pumpkin orchards. Remember, save some of your pumpkin seeds for next year. Pumpkins are simply delightful to grow, especially for kids, growing with giant enthusiasm, as if showing you how grateful they are for the opportunity, and require relatively little tending. Start them in the late spring or early summer. Plant raw seeds (not roasted or salted) in healthy soil and in a very sunny location. You can  train the vines to grow up alongside your home and onto your rooftop. Imagine what how cool your rooftop would look if dotted with pumpkins! If you decide to do this, you MUST send me photos, okay? Another important note is that they are up to 90% water, so pumpkins are thirsty fruits  and require a lot of water, and prefer to drink before the hot sun rises (before 11 AM). You can mulch around the pumpkin patch to reduce moisture losses, but you’ll still need to water them every day. Don’t skimp! Here is a charming and thoughtful article on how to grow your own pumpkins next year.  For the more adventurous gardener, try growing an heirloom variety. Follow this link for a free growers guide from a NON-GMO, heirloom seed company. Your prolific pumpkins will provide you with enough product to trade with someone who is growing another crop you didn’t grow this year. Growing will save you money, will nurture positive relationships through sharing and trading, and will sponsor a joyful communion with nature and traditions.

Do you have another pumpkin recipe or growing tip? Please tell us about it in the comments! Help readers to discover the tantalizing ways we can enjoy the exciting world of PUMPKIN!

Love you Pumpkin-Heads,

Frances

P.S. If you like this, please share this post with others you love via Facebook, Twitter, and Email!

Other Resources:

Vegan Pumpkin Walnut Bread

Pumpkin Waffles Blog

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With most of us being concerned about time, money, and health, I have a simple and very effective solution to saving yourself gobs of each. Stop eating out. Oh yes, I did just say it. Just knock it off! Adopt the habit of grocery shopping and eating at home. Start making those “special occasion” celebratory meals at home, and suggest more potluck events. Pick out a fancy recipe and splurge on the expensive foods needed for putting together the special occasion meals. You will still save money, and when you get good at it, you will save time as well. While it takes some discipline at first, once you get the hang of it, you’ll wonder why you wasted so much of your precious resources on eating out in the first place.

Eating at home is a right of passage that used to trickle into the brains and bodies of succeeding generations for many millennia. It was a significant way in which families bonded by sharing cooking lessons, and sharing stories about their lives. The mental stress, physical health problems, and emotional stress, like loneliness, anxiety, and depression, that we see in our society today is no coincidence. It didn’t just happen to us. While there are many correlations, one of them we can associate with confidence is the loss of ritual and sanctity around family meals. Just what did we think we might gain when we stopped spending precious time caring for ourselves and others with lovingly prepared foods? Now, we are spending much of our time eating on the run, hardly noticing whether the food we are putting into our mouths is medicine or poison. If you are single, invite friends over. I did this all throughout college, in fact. I cooked to relieve stress (and also over-ate, filling out like a puffer fish). First, this allowed me to learn experiment with cooking something more than salads and macaroni. Second, it helped me form friendships, since I often tossed gatherings so that we could all eat together. As the saying goes, she who feeds you her food also feeds you her heart (just ask my sweetie if this is true).

If you’re still thinking swapping eating out for eating in sounds old-fashioned and austere, I say “Oh, to the contraire, for cooking at home is extraordinaire!” First of all, if you’re inviting friends and neighbors over, you’re expanding your social bonds, which are increasingly (and ironically) threatened in the “Age of Connection”. Second, eating alone or in cars, although common, really aren’t healthy. Eating and cooking with others is fun and fulfilling. If you want, add a bottle of wine or microbrew and some great tunes or interesting, light conversation to the mix. You might just find yourself dancing, singing, and laughing your way through your meal prep. Your entire bottle of wine will cost less than a glass of wine at your neighborhood restaurant (stick to the thrifty wine – we’re keeping this practical!).

I’ve pretty much stopped eating out at any restaurants, with occasional exceptions. Not only is it very expensive, but the restaurant’s priorities (profits) are usually in conflict with my priorities (health). And hats off to the restaurants who do wisely care about its consumer’s and the environment’s health by supplying organic, fresh, and nutritious ingredients. But at these places, the dining bill for two meals might be half the price of my grocery bill. Even healthy sounding foods are often high in added sugar, fat, and salt, making it a not-so healthy option. Reasons to EAT-IN:

  1. Restaurant and processed foods HIJACK your brain. The food science industry has spent billions of dollars investigating the psychology and physiology involved in which foods make us tick. Sugar, fat, and salt light up our pleasure centers in similar ways to cocaine and heroine lighting in an addict’s brain. This makes it very hard for us to turn down tasty foods, especially in restaurants that don’t offer satisfying and healthy alternatives. Food addiction has become a very real, novel phenomenon. Those who are most susceptible to these addictions are those who eat processed foods. To understand more about this fascinating topic, check out this article and read the brilliant book,”The End of Overeating: Taking Control of the Insatiable American Appetite”, by David Kessler, the former FDA Commisioner.
  2. You have more control over ingredients. Prepared foods are layered repeatedly with sugar, fat, trans-fats and salt. This is considered a hidden cost in terms of its health consequences and associated long-term costs. It prompted the Menu Education and Labeling Act, which requires restaurant chains to disclose calories and fat. However, calorie disclosures are sometimes underestimated  the calorie and fat content can vary wildly, due to the way chefs may vary in cooking processes.
  3. Cooking your foods at home is better for your waistline, no matter how careful you might be in restaurants: Women who eat out more than 5 times per week are shown to consume an additional 300 calories than women who eat out less frequently.  By these standards, it would take just over 11 trips to the restaurant to earn yourself an extra pound of fat. We are frequently deceived by perceiving that manipulated and unhealthy restaurant foods are actually fresh and healthy. Research also shows that dads attitudes toward eating at home vs eating out significantly impacts their child’s perceptions.
  4. Eating at home is less expensive: Average Americans eat out 4-5 times per week, much of it being a convenience food bite (slice of pizza + soda, sub sandwich, and drive-thru’s). This can add up to serious expense! My average bill at an average-priced Thai, Indian, or Vietnamese restaurants is as follows:  $10 entree + $2 drink + $4 tip = $16 meal for one.  If I bring my sweetie with me (he has to eat also!), the bill jumps to $32. If we want to splurge on an entree or dessert, add another $6. Now the bill is at least $38. If we eat out 5 times per week with the average bill being $32, we shell out  $160 per week, $640 per month. We’re not finished though because we’ve only eating 1 out of 3 meals we are going to eat today, and zero snacks. This also isn’t counting latte’s and other coffee drinks, which are $2-$6 a pop.

    For about $75 per week, I can fill my fridge and cupboards with fresh, organic foods for two, which will provide every meal and snack we need. This is less than half of what it costs for me to eat out. The only processed foods I regularly buy are sliced bread, nut butter, cheese, almond milk, yogurt, tortillas, chocolate and occasionally, Trader Joe’s tamales or organic, whole grain pizzas. That’s it! The bulk of my purchases are whole vegetables, whole fruit, beans and grains. I cook and pre-slice food in batches to help make eating at home a snap. I make occasional splurges when I want without guilt because, when compared to the average American’s cost for eating out, I’m still ahead.
  5. Eating in and preparing your own foods  is both time and cost-effective. If you don’t know how to cook, or aren’t very good at it, start with Mark Bittman’s book, “How to Cook Everything”, or one of his other 8 cookbooks, where he offers extremely simple and intuitive ways to start cooking without stress.  You can score zillions of free recipes from his website too. He offers a vegetarian book as well, which I purchased as an I-Phone app. Another great resource for getting the entire family involved is “What’s Cooking with Kids”

Remember, bonding happens in more ways than only over food. Friends invite friends to “catch up over lunch”. As an alternative, I’ve begun suggesting that we meet up for a walk, instead. It feeds two bunnies with one carrot, so to speak, because I save money and get my exercise. My friend and I both could probably use the opportunity to reduce our stress by exposing us to natural elements, such as sunshine, bird chatter, and fresh smells.  Our minds will expand and relax in this environment. Unlike eating in a restaurant, walking will improve our health, reduce our expenditures, and help us stay active so that maybe we won’t need to go to the gym tonight. Whenever I’ve suggested this, friends respond enthusiastically. We can pick a spot where one or both of us hasn’t visited before and experience something new for 30 minutes or so. How’s that for a healthy alternative?

So now, it’s your turn. What are your hurdles to cooking at home? What are you afraid of around home-cooking? What suggestions or inspirations do you have to share with others to help more of us eat in? Why do you think eating at home, versus in a restaurant, could be valuable to our time, our money, and our health? Please comment and then share this post with others whom you think could use a nudge.

Thanks for reading and sharing.
Affectionately,
Frances

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Sweet Potato Burrito

While scouring my fridge in search of ingredients for the perfect breakfast, I felt uninspired with the boring usuals: eggs, cheese, lettuce. Hum. But alas, the sweet potatoes from the night before caught my eye and helped drive me to this new culinary creation (for my tastebuds, anyway). The sweet potatoes and blue cheese perform brilliantly in this flavorful symphony. Because the sweet potatoes were already prepared, the ingredients were simple to toss together. Mikey’s feedback was, “Mmmmm. Good compliment of flavors!” I took it as a good sign that he ate his breakfast slowly with his eyes closed.

Nutritional Benefits: While our taste buds danced in delight, I also felt satisfied at that we were receiving 26 grams of high quality protein and 3 servings of vegetables. This meal meets 130% of omega-3 recommendations. It provides more than half of the daily recommended intake for fiber, and offers a balance of both soluble and insoluble fibers. On the down side, it contains 580 calories, over 900 mg of sodium, 450 mg of cholesterol, and 34 grams of fat. This can be a problem for some people who are restricting fat, calories, cholesterol or salt for specific reasons.  If you are  restricting these nutrients, you can replace the cheese with fresh herbs and spices, use water in place of oil, or share the burrito with someone else. However, for the general population, I believe this is a very healthy meal that packs a hefty dose of vitamins, minerals, healthful fats, and fiber. Most breakfast burritos won’t offer nearly the nutritional bang for your buck as this one does – see the nutrient composition at the end of this post. After enjoying this hearty burrito, I was left satisfied for hours without feeling a need to snack.  I hope you’ll try this recipe and offer your feedback.

Thanks for reading. If you like this post, please rate it “5 stars” and share with others!

Cheers to colorful, flavorful, nutritious food!

-Frances

Serves 2 hungry tummies

4 eggs (can exchange all or part eggs with firm tofu. follow recipe the same as if using 4 eggs, and maybe add some turmeric or curry powder)

1/4 cup shredded cheese

1 cup diced, cooked sweet potatoes (seasoned or unseasoned)

1/2 – 1 cup chopped fresh summer tomato

1 cup chopped onion

1 cup salad greens (suggestions: spinach, salad mix, kale, collard, or shredded cabbage)

2 medium-large whole-grain tortilla shells (can be substituted with great bread)

1-ounce Blue cheese crumbles

1 tbsp fresh basil, chopped

salt & pepper to taste

handful fresh cilantro (no limit here!)

4 Tbsp plain, low-fat yogurt (divided into 2 Tbsp)

Preparation – Assemble all ingredients on a clean counter space:

  1. Place your pre-cooked sweet potatoes in a microwaveable bowl and heat until comfortably hot while eggs are cooking.
  2. Chop onions, tomatoes, and basil.
  3. Shred cheese, if needed.
  4. Wash your salad greens and cilantro. Trim only the bottom of the cilantro stem. No need to pull every leaf from the stem.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Saute’ basil, onion, chopped tomatoes, salt & pepper over med-low heat. When the onion becomes fragrant, whip eggs directly into the pan. Continue scrambling eggs. If the pan begins to dry, add water, 2 Tbsp at a time (will steam your food without adding extra fat). Remove from heat, add shredded cheese and cover with a fitted lid to allow cheese to melt.

While cheese is melting, arrange burrito shells on plates and top with salad greens. Divide egg mixture over burrito shells. Divide sweet potatoes among shells, placing to the side of eggs. Dollop yogurt along the side of potatoes. Top with blue cheese and handfuls of cilantro.

Suggestions for Grace: Give thanks to the farmers, truck drivers, grocers, earth, and mineral kingdom for contributing to your food. Or anything else you might like to say before eating your scrumptious meal.

Nutritient Breakdown (Approximate)

Thiamin – 0.29 mg – 27%

Riboflavin – 0.79 mg – 72%

Niacin – 1.41 mg – 10%

Vitamin B6– 0.53 mg – 41%

Vitamin B12 – 1.58 µg – 66%

Folate – 99.05 µg -25%

Vitamin C – 27.98 mg -37%

Vitamin D -1.58 µg -32%

Vitamin A – 2534.33 µg – 362%

Vitamin E – 4.81 mg – 32%

Calcium 378.27 mg – 38%

Iron 3.04 mg- 9%

Magnesium 63.72 mg – 21%

Potassium – 847.3-3 mg -18%

Zinc – 2.84 mg-35%

Omega-6 Linoleic 4.37 g -36%

Omega-3 Linolenic 1.43 g -130%

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