Tag Archives: orange

Wet and Fresh

23 May

The warm weather is coming.  Thank goodness.  I am tired of the gray rainy spring.  As much as I detest the horror of getting my jiggles and wiggles into a swim suit, I simply adore summer.  The breezy warm nights, a casual vibe,  outdoor evening concerts, dining al fresco.  Yes, the pleasures of summer are many.  But take caution.  The warm weather can increase the threat of dehydration.

If you are thirsty, you are already experiencing mild dehydration.  And did you know that dehydration is the number one cause of daytime fatigue?  Even mild dehydration can decrease endurance, slow cognitive thinking, and cause headaches.  Great reasons to stay hydrated.

Interestingly enough, studies suggest that 70-80% of daily hydration should come from fluids, and 20-30% from the water content in food.  So, it is important to drink water and healthy fluids during the day and limit sugary drinks.  But in addition to that, especially in the warm summer weather, it’s also important to eat foods that are high in water content.  Need a list?  Look no further.  This list contains fruits and vegetables with more than 90% water.

  • cucumbers
  • watermelon
  • grapefruit
  • iceberg lettuce
  • cantaloupe
  • zucchini
  • radish
  • tomato
  • cabbage
  • bell peppers
  • strawberries

Looking at this list I hope you are not thinking of just eating these wonderful fruits and vegetables solo.  Oh no!  Lets have some fun while we eat our water!  How?  So glad you asked.

How ’bout this…a salad.  No, not a lettuce side salad.  A cucumber watermelon salad is the best!  So hydrating and refreshing in the hot summer months, not to mention beautiful.  Simply dice up watermelon and cucumber.   Toss.  Then the fun begins.

Make it more sophisticated with mint.  Or add a savory balsamic glaze.  There are a million ways to customize this fun summer salad, and it will keep you alert and ready to go to the next thing.  So this summer, don’t forget to eat your water!

Watermelon Cucumber Salad.  Delicious and refreshing.  Oh..and so pretty!

Watermelon Cucumber Salad. Delicious and refreshing. Oh..and so pretty!

Pumpkin is the new bacon.

19 Oct

Wow!  That sure got your attention, now didn’t it?  Pumpkin is the new bacon?  You bet.  I read it on the internet so it must be true (insert sarcastic tone and indignant faux cough with a hair toss here).  Seriously though, it’s an interesting culinary perspective don’t you think?  When sharing this statement with my teenaged son, he became certain that there is a conspiracy at work here. He says nothing could ever be the new bacon.

What, exactly, does this mean…the new bacon. Well, I took it to mean that pumpkin is the new “must have” ingredient that everyone is trying.  So not to be one left in the dark, I decided that pumpkin was MY new bacon.  Pumpkin became my fall food obsession.  Where to begin?  Where I always begin…I delved into the nutritional facts.

Pumpkin is a great source of beta-carotene, which our bodies convert to vitamin A.   That helps form and maintain healthy skin, teeth, and bones.  Vitamin A promotes good vision too.  Love that!

Vitamin C is also abundant in pumpkin.  This vitamin is an essential nutrient is great for our skin, brain health, and necessary to form certain proteins in our body.  .  Vitamin C is a well known antioxidant and essential for good cell health.  The bright orange color means that pumpkin is bursting with antioxidants!  That also keeps our skin elastic and healthy looking.  We need a continuous supply of this vitamin, so it is crucial to include in our diet.

Pumpkins are a good source of potassium and fiber.  Pumpkins are also naturally sodium free and low in calories.  It is a heart friendly food too.  And since studies show that canned pumpkin has all of the health benefits that fresh pumpkin does,  there is no reason not to jump on this bandwagon!

Okay, now on to the fun stuff.  Recipes!  Oh, I looked at them all!  Appetizers, desserts, pumpkin dice, pumpkin pureé, pumpkin seeds.  At first I was amazed that pumpkin is so versatile.  Thrilled, in fact, by the possibilities.  But in the end I followed my affinity for grilling and pizza to my very own pumpkin heaven.  Yup.  I made grilled pumpkin pizza.  And it was delish!

I did two pizzas.  One pizza had pumpkin puree as the sauce, and a second with pumpkin chunks as a topping.  Here is what I did.

I bought 2 “sugar” pumpkins, or pie pumpkins, a smaller variety. I cut them in half, took out the seeds and strings, placed the cut side down on a baking sheet, and roasted them in a 400 degree oven for about 30 minutes.  I pulled them out, turned them open side up, and let them cool.  I could then easily cut the skin away.

2 small sugar pumpkins, roasted and cut out of their skin.

Next, I cut the meat of one pumpkin into a small dice, and the other one I used for the puree.  The puree was intended to be a pizza sauce, so I wanted it thick.  I blended the pumpkin meat for the sauce with a little butter and milk until it was a good space consistency.  Then I tossed in a smidgen of salt and pepper.  That is it. Simple.

I started by grilling 2 pizza crusts on the grill.  After pulling the 2 pizza crusts off the grill, I met Denis at the island in the kitchen.  Denis and I discussed toppings, seasonings, flavors, and technique ahead of time.  We had a blast loading up our pizza pies!  For the toppings of the first pizza, we decided on goat cheese, grilled ham, and pesto to add to our pumpkin sauce.

Pumpkin pizza. This pizza has half pesto sauce and half pumpkin sauce. Next, we threw some savory toppings on!

The other pizza had diced pumpkin on it.  Since pumpkin is so moist, sauce wasn’t necessary on this pizza.  It was just the pizza crust and toppings.  Two pizzas, 1 with pumpkin sauce and one with pumpkin chunks as a topping.  Very different consistencies, mouth feel, and taste sensations.  Both were very pleasant, and had the essence of fall.   These pizzas certainly elicited some moanable moments while being taste tested!

Now it’s your turn.  Get some pumpkins.  Cook them up.  Develop your own recipes,  Mix diced pumpkin with pasta, puree with bread.  Pumpkin risotto.  Pumpkin pancakes.  How many other things can you think of?  For me, this is simply a jumping off point with so many places to go with pumpkin.  Denis is a genius at soups, so I know that an amazingly delicious pumpkin soup is in our future.  Any way you make it, start having fun with this nutrition packed food.  Pumpkin is the new bacon?  It sure is-minus the fat, but with all the flavor!

Color my World!

6 Apr

Let’s go orange!  No, I am not talking about Snookie and her fake bake tan.  Nor am I picking sides in a college football team.  I am talking about making a commitment to going in a different direction with the colors in daily intake.  Let’s eat in color.

We tend to eat familiar colors. For example, most of us are really familiar with garden or green salads. Many of us may even eat them on a regular basis. Variety is critical in a well balanced diet and to better health.  Green salads can be an easy way to get a variety of vegetables, especially if we load them up with bell peppers, mushrooms, and maybe even strawberries.

But let’s get past the green. I am an advocate for eating 5 colors a day. Counting colors is a great way to get a wonderful array of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. One of the reasons that variety is so important in our diet is because the pigment, or color, in food has health benefits. The colors in the fruit and vegetables have antioxidants, as well as fiber, potassium, vitamin c and calcium. In other words, they are loaded with nutrients.

Here is where I will challenge you. Stick to salads if you must, but increase variety by adding the following to your daily intake. Here is the rub…add in an unlikely color to your intake, that color being orange and yellow.

Sweet potatoes
Orange and yellow bell peppers

Just look at these exciting options! So when you are grocery shopping next time, look for the orange and the yellow in your produce section. See the rainbow before you in the produce section of the grocer, or better yet at the local farmers market.  Get outside of that comfort zone. Think variety and spice up your life! Now you have a list of great fruits and veggies to try, so go for it!

Beauty from the inside out!

13 Dec

Wrinkle creams. Facial toner. Skin cleansing systems. Acne wash. Its everywhere! We are constantly barraged by beauty products to make our pores smaller, our skin radiant, and wrinkles disappear when you use them. It’s a miracle!  Really? I say put that beauty cream down. I have something better!

I can state the obvious with saying that fruits and vegetables are good for you because they are packed with vitamins and minerals. They have beneficial fiber, and most of us probably need to eat more of them. We already know that. But surprise! Guess what else they are packed with? Beauty! You see, food contains essential nutrients for good health. But here’s the secret. Food has benefits that don’t fall into a “category”. Fruits and vegetables have lots of health benefits. But they also have benefits that don’t fall into a “nutrient” category. Let me explain.

Have you been to the beach or a northern climate and seen rust on the cars? It is a corrosive reaction. Rust eats away metal through oxidation, which is a chemical reaction that occurs when oxygen is present. An example of rapid oxidation is something burning. Slow oxidation is rust. As you know, our atmosphere has oxygen, and it comes in contact with our skin. That’s right. You guessed it. The cells in our skin break down, or “oxidize”, leading to wrinkles. Dryness. Spots. How can we fight that?

Back to fruits and vegetables. How do they help keep our skin beautiful? The pigment, or color, in fruits and vegetables have antioxidant properties. That’s right. They fight oxidation, so they are fantastic for our skin. Here is my challenge to you. Eat 5 colors a day though your fruits and vegetables, and you will see a lovely change in your skin. Elasticity. Radiance. There are so many health benefits to fruits and vegetables, but making skin prettier is number one in my book.

How do you get 5 colors a day? I have a few suggestions. Fruit and vegetable colors to choose from daily are green, red, blue/purple, yellow, orange, and white. So in 1 day, you can have strawberries, carrots, a salad with lettuces and tomatoes, cauliflower or a pear, and some grapes. There you go. Easy! And when these are out of season, go for the frozen food section. I have frozen berries in my freezer all winter long. I add them to yogurt or a smoothie for a fresh snack.

Get 5 colors a day into your diet and your skin will thank you! Eating more fruits and vegetables has other benefits. As mentioned earlier, increasing these in your diet will increase your fiber, which is a great thing. Most americans do not hit the recommended 25-30 grams of fiber adults need in their diet daily.

Also, fruits and veggies have lots of water. If you are one of the folks that don’t drink enough water, this is a great way to increase your hydration, which is also great for your skin. Proper hydration increases elasticity and tone, so if you don’t drink your water, get it through fruits and vegetables!

Eating 5 colors a day is not only great for you, but it is a wonderful way to introduce new foods to your family. It increases your nutrients and fiber, plus it is a super easy way to begin a healthy habit for both your self and your family that can last a lifetime. Not only is it a fantastic change for any busy moms diet, it is an easy way to think about getting the essential fruits and veggies you need every day.

Adding variety and counting your colors will promote healthy eating for your family in a fun way that is easy to remember. And let’s face it. It is easier to remind your sometimes emotional and moody teen (I used to be one and currently have 3 of them!) what colors to eat instead of telling them to eat more fruits and veggies. Get beautiful from the inside out. Start eating more colors, and you can throw those expensive beauty creams away!