Tag Archives: vitamins

Beet the Heat

16 Aug

Beets are the best.  Roasted.  Pickled.  Sautéed.  Cold.  Hot.  Beets are great as a side dish with balsamic vinegar and goat cheese.  They are delicious roasted along side other vegetables.  I’ve even eaten them right out of the can.  Being raised in the midwest, vegetables were always on our dinner table, but somehow beets got overlooked. So how did I get hooked?

My love affair with this herbaceous plant began in adulthood.  The first time I tried beets was a happy surprise.  I was tired of my usual repertoire of veggies and decided to try beets.  In the grocery store one day, I impulsively grabbed a fresh bunch of beets with the intention of simply roasting them.

I brought them home, put the beets on the counter, and stared them down.  Hhhmmmm.  This would be an adventure.  I washed them and laid them on paper towels.  Off came the green tops.  I peeled the fresh beets, placed them on a baking sheet, drizzled some olive oil over them, and into the oven they went.  The beets cooked up beautifully.  One taste and I was hooked.

But the thought of those greens going to waste was unthinkable.  Out of curiosity, I pinched off a green and popped it into my mouth expecting it to be tough and woody.  I was delighted to find the greens tender and flavorful.  Oh heck yes!  I would find a way to eat the greens too!  That was many seasons ago…

Now summer is on the horizon. I am beginning to think grilled, chilled and easy.   I do not want my oven on this time of year.  What is the best way to enjoy beets this season?  Piled on a garden fresh crisp salad!

But first, let’s chat for a second about the virtues of beets.  Some would say they are not a desirable or sexy vegetable, or even a popular one.  But since they are packed full of vitamins and minerals, and so versatile, beets cannot be overlooked.

The health benefits of including beets in the diet are numerous.  They are a good source of fiber, have lots of vitamin C, and are high in folate and potassium.  Beets are also a rich source of antioxidants, compounds that prevent disease and the damaging effects of oxidation of cells throughout your body.  They are very low in fat, and certainly don’t need a lot of added fat to make them taste good.

While they come in many varieties, we most often see the “blood turnip”, or red beet. They are a root vegetable, like a carrot or potato and they like to grow in cool weather.  They are available canned all year long, but we see them seasonally featured in the spring and the fall.

And remember how I said it was not considered a sexy vegetable?  Well think again.  Fruits and vegetables, like herbs, were used in ancient times as medicine.  One of the first known medicinal uses for the beet was as an aphrodisiac in ancient Greece.  There.  I said it.

Anywhoooo….beets are very easy to prepare.  If they are fresh, they can simply be peeled, drizzled with olive oil and roasted.  They are also wonderful diced and  sautéed.  Canned beets are fabulous hot or cold.  Simply open the can, rinse the beets, and toss them on a salad.  They can also be heated and enjoyed as a simple side dish.

Back to those green tops for a minute.  If you have fresh beets with the greens, do not throw those away!  The greens are also a nutrient dense food and adaptable to many dishes.  Like beets, the greens can be enjoyed raw, such as mixed with other greens in your summer salad.  They can also be sautéed much like spinach, in a little olive oil.  Season them a bit with salt and pepper, and you’ve got another phenomenal side dish.

If you’ve tried beets and didn’t like them, try them again.  If you’ve never tried them, its time to add some variety to your diet.  The health benefits  of beets are plentiful, they are budget friendly, and just plain delicious.  Let your own impulses go wild, pick up some beets up at the farmers marker or grocer, and begin your own adventure!

Delicious cold beets piled on a fresh summer salad! Yum!

Delicious cold beets piled on a fresh summer salad! Yum!

Superfoods – another one!

11 Aug

The last super food that we covered was cabbage.  If you missed it, read it here.  https://busymomswellness.com/2014/05/26/blast-into-super-foods/

Since that post, I am confident that you have embraced this superfood, and are ready to add another one into your diet.  Ready for another super food to try?  Here we go!  Bonus…the next superfood is not a cruciferous vegetable, so no worries about the, ahem, gas issue.  It is avocado.  This is a fun one.

Avocados are, like cabbage, a flexible food.  It is also super easy to prepare.  An avocado has about 4 grams of protein per fruit and is low in sugar.  Plus, they are rich n vitamin K, B vitamins, and have more potassium than a banana.   Still need convincing?  Consider that an avocado also contains half of the daily recommended amount of fiber, about 11 grams.  (Okay, so maybe the fiber may be a bit gas producing, but you gotta consider the benefits and not just the…uumm…possible farts). Anything with avocado is terrific in my book.

Some folks shy away from this powerhouse fruit because it contains fat.  True, it does, so adding it in the diet needs to be in moderation.  But the fat in an avocado is monounsaturated, the “good” kind of fat.  This fat can actually lower cholesterol, some studies suggest.  So indulge.

When shopping for avocados, do not be deterred by ugly fruit.  I actually prefer ugly fruit because I feel like it is less “processed” or “treated” than pretty perfect fruit.  The avocado is ripe when is gives slightly to pressure.  It should be a bit soft.  Haas avocados are smaller than other avocados, but I like them all.  This is a Florida avocado.

A recent avocado that graced my kitchen.  Ugly but delicious!

A recent avocado that graced my kitchen. Ugly but delicious!

What to do with an avocado you ask?  The easiest thing to do is slice it up and eat it.  Or layer it on a sandwich.  Dice it up and toss it in a salad.  I had it for breakfast one morning for a powerhouse post workout meal.  How?  I turned the oven to 375 degrees.  I sliced an avocado in half and took the pit out.  Then I added an egg to one half where the pit was removed.  Yup.  Sure did.  And I put it on a baking sheet into a hot oven while I showered.  After about 20 minutes the egg was cooked in the avocado to perfection.  I pulled it out of the oven added some low fat cheese, then popped it back in the oven for a few minutes.  Voila!  A breakfast packed with nutrients, protein, and flavor.  I treat avocados like a baked potato sometimes.  Load ’em up!

My baked avocado breakfast.  So flavorful and nutritious.  A fantastic post workout breakfast.

My baked avocado breakfast. So flavorful and nutritious. A fantastic post workout breakfast.

Whats next?  Predictable but never to be overlooked, the avocado is the star of guacamole.  If you have the fixings, making guacamole is a must with any avocado.  And it is so simple.  Lime, tomatoes, cilantro, and maybe some hot peppers if you are adventurous are all you need for great guacamole.  One of the best things about making this is that it is totally customizable.  You can make it as spicy, as creamy, or as chunky as you prefer.  The moanable moment is in the “add ins”, such as hot peppers, onions, or sour cream.Let me show you my guacamole.  Start with mashing up an avocado and add just a few things.  Then load up your chip, your taco, or spread it on your sandwich.

When making anything with avocado, keeping the pit in it, such as in the guacamole, keeps it from turning brown.  So does adding a bit of lemon or lime juice to it.  Either way, enjoy this fantastic nutrient packed superfood in many ways.  Let me know what you do with your new superfood!

Fresh guacamole!  Fabulous and flexible!

Fresh guacamole! Fabulous and flexible!

 

Stir in lime, cilantro, and tomatoes to avocado.  Nothing short of delicious!

Stir in lime, cilantro, and tomatoes to mashed up avocado. Nothing short of delicious!

Breakfast-A New Idea

19 Jun

Guess what?  I had the most wonderful breakfast this morning, and it came about quite unexpectedly. That made it all the more special!  Since it is a weekday, I enjoyed my breakfast in my office when I got to work.  Folks popped in to say good morning, I pursued my emails and began a planning a presentation I am giving at a meeting next week.  All while slowly eating my delicious breakfast.  Why did I was slowly?  Let me tell you.

Your mother was right.  Really?  Did I just say that?  Sure did.  What was mom right about?  Besides just about every thing?  (Haha!  I can say that because I am a mom, and moms enjoy being right occasionally!) Your mother was right when she saw you wolfing your food way too fast and told you to slow down.  Eating slowly really is best for you.  Why?

Chewing food, called mastication (no naughty jokes please), is an important but often rushed part of digestion.  Chewing starts saliva flowing, crucial for digestion, and can strengthen the jaw muscles.  Also, the “full” signal to your brain takes about 20 minutes, so chewing and swallowing slowly means being more in tune with your “fullness” signals.  In other words, that helps in natural portion control.  Fullness is actually two fold: the stomach fills and the brain signals fullness.  Best to have those working in tandem and eating slowly helps that process stay more aligned with one another.

Its easy to see why eating fast can mean eating more.  But there is another compelling reason to eat more slowly.  It can quiet the mind.  You can actually feel more relaxed and satisfied with your meal if you partake in mindful eating.  To savor your food and better enjoy your dining companions, slow down.

But let’s get back to the weekday morning breakfast that I was slowly enjoying in my office.  When leaving for work, I grabbed some leftover quinoa, blueberries, and greek yogurt out of the fridge.  I went ahead and mixed them together for a powerhouse breakfast.  It was delicious!  Nutrient dense, low calorie, and loaded with flavor and texture.  And I ate it slowly…

Blueberries and quinoa.  A great start...

Blueberries and quinoa. A great start…

Then I tossed them into my yogurt.  It was super yummy!

Then I tossed them into my yogurt. It was super yummy!

 

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.

Oranges
Grapefruit
Lemons
Bananas
Apricots
Nectarines
Mangos
Peaches
Cantaloupe
Pineapple
Papaya
Carrots
Sweet potatoes
Pumpkin
Squash
Corn
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!

Seven Super Spices Wrapup

7 Jan

Okay, we have had fun talking about spices.  The seven super spices we discovered (or rediscovered) are cumin, cinnamon, oregano, ginger, turmeric, sage, and clove.  There has been time to process information about these super spices and start using them.  Adding them to food has so many benefits.  Making foods with spices, such as ginger tea, is also a way to take steps toward better health.  Lets just take a quick peek at the general benefits of using spices.

  • Spices are a concentrated form of antioxidants.  Antioxidants, at the very core, protect cells from damage.  Cells are the building blocks on which we rely for our body to perform at its best.  Antioxidants allow us to build a better wellness foundation from the inside out!
  • Many spices have anti inflammatory properties.  This can allow our bodies to naturally decrease pain from inflammation, such as arthritic pain.
  • Many spices have beneficial fiber-a great way to help cleanse the body.
  • Spices are naturally vitamin and mineral rich in a concentrated form.
  • Some spices can be used to relieve nausea.
  • Many spices are beneficial to the digestive system.  They promote positive gastrointestinal activity.
  • Spices add savory flavors to food, encouraging healthier eating habits.
  • Some spices help regulate blood sugar, a big plus for diabetics.

They are simple to add to your daily diet, and can immediately benefit from their medicinal properties.  It can be as simple as this: Make a dry meat rub by mixing 1 tablespoon each of basil, oregano, parsley, rosemary, and thyme.  Toss these spices into a bowl, mix them up a bit, and rub them on pork or chicken.  Spritz the meat with a bit of olive oil and bake.  Easy Peasy!

There is our series, and our wrap-up.  Let me know how you are adding spices to your cooking!

Go Orange!

15 Mar

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 wellness, and green salads can be an easy way to get a variety of vegetables.

But let’s get past the green.  I have blogged about eating 5 colors a day.  Counting colors is also a great way to get a wonderful array of vitamins and minerals.  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.  But you already knew that, didn’t you?

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.

Oranges
Grapefruit
Lemons
Bananas
Apricots
Nectarines
Mangos
Peaches
Cantaloupe
Pineapple
Papaya
Carrots
Sweet potatoes
Pumpkin
Squash
Corn
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.  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!

You can’t beat a beet!

12 Jun

Beautiful roasted beets!

I have always enjoyed beets.  But for some reason, I have totally gotten into them lately.  Maybe its just that they are in season, inexpensive, and just so darn delicious!  They are amazing grilled.  Roasted in the oven makes them sweeter!  They can even simply be boiled, cooled, peeled, sliced, and chilled.  They can then be enjoyed in a salad.

First, let’s chat about the nutritional value of a beet.  Beets are a root vegetable like a carrot.  They are in season right now.  They contain significant amounts of folate and vitamin C.  Beets are also rich in niacin, vitamin B6, iron, potassium and magnesium.  In other words, beets are loaded with vitamins and minerals.  And bonus!  The red color is a fabulous antioxidant!  (Gentle reminder…antioxidants are great for cell rejuvenation, which can help our organs function better and keep wrinkles at bay!).

Now, onto getting the beets from the garden or market to the table.  If you grab beets in the grocery store, look for firm round beets with nice green stems and leaves.  When you get ready to cook them, wash them up and cut off the greens.  Do not throw those greens away though!  Chop them up and toss them into a salad.  If a salad is not on the menu that day, wrap the greens in a damp paper towel and put them in the fridge.  They will make the most flavorful addition to your next salad!  Promise!

OK.  Back to cooking the beets.  The beets can be peeled, cut into quarters, and spread out onto a baking sheet.  Drizzle a bit of olive oil on then, sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Toss into a 400 degree oven until tender, about  35-45 minute, depending on the size of the beet.  Check doneness with a fork.

Beets are also fantastic on the grill.  Simply grill them on a little pan or some foil.  Again, just wash, peel, and quarter them, add a little olive oil, salt and pepper, and toss them on.  Close the grill lid and let the grill do its job.  I have also tossed beets onto the grill in a pouch made from tin foil.  I literally made a loose pouch around the beets out of tin foil and placed on the grill.

Beets with crumbled goat cheese and walnuts.

I have served beets right off the grill.  I have also added a little crumbled goat cheese and walnuts over the top of warm beets.  I have taken leftover beets and added them to a cold lettuce salad.  Some mandarin oranges are also a great addition to a salad of greens and beets.  Sweet surprise…I have gotten fresh ravioli stuffed with beets at the farmers market.  3 minutes in boiling water, a little parmesan cheese or a simple white sauce over the top, and call it a big huge yum!

Any way you cook them, beets are packed with flavor, nutrition, and antioxidants.  As you can see below, I have grilled them with summer squash.  The colors together are fantastic and make a beautiful presentation.  Get creative or go easy and simple.  Any way you decide to prepare beets, it will be a winning dish.

Simple Grilled Beets! Yum!