Carrots, Cumin & Coriander Salad – A Trifecta of Flavor

Fresh CarrotsSummer is the best time of year to find fresh, crisp, delicious carrots at your local farmers’ market. While they are available year round, there is nothing like the taste of picked-today veggies; not to mention these wonderful foods are at their peak nutritionally during the summer months.

Some people think carrots are not very exciting.  They often see them as low-calorie snack foods to endure or merely some “color on a plate” rather than the incredibly versatile food they truly are. Carrots are indeed a great snack food (and they are certainly a low calorie option) but they are also excellent when made into soup, included in a stew, roasted with some herbs as a side dish, added to muffins and, my personal favorite, as the lead actor in my Carrots, Cumin & Coriander raw summer salad that is so full of flavor you’ll want seconds.

For my salad recipe, I happened to use the more common orange carrots; but you can certainly use a variety of colors: red, purple, yellow, white and orange to make your salad a beautiful rainbow of color on  your plate.  Make sure you select the freshest, brightest carrots available – the ones with the tops still on are a good bet!

Carrots, Cumin & Coriander Salad – A Trifecta of Flavor

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 10 minutes

Yield: 4 - 6 Servings

Carrots, Cumin & Coriander Salad – A Trifecta of Flavor

The dressing can be made ahead of time and refrigerated (covered) for up to 24 hours. This will allow the flavors to blend together and will save time when ready to serve. Make sure the avocado is not too soft - you want it to be a little firm so it will hold up. While the cayenne or chili pepper is optional, it does add a lovely little kick to this salad.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb fresh carrots
  • 4 stalks fresh crisp celery
  • 1 medium avocado
    For Dressing
  • 1/4 cup organic EVOO
  • 1 Tsp cumin
  • 1/2 Tsp coriander
  • 1/2 Tsp garlic powder
  • 2 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/4 Tsp chili powder or pinch of cayenne (optional)

Instructions

  1. Wash and trim carrots. There is no need to peel. Shred in food processor and remove to large bowl.
  2. Finely chop celery and add to bowl.
  3. Chop avocado into small pieces and add to carrots and celery IF serving immediately. Otherwise, prepare avocado just before serving and toss into salad at last minute to avoid any browning.
  4. Whisk all dressing ingredients in a small bowl.
  5. Add dressing to veggies and toss.
https://jazzedupveggies.com/2016/06/carrots-cumin-coriander-salad-a-trifecta-of-flavor/

Why Carrots Make a Healthy Food Choice

Carrots are an excellent source of Vitamin A – especially important for eye health as well as having overall antioxidant and anti-inflammatory qualities. In fact, 1 cup of carrots provides 113% of your daily recommended intake of Vitamin A.

Carrots are also a very good source of biotin (an important B Complex vitamin that helps convert food into energy), Vitamin K for cell health (particularly brain cell health), molybdenum to help our bodies detoxify, 14% of our daily requirement of fiber to keep our digestive tract in good shape, 11% of our daily potassium requirement, and 10% of our Vitamin C requirement.  Carrots are also a high water-content food so they make a great addition to your hydration needs. NOTE:  Drinking water throughout the day is the best way to stay hydrated – foods like carrots, celery and watermelon are awesome supplements.

BONUS:  Carrots are a low calorie, nutritionally awesome, very affordable food. They are easy to prepare and very portable.  Take them on a picnic, add them to your lunch, enjoy them after fitness class or school…. they are a healthy whole food to enjoy every day.

Picnic-Perfect Potato & Sweet Pepper Salad

Summer

Hooray, it’s picnic season! Who doesn’t enjoy packing a picnic basket full of delicious summer foods and heading to your favorite park, or beach, or a secluded hilltop to enjoy the great outdoors and break bread with friends and family or maybe even spend some alone time to destress from a busy week? It is easy to work up quite an appetite when enjoying the outdoors: swimming, building sandcastles, hiking, playing games etc; so the temptation to fill up on empty calories from salty chips, sugary sodas, and fat-filled sweets is very strong; however, taking good care of your health by eating nutritious foods is just as important on a picnic as it is every day at home. Yes, your choices need to be fairly portable, easy to prepare and serve, and packed safely to prevent food-bourne illness; but this is pretty easy to accomplish with a little preparation.

There are many great recipes available for simple yet nutritious picnic fare. One I particularly love is my Sweet & Peppery Summer Salad.  Should you want to “cook” while enjoying the outdoors, my Black Bean Burgers are a great choice. They will sizzle in no time on a grill or outdoor cooktop and I know will be a big hit with everyone. A delicious staple of picnics everywhere is a potato salad but it can come with some hefty calories and often unhealthy ingredients.  Here is my recipe for a delicious but healthier, plant-based version of this picnic favorite that is truly easy to prepare.

Picnic-Perfect Potato & Sweet Pepper Salad

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 60 minutes

Yield: 6 servings

Picnic-Perfect Potato & Sweet Pepper Salad

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Wash, halve and steam potatoes until just fork tender (about 25 minutes) Drain and rinse gently with cold water to stop cooking process. Cut potato pieces in half again. Let cool.
  2. Use the Healthy Saute method to slightly soften and bring out the flavor of the chopped peppers (Healthy Saute: bring 3 Tbsp of vegetable broth or water to bubbling, add peppers, cover and cook for no more than 3 minutes. Drain.) Let peppers cool.
    For Dressing:
  1. Combine Just Mayo, Yellow Mustard, smoked paprika, dill weed and salt. Cover and refrigerate until ready to blend into potato mixture.
    To Pack or Serve
  1. In a large bowl add potatoes, celery and sweet peppers. Add dressing. Mix gently.
  2. When serving, sprinkle potato salad with small amount of dill weed and paprika.

Notes

Keep all picnic foods cold with ice packs/bags of ice in your picnic basket/cooler until ready to serve. Serve only when ready to eat. Do not let foods sit out in the sun/heat.

https://jazzedupveggies.com/2016/06/picnic-perfect-potato-sweet-pepper-salad/

Plant-Based Nutrition Information

potatoesPotatoes are the stars of this recipe.  Often considered inexpensive comfort food and frequently consumed as unhealthy fast food; potatoes can actually provide awesome nutrition if they are prepared in a healthy way! This recipe calls for steaming the potatoes rather than boiling them.  This prevents the nutrients from being boiled away into the water and ensures the potatoes do not become too soft. Leaving the skins on the potato also increases the already high fiber content of this important food.

Potatoes are a very good source of Vitamin B6 – the cell-builder vitamin. B6 is very important for keeping our brain cells functioning and for supporting our nervous system. Our body’s production of serotonin (happiness), melatonin (sleep), epinephrine and norepinephrine (for stress management) needs vitamin B6. B6 also supports our cardiovascular system by helping to keep homocysteine levels low (homocysteine damages our blood vessels). Potatoes are also a good source of potassium, copper, Vitamin C, manganese, phosphorus, niacin and pantothenic acid.

Sweet Bell Pepper

Sweet Bell Peppers are AWESOME! One cup of these incredible veggies has only 29 calories – pretty incredible for a food that tastes so good, right? Sweet Bell Peppers are an outstanding source of Vitamin C – just one cup will give you 157% of your recommend daily intake of this important vitamin.Sweet Bell Peppers are also a very good source of Vitamin B6, Vitamin A, and folate. BONUS: these peppers have 30 different carotenoids that provide antioxidant and anti-inflammatory support to our bodies. Good things do come in small packages!

The nutrients we derive from these delicious veggies are at their peak when the peppers are fully ripe.  How do you know if they are ripe?  Your best evidence is in their color: when the color is deep and vivid they are likely ready to eat.  Another bit of evidence is if the pepper feels heavy for its size and if the pepper feels firm but yields very slightly to pressure.

celeryCelery is an awesome veggie that adds great texture (crunch) to my potato salad and a lovely color against the white flesh of the potatoes. Celery has been a go-to veggie for anyone trying to keep their caloric intake in check; but I wonder how many people really understand how valuable this veggie is to our daily nutritional requirements!

Celery is an excellent source of Vitamin K – a vitamin necessary for blood clotting. Vitamin K is also very important for our bone health.

Celery also has very special anti-inflammatory benefits – particularly for our digestive tract.  Celery is an important source of molybdenum – a mineral that helps our bodies detoxify by keeping the sulfer in our system in balance. Celery is a good source of folate, potassium and manganese as well.

I’ve talked a lot about the need to stay hydrated – especially in the summer – and celery can play a role in this essential task. Celery is 95% water – and while just eating celery won’t keep you hydrated, every little bit helps.


NOTE:  If you are unable to find Just Mayo from Hampton Creek for this recipe at your grocery store, Veganaise from Follow Your Heart is a very good alternative. In fact, I use both these products regularly.

It’s Heating Up – Hydrate Your Body With Plant-Based Foods

 

The best, most efficient way to keep your body hydrated is to drink water. As I discussed in my blog post “Infused Water – Stay Hydrated this Summer”, drinking water is a good thing to do but not very exciting so most of us don’t drink enough. Still, water does its job and has no calories, so if you want to hydrate your body and watch your calorie intake, plain old water is for you.

HOWEVER, if you want to add a little zest to your daily water requirements, here are some great ways to hydrate your body with plant-based foods. Just clean and enjoy. It’s just  that simple.

  • Watermelon has a very high water content – 92%. And, it is so sweet and delicious. And, it is very nutritious, And, it is very affordable this time of year. Best part: watermelon is very, very low in calories. So what’s not to love about watermelon? Need more: it is an excellent source of lycopene – a carotenoid that has been found to help protect against free radicals, enhance the functioning of our immune system and promote eye and lung health. (kind of important, right) AND it is an excellent source of vitamin C. Boom!
  • Canteloupe has a water content of 90%. It, too, is incredibly delicious and nutritious; and also low in calories – 1 cup = 56 calories. Awesome! Cantaloupe is an excellent source of vitamins A & C and beta-carotene (another carotenoid phytonutrient).
  • Berries such as strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries, to name a few, also have high water content – from 88% to 91% – and are rich in vitamins, fiber, and phenolic phytonutrients. Berries are convenient, readily available, versatile, and extra-super delicious. They are perfect “little finger” foods for children, are just right for a mid-day snack, fit nicely into a packed lunch and are one of the best “sharing” foods.
  • Cucumbers are one of my favorite veggies. They are crisp, cool and refreshing. Cucumbers have a whopping 96% water content; that must be why they are so compatible with revitalizing drinks such as infused water. Additional benefits to eating cucumbers include: they are high in vitamin C, are a good source of vitamin A, folate, potassium ad manganese; and, if you need more incentive to choose this scrumptious plant-based food, they are low in calories. 1 cup = 14 measly little calories.
  • Celery is another favorite summertime plant-based food that will help keep you hydrated. Celery is 95% water and is an excellent source of vitamins K and C. I love the crunchy nature of celery and it serves as the perfect vessel for almond or peanut butters. It is a portable snack perfect for dipping and, BONUS, it is really low in calories – almost hardly worth counting!
  • Radish is the little veggie that is often overlooked; but when you discover how uniquely tasty it is, you’ll wonder its not always in your fridge. I love the peppery flavor it adds to my salads. Radishes have many great nutrients such as vitamin C & B6, copper, manganese, and folate and is an incredible source of fiber. Again, I sense a theme here, radishes are very high in water content – 95% – and a calorie-watcher’s friend; only 9 calories in 1/2 cup. I recently enjoyed some black radishes. Their flavor profile was not much different from the red radishes we see commonly in grocery stores, but I loved them for the color they added to the plate.

There are plenty of other delicious, nutritious, low calorie, plant-based foods that can help you hydrate your body. Spinach (91%), cauliflower(92%), tomatoes(94%), broccoli(90%), sweet peppers(92%), zucchini(95%), apples(84%), grapefruit(91%), eggplant(92%) Add some to your meals every day along with drinking some fresh, clean, delicious, infused water, and you’ll have no problem meeting or exceeding your body’s water needs.

Got some great suggestions for hydrating with plant-based foods? Share them with Jazzed Up Veggies and our readers by commenting below.

****Please take a moment to open and view the graphic below. It contains some important food safety tips for fresh produce.

Tips for food safety of fresh produce

Fettuccine That Will Rock Your World

Cooking fettuccine with red chardEvery once in awhile I amaze myself by coming up with a meal that is so incredible I have to remind myself it wasn’t catered.  This is definitely restaurant quality without the restaurant price.  This fettuccine recipe is so simple, is ready in just 20 minutes, and costs only $1.50 per serving.  What’s not to like about that!

The ingredient that makes this recipe so special is Organic Red Chard.  I know what you are thinking ’cause I used to think it too: what am I supposed to do with those great big chard leaves and should I eat the stems?  Well, what you do with them is wash them,  chop them up stems and all into bite sized pieces, and add them to any number of recipes: salads, sandwiches, smoothies…..you get the idea.  The color is fantastic – the bright green leaves and lovely red stems will make any plate look terrific; and the taste and texture are simply delicious. However, what really piques my interest in this awesome veggie is its nutritional value and its just so budget friendly there is really no good excuse for not including it in your daily whole food, plant-based diet.


red chard leaves and stemsChard Nutrition Facts

Chard is a very low calorie (only 35 calories per 1-cup serving), nutrient rich vegetable. It is an excellent source of many important vitamins and minerals and is rich in carotenoids (beta-carotene & lutein) that protect your cells from free radicals, help your immune system function, and promote lung and eye health. Chard is especially rich in Vitamin K, an important vitamin that prevents oxidative cell damage, allows your blood to clot normally and protests against osteoporosis. Chard is also an excellent source of Vitamin A that supports our eyesight and helps us fight viral infections. A nutrient most of us do not get enough of – FIBER – is a key nutrient in Chard as well.  There are nearly 4 grams of fiber in a 1 cup serving.

What about protein? This recipe offers lots of protein, including that provided by the chard. A 1-cup serving of chard provides 3.3 grams of protein. Add that to the fettuccini, tomatoes, non-dairy yogurt and non-dairy milk and you have more than enough protein  in this delicious meal.

To get the most benefit from chard, you can add it raw to your morning smoothie, toss it in a salad, use it in a sandwich, or, as in this recipe, just cook it for a few minutes. The longer you cook it the less nutrition you will derive. The bonus to only cooking for a very short time is the stems will have a tiny bit of crunch which just adds a textural layer to this dish that everyone will enjoy.


Fettuccine That Will Rock Your World

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 20 minutes

Yield: 4 servings

Fettuccine That Will Rock Your World

This is a super easy, very quick recipe you can have on the table in 20 minutes. The bona chia spinach fettuccine provides 8 grams of protein per serving (1/2 cup). The chard, yogurt and non-dairy milk add another 6 grams per serving. You will also be getting lots of vitamins and minerals in this dish; but the best part is it is scrumptious. Try it!

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Heat oil over medium on stove top
  2. Add garlic - saute for 30 seconds
  3. Add onion - saute for 1 minute
  4. Add chard and tomatoes - simmer while preparing fettuccine
  5. Bring pot of water to boil for fettuccine
  6. Add spinach fettuccine - reduce heat to medium high
  7. Cook for 3 minutes - DO NOT OVERCOOK
  8. Remove fettuccine and drain
  9. Combine yogurt, milk and Go Veggie parmesan in bowl
  10. Add to chard mixture
  11. Add drained fettuccine to chard mixture
  12. Stir gently for 1 - 2 minutes
  13. Serve with vegan parmesan sprinkled on top

Notes

To add a little extra pizazz to this recipe, chop up a few sun dried tomatoes to add with the fire roasted tomatoes. You don't need many but sun dried tomatoes will add an extra layer of depth and flavor to this already awesome meal.

https://jazzedupveggies.com/2016/04/fettuccine-that-will-rock-your-world/


EARTH DAY 2016-2Earth Day will be celebrated on April 22 but you really don’t need a special day, once a year, to celebrate the beauty and abundance our Earth provides.

You can help our planet by planting a tree. You will be providing a home for birds, perhaps some blossoms for bees, some shade for humans and contribute to clean air for everyone.

Check out the celebrations going on in your community or plan your own celebrations.  There are plenty of ideas to get you started at EarthDay.org.

Asparagus – I adore this awesome antioxidant-rich veggie

IMG_3538

Asparagus is one of my very favorite veggies.  As a warm side dish or a cold snack, fresh asparagus is so delicious, has a satisfying crunch, and for a bonus, is packed with awesome nutrition. I even loved asparagus as a child – mom didn’t need to keep telling me to eat this vegetable!  Fresh asparagus is now available in many farmers’ markets and shops, and as this is the season for asparagus, the price is great. I purchased 2 pounds of fresh organic asparagus for a dinner party this week and paid only $1.99 per pound.  There was plenty for all six of us and enough left over to send in my husband’s lunch the next day.

A POWERHOUSE OF NUTRITION

  • Excellent source of Vitamin K, Folate, Vitamin C & Vitamin A
    Vitamin K supports bone health, helps your blood to clot normally, and protects your cells from oxidative damage. Folate supports our circulation and prevents our blood from high levels of homocysteine (associated with cardiovascular disease). Folate also helps make red blood cells that carry oxygen throughout our bodies, supports cell production( i.e. skin cells, intestinal cells), and provides critical support to our nervous system. Vitamin C offers excellent antioxidant protection, regenerates our vitamin E supplies, assists with iron absorption and is believed to lower cancer risk.
  • Protein and Fiber
    Yes, asparagus is a very good source of protein – 4.7 grams per cup. The cool thing is, this awesome plant food also supplies 2.9 grams of fiber per cup – animal protein does not offer any fiber (just sayin’).
  • Other Nutrients
    Asparagus is a very good source of Thiamin, Riboflavin and Niacin – important B vitamins; phosphorus, potassium, copper and manganese.  It is also a good source of iron, zinc, magnesium, selenium and calcium.

It is remarkable that such a small, unassuming plant can be so powerful, right? Now, here’s even better news: asparagus is a very low calorie food too.  There are only 43 calories in a 1-cup serving.  So to recap: you get great flavor and texture, awesome nutrition and almost no calories. Who wouldn’t like that?

The best way to prepare asparagus is to cook only until it is al dente. Asparagus is great on the grill, but I like it roasted. Here is my simple recipe for delicious roasted asparagus that is awesome warm or cold.  Enjoy!

Roasted Asparagus with Lemon Zest

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 15 minutes

Yield: 4 - 6

Serving Size: 4 - 5 stems

Roasted Asparagus with Lemon Zest

Roasted asparagus is great cold so add it to your packed lunch. It is delicious in a salad too. Of course, it makes a wonderful side dish for a light lunch or dinner. For a slightly fancier and even more nutritious side dish, toss the cooked asparagus with slivered almonds.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb fresh, organic asparagus - washed and thick ends removed
  • Organic Virgin Olive Oil (only enough to very lightly coat asparagus)
  • Lemon Zest ( I prefer to use Meyer Lemons)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 F
  2. Prepare baking sheet with parchment paper (for easy clean-up)
  3. Add oil and lemon zest to glass baking dish
  4. Add asparagus and coat evenly
  5. Spread evening on baking sheet - leave room between each stem for even cooking
  6. Roast for 10 minutes - until just al dente
  7. Serve warm as a side dish or cool and refrigerate for a snack

Notes

Don't overcook asparagus. Cooking too much will deplete all the incredible nutrients this wonderful vegetable offers. No one likes mushy asparagus so less is definitely more when cooking.

https://jazzedupveggies.com/2016/03/asparagus-i-adore-this-awesome-antioxidant-rich-veggie/

10 Tactics to Keep Your Immune System Fit to Fight

There is a battle going on everyday in our bodies between good and evil with the outcome determined by whether or not our immune system is fit to fight.  Some of the enemy – a few too many bad bacteria or a mild but annoying virus – might be easy to take down; but fighting off an army of bad bacteria or a viral epidemic presents the need for a more sophisticated defense strategy.

Here are 10 actions you can take to keep your immune system fit to fight:

Organic

Build up your immune system by eating organic plant-based foods every day. Organic is important here because all the pesticides, insecticides, antibiotics and hormones used in non-organic foods negatively affect your body’s natural ability to maintain good health. Your liver puts up a pretty good fight, but it can only do so much to remove these toxins from your body; so why not give your liver a break and just don’t let these noxious substances in! Did you know that the regular use (or misuse) of antibiotics in our food supply is largely responsible for the dangers we now face from antibiotic resistant bacteria?

 

Eat plenty of vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, mushrooms and herbs to keep your immune system in tip-top shape.  Vegetables and fruits provide the vitamins and minerals your immune system needs.  They are rich sources of antioxidants – a special ops team that seeks out and destroys free radicals that are just waiting to cause havoc.  Veggies and fruits are full of vitamin A carotenoids, the anti-infective calvary) and vitamin C (an important side-kick to vitamin A). They also provide vitamin B6, folic acid, iron and zinc that keep our cells (thus immune system) strong. Nuts and seeds provide critical support by supplying selenium and zinc. Selenium is a component of glutathione peroxidase, an essential enzyme used by your liver to detoxify potentially harmful molecules. Zinc also helps keep our immune cells functioning at their best. Mushrooms, particularly shiitake and maitake, are excellent immune-boosting foods. There are plenty of herbs that are known to support our immune system. Some of them are  ginger, elderberry, ginseng, echinacea, garlic, larch and oregano.

h2osecurity-background-h2o2Drink water. Keeping your body hydrated has a big impact on your immune system. Your body’s systems need water to function at their best. Sufficient water intake helps to flush toxins out of your body and it helps to properly oxygenate your blood. Your body needs lymph to transport white blood cells, a critical element of your immune system, throughout your body.  Water helps your body produce lymph so if you want your white blood cells to do their job, drink water!

Get some sleep!  You can’t perform at your best when you are tired; neither can your immune system. We all know this – at least on a cerebral level, but accomplishing it is often another thing. Most sleep experts agree we need to unplug from our devices and unwind from our busy lives before we can hope to get a good night’s sleep.  There is a lot to be said for learning to meditate or practice yoga or even just be still prior to going to bed. A cup of chamomile tea might help too. Try it.

Meditation SunsetReduce stress.  There is a good reason why you hear this so often. Daily stress, the kind that we deal with at work, school, on the roadways, in our relationships…..you get the picture;  puts a lot stress on our bodies – especially our cardiovascular system and an enormous burden on our immune system’s ability to fight the good fight. If downtime is not already in your daily routine, schedule it! You absolutely need to disconnect, breathe deeply and relax throughout the day. There are plenty of ways to reduce stress: listen to music, dance, read a book, meditate, sit in your garden, talk to a friend, laugh out loud, smell the beautiful fragrance of blooming flowers, take a nap, hug someone…..the list is endless but none of these things will reduce stress unless you actually do them. Find what works best for you and DO IT!

sunshineCatch some rays. Vitamin D is necessary to a well functioning immune system. Vitamin D helps to regulate our immune system to prevent unnecessary or lengthy inflammatory responses to perceived threats.  Exposing your skin to the UVB rays of the sun is your body’s best, most efficient and effective source of vitamin D. (sunshine vitamin.org) The best time of day to get the most UVB exposure is between 10 am – 2 pm.  What a great reason to get out of the office for a break and catch some rays. You will get the vitamin D you need and can reduce your stress at the same time, BONUS!
***Note: don’t overdue sun exposure – getting burnt is not cool and can put you at risk for skin cancers. Spending 10 – 15 minutes a day catching some rays should be enough.

Exercise. You don’t have to be a professional athlete to get the awesome benefits of exercise. Just move every day – walk, ride a bike, play games outdoors with your kids, do yoga, take up tennis, swim, go on a hike, climb the stairs at work……all of these activities add up throughout the day. The benefits are incredible: your heart will get stronger, your blood will circulate better, your lungs will use oxygen more efficiently, your muscles will get stronger and your digestive system will be more effective at turning food into fuel to keep you energized and healthy.  Exercise causes the release of endorphins in your brain that contribute to a feeling of well-being and help reduce stress. Exercise also helps manage weight. Put them together and all these awesome benefits to exercise help keep your immune system fit to fight.

Maintain optimum weight. Only you and your trusted health care professional can determine what the best weight is for you based on your age, body frame, and health condition; but whatever “number” you decide upon, maintaining your optimum weight will have a very positive impact on keeping your immune system strong.  Excess weight puts extra strain on your body’s systems – making your immune system work harder to keep enemies at bay.  Eating a whole food, plant-based diet, getting exercise every day, reducing/managing stress, drinking plenty of water and getting enough sleep will go a long way to helping you achieve and maintain a healthy weight.  Your immune system will thank you for it!

If you are going to consume alcohol, do so in moderation.  Enjoying a glass of red wine or indulging in a cocktail now and again is unlikely to do much harm; but too much alcohol at one time or prolonged regular use of alcohol can do a great deal of harm. Your immune system has enough to do to keep you healthy; don’t tie it’s hands behind it’s back and expect it to do its job. Enough said.

Dont-even-think-of-it-smoking-iconDon’t smoke. I know that addiction to tobacco products is a serious problem and that quitting is very, very difficult; but the negative consequences to your health, and life for that matter, are much more difficult so quitting is really the only option. There are many, many services available to help you quit smoking – most of them free; so take advantage of them. Recruit your friends and family to help you too.  Support is key to successfully quitting smoking.  You don’t need me to tell you what smoking does to your body; but I will tell you that your body will begin to repair itself almost immediately. It will take time to fully undo the affects of smoking; but that time and effort is well worth it.

5 Good Reasons to Love Sweet Potatoes

sweet potatoes

The humble sweet potato.  It’s quite popular one day a year as a Thanksgiving side dish but I believe it really hasn’t gotten the respect it deserves the rest of the year. Why? It may not look very fancy sitting in the bin at the grocery store 11 months of the year, without all the holiday hoopla around it;  but believe me, it is worthy of being a part of your everyday, regular meal planning and here’s why:

 

Reasons to Love Sweet Potatoes

  1. Sweet potatoes have over 60 awesome nutrients to offer.
  2. They are versatile enough to be eaten alone or added to a large variety of dishes.
  3. They add visual interest through color and texture to a plate.
  4. They are budget friendly.
  5. They are really easy to prepare.

By including sweet potatoes in your regular meal rotation, your body will benefit from:

  • Antioxidant Protection: sweet potatoes are an excellent source of vitamin A and a good source of vitamin C, copper, and manganese. One small sweet potato contains over 23,000 mcg of beta-carotene – a carotenoid phytonutrient that protects our cells from free radicals, has the greatest vitamin A activity, helps our immune system function optimally, and promotes eye and lung health.
  • Blood Sugar Balance: sweet potatoes help stabilize blood sugar levels and lower insulin resistance – another benefit of the high amount of beta-carotene
  • Lung Health: Vitamin A helps support the tissues that line the lungs.
  • Eye Health: Vitamin A is important to the health of your eyes.

Here is a super easy and awesomely delicious way to prepare sweet potatoes:

Super Easy Sweet Potatoes

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 40 minutes

Yield: 6 servings

Serving Size: 8 ounces

Super Easy Sweet Potatoes

Ingredients

  • 3 lbs organic sweet potatoes, washed, peeled & quartered
  • 3 tbsp organic extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • juice of 1 lime

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400F
  2. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper
  3. In a large bowl, toss prepared sweet potatoes with olive oil
  4. Combine turmeric, salt & black pepper
  5. Sprinkle over potatoes & toss to coat evenly
  6. Spread potatoes out evenly on baking sheets leaving room between potatoes
  7. Roast for 30 minutes.
  8. Check with a fork. Potatoes should be soft to the center.
  9. Squeeze lime juice over roasted potatoes and serve.

Notes

The lime adds a little "zest" to this dish and balances the sweetness of the potatoes.

https://jazzedupveggies.com/2016/02/5-good-reasons-to-love-sweet-potatoes/


A heart shape held in handsFebruary is heart- health month. Eating a whole food, plant-based diet is good for your heart and great for our planet.  Plant-based foods are budget friendly and easy to prepare and they provide all the nutrients your body needs to be healthy. With literally thousands of different plant-foods available, you will be able to prepare something new every day. Go on, give it a try.

Think you don’t like beets? This recipe will change your mind.

When I was a young beets were not a staple in our household. I don’t know if it was because my parents weren’t keen on them or if my mom was more concerned with the kinds of permanent stains my sisters and I would inflict on our clothing and the table linens. Whatever the reason, I didn’t acquire a taste for beets until I was much older and it was probably more from accident than intention. Now beets are a regularly welcomed food in our home. Here’s why.

Beets are nutritional superheroes. They are exceptionally rich in folate, an important B-Complex vitamin that promotes heart health and supports healthy blood circulation by preventing the build-up of homocysteine in the blood, as well as aiding red blood cell production, skin cell production, and nerve function. Folate is an especially important nutrient for pregnancy due to its role in the prevention of birth defects. The red pigment found in red beets (betacyanin) and the yellow pigment found in yellow beets (betaxanthin) are known to be powerful antioxidants – the sheriffs that round up the free radicals in your body who are up to no good.  Beets are also high in manganese (for strong bones, normal blood sugar, and thyroid gland function), and potassium ( for muscle and nerve function, maintaining blood pressure and calcium levels, and keeping electrolyte and acid-base balance in your body.) Beets are also a good source of fiber and we all know how important fiber is, right?

Beet GreBeet roots and beet greens are both edible.  In fact, beet greens have excellent nutritional value, also taste great, and were the beet food of choice long before anyone figured out the root was equally nutritious and delicious.  Beets and beet greens can be eaten raw and really make a nice addition to a salad. I really love the taste of roasted beet root and love to include both the red and yellow variety in our weekly meal planning. Roasted beets are so sweet and juicy, they add incredible color to your meals, and can easily be transported for your workday meal or on a picnic.  Beets can be used in many recipes so think outside the box a little.  They are also very budget friendly. Give this recipe for Beet Fettuccini a try.  My family and guests loved it! I hope you will too.

Beet Fettuccini

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes

Total Time: 2 hours

Yield: 4 servings

Beet Fettuccini

This is a very budget friendly recipe. Total cost for ingredients was $7.69. This recipe served 4 adults for lunch. Cost per serving only $1.92. Awesome, right?

Ingredients

Instructions

    To Roast Beets
  1. Heat oven to 400F
  2. Cut beet greens off root leaving approximately 1 inch to help hold beet. Retain leaves for other use.
  3. Wash beets throughly. I use a vegetable brush to be sure to clean all the nooks and crannies.
  4. Do not dry beets.
  5. Wrap washed beets loosely in individual foil
  6. Place wrapped beets on baking sheet
  7. Roast for 50 - 60 minutes.Check periodically and add small amount of water if beets are drying out.
  8. Beets are done when a fork easily penetrates to the middle
  9. Let beets cool then remove skins.
  10. Take advantage of over space by roasting more beets than you need for this recipe. You can use them later in the week for a variety of dishes.
    Fettuccini
  1. Prepare fettuccini per package directions. Take care not to overcook.
    Beet Sauce
  1. Saute onion over medium heat for about 8 minutes. You can use a small amount of olive oil or, as I prefer, a small amount of vegetable broth. Reduce heat to low and continue cooking for additional 15 minutes.
  2. Add balsamic vinegar and mirin to onions and cook until liquid evaporates
  3. Using your food processor, shred or slice your beets
  4. Transfer onion mixture to food processor and blend with beets until mixture is smooth
  5. Taste and add salt and/or pepper if desired
  6. Transfer beet mixture to small pan on stove to keep warm
    Putting it Together
  1. Drain cooked fettuccini, reserve small amount of water
  2. Add fettuccini to beet sauce, tossing to coat. Use reserved cooking water, 1 tbsp at a time if more moisture is needed
  3. Plate fettuccini. Top with Go Veggie and serve.
https://jazzedupveggies.com/2016/02/think-you-dont-like-beets-this-recipe-will-change-your-mind/


A heart shape held in handsFebruary is heart-health month.  A whole food, plant-based diet is proven to be the best way to maintain a strong and healthy heart. Beets are a heart-healthy food and just one of the many delicious vegetables to include in your weekly menus. In addition to nutrition, beets add wonderful color to your plate.

10 Heart Healthy Proteins – Plant Based of Course

HEART HEALTHY

We need protein to build, maintain and repair our body’s tissues. The recommended dietary allowance for protein is .8 grams per kilogram of body weight. For the average moderately active 135 pound woman this translates to 48 grams of protein per day. According to the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, there are plenty of myths about protein resulting in many people consuming far more than they need. In fact, few people truly understand the risks associated with over-consumption of protein. Check out this important information from PCRM.

One of the most prevalent myths perpetuated about protein is that you can only get protein from eating animal-based foods.  This is absolutely not true. Not only can you get all the protein your body needs from plant-based foods, you also get many added benefits you can’t get from animal products like fiber and complex carbohydrates.  Here are 10 heart-healthy plant-based proteins that I encourage you to consume in place of animal protein.  You may already be consuming many of these delicious foods and not know they are great sources of protein. Try them in new ways and certainly consume them more often.

  1. Tofu/Tempeh/Seitan/Edamame
    Let’s start with Organic Tofu – such a versatile, easy to prepare, and extremely budget-friendly food. A 14oz package of Organic Tofu costs about $2 and contains 5 servings. Each serving provides 7 grams of protein and 210 mg of potassium (an important electrolyte that helps our muscles and nerves function properly). Tofu is also a very low calorie food. I often serve a tofu scramble for breakfast and love to serve baked tofu as a main course for an evening meal.Tofu with Mango SalsaOrganic Tempeh is such a versatile food and delivers 15 grams of protein, 260 mg of potassium and 7 grams of fiber in a 3oz serving.  You can purchase tempeh already prepared for you or learn to make it yourself.
    Seitan packs a whopping 18 grams of protein in a 3oz serving. It is made from wheat gluten and for many transitioning to the world of plant-based meat alternatives, it has the look and texture of meat that may aid in making the switch. Seitan can be purchased ready-made or you can learn to make it yourself. The benefits to making it yourself include controlling ingredients such as sodium and experimenting with flavors you and your family enjoy. Seitan is often available in restaurants so ask your server.
    Edamame BeansEdamame is a real favorite in our home. I love to add edamame to my salads and make hummus with it. Check out my recipe for Edamame Hummus here! Edamame are fresh, green soybeans cooked right in their pods. Edamame are easy to cook – just barely cover frozen organic edamame in water, bring to a boil for 30 seconds, drain and serve. A 1cup serving provides 17 grams of protein, 676 mg potassium, 8 grams fiber and only 189 calories.  Edamame is also an excellent source of magnesium. Magnesium is a macro mineral  that builds and strengthens our bones, keeps our blood circulating smoothly and relaxes our nerves and muscles.
  2. Lentils
    Group of lentilsLentils may be small but they are mighty! Lentils fall into the category of legumes and are believed to be one of the first foods to be cultivated. Lentils come in a variety of colors (green, brown, yellow and pink – NOTE each color cooks slightly differently) are very inexpensive, and easy to prepare. I believe it is best to buy dried lentils and store them in tightly sealed containers. If you choose canned lentils, pay attention to any added sodium or sugars. Lentils offer a whopping 18 grams of protein per cooked 1-cup serving, 15.6 grams of dietary fiber and are an excellent source of folate, a B-Complex vitamin that supports red blood cell production and allows nerves to function properly.  Lentils can be eaten as they are for a main course, added to soups and stews, used to make plant-based burgers, added to salads, and are a staple in delicious East Indian dishes.
  3. Beans
    Edamame HummusMy favorite, go-to beans are garbanzo beans (aka chickpeas). I use them for everything from sandwich filings, to curried East Indian dishes, to hummus (of course) and in salads. Garbanzo beans offer 14.5 grams of protein per cup, 12.5 grams of dietary fiber and are an excellent source of manganese that helps protect our cells from free radical damage, keeps our bones strong and healthy, and helps us maintain normal blood sugar levels.  I also keep dried black beans, navy beans, white beans, kidney beans and soy beans in my pantry (all organic).   I make milk every morning from the soy beans! Beans, especially dried beans, are very inexpensive and easy to store. They are all excellent sources of protein, typically ranging from 14 – 16 grams of protein per 1-cup serving.  Beans are very versatile; they can be served any time of day, are easily portable to work or school, and are excellent a satiating your hunger.
  4. Quinoa
    Quinoa PlantsMy regular readers know I am a big fan of quinoa. This very versatile food is not only an excellent source of protein, but the protein it supplies is complete protein that includes all nine essential amino acids.  Quinoa promotes heart health because it is an excellent source of magnesium – a mineral that relaxes the blood vessels. 1 cup of cooked quinoa delivers almost 6 grams of protein (remember that is complete protein), nearly 22% of the recommended daily requirement of iron and is an incredible source of phosphorus and manganese.
  5. Nuts
    160379603I love cashews but they can be pricey in the market so I buy my organic cashews in bulk (usually a 10lb bag) from an online supplier. Send me a note if you are interested in knowing more.  Cashews make wonderful milk and they are essential to making my salad dressings, cream, burgers, cheese cakes, and for snacking (in moderation of course). A serving of raw cashews (1/4 cup) provides 5 grams of protein and a good dose of magnesium, manganese, phosphorus and zinc. A bonus benefit of eating a small amount of cashews is they contain tryptophan that helps to promote sleep. I also keep a good supply of almonds on hand. Almonds make delicious milk. I recommend you make almond milk at home rather than buying it already made. It is so much better from scratch!  Almonds are an excellent source of manganese and vitamin E and are a concentrated source of monounsaturated fats which make them an excellent food for heart health. One-quarter cup of almonds provides 7.62 grams of protein. Other great nut choices are walnuts and pistachios.
  6. Seeds
    Chia SeedsKeep a good variety of seeds on hand because they are so good for you, taste awesome, add great texture/crunch to foods and are, once again, an excellent source of protein, omega 3s, minerals and fiber,
    Let’s start with one of my favorites, Chia Seeds. Chia seeds are a great substitute for eggs in baking, make an incredible pudding, are easy to add to your favorite smoothie, and can be popped on top of cereal for added nutrition. Flax seeds are another favorite. I buy them whole and grind them when I need them (just use my coffee bean grinder). I add ground flax seeds to my baking, smoothies, and cereal. Flax seeds are a particularly excellent source of Omega-3 fatty acids – important for optimum cardiovascular health. Sesame seeds (the tahini in hummus recipes) are a very good source of copper in addition to the 6.4 grams of protein and 4.24 grams of fiber per 1/4 cup. I buy shelled, unsalted sunflower seeds in 20lb bags. I add sunflower seeds to my almond yogurt, I eat them as a snack, I grind them up and add them to baking, and I add them to salads for added protein and crunch.  Sunflower seeds are another excellent source of Vitamin E along with 8.2 grams of protein and 3.78 grams dietary fiber per 1/4 cup serving. Try some pumpkin seeds or hemp seeds on your cereal or salad. You will get a great protein boost and treat your body to essential fatty acids and fiber.
  7. Vegetables (Yes, vegetables provide protein!)
    BroccoliSpinach is probably the best known vegetable source of protein. Just 1 cup of cooked spinach provides 5.4 grams of protein and you get the awesome added benefit of vitamins K and A, manganese, folate, magnesium, iron, vitamin C, B2, calcium, and potassium. A lot of nutrition in that little green leaf, right? While Swiss Chard doesn’t have quite as much protein, it is also an excellent choice to keep on hand. Other great vegetables that offer good protein are asparagus, Brussel sprouts, and broccoli. Note, the bonus you get with broccoli is a 1-cup serving provides 100% of the daily requirement of vitamins C and K.
  8. Mushrooms
    Mushrooms for GravyMushrooms are fantastic. They are very low in calories and exceptionally high in nutritional value – so what’s not to love! I love to experiment with different varieties of mushrooms. I tried the mushrooms pictured here in my recipe for mushroom gravy and WOW, it turned out great. An 8oz serving of shiitake mushrooms only contains 87 calories but you get 5 grams of protein, 3.6 mg of iron, 6 mg of vitamin C and 2.5 grams of fiber in return.  Now that’s a great return on your caloric investment! Crimini mushrooms are very commonly found in grocery stores and are an excellent high nutrient, low calorie food choice for everyday use. Mushrooms can be incorporated into all kinds of meals including salads, stews, spaghetti sauces, plant-based burgers, in your tofu scramble or just as a side dish.
  9. Whole Grains
    Steel Cut OatsOats are an outstanding source of protein and fiber. I typically purchase steel cut oats, pictured here, as they are the least processed. Oats offer 6.1grams of protein in a 1-cup serving as well as 4 grams of dietary fiber and several minerals our bodies need to stay healthy. There are actually over 60 nutrients available in oats! Rye provides a whopping 8.3 grams of protein in a 1-cup cooked serving and 8.2 grams of fiber.  Brown rice, with which I batch-cook an awesome brown rice pilaf, has 5 grams of protein and 3.5 grams of dietary fiber per cup. Brown rice is a good source of selenium, a mineral known to keep our blood vessels in good shape, making it an important heart-healthy food. Whole wheat and buckwheat are also great choices – good sources of protein, and high in fiber and minerals too. Choose whole grains for the best nutrition.
  10. Vegan Meat Alternatives – (meat analogues)
    There are many packaged and prepared vegan meat alternatives on the market and quite a few are not only nutritious but really delicious.  When time is a challenge, you’ve run out of ideas, don’t feel like cooking something from scratch, or have a crowd to feed, try some of these awesome products available in most grocery stores.
    www.beyondmeat.com
    www.gardein.com
    www.fieldroast.com

The bottom line is this: plant-based protein rich foods not only provide all the protein you need but they also provide fiber, complex carbohydrates, minerals and vitamins your body needs. Just as importantly, plant-based foods are cruelty free and much better for our planet than animal-based products. Your body will be grateful for the nutrition you provide through plant-based foods, our planet will benefit and the animals we share this earth with will live long, healthy, happy lives.  Pretty much a win-win-win!


A heart shape held in hands

February is Heart Health Month. Take good care of your heart by choosing a WFPBD.

 

 

 

Soup Soothes the Body and Soul

Soup Stock from Scratch I remember when I was a child, soup was the universal “fixer of things”. If I was cold soup warmed me up. If I was sad soup cheered me up. If I felt poorly soup seemed to be the best remedy. Soup, in all its incarnations seemed to be the solution no matter what the challenge. Many years have passed since I was a child, I’m a grandmother now, but soup still works its magic on me every time.

The true magic in soup is its broth – the real heart and soul of soup. Nothing tastes better or is more nutritious than soup built on a foundation of delicious, homemade broth. The added benefits to making your own broth include controlling ingredients (store bought broths can be high in sodium) and being budget friendly and virtually waste free.  Just collect the washed uncooked remnants of your daily vegetables i.e. broccoli stems, celery leaves, onion bits and pieces that didn’t make it into your meal, and freeze them. When you are ready to make your broth you’ll already have a good start. Our home this evening smells wonderful as we prepare two large pots of homemade vegetable broth on our cooktop.

Homemade Vegetable Broth

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 5 hours

Total Time: 5 hours

Homemade Vegetable Broth

This broth is perfect on its own. You can drink this broth throughout the day as a nutritional boost. The broth will be very condensed so feel free to add a little water to it when using as a base for your favorite vegetable soup. There are so many variations of delicious, nutritious soups. Try adding some small fingerling potatoes, some chopped carrots, some of your favorite beans, chopped celery, mushrooms, green beans, even some barley. Adjust the herbs and seasonings to your liking too.

When vegetables are in abundance take advantage of the lower costs and make up several batches of broth. You will always find a way to use broth in your daily meals. It's not only awesome for soup, but it will add rich flavor to your quinoa and rice and will make a great liquid to sauté vegetables in as well.

Ingredients

  • 1 head of green cabbage
  • 1 large leek
  • 1 large yellow onion
  • 1 bunch broccolini (stems and florets)
  • 1 green pepper
  • 1 bunch celery stocks
  • 1 8oz package cremini mushrooms
  • 5 carrots roughly cut
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp pink salt
  • 4 bay leaves
  • ground pepper
  • water

Instructions

  1. Wash all vegetables carefully
  2. Add herbs, salt & pepper
  3. Fill pot to near top with cold, fresh water
  4. Bring to a boil
  5. Reduce to simmer
  6. Let simmer for several hours - add more water as needed to keep vegetables submerged
  7. When all vegetables have leached out their nutrients, their color will be pale and texture quite mushy
  8. Using a masher, press out any remaining nutrients.
  9. Strain liquid into large bowls
  10. Discard vegetable remnants
  11. Allow broth to cool
  12. Store covered in refrigerator if you plan to use within a few days
  13. Freeze extra broth for later use.
https://jazzedupveggies.com/2016/01/soup-soothes-the-body-and-soul/

That homemade broth is delicious is a given, but here is the awesome nutrition you will get as well.

  • Leeks and yellow onions are a very good source of manganese and a great source of vitamin C, iron, folate and B6
  • Celery is an excellent source of vitamin K and C and a great source of potassium, folate, fiber, manganese, B6, calcium, B1, magnesium, vitamin A, and iron
  • Cabbage is an excellent source of vitamin K and C, manganese, B6, folate and omega-3 fatty acids as well as dietary fiber
  • Crimini Mushrooms are an excellent source of selenium, B2, copper, B3, tryptophan, B5, potassium, and phosphorus and a very good source of zinc, manganese, B1 and B6 as well as protein.
  • Carrots are an excellent source of vitamin A, K and C as well as a very good source of fiber and potassium.
  • Broccolini is an excellent source of Vitamin C, K and A, folate and fiber and a very good source of manganese, tryptophan potassium, B6 and B2, phosphorus, magnesium and protein.