This Holiday Week-end Let’s Play a Game of “Instead Of”

This game is designed to challenge you to think about healthy alternatives to your usual holiday week-end food choices.  I am always surprised at how quickly people abandon their commitment to nourishing their bodies when celebrations come along.  For example, birthdays are often celebrated with rich, sugar-filled cakes covered in sugar-filled icings and laden with fats and artificial ingredients. Yet, there are wonderfully delicious, much-healthier alternatives like my Chocolate Cake made with quinoa and cacao. And, don’t get me started on the consumption of soft drinks at parties. One small can of Coke contains 39 grams of added sugar, 45 grams of sodium and 34 milligrams of caffeine. YUCK!  So, one can of coke contains more than the World Health Organization’s recommended total daily sugar intake of 25 grams of sugar (natural and added) for adults. And we give this junk to children!!!! So, to make a point:  one 12-ounce can of Coke contains 156% of an adult’s total recommended daily sugar consumption. 

Instead Of Soft Drinks

Instead of choosing beverages that have absolutely no nutritional value, way too much added sugar, and in the case of Coke that also has caffeine known to contribute to dehydration, choose one of these thirst-quenching beverages. Yes, fruit and veggie drinks have some natural sugars, so drink lots of plain or infused water and unsweetened iced sun tea throughout the day as well.

Instead of Salty Snacks

I can’t remember ever being at a celebration where these salty snacks were not a big part of the party food fare.  Potato chips (or crisps as my husband calls them) and pretzels are easy and inexpensive snack foods to serve but they are nothing but fat, sodium and empty calories. A 1-oz serving of potato chips – and, let’s be honest, who only eats 1-oz – contains 3.1 grams of saturated fat and anywhere from 170 to 215 milligrams of sodium depending on the type of chip. While sodium is important to our bodies, we get plenty of it from other more nutritious foods, so the added sodium you get from these salty snacks simply can’t be justified.

Roasted Veggies – asparagus, cauliflower, carrots – are really delicious served cold and make an awesome, healthy snack. Raw, unsalted nuts and edamame are great finger foods packed with protein and fiber; and raw veggies such as celery, carrots, red peppers, broccoli and cherry tomatoes have a great crunch and flavor factor as well as lots of vitamins and minerals to keep your body in peak shape.

Instead of Meat

Grill a delicious homemade Black-Bean Burger that is a much healthier not to mention cruelty free alternative to ground beef or hot dogs. Another tasty option is to grill some Tofurky Artisan Sausage. I love these with some grilled onions! A lovely selection of salads such a my Carrot, Cumin and Coriander Salad and Simple Summer Chickpea Salad as well as my Bits and Bobs Salad will add nutritious variety, color and texture to your meal.  Add some traditional sides such as my Picnic Perfect Potato Salad or try something new instead of a coleslaw like Wildbrine Beets & Cabbage Sauerkraut.

Wasn’t this game of “Instead Of” fun?  There are so many wonderful foods you can bring to your holiday picnic or while enjoying time with family and friends at home.  Nourishing your body is easy. Make the choice now to live without regret.

THIS HOLIDAY WEEK-END, PLEASE DO NOT DRINK AND DRIVE

4th July

 

 

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Lettuce Does Not A Great Salad Make

That Was Then!

A few years ago, whenever we would go out to a restaurant, I would cringe at hearing our server say “I can make you a salad” when I told them I was vegan. I knew their idea of a salad was dropping several leaves of lettuce on a plate, popping a cherry tomato on top, and serving it with a pitying smile.  My response to these meager attempts was usually “Don’t you have any veggies? Why not slice up some red pepper, raw broccoli and cauliflower, add some red onion and pop in a few seeds or nuts.” Inevitably, I would end up with a plate of veggies whose presentation looked like a platter for the kids’ table at some holiday celebration.

This Is Now!

Today most restaurants have “discovered” fresh produce and are creating innovative, delicious and nutritious plant-based dishes to please the palate of even the most ardent carnivores. We are no longer hard pressed to find a restaurant meal worthy of our hard-earned dollars and I am not afraid to order a salad anymore, knowing that most chefs have learned lettuce does not a great salad make.

Looking for some ideas on a sumptuous salad to enjoy at home or take to work? I made this salad today from bits and bobs I had in the fridge.  That is the greatest thing about salads – they don’t need to be rigid; just use what you have on hand to make your salad interesting. There really are no rules.

Bits & Bobs Salad

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 15 minutes

Bits & Bobs Salad

A great salad incorporates lots of color, textures and flavors. Try using dandelion greens, arugula, red or yellow peppers. Spice things up a little with some hot peppers. Add some beans - garbanzo and red kidney beans work great! I used sunflower seeds in this recipe but pumpkin seeds would be great too. Got some beets in the fridge? Add those for some sweetness and awesome nutrition.

The bottom line is there are no rules. You are only limited by your imagination and the ingredients you have on hand.

Ingredients

  • Cauliflower Florets - Chopped
  • Carrots - Shredded
  • Cucumber - Seeded & Diced
  • Celery - Diced
  • Radish - Diced
  • Chard - Chopped
  • Spinach - Chopped
  • Green Leaf Lettuce - Torn
  • Microgreens
  • Pine Nuts
  • Raw Sunflower Seeds
  • Cherry or Grape Tomatoes
  • Vegan Salad Dressing

Instructions

  1. Wash ingredients thoroughly.
  2. Chop & Toss.
  3. Add salad dressing just before serving.
https://jazzedupveggies.com/2016/06/lettuce-does-not-a-great-salad-make/

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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.

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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.

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