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

Black Bean Burgers with a Cuban Flair

Black Bean Burger

It’s The Unofficial Start of Summer

This Memorial Day Week-end please take time to honor our fallen heroes. Freedom isn’t free – we need to pay our respects to those who have made the ultimate sacrifice in service to our Country.

Summer is the perfect time for gathering friends and family for a casual dinner particularly if you live in a climate suited to dining outdoors. Burgers are a summertime tradition and plant-based options for burgers are delightfully plentiful. Vegetables, grains, nuts and beans make for incredible flavor and texture; and of course, they nourish our bodies with important protein, vitamins, and fiber. It is a familiar ritual at our home to enjoy each other’s company, sipping a refreshing beverage, and lounging on the patio while the grillers commiserate over the perfect time to “flip”. The sound of laughter and conversation always gives me pause for thought about the pleasure we take at sharing a meal together. Preparing food, for most people, is a true labor of love; and the love of those gathered around our table is clearly evident.

The primary ingredient in this recipe, black beans, is a very low cost, high value food source; and, the availability of fresh produce to accompany a summertime favorite like burgers, makes it an especially delicious, nutritious and budget friendly complete meal. Our recipe below for Black Bean Burgers is not difficult to prepare and affords a wonderful opportunity to get everyone into the action. Many of the ingredients for this dish can be prepared ahead, so when your guests arrive, and you are ready to cook, very little time for assembly is required. But first, enjoy our Jazzed Up Veggies video of “Black Bean Burgers with a Cuban Twist”.

Black Bean Burgers with a Cuban Twist from Berry Creative on Vimeo.

Black Bean Burgers with a Cuban Flair

Black Bean Burgers with a Cuban Flair

Ingredients

  • Black Bean Burger Patties - Serves 6
  • 1 cup cooked rice (I use black rice, red rice and flax cooked in veggie broth)
  • 1 15oz can organic black beans (1.5 cups)
  • 1/2 cup shredded carrot
  • 1/2 cup shredded onion
  • 1/2 cup red pepper, diced
  • 1/2 cup celery, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced (more if you love garlic like we do)
  • 1 tsp harissa
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp tamari
  • olive oil
  • celtic sea salt
  • black pepper
  • Chipotle Sauce
  • 2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
  • 1/4 cup fresh pineapple juice
  • 1/2 medium avocado
  • 1/4 cup cashews (soaked for minimum of 2 hours)
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • water or non-dairy milk to thin if needed
  • Pineapple Salsa
  • 2 small avocado, diced
  • 1 cup fresh (not canned) pineapple, diced
  • Juice of 1 lime

Instructions

  1. Patties: Mix smoked paprika, oregano, garlic powder, cumin, and Harissa, salt and pepper together. Add small amount of tamari and olive oil to make a somewhat thick paste. Set aside.
  2. Prepare rice. Set aside to cool.
  3. Combine shredded carrot, onion, diced celery and diced red peppers. Sprinkle with a small amount of olive oil, salt & pepper. Spread on grill pan and roast for 30 minutes. Allow to cool.
  4. Drain and rinse black beans. Place in a large mixing bowl and mash with a fork or masher. It is good to leave a few beans whole.
  5. Once cooled, add all ingredients into bowl with black beans. Combine well by hand or with a mixer. You do not want to over mix so use care with a mixer.
  6. Form mixture into 6 patties. Place on plate, cover, and refrigerate while preparing sauce & salsa.
  7. Chipotle Sauce: Combine all ingredients in a high-speed blender. Blend until very smooth. Add very small amount of liquid if needed. Transfer to a small bowl, cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
  8. Pineapple Salsa: It is best to make this salsa just before serving. Mix pineapple and avocado together. Squeeze fresh lime juice over ingredients. Toss gently. If making ahead, cover to prevent any air from reaching the avocado and refrigerate.
  9. Putting it All Together: The patties can be cooked on a grill-pan on the BBQ over medium heat; or on the stove with a small amount of non-GMO oil. Avoid crowding. Patties should be allowed to get crispy on one side before flipping (about 4 - 5 minutes).
  10. Place a green leaf of lettuce on your plate. Place burger on lettuce, top with chipotle sauce and salsa. Serve with tomato and avocado slices and baked sweet potato fries.
  11. Buen Apetito!
https://jazzedupveggies.com/2016/05/449/

Enjoy this delicious meal with a classic Mojito or some mint & citrus infused sparkling water.

Can’t wait to hear how you like it.

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.

The Queen of Spices – Cardamom Transforms Muffins from Everyday to Exotic

cardamom cardamom pods

Cardamom, known as “The Queen of Spices” is a wonderful aromatic spice that you’ve probably tasted but didn’t know it. If you have ever enjoyed the exotic flavor of Chai tea, (and if you haven’t you really need to because it is just that lovely) then you have enjoyed the unique and deliciously Eastern flavor of cardamom. This fragrant spice is also a key element of garam masala one of my favorite Indian cooking spices. Cardamom plays nicely with other aromatic spices such as cinnamon, allspice, cloves and nutmeg, so it is no surprise it is a good spice choice for baking. BONUS – baking with any of these spices will make your home smell so marvelous too. Cardamom not only adds a wonderful, exotic, citrusy flavor to your food; it also offers some great health benefits.

Awesome Health Benefits of Cardamom

Cardamom is full of important nutrients that have been shown to be helpful in improving cardiovascular health including improving blood circulation and controlling cholesterol levels,  relieving sore throats and upset tummies, supporting urinary tract health and respiratory health, and inhibiting the growth and spread of microbes that cause food poisoning.  Minerals such as manganese, magnesium, iron and zinc are abundant in cardamom as are vitamins such as thiamin, riboflavin and B6 and C. Cardamom is also a good source of dietary fiber and protein while being low on the caloric scale.  Cardamom pods and seeds can also be chewed to keep your breath fresh. Cardamom has excellent antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory and anti-spasmodic properties and Cardamom essential oil is also credited with having anti-depressant properties. Cool, right?

Cardamom Apple Muffins – Plant-Based Deliciousness

Cardamom Apple Muffins

Muffins are a great breakfast food, are a healthy snack especially with a hot cup of chai tea, and are easily transported for a picnic or sports outing – so what’s not to love! With muffins, size does matter even though they have nutritious ingredients. Monster-sized muffins can add hundreds of calories to your daily intake – especially the ones you find at your local coffee shop or bakery; so keep them on the smaller side to manage your caloric intake.

Cardamom Apple Muffins

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 23 minutes

Total Time: 43 minutes

Yield: 12 medium sized muffins

Serving Size: 1 muffin

Cardamom Apple Muffins

These muffins are delicious. The fresh apple pieces add some light crunch, great flavor and additional moisture - not to mention more fiber (and who doesn't need more fiber, right?) Apples are definitely a food you should only buy if they are organic due to the use of pesticides in non-organic orchards. Fill your muffin tin to just below the top to make the perfect sized muffin.

Ingredients

    Dry Ingredients
  • 1 cup spelt flour
  • 1 cup oat flour
  • 1/4 cup coconut sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp cardamom
  • 1/2 tsp salt
    Wet Ingredients
  • 1 cup unsweetened organic applesauce
  • 1/3 cup non-dairy milk
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil - melted
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 apple cut into small pieces (leave peel on)

Instructions

  1. Preheat your over to 350 F
  2. Lightly grease muffin pan with small amount of coconut oil
  3. In a large bowl, whisk all dry ingredients together. Make sure they are combined well.
  4. In another bowl, combine all the wet ingredients except the apple and mix well.
  5. Add apple to wet ingredients and mix again.
  6. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and gently stir until mixed. Be careful not to over mix as that will make your muffins dense and tough.

Notes

Let your muffins cool on a rack. They are delicious warm or cold. Freeze any muffins you won't be able to eat in a couple of days. To add additional protein, substitute 1/4 cup of quinoa flour for 1/4 cup of the spelt flour.

https://jazzedupveggies.com/2016/03/the-queen-of-spices-cardamom-transforms-muffins-from-everyday-to-exotic/


EARTH DAY 2016-2

Earth Day 2016 is April 22; but don’t wait till then.  Plant a Tree for Earth’s Sake now!
Go to www.earthday.org to learn more about the things you can do to help our planet get healthy.  There will be events all over the world – so hopefully there will be one in your community. If not, plan one – www.earthday.org has all the tools you’ll need to make your event a great success.

Tea – a beverage with benefits!

Title of Blog Post Photo of Tea Shrubs

Tea has been around for thousands of years and is the second most consumed beverage in the world (1st place goes to water). Cultivated primarily in China, India, Sri Lanka and Kenya, the leaves and leaf buds of this small shrub of the plant species Camellia Sinensis, are used to make the four main varieties of tea: white, green, oolong & black.  The difference among these varieties come from the processing of the leaves or leaf buds as they all originate from the same plant.  White tea comes from the leaf buds. The buds are allowed to air dry and then they are steamed to prevent any oxidation from taking place. Green tea is the product of tea leaves that have been wilted and then steamed to prevent oxidation. Oolong is the product of tea leaves that are wilted then allowed to partially oxidize through bruising of the leaf edges. The leaves are then steamed to stop the oxidation process.  Finally black tea is produced by full oxidation of the leaves. The dried leaves turn black thus the name black tea.

The name “tea” has evolved into a generic term used for hot and cold beverages, made from a variety of plants, other than the tea shrub, including many herbs and fruits. In a later blog I’ll talk about herbal teas, but for now let’s discuss the awesome benefits of the true tea (camellia sinensis) plant’s leaves and buds.

A cup of tea can heal the body and soothe the soul.It can renew the spirit and calm the mind.

So, what are the benefits of drinking tea? How much time do you have……

All four varieties of tea – white, green, oolong and black; offer a plethora of benefits, not the least of which are the health benefits derived from the abundance of antioxidants tea provides. Tea contains catechins, a type of flavonoid that studies have shown protect against coronary artery disease, improve insulin sensitivity in type 2 diabetes, and help prevent osteoporosis and periodontal disease. Tea, especially green tea, has been found to lower bad cholesterol, offer anti-inflammatory benefits, and support proper blood flow helping manage appropriate blood pressure. Improved blood flow supports our brain function and there are some studies that show tea may be helpful in blocking the formation of plaques in the brain.  Tea contains caffeine as well that may contribute to improved mental alertness.

Our mental health benefits from a cup of tea too.  The lovely aroma of tea has a very calming effect; and the act of sitting down with a cup of tea, sipping it slowly and allowing yourself to relax and enjoy this lovely beverage is extremely therapeutic. Enjoying a conversation with a friend over a cup of tea is a lovely way to spend a hour or two, right?

How do you get the most out of your cup of tea?

Preparing the perfect pot of tea is not difficult; but to get the most benefit and pleasure from tea a little forethought is worthwhile.

  1. First, buy the best tea leaves and buds you can – preferably loose tea. I recently found a exquisite Tea Shop in Las Vegas, Sheffield Spice & Tea Co, owned by a lovely couple – The Sheffields – who are so knowledgeable and really care about quality and customer service. It smells so wonderful in their shop and they have so many lovely teas (and spices) to choose from.  They also have a large assortment of beautiful tea pots and accessories – you just have to see for yourself.  If you don’t live in the area, check out their website. They can ship anywhere!
  2. Check with your tea supplier about the right temperature of water to use when making your tea. Boiling water can actually cause damage and reduce the benefits the tea leaves and buds offer. For example, the water temperature for green tea should be between 160F and 170F. There is no need to use a thermometer though – just bring your water to a boil then turn the kettle off while you put the tea leaves in your tea pot. By the time you are ready to pour the water in it will have cooled off from the boiling point.
  3. tea timeA tea infuser is perfect for keeping the leaves and buds neat and tidy in your tea pot.  I have a lovely tea strainer I like to use to catch the tea before it slides into my tea cup.
  4. I believe tea tastes the best when served in a lovely tea cup.
  5. Tea is best consumed without dairy and sweeteners; however, a little citrus such as lemon is  believed to aid the absorption of tea’s beneficial components.
  6. Should you choose to buy teabags, PLEASE read the labels or check with the company before making your purchase.  Not all teabags are alike and some can actually be harmful to you.  Did you know that many mass producers of teabags actually use plastic in their bags? Yes, it’s true! When you pour very hot water over these plastic teabags, you may be adding more than you bargained for to your tea. The chemicals in the plastic can leach out into your beverage. Do you really want to drink liquid plastic?  Other companies use bleach in their bags to make the bags “aesthetically pleasing”. Yikes, drinking bleach doesn’t sound like a good idea to me.
    NUMI tea bags
    I buy NUMI tea when teabags make the most sense such as when I am traveling or sending a care package to someone.  NUMI makes sure your organic tea is not spoiled by harmful teabags.

 

 

Enjoy a soothing, relaxing cup of tea every day. It will nourish your body and nourish your soul.  Tea is truly a beverage with benefits.

 

An Herbalicious Wrap

Wraps and HandsI came across another awesome non-gmo vegan product the other day at Whole Foods that I just couldn’t wait to share with my friends and family. I wanted to make a delicious wrap to enjoy for lunch that would leave us feeling quite satisfied and would also “wow” us with the incredible taste and texture of whole plant foods. To my delight, I discovered Indian Life Spinach Wraps that were not only vegan but also easy on the budget and turned out to be full of incredible flavor. These wraps are Non-GMO verified – a certification I insist on for everything I consume and serve my friends and family. Here is the recipe for our Herbalicious Wrap. It is so easy to prepare and definitely a dish suitable for company and totally restaurant worthy. As you can see, our guests couldn’t wait to try them.  Let me know what you think!

Herbalicious Wrap

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Yield: 5 - 10 servings

Herbalicious Wrap

These wraps are delicious. A half-wrap is more than enough for a light lunch - especially served with some raw veggies (carrots, celery) or some fresh fruit such as apple slices. The pine nuts add a wonderful crunch to the wrap and the beets add an awesome sweetness. This wrap is a stand-out in terms of nutrition too.

Ingredients

  • 1 package Indian Life Spinach Wrap
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil
  • 1/4 cup fresh Italian parsley
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro
  • 1 cup fresh spinach - chopped
  • 1 1/2 cup fresh Arugula - chopped
  • 2/3 cup roasted red & golden beets chopped small
  • 1/4 cup roasted pine nuts
  • salt & pepper to taste
    For Dressing
  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 Tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 Tsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp Bee Free Honee
  • Black pepper & salt to taste

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl:
  2. Chop greens and herbs into bite sized pieces
  3. Add beets and pine nuts
  4. Season to taste
  5. Toss
  6. Just before serving
  7. Mix dressing ingredients
  8. Add to greens and toss gently
  9. Heat large frying pan on medium
  10. Warm one wrap at a time
  11. Remove each wrap, fill center of wrap with dressed greens
  12. Wrap tightly, slice in half
  13. Serve

Notes

These fresh herbs & greens wraps are delicious and very filling. A half-wrap is perfect for a light lunch or an after school snack for a hungry teen.

https://jazzedupveggies.com/2016/03/an-herbalicious-wrap/

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/

Moroccan Mexican Mashup – A Meal You’ll Love

Moroccan Mexican MashupI love making meals that take ingredients popular in different cultures and puts them together in really flavorful and interesting combinations. This meal, my Moroccan Mexican Mashup, is so delicious don’t count on having any leftovers for tomorrow.  The ingredients for this meal are easy to find – you probably have most of them in your kitchen already – and are quite budget friendly. Nutritionally, this menu ticks all the boxes too: excellent protein, lots of vitamins and minerals, and great fiber. This is so easy to prepare and so delicious  I believe this will become a favorite meal in your household; it is in ours!

 

Moroccan Mexican Mashup

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 65 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 35 minutes

Yield: 6 servings

Moroccan Mexican Mashup

The alcohol in the tequila for the beans will burn off. It adds a lovely almost sweet flavor to the beans but you can leave this out if you wish. I use homemade beans because I don't want all the extra salt and other additives that may be in canned black beans. This meal is really quite easy to make and tastes so good you'll not likely have any leftovers.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups cooked homemade black beans (recommend cooking in vegetable broth)
  • 4 slices vegan bacon - Benevolent Bacon
  • 1 ounce tequila (optional)
  • 1 package non-gmo corn tortillas
  • 3 small Roma tomatoes diced
  • 1 small yellow or white onion diced
  • 1 medium yellow mango diced
  • 1 large bunch cilantro
  • 1 large bunch Italian parsley
  • 8 medium red potatoes quartered
  • 6 cloves garlic chopped (or more to taste)
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp ground cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 3 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large red bell pepper cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 large yellow bell pepper cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 large green bell pepper cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 4 stalks celery cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 4 large tomatoes cut into small wedges

Instructions

    For the Black Beans
  1. Soak dry beans overnight in fridge. Drain, Cover with vegetable broth or water. Bring to boil then reduce to simmer. Cook for 40+ minutes or until they are tender. Let cool. Remove 2 cups of cooked beans to a bowl, with a slotted spoon, to allow most of the liquid to drain. Set aside.
  2. Add small amount of oil to medium frying pan. Heat Benevolent Bacon until just crisp. Remove bacon and chop into small pieces. Add back to frying pan and add beans and tequila (if using). Heat on low.
    For the Mango Salsa
  1. Combine the 3 chopped Roma tomatoes, chopped onion, 2 tbsp of chopped cilantro, 2 tbsp chopped parsley, and chopped mango in bowl. Keep covered in refrigerator until ready to serve.
    For the Moroccan Potatoes
  1. Preheat over to 350 F
  2. Using a food processor, combine garlic, 1/2 tsp salt, paprika, cumin and cayenne until paste forms.
  3. Add remaining cilantro and parsley and process for 10 seconds to blend
  4. Add lemon juice, red wine vinegar and 2 tbsp olive oil to processor and blend well.
  5. In a large bowl add quartered potatoes, the peppers and celery. Season with a small amount of salt if desired. Add herb paste from processor. Toss thoroughly to coat the veggies.
  6. Transfer veggies to baking dish. Add tomato wedges.
  7. Cover baking dish with foil and bake for 35 minutes. Remove foil and bake for additional 30 - 35 minutes or until potatoes are tender.
    For Tortillas
  1. Heat tortillas on grill or small pan - do not leave too long, you just want them warm not crunchy.

Notes

The ingredients for this meal cost me $16.50. That translates into approximately $2.75 per person. A very budget-friendly, delicious meal that meets all your nutritional needs. Enjoy!

https://jazzedupveggies.com/2016/03/moroccan-mexican-mashup-a-meal-youll-love/

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.