The “Blues” are #1

Blueberry Chia Pudding

Blueberry Chia Pudding

Chia seeds are a superfood and can be added to a variety of foods for increased nutrition. They make a wonderful pudding that can be enjoyed anytime of the day - even (especially) breakfast.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups freshly made almond milk
  • 1/3 cup organic chia seeds
  • 1 Tsp organic pure vanilla
  • 1 pint fresh blueberries

Instructions

  1. Combine almond milk, chia seeds and vanilla in bowl. Refrigerate for several hours or overnight.
  2. Stir several times while chilling to ensure pudding is well blended.
  3. When ready to serve layer pudding with fresh fruit in a pretty parfait or wine glass.
  4. Enjoy.
https://jazzedupveggies.com/2016/07/the-blues-are-1/

Blue is the rarest of colors in the comestible world. Bet that is a little tidbit of information you’ve never given much thought to, am I right? Go on, try and name more than one or two blue-colored foods! While this is a tough challenge, chances are good almost everyone came up with a little blue fruit called a blueberry.  Native to North America, blueberries are the second most popular berry (next only to strawberries) contributing to their expected 2016 commercial cultivation reaching 750 million pounds on this continent and 1.4 billion pounds worldwide. While available year round blueberries are at the peak of perfection right now, so enjoy them.

I can remember when I was a little girl, I spent hours gathering wild blueberries on the hill behind my grandmother’s home in Corner Brook, Newfoundland.  I ate most of the berries I picked, despite having a basket to bring berries back to the house for everyone to share, and didn’t mind in the least being scolded for it.  I was pretty sure then, (and now) that God must have created blueberries just for me.

They may be small, but blueberries pack a lot of nutrition into their tiny packages. Blueberries are #1 in antioxidant capacity among all fruits, vegetables, spices and seasonings.  The antioxidants in blueberries support our whole body and have particularly awesome benefits for our cognitive health and blood sugar management.

Blueberries are definitely a food you should buy organic.  The pesticides used in conventional agriculture today are particularly problematic for foods like blueberries.  For more information on The Dirty Dozen – Foods You Should Buy Organic, check out the Environmental Working Groups website by clicking here.  To get the most nutritional benefit from blueberries consume them in their raw state. They are perfect to take to work or school, make a great mid-day snack, are delicious on top of your favorite non-dairy yogurt or ice cream, and are a quick and easy addition to your morning cereal.  Here is one of my favorite ways to enjoy blueberries!

Blueberry Chia Pudding

Blueberry Chia Pudding

Chia seeds are a superfood and can be added to a variety of foods for increased nutrition. They make a wonderful pudding that can be enjoyed anytime of the day - even (especially) breakfast.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups freshly made almond milk
  • 1/3 cup organic chia seeds
  • 1 Tsp organic pure vanilla
  • 1 pint fresh blueberries

Instructions

  1. Combine almond milk, chia seeds and vanilla in bowl. Refrigerate for several hours or overnight.
  2. Stir several times while chilling to ensure pudding is well blended.
  3. When ready to serve layer pudding with fresh fruit in a pretty parfait or wine glass.
  4. Enjoy.
https://jazzedupveggies.com/2016/07/the-blues-are-1/

Check out the incredible nutritional benefits of chia seeds in my blog “Pudding for Breakfast”.


Nutrition Facts – 1 Cup Raw Blueberries (84 Calories)

Vitamin K 28.5 mcg 32% DRI
Manganese .50 25% DRI
Vitamin C 14.36 mg 19% DRI
Fiber 14% DRI
Copper 9% DRI


 

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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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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.

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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/

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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/

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Herbs are not just for decoration anymore!

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Who hasn’t tossed a sprig of parsley on a plate or topped a dessert with a mint leaf merely for decoration?  It’s ok to admit it.  Those little pops of green do make a dish look finished, right? Truth is, I even wondered as a child why those funny little leaves were on my plate, but I didn’t venture to eat them until my sense of culinary adventure developed in my 20’s. I wonder how many thousands of pounds of parsley and mint have been scraped off restaurant plates around the world over the years!

Since I adopted a vegan lifestyle a number of years ago, I have discovered so many wonderful flavors, textures and awesome nutrition available through plant foods that I can create a new dish every day and never need to repeat the recipe. One of the categories of foods I am really excited about enjoying and experimenting with in our kitchen is herbs. However, I live in the desert, so what are the chances I will be able to find the best quality, freshest herbs worthy of serving my family and friends? Actually, the chances are excellent.

Diane & Cate

Herbs by Diane

Finding Herbs by Diane, located in Boulder City, Nevada, is like finding a treasure trove in your grandmother’s attic or a truly special gift under the Christmas tree. And, just wait until you meet Diane Greene, the owner of this beautiful, edible garden in the desert.  In my opinion, Diane is such a Southern Nevada treasure they should name a street after her!

Diane clearly loves the part she plays in providing beautiful, organically grown herbs, vegetables, microgreens and edible flowers to our Southern Nevada Community. Diane’s passion for gardening was passed down to her by her parents who involved her, as a young child, in growing healthy food and taking care of the environment. In fact, when asked why she continues in this business that takes a good deal of patience and hard work, she responds with a chuckle and says “I’ve always loved playing in the dirt”.

In the GreenhouseWe met Diane at her Boulder City garden last Friday morning, while she was busy getting orders ready for her regular customers to pick up and preparing for her weekly Saturday farmers market table at Fresh52 @ Tivoli Village in Summerlin. While Diane and her team were busy, she was delighted to show off her gardens and green house, and proudly conveyed she supplies 8 local, very prestigious Las Vegas Strip restaurants with her fresh garden bounty. In fact, the next time you are enjoying a world-class meal at Harvest by Roy Ellamar at Bellagio Las Vegas you will know you are enjoying some of Diane’s delicious herbs.

 

In the Greenhouse-3My husband and I are huge fans of microgreens.  Diane’s microgreens will make you a fan too.  The flavor that is packed into these tiny little plants is unbelievable! Diane let us taste the pea shoots, sunflower greens and radish greens – WOW! Talk about a flavor punch! You just have to add these to your salads or sandwiches, you will not believe what a difference they will make – not to mention how much added nutrition that your body will benefit from.

In the GardenIt is hard to believe delicate lettuces can grow in our harsh desert climate, but Diane’s gardens are brimming with lettuce at various stages of maturity. Just imagine the flavor you’ll get from a salad made from lettuce picked fresh from the garden rather than picked then transported over hundreds of miles by truck only to be packed onto store shelves for days.  The variety of greens you could use for your salad is fantastic: how about fresh basil, chives, parsley, verbena and maybe some sorrel. Oh, and don’t get me started on the edible flowers Diane has to offer.  OK, full disclosure – Until last Friday, I’d never tasted fresh sorrel before. I’m pretty sure Diane was amazed by my confession, but I am so glad she offered to give me a taste. Sorrel has a lovely, tart, almost lemony flavor that will take your next salad to a whole other level. Try it! Really, just try it!

Here are several good reasons to buy your herbs, microgreens and edible flowers from Herbs by Diane:

  • Diane’s produce is organically grown
  • Diane’s produce is freshly picked for you to enjoy
  • Diane’s herbs, veggies, microgreens and edible flowers are very healthy additions to your whole food, plant-based diet
  • Herbs by Diane is a local, small business that deserves our support

To contact Diane, send her an email at dianegreene2@cox.net. You can check out the products she has to offer at www.herbsbydiane.com. Like her page on FaceBook or stop by her booth indoors at the Fresh52 Farmers’ Market at Tivoli Village every Saturday from 9 am – 2 pm.


A heart shape held in hands February is heart health month. Herbs provide many unique antioxidants, essential-oils, vitamins,  and other nutrients that can contribute to good health. Did you know that parsley, that little green leaf so often thought of as just decoration, is actually an excellent source of Vitamins A,C and K and a very good source of folate and iron. Basil is also an excellent source of Vitamin K and is considered an anti-inflammatory food. Cilantro, one of my favorite herbs, is an excellent heart-healthy choice too. Bonus – herbs are very low in calories so enjoy liberally.

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