Foods from the Earth: My Favorite Powerful Plant-Based Foods

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As Earth Month ends, here is my post on some of my personal favorite Foods from the Earth.

There has been a ton of research in recent years suggesting the importance of transitioning to more of a plant-based diet; plant-based foods offer the best chance at preventing many chronic diseases. Some plant-based foods are especially powerful at protecting our health. Four such foods that I particularly enjoy are:  POM Wonderful 100% Pomegranate Juice, Wonderful Pistachios, Sweet Scarletts Texas Red Grapefruit and Halo Mandarin Oranges.

Pomegranates are phenomenal super-fruits. They are filled with fiber, protein, vitamin C, vitamin K, folate, and potassium. Several research studies have confirmed that pomegranates are super high in antioxidants and are a natural anti-inflammatory. These tiny little seeds may help lower blood pressure, fight breast and prostate cancer, protect against arthritis, improve memory and exercise performance. .POM wonderful 100% Pomegranate Juice is an excellent way to consume pomegranates. Each 8 oz. bottle of POM Wonderful 100% Pomegranate Juice contains the juice from two whole pomegranates, and nothing more- no added sugar, artificial flavors, colors or cheap filler juices AND this juice is Non-GMO Project Certified.

Pistachios are packed with amazing nutrients, such as B-complex, healthy mono-unsaturated fats, protein, fiber, vitamin E, copper and other minerals. Studies show that daily consumption of nuts, like pistachios, may reduce the risk of heart disease and may lower blood pressure. Wonderful Pistachios are available in a variety of flavors so that they appeal to almost anyone. Besides, what can be more fun that cracking open your pistachios while you watch a favorite movie? These are my go-to snack when I am looking for something crunchy!

I love grapefruit! Do you know that half of a grapefruit contains more than 100% of your daily recommended vitamin C? It is also high in vitamin A. Both vitamins C and A are great for your immune system. Also, vitamin C helps give you energy and vitamin A protects those windows to your soul. And I LOVE that grapefruit is great for my heart health. A recent study found that a diet supplemented with fresh red grapefruit positively influences blood lipid levels, especially triglycerides. My favorite grapefruit is Sweet Scarletts Texas Red Grapefruit. They are always so fresh and sweet; even my kids love them!

Last, but not least, I adore mandarin oranges. They’re perfect in my salads and I love mixing them with yogurt and granola. High in vitamin C and powerful phytonutrients, cancer research has revealed that eating mandarin oranges can lower your risk of developing liver cancer. My favorite mandarin oranges are Halo Mandarin Oranges; they are grown in California and are so easy to peel! I can add them to my breakfast, lunch, or snack in no time!

Whether you are looking for a healthy snack, or a nutritious, delicious add-on to any meal, try adding these four powerful plant-based foods to your diet. They can truly help boost your health and they will help you feel great!

Foods from the Earth: Super Fruits

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Continuing with our foods from the earth theme, let’s take a look at some powerhouse fruits. I’m not referring to bananas, apples, or other common fruits. While the fruits in your traditional fruit bowl are very good for you, try the super fruits I describe below for exceptional energy.

Pomegranates

We already have an entire blog dedicated to pomegranates. Grown for hundreds of years in the Himalayan Mountains, several research studies have confirmed that pomegranates are super high in antioxidants and are a natural anti-inflammatory. These tiny little seeds may help lower blood pressure, fight breast and prostate cancer, protect against arthritis, improve memory and exercise performance; they may even help alleviate erectile dysfunction.

Goji Berries

Goji berries, also known as wolfberries, have medicinal roots from ancient China. This sweet fruit is usually sold dry; they look like red raisins. High in vitamin C and iron, goji berries are great for energy. They contain the antioxidant zeaxanthin, which can help you to detox from radiation or smoke exposure. Studies have shown that they may help reduce arthritic pain, protect your eyes and lower your risk for heart disease.

Incan Berries

Grown in the high altitude regions of South America, Incan berries, also known as golden berries, have been eaten there for centuries. Also sold dried, they have been said to cure many ailments. Incan berries are packed with vitamins C and A, iron, niacin and phosphorous. These berries start off tasting pretty sweet but end with a sour note. Inca berries are full of fiber and protein…yes PROTEIN, a pretty unique quality for a berry to have. They are great as part of any detox regimen.

Mulberries

Like goji berries and Incan berries, mulberries are sold dried. They  originate from ancient China. Dried mulberries are a great source of protein, vitamin C and K, fiber and iron. The high levels of iron in mulberries helps your circulation, which in turn increases your production of red blood cells, bringing more oxygen to your organs to help them function optimally and to boost your metabolism. Mulberries, like red wine, are high in resveratrol, making them a great treat for heart health. Mulberries also contain alkaloids that activate macrophages. Macrophages are white blood cells that stimulate the immune system, putting it on high active alert against health threats.

When striving to get in your 2-3 fruit servings a day, choose these super fruits as a go-to. Goji berries, incan berries, and mulberries are super add-ons to any trail mix!

 

 

 

Foods from the Earth: Root Vegetables

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Daikon Radish

In celebration of Earth Day, some of our blog entries this month have focused on foods from the earth. So far, we have examined nuts & seeds as well as grains.  Today’s entry looks at powerful vegetables that develop their nutrients quite literally from the earth—root vegetables.

Root vegetables are exactly as the name implies…the root of plants.  Each root veggies has its own unique set of health benefits; all are rich in fiber and nutrients.  Let’s look at two common root veggies (carrots and beets) and two less common root veggies (burdock and daikon radish).

Carrots are well known for their eye-protection qualities. Studies have shown that they can help prevent glaucoma and cataracts. Newer studies have shown promising possibilities to protect against colon cancer and heart disease. They are an excellent source of vitamin A; just one cup supplies more than your daily requirement. Carrots are also rich in vitamin C, B vitamins, vitamin K, vitamin E, manganese, potassium, and more

Beets are a unique source of phytonutrients called betalains; these phytonutrients are responsible for the vibrant red color of beets and are known to have phenomenal anti-inflammatory and detoxification properties. Beets are immune-boosting with a high concentration of vitamin C. Also high in potassium and other essential minerals, beets are excellent for nervous system and muscle health.

Burdock has been used for centuries in Asian cultures. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine and now recent research, it has more medicinal properties than almost any other vegetable. It is known to balance hormones, aid in digestion, improve skin health, lower blood pressure and reduce inflammation. It has even been reported as useful in the treatment of AIDS, diabetes, and cancer. Researchers are not sure which active ingredients in burdock root are responsible for its healing properties. But, they believe that its phenolic acids, quercetin, and luteolin, which are all powerful antioxidants, may be in part, responsible.

All radishes are root vegetables and are extremely beneficial to your health. The Daikon Radish, used frequently in Asian cooking is especially beneficial to your health. With natural expectorant properties, daikon radish is great for respiratory health. A powerful diuretic, it is known to be beneficial to kidney health. Rich in vitamin C, daikon is helpful for boosting your immune system. And perhaps the most amazing characteristic of daikon radish is its concentration of nitrosamine, a phenolic compound found in daikon that prevents the development of many cancer-causing substances.

When considering vegetables to add to your diet, definitely consider these root veggies; they are each delicious raw and cooked!

Foods from the Earth: Whole Grains

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As many of you are aware, a major dilemma with the Standard American Diet is the massive consumption of refined grains (crackers, cookies, pastries, many bread varieties, etc.). Unlike refined grains, whole grains contain the bran, endosperm, and germ of the grain; the parts where all of the nutrients “reside.” Whole grains have been consumed for centuries; these foods from the earth are rich in fiber, minerals, and even protein. Let’s take a look at just a few of my favorite whole grains…all of which happen to be gluten-free.

Quinoa

A decade ago, not many people knew about quinoa (keenwah). Now, you can’t pick up a health magazine without a recipe calling for quinoa. Quinoa originates from the Andes Mountains; it is estimated that it was first cultivated in Bolivia more than 5,000 years ago. There are over 120 different varieties. The most awesome facet about quinoa is that it has a complete amino acid profile, meaning that it is a phenomenal protein source. One serving has about 8 grams of protein and 5 grams of fiber. Quinoa tastes delicious as an alternative to bulgur in tabouli.

Millet

Millet has been used in several parts of the world, such as India, South America, China, and Russia for hundreds of years. Its light flavor can be enhanced by lightly toasting it before boiling it. It can be also used to make a polenta.

Buckwheat

Like millet, buckwheat has been growing all over the world for centuries. It is the main ingredient in Japan’s soba noodles, Russia’s kasha, and French crepes. And even though “wheat” is in the word, it is gluten-free and contains no wheat; it is actually a cousin of rhubarb. I particularly love buckwheat pancakes.

Teff

If you have ever eaten Ethiopian cuisine, you have likely tried teff; it is the main ingredient in their Injera bread. The texture is so unique and absolutely delicious. Historically, Ethiopians are considered among the first civilizations to domesticate plants. It is estimated that teff was grown for food somewhere between 4000 and 1000 BC.

Don’t let grains intimidate you just because you have not cooked with them before. Several recipes can be found on the internet and they cook quickly. Research has shown that whole grains can aid in weight loss and can help prevent diabetes and heart disease. If the grains I mention are too unfamiliar to you, start with adding oats, brown rice, or wild rice into your meals. And, get this? Popcorn is a whole grain too; just skip all of the butter and go easy on the salt!

 

 

 

Foods from the Earth: Nuts & Seeds

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In Honor of Earth Month, we will devote some April entries toward foods from the earth.  If we look back at ancient foods of the earth, we find one thing in common: they are all nutrient-dense. Today, let’s examine nuts and seeds. Nuts are defined as dry, single-seeded fruits, enclosed in a tough outer layer. Some seeds also fit this description (such as sunflower and safflower).

According to the Nutcracker Museum (yes, there is such a place), nuts have existed for hundreds of thousands of years. They say, “Recently there was an archeological dig in Israel where researchers found evidence showing that nuts formed a major part of man’s diet 780,000 years ago.  Seven varieties of nuts along with stone tools to crack open the nuts were found buried deep in a bog. The nuts were wild almond, prickly water lily, water chestnut and 2 varieties of both acorns and pistachios. The pistachios and water chestnut are similar to those found in the Far East and northern Europe today.”

Isn’t that incredible? Nuts are an amazing source of fiber, essential fatty acids, and protein. In fact, nuts and seeds can fulfill the protein category on My Plate. The combo of healthy fats, fiber and protein results in ENERGY. We all want more of that, right?

There is a plethora of research that has proven nuts and seeds to be protective against heart disease and numerous other health ailments. They help protect you from any inflammatory condition, which is essentially, every disease. Some people avoid nuts because they fear they will gain weight due to the fat content, but research suggests the contrary; nuts aid in weight loss! Why? Because they keep you satiated, preventing you from overeating.

Here are some easy ways to incorporate nuts and seeds in your diet:

  • Try my latest favorite treats, Setton Farms’ Pistachio Chewy Bites; they’re made out of pistachios and cranberries, packed full of antioxidants, and so, so tasty!
  • Toss some pumpkin seeds, slivered almonds, walnuts, or sunflower seeds in your salad.
  • Make granola using nut(s) of your choice.
  • Make a healthy trail mix that combines nuts, dried fruit, and maybe even some dark chocolate chips.
  • Mix cashews in with your stir-fries.
  • Add almond butter to your smoothies! Nothing beats blending a frozen banana, a cup of unsweetened almond milk and a couple tablespoons of almond butter.

And don’t go for the canned nuts you often find at the grocery store; they are loaded with excess oil and salt. Your best bet is to choose raw nuts; they’re nutritious and delicious!

 

 

Crazy for Kale…and other Leafy Greens

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As we mentioned in our blog about seaweed, April is Earth Month and we will be blogging about sustainable food choices. Load up your plate with leafy greens (kale, collard greens, arugula, spinach and chard are great choices) and you will be boosting your health and protecting the planet at the same time!

Leafy Greens for your Weight

Leafy greens are rich in fiber. When it comes to weight-loss, you must befriend fiber because it keeps you fuller longer and you will be less likely to have unhealthy snack attacks.

Leafy Greens for your Heart

Leafy greens are excellent for heart health. The fiber helps to lower blood pressure and LDL (bad) cholesterol. Many leafy greens are chock-full of potassium, which helps to manage healthy blood-pressure levels. Research indicates that folate, found in leafy greens, may protect against heart disease.

Leafy Greens for your Brain

Folate is also great for your brain. Research shows that folate may protect against memory also. And because folate produces serotonin, leafy greens may help ward off depression.

Leafy Greens for your Bones

You probably know that in order to maintain healthy bones, you need calcium. Did you know that many leafy greens have more calcium than milk? For example, one cup of collard greens contains 357 milligrams of calcium and a cup of milk has 306 milligrams.

Leafy Greens for your Skin

Leafy greens contain a lot of water, which helps to hydrate your skin. The ample amount of vitamin C in leafy greens produces collagen, which is essential for your skin’s elasticity. Vitamin C and vitamin E, both found in leafy greens, team up to protect your skin from the sun’s damaging UV rays.

Leafy Greens for the Planet
Leafy greens grow more quickly than almost any other type of plant in most climates, making them an excellent low-impact food choice most seasons.

If you want to take up gardening, leafy greens are a low-maintenance choice to try! Give it a shot and let us know how it goes. In the meantime, load up on those greens—you will feel so vibrant!