Chicken-broccoli-rice Bake

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I wrote about MyPlate in my last blog. To give you a basic overview, each meal you eat should include five food groups: whole grains, lean protein, vegetables, low-fat dairy, and fruit. This Chicken-Broccoli-Rice-Bake is a one-pot meal that has all food groups, but fruit. Have a small bowl of berries with dark chocolate drizzled over it for dessert and you have one heck of a meal!

Enjoy!

Chicken-broccoli-rice Bake

(Serves 4)

Ingredients:

  • 5 cups of water
  • 5 cups of brown rice
  • 3 chicken breasts chopped in small cubes
  • 1 cup of sliced mushrooms
  • 1 can of lite coconut milk
  • 2 cups of broccoli florets
  • 1 cup of low-fat cheddar cheese
  • 1 teaspoon of sea salt divided
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil divided
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • Ground pepper to taste

Directions:

  • Combine the rice, ½ teaspoon of sea salt, 1 tablespoon of olive oil, and 3 cups of water in a pot. Bring to a boil. Once boiling, cover and reduce to a simmer for 30-35 minutes. You can do this quicker with a rice cooker or instant pot!
  • 15 minutes prior to the rice finishing, add chicken to a deep pan or Dutch oven, and pan fry for 10-15 minutes over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and sauté for 2 minutes. If the chicken or mushrooms are sticking, add a couple tablespoons of water.
  • 5 minutes before rice is finished:
    1. Preheat oven to 350
    2. Add remaining ½ cup of water to a pot with a steamer basket. Bring to a boil. Place broccoli in basket, cover and steam for 3 minutes.
  • When rice is finished, mix in pan with chicken mushrooms.
  • Toss in broccoli.
  • Mix in coconut milk, remaining sea salt. Italian seasoning, and cheese.
  • Transfer to a casserole dish and add ground pepper to taste.
  • Bake for 15 minutes.

 

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Three foods that promote liver health

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Summer cocktails can take a toll on your liver, but fear not, I’m not suggesting that you ditch the cocktails and cold ones! Of course, moderation is important, but if you enjoy a cocktail occasionally on a hot summer day, read on for some suggestions on how you can keep your liver healthy despite the alcohol consumption.

First off, let me explain how alcohol can harm your liver. Think of your liver as your body’s main detoxifier. It rids toxic waste to help prevent infections. Your liver needs water to effectively rid the waste and alcohol dehydrates you, robbing the liver of the main ingredient it needs for eliminating waste!

Another way alcohol damages your liver is that it produces a toxic enzyme called acetaldehyde, which can damage liver cells and cause permanent scarring, This can lead to cirrhosis of the liver, which can become life-threatening if left unchecked.

A few drinks here and there are unlikely to cause severe damage to your liver, but either way you look at it, it’s wise to incorporate foods into your regime that are protective of your liver.

Here are my three favorite, liver-protective foods that have the most scientific research backing them.

Cruciferous vegetables

Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cabbage, mustard greens and Brussels sprouts are a must in anyone’s diet! They have so many beneficial properties and are one of the most protective foods against cancer.

They help your liver by increasing detoxification enzymes. An animal study found that broccoli sprout extract prevented liver failure in rats.

Broccoli sprouts are available in many grocery stores. Note that anything sprouted increases its beneficial nutrients exponentially!

Fatty fish

Fatty fish like salmon are loaded with Omega-3s, which we know promotes heart health and brain health. Studies show that omega-3s also fight liver inflammation and keep liver enzyme levels healthy.

Olive oil

Several studies have linked olive oil to lower fat accumulation in the liver. Olive oil also keeps liver enzyme levels optimal. It also assures better blood flow to the liver. I cook with olive oil and dress my salads with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

I hope you all can find ways to incorporate these three types of food into your daily diet. The cool thing is that each of these food choices not only benefit your liver, but also help prevent several health ailments!

 

 

Spring into health with raw veggies

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With welcoming warm weather, it’s the perfect time to try adding more raw foods into our diets. Raw foods include foods with no application of heat of any kind. That means no cooking, grilling, or steaming the foods.

Adding more raw foods into your diet is quite simple actually. A gradual change toward more raw food in one’s diet is better for people who are used to consuming most of their meals cooked.

Raw food advocates believe that because raw food maintains all its enzymes, it is easier to digest and it is more nutritious than cooked veggies.

I believe veggies are great for you whether cooked or raw, but I do find that as winter turns to spring, I do get more of a spring in step when I add more raw foods to my diet.

Always consider how you can add vegetables to what you are preparing. Instead of cooking vegetables out of habit, find out if there’s another way of preparing them. For example:

  • Marinate kale, broccoli, mushrooms, or other veggies that are typically cooked to give them a soft, tender texture.
  • Another texture I love is that of shredded carrots, beets or zucchini added to my salads.
  • Raw corn, scraped off the cob, makes a tasty salad that goes well with tomatoes, fresh herbs, peppers, or zucchini.
  • To make a raw tomato sauce, simply blend ripe summer tomatoes with fresh herbs and a touch of garlic or onion.

Also, try giving juicing a go! No juicer? No problem! One of my favorite juices only requires a blender. Blend half an avocado, a cup of spinach, a half-cup of pineapple and ice for a delicious green juice!

How are you adding more raw veggies to your diet? Let me know in the comments below!

 

 

 

Spring into Health with Raw Veggies

Standard

kale

With welcoming warm weather, it’s the perfect time to try adding more raw foods into our diets. Raw foods include foods with no application of heat of any kind. That means no cooking, grilling, or steaming the foods.

Adding more raw foods into your diet is quite simple actually. A gradual change toward more raw food in one’s diet is better for people who are used to consuming most of their meals cooked.

Raw food advocates believe that because raw food maintains all its enzymes, it is easier to digest and it is more nutritious than cooked veggies.

I believe veggies are great for you whether cooked or raw, but I do find that as winter turns to spring, I do get more of a spring in step when I add more raw foods to my diet.

Always consider how you can add fruit, vegetables what you are preparing. Instead of cooking vegetables out of habit, find out if there’s another way of preparing them. For example:

  • Marinate kale, broccoli, mushrooms, or other veggies that are typically cooked to give them a soft, tender texture.
  • Another texture I love is that of shredded carrots, beets or zucchini added to my salads.
  • Raw corn, scraped off the cob, makes a tasty salad that goes well with tomatoes, fresh herbs, peppers, or zucchini.
  • To make a raw tomato sauce, simply blend ripe summer tomatoes with fresh herbs and a touch of garlic or onion.

Also, try giving juicing a go! No juicer? No problem! One of my favorite juices only requires a blender. Blend half an avocado, a cup of spinach, a half-cup of pineapple and ice for a delicious green juice!

How are you adding more raw veggies to your diet? Let me know in the comments below!

 

 

 

Beat the Heat with Hydration!

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It’s been HOT lately so the topic of hydration couldn’t be any timelier. Hydration is a popular topic in sports nutrition; they need to be concerned that they replenish their electrolytes as so many are lost through sweating.  Hydration is not just important for athletes though; it is important for everyone who gets out in that hot summer sun!  You can become dehydrated by an hour stint of gardening for example.

Did you know that 2/3 of your body weight is water? Water is critical to all the body’s systems, including the brain, heart, lungs, kidneys, and muscles. Water is necessary for your body to digest and absorb vitamins and nutrients. It also detoxifies the liver and kidneys, and carries away waste from the body.  A two percent drop in body water can cause a small but critical shrinkage of the brain, which can impair neuromuscular coordination, decrease concentration, and slow thinking.

If you are dehydrated, your blood is literally thicker, and your body has to work that much harder to make it circulate more efficiently. As a result, the brain becomes less active, more fatigued, and leads to exhaustion. This is precisely why you feel so tired after a day in the sun, but guess what?!

Water alone is not going to cut it when it comes to preventing dehydration in the summer. You need ELECTROLYTES! Some people think that electrolytes are simply salt, but there are actually seven different electrolytes and they are: sodium (“salt”), chloride, potassium, magnesium, calcium, phosphate, and bicarbonate.

I like to have coconut water as my drink of choice when I am out in the sun; it contains a high amount of potassium, magnesium, calcium, and sodium. Some of my favorite hydrating foods are cucumbers, watermelon, broccoli, strawberries, and tomatoes. Your craving for salty foods may increase as you become dehydrated, but don’t reach for chips; instead choose something like GimMe Seaweed Snacks; they’ll fulfill that salty craving; they are so healthy for you, and the bonus is that they are loaded with electrolytes!

So how do you know if you are dehydrated?

Check out your urine! A large amount of light colored, diluted urine probably means you are hydrated; dark colored, concentrated urine probably means you are dehydrated.

You can also use the pinch test! Dehydration often reduces skin elasticity, so doctors often use this skin test to quickly check for dehydration. The best part is that you can do it yourself: Pinch the skin on the back of your hand and pull it upwards. Your skin should snap back rapidly. If your skin maintains its pinched shape for a few seconds and drops slowly, you may be dehydrated.

I beg you to please protect yourself from dehydration all the time, but especially in this heat; the side effects are brutal! You’ll overheat, which feels even hotter than the intense heat that the sun is already emitting! You’ll also want to watch your alcohol and caffeine intake because both are naturally dehydrating.

Have fun in the sun, the healthy way!