Category: Super Food Series

Super Food Series: The Pumpkin Puzzle

The Pumpkin Puzzle – A Super Food Getting Its Just Desserts 

This is the time of year that we begin to see pumpkins at the grocery store and in the parking lots.  The bright orange color is a part of the palette that nature gives us.

Thinking of pumpkin as a nutritious super food can be a bit puzzling.  After all, isn’t the image that comes to mind sweet and smooth and covered in whipped cream?  But, according to nutritionists, we should be thinking of pumpkin more often than during the annual Charlie Brown cartoon or as a delicious way to top off a scrumptious Thanksgiving dinner.

Pumpkin is a vegetable, regardless of those images. In fact, pumpkin is a nutrient-rich super food that has a great number of health benefits. Let’s take a look at why pumpkin should get its just desserts… beyond desserts.

A Well-Rounded Vegetable

 The list of nutrients in pumpkin is almost endless. Starting with the basic vitamins and minerals we all know, pumpkin has a healthy amount of vitamins C and E, and is a rich source of  potassium and magnesium. Pumpkin is also right up there with other super foods in the dietary fiber category.

Pumpkin also contains two lesser known elements called carotenoids, which are alpha-carotene and beta-carotene. These carotenoids are fat-soluble compounds that are specifically linked to decreasing the risk of a number of cancers, as well as lowering the risk for heart disease, cataracts, and macular degeneration.

Beta carotene is an important antioxidant. Foods rich in beta carotene, like pumpkin, sweet potatoes, and carrots, have the potential to lower cholesterol and to slow the aging process of our vital organs. Antioxidant rich foods, like pumpkin, are key to fighting the free radicals which attack our healthy cells.

And, it’s not just the flesh, the insides, of the pumpkin that is healthy. The seeds from the pumpkin also earn their super food status. These seeds, or pepitas, are also nutrient-rich and beneficial, containing high concentrations of phosphorous, zinc, copper, selenium, and other nutrients. The seeds also have essential Omega 3 fatty acids and even the amino acid typtophan, known for its anti-depressant benefits. So, as you see, the pumpkin has a lot more to offer than you might think.

Thinking Outside the Pie Pan

 Of course, pumpkin is associated first with pie. Beyond pie, many folks know about making pumpkin muffins or cake. These are great and delicious, but trying to branch out into more pumpkin dishes takes a little more imagination.

But, first to clarify; no, pumpkin does not taste like pumpkin pie. That flavor comes from the spices used in the pie, like nutmeg, allspice, and cinnamon. Because pumpkin basically has very little flavor of its own, it will taste like whatever you want it to taste like.

Pumpkin is truly versatile enough to go into soup, chowder, stews, casseroles, and other main dishes.  You can puree pumpkin and add to soups as a thickener and to add great fiber and nutrition. Try roasting pumpkin and mashing like you would any squash. Flavor with herbs, salt, and pepper for added taste. You can steam it, boil it, or puree it to use in a variety of other recipes, like pumpkin pancakes for breakfast. The seeds, of course, can be roasted in a number of ways, then added to cereal, trail mix, or salads. 

For a real different twist, and a very pretty presentation, scoop out the flesh from several small pumpkins, chop up and add to your choice of meat, vegetables, rice or bread cubes, and seasonings. Then stuff the pumpkin shells with the mixture and bake to make an entrée that your guests won’t soon forget.

Pumpkin has definitely earned its place among the top super foods for a healthy diet. Colorful, nutritious, delicious, and oh so versatile – all the things a super food should be!

Image: Arvind Balaraman / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Super Foods Series: Pumpkin Cornmeal Bread Recipe

Pumpkin Cornmeal Bread

1 cup pumpkin puree (unsweetened)
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp baking soda
2 cups cornmeal
1 egg, beaten slightly
1 1/2 cup buttermilk
2 Tbsp shortening (melted)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees and spray 9 inch cake pan or cast iron skillet with non-stick oil.
Put pumpkin and dry ingredients in big bowl and mix until combined.
Add beaten egg and buttermilk, stirring to combine.
Add melted shortening and stir.
Bake in preheated oven at 375 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes or until browned around the edges.

Photo credits:
http://www.ireallylikefood.com/734801665/pumpkin-cornbread/

Super Food Series: Quinoa Info and Simple Recipe

The Quinoa Quiz – A Super Food That Answers Your Nutrition Questions 

 What is quinoa? If you haven’t heard about quinoa (pronounced keen-wah), you’re not alone. Many people have yet to learn the encouraging details on this super food. Although not a pantry staple in most kitchens yet, quinoa soon will be. This seed (no, it’s not a grain) has a rice-like appearance with a fun crunchy texture and slightly nutty flavor. If you know spinach, Swiss chard, and beets, you know some of quinoa’s relatives. Once called the Gold of the Incas, quinoa is well on its way to becoming revered all over the world. Let’s see why.

 Winner of 9 Essential Amino Acids

With just a quick run down of the nutrients in quinoa, it’s not hard to see why this food is considered one of the best super foods in the world. Quinoa is a good source of protein, but not just any protein. The protein quinoa supplies the body is complete protein, supplying all nine essential amino acids. This fact alone makes quinoa the perfect super food choice for vegetarians, vegans, or anyone concerned about getting a healthy dose of protein in their diet. Quinoa is especially rich in lysine, the amino acid that is essential for healthy tissue growth as well as repair.

What Can Quinoa Do For Me?

We can start with a few basics you will recognize right away. Besides being a complete protein, quinoa is loaded with dietary fiber, calcium, iron, and phosphorus. Magnesium is abundant in quinoa. Known to be beneficial for relaxing blood vessels, magnesium, along with riboflavin, appears to benefit those who suffer from headaches, even migraines. Manganese joins with copper to form an enzyme which guards against cell damage caused by free radicals.

The health benefits gained from including quinoa in your diet include helping reduce the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, cataracts, and gallstones. For pregnant women, quinoa is a great way to increase iron intake naturally, which is important for baby’s healthy development.

Because quinoa is lower in carbohydrates than other grains, many people substitute quinoa for grains because it is a very filling food that releases its energy slowly throughout the body, to satisfy your appetite longer. This is a great way to stay on a weight loss program without starving.

If you are eating a gluten-free diet, this is a wonderful new food to discover. Because quinoa is gluten-free, and has many of the same characteristics of grains and rice, there are numerous ways to use quinoa in your recipes.

What Do I Do With This Stuff?

Raw quinoa is most often bought pre-rinsed, but if it isn’t, rinse it in a colander lined with cheesecloth. Then follow the directions on the box. Quinoa is cooked similar to rice; usually a 2 to 1, water to quinoa ratio. Cooked quinoa has a nice light texture and a mild, slightly crunchy and nutty flavor.

Once cooked, you can use quinoa in many pilaf dishes, adding vegetables, stocks, and seasonings to taste. Just try substituting quinoa into any of your recipes that call for rice and see how you like it. Quinoa also makes a nice fluffy side dish all by itself. Add herbs and seasonings if you like and spoon alongside chicken, fish, or meat for a tasty side dish with great crunchy texture.

Another favorite way to serve quinoa is cold in salads. Add sweet corn kernels, spring onions, kidney beans, green bell pepper, and celery into a bowl of cooked and cooled quinoa, toss, and you have a light salad that’s full of flavor. Mix in a balsamic vinaigrette dressing for even more pizzazz.

Quinoa can be served at any meal, and is available in several forms, even flour. For breakfast, you can serve quinoa with berries, nuts, and milk as a cereal. The flour can be used for baking along with whole grain wheat or as a substitute. Fitting quinoa into your healthy diet is not at all difficult with all these choices.

When I first started eating quinoa, I used it solely for breakfast as a hot cereal.  Now I use it to make a kind of pilaf dish.  Below you will find a simple recipe that I hope you will try, then come back here and comment about your experience.

Once you include quinoa in your diet, you’ll be looking for all sorts of ways to serve it. It won’t be hard to find! This is a very versatile super food that deserves a spot in your pantry.

 

Recipe:

Classic Quinoa Pilaf

1/4 cup olive oil

1 small sweet onion, diced

2 ribs celery, diced

1 carrot, peeled and diced

1/2 green bell pepper, diced

1/2 red bell pepper, diced

1 garlic clove, minced or grated

1/4 tsp oregano

6 cups cooked quinoa

salt and pepper to taste

1 cup chopped almonds, dry roasted

Put olive oil in large skillet over medium heat; add onion, celery, carrot, green pepper, and red pepper, and cook, stirring until vegetables start to soften, but are still somewhat crisp.

Stir in garlic and oregano and heat for 1 minute.

Remove skillet from heat and stir in the quinoa, mixing well.

salt and pepper to taste.

Toss in roasted almonds and serve hot either as a side dish or light main dish.

Note: To roast almonds, put in dry skillet over medium heat and toss until lightly browned.

 

Benefits of Broccoli

Many people do not like the taste of Broccoli juice at all. Broccoli is a tasty vegetable to eat if cooked, but its juice does not sound too tempting. Even the green colored juices are not preferred by people. Instead, we gladly go for a red or blue colored drink which is not even as nutritious as green broccoli juice.
Broccoli comes from the Cruciferous family of vegetables which also includes kale, cabbages and Brussels sprouts. We all often hear about cabbage juice and its benefits, but we have never heard of kale juice or Brussels sprout juice. So many people wonder what is so special about the juice, is it the taste or the nourishment in it?
Broccoli and juice are also known to fight against cancer, although they are not a cure for cancer. While shopping for broccoli, look out for broccoli flowers which are purple on top. The stalk of broccoli is known to have a greater percentage of carotenoids which are beneficial for health. The anti-oxidants and cartenoids in the broccoli help fight cancer.
Among the vegetables, broccoli tops the name as one of the most nutritional ones, but unfortunately people do not like to eat it raw due to its taste. Usually, overcooked broccoli does not taste very delicious to eat.
A glass of broccoli juice is considered as a great way to start the day. As far as the taste goes it is not appetizing at all. With vegetables, there is a general principal which says that the green contents in any juice should not exceed one third of the quantity. If you want to include broccoli juice to your daily diet, you can do so by mixing it with other vegetables in the juice extractor such as carrots because they blend very well with different vegetables.
Adding carrots or any other vegetables will not change the taste completely, but the taste will only become a little different. Celery or a few leaves of Romaine lettuce can also be added in the juice extractor. There are many other tasty vegetables that can be added to make broccoli juice a good drink.
Many people enjoy carrot-apple juice, so it would be a good option to add a few slices of carrots and apples as well in the juice extractor along with broccoli. You can come up with different tastes of broccoli juice by trying different recipes every time.
Broccoli juice contains vitamins A, B, C, E and K, and copper calcium, potassium, iron and zinc. Always choose broccoli which is rich green in color without dried or yellow patches. In this way, we can use it with Pandora things.

The Nutty News – A Super Food Headliner In A Tiny Package

The Nutty News – A Super Food Headliner In A Tiny Package  

 Do you picture snacks helping your heart and lowering your cholesterol while filling you up between meals?  Snacking has gotten a bad name through the years, mostly due to the over-abundance of pre-packaged snack foods.  But, snacking doesn’t have to be bad for you if you know what snacks to choose.  As a matter of fact, snacking can be really good for you.  Let’s take a look at one healthy food that should be considered an essential snack.

Nutrition by the Handful

That little nut you have been snacking on is really a super food because of the unique combination of fats, protein, vitamins, and minerals. This tiny powerhouse works hard lowering the risk of some  significant diseases and health conditions.

Don’t let the fat content or calorie count of nuts worry you. Even though nuts are often high in calories and fat, they have ‘good’ fats and omega 3 fatty acids that lower bad cholesterol levels and help regulate blood pressure and healthy heart rhythms. The fiber content in nuts also helps control cholesterol and has been found to lower the risk for diabetes.

But that’s not all. Certain types of nuts also have plant sterols which is another cholesterol inhibitor.  So important as a cholesterol inhibitor, as a matter of fact, that plant sterols are added to things like orange juice and margarine for the health benefits. And you’ve got it all right there in a nut.

In addition, vitamin E and the amino acid L-arginine are two elements that help reduce plaque in the circulatory system, which helps to prevent clots in arteries. Nuts have so many of these healthy elements that they may be one of the most powerful food you can eat to take care of your heart.

Enjoy Nuts in Numerous Ways

The important thing to remember with nuts is, like many other things in life, too much of a good thing isn’t really good. Since nuts are dense in calories and fat, a little goes a long way. For instance, just a dozen or so cashews can have up to 180 calories. For this reason, health experts recommend limiting your daily intake of most nuts to no more than a couple of ounces. This is actually good news for your budget, since adding nuts to your healthy diet requires only a small investment for such a big return.

So, what specific nuts are best to eat regularly? There isn’t really a lot of definitive research to suggest one type of nut is better than another. Walnuts, almonds, peanuts, and cashews are popular and easy to find in most regions. You’ll also find many recipes for these particular nuts, so it’s easy to incorporate nuts into your meals as well as your snacking.

Consider substituting chopped nuts for the chocolate chips in cookies, for example.  Toss peanuts into a green salad or pasta salad for added nutrition and crunch. Use natural peanut butter on your morning toast instead of butter or jam. Walnuts are a classic choice to top a savory salad.  Chop almonds up and toss in your vanilla yogurt for a nice crunch.

You can also grind almonds, peanuts, or other nuts into a coarse meal. Use this meal to coat chicken or fish instead of using cornmeal or flour when frying or baking.  Grind the meal fine and add to smoothies in your blender.  Almonds can be ground into a flour consistency and can be used in many dishes as a substitute for wheat flour. This gluten-free flour alternative has become very popular in recent years.

It’s best to buy shelled, unsalted, or minimally processed varieties of nuts in small quantities. You can also protect fresh nuts from oxidation by storing them in a cool, dark, dry place.  Or you can store nuts in an airtight container in the refrigerator or freezer. The oils that naturally occur in nuts can become rancid if exposed to heat and air.

Adding small amounts of nuts to your diet will provide your body with big benefits.  Choose a variety of nuts, store them properly, and enjoy a handful of crunchy nutrition every day.

Red White and Blue – July 4th Healthy Dessert Recipe

I have attending a “Health Starts Here” classes at Whole Foods Market for the past 5 weeks.  One of the recipes Katherine (our facilitator) shared with us is this simply delicious Berry Crumble Dessert.  She made it and we got a chance to taste it.  This is soooo yummy!

The whole family will love this! The colors are beautiful and make the perfect dessert to conclude a 4th of July get-together.

Berry Crumble

2 cups Blueberries

2 cups Strawberries

2 Tablespoon Date Paste

1/2 cup Chopped pecans and walnuts

Steps:

1. Take the tops off the strawberries and slice.

2. Add blueberries to strawberry slices.

3. Use about 2 tablespoons of date paste

4.  Mix it all together with your hands until all the fruit is coated with the date paste.

5.  Top the fruit mixture with the chopped nuts.

You might want to top with whipped topping or cashew cream.

Cashew Cream

1 Cup – Cashews soaked overnight

Enough purified water to make the mixture creamy.

Drain the cashews.

Place the cashews in the blender (Vitamix or Blendtec give the smoothest results)

Add water until the creamy consistency that you want.

Pour over the Berry Crumble.

Have a safe and enjoyable July 4th!!

GTGF
Image: m_bartosch / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Tia Mowry is a “Mommy” – New Son with Husband Cory Hardrict

Do you remember Tia Mowry from “Sister, Sister” with her sister Tamara?  Well, now she is a mom!  Congratulations to Tia and Cory!  Welcome to the world little one!

Not long ago Kourtney Khardashian became a mom too.  Kourtney partnered with author Ruth Yaron and talked about Super Baby Food.  Ruth and Kourtney have a video for new moms that talks about the First 6 Months of a baby’s life.  Watch the video here.  There are more video and a link to order the cookbook.

Super Baby Food Third Edition-Table of Contents –

What People are saying about the Book:

 Super Baby Food- by Ruth Yaron

“Super Baby Food is encyclopedic in both scope and size. Ounce for hefty ounce, this manual/cookbook/reference guide is worth its weight in formula.”

—      Sumi Hahn, Amazon.com Reviewer

 

“I cannot say enough how much I like this book… In short, it is almost 600 pages of everything you have ever wanted to know about preparing your own vegetarian baby food.”

—       Shayla Roberts, Vegafamily.com Reviewer

 

“Ruth Yaron challenges our ideas of traditional baby food by offering up other ingredients for home-blended meals.  She explains how to whirl up vegetables and fruits in your blender and then dump it into ice cube trays to freeze and store.”

—       Joy Hatch, Greenbaby.com Reviewer

Absolutely everything parents should know about feeding their baby and toddler, including age-appropriate foods, food safety, sample menus, and more than 300 recipes. Healthy, organic foods are encouraged along with green housekeeping techniques.  This quintessential guide includes everything from baby’s physical eating skills at each age to fill-in diet worksheets for proper nutrition.  The new third edition scheduled for release in October of 2010 will also include new chapters for mothers with diet and health tips during preconception, pregnancy, and breastfeeding.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ruth Yaron is married with three children and lives near the Pocono Mountains in Pennsylvania. When her twins were born 18 years ago, they were ten weeks premature and very sick. This is what prompted years of research on pediatric nutrition. When her third son was born in 1994, she was able to quit her job as a professor at a local university and become a stay-at-home mom. During the next two years, she wrote the Super Baby Food Book, which became a best seller and is still the best-selling book on the subject of feeding babies solid foods.

* * * * * * * * * * *

 Super Baby Food has sold almost 500,000 copies.

 The Third Edition of Super Baby Food will be released in February 2011.

An Iphone App for Super Baby Food will be released in August of 2010.

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More information about the book and author can be found at http://www.SuperBabyFood.com

Title: Super Baby Food

Author: Ruth Yaron

Price: $19.95

Pages: 608

Size: 8.4” x 5.5” x 1.3”

Publication Date: June, 1998

Publisher: FJRoberts Publishing

ISBN: 0965260313