Kids

Super Baby Food Book

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I’m giving away 2 of these books. If you are a mom with a young baby or if you have a friend or family member you like to give this to just type in comments below why I should choose you to give this book to you.

Write in the comments and the winner will be chosen at the end of this month July 31, 2014

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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 Food Series

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.

Super Food Series

Super Food Series: Broccoli the Booster for your Every Body

When former President George W. Bush made his shocking proclamation that he didn’t like broccoli and that he wasn’t about to eat any, you could almost hear parents across the country gasping. While some kids might have praised the proclamation as an excuse to justify their own broccoli beliefs, the popularity of  broccoli has really never wavered. Parents still are finding ways to get broccoli on their kids’ plates by using any means possible. Let’s take a look at what this versatile vegetable has to offer.

What’s In It for Me

Today, broccoli remains one of the best selling vegetables in America for many reasons. This low-calorie, nutrient-rich vegetable has been praised for some miraculous health benefits. This list of benefits includes fighting cancer, boosting our immune systems, building stronger bones, and lowering the risk for cataracts. Broccoli earns its distinction as one of the top super foods in diets around the world.

Broccoli is a very good source of dietary fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, B6, folate, potassium and manganese. We’re familiar with most of these, of course, but did you know that folate is linked to reducing birth defects and heart disease? Along with these nutrients, broccoli is also a good source of protein, vitamin E, thiamin, riboflavin, calcium, and iron.

The words super-food and antioxidant often go together, and broccoli is no exception.  Rich in antioxidants, those damaging free-radicals don’t stand a chance against broccoli.  One of those antioxidants is Q10 which helps the body produce energy. Another specific component of broccoli’s superpower status involves a compound called sulforaphane which triggers potent anti-cancer enzymes. These enzymes are also effective in eliminating bacteria that can cause peptic ulcers.

And, you don’t have to eat a lot of broccoli to get all these super nutrients. Just one cup of broccoli provides over 40 milligrams of calcium and almost 80 milligrams of vitamin C. That even beats milk as a nutritional food source.  All this nutrition is available in only 25 calories, plus broccoli is very low in saturated fat and cholesterol.

Choosing the Right Bunch

Selecting fresh broccoli isn’t difficult. Look for sturdy stalks with compact, dark green florets, and avoid wilted specimens with yellowing buds, as these stalks are already past their prime. Broccoli stores well in the refrigerator for up to three days before losing its vitamin content. In some supermarkets, you will even find hybrids like broccoflower or broccolini, which combine kale or cauliflower with broccoli.

Trim any leaves from the stalk and trim the woody end of the stalk off the bottom. If you prefer to eat only the florets, or your recipe calls for just the florets, cut the broccoli florets off the stalk, rinse under running water, and drain. Save the stalks for another recipe if desired.

Cooking and Serving Tips

Broccoli is one of the more versatile vegetables you can eat, holding up well in a number of recipes and cooking methods. Of course, the closer you keep your broccoli to its raw state, the more nutrients you will maintain.

If you are cooking your broccoli to serve as a side dish, you should only cook it for a few moments, until the florets turn bright green. Cooking broccoli for more time than necessary causes the nutritional benefits to deteriorate.  If the broccoli becomes mushy during steaming or boiling, it’s cooked too long.  You may choose to flash-cook the broccoli in a microwave to keep the cooking time short and to maintain more of the nutrients. Although, the microwave debate still goes on about whether it reduces or destroys nutrients in broccoli. You decide.
Image: Master isolated images / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Ideas, Kids, Super Food Series

Super Foods Series – Top Six Benefits of Blueberries

 Image: Michelle Meiklejohn / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The Boastful Blueberry – A Super Food With Bragging Rights

Blueberries are one of the super foods we hear a lot about. These delicious, deep  blue summer berries are well-known for their antioxidants, containing the highest amount of any other berries. However, blueberries have some other specific health benefits that are worth talking about. Let’s take a look.

Big Benefits In A Sweet Little Berry

The list of health 6 benefits from eating blueberries is stacking up,Couldn’t your body benefit from a little extra blueberry goodness? Kids love them too.

1.  If you’re looking for a low-calorie, high-fiber fruit with lots to offer your health, blueberries may be just what you need. One cup of blueberries has less than 100 calories, and offers one-quarter of your daily requirement for Vitamin C.

2.  Loaded with vitamins and minerals, blueberries can boast about nutrients that are significant in keeping your brain healthy. Specifically, scientists claim that blueberries maintain and restore a healthy nervous system, prevent the death of brain cells that lead to health concerns like Alzheimer’s disease, and keep your memory sharp for a long time. That’s a lot of brain power.

3.  Better Continue reading “Super Foods Series – Top Six Benefits of Blueberries”