Asparagus is delicious and packed full of Nutrients–April 19, 2011
Asparagus contains folate, rutin and glutathione. Glutathione is helpful for healthy liver function. Gluthathione is a small protein composed of three amino acids: cysteine, glutamic acid, and glycine. Nutrition researchers have regarded it as the most valuable detoxifying agent in the human body.
Funny Fact: not everyone, but depending on your genetic makeup, after eating asparagus your urine may smell funny. In fact, it’s the result of a simple chemical reaction. Asparagus contains a sulfur compound called mercaptan. (It’s also found in rotten eggs, onions, garlic, and in the secretions of skunks.) When your digestive tract breaks down this substance, by-products are released that cause the funny scent. The process is so quick that your urine can develop the distinctive smell within 15 to 30 minutes of eating asparagus.
Tofu–Why we need it!–April 16, 2011
It is high in protein and calcium and well known for its ability to absorb new flavors through spices and marinades. Due to its chameleon-like qualities and nutritional value, tofu, a staple of Asian cuisines for hundreds of years, has recently become popular in Western vegetarian cooking. Tofu is a great addition to many types of food. A lot of times you won’t even know it is the recipe b/c it really does take on the taste of whatever it is you are making. It has a consistency of meat (somewhat), so if you are new to being vegetarian/vegan or just don’t feel like meat, your senses will be tricked. It is made of soybeans and water, but is packed full of nutritional value. Most restaurants now offer tofu in place of shrimp, chicken or whatever. Give it a try! It had a bad rap for the way it tastes, but now a days there are many good tofu companies out there. You’ll never know if you don’t try!
How Berries Pack a Punch and all the Health Benefits–April 15, 2011
This is a little early, but it’s a nice spring-like day here and I’m ready form some summer berries. Try to eat local as there is usually a lot less chemicals on them. Enjoy the read!
Written by Beth Sumrell Ehrensberger, MPH, RD of HealthCastle.com
After a long winter of dutifully fulfilling your fruit intake with apples, bananas and oranges, summer berries are a long-awaited treat. During the warmer months, when berries are in season, you can enjoy all the benefits these tiny fruits have to offer – and you may be surprised to learn how much more they have to offer than sweet delicious flavor.
Berry Good Health Benefits
You’ve probably heard the buzz about the health benefits of phytonutrients – naturally occurring compounds found in plants. There are hundreds of known phytonutrients, and some have antioxidant properties that can help improve immune function and reduce the risk for chronic diseases like cancer and heart disease. Since phytonutrients are most concentrated in the peel or skin of fruits and vegetables, berries – with their edible skin and high skin-to-fruit ratio – are an especially concentrated phytonutrient source. Blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, and strawberries all have particularly high ORAC scores (ORAC is a scientific measurement of antioxidant content) and are four of the top 20 food sources of antioxidants. The blueberry has the highest ORAC score of all the berries.
Berry benefits don’t stop at chronic disease prevention. A low-calorie, high-fiber choice, berries make a satisfying snack or addition to any meal. You can also find nutrients like folic acid and vitamin C in abundance in berries. In fact, you may be surprised to learn that a serving of strawberries has even more vitamin C than an orange!
Tips for Enjoying and Preparing Berries
When you’re shopping, select berries that are firm and deeply colored. (Berries with deep, vibrant color are packed with even more phytonutrients.) Avoid berries with moldy spots, and to best preserve the fruit, don’t wash it until you are ready to eat it.
Berries can be eaten on their own or tossed into yogurt, smoothies, breakfast cereal, or fruit salad. Try adding berries to a green salad for an interesting, delicious twist on the conventional supper side dish. Or, puree berries with a touch of ground chipotle pepper for a sweet and spicy glaze on roasted meats.
Local Berries are the Best
When possible, purchase berries from local farm markets during the growing season. In the US, finding your local farm market should be easier than ever, since there are now more than 3,700 farm markets – more than twice as many as there were in 1994. Since fruits and vegetables begin to lose nutrients soon after they are picked, local produce provides the most nutrition because of the reduced time between harvest and consumption. Plus, freshly picked berries have unbeatable flavor on top of their extra health benefits. If you have kids (or you’re a kid at heart), a trip to the pick-your-own berry patch is a fun way to gain a broader appreciation for produce – and, of course, to taste your own freshly picked bounty. But hurry – berry season doesn’t last long!
The Bottom Line
Though small in size, berries pack in big benefits. A low-calorie treat full of fiber and chronic-disease-fighting antioxidants, berries are always a healthy and versatile choice. Berries that are consumed closest to harvest time are the most nutritious and taste the best, so choose local berries when you can.
By: Jackie Burrell on April 13, 2011
Quinoa Revolution: Sprinkled in salads or piled like pilaf, queen grain of the Inca is a delight
Sprinkled in salads or piled like pilaf, the queen grain of the Incas is a delight.
It’s official: Quinoa has achieved cult status. The ancient Incan grain has captured the public’s imagination with its mix of nutritional superpowers, delicious flavour and rainbow colours, popping up on trendy restaurant menus and holistic health websites.
With all nine essential amino acids, it’s a complete protein — like meat — which makes it the Holy Grail of the vegetarian world. And, it’s gluten-free.
“It has an incredible cult following,” says Alex Postman, editor-in-chief for Martha Stewart’s Whole Living magazine and website, where quinoa is one of the top search terms. “It’s so nutritionally packed. But the first time I cooked it, I said, ‘What is up with this?’ I was not a quinoa connoisseur.”
That’s because there are a few small, but simple tricks for turning that bag of tiny seeds into a gustatory wunderkind. First, quinoa needs to be rinsed before use, to eliminate the bitter coating that surrounds each seed. Overcook it or use too much water, and quinoa loses its marvellous, fluffy texture. And then there’s the colour — black quinoa cooks into inky hues and red stays richly vibrant. That can be a perk or a liability.
Postman’s first quinoa escapade resulted in a terminally soggy side dish — and instead of ricelike appeal, her red quinoa was unexpectedly assertive in flavour. The darker the colour, she says, the nuttier the taste.
“It comes in a spectrum of colours, from white to pink, orange and black. I would advise first timers to start with the lighter types, because those are a little blander,” she says.
That blandness makes quinoa a perfect palette for creation.
“I’ve come to love it,” says Postman. “It’s so versatile. You can add pesto or a vinaigrette or leftover roasted veggies. It’s a really great vehicle for flavour.”
Professional chefs use quinoa in a wide range of ways. Charlie Ayers, the former Google chef, uses quinoa in soups, stuffing and salads.