W is for Watercress

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Watercress:  peppery tasting and beautiful looking!  This is by far one of my favorite greens!  I love the depth of flavor and the fact that it pairs so well with so many other foods.  I don’t have an actual “recipe” for this amazingly rich mineral herb – my “go to” way of eating this green is to just throw a HUGE handful on my plate and whatever entree I am making, I throw on top of it.  Voila!  Lunch or dinner is served!  My husbands favorite way….  a beautifully seared filet mignon on a bed of watercress that is splashed with olive oil, a splash of white balsamic vinegar and a dash of himalayan sea salt.  Can we all say “easy”?!

Now here’s my favorite part of this tasty little green:  85% of its calories are due to protein!  (always a major help with weight management!)  It is rich in iodine, iron, vitamins A, C and E, if full of antioxidants and folate.  I don’t know if you’ve caught recent episodes of Dr. Oz or check out his website periodically, but he has been known to say that watercress paired with salmon is especially effective in reducing risks of kidney cancer, leukemia as well as skin and breast cancer.  Good to know!!  (Have you fallen in love with this green a little more just now?)

I am thrilled that pretty much every grocery store sells Watercress now!  It makes it so easy to eat healthy!!  Just remember to buy organic!  With all the pesticides used, organic is the only safe way to eat – especially with such a fragile, small herb as this one is!

V is for Vegetables!

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Of everything that is written, spoken, researched and shared we all know that we can only improve our health by eating more vegetables on a daily basis.  There are numerous benefits of eating raw, fresh, organic veggies – we get it.  We know what we should eat and what we need to stay away from.  YET, so many of us have a tough time living by what we “know”.  Why?  Why will most of us (and when I say “us” – I include myself in this group of people) choose a piece of dark-salted chocolate over a crunchy carrot?  (Wait.  Maybe I’m the only one who actually does this…. )  I mean, fresh vegetables are full of nutrition and fiber.  They are low in calories and some are even high in protein (sea vegs, beans, lentils, edamame).  They help prevent chronic diseases and can even reverse them! (diabetes, hypertension, cancers, etc… “etc” really meaning ETC!).  They increase antioxidant activity and help detoxify the body.  They have medicinal value.  They satisfy hunger and help quench sugar addictions.  They have antibiotic, antiviral and antifungal properties.  I can go on and on.  And on.

So as I sit here, with my refrigerator packed to the gill with all the veggies I could get my hands on, why do “we” struggle with adding more fresh vegetables to our diets each day?  Ya know what?  I’m not so worried with the answer to that question…. I’m more concerned with changing some bad habits.  For you and me.

My new motto to live by is this:  “If it came from a plant, eat it; if it was made in a plant, don’t.”  So easy, don’t you think?  (I don’t know who originally came up with this common sense statement, but I definitely am using it in my life)   I am putting recipes together, making lists of my family’s favorite veggies and planning my monthly menu.  And you guessed it… everything will be made with adding more vegetables to each meal.  The next 30 days I will be “Veggin’ Out”!  I’ll take it one day at a time….  adding more, replacing others, etc  If you care to join me, let me know!  I’ll share my menu plan with you… including some recipes and quick idea’s.

Looking forward to taking this healthy journey with you!

U is for Ugli-Fruit

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How many of us have seen Ugli fruit in the produce aisle or the farmers market and passed it up because of its – well the only way to say it is – it’s ugliness?  I have not met many people who have tried this exotic variety of orange, grapefruit & tangerine fruit.   It’s sweet and juicy yet with a taste of lemon & tangerine combined.  In my book, you can’t go wrong with those qualities!  Its filled with vitamins C and B; it promotes healthy gums and fights cardiovascular disease; and it protects against kidney stone formation.

You can peel and divide the segments just as you would an orange; but my favorite is juicing it with limes and fresh mint – truly refreshing on a hot summer day!

So next time you catch a glimpse of this “ugly” ugli fruit – don’t pass it by, instead place it in your basket and rush home to try it!  I really don’t think you’ll be disappointed!!

S is for Spinach!

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I know, I know.  Everyone is fully aware of how beneficial it is to have a daily serving of spinach.  But do you really know how big of a powerhouse this dark, green, leafy vegetable is?  Yes, it’s full of Vitamins K & A, fiber, calcium and protein.  Yes, it improves cardiovascular health, combats cancers and improves brain function.   But did you know spinach is a great source of essential amino acids? Or that it has a high mineral content?   For all these reasons, we all should be having a FULL serving of fresh spinach EVERY day.

Here are a few tips from my kitchen to yours: I make my fruit smoothies with organic baby spinach.  I throw in a huge handful of it when I make my blueberry juice.  It’s my staple in every salad I prepare.  I’ve been known to “line” my dinner plates with a fist-full and then add whatever it is I am serving.  If it’s something hot… I get a beautiful wilted spinach that soaks up the flavor.  If it’s something cold, I get the sweet crunch of the raw gem.  What you will ALWAYS find in my refrigerator…. organic baby spinach.  Whether I am sneaking it in my kids snacks, or basing a whole meal around this tender veggie – I typically don’t let a day go by without having a double-dose of this powerhouse!

Chop it, wilt it, do nothing to it…  just buy it and eat it everyday.  Here’s to boosting up your health!

R is for Raspberries!

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Who doesn’t love the sweet, tart, melt in your mouth raspberry?  The color is flawless pink, the size is delicate and ideal, the taste is summer-time perfection!

Raspberries are a 50% higher antioxidant than strawberries.  They may even have cancer protective properties and are filled with Vitamins C, K & E; potassium, fiber, manganese, folate, omega 3’s and copper.  Basically, they are a yummy, beneficial treat!

When I whip up a batch of oatmeal pancakes I make a quick raspberry puree that I also use in my “grown-up”  PB&J sand’s…. Almond Butter + Raspberry = Delish.   I know raspberries can be expensive at times; but I think they’re well worth the splurge! Don’t you?!

Q is for Quince

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These pretty little fruits are in the same families as the pear & apple … and eaten the same way.  Although I have yet to find them at my local grocery store, I see them at Whole Foods.  They’re a nice change from having the everyday apple; and they’re filled with Vitamins A, B’s & C, fiber, folate, iron, magnesium, phosphorus and potassium.  They have anti-oxidant and anti-viral properties.  I also found out they are good for gastric ulcers and aids in digestion!

Listen, no one can go wrong in upping their intake of fresh, raw veggies and fruits.  And the more I study what all these plant-based foods combat and heal – the more I am convinced at least 80% of our diets should consist of raw eating.  Think about it… it’s not that difficult.  Breakfast of fresh fruit every morning and raw groats.  Easy.  Lunch a decent size salad of leafy greens and herbs tossed with raw pea’s and drizzled with fresh lemon juice.  Done.   Snacks = fresh veggie juice or smoothie (no dairy!).   Quick & yummy.  And last but not least, Dinner…  a plate piled with chopped raw veggies, legumes, quinoa (or millet) and possibly a SMALL piece of meat.  Eating just one day a week that mirrors this… will give your body a boost!  Try it…. just even one day.  See how you feel…  see if you have more energy, feel healthier, cleaner.  Then the following week up it to 3 days.   Doing this will add benefits to your health… and who doesn’t want or need more benefits!?

P is for Pea’s… English Pea’s that is!

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When I see English Pea’s at the local farms & markets, I know its a beautiful spring!  These Pea’s are such a treat!  They are no where near the pea’s of our past – sodium-filled mush in a can – or even close to the pea’s we American’s are so used to in the frozen section that we try to force feed our infants & toddlers.  No.  These pea’s are the epitome of spring…  fresh, tender, sweet, pure.   (Can you tell I’m fond of these?)

English Pea’s are best eaten (in my opinion) raw… right out of the pods!  I try to add them to my salads but as I shuck the tender pea’s out – I pop them in my mouth.  They never really make it much further than that.  But I bet they’re great in any salad!   I’ve also heard you can make a simple spread for crostini or even a sandwich by processing the pea’s with garlic, cilantro and parmesan cheese…  When I have an over-abundance next time, I plan on trying that.  Maybe.  Oh, who am I kidding….I’ll never get that far.

And did you know these English Pea’s are filled with phytonutrients, which is a key antioxidant & anti-inflammatory?  Studies have shown that by consuming these spring treasures it can lower your risk of stomach cancers.  There are Omega’s 3 & 6, Vitamin E & beta-carotene in these little morsels as well.  Get this!  They have more protein than 1 TBS of Peanut Butter or 1 whole egg!  Who knew????  I was just happy with the pure taste of spring popping in my mouth!

Next time you’re at the farmers market, look for these gems!  Just remember:  the pods are inedible!