Beans, Beans, Should Not Be A Musical Fruit!

Huffingtom beans.jpeg

Beans, dried beans that is, actually shouldn't make you "musical" if you are preparing them correctly. Beans are legumes-a dried fruit from a pod. There are other legumes, such as peas and peanuts. Legumes, as nuts, seeds, and grains, contain phytates. Phytates not only cause flatulence, an inflammatory response in the body, but prevent the legume's nutrients from beng utilized by the body. In order to reduce this phytic acid, soak dried beans in cool water for 6-8 hours prior to cooking.  I leave mine on the counter. Be sure to drain the soaking water and rinse the beans thoroughly.  

There are companies that soak their beans prior to canning, but that you will need to research. Canned beans should be stored in a BPA-free lined can/pouch/box, have no added salt, and preferably be organic. Canned beans can be a time saver, but be sure to read the ingredients label. There is nothing like preparing dried beans yourself.

Nutrition

Beans are part of a healthy diet for most. If you are still exhibiting symptoms after soaking, your body may be very reactive to the phytates. We'll save the lectin discussion for another time. You should feel energized and satiated after a meal. If you have bloating, gas, mucus, brain fog, etc., you may want to refrain from feeding your body the inflammation causing food(s) as much as possible. Remember, our aim is to reduce inflammation, the root cause of all major illness.

Beans are a nutritional powerhouse. Each variety packs a different punch, but what they have in common is they have both soluble and insoluble fiber, critical for promoting regularity, reducing risks of colon cancer, and helps regulate cholesterol. They are rich in folate, protein, complex carbohydrates (we need these), vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients and antioxidants. They also contain a mineral that help the absorption of iron.  Oh, and they are low in fat. If you must purchase them canned, be sure to choose wisely.

Storage

Store in a glass container with a tight sealing lid, in a cool spot away from direct sunlight.

Preparation

Farm to table, nothing like it. Sort through the beans, removing any broken beans or rocks and give them a good rinse. Soak your beans in water for 6-8 hours. I soak them first thing in the morning and they are ready to cook at the end of the day. If you are concerned about waiting for them to cook, a common complaint, cook them up for the next day and have something else ready for dinner that night. 

Dried beans taste different than canned. The texture is also different. If you have never prepareds dried beans it is simple and VERY delicious. 

Please click here for recipes. Thanks for reading my blog.

-Dawn Swope, CHHC, AADP

NOTE: IT IS IMPORTANT TO CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN BEFORE BEGINNING ANY NEW EATING OR EXERCISE PROGRAM. THESE STATEMENTS HAVE NOT BEEN EVALUATED BY THE FOOD AND DRUG ADMINISTRATION.

THIS IS NOT INTENDED TO DIAGNOSE, TREAT, CURE, OR PREVENT ANY DISEASE.


Ginger

 Photo credit: wiki-fitness

Photo credit: wiki-fitness

Do you ginger? If you don’t, you should. Ginger has many health benefits and is versatile to cook with. Everything from freshly grated ginger tea and fresh expressed ginger shots, to the most used dietary condiment in the world today.

Although ginger has many health benefits it is probably best known for calming a queasy stomach. The health benefits of ginger are largely due to its anti-inflammatory properties. Systemic inflammation is the root cause of most major illness such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes to name a few. Ginger may not only help reduce these risks, but also help fight the common cold or flu and much more. Please see Dr. Axe’s table below.

Dr. Axe Ginger.jpg

In addition the the health benefits of ginger, it really brightens up a recipe, savory or sweet. Candied ginger is amazing.

Storage

Store fresh, whole ginger in a plastic bag and refrigerate for longer storage. Personally, I leave my ginger on the counter unwrapped and break off knuckles as I go.

Preparation

Break off a knuckle or cut the amount of ginger you will be using. Use a veggie wash and thoroughly clean the ginger. A veggie brush is helpful as well. I don’t peel my ginger if I will be straining it, as in when I make tea or when I am juicing it to make shots. Peel the skin and do what you will! Slice, grate, crush.

Please click here for my ginger tea and other beverage and food recipes.

Thank you for reading my blog.

-Dawn Swope CHHC, AADP

NOTE: IT IS IMPORTANT TO CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN BEFORE BEGINNING ANY NEW EATING OR EXERCISE PROGRAM. THESE STATEMENTS HAVE NOT BEEN EVALUATED BY THE FOOD AND DRUG ADMINISTRATION.

THIS IS NOT INTENDED TO DIAGNOSE, TREAT, CURE, OR PREVENT ANY DISEASE.




Melons

 Photo Credit: © Rocky Coast Family Acupuncture | Liz Kirby Creative Consulting 2018

Photo Credit: © Rocky Coast Family Acupuncture | Liz Kirby Creative Consulting 2018

There are hundreds of varieties of melons. Cantaloupe, watermelon, and honeydew are the most popular, but your local farmer may offer other varieties. There is nothing more hydrating than a ripe, sweet, fresh melon, which contain 90% water,

Nutritional Information

Melons are low in calories and high in vitamins and minerals. They are high in vitamin C, helping to provide immune support, reducing cancer and other health risks. Some melon, such as watermelon, are high in lycopene, reducing the risk of certain cancers and heart disease. Some melon, such as cantaloup, are high in potassium, an important mineral for heart health. Cantaloup may help lower blood pressure. The melon has other health benefits as well. Eat the melon rainbow.

Storing

Ripe Melon is one of those foods that should be eaten right away. Store uncut melon on the countertop for a few days or keep refrigerated in a plastic bag for around five days. When storing a half melon, do not remove seeds and cover tightly with plastic.

Preparation

Wash thoroughly, half lengthwise, remove seeds, slice, remove rind, serve.

Please click here for recipes and thanks for reading my blog.

Dawn Swope, CHHC, AADP

NOTE: IT IS IMPORTANT TO CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN BEFORE BEGINNING ANY NEW EATING OR EXERCISE PROGRAM. THESE STATEMENTS HAVE NOT BEEN EVALUATED BY THE FOOD AND DRUG ADMINISTRATION.

THIS IS NOT INTENDED TO DIAGNOSE, TREAT, CURE, OR PREVENT ANY DISEASE.

Yam and Sweet Potato

"White" potatoes get a bad rap. They pack a nutritional punch, but much needs to be taken into account when discussing the health benefits, including sweet potato, such as food combining, how you are preparing your potato, are eating the skin, portion size, how they are consumed , bio-individuality, health issues, etc. But when you compare a white potato to a sweet, according to the Cleveland Clinic, the sweet wins. Sweet pots have less calories, 400% vitamin A, more vitamin C, more fiber, and less carbs even though they have more sugar than white pots. The challenge?  Knowing the difference between a yam and a sweet potato. They have two different nutritional profiles, however both should be part of a healthy diet for most.

 The flesh of a sweet potato, depending on the variety, can vary from white to orange and even purple. A yam is actually a different tuber all together.   Epicurious distinguishes them apart as, "A sweet potato has tapered ends and thin, smooth skin and flesh that can range from light beige to burnished orange to purplish, even. A yam is cylindrical, typically white-fleshed—there is a purple variety, too—and has rough, dark, almost hairy skin. They taste very different, too. Yams are starchy and dry. Sweet potatoes are, well, sweet and moist, some more than others. "

The first time I blogged on sweet potatoes my mind was blown.  How about yours? This is my third year blogging on this delicious tuber and I am still researching and editing.

What caused this confusion? The FDA, which regulates food labeling, doesn't have a so-called standard of identity for either sweet potatoes or yams, so either term works. Grocery stores  usually label the orange variety of sweet potato a yam.  Your local farmer would never do that.

 Photo Credit:  11/26/2013 08:47 am ET  Updated  Nov 19, 2014, Renee Jacques, Huffington Post

Photo Credit:

11/26/2013 08:47 am ET Updated Nov 19, 2014, Renee Jacques, Huffington Post

Nutrition

Afraid to eat them 'cause of their sweetness?  Don't be!!!  The sweet potato is one of those nutritionally dense foods that should be eaten despite their sweetness.   In addition to the health benefits discussed in my first paragraph, sweet potatoes have Manganese, Folate, Copper and Iron.  The darker varieties tend to have more mineral content like beta-carotene, which is best absorbed when eaten with a healthy fat.  They also have Vitamins C, B2, B6, E, and biotin.   

Here are the top 5 reasons to eat more sweet potatoes, whatever their color:

  1. Reduce Inflammation- they contain antioxidants which lower inflammation in our body.  Inflammation is the root cause for most illnesses like Asthma, Heart Disease, Gout, etc.

  2. Fiber-healthy for the digestive tract and lowering risk of certain cancers.

  3. Potassium- maintain fluid and electrolyte balance in the body which is crucial for  stabilizing blood pressure and regulating heart function Also reduces  muscle cramps.

  4. Nutritious- a rich source of dietary fiber, natural sugars, complex carbohydrates, protein, carotenoids, Vitamin C, Folate, Iron, and Calcium. They have a low glycemic index.

  5. Delicious!-they taste so good!   

Storage:

Store sweet potatoes in a dry and cool spot such as the basement or garage in the cooler months, for longer storage. This will prevent rot and sprouting.  Some find much success in storing in a paper bag. A cool spot does not mean your refrigerator. The ideal temperature range would be between 65-55 degrees. Your sweet potatoes will keep nicely on your counter for a week or two, maybe more.  The precise answer to how long you can store a sweet potato mostly depends upon storage conditions. We all have different humidity in our homes, different temperatures, etc. Also, do not store sweet potatoes near other vegetables as the sweet potatoes can cause the others to ripen more quickly than preferred. This is true for many fruits and vegetables. So your counter and tabletop displays should take this into account.

Preparation:

Scrub the potato using a vegetable brush and a veggie wash solution and rinse thoroughly. Peel if you must, but the skin contains many vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Steam them whole or cut. Roast, bake, spiralize, slice, chop, shred. Add them cooked to smoothies, salads, soups, etc.  Although they CAN be eaten raw it is  NOT a best practice.  When raw, they contain a chemical, which is cooked out,  that prevents the proper digestion of protein which can cause GI issues, such as gas and bloating.  However, raw spiralized sweet potato "noodles" are amazing! But you can cook them, too! French Fried sweet pots are delicious, but please use a healthy oil, such as coconut oil, to not eliminate the health benefits.  A fry is still a fry... unless you take extra care at the preparation and ingredients.

Please click here for recipes and thanks for reading my blog.

NOTE: IT IS IMPORTANT TO CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN BEFORE BEGINNING ANY NEW EATING OR EXERCISE PROGRAM. THESE STATEMENTS HAVE NOT BEEN EVALUATED BY THE FOOD AND DRUG ADMINISTRATION.

THIS IS NOT INTENDED TO DIAGNOSE, TREAT, CURE, OR PREVENT ANY DISEASE.

Spuds

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Potatoes are a controversial vegetable. For starters, although they are a vegetable they are nutritionally classified as a starch, in the category of white bread, pasta, white rice. Like other starches, what you combine a potato with will affect how it is metabolized. The potato is best metabolized when consumed with the skin on, as are most fruits and vegetables. 

Did you know that in addition to potatoes being one of the ultimate comfort foods, they are also packed with more vitamin C than oranges and tomatoes?  In addition to being an incredible source of vitamins and minerals, they also contain over 60 phytochemicals.  Potatoes can be part of a healthy diet, however a variety of fruits and veggies is key, healthy fats, and lean proteins are needed for a healthy balanced meal.  Most of the nutrition in the potato is stored under the skin, so try not to peel them unless absolutely necessary for a recipe.

Potatoes are categorized as "white," as in stay away from anything white such as white rice, white bread, white flour, etc.  They carry a high glycemic load, meaning that the carbohydrate digests rapidly in the body causing a spike in blood sugar similar to soda.  Ugh. Grapes are not a starch, but also have a high glycemic index.  Arguably there are better choices than potatoes and grapes for your baseline way of eating, but eating potatoes seasonally, especially from your CSA, can be a healthy choice as well if you are minding the portion size, leaving the skin on, carefully choosing what you will serve with, and not eating first thing in the morning. 

What we serve on the potato, mix with the potato, how we cook the potato, removing the skin, which meal we eat them with, can make a monster out of the potato.

Storing

Potatoes will keep for up to around ten weeks, however the "newer" the potato, the higher the nutritional value.  Discard soft potatoes, those with spuds, and remove any green areas.  To help prevent potatoes from spoiling and sprouting, avoid sunlight and store in a cool dark place , do not refrigerate, and do not store in plastic bags.

Preparing

Always wash your produce in a store bought veggie wash or in a white vinegar and water solution.  Do not use hand, body, or dish soap as they will leave chemical residue.  Wash the potatoes even if you plan on peeling them, whole and skin on, with a veggie brush, scrubbing the surface of the skin using a circular motion.   Rinse and ready to use or peel if you desire.

Potatoes can be blanched for green or nicoise salad, boiled for salad or smashed/mashed, baked, broiled, grilled, steamed, fried. 

Please click here recipes and thank you for reading my blog.

-Dawn CHHC, AADP

The Actual Peeling Back the Onion

 onion+Wikipedia.jpg

onion+Wikipedia.jpg

Onions are amazing. I know; I say this in every blog. Scallions, pearl, vidalia, shallots, ramps, leeks...this blog is about the bulb, although scallions do not have a bulb and are considered an onion. Here is Dictionary.com's definition to further clarify: an edible bulb with a pungent taste and smell, composed of several concentric layers, used in cooking.

Do you deny yourself from indulging in onions because of bad breath? Well don't! The health benefits are worth it.

Nutrition

According to Dr. Mercola, more and more health benefits of onions are still being discovered. Onions have been shown to help lower blood sugar, high cholesterol, blood pressure, reduce the risk of colon cancer and other cancers, and inflammation .  Onions are known for the antioxidant quercetin. They are a good source of vitamin C, folate, fiber, manganese (which provides cold and flu relief) , vitamin B6, and potassium, and calcium. Yes...calcium.  Overfall, eating onions is good for your health: bone, immune system, heart, eye.  Try not to peel much of the outer layers as that is where much of the flavonoids (anti-cancer, anti-diabetic, anti-inflammatory) are concentrated.

About that breath?

Reducing and possibly eliminating onion breath:

Eat fruit, especially apple
Eat vegetables such as spinach, lettuce, or potatoes
Suck on a lemon wedge or drink a glass of lemon water
Add parsley or basil to your meal

Storing

Dry, fall onions are best kept in a dark, cool but not cold, dry, well ventilated storage area and can keep for months. Not in a plastic bag nor near potatoes. 

Preparing

There are so many ways.  Most, if not all, of us peel the onion.  The skins are actually quite nutritious.  Be sure to use organic onions if you plan on using the skin. Steep the skins in soups, roasts, tea, and then discard them. The onion?  Raw, caramelized, sauteed, boiled, roasted, baked, grilled.

I think you know what to do with them, but please click here for more ideas and thanks for reading my blog.

-Dawn Swope CHHC, AADP

Tomato for Beauty and Health

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Nothing compares to a fresh picked tomato, especially when it's organic and vine ripened.  Very seldom will I purchase tomatoes off season from the grocery store.  There is no comparison in flavor and most are picked green and artificially ripened.   I would like to mention that although green tomatoes are not as nutritious as naturally ripened red, yellow, etc., they are delicious as a side dish.  Fried green tomatoes are fabulous, healthier when fried in grapeseed oil, ghee, coconut oil.  

Tomatoes are well known for their lycopene, which is most present when they are vine ripened.  The best way to get lycopene, which is in the skin and gives red tomatoes their color, and is also present in yellow tomatoes, is by cooking or processing the tomato (sauce, juice, paste).  The antioxidant properties of lycopene may protect our immune cells from destructive free radicals, therefore reducing our risk of illness.   

The tomato offers much more than this;  "It is said that there is no other known pharmacy that can cure as many things as the tomato."  Not only are they therapeutic, but useful for health and beauty.  Tomatoes contain vitamin C, which is concentrated in the jelly-like substance that encases the seeds, so best not to remove the seeds.   Many recipes advise removing the seeds, but to conserve nutrients keep the seeds.  Tomatoes contain vitamin K, which plays a key role in clotting blood and maintaining strong bones.  Vitamin A helps maintain healthy skin, hair, mucous membranes, bones and teeth.  They are extremely diuretic, cleanse the body, help reduce cholesterol levels, prevent infections, eliminate uric acid (gout).

Beauty?  It is believed that tomatoes protect the skin against ultraviolet lights.  Tomatoes and tomato products enable your skin to take in oxygen, delaying aging and wrinkling.  According to studies, lycopene contained in the tomatoes and tomato products is protective against the risk of skin cancer.

Storing

DO NOT REFRIGERATE unripened tomatoes.  Refrigerating unripened tomatoes ruins them.  For best results, store them at room temperature, stem-side down, ideally in a single layer, out of direct sunlight.  Flavor development and coloration will not take place in the refrigerator, not to mention, the texture will change.  They say that ripe tomatoes can keep in the refrigerator for around 4 days, and will need a day or two to sit at room temperature to restore flavor and texture, but I would not refrigerate them. If I have to consider "storing" my tomatoes, I wash, chop, and freeze in a freezer bag.

Preparation

The first step is always washing your produce in a store bought solution specifically formulated for produce, or use a mixture of water and white vinegar.  Tomatoes can be roasted, dehydrated, braised, sautéed, added to almost any cooked or raw dish.  They can be sliced, diced, quartered....there's so much.  Please click here for mouth watering recipes.  Thanks for reading my blog.

Dawn Swope, CHHC, AADP

The Joy of Daikon

 Photo Credit: Johnny's Selected Seeds

Photo Credit: Johnny's Selected Seeds

It seems in my experience that radishes are overlooked much of the time.  Can you remember being told to finish your radishes before you can leave the dinner table?  It seems to be the last thing left on the crudité platter if it is included at all.  The radish is usually appreciated for it’s pretty color and ease of cutting into a pretty flower.  It accompanies, but is seldom, the main event. Today I am featuring the daikon radish.  It IS the main event.   As a member of the cruciferous vegetables, like broccoli, radishes have amazing health benefits.  It is time to start paying more attention to the radish.

6 Reasons to eat your radishes:

  1. Detoxifying-helps to break down and eliminate toxins,
  2. Digestive Aid- helps to relieve bloating and indigestion and aids in the digestive process,
  3. Low in calories and high in nutrients,
  4. Nourishing and hydrating- high vitamins A and C, Folate, fiber, riboflavin, and potassium,
  5. Cruciferous- helps to eliminate the cancer-causing free radicals.  Radishes contain many phytonutrients that aid in cancer prevention,
  6. Bolsters your immunity.

The daikon radish offers the health benefits of a radish, but less peppery in flavor with lots of crunch.  Cooked, the daikon tastes much like a turnip. Not only are they used in culinary, but medicinally as well, like all real food.  The radish greens can be eaten as well of course. 

Storage

To keep the radish fresh, remove the greens prior to storing, wash, and wrap in a damp paper towel prior to sealing them in a container or plastic bag. 

Preparation

They can be eaten raw, roasted, broiled, steamed, grilled, shredded, chopped, sliced.  Don’t forget to eat your radishes today.  Please click here for recipes.

Thank you for reading.

Dawn Swope, CHHC, AADP

Sweet Bell Peppers

 Photo Credit: KitchenProject.com

Photo Credit: KitchenProject.com

Bell peppers come in a rainbow of colors. Do you have a favorite?  I prefer the flavor of orange and yellow, although purple is such a treat. Purple is also difficult to find; your best bet is to look for them at specialty markets or your local farmer's market.

Did you know that yellow, orange, and red peppers all start out as green peppers? The green pepper unripened.  As the pepper begins to ripen it turns yellow, and continues to ripen into orange, until it is finally the sweetest at red. If you have ever wondered why bell peppers differ in price, it's because the darker the pepper ripens, the more time it takes to grow, thus the higher price.

Nutrition

Bell peppers are mostly made up of water. They are abundant in vitamin C, more than a medium size orange, and lots of other vitamins, minerals, protein, and several antioxidants. The more colorful the pepper, the more antioxidants, but any color bell pepper is a good bell pepper. Peppers are on the Dirty Dozen list, meaning that the residue persists even after the pepper is washed and peeled even, so it's best to buy them locally and/or organic.  Pesticides are chemicals and chemicals accumulate in the body. I'll save this topic for another blog.   Bell peppers are a member of the nightshade family. If you do not have an inflammatory reaction to peppers they are a food that will help reduce your health risks.

Storing

Since peppers are mostly water, store them unwashed and whole in your crisper drawer where they can keep for 1-2 weeks depending on your fridge.  It is said that storing on the counter will begin to shrivel the pepper, that it begins losing moisture. If you are storing a partial pepper, leave the seeds in and seal in a plastic bag with a paper towel. 

Preparation

Thoroughly wash your bell pepper. Cut the stem by cutting around it in a circle. This should remove most of the seeds. Cut in half lengthwise or widthwise, remove any remaining seeds and if you prefer, the white "ribs."

Eat raw, roasted, grilled, sauteed, stir-fried, baked, steamed. Add to salads, blend with hummus, stuff them, puree them. 

Please click here for recipes.

Thank you for reading my blog.

-Dawn Swope CHHC, AADP

Zucchini, Italian Squash, Courgette: It's all Summer Squash

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I have blogged on zucchini and other summer squash and I thought I knew what they are.  As I reviewed a couple of my past blogs to create this one, I began to research for any additional information to add, remove, or correct.  In this case I did all three!

What is the difference between zucchini, Italian squash, and courgette? Well, I believe they are the same plant and are of course considered summer squash because of the time of year they are harvested and because of their thin skin. The standard?  We call the green ones zucchini and the yellow, yellow squash.  I would like you to consider, if you haven't already, or maybe you know and I don't, that the green and yellow colored squash are zucchini, even if they are yellow crookneck and straightneck.  And that this zucchini is called something else as well: Italian squash, courgette. And that there are more varieties of this such as golden zucchini, tatume, costata romanesco. For the purposes of this blog, I will refer to them as zucchini, because that is what I was raised knowing in an Italian family.

Nutrition

The small to medium size zucchini are more flavorful and have less seeds. Zucchini are very low calorie, contain no fat, and are loaded with flavonoid antioxidants which greatly reduce our risk of illness and slow down the aging process, and are contained mostly in the skin. Zucchini is rich in potassium, more than a banana, which will aid in many things including blood pressure. Zucchini also contains iron, zinc, magnesium and B complex vitamins.

Mangia!  

GMO

Best to purchase local-organic, local, or organic as most zucchini varieties are genetically modified.

Storage

 Zucchini is best stored in the refrigerator, unwashed, in a plastic bag that has had a few holes poked in it for airflow, and then placed in the vegetable crisper drawer. It should last approximately 1 week.  If you house is cool, you can usually store countertop for about the same time and in my experience maybe even longer.

Overflowing in zucchini? Wash, cut into the shape/pieces you prefer, freeze in a freezer bag. 

Preparation

Always wash your produce in a store bought veggie wash or in a white vinegar and water solution. A scrub brush should not be necessary with summer squash and will compromise the skin.

Zucchini varieties can be used interchangeably in recipes. Each can be eaten raw, steamed, roasted, grilled, sauteed, etc.  They can be cut in half, hollowed out and stuffed.  They can be sliced, you choose the thickness, into raw "crackers." So it is virtually impossible to tire of Summer Squash. 

Eaten raw, they can be added to smoothies, giving texture, fiber, vitamins and minerals, a nutritional boost for only about 46 calories/cup, and you won't even taste it!  Do you spriralize? You can make delicious, fun, "noodles" and serve raw or lightly sauteed. Serve as a "pasta" dish, add to salads, it can BE the salad, or as a raw side-dish.  Zucchini can be cut into chunks or julienne for a veggie platter or a snack.  You can add these squashes to just about anything, including dessert breads, savory breads, cakes, muffins, soups... 

Please click here for recipes.

Thanks for reading my blog.

-Dawn Swope CHHC, AADP

Kale

 Photo Credit: Cary Neff

Photo Credit: Cary Neff

Are you in the Kale Camp?

Are you tired of hearing about kale?  I am giggling as I write this.  I have been involved in many kale discussions and arguments.  People usually love it or hate it, and most have an opinion.  Why so much ado about kale?  Well, aside from ornamental kale decorating gardens, it is a member of, as Dr. Axe would say, "the illustrious group of cancer fighting cruciferous vegetables."  There are many types of kale, classified by leaf type.  All have the nutrition and health benefits of the brassica (Cruciferous) family, and of course it's own phytonutrient that makes IT special.  Kale is a natural detoxifier, a nutritional powerhouse, and anti-inflammatory. Basically kale may help reduce MANY health risks and can improve your health.  

Don't love kale?  Maybe, or maybe you have not prepared it in a way that is palatable for you. Give some of my recipes a try.

Storing: Store unwashed kale in the coldest part of the refrigerator. Kale tends to get more bitter the longer it is left at room temperature. Tightly wrap in a paper towel and then place it in an airtight bag.  If you will use it the same day, place it in a water, like a bouquet of flowers, on the counter.

Washing: Always wash your produce with a white vinegar and water solution or a store bought veggie liquid or spray.  I use a salad spinner and soak my leaves.

Preparing:  I do not do this all the time, but it is recommended to tear the leaves from the middle vein.  It makes for a more tender dish.  Kale can be cooked any which way and added to anything, even cupcakes!  For salads and side dishes, it's nice to tenderize the kale by massaging it with your hands and letting the kale marinate if you are using it in a raw salad. So chop, rip, blend, juice, roll, or leave as is.

References: https://draxe.com/health-benefits-of-kale/

Carrots

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Where do carrots fall on your list of healthy foods to eat?  I for one, was ready to un-include them from my veggie platter long before I became a Health Coach....

I am the designated Veggie Platter Master in my family. I can't recall the first time I was actually assigned this dish. I come from an Italian background, following the typical Italian Holiday traditions.  In addition to the calendar Holidays in which I am required to create a platter, we find any excuse to gather together and celebrate: birthdays, change of season, life. There was a time when I was insulted that ALL I was assigned was this "boring" platter. Did the family elders think I did not know how to cook?  Did they not like my cooking?  Did nobody else want the tedious tasks of washing, scrubbing, peeling, blanching, creating, arranging?  And the dip... creating a dip that would appeal to most and of course did not contain any artificial anything including dyes, emulsifiers, flavor enhancers, etc.? OK, so I am getting to the discussion of carrots, but let me just answer....No....they did not want the tedious tasks, nor did anybody approach their veggie platter quite as thoroughly as I do. My family has given me the VPM (Veggie Platter Master) title because my vegetables are extra clean, either fresh from my organic CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) when available, or from the store, organic when we are referring to the Dirty Dozen (which is more like the dirty 14 or so). At some point I became bored with carrots, but their beautiful orange color (there are also purple and yellow varieties) redeemed them.  Can you list 5 orange vegetables?  

There are many reasons why you should be eating carrots and why you should NEVER give them up because a "diet"  tells you they are too sweet or will add to your sugar cravings;  give up the diet if that's the case!  Quite simply, carrots  are amazing.  They are a delicious addition and you can add them to practically anything such as smoothies, soups, salads, juices, or simply on their own: raw or cooked, whole, sticks, shredded, spiraled, ribboned, chopped, rounds. Carrots come in a variety of colors such as purple, red, white, and yellow, and most often orange, They are quite nutritious.  Do you eat the rainbow?  The color of  fruits and vegetables is indicative of their phytochemicals-  the substances occurring naturally and only in plants, providing health benefits beyond essential nutrients- different ones for different colors.  These phytochemicals are what fight disease.  Each color represents a different phytochemical.  What gives a carrot it's orange color?  Beta-cryptoxanthin, beta-carotene, and alpha-carotene.  These are called carotenoids and can be converted in the body to vitamin A, a nutrient that is integral for vision and immune function, as well as skin and bone health.  As if this is not a good enough explanation as to the goodness of the carrot, how about these:

  • Digestion:  Eating carrots regularly may prevent  gastric ulcers and other digestive disorders.
  • Potassium:  Helps reduce blood pressure and lower your risks for heart disease.  It is one of the bodies most important electrolytes.  Potassium deficiency can cause muscle cramps.
  • Dental Health:  Help prevent tooth decay and kill germs.
  • Phytonutrient:  Contains falcarinol, which may reduce the risk of colon cancer.
  • Fiber:  High in soluble fiber which may reduce cholesterol.

    If you are tired of carrot sticks and hummus, click here for recipes.

Thank you for reading my blog.

-Dawn Swope CHHC, AADP

Garlic Scapes!

This time of year, if you have been visiting your farmers markets, you may have noticed these tangles of garlic scapes, the flower buds of garlic.  These scapes are what grow from the garlic bulb when the garlic is left unharvested.  Although they look really interesting displayed as a bouquet, you don't want to miss out on how delicious they are.

You can eat them raw or cooked.  More mild than the garlic bulb, add them to anything, whole, chopped into big or small pieces, or processed with or as pesto. 

Nutritional Value: Similar to the bulb, the scapes help reduce your risks of cancer and other major illness, helping to keep our organs and bones healthy.  They also help the body detox, which the body needs MUCH support with even though we are detoxing every second of every day.  Our bodies today are overburdened. 

Storage: They will keep for weeks in the fridge, unwashed, and in a plastic bag.

Prep: simply wash and discard the stingy tip and any part that isn't green. Scapes are versatile; add them to anything and everything, cook any which way.  For ideas, please click on the recipe button below.

Thank you for reading my blog!

To Your Amazing Health,

Dawn Swope CHHC, AADP

Lettuce Be Healthy!!!

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There are many types of lettuce. Nutritionally speaking, the more colorful or darker the leaf, the more nutritional value it has. Iceberg does not offer much besides hydration and some fiber. Romaine is an excellent choice, containing double the nutrients (including plant protein) than iceberg, and this time of the year is perfect on the grill. There are so many ways to fix a salad, I am always bewildered when I hear someone comment that they are sick of them.

Did you know lettuce:

  • Heart healthy
  • Low in calories and actually helps weight loss and maintenance 
  • Omega 3's
  • Protein
  • High in fiber
  • Alkaline
  • Low glycemic
  • Hydrating
  • Calming to the body and may help you sleep
  • Living plant

Lettuce is a very healthy part of the diet for most. 

Storing

Store wrapped in a paper towel and sealed in a plastic bag. I like to soak in a veggie wash and spin dry, first. I separate layers of lettuce with a sheet of paper towel and seal in a large ziplock baggie.

Preparation

Thoroughly wash your lettuce and serve, or wilt with a warm dressing, grill, saute, use as a wrap...

Thanks for reading my blog and please click on the button below for recipes.

-Dawn Swope, CHHC

Strawberry!

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This is such a wonderful time of year.  The flowers are blooming, the grass is green, and strawberries are in season.  There is nothing like a local, organic strawberry, recently picked.  The picture above is not from stock, but is a photo of the organic strawberries picked fresh from Upper Pond Farm here in the Lyme-Old Lyme area. Conventional (non-organic) strawberries have been #1 on the Dirty Dozen list since the list was created several years ago, containing some of the highest amounts of pesticide residue.  These pesticides and chemicals are also found systemically (can't be washed off).  Industrial farmed organic strawberries are not much better.  Buy your strawberries local, organic local when available. Click here for information on the Dirty Dozen. 

Strawberries are high in vitamin C.  They also contain large amounts of folate (B9), manganese, potassium, iodine, and fiber.  Strawberries have high amounts of antioxidants and phytonutrients and are considered one of the best foods to eat.  Antioxidants keep the free radicals in check.  Free radicals cause cell damage;  we NEED healthy cells.  Strawberries help lower blood pressure, stabilize blood sugar, and reduce your cancer risks.  This berry is considered a Superfood.

Strawberries are delicate and perishable.  They are best stored uncovered on your countertop and consumed within 24-hours, or stored in your refrigerator in a sealed container, preferably in the fruit drawer, for up to two days.  Store them unwashed with stem on and remove any moldy, wet, or damaged strawberries.  Longer than two days, strawberries begin to lose vitamin C and antioxidants quickly, the reason we are supposed to eat them!  Strawberries should be washed, dried as best you can, and frozen if not consumed within two days.

Preparing strawberries is very simple.  Hull your strawberries with a knife, straw, or strawberry huller.  As with all produce, wash thoroughly.  I soak my produce in a solution of white vinegar and water, or use a store-bought produce wash. Remember to rinse well.

Please click on the button below for recipes.

Thanks for reading my blog.

-Dawn Swope CHHC, AADP

MICROGREENS!!!

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Microgreens are a vegetable green. They are smaller than baby greens, bigger than sprouts, and have about 40% more in nutrients than their full grown counterparts. Microgreens pack big flavor from mild to spicy.  You can add them to just about anything and you will instantly improve the nutrition of what you are eating.

Nutrition

Microgreens are considered a "superfood," a real superfood that I am not marketing here for any other gain except that you should try them. Each microgreen plant tastes different, so find the one(s) you like. I LOVE them ALL!

Storing

Wrap unwashed in a damp paper towel, sealed in a plastic bag or glass container. Should keep in the fridge for about a week or more. 

Preparation

Always wash your produce with a store-bought veggie wash or a solution of water and white vinegar. That's it. You are good to go! Best eaten raw, add them to everything. Not only are you increasing the nutritional density of your meal, you are making a work of art. 

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Photo Credit: Farmbox Greens

I like them atop my avocado toast, on my grilled panini, sprinkled on my plate as an edible garnish. I like a salad of micros with chopped red onion, artichoke hearts, cucumber, radish, olives, feta, capers.

Please click the button below for recipe ideas and thanks so much for reading my blog.

-Dawn Swope CHHC

Don't Worry About Your Onion Breath

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Onions are amazing. I know; I say this in every blog. Scallions, pearl, vidalia, shallots, ramps, leeks...this blog is about the bulb, although scallions do not have a bulb and are considered an onion. Here is Dictionary.com's definition to further clarify: an edible bulb with a pungent taste and smell, composed of several concentric layers, used in cooking.

Do you deny yourself from indulging in onions because of bad breath? Well don't! The health benefits are worth it.

Nutrition

According to Dr. Mercola, more and more health benefits of onions are still being discovered. Onions have been shown to help lower blood sugar, high cholesterol, blood pressure, reduce the risk of colon cancer and other cancers, and inflammation .  Onions are known for the antioxidant quercetin. They are a good source of vitamin C, folate, fiber, manganese (which provides cold and flu relief) , vitamin B6, and potassium, and calcium. Yes...calcium.  Overfall, eating onions is good for your health: bone, immune system, heart, eye.  Try not to peel much of the outer layers as that is where much of the flavonoids (anti-cancer, anti-diabetic, anti-inflammatory) are concentrated.

About that breath?

Reducing and possibly eliminating onion breath:

Eat fruit, especially apple
Eat vegetables such as spinach, lettuce, or potatoes
Suck on a lemon wedge or drink a glass of lemon water
Add parsley or basil to your meal
Storing

Dry, fall onions are best kept in a dark, cool but not cold, dry, well ventilated storage area and can keep for months. Not in a plastic bag nor near potatoes. 

Preparing

There are so many ways.  Most, if not all, of us peel the onion.  The skins are actually quite nutritious.  Be sure to use organic onions if you plan on using the skin. Steep the skins in soups, roasts, tea, and then discard them. The onion?  Raw, caramelized, sauteed, boiled, roasted, baked, grilled.

I think you know what to do with them, but please click below for more ideas and thanks for reading my blog.

-Dawn Swope CHHC

Spaghetti Squash is WAY More than a Replacement

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I am Italian American.  Italian is the diet and lifestyle I grew up with.  Pasta was served at every meal as a side dish or the main dish.  A cold, stuffed shell for breakfast was quite filling.  I had never heard of the spaghetti squash until a decade or so ago.  Prior to my nutrition education, I jumped on the low carb/no pasta craze and purchased this squash to replace my semolina.  Spaghetti squash with marinara was so delicious; it's still amazing!!!  But spaghetti squash is better than a replacement;  it's versatile, yummy, and a nutrition superstar. 

Spaghetti squash, also known as spaghetti or vegetable noodle, is originally from China.  It was introduced into the U.S. in the 1920's and gained popularity in the late 20th century.  This squash boasts 400% of the daily value for Vitamin A, 50% daily value for Vitamin C, contains B Vitamins, Riboflavin, Niacin, Thiamin, Folate, Omegas 3 & 6, and Potassium.  Spaghetti squash is a healthy part of your diet.  Eat the rainbow!

Storage

Store at room temperature for several weeks.  

Preparation

Spaghetti squash can be eaten raw, but I do not recomend it. It is not as flavorful and is chunky instead of stringy. Follow the steps below, minus the baking. There are several ways to prepare this squash and I have personally tried them all.  Wash the outside of the squash.  Cut the squash lengthwise.  Cutting through it can be tricky if you do not have a big, sharp knife.  How's that for technical!!  Scrape out the seeds using a spoon but don't discard! Rinse the seeds and toss with olive oil, salt and pepper, and any other spice blend you enjoy such as curry, rosemary, etc. Bake in a 350 degree oven until fragrant and toasted.  Bake the squash cut-side down on an ungreased cookie sheet in a preheated 375 degree oven until fork-tender, about 30-40 minutes. Bake time varies depending on the size of the squash and your oven of course.  Using a fork, scrape out the squash and serve with a little butter or your favorite topping. Try crispy sauteed sage and butter or a fresh marinara.  

You can add to salads, soups, wraps, or feature it as the main meal.  For serving suggestions, please click on the recipe button below.

Thanks for reading my blog!

-Dawn Swope AADP, CCHC


References

http://foodfacts.mercola.com/spaghetti-squash.html

http://www.epicurious.com/ingredients/the-easiest-best-way-to-cook-spaghetti-squash-article

Lettuce

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There are many types of lettuce. Nutritionally speaking, the more colorful or darker the leaf, the more nutritional value it has. Iceberg does not offer much besides hydration and some fiber. Romaine is an excellent choice.

Did you know lettuce:

  • Heart healthy
  • Low in calories
  • Omega 3's
  • Protein
  • High in fiber
  • Alkaline
  • Low glycemic
  • Calming to the body and may help you sleep
  • Living plant

Lettuce is a very healthy part of the diet for most. 

Storing

Store wrapped in a paper towel and sealed in a plastic bag. I like to soak in a veggie wash and spin dry, first. I separate layers of lettuce with a sheet of paper towel and seal in a large ziplock baggie.

Preparation

Thoroughly wash your lettuce and serve, or wilt with a warm dressing, grill, saute, use as a wrap...

Thanks for reading my blog and please click on the button below for recipes.

-Dawn Swope, CHHC

 

 

Easter Egg Radishes

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Radishes. A sign of spring. Easter Egg radishes. Full of flavor, a burst of color, crunchy, delicious, and yes...nutritious. Radishes are a root vegetable, a member of the brassica (cruciferous) family, like broccoli and cabbage.  

5 Reasons to eat your radishes:

1.     Detoxifying-helps to break down and eliminate toxins,

2.     Digestive Aid- helps to relieve bloating and indigestion and aids in the digestive process,

3.     Low in calories and high in nutrients,

4.     Nourishing and hydrating- high vitamin C, Folate, fiber, riboflavin, and potassium,

5.     Cruciferous- helps to eliminate the cancer-causing free radicals.  Radishes contain many phytonutrients that aid in cancer prevention.

Storing  

The greens should be removed from the root prior to storing, prolonging the life of each. Store the bulbs  covered with a damp paper towel in an airtight container in the refrigerator. covered with a Wrap the bulb wrapped in a damp paper towel and sealed in a plastic bag for around a week or two. The greens will only keep for a few days, wrapped in a paper towel and sealed in a plastic bag in the refrigerator.  

Preparing

Scrub the outside of the bulbs with a veggie wash and scrub gently with a vegetable brush. Add to salads, serve as an appetizer, steamed, sauteed, stir-fried, roasted.  The greens can be washed in a salad spinner with veggie wash and spun.  Add greens to soups, saute, stirfry, eggs, or mixed with your green salad.  

Thank you for reading my blog and please click on the recipe button below.  

-Dawn Swope, CHHC, AADP, BA