Tag - protein

Whole Foods Spotlight: Quinoa

“One cannot think well, love well, sleep well if one has not dined well” – Virginia Woolf

It is in this spirit that we present re:iimmune’s blog series “Whole Foods Spotlight” where we will focus in on a specific whole food, its nutritional benefits and provide you with a few links to some tasty recipes that may inspire you to add more of that particular food into your diet. After all, good health begins with good nutrition! This week we encourage you to incorporate quinoa into your meal plan. . .

Quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) originated in the areas around Lake Titicaca in South America. Around 3,000 to 5,000 BC Pre-Columbian peoples domesticated the plant and used the grains as a staple food of their diet. The Incas called quinoa the “mother grain” and considered it a sacred food. Technically, the plant is not a cereal grass like wheat, oats or barley but is a broadleaf plant and a member of the same family as spinach and beets. Sometimes it is referred to as a “pseudocereal” which is used to describe foods that are not grasses but can be ground into a flour or boiled and consumed much like rice. The entire plant is edible and what ends up looking like a grain on our plates is actually the seed. Quinoa plants are actually really beautiful and put on purple or reddish flowers before going to seed.

Those little seeds are packed with nutritional benefits! It is one of the most protein-rich plant sources and unlike cereal grasses it’s gluten free. It is considered a complete protein because it contains all of the essential amino acids, including a high amount of lysine which is essential for tissue growth and repair. It’s a great source of fiber, containing nearly twice as much as those traditional grains and it’s also packed with magnesium, manganese and riboflavin. Quinoa is a great source of energy, keeps you fuller longer and yet is low in calories. This is a food that really earns it’s “superfood” title!

Quinoa comes in many varieties and can be red, cream, pink, orange purple and even black in color. It cooks up quickly and has a somewhat nutty flavor. Because the outer coating of the seeds contains saponins which can give a bitter taste, it’s a good idea to rinse the seeds in a fine meshed strainer and rub them together under cold water prior to cooking. It should be stored in an airtight container and will last longer if kept in the refrigerator, with a shelf life of about 3 to 6 months.

You can use quinoa in a variety of ways, and can be a fantastic substitute for rice, pastas and couscous if you are watching your carbohydrates. We’ve included some links below to yummy recipes to help you add more of this super delicious superfood into your meal planning.

Cinnamon Maple Breakfast Quinoa

Quinoa Enchilada Casserole

Garlic Butter Shrimp, Quinoa and Asparagus

Moroccan Chickpea Quinoa Power Salad

Whole Foods Spotlight – Chickpeas

“One cannot think well, love well, sleep well if one has not dined well” – Virginia Woolf

It is in this spirit that we present re:iimmune’s new blog series “Whole Foods Spotlight” where we will focus in on a specific whole food, its nutritional benefits and provide you with a few links to some tasty recipes that may inspire you to add more of that particular food into your diet. After all, good health begins with good nutrition. . .including fiber rich chickpeas!

Chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans or ceci, were one of the earliest cultivated legumes. Remains of chickpeas dating 7,500 years ago have been found in the Middle East where they remain a staple of the region’s various cuisines and they are enjoyed around the rest of the world as well. In fact, it’s the world’s second most widely grown legume just behind the soybean. Today, they are only found in the wild in areas of Turkey and Syria and it was likely domesticated there around 11,000 years ago.

Considered both a vegetable and protein, chickpeas are a staple in most vegetarian diets and are a great source of minerals including magnesium, manganese, copper and zinc. A 1 cup serving provides 270 calories, 4 grams of fat, 15 grams of protein and 13 grams of fiber. Fiber is one of many reasons to add this nutty legume to your diet. The average person needs about 21 to 38 grams of fiber a day and that serving of chickpeas meets about a third of your daily need. Fiber not only helps to keep you regular but chickpeas also contain soluble fiber which helps to lower bad cholesterol and thereby reduces hypertension and protects against heart disease.

You can find chickpeas dried, precooked/canned or precooked/frozen but many say that making them from scratch (in their dried form) leads to the best flavor and texture. If you do use the canned variety, be sure to rinse them thoroughly to remove excess sodium. If cooking the dried variety, be sure to soak them as you would any dried bean overnight prior to cooking them. This makes them more digestible, decreases cooking time and aids in nutrient absorption.

Need some recipe ideas to get you going? We’ve included links to a few recipes featuring the magnificent chickpea below!

Easy Chana Masala

Chickpea Avocado Feta Salad

Roasted Carrot and Garlic Hummus

Making a Healthy Smoothie

A well made smoothie is a delicious, simple and quick way to get in servings of fruits, veggies and protein. They are a favorite “on-the-go” breakfast for a lot of folks and can help keep you away from donut shops and drive throughs where you may be tempted to load up on empty carbohydrates. A well concocted smoothie made with natural, nutrient dense ingredients are a great source of vitamins and fats for complete nutrition. Dietary fat assists the body in absorbing vitamins and nutrients.

However, there are some things you could be doing that are limiting or working against nutritional benefits. So today we’ve got some do’s and don’ts when it comes to concocting a truly healthy smoothie.

What to avoid using in a smoothie

  • Store bought fruit juices which are typically laden with sugars and sometimes even high fructose corn syrup
  • Ice cream and sherbert
  • Chocolate syrups and powders
  • Milk that comes from cows treated with hormones and antibiotics
  • Commercial peanut butter (avoid ones with additional sweeteners and hydrogenated oils

What to choose when making a smoothie

  • Fresh and frozen fruit
  • Fresh vegetables
  • Yogurt (organic, Greek, homemade)
  • Fresh fruit and veggie juices either extracted from a juicer or squeezed
  • Almond and coconut milk or organic cow’s milk
  • Fermented beverages like kefir and kombucha
  • Local honey, pure maple syrup
  • Raw nuts and nut butters
  • Hemp seeds and/or protein, chia and flax seeds
  • Cacao, aloe vera, spirulina
  • Herbs and spices like cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cayenne, mint, etc.

Don’t forget the greens! Smoothies are a great way to reap the nutritional rewards of greens. Spinach, kale, collard greens, parsley, dandelion greens and watercress are all great choices and pair really well with fruits like apples, pears, bananas, mangoes and avocados. For those of you who really struggle getting those greens into your diet, this is the perfect option!

We’ve gathered up some links to several smoothie recipes to give you some inspiration. . .

Strawberry Spinach Green Smoothie

Kale Berry  with Almonds

Green Ginger Apple

Peach Mango Smoothie

Banana Kiwi Chia Seed 

Whole Foods Spotlight: Black Eyed Peas

“One cannot think well, love well, sleep well if one has not dined well” – Virginia Woolf

It is in this spirit that we present re:iimmune’s new blog series “Whole Foods Spotlight” where we will focus in on a specific whole food, its nutritional benefits and provide you with a few links to some tasty recipes that may inspire you to add more of that particular food into your diet. After all, good health begins with good nutrition! This week we focus on the protein/potassium powerhouse.  . . black eyed peas!

If you are from the southern United States, chances are you’ll have your black eyed peas on New Year’s for good luck. If you don’t know about this tradition, check out this article on americanfood.about.com . Today we want to share some of the amazing health benefits packed in this powerful little pea, which is actually a bean.

Black eyed peas are used in cuisines throughout the world. In the southern region of the United States, “Hoppin’ John” is perhaps the traditional dish folks would have on New Year’s to ensure their luck. In Portugal, black eyed peas accompany cod and potatoes. Egyptians call them “lobia” and use them in very popular rice dish cooked with garlic, onions, tomato juice and meat.  Meanwhile, in Vietnam they are used in a sweet sticky rice and coconut milk dessert called chè đậu trắng and in India they are used in many ways, including a curry made with black eyed peas and potatoes. A popular traditional street food of Brazil is called akara, which originates from Nigeria. The black eyed peas are peeled, mashed and then the paste is used to form balls which are then deep fried. They are usually served split in half and stuffed with Vatapá (a dish made of bread, shrimp, coconut milk, finely ground peanuts and palm oil mashed into a creamy paste) and a condiment called caruru which is made from okra, onion, shrimp, palm oil and peanuts or cashews. Akara is topped with diced green and red tomatoes, fried sun-dried shrimp and homemade hot sauce. There are so many delicious ways to use this simple little bean!

Not only are black eyed peas delicious, they are highly nutritious. They are packed with potassium and protein. Potassium helps to regulate blood pressure which lowers your risk of heart disease and it supports muscle and bone health too. Getting cramps in your legs or feet? Foods rich in potassium are the first things to reach for. As for protein, they are a smart alternative for those who don’t eat meat. Protein supports the health of most of the parts of your body including muscles, skin, hair and nails and it also helps your cells repair and grow while providing you with energy.  Dried black-eyed peas contain 6.7 g of protein per ½ cup and the same size serving of canned black eyed peas contain 5.7 g.  Be sure to rinse canned beans of any kind to reduce sodium and to help prevent problems with flatulence. They are a great high fiber, low calorie food to rely on if you are trying to achieve or maintain a healthy weight.

We already provided a couple of links to some seriously great black eyed pea recipes above but here are a few more very simple ways to incorporate more of this whole food into your diet. . .

Black Eyed Peas and Dill Potato Skillet

Hot Black Eyed Pea Dip

Black Eyed Pea Salad