Tag - whole foods

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

Whole Foods Spotlight – Brussel Sprouts

“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’ll remind you why you need to add more Brussel sprouts into your diet!

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Oh poor brussel sprouts! Hatred for them amongst most children is even worse than broccoli. However, as our taste buds develop and change many people come to more enjoy the taste of cruciferous vegetables. This is great for one’s health as this family of vegetables offer some excellent nutrition and protection against a host of issues.

As with other cabbage species, brussel sprouts are native to the Mediterranean region and first appeared in northern Europe during the fifth century. Later, in the thirteenth century, brussel sprouts began being cultivated near the city of Brussels in Belgium, where they derived their name.

Brussel sprouts are loaded with important phytonutrients for our health called glucosinolates which are chemical starting points for a range of cancer-protective substance. Specifically four of these glucosinolates found in brussel sprouts (glucoraphanin, glucobrassicin, sinigrin and gluconasturtiin) seem to provide a unique and important combination when it comes to cancer prevention. This along with the fact that their total glucosinolate content tops the charts among that found in mustard greens, turnip greens, kale, cauliflower or broccoli makes the brussel sprout a smart choice to add into one’s diet.

This vegetable is also high in fiber and acts an excellent weapon against constipation. A serving of six contains about 3g of fiber and supports the formation of soft stool, enabling a more comfortable bowel movement. In addition, brussel sprouts are loaded with folic acid, a b vitamin that keeps our blood healthy and prevents anemia. We cannot store folic acid in our bodies and that means we need daily intake. Just one brussel sprout provides enough folic acid for a whole day!

A study conducted by Heinz in 2008 concluded that brussel sprouts are the most hated vegetable in America and a similar poll in Great Britain revealed the same. We hope that knowing some of their powerful medicinal qualities and a few recipes to make them tastier will help encourage you to give them a try!

P.S. The very best way to unleash their powerful nutrients is through steaming. Ironically, it’s this cooking method that is one of the very reasons why people don’t seem to like them. If you want to get all the benefits through steamed brussel sprouts just be sure not to overdo it to the point where they get mushy. For those of you who just can’t handle that steamed taste, never fear, we’ve got links below that just might help you grow a little love for the brussel sprout!

Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Cranberries and Balsamic Reduction

Crispy Thai Brussels Sprouts

Beef and Brussels Sprouts Stew

Whole Food Spotlight – Cranberries

“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’re looking forward to the holidays ahead and cranberries on our table!

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Cranberries are a group of evergreen dwarf shrubs or trailing vines common to Canada and the northern United States thanks to the receding glaciers of the Ice Age which carved out bogs perfect for their growth. Native Americans of the region used cranberries as wound medicine, as a dye and of course as a source of food, including pemmican. Algonquin peoples called the red berries Sassamanash and it’s thought they may have introduced the starving English settlers of Massachusetts to the berry. Sometimes called “bearberries” as bears feast on them regularly, it was the early English and European settlers who began calling them “craneberries” as they thought the expanding flower, stem, calyx and petals of the plant looked like the neck, head and bill of a crane. The word then morphed into cranberry.

Cranberries most widely believed benefit is in the treatment and prevention of urinary tract infections. However, don’t reach for the juice as studies are showing that cranberry capsules may be more effective. That beautiful ruby red color of the cranberry comes from anthocyanin. Anthocyanins are a class of naturally occurring pigments in plants responsible for rich reds and purples in berries, eggplant, blood oranges and cranberries. A number of studies suggest that anthocyanins help improve sharpness of vision, reduce the risk of cataracts and macular degeneration and that they may also be beneficial in fighting cancer, diabetes and some neurological diseases. Interestingly enough, it is the way cranberries are harvested that gives them such great concentrations of anthocyanins. According to “The World’s Healthiest Foods”,

Many cranberries are water-harvested. Water-harvesting means that the cranberries are grown in bogs and floated in water to allow for easy harvesting. For many years, water-harvesting of cranberries has been looked upon as an industry convenience. It’s simply easier to harvest berries that are floating on the surface. However, recent research has shown that the anthocyanin content of cranberries (the phytonutrients that give the berries their amazing red color) is increased in direct proportion to the amount of natural sunlight striking the berry. If berries floating on top of water get exposed to increased amounts of natural sunlight (in comparison to other growing and harvesting conditions), they are likely to develop greater concentrations of anthocyanins. These greater concentrations of anthocyanins are likely to provide us with stronger health benefits. In other words, water-harvesting may turn out to provide more than just harvest convenience. If it can expose cranberries to greater amounts of natural sunlight, it can increase phytonutrient health benefits that involve the unique antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of anthocyanins.

Unfortunately, fresh cranberries are a fruit with a short season. They are harvested between Labor Day and Halloween, appearing at the market from October through December. Fortunately, cranberries freeze well and can be kept for several years. To freeze them, spread them out on a cookie sheet and place in the freezer. Wait a couple of hours and then transfer the frozen berries to a freezer bag. They will be soft once thawed and should be used immediately. To select quality cranberries, look for ones that are deep red in color, plump and firm to the touch.

Cranberry Apple Quinoa Salad

Honey Roasted Butternut Squash with Cranberries and Feta

Holiday Cranberry Sauce

Whole Foods Spotlight – Pumpkin

“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! With Halloween just around the corner, it’s a perfect time to talk pumpkins!

Pumpkin on white background.

 

 

Fall means pumpkin flavored everything and we’re totally on board! That said, lattes and pumpkin spice muffins do more for you spiritually than they do nutritionally speaking. Even though 90% of a pumpkin is water, that other 10% is packed with a wealth of nutritional benefits. We hope to inspire you to add more of this great gourd into your diet and reap the rewards!

The oldest pumpkin seeds found so far came from Mexico, dating somewhere between 7000 and 5500 BC, so it’s believed that the plant is indigenous to North America. However, pumpkins from that time are not the round orange varieties we carve into jack o’lanterns today. Rather they were a crooked neck variety which stored well during long winters. After maize (corn) was introduced, some Native Americans began a clever planting technique known as “The Three Sisters.”  Corn and beans were planted together so that the beans would twine their way up the corn stalks. Pumpkin and other gourds were planted at the base as the plant’s large leaves helped create shade and hold moisture to the roots of the companion plants.

Like carrots, pumpkins contain carotenoids which give it that orange hue and support healthy eyes and better night vision. Studies have shown that carotenoids also provide some protection from cataracts and age related macular degeneration. The pumpkin is also rich in beta carotene which has been shown to reduce cell damage and improve immune function.

They are also a great source of magnesium which is important for energy levels, a healthy nervous system and strong bones and muscles. Finally, one cup of pumpkin has a whopping 245% of recommended daily amount of Vitamin A!

We decided to skip over the zillions of pumpkin dessert options for our recipe suggestions since we know you’ll get your share of those lattes and slices of pumpkin pie this season. Instead we’ve opted to give you some links to more savory ways to get more pumpkin in your diet. Enjoy!

 

Caramelized Onion and Pumpkin Soup with Curry Yogurt Sauce

Pumpkin Ravioli with Brown Butter Sauce and Pecans

Savory Pumpkin and Sage Scones

Whole Foods Spotlight – Apples

“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’re thinking it’s about time to go apple picking so read on to learn more about this delicious fruit!

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The Amazing Attributes of Apples

One of life’s great pleasures is biting into a juicy apple with just the right balance of tart vs. sweet. Thanks to hybrids and cultivars, there are over 7,000 varieties in the world! Rich in antioxidants and high in fiber, apples are among the world’s healthiest foods. In Norse mythology a magic apple was said to keep people young forever and while that may be a bit of hyperbole, there’s certainly enough health benefits to this crunchy treat to make it a regular part of your diet.

Studies have shown that eating an apple a day may very well keep the heart doctor away. The fruit helps to lower cholesterol levels and prevent buildup in the arteries. Pectin, a type of soluble fiber, binds to fatty substances in the digestive tract. Not only does this help rid the body of cholesterol and aid in digestion but this same fiber is why apples are a top pick for a snack as they keep you feeling full longer. Studies have shown that they may also help in the prevention of gallstones and lowering the risk for asthma.

Good Things to Know

~ Eat the peel! Much of the apple’s antioxidants and nutrients are in it’s natural wrapper.

~  One bad apple really can ruin the bunch. If bruised or damaged, an apple begins producing ethylene gas which affects the other apples and dramatically decreases their shelf life.

To prevent browning of sliced apples, place them in cold water with a spoonful of lemon juice.

 

Yummy Apple Recipes

Honey Crisp Apple Salad with Candied Walnuts and Sweet Spiced Cider Vinaigrette

Apple and Cheddar Quiche with Olive Oil and Thyme Crust

Chicken Apple Meatballs with Bourbon Sauce