Tag - whole foods

Whole Foods Spotlight: Barley

Barley is an often overlooked member of the whole grains family. This is a shame because it contains a wealth of nutrients essential to our health. Our skin, bones, muscles, digestive system and more can benefit by adding more of this whole food into our diet and the parts of the plant can be used in many ways.

Barley grass is the seedling of the plant and the young shoots are rich in amino acids, antioxidants and chlorophyll which combats harmful toxins and detoxifies the body. Hulled barley (also known as pot or scotch) is eaten after removing the inedible outer hull. In this form it takes a long time to soak prior to cooking. Pearl barley is hulled and processed, the bran is removed and polished which lessens the cooking time but strips away so much of the nutritional value that it can no longer be considered a whole grain. There are also flakes and flours made from both hulled and pearl varieties.

Osteoporosis Prevention

The phosphorus found in barley promotes good health of bones and teeth. When it comes to calcium, this whole grain has milk beat, containing 11x greater calcium content! It also contains copper which may aid in reducing symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis by helping cell regeneration. Copper also supports collagen and elastin production, making bones and joints more flexible.

Immune System Boost

It has nearly twice as much Vitamin C than oranges and helps to reduce the chances of cold and flu. It also contains a good amount of iron, helping to prevent fatigue and anemia, regulates blood volume and aids in kidney function as well.

Healthy Skin

The selenium found in barley helps preserve skin elasticity and prevent loosening. Selenium works with vitamin E in the body to protect and strengthen the cell membranes, the protective coating around cells. It also helps with healing inflammation in the skin.

Intestinal Wellness

Finally, it is a great source of fiber and acts as a fuel source or prebiotic for the beneficial bacteria in our large intestine and the byproduct of it fermenting in our system creates butyric acid, the primary fuel for intestinal cells. The grain helps to protect the colon and helps to prevent the development of gallstones.

 

Barley, Spinach and Mushrooms

Barley Fried Rice with Marinated Shrimp

Slow-cooker Breakfast Barley

Whole Foods Spotlight – Asparagus

 

Springtime is the perfect time to enjoy thin, tender, flavorful stalks of asparagus! This vegetable has long been consumed and valued for its nutritional properties. An Egyptian frieze dating at around 3000 BC pictures asparagus as an offering and it’s name comes from a Persian word meaning stalk or shoot. During Roman times, Emperor Augustus coined the phrase “faster than cooking asparagus” for quick action, as the vegetable is best when lightly and quickly steamed, broiled or sauteed. The thickness of the stem indicates the age of the plant and newer, slender stalks are the most tender. The stalks of older plants can be woody but can be peeled or easily snapped off.

While we typically think of asparagus as green, there are white and purple varieties of the vegetable as well. Purple asparagus grows naturally and has a fruitier flavor that makes the purple variety a great choice for eating raw. White asparagus has no chlorophyll to give it its green color as it’s grown underground or under plastic domes, completely shaded. Asparagus is one of the most nutritionally balanced vegetables. It’s low in calories and sodium, has no cholesterol and is a great source of fiber. It’s also loaded with minerals such as calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, selenium and zinc as well as vitamins A, B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B5 (pantothenic acid), B9 (folate), C, E and K.

The abundance of B vitamins, including folate, helps to maintain healthy levels of homocysteine, produced by the blood when amino acids break down. A deficiency of B vitamins will elevate these homocysteine levels leading to ailments such as damaged blood vessels, venous thrombosis which is the clotting of blood in the veins and other cardiac disorders. Folate is also linked to preventing neural health disorders such as dementia and Alzheimer’s. It’s also crucial for a developing fetus and women who are pregnant or planning on getting pregnant are strongly encouraged to increase their intake of folate.

Asparagus supports kidney health as well. A known diuretic, it helps to flush out excess salt and fluids from the body and helps to prevent toxins from building up in the kidneys and the formation of kidney stones. However, if you have uric acid kidney stones, your physician may tell you to avoid the vegetable to keep your urine from getting too acidic and worsening your condition. If you’ve ever noticed that eating a lot of asparagus causes urine to smell strong, this is because it’s the only food to contain a chemical called asparagusic acid. During digestion, this acid breaks down into compounds which contain sulfur which leads to the strong scent that everyone produces but only a small percentage of people can smell.

In addition, the high fiber content of asparagus and it’s prebiotic nature which acts as a food source for good gut bacteria makes it a fantastic choice for good digestive health. It also helps to support the immune system, provides protection for the thyroid gland and has anti-inflammatory benefits as well. All great reasons to pick up a bundle the next time you are at the farmer’s market or grocery store!

 

Roasted Asparagus and Tomatoes

Asparagus Egg and Bacon Salad with Dijon Vinaigrette

Grilled Sriracha Meatball Skewers with Coconut Rice and Asparagus

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: 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