Sunday, January 1, 2012

Green Giants

Growing up, green veggies were most likely one of everyone’s least favorite foods, especially mine. But the truth is, greens are your best friend. There’s a reason why doctors and nutritionists encourage you to eat more of them. Green vegetables are packed with all the necessary nutrients that help you ward off disease, lose weight and stay healthy, both inside and out.

Avocados – Benefits: One serving of avocado gives you 20 vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients, all of which help maintain healthy eyes, prevent chronic disease and contribute to weight loss. And this green fruit is packed with unsaturated fats, which are the good fats. In addition to health benefits, avocados offer a beauty boost when used in combination with two tablespoons of honey for a facial, or with a half cup of olive oil as a 30-minutes conditioning hair treatment.

How to eat them: Have a sweet, healthy treat with an avocado smoothie (it’s really great). They’re best east plain or as an additional to salads, lean meat, poultry or fish. For an interesting twist, puree an avocado to spread on toast or use as a butter substitute in baked goods.

Broccoli – Benefits: Loaded with vitamin C, broccoli fights wrinkles just as much as it fights cancer cells. Studies suggest that sulforaphane, a phytochemical found in the vegetable, can fight cancer already present in the body, while leaving normal cells unaffected.

How to eat them: The best way to enjoy broccoli is raw, as an afternoon snack with low-fat dressing or dip. To keep all the nutrients inside, steam or baked it. Toss it in a soup, salad, stir-fry, omelet or pasta for a little extra color and nutrition.

Brussels Sprouts – Benefits: These tiny cabbage greens are high in vitamin C, fiber and folate, and their potent anticancer properties block the growth of harmful cells.

How to eat them: Boiling typically results in the loss of the nutrients, try grilling or roasting them. They’re a delicious addition to vegetable kabobs, or try them breaded and baked. For parents who want to get the kids to eat these veggies, make candied Brussels sprouts: dust with brown sugar and a pinch of salt, microwave for five minutes and serves hot.

Edamame – Benefits: Omega 3s in these soybeans no only help fight against inflammation in the body, but it will give your skin a glowing look, too. They’re also loaded with protein into a salad.

How to eat them: The best way to enjoy edamame is the classic way: steam the pods ad add sea salt to taste – just don’t eat the pods! You can also toss the soybeans into a salad.

Kale – Benefits: As an excellent source of vitamins A and C, calcium and postassium, kale is cancer-fighting leafy green that also protects the heart and eyes, tanks t its high amount of antioxidants.

How to eat them: Add chopped kale to pasta about five minutes before the pasta is done boiling, or toss it in a mix of sautéed’ vegetables, cooking until wilted. To enjoy kale on it’s own, steam the leaves and season with lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper.

Swiss Chard – Benefits: Boost your antioxidant intake with this leafy green, which also has high amounts of biotin, the same as what you find in popular shampoos for maintaining strong, healthy hair. This veggie also helps strengthen your nails.

How to eat it: Instead of using a tortilla for wraps, burritos or tacos, cut off the stems of Swiss chard and steam the leaves briefly, filling the cooled leaves with all your favorite healthy fixings.

Why Eat Real? Why Eat Clean?

The nations first Food Day is October 24, 2011 sponsored by the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI). The purpose of the Food Day is to bring people together from all walks of life to push for healthy, affordable food produced in sustainable, humane way.

Real food tastes great. Meals are built around vegetables, fruits, and whole grains are delicious and satisfying. Too many Americans are eating diets composed of salty, overly processed packaged foods clad in cardboard and plastic: high calorie sugary drinks that pack on pounds and rot teeth, but have no nutritional benefit; and fast-food meals made of white bread, fatty grain-fed factory-farmed meat, French fries, 2atty pizzas and more soda still. What we should eat should be bolstering our health, but instead it’s actually contributing to several hundred thousand premature deaths from heart attack, stroke, diabetes, and cancer each year. What’s more, the way our food is produced is often harmful to farm workers, the environment, and farm animals.”

The movement isn’t new. Some might remember the natural food movement during those days of love and peace in the 1960s. Alarmed by the growing list of chemicals and pesticides in food, took up the charge in the 80s, Ralph Nader wrote Eating Clean: Overcoming Food Hazards in 1984.

The clean eating premise is simple-eat a whole (natural) and pure as possible. Others add additional parameters such as eat six small meals a day instead off three large ones, or include lean protein and carbohydrate at each meal.

• Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables as close to their natural state as possible. Think minimal processing – a baked potato versus French fries, corn-on-the-cob versus corn chips. Nature-made not man-made.

• Eat fruits and vegetables in season mainly, eat organic as much as possible and eat local whatever possible. Be sure to shop your local farmers markets.

• Include whole-grains-brown rice, wheat berries, quinoa, barley. Get the full benefit of nature’s bounty. Avoid refined products that have been stripped of their vital nutrients like white rice, white bread and white sugar.

• Eat legumes (beans)-a great source of lean protein and fiber.

• If you include meat in your diet, buy lean cuts, organic, and hormone free. At the very least, avoid pre-packaged cuts and packaged ground meat-you don’t really know what’s in it, or what’s been added like saline solution to “plump it up.” By lean cuts from the butcher and have it ground for you while you wait, if you don’t want to ground it yourself. Avoid all processed meats (hot dogs, lunchmeat, sausage, etc.) These contain nitrates which have been linked to colon cancer.

• If you include diary in your diet, be sure it’s organic, low fat and with no rBGH.

Exercise 30 minutes a day or at least an 60 minutes most days of the week.

• Purchase products with few ingredients, remember, less is MORE!

Read labels, and above all, don’t believe any claim on the front of the box. Be sure the ingredients and nutritional information support the claims.

• Celebrate Food Day with a real meal!