Tag: smart fuel
This week’s Smart Fuel: Pumpkin
Pumpkin is one of nature’s richest sources of the antioxidant beta carotene. Beta carotene is converted to vitamin A by the body and plays an important role in many vital functions. This plant carotenoid is what gives pumpkins their lush orange coloring. Compelling current research suggests that beta carotene is a powerful tool against cancer and heart disease. Today we’re featuring pumpkin as our smart fuel of choice because of its combined antioxidant value and low sugar content. At only 49 calories and 9 net carbs per generous cup, this vitamin-rich squash is high in fiber, as well. Pumpkin contains many trace minerals, including over 560 milligrams of potassium. A banana contains roughly 450 milligrams. (In other words, you can go bananas for pumpkin.)
Look out for a healthy and savory pumpkin recipe from Aaron this afternoon!
Cranberries. We’re not talking about the aluminum can hunk of gel on your grandmother’s Thanksgiving table. We’re talking about fresh cranberries, one of nature’s most powerful antioxidant sources! Fresh, tart cranberries are in season right now and can be found at great prices in many stores.
Cranberries promote urinary tract health, but they are also good for the gastrointestinal tract and the mouth. Recent studies have shown they may play a role in helping to reduce the risk of kidney stones, as well as lower bad (LDL) cholesterol. Not too shabby for this sour little fruit!
Cranberries contain anthocyanadins, potent antioxidants also found in blueberries and pomegranates. As you know, antioxidants fight inflammation and free radical oxidation in your body. Translation: they help prevent aging, disease, and health problems! Cranberries also contain plenty of vitamin C, vitamin K, and manganese. You can stew fresh berries, or pit them and dice them up into salads, or reduce them into a delicious topping for pork, duck, turkey or other meats. Aaron will be bringing you a cranberry recipe later today, so stay tuned!
Bell peppers are in season, so make the most of this colorful antioxidant-loaded vegetable now. Mix red, yellow, orange, and green peppers in with your salads, stir fries, vegetable mixes, and grilled meats. Bell peppers are excellent all on their own as a snack, too. Along with carotenoids and lycopene, bells supply nearly three times your daily value for vitamin C, all of your daily vitamin A requirement (as beta carotene) and a nice dose of B6.
In this week’s edition of Smart Fuel: the fruits of summer!
July is ripe for the nutritional picking. This is the best month of the year for stone fruits, tender fresh fish, berries, sweet sugar snap peas and green beans, and floral chanterelle mushrooms. The foods currently in season provide a perfect blend of healthy essential fatty acids, B vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fiber and lean protein. Whether you have access to a nearby brook, orchard, wooded patch or simply a good farmer’s market, be sure to maximize the naturally smart combination July provides.
To eat now:
– Stone fruits: enjoy apricots, plums, peaches and nectarines (apricots in particular are at their best for several more weeks).
Farlane Flickr Photo (CC)
– Fish: try perch, rainbow trout, brown trout, and mackerel (delicate and delicious protein source).
ProjectDP Flickr Photo (CC)
– Berries: go for gooseberries, blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries (look for sales!).
Garibaldi Flickr Photo (CC)
– All things podded: dig in to sugar snap peas, green beans, and green peas (legumes are an excellent source of fiber and vitamins).
CDW9 Flickr Photo (CC)
– Gourmet touch: chanterelle mushrooms are abundant with phytochemicals and make a perfect pairing for fresh-water fish. These fragrant fungi are available now in many stores and markets. They grow wild in deciduous forests so you may be able to harvest a few for yourself. Psst…learn about mushrooms and picking safely here.
Brocktopia Flickr Photo (CC)
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Seasonal Food Information
[tags] seasons, seasonal food, fruit, fish, berries, legumes, nutritional information, summer [/tags]
Apologies for that headline.
By now, most folks are aware that eggs are not unhealthy despite their high cholesterol content. (Though not everyone, because Eggbeaters is still in business!) Eggs contain quality protein, fat, and important vitamins and minerals. Most of the nutrition is found in the yolk of the egg, which is why we’re making the yolk this week’s Smart Fuel.
Paul Goyette’s Flickr Photo (CC)
Yolks contain a plethora of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that nourish your eyes, your brain, your heart and your mood. A sampling: lutein, selenium, vitamin D, vitamin E, Omega-3’s, sulfur, tryptophan, choline, magnesium, B12, the complete amino acid profile, and much more. Yolks are truly one of the most dense nutrition sources on earth. Take a look at this rundown from the USDA.
– Choose organic or free-range eggs. Better yet, if you live near any farms, see about purchasing fresh farm eggs. The best yolks are a rich yellow.
– You can eat eggs after the “sell by” date, but definitely toss them a week beyond that. Fresh is best with eggs, both for safety and nutrition.
– If you aren’t sure about the freshness, plunk your egg in a bowl of water. If it rises, it’s old. If it sinks or bobs near the bottom, it’s fresh.
– It’s not really a smart idea to eat eggs every day, because allergies can sometimes develop (this is true of many foods). But several eggs a week is genius.
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[tags] egg, yolk, cholesterol, food [/tags]
We hope you all had a relaxing and enjoyable holiday!
Here are three healthy, soothing herbal infusions you can make at home. Herbal teas, of course, are not technically “tea”, but the combinations of herbs, fruit and spices promote many aspects of wellness. These are some of our favorites:
Cleansing & Rejuvenation
Recovering from illness? Or maybe a little too much festivity? Here’s a refreshing, stimulating blend.
1 or 2 strips fresh sliced ginger
2 teaspoons peppermint leaves (basil can work, as well, but won’t be as tasty)
1 teaspoon dried lavender
This herbaceous, spicy blend is wonderful for the stomach and digestion. For an extra herbal note you can add a dash of oregano or a sprig of rosemary.
Sir Iwan Flickr Photo (CC)
Feeling ragged and overwhelmed? On edge? This infusion is guaranteed to relax.
1 teaspoon linden flowers
1 teaspoon chamomile flowers
This gentle, sweet blend will help you sleep and promote calm. Add an orange peel twist for extra interest.
Matsuyuki Flickr Photo (CC)
Why did I eat that? Here’s a natural tonic that will relieve cramps, gas and digestive complaints.
1 heaping tablespoon blueberries (boil and mash – don’t just use jam!)
1 teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1 sprig peppermint
This tasty, light syrup will have you feeling settled and restored in no time.
Lori D Stone Flickr Photo (CC)
Infusion confusion? Here’s how to do it:
Infusion is very simple. You’ll generally want to use about 1 teaspoon of each herb to 1 cup of water, but if you are using dried herbs you may need an extra teaspoon or so. Add the herbs or flowers to water you’ve just boiled (wait for the boiling to settle down before adding the herbage). Cover and wait 10 minutes – presto, infusion! Strain and enjoy.
Types of tea
Cooking with tea
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[tags] healing, herbal tea, wellness, recovery, infusions [/tags]
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What it is:
Neither a pine nor an apple, the pineapple is actually a fusion of many “fruitlets”. The pineapple is special for many reasons, but for the science nerds, this is one of the only bromeliad fruits humans eat. A bromeliad can be either an epiphyte (rootless, chillin’ in the air) or a regular old terrestrial, such as the pineapple. (At long last, tropical biology in the Costa Rican mud pays off…gems, I tell you.)
Why it’s smart to nosh:
Pineapple is the only food which contains natural bromelain, a group of enzymes that aid in digestion, reduce inflammation, reduce swelling, and speed healing. Bromelain is great for those with muscle and joint injuries, arthritis, gout and other inflammation issues. You do have to eat the pineapple fresh, however – cooking deactivates the bromelain (so much for feeling hopeful about the Carl’s Jr. Hawaiian burger ads).
Pineapple is a rich source of manganese, an important mineral. Among many important roles as a cofactor, manganese helps superoxide dismutase do its free-radical-bustin’ job.
Pineapple is loaded with antioxidant vitamin C, too!
This is Sarah Camp’s Flickr Photo CC
Pineapple nutrition information
How to cut a pineapple
Previous Smart Fuel posts
[tags] pineapple, bromelain, natural arthritis treatment [/tags]
Last week the gang reviewed the basic varieties of tea. Tea is a naturally therapeutic beverage and I want to quickly highlight some of its important medicinal properties. Unlike many “herbal therapies” that I tend to be pretty leary of, tea has a well-documented multitude of health benefits. Though I do have a weakness for a morning cup of mud (but that’s between you and me), a daily cup of green tea is a wise habit to incorporate into your health regimen. I’ve been alternating between a glass of red and a cup of green tea with dinner lately for a well-rounded daily antioxidant boost.
Five excellent preventive benefits of green tea:
3. Cardiovascular health
5. A wide variety of other health issues
The pros: A handy reference
The cons: Mayo Clinic gives green tea a “ho-hum”
Never underestimate the lengths food companies will go to in order to tap into health trends:
This is Selva’s Flickr Photo
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What I eat in a typical day
SMART FUEL Reader Donna suggested that we share information on the benefits of tea. Good idea, Donna! Tea is incredibly healthy and is an easy way to get a daily dose of beneficial antioxidants. While we’re at it, let’s discuss the types of tea, too. Tea Types There is only one tea species. White tea, black tea, green tea, oolong – they all come from a single plant (camellia sinensis for you Latin nerds). The basic difference boils down (get it?) to how processed the leaves are and the level of fermenting involved. White tea is the least processed and the “freshest”, so it is highest in antioxidants. Yes, there is something better than green tea! Antioxidant Potency The differences are really not as extreme as is believed. All tea is healthy for you. However, the more processed teas are lower in antioxidants and much higher in caffeine. A hierarchy: 1. White 2. Green 3. Oolong (Really difficult to make – not for you, for the artisans. You boil it like any other tea leaf.) 4. Black Pictures: Top: white tea Lower: jasmine pearls green tea – yum! Top: green tea Lower: oolong tea Top: black Lower: the ultra-rare (and uber-snobby) pureh Pureh is pretty special stuff. Though popular in China, it’s rare here – we haven’t tried it yet. Have you? Prep Of course, boiled water poured immediately over the leaves, and 3 to 5 minutes of steeping time, will yield the best-tasting and most nutritious pot. Microwave is sacrilege and will invoke the wrath of the tea gods, so don’t even think about it! Shopping Time We had a lot of fun trying out many different types of tea from a local purveyor of some pretty fancy drinkable foliage. If you’re looking for flavor and health, white tea is even more delightful than green, but it’s very grassy and greeny, and definitely leaves a pucker. Black is nice in that “I grew up on it” way, but since coffee offers more caffeine for you addicts and other teas offer more antioxidants, black seems like sort of a sad little compromise. Still, many people prefer it, and there’s arguably nothing tastier than black tea with a little cream and honey. Green teas are more varied than you might think. Our favorite was a special hand-rolled blend of green tea and lavender and jasmine similar to jasmine pearls. It was soothing, herbaceous, floral, and tasted like drinkable perfume. That is, if you could drink perfume (please don’t do this). This was a handcrafted tea, so it isn’t available everywhere, but jasmine pearls are a popular and high-quality offering available in many stores. We also had a blast (and bounced off the walls) with a chocolate and mint infused black and green tea mix. It tasted like a peppermint patty! This was pretty strongly caffeinated and very flavorful. It would make a great after-dinner tea if you are entertaining and you and your guests plan to stay up late talking or … Continue reading “Tea Time”
It’s a great time of year to enjoy fresh peas. We always keep plenty of bags of frozen peas around the Sisson household (well, the freezer, anyway). Peas make a quick, easy snack for the kids after sports’ practice or a long day at school that is far more nutritious than processed snack bars but won’t have anyone groaning about eating their vegetables.
Fresh peas are perfect right now, and they are an excellent way to get extra vitamins, fiber and protein into your meals.
A nutritional snapshot:
– One cup of peas contains a third of your daily requirement of fiber (though I personally recommend getting two or three times the 25-35 grams daily that the U. S. government recommends).
– Peas are famous for containing generous amounts of B vitamins, but they’re also rich in vitamin C (a third of your DV) and vitamin K (half your DV).
– Peas are rich in serotonin-boosting tryptophan.
Toss fresh peas into:
– Salads: peas work well with many fruits, avocados, and tomatoes.
– Stir fries: replace rice with peas for a fiber-rich, veggie-intense variation.
– Plain yogurt: add the peas, some chopped walnuts or almonds, and a little balsamic vinegar. (Top notch protein, fiber and fatty acids for quick energy and stress relief.)
This is Ben’s Flickr Photo