Lucious Leafy Greens

greens

Many of my clients considered ‘leafy green veggies’ unappetizing before they came to me for counseling.  The first thing that came to their minds when I mentioned ‘leafy green veggies’ was “Well, I eat Iceberg Lettuce”! O boy, I thought…we’ve got some work to do and this is going to be fun.  This is what I love about being a Nutritionist.  I truly love making a difference in the way my clients eat and make them realize that this pale lettuce, once so ubiquitous in restaurant salads, does not have the power-packed goodness of other delicious greens.

Before my clients came to me for counseling, they either forgot about these nutrient-rich, flavorful foods or got scared off by the idea of preparing them.

Learning to cook and eat greens is essential for creating lasting health.  It is a simple, easy way to boost your daily diet.  The next time you are at the farmers market or in your local food store, be sure to add some of the following greens to your shopping list: Arugula, Bok Choy, Broccoli Rabe, Cabbage, Collards, Chicory, Dandelion, Escarole, Kale, Swiss Chard, Spinach, Watercress and many other varieties of lettuce.

Leafy green veggies help strengthen our respiratory and circulatory systems.  They are high in magnesium, calcium, iron, potassium, phosphorus, zinc and vitamins A, C, E and K.

Leafy green veggies are packed with folic acid, chlorophyll, fiber and many other micronutrients and phytochemicals.  Moreover, they help with blood purification, cancer prevention, improving circulation, strengthening your immune system and improving gall bladder, kidney and live function.  They are also a great ally in the Fall when cold season begins because greens can help clear congestion and reduce mucus.

Surprisingly, greens are not as complicated as they may appear  Try a variety of cooking methods such as boiling, sauteing in olive oil, steaming, blanching, roasting or chopping up for salads and snacks.  Chopping raw veggies for salads and snacks takes only a few minutes to rinse and prepare.  Cooking greens takes a couple of minutes of prep time and about two minutes of cooking time.  You can experiment with cooking your greens with seeds, nuts, beans, butter, tofu, seital, tempeh, chicken, turkey, fish, ground meat, eggs, etc.  Green veggies are easy to add to homemade or prepared soups or stews right before serving.

Try to get into the habit of adding these green veggies to your diet as often as possible.  While veggies are the scarcest food in the American diet, leafy green veggies area is lacking most of all.

Give some of these green leafy veggies a try and see how you feel!  Let me know what you think about the different flavors and textures of these delicious greens…I’m interested to hear!

Uproot from the Green Basics

While everyday veggies such as broccoli and spinach are great for your health, be adventurous and try these other dark greens that pack a flavorful and nutrient-dense punch.

  • Kale- This leafy green is easy to grow and thrives in cold temps.  The beautiful leaves provide an earthy flavor and excellent nutritional value.  I love making ‘kale wraps’ where I wrap kale leaves around my fish and chicken for a fun finger food!
  • Collard Greens- A staple of traditional Southern cooking, this nutritional powerhouse provides vitamins A, C, calcium, iron and magnesium.  Collard greens are delicious to bake with and I love adding collards to my baked fish recipes.
  • Bok Choy- This veggie has a light, sweet flavor and a crisp texture.  Toss some bok choy into stir-fries, Asian dishes or soups.
  • Escarole- This curly Italian green has a bitter taste.  As you remove the leaves, you will experience different degrees of flavor! As the leaves are peeled back, they continue to lighten in shade and bitterness.

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Harvest Pumpkin Tofu Frittata

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I was bit by the frittata bug last week and made this for a quick and easy breakfast dish, which then turned into a few meals throughout the week.  Aside from this tasty breakfast, I created an afternoon frittata lunch over arugula, pistacios and fresh figs and  a hearty supper earlier this week atop  al dente buckwheat noodles, tomato sauce and vegan Parmesan cheese.

Over the years my clients have asked me, “What’s the difference between a frittata and an omelet?” Good Question, isn’t it?  Well, in case you are unsure of the answer…the main difference between these two is simply that omelets traditionally have the eggs cooked and folded around the filling, while a frittata gets everything mumbled, jumbled and mixed together.  I serve my frittatas at room temperature, which makes them a convenient option for ‘Cooking Once, Eating Twice’ through creating lunch and dinner plates.  The thought of frittatas reminds me of getting together with friends over brunch and gives me a cozy feeling inside…suddenly it’s not about the frattata anymore, yet the overall enjoyment of a versatile dish that can be enjoyed by one (me) or a large group.  For me, there’s nothing like a light egg dish combined with your favorite veggies and herbs, topped with a dollop of Greek yogurt, tomato sauce and vegan Parmesan cheese.  Now, doesn’t that sound delicious?

Frittatas are a wonderful way to add a variety of veggies (and leftovers) to your meal; the flavor combinations are unlimited…simply let your imagination guide you when choosing what’s available in your fridge.  It’s quite easy to experiment and hard to go wrong when creating your frittata masterpiece…it’s a fun, effortless way to whip up a quick meal anytime of the day. My  flavorful pumpkin tofu frittata is packed with health benefits, which come from its rich source of vitamins A, C and K.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup onion, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup zucchini, diced
  • 1 cup red bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 cup canned pumpkin
  • 2 cups kale, finely chopped (stems removed)
  • 1/2 cup sun dried tomato, chopped
  • 1/4 cup vegetable broth
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 5 oz. firm tofu, drained
  • 2 eggs (or egg substitute)
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 Tbsp. dried oregano
  • 1/4 tsp. turmeric
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh parsley, finely chopped for garnish
  • Optional Toppings: Greek yogurt, tomato sauce, vegan Parmesan cheese

Directions

  • Prepare and chop all vegetables.
  • Puree tofu with eggs and egg whites, canned pumpkin, dried oregano and turmeric in a blender.
  • Heat 2 Tbsp. vegetable broth with 2 Tbsp. olive oil in a large pan over medium heat; let sit for 1 minute, or until it starts to steam.
  • Add onion, garlic, zucchini, bell pepper, kale and sun dried tomatoes; saute for 1 minute over medium heat.  Stir often.
  • Add 1/4 cup vegetable broth and balsamic vinegar.  Pour tofu mixture over veggies, cover and cook over low heat until mixture is completely firm and cooked, about 12 minutes.
  • Remove from heat and sprinkle with chopped parsley.
  • Serve warm or at room temperature.
  • Enjoy!

Here are some recent articles ‘In The News’ that I  thought I’d pass along:

5 Superfoods About To Make It Big

Diets That Promote Health and Always Have

How Your Toddler Can Get The Nutrients He Needs

Moms Spend Wisely

Nifty Nut Butter Wrap

This is one of my clients’ favorite Go-To Snacks!  Bananas are not just a good source of B vitamins, they are low in sodium and contain Vitamin C and A as well as high levels of Iron and Potassium.  The natural fiber in bananas also contributes to numerous health benefits.  For instance, bananas contain Trypophan, a type of protein that the body converts to Seratonin, a hormone known for making you feel happy and improving your mood!

Aside from the bananas, these tasty wraps include other nutritional powerhouse ingredients such as the proteins in Greek yogurt and Nut Butter, the energy boosters in Honey and the blood sugar stabilizer of Cinnamon.  Each of these ingredients make my Nut Butter Wraps a healthy and delicious snack anytime of the day!

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Ingredients

(Makes 1 Serving)

  • 1 Ripe Banana, sliced
  • 1/3 cup Nut Butter (Almond, Peanut, Cashew, etc.)
  • 1 Whole Wheat Tortilla
  • 1 tsp. Orange Juice
  • 1 tsp. Lime Zest
  • 1/4 cup Greek yogurt, plain
  • 1 tsp. Agave Nectar (or Honey)
  • 1 Tbsp. Wheat Germ
  • Sprinkle of Cinnamon

Directions

  • In a small bowl, combine Greek yogurt and nut butter; mix well.
  • Pour lime juice and orange juice over sliced bananas; gently toss.
  • Top tortilla with nut butter mixture; spreading evenly over the tortilla surface, leaving a 1/2 inch border.
  • Arrange banana slices in a single layer on top of the nut butter.
  • Sprinkle evenly with wheat germ and cinnamon.
  • Drizzle with honey.
  • Roll up and enjoy!

You can also enjoy this snack warmed up in the oven for a few minutes for an extra special treat!

Don’t forget to enter for your chance to win my Big S Farms Give-A-Way.  Send me a comment for your change at 1 of 4 great prizes.  The deadline is Monday, July the 6th.

Good Luck!

Super Foods on a Budget

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In this day n’ age…the economy isn’t looking too shabby.  We all have to learn to cut back on certain things, however, we should not be cutting back on our nutritious foods as we must continue to feed our bodies with healthy super foods everyday.  Here are a few of my favorite super foods that will keep you on (or hopefully under) your budget!

Swiss Chard

  • An excellent source of beta carotene (an antioxidant and pre-cursor for vitamin A), vitamin C, and a good source of potassium and magnesium.  Research has shown that vitamin C and beta carotene may prevent the oxidation of LDL “Bad” cholesterol and therefore may decrease risk of heart disease.  Moreover, research has also shown that magnesium and potassium may lower blood pressure levels.  Swiss Chard is reasonably priced- a bit more expensive then some of your other greens, but still about $2/bunch.

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Kale

  • This dark, leafy green is loaded with vitamin C, carotenoids, and calcium.  Not to mention a good source of potassium and magnesium.   Like most greens it is usually fairly cheep at $1.50/ bunch.

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Spinach

  • One of the best green leafies out there- it’s an excellent source of folate, antioxidant vitamins A (formed from beta-carotene) and C, and a good source of potassium and magnesium.  Studies show that folate can help prevent heart disease by lowering levels of the amino acid homocysteine.  Plus, you can usually find it year round for less than a $1/bunch.

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Broccoli

  • An excellent source of folate and vitamin C, a good source of fiber, calcium, Vitamin A, potassium and vitamin B6.   If that isn’t enough broccoli is also packed with phytonutrients, compounds that may help prevent heart disease, certain cancers, and diabetes.  Plus, it’s low in cost and calories.

Tomatoes

  • An excellent source of vitamins  A and C, a good source of potassium and contain the antioxidant lycopene.  Depending on the type of tomato, they can be pricey, however, review your choices in the food store and purchase the cheapest, best quality tomatoes.

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Parsnips

  • A good source of vitamin C, fiber and folate.  Fiber helps promote heart health by reducing levels of LDL “Bad” cholesterol and that vitamin C decreases risk for heart disease by preventing the oxidation of LDL “Bad” cholesterol.  These fun veggies are close in price to carrots, perhaps a few cents more, but still fairly cheep.

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Avocados

  • Rich in monounsaturated “GOOD” fats and contain potassium and folate.  Research shows that monounsaturated fats can lower LDL “Bad” cholesterol.   Avocados add the perfect touch to any meal and for the inexpensive price, you can’t beat it!

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Omega 3 Fatty Acids

  • Omega 3’s are known to lower heart disease risk, help arthritis, and may help with depression, memory loss and Alzheimer’s.  Most prevalent in fatty, cold water fish such as WILD (not farmed) salmon, sardines, mackerel, and herring.  Also found in fortified eggs, flax seeds and walnuts.  All of these super foods are high in monounsaturated fats, which is a huge benefit since this can lower cholesterol.  Fresh fish can be quite pricey, however, for the nutritional punch these Omega 3’s provide–it’s worth the extra cash–treat yourself!

Bananas

  • Loaded with Potassium and fiber, these yellow treats are not just a monkey’s favorite.  Not to mention they are about 20 cents a piece–a dollar can get you a banana for every day of the workweek!

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Steel Cut Oats

  • High in fiber and complex carbohydrates, oats have been known to lower cholesterol-and boy are they cheap! A dollar can buy you more than a week’s worth of warm, satisfying steel cut oats!

Sardines

  • These relatively cheap little fish come with big benefits such as B vitamins, calcium, iron, magnesium, and zinc.  And, because they are low on the food chain, they do not accumulate mercury.

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Whole Grain Pasta

  • A delicious complex carbohydrate that is high in protein and B vitamins-not to mention it’s one of the cheapest staples you can buy!

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Tofu

  • This inexpensive protein source is not just for vegetarians and can be used in both sweet and savory recipes.  It’s high in B vitamins and Iron, but low in fat and sodium, making it a healthful addition to many dishes.

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Beets

  • These purple guys are sweet to the palate while their rich flavor and color make them nutritious for our bodies; they are powerhouses of folate, iron, and antioxidants.  Look for fresh beets in your food store, most beets are reasonably priced and found near the root veggies.

Nuts

  • Packed with good-for-you fats, both unsaturated and monounsaturated, these are a good source of essential fatty acids, protein, and vitamin E.  Because they are so nutrient-dense, you only need a handful or two to reap the nutritional benefits.  Although macadamias and pecans can be costly, nuts such as walnuts, peanuts and almonds are low in cost.

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Wild Rice

  • This gluten-free complex carbohydrate is a whole lot better for you than “white” rice and it’s low in fat, and high in protein and fiber.  This rice is loaded with B vitamins and potassium, not to mention the delicious, nutty, robust flavor.

Garbanzo Beans

  • No only are they a great source of protein and fiber, but they are high in iron, folate, manganese and fiber, and may help reduce cholesterol levels.  If you don’t like Garbanzo beans–try another-lentils, lima, black-the varieties are endless.  Additionally, with beans, you’re getting your money’s worth because they are much cheaper to purchase than animal proteins.

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Blueberries

  • Packed with phytoflavinoids and antioxidants, these berries are also high in vitamin C and potassium, which are anti-inflammatory and lower your risk of heart disease and cancer.  The darker the berry, the more antioxidants they have.  And remember, frozen fruits are just as good as fresh.  Fresh berries get a bad rep for being pricey, however, their frozen friends are just as delish and good for you, not to mention cheaper! Head to the freezer isle if the fresh berries are too pricey.

What do you consider your Super Foods? How do their prices fair against the ones I have listed above?  Have you had to cut back at the food store due to our current economic times?