Saturday, May 31, 2014

Mediterranean Diet: More Vegetables for Breakfast!

I’m currently reading The Third Plate by Dan Barber, the chef and co-owner of Blue Hill and Blue Hill at Stone Barns.  It’s a lovely treatise on rethinking how we fill our plates and farm our land, focusing on plants and consciously-consumed animals.

Barber quotes William Albrecht, “To be well fed is to be healthy.”  I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to be well-fed, to be nourished.

At the same time, I’m travelling through Israel, a country that elevates a plant-based diet to new heights.  You never knew eggplant could be so, so good.

Israel really excels at breakfast.  I’ve said this before, I know.  But every time I visit this country, I am blown away by breakfast.  A typical Israeli breakfast includes a chopped vegetable salad, tahini, cheese, olives and whole grain bread.  Sometimes eggs.  Maybe some smoked or cured fish.

Adding vegetables to breakfast makes it a lot easier to eat more vegetables overall.  That makes sense.  And a vegetable-filled breakfast tastes so much better than cereal.  And satisfying.  

Here's proof.

This weekend, experiment with a Mediterranean-style breakfast.  Here are a few ideas.

1.  Make shakshuka, a traditional breakfast of eggs poached in tomato sauce.  You'll love it.  I promise.

2.  Add a salad to your usual breakfast.  Try chopping tomatoes, cucumbers, red bell peppers and fresh parsley and tossing them together with lemon juice and extra virgin olive oil, sea salt and pepper.  Top with toasted sunflower seeds.  Sometimes adding something nourishing to your meals is easier than changing your current habits. Change takes time.  Be nice to yourself.

3.  Make an eggplant dip, drizzle with tahini and top with goat milk feta cheese (my favorite).  Spread on whole grain toast.

4.  Roast or saute your favorite vegetables and top with an egg.  Here's a recipe.

5.  Fry an egg in extra virgin olive oil and top with a sprinkling of za’atar.  Serve with a salad of tomatoes, olives and roasted red peppers.

I’m ready for breakfast.  Wishing you all a healthy, well-fed weekend!

Monday, May 26, 2014

One Mixed Berry Smoothie - Two Ways & a Hint Water Giveaway

We're kicking off the unofficial start to summer with this deliciously refreshing recipe! We’re hoping it will inspire you to stay hydrated all summer long. That's because staying properly hydrated ensures your body runs like a smooth operating machine even when temperatures peak. You can check out our blog, featured by the National Processed Raspberry Council for more hydration tips here (disclaimer: we consult for the National Processed Raspberry Council and happily share our love of red raspberries).

One Mixed Berry Smoothie Recipe - Two Ways

Aside from the beverages you drink, foods you eat contribute to your total water consumption too. Some foods, however – such as fruits, veggies, and yogurt – have a higher water content than most foods. That's where this recipe comes in. It's a really delicious and healthy way to help you meet your hydration needs. 

The Recipe:

¾ cup frozen mixed berries
6 ounces Greek yogurt
½ cup milk or milk alternative

Pour all ingredients into a blender. Blend until smooth. Add ice if desired.

#1 - The Good Ole’ Mixed Berry Smoothie

Once blended, simply pour the frozen beverage into a glass!

#2 - Mixed Berry Smoothie Popsicles

Once blended, pour into Popsicle stands. Place in the freezer overnight.

Speaking of hydration, we drink water  a lot – so sometimes it’s just so nice to change it up with something special like Hint Water. Hint Water is such a fun and delicious spin on plain ol’ H20. 

THE GIVEAWAY: Hint Water is generously giving away a variety pack of their best-selling flavors, Blackberry and Watermelon, as well as their new flavors Crisp Apple and Blood Orange to one reader. The idea behind Hint is simple: purified water + a splash of natural flavor. No sugar, no diet sweeteners, and no preservatives or additives. Its water made tasty. You can get Hint Water still or fizzy!  You can now buy direct from Hint (click here).

[Disclosure: Hint sent me their new flavors and Hint Fizz to review for this post.  I was not paid for this post. All opinions are my own, included this one: I love hint, and the Watermelon flavor and Crisp Apple is]

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Cinnamon’s Potential for Diabetes Control

Cinnamon may have more to offer than its trademark sweet aroma and flavor. Scientists know that cinnamon provides antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antimicrobial effects. And now some studies suggest it may have blood-glucose lowering effects for people with diabetes. However, the evidence that cinnamon is a foolproof diabetes treatment is still lacking.
Photo courtesy of Wiki Commons

The science on cinnamon and blood glucose. Cinnamon received a lot of media attention following a 2003 study published by the American Diabetes Association. The study found a significant reduction—between 18 percent and 29 percent—of mean fasting blood glucose in subjects with type 2 diabetes who supplemented with 1, 3, or 6 grams (g) of cinnamon every day day over a 40- day period. Later, a literature review published in 2007 by Pharmacotherapy examined a total of 164 patients with type 2 diabetes involved in clinical trials, and concluded that cinnamon has a possible modest effect in lowering glucose levels in patients with poorly controlled type 2 diabetes. A more recently published randomized controlled trial in the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine investigated the effects of cinnamon on 109 type 2 diabetes patients with elevated hemoglobin A1C (HgA1C, a measurement of blood glucose control over time.) Researchers found that 1 g of cinnamon per day over a 90-day period, combined with usual care of medicine and follow-up with a doctor, lowered HgA1C by 0.83 percent, compared to usual care alone, which lowered HgA1C by 0.37 percent. However, a meta-analysis published in the September/October 2013 issue of Annals of Family Medicine found that while cinnamon significantly lowered plasma blood glucose among people with type 2 diabetes, it had no effect on HgA1C.

Cinnamon’s bottom line. Research on cinnamon’s potential blood-glucose controlling effects appears to show conflicting results, though optimistic overall. There is not enough evidence to rely on cinnamon supplementation in place of the proven standards of care, which includes physical activity and dietary modifications, such as eating smaller portions and more frequent meals, as well as diabetes treatment medications. But, it certainly wouldn’t hurt to incorporate cinnamon into your daily repertoire of healthy habits, especially if you have type 2 diabetes. The lowest amount of cinnamon found to be effective in studies is 1 gram (g), which is equivalent to about 1⁄5 teaspoon (3 g is about ½ teaspoon, 6 g is about 1 teaspoon).

Spice It Up with Cinnamon
Incorporate cinnamon into your daily diet with the following ideas.
Sprinkle cinnamon into your morning hot cereal, whole grain pancakes, waffles, toast, or brewed coffee
Combine cinnamon with low-fat cottage cheese or yogurt and fruit, add to smoothies, or mix into muffins and breads

Incorporate cinnamon into savory dishes and stews

Add to fruit desserts, such as cobblers, pies, poached pears, and baked apples

This article was written by McKenzie for the February 2014 issue of Environmental Nutrition.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Leafy Green Vegetables Take the Spotlight

Spinach and kale, Swiss chard and collard greens—these leafy greens pack a powerhouse of health-protective nutrients.

Perhaps Popeye was doing his body right when he ate spinach to replenish his superhuman strength. Green leafy vegetables are chock full of phytochemicals, vitamins, and minerals. In fact, many health professionals believe that leafy green vegetables deserve a special focus in the produce world for the volume of nutrients tucked into their low-calorie, low carbohydrate, low-glycemic index package. The U.S. Department of Agriculture recognizes the benefits of dark green vegetables on the basis of color, and recommends incorporating at least three cups (cooked, or 6 cups raw) in your diet every week, based on 2,000 calories per day.

Glorious vitamin-rich greens. The nutritional perks of leafy green vegetables are bountiful. Greens, such as collard and mustard greens and spinach, are rich sources of vitamins A, C, K, and folate— a water-soluble B vitamin that supports cell production, such as for hair, skin and nails, and may protect against cancer and neurological and cardiovascular diseases. Many varieties of vegetables supply 20 to 30 percent of your daily recommendation for calcium in a one-cup cooked serving.

Protective plant compounds. A host of health-promoting phytochemicals, such as betalains, quercetin, and carotenoids, including lutein and zeaxanthin, are found in leafy green vegetables. Consumption of lutein, for example, has been found to protect against the risk of age related macular degeneration, according to a 2012 review published in the British Journal of Nutrition. Quercetin appears to have anti-inflammatory ability, which may help protect against the development of atherosclerosis, a root of heart disease, as reported in a 2013 study in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition. And researchers from Italy found that betalains have remarkable potential to protect against oxidation.

Get your greens. All of these antioxidants and nutrients in leafy green vegetables work together to fend off disease. Consumption of these vegetables is linked to protection against mental decline, and improved heart, bone and eye health. At about 25 calories per one cup serving (uncooked), adding leafy green vegetables to your daily diet is an excellent way to promote optimal long term health.


Culinary Tips
Star Nutrients*
Health Benefits
Collard greens
Steam or sauté as a side dish or add to soups
Fiber, vitamins A, C, and K, folate, calcium, and manganese, quercetin,
May protect against heart disease and cancer, maintains healthy bones, supports digestive health
Steam or sauté as a side dish, add to soups and stir-fries, or use raw in salads
Vitamins A, C, and K, manganese, glucosinolates
May help boost immune function and protect against cancer
Romaine Lettuce
Serve raw in salads, add to sandwiches, or use to wrap fillings
Vitamins A, C, and K
May help boost immune function, supports digestive health
Mustard Greens
Steam or sauté as a side dish, add to soups, or use raw in salads
Vitamins A, C, and K, folate
May help boost immune function and protect against cancer and heart disease
Use raw in salads; add to soups, casseroles, pasta dishes, and side dishes.
Fiber, vitamins A, E, and K, folate, riboflavin, calcium, iron, magnesium, and manganese, lutein and zeaxanthin
Maintains healthy bones and eyes
Swiss chard
Use raw in salads or boil, roast or sauté as a side dish
Vitamins A, C, and K, iron, magnesium, potassium, manganese,
May help with blood sugar regulation, supports bone health
Turnip greens
Steam or sauté as a side dish, add to soups and pasta dishes
Fiber, vitamins A, C, and K, folate, calcium, and manganese
Maintains healthy bones, supports digestive health
Serve raw in salads or add to sandwiches
Vitamins A, C, and K
May help boost immune function and protect against cancer
*At least 10% of the DV, based ½ cup cooked or 1 cup raw serving; Source: USDA

This article was written by McKenzie for the February 2014 issue of Environmental Nutrition.

Get your dose of leafy greens with some of our recipes:

Kale Salad with Fennel, Radish & Toasted Pumpkin Seeds