Totally Rad Radishes

By: Alex Liddy

I remember a boy in my fourth grade class who would always have a big bag of radishes to snack on and at the age of 10 all I could think was “who would ever eat those?” Now, over a decade later I can’t get enough of their crisp, peppery goodness. Radishes come in all different colors and shapes; the type found most often in stores here in the US is the small, round, red Cherry Belle radish. What makes radishes so great is how easy they are to grow, taking as little as one month to fully mature.

Radishes are consumed across the globe and are typically eaten raw in some type of salad. In addition to the bulb itself, the greens of the radish can also be cooked and consumed. The nutrient profile of a radish is pretty impressive for its tiny size. They are very low in calories, only about 20 calories per cup, and are a good source of fiber which makes them an ideal vegetable to incorporate into any diet. Radishes contain phytosterols, which have been shown to lower LDL cholesterol. They also contain vitamin C, an antioxidant that helps to prevent damage caused by free radicals – which may play a role in cancer and heart disease. Other important nutrients found in radishes include potassium, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, and folate. So, the next time you’re at the grocery store, grab a bunch, slice them up and throw them into your salad. If you’re feeling a bit more ambitious, check out the recipe below! You can scale the recipe down or make it as is and eat it throughout the week.

Chipotle Chicken Tacos with Radish Salad

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped chipotles in adobo
  • ¾ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 4 chicken cutlets
  • 1 bunch sliced radishes and chopped radish greens
  • 4 sliced scallion greens
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 ½ tablespoons lime juice
  • 8 toasted flour tortillas
  • Smashed avocado

Directions

Stir together chipotles with cumin and salt. Add chicken and toss to coat. In another bowl, toss together sliced radishes and scallion greens. Dress with olive oil and lime juice; season. Grill chicken, then slice and serve on tortillas, topped with avocado and radish salad. Garnish with radish greens.

References

http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/vegetables-and-vegetable-products/2606/2

http://www.marthastewart.com/1004426/chipotle-chicken-tacos-radish-salad

Raw May Not Be Better

By Morgaine Gallagher

How many times has someone told you that raw produce contains the greatest amounts of nutrients? I’m sure you have heard if at least a couple of times, however it may not always be true.

Surprisingly, cooking helps to unlock some of the produce’s nutrients allowing your body to absorb them. In fruits and vegetables, the nutrients are found inside the cell walls. Baking, sautéing, pureeing, or even frying these foods will break the cell walls to release the nutrients and thus making them more bioavailable. Fat-soluble vitamins hold up better than water-soluble vitamins with added heat. On the other hand, the mineral content in vegetables is never affected with temperature change.

Some vegetables become more healthful after being cooked. Various nutrients in asparagus stalks will intensify after the vegetable is heated. The concentration of cancer fighting, phenolic acid doubles in value as an asparagus is heated. To quickly cook your asparagus, just wrap them in dampened paper towels and pop them in the microwave for four minutes! You’ll be left with perfectly tender stalks. Adding heat to tomatoes ups its lycopene levels, while enhancing the fruit’s bright red color. Lycopene is a phytochemical that is linked to lowering the rate of cancer and heart disease. On the other hand, a landmark study (Liu, 2002) shows that the vitamin C content decreases in tomatoes as they cook. The decrease in vitamin C is insignificant when compared to the tremendous increase of beneficial lycopene. According to the Department of Agriculture’s nutrient database, a cup of cooked mushrooms contains double the amount of niacin, potassium, magnesium, and zinc as the same amount raw. Carrots release carotenoids, making it more antioxidant after being boiled. Just simply place whole carrots in simmering water, and cook until tender. Spinach, a vegetable dubbed for its antioxidant and mineral content, is most beneficial in its cooked form as well. The oxalic acid, iron and calcium content all increase greatly with blanching or sautéing.

Unfortunately, not all cooking methods are created equal. Microwaving, grilling, sautéing and baking are amongst the top most nutritious methods. Unfortunately, frying and pressure-cooking will leave you with product that contains even less nutrients than in its raw form. The only method to be cautious about is boiling, which entails submerging the produce fully into water that is around 212° F. Although boiling can enhance the nutrient content in foods, it can also extract the vitamins and minerals into the water. Therefore, if you do not plan on drinking the boiling liquid, boiling may not be the most beneficial option.

    Go ahead, heat up those veggies!
References

http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/vegetables-nutritional-value-often-rises-when-they-are-cooked-properly/2015/03/02/6851623c-9b3a-11e4-96cc-e858eba91ced_story.html

http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/jf0115589

http://paleoleap.com/cooking-vegetables-pale/

Meat Free Meals

By: Simona Lourekas

There are many reasons to consider occasionally swapping out meat for a plant-based alternative. In 2009 registered dietitian Dawn Jackson Blatner coined the term“flexitarian” in the book, “The Flexitarian Diet: The Mostly Vegetarian Way to Lose Weight, Be Healthier, Prevent Disease and Add Years to Your Life”. A flexitarian is someone who eats a primarily vegetarian plant-based diet and occasionally eats meat or fish. Well known food author Michael Pollan follows a flexitarian lifestyle, this diet follows his own mantra, “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants”. Eating less meat provides many health benefits, those who eat less meat weigh less and have decreased incidence of cardiovascular disease, stroke, and diabetes, and live longer. Swapping out meat is also great for the environment, producing animals such as beef and pork uses more water, land, and energy than plants. Food grown for eating a vegan diet, containing no animal products, requires 300 gallons of water per day whereas a meat-eating diet requires 4,000 gallons of water per day. Some of the water needed for a meat-eating diet comes from the 16 pounds of grain that are required to produce 1 pound of meat, grain that could be eaten by humans! Whether you are attempting to eat one meatless meal a day, or just try something new, here are two vegetarian recipes to give a try:

meat

Vegetarian Chili Recipe: (4 servings)

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ teaspoons vegetable oil
  • ½ cup chopped onions
  • ¼ cup chopped carrots
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 ½ teaspoons chili powder
  • ½ cup chopped green bell pepper
  • ½ cup chopped red bell pepper
  • ¼ cup chopped celery
  • ¾ cups chopped fresh mushrooms
  • ½ (28 ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes with liquid, chopped
  • ½ (19 ounce) can of kidney beans with liquid
  • 1 ½ teaspoons ground cumin
  • ¾ teaspoons dried oregano
  • ¾ teaspoons dried basil

Instructions

  1. Heat the vegetable oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Sauté onions, carrots and garlic until tender.
  2. Stir in green pepper, red pepper, celery and chili powder, cook until tender.
  3. Stir in mushrooms and cook for approximately 4 minutes. Stir in tomatoes, kidney beans, and corn (And any other vegetables you would like). Season with cumin, oregano, and basil. Cover and let simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Enjoy!

Sesame Tofu and Rice: (4 servings)

Ingredients

  • 14 oz. extra-firm tofu, drained
  • ¼ cup sesame seeds
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon grated ginger
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 2 ½ tablespoons soy-sauce (preferably low-sodium)
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon corn starch (can use flour as replacement)
  • 2 cups cooked brown rice
  • 6 heads sautéed baby bok choy

Instructions

  1. Cut the tofu into 12, ¾ inch thick slabs, then blot with a paper towel. Spread the sesame seeds out on a plate, and press the tofu onto them.
  2. In a large pan sauté the tofu in the canola oil until sesame seeds are golden brown, approximately 3 minutes per side.
  3. In a small bowl whisk together garlic, ginger, vinegar, soy sauce, brown sugar, corn starch and ½ cup of water. Add to the pan and let simmer until thickened, approximately 2 minutes. Pour sauce over the tofu; serve with the brown rice and bok choy. Enjoy!

Both recipes call for 4 servings, if you’re cooking for one make sure to freeze any leftovers. They can be reheated for a quick dinner another night!

Here is a recipe for Homemade Black Bean Burgers: http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/our-homemade-quick-black-bean-burger

References:

http://search.proquest.com/docview/1541372973/EF31394C83D24FB7PQ/2?accountid=11667

http://allrecipes.com/recipe/insanely-easy-vegetarian-chili

http://www.101cookbooks.com/archives/pierce-street-vegetarian-chili-recipe.html

https://www.cspinet.org/nah/healthycook/sept2012recipes.html

http://www.epicurious.com/archive/blogs/editor/2013/04/michael-pollan-gets-cooked-plus-flexitarian-rules.html

Eating Seasonally

By Anne Custer

Eating seasonally is simply eating fruits and vegetables that are naturally grown at that time. By not eating in season, we are consuming foods that have likely been genetically modified to grow in a time they were not created to be. We are missing out on all the benefits in eating season has such as improved health, environment, and economic outcomes.

Buying in season means the food is at the peak of its freshness and holds the most nutritional value. Take blueberries for example. They are available right now in the dead of winter, but late summer is when they are the freshest and juiciest. Buying a carton of blueberries now means they were artificially created to grow in conditions not typically supported by a blueberry grown in the summer. The environment where produce is grown can greatly alter nutritive value. A research study found that spinach grown during winter (out of season) versus spinach grown during summer (in season) had less nutritional value. Specifically, Vitamin K levels were significantly depleted in the spinach grown out of season. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, they recognize the healing power of food and eat according to this belief. Nature provides us the healing food we need during each season. For example, during the spring, it is considered a time of cleansing. The liver is a prime detoxification organ and spring is when bitter greens, which support liver health, are naturally grown. For your health, eat foods in season. Fresh foods help support our body’s natural cleansing ability and encourage optimal health.

Growing foods out of season considerably affects the environment as well. The seasons offer the Earth the natural diversity of different resources including harvesting conditions for food. This essential balance is something we should be aware of and take into consideration while at the grocery store. By producing foods year round, we are depleting the Earth of its natural resources and increasing pollution. It takes lots of fuel to deliver Florida Oranges to a grocery store in New York. These delivery methods increases the time from farm to table, leading to shorter shelf life and dwindling resources. In addition, the means to grow year round are not sustainable. The use of pesticides and the lack of protection of soil fertility do not provide a healthy environment for produce to grow and flourish.

The best excuse for cheap college kids to buy in season is the low-cost that comes with eating seasonally. Seasonal foods are priced more reasonably because of the few resources it takes to naturally harvest them. Foods are naturally and readily available while in the season they are supposed to be grown. Out of season is more expensive because of the cost of travel and means to artificially produce fruits and vegetables. Because in season is cheaper to produce, they are cheaper to buy!

Use this link to search foods in season and farmer’s markets in your hometown! The chart below gives a brief overview of fruits and veggies naturally grown in each month. Some great produce you can buy this month is kale, Brussel sprouts, carrots, and kiwi!

Spice Up Your Life! Protecting Your DNA and Cell Health

By Karen Leibowitz

Did you know that spices are packed with antioxidants? Antioxidants promote healthy cells by preventing oxidative stress to the DNA in our cells. Oxidative stress can consequently increase the risk of many diseases like cancer and cardiovascular disease. Just a small amount of spice can make a huge impact on your health!

spices

A study showed that DNA damage may be decreased with eating ginger, turmeric, rosemary, and other spices. Scientists acquired tissue samples and exposed these cells to free radicals. They assigned one group to eat spices, and the other group to not eat spices. The DNA fracture rates were recorded and the results were promising.

A tissue sample showed that about 10% of the cells in subjects’ bodies had DNA damage – breaks of strands in their DNA. However, eating ginger for just one week showed a 25% cut in DNA damage, lowering the percentage of damage DNA to 8%. The same result was shown with rosemary. More astonishingly, after eating turmeric for one week, DNA damage was cut by 50%!

 Just 1⅓ teaspoons of both rosemary and ginger, and just a pinch (⅛ teaspoon) of turmeric daily can do the trick.

In addition, it is cooked (heat-treated) spices that have more of the antioxidant-rich effect of cell repair than raw. However, raw spices are found to have more anti-inflammatory effects! Try eating a variety of both raw and cooked spices to prevent the risk of cell damage.

Lentil Soup for Strong Cells!     (Serves 6 to 8)

2 cups dried red lentils, rinsed

1 cup chopped carrots

1 large onion, chopped

1 15-20 oz can diced tomatoes

2 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp ground turmeric

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp dried rosemary

1 tsp ground ginger

½ tsp ground black pepper

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 tbsp lemon juice

1-2 portobello mushroom caps

7 cups of stock or 7 cups of water plus a bouillon cube

Place all ingredients in a slow-cooker, mix, and cook covered on high for 4 hours.

Sprinkle some extra uncooked turmeric when serving.

Note: If you are missing some of the ingredients, be creative! Swap for different spices and herbs, use fresh or dried. Be sure to check water levels if you are omitting water-retaining ingredients like tomatoes or mushrooms.

Reference:

Percival, S., Vanden Heuvel, J., Nieves, C., Montero, C., Migliaccio, A., & Meadors, J. (2012). Bioavailability of herbs and spices in humans as determined by ex vivo inflammatory suppression and DNA strand breaks.Journal of American College of Nutrition, 31(4), 288-294. Retrieved February 9, 2015, from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23378457

The Art of Grocery Shopping

By: Amelia Ritchie

Going to the grocery store can be an overwhelming task, especially when going in unprepared. When you are in the store remember that the outside edges of the grocery store usually contain the least processed foods including vegetables, fruits, meats, and diary. Frozen veggies are also a great option because freezing locks in their nutrients. Local Farmer’s Markets are also a great option because they always have produce that is in season. At the grocery store, produce that is in season will be cheaper!GS1

One important thing to remember is to not go to the grocery store hungry. This can take some planning ahead, but when you shop hungry you are more likely to splurge on foods that are not the best choices. When we are hungry the body most often craves carbohydrates, such as foods with many added sugars because the body recognizes these foods as a quick source of energy. Splurging on any food can be detrimental to your budget!

GS2

While you are eating your snack before going to the grocery store it is a great idea to look through the store’s sale flyer. Targeting items on sale can save money, so instead of creating a shopping list around certain recipes, choose your recipes according to the foods currently on sale! Making a grocery list is crucial to keep you on track while shopping. Sticking to your list can help you avoid splurging and purchasing unnecessary items. While at the grocery store it is important to look at the unit prices of foods. Different foods come in different amounts per package, so looking at the unit price allows you to compare unit per unit instead of the price of the already packaged amounts that may vary.

GS3

While shopping for the healthiest foods is a crucial part, saving money is also very important, especially since healthy foods can be more expensive. I see grocery shopping as an art that takes time mastering. I know I struggle balancing a budget while looking for the healthiest options. It takes time, but in the end it is worth it!

http://healthbitesva.org/

(images) http://www.funfitflavor.com/mostrecent/2014/22/4/sugar-free-challenge

https://kalebfitness.wordpress.com/

Anatomy of the Habit:

By: Caroline Thomason

Humans are creatures of habit. This is how we have survived – we figure out that something works for us, and we continue to seek out whatever this ‘thing’ may be. For many, these habits may be small things such as showering in the morning or checking Facebook before bed.

However, when it comes to diet and exercise habits, many people find themselves flustered with their results. Especially during the New Year, people are resolving to create healthier habits. This blog is going to outline helpful tips to creating new habits and making them last.

With diet and exercise changes, it is easy to want to try to overhaul everything at once. I’m here to tell you to resist that urge. Focusing on just one habit at a time increases your likelihood of being successful. For example, getting up 20 minutes earlier to make a healthy breakfast or gradually getting in bed earlier to get enough hours are two of many examples that can make a huge difference when you are consistent with them one at a time! In a matter of weeks, you might start to notice that the one change you’ve made no longer seems to take as much of a mental effort to reinforce. Now you can begin to introduce a new habit! The key is to not overwhelm yourself and cause resistance to the habit you are working to create.

In addition to choosing only one habit, I also recommend creating more awareness for tasks that may drain your energy and thus cast you away from your new habit. Making changes requires mental effort, and when we are spending our mental energy on a lot of other activities, it may take away from the effort we could be putting into forming our new habit. For example, if your new habit is to prepare a salad each day, and you spend your time surfing YouTube or doing other mindless tasks, you might find yourself opting for a more convenient snack instead when it comes time to make the salad. Acknowledging draining activities might create more mental energy to put toward creating your salad.

Many researchers have studied the psychology of habits. In fact, there is a Habit Loop which has proved to be the primary way in which many of us form habits. It’s very simple, and has three steps: the trigger, the habit, and the reward. The trigger is the initial event before the habit occurs, and the reward is generally a sense of pleasure or fulfillment after the habit is performed. If you can find a way to break your habit at the trigger stage, you are more likely to succeed. For example, maybe the habit you want to change is grabbing a piece of candy or chocolate every time you walk through the grocery line. The trigger here is seeing the chocolate and wanting it. The habit is picking it up and buying it, and the reward is the satisfaction from eating it. In order to stop this habit loop at the trigger point, maybe you can offer yourself an incentive. You could make a deal that if you can leave the chocolate bar two weeks in a row, then the third week you can buy it if you want it. Oftentimes, breaking the habit may even lead to greater feelings of satisfaction that can outweigh the original habit’s satisfaction!

Use these tips and see how easily you can make changes to your health!