Weekly Wellness Tip – Are You Seeding?

sunflower seeds pile

Growing up in Brooklyn, when I was in middle school it was ‘the thing’ to stop by the corner convenience store on the way to or from school to buy sunflower seeds.  We just loved it as a snack and enjoyed the process of popping those shelled seeds in our mouths, skillfully cracking them with our tongues, spitting out only the shell and eating the seed.  It was salty, crunchy and tasty. Little did we know that sunflower seeds when not roasted and salted are an excellent source of vitamin E, the body’s primary fat-soluble antioxidant. They also contain linoleic acid (essential fatty acid), amino acids, and minerals. Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins and the minerals contained in raw sunflower seeds include magnesium, potassium, zinc and calcium.

These days I have flax seed every morning along with my icelandic yogurt and fruit. The main health benefits of flax seed are due to its rich content of Amino Acids, Alpha-Linolenic Acid (ALA), dietary fiber, and lignans. ALA has power anti-flammatory properties. Lignans are phytoestrogens, plant compounds that have estrogen-like effects and antioxidant properties. Phytoestrogens help to stabilize hormonal levels, reducing the symptoms of PMS and menopause, and potentially reducing the risk of developing breast and prostate cancer.

There are lots of seeds to consider for health benefits. A seed is living food thus has all the nutrients straight out of the shell. Roasting it breaks down the nutritional value so eat them raw. Here are just a few others that are easily available that we can incorporate as snacks or in our current meals –

  1. Pumpkin Seeds – Don’t wait until you carve the Halloween pumpkin to get pumpkin seeds. They are a great source of vitamin B-complex, manganese and other minerals. These seeds are also high in omega-3 fatty acids  and zinc, two important nutrients that may play a role in supporting skeletal health.
  2. Chia Seeds – The seeds are extremely tiny but loaded with vitamins and minerals, and are an excellent source of fibre, protein and antioxidants, and are the richest plant source of omega-3 fatty acids. Consumption of chia seeds could help reduce joint pain, aid in weight loss, deliver an energy boost and protect against serious ailments such as diabetes and heart disease.
  3. Hemp Seeds – While hemp is commonly confused with marijuana, as it belongs to the same family, the two plants are quite different. Hemp seeds are high in nutritional value and contain 20 different varieties of amino acids and all nine of the essential amino acids (like flax). Some essential amino acids can’t be naturally produced by the body and these seeds have the capacity to supplement them in the body. They contain high amounts of protein, which helps in strengthening the immune system, thereby, reducing the instances of diseases, besides helping in excreting toxins from the body.

I’m adding some more seeds to my diet!

Feed the wellness in you!

Weekly Wellness Tip – The Berry Wars

Berries against a white background

Goji or Acai?  Dried or Fresh?  Noni berry or Noni juice?  There seems to be a campaign promoting  a new miracle berry every month!  I eat raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries everyday; the blackberry is known for being the strongest antioxidant, and all three provide great sources of fiber, Vitamins C, manganese, and many other respective vitamins and minerals. I did not consider adding another berry in my repertoire until a dear friend of mine asked me if I knew anything about Goji berries.  In an effort to help us both, I did some research on these other exotic berries that are being marketed with health claims. Here is what I found –

  1. Goji Berry  – These small, red berries have been used by Chinese herbalists for millennia to help eyesight, boost immune function and promote longevity.  They are grown in Himalayan region of China and Tibet.  Goji berries are very rich in nutrients – iron, fiber, Vitamins A and C.  But all berries are good for you so does this stand out amongst the rest? So far, there have been few published clinical trials to validate its highly lauded benefits above other berries.  According to Cathy Wong ND, Alternative Medicine Expert, although goji berries have a long history of use in traditional Chinese medicine, there is currently a lack of research on the safety or effectiveness of goji berries in supplement form.  So buy fresh goji berries if this is your choice.
  2. Açai berry  – This berry from the Amazon region has long been known to be a good source of antioxidants and nutritious.  A team of Texas AgriLife Research scientists showed that the antioxidants in açai berries are readily absorbed by the human body.  According to the National Institute of Health (NIH) no studies substantiate the claim that acai supplements alone promote rapid weight loss. However, laboratory studies have shown that acai berries demonstrate anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory activity.  No researched information states açai is any better than other antioxidant-packed fruits and vegetables.
  3. Noni berry – Noni is grown on an evergreen shrub throughout the tropical regions of the Pacific Ocean, from Southeast Asia to Australia. Noni has a history of use as a topical preparation for joint pain and skin conditions. Today, noni fruit juice has folk uses as a general health tonic and for cancer and chronic conditions such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes.  In laboratory research at the National Institute of Health, noni has shown antioxidant, immune-stimulating, and tumor-fighting properties. These results suggest that noni may warrant further study for conditions such as cancer and cardiovascular disease. However, noni has not been well studied in people for any health condition.

I am not convinced I need to add any additional berries to my fruit bowl.  No berries are performing miracles but I will stick to my blackberries, raspberries, blueberries and occasionally strawberries (if I can get to them before my kids); when pomegranates are in season those are added (see In Season Wellness – Pomegranates), as well as cherries.  I always buy organic as blueberries and strawberries rank the highest in pesticide residue.

Feed the wellness in you!

In Season Wellness – Guava

Guava with a half isolated on whiteThe Guava fruit brings back many childhood memories for me,  spending time on the lovely island of St. Vincent.  With rich volcanic soil, fruits and vegetables are grown in abundance on that small agricultural island.  Guava is everywhere, literally falling off the trees. It is made into several things –  jelly,  cheese,  stew, pudding, juice, ice cream.  Low in calories, high in vitamin C and potassium, they can also be eaten plain.  What a joy it was to just walk along the beach and see Guavas in the sand that dropped from Guava trees.  We would just pick them up, go to the sea, wash it off and eat it.  That is organic food at its best!  You can eat the entire Guava from the outer skin, to the flesh and the seeds.

Guava has a higher concentration of lycopene—an antioxidant that fights prostate cancer and prevents skin damage from UV rays —than any other plant food, including tomatoes and watermelon. It contains more potassium than other fruits like banana weight per weight. Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids that helps controlling heart rate and blood pressure. Guava also contains vitamins like Vitamin E, K, niacin, folate, pantothenic acid, Vitamin B6 and minerals like copper, manganese and magnesium which are important for blood formation. Also due to high content of Vitamin C, guava increases body’s capacity to absorb iron. Lastly, Guava may also be the ultimate high-fiber food: There’s almost 9 grams of fiber in every cup.

Find Guava near you and dive in.

Feed the wellness in you!

Weekly Wellness Tip – Spice to Health!

Herbs and spices

You have raised your glass to say ‘Cheers’ to health, success and many other things  but do those 8 ounces  provide you  with any health benefits?  Research shows (and I agree!) that red wine has many beneficial properties for cardiovascular health, cancer prevention and more.  So keep drinking that red wine!  We can also increase other things in our daily consumption for health and wellness.  Not only should we focus on the types of foods that we prepare but how to prepare them with a variety of herbs and spices that are good for you.

I often hear that healthier food does not taste as good.  This is simply not true!  A variety of spices makes a dish visually appealing and more appetizing.   Here is a list of some herbs and spices that you may already have. Try new combinations of spices to rev up a dish you frequently prepare with these in mind.

Reach in that cabinet and ‘Spice to Health’!

  1. Chili Pepper – Boosts metabolism
  2. Cilantro – High in Vitamin K which improves bone strength
  3. Cinnamon – A good source of fiber and research suggests it reduces cholesterol levels
  4. Cumin – Provides calcium, iron and magnesium
  5. Ginger – Soothes an upset stomach, fights muscle pain
  6. Mint – Reduces the severity and length of stomach aches
  7. Nutmeg – Rich in potassium, calcium, phosphorous and magnesium
  8. Oregano – Strong antibacterial properties
  9. Parsley – Scientists found that this herb can actually inhibit breast cancer-cell growth
  10. Rosemary – Rich in antioxidants which helps fight inflammation
  11. Saffron –  Boosts your mood
  12. Sage – May help preserve memory and soothe sore throats
  13. Thyme – Great for chest and respiratory problems
  14. Turmeric – Helps fight inflammation and inhibits tumors

Feed the wellness in you!

In Season Wellness – Kohlrabi

Purple kohlrabies

Have you ever had Kohlrabi? Have you ever even HEARD of Kohlrabi?  A few weeks ago I encountered this curious vegetable.  I was presented with a lunch menu that had an appetizer of winter root vegetables, and Kohlrabi was one of the vegetables. I ordered it and although I wasn’t blown away with the chosen preparation, it didn’t deter me from learning more about Kohlrabi.

After a quick search I realized that I had seen Kohlrabi many times before and thought it was a turnip. It is also known as knol-khol or German turnip with its origins in Germany.  In the German language Kohlrabi means ‘cabbage turnip’, aptly named since it is in the cabbage family of Brassica.  The brassica family also includes broccoli, cauliflower, kale, collard greens and brussels sprouts. Vegetables in this family are very high in Vitamin C, phytochemicals that help protect you from cancer, and many other vitamins and minerals.

Very much like cabbage, Kohlrabi has two varietals – white and purple. The bulb has a thick outer layer and looks like a cabbage, but once you cut into it, it is dense like a turnip.

Kohlrabi chopped

You can eat the leafy greens on the stem as you would the fleshy part.  It can be eaten raw, grilled, stir-fried, in soup; apparently very versatile.

I will return with a recipe soon now that I have Kohlrabi washed and chopped – I plan to give Kohlrabi validation in my kitchen.

Feed the wellness in you!

Weekly Wellness Tip – Need Sleep?

1760-your-future-depends-on-your-dreams-so-go-to-sleep

As much as we are anxious for Spring to come, many of us can not believe we have to set our clocks forward in a week.  Why?  We are going to lose an hour of sleep!  For those that don’t generally sleep that well losing that hour is going to be brutal until we adjust.

About 10 years ago I was having trouble sleeping and discovered I was iron deficient.  My doctor prescribed iron supplements and it was an incredible transformation. Now my iron rich diet has helped with relieving me of this issue permanently!  Studies also show that you can be deficient in calcium and magnesium causing you to have sleep issues.  We need our sleep to be at our optimal best so if falling asleep and staying asleep is a problem for you, find the root of the problem and determine a solution that fits your needs.

Diet can be a start.  Here is a list of food to incorporate in your lifestyle if you may be hitting a wall once we “spring forward”.  Start now and stay ahead of the sleep thief!

Feed the wellness in you!

  1. Almonds – A great source of magnesium.  If you are magnesium deficient, you have a harder time staying asleep.
  2. Walnuts – A good source of tryptophan, a sleep-enhancing amino acid that helps make serotonin and melatonin, the “body clock” hormone that sets your sleep-wake cycles.
  3. Cherry juice – Particularly tart cherries, naturally boost levels of melatonin.
  4. Yogurt – Dairy products like yogurt and milk have the calcium boost to help if you’re deficient.
  5. Whole grains – Get your Farro, Barley and Quinoa to boost your magnesium level.
  6. Leafy greens –  Kale, Collards, Mustard Greens, Spinach, Bok Choy, Watercress – all high in iron and calcium.
  7. Chickpeas – Chickpeas boast vitamin B6, which is needed to make melatonin (a sleep-inducing hormone triggered by darkness).

In Season Wellness – Cauliflower

Roasted White Organic Cauliflower

This winter vegetable gets such a bad rap. But if you know various ways to prepare it, it can be an amazing addition to your meal.  Lately I’ve noticed it more and more as side dishes on restaurant menus and in main courses.  I had it prepared shredded finely and served like rice – incredible!  In December I read an article toting Cauliflower as the new Kale of 2015 with innovative recipes from renowned chefs.    The versatility of the vegetable and it’s ability to blend well with spices makes it a winner in winter dishes this season.

CauliflowerCauliflower2

Cauliflower is in the cruciferous family with cabbage, bok choy and broccoli, so it has high amounts of vitamin C, fiber, B6, folate, and cancer protecting antioxidants.  There are various types and colors of cauliflower; broccoflower (a lime-green hybrid of broccoli and cauliflower that is round), Romanesco  (also a lime-green hybrid with spiky curds vs. round), the purple-headed cauliflower, the orange-headed cauliflower,  and the white-headed cauliflower we were served as kids after being boiled too long!

I often roast cauliflower along with broccoli – very simply tossed in garlic, olive oil, sea salt and a splash of lemon juice.   I have also replaced potatoes with it in dishes because it marries well with spices used in stews or soups.  One of my favorite cauliflower dishes at a local Indian restaurant is Cauliflower Bezule.  If you really want to’ wow’ yourself, give this a try!  Recipe for Cauliflower Bezule 

Feed the wellness in you!

Weekly Wellness Tip – Being Prepared

the-will-to1

 

Hello Monday!

Did you walk out of the house after eating a healthy breakfast and also know what you’re having for lunch and dinner? And for that midday snack? If not, we tend to ‘grab’ at what is convenient and it may not be the best option for you.  If you’re going to make those healthy changes in your life that will yield positive results you have to learn to plan and prepare in advance.  Consistently.  If you have good food in the house you’ll eat good food!  Take the time today to get the items you need to stick to your plan.  If you have to eat out, don’t just look at the menu and feel like those menu items listed are your only options.  Carefully look at the ingredients in dishes and if you see a combination of food you’d rather have that is better for you ask for it.  Most places are willing to accommodate.  And if not, you tried!  Just keep putting the extra effort in to eat well.

Have a great week!  Feed the wellness in you!

Wellness Action – Are You Determined?

Motivation 2

I’m going to visit a dear friend of mine in Florida today who gave birth to twins 4 months ago – at the age of 47!  Twins at any age is a challenge but of course the older you are the higher the risk.  It has been an adjustment to say the least but she is SO happy.  I don’t know all the details of her journey, but I can deduce that she and her husband, were very determined and they go to bed not just satisfied but HAPPY.

But this isn’t about her – this is about ME and YOU.  On this path of wellness and the need to make the right lifestyle decisions it requires purpose and determination on a daily basis.  We have to approach each day with the defined purpose of eating well and being determined to fulfill that desire.  You may have  a ‘bad’ day.  Just get back to your purpose.  Be intentional in your steps.

 Stay determined – feel and see the dividends!!

Feed the wellness in you!