Eat Eggplants to Protect Your Brain 

Growing up, my mother never cooked or grew eggplants.  I’ve heard stories of my late grandfather growing it, which he referred to them as Garden Eggs. In my adult life, I’ve grown to love the taste.  I grow and cook them, and I even got my mother to enjoy growing and cooking with them too.  Eggplants are extremely healthy and versatile to cook with.  It is a very good source of dietary fiber, vitamin B1, copper, manganese, vitamin B6, niacin, potassium, folate and vitamin K.  Eggplants also contains phytonutrients; such as nasunin and chlorogenic acid.  The nasunin is the antioxidant responsible for providing your brain with food.

In animal studies, nasunin has been found to protect the lipids (fats) in brain cell membranes. Cell membranes are almost entirely composed of lipids and are responsible for protecting the cell from free radicals, letting nutrients in and wastes out, and receiving instructions from messenger molecules that tell the cell which activities it should perform. Nasunin is located in the purple skin of the eggplant so don’t peel it.  It’s job is to search and defeat free radicals.

According to Rice University, free radicals are atoms or groups of atoms with an odd (unpaired) number of electrons and can be formed when oxygen interacts with certain molecules. Once formed these highly reactive radicals can start a chain reaction, like a dominoe effect. Their chief danger comes from the damage they can do when they react with important cellular components such as DNA, or the cell membrane.  Free radicals are basically bad for you and they are everywhere.  They can break down healthy cells and multiply.

What are free radicals?

Free radicals are highly unstable and reactive molecules that damage living cells. These can come from everyday pollution and other common stressors, like the ones listed below:

  • Everyday air pollutants
  • Smog / UV rays
  • Up to 80% of free radical damage is caused by the sun (1). Always wear a broad spectrum SPF!
  • Lack of sleep and exercise
  • Stress
  • Illness
  • Fried foods
  • Alcohol & Tobacco
  • Pesticides

Oxidative stress occurs when there are too many free radicals running amuck.  It leads to stressed out cells that are broken down and weakened. Then, diseases like cancers, cardiovascular disease, emphysema, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, ulcers and a boatload of other inflammatory diseases can developed.

Free radicals are also associated with aging skin.  That’s right!  Sunblock isn’t the only defense for aging.  What you feed your body/cells is extremely important too. Eating dark leafy greens and high pigmented fruits that are rich in vitamin C helps to protect your cells and support fighting off free radicals.  Don’t forget to eat up your eggplant too because it will protect your skin from aging prematurely.

Did you know?

The high purple skin pigment on eggplants is also a form of protection for the plants. Researchers at the US Agricultural Service in Beltsville, Maryland, have found that eggplants are rich sources of phenolic compounds that function as antioxidants. Plants form such compounds to protect themselves against oxidative stress from exposure to the elements, as well as from infection by bacteria and fungi. If we eat the eggplant, these antioxidants protects us. Can you name a fast food chain that can do that? I think, NOT!

Resources:  
Protective effects of dietary nasunin on paraquat-induced oxidative stress in rats.

Eggplant: Medical News Today

TIP of the Day! 

Eat Foods That Support Glutathione Production. 

What Does Glutathione Do? It helps your immune system fight off infections and diseases. Our bodies produce glutathione, but as we age, it declines. Free radicals in the environment like pesticides and herbicides in the foods you eat, infections, and diseases are detrimental to our bodies. Glutathione steps in and carries these toxins out of the body through your bile and stool. Without glutathione, sickness takes over. The correlation here is, eat foods rich in glutathione to support your bodies defend mechanism. Why do you think old people get sick often with colds and diseases? Glutathione is extremely low in older people and for people who don’t eat a healthy plant enriched diet. 

Where To Get Glutathione? Sulfur-rich foods like Brussels Sprouts, broccoli, kale, collards, cabbage, cauliflower, watercress, etc. Incorporating a plant-based enriched diet with these foods and whole grains, legumes, fruits and an array of vegetables will boost your glutathione levels. 

Kale – Is rich in glutathione.

Why Eat Raw Foods?  Fruits and vegetables contains natural enzymes our bodies depend on to aid in digestion. Heathing these foods to high temperatures kills these enzymes.  It’s not easy to eat everything raw, but lightly sautéed foods may hold on to some enzymes.  For insurance, I do smoothies, juicing greens and raw salads. There’s no boundaries as to what you can add to them.  Incorporating raw foods into your diet by drinking smoothies, fresh juices and salads is the best antidote. Kale, cabbages, asparagus, watercress and onions are sulfur rich glutathione vegetables that works great for any of these options. Don’t be afraid to try new ingredients. Find what works for you. 


Resources: 

What is Glutathione? 

Reap the Benefits of Glutathione

Beet This Fact


     Beets are incredibly delicious, easy to grow, and extremely healthy for you.  Did you know that beet roots has cancer fighting properties?   Beets have long been know as a healthy source of nutrients, but scientific evidence also validates their significance as a defense against cancer. Some research even shows cases of remission in cancer patients who were given high concentrations of beet root. I grew my own this year.  There’s nothing better than picking fresh beets and preparing them as you like. 


     This root vegetable is a good source of iron, potassium, phosphorus, calcium, sulfur  magnesium, iodine, and a number of trace minerals. However, it is the synergy between certain elements found only in specific combinations and concentrations within the beet that give it its cancer-fighting power.  The leaves are also eatable and holds valuable nutrients. While other foods contain iron, the human body is able to assimilate it from the beet root more readily than from almost any other food.  Researchers suspect that there is a catalyst in the beet root that helps the body more easily use the available iron. 

     Beet juice powder is one of the most concentrated forms of the root, with a typical serving size being a teaspoon or two added to 8 ounces of water plus 8 ounces of fresh vegetable juice. Larger dosages may be necessary for those with a cancer diagnosis.  I’ve always enjoyed juicing, eating and cooking with all varieties of beets.  After researching beet powder, I am interested in trying it out. The benefits outweighs the taste, especially if you’re looking for healthy alternatives. I grew up seeing my mother with this red vegetable that made a huge mess. I loved handeling it, but I was one of the haters as a young child.  In my family, there were no excuses, I had to eat it.  Now I’m a mom and I’ve included beets in our diets of course, just more creatively. Beets have an earthy taste. Some people like it or hate it. My advise for the non-likers, smoothies and fresh juices are the best ways to consume vegetables. I juice it and blend it in smoothies for my children. Knowing how to combine the different vegetables to off-set the tastes helps tremendously. 

Here are my favorite beet juice recipes. 

Beet Juice – Granny Dearest 

  • 1 Green Granny Smith Apple
  • 1 Inch piece peeled fresh ginger
  • 3 Medium Carrots 
  • 1 Large beet, peeled
  • 1 Medium orange peeled 

 Beet Juice – Energizer 

  • 1 Large beetroot
  • 1 Medium Gala Apple 
  • 1/2 Piece fresh ginger
  • 2 Cucumbers 
  • 1 bunch of parsley 

Smoothie – Beet Powerhouse 

  • 1 Large beetroot (Juiced) 
  • 2 Ripe bananas 
  • 1 Cup strawberries 
  • 1/2 bunch of fresh/frozen kale
  • 1 Cup ice
  • 1 Cup of coconut milk 
  • 1 tsp of raw honey

I hope you enjoy my recipes, and try to come up with your own combinations. Be adventurous and don’t be intimidated to try new things. 

Resources:  Adapted from “Benefits of beets documented to defeat cancer,” by Johnathan Landsman, at http://naturalhealth365.com


Heirloom Tomatoes


So what does heirloom mean for heirloom tomatoes?

For heirloom tomatoes the word heirloom refers to the tomato seeds that have been harvested from certain varieties and passed down for generations because of their favorable and desirable characteristics and qualities.  

You can find heirloom tomatoes at most farmers markets. A lot of farms that offer a CSA membership might add heirloom tomatoes to their weekly shares as well. Since they are becoming more popular, they are more readily available in several grocery stores as well.

Heirloom tomatoes are great to enjoy just as you would any other type of tomato. Be sure to try out some recipes specifically using heirloom tomatoes as well.  This variety is called Grandma Ugly. I guess based on the many lines and ripples they have. They’re just as delicious and sweet to eat in any style dish you desire. My favorite way to eat tomatoes is cut up in big chunks with fresh minced garlic drizzled with olive oil and apple cider vinegar. 

Resource: The Back Road Life

A Healthy Sweet Snack

Here’s another awesome snack for people who are always looking for the next best on-the-go food.  Sugar snap peas are easy to tote around, very sweet, and healthy. They are a cross between the garden and snow pea, which have plump pods with a crisp snappy texture.  The pods of snap peas are edible. Peas are one of the few members of the legume family that are commonly sold and cooked as fresh vegetables. The other members of the legume family, including lentils, chickpeas, and beans of all colors are most often sold in dried form. They are all loaded with amazing nutrients, iron and protein. A favorite amongst vegans and vegetarians. 

I prefer to eat my sugar snap peas raw because of the sweetness. To me, when they’re cooked, it loses that delicious sweet aspect. Plus when they’re raw, the skin is very crunchy. If you didn’t see me eating them but heard me, you would think I was eating cheese doodles. That’s how loud they are.  Not only are they fun to eat, sugar snap peas are great for tossing them in my salads. They add a wonderful dimension to stir fried too. For amazing healthy information about the green peas and legumes family, visit whfoods site for up-to-date scientific studies, recommended dietary guidelines, and easy recipes. 

Try some today, and let me know if you like’em. 

Healthy Eating!!! 
 

EWG: Healthy Thanksgiving Tips 

The Environmental Working Group has five amazing tips for you to keep in mind when preparing for a healthy Thanksgiving feast. 

  • Stuffing is always a holiday favorite, but did you know that store-bought stuffing mixes often have 30 or more ingredients, including preservatives from EWG’s Dirty Dozen list of food additives? More than half of the stuffing rated on Food Scores are likely to contain ingredients of high or moderate concern, so we recommend making your own or using EWG’s Food Scores to pick one of the top-scoring products.
  • Turkeys are often fed antibiotics and growth promoters in their feed to encourage development of lean muscle instead of fat. (No wonder they look the way they do!) Consider going organic and antibiotic-free this year and check out our guide to decoding turkey labels to help you choose a better bird this Thanksgiving.

However and whatever you choose to buy or eat, the most important thing to remember, is to be happy and Thankful. 
Resource: Environmental Working Group (EWG)

7 Warning Signs You Must Not Ignore

  
Have you ever heard of the term “thin-fat syndrome?” Well, Dr. Mark Hayman says, “it means you are under lean but over fat – not enough muscle and too much fat (especially belly fat).”  Diabetes does not discriminate.  It doesn’t matter if you are skinny or obese, you could be at risk.  Type 2 diabetes is growing rampant in the United States and you need to learn about the signs.  Type II is called “adult onset diabetes” or “non-insulin dependent diabetes” because it most often affects people over forty years old. 

See if you’re vulnerable and what to do next. 

  1. Waking up often during the night to pee
  2. Feeling unusually thirsty
  3. Unexplained weight loss or gain
  4. Frequent yeast infections
  5. Blurry vision
  6. Tingling in the hands and feet
  7. Cuts that don’t heal well or infections that are difficult to get rid of

If you notice even one of these symptoms of diabetes, it’s worth bringing it up with your doctor and asking for a blood test (usually the A1C) to check your blood sugar levels.  The best approach to avoid or reverse it is exercise and diet, which is key regardless of how much you weigh.  Rochelle Naylor, MD, an endocrinologist of Chicago Kovler Diabetes Center recommends cardio and strength training, which can both improve insulin sensitivity. Aiming for 30 minutes a day at five times a week is the minimum requirement.  Curbing the processed foods and simple carbohydrates is important. Not to mention, adding more fiber-rich foods and vegetables into your diet will give you the right balance. I’m a huge advocate for a whole-food plant-based diet.  

Eat clean and get physical! 

More resources: Early symptoms of diabetes and typical medical treatment

SNACK ON THIS BEFORE YOU SHOP

 
 Can an apple a day really keep the doctor and the pounds away?  Possibly! A study was conducted at the research center of Cornell University’s Food and Brand Lab on the effects of apples and food control. Researchers found that people who ate an apple sample before going grocery shopping bought 28 percent more fruits and vegetables than those who ate cookies, and 25 percent more than those who went snack-free. “Having a healthy snack right before you walk through the supermarket doors will put you in a healthier frame of mind and lead you to make smarter choices”, explains study co-author Aner Tal, PhD.   

From Hudson Vally
 

The lesson here is, just eat an apple everyday because you’ll shop more healthier, and don’t forget it also keeps the doctor away.  I also recommend it being an organic apple.  Apples in the United States are unfortunately strayed with a cocktail of pesticides. It’s also ranked as one of the highly sprayed fruits on the Environmental Working Group’s list.  

Choose wisely, live wisely. Know your facts!

Memory Booster

 

Move over almonds!  A recent study in the Journal of Nutrition, Health & Aging found that subjects ages 20 to 59 who ate an average of five walnut halves daily performed significantly better on congnitive tests (memorizing a series of symbols and numbers) than those who didn’t eat them.  The brain-boosting effects may come from the nut’s high levels of antioxidants and omega-3’s. 

Another great plant-based option for healthy omegas is flaxseeds. Flaxseed is a source of healthy fat, antioxidants, and fiber; modern research has found evidence to suggest that flaxseed can also help lower the risk of diabetesThe best way to get your needed essential fatty acids is by eating a health-promoting diet derived exclusively from whole natural foods. These essential fatty acids are found abundantly in green leafy vegetables (kale, Swiss chard, spinach, etc.), flaxseeds, soybeans, and nuts and seeds.   

Eating a health-promoting diet will provide adequate amounts of the essential fatty acids, without the problems associated with animal products, processed oils, and supplements, which are often promoted as sources for these essential nutrients. Walnuts, flax seeds and green vegetables including purslane are a rich source of the desirable Omega-3 fatty acids.  



Resource: The World’s Healthiest Foods

Food Revolution Day: Jamie Oliver 

 Jamie Oliver’s Food Foundation was founded in 2002 with a mission to “shape the health and wellbeing of current and future generations and contribute to a healthier world by providing better access to food education for everyone.”   Every year around this time, Jamie hosts Food Revolution Day, which is a day of action where thousands of people all over the world make a stand for the right to make healthy food and essential cooking skills mandatory.  This year’s Food Revolution Day falls on Friday, May 15th, and this time he’s making it all about the kids. 

“By educating children about food in a practical, fun and engaging way, we can provide them with the knowledge and skills they so urgently need to lead healthier, happier lives. We need to make practical food education a compulsory part of every school curriculum across the world, and that’s why I’ve launched a petition calling on all G20 countries to action this. With enough support from millions of people around the world, I truly believe that we can create a movement that’s powerful enough to make governments take action.” Jamie Oliver

  
Read more and sign his petition and support the Food Revolution