Roasted Butternut Squash with Tamari-Glazed Broccoli and Escarole & Beans

Roasted Butternut Squash with Tamari-Glazed Broccoli and Escarole & Beans

Fall is here, and that means bring on the warm colors and flavors. Cinnamon, nutmeg, pumpkin, squash, and the like are all out and ready to be taken in.

The Fall is my favorite time of year.  The weather is generally great even here in the northeast. However, it is the food that really makes difference here.

The flavors are fantastic.  The colors are vibrant. The food is warm.  Let’s highlight some of those flavors here:

You Need:

• 2 Butternut Squashes, cut into ½ inch cubes
• 2 stalks Broccoli, florets chopped
• 2 heads Escarole, chopped
• 1 large can Cannellini Beans, rinsed and drained
• 1 White Onion, diced
• 3 cloves Garlic, chopped
• Olive Oil
• 1 tbsp. Tamari
• Salt, to taste
• Black Pepper, taste
• 1 ½ tbsp. Cinnamon
• 1 tsp. Smoked Paprika

DIRECTIONS

1. Preheat oven to 450˚F. Rinse and chop produce accordingly. Line 2 baking trays.

2. To 1 baking tray, add butternut squash. Add 1 tbsp. olive oil, salt, pepper, cinnamon, and smoked paprika. Mix well until fully coated. Once the oven is warm, add tray to the oven a roast for 20 minutes, or until tender. Halfway through the cooking process, removed to toss, then place the tray back in the oven.

3. On the other baking tray, add broccoli and 1 clove garlic. Add tamari, 1 tbsp. olive oil, and black pepper. Mix well until fully coated. Once the over is warm, add tray to the oven a roast for 20 minutes, or until tender. Halfway through the cooking process, removed to toss, then place the tray back in the oven.

4. In a large pan set to medium-high heat, add 1 tbsp. olive oil. Once warm, add 2 cloves garlic and onion. Stir occasionally to avoid burning. Cook until onion is softened, 3-4 minutes.

5. Begin to add escarole to the pan with garlic and onion. This may need to be done in batches as the escarole wilts, 5-8 minutes. Once escarole is wilted, add beans and season with salt and pepper. Stir to combine, and cook for 1-2 minutes, until beans are warmed through.

6. To each serving dish, distribute evenly the butternut squash, broccoli, and escarole & beans. Enjoy!

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Pink Beans and Couscous

When you’re strapped for time or want to put together a quick dinner, sometimes it is best to throw a bunch of simple ingredients together and seeing what happens.

That’s basically what happened here. I was running low on food in the fridge, and I needed to clear it out before I was going shopping the following the day.

The sprouts were going to go bad if I didn’t use them at this point, and I need a vehicle to bring together mushrooms, green beans, and pink beans (which I have never used before).

Luckily, I found some couscous and thought it was a great idea!

Turns out, it all ended up working out for a pretty solid, balanced, and well-rounded dinner.

Give this a shot and let me know what you think!

Serves: 2

You Need:
• ½ Cup Israeli Couscous
• 1 small can Pink Beans, rinsed and drained
• 10 oz. Green Beans, ends removed & halved
• 5 oz. Mushrooms, chopped
• 1 Yellow Onion, diced
• 12 oz. Brussels Sprouts, halved
• Olive Oil
• Salt, to taste
• Black Pepper, to taste
• 1 tbsp. Garlic Powder
• 1 tbsp. Chipotle Pepper Powder

DIRECTIONS

1.Rinse and chop the produce accordingly. Preheat an oven to 450˚F. Line 1 baking tray.

2.In a small pot, add 1 tbsp. olive oil set to medium heat. Once hot, add onion, and cook until translucent, 3-4 minutes. Then, add green beans and mushrooms, and cook until softened slightly, 3-4 minutes more. Season with salt and pepper.

3.Add couscous to pot with green beans, mushrooms, and onion. Add 1 ¼ cup water and bring mixture to a boil. Once boiled, reduce heat to a simmer and cover until water has evaporated, about 10 minutes.

4.Meanwhile, add brussels sprouts to baking tray. Season with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Drizzle 1 tbsp. olive oil and toss to combine. Place in the heated oven and allow to roast for 20-25 minutes, until slightly browned. Then, remove until ready to serve.

5.In a pan set to medium-high heat, add 1 tbsp. olive oil. Once hot, add pink beans. Season with salt, pepper, and chipotle pepper powder. Cook for 3-4 minutes, until fully combined and set aside until ready to serve.

6.Plate couscous, and top with pink beans. Serve with a side of brussels sprouts. Enjoy!

What’s the Deal with Antioxidants?

Acai bowls are all the rage nowadays. I love them myself. While walking down the street, I’m sure you’ve noticed signs claiming their acai bowls are “packed with antioxidants” or “nutrient-dense.”

But what does that actually mean?

Antioxidants are substances that protect our cells from free radical (or oxidant) damage. Free radicals (also known as reactive oxygen species) can occur from exposure to smoking, chemicals, pollution, tissue trauma (injury), ozone exposure, radiation, foods, and even as a byproduct of normal body metabolism.

If free radicals cannot be processed and removed efficiently from the body, it can result in what is known as oxidative stress. This can harm cells and alter proper function.

Oxidative stress has been linked to heart disease, cancer, arthritis, stroke, respiratory diseases, immune deficiency, emphysema, Parkinson’s disease, and other inflammatory or ischemic conditions.

Antioxidants play a role by neutralizing the damage caused by oxidative stress. But how exactly does this work?

One study states, “Antioxidants act as radical scavenger, hydrogen donor, electron donor, peroxide decomposer, singlet oxygen quencher, enzyme inhibitor, synergist, and metal-chelating agents.”

In other words, antioxidants donate electrons to free radicals, which neutralizes them and stops them from causing us harm.

Antioxidant vitamins and minerals include vitamins A (and carotenoids), C, and E, as well as selenium, manganese, and phytochemicals like lutein, quercetin, and lycopene.

These antioxidants might be found in many of the foods you are already eating. The best sources of antioxidants are found in plant-based foods. They are most highly concentrated in vegetables, fruits, nuts, and whole grains.

Consuming antioxidant-rich foods are good for the overall health of you heart, as well as lower your risk for infections and even some forms of cancer!

Each antioxidant serves a specific role, so it is important to consume a varied diet to get all your antioxidants!

Foods high in antioxidants include: apples, blueberries, broccoli, spinach, lentils, and big leafy greens. The more vibrantly-colored foods tend to have higher levels of antioxidants, as a general rule.

Bottom line: free radical damage can contribute to the development of chronic diseases such as heart disease, Alzheimer’s, and loss of vision.

There is an abundance of evidence suggesting eating mostly whole foods, including large amounts of vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, and whole grains (all having some antioxidant benefits) will provide protection against many of the chronic diseases we see today.

So go grab yourself an acai bowl. Or better yet, make it yourself!

Disclaimer
Though based in research, personal, and clinical experience, the opinions in this article should not be taken as medical advice. Botanical medicine and nutraceuticals should be treated with the same caution and care as pharmaceuticals, as both have the potential for strong, potentially adverse effects and allergic reactions. Please consult a trained, licensed health care practitioner before proceeding.

Arugula Salad with Toasted Chickpeas, Roasted Sunchokes, Almonds, and Tahini Dressing

Salads can be tricky.

Many people associate eating a salad with eating healthy.  If you’re getting the right ingredients and adding a lot of color to your salads, you are probably right!

But inevitably, it gets to the point where people feel stuck because they end up eating the same salad with the same boring dressing.  This leads to giving up due to a lack of variety.

This is why I find salads a challenge.  If you are going to make an unforgettable salad you actually WANT as a meal, you need to get creative.  You have to add texture, different temperatures, and creative dressings.

I think this salad is a good example of bringing those principles together to make a delicious dish you can go back to again and again.

Serves: 2

You Need:

  • 1 5 oz. container Arugula
  • 1 small can Chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 5 oz. Sunchokes, chopped
  • 1 handful Almonds, chopped
  • 1 tbsp. Turmeric
  • Olive Oil
  • Salt, to taste
  • Black Pepper, to taste

For the Dressing:

  • 1 tbsp. Olive Oil
  • 2 tbsp. Tahini
  • ½ tbsp. Honey
  • 1 tbsp. Apple Cider Vinegar
  • Salt, to taste
  • Black Pepper, to taste
  • Water (for consistency if necessary)

DIRECTIONS                      

  1. 1. Rinse and chop the produce accordingly. Rinse the arugula and set aside in a bowl until ready to serve. Chop the almonds.
  2. 2. Preheat an oven to 450˚ Line 1 baking tray.
  3. 3. Add sunchokes to baking tray, and season with salt and pepper. Drizzle with 1 tbsp. olive oil, and toss to combine.  Once the oven is warm. Add sunchokes, and allow them to roast for 20-30 minutes, until tender enough to be pierced with a fork.

The Health Benefits of Garlic

Garlic is particularly interesting because it is used in virtually all cuisines worldwide.  In some form or fashion, it makes its way into a variety dishes, often unnoticed visually but distinct in taste.

 

Personally, I find it absolutely delicious and useful in almost any cooking situation. But as ubiquitous as garlic is, do you know about it amazing health benefits?

 

Garlic contains two substances, known as allicin and alliin.  Both of these are sulfur-containing compounds that have anti-biotic properties.

 

In addition to this, other studies have shown garlic has anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-yeast properties as well.

 

To get the most of these effects, its best to consume your garlic raw.

 

Now, I know you’re probably thinking, “raw garlic is gross, how can someone eat that?!”  Well, there’s a few ways you can do this fairly easily.

 

First off, you can add fresh garlic to dressings and marinades.  Simply chopping up a clove or two into your homemade salad dressing is an easy way to add garlic to what you are eating.

 

In a similar fashion, you can blend garlic up with other ingredients when you prepare your favorite sauces or marinades.

 

Removing the skin from garlic can sometimes be tricky.  One easy trick is to blanch the garlic in hot water for 30 seconds, then drain and let cool.  You can then slice of the end with the root, and the skin will come off.

 

If you are trying to get the covering off each individual clove, you can use the flat side of a knife and mash each clove slightly, the skin will come off easily.

 

Garlic can be chopped, mashed (to release its oils), or minced.  When you chop garlic, it releases enzymes that convert the sulfur-containing compounds to diallyl disulfide, ammonia, and pyruvic acid.

 

If you were to cook garlic, the diallyl disulfide is destroyed, giving cooked garlic a much milder taste.

 

Some studies suggest garlic can be protective against certain forms of cancer.

 

Alliin and allicin are thought to prevent the formation of carcinogens in the body or by blocking carcinogens from reaching sensitive areas of the body.

 

Another proposed mechanism is that these two substances inhibit the transformation of healthy cells into cancerous cells.

 

Garlic has also shown the ability to lower low-density lipoprotein (LDL) levels, while raising high-density lipoprotein (HDL) levels.

 

LDL particles cholesterol bring fats into your arteries to transport for storage in the body, while HDL particles ship them out.

 

One year-long study on aged garlic (or garlic that has been fermented) showed it can reduce plaque buildup in arteries and also lower levels of homocysteine, which, according to the American Heart Association, is an independent risk factor for heart disease.

 

Garlic is great-tasting and provides a plethora of health benefits for a variety of different people.  It can be especially for helpful for those with heart problems or people who have trouble losing weight.

 

Why not try it for yourself and add it to your home cooking?

 

Disclaimer

Though based in research, personal, and clinical experience, the opinions in this article should not be taken as medical advice. Botanical medicine and nutraceuticals should be treated with the same caution and care as pharmaceuticals, as both have the potential for strong, potentially adverse effects and allergic reactions. Please consult a trained, licensed health care practitioner before proceeding.

Cauliflower “Fried Rice” With Chicken, Kholrabi, Carrots, and Peas

There are always those days where you are running low on time and want to spend as little of it in the kitchen as possible.

There are also those days where you are trying to get rid of the scraps of food you have left in your fridge.

Enter: cauliflower fried rice. This is made in a very similar fashion to a traditional fried rice, with cauliflower substituting for your traditional day-old rice.

Simply dice all your veggies and follow the steps below.

Cook and Prep Time: 30 minutes

You Need:
• 2 heads Cauliflower, riced
• 1 White Onion, diced
• 2 cloves Garlic, minced
• 1 small can Peas, rinsed and drained
• 1 lb. Chicken Breasts, cut into ½ inch pieces
• 1 bunch Scallions, thinly chopped; whites and dark parts separated
• 2 Carrots, thinly chopped
• 2 Kholrabi, skin removed and chopped into ½ inch pieces
• 1 tbsp. Rice Wine Vinegar
• 2 tbsp. Tamari
• 1 tbsp. Sesame Oil
• 2 Eggs
• 1 Lime, chopped into quarters
• Salt, to taste
• Black Pepper, to taste
• Olive Oil

DIRECTIONS
1.Rinse and chop your produce accordingly. In a large bowl, add your riced cauliflower and set aside until ready for use. In a small bowl, mix tamari, rice vinegar, and sesame oil. In another bowl, add the eggs and whisk until beaten. Season the chicken with salt and pepper.

2.In a large frying pan or wok, add 1 tbsp. olive oil and set to medium-high heat. Add garlic, scallion whites, and onion, stirring occasionally to avoid burning, until onion is softened, 3-4 minutes.

3.In a separate pan, add 1 tbsp. olive oil over medium-high heat. Once warm, add chicken, and cook until no longer pink, stirring occasionally, 8-10 minutes. Remove chicken from pan and set aside until step 6.

4.Once the onions have softened, add kohlrabi and carrots to the garlic and onions. Cook until slightly softened, 4-5 minutes and season lightly with salt and pepper. Stir to combine.

5.Then, add riced cauliflower and peas to the vegetables, and stir to combine. Allow to cook for 1-2 minutes.

6.Then, make a well in the center of the pan. Add eggs, and scramble until fully cooked, 1-2 minutes. Add chicken and tamari mixture to pan, stirring to coat complete, 1 additional minute.

7.Distribute “fried rice” evenly among plates. Garnish each plate with lime wedge and scallion greens. Enjoy!

Pumpkin and Its Health Benefits (and How to Make It)

It’s Fall now, which means it is pumpkin season.

Everything from pumpkin-spiced lattes, to pumpkin-flavored beer, to pumpkin pie, it is impossible to walk around and not see something related to pumpkins.

This is the time of year you can walk down the streets and see pumpkins as decorations, hollowed out with candles to create that spooky Halloween theme.

And while the decorations and the pumpkin flavors look cool and taste great, did you know you can cook with pumpkin and make delicious dishes for yourself?

Yes, outside of desserts and pastries, these can be used for meals as well. Pumpkins (and their seeds) are great sources of some much needed nutrients.

Pumpkins are very high in dietary fiber (most notably pectin), which is great for your gut microbiome health. Given its orange-yellow hue, you may have (correctly) guessed pumpkin flesh is incredibly high in vitamin A and beta-carotene.

Vitamin A has been associated with lower risks of lung, larynx, and esophageal cancer. It also contains a good amount of vitamin C.

Pumpkin seeds are also a great source of dietary fiber (in the forms of insoluble cellulose and lignin). The seeds are also high in unsaturated fatty acids and the fat-soluble vitamin E.

The seeds contain most of the essential amino acids, but are low in lysine. The seeds are also a good source of non-heme iron (the type of iron found in plants) and folate.

If you are looking to get the most nutrients out of your pumpkin, it is best to bake it in the oven.

You can boil pumpkins too, but since they absorb so much water, it contains less nutrients than a baked pumpkin ounce for ounce.

As for the seeds, they may be best served with beans, as the two together form a complete protein.

Preparing and cooking pumpkin may be new to you, so let’s go over the basics here.
You first want to wash your pumpkin under cool, running water. Then, you can cut it into halves, quarters, or whatever size pieces you prefer.

Remove the stringy portions and set the seeds aside. You can leave the rind on for baking, but peel it if you decide to boil the pumpkin.

At this point, you can simply bake the pumpkin similar you would a squash. As you bake the pumpkin, you may notice it might shrink a little.

Don’t be alarmed, it is just moisture evaporating as it cooks. As it bakes, it may begin to brown, as the sugars will begin to caramelize.

If you choose to boil the pumpkin, on the other hand, the exact opposite will happen: it will begin to enlarge as it soaks up some water.

Pumpkin can be substituted in many recipes that call for squash or even sweet potatoes, so be creative!

As for the seeds, you can either eat them raw or toast them. I prefer to toast the yourself, as commercially produced toasted pumpkin seeds can be incredibly high in sodium.

If you opt to toast them at home, it can be done by spreading your seeds out along a baking sheet and place in an oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit until golden. Simple enough!

I hope you found this helpful! I hope this inspired you to be creative with your pumpkin and incorporate it into your meals (other than in pies)!

Disclaimer

Though based in research, personal, and clinical experience, the opinions in this article should not be taken as medical advice. Botanical medicine and nutraceuticals should be treated with the same caution and care as pharmaceuticals, as both have the potential for strong, potentially adverse effects and allergic reactions. Please consult a trained, licensed health care practitioner before proceeding.

5 Simple Steps to Feeling Better

5 Simple Steps to Feeling Better

1. EAT IN COLOR
Obviously, good nutrition is vital to good health, so why not start with food? It is good rule of thumb to get at least 5-7 servings of fruits and vegetables a day. More importantly, it is vital to eat produce of different colors. Different colors represent different phytonutrients important to your health. The more colors you incorporate into your diet, the better chance you have of incorporating all the necessary vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients required for a properly functioning body. Additionally, these contain antioxidants which can protect us from free radical damage at the cellular level.

2. GET ENOUGH SLEEP
Many people do not get enough sleep. Some studies have shown that if you sleep less than 6 hours a night, you may not live as long as others that do. As a general rule, it is important to go through at least five sleep cycles per night, which takes roughly 7 ½ hours. This is crucial to help repair your body and mind to take on the next day. Getting enough sleep decreases the risk of diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, and anxiety.

3. CREATE THE PROPER SLEEPING ENVIRONMENT
Since sleep is incredibly important to your health, it is important to establish a healthy sleeping environment. In an age where a cell phone is a basic necessity, we are glued to electronics more than we ever were before. Studies have shown that being on these late at night have caused issues with sleep due to excessive blue light exposure. Exposure to blue light late at night can raise cortisol levels, keeping us awake and leading to poorer sleep. It is best to put red filters on your phone and computer once the sun goes down to create better environments to sleep. If possible, it may be helpful to get off your phone and laptop 1-2 hours before going to sleep.

4. REGULAR EXERCISE
There’s a kind of irony that comes along with being busy and creating time to exercise. Often times, when the schedules get crammed and extra time is scarce, exercise is one of the things to be taken out of our schedules, if not the first. The irony here is that when we exercise, we tend to be much more efficient, and therefore less busy in the long run. A consistent exercise regimen is a crucial part to good health. Getting up and being active has many advantages, and as long as you start, they are yours for the taking. Physical activity increases your energy levels, puts you in a happier frame of mind, increases focus, gives you a more positive attitude, and makes you stronger. Exercise has been known to boost memory and thinking skills.

5. CUT OUT SIMPLE SUGARS
Studies have shown lowering your simple sugar intake while eating the same number of calories can lower circulating triglycerides, LDL (bad) cholesterol, hypertension and high blood glucose, all of which are risk factors for metabolic disorders such as heart disease. These sugars cause spikes in blood sugar, which can lead to insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome, which are precursors to full blown Type II Diabetes Mellitus.

Disclaimer
Though based in research, personal, and clinical experience, the opinions in this article should not be taken as medical advice. Botanical medicine and nutraceuticals should be treated with the same caution and care as pharmaceuticals, as both have the potential for strong, potentially adverse effects and allergic reactions. Please consult a trained, licensed health care practitioner before proceeding.

5 Foods That Keep You From Losing Weight

1. “LITE” FOODS
Have you ever had a craving for a food? Even those blueberry muffins, cookies, or tortilla chips? Chances are, you’re not even eating the real thing. These chemically- engineered products contain harmful preservatives (some of which are carcinogenic) in order to earn the “lite” or “reduced fat” moniker. If you’re counting calories (which is another topic for another day), you should know these “lite” products still contain about 80% of the calories of the original. When you go shopping, read the ingredient labels. If you’re going to have a craving, make sure you are eating the real thing, with not additives, preservatives, and chemicals (just do it sparingly). Better yet, ditch these snack altogether for healthier, whole-foods options like nuts, seeds, dried fruits, and trail mixes.

2. PREMADE BAKED BEANS
I know what you’re thinking hear, “I thought beans are good for you!” And you would be right, they are. They are a great source of protein, fiber, and complex carbohydrates. What makes these baked beans so bad for you is because they are packed with sugar. One cup of these beans can contain up 26g of sugar. To put that in perspective, that’s as much sugar as a 7 oz. can of Coca-Cola! Preparing these beans poorly by adding a ton of sugar ruins the nutritional benefits eating the beans altogether.

3. DELI MEATS
These should be avoided- no if, ands, or buts. Think about it, when you go to the deli and look through the glass counter, do you think an actual chicken or turkey breast is perfectly round and that large, without any bones in it? If you are trying to add more protein to your diet or feed your children for school, find other options. These are loaded with chemicals, fillers, additives, and high sodium levels, just to name a few. These products are processed along with some meat and formed into those perfect balls and sliced just to appear as appetizing as they do. The easiest switch hear is to switch out those deli meats for the real option. Use real turkey breast or chicken breast when making sandwiches. If you don’t have time to make it, you can simply order cooked meats from the catering section of the supermarket and freeze it, using the meat as you need it.

4. FRUIT JUICES AND SODAS
When you drink fruit juices and sodas, you’re basically sending your insulin and blood sugar levels on a wild roller coaster ride that crashes at the end. Aside from the high sugars (some of which is added depending on the source) you are basically drinking calories, which can keep you from reaching your weight loss goals. Drinking calories, whether from fruit juice or soda, becomes so habitual, it almost becomes habit. Try substituting your fruit juice drinks (and soda) for actual pieces of fruit. This will help because it provides additional fiber that keeps a gut healthy and function properly, and also makes you more aware of what you are putting into your body.

5. FRENCH FRIES AND POTATO CHIPS
Whole potatoes (especially sweet potatoes) are both filling and healthy, but the chips and fries? Not so much. They are extremely high in calories and way too easy to eat a lot of them. Not only that, they are generally fried in vegetable oils that are reused and may be rancid, which leads to potential free-radical damage down the road. Both French fries and chips have been linked to weight gain. One observational study suggested potato chips may contribute to more weight gain per serving than any other food. Do yourself the favor and pass on these when given the chance.