Sweet, Sweet Sunday

10 Ways to Improve Refrigerator Raids These Holidays

Having a bigger fridge will be the perfect answer to your food storage needs. Like everything else, a bigger space simply gives you a bigger area to make a bigger mess, right?

Instead of a bigger fridge, you need a smarter fridge…or at least a smarter fridge organization system.

Having a “smarter” fridge means having a clean, tidy, and organized fridge.

But before we move on to ideas to help you organize your fridge, let’s look at why we need to even store food in a refrigerator in the first place?

Four basic factors affect the nutritional value of your food once you bring it home from the grocery store. These are…

  • Exposure to air
  • Exposure to heat
  • Exposure to light
  • Length of time in storage

Refrigerating foods can help slow down this process.

But what good is refrigerating your food if you can’t find a darn thing whenever you open it?

And now is possibly the best time of the year to clean and organize your fridge— before the upcoming holiday season baking and partying season begins to make your kitchen way more messier than normal, and also blows your grocery budget.

Here are some really great ideas…

1.  Binder Clips,,,The first tool that will come in handy as you are starting to organize your fridge is a binder clip. Not only are binder clips great in the kitchen for closing that opened bag of Fritos, but can also be used to keep round bottles on their sides in your fridge so that they don’t roll around in your fridge and to hang opened bags in your fridge or freezer so the contents don’t spill out all over the place.

2. Bottle Loft…($ 38.00 from Uncommon Goods)…Each set of two 8″x1.5″ heavy duty magnetic strips with peel-and-stick adhesive holds six beverage bottles suspended from the ceiling of your fridge, keeping them handy and freeing up space for other food. These stris are especially good for the ourside “beer” fridge that you hoe that all of our Southern Baptist friends never know even exists. Not only do these strips save much needed space, they also keep bottles from tipping over in the fridge.

3. Door-Sized Drink Dispensers… I am a total fanatic when it comes to almost anything sold by The Container Store, and these pitchers are no exception. These two refrigerator pitchers are made from heavy-weight glass with a locking plastic lid that seals tightly and a grip handles. The smallest of these two pitchers measures 9x4x3 and will hold about four fus. This pitcher costs $9.99.

eggs

4.  Egg Storage Box…Egg Storage Boxes, such as this Girl12Queen Refrigerator Egg Storage Box av.available at Walmart, can store up to rwo dozen eggs inside a compact and durable container that you can safely tuck beneath other goods.

5. Lazy Susan…Lazy Susans, such as these allow you to reach food in the back of your fridge without having to move two dozen condiment bottles to find the one that you’re actually looking for.

magazine

6. Magazine Holders…Plastic magazine holders, such as these clear  8″L x 11-7/8″H x 4″D STORi Clear Plastic Magazine Holders, can be stacked on their sides to maximize vertical storage in your fridge.

7.  Snack Bins…Snack bins, such as this mini 3-drawer organizer, allow your kids to grab their own snacks out of the fridge without having to rummage sort through the entire fridge.

pods

8. Spices and Herbs…To help keep fresh spices and herbs fresh and also prevent them from ending up crushed and rotten at the bottom of a your “food rotter,” try these Prepara Herb Savor Pod 2.0.

9. Storage Bins and Boxes…Storage bins and boxes are a given when it comes to organizing your fridge. These bins and boxes come in handy for everything from making snacks accessible to making sure that opened wedges of cheeses or packages of deli meat don’t simply find their way to the pits of your fridge and make your fridge end up stinking until you can clear everything out of the fridge in order to find out what is making your fridge smell so bad.

Two great sources for storage bins and boxes are Fridge Binz from InterDesign and storage bins from mDesign.

mdesign

10. Vegetable and Fruit Bags…Taking reusable mesh bags, such as these Purifyou Premium Reusable Mesh/Produce Bags, with you to the store when shopping for produce makes so much more sense than using standard plastic produce bags typically found at grocery stores will not only keep your fruits and vegetables fresher, but are also “politically correct.”

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Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Bok Choy—The Which?

So now that we have learned more about what bok choy actually is and why bok choy can be an important food for us, how do we know that we are choosing the best bok choy that we could possibly buy?First of all, bok choy should be found in the refrigerated section of the produce aisle because warm temperatures cause the leaves to wilt and negatively affect its flavor.

In fact, bok choy is one of the few vegetables that, even though available throughout the year, reaches its peak availability from the middle of winter through the beginning of spring.

Seems kind of obvious that we never want to purchase any type of produce that has wilted leaves, but what else should we look for when buying bok choy?

Leaves…The leaves of bok choy should be firm and brightly colored. Check the bok choy for any signs of browning, yellowing, and small holes.

Stems…The stems of bok choy should be moist and hardy.

Organic…Buying produce that is certified organic can greatly reduce the likelihood of exposure to contaminants such as pesticides and heavy metals. To make sure that you are buying organic produce, always look for the USDA organic logo.

Bok choy can stay fresh in the refrigerator for about one week if stored properly. Store bok choy in a plastic storage bag in the crisper section of your refrigerator.

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Bok Choy…The Why?!

 

1. The Serving Size…The first thing to consider when starting to weed out your pantry or fridge in the game called “What Not to Eat” is the “Serving Size.”

Serving Size cannot be ignored…sad, but true…

Knowing all of the nutritional value in the Serving Size given on the actual package does not do a bit of good if you’re not actually eating the size that they supposedly tell you that you’re supposed to be eating. If you eat the whole entire box of Cap’N Crunch cereal, you have obviously eaten way more calories than the number of calories that they had expected you to have eaten. And not only have you eaten way more calories, you have also jacked up all those other supposedly important nutrient numbers also…

The nutritional value of bok choy here is based on a serving size of 1/2C.

 

 

2. Calories...Calories provide a measure of how much energy you get from a serving of this food. Needless to say, far too many Americans consume way more calories than they could ever actually need. Yet they hardly ever even come close to meeting the “official” recommended intakes for the many different nutrients that our bodies need.

As a general reference for looking at calorie content when looking at a Nutrition Facts label, remember that…Any food item containing somewhere around forty calories is considered to be a low-calorie food item…Any food item containing somewhere around a hundred calories is considered to be “average” or moderate…Any food item containing four hundred calories or more is considered a high-calorie food item.

One-half cup of bok choy contains 13 calories.

 

3. “Limit These” Nutrients...The next section of the nutrition label details the specific nutrients contained in the food item.

The actual specific nutrients listed first are those nutrients that all of us generally eat in adequate amounts. These are shown as a percentage, showing what percentage of the amount of the recommended nutrients that food item contributes to your daily diet.
The nutrients included in this section are carbohydrates, fat, protein, cholesterol, sodium, and sugar.

  • a,  Carbohydrates…One-half cup serving of bok choy contains two grams of carbohydrates.
  • b. Fats…No daily recommendation has been formally established by the FDA at this point, so your main goal is to limit “bad” fats and get enough “good” fats…Bok choy contains absolutely zero fat.
  • c. Protein…Unless a food item makes a claim regarding its protein content—such as being “high in protein” or is marketed specifically for infants and children under four years old, this nutrient is often now shown. This is not a big deal because studies show that most of us actually do get enough protein in our diets already.
  • d. Sugar…No set-in-stone daily value has actually been established for sugar either, but obviously it’s important to limit the amount of sugar you consume each day.
    The amount of sugar shown will include both any naturally-occurring sugar and those sugars actually added to a food or drink. Check the ingredient list for specifics on added sugars…

 

 

4. “Get Enough of These” Nutrients…The nutrients listed next are those nutrients that hardly any of us generally eat in adequate amounts. These nutrients include fiber, vitamins,

a. Fiber…Fiber helps keep the digestive system running smoothly—bulking up stools, ensuring the smooth passage of food through the intestinal tract, stimulating gastric and digestive juices so nutrients are absorbed in the most efficient and rapid way, promoting healthy bowel function, and reducing the symptoms from conditions like constipation and diarrhea.

The recommended daily amount of fiber that each of us should be eating each day is 25 grams.

Bok choy provides one gram, or 4%DV of dietary fiber.

 

 

b.  Vitamins…Bok choy contains about half of your daily requirement for saeveral different nutrients—including vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, and vitamin B6.

  • Vitamin A…89%…essential for a properly functioning immune system.
  • Vitamin B1…(Thiamine)…3%
  • Vitamin B2)…Riboflavin…6%
  • Vitamin B3…Niacinn…3%
  • Vitamin B5…Pantothenic acid…2%
  • Vitamin B6…15%
  • Vitamin B9…Folate —prevents certain birth defects like spinal bifida and neural tube defects….may also help prevent strokes….17%
  • Vitamin C…75%…vitamin C is an antioxidant that shields the body from free radicals.
  • Vitamin K…..44%…Vitamin K helps with blood clotting and maintaining strong bones and teeth.

 

 

c.  Minerals…

  • Calcium…11%…The recommended daily value for calcium is 1,000mg.
  • Copper…Copper helps strengthen your bone density and your blood vessels, helps keep your nerves healthy, and boosts your immune system.
  • Iron..6%…A diet low in iron can make you feel tired and have little or no energy. The RDA for iron is…13.7–15.1 mg/day in children aged 2–11 years…16.3 mg/day in children and teens aged 12–19 years…19.3–20.5 mg/day in men…17.0–18.9 mg/day in women older than 19
  • Magnesium…5%
  • Manganese…8%
  • Potassium…5%…essential for healthy muscle and nerve function, strengthening your bone density, helping relax your blood vessels and arteries and reducing your risk of circulatory problems—such as blood clotting, heart attacks, hypertension, high blood pressure, strokes.
  • Sodium…4%
Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Bok Choy…The What?!

Another leafy green vegetable that type 2 diabetics should consider adding to their diets is bok choy.

Bok choy has been cultivated in China for more than five thousand years and has played a large part not only in its cuisine, but also in traditional Chinese medicine.

Bok choy is a common ingredient in the foods cooked in the Philippines and Vietnam, even though most other countries rarely even use it as an ingredient, if at all.

Bok choy—sometimes referred to as white cabbage, mustard cabbage, celery cabbage, Chinese white cabbage, Chinese mustard, and white celery mustard—-is in fact a member of the cabbage family. In fact, the name “bok choy” is derived from the Cantonese words “bai cai,” which means “white cabbage.”

However, bok choy doesn’t look like a typical cabbage at all. Bok choy more closely resembles celery.

Nor does bok choy look like any other cruciferous vegetables—such as cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts—which form “heads” in their more mature plant stages.

Instead bok choy has smooth, dark green leaf blades that form a cluster similar to mustard greens or celery—resembling Romaine lettuce on top and a large celery on the bottom.

Even though we usually only envision the typical variety of bok choy found in local grocery stores, there are over twenty varieties of bok choy available.

A few of these varieties are…

  • Baby bok choy…a miniaturized version of bok choy that can often be found in Asian and Chinese supermarkets
  • Chinensis bok choy…do not form heads and have smooth, dark green leaf blades, much like mustard greens or celery
  • Choy sum…also known as “Chinese flowering cabbage,” has light green leaves and tiny yellow flowers, typically sold as trimmed leaves and stalks of choy sum instead of the whole plant, more expensive variety of bok choy
  • Mibuna Early, Canton, and Ching Chang—bok choy varieties that feature green spoon-shaped leaves and slightly flattened white stalks
  • Purple Hybrid—variety of bok choy with purple leaves
  • Shanghai Green and Green Boy—variety of bok choy that have stalks that are various shades of green

This leafy vegetable has a light, sweet flavor and a crispy, crunchy texture.

Bok choy is slowly becoming more and more popular here in American cuisine.

Bok choy can be used in many different ways—such as salads, soups and stir-fries.

So keep reading to learn what the nutritional benefits of bok choy are and for recipes to help you enjoy adding bok choy to your grocery list.

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Better Buy Some Beet Greens

The second type of leafy green that you might consider adding to your diet if you are changing your lifestyle to a Raw Foods Diet or have recently been diagnosed as having type 2 diabetes…such as my husband has, which is why I even know that you can eat beet green right now…

Beets, and obviously beet greens which are attached to the beets, have been grown in the Mediterranean region as far back as 2,000 BC, Eventually beet cultivation spread to Babylonia in the 8th century, then to China around 850 A.D.

Today beets and beet greens are used in many different cuisines worldwide,  including Northern Africa and Asian menus.

There are basically three different categories of beets…

1.  Table Beets,,,These are grown for people to actually eat at the table,..(go figure)

2. Sugar Beets…These are grown in order to make beet sugar.

3. Fodder Beets…These are grow for specifically to feed animals.

Sugar beets are the beets that are most readily available.

About 30 million tons of sugar beets are grown and harvested in the U.S. each year.

Over 12,500,000 acres of sugar beets are planted on a global basis each year…1,250,000 of these acres planted here in the United States.

Minnesota, North Dakota, and Idaho are the states that produce the most beets in general.

On a global scale, the Russian Federation, France, United States, and Germany are among the leading sugar beet producers.

Even though people can actually eat both table beets and sugar beets, sugar beets have probably been genetically engineered.

Yet table beets are much harder to find. In fact, only 700 acres are planted in the United States each year.

The leaves of all varieties of table beets are green…and are also edible.

But the veins of the leaves do depend on the color of the beet root. For example, beet greens from yellow beets will have bright yellow veins, whereas beet greens from red beets will have rich red veins, and beet greens from white beets will have distinct white veins.

As far as taste, texture, and appearance, beet greens are very similar to Swiss chard, another member of  the same plant family.

Okay, so now that we know what beet greens are…why should we consider adding them to our diets…and how do you cook them?

That’s the next step in this journey…so keep reading…

Okay this may seem a little boring and who-cares-ish for most people who have just been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, but my main goal here is to be able to print the nutritional charts of all leafy greens so that whenever I am trying to decide which one I should be using in a specific recipe or for a specific health need, I’ll already have the information at my fingertips.

I have decided that I also want to tty a “blog a book” using the raw foods diet from the viewpoint of a newly diagnosed type 2 diabetic trying to rethink all of her family’s Deep Southern style of cooking that she has been mastering for the last thirty-something years from “Mom and ‘Em”…

Anyway, here’s the back of the package for easy reading as you eat your beet greens every morning instead of Froot Loops…

1.  General Information

  • Calories…38.88
  • Calories from Fat…1
  • Total Fat…0 g…0%
    Saturated Fat…0 g…0%
  • Cholesterol…0 mg…0%
  • Fiber…4 g,,,…17%
  • Protein…2 g

2.  Vitamin Content

  • Vitamin A…551.09 mcg,,,61
  • Vitamin B1…0.17 mg…14…6.6
  • Vitamin B2…0.42 mg…32…15.0
  • vitamin B3,,,0.72 mg…5…2.1
  • vitamin B6…0.19 mg…11…5.2
  • Vitamin B12…0.00 mcg
  • vitamin C…35.86 mg…48…22.1
  • Vitamin E,….2.61 mg (ATE)…17…8.4
  • vitamin K…696.96 mcg…774

3. Mineral Content

  • Calcium……164.16 mg…16.7.6
  • Copper….36 mg…40…18
  • Folate…20.16 mcg…5…2.3
  • iron…2.74 mg…15…7.0
  • Manganese,,,0.74 mg…32…14.9
  • Magnesium…97.92 mg…23…10.8
  • Phosphorus…59.04 mg…8,,,3.9
  • Potassium…1308.96 mg…28…f2.9
  • Sodium…347.04 mg…23

There are so many reasons for each of us to start adding more and more “leafy greens,” especially DGLV, to out diets that we should consider eating a serving of leafy greens to be way more important than simply eating an apple ever couldc be.

Let’s look back over a few health reasons for adding leafy greens to our diet… 

  1. Prevents eye disorders such as muscular degeneration and cataracts
  2. Helps strengthen the immune system
  3. Stimulates production of antibodies and white blood cells
  4. Is a known antioxidant that can fight the effects of free radicals in the body along with cancer and heart disease.
  5. Lowers your risk of developing night blindness….
  6. Contains blood clotting properties,
  7. Prevents osteoporosis
  8. Boosts bone strength
  9. May also prevent Alzheimer’s disease
  10. Could possible lower risk of getting certain chronic diseases—including type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, and stroke.

So how do you know which beets, and obviously the greens that are attached to these beets, to buy?

1. The Beet Root…Things to look for…

  • Defects…Make sure that your beet roots are not cracked, soft, bruised, shriveled, or look very dry.
  • Organic…Buying product that is certified organically grown will decrease your likelihood of being exposued to contaminants such as pesticides and heavy metals. Look for produce that shows the USDA organic logo.
  • Scales…Beets with round, scaly areas around the top surface will be tough, fibrous, and strongly flavored.
  • Smaller beet roots…Choose smaller beet roots that are not more than 2-1/2″ in diameter. Anything larger than that will probably be tough and have a woody core.
  • Texture…The actual beets should appear crisp, not wilted or slimy.

2, The Beet Greens…The beet greens should appear fresh, tender, and have a lively green color.

What do you do with the beets/beet greens when you do get them home?

  • Cut  most of the green parts from the actual beets.
  • Place the unwashed greens in a plastic bag, searate from the actual beets.
  • Squeeze as much of the air out of the bag as possible before closing and placing in the refrigerator.
  • Your beet greens should stay fresh for about four days.

Why do certain foods need to be refrigerated?

Refrigerating produce will maintain the nutritional value of nutrients that are highly susceptible to heat—such as Vitamin C, vitamin B6, and carotenoids—from being depleted by the following four factors…

  1. Exposure to air
  2. Exposure to heat
  3. Exposure to light
  4. Length of time in storage

There are several ways that beet greens can be prepared, but right now let’s take a look at the following four…

  1. Salad
  2. Saute
  3. Soups and Stews
  4. Lasagna and Pasta Dishes

Salad…Enjoy beet greens by themselves as a salad or with other leafy vegetables.

Beet Green, Almond, and Cranberry Salad

1 tablespoon butter
3/4 cup almonds, blanched and slivered
1 pound spinach, rinsed and torn into bite-size pieces
2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
1 tablespoon poppy seeds
1/2 cup white sugar
2 teaspoons minced onion
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup dried cranberries

  1. Toast the almonds…Melt butter over medium heat in a medium saucepan.  Toast almonds lightly in butter,
  2. Make the dressing…Whisk together all remaining ingredients.
  3. Assemble the salad…Combine the toasted almonds, salad dressing, and beet greens, and cranberries just before serving.

Saute…Another option would be to sauté the beet greens  with onions—and assuming that you are not from the Deep South and absolutely refuse to give up the almighty bacon—bacon…

Beet Green, Onion, and Bacon Saute

  • 1 pound beet greens
  • 1 strip of thick cut bacon
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 1 large minced garlic clove
  • 3/4 cup of water
  • 1 Tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • .3 Tbsp of cider vinegar

1.Prepare the beet greens…Rinse the leaves under cold running water. Do not soak the leaves in the water as water-soluble nutrients will leach into the water. Cutt leaves off at the stem where the leafy portion end. Cut into ½” slices. Set aside.

2.  Cook the “other stuff”…Sauté the bacon, onions, and garlic in a large skillet over medium heat 5 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add water to the hot pan, stirring to loosen any particles from bottom of pan. Stir in sugar, vinegar, and red pepper flakes. Bring mixture to a boil.

3. Add the beet greens…Add the beet greens gently into the onion mixture. Cover. Simmer ten minutes, or until the greens are tender.

A third option in using your beet greens is to make a soup or stew such as this one…

Beet Green and Vegetable Soup

  • 2Tbsp butter
    1 bunch spring onions, chopped
    1 leek, sliced
    2 small sticks celery, sliced
    1 small potato, peeled and diced
    ½ tsp pepper
  • 1lC chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1-1/2C beet greens
  • 1-1/4C sour cream

1.Cook the vegetables…Cook the spring onions, leek, celery and potato in butter. Cover with lid, Wait ten minutes, stirring a couple of times.

2,  Add the stock…Pour in the stock. Cook 15 minutes.

3,  Add the spinach…Add the spinach. Cook for a couple of minutes until wilted.

4,  Blend together…Use a hand blender to make a smooth soup. Stir in the sour cream. Reheat. Serve.

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Arguments in Favor of Arugula

The first “leafy green” that we will consider adding to our grocery list as newly-nutritional-conscientious type 2 diabetics is…

ARUGULA

Arugula has been used since the first century by the ancient Romans and Egyptians  for many different purposes. Not only did ancient civilizations eat the leaves, but they also thought arugula to be an awesome aphrodisiac and used the seeds of the arugula plant to make aphrodisiac and medicinal oils and compounds.

The leaves on this “leafy green” look like oakleaves and are typically 3″ to 8″ long dark green leaves, depending on the maturity of the leaf.

The smaller, paler leaves typically have a mild flavor that is good for fresh dishes like salad and pesto…while the older, darker leaves have more zing, making them better for making soup and topping off your pizza/

 

Okay, so now that we know what “arugula” is, and the fact that it was once considered an “aphrodisiac,”…why should the over-fifty crowd be adding more aphrodisiacal argula to our diets?

Given the fact that all “Leafy Greens” are a good source of vitamins, folate, calcium, magnesium, carotenoids, minerals—such as potassium, manganese, iron, and calcium—, antioxidants, and phytochemicals…all the A’s, B’s, and C’s of general nutrition that so many of us are not even aware that we need and why we need them…why choose arugula?

 

Arugula and the “Food Label”…Let’s first look at the nutritional value of 1/2C arugula…
Calories…25
Calories from Fat…6
Total Fat…1 g…1%
Cholesterol…0 mg…0%
Sodium…27 mg…1%
Total Carbohydrates…4 g…1%
Dietary Fiber…1.6 g…6%
Sugar…2.1 g
Protein…2.6 g
Vitamin A…47%
Vitamin C…25%
Calcium…16%
Iron…8%
Agugula and the ANDI…0One of the terms that I have learned at this phase of my journey is “nutritarian.”

A “nutritarian” is a person who chooses what he or she eats based on what foods have the highest ratio of micronutrients per calorie….a person who adopts a longevity-promoting, nutrient dense, plant-rich eating style.

This term was coined by Dr. Fuhrman. Furhman is a board-certified family physician, six-time New York Times bestselling author, and internationally recognized expert on nutrition and natural healing, Fuhrman specializes in preventing and reversing disease through nutritional methods.

Fuhrman created a scale known as the Aggregate Nutrient Density Index that shows the nutritional density of many common foods based on 34 important nutrients, including…

  • fiber
    calcium
    iron
    magnesium
    phosphorus
    potassium
    zinc
    copper
    manganese
    selenium
    vitamin A
    beta carotene
    alpha carotene
    lycopene
    lutein
    zeaxanthin
    vitamin E
    vitamin C
    thiamin
    riboflavin
    niacin
    pantothenic acid
    vitamin B6
    folate
    vitamin B12
    choline
    vitamin K
    phytosterols
    glucosinolates
    angiogenesis inhibitors
    organosulfides
    aromatase inhibitors
    resistant starch
    resveratrol
    ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity), a measurement of the antioxidant capacity of that particular food.

Nutritarians can use the ANDI Scores to compare foods and see which foods are the most health-promoting and nutrient dense.

The foods included in this index are given a score of 1-1000, with 1 being the lowest and 1000 being the highest.

Leafy green vegetables in general score the highest on this index.

Arugula has an ANDI score of 604.

Arugula and Potassium...Two cups of arugula contain about 150mg of potassium, roughly 3% percent of the 4,700 mg of the potassium recommended for healthy adults. Although arugula isn’t a top source of potassium, it does boost your intake of the nutrient.

Arugula and Calcium…Two cups of arugula contain 6%DV of calcium.

Arugula and Flavonoids…The “flavonoids” in arugula have been shown to have anti-cancer — as well as anti-inflammatory and anti-diabetic properties.

Arugula and Folate...Two cups of arugula contain 10%DV of folate, the natural form of folic acid. Folate is important during pregnancy because it helps prevent birth defects and also important for lowering your risk of heart disease.

Arugula and Vitamin K...Not getting enough vitamin K in your diet increases your risk of fracturing a bone because vitamin K keeps your bones healthy by improving calcium absorption and reducing urinary excretion of calcium.

Arugula and Antioxidants…Arugula contain certain antioxidants, more specifically alpha-lipoic acid. This acid has been shown to lower glucose levels, increase insulin sensitivity, and prevent oxidative stress-induced changes in patients with diabetes.

Arugula and Calcium...Arugula is a surprisingly good source of calcium—it has more of this bone-builder than the other greens on this list.

Arugula and Nitrates…The nitrates found in arugula are believed to enhance exercise tolerance during long-term endurance exercise. These nitrates also can be beneficial to people with cardiovascular, respiratory, or metabolic diseases who find the activities of daily life are physically difficult because of lack of oxygen.

Arugula and Vitamin A…Two cups of arugula contains 19%DVof vitamin A. This is important for helping you have good vision, particularly at night or in low light environments.

Arugula and Magnesium...Two cups of arugula contain 5%DV of magnesium.

Arugula and Copper....The copper found in arugula increases your immunity to disease because it createa white blood cells.

Arugula and Vitamin C….Vitamin C is one of the best defenses for your body to seek out dangerous, inflammatory free radicals and eliminate them from your body before they can cause real damage, helps prevent cancer, and maintain good health.

Arugula and Phytochemicals...Arugula contains large quantities of phytochemicalssuch as thiocyanates, sulforaphane, or indoles —that inhibit the activity of cancer-causing cells and lowers your risk of getting certain types of cancer—such as prostate, breast, cervical, colon, and ovarian cancers.

Arugula and Folates…Arugula is rich in folic acid, a fact that is important to pregnant women who want to decrease the risk of their babies being born with certain mental defects.

Arugula and Vitamin B…Arugula contains all eight of the B-Complex vitamins. These viramins are important participantes in cell function—including energy production, fat synthesis, and the production of red blood cells.

Arugula and Carotenoids…,Arugula is a well-known source of carotenoids, naturally occurring pigments that improve your ability to see properly and slows down the process of macular degeneration.

Health Benefits…Finally let’s read through a list of the health benefits of earing arugula. Adding arugula to your diet is an important step in…

  • keeping the mind clear and focused
    preventing cancer
    controlling blood pressure
    reducing the amount of oxygen needed during exercise
    enhancing athletic performance
    helping reduce blood pressure
    improving blood flow to your muscles so that they can work more efficiently, especially when exercising
    helping you achieve or maintain a healthy body weight
    keeping your eyes healthy
    helping prevent age-related macular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness among older adults
    normalizing and controlling blood pressure levels
    lowering your risk of having a heart attack or stroke
    helping reduce the risk of colorectal and lung cancers
    slowing the progression of cancer.
    decreasomg the risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and overall mortality while promoting a healthy complexion, increased energy, and overall lower weight.
    improving your immune system
    decreasing your odds of getting simple illnesses such as the common cold

 

Okay, I’ve just added arugula to my grocery list, but what should I do with it once I get it home…

 

First of all, how do I know which bundle of arugula to stick into my grocery cart?!

Choose arugula that is fresh and crisp, particularly at the stem. Look for plants that have dark green leaves, not yellow. Refrain from buying arugula with leaves that are wilted, have dark or slimy spots, or yellow or brown edges.

 

Next, how do I store it, and how long will it stay fresh in my food rotter?

Arugula leaves will spoil quickly, so some care must be taken to help keep them as fresh as possible for as long as possible.

Wrap the roots of the arugula in a damp paper towel, then store in a plastic bag in the refrigerator.

Another option would be to place the arugula upright in a glass of water, as you would a bouquet of flowers, and then cover the leaves with a plastic bag before storing in the refrigerator.

Another point to remember is to not store arugula beside pears, apples or bananas, as this will cause its leaves to decay faster.

Plan on using within a couple of days after buying them.

 

So what should I make with my arugula?

One thing to remember when deciding how to use the arugula that you have purchased, is that older and larger leaves have a more intense peppery flavor than the younger and smaller leaves.

 

The tenderness and milder taste of the younger leaves make them a great choice for salads such as this one…

Arugula, Avocado, and Olive Salad

  • 3 bunches arugula
  • 1 sliced avocado
  • 1C sliced kalamata olives
  • 1/2C pine nuts

Dressing

  • 1/2C olive oil
  • 2 minced cloves garlic
  • 1tsp red pepper flakes
  • 2Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 2Tbsp white wine vinegar

Roast the pine nuts in a shallow pan at 325 degrees F until brown. Combine the arugula, avocado, and olives. Whisk the dressing together. Pour the dressing over the salad. Top with pine nuts.

 

 

The larger, older leaves are better for steaming or using in sauces.

Arugula tends to sauté faster than kale and collard greens, and adds more flavor to a dish than spinach or Swiss chard. Often arugula is used along with milder greens such as watercress and romaine.

 

For example, try making your own version of the following pasta dish…

Sauté arugula in a small amount of extra-virgin olive oil. Season with freshly ground black pepper and freshly grated Parmesan cheese. Cook and drain pasta. Combine arugula, pasta, and whatever else you choose, such as grilled chicken.

 

Pesto…great served with pasta, burgers, sandwiches, or roasted and grilled meat

Blend arugula with the following ingredients…

  • 1/2C basil
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1/4C walnuts
  • 1/2C grated Parmesan or Parmigiano Reggiano
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup olive oil

 

A few more final ideas on how to use arugula…

  • Add a handful of fresh arugula to an omelet or scramble
  • Add arugula to your wrap, sandwich, or flatbread
  • Throw a handful of arugula and blend into a fresh juice or smoothie
  • Top your pizza with fresh arugula…this is very popular in the Mediterranean region.
Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Leaves of Grass—and Bok Choy and Butterhead and Romaine

Growing up in the Deep South, I never thought that I would actually enjoy eating, much less, cooking…things like turnip greens or collard greens.

 

But now I actually enjoy eating them…(especially when they’re served with lots and lots of bacon, but more on that later)…

 

In fact, the U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends that adults consume at least three cups of dark green vegetables each week.

Thankfully, there are several varieties of leafy greens out there…

I find the idea of eating three cups of mustard greens or collard greens still repulsive, but my Mom would be so glad that I actually do eat them now instead of feeding to the dog while she wasn’t looking.

So which ones should you choose and how do you use these before they sit too long in your food rotter…

All leafy greens are packed with important and powerful nutrients, and most can also be found year round. This makes adding them to your menu for the week quite an easy task.

As far as nutritional value, all leafy greens are typically low in calories and fat….and high in protein per calorie, dietary fiber, vitamin C, pro-vitamin A carotenoids, folate, manganese and vitamin K.

Studies have shown that eating leafy greens may lower your risk of type 2 diabetes by 14 percent, a fact that I wish that I’d known when I first got married 32 years ago.

Leafy greens have also been shown to improve your eyesight, bone health and skin elasticity while helping your blood to clot normally.

And even better, there are so many more varieties that can keep you from feeling like you are simply eating the required bowl of bagged salad every single night, night after night…

Some options that we will be taking a look at are…

  • Arugula
    Beet Greens
    Bok Choy
    Boston (Butterhead)
    Broccoli
    Cabbage
    Collard Greens
    Edible Green Leaves
    Endive
    Iceberg
    Kale
    Microgreens
    Mustard Greens
    Rapini (Broccoli Rabe)
    Romaine
    Spinach
    Swiss Chard
    Turnip Greens
    Watercress
Sweet, Sweet Sunday

What About Water

So this month I have decided to try to get back on track, both as a blogger and as a wife of a type 2 diabetic by getting back on track as far as the Raw Foods Pyramid as a new nutritional guide and minimalism as a lifestyle.

So here’s a review of what I had learned before getting off track…

Why even drink water in the first place?

  • Asthma and Allergies…helps keep your air passageways open because the body closes up these passageways in an effort to minimize water loss whenever we are dehydrated
  • Blood Pressure…prevents your blood from becoming so thick that it increases your blood pressure
  • Body Temperature…cooling the body whenever you sweat by making you sweat more
  • Brain Function…protects brain structure and function, as well as producting hormones and neurotransmitters. Drinking water promotes clearer thinking and reasoning
  • Constipation…prevents and relieves constipation
  • Headaches…may help relieve the intensity and duration of headaches.
  • Hangovers…can help prevent the unpleasant symptoms from drinking too much—such as thirst, fatigue, headache and dry mouth—because it is a diuretic. A good rule of thumb is to drink one glass of water for every alcoholic beverage that you drink in order to avoid having a hangover the next day.
  • Joint Pain…maintains the ability of the joints to absorb shock
  • Kidney Stones…makes you have to pee more often, which prevents minerals from consolidating, crystallizing and becoming kidney stones
  • Skin disorders and premature wrinkling…makes your skin look healthy and vibrant and also prevents it from becoming dry, flaky and tight
  • Tooth Decay…keeps the mouth clean and as a result reduces tooth decay

How much water should we be drinking each day?

  • In order to enjoy the complete benefits of water listed above, you should be drinking eight or more cups of water per day.
  •  Another popular suggestion is to drink half your body weight in ounces.

What tools and techniques can I use to help me start drinking the suggested amount of  water each day?

1. Carry a small refillable water bottle with you everywhere you go.

  • Using a  reusable water bottle does not create the litter that typical water bottles do, is environmental-friendly, makes you a smarter consumer, saves water, and saves you money.
  • What factors should you consider when choosing a water bottle?
  • The first factor to consider is what material the bottle is made from. Water bottles can be found in many different materials—including aluminum, stainless steel, plastic, polyethylene, and copolyester.
  • Glass…bottlesUP, Life Factory, Love Bottle, Takeya

  • Metal…Earth Lust, Hydro Flask, Klean Kanteen
  • Plastic…Fit & Fresh, GOBIEH20, Nalgene
  • In addition to the material that the bottle is made from, you also need to recognize how easy the bottle will be to both carry and to clean, how easy the bottle will be able to fill with ice cubes and water, what type of drinking valve the bottle has, how big the bottle is, and whether or not the bottle has a filter.

2. Decide when you want to drink your water. A few suggestions are…

  • Before Meals…makes you feel full and helps you eat fewer calories.
  • Certain parts of your daily routine—such as when you first get up, just before leaving the house, when you sit down to work, whenever you get up from your desk at work to take a bathroom break, after your brush your teeth in the morning, and right before you eat lunch.
  • Hourly…ensures that your water quote is met by the end of the day.
  • Morning…gives you more energy to face the day ahead.

3. Enlist other people to help you reach this goal.

4. Fill a larger pitcher or bottle with the amount of water you want to drink each day.

5. Invest in a filter.

6. Make your own carbonated water with the help of a home “seltzer” machine.

7. Use a straw so that you drink faster, and drink more at one time.

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

What’s Next?

As much as I hate it, and as much as my ADHD adult mind would love to wander off on yet some other tempting tangent or two, especially during this holiday season of overeating and overcooking and overbaking…

We’re still faced with the fact that my husband has just been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and that we both need to start eating better.

This has actually become a top priority, if not THE top priority, in our lives right now.

And I have made planning our meals around the Raw Foods Pyramid my plan on attack.

Mainly I am doing this so that I won’t have to cook…no, wait…that’s so not true…

But it is true that the real reason I use huge recyclable cloth bags when shopping is so that I can safely cram more into each bag and, as a result, make fewer trips from my car into the house…not to save the environment.

My pursuit of a “raw foods diet” so far has involved learning to eat more unprocessed, organic, and uncooked foods….foods such as vegetables, nuts, seeds, fruits, sprouted grains, and beans—none of which can have been heated above a certain temperature, usually somewhere between 104 and 118 degrees.

I have also been becoming more aware of which foods have been refined, pasteurized, homogenized, or produced with the use of synthetic pesticides, chemical fertilizers, industrial solvents, or chemical food additives.

I have been learning about the raw foods dfiet by starting at the base of the Pyramid—those low calorie, nutrient dense foods that we should probably all eat more of in the first place and slowly working my way to the higher-calorie, less nutritious foods at the top of the pyramid, those foods that we should eat very little of, if any at all.

The three bottom tiers of the Raw Foods pyramid—water, leafy greens, and fruits and vegetables—are grouped together in the one category called “Production Foods.”

Let’s take a look at what we’ve learned so far…

Bibliophiles, Sewing a Straight Seam

Books, Books, Books Galore

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As far as your friends and family that absolutely can’t put a book down and would much rather be holding a leather bound book than a brand new cell phone or Ipad, here are some great sources for book suggestions as to which book to buy for what person…

Blogs can be excellent sources of information. A few blogs about books are Book RiotBustle BooksOmnivoraciousThe Millions, and The New York Review of Books.

Book clubs can also be useful as you embrace a literary lifestyle. Four of the better known book clubs are DoubleDayOprahGoodreads, and Book of the Month.

Book lists can also be found with reviews on sites like Book List OnlineList ChallengesGoodreadsBook RiotNew York Public Library, and Reading Group Choices.

Book reviews can also be read on pages with Book Challenges. Several challenges that I have been following this year are…

All About Austen…Read or watch anything inspired by Jane Austen.

Back to the Classics…Discover and enjoy classic books you might not have tried, or just never got around to reading.

Christian Reading Challenge.

Foodies Read…”Do you read books about food? There are books about food in so many different genres…

  • Cozy mysteries set in bakeries…
  • Romance books set in tea shops..
  • Nonfiction books about the history of ingredients…
  • Cookbooks
  • Memoirs from chefs or waiters or people who just love to eat…

Full House Reading Challenge ...Complete the Bingo card of challenges with fiction or non-fiction books

Netflix and Books Challenge. This is going to be a yearly challenge focused on watching television shows we’ve been wanting to get to (both new and old), and reading books we’ve been wanting to read that match some fun challenge prompts

Reading Assignment Challenge... Commit to reading 1, 2, 3 or 4 books a month and make a list of the specific books you will read each month.

Share-a-Tea Reading Challenge...This challenge is about QUALITY and not quantity. It’s not about reading fifty books or even twelve books. This is an anti-rush reading challenge. Enjoy where you are in a book, and, engage fully in it. Live in the book.

Victorian Reading Challenge…More than any other time in modern history, the Victorian Age saw the most change to European and American societies. Many agrarian, rural communities transitioned to urban centers of industry. Men and women began to talk about and take steps toward redefining their traditional roles. Theories about God, the origin of man, and the practice of religion began to be publicly put forth, challenged, refuted, or solidified. The Victorian Age saw a great revolution in the western world and it’s a topic that fascinates me endlessly.  

Pinterest Boards may also prove to be a great asset a few worth noting are

  • Book Community Board
  • Goodreads
  • Penguin Random House Boards
  • Random House Official Pinterest Board

Websites can obviously give you reviews, reading guides, interviews with authors, and so forth. A few websites worth investing your time in are…