Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Broccoli…The What

Another vegetable with high antioxidant properties is broccoli.

Broccoli is the most common member of the family tree called cruciferous vegetables, a family that includes Brussel sprouts, cauliflower, kale, cabbage., collards, kale, mustard greens, and turnip greens. You may hear this family referred to as either the “mustard family” or the “cabbage family.”

Broccoli firsts started out as a type of wild cabbage way back during the Roman times, when it was enjoyed immensely by the Romans.

Broccoli did not gain popularity until the 1920’s, even though it had been ntroduced to the United States during colonial times,

The word “broccoli” is derived from an Italian word meaning “branch” or “arm,” which is a perfect description of its blossom-bearing, cross-shaped stems that resemble mini trees

There are several different types of broccoli, including…

  • Broccoflower,…a pale green hybrid of broccoli and cauliflower..
  • Broccolini ,,,baby broccoli that is a hybrid of broccoli and Chinese kale
  • Broccoli raab… this vegetable does not have the tree-like “heads” we’re used to, but instead has the same florets but on longer and thinner stems. I
  • Broccoli rapini,…this vegetable has fewer florets and a mustard-like flavor Chinese

Most broccoli grown in the United States comes from either California

China is the country that produces the most broccoli per year, over 8 million tons per year.

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Making the Perfect Blackberry Smoothie

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Blackberries…The How

Shopping for Blackberries

When shopping for blackberries, remember that the blacker the color, the riper and sweeter the blackberry will be.

The perfect blackberry has a “deep”-flavored and is very juicy.

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Storing Blackberries

Blackberries are highly perishable and delicate. They can turn soft, mushy, and moldy within 24 hours after bringing them home from the store, so you will want to either use them that same day or freeze them.

Once you do bring them home, check for any soft, overripe berries…as well as any squished or moldy berries. Gently blot the berries that you’re keeping with a paper towel and place them in a covered container in your fridge.

Do not wash the berries until you’re fixing to…_(yeah, I am from the Deep South)…to either eat them or cook with them.

To freeze blackberries…which is honestly the best way to use them to make smoothies…flash freeze them by first arranging the blackberries in a single layer on a cookie sheet. Then put the cookie sheet with the berries into the freezer. Freeze them until they are solidly frozen. Then put them to an airtight container or Ziploc bag, label, and date…..yeah, I do know that you can also buy prepackaged frozen berries, but we’re trying to avoid processed foods, remember?)

 

 

 

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Recipes

Blackberries have been used to make wines and cordials as far back as 1696..so they must taste pretty darn good, right?.

And of  course you could eat the blackberries that you have bought all by themselves, but why stop there, when you could use your blackberries to make great desserts such as cobbler, jelly, and smoothies. 

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Blackberries—The Why

Blackberries have been used by many different ethnic groups of people for many different purposes….at least since the time of the ancient Greeks.

Blackberry tea made from the leaves, roots, and bark was used to treat oral problems, such as bleeding gums, canker sores, sore throats, anf mouth ulcers.

The roots have astringent properties that have been used to treat digestivce problems—such as diarrhea and stomach ulcers.

Blackberries have antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and anti-viral properties.

So let’s first look at the nutritional value in half a cup of blackberries.

 

 

 

 

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Nutritional Value

A half cup serving of blackberries roughly contains about 430 calories.

This same half cup also contains about half of a gram of fat, zero cholesterol, a miligram of sodium, about ten grams of carbohydrates.

Blackberries contain significant amounts of both soluble and insoluble fiberactually five grams of dietary fiber, or 25% RDV. Blackberries are also a good source of pectin, a type of soluble fiber that helps lower cholesterol levels.

As far as vitamins, this same half cup of blueberries contains…

  • Vitamin A…214 IU
  • Vitamin B1…thiamine…2%…0.020 mg
  • Vitamin B2…riboflavin…2%…0.026 mg
  • Vitamin B3…niacin…4%…0.646 mg
  • Vitamin B6…2%…0.030 mg
  • Vitamin B9…folate…6%…25 μg
  • Vitamin C…25%…21.0 mg…It has been documented that as far back as 1771 to treat scurvy.
  • Vitamin E…8%…1.17 mg
  • Vitamin K…19%…19.8 μg

In addition to these vitamins, blackberries also contain many minerals that we need, such as…

  • Calcium…3%…29 mg
  • Iron…5%…0.62 mg
  • Magnesium…6%…20 mg
  • Phosphorus…3%…22 mg
  • Potassium…3%…162 mg
  • Sodium…0%…1 mg
  • Zinc…6%…0.53 mg

 

 

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Antioxidants

But out main concern right now is antioxidants…and how we can get the most antioxidants into our daily diet…

And before you start adding antioxidants to your diet, you must first know what antioxidants are…


The word “sntioxidant” doesn’t actually refer to one particular chemical, but instead refers to a process that your cells perform called oxidation.

A few examples of antioxidants are vitamins C and E, beta-carotene, and the minerals selenium and manganese.

 

Each of the antioxidants is its own individual and does a different job than all the other antioxidants, but together they form a team that fights free radicals, those chemicals that can damage your cells and the genetic material inside them.

Although there are hundreds and possibly thousands of substances that can act as antioxidants, each with its own role in the cooperation of other antioxidants to help the body work effectively, let’s take a look at a few of the more “popular” ones…

 

 

1.Beta-carotene…Beta-carotene is a pigment—which can be yellow, orange, or red—is found in many vegetables and fruits…including carrots, squash, and spinach. Beta-carotene is important for your vision.

2. Flavonoids. There are more than 4,000 of different flavonoids found in fruits and veggies. Every plant contains a different flavonoid combination. Flavonoids are important in protecting you from heart disease, cancer, arthritis, aging, cataracts, memory loss, stroke, inflammation, and infection. Flavonoids can be found in green tea, grapes, red wine, apples, chocolate, and berries.

3. Lycopene...Lycopene help protect your body from cancer—specificaxlly prostate, lung, and breast cancer. Good sources of lycopene include cooked and processed tomatoes, such as the pasta sauce you used last night of your spaghetti.

 

4. Omega-3 Fatty AcidsOmega-3 fatty acids help protect against heart disease, stroke, arthritis, cataracts, and cancer. Omega-3 fatty acids are commonly found in salmon, tuna, sardines, and walnuts…

5. Omega-6 Fatty Acids...Omega-6 fatty acids help improve eczema, psoriasis, and osteoporosis. Omega-6 fatty acids can be found in vegetable oils, nuts, and poultty.

6. Selenium,,,Selemium helps your thyroid work and also can help protect against cancer—especially lung, colon, and prostate cancer. Sources of selenium include onions, garlic, and soybeans.

7. Vitamin C.…Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, is another essential antioxidant that possibly helps prevent cancer—epecially stomach cancer, lung cancer, and cancer within the digestive system. You can get more vitamin C into your diet by eating green vegetables, tomatoes, and citrus fruits like oranges and grapefruits.

8. Vitamin EVitamin E fights off free radicals that attack fats in your cell walls….and also keeps LDL cholesterol from hardening your arteries. Good sources of vitamin # include whole grains, vegetable oils (olive, sunflower, canola), nuts, and green leafy vegetables

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Blackberries…The What

Another good option when targetting your smoothie to be most effective for its antioxidant purposes is the blackberry.

This soft, plump, sweet, and juicy fruit is commonly found in Europe from June until November, but are now also grown commercially in the United States.

They also grow wild  in forests and hedgerows across most of North America…where they can be found as thorny bushes or trailing vines, known as brambles. These brambles have many very sharp prickles or thorns that can easily tear through your clothes, even through denim, with ease and make the plant very difficult to navigate around. These sharp, thick thorns help protect wild blackberries from large animals.

 

Blackberries are considered an “aggregate fruit” because each single blackberry, as we usually think of as blackberries, is not an actual fruit in itself. Instead what we think of whenever we think about blackberries is actually a cluster of about twenty-five tiny fruits called druplets. each having its own seed.

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

And the Beet Goes On…(Making the Perfect Beet Smoothie)

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Can’t Beat the Beet

A bunch of beets with beet greens on a wooden cutting board on a marble countertop.

 

 

 

 

 

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THE WHAT?!

One of my goals while writing this blog has been to slowly crawl up the Raw Foods Pyramid, looking at one option at a time…seeing how each ingredient can be added to the diet of my newly diagnosed type 2 diabetic.

So, since we are now on the topic of fruits and vegetables…leafy greens…smoothies…smoothie purposes…antioxidants…(progression of my outline if that makes sense to anyone else out there)…

Today we are going to talk about beets.

Beets—in the same “family” as sweet potatoes and carrots, are a root vegetable used in many cuisines around the world.

 

 

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THE WHY?!

Beets are a superfood that is packed with nutrition—including vitamins, minerals

Let’s take a look at some of its medicinal properties.

  • Calories: 44,,,Beets are low in calories
  • Protein: 1.7 grams
  • Fat: 0.2 grams…Beets are low in fat.
  • Fiber: 2 grams…Fiber has many health benefits—such as improving digestion, keeping you “regular,” and prevent digestive conditions—such as constipation, inflammatory bowel disease and diverticulitis
  • Now let’s take a look at what beets have to offer as far as vitamins and minerals,
  • Folate: 20% of the RDI
  • Iron: 4% of the RDI
  • Magnesium: 6% of the RDI
  • Manganese: 16% of the RDI
  • Phosphorous: 4% of the RDI
  • Potassium: 9% of the RDI
  • Vitamin B6: 3% of the RDI
  • Vitamin C: 6% of the RDI

In addition, beets also offer many nitrates and pigments that are beneficial.

Betalains, a pigment found i beets, have may anti-inflammatory properties and can refuce pain and discomfort caused by this.

Nitrates dilate blood vessels, causing blood pressure to drop.

 

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THE WHY ELSE?!

Some of the benefits that beets offer as far as health include…

1. Anti-inflammatory...As mentioned earlier, beets contain the pigment called betalains which has anti-inflammatory properties that can help prevent inclulding obesity, heart disease, liver disease, and cancer.

2. Cancer…Beets contain the antioxidants that are needed to help  reduce the division and growth of cancer cells.

3. Enhanced athletic performance…The nitrates found in beets improve the efficiency of the mitochondria found within each and every cell that are responsible for producing energy in your cells.

4. Heart...Beets contain nitrates—which have been shown to help reduce your risk of heart problems—such as heart attacks, heart failure and stroke.

5. High blood pressure...Eating beets can lower your blood pressure anywhere from  4 to 10 mmHg over a period of only a few hours.

6.Mental.cognitive decline associated with aging.…The nitrates found in beets help maintain the blood flow and oxygen supply to the brain…which in turn helps you maintain the health of the brain associated with decision making and memory.

7. Weight Loss…Because beets are a low-calorie food with a high water and a high protein content, beets may help you lose weight by reducing your appetite and making you feet full longer. Beets also contain moderate amounts of protein and fiber, both important nutrients for achieving and maintaining a healthy weight.

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Making the Best Smoothies for Antioxidants…Alfalfa Sprout Smoothies

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Alfalfa Sprouts

The What...alfalfa is a legume, actually a member of the pea family.

The Why...rich in beta-carotene and vitamin E

Other Reasons Why...great source of many vitamins and minerals—such as calcium, folic acid, manganese, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, and zinc, and many vitamins.

The Ingredients…

  • 2 cups fresh alfalfa sprouts
  • 3 cups kales leaves, packed
  • 1 cup coconut water
  • 1 cup water
  • organic celery stalks
  • 1 small apple, cut into large chunks
    1 small frozen banana, broken into chunks
  • 2 teaspoons hemp, chia, or flax seeds
  • stevia to taste
Sweet, Sweet Sunday

How to Be a Smooth Operator

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Making the Perfect Green Smoothie

So now that we know the health benefits of green smoothies, how do I make the perfect one…and what should I expect in the perfect one.

The perfect green smoothie is the perfect blended of your favorite fresh fruits and dark leafy greens…blended with the perfect textures and with no bitter flavors….giving you not only great flavor, but also optimal nutrients every time.

And making the perfect green smoothie is more of a method instead of an actual recipe….but let’s first talk about the ingredients….or perhaps a ratio—60% fruits to 40% leafy greens.

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THE GREENS

There are hundreds of types of greens out there–try any of them and mix things up to find flavor combinations you like. , any kind of green will work…All greens have nutrients and anti-nutrients…rotate your greens regularly….be cognizant of flavor when choosing your greens. Spinach will have a milder flavor, so you can get away with using quite a lot without running into taste issues; arugula, on the other hand, is quite spicy, so you might want to add in some other stronger flavors to balance that out…

  • arugula
  • collard greens
  • fresh herbs—such as cilantro, basil, parsley and mint
  • green cabbage
  • kale
  • mâche
  • microgreens
  • pea shoots
  • romaine
  • spinach
  • Swiss chard
  • mixture of any of the above

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THE FRUIT

Fruit gives your green smoothies extra nutrition, texture and flavor…not to mention the fact that adding fruit keeps your green smoothie from tasting like a smooshed-up blended salad.

Adding fruit to your your smoothie also means that you won’t need to add any artificial sweeteners, honey, agave nectar, or processed sugars…because fruit is naturally sweet.

Bananas or avocados are the secret to making perfectly sweet and creamy weapon smoothies….they also help bind together the rest of the ingredients…bananas are also sweeter than  most other fruit. Bananas are especially good if you have peeled and frozen them first.

Ice can be hard on your blender and will dilute your smoothie’s flavor.

You can either chop and freeze your own ripe fruit or berries, or buy the the packaged stuff…and by the way I just discovered that you can freeze your wilting package of greens by simply sticking it in your freezer…learn something new every day, right?

Use about 1C fruit per servingabout twice as much fruit as you have in liquid or greenspreferably frozen fruit because you never want to add ice to your smoothie.

Fruits that you might consider include…

  • apples
  • berries
  • lemons
  • limes
  • mango
  • oranges
  • peaches
  • pears
  • pineapple
  • pitted dates

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THE LIQUID

Obviously if you’re gonna make a green smoothie, or any smoothie, you will need some sort of liquid. You can try whatever liquid you like, but you might want to avoid sweetened liquids because the fruit will add enough sweetness on its own.

Use anywhere from 1/2C to 1C per serving.

A few options include…

buttermilk—not so sure about this, but great for making pancakes or biscuits…might have to try it

  • coconut water
  • cold brew coffee
  • cold brewed tea—especially mint tea or green tea
  • milk

  • nondairy milks—such as unsweetened almond milk or coconut milk
  • “plain old water”

 

 

 

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THE EXTRAS

Now that we’ve talked about the three basic ingredients of a perfect smoothie—the greens, the fruit, and the liquid—let’s explore other optional ingredients and a few recipes for the different health benefits that green smoothies are helpful for.

Many of these ingredients will be for helping the smoothies taste better…others will be for getting additional health benefits…while some will do both.

Let’s brainstorm…

  • Bee pollen
  • Coconut oil
  • Cucumbers…cucumber have a high nutrition content, as well as a high water content…and the green peel is excellent for you
  • Fresh herbs—such as basil, cilantro, and thyme
  • Gelatin powder
  • Himalayan salt
  • Honey
  • Maca powder
  • Nuts—such as raw almonds or raw walnuts
  • Oats that have been soaked in water overnight, or at least for ten minutes
  • Oils—such as flax oil
  • Seeds—such as flax seeds, chia seeds, hemp seeds
  • Superfood powders—such as cacao, maca, and acai powder
  • Spices—such as ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, turmeric, cayenne, chili powder, or some combination of these
  • Unsweetened protein powder
  • Vitamin C powder

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Conclusion

So by now, you have probably realized the countless ways to make green smoothies, not to mention smoothies in general…I sure have, especially after studying probabilities in order to take my GMAT in three weeks…

But don’t worry…in the next post we will be talking about how to make your green smoothie…and then looking at various smoothies that you might want to try, based on the specific health benefit you are considering at the given moment.