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.

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Getting Healthy, Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Yes, You Can Actually EAT Water

 

 

 

Okay, so we all know now that water is important to our health for many different reasons…but sorry, water is still boring—even when “spiked” with spices and herbs…

Is there any other option that can help us reach out daily recommended two liters of water per day?

Fortunately yes…we can actually EAT our water by choosing foods that have a high water content…

Let’s look at a few of these options, using the Raw Foods Pyramid as a guide…

The levels of the Raw Foods Pyramid are…

  • Water
  • Leafy Greens
  • Fruits and Vegetables
  • Image result for raw foods pyramidSprouts and Legumes
  • Nuts and Seeds
  • Herbs, Microgreens, and Juicing Greens
  • Seaweed and Nutritional Yeast

So looking at these levels, let’s see which foods help you reach your daily water needs…

 

Leafy Greens…Leafy greens require ample chewing and provide a healthy dose of fiber, vitamins, and minerals. They also help with acid indigestion, constipation, and urinary tract infections.

  1. Iceberg Lettuce…Although we have all been told to choose darker greens—such as spinach or romaine—because these have more fiber and nutrients such as folate and vitamin K, lettuce is the best leafy green as far as water content. Iceberg consists of  95.6% water…more water than any other leafy greens—including butterhead, green leaf, and romaine.
  2. Spinach…Even though spinach has less water content than iceberg lettuce—92% water, spinach provides more nutrients than iceberg lettuce—including magnesium, potassium, B-vitamins, lutein, fiber, folate, and antioxidants.
  3. Other leafy green options that will increase your water intake include kale, Chinese cabbage, bok choy, Swiss chard, cabbage, and watercress.
Getting Healthy, Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Is Cooking A Sin?

So is cooking a sin?

Should I never step foot in my kitchen again and turn on the oven or a stove burner?

Can I turn my kitchen into a sewing room or home office?

 

Probably not…as much as I wish that were true quite often…

But thoughts and opinions as to what should be cooked, and how much it should be cooked for as far as temperature and time, run the gamut from one nutritionist to the next, from one individual to the next.

Typically, raw food advocates will begin to persuade you into their way of thinking through the importance of enzymes.

 

Enough Info on Enzymes…Sorry, but I don’t care to spend the next umpteen thousand hours learning about enzymes, when I barely even know what an enzyme is…So here’s the little bit of information that I have learned at this point.

There are two types of enzymes that are used by the body to break foods down into smaller, more operable nutritional units.

  • First, there are the “endogenous enzymes,” those enzymes produced within the body itself through the pancreas.
  • Next there are the “exogenous enzymes,” found in the foods that we eat.

And it is important that we eat more foods that contain these “exogenous enzymes” so that it is easier for our bodies to fully digest nutrients from our diet, without making them work more than they should in this process.

 

True advocates of the raw foods diet believe that any food heated over about 112 degrees Fahrenheit loses way too many, if not all, of these vital exogenous enzymes and that cooking foods can rob them of almost all nutritional benefits, such as antioxidants and vitamins.

 

However, most nutritionists, and real people, agree that the best diet is one that includes both raw and cooked vegetables.

Sorry I ate enough raw black-eye peas and “butter beans” growing up having to shell them as a little kid, so the idea of eating a single raw legume frightens me while at the same time making me think about the days when our biggest worry in the world was how to get the purple stains off our fingers before going into town the next weekend.

 

So how do you know which ones to cook and which ones not to cook?

When considering whether a specific vegetable should or should not be cooked, it is important to look at both how many nutrients that particular food has to offer and how our bodies are best able to actually absorb these nutrients.

Each specific vegetable has its own “heat labile point,” that specific temperature at which the food begins to lose some of its nutrients during the cooking process. At this temperature, chemical configurations within the food begin to change,  enzymes are lost, and the food becomes less beneficial.

But this temperature varies…so there is no magical temperature that should really be regarded as biblical for all produce.

And different nutrients respond differently to the cooking process in general.

 

Reasons to Keep Cooking

1.Cooking food can help these foods release their nutrients, makes these nutrients easier for the body to absorb, and obviously make them taste a lot better also. For example, certain nutrients—such as the antioxidants lycopene and beta-carotene found in carrots, squash, sweet potatoes, and tomatoes—and certain minerals, such as iron, are better absorbed after they have been heated.

 

2. Cooking foods can make certain vegetables—such as peppers and mushrooms—actually become more nutrient-dense.

 

3.  Cooking foods helps gets rid of the “bad stuff”–-Cooking can destroy certain harmful compounds, bacteria, and pathogens often found in foods, specifically fish, eggs, and meat. For example, goitrogen compounds—which are commonly found in such cruciferous vegetables as kale, broccoli, and cauliflower—can block thyroid function and contribute to hypothyroidism, but these compounds are mostly deactivated by exposure to heat. Another example of a compound that is deactivated by exposure to heat would be the lectins and phytic acid found in grains and legumes. These compounds could eventually prevent your body from absorbing minerals altogether.

 

4.  On the other hand, cooking foods also has the potential to increase the amount of “good stuff” that you get from the foods that you eat. An example of this would be steamed broccoli having more sulforaphanes, a compound in broccoli that fights cancer.

 

5.  Cooking can improve “digestibility,” the total amount of time food remains in our digestive system. The longer a food sits in our digestive tracts, the more likely that the food will begin to ferment in the digestive tract and cause problems such as gas, inflammation, and “leaky gut” syndrome.

 

 

So for this reason, and the fact that I am a true Southern belle from Mississippi who loves cooked black-eyed peas—in fact make that blackeyed peas cooked with fatback and cooked for hours before finally eating them, and cornbread with lots and lots of butter—I refuse to settle down to a strictly raw foods diet…and if I won’t do it myself, I’m not even going to ask the other members of our family how they feel about this issue at all.

However, I probably won’t be cooking my black-eyed peas with fat back for hours at a time any more, especially now that I know that the best way to cook vegetables is by steaming them…because steaming vegetables uses very little water and takes only a short amount of time, meaning that my blackeyed peas may or may not taste nearly as good, but at least they shouldn’t lose very many nutrients at all.

Like I said earlier…

Join Me for This Journey?!