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.

Beginning with Breakfast

Green Smoothies…The Why’s from A to Z

 

Getting Healthy, Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Acacia Honey—The What?! Why?! Which?! and How?!—July 2018 Honey of the Month

Acacia honey is one of the most popular honey varieties. It is widely considered one of the best kinds of honey in the world, provided it is authentic….and is.highly sought after around the world.

Acacia honey is made from the nectar of Robinia pseudoacacia, what we here in America know as the black locust tree, or “false” Acacia…

This tree is not only native to North America, but is also found in Europe—from Northern Italy to the Ukraine, especially in Hungary—where the tree is known as the acacia, even though the honey does not actually come from true acacias.

As far as color, acacia honey is a very pale, light golden colored—much like liquid glass. Acacia honey is often jarred with the actual honeycomb visible in the jar beause the honey does have such clarity and a pale color.

As far as taste. acacia honey is one of the lightest tasting honeys in the world, having a clean, light and mildly sweet, floral taste with delicate vanilla tones and no aftertaste..

Why?!

Adding acacia honey to your diet can provide many health benefits, including…

  1. Dealing with diabetes…Acacia honey has a very low sucrose content and a high fructose level, making it the best choice for diabetics. In addition to being a good choice for diabetics, acacia honey is known for its therapeutic qualities, including…
  2. Helping boost the health of your skin…The rich supply of minerals found in every type of honey, including iron, zinc, potassium, calcium, and copper, as well as vitamin C and other antioxidants, can help reduce the appearance of wrinkles, soothe inflammation, and decrease the appearance of scars, blemishes, and burns when topically applied
  3. Helping you lose weight more quickly...Honey mixed with water or milk can help satisfy your sweet tooth and make you feel full. This will possibly keep you from munching out while vegging out in front of the TV and stimulate your metabolism.
  4. Lowering your blood sugar…Although most people worry about their blood sugar being too high, acacia honey can help lower the blood sugar. Also, hypoglycemia is a dangerous condition, and eating acacia honey can deliver a concentrated burst of carbohydrates to your system that will balance your blood sugar levels
  5. Helping you deal with allergies…Acacia honey, like almost all other honeys, is great for helping you deal with allergies and other respiratory problems because of the antibacterial properties, rich nutrients, and antioxidants that it contains.
  6. Preventing chronic diseases…Acacia honey contains antioxidants that are able to seek out free radicals throughout the body and reduce the negative impacts of oxidative stress…in turn, lowering cellular mutation and reducing your risk of chronic diseases—such as cancer, arthritis and heart disease.
  7. Supporting your immune system…Acacia honey naturally contains hydrogen peroxide, a powerful antibacterial agent that can help prevent infections throughout the body and relieve strain on your immune system.

Which?!

When buying acacia honey, or any other honey, make sure that you are buying a honey that is pure, organic, authentic, raw, unprocessed, unheated and unadulterated from a responsible source with a reputation for producing “clean” honey that hasn’t been processed, heated or pasteurized in any way.

There are many processed products claiming to be acacia honey. Avoid these. After all, our goal in this “What Now?!” segment of Muffins and Magnolias blog has been to start eliminating processed foods from our diets and replace these foods with healthier alternatives.

Obviously, the best place to buy your acacia honey is directly from a beekeeper, who sources the honey directly from the beehive.

But you can also find sources of acacia honey from sites such as Organic Acacia Honey.comOlive Nation, and Savannah Bee.

How?!

Acacia honey is an excellent choice for cooking because of its mild flavor and the fact that it mixes easily in liquids and batters. Other ideas for using acacia in your kitchen include…

1. Berries…Acacia honey is a fantastic topping and the perfect complement to the natural taste of any berry—such as blueberries, blackberries and strawberries…

2. Beverages…Acacia honey is a good choice for mixing with beverages—such as tea—because it sweetens your beverage, without actually changing the taste of the drink

3. Bread…Acacia honey and creamy butter makes an excellent topping for toast.

4. Cheese…Acacia honey is great when served with hard cheeses such as Grana Padano, an Italian cheese made from unpasteurised, semi-skimmed cow’s milk that has been aged for about two years.

The word “grana” means “grainy” in Italian.

This cheese is a “grana” cheese—a fragrant, dry, crumbling cheese with a firm, thick and deeply straw-coloured rind and intensely sweet flavor…very similar to Parmigiano Reggiano, but much less expensive because more areas actually produce this type of cheese. Grana Padano is also less crumbly, milder and less complex than Parmigiano Reggiano.

5. Wine…The best wines to pair with acacia honey are

  • Barolo…such as this Aldo Conterno Barolo Bussia 2013 Nebbiolo
  • Zinfandel…such as this Rombauer California Zinfandel 2016
  • Gavi…such as this Principessa Gavia Gavin 2016

6. Yogurt…Finally, acacia honey is great paired with Greek yogurt…in recipes such as the following Kiwi Smoothie.