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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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

It’s Apple Pickin’ Time

Okay, now that we’ve established the fact that in order to take care of an awesome type 2 diabetic husband, “resident four year old,” and whoever else may be surrounding our tables or grabbing whatever food they can find to eat in surplus===such as my college daughter….

…we’ve also decided that one way that we can start converting all of our collected Southern Living and Paula recipes into healthier alternatives is by baking with applesauce…

And now that another goal of mine is to start slowly weeding out all processed foods from our diet, I’ve also decided to make and can my own applesauce…and apple butter…

Wait, did I say that I was gonna actually “can” something?!

My mom will be so shocked—kinda like the day that I told her that I had bought my very first sewing machine and she thought to herself that I’d never sew a straight stitch in my life…(now quilting is my favorite hobby…more on that later)…

But if I’m ever going to actually make applesauce or apple butter, there’s obviously one very important ingredient that I’m gonna need…

APPLES!!

Big Deal…So go get you some apples…

Wish it were that simple…wish apples came with two options—red or green…

But it isn’t?

If I send my daughter out to get apples, she’d soon be calling me to ask which ones…

If I order apples from Instacart, ,I’ll have to first surf and see which apple variety to order.

So my goal in these three upcoming posts are to show…

  1. How to select apples
  2. How to store apples
  3. Which variety to choose for what

…,and then share a few of my very favorite apple recipes…

Getting Healthy, Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Baking with Applesauce

IMG_4908

Being the wife of a type 2 diabetic makes you reconsider the old ways that you have learned to cook, not only in WHAT you cook, but also in HOW you cook.

You become more aware of the amount of saturated fats, sugar, and calories contained in your baked goods.

For example, check out these facts about the nutritional value of Paula Deen’s Sour Cream Pound Cake found in my last post. I’ve been making this cake for about thirty-five years my self and eating it for about fifty, but never stopped to really think about the ingredients until here lately.

But still, being from the Deep South, I absolutely love to bake and would gladly put my sour cream pound cake in competition with anyone else’s at any upcoming state fair this fall.

But how do I still manage to make moist, delicious baked goods that will rival any competitors while also keeping my type 2 diabetic husband’s blood sugar and cholesterol levels in line?

One way is by replacing some of the fat called for in cookie and cake recipes with applesauce.

So this holiday baking season, I plan on making at least some of my traditional recipes using applesauce so that at least some of my offerings will contain less sugar and perhaps even healthy(?!)…since apples have been shown to have great health benefits.—such as helping to prevent cancer, reducing your risk of cardiovascular difficulties, acting as an antioxidant, and diminishing the effects of bad cholesterol.

Beginning with Breakfast, Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Production Foods

So as our family makes this transition from setting up a household that is “greener” and more “politically correct”…and learning to live with type 2 diabetes, I have decided to actually plan and prepare breakfasts, instead of passing out the Pop-Tarts or granola bars.

This last year I have totally realized just how much diet and physical activity affect my own health, as well as the health of our entire family.

Using the Raw Foods Pyramid discussed earlier in this post, Now What?!…Raw Foods Diet, we can easily see which low-calorie, nutrient dense foods are at the base of the pyramid, those foods that we should probably all eat more of in the first place…and which high-calorie, nutrient poor foods are at the top of the pyramid, those foods that we should eat very little of, if any at all.

As a wife, mother, grandmother, and simply as my own individual, planning a diet that is based only on pure, water-based food is important. Such a diet provides more of the nutrients that we all need, prevents a myriad of health issues, helps us to love or maintain weight, improves skin condition, helps us to have more energy (which is VERY important when you are fifty years old chasing a four year old all day long).

So in planning our breakfast menus, I have started by mainly including foods from the three bottom tiers of the Raw Foods pyramid, which are grouped together in the one category “Production Foods.”

As a quick review of the raw foods “diet”, the cardinal rule is to…

Avoid foods that have been refined, pasteurized, homogenized, or produced with the use of synthetic pesticides, chemical fertilizers, industrial solvents, or chemical food additives.

Now, let’s start taking this pyramid apart by looking at the bottom three tiers—“production foods”…and ask ourselves the following questions…

water.

Water

  • How important is drinking enough water?
  • How can I get the best quality water possible, water worth actually drinking?
  • What other options exist that make water something I look forward to?

Leafy Greens

  • Why are leafy green vegetables so important?
  • What are the different varieties of leafy greens, other than lettuce?

Fruits and Vegetables

  1. What snacks actually contain real fruits and vegetables instead of flavoring and so forth?
  2. How can I incorporate fruits and vegetables into my breakfast menu?
  3. Which fruits and vegetables offer the best nutritional value?
  4. Why is eating vegetables and fruits so important?
  5. How can I make sure that I am getting the best quality fruits and vegetables possible?
  6. Why should I buy local, seasonal fruits and vegetables?