How much nutrition is really in your food?

How much nutrition is really in your food?

By: Leanne Ely

 

You hear all the time that you should eat your fruits and vegetables. That they contain important minerals and vitamins essential for good health. So, you probably feel that you’re doing something good when you sit down to your daily salad and whatever other vegetables you can cram into yourself and/or your family members. And you are. Don’t get me wrong! But you might be surprised to know how nutritionally deficient much of the produce we have available to us really is today.

According to the American Food Pyramid, adults need roughly 3 cups of vegetables and 2 cups of fruit per day for optimal health. But I personally feel that this number should be higher because I don’t believe that a couple cups of today’s produce can provide us with all of the minerals we need.

Fruits and vegetables

One study conducted by a research team out of the University of Texas discovered that six out of thirteen nutrients in a sampling of 43 different fruits and vegetables were significantly depleted between 1950 and 2000.

In 1950, broccoli contained an average of 12.9 milligrams of calcium per gram, but in 2003, broccoli was shown to contain only 4.4 milligrams of calcium.

Why?

The soil is depleted. Farm lands have become severely depleted of minerals. Even many organic farms have soil that has been over farmed to the point where the food that’s grown in that dirt is not as nutritionally dense as you might expect it to be.

The soil simply isn’t healthy anymore. With the GMOs, the pesticides and fungicides . . . we’re lucky if the fruits and vegetables that get harvested today have any nutrition in them at all by the time they get put on store shelves.

But there’s another thing.

Travel Time. Produce loses nutritional value at a steady rate after it’s been harvested. When you’re eating fruits and vegetables that have been shipped from across the country, how much nutritional value do you suppose it has by the time it reaches your table?

So how do you get all of the nutrition you need?

Here are a couple of ideas for you.

• Eat a lot of organically grown fruits and vegetables and consider supplementing with a daily multivitamin.

• Start growing your own food and ensure that the soil you use is properly nourished with organic compost matter and safe fertilizers.

• Preserve the nutrients that are in your produce by cooking them properly. Heat can destroy 30% or more of the nutrients in raw fruits and vegetables so don’t overcook them. Steam or saute your vegetables to prevent nutrient loss or, better yet, enjoy your produce raw. There are a couple of exceptions to this rule. When you cook spinach, tomatoes and carrots (not overcooked into a pile of mush, mind you), you actually increase the amount of available antioxidants found in the foods in their raw state.

• Choose fresh or frozen over canned. Canned food has little nutritional value left after all of the processing it has undergone to get to you. Frozen food, however, is generally frozen immediately after being picked and it is possibly more nutritious than the food you get fresh at the grocery store if it’s been shipped to you from half way around the world, being exposed to all kinds of heat, light, air and who knows what!

So what’s the moral of the story?

Even if you think you’re eating enough produce, chances are you’re not. I’ve written articles in the past that will help you get more veggies into your diet. This might be a good time to reflect on one such article! Read it here.

Go ape for bananas!

Go ape for bananas!

By: Leanne Ely

 

It’s time once again for Tricks, Tips and a Recipe. Today you’ll learn a trick, a tip and you’ll get a great recipe to try it out with. Neat, huh?

Today’s focus is on: BANANAS

You’d have a difficult time finding a home in North America without a bunch of bananas sitting on the counter.

Bananas are harvested all year long from trees, where they grow on the banana plant in clusters of 50–150 other bananas.

Delicious, nutritious, and so darn versatile, all wrapped up in their own biodegradable wrapper, there’s a lot to love about this sweet and creamy fruit.

Did you know that bananas are so loaded with potassium that they can help you balance out a sodium overdose? If you’ve gorged on Chinese food or something very salty, eat a banana and you’ll find yourself all fixed up in no time. That’s because each cell in your body has a little sodium/potassium pump inside, and there’s enough potassium in a banana to make things right.

Besides potassium, bananas are high in manganese, fiber, biotin, copper and vitamins B6 and C.

I eat bananas every day, right out of hand or tossed into a smoothie. Don’t go so bananas over bananas that you go overboard, though! They are still high in sugar and should be enjoyed in moderation. One a day is fine.

Now, it’s time for your Trick:

When your bananas are getting too ripe for your liking, peel them and toss them in a freezer bag. Then, when you need a banana for your smoothie or a batch of banana bread, you have them at the ready!

Your Tip:

If you’re hungry for a banana and the ones on your counter are still green, wrap them in a paper bag with an apple and they’ll ripen up quicker.

And your Recipe from our current 10 Day Blitz!

Strawberry Banana Smoothie made with fresh Ingredients

Strawberry Banana Smoothie

INGREDIENTS:

1 cup unsweetened coconut milk

1/2 to 3/4 cup water (or more coconut milk)

1 cup frozen strawberries

1 small banana, peeled

1 cup frozen pineapple chunks

1 scoop Saving Dinner Perfect Paleo Protein

2 teaspoons Saving Dinner Fibermender 2.0 (optional)

1 tablespoon Just Juiced Greens (optional)

INSTRUCTIONS: In a blender, add unsweetened coconut milk, water, strawberries, banana,

pineapple chunks, Saving Dinner Perfect Paleo Protein, Fibermender 2.0 (optional) and Just Juiced Greens (optional); blend until smooth and enjoy! For a thinner smoothie, add more unsweetened coconut milk.

 

Making dinner time family time

Making dinner time family time

By: Leanne Ely

 

I can’t tell you how passionately I feel about families sitting down and eating meals together. Nothing is quite as satisfying and fulfilling as preparing a nutritious meal for your loved ones and sitting around the table together to enjoy it as a family unit.

I don’t care if it’s fruit and yogurt for breakfast or roast chicken for supper, as long as you make an effort to sit down and eat as many meals as you can together. It’s a perfect way for everyone to connect with one another, and it provides a feeling of comfort and security for your children.

When my kids were little, eating at the table was not optional. I planned the meals, they would help me prepare dinner and then we would sit down together and eat. I believe that we’re as close as we are partly because I made family dinner time a priority in our lives. They knew they could talk about what was going on in their lives anytime, but dinner time was just the natural time to connect. I wouldn’t trade those minutes together for anything.

So how do you get everyone around the table together if you haven’t made a big deal of it before?

Happy family having roast chicken dinner at table

Lay down the law. You’re the boss, so make the rule. No meals in front of the TV. Period.

Involve everyone. Giving everyone mealtime chores will give you a hand, and it will make your kids feel more involved in the process, making it more likely that they’ll be keen to sit down and eat with you. Start at the grocery store by letting the kids decide which vegetables to buy. Explain the difference between organic foods and conventionally grown foods. Really start to provide your kids with an education about where their food comes from. Then, at home, depending on the ages of your children, you can have them do all kinds of things from washing and/or peeling vegetables to stirring sauces and setting the table. Trust me, they’ll be much more anxious to help prep than they will be to clean up, so perhaps you could start there!

Make it fun. It will be easier to get the kids to the table with you if you serve food they like. That’s a no-brainer. Give everyone a couple of options for dinner and hold a family vote over what gets served-majority rules! If it’s pizza night, let everyone make their own individual pie. Fajita night? Put all the toppings on the table and let everyone have at it. Veggies and roast meat? Instead of putting the food on their plates in the kitchen, bring everything to the table and let them serve themselves. Sounds crazy, but kids are more likely to eat food they put on their plates themselves.

Healthy Meals for Picky Eaters

Healthy Meals for Picky Eaters

By: Leanne Ely

 

If you’re trying your best to lose weight and/or improve your health, it can be challenging to stick with it (to say the least) if your family isn’t on board with the changes. When you’re struggling to make the right food choices, negative feedback from the dinner table every night can push you back to old ways pretty quick. (What’s this? I don’t eat green things. I don’t like that. Why do you hate us?)

Lucky for you, there are some tricks you can use to help your picky family be part of your changes, without them even realizing it (sneaky).

Chicken salad with roasted vegetables and mixed greens.  Delicious healthy eating.

Don’t make an announcement. If you sit down at the dinner table one night and tell everyone that you’ll all be eating healthy from now on (huge mistake), your family is going to convince themselves that meals are going to be bland and yucky.

Increase veggies gradually. If your family members are not fans of vegetables, start by serving the ones they do enjoy, and find new ways of cooking those they do not. Add a salad at the center of the table for every meal, and let everyone choose their own toppings or dressings. If you know they like broccoli, try kohlrabi one night (they taste similar). If your family makes a face at brussels sprouts, try sautéing them with a bit of bacon. This makes it less about your lifestyle changes, and more about getting everyone a bit healthier.

Make small changes. If you live with other people, you may not wish to throw away all of the packaged foods, sugary salad dressings, and frozen entrees all at once. A big dramatic act like this will scare them and will make your life difficult. Start slow by making little, barely noticeable changes. Once you run out of a certain salad dressing, for example, don’t replace it with the same kind (make your own or buy a healthy version). Make everyone’s favorite lasagna, but add more vegetables to the sauce and add a bit less cheese. Serve with a salad instead of garlic bread.

Make a healthy version of familiar recipes. Let’s go back to the lasagna example. If you’re giving up gluten but the family isn’t, go ahead and make your world-famous lasagna, but make your own serving with zucchini noodles instead of wheat. Let everyone try a small piece of yours so they see how delicious it is.

Find healthier ways of preparing things. If you normally fry your chicken, use the same recipe, but bake it in the oven instead. Cook foods in coconut oil instead of vegetable oil. Bake muffins with whole wheat or coconut flour instead of white. Halve the amount of sugar in all recipes and substitute with honey. Little changes like this all add up, and it isn’t going to be a huge shock to your loved ones’ systems.

Involve them. If you’re making fajitas, provide everyone with healthy topping options: red onions, tomatoes, peppers, refried beans, cheese, lettuce, salsa, etc. Place everything on the table, and make a rule that everyone has to either choose three toppings (or three different colors) or eat their fajita with extra salad. You can do something similar with a variety of healthy foods like chili, soup, and pasta. Put all of the options on the table and let them choose what they want. Then you can eat as many vegetables as you want without forcing it on them. (Directly!)

Experiment with salads. When you’re trying to increase the number of salads your family is eating, it’s going to take trial and error. A bowl full of ice burg lettuce is not going to make anyone your friend. Prepare a big bowl of greens and serve with a variety of meats, colorful veggies, boiled eggs, avocado, nuts, dried fruits… see what everyone gravitates towards.

Make notes. Keep a bit of a food journal so you can remember which meals your family enjoyed, and which they did not. Allow everyone to choose one or two foods they will not eat. Promise that you will do your best to avoid those foods in your meals, if they promise to be open minded about what you serve.

Be creative, and you’ll be surprised at the gains you can make with your picky family while eating a healthier diet!

Top tips for kale chips

Top tips for kale chips

By: Leanne Ely

 

There is a topic that keeps coming across my radar, both on Facebook, my email inbox, and even at the market when my fellow shoppers wonder what I’m doing with all of that kale (when my own crop has been harvested for the season, of course!): kale chips.

And, today, we’re going to talk kale chips with a trick, a tip, and a new kale chip recipe to try.

Kale, as you know, is a super food, and many people are jumping on the kale bandwagon (yay!). Kale chips are an easy-to-make snack food that is delicious and super good for you.

Be sure to buy organic curly kale. Kale is on the Dirty Dozen list and is one of those vegetables that should only be eaten when you can find it organic. (Curly is my preferred variety for kale chips—feel free to buy other varieties for other kale recipes!)

Now, it’s time for your Trick!

The secret to the best, crunchiest kale chips is to get them as dry as possible. So, after you soak your kale in a big bowl of water to remove the dirt and any bugs that might be lurking in there, spin the heck out of it. Any moisture on those kale leaves is going to lead to soggy chips. (And you don’t want that.)

Your Tip:

Cook a batch of kale chips before you start your dinner prep and offer them to the kids as a snack. This is a great way to get the veggies into them in a manner that might appeal to them! You don’t even have to tell them that the kale chips were part of their dinner 😉

And your Recipe:

Garlic Chili Kale Chips
Serves 4

1/2 tablespoon coconut oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon chili powder
6 cups chopped kale

Preheat oven to 250 degrees.

In a large bowl toss all the ingredients well. Pour kale mixture onto a large baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes, until kale is crispy. Serve warm.

Most of us aren’t getting enough veggies into us in the run of a day, and while kale chips are a great start, you can probably be doing more. We developed our Just Juiced Veggies to help you get in all a great dose of green veggies in one easy shot. Check it out here!

Kale Chips

Oven Roasted Chestnuts (and my favorite way to enjoy them)

Oven Roasted Chestnuts (and my favorite way to enjoy them)

By: Leanne Ely

 

Tis the season for visions of candy canes and sugar plums and chestnuts roasting on an open fire. But how many of us have actually roasted chestnuts? Have you ever eaten a chestnut?

Many cultures enjoy chestnuts as a valued source of nutrition. Chestnuts have been harvested for centuries in Japan, China, Korea, Europe and the Mediterranean. Greeks put chestnuts above almonds, walnuts and hazelnuts in terms of quality. So, why don’t we eat more chestnuts here in North America?

Chestnuts can be roasted (but please use an oven-it’s safer than an open fire) or cooked in soups and stews.

nice edible chestnuts - food and drink

So, what’s so great about chestnuts?

Fiber. There is more fiber in a serving of chestnuts (3 grams per 100 gram serving) than there is in a serving of walnuts, pecans or pistachios.

Fatty acids. Chestnuts are full of linoleic acid and other essential fatty acids like palmitic and oleic acid, which are great for heart health.

Nutrients. Chestnuts contain potassium, magnesium, copper and high levels of Vitamin C. They also have lots of amino acids and antioxidants.

Chestnuts aren’t only nutritious, but they also have a pleasant taste.

So, how do you eat chestnuts?

Well. First, you take your chestnuts and cut an X on the flat side with a very sharp paring knife.

When the nuts are all scored with their X, pop them on a baking sheet and roast for 15-20 minutes in a 425 degree oven. This will make the X open a bit and the skins will peel easily off of your chestnuts. At this point, you can use them in soups or side dishes, but if you want to actually roast the chestnuts, keep them in the oven for another 20 minutes.

Peel the chestnuts while they’re still warm. Once they cool, the skins are difficult to remove.

I like chestnuts sautéed with Brussels sprouts and bacon. Mmmm!

While they do contain lots of nutrients, chestnuts are pretty starchy. They’re actually used in many cultures more as a vegetable (think potato substitute), so use them sparingly.

Do you enjoy eating chestnuts?

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