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Meals

10 Foods with Hidden Health Benefits

We all hear about the importance of healthy eating, but why? What do we gain from eating more fruits and vegetables? Well, here’s a list of 10 “super foods” that can give you some serious health benefits when added to your diet. I listed just a few of the benefits found in them, because they are packed full of nutrients! Besides sharing what and why you should eat these foods, I also included potential snacks to make with them! All of these snacks are definitely worth a try in my opinion.
1. Chia seeds- Add to breakfast smoothies or in Greek yogurt. 2 tablespoons have double the antioxidants found in blueberries, 41% of your daily fiber, 100% more omega 3 fatty acids than salmon. Omega 3 lowers cholesterol levels, boosts brainpower, and improves blood vessel functions. Chia seeds are amazing!2d7b16370ae35ae88aa09f5ae52acdda
2. Blackberries- Blackberries make a delicious treat, especially when they are juicy and in season. Try a handful with cottage cheese, or with yogurt and granola or sliced almonds. Blackberries provide excellent source of iron and Vitamin K. Vitamin K prevents blood clotting and strengthens your bones.
3. Grapes- Have you tried frozen grapes? A healthy snack when you’re craving something cold. My roommate and I always eat these after we work out. Grapes are anti-inflammatory, stimulate your metabolism, and improve your vision. They also contain Vitamins A, B1, B2, B6, and C.
4. Tomatoes- Sprinkle a slice with mozzarella, garlic, basil, and olive oil. These contain beta-carotene that protects against sun damage. These colorful fruits also contain Vitamin A to improve vision and reduce risk of macular degeneration in your eyes.
5. Oatmeal- Add cinnamon, honey, and bananas to oatmeal for breakfast! (And always eat breakfast!) Oatmeal has high levels of soluble fiber, which makes you feel full longer, and controls blood sugar levels. Oatmeal also has 5 grams of protein for ½ cup, and it is low calorie! I used to really hate oatmeal, but over the years I’ve come to love it and now I have it for breakfast almost every morning.94822b42f68fbc4cefb80fce1661ff56
6. Avocadoes- I wish avocadoes were in season all year, they are one of my favorite snacks. Sprinkle half an avocado with garlic salt and olive oil for a quick and filling snack. They are rich in Vitamin E, which gives you healthier hair and skin- who doesn’t want that?! They also contain 35% more potassium than a banana. Avocadoes have more natural fiber than any other fruit- so you feel full longer. Natural fiber also aids in digestion and helps regulate blood sugar.
7. Kale-Sauté it first to bring out flavor, then add pine nuts, cranberries, and lemon-flavored dressing. Kale increases your metabolism and helps detoxify your liver and kidneys. It contains iron, Vitamins A and C, calcium, and is anti-inflammatory.
8. Sweet potatoes- Slice and drizzle with olive oil and bake at 375 for 30 minutes. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese after. Sweet potatoes possess high levels of fiber and beta carotene. Those nutrients promote a healthy digestive tract, they and contain Vitamin C. Vitamin C boosts your immune system and your skin because it produces collagen.

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9. Apples- Try with carob ships and peanut butter as a filling snack. Apples contain phyto-chemicals plus solid doses of flavonoids and carotenoids which lower disease risk and protect against cancer. They protect against osteoporosis, cataracts, and diabetes because of the antioxidants and high levels of soluble fiber.

10. Quinoa- Try it with black beans, corn, and salsa. It contains amino acids- the building blocks of protein (thank you high school biology for that fact). Quinoa is high in iron and calcium for strong bones. This grain also has riboflavin to improve your metabolism and energy production. It has twice as much fiber as other grains and carbs with a low glycemic index, so your body can convert it and use it without storing the carbs as fat.
Which of these are you going to try? Is there another super food that you love to snack on or cook in meals?

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Food News Tips, Tricks, and Advice

Everything but Turkey for Thanksgiving

Vegetarian Quiche for Thanksgiving!
Vegetarian Quiche for Thanksgiving!
One thing many vegetarians will have to break to their family at one point or another is that they will no longer be eating turkey on Thanksgiving. People will ask you why you can’t just eat meat on this one day. They may say that they thought you still ate chicken and turkey. They may fear that you will bring Tofurkey.

Another problem vegetarians and vegans may face when it comes to a large dinner gathering is having diverse and nutritious options. I’m sure I’m not the only one who has been tempted to  just go for a 100% pie and potatoes diet, but let’s be honest…even for a holiday, that’s not the healthiest. Many pre-made options are highly processed and salty. Plus, isn’t it much more fun to mix it up a bit? Don’t you want some protein in there? Time to step it up!

Fear not, my veggie friends. I’ve gathered some of the best vegetarian and vegan recipes out there, tried and tested.

Baked Tofu (Vegetarian/Vegan)

Ready for a super simple, protein packed recipe?

It’s a pretty simple process, as detailed in this Whole Foods step by step recipe. I like to coat the tofu cubes in olive oil with a brush, and then sprinkle sugar in the raw or other seasonings. Spicy, savory, sweet, it’s up to you! The tofu comes out crunchy and golden.

Roasted Chickpeas (Vegetarian/Vegan)

The chickpea, or garbanzo, is a diverse little legume. It can be made into flour, hummus, falafel…but it’s pretty great in its bean form, too, and don’t you forget it! A friend of mine gave me the idea to roast chickpeas with some spices a few years ago, and it has been a favorite ever since. I often serve it at dinner parties, and I’m complimented on how delicious it is. The recipe is also pretty basic. As a spice, I prefer to add cumin and turmeric, maybe a kick of cayenne. Or add some sriracha after roasting them. Especially tasty with some sauteed kale on the side. And healthy!

Quiche (Vegetarian)

A quiche can be so very festive and, let’s be honest, it’s like you’re getting to jump straight into the pie portion of the meal.

My sister enjoys making a broccoli and cheddar quiche for the holidays, similar to this recipe. If you want to make it a tad easier, you can pick up a pre-made crust. Whole Foods has some great gluten free and dairy free crusts, if you prefer, and you can always make this recipe vegan with a milk and butter substitute and egg replacer. I’ve prepared this vegetarian and gluten-free and vegan, and didn’t have a problem with any of the variations!

Festive Quinoa (Vegan)

Quinoa is nutritious, and this recipe is flavorful and festive.

We served this last year and I enjoyed it quite a bit. For added flair, we added cranberries with orange essence. Quite filling!

Zucchini Boats (Vegetarian/Vegan)

It’s a combination of boats and zucchini. What more could you ask for?

I follow a recipe similar to this one, but honestly, I use whatever floats my boat. Pun intended.

Brown rice, couscous, some beans, grape tomatoes, it’s all fair game! Scoop out the zucchini filling (aside from the seeds) and mix with your filling of choice. Fill the boats with the cooked mixture, and bake! Sprinkle cheese/vegan cheese of your choosing. Once again, I also like to just spot with sriracha. You’re ready to sail!

Sweet Potato & Black Beans (Vegetarian/Vegan)

I initially made a recipe similar to this one as a vegan burrito a few years back, omitting the cheese in lieu of avocado. However, this recipe also works great without wrapping everything burrito style. Sweet potatoes and black beans are an absolute winning combination!

Polenta with Eggplant (Vegetarian/Vegan)

My friend gave me a recipe book that has a recipe like this one in it, and it has become one of my favorites. I admit that I cheat and buy the Trader Joe’s polenta. I tend to omit the cheese on this as well.

Fellow vegetarians and vegans, what has been your Thanksgiving plight? Do you have any favorite meals for this time of year?

One thing I love about Thanksgiving is sharing all of the food, and the fortune of being able to try so many recipes. I’m thankful that I have these options. I also believe that everyone’s body is different, and just because a diet works for you does not mean that it is for everyone. While I am a vegetarian for ethical reasons, I initially stopped eating meat because I simply don’t enjoy eating it. However, I think it is nice to keep in mind that not everyone who is sharing your Thanksgiving with you will share these views, and they should be able to eat in peace. I have many friends and family who have diets based on personal beliefs and/or health restrictions, and Thanksgiving should be a time of sharing and giving, not judging. I think it is important to remember this because I am often asked if I am angry at others for eating meat, and I don’t think that is a kind way to approach what is said to be a kind diet.

I hope you all have a great holiday, and I would love to hear your recipe ideas!