This time of year it is really hard to find fresh produce. Most farmer’s markets are not meeting and many local farms don’t have much winter season produce. The local grocery store will have a variety of fruits and vegetables but your best bet is to stick to the produce that is in season. Seasonal fruits and vegetables will give you the most nutritional bang for your buck. Buying local is the first choice but if local is not available, opt for what’s in season.
Vegetables in season right now include:
- Greens (kale, collard and turnip)
- Brussel sprouts
- Winter squash
And don’t forget about fruits. God is creative in His planning of seasonal foods and what nutrients are more abundant at certain times of the year. Winter is full of fruits that are loaded with vitamin C to ward off colds and the flu. Fill up on your vegetables for meals and have oranges, mandarins, clementines and grapefruit for dessert.
Roasted Red Peppers Stuffed with Kale and Brown Rice
- 3 medium red bell peppers
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- Freshly ground pepper, to taste
- 8 ounces kale, (6 cups lightly packed), trimmed
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 3/4 cup cooked short-grain brown rice
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts, divided
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- Freshly ground pepper, to taste
1. To prepare peppers: Preheat oven to 400°F. Halve peppers lengthwise through the stems, leaving them attached. Remove the seeds. Lightly brush the peppers outside and inside with oil; sprinkle the insides with salt and pepper. Place, cut-side down, in a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Bake until peppers are just tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Let cool slightly. Turn cut-side up.
2. To prepare filling: Bring 2 cups salted water to a boil in a large wide pan. Stir in kale, cover and cook until tender, 10 to 12 minutes. Drain, rinse under cold water; squeeze dry. Finely chop.
3. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add onion and chopped bell pepper; cook, stirring often, until onion is golden, 6 to 8 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Stir in the kale. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly. Stir in rice, Parmesan, 2 tablespoons pine nuts and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper. Divide the filling among the pepper halves. Sprinkle with the remaining 2 tablespoons pine nuts.
4. Add 2 tablespoons water to the baking dish. Cover the peppers with foil and bake until heated through, 15 to 20 minutes. Uncover and bake for 5 minutes more. Serve hot.
Recipe provided by eatingwell.com
July is National Grilling Month which means we need to get outside and start grilling! The health benefits of grilling not only come from the food itself, but also from being outside in the sunshine. An adequate amount of sun exposure is required to maintain a healthy vitamin D level.
Grilled foods are, in many ways, healthier than foods prepared on the stove or oven. Most grilled foods retain the nutritional quality with fewer vitamins and minerals being lost when compared to cooking methods such as baking or pan frying. Grilling is a high heat method of cooking and allows food to retain moisture and not dry out. Because of this, fewer oils and fats are needed to coat the food. In addition, the fat contained in or on the food being grilled drips down and is lost. You can also decrease fat content even more by trimming meats prior to grilling.
Almost any food can be grilled, even bananas which make a really yummy dessert! Try this recipe for grilled romaine lettuce and use the remaining sauce with grilled chicken or shrimp.
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp parsley
2 Tbsp basil
1 lemon, juiced
zest from lemon
2 tsp hot pepper sauce
3 cloves minced garlic
1 Tbsp tomato paste
2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 head of romaine lettuce
- In a mixing bowl, combine oil, parsley, basil, lemon juice and zest, hot sauce, garlic, tomato paste, oregano, salt and black pepper. Reserve a small amount for basting later.
- Cut head of romaine lettuce lengthwise, leaving the core on to hold the leaves together, and allowing ¼ head per person.
- Drizzle about ½ cup marinade over lettuce and let sit for 10-15 minutes.
- Place lettuce on grill and cook, turning several times, until the leaves are wilted and browning. Serve as a whole quarter or chop to make a bed for meat.
Cinco De Mayo is a fun celebration but enjoying it without all of the calories and fat is a difficult challenge. Mexican food from restaurants is typically cooked in lard and covered in cheese and sour cream. Not only are the portions large, but starting your meal with fried chips and salsa, guacamole, and cheese dip is not doing you any favors. Knowing what to order is important so you can enjoy Mexican flavors without sabotaging your healthy intentions.
Without knowing the nutritional information and analyses, it can be difficult to determine just what is in the Mexican food you order from a local establishment. The following are helpful ordering hints. But keep in mind that each restaurant may prepare the same dishes differently, and you may need to ask how dishes are prepared to ensure you are ordering a healthier option.
- Skip the chips at the beginning of the meal and ask for a side salad.
- If a tortilla is part of your meal, choose corn or whole wheat tortilla instead of a flour tortilla.
- Avoid refried beans and choose black beans, borracho beans or frijoles a la charra which will have less fat.
- Eat only half of the beans and rice served.
Healthier ordering options include:
- Enchiladas with red sauce or salsa
- Grilled fish or meat dishes
Enjoy this Mexican dish with a side salad and a small amount of guacamole or your favorite dressing. Top the fajitas with plain yogurt instead of sour cream.
- 1 tablespoon oil
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1/2 teaspoon ground oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- Ground black pepper, to taste
- 12 ounces beef sirloin, select grade, cut into strips 1/2 inch wide and 2 inches long
- 1 red onion, cut into strips
- 1 green bell pepper, cut into strips
- 4 whole-wheat tortillas, about 8 inches in diameter, warmed in the microwave
- 1/4 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- 2 medium tomatoes, diced
- 2 cups shredded lettuce
- 1/2 cup salsa
- In a small bowl, stir together the chili powder, oregano, paprika, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Dredge the sirloin pieces in the seasonings, coating completely.
- Heat oil in a frying pan and cook the sirloin strips over medium heat until slightly pink, about 8 minutes. Add the onion and green pepper strips and saute until the vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes.
- To serve, spread an equal amount of the meat and vegetable mixture on each tortilla. Top each with 1 tablespoon cheese, 1/4 of the diced tomatoes, 1/2 cup shredded lettuce and 2 tablespoons salsa. Fold both sides of each tortilla over the filling, and then roll to close. Serve immediately.
Sneezing, runny nose and itchy eyes are common complaints during allergy season. If you are one of the millions of people who suffer from seasonal allergies, you are willing to try most anything to get some relief. There are many natural remedies that help relieve symptoms including foods to eat or to avoid. When considering foods to include in your diet, remember any food that boosts the immune system will also help your body to combat the inflammation response when experiencing allergies.
Besides increasing your fruit and vegetable intake, certain foods help clear the nasal passages and thin mucous including:
1. Spicy seasonings:
- cayenne pepper, ginger, onion and garlic.
2. Quercetin containing foods:
- this powerful antioxidant may help control the release of histamine. Foods to include in your diet: cabbage, cranberries, kale, grapes, pears, apples, grapefruit, spinach, garlic and onions.
3. Local honey:
- the thought is that local honey will contain traces of pollen from local plants and consumption may boost the immune system to reduce allergy symptoms.
- to support the immune system. Choose supplement form or from plain yogurt.
Foods to avoid:
- Limit processed foods that contain sugar which will weaken the immune system.
This delicious salad can be eaten as a side dish to complement a healthy meal or can be eaten by itself as a light meal.
- 1/2 medium onion, sliced thin
- 2 TBS white wine or apple cider vinegar
- 1 cup hot water
- 5 oz baby spinach
- 2 TBS balsamic vinegar
- 1/2 tsp local honey
- 2 TBS extra virgin olive oil
- salt and cracked black pepper to taste
- 8 dried figs, sliced
- 2 TBS chopped walnuts
- Slice onion. Marinate sliced onion in 2 TBS white wine or apple cider vinegar and hot water for 10 minutes while preparing rest of ingredients.
- Rinse and dry baby spinach.
- Whisk together balsamic vinegar, honey, salt and pepper, drizzling in the olive oil a little at a time at the end. Toss with rest of ingredients and serve.