September 2014 archive

Welcome, Autumn!

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MJS Root13, nws, sears, 3-3 root13

On this first day of fall, we mournfully make peace with summer’s brilliant fruits and vegetables that drip with moisture and refreshment. Goodbye to luscious foods that cool our insides like watermelon and peaches and hydrating crisp lettuce greens, and ripe, red tomatoes. Although these foods will be missed (or imported from South America and continually purchased year round at your local grocery store), we are waltzing into a new season that bestows upon us a far more interesting harvest.

I compare summer produce to a romantic comedy- sweet, light, airy, and refreshing. Although lovely, it is not something that evokes deep emotional thought. Whereas autumn fruits and vegetables are like Shakespearean love stories- they touch and awaken a part of your soul that was on the verge of being forgotten about. With just the scent of cinnamon spiced apple pie or roasted sweet potato, you are instantly taken to a time in which the world was simpler, wide-eyed holiday fun awaited, and life was lived in that very moment. It’s a deep, comforting feeling that wraps you up in its warmth and carries you into the frosty winter.

Fruits are no longer the star now, as potent, disease-fighting vegetables take over. Beets, squash, rutabaga, broccoli, sweet potatoes, radishes, carrots, kale, Brussels sprouts, and cabbage (to name just a few) are at their peak and fill our produce departments and farmers markets. You will notice most of these vegetables have flesh that is deep and rich in color. This illustrates the powerful array of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidant compounds that each has to offer.

The deep orange in sweet potatoes, squash, pumpkin and carrots come from beta carotene, a form of Vitamin A that is thought to fight cancer cell growth, support reproductive health, and boost immune function. That bright red radish is a great source of vitamin C, B6, folate, fiber, riboflavin, thiamin, iron, magnesium, and potent cancer-halting isothiocyanates.  Kale, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and cabbage are surprisingly in the same (cruciferous vegetable) family as radishes. As with radishes, these veggies offer anti-oxidant and detoxification benefits thanks to glucosinolates. Their high fiber content is linked to lowering cholesterol and supporting cardiovascular health. Their high concentration of Vitamin K allows for strong anti-inflammatory potential. My favorite, the beet, is a true autumn jewel and detoxification powerhouse. Unlike radishes that get their vibrant red color from anthocyanins (an antioxidant flavonoid compound), beets obtain their deep coloring from a group of compounds called, betalins. Betalins provide powerful anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties. Preliminary lab tests have revealed their ability to suppress cancer cell growth. Loaded with folate, manganese, potassium, fiber, copper, magnesium, (I can go on and on…) phosphorus, vitamin C, iron, vitamin B6, beets are a fantastic source of health and vitality.

And let’s not forget about some of the year’s most fabulous fruit: pomegranates, cranberries, apples, and pears, each of which offer their unique gift of vitamin, mineral, and phytonutrient composition. Although fall vegetables steal the show, I can say with certainty that one of life’s best offerings is biting into an apple at the peak of season (September-October). So sweet and crisp- this taste simply can’t be replicated any other time of the year.

Of course I only touched on a hint of fall’s fabulous produce. So explore for yourself what this season has to offer and enjoy every bite, every scent, because this time is only once a year! pumpkin

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Stop Drinking Your Smoothies!

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Super Smoothie bowls better    As we know, the “health trend” of the smoothie is absolutely out of control. I outlined in my previous post the unhealthy truths behind these drinks. I also gave tips to turn your smoothies into health elixirs, and I will share two recipes here. You will notice that these are not your average smoothie…they are in a bowl…and you will eat these with a spoon. Why? Because it is a better! Let me explain. There are two main reasons why you should “EAT” your smoothies, instead of “DRINKING” them:

  1. More complete digestion and absorption. Believe it or not, digestion starts in our mouths. Amylase, a digestive enzyme used to break down complex carbohydrates into more easily absorbed molecules, is produced in our salivary glands (and pancreas-but that’s another story). It is released into our saliva as we chew our food to kick off the digestive process. By starting digestion at this early stage, food is broken down and absorbed more easily as digestion progresses. When we blend up our healthy smoothies, we are obviously aiming for optimal absorption. This cannot be achieved if we completely bypass our mouths by gulping it down. Rather than gulping, we should be chewing. Weird? Yes…but the whole point of making smoothies rich in nutrients is to reap the benefits of the nutrient absorption. By eating your smoothies with a spoon and permitting your saliva to mix with the nutrient-rich elixir, you will allow for more complete absorption and digestion, and thus receive the full benefits from your smoothie. This will also cut down on the common complaint of bloating after drinking a smoothie. So CHEW your smoothies!
  2. Mind tricks. This may sound all too simple, but guess what- it works. Typically, we blend up our smoothie concoction, throw it into a glass or an environmentally-friendly plastic cup with a straw, and gulp (or chug) it down as we frantically run out the door or around the house like a crazy. There are definitely occasions for this type of ludicrous behavior, but this should NEVER be the norm. When you guzzle a smoothie, all it becomes is a drink….a thirst quencher. Not a meal. However, as I discussed in my prior post, there are quite often enough calories and macronutrients to call this “drink” a meal. So now you have successfully downed 400-500 calories without even noticing that you just ate breakfast. What happens next? You will be actively seeking out breakfast in 45 minutes to an hour at the office, or worse, contemplating the drive thru on your way in. Don’t do it. Slow down and eat your smoothie with a utensil. This is a meal! Treat it like one, and you will be surprised how far it gets you. Not to mention, straws have an evil side effect of eventual upper lip wrinkles (smoker’s lines around the mouth), as my mother-in-law so graciously brought to my attention. Since then I have effectively destroyed all environmentally-friendly straws in my possession-and I suggest you do too.

Here are two absolutely delicious, healthy, dietitian-approved smoothie bowls to start your day off right!

Classic Strawberry Banana

1 Banana, reserve ¼ for garnish

1 Cup Frozen Strawberries, reserve ¼ cup for garnish

¼ Cup Sunflower Seeds, reserve 1 Tablespoon for garnish  

2 Cups Baby Spinach

1 1/2 Cups Water

½ cup Ice

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Blend up banana, strawberry, sunflower seeds, spinach and water until smooth and creamy. Add ice and blend until incorporated. Pour into a bowl, top with reserved ingredients and enjoy!



3/4 Cup Frozen Mango Chunks, reserve ¼ cup for garnish

3/4 Cup Frozen Blueberries, reserve ¼ cup for garnish

½ Banana, garnish optional

2 Tablespoons Cup Pumpkin Seeds (Pepitas), reserve 1 Teaspoon for garnish

3 Tablespoons Unsweetened Coconut Flakes, reserve 1 Teaspoon for garnish

2 Cups Chopped Kale

1 1/2 Cups Water

½ cup Ice


Blend up mango, blueberries, banana, pumpkin seeds, coconut, kale, and water until smooth and creamy. Add ice and blend until incorporated. Pour into a bowl, top with reserved ingredients and enjoy!



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