5 Vegetables That Aren’t the Usual

5 Vegetables That Aren't the Usual

Carrots, spinach and peas—oh, please! They’re okay, but how about something new? Why is it that we tend to go for the same veggies, over and over? Well, it seems like a lot of it has to do with marketing. Think about it–a decade ago, rarely did a person even know where to find kale. Now, if you don’t have kale in your crisper, you’re a total square. Let’s look at a few of the most underappreciated vegetables:

Parsnips

You’ve probably heard of them. They look like white carrots and have a distinct, sweet taste. Parsnips have anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal and anti-cancer properties, and are packed with vitamins and minerals, including folate and vitamin C. You can roast, puree or mash these delicious root veggies.

Rutabaga

This tasty, slightly sweet root vegetable turns into a beautiful, deep orange color when it’s pureed. It has a great amount of vitamin C and fiber. Rutabagas can also be shaved on top of salads, roasted like potato fries would be, or even mashed. It’s the perfect winter vegetable.

Cauliflower

It’s going to be back in style…and for a good reason. It’s delicious roasted, mashed or sliced into steaks. Cauliflower has been shown to have anti-inflammatory, cancer-preventing benefits and is packed with vitamin C and various other nutrients.

Cabbage

Why do we ignore cabbage? It’s loaded with antioxidants and has a significant amount of research that backs up its worth in cancer prevention. You can eat cabbage raw, slice it and grill it, braise it, saute it, and create a stuffing out of it. Delicious! This vegetable provides benefits to lowering cholesterol and digestive health, too.

Kohlrabi

Last, but not least, but probably less well known is kohlrabi. This is a high fiber, low calorie vegetable that is potassium-rich and filled with vitamin C. It’s delicious raw, with a fresh and fruity taste. And, it becomes fantastically creamy when it’s roasted. Try kohlrabi in a slaw that has a bit of olive oil and some citrus.

Is Rooibos the New Green Tea?

Is Rooibos the New Green Tea?

Maybe green tea just has a red competitor. It’s rooibos, which is pronounced roo-ee-bosh and means “red bush”. Rooibos is an herb native to South Africa and is packed with antioxidants. Really packed. This tea comes with a wide range of health benefits such as slowing signs of aging and reducing heart disease risk.

Experts suggest that rooibos has anticarcinogenic, antimutagenic, anti-inflammatory and antiviral properties. Quercetin, dubbed to be the “king of antioxidants”, is what makes rooibos such a powerful, health promoting tea–a tea that protects against various conditions. Rooibos also contains two antioxidants that are less known, nothofagin and aspalathin. According to experts,  these rare antioxidants have properties said to relax nerves and potentially reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

Additional benefits from red bush tea:

  • Relief from heartburn, constipation and ulcers
  • Relief for insomnia, headaches, and irritability
  • Help with high blood pressure
  • Helps eczema, rash and other skin irritations
  • Management of asthma, wheezing, coughs from allergies and hay fever
  • Has an antispasmodic effect — may provide relief for babies with colic
  • It is safe for those with kidney stones due to its absence of oxalic acid

The antioxidant

Rooibos is extremely rich in flavonoids, which have strong antioxidant effects. This is likely the link that shows why rooibos is known as such a healthful tea. Antioxidants take part in preventing cardiovascular diseases, cancer and slowing ageing. In addition, scientists have found there is a mimic of the enzyme Super Oxide Dismutase (S.O.D.) contained in rooibos tea. S.O.D. is an antioxidant that attacks free radicals and minimizes how much damage they can cause.

Rooibos is becoming more popular for its health benefits and taste. There are different flavored varieties/blends you can find at almost any supermarket or online. It may seem too good to be true, but it won’t hurt to try it out and see for yourself.

Get Out of the Gym If You’re Bored!

Get Out of the Gym If You're Bored!

Are you bored with weights and treadmills? Do you feel that you lack time to formally exercise at a gym? This describes a lot of people. You may even feel as if you don’t have enough time to enjoy your favorite hobbies. There seems to be a solution here…you can turn your hobby into your workout. Make it a priority; it’ll be fun and you’ll notice results, body and mind.

Start photographing
Nature photography will give you the best workout and fresh air. Outdoor events are another option. Don’t even worry about having a professional camera–you can even use your mobile phone.

Go dancing
Did you know that you can burn up to 443 calories in an hour by participating in aerobic dance. This could mean a night out at a club, or a new weekend swing dancing class.

Make your house chores a workout
Isn’t it odd (but it’s true), that research shows about one third of women secretly enjoy cleaning? It can be therapeutic. Maybe you already keep a neat house. In that case, go for a deep cleaning routine.

Take a pole dancing lesson
Pole dancing isn’t just for strippers. It is an incredible workout that requires your entire body. This can make you feel sexy and confident, and is probably much more than any workout you’d find at the gym.

Discover your green thumb
It’s such a wonderful feeling to grow your own food. And, it’s quite a workout. Maybe you want a flower garden that impresses the neighbors, or you would  like to be outside more. Whatever your reason, it’s a great hobby that you can take as far as you’d like.

Spend more time with your dog
Dogs need exercise, too. Make it a point to go out and play with your dog more. Or, maybe you have more free time and are seeking work. Well, start out slow and build a dog-walking business of your own! Ask your friends to join; they’ll be glad to spend time with you and get a little workout in.

Get in the kitchen and cook
Use this opportunity to learn new recipes or try out new cuisines. Take a sushi cooking class or learn how to chop vegetables the right way. You can burn calories by moving around in the kitchen, and you’ll have more home cooked, healthy meals.

Now that you’ve learned about some potential calorie-burning hobbies, you get the point. If you already enjoy a hobby or have been interested in taking one on, they can apply towards your fitness goals, too.

Simple Habits For a Better Weight Loss Routine

Simple Habits For a Better Weight Loss Routine

If you’re looking to lose weight, you’ll find a lot of information out there and it can get pretty complicated, leaving you wondering which diet to follow.  You don’t necessarily have to follow a diet plan to lose weight, but there are some habits you’d be better off changing.  Here are a few simple tips to get you started:

Make a food journal

This will remind you, on a daily basis, what you’re putting into your body.  It doesn’t have to track calories or fat grams– it’s just there to keep you aware of your habits.  It’s also good to know how hungry you are before meals and how you feel after eating.  Jot down any emotions you might notice attached to your food choices or meals.

Get most carbs from fruits and vegetables

Make it a habit to eat more fruits and vegetables and cut down on or eliminate processed carbohydrates.  Think carrots and apples, and less pasta and bread.  And, when you’re looking at your veggies, it’s wise to choose darker and greener, as they tend to be more nutrient dense. Iceberg lettuce isn’t going to help as much as kale. Kale’s really popular (easy to find) now, too.

Eat more whole food proteins

When you’re looking to lose weight and be healthier it’s important to eat your food rather than drink it.  This involves chewing your food, which is important for digestion and awareness of when your body is full.  Rather than grabbing protein bars, choose nutrient dense proteins; if you are a meat eater that could mean chicken and if you’re looking for plant-based protein, you can choose a type of nut or legume.

Don’t be afraid of fat

Healthy and high quality fats are very nutrient dense and important for our health and weight loss.  They keep us satisfied and help us absorb the nutrients from our food.  Try to include healthy fats in all of your meals; maybe a few slices of avocado with your favorite dish, or some peanut butter on a banana.  Making a stir fry with olive oil is also a delicious option.

Lower your alcohol intake and drink more water

You must keep hydrated for general health, especially when you have a goal to lose weight.  Try to keep balance of your electrolytes; for example, add honey, lemon juice, or sea salt to your water if you notice that your urine is clear.  You don’t want to deplete yourself.

Eating to lose weight is definitely not easy. Hopefully, combined with the foods that are right for your body, some of these tips will help you reach your goal more smoothly.

Little Known Facts About the Paleo Lifestyle

Little Known Facts About the Paleo Lifestyle

You’ve probably heard of the Paleo diet or have even tried it yourself.  It’s only gaining popularity and is more of a lifestyle than a diet.  The Paleo diet includes foods that were available to Paleolithic human beings and avoids foods that were not, such as refined sugars, most dairy, legumes, grains and processed foods.  Here are a few interesting facts about the Paleo lifestyle that may surprise you:

There’s more than one type of Paleo diet

Different types of Paleo diets include the Caveman Diet, Primal Diet or Low Carb, High Fat (LCHF) diet.  Although a lot of folks choose to forgo dairy completely and only eat unprocessed foods, some are not as strict and eat certain types of dairy, such as full-fat yogurt.  Different variations work for different individuals.

The Paleo lifestyle is not just about diet

It’s a decision to change your life for the better.  You become more aware about different aspects of your life because you’re more conscious about your food choices.  This consciousness spreads to areas of your life such as how much stress you’re experiencing, how much outdoor time you make for yourself, and anything else that makes up your free time.  For example, Chef Pete Evans, author of The Paleo Chef, says he makes it a point to take a swim in the ocean every morning in order to begin his day refreshed.

Paleo food is attainable for anybody

While buying organic and unprocessed foods can be costly, it’s possible for “people all over the world”, according to Evans.  Shopping at local co-ops, farmers markets and buying bulk items can lower the costs.

You can transition to Paleo smoothly

Transitioning in steps is recommended, as cutting out dairy, sugar and wheat can be difficult all at once. For example, you might stop consuming refined sugars for a month, and then eliminate dairy and wheat. Staying away from these foods will give you increased energy over time and you’ll be unlikely to crave them anymore.

The Paleo lifestyle is for physical and mental health

Forgoing modern food products will ultimately enhance all bodily functions, including cognitive performance and digestion.  Fats such as ketones can optimize mental performance, while sugar and gluten (both inflammatory ingredients) tell the brain to run on glucose, rather than ketones. It’s a lifestyle that helps the entire person.

Starbucks Now Offers Coconut Milk, But Is It Too Good to Be True?

Starbucks Now Offers Coconut Milk, But Is It Too Good to Be True?

February 17 marked the first day that Starbucks started offering coconut milk as a non-dairy alternative to their customers across the U.S.  They already offer soy milk and many believe that coconut milk is even better for you than soy, so it seems like a dream come true to those with dairy allergies or who follow a plant-based diet.  Starbucks has made it a bit easier to be dairy-free and enjoy a latte still, but there are a few things we should know about their new coconut milk option:

It has a lot of ingredients
It’s not simply coconut milk.  The ingredients = water, coconut cream, cane sugar, tricalcium phosphate, coconut water concentrate, natural flavors, sea salt, carrageenan, gellan gum, corn dextrin, xanthan gum, guar gum, vitamin A palmitate, vitamin D2.  There are plenty of coconut milks that contain coconut milk and water at most.

It’s not the best for the environment
Starbucks’ coconut milk comes all the way from Indonesia.  That means it’s taking a lot of gas to transport millions of gallons of coconut milk.  In general, we get coconuts from far away, so it’s not a problem exclusive to Starbucks, but is one that deserves our attention.

It’s harvested unsustainably
There is a growing demand for coconut products, so trees are being planted in abundance, in non-native climates, to keep up with our demand.  It has been said that these non-native trees push away local wildlife and diminish the quality of soil nutrients.  In addition, some native areas with coconut trees have been destroyed because of overharvesting.  Starbucks inclusion of coconut milk will no doubt drive up the demand for something that is already contributing to deforestation.

It’s not organic
The decision by Starbucks to use coconut that is not organic may impact or health and environment, if only in an indirect way.  While some studies have claimed there isn’t a need for coconuts to be organic, we need to consider that coconut trees can carry diseases and bugs which would mean that chemical fertilizers, pesticides and fungicides would be used in the growing process.  If they don’t end up in the milk itself, they can make their way into water sources and soil in the area.

It’s not fair trade
The fact that Starbucks coconut milk does not have a Fair Trade Certified label and is “Single Origin” points to the likelihood that is produced in one large factory in Sumatra.  Large-scale farming is connected with cheap labor.  It would be ideal if Starbucks went completely fair-trade.

After knowing all of this, you may still want to try a latte with coconut milk, and that’s fine.  But, if you believe this is a healthier, organic, sustainable alternative, you’ll be better off with the ingredient list in mind.

Knowing Your Oats

oats

Some of us have a limited knowledge about the kinds of oats available to us.  Oats are a very nutritious way to begin your day, or even end it.  Sometimes instant oatmeal that comes in packets, is so overly processed and filled with sugar and other sweeteners, that it defeats the purpose of eating a healthy meal of oats.  The varieties are all made from the same grain, but are processed in ways that affect the consistency and cooking times of each.  Listed are the main varieties of oats and their descriptions.

  • Whole oat groats – These are the least processed that can be made into oatmeal. The hull is removed from the whole oat and grain, germ, bran, and endosperm are left.  These take longest to cook of all the oats and must be soaked first.
  • Instant oatmeal –Here the groats are cut into small pieces, steamed and rolled out very flat. They barely need to be cooked–just pour very hot or boiling water over them and they’re ready to eat. They seem to be a childhood favorite.
  • Old fashioned oats – They’re slow cooking, rolled oats. The whole groat has been steamed and rolled to make a flake. Although they’re labeled “slow cooking”, they are faster to prepare than whole oat groats, Scottish oats or steel cut oats.
  • Quick oats– These are rolled out to make flatter oats than old fashioned and steamed for a longer amount of time. The texture is mushier after they’re cooked.
  • Steel cut– They’re whole oat groats that have been chopped into pieces and are just as nutritious as groats. The added benefit is that they cook more quickly than whole oat groats.
  • Scottish oats– They’re almost the same as steel cut oats, except they’re ground and not chopped into pieces. Their consistency is porridge-like.

Now that you know more about the different varieties of oats, go make yourself a warm bowl of them!