Are you loving leeks? Leeks originated in the warmer climates of Asia and the Mediterranean but they are now grown in more temperate climates. They are celebrated as a delicious (and nutritious) ingredient to include in many different dishes. Leeks are a good source of bone-strengthening calcium, iron, and folate. They are also full of vitamin K, vitamin A, and vitamin B6. Like onions, leeks contain compounds that help to lower cholesterol. Kaempferol is the anticancer substance found in leeks. It has been shown to help block the development of cancer-causing compounds in the body. This substance also helps promote good cardiovascular health.
DID YOU KNOW:
- A half cup of chopped, boiled leeks contains only 15 calories!
- Brush your teeth after eating leeks! While they taste great in many different recipes, they do cause bad breath.
I am a berry-addict! I snack on fresh organic berries all of the time and I always add multiple handfuls to my morning smoothies. When they are in season, I love to pick fresh berries or purchase them at my local farmers market. Blackberries are one of my favorite berries because I love their juicy flavor in addition to their amazing health benefits. Blackberries are full of fiber, which helps keep us regular and our digestive system healthy. They are also a good source of magnesium, zinc, iron, and calcium. The deep purple color of these berries is an indicator of compounds (anthocyanins and ellagic acid) that help prevent heart disease, cancers, and signs of aging. These berries have a high content of vitamin E which helps protect our heart and keeps our skin looking and feeling healthy.
DID YOU KNOW:
- Blackberries contain folate which helps promote healthy blood.
- Looking for a boost of vitamin C? Blackberries fit the bill while keeping our immune system strong.
Bored with lemons? Give limes a shot! I love citrus fruits and nothing beats a fresh splash of lime in a cold glass of water! The amazing zesty flavor is perfect for that mid-morning pick-me-up. Limes are popular all around the world and are found primarily in the tropical regions. Famous for helping with scurvy, limes can help speed up the body’s natural healing process. High in vitamin C, limes are great for boosting the immune system and protecting the eyes. They are also good sources of folate, calcium and potassium. Limes have strong anti-viral properties and help in fighting off “bad” bacteria. The folate found in limes has been shown to keep cholesterol levels low and prevent heart disease. The high amount of potassium found in limes makes the juice beneficial for removing wastes. Try drinking lime juice and water when involved in a detoxification program.
DID YOU KNOW:
- Limes are a good source of fiber which is important for keeping our digestive system healthy.
- Rejuvenate your skin with a splash of lime juice. This has been known to help with dandruff, bruises, and rashes.
Did you know that parsley is a powerful little plant full of amazing health benefits? It’s dark green color comes from the chlorophyll content which makes it good for cleansing the body. Parsley is an excellent source of vitamins K, A, C, folate, and iron. It also contains some bone-building calcium and heart-healthy potassium. If you suffer from bad breath, try chewing on a sprig of parsley! It has a long history of being used as a natural breath freshener. Parsley also contains some tryptophan, it can help promote sleepiness at night. Parsley is also a good source of free-radical fighting manganese.
Ok, I will admit it. Up until about three years ago, I had never tasted bok choy in my life. It just wasn’t a common vegetable that I would think to include in my diet! Once I tried it, I was hooked! Today, I probably prepare one meal a week with bok choy as either a side dish or included with the main entrée. It has a fantastic texture and a very smooth taste. Bok choy is in the same family as cabbage, broccoli, kale, and Brussels sprouts and is full of healing properties. Studies have shown that bok choy can reduce the risk of lung cancer in nonsmokers by 30 percent and in smokers by 69 percent! Bok choy is a good source of calcium, a nutrient needed to keep our bones, teeth, and joints healthy. This vegetable has also been shown to promote good heart health and optimal brain function. Bok choy is a good source of vitamin C, a nutrient needed to keep our immune system strong.
DID YOU KNOW:
- Bok choy is full of beta-carotene that can be converted to vitamin A to help reduce the signs of aging.
- Bok choy helps the liver in detoxification and protects it from the effects of stress, pollution, and aging factors in our modern environment.
Swiss chard has been known for its health-promoting properties since the time of the ancient Greeks and Romans. It is one of the more popular vegetables in the Mediterranean region but it is slowly gaining popularity here in the United States. Both the roots and the leaves of Swiss chard contain good amounts of vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, and fiber. Swiss chard is an excellent source of vitamin C which has been shown to reduce the risk of colon cancer. For those who do not drink dairy, Swiss chard is an excellent source of calcium, magnesium, and vitamin K. This makes the vegetable a good food for building strong bones. Swiss chard is also full of potassium and combined with the magnesium, this makes it a good food for the heart. It is also an excellent source of vitamin A because of its concentration of beta-carotene. These are important nutrients in promoting healthy eyes and good vision.
DID YOU KNOW:
- Overcooking Swiss chard can cause it to loss 50 percent of its nutrients. It is a rather delicate vegetable, so when cooking it, try to keep it al dente.
- Recent studies show that Swiss chard is rich in lutein and zeaxanthin, two nutrients that help to promote healthy eyes.
The fleshy green spears of asparagus are both succulent and tender and have been considered a delicacy since ancient times. It was thought to be cultivated in ancient Egypt with varieties discovered in northern and southern Africa. Today, asparagus is cultivated in most subtropical and temperate parts of the world with the majority of commercially available asparagus grown in United States, Mexico, Peru, France, Spain and other Mediterranean countries. Asparagus is loaded with nutrients like vitamin A, C, and K. It’s also full of folate, B vitamins, dietary fiber, manganese, and iron. Asparagus is a good food for promoting a healthy heart, good digestion, and strong bones. It’s also considered a diuretic due to it’s mineral profile combined with the amino acid asparagine. Asparagus helps to give your immune system strong with it’s nutrient content that fights off free-radicals. The most nutritious way to prepare your asparagus is to saute it for about five minutes. You can also grill or broil the stalks and add sea salt, pepper, and olive oil for added flavor.
DID YOU KNOW:
- If you suffer from PMS, asparagus may be useful in preventing water retention associated with “that time of the month”.
- Historically, asparagus was used to treat problems such as arthritis and swelling.
In the mood for a tropical tasting smoothie? Get ready to enjoy this delicious concoction, full of health-promoting nutrients. Kiwi fruit is loaded with immune-boosting vitamin C in addition to copper, magnesium, and manganese. Watermelon is a great source of vitamin A and heart-healthy potassium. I like to add kefir to this smoothie for a nice boost of probiotics. Give this recipe a try today!
Tropical Immunity Booster with Kiwifruit and Kefir
- 1 C watermelon (no seeds)
- 2 kiwifruit (peeled)
- 1 C kefir
- 1/4 C organic mango or passion fruit juice (optional)
Add all ingredients to your blender and process until smooth. Pour into a tall glass and serve. Enjoy!
Don’t just eat cranberries on Thanksgiving! These beautiful red berries are loaded with nutrients including vitamin C, vitamin K, and manganese. Cranberries are also a good source of digestive-friendly fiber. Cranberries contain nutrients that help prevent urinary tract infections and kidney stone formation. They are also a good berry for promoting a healthy heart. In addition to all of this, cranberries are loaded with antioxidants to help our body fight harmful free radicals. Add some raw cranberries to your smoothie today!
Love to munch on nuts for a healthy snack? Consider eating walnuts are they are high in healthy omega-3 fatty acids. These fatty acids are important for promoting a healthy heart and can provide the body with anti-inflammatory benefits. These nuts are also a good source of manganese, copper, and sleep-promoting tryptophan. Researchers have recently discovered compounds in walnuts that not only protect our cells from free radical damage, but helps to detoxify potential cancer-causing substances from our system.