Bell Peppers 101: Raw, Roasted, Grilled, Sautéed, Stuffed, Baked…
*Read that in Bubba from Forrest Gump voice*
They smell great when they hit the heat and visually they make any entree look even more appetizing. In other words, they get the senses going!
Red, Green & Yellow are the most common colors, with each offering slightly different nutritional benefits. (We know what differences, right? 😎 - refer to Produce 101)
Food For Thought:
Bell Peppers have A LOT of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants - so many that they are tied to combating cancer, heart disease and other illnesses down to the common cold.
There are a couple cautions about Bell Peppers that you should be aware of:
Fun Facts about Bell Peppers:
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The antioxidant, anti-inflammatory machine of goodness in a bite sized treat. The ever vibrant blueberry is one of the premier superfoods you should surely know more about.
It’s most abundant vitamin? It comes in at 36% of your daily value, Vitamin K. (extremely important in preventing blood clotting)
Fruit For Thought
If I told you the profile of a blueberry, in addition to vitamin K you’d be shocked!
All that in such a tiny fruit, Barrington? Yep
Niacin, iron, vitamin A, pantothenic acid, zinc, folate, magnesium and phosphorus….
*Ace Ventura breath*
Add on compounds: resveratrol, anthocyanin, phytonutrients and pterostilbene!
Now you know why they call the Blueberry a Superfood.
Fun Facts about the Blueberry:
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Mango 101: If we’re talking personal favorites, the mango ( which I list as God candy #1) is easily top 3 on almost everyone's list. This tropical fruit which is usually named the most widely consumed fruit in the world, packs in more than 20 vitamins and minerals!
Fruit For Thought:
There are numerous health benefits to eating mangoes. In addition to them being ridiculously delicious mangoes have a lot of good to give us. Lowering blood pressure and Blood sugar levels, it’s a very important food in helping combat the obesity crisis. No it won’t magically lead to weight loss but it does have a positive effect on blood glucose. Cancer blockers, Eye Health, Brain Function, the list goes on and on.
There are a few cautions about Mangoes you should be aware of:
Fun Facts about Mangoes:
Broccoli 101: There’s a reason why cruciferous vegetables like broccoli were given to us since childhood whether we liked the taste or not - They’re packed with an incredible amount of fiber, vitamins (especially Vitamin K), minerals and anti-cancer antioxidants! Loved around the world, broccoli is part of almost all popular cuisines.
Food For Thought:
Broccoli is one of the “newer” vegetables - native to the Eastern Mediterranean, brought to England around mid 18th century but didn’t get hip to the US until the 1920’s.
Some folks will argue (I’ve also seen a few “woke” memes) that because broccoli is a hybrid man-made vegetable, we shouldn’t eat it.
To them I say:
1. After all these years you’re still trying to find a way to not eat your broccoli, smh.
2. Hybrid fruits and vegetables are created by cross-pollinating two closely related species of the same genus or two cultivars/varieties within the same species. Technically, every fruit/vegetable if you traced back far enough is a natural hybrid.
Random natural hybridization which happens all the time is essentially how new species of plants arise – over time. Artificial hybridization like broccoli, operates on the same principle as natural hybridization, only with authorial intent.
3. There’s a difference, a huge difference, between hybridization of fruits/vegetables and GMO (Genetically Modified Organisms) fruits/vegetables. “GMOs involve the combining of DNA molecules from disparate sources into a single molecule to form a new set of genes. The organism that receives this new DNA molecule gets modified, or new, genes, including ones that improve a plant’s hardiness, imbue it with powerful endogenous pesticides and/or herbicides, to lengthen its shelf life - that’s not what broccoli is about.
4. Yes, if you want to keep arguing, certain hybrids can be created by Dr. Evil to have an increase in not so great things, like gluten. But is that the case with Broccoli? Nah. So “it’s a hybrid vegetable” is not a valid reason to not eat it, especially when *Refer to all the benefits of broccoli*.
Now that we got that out the way, let’s go to a couple noteworthy broccoli concerns:
1. Go as local as possible: If possible always choose organic broccoli. Broccoli is usually one of the most chemically sprayed vegetables each year. Eat the entire vegetable, stalk included, not just the floret (head) and to preserve the most nutrients - choose a steaming cooking method.
2. Thyroid Concern: Not to fear according to the research, it would take a large amount of cruciferous vegetables to cause any type of hypothyroidism. It also appears to be a risk primarily for people who have an existing iodine deficiency.
Last Word: Eat up! I only listed 3 health benefits but I could have easily run off 10+, Enjoy!
Carrots 101: Raw, cooked, juiced - carrots are one of the most delicious versatile vegetables to help improve your relationship with food. Although popularized by its orange color, carrots come in a variety of shades - which is caused by their antioxidants, called carotenoids.
Food for thought:
One of those lovely carotenoids is Beta Carotene. Many studies have shown that beta carotene is crucial for improving immunity in the body, protecting skin and eye health (momma wasn’t lying), and fighting free radical damage that can cause various forms of chronic diseases like cancer and heart disease.
Here’s a quick snapshot of the nutrient variations between carrot colors. They all are good for you so feel free to mix it up if you see a selection at your market.
Orange: Beta and alpha carotene pigment. This promotes vitamin A production by the body, which is essential for healthy eyes.
Purple: Anthocyanin, beta and alpha carotene pigment. Purple carrots typically have an orange core, and their pigment-related nutrients may provide additional vitamin A and prevent heart disease.
Red: Lycopene and beta-carotene pigment. Lycopene is the same red pigment that gives tomatoes their deep color and is linked to a lower risk of certain cancers, such as prostate cancer.
Yellow: Xanthophylls (I spell checked 100x) and lutein. Both are linked to cancer prevention and better eye health.
White: The nutrients don’t come from the pigment but from the fiber, which promotes healthy digestion.
Go Organic + Go Whole: Baby carrots are usually rinsed with chlorine so if avoidable, why not. Also, residual levels of toxic pesticides are found at much higher levels in conventionally grown carrots than in organic carrots and according to research carrots are usually in the top 25 of the most popular fruits and vegetables to have been contaminated.
Last Word: Prepare your carrots in different ways. Raw, highest fiber - Cooked, higher antioxidants - Juiced, eases digestion (but also most sugar) - they each hold different benefits and are delicious! I should give you my mommas Jamaican carrot juice recipe but maybe next time.
Brown Rice 101: A nutrient dense, gluten free "good" carb. Brown rice is full of nutrients like manganese, selenium, magnesium, phosphorus and B vitamins, add that with all its fiber and protein; the results hold significant health benefits if eaten in moderation.
Food for thought:
1. All rice is NOT created equal. Black Rice is the most nutrient dense of all rice & white rice basically has zero nutritional benefit. The only caveat with eating black rice over brown rice, it’s higher in calories per serving. That could work against you if your goal is weight loss.
2. “B, I heard brown something about rice and arsenic.” You’re right. Arsenic in rice is a growing concern. But before you begin to freak out… What’s Arsenic? “Arsenic is an element in the earth’s crust that’s naturally found in the air, water and soil, so the fact that it is in rice isn’t entirely alarming. Arsenic can however also be a result of human activity, such as mining or the use of certain pesticides. There are two types of arsenic: organic (in the biological sense) and inorganic. Inorganic arsenic is the kind that’s dangerous and is associated with adverse health effects ― and it’s the kind that’s present in rice, which is why you might want to moderate your rice intake. Arsenic finds its way into food because it’s absorbed by the plant as it grows. Some plants absorb more than others, and rice seems to absorb the most among commonly eaten foods.”
Here’s how you lessen the arsenic in your rice...
Before cooking brown rice, at the least you always should make sure to rinse it and remove any debris. This will help ridding the arsenic. Also, soak and sprout your brown rice before cooking it. This decreases allergens and phytic acid content while increasing the absorption of nutrients (You can buy already sprouted brown rice).
To rid more arsenic, you simply need to cook your rice with more water than usual. A 6:1 water-to-rice ratio, similar to how you cook pasta will drastically decrease the arsenic in your rice (about 60%).
See if you can purchase Organic brown rice grown in areas that have been found to produce rice with less arsenic like California, India or Pakistan.
STILL anti rice?
Amaranth, buckwheat, millet and polenta have almost no levels of arsenic. Bulgur, barley, and farro have very low levels. Quinoa has lower levels than rice.
Portion control: The suggested serving size of brown rice is one cup (8 oz.)
Last Word: In moderation, brown rice can be a healthy, nutrient-rich addition to the menu.