Posted on Leave a comment

Eat the Rainbow

When planning meals, an easy way to choose vegetables and fruit to help build a nourishing meal, is to ‘Eat the Rainbow’. It can be overwhelming trying to make a meal that is delicious and has the nutrients you need to stay strong. Nature meets us part way by color coding fruit and vegetables. The different colors give us an idea of the phytonutrients a vegetable or fruit has more of. While phytonutrients are not essential to survival, they do help us fight disease and improve our overall wellness like in the case of antioxidants (https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/phytonutrients-paint-your-plate-with-the-colors-of-the-rainbow-2019042516501).

How to select fruits and vegetables to nourish your body and mind.

If you are not sure which vegetables to choose use the follow tips (color, variety, and in-season) to keep your meals balanced and interesting:

Choose vegetables and fruit that vary in color. Include reds, yellow, purples, greens, dark greens, whites and so on. Differently colored veggies and fruit are richer in certain minerals and nutrients than others. For example, dark veggies like beets and dark leafy greens like spinach or kale are higher in antioxidants which helps our bodies fight mutated cells that can damage our bodies significantly. Vegetables and fruit that are yellow or orange help promote intracellular communication. This isn’t to say that we don’t get tons of other benefits from any of the vegetables and fruit. Planning your meals by a range of colors is an easy way to ensure we get more of what we need over time.

Mix it up by choosing different vegetables and fruit from week to week or month to month. No need to make it complicated, just choose one or two new items a week or month. Variety gives your body a larger selection of phytonutrients, nutrients and minerals and creates a more robust system for fighting disease and staying strong. Mixing things up keeps our meals interesting and I find that stepping out of my routine and learning about new foods and how to cook different foods helps my brain stay strong. Our brains, like our bodies, are made to be used. Exercising the brain by learning and doing new things goes a long way to help brain plasticity and new brain growth (https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/train-your-brain). So even though this may seem like a really minor change, every little bit adds up.

Buy vegetables and fruit in-season as much as possible. Buying in-season has two main benefits: it’s an easy way to mix things up and get variety and in-season produce tends to be locally grown, which can mean it is fresher (especially if you shop at a local farmer’s market), supports your local economy, and can be better for the environment since it hasn’t had to travel as far.

Posted on Leave a comment

Oregano

Oregano is a perennial herb that is part of the mint family. The leaves can be used in cooking fresh or dried. There are many different varieties including sweet marjoram. Oregano can be used to top off your entree by stripping the leaves atop your food or by using the entire stem when baking so it can be removed later. Oregano is packed with flavor, nutrients and minerals.

How Can Oregano Benefit Your Health?

Fresh oregano is a great antibacterial agent. It has phytonutrients which can help to fight infections. It’s loaded with antioxidants that help prevent cell damage, and is an excellent source of Fiber, Vitamin K (1) (helps with wound healing and bone health), Manganese(4) (a mineral that aids in functions such as metabolism, blood sugar regulation, and decreasing inflammation), Iron (2) (3) (aids in protecting vital functions including energy levels and our immune system), Vitamin E, and Calcium. Simply adding a tablespoon of fresh oregano leaves to your meals regularly can contribute needed micronutrients and minerals to your diet.

How to Use Oregano

There are many ways to get creative with herbs. They can be used as toppings, for baking casseroles, and in salads to name a few. The more you use fresh herbs the more creative you will be with what dishes to add them to and when combining different herbs. Fresh or dried oregano can be used to top you pizza, pasta, or other entrees. I often integrate oregano as well as many other herbs such as thyme and cilantro into my salads. The entire stem (including the leaves) can be used when cooking potatoes and other vegetables as well as chicken or burgers. When we made soy burgers this summer we incorporated fresh herbs into the patty mixture prior to cooking so that the flavor was infused into the soy burger while cooking

Note: this article is intended to inspire the use of fresh herbs in home cooking. This article is not intended as medical advice. It is important to consult with your physician prior to making changes in your diet or if you have concerns about using a new ingredient.

Posted on Leave a comment

Garden Fresh Herbs

Using fresh herbs in your meals daily is a natural and easy way to nourish your body and add tremendous flavor to your meals. Over time making herbs a part of you daily life in addition to fruits and vegetables can protect your immune system in many ways, improve your energy levels and mood, and add tremendous flavor to your meals. Every little bit of fresh (ideally chemical free) herbs and vegetables contribute to overall improved health and vitality. Herbs can be used in many ways to enhance your meals. You can use them fresh, dried, infuse them into oils or even freeze them.

Freeze Fresh Herbs

Cooking with fresh herbs can take a meal to new heights. However, for those of us who live in temperate climates it is harder to find fresh herbs for several months out of the year. We grow fresh herbs on our mini family farm and in order to make the most use of what we grow and to have fresh herbs to cook with all winter I like to freeze our herbs. To do this you’ll need a vacuum sealer which is fairly easy to use and is great for many different types of foods.

  1. Harvest the herbs.
  2. Wash the leaves so that all dirt and soil is removed.
  3. Pat the leaves dry.
  4. Remove the leaves from the stem. For herbs with smaller leaves like rosemary or thyme, can hold the branch upside down, hold the stem with your thumb, index finger, and middle finger. Slide these fingers up the stem going against the direction that the leaves are growing. The leaves will slide right off the stem. This makes harvesting leaves many times easier than trying to pick each leaf one at a time
  5. Add the herbs to a vacuum bag and vacuum seal. Depending on the type of herb it can last several months in the freezer.

Note: this article is intended to inspire the use of fresh herbs in home cooking. This article is not intended as medical advice. It is important to consult with your physician prior to making changes in your diet or if you have concerns about using a new ingredient.