Smart Health

All Things Pineapple

Freshly picked selection:

Pineapple

Pineapple

Pineapple gets its name because it resembles a pine cone. It is native to Central and South America, however, most pineapples today are grown in Hawaii. Pineapples have long been used to symbolize hospitality.

When it’s in season:

March – July

What to look for when purchasing:

Choose pineapples that are slightly soft to the touch, with a full, strong color and no signs of greening. The leaves should be crisp and green with no yellow brown tips. Avoid pineapples with dark spots.

         How to store:         

Refrigerate fresh pineapple tightly wrapped for up to 3 days. If it’s slightly under ripe, keeping it at room temperature for a few days can help ripen it.

Varieties:

There are three different varieties of pineapple. Cayenne pineapples are longer and more cylindrical, with leaves sprouting from a single tuft. The Red Spanish pineapple is short and rounder in shape, and the leaves radiate from several tufts. There is a third variety called Sugar Loaf which is much larger and grown in Mexico. It does not ship well so it is rarely available in the US.

How to prepare:

Pineapples can be cut by first cutting off the top and bottom, and then cutting along the sides to remove the skin. The core of the pineapple is very fibrous, but it is edible. Pineapple is usually enjoyed raw but can be cooked to add additional flavor.

Nutritional Benefits:

Pineapple Recipes to try:

Pineapple makes a great addition to a chicken dish for added sweetness. This simple recipe by Diet Hood only has a few ingredients. Feel free to substitute fresh pineapple in place of the canned pineapple.

Hawaiian Baked Chicken

For something a little more unique, check out this cucumber salad with pineapple from Mom On Time Out

Pineapple Cucumber Salad

For a  breakfast that tastes like dessert, check out this overnight oats recipe from Flavor The Moments.

Piña Colada Chia Overnight Oats

Our Nutritionist Say:

“I slice my pineapple, sprinkle it with cinnamon, and grill it or put it in a pan on medium heat for a few minutes for a tasty, healthy sweet treat.” – Jen Mahama, Nutrition Advisor

 

All Things Peas

Freshly picked selection:

Green Peas

Green peas are part of the legume family, where the plants bear fruit in the form of pods that hold seeds, and are we know as beans. Green peas are one of the few legumes that are typically sold and eaten fresh instead of dried.

When it’s in season:

March– April and August- November

What to look for when purchasing:

Fresh green peas are not very common, as most peas are sold canned or frozen. If you are buying fresh green peas in the pods look for pods that are firm and smooth. The color should be a lively green. Avoid ones that are yellow or have gray spots and avoid puffy pods. Peas should fit nicely in the pod but make some noise when shaken. If they are purchased out of the pod, be sure they are green in color, firm, and not slimy.

If you can’t find fresh peas it is recommended to buy frozen over canned as canned peas are usually very high in sodium.

           How to store:         

If they are in the pods, peas should be kept in a plastic bag for no more than 2-3 days. Fresh peas out of the pod should be kept refrigerated as well, for no more than 3 days before cooked.

How to prepare:

If you purchase them still in the pod, it is best to shell them right before you use them. You can add peas to boiling water and boil for a few minutes, or they can be steamed. They can be eaten alone as a side or added to other dishes.

Nutritional Benefits:
Nutritional_Benefits_of_green_pea

Recipes to try:

Buckwheat isn’t a common grain for most people, but it’s super tasty. Despite it’s name it is actually gluten free so it is a great option for people avoiding gluten. Love this hearty recipe from My Goodness Kitchen

Green Pea Buckwheat Risotto

Did you know that you can make hummus from green peas?  Check out this recipe from Virtually Homemade that is a green spin on classic hummus.

Green Pea Hummus

Another spin on a classic recipe is this green pea pesto from Nutritionist Meets Chef , where you use green peas instead of basil. This would go great on top of gluten free pasta or even quinoa.

Oregano Green Pea Pesto

Our Chefs Say:

“There is nothing better than fresh English peas as a healthy side or in a classic risotto.” –Megan Huard, Chef RD

All Things Carrots

Freshly picked selection:

Carrot

carrots

Carrots are actually a member of the parsley family with their green leafy tops, though most people only eat the orange root part.

When it’s in season:

Year-round

What to look for when purchasing:

If you are buying carrots with the green tops you want to make sure the leaves are bright green. Carrots should be firm and smooth. Avoid carrots that have cracks.

            How to store:         

If you purchase carrots with green tops, remove the tops as soon as possible as it can rob the roots of moisture and vitamins. It is best to store carrots in a plastic bag in the refrigerator. Be sure to wash carrots well. Most people peel them but the skin is edible.

Varieties:

There are many different varieties of carrots. Orange is of course the most familiar, but there are rainbow carrots that are maroon, white, or purple, as well as baby carrots.

How to prepare:

Carrots can be eaten raw or cooked. You can eat them with the peel on or you can peel them, if you prefer.  They are delicious raw, steamed, or roasted.

 Nutritional Benefits:

Carrots

Recipes to try:

Carrots are rarely, if ever, part of breakfast but with this overnight oats recipe from BeWholeBeYou you will be hooked on having veggies for breakfast.

Carrot Cake Overnight Oats

We love this carrot cilantro soup from Pritikin Longevity Center . It has very simple ingredients, but is packed full of flavor.

Carrot Cilantro Soup 

Carrots are delicious when roasted, as it brings out their sweetness. This roasted carrot recipe from Family-Friends-Food.com adds a tasty spin to roasted carrots.

Roasted Carrot with Orange & Ginger

Our Chefs Say:

“My favorite way to eat carrots is steamed and then drizzled with a little bit of honey and some fresh thyme.” –Megan, Chef RD

Eating to Improve Focus and Concentration

Eating to Improve Focus and concentration

Did you know that was even possible?! Yup, it is! What you eat, or in most cases what you are not eating, has an impact on focus and energy levels. If you’re feeling foggy-headed, fatigued, or struggling to keep your concentration, continue reading to see what may be missing from your eating pattern that could help.

Balanced Meals

First things first, you need to ensure you are “CPF-ing” your meals and snacks. Hmm, ok that sounds a little inappropriate, but it really just means having a balanced eating pattern! CPF stands for carbohydrate, protein, and fat, the three macronutrients crucial in keeping the body functioning effectively and keeping blood glucose (sugar) levels balanced. When blood glucose levels are balanced, we feel good, are not hungry, have energy, focus, and the brain is receiving fuel. So where are these macronutrients found and how do they affect blood sugar levels? Here is a quick breakdown:

– Carbohydrates like whole grains, fresh fruit, legumes, dairy products, and starchy vegetables fuel the body with the energy needed to function. They also influence the “feel good” neurotransmitter, serotonin, in our brain. When serotonin is in adequate supply, we tend to feel relaxed, soothed, calm, we sleep well and we do not crave foods. However, if carbohydrates are consumed alone, the energy given is momentary as the body’s blood glucose levels fall about an hour after eating them. So while they can be satisfying in the moment, we need other macronutrients to help maintain blood glucose in balance.

– This brings us to protein which will be found in foods like meat, fish, nuts, seeds and beans. Protein tends to raise dopamine levels in our brain which is the “energy and focus enhancer” neurotransmitter.  So, when it is in adequate supply, we tend to be more awake, alert and able to focus. Protein also helps to mute the release of glucose from carbohydrates consumed, so it slows the rise and drop of glucose.

– Lastly, we have fat. Healthy fats such as avocado, nuts and seeds will help delay the glucose rise over a longer period of time, thus it helps keep us more alert and focused.

If you want to learn more about how “CPF” works, check out our blog post about the topic here.

Micronutrients

Now that you know how important the “macro” nutrients are, we cannot leave the “micro” ones behind because they are just as important! Micronutrients (vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids) facilitate functions happening in our body 24/7. There are too many of these little guys to go into too much detail, but here are some main ones to have on your radar:

1) B-vitamins include thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, folate, B6, and B12. The B- vitamins are known for their supporting role with energy. Good thing is you are likely getting most of them as much of our food supply is fortified with B-vitamins. Protein sources such as beef, chicken, and fish as well as leafy green vegetables are the highest natural sources for B-Vitamins

2) Minerals like magnesium, zinc, and iron support the body’s nerve function as well as immune system, and most people aren’t getting enough of these micronutrients. Foods like dark leafy greens (spinach, swiss chard), cocoa, pumpkin seeds and legumes are rich in these nutrients.

3) Omega 3s are essential, meaning they body does not produce them on its own, therefore we must get them from our food or quality supplementation. Omega 3s keep our cells permeable, so nutrient transfer in and out of the cell is more efficient. Best sources of these fatty acids comes from fatty fish- salmon, cod, sardines, or mackerel. Foods like walnuts, chia, flax, and hemp seeds are also good sources of Omega 3s.

4) Antioxidants such as beta carotene found in pumpkins and carrots, lycopene found in tomatoes and watermelon, vitamin E found in avocado and nuts, and flavonoids found in green tea, play a role in not just in preventing disease, but also enhancing brain function.

5) Probiotics are last, but certainly not least. Aside from being vital for the health of our digestive system, they also produce chemicals that stimulate parts of the brain responsible for attention and memory, as well as certain microorganisms that help produce neurotransmitters. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, our gut is directly connected to our brain! Fermented foods will be the best sources of probiotics: plain organic yogurts, sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha, kefir, apple cider vinegar, organic tempeh. Supplementation may also be recommended, and a nutrition expert can guide you to the best options.


In a nut shell, if you are feeling groggy and brain-fogged, double check that you are “CPF-ing” your meals and snacks and make sure that what you are eating is nutrient dense. Minimally processed foods will get you the most bang for your food buck when it comes to getting necessary nutrients needed to keep you energized and alert!

And for those looking for a quick and convenient way to incorporate what we talked about today, check out this simple breakfast option for Cinnamon Coconut Chia Pudding.

Or, try our 5-minute recipe for Avocado Toast. If you are not part of the Avo Toast trend yet… you are totally missing out, just sayin’!


Basilia Theofilou is a contributor on our blog as well as one of the nutrition advisors here at PreviMedica. You can read more about her here.

The Power of Herbs and Spices

spices-1106447_960_720

We all know that herbs and spices add flavor to our food, but long before they were used for flavor, they were used for curing ailments, healing wounds, and many other therapeutic purposes.  Each herb and spice has its own set of healthful properties and benefits and many we are still learning about. Let’s talk about a few that you probably have on a regular basis: oregano, parsley, cinnamon, and ginger.

Herbs

oregano-1511627_960_720Oregano has been used in Mediterranean and Mexican cuisine for centuries.  It is more commonly seen dried; however, fresh oregano packs a very pungent punch.  Whether you eat it fresh or dried, it still has plenty of health benefits.  Studies have shown that oregano and oregano oil has the highest antioxidant capacity out of all of the common herbs due to its rosmarinic acid and thymol content.  It is also a very effective anti-microbial/anti-bacterial when in oil form.  Oregano is also a stimulation agent, which can speed up white blood cells therefore boosting the immune system. It can also stimulate digestion and even stimulate your metabolism! Since it is full of fiber and many other vitamins and minerals, it pays to sprinkle oregano onto as many meals as you can.

PreviMedica recipes that contain oregano: Anti-Inflammatory Kale Salad

Petroselinum_crispum_003Native to the Mediterranean region, parsley is often overlooked as a plate garnish but a true powerhouse when it comes to nutrition. It is full of specific flavonoids that function as antioxidants. It also contains vitamin C, vitamin K, folic acid, and vitamin A.  For centuries it was used as a palate cleanser, breath freshener, and digestive aid. When cooking with parsley, it should be rinsed, chopped and added to your dish right before serving, in order to retain its vital nutrients.

PreviMedica recipes that contain parsley: Best Dairy Free Ranch Dressing, Herbed Potato Salad

Spicescinnamon

There are two types of cinnamon to be aware of, Ceylon and cassia. Cassia cinnamon istypically the cinnamon you will see on your supermarket shelf, while Ceylon is a bit harder to find.  Cinnamon is extremely high in antioxidants, surpassing garlic and oregano.  It is a powerful anti-inflammatory spice and contains impressive anti-bacterial properties.  Research has shown that cinnamon can help improve blood sugar levels due to the fact that it can assist in increasing insulin sensitivity.  In fact, just smelling this sweet spice boosts brain activity!  Lucky for most, cinnamon is very easy to incorporate into your daily routine.  Whether you sprinkle it on your oatmeal or add it for a boost of sweetness to your sauces, the possibilities are endless!

PreviMedica recipes that contain cinnamon: Butternut Squash Chickpea Soup, Apple Quinoa Bites, No-Bake Pumpkin Spice Bites

ginger-1388002_960_720Ginger is a spice that is commonly used in ground form, but can easily be found fresh.  Not to mention the flavor of fresh ginger is completely different than its ground counterpart.  Ginger is known for its ability to soothe an upset belly and is also an effective anti-nausea aid. Ginger contains anti-inflammatory compounds called gingerols that can also improve arthritis symptoms in people that have osteoarthritis and even rheumatoid arthritis.  Interestingly enough, ginger can also promote healthy sweating, making it beneficial to include in your eating pattern when you have a virus.

Obviously, we all need to be working more herbs and spices into our food repertoire.  They contribute little to no calories and pack a huge punch of flavor and health benefits.  So sprinkle away!  A little flavor is just what your next meal needs.

PreviMedica recipes that contain ginger: Mango Curry Chicken, Gingerbread Roasted NutsCranberry Orange Turkey

References:

“7 Wonderful Benefits of Oregano.” Organic Facts. N.p., 10 Mar. 2017. Web. 20 Mar. 2017. <https://www.organicfacts.net/health-benefits/oregano.html>. Nordqvist, Joseph.
“Oregano: Health Benefits, Side Effects.” Medical News Today. MediLexicon International, n.d. Web. 20 Mar. 2017. <http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/266259.php>.
“Parsley.” Parsley. The World’s Healthiest Foods, n.d. Web. 20 Mar. 2017. <http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?dbid=100&tname=foodspice>.
“Ginger.” World’s Healthiest Foods. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Mar. 2017. <http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=72>.
“Cinnamon, ground.” World’s Healthiest Foods. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Mar. 2017. <http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=68>.
“10 Evidence-Based Health Benefits of Cinnamon.” Authority Nutrition. N.p., 18 Aug. 2016. Web. 21 Mar. 2017. <https://authoritynutrition.com/10-proven


Stefanie Gates is a contributor on our blog as well as a culinary advisor here at PreviMedica. She develops recipes, teaches cooking, and creates cooking videos as a member of PreviMedica’s culinary team. You can read more about her here.

World Water Day

Water (3 of 9)

March 22nd is World Water Day! As I’m sure many of you know, staying well hydrated is crucial for our bodies. Severe dehydration is known to cause several health problems including shock and unconsciousness, but did you know that even mild dehydration can cause symptoms? Some of them include: headaches, low energy, irritability, poor circulation, reduced physical performance, and reduced cognitive function. Two thirds of our body is water, so it makes sense that even mild dehydration can affect us.

How much fluid do we need? Is it the 8 glasses per day so commonly heard?  Actually, for children and adolescents up to the age of 15, fluid needs increase with weight. After that our fluid needs per pound of body weight decrease as we get older. So a 20 year old man weighing 180 pounds will have a basic fluid need of 111 ounces per day, while a 110 pound 67 year old woman would have a basic fluid need of 42 ounces per day. If you are unsure of how much your daily fluid goal is, be sure to ask your PreviMedica nutrition advisor.

Notice that I used the word “fluid”, instead of water. That is because all fluids: juices, milk, herbal teas, broths, and other non-caffeinated beverages count towards our fluid goal. The reason I say “non-caffeinated” is because caffeine works as a diuretic, meaning it flushes fluid out from our bodies, so it tends to work against our hydration.

So should we all reach out for juices and soft drinks to meet our fluid needs? Not exactly. Water is always going to be the best source of fluid.  It provides hydration without the calories, sodium, or additives that many other beverages have. We also get asked a lot about sports drinks since these are often marketed to children. Unless you are exercising for more than an hour at moderate or high intensity, they are not necessary. Many times they contain dyes and other unfavorable ingredients, so if you do need a sports drink, ask our nutrition advisor for an easy recipe you can make at home. One other tip: consuming foods with a high water content such as fruits and vegetables, also contributes to our fluid intake.

Now that you know the why, let’s talk about the how. For many of us drinking enough water is tough. Here are a few tips you can try:

  • Take a stainless steel water bottle to work or school may help [pick up the stainless steel bottle].
  • Set a timer as a reminder to drink up. There are apps on many cell phones that can help you as well.
  • Add a little flavor to your water. You can do this by adding a slice of lemon, orange or any other preferred fruit. Berries, cucumber, and herbs like mint also work nicely. You can also get an infuser water bottle and add the fruit of your choice.

For children you may need to get a little more creative:

  • Let them choose their own fun water bottle.
  • Use BPA-free fun-shaped ice cube trays. Or freeze fruit into the ice cubes for a boost of flavor.
  • You can also make drinking water a game. Fill a pitcher with the amount of fluid your child needs for the day. Every time they drink fluid, pour out an equal amount from the pitcher. If they are at home all day, you may want to mark the pitcher with several lines and the times by which they need to drink a certain amount of fluid. [show pitcher]

Something you might not know is that plastic bottles are labeled with a recycling triangle symbol with a number [show a plastic water bottle]. Numbers 2, 4, and 5 are generally considered “safe.” Numbers 3, 6, and 7 should be avoided. Number 1 bottles are recommended for one time use only, so they should not be refilled. Remember, a reusable stainless steel bottle will still be your best choice if you’re trying to save money and the environment. Bottoms up!

HydrationTips


Idequiz Valdes is a contributor on our blog as well as one of the nutrition advisors here at PreviMedica. You can read more about her here.

All Things Broccoli

Freshly picked selection:

Broccoli

Broccoli

The name Broccoli comes from the Italian word for “cabbage sprout” as broccoli is a relative of cabbage. As part of the cruciferous family it is known for its nutritional benefits.

When it’s in season:

October-April

What to look for when purchasing:

Choose heads of broccoli that have tightly closed floret clusters that are dark green or purplish in color. Stalks and stems should be firm and leaves should be attached, vibrant, and not wilted.

         How to store:         

Store in the refrigerator, unwashed in an airtight bag for up to 10 days.

Varieties:

Calabrese broccoli is the most common variety and the one we see in most grocery stores. There is also a sprouting broccoli which is not as common and a purple cauliflower that is a type of broccoli. Secondly, there are other vegetables in the same family like broccolini (a cross between broccoli and Chinese kale) and broccoli raab, also known as rapini that can be prepared and enjoyed in a similar manner to broccoli.

How to prepare:

Before cutting make sure to rinse well in cold water. To preserve nutrients, do not soak broccoli.

While most people only eat the florets, the entire head of broccoli including the stems and leaves are edible. If the stem is extremely fibrous you may want to use a vegetable peeler to remove the outer layer before eating.

Broccoli can be eaten raw or cooked.

Nutritional Benefits:

Broccoli

Recipes to try:

 We’re a little biased for this one but we love our Anti-Inflammatory Salad that is packed with broccoli:

Anti-Inflammatory Kale Salad 

For another raw broccoli option that utilizes the stems of the broccoli which most people toss out, check out this recipe from With Food And Love that boost simple, fresh, and tasty ingredients:

Broccoli Stem Salad with Lemony Vinaigrette & Black Pepper Crumbs

While broccoli is delicious raw, it’s also delicious when roasted too. We love this recipe by Cooking Classy that is a one-pan dish and super easy to make.

Chicken Broccoli and Sweet Potato Sheet Pan Dinner 

Our Chefs Say:

“My favorite way to prepare broccoli is to lightly steam it so it still has a nice crunch and bright green color, and then drizzle with fresh lemon juice, Parmesan cheese, and toss in some pine nuts.” –Megan Huard, Chef RD

Top 10 Health Food Trends for 2017

MisoSoup (4 of 4)Food trends are everywhere!  Kale (kale yeah!), matcha, quinoa…the list goes on!  As we get comfortable in 2017, we took a look at the most popular predictions for food trends out there and gathered what we think should be kept around.

Turmeric- This spice is a superstar when it comes to assisting with inflammation. Expect to see more of it in 2017 in recipes, juices, and even smoothies.  It can also be used as a natural food coloring!

Fermented foods- Fermentation is a wonderful thing. When fermented correctly, these foods are rich in microbes which are very beneficial for your gut. And the more we learn about the gut-brain connection, the more we realize how it can impact other systems in the body too!  Check out a few of our fermented food recipes here (sauerkraut) and here (yogurt).

Jackfruit- Stayed tuned for this one – almost every single source we checked out included this fascinating fruit! They can grow upwards of 80lbs and contain tons of little pods that are edible (and delicious!), but you have to work for it.  They are eaten raw and also used as a meat substitute for vegetarians.

Cauliflower is the new kale. Well, not really, but cauliflower is predicted to be on every restaurant menu like kale. Great news for this underdog!  Cauliflower is a cruciferous vegetable that is high in a sulfur-containing compound calledglucosinolates.  This compound is beneficial for the cardiovascular, digestive, immune, inflammatory, and detoxification systems.  Bring on more cauliflower!

Yogurt- Not just cow’s milk but sheep’s milk, goat’s milk, and even buffalo milk! We look forward to this one.

Smarter snacking- Instead of reaching for those potato chips at snack time, it is predicted that we will become more conscious with our choices this year. Expect an increase in popularity of sweet potato chips, zucchini chips, etc.

Sorghum will be the ancient grain of choice. If you’re not familiar with sorghum, it is a gluten free ancient grain that looks very similar to Israeli couscous. It is high in protein, dietary fiber, magnesium, iron, and copper to name a few. Not only can you cook it, but you can pop it just like popcorn to make a nutritious snack!

Ugly produce- Yep, the produce that doesn’t look pristine and perfect. Real food from the farm.  We love this concept, because as a culture we are hooked on eating what looks pristine and perfect – and because of that we have a real waste problem when it comes to food.

Sea vegetables- Seaweed offers a distinct “umami” flavor that is delicious in many things, including soups and broths. Seaweed is also high in iodine, a mineral that is essential for the functioning of our brain. Check out our Miso Soup recipe for an easy way to incorporate seaweed into your life!

Lentil and black bean pasta- These, in addition to others, will be making more of a presence on your grocer’s shelves this year.   We love adding more protein and fiber to our meals so bring on the legumes!

Sauerkraut2

References:
Delany, Alex. “Charcoal, Old-School Pizza, and Every Other Food Trend You’ll See in 2017.” Bon Appetit. Bon Appétit, 23 Dec. 2016. Web. 03 Feb. 2017.
Wu, Leslie. “How To Use The Food Trends Of 2017 In Your Kitchen.” Forbes. Forbes Magazine, 03 Jan. 2017. Web. 03 Feb. 2017.
No, Michelle. “These Are The Food Trends You Should Try In 2017, According To Pinterest.” BuzzFeed. N.p., n.d. Web. 03 Feb. 2017.; Bruno, Audrey.
“11 Healthy Food Trends You Need To Know In 2017.”  Self.  Self Magazine, 25 Dec. 2016.  Web. 03 Feb. 2017.
“Health Benefits of Sorghum.” Organic Facts. N.p., 11 Jan. 2017. Web. 03 Feb. 2017.
“Cauliflower.” The World’s Healthiest Foods. N.p., n.d. Web. 03 Feb. 2017.; “Top 10 Healthy Food Trends for 2017.
” Top 10 Healthy Food Trends for 2017 – EatingWell. N.p., n.d. Web. 08 Feb. 20


Stefanie Gates is a contributor on our blog as well as a culinary advisor here at PreviMedica. She develops recipes, teaches cooking, and creates cooking videos as a member of PreviMedica’s culinary team. You can read more about her here.

 

All Things Eggplant

Freshly Picked Selection

Eggplant

eggplant

Eggplant is considered a nightshade vegetable and related to the potato and tomato. Though commonly considered a vegetable, it is actually a fruit.

When In Season

August – September

What to Look for When Purchasing

 Choose a firm, smooth-skinned eggplant. Avoid ones that have brown spots.

 How to Store

Store in a cool, dry place and use within 1-2 days. If you plan to keep it longer than 2 days, store in the refrigerator.

Varieties

Aside from the normal round dark purple eggplant we are all familiar with, we are starting to see some other varieties hitting the supermarket shelves. There are Japanese/Asian eggplants which are very narrow and range in color, Italian eggplants which are egg-shaped baby eggplants, and there is also white eggplant.

How to Prepare

The skin on an eggplant is edible, but most people prefer to remove it.  Eggplant should be cut right before being used as it turns brown quickly. Once the eggplant has been cut, salting is recommended to remove some of the moisture. Eggplant has a sponge-like consistency, so if you are breading it, do that before adding it to an oiled pan so it does not soak up all the oil.

Nutritional Benefits

Eggplant

 Recipes to Try

Most people have only had eggplant in the form of eggplant Parmesan, and you can’t really go wrong there. We love this spin on traditional eggplant Parmesan from The Food Network as it incorporates some nutrient rich kale.

Healthy Eggplant and Kale Parmesan

Or this baked version from Oh She Glows:

Eggplant Parmesan

Aside from eggplant Parmesan, eggplant is most commonly consumed in dip form as baba ganoush which is similar to hummus and super easy to make. Minimalist Baker has a great recipe on her blog for this tasty Mediterranean dip.

Simple Baba Ganoush

For something a little less traditional, try this this dish from Delicious Everyday:

Miso Glazed Eggplant

Our Chefs Say:

“My favorite way to prepare eggplant is to remove the skin and cut into 1-inch cubes. Sauté with onions and garlic, and then add in a cup of homemade tomato sauce and let simmer on low for 20 minutes to create a delicious stewed eggplant that is great over chicken, pasta, rice, or lentils.” –Megan Huard, Chef RD


Megan Huard, Chef RD is a contributor on our blog as well as one of the culinary advisors here at PreviMedica. You can read more about her here.

A Guide to Plant-Based Eating

You’re probably thinking, “Great, another article telling me to give up meat!” Well, not necessarily. What plant-based eating suggests is minimizing (not automatically eliminating) animal proteins and emphasizing plants as the main portion of your meal. In other words, if you picture a plate, at least half would be filled with greens, legumes, and whole grains and your preferred animal protein would essentially be a “side dish” or a “condiment.”

Plant Based EatingSo why join #teamplants? Because there is a multitude of nutrients that come hand-in-hand with plants. Aside from vitamins and minerals keeping your body functioning at its best, plants are rich in phytochemicals, antioxidants, and plant sterols. And what do these fancy names mean? Bottom line… they mean HEALTH! These are all compounds found in foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes. Research studies link the aforementioned to the reduction in risk of many ailments such as cancers and hypertension; essentially promoting not just heart health but also immune function, skin health, eye health, bone, and joint health. In addition to the positive correlation of improving (and preventing) health conditions, more and more people are considering a plant-strong way of eating to improve energy and weight management.

While most people will consider changing their eating habits to obtain optimal health, reducing your carbon foot print is yet another reason to eat more plants. Compared to plants, animals raised for food production use up many resources. Animal agriculture is the single largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions- more than the green house gas emissions linked to all forms of transportation! It is also the leading cause of land and water use, deforestation, wildlife destruction, and species extinction. Equally important is the concern for animal welfare. So at the end of the day, a plant-based way of eating helps us lead a more compassionate life.

Implementing a plant based way of eating is easier than you think:

Smoothie (1 of 9)1) Increase your fruit and vegetable intake. Smoothies are a great way to get an extra serving or two of plants with minimal effort.

 

fishcurry2

2) Re-design your plate- filling at least half of your plate with produce, grains, and legumes. This will help downsize your meat servings. Consider swapping chopped mushrooms or organic tofu for half of the ground meat you would use in dishes like meatloaf, tacos, chili, meatballs, or pasta sauce. This way you will be turning meat into a “condiment” effortlessly.

 

cranberryOrangeTurkey (11 of 12)

3) Quality matters! Focus on decreasing processed meats you are eating and replacing with free range, grass-fed, organic options. With plants, choose ones that are close to their natural state as possible.

 

SpicedLentilStew (1 of 7)

4) Make this new way of eating work for you! Remember you’re not giving up animal proteins, you’re focusing on increasing your plant consumption. A great way to start is by jumping on the “Meatless Mondays” trend!

Whether you are looking to improve health, fine-tune your eating pattern, or you want to reduce your environmental impact, consider taking these steps to reap all the benefits of plant-focused eating!


Basilia Theofilou is a contributor on our blog as well as one of the nutrition advisors here at PreviMedica. You can read more about her here.

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