Seasonal Spring Veggies

Cooking with Seasonal Spring Veggies

Sponsored by Clearly Brand

After the chilly winter months, there’s nothing more refreshing than the sight of fresh spring fruit and vegetables. Crisp lettuce, brightly colored rhubarb and fresh asparagus help liven up any meal. Spring is one of the best times to get in the kitchen and prepare a healthy plant-based recipe. When you are experimenting with seasonal produce that is ripe and fresh you can turn a simple salad or side dish into something extraordinary, brimming with flavor. Here are four recipes that highlight spring produce.

Overnight Egg Bake

This recipe incorporates asparagus and broccoli. It also goes well served over a bed of spring greens.

Spring Vegetable Stir Fry

Sugar snap peas are crisp and delightful in the spring. They can be cooked to perfection in a stir fry.

Spring Morning Muffins

Healthy carrot muffins are the perfect side for an egg bake or Easter celebration.

Spring Vegetable Quinoa Salad

A hearty grain salad comes to life with spring peas, spinach, and mushrooms.

Brown Rice and Fruit Smoothies

Colon Cancer Awareness & Your Digestive Health

According to Prevent Cancer® Foundation, this year, more than 145,600 people will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer and more than 51,000 will die of the disease.

Risk Factors:

Colorectal cancer is more common as you age. However, colorectal cancer in adults younger than 50 is on the rise, but  it’s seen more in people age 50 and over. Other risk factors include having:

▫Inflammatory bowel disease such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis.
▫A personal or family history of colorectal cancer or colorectal polyps.
▫A genetic syndrome such as familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) or hereditary non-polyposis colorectal cancer (Lynch syndrome).

Lifestyle factors that may contribute to an increased risk of colorectal cancer include:

▫Lack of regular physical activity.
▫A diet low in fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
▫A diet high in red meat (such as beef, pork or lamb) or processed meat (such as bacon, sausage, hot dogs or cold cuts).
▫Overweight or obese, especially for those who carry fat around their waists.
▫Excessive alcohol consumption and smoking.

Prevention:

Almost all colorectal cancers begin as precancerous polyps (abnormal growths) in the colon or rectum. Colorectal cancer screening can find precancerous polyps so they can be removed before they turn into cancer; therefore, preventable if removed in time. Screening can also find colorectal cancer early, which increases the chance that treatment will be more effective. Start screening at age 45 if you’re at an average risk, but if you have certain risk factors, you may need to start screening sooner or get screened more often—talk to your health care professional.

Diet:

Research is underway to find out if changes to your diet can reduce your colorectal cancer risk. Generally, experts encourage eating lots of fruits, vegetables and whole grains, limiting red meat, and avoiding processed meat for a healthy diet.

Incorporating more fruits and veggies into your day can seem difficult, but if you focus on eating 1-2 servings at meals and include them at snacks, you will easily be on your way to meeting your intake requirement. 

Try fruit and even vegetable-packed smoothies for breakfast or snacks.  Add berries to cereal or yogurt.  Eat salads for lunch.  At dinner makes two choices of a fruit or veggie for a side dish.  Add extra veggies to casseroles or pasta. Don’t forget: can and frozen fruits and veggies count as a serving, so mix it up by using fresh, can and frozen. With a little planning, eating more delicious fruits and vegetables can be simple!

Some people may also be lacking whole grains in their diets.  There are many naturally-occurring whole grain foods such as oatmeal, brown rice, and popcorn. Many foods are now made with whole grains, such as cereal, crackers, flour, baked goods and pasta.  Look for the words whole grain (such as “whole wheat”) as the first ingredient on an ingredient list or look for the Whole Grains Council’s stamp on food packages. With the Whole Grain Stamp, finding three servings of whole grains is easy: Pick three foods with the 100% Stamp or six foods with ANY Whole Grain Stamp. 

The 100% Stamp assures you that the food contains a full serving or more of whole grain in each labeled serving and that ALL the grain is whole grain, while the 50%+ Stamp and the Basic Stamp appear on products containing at least half a serving of whole grain per labeled serving.                                                                                        

Resources: preventcancer.org and wholegrainscouncil.org

Slow Cooker Apple Oatmeal - before and after

Slow Cooker Spiced Apple Oatmeal

Choose apples for fiber, Vitamin C, and antioxidants. This warming recipe is perfect when it’s cold outside!

INGREDIENTS:
2 apples, cored and chopped

1 1/2 cups Clearly Organic Milk

1 1/2 cups water

1 cup uncooked Clearly Organic Steel-Cut-Oats

2 Tablespoons Clearly Organic Brown Sugar

1 Tablespoon butter

1 teaspoon Clearly Organic Ground Cinnamon

2 Tablespoons Clearly Organic Milled Flax Seeds

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup Clearly Organic Raisins (optional)

1/4 cup walnuts, chopped (optional)

DIRECTIONS:
Coat the sides of your slow cooker with Clearly Organic cooking spray. Add all the ingredients except the raisins and walnuts to the slow cooker. Stir contents then cover. Cook on low for approximately 4 to 5 hours depending on your slow cooker temps. Store cooked oatmeal in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. The oats also freeze well. To enjoy a single serving spoon contents into a bowl, reheat if necessary, and add additional toppings such as raisins, walnuts, maple syrup, peanut butter, almond butter or chia seeds.

Recipe sponsored by Clearly Brand

Healthy Resolutions: Meal Prep & Exercise

How to Make Healthy New Year Resolutions

Many people dread making a New Year Resolution. There are statistics that show only 9.2% of people report actually achieving their resolutions. Many people get easily frustrated with themselves if they don’t fulfill the goals they set, and even if they don’t see immediate results from their efforts.

The type of resolution you make can set you up for failure. Instead, create a purposeful and reachable resolution that gives yourself short and long term achievement while giving yourself some grace along your journey.

Here are some tips on resolutions to avoid and how to set yourself up for success:

  • Avoid: Making the general statement, “I want to eat healthier”, but not knowing what that means or how that looks. For success: Review your eating habits, or talk to a Registered Dietitian or your doctor to make a plan. Start slow with one or two habits you can change to move toward a healthier way of eating that will stay for the long term. Examples: Limit soda to one can a day (if you typically have multiple), try adding a fruit or vegetable to each meal, or set a goal to eat three whole grain foods a day.
  • Avoid: Having a vague exercise goal. For success: Make a choice of where you can start on a path of daily exercise and work toward a long-term goal. If you currently do not exercise regularly, start slow. Make your first goal to exercise 2-3 times a week and the work up to 5-7 times a week. Start with a small workout first and then add on minutes. Make sure to find something that is fun, and choose a variety of exercises. Go for walks (with a friend or your dog), join a gym, try a free fitness app on your phone, or take up a new sport like golf or swimming. The goal is to get moving and the more you start to feel better, the more you will want to keep going!
  • Avoid: Making too many resolutions that you won’t be able to keep. For success: Remember that health is a year-round, long-term journey. Start with small obtainable goals or habits to change and as those become a normal part of life, then you can add more goals.

Remember, if you encounter a setback, don’t stop working toward your goal. Make a fresh start the next day and keep reaching for your goals!

Cashew chicken

Cashew Chicken

INGREDIENTS:

1 lb boneless skinless chicken, diced 

1/2 teaspoon salt 

1/2 teaspoon Clearly Organic Ground Pepper 

2 Tablespoons corn starch 

3 Tablespoons Clearly Organic Olive Oil 

2 cups broccoli florets  

1 red bell pepper, diced 

2 cloves garlic, crushed 

1/2 cup Clearly Organic Cashews 

1/2 cup green onions, sliced for garnish (optional) 

Sauce: 

3 Tablespoons low sodium soy sauce 

2 Tablespoons Clearly Organic Honey 

1 Tablespoon rice vinegar  

1/2 teaspoon Clearly Organic Ground Ginger 

DIRECTIONS: 

In a bowl add chicken, salt, pepper, and corn starch. Toss to coat evenly. In a large skillet add olive oil and chicken then cook for 5 minutes over medium heat. Flip and stir chicken so all sides cook evenly. When chicken is about 50% cooked add broccoli, bell pepper, and garlic. Stir to combine and cook for an additional 10 minutes or until vegetables are tender and chicken is cooked through. While vegetables and chicken are cooking add all the ingredients for the sauce to a jar with a lid. Secure the lid on the sauce jar and shake vigorously. Add the sauce and cashews to the skillet then stir to combine. Allow ingredients to simmer for 3 minutes. Sprinkle green onions on top then serve immediately and enjoy!  

Sponsored by Clearly Brand

Easy Homemade Pumpkin Soup

Easy Homemade Pumpkin Soup

INGREDIENTS:

2 Tablespoons Clearly Organic Olive Oil

1 large yellow onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 (15 oz) can pumpkin purée

1/2 teaspoon Clearly Organic Thyme Leaves

1/2 teaspoon Clearly Organic Ground Cumin

1/4 teaspoon Clearly Organic Ground Ginger

1/4 teaspoon Clearly Organic Ground Pepper

2 1/2 cups Clearly Organic Vegetable Broth

2 Tablespoons Clearly Organic Maple Syrup

3 Tablespoons heavy cream

2 Tablespoons pumpkin seeds

DIRECTIONS:

In a medium-size saucepan heat olive oil, onions, and garlic over medium-low heat until fragrant and translucent, about 5 to 8 minutes. Add the pumpkin purée, thyme, cumin, ginger, and ground pepper. Heat over medium heat stirring occasionally for about 5 minutes. Add vegetable broth and cook, stirring constantly, for 5 additional minutes. Remove pot from heat and stir in maple syrup and heavy cream. Using an immersion blender purée soup until it reaches your desired consistency. If you don’t have an immersion blender let the soup cool for 10 minutes then transfer contents to a food processor or blender. After the soup is puréed only heat contents on low heat, so it doesn’t boil. The cream separates if the liquid gets too hot. Serve the soup warm with pumpkin seeds sprinkled on top.

Recipe from Clearly Brand

Diabetes Awareness Month

Improve your Diabetes Awareness

There are several types of diabetes, but the most common are Type 1, Type 2 and gestational diabetes.

-Type 1 can occur in anyone at any age. It happens when the body does not produce insulin. Usually the body would break down carbohydrates that you have eaten in food and use that for energy. Then it uses insulin, which is a hormone, to get those nutrients into the cells. Type 1 is managed with insulin therapy along with a healthy diet and exercise.

– Type 2 diabetes is more common, and it is when your body cannot use the insulin correctly. Sometimes this disease can be managed with a healthy diet and exercise, but for others, medication and insulin therapy are needed. The key component of managing this disease is exercise. It does not matter how you get started but you have to get up and start moving!

-Gestational diabetes occurs during pregnancy. The exact cause is not known on why some women develop it and others do not. One theory concludes that the hormones of the placenta prevent the mother’s insulin from working correctly and make it more difficult for her body to use it properly, which is called insulin resistance. Another theory is that the mother’s body cannot produce enough insulin it needs throughout the pregnancy. This causes glucose to be unable to leave the blood and convert to energy; a buildup called hyperglycemia. Treatments for this type of diabetes include individualized meal plans, exercise, and sometimes daily blood sugar testing and insulin injections.

No matter what kind of diabetes you or a loved one may have, it is important to remember that you are not alone and that there are treatment options available that will allow you to live a long, happy and healthy life. 

Take this quick test from the American Diabetes Association to see if you or a loved one is at risk for developing diabetes:

https://www.diabetes.org/risk-test

Toothbrush and teeth- Dental Hygiene Month

How to Improve Your Dental Health

The foods you eat not only affect your overall health, but those foods also play a part in your oral health. Sugary snacks and beverages can lead to tooth decay, which according to the American Dental Association is the most common chronic childhood disease, but it is completely preventable. Tooth decay occurs when plaque comes into contact with sugar and causes a reaction which leads to acid attacking the teeth. Some common sources of sugar in the diet are found in soft drinks, candy, and desserts.

The American Dental Association also suggests reducing the number of snacks you eat during the day, and if you do have a snack pick something that is healthy such as a fruit, vegetable, whole grain products, yogurt or cheese. The food that you eat during a meal causes less harm than foods eaten for a snack because more saliva is released while eating a meal. The saliva helps wash the foods from the mouth and reduces the effects of the acids.

They also recommend brushing your teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste, floss daily and visit the dentist regularly. It’s important to remember that with good personal discipline for practicing good oral hygiene practices and choosing healthier food choices, you can prevent tooth decay from ever occurring.

Nutrition for strong and healthy teeth

Calcium, vitamin D and phosphorus all play a vital role in the formation and maintenance of healthy teeth and gums in both children and adults. Calcium plays a role in building strong bones and teeth, however, calcium needs phosphorus to maximize its bone strengthening benefits. Vitamin D regulates the body’s balance of calcium and phosphorus, and can promote absorption. Vitamin D can also help to decrease inflammation of gums which is associated with periodontal (gum) disease. A healthy diet is essential for healthy teeth. Below are foods that contain calcium, vitamin D and phosphorus.

Calcium – Dairy foods such as cheese and yogurt, Cruciferous vegetables such as kale, collard greens, and broccoli, spinach, white beans, sardines, and calcium-fortified orange juice.

Vitamin D – Natural sunlight, vitamin D-fortified milk, eggs, some cereals, oily fish (tuna, sardines etc), mushrooms.

Phosphorus – protein-rich foods such as meats, poultry, fish, nuts, beans and dairy products and whole grains.

Fruits & Veggies Month - blueberries, lettuce, strawberries

September is Fruits & Vegetables Month!

Fruits and vegetables are important for a well-balanced and healthy diet. They contain key vitamins and minerals that your body needs to be able to function properly.

According to the CDC, only 1 out of 10 adults get enough fruits and vegetables every day. That means that most people are missing out on the essential nutrients and fiber that these foods can provide. The CDC also stated that 7 out of the top 10 leading causes of death in United States are from chronic diseases and by consuming a diet that has higher amounts of fruits and vegetables can reduce the risk of developing these diseases. Some of those diseases include heart disease, type 2 diabetes, some cancers and obesity.

Each color of a fruit or vegetable tells a lot about what that produce item contains. All fruits and vegetables contain many nutrients, but the color gives a hint of the key nutrients. Make sure to try and eat as many different colors as possible to ensure you are getting enough of all of the nutrients that your body needs. Below is a quick summary of what each color means for fruits and vegetables.

Rainbow Produce Benefits

Red – contains Vitamins A & C, manganese and antioxidants.
Aides in heart health.
Foods: tomatoes, red peppers, beets, red apples, red potatoes, grapefruit, raspberries, strawberries, watermelon

Orange – contains Vitamins C, A & B6, potassium, folate and antioxidants.
Aides in eye health.
Foods: carrots, orange peppers, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, oranges, peaches

Yellow – contains Vitamins C, A & B6, potassium, folate and antioxidants.
Aides the immune system health.
Foods: yellow peppers, squash, bananas, cantaloupe, pineapple

Green – Contains Vitamin K, B vitamins, folate, potassium and antioxidants. Aides in strong bones and teeth.
Foods: broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, cucumbers, green peppers, dark leafy greens, peas, green beans, zucchini, avocados, kiwi, green apples, pears

Blue & Purple – Contains B vitamins and antioxidants.
Aides in memory.
Foods: eggplant, red onions, purple cabbage, purple potatoes, blueberries, blackberries, plums

White – Contains Vitamins C & K, folate, potassium and antioxidants.
Aides in immune system health, and healthy eye, skin, bones.
Foods: cauliflower, garlic, jicama, mushrooms, onions, parsnips, turnips, potatoes, rutabagas 

Wellness - exercise, nutrition, balance

It’s National Wellness Month!

Wellness is a term that can encompass things such as mediation, exercise, making time for friends and family, or just your general lifestyle. Whether you are just starting your wellness journey, or you are trying to refine some aspects, everyone can improve parts of their life to live a healthier and more fulfilling life. One important aspect of wellness is nutrition; the things you eat today will not only affect your overall life now but also help improve your quality of life in the future. Here are some key features of a healthy diet.

  • Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables: set a goal to include at least one fruit or vegetable into each meal and snack.
  • Remember to eat high fiber foods: high fiber foods are whole grains, many fruits and vegetables, beans and split peas.
  • Limit the number of sugary beverages and foods: exchange sodas, sweet tea and other high calorie drinks for water, unsweet tea, and low calories drinks.
  • Go for the whole grain options: whole grain options include cereals, pasta, bread, brown rice, oatmeal and popcorn.
  • Make sure you are getting enough calcium and vitamin D.
  • Drink alcohol in moderation.
  • Slow down while eating, the faster you eat the more calories you tend to consume.
  • Make sure you are consuming enough water.
  • Remember to exercise- start with small changes, like taking the stairs, park your car at the end of the parking lot, take a daily walk or do simple exercises during commercials while watching TV (try sit ups, jumping jacks or lunges).

A consistent, healthy diet rarely happens overnight so try to incorporate small changes at a time and continue to add them to achieve an overall healthier lifestyle. Wellness is about making yourself feel the absolute best and by improving your diet, you will begin to feel better.  It can help reduce chronic disease risk for your future.