Monthly Archives: January 2011

watermelon agua fresca

Believe it or not, watermelons are a vegetable, not a fruit. They are part of the Curcurbitacae family which includes cucumbers, pumpkins and squash. They are super nutritious and high in vitamins A & C. Watermelons are also a good source of vitamin B6, fiber, thiamine, magnesium, potassium and copper. They contain the antioxidant carotenoids beta-carotene, beta-cryptoxanthin and lycopene (in which it is especially high). Lypocene has been studied for it’s antioxidant activity and how it induces apoptosis (cell death) in cancer cells but not normal cells. Prostate cancer in particular seems to be mentioned frequently with the study of lypocene.

Watermelonsbelieve to have originated in Africa, with the first recorded watermelon harvest nearly 5,000 years ago. Watermelons were held in such high regard by the Egyptians that they were even placed in the tombs of kings! Early explorers used them as canteens. Today watermelons are grown in over 96 countries with over 1,200 varieties.

What’s in a serving? One 10-oz wedge of watermelon contains 86 calories, 1.7 g protein (wow!) and 1.1 g fiber. The recipe below uses half of a small watermelon or about three 10-oz wedges. 5 g of protein in my juice, not bad!
Traditional aguas frescas are made with fresh fruit, water & sugar.  Since watermelon is plenty sweet and full of juices, I prefer to omit both when I make my own super easy Watermelon Agua Frescaat home.

HERE’S HOW:


Step 1 – select your watermelon

  1. Gently tap or knock on the watermelon. The more hollow the sound, the riper the melon.
  2. Look on the underside of the watermelon for the spot where it rested on the ground. This spot should be light yellow not white.
  3. The watermelon should be heavy for its size. Look for one that weighs a little more than similar ones of the same size.
  4. Look at the stem area, it should be shrunken and dark green to brown.

Step 2 – slice & core
For this recipe, I use half of a small melon which I have pre-refrigerated so it’s cool and crisp. Leave the seeds in but cut the green/white rind off (although that part is perfectly edible).
Step 3 – Vitamix! If you don’t have a super duper Vitamix, any blender will do. Blend on high until seeds & fruit are well pulvarized. You know how much I love my Vitamix – it will pulverize any fruit or veggie down to it’s cellular level, creating a juice which your body can easily absorb with all those great vitamins while retaining all the fiber. I don’t add any water or liquid, tho I do use the push down tool the vitamix comes with to get it going.


Step 4 – Pour and serve

YUM-O! makes 2 tall glasses.

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black beans | barley | bells

My new year “resolutions” are simple.  Create & nourish healthy habits – eat healthy, be happy, run more.  2010 was a year of transition & healing. 2011 is kicking off strong! Although it takes some building and consistency, you see it is actually a very simple equation:

eat healthy = helps me to run more effectively
eat healthy + run more = increase endorphins & makes me be happy

Since I practically took 2010 off and lost all my base, I needed to jump-start my rear into gear. I joined a 100 day challenge committing to be active daily for the first 100 days of 2011. This is plentiful time to re-create a healthy habit and helps me to run more. So far I am on track, and the increased endorphins are energizing.

Of course consistency is key and I’ve been recording my workouts on Daily Mile to help hold me accountable. I like the colorful charts & graphs they have. You can switch the filters & see improvement (pace, distance, duration, etc). It’s kinda like Facebook but all the commentary is on workout posts. Great way to create a virtual community which can be inspiring on those hard to get out the door days. What is important to remember for me is that every – single – time that I go out for a run, I ALWAYS come back feeling energized & refreshed. It is one of the best feelings.

So. Starting with the basics of eating healthy. Tonight’s dinner was BLACK BEANS, BARLEY & BELLSinspired by the Barley and Red Bean Bowl recipe in the Skinny Bitch Ultimate Everyday Cookbook.  Because it has both legumes (black beans) and grains (barley), it forms a complete protein.  And the bell pepper is full of nutrients: high in vitamins C, A and B6, good source of vitamin E, folate, antioxidants, riboflavin, niacin, thiamine, pantothenic acid, potassium and manganese.  Nice!

I made it w/a couple minor variations and had all the ingredients on hand in the pantry plus an extra bell in the fridge. It turned out very tasty and made a huge amount so there will be leftovers for a few days.

INGREDIENTS:
3 cups water
1 vegetarian bouillon cube – low sodium
1 cup barley – uncooked
2.5 cups black beans – cooked  (about 1-1.5 cup dry – soak overnight then simmer for an hour)
1 colorful bell pepper – I used orange – yellow or red would be nice
2 tablespoons vegetarian worcestershire sauce
couple tablespoons under 1/4 cup olive oil
couple cloves of garlic – chopped finely
1/2 teaspoon seasalt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

DIRECTIONS:

  1. boil water & bouillon cube in a medium saucepan
  2. reduce heat & add barley
  3. cover and let cook until all water is absorbed, about an hour (maybe little less)
  4. meanwhile chop bell pepper
  5. mix bell & black beans in medium-large bowl
  6. make dressing: shake in Tupperware or a glass jar the olive oil, worcestershire sauce,  garlic, salt & pepper
  7. mix barley w/beans & bell mixture once it’s finished cooking
  8. add dressing & toss
  9. ta-da & serve

swiss chard

Swiss chard is extremely nutritional, and a good source of Thiamin, Folate, Phosphorus and Zinc. It’s also a very good source of Dietary Fiber, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin E (Alpha Tocopherol), Vitamin K, Riboflavin, Vitamin B6, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Potassium, Copper and Manganese. With one cup of chard, you’ll also get 3 grams of protein. With all these nutrients, I’m grateful that chard is also very tasty!

You may also be interested to know that recent research has shown chard leaves to  contain at least 13 different types of polyphenol antioxidants, including kaempferol, the cardioprotective flavonoid that’s also found in broccoli, kale and strawberries and his been associated with reduced risk of heart disease. Besides kaempferol, one of the primary flavonoids found in the leaves of chard is a flavonoid called syringic acid, which has received special attention in recent research due to its blood sugar regulating properties. You can read more about the benefits of chard HERE.

Sautéed swiss chard over brown rice (or any other grains) is a delicious quick, easy and healthy meal. I  make this at least once a week.

HERE’S HOW:

Ingredients:
1 bunch swiss chard – any variety, organic preferred
1/2 onion – yellow, white or any bulb variety
olive oil
sea salt
pepper
brown rice
quinoa

brown rice and quinoa1) start rice cooking – brown will take about 45 mins. Double water to rice, and I like to throw in a handful of quinoa (along w/extra water) which adds some extra protein, fiber & iron.

2) while rice is cooking, chop onion (dime size pieces) and start sautéing in a splash of olive oil.

3) wash swiss chard – don’t dry. stack together lining up by stem. cut an inch or two inches of  stem. next cut cross wise, then length wise. you should have loosely chopped chard. This will shrink down once heated.

4) add chard to onions, folding the greens frequently with tongs to rotate the heat. add some grated nutmeg (not too much), then salt & pepper to taste.

5) once wilted, serve immediately over grains.