This Fall, Spice Up Your Cooking the Healthy Way

November 01, 2019

Southern California may not go through a proper change of seasons the way much of the rest of the country does, but you can still bring a little taste of autumn to your home. More than sweet potatoes and pumpkins, spices are what really say, “the weather is getting colder and the holidays are almost here!” Besides adding some low-calorie kick to your foods and a pleasing scent to your kitchen, many herbs and spices have been prized for centuries for their health benefits. Read on to learn more, including how to add these new flavors to your existing dishes and other fall favorites.

 

Nutmeg

Nutmeg is probably the first spice you think of at this time of year – it gives pumpkin pie and all of the pumpkin-spiced products their rich, warm tastes. It’s made from the kernel of an exotic fruit, and it’s been used all over the world for a variety of medicinal purposes, including as a digestive aid and an antibacterial agent. Looking to stave off Alzheimer’s and boost your brain? Add nutmeg to your shopping list. Just don’t eat too much of it, as it can cause hallucinations.

 

Cinnamon

Cinnamon is one of the most versatile spices there is, but did you know that cinnamon is a wellness powerhouse? Some research says that cinnamon can help lower blood sugar and is good for those with diabetes: it’s a sugar-free way to add a sweet taste. Add it to coffee, tea, oatmeal, or any other food that can use a hint of sweetness. It’s a great source of antioxidants that are good for your heart and your brain function. Bonus: cinnamon delivers a festive fragrance to your home.

 

Allspice

Allspice combines sweet and savory tastes like cloves, cinnamon, and nutmeg. The versatile spice can be used in both meat dishes and desserts. For centuries, allspice has been used as a folk remedy for stomach aches, menstrual cramps, colds, and general pain relief. Many of these effects have been studied and proven by science. Researchers are looking into whether it can help prevent cancer, but so far, there’s no conclusive proof.

 

Ginger

Ginger isn’t just for cookies or sushi. This spice, made from the root of ginger plants, will add some spicy, sweet drama to anything you use it in. Grate it fresh for salad dressings and marmalades, cook it up with squash and other vegetables, add it to baked goods, or drink it as a tea. Ginger is one of the most studied spices in the world for its healing properties: it’s proven to relieve pain, calm your stomach, and reduce inflammation.

 

Celery seed

Celery seed has a distinctly bitter taste that makes it an easy, lower-sodium alternative to salt. Salt can increase the risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke, so the next time you’re cooking up a hearty stew, casserole, or meat-based dish, reach for the celery seed instead. Celery also contains bone-building calcium and iron, a nutrient that’s critical for many of your body’s functions.

 

Saffron

Saffron is most famous for the vivid yellow color it gives to foods. It’s popular around the globe, used commonly in Indian and Middle Eastern dishes – you may have already had it in paella and other rice dishes like risotto or pilaf. It’s got a similar sweet, musky flavor to vanilla, so you can try experimenting by adding saffron where you’d normally add vanilla (yogurt, baked goods). A little goes a long way: not only in your cooking but for your health. Saffron is thought to promote heart health and fight PMS. One study even showed that saffron-infused dishes created a greater feeling of satiety, or fullness, which helped participants lose weight.

 

Eat Healthy, All Year ‘Round

Grandmother cooking

If the 80-degree weather is keeping you from really getting into a fall mood, you’re in luck, since we enjoy a bounty of fruits and vegetables all year long. In addition to a variety of delicious apples and pears, you can still get cherries and berries to healthfully satisfy your sweet tooth.

Even if your brain is still stuck in summer, the holiday season is right around the corner! Don’t let all the festivities derail your healthy habits: get advice for healthful eating away from home, and see the simple switches that can make your home-cooked meals a little bit healthier.

 

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5 Fall-Fresh Fruits & Veggies to Try Now!

November 06, 2018

Southern California’s 80-degree sunshine-filled days don’t exactly feel like autumn, but you can still experience fall in the produce aisle of your grocery store! Peaches, nectarines, watermelons and other summer fruits are beginning to give way to heartier fall fruits and veggies. When you buy foods that are in-season, they’re healthier, have richer flavor, and cost less. Try them as suggested, and they’re sure to become family favorites. 
 

1.    Apples
apples

Apples have evolved from the Red Delicious you probably got in your school lunches, and there are many types of apples that have been grown to be sweet, crunchy, and more flavorful. You can slice them up and add them to salads, or bake them with cinnamon for a healthy, crunchy treat. 

Choose apples that are firm and free of blemishes or bruises. Store them in a cool, dry place - away from avocados, bananas, or citrus fruit.  To keep apples fresh after they’ve been sliced, give them a squeeze of lemon juice. This will prevent them from browning. 

Benefits: Apples are high in fiber and vitamin C – so they’ll keep you feeling full and healthy.

2.    Pumpkin
pumpkin

Pie isn’t the only way to enjoy this delicious, festive food. Enjoy it baked, like spaghetti squash or zucchini, but ditch the butter and try coconut oil or coconut milk instead. 

Benefits: Pumpkin is full of fiber and vitamin A, which is great for your skin and eyes. You’re also getting powerful anti-inflammatories that can reduce pain and swelling while promoting improved digestion and circulation. 
 

3.    Beets
beets

Naturally-sweet beets are edible from their leafy greens down to the root.  The hearty leaves are like spinach: use them in a salad or enjoy them sautéed with some heart-healthy olive oil or vinegar. Beets are also delicious raw, shredded, and tossed in salads or thinly sliced and baked into chips.

Roasting or steaming beets whole takes the fuss out of peeling — the skin easily slides off after cooking. Fresh is always best, but in a pinch, you can make a delicious, healthy side dish by adding olive oil and oregano to canned beets. 

Benefits: Beets are rich in naturally occurring nitrates and may help to support healthy blood pressure. 
 

4.    Sweet Potatoes
sweet potatoe

Once you try a baked sweet potato, you may never go back to the plain white spuds again. During the fall, there’s a huge variety of sweet potatoes available. Any of the varieties make a great breakfast side dish, and they’re equally delicious in desserts and savory dishes.

If you do eat them baked, skip the butter and cream and try using healthier coconut oil or coconut milk instead. Sweet potatoes stay fresher for longer when kept in a cool, dark place. Toss any that’ve grown sprouts.
 
Benefits: Sweet potatoes are loaded with carotenoids, vitamin E, potassium, copper, and fiber. They also have fewer calories and carbohydrates than white spuds.
 

5.    Kale
kale

Kale is definitely having a moment! The superfood is turning up everywhere, from juices and smoothies to salads and main dishes. 

Think lettuce, only tastier and heartier. Kale is so durable, it tastes sweeter when it is cold! Sautee it with salt, pepper, and olive oil as a tasty side dish. Add it to salads, tacos, or any other food that could use a healthy crunch. Unlike other types of greens, you can add your salad dressing ahead of time. The kale becomes more tender and delicious, not wilted.

Benefits: One cup of raw kale has only 8 calories and is loaded with vitamins A, C, and K as well as magnesium. Kale is also packed with fiber.
 

These are just a few of our suggestions. Check your favorite place to find healthy recipes – or get creative. With so many fresh fall flavors, the possibilities are endless.

Eating Until You’re Color-Full

July 30, 2018

Colorful foods aren’t just nice to look at, they offer a lot of benefits to your health! 

berries

Red, Blue, and Purple Food:

  • They can lower the risk of heart disease, stroke, cancer, urinary tract infections, and memory loss.
  •  These foods contain potassium, vitamins A and C, and folate. 
  • They are known for anti-inflammatory properties, helping to protect against cell damage, and keeping the heart, blood, joint, and immune systems healthy. 
  • Foods include tomatoes, pomegranates, berries, watermelon, cabbage, beets, eggplant, grapes, raisins, cherries, kidney beans, and red pepper.

 

lemons

 Orange and Yellow Food:

  • They can improve immune function and lower the risk of heart disease, vision problems and cancer. 
  • These foods contain folate, potassium, bromium, vitamins A and C, iron, and calcium. 
  • They are known for flushing out toxins and keeping the eyes, skin, teeth, and bones healthy. 
  • Try carrots, lemons, oranges, corn, peaches, nectarines, mango, squash, pineapple, bell pepper, cantaloupe, and sweet potatoes. 
     

avacados

Green Food:

  •  They can lower the risk of cancer and vision problems. 
  •  These foods contain folate and vitamins A, C, and K. 
  •   They are known for fighting free radicals, helping prevent blood clots, and regulating blood sugar. 
  • Foods include leafy greens like kale, spinach and arugula, green apples, limes, kiwi, avocado, cucumber, asparagus, green beans, grapes, and broccoli. 


garlic

White Food:

  • They can lower the risk for stroke, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease, and cancers like colorectal cancer.  
  • These foods contain potassium, folate, niacin, riboflavin, and vitamin C. 
  •  They are known for providing essential dietary fiber and supporting the immune and circulatory systems.
  •  Try pears, bananas, cauliflower, mushrooms, ginger, dates, potatoes, garlic, onions, black eyed peas, and white nectarines. 


According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, we should all try to eat five to nine servings of fruits and vegetables per day in a variety of colors. So go ahead and fill your plate with a rainbow of fruits and veggies!