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Beautiful Beets

by Monica Lloyd on 11/29/16

            Health building beets and their greens are tasty earthy edibles worthy of our respect and admiration. These beguiling beauties are simply unbeetable when it comes to being a waste not want not wholesome veggie any time of the year. With so many ways to serve them, there is no excuse for not enjoying them more often.

Detroit Red, Di Chiogga and Golden beets are my personal favorites, but there are many to choose from and all are simple to grow. For instance, Bull’s Blood are characteristically grown for their greens, while others are grown for sugar production and some provide the finest roots.

Beets are esteemed as one of the most nutritious vegetables available with both the greens and root making the charts. It is no surprise due to their high amounts of essential nutrients, fiber and enzymes that help to charge up your body.

Consisting of only 75 calories per 1 cup serving, beets are a low-fat, high-fiber source of vitamins and minerals like folate, manganese, potassium, phosphorus, vitamin C, and iron. They have smaller amounts of vitamin A, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B-6, pantothenic acid, magnesium, calcium, zinc, copper and selenium. This all adds up to one big package of wow!

According to The George Mateljan Foundation, recent studies show that beets, as well as other red pigmented foods, contain distinctive phytonutrients called betalains. Two of these betalains found to be considerably high in beets are betanin and vulgaxanthin, which provide anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and detoxification support.

Moreover, quite a few other health benefits are associated with consuming beets and their greens on a regular basis. They are believed to help build good blood, relieve constipation, balance hormones, alleviate depression, strengthen veins, and are said to fight against cancer, lower blood pressure and increase stamina.

When it comes to adorning our menus, beets are a lovely presentation for any setting. Their deep red, pink or golden shades make a table come alive with rich color, texture and flavor. From simple to elegant and even lavish, beets are easy to include on the carte du jour. I love putting them in mashed potatoes for extra holiday appeal. When glazed they add a rich sheen, while buttered beets give a more subtle look. Raw shredded beets provide just the right touch in salads or used as a garnish. Another unique idea for beets includes using cooked and sliced beets for making an incredibly delightful sandwich. Plus, don’t throw away that precious nutrient dense broth! It can be utilized in a number of yummy ways for nutrition, taste and color.

Beets as desserts or sweets may come as a surprise, but it’s true. They make a scrumptious cake and one old-fashioned way to use the leftover broth is making beet jelly.

Steamed beet greens are an enjoyable side dish that can be eaten lightly salted, with a splash of soy/nut milk or try adding sautéed onion and garlic. In addition, they are nice when chopped and included in stir fry or soup. In addition, my special recipe for Vegan Cream of Greens soup will get your taste bud’s attention.

Raw or juiced beets provide the highest nutritional values, whereas lightly steamed beets will maintain a fair amount of nourishment. Start out slowly with only a few ounces if you want to juice beets, because the detoxification rate can be a bit much at first. Mixing it with carrot and/or greens juice is optimal. Furthermore, steamed beets can be savored numerous ways.

            Stocking up for winter storage of beets is uncomplicated. They can be kept in a root cellar, canned, frozen, pickled or dehydrated.

            I am probably a bit biased in my viewpoint, but I consider beets as a daily staple in my juicing and raw regime.

 

Bold Beet Salad

Monica Lloyd

                        3 medium sized dark red beets  ¼ c. fresh lemon juice

                        ½ sweet onion                                      2 t. ground cumin

                        ½ c. chopped celery                             1 t. salt

                        1 clove garlic/chopped or pressed         ½ t. oregano

                        3 T. olive oil                                         ½ chopped avocado

Remove beet greens and scrub to remove any dirt or debris. Cut raw beets (unpeeled) up into large cubes and place in food processor with the “S” blade. Next process until somewhat finely chopped. Then add onion, celery, lemon juice, garlic, olive oil, and seasonings and process just enough to mix well. Pour mixture into a bowl and stir in avocado. Top with alfalfa or clover sprouts and enjoy! Variation: Use Chiogga beets and omit cumin, oregano, lemon juice and olive oil adding ½ cup or more of organic ranch or ranch-like dressing.

Robust Autumn Apples

by Monica Lloyd on 10/09/16

By Monica Lloyd

            Apples arrive on the scene when autumn produces its colorful and bright display. As the leaves begin to paint the landscape in shades of yellow, orange and red, many fond childhood memories come to my mind. Hay rides, harvest parties (Bobbing for apples is always fun.), leaf pile jumping, and reaping the bounty of the food that is grown in our gardens, orchards and berry patches. Apples are a popular choice for gardeners everywhere.

            There are over 2,500 varieties of apples are grown in the United States, while 7,500 varieties of apples are grown throughout the world. A mere 100 different types are commercially grown in Orchards in the United States.

            Some of the more recognized apples include cultivars like Red Delicious, Golden Delicious, Gala, Fuji, Granny Smith, Braeburn, Honeycrisp, Jonagold, Gravenstein and MacIntosh. There flavors can range from mildly sweet, to super sweet or tart. Textures vary greatly as well, some being soft while others are crisp and hard, and as always a good apple is always juicy and satisfying to eat.

Will an apple a day keep the doctor away? Loaded with fiber, pectin, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals apples have proven to be a powerhouse of wholesome goodness which includes potassium, folate, niacin and vitamins A, B, C, E , K and more.

            As a part of a well-balanced diet and lifestyle, including apples as a consistent part of your diet is believed to lower risk of cancer, stroke, diabetes (by reducing glucose absorption, stimulating the pancreas and stimulating insulin receptors) , tooth decay, and age related diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. They are also said to aid digestion, relieve constipation, accelerate cleansing of toxins and help boost metabolism and weight loss.

            A well known advocate of healthy eating is quoted stating, “If you can get apples, you are in a good condition as far as fruit is concerned, if you have nothing else. . . . Apples are superior to any fruit...” Maybe that is why they are in such abundance worldwide.

Like all drupe fruits the seeds of apples contain the poison cyanide and should be avoided in large quantities.

            Amazingly, apples are one fruit that has a shelf life lasting well into the winter months. They keep best if stored somewhere around 30-35°F, in a humid environment and in a separate area from vegetables. (Fruits and vegetables give off different gasses that cause them to break down faster.) This can also be accomplished if the produce is stored in enclosed boxes and the gasses do not mix.

            Apples are dependably versatile fruits for creative cooks the world over. These hearty, but delightful dainties can be candied, stuffed, baked, dried, boiled, braised, fried, and turned into pie, cake, sauce, crisp, dumplings, fritters, juice, jelly, butter, and seasoned sweet or savory. You can slice, dice, shred or wedge them raw and add to salads. My son used to take great care to cut them up into thin strips like shoestring French fries.

One of our family’s end of summer events is applesauce making. Several pounds of these enchanting fruits are processed in a few short hours and canned to be enjoyed later. MacIntosh is our favorite saucing apple, but we like to mix other types for added flavor. Try it over pancakes or waffles with peanut or other nut butters. One of my winter favorites is warmed applesauce with a splash of unsweetened soy milk stirred in. Adding spices like cinnamon or coriander have made this fruit dish a popular treat for centuries.

I hope that you enjoy this twist on an old and much loved recipe. (Maybe it’s not quite the American as Apple Pie you remember as a child.)

Lavender Apple Blueberry Pie

©Monica Lloyd

 


    4 – 5 medium apples                           2 – 3 T. Earth Balance Margarine or butter

   1 ½ c. blueberries, fresh or frozen         3 T. cornstarch, flour or tapioca starch*

    ½ c. organic sugar                                pinch of orange peel

    1 ½ t. food grade lavender extract        dash of coriander powder

     1 t. lemon juice or ½ t. apple cider vinegar       

                       

Have your pie crust ready; then wash, core and thinly slice apples and place in a mixing bowl; add lemon juice or apple cider vinegar, orange peel, coriander, sugar, lavender extract and mix well. Next melt butter or margarine and mix into apple mixture along with flour, cornstarch or tapioca starch; stir in blueberries and pour into your favorite pie crust and place top crust on or build a lattice, pinching up the edges. Be sure to poke air holes in the top if using a solid top and brush with some of the melted margarine left in the pan and sprinkle with sugar. Pies will have more or less juice depending on the amount in the fruit and whether the fruit is fresh or frozen. You may need to adjust the thickener accordingly. If you do not have lavender extract you can make a very strong tea using ½ cup water and 1 T. dried lavender; simmer until half or more of the water is gone, then strain and add 2 t. of tea to pie filling in place of extract. .*NOTE: All three of these are used in pies to thicken the juices. Bake at 350? for 50 – 60 minutes and cool for 30 – 45 minutes before serving.

 


Peas Packed with Surprising Health Benefits

by Monica Lloyd on 07/24/16

By Monica Lloyd


    Fresh, light, lively sweet peas embellish our menu 365 days a year. With a plethora of culinary uses, these humble, but popular little veggies (in reality – legumes) are amazingly versatile and pack some unexpected health benefits.

    Some of the opening credits of pea’s long list include anti-inflammatory inhibitor nutrients, pisumsaponins I and II and pisomosides, most of which are characteristic of these green gems almost exclusively. Likewise, their antioxidant support is a high on this list for better overall health and well-being. These include vitamins A, C and K (important for strong bones) along with folate and other important B vitamins.

Traditionally thought of as being high in starch, peas are surprisingly low on the glycemic index, while being low in calories and fat. Being high in both protein and fiber makes them a good choice to help keep blood sugar in line and a filling food for dieters.

Your small intestines contain little fibers known as villi. These hair-like structures absorb nutrients as your food, now known as chime, passes through your digestive system. Amazingly, peas are well documented to help heal the villi of the small intestine. In a nut shell, this means better absorption of nutrients as the damage is being repaired, especially for celiac sufferers. Pea juice is the best for this healing process.

According to one health advocate, when served warm, pea juice with a pinch of cardamom and ginger is said to help relax spasms associated with Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Now, that’s what I call good stuff.

Fascinating discoveries are always being made in regards to free radical damage support and repair. Lutein and zeaxanthin are two key nutrients found in peas and are known to improve eye health on many levels.

Moreover, peas are said to help with things like anti-aging, cardiovascular support (including lowering cholesterol) and possibly reduced incidence of Alzheimer’s Disease.

Amazingly, we’ve only scratched the surface of the many benefits of making peas a regular part of your diet. Recent findings in a Mexico City study have shown to help reduce the risk of cancer, specifically stomach cancer. A single serving of peas consumed daily is enough to greatly reduce your risk.

Minerals are the building blocks for many functions in our bodies, particularly of our endocrine system. Peas include vital minerals like calcium, iron, copper, zinc, potassium, magnesium, molybdenum and manganese.

Peas are not only important to our health and wellbeing, but are significant to the health of our soil. They are among the list of crops that are known as nitrogen fixers that help build better soil for healthier produce. This is a great solution for organic growers.

To me peas are little green “pearls” that are just plain delicious. I love them any way you serve them. With their thin smooth outer layer and soft, creamy center cooked, canned, frozen, sprouted, juiced and fresh - alone or in salads, peas are a treat highly under estimated. I love the snap peas for their flavor and adornment on a veggie platter or in recipes.

Some of my favorite ways to enjoy peas are steamed with salt and butter, creamed, fresh in salads or as a side salad. Moreover, they are a great addition to stir fry, soups and casseroles. Who doesn’t love a bowl of hot split pea soup served with bread and butter on a cold winter day? Plus, never forget the ever popular shepherd’s pie; it just would not be the same without these tiny dainties. If you’ve never tried young pea sprouts, you are missing out. Relish this tasty pea salad as a fresh summer treat as you “beef” up your health and immunity!

 

Savory Pea Salad

©Monica Lloyd

            1 bag of frozen peas or 2 cups raw shelled

            1 cup of diced tomato        ¾ c. chopped fresh fennel herb

            1 T. olive oil                      1 c. chopped green onion

            1 juiced lemon                   ½ c. finely diced cucumber

            1 large or 2 small avocados    1 tsp. salt or to taste

If you are using frozen peas, set them out to thaw.  Mix fresh lemon juice, olive oil and mash the avocado to make a dressing mixture.  Mix all the ingredients in a bowl; chill and serve.