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English: mushrooms

English: mushrooms (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Health Benefits of Mushrooms

Mushrooms are laden with nutritional goodness including Vitamin D aka the “sunshine vitamin,” B vitamins such as niacin, pantothenic acid and riboflavin, Beta-glucans, copper, ergothioneine, good fibre content, potassium, selenium and long-chain polysaccharides 

WELLNESS

These astoundingly powerful little fungi are a perennial favorite in the produce aisle amongst health-minded individuals as they are practically limitless in variety, eager sponges to soak up flavor and have innumerable health benefits including but not limited to

Anti-cancer properties Mushrooms have been shown to reduce the risk of certain forms of cancer.  Selenium has the ability to protect women from bladder cancer.  They also contain “aromatase inhibitors,” which may prevent the development of breast cancer in women.  In addition, mushrooms contain certain compounds, still being studied, that show promise in halting prostate enlargement and prohibiting prostate cancer in men

Bone health Copper and Vitamin D both help maintain strong and healthy bones less likely to lose mass as one ages.  Vitamin D, in particular, helps absorb calcium, which is critical for good bone health and can prevent osteoporosis

Diabetes help Mushrooms are incredibly low on the glycemic index and consuming mushrooms on a regular basis can help lower blood glucose levels

Digestive system health Niacin helps the digestive system function properly

Heart health Selenium is a mineral that works much like an anti-oxidant by shielding the body’s cells from harmful free radicals that could lead to coronary disease.  Potassium helps regulate blood pressure.  The relatively high insoluble fibre content in mushrooms can help lower and maintain healthy blood cholesterol levels.  Anti-oxidant ergothioneine prevents atherosclerosis.  Mushrooms are cholesterol-free, virtually fat-free and low in sodium, all news to cheer about for those concerned about their heart health

Immune system health Mushrooms are known to have strong anti-biotic properties and such modern medicines as penicillin and tetracycline actually derive from this miracle fungus.   Because of their long-chain polysaccharides, selenium content and rare anti-oxidant ergothioneine, mushrooms have outstanding effects on the immune system such as fighting infections and decreasing inflammation.  Riboflavin maintains healthy red blood cells and Beta-glucans are natural immune system boosters

Men’s health Selenium has been said to increase fertility in men

Nervous system health Copper, niacin, pantothenic acid and potassium all work to ensure a well-functioning nervous system

Urinary system health Selenium does wonders in maintaining a healthy bladder

 

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Anti-oxidant properties Ergothioneine is a lesser-known anti-oxidant that protects the body’s cells from free radical damage.  Cremini and Portobello mushrooms, in particular, are extremely high in their anti-oxidant prowess.  Anti-oxidants will strengthen your hair follicles and make you less likely to experience split ends.  They make the skin more supple and elastic and the nails strong and resilient.

 

WEIGHT LOSS

 

Nutritional intake Mushrooms are extremely low in calories, ranging between 15 and 42 calories per cup, dependent, of course, on the variety of mushroom.  They are also completely fat-free, cholesterol-free and quite low in sodium.  Rich in fibre and readily absorbent of flavor, they are a fantastic means of sating your hunger and taste cravings while making your belly feel full.  Their decent fibre content, especially when cooked and rid of their water content, will keep your body flushed out on a regular basis, which of course means more regular weight loss

 

Metabolism Beta-glucans help metabolize fats and sugars in the body and B-vitamins are notorious for converting carbohydrates into much needed fuel to give you energy throughout your day.  B-vitamins also assist in successfully metabolizing fats and proteins

 

COOKING

 

Mushrooms come in such a wide gamut of varieties you can spend your whole culinary existence having fun experimenting with different shapes, textures and flavor profiles

Stuffed mushroom caps as an appetizer are always a big hit at parties or use big ones for a meal all on their own.  First, line a lightly oiled baking tray with your favorite fresh, stemmed mushrooms.  In a bowl, combine roughly cut cashew nuts, a few minced garlic cloves, a couple of turns of quality EVOO, a splash of lemon juice,baby spinach and finish with a dollop of persian fetta  Stuff the mushroom cavities and bake them in the oven for a good twenty minutes or so.

For a sumptuous appetizer, or even a meal in and of itself on a cold winter’s day, concoct a steaming pot of cannelini bean and mushroom soup.  All you need are cooked cannelini beans, tahini paste, some butter,  chicken or vegetable broth, as many of your favorite mushrooms, two minced garlic cloves, an onion, two ribs of celery, salt and pepper to taste.

Portobello mushroom and Lentil burgers are a popular favorite amongst vegans, vegetarians and carnivores alike as they are thick and meaty and stand up well to grilling.  Spice them as you would your favorite burger using lentil patties as the bread, thrown on a slice of grilled haloumi cheese, some avocado, fresh rocket and well grilled mushies, top with some homemade tomato relish, and you will be in savory burger heaven.

“I am… a mushroom; On whom the dew of heaven drops now and then.” ~John Ford

Portobello mushrooms

Portobello mushrooms (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

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A Korean Pear, Korean natural monument #74.

A Korean Pear, Korean natural monument #74. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Nashi, or “Asian Pears” are absolutely packed with fibre with an average of 4 grams per medium-sized pear and a whopping 10 grams per large pear!  As if this wasn’t reason enough to revere the Nashi, they are also packed with Vitamin C, Vitamin K, copper, manganese and potassium

 

WELLNESS

 

These crisp and juicy fruits are a long-standing favorite amongst the health and fitness crowd due to their outstanding health benefits including but not limited to

Anti-cancer properties Due to their abundance of fibre, pectin in particular, eating Nashi pears will flush potentially hazardous toxins from your colon and help prevent colon cancer.  Pectin has also been shown to have effectiveness against prostate cancer

 

Bone and teeth health Vitamin C, Vitamin K and manganese are essential for healthy bones.  Vitamin C builds collagen, prevents brittleness of bones and maintains strong teeth.  Vitamin K aids in bone mineralization

 

Colon health / Digestive health Due to its high amount of fibre, Nashi pears are a terrific edible tool to regulate your digestive system and can stave off diverticulitis, irritable bowel syndrome, painful hemorrhoids and even colon cancer

Diabetes Pectin, an insoluble fibre found in Nashi pears, is useful in the treatment of diabetes as it is said by some sources to slow down the body’s absorption of glucose

Eye health Vitamin C can prevent cataracts and macular degeneration

Heart health Vitamin K ensures that your blood can properly coagulate.  High fibre, as present in Nashi pears, reduces high cholesterol and high triglycerides and can stave off heart disease.  Nashi pears are virtually fat-free as well as being cholesterol-free and sodium-free

 

Immune system health Anti-oxidant Vitamin C repairs the body’s tissues, heals wounds and fights off all sorts of infections and diseases ranging from the common cold to the flu to the HIV virus

 

BEAUTY

 

Anti-oxidant properties Anti-oxidant super power Vitamin C and copper both help build healthy collagen, which result in more elastic skin less likely to show signs of aging.  Vitamin C also improves hair quality and promotes strong, resilient nails

 

WEIGHT LOSS

 

Fibre The wealth of fibre in the Nashi pear will keep you feeling full longer and far less likely to reach for empty, fattening calories between meals.  It will also keep your bowels more regularly flushed out, which can result in more consistent weight loss

 

Metabolism Copper is essential for the production of energy and chomping on a tasty Nashi can give you a good boost when you feel that listless afternoon lull or right before your daily workout

Nutritional Intake Yet another reason to celebrate the Nashi is that a medium-sized pear has only a mere 50 calories

COOKING

 

For a totally unique take on a traditional appetizer, place a smear of blue cheese on a  wedge of Nashi pear and wrap it with prosciutto

Pears make a sweet and texturally interesting addition to a wholegrain sandwich with cos lettuce, chicken and dijon flavoured butter and it is a great way to sneak some healthy fruit into your child’s daily diet

Speaking of cheese as we have, a pear, Gorgonzola and balsamic glazed onion pizza or flatbread is scrumdelicious.  You can even add some walnuts for added health benefits and a little extra crunch

Pears stand up well smoked chicken breast stir-fries with , a dash of white vinegar and some minced fresh ginger. I love them chargrilled and served with a wild rocket, roast pumpkin, persian fetta and cranberry salad

A pear tart is always a lovely contribution to a bake sale or a potluck pick family gathering.  All you need to do is pre-purchase a simple tart shell or some dough, shape into an attractive fluted pie pan, add some lemon juice-infused Bartlett pear quarters and bake for just shy of an hour

And of course, for a truly simple, sublime and elegantly-colored party-pleaser, simmer some quality whole peeled pears with quality red drinking wine, fresh lemon and orange juice, sugar, vanilla extract, cinnamon and cloves.  The deep crimson color of the pear on a white plate definitely has the wow factor or saffron poached for a zany finish

“A man watches his pear-tree day after day, impatient for the ripening of the fruit. Let him attempt to force the process, and he may spoil both fruit and tree. But let him patiently wait, and the ripe pear at length falls into his lap.” ~Abraham Lincoln

Nashi pear tree in bloom

Nashi pear tree in bloom (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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English: A grapefruit cut in half.

English: A grapefruit cut in half. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Health Benefits of Ruby Red Grapefruit

The big, beautiful ruby red is absolutely bursting with vitamin A, vitamin C, beta-carotene, fibre, lycopene and naringenin

WELLNESS

 

This sweet and tangy citrus fruit has won over the hearts and palettes of health conscious foodies and home cooks because of its effervescent sunshine punch of flavor and its significant health benefits including but not limited to

Adrenal gland health Vitamin C has been researched to prove critical to proper adrenal gland function

Anti-cancer properties Vitamin C is a mighty anti-oxidant that combats the cell-damaging free radicals that can cause various cancers including those of the cervix, esophagus, oral cavity, pancreas, rectum and stomach.  Naringenin is a flavonoid anti-oxidant, which has been shown to stimulate cell repair in patients suffering from prostate cancer.   And, as if that weren’t enough, ruby reds also contain beta-carotene, yet another flavonoid anti-oxidant that fights off free radicals

Arthritis Anti-oxidant vitamin C de-activates those sinister free radicals that often cause inflammation in folks suffering from osteo-arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis

Eye health Vitamin A is essential for the proper maintenance of healthy eye tissue and can protect the eyes from age-related macular degeneration and promote higher visual acuity for all

Healthy bones and teeth Vitamin C is essential for healthy gums.  Vitamin A and beta-carotene are both good for healthy teeth

Heart health Lycopene stops LDL, or “bad cholesterol” from doing damage to arterial walls.  The various anti-oxidants in ruby red grapefruit, lycopene included, have been known to lower triglycerides.   The ruby red’s high fibre content helps lower cholesterol.  Vitamin C has the capacity to lower blood pressure and fight atherosclerosis.  The ruby red grapefruit is also a cholesterol-free food, and that is always great news for those loving their heart

Immune system health Vitamin C is the world heavyweight champ when it comes to building and maintaining a healthy immune system and warding off and lessening the symptoms of an almost innumerable amount of disease ranging from the common cold to influenza to HIV

Kidney health Drinking grapefruit juice, in particular, is rumored to be an excellent means of preventing the formation of kidney stones

BEAUTY

Anti-oxidant properties This ruby red princess of citrus fruits is an absolute amalgam of anti-oxidants including vitamins A and C, beta-carotene and naringenin, all of which combat the cell-damaging free radicals that can cause premature aging.  In your defense, they keep your hair follicles healthy and well-maintained for proper hair growth and your nails resilient and less prone to easy breakage

Vitamin C This superpower vitamin helps build healthy collagen and can ward of age-related wrinkles and fine lines and result in firmer more elastic skin overall

WEIGHT LOSS

This delicious, nutritious and succulent fruit is a waist watcher’s dream as it is low in calories (a mere 102 for a whole grapefruit) high in fibre (4 grams per fruit) and cholesterol-free.  This fruit is a snack that will never leave you disappointed.  Its tangy sweetness will enliven your taste buds and keep you feeling full and sated.  The wealth of fibre will keep your digestive system on track and flush out your body, resulting in a more steady weight loss

 

COOKING

 

Ruby red grapefruits are sublime when eaten all natural, sliced in half with a sharp knife and scooped out with a silver spoon.  They can be a simple and simply delicious part of a balanced breakfast a replete with some lightly buttered whole wheat toast and a soft boiled egg sprinkled with sea salt, or as a mid-morn or mid-afternoon pick-me-up snack

Ruby red grapefruit wedges are pretty-in-pink additions to a festive fruit salad to bring to your next backyard family gathering or potluck pick company picnic.  Or, you can toss together a savory salad filled with grapefruit wedges, bitter chicory, red-wine vinegar, honey, olive oil and your favorite spices, to taste

A sweet, salty and slightly spicy and surprising appetizer is a ruby red grapefruit and lobster meat ceviche mingled with other popular citrus juices, a jaunt of fresh cilantro and a dash of red chili flakes.  Take that, taste buds!

Ruby red grapefruit cupcakes are sure to be a hot-seller at the next spring bake sale or a hit with the kids at the next class birthday party.  Plus, you are sneaking in a bit of healthiness disguised as dessert into their diets, which is always good

On a slow Saturday, simmer up and serve some brilliantly colored ruby red grapefruit marmalade that is pure delight when spread on French crepes or slathered on already buttered fresh baked scones

Ruby red grapefruit gelato or sorbet is a thirst-quenching body-cooling summer treat

And for an intoxicatingly delicious nightcap, add some freshly squeezed ruby red grapefruit juice to your favorite liquor libation (vodka and gin work just fine) and shake the night away…

 

Interesting fact about the Ruby Red Grapefruit:  Ruby Red Grapefruit is the official emblematic fruit of the big state of Texas where it is said to have originated. 

 

 

This photograph shows two pink grapefruits (Ci...

This photograph shows two pink grapefruits (Citrus ×paradisi), one of the two cut in pieces. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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A blood orange, sliced to show the flesh

A blood orange, sliced to show the flesh (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Health Benefits of Blood Oranges

Vitamin C (ascorbic acid), folic acid and anthocyanins are truly the superstars here in this beautiful little citrus fruit although it also contains good amounts of Vitamin A, calcium, fibre, potassium and water

WELLNESS

Two blood oranges a day will certainly help keep the doctor away because that is all it takes to fulfill the recommended RDA of Vitamin C and folic acid.  Factor in the blood orange’s fair to trace amounts of other essential nutrients, and you will understand why health-conscious individuals have happily incorporated the blood orange into their daily diets.   Health benefits of this little beauty include but are not limited to

Anti-cancer properties Vitamin C is a mighty anti-oxidant, which combats the oxidative stress caused by cell-damaging free radicals, repairs tissue and staves off various forms of cancer including that of the cervix, esophagus, oral cavity, pancreas, rectum and stomach.  Anthocyanins are the compounds that give blood oranges their dazzling color with the added benefit of having anti-oxidant abilities.  Anthocyanins hunt down free radicals and not only prevent them from rapidly reproducing, but also induce apoptosis, or quite literally, cell death.  Folic acid is crucial in the development of healthy red and white blood cells

Adrenal gland health Vitamin C has been researched to prove critical to proper adrenal gland function

Arthritis Vitamin C’s anti-oxidant super powers deactivate the free radicals that cause the uncomfortable inflammation generally associated with osteo-arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis

Bone health Potassium works to help preserve calcium in the bones and increase their strength, density and longevity

Brain health Proper potassium intake markedly improves brain function by regulating healthy electrical conductivity.  Potassium can also help prevent such neurological afflictions as epilepsy

Diabetes Anthocyanins are anti-oxidant flavonoids said to be useful in preventing diabetes as they appear to lower blood sugar levels.  Anti-oxidant vitamin C has also been shown to offer protection against diabetes as it prevents the oxidative stress caused by free radicals.  However, citrus fruit in general should be eaten with doctor approval as it has the potential to adversely affect glucose levels in some individuals
Eye health Vitamin A has been found to protect against age-related macular degeneration and to promote higher visual acuity in the general population by way of maintaining healthy eye tissue

Healthy bones and teeth Vitamin C is essential for healthy gums.  Vitamin A is good for the teeth and for the skeletal tissue.   Calcium is critical for strong bones and teeth

Heart health Vitamin C is known to lower blood pressure and fight atherosclerosis.  Folic acid has been shown to lower homocysteine levels in the blood, and high homocysteine is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease.  Anthocyanins utilize their amazing anti-oxidant abilities to war against oxidative stress, protect our blood vessels and lower LDL, aka “bad cholesterol” and increase HDL, or “good cholesterol.”  Potassium is vital in regulating the heartbeat and it lowers blood pressure

Immune system health Blood oranges have substantial amounts amount of vitamin C.  Savoring these citrus delights on a regular basis will boost your immune system and give it the capacity to prevent innumerable infections and diseases and lessen symptoms and recovery time from those already afflicted.  Anthocyanins are useful in preventing bacterial infections in particular

Muscle health Potassium assists in the proper growth of muscle tissue, plays an important role in proper muscle contraction and relaxation and helps keep our nerves and reflexes fast and sharp.

Pregnancy Folic acid is highly recommended for expectant mothers as it forms vital red blood cells, helps with brain and spine development and can prevent neural tube birth defects in unborn babies

BEAUTY

Anti-oxidant properties Vitamins A & C and the flavonoid anthocyanins all have superb success in fighting against the cell-damaging free radicals that often cause premature aging.  All three of these help keep the skin more elastic, the hair more bouncy and the nails more resilient

WEIGHT LOSS

 

Citrus fruits are great weight loss tools as they are high in fibre, high in water content and low in calories; and blood oranges are no exception.  Eating blood oranges will keep you feeling full and satisfied and far less likely to grab for empty calories between meals.   They do this by regulating blood sugar levels in the body and consequently curbing appetite

COOKING

Of course, eating blood oranges straight out of their peels is a grand delight in and of itself.  However, if you wish to get a little fancier on the kitchen front, there are numerous ways to incorporate them in your daily snacks and dishes

Blood orange wedges rubbed with mint make for pretty and tasty little companions in a summer fruit salad ensconced in a carved watermelon bowl

Sliced blood oranges stand up well to braising and are a fun and unique accompaniment to spicy pan-roasted chicken breasts.  Simply sprinkle them with some salt and your favorite herb (rosemary in particular is wonderful), dot with light butter, bathe in   chicken or vegetable broth and bake for about an hour

Blood orange slices can be placed atop succulent white fish, topped with a patty of butter substitute, a spoonful of minced garlic and some snipped, fresh herbs and baked in parchment paper for a quick, easy and sublime entrée with a definite wow factor for presentation

Spend a rainy Saturday afternoon getting sticky with the kids while making a deep crimson red blood orange marmalade that can be spread on toast, slathered between a  sandwich or placed on a toast point with goat cheese for an enticing appetizer

Blood orange sorbet or gelato is downright divine and looks stunning served in a fancy see-through ice cream glass with a sprig of mint.  And a startlingly red-tinted blood orange panna cotta looks, feels and tastes downright sinful

And speaking of sinfully sweet (but semi-healthy!) indulgence, squeeze some fresh blood orange juice and shake up a tangy blood orange cocktail with vodka, triple sec and stevia

English: Slices of Blood Oranges Deutsch: Sche...

English: Slices of Blood Oranges Deutsch: Scheiben einer Blutorange (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Interesting fact about Blood Oranges:  Temperature and light affect the color and intensity of blood oranges and most are actually cultivated under volcanic conditions on Mount Etna in Sicily, Italy!

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Kale salad

Kale salad (Photo credit: Salim Virji)

Health Benefits of Kale

Kale is revered as green veggie royalty with an embarrassment of nutritional riches including vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, calcium, copper, folate, iron, magnesium, phosphorous, potassium, sulfur and omega-3 fatty acids

 WELLNESS

Kale has been affectionately nicknamed the “new beef” and has become a fast favorite amongst the global health food scene in part due to its savoury flavor  its many healthy benefits including but not limited to the protection against and the treatment of

Alzheimer’s disease Vitamin K deficiencies are a risk factor in developing Alzheimer’s so eating vitamin K-rich foods like kale can prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s

Anti-cancer properties As Kale is absolutely brimming with vitamin K, it is a wondrous protectant against various cancers.  Vitamin A is particularly helpful in preventing lung and oral cavity cancers.  Kale is also loaded with extremely beneficial flavonoid anti-oxidants that can stave off cell-damaging free radicals

Anti-inflammatory properties Kale has a notable concentration of omega-3 fatty acids, which can help alleviate arthritis, asthma and various other autoimmune disorders

Detoxification With a large amount of fibre (roughly 5 grams per cup) and its store of sulfur, Kale makes an effective homeopathic detoxifier

Healthy bones Due to the prominence of calcium and vitamin K in Kale, it is a terrific agent for maintaining healthy bones and preventing bone loss and osteoporosis

Healthy vision Vitamin A, as inherent in Kale, promotes higher visual acuity

Heart health Vitamin K is known to prevent blood clots and lower cholesterol

Immune system health Kale’s significant amount of vitamin C is a wonderful natural combatant against the common cold and influenza and generally bolsters up the immune system

Iron The main reason Kale is considered the “new beef,” is that it actually contains more iron! Iron is absolutely essential for proper formation of enzymes, hemoglobin and red blood cells, strengthening the immune system and maintaining proper liver function

BEAUTY

Kale is saturated with anti-oxidants, which war against those cumbersome cell-damaging free radicals and promote healthy, supple skin, smooth, lustrous locks and strong, stark nails

Due to its plethora of fibre, Kale will keep your system flushed free and promote more regular, steady weight loss.  Kale is also extremely tasty and low in calories (approximately 36 calories) per cup, which make it the perfect addition to any weight loss regime

COOKING

Kale can either be eaten raw, or, to retain maximum health benefits, flash-cooked

When choosing Kale, look for dark green leaves that are not wilted, and firm stalks.  Also, smaller leaves tend to be tenderer

Kale is delicious by nature and the perfect base green for a gourmet health salad including sliced red onions, a handful of juicy raisins, some toasted almond slivers and your favorite low-calorie vinaigrette, I like it with cranberries,fetta, lemon zest and roast pumpkin or proscuitto, ricotta and anchovy. lemon, garlic and flat leaf parsley

Kale chips have cropping up in health food stores galore and it is supremely easy to make your own at home!  Just slice them into bite-sized chips, drizzle them with some quality EVOO and a dash of sea salt and bake them in the oven on a low gentle heat until crisp, top off a veggies stack with them

Try substituting kale for spinach and whip up an impressive batch of low-fat creamed kale or some scrumptious Greek spanakopita

Kale adds savory and nutritious bulk to your winter soups and stews

Interesting fact about Kale: It actually tastes sweeter when frozen!

Kale

Kale (Photo credit: Another Pint Please…)