Hicka-what? And Other Under-Appreciated Vegetables

I recently took a vegetable tray to a church function instead of my usual plate of goodies.  I know…gasp!  What is to become of me.  Who knew what a stir it would cause.  Any of you recognize this little veggie?  Everyone kept asking me what it was and seemed even more confused when I told them.

jicama

It is usually in the part of the grocery store with all the less popular vegetables.  Broccoli, asparagus, potatoes, all get their spotlight out in front but these stay tucked in the corner with turnips, rutabagas, beets, etc.  If you are still clueless, I will just give you the answer.  It’s a jicama!  Pronounced Hick-a-ma, and though people were leery to try it, everyone that did liked it.  It was one of the random foods that we got well acquainted with during Aaron’s cleanse and I just wanted to post about it to encourage all of you to give it a chance.

Just peel it, cut it into matchsticks, and dip it in hummus or ranch or whatever your favorite is.  Or toss it on salads and it will add a nice sweet crunch with minimal calories.  Honestly I even just love it plain for a nighttime snack when I don’t want to eat too much before bed.  Of course there are real recipes you could try it with, but so far that’s all I have done and I’ve loved it.  I’ll report back when I take it to the next level.  Or you could.

parsnip

 

Speaking of parsnips, this is another vegetable you should add into your rotation.  You can use them in place of potatoes for a similar consistency with a sweeter taste but fewer carbs and calories.  They are terrific mashed, as oven baked fries, or roasted as a medley with some other neglected vegetables.

coconut collard greens

The last lucky vegetable for today’s spotlight is Collard Greens.  Even though I am from the South, I can’t say that I have eaten too many of these in my day.  Of course, Aaron says Texas is not really the South, so maybe that is why.  I also can’t say that I love these straight up like I do the last two veggies, but since they are REALLY good for you and this recipe below, from Aaron’s cleanse, took the bitterness out of them and made them yummy, I thought I would share.

What are your favorite random veggies?  Or favorite random ways to cook “normal” veggies?

Coconut Collard Greens

  • 1½ tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • ¼ medium onion, diced
  • ½ bunch collard greens, stems removed, cut into ½-inch strips
  • ¼ cup coconut milk
  • 1 dash Himalayan salt (to taste; optional)

Directions

  1. Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion; cook, stirring frequently, 8 to 10 minutes, or until golden brown and very soft.
  2. Add collard greens and coconut milk; cook, stirring frequently, for 10 minutes, or until greens are very tender.
  3. Add salt (if desired)
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Conquering Cravings Part III

Remember The Land Before Time?  I was 8 when it came out and LOVED it.  Did you know that it was followed by TWELVE direct to video musical sequels?  They are pretty much all on Netflix right now and my kids are loving them.  I, on the other hand…not so much.  As with all too many sequels these days, they definitely should have quit while they were ahead (Tokyo Drift, anyone??).  Hopefully this conquering cravings issue does not take the same path.

cravings

 

I will readily admit I am not the most technically savvy person, nor am I up on the latest trends by any means.  I mean, don’t judge me but I don’t even have a smart phone!  So it took me awhile to realize I was not utilizing Pinterest to its fullest capacity.  I was pretty much just following my friends, but then one day I wanted to pin a recipe I saw in my Cooking Light magazine instead of ripping out the page and sticking it in my overflowing expandable file of recipes to try.

And it dawned on me…Cooking Light has its own Pinterest!  With almost 5,000 pins!  What a better method for organizing recipes!  So I quickly followed them, Health, Fitness, Clean Eating, and Eating Well magazines.  So many recipes to try, all digitally and more cleanly organized than my file, PLUS no monetary investment and no wasting of trees!  I am loving it.  Seriously.  Awesome.  I try to go to one of those when I want to avoid all the amazing looking baked goods people are pinning that have me salivating.

So tonight while looking at Health’s pins (avoiding lingering on a recipe for Salted Browned Butter Snickerdoodles), I saw an article, How the Pros Curb Cravings and figured I ought to share it with you since we have been talking about it so much.  They had some good ideas that we hadn’t talked about yet.

What non-friends have you found helpful to follow?

Marshmallows for Every Meal: And other Healthier Foods for Kids

 

My friend asked me the other day what my kids usually ate for lunch.  I thought it was a great topic of discussion for the blog because all of us moms probably struggle with getting our kids to eat healthy.  We make our kids eat whatever we are having for dinner, but no matter how much they liked or disliked it, they will NEVER eat the leftovers for lunch the next day!

March 2012 240

 

 

Of course they would eat macaroni, quesadillas, chicken nuggets (and marshmallows, cookies, ice cream) at every meal if I left them, but that’s not really the ideal! So I thought I would compile a list of some of the things they do eat for lunch or snacks and hopefully there will be some good ideas for you.  And please share your own ideas in the comment section with everyone so we can have even more options.

  1. Apples and peanut butter or almond butter
  2. Applesauce or pears and cottage cheese
  3. Grapes and string cheese
  4. Smoothies
  5. Carrots or Cucumbers with Greek Yogurt ranch or Hummus
  6. Trail Mix made from The Unsalted Nut Mix at Costco, Cheerios, and Raisins
  7. Hard-Boiled Eggs and Cuties
  8. Whole Grain Breakfast Breads/Muffins with Yogurt or Hard-Boiled Eggs

WalnutBlueberryBananaBread_article

There are also some surprising things my kids love that may be less typical

  1. Grilled Chicken or Salmon with Homemade Sweet Potato Fries
  2. Shrimp cooked any which way imaginable
  3. Edamame, shelled and unshelled
  4. Raw Red Peppers
  5. Tofu!!  As long as the sauce is not too spicy
  6. Salad (well that is Adelyn, not Barett)
  7. Plain Rice Cakes! Sometimes with Peanut Butter, Almond Butter, or Hummus

strawberry-banana-almond-butter-smoothie-recipe-fw0311-lg

As I compiled this list, I realize it is short on veggies and substance.  My kids eat a big meal (usually oatmeai with cottage cheese, eggs and waffles/english muffins, or protein pancakes) in the morning and then graze throughout the day.  So if any of you have any more substantial lunch ideas, I would really love to hear them too!

If you think you don’t like beets…

I used to think that myself.  But remember when I was reading this book and I learned about all the “superstar” foods??  Well that book reminded me of a recipe from a cookbook of my dads that I first made last summer and we absolutely loved it.  When we made it again this summer, I was reminded I never shared it with you.  If I shared all the reasons it was good for you, we would be here all day, so let’s just focus on the beets.

beets1

 

Here are a few reasons to love them:

  1. They lower cholesterol
  2. Increase exercise endurance
  3. Anti-imflammatory
  4. Anti-cancer Effects
  5. Immunity Booster
  6. Reduce the risk of birth defects
  7. Rich in essential minerals
  8. Oh yeah, and they taste delicious!!!

So try this salad while the beets and kale are still fresh and your farmer’s market.  Or share with us YOUR favorite way to eat beets.

Beet Kale Walnut Salad

Ingredients

Salad
3 to 4 beets, peeled and cubed
1 bunch kale, rinsed and chopped
1 cup raw walnuts, lightly roasted
½ cup organic feta cheese (optional)

Dressing
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, or coconut oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoons maple syrup
2 tablespoons finely chopped basil, optional
1 teaspoon wheat-free tamari or ¼ teaspoon sea salt


Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place the cubed beets into a steamer basket. Steam for about 15 to 20 minutes or until tender*, place into a bowl to cool. Place chopped kale into the steamer basket and steam for 5 to 10 minutes until tender but still bright green. Place into bowl with beets.

Place walnuts into a small glass baking dish and roast in the oven for 10 to 12 minutes. Let cool completely. Place into the bowl with beets and kale.

In a small bowl, whisk together ingredients for the dressing. Pour** over beets, kale, walnuts, and toss. Top with feta cheese and freshly ground black pepper if desired.

*Don’t know if it’s me, my beets, or my steamer basket, but usually this takes twice as long for them to get tender.

**I didn’t need to use all of the dressing on this one, so start sparingly and get it to the consistency you like!

Conquering Cravings

Aaron, my P90X obsessed hubby has recently started a Beachbody Challenge Group.  One of the members of the group said his main challenge to losing weight was his sweet tooth and his inability to control himself once he got a taste of the good stuff.  This is something I can DEFINITELY relate to!!  This is always my main challenge too.  I mean, how do you refuse this

chocolate-thunder-from-down-under_t

and choose this??  I know some of you could do it easily…that is why I wanted to make this post!  The other members of the challenge group have decided to give up sugar for the 90-day challenge to support him (and of course consequently help their own health and fitness goals).  And while I am far from perfect in this, I will share some tips that have helped me in the past.

celery

When a craving strikes:

1. Drink a huge glass of water to fill my belly quickly.
2. Brush my teeth (or put in a piece of gum if I am out)…that dessert never tastes as good when my mouth is minty fresh
3. Find a healthier substitute:
-fruit, naturally sweet and high in fiber
**bananas easily make me think I am eating a dessert, especially frozen and blended with a little milk…and maybe a little raw cocoa…and natural peanut butter…it’s practically ice cream!  These cookies are ridiculously easy, yet surprisingly tasty and wholesome–no added sugar or oil.
-protein bars or protein shakes are usually pretty sweet
4. Eat something healthy before going somewhere I know there will be temptation
5. Don’t put too severe of restrictions on myself that make it hard to be successful, i.e if I swear them off for too long, I will just binge when time comes to eat them again!  Instead, I build in a “cheat” day where I can have whatever I want which makes it easier for long term success.
6. Walk away from the kitchen!  Especially late at night when I am tired and weak!

Those are my thoughts for now before heading to bed.  What are some tips that you have for resisting those cravings??

Organic Schmorganic?

organic

I am sure we are all quite familiar with the current health crazes: Omega 3s, Chia Seeds, Acai Beries, Coconut Oil, Organic Foods, Free Range, Grass Fed, and so on.  The nutritionist powers that be are filling the airwaves with all the benefits of the newest superfoods, but of course they all seem to come with a high price.

I thought this article had an interesting perspective on the organic food debate.  Yes, it is lengthy.  Yes, it is wordy, but I wondered your personal perspective.  Do you buy organic foods?  If so, why or why not?  And if you do, have you experienced any noticeable benefits.

One curious thing we discovered through a nutritionist is that Aaron is allergic to regular eggs, but not to Cage Free ones.  That is of course, if you put any stock in her allergy test…if you haven’t heard that story remind me to tell you about it when I see you in person because I don’t think the text will do it justice.

Please share your opinion on the issue!

To Buy or to Grate

220px-Saw_dust_(Zaagsel)

Does that whet your appetite?  Maybe if the Pioneer Woman or Deb over at Smitten Kitchen posted it then it possibly could look a little more appetizing??  I don’t think so.  I don’t think any amount of amazing photography or food eloquence could make us excited to eat wood pulp, yet you have probably eaten more recently than you realize.

Have you ever noticed that pre-shredded cheese doesn’t taste the same as cheese freshly shredded at home?  In fact, nowhere near as good?  My sisters and I were commenting about that one time at my parents house and my dad responded that perhaps we should read the ingredients on our bag of preshredded cheese and we would find out why.  The answer?  Calcium sulfate, Cellulose, and Silica–essentially plaster, wood, and sand.  Getting hungry yet?  They put them there to prevent the cheese from drying out or from clumping together and though said not to be dangerous in small amounts, is that really want you want to put in your body??

cheese

And cheese is not the only packaged food out there feeding us this wood pulp–the use of cellulose by the food industry is on the rise.  They use it to thicken or stabilize foods, replace fat and boost fiber content, and cut the need for ingredients like oil or flour, which are getting more expensive.  It is commonly used in low-fat versions of foods to make them creamier.  So sad because I was really excited about those low-fat ice creams.  You can find a larger list of some specific foods with cellulose here.

The Wall Street Journal had an interesting article I found when I got curious about these additives, and I also saw a blogger’s take on that article that you can peruse if you are curious about things that you are perhaps unknowingly putting into your body.  This form of cellulose is apparently very different from that naturally found in foods like fruits and vegetables that provide a good source of fiber.  It is indigestible by humans, created in a lab, and can sometimes have acid added to it to help break it down.

Again, not that appealing.  But maybe you don’t care about chemicals and cancer…just grate your cheese yourself because it tastes better!!