Food for Thought – Cucumber

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Known for they’re light refreshing flavour (and versitility in salads), cucumbers also have a ton of nuritional benefits.

– high fibre content aids with digestion high fibre

– high water contect is great for hydration and digestion

– contains Lignans, a polyphenol that helps to prevent certain types of cancer such as ovarian, prostate, breast cancer

– contains Silica, a trace mineral that helps in rebuilding connective tissues, promoting healthy silky hair and skin and relief in joint pain

– contains potassium and magnesium help balance blood pressure

– Vitamin B1, B5 and B7 can have a calming effect on the mind, reducing stress and decreasing anxiety

If you have organic or homegrown cucumbers the skin can have benefits for the skin regarding puffiness or burns, simply rub the flesh side of the cucumber skin on the affected area to reduce irratation and inflammation as you would with aloe. And if eaten is packed with vitamin C.

Cucumber juice helps with an increase of a certain hormone that is used in the production of insulin by the pancreas. And when mixed with carrot juice it will decrease uric acid therefore relieving gout.

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Refreshing Lemon Cucumber Drink

10 Fresh Mint Leaves
4 oz. Cucumber Juice
Lemon Juice (from 1/2 lemon)
1 oz. Simple Syrup (I made a thyme infused batch)
Few dashes of Bitters
Splash of Soda (optional)

1. Muddle mint leaves at bottom of shaker
2. Add all other ingredients (except soda) and shake until just combined
3. Strain into your glass over ice (can top with soda – to your taste)
4. Garnish with slice of cucumber, mint leaf, and lemon zest

For a pre dinner drink, or a sunny afternoon on the patio, add some Gin 🙂

Enjoy!

Your,
Natural Groove Gal

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Food for Thought – Watermelon

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Now I realize watermelon isn’t something usually eaten in the cold temperatures of winter, but I am just so stoked for my trip to Costa Rica that I’ve got tropical amazingness on my mind!

Here are some facts:

– This delicious thrist quencing fruit is also considered a vegetable as it is grown and harvested the same way as other vegetables, it’s also a member of a gourd family (Citrullus lantus) which includes squash, pumpkin and cucumber.

– They are just over 90% water – hydration for digestion

– They have a decent amount of vitamin A (helps with release of hormones, healing bones and tissues), and vitamin B6 (brain function and converting protein to energy)

– Lowers blood pressure helping with blood flow

– There are a few grams of fibre for a few slices eaten

– The rind has as many nutrients as the flesh

– The seeds have minerals like zinc and iron and they are edible – however for the nutritional benefit you would have to eat a TON of them

– They have more lycopene than tomatos which may help with disease prevention and possibly decrease muscle soreness

– They contain choline which aids with sleep, reduces inflammation and helps with muscle movement

– They also contain an amino acid called citrulline which is converted to arginine (another amino acid) by the kidney – this conversion process may lower the accumulation of fat in fat cells. This happens because an enzyme (known as TNAP) is blocked

– Wait until they are fully ripen – this equals more nutritent value – pick one with yellowish parts where it was sitting on the ground, has a softer skin (you should be able to scrape it off easily with your nail) and sounds hollow when you tap it

And a great way to enjoy this fruit is in a smoothie….bookmark this one for the summer!

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Watermelon Mango Smoothie

2 cups Watermelon (seedless), chopped

1 Mango (as ripe as possible), chopped

2 Limes, juiced

1 tbsp Honey

2 cups Ice

Blend all ingredients until smooth.

And if you want to add a little spark, add your favourite tequila and a touch of orange liqeur 🙂

Enjoy!

Your,
Natural Groove Gal

Food for Thought – Broccoli

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This amazing vegetable has many health benefits including anti-oxidents, cancer fighting components and anti-aging factors but here’s what makes it really special:

It has cholesterol lowering benefits – even more so when steamed, which brings on the binding aspects to your bile acids, pulling them out of your system along with the unwanted cholesterol.

They help with vitamin D metabolism especially for those taking supplements for vitamin D deficiency. May perhaps benefit us all to have more broccoli in the winter when our time in the sunshine is limited.

Also a great iron boost for those who are vegan/vegetarian! With lots of vitamin K, C and fibre to boot.

Enjoy raw or steamed, but try not to boil as a lot of the nutrients will be washed away with the water. Here is a delicious recipe I came across. Great for getting the kids (young and old) to eat these beautiful “tree” veggies!

Broccoli and Cheddar Bites
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16 oz. Fresh Steamed Broccoli (chopped)
1 1/2 cups Cheddar Cheese (grated)
3 Eggs
1 cup Bread Crumbs (or sub gluten free panko/gluten free bread crumbs)
salt and pepper

1. Mix all ingredients in a bowl until just combined (still chunky)
2. Form into balls and flatten into 2″ pucks
3. Lay out onto a parchment lined baking sheet and bake at 375F for 25 minutes, turning them half way through
4. Let cool and enjoy!

Your,
Natural Groove Gal

Food for Thought – Strawberries

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Did you know there are over 600 varieties of strawberries around the world? Here are a few helpful tips on how and why you should incorporate these wonderful berries into your diet.

Strawberries have polyphenols, a micronutritent that helps regulate blood sugar. They inhibit the activity of alpha-amylase which is responsible for breaking down starches into simple sugars and therefore less sugar enters the blood stream. It’s especially great for those with diabetes as it won’t spike blood sugar levels as many fruits normally would. Strawberries also have many anti-inflammatory aspects (as is with every berry, actually any fruit or even vegetable – vitamins and minerals = anti-oxident and anti-inflammatory – remember that!).

When purchasing at your local market, look for a shiny, deep red colour. Organic would be better, (but check out my list and thoughts on the Dirty Dozen). Once picked, strawberries do not ripen further. On the other hand, do not purchase over ripe either as they have been picked passed their prime and nutrients start to wither away. Once you have purchased them, eat them within 3 days to enjoy them at their best!

A high source of:

  • Vitamin C – way more than you would find in an orange – these berries pack a punch with this immune building nutrient
  • Manganese – not only does it provide anti-oxident and anti-inflammatory benefits – this mineral is great for bone and skin health
  • Fibre – need I say more?
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    Keep in mind that to get as much nutrients as possible, consume them raw! There are many ways to include strawberries into dishes. A fresh coulis, which is traditionally cooked, can be made in raw form quickly and easily with just 2 simple ingredients!

    Strawberry Sauce/Coulis

    1 cup Strawberries, halved
    1 tbsp Honey (or to desired sweetness)

    Blend ingredients and serve over your favourite dessert or add it to smoothies!
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    Enjoy,
    Your Natural Groove Gal

  • Food for Thought – Kale

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    You see this stuff everywhere now! And there are so many reasons to include this leafy green in your diet.

    Kale has high amounts of:

  • Vitamin C (boost your metabolism and immune system)
  • Vitamin A (excellent for sight)
  • Vitamin K (bone health, lowers blood clotting and cancer preventing)
  • Fibre (lowers cholesterol)
  • Calcium, even more than milk (strong bones and metabolism)
  • Iron, even more than beef (oxygen transport in blood and liver function)
    Kale also has many antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties which are key to disease and cancer prevention.There are new studies saying high consumption of kale can lead to hypothyroidism (which is a condition where your thyroid gland doesn’t produce enough hormones to regulate such functions as metabolism, temperature and protein synthesis). Kale contains a substance called thiocyanate, which can interfere with the iodine needed for the thyroid to function properly. However, this is only in extreme amounts, so as long as your not consuming kale morning, noon and night, you won’t have a problem. Again as I’ve said before, you should never have too much of a good (or bad) thing. Make sure there is balance and variety in your food choices!Here is a wonderfully delicious way to enjoy kale, which also curbs those chip cravings!

    Kale Chips

  • Kale, chopped (into chip sized pieces)
  • Olive Oil
  • Sea Salt1) Set oven to 325F
    2) Drizzle olive oil and salt over kale pieces, toss in a bowl
    3) Arrange pieces of kale on a baking sheet, make sure not to overlap
    4) Bake for 10 minutes or until desired “crunchiness”Enjoy! 🙂
  • Food for Thought – Brussels Sprouts

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    Brussels sprouts. Not the most appetizing thought. But I promise I have a delicious recipe where you can enjoy the beautiful flavours as well as benefit from many wonderful nutritional values. Here are my top three:

    One of the best nutritious perks about Brussels Sprouts are the glucosinolates; these are phytonutrients that detoxify the body and therefore is also cancer fighting!

    Next, packed full of fibre these little guys also contain a sulforaphane which prevents the buildup of bacteria to our stomach wall lining.

    Finally, they have a fair amount of Vitamin K which have anti-inflammatory properties. Inflammation is caused by many many different types of “toxins” in our own bodies caused by poor eating habits, stress on the joints, mental/emotional stress, dehydration, lack of exercise etc. Think of it as internal swelling of muscle and organs; which can then lead to various conditions, diseases and cancer. Anti-inflammatories are one of many things that can help with inflammation. And what better way to naturally get them from your food!

    You do not want to overcook these guys or they will lose a lot of their nutritional value (as it is with most foods). Cut them into quarters and let them sit for a few minutes before cooking. This allows a lot of the nutrients to be brought out. When you cook them all the layers will naturally fall apart, making the easier to chew and digest.

    I want to thank my mom for this amazing recipe. I will never eat Brussels sprouts the same way again. And it only takes 3 simple ingredients!

    Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta and Maple Syrup

    • 2 cups Brussels Sprouts
    • 100g of Pancetta (or 2-3 pieces of bacon)
    • 2 tbsp Maple Syrup

    1. Chop pancetta into desired pieces. Cook in a saucepan an set aside. Drain most of the fat out.
    2. Toss in Brussels sprouts and cook at medium-high heat for no longer than 5 minutes. Basically you want them somewhat softened.
    3. Add proccuitto back in and stir until mixed. Portion and plate, drizzling maple syrup over each serving.
    4. Enjoy!

    Food for Thought – Pineapples

    Pineapple has a high amount of an enzyme called bromelain which acts as a digestive aid and helps break down protein. It’s also a good anti-inflammatory, easing joint pain related to arthritis. Also the bromelain combined with the vitamin C content provides a relief in mucus build-up. Pineapple also has a good amount of manganese, a mineral that is critical to development of strong bones, connective tissue and energy production.

    On top of manganese, pineapple is also high in vitamin C and many of the B complex vitamins, as well as potassium and copper.

    Choose ones that are heavy for their size and free of bruises and darkened “eyes” which may be a sign it’s past its prime. It should have a sweet smell, avoid ones that smell musty, sour or fermented. A pineapple won’t ripen more after it’s picked, however, they can be stored on your counter for a couple of days, but watch it closely as it can start rotting. Alternatively you can place it in a plastic bag and keep it in the fridge for about 3-5 days.

    The best way to eat pineapple is as simple as it gets. Chop into bite sized pieces and grab some toothpicks, a fast and easy snack. Or try a pineapple pico de gallo, a great salsa for the summer, goes well with grilled shrimp or fish.

    Pineapple Pico de Gallo

    • 1 cup Pineapple, diced
    • 1 Tomato, seeded and diced
    • ¼ Onion, diced
    • ½ cup fresh Cilantro, chopped
    • 1 tsp Habanero Chili Pepper, minced (optional)
    • 2 Tsp fresh Lime Juice
    • Salt and pepper to taste
    1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to let all the flavours come together. Enjoy!

    I even love throwing some pineapple pieces into my morning smoothie once in a while. Adds some tasty sweetness! 🙂