Variety Really Is The Spice Of Life!

 

Mmm... "spice" conjures images of exotic places, adventure, fun and passion. Could your life use a little more "spice"? Believe it or not some adjustments to your menu planning can help infuse you with the kind of vitality you associate with a vacation. So... here are 4 easy dietary keys that will help you place variety at the heart of your daily menu planning.

 

"Fabulous" Fiber         grains

  Plant fiber is natures intestinal scrub brush. That's right... it cleans your intestines of the "sludge" that prevents your gut from absorbing nutrients that get passed along to your cells. Fiber slows down your digestion giving you more time to absorb nutrients, and makes you feel fuller longer by balancing hunger hormones so you eat less. Are you feeling the "fabulous" yet?

Most Americans eat half the fiber they need. We need 25 g to 30 g per day. The typical American diet is high in meat and processed food and contains little fiber. How are you doing in this department?

It's important you bring diversity to the  types of fiber in your meals. Your body needs fiber from different sources. This is "key" to your health. There are two types of fiber, soluble and insoluble. Remember "it takes two to Tango". So if you want to "feel like dancing", incorporate both in your diet.

*Ideally your foods sources are organic, non-GMO and locally grown.

Sources Of Soluble fiber:

  • Berries (blueberries, blackberries, strawberries)
  • Grains (oatmeal, millet and spelt)
  • Harder fruits (apples and pears)
  • Legumes (lentils and peas)
  • Seeds (pumpkin, sesame and Chia)

Sources Of Insoluble fiber:

  • Grains and cracked grains (Rice, Quinoa, Cous Cous)
  • Vegetables (carrots, celery, zucchini, broccoli, Cauliflower, beets, brussel sprouts, dark greens, sweet potatoes and russet potatoes)

 

"Fantastic" Fat       fish & veggies

     It's hard to keep up with all the controversy and information surrounding fat, and let's face it, most of us think of it as a four letter word. In reality, healthy fat does not "make you fat". In fact your body won't truly thrive without it. And you certainly won't feel very "spicy".

Trans fats found in red meat, cheese, ice cream, margarine and processed foods such as cookies and crackers may taste good, but there is nothing pleasant about the plaque they create in your arteries, or the increased risk of heart disease and levels of "bad" cholesterol. Trans fats also decrease the good cholesterol that works hard to chip away the plaque and clear your blood vessels.

Instead of eliminating fats, rethink them. Healthy fats like Omega-3, are great for you and are found in fruits, vegetables, legumes and fish. Having a "good" fat intake creates healthy skin and improves metabolism which helps with weight loss!

 

  "Fresh" Fruit       fruits

Fruit is a perfect source of glucose (healthy sugar). It’s full of antioxidants that sweep away accumulated oxidation, and reduce inflammation. They taste great and have plenty of fiber.

The darker and richer the color the more nutrients (and spice) in the fruit.  A little bit of seasonal  fruit daily, in place of dense snacks helps to balance blood sugar and makes you feel more vibrant.

 

"Fantastic" Fuel         apples

    Fuel is protein. We just  need to ask ourselves "how much is enough"? It's a misconception that you need animal food for protein. You can get all your essential protein from a plant-based diet. Consider switching some of your animal protein to plant-based protein. We get many more benefits from eating plants than from eating meat.

Did you know spinach is 45% protein, kale 45%, beats 45%, cauliflower 40%, mushrooms 30%, parsley 34%, green pepper 22%, cabbage 22%, almonds 21%, sesame seeds and sunflower seeds 21%, and tomatoes 18%.

So...it really is about variety! By focusing on variety while planning menus that include the 4 healthy keys, you'll get the essential nutrients you need to enjoy health and vitality.

After 25 years of natural foods cooking, teaching nutrition and lecturing, I know how vitally important it is, to plan delicious, simple meals that make us feel satisfied. Here is a little something to get you started. I hope you enjoy the quick and easy recipe below.

 

Grilled Hummus & Kale Wrap

Ingredients

  • One 15-ounce can of chickpeas
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons tahini
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 3 cups Tuscan kale chopped small
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 4 whole wheat tortillas ( or gluten-free wraps)

 

Directions:

  1. Rinse and drain a can of chickpeas and place them in a large bowl along with lemon juice, salt, tahini (sesame seed paste) and a clove of very finely minced garlic.
  2. Use a fork or a potato masher to mash the chickpeas until all the ingredients are incorporated but still somewhat chunky. The consistency should be slightly firmer than typical hummus, but you can always add a tablespoon of water if it's too firm. Set aside.
  3. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add one red bell pepper sliced into sticks with a splash of water (no oil needed). Give this 2-3 minutes to begin browning.
  4. Add the chopped Tuscan kale. This may seem like a lot of kale, but it will reduce down considerably. Give another 3-5 minutes, until the kale is just starting to reduce.
  5. Remove from heat and scoop the chunky hummus mix into the skillet. Mix until the hummus is evenly incorporated into the kale and red pepper.
  6. Warm your tortillas on a dry pan until soft and divide the filling between them. Roll each like a burrito. First folding the right and left edges of the tortilla towards the center. Then folding the bottom edge towards the center and rolling until the tortilla is completely wrapped around the filling.
  7. Serve them as-is or grill them on a stovetop or BBQ for several minutes till crispy. They can be served warm or wrapped in unbleached waxed paper, placed in the refrigerator and served cold.

 

If you like this and want more, go to the home page and click on Whole Foods Cooking, to find out about  "Quick & Easy Spring Meals - An Interactive Cooking Class" on Sunday, May 1.

Enjoy, Michelle

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