Delicious Autumn Goodness with Squashes

squashes

The autumn season means cooler temperatures and heartier meals. Mother Nature in all her wisdom, has seasonal foods for a reason, and that reason is have natural harvest cycles of produce that  support our bodies, health and wellbeing during the various cooler, cold, warm and hot seasons. In the present autumn season, our bodies start to naturally crave heartier and more warming foods, and squashes are a great addition to your fall and winter menu plans.

Brimming with nutrients, both the meat and seeds of squashes offer delicious and nutritious meal options the whole family will enjoy.

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5 Super Healthy and Surprising Plant Based Food Substitutions

5 Super Healthy and Surprising Plant Based Food Substitutions

Maintaining a plant-based diet as your nutritional mainstay will reward your health and wellbeing in so many ways, you can’t imagine. And, you can incorporate many a plant based food option as a healthy food swap in your favorite guilty pleasure recipes or other recipes that need some diversion around food allergies or other food ingredient you are wishing to reduce or eliminate from your diet.

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Benefits of Fruits and Vegetables Colors: The Rainbow of Fruit and Veggie Colors Are Brimming With Health Boosting Benefits

 

We all know that eating plenty of fruits and vegetables is essential to good health. All fruits and veggies contain essential vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and other nutrients. However, some of these nutrients are color-specific.

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Food Cleanse: Detox Fast with These Foods

If you’re looking to drop weight fast but in a healthy way, a simple food cleanse can be your pathway to shedding those excess pounds. Water and juice fasting has its place, but is often hard to follow for most people no matter how good their intentions. A food cleanse on the other hand, is a great way to flush toxins and stubborn fat without starving or following any complicated weight loss program. A food cleanse can be done any time, simply by adding healthy and proven fat and toxin-flushing foods to your diet. Always be sure to choose ORGANIC only, otherwise you’ll just be taxing your body with an influx of more fat-inducing toxins, thus sabotaging your weight loss efforts.

Below, are 5 powerful food cleanse diet additions that will help you get started to a healthier, skinnier you starting today.

Lentils – One of the best plant protein sources on the planet is lentils,  offering a whopping 18 grams of dietary fiber per 1 cup serving. Plant proteins are easy to digest and highly efficient at spurring the body’s metabolic processes. Additionally, lentils are loaded with essential amino acids which the body requires to keep its detoxification system working at full speed. Research shows, that people who eat 1 cup of protein-rich plant foods daily have more energy and flatter stomachs, compared to those who eat lots of animal proteins.

Fresh Lemon Juice – Drinking half your body weight in filtered water is essential for health and healthy weight management. Additionally, adding fresh lemon juice to at least 2 of your 8-10 glasses of daily water is one of the easiest and fastest ways to flush your body of toxins, stubborn trapped fat and cellulite. Lemon is rich in ‘d-limonene’, a potent antioxidant that speeds the liver’s breakdown of fat-trapping toxins by 30% or more.

Artichokes – Artichokes are nature’s number one source of silymarin, a compound proven to break down toxins lodged in fat cells. Eating 3 artichokes a week is proven to spur weight loss, even amongst those who have a hard time losing weight. And, regular consuming fresh artichokes is also proven to help reduce fatigue, brain fog and headaches caused by toxic overload, in just weeks.

* Always be sure to choose ORGANIC only, otherwise you’ll just be taxing your body with an influx of more fat-inducing toxins, thus sabotaging your weight loss efforts.

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Red Grapes – You can speed weight loss by 25% just by adding 1 cup of fresh red grapes to your daily diet. Researchers have isolated two compounds found in red grapes that are responsible for these benefits, ‘resveratrol’ and ‘cyanidin’, which are proven to ramp up your body’s ability to flush out water-soluble toxins and excess fat. An added bonus of regularly consuming red grapes, is that it has been shown to help reduce brain and body fatigue by 50%!

Dark Green Salads – The darker leafy greens are, the richer their stores of fat-flushing chlorophyll. Spinach, watercress, romaine, kale, etc., should all be your go-to choices when building a healthy salad. Chlorophyll is extremely efficient at neutralizing and flushing away fat-inducing toxins, as well as flushing out excess water weight. It has also been proven, that chlorophyll helps the liver burn fat for fuel, revving both energy levels and metabolic processes by as much as 20% in as little as a month. Aim for 5 dark leafy green based salads a week, and absolutely stay away from commercial salad dressings. Make your own (preferable) or choose from a reputable organic company, such as Braggs for your prepared dressings.

Bon Veggie Appetit!

Gina ‘The Veggie Goddess’ Matthews

 

 

Best Vegetables for Weight Loss

Of course, it goes without saying that you should get your carbohydrates from whole foods, not refined sugar, high fructose corn syrup, or processed foods.

And, obviously, if you have to choose between a carrot and a bag of chips, the carrot should always win out. Vegetables are nutrient-dense, meaning they provide a big bang for their ‘buck.’ They are delicious, nutritious and low calorie.

However, what about variation between vegetables; are some vegetables better for weight loss than others?

The answer is yes, and, it somewhat depends on whether or not you are insulin resistant, and, partly on your individual body chemistry. Some people’s metabolic chemistry, allows them to have a higher tolerance for high-sugar vegetables, than others.

If you have a lot of weight to lose, or know that you have trouble with insulin resistance, it is best to stick to low-sugar, high nutrient vegetables. Here are eight great ones to consider:

Salad Greens: These include all leafy greens you use to make a salad. According to the American Dietetic Association, salad greens are basically “free” foods, meaning you can eat as much as you desire. They have less than 20 calories, plenty of healthy vitamins, and fewer than 5 grams of carbs per one-cup serving.

Peppers: Peppers range from mild and sweet, to fiery hot, and everything in between. All forms of peppers are excellent for weight loss and weight management. Peppers are one of the richest sources of vitamin C, which naturally boosts  immune system function, and assists in the assimilation of other nutrients. This low calorie food contains only 15 calories per serving (1/2 cup), and 1 gram of high quality dietary fiber.

Sweet Potatoes: Although sweet potatoes are higher is sugar than some other vegetables, they are jam-packed with nutrients. A 4-oz potato contains only 80 calories, has 3 grams of well-tolerated fiber, and, is one of the best sources of dietary potassium. Potatoes are also rich in vitamin C and vitamin A.

Tomatoes: One cup of cherry tomatoes contains only 25 calories, but, has an impressive 2 grams of protein, and 2 grams of fiber. The biggest health bonus of tomatoes, is that they are rich in lycopene, a potent carotenoid, which is recognized to be highly beneficial for cancer prevention, according to the Linus Pauling Institute.

Portobella Mushrooms: These large and tasty mushrooms, are packed with many health promoting compounds. Perfect for marinating and tossing on the grill, Portobellas contain copper, riboflavin, niacin, copper, phosphorus, thiamin and pantothenic acid.

Spinach: Popeye was right when he said to eat your spinach. One of the least sugary vegetables, spinach has only 10 calories per one cup serving, and plenty of fiber. Enjoy spinach as part of salad, lightly steamed, or in your favorite vegetarian casserole. Spinach is even a great addition to your healthy smoothies, and juices.

Cucumbers: Who can resist the slightly sweet taste of a fresh cucumber? They are one of the oldest known cultivated vegetables, and, are native to India. Today, they are one of the most commonly grown crops in the U.S.. Cucumbers are extremely low in calories, and, high in water, so, they’ll fill you up faster, and keep you feeling fuller longer. They contain numerous vitamins and minerals, and, cucumbers also aid in whole body detoxification, assisting the body, in the elimination of dangerous toxins.

Cabbage: Cabbage is a low calorie, high nutrient, blood cleanser, that removes free radicals and uric acid from cellular tissues, which might otherwise lead to arthritic pain, skin diseases, and gout. Cabbage is excellent roughage, high in vitamin C, and also contains beneficial iodine. Iodine is critical for proper brain, endocrine and nervous system functioning.

If your goal is weight loss, don’t fall for the “fake” packaged diet foods, that are full of artificial fillers and processed ingredients. Choose instead, to fill up on delicious, and healthy weight-loss promoting vegetables.

Eating 50 to 100 grams of carbohydrates daily, from healthy sources such as vegetables, fruits from certified raw organic sources, will promote a gradual weight loss of 2 pounds each week. Because they are so low in calories, and high in vitamins and minerals, your body will thank you for including them in your diet every day!

Remember, the best choice is always local, and organic!

Bon Veggie Appetit!

Gina ‘The Veggie Goddess’ Matthews

How to Juice

So, you have made the decision to start juicing. This is good news. Juicing is a great addition to a healthy diet and can cleanse the body of unwanted toxins, improve digestion and regulate metabolism.

Once you have decided to try juicing there are a few things to take care of before you begin. Here are some tips to help keep your juicing experience positive.

Purchasing a Juicer

Because you cannot purchase any fresh vegetable juices in a carton or a can, you will need to prepare your own juice at home. First things first, it is essential to note that a juicer is not the same as a blender. A juicer makes juice and a blender makes mush. In order to make vegetable juice, the fluid part of the vegetables must be extracted along with the vitamins, minerals and enzymes. For this, you need a juice extractor. It is necessary not to skimp on quality when selecting a juicer, you will be sorry later. Be prepared to spend a little bit of money for a decent machine, possibly $200 or more. Good juicers will make tasty juice quicker and easier than cheap models. Keep an eye out for sales or perhaps buy a juicer second-hand to save some money.

What to Juice

Anything that you can eat raw you can juice. Vegetables such as carrots, beets, cucumbers, tomatoes, squash, romaine lettuce, celery, cabbage and sprouts are excellent to start with. You can juice fruits as well, such as raw apples, grapes and melons.

I like to recommend the 80/20 method. Make sure your juices consist of at least 80% vegetables and 20% fruits.

The best and healthiest way to approach juicing is to use produce that you don’t normally eat on a regular basis. If your diet doesn’t contain a good amount of leafy greens, use those in your juices. The majority of us have no problem eating sweet succulent fruits, but, the real power of juicing comes in the form of veggies that have very little, if any amounts of sugar, but tons of vitamins, minerals and enzymes we can’t find anywhere else.

What Not to Juice

It is not really wise to juice potatoes (any kind), lima beans or eggplant. Also, leave the bananas out of the juicer and keep them in your blender for smoothies. These tend to clog the juicer and extract very little juice.

Keep it Clean

Always use organic fruits and vegetables to juice. Pesticides will make it through to your juice, so remember that when purchasing. If organic produce is not available, it is always a good idea to peel produce that has been sprayed or waxed, including apples bought at the store and cucumbers.

If you purchase organic carrots and other root vegetables, there is no need to peel them. Instead, run a bristle brush over them a couple of times while holding them under water. Beets should also be peeled before juicing as the skin is quite bitter. Drink your juice right away – it is healthier and tastier this way. Drink as much juice as you would like to in a day.

Cleaning Up

No matter how you slice your cucumber, clean-up is part of the juicing experience. Again, being prepared for this before you start juicing will help you manage the process better. A great tip for speedy clean up is to clean your juicer immediately after you enjoy your drink. If you leave it until later, cleaning will take longer.

Rinse the parts immediately under warm water and set them in the dish drainer until you need them next. Soap is not necessary as long as you rinse the parts well. Over time, they will become discolored. Pay special attention to the metal screen used to filter the pulp. It will become clogged sooner or later. Rinse it under the tap immediately after use to get rid of residue.

Healthy Juices to Consider

  • Carrot – high in vitamin A
  • Cucumber – tastes like watermelon
  • Kale – loaded with minerals and chlorophyll
  • Beet – considered a blood builder
  • Cabbage – improves a variety of gastrointestinal disorders
  • Tomato – contains the powerful antioxidant lycopene

Bon Veggie Appetit!

Gina ‘The Veggie Goddess’ Matthews

Daikon, Seaweed and Miso: Japanese Superfoods

Asian cultures are known for their good health and good nutritional habits.  We are going to explore 3 staple foods in the Japanese culture that are quite literally health superfoods.  They include Dailon, Seaweed and Miso.  Read on to find out the incredibly powerful health benefits of these delicious Japanese food staples.

Daikon

Daikon is a white radish.  It’s a natural diuretic and it cuts through fats, which is why the Japanese serve grated radish alongside tempura and other fried food dishes.  Daikon has a pungent flavor when raw, but becomes quite sweet and mild when cooked.  Daikon’s enzymes (diastase, amylase and esterase) aid digestion and detoxification.  Eating 2 tablespoons of daikon daily is a healthy choice, because we could be eating the best diet in the world, but unless we are able to break down and digest our food properly, we are not extracting all the nutrients we should be from our food, and we end up accumulating toxic waste inside our bodies.  Daikon is loaded with vitamin B6, making it a natural diuretic that flushes excess fluid from our body, fending off bloat and water weight.  For women who tend to gain water weight around the time of their monthly cycle, adding daikon is a delicious and natural way to help alleviate this.

Seaweed

Many people shy away from dishes that contain seaweed, because they are fearful of what it will taste like.  But, seaweed is actually quite tasty, and comes in many more varieties and flavors than most people imagine.  Their flavors are typically nutty and salty, and are great additions to salads, soups, vegetables and even as a snack all on their own.  There are many recipes available for using seaweed, and one of the easiest for the seaweed novice, is to use sheets of various seaweeds to wrap your favorite vegetables in.

Ocean water is rich in iodine, an essential trace mineral, that becomes concentrated in the cells of seaweed and other sea vegetables.  Many people don’t get enough iodine, and even a minor deficiency can trigger hypothyroid symptoms like chronic fatigue and weight gain.  One of the reasons why seaweed is so nourishing, is because of its natural iodine content.  It helps the body’s synthesis of the thyroid hormones T3 and T4, which regulate energy and metabolism.  Iodine isn’t the only health gem of eating seaweed though.  The ocean is brimming with minerals, and seaweed and other sea vegetables are constantly bathing and absorbing these extremely important minerals, which we also absorb when we consume these various seaweeds and vegetables.  They are chock-full of important minerals such as calcium (which revs fat burn), zinc (which boosts our immune system function) and phosphorus and iron (essential for energy), just to name a few.

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Miso

Miso is a natural antibiotic, giving our immune system a great big boost in our defense against pathogens (agent of disease / infectious organisms) and harmful bacteria and viruses.  Miso is high in protein, vitamins and minerals.  It is also very alkalizing to the blood, so it helps keep our body functions and chemistry in balance.  In addition to its wealth of vitamins and minerals, miso is also packed with healthful bacteria that are proven to lower one’s risk of contracting colds and other viral infections by 50% within just 2 weeks!  Friendly bacteria boost the body’s output of disease-fighting antibodies that ward of sickness, in addition to decreasing the severity of episodes of sickness when people do fall ill.  Regular consumption of healthful bacteria, such as that found in miso, is shown to cut incidence of fever by 72%, reduce cough by 68% and cut down on overall downtime due to illness by half.

To get the amazing benefits of miso, you’ll want to skip powdered miso.  This is because powdered miso has been pasteurized, which kills all the beneficial bacteria.  Instead, opt for unpasteurized, darker-colored miso, which is loaded with health-boosting bacteria, not to mention flavor.

Even if you’re not a fan of Japanese food, you can easily incorporate daikon, seaweed and miso into other cultural foods, including American.  Mix and match these Asian superfoods into various dishes, and with a little bit of experimenting, you’ll find some great flavor matches for your palate.

Bon Veggie Appetit!

Gina ‘The Veggie Goddess’ Matthews

Avocado Facts

Avocados were once thought to be somewhat unhealthy because of their substantial levels of fat, but, these days, avocados are widely regarded as one of the most healthy fruits available and can be used to substantially revitalize your personal health. Even though they are largely believed to be vegetables, avocados are in fact a fruit.   Avocados are generally produced in tropical climates such as Mexico, Hawaii and Florida, but can be grown in temperate climates like California and Texas, too.

Avocado Varieties

The Hass avocado, thanks to it’s ability to grow year long, is the most common avocado in the world and comprises for 80% of the market. Other types of avocado varieties include Gwen, Fuerte and Bacon, but, most chefs tend to prefer the Hass variety, due to it’s rich buttery flavor, which makes it highly versatile in the world of cuisine.

Avocado Nutrition Facts

The health benefits of avocados are numerous.  Avocados offer an excellent source of monounsaturated fats and are also very high in dietary fiber. They’re packed with B vitamins in addition to vitamin C, vitamin E and vitamin K, and, they contain 60% more potassium than bananas.

The healthy and balanced fats in avocados play an important role in absorbing carotenoid antioxidants from other healthy foods. Research shows that, unless the key nutrients present in vegetables and fruits are consumed along with healthy fat, the body has a tough time absorbing the carotenoid antioxidants.  To reiterate, your body MUST consume adequate amounts of healthy fats, in order to properly and fully assimilate the vitamins, minerals, amino acids and antioxidants from food.  For this reason, the healthy fats present in avocados play an important role in providing your body with healthy monounsaturated fats, as well as facilitating the transport of  vital disease-fighting, health-boosting nutrients to your body.

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How to Pick an Avocado

When choosing an avocado, you want to pick ones that are heavier than they look.  This indicates that the fruit includes a tremendous amount of moisture.  The avocado should be soft enough to yield to slight thumb pressure.  If it yields too much, then its overripe.  Additionally, the skin of the avocado should not have any tears or bruises.

The prime season for avocados is late winter to early spring, however, Hass avocados are usually available year-round.  Within the last few years, avocado prices have increased somewhat.  Generally, you should expect to spend any where from .50 cents to $1.50 each, depending on the size, and variety of the avocado.

Avocados are commonly used to make guacamole, but don’t just limit your avocado intake to dip.  This buttery rich fruit is delicious cubed in salads, sliced on sandwiches, as a creamy base for soups, added to steamed veggies, and mixed into smoothies.

How to Open an Avocado

1. Wash the avocado

2. Cut in half lengthwise down to and around the pit

3. Twist and separate the two halves

4. Remove the pit

5. Spoon the avocado from the skin

Bon Veggie Appetit!

Gina ‘The Veggie Goddess’ Matthews

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