Archive for March, 2011

Cauliflower: A Vegetable Fit For a King

What vegetable helps prevent cancer, was once considered a delicacy in Italy, and was given an honorable place in the gardens in 16th Century France? Cauliflower!

Although many of us might consider cauliflower as being boring, tasteless and devoid of nutrients,  nothing could be further from the truth!

Cauliflower is one of several vegetables in the species Brassica oleracea, which includes broccoli, Brussels sprouts, kale and collard greens. Its name is derived from combining the Latin world caulis, meaning cabbage, with the flower alluding to the white head that we eat. Cauliflower is very much like its cousin broccoli but the head is white instead of green and it has much more of a nut like flavor.

Cauliflower is anything but devoid in nutrition and is, in fact, a nutrition powerhouse! Cauliflower is a good source of protein, thiamin, riboflavin, phosphorus and potassium, dietary fiber, vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin B6, folate, pantothenic acid and manganese.

Like broccoli, cauliflower contains several phytochemicals including sulforaphane, a compound that when chopped or chewed may protect against cancer and indole-3-carbinol, a chemical which boosts DNA repair and seems to block growth of cancer cells. Some say cauliflower also seems to work as an anti-estrogen slowing or preventing growth of breast and prostrate cancer.

Regardless, cauliflower is delicious grilled, pureed like a mash potato (see below), raw with dip or added to my family’s favorite Mac and Cheese recipe (see below)!

Cauliflower Mac & Cheese (aka “Crunchy, Crunchy Pasta”)

Head of cauliflower
Bag of pasta (Tinkyada for a gluten-free option!)
2-3 cups grated white cheese (we use Lisanatti Almond milk cheese for a dairy-free option)
Flax seed oil (optional but great for Omega 3’s!)
Whole wheat bread crumbs (or gluten-free rice bread crumbs)
Grated parmesan (optional)
Dollop of sour cream (we use dairy-free tofutti)
Sesame seeds (optional)
Olive oil or cooking spray

Cook the pasta and put it in large casserole dish. Cook the cauliflower until it is soft and either put it in a colander to mash up or place in food processor and chop up until it is chopped but not completely pureed. Add the cauliflower mixture to the pasta then add a dollop of olive oil, sour cream, a squirt of flax seed oil and the cheese and stir right in the dish. Sprinkle a little extra cheese on top, then bread crumbs, and finally sesame seeds (for those without nut allergies,) parmesan (really makes it crunchy). Place in oven and cook for 20-30 mins at 350 degrees.

The best thing about this dish is that it is even better on the second day! My husband and children adore this recipe!!!

Grilled Cauliflower

Head of cauliflower
Olive oil
Sea salt

Cut cauliflower up into pieces and place into casserole dish. Liberally drizzle with olive oil and dash a bit of sea salt on top and cook in over for approximately 20-30 minutes until brown. These are truly addictive for kids and grownups alike!

Cauliflower Mash Potatoes

1/2 head of cauliflower
2 baked potatoes
1/4 cup tofutti cream cheese
1/4 cup white cheese (we use Lisanatti’s almond milk cheese)
1 tbsp olive oil
Dash of sea salt
Dash of pepper

Boil or steam cauliflower until soft. In the oven, bake potatoes until soft. Take the skin off of the potatoes and place them in a food processor along with the cauliflower, oil, salt, cream cheese and 1/8 cup of the cheese. Process until smooth.

At this point, you can either place the mixture into smaller cooking dishes and place remaining cheese and some pepper on top and bake or you can just serve as is and dress with cheese and pepper. This is delicious and takes an old standby and makes it a bit more nutritious!

Power Up Your Performance with Greens

excerpted from Digital Running

I have just started writing for an online running magazine called Digital Running, which is written by a doctor who advises runners how to begin running and improve their performance.  He asked me to write a piece on how we can improve our performance through adding more greens to our diet.

Greens, you might ask? Yes, I said “greens,” not “protein” as you might have expected! Protein is certainly an important part of a runner’s diet with respect to building, repairing and maintaining muscle. But, so often, when I look at a client’s diet log, I see that they are loading up way too much on carbohydrates and protein, but that leafy green vegetables are sorely overlooked!

If you are training for your next marathon, or even just trying to enhance your running speed or stamina, add more dark leafy greens to your diet!

Leafy green vegetables are a nutritional powerhouse that should be an essential part of any runner’s diet! When we don’t eat enough leafy greens- particularly when we are intensely training- not only do we lose the minerals inherent in the greens themselves but we also compromise our ability to effectively absorb and assimilate the nutrients in the protein that we are eating!

Fortifying your body with nutrients before a workout and being able to replenish lost nutrients and electrolytes after a workout is essential for ideal performance and health. Gear up with greens and you will see a difference not only in your energy and vitality but also in your health and running performance!

What’s so great about greens?

When you look at the nutritional makeup of greens, you will immediately see why they are so important to your diet if you are running or working out regularly!

Greens are high in:

–  Calcium: helps with bone strength and repair
–  Iron: helps create hemoglobin and deliver oxygen-rich blood to our tissues
–  Phosphorous: works with calcium to help produce,  maintain and repair bones
–  Zinc: uses dietary protein to regenerate muscle and helps boost our immune system
–  Vitamin A: helps support growth and repair of muscle and build immune system
–  Vitamin C: antioxidant that reduces damage to body from physical training
–  Vitamin E: antioxidant that also reduces stress to body
–  Vitamin K: helps with blood clotting and heart health
–  Folic acid: works with B12 to bring oxygen to our tissues and helps with muscle repair
–  Electrolytes magnesium, sodium and potassium: essential to replenish lost electrolytes after a workout
–  Fiber: important for optimal digestion and assimilation of nutrients

Perhaps even more important than the all of this is that leafy greens contain chlorophyll, which along with iron and folic acid, helps cleanse and oxygenate the blood and bring blood to our tissues. Although we may love running and it may help us relieve stress, in actuality running is a kind of stress on the body (albeit a good one.) Chlorophyll literally energizes the blood, which leads to better performance and a reduced level of fatigue.

In addition to all of this, greens help improve liver function, improve skin quality and clear congestion, lift spirit, reduce symptoms of depression, increase energy and vitality and, some even say, help prevent cancer.

As runners and athletes, how can we afford not to have greens in our diet?

When you say “greens,” what vegetables do you mean?

Greens vegetables include kale, spinach, cucumbers, celery, parsley, Swiss chard, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, romaine, bok choy, collard greens, watercress, beet greens, dandelion, mesclun, arugula, endive, chicory, wild greens as well as sprouts such as broccoli, pea, alfalfa and sunflower sprouts

While most are familiar with the iron rich properties of spinach, kale is my absolute favorite leafy green! Kale is four times higher in vitamin C, one and a half times higher in vitamin A and K, and three times higher in the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin than spinach!!!

All of the greens have nutritional benefits, though, so you can’t make a wrong choice when it comes to greens. Just add more to your diet!

How should I add them to my diet?

Getting enough greens in our diet is tricky but with a little creativity it is an easy thing to do! Adding more greens does not mean that you have to overhaul your diet all together.  Here are my:

3 Rules for Powering Up Your Training Diet with Greens:

1) Aim for Having a Green Smoothie for Breakfast

Try to have one 3 times per week. Green smoothies are a delicious, protein and nutrition-packed way to start your day! Not only will they leave you feeling light and not tax your digestion while you are running, but other than juicing there is no other way to get the sheer amount of greens into your diet. (On the days you don’t have one for breakfast, have one for your afternoon or after workout snack.) Additionally, it is easy to add chia, hemp, bee pollen, maca, green grasses and all of the other beneficial nutrition-boosting ingredients to your smoothie creating an even more nutritious superfood meal!

2) Have a Salad for Lunch or for Dinner:

Don’t feel like you have to eat a bowl of pasta or a turkey sandwich and make a salad the main event! Have a raw spinach salad (2 cups has 6 grams of protein) and top it with avocado, protein-packed hemp seeds and heart-healthy walnuts or have a Caesar salad topped with salmon (ask them to hold the white croutons which will do nothing for you nutritionally!) Have fun with this and experiment and find what you like.

3) Have a Healthy Portion of Greens at Dinner:

Instead of the traditional formula of salmon with a side of rice and perhaps a small portion of some sort of vegetable, have salmon with tons of sautéed spinach, grilled Brussel sprouts or steamed broccoli.

Here are some of my favorite recipes!:

Power Me Up Green Smoothie

3 handfuls raw spinach or 3 stalks of Locinato (dinasaur) kale
1-1 1/2 cups almond milk (or milk of your choice)
1 frozen banana (you can also add berries)
1 tbsp ground chia (for Omega 3’s and protein) or hemp powder
Optional: maca, flax seed oil, coconut butter, green grass powder

Put all of this in the blender and blend! This is my favorite breakfast to have before a demanding workout. Not only does it leave me powered up nutritionally, but it also leaves me feeling very light and full of energy!
Kale Avocado Salad

4-6 leaves Locinato kale
1 avocado
Olive oil
Sea salt
Optional: sesame seeds and/or walnuts (or your favorite nuts)

Slice the Locinato kale into inch thick slices and place into a bowl. Slice half of your avocado on top and liberally douse with olive oil and then lemon and then add a little sea salt. With your hands mix and knead the ingredients to break up the fibers of the kale. Drizzle tahini on top and stir. Slice the remaining ½ of avocado and place on top and then top with sesame seeds or your favorite nuts.

Grilled Brussels sprouts

6-12 Brussels sprouts
Olive oil
Sea salt
Optional: rosemary

This is for all of those who were served mushy boiled Brussels sprouts their whole life and who claim to hate them!

Place Brussel sprouts in a glass casserole dish and liberally pour olive oil on them and sprinkle them with sea salt. If you like rosemary, you can also put a little fresh rosemary on top of them. Place in the oven at 350 degrees and cook until brown. Do not be scared of overcooking them! You want them to have a crispy look. Once they are cooked, serve them as a side dish to pasta or fish and enjoy!

You can do this with cauliflower or, even kale (for kale chips), and it turns out delicious as well.