What’s in Season: Springtime in Florida

Organic Strawberries

The first new buds of Spring are finally ripening here in Florida. According to the harvest calendar, it’s time for asparagus, broccoli, cabbage, avocado, peas and strawberries to hit the Farmers Markets.

While you’ll notice that in-season asparagus is more crisp and tender, and Spring strawberries picked at their ripest red are sweeter, you might be thinking, “but I can get broccoli and cabbage at the grocery store any time!” Here’s why eating even these easy-to-find-year-round veggies seasonally is great for you:

  1. Studies show that fruits and vegetables grown and harvested in season have up to 3 times more nutrients than those grown out of season or shipped in.
  2. Eating seasonally is easier on your wallet – the food doesn’t have to arrive via plane, train and automobile, which means you’re not paying for its gas! There are also specials on seasonal produce since it’s abundant and needs to be eaten.
  3. Out-of-season produce is more likely to undergo chemical washes and wax coatings to protect them on the long trek to your table. We don’t like wax and chemicals around here!
  4. They just taste better.

Let’s look at what Spring’s harvest can do for you health-wise:

  • Avocado is packed with fiber and vitamins and aids in detoxing the liver.
  • Peas are high in protein and fiber, promote colon health and strengthen blood vessels.
  • Asparagus contains folate and zinc, is anti-inflammatory and contains antioxidants – which make it one of the best natural artery-cleansing foods.
  • Broccoli and Cabbage are actually in the same family, and both contain powerful anti-carcinogens that fight cancer.
  • Strawberries are low in calorie and delicious, and they also contain lots of dietary fiber (lowers blood pressure, keeps digestion regular) and antioxidants. The combination of anti-inflammatory agents and antioxidants is a one-two cancer-fighting punch.

Taste the Rainbow: 5 Ways to Use Juicing Pulp

Juicer pulp rainbow

It pains me to throw away perfectly good food, even if it’s been shredded and largely dehydrated. So for those of you juicing at home, here are a few tips for reducing your waste – while reducing your waist. (If you’re on a cleanse, just freeze the pulp.)

Before you whisk that pulp into your next recipe, know that the moisture content varies depending on which juicer you use. Expect some trial and error as you adjust.

1. Green Juice Crust-less Quiche – You’ve seen those photos on Pinterest of mini breakfast quiches baked in muffin tins, right? Using muffin tins is a great way to plan easy breakfasts for the week. Just whisk together your eggs and greens (and goat cheese or feta if you’re inclined) for a delicious portion-controlled breakfast. Spinach, kale and chard pulp is the perfect healthy addition.
2. Soups & Stews – Saute your carrot, celery and parsley scraps along with chopped onion for a healthy base for broths, soups and stews. Literally, just add water (and vegetable broth or tomato juice if you want to kick it up a notch).
3. Pancakes – Carrot and sweet potato pulp make for bright orange and deliciously sweet pancakes and waffles.
4. Muffins – Use apple, carrot and ginger pulp for carrot-apple tea cakes.
5. Beet Carrot Cucumber Salad, with Goat Cheese and Toasted Walnuts – The name says it all. Combine your beet, carrot and cucumber pulp (removing any large pieces), make a simple vinaigrette (2Tb honey, 1 ½ Tb Dijon, 3 Tb red wine vinegar, 1 ½ Tb minced shallots, salt, pepper, olive oil), and toss with goat cheese and toasted walnuts. Great for picnics and potlucks.

What’s your favorite way to use pulp? Compost? Birdfood? Sweets?

4 Ways to Boost Your Juice

Heal through food

What do the Purifier, Green Protein, The Beet-nick, & Body Beautiful have in common? They are 4 of the over 30 different organic medicinal juices Intelligent Gourmet blends. If you follow me on Facebook, you’ve probably noticed more than a few posts about how we can heal ourselves through our food. I firmly believe that the solution to many of our health problems can be found in what we choose to put in our bodies.

And juicing is a powerful way to concentrate the health benefits of fruits and vegetables. Here are some of my favorite ways to Boost Your Juice.

Turmeric Root – A little goes a long way, but when you pair it with celery, Asian pear, and apple, it becomes an exotic, tasty, and very healthy treat. Turmeric has been used in India for more than 2500 years, not only for its anti-inflammatory properties, but also for its natural antiseptic and antibacterial qualities. It’s also a powerful cancer-fighter, a natural liver detoxifier and may even prevent or slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease by removing amyloid plaque buildup in the brain.

Sea Beans – Looking a little like coral, sea beans (aka Salicornia/Glasswort/Pickleweed) are actually a type of succulent that grows in salt marshes and beaches. It has a high salt content, but the flavor is similar to spinach or asparagus. A variety of “sea vegetable” like seaweed, sea beans are rich in vitamin A, C, iron and calcium. I like to put them in our gazpacho juice with tomato, lime, poblano pepper, cilantro and cucumber.

Dandelion Greens & Burdock Root – For a deep detox (and to help get the wine out of my liver) I add these to some of my juices. Both have mild diuretic properties that help flush toxins out of the system.

Hemp Protein Powder – If you’re cleansing for an extended period of time, you’ll need to keep up your protein. Hemp contains all of the essential amino acids, making it one of nature’s best plant-based proteins.

We’re coming out with more and more medicinal juices every day – so let us know what you’d like to see, and we’ll juice it up for you!

False Advertising in Food Health? You Betcha!

Photo by Susan von Struensee, licensed under Creative Commons

Photo by Susan von Struensee, licensed under Creative Commons

We may never reach a consensus on whether Lady Gaga rivals Madonna in shock value or what the best cure really is for the common cold. But we can agree on one thing: Not everything you read on the internet or in magazines is true, and that goes quadruple for food related thoughts. Let’s bust open the Top 10 Biggest Misconceptions of Mainstream Nutrition.

1.     Don’t Crack on Eggs

Hate to break it to you, but eggs aren’t evil incarnate. Nope, they don’t raise “bad” cholesterol. On the contrary, due to their crazy-amounts of nutrients and protein,  eggs for breakfast are proven to help you lose weight. Yes, even when you leave in the yolks. One of my favorite breakfasts in fact are eggs scrambled with spinach and mushroom – or spinach and salsa. It’s a great way to add more iron into your diet!

2.     Everything in Moderation: Even Saturated Fat

No joke – saturated fat is fine in moderation. In fact, in 2010 it was uncovered there is no association between saturated fats and heart disease. Indulge responsibly!

3.     Pass the Grains. Really, Pass On ‘Em

Unless you’re a vegetarian zombie who is craving some GRAIIIIINS, wheat and gluten needn’t be high on your shopping list (if at all). Gluten is being shown to raise your risk of many health problems: physical, psychological and general discomfort. That “Food Pyramid” we were all raised with is built on a faulty foundation. In fact, if I were given to conspiracy theories, I would say the grain-loving processed food manufacturers had a hand in coming up with that pyramid.

4.     Protein Doesn’t Adversely Affect Your Bones or Kidneys

In fact, a high protein diet can help steel your body against osteoporosis and kidney failure. Go forth and eat beans! Then go lift weights, because lifting weights has also proven to help strengthen bones – not just muscle!

5.     Low-Fat = Good for You. Not.

When natural fats are removed from foods in order to make them “low-fat” or “non-fat,” those foods have the flavor of sawdust. So manufacturers resort to additives like high fructose corn syrup and other harmful flavor enhancers to make a sale. And don’t even get me started on artificial sweeteners – use agave nectar instead!

6.     Quality Over Quantity: Skip the Many Small Meals Already

You’ve surely heard to eat six small meals instead of three squares, but the many meals myth may be doing more harm than good. In fact, there seems to be an increased risk of colon cancer and obesity when eating four meals a day. Try a juice cleanse for a healthier experience.

7.     Carbs + You Love

Nix those mental images of the olde fashioned food pyramid with a strip of carbs at the bottom. For most people, that diet plan won’t work – studies consistently favor a low-carb, high-fat diet over a high-carb, low-fat diet. The health benefits for a low carb diet are endless.

8.     Seed and Veggie Oils Don’t Protect You

Unless by protection you mean an increased risk of heart disease, because that’s all you get when you eat Omega 6s. Stick to the Omega 3s you know and love, like cod fish liver oil. Better yet, replace butter with avocado (and it’s a lot easier to spread!).

9.     Sugar Has Been More Than Naughty – It’s Been Very, Very Bad

Often blamed for being full of “empty calories,” it’s easy to forget there are other reasons to avoid sugar. Like how it wigs out your metabolism, sets us up for unhealthy weight gain, and makes us susceptible for diabetes. If you haven’t tried that agave nectar yet, give it a go – it’s much less likely to spike your blood sugar (which makes you crave more sugary and high-carb foods).

10.  High Fat Foods Don’t Have to Make You Fat

Sure, high fat foods aren’t amazing for you when consumed in entire galloons of ice cream. But high fat foods in moderation are fat. Remember, high fat, low carb diets are known for being more healthy, not less. Moderation is key.

Now you know, and it’s time to hit the grocery store with this in mind. Enjoy!