Paint Your Plate with Green for St. Patrick's Day!

Collard greens, mustard greens, kale, Swiss chards, and broccoli rabe can be called nutrition

powerhouses for the loads of nutrients provided in just 1/2 cup servings of these vegetables.

All green fruits & vegetables are filled with antioxidants that protect our cells from oxidative damage.

More specifically, green vegetables and fruit contain the antioxidants indoles and lutein that have been

shown to promote healthy vision and reduce certain types of cancers.

Most of us reach first for apples, green peppers, green beans and kiwi fruit to fill our plate with the

green superstars. While those selections provide good nutrition, we might want to consider adding

more cooking greens to our plate for the high amounts of vitamin A and C, calcium, iron and fiber

provided by these nutrition powerhouses!

Quick ways to enjoy your cooking greens:

* Sauté greens and add to soups, stews or stir-fry dishes.

* Toss any of your cooking greens into a spaghetti sauce!

* Toss greens with a little drizzle of oil, salt & pepper. Roast greens in 350° oven for 10-12 minutes until

slightly crisp edges. Enjoy!

* Add greens to your morning smoothie for a nutrition boost even your kids won’t notice.

* Add some of these more powerful greens to your traditional salad.

Going Nuts!?

Despite the difference in size, shape, color and flavor; legumes, nuts and seeds share similar health benefits. Many American’s tend to overlook legumes, nuts and seeds as significant sources to meet their protein needs. However, just 1/2 cup of beans provides 8 grams of protein.

In addition to protein, legumes contain folate, fiber, manganese, magnesium, copper, iron, potassium, calcium and more. An ounce of nuts provides densely packed nutrients that include different plant compounds known for their aid in protection against oxidative stress from free radicals and help manage cholesterol. To reap the many health benefits provided by legumes, nuts and seeds, aim for 3 cups of beans per week and 1 ounce of nuts/seeds per day.

Healthy Gut for Healthy Digestion and Absorption of Nutrients

Many of us neglect to consider the important role digestion has on our health.  What good is eating a bowl of broccoli if the nutrients are not adequately broken down and absorbed? 

The majority of our consumed carbohydrates, protein, fat, vitamins, minerals and water are absorbed in our intestines.  Maintaining a healthy gut flora is essential for proper digestion in your small intestine.  A healthy gut flora depends on many factors; one in particular is the quality of our diet.  Certain foods known as prebiotics and probiotics have been clinically shown to restore a healthy gut flora.  Probiotics are foods that contain live strains of beneficial bacteria which aid in bolstering up your natural population of health-protecting gut bacteria.  Prebiotics are foods that beneficial bacteria like to eat.  Just like some garden fertilizers will feed your lawn and not the weeds; so true is the nature of prebiotics nourishing only the healthy bacteria. 

Some sources of probiotics include:  fermented milks, fermented yogurts, fermented dairy drinks, miso, tempeh, and sauerkraut. 

Some sources of prebiotics include: garlic, onions, leeks, bananas, asparagus and artichokes.