Taste the Rainbow: Colors of Plant-based Nutrition

Just because you’re eating clean doesn’t mean your meals have to be boring!  And I’m not referring to skittles and M&M’s.  In fact, the pigment of the food that you eat, (everything from your dark leafy greens to bright blue blueberries) indicates its nutritional value.  Checking your daily “color intake” is a creative method in finding all your necessary nutrients.

Red

Red fruits and vegetables include a class of more than 600 naturally occurring pigments known as carotenoids. Once ingested, cartoneoids are converted to beta-carotenes which ultimately convert to Vitamin A. Vitamin A supports the function of white blood cells (which are important for a healthy immune system), promotes bone growth, and regulates cell growth and division. Cartoneoids also are full of fiber and antioxidants quercetin, vitamin C, and lycopene.  Tomatoes, especially cooked, contain large amounts of lycopene and help maintain prostate health.  Quercetin has also been shown to prevent the loss of cartilage, so it’s helpful for keeping your bones strong and healthy for the long-haul.

RedImage courtesy of Getty Images

Try:
cranberries
raspberries
red peppers
beets
red onions
red potatoes
strawberries
rhubarb
tomatoes
watermelon
grapefruit

 

Orange

Orange foods also contain high amounts of Vitamin A.  The old wives’ tale that carrots improve your vision has been proven, so eat your carrots!

OrangeImage courtesy of Getty Images

Try:
oranges
tangerines
nectarines
apricots
cantaloupe
mangos
papayas
peaches
butternut squash
carrots
pumpkin
sweet potatoes

Yellow

Be it lemons or pineapples, add some cheerful yellow to your plate for an influx of cancer-fighting carotenoids and skin-strengthening bioflavins.

lemonsImage courtesy of Getty Images

 

Try:
lemons
Buddha’s hand (native to China and the lower Himalayas)
pineapples
yellow pears
yellow squash
yellow tomatoes
yellow peppers
yellow figs
corn (technically a grain)
yellow/golden beets

Green

You’ve probably already joined the masses and  “gone green”; those green juices are being sold everywhere these days! But it’s always good to reinforce the importance of those nutritious greens.  Green foods contain high amounts of vitamins A, C and K, iron, and smaller but still valuable amounts of other nutrients like chlorophyll, lutein, zeaxanthin, and folate.  Did you know that green veggies are also high in calcium?

GreenImage courtesy of Getty Images

 

Try:
bok choy
mesclun
turnip greens
kale
watercress
broccoli
collard greens
romaine lettuce
spinach

Blue & Purple

There are technically no naturally occurring blue foods, so even the magenta-tinted blueberry falls into a blue/purple category.  Two phytochemicals: anthocyanins and resveratrol, contribute to the bluish-purple character of many fruits and vegetables.   Anthocyanins are anti-inflammatory and anti-carcinogenic, helping in lowering the risk of diabetes, obesity, and cardiovascular disease. Resveratrol has disease preventing and anti-aging properties.  It also helps to reduce inflammation, cholesterol, and lowers the risk of cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.

 

Blue & PurpleImage courtesy of Getty Images

Try:
blueberries
blackberries
figs
currants
grapes
plums
olives
prunes
elderberries
acai berries
maqui berries
raisins.
eggplant
purple asparagus
purple cabbage
purple carrots
purple-fleshed potatoes

White/Tan

More often than not, when people start their journey towards healthier eating, the first bit or advice they receive is “avoid white foods”. This advice isn’t wholly accurate at all; white foods actually boost the body’s immune system and help in avoiding weight gain, as long as processed foods like white bread are being avoided.

If you choose to incorporate dairy into your diet, stick with low-fat (1%) or fat-free milk, yogurt, and some cheeses.  These are packed with vitamin D, calcium, and phosphorus.  Fat from dairy and oils are important for proper developmental growth, healthy skin, and to help regulate cholesterol.  Fat is also needed for transport and absorption of fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K, as well as carotenoids, all supplemented with a high-veggie diet.

high-veggie dietImage courtesy of Getty Images

Try:
pears
jicama
onions
garlic
mushrooms
ginger
Jerusalem artichokes
kohlrabi
parsnips
turnips
potatoes
fennel
white corn

Black

When filling your plate with the colors of the rainbow, don’t forget black foods. Because of their high pigment content, black foods contain more antioxidants than light-colored foods.  Plus, they contain powerful phytonutrients that aid in reducing the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and certain cancers.

BlackImage courtesy of Getty Images

 

Try:
black lentils
black rice
black garlic
shiitake mushrooms
black beans
black tea
black chia seeds

Imagine your meal as a painting, and each contributing ingredient acts as a brushstroke in healthy eating.  I recommend taking a checklist with you when you go to the supermarket (or farmer’s market) to ensure your purchases contribute to a balanced “palette.”  A diversity of colors signifies consumption of vital vitamins and antioxidants, so don’t hesitate to add color to your plate.

For more information on color related nutrition, see this article.

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FREE Public Seminar about Plant Nutrition , Fertilizer Compounding and Rooting Powder

FREE Public Seminar about Plant Nutrition , Fertilizer Compounding and Rooting PowderCollector’s Connection

Quezon Memorial Circle , Quezon City-Philippines

Quezon Memorial Circle , Quezon City-PhilippinesPhilippine Horticultural Society Inc. ( Education Committee ) in cooperation with The Philippine Orchid Conservation and Preservation Volunteers and Quezon Memorial Circle .

Because of multiple requests, the course will be presented again middle of February 2015.  Orchidology 1 will be the prerequisite of the laboratory training course: Aseptic Cultures of Orchid to be held on May 2015. This is part of the PHSI’s mission of spreading the science of Horticulture to upgrade the level of the Horticultural Industries in the Philippines.

For the month of August, the lectures will be on Basic Plant Nutrition, Fertilizer Compounding and Rooting Powder Compounding Demonstration and Workshop. The certificate course is intended for commercial nursery operators, academicians, hobbyists and students of Agriculture.  For attendees of Fertilizer Compounding, please bring calculators. Nutrient computations will be part of the exercise. This is one of the public services of…

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Blackened Salmon Quinoa Salad

Blackened Salmon Quinoa SaladThere is definitely “summer food” and “winter food”, right? Who wants to spend a hot summer day out on a boat baking in the sun and then come home to a nice hot casserole? Not I!

I prefer to come home to something fresh, light, and colorful. Salads, grilling, and ICE CREAM particularly come to mind. Today I have the perfect summer salad for you that can be served as a main dish or even as a side at a BBQ or Memorial Day party.

This salad is full of healthy fish fats, whole grains, legumes, fruits and veggies. I mean, come on. And it only takes about 20 minutes to make. Its SO good. So make it this weekend. Impress your friends. I dare you.

Blackened Salmon Quinoa Salad
For the salmon:
1 pound fresh salmon fillet
1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
2 tbsps maple syrup
1 tsp…

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Three Reasons We Need to Make Cities Walkable Again

Generally speaking, cities are designed for the automobile. Even in cities like New York, where the public transit network is extensive and easily accessible, the city blocks are designed to accommodate cars and almost all pedestrian activity is directly affected by the flow of traffic and location of cars around the city. City codes are controlled by vehicle-related planning codes, and space that could be used for new business is instead dominated by expansive parking lots and “street parking”. Parking in cities is usually subsidized or free for the drivers, but the cost actually hits everyone in the grand scheme of things, due to the increased costs of goods and services as a result of the cost of parking. The following are three specific reasons that cities as a whole need to begin to move towards being more walkable and less car-centric:

Walkable Cities = Healthier Citizens

Living in a city where walking is encouraged and vehicles do not monopolize the transportation of its people, can improve both the physical and mental health of its citizens. In America, physical inactivity is the cause of almost 10% of its yearly medical bills. Bodies that don’t walk and engage in regular physical activity are more susceptible to hypertension, strokes, and heart disease. On the mental health note, walking requires less “stressful concentration” than driving does and also encourages healthy, unisolated interaction with other people (leading to friendship and networking opportunities.)

Parking Costs Much More Than You’d Think

In the early 2000s, the U.S. parking subsidy was within the range of $127 billion and $374 billion dollars a year, which made our nation’s parking budget close to the budget of our national defense budget. On a smaller scale, individual cities have been moving towards allowing businesses to pay towards farther, shared parking spaces, instead of requiring businesses to provide private parking. This has allowed cities to more accurately gauge how much parking is needed, and has increased the use of public transit and walking. The increased foot traffic has actually already lead to a healthier economy on this smaller scale.

American Downtowns are for People, Not Their Cars

This sounds like a pretty obvious point, but it’s worth noting. Narrow, shop-lined streets provide for a much more comfortable, and positive city experience than a heavily congested, parking lot/car lined street. Many officials believe that the solution to reducing congestion is to add more free-ways, and parking lots, but that’s not the case. The increase of spaces for cars just means that more cars will come. It’s in the reduction of vehicle-only spaces that we’ll be able to reduce the use of cars, and increase the quaint, comfortable feeling of traffic-less downtown spaces that we all want in our downtown areas.

 

For more information on why we need more walkable places, see this article.

 

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Sustainability and College Campuses

Sustainability is a concept sweeping college campuses. This theme comes after diversity became a well accepted practice first implemented during the 1990s. The excitement for sustainability has affected campus areas such as offices, dorms, faculty lounges, and dining halls. Today, the term sustainability not only covers issues involving the environment and clean water matters but also social justice. The movement is geared toward changing political, economic, and social structures. The ideology of sustainability is to encourage all those who are a part of campus life to view the world differently. This encouraged worldview takes place in the form of classes and full degree programs. For example, Cornell University teaches a course in “The Ethics of Eating”.

The idea of sustainability often means changing small habits for the greater good. Some things that students are encouraged to do to make these changes may include taking shorter showers or refraining from eating meat at least one day per week. St. John’s University in Minnesota push sustainability by placing emphasis on economy, environment, and equity when instructing students. This particular school also aims to become carbon-neutral in the next twenty years by making a few adjustments in daily living. By spending money on alternative energy and changing energy sources, this goal can be reached. These practices are incorporated in student’s academic experiences by presenting the idea with exercises in freshman orientation and then having the seniors take a sustainability literacy assessment.

Many students are attracted to the idea of sustainability on their college campuses because it provides them a sense of meaning and purpose. It gives students a chance to exercise moralistic behavior that has the power to restore and restructure the Earth. The element of community is also a desirable aspect of participating in sustainability efforts. A debatable thought related to sustainability may include its close relation to religious practices. Some refer to the practice as the Church of Sustainability which hails its themes from Judeo-Christianity.

To learn more about sustainability on college campuses visit the Star Tribune here.

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Transition to a Plant Based Diet the Right Way

Once you’ve made the decision to shift to a plant based diet (congratulations!), don’t let the pressure of that decision feel like a weight on your psyche. Everyone makes the shift at their own pace, and the speed at which you switch over does not matter as much as you think it does. If you are like most people, you’re not going to go from eating steak one day to only greens the next. The following are some tips to making a gradual shift; you don’t have to quit meat cold-turkey (pun intended).

Slowly Cutting Out Meat:

  • Start with meals you love – The easiest way to make the transition will be to find the foods that you love, and adapt them into meat-free versions. If you have hankerings for pastas, opt for meat-free sauces instead of the sausage and chicken heavy toppings. Chinese takeout can still be delicious with all veggies instead of beef and pork.
  • Introduce Meat Substitutes – Along those same lines, you can start to bring meat substitutes to the table. (They’re out there and they are delicious!) If you want to have a burger, substitute portabella mushroom caps for meat patties. If you’re a consistency-eater and textures are important to you, invest in texturized vegetable protein for the feeling of meat. Soy substitutes (aka tofu) also come in all shapes, sizes, and flavors, so getting rid of meat won’t be too difficult.

Then, Say Goodbye To Dairy

  • Milk & Eggs – Straying away from animal milk is not incredibly hard. Soy and almond milk taste slightly different than the standard cow milk, but the adjustment period shouldn’t be that long. Silken tofu is a great substitute for breakfast-style eggs (use turmeric for that familiar yellow color!). If your baking recipe calls for eggs, chia or flax seeds are an excellent alternative.
  • Everyone misses cheese – Time and time again, people switching to a plant based diet say eliminating cheese is hands down the most difficult part of the transition. Cheese alternatives are getting better, but it’s probably easier to think about the deliciousness that you can eat instead of the cheese flavors that you’re giving up.

Get Adventurous:

  • Many other cultures have cuisines that are almost solely plant based. Go find them and get inspired! Many regions of India are vegetarian, and there are a plethora of veggie curries and dishes that you can incorporate into your repertoire. Moroccan style whole couscous and South American quinoa are also great a grains to be aware of in your new plant-centric life.

Most importantly, have a fantastic time with your diet transition! You’re making a great change for your body, and you’ll start feeling a noticeable difference in your body within a few weeks. Happy eating!

For more information on switching to a plant based diet, refer to these two sources: one & two

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Kale Pesto

Kale Pestothesweetvegetarian

I realize I have posted quite a few recipes in my short time blogging featuring kale. I didn’t realize I love it so much, but I guess its so versatile that this veggie is like a gift that just keeps on giving!

A few nights ago t I wanted to make a pasta but do something fun with it so I decided to make kale pesto for the sauce. It came out so delicious! Instead of pine nuts I used cashews which totally worked well to make the sauce creamy, and the addition of lemon really adds a nice summery flavor. This is super quick to whip up and I bet it would be great to store. Next time I might make more so I can do that.

We paired our pesto with penne and added some slightly cooked grape tomatoes and a little bit of mozzarella cheese on top. This is on…

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