CABBAGE is King

I see you!  You snurled up your nose.  Stop it – do you want your face to freeze up like that?  Seriously – I used to do the same thing.  The only way I had experienced cabbage was either drenched in mayonnaise in coleslaw or mushy-smelly cooked cabbage from my grandmother and my elementary school cafeteria.  No Thanks – I pass.  Then something awesome happened not too long ago.  I threw some in a hot cast iron skillet with some olive oil, some chopped jalapenos, a dash of garlic, pepper & salt and it was MAGIC in my bowl.   Yep.  I quickly stir fried it up. No yucky smell.  No mush.  Crisp-tender. Pure awesomeness.  Come to find out – the smell comes from overcooking; which the cafeteria ladies and my granny always did.  Since that time I’ve mixed it all up and the options are only limited by your imagination and what you have lying about in your fridge. Peppers. Ground beef. Smoked Sausage. Chicken. Spinach. Onions. Sriracha sauce. Whatever strikes your fancy and sounds good to you!

You may be thinking, but Jen!  It’s boring and how can it be good for you since it is so plain? As it turns out, it is a nutritional powerhouse.  An inexpensive nutritional powerhouse.

In the world of vegetables, the brassica family is true royalty.  The reigning king of the brood – which includes broccoli, kohlrabi, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and chard, is the Cabbage.   The cabbage family is royalty due to its nutritional benefits and cancer-fighting ability.  Oh yea – it is also one of the lowest-calorie foods on the planet.

  • Phytonutrients
    • indoles (alter estrogen metabolism in a way that is likely to reduce the risk of cancer)
    • dithiolethiones
    • isothiocynates
    • sulforaphane (a particularly potent phytonutrient that can aid in “disarming” damaging free radicals and help fight carcinogens)
  • Calcium
  • Magnesium
  • Potassium
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin K
  • beta-carotene
  • a wee bit of the eye-healthy carotenoids – lutein & zeaxanthin
  • FIBER (4g per cup of cooked; 2g per cup raw)

Cabbage is indeed a nutritional powerhouse.  It is versatile, delicious (especially with spices to Oomph it up), low-calorie, and high fiber.  On top of all that it has powerful phytonutrients that can help kick bad stuff to the curb (Mother Nature’s food IS medicine).

Grab yourself a skillet, a bit of oil, some spices, some random stuff from your fridge and make yourself some Royal food – Cabbage.  It’s King – who knew?  And that is healthy eating.   Eating healthy means you are eating food that has nutrients and supports health and keeps us thriving, not just surviving.

Stay Healthy. Be STRONG. Get After It!

Note:  Many members of the cabbage family contain goitrogens, naturally occurring substances that may interfere with thyroid function. People with hypothyroidism may be wise to consume moderately & confer with a registered dietician

 

Omega 3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids are one of the “good” types of fat that blunt inflammatory responses. They may help lower the risk of heart disease, depression, dementia, and arthritis. Omega-3 fatty acids are essential nutrients; like all other essential nutrients, including vitamins, minerals, and amino acids, they are used routinely by the body in critical metabolic functions. In the case of omega-3 fats, they are incorporated into cell membranes and are a major construction material for a large family of hormones known as prostaglandins.   Prostaglandins are, among other things, regulators of the immune system and the body’s inflammatory responses. Some classes of fat, including most omega-6 fats, are used to construct prostaglandins that accentuate inflammatory responses. The prostaglandins manufactured from omega-3s tend to help weaken such responses, and this is why fish oil is often called “anti-inflammatory” because it leads to the manufacture of hormones that blunt inflammatory responses.

Where can you find them?

 FISH & SEAFOOD

  • Salmon (Wild Alaskan Salmon is best)
  • Arctic Char
  • Sardines
  • Halibut
  • Mackerel
  • Tuna
  • Rainbow Trout
  • Anchovies
  • Oysters
  • Shrimp
  • Mussels
  • Crab
  • Cod

Those are the fish and seafood that are highest in Omega 3s.  However, eating any variety of fish that lived in the sea or rivers and lakes that are abundant with a variety of algae will reward you with some Omega 3s.

FISH OIL SUPPLEMENTS

You are looking for at least 500 mg of EPA and DPA per dosage, not the total amount of Omega 3 fish oil used to make the product (which is what the label usually highlights)Fish oil supplements from Nordic waters are noted to be especially high quality.  Single source Cod Liver Oil is also an option. Brands that I recommend:   Carlson’s and Nordic Naturals

SEA PLANTS 

“Seaweed” is the common name for countless species of marine plants and algae that grow in the ocean as well as in rivers, lakes, and other water bodies.

  •  Kelp
  • Kombu
  • Wakame
  • Dulse
  • Nori

NUTS and SEEDS

  • Walnuts
  • Chia seeds
  • Flax seeds (ground or grind the whole seeds yourself)
  • Pumpkin (pepita) seeds

OILS

  • Cod Liver oil
  • Flax Seed oil
  • Walnut oil
  • Mustard oil [can be found in Indian food stores]

 Try mustard oil in salads instead of olive oil; dark leafy greens such as spinach and kale have Omega 3s

VEGETABLES & FRUIT

Dark leafy greens

  •  Spinach
  •  Kale
  • Collards
  • Broccoli rabe

Cruciferous vegetables

  • Cauliflower
  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage
  • Brussels Sprouts

Winter Squash

Berries

  • Blackberries
  • Raspberries
  • Strawberries
  •  Blueberries
  • Mangoes

Honeydew Melon

SPICES & HERBS

Virtually all herbs and spices have a great Omega 3 to Omega 6 ratio; the ones with highest Omega 3s:

  • Oregano
  • Marjoram
  • Tarragon
  • Cloves

ZUCCHINI

Squash is plentiful right now and you may find yourself being gifted with loads of zucchini.  Local farmer’s markets will toss in extra in your bag when you aren’t looking.  You may be the victim of a hit and run: your neighbor hits up your doorstep with zucchini then runs.  What can you do with all that zucchini?  What are the health benefits?

1 medium squash has 33 calories, 2 grams of fiber, 2.4 grams of protein and provides the RDA of these vitamins and minerals:  Calcium 3%; Iron 3%; Vitamin C 58%; Vitamin A 7%; B6 15% and Magnesium 8%.  It also has a whopping 512 mg of potassium, which is great for keeping our blood pressure healthier.

How about reducing age-related macular degeneration?  Yep.  Zucchini has plenty of the carotenoids lutein & zeaxanthin which are powerhouses for eye health.  Manganese too, which aids in the production of collagen which is essential for wound healing and like Vitamin C, manganese is an antioxidant that protects against cellular damage from free radicals. Vitamin C, best known for protecting sailors against scurvy, is a water-soluble antioxidant that also helps our bodies metabolize cholesterol.  Squash in general has high water content which makes it a “high volume” food which means there is a LOT of good stuff for very few calories.

How can you add zucchini to your life?  Chop it up and add it to soup. Make a casserole with layered slices of zucchini, yellow squash, onion, green tomatoes and cheese.  Thinly slice it length-wise and use those slices instead of noodles in lasagna. Slice them in half, remove the “innards” and fill up the slices with marinara or meat sauce, sprinkle with cheese and bake.  Whip up a skillet of calabacitas.

Calabacitas is a traditional vegetable dish in New Mexico that my friend Carla introduced me to years ago. It is easy and delicious.  I always use a cast iron skillet.  Grab one and add a bit of olive oil and put the pan over medium heat; throw in some chopped zucchini along with some salt, pepper and garlic.  Stir it around a bit then add some fresh corn and some green chiles.  No recipe, it is a throw-it-together dish that takes just a couple of minutes to prepare.  Generally, I’d say 2 medium zucchini, 1 ear of corn, and half a can of diced green chiles.  Add to your taste; can’t really go wrong. Get out that skillet and whip up a batch.

STAY Healthy. Be STRONG. Get AFTER It.