Category Archives: superfoods

Only 9% of Us Eat Enough Vegetables

A study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control or CDC(1) claims we need 1.5-2 cups of fruit and 2 to 3 cups of vegetables every day. The report concluded that only 9% of us eat enough veggies and only 13% of us eat enough fruit for maximum health. This varies by state with the South being the least fruit/veggies friendly and the West the most.

Why is this important? Fruits and especially vegetables contain numerous antioxidants, proteins, vitamins and minerals that reduce the occurrence of heart disease, cancer, and weight related disease(diabetes and hypertension). Some studies even correlated fruit/veggie consumption with increased longevity. There are too many studies to mention here that confirm the health benefits.

The American Heart Assoc. defines a serving of fruit as the size of a baseball or 1/2 cup chopped or 1/2 cup of juice. One serving of veggies is one cup if raw and leafy, 1/2 cup if chopped or 1/2 cup of vegetable juice. For grains, a serving is 1 slice of bread or 1/2 cup of cooked cereal or pasta.

That’s great, but how do I include all this into my diet? That’s exactly what Jack LaLanne thought when he decided to juice all his fruits and veggies. His juice was better than store bought since it didn’t have the additives. He lived to 96, so it certainly worked for him.

I prefer to eat solid foods, so I put a large bowl of fruit right in the center of my kitchen. It serves as a constant reminder to eat fruit for all my snacks. I also add fruit to anything I’m eating at the time. I add raisins and apples to my oatmeal for breakfast. I add strawberries and spinach to pre-made superfood salad mixes from the grocery. I often eat a large bowl of super salad for a meal. I mix in some quinoa for more protein and I don’t get hungry afterwards. I wake up in the morning feeling lighter and hungry–I just love it and so will you–happy eating!    L. Johnson from www.creativeretirementforwomen.com

(1)Sifferlin, A (7-9-2015) “Only 13% of Americans Eat Enough Fruit” Time. Retrieved on 7-13-2015 from: http://time.com/3950253/fruits-vegetables-intake/

Superfood: QUINOA

The superfood quinoa(KEEN-wah) has recently become popular in healthy restaurants and homes. Since quinoa is a vegetable seed and not a grain, it is low in carbohydrates, low in sodium, high in protein, high in antioxidants and gluten free. Lets take a look at why this seed is considered a superfood.

Here is a summary of a study(1) that has outlined 10 benefits of quinoa:  Quinoa is incredibly nutritious because of its protein, fiber, manganese, magnesium.  It contains the flavonoids quercetin and kaempferol which are anti inflammatory, anti-viral, and anti-cancer. Its very high in fiber helping reduce blood sugar and lower cholesterol which helps with weight loss. It is gluten free. The protein contains all the essential amino acids. It’s also high in minerals where most of us fall short. It should improve your metabolic health by reducing blood sugar, insulin and triglyceride levels. It has one of the highest antioxidants levels on the planet.

In a life extension study(2), “Scientists continue to find evidence that this versatile grain substitute may inhibit inflammation, reduce cholesterol, quench free radicals, improve glucose levels, promote cellular energy production, support weight loss, act as a prebiotic and potentially help prevent cancer and heart disease(p97).” Quinoa contributes to your health and longevity on different levels.

There is not one food that can provide all of the essential nutrients, of course, but quinoa comes close with all of its high quality proteins. Grains often provide only partial proteins and are higher in carbs. Even the fiber in quinoa is higher compared to whole wheat or brown rice. The life extension study cites other studies which conclude that quinoa can reduce total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and triglycerides resulting in a reduction in cardiovascular disease.

You can find quinoa in most grocery stores near the rice section. Just rinse it off and cook it just like rice on the stovetop. It can be used as a side dish, but I’ve been mixing it into salads and veggie dishes. Many people use it as a breakfast cereal by adding fruit. If you haven’t tasted it yet, its a very mild flavor similar to brown rice. If you are looking for a more complex flavor, I’ve tried a mix of bulgur(durum wheat) and quinoa that works well.

The most common way I use quinoa is to mix it into my salads because it is so light and versatile. I also mix quinoa with sautéed or steamed veggies, add a little soy sauce, shrimp or chicken optional, and you have a high protein Asian entree. You can stuff avocados or bell peppers with a quinoa salad mix. You can easily replace all your rice dishes with it.  There are many recipes for quinoa on the internet and if you have a favorite, please let me know.   L. Johnson of www.creativeretiremetforwomen.com

 1. Gunnars, K (no date) “11 Proven Health Benefits of Quinoa” Retrieved on 7-9-2015 from: http://authoritynutrition.com/11-proven-benefits-of-quinoa/                                                                    2. Downey, M. (July 2015) “Superfood Quinoa A Complete, Gluten-Free Protein” Retrieved on 7-9-2015 from: http://www.lifeextension.com//Magazine/2015/7/Quinoa-A-Complete-Gluten-Free-Protein/Page-01