Tag Archives: broccoli

T’was A Superfood Christmas

Christmas 2009

T’was a Superfood Christmas, and all through the house,

The decorations complete, even tea towels with Mickey Mouse.

Some snacks before dinner, cinnamon coated walnuts with care.

Saving the dark chocolate for dessert, with almonds to spare.

There was spinach and roasted pumpkin salad,

Garlic & Lemon dressing made it more superfood valid.

Took the bottle of red wine out of the gift wrap,

Steamed the broccoli, peas and beans – no time for a nap.

Tarts with cranberries and cherries adorned the Christmas platter,

Saving the blueberries for the morning, for pancake batter.

Red Wine

That was my version of the traditional Christmas poem that I’m sure you’ve heard more than a few times before.  Just because it was Christmas, it was not a reason to overindulge.  The superfoods were in abundance in our home.

Roasted Pumpkin & Spinach Salad

Superfoods contribute to a healthy body and mind.  Our Christmas Eve menu consisted of  almonds and walnuts as snacks.  The sparkling shiraz was the start of the red wine health benefits, and red wine to accompany the meal.


A mixture of different berries:  blueberries, cherries and cranberries gave us many health benefits.  Broccoli, spinach and pumpkin were packed with superfood benefits and of course, a bit of dark chocolate and sweet potato pie for dessert.

Beach Christmas Day

Christmas morning started with an early swim at the beach, to get our exercise to start the day. Then we came back and had pancakes for breakfast.  The pancake batter was wheat-free and dairy-free with blueberry superfood benefits.

Blueberry Pancake

Wishing you a very healthy start to the new year – all the best to you and yours for a fabulous 2010!


Superfoods – Almonds

Almonds in the Raw

As you can see by my past blog posts, I am passionate about the superfoods I write about.  Another one of my regular favourites is Almonds.  I carry a little almond tin with me in my handbag, and have them almost daily.  So whether I am in the office or out and about, they are a very nutritious snack and are packed with health benefits.

You know the expression, “You are what you eat” – well then, “I must be nuts!”  There are several other nuts with health benefits, but the ones I eat most are almonds.  Walnuts are a very close second in my book.

As a health professional, I feel confident in recommending a daily handful of almonds to my patients. A daily one ounce handful (about 20-24) of almonds can help to achieve an adequate intake of essential nutrients, reduce hunger, and is a heart-healthy habit.  A handful is better than reaching for things that are nutrient deficient.  Almonds are packed with the following health benefits and are very satisfying.

Almonds are heart smart and can help to lower cholesterol as part of a diet low in saturated fat. Almonds (as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol) may reduce the risk of heart disease.  Because people love to eat almonds, they are an ideal way for cholesterol-conscious patients to maintain healthy numbers. Of the 14 grams of fat found in one ounce of almonds, nine grams are monounsaturated (good fat). When choosing, organic raw almonds are best – not salted, sugared, smoked or chocolate covered!
Almonds are also very satisfying.  They may help to stave off hunger, so can be used as a healthy snack.  This makes almonds a good choice for weight loss or to maintain ideal weight. This is mainly due to the protein content (approximately 6 grams per ounce).  They also contain dietary fibre, potassium, copper, zinc, iron and vitamin E .  Almonds are the only good source of protein that is also an excellent source of vitamin E.

Almonds are also unique in that they provide various minerals that are essential for bone health, namely calcium, magnesium, manganese, and phosphorus have been implicated in maintaining bone mineral density. Almonds are comparable to skim milk and cheddar cheese in the quantity of these bone-building minerals provided in one serving. Other protein sources like chicken, beef, peanut butter, and eggs don’t offer the same.  This is a great alternative for those that are lactose intolerant.

Another health benefit of almonds is as an antioxidant source.  They are one of the leading food sources of alpha-tocopherol vitamin E. Alpha-tocopherol is the kind of vitamin E the human body absorbs best.
A one-ounce serving of almonds contains a similar amount of total polyphenols as one cup of green tea and 1/2 cup of steamed broccoli.

To receive the health benefits of almonds in other ways, they can be:

  • Added to cooking – savoury dishes such as Almond Chicken.
  • Salads – sprinkling slivered almonds on top, in various recipes.
  • Sweets such as cakes, cookies, muffins (not ideal for weight loss or maintaining ideal weight) but for that special treat.
  • Don’t forget almond butter!  Great on a cracker or biscuit!

Superfoods – Tomatoes

Tomatoes in the Raw
Tomatoes in the Raw

I had a workshop to attend over in Melbourne on the first weekend of February.  I lived in Melbourne from 1991-1996, so there were lots of things I wanted to do and see and spend extra time for while we were travelling over there.  We went for a week, but I could have easily filled up 2-3 weeks!  Oh well, I am grateful for the time we had there.  One of the things that is relevant here is the time spent with my friends that are like family; specifically the Italian couple who just celebrated their 78th (hers) and 84th (his) birthdays recently. I love to absorb their wonderful wisdom, mainly around food.  They strongly believe that what we eat and how we eat is a major contributor to their good health all these years.  They have lived in Australia since their early 20’s when they migrated to a suburb of Melbourne, Victoria.  They look fantastic for their age, and I believe that reflects the inside.  Neither one of them take any medication.  A lot of people their age are prescribed so many tablets for different conditions, they get confused what they are all for.  The vegetable and herb garden in their backyard is thriving along with their fruit trees.  The fresh produce makes up most of their meals, and they buy bread, milk, meat, fish, poultry etc. from their trusted shops over the years.  Their lives have always inspired me and tomatoes are a regular part of their diet.

They grow their own tomatoes, a few different varieties and the taste is amazing.  Fresh right off the vine either by themselves, or in a salad is great straight away.  Then incorporating them into different recipes, hot or cold.  Not just pasta or pizza, but even Greek salad or a Lebanese recipe such as tabouli!

We have all seen the various red varieties, but I didn’t realise there are over a thousand different varieties of tomatoes!  We had the traditional red ones, but I was introduced to yellow tomatoes for the first time.

Yellow tomatoes are low-acid tomatoes that still retain their unique tomato flavour and texture. The yellow tomato is a deep, bright yellow colour.  They look just like the traditional red tomatoes, only yellow.  Yellow tomatoes go well in salads and are especially tasty and beautiful in an all-tomato salad or platter that combines both red and yellow varieties.

Actually tomatoes are a fruit–oh yes, it’s a fruit–but in the United States, Australia and other countries, it is treated more like a vegetable.  Tomatoes originated in South America.  It was once called the Peruvian apple; the French called it the love apple, and the Italians named it the golden apple as the first tomatoes were yellow.  The early Spanish explorers sent seeds to Italy and they fell in love with the tomatoes, and the rest is history!

Another reason to eat pizza! Tomatoes are loaded with lycopene, an antioxidant that reduces the risk of prostate, breast, lung and other cancers, and has heart-protective effects. Research shows that the absorption of lycopene is greatest when tomatoes are cooked with olive oil. In one study, a combination of tomato and broccoli was more effective at slowing tumor growth than tomatoes or broccoli alone. How to eat more: simmer chopped tomatoes and broccoli in olive oil, top with kalamata olives and grated Parmesan cheese, or drizzle halved Roma tomatoes with olive oil, sprinkle with pepper and fresh basil torn and not cut with a knife.

A really good tomato is sweet, tender, juicy, and except for the yellow varieties, a deep rich red colour. When you get one of those hard tomatoes that tastes like cardboard, you’ve got one of the hybrids that started coming onto the market in the 1950’s, when the businessmen and scientists got together and produced a tomato that could be shipped from one coast to the other without bruising. Unfortunately, at the same time they also bred out all the flavour. We get so used to the taste of store bought tomatoes, that it isn’t until we have a fresh one from someone’s home grown vine that we realise how flavourful they are.
A great tomato is worth looking for. And the way you handle it at home is almost as important as what you choose in the first place. The most important rules to remember about tomatoes are:
Never refrigerate!
Never Refrigerate!

Refrigerating kills the flavour, the nutrients, the texture. It just kills the tomato – period.  I must admit, I was guilty of refrigerating them myself.  Sure it makes them last longer, but now I keep them out on the kitchen bench, and I buy them more often so that they are fresher more often.  They are a part of our diet, daily.

Unless you live in a really cold climate, the best tomatoes you can buy will be at your local fruit and vegetable shop, when tomatoes are in season in your area. That’s true for most produce, but it’s doubly true for tomatoes.  Don’t get me wrong. There’s nothing wrong with a Queensland tomato in Queensland, or a Victorian tomato in Victoria.  For the other side of the globe, nothing wrong with a Florida tomato in Florida, or a California tomato in California. The problem isn’t the source–it’s that the tomatoes are picked green, gassed with ethylene to make them turn more or less red, then refrigerated and shipped. Even if the tomatoes are picked ripe, they’re refrigerated before they’re shipped, and that’s the final insult.

Like other tomatoes, local cherry tomatoes, picked ripe, are going to be the best. Look for small ones.  When choosing cherry tomatoes, look for a good red color–avoid those that look orange. Also check to see if the stems are still on. If the stems are missing, chances are those tomatoes have been sitting around too long.

Tomatoes are considered “vine ripe” by the industry if they have developed a little “colour break”-that is, a small yellowish or reddish patch of colour on the skin or a starburst of yellow at the blossom end. If the tomato has a colour break or the starburst, you’ll be able to ripen it at home.  Don’t ripen tomatoes on the windowsill. Never put them in the sun to ripen. Just put them out on the counter, stem end up, in a relatively cool place – not right next to the stove or the dishwasher.  Never, ever refrigerate – not even after the tomato is ripe. If you’ve got too many ripe tomatoes, make a salad or a raw tomato sauce for pasta. Or make a cooked sauce, freeze it, and you’ll have something nice for the winter.

When I was a child, I remember my grandparents having fresh tomatoes growing in their backyard.  The taste and smell of a fresh warm tomato picked right off the vine is something that stays with you forever.  Those memories came flooding back with my trip to Melbourne and spending time with my friends and their fresh tomatoes.

Superfoods – Broccoli

Most people think of oranges when they think of Vitamin C.  I think of broccoli.  Most people think of milk or other dairy products when they think of Calcium.  I think of broccoli.

Broccoli in the raw

Did you know that broccoli has more Vitamin C than an orange!  Not only does broccoli contain antioxicants including Vitamin C but it’s a particularly good source of folate, or naturally occurring folic acid.  And for lactose intolerant individuals, it is an excellent source of Calcium!

Just one serving (1 cup) and you will be receiving health benefits of the following:

  • Vitamins C, A, E, K
  • Vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5, B6
  • Folic Acid
  • Fibre
  • Manganese
  • Potassium
  • Phosphorus
  • Magnesium
  • Protein
  • Omega 3
  • Tryptophan
  • Iron
  • Calcium
  • Zinc
  • Thiamine
  • Riboflavin
  • Niacin
  • Beta carotene

Sounds like a multi-vitamin supplement, doesn’t it?!

One of my strongest beliefs is, “Prevention is better than cure.”  By incorporating superfoods such as broccoli into your eating regime, the health benefits are numerous:

Preventing and/or slowing down the many causes of:

  • Osteoporosis
  • Macular Degeneration
  • High blood pressure
  • Anti-inflammatory conditions
  • Boils
  • Anaemia
  • Asthma
  • Heart disease
  • Cancer – in particular lung, stomach, colon and rectal

Broccoli has the most health benefits when it is eaten raw.  If you wish to cook it, then steam very lightly as it loses nutrients as it is cooked.  However, being creative and incorporating it into different recipes is another option so that you don’t get tired of eating it the same way all the time.

If you have children that don’t want to eat broccoli, try the trick my mum used when my brother and I were little – calling broccoli the “trees and shrubs” vegetable.

That was a more exciting way to see it and get the health benefits without even realising it!