7 Benefits of Grapes

Eating foods with the highest level of nutrients per calorie can significantly increase longevity.  Grapes, a very nutrient dense food, can help protect you and your family with these awesome benefits:

1. Combat cardiovascular disease (CVD)

CVD is the leading cause of death in the US, claiming over 600,000 lives every year. Grapes can reduce the likelihood of your family developing CVD by,

  • Clearing and inhibiting plaque buildup in the arteries
  • Reducing LDL (the bad cholesterol)
  • Lowering blood pressure
  • Reducing inflammation
  • Preventing cell aging

Help her fall in love 3

2. Reduce inflammation

Chronic inflammation is extremely stressful for the body.  Inflammation is often thought to be a significant factor in causing cancer, CVD and autoimmune disorders – even minor nuisances such as psoriasis and rosacea!  In addition to being a powerful anti-oxidant, grapes also have powerful anti-inflammatory benefits.

3. Balance blood sugar

Grapes have a low glycemic index especially when they’re consumed whole with the skin – even better if you can get into eating the crunchy bitter seeds!  According to The World’s Healthiest Foods,

Studies have now connected grape intake to better blood sugar balance, better insulin regulation, and increased insulin sensitivity. We suspect that the strong phytonutrient content of grapes plays a key role in providing these blood sugar-related benefits.

4. Anti-aging & Longevity

‘Nough said.

5. Protect your brain

ROS (reactive oxygen species) are reactive oxygen-containing molecules that have important roles in cell signaling as well as homeostasis (your body’s way of keeping things balanced such as your PH).  Under normal circumstances, this is exactly what should happen.  However, when ROS levels increase dramatically, cell structures can be damaged and over a long period of time can lead to what’s known as oxidative stress.

What does this have to with grapes you might ask?  Grapes can prevent excess accumulation of ROS from forming in the brain.  While there is still much needed research to better understand the affects grapes have on the brain, there is an overwhelming amount of research that shows oxidative stress is a contributor to a plethora of diseases including Alzheimer’s.  Enjoying grapes on a regular basis is a risk-free precaution worth taking.

6. Anti-bacterial & Anti-microbial

Grapes contain oligopeptides, AKA peptides, which are small protein-like molecules that have anti-bacterial properties.  The phytonutrients found in grapes are also anti-microbial.  All of this combined with grapes’ vitamin C can help keep your little one from getting sick.

7. Butt-kicking cancer fighting properties.

If you have the time to watch this, it is certainly worth it!

{A bit of history}

According to The Journal of Nutrition,

“The medicinal value of the grapevine and its fruit, Vitis vinifera, has been recognized for over 6000 y. In ancient Egypt, sap from grapevines was made into an ointment to treat skin and eye conditions. The fruit was crushed into wine elixirs or ripened to serve as therapeutics for a multitude of conditions, including nausea, constipation, cholera, smallpox, liver disease, and cancers.”

Photo courtesy (from left to right): winesisterhood.com, wherethecookiesare.com,vegetariantimes.com

{Photo courtesy (from left to right): winesisterhood.com, wherethecookiesare.com,vegetariantimes.com}

Making grapes a part of your day-to-day

  1. Wash well & choose organic (when possible) – You can use a water/vinegar solution from Good Green Habits or Sarah’s salt with baking soda from Nature’s Nurture.
  2. Read about themOur Oliver & Friends’ Great Grape Adventure is a children’s book packed with fun adventure and filled with sneaky education about health that’ll get them super excited about eating grapes.
  3. Freeze them –  Frozen grapes make a perfect replacement for candy.  Kids absolutely love them.
  4. Enjoy them in a salad –  The vitamin C in grapes is a perfect way to increase the veggies’ nutrients. Check out this mouth watering vegan salad from Vegetarian Times (shown above):

Roasted Shallot, Squash, Grape, and Green Bean Salad

Serves 4

This salad’s earthy flavors heralds the arrival of fall. Grating garlic on an Oxo or Microplane zester/grater delivers the same burst of flavor as crushing garlic in a press, but it’s faster and easier to clean up.
  • 6 oz. green beans, trimmed
  • 1 butternut squash with 4-inch neck
  • 4 large shallots, peeled and quartered lengthwise
  • 4 Tbs. olive oil, divided
  • 1 cup red grapes
  • 1 ½ Tbs. white wine vinegar
  • 1 ¼ tsp. finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • ½ tsp. finely grated garlic
  • 1 large bunch watercress, thick stems trimmed (4 cups)

1. Preheat oven to 425°F. Coat large rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray.

2. Blanch green beans in boiling, salted water 2 minutes. Drain, and rinse under cold water. Set aside.

3. Cut 6 1/2-inch-thick wheels from neck of squash. (Reserve remaining squash for another use.) Peel and halve squash wheels. Toss squash and shallots in bowl with 1 1/2 Tbs. oil; season with salt and pepper, if desired. Place squash and shallots cut side up on baking sheet. Transfer green beans to same bowl, and toss to coat with oil that remains in bowl. Place green beans and grapes on baking sheet, separated slightly from squash and shallots. Roast 8 minutes, or until green beans are crisp-tender and grapes are warmed through. Remove green beans and grapes to foil sheet. Roast squash and shallots 15 to 20 minutes more, or until browned.

4. Whisk together remaining 2 1/2 Tbs. oil, vinegar, rosemary, and garlic in bowl. Season with salt and pepper, if desired.

5. Divide watercress among serving plates. Divide squash, shallots, green beans, and grapes among serving plates, and drizzle with dressing.

 

Please remember to share with others that health is a learnable skill and a journey worth taking.

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References

Brain Aging: Models, Methods, Mechanisms: ch.15 – Oxidative Stress and the Aging Brain: From Theory to Prevention.
Carmelina Gemma, Jennifer Vila, Adam Bachstetter, and Paula C. Bickford
CRC Press/Taylor & Francis; 2007

Antimicrobial and other oligopeptides of grapes
Olga L. Voronina, Alexander Zamyatnin
Universidad Tecnica Federico Santa Maria, Departamento de Informatica, El Centro Cientifico Tecnologico de Valparaiso, Valparaiso, Chile. alexander.zamyatnin@usm.cl
Biochemistry (Mosc). 2010 Feb;75(2):214-23.

Grapes and Cardiovascular Disease
Mustali M. Dohadwala and Joseph A. Vita
The Journal of Nutrition. 2009 Sep; 139(9): 1788S–1793S.
doi:  10.3945/jn.109.107474

THE Best Gazpacho Recipe you’ll ever try.

I realize that’s a bold title, but I wouldn’t put it there if I couldn’t back it up! This cold Spanish soup is a healthy must-have for hot summer days. It’s super easy to make and makes an elegant first course or a simple refreshing treat after playing in the pool. A convenient dish to have on hand, you can make it hours in advance and store it in the fridge.

Most importantly, kids love it!  We had plenty left over and within the same day, Oliver, Alexandra and Peter demolished it.  I think it has an extra attractive quality to them since no heating is necessary. Of course, the amounts of the ingredients can increase or decrease depending on your taste & what’s available in your fridge. Enjoy every sip even more knowing one serving is full of Vitamins A, K & C.

Gazpacho

Ingredients:

2 lbs ripe tomatoes (roma are a good choice), washed, cored, and roughly chopped
1 garlic clove, smashed and peeled
1 cucumber, peeled well, and roughly chopped. (Make sure it is not bitter before you use it!)
½ a piece of a green onion, white/very light green part only (about 3 to 4 inches)
½ a red pepper, washed, seeded, and chopped
½ a green pepper, washed, seeded, and chopped
2 Tb sherry vinegar (or any wine vinegar if you don’t have sherry on hand)
½ tsp salt
6 TB virgin olive oil
1 piece of bread, (try a baguette kind) preferably stale, soaked in water and then squeezed, about 4 inches long)
Cold filtered water (as much as needed to make your gazpacho smooth)

Recipe:

Put in about ½ cup of cold water into your blender. Throw all the other ingredients in and process until smooth and creamy adding a little bit of water at a time if it is too thick. Make sure that the blades don’t heat up gazpacho, so process slowly and then turn up to smooth out further. Put your finished mixture through a sieve. Pour into a carafe and store in your fridge. Garnish with a drizzle of good olive oil, small pieces of cucumber, thinly sliced green onions, and little bits of chopped tomato, or just throw in an ice cube and serve in a glass. Enjoy!

Served in a glass

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Comforting Vegan Lentil Soup!

This soup is high in fiber, protein, vitamin A, C, iron, folate, calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus. Because lentils are high in fiber, they provide you with stable energy levels. Make it a complete protein meal by serving it with wild or brown rice so that you have all the nine amino acids, essential to dietary needs.

I grew up eating this soup hearing about the great benefits that came with it, making me love it that much more.  To this day it’s one of my favorite go-tos when I’m craving a filling, yet light, meal. Here’s my mom’s great recipe straight from her, a nutritionist, talented author and fantastic cook!  :)

Nydia Lentil Soup

 

Ingredients:
1 cup lentils

1 large carrot (sliced in ½ inch pieces)

1 large celery stalk (sliced into ¼ to ½ inch pieces)

2 medium white potatoes (cut in cubes)

1 cup fresh spinach

1 tsp. turmeric

1 tsp. paprika

3 tbs. cilantro

1 tbs. parsley

2 whole garlic cloves

1 tbs. tomato paste

1 medium onion (chopped)

Recipe:
Prepare the lentils – In a large pot, boil the dry lentils in 4 cups of water uncovered.  After they have been boiling for 5 minutes, remove the lentils and drain the water. Put the lentils back to cook with 8 cups of fresh water. Do not cover the pot. Boil them until almost tender using medium heat.

Then add potatoes, carrots, celery, turmeric, paprika, cilantro, parsley, garlic, tomato paste, onions and salt to taste.

Once the potatoes are tender, add the spinach and simmer for 5 more minutes.


Bon appétit!

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Tuesday Tip: Orange Creamsicle (that’s actually good for you)

I discovered this drink in a small colorful restaurant tucked away in an old, windy city by the Atlantic.  It was listed on the menu as “Advocate”, the mistranslation making us giggle (because we’re immature) and because we love to “advocate” the awesomeness of avocado (because we’re also dorks).  The drink’s ingredients were simple – fresh squeezed orange juice & avocado.

Orange Creamsicle

The first sip is something I will cherish forever.  It tasted just like an orange creamsicle… without the heaviness and weird processed food aftertaste.  It was perfection and it made me wonder why more kids aren’t enjoying this drink that actually tastes better than the ice cream flavor that’s been synthesized in a lab. You’ll have to try it to believe me and your kids will be absolutely thrilled with this treat.  We’ll keep it just between us that it’s actually good for them when they’re begging you for more  ;)

Avocado sometimes gets a bad rap because of its fat content which is a shame because there is so much more to this perfect little package.  Here’s just the short, summarized list of all the things you and your family can benefit from by making avocado an addition to daily meals.  This drink is just one of many!

  1. No cholesterol
  2. High in monounsaturated fats (good fats)
  3. Healthy omega-6 to omega-3 ratio
  4. High in beta-carotene, fiber, folate, and potassium
  5. Anti-inflammatory benefits which come from:
    • Phytosterols
    • Other non-carotenoid antioxidants including flavonoids, vitamins C and E, manganese, selenium and zinc
    • Omega-3 fatty acids: ALA
    • Polyhydroxylated Fatty Acids (PFAs)
  6. High in carotenoids:
    • Carotenoids are a class of phytochemicals normally found in bright red and orange plants such as carrots and tomatoes.
    • Carotenoids are essential in growth and development, boosting your immune system and can help reduce the risk of heart disease.
    • The greatest concentration of carotenoids is in the dark green flesh right under the skin so don’t forget to scoop that part out!
    • Since carotenoids are fat-soluble, avocados are a perfect package in that in provides these nutrients and increases the nutrient absorption by literally binding to the digestive tract and helping transport the nutrients (by 200-400%!!!)
Mini Avocado

{this little guy dropped from our garden’s avocado tree}

Orange Creamsicle Smoothie (yields 2, 8oz servings)

16 oz of fresh squeezed orange juice

1/4 peeled and pitted *ripe* avocado (add more for added creaminess, nutrients & thickness)

That’s it!  Blend & Enjoy!

Micronutrients: Vitamins/per serving
Vitamin A: 10%
Vitamin C: 209%
Vitamin E: 2%
Vitamin K: 5%
Thiamin (vitamin B1): 16%
Riboflavin (vitamin B2): 6%
Niacin: 7%
Vitamin B6: 7%
Folate: 22%
Pantothenic Acid: 7%

Micronutrients: Minerals/per serving
Calcium: 3%
Iron: 3%
Magnesium: 8%
Phosphorus: 5%
Potassium: 17%
Zinc: 2%
Copper: 7%
Manganese: 3%
Selenium: 0%

Macronutrients/per serving
Calories: 140
Fat: 3.1 g
Carbs: 27.3 g
Fiber: 1.7 g
Sugar: 20.9 g
Protein: 2.1 g

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Tuesday Tip: 124% of Vitamin C in a Single Serving

All you need is love daikon.  One 7 inch long daikon (consumed raw) will give you 124% of your vitamin C for the day.  The added toasted sesame seeds will boost the goodness to 37% calcium and 31% of your iron and folate daily requirement.

I used to ignore this wanna-be white carrot until I came across that percentage when I was researching vitamins.  Vitamin C is very sensitive to cooking so it’s best consumed raw.  It’s also a vitamin that depletes quickly so topping off is always a good idea especially with cold and flu season coming up.

Photo courtesy: burpee.com

A third of your folate, iron and calcium condensed in a single bowl isn’t the only good news though.  Did I mention it tastes DELICIOUS!?  I used a julienne peeler to get perfect slivers of these yummy crunchy bits.  If you don’t have a julienne peeler, the $10 is certainly worth every penny.  Especially for crunchy vegetables (cucumber, radish, carrots, etc.), being able to create uniform thin slices can really make a difference in saving time and getting the best results.

Julienne Peeler

Photo courtesy: ShapeMeUp & Culinary Pro

In a bowl, mix the following ingredients for a treat you and your children will love as a snack or served over any Asian-inspired dish you’re serving for dinner.  The raw garlic gives it that spicy kick to it and the earthy roasted flavor of the sesame seeds meld all of the flavors together in perfect unison.  I hope you enjoy it!

Asian Daikon Slaw

Deliriously Delicious Daikon Slaw (serves 1)
1 daikon (7″ long)
3 tbsp toasted sesame seeds
Cilantro, chopped
Apple cider vinegar
Dash of sea salt
Thin slivers of 1 raw garlic

****These nutrients are based on just the daikon and toasted sesame seeds since the other ingredients are optional and the amount varies depending on individual preferences.

Micronutrients: Vitamins
Vitamin C: 124% (All of that comes from the daikon alone!!)
Vitamin E: 0%
Vitamin K: 1%
Thiamin (vitamin B1): 20%
Riboflavin (vitamin B2): 8%
Niacin: 9%
Vitamin B6: 19%
Folate: 31%
Pantothenic Acid: 5%

Micronutrients: Minerals
Calcium: 37% (28% comes from the sesame seeds)
Iron: 31% (23% from the sesame seeds)
Magnesium: 39%
Phosphorus: 26%
Potassium: 26%
Zinc: 16%
Copper: 54%
Manganese: 41%
Selenium: 5%

Macronutrients:
Calories: 219
Fat: 13 g
Carbs: 21 g
Fiber: 9 g
Sugar: 8 g
Protein: 7 g (5 grams from the sesame seeds)

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Our First Tuesday Tip of the Week!

Tuesday tips are weekly, bite-size tips that can help boost you and your family’s health.
We’ve been so busy with projects in the making, events and marketing that we’re going back to this blog that desperately needs some tending to!  We’re making some big changes actually but more on that later.  For now, let’s get to it because…

Pomegranates are in season  :D  and while some of you may or may not know this, I happen to live on a fruit and vegetable farm in Morocco, so it’s been quite the feast over here.  We’ve watched the fields of this ancient fruit change throughout the year.  The blossoms are an indescribable red-orange color and while you’re sad to see them go, the fruit they bare is such an exciting treat for everyone here on the farm.

Pomegranate blossoms
I normally enjoy the seeds with watercress and lemon juice or paired with eggplant but after doing some research and discovering the incredible health benefits of pomegranate, I started looking for more ways to incorporate these delicious, garnet-colored gems.

  • Pomegranate is considered to be THE most powerful anti-oxidant rich fruit of all fruits (woah.)
  • They help protect us from heart attacks, strokes, and have anti-cancer properties
  • They boost our immune system
  • Lower cholesterol
  • Lower blood pressure
  • They have also shown to speed up the removal of life-threatening artery plaque

Removing the seeds yourself can save money and increase the nutrient value of the pomegranate.  You can  check out how to do this here.  This recipe is a quick and easy way to get a lot of great nutrients packed into a little bowl of happiness.  I hope you enjoy it!

Pomegranate oatmeal

Yummy Pomegranate with Rolled Oats Recipe
1 whole pomegranate seeded
1/2 cup dry rolled oats (unfortified)
Add hot water to reach the consistency you like
Add 1 tbsp of ground flax seeds
Sprinkle 1 tsp of ground cinnamon

 

Micronutrients: Vitamins
Vitamin C: 48%
Vitamin E: 9%
Vitamin K: 60%
Thiamin (vitamin B1): 33%
Riboflavin (vitamin B2): 14%
Niacin: 8%
Vitamin B6: 13%
Folate: 32%
Pantothenic Acid: 17%

Micronutrients: Minerals
Calcium: 10% (3% comes from the cinnamon alone!)
Iron: 18%
Magnesium: 29%
Phosphorus: 31%
Zinc: 19%
Copper: 34%
Manganese: 122%
Selenium: 22%
Potassium: 25%

Macronutrients:
Calories: 431
Fat: 9 g
Carbs: 85 g
Fiber: 18 g
Sugar: 40 g
Protein: 12 g

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