This year one of my goals is to eat a more plant based diet. I have always loved fruits and veggies but tend to get stuck in just a few of my "comfort" produce. I am trying to branch out with more variety not only to experience different flavors but to boost nutrition. The more varied your food intake the more nutrient rich your diet gets. I am also trying to slowly increase the portion of fruits and veggies daily and I am hoping by eating the rainbow, so to speak, it will keep me from becoming bored with the same old flavors and help me look forward to eating produce at each meal. If you are trying to incorporate more produce into your diet or just want to change things up a little, then keep reading.
This weeks produce focus: Kale and Beets!
I choses these two veggies this week because I found a really good recipe for a salad that included kale and beets. I also wanted to utilize them in other ways so the rest of what I didn't use wouldn't go to waste. They are both also nutrition power houses as I explain below.
Kale is a super food in my book. I cup of kale has only 33 calories 2.5g fiber and an abundance of immune boosting nutrients from vitamins A, C, and K...which provide caratenoids that help protect cells against viruses and vision loss as well as other nutrient giving properties. There is also a healthy amount of potassium, calcium, and magnesium that may help to lower blood pressure.
Beets aren't something that I eat a lot of, I just don't think of them. But as I am trying to include more variety into my produce diet and it's an in season veggie, and its a beautiful pink/red color for February...I decided to roast some and see if it's something I will want to add to my routine meal plans in the future. Beets are a very healthy vegetable as well(there aren't many veggies I have met that aren't), 1 small-ish beet(about 2" in diameter) has:
6g natural sugar
adequate amounts of Iron(4% DV--decrease chances of anemia), Vitamin C(6% DV--immunity), Folate(20% DV--healthy cell growth and maintenance), Manganese(16% DV--bone health and decreased risk of diabetes), Magnesium(4% DV--heart health), and Potassium(9% DV--heart health and blood pressure control)
This week I enjoyed a healthy handful of kale in my smoothie. It adds so many nutrients and has virtually no flavor when mixed into a smoothie. I recommend giving it a try. Check out my recipe below or just add some of this wonderful veggie to your favorite smoothie. My son loves this for breakfast in the morning and this recipe makes enough for 2 servings.
Breakfast Protein Smoothie
8 strawberries, tops taken off and halved
1/2 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
1 small to medium banana(not pictured), broken up into big pieces
1 handful of kale(I used curly)
2tbsp of vanilla flavored protein powder
1tsp ground flax seeds
1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
1tbsp agave syrup
Place all ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth. Pour into 2 cups and share with someone or save second serving for a snack later. Yummy! My son described the taste like vanilla strawberry ice cream.
Nutrition per serving:
Total fat: 2.6g
Sat. fat: 0.1g
Total carbs: 33g
My other fave recipe for the week using kale and beets has been the kale and beet salad I made. I got the recipe from my Diabetic Living Cookbook-Holiday Cooking. I tweaked it to make it more my own and it was such a delicious salad I think I am going to add it into my monthly menu plan for side dishes. It's just one of those clean recipes that you feel good about eating and the flavors and textures of the different vegetables and seasonings make you happy! Let me show you some pics and the recipes below:
Kale and Beet Salad
1 small bunch of kale, taken off of stems and trimmed
3 medium roasted beets, halved
1 medium shallot, sliced thin and soaked in cold water
1 medium carrot, grated
1-2tbsp sunflower seeds or other favorite seed or nut, optional
1tbsp olive oil
2tbsp fresh lemon juice
1tbsp honey mustard
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1tsp grated fresh ginger
1. Pour olive oil onto trimmed kale in a large bowl, massaging kale with your hands until kale begins turning a brighter green. Let sit and tenderize while you are making up the rest of the salad.
2. In a small bowl, mix all the ingredients for the dressing.
3. Add rest of salad ingredients and gently mix together.
4. Add dressing to entire salad, mixing into salad until well incorporated.
5. Let salad sit at room temperature for an hour before serving so the flavors have a chance to blend.
**You can also cover and refrigerate before serving, but I recommend to let it get to room temperature before serving it. It is a delicious, filling, and beautiful salad. Below, I took a pic of the original recipe from the cookbook if anyone is interested in giving it a try. Let me know if you make the original or the tweaked version and how you liked it!
Last but not least I enjoyed picking up some Beet Chips this week to munch on when I was in a snacking mood...instead of going for the potato chips: Here is what I found at the store:
These were delicious! They were crunchy and well seasoned, with a great beet flavor. There were only 4 ingredients: organic beets, sunflower oil(high oleic), sea salt, and rosemary extract...for freshness. The entire package was a serving, 1.4oz and had 160 cals, 3g fat, 29g carbs, 7g fiber, 4g protein, and 17g of sugar, but the sugar was from the beets itself...there were no added sugars. I actually didn't eat the whole bag in one sitting. I ate it in thirds over three days, but they satisfied the need for a crunchy snack and they were healthier then potato chips, an interesting and different way to get a different veggie into my plan. I will be getting these again.
I hope I gave you guys some ideas for trying a couple new veggies and hope you enjoy trying the recipes. Until next time...
In Good Health,