Yum, sweet potatoes! This vegetable can be prepared in a variety of ways and tastes delicious with savoury spices such as nutmeg and cinnamon. This side dish is very easy to make and adds a beautiful splash of orange to your dinner plate.
- 2 sweet potatoes
- ½ tsp olive oil
- ¼ red onion
- ½ pint cherry tomatoes
- 1 ½ tbsp plain yogurt
- 1 tbsp sour cream
- 1/3 cup cilantro
- 1 avocado
- Salt & pepper
- Wash sweet potatoes very well with water. Cut into small chunks.
- Steam sweet potato until tender, approximately 15 minutes.
- Mash sweet potatoes in a bowl and add yogurt and sour cream.
- In a saucepan, heat olive oil. Add chopped onion and sauté for 3 minutes.
- Cut tomatoes in half and add to the pan, cook for 2 minutes.
- Add the sautéed mix, chopped avocado and cilantro to the sweet potatoes and mix.
- Salt and pepper to taste.
Botanically, the sweet potato is very different from the yam. However, many North Americans still refer to it by this erroneous name. The sweet potato is native to Central and South America and has been depicted in Peruvian imagery dating back thousands of years. This vegetable is available year round and can be found in many different colours such as pink, yellow, green and purple (Bovell-Benjamin, 2007). The purple sweet potato contains a pigment called anthocyanin which is under investigation for its antioxidant properties (Kano, et al., 2005). In animal models, anthocyanin has been shown to prevent the activation of key inflammation processes after consumption which reduced inflammation of brain and nervous tissues (Wang, et al., 2010). The orange variety of this tuber has a highly bioavailable concentration of the carotenoid pigment beta-carotene. Oodles of research have shown that beta-carotene is converted in the body to vitamin A which is eminent for both cardiovascular and eye health (Bobroff, 2011). This vegetable’s pigments are only one of the many ways it aids with the reduction of unwanted inflammation. A study by Ludvik et al. (2008) examined the effects of sweet potato extracts given to people with Type 2 diabetes and found that it helped to decrease plasma levels of fibrinogen and improve insulin sensitivity. Although fibrinogen is naturally found in the blood and is crucial for blood clotting, high concentrations can lead to unwanted inflammation and deterioration of the myelin sheaths that surround nerves. In addition to this vegetables anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties it contains a wonderful expanse of minerals and vitamins such as calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc and vitamins A, B, C and K. It is also a great source of complex carbohydrates and dietary fiber (USDA, 2012). Interestingly, the sweet potato is a key component of the well-known Okinawa diet. This tremendously healthy way of eating, observed in the southernmost parts of Japan, is linked with reduced risks of diabetes, obesity and several age-related diseases (Willcox, et al., 2009). So perhaps this unknowingly healthy tuber may be one of the secrets to a long and healthy life!
With the temperatures starting to plummet, there is no better time to make a large pot of chili full of healthy and colourful vegetables! This recipe is based on Jamie Oliver’s Chili Con Carne (Jamie’s Food Revolution), with a few modifications of my own. It is super quick to prepare and makes for a hearty lunch for the rest of the week.
- 1 ½ tbsp olive oil
- 1 white onion
- 2 cloves garlic
- 13 baby carrots
- 2 celery stalks
- 1 red pepper
- 1 yellow pepper
- 1 large sweet potato
- ½ tsp paprika
- 1 tsp cayenne powder
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- Salt & pepper
- 1 can chickpeas
- 1 can white kidney beans
- 1 can (28 fl oz) whole tomatoes (low sodium)
- 2 cilantro stalks
- 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- Garnishes: fresh guacamole, plain yogurt, cilantro and a wedge of lime
- Heat the olive oil in a large pot.
- Add to the pot all roughly chopped vegetables; onion, garlic, carrots, celery, red pepper, yellow pepper and sweet potato.
- Add the paprika, cayenne powder, cumin, cinnamon, salt and pepper. Stir so that all vegetables are evenly coated with the spices.
- Cook on medium heat for approximately 10 minutes, stirring a few times.
- Drain and wash the chickpeas and kidney beans. Add to the pot.
- Squash the tomatoes with a potato masher, or your clean hands and add entirety of the can to the pot. As well, fill the can ¾ of the way with water and add to the pot.
- Thoroughly clean the stalks of cilantro and chop into small pieces. Add the stems to the pot and reserve the leaves for garnish.
- Add the balsamic vinegar and stir thoroughly.
- Bring to a boil and then simmer on low with the lid slightly askew for 1 hour.
- Stir every so often.
- Salt & pepper to taste and serve by itself or on a bed of your favourite rice.
- Garnish with fresh guacamole, plain yogurt, cilantro leaves and a wedge of lime.
Chickpeas are referred to by many different names depending on where you reside; Garbanzo beans, Bengal grams and Egyptian peas to name a few. This legume is one of the earliest cultivated foods, originally farmed in the Mediterranean Basin (Saxena, 1990). Presently, it continues to be an important food in the Middle East and is favoured because of its buttery texture, nutty taste and year round availability. Chickpeas are a great food for weight loss or management because of their high fiber and protein content paired with their low fat concentration. This winning combination allows you to feel full longer while also aiding with blood sugar regulation (Balanza, et al., 2010). Chickpeas contain no cholesterol and have actually been shown to improve cholesterol levels by decreasing LDL cholesterol (Bazzano, 2008). A study by Pittaway et al., (2006) followed participants for five weeks who were randomized to either a fibrous diet supplemented with chickpeas or wheat. Comparatively the group ingesting the chickpea supplemented diet had a significant reduction in both serum cholesterol and LDL cholesterol. Furthermore, the association between increased legumes, specifically chickpeas, in the diet and a reduction in the risk of cardiovascular disease is very strong (Leterme, 2002) and warrants further research. This vegetable’s amazing nutritional content includes important minerals such as calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc. As well, chickpeas are great sources of healthy fatty acids and vitamins A, B, C, E and K (USDA, 2012). Best of all, it is easy to incorporate chickpeas into your diet since they can be found in a wide variety of recipes such as soups, salads and curries. Additionally, if you have intolerance to gluten there is high protein chickpea flour, referred to as garam, which can be used as a wheat flour substitute in many recipes. So just remember that no matter what you call this universally tasty and versatile legume it comes packed with a multitude of health benefits.
Leek and potato soup is a classic dish! The additions in this version of the recipe enhance the depth and flavour, without impeding on the ease of preparation. With the colder weather approaching, this soup is not only comforting but full of vitamins and minerals to keep you healthy during the chilly days ahead.
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 sweet white onion
- 3 leeks
- 5 Yukon Gold potatoes
- 4 cups vegetable broth
- 2/3 cup mascarpone
- 1/3 cup plain yogurt
- 1/2 cup milk
- salt & pepper
- Heat olive oil in a soup pot.
- Roughly chop the white onion and leeks (only use the white portion of the leek).
- Saute both onions in the soup pot for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Chop the unpeeled potatoes into 1 inch cubes and add to the soup pot.
- Add the vegetable broth and bring the mixture to a boil.
- Cover (with lid slightly ajar) and simmer for 25 minutes, or until potatoes are tender.
- Remove from heat and use a hand blender to puree.
- Stir in the mascarpone, yogurt and milk until combined.
- Add a generous amount of freshly ground black pepper, and a little salt.
Potatoes are considered a comfort food by many, which may stem from their Latin name that translates to soothing. This member of the nightshade family is one of the oldest cultivated vegetables, originating in the Andean mountain regions of South America some ten thousand years ago (Ames and Spooner, 2008). It is one of the most highly cultivated vegetable crops in the world because there are hundreds of nutritious varieties that are capable of growing at varying altitudes year round (FAO, 2008). This important staple crop contains dietary fiber, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, and vitamins A, B, C, E and K (USDA, 2012). Synthesis and formation of DNA is vital in the human body and the potatoes high concentration of vitamin B6 provides the proper tools necessary for essential reactions to occur. This vitamin is not only required for normal enzymatic activity, but also plays a role in fundamental molecular messaging, normal brain function and balanced mood (Selhub, 2002). Furthermore, recent research shows that potatoes contain kukoamines which are compounds that help to lower blood pressure (Storey, 2009). In general, this tuber is frequently associated with high fat diets, perhaps because it is commonly smothered in cheese, sour cream, bacon or thrown in a bucket of high fat oil. However, this misleading view should be transformed since potatoes are full of nutrients and provide helpful, necessary support to the daily functions of the body. In fact, the potato is an excellent addition to any balanced diet since it is conspicuously low in fat and cholesterol, while high in complex carbohydrates and fiber (USDA, 2012). As well, the high concentration of vitamin C is eminent for a healthy immune system and even helped to prevent scurvy amongst Spanish explorers who often spent months at sea (Carpenter, 1988). Just remember to leave the skin on while cooking, as this will ensure fewer nutrients are denatured from the heat and increase your dietary fiber intake.
Tzatziki is a traditional Greek and Turkish cold sauce served with bread or meats. This delicious and refreshing recipe pairs brilliantly with lamb, beef, chicken or pork. It’s very easy to prepare and last for a few days in the refrigerator. Once you get a handle on the basic recipe, it’s easy to alter to best suite your own palate.
- 3 cups 1% plain yogurt
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 1/2 cups English cucumber
- salt & pepper
- In a mixing bowl whisk olive oil and lemon juice into yogurt.
- Add finely chopped garlic.
- Grate the cucumber and squeeze over the sink to remove as much juice as possible.
- Add grated cucumber to the yogurt mix. Salt & pepper to taste.
Cucumbers are another one of those fruits that you probably thought was a vegetable. It is considered a fruit because it is the ripened ovary of the seed-bearing vine plant from which it grows. Cucumbers are native to India and are one of the most farmed fruits in the world since they thrive in both temperate and tropical environments (Huang et al., 2009). Three varieties exist which are slicing, pickling and burpless, and each type ranges in size, colour, shape and texture (Ariana and Lu, 2010). Although there is a lack of research on the direct nutritional benefit of cucumbers, its genome has recently been sequenced by Huang et al. in 2009.This member of the gourd family contains vitamins A, C, E and K, as well as calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, folate and several phytonutrients (USDA, 2012). The high concentration of vitamin K is known to promote bone formation and improve bone density (Bugel, 2008). Furthermore, extensive research has shown that calcium and magnesium rich diets are vital for good bone health (Ishimi, 2010). The cucumber also aids in weight maintenance since it is a very low calorie food (only 15 kcal/100g), full of important dietary fiber and considerable amounts of water (USDA, 2012). So this summer be cool as a cucumber with this cold sauce which contains a winning combination of vitamins and minerals.
Spending the summer at a cottage or camping is a lot of fun and it’s nice to plan meals that are easy to prepare so that you can enjoy more of the outdoors. This fresh and tasty salad was introduced to me by my boyfriend’s mother, Ina. Although Ina can make any dish imaginable she also masters the simple side salads. So try this easy to make recipe next time you are up at the cottage or camping and I’m sure you’ll enjoy it!
- 1 Bushel of Radishes
- 1/2 cup 1% cottage cheese
- 1/2 cup low fat sour cream (can also use plain yogurt)
- 2 green onions
- fresh black pepper
- Combine cottage cheese and sour cream (or yogurt) in a bowl.
- Crack a generous amount of fresh black pepper into the bowl and mix thoroughly.
- Thinly slice radishes and green onions, and add to the cottage cheese mix.
- Garnish with green onions and black pepper.
- Can be eaten right away or stored in the fridge tightly sealed for a few days.
Radishes contain a wealth of nutrients and putting them into salads adds another dimension of flavour and increases the crunch. This common cruciferous vegetable was domesticated in Europe and named for its speedy germination process, which can take as little as 3 days (Cornell University, 2006). Radishes come in a variety of sizes, shapes and colours. This relative of turnips and mustards is found in season from April to June and October to January, which is actually more than half of the year. The radish is a rich source of calcium, folic acid, potassium, magnesium, copper and vitamins A, B6, C and K (USDA, 2012). Most commonly the root is eaten, however the entire plant is edible. In fact, there is a higher concentration of vitamin C found in the leaves, which can be added to any salad (Murray and Pizzorno, 2005). Water soluble vitamin C is very important to ingest daily because it is required for essential metabolic reactions, aids in the body’s immune response and is well known for its antioxidant properties (Higdon, 2007). The radish is also an excellent source of dietary fiber which will not only be an asset to your digestive system, but also keep you feeling fuller longer. Amazingly, 1 cup of sliced radishes contains 17.2 mg of vitamin C and 1.9g of fiber (USDA, 2012). Lastly, the radish may even have cancer fighting properties. An in vitro study by Beevi et al. (2010) examined the potential chemopreventive efficacy of an extract from the radish root and found that it specifically induced apoptosis in cancer cells. Overall, this sharp, pungent flavoured vegetable is a little bundle of nutrients full of fiber, calcium and a plethora of vitamins. If you weren’t a fan before please try this recipe because it could change your mind.