Spotlight On Yellow Squash

It has come to my attention I haven’t done a food spotlight post in a red hot minute.  I selfishly love doing them because I usually learn a lot more about foods I love and enjoy than I knew before I started researching the details for a post.

Me like… “wow! I’m eating so healthy!” haha

Seriously though, can you go wrong with veggies ?? I think not.

I decided to focus on one of my favorite “go to” veggies, the humble yellow squash.

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Yellow squash, also called yellow zucchini or summer squash, is a hot weather vegetable picked in its immature stage to ensure a thin, edible skin and sweet, soft flesh. This squash typically ranges in size from 6 to 8 inches long, although it can be smaller, depending on when you pick the fruit

With the recent massive recall in the states on romaine lettuce because of e coli, the shelves have been stripped bare in stores and salads, well just haven’t been happening.

Yeah I know there’s “iceberg” lettuce, but really, why does that exist??

Anyway, I digress.

Not making salads ( a huge staple in my meals) I was looking at other creative veggie ideas while we waited for the lettuce to return.

One of my favorite ways to use squash is to mix it up with other things, like zucchini, cherry tomatoes, and some red onion, add some sea salt and crushed pepper, mix up with a little olive oil and roast in oven on a high heat. I then but it under the broiler for a few minutes to “crisp” the veggies a little.

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I cannot tell you how seriously amazing it is.

Wait. First you need some nutritional facts.

One medium squash has a whole 32 calories!

One cup of raw, sliced yellow squash contains 18 calories. This low-calorie vegetable is an ideal side dish if you wish to lose weight. Yellow squash essentially has no fat — a 1-cup portion provides only 0.2 g.

A 1-cup serving of raw yellow squash provides you with 3.8 g of carbohydrates, or 2.9 percent of the 130 g suggested daily. Carbs serve as the main supply of energy for your body. Yellow squash also helps you consume the fiber you need each day; 1 cup contains 1.2 g. Fiber can play a critical role in helping you lose weight. High-fiber foods satisfy hunger better than low-fiber foods by providing more bulk in your diet. Fiber also helps regulate bowel movements and decreases your chances of developing diverticulitus, a condition that affects your colon. Include 25 to 38 g of fiber in your diet every day.

Yellow squash serves as a good source of vitamin C — each 1-cup portion contains 21.3 to 25.6 percent of the amount your body requires daily. Ascorbic acid, another name for vitamin C, is an antioxidant that blocks cellular damage from free radicals, helping to slow aging and possibly decreasing your risk of heart disease, arthritis and cancer.

One portion of yellow squash also provides 8.6 to 11.1 percent of the daily recommended value of manganese, an essential trace mineral.

Have I convinced you to try it yet?

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Just ignore my massive tree in background photo bombing me 😉

Listen if you’re sitting behind your screen gagging a little ’cause the only way you ever had it is when your Mom boiled it to death in water on the stove turning it into a form of mush well… I’m sorry she ruined you for it 😉

But wait! You’re all grown now, you should give it another chance and try it in some different recipes or try it like I suggested to you, mixed and roasted with other veggies.

It’s a winning combo to eat foods that are filling, nutritious and low calorie.

Of course I’ll offer some recipes for you to try.

 

 

 

Your turn! Do you like squash? Have you tried it? If so what’s your fav way to eat it ?

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Spotlight On Oranges

Have we talked about oranges yet in our food spotlight?

I think not.

I’ve spotlighted lots of other tasty foods, ( just look for past Spotlight posts) but realized munching on an orange the other day, I hadn’t brought it to the forefront.

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So let’s dig in!

Is there anything better than a crisp, cold orange? Sweet and tender with so much juice it runs off your chin?

One medium orange has about 80 calories, zero fat, 250 milligrams of potassium, 19 grabs of carbohydrates, and 1 gram of protein.

Loaded with vitamins and minerals the oranges biggest nutritional claim is packing a whopping 115%  of your daily Vitamin C needs.  They also contain healthy doses of Thiamin, Folate, and Potassium.

Oranges are also a rich source of various anti-oxidants that help our bodies fight diseases.

Because of it’s mineral and vitamin content it may help with heart disease and in the prevention of kidney stones.

Benefits of orange nutrition

  1. High in Antioxidants
  2. Enhances Immunity
  3. Fights Cancer
  4. Rich in Fiber
  5. Improves Heart Health
  6. Boosts Brain Function
  7. Keeps Skin Healthy

Oranges are also very acidic, which may aggravate heartburn and acid reflux symptoms in those who suffer from gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD. If you notice that oranges cause negative side effects like a burning feeling in the chest, nausea or belching, consider reducing your intake.

Orange juice and oranges do not have same nutritional benefits

While orange nutrition benefits are pretty impressive, it’s important to remember that the same benefits may not extend to orange juice. This is because oranges contain a good amount of fiber, which helps slow the absorption of sugar in the bloodstream. Orange juice, on the other hand, provides a concentrated amount of the sugar found in oranges, without any of the beneficial fiber. Commercial varieties, in particular, are pumped full of sugar and additives, minimizing the nutritional value of orange juice. Eating the whole orange is always the best way to go, and keep juice drinking to a minimum for best health benefits.

Some other interesting orange nutrition thoughts…

There are very few calories in a large orange, but they are high in fiber, vitamin C and a host of other micronutrients. Compared to apple nutrition, oranges are lower in calories and fiber but higher in vitamin C, folate, thiamine and potassium. Be sure to add both into your diet to enjoy all of the health-promoting properties.

How about some fun facts?

This is one of my favorite parts of food posts, sharing random, interesting or unknown facts about them.

Here we go….

Orange is actually a type of berry, hesperidia to be exact.

Orange trees are actually evergreen trees.

About 20% of the orange crop is sold as whole fruit. The rest are used for juices, extracts and preserves.

An orange tree can grow to over 30 feet and live 100 years.

A single citrus plant can bear over 60,000 flowers but only 1% will turn into fruit.

Valencia oranges are the most planted variety of orange world wide.

It’s thought that the reason oranges have long been associated with fertility (and therefore, weddings) is because this lush evergreen tree can simultaneously produce flowers, fruit and foliage

Christopher Columbus brought the first orange to America in 1493

Oranges are the largest citrus crop in the world

Orange trees were first grown in China

Oranges and orange blossoms are a symbol of love

And finally, after chocolate and vanilla, orange is the most popular flavor.

Yeah that shocked me too.

For me, growing up as a kid, Santa also left big oranges in the bottom of our stockings. My kids have gotten the same thing growing up and now, my grandkids too.  There have been lots of jokes from them but, they also expect to get them too haha

Ok let’s eat!

I can’t tell you all about the amazing orange without some recipes too, right?

https://cleanfoodcrush.com/orange-chicken-stir-fry

 

 

Ok your turn! How do you like oranges? Do you have any special recipes using them?

 

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Healthy Eating Tips For Dummies

One of the most overarching things I hear ( and read) are from people who want to eat healthier, who desire to do so, but often seem at a loss of where exactly to begin.

I mean, really, it shouldn’t BE hard, right?

Get the good food, eat the good food.

Why on earth are chocolate covered donuts in the basket??!

Seriously though…..

As I write this I’ll toss out the disclaimer that I’m certainly no expert on perfect nutrition. I openly and freely share my vices with you….hello powdered sugar donuts and salt and pepper kettle chips 😛

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I have just learned how to control my behaviors associated with those things. I’ve learned that those foods don’t support my athletic or health goals. I also don’t deprive myself so if I want something, I have some of it and move on.

On the whole of my day though, I make constant choices to choose wisely in what I eat.

It has been a learned process.

Some days are awesome other days are …..meh.

Ok so now that we’ve got THAT outta the way, lets continue.

You aren’t a dummy, really.

When it comes to eating and nutrition you really are largely a product of what you’ve been raised in, what you’ve been taught, and what you’ve been exposed to. Ok and you do have a healthy amount of “free will” as a grown up in your food choices as well.

You can “choose” to buy a candy bar and coke in the gas station… or you can “choose” to buy water and a banana or pretzels.

Huge difference in calories and nutritional content.

So free will goes a long way to helping us become more successful in our efforts to eat better.

I totally understand environmental factors. I didn’t grow up with a focus on healthy, moderate eating.

I grew up with good food, cooked by a mom and grandmother who knew what they were about in the kitchen ( skills they taught me to which I’m grateful) and food was all about not just eating, but comfort, family, and eating, plenty!

Seconds were just expected and a given. Everyone ate till they were in the food coma stage.

Of all things I’ve learned/taught myself these past years is to stay away from that mentality. It is a feeling I don’t like experiencing anymore, nor want to.

So some beginning steps towards getting smart with food is to understand your background environment ( what food was for you in your family, how it was treated, foods that were prepared etc) and accept your food behaviors today.

No one makes you eat anything  you don’t want or more than what you need.

In the beginning….

Ya know, when our Creator landed us here a zillion years ago, eating wasn’t complex. I have no personal experience with this but eating then was probably what it was designed for.

Food was fuel.

You ate to get fueled and you didn’t eat again till your tank was running low and you needed it. Repeat process. Spend time running from wild animals to survive ensured you got your cardio in 😉

Of course our early ancestors didn’t have all the processed, fatty, sugary non-essential foods we have today or I’m pretty sure they woulda been having brownies for dessert too.

One thing is still the same though.

Food is fuel. We need it to survive and to have adequate energy to get through our days.

It’s WHAT we choose to fuel or bodies with, how much, and how often that has become the issue.

It’s eating to eat and not eating because we have genuine hunger and need to fill our tank.

We eat to feed our eyes, mouth, and minds very often, without as much thought to what our stomach is saying.

Are we really hungry?

We’ve been given natural signals to indicate we need to eat yet many people go through their days never being aware of those signals because they never let themselves become hungry.

Back to the basics.

There are a few things you can do that can help you get smarter with your eating. They aren’t complicated or really hard, but they may feel that way as you have to intentionally work to adjust your thinking and behaviors.

Ready?

Eat when you’re hungry. When you’re authentically hungry, feed your body. You get no extra points for ignoring your hunger or pretending it isn’t there, so eat.  If you aren’t experiencing those hunger signals, find something else to do.

Eat just enough.  Now this can be a fine line to walk for all of us as we tend to eat and think we need more but if we give our bodies a little time to process what’s been taken in we would realize that we’ve had enough. One thing I’ve learned and been amazed over is how little food it really takes to satisfy my appetite and end my hunger. The same is true for you but you may have to teach yourself new patterns and behaviors with it.

Be mindful and intentional. This is where your food choices come in with the other points above. Assuming we’re all adults here, each one of us knows and makes choices over the foods and drinks we consume in our days.

put in my body

No one *makes* me go through a fast food drive thru or *makes* me buy non-essential, empty calorie foods at the stores.

I am responsible for what I do.

Same goes for you.

I’m at a point in my journey now where if I want something, I am fully aware of the choice I’m making. For those of you who still operate in a zone of feeling “guilty” over food,  ( find my post on food guilt here…  https://sassyfitnesschick.com/2018/07/07/food-and-guilty-feelings/     ) this becomes very freeing as you know you’ve made a purposeful choice and not just been swept away because you’ve deprived yourself for so long.

Making different, healthy choices won’t be easy in the beginning. Work on listening to your body and eating just enough to feed your hunger, even if your food choices aren’t the best.

As you master the first two habits, you can begin to change things you’re doing.  DON’T make sweeping, broad, extreme changes to your eating all at once. You will be setting yourself up to quit in 24 hours.

Small steps are the best steps.

progress

DO think about the foods you consume. Make a list if you have to. Which are healthy and offer good nutrition to your body? Which are non-essential empty calorie foods that don’t promote good nutrition ?

What non-essential foods could you swap for something healthier? Don’t forget what you drink too.

What non-essential. empty calorie foods do you consume that you could learn to live without or have on a less frequent basis?

Are you willing to try new things? To change you must be willing to step out where you haven’t experimented before. Add in a new fruit or vegetable to your week. Find a healthy recipe or learn to swap out higher fat ingredients for less fat options.

One of the biggest swaps I’ve made is using my non-fat, plain Greek yogurt in recipes that call for sour cream or mayo. Sometimes with the mayo I only use half to half yogurt. Not only do you cut fat and calories, you get a little extra protein thrown in too.  I also use this when making dip for veggie trays and as well as other sour cream based foods.

Look at how much added sugar or fatty foods you consume and see if you can eat less of it or make healthier swaps for something you like.

Learning to be intentional about what you put in your mouth will be your biggest challenge and your greatest victory to healthy eating.

Once you begin to master that, eating healthier begins to feel like an easy choice.

Why? Because when you build new habits, they tend to take over the old behaviors.

Undoing and changing a lifetime of learned behaviors is a purposeful and intentional choice made day by day, but with time and consistency you will be on your way to healthy smart eating and permanent lifestyle change.

What steps have you taken to becoming a smarter, healthier person?

Spotlight On Mushrooms

Mushrooms. Edible mushrooms are the fleshy and edible fruit bodies of several species of macrofungi. They can appear either below ground or above ground where they may be picked by hand.

I know, you already saw the title to this post and have thought about  checking out and not reading past this sentence. Maybe my sass and humor might keep you around for at least the next paragraph or two 😉

Maybe you’re wondering of ALL the foods on the planet why I’d make fungus the subject of my food spotlight post. Why not something tastier and prettier to look at?

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I know… I hear you.. but miss out on telling you cool things about mushrooms you may not even know?

Like get this… do you know their DNA is more closely related to a human level than plant?

Really.

They are more closely related to humans than plants.

Ahhhh… now I’ve got you!

Bet you didn’t know that, right?

So are mushrooms vegetables?

The simple answer is no, it’s not a vegetable although it’s in the vegetable family due to it’s nutritional make up.

Ok so hold on for a little science here…..

mushrooms are fruiting bodies of macroscopic filamentous fungi.  Earlier when mycology ( the study of fungi) arose it was a part of botany.  This happened because fungi were considered to be primitive plants. The biggest difference in a (plant) vegetable and a mushroom is how they get their food. Plants if you remember from middle school science, possess chlorophyll and make their own food via photosynthesis.

How handy is that?

Fungi on the other hand exist on decaying material in nature.

There are also the obvious structural differences, such as a lack of roots, leaves, and seeds.

Fungi basically have their own kingdom on the basis of cellular organization.

So the bottom line?

We share similar DNA’s.. have you ever thought much about how good mushrooms are almost like meat?

I will mention hubby strongly argues this point 😛

I won’t bog us down in anymore science stuff, go look if you don’t believe me.

Have you ever wondered why mushrooms are a good source of Vitamin D? And one of the few sources that naturally contain it?

Because like us, they can absorb it from the sunlight.

Their cellular structure allows them to absorb it just like our skin does.

Eat your mushrooms for natural Vitamin D 🙂

I hate mushrooms.

Well, not anymore.  I have to confess I haven’t started eating them till later in life. They started becoming more of a staple in my diet a few years ago, once I got past their ugly factor and bland appearance.

I can’t imagine now not tossing them in my basket with all the other produce.

They  show up in my breakfast veggie blend, salads, stir fry, and oven roasted veggie mixes.

Heck, I even grind them up and toss them in with hamburger for spaghetti or taco meat but don’t tell my family that cause they will say I’m trying to poison them.

Seriously, ground mushrooms are great add in’s to hamburger dishes. I tell you, no one will know. 😉

What’s the nutritional low down

One medium mushroom has 4 calories… 4 measly little calories… which means you can eat a whole lot of them for not much impact.

Low in calories and fat and cholesterol-free, mushrooms contain a modest amount of fiber and over a dozen minerals and vitamins, including copper, potassium, magnesium, zinc and a number of B vitamins such as folate. Mushrooms are also high in antioxidants like selenium and glutathione, or GSH, substances believed to protect cells from damage and reduce chronic disease and inflammation.

One cup of mushrooms provides 1-2 grams of protein, have no fat or cholesterol and are very low in sodium.

So let’s eat.

If you haven’t been a mushroom fan, you might have to work through your issues 😉

Mushrooms are wonderful sautéed, especially with onions. They work great in casseroles, roasted veggie dishes and more.

Try these recipes….

https://www.plainchicken.com/2016/05/marinated-grilled-vegetables.html#more

If you haven’t tried them or have reserved opinions on them, why not attempt them mingled in with other foods?

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Do I look like I’ve just harvested these out of the woods?

Don’t be fooled with the pic above, I’m no gardener. Plants come to my house to die 😛 I thought you might just appreciate all my “back yard” behind me 😉 and it made a nice drop for mushrooms….

Oh. And don’t eat those mushrooms in the woods, they can mess with your head.

Your turn… you tell me… did my post make you shudder thinking you’ll never eat fungus? Or do they find their way to your plate? Do you have ways you enjoying eating them? 

 

 

Spotlight on Bananas

Have you ever heard the term “going bananas” as a bit of speech to indicate things are crazy in life?  Lately, I feel like that’s how things are, in a good way, but just trying to accomplish all I want to do in a day. I have to remind myself not ALL things must be done.. this is where lists come in handy… mental or written. Those pesky tasks need to be kept in some sort of organized order or they can make you feel, well, a little bananas 😉

If you haven’t snapped to it yet, bananas are what’s on todays food spotlight.

Random factoid first… did you know this humble fruit, botanically, is actually a berry?

Yeah, I didn’t know that either.

Whatever.

It’s tasty and makes a great pre workout snack in my belly that usually prefers no food before endurance sessions.  Bananas are a great source of carbs, water and sugars to help athletes who are working hard. Eat one before or after for those healthy benefits.

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Nothing like a banana to fuel me pre or post workout 🙂

Oh… and a quick shout out to Constantly Varied Gear for my cool new sports top. Hubby and a lot of my friends often call me a beast in regards to my athletic shenanigans so I couldn’t resist ordering it.

Check them out, Constantly Varied Gear, for cool athletic wear.

Now… those bananas… they make a great snack whenever but lets check out some more facts on them.

Health benefits

Bananas are rich in fiber and potassium. They may also help prevent asthma, high blood pressure, diabetes and cardiovascular disease when incorporated into a healthy diet.

Potassium is an important mineral as it helps maintain fluid levels in the body and regulates the movement of nutrients and waste products in and out of cells. Potassium also helps muscles to contract and nerve cells to respond. It keeps the heart beating regularly and can reduce the effect of sodium on blood pressure. Potassium may reduce the risk of kidney stones forming as people age. In turn, healthy kidneys make sure that the right amount of potassium is kept in the body. One medium sized banana contains 422 milligrams of potassium.

Bananas are naturally free of fat, cholesterol, and sodium.

Bananas provide a variety of vitamins and minerals:

  • Vitamin B6 – 0.5 mg
  • Manganese – 0.3 mg
  • Vitamin C – 9 mg
  • Dietary Fiber – 3g
  • Protein – 1 g
  • Magnesium- 34 mg
  • Folate – 25.0 mcg
  • Riboflavin – 0.1 mg
  • Niacin – 0.8 mg
  • Vitamin A – 81 IU
  • Iron 0.3 mg

Fresh bananas are available year-round. Unlike other fruits, the ripening process of bananas does not slow down after they are picked. Bananas should be stored at room temperature.

The warmer the temperature, the faster bananas will ripen. However, to slow ripening, bananas should be refrigerated. The outer peel of the banana will darken but the banana itself will stay intact longer.

To encourage faster ripening, place the banana in a brown paper bag at room temperature.

My Mom used to say bananas just got more ripe, that they didn’t really “go bad”.  I had to part ways with her on that thought watching gnats carry one off….

Not really… but to me there is a point where there is no way I’m eating that banana…. “ripe” or not.

Actually those super over ripened bananas make freaking awesome banana bread. I have one recipe that uses whole wheat flour… it’s actually the only recipe I use for banana bread ’cause it’s just… that… good.

If I don’t forget, I’ll post it in here for you 🙂

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Nothing like a crusty, well used recipe, is there??

I am super selective in how I like my bananas and I think many people are, not just weirdo me.

They have to be this perfect, just right shade of yellow. No green anywhere (gross) and it can’t be heading into a darker yellow ’cause they seem way to sweet to me then and I just really don’t enjoy them like that.

Don’t bananas have a whole lot of sugar?

Bananas are on the sweeter side compared to other fruits.  One large banana has about 120 calories and 17 grams of sugar compared to I cup of strawberries with 53 calories and 8 grams of sugar. However, in the context of watching sugar in your diet, it should be more of the refined sugars you are concerned about ( those found in soft drinks, table sugar, and other refined added sugars)  not natural occurring sugar as found in fruit. When a nutritionist might say to limit sugars in your diet, they mean added refined sugars. Eating a piece of fruit there’s no “added” sugar.

Plus some of the carbs in bananas come in the form of dietary fiber…. 3.5 grabs per large banana…. about 15% of your daily needs.

Green bananas contain a type of carb called resistant starch . (As bananas ripen, the starch turns into sugars, making the banana sweeter.) Because resistant starch isn’t easily digested, it reduces the amount of sugar released into the bloodstream, helping control blood sugar. Research also suggests that resistant starch helps maintain the balance of healthy gut microbes.

Let’s talk more about eating them….

Do you know bananas make great add in’s to baked goods for a rich moist ( cake, brownies whatever) you can substitute half the amount of oil with mashed bananas. So if you needed a cup of oil, you could do half oil and half bananas. This reduces calories and fat but still gives that full flavor.

One fun and tasty way to eat them as a cool frozen treat is to slice them, dip in dark chocolate and freeze. I can’t tell you how delicious they are. I first stumbled across them in the frozen section at store and then wondered why I was paying for something so simple to make 😛

Bananas are also great tossed in homemade smoothies, giving added texture and creaminess along with the health benefits from the banana.

Topping oatmeal, plain yogurt, or peanut butter and toast with banana slices is an excellent way to add nutrition and sweetness without added sugar.

Of course there’s the standard muffins, pie, custard, breads….  yummy….

How about a couple recipes? I thought this peanut butter banana bar looked awesome

 

In summary bananas are not only a tasty, low calorie snack that can be used in a variety of ways, they are loaded with tons of nutrients and minerals that our bodies love.

And of course, I don’t think you can go wrong with it pre or post workout for an energizing snack 🙂

Your turn now… how do you like bananas? Do you use them to cook with or just eat as is? Do you have any recipes you like using them?

 

 

Spotlight On Almonds

Hello world! Wow what a busy week it’s been! So many exciting things going on, some I’ll share in my upcoming Monday Musings post, so you’ll wanna check back for that 🙂 I will say, some days, I wish I had just a little more time. I’m sure everyone feels like that at some point, so I’ve learned to really try and be focused on things that require “immediate” attention from those I think that do but could actually wait.  It helps take some things out of my mind for awhile. Often I tend to be juggling multiple projects at once, that works for some things but not for others. I also love lists so I’ve found if I get it on a list it’s also a way to take it off my mind while still keeping it in a place where I won’t forget it haha

I thought we’d go a little nuts on todays food spotlight. Nuts offer a huge amount of health and nutrition benefits. We’re gonna just take a look at one of them today, one which happens to be my favorite and is often a guest with my breakfast yogurt and fresh fruit.

Say hello to Mr. Almond.

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Almonds deliver a massive amount of nutrition in their small package.

The almond is the edible seed that grows on the tree Prunus dulcis, more commonly called the almond tree.

Almonds are native to the Middle East, but the United States is now the world’s largest producer.

The almonds we buy at the store have usually had the shell removed, revealing the edible nut inside.

They are sold either raw (often referred to as “natural”) or roasted.

Almonds boast an incredibly impressive nutritional profile.

A 1 ounce (28 grams, or small handful) serving of almonds contains

  • Fiber: 3.5 grams.
  • Protein: 6 grams.
  • Fat: 14 grams (9 of which are monounsaturated, the good healthy kind)
  • Vitamin E: 37% of the RDA.
  • Manganese: 32% of the RDA.
  • Magnesium: 20% of the RDA.
  • They also contain a decent amount of copper, vitamin B2 (riboflavin) and phosphorus.

This is all from a small handful, which supplies only 161 calories and 2.5 grams of digestible carbohydrates.

It is also important to note that 10-15% of an almond’s calories are not absorbed by the body, because the fat is too difficult to access and break down.

The almonds we buy at the store have usually had the shell removed, revealing the edible nut inside.

Almonds are also loaded with antioxidants,

Antioxidants help to protect against oxidative stress, which can damage molecules in cells and contribute to aging and diseases like cancer.

The powerful antioxidants in almonds are largely concentrated in the brown layer of the skin.

For this reason, blanched almonds (skin removed) are not the best choice from a health perspective.

Almonds are among the world’s best sources of vitamin E. Getting plenty of vitamin E from foods is linked to numerous health benefits. It’s also good for healthy skin and hair.

Almonds are also extremely high in magnesium, a mineral most people don’t get enough of. Higher magnesium intake may have major benefits for metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes.

Low magnesium levels are also linked to high blood pressure indicating that almonds could be good for blood pressure control.

Almonds can also increase energy production.  Copper, riboflavin and manganese present in almonds assist in metabolic rate and energy production. If you are pressed for time, grab a handful of almonds for a crunchy, satisfying snack to help you out.

How about one more health tidbit?

Unsweetened almonds are a great option to use if you are trying to lose weight. Almonds contain a lot of mon-unsaturated fats, which is what satiates your hunger pangs, helping you not to over eat no matter what. The dietary fiber in almonds also makes you feel fuller for long periods of time, despite consuming only a small quantity. Research suggests that a diet that is low calorie and also rich in almonds is excellent for obese people since it helps them shed excess weight faster.

Remember, as with any food, no matter how “good” it is for you, to much isn’t always a good thing and can lead to weight gain so monitor your portion sizes as it’s easy to over eat on them.

Other almond uses…

Of course some of the uses of almonds now days involve milk and flour. I will say I tried almond milk… once… thinking I might try and be one of the cool health kids.

Gross.

No.

One big drink made me gag and wonder why on earth anyone would drink it, unless they had no alternative because of allergy or lactose issues.

I will stick with my dairy as I know it. No offense if you like it, it just isn’t my cup of tea..or milk….

And as far as the trend with almond flour, I have no experience with it. I just bake the old fashioned way with old fashioned flour 😉

Almonds as a snack come in a variety of ways. I buy them raw and use them in my breakfast yogurt or as a snack. You can also get them in various flavors, just be careful with sodium intake on them.

They also can be used in your meals…..

How about a couple tasty recipe ideas?

 

 

Ok your turn. Do you like almonds? Do you have thoughts on almond “milk”? Have you tried almond flour for baking?

Spotlight On Watermelon

Here in the south summer has arrived with the vengeance of  a mother in law that has swept in for a long staying vacation.  It means light foods, pool time, sandals or flip flops as main stay foot wear, plastic kiddie pools and blow up inflatables ( am I the only one who loves the smell of that cheap plastic and sniffs it like a dog sniffing a bone ?? haha)  shorts, and an endless tan till November.

Summer “officially” doesn’t start till Thursday but I guess no one told the weather that. We are  now in days of endless blue skies, sun, temps dancing in the high 90’s and “don’t sit on plastic furniture or you will stick to it” kinds of fun.

I really don’t like having to cook meals when it gets so warm, but my body does dig eating, so I’ve had to come to a happy balance of food, but light foods.

Todays spotlight is on one of my favorite summer treats, watermelon.

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Get a fork, I’ll share

 

Cool, sweet, refreshing and you get an arm workout lifting and tossing them into your basket, it is total win on all levels.

Sweet and healthy

Who says sweets aren’t good for you?  Check out some of it’s vitamin and mineral benefits

As far as fruits go, watermelon is one of the lowest in calories — only 46 calories per cup. That’s lower than even “low-sugar” fruits such as berries.

A cup (154 grams) of watermelon has may other nutrients as well, including these vitamins and minerals:

  • Vitamin C: 21% of the RDI
  • Vitamin A: 18% of the RDI
  • Potassium: 5% of the RDI
  • Magnesium: 4% of the RDI
  • Vitamins B1, B5 and B6: 3% of the RDI

Watermelon is also high in carotenoids, including beta-carotene and lycopene. Plus, it has citrulline, an important amino acid.

Watermelon is also loaded with anti-oxidants.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is an antioxidant that helps prevent cell damage from free radicals. Not surprisingly, watermelon contains a hefty amount of vitamin C – 21% of the daily recommended value – that helps your immune system produce antibodies to fight disease. There’s also a 17% daily value of vitamin A, boosting eye health and preventing such diseases as macular degeneration and cataracts. The vitamin B6 content helps form red blood cells and assures your nerves will function as they should. Your body uses vitamin B6 to help break down proteins, so the more protein is consumed, the more vitamin B6 is needed. Potassium, although a relatively small amount is in watermelon, helps balance fluids in your cells. (Low potassium levels sometimes cause muscle cramps.

Carotenoids

Carotenoids are a class of plant compounds that includes alpha-carotene and beta-carotene, which your body converts to vitamin A.

Lycopene

Lycopene is a type of carotenoid that doesn’t change into vitamin A. This potent antioxidant gives a red color to plant foods such as tomatoes and watermelon, and is linked to many health benefits.

Cucurbitacin E

Cucurbitacin E is a plant compound with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. Bitter melon, a relative of watermelon, contains even more cucurbitacin E.

Let’s not forget one really big important factor, watermelon is made up of 92% water so it makes a perfect fruit to help keeping you hydrated.  Also, A high water content is one of the reasons that fruits and vegetables help you feel full. The combination of water and fiber means you’re eating a good volume of food without a lot of calories.

Nutritionally, while vitamin A and C content is significant, it’s the lycopene that takes the prize for what it does for the body, which includes anti-inflammation bone health and an ability to neutralize harmful free radicals.

The nutritional break down

Nutrition Facts

Watermelon Nutrition Facts
Serving Size 1 cup, balls (154 g)
Per Serving % Daily Value*
Calories 46
Calories from Fat 2
Total Fat 0.2g 0%
Saturated Fat 0.1g 1%
Polyunsaturated Fat 0.1g
Monounsaturated Fat 0.1g
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 2mg 0%
Potassium 171.21mg 5%
Carbohydrates 11.6g 4%
Dietary Fiber 0.6g 2%
Sugars 9.5g
Protein 0.9g
Vitamin A 18% · Vitamin C 21%
Calcium 1% · Iron 2%

 

Can we eat now?

One thing about watermelon, it requires nothing fancy to eat it. Just chill, cut and serve. If it’s for a picnic it can be cut and sliced and eaten right off the rind. Although messy, it’s one of the more fun ways to eat it, just have plenty of napkins on hand.  If you’re going for a more civilized way of eating it haha, it’s cut off the rind and served in a bowl where you can use utensils to dine on it ( I prefer the outdoor method, sun in my hair and juice on my face with plenty of napkins version ’cause well, that’s what summer’s about right?)

Watermelon is a very non-fussy food which perhaps in my estimation makes it perfect for laid back summer days.

Sweet, hydrating, packed with awesome invisible vitamins and minerals that are amazing for your body and crazy low in calories, all while satisfying your sweet cravings?

I think that’s a total win.

But wait…. wait a minute….

Do you know watermelon is not actually a fruit but considered a vegetable?

SAY WHAT?

We think of watermelon as a fruit because of its sweet flavor, but watermelon is actually a vegetable. It belongs to the cucurbit family, and is related to pumpkins, cucumbers and squash.

So… there’s that. I know you’re shocked.  Fruit? Vegetable? Let’s just call it tasty.

A few fun facts on melons…..

Seedless watermelons aren’t genetically modified. They’re actually a hybrid watermelon created by crossing a watermelon with 22 chromosomes with a watermelon with 44 chromosomes. The result is a sterile watermelon. These watermelons produce immature white seeds that are perfectly safe to eat. Seedless watermelons were first created over 50 years ago.

Watermelons have been cultivated in Egypt for more than 5,000 years. Egyptians depicted watermelon in drawings on the walls of tombs and even left watermelon with their dead to nourish them as they journeyed through the underworld

Because watermelons are native to Africa, they need hot, sunny conditions to thrive. Some varieties need up to 130 warm days to ripen. Most watermelons mature in 85 to 100 days

Watermelons usually have red flesh, but some watermelons have white, yellow, orange or even green flesh

A watermelon will not grow in your belly if you eat the seeds. In fact, the seeds are actually quite nutritious with high levels of magnesium, zinc and protein. Chew the seeds before swallowing for optimum nutrition ( all the times your mom told you that story of watermelons growing in your belly, right??)

The Japanese grow square watermelon. How? They place square glass boxes around a growing fruit so it becomes square as it grows. The Japanese like them because they’re small and don’t roll around. They fit neatly in a refrigerator. The downside? These watermelon cost about $82!

And the recipe board……

You may not think of eating watermelon in other ways than it’s easy natural form. I thought I’d add a couple recipes that showcase this great summer fruit.

 

Oh, and can you go wrong with ice cream or sherbet for a cool treat? Check out this two ingredient healthy option.

 

And of course, let’s not forget cute ways you can play with this fruit….uh…vegetable?……too 😉

Watermelon-Shark_exps143376_SD2401786C10_18_3bC_RMS
A fruit shark??

 

Tell me, is watermelon an enjoyable summer fruit for you? Do you have any preferred ways of eating it or interesting recipes using it ?