To my friends on the East Coast dealing with all the snow- I hope that it is warm and toasty wherever you are, and that you have some time to just snuggle up with a good book (by the way I just read Everything is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer, which was written in a very interesting way).
Here are 5 foods for you to check out this winter, which have been finding their way into my kitchen of late and are particularly intriguing to me at the moment. I just peeked into my fridge and cabinet, and there they all were, smiling up at me. It is really important to eat a wide range of plant foods, as much as possible.
1.Parsnips. The truth is that parsnips look like albino, anemic carrots. But looks can be deceiving! Parsnips contain a bevy of important nutrients, including vitamin C, vitamin E, fiber, pantothenic acid, copper, manganese, and are a great source of niacin, riboflavin, B6, thiamine, magnesium, and potassium. And let’s not forget folic acid!
Parsnips are a true winter vegetable, and they need the low temperatures to develop their flavor. I steam them in their skins until tenderized. These types of starchy vegetables are not recommended to be eaten raw, though you could eat the very tender ones if you really want to. Sure you may may lose some of the vitamin content by heating, but you will still benefit from the fiber and minerals, and in my opinion starchy vegetables digest best when they are cooked.
Parsnips are great detoxifying vegetable, helping to clean out the digestive tract and have a beneficial effect on the liver. They also are slightly diuretic.
2. Asparagus: Asparagus is not truly a winter vegetable, it is a spring vegetable, but it seems to be widely available in grocery stores at the moment, and I must confess that I have been indulging myself. I’ve been using it in dishes a LOT lately with my clients, as it is loaded with potassium, which is cleansing and supremely detoxifying. Asparagus is also rich in vitamin A and folate. It is also very high in glutathione, which is an amino acid that has anti-aging properties and fights free radicals.
3. Xylitol: Okay, this one is not really a food per se, but a sweetener. If you read my blog regularly you already know that I’ve given agave the smackdown. It is highly processed, a high percentage fructose, and is not recommended. Stevia is a great option, as it is from a natural South American plant. But sometimes I’m not in the mood for it. It is a bitter friend, with a bitter aftertaste. Still a friend. But sometimes a bitter one. So on those days, I like to use xylitol instead, which is a naturally occurring sweetener.
Xylitol is found in berries, fruit and vegetables, and is a crystalline substance that looks and tastes like sugar. It is not an artificial sweetener filled with chemicals like Splenda. Be sure to purchase pure xylitol without any fillers or additives. I like the Emerald Forest brand. Xylitol even helps reduce tooth decay and cavities. How? Well sugar feeds bacteria in your mouth and causes them to multiply. Cavities start to form from the acids the metabolic process produces. These bacteria however, can not ferment xylitol in their metabolism, and the amount of acid-producing bacteria falls with the use of xylitol and xylitol-containing products.
4. Butternut Squash. I love the shape of this bulbous gourd, but the real joy is when you slice it open and see the beautiful orange within (as a random aside, did I tell you that orange, along with green, is my new favorite color?) The orange color indicates that we’ve hit the jackpot for a food containing carotenoids, which have very important health properties. It contains very high levels of beta-carotene and vitamin C. It has anti-inflammatory effects because of its high antioxidant content, so is great for those suffering from inflammation-related disorders like RA (rheumatoid arthritis). It is high in folate, fiber and potassium.
Choose one that feels heavy for its size. Do not store in fridge. You can just chop it in half, place the cut side down, and bake for about an hour. Again, I do recommend cooking the starchy vegetables.
5. Raw Kelp Noodles. These raw noodles are made of the healthy, mineral-rich sea vegetable kelp. They are free of gluten and fat, and contain virtually no calories (not that we count, because we don’t when we eat a greens-based diet. Just saying!). You just rinse them and they are ready to go- no cooking. They have a neutral taste so you can throw sauces and dressings on top of them to dress them up. The only thing is that they are a bit crunchy, so I like to let them soften into the sauce at room temperature for a while before serving. I like the Sea Tangle brand.
And when feeling adventurous, why not add some exotic fruits to the mix, who knows it may be exactly what you were craving!
Enjoy the week!
See you here soon.
With love, Kimberly