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Color Your Plate and Palate with Super Foods

August 2nd, 2011

 

Super foods—some grains, beans, fruits, vegetables, yogurt, and more—offer a great source of antioxidants and essential nutrients. And they’re low in calories, which make them an excellent choice for weight control and weight loss.

Did you know that the colors of fruits and vegetables also put them in their own group of super foods?

Green super foods, such as broccoli, parsley and spinach, contain large amounts of chlorophyll, which is what gives green vegetables their wonderful green coloring. When chlorophyll found in green vegetables is consumed, hemoglobin in blood is increased. Hemoglobin provides more oxygen-rich blood, and oxygen-rich blood helps cells thrive. Green super foods also contain large amounts of easily digestible nutrients, minerals, proteins and vitamins.

Orange fruits and vegetables, such as carrots, mangoes, oranges and pumpkins, are high in beta carotenes. Beta carotenes may help improve immune function and reduce the risk of heart disease. And beta carotenes help strengthen eyesight, the esophagus, the lungs, and the stomach and may help fight cancer in these areas.

Red fruits and vegetables, such as pink grapefruit, red bell peppers, tomatoes and watermelon, offer large amounts of lycopene. Lycopene, a bright red carotenoid pigment and phytochemical, helps protect cells against damaging free radicals. Studies have demonstrated that lycopene may help fight lung and prostate cancers.

In the moments when we’re enjoying a refreshing, tasty slice of watermelon or flavorful, crunchy carrot we don’t always think about the increased health benefits they offer, but they’re there—super benefits from super foods!

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Waste Not, Want Not

May 11th, 2010

 

How many times has this happened to you? You have a recipe that you want to make that calls for an ingredient that you do not have on hand. You buy the smallest package of said ingredient that you can find only to discover later that the rest has gone bad before you could use it all. In addition to leftover prepared foods, cheeses, fruits, herbs, and vegetables each make up a large portion of foods that end up going to waste while sitting on the counter or in the fridge. When you’re trying to stay within a budget, it’s easy to see how wasted food is wasted money. As hard as many of us attempt to pre-plan meals using what’s on hand or take advantage of our freezers it’s sometimes easier said than done.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Americans waste 30 percent of all edible food produced, bought, and sold in the U.S., and scientists at the University of Arizona and the National Institute of Health (NIH) estimate 40 percent or more. To add to this unfortunate situation, Environmental Protection Agency data suggests that rotting food may be responsible for about one-tenth of all anthropogenic (caused by humans) methane emissions. When rotting food decomposes in landfills a by-product is methane, which warms the world 20 times faster than carbon dioxide.

While throwing out a few salad greens here and there may seem harmless, in the long run, every bit of food-gone-bad adds up to a lot of wasted food and global warming woes.

One way that people can help reduce food waste is by growing their own herbs and vegetables. When you grow your own foods not only will you be able to enjoy foods free of pesticides and fertilizer, but you will also be able to use what is needed, when needed. Another positive side to this is that if a food grower has more, say, vegetables than they can use during the growing season, there is the opportunity to share the bounty with friends and neighbors. It’s a much better feeling than the one you get when you spend your hard-earned money at the grocery store just to have foods go bad.

For more in-depth information on food waste and easy-to-embrace solutions, read How to Wage War on Food Waste, from OnEarth, the award-winning environmental magazine.

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The Moveable Garden

May 6th, 2010

 

It’s hard to believe that container gardening has been around as far back as 600 BC, but King Nebuchadnezzar II of Babylon created one of the most spectacular gardens of all times. Considered one of the original Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, the Hanging Gardens of Babylon have fascinated everyone from archaeologists to the common gardener.

Whether you’re limited with a small balcony, patio or roof or you want to add more color, coziness and patterns to your outdoor living space, container gardening is an easy, popular way to grow flowers, fruits and vegetables. And, if you’ve never grown your own plants before, container gardening is a great place to begin your green thumb adventures.

Three of the most appealing benefits of container gardening include easy accessibility to plants, the ability to move plants around during bad weather and excessive temperatures, and the opportunity to enjoy an extended growing season.

Common containers include hanging baskets, planters and pots, and creative gardeners use everything from old enamel pots, tires, and even old, worn work books to house a variety of flowers and plants. When it comes to container gardening, it can be as fun and whimsical as you want it to be!

If you would like more information and guidance on container gardening success visit Vegetable Gardening in Containers.

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