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Sweet Summer Squash

Summer squash in basket

Did you know there were over 40 varieties of squash? Right now summer squash is in its peak season from mid summer to end of summer, buy a few different types of squash summer and try them out. These varieties of summer squash include:

  1. Yellow with a crookneck or straight neck shape
  2. Zucchini that is green or yellow, long or round
  3. Pattypan is a scallop shape

 

When selecting summer squash it is best to choose small, firm squash with bright-colored blemish free skin.

 

Summer squash has a ton of nutritional benefits- One cup of squash has a ton of nutritional benefits, it is high in vitamin C providing 25% of the DV, also contains about 17% of your DV of beta carotene to help with vision degeneration associated with aging. Also yellow squash is very low in calories with only 18 calories per cup, very low in fat and low in carbohydrates.

 

If you are interested in preparing summer squash without a complicated recipe, sautéing is an easy way to bring out sweetness of these vegetables. Chop the squash into small pieces for fast cooking, and allow it to get browned and caramelized. Turn it into a side dish by tossing with beans or cooked grain such as quinoa, a generous handful of fresh herbs and a flavorful cheese like goat or feta.

 

At MySuperFoods we always have a ton on summer squash on hand and lucky for us Katie makes the best zucchini chocolate chip muffins. These muffins are incredible, perfect for a snack or even a sweet treat, so if you have a few extra squash try this recipe https://mysuperfoods.wordpress.com/2013/07/18/what-to-do-with-16-summer-squash/ and hope your friends and family love them as much as we do!

 

To try a new summer squash recipes, check these out!

 

Grilled Squash

Grilled Summer Squash

Adapted from myrecipes.com

 

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups baby zucchini, halved lengthwise
  • 2 cups baby yellow squash, quartered length
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • Cooking spray

 

Directions:

 

Preheat grill to medium-high heat. Combine baby zucchini and baby yellow squash in a large bowl. Add ­olive oil, kosher salt, and black pepper; toss well. Place vegetables on a grill rack coated with cooking spray. Grill 5 minutes on each side or until lightly charred and tender.

 

Squash with mint and goat cheese

Warm Squash Salad With Mint

Adopted from Julie O’Hara at NPR

Yields 4 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 medium zucchini (about 1 pound), trimmed and chopped into half-inch pieces
  • 3 small yellow crookneck squash (about 3/4 pound), trimmed and chopped into half-inch pieces
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 (15.5-ounce) can cannellini beans, rinsed, drained and dried
  • 1/4 cup loosely packed chopped fresh mint
  • 4 ounces goat cheese

Directions:

Add the olive oil to a large nonstick skillet and heat to medium high. Add all the squash, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring frequently, for 10 minutes or until squash is lightly browned and tender (adjust the heat if squash browns too quickly). Transfer to a large serving bowl.

Add the beans and most of the mint to the bowl. Toss gently. Just before serving, crumble the goat cheese over the salad and finish with the rest of the mint.

 

Fettucine squash

Fettuccine With Squash Ribbons

Adopted from Julie O’Hara at NPR

Yields 4 servings

Ingredients:

  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 12 ounces whole-wheat or regular fettuccine
  • Cooking spray
  • 3 fully cooked chicken sausages, preferably spinach and feta or sun-dried tomato flavor
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 to 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes, halved crosswise
  • 3 medium zucchini, trimmed, skin removed and peeled into thin ribbons of about ½ inch wide
  • 3 medium yellow crookneck squash, trimmed, skin removed and peeled into thin ribbons
  • 1/4 cup packed chopped fresh basil
  • Parmigiano-Reggiano for serving

Directions:

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Salt generously and add fettuccine. Cook according to package directions. Reserve about 1 cup of pasta-cooking water and drain.

Meanwhile, coat a nonstick skillet with cooking spray and heat to medium. Add chicken sausage and cook, turning often, until golden brown on each side. Transfer to a cutting board. Allow sausage to rest for a few minutes, then thinly slice on the diagonal.

Add olive oil to skillet and turn heat to medium-low. Add garlic and cook 1 minute. Add tomatoes and cook 3 minutes, or until skin is no longer taut. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Deglaze skillet with about 1/4 cup of reserved pasta-cooking water, loosening any bits from the bottom of the skillet. Remove from heat.

Off the stove, add the zucchini ribbons to the empty pasta pot, followed by the tomato mixture, the drained pasta, the sliced sausage and about three-quarters of the basil. Toss well to combine. If pasta appears dry, add enough of the reserved cooking water to coat the pasta so it looks moist, but not wet.

Divide among 4 bowls and use a vegetable peeler to shave thin pieces of Parmigiano-Reggiano over pasta. Sprinkle with remaining basil and serve immediately.

 

Sources

http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/grilled-summer-squash-50400000120703/

 

http://www.cookinglight.com/food/in-season/in-season-yellow-squash-and-zucchini

 

http://www.livestrong.com/article/349229-the-nutritional-value-of-yellow-squash/

 

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=92739541

 

Be sure to check out

https://mysuperfoods.wordpress.com/2013/07/18/what-to-do-with-16-summer-squash/

 

 

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Add A Pinch Of Flavor To Your Summer Cooking

Summer herbs

Summer is the perfect time to pick fresh herbs from your garden or purchase from the local market to add amazing flavor to any dish.  Herbs contain phytochemicals that provide disease-preventing qualities and also help lower inflammation. They are also very low in calories and add HUGE flavor to any dish!  Instead of adding salt and pepper, fresh herbs can help change a dish dramatically and limiting your sodium intake can help manage high blood pressure.

 

Here are some quick facts about which herbs best accompany common meals:

Rosemary

  • Perfect adding to a marinade for meat such as pork chops, poultry and fish or vegetables such as potatoes
  • Flavorful in soups and sauces
  • Important to remove the needles from the branch and chop before cooking (unless the recipe calls otherwise.)

 

Mint

  • Refreshing flavor
  • Great for cold salads and salads
  • Stimulating addition in summer drinks such as a sun brewed iced tea or fruit infused water
  • Works with both savory and sweet flavors

 

There are so many variations of infused waters to try, but to start out try this refreshing orange mint recipe

 

Orange Mint Water

Recipe adapted from Mary Gormandy White

Ingredients

3 large oranges, sliced

10 mint leaves

1/2 gallon of water

Directions:

  1. Place mint and orange slices in a pitcher.
  2. Add water.
  3. Infuse for two hours in the refrigerator.
  4. Pour over ice.

Serve garnished with an orange slice and a sprig of mint.

 

Basil

  • Easy to grow in a small space and has so many uses
  • Is suggested to be added at the end of cooking so the flavor is not destroyed
  • Coincides well with simple tomato and basil salad
  • Emphasized in dishes from Italy
  • Also is a great addition to strawberries and balsamic vinegar side dish

 

Dill

  • Has a huge punch of flavor
  • Is high in antioxidants
  • Perfect to be added to fish such as salmon, chicken, potatoes, salads, pasta dishes and dips
  • There is a pronounced flavor with the addition to cold salads

 

Oregano

  • Very high in antioxidants
  • Has a hint of sweetness and spiciness
  • Suggest sprinkling in a dressing, pizza seasonings or adding to a sandwich

 

Thyme

  • Added to soups, stews or braised meats for winter meals
  • Is a major French flavoring
  • For summer meals thyme is perfect for adding flavor to meat and vegetables

 

Here is a suggestion for a thyme salmon recipe!

 

Napa Valley Glazed Salmon

Recipe adapted from Mary Hess from eatingright.org

Ingredients

2 tablespoons honey

1 teaspoon dried thyme

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

1 teaspoon white pepper

1¼ pounds salmon, cut into 4 pieces

 

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F
  2. Combine the honey, thyme, mustard, lemon zest, and pepper in a small bowl. Arrange the salmon in a shallow roasting pan lined with cooking foil. Using the back of a spoon, spread the honey mixture to coat the top of each fillet.
  3. Bake, uncovered, for 20 minutes, or until the salmon flakes with a fork.

 

Cooking Tip:

Serving Suggestion: Slice leftover salmon and place on top of a bed of mixed greens and chopped tomatoes for an easy lunch or dinner.

Variation: Substitute your favorite dried or fresh herb for the thyme — or combine several.

Tip: To store fresh fish a day or two after purchase, rinse and place in a bag with ice. Pour off melted ice and replace with more ice chunks.

 

Cilantro

  • Pungent flavor
  • Best served fresh just before a dish is added
  • Probably have seen it added in guacamole but can also be added to salsa and other summer other dishes such as sprinkled on fruit salad or vegetables

 

Sources-

http://www.eatright.org/public/slideshow.aspx?id=6442470269 – 11

http://www.epicurious.com/articlesguides/seasonalcooking/farmtotable/visualguidefreshherbs

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Super Ingredients

As a mom (or a person) it’s hard to stay on top of the latest and greatest nutritional powerhouse ingredients.  (Nevermind getting everyone up, dressed and fed for the day…)

Here’s a simple breakdown of some of our favorite ingredients, why they are so amazing and some products we buy for our own kids to maximize nutrition:
1. Chia – rich in omega 3s (polyunsaturated fats).  These are essential fatty acids that are good for cognitive development (brain food), asthma, growth, and anti-inflammatory effects.  We used chia in the development of MySuperCookies and also love Nature’s Path Coconut Chia Granola.
You can read more about chia here.
2. Quinoa – Has 8 essential amino acids, which can’t be made by the body, but are needed for brain health, immunity and kidney function.  Quinoa is also high in vitamins A, C and E, which makes it a great antioxidant.  We love Simply 7 Quinoa Chips with Sea Salt.
3. Acerola – tropical superfruit with many health benefits.  It is extremely rich in vitamin C, an essential nutrient that plays a role in immunity health.  MySuperCookies are made with acerola and 1 serving (11 cookies) achieves 50% RDA of Vitamin C.
4. Coconut Oil – Is rich in antioxidants and fiber.  The fatty acids are known to reduce the risk of heart disease.  We love baking with coconut oil and can’t get enough of Emmy’s Organics Dark Cacao Macaroons.
 
Check out our past article on coconut oil here.
5. Flax Seeds – Tiny powerhouses of fiber, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. Flax seeds are easy to sprinkle into smoothies, oatmeal, and pancake batter.  We use flax seeds in all MySuperFoods products but we also love Dr Kracker Pumpkin Seed Cheddar Crackers
 

Here is a bit more about flax seeds.

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Fresh Picked: August Produce

Summer vegetables

August is here, and to make sure you get the most out of it, we wanted to provide you a quick list of in season produce to look for when shopping at the local farmers market or supermarket. Superfoods is located in New Jersey but if you are not from this geographical region, check out this link so you can see what produce is best by you!

http://www.epicurious.com/articlesguides/seasonalcooking/farmtotable/seasonalingredientmap

 

Fruits

  • Apricots
  • Blackberries
  • Blueberries
  • Cantaloupe
  • Cherries
  • Grapefruit
  • Kiwi
  • Nectarines
  • Peaches
  • Plums
  • Raspberries
  • Strawberries
  • Watermelon

 

Vegetables

  • Avocado
  • Beets
  • Cucumbers
  • Corn
  • Green beans
  • Eggplant
  • Okra
  • Onions
  • Peas
  • Potatoes
  • Radishes
  • Summer squash
  • Tomatoes
  • Zucchini

 

Also be sure to explore a little more about this August produce, here is a great article

https://mysuperfoods.wordpress.com/2012/04/27/apricots-the-seasonal-fruit-you-must-try/

 

Sources:

http://www.womansday.com/food-recipes/cooking-tips-shortcuts/seasonal-foods-august-82492

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Un-BEET-able

Beets are now in season, and it is the perfect time to start incorporating this summer vegetable into a few dishes! If you are not sure where to start, or have never cooked with beets this quick article will help to get you started. First lets explore some nutritional facts about why beets are a great addition to any diet!

 

  1. Beets are a low calorie vegetable that are packed with fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants
  2. They are a great source of naturally occurring folate or folic acid, which is important for a healthy pregnancy. For a woman of childbearing age, one should consume 400 micrograms of folic acid and a pregnant woman should consume 600 micrograms. By consuming the recommended amount of folic acid this will allow for healthy neural tube formation and brain development of the baby.
  3. Consuming beet juice can help lower high blood pressure and help increase stamina when working out due to the amount of nitrate

 

Some beet preparation tips are:

  • Grate raw beets for a colorful addition to salads or decorative garnish
  • Steam beets for 15 minutes to ensure they retain their maximum nutritional value and flavor
  • Marinate steamed beets in fresh lemon juice, extra virgin olive oil, and fresh herbs suggest to Wrap each beet in aluminum foil and bake them at 400˚F for1 and 2 hours, or until the blade of a knife slides easily in and out. After they are cooled slightly, the skins easily rubbed off with a paper towel. Cooked beets are like sponges, so soak in vinaigrette of woodsy sherry vinegar and virgin olive oil.

 

 

Here are a few recipes to try out

 

Beet Tahini

Adapted from Inventive Vegetarian

Ingredients

2 beets

Juice of 2 lemons

2 cloves of garlic

1/2 cup tahini

Salt, to taste

 

Directions

Preheat oven to 400F

 

1. Wash and trim, but don’t peel, the beets, then wrap each one in tin foil and toss it in the oven for 45-60 minutes, until a knife can easily pierce each beet.  Once the beets have cooled enough to handle, rub them with your thumbs and the skins should come off easily.

 

2.  Roughly chop the beets and the garlic and put both in the bowl of a food processor.  Give them a quick pulse to start breaking down the beets.

 

3.  Add the tahini and lemon juice and puree until smooth.  Taste and adjust salt as desired.  Serve cold or room temperature with crackers or raw vegetables.

 

 

Quinoa Salad Recipe with Roasted Beets, Chick Peas, Baby Spinach and Orange

Adapted from Gluten- Free Goddess, Serves 4.

 

Ingredients

3 cups cooked quinoa

2 beets, trimmed and quartered

Olive oil

Sea salt

1/4 cup fruity olive oil

1/4 cup fresh squeezed orange juice

2 teaspoons organic gluten-free tamari sauce

1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar or rice vinegar

1 tablespoon organic raw agave nectar or local honey

1 cup drained rinsed chick peas

2 big handfuls of baby spinach leaves

Sea salt and ground pepper, to taste

1 fresh orange, peeled, trimmed, cut into bite sized pieces

 

Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 375ºF.

 

2. Here’s how to cook quinoa in a rice cooker. While the quinoa is cooking, roast the beets in a medium size roasting pan, by combining the beets with a drizzle of olive oil and sprinkle of sea salt. Place the pan in the center of the oven and roast until the beets are tender (roughly 45 minutes). Remove the beets from the hot pan and set them aside to cool. When cool enough to handle, rub off the skin. Cut the beets into bite sized pieces.

 

3. To make the dressing, combine the olive oil, orange juice, GF tamari, vinegar, and agave in a glass measuring cup and whisk. Set aside.

 

4. Combine the warm, cooked quinoa in a mixing bowl with the chick peas and baby spinach leaves. Pour in the salad dressing and toss lightly. Season with sea salt and pepper, to taste.

 

5. Gently add in the cut up roasted beets and fresh orange pieces. Do not over mix or your entire salad will turn beet red. I think it’s more attractive to keep the staining to a minimum.

 

5. Serve with a sprinkle of fresh goat cheese, or slivered almonds, if desired.

 

 

 

Orange-Glazed Beets

Adapted from VegKitchen, serves: 4 to 6

Ingredients

6 medium beets (or any size, as long as it adds up to about 2 pounds)

2 teaspoons arrowroot or organic cornstarch

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

2/3 cup fresh orange juice

Freshly ground pepper to taste

Grated orange zest for garnish, optional

Minced fresh dill or other herb for garnish

 

Directions

  1. To cook the beets:Rinse the beets and cut away all but an inch of the stalks. Combine in a large deep saucepan with water to cover; bring to a boil, then simmer until just tender. How long this will take varies greatly upon the size of the beets; start checking after about 20 minutes, but don’t poke too many test holes into them, or they’ll bleed like crazy! When done, drain.
  2. No matter which cooking method you use, let the beets cool (you can plunge them into a bowl of cold water to speed things up), and when cool enough to handle, peel them and cut into bite-sized chunks.
  3. Combine the cornstarch and vinegar in a small container and stir until dissolved. Set aside.
  4. Heat the orange juice in a medium saucepan and bring to a gentle simmer. Whisk in the cornstarch and vinegar mixture, stirring carefully to avoid lumps.
  5. Stir in the diced beets. Cook over very low heat until heated through, about 2 to 3 minutes, then transfer to a serving bowl.
  6. If you juiced an organic orange, I highly recommend using grating some of the zest to garnish the beets, along with a sprinkling of dill or other fresh herb. Serve at once or cool until just warm.

Sources:

http://www.eatright.org/Public/content.aspx?id=6442470253&terms=beets

http://theinventivevegetarian.blogspot.com/2013/03/beet-tahini.html

http://glutenfreegoddess.blogspot.com/2011/01/quinoa-salad-with-roasted-beets-chick.html

http://www.vegkitchen.com/recipes/orange-glazed-beets/

http://www.eatright.org/Public/content.aspx?id=6808&terms=folic acid

Be sure to check out for more about beets https://mysuperfoods.wordpress.com/?s=beets&submit=Go

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Perfect Picnic

During the summer, few things are more fun than going on a picnic! We love to have picnics everywhere, from a park to the pool. Here are some great tips, recipes, and activities we rounded up to ensure that you have the perfect picnic.

Picnic Planning from Hoosier Homemade

Picnic

Liz from Hoosier Homemade gives some great tips for picnic planning. Her post features recipes as well as a list to make the perfect basket. She also manages to create a great layout with coordinating plates, napkins, and blanket, for a low price. A great resource for the early stages of picnicking!

Make Your Own Bubbles from Smockity Frocks

Make-Your-Own-Bubbles-2

This bubble recipe is super easy and quick, but is sure to provide hours of fun! Grab an empty bubble container and wand, and fill it up with this simple recipe.

Cut A Watermelon For Small Hands from Mama Say What

Print

Super easy, but also a completely different way to enjoy watermelon! Instead of cutting it into traditional triangles, try making it into long slices. Incredibly convenient, and perfect for small children!

Ants On A Log

225226

This age old favorite is a great choice for a picnic! For a traditional version, break celery into halves and layer with peanut butter. Top with raisins. For a twist, try almond butter and craisins, hummus and carrot pieces, or peanut butter and dark chocolate chips.

For even more great picnic snack ideas, check out our SuperEmployee Elizabeth’s article on Abe’s Market!

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Super Strawberries

Are you looking for a refreshing summer snack that pairs perfectly with breakfast, lunch or even dessert?  Strawberries are one of our favorite summer foods that we love to incorporate into snacks and with so many health benefits, what isn’t to love?  Strawberries are best eaten when their pinkish-red color is most vibrant.  This bright red color of strawberries is perfect to brighten up the aesthetic display of any meal, so get create and see what you can create! If you are looking for a strawberry that has a greater intensity of flavor, choose a smaller variety because larger ones tend to have greater water content and therefore the flavor of the fruit is diluted.  It was also found that these berries are best eaten within the first 2 days of being picked because they have a major loss of vitamin C and antioxidants; to receive the highest amounts of these vitamins and minerals be sure to buy fresh local produce.  Another tip for keeping your strawberries fresh in the refrigerator is to place them in a cold storage bin or drawer to help boost the humidity in the space and reduce the cold air circulation around the produce. Strawberries have many antioxidants, which we know helps decrease the aging of cells, and also the polyphenols in strawberries play a major role in helping regulate blood sugar response, therefore shown to be a low glycemic index food.  As strawberries are now in season, pick some up at the farmers market and enjoy these flavorful berries! Strawberry fish Strawberry butterfly Stawberry Breakfast

Strawberry flowers

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MEGAN MONDAY: Get The Lead Out

lead

Megan Monday articles are written by Megan Kalocinski, a Certified Nutrition and Health Coach.

As summer beats on and most of you are enjoying warm, sunny days outside at the pool, in the yard, or at the beach, you probably aren’t thinking about things like lead, mercury, and other things that pose as toxins to us, especially our developing children. However, it’s times like this when we can be exposed to a greater amount of things that can attribute to something we never may have considered to be an issue. In fact, many parents are unaware of the potential that their children (and themselves!) can be walking around with toxic levels of heavy metals in their bodies. Left untreated, this can manifest into numerous health concerns that one would definitely want to avoid. I am going to dedicate the next few weeks covering numerous things that we should be aware of – for our children and ourselves – to protect our health and longevity.

My fascination with studying toxins started when I went back to school for health coaching. Studying report after report and scientific study after study, I was amazed (and angered) that so many things exist in our society that can be so harmful to our health and well-being. It became even more real for me when my son’s pediatrician ordered routine bloodwork for him at age 6 months…and one of the things being screened for was lead and other heavy metals. I inquired why, for how can a 6 month old be exposed to such things? Amazingly, our doctor explained that there is an alarmingly increasing rate of young children with lead and mercury levels that exceed the tolerable “safe” limits – and the sooner it’s detected, the sooner life-saving interventions can be implemented. I also started encountering clients in my health coaching practice with heavy metal toxicity – something that has plagued them with fatigue, immunity issues, headaches, vision problems, inflammation, brain fog, mood imbalances, hormonal imbalances, sleep disruption, and cognitive function issues. The more I looked into the possibility of heavy metal build-up in the body (because many of them manifest themselves in the fatty tissue), one of the first recommendations I make is to get tested for heavy metals present in the body. Sure enough, 90% of the time there is an issue with heavy metals, and then we discuss options to start detoxing and eliminating exposure (which actually has to happen first, for there is no point in detoxing if you are just going to keep re-introducing the toxin). Curious about this health conundrum and its effect on children, I read the book “The Toxic Sandbox” by Libby McDonald – a parent and researcher who spent years investigating the concerns over common toxins that all parents should be aware of, but namely lead and mercury. All of the references in this article are citing work covered by Libby McDonald from her book.

Lead is considered the top toxin to be aware of and to worry about, especially in young children due to how sensitive developing brains are to this metal. Lead has been used since the twentieth century, and it was very common in gas and paint until tighter restrictions came about within the last 30 years. Thanks to extensive research over the past three decades linking lead exposure to severe health risks, limits have been placed on manufacturing standards for this metal in addition to preventative measures to be taken to safeguard our most vulnerable populations.

One of the most common exposures to lead was through paint and gasoline; until 1978, when a ban was placed on lead being used in paint, it was widely used in most homes and is the source of most lead poisoning cases to date. The ban on lead being used in gasoline wasn’t put into effect until 1991, so think about all of the lead that was airborne from vehicle emissions..being breathed in AND falling onto our soil (farms) and being washed into the groundwater supply (not to mention bodies of water that fish, etc. live in…and we eat).

  • The Centers for Disease Control says that ¼ of US children are exposed to lead in their own homes (especially if built before 1978); and with 80% of US houses built before the 1978 ban on lead paint, the threat of exposure will not go away for a long time.
  • There is mounting evidence that there is no safe threshold for lead in the body – evidence that conflicts sharply with the Center for Disease Control’s position that up to 10 mcg/dL is acceptable (yikes!).
  • Thankfully, lead levels in children have dropped significantly over the past 30 years. Today’s average count is somewhere between 1.5 and 2 mcg/dL.
  • Exposure to lead early in childhood causes lifelong impairments for which there are no simple treatments.
  • Lead in children is associated with:

o   Decreased IQ

o   Reading problems

o   Failure to thrive and/or grow

o   Hearing loss

o   Speech deficits

o   Attention deficits

o   Antisocial behavior

o   Aggressive behavior

o   Delinquency and criminal behavior

  • A 2005 study done by Dr. Bruce Lanphear (at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital) showed that lead harms children at levels considerably lower than the CDC’s threshold of 10 mcg/dL. Children show a decline of 7.4 IQ points for the first 10 mcg/dL of blood.
  • Lead targets developing brain cells – the frontal lobe, which is responsible for planning, judgment, and concept formation is the last part of the brain to fully develop, so it tends to be at the greatest risk for lead poisoning.
  • Children are particularly vulnerable to lead. The BBB, or blood-brain-barrier, serves as the body’s built-in mechanism for protecting the brain from poisonous substances. Lead messes this whole protective system up by masking as calcium, which easily crosses the blood-brain-barrier. What makes this fact concerning is babies’ and toddlers’ brains crave calcium in their effort to develop, until children are around six years old; this becomes a problem because they can absorb 3-4 times more lead than an adult. If a child has a calcium deficiency, it makes matters worse because the developing body will grab on to this calcium imposter, accelerating the uptake of lead.
  • All brain damage caused by lead has a lag effect, meaning you will not see the deficits until a child is 6 or 7 years old.
  • Scientific studies show that lead attributes to about 1/3 of attention-deficit-disorder among US children in comparison to tobacco smoke before birth. Children with blood levels of more than 2 mcg/dL were four times more likely to have ADHD than children with lower levels.
  • Unborn babies are also exposed to lead! Lead passes through the umbilical cord to unborn babies, so it is crucial for about-to-become or already pregnant women to be cautious about previous and current lead exposure. Studies on lead and pregnancy show that pregnancy doubled the lead levels in the blood.
  • Lead can also find its way into breast milk, although it’s not as great as the lead that is released from a woman’s bones during pregnancy.
  • Half of the lead ingested or inhaled when women were younger gets stored in their bones for up to 30 years. During pregnancy and lactation, women’s bodies require additional calcium, and the lead (which mimics calcium) stored in their bones activates and enters the bloodstream. A calcium supplement during pregnancy can help prevent the transfer of lead into unborn babies.

Other than exposure in the womb and/or through breast milk, how else are children exposed to lead?

Humans can only be exposed to lead in two ways (outside of the womb): either SWALLOWING or BREATHING IT IN. The good news is that it’s nearly impossible to absorb lead through the skin.

The most common ways people are exposed to lead are:

–        House paint *Lead paint in old homes is the most common way for a child to get exposed to lead. It’s estimated that 42-47 million homes in this country still contain lead paint, mostly in the eastern US, with parts of New York City considered to be the lead belt of the country. Also, lead paint is sweet, thus enticing to children who pay peel a piece of chipped paint off and eat it.

–        Soil *Due to lead being added to gasoline in the past, it still lives on in dirt alongside roadways as well as in soil around old houses and fences where lead paint has chipped away over the years.

–        Plumbing *Some of the drinking water in the US still travels through lead pipes and lead solder into our homes, especially in older communities where houses pre-date a modern revision to the Safe Drinking Water Act. You should and can have your water tested for lead. You should also have the plumbing in your house inspected to see if it contains lead. Hot water leaches more lead than cold water.

–        Did you know that most garden hoses contain lead? This is especially important to know if you water your garden with a hose that is lined with lead and/or if you or your children drink from a lead-tainted hose in the summer, etc. Non-lead versions are available and becoming more popular to use.

–        Food containers *Lead solder is sometimes used to seal imported canned food, in addition to leaching into food served on dishes painted with lead paint or from pewter.

–        Objects made with lead (i.e. products from foreign countries lacking lead standards) *Toys, costume jewelry, lunch boxes, flashlights, fishing rods, lipsticks and other cosmetics, hair dyes, and calcium supplement tablets are just to name of few of commonly tainted products. Namely, this is why I highly recommend switching cosmetics and also sticking to supplement companies that strictly test their raw materials for supplements.

–        Imports from Asia *Unfortunately, countries like China have had a horrible reputation with pollution and tainted products, namely lead used in metals and paints on things like toys. Additionally, any food supplement like traditional Chinese herbs, etc. contain high levels of lead because they are grown in polluted areas as well as being processed in plants that are tainted with heavy metals.

–        CHECK THE CONSUMER PRODUCT SAFETY COMMISSION’S WEBSITE FOR A LIST OF PRODUCTS RECALLED FOR LEAD: www.cpsc.gov/cpsclist.aspx

As parents, we need to be ever vigilant for our children, so when I read accounts of parents losing children from accidentally ingesting lead charms from bracelets made overseas, it makes me shudder. High enough levels of ingested lead can cause deadly seizures and brain dysfunction. It is also important to try and know where your food is grown. Lead has been known to collect in the roots of plants, although not moving as much into the shoots and leaves. Regardless, you should be cautious of crops grown in any areas that could have potential lead exposure (i.e. near highways, in highly-industrialized areas, etc.). Even dust from demolition work can be tracked into homes, lodging itself in carpets, between floor boards, and then eventually circulated throughout the home via air vent system.

The CDC dropped the universal testing requirement for children in the US (due to complaints from insurance companies that it was not a money-maker or doctors that it was a cost burden many families), therefore opening up a huge loophole for children to slip through the cracks if they have been exposed.

Personally, one of the best ways to help your child is to have them screened for lead when they are 6 months old and again at 1 year (due to the fact that young babies and children put everything in their mouths). If the count is above 2 mcg/dL, see where possible sources are coming from and have them tested again at 2 years old, which is the time lead levels generally peak.

Lead exposure is a scary thing and what’s even scarier is that you do not really know your levels unless you have your blood tested. Consuming supplements like chlorella and spirulina are heavy-metal binding, therefore they can help reduce levels in the body. Additionally, calcium supplements have been shown to be very effective at helping to prevent lead from crossing the blood-brain-barrier (besides, healthy calcium levels are important for growing children). I use an allergy-free, great-tasting liquid calcium supplement made by Blue Bonnet. My son takes it like a charm (it’s blueberry flavored).

I hope this information has been helpful about learning a bit more about what I refer to as a silent killer. Stay tuned next week for coverage on mercury.

Megan Monday articles are written by Megan Kalocinski, a Certified Holistic Nutrition and Health Coach and Owner/Founder of Empower Nutrition & Health Coaching, LLC. Megan educates and empowers women, men, and children of all ages to learn the true ins-and-outs of “feeding the brain with knowledge about the best foods, products, and habits for one’s body” in order to reach optimal health and wellness potentials. Visit her website today to learn more:http://www.exponentialhealthandwellness.us or feel free to send her an e-mail at:megan@empowerhealthcoach.com. Follow Megan on Twitter (@MPowerNutrition) and like her onFacebook: Empower Nutrition & Health Coaching, LLC.

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Edamame On The Rise

So…what is edamame?

Have you recently heard the term edamame, and wondered exactly what it is?  Edamame is a soybean, and soybeans are legumes, defined as a plant source protein.  If you have never seen endamame it has a bright green shell with small edible pea like pods inside.  Edamame has an array of nutritional benefits including high protein, fiber and a variety of minerals including calcium, potassium, iron, zinc, magnesium and copper. Soybeans are one of the few types of plant proteins that are a complete source of protein.  A complete source of protein a sources of protein that contains an adequate proportion of all nine of the essential amino acids.  The same protein as meat or an egg, which makes it a great option for vegetarians. Edamame is a complete protein that is a much healthier substitute for other protein sources that are higher in saturated fat and cholesterol.

What do I do with it?

Edamame can be purchased frozen either shelled or unshelled steaming creates.  A fun finger food snack to help prevent the loss of nutritive value, sprinkling with a dash of sea salt and eating the beans straight out of the shell. Another great option is to make  guacamole.  In order to do this mash the beans out of the shell, combine with fresh-diced tomato, minced garlic, cilantro and lime juice to make what we call “edamole”. Other dishes that can enamame can be included in are in chili, soups, stir fry, and salads and side dishes, below are a few ideas to try!

Try it out
 
Edamame and Corn Salad
Recipe Adopted from Diana De Cicco from http://www.sheknows.com
Makes 4 to 6 servings

 

Ingredients
•10 ounces frozen edamame, shelled
•2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
•1 white onion, chopped
•1 red bell pepper, chopped
•1 (16 ounce) can corn kernels, drained
•2 leeks, thinly sliced
•1 garlic clove, minced
•1 tablespoon fresh basil, minced
•1 tomato, diced
•salt and pepper to taste
•1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
Directions
1.Sauté edamame in olive oil for a few seconds, then add onion and cook until translucent.
2. Add red pepper, corn, leeks, and garlic and sauté until vegetables are just tender.
3.Spoon vegetable mixture into a bowl and stir in basil, tomato, and salt and pepper.
4.Top with feta cheese and chill until ready to serve.
Broccoli Stem, Quinoa, and Edamame Salad
Yields: 4 servings
For the salad:
•1/4 cup quinoa, rinsed well and drained
•1/4 teaspoon salt
•5 broccoli stems
•3/4 cup frozen, shelled edamame
•1 small head of radicchio
•1 pomegranate
For the dressing:
•3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
•1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
•1 tablespoon shallot, minced fine
•1 teaspoon grated ginger
•1/4 teaspoon dijon mustard
•1/2 teaspoon salt
•1/8 teaspoon black pepper
Directions
1. Add the quinoa, salt, and 1/2 cup water to a small saucepan. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and cover. Simmer for 10 minutes. When finished cooking, all the water should be absorbed and the grains will be cooked and fluffy.
2. Using a chef’s knife, trim away the outer layer of each broccoli stem to make a rectangle of only the soft inner flesh. Place one stem flat on your cutting board. Using even strokes of a vegetable peeler, shave off thin ribbons of broccoli. Continue with the rest of the stems. You should have 21/2 to 3 cups of broccoli ribbons when you’re done.
3. Bring a small saucepan of water to boil. Place the stems and frozen edamame into the boiling water. Blanch for 2 minutes. Fill a large bowl with ice water to create an ice bath. Using a large strainer, drain the vegetables and then immediately place the strainer with vegetables in the ice bath. Drain and pat dry with a clean tea towel or paper towels.
4. Cut the stem end off the radicchio and remove 5 nice leaves. Tear these into bite-size pieces in a large mixing bowl. Add the broccoli stems, edamame, and cooked quinoa.
5. Cut the pomegranate in half. Grasp one half of the fruit in one hand, cut side down, over a large bowl. Take a large wooden spoon with the other hand and hit the back of the pomegranate. This will release the seeds into the bowl. Continue until you have about 1/2 cup. Add to the salad, saving a few for garnish.
6. In a small bowl, whisk together all the dressing ingredients. Pour over the salad and toss well. Taste and adjust seasoning with a little salt and pepper. Divide evenly onto four salad plates and garnish with additional pomegranate seeds. Serve immediately.
Spaghetti With Edamame, Parsley, Garlic and Olive Oil
Recipe adopted from Martha Rose Shulman 
Yield: 4 servings

 

Ingredients
•1 large garlic clove, finely minced to taste
•Leaves from 1 bunch parsley
•2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
•1 1/3 cups organic frozen shelled edamame
•3/4 pound whole grain spaghetti
•1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan
Directions
1. Begin heating a large pot of water for the pasta. Meanwhile, turn on a food processor fitted with the steel blade, and drop in the garlic. When it’s chopped and adhering to the sides of the bowl, stop the machine and scrape down the bowl with a spatula. Add the parsley to the bowl, and process until finely chopped. With the machine running, drizzle in the olive oil. Transfer the mixture to a large pasta bowl.
2. When the water in the pot comes to a boil, salt generously, add the edamame or peas and cook five minutes. Remove from the pot with a strainer or a slotted spoon, and place in the bowl with the parsley.
3. Add the spaghetti to the boiling water, and cook al dente following the timing instructions on the package. Checking for doneness about a minute before the stated cooking time. When the pasta is cooked, remove 1/2 cup of the cooking water and add to the bowl with the herbs and edamame or peas. Drain the pasta, and toss with the mixture in the bowl. Add Parmesan if desired, and serve.
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TEST KITCHEN: Ice Cream Bar

As the weather gets warmer, the kid in all of us crazes ice cream and popsicles. While we are big ice cream fans, we do not always like all of the sugary toppings that are paired with it. To try and fix this problem, we created our own ice cream bar featuring toppings that were a bit healthier and more natural. Check it out!

For ice cream, we picked Whole Food’s 365 Vanilla, but you can pick any other flavor that your family would enjoy. We also love a good pint of Ben & Jerry’s, which is newly non GMO!
As far as toppings go, we put together a medley of fruits, as well as some unexpected offerings such as maple syrup and cinnamon.
Toppings we used: banana, strawberry, dark chocolate, almonds, maple syrup, cinnamon and coconut.
Our Creations

#1: Maple syrup, cinnamon, and dark chocolate
#2: MySuperFoods chocolate chip granola bar and strawberry (for a similar version, try our Granola bites!)
#3: Coconut, dark chocolate, almonds and bananas
#4: Bananas, strawberries and dark chocolate

 

How do you style your ice cream? Are you more of a fruit family, or do you opt for chocolate and coconut?
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