Nutrition Fact Friday: Cauliflower

Hey ya’ll! It is Friday. I’m so excited. My little brother is coming from Austin, and I am so pumped for all the fun adventures we are going to have. He is staying until Tuesday, so ya’ll know I am going to have a ton of drool worthy food pictures to share. Until then it is my favorite day of the week: Nutrition Fact Friday. This week’s topic is probably my favorite vegetable in the world, I literally came out of the womb craving this: CAULIFLOWER (Thanks mom – actually read an interesting study about how in the last weeks of pregnancy whatever the mother eats, the child tends to enjoy those tastes too).

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Cauliflower looks like the lame cousin of broccoli, but in my opinion it is like the cool older brother. Cauliflower is part of the cruciferous vegetable family, which is why it is identical almost to broccoli. This vegetable contains a large amount of Vitamin C, and actually way more than an orange. Most people don’t know that you can get vitamin C in all kinds of forms besides citrus fruit. Vitamin C protects against immune system deficiencies, cardiovascular disease, eye health, and skin wrinkling (older people should get their vitamin c on). Cauliflower also has a good amount of vitamin K in it, which is good for blood clotting and to prevent bone loss. One of the best things about cauliflower is that it contains a lot of fiber, so the more you eat the more full you will feel. It is important to incorporate a lot of fiber into your diet because it helps with a multitude of diseases and helps keep your system in check. Cauliflower has a good amount of antioxidants in it, so it helps detoxify your system by ridding of unwanted toxins in the body. These antioxidants also help fight against cancer, so try to get 3-4 servings of cruciferous vegetables in a week.

Now that we are done with the education part of this nutrition fact Friday, I am going to share the delicious food pictures and recipes. Cauliflower is probably the best vegetable because it is so versatile and you can turn it into anything that you want.

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Probably one of my favorite things to do with cauliflower is make my delicious cauliflower crust pizzas that are literally to die for. My recipe is pretty simple to make, so I recommend checking it out. These are really great because you can add whatever you want on top thus providing yourself with even more nutrition. You can either make these with individual pizzas, in case you wanted to share, or you can make it into one large pizza that will last you for a few days. I am sort of liking the larger pizza because you can make it into a bigger and better one.

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Of course I am going to share one of my more recent recipes, which was the sweet potato, kale, and caramelized onion cauliflower crust pizza. That recipe was definitely a winner in my book. This pizza was the best cauliflower crust pizza that I have ever had since I have been making this. It actually has inspired me to come up with some new delicious ones to make in the big style, such as jalapeno popper pizza. You know you are drooling just thinking about it.

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Isn’t this a pretty neat recipe? Cauliflower fried rice for the win. You are still getting all the fiber that you would have been getting from the rice, but at a much lower calorie count. This is probably one of the better recipes that I have made. You really don’t even notice that it isn’t brown rice. I mean look at that picture. It looks exactly like fried rice. My friends at school couldn’t even tell that it was cauliflower. They just assumed that I had made some fried rice.

8557474732_3f8bef055eThis recipe is from Sweet Nicks, and it is something that I have been really wanting to try out for a while now. I think this will probably be my next cauliflower recipe. It is garlic cauliflower mashed potatoes. It is something that is really simple, but tastes really good. I love mashed potatoes, I mean for chrissakes I’m a Southern girl, but damn do those things pack a ton of calories. This will probably be my go to recipe when I’m having cravings for home style comfort food, but don’t want to gain the million pounds that come with that southern diet. Now all I need is a healthy fried chicken recipe, and I am good to go.

I hope ya’ll have a great Friday. I am off to work soon. This week we are teaching the kids about whole grains, so we will be serving things like pita with fun dips for the kids to try out. Afterwards I plan on going on food adventures with my brother and his friend for dinner. I am looking forward to it!

What is your favorite cauliflower recipe?
What would you like to see for Nutrition Fact Friday?

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Nutrition Fact Friday: Spinach

Hey ya’ll! It is that time of the week again. Nutrition fact Friday. Definitely one of the best days of the week. I’m thinking of even revamping it more and making it a link party in which fellow bloggers make a recipe based on that weeks topic. That would be fun. Until then lets talk about today’s topic, which is one of my favorite vegetables: SPINACH! I seriously love spinach. You can do so much with it and it provides tons of nutrients, so lets get this nutrition education lesson started!

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Look at that delicious bowl of spinach. Doesn’t that make you hungry? When most people think of spinach, they think of two things: Popeye and a slimy green vegetable that tastes disgusting. What?!? Those people are seriously delusional because spinach is great. You can have it fresh, frozen, or from a can. It really depends on what you want to do with it and what your budget is. So lets check out the nutrients that are in spinach. One cup of spinach (fresh or cooked) packs a mean load of vitamins to meet our daily requirements. It meets over our daily intake for vitamin K and vitamin A. It is also a good source for manganese, folate, magnesium, iron, copper, and vitamin C. It also has some significant amounts, 5-25% of our DI, of other vitamins and minerals. Therefore by just consuming spinach at one meal, such as in a salad, you are already getting a good amount of nutrients. It is always important to try to have a balanced diet to meet these daily requirements since each vitamin and mineral provides specific health benefits.

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Since spinach is packed with tons of nutrients that means that it also has a ton of health benefits associated with it. Spinach is pretty much a super food or as we nutritionists like to call it a functional food. So lets discuss all the things that spinach can do for you and maybe you will change your mind about this “icky” vegetable. Spinach contains a lot of flavanoid compounds, which means that it has an anti-cancer effect by providing an anti-inflammatory effect. Excessive amounts of inflammation can lead to the development of cancer, so therefore having something that fights against this inflammation means that it will help decrease the risk of cancer. These flavanoids also act as antioxidants. Antioxidants protect the body against oxidative stress, which is a stress that leads to various problems throughout the body. For example, oxidative stress causes damage to our blood vessels, so the flavanoids from spinach come in to help decrease atherosclerosis and high blood pressure. Spinach also contains carotenoids, such as lutein and zeaxanthin, which focus on eye health. With the consumption of spinach, you have a significant increase in lutein, which is good in prevention of macular degeneration. Also due to these carotenoids, spinach provides an immune protection function.

So what is the benefit of having way over the amount of vitamin K? Let me tell you! Vitamin K is important for maintaining bone health, which is nice since most people think that only dairy products are used for bone health. Get in your spinach to help your bones. Specifically vitamin K helps prevent an overproduction of osteoclasts, which are specific cells that are used to break down bones. Spinach is one of the only vegetables that packs this much vitamin K, so therefore if your diet is lacking then spinach is the go to choice. Get on the spinach train now! Now time for the fun part: THE RECIPES!

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One of my favorite blogs, Skinny Taste,  has a delicious recipe of stuffed chicken with spinach and feta. A good way to make spinach more edible for those palates that don’t particularly like the texture or taste is to mix it with something creamy. Trust me when I say that these Skinnytaste recipes are amazeballs. Try this one out and then go through her blog to check out her other recipes because they are the bomb!

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Check out this delicious recipe from a Tasty Love Story. It is a recipe for creamy spinach with fried eggs. Once again the recipe is utilizing a creamy texture in order to make the spinach more edible, but I like that it uses spinach in other ways rather than just a salad or a topping on a sandwich. You can definitely incorporate spinach into breakfast. You can put it in omelets or even make some spinach pancakes. To make this dish healthier, instead of using the cooking cream, I would opt for greek yogurt. That way you are getting more protein and lower calories.

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A typical route to always go with spinach is through a salad. This is a delicious salad from Recipe Girl. This is a simple spinach salad with chicken, avocado, and goat cheese. The good thing about salads is that you can not only get tons of the benefits from spinach, but you can also add tons of toppings that pack a nutritious punch. Ideas would be pomegranate seeds, red onions, tomatoes, nuts, and avocado. You can get a source of protein by adding chicken or tofu and a source of fat by having the avocado, cheese, or a healthy oil for dressing.

I hope you enjoyed this weeks nutrition fact Friday! Now go out and buy some bags of spinach. You definitely won’t regret it and neither will your body.

What is your favorite way to use spinach?
What would you like to see for nutrition fact friday?

Nutrition Fact Friday: Calcium

Hey ya’ll! Friday is the best day because that means it is Nutrition Fact Friday. Every Friday of the week, I will be providing ya’ll with a mini nutrition education lesson on a nutrient, food, or something nutrition related. This week I have a special guest who goes by the name of Calcium. Calcium is considered to be the most abundant mineral in the body. It is found in some foods, added to others, and it can be in some medicines. This mighty mineral is needed for a variety of things to function in your body. Some things calcium impacts are vasodilation, muscle contraction, and hormone secretion. Calcium, in the average person’s mind, is considered to be a bone mineral. They are right in some ways because 99% of calcium is stored in the bone, but there are so many functions of calcium! One of the most common problems in society is that most people assume calcium is found in milk, so they push milk consumption like crazy. However this is not completely true! Calcium is found in a ton of options, so lets check them out:

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Since calcium is found in so many foods, you can plan your diet around many options in order to get your daily intake amount in. This is especially important to notice if you are vegan or lactose intolerant because you don’t consume milk in those populations, so having many options like different vegetables allows every population to not be calcium deficient. Calcium deficiency, also known as hypocalcemia, can be a huge problem since calcium regulates many things such as blood pressure and it helps construct bones. Side effects that occur when there isn’t enough calcium in the body are osteoporosis, eye damage, and abnormal heartbeats. Therefore it is extremely important to consume calcium regularly in the diet.

The recommended intake for individuals, male or female, from ages 19-50 is 1000 mg. This is a pretty good number to try to reach every day. For individuals that are younger the requirement is usually less than 1000 until children reach the age of development, which is 9-18 years old and they consume around 1300 mg. The same is true for the population as it ages because there is an increased risk of developing osteoporosis. There is no maximum amount of calcium to limit yourself to because no adverse effects have been seen. It is important though to mix up your sources of calcium because when you consume things such as spinach, collard greens, and oranges you are giving your body other vital nutrients and minerals that are needed for the daily intake. One of the key things of living a nutritious and healthy life is following variety!

Now for the fun part of the nutrition fact Friday. The recipe ideas to help you consume more calcium. Each week on Friday, I will round up some of my favorite recipes that utilize a major source of that week’s topic in them. So this week it is all about those delicious calcium recipes!

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What a good way to get a good amount of calcium then by consuming more than one source in one sitting! This amazing recipe from Simply Life uses tofu and broccoli to create a stunning Chinese inspired dish. For one thing, it is sesame tofu, which maybe one of my favorite dishes to order at a Chinese restaurant (specifically Rice Bowl in Austin, currently having a drool sesh right now as I write this post). This recipe is incredibly easy to follow, it contains tons of healthy ingredients, and it is packed full of awesome flavors. This probably contains around 446 mg of calcium in it. That is a pretty great amount. The more broccoli you put in the dish, the more the calcium level will increase. A great idea would be to include some bok choy too. That way you are getting a large amount of fiber with your calcium, so you will feel fuller for a longer period of time.

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Another great recipe to get in your calcium requirements is seen on the Preppy Paleo. This recipe is for Maple Almond Salmon. Once again the recipe is using two sources of calcium, which is amazing. Coating fish in a crust is a good way for people that don’t eat a lot of fish or particularly like the texture of fish to enjoy it. I love almonds and salmon, so I will definitely have to try this one out. This recipe has a little lower average value of calcium, which would be around 250 mg for a serving. However you could definitely increase your amount by adding a side of broccoli to the dinner or a nice plate of collard greens, which pack in a total of 357 mg of calcium (wow, those Southerners sure now how to get that calcium in their diet).

Calcium is really easy to consume throughout the day as long as you are having balanced meals. One of the easiest ways to get a dose in with breakfast is to consume dairy products, such as yogurt, cheese, or milk. However for those who don’t want to go the dairy path, focus on having an orange or a freshly squeezed glass of orange juice. Other options include a vegetable omelet with spinach. Snacks are easy to because you can just grab an orange or a handful of nuts to take along with you.

Keep those bones and teeth strong and the heart pumping! Don’t forget to get your calcium in daily. A healthy reminder is that consuming calcium chews or multivitamins does not help you reach your daily value. When you consume those, they tend to go out of your body immediately through your urine. That means that you need to eat fresh foods daily in order to consistently reach your daily requirements!

What is your favorite source of calcium?
Do you have any good calcium rich recipes?