Wednesday, March 28, 2012

amazing weed

I’m usually not a fan of health fads. But I have kept up with one particular trend…

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And not just the green smoothie concept [although those are pretty great]. I usually add a scoop of wheat grass to my smoothie, which most people would say is a waste of money.

What is wheatgrass?

Wheatgrass is derived from the wheat plant and contains iron, calcium, magnesium, amino acids, chlorophyll, and vitamins A, C and E (although depending on the type of grass purchased, these may not be present in large quantities).

What are its proposed benefits?

Assists in red blood cell formation, boosts the immune system, kills pathogenic bacteria, treats various diseases, and detoxifies the body.

What does the research say?

There have not been any credible or large scale studies conducted to  substantiate the health claims of wheat grass.

Is it safe?

Generally safe to consume; however, pregnant women or anyone who is immune compromised should avoid use as it is considered a raw product and may be contaminated with bacteria/mold.

And the bottom line?

  • If you’re looking for scientific evidence that wheatgrass = magic juice of life, you’ll be disappointed. However, some aspects of holistic nutrition are beneficial despite lacking substantial evidence.
  • Wheatgrass contains a variety of nutrients that are beneficial for the body, but I take use it for the micronutrient properties because the kind I buy doesn’t contain them in significant quantities. I also appreciate the phytonutrients (no DRI/RDAs for these).
  • A diet high in fruits and vegetables can provide adequate phytonutrients and antioxidants. Wheatgrass is not a substitute for good nutrition.
  • Wheatgrass may be beneficial as a dietary supplement, meaning it may be a beneficial way to help meet nutrient needs. The absorption of specific nutrients from wheatgrass is unknown.

Am I wasting my money? Maybe according to the research, but I honestly note a difference in how I feel when taking wheatgrass, and that’s something I feel is worth the extra cash. While I eat a ton of vegetables, I’ve also found that drinking wheatgrass helps my immune system (exposed to 60 billion germs working at a children’s hospital).

[sources: 1, 2]

Hope everyone has a lovely weekend (yes, I know it’s Wednesday. I’m just looking ahead…). Hopefully, I’ll be eating local food, running, and enjoying the spring weather as much as possible.

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Speaking of local food, I’ve was just at Marie Catrib’s, a restaurant in Grand Rapids that uses local produce and is delicious (although a bit pricey); at any rate, it’s a nice treat.

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This salad was fantastic. I forgot how amazing goat cheese tastes. Especially when combined with pesto. This dish might be recreated in the near future.

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What are your thoughts on wheatgrass?

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Wednesday, March 14, 2012

hello spring

An unseasonably warm 80 degree day today…pretty fantastic if you ask me. I’m officially done with [pseudo] winter. If it’s going to be summer weather, the warmer temps better stay. Can’t wait to spend more time here…

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This weekend Dave and I attempted to duplicate the Mediterranean veggie sandwich made by a certain bread company. I have to admit that he did most of the work, baking bread and blending pesto. I chopped veggies…and ate.

1] Things started with homemade tomato basil bread

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2] And lots of chopped veggies: red onion, tomato, and cucumbers.

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3] Basil pesto: the pesto was amazing. Incredibly excited for more farmers’ market fresh basil.

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4] Final product: it didn’t taste exactly like Panera’s version; I actually thought it was much fresher (there’s also a sprinkling of feta cheese in there).

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My sister is also here on her last spring break ever. We are going to eat vegetarian food and ice cream (it all balances out, right? right??) and probably yoga. I’ve been doing this yoga podcast almost every morning before work, and it’s pretty nice to start out the day in a de-stressed fashion.

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Do you have a famous dish that you’ve tried to recreate on your own? Success or not?

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ps. wheatgrass post is still forthcoming. and so is a new little series i’m pretty excited about…

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

new spin on the salad…

It may be slightly cliché, but usually I find myself eating a giant salad around dinner time, not just because it’s easy and fast to prepare, but because it’s a really good chance to sneak in some veggies. You may think that eating vegetables comes naturally to a dietitian, but I definitely have to be intentional about working them into my meals. 

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And salads can certainly be more refined than the icky iceberg lettuce and dried out carrot shreds that compose most packaged mixes. I have found this spiralizer super helpful in making my salads a little more creative. The above salad contains:

  • spiralized cucumber
  • spiralized sweet potato (roasted in olive oil and dijon mustard at 400 for 15-20 minutes)
  • candied almonds (slice almonds and heat in a frying pan with a slight sprinkling of sugar)
  • feta cheese
  • spring mix

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Tahini is a nutrient packed and makes a great salad topper. I like it mixed with a little balsamic vinegar or BBQ sauce (weird, I know but so good). I also will often top my salads with hummus. I find that eating so many green things at once is both energizing (hate eating heavy meals and then going to bed a couple hours later) and definitely filling.

If you find that salads just don’t fill you up, add some extra protein in the form of nuts, seeds, cheese, or an egg.

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Also a new soup recipe for you (adapted from here).

Black Bean and Quinoa Soup

  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 large onion, diced small
  • 1 tsp. minced garlic
  • 1 large or 2 medium sweet potatoes, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1 cans black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can tomatoes
  • 3-4 cups homemade vegetable or chicken stock
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • salt and pepper to taste

Heat olive oil in heavy soup pot, add diced onion and cook over medium heat for 6-8 minutes, or until onions are just starting to brown.  Add minced garlic, chili powder, and fresh-ground black pepper and saute 1-2 minutes more or until spices are becoming fragrant. Add cubed sweet potatoes, black beans, and stock. Simmer on low-medium heat for 25-30 minutes or until sweet potatoes are cooked.

And wouldn’t you figure…after a crazy weekend of snow traveling and skiing, it was 60 degrees today, and I ran a lovely 4 miles outside in the sunshine in shorts. Crazy winter, but I’m not complaining.

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Fave ways to eat vegetables??

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p.s. post on wheat grass in the works…