Marvelous Meatballs

You may associate red meat with a food that is off limits. Personally, I eat a mostly plant-based diet and keep red meat as an occasional indulgence, but red meat can have its benefits.

Eating red meat has been discouraged because many cuts are high in cholesterol and saturated fat. Red meat does have a place in a healthy diet as long as you choose the right cuts of beef. Eye round roast and steak, round steak, sirloin tip roast and 95 percent ground meat all offer healthy options, or choose bison for lean red meat. Adding one or two servings of fresh or organic lean red meat to your weekly diet will supply your body with many vital nutrients.

Here are three major benefits to red meat:

Benefit 1: Since meat contains a large amount of protein, this could be beneficial to the body as the need for protein is an important one for the body. Since protein is said to improve the overall health and well-being of one’s body, there are other benefits such as the repair and building of body tissues as well as the production of antibodies that will protect the body from infections, thus strengthening the immune system as well. Most importantly, since meat contains all the essential amino acids, it definitely ranks as one of the best sources of protein.

Benefit 2: Red meat is rich in iron, zinc and selenium. While iron helps in forming hemoglobin that transports oxygen to different parts of your body, zinc helps in tissue formation and metabolism as well as selenium breaks down the fat and chemicals in the body.

Benefit 3: Vitamins are a big part of anyone’s diet, and Vitamin A, B and D are commonly found in meat. Not only do these vitamins promote good vision, stronger teeth and bones but they support the central nervous system which promotes mental health. Another big benefit of eating meat is the maintenance of your skin’s health.

Here’s a great melt-in-your-mouth recipe for hearty meatballs to enjoy as party of your next healthy meal.

  
Ingredients:
1 lb ground beef (do not exceed over 86% fat)

1 egg

1/2 tablespoon garlic powder

1/2 tablespoon oregano

salt & pepper to taste

1⁄2 cup Italian style breadcrumbs (my favorite is Progresso)

1/4 cup water

2 lbs pasta sauce

Directions:

Put ground beef in large bowl,

Add the egg and the bread crumbs.

Sprinkle garlic powder, oregano, salt/pepper, there is no measuring for that, just sprinkle.

Mix meat mixture with clean hands or in mixed.

  
Add about 1/4 cup water. The meat mixture will be soft.

In a large cooking pot, put sauce, start heating up the sauce, have it set on medium.

Now take about 2 tablespoons of meat and gently roll in ball, gently put each meatball in the sauce, (yes it will be raw) do not fry the meat balls before the sauce).

  
Do this until all the meatballs are in the sauce, cook for 1- 3 hours max. The longer the better. Delish!

Enjoy!

In health,

Johanna

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Roasted Eggplant Soup

Long prized for its deeply purple, glossy beauty as well as its unique taste and texture, eggplants are now available in markets throughout the year, but they are at their very best from August through October when they are in season.
Here’s what eggplant can do to help you live healthier:
1) The iron, calcium and other minerals in eggplant supply the essential nutrients required by the body. All this, while relishing a highly flavorful veggie, is a good deal, indeed! Stuff, grill, bake, roast, stew your eggplants—they’re delicious in so many ways!
2) Eggplants contain certain essential phyto nutrients which improve blood circulation and nourish the brain. But keep in mind—these nutrients are concentrated in the skin of the eggplant, so don’t throw it away.
3) They provide fiber, which protects the digestive tract. In fact, regular intake of eggplants can protect you from colon cancer.
4) Eggplant is low in calories, with just 35 per cup. It contains no fat and its high fiber content can help you feel full and aids with weight loss.
5) Eggplant is great for controlling and managing diabetes. Research validates this role, thanks to the high fiber and low soluble carbohydrate content of the eggplant.
6) Eggplants have a role in heart care, too. Research studies show they can lower ‘bad’ cholesterol. But you must cook them the right way to get these benefits. Fried eggplant soaks up a lot of fat, making it harmful and heavy. Instead, bake it at 400 degrees, which brings out glorious flavor and gives you all the goodness an eggplant holds!
7) The heart-healthy benefits of eggplant don’t end with limiting cholesterol. Eggplants are high in bioflavonoids, which are known to control high blood pressure and relieve stress.
8) Regular consumption of eggplant helps prevent blood clots—thanks again to Vitamin K and bioflavonoids, which strengthen capillaries.
With the Autumn season here in New England and a trip to my farmers market, I could not resist making a big batch of hearty veggie soup and put my fresh eggplant, zucchini, onions, and tomatoes to good use! I hope you enjoy this beautiful soup and it’s many healthy benefits.

  

Roasted Eggplant Soup
Serves 4

  • 2 medium tomatoes, halved
  • 1 large eggplant (about 1 1/2 pounds), cubed
  • 1 large zucchini
  • 2 small onion, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon diced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons avocado or olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried
  • 2 cups spinach
  • 2 cups chicken stock or vegetable broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 cup orzo 
  • 3/4 cup (about 3 1/2 ounces) crumbled Parmesan cheese 

Preheat oven to 400°F. Arrange tomatoes, zucchini. eggplant, onion and garlic on a large roasting pan and drizzle vegetables with oil then roast them for 40 minutes.

  
Add 2 cups of water and returning the pan to the oven for another 30 to 40 minutes, until the remaining vegetables are tender. 

  
Remove from oven and scoop all contents from the roasting pan into a heavy, large saucepan or soup pot. Add stock or broth, spinach and orzo. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Add Parmesan cheese. 

  
Enjoy!

In health,

Johanna

Berries for Health

  
Berries may be little, but boysenberries, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, and cranberries are big on antioxidants. The antioxidants in berries can help your body fight oxidative stress caused by free radicals that can lead to illness.
Berries are full of health benefits. But for the purpose of this post, I’m going to focus on how they are loaded with fiber, which helps you feel full (and eat less) and are good for easing your arthritis symptoms, too.
The high antioxidant power of berries protects your body against inflammation and free radicals, molecules that can damage cells and organs and activated arthritic pain.
To get the optimal health benefits of berries, eat two to three types of fresh, frozen or dehydrated each day. Incorporate the benefits of berries into your daily diet with the following suggestions: 
1. Strawberries contain more vitamin C in a one-cup serving than one orange and are particularly high in folic acid. Easy serving tip: Top with Greek yogurt for a low-calorie breakfast or dip in melted, low-fat brie cheese.
2. Cranberries not only combat urinary tract infections by preventing Escherichia coli bacteria from sticking to cells in the urinary tract, but they also are a natural probiotic, supporting healthy bacteria that grow in the gastrointestinal tract and aiding in digestion. Easy serving tip: Add a cup of fresh or frozen cranberries to bread recipes. Toss dried cranberries in salads or trail mixes.
3. Blackberries, Raspberries and Boysenberries each contains 8 grams (g) of fiber in one cup – one-third the daily recommended amount. Easy serving tip: Blend them with 100-percent fruit juice and heat to make a sauce for lean protein such as tofu, fish, and chicken.
4. Blueberries contain 20 types of anthocyanin – antioxidants that give berries their blue-violet and red colors. Other berries contain only three or four types. Easy serving tip: Toss a handful on cereals and oatmeal, blend into smoothies, put on a bagel with cream cheese or try this awesome, healthy berry with cream.

Berries with Cream

Ingredients:

1 cup blueberries

1/2 cup blackberries

1 tablespoon vanilla

1 teaspoon cinnamon 

  
  

Combine all ingredients in a sauce pad over medium heat. Stir gently (don’t smush your berries!)

    
Once mixture has the desired consistency – serve warm topped with homemade whip cream or store in the fridge to cool and serve later.

    

Topping:

1 container whipping cream

1 tablespoon vanilla
Combine in a bowl and mix to desired consistency. I used my Nutribullet 😄👍

  
  

Enjoy!
In health,

Johanna

Strawberry Bonbons

  
If you’re not already a fan of strawberries, you should be. Not only are they juicy, summery and delicious, they’re a bona fide superfood, too. Nutrient-rich and packed with antioxidants (like vitamin C), strawberries offer a wide range of health benefits, some of which may surprise you.

The tiny strawberry is packed with vitamin C, fiber, antioxidants, and more. The heart-shaped silhouette of the strawberry is the first clue that this fruit is good for you. These potent little packages protect your heart, increase HDL (good) cholesterol, lower your blood pressure, and guard against cancer.
In general,  the benefits of consuming fruits and vegetables of all kinds, including strawberries, are infinite. As plant food consumption goes up, the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and cancer goes down. 

High fruit and vegetable intake is also associated with healthy skin and hair, increased energy, and lower weight.

Strawberries have a natural sweetness that makes them irresistible. In fact, if you a craving a summer treat and want something sweet and frozen opt for frozen strawberries to satisfy your craving.

Here’s a super simple recipe for strawberry Bonbons to try.

Ingredients:

  

  • Fresh washed strawberries (halved)
  • Yogurt

Directions:

  • Dip strawberries in yogurt
  • Place on a cookie sheet with waxed paper
  • Freeze overnight

  
Enjoy your frost kid-friendly treat.

In health,

Johanna

Watermelon Pops

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Watermelons are mostly water, actually about 92% H2O to be precise. But not only is watermelon hydrating, this refreshing fruit is soaked with nutrients. Each juicy bite has significant levels of vitamins A, B6 and C, lots of lycopene, antioxidants and amino acids. There’s even a modest amount of potassium!

By the end of summer you might beginning to get a bit bored with sliced watermelon, so here’s a fresh idea to have a healthy refreshing treat – make watermelon pops with fresh watermelon juice!

This is super simple, all you need us watermelon and pop makers (found at most dollar stores).  ((Warning: you might be inspired to make many other types of fruit/veggie pops after this!))

I used my juicer to make these treats, but if you don’t have a juicer you can just cut up watermelon, purée it in your blender, and pour into molds – this isn’t rocket science!

Nothing beats a totally natural, 100% healthy frozen treat with one ingredient!

1) buy watermelon

2) cut watermelon into cubes

3) put cubes through juicer/blender

4) pour juice/purée into molds

5) freeze overnight or until frozen through.

Enjoy!

In health,

Johanna

Watermelon Salad

It’s August, it’s 95 degrees outside with an air quality warning in my neck of the woods – you get the idea, it’s summer and it’s hot. What does that call for? Watermelon!

I love making watermelon salad and lucky for you, I’m going to share my delicious and nutritious recipe!

But before I get to the delicious bit, let me talk about the nutritious part.

This recipe calls for so many foods that are awesome for you (watermelon, feta, basil, olive oil, lime juice and beetroot juice) – first off watermelon helps manage high blood pressure and improves heart health. Plus it relieves pain and muscle soreness and because it’s mostly made up of water, watermelon detoxifies the body.

Feta is  arguably healthier to eat than many other cheeses because it is significantly lower in fat. This crumbly cheese has a decent amount of protein and provides a substantial amount of some B vitamins and calcium.

Basil helps reduce inflammation and swelling, has anti-aging properties, and is rich in antioxidants.

Olive oil (Extra Virgin) is one of the healthiest types of fat around. The monounsaturated fat in olive oil has been shown to control LDL (bad) cholesterol and raise HDL (good) cholesterol. This can potentially lower your risk of heart disease. Additionally, the antioxidants contained in olive oil can benefit more than your heart. Because this substance prevents cell destruction, it fights the signs of aging and gives you a more youthful appearance. 

Lime juice contains antioxidants that slow down the process of buildup of plaque on artery walls. Similar to other citrus fruits, lime juice offers a plethora of vitamins and minerals, including potassium. 

Beetroot juice is one of the richest dietary sources of antioxidants and naturally occurring nitrates. Nitrates are compounds which improve blood flow throughout the body – including the brain, heart, and muscles. These natural nitrates increase a molecule in the blood vessels called nitric oxide, which helps open up the vessels and allows more oxygen flow as well as lowers blood pressure. 

Bottom line, there is not one ingredient in this salad that is not amazing for your body. Now that you have the facts, let’s get to the food.

Enjoy this simple recipe.

In health, 

Johanna




Watermelon Salad

ingredients

1 small seedless watermelon (or 1/4 of a large one) 

Handful of fresh basil leaves (sliced into thin slivers)

1/4 cup (2 ounces) crumbled Feta 

2 tablespoons e.v. olive oil 

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

1tablespoon fresh Beetroot juice

1/8 teaspoon himalayan salt

1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 

directions

Cut the watermelon in half. Slice bite-size pieces of the watermelon and add to a large bowl or platter (you should get about 8 cups).

Scatter thinly sliced basil leaves over the top.

Crumble the Feta over the salad. 

Mix oil and lime juice and sprinkle with the salt and pepper (about 6 turns on pepper mill). 

Drizzle dressing over salad.




Green Goodness: Asparagus

One of the first foods that signals the start of spring is the appearance fresh greens! A gem in particular that I love is asparagus at my local farmers’ markets and grocery stores. Just as spring is a time of new beginnings, asparagus is one of those veggies that I love to experiment with during this time of year. Below is one experiment example, asparagus vichyssoise – but before we go there, I want you to know WHY asparagus is so awesome.

Check this out: 7 powerful health benefits of asparagus you probably didn’t know (from WebMD):

1. Asparagus is a good source of fiber and protein, both essential for good digestion and immunity.

2. It contains a number of anti-inflammatory compounds that protect you from type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

3. It has antioxidants, including one called glutathione, which is known to protect the skin from sun damage, pollution and the effects of aging.

4. The Vitamin K in asparagus is excellent for healthy blood clotting and strengthening bones.

5. Asparagus contains a unique carb called inulin, which remains undigested until it reaches the large intestine, where it helps to absorb nutrients better, and cut the risk of colon cancer.

6.Good news for those struggling to manage their blood sugar: asparagus is a rich source of B vitamins, which are known to regulate blood sugar levels.

7. Green asparagus contains vitamin A for better vision, potassium for smooth kidney functioning, and trace minerals that help boost immunity.

Now as promised, here’s my asparagus vichyssoise … Drumroll please……

Recipe: Asparagus Vichyssoise

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 tablespoons butter or extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 leeks, trimmed, well-washed and chopped and 1 yellow onion
  • 1 pound thin asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1-inch lengths
  •  Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 5 cups vegetablestock
  • 1 cup white wine or half-and-half, optional
  • *(Optional – top with chives & sugar free whipped cream)
  • PREPARATION

    1. Put butter or oil in a large, deep saucepan and turn heat to medium. When butter melts or oil is hot, add vegetables. If you like, set aside 12 or 16 of the nicest pieces of asparagus; parboil in salted water for about 2 minutes and use as a garnish for the soup. Season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring, for 2 to 3 minutes.
    2. Add stock and wine (if using) cook until vegetables are very tender, about 15 minutes. 
    3. Purée soup in batches until very smooth. Chill. (Though vichyssoise is served cool, this soup could also be served warm.) Top with whipped cream, if using, taste and adjust seasoning, garnish if you like, and serve.

    4. In health,
    5. Johanna

 

Reasons to tango with your mango 

The tango is the dance of love. So, here’s why you should tango with your mango: mangoes have been named the most widely consumed fruit in the world. Some of the possible health benefits of consuming mango include a decreased risk of macular degeneration, a decreased risk of colon cancer, improvement in digestion and bone health and even benefits for the skin and hair.

Love your mango and it will love you back! Consuming fruits and vegetables of all kinds has long been associated with a reduced risk of many lifestyle-related health conditions. Many studies have suggested that increasing consumption of plant foods like mangoes decreases the risk of obesity and overall mortality, diabetesheart disease and promotes a healthy complexion and hair, increased energy, overall lower weight.

Yes, fruits are great, but today I’m talking about mangoes, so here’s how to incorporate more mangoes into your diet:

Do not judge the ripeness of a mango by its’ color. Look for fresh mangoes that yield slightly to pressure when ripe. Avoid fruits with many black freckles on the skin. Mangoes will continue to ripen at room temperature. When at the desired ripeness, store them in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for 2-3 days. Mangoes taste best when slightly chilled.

  • One of the best ways to enjoy a mango is diced fresh, just by itself. Take the mystery of out how to cut a mango by watching this helpful video.
  • Make a tropical fruit salad with fresh papaya, pineapple and mango.
  • Muddle mango into your glass of lemonade, iced tea or water for a burst of fresh fruity flavor.
  • Make a fresh salsa with papaya, mango, jalapeno, red peppers and chipotle pepper and use as a topper for your favorite fish tacos, baked salmon, tofu or chicken.
  • Add a few slices of fresh or frozen mango to your smoothies. Combine with pineapple,  strawberries and coconut almond milk for a sweet tropical treat.
  • Try tossing mango into your next salad! It will look beautiful up against all those greens and give an added twist for flavor. Drizzle with lime juice for a citrus kick.

To get you started with your mango tango, dance in your kitchen with this new mango salsa recipe — spice things up in your kitchen! 

Mango Salsa

Ingredients:

2 cups chopped pitted peeled mango

1 cup chopped red bell pepper

2/3 cup chopped green onion

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

2 limes – squeeze for fresh lime juice

1 finely chopped jalapeño pepper (optional, but highly recommended)



Instructions:

Combine the mango,red pepper,  jalapeño, green onion, lime juice and cilantro leaves and mix well. Refrigerate for one hour to allow flavor story blend.

Serve with tortilla chips, spread on a taco, top a burger, or bake with fish or chicken— however you decide to use your mango, this salsa is sure to add some spice to your life.



Let life be flavorful.

Enjoy,

Johanna

  

Crazy for Cranberries!

Do you need a go-to tip for improving your heart, health, and mind? I’ve go the a secret to share… get ready to go crazy for cranberries. These tart berries help your heart, skin, shape, brain & more! Who knew there were so many reasons to enjoy this wonder-fruit?

Cranberries are at the top of the grocery list due to their high nutrient and antioxidant content and are often referred to as a “super food.” Not to mention, half a cup of cranberries contains only 25 calories!  So here are the benefits of cranberries, they help to:

  • Treat Urinary Tract Infections:  Pure cranberry juice can help block urinary tract infections by preventing E. coli bacteria from sticking to the walls of the uterus and bladder. One glass of juice a day is all you need to prevent and heal urinary tract infections.
  • Fight Cancers: Studies have shown that cranberry extracts can prevent breast cancer cells from multiplying.
  • Fight Heart Disease: Cranberries are very good for the heart. They help to lower the bad cholesterol levels which can clog the arterial walls. 
  • Help Kidney and Bladder Problems: Cranberries contain citric acid and other nutrients that can prevent kidney stones, and other kidney and bladder problems.
  • Promote Weight Loss: Cranberries are high in antioxidants, which help to flush out your system. This in turn improves your metabolism and digestive system so that you can begin to lose weight quicker.
  • Provide Anti-Aging Properties : The antioxidants contained in cranberries will help your body to get rid of all the free radicals which contribute to the aging process. They will not only help your skin to look young, but your internal organs will also be able to function longer without problems.
  • Improve Mental Health: Help to lift your moods by relieving stress, anxiety and depression. Studies show that they are good for the brain and can help to improve your memory.
  • Strengthen the Immune System: The antioxidants work hard to flush out the harmful toxins which suppress the immune system. Once these are removed, your immune system will be strong so that you can ward off just about any sickness or disease.

From breakfast to dinner (and snacks in between) your entire day can be cran-healthy!

Some tips for enjoying cranberries:

  • Make a homemade trail mix with unsalted nuts, seeds and dried cranberries.
  • Include a small handful of frozen cranberries in a fruit smoothie.
  • Add dried cranberries to your oatmeal or whole grain cereal.
  • Toss dried or fresh cranberries into your favorite muffins or cookie recipe.
  • Include fresh cranberries in an apple dessert like pie or cobbler for an extra kick of flavor.

My recipe to share: Cranberry bread makes a real breakfast treat! The contrast between the sweet bread and the tart cranberries is absolutely delightful. This week I’ve made cranberry lime almond bread to enjoy as a grab n’ go breakfast. 

Below is my recipe. Enjoy!

In health,

Johanna



Ingredients

  • 1 teaspoon light olive oil for pan
  • 2 cups cranberries (fresh, frozen or dried)
  • 2 cups flour of choice (I use white whole wheat flour)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • ⅓ cup sugar free/organic honey
  • 1 ripe banana
  • ¾ cup fresh citrus juice (I used lime)
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup chopped nuts (I used almonds)


Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Brush a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan with oil.
  • Toss cranberries in a bowl with ¼ cup of the flour.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together the remaining flour with the baking powder and salt.
  • In a medium bowl, lightly beat the eggs. Add banana and honey and whisk until smooth. Whisk in the citrus juice and vanilla.
  • Mix in nuts.
  • Pour the liquid mixture onto the dry mixture and use a spatula to combine. Don’t over mix – batter should remain lumpy.
  • Fold in the cranberries, including any flour remaining in the bowl.
  • Pour the batter into the prepared pan, smoothing the top with a spatula. Bake 1 hour, then check the bread by inserting a toothpick in its center. Cranberry bread is ready if the toothpick comes out dry.  Tip: if your bread is not be fully baked yet, although the edges are beginning to brown – to prevent the edges from burning, cover the bread loosely with foil and continue baking, about 15 more minutes, until the center is fully baked.
  • Transfer the bread to a wire rack and let cool.