The Truth About Potatoes

I hear people say, “Potatoes are bad for you! Pototes have sugar! Don’t eat potatoes!” Potatoes are getting a bad reputation. You want the truth? Do you think you can handle the truth?

Yes, if  smothered in cheese, mixed up with mayo, doused in sour cream or deep-fried, potatoes are bad for you – – but when in natural form the potato truly shines. In its purest, most potato-y form, it actually packs some very real health perks. Let your potato be a potato! 

Here’s why:

  • They’re loaded with potassium.
  • Potatoes are packed with fiber.
  • They’ve got a hearty dose of vitamin C.
  • Potatoes are a good source of manganese. (Helps in processing protein, carbs and cholesterol)
  • They’re rich in vitamin B6.

But what about the sugar? 

Potatoes are a starchy type of vegetable, meaning they are full of starch carbohydrates. After a long digestive process, starches eventually convert into glucose. Potatoes also have a small amount of naturally occurring sugar, which converts to glucose in a different manner. Meaning, it won’t go directly into your system like eating candy (processed sugars) – don’t make the mistake in thinking that all sugars are bad for you. There are healthy sugars! Your system uses glucose to fuel every cell, so having a lot of carbohydrates in your diet is important. 

Concerned about counting carbs and calories?

Your diet should consist of 45 to 65 percent carbohydrates, reports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Both sugar and starch have 4 calories per gram, so if you follow an average 2,000-calorie diet, you’ll need 225 to 325 grams of carbohydrates per day. A 4-ounce potato has nearly 25 grams of total carbohydrates. The exact amount you need depends on your activity level. If you have a physically demanding job or work out on a regular basis, you probably need the higher end of the recommendation, versus someone who is relatively sedentary and needs less.

Power to the potato!  Try eating your spuds in a new way – enjoy these ideas:

  • Mash or purée potatoes: Mash or purée cooked potatoes with a little almond milk, some grated fresh ginger and roasted garlic. Serve with roasted meats or fish, or use as a topping for shepherd’s pie.
  • Roast them! Cut potatoes into thick wedges. Brush with a little olive oil, and bake until cooked through and browned. 
  • Stir-fry diced potatoes in a coconut oil until lightly browned. Add large pinches of cumin and paprika, and some fresh cilantro. Stir until cooked through. 
  • Make potato salad! Mix cooked potatoes with olive oil, white wine vinegar, dried oregano and Dijon mustard.
  • Make breakfast:  Add diced cooked potatoes—with skin on—to omelettes, frittatas and crustless quiches.
  • Top mixed greens with chopped cucumber and tomato. Add diced cooked potatoes, green beans and hard-boiled eggs. Drizzle with an oil and vinegar salad dressing (mix with crunchy peanut butter and a little soy sauce for a Thai taste.)
  • Added texture: Toss cubes of potato into your next curry, chili, soup, stew, risotto, mac & cheese, or casserole. Maybe you fancy a clam chowder
  • Mix with other root veggies: purée cooked potatoes with about the same amount of cooked parsnip or fennel. Stir in a clove of minced garlic and a little thyme. Tastes great with broiled salmon or chicken.
  • Make soup! Who doesn’t love potato soup? Check out my recipe here

So whether it’s one potato, two potato, three potato or more – enjoy! Let me know how you like your spuds.

In health and happiness,

Johanna



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Roasted Roots

I believe in eating what’s in season in order to give my body the vitamins it needs during each part of the year and to keep grocery costs low. This works out nicely, since during the summer I crave light, crisp fruits and vegetables, and in the winter months I often crave a warm, hearty meal containing root vegetables. 

 Putting root vegetables into your favourite winter soup or chicken pot pie lets you take full advantage of an excellent source of beta-carotene. The body converts this antioxidant into vitamin A, which is important for vision and bone growth. It also helps to regulate the body’s immune system. All root vegetables contain healthful fiber and slow-digesting carbohydrates, which break down into sugar in your body to give you energy and the ability to function properly. 

 This winter I have tried to fill the fridge and pantry with as many root vegetables as I have room for because they are in season, taste delicious, and keep very well if I don’t eat them right away. Some root vegetables will keep for months if stored properly. These (usually) very inexpensive vegetables have tremendous health benefits because they grow underneath the ground, allowing them to absorb many nutrients and minerals available in the soil. 

My cold winter bones are warmed with thoughts of all the delicious ways root vegetables can be prepared. They can be delicious roasted, grilled, or braised. They can be made into soups, gratins, hash browns, fries, or root vegetable chips. (I feel some more cooking projects coming on!) 

 To keep me stocked and eating clean this cold season, I joined a local farm share. I want to support local agriculture, eat healthy seasonal food, and challenge myself to try new recipes. In my first farm share I got sweet potatoes, white potatoes, acorn squash, red onion, carrots and garlic. As soon as I received my bounty I knew I was going to make a warm winter root veggie soup! 

 How do you incorporate root vegetables into your winter diet and what are your favorite ways to prepare them?

 Here’s my recipe for winter root vegetable bisque. 

 Enjoy! 

 In health,

Johanna

Ingredients

2 cups diced acorn squash

3 cups diced carrots

2 cups diced sweet potatoes

2 cups diced white potato

4 teaspoons olive oil

2 red onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, chopped

2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves

1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary

2 teaspoons curry powder (optional)

salt

pepper

8-10 cups vegetable stock, depending on how thick you want the soup to be

Instructions

Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Spread root vegetables evenly into a roasting pan. Drizzle with olive oil and season with garlic, herbs, salt and pepper. Place pan in the oven and roast for about 45 minutes minutes, flipping once.

Add the 4 cups of vegetable stock to the roasted vegetable medley. Continue to roast go an additional 20-30 minutes until vegetables are tender. Once ready – take out of oven. Turn off the heat and let cool. Then, using an immersion blender, blend the soup to desired consistency. You can also blend the soup in batches in a blender or food processor. Add the soup to a pot and heat when ready to serve. (Add additional vegetable stock to obtain desired texture)   

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Ch-Ch-Ch Chia!

Did you know chia seed are among the healthiest foods on the planet! They are loaded with nutrients that benefit both your brain and your body. Don’t be fooled by their tiny size, there itsy bitsy black seeds pack a nutritional punch. We are talking about fiber, antioxidants, healthy fat, calcium, magnesium, zinc, potassium, vitamin B 1, 2, & 3! To top things off, chia seeds are a “whole grain” food, are usually grown organically, are non-GMO and naturally free of gluten.

Chia seeds are a high quality protein source, and in case you didn’t know, protein has all sorts of benefits for health. A high protein intake reduces appetite and has been shown to reduce obsessive thoughts about food by 60% and the desire for night time snacking by 50%. Why? Because the protein keeps you feeling fuller longer.

Chia seeds are incredibly easy to incorporate into your diet. The seeds themselves taste rather bland, so you can add them to pretty much anything.

They also don’t need to be ground like flax seeds, which makes them much easier to prepare. They can be eaten raw, soaked in juice, added to porridges and puddings, or incorporated into baked goods.

You can sprinkle them on top of cereal, yogurt, vegetables or rice dishes.

Because of their ability to absorb both water and fat, they can be used to thicken sauces and even used as egg substitutes in recipes. Just mix with water and turned into a gel which binds and thickens.

Adding chia seeds to recipes will dramatically boost the nutritional value of any meal or snack.

Here’s a recipe I tried for “Banana Chia Pudding” – light and perfectly sweet, healthy treat, that is dairy-free, low-carb and no sugar added.

Enjoy!
Johanna

Banana Chia Pudding
The possibilities for ingredients are really endless, but this one has just three:

banana
almond coconut milk
chia seeds

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1 ripe banana
1/4 cup almond coconut milk
2 Tablespoons chia seeds
*Dash of cinnamon, cardamom, natural honey optional

Banana Chia Pudding Directions

In a food processor or blender, combine the banana and almond coconut milk.

Process until smooth.

Throw in the chia seeds and pulse a few times to mix evenly.

Pour into a container and chill for an hour to let the chia seeds plump up a bit.

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Flourless Flapjacks

It’s no secret that breakfast is my favorite meal of the day and when I find a healthy breakfast recipe, I just have to try it!

I saw a post of facebook for flourless pancakes using only banana and eggs. Simple, easy, (and having eggs and bananas handy) I decided to give it a go.

The recipe was a success, my husband and I enjoyed a healthy breakfast and I even got the thumbs up from him to make again. 🙂

But before I give you the recipe, let me tell you a little about why you need to make these, not only because they are simple and easy, but because they will benefit your body.

Banana’s and eggs are known for improving your mood and preventing anemia by increasing the production of hemoglobin in the blood. They give you brain power and lower risk of heart disease. Banana’s and eggs are each a natural remedy for many health issues. So, maybe its time to change your well-known Bisquick breakfast and grab a banana and egg.

Flourless Pancake

Ingredients
1 mashed, super ripe banana
2 eggs

Instructions

Mash banana with a potato masher. Add eggs. Mix eggs & banana together. Heat frying pan with coconut oil or margarine [on low-medium heat ]. Add a silver dollar-sized amount to the pan. Let the cake set for thirty seconds [ or when the center bubbles ] & flip it! Enjoy with berries & a bit of syrup.

Option: if you’re pressed for time use a blender to mix your ingredients.

For my flapjacks I dropped in a few berries … delicious!

Enjoy!

In health,
Johanna

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Onions: Beauty or Beast?

Onions may be stinky, but don’t let their pungent odour keep you away – the beauty benefits are totally worth it!

Almost everyone knows that onions are very important for health. This veggie is a daily must have, which helps you stay clear of many infections and diseases. Especially during cold and flu season, if you are sick or feel something coming on, onions are a quick heal medicine.

What you might not know is that while onions are loaded with many nutrients to keep illness away, they will also literally make you glow due to their detoxification properties. Did you know that this stinky little veggie can provide you with healthy and glowing skin? Thanks to the presence of rich amounts of antioxidant vitamins A, C and E onions can provide numerous benefits to your skin. Specifically, vitamin C is needed for the building and maintenance of collagen, which provides structure to skin and hair. Talk about going from stink bomb to sex bomb!

Aside from it’s beautifying benefits, onions can help you get your beauty sleep and improve your mood. Folate, found in onions, may help with depression by preventing an excess of homocysteine from forming in the body, which can prevent blood and other nutrients from reaching the brain. Excess homocysteine interferes with the production of the feel-good hormones serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine, which regulate not only mood, but also sleep and appetite as well.

With all good things, there comes a price, I remember Mom telling me “it hurts to be beautiful”, so here it is…the onion’s revenge; the smell of onions can be a problem, both on the hands and on the breath. After chopping onions, try rinsing the hands with cold water, rubbing them with salt, rinsing again and then washing with soap and warm water. To remove the smell from breath, eat a few sprigs of parsley or an apple to help conceal the odour.

Additionally, we don’t want puff eyes from tears … before cutting your onion, try chilling it for half an hour or so before cutting to reduce the activity of the tear producing enzyme.

As Julia Child once remarked “I cannot imagine a world without onions.” Chop onions into salads, cook them with vegetables, fish and meats, and find as many ways to eat them as possible.

Whatever has kept onions out of the spotlight while lesser fruits and vegetables are lauded, needs to change. The humble onion, with its tear-promoting stinky pungency, is without question one of the healthiest things you can put in your body. Eat onions, and live better.

A friend recently invited me over for a night of chit-chat, nail painting, and French Onion Soup. The evening was food for my soul in many ways. Here’s my friend Erin’s recipe for onion soup — I suggest you make it and share it, nourish friendship with good times and good food!

Thanks for the recipe Erin!

Erin’s Onion Soup

Ingredients
Bag of onions
2tsp margarine
1 1/4 cup of wine of red wine
2 boxes of stock (1 32oz box of beef and 1 32oz box of vegetable)
1 beef bouillon cube
2 cups hot water
Cracked pepper

Directions

1) Peel and dice one bag onion

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2) Place in pot with 2 tsp of butter/marg and sauté until onions are clear.
(Erin recommends adding about ¼ of red wine or Sherry to it as well)

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Once onions are clear add:
1 cup red wine/sherry
2 32. Oz of sodium free beef stock. ( you can add one beef and one veggie as well)
1 beef bouillon
2 cups hot water
Fresh cracked pepper to taste

Simmer for half hour.

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Enjoy! I made a big batch for me and hubby to take to work for lunches. “Souper” easy!

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In health,
Johanna

Homemade Spinach Ravioli

You know the famous theme song “I’m strong to the finish, ’cause I eats me Spinach, I’m Popeye the sailor man! (toot, toot)” – Popeye (from theme song)

Popeye was right – not only does spinach make your muscles more efficient it also makes them stronger too. Research has discovered that the nitrates found in the vegetable boost the production of the proteins in the muscles, making them stronger and more efficient.

There is talk about the benefits of spinach nourishing the eyes and building bones. But what few know is that it is also very good for digestion. Spinach eases constipation and protects the mucus lining of the stomach, so that you stay free of ulcers… plus it flushes out toxins from the colon.

Did you know cooking spinach actually increases its health benefits? Just half a cup of cooked spinach will give you thrice as much nutrition as one cup of raw spinach. That’s because the body cannot completely break down the nutrients in raw spinach for its use.

Here’s a great homemade spinach ravioli recipe that even Popeye would approve. “A-gah-gah-gah-gah-gah-gah!” (Popeye’s laugh) 🙂

Homemade Spinach Ravioli

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Ingredients
1 cup ricotta or cottage cheese
1/2 cup cooked spinach, finely chopped and squeezed dried
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 small lemon, zested and juiced
Salt and pepper
40 square wonton wrappers
4 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 teaspoons capers, rinsed and chopped
1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley

Directions
In a bowl, combine the ricotta/cottage cheese, spinach, shallot, egg and lemon zest. Season with salt and pepper.

Line a baking sheet with parchment or wax paper. Arrange 10 wonton wrappers on a clean work surface. Top each with a rounded tsp. of filling.

Moisten the edges with water and, working with 1 at a time, fold in half to form triangles; press down around the filling to seal. Transfer the ravioli to the prepared baking sheet in a single layer. Repeat with the remaining wrappers.

In a large pot of boiling, salted water, drop in the ravioli in 2 batches, letting the water return to a boil between batches. Cook until the ravioli bob to the surface, about 3 minutes per batch; strain.

In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium heat, swirling, until it browns and smells nutty, about 5 minutes. Turn off the heat immediately. Stir in the lemon juice, capers, and half of the parsley; season.

Divide the ravioli among 4 plates, drizzle with the butter sauce and top with the remaining parsley.

* for a healthier sauce option use marinara sauce in place of the lemon caper butter or you personal favorite sauce.

Enjoy!

In health,
Johanna

Go Banana’s!

Banana’s are one of the most widely consumed fruits in the world for good reason! This funny looking yellow fruit is packed with nutrition. The health benefits of consuming bananas include lowering risks of cancer and asthma, lowering blood pressure, improving heart health and promoting digestive regularity.

Bananas are available year-round unlike other fruits. What’s great is that like apple sauce, ripe mashed bananas can be used in baked goods to replace oil or butter. Mashed bananas give baked items a moist, naturally sweet flavor. For a quick banana tip, when I have bananas that aren’t looking their freshest, but I don’t have time to bake, I throw my bananas in the freezer to use for future baking or smoothies.

After a fun day picking fruit in the orchard, I was anxious to use my juicy nectarines and what better way than to pair nectarines with my frozen bananas to whip up muffins to be used for grab & go breakfast during the work week. Seriously delicious and nutritious. Your kitchen will smell AMAZING and you’ll feel prepared for the week with a healthy snack.

….it’s okay, you’re welcome 🙂

Oatmeal Banana-Nectarine Muffins

1¼ cup flour (I use Bob’s Red Mill GF flour)
¾ cup old fashioned oats
1 teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup all natural maple syrup
¾ cup vegetable oil
2 bananas, mashed (defrosted if previously frozen)
1 pound nectarines chopped
1/2 cup raisins (optional)
½ teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350° F.

Combine maple syrup, vegetable oil and mashed bananas together in a large bowl.

Add the flour, oats, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nectarine pieces and gently fold together until just mixed.

Pour into muffin tin (greased or into muffin wrappers)

Bake for 25-30 minutes.

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Chowdahead for Weight-loss

If you love New England, chances are you are a Chowdahead dreaming of clams, aromatic vegetables and creamy potatoes! But here’s a fun tip: clam chowder, long popular in the Northeast, is one of many soup choices dieters have to choose from.

When it comes to losing weight, one of the oldest tricks in the book is to replace a full lunch or dinner meal with a simple soup or salad. These low-calorie dishes offer a quick and easy way to cut calories from your daily diet.

As with most soups, clam chowder is impressively low in calories. A single, one-cup serving of clam chowder will generally contain between 130 and 170 calories. Keeping your calorie count low will help you maintain a balanced diet, especially when you are enjoying bigger meals at other times of the day. This is easily the most obvious benefit of adding soups like clam chowder to your menu.

While the sodium content of the average bowl of clam chowder may be high, there is one clam chowder nutrition fact that stands out even higher that does not pose a risk to your health. Clam chowder is also incredibly high in vitamin B12, each serving containing over 200 percent your daily-recommended intake. Vitamin B12, like other B vitamins, is essential to the human nervous system, while also working to stabilize the heart, counteracting some of the negatives of high sodium. Aside from having excellent levels of Vitamin B12, clam chowder is also very high in a wide variety of other vitamins and minerals. The sheer concentration of these nutrients makes every calorie of this soup valuable, especially when made at home rather than purchased in a restaurant or in a store. Among the highest nutrients offered are potassium, calcium, and iron. In addition, this soup is also an excellent source of vitamin D and protein.

Because of the cream, chowder has a reputation for adding a little to your waist line, but have no fear and don’t believe everything you hear! Chowder is a healthy dish and because the calorie intake of this soup is packed with such a wide variety of nutrients, it’s worth every spoonful! Try my recipe for homemade “Chowda” and you’ll feel fueled and filled through much of the day. Keep these simple clam chowder nutrition facts in mind, and you’ll be well on your way to your target weight.

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New England Clam Chowder

INGREDIENTS
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 tbs garlic paste
1 medium onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme, or 1 teaspoon dried
1 medium red potato, diced (leave peel on)
1 8-ounce bottle clam juice
3 cups low-fat milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
12 ounces fresh chopped clams or 3 6-ounce cans chopped baby clams
2 scallions, thinly sliced

PREPARATION
1. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, celery and thyme to the pan; cook, stirring, until beginning to soften, about 2 minutes.

2. Add potato, clam juice and bay leaf. Bring to a simmer, cover and cook until the vegetables are just tender, 8 to 10 minutes.

3. Whisk milk, cream, flour and salt in a medium bowl. Add to the pan and return to a simmer, stirring, over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring, until thickened, about 2 minutes.

4. Add clams and cook, stirring occasionally, until the clams are just cooked through, about 3 minutes more.

P.s. To serve, top each serving with a hefty portion of fresh cracked pepper and some scallions.

Enjoy!

In health,
Johanna

Protein Salad

Why is protein important?

Protein is an essential nutrient which helps form the structural component of body tissues and is used to make enzymes, antibodies to help us fight infection as well as DNA (the building blocks to life). It’s needed to make up muscle tissue which in turn helps to keep our bodies active, strong, and healthy.

Most protein is stored in the body as muscle, generally accounting for around 40-45% of our body’s total pool, so it makes sense that if you increase activity, perhaps to improve health and fitness or body composition, you also need to consider protein as an important food group in your diet.

Protein is found in dairy, meat, eggs, fish, beans and nuts. A sensible approach to meeting your daily protein requirements is to include a combination of these foods within your diet every day. Check out this great summer salad to satisfy your protein needs.

Tip: great for lunches or eating on the go when packet into individual containers. Maybe take with you on your next picnic or beach trip. 🙂

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Layered Protein Salad
Serves 4
1can (15oz) black beans, drained & rinsed
1can (15oz) garbanzo beans, drained & rinsed
1cup cooked (cold) corn kernels
1cup cooked brown rice (cold)
1pint grape tomatoes, sliced in half lengthwise
1 avocado, cubed
1cup salad dressing of choice
1cup sprouts

Directions
Combine beans, corn and rice in a medium bowl. Toss with dressing.
Place bean, corn rice mixture in the bottom of a large glass bowl or individual containers. Add tomatoes, avocado to top. Garnish with sprouts.

Enjoy!

In health,
Johanna