Crazy About Kale

I know that the kale craze has been in full swing for a while now, but I must admit that I’m a relatively new convert to its virtues.   For the past several months I have been eating mostly vegetarian meals.  I’ve had three people very close to me diagnosed with various forms of cancer within the last year, so I’m really trying to up my healthy eating game.  Kale is high in vitamin K and iron, and overall has a great nutritional profile, so it’s a no brainer to add it to my diet.

 

Kale and Mushroom Sautee

Mushroom and Kale Saute

My massage therapist, Julie shared this super-easy and delicious recipe for Mushroom and Kale Saute.  It has only four ingredients: olive oil, red onion, mushrooms, and kale.  Rinse and chop the kale, then lightly coat it with a bit of olive oil and “massage” it.  Chop the red onion and slice the mushrooms.  Heat some olive oil in a skillet.  Add the onions and mushrooms.  If you like your kale on the softer side, add it with the onions and mushrooms.  If you prefer it a bit crunchier, add it for the last 2 or 3 minutes of cook time.  I served mine over quinoa.

 

Sweet Potato Kale Fried Rice

Caramelized Sweet Potato and Kale Fried Wild Rice 

I found this delightful recipe on Pinterest from Iowa Girl Eats.  She classifies it as a side dish, but this is also a perfect main dish for vegetarians.  I used Minute Rice’s Multi Grain Medley, which is a staple at my house.   Since I didn’t have pepitas (pumpkin seeds), I used chopped pecans instead.  This has become one of my new favorite dinner recipes!

 

kale-cucumber-and-pineapple-juice

Cucumber, Kale, & Pineapple Juice

Two months ago, I bought a juicer and many of the recipes I found on Pinterest had kale as an ingredient.  My favorite is super easy: juice one cucumber (peel it if you are not buying organic), 1 cup of pineapple chunks, and 2 cups of kale.  Even my hubby, who usually shuns my healthy juices, likes this one.

Do you have a favorite kale recipe?  If so, leave it for me in the comments!

 

Best Foods for Strong & Healthy Joints

Best Foods for Health Joints

Today’s post is by Katleen Brown.

Most people recognize exercise as a great way to strengthen the bones and joints. In addition to exercise, the food eaten by an individual also contributes to the general body strength right from the bones, joints and muscles. Exercise for strength can be useless if there is no consumption of power-giving foods. Therefore, as you work on strengthening your joints and bones, consider adding energy providing foods to your diet in addition to exercise. Below is a list of the best foods for strong bones and joints

1. Natural Organic Oils

Natural oils including coconut oil, olive oil, and almond oil are great for general body health. Coconut oil is excellent in reducing inflammation and pain, plus hydrating the body tissues hence keeping the skin ever moisturized.  It also works against fungi, bacteria, and viruses that can attack the joints and the bones. Olive oil contains omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants that are beneficial for joint and bone health. These oils can be eaten as a part of your daily diet, or applied topically to the skin.

2. Bananas

Whether the bananas are cooked or  raw, they yield the same nutrients to the body. They are rich in potassium, an essential substance for the joints and bones. Bananas are also rich in fiber which is good for digestion and keeps you feeling fuller for longer periods of time. Fiber helps prevents weight gain which in turn prevents joint pain as a result of excess weight. It is also a pure substance for overcoming cravings for unhealthy, sugary foods.

3. Onions

Surprisingly, onions play a significant role in strengthening the bones and joints. They contain sulfur which works against pain and inflammation hence right for joint relief  Also, it helps us to reduce the amount of salt that we put on our meal using its flavor. Ordinary table salt contains sodium which can cause arthritis and high blood pressure. Garlic and leeks also have a high Sulphur content. Therefore, consider adding more of them to your regular diet  to strengthen your bones and joints.

4. Pepper

Pepper is an American spice rack staple and most of us use it regularly with our meals. Did you know that pepper contains vitamin C, which is great for removing spots on the surface of the skin and well known for pain relief? It also contains vitamin K and A that play the role of the antioxidants for joint relief and shielding the bones against damage by bacteria. All these vitamins work together with the immune system to protect the body against diseases.

5. Ginger and Turmeric

Both ginger and turmeric have the anti-inflammatory properties. It makes both of them effective natural substances to work against arthritis. Arthritis is characterized by inflammation of the joints accompanied by pain. Turmeric is also known to shield the body from heart disease and cancer. Curcumin is the substance that gives the turmeric the yellow color and is the main healing agent. Ginger, on the other hand, can also prevent nausea and plus adds a bright flavor to your meals.

6. Green Vegetables

Kale, a flavorful and healthy leafy green, contains manganese and vitamin C which reduce joint pain and repair damaged bone tissues. The presence of copper in the kale makes it great for building collagen, the primary agent in cartilage and ligaments. Kale has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. These two properties are required for general bone and joint health. Vegetables are great for controlling weight gain; hence prevent arthritis due to excess weight. Spinach is also another green vegetable that is known for building strong bones.

7. Avocado and Papaya

These two fruits contain antioxidants that prevent the joints from damage. Papaya is rich in Vitamin A and C that possess antioxidant properties and reduce the risk of arthritis respectively. Avocado contains omega-3 fatty acids that protect the joints against inflammation and reduces joint pain. Also, it contains potassium compound that is great for the general health of the bones.

8. Milk and Dairy Products

Milk is a good source protein, calcium, and vitamin D. Drinking a glass of milk every day is a perfect way to build and maintain strong bones. Dairy products like yogurt are also great for the health of the bones. Therefore, taking them in moderate amounts can help you build your bone strength and avoid arthritis at the same time.

Conclusion

Whenever you think about healthy bones and pain-free joints, exercise and energy giving foods should be top of mind. Consuming food with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties is the best for joint relief. Additionally, food rich in vitamins, potassium, manganese and calcium is great for stronger bones. Healthy food alongside exercise is perfect for strong, healthy bones and joint pain relief. They are also great for controlling weight gain.

 

About the Author

Katleen Brown

Katleen Brown is a health, beauty and fitness writer. She loves to publish her articles on various health related websites. In her spare time, likes to do research to bring awareness. Recognizing the unity of body, mind, and outlook, she helps empower women to tune into their innate & inner wisdom to transform their health and truly flourish. 

 

 

Meal Planning Monday ~ From the Garden

 

This week’s post is by Sheri Ann Richerson of The Experimental Homesteader.

Growing a garden is a great way to save on your grocery bill and eat the freshest produce possible. The fresher the produce is, the more nutrients it contains thus the healthier it is for you. Fresh produce from the grocery store – at best – is several days old. Farmer’s markets are a good source of fresh produce if you can’t grow your own, but sometimes even that produce was picked a day or two before market day.

Growing a garden is simple if you start right and that means starting with the soil. Healthy soil is essential to growing good produce full of nutrients. It doesn’t matter if you grow your produce in containers, in the ground or in raised beds.  Start with buying organic soil meant to grow vegetables in or enrich the soil in your garden with three inches of compost before you plant.

Set up a rain barrel or hose in the area you are growing your produce in. Plants typically need an inch of water a week to thrive but this does vary according to the plant and weather conditions. For those who have never grown a garden before, start simple. A single tomato plant, a few radishes and some lettuce are all you need to grow a simple salad garden – and you can do this in a container. Other easy-to-grow crops include green beans, cabbage, green onions and most salad greens.

Monday ~ Two Pea Sauté with Basil, Parmesan And Sesame

I like this recipe because it allows me to use smaller amounts of snap and snow peas. Often early in the season my plants simply don’t produce enough of the two combined to make a side dish. This dish is a great way to use some of the extra basil you’ve harvested. The sesame seeds add an unexpected crunch that is delightful – and you can grow sesame in your garden. I like to pair this recipe with pork chops.

Tuesday ~ Spicy Flat Italian Beans

My mouth is watering just looking at this recipe. It is that good.  I often visit a Farmer’s Market in a nearby city because I have the opportunity to buy grass fed, non-GMO meat. The man I like to buy my meat from was selling these beans. I had never seen them before and struck up a conversation with him. He explained to me these were a great substitute for green beans and cooked up in about 10 minutes. I was sold and bought some. I came up with this recipe because I like spicy food.  Try it paired with beef or alter a  stir-fry recipe to use the beans in.

Wednesday ~ Cooking Kale & Swiss Chard

I hear it a lot – what do you do with kale or Swiss Chard. You can eat it raw in a salad. You can cook it a lot of different ways but some recipes are just bland. After numerous attempts at cooking both kale and Swiss Chard, I finally came up with this recipe – and I love it. Both of these vegetables are really good for you and while some people disagree with cooking either kale or Swiss Chard, this is my go-to recipe.

Thursday ~ Fresh Garden Salad with Herbs & Flowers

Salad is plentiful during the summer months. With a bit of protection, lettuce and a number of other greens will grow year-round even in my Indiana garden (USDA hardiness zone 5/6). During the spring, summer and fall there are so many ways to add flavor and color to a salad. Edible flowers such as dandelions, violas and rose petals add so much color not to mention vitamins and other essential nutrients. Toss in some herbs such as dill weed or basil and the taste really pops. Of course don’t forget standby favorites such as fresh fruit, nuts, meats and cheese. In fact, once your salad is made you might even realize you don’t need as much salad dressing because you would rather enjoy the taste of the salad.

Friday ~ Easy Coleslaw from the Garden

Coleslaw and fried chicken are the perfect summer meal. Nothing compares to the taste of homemade coleslaw. It is worth the effort of growing the produce and making the slaw even though the process is kind of messy. Watch out for those little white butterflies in your garden if you grow cabbage and if you start seeing holes in it, simply sprinkle some food grade diatomaceous earth on top of your cabbage. That will solve the problem.

Saturday ~ Grilled Bacon Wrapped Corn with Lime and Dill

Wrapping bacon around corn-on-the-cob might seem odd but it gives the corn a wonderful taste and keeps it moist. Be sure to prepare the lime and dill butter in advance. In fact you can make the butter and freeze it to save time. Then all you have to do is put pats of frozen butter on the corn before wrapping it in bacon. I have found that using thick sliced bacon produces better results than the thin bacon you normally see in the stores but either will work.

Sunday ~ Baked Maple Bacon Green Beans

I love this recipe. It might not be the healthiest, but once in a while that is ok. This is a great recipe to take to family reunions or church pot luck dinners, but be prepared to be asked for the recipe. You might even find people like it so much that you are asked to make this recipe every time there is a get-together. Fresh green beans, thick sliced bacon and real maple syrup are the keys to making this recipe taste great.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound of fresh green beans
  • 1 stick of butter
  • 4 to 6 Tablespoons maple syrup
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Bacon

 

Directions:

Begin by rinsing the fresh green beans off under cold running water. This is necessary to do because sometimes faded green bean flowers, dirt or bugs are stuck to the outside of the bean.  Once the green beans are clean, snap off both ends. Some people prefer not to do this, but I like to. The decision is yours. Just make sure no stems remain on the beans.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

The next step is to gather five to eight green beans into a bunch.  Wrap the bacon around the green bean bundle one time making sure to slightly overlap the bacon ends.  I used kitchen shears to cut the bacon at this point. I was able to wrap three bundles of green beans using one slice of bacon.

Lay the bacon bundles in a baking pan that has edges with the bacon ends facing the bottom of the pan.  If you wish, you can lay extra slices or chunks of bacon over the top of the green bean bundles at this point.

Melt one stick of butter – or if you are using homemade butter, melt 1/2 cup of butter. Be sure to measure it un-melted.  Pour the melted butter over the top of the green bean bundles.  Drizzle maple syrup over the top of the green beans. The maple syrup does sweeten the green beans and next time I am going to try this recipe without using the maple syrup.  Sprinkle salt, pepper or your other preferred seasonings on top of the green bean bundles.

Place the green bean bundles into the pre-heated oven. Do not put a lid or foil over them.  Cook for 30 minutes.  Turn the oven up to 400 degrees F and cook for 10 to 15 minutes longer. This will crisp the bacon and make it delicious.

Sheri  Ann Richerson is a leading pioneer in the self-sufficiency movement.  For the past 19 years she has been living, teaching, and promoting  organic gardening, natural health and self-sufficiency through all forms  of media. Her bestselling books include “The Complete Idiot’s Guide To  Year-Round Gardening,” “The Complete Idiot’s Guide To Seed Saving &  Starting” and “101 Self-Sufficiency Gardening Tips.”

For more information, please visit her writing website at SheriAnnRicherson.com, her gardening and homesteading website at experimentalhomesteader.com or subscribe to the Experimental Homesteader podcasts on iTunes.