This series is featured by Erin Denise Esthetician at http://erindenise.com/blog/. Your best skin is a combination of what you eat and your skin care regimen. Follow the link for a free skin care consultation and individualized skin care plan focused on natural skin rejuvenation!
Hi everyone! I hope your first weeks of eating by color included some tasty dark purple foods. This week, we are going to take a look at those dark red foods our bodies will thank us for eating.
The health-promoting compounds that give dark red foods their color include anthocyanins and lycopene. Lycopene is a carotenoid phytonutrient and like anthocyanins, it functions as an antioxidant in the body. Lycopene has recieved attention for its cancer-fighting properties, particularly in the case of prostate cancer. That said, the underlying mechanisms of these processes are still largely unknown.
Research on lycopene and other key nutrients confirm what Greek physician, Hippocrates, said over 2300 years ago, "let food by thy medicine and medicine be thy food." Dark colored fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and plant oils, consumed over the course of our lifetime, function as medicine to suppress the emergence of all diseases. This is not to say all diseases can be treated with diet and lifestyle alone, but consumption of the proper foods will give our bodies the best chance to overcome environmental factors and genetic predispositions.
In addtion to anthocyanins and lycopene, dark red foods contain varying concentrations of fiber, vitamins C and A, potassium and folate, and more. Vitamins C and A are common in the skin care products we use and that is because scientists are singling them out for their roles in collagen formation. Here are some of the dark red foods we should treat our ourselves to:
Cherries Red bell pepper
Ruby red grapefruit Cranberries
Watermelon Red apple
You'll notice that seven of the eleven foods singled out here are fruits. As we touched on previously, try to eat fresh fruit in the morning. When you wake up, your body has been fasting for several hours and will benefit from a pop of fresh fruit. Don't worry about sugar when you are eating whole foods. Fruits, in their whole food forms, are loaded with fiber which slows the metabolic process and reduces the glycemic load of the food. That means the fiber delays the entry of sugar into the bloodstream, leading to a gradual increase in blood sugar as opposed to a sharp spike. *If you are diabetic, consult your physician and monitor your blood sugar based on their recommendations and your tried and true methods.
Having said that, enjoy the natural sweetness of these foods as dessert. Of-course we get to enjoy dessert when eating by color! The dessert possibilities are endless when we're talking about foods like strawberries and cherries. For the sake of this post though, lets talk about dessert with watermelon. Watermelon, even though its almost 92% water, is loaded with health promoting nutrients including but not limited to: lycopene, vitamin C, pantothenic acid, copper, vitamin A, potassium, biotin, magnesium,vitamin B6 and vitamin B1. Yes, watermelon is nutrient powerhouse, that hydrates and has very few calories.
The juicy texture of watermelon lends itself perfectly to granita, popsicles or sorbet. If you've said you don't have time to eat healthy, I'm about to make you look really silly. Sorry! If you live in a hot climate, you should have popsicle molds. You can find these all over at places like Target, World Market, etc. Simply cut up the melon (preferably seedless) into chunks, blend or whirl in your food processor, fill your popsicle molds and place in the freezer. Done.
Granita is just as easy, but instead of pouring your blended melon into popsicle molds, add some fresh squeezed lime juice and pour into a 9 x 13" baking dish and freeze. When frozen, remove from the freezer and scrape with a fork. It ends up looking and tasting like a slushy, which kids will love as much as adults. Here's the step by step how-to from "The Pioneer Woman Cooks." http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/2011/07/watermelon-granita/ .
Next, let's talk about beets. Beets could have been included in last weeks dark purple foods post, but since they come in many colors I've included them here. It's probably more likely that I forgot to include beets because I tend to avoid them. Borscht anyone? Borscht doesn't sound good to me most days and therefore, is just not a practical addition to my diet. (More power to you borscht lovers!!) But beets are a very important dark-colored food that I'd like to encourage you (and me) to consume more of.
So why, with so many health promoting nutrients, do I avoid beets? On my less motivated days they seem like a big project. They've got soil all over them, leave a bloody mess on my counter tops and what to do with those greens! For these reasons, beets are not a regular food for me, but I try to eat a few times a month. We all have those foods we simple enjoy more and that is to be expected. The goal of Eat by Color is not to incorporate every dark food we discuss, but to find those we love and eat them regularly, and challenge ourselves to experiment with those foods we've never tasted or have aversions to. Save the foods that challenge you for your most motivated days.
Having said that, I feel motivated already. Let's all try to eat beets this week! Now that you have your beets, start by removing the greens and scrubbing them. If you have a steamer, I recommend trimming the ends and tossing them whole into the steamer. This frees you up to do other things in the meanwhile. Prick the beets with a fork to see if they are soft after about 20 minutes and add time if they are not quite done. When soft all the way through, take them out from the steamer and let them cool. When cool enough to handle, peel them. You can accomplish the same result by roasting or boiling your beets. Whichever cooking method you chose, leave the skins on to minimize nutrient losses.
Your beets are cooked and ready to eat, so here are a few was to enjoy them. If you've used up all your time for cooking, simply chop, salt and pepper, and include them as the vegetable side for your main course, or add to any salad. For those over-achievers out there, this beet, carrot and pomegranate salad by foodiecrush can't be beet (beat I mean!). This salad combines two of our dark red foods, beets and pomegranate seeds, in addition to carrots, which will show up later when we talk about superior orange foods. This dish is real stunner for gatherings with friends and family. http://www.foodiecrush.com/2013/12/beet-carrot-and-pomegranate-salad/
At the very least, we can all throw a dark red apple into our purse before leaving the house every morning. Don't judge yourself if that is all you can do. Let every new action you take, however small or large, inspire and motivate you on your quest for optimal health.
Thanks for reading and I look forward to hearing what's working for you!