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It’s officially fig season! From June to September on the West Coast it’s a wonderful time to cop a wide variety of delicious figs. If you are among the relics still stuck on the Standard American Diet plan, you may think I’m talking about Fig Newtons. Nope. I’m talking about real, unprocessed figs as nature intended them. If you’ve never experienced them in raw form, get on it. There are so many varieties of figs to choose from. Some of the most popular are: black mission, adriatic, brown turkey mission, calimyrna, and kadota. Below’s ten great reasons why you should love figs, without the newton. -XoXo Raw Girl
- They are nutritional superstars. Like if a fig was a person, they would be famous.
- You can put figs in dishes that are savory or sweet, cooked or raw.
- Figs are fiber powerhouses and contain 16% of the RDA. The nice amount of fiber makes them useful for those who want to lose weight.
- They are an awesome source of Vitamin A & C.
- The combination of nutrients make this fruit a beauty superfood; if you have skin issues or want to improve your complexion figs are a great addition to your diet.
- Rich in minerals essential for health like calcium, iron, phosphorous, manganese, and potassium.
- People have been loving on figs since the dawn of time, circa Ancient Egyptian era.
- Consumption of figs can help to reduce cholesterol and reduce risk of prostate, breast, and colon cancer. Fig leaves and seeds are said to be useful in curing diabetes and eating figs can control blood pressure.
- Because of the fiber content can act as a mild laxative (especially when eaten in dried form) and treat chronic constipation.
- Eating figs can reduce fatigue, improve memory, and prevent anemia.
On my weekly farmers market visit, I’ve fallen in love with my sprout guy, or rather his product, because he has around fifteen varieties of sprouts to choose from. Just in case you didn’t know, eating sprouts is wonderful for your health, and offers a nice veggie source of protein. Each week I’ve been experimenting with different varieties to add to salads and wraps for additional nutrition. Although you can grown them easily yourself, if you’re anything like me running from one engagement to the next only to discover your budding sprouts have been neglected, having a sprout guy is so much better. Last week I was drawn to try fenugreek sprouts because of their long list of health benefits and extensive nutritional profile. If you are a sprout-pro, by all means grow them yourself: around 4 Tablespoons of fenugreek seed can be soaked for six hours, and will take three to five days to grow.
Fenugreek is a very aromatic seed, considered a sister herb to garlic, and one of the oldest medicinal herbs on the planet cultivated in Asia and the Middle East. Fenugreek in all forms is an important part of Indian cuisine and Ayurvedic traditional medicine. The seeds are generally used as a spice, the dried or fresh leaves as herbs, or the sprouts as vegetables. In addition to protein, calcium, vitamin C, iron, magnesium, phosphorous, and potassium, fenugreek also has a nice amount of B vitamins which are essential for maintaing peak energy and keeping the metabolic process running smoothly.
The list of health benefits from consuming fenugreek are wide an varied. Fenugreek naturally lowers cholesterol and promotes heart health, is a rich source of antioxidants which helps with beauty and anti-aging, can boost weight loss thanks to being 75% comprised of soluble fiber, improve digestion, beautify the skin and hair with nutrients that can ward off dandruff and increase hair growth, and get this ladies can help regulate menstrual cycles and symptoms that plague women during PMS and menopause. Although fenugreek is not recommended for pregnant women, it is beneficial for mothers who are nursing because it stimulates the production of milk. Add to all of these wonderful benefits the fact that fenugreek is a well known aphrodisiac which can boost libido and sexual performance, and you’ve got one pretty hot sprout! The sprouts are slightly bitter and do taste best when you mix them with another variety. Hope you will give this little known sprout some love. I’ve never found fenugreek in a grocery store, but it may be possible. You can also order the seeds and grow them yourself, or find your own personal farmer’s market sprout guy. -XoXo Raw Girl
If you need a nice way to bulk up meals and are transitioning to veggie livin’, you may be trying everything from tofu to soy meat products to fill the void. Eggplant is a wonderful, whole food option that is low in calories and high in fiber and makes a great meat substitute without the added chemicals and preservatives in faux meat.
Eggplants belong to the nightshade vegetable family which also includes tomatoes and potatoes, and grow on vines. They are most comprised of carbs which are essential for optimal body functioning and energy, but one cup will only run you somewhere around thirty calories and two grams of fat.
If you are looking to lose weight, obviously consuming eggplant will assist you in cutting back on the wrong kinds of calories and getting a filling nutrient dense food with little to no fat. They contain very little protein so you would want to ensure to include them into a diet that includes other protein rich foods to find balance. Besides a good amount of fiber, eggplant contains manganese, potassium, magnesium, vitamin C, and smaller amount of B3 and B6, niacin, and folate. The added bonuses are omega-3 and omega-6, also known as the essential fatty acids, and phytonutrients and antioxidants which support proper brain functioning, prevent free radical damage, and have anti-cancer properties. If that all sounds groovy to you, thankfully there are many ways to skin an eggplant.
If you want to try them raw, eggplant bacon is a fun and easy to make with the use of a dehydrator. If you are more of a cooked foodie try adding eggplant into veggie stir fry dishes, or baking them. The only word of caution that comes with this veggie is that it has high levels of oxalates, which can crystallize and cause health problems. For the general health individual, this isn’t a problem, but if you have pre-existing kidney or gallbladder problems you should avoid eating them. -XoXo Raw Girl
Collard greens are dark leafy veggies that are related to kale, broccoli, and cabbage. In fact collards, are actually the descendants of wild cabbage. Most of us may know and love collards as a side dish (that sometimes is cooked to death), and accompanies a larger meal. Although these greens tend to be rough you can cut them finely and steam sautee them easily or enjoy eating them raw with the right preparation in salads and or use them as a tortilla substitute for a wrap filled with veggies. If you grow them or if you can buy baby collards, they tend to be less bitter and really easy to add into salads like any other green. Collard greens are an excellent source of vitamin C, K, A, beta-carotene, manganese, folate, calcium, magnesium, iron, and fiber. Individuals who have pre-existing or untreated kidney or gall bladder issues should avoid collards because of the measurable levels of oxalates. If oxalates become concentrated in bodily fluids, they can crystallize and cause a host of health issues. Below are a few brief reasons why adding some collard greens to your life every now and then is not a bad idea. Whether you steam them, wrap them up, or toss them into a salad, know that these super greens are a great way to boost your nutrition. -XoXo Raw Girl
- Consuming collards protects against cancer. Collard greens provide nutrients and support functioning of the bodies’ detox, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory system, all of which must become compromised for cancer to thrive in the body.
- Collards support weight loss, because like most greens they come with little to no calories and a nice serving of fiber to support digestion and proper elimination.
- These cruciferous veggies have also been show to have very powerful effects on heart related conditions and lowering cholesterol. THey contain niacin, a vitamin which is known to reduce cholesterol and prevent diabetes and heart disease.
- Collards also have anti-inflammatory benefits as they are an excellent source of vitamin K and a good source of omega-3 fatty acids (in the form of alpha-linolenic acid, or ALA), two important anti-inflammatory nutrients. Vitamin K acts as a direct regulator of our inflammatory response, and ALA is the building block for several of the body’s anti-inflammatory messaging molecules.
For a salad recipe using collards, check out this past post: Collard Green Salad w/ Grapefruit Vinaigrette
Kale is such a staple in my diet, that I often forget to sing its praises. A friend asked the other day, “So what’s the big deal with kale, anyway?” After going through the laundry list of health benefits and nutrients, and ending with the declaration that kale is one of the most nutrient dense leafy greens on the planet, I realized I needed to show kale some public love. Apparently I am not the only one. Have you seen all the t-shirts and stickers available on the web for you to express your infatuation with kale? I used to work as a fashion designer, it seems ages ago, and black was the staple color that you compared everything to. One season grey may be the new black, the next it was red. Well in the old paradigm food world, beef and animal products were the standards, leaving all of us hippie veggie lovers on the outskirts like the weird kids in class. But times are a changing! Just like those popular kids in high school who were really cool back in the day but are now overweight and boring, those who preach the gospel of animal protein are starting to look shabbier than all the lean, energized, and bright-eyed vegetable eaters. Yeah, we were once the weird kids in class, but now we’re totally hot and our sexiness is way more sustainable. As a part of this shift, kale is becoming what beef was, a staple. Although I sometimes still go through the checkout line and have to explain to the person ringing me up what Lacinato (also called Dino kale) or green kale is, more and more people are singing the gospel of kale because, frankly, it’s awesome. Below are a couple of reasons you may want to join the new cool kids and learn more about purple, green, and dino kale and how you can incorporate them into your diet. If your already on team kale, I salute you. -XoXo Raw Girl
Supports Weight Loss. Kale is incredible low in calories, high in fiber, and has zero fat. Unlike a slab of steak on your plate, eating kale isn’t going to add anything to your waistline. In fact the fiber and nutrients will promote better digestion and proper elimination, all while providing you with some essential nutrition.
Potent Anti-Inflmmatory Food. Kale is a power green leafy vegetable which solves a major issue that is plaguing the majority of people with chronic diseases or common skin issues: inflammation. Kale is an incredibly effective anti-inflammatory food and its omega-3 content adds to its anti-inflammatory properties. One cup of kale has 10% of the RDA of omega-3 fatty acids which is a key missing ingredient in standard modern diets leading to arthritis, autoimmune disorders, and other health problems.
Relieves Constipation. For those who have never incorporated kale into your diet, one of the first things you’ll notice is that kale will get waste moving out of the body and induce a bowel movement fairly quickly. Why is this great? Because most people are full of s&%$# thus leading to chronic health problems, skin issues, and other conditions that could have been solved by getting waste moved out of the colon.
Nutritional Powerhouse. Kale is an excellent source of nutrition including vitamins A, C, K, E, B1, B2, B3, calcium, beta-carotene, phosphorous, iron, copper, magnesium, omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, and the carotenoid lutein. This cruciferous veggie is one of the richest sources of lutein which has been proven by research to be effective in protecting the skin from UV rays. The vitamin A content promotes the repair and maintenance of the skin, maintains healthy vision, and protects against lung and oral cancers.
The A Word. You cannot claim to be devoted to living a healthy, disease-free, and youth maintaining lifestyle if you are not getting enough foods with antioxidants. Kale is full of antioxidants which protect against cancers, fights free radicals, and promote youthfulness.
Kale Takes the Prize for Iron & Calcium. The next time a meat-eater taunts you for loving on your veggies you may want to serve up these facts to make them consider spending a little more time in the produce isle. Kale is high in calcium, in fact, kale has more calcium per calorie than milk and helps to prevent bone loss, osteoporosis, and maintain a healthy metabolism. So much for those “got milk” ads! That’s why I always say “got chlorophyll?” In addition to this kale has more iron per calorie than beef! Although most people think of veggie lovers as being anemic, more and more meat eaters are becoming anemic and could probably use a little kale in their lives. Iron is important because it is necessary for cell growth, the formation of hemoglobin, transporting oxygen throughout the body, and more.
Are you in a juicing rut? You know you are if you are juicing the same thing day in and day out, and have not added any new interesting combinations to your arsenal. It’s always great to shake things up a bit and try a new veggie in your morning cup of greens, for the sake of your taste buds and also to ensure that you get well-rounded nutrition. Bell Peppers are great for achieving that natural glow because they are antioxidant rich and also high in natural silicon which beautifies hair, nails, and skin. They are also a good source of necessary nutrition for beauty including vitamin A, C, E, B vitamins, potassium, thiamine, manganese, copper, and zinc.
In addition to providing a superior source of vitamin C, even more so than oranges, bell peppers have anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties that can aid in healing and protect the body from illness. Juicing bell peppers gives you natural medicine that can assist in fighting cancer, lowering blood pressure, decreasing the advancement of heart conditions, alleviate gastrointestinal disorders, and help to heal respiratory issues and lung infections like asthma or emphysema. And like all power packed raw veggies, the phytochemicals in bell peppers decrease inflammation in the body, fight free radicals, and help to reduce the signs of aging.
Because of these wonderful aforementioned benefits, when crafting Raw Girl’s 7 Day Detox for Beauty, Weightloss, & Rejuvenation, I made sure to include a juice with bell peppers. If you need a spring beauty boost, more awesome juice recipes with power ingredients for beauty and skin are included along with a 7 Day schedule and shopping list. -XoXo Raw Girl
It is officially AVOCADO WEEK! If I had to profess my undying love to any particular fruit or veggie, it would be a hard call between avocados and coconuts. What is not to love about this amazing creamy fruit that can be combined with both sweet and more bitter meals. Plus I can make yogurt or pudding with it, smoothies, and add it to salads. Since I have long been rescued from the hell that is processed food addiction, I would say avocados do for me what ice cream or yogurt does for die hard dairy lovers. The creamy texture, literally makes my heart sing, and ears perk up when I hear someone say the lovely name avocado. Oh, and the joy of cutting one open and it being completely perfect! I could go on and on. I know I’m tripping, but I really love them that much. They are also on my list of aphrodisiacs, so perhaps (***clears throat and bats eyelashes***), avocados are exciting for me in more ways than one. For grown folks only: the name avocado comes from the Aztec word ‘ahuacatl’ which, um, literally, um, means testicle (I don’t like that word, hence the hesitation). I assume you can guess that avocados got the name from the way they look. So beyond just eating avocados, you also have the option to make some dirty jokes about them.
You know that saying: “Be careful what you wish for, because you just might get it?” Well, for a year or so I’ve had this amazing dream that I have mentioned to friends about owning a farm somewhere tropical that produced avocados, bananas, and coconuts. The reason for this is because I feel my life would elevated to a new level of bliss if I could have all of those things in unlimited amounts year round. Especially since avocados and coconuts are getting pricy these days. Well, the wish partly came true in a roundabout way. A family friend happens to have avocado trees amongst other trees growing in their backyard in Florida! And guess what? They have way too many avocados to eat. The surplus is so bad they have to give them away. So right now I have a a giant moving box FULL TO THE BRIM with huge Florida avocados. Seriously, Raw Vegan Santa must’ve answered my wish before Christmas! These aren’t the dark green small ones (Haas) we get in the grocery store. They are the mammoth avocados that are a lighter green color. Amazing right? So now, I got to figure out what to do with all these avocados! I’ve been having one a day and luckily a ton of them are still not ripe yet. I say all this to warn you, because avocados have consumed my kitchen, there are a few more avocado posts coming to the blog, but I’ll mix it up and also do a recipe or two.
So what groovy benefits do you get from eating avocado, which is also known as ‘alligator pear’? Well, they happen to be one of the healthiest foods on the planet! Avocados contain 25 essential nutrients including vitamin A, B, C, E, K, copper, iron, phosphorous, magnesium, potassium, protein, phytochemicals, and fiber. You would actually need to eat at least two bananas to get the amount of potassium in one avocado. Avocados have a large fat content, almost twenty times the amount of fat in other fruits but they are extremely good-for-you monounsaturated fats. People often worry that because of this avocados will make you gain weight. Not the case, I’ll get to that in another post soon. If you eat avocados from Florida which are huge, note that they have 50% LESS fat than the Haas kind, so they are sort of the “low-fat” brand of avocados.
Onto the long list of fabulous things the wonderful fruit named avocado can do for you. Some key benefits include: maintains a healthy heart and reduce risk of heart disease, efficiently lowers bad cholesterol and can boost good cholesterol, helps to regulate blood pressure levels, has anti-inflammatory properties that help ward off inflammation related diseases, promotes eye health and prevents macular degeneration, regulates blood sugar levels, reduces the risk of stroke because of high levels of folate, protects against breast cancer and has been shown to inhibit prostate cancer, contains glutathione which fights free radicals in the body, boosts immune system, slows aging, and encourages a healthy nervous system. If all of those benefits alone were not a mouthful add to that the fact that avocados are known the world over for boosting the health and natural glow of your skin.
So my challenge this week is: How many ways can you eat an avocado? While I go off to work on that, I hope you have now been convinced that avocados are an awesome food to add to your diet. As much as I would love to keep my love for them all to myself, I know there’s more than enough love to go around so you can count on me to continue spreading the gospel. -XoXo Raw Girl
I was just introduced to the strange-looking greenish colored fruit called starfruit also known as carambola. Starfruit is native to the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, India, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka. My family was sent an entire box of these funny looking fruits, in addition to two GIANT boxes of avocados from our new friends in Florida who have starfruit trees growing in their backyard. I’ll get into the absolutely insane amount of avocados I have right now in another post sometime soon. When I first saw the star fruit, I was totally turned off. It looks really strange! At least to me it looked like some sort of alien fruit. Finally I got the nerve to look up more about it and how to eat it. When I took my first bite I was pleasantly surprised! To me it tasted something like a pear, plum, or grapefruit. It has a slightly sweet but sour taste. The coolest part about the fruit is the reason why it got its name. When you cut across it, it literally forms pieces of fruit in the shape of a star! You may have seen starfruit used as a garnish for cocktails for this reason.
Starfruit has some great nutritional benefits including providing 75% of the RDA of vitamin C, vitamin A, E, B complex, iron, fiber, and trace amounts of calcium, magnesium, selenium, copper, and zinc. The fact that starfruit is loaded with antioxidants and has a nice amount of zinc, makes it a great addition to an acne-free diet. There is also research being done on the fruit, because researchers believe that consuming starfruit helps to slow the aging process and delay the appearance of wrinkles. Some additional benefits of eating starfruit include: lowers your cholesterol, prevents heart disease, prevents and treats constipation, slows down agin, promotes weight loss, boosts immune function, and is useful for treating infection from bacteria like salmonella and e.coli. Starfruit has also been used as a natural remedy to recover from a hangover.
***WARNING!*** The only thing that is frightening is you should NOT consume this fruit if you have kidney failure, kidney stones, or are on dialysis. Starfruit contains oxallic acid which can be dangerous and harmful for anyone with kidney issues and cause hiccups, vomiting, numbness of limbs, decreased muscle power, mental confusion, and in bad cases, DEATH. This does not sound like something you want to mess with. In my research I read several accounts of people with kidney problems who died after consuming starfruit. If you do not have kidney problems, please don’t worry, you’ll be completely fine.
If you are interested in trying this funny looking fruit, there are a few ways you can eat it. You can wash the fruit, and remove all blemished parts and eat as is, add it to fruit salads, smoothies, or use it as an exotic salad topping. You can juice starfruit as well, and it makes a great light sweetener for your green juices instead of apple. Hopefully, the next time you see this exotic fruit you won’t run for the hills like I almost did; I recommend you try it to add some variety to your fruit choices and get a nice serving of antioxidants to keep you youthful. A starfruit a day can apparently keep the plastic surgeon away. -XoXo Raw Girl
Very recently I posted on the benefits of sprouting. I’ve been big on it every since I had a lovely conversation which you will hear soon with Annette Larkins, who is deemed “The Ageless Woman” about the benefits of sprouts. Some of you shouted out mung bean sprouts as your all time favorite, and I was particularly intrigued by these (not to playa hate on any of the other wonderful sprouts), because of their high vitamin C content that was used in ancient times to ward off disease.
The Chinese have been hip to harnessing the benefits of mung bean sprouts for over 3,000 years. So the rest of us are a little late to starting preaching the goodness of mung. This low calorie food is high in protein and fiber, and has very little to no fat. This makes them a great addition to soups, salads, and stir fries, that adds some more bulk to the meal without adding in excess fat or calories. Mung bean sprouts have pure forms of vitamin A, B, C, and E, along with K, calcium, iron, magnesium, pottassium, phosphorous, and zinc. One cup contains 1/4 the daily recommended value for vitamin C and 15% the recommended value of folic acid which is great for pregnant women because it prevents birth defects in children.
Ninety percent of what mung bean sprouts consists of is water, so eating them will boost your hydration a bit, and the fiber in them can help lower your bad cholesterol levels and decrease your risk for heart disease. Not bad for a little Chinese bean named Mung! If you decide to give these wonderful sprouts a try you can sprout them yourself or make sure you purchase sprouts that are not stringy or discolored. As fresh as you can find is always the best. If you missed the last post on The Benefits of Sprouting check it out here: http://wp.me/pHXQG-1bZ. -XoXo Raw Girl
This weekend I tossed in some watercress to my green juice and it made for a delightful addition. If you know nothing about watercress, it’s a green herb aptly named due to its high moisture content that has been used for food and medicinal purposes since ancient times. Having an almost peppery taste somewhat similar to mustard greens, watercress can be added to salads or juiced. One bowl of watercress salad greens contains a high level of antioxidants, and almost 1/2 the daily recommended intake of Vitamin A. In addition eating watercress will give you a nice dose of Vitamin C, beta carotene, B vitamins, Vitamin E, folate, iodine, calcium and more. Just 100 grams of watercress will also give you 200% of the daily recommended value for Vitamin K which can strengthen bones and prevent osteoporosis.
Incorporating watercress in your diet can also help to prevent several kinds of cancer including skin and breast cancers. Some of the uses of watercress as a medicine or natural remedy include: purifying the blood, healing colds and coughs, asthma, anemia, and much more. Because of its high sulphur content, watercress is also a beauty vegetable that will assist in clearing and improving your complexion. The juice of watercress has been applied directly to the skin to aid in getting rid of acne, blackheads, dark spots etc. I chose to juice my watercress, but you can also toss it in salads, nori rolls, or veggie wraps. Check out the recipe for my juice below, and if you’re looking for a new green to add some spice to your veggie life, give watercress a try. -XoXo Raw Girl
Cucumber Watercress Delight
2-3 long English cucumbers or 4 large regular cucumbers
4-5 leaves of Lacinato Kale
large handful of Watercress
Juice all ingredients, strain and serve. Enjoy!