Today’s Health Morsel: Sweet Potatoes

Friday is burger day in my house, so today’s daily dozen is planned around sweet potato black bean burgers. Plus, I’ll explain why you should remove the skin of regular potatoes, but keep the skin of sweet potatoes.

breakfast_text

What do you do when all the fruit you bought doesn’t fit into your fruit salad container? Eat it for breakfast!

  • 1/2 charentais melon (a/b 2 c.)
  • 1/4 c. dates
  • 1/2 c. blueberries

Checklist items: berries, 3 other fruits (4 out of 18 servings)


 

lunch_text

Beans & greens is such a great lunch, b/c it can be something hot or cold, for any time of year. Today, I’ve got a 3-bean salad with a twist.

  • 1/2 c. borlotti beans
  • 1/2 c. kidney beans
  • 2 c. chopped batavia lettuce
  • 1/4 c. cannellini beans
  • 1 sm. garlic clove, minced
  • 2 T balsamic vinegar
  • 2 T lemon juice
  • 1 T mustard
  • 2 T chopped fresh dill
  • s & p
  • 1 T ground flaxseed
  • 1/8 c. sunflower seeds
  1. Add the borlotti & kidney beans to a salad bowl along with the arugula & lettuce.
  2. Put the cannellini into a blender, along with the garlic, vinegar, lemon juice, mustard, dill, and s & p, and blend until creamy. Add aquafaba if necessary to thin the dressing to your desired texture.
  3. Mix the dressing into the beans and let stand in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. If you can prepare it the day before you plan to eat it, the flavors will marry even better.
  4. Sprinkle ground flaxseed and sunflower seeds on before serving.

Checklist items: 2 1/2 beans, 2 greens, flaxseed, 1/2 nuts, spices (7 out of 18 servings)


 

dinner_text

sweet-potato2-1241696_640

The healthiest potato is the one with the most color. Purple sweet potatoes appear to have more cancer-fighting ability than any other potato, but a regular old sweet potato has been named one of the top 10 healthiest foods on the planet, especially considering bang-for-your-buck!

So, what’s the best way to cook them? They’re so good for that you can cook them however you’d like, except, of course, for deep frying. But if you really want to squeeze as much benefit as you can from every ounce of sweet potato, then you’ll want to boil them – this cooking method best retains the vitamins & antioxidant capacity. You’ll want to leave the skin of your sweet potatoes on, because the skin contains 10x the antioxidant capacity compared to the flesh (as long as you don’t bake it).

Unlike other potato varieties, sweet potatoes don’t contain glycoalkaloids. Glycoalkaloids are natural pesticides & fungicides that plants in the nightshade family produce themselves. Unfortunately, they’re toxic for humans, too. Glycoalkaloids are mostly in the skin and eyes of potatoes, which is why it’s important to remove them. How you store your potatoes can also make a difference – both light and heat increase the production of glycoalkaloids, so you’ll want to keep your potatoes in a cool, dark place. Learn more here. Sweet potatoes don’t produce glycoalkaloids because they aren’t members of the nightshade family.

What happens when you overdose on sweet potatoes? Like with carrots, you could go a bit yellow around the nose. But it’s completely harmless, and goes away on its own after some time, so no need to worry. (See sources)

The recipe I’m making today comes from Minimalist Baker. See my review, along with the changes that I made, and the original recipe is here. I’ve included the checklist below for easy reference. It’s for the recipe as I made it, and includes the bun and toppings.wp-1475230963677.jpg

Checklist items: 2/3 serving beans, cruciferous, 2 other vegetables , 1/2 nuts, spices, 3 whole grains (a little more than 8 out of 18 servings)


Taking account of the day:

19 1/6 servings in total.

We got at least the minimum recommended servings of everything today, plus a little bit extra beans, and an extra servings of spices.

 

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Recipe Review: Minimalist Baker’s sweet potato black bean burger

I frequently visit Minimalist Baker for inspiration in my meal planning – so many wonderful vegan recipes. And the sweet potato black bean burgers are no exception. Just get a load of this guy!

amazing-10-ingredient-sweet-potato-black-bean-burger-tender-flavorful-hearty-so-delicious
photo courtesy of Minimalist Baker

I kept fairly close to the original recipe, but did make some changes, and I have an interesting idea for the next time I make them! So, here’s how it went…

The Recipe
  • 2 c. mashed sweet potato
  • 1 c. cooked black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 1/2 c. cooked buckwheat
  • 1/2 c. almond meal
  • 1/2 c. diced green onion
  • 2 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/4 tsp each salt and pepper

The original recipe had rice – I substituted buckwheat, and it worked very well.

The original recipe also suggests optional chipotle powder, which I would have added if I had any, but the recipe is good without it.

Also optional in the original is brown sugar, but I left that out, and the sweet potato itself was plenty sweet for me.

Finally, though the recipe calls for walnut or pecan meal, and I do think that might taste even better, I used almond meal because I have some that is on its way out & so I wanted to use it before it went bad. They tasted great as I made them, so don’t be afraid to make the same substitution if that’s easier for you.

For instructions, see the original recipe. At first, I was worried because my mixture seemed very wet compared to other vegan burgers that I’ve made, but they molded & held together perfectly!

Nutrition Information

I made 6 big patties (though the original recipe calls for 12). Here is the modified nutrition info for my burgers & the breakdown of how this recipe fits into Dr. Greger’s Daily Dozen. The nutrition info is for the burger recipe alone. The Daily Dozen checklist will be for the 2 patties together in one bun (mega-burger!) with 1/2 c. arugula, 1/4 c. tomato &/or onion. And, of course,  you can add anything else you’d like.

spbbb_nutrition_info
I generated this information using cronometer.com

 

Just look at all that dietary fiber! That’s because of the buckwheat.

Checklist items: 2/3 serving beans, cruciferous, 2 other vegetables , 1/2 nuts, spices, 3 whole grains (a little more than 8 out of 18 servings)

To more easily fit this into a daily meal plan, here is a list of the servings you will need to eat during other meals, snacks, dessert to complete the day:

  • 2 1/3 servings of beans ( = 1/2 c. + 1 T + 1 tsp hummus or 1 1/8 c. beans/tofu/tempeh or 2 1/3 c. peas/sprouted lentils)
  • 1 berries
  • 3 other fruits
  • 2 greens
  • 1 flaxseeds
  • 1/2 nuts ( = 1 T nut or seed butter or 1/8 c. nuts or seeds)

Just by way of suggestion, this might be a good day to have a berry fruity breakfast and a beans & greens lunch!

Performance

I loved the sweet potato black bean burger recipe! I think the original would be great but, as you can see, it’s also very tolerant of substitution, so you can play around with it a little like I did to make it fit what’s in your pantry, or any current passions (like my new-found love of buckwheat).

In terms of cooking, I brought these to a BBQ and cooked them on the grill. Others had been cooking meat, so I used aluminum foil on the grill-top, and then a little square of baking paper on each side of each patty to ensure they wouldn’t stick to the foil. They cooked wonderfully. The grill wasn’t very hot, and I was very hungry, so I didn’t let them cook for as long as I should have. Next time I’d like them to be chewier & firmer. But that’s all in the cooking. My partner was just happy that they weren’t burnt (he gets a little overzealous with the grill at home).

What will I change next time? Other than cooking them properly, I want to try substituting  in black rice! That will up the antioxidant power, and I bet it’ll look cool, too!

So, the final word is: definitely try this recipe and incorporate it into your daily dozen!

Today’s Health Morsel: Beets!

Today’s daily dozen meal plan starts out hot & sweet, ends with ice cream, and incorporates the beautiful beet. Plus, i’ll explain why nitrates are beneficial in beets but bad news in bacon.


 

breakfast_text

cornmeal_20160627_135454As the weather gets colder I have less desire for fruit in the morning. I’m a lot more interested in putting something warm in my belly. So, this morning I went for cornmeal mush.

  • 1/2 c. hot cornmeal mush w/
  • 1 T maple syrup
  • 1/4 c. dried figs
  • 1 nectarine

Checklist items: 2 other fruits, 1 whole grains (3 out of 18 servings)


 

lunch_text

Even though it’s late September now, I still have loads of fresh lettuce in the garden, so I’m having a nice big salad of beans & greens, all from the garden, with Chef AJ’s House Dressing for lunch.

  • 1 1/2 c. borlotti beans
  • 1/2 c. arugula
  • 2 c. kamikaze lettuce
  • 1 T ground flaxseed to sprinkle on top
  • a little fresh basil, coriander & mint

Checklist items: 3 beans, cruciferous, 2 greens, flaxseeds, spices (8 out of 18 servings)


 

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Surprisingly, there’s a lot to say on the topic of beets. Let’s start with nitrates. Beets are high in nitrates. Nitrates can form nitrites, which are fine in themselves, but they can go on to form either nitric oxide or nitrosamines. Nitrosamines are carcinogenic – cancer-causing – so we definitely want to be sure that our beets are not giving us cancer. No worries! Nitrosamines form from nitrites in processed meats, in the absence of plants. This occurs in the meat itself before it ever makes it onto a dinner plate, so, even though a measly 20 mg of vitamin C blocks nitrosamine production, adding a salad to your sausage dinner isn’t going to help.

Nitric oxide, on the other hand, is what we get when we eat beets or other nitrate-rich whole vegetables. Our bodies love nitric oxide! It makes energy production more efficient by requiring less oxygen. This increases athletic performance, as well as endurance of any physical activity in people with emphysema, high blood pressure, and peripheral artery disease. It also helps to reduce blood pressure, increasing blood-flow especially to at-risk areas of the ageing brain. A side-effect of the body being able to produce energy more efficiently is metabolism reduction. That might sound scary, like beets will make you gain weight, but slower metabolism is actually associated with longevity. Nitric oxide is also effective at removing carcinogenic bile acids from our bodies. Of several vegetables tested, beets were #1 for this particular task (even beet-ing out kale).

There’s just one down-side. Though the best way to prevent most kidney stones it cutting meat out of the diet, people who are predisposed to absorbing oxalates may want to limit their consumption of beets, as they are a high-oxalate food. And, just in case you want to be extra sure that nitrite doesn’t turn into nitrosamine – you can always eat nitrate-rich foods with a single slice of bell pepper, or eat 2 strawberries before dinner. That’s all the vitamin C you’ll need (see sources).

The recipe I’m making comes from the Kitchn: Vegan Beet Pesto Pasta. I eyed it skeptically for a while before deciding to try it. It was amazing!! I absolutely loved it. And, as you might imagine, the color of your pesto makes this a fun meal to try with kids or guests. Plus, it’s super-fast to make – you basically throw the ingredients in a blender and it’s ready, making it the perfect dinner after a busy day. I made just 1 change from the original recipe, which was wp-1474350881956.jpgto replace the olive oil with the same amount of aquafaba. The amounts below reflect 1/4 of the original recipe, which was my serving size.

  • 1 1/2 c. cooked & drained whole wheat pasta
  • 1/2 clove garlic
  • 2 T crushed almonds
  • 1/2 large purple beet, cooked & peeled (a/b 1 c.)
  • 5 T aquafaba
  • 1 1/2 tsps red wine vinegar
  • salt, to taste
  • chives, minced (optional)

Put everything except for the pasta into a food processor or high-speed blender and blend until smooth (or see the Kitchn’s instructions, which are a bit more…complete. Don’t worry it’s only one more step). Toss with hot pasta and garnish with chives, if desired. Also, see the original recipe for much more beautiful pictures of this dish.

Checklist items: 2 other vegetables, 1/2 nuts, spices, 3 whole grains (6 1/2 out of 18 servings)


 

dessert_text

Banana-raspberry ice dream for dessert will finish off our fruit & nut requirements for the day. Life’s hard, eh?

  • 1 large frozen banana
  • 1/2 cup frozen raspberries
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 T crushed hazelnuts

Put everything into a high-speed blender. Pulse until the bananas are broken into small chunks and then blend until it’s the consistency of ice cream. Serving with crushed nuts on top.

Checklist items: berries, 1 other fruit, 1/2 nuts, spices (3 1/2 out of 18 servings)


Taking account of the day:

21 servings in total.

We got at least the minimum recommended servings of everything today, plus 2 extra servings of spices & one of whole grains.

Today’s Health Morsel: Whole Wheat Pasta

 

Today’s daily dozen meal plan starts with fresh fruit and ends with wholesome whole wheat pasta, plus I’ll explain how to maximize the benefits of eating whole grains.


 

Breakfast_textwp-1473665071983.jpgToday’s breakfast is canary melon and fresh figs plus the usual dates.

  • 1/4 canary melon
  • 2 figs
  • 1/4 c. dates

Checklist items: 3 other fruits (3 out of 18 servings)


 

snack_text

I need just a quick little post-run snack, so I’m grabbing a small fistful of nuts & berries.

  • 1/4 c. hazelnuts
  • 1/2 c. kumquats

Checklist items: berries, nuts (2 out of 18 servings)


 

lunch_text

I’m throwing together a green salad for lunch. Nothing fancy. But very yummy since much of it is out of my own garden.

  • 1 c. borlotti beans
  • 2 c.  salad greens
  • 1/2 c. red bell pepper
  • 1/2 c. cucumber
  • 1 T flaxseed, ground

I tossed it with My Basic Dressing, which you can find here.

Checklist items: 2 beans, 2 greens, 2 other vegetables, flaxseeds (7 out of 18 servings)


 

dinner_text

wp-1473763262330.jpgBefore I make my pasta salad, there’s something I need to consider – a phytonutrient in whole grains called phytic acid, which helps in fighting cancer, reduces cholesterol & triglycerides, improves blood sugar control, prevents osteoporosis, and works as an antioxidant. However, this same phytonutrient inhibits mineral absorption, leading to lower uptake of things like iron, which could be problematic for people who are prone to anemia. So, what do you do? How about eating whole grains along with foods that enhance mineral absorption? Garlic and onion do just that, so whenever you have whole grains, just throw a little garlic or onion or both into the mix. Another simple solution if you don’t like to eat garlic or onion, or it doesn’t go well with your meal – eat an extra half serving of the mineral source. That’s all it takes to get the full benefit of phytic acid (see sources). Now for some pasta salad!

  • 1 1/2 c. whole wheat pasta, cooked & drained
  • 1 c. fresh peas
  • 1/2 c. broccoli
  • 1/4 c. onion
  • 1/4 c. zucchini
  • 1/2 c. corn
  • a few Ts each of parsley, lovage & chives

For a dressing, I used the tomato basil dressing you’ll find here.

Checklist items: 1 beans, cruciferous, 2 other vegetables, spices, 3 whole grains (8 out of 18 servings)


Taking account of the day:

20 servings in total.

We got at least the minimum recommended servings of everything today, plus 2 extra servings of other vegetables, or 1 extra serving of other vegetables and 1 extra serving of whole grains, depending on how you want to count the corn.

The power of the (cauli)flower

Breakfast_text
wp-1473074297458.jpgI’m still on my fresh fruit breakfasts, though probably not for much longer as the weather is beginning to show signs of cooling. Sad face. But for the moment, I’ve got a second round of raspberries ripening in my garden.

  • 1/2 charentais melon (a/b 2 c.)
  • 1/2 c. raspberries

Checklist items: berries, 2 other fruits (3 out of 18 servings)


lunch_textI love bean salads! It occurred to me that I haven’t had dill in a long time, even though it’s an herb that I absolutely adore, so I’m rectifying that right now! Lunch is a 3-bean salad with lemon-dill dressing. dill-1347095_640

  • 1/2 c. garbanzos
  • 1/2 c. kidney
  • 1/2 c. string beans, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 c. chopped spinach or mustard greens
  • 1/2 c. cannellini
  • 1 small garlic clove
  • 2 T vinegar of choice
  • 2 T lemon juice
  • 1 T mustard
  • 2 T chopped fresh dill
  • salt & pepper, to taste
  1. Add the garbanzo, kidney, & string beans to a salad bowl along with the greens.
  2. Put the cannellini into a blender, along with the garlic, vinegar, lemon juice, mustard, dill, and s & p, and blend until creamy. Add aquafaba if necessary to thin the dressing to your desired texture.
  3. Mix the dressing into the beans and let stand in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. If you can prepare it the day before you plan to eat it, the flavors will marry even better.

Checklist items: 3 beans, 2 greens, 1 other vegetables, spices (7 out of 18 servings)

*the string beans technically count as other vegetables rather than beans


Dessert_text
Post-lunch sort of dessert today. Date & nut milk.

Checklist items: 1 other fruit, flaxseed, nuts, spices (4 out of 18 servings)


dinner_textWith vegetables, color usually goes hand-in-hand with nutrient density, but cauliflower is a glowing exception. Even white cauliflower is a powerhouse, easily holding its own among its green brothers & sisters in the cruciferous family. Cruciferous veg are especially protective against prostate and colorectal cancers (but help fight other cancers, too) and cardiovascular disease, as well as helping to regulate blood cholesterol levels, increasing overall immune function, and helping to protect your eyesight and your brain (see here and here for more information).

purple_cauliflower-1218701_640Plus, cauliflower is a hearty, filling, warming veg for those cold, rainy nights, like I’m having here tonight. Dinner is a cauliflower alfredo with whole grain pasta. If you want to get funky, use a purple or orange cauliflower. My recipe is based on the one from Oh She Glows, with some changes.

  • 2 c. cauliflower, roughly chopped
  • 2 lg garlic cloves, 1 minced
  • 1/4 c. aquafaba or plain, unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/4 c. parsley
  • 1/4 c. nutritional yeast
  • 1 T lemon juice
  • 1 tsp mustard powder
  • 1/2 tsp each garlic & onion powder
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1/2 c. string beans, chopped (fresh from the garden, if you’ve got ’em!)
  • 1 1/2 c. whole grain pasta, cooked (I used wheat)
  1. Boil the cauliflower until just tender, about 10 minutes.
  2. In the meantime, water-saute the beans and the minced garlic until the garlic is cooked. The beans can stay nice & crunchy to add some texture to the dish.
  3. When draining the cauliflower, reserve some of the cooking liquid in case you need it to make your alfredo sauce a little less thick.
  4. Place cooked cauliflower, 1 garlic clove, aquafaba or milk, parsley, nutritional yeast, lemon juice, mustard, and spices into a blender & blend until smooth & creamy. If you need to, you can add some of the reserved cooking water. The mustard is important for the nutritional benefits of cauliflower. If you don’t have mustard powder, no problem! Just plan a little ahead and chop the cauliflower at least 40 minutes prior to cooking it. To find out why, see this video.
  5. Mix everything together in a large serving bowl.

Checklist items: cruciferous, 1 other vegetables, spices, 3 whole grains (6 out of 18 servings)


Taking account of the day:

20 servings in total.

We got at least the minimum recommended servings of everything today, plus 2 extra servings of spices. That’s never a bad thing!