Throughout time nutrition trends have changed and will continue to do so. But the one constant that holds strong? Plants. No one can argue with vegetables. Ask any nutritionist, doctor, someone recovering from disease, someone trying to eat “healthy” and what’s the go-to superfood? Vegetables! This was the focus for the week. I was inundated with statistics and studies on how beneficial eating a plant-based diet is and to sum it up: vegetables lower risk of disease, heal the body, and support healthful aging. I could bore you with the numbers, but this is something we all know to be true. IIN suggested opting for at least one plant-based meal a day, or one plant-based day a week. I’m sure you’ve heard of “meatless Mondays.” Once you start adding in more vegetables, you crowd out other foods that might not be serving you as well. Plant-based diet followers get the majority of their calories from whole plant foods, which include: vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, nuts, seeds, and minimally-processed oils. “A plant-based diet is rich in phytochemicals, which help protect cells from damage and may reduce the risk of cancer, heart disease, and diabetes.” (dietary theory library, IIN).
So, are you interested in losing weight? Eat vegetables. Want to reverse disease? Same answer. In addition, Dr. Joel Fuhrman spoke this week and shared his top anti-cancer fighting foods: G-BOMBS. Greens, beans, onions, mushrooms, berries, and seeds. Leafy greens are the most nutrient dense of all foods. My favorites? Cruciferous vegetables (bok choy, broccoli, kale, brussel sprouts). These veggies are extra special because they have a unique chemical composition – when their cell walls are broken by chopping, blending, or chewing, a chemical reaction converts glucosinolates to isothiocyanates – compounds with a variety of potent anti-cancer effects. Beans are the most nutrient-dense carbohydrate source and also very high in fiber. “Eating beans, peas, or lentils at least twice a week has been found to decrease colon cancer risk by 50%. Legume intake also provides significant protection against oral, larynx, pharynx, stomach, and kidney cancers.” (resource linked below). Onions are part of the Allium family of vegetables (other members of this family include: leeks, garlic, chives, shallots, and scallions). These contain compounds similar to those of cruciferous vegetables, in which studies have found prevent the development of cancers, halt cancer growth, slow tumor development, and induce cell death in colon cancer. It is clear they have many anti-inflammatory benefits. Do you ever notice that once you chop or mince garlic, the smell is immediately overwhelming? That’s because a key enzyme called alliinase is released. This enzyme has many health benefits and rather than throwing garlic in a pan right away, let it sit for 10 minutes so that it can fully reap the potential benefits of its cancer-fighting compounds. Cool right?! Mushrooms are unique because they contain aromatase inhibitors – compounds that can block the production of estrogen. These compounds are thought to reduce or treat breast cancer. Mushrooms are also associated with a decreased risk of stomach and colorectal cancers. Berries are full of antioxidants and an excellent food for the brain. Plus, they are lower in sugar, but still very sweet! Seeds and nuts contain healthy fats that aid in the absorption of nutrients when eaten with vegetables. I use flax, chia, and hemp seeds daily, all of which are rich sources of fiber and omega-3 fats. Did you know sesame seeds have the greatest amount of calcium of any food in the world?? I didn’t! In addition, sunflower seeds are rich in protein and minerals. Pumpkin seeds are rich in iron, calcium, and a good source of zinc. So the next time you go grocery shopping or cook, remember how important G-BOMBS are to your meals!
Want to know the secret to losing weight, preventing disease, or healing yourself from disease? It doesn’t come in the form of a pill. You probably know what I’m about to say…. It’s FOOD! Food is medicine. I have witnessed this with family members and myself. Once I started eating for nutritional purposes my relationship with food changed for the better and my love for it grew immensely. I didn’t grow up cooking or have any desire to learn how until only recently. And now it’s my number one passion. I find it extremely therapeutic and a way for me to create. I love recipe developing and playing around with different flavors, herbs, and spices. I did just that in this VEGAN pizza below! I used the cauliflower crust from Trader Joe’s but created my own pesto according to my taste buds. I will definitely be making this again. Try it for yourself!
Vegan Pesto Pizza
First step: Purchase the cauliflower crust from Trader Joe’s (a new item found in the frozen section). Cook as directed.
Second step: Using a blender or food processor, make the pesto:
- 1 cup fresh basil
- 1 cup fresh parsley
- 1 & 1/4 cup kale
- 1 cup pine nuts
- 1/2 cup lemon juice
- 1/4 cup olive oil (avocado oil would work too)
- 3 tsp minced garlic
- 1/2 tsp pink Himalayan sea salt
- 1/2 tsp smoky turmeric (regular works too!)
Third step: Remove crust from oven (after it’s cooked according to box instructions) and top with pesto. Add chopped tomatoes, broccoli, peas, arugula, and basil.
Final step: Put back in the oven for another 5-10 minutes depending on how crispy you like your crust. Remove, let cool, and ENJOY. I wish I had leftovers!
Food for thought: Are you eating enough vegetables? But seriously, are you??? Even if you think you are, try adding in more! Your body will love you for it!
Resources used for this post:
IIN dietary theory library & module 7 material