Monday, June 10, 2013

Muscle Sprouts and Company - Top 10 Veggies

You know what's great about summer?  Breaking out the speedo, wearing crocs? Fresh Vegetables!  Ok I doubt vegetables is on anybody's list for reasons why summer is so great, but I've gotten a couple of questions on some good veggie choices.  So I took the opportunity to list off MY top 10 vegetables.  These are not only based off nutrition value and health benefits, but also off taste and availability. 

Before we begin, let's first just give you 2 quick definitions so you have a brief understanding of some of the big words that will used.  So bear with us as we go through this boring stuff...

Phytonutrients - Natural nutrients in plant sources.  Phyto is Greek for plant, and these nutrients can help with many different health issues and help prevent diseases.  Some of the major phytonutrients for humans include - flavonoids, glucosinolates, resveratrol, caretonoids, ellagic acid, and phytoestrogens.  Overall the more phytonutrients a food has the better it is for us.

Antioxidants - Antioxidants help protect and repair damage done by free radicals.  Free radicals can cause damage to our body if they are not kept in check over time.  Antioxidants assist in reducing the natural damage done by free radicals.

While phytonutrients and antioxidants can be confusing and are pretty scientific, just know they provide awesome health benefits.  So enough waiting around, let's get to the good part.

1. Brussel Sprouts - Aka Muscle Sprouts

   Why - These suckers provide well over 100% of the daily recommendation of vitamin K and C, as well as providing a solid amount of manganese, folate, omega-3 fats, and sulfer (which give it brussel sprouts their unique flavor and smell).  Brussel sprouts are known for their cancer fighter properties by boosting the bodies detox, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory systems.  Brussel sprouts have a ton of  glucosinolates which greatly assist in these properites.  The high amounts of Vitamin K and omega-3 fatty acids also assist in brussel sprouts providing a mean punch of health benefits.

   Tummy Time - A favorite way to prepare muscle sprouts is to steam them and then coat them in butter and garlic.  My mouth is watering.

2. Kale - Aka Kale Yeah!

   Why - If you haven't boarded the kale train yet, then be prepared to get aboard.  Kale packs huge amounts of nutrients despite it being very low in calories.  It provides excellent amounts of Vitamin K, C, and A as well a manganese.  Kale helps to fight cancer, reduces inflammation, reduce cholesterol, and assist in cardiovascular health.  It does so by providing antioxidants, omega-3 fatty acids, and glucosinolates. 

   Tummy Time -Throw kale into your salads, along with spinach to provide the base of leaves to your salad.  Just like spinach, kale can also be cooked and used as a side dish, thrown in eggs, or if you're adventurous in a protein shake.

3. Spinach - Aka Popeyes Potent Potion

   Why - While kale is starting to make a scene in the vegetable world, spinach was the first to make a big splash and for good reasons.  Spinach provides a laundry list of nutrients in high amounts - Vitamin K, A, C, folate, iron, magnesium, and calcium.  Like the previous two on the list, spinach also helps to fight cancer, inflammation, and free radicals.  It also help assist in bone health, skin health, and eye health. 

   Tummy Time - Throw spinach into your eggs, ground meats, and if you haven't started to use spinach instead of iceberg lettuce in salads WHAT ARE YOU WAITNG FOR!!!

Sweet Tator Fries

4. Sweet Potatoes - Aka Sweet Spuds

   Why - Oh sweet potatoes! I know we all love Idaho spuds, but these sweet spuds are slowly making a spot in the hearts of many, including mine.  Differentiated by their bright orange and sometimes purple flesh, sweet potatoes supply massive amounts of beta-cerotene, Vitamin C, fiber, antioxidants, and can help control blood sugar.  Sweet potatoes are so great for athletes because they provide rich, fulls starchy carbohydrates while not providing some of the blood sugar spikes, empty calories, and potential digestive problems.  This makes it a key food for everybody.

   Tummy Time -

   1. Sweet potato fries - many restaurants now include these as a side option, but they are easily made at home.  Cut the sweet potato into fry shapes, and then saute those bad boys up in coconut oil until they are soft.  Sprinkle some cinnamon and sea salt of them and prepare to become obsessed.
   2. Baked - Just like a baked potato, prepare the sweet potato the same.  While regular baked potatoes usually come with sour cream, cheese, and butter - baked sweet potatoes go great with cinnamon, olive oil, and peacans/walnuts.  Slighty better options than the ole Idaho spud.

5. Onions - Aka Are you crying bro?

  Why - Onions is one of the most widely used and diverse vegetable, but it's also very nutritious, making it pretty dang awesome.  Onions are a member of the Allium family which are rich in sulfur-containing compounds that are responsible for their pungent odors and for many of their health-promoting effects.  Onions are an outstanding source of polyphenols, flavonoids, and quercetin and these help provide the body wtih cardiovascular benefits, anti-inflammatory benefits, anti-fungal benefits, and can help fight cancer.

   Tummy Time - Onion advice = Put them in everything, what isn't better with onions?

Freaky Fun Tip - Many of the health benefits and flavonoids are concentrated in the outer layers of the flesh. So make sure to peel off as little as possible to ensure you get the maximum health benefits.  Also try chewing gum while cutting onions, it's an old wives tale to prevent your eyes from watering.

Onions, Green Bell Peppers, Broccoli, Tomatoes - Check

6. Asparagus - Aka Pungent Pee Producer

   Why - Asparagus provide a wide range of vitamins and minerals to work together to provide digestive support, heart health, and are great for blood sugar regulation.  Asparagus is slightly unique in the vegetable world in that supply a good amount of B vitamins.

   Tummy Time - Might be starting to sound like a broken record, but asparagus + butter/olive oil + garlic = explosion on the taste buds.

Freaky Fun Tip - Eat asparagus ASAP.  They spoil quickly, so saute those monsters up for dinner tonight!

7. Bell Peppers - Aka Ring my Bellllll, ring my bell! Yeah that's Donna Summers, my momma taught me well!

   Why - First off bell peppers come in many different colors, so they look awesome on a plate.  Known for the awesome amounts of vitamin C and vitamin A, but they also provide good amounts of B vitamins as well flavonoids and carotenoids.  As you know these substances help fight inflammation, protect against cancer, and attack free radicals.

   Tummy Time - Stuffed Peppers - well wouldn't you know BBA has an Good Eats on Stuffed Peppers!

8. Cauliflower - Aka White Broccoli

   Why - Often overshadowed by the other cruciferous vegetable - broccoli - cauliflower still packs a good nutritional punch.  High in vitamin C, K, and fiber; cauliflower helps to detox the body, reduce inflammation, and provide good antioxidants.

   Tummy Time - To be honest cauliflower isn't the most tasty vegetable for some.  But if cooked or saute'd and "hidden" with other foods like in a stir fry, they can be good.

9. Broccoli - Aka Broccoli

   Why - What the hell is broccoli?! - Arnold Schwarzenegger

Broccoli is probably the most well known vegetable in terms of it's health benefits.  Broccoli has good amounts of vitamin A, C, and K.  It can help lower cholesterol, reduce cancer risks, reduce inflammation, and help detox your body.   Broccoli provides a special combination of glucosinolate phytonutrients that assist providing those cancer fight, anti-inflammatory, and cardiovascular system benefits.

   Tummy Time - Anytime broccoli is cooked, it's fantastic.  In eggs, on pizza, in stir-fry, or in salad are all great ways to enjoy broccoli.

10. Tomatoes - Aka Fake blood in the movies

   Why - The phytonutrients tomatoes provide are off the chart!  It's no question tomatoes have been shown to greatly reduce risk of cancer.  Tomatoes also provide bone support and cardiovascular support through it's unique blend of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals.  Not only that but tomatoes are super versatile, and can be used in everything from sauces, ketchup, salsa, chili, and eaten just plain.  Of course it's better to make all of those varieties at home :)

   Tummy Time - Ahh the potential is endless, but I'm gonna suggest that you try making a homemade pasta sauce.  Oooh weeee homemade tomatoe sauce, slow roasted with basil, oregano, thyme, garlic, and ground beef! Sorry Ragu and Prego, but your weak sauce - pun intended!

Now let's just clear up 1 thing before we conclude this piece.  You might not like what you hear, but you need to know the truth, even if you CAN'T HANDLE THE TRUTH. 

Corn is NOT a Vegetable - Corn is a grain, plain and simple.  If you think loading your dinner plate up with corn is getting you ample servings of veggies, you're wrong.  Corn is a starchy grain, and to be honest is pretty empty in terms of nutritional value.  NOW, I love a good piece of corn on the cob as the next and having that every once in a while won't hurt, but stop thinking by adding corn to a meal makes it healthy.  It doesn't! 

Alright folks now get out and give these fantastic veggies a whirl.  Feel free to comment on some of your favorite vegetables or recipes.  Also be sure to sign-up for BBA updates!  And go to FB, like our page and connect with us. 

So until next time, Go Get 'Em!

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