Fall Harvest Foods
As the temperatures drop and leaves turn an array of beautiful burnt orange, golden brown and deep red, Fall’s hearty vegetables and sweet fruit are ready and ripe. Autumn’s abundant harvest includes a wide variety of colors and flavors you can use to make an endless number of delicious dishes from cold salads to warm comforting soups and casseroles. Not only is in-season produce the best price among all fresh produce but it is also picked at its peak of ripeness for exceptional taste and eye-popping color.
What’s even better, when you switch what you eat with the seasons you are more likely to get a wider variety of vitamins, minerals and healthy plant compounds such as antioxidants.
Loaded with fiber, potassium, magnesium and vitamins A & C, butternut squash tastes great when cubed and roasted or you can turn it into a sweet dish by baking it with pecans and cranberries.
Though we often think of oranges for vitamin C, cauliflower is an excellent source of this nutrient. And as fall can sometimes mean the start of cold and flu season, the more vitamin C the better! My favorite ways to enjoy this vegetable – roasted until it becomes crispy and caramelized and then I toss it with lemon juice and Parmesan cheese. You’ve probably also seen cauliflower mashed potatoes – these are very easy to make and you can either mix them in with mashed potatoes or make them separately by steaming cauliflower and blending them with low-fat milk, yogurt or sour cream and a little bit of light butter along with a dash of salt and pepper (pour into a baking dish, and bake until bubbly).
The most well known Fall fruit does more than just light up your front porch. Pumpkin is actually a type of squash loaded with vitamins A & C. Stuffed pumpkin provides a sweet, delicious healthy snack when combined with apples, pineapple (another Fall fruit), raisins and spices. You can also make pumpkin muffins, pumpkin & sweet potatoes as a side dish and of course roast the seeds for a good dose of healthy fats along with several minerals including magnesium, zinc and copper and a good dose of protein. For more Pumpkin details see Pumpkin Nutrition – Fall Pumpkin Overload is Good For You!
Radicchio and Swiss Chard
These dark green leafy vegetables contain antioxidant carotenoids and lend a different flavor to your dishes than the greens you may typically reach for. So, add them to your scrambled eggs, soups, stir-fry dishes and stews.
If you are overwhelmed by the choices and not sure where to start, pick one new fruit or vegetable you have never tried or rarely eat and whip up a new dish. By the end of this season you will have plenty of new tasty dishes to delight your taste buds and contribute to overall health.
When layers of yellow cover your car, the street and sidewalks, you know allergy season is here. In an ideal world avoiding the allergens completely is the best solution for minimizing allergy symptoms. However, now that the weather is finally warmer, it’s tough to stay indoors all day long. Last year we mentioned foods high in querectin, probiotics and green tea (as well as liquids in general to help thin mucous) as potential options that may help minimize some of your allergy symptoms. And this year we are adding a few more natural remedies to our anti– allergy arsenal.
Vitamin C Rich Foods
Vitamin C is an antioxidant necessary for healthy skin (the largest organ in the body and your first line of defense against bacteria and pathogens), wound healing, the absorption of plant-based iron, immune health and many other functions. In addition, some research studies suggest that vitamin C may decrease airway constriction due to allergic reactions. There isn’t enough evidence to suggest that vitamin C supplements are warranted however, be sure to eat enough vitamin C rich foods. Bell peppers, oranges, kiwi fruit, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and baked potatoes are all excellent sources of vitamin C.
Over-the-counter nasal rinsing products that contain sterile saline help moisten nasal passages and also clear out allergens and debris. If you’re using in a device at home with tap water make sure you follow the FDA instructions for safety to ensure that you do not get sick from your nasal rinse.
Choose Your Fruits and Vegetables Wisely
If you know you’re allergic to certain environmental allergies you may also have an allergic reaction specific raw fruits, vegetables and nuts that have proteins similar to those in pollen. When the immune system reacts to these proteins you have oral allergy syndrome. Symptoms are typically isolated to the face and mouth and may include itching or swelling in the mouth, face, lips, tongue and throat after the consumption of certain raw fruits, vegetables, or nuts. Here are the common environmental pollen and potential cross-reactions with fruits vegetables:
Birch pollen: apples, almonds, hazelnuts, celery, cherry, hazelnut, cherries, kiwi, peach, pear, plums, coriander, fennel, parsley, carrots.
Grass pollen: celery, melons, oranges, peaches, tomatoes.
Ragweed pollen: bananas, cucumbers, melons, tomato, sunflower seeds or zucchini. Chamomile tea and Echinacea may also cause a problem in some people.
You don’t need to give up any of these fruits or vegetables completely. Instead, just cook them or consume them in processed form such as canned fruits and vegetables.
Be Aware of Exercise and Food Interactions
If you find that you get itchy, feel lightheaded, develop hives or have an anaphylactic reaction during or after exercise, take a close look at what you ate beforehand. Some individuals develop an allergic reaction to foods after exercise. Common culprits include crustacean shellfish, alcohol, tomatoes, cheese, and celery.
Allergies can be a nuisance and tricky to manage. However, if you avoid the environmental allergen is much as possible, take a shower and wash your hair and wash the clothes that you were wearing when outside while also avoiding eating any raw foods that could also cause a reaction, you may get through the allergy season a little bit easier this year.
National Sleep Awareness Week is this week week (Mar. 2-8, 2015) and culminates in the ever famous hour of lost sleep for most of us that undergo the time change every year.
With that in mind, its become more well researched and more well understood in recent years, just how important the right kind and amount of sleep truly is! We may spend roughly 1/3 of life sleeping, but its definitely not lost ‘unproductive’ time. Here’s why:
When you sleep, important things happen!
- Muscle repair
- Memory consolidation
- Hormone release cycles (growth and appetite among them)
To get a little more complex, there are 5 stages of sleep, all of which play a role in keeping our bodies and minds performing to the best of their abilities:
- NREM (non-REM) Stages 1-4 are 75% of our time spent sleeping
- REM stage is 25% of our time spent sleeping
The recommendations we hear about sleeping 7-8 hours every night, really do matter. So what are the rules and requirements and why are they so important?
Children and adolescents are still growing and changing. They have different needs than grown adults – 8.5-9.25 hours per night.
Adults? – eveyrone is different. Your needs will vary genetically and physiologically by age, sex, and previous sleep patterns.
Prolonged lack of good sleep can be linked to:
- body’s inflammatory response
- heart rate
- blood pressure
- increased hunger
Given that we all have survived another ‘spring-forward’ loss of an hour of sleep – give more thought to making up that hour, and trying to make healthier daytime choices that promote a restful nights sleep. SEE ALSO: 3 Important Health Reasons Why We All Need More Sleep