Five Easy Ways to Eat More Spinach (Your Muscles Will Thank You, Says Science)

by Siobhan O’Connor

Siobhan O’Connor is a natural beauty and health expert and the co-author, with Alexandra Spunt, of the blog No More Dirty Looks.

It turns out that Popeye was onto something: Besides providing the body with protein, iron, powerful antioxidants, and a natural glow, spinach may also benefit muscle building. So much for the puny-vegetarian stereotype!

And since it’s such a health superstar, we’re going to tell you how to incorporate it into your diet without having to think too much about it. Here’s why.

The Daily is reporting on a new(ish) study published in Cell Metabolism which showed that eating spinach may help muscles work more efficiently during exercise. Apparently the inorganic nitrate found in spinach does this by fueling mitochondria—the little engines in our cells that could—with more energy on less oxygen. The lead scientist on the study, Dr. Eddie Weitzberg, compared it to being able to run a car on less fuel but at the same speed.

Whether or not you’re taking the GOOD 30-day challenge or did our own Vegan For a Week Challenge (and have been following ourMeatless Monday recipe series), eating more spinach is a great idea. Its mild flavor makes it one of the most versatile super foods, and it pairs easily with (or hidden in) just about anything. Because you can buy it frozen it’s also convenient and affordable.

Here are a few no-brainer ways to add it to a meal:

Hidden in smoothies: You can load a smoothie with spinach and still have it taste like vanilla ice cream—it’s truly an incredible trick for anyone who thinks they hate veggies (if you’re dealing with a finicky kid—or as I was, a finicky man—just add blueberries to hide the color). Smoothies are also a happy home for spinach because the iron is more readily absorbed with vitamin C, which is found abundantly in fruits. Go for strawberries right now—they have a ton of C and they’re in season (at least in California).

In omelettes: Whether you want to power up at breakfast, or make a lazy dinner, adding spinach to an omelette will take it to the next level. I like doing a Greek-inspired fast frittata with olive oil, onion, and feta. Just saute the onions in a pan that can go in the oven, then add the spinach and let it cook down for a minute. Then pour in your eggs and let that sit until it looks like the bottom half is cooked; then sprinkle it with feta, salt, and pepper and throw it in the oven under the broiler. When the eggs brown at the edges and the feta bubbles you’re done. Takes ten minutes, tastes gourmet.

With pasta or on pizza: It really doesn’t matter whether you like a red sauce, a cream sauce, or a simple olive oil drizzle on your pasta or pizza—spinach pairs with all. You can easily add it to something store-bought but a recent taste triumph at my house involved frozen peas and spinach sauteed in olive oil and garlic in a pan. To that I added the brown rice pasta from Trader Joe’s (cooked of course), some red chili flakes, lemon juice, and lots of salt and pepper. If you’re vegan you’re done (or you can add some nutritional yeast to taste). If you like cheese, throw in some parmesan. If you want meat in there, prosciutto works great.

As a side: This is basically the same as above but without the pasta. Put about a tablespoon of olive oil in a pan with some chopped garlic and saute your spinach for a few minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste along with a squeeze of lemon juice (for both flavor and some vitamin C).

In a salad: Spinach can be added to just about any salad—from a caesar to a chopped to a simple olive oil and vinegar variety. I like making a good vegan caesar dressing with the following: 1 tbs olive oil, 1 tbs vegenaise, 1 tsp dijon, juice of a lemon, 1 tbs of capers (if you like them), 1 tsp of nutritional yeast (if you have it/like it), and salt and pepper to taste. (Note: if you use the capers you may not need the salt, taste it first.) Do a romaine and fresh spinach mix and add anything you like to it: You can go traditional with croutons and parmesan, or make it more of a mixed vegetable salad with artichoke hearts, tomatoes and cucumbers.

Ok, your turn! What’s your favorite way to use this muscle-building age-fighter?

Photo (cc) from Flickr user srqpix

 

Advertisements

8 Foods You Should Eat Daily for Optimum Health

0907TPC_8foods_main.jpg

Our tech nerdie, aka Kelly’s husband, is useful beyond words. In addition to keeping us online and in business by keeping up with all of our technical work, he also scans the web for articles that would be of interest to us. This is one of the articles he sent me last month which I think every Beauty Snob should read! I eat most of the items on the list but am now more diligent about all of it. I believe in eating only fresh foods (I do not even own a can opener and am planning to rid of my microwave!) and have raised my soon to be three year old son to love spinach and broccoli. With so many of our friends diagnosed with cancer I feel like the least we can do is control what we put in our bodies. Being youthful and beautiful is just a small perk to the health benefits you’ll receive.

foodkey.jpg

0907TPC_8foods_spinach.jpg
1. Spinach – It may be green and leafy, but spinach is also the ultimate man food. This noted biceps builder is a rich source of plant-based omega-3s and folate, which help reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, and osteoporosis. Bonus: Folate also increases blood flow to the penis. And spinach is packed with lutein, a compound that fights age-related macular degeneration. Aim for 1 cup fresh spinach or ½ cup cooked per day. SUBSTITUTES: Kale, bok choy, romaine lettuce FIT IT IN: Make your salads with spinach; add spinach to scrambled eggs; drape it over pizza; mix it with marinara sauce and then microwave for an instant dip. PINCH HITTER: Sesame Stir-Braised Kale Heat 4 cloves minced garlic, 1 Tbsp. minced fresh ginger, and 1 tsp. sesame oil in a skillet. Add 2 Tbsp. water and 1 bunch kale (stemmed and chopped). Cover and cook for 3 minutes. Drain. Add 1 tsp. soy sauce and 1 Tbsp. sesame seeds.

0907TPC_8foods_yogurt.jpg
2. Yogurt – Various cultures claim yogurt as their own creation, but the 2,000-year-old food’s health benefits are not disputed: Fermentation spawns hundreds of millions of probiotic organisms that serve as reinforcements to the battalions of beneficial bacteria in your body, which boost the immune system and provide protection against cancer. Not all yogurts are probiotic though, so make sure the label says “live and active cultures.” Aim for 1 cup of the calcium– and protein-rich goop a day. SUBSTITUTES: Kefir, soy yogurt FIT IT IN: Yogurt topped with blueberries, walnuts, flaxseed, and honey is the ultimate breakfast—ordessert. Plain low-fat yogurt is also a perfect base for creamy salad dressings and dips. HOME RUN: Power Smoothie Blend 1 cup low-fat yogurt, 1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries, 1 cup carrot juice, and 1 cup fresh baby spinach for a nutrient-rich blast.

0907TPC_8foods_tomatoes.jpg
3. Tomatoes – There are two things you need to know about tomatoes: Red are the best, because they’re packed with more of the antioxidant lycopene, and processed tomatoes are just as potent as fresh ones, because it’s easier for the body to absorb the lycopene. Studies show that a diet rich in lycopene can decrease your risk of bladder, lung, prostate, skin, and stomach cancers, as well as reduce the risk of coronary artery disease. Aim for 22 mg of lycopene a day, which is about eight red cherry tomatoes or a glass of tomato juice. SUBSTITUTES: Red watermelon, pink grapefruit, Japanese persimmon, papaya, guava FIT IT IN: Pile on the ketchup and Ragú; guzzle low-sodium V8 and gazpacho; double the amount of tomato paste called for in a recipe. PINCH HITTER: Red and Pink Fruit Bowl Chop 1 small watermelon, 2 grapefruits, 3 persimmons, 1 papaya, and 4 guavas. Garnish with mint.

0907TPC_8foods_carrots.jpg
4. Carrots – Most red, yellow, or orange vegetables and fruits are spiked with carotenoids—fat-soluble compounds that are associated with a reduction in a wide range of cancers, as well as reduced risk and severity of inflammatory conditions such as asthma and rheumatoid arthritis—but none are as easy to prepare, or have as low a caloric density, as carrots. Aim for ½ cup a day. SUBSTITUTES: Sweet potato, pumpkin, butternut squash, yellow bell pepper, mango FIT IT IN: Raw baby carrots, sliced raw yellow pepper, butternut squash soup, baked sweet potato, pumpkin pie, mango sorbet, carrot cake PINCH HITTER: Baked Sweet Potato Fries Scrub and dry 2 sweet potatoes. Cut each into 8 slices, and then toss with olive oil and paprika. Spread on a baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes at 350°F. Turn and bake for 10 minutes more.

0907TPC_8foods_blueberries.jpg
5. Blueberries – Host to more antioxidants than any other popular fruit, blueberries help prevent cancer, diabetes, and age-related memory changes (hence the nickname “brain berry”). Studies show that blueberries, which are rich in fiber and vitamins A and C, boost cardiovascular health. Aim for 1 cup fresh blueberries a day, or ½ cup frozen or dried. SUBSTITUTES: Açai berries, purple grapes, prunes, raisins, strawberries FIT IT IN: Blueberries maintain most of their power in dried, frozen, or jam form. PINCH HITTER: Açai, an Amazonian berry, has even more antioxidants than the blueberry. Mix 2 Tbsp. of açai powder into OJ or add 2 Tbsp. of açai pulp to cereal, yogurt, or a smoothie.

0907TPC_8foods_blackbeans.jpg
6. Black Beans – All beans are good for your heart, but none can boost your brain power like black beans. That’s because they’re full of anthocyanins, antioxidant compounds that have been shown to improve brain function. A daily ½-cup serving provides 8 grams of protein and 7.5 grams of fiber, and is low in calories and free of saturated fat. SUBSTITUTES: Peas, lentils, and pinto, kidney, fava, and lima beans FIT IT IN: Wrap black beans in a breakfast burrito; use both black beans and kidney beans in your chili; puree 1 cup black beans with ¼ cup olive oil and roasted garlic for a healthy dip; add favas, limas, or peas to pasta dishes. HOME RUN: Black Bean and Tomato Salsa Dice 4 tomatoes, 1 onion, 3 cloves garlic, 2 jalapeños, 1 yellow bell pepper, and 1 mango. Mix in a can of black beans and garnish with ½ cup chopped cilantro and the juice of 2 limes.

0907TPC_8foods_blackbeans.jpg
7. Walnuts – Richer in heart-healthy omega-3s than salmon, loaded with more anti-inflammatory polyphenols than red wine, and packing half as much muscle-building protein as chicken, the walnut sounds like a Frankenfood, but it grows on trees. Other nuts combine only one or two of these features, not all three. A serving of walnuts—about 1 ounce, or seven nuts—is good anytime, but especially as a postworkout recovery snack. SUBSTITUTES: Almonds, peanuts, pistachios, macadamia nuts, hazelnuts FIT IT IN: Sprinkle on top of salads; dice and add to pancake batter; spoon peanut butter into curries; grind and mix with olive oil to make a marinade for grilled fish or chicken. HOME RUN: Mix 1 cup walnuts with ½ cup dried blueberries and ¼ cup dark chocolate chunks.

0907TPC_8foods_oats.jpg
8. Oats – The éminence grise of health food, oats garnered the FDA’s first seal of approval. They are packed with soluble fiber, which lowers the risk of heart diseaseYes, oats are loaded with carbs, but the release of those sugars is slowed by the fiber, and because oats also have 10 grams of protein per ½-cup serving, they deliver steady muscle-building energy. SUBSTITUTES: Quinoa, flaxseed, wild rice FIT IT IN: Eat granolas and cereals that have a fiber content of at least 5 grams per serving. Sprinkle 2 Tbsp. ground flaxseed on cereals, salads, and yogurt. PINCH HITTER: Quinoa Salad Quinoa has twice the protein of most cereals, and fewer carbs. Boil 1 cup quinoa in a mixture of 1 cup pear juice and 1 cup water. Let cool. In a large bowl, toss 2 diced apples, 1 cup fresh blueberries, ½ cup chopped walnuts, and 1 cup plain fat-free yogurt.

– See more at: http://www.healthcare4me.net/8-foods-you-should-eat-daily-for-optimum-health/#sthash.8c3FCaxK.dpuf

8 Foods You Should Eat Daily for Optimum Health

8 Foods You Should Eat Daily for Optimum Health

0907TPC_8foods_main.jpg

Our tech nerdie, aka Kelly’s husband, is useful beyond words. In addition to keeping us online and in business by keeping up with all of our technical work, he also scans the web for articles that would be of interest to us. This is one of the articles he sent me last month which I think every Beauty Snob should read! I eat most of the items on the list but am now more diligent about all of it. I believe in eating only fresh foods (I do not even own a can opener and am planning to rid of my microwave!) and have raised my soon to be three year old son to love spinach and broccoli. With so many of our friends diagnosed with cancer I feel like the least we can do is control what we put in our bodies. Being youthful and beautiful is just a small perk to the health benefits you’ll receive.

foodkey.jpg

0907TPC_8foods_spinach.jpg
1. Spinach – It may be green and leafy, but spinach is also the ultimate man food. This noted biceps builder is a rich source of plant-based omega-3s and folate, which help reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, and osteoporosis. Bonus: Folate also increases blood flow to the penis. And spinach is packed with lutein, a compound that fights age-related macular degeneration. Aim for 1 cup fresh spinach or ½ cup cooked per day. SUBSTITUTES: Kale, bok choy, romaine lettuce FIT IT IN: Make your salads with spinach; add spinach to scrambled eggs; drape it over pizza; mix it with marinara sauce and then microwave for an instant dip. PINCH HITTER: Sesame Stir-Braised Kale Heat 4 cloves minced garlic, 1 Tbsp. minced fresh ginger, and 1 tsp. sesame oil in a skillet. Add 2 Tbsp. water and 1 bunch kale (stemmed and chopped). Cover and cook for 3 minutes. Drain. Add 1 tsp. soy sauce and 1 Tbsp. sesame seeds.

0907TPC_8foods_yogurt.jpg
2. Yogurt – Various cultures claim yogurt as their own creation, but the 2,000-year-old food’s health benefits are not disputed: Fermentation spawns hundreds of millions of probiotic organisms that serve as reinforcements to the battalions of beneficial bacteria in your body, which boost the immune system and provide protection against cancer. Not all yogurts are probiotic though, so make sure the label says “live and active cultures.” Aim for 1 cup of the calcium– and protein-rich goop a day. SUBSTITUTES: Kefir, soy yogurt FIT IT IN: Yogurt topped with blueberries, walnuts, flaxseed, and honey is the ultimate breakfast—ordessert. Plain low-fat yogurt is also a perfect base for creamy salad dressings and dips. HOME RUN: Power Smoothie Blend 1 cup low-fat yogurt, 1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries, 1 cup carrot juice, and 1 cup fresh baby spinach for a nutrient-rich blast.

0907TPC_8foods_tomatoes.jpg
3. Tomatoes – There are two things you need to know about tomatoes: Red are the best, because they’re packed with more of the antioxidant lycopene, and processed tomatoes are just as potent as fresh ones, because it’s easier for the body to absorb the lycopene. Studies show that a diet rich in lycopene can decrease your risk of bladder, lung, prostate, skin, and stomach cancers, as well as reduce the risk of coronary artery disease. Aim for 22 mg of lycopene a day, which is about eight red cherry tomatoes or a glass of tomato juice. SUBSTITUTES: Red watermelon, pink grapefruit, Japanese persimmon, papaya, guava FIT IT IN: Pile on the ketchup and Ragú; guzzle low-sodium V8 and gazpacho; double the amount of tomato paste called for in a recipe. PINCH HITTER: Red and Pink Fruit Bowl Chop 1 small watermelon, 2 grapefruits, 3 persimmons, 1 papaya, and 4 guavas. Garnish with mint.

0907TPC_8foods_carrots.jpg
4. Carrots – Most red, yellow, or orange vegetables and fruits are spiked with carotenoids—fat-soluble compounds that are associated with a reduction in a wide range of cancers, as well as reduced risk and severity of inflammatory conditions such as asthma and rheumatoid arthritis—but none are as easy to prepare, or have as low a caloric density, as carrots. Aim for ½ cup a day. SUBSTITUTES: Sweet potato, pumpkin, butternut squash, yellow bell pepper, mango FIT IT IN: Raw baby carrots, sliced raw yellow pepper, butternut squash soup, baked sweet potato, pumpkin pie, mango sorbet, carrot cake PINCH HITTER: Baked Sweet Potato Fries Scrub and dry 2 sweet potatoes. Cut each into 8 slices, and then toss with olive oil and paprika. Spread on a baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes at 350°F. Turn and bake for 10 minutes more.

0907TPC_8foods_blueberries.jpg
5. Blueberries – Host to more antioxidants than any other popular fruit, blueberries help prevent cancer, diabetes, and age-related memory changes (hence the nickname “brain berry”). Studies show that blueberries, which are rich in fiber and vitamins A and C, boost cardiovascular health. Aim for 1 cup fresh blueberries a day, or ½ cup frozen or dried. SUBSTITUTES: Açai berries, purple grapes, prunes, raisins, strawberries FIT IT IN: Blueberries maintain most of their power in dried, frozen, or jam form. PINCH HITTER: Açai, an Amazonian berry, has even more antioxidants than the blueberry. Mix 2 Tbsp. of açai powder into OJ or add 2 Tbsp. of açai pulp to cereal, yogurt, or a smoothie.

0907TPC_8foods_blackbeans.jpg
6. Black Beans – All beans are good for your heart, but none can boost your brain power like black beans. That’s because they’re full of anthocyanins, antioxidant compounds that have been shown to improve brain function. A daily ½-cup serving provides 8 grams of protein and 7.5 grams of fiber, and is low in calories and free of saturated fat. SUBSTITUTES: Peas, lentils, and pinto, kidney, fava, and lima beans FIT IT IN: Wrap black beans in a breakfast burrito; use both black beans and kidney beans in your chili; puree 1 cup black beans with ¼ cup olive oil and roasted garlic for a healthy dip; add favas, limas, or peas to pasta dishes. HOME RUN: Black Bean and Tomato Salsa Dice 4 tomatoes, 1 onion, 3 cloves garlic, 2 jalapeños, 1 yellow bell pepper, and 1 mango. Mix in a can of black beans and garnish with ½ cup chopped cilantro and the juice of 2 limes.

0907TPC_8foods_blackbeans.jpg
7. Walnuts – Richer in heart-healthy omega-3s than salmon, loaded with more anti-inflammatory polyphenols than red wine, and packing half as much muscle-building protein as chicken, the walnut sounds like a Frankenfood, but it grows on trees. Other nuts combine only one or two of these features, not all three. A serving of walnuts—about 1 ounce, or seven nuts—is good anytime, but especially as a postworkout recovery snack. SUBSTITUTES: Almonds, peanuts, pistachios, macadamia nuts, hazelnuts FIT IT IN: Sprinkle on top of salads; dice and add to pancake batter; spoon peanut butter into curries; grind and mix with olive oil to make a marinade for grilled fish or chicken. HOME RUN: Mix 1 cup walnuts with ½ cup dried blueberries and ¼ cup dark chocolate chunks.

0907TPC_8foods_oats.jpg
8. Oats – The éminence grise of health food, oats garnered the FDA’s first seal of approval. They are packed with soluble fiber, which lowers the risk of heart diseaseYes, oats are loaded with carbs, but the release of those sugars is slowed by the fiber, and because oats also have 10 grams of protein per ½-cup serving, they deliver steady muscle-building energy. SUBSTITUTES: Quinoa, flaxseed, wild rice FIT IT IN: Eat granolas and cereals that have a fiber content of at least 5 grams per serving. Sprinkle 2 Tbsp. ground flaxseed on cereals, salads, and yogurt. PINCH HITTER: Quinoa Salad Quinoa has twice the protein of most cereals, and fewer carbs. Boil 1 cup quinoa in a mixture of 1 cup pear juice and 1 cup water. Let cool. In a large bowl, toss 2 diced apples, 1 cup fresh blueberries, ½ cup chopped walnuts, and 1 cup plain fat-free yogurt.

– See more at: http://www.healthcare4me.net/8-foods-you-should-eat-daily-for-optimum-health/#sthash.YqBRIp55.dpuf