The Power of Fruits and Vegetables!

The obesity epidemic is growing out of hand with its constant growing numbers in not only the United States, but all over the world! People are resorting more to fast food, highly processed, high fat meals that offer very little nutritional value and very high calories. Etfullyrawher it is a financial excuse, lack of time or energy, or even lack of access to fresh fruits and vegetables. Every population has a different excuse based on numerous factors that impact their food choices. However, it is important to note that we LIVE in our bodies! Just like we all live in houses that we must maintain in order to keep using on a daily basis, our bodies are essentially our house where WE live, grow, and thrive! Our health is priceless and when I hear people complaining about the high price of food and I even sometimes do this, I remember that where else am I going to be spending my money. Your income should go to the most important and crucial aspects of your life that can sustain your living. Living utilities, rent, schooling, insurance, taxes, and food. If money is an issue for you, than I suggest making sure that the food you buy is the best quality and skipping on other things like expensive clothing/technology because these things can all go away but your body stays with you forever. Once you have hurt you body and diminished your health, then it is extremely difficult to get it back to where it was originally.

There are many studies that suggest that eating 5 or more serving of fruits and vegetables evebaskets of fruitryday can promote longevity for your health, decrease your chance of developing cardiovascular disease, and decrease your chance of obesity. Not only do fruits and vegetables contain many essential vitamins and nutrients for the body, the are also full of fiber and simple sugars that are easily digested by the body to cleanse it and provide it with sustainable energy. According to a study conducted by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the sugar found in fruits can actually help those with diabetes!

There are many studies that also suggest that the antioxidants found in berries are linked with properties that help fight cancer cells in the human body. The phytonutrient that gives blueberries their blue color  and its health benefits is called anthocyanin and itBerriess is known especially to improve memory, motor skills, and age related degenerative diseases. In addition, berries are bursting with vitamins A, K, manganese, and C. Raspberries contain a ketone called capsaicin which inhibits the growth of cancer cells. So eat up those red rubies 😉

There are many ways to incorporate fruits and vegetables into your diet. YOU must be willing to change the way you eat. Once you cut out the unnecessary junk in your diet, you will start to appreciate natures most valuable possessions, the pure tastes of fruits and vegetables. Once you reduce your intake of added sugars, you will appreciate the fragrant sugars present in fruits and the tender crispness of a broccoli. Drinking smoothies and juices, eating fruit salads, raw fruit, cooked or raw vegetables, any way consumed, the benefits of fruits and vegetables are countless.

I suggest checking out FullyRaw Kristina, a fruit and vegetable “celebrity”. She is a raw vegan, meaning she ONLY consumes raw fruits and vegetables. No meat, dairy, grains, or anything cokristinaoked. She is truly inspiring and encouraging people everyday to consume more of the colorful beauty  nature has to offer. She is simply BEAUTIFUL! ❤ Check out her YouTube channel where she talks about how she does this, how to overcome obstacles while consuming this kind of diet, and for AMAZING recipes!

Here is her FullyRaw Sunburst juice that is packed with vitamins A, K, C and helps with inflammation, arthritis, acne, digestion, and migraines.

Ingredients:fullyraw
1-2 Large Pineapples, Sliced
5-7 Pink Lady for Fuji Apples
Juice of 7 Oranges
Juice of 1 Lemon
3-4 Leaves of Kale

Run all ingredients through your juicer, strain, and enjoy!

Check out the chart below for all the wonderful benefits of fruits and vegetables!

 Fruit/

vegetable

Benefit benefit benefit
Pineapple Speeds post-surgery Promotes joint health Reduces asthma inflammation
Blueberries Restore antioxidant levels Reverse age-related brain decline Prevent urinary tract infection
Spinach Helps maintain mental sharpness Reduces the risk of cancers of the liver, ovaries, colon and prostate Top nutrient density
Red Bell Pepper Reduces risk of lung, prostate, ovarian and cervical cancer Protects against sunburn Promotes heart health
Broccoli Reduces diabetic damage Lowers risk of prostate, bladder, colon, pancreatic, gastric and breast cancer Protects the brain in event of injury
Tomato Reduces inflammation Lowers risk of developing esophageal, stomach, colorectal, lung and pancreatic cancer Reduces cardiovascular disease risk
Apple Supports immunity Fights lung and prostate cancer Lowers Alzheimer’s risk
Artichoke Helps blood clotting Antioxidant Superfood Lowers “bad” cholesterol
Arugula Lowers birth defect risk Reduces fracture risk Protects eye health
Asparagus Nourishes good gut bacteria Protects against birth defects Promotes heart health
Avocado Limits liver damage Reduces oral cancer risk Lowers cholesterol levels
Blackberries Build bone density Suppress appetite Enhance fat burning
Butternut Squash Supports night vision Combats wrinkles Promotes heart health
Cantaloupe Bolsters immunity Protects skin against sunburn Reduces inflammation
Carrot Antioxidants defend DNA Fights cataracts Protects against some cancers
Cauliflower Stimulates detoxification Suppresses breast cancer cell growth Defends against prostate cancer
Cherries Alleviate arthritic pain and gout Lower “bad” cholesterol Reduce inflammation
Cranberries Alleviate prostate pain Fight lung, colon and leukemia cancer cells Prevent urinary tract infection
Green Cabbage Promotes healthy blood clotting Reduces risk of prostate, colon, breast and ovarian cancers Activates the body’s natural detoxification systems
Kale Counters harmful estrogens that can feed cancer Protects eyes against sun damage and cataracts Increases bone density
Kiwi Combats wrinkles Lowers blood clot risk and reduces blood lipids Counters constipation
Mango Supports immunity Lowers “bad” cholesterol Regulates homocysteine to protect arteries
Mushrooms Promote natural detoxification Reduce the risk of colon and prostate cancer Lower blood pressure
Orange Reduces levels of “bad” cholesterol Lowers risk of cancers of the mouth, throat, breast and stomach, and childhood leukemia Pectin suppresses appetite
Papaya Enzymes aid digestion Reduces risk of lung cancer Enhances fat burning
Plums & Prunes Counter constipation Antioxidants defend against DNA damage Protects against post-menopausal bone loss
Pomegranate Enhances sunscreen protection Lowers “bad” cholesterol Fights prostate cancer
Pumpkin Protects joints against polyarthritis Lowers lung and prostate cancer risk Reduces inflammation
Raspberries Inhibit growth of oral, breast, colon and prostate cancers Antioxidant DNA defense Lower “bad” cholesterol levels
Strawberries Protect against Alzheimer’s Reduce “bad” cholesterol Suppress growth of colon, prostate and oral cancer
Sweet Potato Reduces stroke risk Lowers cancer risk Protect against blindness
Watermelon Supports male fertility Reduces risk of several cancers: prostate, ovarian, cervical, oral and pharyngeal Protects skin against sunburn
Banana Increases Fat Burning Lowers risk of colorectal and kidney cancer, leukemia Reduces asthmas symptoms in children
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Middle Eastern Cuisine

Growing up with middle eastern decent, I am used to eating a “mediterranean diet” or essentially a diet rich in meats, grains, vegetables, fruits, and olive oistewl being my primary source of fat. Arabs, Persians, and Turks enjoy eating different kinds of stews made with vegetables like okra, grean beans, black eyed peas, and cannilini beans with juicy chunks of lamb over rice. This is a staple household meal that is loved by many because it encompasses all the facets of being a full complete wholesome meal.

Dolmas: A very common mediterranean food staple, literarily meaning stuffed. Dolmas can range from stuffed grapevine leaves, eggplant, peppers, tomatoes, zucchini, cabbage, and many MORE! We LOVE stuffing anything we can get our hands into and most often the stuffing we use is a mixture of rice and fresh herbs, olive oil, lemon, spices, and maybe sometimes even ground meat. One of my absolute favorites are the yaprak dolmas, or the stuffed grapevine leaves because I love their tanginess and bright crips flavor from the pomegranate molasses. The grapevi11127921_10205617895219213_1729295803_nne leaves are very labor intensive and require lots of time to make, but they are absolutely worth it. It is traditional and thought of to be stress relieving when making dolmas because ladies get together to chat and catch up all while rolling up approximately 100’s of these 11145937_10205617895659224_752150641_ntiny dolmas. I know I help my mom a plenty when doing this;)

Salads are another food staple for almost any dinner table and they range from an extremelytabouli simple tomato cucumber salad with olive oil and lemon to more elaborate salads like fatoush, tabbouli, and the famous Turkish patlicanli salatasi. Our salads are colorful and hearty and often times enhanced by patlican_salatasibright flavors of mint, lemon, and drizzled with olive oil.

Kebabs- we love eating meat…thats an understatement actually. It would almost be a sin for any Arab to be vegetarian because our cuisine revolves around meat…kebabs, koftes, and used as a stuffing. Theres nothing better than a family barbecue that includes big juicy chunks of lamb marinated and grilled to perfection and heavily spiced beef koftes.

Grains- Rice, couscous, and bulgur are the most commonly used grains in the Middle Eastern cuisine. Rice types vary based on the meal, but the most popular is the basmati because of how light and fluffy it is making it applicable and appropriate to use with a wide variety of dishes. Couscous is consumed more by the Moroccans and Tunisians as they treat this fragile grain as rice. However, couscous can also be consumed as a sweet dish and is known in Egypt as dessert that is cooked and sautéed in butter and topped with sugar, cinnamon, nuts, and raisins. Bulgur is another versatile grain and is actually one of the most nutritious because of its high fiber content kisirand whole grain qualities.

It is often used in the Kisir, turkish salad that mixes bulgur with red pepper paste, onions, pomegranate molasses, lemon, olive oil, tomatoes, and parsley. In addition it is also the primary ingredient in the famous tabouli salad. This  grain is also cooked plain and consumed with stews, vegetables, as a side to kofte and kebabs, and many more.

Spices- We love using plenty of spices in our food and nothing more is despised by Arabs than bland food. Lemony zaaterZaatar_1024x1024, fragrant cumin, and enticing sumac are some of the most common spices used in our cuisine. In addition, we also use chili powder, red pepper flakes, and paprika. The use of these spices when added to a couple of ingredients can make a meal incredibly flavor despite its simplicity. Try drizzling some olive oil on pita bread and sprinkling zaater on top and place in the oven for 5 minutes for a delicious mezze/ light lunch known as a “manoush” and be prepared for an incredibly delicious explosion of flavors in your mouth! 😉

Dairy Products- we love a wide variety of dairy products and even drink a form of minty milk known as Persian doogh with our meals. Using fresh and the best quality dairy products is crucial to obtaining the best flavor. In creating labnah, a Lebanese dip labnehmade from cream04-Doogh-salty-yogurt-drink-Bamiyan-Afghan and topped with olive oil, olives, and more zaater (picture to the left). The Persian doogh is made from yogurt that has been watered down and mixed with dried mint(picture to the right). In addition, we also LOVE our feta cheese and use it for everything. Added to salads, sandwiches, a breakfast staple, and even sometimes on pizzas. We love yogurt so much and often times eat it plain as a side with many of our foods because of its ability to clean the palate and make and cut down through any grease/ heaviness that can be present. In fact, the CEO of  Chobani, the # 1 selling greek yogurt brand in America, is a Turkish man who grew up on a farm and wanted to bring the authenticity of yogurt to America!

With any cuisine and with any food, it is important to keep in mind that MODERATION is key! Yes you can eat red meat, grains, dairy, and fat. The most important thing is to enjoy the food with those you love. Its about enjoying the food in the presence of loved ones or in the case of yaprak, rolling the dolmas with those yokebabu love 😉 The Middle Eastern cuisine features some of the most beautiful combinations of food and spices the are enticing and fragrant. This cuisine is actually very heart healthy and low in fat because of our frequent use of olive oil as our choice of fat. We love making vegetable stews, eating plentiful of meats that are grilled and eating hearty grains like bulgur.

Here is a recipe for one of my favorite salads ever! It is is called Kisir, a Turkish bulgur salad, that makes a wonderful side to fish, chicken, kebabs, or even served in lettuce leaves as a mezze! This salad is high in fiber, protein, heart healthy fats, and plenty of nutrients from the vegetables! Hearty, tangy, and delicious! Afiyet Olsun as the Turks would say 😉

Kisirportakalagaci-kisir

ingredients:

2 Cups of Bulgur

2 cups hot water

2 tablespoons tomato paste

2 tablespoons red pepper paste

1 teaspoon red peper flakes

2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses

4 tablespoons olive oil

4 tomatoes

4 green onions

1 medium yellow onion

salt & pepper

juice of 2 lemons

Directions:

Mix the bulgur wheat, salt, ground black pepper, red pepper flakes, tomato paste, red pepper paste and the chopped onion and mix very well. Pour the hot water over this mixture and stir, then leave to stand for about 15 minutes. It should absorb all the water by the end of this period. The bulgur should be of a dry consistency. Add the lemon juice and the pomegranate syrup together with the extra virgin olive oil and mix well again. Stir in the remaining ingredients and combine thoroughly.

Check out Maureen Abood’s blog, an American- Lebanese who posts delicious authentic Lebanese/ Middle Eastern recipes!

Demystifying Sugar

SUGAR, fructose, lactose, glucose, Splenda, High Fructose Corn Syrup, brown sugar….are you confused yet?! Unfsugar22lf2ortunately, we live in a time and era where we are constantly bombarded with many different types of sugars and different names of sugars. Is sugar even necessary in our diet? How much sugar should we be consuming? What kind of sugar is bad for me? What kind of sugar is good for me? All these questions are pondered and disputed by many people. It’s important to remember that one thing is absolutely true and accounts for everything. NOTHING in excess and everything in MODERATION! You’re not going to become obese if you eat the cupcake and you’re not turning into a model if you eat the apple. Rather, it’s the overall big picture of your diet.

bright and colorful easter cookiesIs the majority of your sugar intake coming from highly processed refined carbohydrates? (i.e. packaged cakes, cookies, crackers) Or is it coming from fruitryu8RZQ, milk, and natural sweeteners? Even if the cookie has as many calories as the fruit bowl, it is important to thoroughly evaluate the food not just based on its caloric stance. But rather, the nutrients present. Fruits come with the added benefit of being full of fiber and many WONDERFUL and vital nutrients that can transform you body and nourish it to help it glow from the inside out. With the processed cookies, cakes, and crackers they often times comes with an abundance of bad fat that can cause us to become obese and put as at a risk for developing cardiovascular disease if consumed in excess amounts. In addition, these highly processed foods also come with the addition of many ingredients, preservatives, and additives that are foreign to our bodies and completely unnecessary.

Glucose:

Glucose is the name of the simple sugar that is present in fruits, vegetables, honey, and corn syrup. Also known as dextrose, it is used in the industry in baked goods, cake mixes, custards, sherbet, candies, and beverages.

Fructose:

Fructose is the name of the sugar present in fruits and honey and many plants. This kind of sugar is rarely used in the food industry and is known to be the most dominant kind of sugar in plants. High Fructose Corn Syrup is NOT fructose but rather it is glucose(simple sugar) derived from corn starch and used commercially in baked goods, fruit drinks, jams & jellies, table syrups, baby food and many others. It is often times confusing because most people think that they are the same thing when they are not. HFCS starts out being 50% glucose and 40% fructose, but the fructose is turned into glucose through an elaborate process adapted by the food industry creating its deceiving name.

Lactose:

Lactose is the sugar present in milk products and it is a very sensitive kind of sugar that many people cannot digest causing the Lactose intolerance craze. For use in commercial baked goods, it is often times extracted from whey for its use.

Brown Sugar

Refuting the popular disbelief that brown sugar is healthier than regular sugar, there is not a single piece of evidence to support this idea. Most people tend to believe that anything brown is better than white…white vs. brown bread and pasta, etc. However, in this case with brown sugar, the brown color comes from the high molasses content present.

Honey

Being primclippoohbeeshoneyarily composed of the fructose sugar, honey has been regarded as a super food because of its adaptability for many purposes. A food that nourishes from the inside out, its high antibacterial properties and many beneficial nutrients that are present make it a food that can cure anything from a sore throat to dry hair. With all the many different varieties and uses, it is regarded to as one of the most popular sweetners.

Splenda

Splenda is the commercial Splendaname for Sucralose, a sugar that our bodies cannot digest therefore making it zero to very little calories. It is about 100 times more sweeter than regular sugar, which is why you only need one packet of Splenda to put in your Starbucks coffee versus the six packets of sugar you’re used to putting. It is also used in many diet, sugar-free, zero, and lower sugar items in the food industry. Although there isn’t enough evidence, but some studies link this noncaloric sugar with an increased risk for obesity and other nutrition related disorders.

How Much Sugar?

According to the American Heart Association, for women sugar should be limited to 25 grams per day(6 teaspoons) and for men 37.5 grams(9 teaspoons). While these are the numbers to stick by, it is important to remember that moderation and flexibility is the most important concept to grasp. No one is perfect and there will be some days where you will scarf down an entire stack of 6 Oreos! We are only human and this is normal, but the important thing to remember is that if you over do it one day, then you watch what you eat the next. In addition to exercise and living a smoke free life with capability of reducing stress, this will truly yield a healthy body.

Mornings

Every Morning, right when I open my eyes before I even get out of bed, I like to start my day with adjusting my mind to become acquainted with the idea that I have everything in me to have an AMAZING day. I may not be able to control every single detail and aspect of my day, but what I know I can do is that I can adjust my thoughts because they are in my brain. Only I have the ability to control the kind of attitude and state of mind to that is going to be setting the tone of not only my day, but also my life. Mornings are also a time for peace and quiet and taking time out for yourself. I really feel bad for the people that walk up 20 minutes before they need to be somewhere and are rushed into getting out the door ASAP. I feel it is necessary to take time out for yourself in the morning to make11079134_10205510408092102_1471045113_n some breakfast and a cup of joe 😉

11083029_10205510407172079_1665739143_nEnjoying a big mug of french vanilla coffee with my raspberry honey oatmeal in the morning is a must. Leaving me warm, satisfied, and nourished, I call this bowl my wake-me-up bear hug 😉 While devouring that, I listen to my favorite french radio channel on my mac,while checking up on the news and what is going on in the world. Then its time to get dressed and I’m out the door to start a day at PSU full of classes.

11096907_10205510406692067_1145318560_nSo slow down a little and make yourself a healthy breakfast that will nourish you throughout the day 😉 Have a beautiful morning! ❤

gratitude

Raspberry-Honey Oatmeal

Yields:1

Ingredients

1/2 cup old fashioned oats

3/4 cup of unsweetened vanilla almond milk *

Tablespoon of natural almond butter*

Tablespoon of 100% pure clover honey

Cinnamon

1/2 cup fresh raspberries

*any kind of milk of your choice is ok  (cows milk, coconut, cashew, rice)

*Feel free to substitute with your favorite nut butter of choice-just make sure its natural

Directions:

Place oats and almond milk on high heat covered in a pan. Wait about 1 minute until it starts boiling to uncover and gradually keep stirring so that the oats can absorb the liquid. Take the heat down to medium high and keep covered for another 1 minute. Uncover and add a dash of cinnamon to your taste and stir rapidly to make sure it is well combined. Turn off the heat and transfer to your favorite bowl and while it is still hot, add a tablespoon of the almond butter so that the heat of the oats can slightly melt it. Top with your raspberries and drizzle your honey. Serve and enjoy.

Welcome!

My name is Shouk and I am a student at Penn State University studying Nutrition/ Dietetics. I LOVE to love as my name in arabic actually meanveggiess to long for love! love everything and try to see the beauty in all that I encounter on my journey throughout life.My passion for inspiring others to obtain living brighter days through improving their diet and mental being has lead me start this blog to share bits and pieces of my healthy balanced life. Throughout my blog, I will aim to show you how to connect your mind and body together with your spirit to lead a positive life and achieve your goals. A healthy body is a successful one is my motto 😉