Monthly Archives: December 2013

Boosting Life Choices: Broccoli


Creamy Broccoli Soup with Croutons

Creamy Broccoli Soup with Croutons


  • 2 large (1 3/4 pounds each) heads broccoli, stems peeled
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 quart low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 4 cups water
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • Bite-size croutons, for serving


Separate the broccoli stems from the heads. Measure out 3 cups of small florets and reserve. Coarsely chop the remaining broccoli. In a large pot, melt the butter in 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Add the onion, cover and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the coarsely chopped broccoli to the pot along with the broth and water and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer over low heat until the broccoli is tender, about 20 minutes. Add 2 cups of the reserved florets, cover and simmer until barely tender, about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a small skillet, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the remaining 1 cup of florets and season with salt and pepper. Cover and cook over moderate heat until richly browned, about 6 minutes.

Working in batches, puree the soup in a blender until very smooth. Transfer the soup to a clean saucepan. Stir in the cream and milk and bring to a simmer over moderate heat, stirring a few times. Season the soup with salt and pepper and ladle into bowls. Garnish with the sautéed florets and croutons and serve.

Boosting Life Choices: Broccoli

Stalk trouble before it strikes. Broccoli is one of the true superstars of the produce bin and is one of the most healthful foods you can eat—a real nutritional powerhouse. It’s a member in good standing of the crucifer family of vegetable. It has a rich supply of vitamins and minerals–notably beta-carotene, vitamin C, folate (folic acid), and potassium–and contains the phytochemical sulforaphane, which helps reduce the risk of cancer. At least one study suggests that you can get the most anticancer power from broccoli by eating it raw, so cover all bases by enjoying it both cooked and au naturel.

And broccoli is a great source of bone-building calcium, which can reduce your chances of developing osteoporosis. And it gives the overweight a diet boost by being both low in calories and high in hunger-satisfying fiber.

Broccoli is rich in potassium, a mineral that’s credited with a lowered incidence of high blood pressure and stroke. Its high fiber content also helps lower cholesterol, which—along with the green giant’s low sodium and fat levels—lowers the risk of heart disease. Preliminary studies suggest that the vitamin C in produce such as broccoli may even head off heart disease before it starts by protecting against free radicals, unstable molecules thought to transform cholesterol into building blocks of artery-clogging plaque. Unless you drown it in cheese sauce, broccoli is (like all green vegetables) low in calories and virtually fat-free.

A close relative of cauliflower, broccoli has grown wild in Mediterranean areas for hundreds of years; domestic broccoli was first cultivated in the United States in the Twenties. Since then, it has become one of the best-selling members of the Brassica genus (which also includes cabbage, Brussels sprouts, and other so-called cruciferous vegetables).


The most common type of broccoli sold in the U.S. is called sprouting, or Italian green, broccoli; its light-green stalks are topped by umbrella-shaped clusters of purplish-green florets. It is also known as Calabrese, after the Italian province of Calabria, where it was first grown.

Other broccoli options are:

Broccolini: a cross between broccoli and Chinese kale.

Broccoflower: a cross between broccoli and cauliflower comes in a single large head, like cauliflower, but is green rather than white.

Broccoli sprouts: a particularly concentrated source of sulforaphane. They’re expensive, but a little goes a long way.


Boosting Life Choices: Greek Yogurt


greek yogurt smoothie

Greek Yogurt Smoothie

•6 ounces Blueberry Greek Yogurt

•1 banana

•4 frozen strawberries

•1/4 cup cold water

•4 ice cubes

Combine all ingredients, blend on high until smooth.

Boosting Life Choices: Greek Yogurt

How many times have you said, or heard anyone else say “healthy foods are either too expensive or don’t taste good”? We all want to be health conscious and for the most part try to be. However, even in the best of intentions it either comes down to the taste or the expense for some. What if I told you that there’s something out there that not only tastes great, comes in a variety of flavors, but is also very inexpensive? Something that you can get great health benefits from as well as lose weight? Would you try it?

Greek yogurt is high in protein, lower in carbs, and lower in sodium content than regular yogurt. Studies have shown that people who ate just 3 servings of fat-free Greek yogurt daily lost 22% more weight and 66% more body fat than those who just cut calories.

Yogurt promotes vaginal health, intestinal heath, enhances immunity, & lowers blood pressure. Greek yogurt has “friendly bacteria”. This friendly bacteria is a probiotic that is found in foods such as yogurt, that help strengthen the immune system. Probiotic means “for life”. Yogurt is the most probiotic containing food out there.

Women who get yeast infections can benefit from this bacteria. People suffering from ulcers can also get relief from the healthy bacteria in Greek yogurt. Don’t get me wrong, you should still take the medications prescribed by your doctor but adding Greek yogurt to your diet will also aid in not only healing the ulcer or yeast infection but help keep any recurrence at bay. However, be sure to talk to your doctor about any medical conditions you may have and eating any kind of yogurt.

According to the Center for Applied Special Technology, there are studies to see if probiotics can help in preventing kidney stones, treating infectious diarrhea and diarrhea in children in third world countries. There’s an article in which states that probiotics in Greek yogurt is a powerful agent in fighting chronic pain. It is also a great source of Vitamin D…if you’re like me and don’t like to be out in the sun that much this is a great alternative.

Greek Yogurt has been around for thousands of years. In Greece, newlyweds eat yogurt with walnuts and honey for prosperity. They also believe it’s an aphrodisiac.

There are many varieties & flavors of Greek yogurt available in our grocery stores, health food stores, even in gas stations. For those who would like to make their own at home try There are other great starters on that site as well.

So, I challenge those that, like myself… used to say “healthy foods don’t taste good or are too expensive”, go out and try this creamy, sweet, and delicious snack for all the health benefits it provides. Lose weight and gain a healthier immune system.

Boosting Life Choices: Lychee



Strawberry, Lychee & Mint Smoothie
makes 2 cups
(can be adapted for kids 6+ months)*

10 frozen strawberries**
8 lychees, from a can of lychees packed in syrup
10 mint leaves
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 cup lychee syrup, from the can
ice cubes (optional)

Add all of the ingredients to a blender and blend on high until smooth. If the drink is too thin or doesn’t get as frosty as you like, add a couple of ice cubes and blend again until smooth. Serve cold.

*Note: If serving to beginner eaters, consider reducing the sugar content by cutting out the sugar and/or reducing the syrup. If you need to thin the smoothie, water will work well without adding sugar. Do not use honey as a substitute for children under 12-months-old due to risk of botulism. If you have concerns about feeding strawberries to children under one, read more about introducing high-allergen foods here.

**Note: You can substitute fresh berries but, if they are not at peak ripeness/sweetness, the smoothie may be tart; you can add more sugar and/or syrup to taste. You’ll also need to use as many as 8-10 ice cubes to make it frosty and thick.

– See more at:

Boosting Life Choices: Lychee

Lychee fruit is found in tropical and subtropical regions like China, South Asia, Taiwan, and Bangladesh. Recently being cultivated in Hawaii, California and Florida. This fruit has a floral scent and sweet flavor. It packs a powerful punch with its high content of Vitamin C. Lychee contains 72 grams of Vitamin C per 100 grams of fruit. A cup of this fruit also provides; potassium, phosphorus and copper. It is low on saturated fat and sodium as well as being cholesterol free.

A recent study in China found that the antioxidants found in lychee may prevent breast cancer and reduce the formation of cancer cells. In China lychee skin is used in tea to help with diarrhea, and the seeds are used to help nerve pain and inflammation.

The high content of iron in lychee is beneficial for preventing anemia because its beneficial fo hemoglobin levels in the blood,

Protects from heart disease by helping reduce the LDL (bad cholesterol)

Lychees are good for cardiovascular health by helping to reduce bad cholesterol (LDL) and increase good cholesterol (HDL) levels in the body. This reduces the risk of heart disease by increasing blood flow to the heart.

Boosts immunity, as it is packed with Vitamin C helping to fight colds, flu and other infections.

Boosts metabolism, due to having a big amount of Vitamin B, thiamin, niacin and folate.

Studies have shown that foods high in antioxidants will lower blood pressure. The potassium found in lychee will also help maintain sodium levels and balance electrolytes in our bodies.

As with anything, you should consult with your doctor when including something new in your diet to make sure that it doesn’t contraindicate with any medical conditions you may have.

Boosting Life Choices: Bran


Quinoa Bran Pilaf

Quinoa Bran Pilaf with Raisins and Simple Green Salad


  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup quinoa, washed
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 red onion, finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3/4 cup bran cereal
  • 2 cups chopped romaine lettuce leaves
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1/2 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil


In a large saucepan, bring the water to a boil. Add the quinoa, cover, and simmer 15 minutes, or until cooked through.

In a large sauté pan, warm 1 tablespoon of olive oil until shimmering. Add the onions, garlic, curry powder, and cinnamon. Stir and cook until the onions are soft and start to brown. Stir in the raisins. Season with salt and pepper. Cook for 1 more minute. Turn off the heat. Add the cooked quinoa to the onions. Add the cereal, crushing lightly in your hands. Stir well.

To make the salad dressing: Whisk together the lemon juice and brown sugar. Whisk in the olive oil. Season the dressing with salt, and pepper, to taste. Toss the romaine leaves with the dressing to coat evenly.

Serve with the pilaf warm with the salad on the side.

Boosting Life Choices: Bran

Full of fiber. The bran news is good. All types of bran are wonderful sources of both insoluble and soluble fiber. And each type of fiber has potent health-promoting strengths.

Bran, also known as miller’s bran, is the hard outer layers of cereal grain. It consists of the combined aleurone and pericarp. Along with germ, it is an integral part of whole grains, and is often produced as a by-product of milling in the production of refined grains. When bran is removed from grains, the grains lose a portion of their nutritional value. Bran is present in and may be milled from any cereal grain, including rice, corn (maize), wheat, oats, barley and millet. Bran should not be confused with chaff, which is coarser scaly material surrounding the grain, but not forming part of the grain itself.

Insoluble fiber, the kind prominent in wheat bran, bulks up stool and speeds it through the colon. Experts theorize that cancer-causing agents are swept quickly away with the stool. It’s also this bulking action that may help relieve constipation, hemorrhoids, and diverticular disease.

In addition, at least one study has shown that adding wheat bran to the diet may shrink precancerous polyps in the lower intestine, reducing the risk of colon and rectal cancers.

Soluble fiber—found in outstanding quantities in oat, corn, and rice brans and soy fiber—is the hero when it comes to lowering cholesterol. Oat bran has gotten the most notice on this front, with numerous studies by Dr. James Anderson, a leading fiber researcher, and others showing impressive cholesterol-busting results. Likewise, studies with rice and corn brans indicate they have a similar effect on cholesterol.

Soy fiber may improve glucose tolerance and insulin response in people with adult-onset (type II) diabetes. And it seems to keep the bowels working at good speed, as wheat bran does. Another product, apple fiber, contains even more fiber than oat bran and may also be valuable for lowering cholesterol.

Boosting Life Choices: Blueberries


blueberry parfait

Blueberry Yogurt Parfait

This beautiful parfait tastes so much richer than it is. You can serve it for breakfast or for dessert. Look for organic yogurt that has no thickeners or gums added to it.

  • 2 cups blueberries
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
  • 2 cups drained low-fat yogurt or low-fat Greek style yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon shelled pistachios, finely chopped

1. Combine the blueberries, sugar, lime juice and balsamic vinegar in a medium saucepan, and bring to a boil over medium heat. Cook for five to 10 minutes, until the liquid is reduced and the blueberries have cooked down to a jam-like consistency. Allow to cool. You should have about 1 cup of thick, jammy sauce.

2. Spoon 1/4 cup thick yogurt into the bottom of each of 4 tumblers or parfait glasses. Top with 2 tablespoons of the blueberry sauce. Make another 1/4 cup layer of yogurt on top of the blueberry sauce, and finish with another 2 tablespoon-layer of blueberry sauce. Cover tightly and chill for at least 1 hour. Just before serving, sprinkle finely chopped pistachios over the top.

Yield: Serves four.

Advance preparation: The assembled parfaits will hold in the refrigerator for a day. Sprinkle on the pistachios just before serving.

Boosting Life Choices: Blueberries

Diet delights. Reach for a bit of blue heaven. For the 82 calories in a cup of blueberries, you get about one-third of the RDA for vitamin C and 3.4 grams of fiber. There’s a tiny amount of sodium, a modest level of potassium, and just a trace of fat. All of which adds up to a berry wise choice at the produce counter.

Blueberries are good news all the way. These delicious berries contain more disease-fighting, age-proofing antioxidants than practically any other fruit or vegetable, even powerhouses such as kale, broccoli, and oranges. In fact, blueberries were at the top of the list of 40 fruits and vegetables tested for their antioxidant potential. The group of substances that put the “blue” in blueberry–anthocyanins–is probably responsible for much of the fruit’s antioxidant power. Blueberries (like other berries such as blackberries) also contain ellagic acid, which has been shown to have anti-cancer properties. Blueberries also boast a high fiber content; and much of that fiber is pectin, a soluble fiber that helps lower cholesterol levels.

Cultivated blueberries: This is the variety you see most often in the supermarket. The marble-size berries are round and plump, with a deep blue color and whitish “bloom” (a dusty-looking surface).

Wild blueberries: These are far rarer. You may find them sold fresh locally (they grow in cool climates such as Maine and eastern Canada), but more often they are available canned or frozen. They are much smaller than the cultivated variety–there are 1,600 wild blueberries to the pound, compared to 500 cultivated blueberries–and have a chewy, dense texture and deep flavor. Because you get more blueberries to the pound, ounce for ounce wild blueberries provide more of the skin (which is where the blueberry’s color compounds live). One side effect of this is that you’ll get blue lips and teeth from eating a pie made with wild blueberries, but you will also be getting a much higher dose of anthocyanins.

Dried blueberries: These are available in specialty food markets and can be used much as you would raisins. Like all dried fruit, they provide a concentration of the whole fruit’s nutrients–in this case, they are a particularly rich source of anthocyanins.

Boosting Life Choices: Turnips



When I was a kid my mom had only one rule when it came to eating vegetables. I only had to try it once and if I didn’t like it I didn’t have to eat it. Of course, like any child I loved this rule. One I regret to this day, because you see, my family (including my children) eat all kinds of vegetables and I usually stick to the peas, corn, lettuce, cucumbers and the occasional carrots in my pea soup. So, of course when I came across turnips in a friend’s soup a few years back I was reluctant to trying it. To my amazement it was actually pretty good.

Turnip is a vegetable that is in the cabbage family. Turnip is considered a fighter against cancer and heart disease. It contains very high levels of antioxidants used in juicing. Turnips have been cultivated for more than 4 thousand years.

Turnips are a great source of vitamins; vitamin A, B6, C, K, folate, calcium, potassium, sulfur, and copper. It’s low in saturated fat and cholesterol. This wonder vegetable is also effective in treating anemia and purifies the blood. The darker leaves of the turnips used in salads are recommended for people with hypothyroidism due to its higher level of iodine.  People that suffer from hypothyroidism; a condition of low thyroid hormones that slow down the body functions, symptoms include weight gain, fatigue, hair loss and menstrual irregularities in women.

It is believed there are other healing powers of this marvelous vegetable:

  • Helps lower lipid levels and fight infectious diseases
  • Vitamins A, B & C help equalize the nervous system
  • Helps strengthen bones
  • Increases visual keenness and used to treat night blindness
  • Increases appetite
  • Turnip extract – renal stones, and other urinary diseases
  • Respiratory ailment
  • Relives coughs, hoarseness, sore throats & bronchitis
  • Extract- is known to help treat diabetes
  • Applying topically can help with skin inflammations, acne, itching & abscesses

Having some of the above mentioned ailments in our family, I am currently looking to in add turnips into our daily dietary supplement. There are some really good recipes out there that include turnips…some I hope my children will, unlike myself at their age, like!

As with anything, please consult with your physician before including anything in your diet.  One thing to note is that Turnip greens contain oxalates, a natural substance found in plants, animals, and humans. Oxalates can cause health problems when they become too concentrated and crystalize. Because of this people with kidney or gallbladder problems may want to stay away from eating turnip greens.  So please, ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS, talk to your doctor first.

turnip smoothie

Turnip Green Smoothie


  • 1 bunch turnip greens, raw, stems and all.
  • 1 cup tofu, silken or firm
  • 1 banana
  • 1 apple
  • 1 orange peeled and split into segments
  • soy milk or orange juice depending on how sweet you want it.
  • Ice


Combine all ingredients, blend on high until smooth.