Category Archives: Nutrition

Artie Chokes 2 for a Dollar!

Zucchini and Artichoke Frittata

…and other myths…one of my favorite finger foods, the artichoke, is in season right now, and you needn’t be afraid of it!  Think of the artichoke as your well worth it high maintenance expensive girlfriend (around $2.25 each as one roughly weighs a pound).  But hard?  No.  First, let’s talk about the benefits:

  • Artichokes ROCK when it comes to vitamins and minerals: they have one of the highest total antioxidant levels of any vegetable, as well as folate, magnesium and potassium, and vitamins K & C.
  • Evidence from research shows that artichokes decease cholesterol,  increase probiotic bacteria in the gut,  and help maintain a healthy liver.
  • Artichokes are packed with fiber at more than 10.3 grams per artichoke (the edible part!).
  • You have to eat an artichoke SLOOOOWWWLY.  Need I tell you the health benefits?

Now, let’s talk facts:

  • The artichoke is part of the thistle family – it is simply the bud before it flowers.  See? (this one has flowered obviously)

  • A baby artichoke is not another type of artichoke, it’s just a smaller less mature choke on the same plant down at the bottom.  It is fully edible as it hasn’t developed a choke yet (the only part of the artichoke you can’t eat).
  • The sunchoke has nothing to do with the artichoke; it is part of the sunflower family.

You can find all kinds of recipes that, step by step, will intimidate the crap out of you from acidulation to scissoring the thorns – ignore them.  Do this:  choose artichokes that are green – not purple or bluish – those are overripe.  Take them home, slice them in half lengthwise and steam them for 20 minutes.  Heat your grill while this is happening, and transfer the steamed artichokes to the grill flat side down, for about 15 minutes, then turn over (if there aren’t any grill marks yet your grill isn’t hot enough so keep on grilling on the flat side).  If there ARE grill marks it’s time to lay them awkwardly on the grill on the opposite side for 3-4 minutes till the leaves are charred.  Plate them (1/2 artichoke per person) and either brush them with melted butter, sprinkled with a tiny bit of sea salt (the good kind that have large crystals) on them, maybe some cracked pepper if you’d like.  If you want to be fancier whip up some remoulade for dipping.  Truly, you don’t really need anything.  Just pluck each individual leaf off, put it in your mouth upside down and scrape the flesh from the leaf using your bottom teeth.  Don’t eat the fuzzy choke in between the leaves and the heart though – it’s yucky.  The heart will be your final reward.  The smokey, creamy taste and texture will make you close your eyes and sigh with pleasure.   Now, if you want to pay me to make the frittata you see at the top of the page just let me know!  There are MANY ways that Lula’s for Lunch…and More! Catering  incorporates artichokes into our menus, including one of our 6, to date, GREEN soups!!!

Eat All You Want and Lose Weight!

Celery does more than serve as a swizzle stick for your glass of tomato juice. The stalks are packed with a plant compound called luteolin, which calms a type of immune cell in the brain and spinal cord that works to keep the brain in good working order. Luteolin is linked to lower rates of age-related memory loss, according to a study reported in the Journal of Nutrition. Because the study was carried out in mice, more research needs to be done to see if the results can be replicated in humans.

Celery also takes more calories to chew and swallow than it contains – which makes it a GREAT diet food.  Unless, if you’re like Lula, you drown it in bleu cheese. 🙂  Celery is a chief component in flavor bases used in several world cuisines – the Latin community calls it Sofrito, the French call it Mire Poix, and southerners call it the Holy Trinity!  Believe it or not it is an ingredient in Lula’s for Lunch…and More! Catering ‘s beauty before you : our Creole Shrimp ‘n Grits!

 

Nuts about Almonds

Shelling out for a bag of almonds might not be a bad idea if you need to lower your cholesterol.  Almonds are recognized as a cholesterol-lowering food; studies also show that they can reduce the risk of heart disease.

One ounce of almonds, about 25 nuts, contains 164 calories and 1.10 grams of saturated fat.  That same ounce is also a good source of protein, potassium, vitamin E, and magnesium, and has no cholesterol.

The “ancients” seemed to already know these facts.  Ancient desert nomads combined almonds with chopped dates, bits of pistachios, sesame oil, and breadcrums and rolled them into balls.  The world’s first trail mix!!

King Tut apparently knew the nutritional value of almonds.  Several handfuls of them accompanied him into the tomb, perhaps to nourish him on his post-life journey.

Lula’s for Lunch…and More! Catering www.lulasforlunch.com uses all KINDS of nuts in every way possible.  We LOVE them for their deliciousness and their nutritional value.  We always label our foods that contain nuts, however, for our clients that may have nut sensitivities .

Bourbon Pecan Bark
Bourbon Pecan Bark

Pumpkin Packs a Punch!

Pumpkin seeds are one smart snack. They’re rich in zinc, a mineral vital for memory and thinking skills. They’re also packed with magnesium, a mineral that fights inflammation and contributes to the creation of new brain cells.

In addition, pumpkin seeds contain a hefty amount of tryptophan, an amino acid that the body converts to the good-mood chemical serotonin. As if that’s not enough, pumpkin seeds contain a wide variety of antioxidants that may slow brain aging.  At Lula’s for Lunch…and More! Catering , we  toast our pumpkin seeds and use them in many salads as well as garnish entrees for a satisfying crunch!  This picture is of our Citrus Avocado Salad.  Now, drool!

Wrinkles Save Your Mind!

Raisins are among the top food sources of boron, a brain-boosting mineral. “Among its other benefits, boron improves mental alertness, short-term memory and focus, and even affects eye-hand coordination and dexterity,” says Forrest Nielsen, retired research nutritionist at the Grand Forks Human Nutrition Research Center in North Dakota. You probably won’t learn to juggle four balls at once just by eating a handful of raisins, but this fruit (and a lot of practice) will set you on the right path.  If you like raisins, Lula’s for Lunch…and More! Catering can put them in any dish you want!!

Other foods rich in boron: chickpeas, almonds, walnuts, avocados.

More Eggy Wisdom

 

Folks, I am once again borrowing from my friend Heidi Bright, author of  Thriver Soup: A Feast for Living Consciously During the Cancer Journey (click here to learn more about her book) – we share the same “happy/healthy” philosophy regarding our animal sources and Heidi is just chock FULL of information regarding food and your health!

How Nutritious are Your Eggs?

I used to buy my eggs from a discount store at a discount price. The poor hens, most likely trapped in battery cages, probably never saw sunlight or moved outside of their tiny cells. (In a 2014 report, 95% of U.S. eggs came from hens trapped in battery cages.) What a miserable existence. I found the shells overly easy to crack open. They reminded me of the egg breakage I’d read about among wild birds. These fowl are experiencing losses in breeding success due to contamination by post-1945 “residues of synthetic organic chemicals used as pesticides and in industry.”

As I learned, I moved to slightly costlier eggs.

One day my son cut his finger and bled profusely. I remembered reading that eggshell membranes can be used to temporarily stop excessive bleeding. I grabbed an egg and struggled to get a little bit of the membrane out of the bottom of the shell. I got only a small crumpled piece out, and put it on his little cut.

The cut immediately stopped bleeding. We were both stunned.  I then looked up more information on those membranes. They can be used to:

  • treat wounds to prevent scar tissue;
  • reduce the effects of osteoarthritis;
  • improve health of skin, hair, and nails.

That was the end of cheap eggs for me. I began buying my eggs from local farmers, and when they weren’t available, got organic eggs from the supermarket. I immediately noticed a difference when cracking the eggs – the shells were tougher to break open.

But how to separate the membrane from the shell? I tried a few methods, none of which worked very well. The membranes were slick, tore easily, and took forever to separate from the shells.

Okay, so maybe the problem, again, was with the eggs themselves. So I moved to the most expensive eggs – organic, free-range, certified humane (raised and handled), and no synthetic pesticides, hormones, or antibiotics.

Viola! The membrane, tough and gauzy, pulled right off in large pieces. So easy! And to me it meant the membrane must be full of nutrients, especially collagen. I wanted those nutrients. If you want to see what a healthy membrane looks like you can see it here on YouTube.

I clean the membranes and drop them into my Vitamix to blend with greens for my smoothies.

To me, it’s worth the extra expense to get high-quality eggs, not only because I am prone to osteoarthritis, but also because as a survivor of highly aggressive end-stage sarcoma, nutrition is extremely important to me. I want to maintain my cancer remission! Healthy eating can only help, in my opinion.

Plus I’d rather get the membrane from eggs I cracked, so I know the source, than something that has been put through a chemical or other process, and then who knows the quality of the membrane anyway. Probably not from the healthiest eggs.

And another benefit. I clean and dehydrate the shells, crush them with a mortar and pestle, then add lemon or lime juice and create my own calcium supplement.

Happy hens make nutritious eggs, which help me stay healthy.

Click here to see a video of healthy egg membranes.

 

 

Another “Brainy” Food – the PINEAPPLE!

Underneath its spiny exterior, pineapples pack a brain-boosting wallop. Bromelain, an enzyme found only in pineapples, keeps blood platelets from sticking together and forming clots. These clots can break off from artery walls and interrupt blood flow to the brain, setting you up for a memory-damaging stroke.  Pineapples are also rich in folate (aka vitamin B9), which can help make you more alert and better able to focus!

BITTER Sweet … Don’t Let Them Fool You!

Apparently I’m kind of obsessed with sugar, which is odd since I’m not a real sweets fan.  I looked over past blogs to see if I’d  given this information before and I haven’t, so I think you’ll appreciate all of the names on labels that really mean sugar.  Here’s why it’s important:  SUGAR IS PHYSICALLY ADDICTIVE.  Just like a narcotic.  It affects dopamine receptors and causes the brain to behave as if it’s reacting to a narcotic pleasure loop.  And sadly, almost anything “white” has hidden sugar in it.  Here are most of the names you will find on the back (or FRONT!) of a food label that mean SUGAR:

*Fructose
*Sucrose
*Agave
*Dextrose
*Lactose
*Galactose
*High-fructose corn syrup(we all knew that didn't we?)*Xylitol
*Sorghum
*Stevia
*Treacle
*Sucanat
*Panela
*Evaporated Cane Juice
*Dextran
*Anhydrous Dextrose

 

Sweet Potato or Yam, Ma’am?

Tis the season…and Oh, the drama!  Which is it?  They are NOT related, and another fun fact, the sweet potato isn’t even related to the potato!  First, let’s scientifically (but not TOO scientifically) differentiate:

Sweet Potato:    Originated in Central/South America.  A relative in the Morning Glory family.  Skin a plethora of colors.  Flesh a plethora of colors – the lighter the starchier.   The bad news is…you can never tell the color of the flesh until after you buy them!

Yam:        Originated (and 95% still comes from) Africa/Asia.  A member of the Lily family.   Mostly soft fleshed.  Can grow to over 100 pounds!  Sweet Potatoes are frequently mislabeled in the US because African Americans called them Yams as they resembled them.  Yams are hard to get in the US.  You’d have to go to an international market.  You WILL see sweet potatoes labeled as yams in grocery stores.  But if you look closely, they are also labeled sweet potatoes, because it’s the law.  A wonderful use of sweet potatoes, on the menu now at Lula’s for Lunch…and More! Catering is our Roasted Sweet Potato Salad! You can order as a side with your lunch or entree at www.lulasforlunch.com  Yummy Yummy!!

The Vampire Diaries – or, GARLIC 101 Redux

Science is bearing out lots of ancient folklore regarding the medicinal uses of garlic. Ancient Egypt recorded exactly 22 medicinal uses for garlic – from healing open wounds to extending one’s life if eaten religiously. The more “intact” you can keep the garlic (fresh cloves vs. powdered, for instance) the better the benefit.

We use lots of garlic at Lula’s for Lunch…and More! Catering – sometimes overtly, and sometimes it’s in our ‘secret” sauces as a “secret” ingredient. You’re always eating healthy with Lula’s. Here are some things that garlic has been proven to help with: Garlic kills bacteria, and can lower the risk of stomach cancer. Garlic slows the growth of many cancers. Garlic lowers blood cholesterol, and helps prevent heart disease. Let us know YOUR garlic experiences at http://lulasforlunch.com/blog – we look forward to your input!