Get Out Of That Winter Rut and Bask In Obscurity

Winter’s Bounty  -  Obscure Root Vegetables

Aside from the usual root vegetables like carrots, potatoes, onions, and garlic that you see in the produce section and farmers markets, come the winter months, you will also likely see a number of “unusual” and “obscure” vegetables that are guaranteed to add some flavor, color and texture to your winter dishes should you be bold enough to take them home and experiment with them in your kitchen.

While spring is not far away, we felt this was a great opportunity for you to expand your culinary repertoire, AND stick to eating seasonally, with the wonderful winter bounty available from your local farmers.

Like most winter vegetables, these “strange” root vegetables are all deliciously sweet when harvested after the first frost. They are all great storage vegetables. Refer to this pdf for great tips on how to store your fresh fruit and vegetables, to ensure optimal nutrition and shelf-life.

Always, when considering your own health, that of your family and that of Mama Earth,  purchase your vegetables organically and locally if you can, leave the skins on and eat the leaves (that’s where a large portion of the micronutrients are)!

Some of my favorite winter root vegetables:

Turnip Brassica rapa

Turnips are actually close relatives to radishes and arugula. Like radishes, they have a mild to strong “bite” dependent on size and age. Small turnips are a great addition to a salad when used similarly to a radish, while the larger ones make a great addition to a roasted vegetable dish, soup or puree. When selecting turnips, look for firm, creamy-looking bulbs with a violet-hued ring around the top. Smaller turnips may not have the violet color and will look somewhat like a white radish. The turnip greens are often removed in winter months, but in fall and spring you likely will find them with the greens still attached. DO NOT throw these away. They are excellent, nutrient-dense greens that you can add to your weekly dishes. Turnip root is high in vitamin C. The turnip greens are a good source of vitamin A, folate, vitamin C, vitamin K, calcium and lutein.

Purely Primal - Coconut Creamed Turnip Greens

Jicama (Mexican Yam, Mexican Turnip, Yam Bean) Pachyrhizus erosus 

Jicama is the tuber of a native Mexican vine.  It has the uniquely sweet crunch much like a water chestnut, lending itself well to raw dishes such as salads, salsas and vegetable platters. It can be cooked and seasoned like any other root vegetable, though you will often find it paired with hotter spices and Mexican or Asian cuisine. Three ounces of Jicama has about 7 grams of carbohydrates, mostly in the form of fiber (2 grams) and prebiotic sugars known as oligofructose inulin (or FOS). It is 86-90% water and contains vitamins C, A and B, along with calcium and phosphorus. Jicama is a round, somewhat flat ball and looks much like a potato. They can often grow quite large. Those tubers larger than grapefruit-size, often have started to convert sugars into starches and make the root a bit more woody.

(SW)EAT Exercise and Nutrition  - Jicama Hashbrowns

Gone Raw – Raw Jicama Fries

Jen’s Gone Paleo  - Jicama Salad w/Cilantro-Lime Vinaigrette

Rutabaga (Swedes, Swedish Turnip) Brassica napus 

Rutabagas are round and waxy with yellowish flesh and ridges around the neck. A rutabaga has a soft sweetness and flavor that is reminiscent of both cabbage and turnip, of which it is said to have been conceived. Rutabagas are good raw, julienned and served with dip, grated into a  coleslaw or any other type of salad. When cooked the yellow flesh turns orange. They are fantastic roasted, steamed, stir-fried, pureed or stewed. Add them to stews and soups. Bake them in the oven as chips or fries. Go ahead, just try them!

“Fish and Chips” from Fast Paleo – Bacon Wrapped Halibut over Rutabaga Chips

Brooklyn Paleo - Roasted Vegetable Salad with Anchovy-Parsley Pesto

Parsnips Pastinaca sativa

Parsnips resemble carrots, but are muddled white in color. They have a buttery, sweet, slightly tangy flavor when cooked. In order to enjoy a nice rich flavor, make sure the parsnips have gone through one good frost. Nutritionally, parsnips are low in calories, about 130 calories in one 9″ in length. They are richer in nutrients than carrots; especially rich in potassium, folic acid and calcium, vitamin A and C. Parsnips also contribute vitamins B1, B2, B3, iron, and zinc. Parsnips have a high sugar and starch content and contain more fiber then most other vegetables. Parsnips can be roasted, boiled, sauteed and steamed. Really, anything you can do with a potato, you can do with a parsnip. No need to peel them, just give them a good scrub and you’re on your way.

Nom Nom Paleo Cauliflower, Carrot and Parsnip Puree

Celeriac (celery root) Apium graveolens 

Also known as celery root or knob celery, this root vegetable is not something that you choose for it’s looks. Yet underneath that gnarled, ugly exterior is a beautiful white flesh that has a milder, sweeter flavor than that of celery. Unlike many other root vegetables that are high in starches, celeriac is only about 5-6% starch by weight. It contains only 30 calories per half cup, no fat, and is a great source of fiber. When selecting fresh celeriac, choose one of small to medium size that are nice and firm to the touch. Look to see that the greens are not wilted. Celeriac is great when grated as a raw salad (see recipe below), julienned and baked in the oven like a french fry, roasted with other root vegetables, chopped up in a hearty soup, or served as a puree alongside a nice cut of meat and luscious greens.

BBC – Pot Roast Loin of Pork with Celeriac, Shallots and Pancetta

Green Celeriac Salad with Lemon and Capers (GF-Paleo)

from the Kitchen of Big Sister              serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 1 large celeriac (celery root), peeled and grated
  • 1 large lemon (juice and zest)
  • 1/4 cup capers, drained
  • fresh ground pepper and sea salt, to taste
  • 1 large handful arugula, sliced thin
  • 1 large handful parsley, sliced thin
  • 1 handful fresh roasted pecans (optional: lightly crushed or chopped)
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp. raw coconut vinegar
  • 1 tsp. raw honey

Directions:

Peel celeriac and grate. Sprinkle a tablespoon of lemon juice over the grated celeriac mixture to prevent the celeriac from browning. Stir well to coat. Lightly season with sea salt and fresh ground pepper. Whisk the remaining lemon juice and zest with the oil, honey and vinegar. Toss with the celeriac, capers, arugula, parsley, and pecans to coat. Taste and adjust. Serve and Enjoy!

January Health Challenge – Go to your local farmer’s market or grocer and pick up one of these obcure vegetables, one that you’ve never tried before. Make one of the recipes provided or create your own. We’d love to hear what you try!

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Menu Plan for 2 Weeks

Wow, what a busy time in the life of the Lil’ Sister! This week is my husband’s birthday, and Two Sisters’ parents are flying out to California this week as well. Because of all of my “extra-curricular” activities, I decided to make 2 weeks of menu plans today, so I can spend more time with my family while they are here!

Week of Jan. 29

SundayCauliflower Bacon Soup  & Paleo Butternut Squash Lasagna

MondayShredded Chicken with Jalapeno Cream Sauce

TuesdayCurried Shrimp & Spinach

WednesdayBBQ Crockpot chicken

ThursdayBlackened Salmon with Tomato Gravy

Friday – leftovers

SaturdayEveryday Paleo Pizza

Week of Feb. 5

Sunday – Grilled Game Hens, Cabbage on the Grill (spread about 1 tsp. ghee (or your fat of choice) on each 1/4′d cabbage, sprinkle with salt, pepper & garlic powder, wrap with 1-2 slices bacon, wrap in foil. Grill on medium ~40 minutes until tender) & Sweet Potatoes with Coconut, Pomegranate & Lime

MondaySalmon with Paleo Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto (health-bent) & Citrus Kale Salad

TuesdayEnchilada-spiced Beef Wraps  & Red Cabbage Slaw with Vinaigrette Dressing

WednesdaySeriously Tasty Paleo Meatloaf

ThursdayCurried Leek & Butternut Squash Soup

FridayCaprese Chicken with Bacon  & Butternut Squash with Cranberries

SaturdayCreamy Mushroom Stew & Baked Chicken

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Curried Leek & Butternut Squash Soup

I finally got to experiment in the kitchen again, and this was one of my successes this last week! We had a wonderful dinner with some friends a couple weeks ago, and this recipe is a take on a soup they had made for us. (I had a massive butternut squash… if you have a smaller one, cut the recipe in 1/2)

Curried Leek & Butternut Squash Soup

  • 2 Tbsp. your fat of choice (bacon fat, lard, butter, olive oil, ghee, coconut oil, etc…)
  • 2 medium leek, sliced in 1/2 lengthwise & sliced thin
  • 2 celery, diced
  • 1-2 tsp. fresh ginger, minced (see tip below)
  • 5 lb. butternut squash, large diced, with skin on
  • 2 apples, cored & 1/4′d
  • 1 Tbsp. curry powder
  • 1/4 tsp. turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne
  • sea salt & pepper to taste
  • 3 c. chicken stock or bone broth
  • 1 can coconut milk

Heat a large soup pot and melt fat. Add leeks, garlic and ginger. Saute until soft. Add all spices, stir well. Cook for about 1 minute. Add squash, apples and chicken stock. Bring to boil, then simmer until squash is soft (~10-15 minutes). Let cool slightly, add coconut milk, and blend all ingredients (you may have to blend in multiple batches). Mix together and serve!

Tip: If you purchase a large ginger root, peel the whole thing and store it in the freezer for longer shelf life.  This also makes it much easier to grate (when it’s frozen).

Posted in Dairy Free, Eat Local, Eat Seasonal, Gluten Free, Grain-Free, Main Dishes, New Year Revolution, Paleo, REAL Food, Recipes, Soups, Sugar-Free | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Amazing Giveaway Reminder

How are those goals coming along?

Just a little reminder to send your goals to us at twosistersgf@gmail.com or post a comment on one of our New Year Revolution posts with your name and goals by January 31st (next Tuesday) so we can enter you into the giveaway. Once we receive your goals we will send you an email invite to join the online discussion forum (the New Year Revolution Community). We would love to share with you on this journey!

Share with us your commitment to embrace change in your life. Craft your revolutionary goals (craft at least four solid health-related goals for yourself – a 1-month, 3-month, 6-month and 1-year goal), adapt our simplified eating plan, pay attention to your lifestyle choices, and create positive change in your health and your life! Let us help you stay accountable, and upon achieving your goals, be entered to win one of three great prizes.

Keep working on your goals throughout the next 6 months (January 2012 through July 2012). Everyone who has met at least one of their 1-month, 3-month or 6-month goals will be entered in the giveaway. And because we really want to support you in achieving ALL your goals, successfully achieve one goal in each category (1-, 3- and 6-month) and you will get 2 additional opportunities to be entered, for a total of 3 chances to win. Keep us posted as to your progress on our blog, our New Year Revolution Community group, and/or via email.

So, are you ready to join our New Year Revolution?

Why not enlist a friend to join with you… share this on facebook, via twitter or any other means. Join us in creating a healthy 2012 and beyond for all your friends and family! Keep up-to-date on the New Year Revolution posts by following Two Sisters on Facebook or subscribing to our email feed.

And PLEASE invite others to join in this Revolution!

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Menu Plan #4

Wow, this month is flying by! Two Sister’s parents are coming in early February, so I am super excited about this, and it is my husband’s birthday at the beginning of the month! So much fun coming up in the next few weeks!

But, before we get to the next few weeks, I guess it is time for another menu plan – without further ado, here is Lil’ Sister’s Paleo Week 4 menu.

[Just a quick note: I am not sharing a few of the recipes, 1) because I am actually planning on creating a couple this week; 2) because I am recipe testing for a new cookbook coming out by Ginger Lemon Girl, so I have promised to not share them with ANYONE, and that includes you. I know, so sad… but at least it will give you ideas!

Week of January 22nd – Menu Plan

SundayPaleo pizza with sausage and veggies. I use this recipe for my crust, make my own sauce with tomatoes, herbes de provence and garlic, and throw whatever veggies and meat I happen to have in the refrigerator. I am surprised that cheese seems like it just wouldn’t even fit on a pizza like this. I know, sacrilege!

Monday – Crockpot Tomato Braised Pork (this is one of those recipes I can’t share, but that you should be able to find in the cookbook coming out by Ginger Lemon Girl soon!)

TuesdayPaleo Blackened Salmon with braised greens

Wednesday – Chili made with beef and chorizo (I am going to be creative here and try to come up with a new recipe… if it’s good, I’ll share it later!)

ThursdayBacon Crock Pot Roast with mashed cauliflower and greens. Okay, so this is my husband’s favorite dish lately, and he is good at making it. So, since he has the day off… he gets to cook!

Friday – Turkey Meatballs with a Tangy Apricot Sauce (this is another one of those recipes I can’t share, but that you should be able to find in the cookbook coming out by Ginger Lemon Girl soon!)

Saturday – Leek and Butternut Squash Soup with Roasted Venison Tenderloin (this is inspired by a great dinner with friends we had this week… can’t wait to play around and have another creativity day… again, if they turn out good, I’ll share the recipe!)

Enjoy your week of food… I know I will!

Posted in Dairy Free, Eat Local, Eat Seasonal, Gluten Free, Grain-Free, Main Dishes, New Year Revolution, Paleo, REAL Food, Recipes | Tagged , , , | 5 Comments

What About Fruit?

There’s no denying that humans love sweet things. Sugar is a simple carbohydrate that occurs naturally in foods such as grains, beans, vegetables and fruit. So one might think if sugar is naturally occurring then it must be healthy. Well, there is no simple yes or no answer here.

We are a society that has become increasingly reliant upon convenience foods and restaurants for our daily meals. This means more hidden “sugars” and other additives, due to the highly processed nature of such foods. These are major contributors to the increase in inflammation and disease we see today. Our taste buds no longer know what the true taste of food is. We must retrain them to taste the natural complexity within whole (real) foods.

This is what the New Year Revolution is all about – changing perspectives about what real food is and re-discovering the abundance of textures and flavors we have available to us in these whole foods.

But what does this have to do with fruit?

Fruits and vegetables are by nature, carbohydrates. They also contain water, vitamins, minerals, fiber and phytonutrients. We often find fruits and vegetables lumped into the same category on food pyramids. This can mislead people into thinking that eating 5 servings of fruits a day is the same as eating 5 servings of vegetables each day. BUT, fruit is significantly higher in sugar, mainly in the form of fructose, than its vegetable counterparts. Equally, while fruit obviously has more nutritional value than the empty calories we eat from the added sugars in anything from cookies to ketchup, all fruits are not created equal (in respect to sugar content).

Sugar Stacks has created an incredible visual aid to show the varying amounts of sugars in a number of common fruits:

“A strawberry may, in fact, be healthier than a grape,

even though they are both natural.”

Red Seedless Grapes                                               Strawberries

1 serving (126g – 4% waste)                                         1 serving (147g)

Sugars, total:  20g                                                 Sugars, total:   7g

Calories, total: 88                                                         Calories, total: 47

Calories from sugar: 80                                               Calories from sugar: 28

Another concern arises in the form of fruit juices and other sugar-laden processed fruit drinks. According to the Harvard Health Letter, in the early 20th century, Americans consumed an average of 15g of fructose, mostly from fruits and vegetables. In 2011, the average was a hefty 55g per day, due in large part to the increased consumption of sugary fruit drinks, sodas and other beverages.

“Pediatric endocrinologist Robert Lustig, of the Bitter Truth, says that when you consume fructose in fruit, you’re fine, but he cautions against drinking juice and advises you avoid manufactured versions of fructose that is a part of so many soft drinks and other processed goods. Fruit contains fiber, which contributes to a sense of fullness; this is why fiber is called self-limiting. You can eat a little bit and be satisfied, which is not the case with beverages. Eating fiber also helps you absorb fewer carbohydrates, including fructose.”  Livestrong

Physiological Repercussions

Sugar, in its many forms, often travels through your digestive tract for processing. Fructose, on the other hand, skips a step by being routed through your liver, which has an effect on how that sugar is utilized… your bodily systems… obesity… insulin resistance… fatty liver disease… look at This Common Food Ingredient Can Really Mess Up Your Metabolism (Dr. Mercola)

Additionally, those with infections, parasites and candidiasis should absolutely avoid fruit all together as any form of sugar can hinder treatment and healing of such conditions.

Most fruits can be eaten raw; but for some people, certain fruits are easier to digest when cooked.

Conclusion

While fruit is certainly a good food to incorporate into one’s diet for the beneficial fiber and nutrient content (especially the antioxidants and phytonutrients), increased awareness is necessary regarding the sugar content and quantity of fruits eaten. Some fruits are lower in fructose, while others are markedly high. Tropical fruits and dried fruits typically have the highest levels. Check out the Fruit Nutrition Facts on Fruit Pages website.

Often those fruits lowest in sugar are some with the highest nutritional value. Berries like raspberries, blueberries, and strawberries are rich in antioxidants, and contain 5 – 11g of sugar per serving. Sour citrus fruits like lemons and limes are low in sugar at 0-2g per serving, whereas oranges are significantly higher at 14g of sugar per serving.  Grapefruit has 11g of sugar per serving. Stone fruit such as peaches and nectarines have 11-13g of sugar per serving. Bananas on the other hand have a whopping 19g of sugar per serving. Don’t forget about the more obscure fruits like avocados (0 grams), coconut (15 grams+) and tomatoes (2 grams).

January Health Challenge:
Eat 1-2 fresh fruits per day (maximum), preferably from the low-sugar list (low-glycemic). Choose vegetables over fruit whenever possible.

Additional Resources:

A fantastic read: The Question of Seasonality in Fructose Availability

Must see: Dr. Robert Lustig on Interventions to Reduce Sugar Consumption

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Check IN

Does this sound like an all too familiar statement, “Oh, I’ll start on Monday” or “I will start on the 1st of the month”? Well, I’m telling you NOW is the ONLY time to start!

If you don’t start, it’s certain you won’t arrive.

As you look upon the goals you’ve drafted for yourself, envision the ideal (and realistic) picture of your health and life, 6 months from today. Have you taken this into account in creating your goals? This is an opportunity to venture outside of that which you’ve always known. Create the life you’ve always wanted!

“Developing the confidence to pursue goals is one way that personal power becomes an agent of personal change.” – Caroline Myss

Revisiting Your Why

I’m repeating myself here, but you MUST consider your Why.

WHY - The Missing Piece

Your Why needs to be bigger than you. It should affect you on all levels and be in alignment with your personal core values.
If you have a BIG enough Why, nothing can get in your way of achieving your goals – not finances, not peer pressure, not temptations, not long work hours, not even that nagging voice in your head.

So, what do you want good health for?

What do you intend to do with this healthy body/being?

This isn’t about just “being thin” or “having more energy”… Truly consider what achieving these goals will bring to your life. What will get you through those times when you’re too tired or just not sure what to do, when you’re traveling or staying with family and feeling ‘unable to control’ what you eat and what your schedule is, or other people are sharing their unwarranted opinions? I have little doubt that you will encounter one or many of these challenges along the way, that’s why I am stressing to you that you must develop a BIG enough Why to support you through these times.

My personal Why is “to be able to run around with my grandchildren and meet my great-grandchildren, to share with them what Life was like in my day – the successes and the challenges. Mind you, I don’t even have children of my own yet at 34, so taking care of my body and mind, at this stage and onward, are of the utmost importance. I want to be the healthy vessel that carries my beautiful healthy children into the world, nourishing them every step of the way. I will make this happen.“

So what’s your Why?

Take some time, dig a little deeper, and really discover your personal Why. You know what it is, even if it feels like you don’t. Give yourself the space, away from your day-to-day, and let the words flow organically.

“Too much change that happens too rapidly can be overwhelming, so we try to manage our own empowerment by taking on only one challenge at a time. As we do, one by one, the changes we undergo form a pattern in our journey toward personal power.” – Caroline Myss

Step By Step – PPOA (Personal Plan of Action)

Breaking down your goals into smaller, achievable tasks

This is about making a list of small steps (the number of steps will vary dependent on the goal) that you can start doing now to work toward achieving your health goal. Be very specific with these steps. (for example: if better quality sleep is one of your goals – turn off the TV, phone and computer 2 hours before bed tonight.) Initially you may want to focus on one step per week. Continually move toward your goal.

Get a planner and start allotting time for these small steps. This has been an invaluable step for me. If I say, “I will go for a jog in the morning”, I can already hear the voices in my head saying, “…or I’ll just lie here a little longer and go after work” knowing full-well that I won’t have the energy or else some new excuse will arise. But once I put it into my planner, and devote a specific time to it, I am much more apt to follow through. We all have more time than we think we do.

Don’t forget, that “Change is constant.” Be ready to flow with it! There may be days where things just fall apart, no matter how prepared you are. That’s OK. Get up, brush off, and start anew.


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