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10 Ways to Boost Your Mood and Immune System with Leafy Greens

Leafy greens give you the most nutrients per calorie. Rich sources of fiber, vitamins C and A , B3, magnesium, potassium, calcium, iron and vital phytochemicals  (natural plant compounds with antioxidant, anti-inflammatory properties), these plant foods boost your mood, brain health and immune system. Make greens part of your meals. Choose the ones you most enjoy. Discover new leafy greens and cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts). Find the ways that work best for you.

[su_expanding_quote_book alignment=”right” source_author=”Leslie Korn, MD” source_title=”Nutrition Essentials for Mental Health” full_quote=”Green plants are rich in chlorophyll, the green color of plants that helps to clean and build blood. It inhibits bacterial growth, yeasts and fungi in the digestive tract, purifying the body of toxins. It is anti-inflammatory and helps to renew cells and support healthy gut bacteria. It is an energizing food important to people with fatigue-related conditions, depression and IBS (inflammatory bowel syndrome” short_quote=”It is an energizing food important to people with fatigue-related conditions, depression and inflammatory bowel syndrome”]

Salads: Add rainbow vegetables and use leafy varieties to keep salads tempting – arugula, spinach, bok choy, kale and different lettuces

Coleslaws– Use different cabbages, add colored veggies, herbs, nuts and seeds

Cruciferous Salads – Go beyond cabbage, use any cruciferous, add any thinly sliced, or grated vegetable – carrot and beets to from fennel and jicama and more. Skip the mayo and use a tangy vinegar-based dressing

Breakfast Smoothies – always add protein, and health fat (nut butter, flaxseed, chia seed, kefir or milk of choice)

Egg Casseroles, breakfast tacos and omelets

Roasted vegetables – Use cruciferous vegetables with sweet potato and other root vegetables.

  • Add chopped herbs before roasting – rosemary, sage, thyme
  • Or after roasting – basil, cilantro, mint, parsley

Chicken and Veggie Sheet Pan Dinner

Add to grain bowls and pasta dishes – leafy greens, herbs, chopped or grated broccoli/cauliflower

Add leafy greens – such as spinach, kale, Swiss chard –  to soups, chilies, stews the last few minutes of cooking.

Or serve with chopped herbs (such as cilantro, parsley) on top

Make Pesto

  • Roast on fish, or chicken
  • Spread on breakfast toast, or rice cakes for a snack
  • Use as a sandwich spread or veggie dip
  • Toss with pasta, or grain bowls
  • Add to salads

Use in lunch wraps with hummus, pesto,  leafy greens and leftovers

Use the Swiss chard or collard greens as the lunch wrap. Spread hummus, Greek yogurt or pesto and add leftovers. Or shredded veggies like carrot or beet and chopped nuts or seeds.

[su_expanding_quote_book alignment=”full” source_author=”Elson M. Haas MD” source_title=”Staying Healthy with Nutrition” full_quote=”Chard is about one-third protein and a good fiber food. Collards are among the richer sources of Vitamin A, folic acid and vitamin C are strong. Minerals calcium, potassium, iron and zine are plentiful as are multiple phytochemicals.” short_quote=”Chard is about one-third protein and a good fiber food”]

 

Updated from original post published October 2021

Good Mood Leafy Greens

Eating leafy greens regularly is one of the most powerful ways to care for your mental fitness, brain and physical health.  They are a rich source of B vitamins, linked with better mental functioning and keeping your brain healthier and sharper as you age. They contain vitamin K which has been shown to boost memory, and phytochemicals that protect neurons from damage caused by oxidative stress. Loaded with  immune protective micronutrients, leafy greens also:

  • reduce inflammation (high brain inflammation is part of depression and anxiety)
  • improve your immune system’s resistance to viral and bacterial infection
  • work together to enhance defenses against destructive toxins
  • detoxify and remove carcinogenic compounds from your body
[su_expanding_quote_book alignment=”full” source_author=”Leslie Korn, MD” source_title=”Nutrition Essentials for Mental Health” full_quote=”Green plants are rich in chlorophyll, the green color of plants that helps to clean and build blood. It inhibits bacterial growth, yeasts and fungi in the digestive tract, purifying the body of toxins. It is anti-inflammatory and helps to renew cells and support healthy gut bacteria. It is an energizing food important to people with fatigue-related conditions, depression and IBS (inflammatory bowel syndrome” short_quote=”Green plants are rich in chlorophyll. It is an energizing food important to people with fatigue-related conditions, depression and inflammatory bowel syndrome”]

Varieties

Did you know there are at least 18 different varieties of lettuce? Leafy greens also include:

  • Arugula
  • Beet greens – cut thin like coleslaw and add to salads, add to soups and chili or stir-fry
  • Collard greens – you can use as a wrap instead or tortilla
  • Escarole
  • Kale
  • Mustard greens – add to omelets and frittatas, bean dishes and stir fry
  • Radicchio
  • Sorrel
  • Spinach
  • Swiss chard
  • Turnip greens 
[su_expanding_quote_book alignment=”full” source_author=”Dean Sherzai, MD, PhD and Ayesha Sherzai, MD, MAS” source_title=”The Alzheimer’s Solution” full_quote=”When you want more bang for your nutritional buck, eat your greens. Greens are one of the most nutrient-dense foods in the world; that is, they are high in nutrients and low in calories. They pack so much in: phytochemicals, vitamins, minerals, fibers, good carbohydrates, even protein. Almost all studies done on brain health and nutrition show that the foods that stand out for people who have the best brain health and general health are greens. It’s always greens.” short_quote=”Studies on brain health and nutrition show that the foods that stand out for people who have the best brain health and general health are greens”]

Kale is packed with

  • 45 different varieties of protective antioxidant flavonoids
  • vitamin A which can improve learning skills
  • mood-elevating vitamin C
  • vitamin K which boosts memory
  • essential minerals that protect against cognitive decline

[su_expanding_quote_book alignment=”full” source_author=”Rebecca Katz” source_title=”The Healthy Mind Cookbook” full_quote=”Swiss chard is agreat source of memory-boosting vitamin K. It’s also loaded with vitamin A, which has been linked with improvements in various learning skills. The array of B vitamins here, including folate and B6, may help keep the brain healthier and sharper as we age. Swiss chard also contains the minerals iron and zinc. Avoiding iron deficiencies is critical to avoiding cognitive complications in life. And zinc boosts our memories and may help keep depression at bay.” short_quote=”The array of B vitamins may help keep the brain healthier and sharper as we age.”]

Cruciferous vegetables

[su_expanding_quote_book alignment=”full” source_author=”Rebecca Katz” source_title=”The Healthy Mind Cookbook” full_quote=”Broccoli has B vitamins in abundance which is linked with better mental functioning, and as we get older, the prevention of dementia. Cabbages are especially powerful brain foods. Red cabbages have antioxidant phytochemicals that protect neurons from damage caused by oxidative stress. Cauliflower is a great source of vitamin C which is good not only for overall health of your brain but may elevate your mood. Kale is packed with 45 different varieties of antioxidant phytochemicals and mood-elevating vitamin C. ” short_quote=”Broccoli has B vitamins in abundance…”]

These are in the same nutrient dense leafy greens category. The name comes from the flowers, with four equally spaced petals in the shape of a cross. They have antioxidant phytochemicals that protect neurons from damage caused by oxidative stress. And lots of memory-boosting vitamin K. Cruciferous vegetables include:

  • Bok choy
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Cauliflower
  • Collards
  • Kale
  • Kohlrabi
  • Mustard greens
  • Turnip greens
  • Watercress

What to Do?
Leafy greens are very versatile. Enjoy them in salads, soups and stews, or stir fries. Blend them into pesto and serve over fish or chicken, pasta or roasted vegetables. Add them to smoothies, blender muffins and pancakes.

8 ways to Boost Your Immune System and Mood with Leafy Greens

Did you know that eating leafy greens almost every day may be one of the most powerful steps you can take for your mental and physical health? They give you optimal amounts of immune-protective micronutrients

[su_expanding_quote_book alignment=”right” source_author=”Michael Greger, MD” source_title=”How to Not Die ” full_quote=”Greens truly are the healthiest foods on the planet. You simply can’t do better in terms of nutrition per calorie. Explore, innovate, taste test, play and teach you palate to enjoy them. Whether you sneak them into a refreshing smoothie, incorporate them into sauces and dressings, use them as a base for main dishes, or eat them straight in a big, vibrant salad – just do it. Your body will thank you for every bite of green you take.” short_quote=”Greens truly are the healthiest foods on the planet. You simply can’t do better in terms of nutrition per calorie…”]

Cruciferous Vegetables are in the same high-nutrient leafy greens category.  Named for their flowers with four equally spaced petals in the shape of a cross, cruciferous vegetables include:

  • Boh choy
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Cauliflower
  • Collards
  • Kale
  • Kohlrabi
  • Mustard greens
  • Turnip greens
  • Watercress
[su_expanding_quote_book alignment=”right” source_author=”Rebecca Katz” source_title=”The Healthy Mind Cookbook” full_quote=”Broccoli has B vitamins in abundance which is linked with better mental functioning, and as we get older, the prevention of dementia. Cabbages are especially powerful brain foods. Red cabbages  have antioxidant phytochemicals that protect neurons from damage caused by oxidative stress. Cauliflower is a great source of vitamin C which is good not only for overall health of your brain, but may elevate your mood. Kale is packed with 45 different varieties of antioxidant phytochemicals and mood-elevating vitamin C. ” short_quote=”Broccoli has B vitamins in abundance…”]

Our bodies are programmed to fight off infection and cancer. Green and cruciferous vegetables help our immune system to protect us from disease.  Over 120 of phytochemicals (natural plant chemicals) have been identified that have strong immune-boosting effects:

  • anti-inflammatory and antioxidant
  • detoxify and remove carcinogenic compounds
  • heighten the immune system’s resistance to viral infraction
  • work together to enhance defenses against bacterial infection
  • give each cell its own protective shield so destructive toxins cannot do damage
[su_expanding_quote_book alignment=”right” source_author=”Leslie Korn, MD” source_title=”Nutrition Essentials for Mental Health” full_quote=”Green plants are rich in chlorophyll, the green color of plants that helps to clean and build blood. It inhibits bacterial growth, yeasts and fungi in the digestive tract, purifying the body of toxins. It is anti-inflammatory and helps to renew cells and support healthy gut bacteria. It is an energizing food important to people with fatigue-related conditions, depression and IBS (inflammatory bowel syndrome” short_quote=”Green plants are rich in chlorophyll. It is an energizing food important to people with fatigue-related conditions, depression and inflammatory bowel syndrome”]

What to Do?

  • Blend greens into breakfast smoothies (spinach, mint, basil, kale…)
  • Add them to breakfast tacos, omelets, egg casseroles
  • Use variety to keep salads tempting: leaf salads using spinach, arugula, kale and different lettuces
  • Add grated cruciferous to leafy salads or grains
  • Put to soups, chilies, stews
  • Mix in cruciferous vegetables with sweet potato, any potato, any roasted other root vegetables
  • Drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil and crushed garlic to toss with grains or whole-wheat pasta
  • Make pesto to spread on fish, chicken, use as a sandwich spread, toss with grains and pasta, add to salads
  • Make Coleslaws– Go beyond cabbage, use any cruciferous, add any thinly sliced, or grated vegetable – carrot and beets to from fennel and jicama and more. Skip the mayo and use a tangy vinegar-based dressing

Call to Action: Try a leafy green each week you have not eaten before. Which one will do you choose this week?

  • Arugula
  • Beet greens (cut thin like for coleslaw, add to salads or stir-fry)
  • Collard greens (use as a wrap instead or tortilla or as with beet greens)
  • Escarole (in place of lettuce or sauté with veggies or beans)
  • Kale (try it in a pesto) over fish, chicken, sandwich spread
  • Mustard greens
  • Radicchio 
  • Sorrel
  • Swiss chard
  • Turnip greens 
  • Let us have lettuce! 18 different kinds 😊

Updated from original post published November 2016

Crunchy Healthy Broccoli Salad

Some of the most nutrient-dense (nutrients per calorie) foods on the planet are:

  • Greens (including cruciferous like broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage)
  • Beans
  • Onions
  • Mushrooms
  • Berries
  • Seeds/Nuts

Eating lots of these vegetables give us optimal amounts of immune-protective micronutrients that can fend of disease.

This salad combines 4 of those superfoods: broccoli, onions, nuts, and berries. It’s a delicious, nutritious way to eat more broccoli and change up dinner salad from leafy greens. Leftovers make a great lunch topped with some chicken and/or leftover grains.

Variations

  • Add leftover bacon, chopped
  • Add avocado, diced
  • Use pumpkin or sunflower seeds instead of nuts
  • Use raisins or other dried fruit instead of cranberries
  • Add 1/2 cup chopped cilantro or parsley
  • Mix in arugula or baby spinach for a more robust salad
  • Add leftover quinoa, brown rice or other grain for a “meal salad”
  • Top with leftover chicken

Cauliflower Alfredo Sauce

Cauliflower was a boring vegetable I pretty much ignored until I discovered its exceptional health boosting powers.

[su_expanding_quote_book source_author=”Michael Greger MD” source_title=”How to Not Die” full_quote=”Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower and kale can potentially prevent DNA damage, activate defenses against pathogens and pollutants, help prevent lymphoma, boost liver detox enzymes and target breast cancer cells. The component responsible for these benefits is thought to be sulforaphane, which is formed almost exclusively in cruciferous vegetables.” short_quote=”Cruciferous vegetables can potentially prevent DNA damage, activate defenses against pathogens and pollutants, and help prevent cancer”]

And Alfredo sauce was something I avoided as heavy, fatty and too white. I like color in my food after all. But my family loves Alfredo sauce.

This recipe happily marries the benefits of cauliflower with my family’s eating pleasure. Simple and quick to make, it can also be a vegan Alfredo sauce.

Recipe Variations

  • Use almond milk or broth for a lighter meal
  • Use dairy milk for a creamier sauce
  • Add 1/2 cup of shredded Parmesan for a special treat

Serving Variations

  • Toss with whole-wheat fettuccini, cooked shrimp and peas
  • Toss with bowtie pasta, chopped up leftover chicken and sautéed mushrooms
  • Saute sliced onion, sliced red bell pepper and coarsely chopped kale and toss with pasta
  • Toss with steamed edamame and pasta

4 Nutrient Dense Coleslaws

What? Did you know cabbage, and other cruciferous vegetables, have powerful properties protect against brain disease and strengthen your immune system? It’s a vegetable I used to avoid – blech.

Cabbage was cultivated going back 6,000 years. It was grown chiefly for medicinal purposes in ancient times. Today science is proving its brain-protecting, cancer-fighting, immune-boosting properties.

[su_expanding_quote_book alignment=”full” source_author=”Joel Fuhrman MD” source_title=”Super Immunity” full_quote=”Cruciferous vegetables are twice as powerful as other plant foods. They contain an array of compounds with powerful immune-boosting effects which can serve to attack microbes such as viruses; heighten resistance to viral infection, enhance defenses against bacterial infections, and have natural antimicrobial effects that can boost natural cellular defenses. A 20% increase in cruciferous vegetables intake corresponds to a 40% decrease in cancer rates. ” short_quote=”Cruciferous vegetables contain compounds with proven and powerful immune-boosting effects “]

Cruciferous vegetables also contain sulphorophane, a powerful phytochemical that effectively reduce the occurrence and severity of  Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s disease, stroke while also enhancing stem cell growth.

Well! That certainly motivated me find a way to not just to eat cabbage but to enjoy it.

That’s when I discovered coleslaw. When I realized coleslaw doesn’t have to be slathered in mayonnaise, I discovered a whole new salad world.

Coleslaw from Dutch term koolsla (kool is the Dutch word for cabbage and sla part is Dutch abbreviation of salade). Dutch settlers brought their recipe for chilled cabbage salad to New York in the late 17th century.

Boring white cabbage is fun when tossed with other shredded cruciferous

  • red cabbage
  • Brussels sprouts
  • broccoli
  • cauliflower

Double the fun, flavor and nutrient density by adding other plant foods:

  • spinach
  • shredded carrots, or beets
  • apple or jicama matchsticks
  • chopped cilantro or parsley
  • toasted nuts or seeds
  • luscious chunks of avocado, seasonal mango, peach or pear for delightful textural contrast

Suddenly coleslaws aren’t just immune-boosting, brain protective arsenals, but also bright, beautiful, delicious, and gratifying.

Do you have a favorite coleslaw recipe?

Here are some of mine

Crimson Coleslaw

Purple cabbage has extra health benefits. The purple color comes from anthocyanins –  part of the flavonoid family of phytochemicals. Studies show they may improve blood flow, cognitive function, and help maintain thinking and memory by reducing inflammation and by inhibiting DNA damage in the brain.

Colored Coleslaw

This of this as a base recipe and change it up

  • mix two different color cruciferous vegetables – shredded Brussels sprouts or broccoli
  • swap the kale for spinach or another leafy green
  • use pumpkin seeds or other nuts
  • toss in a handful of seasonal fruit

Bell Pepper Coleslaw

The red, yellow, orange bell peppers change up the flavor and increase the nutrient density with carotenoids.

Crunchy Cruciferous Salad

 

 

Cauliflower “Fried Rice”

Here’s a fantastic way to enjoy cauliflower – a rather-tasteless-boring-white vegetable. Ha! Yeah those were my sentiments; I confess I avoided cauliflower until recently. Discovering how powerful it is to our immune system motivated me to find ways to eat it. And as always in my kitchen – nutritious must also be delicious!

So thank you SkinnyTaste for introducing me to Cauliflower “Fried Rice”! I’ve made multiple iterations; consider this a baseline rather than a precise recipe and go creative with what’s seasonal or in your kitchen.

Cauliflower is a cruciferous along with broccoli, Brussels sprouts and cabbage.

“ Cruciferous vegetables are among the most powerful weapons in our dietary arsenal against cancer. That alone would elevate it to the status of a SuperFood. Cruciferous vegetables boost the immune system, lowers the incidence of cataracts, supports cardiovascular health, builds bones and fights birth defects. They are some of the most nutrient-dense foods known offering an incredible high level of nutrition for a very low caloric cost. Steven Pratt MD and Kathy Matthews” SuperFoods: Fourteen Foods that Will Change Your Life”

Variations:

  • Skip the eggs, add edamame or tofu for protein to make it vegan
  • Or go the other way and add leftover chicken, pork or shrimp
  • Replace peas with edamame or snap peas (cut diagonally in halves or thirds)
  • Add mushrooms; wash, trim stems and slice. Cook with the chopped red onion

Bell Pepper Coleslaw

Cabbage used to make only a once-in-a-long-while appearance in my meals, but learning of the nutritional power of this mighty cruciferous and discovering the kitchen mandolin which slices it in a jiffy, cabbage is now a regular part of my salad repertoire.

“Cruciferous vegetables (cabbage is a cruciferous) are twice as powerful as other plant foods. In population studies, a 20 percent increase in plant food intake generally corresponds to a 20 percent decrease in cancer rates, but a 20 percent increase in cruciferous vegetable intake corresponds to a 40 percent decrease in cancer rates. One or more servings of cabbage per week reduces the occurrence of pancreatic cancer by 38 percent.” Super Immunity by Joel Fuhrman M.D.

Crimson Coleslaw

Visually delightful with its vibrant hues, this salad is super-charged with healthy benefits.

Cabbage is one of the most nutrient-dense foods that can boost our immune system and protect us from disease.

Although green cabbage is most common, red cabbage has added nutritional benefits. The rich red color of red cabbage providing unique antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

Beets also have exceptional nutritional powers.

[su_expanding_quote_web alignment=”full” source_site=”World’s Healthiest Foods: Beets” source_url=”www.websitename.com” full_quote=”Beets contain powerful nutrient compounds that help protect against heart disease, birth defects and certain cancers, especially colon cancer.” short_quote=”Beets help protect against heart disease, birth defects and certain cancers”]

Variations:

  •  Add 1/3 cup chopped parsley or cilantro
  •  Add 1 cup grated carrots
  • Add thinly sliced fennel bulb
  • To change up the dressing, add 1 – 2 tablespoons plain Greek yogurt to balsamic vinaigrette

Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Mushrooms and New Potatoes

Something magical happens in roasting vegetables, imbuing them with an aromatic flavors and softened luscious textures. This seems especially true for Brussels sprouts. Many a person who vowed not to like Brussels sprouts has been surprised into enjoying this dish.

This blend of vegetables is not only richly flavorful, it packs a mighty nutritional boost. Brussels sprouts, mushrooms and onions are GBOMBS – a group of the most nutrient-dense, healthy promoting foods on the planet.

[su_expanding_quote_book source_author=”Joel Fuhrman, MD” source_title=”Super Immunity” full_quote=”Certain plant foods contain significant amounts of substances that enhance human immune function and defenses against acute illness and chronic disease…Cruciferous vegetables (Brussels sprouts) are twice as powerful as other plant foods. A 20% increase in cruciferous vegetables intake corresponds to a 40% decrease in cancer rates…Mushrooms contain many unusual disease-fighting compounds that empower the body to react quickly and powerfully when we are exposed to viruses and bacteria.…Compounds in the onions have anti-inflammatory actions that protect against osteoarthritis and ward off infections.” short_quote=”Certain plant foods contain significant amounts of substances that enhance human immune function”]

Variations

  • Use 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary instead of thyme and mix in as indicated
  • Use 1/2 – 3/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes instead of herbs
  • After roasting, add 1/2 cup finely chopped mint or parsley – or a combination of both

 

Serving suggestions

  • For a vegan meal, serve with a quinoa pilaf with cranberries and toasted nuts (walnuts, almonds, pecan etc) and a leafy green salad.
  • For a special dinner, serve with Baked Salmon with Cranberry Thyme Crust or Rosemary and Garlic Roasted Pork (if you choose this option, make the Brussels Sprouts dish with mint or parsley instead of rosemary) and a Spinach and Orange Salad.

Recipes

Crunchy Healthy Broccoli Salad

Some of the most nutrient-dense (nutrients per calorie) foods on the planet are:

  • Greens (including cruciferous like broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage)
  • Beans
  • Onions
  • Mushrooms
  • Berries
  • Seeds/Nuts

Eating lots of these vegetables give us optimal amounts of immune-protective micronutrients that can fend of disease.

This salad combines 4 of those superfoods: broccoli, onions, nuts, and berries. It’s a delicious, nutritious way to eat more broccoli and change up dinner salad from leafy greens. Leftovers make a great lunch topped with some chicken and/or leftover grains.

Variations

  • Add leftover bacon, chopped
  • Add avocado, diced
  • Use pumpkin or sunflower seeds instead of nuts
  • Use raisins or other dried fruit instead of cranberries
  • Add 1/2 cup chopped cilantro or parsley
  • Mix in arugula or baby spinach for a more robust salad
  • Add leftover quinoa, brown rice or other grain for a “meal salad”
  • Top with leftover chicken

Cauliflower Alfredo Sauce

Cauliflower was a boring vegetable I pretty much ignored until I discovered its exceptional health boosting powers.

[su_expanding_quote_book source_author=”Michael Greger MD” source_title=”How to Not Die” full_quote=”Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower and kale can potentially prevent DNA damage, activate defenses against pathogens and pollutants, help prevent lymphoma, boost liver detox enzymes and target breast cancer cells. The component responsible for these benefits is thought to be sulforaphane, which is formed almost exclusively in cruciferous vegetables.” short_quote=”Cruciferous vegetables can potentially prevent DNA damage, activate defenses against pathogens and pollutants, and help prevent cancer”]

And Alfredo sauce was something I avoided as heavy, fatty and too white. I like color in my food after all. But my family loves Alfredo sauce.

This recipe happily marries the benefits of cauliflower with my family’s eating pleasure. Simple and quick to make, it can also be a vegan Alfredo sauce.

Recipe Variations

  • Use almond milk or broth for a lighter meal
  • Use dairy milk for a creamier sauce
  • Add 1/2 cup of shredded Parmesan for a special treat

Serving Variations

  • Toss with whole-wheat fettuccini, cooked shrimp and peas
  • Toss with bowtie pasta, chopped up leftover chicken and sautéed mushrooms
  • Saute sliced onion, sliced red bell pepper and coarsely chopped kale and toss with pasta
  • Toss with steamed edamame and pasta

Cauliflower “Fried Rice”

Here’s a fantastic way to enjoy cauliflower – a rather-tasteless-boring-white vegetable. Ha! Yeah those were my sentiments; I confess I avoided cauliflower until recently. Discovering how powerful it is to our immune system motivated me to find ways to eat it. And as always in my kitchen – nutritious must also be delicious!

So thank you SkinnyTaste for introducing me to Cauliflower “Fried Rice”! I’ve made multiple iterations; consider this a baseline rather than a precise recipe and go creative with what’s seasonal or in your kitchen.

Cauliflower is a cruciferous along with broccoli, Brussels sprouts and cabbage.

“ Cruciferous vegetables are among the most powerful weapons in our dietary arsenal against cancer. That alone would elevate it to the status of a SuperFood. Cruciferous vegetables boost the immune system, lowers the incidence of cataracts, supports cardiovascular health, builds bones and fights birth defects. They are some of the most nutrient-dense foods known offering an incredible high level of nutrition for a very low caloric cost. Steven Pratt MD and Kathy Matthews” SuperFoods: Fourteen Foods that Will Change Your Life”

Variations:

  • Skip the eggs, add edamame or tofu for protein to make it vegan
  • Or go the other way and add leftover chicken, pork or shrimp
  • Replace peas with edamame or snap peas (cut diagonally in halves or thirds)
  • Add mushrooms; wash, trim stems and slice. Cook with the chopped red onion

Bell Pepper Coleslaw

Cabbage used to make only a once-in-a-long-while appearance in my meals, but learning of the nutritional power of this mighty cruciferous and discovering the kitchen mandolin which slices it in a jiffy, cabbage is now a regular part of my salad repertoire.

“Cruciferous vegetables (cabbage is a cruciferous) are twice as powerful as other plant foods. In population studies, a 20 percent increase in plant food intake generally corresponds to a 20 percent decrease in cancer rates, but a 20 percent increase in cruciferous vegetable intake corresponds to a 40 percent decrease in cancer rates. One or more servings of cabbage per week reduces the occurrence of pancreatic cancer by 38 percent.” Super Immunity by Joel Fuhrman M.D.

Crimson Coleslaw

Visually delightful with its vibrant hues, this salad is super-charged with healthy benefits.

Cabbage is one of the most nutrient-dense foods that can boost our immune system and protect us from disease.

Although green cabbage is most common, red cabbage has added nutritional benefits. The rich red color of red cabbage providing unique antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

Beets also have exceptional nutritional powers.

[su_expanding_quote_web alignment=”full” source_site=”World’s Healthiest Foods: Beets” source_url=”www.websitename.com” full_quote=”Beets contain powerful nutrient compounds that help protect against heart disease, birth defects and certain cancers, especially colon cancer.” short_quote=”Beets help protect against heart disease, birth defects and certain cancers”]

Variations:

  •  Add 1/3 cup chopped parsley or cilantro
  •  Add 1 cup grated carrots
  • Add thinly sliced fennel bulb
  • To change up the dressing, add 1 – 2 tablespoons plain Greek yogurt to balsamic vinaigrette

Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Mushrooms and New Potatoes

Something magical happens in roasting vegetables, imbuing them with an aromatic flavors and softened luscious textures. This seems especially true for Brussels sprouts. Many a person who vowed not to like Brussels sprouts has been surprised into enjoying this dish.

This blend of vegetables is not only richly flavorful, it packs a mighty nutritional boost. Brussels sprouts, mushrooms and onions are GBOMBS – a group of the most nutrient-dense, healthy promoting foods on the planet.

[su_expanding_quote_book source_author=”Joel Fuhrman, MD” source_title=”Super Immunity” full_quote=”Certain plant foods contain significant amounts of substances that enhance human immune function and defenses against acute illness and chronic disease…Cruciferous vegetables (Brussels sprouts) are twice as powerful as other plant foods. A 20% increase in cruciferous vegetables intake corresponds to a 40% decrease in cancer rates…Mushrooms contain many unusual disease-fighting compounds that empower the body to react quickly and powerfully when we are exposed to viruses and bacteria.…Compounds in the onions have anti-inflammatory actions that protect against osteoarthritis and ward off infections.” short_quote=”Certain plant foods contain significant amounts of substances that enhance human immune function”]

Variations

  • Use 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary instead of thyme and mix in as indicated
  • Use 1/2 – 3/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes instead of herbs
  • After roasting, add 1/2 cup finely chopped mint or parsley – or a combination of both

 

Serving suggestions

  • For a vegan meal, serve with a quinoa pilaf with cranberries and toasted nuts (walnuts, almonds, pecan etc) and a leafy green salad.
  • For a special dinner, serve with Baked Salmon with Cranberry Thyme Crust or Rosemary and Garlic Roasted Pork (if you choose this option, make the Brussels Sprouts dish with mint or parsley instead of rosemary) and a Spinach and Orange Salad.

Crunchy Cruciferous Salad

Leafy greens and cruciferous vegetables (such as broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower) have more micronutrients than any other food. Micronutrients (vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals and fiber) are essential for our survival and longevity.

This salad is great on its own, but I often make a double batch to use as a base for different salads throughout the week.

Variations:

  • Exchange the broccoli or cauliflower with shredded cabbage or Brussels sprouts
  • Replace carrots with beets
  • Toss some Crunchy Cruciferous Salad  with leafy greens (spinach, arugula, mixed greens  – whatever is on hand).
  • Mix with leftover grains (rice, quinoa) for a quick meal
  • Or make a tortilla wrap adding greens and an extra drizzle of salad dressing.