You Get Two A’s for Adding Oregano to Your Diet

Well today was the last day of school for my teenagers so I guess my brain is thinking report cards and grades.

If you have oregano growing in your garden you get an A for antibacterial and an A for antioxidant. These are two health benefits of adding this herb to your favorite dishes.

Oregano is also an excellent source of vitamin K, and a good source of fiber, iron, manganese, calcium, vitamin C, vitamin A, and omega-3.

If you have never grown oregano it is one of the easiest herbs to grow. In fact, most herbs do well in poor soil and do not require much attention to survive.

This picture is my oregano that I planted from seed last year. I was happy to see it survived the Minnesota winter and came back this year. Now I need to start adding it to my meals to get my antioxidants.

When cooking with fresh oregano add toward the end of cooking as it may lose flavor easily if cooked too long. If you are using dried oregano add that at beginning of cooking to allow flavor to blend with other ingredients. If a recipe calls for dried oregano you probably want to use twice that amount of fresh chopped oregano leaves. Of course the amount really depends on what taste you prefer.

Oregano tastes great added to pizza sauce, omelets, frittatas, garlic bread, or salad greens.

Here are some more ideas for recipes using fresh oregano.  Or try Food Network's Feta, Black Olive & Oregano Salad.

When the fresh tomatoes are ready I think I will try the original garlic bread, bruschetta!

Bruschetta with Mozzarella and Fresh Oregano    (from The Joy of Cooking)

Place on grill or under broiler 8 thick slices crusty firm Italian bread or other country-style bread.

Grill or broil, turning once, until golden brown, about 3 minutes each side. Remove from the heat and rub the surface with 2 large cloves garlic, halved. Brush with 3-4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil.

Top each slice with shredded mozzarella cheese (about 8 oz total). Broil just until the cheese is bubbling. Top with diced fresh tomatoes (about 1 large tomato total) and chopped fresh oregano (about 2 tablespoons total).

Enjoy Eating Oregano!

Diabetes and Vitamin D: You Might Be Deficient if. . .

We can all probably relate to one of more of Jeff Foxworthy's "You might be a redneck . . ." jokes.

Although not nearly as much fun, we can also relate to low vitamin D if you look at the 25 reasons below associated with Vitamin D deficiency. A few months ago I did a post on the ABC's of diabetes . Now let's learn about D.

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3 Ways to Add Immune Boosting Romaine to Your Diabetes Defense

Cold and flu season is definitely here. Along with hand washing, adequate sleep, and stress management, eating well is more important to keep your immune system strong.  Romaine lettuce beats all other lettuce varieties when it comes to immune-boosting nutrients. It's a great source of vitamin B1, B2, C and folic acid. All of these are important for keeping your immune system strong enough to fight off cold and flu viruses.

How does Romaine help fight diabetes? Well the low calorie content make it a great food for weight loss. Just remember to go easy on the salad dressing.

The most common way we tend to eat Romaine lettuce is in Ceasar salad. But you can make any other salad variety, add Romaine to your sandwich, or make a wrap!

Here's a couple recipes to get you started. Both are low calorie and contain other immune-boosting foods as well. I encourage you to share any other ways you enjoy meals with Romaine!

Walnut Romaine Salad

Chicken Lettuce Wraps

Chili is a recipe loaded with diabetes fighting ingredients!

Chili is one of my favorite cold weather foods. Besides tasting great and warming you up on a cold day, almost every ingredient in chili has health benefits. Here is my family's favorite recipe. It's easy and good for you too!

  • 1 lb lean ground beef, browned and drained
  • 2 cans kidney beans rinsed and drained
  • 2 cans tomatoes
  • 1 medium to large onion chopped
  • 1 green pepper chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic crushed
  • 2-3 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • salt to taste

My favorite way to cook chili is in the crock pot and often I do soups overnight because I cook the ground beef, onions and garlic and then throw everything in the crock pot while I am cooking another dinner. That way I cook two meals at once. When I get up in the morning I turn it off, let it cool and before I go out the door put it in the fridge. All that's left is to heat it up for supper in the evening!

The health benefits of chili for diabetes are numerous. Kidney beans are one of the best food sources of fiber providing almost half our daily requirement. Even though the beans are carbohydrate the fiber slows down the blood sugar rise after the meal. Kidney beans also have 57% of our daily need for folate, which lowers homocysteine levels and 20% of our need for magnesium, a natural blood pressure medicine.

Chili powder, ground from red chili peppers, contains capsaicin, which fights inflammation, reduces insulin needs and helps lower blood sugars.

If you go easy on the salt and choose lean ground beef, every other ingredient in chili will help you fight diabetes in one way or another.  If you are watching your weight, 1 small to medium bowl of chili will provide about 500 calories. My problem is that I love bread with my chili, which puts me well over my weight control portion.

The great thing about making chili and other soups is that you can add and subtract ingredients to your liking and create your own favorite recipe. If you have a favorite chili recipe please share!

Blueberries Make an Excellent Snack Choice for Fighting Diabetes

Here's my afternoon snack today: organic vanilla yogurt with blueberries and banana. All for just over 200 calories! Blueberries are in season so enjoy some soon with the tasty recipe ideas below and let the antioxidants and anti-inflammatories go to work helping you fight diabetes!

Take a look at the powerful health benefits you get . . .  

  • 38% more antioxidants than wine to protect your heart
  • low calorie and high fiber to help with weight loss
  • help protect the brain from dementia and Alzheimers
  • good source of soluble fiber pectin to help lower cholesterol
  • reducing inflammation in digestive system
  • same compound found in cranberries that helps prevent urinary tract infections

BE SURE TO ENJOY YOUR BLUEBERRIES UNCOOKED. HEAT WILL DAMAGE THE ANTIOXIDANTS!

1 cup of blueberries is about 80 calories, 1 carb choice and 4 grams fiber. Also an excellent source of vitamin C and E.

So grab some blueberries at your local farmers market or grocer, whip up a smoothie or parfait, or try the recipes below!  . . . . and share your favorites with me too!!!

Fruit S'mores recipe

Blueberry Cheesecake for Calorie Counters 

Blueberry Tart with Walnut Crust

Enjoy Patriotic Strawberry Recipes While Getting Powerful Nutrients!

Strawberries are one of the top 20 antioxidant fruits and veggies -  great for keeping our brain healthy and preventing cancer.  Better yet, they taste great and are an excellent source of fiber and vitamin C. If you're counting calories, one cup is only 50 calories! 

One of my favorite meals during strawberry season is grilled chicken breast cut up into a green salad with sliced almonds and a little drizzle of salad dressing.  

For a fun patriotic dessert make July 4th Flag Fruit Pizza!  (I use pre-made sugar cookie dough when I'm in a hurry.)

Or try this low calorie Strawberry Smoothie Recipe: 1 cup ripe strawberries, 1 banana, 1-2 tbsp honey, 1/2 cup yogurt vanilla or plain, 1/2 cup ice and 1/2 cup water. You can also add a tablespoon of ground flax seed for omega-3 if you like. I like to save my too-ripe bananas in freezer and use in place of ice for smoothies. Just remember the key to weight control with smoothies is keeping the portion to an 8 oz glass, unless this is your meal.

If you're looking for more information on buying, storing, or freezing strawberries check out this  Strawberry Hints & Tips Guide . You'll also find some great recipes such as Strawberries Dipped in Chocolate!

Beat Diabetes with a Color Filled Plate

Here's a short message to remind you of the power of fruits and vegetables in fighting disease  – especially diabetes.   (and be sure to check out the video link below)

How will more fruits and veggies help diabetes?

  • Low calorie to help you lose weight and prevent diabetes.
  • Lower carb to lower insulin needs.
  • Great source of potassium to help lower blood pressure.
  • Loaded with phytochemicals that fight heart disease, cancer and other health problems.
  • Great source of fiber.
  • Sodium free.
  • Most are naturally fat free and those that do have fat contain heart healthy fat.
  • Great source of vitamin C.
  • Eating more replaces high calorie starches and sweets that are unhealthy.

There is one catch. You have to make the effort to change your eating and food buying habits. This takes time and effort but is well worth the payoff of preventing diabetes, lowering blood pressure, cholesterol and losing weight. This is probably the most powerful diet change you can make.

Start small by choosing one meal to add vegetables and one snack to add a fruit. Take advantage of fruits and veggies in season when they taste better and cost less. Check out the farmers markets or try growing something of your own!

To get you motivated check out this great 2 minute video and start to Color Yourself Healthy!

Boost Your Immune System with Sweet Potatoes

With all of the viral illness going around this time of year we could all use a boost to help us stay well. And what better way to get that than naturally in a great tasting food packed with power nutrients?

What is in sweet potatoes that help our immunity?    Beta-carotene

Beta-carotene is a powerful antioxidant that helps our body fight against heart disease and cancer also. Sweet potatoes are also a good source of vitamin C, potassium, manganese, and fiber. With 3 grams fiber, no fat and only 100 calories, this vegetable is a great choice if you are trying to lose weight, lower cholesterol or control blood sugars!

Have you always wondered if sweet potatoes and yams were the same? Well they are not. True yams are tropical tubers often found in Africa or Caribbean. They have a crisp, bland, white to yellow flesh and are lower in beta-carotene.  

 Try these recipes to add sweet potatoes to your regular menu – not just for Thanksgiving dinner!

Baked Sweet Potato

Wash well. Pierce with fork in several places. Place on baking sheet. The sweet potato might ooze syrup while baking. Bake at 400 degrees for 45-60 minutes, depending on size. If you are in a hurry you can microwave them instead for 4-6 minutes on high power.

For a sweeter taste try these Candied Sweet Potatoes.  

Or . . . try Oven Sweet Potato Fries for a healthier french fry. 

Green Tea May Help Prevent Diabetes, and more . . .

Polyphenols,  Flavanoids,  Antioxidants . . .  Does it sound like I'm speaking in another language?  Well, you don't have to know what these words mean or even be able to pronounce them to know that they are in green tea and may help you prevent or control diabetes.

How can green tea prevent diabetes?   There's something in green tea called EGCG for short, that researchers think may help your body use your own insulin better – which helps keep blood sugars in good control. Green tea may also help control excess sugar production in the liver – which may help lower fasting blood sugar.

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Fight Diabetes and Heart Disease with Broccoli

Researchers have found another potential benefit from eating more fruits and veggies. Apparently the compound called sulforaphane in broccoli may repair blood vessels that have been damaged from high blood sugars. 

Sulforaphane was first discovered in 1992 and was found to rid the body of carcinogens and pollutants that cause cancer.  Now we have yet another reason to eat broccoli more often.

We know that blood vessel damage can start long before diabetes is diagnosed and once you do have diabetes your risk of having a heart attack or stroke is 5 times higher than without diabetes. So I guess the time for me to start eating more broccoli is now.

Broccoli also is an excellent source of fiber and great for weight control. One cup raw or 1/2 cup cooked is only about 25 calories.

Sulforaphane does survive cooking but you don't want to boil broccoli or cook too long because you will lose other nutrients. Broccoli is a great source of vitamins A, C, and K.

You will find one of my favorite broccoli recipes in my July e-zine. The sweet crunchy flavors taste great this time of summer. Beef Broccoli Stir-Fry is another one of my favorites. I would suggest using low-sodium instead of regular soy sauce in this recipe. Enjoy!