Food, Health

Eating for Fertility: Part II

In Eating for Fertility Part I, I explored the connection between aphrodisiacs and fertility. Now lets really dig into fertility health. What you put in your mouth before conception is just as important as after! Preconception health awareness should start 6 months to one year before conception. And this should include both parents. That’s right guys, you have responsibility in fertility health too! As many as one in six couples will experience fertility problems within the first year trying to conceive. However, the odds of conception can be increased by making a few nutritional and lifestyle changes.

There are two basic tenants of fertility health: the removal of toxins and the infusion of nutrients. Environmental toxins include additives and preservatives in our food, toxins in household cleaning products as well as the products we use to clean our bodies and guilty pleasures such as alcohol, tobacco and caffeine.

The good news is that simple changes in your diet can boost your fertility and bring your body into top baby making shape. Diets of both men and women trying to conceive (TTC) should be high in folic acid, vitamin D, vitamin E and zinc. It’s also very important both parents eat clean, organic foods free from pesticides, fungicides, additives and preservatives. Men and women eating for fertility should incorporate the following foods into their diet:

Whole Grains – whole grains such as brown rice, quinoa, and oats are good for insulin function. Refined grains (bleached white rice, flour and pasta) should be avoided as they cause insulin spikes which can affect estrogen levels.

Dark Leafy Greens – greens such as spinach, kale, swiss chard and conifers such as broccoli, cauliflower and rabe are high in folate which is important for conception and fetal development.

Protein – vegetarian protein from sources like beans, peas, legumes and nuts are high in iron and preferred to animal protein. You don’t need to become a vegetarian, but meat should be limited to small occasional portions.

Good Fats– omit trans fats and saturated fats from your diet, but include monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats and omega-3 fatty acids. These will reduce inflammation and any insulin sensitivity. They can be found in avocados, nuts, chia seeds and salmon.

Organic Produce – fresh organic fruits and vegetables are packed with antioxidants that will promote general and fertility health. Many fruits such as citrus, oranges, strawberries (and green leafy vegetables) are high in folate.

Ok, so for the average healthy conscious person the above list seems pretty much like a no brainer, right? Yeah, that’s a great first step. Taking a conscious approach to fertility simply by adjusting your diet and lifestyle will increase your chances of conception. Removing environmental toxins, and making positive, organic food choices has been shown to increase the chances of having a healthy, happy, comfortable pregnancy, a positive and safe birth with little or no intervention, a shorter postpartum recovery period and a baby who is healthy and present.

So what else? There’s got to be more, right? You guessed it, Super foods! That’s what else! If you’re not sure what super foods are, you can catch up with an awesome post by my pal, Lauren here. If you want the cliffs notes, super foods are nutrient dense foods that have an abundance of minerals, vitamins and antioxidants. In Eating for Fertility III, I’ll dig into super foods and fertility. Super foods for super baby making! Stay tuned!

Food

Ode to the Pineapple

Pineapple. I am obsessed. Pineapple and mangoes are my favorite juicy fruits. It pains me to think about the carbon footprint required to transport these delicious tropical fruits from their warm homes to a rainy, cold Jersey Shore for me to enjoy. But I can’t help it. I am addicted. I love tropical fruit! I will save the mango love for another time, this post is all about my prickly tangy sweet yellow love. Not only is fresh pineapple juicy, delicious, and refreshing, but it is also very good for you. Pineapple belongs to the bromeliacea family Bromeliacae foods are named as such because they are packed with bromelian enzymes. Bromelian enzymes help the body balance and neutralize the fluids in the body, ensuring the body is neither too acidic nor too alkaline, it stimulates the pancreas to secrete hormones that aid in digestion and is also an anti-inflammatory. These awesome enzymes promote healing in the body and can only be found in fresh pineapple. The enzymes are destroyed during the canning process (heating/pasteurizing for preservation).

In addition to the bromelian enzymes, pineapples are packed with vitamin C, B1 (smaller amounts of B2, B3, B5 and B6) and it’s a great source of manganese, copper, magnesium, potassium, beta-carotene, folic acid and even dietary fiber (that vitamin list makes pineapple a GREAT pre-conception food!). For a detailed nutritional analysis check this site.

Considering the globalization of this great big world of ours, pineapple is readily available throughout the United States 12 months of the year, even if you don’t live in Hawaii. Many grocery stores such as Wegmans, Whole Foods and even Acme now neatly package fresh pineapple. If you don’t want to pay extra for the convenience purchasing the full pineapple and cutting it yourself is a bit more economical.

When shopping for pineapple, choose one that is golden, heavy and smelling sweet. Be sure to check the bottom is free from decay or moldy spots. Cut off the crown of the pineapple, turn it upside down on a plate and leave it in the fridge a few hours before you plan to eat it. This allows the sweetness of the juice (at the bottom of the pineapple) to evenly distribute throughout the entire fruit. To store cut pineapple, keep it in an airtight container and let it soak in it’s own juice. It should keep for up to 1 week.

Please note, pineapple is an extremely sweet fruit with high fructose levels. If you are in good health, pineapple should not pose a problem, however diabetics or those with blood sugar issues should consult their doctor.

I am off to eat some pineapple and plain Greek yogurt for breakfast. Yum!


Food, Health

Root Down…Veggies!

The roots of any plant are its anchor and foundation; they are the essential parts that support and nourish the plant. Root vegetables lend these properties to us when we eat them, making us feel physically and mentally grounded and rooted, increasing our stability, stamina and endurance. Roots are a rich source of nutritious complex carbohydrates, providing a steady source of necessary sugars to the body. Instead of upsetting blood sugar levels like refined sweet foods, they regulate them. Since they absorb, assimilate and supply plants with vital nutrients, roots likewise increase absorption and assimilation in our digestive tracts.

Long roots, like burdock, carrots, parsnips and daikon radish, are excellent blood purifiers and can help improve circulation in the body and increase mental clarity. Round roots, like turnips, radishes, beets and rutabagas, are nourishing to the stomach, spleen, pancreas and reproductive organs and can help regulate blood sugar and moods, and alleviate cravings. Some.

Recipe of the Month: Roasted Root Vegetables

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 25-35 minutes

Yield: 4-6 servings

Ingredients:

1 sweet potato

2 parsnips

2 carrots

2 turnips or 1 large rutabaga

1 daikon radish (or substitute/add in your favorites, like squash)

olive oil

salt and pepper

herbs: rosemary, thyme or sage (fresh if possible)


Directions
:

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

2. Wash and chop all vegetables into large bite-sized pieces.

3. Place in a large baking dish with sides.

4. Drizzle with olive oil; mix well to coat each vegetable lightly with oil.

5. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and herbs.

6. Bake uncovered for 25-35 minutes until vegetables are tender and golden brown, check every 10 minutes to stir and make sure veggies are not sticking.

Enjoy!


Food

Vegan Tastings in Monmouth County

Last Friday Stephen took a lunch break and went to the Atlantic Highlands Farmers Market where he found the Veggie Brothers!

Veggie Brothers is a Jersey Shore based company that ships prepared vegetarian and vegan foods nationally. They are the first and only on-line vegan restaurant featuring vegetarian versions of our favorite classic American dishes. They offer well over 100 menu items including breakfast, lunch and dinner, soups, appetizers, sides and even dessert! Products are either 100% vegan or 100% vegetarian and the majority of their ingredients are organic and GMO FREE! Sounds win-win, right?

3HC have known about the Veggie Brothers for a while, but unfortunately we’ve never actually tasted their creations. What a mistake, we should have dug in years ago!! Needless, to say, when Stephen called I was psyched to find out that they’re the AH farmers market and told him to bring one of everything home. He brought home the Hot & Spicy Buffalo Wings, Southern Fried Soy Chicken Nuggets, Blackbean Burger, Lentil Walnut Burger, and the Pioneer Burger.

So, we haven’t made it through all of our purchases yet, but so far here’s the deets:

Southern Fried Soy Nuggets: We had these last Wednesday after my Karma Yoga Class at Fair Haven Yoga. We paired them with a big salad of mixed greens (radicchio, spinach, kale and dandelion), sweet jersey corn, red bell peppers, avocado, shredded carrots and sunflower seeds. When I took them out of the oven, I was surprised at the amount of grease on the pan. Then I realized that “southern fried” anything has grease whether or not it’s soy based! So, before I dished them out I placed them on a paper towel to remove any excess. Both Stephen and I dipped our soy nuggets in a little bit of honey and let me say, they were divine!! Super crispy on the outside and tender on the inside. DELICIOUS! I don’t often eat this sort of food (fried chicken or nuggets – even if they are soy) so it was a great treat….and for once a month – this is a win-win!!!

Lentil Walnut Burger: We cooked these last night. (See above!) Baked in the oven at 350 for about 30 minutes (Stephen likes things well done and crispy!). They were served on whole grain buns and topped with spinach, tomato, avocado, sliced cucumbers and sweet pea sprouts. Stephen had cheese and ketchup as well, I used a bit of honey mustard. We paired the burger with some fresh Jersey corn and shared a sweet potato. On a side note, the Jersey corn is amazing this year! In fact it was so sweet and delicious, I tried it and loved it raw (Stephen did insist on cooking though). So, back to the Lentil Walnut Burger.. 4 Words for you OUT. OF. THIS. WORLD. It was the best veggie burger that I didn’t make myself from scratch that I’ve had in a LONG time. It was so completely filling and hearty that I could barely finish half! Next time, we’re definitely ordering the 12 pack instead of the individuals!

So, we haven’t gotten to the Spicy Buffalo Wings or the Pioneer Burger yet. They’re next on the list. I have to say, Veggie Brothers have some stiff (family) competition with Kayas Kitchen – I have a serious love for Kaya’s Karma Wings. So much that my mouth just watered while I typed that out. I am also super curious about the Pioneer Burger. Stephen thinks the veggie burger at Kayas is the closest flavor he’s had to a beef burger. Something in my gut tells me the Pioneer Burger and Kayas veggie burger are one in the same. A taste test will have to reveal whether or not my instincts are right.

So long as we’re talking about Vegetarian and Vegan cuisine. I am happy to say that the Good Karma Cafe in Red Bank, NJ is finally open!! It has been a long wait and we’re excited to have a vegan go to in Red Bank. Stephen picked up a TLT sandwich (tempeh version of a S.A.D. BLT) for us to share for lunch and a raw key lime pie for dessert after dinner. I am unhappy to say that those two items cost us $19.00. Rye Bread, shredded iceberg lettuce, sliced tomato, too much vegan mayo and less than 2 oz of smoked tempeh for $10. If you’re going to charge me $10 for a vegan BLT, at least give me a nutritious green like kale or spinach or arugula instead of regular “l” The raw key lime pie was fabulous, and I suppose I am used to paying $7+ for a raw dessert. I will go back and try more, because I am excited about their raw menu choices and I think it’s important to support local small business especially when it’s a healthy business!!

There has been a lot of hub-ub on the local message boards about the pricing at Good Karma Cafe. (and the people defending them on those boards aren’t doing them any favors). The prices at Good Karma Cafe are extremely high, higher than other vegan restaurants. I blame Red Bank for this, not the Good Karma Cafe. Commercial/Retail space in Red Bank is outrageous and I don’t think Good Karma is price gouging, I think they’re just trying to make their rent. *sigh* wouldn’t it be great if every restaurant in every town had vegetarian and vegan offerings?? Maybe some day….

Until then, try something new and Keep it Fresh!