By Dr. Janet Brill
December is the season of nonstop giving…giving to your friends, family, and strangers. Now that the holidays are over, it’s important to take the time to refocus, and to switch it up by concentrating on giving to oneself and at the same time, taking a part in maintaining the health of our planet. With a few simple substitutions in the kitchen, you can change over to a greener life, without sacrificing one ounce of good taste. Here are 5 steps to a greener, leaner, you:
1. More Plants, Less Animals
One of the core science-based truths is clearly emerging: more plants=a longer, healthier life. (For both humans and the planet.) Be sure to enjoy at least 4 vegetables and 3 fruit servings daily; boost that number even higher to go a deeper shade of green.
2. Choose Plant Protein, Often:
Switch to a far leaner but still delicious vegetable protein source whenever possible and your waist will thank you for it. Choose such lean and green proteins as beans, nuts, seeds, and soy in place of animal protein on most days of the week and limit beef, pork and lamb to no more than 1x/week. (Omit processed red meats such as sausage and cold cuts as much as possible as consumption has been linked to increased rates of heart disease.)
3. Go Fish:
The American Heart Association recommends that for good heart health, we consume at least two servings of fatty fish (rich in heart-healthy omega-3 fat) every week. (Salmon is always an excellent choice as it is rich in omega-3 fat and low in mercury.) Most seafood is considered a healthful lean protein as it is rich in high quality protein, low in saturated fat and high in the vital nutrients we need-such as omega-3 fat, vitamin D and selenium. Enjoy a variety of seafood for optimal health but be sure to check out the greener sustainably harvested catches. Download the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s “Super Green” and “sustainable sushi guides” to help you choose wisely no matter where you are.
4. Eat Fresh and Whole:
Try to include more food in its natural state, the way Mother Nature intended for food to be eaten. For example, eat an apple rather than apple juice; a baked potato instead of potato chips. Try to include something fresh and whole at each and every meal such as fresh berries or melon with breakfast, a handful of raw almonds or walnuts for a snack, a sliced avocado on your sandwich, and a large, dark green salad served alongside dinner.
5. Eat Dark Leafy Greens:
Dark leafy greens are simply loaded with anti-oxidants. Choose organic whenever possible as spinach and lettuce have the highest pesticide residues according to the environmental working group (www.ewg.org).Those plant chemicals that help squelch damaging, disease-causing free radicals. One of my favorites is arugula. Of all the salad greens, arugula is probably one of the most nutritious. Packed with disease-fighting phytochemicals, vitamins, and minerals, the benefits of arugula are nothing short of extraordinary. Arugula is a member of the potent cancer-fighting cruciferous family of vegetables that also include: broccoli, cauliflower, kale, Brussels sprouts and bok choy. With its slightly peppery, mustard-like flavor, it can truly spruce up any meal. For a very few calories, you also get a ton of vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, calcium and iron. What’s more, Arugula contains beta carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin. These are carotenoids or plant pigments which function in the prevention of diseases like cancer and macular degeneration. Try my Whole-grain Pizza with Arugula, Eggplant, and Caramelized Onion recipe below, YUM!
I urge all of you to start today to give to yourself by eating for your health and the health of the planet. Going greener can help you lose weight, sleep better, eat more sustainably, and live life to the fullest!
Best of health,
Mia’s Whole-grain Pizza with Arugula, Eggplant, and Caramelized Onion Recipe:
From the kitchen of Dr. Janet
Try this arugula pizza to help the medicine go down as leaf for leaf; this antioxidant goldmine is one of the most potent cancer-prevention foods around. Take a tip from the French and Italians, make this dark leafy green a staple of your healthy, green, eating plan.
This recipe makes two 12-inch pizzas. One pound of store-bought whole-wheat pizza dough made with olive oil can be substituted for homemade dough if desired. If King Arthur flour is not available in your area, substitute with 1 cup whole-wheat flour mixed with 1 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour. This is for you, my dearest daughter Mia, who loves pizza!
In a food processor fitted with the plastic blade blend the flour, yeast, and salt. In a 2-cup measuring cup mix the water, olive oil, and honey. With the food processor running add the water-oil mixture and blend until the flour forms a ball of dough. Process for 1 minute to knead the dough. The dough will be a bit sticky, but if too wet, add up to 1/2 cup more flour. Spray a bowl with nonstick cooking spray. Put the dough into the prepared bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until the dough is doubled in size about 1 hour.
In a large skillet over medium heat, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil. Add the onion, salt, and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally until golden brown, about 15 minutes. Remove to a bowl. In the same skillet, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add the eggplant and salt and cook stirring for 2 minutes. Cover and cook stirring occasionally for 5 minutes to soften the eggplant. Uncover and cook for 2 to 3 more minutes to remove any excess moisture. Remove to a bowl. In the same skillet heat 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add arugula and cook, tossing the arugula until it is wilted. Remove from the skillet and set aside.
To assemble the pizzas, preheat the oven, and a baking stone if desired, to 425°F. Punch down the dough and divide into two pieces. Set on a lightly floured surface and cover with a towel to rest for 5 minutes. For each pizza: sprinkle a baking sheet with 1 teaspoon cornmeal. Roll one piece of dough into a 12-inch circle and place on the prepared baking sheet. Brush dough with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Distribute 1/2 cup caramelized onions, 1/2 cup cooked eggplant, and 1/4 cup arugula on the dough. Sprinkle each with 2 tablespoons shredded cheese. Repeat with other piece of dough. Bake the pizzas for about 15 minutes until the crust is lightly browned. Cut each pizza into 8 slices.
Makes 16 slices
NUTRITION IN A BOX
Per slice pizza:
Recipe Source: An excerpt from the book Prevent a Second Heart Attack: 8 Foods, 8 Weeks to Reverse Heart Disease by Janet Bond Brill, Ph.D., R.D., LDN; Published by Three Rivers Press; February 2011; $15.00US; 978-0-307-46525-2; Copyright © 2011 Janet Brill, Ph.D. To learn more about this book please visit www.DrJanet.com