Commit to Healthier Eating Habits during Stress Awareness Month

Stress RelaxIn an age where over-scheduling and an “I can do it all” mentality are commonplace, Americans are feeling more stressed than ever before. According to a 2013 research report by Carnegie Mellon University, Americans’ stress levels have increased 10-30% over the last three decades. Furthermore, individuals experiencing high stress levels over extended periods of time are at a higher risk for autoimmune disease, diabetes and certain types of cancer. Since April is Stress Awareness Month, we’re sharing solutions for better managing fluctuating stress levels.

Salmon with dark greens
Salmon with dark leafy greens

 

One way you can keep stress levels in check is by practicing healthier eating habits. Refined sugars and complex carbohydrates have been found to intensify stress. While fish, like salmon and sardines, eggs, pumpkin seeds and dark leafy greens, including watercress, can assist the body in minimizing inflammation–which can be onset by both emotional and physical stressors. Researcher Joe Hibbeln of the National Institutes of Health in a NPR article about stress and diet says, “You can either be good at weathering stress or you can be brittle. And omega-3s [can help] make your stress system more flexible.”

Despite how insurmountable making dramatic lifestyle changes to combat stress while working, raising a family or running a household may seem, small steps can make a big impact and improve your overall health. Start with a bit of planning.

Watercress, sardine and orange salad.
Watercress, sardine and orange salad

Instead of reaching for convenient, sugary treats and preservative-laden fast food when you’re on the go, prepare and store nutrient dense, omega-3-rich meals in advance and store in tote-able containers. We recommend Whole Living’s Watercress Salad with Sardines, Oranges and Pepitas and Bon Appetit’s Pan-Seared Sausage with Lady Apples and Watercress, brimming with foods that contribute to a healthy immune system. Bonus: Olive oil-packed fish like sardines are affordable alternatives to their more expensive wild-caught cousins while offering similar health benefits.

Lastly, don’t forget to add Live Gourmet® Living Upland Cress and Grower Pete’s Organic Living Watercress; they’re rich in phytonutrients, antioxidants and key vitamins and minerals!

For more stress-management tips, read “Healthy Eating to Decrease Stress” on WebMD.

 

Spring Renewal: Greens Meet Grains

Now that spring is here and our surrounding flora and fauna are emerging from their winter slumbers, we too can experience a renewal. One way we can achieve this is by consciously eating more fruits, vegetables and whole grains.

According to a Harvard.edu article, fresh produce and grains, like brown rice and multigrain bread, are some of the best sources of fiber. The essential carbohydrate regulates blood sugar and cholesterol levels and helps us feel full longer. While distinguishing itself from other starches and sugars, fiber doesn’t negatively contribute to your caloric intake.

Avocado, radish, upland cress, sea salt are arranged on a table
Click here to view a Flipagram video of assembling Avocado Toast with Upland Cress

Leafy greens like watercress and upland cress also provide servings of fiber. Together with an organic grain, watercress can complete the ultimate hearty meal. We’ve dreamt up two unconventional dishes that include high levels of fiber that you can eat morning, noon or night. Bonus: They also require little preparation and clean-up time.

Want to shake up your morning routine? Try Avocado toast with Live Gourmet® Living Upland Cress or Grower Pete’s Organic Living Watercress. Toast a piece of organic whole grain bread to your desired doneness, layer with thinly sliced avocado and radish (which is also high in fiber), top with a cup of watercress, a pinch of sea salt and cayenne pepper, a drizzle of olive oil and a squeeze of lime. Don’t forget to snap a photo of the colorful toast, which will be the envy of your Instagram foodie followers.

Savory Oatmeal with upland cress and root vegetables is a twist on breakfast for dinner. It’s even vegetarian! All you need is a whole grain like rolled oats, parmesan cheese, root vegetables (we used carrots and parsnip) and Live Gourmet® Living Upland Cress or Grower Pete’s Organic Living Watercress.

Ingredients, including watercress, parsnip and rolled oat
Click here to view a Flipagram video of preparing Savory Oatmeal with Watercress

To prepare: Cook the oats according to packaging instructions while you roast the root vegetables in the oven at 400 degrees. Once vegetables are tender, add them to the oats and mix in a ¼ cup of cheese. Last but not least, add a mountain of upland cress or watercress for a subtle spicy bite.

Continue to experiment this spring by combining fruits, vegetable and whole grains to create your own unique, vitamin-rich meals. Once summer hits, you’ll have developed eating habits that make you feel energized and healthier. You may even not eye last year’s swimsuit with your usual wariness.

Prepare to be Marketed To: Fruits and Vegetables Take Center Stage

Looks like 2015 may have just gotten a whole lot healthier, thanks to a new ad campaign called: FNV, the cool, new way to refer to fruits and vegetables. Here, at Hollandia Produce, we couldn’t be happier. As farmers ourselves and longtime supporters of Produce for Better Health, we’ve been promoting healthy eating and the benefits FNV for years!fnv logo

Boulder, Colorado-based ad agency Victors & Spoils, whose client list includes juggernauts Coca-Cola and General Mills, just put America on notice with their in-your-face “Prepare to be marketed to” campaign video teaser.

green healthy foodThe pro-healthy eating campaign will start primarily on social media networks like Twitter, posting short videos featuring actress Jessica Alba and NFL quarterbacks Colin Kaepernick and Cam Newton. Additional videos will be released in coming days starring Curry, New York Giant Victor Cruz, actress Kristen Bell, and others.

Replete with its own fashionable logo, the FNV campaign is the brainchild of Partnership for a Healthier America, that was created in conjunction with First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! initiative to get families to eat better and exercise more.

Michael Jacobson, Executive Director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest noted that an advertising campaign for fruits and vegetables may be powerful in influencing eating decisions, but that its effectiveness will depend on how much support the campaign receives. What do you think? Will athletes and actors purporting the benefits of FNV be enough? Only time will tell; stay tuned!

In the meantime, feed your curiosity and your body with this delicious superfood salad and this entertaining video clip.

FNV, PREPARE TO BE MARKETED TO from Team FNV on Vimeo.

https://vimeo.com/120688660

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Top 5 Superfoods for a New Year/New You

If you’ve resolved to create a “new” you this New Year, we applaud you. While self-improvement involves many areas, improving your diet and health, will invariably impact most other aspects of your life.2015 Goals

According to a study that looked at the highest concentrations of 17 nutrients considered important for public health and published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the following are the top five powerhouse vegetables considered the most nutrient-dense foods available today. We recommend you begin your New Year/New You resolution by incorporating these top five super foods into your daily meal planning.

1. Watercress: Based on its nutrient-to-calorie ratio, watercress ranked highest on the nutrient scale. This versatile leafy green is loaded with phytonutrients, cancer fighting antioxidants, and essential vitamins. In fact, one serving of this peppery flavored veggie contains as much vitamin C as an orange, more calcium than a glass of milk, and tons of fiber. Also, it contains high levels of magnesium, lutein, phosphorous, potassium, iron, beta-carotene, and vitamins A, B1, B6, K and E.

iStock_000054910914_Large2. Chinese Cabbage: This cruciferous vegetable contains natural chemical compounds that may help prevent cancer. It’s also extremely high in vitamin C, a great source of fiber; and rich in vitamin K, which is linked to slowing bone loss and promoting faster bone healing. Cabbage is also low in calories, sodium and cholesterol and fat free!

3. Chard: Chard is a relative of the beet family that includes Swiss chard, leaf beet, spinach beet, silver beet, seakale beet, and white beet. Chard contains large, tender, and mild tasting leaves. Swiss chard produces beautifully colorful stems, ranging from green to orange, pink, red and yellow. Also fat- cholesterol-free, this veggie is best known for being a great source of magnesium and vitamins A, C and K.

red swiss chard 4. Beet Greens: Beet greens are the leaves of the very nutritious beet plant. While beets themselves are loaded with nutrients, it may be surprising that beet greens have even higher levels of essential nutrients including, vitamins A and C, potassium, and magnesium. These dark greens, which can be eaten raw or cooked, are also chock-full of calcium, iron, and copper!

 5. Spinach: Like watercress, this well-known super food is available year-round and its mild flavor and texture make it a versatile recipe ingredient. Spinach is also rich in magnesium, folate and iron, nutrients that are necessary for energy and healthy red blood cell production. And, like our other leafy green it’s high in vitamins A, C, and K.

Start your year on the right track by planning well-rounded meals for you and your family. Keep in mind, no single fruit or veggie can give you all of your necessary nutrients, so incorporate a large variety throughout the day, and you’ll be well on your way to creating that healthier new you this new year.

 

A “Green” Bloody Mary and Smoked Salmon Wraps: A Healthy Twist on Two New Year’s Day Brunch Classics

It’s hard to believe another year has passed. But what better way to ring in 2015, than hosting a New Year’s brunch? To support and encourage your guests who’ve resolved to eat healthier in the New Year, here are some healthier twists to everyone’s classic brunch menu.

First, toast the New Year with this Spicy BLT “Green” Bloody Mary recipe courtesy of Heather Cristo. We suggest replacing the parsley with watercress to increase the nutritional value and to add a peppery flavor profile. Next, pair your “Green Mary” with this Smoked Salmon Mousse Wrap, which is lower in fat than most traditional brunch foods.

Spicy BLT Green Bloody Mary

Spicy-Green-BLT-Bloody-Marys
Photo courtesy of Heather Cristo

Ingredients (serves 4)

4 cups of tomatillos

2 tablespoons of parsley (or Live Gourmet® Living Upland Cress or Grower Pete’s Certified Organic Watercress)

2 teaspoons of red wine vinegar

½ cup of English Cucumber cut into chunks

Juice of 2 limes

2 teaspoons Worcestershire Sauce

1 jalapeno cut into quarters

2 teaspoons of horseradish

8 ounces of vodka (or amount upon preference)

Ice

A pinch of Kosher Salt (or more upon preference)

 

Garnishes

4 romaine lettuce leaf hearts (or 4 leaves Living Butter Lettuce from Live Gourmet® or Grower Pete’s Organic)

4 strips of bacon cooked crispy

Cherry tomatoes

Lemon Wedges

Directions

Combine the tomatillos, parsley (or watercress), vinegar, cucumber chunks, lime juice, Worcestershire Sauce, and the jalapeno in a blender, and blend until juice like. Once the mixture is blended well, stir in the horseradish and vodka, and then season with salt. Next, pour into four, tall glasses filled with ice and garnish with preferred lettuce leaves, bacon, tomatoes and lemon wedges.

 

Smoked Salmon Mousse in Lettuce Cups

 Butter Lettuce Recipe

Ingredients

8 oz. cream cheese, softened

6 oz. sour cream

4 ounces smoked salmon (1 store bought package)

Juice of 2 lemons

1 teaspoon of Horseradish (optional)

Several sprigs of fresh dill, or dry dill

Salt and pepper, to taste

Leaves of 1 head of Live Gourmet® Living Butter Lettuce or Grower Pete’s Organic Living Butter Lettuce

Drained capers, amount upon preference

Directions

Mix the cream cheese, sour cream, salmon, lemon juice, horseradish, dill and salt and pepper in a food processor until smooth. Next spoon the mousse into lettuce leaf cups. Sprinkle with Capers and dill sprigs. And as a bonus this spread will save and is also a delicious spread on crackers or bagels.

 

Spice Up Your Holiday with this Festive Watercress Casserole

The cool weather and holiday spirit calls for warm comfort foods, which is why we are providing you with this toasty watercress casserole. This festive dish is the perfect addition to any holiday meal. It’s even rich and decadent enough to present to your guests for Christmas dinner. We recommend pairing it with mashed potatoes, salad, and roasted chicken, turkey or even prime rib for the ideal holiday meal. We want to wish you the happiest of holidays and hope you and your family thoroughly enjoys this merry recipe.

 casserole plated

Watercress Casserole Ingredients:

 

1.5 pounds (24 oz. or 6 bags) of Grower Pete’s Organic Living Watercress or Live Gourmet® Living Upland Cress ‘

1.5 pounds (24 oz.) of defrosted frozen spinach leaves

1 large, chopped yellow onion (4 cups)

4 large garlic cloves

5 tablespoons of butter

¼ cup of flour

1 cup of heavy cream

2 cups of milk

1/8 teaspoon of grated nutmeg

1 cup of freshly grated Parmesan cheese

½ cup of grated Gruyere cheese

1 tablespoon of kosher salt

1 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper

 

Directions:

 

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a Pyrex baking pan with 1 tablespoon of butter. Next, melt the remaining butter in a large skillet over medium heat, then add in chopped onions and sauté until softened. Add in garlic cloves and cook for 2 more minutes. Add in the flour and nutmeg and stir for an additional 2 minutes. mixing bowl

Next, fold in heavy cream and milk and cook until the mixture until thickened. Then aduncookedd in ½ cup of Parmesan and mix together. Pour entire mixture into the greased baking pan.

Next remove watercress (or Upland Cress) roots, rinse and pat dry. Strain the defrosted spinach removing as much water as possible. Then, add the greens, salt, and pepper into the baking dish and mix together with the onion mixture. Sprinkle the remaining Parmesan and the Gruyere on top and bake for 20 minutes, or until the casserole is bubbling. Serve this rich comfort food hot, along side of your favorite holiday dishes to complete the meal!

 

Cashew Chicken Butter Lettuce Wraps

Time to get a little nutty. In honor of National Nut Day, here’s a new wholesome and scrumptious gluten-free, Cashew Chicken Butter Lettuce Wrap recipe from shescookin.com. This quick and warm meal is perfect for the autumn weather, and the best part about it is, it’s also ideal for leftovers.

Photo by Priscilla Willis from shescookin.com
Photo by Priscilla Willis from shescookin.com

Ingredients

(Servings: 3)

2 Large chicken breasts

2 green onions

4 beet greens or  Swiss chard leaves and stems

½ cup of low-sodium chicken broth

½ cup of peanut butter

1 teaspoon of sesame oil

2 tablespoons of sunflower oil or peanut oil

¼ cup of cashews

2 tablespoons of coconut aminos

1 tablespoon of sesame seeds

10 Live Gourmet or Grower Pete’s Organic Living Butter Lettuce leaves

Directions

  1. Chop vegetables and chicken breasts into half inch pieces.
  2. Heat sesame and sunflower oils over medium heat. Add chopped veggies and cook for 2 -3 minutes, until wilted. Remove greens from the skillet and set aside.
  3. Stir fry chicken pieces in hot oils for about 8 minutes or until they’re no longer pink. Remove and add the chicken pieces to the cooked greens.
  4. Add peanut butter and coconut aminos to the hot oils and stir together until thickened. Next, add in chicken broth and continue stirring until well mixed. Fold in the cashews, sesame seeds, and chicken and greens mixture. Transfer to a serving bowl.
  5. Remove the butter lettuce leaves from the head. Rinse and pat dry.
  6. Go “nutty’ and create your own wrap!

 

Dos and Don’ts for Extending Leafy Greens

best-practices-for-produce

How frustrating is it when you have to discard unused leafy greens, because they wilted before you had the opportunity to eat them? This is bound to happen with fresh produce. Fortunately, you can extend the shelf life of your leafy greens and to help you, we’ve compiled this list of dos and don’ts.

Dos:

  1. Do choose living leafy greens with their roots still attached such as our Live Gourmet® or our certified organic Grower Pete’s brands; they preserve freshness longer (usually 5-7 days) than conventionally grown greens.
  2. Do store living lettuce products in their plastic clamshell containers and keep their roots attached. live-gourmet-living-butter-lettuceThese clamshells function as mini-greenhouses or micro-climates, and provide a protective barrier that helps maintain and extend the product’s natural freshness, color, and flavor.
  3. Do store our cress products in an air tight container (such as a Ziploc® or Tupperware®) with their roots still attached.
  4. Do refrigerate your leafy greens as soon as possible. Produce needs to be stored below 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Our lettuce can be stored anywhere in the fridge as long as it’s in its clamshell. Cress products should be stored in the crisper section.
  5. Do store leafy greens away from other fruits and vegetables, because the hormone that plants produce, called ethylene, can hasten ripening.
  6. Do pre-clean surfaces being used to prepare leafy greens, then wash and pat dry your leafy greens before using or storing. This is best practice for all produce.
  7. Do check your leafy greens often and remove wilted or damaged leaves and throw-out the product if the whole plant looks wilted or old.
  8. Do adhere to your product’s Use By date and discard unused product that exceeds it.

Don’ts:

  1. Don’t store your leafy greens anywhere other than your fridge or leave them outside of it for too long.
  2. Don’t store the root ball or plant in water. Our products have absorbed all of their necessary waterlive-gourmet-living-butter-lettuce before they reach you.
  3. Don’t refrigerate leafy greens while still wet, or even damp. Dry them well after rinsing and return them to their recommended containers.
  4. Don’t store leafy greens and other produce near any potential contaminants, such as raw meat
  5. Don’t feel obligated to eat the whole plant in one meal. Our leafy greens are harvested at your will. You remove as many leaves as needed and return the remaining product to the fridge for future use.
  6. Don’t eat your leafy greens past the expired Use By date; discard them immediately. It’s better to be safe than sorry!
  7. Don’t waste your leafy greens or other produce. Stock up on their nutritional value and eat 7-9 servings per day!

fruits-and-veggies-more-matters

Back to School Healthy Lunchbox Ideas

 

The summer has come to an end, and that means the kids are heading back to school! We know it’s difficult to provide your children with healthy meals all of the time, especially during the busy work week. That’s why we’ve put together these fresh ideas for nutrient-rich lunches that are quick and easy to prepare and tasty for your kids!                                                                                                                                          healthy- lunchbox

Sandwich Spruce-up:  The USDA recommends that we fill half of our plates with fruits and vegetables at every meal. Here’s a simple way to accomplish this at lunch. Buy a lunchbox with separate compartments and fill with your child’s favorite fruits and veggies. We recommend cutting them in fun shapes and sizes. If raw veggies aren’t appealing, try steaming them the night before. Fill the other compartment with a fun shaped sandwich, using a cookie cutter, that’s filled with lean cold cuts, freshly sliced tomato, a slice of cheese, a large leaf of Grower Pete’s Organic Living Butter Lettuce, and a bit of mayo and mustard served on whole wheat bread.
thermos- lunch

Warm- up with Watercress: Prepare for the cooler autumn weather by purchasing your child a good thermos to take to school. During a cold week make a nutritious soup like this Garden Cress Soup for dinner from recipetips.com. You can even substitute the garden cress with Grower Pete’s Organic Living Watercress to increase nutrition, since watercress is the most nutrient dense vegetable available. The soup will be great for leftovers, which you can put in a thermos for your child’s lunch the next day. Your child will be so happy to have something warm they won’t event notice they’re eating vegetables! Compliment this meal with a little lettuce or fruit salad and a slice of cookie cutter, fun-shaped bread to dip in the soup.

Live Gourmet Butter LettuceCheer up chicken: Send your child with a “make your own lunch.” Make this quick and tasty chicken salad recipe the night before. When you wake up put the chicken salad in one compartment of the lunchbox. Then tear off and rinse a few leaves from a head of Grower Pete’s Organic Living Butter Lettuce and add those into another compartment. Put in a spoon, and tell your child to scoop the chicken salad into the lettuce cups so they can make their own little lettuce wraps at lunch!  Add some sliced fruit to another compartment and there you have it a fun, well-rounded lunchbox meal, which makes a delicious to-go lunch for you too!

How to Make Chicken Salad Butter Lettuce Wraps for the 4th of July

 

As we all know Friday is America’s Independence Day! Why not bring a nice picnic dinner to enjoy during the fireworks show?  For a healthy, delicious meal that puts a more contemporary feel on a classic summer favorite, follow this quick and easy recipe, to mouthwatering Lemon, Tarragon Chicken Salad Wraps, that will feed a family of four.

 Live Gourmet Butter Lettuce

 What you will need:

3 chicken breasts

1 head of Live Gourmet Living Butter Lettuce, or Grower Pete’s Organic Living Butter Lettuce

1 bay leaf

1 cup of diced celery

½ cup of diced green onions

1 and ½ to 2 teaspoons of fresh tarragon (upon preference)

Kosher salt and fresh Pepper

For the Dressing:

¾ to 1 cup of mayonnaise (upon preference)

2 teaspoons of fresh lemon juice

1 minced, small garlic clove

Kosher salt and fresh pepper

Directions:

  1. Place the chicken breasts in a large pot
  2. Cover the chicken with water
  3. Add in one bay leaf
  4. Grind in salt and pepper
  5. Boil mixture for 30-45 minutes, until chicken is tender enough to shred with a fork

After chicken is done cooking:

  1. Place the cooked chicken breasts into a large bowl and shred the chicken well with a fork.
  2. Add in diced celery, diced green onions and fresh tarragon, and stir together with chicken.

Dressing:

  1. In a separate bowl mix together the dressing ingredients
  2. Pour dressing over chicken and vegetable mixture
  3. Stir everything together well

To Serve:

Place a couple of tablespoons of the chicken salad into single butter lettuce leaves, and enjoy!

 

Happy 4th of July from Hollandia Produce, L.P.!