Rocky Gorge WellNews Early Spring 2023
Spring Tidings (It’s Easy Eating Green)
March is National Nutrition Month! With the green promise of Spring, we look forward to fresh green foods.
In this edition, let’s look at green pulses (the edible seeds of legumes) that supply the highest protein content of all plant-based foods. They rank high in dietary fiber, which supports gut health and reduces inflammatory risks for conditions such as heart, bowel, and joint ailments. Pulses also supply vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, carotenoids, not to mention flavor. They are all sodium- and cholesterol-free.
Pulses contribute prebiotic compounds that nourish our gut bacteria, which in turn play a role in supporting the immune system, blood sugar levels, and as recent research suggests, emotional wellbeing. These pulses are good sources of folates, vital to red blood cell formation and cell growth, especially important for expectant mothers.
We appreciate the nutritional value of the fresh and frozen forms (virtually as nutritious as the raw) of these vegetables and don’t recommend the canned varieties. Optimally, all vegetables are cleaner and greener when they’re organic and non-GMO.
Sweet Peas or Garden Shelling Peas
Peas thrive in cooler weather, so they’re among the earliest Spring crops that find their way to our tables. Fresh out of the pod, peas possess incomparable sweetness and crunch. The same goes for snow peas and sugar snaps, harvested before the peas mature in the pods.
All three versions can be eaten raw (the sugar snap and snow peas, pods and all). Cook lightly to retain flavor, vitamins, color, enzymes, and crispness. They add brightness and crunch to pasta and rice dishes, such as linguine primavera and risotto, as well as stir-fries and salads. Spread springy pea shoots on sandwiches and salads or as a garnish.
Garden Pea Nutrition Facts
One cup includes:
117 calories; 8 grams protein
21 grams carbohydrates (8 g dietary fiber, 8 g sugar)
64% daily value of Vitamin C
Iron and potassium; the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin, which protect eye health.
Omega 3 and -6 fatty acids, which support heart health.
Sugar Snap and Snow Pea Nutrition Facts
One half cup includes:
13 calories; zero fat; 1 gram of protein; less than 3 grams of carbs
The vitamins A, C, B, K, and folates.
Dried split peas are a pantry staple that contribute robust, satisfying flavor to soothing soups, stews, curries, and even hummus dips.
Split Peas Nutrition Facts
One cup includes:
231 calories; 16 grams protein; 16 grams dietary fiber
Less than 1 gram fat
Split peas are a good source of vitamins (B vitamins and folates) and minerals (iron, potassium, phosphorous, magnesium, manganese, and selenium).
Edamame is fresh, unprocessed soybean. Soybeans are valued for their high protein and versatility in fermented products (tofu, miso, soy sauce or tamari). It’s a popular ingredient in East-Asian cuisines, usually served steamed in their pods and lightly salted. Of all plant-based foods, edamame ranks highest in complete protein, containing all of the essential amino acids. Keep frozen shelled edamame on hand to add protein and fiber to stir-fries, soups, stews, casseroles, and other dishes.
Edamame Nutrition Facts
One half cup includes:
94 calories; 9 grams of protein; 4 grams of fat
7 grams of carbohydrates, including 4 grams of dietary fiber
A good source of vitamins (A, C, B, K, and especially folates) and minerals (calcium, iron, potassium, magnesium, copper, manganese)
Lima beans: you either love them or you don’t. Most lima beans are purchased frozen, but if you see fresh ones in the pods at a farmers market, go for it! A simple, delicious side dish can be made by simmering a cup of frozen lima beans in just enough water to cover for 6-8 minutes. Add a tablespoon of butter or nondairy shortening and a touch of sea salt (optional: a dash of garlic and/or onion powder) and braise for another 5 minutes until tender.
Lima Bean Nutrition Facts
One cup includes:
216 calories; 15 grams of protein; less than 1 gram of fat
40 grams of carbohydrates (they are a starchier bean), with 13 grams of dietary fiber
A good source of vitamins (B and folate)
Sufferin’ Spring Succotash!
This satisfying side dish brings together the vitamins, protein, and fiber of pulses. In the summer, use fresh-cut corn kernels. The corn protein complements the bean protein.
- One half cup each of thawed frozen lima beans and edamame
- One half cup corn kernels, fresh or frozen (thawed)
- One small, chopped onion
- One large, chopped carrot
- One or two cloves of sliced garlic
- One half cup of chicken or vegetable broth, or water
- Two tablespoons unsalted butter or vegetable oil (or a combination)
- One teaspoon of dried thyme (optional)
- Salt and pepper to taste
Sauté the onions and garlic in the fat until translucent, about 3-4 minutes. Add the carrots and cook about 4 minutes, stirring occasionally until they are almost soft. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Stir in the beans and blend until they are coated with oil. Add the broth or water and braise until tender, about 5-7 minutes. Stir in the corn. Add more liquid if needed. Continue braising until most of the liquid has cooked down, about 5 minutes. Adjust seasonings to taste.
Sweet Pea Risotto (“Risi e bisi”)
Prepare arborio rice or risotto mix according to package instructions. Three minutes before the rice is done, top the rice with a handful of fresh or frozen sweet peas and cover for the remaining cooking time. Let the pot sit for five minutes, then blend the peas into the rice before serving. The peas will be steamed and plump, adding vivid flavor to the rice.
Optional: Top with shaved Parmesan or Romano cheese and fresh parsley (or pea shoots!).
Note: This method works well with other types of rice.
Squat 101: Squat Basics
Gardening? Golfing? Grandparenting? Not on your list? How about walking, biking, climbing stairs, rising from a seat, picking up low items, cleaning, petting your dog, dancing to your favorite playlist? These activities of daily living (ADLs) require bending and lifting. You get it. You do know squat!
Performing squats lowers the risk of injury, no matter what you’re doing. Squats are considered one of the best daily exercises to strengthen multiple areas of the lower body. They can be done in a very short time and they’re easy! What better way to welcome Spring than to spring into action with squats?
The Benefits of Squats
The benefits apply to ALL age groups:
- Strengthens the core: Improves posture and spinal integrity.
- Strengthens lower body muscles, include the glutes, quads, hamstrings, and calves.
- Burns fat calories through movement, and builds muscle mass, which in turn increases fat-burning basal metabolic rate (BMR).
- Improves range of motion (ROM), agility, balance, ankle stability, and jumping ability.
- Supports joint flexibility: hips, knees, and ankles.
How to Safely Perform Progressive Squats:
- To begin, stand erect, with your back in a neutral position. Don’t arch your back or flatten the curve of your lower back.
- Your knees are centered over your feet, with feet shoulder-width apart.
- Slowly lower your body, making sure your weight is in the heels with the hips pressing backwards as though you’re going to sit on a stool. Can you see the tops of your shoes? If not, correct your position to avoid hurting your knees.
- Extend your arms forward to shoulder-level as you squat, as though you’re grasping ski poles.
- Progress slowly and cautiously by just going a couple of inches, then return to the starting position.
- Repeat, each time squatting down a little further. Complete two sets of five repetitions.
- Do not bend your hips below a 45-degree angle.
As your balance and strength increase, your hips, thighs, and quads can handle a full squat. Increase full squat repetitions to fifteen per set. When you’re ready for more advanced squats, you can hold light free weights as a level of resistance to increase bone density.
After performing squats, gently stretch the quads and hamstrings. Then you can conquer your garden chores!