After a wonderful long walk along the river enjoying the fall foliage, I decided to make sweet potatoes for dinner, along with raw almonds, lightly steamed kale, and a glass of homemade vegan blueberry kefir.
Sweet potatoes are packed with beta-carotene, which gives them their bright orange color. They are also a good source of various vitamins, and minerals, as well as fiber and starch. They contain only a little protein, and almost no fat. Almonds, on the other hand, contain a significant amount of protein, along with a lot of fat(mostly the healthy kind) as well as fiber.
Kale is a type of cabbage, and is loaded with powerful carotenoids like lutein and zeaxanthin, which are said to be good for the eyes. Kale is also a good source of fiber.
The vegan blueberry kefir has a lot of anthocyanins, which may be helpful for exercise recovery and may help prevent some diseases, and since it was fermented also has probiotic benefits. It was wonderfully effervescent, and a bit sour, a nice compliment to the sweet potatoes and almonds. It has a tincture of alcohol in it, making it sort of like the “red wine” of the meal.
It took about 45 minutes in the oven to bake the sweet potatoes. I added a dash of cinnamon to spice things up. They were very delicious, and all in all, a terrific vegan autumn meal. And very colorful too!
Pendant that I am, it must be noted that sweet potatoes are not related to potatoes. They are in completely different plant families. Sweet potatoes are related to morning glories, and potatoes are in the nightshade family, which means they are closely related to nightshades like tomatoes, eggplant, bell peppers and tobacco, yes, tobacco!
Besides this, sweet potatoes are often called yams, though they are not related to true yams. While they are both tubers, real yams are much bigger and starchier, and only taste a little like sweet potatoes. True yams only grow in the tropics or sub-tropics, and are originally from Africa. They tend to be sold in Caribbean or African markets.
For more information: Sweet Potato and Yam Differences
Other terrific vegan meal ideas:
Posted in running, vegan
Tagged African cuisine, African tubers, almonds, almonds benefits, beta-carotene, blueberries, blueberry kefir, cabbage, carotenoids, healthy meal ideas, lutein, sweet potatoes, sweet potatoes are not potatoes, sweet potatoes are not yams, sweet potatoes with cinnamon, tobacco is a nightshade, tobacco is related to potatoes, tobacco is related to tomatoes, vegan kefir, vegan runners, yams and sweet potatoes, zeaxanthin
One of the best ways to incorporate more vegetables into your diet is to go wild. Wild vegetables are not only free but are as nutritious if not more nutritious than store bought vegetables. Foraging for food also makes hiking a lot more fun.
The wild vegetable pictured above is called Garlic Mustard(Alliaria petiolata), since it is a type of mustard with a garlicy kind of taste to it. Since it is a member of the totally awesome brassicaceae family(sometimes called the “cruciferous”, “mustard”, or “cabbage” family), it is closely related to kale, cabbage, and broccoli and likely has similar health benefits. Like other members of the cruciferous vegetable group, its small flowers are in the shape of a cross, which is why they are called cruciferous. Cruciferous vegetables are well-known for their naturally occurring anti-cancer chemicals. It’s like getting free cabbage!
The leaves of Garlic Mustard, also known as Jack-by-the-hedge, are triangular to heart-shaped and 10cm to 15 cm long. The entire plant generally grows to 30cm to 100 cm. It grows in moist soil in woodlands, on the edges of woodlands, in fields, and especially in or near floodplains. It often grows near skunk cabbage and jewelweed, though usually on slightly higher ground. Garlic Mustard is common throughout eastern North America. Since it is an invasive species from Eurasia, you can harvest it without guilt.
Like its cousins broccoli and kale, it is loaded with health-promoting phyto-chemicals and minerals. If you want to harvest some, make sure you do it in an area far away from busy highways and also make sure there were never any toxic waste dumps nearby.
I grabbed about half a bag’s worth of the mustard from the woods near me, brought it home and washed a small portion of it thoroughly in the sink. I boiled it very briefly and mixed it with marinara sauce. It sure does shrink from cooking! It was so delicious with the spaghetti and soy protein(TVP). It really adds a lot of taste and nutrition. You can also use it as a salad green. I highly recommend it!
Posted in health, New York, nutrition, trails/outdoors, vegan
Tagged broccoli, cabbage, cooking wild vegetables, cruciferous, cruciferous vegetables, cruciferous vegetables and cancer, edible wild plants, foraging, foraging for food, foraging in New York, garlic mustard, green leafy vegetables, healthiest vegetables, invasive species, Jack-by-the-hedge, phytochemicals cabbage family, vegetables in the forest, vegetables that prevent cancer, wild broccoli, wild cabbage, wild foods, wild greens, wild mustard, wild vegetables
How air pollution affects exercise performance doesn’t get as much attention as it deserves. It is a rather complex subject, although it seems rather intuitive that the more polluted the air, the worse it is for exercise. Although air pollution is everywhere, it is far worse in urban centers, with most of it coming from vehicle exhaust.
On this issue, it appears that science agrees with our intuition. According to this study – Subclinical Effects of Aerobic Training in Urban Environment, which compared people trying to improve their aerobic fitness in urban and rural settings, both groups became equally fit, though reaction times were better in rural settings and the urban exercisers had significantly higher levels of inflammation markers(exercise even in a non-polluted area can cause inflammation, it’s just worse in polluted areas).
I don’t believe the lesson to be learned from this is to not exercise if you live in a polluted area, unless you have respiratory disease, but rather to be more cautious or try to seek out an area with cleaner air to exercise if possible.
Also, I think it could be possible to prevent the inflammation caused by pollution by eating better. Some foods have a pro-inflammatory effect, like food with a high saturated fat content, as well as fried, roasted and overly processed foods. On the other hand, many fresh fruits and vegetables either have a neutral effect on inflammation or can help prevent it from getting out of control. Curcumin, a natural compound which is found in turmeric(an important ingredient in curry), has potent anti-inflammatory effects. Ginger, a close cousin of turmeric has similar benefits. Leafy greens may also help. Try to get all this from food, not supplements.
Besides this, if you are a runner living in an urban environment, try to stay far away from highways or areas with heavy traffic when running. In my personal experience, it seems that I’ve had to apply more effort when running in polluted areas than in non-polluted areas to achieve my usual pace. Also, the study I cited seems to suggest that air pollution would have more of an effect on jogglers than runners, since air pollution interferes with reaction rates/cognition during aerobic exercise. In my experience, I am more likely to drop the balls in polluted areas.
Do not let this discourage you from exercise, unless you have medical issues.
Posted in exercise, fitness, health, joggling, running
Tagged aerobic fitness, air pollution, cabbage, cities, curcumin, fitness science, fried food, fruit, ginger, green vegetables, Indian cuisine, inflammation, inflammatory markers, nutrition, pollution, processed food, reaction time, sport science, turmeric, urban, vegetables, vehicle exhaust