Let’s Talk About Mangoes

Perhaps one of the things I miss most about living in the City is the always-smiling ladies who sold fresh, ripe mangoes on the corner of the street near my apartment. I passed daily on my way to school and stopped quite a few times for breakfast. They were already sliced perfectly (a treat in itself, as mangoes aren’t the easiest fruit to dice up) and in little plastic containers, and were so ripe every single time. To this day I haven’t had a better mango.

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Exactly.

Anyway.. the reason I’m talking about mangoes today instead of sharing an avocado recipe is because I am patiently waiting for my avocados to ripen enough to use them (the only downfall of the avocado: the window of perfection is so small).

So instead, we’ll talk about mangoes, and my next post will feature a recipe with both avocado and mango, in perfect harmony. As long as my mangoes are ripe, too (fingers crossed).

About the mango

Mangoes are a type of stone fruit, which means they have a pit (a “stone”) on the inside, surrounded by the flesh (the good part), which is protected by the outer skin. Other examples of stone fruits include nectarines, plums, cherries, and peaches. Mangoes obviously come from a mango tree, and they are native to Southern Asia, particularly, Burma and eastern India.

Mango-Yogurt-Parfait-2Today they’re one of the most well-known tropical fruits and they make for a nice salsa ingredient, yogurt topping, or margarita flavor.

Benefits of mango

Personally, I like mangoes because they make me feel healthy, and they make me feel like I’m on a tropical vacation (as do pineapples and coconuts). But of course, there are numerous actual benefits to eating mangoes.

  • Vitamin C: Mango is a great source of Vitamin C,  with 76% of your recommended daily dose in just one cup. As I’ve mentioned earlier, Vitamin C has special immunity properties that keep you from getting sick, or help you heal faster when you are sick. It also helps form proteins that are vital to creating ligaments, skin, tendons, and blood vessels. So it’s not only beneficial, but pretty necessary if you ask me. It helps heal wounds by forming scar tissue and helps maintain cartilage, teeth, and bones. So if you’re sick of drinking orange juice every day for your Vitamin C dosage, consider switching to mango juice.mango_16x9
  • Antioxidants. In addition to containing Vitamin C, which acts as an antioxidant in itself, mango also contains numerous disease-fighting antioxidants that can help protect your body.
  • Full of fiber. As I’ve discussed in the past, fiber is an important part of one’s diet as it keeps the digestive system healthy and makes you feel full. For those who are trying to lose or manage their weight, fiber is key. Mango is a good source of fiber.

Now there are more health benefits that adding mango to your diet will result in, but I think it’s time we go in a different direction. After all, our next recipe will have avocado and mango, so I’ve already talked about quite a few benefits that this recipe will consist of.

If you don’t want to eat it..

Mango actually offers some other great benefits that result not from eating it, but applying it to your skin. The same vitamins and minerals that do your body good on the inside will do your body good on the outside. This is due to to nutrients such as Vitamin A, Potassium, B-Vitamins, and Vitamin C. These nutrients work together to fight off dead skin and it healthy and fresh. It’s no coconut oil, but it’s worth the try to see how your skin feels afterwards.

Mango face masks
Face mask or baby food?
Face mask or baby food?

Mashed mango combined with honey and yogurt creates a moisturizing face mask that will leave your skin looking and feeling hydrated. Combine 1 tbsp of mango pulp with 1 tsp of honey and 1 tsp of yogurt and apply to your face, letting it sit for 10-15 minutes. Then let me know how it is, as admittedly I haven’t tried it (though I am intrigued).

If you’re not so sure about diving into this whole mango-on-your-face thing and want to ease into the process (or if you just don’t feel like mixing it), you can simply cut up the mango into thin slices and place them on your face. Let sit for a few minutes and then wash your face off. Supposedly, this alone should help unclog pores and reduce acne or dry skin. I am equally as intrigued about this… but I will save my mangoes for my recipe this weekend.

All in all..

Mango is one of those foods you just can’t feel guilty about eating, no matter how many you might eat in one sitting (which probably isn’t much, considering the fiber content). It can give that tropical feel to any meal, and will sweeten up the most boring of meals. And if you’re not the biggest fan of this slimy but sweet fruit, you can just put it on your face.

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The “Supergrain of the Future”: All About Quinoa

Here is one of my favorite reactions to telling someone I am starting a healthy food blog:

So, are you just, like, going to post about quinoa every day?

Not quite, but I get what my coworker was saying.

Indian-start-up-targets-global-snacks-with-high-protein-price-stable-quinoaQuinoa is worthy of being the food of the week, at the very least. It’s deemed the “Supergrain of the Future” by Forbes, after all. I am sure that most of you have heard that quinoa is good for you, but if you aren’t sure exactly why, then read on. You’ll be surprised just how good this tiny grain is for your body.

What is quinoa?

Quinoa, (pronounced KEEN-wah) is technically not a grain, it’s a seed. It’s a species of the goosefoot genus, surprisingly closely related to spinach and tumbleweeds. Weird, but delicious. It’s known as a pseudocereal, as opposed to a true cereal, because it is a non-grass. A similar pseudocereal is a buckwheat.

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A quinoa plant

Though you may have heard of quinoa only somewhat recently(in the past few years or so), it has actually been consumed for thousands of years. It was first discovered in the Andean region of South America; more specifically Peru, Bolivia, and Colombia. It’s said that it was deemed the “mother grain” by the Incas, due to the nutrition and power it gave their warriors. Sounds pretty impressive to me.

Today, we find it as a popular grain served on the side or mixed into some of our favorite healthy dishes.

So, why is it good for me?

There are so many reasons why quinoa is good for you. I could list them all and elaborate using difficult-to-pronounce words for certain amino acids, phytonutrients, etc. (and make this post much longer than it needs to be), but I am going to keep it simple. For specifics, this is a great resource.

  • Protein. One of the most widely-known benefits of quinoa is that it’s very rich in protein. Because of this, it’s a staple in most vegetarian diets. It contains all nine essential amino acids, while other grains may fall short of this benefit.
  • Phytonutrients. These contain antioxidant properties that help your body fight disease and keep everything working as it should. Quinoa contains phytonutrients with both antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Nutrients and Minerals. Because quinoa is so easy to digest, the many nutrients it contains are perfectly absorbed into your body. High levels of magnesium can be found in quinoa, in addition to the recommended daily amounts of folate and phosphorus. In addition, it contains high levels of manganese and copper, which also help fight off cancers and other diseases. Large quantities of potassium, zinc and magnesium are found in quinoa as well, which help with your heart and nerve function, in addition to keeping your muscles healthy. It can also be considered a probiotic; which means it feeds your intestines with good bacteria.51bc6d4bdbd0cb1e7f000d1a._w.540_s.fit_
  • Calcium. Quinoa is a plant-derived source of calcium, which also helps regulate heart, nerve and muscle function, and of course build strong bones.
  • Complex Carbohydrate. As a complex carbohydrate, quinoa provides the body with many additional benefits. It helps digestion by easing the process of “moving things along.” Therefore, it reduces bloating and constipation, which can become a real problem if not treated. Quinoa is rich in fiber, and has a low glycemic index as well, which helps to lower cholesterol. It will help you feel full longer, and give you the energy you need to get through the day.
How to make quinoa

Quinoa is very easy to prepare. Here’s how I do it:

  1. Measure out the amount you want. (1 cup dry quinoa = 2-3 cups cooked)
  2. Rinse the quinoa off in the sink – there is a small coating on quinoa, which if not rinsed, will make it taste bitter.
  3. Dry it off as best you can, in the meantime heat about a tablespoon of olive oil in a saucepan.
  4. However much dry quinoa you are using, double the amount of water (or broth) to combine with it. (1 cup quinoa = 2 cups water)
  5. Put the quinoa in the saucepan with the olive oil, and mix it around for about a minute. Add the water, or broth (I recommend broth).
  6. Bring to a boil, then cover.
  7. Keep the quinoa cooking, covered, until the water is absorbed (usually about 10-15 minutes, give or take).
  8. Remove from heat and fluff with a fork before serving.
How should I use it?

Quinoa makes for a tasty and healthy addition to any meal. In many dishes, it replaces rice, as the tastes are somewhat similar but quinoa has so many more benefits.

I like to add spices to my quinoa when it’s cooking, such as turmeric, or FlavorGod spicy everything seasoning. Quinoa is very versatile and can be customized however you might like it. That’s another great thing about it.

l352776056Use quinoa in stir fry dishes, cold salad dishes, healthy chili, or simply on the side of your favorite meat with vegetables. You’ll have a healthy, balanced meal that will leave you feeling satisfied.

The Golden Spice: Turmeric

product_turmericWhat if I told you that adding a pinch of a certain spice into your dishes could help treat or prevent debilitating diseases like arthritis or Alzheimers, or even life-threatening cancers? Turmeric, a chalky, mustard-yellow spice common in traditional Indian dishes, has the potential to fight against bacteria, inflammatory disease, diabetes, arthritis, cancer, and other malignant diseases.

A Super-Spice

For many years, turmeric has been used in Indian culture to treat aches and other ailments, particularly arthritis. Perhaps most impressive is its anti-inflammatory property, which helps joint aches and pains associated with arthritis. Additionally, this anti-inflammatory property promotes a healthy gut, which regulates your body’s digestive system and keeps bad bacteria out.

Turmeric owes its magical properties to curcumin, a major component of the spice. Studies have suggested throughout the years that curcumin regulates inflammation that “plays a major role in most chronic illnesses, including neurodegenerative, cardiovascular, pulmonary, metabolic, autoimmune and neoplastic diseases.” Lab tests have also suggested that curcumin slows the growth of tumors. There is still a decent amount of research to be made, but the results so far on studies of turmeric are promising, to say the least. Some of the lowest rates of prostate, lung, and colorectal cancers are in India, and researchers are linking these lower rates to the fact that turmeric is a staple of their daily diet.

Cooking with Turmeric

Don’t be intiturmeric1midated by turmeric’s less-than-appetizing appearance (after all, it is the stuff that makes mustard yellow). It may look chalky and even bland, but turmeric packs a punch. It has a spicy, gingery flavor, which complements many foods. If you’ve ever had Indian food, particularly curry, you’ve almost definitely had turmeric before. It’s that aromatic spice in the background which doesn’t set your mouth on fire, but it’s enough spice to know it’s there.

Turmeric can be a big part of a healthy diet. It’s most recognized in rice dishes, and can be easily mocked in your own kitchen by adding a spoonful while you are cooking rice (side note: turmeric is most effective in combination with black pepper, so try to use the both of them together). For more healthy benefits, swap the rice for quinoa, an especially healthy grain, deemed a superfood as well. Turmeric also works well in eggs, particularly frittatas, and make a healthy start to your day. You can add some spice to a stir fry with turmeric, or add it into a chicken soup. There are many possibilities with this distinct yet versatile spice, and the more you can incorporate it into your diet, the better.

Check back later this week for a post on a recipe I made with turmeric. Looking forward to sharing it with you all!