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Top 10 Creative And Healthy Ways Of Cooking Fruits And Vegetables

Top 10 Creative And Healthy Ways Of Cooking Fruits And Vegetables

When we’re trying to stick to a healthy diet, it can definitely get boring. Another spinach salad? More raw cucumber? But eating healthy doesn’t mean you always have to stick to the same old stuff.

With these 10 creative ways to cook fruits and vegetables, you can make simple, refreshing dishes that are full of nutrients and health benefits. They taste so good that you won’t realize just how healthy they are!

1. Microwave them.

When most people think of the microwave, they think of easy-cook TV dinners and sodium-packed canned soup. But did you know that you can make healthy dishes in the microwave, too? You can cook nearly any vegetable in the microwave, but one of the easiest dishes to make is fresh carrots. Microwaved carrots are effortless and provide carotenoids that may reduce the risk of cancer and vitamin A that keeps eyes sharp.

Carrots

    Sweet Carrots

    Required ingredients: baby carrots, water, brown sugar, butter, white wine vinegar, salt

    Simply add the carrots and about 2 tablespoons of water to a bowl, cover it, and microwave for about five minutes (or until the carrots reach your desired tenderness). Drain the water, stir in the rest of the ingredients, and serve.

    2. Bake them.

    Baking is a great alternative to deep fried foods, as you can achieve the same level of crisp, delicious crunchiness without the grease and saturated fat from the deep fryer. One of the best recipes for a baked vegetable is baked avocado fries. These delicious fries have a crunchy shell and a creamy middle. The avocado provides many health benefits including fiber, B vitamins, folate, and healthy, cholesterol-lowering monounsaturated fats.

    Avocado

      Crispy Baked Avocado Fries

      Required ingredients: avocados, flour, eggs, chili powder, salt and pepper, panko bread crumbs, lemon juice

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      Cut the avocados into slices of whatever size you prefer. Dredge them in a mixture of flour and spices, then in the eggs, and then in panko bread crumbs. Place them in a single layer on a baking sheet, and bake for about 20 minutes or until the fries are golden and crispy.

      3. Boil them.

      Boiling is a simple and healthy way of cooking fruits and vegetables, and it’s a great way to avoid adding fat or salt from oil and butter. It may sound boring, but you can make surprising dishes just with a little bit of boiling. This creative recipe Filipino twist on classic Japanese veggie sushi takes boiled rice and boiled vegetables and combines them into a healthy veggie sushi roll. The squash adds a fibrous dose of vitamin A and cancer-preventing carotenoids.

      Veggie

          Vegetable Sushi

          Required ingredients: rice, sugar, vinegar, squash, carrots, malunggay leaves, pechay Tagalog, salt and pepper

          This recipe calls for Filipino ingredients like malunggay leaves and pechay Tagalog, which can be substituted with bok choy or another nutritious leaf lettuce. Boil the rice, carrots, and squash separately. Cut the carrots into thin slices, and mash the squash with spices of your choice. Fill blanched bok choy leaves with the cooked rice, carrots, and squash, and roll into sushi-style hand rolls.

          4. Dehydrate them.

          Dehydration is another incredibly easy (and traditional) way to prepare fruits and vegetables. In addition to the nutrients from the all-natural fruits you choose, dehydrating requires no added sugars or preservatives. You get all of the health benefits of the fresh fruit but with a more concentrated flavor and longer shelf life.

          Fruit

            Homemade Dried Fruit

            Required ingredients: any fruit you like

            Wash and peel your selected fruit. For best results, choose a fruit that is just ripened and free from bruises or blemishes. Place the fruit on a baking sheet, leaving at least 1 inch of space between them. Let them dry in an oven heated to 170 degrees Fahrenheit, with the oven door ajar. Stir as needed, baking up to 8 hours until the fruit is lightly chewy.

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            5. Steam them in a slow cooker.

            Rice cookers aren’t just made for cooking rice! You can also steam vegetables in them easily; some rice cookers even come with a steaming basket and corresponding power setting. But why stop at plain steamed vegetables when you can make gourmet dishes like a frittata? This recipe provides healthy protein from the eggs and vitamins and minerals from the lightly sauteed vegetables.

            Veggie

                Rice Cooker Frittata with Summer Vegetables

                Required ingredients: garlic, bell peppers, potato, zucchini, olive oil, salt and pepper, eggs, cheese

                To prepare for steaming in the rice cooker, saute chopped vegetables with garlic and olive oil. Add the egg mixture and cheese to the rice cooker, and then stir in the lightly cooked vegetables. Set the rice cooker to the regular rice setting, and wait until the cooker indicates that it’s done. Enjoy!

                6. Slow-cook them.

                Slow-cooking is a great way to prepare almost any food, even fruit! It requires almost no preparation or attention, and you have total control over the ingredients and nutrition profile of your dishes. One surprising slow-cooker dish is apple sauce. In addition to the high fiber, apples are also particularly rich in quertecin, an antioxidant that research has shown to slow cell death. Homemade apple sauce is healthier than store-bought versions, too, since it’s free of preservatives and lower in sugar.

                Apple

                  Slow-cooked Apple Sauce

                  Required ingredients: apples, sugar, water, salt, cinnamon, butter, vanilla extract

                  Place the apples, sugar, water, salt, and cinnamon in a slow cooker, cooking them on low for about eight hours. Add the butter and vanilla extract, allow the sauce to cool, and enjoy.

                  7. Blanch them.

                  Blanching not only maximizes the health benefits by preserving the vitamins and minerals of fresh vegetables, but it also removes any bitterness and gives veggies a nice pop of color. To blanch any vegetable, simply place it in boiling water for a short time (usually around one minute), remove, and immediately place into an ice bath to cool.

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                  Green Beans

                    Green Beans with Lemon and Garlic

                    Required ingredients: green beans, garlic, olive oil, butter, red pepper flakes, lemon

                    Blanch the fresh green beans in a pot of salted water. Lightly heat butter with the garlic and spices, and the pour the sauce over the blanched green beans. Top with lemon zest, and season with salt and pepper to taste.

                    8. Pickle them.

                    Pickles may not seem healthy right away, but fermentation actually increases the probiotic content of vegetables. Keep in mind that naturally fermented pickles (ones that are not based on vinegar) are much higher in probiotics than quick, vinegar-based pickles. Cucumbers may be the most commonly eaten pickled food, but beets are another great vegetable to pickle due to their high potassium, folate, and fiber.

                    Pickles

                      Fermented Beets with Ginger and Orange

                      Required ingredients: beets, fresh ginger, vegetable starter culture, orange, honey, pickling spice

                      Mix vegetable starter culture with honey, and pour over the beets, ginger, orange, and pickling spice in a mason jar. Add enough water to cover the vegetables, and allow them to ferment at room temperature for about one week.

                      9. Roast them.

                      Once an underappreciated food (and not just by children!), brussel sprouts have recently started to receive their due praise. High in vitamins C, A, and K, Brussel sprouts are also packed with antioxidants that help promote healthy blood flow.

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                      Brussel sprouts

                        Roasted Brussel Sprouts

                        Required ingredients: Brussel sprouts, olive oil, salt and pepper

                        Remove any brown or yellow parts from the Brussel sprouts, and mix them well with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Roast them on a sheet pan for about 40 minutes, stirring them as desired for even cooking.

                        10. Don’t cook them.

                        The easiest way to cook fruits and vegetables is, well, not cooking them! Eating raw foods preserves all of the natural vitamins and minerals in the ftuirs and vegetables and prevents the mess of pots and pans. Plus – eating raw isn’t just about baby carrots and hummus. This soup recipe is 100% raw, giving you all of the lutein, vitamin K, and iron of fresh spinach.

                        Spinach

                          Cream of Spinach Soup

                          Required ingredients: spinach leaves, cucumber, tomato, water, avocado, garlic, soy sauce, sea salt, cayenne pepper, lemon juice, olive oil

                          This recipe requires just one step: blend everything together in a food processor, and serve! Lightly heat the soup on the stove if you prefer a warmed version.

                          Need more healthy recipes? Try out these 8 recipes for a quick and effortless lunch.

                          Featured photo credit: Leonie Wise via unsplash.com

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                          Last Updated on September 10, 2019

                          7 Morning Rituals to Empower Your Day And Change Your Life

                          7 Morning Rituals to Empower Your Day And Change Your Life

                          Most of your reality is not a given. It is shaped by your expectations, beliefs and thoughts you have formed about it. A big chunk of these beliefs and expectations are encoded into habits you integrate in your daily life.

                          Yes, some of these habits are formed unconsciously and can be counter-productive or limiting but conversely, you can consciously form positive habits that will transform and empower your life significantly.

                          This is a powerful point of departure that more and more people are becoming aware of. The most common trait of highly successful people is the recognition of the power they have in co-creating their reality through changing the way they think, believe or expect their reality to be.

                          One of the most effective ways of changing our belief patterns is through practising and maintaining daily rituals. Ancient traditions had clearly understood the power of rituals in reinforcing habits and changing the way we see and create our reality a long, long time ago.

                          Once again, if you look into the life history of any highly successful individual, you will find some form of ritual in their daily routine. Some of these rituals may seem banal or eccentric but don’t be deceived by appearances. Rituals are one of the most effective self-empowering tools freely available at the practitioner’s disposal – that is, you!

                          Below are some the easiest yet life-changing morning rituals you can do every day. Of course, you can have your own afternoon or bed-time rituals but morning rituals are extremely effective in empowering your day since they help you charge yourself before it all starts.

                          1. Gratitude

                          Feeling gratitude and appreciation for those little signs and moments of joy happening in your life is probably one of the most overlooked or underestimated rituals. It is a perfect morning ritual to start your day on a very positive key.

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                          The real power of gratitude is that it makes you pick out and focus on what is working in your life – what is in tune with your being as a whole. It is selectively positive. It reinforces happiness and positivity by shedding light on those awesome things, small or big, that grace your everyday living.

                          Quite often, we just pick out the pain points, the problems, the bottle necks, whatever it is that is not working in our life and causing friction, anxiety and unhappiness. This is like constantly rewriting the script of your life with a negative or tragic overtone. Your subconscious mind follows faithfully that script you write whether it is a negative or positive one.

                          So feeling gratitude is undoubtedly an immensely empowering ritual. Start your day by being thankful for those positive things that happened the previous day or throughout the week. It could be something really petty and small. It doesn’t matter. You might be grateful for an unexpected visit from an old friend, a beautiful encounter with a kind stranger, a new opportunity or whatever it is that shines your way. Do it every morning and see what happens during the day.

                          Gratitude-Quotes

                            2. Writing Down Your Most Important Tasks

                            This is a very practical ritual. Start your day by identifying and writing down from one to three of the most important tasks you need to complete during that day. These tasks are ones which support important long term goals that are aligned to your purpose, passion or general direction in life.

                            For example, if writing a book or building an online community are important long term goals which are aligned to your personal growth, then an important task for the day might be finishing off a particular page or two of the book or coming up with fresh content ideas for the online community.

                            What is important with this ritual is that you identify these tasks and complete them as early in the day as possible. Of course, you will have other tasks apart from the ones you will write down but, these are tasks which can be tackled later or batched up and carried out in one go.

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                            Writing down your most important tasks in the morning helps you focus your day and life according to what is essential. It helps you prioritize and manage your time better. As a result, you simplify your life by applying your focus and energy on what really counts for your overall life progress.

                            3. Affirm Your Goals in Writing or Drawing

                            This is similar to the previous idea but different in its application and purpose. Writing down your most important tasks of the day is a way to have a concrete structure of action to follow. Affirming your goals, on the other hand, is a very powerful way of crystallizing your vision and goals in life into your everyday mental space.

                            Writing down or doodling your goals on a piece of paper helps you externalize those goals by giving them form. In return, they are reflected back in your subconscious mind and thus, reinforcing them and integrating them more wholly.

                            An example of this would be writing down “I am achieving greater success in my career” or “I am becoming healthier and stronger through my exercise.” Notice the present tense being used as a way to tell yourself you are in the process already. Remember the life script we subconsciously follow? You are basically modifying the script to be applied now in the present.

                            Drawing or doodling can be equally, or even more, effective  (if you are more of a visual person) as it summarizes a graphical representation of your goals. For example, if your goal is to build a new house or live in another country, you can draw the house or draw things that symbolise the country you want to live in.

                            write down goals

                              4. Practice Qi Gong Exercises

                              According to Chinese philosophy, Qi (pronounced ‘Chee’) means the life force or energy inherent in all things;[1] and Qi Gong is the practice to cultivate and circulate that energy in your body. This may sound esoteric or complicated but actually, Qi Gong is really a set of simple exercises aimed at increasing your health and vitality.

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                              There are numerous forms and practices available for free through the online media. As a morning ritual, I recommend following these simple exercises by Qi Gong master Lee Holden:

                              5. Drink Hot Water with Lemon

                              Simply add a slice of lemon in a glass of hot water and drink one every morning. This is a very simple ritual I follow faithfully every morning.

                              Apart from being a good source of vitamin C and a great way of flushing out toxins in the morning, it balances and maintains the PH levels in the body, reduces pain and inflammation in joints and knees and helps nourishing brain and nerve cells. Here are some more benefits of drinking hot water with lemon.

                              6. Rise Earlier

                              The practical advantages of waking up early are obvious.

                              For example, you gain more time for doing exercise such as walking, cycling or Qi Gong as suggested above. You gain more time to be with yourself to reflect, meditate or, more importantly, carry out the other morning rituals.

                              So rising early can be seen as a foundation for all the other morning rituals. Many, like myself, find that they are more productive in the early hours of the day.

                              Also, various studies have shown that there are many other benefits from waking up an hour or two earlier in the morning. Sleeping early and waking up early helps the body attune with the earth’s circadian rhythms thus, promoting more restorative sleep. Other curious results from such studies show, for instance, that early risers tend to be more optimistic and can anticipate and solve problems more efficiently than the norm.[2]

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                              7. Listen to Uplifting Music

                              Uplifting music can have a direct impact on our mood, especially in the morning. It charges us emotionally and tunes us into a more positive outlook of the day ahead.

                              Most people wake up to music or listen to music as they commute to work. Very often, however, they tune in to a radio or randomly pick a playlist from their device. Being more selective and conscious of the music you listen to in the morning can have a great impact on your day and life in general.

                              It’s funny how we try to choose music according to our mood. For example if you are feeling down or disappointed by something, you are more prone to listen to music that reflects that mood – for instance blues, sad songs or downtempo music. This has the effect of reinforcing that mood. What you need to do is the exact opposite and retune your mood by listening to music that beats to a different tune than that mood.

                              Try to listen to more uplifting music in the morning even if, or especially if, your mood does not dictate so.

                              More About Energetic Habits & Rituals

                              Featured photo credit: Carli Jeen via unsplash.com

                              Reference

                              [1] Live Science: What Is Qi Gong
                              [2] Harvard Business Review: Defend Your Research: The Early Bird Really Does Get the Worm

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