Fiber and electrolytes: cranberries & sweet potato

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As you read this, are you thinking about New Year’s Resolutions? How many of you have eating healthy as a resolution? Is being a conscious food eater important? Do you think about the food you eat? How it got to your table? Who might have farmed it?

Until recently, I never thought about this and now it is all I think about, but not in a cumbersome way, in a curious, educational way. It is exciting learning about food, culture, recipes and those who produce it, including the generations of family farmers, urban farmers and small farmers like me. There is something pure and beautiful in learning about food, even during the holidays!

The holidays are about fun and food, and often guilt, guilt that enjoying food now will mean a need to lose weight in the New Year. A lot of us make promises to get healthier each year. Yet, in honoring these promises we focus on fat and calories and restricting food intake instead of feeding our bodies the nutrients, minerals and vitamins it needs. Because of this, in the short term, some of us succeed while some of us fail. Yet, in the long term, not feeding our bodies the nutrients, minerals and vitamins it needs hurts the way our body functions.

My very first New Year’s Resolution was to lose weight and eat foods without fat or calories. Good real wholesome yummy food became an enemy and so the diet yoyo began. But for me, restricting food never led to sustainable weight loss nor sustainable energy or health. The first time I fed my body real food, I was amazed at not only how hungry I was (I ate constantly), but that eating foods high in natural fat did not lead to weight gain. The other added bonuses included normal poop, energy and no more shoulder to neck headaches.

It has taken time to learn food isn’t the enemy. It is the way most of our food is processed that is the enemy. So much of what we crave is chemically enhanced to make us crave it, which benefits manufactures and big AG while hurting family farmers. These cravings also lead to health issues, and incidentally, big pharma is there to help with those issues through over-the-counter and prescription drugs.

The journey to health and a happy weight involves a reintroduction of food. At first real food, organic food will taste bland but with the right recipes and the right spices, and just time, real food will taste delicious. You’ll be able to sense and taste different lettuces, fruits and other vegetables. And when the natural flavors (not those manufactured in a lab) burst in your mouth, your taste buds will thank you, and so will your waist line and your overall health.

During this time of year, I find myself eating some processed food and each and every time my body protests. So this year, join us in eating healthy because it is not only good for you, it is good for the environment and it leads to less food waste. This is a win for you, a win for family farms, and a win for mother earth and all her life.

Sweet potatoes and cranberries are seen on many holiday tables. And both have benefits to a thinner you, a more healthy you.

DID YOU KNOW?! Dried cranberries provide electrolytes and fiber.

“Potassium is a type of electrolyte mineral in dried cranberries. You need adequate amounts of potassium each day to maintain a normal fluid balance so electricity can flow through your body. … A 1/2-cup portion of dried cranberries adds about 15 milligrams of potassium to your diet.

Dried cranberries are also full of insoluble fiber from the dense, chewy cranberry skins. This type of fiber speeds your digestive tract, relieves constipation and helps you have regular, soft bowel movements. Your diet should consist of 14 grams of fiber for every 1,000 calories you consume, explains the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. ”

Cranberries provide 4.6 grams of fiber.

DID YOU KNOW?! Cranberries are native to North America.

“As a food native to North America, cranberries have traditionally been enjoyed by many native people throughout what is now the United States and Canada. Cranberries were originally given different names in various tribal languages, including the name “ibimi”—which meant bitter/sour berries—in Wampanoag and Lenni

Lenape. The name “cranberry” came from much later observations by European colonizers of North America that the flowers of cranberry plants were shaped like the head and neck of sandhill cranes, which lead to the term “craneberry.” The word “craneberry” was eventually shortened to “cranberry.”

DID YOU KNOW?! Fresh cranberries are nearly 90% water, while the dry weight is mostly composed of carbohydrates and fibers.

DID YOU KNOW?! Cranberries are good for you.

“They are low in calories (one cup has about 50 calories) and high in vitamin C, vitamin A, and vitamin K. They offer a range of health benefits from weight loss, to a healthy digestive system, to lowering cholesterol, to controlling blood sugar, to warding off colds, to fighting gum disease. With one caveat, adding sugar can take away from the health benefits.”

DID YOU KNOW?! The cranberry was a symbol of peace.

DID YOU KNOW?! Other fun facts about cranberries:

“The 5 states known for growing cranberries are: Massachusetts, Wisconsin, New Jersey, Oregon, and Washington.

Cranberries have small pockets where air seeps into that allows them to float.

Cranberries do not grow in water.

Cranberries are typically in season from October until December.

Cranberries can be used as fabric dyes.

Only about 5% of cranberries are sold fresh while the rest are turned into cranberry juice, sauce, etc.”

DID YOU KNOW?! Sweet potatoes provide electrolytes and fiber.

“One 5-inch raw sweet potato contains about 438 milligrams of potassium. … Potassium, along with other electrolytes such as calcium, magnesium and sodium, helps regulate your body’s fluid balance, muscle contraction and heart function.”

DID YOU KNOW?! Fiber helps with weight loss.

“Food with fiber can help you to feel full longer so that you don’t feel the urge to eat as often. But there are two kinds of fiber to choose from: soluble and insoluble; and each type of fiber offers benefits if you’re trying to lose weight.

Soluble fiber dissolves in water. Oatmeal, for example, is a popular food that contains soluble fiber.  Soluble fiber binds with water to create a viscose gel in your stomach. Many forms of soluble fiber are also called high-viscosity fiber. You’ll find soluble fiber in many citrus fruits, barley, and legumes.

So why eat soluble fiber for weight loss? Foods that contain soluble fiber help you to feel full for a longer period of time. This is because it empties from your stomach at a slower rate than other foods. Soluble fiber also helps to slow the rate at which sugar is released into your bloodstream so that you maintain a steady energy level after eating.

Insoluble fiber does not dissolve in water and our bodies don’t digest it. So it passes through your body intact and the calories in it do not get absorbed. Insoluble fiber is also called low-viscosity fiber. Foods that contain insoluble fiber are whole grains, bran, and many vegetables.

So why eat insoluble fiber? If you’re trying to lose weight, this food adds bulk to your diet and fills your belly (and your plate!) without adding calories to your waistline. Dieters who eat enough insoluble fiber may also benefit from improved regularity and less constipation.”

DID YOU KNOW?! Sweet Potatoes are good for you.

“One cup of baked sweet potato provides nearly half of your daily vitamin C needs. The same portion also supplies 400%(!) of your recommended daily intake of vitamin A. Both nutrients are vital for supporting immune function, which is especially important during cold and flu season. Vitamin A is also key for maintaining healthy skin, vision, and organ function.

A serving of sweet potato delivers a third of your need for manganese, a mineral that helps produce collagen and promote skin and bone health. You’ll also get between 15 and 30% of several energy-supporting B vitamins and minerals, including potassium.

Sweet Potatoes are antioxidant powerhouses. Vitamins A and C also function as antioxidants that protect cells against aging and disease. For even more antioxidants, choose purple sweet potatoes. The pigment that gives them their gorgeous hue has particularly potent antioxidant properties. 

They’re anti-inflammatory.”

DID YOU KNOW?! “Many people think yams and sweet potatoes are the same, but a true yam is a starchy, edible root of the Dioscorea genus, and is generally imported to America from the Caribbean. Depending on the variety, sweet potato flesh can vary from white to orange and even purple.

Sweet potatoes are high in beta carotene, vitamins E and C, iron, potassium and vitamin B6.

Sweet potato roots are harvested 90 to 120 days after transplanting.

North Carolina’s official vegetable is the sweet potato.

February is National Sweet Potato Month.”

DID YOU KNOW?! “Sweet potato smoothies may be the perfect, energizing afternoon snack.

Add a healthy fat (I use almond butter, but avocado will also work), your favorite milk, ginger, and cinnamon to 1 cup of cubed sweet potatoes and 2 to 3 carrots. Blend. Add some of your favorite warming spices like nutmeg or allspice. Blend in some dates if you want more sweetness.”

DID YOU KNOW?! “Sweet potato made the A-List.

Sweet Potatoes made the Clean 15, which means your potential exposure to toxins is lower than with other conventionally grown produce.”

I buy organic when it’s an option.

DID YOU KNOW?! “The jewel sweet potato is by far the most popular variety.

While the jewel represents more than 75% of the commercially grown options, there are other sweet potato options out there, including Garnet (also not a yam), Diana, and Beauregard. Some popular firm sweet potato varieties include Kotobuki, Hannah, Okinawan, Yellow Jersey, and Boniato. Madison writes that Kotobuki tastes more “like chestnuts than candy” (sign me up!) and Boniato is “the least sweet of the sweet potatoes.”

DID YOU KNOW?! “You can eat the whole plant.

You can eat the leaves, shoots and stems, which “are similar to Malabar spinach, very nutritious.”

Well that is a lot of information in one little article. I share this now because holiday eating is still in full force. Adding a cranberry or two plus a sweet potato just might offer you the yummiest options that are good for you too!

For cranberry recipes check out: https://www.countryliving.com/food-drinks/g909/cranberry-recipes/ or https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/articles/50-things-to-make-with-cranberries

And for sweet potato recipes check out: https://spicysouthernkitchen.com/spicy-sweet-roasted-sweet-potatoes/ or https://www.foodnetwork.com/topics/sweet-potato

O’h and one last thing,

DID YOU KNOW?! Sweet potatoes can be purple.

Until next time, happy eating!

Hugs,
Elizabeth Fischer

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