Delicious and Nutritious Plants for Your Spring Vegetable Garden

Spring has officially sprung, and it’s time to start planting your spring garden, packed with delicious and nutritious veggies. Yum!

If you’ve never planted a vegetable garden before, or are looking for some new ideas for your existing garden, you’ve come to the right place. Today, we’re going to share some of our favorite veggies that thrive in gardens during the cooler spring months.

Even better, we’re going to share some delicious recipes you can use once your veggies are mature and ready to harvest.

Keep reading to discover the best types of veggies to plant this time of year and a variety of different recipes you can use to make these nutritious veggies taste great!

Lettuce

From iceberg to romaine, spring is the prime season for growing lettuce. In fact, it’s the best time you should have this leafy vegetable in your garden.

That’s because as soon as the weather gets hot, lettuce wilts and dies. So, start planting now!

We recommend growing romaine lettuce in your garden. The darker-colored lettuce varieties tend to have more vitamins and nutrients, like manganese, potassium, biotin, vitamin B1, copper, iron, and vitamin C, and are a very good source of dietary fiber.

Once you’ve harvested your lettuce, try out this delicious lettuce wrap recipe!

Chicken Lettuce Wraps

Ingredients:

  • 1-1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts, cubed
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1-1/2 teaspoons peanut oil, divided
  • 3/4 cup chopped fresh mushrooms
  • 1 can (8 ounces) water chestnuts, drained and diced
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh gingerroot
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons reduced-sodium teriyaki sauce
  • 1 tablespoon reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1-1/2 cups shredded carrots
  • 1/2 cup julienned green onions
  • 12 Bibb or Boston lettuce leaves
  • 1/3 cup sliced almonds, toasted

Directions:

#1. In a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray, cook chicken in 1 tablespoon oil for 3 minutes; drain. Add the mushrooms, water chestnuts and ginger; cook 4-6 minutes longer or until chicken is no longer pink. Drain and set aside.

#2. In a small bowl, whisk the vinegar, teriyaki sauce, soy sauce, garlic powder, red pepper flakes and remaining oil. Stir in the carrots, onions and chicken mixture.

#3. Spoon onto lettuce leaves; sprinkle with almonds. If desired, fold sides of lettuce over filling and roll up. Yield: 6 servings.

Recipe source: http://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/chicken-lettuce-wraps 

Broccoli  

Broccoli is another hardy cool weather veggie, which makes it perfect for springtime planting.

The best part—it’s a very low maintenance plant to grow. As long as you plant it in an area with full access to sunlight and water it every day, you’ll have beautiful broccoli stalks shooting up in your garden before you know it.

Tip: Broccoli does not like hot weather. For this reason, we advise you to pick up partially grown stalks from your local plant nursery so it has time to mature before summer hits.

Once harvested, each stalk is packed with dietary fiber, vitamin B6, vitamin E, manganese, phosphorus, vitamin B1, vitamin A, potassium, and copper. All of these nutrients are vital for a healthy body.

When your broccoli is ready to eat, we recommend trying out this broccoli salad recipe.

Broccoli Salad

Ingredients:

  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 5-6 cups fresh broccoli florets (about 1 pound of florets)
  • 1/2 cup toasted slivered almonds
  • 1/2 cup cooked, crumbled bacon
  • 1/4 cup of red onion, chopped
  • 1 cup of frozen peas, thawed (or fresh peas if you can get them)
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup honey

Directions:

#1. Bring a large pot of water, salted with a teaspoon of salt, to a boil. Add the broccoli florets. Cook 1-2 minutes, depending on how crunchy you want the broccoli. 1 minute will turn the broccoli bright green, and leave it still pretty crunchy. 2 minutes will cook the broccoli through, but still firm.

#2. Drain the broccoli and immediately put into a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking. After the broccoli cools, drain it well before dressing it in the next step.

#3. Combine broccoli florets, almonds, crumbled bacon, chopped onion, and peas in a large serving bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, cider vinegar and honey.

#4. Add dressing to the salad and toss to mix well. Chill thoroughly before serving.

Recipe Source: http://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/broccoli_salad/

Asparagus

Asparagus is a delicious and hardy spring vegetable. The only downside—this type of produce tends to be expensive when you buy it from a grocery store.

The solution: Grow your own at home and save big!

Because asparagus is typically grown from asparagus crowns that you buy at your local garden store, this veggie is pretty easy to grow. It’s also low maintenance, which makes it the perfect vegetable for those who are new to gardening.

On top of being easy to grow, it’s also very nutritious. It’s a very good source of fiber, folate, vitamins A, C, E and K. It also contains chromium, a trace mineral that enhances the ability of insulin to transport glucose from the bloodstream into cells.

Pretty neat!

Personally, my favorite way to consume asparagus is by cooking it on the grill.

Simply coat the asparagus stalks in a little bit of olive oil, then lightly salt and pepper.

Throw the stacks directly on the grill, or use a grill pan, and cook for about 10-15 minutes. The longer you cook the stalks, the softer they will become.

Super easy and delicious!

Tip: You can add whatever seasoning you like to asparagus. Experiment with different seasoning combinations until you find the flavoring you like best!

Do you have a favorite spring vegetable?

Let us know in the comments below!

Prevention-Palooza Charleston 2016

Prevention-Palooza is one of our favorite fall events here in Charleston.

This is the 3rd annual event hosted by the Dragon Boat Club, and it takes place on Saturday, November 12, from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the Arthur W. Christopher Center in downtown Charleston.

Prevention-Palooza is a FREE event held in partnership with Roper Hospital. Be sure to bring all of your friends and family to participate.

During this event, you will have access to health screenings, nutrition, and fitness vendors, and a fabulous keynote speaker.

You will also receive breakfast courtesy of the Dragon Boat Club. (Who can say no to a complimentary breakfast!?!)

The hope is that through education and access to medical screening, people can learn to take preventative health care measures to detect disease and illness, like breast cancer, fast.

We truly hope you’ll join us for a motivating and inspiring day of food and fitness!

Visit the Dragon Boat Charleston website or email melabriola@gmail.com to RSVP.

What’s your favorite part of Prevention-Palooza? Comment below.

Tips for Healing after a Mastectomy

 

The healing process after a mastectomy is different for every woman.

Some women heal quickly, while others take longer. Many women experience pain and discomfort, while others seem to have an easier time.

Much like our bodies, everyone’s experience is unique.

The one thing these women have in common is a desire to recover and heal as quickly and safely as possible. We don’t blame you, ladies!

Despite what your personal experience might be, we here at The Center for Natural Breast Reconstruction want to help you on your journey. So, read on for our tips to help you heal after a mastectomy.

Please remember to talk with your personal physician or surgeon before trying the followings tips:

Post-Mastectomy Massage

Many women enjoy the benefits of post-mastectomy massage after their surgical procedure.

Post-mastectomy massage can relieve post-operative pain and edema, and promote the removal of toxins as it assists in the flow of lymph, blood, and oxygen.

In addition to those benefits, over time this form of massage creates an increased range of motion in the upper body and helps brings back restored feeling and sensation through nerve ending stimulation.

Nutrition

Nutrition is an important part of the healing process. Your body needs the proper vitamins, minerals, and proteins to heal properly.

During your recovery, add some extra vegetables and fruits into your diet to ensure you get the nutrients your body needs.

Proteins are also important for tissue growth and healing.

If possible, add lean protein-packed meats, like chicken and fish, into your menu.

Exercise

Movement after a mastectomy is beneficial, once approved by your doctor, because it promotes blood flow for healing and helps keep your muscles and skin tissues flexible.

Once you’re able, we suggest adding some light exercise into your daily routine.

A few activities we love are walking, stretching, and yoga.

Emotional Healing

Healing after a mastectomy isn’t strictly physical.

Many women need emotional healing after such a life-changing procedure.

We recommend that you reach out to breast cancer support groups, a counselor, or life coach if you’re struggling with the very real emotional effects following a mastectomy.

Here are some tips on finding a great support group.

What has helped you heal when recovering from a mastectomy?

Comment below!

The Best Fro-Yo in Charleston

The frozen yogurt craze is sweeping the country—and Charleston, too!  One of the healthier indulgences around, frozen yogurt topped with fresh fruit is also the perfect summer treat.  Come see a few places where you can get your fix, and get in on the fun:

TCBY: Right off Folly Rd, you can get your swirl on at the chain that started it all. With delectable soft serve flavors (cake batter, anyone?), you can dress your fro-yo with toppings ranging from fresh fruit and almonds, to brownie bites and cookie bits. Show restraint or indulge as you see fit!

  • YoBe Frozen Yorgurt: With two locations to choose from, one in West Ashley and the other off International Boulevard in North Charleston, it’s easy to tour the delicious offerings of this renowned yogurt stand. The distinctive yogurt-rich taste of their soft serve is unlike anywhere else and absolutely delicious.

  • FreshBerry Frozen Yogurt Café: This frozen yogurt café on St. George Street is sure to woo with its pleasant atmosphere and fruit-infused menu. Stop by for a perfect late-night dessert, and enjoy some of the finer local fro-yo offerings in Charleston.
  • Yogurt Mountain: A lively stand on King Street, this frozen yogurt eatery has an abundance of soft serve flavors and toppings to make the perfect treat. For the lactose-intolerant diners, they even offer sorbet in wonderfully fruity options!
  • Menchies Frozen Yogurt: In Mount Pleasant, you’ll find this fro-yo joint has all the flavors and toppings you could wish for, and a hands-on approach to the whole endeavor: the soft serve machines, lined along the wall, are customer operated. So get creative! Mix and match to your heart’s content. Menchies even accounts for the indecisive fro-yo imbiber with little cups to sample each flavor.

What’s your favorite frozen yogurt flavor and topping combo?

 

Slimmed-Down Summer Recipes

It’s the season of barbeque and picnics, and at The Center for Natural Breast Reconstruction, we know most of our favorite summertime eats are brimming with saturated fat and cholesterol. As a solution, we’ve compiled our favorite recipes for healthy, waistline-friendly alternatives to the usual warm-weather menu items. Serve them proudly at your next cookout—they’re nutritious and delicious!

Trim Potato Salad:
3 med. potatoes
1/3 c. vegetable stock
1/4 c. low fat plain yogurt
3 tbsp. green pepper, minced
1 hardboiled egg (minus the yolk), chopped
1/3 c. onion, minced
1/4 tsp. celery seed
1/4 tsp. parsley flakes
Salt and pepper to taste

Cook potatoes in skins and cut into bite size pieces (potato skins have all the nutrients!). Allow chopped potatoes to cool until just warm. Add the remaining ingredients and toss lightly until well mixed. Chill and serve.

  • No-Pounder Beet Burgers: 1 1/4 cups cooked, cooled brown rice
    1 cup cooked brown or green lentils, cooled, drained well
    1 cup shredded beets
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    Fresh black pepper to taste
    1 teaspoon thyme
    1 teaspoon dill
    3 tablespoons very finely chopped onion
    2 cloves garlic, minced
    2 tablespoons smooth peanut butter
    1/2 cup very fine breadcrumbs
    Olive oil for the pan

Peel beets and shred with the shredder attachment of your food processor, and then change the attachment to a metal blade. Pulse the brown rice, shredded beets and lentils about 15 to 20 times, until the mixture comes together, but still has texture. It should look a lot like ground meat. Now transfer to a mixing bowl and add all the remaining ingredients. Use your hands to mix very well. Place the mixture in the fridge to chill for half an hour.

Preheat a cast iron pan over medium-high. Form the patties by taking a heaping 1/2-cup of mixture, and shaping it into burgers with your hands.

Pour a very thin layer of oil into the pan and cook patties for about 12 minutes, flipping occasionally. Burgers should be charred at the edges and heated through. Serve on a whole-wheat bun with all your favorite trappings.

  • Skinny Pasta Salad 1/2 lb. rotini (springs)
    2 lg. carrots, diced
    3 ribs celery, diced
    1 lg. red pepper, diced
    1 med. white onion, diced
    20 sliced black olives
    1 lg. cucumber, diced
    1 lg. tomato, diced
    Dill weed, black pepper, Mrs. Dash, basil
    1/2 bottle low fat Italian dressing (or more if needed)

Cook the pasta as per instructions on box, then chill. Chop all the vegetables and mix together.

Add dill, black pepper, and basil to taste (fresh is best). Add the chilled pasta, Italian dressing, and toss together. Chill and serve cold.

  • Low Fat Hot Dogs:The trim tip for this summer favorite is easy—simply make the switch from meat to meatless. Smart Dogs by Lightlife are fantastic hot dog substitutes without the mystery meat or saturated fat. In fact, each link has 0 grams of fat, 45 calories, and 8 grams of protein. All that nutrition and they still taste great! Grill these puppies, and top them off with a whole-wheat bun, diced onions, relish, ketchup, and you’ve got a new summer classic!

What is your favorite summer-time food?

 

Omega-3s: 5 Ways to Load Up on These Healthy Fats

omega3Many people hear the word “fat” and immediately think it should not be a part of their diet. But what you might not know is that some fats are actually good for you!

Omega-3 fatty acids are in the “healthy fat” group, and your body actually needs them to function normally. Not only are they great for your brain, but they also have been shown to reduce inflammation, boost heart health, lower triglycerides, relieve rheumatoid arthritis, and even aid in the treatment of depression. As an added bonus, Omega-3s are an antiager!

These miracle fats are vital to your overall health and longevity. Your body can’t produce these healthy fats on their own, so you need to make sure you’re getting a daily dose through your diet.

Chances are you’re already eating foods that contain Omega-3s without even knowing it. Below are five wonderful sources of Omega-3 fatty acids and how to include them in your diet. Happy eating!

1. Fish

Salmon and tuna are two of the best natural sources of Omega-3 fatty acids. These are a wonderful dinner option, served with wild rice or on top of a salad. Don’t shy away from the white part of the fish when it’s cooked – that’s where the highest concentration of Omega-3s is!

2. Avocados

Cut up an avocado and toss it into your salad – it’s a great way to get those healthy fats with fewer calories! Plus, they add variety to your traditional salad.

3. Walnuts

Keep a handful of these at your desk to ward off afternoon hunger and keep your mind alert.

4. Olive Oil

Heart-healthy olive oil is full of Omega-3 fatty acids, and is also great for your skin and waistline! Try substituting it for butter when cooking your morning omelet.

5. Flax Seeds

Flax seeds have one of the highest concentrations of Omega-3 fatty acids found in nature. A three-tablespoon serving of flax seeds has the same amount of Omega-3s as a pound of fish, making this a great option for a girl on the go. Add them to your cereal, or serve with yogurt and fruit for a nutritious meal that will keep you going all day!

There are also many Omega-3 supplements available at your local health food store, if you feel that you’re not getting enough of these foods. Just make sure that you’re taking 500 mg of fish oil, or Omega-3s, per day.

Visit our Facebook page and share your healthy eating tips!

 

How to Eat Out without Blowing Your Healthy Eating Plan

Eating out doesn’t have to mean watching every morsel you put in your mouth for fear of blowing your eating plan. With just a few tweaks, you can enjoy eating out and still stick to your program.

Say no to the bread, or have just one slice with your meal.

Many restaurants bring out a big basket of bread the moment you sit down, and this bread can wreck your healthy eating plans. If you can’t say no, at least have the bread with your entrée to minimize the damage. Spread real butter on it or dip it in olive oil. If you love bread, ask for darker breads like rye instead of the typical white bread.

Ask for low-starch veggies in place of potatoes or rice.

If your meal comes with potatoes or rice, ask to substitute something else. Low-starch veggies such as green beans, spinach, or broccoli are good choices.

Enjoy plenty of salad with healthy dressing.

Ask the server about your dressing choices. Chances are you can enjoy a healthy, homemade vinaigrette or oil and vinegar. If you have access to a salad bar, don’t be afraid to load up on the greens and veggies, but go easy on the cheese, croutons, and creamy dressing.

If you must have creamy dressing, have it on the side, dip your fork in it, and then take a bite of salad. If you want creamy dressing on a house salad, ask for it on the side.

Put half in a to-go box.

Ask for a to-go box when you order, and put half your meal in it before you start eating. That way you don’t blow your diet, and you can enjoy the rest of the meal the next day. If you’d rather not take anything home, split a meal with your dining companion, or give the leftovers to a friend.

When it comes to dessert, have anything you wish—just take a few bites.

You’ve probably noticed that when you eat a rich, luscious dessert, there comes a point at which it’s too much and you’ve had enough. Why not order any dessert you want and then savor only two or three bites? Again, you can share or take the rest home.

What’s your favorite tip for healthy eating out?