Holistic Nutrition & Prevention

Step out of your food comfort zone

By Mercedes Kay Gold, CNP, CPT

We live in a world of endless memes telling us to be fearless and how life begins outside our comfort zone. Most people are creatures of habit, tending to rise and shine at the same time every morning, following the same routine. For some it’s a simple homebrewed black coffee while others desire a non-fat plant-based, one shot of espresso, honey, and cinnamon sprinkled cappuccino on-the-go. It’s easy to stay stuck in a rut but the truth is we require a myriad of minerals, vitamins and phyto-nutrients to feed our cells. With nutrient depleted soil, it’s more important than ever to mix up the menu. Take a stroll through the produce aisle and please admire the array of exotic possibilities. This trip, step outside the culinary cuisine comfort zone and choose a new fruit or vegetable. Here’s some holistic help. After polling clients, the top four less familiar but in need of fame produce picks are rutabaga, rapini, dragon fruit and persimmon.

Rutabaga is a root vegetable and tastes like a cross between turnip and cabbage. This healthy hybrid contains loads of anti-oxidant super immune-boosting vitamin C. A peeler removes the waxy outside and this low-calorie and carbohydrate cruciferous vegetable is ready to steam, roast or mash. Go Greek and roast with olive oil, oregano, sweet paprika, thyme, garlic powder and a squeeze of fresh lemon. Put potatoes on pause and power-up with potassium-packed mashed rutabaga or rosemary fries.  Rutabaga makes a flavourful addition to stews and soups.

Rapini or broccoli rabe is ironically not a part of the broccoli family but rather the brassica. Rapini is in fact related to the turnip but best to prepare as if a leafy green. Although rapini originated in Asia, you may recall reading rapini on the menu of your favourite Italian restaurant. High in folate and vitamin K and C, rapini is a bit bitter but a delightful side dish fried with olive oil, garlic and a slew of spices.

Dragon Fruit is a tropical fruit is known by many names, originating in southern Mexico and Central America. Pitaya or strawberry pear is exquisitely exotic in appearance but a sweet summer tasty sensation similar to the combination of a pear and kiwi. Nutrient dense but low-calorie and chocked ful of awesome anti-oxidants in the rich red fabulous fruit pulp make dragon fruit a first class smoothie stand-in.

Persimmons may look like tomatoes but buyers beware, this flawless fruit is a berry and popularly grown in Japan.  There are two common types at the market. The fuyu is yellow and crisp like an apple while the hachiya is a sweet and juicy outrageous orange color. Persimmons are high in vitamin C, supporting immunity and building collagen and their crazy crayon color links them to eye supporting vitamin A. The hachiya variety is hype worthy. They are ripe and ready once soft and sort of squishy. Scoop out the inside, add a touch of cinnamon and there you have it, a fabulous yogurt and oatmeal topper in lieu of honey or maple syrup. Mushy persimmons can be swapped for apple sauce in recipes or create a jewel of a jam.

We eat to live but live a little when you eat. Mother Nature is not meant to be mundane. She provided a rainbow of ravishing fruits and vegetables with heaps of holistic health benefits. Try something new and power up with produce from around the world.

Photo credit: ©[Saaster] via CanvaMercedes Kay Gold is a Certified Holistic Practitioner and Certified Mobile Personal Trainer living and working in Toronto. Her writing has been featured in various publications and has appeared on Daytime with Jacqueline Betterton. She spends her spare time blogging about all things healthy and enjoying time with her sons. She can be reached at mercedeskaygoldfitness@gmail.com or visit www.mercedeskaygold.com

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