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How to Cook with Pomegranate

I’ll be honest. The first time I cracked open a pomegranate and took a bite of raw seeds was last week. In all my 26 years of foodie adventures I had never tried a pomegranate. Can you believe that? I’d always known pomegranates were extremely healthy for you but I’d just been intimidated by their large round shell and fleshy innards. But upon finding out how easy they are to crack into and the abundant health benefits they provide, I knew I had to purchase them more often. Here are just a few reasons you should consider doing the same.

Health benefits: Pomegranate seeds and juice are loaded with vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C and B5, potassium, fiber and various kinds of polyphenols. In addition, pomegranates can also help lower cholesterol and blood pressure, prevent both circulatory and dental plaque, help ward off some types of cancers, slow Alzheimer’s, and even reduce joint inflammation. Also, pomegranate oil – which you can find in most health food stores – is extremely beneficial for healthy hair, nails and cuticles. They’re also an excellent source of iron and folic acid.

Nutritional statistics: One pomegranate 4 inches in diameter contains approximately 235 calories, 3 grams fat, 53 grams carbohydrates, 11 grams fiber, 39 grams sugar and 5 grams protein.
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How to Cook with Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes are one of my absolute favorite foods. I rarely go to the grocery store without picking a few up to have on hand for a quick lunch, side dish or healthy snack throughout the week; but it hasn’t always been that way. Only in recent years have I let the sweet, orange variety reign supreme in my heart over traditional white potatoes. But since making the switch I’ve reaped some serious health benefits, and not to mention satisfied my sweet tooth. 

Health benefits: Sweet potatoes are loaded with essential vitamins and minerals like vitamins C, B6 and D, which help promote overall health, prevent such serious health risks as heart attacks and bone decay, and also ensure proper immune system function.

They’re also high in fiber, which helps promote proper digestion and the body’s ability to maintain a healthy weight. A lesser known health benefit of sweet potatoes is that they are loaded with iron, which is essential for white blood cell production, stress management, optimum immune health and the metabolizing of protein. They’re also a great source of magnesium, potassium, and carotenoids like beta carotene, which help strengthen eyesight, boost immunity to disease and even ward off cancer.

Nutritional statistics: One cup of cooked sweet potato with skin contains approximately 180 calories, 0 g fat, 41 g carbohydrates, 7 grams fiber, 13 grams sugar and 4 grams of protein.
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How to Cook with Brussels Sprouts

Brussels sprouts often get a bad rap for their peculiar appearance and the way your grandma probably makes them taste at Thanksgiving. But what you probably don’t know is that they’re loaded with good-for-you vitamins and nutrients and when prepared correctly can be extremely delicious. For instance, you know that icky taste broccoli can take on when it’s overcooked? That’s probably the same unpalatable taste you began associating with Brussels sprouts somewhere down the line. But I highly recommend you give them another chance, starting with the five tasty recipes we share below.

Health benefits: For starters, Brussels sprouts are very high in fiber, containing more than 15 percent of our daily recommended amount in just one serving. They can also aid in lowering cholesterol, encouraging proper digestion, and even blocking the activity of harmful enzymes that can do serious damage to the DNA in white blood cells, according to a study shared by healthdiaries.com.

In addition, Brussels sprouts are high in manganese, vitamins A, E, and C, and antioxidants, which naturally fight free radicals in the body to help prevent certain types of cancer. Brussels sprouts are also an anti-inflammatory food thanks to an abundance of vitamin K; and just one half cup serving contains nearly 430 milligrams of omega-3 fatty acids, which have been found to help boost heart health, lower triglycerides and even help prevent and treat such serious conditions as arthritis and depression.
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How to Cook with Acorn Squash

Along with spaghetti and butternut squash, acorn squash is another winter fruit that seems to be popping up everywhere this time of year. I’ve seen it in recipes for soups, pastas, salads, and even pies and it all looks so gorgeous and tasty it’s growing hard to resist. However, similar to my foodie blunder of never trying butternut squash, I’ve also never tried acorn squash – shame on me. But after rounding up some seriously delicious recipes featuring it both in savory and sweet settings (find six below), I’m officially adding it to my “to try” list this holiday season and hope you’ll do the same.

Health benefits: Acorn squash is an extremely healthy winter fruit loaded with vitamins and minerals like vitamins B-12, C and A, and potassium, folic acid and manganese. It’s also considerably high in folic acid, fiber and both alpha-carotene and beta carotene, which help fight free radicals in the body and ward off certain types of cancers.

Just one cup of acorn squash contains 145 percent of the recommended daily amount of vitamin A. The same serving size also provides 15 percent of the recommended daily amount of omega 3 fatty acids, which evidence has shown can help boost heart health, lower triglycerides and even help prevent and treat serious conditions such as arthritis and depression.
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How to Cook with Kale

Kale was a leafy green that I veered far away from as a kid. But now that I’ve matured and wised up to know that kale is one of the healthiest greens around, I’ve opted to include it in my diet a bit more often. For those only beginning to venture into the world of dark leafy greens, kale is a great place to start and often referred to as the “queen of greens” for its superior health benefits. There is a bounty of delicious recipes to pick from online (we share five below), most grocery stores and markets have it in stock, and it’s so diverse that chances are you’re bound to find at least one way to enjoy this nutritious green. 

Health benefits: For starters, kale – also known as borecole – is an amazing source of iron. In fact, it contains more per serving than beef, which is extremely beneficial as iron promotes cell growth, proper liver function, the formation of hemoglobin and enzymes, and also transports oxygen throughout the body, according to MindBodyGreen.

Kale is also high in vitamin K and C, fiber, and cancer-fighting antioxidants like carotenoids and flavonoids. In addition, one cup contains 10 percent of the recommended daily amount of omega-3 fatty acids, which help protect against arthritis, depression and autoimmune disorders, as well as promote heart health.
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