Betty Wedman-St Louis, PhD, RD, LD

Licensed Nutritionist & Environmental Health Specialist

Archive for the ‘olive oil’ tag

Watercress Salad

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Watercress SaladDespite how North Americans may classify them, weeds like watercress can be healthy and can offer medicinal properties. In fact, watercress is listed as an aphrodisiac in Dioscorides’ De Materia Medica from 77 A.D. Ancient Egyptians knew its benefits before it spread to Europe and Asia.

According to Food Plants of the World by Ben-Erik van Wyk, Persians, Greeks and Romans used watercress as a medicine, eating the leaves raw in salads and on sandwiches. Asian recipes often add watercress to soups and sautes.

Young watercress leaves and stems have a piquant, somewhat peppery flavor that adds zest to the rich complement of vitamins and minerals: vitamin C, folate, magnesium and iron. It is the best vegetable source of omega-3 fatty acids for reducing inflammation.

Watercress’ medicinal uses have expanded through the years. Ancient cultures employed it as a digestive stimulant and tonic, as well as an anemia remedy. Externally, Matthew Biggs, Jekka McVicar and Bob Flowerdew write in Vegetables, Herbs & Fruit, it served as a hair tonic and was used on skin to remove rashes. Poultices of watercress were used to heal glandular tumors and lymphatic swelling.

Current research is focused on the antiangiogenic cancer-suppressing properties found in this relative of the radish. Watercress’ isothiocyanate compounds make it an excellent plant for juicing by people who want to minimize abnormal cell growth.

To purchase watercress, look in the produce section for a sealed plastic bag with a hydroponically grown cluster of stems and leaves.

You can snip off just enough for mixing into yogurt to serve over grilled salmon.

Or enjoy this vegetable, which has more vitamin K (250mcg in about 3 1/2 ounces) than broccoli (205mcg) and green cabbage (145mcg), according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture database, as I do, in a watercress salad that tantalizes the taste buds.

Watercress Salad

2 to 3 cups watercress
2 cups broccoli florets
1 small garlic clove, minced
1/3 cup chopped scallion or onion
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons virgin olive oil
1/4 cup dried juice-sweetened cranberries

Trim thick stems off watercress and chop into bite-sized pieces. Steam broccoli florets just until crisp. Cool. Combine garlic, scallion, vinegar and olive oil in a small bowl. Let stand 15 to 20 minutes for flavors to blend. Toss watercress, broccoli and vinegar mixture together. Top with cranberries.

Makes 4 servings.

Nutrition information per serving: 34 calories, 1g protein, 5g carbohydrates, 2g fat, 18mg sodium.

Written by PFAdmin

October 19th, 2015 at 3:15 pm

Vegetable Stir Fry

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Vegetable Stir FryThe highlight of the Institute of Food Technology (IFT) meeting in July was meeting Karla Chambers, Vice President of Stahlbush Island Farms. Her book, Farming, Food & Fine Art is filled with easy to prepare fruit and vegetable recipes with full color photos that make your mouth water. A Recipe & Coloring Book – The Color of Nutrition is just what is needed to encourage better eating habits. Both can be ordered from Stahlbush Island Farms at or Amazon.

The IFT conference also featured corn as a whole grain that food processors like Kellogg, Post and Pepperidge Farms will be using in cereal bars, crackers, baby snacks and baking mixes because it is gluten-free.

Stevia plants take too much land for growing this alternative sweetener so Cargill (makers of Truvia) and Evolva, a synthetic biology pioneer will be converting corn into steviol glycosides via a fermentation process that begins with genetically engineered baker’s yeast.

Another low calorie sugar called ” allulose” added excitement for beverage, yogurt, ice cream and baked goods manufacturers. It has the bulk, texture and taste of sugar with no calories and 70% of the sweetness. Whether it can be labeled as “natural” is yet to be decided. Allulose is found in small amounts in some fruits but the manufactured product is produced via the enzymatic conversion of corn, sugar or other materials containing fructose.

Cricket powder was a show stopper. Dr. Aaron Dossey, founder and CEO of bug ingredients and research firm All Things Bug, stated that many producers roast and then grind crickets to make a dark, coarse powder. He grinds crickets for heat-treating them, creating a paler, firmer powder with a more neutral flavor with a shelf life of 12 months that could be used in muffins, pancakes, or protein powders.

Aquatic plants could be the next source of healthy oils according to Mark Brooks, senior vice president of Solazme. Algae oil does not contain trans fats and is a monounsaturated fat like olive oil. It could be used in mayo, salad dressings and fried foods in the future.

Vegetable Stir Fry

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 bag (2 cups) frozen sweet corn
1 small red bell pepper, chopped
1 bag frozen spinach or 2 packed cups fresh spinach
Toasted sesame seeds
Salt & pepper to taste

Heat olive oil in skillet over medium heat. Add onions. Saute 3 minutes before adding garlic and corn. Saute 5-10 minutes longer until onions are tender. Add red pepper and spinach. Saute until spinach is fully cooked, about 5 minutes. Top with toasted sesame seeds before serving. Makes 4 servings.

One serving = 72 calories
Protein 2 g
Carbohydrates 15g
Fat 3g
Sodium 53 mcg

Written by PFAdmin

October 19th, 2015 at 3:12 pm

Roasted Radicchio

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RadicchioAt its recent annual meeting, the American Diabetes Association estimated that more than 85 million Americans have prediabetes, and that without medical reimbursement for nutrition education most of them will develop Type 2 diabetes.

Major causes of prediabetes are an increased body mass index, or BMI, and the consumption of foods and drinks that have been sweetened with high fructose corn syrup. To reduce the epidemic of diabetes, Americans need more vegetables and healthy fats in their diet. Nutrition education and menu planning could help with that.

As a person’s blood glucose rises, metformin often is prescribed for blood glucose control. People who take metformin have been shown to have malabsorption of vitamin B-12, which ultimately can lead to diabetic neuropathy. In the journal Clinical Diabetes, Dr. M.J. Zdilla indicates that a B-12 deficiency from metformin use can be corrected by supplementation and the use of other oral therapies. At greatest risk is the person who takes metformin for blood glucose control and proton pump inhibitors for gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD.

When I mentioned this research to a group of people with Type 2 diabetes, and we discussed diet, they were quick to tell me how boring salads can be. After listing at least 20 foods that could be made into a salad, I described how salad ingredients also can be grilled or roasted. Suddenly everyone was more attentive. Radicchio, or Italian chicory, for example, brings color, spice and crunch to any meal.

Radicchio is a unique red vegetable with antioxidants, vitamins and minerals comparable to those in blueberries, minus the sugar. The red color comes from anthocyanidins, flavonoids important for collagen production in blood, soft tissues and ligaments. Anthocyanidins are important for skin and protection of all cells from free radical damage.

Adding a red vegetable to the diet of people with prediabetes and Type 2 diabetes increases health benefits without any added sugar.

Betty Wedman-St Louis is a licensed nutritionist and environmental health specialist in Pinellas County who has written numerous books on health and nutrition. Visit her website at

Roasted Radicchio

1 head radicchio
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
2 tablespoons red wine or balsamic vinegar
Grated Parmesan cheese

Cut head of radicchio in half and cut each half into 2 wedges, keeping core attached. Place on baking pan. Drizzle on olive oil and thyme. Roast in 400-degree preheated oven for about 10 minutes or until tender. Arrange radicchio on plate. Drizzle with vinegar and sprinkle on Parmesan cheese.

Makes 4 servings.

Nutrition information per serving: 44 calories, 2g protein, 6g carbohydrates, 6g fat, 56mg sodium.

Written by PFAdmin

October 19th, 2015 at 3:07 pm


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BeetrootBeets are “the most under appreciated food in the history of eating “, according to Carolyn Pierini, a nutrition consultant at the A4M (American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine) meeting in Hollywood, FL last month. Beets have been used as a source of food for centuries because they can be grown most of the year in a wide variety of climates and have long storability.

Today beets are recognized as a super food and beet powder is an active ingredient in nutritional supplements. Beets are reported to have the ability to boost stamina, improve cognition and support heart health in Drs. Nathan Bryan and Janet Zand, The Nitric Oxide (NO) Solution. Several recipes included in the three day meal plan include beets for those wanting to exercise longer with less effort.

During the A4M conference I could also measure how many beet meals I needed by using saliva strips to indicate my nitric oxide levels. A lozenge made from beetroot, hawthorne berry and other botanicals did help increase the nitric oxide levels in my saliva from low to normal. But I decided that eating beetroot, arugula, spinach, kohlrabi, endive and parsley offered a more tasty way to enhance my NO factor.

Beetroot nitrate is the source of nitric oxide and it penetrates cell membranes sending signals to every cell in the body. Research demonstrates that NO gets blood flowing and makes platelets less sticky plus brain cells communicate better mood and neurological function. Studies reported in Hypertension indicated blood pressure was substantially reduced after drinking about 2 cups beetroot juice.

Nitric oxide has been the subject of over 130,000 published scientific papers since its discovery in the 1980’s by 3 scientists who were later awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1998. NO is the master regulator of blood flow which affects every organ and tissue in the body.

A plant based diet of fruits and vegetables delivers more nitrates into the body which are converted to nitrite by bacteria. Beets are an amazing source of concentrated nitrate.

Beet benefits are also found in the compound betaine predominately from pigments in the beetroot. When beets are cooked in water, some loss of betaine results so roasting beets in the oven is a healthier way to save the nutritional benefits. Peeling and slicing them without cooking is popular with raw food advocates. This recipe can be a delightful salad whether it is made with cooked, roasted or raw beetroots.

Marinated Beets with Goat Cheese

4 small beetroots, peeled
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
4 ounces goat cheese

Thinly slice beetroots. Combine oil, vinegar and honey. Pour over beets. Marinate at least 1 hour or overnight. Place beet slices on serving plate. Top with thyme and goat cheese. Makes 4 servings.

Calories per serving 79
Protein 7g
Carbohydrates 10g
Fat   4g
Sodium 68 mcg

Written by PFAdmin

October 19th, 2015 at 2:35 pm

Seafood = Brain Food

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The secret to immortality comes from the sea according to Shin Kubota at Kyoto University. He tends jellyfish and reports they contain apoaequorin- a protein proven to support brain function like memory and learning.

Japan has the world’s oldest population and also enjoys the culinary delights of sea cucumbers and sea urchins. Both of these marine species are able to change the elasticity of collagen within their bodies so researchers are considering they may hold the key to maintaining youthful skin in humans, according to Professor Maurice Elphick in General and Comparative Endocrinology. Peptides within these echinoderms cause rapid stiffening and softening of the collagen in their cell walls which may provide the secret to preventing wrinkles.

Most Americans have become aware of omega 3 fatty acids from seafood sources like wild Alaskan salmon, but few realize that it also contains a healthy dose of astraxanthin to support the cardiovascular system and joint health. Findings reported in Atherosclerosis recommend daily supplementation of 0.5 to 4.5 grams omega 3 fatty acids to improve a blood vessel’s ability to relax. Higher doses were not effective.

We need to start looking to other sources for marine-based fatty acids and minerals in the diet. In December 2012, the New York Times featured a whelk and potato chowder on the front page of the food section. Whelks are a by-catch of the fishing industry that can be boiled in salt water and served as an Atlantic sea snail with garlic butter. Whelks, conchs, and murexes contain concentrated amino acids which have been enjoyed by other cultures to boost libido, increase energy, and improve muscle tone.

To get in the spirit of enjoying the fruits of the sea, try a classic dish called Bouillabaisse or fish soup. It is more of a stew than a soup which originally was cooked on the beach by fishermen using any of their catch that had little market value. Today, Bouillabaisse can be found on some seafood restaurant menus featuring tomatoes, potatoes, onions and saffron to complement an assortment of seafood choices. It fits into the MIND diet (Mediterranean Intervention Neurodegenerative Delay) and the DASH diet (Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension). Fish and seafood really is brain food. Try adding various assortments of seafood to this recipe for a quick and tasty meal.


1 small onion or leek, chopped
1 small garlic clove, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 ripe tomatoes, chopped
3 cups water or fish stock
1 teaspoon tomato paste
Large pinch of saffron
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves or 1 fresh sprig
1 1/2 pounds fish, cut into bite-size chunks
2 potatoes, peeled & sliced thin
Salt & pepper to taste

Saute onion and garlic in oil. Add tomatoes, water, tomato paste, saffron, bay leaf and thyme. Cook until tomatoes are soft. Add fish and potatoes. Simmer until fish and potatoes are tender, 8 to 10 minutes over low heat. Season to taste. Makes 4 servings.

Calories per serving 246
Protein 24g
Carbohydrates 13g
Fat 4g
Sodium 232mcg (No salt added)

Written by PFAdmin

September 28th, 2015 at 3:03 pm