Don’t Sleep on Celery

Hey friends,

I hope that you’re well. I wanted to pop in to share a short post on one of my new found food friends – celery. In my house growing up, celery was used to make dressing for Thanksgiving and it was a must have in chicken soup and chicken salad. So basically, it was a sidekick just used for it’s flavor. But these days, I’m giving celery the shine it deserves.

As I’ve learned more about food, I have learned that celery is a very underrated healthy food. It is a good snack, but it also makes good juice. Here are some of the benefits I’ve found.

Celery is an anti-inflammatory food.

Because so much of what most people eat is highly inflammatory (wheat, sugar, dairy, meat), it is so important to find foods that fight inflammation. Although I try very hard to stay away from inflammatory foods, there are times when I eat them. All I can do after that is try to eat things that will fight those effects. My go-to foods are turmeric, nuts and celery. These foods keep me feeling good and ultra healthy.

Celery has a mild flavor and can easily be masked.

Every family has at least one person who grapples with taste when it comes to transitioning to a healthier lifestyle. In my family, that person is my husband. He can smell kale, wheat grass and any sort of vitamin from a mile away. When I’m drinking veggie juice, he is hiding on the other side of our apartment hoping I don’t say “baby, give this juice a try.” Well, with celery juice, I have a bit of an advantage when it comes to getting him to drink it. If I juice pineapple, orange or lemon with it, he may never even know that he is drinking celery juice. So if you’re constantly looking for ways to add more healthy foods into diets of picky eaters in your life, celery is a great way to do that.

Celery is great at cleansing the liver.

The liver is such a hard-working organ. It has over 500 tasks and is the second largest organ in the body. Some of its essential tasks include creating bile (which helps with the breakdown and absorption of fat and cholesterol), supporting blood clots, vitamin and mineral storage, etc. And when alcohol is consumed, it works double duty by filtering it out of the bloodstream. Overall, each of us needs the liver to be in good working condition. Celery is full of vitamins and minerals that can protect the liver and flush out harmful toxins.

Celery has a benefit for every part of the body.

With so many different vitamins and minerals, celery can do something awesome for every part of the body. Celery can help relieve headaches and menstrual cramps, urinary tract infections, improve sleep, encourage healthy bowel movements, help relieve gout and arthritis pain, reduce breast milk production, reduce blood pressure, increase libido, boost heart health, aid in weight loss, improve digestion, fight cancer and more. There is really no reason to not eat celery in some way, shape or form.

So when you head out to grocery shop this week, make sure to include a bunch of celery.  It’s a food that we can all use more of in our diet.

Thanks for reading,

Brittany

4 Plant-Based Bloggers of Color You Should Be Following

 

Hello friends,

I hope that you are well. February is a very special month for me because it is Black History Month. Even as a young girl, I always enjoyed learning about the history of my people and our experience here in the United States. One of my favorite aspects of the experience to learn about has always been nutrition & cooking.

It’s no secret that food is an important aspect of culture, and food has played a big role in the lives of African-Americans from the time we reached this country to present. What I have always loved learning was how plant-based African-Americans had been for generations. During the least fortunate points in our history here, we were given the worst scraps of food along with the plants we grew. The beauty in who we are is that we were able to make what was supposed to be unusable taste great and continue to live on for another day.  And when we were no longer in that situation, we relied on plants because fruits and vegetables were more affordable & sustainable for people that grew their own food. I always remember my mom’s stories of how her parents always kept a large garden, with her father’s watermelons being her favorite plant that it yielded. Over the last century, so many things have changed regarding how active we are & how we get our food. Grocery stores, fewer farms, bigger cities, sedentary jobs, convenience foods, food deserts, and fast food restaurants concentrated in Black & Brown neighborhoods have all had their impact. Unfortunately for African-Americans, this has shown up in higher instances of heart disease, diabetes & high blood pressure than other groups, just to name a few. However, I am excited to see that there are many people who look like me who are (and have been for a while) embracing the plant-based lifestyle, taking our health back and getting back to our roots. I have decided to highlight a few of these bloggers, who in my opinion, have some of the best tasting plant-based recipes in the African-American community.

Jenné from Sweet Potato Soul

I’m a believer in the saying that there is a whole lot in a name. With a website name like Sweet Potato Soul, you already know the food is going to taste as good as a warm hug feels. I found Jenné’s videos on YouTube when I became serious about really trying to eat more plant-based. Because she’s from the Peach State (like me), I already knew that flavor would not be lacking in her food. I was right! In my experience, her recipes have been creative, colorful and very nutrient-dense. I also love that Jenné teams up with other food vloggers on YouTube to do videos, and also shares more of her perspective on podcasts as well. I’ve enjoyed learning about her journey to veganism and how she aims to extend her consciousness about her food into other areas such as her clothing. On Sweet Potato Soul, you will find great advice, incredible resources and plant-filled recipes that are cost-effective, flavorful and filled with so much soul. You can find Sweet Potato Soul on the website, YouTube, Instagram & more. Oh yeah, her cookbook goes live today. Check it out!

Eva from Wild Sunflower Chef

Who doesn’t love sunflowers? They’re one of my favorite flowers. In a similar vein, Eva from Wild Sunflower Chef has quickly become one of my favorite vegan/vegetarian food bloggers this year. I found Wild Sunflower Chef on Twitter, when I noticed the beautiful pictures that captured food that looked absolutely divine. I haven’t been following her journey long enough to know the whole back story, but Eva has shared pictures of her before and after switching to a more plant-based lifestyle. Before making the switch, she was overweight and definitely didn’t look her healthiest or happiest. I’m glad to know that she’s decided to share what worked in her journey to happier days with all of us. On Wild Sunflower Chef, you will find love-filled recipes that are much healthier than your Grandma ever made them. You’ll also “veganized” versions of convenience foods, such as the Vegan Big Mac & Korean Fried Cauliflower Wings on Skewers. My personal favorite is her Creamy Vegan Chicken Noodle Soup recipe. It’s perfect for cold winter nights. Feel free to find Wild Sunflower Chef on her website, Instagram & Twitter. Also, her cookbook is available on her website. Get into it!

Jada from Nourishing Your Temple

Nourishing Your Temple is more than a food blog – it’s a life blog. I found Jada’s website through following her on Instagram a couple years back. I was inspired by her Christ-centered posts, her love for her family, as well as her love of healthy food. So when she started her blog, I knew that it would be something special. On the blog, Jada shares her story of discovering a plant-based lifestyle and how it in conjunction with her faith have changed her life for the better. What I like most about the recipes on Nourishing Your Temple is that there is something good for everyone. Do you love sandwiches? Smoothies? Salads? Breakfast? Hot meals? Cold meals? They are all there. I also like that Jada cooks with her husband in mind and shares his feedback about his switch to a plant-based diet. She uses incredibly healthy ingredients and shares hacks like how to make your own plant-based protein powder. I have also enjoyed her posts where she brings in other plant-based chefs & cooks to share their recipes. If you follow her on Instagram, you can also see some of her grocery store hauls, where she breaks down how she plans to use her ingredients. I would encourage you to check out her blog yourself, and find new ways to maintain your blessing of a body. You can find Jada’s recipes at Nourishing Your Temple.

Kim at TheChicNatural

Kim at TheChicNatural is like your super dope, down-to-earth homegirl who does some of everything. From keeping her hair looking flawless to styling outfits and from studying abroad to cooking delicious food…she’s truly a Renaissance woman. I found Kim on YouTube a couple years ago. After a few hair tutorials, one of her cooking videos came on and I found out that she was vegan!  I was excited because I knew that she would have some great recipes to share. What I love about Kim’s recipes is that they’re never too complicated. She makes food that tastes and looks good, and she’s always sharing what she’s eating whether at home or out & about. On her YouTube channel, you will find videos of what she eats in a day, what she buys at the grocery store & even collaborations between other vegan vloggers. Kim makes vegan cooking easy for us all and I’ve enjoyed every recipe of hers that I have made. Be sure to check Kim out on YouTube, TheChicisNatural website, Facebook and Instagram.

I hope that you enjoyed reading about all of the amazing food and information that these ladies have to offer. Please, go to their websites, try out their recipes and support their projects. If you have other suggestions of great plant-based/vegan bloggers of color, please let me know in the Comments section. I’m always looking for new ones to follow!

In pursuit of greener eats,

Brittany

Note: All photos in this blog post belong to the aforementioned blogger’s websites. I do not own these photographs and have shared them in an effort to show the types of recipes one can find when visiting their sites.

Real Food, Less Fake: Purple Sweet Potatoes

Today, I’m highlighting a really wonderful food that can be added to your diet today. The food that I’m talking about is none of other than the sweet potato, but more specifically, yellow-fleshed and purple-fleshed varieties.

The first time I came in contact with a yellow-fleshed sweet potato (also known as a Japanese sweet potato) was around 5 years ago when I was in college. I visited a multicultural church with some friends and their potluck-style lunch after church included all kinds of foods from around the world. Growing up in a church that spans 6 continents meant that I was really never nervous about trying new foods in this setting, but this sweet potato that was yellow on the inside really threw me off. When I tasted it, I was completely blown away. How could something this good exist and no one had ever told me? It was so delicious that I had another helping.

My first time having a purple-fleshed sweet potato was just a couple years ago. My local Sprouts Farmer’s Market introduced them and I was so intrigued because of the experience I had with the Japanese sweet potato a few years before. When I took it home and baked it, I added just a tiny bit of butter and enjoyed it plain. It was so filling and beautiful that I knew it had to be added to my list of foods to buy on a regular basis. 

Benefits of Sweet Potatoes

In general, potatoes are one of the most satiating foods that exist in any category. According to the study, The Satiety Index of Common Foods,  potatoes outperform all other foods when it comes to how full they make people feel. If you have ever eaten a potato, you know how filling they are. Many people are afraid of eating potatoes because they are considered carbohydrates (which many people still fear), but they are also plants, meaning that they are inherently much healthier than any “foods” we can create or process. They are a great asset to a plant-based diet, especially for those on a budget.

Sweet potatoes are also full of many vitamins and minerals. Just one cup of baked sweet potato can contain a week’s worth of Vitamin A and around half of your daily value of Vitamin C and manganese. It can also contains a quarter of your daily value of dietary fiber and potassium, and just under one-fifth of the copper.

And lastly, Japanese sweet potatoes are one of the primary foods in the diet of some of the longest-living people in the world. In 2005, Okinawa, Japan (along with the Seventh-day Adventist population of Loma Linda, California, the male centenarians of Sardinia, Italy and the elders of Nicoya, Costa Rica and Ikaria, Greece) was identified as a Blue Zone. According to Dan Buettner, Blue Zones are essentially the areas around the world where people live the longest. The people of Okinawa, Japan have a very unique way of living that contributes to their long lives and their diet is one of the factors that makes them incredibly unique. For starters, they eat a 96% whole food, plant-based diet. I don’t know about you, but as someone who adds kale into EVERYTHING (smoothies, spaghetti, juice, muffins, etc.) as I fight to get enough veggies in each day, I am highly impressed by that number. Around 69% of their diet consists of purple and orange sweet potato. In whole, they eat a diet of sweet potatoes, beans, different varieties of soy including tofu and miso, as well as stir-fried vegetables. Pork and fish (around 1% of their diet) are eaten sparingly, with the aforementioned foods making up their daily diet. They also incorporate many medicinal herbs such as mugwort, ginger and turmeric on the daily basis for their healing properties.

According to BlueZones.com, Okinawans who follow the traditional diet have much better health outcomes than Americans. They are 5.5 times less likely to die from breast cancer, have 6-12 times fewer heart disease deaths, 7 times fewer prostate cancer deaths and 2-3 times fewer colon cancer deaths. The elderly population there also experiences much lower instances of dementia than people in most places. If adding more of their plant-based staples can help improve our numbers this way, it is definitely worth consideration.

Recipe Suggestion

My absolute favorite way to eat purple sweet potato is to make sweet potato salad. Potato salad was a staple in my family growing up. My mom & aunts always added russet potatoes, boiled eggs, mayonnaise, relish, celery salt and a variety of spices to make this mouth-watering side dish. Now that I try to eat more a plant-based diet, I wanted a more nutrient-dense version of this food that I love. When I went searching, I knew that Jeneé from the website SweetPotatoSoul.com would have something good. She, too, is a Georgia peach and knows how important potato salad is to a Southern dinner table. She added a new twist on this recipe that I absolutely love. In her recipe, Jeneé uses vegan mayonnaise, white AND orange sweet potatoes as well as all the right seasonings & spices. I decided to make this at home a few months back, but I added a purple-fleshed sweet potato to the mix. At first, my husband turned his nose up a my tri-color sweet potato salad. He didn’t think it looked too appetizing, but after one bite, he took the bowl from my hands and smiled. This is when I know that my food is really good. We ate the entire bowl in three days (so much for a week long meal prep!) and it was undoubtedly the item I was most excited to eat in my lunch. I encourage you to give her recipe a try and add some purple sweet potatoes in, too. You won’t regret it.

If you decide to have purple sweet potatoes for the first time, please tell me how you liked them. If you have eaten them before, I would love to hear about how you serve them. And if you have any questions, please leave them below in the Comments section. I’d love to keep our dialogue going. As always, thanks for reading.

In pursuit of greener foods,

Brittany

Websites & Articles:

Blue Zone Exploration: Okinawa, Japan

Okinawa Centenarian Study

Self NutritionData: Sweet Potato

Study: A satiety index of common foods

Sweet Potato Salad (vegan)

The Okinawa Diet: Eating & Living to 100

Why I Am Blogging Again…

Hello friends,

I hope that you are doing well and are having a prosperous new year thus far. I had big hopes for 2018 and I must say that the year has gotten off to a great start for me. In this blog post, I want to share why I’m blogging again after a long hiatus.

This year makes 6 years that I have been in the blogging space. I ventured into blogging back in 2012 as a way to share my spiritual journey, as well as the information and resources that were shared with me with the world. Blogging has helped me to make friends & acquaintances in other countries, learn from others, and from what readers have shared, bless people that I will never meet.

Over the last couple years, I have struggled to find balance between blogging, working & being in a relationship. This was when teaching, getting to know my now husband and settling into a new area were really my focus. I simply didn’t make much time for writing. Now that my life is a bit more settled, I am back because I feel that blogging regularly will be good practice in building consistency. One of my best friends, who I’ll call “A,” continually reminds me that all of my health & fitness goals are on the other side of consistency. I believe that she is right.

However, consistency isn’t the only reason I am blogging again. I am back because I believe that I have interests that others might share. In the past few years, the  words “healthy,” “green” and “sustainable” have all come to mean a whole lot more to me. I am committed to taking care of myself, inspiring those around me to take care of themselves and caring for the planet that we inhabit. There are so many people who do not have much knowledge in these areas and I hope to be able to share what I have learned through this blog.

And lastly, I am blogging because I believe that it is a great way to allow those that I don’t get to talk to regularly get to know me better. I am a deep thinker but also an over thinker who tends to be very introverted. I am in my own head a lot and I have discovered that this is both good and bad. I want to share more of who I truly am with those around me.

So what can you expect me to talk about here on The Green Pursuit? I plan to build this blog around 5 different domains that I think truly encompass what it means to be healthy, sustainable and green. The 5 domains are food, green living, health, service and faith. When I dive into green living, for example, I’ll be discussing non-toxic product swaps, minimalism, zero-waste swaps, thrifting and how to lighten one’s ecological footprint. And of course there is much more to share.

I am excited to see where this blog goes and the people it connects me to. If you are interested in the topics I shared, please don’t hesitate to follow my blog. I plan to share new content here weekly and I hope that you’ll tune in.

In pursuit of all things green,

Brittany