Cruciferous…. Dinosaur Vegetables?

Monday, April 25, 2016 at 08:17 AM

Cruciferous…. Sounds like a period of Earth’s timeline doesn’t it? Mesozoic, Cretaceous, Cruciferous… Or like a vegetable the T-Rex would eat…..Dinosaurs need fiber too! Okay, i digress… these vegetables are alive and well today and you can find them right down the street at your local grocery store!

  • Arugula
  • Broccoli
  • Bok Choy
  • Brussels Sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Cauliflower
  • Collard Greens
  • Horseradish
  • Kale
  • Radishes
  • Rutabaga
  • Turnips and greens
  • Watercress
  • Wasabi

This family is known for its health benefits pretty far and wide. Your mom always yelled at you to eat your broccoli right? Well, here’s why!

These vegetables are packed with all sorts of carotenoids (like beta carotene and lutein), vitamins and minerals (like folate, vitamin C and vitamin K especially) and being vegetables, they are of course a fantastic source of fiber! So what’s so great about all these nutrients you ask? Well for one, your body needs them to run efficiently and effectively. They also help to protect your eyes, protect against damage to your cells, as well as boost the immune system along with many other benefits. Fiber helps keep you feeling full so you don’t overeat and aids in regular digestion.

You also may be wondering what the cause is of the sometimes strong aroma and bitter taste?  Cruciferous vegetables have sulphur containing compounds in them called glucosinolates. These little guys are what cause that. But in my opinion it’s well worth it! When the glucosinolates are broken down by digestion they form active compounds called indoles, isothicyanates and several others. These even littler guys are what are thought to give the cruciferous vegetables their especially anti-cancerous properties! They are like tiny magic ninjas kicking butt on compounds and processes that want to turn your cells cancerous!

Okay so you’d love to eat more of these cruciferous vegetables but you can’t get past the taste. Am I correct? Submerging the vegetable in boiling water for about 2 minutes and then draining (a process called blanching) before cooking will usually do the trick. The heat releases some of the bitter compounds and draining the water lets them go down the drain instead of to your taste buds.  Give it a try and let us know if it works for you. Be aware though that some people are genetically predisposed to have more sensitive taste buds and experience these compounds much more strongly.

However, I would like to point out that eating a handful of broccoli a day is not going to allow you to eat fried food for every meal…. Sorry. Cruciferous vegetables still should be consumed as part of a well-balanced healthy lifestyle as most researchers believe this is where the best results occur. As often is the case with healthy compounds, they tend to bring healthy friends with them to the party, like the fiber, vitamins and minerals we talked about in the beginning. So give these misunderstood vegetable a second chance! Because broccoli and kale are so overdone, here are a few great ways to give kohlrabi a try!

Share on Social Media

Posted by: Stephanie Palmer No comments yet

Posted in: Cancer Control Month 2016

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Fight Cancer with Vitamin C!

Wednesday, April 20, 2016 at 07:47 AM

fruit salad (2)

“You’ve got a cold? Drink a glass of OJ and you’re good to go.” We’ve all heard this at one point in our lives, especially the colder months. Humans are one of the few species in the world that does not produce its own Vitamin C. This nutrient is essential for immune health, especially when it comes to preventing cancer. That’s why it’s SUPER important to seek out foods that are high in Vitamin C.

Our immediate go-to is citrus, and that’s a great place to start! You could go with a classic: the orange.

But you can also spread your sweet and sour horizons into blood orange, tangerines, clementines, and the sourest of them all, the grapefruit.  Lemons and limes are awesome too, so adding a splash of lime or lemon on your dishes (or a nice tall glass of lemonade – watch the sugar!) can be a simple way to grab a small amount of Vitamin C.

Another fruit that I love is one that I ate when I lived down in Puerto Rico – the guava. I was lucky enough to have a couple of guava trees in my backyard. This fruit is like a soft, sweet small apple, with hard seeds that you can eat but should watch out as they are a choking hazard. These fruits were my favorite part about living on a tropical island, and the best part is how nutritious they are!

Momma always told me that sweet potatoes are one of the most complete vegetables, so you bet they have Vitamin C! I’m a big fan of baked sweet potato fries, but a sweet potato mash with cinnamon is another healthy way (as long as you’re light on the butter and cream) to eat this root vegetable.

If you like spicy food, you’ll be happy to know that hot peppers have a high amount of Vitamin C in them. I personally love Asian soups, like Tom Yum and pho, and they both contain a level of heat, so I was excited to hear about how nutritious peppers are. Another way to integrate heat is in your favorite atypical salad, like this unique bean salad. Spice up your diet with a little Vitamin C!

As you can see there are plenty of everyday ways you can get the necessary amount of Vitamin C. And fighting cancer takes eating nutritiously and making sure you get enough of this nutrient. If you’re looking for some inspiration, check out those recipes and let us know what you think! How do you like to use Vitamin-C rich foods?

Share on Social Media

Posted by: Stephanie Palmer No comments yet

Posted in: Cancer Control Month 2016

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Almond Chocolate Chip Cookies

Friday, April 15, 2016 at 07:00 AM

Almond Chocolate Chip Cookies!

When I started looking for my second recipe to try for this column “Cooking with Catherine Katz”, I didn’t really know what I was looking for. Did I want another dinner? Maybe I should try breakfast? I was a lost puppy, looking for a home…. I then stumbled upon the dessert section, and wow! Did she have a lot to choose from…even for me! – Catherine does a great job of having food available for everyone to eat! – And I knew I at least had a direction! However, I knew I was going to have to travel for work, and am going through the struggles of trying to find a new roommate, so I needed something I could handle easily in my hectic life this month….. Enter: Almond Chocolate chip cookies! Only 4 ingredients and I can eat all of them! No Gluten, no dairy, no eggs….Are you kidding me!?!?!

So admittedly, as a baker myself…. I was skeptical! How do they stay together? Will they taste good? No leavening agent? MADNESS! (below is my skeptical face)


Here’s Catherine’s youtube video so you can see for yourself that I had no reason to doubt: it really IS that easy!!


Side Note: When i told Catherine I was planning to do this recipe, she told me that this recipe was the MOST popular recipe shared when she did the blog the first time around! Coincidence that i picked it too? I think not! The popularity speaks for itself.


So I proceeded to get all the ingredients…. This time at Market Basket, instead of Whole Foods… im not made of money! I bought the allergy friendly chocolate chips, but you can buy whatever brand of dark chocolate you like. Had I had more time I probably would have bought my favorite chocolate by Endangered Species (that also scores higher) and broke the bar up into shavings. Mmmmm! I also chose safflower oil over canola because canola bothers my stomach.


Here are their NuVal Scores:

  • Almond meal: 84 (same as a regular almonds)
  • Canola oil:   32  (Catherine gives safflower oil as an alternative for those who prefer it, but it scores lower because it has a lower omega 3 content)
  • Agave Syrup: 1 (its still sugar after all)
  • Chocolate chips: 8

Nutritionally, these cookies are a powerhouse! As they are mostly almond meal, you get all those naturally amazing benefits of the almonds. Almonds are full of healthy UNsaturated fats, fiber, and protein. These nutrients help you to feel full longer, so you dont overeat (and lets face it, this is essential with cookies!). As well as protecting your heart health, building muscle and fostering healthy weight. The canola oil is also packed with Omega 3 fatty acids!  Also, with just 6 Tbsp of agave syrup, these cookies have very little added sugar compared to typical commercially available AND homemade cookies. Agave syrup is naturally about 1.5 times sweeter than sugar, so you need LESS of it to have the same effect! (However for those that are sensitive to fructose, be careful, as agave syrup is about 50% fructose.) Cookies are still cookies though, so everything in moderation!

Okay, off I went! I put everything in my trusty lime green mixing bowl and set to work! A minute later I was done…The laboring baker in me thought I had done something incorrectly… was I missing anything? Nope. It really is THAT EASY to whip them up!

IMG_3713 IMG_3714 IMG_3715 IMG_3712IMG_3716IMG_3717


I will say though, that you SHOULD follow Catherine’s recommendation to use a little ice cream scooper (she shows you in her fun video clip). I don’t have one, so trying to work warm dough into balls wasn’t easy! But I overcame and here is the result! I also had to bake them for about 13 minutes in my 350 degree oven (not 8 mins) for them to brown. But I like my cookies really golden brown and every oven is different. As you can see from the before and after pictures below, the cookies dont change much in the oven, so the size you scoop out is the size they’ll be.

IMG_3718 IMG_3720


So, the verdict?? Delicious! But in a different way….  not in the traditional crunchy outside, chewy inside way your standard wheat flour based cookie is. I tend to like a crunchier on the outside cookie so they weren’t my personal favorite, but still very good! My roommate – who is not a dietitian or a health nut – thought they were great also! Her exact words “Actually, they’re really good!”.. haha! I then brought them to work to share with the group. My colleague Tara likened them to cookie dough balls you find in ice cream. I have to say i agree with this analogy. So if you’re someone that LOVES cookie dough, this is right up your alley (and you don’t have to worry about unpasteurized eggs!) They went over very well and they were super easy to make! Give them a try! I think you’ll like them too!



Share on Social Media

Posted by: Stephanie Palmer No comments yet

Posted in: Cooking with Catherine Katz

Share your story with us! and WIN!

Friday, April 8, 2016 at 02:00 PM

Do you have a NuVal story?? We would love to hear it! We are looking for people to share their experience using NuVal to put up on our website and we’d love to get yours. Share with us and be entered to win a NuVal prize pack! We’ll pick a winner on friday the 15th. You can share your story with us via our facebook, twitter or linked in accounts OR right here on the blog in the comments! We look forward to hearing from you!

Share on Social Media

Posted by: Stephanie Palmer No comments yet

Posted in: Announcements!

Allium Vegtables: Powerful flavor with powerful nutrition!

Wednesday, April 6, 2016 at 07:56 AM

Welcome to Cancer Control Month on A Better Bag of Groceries.  In the month of April we plan to focus on a variety of fruits and vegetables that may reduce your risk of developing cancer.  We will talk about what components of the fruit/vegetable that reduce your risk of developing cancer, how to incorporate it into your diet if not already there as well as uses of the fruit/vegetable.  The fruits and vegetables we will be discussing provide a concoction of vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants beneficial to your health.  Today we will be talking about the allium vegetables and garlic, the 13th berries, the 20th cruciferous vegetables and the 27th citrus fruits.  We hope by the end of this month you will feel more educated and empowered to take control of your health.

The allium family encompasses a variety of vegetables ranging from garlic to chives.  Garlic in particular has compounds consisting of flavonoids, selenium, arginine and oligosaccharides that have been shown in research to potentially improve health.  Several population studies have taken a look at the use of consuming garlic and the reduction of a wide range of cancers including pancreas, breast, colon, esophagus and stomach.  Although a number of these studies show a reduction of the risk of cancer, there are many study limitations that need to be taken into consideration.  For example, inaccurate reporting of the intake of garlic is one.  Another consideration is garlic may have been consumed with other ingredients beneficial to health, which questions whether the garlic reduces cancer or some combination of multiple ingredients is more favorable.

There are unfortunately some downsides and safety considerations to consuming too much garlic.  The obvious one is bad breath.  Garlic has also been shown to interact negatively with many prescription drugs, so check with your doctor before introducing the vegetable to your diet.

Garlic can be incorporated into your diet in many different ways.  It can be eaten raw or cooked.  It can be used in salad dressing, guacamole, salsa, mashed potatoes, you name it!  Check out this delicious recipe for garlic green beans from

Share on Social Media

Posted by: Stephanie Palmer No comments yet

Posted in: Cancer Control Month 2016

Tags: , , , , , , , ,