I have a story in today’s paper about the power of superfoods and how long-term dietary changes are probably better for us than the “cleanses” that are so trendy right now. I did a cleanse last year and it was no fun at all. This year, I’m going to try and incorporate some of the superfoods into my diet over the long term. Training for my fourth half-marathon begins next week; with that on the horizon eating right and continuing my yoga practice seem more important than ever. I’m also upping my tea intake.

Above is a photo I snapped while making a recipe from one of the cookbooks I mention in the story. For the curious, the recipe is below, as is a list of superfoods and some of the benefits of teas and herbs. Are you starting the new year with some superfoods?

Cleansing Vegetable Broth
This powerful cleansing recipe not only cleans toxins from the body but also replenishes minerals in the body with its rich content of potassium and magnesium. It originates from India and is attributed to an Ayurvedic doctor. These leafy greens are also full of vitamin C, higher in beta-carotene than carrots and richer in iron and calcium than spinach.

Serves 8-10
1 bunch Swiss chard, chopped
1 bunch kale, chopped
1 bunch mustard greens, chopped
½ head white cabbage, chopped
1 bunch dandelion greens, chopped
1 cup Brussels sprouts, chopped
1 large daikon radish, diced
1 bunch watercress, chopped
4 ounces kombu or wakeme seaweed
6 dried shiitake mushrooms
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 leeks, sliced
1 fennel bulb, chopped
1 4-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
1 teaspoon ground star anise
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 bunch fresh parsley, chopped
1 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped
Chicken stock, as needed, optional
Red chili flakes, optional

Put all of the ingredients into a large stockpot and fill it with enough water to cover vegetables but at least 2 inches below the rim of pot. Set the pot over medium-high heat and bring to a boil; reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for one hour.
Using a mesh strainer, remove the vegetables and set aside. Continue cooking the broth for an additional 15 minutes to strengthen the flavor and reduce slightly.
Let the broth cool completely in the pot before transferring to glass jars. Store in the refrigerator for up to one week, or freeze in airtight plastic containers for up to one month.
Reheat before serving. For cleansing and detoxification, consume 3 cups per day.
Note: If you want to use the cooked vegetables, working in batches, puree them in a food processor or blender with just enough chicken stock to liqueify them and then transfer the puree to a saucepan. Heat over medium-low heat until warmed; ladle into bowls and garnish with chili flakes. Serve immediately.

Recipe courtesy “Dr. Mao’s Secrets of Longevity Cookbook,” by Dr. Mao Shing Ni

A partial list of “superfoods,” along with some of their benefits:

» Avocados, which are high in vitamin C, thiamine and riboflavin.
» Beans, which contain B vitamins, calcium and potassium. They also contain folate, which helps maintain a healthy brain.
» Berries, including strawberries, blueberries, blackberries and raspberries, which are full of antioxidants that scientists believe help prevent and repair the stress that comes from oxidation, a natural process that occurs during normal cell function.
» Dairy-free chocolate, in moderate amounts, which elevates mood, lowers blood pressure and improves blood flow. Make sure the dark chocolate is at least 70 percent cacao.
» Cruciferous vegetables, which are high in fiber, vitamins and minerals and include broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, chard, kale, mustard greens, rutabagas and turnips.
» Spinach, a rich source of iron that has vitamins A and C.
» Walnuts, which have a large dose of omega 3 acids and the gamma-tocopherol form of vitamin E that’s good for the heart.

Beneficial herbs and tea

Lemongrass works as an antifungal and antibacterial agent, as well as a diuretic and fever reducer. It also can settle upset stomachs and ease digestive problems.
Cinnamon has been used as medicine throughout the world and can be used to fight colds and relieve indigestion and cramps.
Rose contains many essential vitamins and can be used to detoxify kidneys. It is high in vitamin C and can calm the nerves.
Lavender can be used to treat insomnia and restlessness.
Jasmine tea can reduce the effects of free radicals and can be calming.
Mint is known to soothe the stomach and peppermint helps stimulate digestion.
Source: the Tea Smith

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