A foodie's quest to turn up the heat through strength and conditioning with whole food and a hungry mind.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Arugula: Change With the Season

Great on top of pizza.  Add it right after pulling the pizza out of the oven.
Hector, our pet ornate box turtle, is waking from his multi-month slumber (hibernation) and will be ready to eat soon.  Turtles, along with most other wild animals, eat what's in season because that is what's available.  As humans, we would do good to follow the same principles, as I have mentioned in previous posts.  Something I will be feeding Hector as well as myself is Arugula.  Arugula is in season during the Spring and Fall months and is a delicious addition to salads or to make as a pesto.

Feeding this peppery green to Hector is essential after going months without food.  He, and all of us humans too, can benefit from the nutrients provided in Arugula.  Arugula goes by other names such as Gharghir (Middle East), rocket or rocket salad (Britain), roquette (France), rucola or rugola (Italy). 

Somebody's ready for food!!
Here's a list of benefits you may get from consuming this popular green:

• Like other greens, arugula is very low in calories. 100 g of fresh leaves provides just 25 calories. Nonetheless it has many vital phytochemicals, anti-oxidants, vitamins, and minerals.

• Rocket salad is rich source of certain phytochemicals such as indoles, thiocyanates, sulforaphane and iso­thiocyanates. Together they have been found to counter carcinogenic effects of estrogen and thus help benefit against prostate, breast, cervical, colon, ovarian cancers by virtue of their cancer cell growth inhibition, cytotoxic effects on cancer cells.

• In addition, di-indolyl-methane (DIM), a lipid soluble metabolite of indole has immune modulator, anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties ( by potentiating Interferon-Gamma receptors and production). DIM has currently been found application in the treatment of recurring respiratory papillomatosis caused by the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) and is in Phase III clinical trials for cervical dysplasia.

• A good source of folates. When given around conception period it helps prevent neural tube defects in the newborns.

• Like kale, arugula is an excellent source of vitamin A and beta carotenes. Beta carotenes converts into vitamin A in the body. Studies found that vitamin A and flavonoid compounds in in green leafy vegetables help protect from skin, lung and oral cavity cancers.

• It’s rich in B-complex group of vitamins such as thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B-6 (pyridoxine), and pantothenic acid those are essential for optimum cellular enzymatic and metabolic functions.

• Fresh rocket leaves contain good levels of vitamin C. Vitamin C is a powerful, natural anti-oxidant. Foods rich in vitamin C helps body protect from scurvy disease; boosts immunity and scavenge harmful, pro-inflammatory free radicals from the body.

• Arugula is one of the excellent vegetable sources for vitamin-K; 100 g provides about 90% of recommended intake. Vitamin K supports bone health by promoting osteotrophic (bone formation and strengthening) activity. Adequate vitamin-K levels in the diet helps limiting neuronal damage in the brain; thus, has established role in the treatment of patients suffering from Alzheimer's disease.

• Arugula is good in minerals especially copper and iron. In addition it has small amounts of some other essential minerals and electrolytes such as calcium, iron, potassium, manganese and phosphorus.

It is best to consume in its raw form as it will lose some of its vitamins and minerals, but not all.  I love keeping it simple by making a salad with arugula, goat cheese, walnuts, and beets.
Here's a recipe I use found at this link:
Salad Ingredients:

Beets - (boiled until a fork easily goes in it, about an hour), peeled, sliced into strips - or canned
Fresh arugula - rinsed, patted dry with a paper towel
Goat cheese - chevre
Walnuts - chopped

Dressing ingredients:

Olive oil
Dry powdered mustard
Salt and pepper

The amount of ingredients depends on how many people you are serving and how much salad you intend to serve them. The important thing is that this is a good blend of flavors. I didn't try tossing this salad; each plate was composed individually.
The dressing for three individual salads was 1/4 cup of olive oil, 1/2 lemon, 1/4 teaspoon of powdered mustard, 3/4 teaspoon of sugar, salt and pepper to taste. Actually, it is all to taste. These are only approximate measurements.
Assemble the salad according to how much you want. A handful of arugula leaves, a few beet juliennes, some crumbled goat cheese, garnish with chopped walnuts. Use a vinaigrette salad dressing or what I've described above.

For more ideas, visit this site for flavorful combinations!

Hope you enjoy the changing weather and incorporate some new, in-season, foods in your diet.  I know Hector will have a nice variety as he eats what I eat......except for the bugs, he can have all of those.

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