Healthier Alternatives

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By Martha Lee

So I’ve been on a “Deen Brothers in the Kitchen” kind of kick lately, and it’s got me all excited for fall, football, and eating right.  By eating right, I mean eating healthy foods – super foods, which all the Deens, including Mrs. Paula, cook with on a regular basis.

Even the Queen of Butter herself knows that most fruits and veggies have significant benefits to the human body (she just happens to add a boost of butter, I mean, flavor)!  Not only are some of them excellent for you and are considered super foods, but they are linked to keeping the mind and body looking and feeling younger and healthier (scroll to the bottom to see a list of super foods to try). 

Lately, I’ve been cooking up some Deen Brothers healthy goodens’.  I absolutely LOVED the extra hint of spice in the Kicked Up Eggplant Parmesan last week, and I’m boiling up their peanut recipe today for the games this weekend (found in Deen Bros magazine, Tailgating, Vol.1, Issue 3). My personal favorite was a mean chuck roast last night complete with succulent sweet potatoes and celery cooked down in the gravy.  It was a taste so sweet that let me know fall is in the air!
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The kitchen aroma of that wonderful chuck roast lingered all afternoon and into the evening, and our little one, the Littlest Lee, was quick to help right along in the cooking process and often peered through the glass into the oven as we waited.  The delightful smells of all of the wonderful flavors combined were hard to resist, so at least I thought. It wasn’t until during the meal that we got the biggest hoot out of our little “firecracker.”  She MEANT that she was not going to touch her plate unless it came from her Deddy across the table.  Same food on her tray, on my plate, and on her Deddy’s plate, yet she was determined and hard-headed enough to only eat off of his plate.  Silly girl. We’ve got our work cut out for us in the years ahead, and Deddy has a new date at the restaurant table. “She’s all yours,” I said with a smile!
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A few super foods worth raving about:  these foods are proven to boost your immune system and aid in longevity and beautiful skin. I’ll eat to that!

1. Dark, leafy vegetables – such as kale, collard greens, turnips, and Brussels sprouts. Like I’ve mentioned before, the darker the better.  Same goes for fruit. They are high in essential nutrients & antioxidants that help fight sickness and disease.  Antioxidants destroy free radicals that damage healthy cells and they also boost the immune system. Win, win!

2. Foods rich in Omega -3 Fatty Acids – nuts, seeds, soybeans, avocados, and wild-caught salmon pack a mean punch in this department, and these fatty acids are loaded with antioxidants.  Your largest external cell membrane gains the biggest boost in this department: your skin!

3. Oranges – loaded with Vitamin C, folate, and potassium, this fruit boosts energy without the unnecessary sugar and caffeine rush we’re all so used to.

4. Tomatoes – rich in lycopene which is a proven antioxidant that suppresses the growth of tumors and helps to lower blood pressure. It also packs a mean punch of fiber and vitamin C.

5. Sweet Potatoes – this oh-so-sweet veggie is packed with carbohydrates (which fill you up) and is high in the antioxidant beta-carotene which aids in vision and respiratory illnesses.

6. Legumes – beans are a great source of fiber, carbohydrates, and protein and can easily sit in as a healthy substitute for meat for those who dare give it a try!

7. Garlic and onions – These potent little guys have been found to prevent illness and kill viruses.

8. Yogurt – contains “active cultures,” calcium, and magnesium that aid in bone, digestive, and immune health.  Greek yogurt is a great source of protein too and is lower in sodium than the regular kind.

9. Blueberries – ranked number one in antioxidants by the USDA.  They contain 15 different antioxidants which are believed to boost memory and lower cholesterol. Raspberries, acai berries, and strawberries are also excellent sources. Go ahead. Eat up!

Just remember: getting more color on your dinner plate and filling half of it with fruits, veggies, or legumes can really make all the difference.  Processed foods full of preservatives are counterproductive to our health, so they should be avoided at all costs.  The best way to feed your health is to cook from scratch, and those Deens sure are an inspiration to me in the kitchen…even with a teeny tiny bit of butter on top!

***The Deen Bros. chuck roast and Eggplant Parm. recipes come from their second cookbook, Yall Come Eat.

Martha Lee and her husband began working for Paula Deen Enterprises in 2006 until Martha left to pursue a degree in Special Education. She takes a cue from her 1-year-old daughter, Naomi, leaving tiny footprints on the planet. Her blog shares practical, earth-conscious ways to live and parent in the 21st century. Born and raised in beautiful, soulful Macon, GA, Martha and her family now lives in Savannah, where she can be found outside hula-hooping and performing handstands daily.
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love the table paula would look good on my new patio. so glad you are back. I hope to get there to see you in person one day.i will start tomorrow to find the patern form the tablecloth.
Gladys Rainesl in Savannah Style: A Spring Table for Two on April 13, 2014 at 7:45 pm

I just want to say this I don't even know if is the right page all I ever wanted to say to Paula Deen welcome back I have missed you. You are my favorite home down girls keep your head up and hang on and feel the love. P.S. from a woman of color.
in Chicken Salad: A Southern Staple on April 13, 2014 at 2:55 pm

I just love love love the table and flowers and am so glad that I can still access all of Paula's recipes, her family life, Bobby's lighter versions and Brandon's beautiful work. Truly thankful to see such beautiful tablescapes. You guys are my heros.
Patricia in Savannah Style: A Spring Table for Two on April 13, 2014 at 9:14 am