Hi again…!


Hi again everyone! It’s been a while since we’ve last posted, so we decided to start to get back on track. First things first, a warm welcome to all of our new followers and an even warmer hello to our dedicated previous followers. Go Folic! Get Healthy is a nutritional project we have created here in San Francisco. We are all about YOU! Our primary focus is ensuring every female of child-bearing age gets the proper amount of folic acid (according to the NIH an average of 400mcg). Go Folic! Get Healthy is so committed to making sure every female in SF can get adequate folic acid we provide FREE VITAMINS!! Currently you can come to 30 Van Ness, suit 210 during business hours (Monday – Thursday, 1pm-4pm) and we will give you a free bottle of multivitamins.

Folic Acid Awareness Week is January 5, 2014- January 11, 2014 and during that week we will have so many great activities going on in the community, but most importantly that will be the start of your local community clinics distributing multivitamins. Way more convenient, right?!

WHAT IS IT REALLY? What is folic acid?? Folic acid is water-soluble B vitamin, which is important for women to get before, during, and after pregnancy. Folic Acid helps produce DNA and form healthy new cells. The process of creating new healthy cells is inevitably important to a developing fetus.

WHY? Why, you ask. 50% of all pregnancies are unplanned! WHAT THE FOLIC?? So all you women out there who are not planning on having a baby anytime soon and women who are…. Listen up…. Folic Acid is VERY important in helping reduce the number of babies born with neural tube defects. Neural tube defects are defects in the brain or spine of the developing fetus, which ultimately lead to various problems when the baby is born.

So now that we know why us ladies should take folic acid if we get pregnant, let’s talk about the other reasons we want to take folic acid. How many times have you looked in the mirror and wondered when is your hair finally going to grow out of the, not-so-hot-haircut-anymore? Well ladies, fortunately the answer has been right in front of us. Yes, you guessed correctly, the answer is folic acid. Folic acid has shown to increase the rate of hair and nail growth. And speaking from first hand experience here at Go Folic! Get Healthy, we have experienced it ourselves!

So let’s recap… to help prevent any neural tube defects from happening, as well as to expedite your hair & nail growth, a daily multivitamin with 400mcg of folic acid, as well as eating folate rich foods help reduce your chances (or grow longer hair)! You can find folate (the form of folic acid once it gets broken down in the body) in food such as dark green vegetables, beans, and fortified cereals. In addition, a few fruits such as, cantaloupe, honeydew melon, oranges and grapefruit juice also are rich in folate.

Well ladies and gent’s (those of you wise guys who want to ensure their girlfriend, wife, sister, cousin, etc. stay healthy) it’s been a pleasure… This is just the start of many more blogs to come. As we continue to blog we will get more in depth of the specifics of folic acid. If there are any specific questions on folic acid please comment and let us know. Also, if there are any topics in particular you want to know more about, we can also take request for blog topicsJ

Until next time, keep folicin’ San Francisco.

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Foodie Tuesday: Chicken Salad with Melon & Mango


chicken salad with melon and mangoWho knew that July was Mango & Melon Month? When we found out, we decided that our last recipe of the month had to be dedicated to these two fruits, both of which are in season right now and both of which are also high in folate!

Today’s recipe, adapted from a recipe that was originally published on Food.com, makes the perfect light summer dinner. It will not only keep you from using the stove, it is also guaranteed to help you re-hydrate after a day in the hot summer sun, as melons are full of water, as well as folate.  Be sure to save your mango peels for today’s bonus face mask! (Scroll to end of this post.)

For the Salad

  • 2 cups rotisserie chicken, skinned and shredded or cubed
  • 2 mangoes, peeled (peels saved), flesh cut off the seed, then diced
  • 1/2 small  honeydew, cubed or cut with a melon-baller
  • 1/2 small cantaloupe, cubed or cut with a melon-baller
  • 6 cups pre-washed sweet mixed lettuce greens

For the Vinaigrette

  • 1 small mango (peel saved), peeled seeded and roughly chopped
  • 2 tablespoons raspberry vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons fruity extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons white wine

Instructions

  1. Carefully toss chicken with cubed mango and melons.
  2. Puree all vinaigrette ingredients in a blender; pour over chicken and fruit.
  3. Divide salad greens between four plates; top with dressed chicken and fruit.

Prep Time: 15 Minutes
Cooking Time: 0 Minutes
4 Servings, 63 mcg Folate (16% RDA)

Bonus Face Mask! (Or What to Do with the Mango Peels)

We hope that you saved your peels!  In addition to being full of nutrition, mango contains alpha-hydroxy acids (AHA), known to be good for skin. While AHA is listed as a prime ingredient in many expensive skin cleansers and masks, you can save money and avoid harmful chemicals by making your own mask from mango peels. To find out how, check out this post from Starre Vartan, first published on the Eco-Chick website.

Resources

Foodie Tuesday – Orange Ginger Glazed Salmon


Orange Ginger Glazed Salmon with Bok ChoiI recently went on vacation to Seattle. And I visited the Chittenden Locks, which have ladder system in which salmon swim up stream up a ladder system. It was crazy to see so many salmon and salmon jump out of the water! More information about the salmon locks here. This trip inspired me to try a new salmon recipe.

6 filets of salmon, skin off
1 can of frozen concentrated orange juice, thawed
Zest of 1 orange
1 Tbsp grated fresh ginger (or to taste)
2 Tbsp chopped fresh dill (or to taste)
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and Pepper (to taste)
Directions:

Mix the orange juice with the other ingredients (excluding the salmon) in a container and place salmon filets in it, coating all sides. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight, turning the filets every now and then.
Place salmon filets on a sheet pan or in a pyrex dish and spoon some of the marinating juice on top (as much as you like).
Bake at 400 degrees (preheated oven) for 6 to 8 min or until salmon flakes nicely when a fork is inserted. It should be moist inside and not dry. Leave it a little longer if you prefer it a little more done.

This can be served with stir fry bok choy:

Ingredients
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
8 cups chopped fresh bok choy
2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
Salt and ground black pepper

Directions
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and ginger and cook 1 minute. Add bok choy and soy sauce cook 3 to 5 minutes, until greens are wilted and stalks are crisp-tender. Season, to taste, with salt and black pepper.

Folate: 109 mcg/27% RDA

Foodie Tuesday: Okra, Part 2: Roasted Okra with Creole Seasoning + Cooking Tips


We love these okra dishesAs we mentioned in our post, Okra: Part 1, okra seeds were probably first brought to America hidden in the hair of enslaved West Africans, who made it a central ingredient in many well-known Creole/Cajun dishes, such as Gumbo (we love this recipe for Seafood Slowcooker Gumbo from Black America Cooks).  The mucilage that helps okra thicken stews like gumbo is the ingredient that makes it so good for slowing absorption of sugars, and so healthful for people who are concerned about Type II Diabetes.  It’s also the ingredient that turns so many people off to the vegetable.  Why?  Because when okra isn’t cooked properly, this mucilage can turn any dish into a gloopy mess!

How to Cook Okra without the Slime!

The general rule is that the longer okra is cooked, the more mucilage it releases and the slimier it gets.  This is also true for okra that’s cut into pieces – the smaller the pieces, the more mucilage is released in cooking. So, when using cut okra, the following techniques are helpful for making sure you get all that slimy goodness inside your body, but little or no slime as your eat it:

  1. Cut it into larger pieces and add it towards the end of the cooking process;
  2. Cook the whole pod, as in this easy recipe for “bhindi” (the Indian word for Okra) from AllRecipes.com;
  3. Before adding other ingredients, cook your okra over medium heat in a small amount of oil, stirring constantly until the “slime” disappears, as in this ymmy and healthful recipe for Okra, Tomatoes and Shrimp from the “Real Soul Food Recipes” website.

Certain cooking techniques that are good for reducing the slime include:

  1. Deep-frying – try this healthier recipe for Oven Fried Okra from “Alley Cat in the Kitchen;”
  2. Picklingthis version by Molly53 on Soul.Food.com serves as a great spicy accompaniment to roasted meats;
  3. Roasting!  Our recipe below!

roasted okra with creole seasoningEasy Roasted Okra with Creole Seasoning

Today’s recipe, Easy Roasted Okra with Creole Seasoning, uses the spice mixture featured in our “Savory, Soulful Recipes” brochure, which you can download from our website.

Creole Seasoning

Mix the following together and store in an airtight container.  Use in place of seasoning salts:

    • 3 tablespoons onion powder
    • 4 tablespoons garlic powder
    • 1 tablespoon cayenne
    • 1 tablespoon chili powder
    • 1 tablespoon paprika
    • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
    • 2 teaspoons ground thyme.

Roasted Okra
4 servings, 166 mcg of folate (44% RDA) per serving

    • 4 cups fresh okra (not frozen)
    • 2 tablespoons olive oil
    • 1-2 tablespoons creole seasoning

Directions:

  1. Preheat an oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Place the okra in a bowl or plastic ziplock bag and toss with olive oil. Arrange the okra in one layer on a foil lined baking or cookie sheet. Sprinkle with the seasoning salt.
  3. Bake in preheated oven for 20 – 25 minutes until they turn brown and become crisp.  Enjoy!

Foodie Tuesday: Okra, Part 1 – History, Health and Beauty Benefits


Where Did Okra Come From?

this is an okra plantAmong the many vegetables that West Africans brought with them on the slave ships was okra, the seeds for which some historians believe people purposely hid in their hair.

The name for this vegetable, also known as “lady fingers” probably derives from the Niger-Congo group of languages. For instance, in the West African Twi language, okra is called nkuruma. In Louisiana, slaves taught Creoles how to use okra (called gombo in French) to thicken soups and the vegetable is an essential ingredient in the dish that is now called “gumbo.”

Okra is a vegetable with a long history. Historians believe that okra was cultivated in Ethiopia as far back as the 12th century B.C, making its way from there to West Africa. During the years of the Atlantic slave trade, it spread across the world. You’ll now see okra in African, Middle Eastern, Greek, Turkish, Indian, Caribbean, and South American cuisines.

Health Benefits

okra pods - the vegetable comes in both purple and green varietiesIn Japan’s Kowchi Prefecture, where farmers specialize in growing okra, residents credit their good health and beautiful smiles to the vegetable. And no wonder! One-half cup of this superfood contains 83.6 mcg of folate, or 22% of your daily requirement. It’s also high in a number of other B vitamins, as well as vitamin C and A, iron, and calcium. Okra’s high fiber content makes it useful for digestion.  In addition, mucilage and fiber found in okra helps adjust blood sugar by regulating its absorption in the small intestine, which makes it a great food for people who are concerned about Type II Diabetes.

Beauty Benefits

Cleopatra of Egypt and Yang Guifei of China, both of whom were considered beautiful women, loved to eat okra for its health and beauty benefits.  Okra can become “sticky” when cooked using certain techniques; it’s this slimy quality that makes it a good thickener in soups and stews. It also makes it a good setting lotion (see this recipe from Black Hair Media), final hair rinse, natural hair gel and lice eradicator. To make a natural okra-based conditioner:

  1.  Boil horizontally sliced okra till the brew become maximally slimy.
  2. Cool it and add a few drops of lemon or your favorite natural scent.
  3. Use this as your last hair rinse for body and softness.

Okra, Part 2 – Cooking Okra w/out the Slime

Tune in next Tuesday for information on how to cook okra, including a couple of really tasty recipes that use techniques that prevent it becoming “slimy.”

Soul Food History – Healthful Roots


african marketLast week, at the American Stroke Association’s Annual Conference in Hawaii, researchers presented a study that found that eating a “southern style diet” increased stroke risk by 41%.  Further, the study found that “eating a Southern diet accounted for 63 percent of the higher risk of stroke among African-Americans above that of their white counterparts.”  The researchers described a “Southern Diet” as consisting of foods such as fried chicken and fish, fried potatoes, bacon, and sweet tea – foods that are high in fat, salt and sugar.

But is the diet that the researchers describe representative of “Soul Food?” Or were the researchers making up their own definition, while ignoring the healthful aspects of Soul Food, which has its roots in West African cuisine? The answer might surprise you!

The Healthful Roots of Southern Cooking and Soul Food

The same study found, “Those whose diets were highest in fruits, vegetables, legumes and whole grains (eaten about five times a week) had a 29 percent lower stroke risk than those whose diets were the lowest in these foods (eaten about three times a week).” Soul food, and by extension southern cooking, is based on the diet that West Africans brought with them to this country on the slave ships.

In his book,  Hog and Hominy: Soul Food from Africa to America, Frederick Douglass Opie,  a professor of history at Marist College, states that the traditional West African diet was predominantly vegetarian, centered on things like millet, rice, field peas, okra, hot peppers, and yams. Meat was used sparingly, as a seasoning. (Click here to read more about the West African roots of soul food on Oprah.com.)

In other words, the West African diet was healthy.  Not only that, but the West Africans carried their passion for healthy food with them when they were forcefully brought here on  slave ships.  Many of these individuals not only cooked for themselves, but for their white masters, incorporating their rich culinary traditions into what would eventually become Soul Food.

In our own “Savory Soulful Recipes” brochure (click here to download), we feature a host of healthy, folate full recipes.

Throughout the next two weeks, our posts will celebrate African American contributions to health and healthful food.  We’ll start next week with two columns on an African vegetable that is full of fiber and folate.  Hints: 1) A famous southern stew is named after it; 2) it’s said to resemble a “lady’s finger.”

If you haven’t guessed, tune in on Monday to learn more!

Going Folic in 2013 – An Easy New Year’s Resolution to Keep!


Going Folic! in 2013 Cereal or Vitamins, it's an easy New Year's resolution to keep!

How many New Year’s resolutions have you made over the years? How many of these resolutions have you kept?  According to USA.gov, the top 10 most popular resolutions are (not in any particular order): drink less alcohol, get a better education, get a better job, get fit, lose weight, manage debt, manage stress, quit smoking, recycle more, save money, take a trip, volunteer. With the exception of losing weight (read an alternative view here)

Go Folic! staff members like, and have made, many of the above resolutions over the years – volunteering, taking a trip, quitting smoking, recycling more. That said, we know that while New Year’s resolutions are easy to make, they can be less easy to maintain.

We have one resolution that can be easy to keep- Go Folic! for 2013!

Going folic means getting the recommended daily requirement for folic acid – 400 mcg.  Doing so is easy!  Just take a daily multi-vitamin with the recommended amount.  We recommend a multi-vitamin instead of a folic acid supplement because this B-vitamin needs other B-vitamins to do it’s work (visit our folic facts web page to learn why folic acid is so important).

where are the october multis??But vitamins can be expensive…

If you are a woman between the ages of 14 – 54, and live in San Francisco, you can get free Go Folic! multis that contain the recommended RDA for all vitamins, including vitamins K and D.  Visit our website to find out how.

What if I don’t like taking pills?

Cereals that contain 100% (400 mcg) of the RDA for folic acidIt’s still easy!  Eat a bowl of fortified cereal with the recommended amount everyday (cereal doesn’t have to be just a breakfast food). The graphic at right shows some of the cereals that contain 100% of the RDA for folic acid (click the image to enlarge it).  Click here to get a more complete list of cereals from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  Note: while we have included sugary cereals in our graphic, we recommend eating the whole grain variety!

Why not get all I need from folate-rich foods?

Which is better?  Foods or vitamins?At Go Folic! we are all about “turbo-charging” your diet with folate-rich foods.  However, the truth is that it’s difficult to get enough folic acid from food alone, even if your diet is healthful.  This is because your body only absorbs 50% of the folate (the form of folic acid found in food) you get from food, 85% of the folic acid in fortified grains and cereal, and 100% of the folic acid contained in a multi-vitamin.  Read this special health report from the Harvard Medical School on why it’s important to back up a healthy diet with a daily multi-vitamin.

Does my multi-vitamin or favorite cereal contain folic acid?

This is easy to determine, too.  Read the label – it should tell you exactly how much folic acid your multi-vitamin or favorite cereal contain.  Again, you want a multi-vitamin or cereal that contains at least 400 mcg of folate.

How to tell if your cereal or multivitamin contains the recommended amount of folic acid

We hope that we convinced you…

… to Go Folic! in 2013.  It’s one easy step you can take for a healthier, and more beautiful you!  Should you decide to start or expand your family, it is also one step towards a healthier tomorrow.