I’ve got interesting news for you … you can supercharge your food for FREE.
A while back I wrote a post called Pimp your Food.
The information came from a book review I had read. I said I wanted to get that book. Well, guess what? I did, last Friday. And ever since, I have been reading, underlining and learning.
It’s not often I get really excited about food books. Sure, new recipes and cookbooks are fun. But this one is so different. First, it’s not just a recipe book. Nor is it a normal run of the mill food book. It’s full of fascinating evidence based research. Sciency stuff made understandable for the likes of me, a non-sciency, non-rational, illogical woman – according to TRH, The Retired Husband who is left brained. Us creative types tap into the right side of the brain. Way more interesting viewing the world from there!
Just on a side note, when we got home from visiting one of the few bookshops still left in this city, TRH was somewhat sceptical about my new book. But guess what? Last night I caught him (sheepishly) having a peek at it. Even conceding there were some interesting sounding recipes in it. That’s after I had served him a delicious dinner based on some of the stuff I had learnt in my learnings while reading the book. Not a recipe. Well, my own ‘recipe’. You know – the kind that can’t be replicated ‘cos it’s based on what’s in the fridge and in my head at the time of concocting something to eat.
The conversation after dinner went something like this –
Me: Do you like it?
TRH: Hmmm? Yeah…
Me: I think it’s yummy
TRH: It’s OK
Some hours later
TRH: That dinner was paleo
Me: Sort of, a little bit
TRH: It was tasty.
Me quietly in my head – well now, that’s a turnaround! (If you want the recipe you have to read this to the very end 🙂 )
But I digress. I promised to share some of my learnings (from this and other sources) with you. So here goes…Wait! Before I do that, just so’s you know, I’m not going to re-hash stuff that’s in that pimp post. In there you’ll find out about tomatoes, potatoes, apples, mushrooms…
Some truth busting truths. Some of this may be surprising or contrary to everything we have been led to believe.
◊ there are many kinds of research. Some are outright dodgy. Some are funded by self interested groups raising concerns about conflict of interest. Popular media reporting sometimes skews the results by leaving out or misrepresenting important information. And sometimes, surprise surprise, they do not report inconvenient truths. The lesson in this? Be discerning. Don’t believe everything you see or read in the media. Look for the evidence.
◊ some processed foods contain far less sugar, calories and fats than the home cooked variety. Processing methods such as pressure-steaming retain higher levels of certain vitamins such as the B group. Snap freezing at point of harvest retains higher nutrition levels than supermarket stored fruit and vegetables that could be as much as 12 months old. Or those forgotten, sad unfortunate individuals in the back of the vegetable crisper.The lesson in this? Some processed foods are nutritious AND convenient. Read the labels.
◊ just because something is labeled ‘organic’ does not mean it is, or that it is necessarily better. Current evidence is contradictory and standards are not consistent enough to always ensure genuine organic product. The lesson in this? Just because it says it’s organic (and costs a lot) does not mean that it is.
◊ local and in season is not necessarily any better nutritionally. The lesson in this? It may not be worth the time or energy to go out of your way to find local, seasonal produce.
◊ carbs are being blamed for everything from soaring obesity rates to chronic health conditions. Really? Sedentary lifestyle, fast food, processed sugars are just some of the many culprits. Evidence shows that carbs are an essential and important part of our diet – up to half of it in fact. The lesson in this? Complex carbohydrates are an essential and nutritious part of a balanced diet.
◊ leafy greens, red and purple pigments in fruit and vegetables yield the highest levels of nutrients, especially various kinds of antioxidants, polyphenols and anthocyanines. But they need a bit of help to become bioavailable. Fat soluble vitamins (eg A,D,E,K) need – fat. And some other nutrients (like iron) could do with a bit of a boost too. So whip up a salad dressing of olive oil, lemon juice, add some crunchy nuts and avocado. It becomes a whole different story. And remember that the red/green beetroot leaves are edible.Don’t chuck them out or feed them to the chooks. The lesson in this? Go for purples and reds if you can. Find out how to supercharge them. There are differences in how to do this, depending on what it is.
◊ size matters. Baby spinach, beets and chard leaves have more polyphenols than more mature ones. However, kale, cabbage and pak choi accumulate nutrients as they grow. The goodies in spinach become more bioavailable when it is cooked. Same for carrots. The lesson in this? Buy the most nutritious sizes and know how to get the best out of them.
◊ storage matters. Broccoli, for example, starts deteriorating as soon as it’s picked. Who knows how old supermarket broccoli is! It could potentially have lost most of its nutritional value by the time you buy it. So buy as fresh as you can and then keep it in the fridge in a sealed bag as it stops the deterioration, but it should really be eaten asap. Other produce is best kept out of the cold. Think tomatoes, apples, mushrooms for instance. The lesson in this? Learn how to store produce to get the most out of them nutritionally.
◊ cooking matters. Cruciferous vegetables (cabbages and the like) are best steamed, sautéd or microwaved. Boiling leaches all the goodies out of them.
◊ peels matter. The highest level of nutrients is often found in or just under the skin. Think potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, pumpkins, leeks, spring onion. If you peel, or over peel, you’re throwing out the best bits.
As I work my way through the 200 odd pages of this book, I will glean some more bits out to share with you. Or you could just get your own copy. I think it’s worth having.
© Raili Tanska
PS – what was it I made for dinner? I stir fried, using olive oil, an onion, half a red capsicum (keeping the white membrane inside as there’s lots of goodies in it) , half a dozen cherry tomatoes, half a bag of mixed leafy greens (including beetroot leaf), broccoli, a couple of celery stalks. I served it up on a bed of shredded dark green lettuce leaves and topped it off with cubes of feta and shredded smoked trout. The dressing was made with probiotic natural goat’s yoghurt, black pepper, lemon and dill.
He who has health, has hope. And he who has hope, has everything. Arabian proverb