Remember: We have a series of beautiful prizes for those Real Food Challenge Participants checking on the weekly threads. Our first prize - a registration to The Fundamentals of Traditional Foods e-course at Gnowfglins which provides a comprehensive 5-month tutorial covering mutiple aspects of integrating real food into your kitchen - went to Shelly of Epic Organic. Check out the e-course here (it's only $27 a month) or read my post.
Day #21: Vegetables & Salads
This message was supposed to go out yesterday, but, for some reason, didn't. Sorry for any confusion!
In our home, organic vegetables, leafy greens and fresh fruit make up the bulk of our meals by volume. This evening we enjoyed a small amount roast pasture-raised chicken seasoned with smoked paprika and saffron, mashed garnet yams, spinach and a sweetener-free black cherry sorbet.
Vegetables, greens and fruits provide interest, variety and micronutrients to your supper plate, but there's a few things you can do to maximize their value.
Ferment vegetables where you can. While we discussed the benefits of incorporating naturally fermented vegetables like sauerkraut or kimchi into your diet on regular basis, it's always worth reiterating. Fermentation increases the nutrient value of our foods - particularly B vitamins, and it also offers beneficial bacteria which are critical to your health as they help to produce vitamins in your intestinal tract and they support proper immune system function.
Serve your vegetables with fat. We touched on the role of nourishing, wholesome fats earlier in the challenge, but it's important to remember to always serve your vegetables with fat. Many nutrients in vegetables are fat-soluble, that is, in order for your body yo absorb the nutrients in vegetables, you must also eat them with fat. Even antioxidants such as lycopene are better absorbed when consumed with fat.
So when you serve vegetables, always make sure you add a bit of wholesome fat to the dish: butter melted in with mashed yams, hollandaise sauce served over steamed asparagus, roasted root vegetables sprinkled with a touch of olive oil just prior to serving. Your vegetables needn't swim in added fat, but a touch of fat will enable your body to maximize the nutrient value of your vegetables.
Lightly cook most greens. Just as nuts, seeds, grains, beans and legumes contain antinutrients which inhibit your body from fully absorbing their nutrients, so do certain vegetables. Swiss chard, beets and beet greens, spinach, Brussels sprouts, lambsquarters, collards, purslane and amaranth all contain notable amounts of oxalic acid - an antinutrient much like phytic acid which binds up calcium preventing your body from fully absorbing it. Oxalic acid, incidentally, is also implicated in the development of kidney stones.
The key then, isn't really to avoid these foods unless your health care provider indicates you should, but, rather, make sure you cook them - if only lightly. A bit of raw spinach or fresh parsley or chives here or there is not problematic for most people, but those with mineral absorption issues may wish to be especially vigilant.
Prepare your own salad dressing. Salads are refreshing and, as a raw food, provide food enzymes to your diet and are a good source of otherwise heat-sensitive vitamins. You can prepare a beautiful and simple salad dressing by combining 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil with 1/4 cup raw cider vinegar, 2 cloves minced garlic and minced fresh herbs.
Today's assignment is to make sure that you stop serving your vegetables naked, and, instead, make sure to include a healthy dose of wholesome fat with your next serving of vegetables whether its butter melted over steamed carrots or olive oil served over a salad of fresh mesclun lettuce.