Healthful food combinations…

The most recent Cancer Compass newsletter (http://tinyurl.com/bnxwyy) gives us some good food combination ideas. For instance, if you are preparing a spinach salad, add a mandarin orange to it or, another suggestion (=mine), some lemon juice. The vitamin C contained in citrus fruit not only makes spinach taste better but also helps our bodies absorb the iron present in this vegetable and other leafy greens.

 

My note: an excellent way to eat spinach, the Italian way, is to steam it (lightly), then toss it in a separate pan with a bit of olive oil and chopped up garlic (or whole garlic, if you prefer). Stir it all up for a few minutes, then take it off the heat and add lemon juice. It’s an easy peasy tasty method that can be applied to any leafy vegetables–chicory and kale, for instance. Another suggestion: to absorb more of the iron contained in red meat, I always eat it with a green salad or steamed broccoli/spinach flavoured with olive oil and…lemon juice.

  

Spinach is in season now, and I have been buying it freshly picked at the local farmers’ cooperative. A bit of a drag to clean (best to let it soak for a while), but such a delightful food, and sooo good for us. I recently tried a new Indian recipe for lentil and spinach curry, adding more turmeric and ginger than the original recipe recommended, and it was so delicious that even my father-in-law, who eats only Italian food and is suspicious of anything remotely exotic, had three helpings.

 

Back to Cancer Compass (you can sign up for the free newsletter, btw). Another good food combination: broccoli and tomatoes. Too bad they aren’t really in season together. After reading Barbara Kingsolver’s new book (“Animal, Vegetable, Miracle”), I am sticking to local vegetables in season. At any rate, when we add, e.g., olive oil to tomatoes and other carotenoids, we are helping our bodies absorb their healthful nutrients.

 

Carotenoids, by the way, can be found in foods as diverse as carrots, apricots, sweet potatoes, spinach, kale, pink grapefruit, salmon, milk and egg yolks. Odd list, huh? Well, just have a look at the World’s Healthiest Foods excellent page on this topic: http://tinyurl.com/cqhzo3. Interesting WHF suggestion: cayenne pepper or hot chili pepper added to carotenoids also enhance nutrient absorption. Hmmm, not at all a bad idea!

 

The Cancer Compass article ends with more than a hint of disapproval toward fat-free salad dressings. I was very happy to read this part, since I have always thought that fat-free foods taste like cardboard. Years ago, in the U.S., I tried fat-free or 1 or 2% fat milk. Horrible, tasteless, might as well drink water (= better for you, too). Hence, in my opinion, it is better to eat less but have some…fat. Obviously, I refer to the “good” fats. Anyway, according to the article, the reason to use “fat” salad dressings is that olive oil, for instance, makes many healthful nutrients more bioavailable to us…nutrients such as lutein in the green peppers, the capsanthin in the red peppers, the lycopene in the tomatoes, even the limonene in the lemon. There you go. So…go ahead and enjoy a bit of fat!

 

I love the article’s final suggestion: The best way to spot synergy on your plate — and to ensure a nutritious meal — is to make sure it has a minimum of three colors and contains healthful fat (avocado, olive oil or nuts).

 

Note: this is my 500th post (!). And, since I began this blog, I have had 1705 comments. Wowie!

4 Comments

  1. Hi Jojo,

    I have never had that side effect. But I do know that curcumin has that effect on some people, even if they are careful to build up to 8 grams slowly, with weekly increases.

    If that were to happen to me, I would diminish the dose to 4 grams for a while, to see if that would make any difference. I would also cut down on my fiber intake.

    Hope this helps!

  2. I was inspired by your lentil and spinach curry.
    Did it slightly differently. I like to use my food processor and using a base of olive oil and garlic add other herbs to add flavor to whatever I am cooking. This time my combination was olive oil, garlic, curry, extra tumeric, parsley & rosemary.

    I cooked the lentils, added some left over rice and then a table spoon of this very garlic rich curry mixture. Cooked the spinach separated, added a bit of plain garlic & olive oil and a touch of lemon.

    Put the lentils and rice in a pan with a cooked yam, diced, around the edge and spinach in the middle.

    Yum Yum Yum
    Thanks
    Eliza

    P S I always made more of the garlic & olive oil than I need and pour extra into small containers and keep in freezer–Oh course basil, oregano, thyme, rosemary whatever are great additions. Put in fridge before using.

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