Thursday, October 11, 2012

Artichokes And Hand Grenade: October's Healthiest Foods


I was at the checkout line at a grocery store to picked up stuff, including a couple of artichokes for dinner. 

The person at the checkout counter paused, then picked up the artichoke as gingerly as she could. Her eyes widened. 

She glanced up at me as if she heard the tick, tick, ticking of the cleverly disguised hand grenade she was certain I had put in her checkout line. 

"Um," looking back down at this, this, thing, "what IS it?" 

"An artichoke?"

And then, I kid you not, she said, "How do you spell that?" [she had to find it on her little spinny wheel thing to get the code]

"How do you spell it," I repeated? "Like artichoke. Ar.Ti. Choke. You know, like artichoke." 

She had no idea what this thing was, or that this was actually not a weapon of mass destruction. And that's really the problem with this wonderful edible thistle, that we're largely unfamiliar with it. 

So, for those of you who have not had one of these in a while (read, EVER), let me assure you that they will not "go off". It's simple to cook them up. You just take a knife, slice a bit off the top, throw them in a pot of boiling water for about 40 minutes while you're doing other things. 

Then, you'll just make a little dipping sauce: a good solid dollop of mayo or sour cream, add enough white wine vinegar to give it the tartness you like. Then, you'll need just a bit of spicy mustard (or better, horseradish!!), with salt/pepper to taste. Poom!! 

Then you pull the leaves off one at a time, and eat the "meat" that is closest to the base. Basically, you'll just scrape your teeth across the bottom to get at it. You'll see what I mean once you start. By the time you get to the center, you'll pull out all the thistly parts and then cut up that heart. You can eat it, as is, or put it in a salad (see this recipe).  


Reference: Check out this article showing the healthfulness of this wonderful little non-hand grenade. Content of redox-active compounds (ie, antioxidants) in foods consumed in the United States. Am J Clin Nutr. 2006 Jul;84(1):95-135. 2006. 

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Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The Mohammad Ali of Foods: The Healthiest Foods of October (w Dr Oz video)



"The greatest of all time!"
I remember watching Mohammad Ali as a child, and you could not NOT watch him. So fast, as the butterfly floating, bee stinging champ; the greatest of all time. 

I'm going to say that he was the greatest of all time, because I love the guy, but also because he did so many things in the ring so well. 

So, after slobbering on about how awesome Mohammad Ali is, why am I linking him to the lowly cabbage? 

Because the cabbage is the greatest fighter of all time. Not against Sonny Liston and Smokin' Joe Frazier, but against all cancers. 



Listen to this. 
Over 1,000 men at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center ate 28 servings of vegetables a week. They had a 35% lower risk of prostate cancer. Blah blah blah, we might have guessed that. BUT, those who ate just 3 or more servings of cruciferous veggies per week had a 44% lower prostate cancer risk.

The same thing was found in the Netherlands on over 100,000 people. They followed these people for over 6 years, and found that those eating the most vegetables had a 25% lower risk of colorectal cancers. 

Neat. 

However, those eating the most cruciferous vegetables did almost twice as well with a 49% drop in their colorectal cancer risk.

Americans, Netherlanderthals, and also Chinese women in Singapore, who struggle with fetid air pollution levels, returned the identical result. Non-smokers who eat cruciferous vegetables like cabbage had 30% less lung cancer. In smokers, regular cruciferous vegetable consumption reduced lung cancer risk an amazing 69%!

Include The Food 
(you don't have to eat 10 heads of cabbage per day, just have it from time to time)
Cabbage is not just about slaw – although slaw qualifies as a solid Righteous Food. You can also braise with, say, chopped apple and red wine. You can also sauté it with onions as a tasty side dish. 


In this video, I am talking with Dr Oz about cabbage, sour kraut, and the simple things you can do to prepare it in your own home. 




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Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Crying Out Loud: Octobers Healthiest Foods (w video)



Dry your eyes, princess, onions are awesome. Say it with me ... "onions are awesome". Thank you!! 

Yes, they make you cry when you cut them, but they make you very happy if you are a diabetic ... helping you control your blood sugar (here you go, science geeks and data heads). 

And you're asking me, "why is this an October food, when I can get these all year round?" Good question. The answer is that onion crops peak in the fall. The stuff you get at other times of the year  will either come shipped in from somewhere else (like plums from Peru, or apples from Australia), or be produced in some other agro-controlled way. 

So now -- and this is just me talking -- is the time to get the onions that will taste the best. You know how you get those winter tomatoes that are whitish in the middle and pithy and mealy and [fill in the blank with some term that means low flavor]? The same thing will happen for any of your veggies. So get the onions now, they'll likely taste better!! 

Why do onions make you cry? 
This is a great video showing 1) why this happens at all, and 2) how to prevent it from happening. 

Include the Food 
(don't drink it by the gallon, just have it once in a while)
Killer recipe for French Onion Soup, from my 2nd book, The French Don't Diet

I love when this happens. French Onion Soup is a perfect fall food because it's hot, it's got these awesome caramelized onions, with a scatter of cheesy bready wonderfulness. 

Make this soup yourself this weekend. It's so easy, and cheap to throw together!! Once you do it, start playing with your food to tweak the savor and flavor to be EXACTLY what you want it to be. 
Click here for the recipe.  

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Monday, October 08, 2012

Fertility Fruit: October's Healthiest Foods (w video)



This fruit won't make you pregnant, but it has been a symbol for fertility, for prosperity, and also eternal life for thousands of years. 

Actually, people started planting this fertility fruit about 5,000 years ago! 

Why is it associated with fertility? 
Maybe its because this fruit is nothing more than a bunch of tart little seeds, that have the potential to produce thousands more pomegranates. 

That's some reproductive potential!! 

But maybe because, for 5,000 years, the people who eat this are less likely to die from things like cancer (here's the data) or heart problems for diabetics (here's the data) as well as for everyone else (here's the data)!!

So What's The Problem?
The problem is that many people don't know about them, don't know how to prepare them, or even how to get the seeds out without becoming a red, juicy mess. 

So here is a great video showing you an easy way to de-seed this beautiful (if seedy) fertility fruit. 

Include the Food! (you don't need to bathe in pomegranate juice, just have a little from time to time)

Check out this super simple supper recipe for a salad with carrots (just run them through a chopper) and pomegranate seed (just throw them in there) and finish it off with your own salad dressing -- a squeeze of lemon and a couple of Tablespoons of olive oil. 

Oh, salt and pepper too. 

It's also awesome because it combines two of  October's healthiest foods. 

It's ALSO awesome because its a salad that you can make for dinner, and then have it for lunch. Even though it's a salad, it keeps really really well.    

Get this recipe for pomegranate/carrot salad here. 


See Also: Food Res Int. 2011 August 1; 44(7): 1856–1865.
Exotic Fruits as Therapeutic Complements for Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolic Syndrome




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Sunday, October 07, 2012

Spoiler Alert: Healthiest Foods Of October: Beets are NOT actually gross!


Beets
When I was a kid, beets came out of a can. I thought they GREW in there. Weird, right, how beets come pre-sliced and pre-canned. 

I had no idea A) that they were a root veg just like a carrot, or B) that they did not taste like dishwater. 

Now that I'm older (read, ancient) and wise to the ways of the world, I love them ... but NEVER from a can. Do you know why? Because dishwater belongs in the sink, not in my mouth. 

The only real downside to beets is also the massive upside. The incredible beautiful color stains like crazy. AND if you're wearing a white shirt when you're cutting a beet, there is some gravitational pull, some fundamental force of physics that causes the beet juice to splash onto your clothes. Science is so strange sometimes. 


The really good news is that the compounds that give beets that violety, carmine color are called "betalains". They're incredibly powerful as an antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and for detoxification. By the way, betalains will kill cancer cells ... KILL them. Here's the research on that. 

You know those people who do detox diets, and take detox pills, and a search for a billion other species of weird detox things?  The detoxification slurry of green goop is slimy, for sure, but it's not necessarily bad for you. 

But does it actually detoxify your body? Sure, but it's no more or less that having that ground up spinach and flax and whey and raw egg and whatever in a salad (please cook your eggs, people). Sometimes we totally overthink things.  

In fact, did you know that there's actually a detox foot patch. You see this, and you think, "really"? That the Detox Foot Patch exists MEANS that people purchase this. Really? 

In any case, if you want to detox your system, just "include the food". Have beets, by themselves, or in a salad. 


Include The Food 
(don't eat a ton, just make sure you have some)


This beet salad is great (Click here for the recipe), but, there's something you can do to this salad to make sure it is even better. Sure, sure, try the salad as per the recipe at first, but then give it a twist the next time. Then, when you cook the beets, instead of boiling them, roast them in a foil packet with S&P and some oil/vinegar. They're awesome. 

COOKING ALERT:
The betalains in beets will breakdown due to cooking. So, if you don't want to chomp on your beet like a violety, carmine apple (um, wouldn't recommend that, just sayin'), keep your roasting time to around 45 minutes. Some of the betalains will be lost in any case, but this will keep most of them in tact for your detoxification pleasure. 


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