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Thirteen Super Foods for 2013

Now that we have all survived the apocalypse of 12/21/12 and realize we are still alive, the need to continue eating becomes not only a necessity, but a pleasurable duty for the continuance of the human race as we boldly launch into a new era of unknown possibilities.  This list is for all of you who have been living in denial of deeply satisfying foods for your soul.  Been craving the unctuous bit of fatty bacon, or the rich beckoning of melting butter?   Dear reader, please peruse without fear for I am a chef, who is also a nutritionist.  My foremost goal in life is to enjoy eating for absolute sensual enjoyment AND to optimize my health. You see, I truly desire to keep eating for a long long time, and I want to share with you the delights of eating for health without compromising satisfaction.  A few on the list may surprise, or even shock you but rest assured that it is all good.

Here then, are my top 13 for 2013, and all the glorious reasons why.

Wait!  Just one more thing. Before we dive head long into these most delightful edibles, take note that quality and source is the key.  So, every single item on this list is healthy, provided that it comes from an ecologically oriented farmer or producer. The golden rule is that the food should be minimally processed, organically grown or at least free from pesticides and herbicides.
And after you have read the list, be sure to visit again soon for yummy recipes that will feature these thirteen wonderful ingredients.
Bon appetit and Happy Healthy Delicious 2013!

1. Eggs

Free-range eggs

They are good for your for your eyes, good for your brains, and good for your sex life.  Eggs which come from hens  happily roaming free outdoors provide vitamins A & D, along with much higher levels of omega 3 than hens kept in battery cages.
In addition, free range eggs provide an excellent source of choline, an important nutrient that supports the liver and fat metabolism.

 

2. Burgers

Grass-fed Burger

Not just any beef burger, mind you.  The quality and source is paramount here.  The secret is to use only beef from bovines grazing on grass.  Studies have shown that beef from cows that are free-roaming ,grass-munching is lower in overall fat, but higher in vitamins E, C, beta-carotene, Omega 3, and another healthy fatty acid known as CLA (conjugated linoleic acid).  Studies on CLA shows that it is useful in preventing cancers, improves insulin metabolism, reduces inflammation, and helps to lower body fat.  (Note: Synthetic forms of CLA supplements may negatively affect our health, whereas the natural form from grass-fed animals are safe and confers the benefits mentioned above.)
Actually, the healthiest way to have the burger is without the bun. Yup, toss the bread, but feel free to add on the bacon, cheese, mushroom, onions…However, if you can’t do without, the gluten free version is the way to go.  My video shows you how to make a delicious, juicy, homemade burger in minutes, on a gluten free bun!
Click HERE for step by step instructions.
And so far, the best gluten free hamburger bun I have found is from Udi’s.
And if you are living in the San Francisco, Bay Area, one of the best sources for grass-fed beef is from True Grass Farms.

 

3. Dark Chocolate

Dark chocolate

Theobromine cacao is the food of the gods, provided that it doesn’t contain loads of processed sugar and additives.  When it comes to good taste and good health, the darker and more cacao (also known as cocoa) content, the better.  I highly recommend that you opt for 70% cacao  or higher.
Cacao is filled with antioxidants, and according to research done at the University of Cologne in Germany, cacao also lowers high blood pressure.   There is also a substance called phenylethylamine (PEA) which helps to increase dopamine; the “feel good” chemical that we all need.  My favorite way to enjoy the powerful benefits of chocolate is to use dark chocolate in flavoring savory dishes. (See my next post for a recipe.)

4. Bacon

Bacon

        In the world of sinful, forbidden foods, bacon must be one of the most feared and craved.  What if I were to tell you that eating a few slices of bacon may actually be quite healthy for you?  When pigs are free to forage outdoors, in the sunshine,  they accumulate vitamins A & D, and we, the bacon eaters, are the happy beneficiaries.  Of course, there’s the question of nitrites and its affects on health. Allow me to address this concern.  In an excellent article written by Kaayla Daniel, author of  The Whole Soy Story, she explains that
when bacon is cured the old-fashioned way with spices, sugar, and a precise amount of sodium nitrite curing salts, along with the addition of ascorbic acid, the nitrite will convert to nitric oxide (NO), which is healthy, and not convert into the harmful nitrosamine.  NO expands narrow blood vessels, thus facilitating better oxygen uptake and circulation, eliminates clots, and reduces plagues. For you bacon lovers and those who crave it, but are hesitant, I highly recommend that you read “Save Your Bacon”  by Kaayla Daniel, PhD and learn for yourself the beauty of bacon.

5. Artichokes

Artichokes

This exotic , mildly menacing looking vegetable is a powerhouse for supporting the liver and maintaining a robust digestive tract.  Artichokes contain long chains of starch molecules known as oligosaccharides that help to support the friendly bacteria in our gut.
I love artichokes, my dog loves artichokes.

Tashi Loves Artichokes

Click HERE to learn the easiest way to prepare these delightful green globes and also read an”Ode to the Artichoke” by Pablo Neruda.

6. Avocados

Avocados

These luscious fruits, known to the Aztecs as ahuacatl or “testicles” due to its shape, are one of the most nutritious foods around.  It contains vitamins E and K, along with folate and B6 plus minerals such as magnesium and potassium, both of which are important for cardiovascular health.  Avocado is also endowed with lutein, a carotenoid which is critical to good vision and skin.  As if that weren’t enough, avocados are superb for detoxification because they provide glutathione, a major antioxidant needed by the liver to do its job right.

7. Celery

Celery

Four ribs of celery a day, keeps the doctor away because it contains good fiber and helps to lower high blood pressure.
See my previous post for all the reasons why celery is not just a common vegetable, but a magical green wonder for health and romantic attraction, too!  Yes.  Good old celery can make you smell alluring to the opposite sex.

 

8. Cabbage

Purple Cabbage

Cabbages belong to the cruciferous family of vegetables known for their sulphur containing compounds which supports liver functions.  Although the three main types of cabbages (red, green, and savoy) all have health promoting nutrients, red or purple cabbage is extremely high in anthocyanin, a polyphenol that has been well researched for its ability to improve blood circulation (thus helping to prevent hypertension), promote vision health, and protects against oxidative damage.  It is the rich red, purple, or crimson colors in vegetables and fruits that signal the presence of anthocyanin.  Black and blueberries are other notable examples.

Note: Cruciferous vegetables (cabbage, kale, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower) contain chemicals (goitrogens) that inhibit thyroid hormones.  Cooking greatly mitigates this problem, so enjoy this family of vegetables cooked.  The only exception is sauerkraut, which is fermented and is actually very good for digestion and overall health.

9. Beets

Roasted beets

These sweet, dense underground vegetables contain a special class of phytonutrient known as betalains which help to calm inflammation, provides antioxidant properties, and assist the liver in detoxification.  Beets also contain betaine, another antioxidant that helps to lower homocysteine.
(High homocysteine is linked to risk of heart disease.)  But wait, there’s more!  You can’t beat beets for eye health as they also contain lutein & zeaxanthin, both of which protect the integrity of the retina thus preventing macular degeneration.

10. Butter + 11. Coconut Oil

Healthy Fats

When it comes to fat, saturated is where it’s at!  After decades of misleading negative information regarding fats in the diet, researchers are now realizing that unprocessed, natural forms of saturated fat are actually good for us; crucial for physical and mental health.
Butter contains butyric acid which calms inflammation in the gut, making it a therapeutic agent for inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) such as Crohn’s and ulcerated colitis.
Coconut oil contains numerous nutrients that are anti-microbial, support optimal thyroid function, and brain health.  Please go to my
FoodFacts page to read all about the merits of good fat.

( Click HERE for a video of an interview with Dr. Newport and her research on coconut oil’s beneficial effects against Alzheimer’s disease.)

12. Liver and Pâté

Duck Liver Pate

Eat liver for your liver.  This traditional, nutrient dense food has been prized by many cultures for its ability to nourish both the young and the old; providing robust vitality.  It is a supreme food for those who suffering from anemia as it contains a highly absorbable form of iron while also delivering , zinc, copper, plus the fat-soluble vitamins A & D.
And because it is so nutrient dense, you don’t need to eat a lot to reap the benefits.  About 4 oz. once or twice a week is sufficient.

(Note: Since the liver does function as a filtration system, it is very important to obtain it from organically raised animals.  When choosing prepared pâtés, be sure that the purveyor gets their raw liver from free ranged animals and not from factory farms.)

13. Mushrooms

Chanterelle mushrooms

Whether they are shiitakes, chanterelles, or just the commom “button” mushroom, they all confer good health by strengthening the immune system, and promoting cancer preventive activities.
According to world-famous mycologist, Paul Staments, not only are mushrooms great to eat, but they can also save us from environmental disaster!  Click HERE for an awesome TED talk by Mr.Stamets on ” Six Ways Mushrooms Can Save the World”.  It will truly amaze and inspire.

Well then, those are my top 13 foods to explore, enjoy, and share.  Do visit again in a few days as I start rolling out recipes using these ingredients.  Here are a few tempting titles to entice you:

  • Spicy Chocolate Dip with Prawns
  • Three Mushroom Ragout with Bacon
  • Grilled Chicken Liver with a Caramel Balsamic Drizzle
  • Grass-fed Beef Meatballs in a Beer and Nutmeg Sauce

For the love of food and friends,

Karen

References:

Daniel, Kaayla. “Save Your Bacon.” Wise Traditions Vol. 13 No. 3 (2012): 38 -45. Print

Fallon, Sally. Nourishing Traditions. Washington DC: New Trends Publishing Inc., 2001. Print

Stamets, Paul. Mycelium Running. Berkeley: 10 Speed Press, 2005. Print

http://www.webmd.com/diet/news/20030827/dark-chocolate-is-healthy-chocolate

 

 

 

 

 

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