Month: July 2014

Stranded on a Desert Island

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If you only had three foods to eat to stay alive, for the rest of your life, what would they be?

Beans? Eggs? Brown rice? Milk? Spinach? Salmon? Blueberries? Or maybe you would choose the top three in the super foods list.

Now, if I were trapped on a DESSERT island, I would surely be packing the dark chocolate bars, double chocolate brownie ice cream, and peeps. My peeps would keep me company and I would name one Wilson.

peep
^^Wilson^^

You’re just a peep, but let me tell you what I would choose and why.

Each food serves a purpose and a diet full of variety is what keeps one healthy. People often ask me: “what are the very best foods I can eat?”  I sigh and tell them all whole and natural foods on this earth are good for you!  Of course moderation is key.  But Wilson, three foods!  Just think!  If you had just three foods to sustain life, what would you pick?  What three foods would give you the best proportion of essential protein, carbohydrates, fat, vitamins, and minerals to meet all the nutrition requirements the body needs to survive?

To start, I would choose a food that has all the essential amino acids, or building blocks of protein.  Essential amino acids (phenylalanine, valine, threonine, tryptophan, methionine, leucine, isoleucine, lysine, and histidine) cannot be made in the body and must come from the diet.  A complete protein contains these nine essential amino acids in the correct proportion.  While most foods contain all the essential amino acids, they do not necessarily have them in the correct proportions our bodies need.  Animal sources like eggs, milk, poultry, meats, and fish are examples of complete proteins.  Plant sources tend to have a lower amount of one or more essential amino acids and therefore need to be paired with a food that can compensate.  For example, combining beans and rice is a popular way to achieve a complete protein.

That being said, I would choose milk to be my source of complete protein.  It has a high protein digestibility score plus it is higher in calcium, magnesium, and B-12 than a serving of egg.  (And I would be so bored on the island I would learn how to make yogurt and cheese.)

Then, it would hit me that I’m on this island alone; I will need a lot of energy to build myself a home and arrange logs to spell out “help.”  Therefore, I need a high-energy food like a starch that will build up my glycogen stores as well as provide immediate energy.  At first one might think potato.  But I’m going to delegate a sweet potato to be my source of energy and added goodies like potassium, Vitamins A, C, and B-6, and fiber.  (I’m totally making sweet potato fries over the fire.  Wilson, you’re next!  You delectable puffy golden brown s’more, you!)

peep smore

Ok, now for my last choice.  (Big puff of air through small opening of mouth.) Man, this is tough.  I have many nutrient holes to fill such as Vitamins E and K, some of the B vitamin family, iron, and the list goes on.

The first food that comes to mind to fill these holes is spinach.  Spinach is high in Vitamins C, A, and K, and folate, and is a good source of calcium, iron, and Vitamins E, B2 and B6.  But even a 10-ounce package of spinach, a half-gallon of milk, and five cups of sweet potatoes, providing a total of 2137 calories, would leave me deficient in Vitamin E, iron, and zinc, and exceeding the safe upper limit for magnesium and calcium, and extremely exceeding the upper limit for Vitamin A.

Really Wilson, I hope this helps you realize you really can’t live off of just three foods and achieve all your daily requirements of every vitamin and mineral.  It would be extremely hard.  But what do you know about hard; you’re a marshmallow.

 

Please, don’t let Wilson and I carry on this ridiculous dialogue alone.  Leave your comments below.  What three foods would YOU take with you on this desert island?

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Roasted Brussels Sprout Salad with Dijon Vinaigrette

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brussels sprouts are the best!

Brussels sprouts are the BESSSSSST!

Not your initial reaction when reading the title of this post? I can’t say I blame you. This diminutive cabbage is the object of childhood nightmares, up there with the Boogey Man and the Quadratic Equation. To be honest, I didn’t try my first brussels until a few years ago. I remember being told that they “taste like boogers…literally.” How this person knew what boogers tasted like, I’ll never know. But that cemented in my mind that I would NEVER eat brussels sprouts.

Roasted Brussels sprout salad with Dijon vinaigrette

So what changed my mind? This salad, of course! I think Dijon can make anything tasty, and here it really complements the warm, slightly crispy Brussels sprouts. The sweetness from the grapes, the bite of the onion, and the full flavor that comes from roasting nuts come together to make one of the best salads I’ve ever had. Sometimes you hear “salad” and fall asleep standing up because they can be so boring, but I’m telling you, give this one a try. You won’t regret it. And if your inner child balks at the idea of eating a Brussels sprout, you’re in for a pleasant surprise.

Brussels sprouts

Brussels sprouts are members of the Brassica family, which includes other nutritional powerhouses like kale, broccoli, and cabbage. The Brassica family is known for having some smelly members, which is due to the release of a sulfur compound in the cooking process. Over-cooking your Brussels sprouts will bring out this strong taste and smell, so be careful! Steaming and stir frying are sure-fire ways to retain the most nutrients and not overcook your sprouts, although I haven’t experienced any adverse smells when I’ve roasted them.

roasted Brussels sprouts

Brussels sprouts and other Brassica members have been heralded for their health benefits. Of course, like most things green, they are high in vitamins and minerals, specifically vitamins C, B6, and K, folate, thiamin, potassium, and copper. Also like all things green, they are low in calories and high in fiber. Cruciferous vegetables are thought to have cancer-fighting properties due to the high levels of phytochemicals, specificially isothiocyanates, which act as detoxifiers. As with most diet-related claims, more research and more powerful studies are needed; however we do know that a mostly plant-based diet rich in varied fruits and vegetables is associated with lower cancer risks. So go ahead, add this Brussels sprout salad into your meal rotation. It’s just another example of how delicious healthy eating can be.

Roasted Brussels sprout salad with Dijon vinaigrette

Ingredients (serves 4)

Salad

  • 20 brussels sprouts, trimmed and cut in half
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 cups spinach or arugula
  • 3/4 cup seedless red grapes, cut in half
  • ½ cup red onion, thinly sliced
  • ¼ cup parmesan cheese, shredded
  • 1/3 cup chopped walnuts, toasted

Dijon Vinaigrette

  • 1 clove garlic, diced
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 1 Tablespoon Dijon
  • 2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Preheat oven to 450. Remove any discolored leaves and trim the Brussels sprouts by cutting off the hard base, and then cut in half. Some leaves may fall off, that’s ok. You can still roast the loose leaves, but keep an eye on them as they will crisp up faster. Toss the halves with the olive oil and roast, turning halfway through, for 15-18 minutes or until browned. I like some burnt pieces, but roast them until you reach your desired level of doneness.

While the Brussels sprouts are roasting, prepare your other salad ingredients. I like to toast walnuts in a skillet on med-low, but be careful here as they can burn quickly (it’s happened to me on more than one occasion). When the Brussels sprouts and walnuts are finished, set them aside to cool. Once cool, combine all salad ingredients.

Whisk the dressing ingredients in a small bowl and toss with the salad.

Nutrition Facts

  • 240 calories
  • 7 g protein
  • 19 g carbohydrate
  • 4 g fiber
  • 17 g fat (9 g monounsaturated, 5 g polyunsaturated)
  • 118 mg sodium