By Melanie Stewart
Let’s wrap up this series on vegetables with a fun fact: We can improve “Nutritional Profit with certain pairings. For example, cruciferous vegetables help to rid the body of carcinogens that can be formed during high heat cooking like grilling. And because iron rich foods are absorbed more readily in the presence of vitamin C, you can increase your nutritional profit by paring your grilled steak with lightly steamed asparagus or broccoli.
Vitamin D helps us to better absorb calcium. Try pairing vitamin D rich oily fish, like Salmon or Trout, with calcium rich kale. Studies also show that sulforaphane rich broccoli and/or cauliflower combined with selenium rich Salmon provides 13x more effectiveness in slowing cancer cell growth. Boost your nutritional profit even more by serving the fish over creamed cauliflower with steamed broccoli and a kale salad!
Did you know that healthy fats not only help to curb sugar cravings, they also help to enhance the absorption of fat soluble vitamins? In fact, you can quintuple the absorption rate of everything good in a tomato by pairing it with olive oil or avocado…Salsa and guacamole, anyone?
Researchers also found that garlic and onion make the zinc and iron in whole grains easier to absorb, making them a perfect addition to wild rice or whole grain pasta. And finally, pairing dark leafy greens like spinach or kale can be especially helpful when eating proteins that have a higher fat content. The fiber provided helps to counteract the inhibiting effect of the fat while keeping everything moving along in transit!
To enhance flavor, try steaming veggies using chicken or beef broth instead of water. This is especially good when making broccoli, asparagus or green beans. Instead of a steamer, put the veggies directly in a pan with a lid; pour enough broth so there’s enough to steam but not to submerge. I like to season with fresh garlic, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Or try an Asian flare by sautéing veggies (carrots, onion, garlic, sugar snap peas, broccoli) in a light olive oil and season with tamari or soy sauce. Near the end of the cooking time, I’ll toss in some bean sprouts, drizzle with a little sesame oil and sprinkle on some toasted sesame seeds.
A few more ideas:
- Turn your zucchini or squash into pasta! Cut veggies into thin ribbons, sauté garlic in olive oil for 1 – 2 minutes and then add your veggie “spaghetti” and cook until al dente. Season with salt, pepper and parmesan cheese and serve as a side dish or top with Marinara and serve as “pasta”.
- Try making “chips” out of zucchini, sweet potato or beets by slicing vegetables equal thickness. Spray with coconut oil to thinly coat and lay flat on a cookie sheet; Season with salt and pepper and roast at 225 degrees for 1 hour, turn them over and continue roasting until desired crispness.
- Make “pizza” with zucchini by cutting zucchini into ¼” rounds or slices and baking at 400 degrees until just tender, about 5 minutes. Top with pizza sauce, cheese and any other toppings of your choice. Bake until cheese is melted, about 10 minutes more.
- Try cauliflower mashed potatoes by steaming cauliflower and garlic in chicken broth until soft. Then blend with butter, salt and pepper to taste.
- Try a Salad Sandwich! Mix 2 cups shredded carrots and 2 tbsp. salsa with enough mayonnaise to hold together. Spread avocado on toasted bread. (I put mustard on the other piece.) Then add lettuce, carrot salad, tomato, sliced cucumber, sliced bell pepper, black olives and even jalapenos if you like a kick!
Melanie Stewart has written 2 books for children (Yum Tum, Good Food is Fun! and Yum Tum, We Get it Done!) and one for adults (Yum Tum For Everyone!) all available on Amazon or at: www.yumtumnutrition.com. All content is commentary or opinion and is protected under Free Speech laws. It’s not meant to give individual medical advice or to make any health claims on the prevention or curing of diseases.