The 52 New Food Challenge – Okra

Jennifer Tyler Lee has found something that I almost never eat; I believe I have had it once or twice. I don’t think okra is very common out here in California but I know I have seen it in some Indian dishes. It’s not that I don;t like it, but since it isn’t very common I haven’t sought it out much. Jennifer Tyler Lee recommends sautéing it with garlic or making an Okra Risotto. I love risotto, so I’m supporting this option!

Food Facts:okra

  • It originated in Africa and migrated to the Mediterranean.
  • It is a mucilaginous veggie which some folks like and other detest.
  • Good source of vitamins A, B6, C, and K, folate, niacin, riboflavin, manganese, calcium, magnesium, copper, and potassium.
  • Good source of fiber.
  • It contains the antioxidants beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin.
  • Studies have shown that the seeds in okra may help reduce the risk of prostate cancer.
  • In mice studies, the antioxidants helped to reverse cognitive deficits that were due to nerve damage.
  • Cooking okra does not lessen the nutrient value.
  • Younger okra pods are less mucilaginous.

From The 52 New Foods Challenge by Jennifer Tyler Lee and Superfoods by Tonia Reinhard.

The 52 New Foods Challenge – Corn

This week’s new food is Corn. While I do love corn on the corn and am totally addicted corn tortilla chips, this is a contentious food for me for a couple of reasons.

  1. Most corn is genetically modified. I personally don’t trust GMO foods and try to avoid them as much as possible.
  2. Corn is in everything. Dextrose, corn syrup, HFCS, maltodextrin, corn starch, and more. Many foods that are highly processed and then added to processed foods are also highly allergenic foods. As a species survival mechanism, plant foods contain tiny amounts of toxins. Overconsumption of one type of food builds up the amount of toxins we are exposed to. So I recommend limiting corn consumption.
  3. Corn is one of the top 8 most allergenic foods.
  4. Ever seen whole corn kernels in your stool? MOST people don’t digest corn well.
  5. It’s not a nutrient dense food and crowds out room for more nutritious foods.

With all that said, I do occasionally eat corn, I usually opt for blue or purple corn because these heirloom varieties are less likely to be genetically modified. Jennifer Tyler Lee recommends a corn salsa or popping the corn while it’s still on the cobb. That sounds like fun! I DO love heirloom popcorn made on the stove with ghee and then topped with real butter. It’s my vice.

Food Facts:

  • purple-cornCorn is native to Central America.
  • Corn is high in vitamins A, B5, B6, C, folate, thiamine, niacin, magnesium, phosphorous, potassium, manganese, riboflavin, and zinc.
  • Good source of carotenoids, specifically zeaxanthin and beta-cryptoxanthin, as well as phenols.
  • Carotenoids can help to lower blood pressure as well as reduce risk of breast cancer for post-menopausal women.
  • Modern corn has been bred to have more sugar and is lower in phytonutrients.
  • Blue corn has nearly thirty times the antioxidant values of modern white corn.
  • Darker yellow corn varieties have more nutrients than white corn.
  • There are other varieties as well: red, orange, purple, blue, and black. These varieties are rarely found at the store but could be grown at home.
  • Frozen corn is equally nutritious as fresh corn; canned corn can also be as nutritious as fresh corn.
  • Corn is not a complete source of protein alone.
  • Corn contains niacin, but in whole food form, it is not bio-available. Native Americans soaked their maize in lime which allowed  the niacin become available for the body.

From The 52 New Foods Challenge by Jennifer Tyler Lee, Eating on the Wild Side by Jo Robinson, Encyclopedia of Healing Foods by Michael Murray, Joseph Pizzorno, and Lara Pizzorno, and Superfoods by Tonia Reinhard.

Sept. 2016 Book of the Month – Gut

September’s Clean Eating Book of the Month is Gut by Giulia Enders. After Eat Dirt, Brain Maker, and Gulp, you may begin to think that I’m obsessed with the digestive system. And well, I guess I am. I am a nutrition consultant, after all.

Enders takes a unique scientific approach to teaching us about our gut. A microbiologist by trade and currently enrolled in a gastroenterologgut-imagey PhD program, Enders infuses humor throughout her book and her sister creates simple and enlightening illustrations like this one of how to properly use the toilet to go poop (Ender, 2015, p.19).

I hear from many people that like to debate the existence of gluten intolerances. Enders does a wonderful job of clearing up the confusion for folks. Celiac disease is what Enders terms a genetic intolerance to gluten. Here is how she explains a gluten intolerance: All grains (and all plants for that matter) have a small amount of toxins in them. These toxins exist to ensure the survival of the species. Compared to other grains, wheat produces more toxins. Because of the high level of toxins in the proteins in wheat, gluten (and gliadin), can pass through the small intestines into the bloodstream, undigested. In turn, it can weaken the junctions between the cell lining the small intestines (microvilli). When those junctions are weakened, food particles (like gluten) can pass through unregulated and cause the immune system to go on overdrive. The job of the microvilli is to keep out large (undigested) food particles and toxins, so when food particles are allowed to pass through and the immune system is on overdrive, many other health problems occur, resulting in an intolerance.

In addition to clearing up confusion around food intolerances, Enders also discusses poop, acid reflux, constipation, vomiting, the brain-gut connection, the HUGE role of bacteria in our lives, and much more. This is a fascinating poop book. I actually did type poop there first, so I thought I should leave it. 😉 I highly recommend it for all homo sapiens. 5/5 Strawberries!5:5 Strawberries