Friday, September 2, 2011

The Anatomy of a Meal

My sweetie is such a team player that he went into the office today (braving the Gran Prix traffic) to help one of the guys get a project out. Since he doesn’t love savory oatmeal I took his absence as an opportunity to indulge. Savory oatmeal is something that I first learned about from my vegan RD buddy Courtney. I will be the first to admit I was a tad suspect when she mentioned it and took me a month or so to try it. My brain thought oatmeal had to be sweet but I finally decided that I just needed to try since Courtney is uber healthy and I knew that if I didn’t like I didn’t have to eat it. Much to my surprise not only did I finish my bowl of savory oatmeal I actually loved it. Trust me no one was more shocked than I was. Thank you again Courtney for sharing the idea with me. Hugs!

While I was making the oatmeal I also got the idea regarding what to write today. I realized that almost every decision I make when “developing” a meal is based on nutrition and thought you might find it useful to be in my head. Warning … my head can be a scary place to be ;-) but here goes anyway:

As I said earlier lunch today for me was savoy oatmeal (made with water) that I seasoned with turmeric, black pepper, nutritional yeast, and raw garlic. I topped the oats with artichokes, raw kale, salsa, marinated mushrooms and roasted peppers. I am going to go down the list item by item and explain why I included each.

Oatmeal is a fantastic food for a number of reasons. It is a good source of protein as we saw yesterday. Additionally is a great source of fiber which helps to reduce both your cholesterol and estrogen and testosterone by binding with them in your intestinal track so they are removed rather than being reabsorbed. The average American has total cholesterol of 200 which is too high given that you need to be below 150 to make a heart attack highly unlikely. Since most American’s have excess estrogen and testosterone, partially a result of excess body fat, anything we can do to decrease these reduces our probability of hormonally responsive cancers. I also love that oatmeal is filling and a blank canvas that can be flavored any number of ways, it doesn’t have to be sweet though that is how many Americans think of it.

Turmeric is a nutritional powerhouse. Did you know that consuming turmeric is associated with a reduction in the incidence of Alzheimer’s disease? Also turmeric has been shown to kill cancer in laboratory studies. Additionally turmeric is anti-inflammatory and is said to lower cholesterol. Go turmeric! I always knew there a good reason that I loved Indian food. ;-)

The freshly grown black pepper was added since when you combine turmeric with black pepper you are increasing your absorption of the curcumin in the turmeric which you want to do. Studies have shown that the piperine in the black peppers increases the absorption dramatically depending on the study you believe. I have seen numbers anywhere from 10 to 1,000 times. Heck even increasing the absorption by 10 times if fantastic and I will take it. :-)

Nutritional yeast was added for a few reasons but primarily because I love the flavor. However if you buy a brand that is fortified with B12 it is also good for you. I would never consider this my primary source of B12. All vegans and most Americans should be supplementing with B12 since most of us are deficient particularly as we age. There is a B12 blood test that you should have your doctor check if you don’t take a multi-vitamin and multi-mineral that contains B12, which is an adequate source according to Dr. Barnard and the American Association of Family Practitioners.

I added raw garlic to the oatmeal for flavor but also for the health benefits. Raw garlic is good for almost everything. It is a broad spectrum antibiotic and has been shown to combat not only bacteria but intestinal parasites and viruses. Wow! In also lowers blood pressure, cholesterol and blood clots. The National Cancer Institute considers it a potential cancer preventative.

Artichokes are one of my favorite vegetables I could literally eat them every day. I was thrilled when I discovered they were not out delicious but extremely good for me. Artichokes contain a significant amount of antioxidants and in a study done by the United States Department of Agriculture they ranked as the number one vegetable in antioxidant count. Contained with artichokes are cynarin and silymarin, which have strong positive effects on the liver. Just writing is making me want to eat more artichokes. LOL

Is there a more nutritious vegetable than kale? This leafy green is good for so many things that it is difficult to know where to start. This member of the cruciferous family is packed with anticancer indoles, beta carotene and lutein. Remember when you are preparing kale that it is most nutritious raw or very lightly cooked. We try to eat some form of raw kale every day.

Salsa is my go to flavoring and I could eat it on just about anything savory. I added it here for both the flavor and lycopene from the cooked tomatoes. Lycopene is a powerful antioxidant with anticancer properties. In fact Dr. Oz recommends that men eat 10 tablespoons of tomato products on average each day to reduce their probability of prostate cancer. I wonder if that means that Southern Italian men have a lower incidence of prostate cancer. Hmmmm. ;-)

Marinated mushrooms were included because I love the flavor and mushrooms boost your immune system and have anticancer properties. The vinegar used to marinate the mushrooms reduces the GI impact of starch (in this case oatmeal) in your meals.

Roasted red peppers are another one of my favorite things. While bell peppers are rich in vitamin C this vitamin is heat sensitive so the roasted peppers contain much less than raw or lightly cooked peppers. I used roasted red peppers mostly for fiber and flavor.

I hope this gives you some insight into what goes into my head when I am eating and/or preparing food. As I have said before I look at each meal as an opportunity to nourish myself which I realize is foreign to most people. However I assume if you are reading my blog you are also concerned about health so I wanted you to read some of what I am thinking of when I am preparing food. The funny thing is once I learn these things they are stuck in my head. Trust me there are times when I wished that I could unlearn things like the fact that consuming alcohol increases our risk cancer but that is simply lodged in my brain now. Darn it! *stomps foot* ;-)

Happy Thoughts:

This has been a crazy week. I have been running from one thing to another for what seems like months.Needles to say my busy schedule hasn’t dampened my mood. ;-)

• We started our day with a nice 3.5 mile walk through the neighborhood and took a small detour to our local Starbucks with is now open. It was Dan’s idea to stop there and as you can see I have little willpower when it comes to iced coffee with soymilk. Lot’s like I need an intervention. LOL

• Dan and I are thinking about buying a scooter which I think would be great fun. Being Italian I believe that it has to be a Vespa. However I know nothing about scooters. If any of you have information on them to share please do.

• As a side note I had on my favorite workout pant today which always makes me happy. Sometimes it is just the little things that make a difference in life. I love, love, love Fila’s capris which are almost like not wearing pants which is a comment for a certain someone who shall remain nameless but you know who you are. *LOL* ;-)

• Overall our weather was absolutely amazing today, not too hot and not too cold. It was another day of open windows and fresh air streaming through the house. My fur children have been enjoying the fresh air while sleeping in the windows which makes me so happy. What are fabulous day to be alive! *happy dance*

• I love that this is a long holiday weekend. *woo hoo* Is there anything better than three days with the people (or in my case person) that I love? No there really isn’t anything better in my opinion.  I love you Dan!  *xoxoxo*  I hope you have something wonderful planned this weekend with the people you care about.

Signing Out:

I have promised myself that I am going to spend more time with my hubby and less time online when he is home which means that I need to log off. My plan is to write tomorrow’s post while Dan is busy watching Sci Fi or something else that I am not interested in. Talk with you again soon. Have a fantastic long weekend.


  1. Thanks so much for this trip inside your brain, Ali! I don't know a lot about the antioxidants and micronutrients contained in food. I have added raw kale (or, when I run out, spinach) into my morning smoothie and LOVE it.

    Please let us into your brain more often. :) And enjoy your long weekend. Tell Dan you two need a date. ;)

  2. Good Morning Jackie,

    Glad you didn't find it scary in my brain. *LOL* Being a recovering accountant I do tend to get mired in the details. ;-)

    Dan and I were just talking about what we are going to do this weekend. I am sure there will be some fun. :-)

    enjoy your weekend,


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