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I know this because I see patients week in and week out who are conscientious about their diet but are showing up deficient in minerals, B complex, vitamin D, or omega-3 fats. Mild deficiency leads to fatigue, aches and pains, indigestion, or weak immunity. Severe, long-term deficiency leads to heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, and autoimmune disease.
If those of us who only buy organic, who eat high-quality meat, and who prepare dinner at home are not meeting our nutritional demands day-to-day, what of the consumer of the Standard American Diet? Is it any wonder that diabetes, heart disease, and arthritis are epidemic?
Fortunately, we have an abundance of high-quality, relatively inexpensive nutrient supplements available to us, and we have inexpensive and simple ways of maximizing our nutrient intake from our diet. Here are some tips for you to enjoy greater flavor and nutritional value from your kitchen.
1) Spice it up.
Ounce for ounce, spices are the best sources of anti-oxidants and anti-inflammatory nutrients. Purchase them in bulk and use them liberally in your cooking.
The heating spices ginger, turmeric, cayenne, mustard, horseradish, and garlic are all rich with anti-inflammatory, immune-boosting nutrients as well as anti-oxidants. When you feel a cold coming on, try drinking broth with fresh ginger, garlic, turmeric, and dry mustard. It will warm you and help you fight off the bug. Cost of a cup of broth with spices: less than $1.
Savory spices such as clove, cinnamon, cardamon, nutmeg, and allspice are also rich in anti-oxidants, and have the added benefit of helping to moderate blood sugar. Maybe that's why they taste so good in cookies? Use these on your cereal, with yogurt, or whenever you have time to bake. Even if you use a cookie mix, add extra spices to make them tastier and more nutritious.
Don't forget herbs. Herbs are rich in nutrients that are hard to find. Parsley and watercress are two powerhouses when it comes to detoxification.
Experiment with these in your meals. Even if you eat prepared food, there's no reason not to add some spices.
I love to cook with chicken or beef broth. Sometimes I make it from scratch, sometimes I use the kind that comes in a box. Either way, I can simmer it with four or five cardamon pods, a cube fresh ginger about half the size of your thumb, two or three bay leaves, a few chunks of garlic, and six whole cloves. It adds a step but it gives the broth an incredible flavor, and it provides a great nutritional boost.
2) Think like a plant.
Plants are essentially chemical factories, evolved (or designed, if you please) to transform sunlight, water, and soil into incredibly complex and useful molecules. Where the plant stores these molecules depends on what the molecules are meant to do.
Seeds contain the genetic information for an entire new plant, along with a small amount of calories, protein, and fat to get the new plant going. Think of seeds as being a source of the enzymes, DNA, and RNA that your cells will need for regeneration and repair. Most spices are made from seeds.
Roots are the plant's energy storage system. Use roots for calories and for the co-enzymes your body needs to store and release energy. Carrots, potatoes, onions, and beets.
Leaves are for energy production. They are generally highest in the nutrients your cells need to make energy, (even though your cells do not photosynthesize): magnesium and B complex. Cabbage, broccoli, lettuce, chard and kale.
Flowers are for show but they are vital for the survival of the plant species, so the plant tends to put its chemical signature into the flowers. Broccoli, cauliflower, and brussels sprouts are flowers. These are nutritional powerhouses, both food and medicine.
Think of the root for your food, the seeds for your enzymes, and the leaves and flowers as your medicine.
Dr. Christopher Astill-Smith
3) Drink broth.
Bones and vegetables simmered in water with pepper, salt, and spices will create a simple, versatile, nutrient-rich broth. All of the nutrients in the bones will dissolve into the broth, and you will have the calcium, proteins, phosphates, and all.
It's a little intimidating to some, because it feels like "real cooking", but it's easy to do and hard to mess up.
Easy Broth: start with a chicken: one you have cooked yourself or one you brought home pre-cooked. Even KFC bones will work. Put the bones in a big pot, add any of the following you may have: a chopped onion, a chopped carrot, a celery stalk or two, some garlic, a teaspoon of salt, a teaspoon of pepper (whole peppercorns, if you have them), and any of the spices mentioned above. Add enough water to cover these ingredients plus another two inches. Set it on the stove on high heat until it boils, then turn the heat down so it just simmers. Leave it simmering for at least an hour. Turn off the heat and let it cool down a bit. Pour the liquid into glass jars (carefully!) and you're done.
If you want, you can freeze the broth. Once it cools down a bit, pour it into an ice cube tray and in a day you'll have single-serving broth cubes.
4) Look to the sea.
Seafood is among the most mineral-rich food on the planet. Iodine and zinc are particularly abundant in seafood and are hard to get from meat and vegetables.
Fish and shellfish should be eaten in moderation, because they are expensive, their populations are dwindling, and there are real concerns about mercury concentration in these animals.
But there are inexpensive, renewable, abundant resources in the sea: sea salt and sea weed.
OK. Eating seaweed is hard for some people to think about, but it can be crispy, toasted, and tasty. And think about this: a Pacific Kelp plant can grow 24 inches in a day. Do you suppose that maybe it has some stuff in it that is good for cell regeneration and repair?
Just try this: buy a packet of Dulse seaweed. Heat a skillet on the stove with 1 Tbsp of olive oil. Get the oil warm then toss in 5 or 6 inch-long pieces of dulse. Cook it for about 5 minutes, stirring it to keep it from sticking. When it's done, it's toasty, crisp, and not at all sea-weedy. If you try it and don't like it, send me the rest of your package and I'll eat it :).
Then there is high quality sea salt. Balk at the price? How much salt do you use in a year? Buy $1.29 Morton's instead of $8 Celtic Sea Salt and you have saved yourself a whopping $6.71 over six months. The nutrient value and the flavor are well worth the difference in price.
This article is getting long, so I'll be brief from here on out.
5) Eat good fats.
Short reason: your cell membranes are made of fat and cholesterol. These membranes need to be flexible and permeable. Ingest poor quality fats and you will have stiff, impermeable cell membranes and unhealthy cells.
Use olive oil, sesame oil, safflower oil, and organic butter. Forget corn oil, canola oil, soy oil, Crisco, margarine (even "healthy margarine"). I'd rather you use good bacon fat over margarine. Palm oil? Cottonseed oil? Last I checked, palm trees and cotton were not food crops and their seeds are probably not fit to consume.
Buy oils in smaller bottles, so you will use them within 60 days. Keep them in a dark cupboard.
6) Organic meat and vegetables.
They are more nutritious, so the extra money is worth your while. Even if they weren't more nutritious, they lack the pesticide residue that creates a toxic burden for your body and requires extra nutritional resources to detoxify.
And they taste better!
I truly hope that you follow my advice. Take supplements if you need them, but don't rely entirely on them for your nutrient intake. Eat well and often!