Thursday, June 17, 2010
My Affordable Nutrition Philosphy
Lately I have been combining four different eating philosophies when it comes to my food prep.
The first is derived from Barbara Kingsolver's book "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle". The premise here is that if you eat what is locally in season, you are giving your body and the environment good mojo. Additionally, the items you are eating taste wonderful, and better than migratory food.
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life (P.S.)
The second is from Dr. Joel Fuhrman's "Eat For Health" compilation. My main interest in his findings is the scale he discusses which rates food on it's nutrient to calorie ratio. That means that food like donuts rate low b/c the nutrients are low and the calories are high. And foods like kale, bok choy, swiss chard and cocoa are high because they are rich in "micronutrients" like minerals, vitamins and phytochemicals and they are incredibly low in macronutrients such as fat, protein and carbohydrates. Find me one person who has porked out on kale.
Eat For Health: Lose Weight, Keep It Off, Look Younger, Live Longer (2 book set)
The third philosophy that appeals to me is that of the Green Smoothie concept that is championed by Robyn Openshaw. This idea is that if you take those less than tasty greens and blend them up in a crazy ass blender with tasty healthy things you are getting more healthy food. As evidenced by this blog, I have been playing around with this for a while. In addition, Openshaw proposes that by breaking those greens down you can absorb more of the nutrients.
Green Smoothies Diet: The Natural Program for Extraordinary Health
The fourth idea is new to me. This is from Jessica Seinfeld and her book "Deceptively Delicious" which was gifted to me from a friend of my sister. The idea here is that if you puree veggies and fruits, you can hide them in regular kid friendly foods and fool your kids into eating more healthy foods.
Deceptively Delicious: Simple Secrets to Get Your Kids Eating Good Food
So... that being said. Here is the hybrid spawn that I have birthed from all my nutritional mating. I like to take local, recently harvested (Kingsolver) high nutrient produce (Fuhrman) and puree (Seinfeld) them and hide them in foods and smoothies (Openshaw).
So, to be more specific, now that I have placed credit where it is due, I will describe to you what I mean. I am growing my own garden right now, joined a CSA and I frequent my local farmer's stand. I search for items at the stand that are on sale b/c they are on the verge of going bad. Then I bring those items home and either freeze them, or puree them and freeze them. Now, if I can use them fresh I will. But, since fruit and veggies have a habit of going bad even when they are bought newly ripe, I like to freeze them. I use as much as I can prior to freezing, and then am happy knowing that nothing went to waste!
Another idea I have stumbled upon is using greens that have been pureed, poured into ice cube trays and then frozen. If I take this green puree and throw it into my blendtec blender I know that I am getting great nutrition without stressing that my bag of spinach will go bad before I can use it. I also know that I am getting a great deal financially.
Here's the thing. Let's say you buy a bag of spinach for three bucks. Then you end up using about 75% of it before it gets slimy and has that smell. You know the smell. So you wasted only .25. But, since you only used 75% of the bag, you probably got about five or six smoothies out of that bag. That is if you are using about 1/2 cup of spinach per smoothie. Those 3.00 bags hold about four cups of spinach (I am guessing). And if 1-1/2 cups of it went bad, you probably only got a weeks worth of smoothies out of your 3.00. So monthly you'd be spending around 12.00 on spinach for your morning smoothies.
Well, what if instead, you went to a farmer's market and bought the huge ass bag of spinach that is only 2.00. Then you take it home, wash it yourself (how novel), and then puree it and freeze it. After adding a smidge of water you have probably 30 ice cubes of spinach. I am sure that one per smoothie would do the trick, simply because when you puree it you are condensing those leaves. So you get around 30 smoothies out of 2.00. That means 2.00 a month instead of 12.00. See the logic? My math may not be perfect, but I am confident that the concept is dead on.
I bought a huge bag of swiss chard the other day. What does anyone do with a huge bag of swiss chard??? I gave half to a friend and then took the other half (still a large amount) and pureed it in my blendtec. The bag was 1.50. Above is a pic of how much I got out of it. That is a very large bowl of green sludgy nutrition folks. How many ice cubes do you think that would make?? That bowl cost me 75 cents.
Realistically, unless we are using green smoothies to bathe an army, we can't use the amount of greens we get when we buy them at the best price. I bet there really is a place that uses pureed greens for expensive spa baths... hmm....
Anyway, above are two pics of items I pureed last night: the .75 worth of swiss chard, beets, avocados, carrots and yellow squash.
I also went on to do some bok choy that I will sneak sparingly into smoothies for my kid.
So, if you are looking for affordable ways to add nutrition to your lives, here you go. I know, it all takes time. But let's be realistic, everything in this life costs either time or money. You choose.