In this week’s edition of Smart Fuel: the fruits of summer!
July is ripe for the nutritional picking. This is the best month of the year for stone fruits, tender fresh fish, berries, sweet sugar snap peas and green beans, and floral chanterelle mushrooms. The foods currently in season provide a perfect blend of healthy essential fatty acids, B vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fiber and lean protein. Whether you have access to a nearby brook, orchard, wooded patch or simply a good farmer’s market, be sure to maximize the naturally smart combination July provides.
To eat now:
- Stone fruits: enjoy apricots, plums, peaches and nectarines (apricots in particular are at their best for several more weeks).
- Fish: try perch, rainbow trout, brown trout, and mackerel (delicate and delicious protein source).
- Berries: go for gooseberries, blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries (look for sales!).
- All things podded: dig in to sugar snap peas, green beans, and green peas (legumes are an excellent source of fiber and vitamins).
- Gourmet touch: chanterelle mushrooms are abundant with phytochemicals and make a perfect pairing for fresh-water fish. These fragrant fungi are available now in many stores and markets. They grow wild in deciduous forests so you may be able to harvest a few for yourself. Psst…learn about mushrooms and picking safely here.
Apologies for that headline.
By now, most folks are aware that eggs are not unhealthy despite their high cholesterol content. (Though not everyone, because Eggbeaters is still in business!) Eggs contain quality protein, fat, and important vitamins and minerals. Most of the nutrition is found in the yolk of the egg, which is why we’re making the yolk this week’s Smart Fuel.
Yolks contain a plethora of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that nourish your eyes, your brain, your heart and your mood. A sampling: lutein, selenium, vitamin D, vitamin E, Omega-3′s, sulfur, tryptophan, choline, magnesium, B12, the complete amino acid profile, and much more. Yolks are truly one of the most dense nutrition sources on earth. Take a look at this rundown from the USDA.
- Choose organic or free-range eggs. Better yet, if you live near any farms, see about purchasing fresh farm eggs. The best yolks are a rich yellow.
- You can eat eggs after the “sell by” date, but definitely toss them a week beyond that. Fresh is best with eggs, both for safety and nutrition.
- If you aren’t sure about the freshness, plunk your egg in a bowl of water. If it rises, it’s old. If it sinks or bobs near the bottom, it’s fresh.
- It’s not really a smart idea to eat eggs every day, because allergies can sometimes develop (this is true of many foods). But several eggs a week is genius.
We hope you all had a relaxing and enjoyable holiday!
Here are three healthy, soothing herbal infusions you can make at home. Herbal teas, of course, are not technically “tea”, but the combinations of herbs, fruit and spices promote many aspects of wellness. These are some of our favorites:
Cleansing & Rejuvenation
Recovering from illness? Or maybe a little too much festivity? Here’s a refreshing, stimulating blend.
1 or 2 strips fresh sliced ginger
2 teaspoons peppermint leaves (basil can work, as well, but won’t be as tasty)
1 teaspoon dried lavender
This herbaceous, spicy blend is wonderful for the stomach and digestion. For an extra herbal note you can add a dash of oregano or a sprig of rosemary.
Feeling ragged and overwhelmed? On edge? This infusion is guaranteed to relax.
1 teaspoon linden flowers
1 teaspoon chamomile flowers
This gentle, sweet blend will help you sleep and promote calm. Add an orange peel twist for extra interest.
Why did I eat that? Here’s a natural tonic that will relieve cramps, gas and digestive complaints.
1 heaping tablespoon blueberries (boil and mash – don’t just use jam!)
1 teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1 sprig peppermint
This tasty, light syrup will have you feeling settled and restored in no time.
Infusion confusion? Here’s how to do it:
Infusion is very simple. You’ll generally want to use about 1 teaspoon of each herb to 1 cup of water, but if you are using dried herbs you may need an extra teaspoon or so. Add the herbs or flowers to water you’ve just boiled (wait for the boiling to settle down before adding the herbage). Cover and wait 10 minutes – presto, infusion! Strain and enjoy.
What it is:
Neither a pine nor an apple, the pineapple is actually a fusion of many “fruitlets”. The pineapple is special for many reasons, but for the science nerds, this is one of the only bromeliad fruits humans eat. A bromeliad can be either an epiphyte (rootless, chillin’ in the air) or a regular old terrestrial, such as the pineapple. (At long last, tropical biology in the Costa Rican mud pays off…gems, I tell you.)
Why it’s smart to nosh:
Pineapple is the only food which contains natural bromelain, a group of enzymes that aid in digestion, reduce inflammation, reduce swelling, and speed healing. Bromelain is great for those with muscle and joint injuries, arthritis, gout and other inflammation issues. You do have to eat the pineapple fresh, however – cooking deactivates the bromelain (so much for feeling hopeful about the Carl’s Jr. Hawaiian burger ads).
Pineapple is a rich source of manganese, an important mineral. Among many important roles as a cofactor, manganese helps superoxide dismutase do its free-radical-bustin’ job.
Pineapple is loaded with antioxidant vitamin C, too!
Remember when Mark blogged about the wilting of his Salad Love Affair thanks to the miraculous arrival of Flat Earth “healthy” chips? I happened upon this humorous review of one of the Flat Earth products: specifically, their peach and mango chips. The review is short and hilarious, so be sure you check out the clickativity.
My favorite quote:
“If you want the flavor of peaches or mangos, there are some good options out there for getting your fill. For example, you could buy some peaches and mangos, and eat them.”
What’s with food that’s engineered just to taste like…other food?
For newbie readers, don’t miss some of our most popular recent posts exposing things like mold sold to us as vegetarian protein (gulp!), Mark’s harrowing escape from Vegan Island, great sources of good carbs for even the most dedicated carb haters, and the question we all want answered: why are potato chips more expensive than filet mignon???
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