On My Mind Monday – 2.13.12

in the news | photo: mconnors

It’s a new week and this is what’s on my mind:

Cocoa can be the new cranberry – according to this article there are some studies that have promising results for it’s antioxidant flavanols.  While I do believe that there is quite probably some health benefits this emerging claim needs to be approached with caution.  Firstly the studies are all being done by major chocolate companies, especially Callebaut, one of the world’s largest confectionery producers (formerly Belgian, now Swiss-owned).  Any study done by a company that has a vested interest in it’s end results needs to be examined more stringently in order to avoid any potential bias.  Secondly, even if cocoa does have major health benefits that is for cocoa.  The raw product.  This does not cover chocolate products that are made from a cocoa base.  Unfortunately I have visions of Cocoa Rice Krispies trumpeting major health claims on the front of the box if these studies are proven scientifically valid.  So while I will be watching and reading further about this I am advocating that this news be taken cautiously and not as an excuse to add processed cocoa to the diet with abandon.
Potatoes may offer blood pressure benefit – the caveat here is that this refers to purple potatoes.  My personal bias against this article is that it refers to potatoes simply as a vegetable.  In my practice I have gotten into the habit of labeling types of vegetables so that people understand that not all vegetables are equal.  Potatoes are a starchy vegetable, there are also crunchy vegetables and leafy vegetables, etc.  Limiting starchy vegetables in our diet makes sense, if only to encourage people to eat a wider variety of vegetables.  A little research reveals that purple laver (a type of seaweed) also has anti-hypertensive qualities, as did purple carrot juice.  This all seems to suggest that anthocyanins, the substance responsible for that purplish-red pigment, may be responsible.  Should the news media start to promote this and someone begins to manufacture anthocyanin-only pills I’d like to the be the first one to tell you to get your anthocyanins through your food.
Can fermented foods make you healthier – in a word, yes.  We don’t eat enough of these in our modern diet.  We’ve gotten away from traditionally lacto-fermented foods.  We think the saurkraut and pickles that we buy in the grocery store are good for us.  Unfortunately they are not the types of foods that we need to be eating.  Pickles especially are often laden with artificial colors (yup….read the label).  And these foods are made using commercial vinegar, not a culture or a whey to ferment naturally.  I agree that we need to eat more fermented foods in our diet; I would include kefir, kombucha, and kvass in this mixture for those who like those foods.  Want to make your own fermented food at home?  It’s very easy…here’s a great lacto-fermented saurkraut recipe with pictures.
Thirteen (plus) years of asparagus – I love asparagus.  I planted some in my garden.  This will only be it’s second year so we need to harvest with caution (it takes three years for an asparagus garden to be fully functional – or so they tell me).  But I continue to read asparagus recipes and drool for the day that I can plunder with abandon and eat our fill of the tasty stalks.  Of course that’s if there is any left.  The little heads have started poking above ground and I’ve discovered that I made a vital error.  When we have asparagus in our house we cut off the ends.  Most of them go into the compost heap.  A few we feed to the dogs, giggling as we watch them leap into the air to get these tasty-to-them tidbits and chomp down.  Guess what?  Turns out with their highly sensitive noses they’ve discovered that the tasty treats also grow in the backyard.  Not only that, they’re *much* yummier as young tender tops.  ::sigh:: Now to figure out how to protect the asparagus garden from the dogs so that we have some to eat for ourselves.
Chocolate orange macaroons – I love macaroons, they’re one of my favorite treats.  I often don’t take the time to make them though.  But this recipe from Bauman College is enough to make me change my mind.  The combination of orange and chocolate is one of my favorites.  Add in that it’s in the form of a macaroon cookie?  I’m in.
What I’m reading?   Digestive Wellness: Strengthen the Immune System and Prevent Disease Through Healthy Digestion, Fourth Edition I greatly admire Liz Lipski and this, her latest edition of this book, is a great book when it comes to understanding digestive health and it’s relationship to overall well-being.

disclosure:  cmp.ly/5

About Mira

Mira Dessy is The Ingredient Guru. A holistic nutrition professional, author, and a popular public speaker, she knows that it's not just what you eat, but what's in what you eat. She is the author of The Pantry Principle: how to read the label and understand what’s really in their food. Dessy is a Board Certified Holistic Health Practitioner whose mission is to educate and empower consumers. She curates the Lean Clean Green Subscription box, the premier, organic, earth-friendly, healthy, sustainable subscription box which can be found online at https://theingredientguru.memberbox.com