Your Food Can Talk

Vegetables and fruits background.
“Listen up, human. We’re trying to tell you something.”

Your Produce is Alive!!!

It lives. It breathes. When you close the refrigerator door, the citizens of your fridge even communicate amongst one another through chemical signals.

So how you store and prepare your veggies affects them. And who you store them with affects them as well.

Examples

1. Ripen your avocado.  Want to ripen your avocado faster? Store it in a brown paper bag with a couple of bananas. The bananas emit ethylene gas, which speeds the ripening process.

2. Save your avocado with onion. Chop up some onion. Place it in an airtight container with your avocado or guac. If possible, keep the pit. The gasses from the onion will slow browning.

3. Torture your lettuce. This is kind of disturbing. Your lettuce is still living. If you tear it up, it begins to produce higher amounts of anti-oxidants to protect itself from the horrors of your inhumanity.

On the downside, the torture makes it respire faster. I mean – wouldn’t you respire faster if someone was tearing you apart? So once torn, it won’t last as long. (Neither would you!). But if you plan to eat it in the next day or so, tear that ish up and watch the anti-oxidant levels rise.

Preparing Your Veggies

How you prepare your veggies has an enormous impact on their nutritional value.  Some nutrients are destroyed by heat. Some are enhanced by it.

Some fruits and veggies are made less nutritious through the process of freezing/thawing. Others (quick respirators) lose nutritional value so quickly that you are better off freezing them than not!

There is no universal best way to prepare your fruits and veggies. It all depends on the item in question, and perhaps on what your goals are.

BUT there is a nearly universal bad way to do it: Boiling!

Forget about the problem of heat. For most plants, boiling will leach water soluble nutrients into the boiling water. Unless you’re using that water in a soup, stew or broth, you’re basically losing those vitamins.

All of these tips come from one of my favorite books, Eating on the Wild Side by Jo Robinson.  You should check it out.  It’s a wonderful read.

For tips on carrots, see my post on How to Get 8X More Nutrition from Your Carrots
For tips on garlic, see my post Garlic, You’re Doing it Wrong.

If you have any tips like this, I’d love to hear them and share them 🙂

Happy Vegging!

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How to get 8 Times More Beta-Carotene from Your Carrots

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cool as a carrot

I love carrots. So obviously I hulked out with rage and excitement when I learned these easy tricks to maximize their nutritional content. This comes from one of my favorite books, “Eating on the Wild Side,” by Jo Robinson.

If you follow these steps, you can increase the nutritional value of your carrots by up to 800%. So do it!

  1. Choose mature carrots over baby carrots.

Baby carrots are not the same as human babies. They come from ugly looking mature carrots, with the outer parts cut off and thrown away. Come to think of it, they are kind of like human babies after all.

But here is why you have a problem. Like many fruits and veggies, the greatest concentration of anti-oxidants and nutrients in carrots can be found in the skin, as well as in the tissues immediately below the skin.

From an evolutionary standpoint, this makes sense. Anti-oxidants are needed in the outermost layers of the plant, so that it can best protect itself from pests and disease. And also from the growing influence of America’s far right.

Opt for regular mature carrots, and you will have access to the healthiest parts of the carrot.

2. Eat fresh rather than frozen carrots.

Unlike some other veggies, carrots lose much of their nutritional value when frozen or thawed. Opt for fresh carrots over frozen.

3. Steam or sauté your carrots rather than boiling them.

When you boil your carrot, some of the water soluble nutrients end up in the cooking water. Avoid this by steaming or sautéing your carrots.

You can also avoid some of this nutritional loss by cooking your carrots whole, and cutting them afterward.

4. Eat your carrots with fat.

A little bit of fat will help you absorb the most beta-carotene from your carrot. That’s because beta-carotene is fat soluble.

This makes me happy, because fat tastes like heaven.  Carrot flavored ice cream anyone?

Happy munching 🙂

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Garlic: You’re Doing it Wrong

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“I smell but I’m good for you.” – Garlic

We all know that garlic is good for you. But did you know that if you prepare garlic improperly, you may be destroying many of its health benefits?

Luckily, the fix is easy. And interesting. Because…..science.

Alliin + Allinase —> Allicin.

Fresh garlic contains a compound called alliin and an enzyme called allinaseThese two work together to produce a magical ingredient called allicin. If you aren’t a complete toolbag you probably want some  allicin in your life.

Allicin has antibacterial, anti fungal, and antiviral properties. Allicin even has antiprotozoal properties! I hear that vampires fear allicin. In nature, allicin protects the plant from a host of pests.

But Here’s the Problem

Unlike your terrifying stalker, allicin isn’t always  just there.  To produce allicin, you must smash together the two precursor ingredients (alliin and allinase). You can do this by chopping or crushing the garlic. Crushing is better.

From an evolutionary standpoint this makes sense. It’s physical distress which causes the anti-pest ingredient to kick into gear.

So when fresh garlic is chopped or crushed, allicin will form.

Heat Destroys Allinase 

Allinase, the enzyme needed to produce allicin, is destroyed by heat.  So if you crush garlic and throw it immediately into a hot pan or oven, you won’t get allicin.

Before you know it, you will be sad, old, and lonely – simply because you didn’t do garlic the right way. No one will be your friend, and no one will invite you to Mahjong.

The Fix

Raw Garlic
If you eat raw garlic, you’re fine. The mechanical action of your mechanical teeth is enough to crush the garlic. And because you are not exposing the allinase to high heat before the allicin has a chance to form, you are not ruining your whole life by preparing garlic the wrong way.

But if you cook your garlic, Behold!
Simply crush or chop your garlic, then let it sit for ten minutes at room temperature before exposing it to heat.

During this time, the allicin will have time to form. Once the ten minutes are up, you can prepare your garlic however you want without destroying the health benefits. Just don’t complain to me about your bad breath because I will pretend I do not know you.

Enjoy 🙂

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