The Secret Lives of Vegetables
Everything You Didn’t Know About Your Vegetables
by Sandy Swegel
This would be a better title for this fantastic new book that tells you how to double or even triple the nutrient value of your organic vegetables. At a time when it seems like grocery store prices are doubling and tripling, this seems like a good thing to know.
The book is Jo Robinson’s, Eating on the Wild Side and it’s currently on the talk show/podcast/magazine circuit….but read everything you can. It’s a new level of thinking about our vegetables and how we prepare them.
The short list of things I learned:
Eat wilder. Food closer to its original form. Foods that are more bitter. Eat the skins (mostly) just like your parents taught you. Foods that are deeper in color (like our purple carrots!)
Cook your food…but carefully. I juice a lot of things and eat them raw even though that’s not how they always taste better but because I thought it was better for me. Not true. Many vegetables become more phytonutrient or antioxidant-rich after you cook them.
Here’s the “secret life of vegetables” part: your food continues to “live” after it’s harvested. Your vegetables are “respiring” on your counter or in your refrigerator. Some even continue to grow. There’s definitely a sci-fi movie in this. Some of your food changes even after it’s cooked.
The top four things I’m going to use immediately.
1. Best way to eat lettuce. Bring it in from the store or field. Wash. Dry. Cut or tear (doesn’t matter which) into bite-size pieces. Refrigerate. It will be more nutrient-rich tomorrow than today.
2. Potatoes. I’ve inherited my mother and grandmother’s tendency to adult-onset diabetes and have to be careful with sugar. Potatoes are supposed to have a high glycemic index so I quit eating them, even though I love them. Robinson gives instructions for cooking them and letting them sit in the refrigerator for a day to reduce the carb load by 25%. Turns out potato salad can be good for you. God, I love this book.
3. Canned vegetables aren’t the lowest form of vegetable. Tomatoes and blueberries are both higher in nutrients after canning as long as the BPA-free cans are used. 4. If you buy broccoli, eat it on the first day. It goes down quickly in nutrient quality.
So buy the book or get all the free info in many ways: Read parts of it at Barnes and Noble like I did last night. Listen to NPR this weekend on The Splendid Table. Read the magazine interviews and watch the videos she lists on her website. You’ll learn so much that you can annoy your meal companions with trivia for months.
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