Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Eat the yucky stuff?

Yeah, you should. Because it's good for you.

And actually, if done correctly, it tastes good, too.

Eat the Yucky Stuff

As a child, Kristine Hinrichs of Milwaukee routinely choked down boiled cabbage so she would be allowed to leave the dinner table. It wasn't until Hinrichs grew up and left home that she made a startling discovery: Cabbage was nutritious -- and could be delicious.


Turnoffs: Strong, fishy taste. Tiny bones. Reputation as a frugality food.

Turn-ons: High in vitamin D and loaded with omega-3 fatty acids, which protect your heart and brain. Lots of protein, calcium and selenium. Low on the marine food chain so toxins such as mercury don't accumulate. Inexpensive.

How to eat them: Avoid sardines packed in vegetable oil, which is high in pro-inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids. Try "a squeeze of lemon, toasted red chile, extra virgin olive oil and mixed green herbs over garlicky al dente whole-wheat fettuccine," said Dr. John LaPuma, a chef and the medical director for the Santa Barbara Institute for Medical Nutrition and Healthy Weight.


Turnoffs: When overcooked, produces the smell of rotten eggs. Too much cabbage may make you gassy.

Turn-ons: One cup of shredded, boiled cabbage has just 33 calories but has 4 filling grams of fiber. Loaded with phytochemicals, vitamins and minerals. May reduce your risk of cancer and has a protective effect on the brain. Fermented cabbage (sauerkraut and kimchi) is a non-dairy source of probiotics, or bacteria that have a health benefit.

How to eat it: Can be steamed, fried, boiled, braised or baked. Use it in corned beef and cabbage, soups and stews and cold dishes such as coleslaw, said registered dietitian Dave Grotto, a spokesman for the American Dietetic Association.


Turnoffs: Contain a slimy, jellylike substance around the seeds; thin skin, grainy pulp and seeds. Sweetness and acidity can vary.

Turn-ons: Lycopene-rich (red) tomatoes can help reduce your risk for heart disease and certain cancers, including pancreatic and prostate, said LaPuma. Cooked tomatoes -- including canned tomatoes and paste, juice, soup and ketchup -- contain up to eight times more available lycopene than raw tomatoes. Excellent source of vitamins A, C and K, and a good source of potassium, fiber and other phytonutrients.

How to eat them: Eating tomatoes with fat helps the body absorb their lycopene. The whole tomato has the greatest health benefits, so get the tomato paste products with peels, said LaPuma.


Turnoffs: Sulfurous smell.

Turn-ons: An abundance of antioxidants makes broccoli one of the healthiest vegetables you can eat. Aside from its anti-cancer properties such as sulforaphane, broccoli is a nutritional powerhouse that contains vitamins A, C and K, as well as folate and fiber. Has antibacterial properties.

How to eat it: Use it in dips, casseroles, soups, lasagna, stir- fry and salads, suggested chef Dana Jacobi, author of 10 best- selling cookbooks.


Brussels sprouts

Turnoffs: Parents or grandparents cooked them into oblivion. Sulfur content gives them an unappetizing odor.

Turn-ons: Has a higher concentration of glucosinolates, a type of compound believed to have cancer-fighting properties, than any other plants in the cruciferous vegetable family.

How to eat them: Trim the sprouts then toss with olive oil, salt and crushed garlic. Roast in a 400-degree oven for about 30 minutes until tender.

It's about that time again, yanno... time to make New Year's resolutions and all that stuff. We could all stand to eat healthy once in a while, right? I know I'm not exactly the best example for this... I love pork fat, I love dark meat... heck, I love FOOD. But there's no reason that the "yucky" stuff that's good for us can't also be stuff that we love.

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