Food Processes & Your Digestive Health

Hello my healthy bloggers!

So I am confident that you have all done your homework and cleared out most of the junk in your kitchens. From there I want to jump straight into the most important practice of quality nutrition, and that’s the way in which you cook your food. 90% of the time it is not what you eat, its how its prepared that makes it higher in calories, hard to digest, or lose nutritional value. These three things are the main focus of cooking and eating better.

Think of your body as a car. Food=Fuel. When you eat a slice of bread, the flour from the bread breaks down into sugar (glucose) in your body to provide you with energy. The same thing happens when you eat a piece of fruit, drink a glass of milk or eat a chocolate bar. Each of these foods contains a different kind of sugar. Fructose is a sugar in fruit, lactose is found in milk and sucrose is found in the chocolate bar. All of these sugars are broken down during digestion and provide you with energy. The higher quality energy, and the better it is prepared, just like gasoline, will predetermine your bodies ability to absorb nutrients and function not just efficiently, but exceptionally.

Lets start with vegetables. When it comes to nutritional value, boiling and steaming your vegetables makes them lose a remarkably high amount of vitamins. The saturation of heat from the long term high heat process breaks down all water soluble vitamins such as B6, B12, Vitamin C and thiamin, just to name a few. In their highest content, some of the most essential vitamins are found in fruits and vegetables, so those boiled and steamed carrots, broccoli and asparagus have basically lost all value once they hit your plate. From now on, try a better and essentially quicker form of cooking called ‘blanching’ which I will use in almost ALL cases when preparing vegetables.

Here’s what you need:

A small saucepot
Salt
A bowl of ice water
Small sauté pan dusted with 0 calorie non stick cooking spray

Boil the water with about 2 teaspoons of salt. Place whatever vegetables you wish to cook in the boiling salt water, no longer than a minute. Transfer vegetables into ice water to stop cooking process; reheat and season briefly in sauté pan before serving.
This method cooks the vegetables to a crunchy, slightly seasoned perfection. However, you have also preserved the nutrients in each product more so than if you had boiled as usual.

When it comes to digestive health, it’s the small changes that really make the difference. Food that is difficult to digest can directly effect, regenerate, or even cause any health issue from constipation to arthritis to heart disease to diabetes or fatigue. The goal is simple: Get food from point A (your mouth) to point B (the toilet) as quickly as possible while absorbing the maximum amount of quality nutrients available. When we eat foods prepared with unhealthy oils, unnecessary fats, sugars or carbohydrates, our body is justly challenged in its abilities to transfer any nutrients from the food into useable, quality energy. In addition, after any nutrients have been absorbed, these products and the processes in which they are commonly used are extremely hard for our body to get through our system in terms of waste, and can cause inflammation of the digestive tract, liver, colon, appendix and pancreas. This again, can be prevented with simple changes:

~ Use your non-stick cooking spray instead of oil to lubricate pots and pans. It’s just as effective.
~ Use what I call ‘smart’ sugars and sweeteners. agave necter instead of sugar in baking. Stevia extract in replacement of Sweet and Low and Equal.
~ Instead of frying that chicken breast in a pan with oil and all its fats, stick it on a broiling rack, dust with salt and pepper and little olive oil, and put it in the oven at 375 for 20 or so minutes, until done. It will be juicier and tastier than the fried version, but much better for you and easier on your body.
~ Regulate your intake of everything. If you aren’t cooking at home, order dressing on the side. Ask for no oil when ordering anything where it might be used. If you make a salad at home, grill up some chicken, throw in a splash of balsamic vinegar with some tomatoes and you have a perfect salad.

With that, lets move on to today’s recipe. I LOVE it because you can change it up to be whatever you want. Blend it, leave it chunky, make it spicy, keep it mellow, serve it cold, up to you! Get creative with your diet and make it work for YOU.

Kale Pea Soup

3    cloves garlic, sliced
1    Large carrot, diced
1    Sprig fresh thyme
1/4    Teaspoon crushed red pepper, or to taste
1    Large stalk celery, sliced
4    cups low sodium vegetable broth
1    15 ounce can diced tomatoes
5    cups kale leaves, stems removed
1    15 ounce can black eyed peas, rinsed

Instructions: Heat oil in large pot over medium heat. Add onion, celery, carrot and cook, stirring until just tender, 5-7 minutes. Add sliced garlic, thyme and crushed red pepper and cook, stirring frequently. After about 30 seconds, increase heat to high and add vegetable broth, tomatoes and the juice from tomato can. Bring to a boil, cleaning any bits off top of soup that float up. Stir in kale and black eyed peas, reduce heat to simmer, stir occasionally. Cook until greens are soft, about 5-10 minutes.

Serves: 4
Calories: 293.47
Cholesterol: 2.4 mg
Fat: 4.295 g
Saturated Fat: 0.782 g
Calories From Fat: 24.8
Protein: 16.603 g
Carbohydrates: 54.985 g
Sodium: 953.39 mg
Fiber: 11.370 g
Trans Fat: 0 g
Sugars: 4.687 g