This summer, Tom and I have been watching, the now retired TV series, Lost on HuluPlus. We are in the middle of season 5 with just one season left to go. If you’re not familiar with the show, the story takes place on an island where a plane and its passengers have crashed. The survivors make camp and must hunt and gather for their food, eating wild boar, fish and mangoes. In an early episode, one of the characters laments over peanut butter, which got me thinking…if I was on Lost, what foods would I miss the most. It’s safe to assume, those foods I would miss the most are probably the ones I enjoy the most, so here are my top ten…
1. Eggs & Bacon
I realize this is two foods and not one, but they usually go hand in hand, therefore they’re counting as one. Tom has been travelling a lot and I only have one kid home (who just happens to love E&B as much as I do), which means, we are going through dozens of farm fresh eggs each week. To be honest, I have yet to tire of E&B even after a decade plus of a low-carb lifestyle. I almost always pair my E&B with a green veggie like broccoli or kale chips. As far as health is concerned, I can’t say enough good things about eggs. They are one of the best sources of protein, complete with all nine essential amino acids, they are loaded with vitamins and nutrients and are rich in choline an essential nutrient for cardiovascular, brain and cell health. Here’s a little tidbit, you can share with your friends who don’t eat eggs because of the cholesterol, the choline found in eggs actually prevents the accumulation of cholesterol and fat in the liver.
As you can see from the picture of today’s breakfast above, I have been enjoying a couple servings of berries alongside my E&B each day. Strawberries, raspberries and blueberries mostly, but the occasional blackberry as well. I’ve also been eating them in my dairy-free blender ice cream and making berry variations of my upside down pie. Seriously, you can’t go wrong with berries, they are low in sugar and fructose and loaded with phytonutrients, which is just a fancy word to say they are chock full of compounds that promote good health. Berries are bery good for you.
If increasing your vegetable intake is important to you, then meet my friend the cauliflower. She transforms from a flavorless vegetable into a yummy rice by just frying with some tomatoes, onion, garlic and spices. Amazingly delicious. I’ve been eating bowl after bowl of Mexi “Cauli” Rice this summer with reckless abandon. Cauliflower is a cruciferious vegetable as is kale, broccoli, Brussels sprouts and cabbage. This family of veggies are potent cancer fighters and great for detoxification.
4. Ghee & Coconut Oil
My absolute favorite fats to use in cooking and baking are ghee and coconut oil. My cupboard is always stocked with both. In fact, I oftentimes have two containers of ghee in my pantry, one homemade ghee and one storebought ghee. That’s so I never run out. In addition to putting ghee on my veggies, I’ve been making a version of bulletproof coffee using both ghee and coconut oil. Trust me, it is to die for! It’s very simple, to a blender add 8-12 oz. hot brewed coffee, 2 tsp. ghee, 1 tsp. coconut oil, 14 drops NuNaturals Pure Liquid Vanilla Stevia and whiz on high until creamy and frothy. Oh. My. Word. It is really that good. Ghee is devoid of the milk proteins casein and whey which is great for someone like me who is sensitive to dairy. It is also rich in butyric acid which has antiviral and anticancer properties as well as suppresses inflammation in the gut. Coconut oil shares some of these same healing properties.
Speaking of coffee, I’ve been enjoying French press coffee all summer long and I don’t care if it’s blazing hot outside. We favor dark roast, rich and bold, coffee you can chew on around here. It is important to us to avoid pesticides and chemicals, choosing organic coffee when possible. If it’s fair trade as well, then double bonus. Lately we’ve been enjoying Allegro Organic Fair Trade French Roast, which is both. I don’t drink coffee with reckless abandon, instead I savor, and I really mean savor, (ask my husband), my one to two cups I indulge in each day. According to Dr. Jonny Bowden, aka The Rogue Nutritionist, “there’s no good reason to forgo reasonable amounts of coffee, unless you have a medical condition like hypertension”. In fact, coffee actually imparts some health benefits, as it is very rich in the antioxidants, chlorogenic acid and caffeic acid.
6. Grass-Fed Ground Beef
What would summer be without eating burgers hot off the grill? I don’t need anything fancy on my burger other then a little Celtic sea salt, ketchup and maybe some homemade mayo. We love the taste of the grass-fed pasture-raised ground beef from Whole Foods and always stock up when it’s on sale. In addition to eating grilled burgers, I’ve been adding it to my cauliflower rice for a beefed up version. Grass-fed ground beef is high in fat-burning and cancer-fighting CLA as well as inflammation reducing Omega-3′s. It is also a phenomenal source of iron, zinc and B vitamins.
7. Dark Cocoa
It’s no secret I love dark chocolate. Love, love, love it. Dare I confess, there isn’t a day that goes by, I don’t enjoy it. This summer, I’ve taken to making my own dark chocolate creations using my favorite Hershey’s Special Dark 100% Cacao Powder. You’ll notice in my recipe for Dark Chocolate Coconut Cups along with the dark cocoa, I use my favorite healthy fat friends, ghee and coconut oil. In a recipe I plan to share later this week I combine dark cocoa with coconut milk for a divine chocolate pudding. Cocoa powder is rich in flavanols which prevent fatlike substances in the bloodstream from clogging the arteries. Some studies have also found cocoa to reduce blood pressure and improve insulin sensitivity.
It is actually quite ridiculous the number of spices and herbs I have falling out of my kitchen cabinet. Just ask my friend and Baconista, Keri, who saw them all come tumbling out when I was making carnitas at a recent get together. I have a few favorites that I use on a daily basis, like my beloved Celtic sea salt, a new summertime favorite, Organic Kelp Granules and the best tasting stevia. Spices and herbs often times have more antioxidants than fruits and vegetables. However, it’s not just the antioxidants that make them healthy. Many spices and herbs contain compounds that truly are medicinal. In fact, Dr. Bharat B. Aggarwal, Professor of Cancer Research at the University of Texas, says, ”countless studies have linked culinary spices to the prevention and treatment of more than 150 health problems.”
I’ve been eating a few avocados a week as it is an ingredient in my summertime strawberry salad (another recipe I will share this week). Avocado is also a great topper to the Beefy Mexi “Cauli” Rice I mentioned above. I have even tossed avocado in my protein shake to add healthy fat and a creamy rich texture. My Registered Dietitian friend, Paul, likes to make bacon avocado sandwiches. That’s two slices of bacon with avocado sandwiched in between. It’s really good, you should try it. I’m half Mexican, so I suppose I was born to love avocados. This fruit is high in oleic acid, the same monounsaturated fat found in olive oil, which is known to lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of cancer and diabetes.
10. Mixed Salad Greens
And finally, it’s summertime, the season for salads. We go through a lot of organic salad greens around here. Good thing our Costco has a great price on the big tubs full of the organic green stuff. What I love about mixed salad greens is it is so simple to get in nutrient dense vegetables without having to clean, cook or chop. I just simply fill a bowl and top with my favorite dressing, Coconut Vinaigrette. Calorie for calorie, green leafy vegetables like spinach, red and green romaine, chard, arugula and radicchio, provide more nutrients than almost any other food on the planet.