I have just finished reading Dr. Mark Hyman’s best-selling book, “FOOD, What the Heck Should I eat?” In his role as the Director of the Cleveland Clinic’s Center for Functional Medicine, he believes food plays a powerful role in not only healing our body, but is our best chance for lifelong (aiming into the 100’s!) health. He gives you ample to think about when evaluating your current nutritional health: maybe cow’s milk is not the gold standard for calcium intake and overall health, grass-fed butter should be your friend, eating small amounts of grass-fed lamb or beef is really great for brain health, buy ONLY wild-caught fish, preferably from Alaskan waters and the smaller the fish, the safer, white potatoes aren’t much better for you than white bread, eat the rainbow every single meal, the more color, the greater the offense in fighting disease. Nutritional winners are usually the vegetables less likely to make it into your shopping cart like Brussel sprouts, red cabbage, fresh herbs, sweet potatoes, radishes and purple carrots. As a side note, God certainly had a plan in nature, vegetables with the brightest colors attract the insects and animals most effective at dispersing their plants seeds and the brighter the hue, the greater the percentage of minerals and vitamins for humans. Some other fun facts: frozen berries often have higher levels of nutrients than fresh, eat the egg yolk (it’s manna for the brain), there’s more potassium in an avocado than a banana, choose wild blueberries to detox the brain and increase memory, the fat found in coconut oil, avocados and olives are beauty boosters, and a handful of raw almonds or walnuts is the best snack on the go!
After reading Hyman’s book, we have incorporated grass-fed lamb into weekly rotation, switched from farm-raised to wild Alaskan salmon, snack on frozen blueberries, drink less cow’s milk, enjoy lots of apples smeared with fresh-ground almond butter, eat boiled or poached organic, pasture-raised eggs for breakfast, watch the “cheap” sugar intakes, bake with almond flour, limit “white” foods, use apple cider vinegar in salad dressings, and take probiotics!
Following is a family favorite weekly dinner recipe that feels like we are “eating the rainbow!”
Mason Taco Night
The kid’s like taco night because I give them lots of healthy choices and even the two-year old gets to design his own taco. We are not perfect at our house. There are always gives and takes for taste and nutrition. For example, we have tried every brand of tortilla and although “white” and not the healthiest on the market, we prefer the Trader Joe’s homemade white flour tortillas. I set the table with a bowl of both white and brown rice, guess who eats which! And all of us love Trader Joe’s shredded mozzarella cheese. With that said, the kids have no idea that the lettuce that I have fancy-chiffonaded is actually spinach. I mix in fresh herbs at every chance; in the bowl of greens and my home-made guacamole. I usually prepare the chicken on my Creuset grill pan on the stovetop with lots of fresh-squeezed lemon or orange juice, fresh herbs, olive oil, salt and pepper. The tacos feel gourmet with my simple recipe for red cabbage slaw and roasted sweet potatoes with cilantro! With eight mouths to feed and our “spinning top” busy lives, my dinners are quick to prepare, use fewer than five ingredients, all of which are fresh and colorful.
Red Cabbage Slaw:
1/2 head of red cabbage, washed and chopped at a diagonal
2 cups of fresh spinach, chiffonade
1 cup of washed and chopped Italian parsley
A handful or two of chopped fresh mint (optional)
I dress the salad right before serving with apple cider vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper and then a generous drizzle of honey or maple syrup. (You can certainly make the salad dressing in a bowl and store in the refrigerator for other uses. Apple cider vinegar is so good for you!)
As my family can attest, for as many years as I have walked this planet, I have detested sweet potatoes. Two months ago, after reading Hyman’s plug for the “orange potato,” I set about to create a recipe I could muscle. It has become a fan favorite.
3 sweet potatoes, washed and chopped like french fries.
Place them on a parchment-covered baking sheet, generously drizzle with olive oil and Kosher salt and bake at 450 for 15 minutes. I like them a little crispy.
Let them cool and then generously dress with grated Parmesan Regianno, a cup of chopped fresh cilantro, juice from one lime, and black pepper! I have started making these many nights a week!
Organic chicken tenders
Juice from 1 Meyer lemon or orange
Fresh thyme or rosemary
olive oil, salt and pepper
Toss on the grill or a grill pan on the stovetop.
Guacamole: (the “fountain of youth” fruit) You can make your homemade guacamole as simple or fancy as you like
generous glug of olive oil
1 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Juice of 1-2 limes
fresh cracked pepper
Additional taco ingredients (each in their own individual bowls)
White or brown rice, after rice is steamed, stir in several pats of grass-fed butter and salt
Chopped fresh tomatoes with olive oil and Kosher salt
Chopped fresh spinach
Cooked lentils with Italian parsley and lime
Grated cheese of your liking
*My son Charlie is charged with making the nachos!
Here’s to eating the rainbow!