That’s right, we said it. Pizza can be good. And while we may have overstated it a bit, there are times when salads are not the best choice. What wacky wonderful world have you been dropped into, you might ask? It’s the same world you wake up to everyday where one week a food is declared a menace then lauded as a health wonder the next. We hold the radical belief that not all carbs are bad. That one diet does not fit all. That a particular food is rarely the enemy of health or its greatest champion. Let’s take salad as an example.
If you’ve ever read a diet book or watched a late night, high powered blender infomercial, you’ve heard that the key to shedding pounds is raw foods. Salads and smoothies have their place in a healthy diet but they are not always the best choice. The type of raw vegetable, strength of your digestive system and even the time of year can affect whether raw is right for you. Traditional Chinese Medicine tells us that fruits and vegetables in their raw state create a condition of dampness in the body. Let’s take the weight loss diet staple celery as an example. Celery can be described as cold, wet, and fibrous. Its signature crunch is the result of high amounts of cellulose which give the plant a rigid structure and supplies us with a mega dose of fiber; however, we need strong teeth to break down those fibers and a hearty digestive system to utilize it properly. If your digestive system is sluggish or compromised, a stalk of celery is not your best choice. There are ways to prepare the celery so that you can get the nutrients it has to offer and we will discuss that more below. Meanwhile, let’s explore the interesting idea that the time of year you consume raw vegetables makes a difference in their value to your health.
Traditional Chinese Medicine tells us, our health is optimized by living in harmony with nature and that logic is sound. You have no doubt noticed that in the colder months when the days are shorter you tend to slow down and conserve your energy. You gravitate toward warming foods like soups and stews and away from the fresh, crisp and cold vegetables you crave in the spring and summer. We encourage you to follow these instincts and reduce your intake of raw foods. Obviously, foods consumed in their natural state are extremely beneficial, so if you do want to consume raw fruits and vegetables in the colder months, consider these methods for making it easier on your body.
Blend them: Pulverizing your food in a blender is far more effective at breaking down fibrous raw foods than chewing them. The better they are broken down, the better you will digest them so if your digestion is compromised blending is a good choice. Try these delicious and nutritious Green Drink Recipes.
Marinate them: Soaking your raw vegetables in citrus juice or vinegar breaks down tough cell walls, increases the digestibility of raw foods and enhancing the favor to boot! Try these tasty cucumber salad recipes.
Ferment them: Whether you buy them already fermented or do it yourself, this method of breaking down high fiber produce steps up the health value of the food by creating a chemical reaction that produces healthy bacterias to support the digestive system. This is an age old practice of preserving foods that has become one of the healthiest things we can have in our diet. Some of our favorites are Bubbies pickles and sauerkraut and Farmhouse Culture’s kimchi.
Sprout them: The process of sprouting raw nuts, seeds, beans, and grains could not be more in keeping with the natural processes of Mother Nature. Nuts, beans and grains are all seeds created by plants to ensure there will be more of nature’s bounty in the seasons to come. In there dormant state, nuts, seeds, beans and grains are designed to be indigestible. In order to protect the seeds vital nutrients until they are needed to begin the growth process, nature coats them in chemicals that resist digestion. Once the sprouting process begins the nutrients become available for use. So sprouting is the key to getting the most from seeds and it’s easier than you think.
We picked pizza to talk about because it’s a fan favorite and is often demonized. But, if approached properly, pizza can be a great way to amp up your nutrition while satisfying your comfort food craving. What is pizza is really? It’s a sturdy platform for delicious toppings. Why not use it as a way to power pack some nutrients into family pizza night? You can rethink everything from crust to sauce to toppings and make yourself a guilt-free, delicious treat.
There are fantastic, healthy crusts on the market from gluten-free to sprouted grain. Check your local grocery or online for some items you may have been overlooking or try out a homemade cauliflower crust. Take a look at this 2 part video for step by step instructions.
Tomato sauce is so overdone. Why not try a delicious basil pesto sauce and get some extra green on your slice? A simple drizzle of good quality olive oil and fresh crushed garlic can take your pizza to gourmet status and the nutrition value to the next level.
Forgo the usual chemical-laden processed meats and cheese and stack on some flavorful veggie toppings. Try topping that pesto pizza with kalamata olives, artichoke hearts and marinated mushrooms for a gourmet italian flavor. Love pepperoni? Try this flavor combination to trick your taste buds while avoiding clogging your arteries. Top your traditional red sauce with briny green olives and thinly sliced pickled banana peppers. Sprinkle on some crushed red pepper flakes and you have guilt-free “pepperoni” pizza. If you’re looking for an alternative to difficult to digest cheese, why not try some of the vegan cheese options in your local grocery. Tip: Vegan cheese is often located in the produce department. We like Diaya and, if you can find it, Miyoko’s Vegan Mozz is fantastic. Her site has a recipe so you can even make your own.
We are on a mission to help you free yourself from healthy food fads and embrace your innate food wisdom. Not all things are healthy for all people all of the time. The more you listen to and trust your body’s messages about what is “good for you” the healthier you will be. So if a salad seems like cold comfort and a pizza loaded with nutritious vegetables feels right, skip the raw and have a slice.