It's mid summer and it is the time to be out and about. Summer BBQs, drifting down rivers, potlucks. I love summer time. Recently though, it seems that whenever I’m at a social engagement, and people find out that I’m a holistic nutrition coach, I usually get a question or two about the latest nutrition trend. Usually it's about cholesterol, or cooking oils.... but the other day, I was at a potluck and I met a former sugar challenger in person for the first time, and he asked me, “what does a holistic nutrition coach have in the fridge right now?” What a great question! I decided to break up this answer into two posts, because I realized that each item needed a thorough explanation of why it has a permanent home in my fridge.
Must Haves in Your Fridge
1) Pastured Eggs: I always have pastured eggs in the fridge. Always. A good quality egg is one of the most complete foods that we can eat. After whey, it is the most absorbable form of protein. I recommend eating the entire egg, since most nutrients reside in the yolk (except the white has higher amounts of tryptophan which is vital for serotonin production) and are a great source for B vitamins (vital for energy), lecithin (great for the liver), and sulfur (great for skin, nails and hair). At the farmers market, I typically spend $6-8 dollars per dozen eggs, which can sound ridiculous to the usual $2 a dozen that you can spend on conventional eggs in styrofoam containers. Remember that those conventional eggs are full of antibiotics and toxins present in the feed that is given to the chickens. When I think that a dozen pastured eggs is the same price as 2 Double Lattes, then it seems like a steal. What about cholesterol? This study suggests that eggs can increase good HDL levels. And many advocates, such as Michael Pollan, are helping shed light that very few scientists actually still believe that dietary cholesterol affects blood cholesterol levels. Here's a quote from an interview with Michael Pollan: "There are still people who think that saturated fats are a problem because they do raise bad cholesterol, but they also raise good cholesterol. But there are very few people left who think that dietary cholesterol is a problem. There is a link between saturated fat and cholesterol in the blood. There is a link between cholesterol in the blood and heart disease. But the proof that saturated fat leads to heart disease in a causal way is very tenuous. In one review of the literature I read, only two studies suggested that, and a great many more failed to find that link. Yet the public is still operating on this basis that we shouldn’t be eating cholesterol."
2) Sauerkraut: Fermented sauerkraut is another Must Have for your fridge. It's a natural way to add healthy bacteria into your gut. Sauerkraut adds a lovely bit of tanginess to meaty, earthy dishes and can add some beautiful color as well. Sandor Katz is probably the most famous proponent of making your own sauerkraut, which is surprisingly easy and intensely affordable. Check out his website: http://www.wildfermentation.com/
3) Miso Paste: Miso is a Must Have because it's a fermented soy product that is a healthy dose of probiotic and it tastes amazing. There are studies on both sides of the debate on the ill effects of unfermented soy, but here is some information from the Westin A Price Foundation (a trusted source) that talks about the dangers of soy. Miso, however, is considered safe and an extremely health promoting food. This is a great article explaining the benefits. Buying organic is important when it comes to Miso, since almost all conventional soybeans are genetically modified.
4) Bacon (and bacon fat): Good quality bacon is amazing. A little goes a long way to flavor dishes. And according to an article in Wise Traditions, pork contains the highest amounts of all essential amino acids. Sometimes before I do a quick vegetable stir fry, I cook two pieces of bacon first, use the remaining bacon fat to cook the vegetables in, and crumble the bacon on top for flavor instead of using salt. It’s amazing! Some other good combinations are bacon wrapped dates, bacon wrapped scallops, and a good friend of mine just threw a bunch of vegetables in the oven and laid strips of bacon over top so that the fat could drip down and flavor the vegetables. Man.....what a great idea. I keep a jar of leftover bacon fat in the fridge and use it to flavor veggies, sear meats, pretty much anything. In terms of price, I typically pay $8 to $9 a pound. Quality is especially important in such a fatty cut such as bacon, which is really just sliced pork belly. Fat is where toxins are stored, so the cleaner that animal ate and was treated, the cleaner the meat.
5) Vegetables: Veggies! A must have! Staples in my fridge are always carrots, dark leafy greens (kale or collards), potatoes, beets, cauliflower, and broccoli. I’m lucky because these are almost always growing in California. Now because it’s summer, I have lots of green beans, summer squashes, and cucumbers. I try to make my dishes as colorful as possible, knowing that if I eat the rainbow then I have most of my bases covered! Stay tuned for other Must Haves in Your Fridge Part II! Happy Nourishing, Tammy Additional Resources: Ross, Julia, (2002) The Mood Cure. New York: Penguin Books.