By Carmen Daigle, RHN
Planting time is here, and with this I think of things like hope, and growth, and wonder… The marvel of a tiny seed growing to something infinitely more complicated and wondrous. How does this happen? How does nature know exactly how to do this? We aren’t quite sure yet. At least not 100% sure. Which is why I still tend to err on the side of nature when choosing food to nourish my body.
The world of nutrition science can be a wild and scary place. Trying to isolate each molecule of the latest ‘super food’, so we are aware of how truly spectacular this fruit or vegetable or nut or seed is for us. And no doubt they ARE good for us. But I wonder if our ancestors held an apple in one hand and a goji berry in the other, and wondered which one has more antioxidants, or anti-cancer-fighting properties? They were likely more concerned about whether they could collect and eat, and then store enough while they were available. Because there might not be any in a month, and it would be a shame to waste the opportunity.
With the abundance of grocery stores filled with produce from literally all over the world, we don’t have that problem. But I’m not sure our bodies are better off because of it. The beauty of nature, besides the actual VISUAL beauty (!) is that it creates food that works. It works in our bodies to fight disease, to build immunity, to promote growth, repair and energy. When we take a ‘whole’ food apart, and then put some of the pieces back together (‘enriched’ food), or take the components of a food we know about and put them in pill form, it doesn’t work the same.
For example: when people are given the fiber and water that is equivalent to that found in an apple, it is found to not be as effective against bowel disorders as simply eating the apple. Which poses the question: is it the fiber that actually prevents disease, or how the fiber interacts with some other nutrient in the apple? We don’t know yet, but lucky for us, somehow the components in an apple work synergystically to do this without our knowing.
Which brings me back to the abundance of food out there… How do we choose? Aside from choosing food that is closest to it’s original form as possible (whole food), I like to take real advantage of what’s in season. Nature knows (miraculously) that in the spring we need food that is cleansing to help flush out a long winter of heavy foods and a more sedentary lifestyle. So in comes arugula, and spinach and asparagus… all foods that are bitter and help our bodies to detox naturally. In the fall, we’ll have berries and apples and squash – all high in vitamin C and other antioxidants to prepare us for winter when our immune systems need a boost. How cool is that?!
So arm yourself with curiosity, and ask your local grocer or farm market producer for some local asparagus, or rhubarb, or spring greens and reap the goodness that Mother nature intended! And if you find some lovely asparagus, here’s my favourite simple recipe to get you started. And while you’re at it, find some local wild halibut – also in season right now, and add a simple mango bean salsa… yum!!
You can also visit my website, where I’ll soon be adding a weekly food blog with recipes and videos. www.carmenscuisine.ca
Or join me at my ‘Carmen’s Cuisine’ Facebook page for recipes, community and conversations about delicious AND healthy food that is easy to prepare! http://www.facebook.com/pages/Carmens-Cuisine/255714531173372
Spring Asparagus w/ Garlic and Parmesan
1 bunch fresh asparagus, washed
3 large cloves of garlic, minced
1-2 Tbsp olive oil or butter
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
- Trim the woody end of the asparagus by snapping it off. Peel the large ones at the bottom with a potato peeler. Steam the asparagus until crisp tender when pierced with a fork.
- Meanwhile, in a frying pan on low, heat the olive oil or butter, then add the garlic. Gently sauté until the oil/butter has taken on the garlic flavour.
- Add the asparagus and toss to coat. Add some salt and pepper.
- Squeeze the lemon over the veggies.
- Turn off the heat and sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese. Serve immediately.
Notes: for a vegan version – use olive oil for sauteeing, and nutritional yeast to sprinkle on top.
Carmen Daigle is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist and Personal Chef, and the owner of Carmen’s Cuisine. She is happiest when cooking, surrounded by friends, and in nature – and feels extremely lucky when all of those 3 things happen together! She has just finished a little cookbook called “Spring & Summer Favourites” where you can find this recipe and 45 pages more.