Dining for Health

Posted on April 29, 2013. Filed under: Eat these! | Tags: , , , , , , |

My husband and I had an outstanding dining experience at Laurelhurst Market in Portland, OR this weekend. Laurelhurst features all natural, hormone free, antibiotic free meats and works with local farmers and food providers whenever possible. I have a handful of favorite restaurants in the city, but Laurelhurst has been on the top of my list for a while, not only because their food is so healthy and pleasurable,  but also because they consistently serve some uncommon items I like. Take a look:

  • Marrow Bones with Toasted Soft Pretzel, Pickled Mustard Seeds
  • Chicken Fried Veal Sweetbreads with Salsify Puree, Endive & Apple Salad, Maple Gastrique
  • Shrimp & Grits with Pan Seared Scrapple, Braised Tasso, Cauliflower Chow Chow, Spring Shoots Salad
  • Steak Tartare with Vodka, Chives, Shallot, Salt Cured Egg Yolk
  • Mussels Frites with White Wine, Garlic, Pea Shoots, Herbs

We’ll be talking a whole lot about food on this blog. After 7 years of studying as a hobby the intersection of food and health, I’ve come to believe we accidentally replaced food with pharmaceuticals. As we moved away from real food and towards processed foods, we unknowingly removed all of the natural substances in our diets that kept things like inflammation low and cholesterol and sugar levels normal. As our cholesterol levels and rates of diabetes rose, we looked to the medical profession to fix them. Instead of counseling us on our diet-the real problem-the medical profession prescribed us drugs, each with their own consequences. I’m not saying that medications don’t have their place. On the contrary, I am saying it is time to put both medications and REAL food back in their proper place.

In my first blog post I shared a video about a physician who has made great strides in healing herself of MS primarily by feeding her cells the nutrients they crave. She researched all the deficiencies associated with an MS biology and identified the foods that had those nutrients and created a diet. Here are some of the nutrients in the foods I ordered at Laurelhurst that I seek to feed my cells on a regular basis.

Marrow Bones
While not common in the standard American diet (SAD), bone marrow has a solid culinary history. Anyone with bone and joint issues (arthritis, anyone?) should consider consuming bone marrow in its variety of forms (i.e., marrow bones, bone broth) on a regular basisbone marrow since it is full of glucosamine, collagen, minerals and vitamins necessary for good bone and joint health. Bone marrow’s amino acid content is highly supportive of neurotransmitter production for anyone wanting a high functioning brain through old age.

Sweetbreads are neither sweet nor bread, but they are delicious when prepared right. Often made from the pancreas of a calf, sweetbreads are thought to have a sweeter flavor than the usual savory-tasting muscle meat many of us usually eat. When you think of organ meats (which sweetbreads are), think minerals: calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, zinc, copper, manganese and selenium. Unless you are eating a diet filled with vegetables organically farmed in mineral rich soil-a tall order for most of us-you are not likely to be getting all of the minerals your body needs. Sweetbreads are an outstanding source of vitamin A, the kind that saves your vision as you age. (Side note: Those dandelions we are so fond of poisoning with herbicides? They are also an excellent source of vitamin A.) Sweetbreads are also a good source of iron and many of the B vitamins and are also a complete protein source.

There are lots of reasons to enjoy shrimp. Shrimp has a nice dose of iron, is a complete protein source (meaning shrimp contains all the essential amino acids in the proper proportions), is a good source of omega-3 fatty acid due to all the plankton they eat and a good dose shrimpof brain friendly B12. It is another good source of a wide range of minerals, including an excellent source of selenium, which is important for those with thyroid issues. Now my favorite reason to enjoy shrimp (and lobster) is for it’s astaxanthin content. Research is showing astaxanthin to be a potent antioxidant beneficial in cardiovascular, immune, inflammatory and neurodegenerative diseases.

Steak Tartare
Grass fed animals have a far better omega-3 fatty acid content than non grass fed meats (this supports cell membrane function) and eating red meats rare is the best way to absorb the L-carnitine in the meat. L-carnitine has a number of benefits including helping cells use fatty acids as a form of energy, improving muscle strength and decreasing oxidative stress, the number one contributor to the negative aspects of the aging process.

Because they eat all that nice sea plankton, mussels are also high in omega-3 fatty acids. Generally speaking, organ meats-including mussels-are nutritional powerhouses. Mussels offer a nice dose of vitamin C and iron, a healthy dose of B2 and are very high in B12. The lower Bs are especially important for cellular energy production and use and B12 is essential for making the myelin sheath on musselsnerve cells. And, because of their balance of fatty acids, antioxidants, and glycemic impact they are highly anti-inflammatory. Like shrimp, mussels are also a complete protein. Last, but not least, mussels are chock full of minerals, especially manganese and selenium.

This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the nutritional information I want to share with you about these and other foods and their various nutritional elements. I suspect I’ll end up doing individual posts on a variety of nutrients and their food sources so you can start thinking about how to put together meals that meet the needs your body is telling you it has. In the meantime, I will share this link to Nutrition Data, a tool I use constantly as it provides some of the most accurate and comprehensive nutrition analysis available on the web. You can enter a food name in the search bar and learn an amazing amount of information about it’s nutritional value all in one place.


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[…] I said we would spend a lot of time talking about food on this blog and I think it makes sense to start with the basics. […]

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