As Vaughan would say, I’ve been a little radio silent for the past week or so. For those of you who don’t know, Vaughan shattered his tibia 2 Fridays ago playing kickball (although he likes to tell everyone it was from saving a kid from a shark). I instantly became a 24 hour a day nurse because he’s completely bed-bound (at least for another week and a half). I’ve really enjoyed taking care of him but I have to be honest, it took several days before I could get into a new routine. Nothing like your world being turned upside down over night. Fortunately, he has had the best attitude and in true Vaughan fashion is determined to get better quicker than usual. Healing, for time! Now, it’s a matter of constant care, attention and waiting. He’s lucky that he doesn’t have to have surgery, and as long as everything heals properly as it should, it will be a quick recovery. My cooking has had to instantly become more efficient and I have had to become even more of a planner since I still am working and refuse to completely give up crossfit in order to take care of him.
So how does this affect our Paleo routine and what does this have to do with my top 10 list? Well, I’m glad you asked! If you want to get straight to the list, just scroll to the bottom. If you are still with me, just keep following… There is nothing like an illness to bring out all of the baked goods and sweets. I’ve always realized that as a society we have a real affinity towards sugar when it comes to trying to make someone feel better, but I don’t think I’ve experienced it as much as I have these past weeks. Cupcakes, cookies, muffins, cakes, candy… Aaaand it keeps coming. Not to mention, a holiday being thrown into the mix. Now don’t get me wrong, we truly LOVE and APPRECIATE all of our friends and family and their thoughtfulness and concern. And trust me, as a baker at heart, I understand that baked goods are the first go-to as a gift for someone’s wellbeing… But, here is where we’ve come to a screeching halt…. I’ve had to change my thoughts in order to change my behaviors when it comes to food. I’ve really thought a lot over time about our connection as a society and individuals to food and why we go to certain foods during particular events, like celebrations and illness. We have to take a trip down memory lane to begin to understand our connection with food.
How do we use food? As a reward, to soothe, to comfort, to relieve, to decrease boredom and increase an experience. We did good in school and were rewarded with a cake. We celebrated a milestone in our family and went to a great restaurant. We played well in the soccer game and went after the game to get ice cream. We are also bombarded with messages telling us to eat. We are told we need a break and to reward ourselves with a candy bar (snickers). We have been brought up to believe that food (especially sugar) is a reward that is meant to make us feel better and comfort us… And guess what, it does. We have been programmed from an early age and that programming lives on (not to mention the chemical affect sugar has on our bodies that give us an instant rush). Now, when someone is ill or hurt, we bring them the one thing that seems to universally cheer up everyone. Sugar, Desserts, Sweets!
So I understand where this need to bring these indulgences to us comes from. And we truly appreciate the love that surrounds it. And I’m not going to lie, our forks did make it into a couple of them, but Vaughan has been really adamant about making sure he is focusing on healthy food. When I say “healthy for time” I’m not kidding. He is determined to be up and running faster then the usual recovery.. And with that attitude, there is no doubt he will. I know you are all wandering what then happened to all of the sweets we didn’t eat… Well, let’s just say our garbage and recycling guys are thanking us.
We know that sugar has an inverse affect on recovery and being that I’m very supportive of Vaughan’s recovery goal, I have chosen to dedicate our meals these next couple of weeks to some of what my research has lead me to believe are the healthiest foods of the season. The following 1o foods are full of nutrients and healing properties. Although he is eating more than just this list, we still are very strict on sticking to Paleo (No grains, no legumes, no dairy and no processed). Also, food quality is numero uno in our book so we purchase strictly organic, free range, hormone free and the such. So here is the list:
1. Kale: Kale is in full swing this season and has made it into my farmers market basket every week! It is number one on the ANDI Scale due to being packed full of nutrients (beta carotene, vitamin K, vitamin C, lutein, zeaxanthin, calcium), and it contains sulforaphane, which is a chemical with potent anti-cancer properties. For Kale to keep the highest amount of nutrients, it is best prepared by steaming, microwaving or stir-frying. Vaughan does enjoy my Kale chips, so those always make a regular appearance. You could also eat Kale raw but it is tough for some to digest. 2. Wild Salmon: A great source of Omega 3 fatty acids, which help to decrease inflammation, something Vaughan desperately needs right now. It also benefits your brain and nerves. In addition it is a good source of protein and quite yummy. I make Lemon Coconut Salmon and Salmon Cakes.
3. Strawberries: High in antioxidants and are another anti-inflammatory due to high levels of manganese. A great bonus to strawberries is their sweet taste with a very low sugar content. They are great by themselves or with a variety of dishes. My personal favorite treat is diced up strawberries with unsweetened coconut and walnuts.
4. Avocados: The monounsaturated fat is GREAT for the brain and heart and avocados help lower cholesterol. Also, nutrients from other foods are better absorbed when eaten with avocados. They are one of the best sources of vitamin E which promotes overall health and are also an excellent source of potassium. One of mine and Vaughan’s favorite uses for avocados is chocolate mousse. 5. Eggs: Not only are they high in protein, they contain all 9 essential amino acids. They also are a good source of choline which is an important nutrient that helps regulate the brain, nervous system, and cardiovascular system. In addition they are also one of the only foods that contain Vitamin D. This is something Vaughan really needs right now, especially since he is not getting much sun. Being that I have to fly out the door in the morning to make it to work and still feed and take care of him, on Sundays I make a batch full of my Egg McMuffins and nuke them for a quick breakfast in the morning. 6. Lemons: Just one lemon has more than your recommended daily dose of vitamin C. I prefer lemons to oranges for vitamin C because you don’t get that extra unhealthy does of fructose that comes as a side dish with oranges. Don’t worry, you don’t have to eat lemons from the peel. I tend to saute the veggies I’m cooking in lemon juice. I also use it in my salad dressing. They fight against infection, lower blood pressure and are found to be anti-carcinogenic. 7. Broccoli: Betcha saw this one coming. Broccoli is high in potassium, magnesium and calcium. It helps regulate blood pressure and is great for bone health. Broccoli is full of vitamins and minerals which help boost the immune system and fight off infection. Good no matter how you prepare it. Don’t throw away the stem which is full of the vital nutrients. Take a carrot peeler to it and then chop it up and cook it with the florets! 8. Apples: They contain boron and phloridzin which help with bone health. Apples are a good source of the B-complex vitamins as well as vitamin C and beta-carotene. They contain many antioxidents, some of which help prevent artery clogging.
9. Dark Chocolate: Just one-fourth of an ounce daily can reduce blood pressure in otherwise healthy individuals. Cocoa powder is rich in flavonoids, antioxidants shown to reduce “bad” LDL cholesterol and increase “good” HDL levels. The higher percentage the better. We go for a minimum of 70% and I am careful to choose chocolate that doesn’t contain Soy Lechitin. I will usually make paleo baked goods and add dark chocolate or unsweetened dark cocoa powder for its health benefits and yummy flavor.
10. Carrots: Carrots are believed to help fight against cancer due to a compound called falcarinol. They are effective in detoxifying the liver and help nourish the skin. Full of vitamins, they can help improve eyesight and reduce the risk of stroke. We include the stems in our meal when cooking the carrots. You can see my favorite carrot recipes here.