The World’s Healthiest Things and Me

I eat my fair share of salt-cured pork products. I like sprinkling my food liberally with flaky sea salt. I enjoy rib eye steaks, and I’m a fan of potato chips and ice cream. But I also eat a good amount of some of the world’s healthiest things. And not because I should, but because I like them.

sardines

There are many healthy things I do not like. You won’t find me saddling up to the wheat grass bar, nor spreading I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter on my gluten free quinoa bread. Grape Nuts are for squirrels. But here are some of my favorite world’s healthiest things, why I like them, and what I do with them:

Kim chee
I keep a jar of kim chee in the fridge at all times, and often pop it open and snack on a few bites. I love its exotic, garlicky, fermenty, spicy zing. And they say it can help with everything from digestion to the immune system to your mood. I like to think it’s an aphrodisiac too (but then again, what isn’t?).

• Carrots
My go-to snack. Ummm, when I’m not eating cheese puffs, that is.

• Green tea
I drink two cups of green tea every afternoon. I love its clean, grassy taste. And I figure if I do nothing else right foodwise the rest of the day, I’m still in ahead of the game.

• Skinless chicken breast
This can be one of the world’s worst pieces of meat — as evidenced by that dry hunk of barbecue-smothered chalk that sat on the grill for 45 minutes you’ve been served at summer parties. But brine that same breast in salted water for a couple hours, coat in panko bread crumbs, pan grill in some olive oil for 10 minutes a side, slice and drizzle with lemon juice and some sprinklings of Maldon salt… and you’ve got a juicy, world-class entree.

• Beets
I’m not talking about your mother’s beets — the stuff of children’s holiday nightmares, often slid from a can in waxy discs. Fresh beets come in a variety of colors — the classic ruby red, golden, candy-striped, pink. And when boiled in water, peeled and cut into cubes, and paired with arugula, crumbled gorgonzola, rice wine vinegar and olive oil, and candied walnuts, they make one of the best salads ever.

• Kale
Especially Tuscan black kale — or cavolo nero. Sauté with some olive oil, crushed red pepper and a couple anchovies… and tell me this isn’t candy for grown ups! (Serve it with that chicken breast I just talked about right above.)

• Fresh sardines
Forget those terrifying little tins from your childhood. Fresh sardines are delicious and inexpensive, their stock is abundant in the ocean, and they’re packed with one of the highest concentrations of those omega-3 fatty acids you’re always reading about. If you live on the West Coast like I do, you can get them fresh from local waters! I flour them, pan-fry them in olive oil, then pickle them in the fridge in white balsamic vinegar, garlic and mint. A traditional Italian preparation that keeps for weeks. Speaking of olive oil…

• Olive oil
When I used to be roommates with my skinny yoga teacher sister, Laura, she would practically drink olive oil. I used to laugh, but now I emulate. People along the Mediterranean pour it on everything — and live to be 120. There’s alchemy in that liquid gold.

Wild salmon
Same good stuff as sardines. Same healthy wild stocks, in Alaska in particular.

And finally, for dessert:

• Dark Chocolate
Do you really need to be convinced to eat dark chocolate? Besides the complex, wine-like deliciousness, dark chocolate is loaded with antioxidants and can lower your blood pressure. I try to eat a chunk every night after dinner. Just for my health, of course…

Perhaps equally important from a health perspective are those things I never eat or drink: sodas, Carl’s Jr. $6 hamburgers, anything from TGIF or Cheesecake Factory, ice-blended coffee drinks, frozen pre-made meals, canned vegetables, energy drinks, anything with “Firecracker” in its name, anything from a restaurant in a “large” size (other than beer).

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10 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. mom
    May 10, 2011 @ 00:33:26

    Try tossing your kale in OO and salt and baking it until it’s crispy. Cool and eat like potato chips. Just as good, only better.

    Reply

  2. Monica
    May 10, 2011 @ 17:06:34

    people thinking butter is unhealthy is a very common misconception. they think that butter and saturated fats are the reason heart disease is one of the top killers in this country, but the truth is that it’s not the natural fats that are causing this. its the sugar, processed and packaged foods and over usage of refined oils. i love butter! the fake stuff taste like crap~not even close to butter.

    Reply

  3. Leo Griffin
    May 10, 2011 @ 19:08:31

    An excellent and delicious list. Beets are fabulous in salads, or roasted in a foil pouch with wine, herbs and garlic…but they are also a surprisingly great base ingredient for a cake. Their natural sugar helps sweeten the cake, and their color makes a ‘red velvet’ cake without food coloring. I recommend adding some dark chocolate to make it even healthier!

    Reply

  4. Andy
    May 11, 2011 @ 01:12:01

    Monica is correct!

    Reply

  5. g
    May 11, 2011 @ 21:30:10

    check on all of it.

    The weirdest delicious thing I ever had was a sardine and beet sandwich. Totally weird, but totally good.

    Reply

  6. Ben
    May 13, 2011 @ 00:19:01

    Sardines . . . so hot right now. But that’s not your fault and I’m sure you liked them before they became so.

    I’ve always been scolded to roast beets but it’s a pain in the ass and it heats up the kitchen. Do they really come out just as good when they are boiled and peeled instead of dry roasted. I must know! Tell me! Tell me! A summer of many more beets awaits if this fantastic rumor is true.

    Reply

    • scolgin
      May 13, 2011 @ 01:03:05

      It sucks to be ahead of the curve. I remember spanish chorizo/butter poached lobster/small plates/crudo/bleu cheeseburgers/etc. before the entire world discovered them. Can it be long before guanciale shows up on the Olive Garden menu? Such is our sad fate…

      Re: beets, roasted are great. But they really lose nothing in boiling, and are a bit more subtle in a salad. Give it a shot, let me know what you think.

      Reply

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