One of my favorite undergraduate nutrition classes was Advanced Human Nutrition and Metabolism. The course definition includes: Physiological and biochemical basis for nutrient needs; assessment of nutrient deficiency and toxicity; examination of nutrient functions and regulation of metabolism; nutrient-gene interactions.
Basically we studied nutrients in food on the molecular level-what the molecules do in the body and why things go wrong sometimes.
Macronutrients are the nutrients that provide Calories and energy: carbohydrate, protein and fat
Micronutrients are nutrients that our bodies need in smaller amounts, don’t provide energy and include vitamins (i.e.: vitamin D or vitamin B6) and minerals (i.e.: calcium or iron).
I think I loved the course so much because I’m intrigued by the process of a whole piece of food from the grocery store going into the body, getting broken down into molecules and then those little nutrients go and do important things in the body.
But you can see how things can go wrong: the nutrients can be blocked from doing their job; maybe there aren’t enough of particular nutrients in the first place; maybe our body needs more of one nutrient at a certain time; genetics might disrupt a nutrient’s job; or maybe we have a disease or condition that inhibits the nutrients.
Here are five simple tips for making the most of the nutrients you eat so these little molecules can go where they are supposed to go and do what they are supposed to do:
- Eat high nutrient foods. Don’t stress about whether it is fresh, frozen or cooked. Just putting them in your mouth is the first step.
- Get a variety of colors in your food to get a variety of different nutrients.
- Eat healthy fats to improve absorption of certain vitamins.
- Cook with spices, especially pepper, to improve absorption.
- Educate yourself on different factors that promote or inhibit nutrient absorption and utilization.
Here are three recipes that are good examples of tasty foods that are particularly high in a nutrient or include a variety of nutrients. The next newsletter is going to talk about the relationship between our weight (healthy or unhealthy) and nutrient absorption and possible deficiencies.
Whole Wheat Blueberry Muffins for Absorption of Vit. C, B Vitamins and Calcium
Makes 12- 16
- 2 1/2 cups sprouted whole wheat flour or whole wheat flour
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1 Tbsp baking powder
- 8 Tbsp grass fed cow butter, softened
- 1/2 cup raw honey
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 1/2 cups plain whole milk yogurt
- zest and juice of 1 lemon
- 1 1/2 cups of blueberries (fresh or frozen)
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Line muffin tin with muffin liners.
- Mix together the flour, baking soda, and baking powder.
- In a separate bowl, beat the butter, honey, sugar, eggs, yogurt, lemon zest and juice.
- Slowly add the flour mixture to the butter mixture. Gently, fold in the blueberries.
- Spoon the batter into muffin tin and bake for 20 minutes until lightly brown on top.
Fishy Bites for Absorption of Healthy Fats
- 3 cans of wild-caught Salmon or Tuna (or combo of both)
- 3 large eggs
- 1 ts onion powder
- 1 ts garlic powder
- 1/4 c + 1/2 c flour (whole wheat or almond)
- 1/2 c shredded, unsweetened coconut
- 1/2 c of fat of choice
- salt and pepper to taste
- In a food processor combine 1/4 c almond flour, 1/2 c shredded coconut and some salt/pepper. Pulse a few times till the shredded coconut becomes crumb-size. Set aside on a plate. This is the coating.
- In a separate bowl, combine the fish, 1/2 c flour, onion & garlic powders, eggs, and some salt/pepper. Mix it with your hands until everything has been incorporated. The mixture should be wet enough from the eggs to mold into nugget shapes. If not, add another egg.
- In a saute pan (or 2 saute pans), melt coconut oil or your fat of choice over medium heat.
- Take about 2 tablespoons worth of the fish mixture and roll into the shape of a ball. Drop it into the flour/coconut mixture and roll the fish ball around with your fingers. Make sure it’s completely coated.
- Repeat with the rest of the fish mixture. Place in the saute pan and cook on each side until nice and brown.
Quinoa with Acorn Squash and Pomegranate for Absorption of Vit. C, Vit. K, B Vitamins and Several Minerals
- 3/4 cup of quinoa, cooked
- 1 acorn or kabocha squash
- 3/4 cup pomegranate seeds
- 1/4 cup raisins
- 2 teaspoons minced fresh parsley
- 2 scallions, green parts only, chopped
- 1/4 cup olive oil, plus more for roasting squash
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- Zest of half a lemon
- Salt and pepper
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.
- With a sharp knife, cut the top and bottom off the squash. Cut the acorn squash in half lengthwise and, using a spoon, scoop out the seeds. Cut each piece in half again lengthwise. Then slice each quarter lengthwise, creating 1/2 inch slices. Place squash slices into a bowl and drizzle with olive oil and a sprinkle of salt. Spread across the pan and arrange so each piece sits flat. Roast in the oven for 25 minutes.
- Meanwhile, make the dressing by whisking together the 1/4 cup of olive oil, the lemon juice, lemon zest, parsley, and scallions. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
- Once the acorn squash is finished, remove from the oven and let cool for a few minutes.
- Mix together the cooked quinoa, pomegranate seeds, raisins, and dressing in a big serving bowl. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
- Top with roasted squash pieces and enjoy!