Tag Archives: cooking

Nutrition: Key reading on healthy eating

I’ve spend many hours reading about good nutrition over the past couple of years and, through all of that reading, four books have really stood out for me. These are the four books I would like to recommend to you today:

Healthy at 100 – John Robbins

This book managed to convinced me (a born and bred carnivore) that a plant-based diet is the way to go – something which really is quite an accomplishment. The book contains lots of highly convincing arguments backed up by real science and really opened my eyes in many ways. It is rather long and contains a lot of detail, but take it slow and gradually work your way through. Your life will become significantly better (and longer) because of it.

50 secretes of the world’s longest living people – Sally Beare

There are two primary selling points about this book: a short, but still detailed account of some traditional communities where people often live to 100 without ever visiting a doctor and brief and highly readable descriptions of the 50 health secrets. The first selling point is great for motivating you to learn more and the second selling point makes this learning process very easy. Everyone will be able to quite easily implement quite a few of the 50 secrets in their own lives.

Ultrametabolism – Mark Hyman

Another great piece of nutrition research which will really open your eyes to the toxic junk that we label as food nowadays and motivate you to make some crucial changes. If you are looking to lose weight, this book also debunks a number of dangerous weight-loss myths and points out the right way to go about things. On the downside, the practical recommendations in this book will be hard to carry out for most people and the other books mentioned here are better in this regard.

The world’s healthiest foods – George Mateljan

This is essentially a cookbook blended with a nutrition thesis. The research in this book is quite impressive and discloses the entire process of selecting, storing, preparing and cooking a large number of already healthy foods in the healthiest way possible. Foods are ranked according to nutrient density and a full nutritional profile of each food is given. The recipes in the book are also simple, quick and tasty, making it ideal for anyone living a busy modern lifestyle.

So, there you go. Pick up these books for a miserly $50, read a few pages every night before going to sleep and watch your eating habits (and your health) improve as your understanding grows.

Nutrition example: Lunch recipe 4 – Vegetable soup

A simple vegetable soup is one of the quickest and healthiest things that you can prepare for lunch. It can also be surprisingly tasty and has therefore quickly grown to become one of my favorite lunches.

Before we get to the recipe though, I’d like to spend a few words on the impact that cooking has on vegetables. Prolonged exposure to very high temperatures (such as frying in oil) can destroy many nutrients, but shorter cooking at lower temperatures (such as boiling or steaming) can actually make the vegetables more digestible and enhance health benefits. In addition, nutrients such as water soluble vitamins can leach out of the vegetables during cooking.

When considering these facts, a vegetable soup is indeed a very healthy choice. Temperatures do not rise above 100 degrees Centigrade and cooking does not need to last for more than 10-15 minutes. In addition, all the vitamins that leach out into the water are eaten with the soup, so that is no problem at all. You really win all the way.

OK, now for the recipe (or perhaps rather the rough set of guidelines): 

Put a pot with some water on a hot stove plate.

While the water is heating up, slice up your favorite vegetables. You are really free to use whatever vegetable you want in whichever quantities you want. I mostly use green beans (for some protein), mushrooms (simply because of their awesome taste), sweet potatoes (because they are much healthier and tastier than normal potatoes), carrots (because they add some nice color to the soup) and onions (for flavor and health).

As you finish chopping the vegetables, add them directly to the pot and keep filling up the water level to keep it just on the same level as the vegetables. The order in which you add the vegetables does not matter.

By the time you finish the chopping process, the water should be close to boiling. Add a few blocks of dried low-salt chicken or vegetable bouillon/broth/stock and olive oil to bring out the taste.

When the pot begins boiling, put on the lid and reduce the heat to just keep the pot at a gentle boil. Set the timer for 10 minutes.

After these 10 minutes of boiling, use a fork to see if the vegetables are soft and take a few taste tests. Add any additional flavoring that might be necessary.

Preparation time: 10 minutes. Cooking time: 10 minutes.

I usually make a big pot that gives me six lunches – one of which I eat right away and five of which I freeze for heating and eating at a later stage. I also always have a slice or two of whole wheat bread on the side to dip in the soup. It really tastes great and adds some more protein to your lunch.

Enjoying your healthy food

Up to now, I have not tried to give any specific instructions with regards to the specific foods you should buy and I’m not going to start doing that now either. Even though I will provide some specific details about my own nutritional environment later on only as an example, the specific foods you buy will depend on you and you alone. 

It is absolutely essential that you enjoy eating the healthy foods that you bring into your home. And to make that happen, you need some good recipes. Now don’t worry, I’m definitely not suggesting that you have to become a gourmet chef, but you have to learn a few quick, healthy and delicious recipes. The most complete resource on this topic that I’m aware of is aptly called “The World’s Healthiest Foods” and contains many such recipes as well as a whole lot of vitally important information on healthy eating and cooking. Otherwise, just type “quick healthy recipes” into Google to find tons of options. And if you really want to do this right, enroll in a healthy cooking course. 

Your resulting collection of quick and easy healthy recipes will form a central part of your nutritional environment simply because they will actually determine the foods on your shopping list. Yes, this will need a little bit of study and practice in the kitchen, but trust me; this small investment will pay for itself a thousand times over in the future. Just do it. You may just be surprised at how much you actually start enjoying it when the pieces of your new nutritional environment really start to fit together.

An obvious additional implication of this part of your nutritional environment is to totally abstain from junk food. Convenience is a big selling point of fast food and the primary reason for this is simply because the vast majority of us are totally useless in the kitchen. If you equip yourself with only five or six healthy and delicious recipes that you can whip up in 15 minutes from the wide range of healthy ingredients that now populate your fridge and cupboards, you will suddenly find that you have totally eliminated your dependence on junk food. 

We seriously need to take back control over what we put in our bodies. As seen above, people are totally losing the skill of preparing their own food. This is a significant problem simply because the vast majority of ready-made food available within our macro-environment today is very unhealthy. It is the job of the micro-environment you now are creating to protect you against this evil.

You are what you eat. Take control. Eat healthy. Be healthy.

File under: Health – Nutrition