In this series we look at cooking and your diet from a different perspective. Usually we emphasize the health benefits of food and how they can be incorporated into your diet. But, what happens if you do NOT include them in your diet.
After the summer we will pick up the series with Vitamin D and minerals that are essential to our health.
We wanted to share with you what happens if your body is deprived of individual nutrients over an extended period of time.
Thankfully most of us eat reasonably well, with plenty of variety, but if you take a look at a week’s worth of meals, do you find that you are sticking to a handful of foods, all the time.
Variety is key to good health, to provide your body with as broad a spectrum of nutrients as possible that the body needs. Taking a supplement or relying on shakes and bars to provide your daily allowance of vitamins and nutrients is not in your body’s best interest. Giving it foods that the body can process and extract everything it needs is vital.
Over the next few months we are going to be working our way through the most essential of these nutrients and I will share the symptoms that you might experience if you are becoming deficient in the vitamin or mineral and list the foods where you can find the nutrient.
Carol Taylor is then going to provide you with some wonderful recipes that make best use of these foods… Cooked from Scratch.
Vitamin C (ascorbic acid and L-ascorbic acid) is probably one of the best known of our nutrients. It is rightly so as it has so many important functions within the body including keeping our immune system fighting fit. The best way to take in Vitamin C is through our diet, in a form that our body recognises and can process to extract what it needs. For example a large orange a day will provide you with a wonderfully sweet way to obtain a good amount of vitamin C, but to your body that orange represents an essential element of over 3000 biological processes in the body!
Vitamin C is water-soluble and cannot be stored in the body. It therefore needs to be taken in through our food on a daily basis. It is in fact the body’s most powerful water-soluble antioxidant and plays a vital role in protecting the body against oxidative damage from free radicals. It works by neutralising potentially harmful reactions in the water- based parts of our body such as the blood and within the fluids surrounding every cell. It helps prevent harmful cholesterol (LDL) from free radical damage, which can lead to plaque forming on the inside of arteries, blocking them. The antioxidant action protects the health or the heart, the brain and many other bodily tissues.
Vitamin C is an effective agent when it comes to boosting our immune systems. It works by increasing the production of our white blood cells that make up our defence system, in particular B and T cells. It also increases levels of interferon and antibody responses improving antibacterial and antiviral effects. The overall effect is improved resistance to infection and it may also reduce the duration of the symptoms of colds for example. It may do this by decreasing the blood levels of histamine, which has triggered the tissue inflammation and caused a runny nose. It has not been proven but certainly taking vitamin C in the form of fruit and vegetable juices is not going to be harmful. Another affect may be protective as it prevents oxidative damage to the cells and tissues that occur when cells are fighting off infection.
This vitamin plays a role along with the B vitamins we have already covered in the conversion of tryptophan to serotonin, a neurotransmitter in the brain that helps determine our emotional well being.
Other areas that Vitamin C is vital to our health.
Collagen is the protein that forms the basis of our connective tissue that is the most abundant tissue in the body. It glues cells together, supports and protects our organs, blood vessels, joints and muscles and also
Our hormones require Vitamin C for the synthesis of hormones by the adrenal glands.
The cardiovascular system relies on Vitamin C that plays a role in cholesterol production in the liver and in the conversion of cholesterol into bile acids for excretion from the body. The vitamin also promotes normal total blood cholesterol and LDL (lousy cholesterol levels) and raises the levels of the more beneficial HDL (Healthy cholesterol) It supports healthy circulation and blood pressure, which in turn supports the heart.
The other areas that Vitamin C has shown it might be helpful to the body is in the lungs reducing breathing difficulties and improving lung and white blood cell function. It is recommended that smokers take Vitamin C not just in their diet but also as
Many studies are showing that Vitamin C can protect the health of the eye by possibly reducing ultra violet damage. .
Research is ongoing with Vitamin C and certainly in the fight against cancer there are some interesting developments.
Vitamin C works as part of a team helping in various metabolic processes such as the absorption of iron, converting folic acid to an active state, protecting against the effects of toxic effects of cadmium, copper, cobalt and mercury (brain health).
One word of warning if you are on the contraceptive pill. Vitamin C in large supplemental doses can interfere with the absorption of the pill and reduce its effectiveness.
What are the symptoms of a deficiency of Vitamin C?
A total deficiency is extremely rare in the western World. A total lack of the vitamin leads to scurvy, which was responsible for thousands of deaths at sea from the middle ages well into the 19th century. Some voyages to the pacific resulted in a loss of as much as 75% of the crew.
The symptoms were due to the degeneration of collagen that lead to broken blood vessels, bleeding gums, loose teeth, joint pains and dry scaly skin.
Other symptoms were weakness, fluid retention, depression and anaemia.
You can link these symptoms back up to the benefits of vitamin C and understand how many parts and processes of the body this vitamin is involved in.
In a milder form a deficiency has also been linked to:
- increased infections
- male infertility
- rheumatoid arthritis
- and gastrointestinal disorders.
Best Food Sources.
The best food source of vitamin C is all fresh, raw fruit and vegetables. Avoid buying prepared peeled and cut vegetables and fruit, as they will have lost the majority of their vitamin C. If you prepare juices at home, always drink within a few hours preferably immediately. Do not boil fruit and vegetables, it is better to eat raw whenever possible preserving all their nutrient content, but at the very least only steam lightly.
Researchers believe that taking in adequate amounts of Vitamin C is the best private health insurance that you can take out.
The best food sources is of course fresh fruit and vegetables but the highest concentrations are in:
Blackcurrants, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, cherries, grapefruit, guavas, kiwi fruit, lemons, oranges parsley, peppers, rosehip, potatoes, tomatoes and watercress.
Time to hand you over to Carol Taylor who has been creating dishes that include ingredients that are great sources of Vitamin C.
Vitamin C…To me it is the sunshine vitamin as all the fruit and vegetables which are high in this vitamin are the most glorious colours.
Eaten raw or cooked although lightly steam or roasted as this retains most of the vitamins… Of course depending on where you live there will be other fruits/veggies which are high in Vitamin C…For me here that includes Pineapple, Mango, Papaya and even my favourite, the chilli.
The easiest ways to get your vitamin C is of course to eat the fruit raw, you could also add some spinach to your cooked rice and just let the heat of the rice wilt the spinach, Raw peppers sliced and eating with hummus or which we love here just chop some peppers all three colours, shallot stir into some cooked rice add some sweet corn if liked and I just make this little Italian dressing.
• 3 tbsp olive oil
• 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
• 1 tbsp fresh parsley chopped
• ½ tbsp fresh lime/lemon juice
• 1 clove garlic finely chopped
• 1 tbsp dried basil crumbled
• Pinch oregano
Whisk together and chill until required and then add to rice and stir through this recipe is also easy to double up.
This rice salad is easy to make with leftover cooked rice and eaten with some grilled fish or meat. It is also lovely with all the colours of the peppers and if like me you want to up the garlic just chop some extra cloves of garlic and add…
Grapefruit is also high in vitamin C…Here the Pomelo is more common it is just like a bigger grapefruit…
Pomelo Salad or as it is known here Yum Som O is a wonderful light refreshing salad made with Thai Grapefruit( Pink Grapefruit) can be substituted and there is very little difference in flavour.
• 2 Pink Grapefruit or 1 Pomelo.
• 12-16 peeled shrimps.
• A sm cucumber diced.
• 1/4 cup finely sliced shallots.
• 1/4 cup fresh Thai Basil or Mint.
• 1/4 cup Fresh coriander.
• 1/4 cup unsalted peanuts/cashews.
• 2 tbsp shredded coconut.
• 1 Red Chilli finely sliced.
• Half to 1 lime.
• 3 tbsp Fish Sauce.
• 1-2 tbsp palm sugar.
• 1 -2 red chillies finely sliced.
• Kaffir Lime leaf very finely sliced for garnish.
- Set a pot of water to boil on the stove. Add shrimp and boil for just a few minutes, until the shrimp turn pink and are plump and firm to the touch. Drain and set aside to cool.
- Place shredded coconut in a dry frying pan or wok over medium-high heat and stir until coconut turns light golden brown and fragrant. Tip coconut into a small bowl to cool and set aside. Repeat with shallots frying in a little oil until golden and crispy tip into small bowl and set aside to cool.
- Prepare your grapefruit or pomelo, removing as much of the white peel as possible from the fruit. Break into bite-size pieces – 3 to 4 cups is a good amount. Set prepared fruit in a salad bowl.
- Add to the bowl: cucumber, basil/mint, coriander, and fresh chilli.
- Combine all dressing ingredients together in a cup, stirring well to dissolve the sugar.
To put the salad together: Add shrimp to the salad bowl, and then pour over the dressing. Toss well to combine. Add most of the toasted coconut, shallots and nuts, reserving a little for garnishing, then toss again. Taste-test the salad for a balance of sweet/sour/spicy/salty. Adjust to your liking, adding more sugar if too sour. For more depth of flavour, add a little Fish Sauce. Your salad is now ready to serve. Top with reserved coconut, nuts and shredded lime leaf.
Tip: Like most Thai salad dressings, this is an oil-free dressing, so it doesn’t appear to ‘cling’ as well as oil-based dressings, naturally collecting at the bottom of your salad bowl. This isn’t a problem – just be sure to toss a little more than you would for a regular salad in order to saturate ingredients with the dressing.
This salad is better served and eaten immediately, the fresher the better. If preparing for a party, keep the dressing apart from the salad until you’re ready to eat, and then toss them together just before serving.
I do hope you enjoy as this is one of my favourite salads, I do shred my Pomelo much finer though rather than having too chunky. But as with anything it is personal preference.
Cauliflower is one of my favourite vegetables it can be lightly steamed and if you make a cheese sauce then it makes a lovely side dish sometimes I also mix the florets with broccoli florets and make a broccoli and cauliflower cheese…
You can turn the cauliflower into rice which is very popular now…
And all you need is a Cauliflower and an Onion. A little Coconut oil to cook or other oil of your choice. Sea Salt and a squeeze Lemon Juice.
- Either grate or blitz in a food processor (but not too fine) you want some texture.
- Heat pan and keep pan HOT as you don’t want Cauliflower to steam and go soggy.
- Use a tbsp of Coconut Oil and put in the desired amount of Cauliflower and onion mix.
- Cook quickly and then season and add lemon juice.
All in all, it only takes a few minutes to cook….. a bit longer if more than one portion but keep pan hot.
If you wish to vary the taste you can add 1 tsp of Cumin seeds to oil before adding Cauliflower if you are eating Indian Food.
If you require colour if eating Mexican……. then add 1/2 tsp turmeric to oil and tsp tomato puree.
This is very versatile and just use your imagination and add any herbs and spices that you like.
To store...I make a batch and keep in the fridge for during the week but keep in a glass jar or zip lock bag…I think plastic containers may make it sweat too much…..Enjoy…. and if you are cutting the carbs it is an ideal and yummy substitute for rice and I love rice…… eat it all the time but happily substitute this as I am also a cauliflower lover.
The cauliflower is truly versatile… I love it! X
How about making a cauliflower Pizza base?
I love this more than my family do but then I am not a huge pizza fan I don’t really like pizza bases so tend to just pick of the topping so this cauliflower base suits my taste and I can crisp it up a bit..and viola something I really like…
• 1 medium head cauliflower.
• 1 egg, large.
• 1 tsp Italian seasoning (dried oregano or basil)
• 1/8 tsp salt.
• 1/4 tsp ground black pepper.
• 1/2 cup Parmesan or Mozzarella cheese, grated/shredded.
• Cooking spray, I make my own spray I don’t do bought oil in spray cans…I have a little stainless steel one for oil.
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F/190 C and line a baking sheet with unbleached parchment paper.
- Rinse cauliflower, remove the outer leaves, separate into florets and chop into smaller pieces.
- Process the cauliflower in a food processor in 2 batches, until a “rice” texture forms.
- Transfer cauliflower rice on a prepared baking sheet and bake for 10 mins this just removes some of the moisture.
- Remove cooked cauliflower rice from the oven, transfer to a bowl lined with a double/triple layered cheesecloth or linen towel, and let cool for 5 minutes.
- Then squeeze the liquid out of the ball as hard as you can. Be patient and do this a few times until barely any liquid comes out.
- Increase oven temperature to 4 degrees F/200 C. Then in a medium mixing bowl whisk the egg with dried herbs, salt and pepper for 10 seconds.
- Add cheese and squeezed cauliflower mix very well with a spatula until combined.
- Line the same baking sheet with new parchment paper and spray with cooking spray.
- Transfer cauliflower dough to the middle and flatten with your hands until thin pizza crust forms.
- Bake for 20 minutes, carefully flip with a spatula and bake for a few more minutes. Top with your favourite toppings and bake again until cheese on top turns golden brown.
Slice and enjoy!
This recipe was one that intrigued me because individually I loved the ingredients except for the egg plant and even though I eat egg plant it is not my favourite.
It is an Indian spiced egg plant salad with mango, tomatoes and lentils … It turned out to be one of the nicest salads ever and had a few ingredients which my hubby doesn’t eat ever like egg plant, tomatoes and lentils and he liked it…
Spiced Egg Plant Salad with tomatoes, mango and lentils.
• 4 tablespoons peanut oil or olive oil, divided
• 2½ teaspoons chilli powder, divided
• 2½ teaspoons curry powder, divided
• 2 medium eggplants ( ¾ pound each), trimmed and cut into 1-inch cubes
• ⅓ cup lemon or lime juice, plus more if desired
• ¼ cup prepared salsa
• ¼ cup honey
• ¼ teaspoon salt
• ¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper, plus more to taste
• 1½ cups cooked lentils or one 15-ounce can, rinsed
• 2 bunches spring (green) onions, coarsely chopped (reserve 2 tablespoons for garnish)
• 4 cups torn romaine lettuce or white cabbage
• 2 large ripe mangoes, peeled and diced
• ¼ cup coarsely chopped roasted walnuts or cashews
• ¼ cup chopped fresh coriander
- Preheat oven to 500°F.
- Combine 1 tbsp oil with 2 tsp each chilli powder and curry powder in a large bowl. Add eggplant and toss well. Spread the eggplant on a large, rimmed baking sheet. Roast, stirring halfway through, until tender, for about 15 minutes.
- Thoroughly combine the remaining 3 tbsp oil, remaining ½ tsp each chilli powder and curry powder, ⅓ cup lemon (or lime) juice, salsa, honey, salt and pepper in a large bowl.
- Add the roasted eggplant, lentils and spring onions; gently toss to combine. Taste and season with more pepper and/or lemon (or lime) juice, as required.
- Serve the salad on a bed of romaine, topped with mango, nuts, cilantro and the reserved 2 tbsp of spring onions.
- I used white cabbage and we ate by adding some salad to the cabbage and eating them both together…
- To cook the lentils: Put ½ cup red or brown lentils in a medium saucepan add 1 ½ cups water then bring to the boil over a medium heat, reduce the heat, cover and cook, stirring occasionally until the lentils are tender…12-20 minutes( red lentils ) cook quicker. This makes 1 ½ cups lentils.
I actually think this would go equally as well with pineapple or even orange…It is a lovely recipe with your vitamin C coming from your fruit and tomatoes even egg plant contains some Vitamin C as do chillies and of course you are getting fibre from the egg plant and the lentils so overall a very healthy dish to which you could add some chicken or fish…
Our verdict… I made half the recipe which is what I always do when I am testing a recipe. I just made a small amount of fresh salsa but all together the flavours complemented each other nicely much better than I originally thought and the honey just brought it all together. I used japans egg plants the long purple variety as I don’t think they are so bitter as the Thai green egg plants.
I hope you have enjoyed these recipes showing how you can include fruit and vegetables into your diet to ensure you get adequate Vitamin C.
My thanks to Carol for preparing these delicious dishes to ensure you and your family are obtaining adequate amounts of vitamin C..
You can find out more about Carol and catch up with her Food and Cookery Column HERE
Connect to Carol via her blog: https://carolcooks2.com/
Thank you for dropping in today and if you have any questions for either of us then please do not hesitate to ask in the comments. Your feedback is always welcome.