What the Hell is a Phytochemical? + The Perfect Gluten Free Tortilla Solution

collard-leaf

Why do scientific things have to sound so un-sexy?

Take the word phytochemical.

Even if I use my most seductive sounding voice and whisper it in your ear, while rubbing a champagne drenched strawberry across your lips, you’re not going to get turned on.

You’re going to run away from the crazy lady.

But you know what?

Phytochemicals are damn sexy once you understand what they do and why they’re so important.

First things first. I want you to understand that there are two categories of nutrients in food.

1. Macronutrients

Macronutrients include fat, carbohydrate and protein. These are the nutrients that contain calories and they’re found in plant, animal, and processed food.

2. Micronutrients

Micronutrients include vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals.

Micronutrients have no calories and get this:

Knowledge of phytochemicals is fairly new to the scene. It was only 20 years ago that they were even discovered. Today there are thousands of known phytochemicals and more and more still being discovered. Scientists used to think that vitamins and minerals made up the biggest percentage of micronutrients, but thanks to the advances in nutritional science, we now know that it’s actually phytochemicals that make up the majority of the load. Phytochemicals are only found in plants.

I need to stop right here and check in with you because that was a lot of information and information (especially about something as boring sounding as phytochemicals) is possibly something that you don’t need right now. You’re busy. I get it.

There are kids to sort out, appointments to be made, schedules to be set, Netflix to watch,  jobs to go to, oil changes to be made, a house that’s screaming to be cleaned, birthday cards to be sent out, apologies to be made, sex to be had (maybe even foreplay), Facebook friends to delete, nail polish to be removed…lots of life stuff, right?

So why in this beautiful world should you give a rat’s ass about phytochemicals?

Here’s why my love.

Because the things that we have to do in life, along with the things that we want to do in life are a hell of a lot better and easier to do when we feel good – when we have lots of energy, when we get an awesome night’s sleep, when we’re mentally clear, when we feel good about our body, when we’re healthy, and glowing.

And while phytochemicals can’t actually make your mortgage or rent payment for you, they can make you feel damn good while you do all your boring chores.

Here’s what you need to know.

Phytochemicals are cancer and disease fighting nutrients. They decrease inflammation and they boost the immune system. And the more phytochemical rich foods you eat, the healthier and the leaner you will be, and the better you will feel.

And isn’t that the point of it all? To not just get by, but to make sweet passionate love to your life?

Even if you don’t feel good right now, that can change. And it will change as soon as you change what you eat.

Here’s this thing.

People are eating way too many macronutrients (fat, carbohydrate, and protein) and not enough micronutrients (vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals).

  • On average, people in the United States get 65% of their calories from processed foods and only 10% from plant food.
  • And 10% is actually high because french fries are in the vegetable category! (Is that not the most ridiculous thing you’ve heard?!).
  • The other 25% of calories come from animal foods.

When we get all of our calories from macronutrients without adding in micronutrients, our body builds up free radicals. Free radicals are toxic and cause inflammation and cell damage in the body. It also leads to premature aging.

Are you with me that eating lots of micronutrients (especially phytochemicals) is worth while to fit into your busy schedule?

I know the answer is yes, because who doesn’t want more energy, gorgeous skin, and a lean healthy body?

So here’s what you need to understand next.

Phytochemicals (the disease fighting, immune boosting good guys) are only found in plant food, never in processed or animal food.

That means that the very nutrients that we should be eating the most of are in the food group that as a country, we’re eating the least of.

And the nutrients that we should be eating the least of are in the food category that as a country we eat the most of.

So, as you can see, we need to make some shifts in the way we think about food. Every time that you put something in your mouth, you have the power to make it work with your body and get all the benefits of micronutrients or have it work against your body and create more problems with an overload of macronutrients.

I want to take a minute to point out that macronutrients are absolutely an important part of a healthy balanced diet, but we can easily get all of our macronutrients requirements from plant food, while at the same time getting the benefits of the micronutrients.

It’s all about the nutrient density per calorie.

Let’s say you’re hungry for a snack. You have two choices:

You can choose an apple or you can choose a croissant.

  • The apple has about 95 calories and it also has fiber, lots of micronutrients and some macronutrients.
  • The croissant might have around 231 calories and it has plenty of macronutrients but zero micronutrients.

So the apple will have more nutrients per calorie, making it the obvious choice.

The point is, we can get all the nutrients that we need from plant food. And when we choose to get our nutrients from plant food, we avoid things like cholesterol, hormones and saturated fat, which are found in processed and animal foods.

Unfortunately, the lack of phytochemicals being consumed in this country has us pretty darn sick.

Obesity, cancer, diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, dementia, Alzheimer’s, the list sadly goes on and on.

But I refuse to be a Debbie downer and wallow in this.

Instead, I want to empower you and teach you exactly what and how to eat so that you can protect yourself from unnecessary illness and disease.

When you’re ready, bounce over and check out my weekly Plant Fueled Meal Plans. They make it super simple to incorporate a ton of plant food into your diet, just by following along.

Think of this as your introduction into the world of nutrient rich food.

I know that changing the way you eat is a big deal and it can be really tough. But I’m here to give you a loving nudge and tell you that getting sick is a lot tougher. Diabetes, cancer, heart disease, these things are all a hell of a lot tougher than learning how to cook some yummy food made out of plants.

Plus, I’m here to help you and show you exactly what to do to make shifts in your diet that’ll take it up a notch and have you thriving in no time.

I want you to walk away from this blog post with the knowledge that when we eat more micronutrients and less macronutrients, we protect ourselves from illness and disease and we drop weight naturally.

Our skin glows, the whites of our eyes are brighter, our brain fog lifts, our blood pressure falls, our heart is healthy and protected, our cholesterol drops, and we even sleep better.

This is a choice that you have the power to make for yourself, and it all comes down to what you eat.

Sickness doesn’t have to be your reality, even if it runs in your family.

You have the power to change your destiny and to take your health into your own hands.

I’m curious, are you inspired to start making some healthy swaps in your diet?

Talk to me over in the comments.

Before you go, you should definitely check out today’s recipe. This is one way to swap out your regular macronutrient filled tortillas with a micronutrient rich alternative.

How To Perfectly Blanch Collard Leaves

Author: Molly Patrick of Clean Food Dirty Girl

Ingredients

  • 1 or more bunches of collard greens The bigger the leaves the better
  • 2 dozen ice cubes

Instructions

  • Place two dozen ice cubes in a large bowl and fill the bowl with water. Set aside for now.
  • Use a pan big enough to bring 5 cups of water to a simmer.
  • Cut the stem off from each of the leaves at the base of the collard. (see picture)
  • Use a small knife to trim the spine of the collard down the middle of the leaf. Cut it so that the spine is flat with the rest of the collard.
  • Place the leaves one at a time in the simmering water for 30 seconds (you can simmer them for slightly more or less time. The longer it simmers, the softer it will become. Just make sure you don’t over-simmer them, because we want them strong enough to hold up.)
  • With a pair of tongs, place each of the leaves into the ice bath and submerge for at least 10 seconds.
  • Take the leaf out and pat dry with a kitchen towel.
  • Repeat until the whole bunch has been blanched and dried.
  • Keep in the fridge for up to three days.
collard leaf stem
Chop the stem off at the base of the leaf.
Trim the spine so it’s flush with the rest of the leaf.
Simmer for 30 seconds or so.
Shock it in an ice bath to stop it from cooking.
Use a dry kitchen towel to dry it completely.
Voila! Ready to go.

When you go to wrap whatever it is you want the collard leaves to be a vessel for, just lay out one or two leaves, place the ingredients on top and roll it up like a tortilla or fold it for a sandwich.

How do you like them collards?

Source: Super Immunity by Dr. Joel Fuhrman

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Written by ex-boozer, ex-smoker, Co-founder, and CEO, Molly Patrick. They will help you eat more plants while throwing perfection down the garbage disposal.

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3 Comments

  1. Gianna Galli on August 21, 2014 at 7:14 am

    hi my name is Gianna ,i am 65 year old ,i was on high blood pressure pill also pills for heart burn, anti infflamatory pill ,sleeping pills and more …last year i start eating more and more micronutrients,and all plant food ,and in only a fiu`months i went off all my pills; i am sleeping very good,i realy fill younger,my skin is softer and shiny, my hair are shine and curly again,,,,,even at my age things can change ,and only because i am eating good.
    thank you for help people like me gething better……

    • Molly Patrick on August 27, 2014 at 7:41 pm

      You are awesome!! Congratulations on taking your health and happiness into your own hands.
      Bravo, my dear. xo

  2. katy on October 20, 2014 at 4:24 pm

    Why do we want to blanch the greens? Is eating the collards raw not nutritional?

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