By Molly Patrick
May 26, 2015,
Give me a virtual yes or no to the following question:
Generally speaking, are fresh organic blueberries a healthy food to eat?
I’m going to stretch my body horizontally out on a limb and assume you answered yes.
Now, what if I told you that one cup of blueberries has more carbohydrates than one piece of Wonder bread?
Does your answer remain the same, or do you think you should eat less blueberries and more Wonder bread?
Let’s look at this in another way.
Let’s pretend your best friend’s birthday is coming up and she really wants a new watch. Naturally, you march your ass to Family Dollar and you buy her a watch. You wrap it up and you’re stoked to give it to her. It’s finally her birthday and the first present your bestie opens is a present from her rich mom. She unwraps the box and what do you know, it’s a fuckin’ Rolex watch.
You cringe as your friend gets to your present and opens her shiny new Family Dollar special. Now, her blinged out Rolex and her dollar store timepiece are both technically watches. But which would you prefer? Which one will last longer? Which one is higher in quality?
Rol- to-the- EX!
All watches are not created equal, just like all carbs are not created equal. Just because 1 cup of blueberries has more carbohydrates than a piece of wonder bread does NOT mean you should skip the antioxidant rich blueberries and make a beeline for the white bread.
Let’s keep going and break this down even more.
Carbohydrates aren’t a food group, they’re a macronutrient, alongside fat and protein. They’re found primarily in plant foods and just like fat and protein, the body also needs carbohydrates.
Let’s work this out.
When the body breaks down healthy complex carbohydrates, like whole grains, veggies, sprouted bread, and beans, they turn into sugars, and these sugars fuel the cells. Now – here’s where the slope gets slippery, so bust out those snow chains and throw on a parka.
The human body is really smart and if we don’t get enough carbohydrates, energy for our cells can be converted from the other two macronutrients, fat and protein. When the body uses fat for fuel we end up losing weight. This is why people who follow low carb diets tend to lose weight (but usually for only a year or two).
But hold the boat. The body is designed to use carbohydrates as fuel. So isn’t that what we should give it? This isn’t a trick question! Think about it this way. If your car runs on unleaded gas and you pour vinegar into your gas tank, would your car have issues? Just like the body if you eat all protein and fat and no complex carbohydrates.
Even though the body can convert sugars from fat and protein in a pinch, you know what it can’t make magically appear? A little thing called fiber. And another little somthin’ somethin’ called phytochemicals. Two really important things that you don’t get much of on a low carb high fat diet.
The other thing the body can’t do is wave a wand, David Blaine style, and make excess cholesterol and saturated fat disappear from all the animal protein consumed on a typical low carb diet. High cholesterol is the number one risk factor for heart disease, which is the leading cause of death in the United States and Australia.
The best way to get all the stuff the body needs while avoiding the stuff it doesn’t is to focus the diet around complex carbohydrate-rich whole plant foods.
No other foods give us the abundance of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, enzymes, fiber, and phytochemicals that whole plant foods provide, and when people turn to a low carb diet, they’re missing out on the party.
I’m talking beans and legumes, nuts and seeds, veggies, fruits and whole grains. Holla’ to the all-stars.
The carbs that aren’t doing anyone any favors are refined carbohydrates.
Cakes, cookies, crackers, white flour, white bread, white pasta, donuts, candy, all the delicious stuff that’s not great for our health – vegan or not.
Any food that has been stripped of its nutrients is health damaging, not health promoting.
Whatever the nutrition topic it always seems to come back to this:
It’s not about the quantity of what we eat, it’s about the quality of what we eat.
If you’re ready to eat delicious complex carbohydrate rich meals, sign up for Plant Fueled Life. It’s a game changer!
For the Pesto
- 1 cup walnuts 110g
- 2 cups fresh basil leaves 50g
- 1 large garlic clove grated or minced
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice 10ml
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/2 cup water
For the Mushrooms
- 3 garlic cloves minced
- 2 tablespoons shallots 20g, minced
- 1/4 cup parsley 8g, chopped
- 4 cups mushrooms 230g, sliced
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- sprouted whole grain bread
- cherry tomatoes, cut into half or quarters
Make the Pesto
- Heat a cast iron skillet over medium heat for about a minute and then add the walnuts.
- Turn the heat to low and toast the walnuts, stirring occasionally for 3 minutes. Keep an eye on them to make sure they don't burn.
- Place the toasted walnuts along with the basil, garlic, lemon juice, sea salt and water in the food processor and process for several minutes until creamy and smooth.
Make the Mushrooms and assemble your sandwich
- Heat a cast iron skillet over medium heat for a minute or so until it's warm.
- Add the garlic, shallots and parsley and cook for a couple of minutes, adding 1 tablespoon of water at a time when the mixture starts to stick to the pan. You don't want the pan to be full of water, you want the water to evaporate quickly just to give some moisture to the mixture. This will draw the flavor out of the garlic and the shallots.
- After 2 minutes or so, add the mushrooms and the sea salt and another tablespoon of water.
- Cook the mushrooms for 4 or 5 minutes, stirring frequently until all the mushrooms are soft.
- To assemble, toast some sprouted whole grain bread, spread on a generous amount of pesto, pile on the tomatoes and top with the mushrooms.
I hope you have a lovely week. May it be filled with lots of blueberries and minimal screens.