By Molly Patrick
May 26, 2015,
People are confused about a lot of things.
And rightfully so.
There’s a lot going on in the world and the speediness at which information is dispersed and distributed is shocking.
Here are a few things that confuse me.
Can you tell me what’s going on here? One time I checked out a book on the topic from the library, and after I finished skimming it I was way more confused than when I started. I still have no fucking clue what it is except Tom Cruise.
I’m on it. I follow some people. Some people follow me. I know you can’t use more than 140 characters, and I think you’re supposed to hashtag your posts and maybe tag people. The rest is a mystery.
The root of this one could be because I was raised in a teepee, but how can people voluntarily sleep outside in the cold and poop in a hole? I don’t get it.
Enough about me and my confusing shit. Today I’m clearing something up that I see a lot of people struggle to understand. This is way less confusing than Scientology – promise.
First things first. Give me a virtual yes or no to the following question:
Are fresh organic blueberries a healthy food to add to your diet?
I’m going to stretch my body horizontally out on a limb and assume that 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?
This example is the crux of the confusion.
Let me break this down.
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 time piece are both technically watches. But which would you prefer? Which one will last longer? Which one is higher in quality?
Rol- to-the- EX!
What I want you to draw from this is that 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 “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 the body needs fat and protein, the body also needs carbohydrates.
Let’s work this out.
When healthy complex carbohydrates (like whole grains, veggies, sprouted bread, beans, etc…) are broken down by the body, 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. And 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? Yes. So does 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 low carb diet. And regardless of your opinion, it’s a fact that 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 only way to get all of the good stuff that the body needs while avoiding the crap stuff that it doesn’t need 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.
I’m going to land this baby by making one last thing really clear.
The carbs that everyone should avoid are refined carbohydrates.
Cakes, cookies, crackers, white flour, white bread, white pasta, donuts, candy, all the fun stuff that’s crap for our health – vegan or not.
Any food that has been stripped of its nutrients has no place in our pie hole. And this isn’t solely because they’re carb heavy, it’s because they’re void of nutrients and fiber and full of sugar and processed ingredients, making them health damaging, not health promoting.
So you see? It’s not as confusing as Scientology after all. Carbs aren’t bad guys – it’s the processed refined carbs in the form of delicious fucking donut holes that gives them a bad rap. Damn you, donut holes!
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.
So today, let’s pinky swear to stop counting calories and carbs and start thinking about the quality of those calories and carbs. Deal? You can start by signing up for my weekly Plant Fueled Meal Plans, full of complex carbohydrate rich whole plant foods!
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.