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Nutrient Dense meals - think micro-nutrition

When planning and cooking meals, think ‘micro-nutrition’ first. It’s easy, simply add lots of different vegetables in all colours. Choose a mix of cruciferous vegetables such as Broccoli, Cauliflower and Cabbage, include dark greens such as Rainbow chard, Kale and Spinach and add coloured vegetables and fruits. Your protein should be the size of your palm and keep the carbohydrates from grains to a minimum. The vegetables should be the ‘star of the show’. I endeavour every night to have all the colours on the plate. 

Wow, this year has gone in a flash.  I have had some great tramping trips and we are keeping tally of the number of hot pools we have been in (14). I spent nearly a month in Turkey. We loved the Turkish breakfasts of tomatoes, peppers, olives, cucumbers, eggs, cheeses and nuts. This was a healthy and very filling start to the day. Needless to say I have planted ample tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers to recreate these breakfasts over summer. 

It’s a good time now to get your vegetable garden planted, if you haven’t already.  I have planted corn, beans, courgettes, cucumbers and peas from seed and planted seedlings of onions, spring onions, silver-beet, kale, lettuce, beetroot and strawberries.  I use the Awapuni Nursery seedlings, which are strong, healthy plants. Some potatoes and kumara have gone in too. For herbs I have parsley, mint, coriander and chives. Tomatoes, lettuces and silver-beet will cope in pots if watered well and you can easily grow a selection of herbs in pots. We enjoyed Asian Slaw  over the winter, using my cabbages and coriander. The broad beans have been prolific and have been added to soups and fritters (and everything I can think of) and added raw to salads. The last leeks have been put into Curried Coconut-Leek Soup.  Another favourite soup I make uses New Zealand native Spinach from the garden (or other greens) and coconut cream. Try Kale or Silverbeet poached and sprinkled with lemon and kelp salt. Get more creative with soups and salads to increase your vegetable intake.

Here are some of my favourite nutrient-dense foods.

1. Salmon

I recommend eating oily fish such as salmon at least twice per week for its Omega 3 fatty acids. These are needed for prevention of dementia and depression and healthy cardiovascular system, healthy skin, improved wellbeing and healthy ageing, to name a few. Salmon is easy to cook. Simply make a marinade such as tamari soy sauce, ginger and garlic or coriander and bake for 15-20 minutes. Sardines are a good choice too for Omega 3.

2. Kale

This is a real super food.  It is super easy to grow, (you can’t kill it!) and you can save the seeds for next year. It is loaded with vitamins, minerals, fibre, antioxidants and various cancer fighting compounds.  Chop up finely and use as you would spinach or silver-beet.  Add to soups.

3. Seaweed

Seaweed is loaded with minerals such as calcium, iron, magnesium and manganese and in many cases is more nutrient dense than vegetables. It is also the best source of the mineral Iodine to make thyroid hormones. One easy way to include Seaweed in your diet is to make a Kelp salt. To make, put sea salt, Himalayan salt and Pacific Harvey Karengo Sea Chicory or other seaweed into food processor and blend.  Store in a glass jar and use in place of ordinary salt. Check out Pacific Harvest’s range of seaweeds. Try making some sushi or get the kids or grandkids involved.

4. Garlic

Garlic is the supreme detoxifier. It was perhaps the most widely revered of all ancient medicinal treatments and remedies and probably goes back to 13thCentury BC. Garlic is high in vitamins and minerals and is beneficial for blood pressure and cholesterol and has antifungal and antibacterial properties. When buying garlic choose bulbs that may surprise you by their weight. This heaviness indicates plump, juicy cloves at their peak. I recommend buying New Zealand garlic and ideally organic garlic. Blend a large amount of garlic, ginger and onion in a food processor, mix with oil and freeze in ice-cube trays.  Use as needed for cooking.  Take whole bulbs, leave skin on and roast with the joint, lamb, beef etc. The roasting creates a superb vegetable, with the skin crisp and the odour minimised.

5. Blueberries

These are the ultimate convenience food, no pitting, no peeling, no waste and they are packed full of nutritional value. They are loaded with powerful antioxidant substances providing medicinal benefits. Studies have found that blueberries improve memory in older adults. Another study found that obese adults with metabolic syndrome had a lowered blood pressure and reduced markers of oxidized LDL cholesterol when they added blueberries to their diet.


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