3 Foods to Add to Your Shopping List

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Beef, rice and potatoes. Chicken, brown rice, carrots. Pork chops, corn, broccoli. Americans are stuck in a culinary rut as evident by the limited variety of whole, unprocessed, unrefined foods consumed. Missing from our plates are delicious and under-consumed treasures like Bison, Barley and Seaweed. I challenge you to incorporate these 3 foods to your weekly meal plan:

Bison

American Bison, commonly referred to as Buffalo, is North America’s largest land mammal and member of the cattle family. Bison meat is rich in micronutrients, protein and lower in fat than beef, turkey or chicken. Buffalo meat is very tender and has no pronounced gamey flavor, which makes it a suitable substitute in most beef recipes. However, this naturally lean meat should be cooked slowly at low temperatures.

According to the National Bison Association, bison producers know their animals do best when minimally handled. Bison are raised grazing on open grass fields and spend little to no time on feedlots. They are not subjected to questionable drugs, hormones or chemicals, making them a “clean meat.” There are approximately 4,000 private bison ranches in the United States, which provide meat to local specialty markets and some restaurants.

To incorporate this healthy and delicious red meat into your meals, try adapting your favorite recipes for burgers, meatloaf, kabobs or chili. Remember “Low and Slow” when cooking.

Barley

This versatile glutenous grain dates back to the Stone Age and has been used throughout history for cereal, breads and in soups like the popular Scottish soup made with barley, lamb or mutton called Scotch Broth. Unfortunately, recent history has turned this tasty nut-like grain from a mealtime staple into animal fodder. Currently, 80% of the nations barley is produced for livestock feed or malted for beer and whisky production.

All grains share the same structure, consisting of three parts: the Bran, Germ and Endosperm. Barley grains are commonly found in two forms: hulled and pearled. Hulled Barley, having only the outer husk removed, is a whole grain and the most nutritious form of the grain. Pearled on the other hand is steamed and polished, removing the nutrient dense bran.

Whole grain barley is rich in fiber, selenium, vitamins B, C, and E, folic acid and several minerals including calcium, copper, phosphorus and magnesium. Like whole oats, Barley contains beta-glucan a soluble fiber that helps to naturally lower cholesterol by binding to bile acids in the digestive tract and removing them from the body.

Barley has a complex buttery, nut-like flavor suitable for eating as a side dish, added to enhance a soup or stew or as the base grain of your favorite Risotto recipe. To cook use a 3 to 1 ratio of broth or water to whole grain: 1 cup of hulled barley to 3 cups of broth or water, cook for an hour and 15 minutes. Will yield 3½ cups.

Seaweed

Seaweed is a sea vegetable belonging to the algae family and commonly used in Asian cooking. As Americans, our limited exposure to these edible sea plants usually comes in the form of a Spider Roll at our favorite sushi restaurant. It’s time to branch out.

There are many edible sea plants each having their own unique shape, texture and taste. Seaweed is commonly found dried and packaged at Asian markets or in Asian cooking sections of specialty stores. Although there are too many types of seaweed to list, some of the most popular are:

  • Arame – Dark brown, this sea plant is mild and slightly sweet.
  • Dulse – Found along the British Isles, this red sea vegetable has a pungent flavor and rubbery texture.
  • Kombu – Often used in sushi, it is generally sold in sheets and is very dark green color. It is often used to flavor soup stocks or beans.
  • Nori - Japanese term for edible sea vegetables in the red alga family. When dried it resembles sheets of paper and can range in color from dark purple to black to green. Nori is most commonly used in Sushi making.
  • Wakame – Commonly used in making miso soup and is a deep green color.

These booster foods offer the broadest range of minerals, more than any other food, containing virtually all of the minerals found in the ocean. Need Calcium? Forget milk. Seaweeds are the richest form of calcium available. While a 3.5 serving of whole milk has 118 mg of calcium, in comparison the same serving size of seaweed has 1,093 mg.

Naturally salty, crumbled seaweed strips are a tasty topper on a leafy green salad. Just a teaspoon or two on top of your favorite salad will provide a good dose of your daily recommended mineral intake.

Contributor Info:

Amanda is a regular guest speaker at local businesses, schools, churches, and women’s groups. She can often be found in the halls of the California State Capitol advocating for nutrition and food. Amanda has been featured in both local and national media as an expert in the field of food and nutrition. Eat Your Roots is also dedicated to working with individuals, couples, and families to improve overall wellbeing by teaching clients to understand real food and Traditional Nutrition.

Amanda is a member of the Board of Directors of the National Association of Nutrition Professionals (NANP http://www.nanp.org), and Chairs their Legislative Affairs Committee. Visit www.eatyourroots.org and www.mydailydiner.com.

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