April 17th, 2014
By Kim Dannies
There is information and there is knowledge, and they are not the same thing. Knowledge involves the interpretation of information. Nowhere is that more confusing than the subject of nutrition. We are told to eat lots of fruits and vegetables, and that’s good information. But do we stop and digest that information well enough to develop the knowledge that is truly beneficial to our body?
For example, the number one thing we can do to improve our diet is to shop for fruits and vegetables two or three times a week. Sounds like a pain in the butt, right? But the longer your expensive produce is stored in the fridge, the fewer nutrients it contains. After a week, spinach and watercress lose 50 percent of their folate and 60 percent of their lutein; broccoli loses 62 percent of its flavonoids—crucial nutrient benefits. Farmers’ markets will ease this burden soon, but if shopping that often is impossible, it’s better—nutritionally speaking—to supplement with basic frozen fruits and veggies.
Pairing foods is another area of knowledge to develop. Whenever you eat, think of ways to add leafy greens to your meals. Sure, they are the super-heroes of the nutrition world, but it is often difficult to eat as much as we should. Spinach and kale will happily meld with just about any soup, smoothie, sauté or tomato-based dish. Arugula, watercress and Swiss chard love topping a pizza or tucking inside an omelet. Look before you leap, think before you eat.
Creamy cauliflower & watercress soup
In a soup pot, combine 7 cups water or chicken stock; 1 head of cauliflower, tough center removed and chopped; 2 medium-sized potatoes, peeled and chopped; 4 cloves garlic, sliced; 1 medium onion, chopped. Simmer uncovered for 40 minutes.
Cool slightly and then puree broth in batches. (If you prefer a chunkier version, do not puree 1-2 cups of the broth.) Season with 1 tablespoon of kosher salt and 1/2 teaspoon of red pepper flakes. To thin the soup, add a bit of water or stock. Yields 2 generous quarts of soup and freezes well. To serve, heat desired amount of soup. Turn off heat. Rough chop 1-2 fistfuls of fresh watercress and add to soup, along with 1-2 tablespoons butter. Cover; allow watercress to wilt for 2 minutes. Stir and season to taste.
Kim Dannies is a graduate of La Varenne Cooking School in France. She lives in Williston with her husband, Jeff; they have three twenty-something daughters who come and go. For archived Everyday Gourmet columns go to kimdannies.com.