Week two of the Bridge to Wellness program found me with a lot of energy (go, breakfast!) and excited about the evening’s lecture by Dr. Autumn Frandsen, practitioner of naturopathic medicine at the Center for Integrative & Natural Medicine. We all enjoyed some organic butternut squash stuffed red and white quinoa while Dr. Frandsen walked us through the process of digestion.
It had been years since my last nutrition class at NYU, and while the mechanics have remained the same, life has not: the demands on a working mom are greater than on an unencumbered grad student, and I took to heart Dr. Frandsen’s admonition to RELAX!!! already. Taking time to enjoy a meal in the company of others not only enhances enjoyment, but according to Dr. Frandsen it also helps the body to do it’s job more efficiently by directing blood flow to the gut. (The technical term for this process is parasympathetic stimulation.) So while the definition of slow food and the Slow Food movement has many layers, it would seem that the literal meaning is important, too.
Everyone took a deep breath to relax as Dr. Frandsen moved on from digestion to macronutrients (proteins, fats, carbs) and micronutrients (vitamins and minerals). To insure ample intake of the latter, we should eat nine servings of fresh fruits and vegetables every day, and we Floridians can count on a local supply almost all year. A majority of the ten “superfoods” (broccoli, quinoa, green tea, berries, salmon, kombucha, dark chocolate, avocado, spinach and garlic) grow here, as do many other nutrient-dense choices. Strawberries and citrus, at their peak right now, are among the best water-soluble carbs for lowering lipids, and the former pair beautifully with Florida-grown arugula for a healthy winter salad.
Florida’s waters are also teeming with healthy seafood, but Alaskan salmon gets all the press for it’s high Omega 3 content, which is revered for fighting heart disease. I reached out to Orlando’s own Seafood Lady Maureen Berry to see if she could point me towards a good choice that swims closer to home, and she queried Mindy Lee at the Florida Department of Agriculture. According to Mindy, Spanish mackerel packs 1.67 grams of Omega 3 per four-ounce portion, well within the range cited for salmon. Spanish mackerel is in season right now, and unlike king mackerel, there is no advisory for mercury content in this delicious local choice.
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