Not-So-Odd Couples and Strange Platefellows

July 3, 2010 at 1:21 pm Leave a comment

   Social psychologists tell us that we tend to be attracted to a mate who looks like us, having become accustomed to our own face in the mirror over a few decades and human nature predisposing us to find the familiar appealing.  There are, of course, glaring exceptions, but have you ever stopped to notice how many couples look as if they could be brother and sister? 

Figure into this theory the propensity for folks who live together to pick up each other’s mannerisms over the years, and the old saw that married couples end up looking alike is thrown into its proper light:  We probably start out more similar than we realize, and a lifetime of rubbing off on each other simply reinforces that impression to the outside world.  Not sure if that holds true for personality traits as well. 

Well, that’s me going off on a tangent again when my actual theme is the science behind combining foods to enhance the nutritional value of each component – kinda’ like my husband’s cool, rational yang completing my emotionally-charge yin.  (How’s that for a retrofitted transition?)   The whole – and again I see a parallel – being greater than the sum of its parts. 

I’ll turn my spell-checker off and give you some examples.  You guacamole purists might want to reconsider when you hear that lycopene, the highly pigmented carotenoid found in tomatoes, is more available for absorption during digestion when paired with those lovely omega-three fats in avocadoes.  And oatmeal eaten with orange juice doubles the efficacy of heart-healthy organic compounds called phenols found in each.  That’s a twofer I can appreciate, although I always opt for the additional fiber and phytonutrients of whole fruit over juice. 

I’ve listed more dynamic duos at the end of this piece, but I’ll confess to having no idea whether the combined ingredients in my Turkey, Wild Rice, and Nectarine Burgers bolster each other nutritionally, ‘though they seem to do well in the taste department.  This very simple meal – inspired by a local foodie’s Wild Rice and Blueberry Hamburgers, which sounded fascinating but had too many fat-and-calorie-boosting fillers for my tastes – can be rounded out with Ciabatta-Style Honey Wheat Buns, a big Mixed Greens Salad, Foolproof Corn on the Cob, and a bowl of Red Grapes. 

If you toss some Toasted Walnuts or Roasted Peanuts onto the salad to complete an amino acid chain with the whole wheat bread and set out a bowl of Premium Dark Chocolate to munch with the grapes, the resulting nutritional powerhouse may just knock you off your feet – a perfect position in which to nap, and perchance to dream about your future look-alike soul mate. 

The nectarine in these provides a subtle, background mellowness and the wild rice, a unique, substantial texture.  For 8 turkey burgers you’ll need: 

2# lean ground turkey                           2 C chopped ripe nectarine

2 C cooked wild rice                                   1 tsp salt

2 tsp coriander                                     1/2 tsp pepper

2 TB chopped parsley (packed)            2 TB Dijon mustard 

Mix all ingredients until well combined.  Form patties of about 1/2 C of mixture and cook on a large non-stick skillet over medium-low heat until golden around edges, then flip to brown second side.  I like to serve extra Dijon on the side.

I got my mini-ciabattas at my local outlet store, but any nice, dense whole wheat bun will do, as would a sliced harvest grain style loaf.  I toasted the buns to add some chew, and to bring out the whole grain flavor. 

Gather a large bowl of varied salad greens, since this is such a simple meal and they will add color as well as a nice balance to the other menu items.  Then, for the dressing, combine in a blender: 

1/4 C extra virgin olive oil                1/2 C red wine vinegar

2 TB minced red onion                      1/4 tsp garlic powder

1/4 tsp basil                                          1/2 tsp seasoning salt 

If you are adding walnuts to the salad, a handful of crumbled feta or blue cheese would be very good, and would pair well, flavor-wise, with the burgers. 

See August 17, 2009 for my mother’s foolproof corn on the cob technique.  I predict you’ll want to write this time-tested approach into you recipe files, if it’s not there already. 

And finally, choosing the chocolate.  I have decided that choosing healthful dark chocolate may not be as complicated as some intimidating, two-page articles devoted to the subject suggest.  Basically, what we are looking for is the potent antioxidant effect of flavanoids, which balances hormones and helps cells resisit damage from free-radicals – those nasty atoms, molecules or ions with unpaired electrons that accelerate overall aging and plaque formation in artery walls.

The flavanoids found in cocoa can be lost in processing and milk interferes with antioxidant absorption, so go for non-Dutch-processed (which uses alkalai) cocoas and dark chocolates with little added to them.  Obviously this means no caramel-laden nut bars or nougat-dominated bon-bons, since they are more sugar and corn syrup than chocolate and have lots 0f unhealthful fats added in the manufacturing process.

“Doesn’t chocolate itself have fat?” I hear the cynics mumbling.  “Yes,” I respond forcefully, but 2/3 of the fat in pure choclate is monounsaturated – the good stuff that we can enjoy and still be conscientious.

So, dark over white or milk choclates, and the purer, less processed the better.  Pretty simple really.  There are also more and more mainstream products out there that don’t charge you an arm and a leg in an effort to save your heart.  Just keep the guidelines in mind, and look for “twofer” sales whenever possible.  

More beneficial food pairings for you to try:

***Broccoli and Tomatoes – to shrink prostate tumors            ***Lemon and Kale  – the fruit making the plant-based iron more absorbable

                                       ***Unprocessed (edamame, e.g.) Soy and Salmon – for protection againist some cancers

Entry filed under: Musings of a Midwestern Foodie. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , .

Summer Suppers and Questionable Quotes Health Care Catch-22s and Other Modern Day Challenges

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