Food Basics Part I where I discuss my initial experiences with the principles of "Proper Food Combining" and "Raw Food Vegetarianism" as well as the pitfalls of "Lunch Righteousness."
Food Basics Part II where I give a progressive overview of my "Fruit First" breakfasts ending with my very simple recipe and long-term storage ideas for "Green Smoothies".
Food Basics Part III where I describe how to create my "Finger Salads".
Food Basics Part IV where I describe a simple way to sprout lentils, mung beans, sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds.
Food Basics Part V where I discuss how to prepare my "Special Egg Fried Rice".
In this blog I am going to explain in more detail why I have focused on consuming these foods in particular:
3. Sunflower Seed and Pumpkin Seed sprouts
4. Brazil nuts and Cashews
5. Mung Bean Sprouts and Lentil Sprouts
7. Brown Rice and Wild Rice
10. Romaine Lettuce
12. Greens - Kale, Spinach, Swiss Chard
About one year into my early exploration of "Natural Hygiene" which I discuss at length in my "Food Basics Part I" post, I decided to go give blood. However, when they measured my hemoglobin it was registering as "low" and the nurse suggested that I look into taking iron supplements. Of course, knowing what I knew then about "supplements", I knew I could do better, I could find some other whole food alternative, I just needed to do a little more research.
That research led me to purchase a copy of the following manual: Composition and Facts About Foods... by Ford Heritage. It has been a critical reference for me ever since.
What I found to be particularly useful about this little manual was that, not only did it offer a very thorough nutritional analysis of whole foods (as illustrated here)...
...it had another section where each major nutrient was listed and then foods containing that nutrient were listed in descending order according to the relative amount of that nutrient they contained compared to all of the other foods analyzed.
As I was concerned about finding foods high in iron, I simply turned to the "Iron" page and sitting there at the very top of the list was something called "Dulse".
I had no idea at the time what "dulse" was, but it did not take me too long to find out that it was a type of seaweed. I found some of the dried, full leaf version at the local health food store and along with my fresh oranges in the morning, I would roll some dulse leaves in romaine lettuce and eat it like a juicy, salty snack. As I explain in my "Food Basics II post", that procedure evolved over time so that now I simply add the flaked version of this washed and sun-dried seaweed to everything: green smoothies, egg-fried rice, the occasional soup or sandwich, pizza, or even the (rare) salads and entrees bought at restaurants (as I often carry a small container of dulse with me). You can usually find it in 4 oz packages in a lot of the health food stores. You can also buy it directly from one of my favorite companies: Main Coast Sea Vegetables.
Within a relatively short period of consuming dulse regularly, I could literally feel the difference in my energy levels, in terms of feeling "oxygenated" and clear-headed. However, I also learned, that if my life-routine got so disrupted that I was not able to get my daily intake of dulse, within two or three days I would once again be feeling tired as in anemic. Furthermore, with the iron in my blood that I needed, my cravings for sweet foods (i.e. for sugar high "energy") started to level off.
Granted, I have not gone to give blood lately, but I had plenty of blood tests while I was in the Navy, and the fact that I continue to have the energy I need to Ride My Bicycle Across the Country at the getting "more mature" age of 48 (as of this writing), then, after 20 years, the Dulse is one thing I make sure I do not run out of. Furthermore, it kind of boggles my mind that more people, especially those who are vegan or vegetarian, do not know about this excellent source of not only organic (as in Plant Based) iron, but also many other organic trace minerals.
However, I did not stop my research on the "iron" page of my Composition and Facts About Foods manual. Over the years, I have focused my food choices primarily on those foods which: a) I enjoy eating, b) are readily available, and c) rank high on one or more of those pages. Should you purchase this manual yourself you will discover that, for instance, sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds show up very highly on many of these lists. (It is no wonder the birds go after sunflower seeds as much as they do as they really are loaded in nutrients.) Pumpkin seeds may be a little expensive, even in bulk, but, again they are Nutrient Dense and when you sprout them, it makes those nutrients even more available for assimilation.
Although it may be strange to eat "Finger Salad" with No Dressing or Dip, I really enjoy eating these whole foods. Because I am Not regularly overwhelming my tastebuds with high concentrations of sugar, salt, and other chemical flavorings that show up in so many processed foods, I can taste what cucumbers, tomatoes, celery, and lettuce are supposed to taste like. And because I have seen where these foods show up on each one of these lists, I know where I'm getting my Calcium from, and I know where I'm getting my B-vitamins, and I know where I am getting things like Silicon and Bromine. I know that celery is one of the best foods I can put in my body because it helps regulate my pH balance as it is one of the most alkaline foods available and, if I ever need it (which is not very often), it makes a great, natural antacid. What I have discovered is that if I want to keep things simple, and yet cover all of my essential nutrients, I can do that with the foods I have discussed in this series.
For my own personal metabolism, I have found that I also enjoy: Organic Sharp Cheddar cheese and stone-ground whole wheat crackers, tuna salad that I make from - guess what - celery, mung bean sprouts, lentil sprouts, sunflower seed sprouts, pumpkin seed sprouts, dulse, and some light mayo of some kind. And I also like to occasionally eat sardines that I lay on romain lettuce leaves, spread with mayo and sprinkled with - dulse - which I then roll up and eat by hand. I eat sprouted whole grain bread which frequently gets made into organic peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and I also like to eat "Luna" bars every once in a while. Those are my "desserts".
What I know though is that the majority of my actual nutritional needs are met by the foods I listed at the beginning of this post. Everything else is kind of "extra", although I suspect there are some Omega 3 oils or something like that in the fish that have value, as well. And I do include eggs in my "Egg-Fried Rice", and I like to make fried egg sandwiches once in a while (with romaine lettuce and Dulse - instead of bacon).
Furthermore, all of these foods can be routinely packed in a Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner bag as necessary. This is the typical bag I would pack every day when I worked in a lab at the National Institutes of Health:
Breakfast - Green Smoothie with Dulse, soaked almonds, or Brazil nuts and cashews.
Late Morning Snack - Six stone-ground wheat crackers and six slices of sharp cheddar cheese (about an ounce).
Lunch - Finger Salad
Late Afternoon Snack - Luna Bar or Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich
Dinner - Egg Fried Rice with Dulse (Coming straight from the refrigerator, by the end of the day it was up to room temperature and I would just eat it that way rather than heating it.)
On weekends, when I prepped my vegetables for my "Finger Salads", often with left-overs, that's when I would make either tuna salad, or sardine salad, or maybe have an organic frozen pizza to which I would add my sprouts and seaweed just after it came out of the oven.
The only changes that I made to this basic routine for my bike trip was the addition of a mixture of "Cliff Shot" electrolyte powder, organic sugar, and filtered water, for drinking while I am riding, a few more Luna Bars to cover the additional calories I am burning, and instead of PB&J's, I did the "dried" version (with chocolate); i.e. peanuts, raisins, and M&M's (the "classic" trail mix). Also, I found that my hosts tended to want to feed me once I reached their homes and so I welcomed their hospitality and ... added dulse, and sometimes my sprout mix when I had it. Otherwise, if I stayed long enough, I would cook my egg-fried rice recipe to share with them.
I hope you can appreciate that: 1) This diet regimen did not come about for me overnight. I've been working on it for many years now, and 2) It really is not that difficult once you know a few things, especially about those foods that are particularly Nutrient Dense. Give yourself some time to adjust to the "blandness" if you are used to eating more highly processed and seasoned foods. And, just so you know, a lot of garlic can compromise your taste for things like this as well. That is one of the reasons I avoid eating garlic almost completely and onions most of the time.
As I said way back at the beginning of this series: It is important that everyone find what works best for them. But knowing some simple Food Basics can help build a foundation, especially for people who are working and commuting long hours, but still want to be able to prepare their own food on a regular basis.
I hope you have found this post and the whole series helpful. If you have any questions or comments, your feedback is always welcome.