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July 7, 2009 - Kathie Evanoff
The time is almost here for summer vegetable gardens to begin exploding.
Our downsized garden has already produced several bowls of salad, beets, radishes, onions and potatoes. We have grape tomatoes getting ready to ripen and lots of blossoms on the bigger tomato varieties. Summer squash will be ready to harvest in just a few days. Within a week or two, we expect to be harvesting green beans.
This isn’t much really, as we limited our plantings this year to what we thought we could handle. Also planted were melons, cucumbers, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and eggplant.
An interesting piece on television caught my attention one day last week. My husband records a daytime talk show about doctors who discuss medical issues every weekday. We sometimes have time to watch the recorded program, and sometimes don’t, but this particular program caught my eye when they mentioned food dyes. I know a few people who are allergic to particular food dyes and have to watch what they eat very carefully, as these dyes can be present in places you would least expect.
One of the comments; however, did give me reason to be concerned, especially since we hear so much about free radicals and what they do to our systems on a regular basis. The doctor on the segment stated that the caramel coloring in cola encourages our bodies to produce more free radicals, which our immune systems must then work extra hard to eradicate. We do many things to fight against those free radicals.
Without going into a complicated explanation of what free radicals are (because I don’t know, I’m not a biologist), I do know that free radicals are bad and antioxidants are good. Antioxidants fight free radicals, which can cause all sorts of problems, most of which are the growth of cancer cells. Antioxidants are found in healthy food, fresh vegetables, fruits, red wine and dark chocolate. They are concentrated in things like broccoli sprouts. They are present in organic foods and lesser so in processed foods. Not a day goes by that we don’t hear or see something that claims to have lots of antioxidants to make us healthier and live longer.
Which is why it made sense to me that food dyes, artificially added substances created in laboratories, cause potential problems. These dyes also are found in places you would least expect, such as meat that has been dyed to look redder, or candy that is dyed to give it a fun color to eat. (I once put blue food coloring in my children’s milk thinking it would be fun to drink blue milk, then immediately dumped it out when I realized food should not be blue and it made me nauseous).
We continue to search for healthy ways to eat and summer is the easiest time to do it. I love going to local farmer’s markets (not all farmer’s markets sell locally grown food), picking something fresh from the garden and finding new ways to prepare the bounty we are blessed with this time of year.
So hear you have my lunch today. A salad made with not just lettuce, radicchio, and shredded carrots, but for added protein a handful of black beans and corn. I admit that this salad came from a local restaurant and not my back yard, but after seeing it, not to mention eating it, I will remember that I can toss beans in amongst the lettuce and what a great way to use up that leftover corn from the cob when that season is among us next month.
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Salad is the perfect lunch, but if you don't think it will fill you up enough, toss in some beans, corn and grilled chicken. It's also a perfect way to use up last night's dinner leftovers without it being an exact repeat of dinner.