My mother called me two days ago to try to convince me that being a vegetarian would send me into early menopause.
"But I saw it on the news!" she exclaimed, as if that made it the gospel truth. As if some holy and all-knowing being had come down and whispered it in her ear. You know, the all-knowing being otherwise known as the Good Day New York Fox Five news crew.
Right. I changed the subject.
A few minutes later. "But Joanne, why don't you just eat chicken?" Because to her, chicken isn't meat. Chicken is oxygen, vegetable, mineral. The be-all and end-all of everything one should eat over the course of the day. The pinnacle of all that is good in this world. So obviously, as a vegetarian (or more accurately, pescatarian) I should eat it.
(As an aside, this recent vegetarianism/pescatarianism change of mine may or may not be permanent. I make no promises and refuse to hold myself to anything. But so long as I don't crave meat, I'm not going to eat it. Deal?)
Well, I have news for her. If I ever crave a meat again...I highly doubt chicken will be it.
My point being that most people are completely clueless about what vitamins, minerals and supplements they actually need in their diet. Understandable. Considering that the medical community really has no idea either.
Studies have not been done. There have been no randomized control trials. It's all just one big guessing game.
In that same conversation, my mother also told me that she was going to start taking glucosamine. For her joints. Uhhh what? Do you have arthritis? I asked her. Nope. Then don't waste your money.
As you may or may not have guessed, our topic for this week's Eat.Live.Be. is vitamins, minerals, and supplements. Also, as you may or may not have guessed, I am very brusque when it comes to this subject.
I am probably also going to offend people when I say that, on the whole. I don't believe in them.
Let me qualify that. I don't believe in them in pill form. Rather, I truly believe that if you eat a healthy well-balanced diet, you will never need to take another vitamin, mineral, or supplement again. And it will actually be better for you, because vitamins and minerals are absorbed and utilized much better when you eat them than when you swallow them in a pill. Take vitamin A, for example. Vitamin A eaten in food can do no wrong. You can not get too much of it and it will make you have gorgeous skin, better vision, and prevent cancer. If you take too much of it in pill form, however, it can give you osteoporosis, altered mental status, and is toxic to a fetus. Why? It all has to do with the preparation. The chemical structure in the pill is not the same as that which is eaten, so they do different things.
The other problem I have is with all of these random supplements. Biotin, coenzyme Q, glucosamine. Yes, we use them in our bodies ALL THE TIME. But there really is no proof that they are even absorbed in our intestines when we take them in a pill. Much better, in my opinion, to just eat good food and let your body do what it's been doing throughout all of evolution and make them itself from the building blocks you give it.
This all being said. There are people out there who have real serious metabolic deficiencies and cannot make these. In which case, listen to your doctor. Take the supplements. Some really are crucial...like iron for those with anemia, or B12/folate for those who are pregnant, or calcium for those of us who were underweight for a period of time and thus suffered from two very inconvenient pelvic stress fractures. So yes, I do take calcium. To be precise, I take Citracal. 2 tablets, twice a day when I remember (so four tablets total), but always at least once a day. But this is only because my orthopedist and rheumatologist absolutely ordered me to.
I'm sorry if I came off as severely didactic and critical in this post. This probably stems from my mother and co. calling me at least once a week to tell me that she has found the supplement that is going to cure her of all ailments in life and help her to live forever. I also have relatives who take, literally, a sugar pill every day (granted it's not your usual glucose but some weird kind of sugar) that they swear cures multiple sclerosis, cancer, heart disease, etc. and proceed to try to argue with me about it at every family gathering. I'm a scientist! I try to tell them. Show me some real scientific data! Otherwise, I'd rather just eat my fruits and veggies. They taste better anyway.
What do you guys think about all of this? What vitamins, minerals, and supplements do you take (I promise not to judge! To each his own!)? Write about it on your blog and link up here or leave a message in the comments!
And be sure to check out what the other Eat.Live.Be. bloggers have to say!
- Sarah Caron from Sarah’s Cucina Bella
- Cate from Sweetnicks
- Chris Arpante – Melecotte
- Patsy – Family, Friends and Food
- Claire – Cooking is Medicine
- Sarah Rogers – Sarah’s Sweet Creations
- Rivki from Healthy Eating for Ordinary People
- Claudia from Journey of an Italian Cook
- New Jersey Epicurean
Now let's get this pasta back in the limelight, where it belongs. This is a dish that is chock full of vitamins and minerals. It's high in thiamin, vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, iron, and potassium. It's a nutritional rock star.
Not only that, but it is the best baked pasta recipe that I've ever had. That pine nut/pesto crunch topping...sent me spiraling into food heaven. I basically want to top all of my pasta dishes with it from here on out. Or just eat it by the spoonful. Every day for the rest of my life. That seems rational, right?
Rigatoni with Eggplant and Pine Nut Crunch
Serves 6-8, adapted from Bon Appetit March 2011
1 unpeeled large eggplant (1 1/2-1 3/4 lb), cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 medium yellow bell peppers, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 cups grape tomatoes
2 large cloves garlic, divided
2 tbsp olive oil
2 cups (firmly packed) fresh basil leaves, divided
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, divided
1/4 cup pine nuts (or 2 tbsp pine nuts and 2 tbsp almonds for those of us who forget we don't have 1/4 cup pine nuts)
1 28-oz can whole tomatoes in juice (San Marzano please!)
1 cup almond milk (original recipe calls for heavy whipping cream)
1 lb rigatoni
Mozzarella for grating over the top (original recipe calls for 1 lb, but I used WAY less...maybe 1/4 cup)
1. Preheat oven to 425. Spray large rimmed baking sheet with nonstick spray. Add eggplant and peppers. Cut tomatoes in half lengthwise and add to sheet. Drizzle veggies with 2 tbsp oil. Toss. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast veggies until tender, stirring often, 35-45 minutes.
2. Combine 2/3 cup basil, 1/2 cup parmesan, pine nuts, and 1 garlic cloves in mini processor. Blend until crumbly. Season with salt. Remove to a bowl and set aside.
3. Blend tomatoes with juice, cream/almond milk, 1 1/3 cups basil, and 1 garlic clove in processor until smooth. Season sauce with salt and pepper.
4. Cook pasta in a pot of boiling salted water until just tender but still firm to bite, stirring occasionally. Drain. Return to pot. Toss with veggies, sauce, and 1/2 cup parmesan. Transfer to a 13x9x2-inch baking dish. Sprinkle with mozzarella and pine nut topping.
5. Bake pasta until heated through, 25-35 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes and serve.
I am submitting this to:
Presto Pasta Nights which is being hosted by Sweet Artichoke
Meatless Mondays which is hosted by Chaya of My Sweet and Savory
Maniac Meatless Mondays which is hosted by Rebecca Jean of Midnight Maniac
The Hearth and Soul Blog Hop