Thursday, April 28, 2005

10 years on a plate

Salmon, Spinach with Tomato and Mint Salsa

it may take me some time to get to the point so, in the meantime, enjoy the end product

I’m finding a curious trend in the books / movies that I’ve encountered of late:
- The life and death of Peter Sellers ~ the biography of a man obsessed with his on screen character to the detriment of his life.
- Supersize Me ~ a month in the life of a guy who forces himself to eat only McDonalds in order to prove a point.
- Round Ireland with a Fridge ~ the story of Tony Hawks travelling around Ireland over the course of a month with only a fridge (and national radio) as a companion.
- The Know it All ~ tracking the author’s attempt to read and digest the encyclopaedia britanica.

These have helped me reach a few conclusions:
- Peter Sellers may be my favourite actor
- Geoffrey Rush may be my favourite actor
- I must watch more Peter Sellers or Geoffrey Rush movies
- I need to explain the thread behind this blog fast …

These 4 books / movies (what's a good term for these .. media?) all of these reveal an odd similarity in their subject; a single-minded determination in the part of the hero to explore a theory or idea at the expense of everything else. It’s all method acting of a kind. Stressful stuff... the blog was in danger of becoming a similarly all consuming affair lately. I've decided to limit myself to a blog per week ~ increase the quality, lower the frequency (don't laugh).

To get away from the deadline stresses of blog writing, I recently went to have my cholesterol read (it’s cheaper than seeing a psychologist and, for me at least, I hoped that it would be more revealing). A week after the reading, upon contacting the doctors’ surgery for the results, Blanca was told that they could not give the results over the phone and wondered if I would come in person.

We went together. I fearing the worst … and Blancs wanting to grab a coffee (sometimes you need support no matter what motives it has). The doctor greeted me with an ominous “Hello Mr. Cooper, please come in and take a seat”. My life flashed before my eyes; all that cheese, all those steaks, why didn’t I just ease off a little. How could I have done this to my body … would I even make it to the seat without collapsing?

My fears were relieved when she followed with “How can I help you today?” Bless the NHS; the cutback in financing of the healthcare in the UK has at least ensured a certain lack of sentiment behind any life altering news that you may be delivered. I assumed that they wouldn’t tell me over the phone on the off chance that the worry and apprehension would cause a heart attack and allow them give my place to someone else in the queue.

The verdict was far more positive than I had anticipated. The result was a “moderately high” reading. Not bad considering that I have a moderately extravagant diet. It was a lower reading than 3 years ago (when I went to visit a similar psychologist). All in all I took it as a vindication and general thumbs up on my lifestyle.

The doctor was completely unwilling to give any creative advice on lowering my cholesterol other than getting it checked every 6 months and considering cutting out butter, salt and mussels. I tried to explain that I was married to a chef, she was Spanish and I had at least one blog reader to think about … but this seemed to fall on deaf ears (or at least hard of hearing, professional ears). It seems that in the UK it is better to die from dietary boredom than heart disease.

For this reason, I have decided to pursue a diet styled upon the great actors and authors of our time. Over the next 6 months (or week), I will become a “method actor” of nutritious diets. I will not sacrifice the salt in my soup, the saturated fat in my steak; but I will look at creative means to boast the chances I have of eating well and, according to some eager sources, adding 10 years to my life.

It turns out that I already eat well (there goes the quick wins). Our post-visit celebration meal serves as an indication of how easy it is to eat your way to health. In writing the analysis below, I have used the fascinating WHF website as source and explanation of various ingredients’ benefits.

- Salmon fillets
- Mint leaves
- Tomatoes
- Spinach
- Salt & pepper to season
- Olive oil & balsamic vinegar

As with the healthiest foods, the instructions are very simple. This also ties in nicely with my abilities as a cook. Starting with the tomato, slice it from the base. Cut the slices both horizontally and vertically in order to cube the fruit. For the mint, a new technique that I learnt (... uh, I've also forgotten the name, but will find out again and update). Roll a few leaves and slice finely in order to produce long cuts of the herb. Mix with olive oil and balsamic vinegar, season with salt and pepper as per your preference.

Fry the salmon in a pan with olive oil. Steam the spinach. For this we used a new steamer that I brought home from Japan, but any steamer will do. Really you are just trying to cook with the vapour in order to keep as many nutrients in the vegetable as possible.

Serve immediately with the salsa on top of the salmon.

So, why so healthy?

Harvested in March to May. Apparently, calorie for calorie, spinach provides more nutrients than any other food. It has antioxidants that fight cancer, it builds strong bones, it combats heart disease with vitamin C and magnessium. It also aids eyesight.

Slightly out of season, but still juicy. Antioxidants (lycopene) helps protect against oxygen damage and is protective against many types of cancer. What immediately strikes me is that tomato is extremely high (57%) in Vitamin C. This is apparently the most beneficial vitamin for fighting the hardening of veins. Interestingly, scurvy (lack of VC) is thought to produce what is called “leaky arteries”; allowing nutrients to be lost from the blood flow. Cholesterol is actually the bodies attempt to dam these leaks. Therefore, Vitamin C can fight leaky arteries and produce longevity and suppleness in arteries. OK, I’m sold.

Here’s the king of healthy eating. Cold water fish are a rich source of Omega 3, an essential fatty acid. This fat is required to keep the body in good working order. It is thought that it actually rectifies imbalances in the balance between the cholesterol types in the body. This theory extends to the reason why the Japanese and Mediterranean diets are (were) so successful for long lives. Omega 3 is something that I am going to continue my research on. It hasn’t been recommended by the doctor or by anyone that I know who has high cholesterol, but various articles and research sources talk about it. I am going to take supplements over the next few months and see the end effect on my cholesterol levels.

That’s all I have at the moment – I’m feeling weak right now. I’m going off to find a tomato eating salmon who has a spot in their schedule for lunch.


Lower Chol said...
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Lower Chol said...
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