Friday, December 05, 2008

My new favorite website...

...brought to you by my new favorite vegetable. Celery.My eating habits are largely vegetarian. Not because I believe meat is murder, or any other silly, irrelevant nonsense like that (although I do take issue with things like high saturated fat, low digestibility, parasites, chemical and hormone additives, and meat processing cleanliness.) I just don't think meat is a very healthy food and not a smart choice if one desires to keep the number on the scale from creeping north, or is generally squeamish with regard to, oh, say... worms in your brain.

Ahem. But I digress. I am a fruit and veges kind of girl, although I will occasionally make an exception for chicken (one of the less risky meats in all the areas of concern I mention above) and love seafood. Hypocritically, I also love sushi and have been know to consume large amounts of it. Comparatively speaking, it is a billion times safer than pork. If you don't believe me, see the article above.

Last night I came home from WalMart with a Jeep full of veges, my favorite Italian mineral water, a bottle of wine, and the intention to make one of my favorite dinners - a huge vegetable platter. As I shopped, I had been trying to choose at least one vege that I don't customarily consume. (Usually it is broccoli, red bell peppers, baby carrots, and ranch dip.) Variety in one's diet is important - so I chose a big bag of celery.I've always thought of celery as being essentially devoid of flavor, and basically consisting of water and cellulose. As I washed and chopped the stalks and laid them out on the platter, I was aiming for bulk more than nutritional density. Big Ben, who loves carrots and broccoli as much as I do, stood close by eyeing the platter and me, hoping for a handout. I obliged him first with a leafy stalk of celery - which he mouthed once, placed on the kitchen floor, sniffed with apathy, and returned to looking at me, buttressing my basic belief that celery is better used for science projects and dressing up Bloody Marys. I handed him a carrot instead, and he pranced off to the office area rug with his booty, where I heard him chomping with glee.

Once the platter was prepared, I joined my husband on the sofa and dug in. There were only carrots and celery on the platter, and after a few bites, I found myself going for the celery nearly every time - and noticed Jesse wasn't doing much by comparison to diminish the pile of carrots either. "I may have to eat my words," I thought. "This celery is *amazing.*"

This new revelation led me to wonder about the nutritional value of this tasty new occupant of my crisper. Was I really consuming only water and cellulose, or might there be phytonutrients to boot that I was unaware of? I made a quick trip to my laptop (knowing Ben wasn't interested in stealing the celery) and Googled "nutrients in celery." And that is how I discovered

Eating right is a challenge, to say the least, in our culture of fast food, microwaves, and ignorance. Please don't take offense - you are excused from that designation if you can tell me what ingredient makes up 40 - 50% (by weight) of many popular breakfast cereals. I'll give you a hint - it ain't whole blew my mind. It offers data far more rich than the usual black and white Nutrition Facts table that we have all grown accustomed to seeing on the reverse of our food packages (if you don't know what I'm talking about, see the ignorance comment above.)

My query was answered with colorful charts rating the nutritional value, fullness factor, caloric ratio, nutrient balance, and protein quality of the item in question (raw celery.) I also found tables outlining vitamin and mineral content, fat and protein content, as well as an overall rating (in the opinion of Nutrition Data) as to the weight loss and optimum health value of the food I was investigating. Turns out, celery is full of Vitamins A and K, and is a good source of folate, potassium, dietary fiber, and manganese. It is even useful for lowering blood pressure. Who knew?

I will be taking frequent advantage of the wealth of information available at Nutrition Data, especially the Nutrition Target Map. If you are one of those who has been unhappy with the reading on the bathroom scale of late, write down everything you eat during an average 3 days - then type those choices into and examine the Nutrition Target Map, along with the accompanying assessment of that particular food's value for optimum health. Enlightening, practical, and significantly more reliable than the Great Dane test.


Anonymous said...

that was so boring, I want to see the girls, dead deer and fish, steeler stuff, even big ben licking himself....

Jennifer said...

that was NOT boring.
did jesse write that anonymous remark? thank you Leah. I enjoyed it very much, but i still do not like celery. chuck loves it. we are both trying to eat more healthy. and I LOVETH some sushi. lets meet up and eat a bunch! jenn