By Dee McCaffrey, Director of Nutrition, Processed-Free America
March is National Nutrition Month®, the annual campaign by the Academy
of Nutrition and Dietetics that aims to focus the nation’s attention on
the importance of making healthy food choices. Since its inception in
1980, this annual campaign has made inroads with Americans. The results
of a recent Nielsen Global Health & Wellness Survey of 30,000 people
reveal that more and more consumers want healthy foods, and 88 percent
of those surveyed said they are willing to pay more for them. The reason
for this is a shift in consumer focus on the role diet plays in health.
Healthy eating is now a way of life for many people.
The National Nutrition Month® theme for 2018 is "Go Further With Food.”
Whether you’re a nutrition novice or veggie veteran, there’s always more
you can do to get the most from the foods you eat. This year's theme
encourages us to achieve the numerous benefits healthy eating habits
offer, but it also urges us to find ways to reduce food waste and
increase the nutrients we derive from our foods.
One way to reduce waste and increase nutrients is to properly store your
salad greens to use for meals during the week. There’s nothing more
frustrating than buying a big bunch of salad greens or lettuces only to
find they’ve turned bad a few days later. Greens are chock full of
vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants for a strong immune system
and healthy bowel, so you want to get the most out of your purchase.
Once you’ve washed the greens, it’s important to remove excess water to
prevent the leaves from wilting or losing valuable nutrients and flavor.
Greens can be dried by using a salad spinner, or by using paper towels
to soak up the excess water remaining on the leaves. Lay out the greens
on paper towels, then roll up like a jelly roll. Place the rolls of
greens and paper towels into a perforated produce bag and seal, making
sure to remove as much air as possible.
While in storage, the damp towels will help draw out the surface
moisture that is on the leaves and then, when the greens need it, gives
it back. Removing excess air prevents oxidation, which can turn greens
brown. When stored this way, clean greens can last anywhere from four
days to two weeks.
Proper storage of fresh greens is essential for ensuring their quality
and safety. Store greens in the crisper drawer at temperatures between
34°F and 40°F with relatively high levels of humidity. They should be
kept away from fruits, especially apples, tomatoes, bananas, and melons,
as these give off a great deal of ethylene gas that accelerates the
ripening process and hastens spoilage of all produce in the
Another way to increase your absorption of nutrients is to switch out
some of the grains you eat for the sprouted type. For example, if you’re
already eating brown rice, you can go further by eating sprouted brown
rice. It looks and cooks the same as unsprouted brown rice, but you get
more nutrition when it has been sprouted. Sprouting grains increases
many of the grains’ key nutrients, including B vitamins, vitamin C,
folate, ﬁber, and essential amino acids. Sprouted grains may also be
less allergenic to those with grain protein sensitivities.
Although sprouted grains may be new to some people, they’ve actually
been eaten by people all over the world for centuries. Until about a
hundred years ago, farmers harvested their grains, tied them into
sheaves, and left them in the field until they used them or sold them.
Inevitably, with this exposure to the light, moisture, and temperature
of the weather, the grains would begin to sprout. Sprouting can be done
at home on a small scale or commercially on a large scale by soaking
grains in water, draining, and rinsing, and keeping them in a moist
temperature-controlled setting to allow the sprouted process to occur.
Once the sprout forms, the grains can be dried and stored until used for
The sprouting process increases the amount and absorbability of some
vitamins (notably Vitamin C) and minerals like calcium and magnesium,
making sprouted grains much more nutritious than unsprouted grains.
What’s more, the sprouting process deactivates certain compounds that
block the absorption of some of the grain’s nutrients and that irritate
the lining of our intestines, which is why sprouted grains are much more
nutritious and less damaging to the intestinal tract than grains that
have not been sprouted.
Before the Industrial Revolution, people ate grains in the sprouted
form, not necessarily on purpose, but because that’s the way nature
provided them. Also, most flour used before the Industrial Revolution
was made from these sprouted grains. With the invention of the combine
harvester, the practice of sprouting grains was cast aside, and with it,
the valuable vitamins and minerals that the sprouting process produced.
You can now purchase grains that have been sprouted for just the right
amount of time, then dried and packaged. You can cook the grains in the
same way you cook unsprouted grains, or they can be milled into flours
to produce sprouted grain products such as breads, cereals, and pasta.
Celebrate National Nutrition Month® this March by going further with
food. The little choices you make each day can reduce waste and increase
the myriad of nutrients in your healthy foods.
Dee McCaffrey is an organic chemist, nutritionist, and author of The
Science of Skinny and The Science of Skinny Cookbook. Dee lost 100
pounds and has kept the weight off for 25 years by following a
whole-foods diet. She is the founder of Processed-Free America, a
non-profit organization dedicated to bringing a national awareness of
the effect processed foods have on our health, and the healing
properties of natural whole foods. She offers fee based one-on-one
nutrition counseling to help clients find the right nutritional balance
for their lifestyle. Contact Dee at 602-666-6257 or www.processedfreeamerica.org.
Back to Top