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Rainbow Kitchen

Cleaning off the Kitchen Counter

By Allison St. Claire
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The subjects who enjoyed the salad with the avocado absorbed seven times the lutein and almost 18 times the beta carotene as the testers munching fat-free salads.

In the spirit, if not in total deed, of spring cleaning, here are some of the gems lying around on my kitchen counter I’d like to offer for your ongoing enjoyment of good food and excellent health – a book, some products, and information I have found both helpful and delicious.


Remember the Fats

Kelley Herring ( reminds us: If you eat your fruits and veggies low-fat style, you're not just missing out on great flavor but vital nutrients too. In fact, research shows that when we cut the fat in our diet, we also hamper the absorption of a wide array of powerful disease-fighting compounds.

And while the old adage says "You are what you eat," the truth is closer to "You are what you absorb." Many potent nutrients found in foods are fat-soluble. This means, in order for the body to unlock the healing power of these compounds, some fat also needs to be present.

Recent research performed at the Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center in Columbus looked at how adding avocado to a meal affected its nutrient absorption. Specifically, the researchers evaluated carotenoids — a group of red, yellow and orange pigments that are known for their powerful antioxidant activity and cancer-fighting action.

In the study, the researchers compared a fat-free meal of salsa and bread to a meal of salsa, bread and avocado (increasing fat content to 37% of calories).

Blood tests showed that the men and women who ate the avocado with their meal absorbed 4.4 times as much lycopene and 2.7 times as much beta-carotene than those not eating the avocado.

The researchers were so intrigued with their findings they repeated the study. But this time their meal of choice was salad. The low-fat salad was comprised of romaine lettuce, baby spinach, shredded carrots and a fat-free dressing (fat content roughly 2%). This was compared to the same salad with added avocado (fat content 42%).

The subjects who enjoyed the salad with the avocado absorbed seven times the lutein and almost 18 times the beta carotene as the testers munching fat-free salads.


Although Kelley focused on avocado as a healthy fat source, any good fat helps: non-factory- farm animal fats, olive or grapeseed oil, butter, butter or more butter, for instance. Just please stay away from vegetable oils like corn, soy, canola, margarine or any butter substitute. And if you do like avocados, try these delicious recipes:


Getting Past the Sweets

Reviewing all the recent holiday or special event gift offerings from Halloween through Christmas, New Year’s, Valentine’s Day — everything seems to center on sweets. Even St. Patrick’s Day. Do you realize the McDonald’s famous Shamrock Shake contains a total of ½ cup (115 grams) of sugar in its 22 oz. (2-3/4 cups) drink? Plus 135 grams of carbs? Not picking on just McD’s. If you want to know why we Americans have become so addicted to obesity- and chronic disease-causing foods, by all means pick up and devour instead Salt, Sugar, Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us, by Pulitzer Prize winning author Michael Moss. Thought provoking as well as stomach turning and gut wrenching. As the book jacket blurb concludes: You’ll never look at a nutrition label the same way again.

For an alternative, comforting gift site, check out Their Flu Fighter Package, for example, contains: a half-gallon chicken noodle soup, a plush blanket, cozy socks, a hand-written note and plenty of TLC. The soup contains no preservatives or additives, and a portion of their sales goes to the American Cancer Society. (And yes, you can also get some cookies or white chocolate cranberry sweet bread or dinner rolls for a small treat for the psyche too.)


But When Only Chocolate Will Do

The grocery shelves with snack and “nutrition” bars keep expanding, seemingly by the minute. But beware! Your waistline might just follow if you succumb to their tempting marketing ploys, “healthy” sounding names, and often less-than-nutritious ingredients. Despite offering you that chocolate thrill with apparently wholesome nuts and berries and good-for-you coconut, far too many also contain soy (a no-no that boosts the protein while messing with your endocrine system), synthetic vitamins, and the usual chemical stew that your body does not accept as food.

Here are two web sites I suggest for outstanding energy bars. Both offer fully organic ingredients, low sugar, low carbs, and superfood ingredients that pack more nutrition into a compact little bar than you could likely heap onto a plate for a single meal. And yummy too!

Their bars seem pricey, but offer excellent value for the money. I am generally satisfied with just a couple of bites every hour or so throughout the day. The flavor lingers, there’s no blood sugar spike, nor artificial ingredients that stimulate our appetites to keep eating. Which brings us full circle – be sure to read the book Salt, Sugar, Fat mentioned above.



Allison St. Claire loves to dream about, study, grow, play with, prepare and ultimately enjoy eating great food.

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