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More on Extracting Nutrients Out of What You Eat
Posted by Dr. Ben Kim on Sep 03, 2014
As mentioned earlier in this series, cooking vegetables and other plant foods can soften naturally occurring fiber, which makes it easier for your digestive system to extract the many micronutrients that are abundant in plant foods.
Another way to soften and even break down fiber in plant foods and thereby get the most out of what you eat is to blend some of your foods.
When I ran a residential fasting clinic, I found that people with chronic inflammatory bowel disease who couldn't tolerate even small servings of raw vegetables had little trouble digesting generous portions of blended salads.
I also found that people who had dental problems that made it difficult for them to chew their foods thoroughly benefited from blended meals, particularly blended salads.
How do you make a blended salad? It's quite simple, really. Combine a few leaves of romaine lettuce, one chopped tomato, half an avocado, and small chunks of any other raw vegetables that you enjoy (chopped onion and zucchini are nice choices) in a strong blender or food processor, add a tablespoon of freshly squeezed lemon juice, and begin blending while adding a slow drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil. Add just enough oil to allow the vegetables to come together into a thick soup-like consistency - you may be able to stop drizzling in oil after the first tablespoon or two and let the food processor do the rest of the work.
If you need to add a little extra flavor, season with a pinch of sea salt and pepper just before eating.
Blended salads don't look appealing at first glance, but they're exceptionally rich in nutrients and easily digested by people of all ages and health statuses. Think of them being like freshly pressed vegetable juices, but with all of the naturally occurring fiber still present.
Another way to promote optimal digestion is to blend steamed vegetables to make simple soups. Whenever I worked with people with severe ulcerative colitis - cases where it was common to have 30 or more episodes of bloody diarrhea per day - I found that the most easily digested meal was a bowl of plain Yukon gold soup, made by blending steamed Yukon gold (yellow flesh) potatoes with a little vegetable broth or freshly pressed celery juice. Also well digested by the masses was a bowl of soup made by blending steamed zucchini and vegetable broth or celery juice.
Blending soups can only help maximize the number of nutrients that your digestive tract is able to extract out of them; this applies to both cooked and raw soups. This is why the vast majority of healthy soup recipes in our archives call for blending of all ingredients to create easily digested soups.
If you'd like to invest in a blender that will serve you and your loved ones well for decades, the best machine that I can recommend is the Vita-Mix. It's a few hundred dollars, but in my opinion, the price is right; I haven't found another blender that's better at producing silky smooth soups and smoothies. And I like that while it's extremely powerful, it's relatively easy on the ears compared to most blenders on the market.
If the Vita-Mix is not within your budget, I recommend that you take a look at the Cuisinart Stainless-Steel Blender with Glass Jar, which also does an excellent job with soups, smoothies, dips, dressings, and sauces.
If you're keen to begin blending to get more nutrients out of the foods that you eat, here are a few recipes from our archives to get you started:
Please consider sharing this series with family and friends who don't know about the benefits of chewing thoroughly and including blended foods in their diets. Blending to promote optimal nutrient extraction out of foods is especially helpful to the young, elderly, and people with dental and digestive tract challenges.
Other articles in this What to Eat series:
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