I am certainly not a picky eater by any means. However, there are some foods that, although they may be a healthy choice, I won’t eat them. I absolutely refuse to eat them at any time.
But am I missing out on important nutrients? I have quality stand-ins that do the trick. You may be able to relate to my “don’t-go-there” foods and some reasonable substitutes:
Beef liver is a good source of iron, vitamin 12 and zinc. Not only is liver an excellent source of iron, it contains heme iron which is the most absorbable form. So although one cup of beans may contain 8 mg of iron and 3 ounces of liver has 5 mg, the type of iron in beans is non-heme and only about 10% can be absorbed. I do enjoy baby beef liver if it is fresh, thinly sliced, thinly breaded and gently pan-fried. However, good liver is almost impossible to find in a restaurant and I am not skilled enough to cook it myself. Liver is also a great source of vitamin B12 and zinc, the two other nutrients required for the proper formation of red blood cells and oxygen transport.
My mother tried to prepare baby beef liver for me when I was a kid and I just hated the smell. You know you are not going to like something to eat when you can’t stand the smell of it cooking…Liver was a case in point. She tried to make me eat it because I was told that “it was good for me.”
Good for me or not, the mere odor of it cooking turned my stomach. Can you imagine how I felt when I first tried to eat it? I almost lost my cookies right there on the spot!
To this day, I cannot even stand to smell it cooking and when I see it in the store for sale, I simply can’t imagine how someone could take that home, cook it and then eat it. If people really knew what the liver actually does in an animal’s body, basically a dumping ground for garbage the body has taken in, they may be much more reluctant to eat it!
Red meat is a good substitution in this case, and although it does contain less iron per weight than liver, the taste is simply superior. I prefer lamb or beef, which also contain high amounts of protein, zinc and B12. I like my flank steak and striploin! Try to buy free-range, organic meats; they are quite lean and do not contain antibiotics.
Oysters are considered healthy because they contain higher amounts of zinc, iron, potassium, copper, selenium, B12 and vitamin D. This nutritional treat has to be consumed raw in order for the nutrient values to remain intact. They are also a great source of protein. Another unfortunate issue with oysters is you need to eat approximately one cup to get enough of the essential nutrients they contain. I don’t know about you, but I simply cannot eat raw oysters in any amount. They taste bad! Smell putrid and the mouth-feel is nothing short of nauseating. When I think of people eating these raw with their favorite beverage as a shooter, I almost want to cringe! The very thought of this is a stomach-turning experience for me.
Scallops are my answer to oysters. Although they are not as high in certain nutrients like B12, these tasty morsels from the sea have a very balanced nutritional profile. Scallops are low in calories and comprise protein and fats, especially the heart-healthy omega 3 variety. Fresh scallops braised on the barbecue mixed with some garlic butter are an excellent treat to top your garden salad to add protein.
I have never liked this fruit. Even as a pie filling, it is just too sour for me. Although it’s an excellent source of fiber, vitamins C and K, and the minerals calcium and potassium, are you kidding me? Who can eat this nasty stuff? Even as a kid trying it dipped in sugar was a wasted effort. As for pies, jams and crumbles, who in their right mind would ever want to make anything containing this unpleasant fruit that the birds even ignore? It’s bitter, sour and reminds me of eating wild, bitter celery stalks. Brutal!
My answer to rhubarb is cranberries. These gems are full of antioxidants, soluble fiber, the mineral manganese, and vitamins C, and K. I love to eat them in a homemade sauce with turkey, dried with raw mixed nuts or as a juice.
Although I enjoy red wine, I don’t much care for red or purple grapes. I find them sour and full of seeds and really not an edible fruit snack. However, when it comes to nutrition, red grapes are loaded with vitamin C, vitamin A, antioxidants and vitamin K. And they’re a great source of soluble fiber. I do have an excellent alternative to these: Blueberries.
Blueberries are my favorite fruit to add to other staple foods in my diet—Greek yogurt, cottage cheese and oatmeal. Blueberries are also very high in antioxidant chemicals, vitamin C, vitamin K and the mineral manganese. Much like other fruits, they are also an excellent source of soluble fiber needed to control blood sugar, cholesterol and blood pressure.
If you need to swap out some healthy foods that are not to your liking, try nutritious alternatives (like mine) and reap the benefits.
“Dietary Supplements Fact Sheets,” National Institutes of Health website; http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/list-all/, last accessed July 14, 2014.
Self Nutrition Data website; http://nutritiondata.self.com/, last accessed July 14, 2014.