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You are what you eat.

The notion tells us that to be fit and healthy, you need to eat good food.

Where did the saying originate?

Anthelme Brillat-Savarin wrote, in Physiologie du Gout, ou Meditations de Gastronomie Transcendante, 1826:

“Dis-moi ce que tu manges, je te dirai ce que tu es.”

That translates into English: Tell me what you eat and I will tell you what you are.

We are what we eat. We’ve all heard it, read it, but most of us probably still don’t quite believe it. After all, you’ve had burgers and fries and didn’t grow beef patty cheekbones or french fry antennae. So we’re not really what we eat … are we?

We are. Although it’s every bit is as true as it is hard to fathom.

You see, there is a power and promise in clean eating. So, we need to know what clean eating is. We have to know the meaning behind the phrase: You are what you eat. You should ask yourself, does it have to be organic? Not necessarily. Food can be organic without being nutritious — think organic gummy bears — or nutritious without being organic, such as conventionally grown broccoli. Organic is a good thing, but it’s not a summary measure of “clean.”

When we say clean eating, this involves foods that are are minimally processed and as direct from nature as possible. They’re whole and free of flavorings, colorings, additives, sweeteners, and hormones. I particularly like foods with one-word ingredients, such as spinach, cucumber, sweet potato leaves, salmon, and bean sprouts. The longer the ingredient list, the more room there is for hidden manufacturing additives — additions of chemicals, sugar, salt, unhealthy oils, and unnecessary calories. Most of the time, when you can’t understand anymore what is stated in the ingredient list, the more likely it is that you should not divulge from the package so no one gets too much processed stuff.

Today is my fourth day of quitting meat. I’ve realized it is not giving me any good. I could very well survive it. Although there are a few meals when I just happen to experience withdrawals but I didn’t give in. what has been greatly helping me in my first week of vegan diet is the sweet potato leaves.

Sweet potatoes are easy to grow in the tropics all year round. In the rural areas of the Philippines, one can often find patches of sweet potato plants in the yards of almost every house or hut. The food values and benefits of sweet potato leaves are often under-estimated. Sweet potato leaves have the highest content of total polyphenolics among other commercial vegetables studied. It contains protein, dietary fiber, lipid, and essential minerals and nutrients such as calcium, phosphorous, magnesium, sodium, potassium, sulfur, iron, copper, zinc, manganese, aluminum and boron.

Sweet potato leaves are rich in vitamin A, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin and ascorbic acid.

Sweet potato leaves are also excellent sources of antioxidative compounds, mainly polyphenolics, which may protect the human body from oxidative stress that is associated with many diseases including cancer and cardiovascular diseases.

Fifteen compounds have been found that could prevent heart disease, diabetes, some infection and some type of cancer, according to researchers.

Sweet potato leaves are not available though in your usual American grocery stores. This particular vegetable can be found in Chinatown, Houston, but there is a large demand for it. It fetches a price four times higher than cabbage and napa, three times higher than oriental eggplant, celery, and green beans. If you take the stems (which has to be discarded before cooking), that comes with it when you purchase it, the price is even higher. Yet, camote leaves, as it is called in the Philippines is considered a “poor man’s food.” Poor man’s food or not, I love the stir fried camote leaves with tomatoes and garlic. The spicier the dish, the better.

This here’s one of the recipes for sweet potato leaves:

Stir Fried Sweet Potato Leaves

INGREDIENTS

  • One bunch of sweet potato leaves (volume of the untrimmed bunch was 6-10 Qt.)
  • 1-2 tomatoes
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic
  • Salt, soy sauce, pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS

  • Fill a pot with water and put it on the stove over high heat. The pot should be large enough to hold the leaves, and there should be enough water to cover the leaves.
  • Strip the leaves from the branches. The thin stems that attach the leaves to the branch are tender enough to eat, so there is no need to remove only the leaves. Wash and drain the leaves.
  • Mince 1-2 cloves of garlic.
  • Chop the tomatoes fine, and combine with the garlic.
  • When the water comes to a boil, turn off the heat and carefully add the sweet potato leaves. After 2 minutes, remove and rinse with cold water. Chop the leaves. (This step was recommended by the cookbook to remove traces of natural slime from the leaves.)
  • In a large skillet or wok, heat some vegetable oil over high heat. When it is hot, add the garlic and tomatoes. Cook for 30 seconds, stirring often.
  • Add the greens, then stir-fry the mixture until the greens are tender, about 2 or 3 minutes. Add salt, pepper, soy sauce, or other flavorings to taste.

RECIPE BACKSTORY

Note: Separating the leaves from stems for some bunches of leaves can be a little tedious chore, but with this particular batch of sweet potato leaves, the leaves were attached to the tough branch by a long stem, and I was able to quickly strip them using my bare hands.

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