There's another measurement of food "health" that's making the rounds. The ANDI scale can be very useful whether your eating habits are just so so or you're eating well but still feeling like you aren't quite where you want to be nutritionally. ANDI stands for Aggregate Nutrient Density Index. The ANDI score of a food reflects its nutrient density on a scale from 1 to 100. Calculations for ANDI scores include consideration of a foods micronutrients including vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals and antioxidant capacities.
I came across the ANDI Scale on the Whole Foods website as they are now using it as a part of their whole foods Health Starts Here educational strategy. The ANDI Scale was created by Dr. Joel Fuhrman and is the base of his healthy eating strategy. Dr. Fuhrmann advocates a nutritarian diet, a concept of eating foods that maximize the nutrients in your diet.
You can use the scale as a way of learning the relative healthiness of the foods you eat. For example, what if you want to make sure you're getting the most bang for your buck out of a stew that includes greens and beans? The ANDI scoring system tells us that collards and kale are super nutritious at 1000 on the ANDI Scale, while spinach clocks in at an impressive 739.
I've mentioned before how I love tips & tricks to make home cooked meals even more health enhancing. I can see the ANDI Scale will be a new additional to my healthy cooking repertoire.
These two books teach such simple ways of enriching the healing quality of our foods, it’s a shame we aren’t all raised with this knowledge. But it’s available through these cookbooks!
Several years ago I bought a cookbook that changed forever the way I cook. Secrets from a Healthy Asian Kitchen by Ying Chang Compestine is not only a great cookbook, but suggests methods of cooking integrating health giving ingredients into a variety of dishes.
For example, those of us who are garlic lovers use garlic whenever we can for its taste, knowing we’re also reaping the benefits of its side effects of immune support, and support in preventing heart disease and cancer. She takes us further, advocating not only the regular use of garlic, but also ginseng, ginger & other healing foods.
One of the ingredients she advocates using frequently is green tea. You’ve no doubt heard that green tea has antioxidant cancer fighting properties; it’s also helpful in maintaining a healthy weight. Compestine uses green tea as a base in recipes where we would normally use water. It was a novel idea to me! As I got into the habit of using green tea, I expanded into other herbal teas depending on what I had available or what I felt I needed. In the spring, a rejuvenating tonic of dandelion tea can turn into a soup or spaghetti sauce base.
Taking the concept a step further, why not use the water left after steaming vegetables? Steamed broccoli gives a broth base to cook rice or pasta in. Now I almost always use a health giving tea or a vegetable broth as a base for my dishes. It’s a healthy addition to any recipe that doesn’t alter the taste.
Her recipes are light and delightful. This is where I learned to make a basic Thai sauce and candied walnuts for garnish. She includes a section on stir frying that includes an explanation of the order of foods to add in order to have them all cook together evenly.
Another book that has influenced my recipes is Sandra Cabot, MD’s Raw Juices Can Save Your Life!: An A-Z Guide to Juicing She provides the basic process for making health giving vegetable and fruit juices in your blender or juicer. She gives specific combinations that are the most effective for over 50 conditions including concerns such as candida, asthma, fluid retention and skin problems.She even covers different types of juicers. I have a good blender, not a juicer, so I have the choice of straining my results for a juice, or drinking it with the pulp. More often than not I strain it and use the pulp as a base for soup or a sauce. Juicing aficionados prefer a juicer that removes the pulp.
It’s a wonderful reference book too. I love that I can look in her book to see the beneficial nutrients and effects of different fruits or vegetables. If I’m feeling worn down, I know I need to pull out the wheat grass or if I have a cold coming on the garlic, ginger and lemons are on my list.
Try adding some of these simple tricks to your meal preparation, it's such a simple way to increase the value of the meal!