In a nutshell, functional foods are those foods that when consumed, can have health benefits which help to reduce the risk of disease. You can also think of functional foods as the kinds of food that can give you a positive effect after eating them, as opposed to a neutral or negative effect. These types of foods are ones that work to improve your body function. This month, we are going to focus on functional foods. These can come in the form of whole foods (the best way), or as a supplement (a good way). We are going to be mostly focusing on a whole foods approach. At Weigh to Wellness Denver, we like to take a ‘Food as Medicine’ approach where we can, in combination with using more traditional Western Medicine, to promote optimal wellness.
Adding functional foods to your daily cooking can be overwhelming at first. If you’d like to learn more, we will be conducting a cooking class that specifically focuses on how to use functional foods in your daily diet. This class will be held on Saturday, August 10th. Please call the office if you are interested in this class or any of our other cooking classes.
Examples of functional foods include:
- Dark cacao is an antioxidant which can help in stabilizing blood sugar
- Coconut oil has anti-inflammatory, antiviral and antibacterial properties
- Turmeric has been linked to benefiting heart health, reducing cognitive decline, and cancer prevention
- Greek yogurt is a source of probiotics which can help to improve gut bacteria and immunity. It is also a great non-meat source of protein.
- Basil has antioxidant properties and can help with aging by reducing free radical damage. It can reduce swelling and inflammation.
One of my favorite functional foods is bone broth. We all know that chicken soup is healing when you aren’t feeling well and the broth is a big reason why! Bone broth is an excellent source of gelatin, which can be beneficial for our joints and skin. It also provides the amino acid glutamine, which supports the gut lining. It also helps to support the immune system which is why it is traditionally used to help soothe the common cold.
The best way to consume bone broth? Make your own! It is simpler than it sounds and can be done on the stove, slow cooker or even instant pot. The process of slowly simmering bones is how to obtain collagen and gelatin from them. The addition of apple cider vinegar helps to release the amino acids. Making your own broth ensures that you are getting all the best nutrients. There are some great shelf stable products out there, such as Kettle and Fire bone broths, which are made from high quality ingredients, but will not have as many of the beneficial nutrients of homemade bone broth, such as gelatin. Bonafide Provisions is a high quality product which is about as close as you can get for purchase at retail stores such as Whole Foods. You can often find homemade bone broths at farmer’s markets as well.
Basic Bone Broth
- 1.5 lbs chicken bones
- Fresh herbs of choice (oregano, rosemary, thyme…)
- 2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 3 celery stalks, roughly chopped
- 3 carrots, roughly chopped, greens included if attached
- 1-2 yellow or red onions, with skin, roughly chopped
- 1 tsp sea salt
Place chicken bones, herbs and vegetables in slow cooker. Fill with water until bones are fully covered. Cook on high for 4 hours. Reduce heat to low and add salt and vinegar. Cook 24-36 hours without disturbing. When done strain vegetables out. Keeps in fridge for 1 week, freezer for 6 months.
Check back with us during the month of January as we dive deeper into functional foods with more recipes and more information to share.