We often encourage you to challenge your assumptions around here. Usually when we do, the topic has slightly deeper energy. Today I’m going to push you to address skeptically the notion that you need chips to enjoy guacamole.
We have conditioned our minds that we can’t truly enjoy certain foods without the accompaniment of others. We can unwind that conditioning with a little practice. The first step is acknowledging the health benefits of the food without its perceived perfect match. Let’s riff on the guac I whipped up yesterday.
I used an avocado, yellow cherry tomatoes, garlic powder, organic hot sauce, a single radish, Himalayan pink salt, some chopped onions and that’s it.
The pulp of the avocado is actually much lower in phytonutrients than these other portions of the food. However, while lower in their overall phytonutrient richness, all portions of the pulp are not identical in their phytonutrient concentrations and the areas of the pulp that are closest to the peel are higher in certain phytonutrients than more interior portions of the pulp. For this reason, you don’t want to slice into that outermost, dark green portion of the pulp any more than necessary when you are peeling an avocado. Accordingly, the best method is what the California Avocado Commission has called the “nick and peel” method.
Think those yellow tomatoes don’t match the nutritional density of the red ones? Of course that’s what you’re thinking about. From whfoods.com:
Did you know that tomatoes do not have to be a deep red color to be an outstanding source of lycopene? Lycopene is a carotenoid pigment that has long been associated with the deep red color of many tomatoes. A small preliminary study on healthy men and women has shown that the lycopene from orange- and tangerine-colored tomatoes may actually be better absorbed than the lycopene from red tomatoes.
This guac had plenty of flavor packed into every bite and needed nothing else. So why do we think we need chips with guac? Even once we begin to question this initial assumption, our thoughts often lead us astray. You can run a quick web search and you’ll find countless replacements for tortilla chips. From crackers to blue corn to matzo, they are all just substituting one lower fat (ughhh) processed product for another and you know how we view those “foods.” From health.harvard.edu:
Don’t be so refined. The bolus of blood sugar that accompanies a meal or snack of highly refined carbohydrates (white bread, white rice, French fries, sugar-laden soda, etc.) increases levels of inflammatory messengers called cytokines.
Your healthy guac loses a lot of benefits when you pair it with the processed crunch. You can scoop it with raw veggies or just skip the intermediate step and dive in with a spork. The latter is more my speed.
More broadly, we can step outside our cultural assumptions and reconsider our food pairings and timings entirely. Why are eggs a breakfast food and why must we always pair them with toast? Our notions of what the first meal of the day have evolved significantly over the past century. From historic gastronomist Sarah Lohman:
America at the turn of the century was just as vast and varied as it is now. Fannie Farmer’s The Boston Cooking-School Cook Book, from 1906, which I think is a decent judge of what the average, multi-generational, Midwestern or New England American family is eating or aspiring to eat, is showing a meal that includes: fruit; hot cereal like Quaker oats or hominy; a substantial meat like beefsteak, ‘warmed over lamb,’ or broiled halibut; potatoes, toast, or muffins; or, of course, coffee.
Even the concept of “breakfast,” as we know it, is primarily a Western affect. Many Asian cultures start their day with very similar foods to what they eat in the evening (fish in the morning kicks ass). In fact, the entire notion of three meals a day isn’t based in science, but merely on a general social convention.
Next time you’re about to sit down to a big bowl of Wheaties because you need a healthy breakfast, remember that you’re primarily consuming decades of concerted advertising efforts. General Mills is whipping you in a mental cage match. Have a pork chop instead and swing back.