Think Folate, Think Prevention
Folate continues to move into the vanguard of disease prevention and nutrition, especially for women. “We know that increasing daily consumption of folic acid to at least 400 micrograms reduces the risk of neural-tube defects in newborns,” notes Jeffrey Blumberg, Ph.D., of the USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University. “Unfortunately, the typical intake of American women is closer to 150 to 180 mcgs a day.”
Folate helps build red blood cells, the active woman’s bank account. A deficiency, although uncommon, causes abnormal cells to form and can lead to fatigue, difficulty breathing and anemia. Too little folate has been linked to elevated blood levels of the amino acid homocysteine, which may be a risk factor for heart disease. Research has also indicated that folate may reduce the risk of cervical dysplasia and cancer.
This is probably the easiest of the triad when it comes to getting the RDA–only 180 mcgs. Dried beans and green leafy vegetables are the best sources of folate. Buy fresh or frozen vegetables, then eat them raw or avoid overcooking them to preserve the folate. Whole grains, oranges and bananas are other good sources. Boost your daily intake of folate if you use oral contraceptives; they increase your need for it. Although most women get enough without supplements, check with your doctor if you’re planning to become pregnant to be sure you’re getting all the folate you need. WSF
Triad and True Mexican Dinner
This dinner provides a healthy amount of iron, calcium and folate. Combined with a balanced diet the rest of the day, you should have no problem meeting the RDA for all three nutrients.
Makes 8 servings.
Nutritional Information per serving: 463 calories
* 28 grams protein (24%)
* 65 grams carbohydrates (56%)
* 10 grams fat (19%)
* 170 milligrams calcium
* 4 milligrams iron
* 111 micrograms folate
Quick and Hearty Burritos
2 whole chicken breasts, skinned, boned and all visible fat removed
2 Tbs. freshly squeezed lime juice
1 Tbs. tamari or low-sodium soy sauce
1/2 Tsp. sugar
1 clove of garlic, crushed
1 recipe refried beans (recipe follows)
1 (14 oz.) can stewed tomatoes
2 Tbs. tomato paste
8 large tortillas
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese (optional)
Prepare chicken breast and place in a shallow dish, set aside. Combine the next 4 ingredients. Pour over the chicken and allow to marinate for at least 1/2 hour or up to 4 hours.
Prepare refried beans. Combine stewed tomatoes and tomato paste and puree in a food processor or blender. Remove chicken from marinade and broil for 2 to 3 minutes per side or until just cooked through; cut into 1/4-inch strips.
Fill the burritos with the refried beans, sprinkle with the thin strips of chicken and roll up. Place in lightly oiled baking dish. Top with tomato sauce and sprinkle with parmesan cheese if desired.
Bake in preheated 375[degrees] F oven for 30 minutes or until bubbly. Tent with foil if the cheese browns too quickly.
Versatile and Delicious Refried Beans
1 onion, chopped
1/2 green pepper, chopped
1-2 stalks celery, chopped
1-2 carrots, chopped
1 Tbs. sesame oil
1 (48 oz.) can pinto beans, drained
1-2 Tbs. fresh parsley, chopped Tamari or soy sauce to taste
In a large skillet, saute the fresh vegetables in the sesame oil on moderately low heat to avoid burning the oil.
Chop the beans coarsely either by pulsing in the food processor or with a potato masher. Add them to the vegetable mixture, cover and simmer for 5 minutes. Uncover and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Cook until the liquid is reduced and a creamy texture is achieved. Remove from heat and stir in parsley and season with tamari.