Food Synergy

Posted by Colleen

Do you know what synergy is?  The definition of synergy is; the combined power of a group of things when they are working together that is greater than the total power achieved by each working separately. Did you know plants have synergy?  Some plants work well with each other and some plants the synergy is negatively impacted.

Spring is here and it’s time to start thinking about what vegetables to plant in your garden.  Two plants that grow peacefully together are corn and potatoes in adjacent beds, but corn and indeterminate tomatoes not so much.  Corn acts as a support for climbing bean vines, the beans fix nitrogen in the soil for the high feeding requirements of corn and squash, and the squash provides mulch and root protection for the corn and beans.  After cooperating, beautifully in the garden, corn and beans form a complete protein when eaten together.  How’s that for synergy!

Peas and lettuce don’t compete for sunlight and peas actually help shade lettuce to stay cooler, synergy, working together.  Since most people like to grow tomatoes, tomatoes are a good source of lycopene, herbs like parsley, basil, mint and chives are all good companions for tomatoes.

Fennel nothing likes to get near it so maybe container gardening would be better suited.  Fennel releases a chemical which does bad thing to its neighbors.

And as far as food goes when it gets from your garden to your table here are some helpful hints; if your making bean soup add tomatoes in your soup the tomatoes will help you absorb the iron in your beans.  There is a beneficial compound called, sulforaphane, found in broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, mustard and horseradish and this compound is more readily absorbed, when you eat a mixture of foods from the broccoli family, rather than any single one.  Try tossing a little grainy mustard to your steamed broccoli for an added zest of flavor and nutrition.

Here is a recipe for a salad dressing using grainy mustard; 3 TBSP extra-virgin olive oil, 2 TBSP balsamic vinegar, 1 TBSP spicy brown mustard, ½ tsp dried dill, sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste.  Whisk the first three ingredients together in a small bowl, add the dill, salt and pepper whisk again to combine.  Put in fridge for 30 minutes to blend flavors.

This dressing is excellent on a broccoli salad, a green salad with chopped leftover chicken for protein, sliced avocado for good fat and your favorite chopped veggies.  Add a tablespoon of sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds for garnish and enjoy.

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