Friday, February 26, 2010

Eat Your Vegetables

Dr. Lee is back with travels and vegetables.

by Dr. Albert Lee
As an avid photographer, I usually have my camera with me whenever I dine out, be it in my hometown or abroad. In the many places that I have visited, getting to the kitchen to talk to the chef and watch him cook is not an obstacle. If the food is excellent, I tell the waiter/waitress to convey the message to the chef. Without fail, the chef will come out of the kitchen and thank me for the compliment. After all, almost everyone is proud of his/her work regardless of their profession.
In Amsterdam, I saw a sign in front of the restaurant that says, "special for today----fish head soup." I was intrigued so I went in to check it out as I am very fond of fish head soup. I later found out that fish head soup is a delicacy among Hungarians, so he said.
In Beijing, I was able to penetrate the kitchen to watch the art of preparing Peiking duck at the Peiking duck restaurant. This restaurant exclusively serve Peiking duck only. What a delight to see a spotless kitchen with charming chefs in their white uniforms. To me, they all looked like surgeons ready to do a major operation. As a matter of fact, the chef will carve the duck in front of the customers like a surgeon taking out a gallbladder----with ease and finesse.
Just a few days ago, I was invited to dine at an authentic vegetarian restaurant in downtown Houston. Looking around, I saw several dishes being served to customers close to our table which arouse my curiosities. I asked to see the chef and was pleasantly surprised by the eagerness of the chef to show me his kitchen. Soon, we were talking like long lost cousins and he was showing me how he prepares the dishes. Oh, what an artist he is! We had a hearty meal and I was able to take numerous photographs of his work.
Vegetarian food must be the healthiest food for humans. A vegetarian diet is nutritionally adequate. A person living on a vegetarian diet can add ten to fifteen years to his longevity. People on this diet has less chances of developing high blood pressure, diabetes mellitus, coronary heart disease, cancer, gallstones, obesity and food born diseases. In the United States the total direct medical cost attributable to meat consumption were estimated to be 30 to 60 billion dollars per year for the diseases mentioned above.
The vegetarian food derives its protein from beans and lentils-----kidney beans, lima beans, pinto beans, cranberry, great northern, garbanzo, soy, and black eye peas.
Soy has isoflavones such as genistein and daidzein, which act as phytoestrogens which inhibit tumor growth, lower cholesterol, lower risk of blood clots and lower bone loss. In contrast, grilled, cured and smoked meat and fish produce cyclic hydrocarbons and heterocyclic amines which are carcinogenic.
Broccoli, brussels sprout, cabbage and cauliflower has cancer protective properties.

Carrots, tomatoes, cucumber, grapes, cantaloupe and berries have all their unique benefits. Whole grains, flaxseed, nuts, garlic, turmeric, scallions, onions, chives, ginger, rosemary thyme, oregano, sage and basil are all known to have significant benefits for our body. Mushroom such as white mushroom, sheitake, maitake, oyster and enoki mushrooms are widely available through culture and these add to the flavors of vegetarian dishes.
People on pure vegetarian diets must take B12, vitamin D, calcium, iron and zinc supplements.

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