Ingredient to Master: Radishes

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^^ Goal: To be drawn to radishes for reasons other than the vibrant pink color

I make a serious effort to try foods that I’m not really crazy about, because I know that it can take multiple exposures to a new food before one begins to acquire a taste for it. And life is just so more enjoyable when you aren’t picking around your plate, and can appreciate the subtle complexities of a varied diet. The current ingredient that I’m learning to love like tolerate is radishes.

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^^ First attempt: Radishes + Buttered Toast (when in doubt, start with butter)

Apparently, I have overestimated the rapid malleability of my taste buds. Because despite my numerous attempts to appreciate the distinctly peppery bite of this gorgeous, spring hued vegetable, I can’t seem to get past a meager acceptance of the flavor.

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^^ Second attempt: Radishes + PB (because PB improves everything)

It’s time to change my approach. Rather than letting the radishes steal the show, I’m seeking out recipes where radishes play more of a supporting role, or have their sharp flavor mellowed through the oven. Below I’ve rounded up a few recipes from across the web (thank you, Pinterest) that look like a good place to start…

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Spring Rotisserie Sandwiches with Radishes, Avocado, and Buttermilk Dressing from Whole Foods Market

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Lentil Tacos with Tomato Radish Salsa from Chez Us

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Watermelon Radish, Cara Cara Orange, and Goat Cheese Salad from Alexandra’s Kitchen

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Radish Toasts with Edamame Spread from Vanilla & Spice

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Roasted Radishes with Rosemary from Olive and Herb

What is your favorite way to enjoy radishes?

– Kelly

The Truth About Butter

butter

Image via BOJ

Leave it to science journalists to convince the public that butter and bacon are heart healthy foods. From the Wall Street Journal’s, Questionable Link Between Saturated Fat and Heart Disease, to Mark Bittman’s Butter is Back in the New York Times, several articles have been quick to sing the praises of artery-clogging saturated fat.

Their ammunition is a recent meta-analysis in the March issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine. This study is a review of previous studies that compares heart disease rates to fat intake. The authors found that when saturated fats are replaced with refined carbohydrates and added sugars, heart disease risk increases despite the low level of saturated fat. What this study failed to report is that when saturated fat is replaced with monounsaturated fat in the form of olive oil, nuts, or avocados, heart disease risk actually decreases.

Nowhere did the authors suggest that saturated fats are beneficial for health. So while butter may be dubbed the lesser of two evils (when compared to added sugars), the goal of healthful eating should be to find foods that are proven to actually nourish you and prevent disease. The gold standard of nutrition should not be to pick foods simply because they are “not as bad as” others. Additionally, the best way to assess nutrition and health is to look at the overall diet, rather than one nutrient at a time.

Was eating less butter and bacon the downfall of American health and nutrition? Definitely not. The real culprit, as the study points out, is the prevalence of sugar-laden processed foods. If you want to eat for health, choose a dietary pattern with decades of research behind it, such as the Mediterranean diet, that emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish, legumes, and healthy fats such as nuts and olive oil.

For more on the saturated fat debate, see these articles:

For some of my favorite heart-healthy recipes, see here:

Quinoa Salad with Dried Cranberries and Marcona Almonds

– Kelly