We’ve all got our favourite food combos: fish and chips, cheese on toast, roast beef and Yorkshire pudding (none of which are mine anymore, obviously).
But there are some others which you really need to know about. The Brangelinas of nutrition. These culinary partnerships do what every happily-married couple should do, i.e. bring out the very best in each other, thus packing a formidable punch in terms of nutrients-released-per-mouthful:
- Spinach and peppers (capsicums):
Peppers are high in Vitamin C, which helps with the body’s intake of iron (notoriously hard for any of us to absorb efficiently). Iron can be found in abundance in spinach, so by eating the two together, you’ll be warding off anaemia and drooping energy levels. You get the same results for the same reasons with tinned tomatoes in a home-made chilli too.
- Lemon and leafy greens:
Exactly the same as above, and for the same reasons. Since reading about this while I was in Australia, I’ve developed the habit of squeezing lemon juice on to spinach and all other leafy greens whenever I eat them, whether raw or cooked.
- Oatmeal(porridge oats) and almonds:
We all know that porridge and the like is good for us because of its low GI (meaning it releases its energy slowly), helping to avoid energy crashes and resultant surplus snacking. The protein in the almonds slows down the absorption of carbs from the oats even more, meaning you’ll probably make it all the way through to lunch without even the slightest hunger pang. Don’t like whole almonds? Try the ground version instead.
- Tomatoes and olive/walnut/hemp oil:
Cancer-busting lycopene is higher in tomatoes than any other fruit or veg. Lycopene is fat-soluble, meaning we need fat to be able to ingest it, making a slick of olive oil dressing the perfect partner.
- Broccoli and olive/hemp/walnut oil:
As with the tomatoes and oil combo, the fat in the oil helps the body to absorb fat-soluble Vitamin E – the ultimate skin and heart vitamin. The same also applies to wholemeal toast or bread topped with olive spread.
- Green tea and lemon juice:
I have to admit to being a sucker for Jackson’s of Piccadilly Sencha green tea and lemon tea bags, but of course, the results are even better if you use fresh lemon juice. And by results, I mean the breakdown of the anti-ageing antioxidants in the tea so you get the benefit of 80 per cent of them.
- Tofu and spinach stir-fry with sesame seeds:
Calcium-rich tofu combines with magnesium-heavy sesame seeds and spinach, helping to maximise the body’s intake of the calcium (who needs milk, eh?)
ON THE OTHER HAND….
There are certain other food pairings which aren’t so good, mainly because different food types are digested at different rates. Get the mixtures wrong, and you’re creating a digestive free-for-all in your body.
- FRUIT AND EVERYTHING!
The biggie here is fruit. You may have heard the saying about melon “Eat alone, or leave alone”. Well, it actually applies to all fruit. Unless you want indigestion and a gassy stomach, fruit should only be eaten on an empty stomach, and a couple of hours at least before anything else. It’s a mystery why more often than not, we tuck into fruit as a dessert.
- COFFEE AND EGGS:
America, are you listening? Apparently, the polyphenols in coffee interfere with your body’s ability to absorb the iron. I guess that counts fillet steak and a frothy cappuccino out as well, then.
Look, I’m not using this as an excuse to bring up the subject again, but if you imagine how tough milk is to digest because of its waaaaay-too-high protein content, you’re adding insult to injury by combining it with something else.
- PROTEIN AND STARCH:
Yep, maybe your beans on toast are to blame for certain embarrassing moments, but not for the reason you originally thought (the poor beans have shouldered the blame all this time). Peanut butter on toast isn’t looking favourite, either.