When I made the Mexican corn salad and took the photo, I immediately thought of confetti. The colors of white corn, red pepper, red onion, red cabbage and green parsley looked good enough to toss at a wedding!
I started thinking about celebrations and how we have much to celebrate all around us. Right now, we are moving from our beautiful season of growing and flowering plants — both edible and decorative — to our season of fall color, as our leaves turn brilliant orange, red and yellow. We can also celebrate the end of the bounty of summer edibles to fall squash, pumpkins and cranberries.
This corn salad celebrates the end of the summer season with the last of the sweet corn. You will probably find fresh corn for another week — maybe two.
I found this delicious sweet white corn at Turnrow Farmers Collective at the Capitol Market in Charleston. They are selling the bounty of the season on Wednesdays and Thursdays. Check them out at turnrow.localfoodmarketplace.com. You can place an order online and pick it up at the market.
Looking at this confetti salad, I also thought about the beauty of the design created by cutting the ingredients very small. That led me to consider the ease of digestion when your food is diced or chopped into small pieces.
Some of my former articles have emphasized blending or juicing vegetables and fruits for optimal digestion. Chopping also falls into that category.
A simple way to improve your digestion is to chew your food more. Chopping it into small pieces gets the process started.
“To have a stronger digestive system, you’ll need to address many of the factors that affect digestion,” says registered nurse Shawna Curry in an article on the question-and-answer website Quora.
“Start with the top end of the digestive tract. You can make a dramatic improvement to your digestion simply by chewing your food well. Most of us chew a few times and then swallow, eager to take our next bite. Chewing helps to break down food and mix it with saliva — which has an enzyme (amylase) to help breakdown carbohydrates. Skipping this step means that your stomach has to work even harder to do this job. We forget that even liquid calories like smoothies should be chewed, to do this same process.
“Choosing good quality foods will also strengthen your digestive system. Choose foods that are not reactive when digesting. Sometimes foods, like beans and raw vegetables, can produce gas and bloating. It can take time to change over the bacteria in your gut that break down refined carbohydrates. To be able to properly digest new foods, you need to start slow. Use well-cooked vegetables and back off on cooking time as you tolerate them. Chop them fine and chew them well to help break down the fiber.”
The corn in the corn salad is steamed lightly and removed from the cob. It has been marinated in lemon juice, olive oil and spices to help further start the digestive process.
The chopped vegetable confetti salad is also marinated. The vegetables may also be lightly steamed to aid digestion. Use raw apple cider vinegar, lemon or lime juice as alternatives.
Serving a fermented food along with your salad is an easy tool to aid digestion. Sometimes, I mix the fermented food right in with the salad. It adds to the flavor and texture of the salad and will help break down the vegetables when stored in the refrigerator. You can try this with raw kraut or kimchee. Alternatively, use kefir in your salad dressing.
An article on whfoods.org titled “How does cutting, slicing, and chopping affect fresh vegetables?” explores the idea of wounding and injuring vegetables when they are chopped excessively.
“While the idea of wounding and injury may sound entirely negative, it is important to remember that whenever we chew a vegetable, we are wounding and injuring the cells to an even greater extent, and it’s the most natural first step for us in digesting our food and becoming optimally nourished. So the question isn’t really about wounding or not wounding the vegetable cells; rather, what becomes important is when this process takes place and under what circumstances,” it says.
Here are some of the recommendations:
- If you are using a knife to cut your vegetables, a dull knife can cause unnecessary and unwanted damage that you can avoid with use of a sharp knife. You are likely to get more health benefits from your chopped fresh vegetables when using a sharp ceramic or stainless steel knife. A metal knife, especially if it is dull, can cause more damage to the cells.
- Shredded lettuce and shredded cabbage generally carry more risk in loosing nutrients and discoloration than coarsely chopped lettuce or coarsely chopped cabbage. In the commercial industry this typically means a shorter shelf life. When shredded vegetables are marinated or fermented there may be nutritional advantages to shredding.
- As a general rule, the more finely you shred or chop your vegetables, the more quickly they should be eaten.
- The risk of bacteria is more prevalent on machine processed lettuce and vegetables. It is recommended to purchase vegetables in whole form and peel and cut at home rather than purchasing pre-peeled and pre-cut vegetables.
- There is a concern about the chlorine washes used by manufacturers of baby carrots. These chlorine washes are used to help preserve these young, peeled and cut carrots. Avoid exposure to these chlorine washes by purchasing whole carrots and peeling and cutting at home.
- Tearing lettuce is still a wise option to chopping to preserve the nutrients.
If you like your vegetables raw and chopped, make sure you eat them soon after chopping and refrigerate any leftovers quickly to preserve all of the nutrition available to you in this vast array of color and flavor.