Quinn on Nutrition: Lessons on heart disease from the ancients

October 5, 2015

I left California early on a Saturday morning on the first leg of a five state trek. As I drove through the Salinas Valley in the first light of dawn, I was struck by the buzz of farmworkers already at work ó laying pipe, picking lettuce, loading produce into crates and onto trucks. I realized that farmers work hard to keep us fed, even on the weekends.

Leaving green fields behind, I munched on dried apple slices as my little truck zoomed through the Mohave desert. Apples, landscapes and other living things thrive better with water, I concluded, and took another gulp from my water bottle.

Long past lunch time, I stopped for gas outside Needles, Calif. And to whoever wants to know, an ice cold milkshake is a justified meal when youíre cooking at 108 degrees.

My sister welcomed me with a real meal when I arrived in the cool pines of Flagstaff, Ariz., that evening. And the next day, I continued east towards my home state of New Mexico. Some things never change ó red rocks sheltered under puffy white clouds in clear blue skies. As I passed signs urging me to stop and buy "moccasins for the whole family," I decided my nutritional goal for the day: Try to find something green to eat besides cactus candy.

Where do you find green in the deserts of New Mexico? Itís green chile season, my other sister reminded me when I arrived at her house south of Albuquerque. Score!

Green chile, by the way, is the same plant as red chile. Itís just picked at a different time. Which is better for you? According to the Chile Pepper Institute at New Mexico State University, red and green chiles are similar nutritionally. Both are so low in calories, they are considered "free" foods ó eat as much as your taste buds dare. Red and green chile peppers are also excellent sources of vitamin C ó the vitamin that enhances immunity, helps builds bones and may even play a role in weight management.

Sitting on her patio as the sun set, I told my sister about the last leg of my journey that day. An hour from her house, I had turned onto a narrow two lane highway that was once part of historic Route 66. I came up behind a large semi truck, and not wanting to take any chances on this winding stretch of road, I followed behind it for several miles. After a while, I noticed the truckís left turn signal wink at me...blink, blink, blink; then it stopped. Again, it blink, blink, blinked and I realized the trucker was sending me a "safe to pass" signal. So I did and waved a thank you as I zoomed ahead. The lights of the semi flashed as if to say, "You are welcome." I truly do love this Land of Enchantment.




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