Vitamin D: You Are What You Eat
A few weeks ago, I visited my general practitioner for a yearly physical. I was expecting him to harp on my weight, cholesterol, blood pressure — any of the other myriad issues that crop up as we age. But surprisingly, I left the office with my self-esteem firmly intact. (In fact, I think I might have actually whistled a little on the way out.) “Even your vitamin D levels are good,” he told me. “You’re only one of a handful of my patients I can say that about.”
I’m not some health-conscious super freak. I have more in common with Leroy Jethro Gibbs — the coffee-swilling, steak-grilling investigator from “NCIS” — than Scott Turner, the neurotic, neat-freak cop played by Tom Hanks in “Turner and Hooch.” You won’t find supplements and vitamins lined up on my kitchen counter or a well-used treadmill in my basement. That’s all I’m saying. The reason my vitamin D levels are in the green has something to do with the fact I’m a Florida baby, a lover of all things sand and surf, and like Superman, I get all my powers from the sun.
However, if you’re more Dracula than the Man of Steel, there’s a better way to get vitamin D than chalky horse pills. Because let’s be honest, swallowing them might keep you alive, but it sure isn’t any way to live. So rather than gag down caplets like a character from a dystopian novel, prepare something delicious. Julia Child once said, “Cooking is like love. It should be entered into with abandon or not at all,” and I’m inclined to agree. We aren’t here long after all, so we might as well enjoy the time we do have. To that end, here are a few foods rich in vitamin D and a way to prepare them.
There’s a Dutch proverb that says, “When herring comes into the country, doctor goes out,” and there’s some truth to that. These slippery fellas are one of the best sources of vitamin D around, and while they may not be your favorite, there are as many ways to prepare them as there are fish in the sea. I’m a big sushi fan and can gobble down maguro, toro, and akami by the plateful, but if the thought of eating it raw isn’t to your liking, I suggest Pan-Seared Tuna with Avocado, Soy, Ginger, and Lime. It’s rich, fresh, and full of flavor, and believe it or not, it’s actually really easy to prepare.
While there’s nothing particularly holy about mackerel, it is a great food to eat if you need a little extra D in your diet. It’s full of omega-3 fatty acids and is delicious when smoked. I highly recommend Smoked Mackerel Risotto. It’s creamy, warm, and healthy (even if it does have butter and white wine in it).
Salmon is one of the top good-for-you fishes out there, but the overwhelming smell and taste put me off of it for years. If you’re like me, making it into Salmon Cakes is the way to go. By combining it with other strong flavors, like Worcestershire sauce, Dijon mustard, and capers, you can enjoy salmon without feeling like the host of an Alaskan reality show.
Sadly, I have no advice to give you on preparing liver. I detest it, and so does everyone I know except my mother. But I have it on her good authority that it’s pretty tasty when smothered in gravy. However, I’ll let you be the judge of that.
So much more than a side dish or a topping, mushrooms are a healthy and delicious meal in their own right. Shiitake mushrooms are particularly rich in vitamin D, especially if exposed to the sun for fourteen or so hours before being harvested. They make delicious soups, but I also think Shiitake and Baby Bella Mushroom Risotto is pretty darned delicious. (Yeah, I’m kinda overly fond of risotto. Forgive me.)
Do I need to say anything about cheese? I’ve never met a kind I didn’t like. From asiago to zamorano, I will eat pretty much whatever you put in front of me. And if it comes with a piece of crusty bread, a variety of sweet and salty sides, and a glass of something delicious, so much the better. I highly suggest you find ones that delight your taste buds and serve them up on a platter. Bon appétit!
Eggs are good. Eggs are bad. Eggs are … good again, I think? Doctors may change their minds on the subject as often as a Kardashian changes her shoes, but one thing remains certain. Egg yolks are high in vitamin D, and that means pudding and hollandaise sauce are on the menu for an MS patient. Hallelujah!
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