The Basics: Vitamin C

The most talked about nutrient throughout the winter season, Vitamin C. Likely best known for protecting against, or fighting off, the common cold, but Vitamin C plays a major role in reversing and preventing damage to our cells because it’s also an antioxidant. We want all the antioxidants we can get to help slow the aging process, improve immune, joint, and heart health, to name a few!

If you’re following a plant-based diet, vitamin C is key in helping to absorb iron from non-animal sources (nuts, seeds, beans, lentils, tofu, quinoa, spinach, etc). Pair foods like your iron rich leafy greens with a lemony vinaigrette to get the most bang for your [iron] buck.

Vitamin C is also a major player in the structure of the human body. It helps to form collagen, which makes up our skin, cartilage, tendons, ligaments, and bones (including our teeth!), and is key in the process of wound healing.

Because vitamin C is water soluble (i.e. excreted through our urine), making sure we get adequate amounts each day is important. The minimum requirement is 90mg and 75 mg for generally healthy men and women, respectively. You can exceed these requirements by having just one bell pepper (190mg)!

Most of us associate citrus fruits with high vitamin C content, but this important nutrient is found in pineapple, sweet potatoes, white potatoes, berries, kiwis, cantaloupe, mangos, papaya, broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, kale, spinach, cabbage, chili peppers and the above mentioned bell peppers. Bell peppers actually contain more vitamin C than an orange!

So, not only can you meet your vitamin C requirements with cold pressed citrus juices like the 6-Shooter at E+ Rose Wellness Café, but with whole foods too! The Vegan Pad Thai (above) offers a boost of vitamin C from cabbage and bell pepper, plus you’ll get better absorption of iron in the peanuts by consuming them with these vitamin C sources.

Create your own vitamin C packed dish paired with an iron source like this Raw Cauliflower Salad with Sweet Lemon Dressing.

RAW CAULIFLOWER SALAD WITH SWEET LEMON DRESSING

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 LARGE OR 2 SMALL HEADS OF CAULIFLOWER [~4 1/2 CUPS RICED]

  • 1/3 CUP  RAISINS

  • 1/4 CUP PUMPKIN SEEDS

  • 1 SCALLION, CHOPPED, GREENS ONLY

  • 1/3 CUP OLIVE OIL

  • 1/4  CUP APPLE CIDER VINEGAR

  • 2 LEMONS, JUICED

  • 1 ½  TBSP. HONEY

  • 1 TBSP. DIJON MUSTARD

  • DASH RED PEPPER FLAKES

  • SALT + PEPPER, TO TASTE

INSTRUCTIONS

1.  ROUGHLY CHOP CAULIFLOWER UNTIL IT'S IN BITE SIZE PIECES [OR USE RICED CAULIFLOWER], AND ADD TO A LARGE BOWL WITH RAISINS, PUMPKIN SEEDS, AND SCALLIONS.

2.  IN A SMALL FOOD PROCESSOR, BLENDER, OR SMALL BOWL WITH A WHISK, MIX TOGETHER REMAINING INGREDIENTS TO MAKE THE SWEET LEMON DRESSING [MAKES A LITTLE LESS THAN 1 CUP].

3.  POUR 1/2 OF THE DRESSING OVER THE CAULIFLOWER MIXTURE AND TOSS TO COMBINE. ADD MORE DRESSING DEPENDING ON YOUR PREFERENCE OR RESERVE FOR LEFTOVERS. ENJOY!

----

Author: Lara Harris, MS, RD, LD, registered dietitian and owner of The Well Fed Guide, LLC.