Close your eyes for a moment, and think back to the days of high school dating
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The big dance is nearly here, and one of the most popular girls in the Senior class has found herself without a
The last thing this member of the Homecoming court wants to do is show up in her pretty dress and mill aimlessly about, drinking punch, avoiding cake(!) and hoping for a very cute boy to ask her to dance. So instead she
sets her sights on the captain of the football team.
Never mind he's already dating a smart and beautiful girl who dreams of being a doctor for a non-profit one day. The one who leaves after 5th period every afternoon to attend her college chemistry courses
Miss Popularity is successful in her efforts to break up their relationship, which now leaves the beautiful brainiac all alone, and terribly sad. There's no way she's going to the dance all alone and is now on the hunt for a date of her own
Against her better judgment, she starts telling little white lies about the very sweet student council president, all in an effort to woo her boyfriend. Miss Congeniality is so distraught that she lashes out against her best friend, and on and on it goes
Who knew the damage Miss Popular would cause? This chain reaction that's now rippling throughout the entire student body. How much do you think these stressed-out teenagers will enjoy the dance now?
As awful a scenario as this is to consider, the same thing happens in our bodies in the form of
If we lived in Utopia, all molecules (chemically) would be made up of paired electrons.
Since we instead live in this not-so-perfect world, there are free radicals, (aka, any molecule that contains an unpaired electron). After they've been damaged, these unstable molecules begin making their way through our bodies, wreaking all sorts of havoc, as they search for another electron to bring themselves back into
Free radicals will barrel into whatever innocent molecules they're nearest to when born, whether it be proteins, DNA, or the gentle layer of fats and protein that surround our cells in a like a protective cashmere blanket
Once they've settled on a victim, they'll behave in one of two ways. Either they'll act as a reductant, and force their spare electron upon the other, or as an oxidant by stealing one from them.
Thus begins an unfortunate chain reaction, whereby the molecules that were previously peaceful, and minding their own business have now become one of them(!) Snatching from or forcing extra electrons upon others, and transforming once-stable compounds into a string to teetering
Yet, like so many of society's vilified, free radicals are often misunderstood. Though there's little doubt of their ability to wreak havoc, harm our bodies, and they almost certainly cause to disease.
Many details in our modern-day lives are contributors, from secondhand cigarette smoke, too much alcohol, infections, and excessive exercise. Not to mention other factors such as environmental toxins, heavy metals, imbalances of vitamins and minerals, trans-fatty acids, radiation, injuries, surgeries, drugs, and not getting enough sleep. Any of these can augment the body's production of free radicals to a
If free radicals are so bad, wouldn't it stand to reason that one could live a longer and healthier life by either eliminating them altogether or investing in mechanisms that would simply make them disappear?
Sadly, it's not so cut and dry
Free radicals don't originate solely from external sources like some of those listed above. Instead, they originate from internal sources as well, an inescapable result of living in a world full of oxygen
They are also substances that oxidize, although it should be noted that not all of the oxidation that happens inside our bodies is bad. In fact, the process of oxidation is a natural byproduct of lots of our internal body functions, including the price we pay for
Without it, our bodies would be helpless to do such things as metabolize our food, twitch a muscle, think a thought, mobilize our immune system to kill off microbes, or turn on the blender to make your favorite smoothie
As with everything in life, the key is finding balance, and there needs to be a balance between all of these oxidation processes, or else .. ??
I'd run across similar methods when it came to preparing steel-cut oats but admittedly had yet to give any a try. My go-to from the New York Times had served me well over the years
I believe this recipe may have changed my mind. I loved the idea of, not only sleeping a bit longer but the much shorter prep, when time in the morning can be at a premium. Not to mention, just as advertised, it truly was better oatmeal.
Letting the oats sit overnight gave the flavors a chance to develop, and we found the finished product really did have a softer and creamier texture. It made an ideal canvas for sweet marinated peaches and toasted pecans.
We also loved the sweet marinade for the peaches, as much as the savory. Natural sugar and white balsamic vinegar lend the peaches an almost caramel flavor, while the wine enhances their sweet tartness — fresh thyme for a note or two of herbal.
The marinade also softens the peaches' skins, which means you're able to skip the tedious step of blanching and peeling them. I bet they would be great in pancakes, on top of yogurt, or simply on their own.
ps: You can read more about free radicals in Part II of the series
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~ Sweet Marinated Peaches Adapted from Fine Cooking
Sweet Marinated Peaches
- 3 medium ripe peaches, pitted and sliced, diced, or cut into wedges
- ⅓ cup natural sugar (Sugar in the Raw or Turbinado)
- ⅓ cup sweet white wine
- pinch fine-grain sea salt
- 3 Tbsp white balsamic vinegar
- 2 tsp fresh thyme leaves
- In a medium-sized bowl whisk together all of the ingredients, except the peaches.
- Add the peaches and gently toss
- Let the peaches marinate at room temperature for at least 20 minutes, and up to 24 hours. After marinading, they can be refrigerated for up to 1 day.
~ Overnight Oatmeal Adapted from Fine Cooking
Overnight Oatmeal with Sweet Marinated Peaches
- 2 Tbsp milk (or nut milk)
- 2 Tbsp natural sugar (Sugar in the Raw or Turbinado - brown sugar would also be great)
- 1 tsp vanilla
- ¾ tsp ground cinnamon
- ¼ tsp fine-grain salt
- 1 cup steel-cut oats (gluten-free if you’re avoiding gluten)
- 3 cups Sweet Marinated Peaches, drained, ¼ cup marinade reserved
- ½ cup toasted pecans, coarsely chopped
- For Serving
- chia seeds
- additional milk
- Combine the coconut milk, natural sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, sea salt, and 4 cups water in a 4-quart saucepan over medium-high heat.
- Stir gently to dissolve the sugar. Bring to a boil.
- Stir in the oats, simmer for a minute or two, then remove the pan from the heat. Let cool at room temperature until tepid, then cover and refrigerate overnight.
- When ready to eat, bring the oatmeal to a simmer over medium heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until thick and the oats are tender and chewy (~ about 10 minutes)
- Off the heat, stir in the reserved marinade.
- Top with the peaches, pecans, and chia seeds, if using. Drizzle with a little extra milk, and serve