Meticulous research has a niggling fondness for wandering into my personal life. When it comes to travel, this Type A quality proves beneficial, exploring ahead of time the regions in which we’ll be passing through + staying in.
Most ardently planned, as you might imagine, is where we might buy fresh ingredients — to try the regional specialties, meet farmers + growers from around the area, and support the local communities — and I did a bang-up job in France earlier this month. (It also helps that the country is hyper-focused on freshness, quality, and preserving heritage methods for locally-grown + raised products.) We hit at least one village market every day of our holiday!
This post is part of the series Nutrient Spotlight... meant to explore the what, why, where, and how of important dietary players, with some culinary inspiration to get you started.
This edition of Nutrient Spotlight highlights zinc — a trace mineral with an important + varied role in the body.
What is it? // Why do I need it?
Necessary for mental alertness, wound healing, and the production of insulin + roughly 100 essential enzymes, zinc is also important to maintain a healthy immune system, protect against oxidative damage + help repair DNA. It is integral to normal growth + development during childhood + adolescence, and is associated with proper senses of taste + smell.
Zinc is essential for both male + female reproductive health as well. In men, adequate intake promotes higher sperm motility, quality + total sperm count. Men with diets high in both zinc + antioxidants have been linked to further improvements in sperm quality. In women, zinc supports the production + balance of estrogen, promotes egg health, and aids in the release of progesterone to help kickstart the luteal phase + promote ovulation.
The mineral also promotes proper fetal brain development, and helps a woman’s body repair + recover after pregnancy + delivery. During breastfeeding, adequate zinc is a key factor in maintaining levels of prolactin (the primary hormone for regulating milk production), and also helps decrease absorption (and thereby passage through breastmilk to baby) of any heavy metals the mother may consume through foods or from packaging.
I had anticipated time out of doors to get covered in dirt, but gentle, yet steady rain quickly took over for the sun both mornings. Instead we’re powering through the misty days with twice refilled coffees, catching up on correspondence and other long pushed-aside inside cleaning + kitchen tasks (sourdough starter! sauerkraut!).
Another of the indoor projects I’ve fallen pitifully behind on is editing our France photos. I’ve not even looked at all of them yet! Among those I have is this Weekly Suppers flashback to the French edition of Friday night pizza. Cooked with an antique cast iron skillet on top of the wood-burning stove (rental was sans oven + only two small hot-plate burners), our dueling pies featured more ingredients from the morning market + our hosts’ garden.
With spring comes delicate produce beautifully arranged in baskets at the market — stalks of rhubarb, bunches of radishes + ramps, brightly-hued strawberries + peas, green + white asparagus, the first leaves of all those tender leafy greens, and curly-cue garlic scapes + fiddlehead ferns worthy of the pages of a Dr. Suess story.
While visions of light + refreshing dishes featuring these pastel-hued edibles flood my mind’s table, a damp wintry chill lingers across much of the country (snow even at our families’ homes in Wisconsin), and our cravings for comfort food haven’t quite melted away.
I’m getting better and better at this business of disconnecting on our holidays. Other than the sole share of our Easter morning stroll, my phone was reserved solely for personal photography + a lot of Google Translate help. And thanks to post-scheduling capabilities, I didn’t even bother lugging my laptop across the ocean.
Social media freedom was bliss, to be honest, and the retreat from life in the slow lane is proving more difficult than expected. There are many article + recipe ideas brewing — they just may be served up here at more of a trickle than a stream… I do also hope to highlight some imagery of our recent travels in southern France. Please stick around!