B Vitamins, Sources, and How They Support Our Health

B vitamins support healthy heart, liver, muscle tone, nerves, skin, hair and eyes.  In fact, a shortage of B complex can lead to the malfunction of almost every organ and gland in our bodies!  Whole grains and legumes (peas and beans) are the best source of water soluble B vitamins, but they are also found in fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds, seafood, egg yolks and organ meats, and raw milk.  While raw milk, a great source of B6, is not available in the dairy case, it is available through membership in Windsor or Taft Hill dairies.  And delicious raw milk cheeses, both locally made and imported, are increasingly seen in local markets. 

Sometimes called the “stress” vitamin, B complex supports our bodies’ ability to stand up to the stress encountered in everyday living.  Deadlines, presentations, tests, normal risks all contribute to our stress load, whether encountered at work or school.  A local Girl Scout troop recently explored ways to cope with stress, including yoga and meditation, and I was asked to help the girls prepare a dinner menu emphasizing stress support.  We prepared an appetizer of black bean salsa with whole wheat chips; a huge green salad with avocado, red onion, cucumber, topped with sliced almonds and sunflower seeds; stir-fried chicken with vegetables like broccoli and asparagus over brown rice; and dessert of fresh pineapple strips and strawberries dipped into lightly sweetened sour cream.  It all disappeared! 

Chips are ubiquitous in our culture.  I use whole wheat pita or whole wheat tortillas chosen to minimize preservatives, cut into wedges and toasted on a cookie sheet at 350° for about 20 minutes, until crisp.  Served with cream cheese spreads, salsas or dips, these chips are a better choice than those commercially prepared.  Try this black bean salsa for both taste and nutritional support for the stresses we all encounter in getting through the day. 

Black Bean Salsa with Chips

1 can black beans, rinsed and drained

8 oz. fresh or frozen corn

½ cup chopped fresh cilantro

¼ cup chopped green onion

¼ cup chopped red onion

½-1 jalapeno, seeded and minced

½ green or red pepper, chopped

1-2 garlic cloves, minced

1/3 cup fresh lime juice

3 tbsp. olive oil

1 tsp. ground cumin, or to taste

salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

½ cup chopped tomato  

Combine beans, corn, cilantro, green onion, red onion, peppers, garlic, lime juice, oil and cumin in large bowl.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Cover and chill for 2 hours or overnight.  Just before serving, add seeded and chopped tomato.  Serve with corn chips. 

Substitute apple cider or red wine vinegar if you don’t have lime juice.  I sometimes add red wine vinegar anyway, along with the lime juice, for extra flavor. 

Bon appétit!