Simplifying nutrition and using food as medicine - one bite at a time.

My goal with this blog is to set folks straight about what good nutrition really is! Starting by discarding the info we get every day from 'sponsors' that do not really have our best interests at heart, I want to inspire you to eat better AND realize it is much easier than you thought it would be!

Just about any health issues can be addressed with nutrition (and meditation), from mild to chronic to acute. We truly have the ability to heal ourselves physically, mentally and spiritually...

And you can use your daily routine as your vehicle to drive that change :)


Join me...

Quote of the Month

"When food, in the minds of eaters, is no longer associated with farming and with the land, then the eaters are suffering a kind of cultural amnesia that is misleading and dangerous"
~Wendell Berry

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Breathe for Enhanced Digestion and Healing

Here is a sample of a mantra, of sorts, that you can remind yourself of when feeling discouraged or unwell.

I want you to always remember that your body has the innate capacity to be well (every cell is constantly striving to be in balance - it's in its genes), with the right fuel (good whole food) and without the occurrence of prohibitive stress (worry, anxiety, over-thinking). Don't let these things hold back the body's need to repair and heal.

And all you have to do is breeeeaaaatthhhhhhhee.... every day...... and allow this natural process to take place.

So take a few minutes every day to breathe deeply and remind yourself of this, breathe into it while you say it (in your own beautiful and appropriate words), and believe in it.

This is a simple form of meditation anybody can do where you can even bring in visualization ie: like waves rolling, internal cellular healing (no anatomy degree required), whatever; simply a statement that you will make you feel more at ease. It is a way of quieting the mind from senseless chatter, worries, stress and moving it into a more calm, yet gently focused, and peaceful environment where healing takes place.

Have gratitude...


Feel unencumbered from your daily thoughts (let them go, at least temporarily)...


Feel light, without burden...


Breathe deeply in this headspace...

And, finally, be sure to hold onto any good feeling you have during your meditation and store them in your memory for when for you need it. And repeat again the next day. You'll get better and better at it with practice and really appreciate this powerful and freeing ritual.

Your body, mind and spirit will thank you for your renewed health.

The light within me saluted the light within you... Lisa Marie

More food writing to come, stay tuned…(I'm renewing myself on this brief hiatus)

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

A brief hiatus

I am currently on a brief hiatus as I prepare my lessons and settle into my new Fall schedule. 
I will be posting again hopefully by mid. October.

Please check back.
Be well nourished, Lisa Marie

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Salal berries and Blackberries

Admittedly neither salal nor blackberries have traditionally been my favourite berries, partly due to the intense seediness of both berries. However, since learning of blackberries impressive nutrient content I’m more apt to pop one into my mouth when I come across a bramble on my way to the beach. Salal berries are newer to me as I ony really discovered them in the past few years. I have a lovely bush growing in my yard so I’ve been using them in pies and even ice cream the other night (sorry, no picture – it got eaten too fast!) And when I decided to dig deeper into the mystery of salal berries (they aren't exactly a high exposure berry) I found the following:
The use of Salal for medicinal purposes by the First Nations of the Pacific Northwest has been widely assumed but the specific uses are not well documented. “The leaves have an astringent effect, making it an effective anti-inflammatory and anti-cramping herb” (Wikipedia, 2008). The leaves prepared in a poultice can be used for relief of the itching or tenderness from insect bites and stings. In addition, the leaves can be prepared into a tea or tincture for use in a variety of gastrointestinal complaints.

The more I explore indigenous eating habits and herbal traditions the more I'm fascinated by the vast body of knowledge out there to be learned (before it is lost!).
Now to plug a cookbook I fell upon recently (in my cyber travels).  It looked really interesting and rather tantalizing to my tasebuds: http://www.uuathluk.ca/cookbook.html.

Here’s a snapshot of the plentitude of nutrients found in blackberries (a more broadly celebrated berry - see photo at left):
high levels of Vit. C and A, and antioxidants such as ellagic acid known for its anti-cancer properties.

Not too shabby for a ‘weedy’ berry. Funny how we so often take for granted the weeds that grow abundantly around here. Most of them are bursting with healing properties. Yes, I said healing properties; food is medicine and is as powerful as medicine and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise (‘the proof is in the pudding’ as they say and there are many studies that show this repeatedly). Your next meal could heal you. You just have to make it the right one!

Known as the ‘cabernet of berries’ for their earthy wine-like taste, blackberries are easy to incorporate into a food-lover’s diet. I thought this recipe looked very good and a rather sensible recipe (aka: easy)

Prep and Cook Time: around 30 minutes; chilling time: 3 hours

Ingredients:
• Crust
• 2-1/2 cups walnuts
• 1-1/2 cups dates
Filling :
• 5 cups fresh or frozen blackberries
• 3 TBS honey
• 1-1/2 TBS arrowroot

Directions:
1. Combine walnuts and pitted dates in a food processor. Process until well mixed and ground, but not smooth (about 40 seconds). It should have a coarse texture when done. Press into a 9-inch tart pan. Set in refrigerator while making the filling.

2. If you are using frozen blackberries make sure they are completely thawed. If not, they will dilute the filling as they thaw and make it runny.

3. Place 2 cups of the berries along with the arrowroot in a blender. Add water or blackberry juice. Blend into a puree.

4. Place puree in a small saucepan along with honey and cook over medium heat stirring constantly for about 3-4 minutes. It should lose its cloudiness and thicken. When it thickens and the cloudiness is gone remove it from heat. Mix with rest of the blackberries and fill tart shell. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours. Make sure it is covered so it doesn't pick up moisture from the refrigerator.

Serves 8

(Thanks to WHFoods.com website for above recipe)

May you be well-nourished, Lisa Marie
PS: To learn more about other local, seasonal berries see my previous posts on strawberries and raspberries.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Ginger Beer - unveiled!

My ginger ale, which I brewed from a 'ginger bug' (see my last post), was ready for testing the other day so I reached up to the top of my fridge, where I store my ferments, and opened one of the bottles with a bit of angst.  I always get the last minute jitters thinking that perhaps something went wrong or I didn't put in enough of something or didn't seal it right.  It's just like gardening when you put in the seed and check back weekly to see if anything is sprouting yet.  Each time I look I ask myself; Will it sprout?  Did I give it enough water?  Were the seeds viable? And when it does - it's like no other feeling of total contentment and pride in the fact that you got that seed to sprout and, not to mention, the miracle of Mother Nature behind it all.

OK, so back to the ginger beer. It let out a tiny little 'pfst' and I wondered if it was going to be ok.  But as soon as I went to pour it it got even fizzier.  I was gitty with delight!  I called my hubby to come and test it and both he and little Oskar were up for their 'quality control' duties.  They both drank it back and finished with smiles.  "Best one yet" and "Mmmm, momma! Geen-ger Beer".  It was a hit.  I really liked this one, we made it stronger and therefore was more flavourful and full-bodied than the last one.  It had that wonderful gentle warming at the back of your throat feeling that only ginger can provide, with an earthy body, a hint of lemon and just enough sweetness; Dee-lish!

It's amazing the pride you get from 'raising your own ferments' just as when you sprout your seeds. So, if you don't have the means for a garden, create one in your kitchen by way of fermented food projects.  You can always go outside to enjoy them once they are finished and relish in the 'harvest' whilst getting your vitamin D form the sun. 
*And don't forget to enjoy the many benefits of your ginger beer; plenty of beneficial bacteria, lively enzymes, the many powerful healing components of ginger, and the additional alkalinity and freshness of lemon (yes, its alkaline once ingested).  This is a healthy and alkaline drink, unlike commercial 'soft-drinks'.

Note: Start saving old wine bottles and, even better, clip-top beer bottles (Like Grolsch brand).  They're great for home ferments.

(I just picked several pounds of gorgeous yellow-orange plums today...perhaps a Plum T'ej is in my future...stay tuned...)

Be well-nourished, Lisa Marie

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Ferment Fervour

Have you ever fermented food? On purpose?

Well ever since I picked up a copy of Wild Fermentation several years ago I've been intrigued by fermenting and have done several ferments now, namely honey wine (I gave it as Christmas presents for family and friends in the past) and, most recently I made ginger beer.

The author, Sandor Ellix Katz, says, "Microscopic organisms - our ancestors and allies - transform food and extend its usefulness. Fermentation is found throughout human cultures. Hundreds of medical and scientific studies confirm what folklore has always known: Fermented foods help people stay healthy."

As a nutritionist I agree with this statement and that is one of the reasons why I loved this book so much. I believe that one of the commonalities between the most healthful societies of the world (ie: Japan) is the ‘living foods’ they consume (ie: fermented pastes such a miso). North Americans don’t really have a staple food that is traditionally fermented, other than perhaps yogourt, which is so highly processed and contains little of the vitality it does when homemade with fresh milk/cream. Pickles and sauerkraut are now fast-food processed with vinegar and not really fermented at all.

Another aspect of this book I love is that the author is humorous, very knowledgeable and provides great practical tips and creative ideas for those of us who like to 'cook outside of the box'.

So this is the first post in what I plan to be a series of posts on fermenting foods (note: not consecutive posts). I hope that they will be informative and inspiring enough for you to try for yourself and see if you get hooked on the flavour and vigour that you get from these living foods!

Ginger Beer (aka Ginger Ale) - from Wild Fermentation

*Note this is a (healthy) ‘soft drink’ not an alcoholic drink, the fermentation creates enough carbonation for a bubbly beverage but not enough to contribute an ‘appreciable’ amount of alcohol.

*You’ll notice that the recipe calls for sugar (or honey) and because during the fermentation process the microorganisms fully metabolize the sugar, it is considered not the same as consuming refined white sugar in its usual form (On pg. 7 of Wild Fermentation, it states; “Fermentation also removes toxins from foods. This is vividly illustrated by the case of cassava, an enormous tuber native to the equatorial regions of Africa and Asia. Certain varieties contain high levels of cyanide and are poisonous until they have undergone a soaking fermentation. The fermentation process eliminates the cyanide, rendering the cassava edible and nutritious.”)

Timeframe: 2-3 weeks

Ingredients:
3 inches or more of fresh ginger root
2 cups sugar or raw honey (I prefer honey)
2 lemons
Water

Process:
1.) First you need to start the 'ginger bug': Add 2 teaspoons grated ginger (skin and all) and 2 tsp. sugar/honey to one cup water. Stir well and leave in a warm spot, covered with cheesecloth to allow free circulation of air while keeping flies out. Add this amount of ginger and sugar/honey every day or two and stir, until the bug starts bubbling, in 2 days to about a week.

2.) Make the ginger beer any time after the bug becomes active. (if you wait more than a couple of days, keep feeding the bug fresh ginger and sugar/honey every 2 days). Boil 2 litres of water. Add about 2 inches of gingerroot, grated, for a mild ginger flavour (up to 6 inches for an intense ginger flavour) and 1 ½ cups sugar. Boil this mixture for about 15 minutes. Cool.

3.) Once the ginger/sugar/water mixture has cooled, strain the ginger out and ass the juice of the lemons and the strained ginger bug. (If you intend to make this process an ongoing rhythm, reserve a few tablespoons of the active bug as a starter and replenish it with additional water, grated ginger and sugar.)

4.) Add enough water to make 4 litres (one gallon).

5.) Bottle in sealable bottles; rubber gasket “bail top” bottles are great or capped beer or wine bottles. Leave bottles to ferment in a warm spot for about 2 weeks.

6.) Cool before opening. When you open a ginger beer, be prepared with a glass, since carbonation can be strong and force liquid rushing out of the bottle.

This is a family favourite in my house and does not last. Consider making a double batch once you get the ‘feel’ for fermenting.

ENJOY!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

The Raspberry

These berries are the 3rd in my berry series and definitely in my top 3 favourite berries, partly because they are fairly low-maintenance to grow and overall an easy berry to incorporate into many a great baked goodie. I certainly wouldn’t turn down a fresh one (and thanks to my neighbors’ sky-high groves of them I have been enjoying them for several weeks now! They are velvety, luscious berries that are best when a deep pink/red, almost purple colour. This hue indicated its rich nutrient content. One of those notable nutrients is ellagic acid which is present in many red fruits and berries, including raspberries, strawberries, blackberries, cranberries, pomegranate and some nuts including pecans and walnuts. The highest levels of ellagic acid are found in raspberries however. So if you’re looking for a source of antioxidant, anti-mutagen and anti-cancer properties, they are your berries! Studies have shown their anti-cancer activity on cancer cells of the breast, esophagus, skin, colon, prostate and pancreas.* And it’s never too early to start prevention of the rising incidence of cancer.

As an antioxidant food containing ellagic acid, raspberries help prevent unwanted damage to cell membranes and other structures in the body by neutralizing free radicals. Ellagic acid is not the only well-researched phytonutrient component of raspberry, however. Raspberry's flavanoid content is also well documented. These flavanoid molecules are also classified as anthocyanins, and they belong to the group of substances that give raspberries their rich red color. Raspberries' anthocyanins also give these delectable berries unique antioxidant properties, as well as some antimicrobial ones, including the ability to prevent overgrowth of certain bacteria and fungi in the body (for example, the yeast Candida albicans, which is a frequent culprit in vaginal infections and can be a contributing cause in irritable bowel syndrome).

This is not a berry to pass up. So get out there and get your hands on some soon before they are gone and reap their multitude of benefits!

*Note: Frozen berries are still a great option and you’ll still reap the nutritional benefits (wash, if necessary, and dry before freezing).

Creative ways to use raspberries:

1.) Add raspberries to your apple crumble recipe.

2.) Add fresh or crushed with honey if tart to fresh ice cream

3.) Make an instant jam by simply crushing them with a fork and adding raw honey (as with strawberries)

3.) Awesome enhancement to salad dressing!

4.) One of the best berries for using in pies. Here is my recipe:

Crust:
2.5 cups fine-ground spelt flour
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. unrefined sugar
Put these 3 ingredients into a food processor and pulse a few times.
Add 1 cup of cold, unsalted butter, chopped into tbsp. sized cubes.
¼-1/2 cup ice-cold water

Process butter into mixture about 10 seconds (using pulse) until it becomes a coarse meal consistency.
Have water ready (1/2 cup) and add in slow steady stream while blending just until it holds together.
(*Note: You may not need the full ½ cup of water).
Now it’s ready to roll!
*Fork the bottom of the crust if you are baking it empty.
Freeze for an hour or so before putting in filling.

Berry/fruit pie contents:
¾ - 1 cup unrefined sugar
¼ sifted spelt flour
1 tsp.cinnamon and ¼ tsp. nutmeg
Add all above ingredients together, then add 4 cups of chosen berries (I like a mixture of blueberries, raspberries, strawberries and huckleberries)
*If your berries are frozen you may want to defrost somewhat and drain excess water to avoid an overly juicy pie.
1 ½ tbsp. lemon juice + ½ tbsp zest
1-2 tbsp butter cut into pieces
Put fruit mixture into pre-frozen pie shell with butter pieces scattered over top.
*If very juicy add egg yolk to bind.

Preheat oven to 450 then reduce to 350 and put pie in oven. Bake 40-50 minutes, check after about 35 minutes. It’s done when the crust starts to brown slightly at the edges.

Sources used for article:
http://www.phytochemicals.info/phytochemicals/ellagic-acid.php

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Strawberry Bliss!

Our strawberries have been ripening the past 2 weeks and are absolutely delicious! There's nothing quite like a fresh-picked strawberry from a sun-ripened vine. I prefer them straight-up, unadulterated and still warm from the sun.


Strawberries, particularly organically grown ones, are rich in vitamin C and higher in iron and potassium than other berries. Strawberries, like other berries, are famous in the phytonutrient world as a rich source of compounds called phenols. One family of those phenols is called anthocyanin, which provide the strawberry with not only its flush red color, they also serve as potent antioxidants that have repeatedly been shown to help protect cell structures in the body and to prevent oxygen damage in all of the body's organ systems. Strawberries' unique phenol content makes them a heart-protective fruit, an anti-cancer fruit, and an anti-inflammatory fruit, all rolled into one.*

Choosing/Storing your Strawberries:
Store-bought prepared foods containing berries are devoid of healthy anthocyanins and other nutrients such as Vitamin C that are only measurable in fresh and whole, frozen berries, not in their processed counterparts.
A study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry found anthocyanins, among other beneficial nutrients, were almost undetectable in canned foods, bread, cereals, and other foods containing berries.  So choose fresh, raw as much as possible and try to retain their nutrients by freezing them whole in a well-sealed glass jar or tupperware container if you are not consuming them within a day or 2 of picking.

Here are a few creative ways to prepare your fresh or frozen strawberries:

1.) Homemade strawberry slushies - just add ice (or frozen berries), and maple syrup if they’re a little tart.

2.) A great ice-cream accompaniment – just throw them on whole or crush them for a more compote-like effect.

3.) Strawberry tarts or shortcake. Alter your favourite recipe and use fine-ground spelt flour and unrefined sugar, for a much healthier version, instead of white flour and white sugar.

4.) Instant strawberry jam; just crush berries with a fork and add raw honey, mix well and voila – delicious homemade strawberry jam. *It will last for a week or so in the fridge or much longer in the freezer.

5.) Add them to your favourite smoothie. Just yogourt and strawberries are nice blended together but you can also add ice, a bit of lime juice and/or rosewater(optional) to make, what is traditionally called in India, a 'Lassi'.

If you're a berry lover...raspberries are also now in season as well as huckleberries and salmonberries.  Blackberries will be out in about a month or so...enjoy!

*Be sure not to pick berries from roadways, railway lines (they tend to be sprayed with pesticides/herbicides) or where dogs may be 'roaming'.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Berry Season Has Arrived!

Sorry to those of you out there who have been following and have not seen a post from me in a few weeks.  I hope to resume writing weekly soon. Life has been hectic but I am now certified to teach at the Nutrition school that I graduated from (http://www.csnn.ca/) and will begin teaching this September.  I am very excited to return to the classroom,  in a teacher capacity.

Now, on with the blog...
It's official—the berries are out! Recently I picked my first bowl of berries; salmonberries to be precise. They are such a beautiful berry—varying colours of bright orange to dark blood red in colour. And, if you don't mind the seeds, they are fairly pleasant tasting and easy to eat.

We didn't do anything particularly fancy with our bowl of berries other than just devour them. This is often what happens actually. I get this great idea to go berry picking and pick a big bowl of whatver is in season and we get home and Oskar (my 2 year old) has already easten half of them. Then while I try and decide what to make he eats the rest. How can a mother complain though really? These little power houses of goodness are low in sugar, and loaded with Vitamin C and antioxidants galore. This is the time of year when we can literally get an entire year's supply of antioxidants.

If you do happen to have extra to make something with try just crushing them with a fork and adding raw honey, to taste, for an instant and delicious fresh jam. Either keep it in the fridge (for up to 2 weeks) or keep it in freezer if you think it will last longer. And if you are a bit finicky about the seeds like I am you can use a fine strainer to reduce the seeds but stil get all the pulp and juice. Then there is of course the pies, smoothies, ice cream, berry soda and more just waiting for fresh berry accompaniment. (More about berries and what to make with them next month when the blueberries and raspberries are out.)

Next up are Huckleberries. I am already eyeing up the spots where they'll be ready to pick any day now (including my neighbours yard!) and especially in the sunny spots. Then, the strawberries will be ready. My patch is full of green ones just waiting for a few consecutive sunny days to ripen their gorgeous red coats and sweeten their juicy flesh.

I'm hoping this year I'll actually have enough to freeze and enjoy when they're long gone. Shhhh...don't tell Oskar! So get out there and pick and get your fill of our incredible variety and wealth of local berries this season - your body will thank you for it!

Note: Be careful around railway tracks and parks where bushes may have been exposed to harmful spraying.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Spring Vitality

Spring is the season for awakening the body; our senses, our minds, our every oscillating cell. The foods that grow natively act accordingly to our bodies needs. In the springtime, new shoots of green emerge and share their life-giving, cleansing and nourishing nutrients in abundance. These foods are meant to stimulate a natural and mild cleanse and detoxification of our organ systems, particularly organs of detoxification such as the Liver.

“The sight of the green colour of tender young plants nourishes the soul through the eyes, so the appetite for food decreases and the body naturally cleanses itself…” (Healing With Whole Foods ~ Paul Pitchford)

That is why, according to Chinese Medicine, the spring season represents the Liver and Gall Bladder or Wood element and it is trademarked by the colour green. It is also considered a Yang season; one that has ascending and expansive qualities (think of bursting cherry blossoms). The foods that grow at this time naturally resonate all of these factors. It is important, as natural beings, to honour and embrace these natural rhythms and be in tune with our natural surroundings, emphasizing in our diets what grows natively and seasonally. This benefits our own health as well as the health of our planet.

So, in springtime it is prudent to eat plenty of green vegetables such as a wide variety of salad greens and various sprouts and other ‘early foods’ such as pea shoots. And it is still appropriate to finish eating winter preserves such as apples and pears and root vegetables as we transition into the new season. I like to combine these foods into lighter soups and stews as opposed to the heavier ones of winter.

When I start to introduce salads I do so gradually, also using some of the prior season’s fare as I transition. The reason I do this is because each and every food we eat has a thermal and energetic property to it. Fruit, for example, generally has a cooling and moistening energy, with some exceptions. In a climate which is generally pretty cool and moist I try not to eat too many foods that emit that property because an imbalance can occur within. Uncooked foods in general, if eaten in excess, can weaken the digestion and trigger excessive cleansing reactions.

Spring greens have a cooling dispersing energy, preparing us for the warmer weather to come. When I eat my greens I include some fresh ginger, garlic, cayenne or other pungent warming spices or herbs to my salad dressing to help balance the cooling nature of the greens while the weather is still cool. And in the spring, food is best cooked for a shorter time but at high temperatures, so the food is not cooked thoroughly on the inside, preserving some of its inherent vitality. When using water light steaming or simmering is best.

Many modern people’s livers and gall bladders are suffering. Excessive exposure to poor quality fats (i.e.: hydrogenated and trans fats, highly processed and cholesterol-rich vegetable oils and powdered dairy and egg products), denatured foods and environmental toxins all disrupt the hundreds of biochemical processes that the liver conducts. And the main symptoms of a suffering liver are stress and tension, anger, frustration, stubbornness, aggression and an impulsive and/or explosive personality.

Do any of these sound familiar?

Eating as described above can give a welcome boost to these overburdened organs.

(Parts of this column have been adapted from Healing With Whole Foods by Paul Pitchford)
I’d like to share this springtime recipe with you in hopes that it brings you both pleasure and relief and therefore a contribution to the health of your body.

Lisa Marie’s Spring Salad

1 heap of assorted spring greens (don’t forget the dandelion greens + flowers in the garden)

1 sliced pear (drizzled in lemon juice to keep from browning)

½ cup of goat feta or chevre or raw organic cow feta (Jerseyland Organics makes an excellent one)

¼ cup chopped lightly toasted maple and cayenne glazed pecans or other nut of choice

1 handful of pea shoots

1 handful of sunflower/bean/broccoli/garlic or other sprout of choice

edible flowers, seasonal

a sprinkling of chopped lemon thyme/mint/basil/dill/fennel

Lisa Marie’s Dressing/Marinade
(makes about 1 cup)

3/4 cup cold-pressed, extra virgin Olive Oil

2 tsp. stone ground mustard

4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1 tsp red wine vinegar

1 tsp raw apple cider vinegar

2 tsp. hemp/flax/avocado oil

3 tablespoons maple syrup

Dash of unrefined sea salt

Optional:

Herbs/spices to taste: garlic, ginger, cayenne, thyme, mint, fennel, basil, rosemary, dill, coriander, sage…experiment

Method:

Add mustard, salt and maple syrup to vinegars, whisk with fork, add oils gradually whisking together then add optional ingredients if desired.

Don’t over-whisk or leave dressing out to be exposed to heat, light or oxygen too long as oils are sensitive to these. Transfer into dressing dispenser and shake before use. If storing in refrigerator, store in an air-tight opaque or dark, glass container.

Add hemp/flax/avocado oils before serving to preserve their delicate omega fats.

**This dressing can also be used as a tasty marinade but please skip the use of hemp/flax/avocado oil as they are not appropriate for long-term exposure or cooking.

May you live with vitality…Lisa Marie

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Broccoli Soup (dairy free)

I like this recipe because it's simple, nourishing and yummy.  It's a straight-up good recipe that will satiate your tastebuds and 'fill in the gaps' so to speak.  I like have it when I feel a bit low on nourishment or if I haven't got my 8-10 servings of veggies/fruit in for the day.  A big bowl of this gives you almost half that.
Now that's guilt-free living!
















You'll need:
6 cups broccoli, finely chopped
2 medium size carrots, scrubbed and grated finely (not peeled)
1 litre organic chicken/turkey/beef stock, preferrably homemade
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 tbsp organic butter and/or cold-pressed olive oil
1-3 cloves of garlic (depending on your preference)
3 tbsp fresh parsely, chopped finely
2 tbsp fresh/dried dill
1 tsp cumin seeds powder (fresh ground is best)
unrefined salt, to taste
fresh ground pepper, to taste
dash of paprika
dash of cayenne pepper, optional
sprinkling of raw, organic parmesan cheese, optional (garnish)

*If you have food processor you can make a nice creamy consistency which is nice, but not essential.

1.) Sautee onion with butter/olive oil until almost translucent, add carrot and sautee further.
2.) Meanwhile, bring stock to a boil, then add brocolli.
2.) Add garlic and herbs/spices a courple of minutes before onions are done, to release flavours..
3.) Add onion and carrot mixture to soup pot and let simmer for several minutes, adding salt and pepper as needed.
4.) Let cool slightly and serve garnished with a sprinkle of parmesan cheese and a dusting of hungarian paprika

Some great accompaniments to this soup are wholegrain sprouted grain or sourdough bread, brown/wild rice, red quinoa, roasted organic chicken/turkey, adollop of plain organic (and non-homogenised) yogourt and/or a sprinkling of your favourite ground nuts/seeds.

Note: You'll see that I specifiy some things as organic. That is because I believe that they should be sourced organic as often as possible due to typicaly high agri-chemical residues. The others are typically low so do not necesarily need to be organic. However, if you have access to afforable organic everything - that is my true preference as there is much more advantage to buying organic than just the lower chemical content. Not all of us can afford or access that option though unless we grow our own or have friendly organic farmer's for neighbours :)
Check out the 'Dirty Dozen' and 'Clean 15' chart from Environmental Working Group's website for more info on chemcial residues on produce: www.foodnews.org

Enjoy...and be well nourished.     Lisa Marie

PS: Please contact me via this blog if you have a favourite recipe you'd like me to 'update' to a holistic healthy meal or if you just want to share a yummy recipe :) 
Note: not all recipes will be published.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

An Omnivore's Dilemma

I recently took part in an online discussion about eating habits.  Some folks believe that veganism or vegetarianism is the only ethical and environmentally responsible way to eat.  Others think that being strictly herbivore is too extreme and do not fare well on such a 'restricted' diet.  And others dislike any 'self-righteous' people telling the what's best for them whether it's to eat meat or not.

I respect each person's right to choose what suits them best.  I've never believed in a 'one size fits all' diet and likely never will.  I think we should be choosing our food from ethical and sustainable sources that also serve our personal needs.  This, inevitably, is going to promote a variety of diets.
That is why I choose to be an omnivore.  I was once a vegetarian (in college after learning about the disgusting treatment of factory farmed animals) an adamently swore off any conventionally-raised chicken, pork or beef. The thought disgusted me due to ethical reasons and due to the by-product content of the meat.  Over time my carnivorous tendencies returned (old habits die hard) but I slowly adopted what I call a more responsible way of eating.  Sometimes I call myself a 'part-time vegetarian' but most accurately I'd call myself an 'Ethical Omnivore'.

I can sincerely understand the plight of vegans and vegetarians when they witness the horrible conditions of conventional farming. However, I believe that there is a middle-ground means to produce 'meat' in a sustainable way and appease those who choose to eat it as well as those who have concern for its animals.

I often find myself stating the phrase, " the singlemost effective way to affect positive change in the world today is choosing food that is minimally refined/processed, raised or grown locally and seasonally without pesticides, herbicides, fungicides or synthetic fertilizer's and supports a sustainable food system."  Our choice has such a far reaching effect; politically, environmentally, socially, ethically, economically, etc 
 
I do not believe that our current food system is sustainable...at all.  For those of you who have not yet seen the film Food Inc.  I urge you to watch it.  It is a very revealing film about the prevailing industrialized food system on this continent.  Sustainable, chemical-free farming can feed everyone, despite what we are often told.

We must make better choices when it comes to nourishing ourselves.  We must be conscious of the fact that each and every time we make a decision about what we are going to eat we suppport the system behind it.  So please, everyone, choose wisely and if you omnivore's out there cannot afford to eat locally-raised free-range, non medicated grass-fed meat every day, then don't.  Eat it only a couple of times a week and feel really good about it (in every way)!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Healthy Fats - Part II

OK, so one of the most common responses I get from people when I talk about healthy fats is: "...but I don't want to gain weight by eating (albeit healthy) saturated fats like organic butter and virgin coconut oil.  My response is: they should not make you gain any excess weight.  Saturated fat is used in every one of our 75-100 trillion cells to build their outer fatty bi-layer.  So, it is a protective substance, in may respects (go figure!) as opposed to one that will supposedly kill you.  It is necessary to some degreee in the diet for good health (from plant and/or animal sources).

In more cases than I can count I have guided clients back onto a healthy, clean full-fat diet after many years of a low-fat diet and no success losing weight (in fact they had only gained more).  In time, their systems regulated from being starved of essential nutrients and the excess weight melted off. 
In may cases this even occurred without additional exercise (altough many found they had a dramatic increase in energy so they wanted to exercise too as they did not have the stamina before.  And this only improved their self confidence even more because they felt like they had regained control of their bodies and felt alive again.
Did you know that quality saturated fat increases absorption of vitamins and minerals such as vitamin A, D,& E, Calcium, Magnesium and essential fatty acids such as Omega 3?

See the following report on losing weight with a high fat diet, including saturated fat:
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/11/031111064519.htm

Or you can read Eat Fat, Lose Fat by Mary Enig PhD
Here is an excerpt: Since the late 1950's, we've been barraged by the message that fat makes you fat, saturated fats (such as those found in butter, eggs, and red meat) are unhealthy, and tropical fats and oils (like coconut and palm) are downright deadly. And yet-despite our dutiful efforts to eliminate saturated fats from our diet for fear of high cholesterol levels and hardened arteries-obesity, heart disease, and cancer rates have continued to climb.

Based on more than two decades of research by world-renowned biochemist and fats expert Dr. Mary Enig, Eat Fat, Lose Fat flouts conventional wisdom by asserting that so-called "healthy" vegetable oils (such as soybean and corn) are in large part responsible for our national obesity and health crises, while the saturated fats traditionally considered "harmful" (such as those found in coconut oil and butter) are, in fact, essential to weight loss and health.
World populations on four continents that subsist on tthe coconut with less evidence of heart disease, weight gain, or other chronic illnesses provide the "best proof" of this food's safety and efficacy; dozens of studies conducted by prestigious, mainstream universities support the use of coconut and other healthy fats and reveal the faulty reasoning underlying the saturated fat/cholesterol/heart disease hypothesis; and case stories from a wide range of people illustrate how using coconut oil in concert with other healthy fats can spark weight loss and heal serious illnesses, including anxiety, hypothyroidism, and chronic fatigue syndrome.

OR read this article from The New York Times about studies showing the lowering of bad cholesterol with a high-fat diet:
http://tierneylab.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/07/21/good-news-on-saturated-fat/

Or you can always check out the studies of Weston A Price (a prominent 20th century nutritional researcher) and his organization who advocate healthy eating in every way: http://www.westonaprice.org/

Now, I digress, I cannot speak for the saturated fats from conventionally raised animals or the highly refined versions of coconut and palm oils.  I'm afraid they are on their own.  I wouldn't be very surprised if they do contribute to some of the things saturated fat, in general, is always blamed for (ie: cholesterol, heart disease, excess weight gain, etc.) that may explain the ongoing miseducation of consumers by government and the food mareters.  But the source of the issue would not be the fat itself but more likely the byproducts of industry such as synthetic hormones, processing chemical residues, antibiotics (directly contributing to imbalance of the friendly bacteria in our bodies and therefore hindering our overall health; namely absorption of nutrients, immunity, significantly lowered disease-resistance etc.) and more.

Not to mention what factory farms feed their poor animals; corn , corn and more corn - often genetically modified, also a variety of grains (not their native food and so often causes unhealthy weight gain and much higher potential for disease and bacteria such as E.Coli. to proliferate) and (go forbid) animal by-products.  Yuck.
All this and certainly more that we'll undoubtedly find out about in the not-too-distant future when yet more log-term data comes out about the effects that our industrialized food system has had on our health.  I don't know about you but I'm not willing to take such chances.

Let's consider the animals for a moment...
Although factory farming delivers cheap food, it comes at a terrible cost for the animals.

Common features of factory farming include:
• Large numbers of animals housed together indoors
• Intensive confinement for extended periods
• Extremes of overcrowding or isolation
• Insufficient room to turn around, lie down, groom, or express normal behaviours
• Mechanized feeding, watering, and handling
• Minimal individual contact between the animal and human caretaker
• Premature separation of parent and offspring
• Use of antibiotics and hormones as growth promotants
• Surgical practices performed without anaesthetic, pain management or proper
veterinary care, such as debeaking, tail docking, tooth cutting, de-horning, and
castration

Intensive confinement of animals on factory farms contributes to virulent production-related
diseases, physical ailments, cannibalism, debilitating stress, and stereotypic
behaviours.

Examples of factory farming conditions include:
• Confinement of dairy cows and their offspring
• Confinement of multiple laying hens in wire battery cages
• Confinement of sows in crates
• Confine of veal calves in pens
• Discarding of all male chicks in the course of producing laying hens
• Premature separation of piglets and calves from their mothers
• Premature separation of dairy cows and their offspring (males are used in veal
production)
(The above lists were retrieved from http://www.humanefood.ca/faqs.html)

Here lists some more of the organizations in Canada and the US working toward a more sustainable food system including protecting animals from cruelty.
http://www.themeatrix.com/intl/canada/
http://beyondfactoryfarming.org/
http://www.environmentaldefence.ca/reports/farm.htm
http://www.chooseveg.ca/animal-cruelty-canada.asp (*Warning there are disturbing photos on this site of animal cruelty.  I decided to include them because I think some people need ot see the reality ot believe it.
http://www.gan.ca/campaigns/factory+farms/factsheets/index.en.html (This sight also has some disturbing images)
http://www.readersdigest.ca/mag/2001/06/factory_farm.html
http://www.humanesociety.org/issues/campaigns/factory_farming/

And a notable documentary that everyone on this continent (and beyond) should see is: Food, Inc. (http://www.foodincmovie.com/)

Now, you will certainly find study and after study that still try and convince you that you'll lose weight and lower cholesterol with a low-fat diet. First and foremost you need to ask where the information was gatherd and who funded it? Then you need to discern how many liberties the author is taking it their claims. And finally, you just need to look at history and the time-tested results of our eating habits since we as a culture have reduced out saturated fat intake (see above info from Eat Fat, Lose Fat). We now have far greater instance of heart disease, bad cholesterol, weight issues (obesity was very rare only 50 - 100 years ago) and other diseases and we, in general, eat far less saturated fat in our diets now that ever before.

Well, hunger is calling...I'm off to have a grilled (buttered) cheese (organic) sandwich w/ a half an avocado :)

Be well, Lisa Marie

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Healthy Fats - Part 1

Why is fat so misunderstood?  It is my opinion that our confusion has been bred in part by decades of mass marketing campaigns that lead us to believe that fat itself is our enemy.  We have seen a major shift since the 1970's toward a 'Low-Fat Revolution'.  And I think that this may be one of the single most damaging messages we've been exposed to in my lifetime.  I have seen people eat virtually no fat, striving for a virtually fat-free diet and they, inevitably, are suffering from all kinds of deficiencies and diseases as a result (more on that later).
Not only is the overall message to eat less fat but inevitably we are steered toward 'manufactured fats' or certainly those that are highly processed and therefore very unhealthy.  The result is major deficiencies of quality dietary fats such as (animal and plant sourced) saturated fat, unprocessed (vegetable sourced) polyunsaturated fats and essential fats (aka: essential fatty acids or omega 3/6/9, sourced largely from fish, nuts and seeds).

Infertility is just one of the 'diseases' that have become much more prevalent in the past decade, just as Multiple Sclerosis and Heart Disease and ADHD.  These diseases and many more, in my opinion, have some form of fat deficiency at their root, among other things.  In many cases though, positive dietary changes can reverse these major disease conditions in the body, using 'food as medicine' as the catalyst.

There is a statement I put in many of my nutritional recommendations to clients and that is:
"Your body wants to be in balance and is always trying to achieve it (it is programs into the very genes of every cell in your body). You simply have to give it the right fuel (appropriate whole foods, clean air and water) and allow it to do its amazing work. Part of that allowing is your trust in the process and letting go of any resistance in your body by using a daily practice of focused, deep breathing."

So the fat component of "appropriate whole foods" is; whole, natural fat - as nature intended.  We are, after all, part of the 'natural world' and so we get our most efficient, health promoting food from the 'natural world'.  The more it has deviated from that natural world the less our body recognizes it and thrives from it.  There are, however, methods of preparation that can healthfully alter natural food from its original state but that is done by way of natural method; ie: fermentation, natural preservation, dehydration, etc.

So, the truth about what constitutes a healthy food, including a healthy fat, is not really that complicated after all.  It just seems that way in a market-driven, food-manufacturing, falsified labeling-driven culture.  But once you let that all melt away and you only choose that which is produced in a healthy, sustainable, compassionate and respectful way, it's not all that difficult to sift through the garbage and find the 'gems'.

Here is a simple chart of the good and the bad (and the ugly in some cases)

Bad:                                                                      
Common refined vegetable oils(these are the majority of what you find at the grocery store and no one type is exempt)                         

Non-organic corn, canola or soy                          

Too much Sunflower, safflower, corn and cottonseed = too much inflammation-promoting    
Omega 6 in your diet                                            

Modified/hydrogenated anything = trans fats and inability to properly metabolize (ugly!)       

Non-organic butter (from factory-farmed, medicated, grain-fed cows)                                   
             
Good:

Unrefined or cold-pressed veg. oils

Virgin Coconut or Olive oil

Organic and cold-pressed corn, canola and soy

Use (virgin)olive, sesame, hazelnut, walnut, etc.
(these contain lower levels of Omega 6 and some of which are high in healthful Omega 3

and are even local :)

The only vegetable based oils that should be solid are coconut and palm b/c they're naturally saturated,
otherwise vegetable oils should not solidify unless by unnatural means.

Organic butter (ideally from grass-fed, free-range cows). Yes, it's healthy!

 *Some brand names of healthful oils I've used have been happy with are: Orphee, Spectrum (their unrefined varieties), Alpha (coconut), Rapunzel, Earth's Best, Flora.  And I'm sure there are many smaller, quality oil-producers out there too that I don't yet know about.  I
(If you know of one in particular - please let me know!)
____________________________________________
There are a great many organizations out there today that have been fighting to put healthful food back on the dinner tables of people like you and me, with much achievement, and here are just a few:

http://www.westonaprice.org/ - Named after one of the 20th century's most prominent Nutritional Researcher's.
http://www.edibleschoolyard.org/ - Founded by the indelible Alice Waters - Chef and Food Activist
http://www.michaelpollan.com/ - Author of 'In Defense of Food' and Omnivore's Dilemma' -one of America's leaders in the fight for Food Reform
http://www.farmfolkcityfolk.ca/ - Farm Folk, City Folk - A wonderful organization cultivating a local, sustainable food system
http://www.eatlocal.org/ Our local Farmer's Market Association
http://www.wildfermentation.com/ - a food security & fermentation enthusiast who's making a difference!

So I say bring on the 'High Fat Revolution' - as long as it's real fat!

Stay tuned for more on this huge topic...
Be well, Lisa Marie

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Dietary intake of saturated fats are not linked to cardiovascular disease, so says a meta-analysis of 21 studies from across the world....


This headline that I am reporting sets an enormous precident, especially to those of us who have been trying to get this information across for many years now.  Please read the following link and be informed about this very important and often confused subject. 
I will follow-up with some foundational info on what dietary fats are important for us to have on a regular basis.  Hint it may not be what you expect (and certainly not what you tend to read in the omni-present, so-called health journals)

http://www.nutraingredients.com/content/view/print/277500

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Nourishing with Clean Fuel

This week being a very busy week for me (I was just in Kamloops for 5 days) with many deadlines and plenty of client bookings (smiles), so I decided to share a wonderful recipe with you that has incredible nourishing and detoxifying powers all in one package.
So, if you're cleansing, thinking of starting a cleanse or just want a great any-season, easy-to-digest salad recipe - this one is for you.  It is great recipe for 'filling in the gaps' in your diet by nourishing with some of nature's cleanest nature's fuel.

Any Season Sprout Salad

*A very enzyme-rich salad that is easy to digest!

1 ripe avocado, sliced
1/2 cup ass’t bean sprouts
1/2 cup sunflower sprouts
1/4 cup broccoli sprouts
1/4 cup garlic sprouts
¼ package pea shoots
a few sprigs of water cress
Approx. 6 red or purple radishes, sliced
1 stalk of celery
1 stalk of green onion, chopped
Makes approx. 2 portions

Dressing:
4 Tbsp Olive oil
2 Tbsp Red wine or balsamic vinegar
Splash of raw apple cider vinegar or fresh squeezed lemon
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp Maple syrup (double for ‘sweet-tooths’)
1 sprig of fresh lemon thyme (optional)
Pinch unrefined sea salt to taste
Fresh black pepper to taste
Crumbled feta cheese (optional)

Combine and drizzle on freshly made salad...and enjoy!
*Dressing can be stored in the fridge for several weeks if well-sealed and preferrably in a dark glass container.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Sugar and its Many Faces

Until recently I have been really strict about my little one's sugar intake (basically nothing except some raw honey and the odd bit of real maple syrup in homemade foods) but I realize I can only carry on for so long. Also, the increasing frequency of play dates and outings has made it harder to control what passes his lips. Since when have Goldfish become an official food group?

I have noticed lately when he has ingested some of these more refined foods his sleep suffers. On several occasions recently he has been impossible to put down for a nap and my husband and I were totally baffled as to why. Then I started watching his food intake and, sure enough, the fussy naptimes correlated with his refined food intake, albeit only in small, infrequent doses. His overall demeanor is also affected as he is more irritable and does not listen and cooperate well.  This happens to adults too but may not be as obvious as we don't have our parents observing us and overlooking our diets anymore.

This inspired me to write a post about sugar and its many guises. We are all gradually becoming better at reading labels—good for us! But unfortunately as we consumers become smarter the marketers of food get smarter as well, and can be very deceptive about their advertising and labeling in order to reach a broader group of people. And this is not necessarily intentional as there is a lot of ignorance about what is considered healthy amongst good food manufacturers.

They want their food to be appealing so they’ll make it look sexier on the outside when it’s really rather un-appealing on the inside. For example, many marketers of children’s food incorporate cartoon characters to make it almost impossible for your child to pass it by in the grocery store (I hate those). And of course they desperately have to have it because their favourite cartoon is on it. That is almost sure-fire criteria for me to actually avoid the product, as it is likely to contain loads of sugar.

My Guidelines on Sugar
1. First, remember the saying “If you can’t pronounce it, it’s probably not healthy”? This is pretty sound advice.

2. There are many pronounceable words as well that we need to avoid: Anything on an ingredient label ending in 'ose' (ie: fructose, sucrose, glucose…) is a refined sugar, which is not a healthy staple food (these are only really appropriate for occasional use, meaning maybe once a month, at most).

3. Pretty much anything that doesn’t say unrefined or raw (when labeling sugar) is refined or too highly processed in some way.

Sweeteners I recommend using exclusively in your kitchen
Raw, unprocessed honey (“straight from the bees knees” as I say) *not pasteurized or unpasteurized, which is still processed too much and destroys beneficial nutrients. This is my personal favourite as it is local an eco-friendly

Real Maple Syrup (“straight from the tree’s knees”)

Brown Rice Syrup

Blackstrap Molasses (unsulphured)

Panela, Rapadura (sourced from Central/South America)

Jaggery (traditionally used in India and Africa)

Stevia (unrefined and ideally green in colour, as it comes from a green plant which you can, incidentally, easily grow yourself.)

How our bodies are affected by refined sugar
When we eat sugar in its refined form our body processes it much differently that it would in its unrefined form. Being the natural beings that we are—our bodies are attuned to natural food and thrives best on it in its most pure, unprocessed form.

When you eat something with ‘white sugar’ in it, for instance, your body wonders: “Where’s the fibre? Where are all the vitamins and minerals?" Your body makes the best of it and metabolizes it anyway. Over time, if we continue to eat these foods on a regular basis, the lack of fibre, vitamins and minerals plays havoc on our systems as our bodies begin to miss the lacking ingredients that should inherently be there. This is what happens when deficiency sets in. The very missing parts become our bodies deficiencies. Snd those deficiencies potentially become the roots of disease.

Raw/unrefined sugar contains the same vitamin and mineral consistency that is found in the juice from the sugarcane plant. These minerals include Phosphorous, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium and Potassium. When sugar is processed there are many harmful chemicals added such as Phosphoric Acid, Sulfur Dioxide and Formic Acid. Fortified (added) vitamins and minerals are not nearly as beneficial as the naturally occurring ones found in fresh food, so don't rely on them for your daily intake. They'll keep you alive...but not healthy.

Sugar Addiciton
Another consideration is the addiction potential of refined sugar, which is much greater without the refined-out nutrients. When we crave sweet things our body is actually craving the ‘whole package’ so it will keep craving it until we feed it the unrefined sweets our body really wants and needs. I personally reversed my pre-diabetic condition several years ago by totally removing refined sugar/grains from my diet and eating predominantly raw honey as my sweetener of choice. It took only 6 weeks to see major results and renewed health.

Almost every modern illness is linked to regular consumption of refined sugar/grain intake. For example: Cancer, Diabetes, Heart Disease/High Cholesterol, Attention Deficit Disorder, Weight Issues and Obesity, Immune-Related disorders. And we are seeing them occur more and more in young children.

Your raw, unrefined sugar should look brown, crumbly and uncrystallized, like this:


And not like this:                            
  

And definitely not this:

Monday, February 22, 2010

If We Only Knew Now What We Knew Then

Are you absorbing the nutrients from your food?

Looking back in history and in many cases still today (outside North America), traditional peoples from all around the world were fermenting, soaking, or sprouting their grains, legumes and nuts/seeds (picture a Japanese family fermenting soy beans to make miso or a Bavarian woman fermenting her flour to make sourdough bread). They somehow inherently knew that these foods required these techniques to break down ‘anti-nutrients’, such as phytic acid, creating better mineral absorption and other nutrient content as well increasing enzymes. It also creates a more alkaline product (we all seem to need more alkalinity these days).

It’s amazing how traditional wisdom can be so easily overlooked or 'lost in translation' from generation to generation. And now our modern, fast-paced diets, without these principles, are taking a toll on our health with a huge increase in food allergies, digestive/intestinal problems, immune deficiencies, etc.  (Let's not even mention the increase in stress of our lifestyles).

Did you know...amongst the top 3 reasons for hospitalization and intake of pharmaceutical drugs is digestive/intestinal disorders.  The vast majority of these issues can be reversed with improving your food quality and managing your stress (take a deep breath once in a while!...especially before/after eating please...more on that in future posts)

Science now proves:
• The phytic acid present in most grains, beans, nuts and seeds binds with calcium, zinc, magnesium and iron, rendering these nutrients almost impossible to absorb and therefore leaving us mal-nourished. Over time this will leave us with a deficit that can potentially lead to many different chronic and acute diseases.  Soaking, sprouting or fermenting these foods will neutralise the phytic acid and allow for optimal absorption of these critical nutrients.

• ‘Enzyme inhibitors’ are also neutralized with soaking, not only increasing vitamin content, but dramatically increasing enzyme content.

• Gluten and other hard to digest proteins are broken down, which makes for easy digestion. *Rye, Barley, Wheat, Kamut and Spelt and most oat products contain gluten.

Using these techniques:
• Soak grains, legumes, nuts & seeds for at least 7 hours before use, ideally in an acidic medium (e.g. a dash of apple cider vinegar, a squeeze of lemon or tsp. of yogourt) or just water.

• Buy or make whole grain sourdough breads.  These have undergone full fermentation of the dough.
*Yeast fermentation does not neutralize phytic acid or release the bound nutrients.
Her eis a link for some good recipes and photos: http://www.breadtopia.com/whole-grain-sourdough/

• Soak nuts/seeds overnight, drain and then place in oven on lowest possible setting (pilot light for gas or 150 F electric) or, even better, a dehydrator to dry throughout (up to 16+ hours). This vastly increases storage time, provides better crunch and flavour. *I do a big batch of nuts and seeds approx. once per month and then store them in glass jars in my pantry for a healthy and easy snack or meal embellishment.

• Eat sprouted grains, legumes, nuts and seeds (see my recent post on sprouting and the resources noted).  There are many sprouted grain breads on the market today. *See this link: http://www.boston.com/lifestyle/food/articles/2009/03/04/ancient_bread_sprouts_anew/ for a great article from the Boston Globe with a yummy recipe to boot.

Oxalic Acid
This is found primarily in leafy green vegetables such as chard, spinach, beet greens, mustard greens. It binds with calcium and iron and inhibits their absorption.

*Lightly steaming (or sautéing) is enough to neutralize the oxalic acid found within.
_______________________________________________
Don't be overwhelmed by all this information, especially if it is all new to you.  Take it in stride and gradually make improvements and, in no time, you'll be achieving these things easily and with minimal effort.  In the whole scheme of things it is a minor change but with VAST benefits over time.

Be well-nourished from the inside out...Lisa Marie

Tuesday, February 16, 2010


Love is in the Air
Well, Valentine’s Day just passed and you either love it or hate it. I often think about how I can spend Valentine’s Day in a not-so-conventional way. I started making homemade cards years ago to bypass the cheesy Hallmark greetings, not to mention that they are costly (for what they are). And in recent years I have also been known to cook a yummy meal and indulge in plenty of dark chocolate.

This year, I gave my hubby a homemade card and a heart-shaped rock – which he received very enthusiastically. Oddly, he returned the sentiment with a similar heart-shaped rock (we were walking on the beach yesterday with our little one, Oskar).

Which brings me to the point of this post. What says ‘I love you’? In particular, what foods say “I love you”.

They say endorphin-promoting foods are ones that are ‘sweet’ and often ‘fatty’. These need not be unhealthy though like so many options we are faced with at the supermarket.
And by the way, if you do not have a special someone in your life you should feed these to yourself to tell yourself “I love me”. There’s no better way to attract love to you than treating yourself with love. OK advice column over…now the food stuff begins…

Consider these:
Dark Chocolate (the old stand-by) – a much better option that milk or white chocolate that usually contains all sorts of yucky ingredients including milk powders and loads more sugar. Having said that a small portion of milk chocolate once a month or so won’t kill you… if you insist!

I have a pretty ‘deadly’ recipe that a colleague of mine gave me recently. I’ve modified it slightly, they’re called chocolate chlorella balls and they’re dynamite! Not only healthy but deee-licious!

I’m posting it for your delight!
________________________________________________
Chocolate Spirulina Balls:
1 cup hempseeds
2 cups cacao powder
½ cup spirulina
½ cup virgin coconut oil
¾ cup raw honey
3 pinches celtic (unrefined) sea salt
3 vanilla pods (scrape inside) – if cannot find can use vanilla extract
pinch of cinnamon and/or cardamom and/or cayenne - to spice it up a bit ;)

-Mix all ingredients in a bowl until everything is mixed in together, roll into little balls and put in the freezer for 15 minutes. You can then store them in the fridge until eaten

Makes 80 (you can half recipe if needed)
________________________________________________
Creamy foods: For example, creamy mashed potatoes (don’t peel the skins and use organic non-homogenized milk, hint: Avalon brand!), homemade hot chocolate (made with dark chocolate, add maple syrup or stevia to sweeten. Craving ice cream? Before you reach for the (gasp) Ben & Jerry’s, check out Saltspring Island Ice Cream company for some of the healthiest ice cream around. Or perhaps full-fat non-homogenized yogourt (ie: Saugeen and Jerseyland Organics brands) with a splash of maple syrup and real vanilla – mmm…

*If you’re dairy intolerant try using coconut milk in recipes that called for cream ie: puddings, creamy sauces (ie: curry’s) as long as the coconut flavour works for you. I make a pretty mean thai-style rice pudding with overcooked brown rice, coconut milk, maple syrup, cinnamon and cardamom.

**Also, there’s rice, soy, hemp and almond milks to use as alternatives – they’re not a creamy but they still can satiate you. I make a very satisfying chocolate pudding with Ryza rice milk.

Homemade Candy – try making caramel at home with unrefined cane sugar instead of white sugar. Drizzle with melted dark chocolate on pecans and be in total bliss! Or try maple sunflower candy as per Rebecca Wood’s website http://www.rwood.com/Recipes/Maple_Sunflower_Candy.htm

I also came across this recipe Omega Rich Sweets recipe a couple of years ago and find it pretty yummy and hits the ‘sweet spot’ (I wish I knew who created this recipe so I could give credit).
_____________________________________________
OMEGA RICH SWEETS
1 cup dried organic apricots, diced
1/2 cup virgin coconut oil
2 tbsp raw cocoa powder
2 tbsp cocoa nibs
1 tsp orange zest
3 tbsp hemp nuts
2 tbsp chia seeds

1. In a food processor, blend apricots and coconut oil for about 30 seconds.
2. Add orange zest and cocoa powder, pulse for a few seconds.
3. Add cocoa nibs and hemp nuts, process until a ball starts to form.
4. Scoop mixture into the middle of a wax or parchment paper sheet. Fold paper over mixture and begin to roll slowly back and forth to form a cylinder about 6 or 7 inches long, about 1 to 1 1/2 inches in diameter.
5. Open paper and sprinkle part of the chia seeds on top, roll a bit further. Sprinkle the remainder of chia seeds on top and roll until all seeds have coated the outside of the roll.
6. Refrigerate, slice and serve.

Note: If you prefer, refrigerate the cylinder before coating with seeds then slice into 1/4 inch slices and roll into individual balls. Coat each individual ball with chia seeds or your favourite crushed nuts.
_______________________________________________
Enjoy your sweets responsibly but don’t try and go without them completely if you crave them. Just make yourself some quality ones and allow yourself to enjoy them without over-indulging. You’re less likely to binge on stuff that’s healthier because it actually satiates the craving whereas the refined/processed versions do not, so they leave you wanting more and more and more and the vicious addiction cycle activates.

Enjoy the sweetness of life!
(stay tuned for more discussion about healthy sweets and managing blood sugar and weight issues)

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The Power of Sprouts

Many do not realize the healing power of sprouts but the founder of the Hippocrates Health institute, Ann Wigmore, dedicated her life to rediscover the healing and culinary properties of sprouts. Her institute treated people, over many years, for many different disorders. Sprouts were found to contribute extensively to the immune system, as excellent detoxifiers. Being biogenic, sprouts are attributed rejuvenation qualities (creative life force). This contributes to the vitality and stamina experienced by thousands who consume them regularly. They are rich in vitamins, minerals, proteins, and relevant enzymes to assist its digestion.
Sprout History
Medicinally and nutritionally, sprouts have a long history. It has been written that the Ancient Chinese physicians recognized and prescribed sprouts for curing many disorders over 5,000 years ago.
In the 1700's, sailors were riddled by scurvy (lack of Vitamin C) and suffered heavy casualties during their two to three year voyages until Captain James Cook had his sailors eat limes, lemons and varieties of sprouts; all abundant holders of Vitamin C. These were, predominantly, were credited for preventing the mariners' casualties.

It is really only in the past thirty years or so that "westerners" have become interested in sprouts and sprouting. During World War II, Dr.. Clive M. McKay, Professor of Nutrition at Cornell University. Dr. McKay led off with this dramatic announcement: "Wanted! A vegetable that will grow in any climate, will rival meat in nutritive value, will mature in 3 to 5 days, may be planted any day of the year, will require neither soil nor sunshine, will rival tomatoes in Vitamin C, will be free of waste in preparation and can be cooked with little fuel and as quickly as a ... chop." Dr. McKay was talking about soybean sprouts. He and a team of nutritionists had spent years researching the amazing properties of sprouted soybeans. They found that sprouts retain the B-complex vitamins present in the original seed, and show a big jump in Vitamin A and an almost unbelievable amount of Vitamin C over that present in unsprouted seeds. While some nutritionists point out that this high vitamin content is gained at the expense of some protein loss (conversely, the protein actually becomes more bio-available), the figures are impressive: an average 300 percent increase in Vitamin A and a 500 to 600 percent increase in Vitamin C. In addition, in the sprouting process starches are converted to simple sugars, thus making sprouts easily digested.

*Always choose organic seeds for sprouting to avoid genetically modified seeds as well as any chemical residues.

Health Benefits Galore
I often recommend using sprouts in the daily diet of my clients as an easy power-packed addition to any meal – particularly for people who have a hard time getting in their daily recommended intake of vegetables. Sprouts are one of the few fast foods that are healthy and they’re delightfully easy to incorporate into the diet. If, for instance, you often have eggs and toast for breakfast– accompany with a handful of sprouts to enhance your vegetable intake for the day. Or use a variety of them instead of salad greens in the colder season for a meal that’s more nutrient-rich and less work for your digestive system.

Be sure to explore beyond the standard alfalfa sprouts; some of my favourites include: broccoli, garlic, clover, rasdish, sunflower and mixed bean sprouts, available at local supermarkets in the produce section. At home you can extend the variety even further with mung sprouts (traditionally found in Chinese cuisine), fenugreek, mustard (spicy!), flax and many more. The possibilities are endless; you can sprout just about every grain, seed, nut or legume endowed with the potential for the next generation of new plant life. In general you will see the increase of fibre and chlorophyll (which is itself rich in nutrients and health-giving properties such as magnesium), 15-30% more protein, a variety of enzymes, Beta-carotene (Vitamin A’s precursor), B complex (especially heart-friendly Niacin and Riboflavin), Vitamin C, E, K calcium, phosphorous and iron, though mineral content does not increase as much as the vitamins do.  All that and the vital energy within the sprouts are tranfered to your body when you eat them. 
We all need alittle more of that, don't we?
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Some of the results of adding sprouts to the diet include: weight loss, improved hormone balance (including improved thyroid function and PMS symptoms), general body cleanse/detoxification, improved digestion & liver function and even the prevention of many of our culture’s most prevalent diseases; osteoporosis, cancer and heart disease.
Alfalfa sprouts, soybeans, clover and oilseeds (such as flaxseed) are the most significant dietary sources of the phytoestrogens such as isoflavones, coumestans, and lignans, respectively. Studies in humans, animals and cell culture systems suggest that these dietary phytoestrogens play an important role in prevention of menopausal symptoms, osteoporosis, cancer and heart disease. _________________________________________________

Sprouts are likely the most vitally alive and nourishing foods we can eat. We can sprout all year round and benefit from their low-calorie, high-nutrient density which supports an improved metabolism – great for those trying to lose or maintain a healthy weight. They also provide the nutrients of leafy greens when they are not in-season. And the amount of nourishment per dollar surpasses most any other food – so they’re also very economical for those of us who are watching our budgets a little more closely these days.

A great website for getting started at home is: http://www.sproutpeople.com/index.html but all you really need to start is a few seeds and a jar with a lid with some holes punched in it and some filtered water. Different seeds require different treatment and time to sprout (see website for details)

Enjoy and be better-nourished!
Lisa Marie

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