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

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:

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

• 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

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 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

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