Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Edible Adventures Away From Home

This past week I visited with my family that lives out-of-state.

In order to stay active during the week I was away my fitness regime included daily walks, light weights every other day, and daily yoga.

On my walks I took advantage of a favorite paved walking trail that is in a near-by canyon.  Although  I have walked in this canyon in all seasons of the year - including what my daughter refers to as our "winter marches"- the canyon is particularly beautiful and tempting in the autumn.

The scenery was so inspiring that what is ordinarily an hour walk in the summer easily becomes a two hour walk in the autumn.  Each time I walked I tried to push myself to go further or faster up the trail.

Even though these walks were not what I would consider peak intensity challenges - I still managed to find a way to make them a bit more challenging than my usual walks at home.

1 - I was at a higher elevation than at home.  4,500 feet.

2 - I sometimes took turns pushing a rather sturdy baby stroller along with two 13-pound babies.

3 - I walked in the afternoon instead of the morning.

This past month I have been consciously adding more carbohydrate food into my daily diet.  I have been eating more baked yams and sweet potatoes, red potatoes and fruit.  What I found food-wise is that even though I was exerting myself a bit more at 4,500 feet elevation and even though I sometimes took turns pushing the baby stroller, my blood sugar remained stable as long as I remembered to eat a snack within 30 minutes of the walk.

The ideal snack for me was to take some fruit and nuts along with water for hydration.  I either took an apple or a banana and almonds.   One day I had some coconut water.  These simple precautions helped prevent my fairly typical post-hike energy slumps.

This is actually the first time I have been away from home for a very long time that I have been able to manage my blood sugar and energy levels this consistently and this well.

Monday, October 14, 2013

How To Stay Comfortable in Dry Weather

When the weather gets dry and the humidity drops some of us sensitive types notice the difference.  I, myself, develop annoying symptoms such as dry itchy skin, chapped lips, dry hair, and dry eyes.

Dryness, in general, is an indication of yin or blood deficiency in TCM.  Dryness is an indication that the body needs extra nourishment and attention.

Some of the ways that I nourish myself during bouts of environmental dryness is making certain that I drink plenty of fluids.  I have a reverse osmosis water filter which is good at removing impurities but notorious for removing helpful hydrating minerals.

I remedy the lack of minerals by either adding a drop of two of a brine solution that I make with chunks of Himalayan pink salt or by adding a few drops of ConcenTrace Trace Mineral Drops that I order online.

I also make certain that I get plenty of potassium rich foods as potassium deficiency will especially exacerbate dry eye.   Some of my other favorite go-to sources of potassium are wild-caught salmon, spinach, and avocado.

Finally I like to get my juicer out in dry weather. Nothing is more refreshing that a tall glass of celery cucumber juice.  Sometimes I get fancy-smansy and add spinach, kale, lemon, green apple or ginger.  But, the celery cucumber juice usually hits the spot just fine. Today I added a 1/2 wedge of avocado and blended it up with the juice.

Edible Adventures On A Local Hiking Trail

Since I was not completely satisfied with my hiking performance last weekend Dan and I decided to try a local hiking trail this weekend so that I can begin to experiment with - and hopefully eventually master - how best to fuel myself on those occasions that I take longer hikes.

We drove 45 minutes to a trailhead that is situated off Little Sycamore Road in the Santa Monica Mountains.  The 2-1/2 hour loop trail that we took on Saturday is called Mishe Mokwa and is part of the larger Back Bone Trail that affords beautiful views, such as Inspiration Point, of the sea below.

Mishe Mokwa - Santa Monica Mountains

There was plenty of uphill and downhill terrain, peppered with beautiful views, and the trail is full of loose rocks and gravel.  The hiking experience at Mishe Mokwa is not as challenging as the Sierras where Dan and I hiked last weekend - but it is more challenging than the trails I usually visit.

Kadota Fig Snack

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Edible Adventures In The High Sierras

In October my hikes become an Edible Adventure as I struggle to keep my legs sufficiently juiced to complete a challenging, but well-loved, four hour hike.

Partnered with super-fit Dan nearly every October, for my birthday, he and I visit the Sierra Nevada Mountains, where my father took me as a girl, for biking and hiking adventures. October is our favorite month in the Eastern Sierras because the mosquitos have gone into abeyance.  At this time of year the high altitude mountains are just on the edge of winter. Before the first winter storms arrive the air is incredibly clear and the sun is warm.

The hike is a challenge and is a way for me to measure my stamina, endurance and fitness.  We drive directly from sea level and hit the trail.  The trailhead begins at about 8,000 feet elevation and we climb steadily to a lake that is situated at nearly 12,000 feet elevation.

I have been disappointed with my performance the past couple of years.  I have no problem getting to the lake and enjoying lunch there with Dan - but I find I have been challenged to get myself back in what I consider good condition.

What happens on the way back is my legs start to feel heavy, I am less inclined to talk, and I stop enthusing over the scenery.  In other words I stop having a good time.

October 2011 

The first time this happened in October 2011 I had no idea what was the matter with me.   I don't remember what I ate that day - but I do know I was eating fairly low-carb.  Though I never felt actual and unmistakable hunger, in retrospect, I have begun to suspect that my lack of leg performance was food related.   In retrospect I suspect I experienced what athletic sorts of people refer to as "bonking" which means that I depleted my glycogen stores and then neglected to re-fuel with the right food.


October 2013

Fast-forward a few years to an older and wiser hiker?

This time I planned ahead, was willing to make a tentative "hand-shake" with higher carb foods, and was determined to dial in just the right amount to keep me feeling frisky for the duration.

On Friday last we drove to the Sierra's arriving at around 1 pm.  On the way up I had eaten brown rice sushi rolls, veggies and avocado.  We took a nice moderate 2-hour hike to stretch out our car-legs.  I had two bananas and almond butter with me and that kept me going strong.

That night at the condo we had a stir-fry with plenty of veggies, and a baked yam.

My sleep was a little off - but that is not uncommon at high elevation.

The next morning I ate more stir-fry for first breakfast.  Yes, I sound like a Hobbit.  We delayed our departure so that the sun could warm things up a bit and Dan could catch a few more zzz's.  For second breakfast I spread a gluten-free sourdough buckwheat pancake with banana and almond butter.  I felt I had things well in hand.

We hit the trailhead around 11am.  The hike up was spectacular.  Really beautiful.  I remembered to drink plenty of water, definitely the heaviest item in my day-pack, and thank you Dan for carrying it btw, and I munched an apple when we stopped to enjoy the scenery.

When we reached the lake a couple of hours later we nestled ourselves into lake-side rocks and trees for a picnic.  I had two baked yams with almond butter (sort of a gluten-free sandwich?), along with juicy cucumber and red bell pepper strips.  That seemed fairly high-carb and I was feeling pretty good about my food choices.

When we started back I must have been in denial. Though I felt better than I did in 2011- at about 15 minutes into the hike my legs started to feel tired and walking became a drudgery.

Was my head foggy again?  Perhaps it was.  Dan is VERY strong and I do try to keep up with him.  I didn't tell Dan I needed to stop until we were about 1 1/2 hours into the hike.  Again I wasn't aware of feeling hungry - but it occurred to me that since my legs were not recovering that I may need to eat more.  While Dan lounged in the sun on a rock I dug into the backpack.  When I got the instant oats out of my backpack and began to eat I literally wolfed them down.  Then I wolfed down an apple. Then I polished off the organic baby carrots.  I still didn't feel stellar but I finished the hike.

Back at the car Dan had a bag of dried bananas. Now mind you I have been a bit carb-phobic these past few years, or at least what you would call carb-cautious - and dried bananas can be the equivalent of contraband.  So I started with just one - which lead to another and another - and the more banana chips I ate the better I felt.  To be honest the banana chips completely restored me in no-time.

We ate a normal dinner that night.  About the same stir-fry and yams along with a green salad and avocado.  We don't usually eat out as we are both VERY health conscious and are trying to economize.

Next morning I felt hungry.  Dan went out on a bike ride while I packed and tidied the condo. While he was gone I ate three times before he got back!  I ate stir-fry, 6 buckwheat pancakes with almond butter and 2 bananas before noon. Then spend the rest of the day sightseeing with light snacking on trail-mix, apples, carrots, and baked yams.

We drove back late that night.  I slept like a baby when I got back to my sea-level bed.

Though I am still trying to process all of this - it seems to me that I was becoming calorie and carb-deficient even while I thought I was keeping up on things.  Even though I don't feel hungry on the trail - perhaps I need to eat more?

At home at sea-level I go for an hour walk/hike nearly everyday and am completely comfortable with that.  The Sierra hike essentially quadrupled my energy out-put without even taking elevation into consideration.

Dan, who is a fairly competent cyclist, is more familiar with his calorie and protein/carb ratio needs during bouts of intense exercise.  I am just beginning to explore what mine might be.

I don't particularly enjoy being foiled on the mountain a second time.  This is just the sort of Edible Adventure that challenges me.  Dan is not too excited about the idea, but, weather permitting, I would like to try it again this year, without necessarily having to wait until next October.

I will try to post some pics later.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Hormone Health - Are You Balanced?

Tomorrow I launch a new class on Women's Hormone Health.

Most of us are in fairly good balance hormonally until we reach about age 40 to age 50.  Then, as we begin to approach menopause and peri-menopause, we begin to loose that comfortable middle-ground. At menopause each of us will then fall into one of two very distinct hormone profiles or types.   As we begin to navigate the often complex world of "female hormone land" during peri-menopause and menopause it is very helpful to know what type we are.

One of the fun and useful things we are going to do in this class, whether we are cycling or not, is discover what our personal hormone type is.  When we know our type we can then begin to choose diet, lifestyle, and exercise that will balance and support us and slow the aging process rather than work against us.

We will follow up our class on hormone health with a "Blending For Energy, Longevity And Hydration class."  This class promises to be super fun.  I have selected about 3 - 4 smoothies that will support each of the three hormone types.  I will also teach participants how to individualize smoothies to support their type.

One of the most empowering things about menopause is getting the right information at the right time.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Beet The Heat Salad

 Beet Quinoa Salad

I like beet salads.  I actually have quite a collection of beet salad recipes that I cycle through.

With a delicious and interesting combination of flavors I think that this particular beet quinoa salad is one of my favorites.

I don't use strict proportions with this salad - so that the ingredients ratios can be more or less individualized according to your personal taste preferences.

Organic mix of lettuce greens chopped fine
Organic beet, cooked and cubed into 1/4-inch dice
Organic carrots, cubed into 1/4-inch dice
Organic spring onions or chives, thinly sliced
Handful of cooked quinoa
Handful of crispy walnuts
Handful of dried organic cherries
Sprinkling of blue cheese
Olive Oil Dressing

Combine lettuce, beet, carrots, scallion or chives, quinoa, walnuts and cherries and stir together well.  Serve on plate or plates with a sprinkling of blue cheese and olive oil dressing of your choice. 

My fav dressing is super simple.  I combine a good quality olive oil with freshly squeezed lemon juice, dijon mustard, honey, and sea salt.  The honey mustard flavor compliments the beets and cherries.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Disheartening News For Fish Lovers

In a recent post I wrote about how to carefully seek out wild-caught salmon, sockeye salmon, particular, over farm-raised varieties of salmon, for both health and environmental reasons.

Then I came across a disheartening article in Forbes Magazine that addresses the wide-spread nature of fish fraud in the United States.  After reading this article I began to wonder whether the fish that is labeled wild-caught sockeye salmon really is wild-caught sockeye salmon.  This is very disturbing news - especially for you sushi lovers out there!

Fake Fish On Shelves And Restaurant Tables Across USA, New Study Says - Forbes

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Weston A Price Foundations Dietary Recommendations for Pregnancy

I found the following guidelines for expectant and nursing mothers.

Recommendations for Pregnancy Diet

Cod Liver Oil - that supplies 20,000 IU vitamin A and 2000 IU vitamin D per day
1 qt. whole raw milk - preferably from pasture-fed cows - can be cultured such as kefir
4 T butter daily, preferably from pasture-fed cows
2 eggs, daily, preferably from pastured chickens
Additional egg yolks daily, added to smoothies and salad dressing
3 - 4 oz. fresh liver, once or twice a week
Fresh seafood, 2 - 4 times a week, salmon, shell fish and fish roe
Fresh beef or lamb daily, consumed with the fat
Oily fish or lard daily for vitamin D
2 T. coconut oil daily, used in cooking and smootohies
Lacto-fermented condiments and beverages
Bone broths used in soups, stews, and sauces
Soaked whole grains
Fresh organic vegetables and fruits

Avoid:

Trans fats - or hydrogenated oils
Junk food
Commercial Fried Foods
Sugar
White Flour
Soft Drinks
Caffeine
Alcohol
Cigarettes
Drugs - even prescriptions drugs

Important Warning:  Cod liver oil contains substantial levels of omega-3 EPA, which can cause numerous health problems, such as hemorrhaging during the birth process, if not balanced by arachidonic acid, an omega-6 fatty acid found in liver, egg yolks, and meat fats.  Please do not add cod liver oil to a diet that is deficient in these important animal foods.  It is important to follow our diet for pregnant mothers in its entirety, not just selected parts of it.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

New Post On Sloppy Joe's

Credits to Carrisa for sending me this recipe.  The Sloppy Joe's turned out to be such a hit in the household that they were eaten for breakfast, lunch, and dinner here.  The recipe makes a huge batch and what we had lasted in the fridge for several days.  The flavor actually got better after a day or so.

The only things that were changed up by me - is that I subbed in grass-fed beef and all organic ingredients.

http://pinterest.com/pin/298785756498780147/

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Wild-Caught Sockeye Salmon

I like the taste of fish - and wild-caught salmon is one of my personal favorites.  However, unless, one seeks out wild-caught salmon, specifically, the salmon one finds at the supermarket or the salmon served in a restaurant will, more often than not, be the farm-raised variety.

When I go to the supermarket I specifically seek out wild-caught salmon.  Wild-caught salmon, unlike farm-raised salmon, has a season.  If the salmon is not in season it is not available.  However, canned sockeye salmon and flash-frozen sockeye salmon are a good alternative when fresh salmon is out of season.  If a package reads "Atlantic Salmon" or "Farm-Raised" I do not buy it.  If I am uncertain I ask.

Wild-caught salmon is nutritious and has a more favorable omega-three profile than farm-raised salmon because wild salmon eat a healthier diet than farm-raised salmon and are not exposed to unnatural foods - such as corn and soy - and dangerous pesticides that are used to combat algae and sea lice in fish farms.

As an added bonus wild-caught salmon is a sustainable protein source because wild-caught salmon, unlike other protein sources, are allowed to live out 95% of their lives in nature as nature intended.

The wild-caught salmon are not harvested until they are at the very end of their lives just as they are preparing to spawn.  After salmon spawn - if they have not been caught by man or eaten by a bear - they die naturally.

Most native adult Pacific salmon feed on small fish, shrimp and squid.  Sockeye salmon, however, essentially vegetarian, eat plankton, and do not accumulate as much mercury as larger ocean fish do.

Because sockeye salmon are small, weighing between 5 - 15 pounds, they cannot be line-caught.

Sockeye salmon is a great choice for a healthy source of sustainable protein.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Super Simple Summer Supper

Keeping with the super simple theme - I have been trying to minimize my cooking/ kitchen time while still maximizing flavor and variety.

From the genesis of a Sunday Pot Roast I was able to get three meals.

Sunday night I served pot roast with vegetables.

Monday night I served shredded beef taco salad made from the left-over meat and I served it with guacamole and salsa, corn chips and shredded cheese.

Tuesday night I made cream of potato soup (made with awesome broth from pot roast) and served it with coleslaw.

Tonight I made large pot of sloppy joe's made with grass-fed ground beef and using a recipe that I got from Carrisa.  I served the beef with shredded lettuce, guacamole and salsa.  I did a repeat of guacamole and salsa because I am trying to perfect them.  I was happy with the guacamole this time and I am still working on the salsa.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Super Simple Taco Salad For Dinner

Yes - in case you haven't noticed - my enthusiasm for smoothies has been waning lately.  Rather than chugging down smoothies everyday - I have been enjoying them more occasionally - and as a treat rather than as everyday sustenance.

Ironically, on the other hand, my husband and I have done a role reversal, and he has become the smoothie aficionado in the family.   His take on smoothies is completely different than mine - but, this is a topic that I can save for another blog post. 

Meanwhile - I am still out of town.  And my husband, who came up for the weekend, noticed how much better the vita-mix works than his regular blender, and left with my vita-mix!  Yes - I travel with a blender - and apparently so does he! 

One of the things that I hope that I am learning to do while I am away is how to prepare a wider variety of food more efficiently and effectively.  I tend to complicate my life, especially my life in the kitchen - and when I  am on my own I often try to find ways to simplify and streamline my food life.  The fastest way to simplify my food life is to get into a food rut and eat the same food more or less until the pot of whatever I made has been exhausted.

But, because I am not cooking in my own kitchen and am not preparing food just to please or displease myself - I am trying to focus on both efficiency and variety without becoming overly complicated.

Tonight, for instance, I am taking the roast beef that was prepared yesterday - and I am re-inventing it.  I am shredding and seasoning it with coriander, cumin, chili powder, and garlic that has been sauteed in coconut oil for a spicy taco like flavor.

I will serve the beef along side shredded organic romaine lettuce, homemade guacamole, homemade salsa, shredded organic raw cheese, organic sour cream, and organic corn chips - so that each of us can compose our own version of a taco salad.

For dessert I will slice up an organic watermelon.

This is probably one of the easiest meals I have made in a long time.  Maybe this is the beginning of a new trend.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Egg Nog in the Raw

This is certainly not a traditional egg nog, but it is high on my list for heavenly.

Raw Egg Nog

1 quart raw milk
6 eggs
2 - 3 T raw honey
1/3 c. raw cream
dash of dry ginger

Blend everything together.  Adjust honey and ginger to taste.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Green Vegan Smoothie

With the weather still in the triple digits - and the kitchen running like a smoothie laboratory - I decided to make a green vegan smoothie before my walk this morning.

The green juice base I used was made up of freshly juiced spinach, kale, parsley, cilantro, celery, cucumber, green pepper, chard, lemon, lime and ginger.

Green Smoothie

1 c. green juice base
handful of sunflower seed sprouts
1 c. frozen organic blueberries
1 small organic banana
2 T chia seeds
1/4 avocado
1 scoop raw vegan protein powder

Blend it all up until very creamy and smooth.  It may take a little bit longer to get the chia seeds completely blended up.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Homemade Egg Nog

While Charlotte recovers her strength - and to some degree her appetite - Brett and I have been busy procuring and preparing food that we hope will both tempt and nourish her and the growing twins that she is breast-feeding.

Eggs have not sounded super appealing to her lately - and knowing how important eggs are - the choline-rich yolk in particular - to brain development - Brett came up with the idea of making a non-alcoholic eggnog for Charlotte.

Not only is eggnog delicious - but it is full of good and easily assimilated nourishment.

Here is Brett's awesome, labor of love, eggnog recipe.

BRETT'S NON-ALCOHOLIC EGGNOG

6 large eggs
2 egg yolks
10 T. sugar
1/4 t. sea salt
4 c. whole raw milk
1 - 2 T. vanilla extract
1 t. grated nutmeg
1/2 c. heavy cream - opt.

1 - Whisk eggs, yolks, and sea salt in heavy sauce pan - off the heat.
2 - Stir in  milk, 1/2 c. at a time, blending well after each addition.
3 - Heat slowly over lowest possible heat until it registers 160 degrees on a thermometer.  It should be thick enough to coast the back of a spoon and this usually takes about 25 - 30 minutes.
4 - Stir in vanilla and nutmeg.
5 - Cover with plastic and refrigerate until well chilled.
6 - We use raw milk that is so full of cream that Brett often does not need to add cream  If you, however, use cream - whip it until soft peaks form and then fold it in and incorporate it gently into the egg nog.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Raw Milk Smoothie

I am seldom tempted to venture very far from home when the weather is hot.  So this morning I got out of bed earlier than I ordinarily would to take a walk in a wooded canyon area that is not too far from where I am staying.  By the time I got back I was seriously ready for a substantial smoothie.  Trying to avoid my tendency for food ruts - and as you will note from my various smoothie posts - I have been trying to vary my smoothie each morning.  Here is what I came up with today.

Raw Milk Smoothie

1 1/2 c. raw milk
1 organic banana
3/4 c. frozen organic blueberries
1 slice fresh ginger
3 egg yolks

Blend milk, banana, blueberries and ginger until smooth and creamy.  Pour into a mason jar with a screw on lid along with 3 egg yolks and shake until the egg yolks are incorporated into the smoothie.  This prevents the healthy fats in the yolks from oxidizing or degrading.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Good Food Memory


Food memories can be awesome.  Several years ago I visited a rare and unusual place called Kayenta in  Southern Utah.  The Kayenta community is planned with respect for the environment - which includes plenty of open land, fantastic views of red rock and blue sky, as well as earthen dwellings that seem to melt into the landscape.

While exploring a beautiful desert labyrinth and Coyote Gulch Art Village my companions and I stopped for lunch at the Xetava Gardens Cafe.  

It was a hot day - as is often the case in Southern Utah.  I ordered a grass-fed beef steak salad.  It was awesome!  The steak was done to perfection - sliced thin over romaine lettuce and served with ranch dressing.

It was one of those mouth-watering and completely satisfying food experiences that you always remember afterward.

Now when the weather gets into the triple digits and I don't know what sounds good - I remember that steak salad - good food, and good company.

Saturday Morning Smoothies

It was a triple smoothie morning.

Brett, Charlotte, and I all converged on the kitchen at about the same time with different concepts of smoothies in mind.

Smoothie Number One

1 c. Coconut Water
3 frozen cubes of Raw Milk
Fresh Organic Strawberries
Fresh Organic Blackberries
Organic Spinach
1 T. Chia Seeds
1 T Coconut Oil

Blend until smooth.  This smoothie is not super sweet.  If you like smoothies that are a bit more sweet - then add a banana fresh or frozen.

I liked the addition of the frozen raw milk cubes because I was using fresh fruit this morning - the frozen raw milk added a nice chill and thickness to the smoothie.  Freezing raw milk in ice cube trays is a great idea for preserving raw milk when you have more than you can use on hand.  All the nutrients in the milk, but vitamin K, is preserved in freezing.

Smoothie Number Two

Raw Milk - Fresh Or Frozen
Frozen Organic Berry Mix - Strawberry, Blueberry, Raspberry, Blackberry
Fresh Organic Banana
Vanilla Extract
Raw Honey

Blend until creamy and smooth.  This smoothie is like a frozen ice-cream it is so thick.

Smoothie Number Three

Raw Milk - Fresh or Frozen
Fresh Organic Bananas
Lots of Dutch Cocoa
Vanilla Extract

Blend until creamy and smooth.   This smoothie is super-dark and super-delicious.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Beat The Heat - Cool Summer Meals

With temperatures reaching triple digits I am not in my usual cooking or baking-mode.

Here are some tips that help me deal with the heat.

1 - Eat small frequent meals - and eat less in general.   Small meals will keep you feeling energized and refreshed even when the weather is hot.

2 - Eat salad.  Salads are super refreshing and super healthy.  Tonight I had spinach salad, with sliced fresh organic strawberries, fresh organic blackberries, apple slices, pine nuts and a drizzle of homemade salad dressing (good quality olive oil, lemon juice, dijon mustard and sea salt).  I made a 15 minute pot of basmati coconut rice with turmeric and currants and a dash of cinnamon.n.

3- Learn to make cool summer soups.  For inspiration Julia Child has a fine selection of cool soups in volume two of "Mastering the Art of French Cooking."   My son Brett looks forward to gazpacho when tomatoes are in season.  I like to dress gazpacho up with tiny cubes of cucumber, bell pepper, tomato and avocado.

4 - Stay hydrated with refreshing smoothies and fruity-concoctions.  One of my summer-time favorites is watermelon blended up in the blender and enjoyed like a slushi.

5 - Bananas tend to ripen fast in warm weather.  I like to freeze them rather than bake banana bread when the weather is hot.  Frozen bananas, along with frozen berries, are a great addition to smoothies.  The result can be so thick that you will be eating your smoothie with a spoon.

6 - If I do have to bake something or cook something - I try to do my cooking and baking in the morning.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Another Delicious Smoothie

For those moments when you want to indulge in some raw spinach - here is a smoothie that really is uniquely delicious, not too sweet, and VERY green.

Green Machine Smoothie

Raw spinach
Raw milk
1/2 avocado
1 t. spirulina
1 organic banana
1 t. raw honey
pinch of sea salt

Fill blender with raw spinach.  Pour in a little raw milk - just enough to make it all blend-able.  Add rest of the ingredients and blend until smooth and creamy.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Oxalic Acid and Greens For Smoothies

As those of you who follow my blog already know - I have been experimenting with smoothie making lately - and the smoothies I make often contain loads of raw spinach and raw kale - which are high in oxalic acid.

Having read several cautions lately regarding high levels of oxalic acid in foods such as raw spinach and raw kale I decided to read up on oxalic acid and oxalic acid containing foods.  Small amounts of oxalic acid, contained in the occasional spinach salad, for instance, seldom pose a problem.  However what about the popular green smoothie which contains a whole blender full of greens  that are slugged down on a daily basis?  

From what I have read - when oxalic acid occurs in high concentrations, as it does in some vegetables, such as those listed below, and fruits such as plums, figs, raspberries and blueberries (some of my favorites), and even chocolate, it can interfere with the absorption of important minerals such as calcium and magnesium which may even aggravate kidney stones over time. 

Traditional preparations have historically relied on cooking and fermenting to help mitigate the effects of oxalic acid in these otherwise super nutritious foods.

VEGETABLES CONTAINING OXALIC ACID

Beets
Sweet potatoes
Celery
Dandelion greens
Eggplant
Kale
Chives
Broccoli
Carrots
Green Pepper
Parsnips
Potatoes
Pumpkin
Spinach
Squash
Turnip greens
Watercress
Okra
Collards
Escarole
Leeks
Purslane
Radish
Cassava


So to err on the side of caution - I decided to swap out the spinach and kale this morning.

New and Improved Morning Smoothie

1 c. coconut water
1 T. coconut oil
1 T. chia seed
1 c. frozen organic berries - raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, strawberries
1 frozen banana
handful of raw baby carrots
handful pea sprouts
handful sunflower seed sprouts
scoop raw protein powder
slice fresh ginger

Blend until creamy and smooth.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Vegan Blueberry Smoothie

This past month or so I have been exploring variations on a theme of smoothies.

Today I intend to go shopping for ingredients. Meanwhile, I have been using ingredients that I already have on hand.

When I make a smoothie using a raw/vegan protein powder, which I do every so often, and which can give a smoothie a powdery flavor, I like to add either a fresh slice of ginger or a fresh slice of lemon with the peel on or both for that matter.  Lemon, in particular, gives the flavor of the smoothie a lift.

Vegan Blueberry Smoothie

1 c. coconut water
1/4 c. coconut milk
1 T coconut oil
1 T chia seeds
1 1/2 c. organic frozen blueberries
1 organic banana
1 scoop raw protein powder
slice fresh ginger or slice of lemon with peel

Blend until smooth and creamy.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Coconut Berry Smoothie

Sunday morning - and I decided to mix things up a bit and create a non-dairy smoothie with some ingredients that I already had on hand.  Though any frozen organic berries will do - this morning I used a combination of acai fruit and blueberries along with some canned coconut milk that was left-over from making cardamom flavored basmati rice pudding with my son.

Coconut Blueberry Smoothie

1 c. coconut water
1/3 c. canned coconut milk
2 T coconut oil
1 T chia seed
1 organic banana
1 1/2 c. frozen organic berries
2 egg yolks

Blend coconut water, coconut milk, coconut oil, chia seed, banana and frozen berries until smooth and creamy.  You may have to stir it a lot as it is very thick.  Stir in egg yolks and enjoy!

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Egg Yolks and Blueberry Smoothies

Over the past month I have eaten anywhere from one to three raw egg yolks a day.  I have stirred egg yolk into blended soups for added thickness, I have added them to salad dressings, and this morning I stirred raw egg yolk into my morning smoothie.

I have been reading up on raw egg yolks lately and without a doubt they are superstars when it comes to nutrition.  The yolk, in particular, is important because the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K are concentrated in the yolk.  The yolk is also where you will find plenty of B vitamins, including B6 and B12, which many folks are short on, as well as calcium and zinc.  The bright yellow yolks of pastured eggs are loaded with important fat-soluble antioxidant nutrients such as lutein and zeaxanthin - known for preventing macular degeneration and cataracts.  Egg yolks are rich in choline.  Choline is a fatty substance that is a major component of our brain.  Yolks are a good source of lecithin and contain Omega-three DHA another vital brain nutrient.

Raw Milk Smoothie

1 c. raw milk
1 c. organic blueberries
1 organic banana
1 slice fresh ginger
3 egg yolks from pastured egg - stirred not blended

Blend raw milk, blueberries, banana, and ginger until smooth and creamy.  Stir in egg yolks.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Good Pregnancy Food

One week ago today I became the grandmother of two healthy boys.

Pre-conception and through out her pregnancy mother Charlotte did not stint on nutrient-dense foods.

Charlotte carried the babies full term and went into labor naturally at forty weeks and one day - which, I hear, is pretty impressive in the world of twins.  With six midwives in attendance the babies were safely delivered at home.

At birth twin A weighed in at 6 pounds 8 oz. and measured 21 inches.  He is long and lean and strong.  At one week he is already filling out on breast milk.  Twin B weighed in at a hefty 7 pounds 2 oz. and measured 18 3/4 inches.  He is plumper than his brother and has been a contented baby with a calm disposition.

Little boys with big appetites can put a huge demand on a new mother's resources.

To keep Charlotte feeling good I have gotten into the habit of making a pre-breakfast smoothie in the morning to keep her going until breakfast.

I like the idea of making smoothies because they are convenient to make and are loaded with nutrients.

Though the smoothie I make varies every morning - here is an approximation of what it looks like. 

Breakfast Smoothie

coconut water
organic baby spinach or baby kale
organic berries such as strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and blackberries
frozen acai puree
1 organic banana
1 scoop of raw protein powder
1 T. chia seeds
1 T. coconut oil
green stevia powder to taste

Blend until smooth and creamy.

Friday, June 7, 2013

What Diet Is Right For You?

In the past year or so I have devoted much attention to exploring the concept of what does or does not constitute a "Perfect Diet." I have questioned again and again, taking individual differences into consideration, whether there really is a diet that is perfect for everybody.

During the past couple of years I have experimented with my own diet, exploring various macro-nutrient thresholds, always with an eye to how I feel.

As I explored carb thresholds I experimented with low carb diets - even very low carb diets.

Without going into great detail I became convinced that low-carb diets were not ideal for my energy needs or sense of well being.

Just recently I came across a book that seems to address many of the questions I have had about my experience with low-carb and paleo-style diets in general.

For those of you who might be on a similar path - I highly recommend "Perfect Health Diet" by Paul Jaminet, PH.D and his wife Shou-Ching Jaminet, PH.D.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Real Food Wedding

As you know my daughter, whose personal health transformation inspired this blog, and I are real food enthusiasts.  With her wedding reception less than one week away, we are taking special care to plan a selection of real food desserts.  This has been a real pinterest inspired DIY event.  We plan to make the desserts ourselves using treasured family heirloom recipes.  Our dessert table will feature a homemade trifle, replete with lemon curd that takes 30 minutes to stir - and made by my son Brett, Mimi's berry cobbler, Grandma Taylor's picnic cake, and chocolate cupcakes with vanilla butter cream frosting along with a bride and groom cake that will be decorated in a rose design. We are avoiding all pro-inflammatory seed oils and processed faux foods.  As we finalize our shopping list this morning I am trying not to be staggered by the amounts of butter and cream.  Julia Child would be proud.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Gluten-Free Travel Food

Edible Adventures has been away from home for the past week.  For someone fixated on food like myself being away from home and my own kitchen often presents special challenges.

Since roadside fast food has no appeal for me - and is not what I consider a healthy option - I came up with three new travel foods that really worked for me and made the experience of travel more enjoyable than it usually is.

1 - Travel secret number one was paleo-style egg muffins.  I baked mine with crumbled turkey sausage (homemade and from my freezer), bacon, chopped onion, broccolini and beaten eggs.  The muffins tasted great on the road and I never felt deprived or hungry.

2 - Travel secret number two was frozen jars of homemade soup.  It was good to know that I could warm up a bowl of comforting homemade soup whenever I liked.  I made two different varieties - creamy squash soup with ginger and cream of broccoli soup with fennel and basil.

3 - Travel secret number three was onion flax crackers.  Since I am a gluten-free gal I made a large batch of dehydrated onion flax crackers and stored them in a ziplock bag.  They tasted great with mashed avocado and sunflower seeds sprouts for a quick snack.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Are Cleansing Diets Right For You?

Though our culture seems to be attracted to the idea of cleansing regimes and cleansing diets in general, perhaps a puritanical throw back, very few of us may actually thrive on a super cleansing diet, such as a raw food vegan or a macrobiotic diet, in the long run.

I have tried both a raw food vegan lifestyle - yes it is much more than a diet -  and macrobiotic diet and lifestyle for many years, and though I, currently, don't follow either program exclusively, I still incorporate much of what I learned from them into my current lifestyle.  Here are some of my thoughts on cleansing diets.

RAW FOOD VEGAN

At the risk of sounding esoteric, raw food, in my mind, is loud food.  In order to break up the fiber in raw food, especially the hardier greens such as kale and collard greens, so that you can digest and assimilate the nutrients, you have got to use some pretty heavy duty kitchen equipment.  Equipment that is often not appreciated by sensitive ears.

Raw food energy is essentially loud energy.  Loud and superficial.  What I call surface energy - like the dance of light across the surface of a lake.  There is a certain magic in the energy.  The energy feels great. You feel light, energized and even somewhat euphoric.  But, at the risk of sounding like a kill-joy, despite the energy high, on the back-side, the bodies deep energy reserves are depleted.  That would approximate a depletion of kidney or root energy from a Traditional Chinese Medicine perspective.  Or, from a Western perspective that would mean a lack of key nutrients - particularly the fat soluble vitamins, A, D, E and K-2, as well as B-12, essential fatty acids, unless supplemented, and essential amino acids.

Simply stated, a raw food vegan lifestyle, though often useful in the short term, is seldom sustainable in the long run.

MACROBIOTICS

The macrobiotic diet is also considered a cleansing diet - often used to treat excesses in the body such as tumor, cysts, growths and the like.  The macrobiotic diet is mostly a plant based diet, consisting of brown rice and vegetables with the infrequent addition of white non-oily fish or shellfish.

The focus is on slow-cooked food prepared by hand.  The food is quieter, more sustaining, and grounding than raw food.  When raw food is served it is often sauerkraut, pickle, or pressed salad and in small amounts.  The dishes are prepared by hand, requiring no more technology than a knife and cutting board.  Seeds are ground by hand using a suribachi and surikogi, which is the Japanese equivalent of a mortar and pestle.  The proper use of heat or fire is applied to "humanize" the food and help prepare it for digestion.

The diet has been helpful for people recovering from illness, however, in the long-term the diet can be depleting unless a wider diet is adopted.   Like the raw food vegan diet -  fat soluble vitamins A, D, E and K-2, unless one eats natto, certain essential fatty acids, and essential amino acids are conspicuously missing.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Fantastic Smoothie


Edible Adventures is on the road.  I am currently visiting my brother and his family.  His wife, Kristen, makes the most yummy smoothie in the morning.

The good news is that it is truly delicious - the bad news is that there really isn't a recipe for it.

So for those of you that like to experiment and don't usually follow a recipe - this will be a fun one to try.

I watched her make it yesterday.  This is an approximation of the smoothie I have been enjoying in the morning.

Kristen's Morning Smoothie

Fill a Vita-Mix Blender with the following:

  • coconut water
  • almond milk
  • organic greens
  • baby carrots
  • tons of berries - all sorts
  • apple, pear, or kiwi optional
  • slice of organic lemon with peel
  • scoop of coconut oil
  • scoop of chia seed
  • scoop of flax seed
  • scoop of vegan protein powder - soy free
  • scoop of maca powder

Blend it all up until it is smooth.  She varies is every morning - so that it never tastes quite the same.

My brother says he misses the morning smoothie when he is traveling.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

From Macrobiotics to Raw Food Vegan to Ayurveda

Food Styles

Over the past several decades I have explored macrobiotics, raw food, vegetarian, vegan cooked and raw, Ayurveda, among other food styles and traditions - so that over the years I have cycled though a lot of information and a lot of different ways of relating to food.  Each time I began to explore a new food system I wondered if I had found the perfect one.  What I learned is that there is no perfect diet and that even if we are eating a perfect diet today – the same food will not be perfect tomorrow – because health is not static – but a dynamic, ever changing thing.

I like to think that through my adventurous and enthusiastic dietary exploration that I was able to cull the best from each tradition.

Macrobiotics

I learned to LOVE sea vegetables.  To this day some of my favorite comfort foods come from the macrobiotic tradition.  Macrobiotic cuisine is always soothing and calming to me and I return to those time honored dishes again and again, especially when I am sick or under the weather.

Raw Food Vegan

Learning to prepare tasty raw vegan food was definitely an interesting challenge.  It was like learning a new language with food.  Colorful and completely fun.  The raw food vegan world is impeccable when it comes to food quality - insisting on the highest quality sea salts, fats and oil, organic fruits and vegetables.  I learned all about soaking and sprouting nuts, seeds, making awesome dehydrated flax crackers, and the like.

Ayurveda

It was fun to learn about the three doshas, vata, pitta, and kapha.  There is a lot of intuitive resonance with foods that support and nurture the three distinct doshas.  For instance, one can intuitively and easily reach for a vata-calming food remedy when the autumn winds are stirring around and one begins to feel less grounded.

Vegetarian

Vegetarian dishes are truly the color and excitement of the food world.  A plate without vegetables, fruits and the like would be a very dull plate indeed.  Creating a delicious array of vegetarian dishes is very instructive and will definitely take more time and TLC than throwing something on the grill for dinner, for instance.  

Weston A. Price Foundation

The evolution of a diet is a fascinating subject.  My personal dietary evolution ultimately lead to the Weston A Price Foundation where I learned about the important role of fat-soluble vitamins in human nutrition.  In addition, when I read  Sally Fallon's cookbook "Nourishing Traditions" I enthusiastically began making and eating all sorts of fermented food - which the plethora of posts on said subject attests to.

The dietary guidelines of the WAPF make the most sense to me because the parameters are very wide and easily accommodate various food styles, metabolic differences, individual needs and preferences.  Learn more about the Weston A. Price Foundation dietary guidelines and real food.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

What Is A Carbohydrate Threshold

To continue the conversation about smoothies.

Remembering that historically I have not been able to have smoothies in the morning without experiencing a blood sugar crash – and encouraged by my success the day before – I made the luscious pumpkin pie smoothie for breakfast yesterday but with one important difference – I added some homemade grain-free granola for crunch and pizzaz. 

An hour later – blood sugar crash.  In addition, I ended up feeling hungry ALL day no matter what I ate after the blood sugar crash and so I ended up grazing for the remainder of the day and into the night and still felt slightly off and less able to handle stress.

So what I bumped up against yesterday – big time – is what I like to call a carbohydrate threshold.  The seemingly innocent addition of grain-free granola, sweetened with raw honey, pushed me over my edge.   And when I exceed my carb threshold at breakfast I pay the price for the rest of the day. 

What I am learning is that my personal carbohydrate threshold is more sensitive in the morning than in the afternoon.  In the morning I do better when I eat a breakfast that has plenty of fat and protein.  A good breakfast stabilizes me for the rest of the day.  Then in the afternoon and evening I have found that I can get away with the addition of more carbs without deleterious effect.

Carbohydrate intolerance of any kind is a sign of insulin resistance.  The two go hand-in-hand.

Symptoms of Carbohydrate Intolerance:

  • Headache
  • Feeling of Weakness
  • Irritability and Unstable Mood
  • Inability to Focus
  • Weak Legs When Exercising
  • “Pins and Needles” in the arms at night
  • Weight Gain Around the Middle
  • Elevated Blood Pressure
  • Elevated Triglycerides
  • Craving For Sugar
  • PMS

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Real Food Adventures

I teach cooking classes periodically throughout the year, offering a wide range of choices and food styles from cooked food to raw.  Since I am not a proponent of the one-size-fits-all dietary approach - you will find an eclectic assortment of classes to reflect my philosophy.

I try to be sensitive to the needs of class attendees and classes will often reflect their preferences and requests.  Sometimes classes reflect what I am currently interested in. 

The most popular classes, to date, here in southern California have been my vegetarian cooking classes and raw food classes.  That being said, you may have noted that I write about a wide variety of food topics and food styles – and I don’t limit myself to vegan, vegetarian or raw food exclusively.

So, least you, the reader, become confused - let me take a moment to clarify and explain myself. 

I am not a proponent of any one particular food style or philosophy, nor, do I encourage those who attend my classes to become devotees to any one food style.  My goal is to show class attendees how to use and explore a variety of food styles and encourage them to develop an aptitude and taste for REAL FOOD.  Allowing for individual differences and metabolic uniqueness there really is a wide range of possibility to explore within a Real Food Framework.   REAL FOOD - traditionally grown and raised - IS the ultimate food adventure!

Monday, May 13, 2013

Pumpkin Pie Smoothie

We are in the midst of unbelievable hot weather all of a sudden here in southern California.  When I woke up this morning I knew I had better get out early if I wanted to hike.  I was on the trail by 6:30 and it was already heating up.

When I got back from the hike I was SUPER hot and SUPER hungry.

It seemed to me that a tall smoothie was in order.

I got the idea and concept for Pumpkin Pie Smoothie from a blog I discovered this weekend.

voogtrecipes.blogspot.com

Mary has used the Weston A. Price Foundation dietary information along with the GAPS diet to heal herself from major digestive problems, and infertility among other things.  Her blog is loaded with information and recipes that I am just beginning to explore.

I am pretty excited about this smoothie because I feel like I am just beginning to unlock the secret to making smoothies that work for me - smoothies that are nourishing and sustaining.

I seldom follow a recipe exactly - so here is what the smoothie I made this morning looked like:

Pumpkin Pie Smoothie

1 c. water
1/3 c. baked acorn squash left-over from dinner
1/2 avocado
1 whole backyard or pastured egg
1 T. coconut oil
dash of vanilla extract
dash of almond extract
1/4 t. pumpkin pie spice
green stevia to taste (I did not use 1 - 2 T raw honey - but will try it next time)

Blend everything until smooth and creamy.  Pour into a tall glass.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Smoothie Plus Greens

Those of you who follow my blog will remember that I have been searching for a smoothie that will keep me going until lunchtime.  I love the idea of making a smoothie for breakfast – what could be easier on a busy morning or more refreshing when the weather is hot, like it is right now, and you don’t want to cook? 

But, for some reason smoothies don’t keep me satisfied for very long.  I have tried a lot of different smoothies.  I have made them with berries, raw milk, raw milk kefir, coconut milk, young green coconut, almond milk, various green powders, whey powder, banana and bee pollen - and nothing seems to do the trick.  Each time I try a new smoothie– I end up looking for second breakfast in about an hour or two. 

Saturday morning I came VERY CLOSE to achieving my goal.  I actually had a smoothie with greens for breakfast.  The smoothie was delicious  – but I was SO WORRIED about whether it would hold me through the Vinyasa Flow class I taught that morning that I ate a side of steamed greens along with it – just to be on the safe side. 

So from a purist point of view I did not have just a smoothie for breakfast did I? 

Not only did the breakfast smoothie plus greens keep me going until lunchtime – it kept me going through an active yoga class too.  Now that is really putting a breakfast to the test!

Breakfast Smoothie

1 c. freshly made almond milk
2 whole backyard or pastured eggs
3/4 c. fresh organic strawberries
1/4 raw beet diced small
1/4 t. vanilla extract
1 dash cardamom
stevia to taste

Blend everything, except the eggs, until creamy and smooth.  Then swirl in the eggs.

The result is very similar to an eggnog - strawberry flavored - with spicy/floral notes.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

The Serendipitous Mulberry

Black Mulberries

Well, you might be tempted to think that "The Serendipitous Mulberry" is all premeditated - but it is not.  By fortuitous foraging instincts and good fortune, I got to thinking about mulberries yesterday and remembered a friend of mine named Julie who has a large black mulberry tree in her backyard.  I have not seen Julie in a long time.  I gave her a phone call - by coincidence another friend of mine just happened to send me her phone number in an email this week - and asked her if there was any chance that I could get some mulberries from her tree this year.  She said there was a very good chance and invited me over.

Her mulberry tree is a beautiful specimen, loaded with mulberries, in a backyard that has been designated as a wildlife sanctuary.  I thoroughly enjoyed standing in the dappled shade this afternoon, visiting with Julie, and picking mulberries until my fingers were stained purple.

As for the picking, mulberries are labor intensive, and I have about two cups for my efforts.  They are delicious mulberries and I am very happy to have them.

By-the-way, for those of you who enjoy food trivia, Julie, who is keen on proper plant nomenclature, informed me that mulberries are not a true berry - but a morus fruit.  

Friday, May 10, 2013

The Elusive Mulberry

I just realized, in retrospect, that I neglected to mention another favorite berry of mine in my post yesterday on berries.  Today I would like to introduce the often under-rated, perhaps even unknown, but, nevertheless, delicious, mulberry.  The mulberry, a fairly recent discovery of mine, can be eaten fresh or dried.  Dried mulberries, which are very sweet, by-the-way, can be easily purchased online.  Fresh mulberries, which have a juicy sweet-tart flavor, are a challenge to locate.

I was introduced to mulberries about 6 years ago when I discovered a package of dried Turkish white mulberries at a local health food store.  I knew that mulberries were reputed to be a fairly decent yin tonic in TCM.  I decided to buy them and give them a try.  I ended up adding them to trail mix.  I liked the pleasant crunchy butterscotch-like flavor so much that I bought a package of dried purple mulberries in no time.  Since then they have become a favorite snack food.  In fact, I snacked on some today.

Since the mulberry, a native of Asia, grows well here in southern California you would think that fresh mulberries would be fairly easy to locate.  They are not.  Unless, someone on your street happens to have a mulberry tree growing, which would be very convenient, locating fresh mulberries often takes serious foraging skills.  I love a challenge.

I have been on a couple of mulberry "wild goose chases", as the saying goes.  My best luck has been at farmer's markets.  So far I have discovered two fresh varieties, a dark purple and a white variety, on foraging trips to the Ojai farmer's markets.  Mulberries are highly seasonal.  In fact, they are in season now.  So if you see them - grab them while you can.

Health Benefits of Mulberries from a Traditional Chinese Medicine Perspective:

  • Cooling thermal nature
  • Sweet flavor
  • Builds Yin fluids and blood
  • Moistens the lungs
  • Strengthens the liver and kidneys
  • Treats wind conditions
  • Benefits fluid dryness

Health Benefits of Mulberries from a Western Perspective:
  • Mulberries have significantly high amounts of phenolic flavonoid phytochemicals called anthocyanins. Scientific studies have shown that consumption of berries have potential health effects against cancer, aging and neurological diseases, inflammation, diabetes, and bacterial infections.
  • Mulberries contain resveratrol, another polyphenol flavonoid antioxidant.
  • Mulberries are an excellent source of vitamin-C (36.4 mg per 100, about 61% of RDI).
  • Mulberries contain small amounts of vitamin A, vitamin E.
  • Zea-xanthin, an important dietary carotenoid selectively concentrates into the retinal macula lutea, where it thought to provide antioxidant functions and protects the retina from the harmful ultraviolet rays through light-filtering actions.
  • Mulberries are an excellent source of iron, which is a rare feature among berries, contain 1.85 mg/100 g of fruits (about 23% of RDI).

Thursday, May 9, 2013

The Acai Berry

I have a long standing love affair with berries of all sorts.  When I lived in the northwest for a few years, while finishing a degree in English literature, premier berry growing country I might add,  I was always on the look out for a new berry.  In my own backyard I grew gooseberries, purple huckleberries, red huckleberries, Tay berries (from Scotland), alpine strawberries, and blueberries along with a hedge of roses that produced a bumper crop of rose hips the size of cherry tomatoes.

I learned to forage too.  I knew exactly what time of year to go out looking for wild blackberries.  Blackberry season coincided with my daughter's birthday in mid-September and invariably her birthday cake would be decorated with the luscious hard-won delicacies.

When I travel to a new area I like to seek out farmer's markets.  The one item that I am most likely to pay more money for is - you guessed it - berries.  I am particularly susceptible to berries that I have not tried before.  On a trip to Salt Lake City I was delighted to find flats of black currants, red currants, white currants, red gooseberries, and the traditional green gooseberries.  I bought them all - and was in berry heaven.

My daughter and I like to forage together - perhaps a throw back from her childhood in Seattle - and we have sampled quite a number of elderberries along the way.  Sometimes we dry the berries and then cook them into a thick syrup to make medicine for the coming cold and flu season.  Sometimes we make fermented beverages from the berries and the flowers.  Sometimes we make jelly.

Now that I live further south I look forward to pomegranates in the autumn, and buy the rest of my berries either frozen or on occasion from local organic growers - strawberries, boysenberries, even blueberries, raspberries and the like are being cultivated here.

I like berries for breakfast.  I like berries in smoothies.  I like berries in jams and jellies.  I like berries on salads.  I like berries for dessert.

One thing I know for certain is I can't seem to get enough berry goodness.

Considering my enthusiasm for berries it surprises me that it has taken me so long to discover acai.

I certainly cannot forage for acai - nor will I find it at a local farmer's market.  Acai is a Brazilian Rainforest fruit that grows to be about the size of a grape.  Acai puree is sold here in the U.S in little frozen packets.

I found acai in the freezer section at Whole Foods market.

I have been throwing frozen acai packets into smoothies lately.  Today when I came home from the farmer's market with the first fresh strawberries of the season I decided to make a celebration acai bowl.   My celebration acai bowl contained a delicious assortment of berries - acai, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, and cherries - topped with freshly made grain-free granola.  It was heavenly.

Health benefits of acai berry

  • Acai berry, like most berries, has very good levels of anti-oxidants, minerals, and vitamins that have health benefiting and disease preventing properties.
  • Unlike other berries and fruits, acai has high caloric values and fats. In fact, fresh acai berry has been the dietary staple of native Amazonian for centuries.
  • Acai berry contains many polyphenolic anthocyanin compounds like resveratrol, cyanidin-3-galactoside, ferulic acid, delphinidin, petunidin as well as astringent pro-anthocyanidin tannins like epicatechin, protocatechuic acid and ellagic acid. Scientific studies suggest that these compounds contain anti-aging, anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer properties . In addition, tannins are known to have anti-infective, anti-inflammatory and anti-hemorrhagic properties.
  • Primary research studies suggest that ellagic acid in acai has anti-proliferative properties.
  • Acai berry is also rich in medium chain fatty acids like oleic acid (omega-9) and linoleic acid (omega-6). These compounds help reduce LDL-cholesterol level and raise good HDL-cholesterol levels in the body and thus help prevent heart disease. In addition, the essential fats help prevent skin dryness by maintaining adequate moisture in the skin.
  • Acai pulp has good levels of dietary fiber.
  • Acai berries contain a good amount of minerals like potassium, manganese, copper, iron, and magnesium.
  • Acai are rich in B-complex vitamins and vitamin-K. They contain very good amounts of niacin, vitamin B-6 and riboflavin which function as co-factors and help the body in the metabolism of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Macro-Nutrient Ratios

What is the perfect diet?  I have only three simple recommendations.

1 - Choose Local Food - as much as possible because it is fresh, seasonal and tastes better.

2 - Choose Real Food - real food that is traditionally grown and raised is more nourishing.

3 - Ancestral Eating - your body readily digests and assimilates what your ancestors ate.

Though I am fairly convinced that we all thrive on REAL FOOD - it is unlikely that one diet will perfectly fit everyone's individual needs.   I DO think it is important, within a REAL FOOD framework, to make macro-nutrient adjustments and individualize the diet so that it best supports your unique needs.  This usually takes a fair amount of experimentation.

For instance, I have found that if I eat fruit in the morning I generally have a blood sugar crash fairly soon.  However, if I eat the same fruit in the afternoon my energy remains stable.  This is very useful information to have as it affects the quality of my life on a daily basis.

Some people thrive on super cleansing diets such as vegan or raw vegan.  Others seem to need more nourishment, more building and restorative foods.
Macro-nutrient ratios are a fascinating subject because each of us is unique.  How much protein, carbohydrate, and healthy fats do you need in order to thrive?  What are the ratios that are just right for you?

I am still in a quandary about what is right for me.

I am convinced that about every decade or so I need to take inventory and make adjustments in my diet.  What I ate in my 20's and 30's is not what I eat today.  Yet, I was as concerned about eating healthy organic food back then as I am now.  The difference is that as I change or my condition and environment change -  my diet reflects that.

For instance, when I lived in a foreign country in the desert, where temperatures were seldom below 90 degrees, the local foods were different than what is available here in coastal California.

When it is winter my diet favors slow cooked stews, root vegetables, and warming foods.  In the summer I enjoy more fresh salads, juices, and fresh fruits.

In my 20's and 30's I ate a lot more fruit and grains than I do now because my body handled carbohydrate more efficiently back then.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Tuna Salad

Directions

  1. Put onions, 1/4 cup oil, vinegar, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a medium bowl; season with pepper. Toss to combine. Let stand 10 minutes.
  2. Add tuna and its oil to onion mixture. Add lemon juice and 1/4 teaspoon salt; season with pepper. Gently toss to combine.
  3. Fill lettuce leaves with tuna mixture and top with olives, eggs, and tuna mixture, dividing evenly. Drizzle each with 1 teaspoon olive oil. Serve with lemon wedges.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Acai And A Smoothie In A Bowl

Previously all I knew about Acai is that it was my son Brett's very favorite fruit in Brazil.  When ever Brett comes for a visit I make certain that I have plenty of little frozen acai packets on hand in the freezer.  He uses them to make smoothies.  When he is not here the frozen packets just sit there, rather forlorn and unappreciated, waiting for him to return again. 

Until this past month - when I began to spread my breakfast wings a bit and decided on the spur of the moment to toss one of those frozen purple packets into one of my smoothie concoctions.  I liked it.  It was delightful and SO VERY PURPLE!

I liked it so well that I decided to feature an acai smoothie at my latest Raw Food Class Friday night.

Right now I have a lot of fruity - delicious stuff on hand, like frozen acai packets, blueberries, banana, grain-free granola, almond milk, and strawberries,  all left-over from the raw breakfast food class.

Wondering what to do with all this deliciousness - besides making smoothies - I was delighted to come across what sounds like an amazing hybrid between a smoothie and a breakfast bowl, in fact, it sounds like a smoothie in a bowl with crunchies on top, and featuring, among other things, frozen acai, and just about every other thing I have on hand. 

Voila!

THE ACAI BOWL

Ingredients:
  • 1 Frozen Packet of Unsweetened Açai Purée
  • 1 Medium Banana
  • 1/2 Cup Strawberries
  • 1/4 Cup Wild Blueberries
  • 2 to 4 Tablespoons of raw almond Milk
  • 6 Strawberries diced
  • A Handfull of berries (any assortment you’d like)
  • 1/2 Cup of Gluten Free Granola
  • 1 Tbsp Hemp Seeds
  • 2 Tbsp Raw Walnuts
While açai is still in packet, break the frozen purée into pieces. This will help the blending process. In a small blender, combine açai, medium banana, 1/2 cup of strawberries, wild blueberries with almond milk. Make sure to add as little almond milk as possible. You want the consistency of the açai blend to be as thick and creamy as possible. Once blended pour contents into a bowl. Top with granola, berries, hemp seeds, and walnuts.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

When A Smoothie Is Not Just For Breakfast

Friday's Class on Raw Food Breakfasts has completely re-inspired me to continue my experiment with alternative breakfast food.

For those of you who find yourself in a breakfast rut have you ever considered a raw food breakfast for a change?

Here are some of the offerings that we prepared friday night.

Antioxidant Slushi
with cherries, beets, apple, ginger

Grain-Free Granola
with cinnamon, dry cranberries, raisins, almond milk

Coconut Smoothie
with spirulina and calimyrna fig

Coconut Pecan Porridge
with sliced strawberrries

Almond Milk Smoothie
with acai and blueberries
 
I know what you are thinking - there are an awful lot of smoothies on the menu  - and aren't I the one (yes - self-confessed) that would be better off avoiding smoothies at breakfast all together - unless I have nothing better to do than have second breakfast that day?

Irregardless of my track record with seemingly all smoothie concoctions at breakfast time I have never completely given up hope that I will one day find a smoothie that will completely satisfy me and hold me until lunch time.

Meanwhile - who says that smoothies are only for breakfast?  I have found that a smoothie snack in between meals is delicious and satisfying.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Raw Food - How To

Those of you who have read some of my recent cautions regarding raw foods, from a traditional Chinese perspective, will be interested to hear how much I enjoy teaching about some of the important benefits of raw foods.  In my raw food classes, last night being no exception,  I show attendees how to prepare and use raw foods appropriately and healthfully.

When I teach a raw food class  - and especially knowing that the raw food movement has it zealots - in fact seems to attract zealots - I like to take a moderate approach and teach the attendees how to incorporate some of the vibrancy and freshness of raw food and raw food energy into their regular cooked food diet.

It does not matter how nutritious a food is if you can not digest or assimilate it.  Since the nutritional benefit of munching raw kale, for instance, is highly debatable,  I like to show class attendees how to prepare raw food, even kale, so that the nutrients are unlocked, become more bio-available, and most importantly are digested and assimilated easily.

Last night's raw food class was another great raw food experience.  While last weeks class focused on green food - last night, we focused on bright red and purple antioxidant rich foods such as beets, acai, cherries, strawberries, cranberries, and blueberries.  Coconut Porridge and Grain-Free Granola took top billing by-the-way.

Cloudy With A Chance Of Rain - What Does It Mean?

WHAT IS A DAMP CONDITION

Least you mistakenly suppose I am referring to a weather condition, for those of you who did not read my last post, I have begun referring to my recently diagnosed damp condition as "cloudy with a chance of rain."

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, though each case is diagnosed and treated individually, as I read further on the subject of dampness I find that there are any number of common contributing factors.

One of the reasons that it is important to treat conditions of dampness in the early stages, when it is easily resolved by lifestyle modification, is to prevent the more serious diseases, cancer, MS, RA, chronic fatigue, to name a few, associated with deep-seated damp conditions, from occuring.

SYMPTOMS

Dampness creates certain signs and signals in the body that are important to pay attention to.  Dampness creates symptoms of sluggishness and stagnation.  The person with a damp condition is easily tired and feels heaviness in the body.  Symptoms of dampness include weak or sluggish digestion, edema, excess mucus, tumors, cysts, parasites, yeasts such as candida, fungi, excess body weight and a thick and/or greasy tongue coating.

TREATMENTS

In the early stages a condition of dampness is easily treated with diet and specific herbs.  Along with proper dietary measures - exercise is helpful in resolving conditions of stagnation and dampness in the body.  Paul Pitchford uses the analogy of a damp cloth that does not mold if it is hung out in the circulating air.  So too, our bodies benefit from the movement and circulation of regular exercise.

DIETARY FACTORS

Aren't there ALWAYS dietary factors in a health condition?

1 - Too much raw food such as raw fruits, vegetables, sprouts, and juices - which according to TCM extinguish the digestive fire - in fact, anything that extinguishes digestive fire - will lead to a watery dampness in the body.

2 - Foods that are highly sweet will contribute to damp conditions - such as those that suffer with candida.

3 - Poor quality fats and oils contribute to a condition of dampness - particularly an excess of poor quality dairy products.

4 - Foods that are refined and highly processed, stale, rancid, or chemically treated will contribute to a damp condition.  Just as an aside these are the foods that, in Ayurveda, another ancient healing system, are considered Tamasic.

NOTE ON RAW FOODS

Excepting items 2, 3, and 4 and poor quality foods in general, it is always important to remember that there are times, when raw food is appropriate - and that it is not always pathogenic.

For instance, a person who is robust and overheated will benefit from eating more raw food.  Raw food will help bring balance to their tendency and condition.  Nearly everyone finds some raw food and raw salad refreshing and appealing during the summer months.

In TCM the ideal diet will change as the individual condition changes - and the diet will change with the seasons or time of the year.  In TCM there are seldom one-size-fit all dietary guidelines, or even prohibited foods for that matter, again I am excepting GM foods, refined or highly processed foods or the plethora of faux foods to be found out there.  In TCM it is all about making balance and using food creatively and appropriately to maintain that gloriously dynamic, not static, and ever changing state of equilibrium - called HEALTH.  

Friday, May 3, 2013

Cloudy With A Chance Of Rain - Going Against The Grain

As many of you who follow my blog know - Dr. Pendleberry, my Doctor of Oriental medicine - is currently treating me for a damp condition.  What I humorously refer to as "cloudy with a chance of rain." When Dr. Pendleberry refers to my damp condition he is not talking about the weather here in Southern California or the vagaries of the external environment that we are all subject to -  instead, he is referring to an internal disequilibrium or disharmony which in TCM is called dampness.   Interestingly the appellation for the internal condition in TCM - wind, heat, cold, dry, damp and summer heat - all sound similar to weather conditions.

In Chinese Medicine, internal dampness is reputed to lead to conditions such as high cholesterol, cancer, cysts, tumors, chronic fatigue syndrome, allergies, and environmental illness.  If a damp condition is cleared up - all damp excesses such as water retention, excess weight, cysts, tumors, and yeasts such as candida are eliminated.   In TCM there is always an interested emotional component to healing.  In the case of damp conditions - the corresponding emotions of anxiety and worry would also be resolved.

To treat my damp condition Dr. Pendleberry has recommends a two prong approach - herbs and dietary modification.

The diet that he recommends for my condition includes high quality protein, high quality fat, and vegetables.  In case you did not notice - these dietary recommendations are conspicuously dairy and grain-free.  Dr. Pendleberry said both dairy and grain consumption lead to dampness - perhaps that is  how I got here in the first place?

Dr. Pendleberry said there are essential fatty acids and essential amino acids in human nutrition - but there are no essential carbohydrates.  That is strong medicine for someone like me to hear.

I momentarily dug into Paul Pitchford's tome "Healing With Whole Foods" to get a grasp of foods recommended for treating a damp condition and found the foods that help dry dampness are often bitter and/or aromatic.  Foods such as dandelion, romaine lettuce, celery, turnip, pumpkin and chamomile all help dry dampness.

Just as an aside - while surfing the web - I came across some thought provoking information on grains and CFS.

In Bill Giles book ‘No More Chronic Fatigue’ he states

“Many health professionals are unaware of the defense chemicals in grains called lectin proteins, which can cause disruption  to our immune systems.  Plant physiologists say that lectins are involved with plant defense against viruses bacteria, fungi and sometimes to animals that eats them (including humans).  When people eat grains, their immune systems are challenged and, if chronically ill, they will have poorer than normal ability of recovering their normal immune strength and good health if they continue to eat grain foods.” 

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Stir-Fry On The Fly

The vegetable bins were fairly depleted this morning - as today is my designated shopping day.  When the vegetable bins are depleted and you are me - the great vegetable breakfast eater -  what do you do?

I scrounged around and found an odd assortment of things - some fresh ginger, some organic romaine lettuce just beginning to wilt, and one chive blossom harvested from the terracotta pot on my deck.

That did not stop me.

I sauteed the ginger in coconut oil until fragrant - then stirred in rough cut romaine and swirled it around until nice and wilted but still retaining some of the crunch.  I removed the stir-fry from the heat - and quickly mixed in a sauce of gluten-free tamari, rice wine, and coconut sugar.

I served my improvisational stir-fry in a favorite porcelain bowl with tiny purple chive blossoms sprinkled on top. along with a small piece of fish left over from yesterday.

Voila!  Breakfast.

So perhaps necessity really is the mother of invention.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Awesome Breakfast Food Class

I can't believe it is Tuesday.  I am already beginning to gear up for my next class.

Here is the breakfast food menu I will be teaching on Friday:

Antioxidant Slushi with Berry Combinations
Almond Mylk
Grain-Free Granola
Coconut Smoothie
Coconut Porridge With Berries
Almond Mylk Smoothie

Today I planned the menu and organized the recipes.

Wednesday I will soak the nuts and seeds.

Thursday I will dehydrate the granola and crackers.

Friday is the class!!!

All menus are grain-free, gluten-free, dairy-free - Organic and made with Love.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Creative Kale

It is always exciting to hear back from class attendees and find out that they are enjoying the recipes and making them at home for their families.

That is awesome!

That is the BEST compliment I can get!

I always encourage attendees to be creative with the recipes - use them as a template - and experiment with them - have fun with them.

The kale salad that I prepared has been folded into rice pasta for robust and garlic-y pasta salad.

The creamy kale slaw that I prepared has been served with tortilla chips and salsa.

The marinated collard greens have been served on top of steamed vegetables and swirled into a bowl of miso soup.