Posts Tagged ‘Health’

Raw Food Diet

English: A close up of a fresh raw food dish

English: A close up of a fresh raw food dish (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I recently attended a raw food cooking class. A raw food diet is just what it says – food that is eaten raw or heated to no more than 115 degrees. According to raw food experts, the advantages are that raw food contains beneficial live enzymes that make it more digestible and that it has a higher vitamin and nutrient content.   Heating or cooking chemically alters food causing it to lose its ability to provide energy.  Cooking also destroys certain vitamins. A raw food diet can cleanse and heal. The raw food diet as a health treatment was first developed in Switzerland in 1897 by Dr. Maximillian Bircher-Benner, the inventor of muesli, after he recovered from jaundice by eating raw apples.  His health center is still in operation today.

In summer when fruits and vegetables are abundant, preparing seasonal, local, raw food is easy. A strict raw food diet year round however, is more involved and does not include any processed foods.  To make crackers, breads and other “baked” goods can be time consuming and requires advance planning.  Blenders, food processors, juicers and dehydrators are all needed equipment.  Sprouting and soaking are necessary to eat grains, legumes and nuts.  Nuts are a large part of the raw food diet and are used to make cheeses, crackers, breads and soups.

What appealed to me about the class was its emphasis on creating warming uncooked meals.  We learned simple tips like bringing all food to room temperature for a couple of hours before preparation and using lots of warming spices like cumin, curry and nutmeg.  Our meal started with a delicious raw butternut and green apple soup, followed by zucchini chive canapés, a zucchini slice smeared with chive cream cheese made from cashews – even better than “real” cream cheese! For dinner we made a Brussels sprout and pumpkin seed slaw, a wild rice and chickpea salad, kale and shallot pizzettes with 3 kinds of cheese (again, cashew based; the crust was made from flax seeds and vegetables “baked” in a dehydrator) and a fresh fig and lemon tart for dessert.  The dinner was fabulous and you never would have known it was uncooked!

I could never be an extreme “raw foodie”, but I do love experimenting with new and healthy cuisine.  I read somewhere to make 50% of your diet raw, so challenge yourself and give it a try. Below is a simple recipe for Cashew Parmesan cheese that rivals the real thing!  Email me for more recipes…

½ cup dry cashews

1 clove garlic (chopped)

¼ teaspoon sea salt (coarse)

Grind cashews and sea salt in food processor (with ‘s’ blade) until fine, almost powdery.  Add garlic and pulse food processor until texture resembles Parmesan.  Use on everything!

Information compiled from The Raw Truth, The Art of Loving Foods, by Jeremy A Safron and Renée Underkoffler,  http://en.wikipedia.org/, onesmallpatch.com.

Treat Your Mild Seasonal Allergies Naturally!

Allergy starter

Allergy starter (Photo credit: gibsonsgolfer)

A reader recently asked me about managing seasonal allergies naturally, a timely issue that affects so many of us as we head into fall.

First of all, know your triggers and do your best to avoid them. For example, if your problem is ragweed or pollen, then stay inside as much as possible during pollen season.  Or, if you know certain foods provoke a reaction, obviously stay away from those foods. Often you don’t know what triggers an allergy, so it’s best to consult a doctor, allergy specialist, or homeopathic physician.  For mild seasonal allergies however, there are nature-based products and certain foods that are effective in relieving those annoying symptoms.

Goldenseal and grape seed extract, which is found in red wine, have been found to reduce seasonal allergy symptoms, especially when combined with Vitamin C.  Quercetin, a flavanoid compound found in capers, apples, red grapes, citrus, broccoli and green leafy vegetables has also proven to help relieve allergy symptoms. Nettle has a long history of treating seasonal allergies too.  All of these come in supplement or tea form as well and can be found at natural food stores.

Don’t be afraid to indulge in spicy foods during allergy season!  Common spices like cayenne pepper, hot ginger, onion, and garlic have shown to be effective in symptom relief.  Spicy dishes are more likely to thin mucous secretions, which can clear nasal passages making it easier to breathe.  Cayenne is also loaded with natural anti-oxidants and garlic is a highly beneficial immune system booster.

With regular use bee pollen is showing promise to help the immune system rid itself of seasonal allergy symptoms. It can trigger an allergic reaction however, in some individuals who have sensitivity to bee stings, honey intolerance or severe allergic reactions to plant pollens.  As always, it’s best to check with your doctor before using.

Saline sprays or neti pots are helpful in flushing out dirt, pollen, dust and other irritants.  Some people find relief with acupuncture, which seems particularly useful if someone suffers from multiple allergies.

The above natural treatments are more effective if you increase your intake of allergy fighting foods and supplements three weeks before allergy season starts.  With supplements, follow the label and don’t take too much – even natural products can cause toxic reactions if not used properly.  And never mix conventional medications with alternative treatments without first consulting a doctor.

Information compiled from http://www.eHow.com; www.wedmd.com;  www.healingwell.com; www.livestrong.com and http://www.bee-pollen-buzz.com.


 

 

Earth Month Quote

The Earth seen from Apollo 17.

The Earth seen from Apollo 17. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The earth is what we all have in common.

Wendell Berry – novelist, poet, farmer and social activist

Whatever your race, religion, nationality, background, political affiliation or sexual orientation, we all inhabit the same earth and we must all take care of it. It’s simple really – what’s good for the earth is good for you and what’s good for you is good for the earth.

April is Earth Month and April 22 is Earth Day – think about the green things you do everyday and add one more.  Read through my blog for ideas:

CATEGORIES

Simple steps make a difference………….

OVERUSE OF PRESCRIPTION PILLS

Medicine Drug Pills on Plate

Medicine Drug Pills on Plate (Photo credit: epSos.de)

Most of us probably know someone whose life is negatively affected by the overuse of prescription drugs.  Take a moment to look at this important and powerful graphic.  It’s time to get real about the misuse of pills.

BE HEALTHY!

Fresh vegetables are important components of a...

Image via Wikipedia

I’m a firm believer in learning from other people’s expertise, experiences, wisdom and even well founded opinions.  This weekend I attended Be Healthy Boston, a 2-day urban wellness retreat with keynote sessions and workshops.   It was fabulous! Renowned doctors, naturopaths, nutritionists, physical therapists, psychologists, architects, designers, chefs, musicians, yoga instructors and green living experts, shared their knowledge with eager people who wanted a healthier lifestyle. I’d like to share some of this knowledge with you.

One main message was empowerment.  The resources to manage your own health and well-being are plentiful – we are lucky in the Boston area to have access to so many health care professionals of all levels – and there is no lack of information on the Internet.

One session that I especially enjoyed was “Food as Medicine” given by Dr. Mark Mincolla, a nutritional and natural health therapist who has transformed the lives of thousands of patients over the past 30 years.  He spoke extensively about inflammation, the root of many diseases including cancer, heart disease, diabetes, allergies, autoimmune diseases, arthritis, and others, and how we can control chronic inflammation through diet, exercise and stress reduction.   Dr. Mincolla suggests trying an anti-inflammatory diet for three weeks (give yourself a break on the weekends if it seems impossible) just to see if you feel any difference, which consists of:  fatty fish like salmon, vegetables, fruits, legumes, brown rice (whole grains), olive oil, soy, tofu, walnuts, pumpkin seeds and yeast-free bread.  Eliminate inflammatory foods such as dairy, wheat, egg yolks, fatty red meats, sugar and alcohol. The anti-inflammatory foods, high in Omega-3 essential fatty acids, are an extremely important part of disease prevention and overall health. I urge you to read more about inflammation or visit his website maxhealing.com to better understand the inflammation/disease connection.  Check out his NECN program called “You Are What You Eat”.

I have long been an advocate of prevention and maintaining a healthy immune system through diet, especially in this time of virulent and unusual germs and viruses.  It’s exciting the medical community, the media and programs such as Be Healthy Boston focus on taking charge of your own life and embracing wellness.  As Dr. Mincolla says, “the best medicine is the medicine you will never need to take.”

An irony of all ironies – I picked up a flu bug from the Be Healthy Boston retreat!  Life is funny….

Some information compile from “Food is Medicine” by Dr. Mark Mincolla.

 

 

GREEN QUESTIONS FROM READERS

Plastic wrap on top of a vessel.

Image via Wikipedia

Some of my readers emailed me with questions, which hopefully will be pertinent to you too.

Question:  Several of my colleagues microwave their lunches with plastic wrap.  I’ve heard this isn’t a good idea, but these people are intelligent professionals.  What do you think?

Answer: Intelligence doesn’t have anything to do with it.  It’s a matter of being informed.  Both the plastics industry and government health industries maintain that plastic wrap is safe to use, though consumer and environmental groups say otherwise.  Some plastic wraps could contain PVC or other chlorinated substances that can release dioxin, a known toxin and health hazard.  Saran Wrap has been reformulated to remove PVC and I imagine others have too.  But, who knows what’s in the new compounds? I always err on the side of caution and prefer to cover the food with a paper towel (unbleached) or natural wax paper. I also use glass microwave containers instead of plastic.  It is always important to use cookware specially manufactured for microwave use, and if you do cover with plastic wrap, the plastic should not touch the food.  Otherwise it could melt on your food.  You don’t want that!

Question:  I am a textile artist and wonder what to do with my leftover fabric scraps.

Many Ukrainian Christmas decorations are home ...

Image via Wikipedia

Also, how do I recycle wood and cardboard with paint on it?  Good for you for not throwing them away!  Every seamstress has the same problem I imagine.  One obvious solution is to reuse them for other projects such as fabric flower cards, bookmarks, pillowcases, beanbags, or gift-wrap.  There are endless suggestions online.  But you could also donate them to a preschool, kindergarten or arts school for their craft projects or contact a sewing shop to see if anyone needs fabric scraps for quilting, for example.  What about putting a notice on craigslist for an artist who might want fabric scarps? As far as recycling wood and cardboard with paint on them, it’s not a good idea to recycle painted wood.  Recycled wood is usually used for fuel or chipped for mulch.  Either way you wouldn’t want the paint toxins leaching into the soil or the air.  You can dispose of wood with latex or water-based paint in your trash, but wood with lead or oil based paints should be taken to hazardous waste collection.

Readers, send me your questions!  I’d love to answer them.

 

Information compiled from:

http://www.health.harvard.edu/fhg/updates/update0706a.shtml

http://www.fsis.usda.gov/factsheets/cooking_safely_in_the_microwave/index.asp#3; http://urbanlegends.about.com/library/

NUTS, SO MUCH MORE THAN A TASTY TREAT!

Brazil nuts come from a South American tree

Image via Wikipedia

Nuts are another amazing food that are not only good for snacking and baking, but actually help prevent many of the lifestyle diseases today that affect so many people.  Researchers are convinced that nuts – almonds, walnuts, cashews, Brazil nuts, pistachios, pecans, pine nuts, peanuts – are extremely beneficial to our health!  Ancient civilizations valued nuts as a source of energy; they were also available all year-long since they stored easily.  Nuts are a source of the  “good” fats in the much-touted healthy Mediterranean diet as well.  They are loaded with protein, fiber,  essential fatty acids, vitamins and minerals.  Nuts are portable, filling and keep you from eating more fattening and less healthy food.

Nuts contain compounds that help prevent heart disease by keeping the arteries open and blood flowing. They help improve the health of the artery lining as well.  They contain monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats that can help lower total cholesterol (as opposed to saturated fats which have the opposite effect).   They are high in Vitamin E, which also helps to prevent cholesterol from sticking to the artery walls and some nuts contain plant sterols, a cholesterol lowering substance.  These same compounds can help prevent gallstones too.

Nuts are beneficial in cancer prevention.  They are rich in antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids, which help fight free radicals.  Studies from Purdue University have also shown that the Vitamin E in walnuts and pecans kills certain cancer cells. The omega-3 in nuts also helps with memory loss and developing neuron-transmitters for brain function. Interesting how a walnut even looks like a brain!

Despite all the health benefits of nuts, recent studies have shown that only 5.5% of adults from age 19 – 50 consume them.  Perhaps it’s because nuts have a reputation for being fattening, which they can be, but not if you limit your intake to one ounce, or about a handful a day.  And some people do have nut allergies.

In a “nutshell” (I couldn’t resist), however, these nutritious treats are an invaluable part of your daily diet.

 

Information compiled from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/nuts/HB00085,http://whfoods.org/ and The Doctor’s Book of Food Remedies, by Selene Yeager and the Editors of Prevention.