11 August, 2010

Mint, Ginger, Pear Smoothie

Our friend has a couple pear trees, so we had an abundance of pears. They are also our brain injured son's favorite fruit. So we put this smoothie together. It was a treat on a hot summer day.

We used peppermint (very cooling), but you can try spearmint or a combination of the two.

Place in Vitamix in the following order:

1 cup water
2 soft pears, cored and cut into half inch cubes
3 Tablespoons dried peppermint or spearmint (or a handful of fresh mint
1 Tablespoon fresh ginger (or 1/2 teaspoon dried ginger)
1 teaspoon dulse
2 handfuls of organic baby spinach
1 Tablespoon flax seed

Start blending on low, increasing the speed gradually to about 7. Blend until smooth.

06 August, 2010

What does America Eat?


The average American consumes 1,996.3 pounds of food in a year - almost five and a half pounds each day. Another source pegs this at over 3500 calories a day. We certainly are well fed people.

Dairy products top the list of what we consume, at 631.7 pounds. 181 pounds of that is 'milk beverages'. When we milked our goats, we figured a gallon of milk weighs ten pounds. So, the average American drinks not quite one and a half quarts of milk (beverages) each week - a third of soda consumption. Cheese is broken out separately on the chart. The 31.4 pounds of cheese a year comes to almost a pound and two thirds a week. The chart does not say, but one wonders how much of that is 'cheese food' or the fake cheese that often comes with fast food. Also, Americans eat, on average, 24 pounds of ice cream per year or about a half gallon every week. Do you think that we eat a lot more in the summer than at other times of the year?

The next most consumed foods on this list look like good news - vegetables total 415.4 pounds per year. At a little over a pound of veggies a day, it looks like we are beginning to listen to those who promote the '5 a day' campaign. Yet, we still have a long way to go.

Unfortunately, 56 pounds of our vegetable choice is corn, which is one of the most heavily genetically modified (GMO) foods on the market. Since labeling of GMO is not required, especially for ingredients in prepared foods, we have no way of knowing whether we are eating GMO corn or not when these foods are on our menu. Corn is also notoriously hard to digest and a leading cause of food allergies.

Americans also eat 29 pounds of French Fries -- about three quarters of a pound each week or not quite 3 biggie fries orders. We could go on and on about the dangers of eating French Fries frequently (every two or three days by this chart). One thing that is overlooked it that potatoes are at the top of the 'dirty dozen' most heavily pesticide laden foods on the market. Couple that with deep frying at high temperatures and it looks like a recipe for health disaster. Maybe you want to focus on the 'Clean 15' if we do not want to fork out the bucks for organic. Better yet, let's support organic growers and suppliers so that we show them that we want safe, nutritious foods.

Fruits come in third at 273.2 pounds (3/4 of a pound a day - maybe an organic apple, to keep the doctor away?). Again this sounds like we might be headed in the right direction. These are not broken down by type, however. Many of those which are most available -- apples, peaches, imported grapes, strawberries, domestic cherries, and nectarines -- are on the 'Dirty Dozen' list. Once again, it may be worth it for your health to switch to the 'Clean 15' or make the commitment to buying organic. Imagine the impact it would make if you buy one organic fruit a day.

Animal protein foods are next, adding up to 232.4 pounds -- about a quarter pound per meal. Most authorities agree that a quarter pound is a reasonable serving of animal protein. Much controversy surrounds the chemical contamination of these foods as well.

We certainly indulge our sweet tooth. 165.6 pounds of caloric and artificial sweeteners are consumed by the average American each year. That is eight percent of food consumption. Perhaps the 53 gallons of sodas account for a good bit of this consumption - along with much of the caffeine. Most sweeteners are devoid of nutrients and sodas can be faulted in the same manner. In order to be metabolized, they use up valuable resources in the body. Artificial sweeteners carry much darker dangers. Thus, they become anti-nutrients. It would seem that substituting some fruit to satisfy the sweet tooth could make a big impact on a person's health. Half a pound of fruit - maybe a banana or a kiwi - is also much more satisfying to the brain, the palate, and the tummy than this anti-food.

World agriculture produces enough food calories to meet the energy needs of all the nearly 6 billion people alive today. Global agriculture keeps pace with population growth. Nevertheless, during any year in which enough calories are produced on a global level to meet the energy requirements of the entire population, food shortages can still occur under two situations: If the patterning of production directs too many calories into animals instead of humans, some enjoy meat while others lack calories; Alternatively, overemphasis on production of calories (sugar producing crops and overly refined grains) may jeopardize the production of other protein- or micronutrient- rich foods that also enter into the calculus of global food security or shortage.

The numbers of people potentially supported by the global food supply depend heavily on the kind of diet people consume. The World Hunger Program calculates that global food supplies have been more than adequate, since the mid-1970s, to support the world's population on a vegetarian diet. But they would support only 74 per cent of the 1993 population on a diet where 15 per cent of calories come from animal foods. Only 56 per cent of the 1993 world population could have been provided with diets where 25 per cent of calories came from animal foods. Increased demand for meat is a particular concern, since livestock conversions, usually calculated in terms of food energy grain-to-livestock ratios, are high. In a feedlot, it takes two kilos (kilograms) of grain to produce one kilo of chicken or fish, four kilos to produce one kilo of pork, and seven to produce one kilo of beef. In the 1990s, it was calculated that some 4.3 billion large domesticated animals and 17 billion poultry ate 40 per cent of the world's grain supply.

If we add together the meat and milk products (864.1 pounds) in the American diet, we find that 43.3 percent of the American diet comes from animal products. This does not take into account butter and lard, from the oils category. The chart does not compare calories, but certainly, Americans consume much more than their fair share of food in general, but particularly foods from animal sources. Study after study shows that diets high in vegetable content foster healthier, longer lived peoples.

As you plan next week's menus, think about altering some of your food choices. Take into account the benefits to both your health, and the world's economy. Here is a handy tool to help you make better choices about your exposure to toxic chemicals.

A Secret Method to Wipe Out Your Headache

A colon massage is a way to rub down your abdomen to stimulate the activity of the colon, getting things moving again. It can energize the muscular, wave-like contractions of the intestines (peristalsis) to move their contents along during digestion and, eventually send the waste products out the rectum. You can find relief from constipation; headaches; flatulence; bloating; and even fatigue. Another secret I will share with you is that by combining this method with therapeutic grade essential oils, you increase its effectiveness many-fold.

You can even teach your children to do a colon massage for themselves

You already know that over eating, or eating the wrong foods, can cause tummy aches, diarrhea, or constipation. Your food choices can also cause headaches. For example, eating too much salt and animal products could give you a squeezing, vise-like pain in the back of your head. A frontal headache can be caused by overindulging in sugar, chocolate, alcohol, or fruit juice. Side head pain can be caused by taking excessively greasy or oily food. Food additives, like MSG can cause pain at the top of your head. So, the next time you are stuck in the throes of a pounding headache, give yourself a colon massage using Essential Oils. See how quickly you find relief.

Let’s start with a quick review from your high school anatomy class. I know, you thought it was soooo boring, and you would never, ever use the information the rest of your life. Surprise! Here’s where that knowledge will come in handy.

The colon begins where the small intestine ends - on the lower right side of the abdomen. It proceeds upward to the bottom of the rib cage. Crossing the stomach, it stretches to the left side of your abdomen. For those of us who are older, or a little pudgy, the colon may droop in the middle. A longer portion of the colon drapes down the left side, connecting to the rectum, deep in the center of your body.

Begin by laying down on a flat surface – preferably on a bed or the floor. Bend your knees.

Apply a few drops of peppermint, fennel/anise, tarragon, diluted ginger, Release, Di-Gize, or even one of the citrus oils. All are excellent for digestive issues. If the essential oils are too intense, just rub a small amount of unscented vegetable oil (olive, sesame, almond, or coconut oil ) on top of the essential oil. You can also mix a drop or two of the essential oil with a teaspoon of the carrier oil.

With a closed fist or the tips of your fingers, begin massaging on the lower right side of the abdomen in small circles. Work up along the right side. Continue massaging across, a little under the rib cage. Then proceed to rub, in your circles, down the left side. Follow the path of the large intestine.

Take your time. There is no reason to rush. Massage at least 1-2 minutes before moving to the next area. Pressure can be applied during the massage. How much pressure depends on the tolerance level of each individual. Usually you will find an area that is exceptionally tender or downright painful. This is the area where you want to concentrate your massage. Start with a more gentle pressure, but stay with it until you can get in there and massage with conviction. More than likely, your headache originates from that very spot.

Continue massaging until you feel your headache dissipating or your abdomen feels soft and squishy and the tender spots are not quite so tender. I like to do at least 3-4 complete passes over the large intestine followed with gently kneading the center of my abdomen, to give the small intestine some encouragement. You might find that you will release gas or you may have to use the bathroom. Both of these are good signs.

I prefer to perform my own colon massages. You, on the other hand, might choose for someone else to do the massaging. The technique is still the same. Up the right side, across and down the left. If you do have someone available who can do foot reflexology, complete your session with them working on your large intestine vita-flex points in the same direction and using the same essential oils.

Colon massages can help to ease colic in babies and soothe digestive upset or headaches in children. Be sure to dilute the essential oil 50:50 before applying to their sensitive skin. For newborns, just massage lightly in a clockwise direction without the essential oils, opting to put the peppermint or Di-Gize on the bottoms of their feet instead.

Next time you have a headache, or feel bloated and gassy, Take a break and treat yourself to a colon massage with the extra added boost of essential oils. You may well find renewed energy to get on with your day.

26 July, 2010

Kitchari: Real Comfort Food

Kitchari (pronounced kitch-a-ree) means mixture, usually of two grains. It is a staple comfort food of India, tasting like a cross between a creamy rice cereal and a light dal, or lentil soup. If it is a cold, blustery day, or you are feeling under the weather, a bowl of kitchari – a soupy porridge made from rice and mung beans, lightly spiced with ginger, cilantro, and other spices – can both warm up your bones and restore sagging energy.

Healing begins with the digestive tract. Many times, fasting is recommended for cleansing and rejuvenating the body to give the digestive system a rest. We generally do not consider downing a hearty grain dish to be fasting. Yet, because of the heavy toxin load that many of us carry, or medications that we depend on, total fasting is not always the best idea. So, we have people promoting juice fast/feasting, lemonade-based fasts, and vegan or raw food diets as alternative or intermediate steps.

In India kitchari is considered a fasting food, used to purify digestion and cleanse systemic toxins. Kitchari ‘fasting’ is actually a mono-diet – providing the body with a limited assortment of foods. The digestive system then only needs to produce a limited number of digestive enzymes. So its work of digestion is lessened. This allows greater healing and cleansing to occur. One can safely subsist on kitchari for a period time in order to build vitality and strength as it helps balance many body systems. The dish is beneficial for the stomach, lungs, liver, and large intestine. If you eat plain kitchari (the basic recipe of rice, mung beans, and cilantro) for more than 2 days, it may cause constipation. So add in a variety of vegetables to contribute necessary fiber for proper bowel function.

Kitchari provides solid nourishment while allowing the body to devote energy to healing. Kitchari can give it a much-needed rest from constantly processing different foods while providing essential nutrients. The blend of rice and split mung beans offers an array of amino acids, the building blocks of protein. In Traditional Chinese Medicine mung beans are prized for their detoxification properties. Its mixture of spices helps to cleanse and tone the digestive system, which can be weakened by poor food choices. Several of the herbs are known as powerful anti-inflammatory agents.

Beyond the therapeutic fast, kichari has many other uses: It can be eaten when breaking more intense fasts, such as water or fruit. During intermittent fasting, it provides further cleansing, along with solid nutrition, during your eating periods. Use it when recuperating from an illness or any great physical stress, like childbirth, surgery, or extensive travel. It is an excellent "antidote" to dietary excesses, such as can happen around the holidays or major family get-togethers. It can be helpful and calming when we're under emotional stress.

Rarely is brown or whole rice specified. Obviously white rice, with its recent appearance in human history, could not have been used thousands of years ago. White rice is devoid of nutritional content. No one should ingest it, especially on a fast. The simplest form of kitchari consists of basmati rice, mung beans, and cilantro. Simple kitchari is recommended for fasts lasting up to five days. Traditionally mung beans are used, but either whole or split green or yellow peas, or red lentils can be used . With of the diversity of ingredients allowed, every cook has his/her own favorite version.

This is a kitchari recipe that is particularly nourishing and easy to digest.

Serves 4-5

Stir together in a large saucepan over medium heat, until fragrant:
3 tablespoons ghee (purified butter)
1 1/2 inch piece of cinnamon bark or 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
5 whole cloves
4-5 crushed cardamom pods
10 black peppercorns
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
3 bay leaves (remove before eating)

Blend together until liquefied. Add to spice mixture and stir until lightly browned:
1 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and chopped fine
2 tablespoons shredded, unsweetened coconut
1 small handful fresh cilantro leaves
1/2 cup water

Stir thoroughly into above mixture. Saute a few minutes :
1 cup yellow mung dal (split or whole) Soaking the dal for a few hours or overnight helps with digestibility.
1 cup brown basmati rice
1/4 teaspoon sea salt or 1 teaspoon dulse (not traditional Indian, but adds trace minerals)

Pour in. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to very low. Simmer for 30 minutes:
6 cups water

Add, then cook and additional 30 minutes:

1 - 2 cups vegetables of your choice (zucchini, asparagus, sweet potato, carrots, greens, broccoli, cauliflower, green beans, etc.) cut into small pieces (optional)

Heat a large saucepan on medium heat and add the ghee, cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, peppercorns and bay leaves. Stir for a moment until fragrant. Add the blended items to the spices, then the turmeric and salt. Stir until lightly browned.

Add the mung dal and salt. Sauté for 1 or 2 minutes. Add boiling water, bring to boil, turn down the heat to very low, then simmer for 20 minutes. Add rice.

Prepare any vegetables that suit you. Cut them into small pieces. Stir in these vegetables to mix, adding extra water if required. Bring back to the boil, then simmer for 30 minutes longer or until rice is fully cooked.

Garnish with: ghee, shredded, unsweetened coconut, lime, cilantro, sunflower seeds, Bragg’s Liquid Aminos, etc.

Variations in spices include:

1/2 teaspoon black mustard seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
2 pinches hing (asafoetida)
½ teaspoon turmeric


½ tsp. turmeric
1 Tbsp. ground coriander
1 tsp. cumin seeds or whole cumin seeds
½ tsp. fennel seeds
½ tsp. ground black peppercorns
1 ½ tsp. ground basil leaf (optional)
1/3 tsp. (asafoetida) (Hing)
pinch of cayenne

We often think of ‘comfort food’ as those foods which we remember eating as children, which we now know are less than healthy for us: big fatty sausages; sugary, candy like cookies or cakes; gooey cheesecake; and the list goes on and on. With kitchari, we have a chance to add an item to our comfort food repertoire that can actually improve our health.


13 July, 2010

Calcium Special Smoothie or Topping

Figs are coming into season, now. They are best very fresh, and don't keep long once they are picked. So you can also use dried figs.

Figs and sesame seeds are terrific sources of easily assimilable calcium.

8 - 10 figs
1/2 lemon or 1 Tbs. lemon juice
3 Tbs. sesame seeds or tahini
3 cardamom pods
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 inch piece of fresh ginger or 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. dulse
water to desired consistency
1 drop pure, organic lavender oil

If using dried figs, soak them overnight in enough water to cover them.

Pour figs and water into your VitaMix. Add remaining ingredients, except lavender oil, and whir until thoroughly mixed. Stir lavender oil into finished smoothie - it adds just the right finishing touch.

This can be eaten like apple sauce or used as a topping for fruit or a carrot salad. Spread it on whole grain crackers for an afternoon snack.

Of course, you can enjoy it as a smoothie as well. Add a tray of ice cubes in place of the water for a unique 'ice cream' treat.