Raw Culinary Wisdom

Living Plant Based Cuisine & Education

  • Oct 8

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    What makes someone stay healthy is knowledge of what makes you healthy. I have always held that “we all want to be healthy but we just don’t know how” thus I went to two chef schools to learn how.

    But there are times when old temptations slip back as I am in a social situation where everyone is enjoying themselves nashing on chicken wings and legs and eating french fries or sweet potatoe fries. It can be pretty easy to justify a fried food if it once was a healthy food and in fact I might occasionally succumb to sweet potato fries because it is the best option in front of me. Then I go back and get my video info “fix” and realize why any heated oil is terrible for the liver. I am addicted to new research on what makes the highest nutrient dense foods, may I never recover!

    What I recently figured out having knowledge makes it not even possible for me to eat really harmful foods like chicken, beef, dairy, gluten, cheese etc. How did that happen, that my BRAIN became smarter than my TASTE buds?

    I drove 4.5 hours in heavy traffic to see this guy in San Francisco recently because he is a part of my daily download of great health information.

    Meet Dr Michael Gregor a “nut” case about healthy eating. I say that lovingly because he is passionate about the nutritional profile of nuts, seeds and mostly greens especially KALE. He has access as a doctor to get all the recent peer reviewed scientific studies and translates them to laymans terms. He travels constantly and delivers humorous and engaging talks about nutrition. He is commited to not have a bias so he accept no money and only asks that all the funds collected from his talks go to charity. He dose not have a website filled with superfood products that he suggests that you buy to stay healty. There is nothing to walk away with except scientific facts and evidence to buy and eat more veggies. check out his speech.

    http://nutritionfacts.org/video/more-than-an-apple-a-day-preventing-our-most-common-diseases/

    So I was asked to give a talk to kindergarten parents of a local Waldorf Charter School about healthy eating and it got me so excited to find the most nutritious dense foods for the biggest bang for your buck. A short time with nutritionfacts.org website and I had all the information I needed to create fun new recipes for kids.
    Here are some:

    Say you have a kid that will not eat one single green thing. What to do about that for a smoothie?

    Well berries are a fantastic source of antioxidants in fact they can actually reverse esophogus cancer!!
    So a great berry smoothie is Frozen blueberries about 1/2 cup, soaked (overnight) gogi berries about 1/2 cup, add some coconut water (preferably from bpa free plastic and not cans) and Vega Vanilla Protein Powder and a squeeze a lime and push the button! Great tasting easy peasy

    If your kid likes puddings here is an amazing antioxidant packed breakfast pudding

    Did you know that Apples are highrer in antioxidants than blueberries? I didn’t until I watched the video on food rated highest in antioxidants. Thats the coolest thing about his website is you can type in a food or disease and get all the videos that address the issue you asked for!

    So knowing the top ten list of antioxidant rich foods I created this breakfast pudding:
    1 cup pecan milk (use one cup soaked overnight pecans and add 2 .5 cups pure water and blend and striain)
    add 1-2 teaspoons Erythritol sweetner (check out his video on this and see why I am recommending this)
    1 teaspoon vanilla powder
    1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
    1 teaspoon ground cinammon
    a pinch of ground cloves
    a pinch of sea salt
    Blend together until well incorporated
    Add one apple chopped fine
    Sprinkle with coconut shreds and cinnamon on top
    Optional add chopped pecans for extra nutrition and crunch

    Nothing beats the nutritional profile of KALE and the all time favorite way to eat it is crunchy Kale Chips:

    2 bunches kale stemmed washed and spun dried
    Set aside in a large bowl

    Add into high speed blender
    1 large red or yellow pepper
    1.5 cups raw cashews
    juice from one lemon
    1 tablespoon Chickpea Miso
    1 teaspoon sea salt
    1/2 teaspoon chipolte powder OR 1/4 tsp.cayenne pepper to taste
    Blend till creamy and smooth

    Add cashew mixture to large bowl of kale and massage with hands until well covered

    Place on dehydrator screens and dehydrate at 105 degrees overnight or till crispy. Seal in air tight container and enjoy.

    The other dish that was enjoyed by all is the zucchinni pasta with pesto sauce.
    The fun tool to have everyone in the family involved is a spiralizer that can be purchased from any kitchen supply store. Just peel and cut the zucchinni and let the kids have a blast twirling the handle and watching as pasta come out the see thru base.

    Pesto recipe is simple:

    2 cups well packed Basil
    1.5 cups soaked and dried walnuts
    juice of one lemon
    1 clove garlic pressed through a garlic press
    1 teaspoon sea salt

    Pulse in food processor while adding aproximately 1/4 – 1/3 cup of the highest grade olive oil you can find.

    Taste and adjust flavors as needed. store in small 1/2 pint mason jars in fridge for 3 days and freezer for up to 6 months.

    The Carob, Kale Brownies were fun and a nice alternative to white sugar treats.

    1.5 cups soaked and dried walnuts
    1 packed cup stemm Read the rest of this entry »

  • Jun 25

     

     

     

    A carnivore (pron.: /ˈkɑrnɪvɔər/) meaning ‘meat eater’ (Latin, carne meaning ‘flesh‘ and vorare meaning ‘to devour‘) is an organism that derives its energy and nutrient requirements from a diet consisting mainly or exclusively of animal tissue, whether through predation or scavenging.

     

    Characteristics commonly associated with carnivores include organs for capturing and disarticulating prey (teeth and claws serve these functions in many vertebrates) and status as a predator. In truth, these assumptions may be misleading, as some carnivores do not hunt and are scavengers (though most hunting carnivores will scavenge when the opportunity exists). Thus they do not have the characteristics associated with hunting carnivores. Carnivores have comparatively short digestive systems, as they are not required to break down tough cellulose found in plants.

    Having just returned from spending a month in Africa one week on Safari in the Serengeti I have had the absolute privilege and honor of seeing wild animals on their home turf. I loved that , being in cars, we were the ones in “cages”  on wheels.  Due to some very strict laws and enforcement the animals don’t feel threatened by the moving boxes with bobbing heads. So we were able to get very close and view them doing very natural everyday activities.  The first day it was getting late and we had driven for several hours and had seen many wonderful creatures such as giraffe, zebra and wildebeest. I was getting tired and started thinking about finding our lodging when Lisika our Maasai guide announces that I must see a lion to have good lion dreams in Africa.  I laughed at his assurance and waited to see what would unfold.  Sure enough he drives up to a tree and my heart skips a beat as we are looking upon a male and female lion “hanging out” in the grass in very close view  then something astonishing happened and the male got up and mounted the female!! I was stretched beyond comprehension that I just witnessed such a wondrous sight!! Wow, how could it ever get better than this!  Then Lisika states, “he will take a 15 minute nap and go at it again, and repeat  every 15 minutes or so for seven days”!!  Now I saw how  he knew to come here but I was still blown away with the concept a smelling the same grass and feeling the same breeze as the lions.  As it turned out I did awake hearing a low guttural mournful sound coming not so far away. It seems lions are so confident of their status are top of the food chain that the go wherever they dam well please.  We were under strict orders to stay in out tents at night and only to walk to the dining hall with an escort at all times day or evening.  Another story revealed that a safari truck proved to be a good look out point for a lion and he stretch out on the hood for a couple of hours with people in it!!  I related that the guide and another person have nothing to worry about as lions prefer herbivores and I would be eaten first so I would keep the lion occupied while they ran away, LOL. I decided to be a part of a lion would not be such a terrible contribution to the earth. Coming home I heard of the woman who did lose her life to a captured lion, hopefully her family will eventually will have peace with her death.

    My trip to Africa with my husband was a 28 year dream in the making.  We had just come off Kilimanjaro after a successful summit (that story in another future blog) and were excited to see a few animals if we were lucky, trying not to get our hopes up.  I didn’t know this but most tourist come for a “kill” and some book ten day safari trips and leave home disappointed. People generally might hear about a kill or get to see one from afar.

    Well the carnivores showed up fully to show this plant eater  how it is done in the wild.  We saw four “kills” in three days!! This was so crazy my guide was astonished!

    The first was a mother cheetah and her two big cubs out for  hunting practice. The meal of the day was baby wildebeest as it was the time of the great migration when the wildebeest head into Kenya from Tanzania after giving birth.  Now a baby wildebeest has no more than 15 minutes after birth to run like mad to escape being breakfast.  Some even less as we heard from another family that witnessed a baby being pulled from the mother’s uterus and snatched up by the nasty hyenas.  Sorry, if that is grossing you out but I am just reporting how the animal kingdom works in the wild. What is really gross is that humans would call that veal and set up a horrible process of torture  in cages to achieve this “select” meat.

    The cheetah spotted the baby alone as the rest of the herd will not adopt a baby separated from it’s mother.  The mother cheetah had no problem taking down the baby and the cubs bounced along following but unsure of what to do when the mother laid down away from the baby. So the cubs played with keeping the wildebeest down as it tried to escape.  Then the mother cheetah went over and gashed into the hind quarters and took a chunk of flesh into her mouth. This part was really tough even for our guide to watch as the baby wildebeest raised it head in anguish as it realized it was being EATEN ALIVE. Normally the cat covers the mouth and smothers the animal, but the cubs were too young to get the job done and one of the cubs put a paw on the head to keep it down. Then eventually the underbelly was torn open and presumably the baby wildebeest died.  The cats head went into the cavity and started ripping out the organs. The entire cheetah’s head was covered with blood as it went for the intestines and soft organs. I had a flashback of attending a Westin Price cooking class and having the instructor pull a cows liver from the freezer and gleefully offer anyone a slice of raw meat. I was getting a visceral and extremely impactful experience of what it means to be a carnivore! The gashing, tearing, bone crunching, bloody mess is necessary to feed the cat’s young. Someone’s baby  had to die for the cheetahs to live. I could respect that, the mother cheetah was doing naturally what it took to give her cubs life.  What surprised me was the aghast and disgust of the other meat eaters watching. When we went back to the camp and they served pork on white plates with a side of potatoes was  it any different?? If the cheetahs had forks would we consider their meal acceptable and not be repulsed?  I am so grateful to witness the tough and brutal world of flesh eaters, it is so EASY to eat plants and so darn messy,  disgusting and horrific to take another’s life.  It makes total sense why the meat industry in the U.S. has made it against the law to photograph any slaughterhouses because there would be NO industry left. 

    I am blatantly clear of our CHOICE as humans to determine what we consume as food. We either grow food or kill another  for it. Even when the flesh is wrapped in plastic and put on Styrofoam trays then seared over fire  and served with a sauce  on white plates it still came from an animal having to die.  I suggest reading Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer to get the facts on how meat ends up in the grocery store.

    Another observation of being in the Serengeti was that the herbivores would run for the joy of running and seemed to have boundless energy even when they were not being chased.  The lions, cheetahs and hyenas however were lazy and did a whole lot of lying around till their next kill. I read that lions require about 15 pounds of flesh a day!! Imagine digesting that much at once even with their short intestines to push it through quickly.

    Twice on our trip we saw a baby wildebeest following and crying out at our vehicle hoping for an adoption and once as we tried to lead him back to a herd  a very fat hyena got to him first and had him severed in two in less than five minutes. This was very tough on our guide as you could tell he wanted so much to do something but was held to very strict rules to not get out of a vehicle when animals are around and he could lose his license if he did not obey.

     

    The Masi Mystique…

    I had several days of great discussion with our Maasai guide about the tradition of eating blood and fermented milk from cattle.  They go to great lengths to protect their cattle and have a veterinary give shots every 6 weeks to protect the cattle against disease caused by flies. When they take blood it is a liter at a time and they make sure it a month apart before taking more.  They usually drink the blood milk mixture once maybe  sometimes twice a day.  They are very thin and strong and walk an average of 20 miles a day to seek water and grass for the herd.  The ownership of cattle is like having money to the Masi, quite simply the more cattle you own the more wives you can buy or technically trade.  More wives mean more children and your village gets bigger and gets more cattle. When pressed how Lisika became a guide instead of herding cattle he said that his family first said no to him leaving to get an education then said he wasn’t any good at cattle so he may as well go. Lisika was an unusual boy in that  one day he found a very tiny baby Thompson gizelle when he was with his cows. They start tending a few cattle at the age of three!  Lisika took home the gizelle and gave up his meal to feed the baby and soon the grown Gizelle followed him everywhere and all the tribe thought this was very strange except the vet who saw a boy who might make a good animal doctor in his future. After a year and a half the two of them convinced his parents to let him leave to start his education around the age of eight years old. Unfortunately the very kind doctor was killed in a car accident the last year of secondary school and Lisika never got to go on to Vet school. With the help from a friend he got to go to guide school and show others, the animals he had come to love.  When I asked him about the children begging along the road and how many Maasai stick to the blood, milk only diet with some cooked  cow flesh he thought for a while and said of all the total Maasai he estimated only 8% did not supplement their diet with grains and  vegetables such as wheat and rice and whatever else they could buy.

    We were offered a chance to stop and see how the Maasai lived and to go into their mud huts, so we agreed that would be great. Upon arriving we were told that it is expected to give a donation of $20.00 for each of us.  Wow that was a lot and a bit unexpected but we were here and they were outside the window waiting so o.k. then.  There were a group dressed in fancy garb and had elaborate neclaces on the women. We were givin a music and jumping contest by the males and some shoulder bumping by the women to make their necalaces dance. The man that greeted us spoke english as well as a college professor and was very intelligent as well. After a brief sit in a cool but small hut we were taken to the school room which was a three sided loose structure constructed of poles with lots of space for a breeze or rain to blow through. They had a chalk board and one child was picked to recite the numbers in english up to twenty. Again we were asked for donation for the school and then taken to the women that had made beaded earrings starting at $20.00 a pair.  When my friend was paying they saw his $50.00 and $100.00 bills and got quite excited to trade their 20′s and 10′s as it was inconvient for them without pockets.  When asked what they did with the large bills they explained they sewed them to the inside of the cloth they threw over themselves. I loved the image of a Maasai walking down the highway with his cattle and  carrying a stick or spear with a cloth lined with hundred dollar bills draped over his shoulder!!

    http://www.maasaimara.com/the-mara/maasai-people

  • Feb 3

    IMG_7541I know quite a eye catching headline but it is true! My one steadfast rule to eat by is ‘NOTHING IN A PACKAGE’

    This innocent looking packet that promised to be an:” electrolyte replacement with amino acids, anti-oxidants, B-complex, AND complete multivitamin & mineral supplement all in a energy formula that is berry flavored was the culprit that had me in the emergency room thinking I was having a heart attack!!!

    This all looks like great stuff from the front of the packet!  The little word “energy” was the culprit that should of tipped me off. The back of the packet lists all the ingredients and as you can see it needs a magnifying lens to read it. Even with my 20/20 vision I was challenged to decipher the fine print. I got this packet from a visit to my naturopathic doctor after discussing my annual blood test she said my electrolytes might be down from taking a far-infrared sauna nightly so she handed me this packet to try. She got it from a recent doctor’s conference as samples. Sounds innocent enough and after quickly scanning the packet I poured it into water and was drinking it as I was preparing and assembling materials for a raw foods class I was teaching. The first sip was strange and I choose to ignore the signal or intuition to not finish it. I was loading boxes into the car and came back in rationalizing that I would need the hydration for teaching so I finished it off.

    I had a fabulous class and was feeling great but a little buzzy then I asked my friend to take my pulse as it seemed off and racy. She took it and told me to sit down immediately and to take deep breaths to calm down as I was waaaaay too rapid and needed to ground. I went home and the racy feeling continued and pressure started to build in my chest area where it had the sensation of an elephant was sitting on my chest and I could not get a full breath in. That’s when I remembered the same expression was used to describe a heart attack was severe pressure on your chest. HOW ABSURRED! I CAN’T BE HAVING A HEART ATTACK, but why can’t I breathe??? I went through and recounted what happened that day and thought about the little packet and got the magnifying glass and re-read the ingredients and discovered (Guarana Seed Extract 22% caffine) 50 mg. buried in the extra Herbal Blend section at the very bottom.  I wish I took the time to research this first then I would discover this warning from Livestrong.com

    “The caffeine contained in guarana seed may cause an irregular heartbeat in susceptible people, reports the pharmaceutical information website Drugs.com. This side effect may be serious, especially if you have an underlying heart condition or an overactive thyroid gland.”

    Wait ….22% caffeine!!!! I take O% caffeine.  So, I had the cause but what to do about my pressure on my chest that kept worsening to to point of not being able to have a conversation!  I really felt going to the hospital was the best option and still feel it was the smart and safest way to handle the sensations I was having.

    Once admitted I was totally under the western medical protocol of having an EKG and Heart x-ray, blood test,  aspirin, nitroglycerin and was even offered morphine a few times. Needless to say I was out of my “green living world”  I took the nitro tablets and after the second one I felt MUCH better and was able to take a full breath without the pressure on my chest preventing me from full lung expansion. The blood test was to determine if a certain enzyme was being released into the blood system that would indicate cell damage to the heart muscle. This test needed to be repeated every six hours for three times to rule out a heart attack. So they could not allow me to leave until all three test were preformed even though the first test came back zero damage this is just standard hospital procedure. That meant I was spending the night, because if I was released and went home and had a heart attack then they could be held liable explained the doctor from India that does not have a practice but only works in hospitals to get more experience.

    Some of the highlights of my stay was the nurse that checked me into my room said I make her night when she asked about my diet and I said raw vegan. She said she has never ever been able to check excellent in her whole career of nursing as most people end up in the hospital with some degree of diet issues. Then she started apologizing profusely about not being able to offer ANY suitable food as the meals were horrible. I told her not to worry that my husband would bring me a smoothie in the morning and I would be fine with lots of water till then as I really needed to hydrate after the nitro to prevent headaches.

    The doctor that did the stress cardiac test the next day exclaimed “What are you doing here your heart is in excellent shape, go out and climb Kilimanjaro and enjoy yourself”  He also spoke about the 20 year old kids that he witnessed that die of heart attacks by taking the super caffeinated drinks like Red Bull and others.

    I was instructed to stay away from Guarana Seed root and I assured him that this would not be a mistake I would make again!

    I was released with a clean bill of health and went back that afternoon to bring some homemade raw “goodies” to the nursing staff for their care and kindness.

    Lesson learned “obey my own rules” NOTHING IN A PACKAGE ….or suffer the consequences.

    It can be an easy rule  to break  as miso, vitamin D, almond butter all come in packages. However 95% of my shopping  takes place in the PRODUCE AND BULK section of the store.  The intent behind the rule is to eat things that look like they do in nature. For instance there are no spaghetti trees in nature to produce dried stiff sticks that soften when placed in boiling water!  Even “sprouted” bread is not found in nature so I just weaned myself off the need for the stuff. That dosen’t mean I didn’t once LOVE the pleasure associated with eating it. But I let the knowledge of what it actually is to go deeper and deeper by continually researching about gluten and all the effects on the cells in our bodies to be stronger than the desire to eat it.

    My supplements are getting more simple, such as digestive enzymes and Vitamin D and Vitamin B12 once a week.

    I hope this helps you read more carefully what you are taking and question everything that goes into your mouth!

    Now I am off to climb Kilimanjaro next week… Doctor’s orders of course!

     

  • Oct 18

    When I found myself making faces and coughing after tasting olive oil at the local farmer’s market something triggered that this was an important moment. I had always experienced olive oil as mild, bland and more of a background taste. But this stuff was like tasting bitter grass and was vibrant green with a scratching feeling in the back of my throat!! I noticed all the medals and read the label as “Primo” so I got curious instead of walking away.  It seems the Primo brand was the most potent for polyphenols and as no big surprise it is an aquired taste. Others like the ‘Classico” or the “Mission” were milder but I could not let the memory of that sharp pungent taste out of my mind, so I took some home to get to know it better. It was pesto time and I found myself reaching for this bottle to put it on everything even though it was a pricey $20.00 a bottle. The other olive oils in my pantry were just so dead and almost toxic tasting next to this super green wonder and I found myself going back for 6 more bottles the next week. It had me hooked sort of like my first taste of wheat grass juice, not pleasant but I knew it had something powerful to tell me.

    I spoke with the owners Roselind and Robert and asked if they ever gave private tastings so I could try it out on the other raw foodies and get their opinion and they said sure, even though they lived more than an hour away.

    So we got a date and time and sent out the word that a new olive was coming to town and we could all come and check it out. Armed with just cut up veggies we began our evening of exploration.

    We learned that official judges actually look forward to that itchy back of the throat cough as a sign of fabulous olives. It is sort of a inside joke of “did you taste that 4 cough oil over there” etc.

    These olive trees were sort of a retirement project for the couple and after a few outstanding harvests and award collections they decided to  put their oils in a world wide competition including of course the best that Italy has to offer along with about 800 other competitors and this Sierra d Oro came in the top 15 with no other U.S. companies getting even close. So what were the judges looking for? We got to try several oils by sipping a tiny amount and inhaling sharply with your teeth together through your mouth to experience the full body and slowly let it trickle to the back of our throats. The milder oils were good just like you would expect from an expensive olive oil but the “Primo” grabbed your tonge and demanded you to pay attention and left you with a lingering slightly irritated scratchy throat that resulted in a spontanious cough or two.  I noticed what I can only describe as a very high vibration that seemed to come from the center of the earth. Yeah, that is a bit airy fairy for most people so I watched the others taste and see what they decided to buy. Yep, the Primo won as the one  others wanted more of as well.

    "The Tasting Room"

    In the mean time, I put the oil to a culinary test to see if it could stand up to a three ingredient salad. I went for the kale for it’s bitterness and nutient density, and added a yellow onion that I thinly sliced and then added two pears fresh from my tree. After a thin “chiffonade” of the kale and matchstick cut of the pears it was ready to be dressed. I chose the high octane “Primo” oil and had lots of fun exploring all the different balsamics to go with it.

    My choices were regular balsamic, Peach, Blueberry, Fig,  Cinnamon Pear, Pomegranate, Mandarine and Dark Chocolate.  Well I went with the most obvious and the one  recommended by Roselind the Cinnamon Pear balsamic and just sprinkled it  liberally with the Primo olive oil and tossed the kale, onion and pear mixture. I did use some sea salt to help massage the kale to breakdown the cell structure and make it easier to digest. The salad was passed and the bowl got  quickly emptied and the best part of the evening was two people in the room never tried kale and was totally taken in by it’s charms and decided to go buy some and make it again!! Yeah, I love kale convert stories.

    Some other things we discovered was never fill your almost empty bottle with fresh oil as the oil that is exposed to the sides of the glass gets oxidized and will quickly spoil the rest of the fresh oil.

    Also, it takes less than an hour in the sun for fabulous oil to go rancid, imagine what that means when you put it in a hot pan!!  The best solution is to saute with a small amount of water then finish with olive oil before serving. Best yet, and my favorite, is to just put the oil on raw veggies and have no heat at all.

    The high polyphenols were studied and found to block the action of enzymes that cancer needs for growth  along with other abnormal cell growth. The more bitter and greener the higher the polyphenols!

    If you put a raw garlic in olive oil WATCH OUT as that is a recipe for botulism due to water getting in the oil. You must use totally dehydrated garlic to have a garlic flavored oil.

    The best place to store olive oil is in a dark colored bottle in a place that is room temperature. Not in the fridge, because of the condensation from taking it in and out and that water droplets spoiling the oil.

    The stuff that is sold in clear bottles in the grocery store is already rancid due to the light exposure.

    There is NO labeling laws in the U.S. to make sure that Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil is in fact that. Often other oils such as safflower or grape-seed oil is either mixed in or used entirely. There is an industry joke that safflower oil in tankard trucks leaves Turkey and turns into olive oil when it crosses the Italian border and becomes organic extra virgin olive oil by the time it reaches the United States.

    The ranking of olive oil has the rancid stuff sold simply as olive oil and the next step up of nasty stuff sold as Virgin olive oil!!

    The hazards of eating damaged oil is that it is a toxin and the liver has to work double to try and eliminate it from your system often causing thyroid challenges and other complications. We think we are eating the “Mediterranean” diet and being so healthy and alas, the fake olive oil is killing us just like you were eating fried foods!!

    Never, ever buy olive oil that is stored in plastic containers as the oil pulls all the petroleum from the plastic and you end up eating the plastic!!

    Even the best olive oil needs to be used within six months and bought fresh again. Throw out those sale bottles lingering in the back of your pantry!

    If your olive oil tastes like “bacon” it is because it is full of flies, the olive fly is crushed along with the olives and taints the flavor.

    Some companies use solvent to “clean” up the bad tasting olive oil, however, now you are eating the very toxic solvent with the oil.

    If you want to clean your cruet or bottle out the best grease cutter is Dawn dish washing liquid and make sure it is air dried overnight before refilling.

    Olives need to be crushed right away to make the best oil and some companies will let trucks sit overnight and let the bruised olives get oxidized. At Sierra d Oro they are able to get the olives crushed within two hours and use a special fancy crushing machine that keeps the olives in a vacuum so it is not oxidizing as it is being crushed.

    The best method of picking is with buckets and climbing the tree to hand pick not beating and letting the olives fall and get bruised or worst yet with machinery.

    If you want to know how to get some of this amazing good high vibrating oil check out the website www.sierradoro.com and tell them Eva says hi. I don’t make a dime from this oil, I just love the stuff!! It is a great holiday gift that everyone uses but now you can give them a bottle of “medicine” disguised as salad dressing!!

  • Oct 8

    McGee Canyon in Mammoth,CA on a perfect Fall Day Calling to be Explored by Foot

    O.K. so the setting could not be better, the trees are just beginning to turn color and the temperature is cool, sunny and just cloudy enough to be interesting. We started out around mid day and had no final destination. With curiosity in our step and a  backpack full of yummy food we set out. Choices for back pack food can be pretty grim if you head to the “health” food store to make your selection. Most of the commercial bars are packed with sugar and lots of old nuts and seeds.  Did you ever stop and think that if we need to keep our nuts and seeds in the freezer or fridge to preserve their nutrients when we buy them how can these same nuts and seeds be healthy sitting in a wrapper on a store shelf for months at a time!  The wrapper might declare NO GLUTEN, VEGAN, NO SUGAR, HEALTHY etc…etc….

    When I took my Plant based Nutrition class from E-Cornell we had a guest lecturer that said first off, believe NOTHING on the front of a package and then turn it over to see what the list of ingredients are to make a decision.  By law you can claim anything on the front of a label because that is considered advertising. In our busy hurried lives we look for simplicity to have someone do our research for us so we want to believe that something is healthy when it is printed in bold letters right in front of out eyes. No Sugar could actually mean it is loaded with high fructose corn syrup because it does not contain cane sugar, it is correct that it has no sugar. Naturally sweetened could also mean that it is sweetened with HFCS and several other high glycemic sweeteners. Did you know they are now sneaking in HFCS in maple syrup because they found out consumers are actually reading labels and if it goes into the maple syrup before it goes into the rest of the ingredients then they can simply state the sweetness come from maple syrup!!!  Yikes, it truly is a nightmare when you live in a world that values success in terms of monetary accumulation rather than healthy bodies. We buy favorite brands and become loyal consumers based on a logo or some fantasy version of what we want a product to be. Take oatmeal for example how many  of you still associate pure and simple Quakers with their breakfast cereal just because of branding non-organic steamed rolled and dried oat seeds as Quaker Oats.  It takes a lot of time and  effort to buy something in a package that actually has YOUR interest at heart. Once you find one thing then you will buy anything they make without the same scrutiny.

    I love to check out all the raw products on the shelves with unbelievable high prices and am consistently amazed how much agave nectar is packed into anything to get it to sell. Agave nectar used to be the money maker of the raw industry because it took an average sweet tooth and gave it a different name with the same taste. They grabbed the  sugar addicts and gave it a “healthier” more natural name. I remember the conversation with a health food employee declaring he had been off sugar for three days and he was feeling great. I asked how he did it and he said “I just got a big jar of honey and agave nectar and haven’t touched white sugar it was easy.” People feel like they don’t use sugar when they put tablespoons of honey in their tea!! Honey has a very high glycemic load and it is a very potent sweetener, one that keeps wild bees alive in freezing temperatures. Honey is a medicine to me and has great medicinal qualities to heal wounds and help with seasonal allergies, but for every day use, I say give it back to the bees that have worked so hard to make it. I was talking to a long time bee keeper on the east coast and I asked him what element do the humans bring to the bees to justify stealing their food. How did the bees do before we came along?  He stumbled a bit and said no one ever asked this question they usually just ask how much his honey cost. He has to put out sugar water for them in the winter for them to survive and one time he was in Florida when a really bad storm hit and the bees did not get fed and he lost a large percentage of them and he really felt sad about that because if they had their honey they would of made it through.

    The only sweetener that I have found that does us the least harm is Stevia which you can grow in a flower pot on your deck. They do manufacture a liquid version that is processed and sometimes flavored that takes the bitterness out. I have slowly moved in the the direction of seeking substances that are naturally sweet such as Sweet Mesquite, Jerusalem Artichoke and Lucuma  as a chef and will continue to evolve to using less and less processed sweeteners.Many fruits have been so hybridized that they are actually more acid due to their high sugar content and being artificially ripened.  Take a wild blueberry,  it is very small and slightly tart and compare it to a domestic blueberry and it is several times sweeter and much more plump. The wilder version of course has about three thousand more antioxidants than the domestic version which is one of the main reasons to eat them other than they also happen to  taste great.

    Fall is a great time to think about our sugar addiction since from here on we encounter the onslaught of  holidays revolving  around how to cram in more and more sugar than usual into our diet.

    Back to the wisdom of plants… Watching the leaves turn to gold reminds me how we are light beings that need to eat our greens to vibrate at the high frequency that gives us perfect health all the way into our golden years. We, like the

    Green to Golden Light

    trees need sunlight and what a better time than a  fall hike into the forest to get a face full of sunlight.  To be in nature without any electronic devices is a giant boost to our immune system as it gives us some time to be in the same rhythm as nature and some have proven that the more time in nature means less illnesses. We were never meant to live in boxes and drive around in boxes with wheels and eat out of boxes that we buy from big box stores while staring at boxes to entertain us!

    The more time in nature the more time we can feel that we are a part of the whole cycle of nature to contribute to and nurture. Some have said 20 minutes of your bare feet on the earth is all it takes to become grounded and “reset” yourself into a different time zone after a flight. Why not, especially if you get to wiggle your toes into the sand or grass, how can that hurt?

    Sometimes food that is in unexpected places can make it taste so much more delicious, such as a salad in the middle of the forest.

    When it was time to sit and take in all the grandeur around us we had a delicious and quick and easy lunch ready to pull out of the back pack. We packed a small cold pack next to the dip but in cool weather it is not necessary.

    First the dip was made with red peppers from the garden and if you have a few hot ones throw them in the blender along with the juice of a whole lemon and about a teaspoon of salt then add about a cup and a half of cashews (soaked overnight if your remembered) and blend till smooth and creamy. this is also great road food as any type of veggie can be dipped in such as carrots, celery, cauliflower, broccoli, radishes,as well as hard fruit like  apples, pears  etc.

    The “MASON” salads were recently taught in our last un-cooking class as a way to keep your greens accessible and easy as a take along meal. The trick is to put the dressing on the bottom, in this case I had some Blueberry Balsamic from the Farmer’s Market and some Primo Organic  Extra Virgin Olive Oil also from the Farmer’s Market. I would of also added a pinch of sea salt and some fresh ground pepper but it was fine without them. Then the fun layers, I started with celery sliced thin, then added carrots that I used a peeler  to get long ribbons, shredded romaine lettuce packed well and then cucumbers, tomatoes and avocados to top it off.  You can certainly play with whatever is available and add cabbage, broccoli, sunflower seeds or hemp seeds and what ever is your favorite and colorful salad.

    The soaked and dried almonds and silky sea palm snack are an excellent hiking or car trip staple as you get a satisfying and mineral rich crunchy slightly salty yummy taste that is totally guilt free! I normally travel with them in a glass jar but it would not fit into the back pack unless it went into a plastic bag.

    The salads simply need to be turned upside down to marinate while you munch on the veggies and dip then dive in and enjoy with a easy clean up nutrient dense meal. These are so easy to make ahead of time and will keep for about three days in the fridge. My daughter was enjoying taking them on BART during her commute from Concord into Oakland and they lasted very well until lunch time when you start the marinate with the dressing by turning it upside down. Great make ahead and carry with you salad and if you pack it well you can get a LOT of veggies into that jar. The fun part is being creative and using what ever is in season, it helps keep the veggies flowing when the smoothies are getting old. Try it for your next road trip or yoga class or lunch meeting (my husband ate his in the lawyers office waiting room the other day !) They are clean and easy and just use a rubber band to hold your fork and you are ready to go. I am curious if the airlines will let this on, I might try it for my next flight and let you know.

    Well, kick back enjoy the view and get outside and walk in nature and eat lots of greens, and reds, yellows, orange, and purples to keep you fit through winter!

    A Perfect Meal Deserves A Perfect View!  The beaver that picked this spot as their home sure got an awesome piece of real estate! Maybe it was this view that helped the salad taste so fantastic. But you can always make up your favorite place in your minds eye and take deep breaths before and during eating to help digest and assimilate your greens!

    [media-credit name="Enjoy your change of Seasons!" align="aligncenter" width="300"][/media-credit]

  • Sep 17

    When I hear pesto I immediately think of the wonderful smell of basil. There are certainly a lot of different types of basil and one of them is purple so you may think this blog is about purple basil pesto.

    However…

    Last May at a local plant sale there was an adorable baby purple leaf plant called Shiso. I remember shiso being so important in Japan as they serve it regularly with sushi. As an herb it has some wonderful properties to help with parasites so you can see the importance of eating it with raw fish.

    Well in America, we like fast food and sushi quickly became the new supermarket fast “Healthy” food and a fresh leaf just would not hold up to hours or days under fluorescent lights to stay fresh so they stuck a piece of green plastic in the container instead. You can probably guess by now I am going to tell you about the health pitfalls of sushi.  The main being the white rice that is cooked with sugar to make it really sticky, is a glycemic spike nightmare!! The fish is caught in our polluted oceans and filled with heavy metals mercury being only one of them.  A local excellent sushi chef can no longer eat fish due to the heavy metals toxic build up in his body.  Soy sauce has gluten in it and tons of salt and there is a host of issues with both of these. It is wrapped in Nori and we just know that is healthy, right?  Wild Nari in clean waters is healthy!  But, right now with the radiation levels so high I would not trust any sea vegetable around Japan. I saw lots of packaged seaweed in tons of plastic packaging at Costco and noticed how little seaweed you get for such a big bunch of plastic to deal with.  It is also covered in soy sauce or salt to make it more appalling.  Nori and Sea vegetables are great, just buy them in the least amount of packaging such as in bulk and you can eat them raw without being processed.

    O.K. so I got on a rant about packaging, my new motto is “NOTHING IN A PACKAGE”  I know,” nothing”  is a little strict but you will be surprised how close you can come when you only buy produce, nuts  seeds in bulk. Bring jars or reuse your bags to buy bulk items.

    Now onto the pesto ….What is Shiso and how did it choose my garden to proliferate?

    Purple SHISO growing about 5 feet tall

    I always pay attention to what is new and growing in my garden and these six SHISO plants certainly took up space and beauty in the garden this summer. This is what Wikipedia has to say about my new plant discovery.

    Perilla is the common name for the herbs, known ethnically by various names, but now classified under the single species Perilla frutescens of the mint family, Lamiaceae.
    Like basil and coleus, it is a member of the mint family. The overall plant resembles the stinging nettle, though the leaves are somewhat rounder.
    Culinary overview
    The culinary variety is known as shiso, from its name in Japan, where it is an important part of diet and cuisine. These come in both green- and purple-leafed forms. They are also used in China, although there it is not a mainstay herb. It is also used among many other mint and basil type herbs in Southeast Asian countries. The distinctive aroma and pungency of the shiso type might be compared to that of mint or fennel.
    Korean cuisine uses green leaves of the oilseed variety, which have a flavor different from shiso, and also uses the perilla seeds, known as “wild sesame”, a source of perilla oil rich in ALA omega-3 fatty acids.
    The flowers, as well as the fruits or seeds, of shiso are used as a condiment or spice in Japan.
    Cultivation
    In temperate climates, the plant is self-sowing, but the seeds are not viable after long storage, and germination rates are low after a year.
    Perilla frutescens has been widely naturalized in parts of the United States and Canada, from Texas and Florida north to Connecticut and into Ontario, and west to Nebraska. It can be weedy or invasive in some of these regions.[1]
    The weedy types have often lost the characteristic shiso fragrance and are not suited for eating (cf. perilla ketone). Also, the red leaves are not ordinarily served raw.
    China
    Perilla is called zisu (simplified Chinese: 紫苏; traditional Chinese: 紫蘇; pinyin: zǐ sū) in Chinese and is traditionally used in Chinese medicine, and has been shown to stimulate interferon activity[2] and thus, the body’s immune system. It is used to ease the symptoms of the common cold. It is fried in oil with garlic or ginger in the wok, and eaten as a dish with meals. The sū in its name (formed by addition of the herb radical to a homophone meaning “revive”) was the namesake for Mount Gusu, the peak which gave Suzhou its name.
    Japan
    Perilla leaves also occur in red varieties, (akajiso), and the flower stalks are used as garnish as well shiso
    The Japanese name for the variety of perilla normally used in Japanese cuisine (Perilla frutescens var. crispa) is shiso (紫蘇?). This name is already commonplace in US mass media’s coverage of Japanese restaurants and cuisine. The Japanese call the green type aojiso (青紫蘇?), or ooba (“big leaf”), and often eat the fresh leaves with sashimi (sliced raw fish) or cut them into thin strips in salads, spaghetti, and meat and fish dishes. It is also used as a savory herb in a variety of dishes, even as a pizza topping (initially it was used in place of basil). In the summer of 2009, Pepsi Japan released a new seasonal flavored beverage, Pepsi Shiso.[3]
    The purple form is called akajiso (赤紫蘇?, red shiso), and is used to dye umeboshi (pickled ume) red or combined with ume paste in sushi to make umeshiso maki. It can also be used to make a sweet, red juice to enjoy during summer.
    An inflorescence of shiso, called hojiso (ear shiso), is typically used as garnish on a sashimi plate; the individual flowers can be stripped off the stem using the chopstick, adding its flavor to the soy sauce dip. The fruits of the shiso (shiso-no-mi), containing fine seed (mericarp) about 1mm or less in diameter (about the size of mustard seed), can be preserved in salt and used as a spice or condiment. Young leaves and flower buds are used for pickling in Japan and Taiwan.
    The other type of edible perilla (Perilla frutescens var. frutescens or var. japonica) called egoma (荏胡麻?) is of limited culinary importance in Japan, though this is the variety commonly used in nearby Korea. The cultivar is known regionally as jūnen in the Tohoku (northeast) regions of Japan. The term means “ten years”, supposedly because it adds this many years to one’s life-span. A local preparation in Fukushima prefecture, called shingorō, consists of half-pounded unsweet rice patties, which are skewered, smeared with miso blended with roasted and ground jūnen seeds, and roasted over charcoal flames. The oil pressed from this plant was once used to fuel lamps in the Middle Ages. The warlord Saitō Dōsan, who started out in various occupations, was a peddler of this type of oil, rather than the more familiar rapeseed oil, according to a story by historical novelist Ryōtarō Shiba.
    Korea
    Korean perilla leaves used as a side dish
    The plant’s Korean name is deulkkae or tŭlkkae (들깨). The same word is also used when referring to its seed, which has many uses in Korean cuisine, just as the leaves (ggaennip, 깻잎) do. The literal translations of deulkkae (“wild sesame”) and ggaennip (“sesame leaf”) are in spite of perilla’s not being closely related to sesame, and Korean cookbooks translated into English sometimes use these translations. Cans of pickled ggaennip can be found in Korean grocery stores all over the world, with some ground red pepper between every two leaves in the can. The leaves’ essential oils provide their strong taste. Fresh leaves have an aroma reminiscent of apples and mint, and are eaten in salad dishes. The flavor is distinct from Japanese perilla, and the leaf appearance is different, as well – larger, rounder, flatter, with a less serrated edge, and often a violet coloring on the reverse side. Perilla oil (deulgireum, 들기름) is extracted from the seeds; the cake can be used as animal feed. Perilla oil has a rich taste and scent slightly resembling dark sesame oil (chamgireum, 참기름). Perilla seed can be cooked with meals, roasted, crushed to intensify its taste and/or mixed with sesame and salt.
    Vietnam
    Vietnamese cuisine uses a variety similar to the Japanese hojiso, but with greenish bronze on the top face and purple on the opposite face. The leaves are smaller and have a much stronger fragrance than hojiso. In Vietnamese, it is called tía tô, derived from the characters (紫蘇) whose standard pronunciation in Vietnamese is tử tô. It is usually eaten as a garnish in rice vermicelli dishes called bún and a number of stews and simmered dishes.
    South Asia
    Silam plant in Panchkhal, Nepal
    In Nepal, Kumaun and parts of India, it is called silam (सिलाम) and Bhangira. Its seeds are roasted and ground with salt, chillies and tomatoes to make a savoury dip/side dish or chutney.
    Chemistry
    In terms of dietary compounds in the plant, the pronounced flavor and aroma of shiso derives from perillaldehyde,[4] but this substance is lacking in the “wild sesame” and “sesame leaf” variety. Other aromatic essential oils present are limonene,[4] caryophyllene,[4] and a very rich source of the essential nutritional omega-3 fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid,
    Nutritional value
    Perilla leaves are high in the minerals calcium, iron, and potassium, rich in fiber and riboflavin, and very high in vitamins A and C.[8] It has anti-inflammatory properties, and is thought to help preserve other foods.
    Anti-inflammatory Agent
    Shiso has been long used to treat chronic inflammatory conditions like eczema, asthma, hay fever, and rheumatoid arthritis and contemporary scientific research validates this use. Whereas some have concerns about treating these conditions with steroids, Shiso is a safe and effective means of combating inflammation without the side effects associated with steroid use.

    Shiso Leaf

    Use shiso leaves just as you would basil leaves to make a delicious very unique pesto.
    Recipe:
    About 2 cups tightly packed washed and dried Shiso leaves into a food processor.
    Add juice of 2 lemons
    Add a 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
    2 cloves crushed garlic
    1/4 cup of the best extra virgin olive oil you can find
    3/4 cup walnuts that have been soaked and dehydrated
    1/4 cup pine nuts
    Blend till well incorporated.
    Taste and adjust flavors as needed can also add more olive oil if needed for more creamy texture add more pine nuts.
    I was at a retreat and brought some of this pesto for lunch to put on raw crackers with avocado and tomato and shared with those around me. Well, the jar emptied quickly and some said their body was really craving whatever this leaf had to offer. Some described the taste as smokey, mineral rich like a sea vegetable, complex and intriguing  and everyone asked for more!
    So how about you finding a new secret plant friend and getting to know them and discovering all the great gifts it has waiting inside to share!
    Some other fun pesto ideas are : Spinach and Mushroom pesto, Cilantro and Pistachio, Stinging Nettles and Walnuts, and of course lots of basil varations as well
    use the basic recipe concept and create with your own taste and imagination!
    Oh, how do I use pesto you say?
    Oh my Gosh, I can’t count the ways…
    It goes great on cucumber rounds or carrot, celery, jicama, broccoli, lettuce rolls, or collard wraps, raw crackers, a dollop in warm soups, between tomato slices, with pear slices (in fact Shiso pesto and pear was my lunch today) and of course zucchini pasta and lasagna as well as sea vegetable pasta. Stack avocado and pesto, then tomato then more pesto onto a raw seeded cracker and you have an amazing nourishing easy lunch. Try it instead of mayo on your gluten free bread even on toast for breakfast! Put some on your salad and take it anywhere with you, just keep it cool and enjoy within a few days of making it or freeze it and use in the cold winter days to remind you of your summer garden as it dissolves into your warm veggie soup.
    EN JOY!!

  • Aug 5

    O.K. so we all have our childhood favorite foods. You know the one that brings back an interior longing that you just don’t have full control of. The one that will make you forget anything bad ever happened.

    Well I had a love affair with Black Raspberry Ice Cream that was made by a man we all called “old man Locke” even my Dad called him that, so he must of been ancient!  His recipe was a secret and he kept it in a safe and never even let the employees know the full recipe. His son was offered it if he agreed to go into the Ice Cream Business but he wanted to be a lawyer instead so the recipe was distroyed before Mr Locke died. True story, I just learned from my sister in New Hampshire when I was back for a visit.  We would get Ice Cream as a treat for weeding an entire field  of corn. So the thought of that divine cool burst of flavor kept us going on a hot summer day. It was not cheap and would rival the cost of any gourmet Ice Cream today but my Dad would gladly pay up the $20.00 a gallon (in the late 50′s)  in exchange for  a good crop of corn.

    So I don’t have wild Black Raspberries here in California but I do have LOTS of  wild Blackberries and they will do just fine for my childhood  memory re-creation.  Now some of you will be bragging about the new and improved “Thornless” Blackberries and I did try them but although they are big and sweet, they took out some wild intense flavor with the thorns as often happens when we mess with mother nature. Plus you need the sweat and scratches to make the Ice Cream taste that much better!!

    So my gift to you and all the Leos celebrating their birthdays in August is this newly released recipe. Everybody knows at least one Leo in their life as it is the most populated astrology sign. Just think that after summer comes cool weather and snuggling and nine months later their is another Leo baby. We had three Leo  babies in my family of 12 kids.

    First start with

    ~ 3 cups of Wild Blackberry Puree.

    Pick, wash, blend, and strain blackberries to get 3 cups.

    On my hike I was able to get a handful and keep walking eating one at a time and just when I ran out another bush with another handful would be right there.On my way home I got so much abundance I had to use my hat to hold them all and it worked perfectly for a whole batch of Ice Cream.

    So the secret to great Ice Cream often lies in the cream. Those that don’t think out side the box are stumped by what to use but conventional dairy cream which is acidic. But, the best fat and creams for our bodies come from plants!! The top three are Coconut, Avocado and Olive oil. So my pick for this use is coconut and to make it as fresh and wild as the berries I used, young Thai coconuts. “The best way to get comfortable opening a coconut is to open a case at a time” that’s what we heard in chef school as I was terrified to crack this dense intimidating structure. So after a few dozen cases it has become an easy task. the first thing to do is to get a cleaver that has a metal handle from a Asian store. They are usually about $15.00 not at all as expensive as you might think. DO NOT  get an expensive super sharp one from a knife store because you are going to hack it to pieces practicing.

    ~ Add the soft pulp of 3 young Thai Coconuts

    Next shave down the pointed top until there is just hard shell remaining. Make a insertion into the shell between the  lines or rib on top. Holding the knife handle with one hand and  the coconut base with the other  gently drop both together and  let gravity  puncture the coconut shell with hardly any effort. It is really easy and totally safe. Once the                                                                   

    coconut is punctured set it upright and keeping your hands behind the blade work open and twist off the top. This will require a few cases a coconut to get it right but will worth the practice as the inside makes fantastic coconut yogurt and kifer. I also blend and freeze the coconut in ice cube trays for smoothies and other desserts. So it is easy to use up the coconuts in your practice. Drain the water and set aside to make kifer later. (Simply put a very good pro biotic powder or vegan kifer grains into the strained liquid and keep in a warm place  till it looks cloudy usually one or two days) For yogurt mix some coconut water and pulp together with pro biotic and let set in a warm place for  the same one or two days and add fruit or vanilla and you will never go back to pasteurized store bought or any other kind of dairy again!!

    Scrape the inside pulp and place in blender with the puree and other ingredients and blend till very smooth.

    In the June 2006 issue of “Ceylon Medical Journal.” Penni Shelton, author of “Raw Food Cleanse,” says the fat in young coconut meat can help improve the body’s immune system and anti-inflammatory responses. Coconut has been used for many generations in a variety of medicinal ways. It kills germs, has anti-aging properties, increases metabolism and helps prevent cancer. Coconut meat contains several nutrients that support good health and prevent illnesses.Coconuts are the highest natural source of electrolytes, and they have the highest level of energy with the least amount of calories.

    One note to make: Do not buy coconut water in cans as a substitute for the whole nut as it is often pasteurized and thus killing all the good health benefits and promoting more “processed” food. It also drives up the price of fresh coconuts as the cans become easier and pricier and thus more profits with less real whole food value.
    You can also add a 1/2 cup of soaked cashews for a satiny texture OR use all cashews and almonds if you can’t get coconuts. Use just 1 cup soaked cashews and mix with almond milk.
    ~ Next Add 3 tablespoons of Irish Moss Gell
    If the idea of adding sea vegetables to your Ice Cream might gross you out then you certainly have not been reading your labels of processed foods. Since it is in everything that is a gel like texture including puddings and yes even your tooth paste!  Look for the ingredient carrageenan:

    Carrageenans or carrageenins (play /ˌkærəˈɡnənz/ KARR-ə-GHEE-nənz) are a family of linear sulfated polysaccharides that are extracted from red seaweeds. There are several varieties of carrageen used in cooking and baking. Kappa-carrageenan is used mostly in breading and batter due to its gelling nature. Lambda carrageenan is a non-gelling variety that assists in binding, retaining moisture, and in contributing to viscosity in sweet doughs. Iota carrageenan is used primarily in fruit applications and requires calcium ions to develop a heat-reversible and flexible gel.[1]

    Gelatinous extracts of the Chondrus crispus (Irish Moss) seaweed have been used as food additives for hundreds of years.[2] Carrageenan is a vegetarian and vegan alternative to gelatin.

    You can buy it on line or in Health food stores and looks like this when soaked for 4 or more hours:

    Because it is in it’s natural state it needs to be rinsed repeatedly at least four times to get all the sand and bits of other matter that is not the sea vegetable. once you soak and rise it then you simply put it in the blender usually with no added water but occasionally it might need some help getting started so a bit is o.k. to use. Here it is all blended up. It should smell very mild and not at all like the smelly stuff you walk by on the beach.

    Irish Moss is packed with awesome minerals and is the fail proof ingredients for raw pies and dessertsI keep a small amount in the fridge for a use in less than 10 days. The remainer of the batch gets frozen into cubes from ice cube trays and then placed in an airtight container in the freeer for use within 6 months. This is great for smoothies as a great way to enhance the gell and health factor.

    ~ Add  teaspoon of ground vanilla or even better to add the inside of a freshly scraped vanilla pod.

    ~ Add 1/2 cup of coconut nectar with a dropperful of vanilla stevia. It needs to be slightly sweeter due to the freezing making it taste less sweet.

    ~ A tiny pinch of Celtic sea salt and you are ready for blending and freezing!

    I use the Cuisinart Ice Cream Freezer and it works great!

    The freezer we used as a kid was a tall one that used chipped ice and rock salt. The latch was broken so it required someone usually the impatient youngest one to sit on top to hold it in place as an older sibling used the hand crank to get it to a soft serve consistency.

    There you have it Quite Possibility The Best Ice Cream In The World…. ( I am still creating and tasting so it is not definite yet!)

    Perhaps weeding an entire field of corn before consuming will improve the flavor slightly but I’ll take it as is!!!

  • Jul 30

    I have returned from the east coast the land of my birth with my husband who did not know much about the New England area.  His big pull was to go an have a really fresh Maine lobster or two!

    [

    Lobster was the "bait" to get him up the mountain

    We spent some time on the coast of Maine in Bar Harbor and got to talk to a couple of people in the business. The first was a young collage age couple that was selling lobster dinners right on the beach to summer tourist. His father and uncle trapped the lobsters and he cooked and sold them with his girlfriend.  The next day we met up with his girlfriend on the beach and I made a comment the she must be sick of eating lobster with it around all the time. Her response surprised me. She said that she was pregnant and was not consuming lobster due to the heavy metals such a mercury that came from industrial plants in Maryland and Virginia! I asked her how she knew about that and she replied her Dr. advised her to be cautious with sea food and especially bottom feeders like lobster as these metals can pass onto her fetus. Well this is not the only time I had heard about fisherman not eating their own fish as a sushi chef here in my home town cannot eat sushi due to an overload of mercury in his body. I was thinking about the expanding radiation on the west coast as a good idea to avoid seafood and now news about heavy metals were making it’s way to the east coast. The other news I got about lobsters was  from another gal that took us out on a kayak tour, she said that the lobsters were molting or shedding their shells a whole month early due to rising water temperatures!  Then she told me the population of lobsters had increased so much that the supply was plentiful and her dad and brothers were not even going out to get them until they could do better than $3.99 per pound!  Interesting, a whole month early, and the new shells make the lobsters so fragile that they cannot ship them without a large loss so it was up to the tourist to eat them and August was the peak tourist season not July. So we might expect an over population of lobsters due to the lobster boats not going to get them and the tourist not eating enough.  The restaurants were not offering them to tourist for $3.99 but charging the usual high price. Only the Lobster Pound places were giving the lower price. So the greed of the restaurants might actually save a few lobster’s lives, now that’s a switch!!

    Anyway we did indulge in a lobster dinner while there and we biked, paddled, hiked and even my husband got to co-pilot a plane over the coast on a truly spectacular day! We know how to detox heavy metals with our far infra red sauna  and Cilantro, Zeolite, Chlorella, Spirulina and by taking the supplement DMSA (Dimercaptosuccinic Acid). Also with a hugh amount of antioxidants! Ask your Homeopath to assist you in testing for heavy metals and a proper detox that is right for you. Especially if you are a regular lover of seafood such as salmon or sushi or even lots of lobster!  Even breathing air can overload your system with pollutants and contaminants. Did you know having too many heavy metals can block the absorption of minerals and can cause a deficit and a host of other problems as well?  I didn’t, until I spent time doing testing and chelation with a fantastic doctor that goes around the world doing educational seminars to other doctors. In fact it was chelation that saved my husband from chemotherapy from a radiologists!  The heavy metals were preventing  production of white blood cells and since removing heavy metals he is doing fantastic and now I am chasing him up higher and higher peaks!

    Four hours of strenous climbing over some hefty boulders and we arrived!

    This is what the term Functional Medicine is all about! First remove what is toxic then add what is nutritious and needed then let the body heal itself!

    The body certainly is a wonder. When I was decending I lost footing on a slippery wet rock and felt a minor “tweek” in my ankle. I sat still and had a talk with my body and said that the fall did not hurt my ankle and that I was going to decend down the mountain without any difficulty. Sure enough I got up and started walking and did not need to stop to rest for the next 3 hours. Later when I got into a very hot bath my ankle reminded me of my words of “decend down the mountain” and it swelled up and complained loudly.  I had some St. John’s oil and applied it liberally every 20 minutes and kept it elevated and took no pain pills although I had some nearby, because it hurt that bad,  just in case. With a little ice and lots of relaxing it was completely back to normal by morning.  I knew from my herbalist teacher Kathi Kaville to not walk on it as the body still needed time to complete the healing even though the pain was gone. So I stayed off it as we drove back to my sister’s house and for the next day after. I have had no problems with it since. SO, be sure to include some St. John’s oil in your first aid kit for climbing or any activity that might involve a strain!!  Just pick some in mid June when the  sunny yellow flowers are in full bloom and let sit in olive oil for a few weeks until you get a nice red color. Most of us think of this as a “blues buster” herb now you know it can be a sprain healer as well.

    A delightful oasis of pure nutrition in North Conway New Hampshire

    Talk about a great find for awesome nutrition, I found this little “Hole in the wall” smoothie bar. I had a great chat with this woman and she is loving her new learnings with David Wolfe and Gabriel Cousens and all the other plant loving educators . The other two owners are sisters that have overcome serious health issues with smoothies and juicing and lots of vegetables. They had just opened in the last couple of weeks and were still getting established and told me they would blend whatever  extra I wanted to supply. They told me where the organic produce was in town and that a delivery had just been made that day. So I loaded up with a bunch of kale, cilantro, spinach and fresh blueberries with some pineapple juice and hemp seeds. It was all blended up and we got one quart each for our hike up Mt. Washington and  we had tons of energy for the entire hike.

    Back at my sister’s I got to spend time with my neice and nephew as well as one of their friends and we had a blast doing kitchen alchemy and made all kinds of fun and delicious snacks and desserts. It is not a surprise that kids love sweet things and it is always easier to start with dessert first when introducing a new way of eating. My sister has been vigoriously educating herself on the effects of blood sugar spikes and wanted some ways to get the whole family on board to accept new ideas. She got the right person to help her and we created some faboulous decadent desserts that would pass the glucose monitor test.  I always take my tiny monitor with me so I can be alert of any changes in my diet and what effect it has. If you don’t own a monitor you don’t know your numbers and you are simply guessing weather or not your sugar levels are spiking! After my great 6 month program with Dr. Rita Marie Loscalzo I am so much more educated about the harmful effects of a single sugar spike. I am so grateful to of had this education so I never will let myself get to the point of needing insulin which causes so many more health complications. A simple awareness and change of diet and no sugar problems at any age!!

    We used dates to start and made brownies but noted that they were really sweet however they did contain a lot of minerals and fiber to off set the sweetness some. We started to experiment

    Out of the pool and eating home made brownies in less than 20 minutes!!

    with other sweetners such as coconut sugar, yacon syrup and of course stevia we used the lemon and vanilla flavor to reduce the bitter after taste. We moved onto making dairy free Ice Creams and shakes using hemp seeds and cashews and then onto  fresh mint and blueberry  tarts as well as an incredible raspberry chocolate torte. We moved slowly into smoothies with a handful of greens. They decided to call them slushies because it is like a 7-eleven drink.  The drink that has ice with lots of flavors (mostly sugar water).

    Since I left they now take turns making slushies and add fruits and greens with lots of ice. A high speed blender was purchased, the Blentec model, and away they are headed. It is not easy for any yankee to change direction as any of you from the area will attest but small gradual baby steps and anything is possible! I hope this new quick easy way of making a drink will help throughout their high school years and they will understand that making your own desserts is fun, quick and incrediblly tasty. Eventually the need for sweets will dissapate and more and more alkaline foods will take over so the body actually craves greens!! Yes it can happen, and has happened to me. I really need my green fix to keep myself balanced. But a little bit of processed foods and the cycle will grab you and it can be a struggle to let  it go again. So I like to do green juices when I return from a trip to kick start the alkaline back on top.

    With this time of gardens in full production it is a great time to grab a cucumber, carrot, tomato as your fast food fix. Just keep them washed and ready to grab!

    Now that I am home it is time to gleen my own garden and start the fall seedlings for great spinach, kale, and bok choy to get me through the winter.

  • May 31

    Once you have a base cracker layer anything goes for the toppings.....

    Summer is here,  the garden is in and I am ready for some exploring and adventures. How about you? I hear a lot of people say they love road trips because they get to eat all the junk food that they normally would not touch!  Really?.. that sounds so crazy. When you  change your environment it is important to take along your healthy new habits with you so you continue to feel great. “Nothing like a” junk food coma” to ruin a trip for you and your companions!”

    I have just gotten back from a five day journey into the dessert with my husband and his new/used red truck.  We went to Joshua Tree National Park in Southern California and drove the back way and  we encountered a snow blizzard and temperatures in the high 20′s. Then once we arrived the temperatures were in the high 80′s!  Good lesson to be prepared for anything and keep flexible. I made a veggie soup that could be eaten warm or cold and the snow was a good reason to heat it up, but it was just as delicious when the weather got hot to eat it cool like gazpacho.

    Days before we left the dehydrator was humming merrily along with great yummies and I will share some of them with you now.

    The first is the basic layer of the cracker to build on.  This version was a favorite  great seller at the Farmer’s Market last summer. I call  it the “Four Seeds Cracker”

    To make it start soaking about two cups of each: Raw Pumpkin Seeds, Raw Sunflower Seeds, Raw Brown Sesame Seeds. Soak them separately for about 4 hours and rinse and drain till the water runs clear and place in strainers.  Also mix about a cup of chia seeds with a gallon jug of water and place the lid on and shake it till the seeds are separate and shake it again once in a while to make sure it dose not clump. Let the chia soak for a couple of hours, the chia will absorb and swell and look like clear tapioca. This is not  hard science in the soaking so don’t panic about a few extra hours or even overnight. The chia will swell up and fill the gallon jar, this can be kept in the fridge for other snack makings and to add to smoothies and puddings.   Now place the three drained seeds into a large bowl and squeeze the juice of two lemons on them. This brightens flavors and allows you to use less salt.

    Now for the fun stuff of picking the spices you want… I like the taste of Caraway and put a handful of Whole Caraway as well as a  tablespoon of freshly Crushed Caraway into the seeds. Add some salt and chia as directed below.

    The other favorite is Oregano, Marjoram, Rosemary,and a bit of Thyme  and this is also a good time to add powered sun dried tomatoes and a bit of onion powder. to make a “Pizza” Cracker.

    My friend loves a hint of Lavender so you can add Herbs De Provence and go with that  French theme.

    Feel free to divide the batch up after mixing in the lemon juice and make some of each. Make up your own version and try some sea vegetables such as ground Dulse or sea palm.  You need to add a lot of spices to get them to flavor. Once you are happy with the spices by tasting the mixture then add some sea salt a little at a time tasting as you go. Remember to play  with flavors and know they will get eaten with amazing goodies on top like avocado and Macadamia nut cheese and tomato so don’t fret and enjoy the process. Next add about 2 cups of chia gell and mix well with a very large wooden spoon.  Taste again and see if anything needs adjustment like a bit more salt or more spices.

    If you wanted to go for a sweeter cracker you can add some finely shredded coconut to the mixture and maybe take it in a more Asian direction with curry and cumin. I however, like the basic Mediterranean style and let the toppings be the star.

    Add enough chia gel to hold the whole mixture together about a cup or two. Remember chia is an excellent source of omega 3 and high in protein so having too much is not a problem and it dehydrates into a firmer cracker with more chia.

    Now scoop out about 3 cups of mixture and spread onto a teflex sheet on top of the mesh sheet so that the mixture is an even 1/4 inch thick and “score” them into cracker sizes of your choice.

    I like to have  all the  seeds whole  ( less oxidation) it can be tricky to score  the whole pumpkin seeds but it does work out. For a more refined cracker you can lightly pulse some of the mixture in a food processor and mix with the whole seeds.

    Dehydrate overnight at 105 degrees then flip over using another  mesh sheet and dehydrate until nice and crisp sometimes another 4 hours or more depending on the moisture in the air and the thickness of the cracker. I store them in a airtight glass container to take along to prevent breakage and to preserve the fragile oils in the seeds. In the cooler or fridge is best but  keeping them cool with shade is also o.k. for a short while.

    For the Macadamia Nut Cheese soak about a cup of Mac nuts for a couple of hours or overnight in the fridge. You can use Brazil nuts when Mac nuts are not available or use half Mac nuts and half  Brazil nuts. Make sure they are raw!! A source to consider if you don’t have any  raw organic local options  is www.nutsonline.com

    Soaking is not critical but will result in creamer cheese. Drain, add the juice of a lemon and place them in a high speed blender. Next add  about a teaspoon and a half of chickpea miso (I mostly avoid soy products) along with a teaspoon of salt. Add water a couple of tablespoons at a time to get it to mix till thick and creamy like cream cheese. Pack in a glass airtight container such as a pint size mason jar and keep very cool. A dollop of this on the veggie soup was nothing less than sensuous!!

    You can add in some chives but I kept them separate and added them fresh so I could have more variety on what to use for topping the cracker base. Of course, avocado is always a favorite and very satisfying. I love the taste of dulse on top as well. I used sauerkraut with the cheese and tomato one time and it was also fantastic, So experiment and make some tomato sauce, guacamole, or pesto and just decorate and get creative.  One of my found memories of my visit to Norway was their version of  brunch with lots of little bowls of creative  toppings. You start with a cracker and add whatever you want, sort of like a cracker picnic! Lots of fun and everyone gets exactly what they want plus you can eat it with a big napkin, I like to bring cloth ones, and use the cracker as your plate! No dishes to clean, fast clean up and very easy to have again and again, just using different toppings.

    A Bounty of Colorful "Chips"

    Package chips, no matter how “healthy” the front of the  package boast, has rancid oil that was heated well above 300 degrees and causes all kind of issues with the liver to detox that nasty stuff  from your system. Even a baked chip, if you can find them, has been processed to the point it is no longer real food for your cells and organs. It was a difficult surprise for me to learn that Organic Corn chips are NOT health food. Just remember  your new slogan “NOTHING IN A PACKAGE” and your life will be easier than trying to believe a label to justify an addiction.

    Somehow, we crave crunchy things when we are driving and this delightful bowl of fresh crunchy veggies is a great alternative to salt laden process foods. Now these may not be very exciting to some people  who don’t normally eat veggies so I pulled out the gourmet twist and created the perfect sauce to go with these that will get even the pickiest eater to dive into their veggies. I just got my last CSA box  of the winter season the day before we left so I washed and prepped as much as I could for ready made finger food.

    "Cheddar Cheese" Dip

    Now for the “Secret” Sauce…..

    This is so simple you will laugh and make it just to fool your friends. First wash and cut a large red bell pepper and cut into large chunks and put it into your high speed blender. Then  take a cup of raw cashews add the juice of a lemon, or two if they are small, and about a 1/2 teaspoon of salt and press the button! Usually you need no added water as the pepper is mostly water. There you go, now taste it and be amazed. For  more cheesy flavor add a teaspoon of chickpea miso. For an added kick add some cayenne or chipotle chili powder to taste. This will keep for a week or more if kept really cold in the cooler. You can also use this as a mayo for your crackers or lettuce or collard wraps! This cheese is a winner at any pot luck and usually disappears quickly. The cashews blend smoother if soaked for a couple of hours but finding chunks of cashews is not a problem either! The color is all from the red pepper. Experiment with Orange and yellow peppers and add a pinch of turmeric for a more yellow sauce with added antioxidants from the turmeric. This is a fast and easy  summer staple  to keep in the fridge to munch down lots of different garden goodies on the run.

    Oh, please don’t buy the small pre washed carrots as I read an article about them washing them in bleach to make them last longer… Yuck, I know…, just don’t trust any package!

    How about some calcium to keep you hiking up tall and wonderous terrain? One of the best sources of calcium is in a tiny  seed. Yep, the tiny sesame seed is loaded with calcium and now we just have to make it portable. When I am home I like to make sesame milk by soaking brown sesame seeds overnight and after a rinse and drain then add 3 cups water to one cup seeds and blend on high till smooth. Now these are pretty bitter so adding dates is fine with this as well as a bit of vanilla powder and a pinch of salt. I strain it through a fine mesh strainer and can feel my bones soaking up the mineral rich nectar. Good to do every couple of weeks or more if you are not absorbing calcium through your greens and you need extra.

    The greens that came  from the  Farmer’s CSA box was bok choy  and kale this week, I made  some of them into smoothies, with blueberries, lemon juice and cinnamon and some hemp seeds. Use some vanilla stevia for extra sweetness. I put  the mixture into  mason jars and froze it overnight leaving about a third of the top empty for expansion. This made a smart addition to the cooler to keep things cool and by the time it was defrosted we had nice cool smoothies waiting after a  long hot hike! Another easy breakfast idea was Coconut Chia Pudding that I learned to make from Dr. Rita Marie Loscalzo’s course on lowering blood sugar.  Simple recipe of : A cup or two of blueberries (frozen and  thawed is fine) a squeeze of lemon, a tablespoon of cinnamon, with a pinch of each cardamon and ginger add some vanilla stevia and a 1/4 cup of chia seeds with a half cup of coconut flakes. Blend till smooth and add toppings of  whole blueberries, nuts and extra coconut. This also freezes well and can be eaten after one or two days on the road. Tastes like blueberry pie!! Since it is blueberry season I need to use up my supply from last summer and they are excellent for so many health reasons it will take another blog to brag about them!

    Blueberry Pie Pudding!

    For this journey I decided to not bring anything electrical and left my hand blender behind so I created this colorful calcium rich, ginger packed, mineral dense sweet trail bar.

    Sesame, Ginger, Gogi, Sea Palm, Crunchies


    When you are soaking sesame seed for your crackers above you can soak extra sesame seeds and make these at the same time like I did. Next juice a giant claw of ginger to get about a half cup of juice and add to the soaked, rinsed and drained seeds. I use both brown and black sesame seeds for color and added nutrients, then crunch up a handful of sea palm and add that to the mixture. Add about a handful of gogi berries and for added sweetness add some currents or cut up raisins. I use coconut palm nectar to help sweeten the bitter seeds and add a 1/2 cup to the whole mixture. Now comes the binding agent,  use the extra chia gell  from your gallon mixture from above. About a cup or 1  1/2 cup  should  hold the sesames together to form a “glob” . Spread onto a teflex sheet, score into the size you want and add to the dehydrator with the crackers. Dehydrate overnight at 110 degrees and then flip over till crisp.  Keep these airtight in a glass jar and take a few with you on the trail or have them when you return. They keep well in the fridge or freezer for 6 weeks.

    For more snacks to make from your seeds… here are another couple of ideas as long as you are soaking and dehydrating go for it and  fill up all nine racks of your  Excalibur Dehydrator.

    Sea-Veg "Jerky" and Sweet and Salty Pumpkin Seed Snack

    To the left is an easy chewy “jerky” texture that is packed with nutrition and taste. Take extra soaked sunflower seeds that have been soaked and rinsed for the crackers above and use about a cup and a half or what ever you have left over. put into a food processor and add one whole bunch of cilantro that has been washed and loosely chopped with a lemon juiced and a teaspoon of gluten free Tamari and process until a paste is formed. You can add a bit more water if needed and again according to your taste you can add ginger or cayenne to make it how ever you like it. Spread the mixture about 1/8 inch thick onto a nori sheet and top with another nori sheet and smooth out. Dehydrate overnight and then cut into strips or squares and dehydrate some more to get the texture you want.

    Pumpkin Munchin:

    The pumpkin seeds were divided in half and add a tablespoon of Tamari to one half and a tablespoon of Yacon syrup to the other half and spread out onto the mesh sheet and dehydrate till crunchy. Add some golden berries or cranberries and there you go, another  healthy fun sensation for your taste buds!

    Just when you can’t imagine anything more… then there is dessert!

    Easy Breezy Brownies

    Five ingredient in 15 minutes with no stove and you are done!!  These freeze well and I have them in 3 inch baking cups but you could use a paper liner in cupcake pans.

    Simple add soaked and dehydrated walnuts pecans or both whatever you have on hand. One cup is fine then add 1/2 cup of soften (place in dehydrator for 10 minutes)  pitted dates and 1/2 cup cacao powder or carob or half of each. and a teaspoon of powdered vanilla and a pinch of salt and process until it resembles a batter like consistency. Press into molds  till about 1 1/2 inch thick, dust with cacao and add nuts to decorate. They keep well in the cooler and are a great  ”pick me up” snack when the long drive back is getting too long!!

    Hope you enjoy your summer in full throttle and keep your  adventurous spirit alive in your healthy lifestyle as well.

    Here are a few more EASY treats

    such as  green apple slices with almond butter,

    and a fresh squeezed lemon into a quart of water with a few drops of “Lemon Drop Stevia” add a tablespoon of chia and you have an refreshing Chia Freska that is great at keeping you hydrated.

    I like to munch sea palm right from the package with a few soaked and dried almonds to round out the flavor (this is great for hikes!).

    Chilled grapefruit are awesome on a hot trip just peel and eat like an orange, be sure to get the fantastic bioflavonoids in the white part too!

    How about  pre-washed cool organic romaine lettuce leaves, they are full of water and vitamins and taste great alone!

    When we did stop at a restaurant at the end of the trip  for breakfast I brought my own tea bag and almond milk and just ordered a bowl of plain oatmeal and hot water. No fuss no problem and they were more than accommodating when I explained I did not eat dairy or sugar. Salads are easy and you can bring your own dressing, rice and veggies are also fairly common  place when in a bind.

    By all means: PLAY WITH YOUR FOOD!

    Food is FUN

    A healthy, low glycemic, gluten free, soy free, dairy free, animal free diet is full of COLOR, FLAVOR, CREATIVITY  and EASE!!

  • Apr 17
    I always get questions about this Health Drink  at every class. I used to make this at home for a while a few years back. I stopped drinking it myself after researching the “mother” as a fungus and how many variables it can have. My biggest concern is that  whatever bacteria happens to float by gets into the drink (ie. black mold). I spoke with a doctor that explained about fermentation, if we could test for what micro flora are missing in us and add that, then we would be more in balance then to just overload with one type.  That made sense to me and I am more incline to use a very good  pro biotic  such as EJUVA brand to culture my coconut yogurt and kifer. Also Donna Gate’s website has excellent information on fermented foods. Check out more about this at the end of this article.  I  think a small amount of sauerkraut with meals is an excellent idea to aid digestion. I observed people becoming “hooked” on kombucha and all sorts of homemade varieties showing up at potlucks.  The original version from Nourishing Traditions used black tea and white sugar and claimed that all the caffeine and sugar was gone after fermentation. That’s NOT how it reacted in my body and I suggest that you also notice if  after having kombucha you start looking forward to having more and more, that you consider this an imbalance.  I observed that people that like fermented drinks seem to drink more alcohol such as beer and wine, all alcohol turns to sugar once ingested. So I don’t drink it anymore. The price last week in a store was as much as $3.50 for one small bottle, that is also another good reason to not drink it. Whole Foods pulled it from the shelves when they tested some batches and it exceeded the alcohol levels and now it has a sign that says you must be 21 years old to purchase it. So, young kids could be getting a bit of a buzz while  enjoying all that fizzy feeling.  I know if you are really attached to something it might be hard to hear both sides but it is important to make your food choices with a full education and checking in with your own body. I found this  well researched article and wanted to share it with you. If  kombucha works for you and you have a reliable clean source then by all means continue on your health journey and let your own body be your guide!
    Here is the article:
    Kombucha is a fermented tea that has gained lots of popularity and a substantial following in recent years. Many people drink for its assumed medicinal benefits; it is most commonly known for boosting the body’s immune system. Some say the drink can work miracles with benefits including curing baldness, detoxifying the body, repairing joints, curing cancer, reducing blood pressure and prolonging life.
    It is said that kombucha originated in ancient China and was used as a health tonic for thousands of years, but various forms of fermented tea exist in other countries as well. Since the 19th century, fermented tea was used in Russia; they referred to it as “tea kvass”.
    Kombucha is a SCOBY – symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeasts. It is a fermented drink made with tea (usually green or black), sugar, bacteria and yeast. Even though it’s often referred to as kombucha mushroom tea, kombucha is not a mushroom; it’s a colony of bacteria and yeast. The natural, vegan beverage contains organic acids, B vitamins, amino acids, polyphenols, enzymes, probiotics and traces of ethyl alcohol, depending on brewing time and conditions.[i]
    In order to make kombucha, brewers rely on what’s called a starter – a bit of already fermented tea- referred to as “the mother.” Once the mother is added to sweetened tea and allowed to sit in a glass jar unrefrigerated for 7 -14 days, a colony of bacteria and yeast grows above the surface. This “mother” will expand and split into smaller pieces termed “babies,” which brewers can give to friends or sell. [ii]
    Though Kombucha has had a rise in the last few years it is the second wave of its popularity. The first wave was in the early 1990s when it was thought to boost immunity in people with HIV/AIDS. At that time it wasn’t as readily available.
    In 1995, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a report linking kombucha to the death of a woman and the illness of another woman. Both women experienced excessive acid buildup in the body that health professionals correlated to their daily dose of kombucha. The center did not definitively cite the tea as the culprit but the incident made people hesitant to make kombucha a part of their daily lives.
    In 2003-2004 the slightly fizzy, sour & sweet drink- Kombucha made its return. At that time Whole Foods began distributing the tea nationally. In 2009, kombucha and other “functional” juices in the United States topped $295 million that year, according to SPINS Inc., a market researcher.
    Kombucha’s popularity was growing as a part of a larger trend in “probiotic” foods containing bacteria, which some studies suggest benefit digestion and boost the immune system.
    Studies assessing the benefits of kombucha involving humans are lacking; all studies available have been done with animals. It is good to note though that there have been numerous individual accounts that Kombucha has helped people with digestion, arthritis and even cancer.
    In an interview by the Pittsburgh Post Gazette in 2007, commercial kombucha brewer G.T. Dave, credited kombucha for possibly slowing the spread of an aggressive form of breast cancer that his mother dealt with and for keeping up her strength and spirit during chemotherapy.[iii] The experience sparked her teenage son’s interest and later his business.
    Research has shown that kombucha may have anti-microbial effects against harmful bacteria like E. coli. A Serbian study published in 2007 looked into combining Kombucha with other herbs. The study demonstrated that lemon balm kombucha showed strong antimicrobial effects against E. coli and Salmonella bacteria and it inhibited the growth of Staphylococcus aureus. It was shown that kombucha made from lemon balm tea had higher antioxidant activity than lemon balm tea alone, probably due to vitamins added by the fermentation process.[iv]
    Promoters of kombucha also claim it protects the liver from damage. An Indian study done on animals in 2009, gave carbon tetrachloride to induce liver damage and then assessed the impact of kombucha tea along with black tea and enzyme-processed tea. Researchers found that kombucha tea had more protective effects than the other two teas.[v]
    Kombucha “has prophylactic and therapeutic properties” including antimicrobial, antibacterial, and antifungal effects, according to a study destined for the June 2012 issue of Swiss Society of Food Science and Technology. Its authors state that kombucha “may be very healthful” in combating yeast infections, thrush, and other forms of candidiasis.[vi]
    Unfortunately there aren’t too many studies that help asses all of the benefits that people connect to drinking Kombucha. Scientific evidence on kombucha’s benefits is just in the preliminary stages but there are numerous individual testimonials from people who drink kombucha reporting benefits like enhanced wellbeing, increased energy and weight loss and many other benefits.
    Some medical professionals, however, think the drink is dangerous. According to Dr. Michael Gregor, a physician, author, and internationally recognized  speaker, Kombucha may be harmful to your health. Published last year, the journal of Intensive Care Medicine states that, “kombucha may cause serious health risks and consumption of this tea should be discouraged.”
    Renowned doctor, Andrew Weil is concerned with the same health risk that Dr. Gregor mentions, lactic acidosis (the build-up of lactic acid). According to Dr. Weil’s article, physicians at Cedars-Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles reported a life-threatening case of lactic acidosis and acute kidney failure in a 22-year-old man newly diagnosed with HIV within a few hours of his consuming kombucha tea. This happened in 2009. Dr. Weil specifically warns pregnant women, nursing mothers, the elderly, children and anyone with a compromised immune system against consuming it.
    Dr. Weil is concerned with the possibility of contamination in home-brewed kombucha. “Some batches contain aspergillus, a toxin-producing fungus. This would be a significant risk for individuals with compromised immune systems, such as those with AIDS or in chemotherapy for cancer. There have been reports in the medical literature of adverse reactions, including nausea, vomiting and headaches, in people drinking more than four ounces of kombucha tea daily.”[vii]
    The U.S. Food and Drug Administration also noted that the potential for contamination of kombucha tea is high because the teas are often brewed in homes in non-sterile environments. Plus if kombucha tea is brewed in ceramic pots, the acids in the tea may pull lead from the ceramic material which would lead to lead poisoning.[viii]
    Dr. Weil says that he knows of no health benefits from Kombucha. He also adds that kombucha has become extremely popular, in part due to photos of celebrities such as Lindsay Lohan and Halle Berry carrying bottles of the beverage and in part by promotion of the idea that it’s a healthy drink.
    Lastly, the American Cancer Society states that available scientific evidence does not support any claims that Kombucha tea can promote good health or prevent the development of certain ailments. The scientific studies that involve Kombucha tea are based on lab reports and animal findings, and reported benefits are based on personal reports.[ix]
    It seems as if the arguments both ways could benefit from more substantial evidence and studies. Do you drink Kombucha tea? Please post your comments.
    [i] http://www.livestrong.com/article/310286-kombucha-health-benefits/#ixzz1raHk9lK8
    [ii] http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/25/fashion/25Tea.html
    [iii] http://old.post-gazette.com/pg/07158/791991-34.stm#ixzz1raLbaJVx
    [iv] http://www.livestrong.com/article/310286-kombucha-health-benefits/
    [v] http://www.livestrong.com/article/480950-about-kombucha-tea-and-liver-cancer/
    [vi] http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2012/02/28/is-celebrity-favorite-kombucha-really-a-health-and-anti-aging-cure.html
    [vii] http://www.drweil.com/drw/u/QAA365602/Cured-by-Kombucha.html
    [viii] http://www.livestrong.com/article/399912-kombucha-tea-benefits-risks/
    [ix] http://www.livestrong.com/article/399912-kombucha-tea-benefits-risks/
    I don’t want to give the impression that we should not consume fermented foods at all so here is an exerpt from the Body Ecology website www.bodyecology.com that explains fermented food benefits to the largest organ of our body, our skin!
    Donna Gates is a relentless researcher and brilliant contributor for creating a healthy lifestyle. Please take the time and peruse her site to become more familiar with how to ferment foods for a stronger immune system.
    Here is what she has to say:

    You may know that beneficial flora in the gut empower the immune system throughout the body.

    Good gut bacteria actually talk to your body’s immune cells. A large mass of lymphoid tissue sits just beneath the intestinal tract. Gut bacteria can reduce inflammation. This is why including cultured foods in your daily diet is often helpful in alleviating inflammatory conditions associated with food sensitivities and a permeable intestinal lining. Sometimes inflammation beginning in the gut manifests in seemingly unrelated places, such as in the skin.

    Many people have found that a diet rich in friendly bacteria improves chronic skin conditions like acne, eczema and psoriasis.

    And research supports anecdotal findings. (1) (2) A great deal of scientific interest has been generated around the bacteria found on the interior and exterior of our bodies. It turns out that bacteria can be either symbiotic to our systems or pathogenic.

    Diet plays a large role in determining exactly which microbes populate your gut.

    For example, a diet that consists largely of processed foods and excessive sugar creates an environment that supports pathogenic microorganisms. Likewise, the more cultured foods, green leafy vegetables, seaweeds, and fermented microalgae that you ingest, the more likely it is that your body is home to beneficial microflora that enhance immune activity, the proper functioning of your digestive system, mental clarity, and physical energy.

    A great deal of energy and money is spent on over-the-counter and pharmaceutical preparations to help heal red, inflamed skin conditions like acne and eczema.

    Oftentimes, medical health care professionals prescribe antibiotics, corticosteroid creams, or other topical applications that use hormones to provide immediate relief to the skin. None of these treatments are effective long-term, and their benefits are short-lived. In fact, steroid creams can deeply affect the adrenal stress response. Estrogen enhanced skin creams can cause a toxic build-up of estrogen in the body, which can impair thyroid function.



    Yes, you can finally have healthy skin free from inflammatory conditions like acne, eczema, and psoriasis! By using a homemade facial made with fermented coconut meat, you can restore health to your skin with a boost of good bacteria.

    Repopulating the gut with good bacteria is the first step toward healing inflammatory skin conditions.

    This means eating fermented foods. Fermented foods are teeming with good bacteria and include traditional favorites like kimchee, sauerkraut, yogurt, and kefir. At Body Ecology, we suggest fermenting coconut water, rather than milk, as it is least associated with inflammatory food sensitivities.

The chef's choice of blenders.
Click on the image to get one for your kitchen!
This is the best and easiest to clean with great blending capacity! I have personally used this for every recipe that needs one button meals!

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