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Archive for the ‘heart health’ Category


Plants are friggin’ sexy. They have refined themselves through countless and fast life cycles to maximize their attractiveness to humans. Edible plants keep us sexy by helping us stay healthy, lean, youthful, energetic and glowy. Let me tell you a bit more.

Most of us don’t realize this, but plants that are exposed to more bugs (via fewer pesticides) actually have a stronger plant immunity. So yes, organic is usually better (there are some exceptions, and that’s another blog post, Darlin’.) Much like in the animal kingdom where the predator preys on the young and the weak, bugs prefer to eat weaker plants. They usually leave the stronger plants alone because strong plants produce their own pesticides & insecticides that repel creepy crawly pests. Essentially, the more bug exposure plants experience, the stronger the plants become because they are defending themselves by creating more of these endogenous* bug repellants. Gee, doesn’t that sound like a handy skill to have in during mosquito season?

The stress from pest exposure helps the strong plants become “super-duper” plants because they develop more endogenous phytochemicals**, while the creepy crawlies munch out on wimpier plants. This strong plant immunity results in tough anti-cancer, anti-aging, anti-disease compounds within the plant that are just waiting to join you and help you in defending your body against modern diseases, like cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and other unappealing diseases. *THANK YOU, PLANTS!* This all promotes a sexier, stronger you!

Get your sexy on! First, start with colors. Eating a rainbow of colors will supply you with a better variety of nutrients. Try a new plant or fruit each week. Edible plants provide you with the hot-ticket phytonutrients that people pay a wallop of cash to buy in the form of supplements. You might already be familiar with a few of them: lycopene, zeaxanthin, lutein, carotenes, and so on. FYI: Supplements can never replace real food. You get waaaay more from whole foods than from the sum of its manufactured parts!

Do us both a favor: save the money you would spend on supplements by purchasing and eating more plants. At the end of the day, you will still have money left over, and have me over for dinner for telling you this money-saving, health-saving tip! Plants are pretty sexy, don’t you think?

What are your favorite plants to eat? Which ones are repulsive to you? Please post your answer in the comments below. I want to hear from YOU, oh sexy plant eater!

Do you think this post is helpful? Please rate it, “like” it, and share it with others! And thanks for reading. Love ya!

Hugs and plant kisses,

Frances

Definitions:

* Endogenous: produced from within

**Phytochemical:  These are protective, disease-preventing, non-nutritive plant substances that are vital for preventing diseases.

Phyto = plant

+ Phytonutrients: essential nutrients that protect and promote life, found in plants.

 

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Eat foods that closely resemble their form and color when plucked from the dirt, tree, or vine. Think: how did my body evolve to eat food? (this is not a subtle plug for raw food diets, so don’t get excited!) The more processing your  food has undergone, the fewer nutrients are left to help keep your immunity strong. What’s more? Processing often introduces novel proteins & other foods (those that are new and unusual and therefore not known to your body), which increases your exposure to harmful substances. These chemicals are linked to modern chronic diseases, such as diabetes, cancer, arthritis, obesity, malabsorption, food intolerances, digestive disturbances and more. Bleh! That is definitely not sexy!

For all y’all vegetarians out there, take a look at your fake meats, fake cheeses, fake milks, protein supplements. The ingredients are usually NO BUENO, friends. (Full disclosure: I was a vegetarian for 13 years and developed severe food intolerances largely in thanks to those highly processed fake vegetarian foods.)

 

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Simple tip:
The next time your bananas are speckling into an over-ripened state, try this simple trick to buy yourself a few weeks of time before using them:
  1. Peel each banana
  2. Slice bananas into coin shapes, about 1/2-inch thick
  3. Freeze in a clear container – a freezer bag or an old yogurt container will work

The next time you need a quick pick-me up or a sweet fix, blend the frozen bananas with any of the following ingredients:

  1. Frozen berries, milk or yogurt, and a little frozen juice concentrate;
  2. Peanut or almond butter, milk and cinnamon.

You can also mash the bananas before freezing. Then thaw and use easily for banana bread or other recipes calling for added sweeteners (just add a little more liquid to the recipe than is called for.)

Health tip:

Bananas are effective in helping reduce diarrhea. Banana flakes are sometimes used to bulk up loose stool.

Please share this post!

Hugs and Kisses,

Frances

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I’ve felt a bit taxed the last few days, as though a cold is reaching its long, nasty tentacles for me. I made a super-immune booster drink in less than five minutes, and I’ve felt great ever since I consumed it this morning. It contains fresh carrots and orange juice, both which boast large amounts of immune-powering vitamin C and flavanones, which are specialty flavonoids that protect you from many diseases.

Ginger hosts potent antioxidants as well, and holds its own for biting back at cancer tumors. It’s known for its immune-enhancing properties in Ayurvedic medicine, and the story goes like this: ginger is hot, which opens pores and allows you to sweat out toxins. The toxins that don’t make it out through your pores can become neutralized by ginger because it is an anti-pyretic for the common cold. (Read more about Ayurveda and medicinal uses for ginger here.) Aromatically, ginger gives this drink an exciting and pungent kick, so start off with small amounts if you aren’t used to it.

Use ORGANIC. Organic supplies you with better nourishment than conventional, plus it will save your body from the burden of processing synthetic pesticides in your food.

Don’t be a weeny – drink the damn pulp! Unless you have a medical condition that forbids you consume fiber (and you probably don’t), you need your fiber. If you use a juicer for this recipe, add the pulp back into your juice.  The fiber is a *brilliant* gift of life, and your DNA evolved consuming A LOT of roughage. Most Americans are missing out on the valuable benefits fiber. The average American barely meets one-third to one-half of their recommended fiber intake. What a loss! Fiber improves your overall weight, too. It fills you for longer, which encourages you to eat less! If you weren’t filling up on fiber, chances are that you’d fill up on fat and carbs instead. It also slows the rate of sugar entering your blood, so your blood sugar is more stable. Real Americans eat fiber!

So there.  Drink and be merry for this glass of juice and all its fibery goodness. It’s a lovely smoothie. Give thanks you have tasty, life-giving foods. Be happy you aren’t drinking Sunny Delight or Hawaiian Punch.

Have another wonderful juice recipe? Please share it with us in the comments section below!

If you like this post, please share with your friends on email, twitter, facebook, or wherever you like.

Bottoms up,

Frances

Vitamix Blender

Makes 2 servings

Equipment needed: A mighty, mighty blender that is tough enough to puree carrots (I use a VitaMix). You can use a juicer, if you have one.

Assemble:

4 carrots, washed and chopped into chunks (sized appropriately for your blender) – avoid skinning them to retain nutrients.

2-4 Tbsp RAW ginger – peel ginger skin (don’t fuss over getting it all off, or you will ruin a pleasant evening). Chop coarsely. *If using powdered ginger, sprinkle it into juice lightly because it tastes about 6X stronger when powdered.

Optional: apple slices (leave skin on)

Orange or apple juice.

WAAAIT! Add a little water to this blender, shake and drink it down (or give it to your compost bucket).You can also scrape with a spatula. Don't let it go to waste -we're in a depression and resources are precious.

Combine carrots and ginger in your mighty, mighty blender. Fill with enough juice so that it just passes the top of the vegetable line. Puree. Add more juice if needed. Taste and adjust the ginger or any other flavors, if needed.

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Our right to good and healthy food choices is threatened by intense global demand for food and the increasing shortage of meeting this demand. But that’s not what scary to me. I’m upset and frightened that the companies who brought us some of our most toxic chemicals – hard-core pesticides, PCBs and Agent Orange – are now in control of our food through biotechnology. Dow, DuPont, Monsanto, and others are major players in our food system, oil our politician’s pockets, and help keep us in the dark on whether our food is contaminated with GMOs. Unlike in the European Union, in the US we are not afforded the right to choose clearly labeled foods about whether it is from GMOs. (You can bet that most food – including “natural” and even some “organic” foods are contaminated by GMOs.)  And we continue to be threatened as local and federal rulings throw the 1-2 punches at American consumers and our rights to make choices about exactly what we are consuming.

Don’t believe me? Read up on the latest news about Judge Fiedler who ruled that you do not have the right to choose your own foods. WTF? Yea, you read it right. Click on this link. Scroll to paragraph 2 of page 3 and the ruling on pg. 4. It states that one does “not have the fundamental rights to produce and consume foods of  . . . choice.” This ruling is the response to a case questioning whether farmers have rights to consume their raw milk from their own cows. If the farmer does not have the right to his own food choices, why would any average citizen have those rights? Just weeks after this ruling, Judge Fiedler resigned and went to work for Monsanto.

Have you read about Monsanto ruthless suing-sprees against small farmers and seed cleaners? Read this brief article, as it outlines the actions of Monsanto against small food producers and farmer support. Perhaps what’s most frightening is the revolving door between Monsanto and politicians. From Secretary Tom Vilsack, to FDA Commissioner Michael Taylor (also a VP at Monsanto), to Ag Trade reps and the Supreme Court powers, Obama is lining the halls with Monsanto’s faces. This means that Monsanto big wigs are writing the rules and regulations for our food, drug, and farming practices.

Jail time for growing veggies. Did you hear about Julie Bass of Oak Park, Michigan? City officials threatened her with 93 days of jail if she didn’t remove her front yard vegetable garden, even though there wasn’t a law stating it as criminal to grow a front yard veggie patch.

We are a hungry nation. According to the latest data, 19% of Americans are food insecure, which means that they do not know where their next meal is coming from. That’s more than 1 in every 6. Statistically speaking, this means that someone in your neighborhood, office, and church are going hungry. The stats for kids are worse: more than 1 in every 5 children is going hungry. How many kids are in your child’s class? Divide that number by 5 and you will have a conservative number for how many of your child’s schoolmates are going hungry. According to this report, US is now second in the world, only to Mexico, for food insecurity among children. Sesame Street recently took up this issue, in an effort to raise awareness about food needs among kids and their families.

How did we end up here? Rather, how can we prevent things from getting scarier and protect our rights to food sovereignty?  National Food Day is part of the revolution to support healthy, affordable food produced in a sustainable, humane, dignified manner. We all need to be concerned about the plummeting welfare of our current food systems.

The Goals of National Food Day:

  1. Support sustainable farms
  2. Reduce diet related diseases by access to quality foods
  3. Decrease food deserts by expanding access to food, thereby improving food security
  4.  Reform factory farms to support humane conditions for farm animals, farm employees, and the environment
  5. Promote health through increased access to nutritious and whole foods
  6. Curb junk-food marketing to children
  7. Reduce financial subsidies to giant agri-businesses

Take the Power Back!

What you can do today and every day:

  1. Buy local whenever possible. You can join a local CSA (community supported agriculture), local food co-operative, or visit your farmer’s markets.
  2. Grow something, anything! Start with herbs or a salad mixture. Lettuce and kale are easy to grow at this time of year. Grow more if you can. You can join in on a cooperative space for growing. You can also replace some of your ornamental greenery (like shrubs) with food-producing plants (like berry bushes or grapes). Not only is it beautiful to grow edibles, it is greatly satisfying.
  3. Cook. Prioritize it in your schedule. Budget your time for it. Commission help from your kids. Cook cooperatively with neighbors or friends. Do whatever it takes. Don’t know how to cook? Take a class. Buy a cookbook. Watch a You Tube instructional video. Buy Mark Bittman’s book “How to Cook Everything.” It’s not hard, but it does take practice, patience, and a sense of adventure.
  4. Inform yourself and inspire yourself. Here  are a few great documentaries to put at the top of your movie night list:
  1. Urban Roots
  2. Food, Inc
  3. Ingredients
  4. Fresh
  5. The Future of Food
  6. Here is a guide to more excellent documentary recommendations. 

Important actions for us, the consumers, to explore:

  1. Right now: Watch this Sesame Street video on childhood hunger.
  2. What would it take for you to cook at least one meal per day for your family?
  3. Why do you think that buying local is important? Can you aim to eat 20% of your foods from local sources within the year?
  4. What simple steps can you take to consume better foods today, at your very next meal?
  5. Get some perspective about the demands on our food systems. Let it inspire you to start growing some of your own foods. Watch this video from the Center for Food Integrity.
  6. Speak out about your right to choose healthier foods and know if what you are buying is GMO.

Please support the movement. Visit the FoodDay.org website to learn more and sign the petition in favor of the mission. And on behalf of all eaters today and in the future, THANK YOU.

 Did you like this post? Please tweet it, Facebook it, email it, and ‘like it’ on this page. I appreciate your support. Share your questions and thoughts below. Your insights and questions help us all to grow.

 

To our food rights and choices,

Frances

 

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Rainier Cherries

Pretty. Sweet. Juicy.  Healthful. Extremely healthful, actually. Doesn’t it seem like Nature makes extra efforts to ensure that her many Earthly species are delivered nourishment beyond what many of us ever imagined? When it comes to pleasure, cherries are winners for packing taste and powerful nutrients into a tiny package. As if you (or anyone) needed another reason to fall in love with succulent cherries, this blog post makes the case for reasons why cherries should top your summertime food charts.

  1. Bing cherries are associated with reduced markers for heart disease in both women and men.
  2. Tart cherries contain anthocyanins that can increase insulin  production in animal models. Cyanidins, also found in cherries, have been linked to reduced weight and blood glucose.
  3. Montmorency cherries may promote sleep because they are abundant in melatonin.
  4. Black and Bing cherries contain cyanidin, which have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds. This translates into protection from gout, arthritis, and other inflammatory conditions. It also may protect your skin from ultra-violet rays and reduce artherosclerosis.
  5. Research at Michigan State University revealed that about 20 cherries per day may help ward off headaches. Another study found that tart cherry juice drunk post-weight training workout reduced muscle pain and loss of strength.
  6. Numerous studies have helped identify compounds that prevent the formation of carcinogenic substances. Most notably, tart cherries have been identified as helpful in preventing colon cancer.

Beyond including these darling fruits in your diet, the only other thing I could recommend is  to buy them fresh from your local Farmer’s Market. They will be freshly picked and rushed straight to the market, meaning that the nutrients are fresher, more potent, and more delicious. Not only that, but you will be supporting your local farmer and local economy. With nature and your local farmers taking care of you, and you taking care of your local farmer and your health, you will surely feel the satisfaction that leads one to say, “Life really is a bowl of cherries.”

Please share your cherry-riffic thoughts in the comments section below.

To Health, Happiness, & Love,

Frances

www.NamasteNutritionist.com 

Additional Resources:

Michigan State University Cherry resources

Selecting, storing, and preparing cherries

Ten ways to enjoy cherries (includes recipes)

More on Cherry Varieties from Leslie Beck, RD

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Grind flax seeds shortly before adding to food.

So you’ve heard the buzz about the importance of Omega 3s, and you’ve heard the emphasis about its proportions to Omega 6s being important. But why do they really matter?

It boils down to this: omega are essential fatty acids (EFAs), meaning that humans must acquire them from the diet because our bodies do not produce them. Omega 6s work by increasing inflammation in the body. Despite the buzz about the perilous nature of inflammation, it is actually a critical function in healthy immunity, blood clotting, and cellular reproduction. You need some level of inflammation. But we get into trouble because our modern diets promote ridiculous amounts of inflammation, which can lead to insulting conditions on our bodies. The goal is to achieve balance.

This is where our friend Omega-3 enters the center stage. This EFA downplays everything Omega-6 does. In a natural environment, we would probably enjoy a near-perfect balance among these EFAs, and might take it for granted that they matter or even exist. But thanks to government food subsidies of corn and soy, and cheap food manufacturing, our EFA intake has a serious tip in its scales. Soybean oil is so common in processed foods that the average American is estimated to receive a whopping 10-20% of its calories from soy oil alone. Think you don’t eat processed foods? Think again. Every food item you eat that was prepared outside of your kitchen, including restaurant foods and snack foods, are processed and likely contain corn, soy, and/or canola oils.

So, why should you care? This EFA imbalance may be a major contributor to asthma, heart disease, many types of cancer, obesity, arthritis, ADHD, Alzheimer’s disease, dyslexia, dementia, depression, post-partum depression, and violence.  Joseph Hibbeln, M.D., a psychiatrist at the National Institutes of Health, advocates bringing these fats into balance to reduce these conditions. He cited a study showing that after omega-3 fish oils and vitamins were added to British prisoners’ diets, the violence in the prison dropped by 37 percent. Here’s another view point: Japan is arguably the happiest and most peaceful developed country, and the average Japanese consumes 145 pounds of seafood yearly. In contrast, the average American consumes about 40 pounds of fish, and while we are more prosperous and enjoy more open land than Japanese, we are more depressed and unsatisfied with our lives.

While supplementing may seem like the obvious answer, examine your options before running out for the next bottle of fish oil that you can find. Not only is supplementing with fish oil taxing on the environment, fish oil supplements are not FDA regulated and may end up costing you a lot of money without giving you the benefits you are seeking. It is possible that these supplements may even contain more omega 6 fats than omega 3s, as explained in my last post. Plus, if you are watching the oils you consume, eat fewer processed foods, and consume more of the omega-3 food items, you should have no problem improving your omega 3:omega 6 ratio.

Consider options that are more environmentally friendly, such as vegetarian sources of omega 3s, outlined here. If you eat meat, eat more grass-fed animals, such as beef, lamb, and chicken. Even the milk from grass-fed dairy cows or goats will contain more omega-3s than when fed from corn, soy, and other food items. Purchasing grass-fed meats from a local rancher or butcher may give you more confidence in the source of this food, support your local food producers, and will likely support more humane animal husbandry.

If you do opt for supplementing your diet, seek oils with a five-star rating from the International Fish Oil Standards (IFOS) at www.nutrasource.ca. This Canadian organization monitors the purity of fish oil supplements to help ensure you are getting just what you are paying for.

Finally, we can all improve our EFA ratios by reducing the amount of omega-6 fats we consume. Omega 6s are abundant in processed and cheap foods, so cook at home more to avoid them. Again, check out this post to see the list of omega-6 EFAs.

Stay Happy & Healthy!

Frances

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