Tuesday, September 27, 2011

RICE: The Astonishing Health Benefits of a Woldwide Staple

RICE provides 20% of the world's dietary energy supply:  And, it's a great source of complex carbohydrates, nutrients, and health-protective compounds.  

Rice growing in Bali

Whole, Brown Rice:
  • reduces bad cholesterol
  •  provides instant energy
  • stabilizes blood sugar
  • promotes the growth of healthy bacteria in the digestive system
  • promotes regular, healthy bowel movements
  • protects against high blood pressure 
  • contains all the amino acids essential for building and maintaining muscle tissue, making antibodies, enzymes, and hormones
  • has a calming effect on the body
  • is a rich source of the B-complex vitamins which provide energy and nourish the skin and blood vessels
  • is easy to digest and assimilate and is recommended for digestive disorders such as diarrhea, dysentery, morning sickness, colitis, and jaundice
  • contains high levels of neurotransmitter nutrients known to aid in the prevention of Alzheimer's disease
  • is an excellent source of vitamins and minerals like niacin, vitamin D, calcium, fibre, iron, thiamine and riboflavin
  • consumption is associated with a lower, healthy body weight
  • is rich in insoluble fiber that protect the body from cancerous cells
  • is beneficial for the health of the nervous system
  • aids the production of hormones
  • lowers the risk of type two diabetes
  • contains phytochemicals that help prevent colon cancer
  • is high in magnesium, a nutrient known to reduce asthma severity and migraine symptoms
  • prevents gallstone formation
  • reduces the risk of breast cancer
  • reduces the risk of heart disease

"The Health Benefits of Rice," www.vegrecipes4u.com
"Health Benefits of Rice," www.organicfacts.net
"Brown Rice," www.whfoods.org

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Homemade Caramel Corn

Caramel Corn is one of my mother's favorite treats, and this mother's day, I decided to make her some and send it.  Of course, I wanted to make her really tasty AND nutritious caramel corn, skipping the refined sugars and corn syrup.  To do so, I found a recipe on-line and then adapted it using only whole food, organic ingredients. 

To my delight (and my husband's!), the caramel corn turned out fantastic and had a rich, deep, authentic caramel flavor.  Luckily, I made a large batch, so even though I "tested" it several times during the process, some still made it into the package to be shipped to my mom!

Homemade Caramel Corn

7 quarts organic plain popped corn (buying this in bulk at the health food store and then air popping it is the best/easiest way to go!)
2 cups Rapunzel Organic Whole Cane Sugar
1/2 c. pure maple syrup
1 tsp. sea salt
1 c. organic butter
1/2 tsp. aluminum-free baking soda
1 tsp. vanilla extract

1.  Place the popped popcorn into two shallow greased baking pans.  Set aside. 
2.  Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F.  Combine the sugar, maple syrup, butter and salt in a saucepan.  Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring enough to blend.  Once the mixture begins to boil, boil for 5 minutes while stirring constantly.
3.  Remove from the heat, and stir in the baking soda and vanilla.  The mixture will be light and foamy.  Immediately pour over the popcorn in the pans, and stir to coat. 
4.  Bake for 1 hour, removing the pans, and giving them each a good stir every 15 minutes.  Line the counter top with waxed paper.  Dump the corn out onto the waxed paper and separate the pieces.  Allow to cool completely, then store in airtight containers or resealable bags. 

(Adapted from "My Amish Friend's Caramel Corn" by ANITALOUISE from allrecipes.com)

Corn is now commonly genetically modified, so be sure to obtain organic popcorn for this recipe...
(Dr. Mercola has compiled helpful research about the health consequences of eating genetically modified foods.)

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Raw Chocolate Chia Energy Balls: A Recipe for Women in Labor to Boost Oxytocin Levels

Raw Chocolate Chia Energy Balls
Makes about 12 servings
    * 1 1/2 cups pitted dates
    * 1/3 cup raw unsweetened cocoa powder
    * 1/3 cup whole chia seeds
    * 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
    * 1 cup raw almonds
    * Coconut flour or flakes for coating, optional

1. Place dates in bowl of food processor; purée until thick paste forms. Add cocoa powder, chia seeds, and vanilla and almond extracts, if using. Pulse until all ingredients are combined. Add almonds; pulse until nuts are finely chopped and well distributed through date mixture.

2. Spread a large sheet of wax paper on work surface, and dust with coconut flour or flakes, if using.

3. Pinch off small pieces of the date/nut "dough" and roll them into balls.  Serve as is or roll them in coconut flour or flakes to coat and prevent sticking. 

4.  Chill to solidify and store in the refrigerator until serving.

The Benefits of Raw Consuming Chocolate in Labor:
A steady flow of the important hormone, oxytocin, is critical for having a healthy labor that progresses at a normal rate.   Most women are familiar with the role of oxytocin in labor and are already aware that massage, aromatherapy and other comfort measures increase oxytocin levels.  But did you know that there is also a food that naturally increases oxytocin levels?  That food is raw (meaning unroasted) CHOCOLATE!

Raw chocolate enhances serotonin, dopamine and oxytocin hormones.  It also contains significant quantities of tryptophan, a powerful mood-enhancing nutrient.  Aside from its oxytocin and mood-enhancing properties, raw chocoloate has a uniquely high mineral content that benefits laboring women.  Raw chocolate happens to be the richest food source of magnesium:  Magnesium improves the flow of blood, oxygen, and nutrients throuughout the body, increasing energy levels.  It also has a general relaxant effect on all muscles in the body, which is generally considered to be beneficial during labor.

The Magic of Chia Seeds:

The chia is a flowering plant with botanical name, Salvia hispanica.  In the pre-Columbian times, chia plant was cultivated by the Aztecs of this region.  The Aztecs called it, "the running seed" because it was traditionally eaten to prepare people for running long distances.   The "running seeds'" or chia seeds' unique properties have now been well-studied and confirmed by modern nutritional science.  In fact, currently, chia seeds are being used by athletes to improve their stamina, endurance, and energy levels.  They are also known to sharpen focus, reduce inflammation, and increase nerve and muscle reactions.  The seed acts like a sponge when added to water and soak up 7 to 9 times their weight, allowing those who consume them to remain hydrated for longer periods of time.  As labor and childbirth require endurance, high energy, and hydration levels comparable to that of an athletic event, the properties of chia seed translate into a perfect labor food as well!

Raw chocolate and chia seeds eaten in combination create a powerful, mood and energy-elevating food that couldn't be more ideal for the physically and emotionally demanding process of childbirth.  The following recipe is delicious and contains both.


Superfoods:  The Food and Medicine of the Future, David     Wolfe
The Magic of Chia:  The Revival of an Ancient Wonderfood, James F. Sheer
The Vegetarian Times, www.vegetariantimes.com


How Diffusing Essential Oils Benefits Mothers and Babies During Pregnancy, Labor, and Postpartum

Essential oils are aromatic volatile liquids distilled from a variety of plants including herbs, flowers, and trees. They constitute some of the most concentrated natural extracts known, exhibiting significant antiviral, anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, antioxidant, hormonal and psychological benefits. They penetrate skin and cell membranes and transport oxygen and nutrients to organs and muscle tissue, thereby promoting healing.

Scent is the only sense directly connected to the emotional center of the brain, giving aromatherapy the completely unique ability to change one’s emotional state with one sniff.

Essential oils are one of the original medicines of mankind and their benefits have been known since ancient times.  In fact, their effectiveness and value was known by the ancient Egyptians and written about in the Christian Bible as well.  Essential oils were utilized for their wide range of therapeutic actions both on the mind and the body for different diseases.  Aside from the treatment of disease, however, they have long been used to assist in creating smooth, healthy pregnancies and labors by women and to promote the health and calmness of newborns.  

Pictured Above:  The Aria Cold Air Essential Oil Diffuser from Young Living Essential Oils 

One of the gentlest, safest, and easiest ways to benefit from essential oils during your pregnancy, labor, or postpartum period is to diffuse them into the air, which allows them to be absorbed into the lungs and provide systemic benefits.  

Aromatherapy for Pregnancy:
  • Gentle Baby Oil Blend:  A soft, fragrant combination of essential oils designed specifically for mothers and babies. It helps calm emotions during pregnancy
  • Thieves Oil Blend:  Provides immune system support
  • Lavender Oil:  Promotes deep relaxation/sleep, relieves headaches, and eases stress

Aromatherapy for Labor/Birth:
  • Peace and Calming Oil Blend:  Promotes mental and physical relaxation and eases fear around labor
  • Peppermint Oil:  Eases nausea and can stimulate energy/alertness during longer labors
  • Clary Sage Oil:  Encourages labor
  • Lemon Oil:  Stimulates oxytocin in the brain, encouraging labor to progress normally

Aromatherapy for Postpartum Support:
  • Claraderm Spray (applied topically rather than diffused: This blend of essential oils of, Melaleuca, Lavender, Frankincense, Roman Chamomile and Helichrysum are mixed in a base of fractionated coconut oil and speeds the healing of the perineum or any tears after birth
  • Joy Oil Blend, Jasmine, Ylang Ylang, Frankincense or Rose Oil: Uplifting, Anti-depressant, and promote feelings of joy, happiness and contentment
  • En-er-Gee Oil Blend:  Invigorates, alleviating tiredness and giving women energy after having given birth
  • Gentle Baby Oil Blend:  Diffused in the nursery, it helps to calm fussy babies and promote sound sleep

If the air that we breathe is clean and full of oxygen, we feel our best. Essential oils freshen the air and have a number of "bonus" therapeutic properties, such as those mentioned above that are specific for pregnancy.  Diffusing therapeutic grade essential oils into ANY environment also has a number of general benefits worth noting…  

Diffusing Essential Oils into ANY Environment will: 

a)     Relax the body, relieve tension, and clear the mind
b)    Help with weight management
c)     Improve concentration, alertness, and mental clarity
d)    Stimulate neurotransmitters, which results in increased feelings of well-being and better moods
e)     Stimulate the secretion of endorphins
f)     Stimulate growth hormone production and receptivity
g)    Improve the secretion of IgA antibodies that fight candida, an unfriendly fungus that underlies digestive health issues
h)    Improve digestive function
i)      Improve hormonal balance
j)      Relieve headaches
k)    Reduce bacteria, fungus, mold, and unpleasant odors

The importance of choosing and using quality oils and a quality diffuser
About Quality Oils:
To achieve the best effects from essential oils and avoid toxic reactions, it's imperative that you use only therapeutic grade essential oils, of a quality suited to medicinal aromatherapy.  The gold standard in top-quality essential oils is the AFNOR standard : make sure that all of your oils are AFNOR-certified, each batch tested in an independent lab. 
(Even many so-called pure, organic or "Grade A" oils cannot match this standard.  Shortcuts are often taken in production, or chemical fillers are added to extend the oils or enhance their fragrance.  All of these lead to poor quality oils, which are — unbelievably — still marketed as pure, organic and Grade A.)

About Quality Aromatherapy Diffusers:

Diffusion is the process of dispersing essential oils so that their aroma fills a room or an area with the natural fragrance. From the simple to the elaborate, many different methods exist for diffusing essential oils into a room. There are numerous diffusers and diffusing devices available for purchase from aromatherapy vendors.  Some involve the use of heat, which destroys some of the therapeutic properties of the oils being used.  Others disperse the oils, but not in a form that is readily absorbed by the lungs, making their therapeutic effect minimal at best. 

Ultrasonic or nebulizing diffusers take essential oils and break them into separate molecules before dispersing the smaller molecules into the room. These smaller molecules can be more readily absorbed by the lungs and thus have greater therapeutic value.  Another advantage of both of these technologies is that they do not heat the oils in the process of diffusing.  Because of this, 100% of the oils’ medicinal constituents remain intact and are dispersed into the air for your benefit. 

Where to Purchase Both:
Quality, therapeutic grade essential oils that meet the aforementioned standards, as well as quality diffusers that use ultrasonic or nebulizing technology, are both offered by a company called Young Living Essential Oils.
Go to www.youngliving.com and use distributor/sponsor number 820049 to purchase oils or diffusers under my distributorship. 

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

An American Comfort Food Reimagined: Butternut Squash French "Fries"

One of the keys to a healthy diet is to eat a diverse variety of vegetables on a weekly basis.  This recipe gives you a unique, healthy way to serve one of most people's favorite foods to eat regularly, French Fries!

Butternut Squash French "Fries":
(adapted from a recipe in The Get Healthy, Go Vegan Cookbook 
by Neal Barnard, M.D. and Robyn Webb)

Butternut Squash
Extra Virgin Coconut or Red Palm Oil
Sea Salt or Himalayan Pink Salt

1.  Preheat your oven to 425 F.
2.  Peel and cut the squash into French-fry shapes. 
3.  Melt the Coconut or Palm Oil and add enough to lightly coat the squash.  Stir. 
4.  Sprinkle with Paprika.
5.  Bake in the oven for about 30 minutes, turning halfway through, until the inside is tender and the outside has a beautiful golden brown color.  (Keep an eye on them the first time you make them because baking times vary according the the size of the fries.) 
6.  Sprinkle with sea salt and serve! 

These "fries" pair nicely with black bean veggie burgers and a fresh, green salad.

Some good reasons to eat Butternut Squash...

Many of the carbohydrates it contains come from beneficial sugars called polysaccharides, which studies show have special anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and anti-diabetic and insulin-regulating properties.
It contains potent antioxidant cartenoids, Vitamin C, niacin, manganese, B Vitamins, and heart-healthy folate.
It reduces inflammation in the body, which helps prevent inflammatory diseases like asthma and rheumatoid arthritis.
It is an excellent source of immune-supportive Vitamin A.
It is a rich source of dietary fiber, which has been shown to have a number of health benefits including increased absorption of minerals, reduced blood cholesterol levels, and a lower risk of many types of cancer.


The Get Healthy, Go Vegan Cookbook, Neal Barnard, M.D. and Robyn Webb
The World's Healthiest Foods Website, www.whfoods.org
"Power Foods:  Butternut Squash," Whole Living Magazine On-line, www.wholeliving.com


Friday, May 6, 2011

Black Bean Soup with Roasted Kabocha Squash, Russet Potatoes, Sweet Yellow Peppers, Zucchini and Rosemary

Black Bean Soup

Roasted Potatoes, Yellow Peppers, Zucchini, and Kabocha Squash

Have you ever tried Kabocha Squash?  If not, you are in for a pleasant surprise.  I find it even more delicious than Butternut with a texture and a sweetness somewhere between a typical squash and a sweet potato...

Ingredients for the Soup-
2 cups dry black beans or 6 cups cooked black beans
1 large onion, chopped
1 cup chopped carrots (2-3 carrots)
1 cup chopped celery (2-3 stalks)
3-4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tsp. ghee or red palm oil
4 cups vegetable broth
1 tsp. sea salt
fresh cilantro

If using dry beans, soak 2 cups overnight; then drain, rinse, cover with water, and cook until tender.  If using canned beans, drain and rinse 6 cups and set aside.  In a large tockpot, saute onion, carrots, celery, and garlic in the olive oil and 1 T. Vegetable Broth.   Add 1 cup broth along with the cooked beans and combine everything thoroughly.  Simmer 10 minutes, covered, stirring occasionally.  Add the salt and simmer 10 more minutes.  You can stop here, as this makes a delicious black bean stew.  For a soup consistency, add the rest of the broth and simmer 10 minutes more.  Blend with a hand blender if you'd like a creamy black bean soup!

Garnish with fresh cilantro and raw vegan cashew sour cream or cultured raw sour cream.

Adapted from a recipe from another of my FAVORITE recipe books- which is also packed full of holistic health tips and information...

Roasted Kabocha Squash, Russet Potatoes, Sweet Yellow Peppers, Zucchini, and Rosemary:

1.  Cut into medium sized cubes:
Kabocha Squash
Russet Potatoes
Sweet Yellow Peppers

2.  Coat the veggies with melted red palm oil and a generous amount of Bragg's raw apple cider vinegar.  Sprinkle generously with dried or fresh rosemary.

3.  Bake at 375 F for about 45 minutes.  (Baking times vary depending on the size of your cubes as well as your oven.

4.  Just before serving, sprinkle with a bit of Sun Fire Salt or Himalayan Salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Most people routinely used extra virgin olive oil for roasting:  However, this is not a practice that I recommend to my clients.  EVOO does not stand up to heat well and is best eaten raw in my opinion.  It tends to cause weight gain when routinely eaten cooked and is somewhat difficult for the liver to process.  For cooking, tropical oils like Palm or Coconut are much better choices.  (Ghee can also be used.)  Red Palm oil has some unique characteristics, but it is often overlooked as a cooking oil.  It has a buttery flavor.

According to Bruce Fife, N.D., author of The Palm Oil Miracle, Palm oil, particularly virgin or “red” palm oil, is a traditional fat that has been a part of the human diet for at least 5000 years. For generations red palm oil has been revered as both a nutritious food and a valuable medicine. It was prized by the pharaohs of ancient Egypt as a sacred food. The oil was so highly valued that it was entombed with the pharaohs so that they would have access to it in the afterlife."

Palm oil: 
  • supplies fatty acids essential for proper growth and development
  • is packed with an assortment of vitamins, antioxidants, and other phytonutrients important for good health 
  • is rich in carotenes such as beta-carotene and lycopene
  • used supplementally in a breastfeeding woman's diet can double the amount of Vitamin A in her breastmilk (crucial for the growth/development of her child)
  • can remove plaque build up in arteries and therefore, reverse the process of atherosclerosis 
  • can improve cholesterol values
  • helps maintain proper blood pressure
  • has a high antioxidant content, which quenches free radicals and keeps inflammation under control
  • contain Tocotrienols, which strengthen the heart so that it is more resistant to the negative health effects of stress
  • is protective against neurological degeneration
  • is protective against a variety of health problems including osteoporosis, asthma, cataract, macular degeneration, arthritis, and liver disease due to its unique antioxidant profile
  • slows down the aging process holistically
  • is a potent anticancer food due to its Tocotrienol content (found to be superior in its cancer-protective effects to other antioxidants.  Researchers have discovered that Tocotrienols not only prevent cancer from taking hold but actively block its growth (in the case of skin, stomach, pancreas, liver, lung, colon, prostate, breast, and other cancers

    Source:   The Palm Oil Miracle by Bruce Fife, N.D.

    Clearly, when it comes to oils, it pays to diversify!  I recommend rotating cold pressed, raw oils pumpkin seed, red palm, coconut, sesame, olive, flax, and hemp as healthy, easily obtainable options.  Most health food stores and Whole Foods carry them.

    Wednesday, May 4, 2011

    Diffusing Therapeutic Grade Essential Oils Purifies the Air You Breathe, Improves Oxygenation Levels, and Improves Your Mood!

    If the air that we breathe is clean and full of oxygen, we feel well.  However, the air we typically breathe in our homes, our cars, and our offices, is typically polluted by the chemicals used in the manufacture of wall paneling, furniture, upholstery, even clothing--not to mention the cleaning products, disinfectants, chemically based "air fresheners," and perfumes that are loaded with synthetic chemicals that can be literally sickening.  All of the aforementioned items contain one if not more known carcinogens, in fact.  Indoor air is also typically low in oxygen because, unlike the outdoors, it is not filled with plants.  Being in low oxygen environments for too long tends to put us in a low energy, fatigued state. 

    Essential oils can freshen the air  naturally as well as add healthy levels of oxygen to it.  These oils also provide a number of additional benefits worth noting:  For exaample, diffusing essential oils in office environments has been proven to reduce mental errors by 50%.  Diffusing essential oils in your bedroom can help you fall asleep, deepen your sleep, and boost body repair processes that occur during sleep.  A travel diffuser is  remarkably effective for preventing fatigue when driving for long periods of time in automobiles.


    The Core Benefits of Diffusing Essential Oils into Any Environment Are:

    Reducing bacteria, fungus, mold, and unpleasant odors
    Promoting relaxation, relieving tension, and clearing the mind
    Assisting with weight management
    Improved concentration, alertness, and mental clarity
    Stimulating neurotransmitters, which result in increased feelings of well-being and improved moods
    Stimulating endorphin production
    Stimulating growth hormone production and receptivity (which is associated with longevity and faster  healing/recovery rates)
    Improvement in the secretion of IgA antibodies that fight candida, an unfriendly fungus that underlies digestive health issues
    Improving digestive function
    Improving hormonal balance
    Improved immune system functioning
    Helping to relieve headaches
    Relieving breathing difficulties and congestion

    To receive the benefits of diffusing essential oils, therapeutic grade oils must be used as well as a type of cold-air diffusion technology.  (Diffusers that heat the oils actually destroy their therapeutic constituents in the difusion process.)  Visit http://healingilluminations.younglivingworld.com.  to learn more.  From this site, you can also purchase therapeutic oils and diffusers on-line.


    Saturday, April 23, 2011

    Naturally Sweetened, (Vegan) Gluten-Free Blueberry Muffins

    The Magical Ingredients:
    1 3/4 c. sweet brown rice flour
    1/4 c. raw coconut palm sugar
    2 tsp. baking powder
    1/2 tsp. baking soda
    1/2 tsp. sea salt
    1 tsp. cinnamon
    1 T. grated lemon rind
    1 c. almond milk, cashew milk, coconut milk or rice milk
    1 T. extra virgin coconut oil, melted
    1/2 c. applesauce
    1/4 c. raw coconut nectar
    10 ounces wild blueberries, fresh or defrosted

    1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Prepare your muffin pan by lining with paper cups or greasing with coconut oil.

    2.  In a bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, sea salt, cinnamon, and lemon rind.  Stir together with a wire whisk.

    3.  In a separate bowl, combine the milk, oil, fruit puree, maple sytrup, and blueberries.  Stir gently to just combine.

    4.  Add the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and combine gently.

    5.  Scoop into the muffin pan and bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown.  An inserted toothpick should come out clean. 

    Adapted from a Recipe in The Chopra Center Cookbook, one of my favorites because of the extensive use of flavorful herbs in all of the recipes and the emphasis on Ayurvedically balanced flavors:


    Why use Coconut Palm Sugar/Nectar?
    Coconut sugar and sap is a pure, raw, delicious, low glycemic sweetener rich in nutrients.  It is an abundant source of minerals, 17 amino acids, vitmain C, broad-spectrum B vitamins, and has a nearly neutral pH.


    Extra Tip:

    If you own a Vitamix or BlendTec blender, you can make your own FRESH flour by simply placing any whole grain in the blender and blending it for a few minutes until it is a powdery consistency.  I highly recommend this for maximum freshness, nutrition, and pranic quality of your food-

    Tuesday, April 12, 2011

    10 Reasons to Make a Snack Date with a Date

    Dates are also known as "nature's candy," as they are the sweetest among all fruits.  They are grown on date palms (pictured above), which produce up to 200 fruits in a cluster.  Date palms are one of the oldest cultivated trees, having been grown in North Africa for at least 8,000 years.    There are many varieties of dates- all with a pleasant and slightly unique taste.  The most popular variety most stores carry is the Medjool date.  The Medjool date is twice as big as other dates. 

    10 Reasons to Make a Snack Date with a Date:

    Dates are...
    1.  An excellent source of the minerals potassium, calcium, magnesium, iron and sulfur.
    2.  Satisfy sweet cravings without promoting weight gain.
    3.  High in fiber.
    4.  Benefit the nervous system.
    5. Help to reduce mental fatigue.
    6. Are cancer-preventive.
    7. Help to relieve constipation.
    8. Assist with muscle development.
    9. Promote heart health.
    10.  Are delicious on eaten their own or, as an addition to dessert recipes, they add a new depth of flavor far above & beyond conventional sugar!

    Strawberry Date Shake
    with Kefir:

    1 c. Kefir
    3 Medjool dates, pitted
    1 c. strawberries, fresh or frozen
    optional:  1 tsp. Synergy whole food Vitamin C berry powder

    Step 1- Blend the kefir and dates until smooth. 
    Step 2- Add the strawberries and blend until smooth.

    * Note:  If you're using fresh strawberries and still desire "shake" consistency, add some additional ice cubes.

    - The Complete Guide to Nutritional Health by Pierre Jean Cousin and Kirsten Hartvig
    - The Encyclopedia of Whole Food Medicine by Don Tolman
    - www.organicfacts.net


    Saturday, April 9, 2011

    Kefir: A Legendary Probiotic Drink You Can Make at Home

    Kefir came from the people of the Northern Caucasus Mountains located between Russia and Asia, who are known for their longevity.  For centuries these people have used its powerful health benefits to survive the harsh winters deep in the mountains.  It was often known as a source of family and tribal wealth.   In fact, they kept the secret of kefir grains and its process for thousands of years, even to the extent of protecting the art and the grains with their very own lives

    The people of the tribes of the Caucasus Mountains, when asked about the origin or kefir, say that kefir grains (starter) was gifted by the Prophet Mohammed over 1400 years ago.  In Turkey it is said that kefir grains were a gift from angels to Noah on the ark.   Other legends are also told, all of which allude to a mystical origin of this 'miracle' food!.

    Russian scientists, who became aware of the remarkable properties of kefir, attempted to replicate kefir, but were never able to do so.  It wasn’t until late 1908, when Irina Sakharova brought the first amounts of kefir to Moscow, where it was used medicinally in Russia with great success.  From there, it has spread and benefitted people around the world
    Kefir is a creamy, slightly sour cultured milk drink that beneficial strains of bacteria and  yeasts.  Kefir has an abundance of vitamins, minerals, amino acids and enzymes. Some of the more prominent of these are calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, vitamin B2, and B12, vitamin K, A and D.  The following attributes have given kefir it's reputation as a 'wonder drink':

    • It cleanses the digestive tract
    • It provides beneficial bacteria and yeast, vitamins and minerals, and complete proteins
    • it contributes to a healthy immune system and has been used to help patients suffering from AIDS, chronic fatigue syndrome, herpes, and cancer
    • It has been used to treat metabolic disorders, atherosclerosis, allergic disease, tuberculosis, cancer and other gastrointestinal disorders with success
    • Its tranquilizing effect on the nervous system has benefited many who suffer from sleep disorders, depression, and ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder)
    • Consuming it regularly can help relieve all intestinal disorders, promote bowel movement, reduce flatulence and create a healthier digestive system
    • It can eliminate unhealthy food cravings by creating a healthy bacterial balance in the digestive tract
    • It is an effective immune stimulant and antimicrobial against a wide variety of harmful bacteria
    • Its cleansing effect on the whole body helps to establish a balanced inner ecosystem for optimum health and longevity 
    • It regulates the body's immune system and improves resistance to diseases. 
    • It regulates the blood pressure, blood sugar and cures diabetes. 
    • It heals the lungs, bronchitis, tuberculosis, asthma, allergies and migraine. 
    • It has a positive influence on the heart and blood, heals circulatory conditions. 
    • It helps with eczema, all skin disorders and for some people, has led to cure of acne 
    • It benefits the kidneys, the urinary tract and protects prostate
    • It has as a positive influence on cholesterol, osteoporosis and rheumatism. 
    • It supports enzymes production and heals the pancreas
    • It improves the liver and gallbladder, regulates bile production, and positively influences hepatitis
    • It helps in cases of colitis, diarrhea, catarrh, reflux, leaky gut syndrome, candidasis and more 
    • It produces its own antibiotics, eliminates unfriendly bacteria, cures internal and external inflammations
    • It pre-digests dairy products, making them edible to individuals who have lactose intolerance 
    • It produces own anti-cancer compounds 
    • It slows the aging process, smoothes and improves skin, hair and muscle tone
    • It  increases energy and feelings of well-being
    • It produces all necessary vitamins and beneficial bacteria needed for our healthy daily life
    Almost a century of scientific and medical research confirming the above is available from Dairy Research Institute in former USSR.  Kefir is gaining popularity because of its effects in lowering medical cost. With increasing resistance to antibiotics, intensive research of the real kefir is conducted in Europe and Japan. The results are supporting the experience of generations.

    Kefir can be purchased from health food stores or you can make it easily at home.  When purchasing, look for brands that are free from 'nonfat milk powder' (which contains harmful oxidized cholesterol) or refined sugars.  Kefir can be made from cow's milk, goat's milk, coconut milk, coconut water, rice milk, or almond milk.

    A good source of quality kefir starter can be ordered on-line from www.bodyecology.com.

    Diets of the Masters by Michael Paul Patterson
    "History and Benefirs of Kefir: A Cultured Dairy Product," www.suite101.com


    Kefir Smoothie
    Begin with a cup of Kefir and add as many of the following as you wish.   

    1 tsp. of unrefined coconut oil
    Ground flax seeds
    Natural flavorings or herbs such as stevia, nutmeg, cinnamon, vanilla or natural fruit flavoring
    Fresh or frozen organic fruits, strawberries, raspberries, bananas, kiwi, mango etc.
    Raw honey, palm sugar, or Stevia Clear flavored stevia to sweeten
    Natural source vitamin C powder such as Camu Camu Berry or Acerola Cherry

    Blend together for a delicious, nutritious breakfast, lunch, or snack. 

    Kefir Milk Chocolate Drink
    3/4 c. kefir
    1/4 c. water
    1 scoop raw, organic chocolate     whey powder or 2 tsp. raw
        cocoa powder
    1 tsp.-1 T. (depending on your tastes)
             palm sugar or raw honey

    Whisk or blend until creamy.  Serve.

     Lemon-Thyme Kefir Sauce
    or Salad Dressing:

    2 cups Kefir
    1/4 c. water
    6 T. lemon juice
    Zest of 2 lemons
    2 T. finely minced fresh thyme
    1/4 tsp. sea salt

    Blend or whisk all ingredients together except thyme until smooth.   Add thyme and blend for a few moments until thyme is well incorporated.  Serve or store in the refrigerator. 

    Where can I find Kefir, Stevia, Natural Vitamin C Powder, & Flax Seeds?


    Tuesday, March 29, 2011

    Tempeh Sloppy Joes

    Normally, I'm not a fan of meat-imitation dishes.  I think... if you're going to eat Vegetarian, just eat Vegetarian foods;  Forget about dressing it up like a turkey!  (Sorry, Tofurkey- you do make a nice, nostalgic Thanksgiving meal :)  However, this recipe is DIFFERENT.  It stands out on its own as not just an 'imitation' dish, but a great meal with a unique flavor of its own.  In fact, I would venture to say that this is eons upon eons better than the 'original' sloppy joes.

    This recipe is from a gorgeous Vegan recipe book I picked up at our local bookshop recently:

    1 package (8 oz.) Tempeh, cubed
    1 T. olive oil or water (or Palm or Coconut)
    1 onion, finely chopped
    1 bell pepper (red, yellow, or orange), finely chopped
    1 can (15 ounces) tomato sauce
    1 T. chili powder (or to taste)
    1/2 tsp. sea or Himalayan salt
    1/4 tsp. ground pepper
    2 T. vegetarian Worcestershire sauce- I left this out and they still turned out great
    1 tsp. hot sauce (optional)
    4 buns, toasted- I used gluten free millet-flax buns from www.Samisbakery.com

    Directions: Steam tempeh for 10 minutes in a steamer basket placed in a pot filled with 2 to 3 inches water.  Once your kitchen fills with tempeh's nutty aroma, the tempeh is done.  (It really takes only 10 minutes.)  Transfer to a bown, and crumble with your hands (if it's not too hot) or mash with a fork or potato masher.

    In a large-size saucepan over medium heat, heat oil and saute onion until translucent.  Add bell pepper and tempeh, and saute for a few minutes more, stirring constantly to prevent sticking.  Add tomato sauce, chili powder, salt, pepper, Worcestershire sauce, and hot sauce (if using).  Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 10 minutes or longer.  Serve on toasted buns with something light like a salad with plenty of sprouts!  It's pictured above with a mixed greens, grated beet, raw mushroom, sprout, and balsamic-vinaigrette dressing.  A real, raw & cultured pickle served on the side aids digestion and adds a nice flavor contrast. 

    Yield:  4 servings

    According to the World's Healthiest Foods Website... 

    "Tempeh has been a staple in Indonesia for over 2000 years. It is a highly nutritious fermented food traditionally made from soybeans and its high protein content makes it a wonderful substitute for meat. It is typically made by cooking and dehulling soybeans, inoculating them with a culturing agent (like Rhizopus oligosporus), and then incubating the innoculated product overnight until it forms a solid cake.

    A food made from fermented soybeans, tempeh provides not only the protein found in soybeans but their many other health benefits as well. The soybean is the most widely grown and utilized legume in the world, with the U.S. being responsible for more than 50% of the world's production of this important food. Soy is one the most widely researched, health-promoting foods around. Soy's key benefits are related to its excellent protein content, its high levels of essential fatty acids, numerous vitamins and minerals, its isoflavones, and its fiber."  For more,visit this link:


    Monday, March 14, 2011

    Marine Phytoplankton for Increased Energy without Stimulation

    Who doesn't want more energy in this day and age?  Unfortunately, many people turn to stimulants, like coffee and sugar, to get it.  But the truth is, energy from caffeine and sugar is borrowed energy and gives no more energy to your body than a whip gives to a horse.  Eventually, it will leave you drained!  Marine phytoplankton is a different kind of energy supplement- a supplement that has many positive 'side effects.'  Marine phytoplankton is a single celled green organism grows in oceans, lakes, rivers, creeks, and waterways and is the basis of the entire food chain.  In fact, it provides up to 90% of the oxygen in the air we breathe.  This micro-algae looks like a green liquid when it is packaged and can be consumed by the dropper-full as a health supplement.

    What do phytoplankton do for your health?
    It contains every nutrient needed for the creation and maintenance of healthy, new cells.
    It provides energy without stimulation by delivering vital life force at the mitochondrial level of cellular energy production. 
    It provides you with a natural source of wide-spectrum, plant-based vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and proteins.
    It has been shown to improve immune system function and has antiviral, antifungal, and antibacterial properties.
    It decreases aches and pains as a result of its anti-inflammatory effects. 
    It aids in weight loss.
    It increases feelings of calm and
    It improves digestion, circulation, and eyesight.
    It normalizes blood sugar imbalances and reduces cravings.
    It improves your body's ability to detoxify itself and helps protect against radiation poisoning.
    It aids in nervous system repair due its content of phospholipids, DHA, and EPA- all of which are crucial to nourishing damaged myelin sheathing (the protective layer around each nerve fiber).
    It improves sleep quality.
    It helps you feel younger as a result of its rich content of zinc, sulfur, and silicon.  (These minerals act as internal cosmetics, naturally renewing skin cells.)
    It improves memory and brain power.  The phospholipids and omega-3 fatty acids it contains have a unique ability to cross the blood-brain barrier, feeding the brain and master glands located deep within the brain.  This stimulates significant neurotransmitter production and increases mental clarity. 
    It boosts your athletic performance and endurance levels by increasing oxygen uptake in your tissues, including your muscles.    It also provides bioavailable, living protein to your cells that is absorbed twice as well as any type of cooked protein source.
    It promotes faster recovery from illnesses and injury due to its cumulative effect of properties that results in improved cellular repair.

    Source:  Superfoods:  The Food and Medicine of the Future by David Wolfe.


    Thursday, March 10, 2011

    Rockin' Raw Coconut Flour Chocolate Cupcakes Coated with Cashew Frosting

    Have you ever read a recipe with so much alliteration in its title?

    This cupcake recipe is very versatile, is a great snack, and is loved by children and adults alike!


    1/2 c. coconut flour
    1/2 c. raw cacao powder
    3/4 c. raw honey or truly, clear raw agave
    1/4 c. extra virgin coconut oil
    1/2 tsp. sea salt

    1.  Place all ingredients into a bowl and stir until they form a dough.
    2.  Place into a muffin pan (silicone is easiest for removal purposes)
    3.  Place in the fridge for an hour or more to firm them up.
    4.  Store in the fridge

    Optional:  Add goji berries!


    1 1/2 Cups Cashews
    1/3 cup water
    1/4 to 1/2 Cup of Agave depending on sweetness desired
    1/2 vanilla bean or 1 tsp. vanilla extract
    1.  Blend all in blender until smooth and thick
    2.  Spread onto your raw chocolate cupcakes!

    Note:  As natural sweeteners and raw chocolate have come into the mainstream, many companies have jumped on the bandwagon and started selling them.  So- quality varies!  I've done my homework and chosen to trust Ultimate Superfood's brand cacao and agave.  Their agave is unheated and high in inulin (a beneficial fiber that slows absorption and feeds the friendly bacteria in your gut) AND it is packaged in non-leaching plastic... so you aren't getting hormone disrupting chemicals with your agave.  Heated agave, according to emerging research, is actually quite harmful to the body/liver and there are brands selling heated agave nectar as raw, so there is reason to be careful in this area.   Ultimate Superfood's Cacoa powder is also in non-leaching plastic.  Plus, it's an heirloom variety of cacao and clean (many on the market contain mold/microbes.  Test yours by spraying hydrogen peroxide on it and seeing if it foams.


    Friday, March 4, 2011

    How Zen Wisdom can Boost Your Health

    "...For there is nothing that is good or bad.  Thinking makes it so."
    - Shakespeare

    Every thought that you have produces a hormonal response in your body.  To put it simply, happy thoughts produce a happy physiology with high levels of immunity while stressful thoughts produce a stressed physiology vulnerable to disease conditions.  Candace Pert has written an excellent book on the subject- 

    In every circumstance, we can choose to see its positive aspect or its negative aspect... and both aspects- the dark and the light- are always in everything.  Zen wisdom says that it is not what happens to us that causes stress.  It is our interpretation of events.... it is as a result of our thoughts about it.  In fact, it is also our interpretation that leads to either soul growth or stagnation.

    For example; 
    You've just lost a job that you hated doing but you made a substantial income from.  At that moment, you could be celebrating your freedom and seeing it as an opportunity to embrace your new purpose.  You could be lost in mourning the job's and worrying about the future.  Or, you could be doing a little bit of both.  And depending on which you chose, your physiology would respond in different ways.  But if you remember that it is "your thinking that makes it so..." you can redirect your thoughts toward the positive aspects or opportunities in the situation, which will better supports your mental and physical health.

    For more information, check out this interview with Andreas Moritz, author of an eye-opening book on this subject called Lifting the Veil of Duality:

    Lifting the Veil of Duality with Andreas Moritz
    December 6, 2010
    Listen to Interview

    Get the Book:

    Monday, February 28, 2011

    Why Butter is Better for Your Health

    Butter has gotten a bad reputation in the last hundred years as being bad for your health.  But is that really the case?  As it turns out, the truth about butter is emerging:  Butter benefits your health in many ways while margarine, long touted as a healthier option, is the real health menace!

    Margarines are made of vegetable oils which have been heated to extremely high temperatures, causing them to become rancid.  Nickel (which is known to be harmful to human health) and hydrogen atoms are added to the oils in order to solidify them, along with deodorants and colorants to mask the unappetizing smell and gray color of the product.  The final solidification process creates carcinogenic trans-fatty acids.  Margarine contains many more harmful ingredients such as sterols that cause endocrine system problems and the preservative BHT, linked to abdominal pain, dizziness, nausea and liver problems. 

    Butter, on the other hand...
    - is rich in the most easily absorbable form of Vitamin A necessary for thyroid and adrenal health.
    - contains lauric acid, important in treating fungal infections and candida.
    - Contains lecithin, essential for cholesterol metabolism.
    -  contains anti-oxidants that protect against free radical damage.
    - as anti-oxidants that protect
    against weakening arteries.
    - is a great source of Vitamins E and K.
    - is a very rich source of the vital mineral selenium.
    - contains special saturated fats that have strong anti-tumor and anti-cancer properties.
    - contains conjugated linoleic acid, which is a potent anti-cancer agent, muscle builder, and immunity booster
    - is a good source of Vitamin D, essential to absorption of calcium.
    - protects against tooth decay.
    - is your only source of an anti-stiffness factor, which protects against calcification of the joints.  (This is found in butter made from raw, unpasteurized cream only.  The anti-stiffness factor in butter also prevents hardening of the arteries, cataracts, and calcification of the pineal or "master" gland in your brain.)
    - is a source of Activator X, a substance which helps your body absorb minerals.
    - is a source of iodine in highly absorbable form.
    - may promote fertility in women.
    - is a source of quick energy, and is not stored in our bodies adipose tissue.
    - contains cholesterol, which is essential to children's brain and nervous system development as well as adults' intestinal and brain health
    - contains Arachidonic Acid (AA) which plays a role in brain function and is a vital component of cell membranes.
    - protects against gastrointestinal infections in the very young or the elderly.

    What about the cholesterol in butter?  The Cholesterol Myths Uffe Ravnskov, MD, PhD and many other publications to date have shed light on the important role cholesterol plays in good health.  Cholesterol is actually a powerful anti-oxidant, used by our bodies to repair tissues, including damaged arterial tissue in the heart.  Though it is 'on the scene' when a person has heart disease, it is not the cause of the heart disease but part of our natural internal healing mechanism.

    At the turn of our century, heart disease in America was rare. By 1960, it was our number one killer. Yet during the same time period, butter consumption had decreased - from eighteen pounds per person per year, to four.  Margarine consumption as well as refined sugar and flour consumption skyrocketed during that same period.  Coincidence?  Probably not!

    "The 20 Health Benefits of Real Butter," by Donna Gates, available from www.bodyecology.com.
    "Myths and Truths about Cholesterol," The Weston Price Foundation, www.westonaprice.org.
    "Why Organic Raw Butter will Benefit Your Health," by Shona Rotes, www.naturalnews.com.

    Butter Buying Tips:

    Choose organic, cultured butter, preferably from Grassfed (pastured) cows:

    If you can find it, RAW butter (made from unpasteurized cream) is even better:  Go to www.realmilk.com for more information on local farmers who may offer it in your area. 

    Two good books that reference the healing power of traditional foods, including butter, are The Maker's Diet by Jordan Rubin and Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon.  On-line, go to www.westonaprice.org for more information and articles. 

    Friday, February 4, 2011

    Whipped Strawberry Smoothie with Ginseng


    Meat of about a half of one young coconut
    3/4 c. Spring Water
    1 c. Fresh or Frozen Organic Strawberries
    1 Scoop Cold-Processed Strawberry or Vanilla Flavored Organic Whey Powder from Grass-fed Cows
    1 T. Raw Honey
    1/2 tsp. American Ginseng

    Blend till smooth and enjoy.  This has a 'whipped' texture thanks to the cold-processed whey powder.
    Note:  If you don't have a young coconut, use a base of organic coconut milk instead (available at most health food stores).  I try to use young coconut meat whenever possible as I aim to eat as much fresh, 'alive' food as possible, but always use the best ingredients you have available to you at the time and you'll get GREAT results- I promise!  Intention is everything! 

    Whey has been used as medicine for ages;  In fact, Hippocrates, known as the 'father of medicine', recommended whey for its health-boosting properties.  In Ayurvedic medicine, whey is said to purify the nadis, or energy channels throughout the body.

    The amino acid content of cold-processed whey powder makes it one of the best foods ever studied for muscle recovery/muscle-building, making this a great post or pre-workout shake.  It also makes a great breakfast because it keeps your blood sugar levels steady throughout the day (preventing sugar, caffeine, or junk food cravings and promoting body repair).

    According to one of the largest, most respected natural health resources on the web, www.mercola.com,
    Cold-processed Whey Powder
    (NOT the whey isolate powder that you'll find in grocery stores or GNC!)...
    • is extremely high in antioxidants
    • supports balanced blood sugar levels
    • enhances muscle endurance
    • aids in liver detoxification
    • supports immune function
    Pro-optimal whey is sweetened with xylitol, a healthy, low-glycemic sweetener that feeds the friendly bacteria in your GI system and helps curb tooth decay- 


    Ginseng boosts energy and endurance.  It also enhances your body's use of oxygen, providing support for aerobic activities, casual exercise, performance training, and sexual vigor.  It also helps to raise dopamine utilizations (improving mood!) and foster the growth and repair of tissues.
    Source:  Power Juices Super Drinks: Quick, Delicious Recipes to Prevent and Reverse Disease by Steve Meyerowitz


    Interested in making more POWER JUICES AND SUPER DRINKS???
    Check out Steve Meyerowitz's new book- complete with a foreword by Gabriel Cousens, M.D.  Steve Meyerowitz is a veteran natural health promoter and Bestselling author of Juice Fasting and Detoxification.