Thursday, July 29, 2010

A Peanut Butter Solution

I tried a new dish this week ~ peanut butter spaghetti!

It was pretty easy to prepare, and very tasty. It also reinforced for me the benefits of having a food pantry, because I already had most of the ingredients: pasta, ginger, honey, soy sauce, rice vinegar and garlic.

Garlic falls under the produce category ~ so it isn't really considered a pantry item. Neither is any other fresh produce, and that's what you should be shopping for most of the time.

So while the noodles (8 oz) were boiling, it took just a few minutes to add a cup of hot water in a small saucepan to 1/2 cup of peanut butter, and then mix in two tablespoons of rice vinegar and the soy sauce, two crushed garlic clovers, a tablespoon of honey and 1/2 tsp of powdered ginger.
That was heated until it thickened, and then tossed with the drained noodles.


For the fresh stuff, I sauteed a handful of chopped onions in a couple tablespoons of olive oil, added some red bell pepper slices and a few mushrooms, heaped in some washed greens (spinach and chard), and topped it with a sprinkling of cider vinegar. (Greens can be bitter in taste ~ but the longer you cook them, the sweeter they become!)

Easy and satisfying. How did I know? I didn't crave more. That's the key!

Bon appetite!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Meet Kohlrabi!

When we think of eating more vegetables, we generally consider a pretty narrow playing field ~ like carrots, tomatoes and celery, perhaps.

But that arena is vast!

Take kohlrabi, for example. Abundant in Europe, you have to pretty much find it in someone's garden here. But lots of people grow it. It's a member of the cabbage family ~ and in some ways , resembles a turnip.

It's packed with nutrients ~ particularly Vitamin C and A ~ along with lots of fiber, potassium and calcium. It's easy to slice, and that's a plus when we talk about this great slaw recipe.

Slice two kohrabies into matchstick pieces (about 1/8 inch), slice a handful of radishes and a half of a medium-sized green cabbage. Shred a couple of carrots to add to it, and a handful of cilantro leaves.

Here's what makes it yummy. Whisk together 1 tsp of honey, 3 Tbs of white wine vinegar, 1/ tsp Dijon mustard, 1/4 tsp cumin seed, 1/4 tsp of sea salt, and 5 Tbs of olive oil to pour over the vegetables. Toss it all together and sprinkle on some coarse ground pepper.

It's a great alternative if your regular fare is a tossed salad!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Cravings Subside When You're Truly Nourished

A few salty potato chips do little more than drive you to find and eat more of them. It just works that way. Same with foods with large amounts of sugar and fat.

But you needn't subject your body to a stand-off, with the likely outcome of defeat. There's an arsenal available to you in all those fresh fruits and vegetables.

It's chemistry, but it's also physics.

You see, besides its chemical properties, food has an energy vibration. The vibration coming from processed foods is more or less flat, compared with the vibrancy of food from the garden or fresh produce section of the supermarket. What you're attracted to has some connection to where your body is, vibrationally speaking.

That's why when you're depressed or bored or sad, foods like chips and dip, brownies, or greasy, salty french fries might be your craving. When you're happier, you're more attracted to the foods that truly nourish you. The vibrations are more of a match.

Sound too "far out"?

I treated a few people in one of my sessions at Yoga West to Mexican tomato, rice and beans. It was lunch time, but each person reported they were satisfied after eating about a cupful of the dish. Here's why. It was a combination of garlic, jalapenos, rice, black beans, tomatoes, cumin, oregano and cilantro, which left us all feeling well fed. That doesn't mean "stuffed." It means "nourished", or "not craving more."

Check it out:

Cook 1 cup med grain rice according to package directions.

Drain one 14 1/2 oz can of tomatoes, save the juice and add enough water to make 1 cup liquid.
Set tomatoes aside. Saute 6 garlic cloves and 1 cored, finely chopped jalapeno in 2 Tbs olive oil until garlic browns (about 1 min). Add one 15 oz can (drained and rinsed) of black beans, 2 tsp ground cumin, 1 tsp chili powder, and 2 tsp salt (preferably sea salt) and stir about 30 sec to blend the flavors.

Add the tomato juice liquid and adjust heat to bring to a gentle boil, and cook about 5-7 min. Add tomatoes, cooked rice, three tablespoons crushed oregano (1/4 cup, if fresh leaves), and 1/4 cup chopped cilantro ~ and stir a few min until warm. Makes 6 cups.

A side salad is a nice compliment ~ or this rice dish can hold its own by itself!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Could Treating Mental Illness Be That Simple?

I read an interesting article in Eating Well magazine that talked about the balance between omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids in brain as a possible key to treating such mental illnesses as bi- polar disorder, ADHD, and depresssion.

Dr. Joe Hibbeln has done the research, and based on that, it's his belief that our American diet has left us low in omega 3 levels, and very high in levels of omega 6. Balance that out by adjusting what we eat, and you have a bunch of basically happy campers!

He says our ancestors had a balance between the two omegas, because they ate differently. Today, he says Americans have 10 to 25 times more omega 6s than 3s. Not a good thing.

Where do we get omega 6s? Processed foods are packed with omega 6 oils made from soybeans, safflower and corn. Omega 3 oils are found in fish, like salmon and sardines, and also in wild game meat. Flaxseed is also a source of omega 3s.

When you look at what most people haul out in their grocery carts, or order off of restaurant or fast food menus, and compare it what we know about the rate of depression alone in this country, it makes sense.

Dr. Sandra Cabot has been documenting outcomes of those who follow her liver cleansing diet, and reports not only does people's health improve, but those with addictive behaviors and mood disorders also do better. (She wrote the book, The Liver Cleansing Diet.)

The diet basically consists of fresh, natural foods and herbs,(no dairy or red meat), and lots of water. But there's another element. A blend of ground almonds, flax seed and sunflower seed is always on the table as a condiment for virtually everything. So not only is your body detoxifying itself with all the fresh foods, it's constantly getting hits of omega 3s.

I put it on cereal, salads, in yogurts, and over pasta. You can even sprinkle it over ice cream!

Is this a "sure fire" fix? Nothing is "sure fire" because much depends on your willingness to participate in your own healing.

But this much is certain. Our bodies are incredibly complex, miraculous creations, capable of amazing feats and performance ~ and healing ~ provided it gets the nutrients it needs. Our food, in its purest state, is the source of that.

Is it easy to eat well?

With some thought and planning, yes.

Is it convenient?

No. It's a daily practice, but the investment of putting your focus there is definitely worth it!

Do you have to be a good cook?

No. It's your own journey.

You'll get there!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Drop the Pop!

One of the very best reinforcements for healthier eating would be having more money left over when you go out to eat, don't ya think?

This would be particularly significant for families dining with kids or teenagers who typically want soda pop with their meals. But if you have a family of six, and everyone orders a soda, it could add $10-$12 to your bill.

Being "mindful" here ~ Water might not be as appealing since your palate is conditioned to the carbonated, sugary taste, but think about it this way: You're paying yourself at least $10 to drink something that's actually good for you. If you take the family out twice a week, that's at least a $20 savings, and if you're running through drive thru's in between, over a month's time you might even save most of a car payment!

If you do nothing else to change your diet, eliminating soda pop for most people will reduce their weight by 10 pounds over the course of a year.

Drinking lots of water, especially during the hot summer months, has a whole bunch of health benefits: it eliminates toxins, churns up digestive enzymes, makes your organs run more efficiently, and helps your body absorb nutrients. (Add a dash of lemon juice and you've now incorporated Vitamin C!)

We all worry about the high cost of health care, keeping our jobs, and other uncertainties presented by living in the 21st century. But this is one small step towards gaining control of your health that can turn out to be a huge investment ~ because we all know the first steps are the hardest, no matter what we want to accomplish.

Notice the extra dollars you have in your pocket, and how you're feeling minus the pop after a week or two in this practice.

And here's another very important thing to consider: Kids notice their parent's choices. Make the right choice often enough, and they'll be mindful.

They'll pay attention.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Water ~ A Step in the Right Direction

Never have there been more books or magazine articles about food.

We're obsessed by the topic, because it's so much a part of our daily lives. The foods we select, in large part, determine how healthy we are ~ and maybe how happy we are. We know what's good and what's bad, but our choices often override that information because our emotions are driving them.

If you're overweight and you feel bad, the easiest choice is to eat more of what makes you fat and sick. And so the spiral goes ~

So how do you define and then focus on a path that will make the difference you dream of?

My suggestion is to start with water ~ and then get moving.

Forget keeping a food log. Start with keeping a daily journal for three days of what you drink. Few people get through the day without some drink that contains sugar ~ the most popular choices being booze or soda pop.

Water is the elixir of life. After you get the habit going, I recommend investing in a water filter for your kitchen, or buy a filtered water bottle to carry when you're away from home. If you can't bear the thought of not having that sugary drink, reduce the daily number by one, then by two, and so on ~ and replace those drinks with water.

There are a whole list of health benefits to drinking at least 2 liters of water every day ~ not the least of which is it is a great appetite suppressant!

Do that, and add just five or ten minutes of walking, yoga stretches, or whatever gets your joints moving and your blood running.

Weight loss may not come right away, but you'll soon notice you have more energy.

So tip that glass of water!