Nori-Chive-Pancakes

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While I am not a huge fan of sweet pancakes, I do like savory ones. And since nori is one of my favorite sea veggies, this makes the perfect pancake. 

INGREDIENTS

1 ½ cup whole wheat flour - ideally freshly milled

1/2 cup unbleached white flour

1 - 2 tablespoons arrowroot flour

(or 2 cups gluten free flour)

pinch of sea salt

enough water to make a medium thin pancake batter

3 sheets of nori, cut or torn into 1 by 2 inch pieces

1/2 cup chives, finely minced

sesame oil for frying the pancakes

tamari or shoyu (optional)

1Mix the flours, salt, chives and water in a bowl until you have a medium thin pancake batter.

2 Heat enough oil in a cast iron or stainless steel frying pan to cover the bottom of the pan.

3 Take one of the nori strips, dip it into the batter, covering the nori on both sides with the pancake batter. Remove immediately from the batter and place into the frying pan. Proceed in the same way with several other pieces of nori until the pan is filled.

Fry until golden and slightly crisp on side, then turn over and crisp the other side.

4 Remove from the frying pan. If oily, you can drain the excess oil by placing the pancakes on two layers of brown paper towels for a few seconds. 
5 Serve immediately with a few drops of tamari or shoyu (optional).

Forbidden Black Rice Treats

This dessert is wonderful for the cooler months of the year - rich, nourishing and warming.

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1 cup sticky black rice (Thai black rice)

1 - 1 ¼ cups water

1 pinch of salt

½ cup walnuts, lightly roasted, then finely chopped

½ cup mulberries or raisins, minced

¼ cup dried apricots, minced

2 - 3 tablespoons rice syrup

1 teaspoon barley miso mixed with 1 teaspoon sweet miso such as chickpea miso

Shredded coconut for garnish

Place black sweet rice with water and salt into a sauce pan, cover, and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down to very low or place a flame deflector under the pot and simmer for 40 minutes.

Immediately after the rice is cooked, add nuts and dried fruit into the rice, mix well and let it sit until it cools. Add rice syrup and miso into a saucepan and heat slowly until well mixed.

Mold the rice into small spheres (no bigger than a golf ball) and top with a small amount of rice syrup-miso mixture.  Serve with shredded coconut garnish.

Eye Health? Keep an Eye out for these Nutrients.

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One of the best foods for our eyes are leafy green vegetables and carrots, known for their specific antioxidants and eye vitamins such as vitamin C, E, A and zinc along with carotenoids like lutein and zeaxanthin. These nutrients help to diminish free radical damage and fight inflammation and inflammatory substances in the eyes and simultaneously protect the eye’s cornea, lens and macula.

There are many reasons why our eyes and eyesight may become damaged as we age, including unhealthy lifestyle, exposure to toxins, overactive immune system and more.

According to the National Eye Institute poor diet is a major risk factor for age-related eye diseases such as macular degeneration and cataracts. Anti-inflammatory foods and foods high in antioxidants such as kale, watercress, collard greens, mustard greens, turnip greens, brussel sprouts, sea vegetables, carrots, squash, grains, beans and nuts are terrific foods for the eyes and the body as a whole.

Looking at eye disorders from the perspective of Oriental Medicine we can glean some other insights: The right eye is traditionally seen as having a connection with the liver and the left eye with the spleen and pancreas. When a person has trouble in one eye or the other, it may be valuable to examine the condition of the liver or spleen/pancreas respectively. I have people come to me with unusual eye diseases in one eye — such as cancer and other unusual conditions. When this happens, it is very important to improve the condition of the organ(s) connected to the eye, which by extension will allow the eye to improve, as well.

Other conditions which affect both eyes equally may point to other imbalances in the body: nearsightedness indicates that the condition of the body as a whole may be too yin — in terms of foods the person may have a tendency to indulge in foods that are sweeter or fattier — like fruits, or desserts, or lots of salad dressings, or fatty yoghurt, butter, whipping cream, fruit juices, sodas, spices, etc.

Farsightedness signifies a more yang condition in the body. Foods that contribute to this condition are indicating a propensity for heavy animal food consumption like chicken, eggs, beef, pork, hard cheese, or consuming too much salt, too many baked or baked/salted foods like pretzels, chips, pizzas etc.

In cataracts a milky film is developing over the eyes that may become crystalline and may lead to blindness. Most cataracts are caused by long-term consumption of dairy products (like your milk or cream in your coffee) in conjunction with eating too much sugar and/or fruits, sweets, alcohol and drugs.

Macular degeneration which is another common eye condition affecting many millions of people in the US, is arising primarily from yin foods like excess sugar, sweets, soft dairy foods, spices, tropical vegetables and fruit, excessive oil, juice, alcohol, etc.

Top 4 eye nutrients:

1) Lutein and Zeaxanthin

Lutein, an excellent antioxidant for the eyes, has anti-inflammatory benefits and specifically helps the macula and lens of the eye. It is found in substantial amounts in kale, mustard greens, turnip greens, collards, watercress and dandelion greens. Harvard University has found that 6 milligrams of lutein daily can lower the risk for macular degeneration by 43%. One cup cooked of each of the vegetables mentioned above will give you double or triple the necessary quantity of lutein to prevent macular degeneration and other eye complications.

Zeaxanthin is an antioxidant that is part of the vast group of the carotenoid family. However, very few carotenoids find their way into the eyes. This particular nutrient helps protect the eye’s tissues, lens and macula by clearing vision, preventing glare, light sensitivity and cataracts. Like Lutein it is found in kale, mustard greens, turnip greens, collards, watercress and dandelion greens.

2) Vitamin C, E, and A

Vitamin C assists in the protection of your vision by fighting free radicals as well as assisting with the absorption of more trace minerals and other nutrients. Vitamin C is found in large doses in dark leafy greens, such as collards and kale — in fact 1 cup of kale contains more vitamin C than one orange.

Vitamin E works in conjunction with vitamin A and C to protect the body and eyes from inflammation and age related macular degeneration and speeding up healing of the eyes from laser surgery. Vitamin E is found in plentiful amounts in seeds, nuts, grains and beans.

Vitamin A is well known for its ability to prevent night blindness. It is also an important nutrient to prevent such conditions as cataracts and macular degeneration. Carrots, squash, rutabaga and other orange colored foods, as well as dark leafy greens are great sources for vitamin A. This vitamin is oil soluble, which means it is best to add a little oil to the dish you are cooking or to sautee your vegetables in — for example preparing a dish of sautéed carrots or squash.

3) Zinc: In combination with other vitamins, zinc is an important trace mineral to help protect the retina and lower risk for macular degeneration. Zinc is essential for nutrient absorption (not only in the eyes, but nutrient absorption in the whole body) as well as allowing proper waste elimination, which helps to reduce inflammation and cellular damage. In terms of the eyes, zinc is beneficial because it maintains healthy circulation, it evens out hormonal function to prevent autoimmune responses from occurring and more. Best food sources for zinc are grains, beans, seeds, nuts and seafood.

4) Omega-3- Fatty Acids have many different health benefits for the nervous/brain function, anti-inflammatory properties, slowing the effects of aging, arthritis, heart disease, stabilizing blood sugar levels and much more. However, it is always best to substitute other fats/oils with omega-3s instead of adding omega-3s to an already overly fatty diet. For the eyes these fatty acids promote good circulation and lowering inflammation, in particular helping with diabetes induced eye problems.
 Great sources for omega-3-fatty-acids are sea vegetables, fish and flaxseeds.

Around the world eyes are considered to be a window to your soul. When our eyes are clear and bright they will shine with the beauty that is within us.

For more information, please visit my website: www.culinarymedicineschool.com

Magnesium deficiency is common these days: telltale signs and solutions

Everybody knows that magnesium is an important mineral for the body, but do you know why your body needs magnesium and which food sources provide magnesium or which factors deplete your body’s stores of magnesium?

Magnesium is an essential mineral for your body: it is important to maintain healthy nerves and strong muscles. Also, your body uses it for many different metabolic processes, keeping the immune function and bones strong as well as maintaining heathy heart rhythms.

Possible symptoms, which may be telling you that you may be magnesium deficient:

Trouble sleeping may be a sign of magnesium deficiency.

Trouble sleeping may be a sign of magnesium deficiency.

  • General fatigue, exhaustion and weakness in the body
  • Lightheaded or feeling dizzy
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Fuzzy memory, impaired cognitive activity and confusion
  • Heightened anxiety and stress
  • Trouble sleeping
  • High blood pressure
  • Body tremors
  • Frequent or severe muscle cramping
  • Other flags include: a deficiency of calcium, lyme disease, impaired heart health, type II diabetes, difficulty breathing & respiratory diseases and potassium deficiencies

How much do we need and where do we get it?

Dietary recommendations vary depending on age, gender and body weight, but generalized recommendation for adults are:

  • Women 310 mg per day minimum
  • Men 400 mg per day minimum

Which foods are excellent sources for magnesium?

Pumpkinseeds are an excellent food source for magnesium

Pumpkinseeds are an excellent food source for magnesium

  • Dark leafy greens (kale, collards, mustard greens, watercress, etc.) twice daily or better three times daily — approximately 2 cups total or more
  • One or several tablespoons of pumpkinseeds, sunflower seeds or sesame seeds daily or often
  • Whole grains, soaked and cooked at two meals per day — moderate amounts
  • Beans once or twice per day — moderate amounts
  • Nuts such as almonds, peanuts and cashews
  • Sea vegetables such as wakame/alaria, kombu/kelp, nori/laver, dulse and others
  • Fish

Foods and Factors that deplete our magnesium stores in the body:

Minimizing these factors will work in your body’s favor.

  • Foods that are grown in depleted soils (most commercial non-organic vegetables are lacking magnesium)
  • Anti-acids, cortisone, and many other pharmaceutical drugs including birth control pills
  • Coffee, alcohol, black teas, sodas, etc.
  • Sugar: for every molecule of sugar our body needs 54 molecules of magnesium to process it — and this is not only white sugar, but other strong sweeteners including honey, maple syrup, tropical fruits and white flour products
  • Stress is a huge factor in depleting magnesium
  • Excess estrogen in the body
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Oxalic acids found in spinach, beets/beet greens and swiss chard
  • Too much exercising can deplete magnesium via perspiration
  • Heavy metal toxicity

If you are experiencing any or several of the symptoms listed above on a regular basis, you may not be getting enough magnesium in your diet. Deficiency can result in more serious problems over time, so it is important to take corrective action especially via dietary adjustments.

In cases of severe deficiency a supplement may be taken until the condition improves. However supplements are best taken in intervals of several days per week with at least one or two day rest periods during each week, so that the body’s own ability to absorb magnesium from food sources does not atrophy.

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Switching on Genes for Health - Healthy Body, Mind and Spirit

Arugula Leafy Green Salad

Arugula Leafy Green Salad

Changing your diet and lifestyle choices will turn on health-promoting genes. 

Five things you do that switch on genes that cause disease or five things you can do to switch on health promoting genes:

We certainly receive our genes from our parents. However scientists are saying now that only 25% of our genes are dominant genes which cannot be altered. In contrast, many genes work like a committee: certain aspects of our lifestyle, environment and mind/emotional framework can turn certain genes on or off - creating disease or health.

  1. The average American consumes 150 pounds of sugar each year - in sweetened beverages, desserts and other sweetened foods. The more sugar consumed, the greater the risk for obesity, heart disease, and early memory loss.  
  2. Sitting several hours each day. The amount of time spent sitting is a risk factor for developing heart disease and many other circulatory system disorders.
  3. Going to bed too late - most rejuvenating sleep is one or two hours before midnight and and sleeping less than 5 hours a night can be detrimental. Less than 5 hours of sleep each night increases the level of stress hormones, which increases the risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, mental health problems, and early memory loss.
  4. Smoking. Smoking increases inflammation, cancer of the respiratory system, risk of heart disease and early memory loss.
  5. Toxin exposure. Exposure to toxins including pesticides, heavy metals, and plastics increases the risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease and mental health problems.

How to Turn On Health-Promoting Genes

Changing your diet and lifestyle choices will turn on health-promoting genes: 

Mixed Vegetables - preparing to roast in the oven.

Mixed Vegetables - preparing to roast in the oven.

  • Replace sugar and sweeteners with root and round vegetables. Many root and round vegetables when cooked become very sweet and can satisfy the need for sweets. Many studies clearly indicate that consuming more vegetables will lower the risk of heart disease, diabetes, cancer, mental health problems, etc.
  • Every hour, move your body: going for a short walk, doing 5 minutes of stretching or other exercises regularly will help to offset the damage that prolonged inactivity would promote.
  • Ensure having a good sleep at night. Go to sleep and wake up at a consistent time. Also, going for a walk outside during the day regularly will increase the body’s ability to make melatonin, the sleep hormone. Some stretching and breathing exercises before bed ensure better and more restful/rejuvenating sleep.
  • Reduce your exposure to toxins by choosing more natural products (foods/household cleaners/body lotions and other body care products).
  • Eat more vegetables, especially leafy green vegetables to help your body eliminate toxins more effectively. Use the Environmental Working Group consumer guides to prioritize which vegetables and fruits to purchase as organic produce and begin to grow your own if possible!

Miso Tahini Dressing - delicious

Miso Tahini Dressing

Miso Tahini Dressing

Miso Tahini Dressing:

Dressings make a meal memorable, delicious and nutritious. This easy to prepare dressing is great on raw salads, boiled salads, noodles and more. Tahini is a rich source of vitamin B1, iron, calcium, copper, magnesium, phosphorous and manganese as well as omega 3 and 6 fatty acids. The raw parsley, lemon juice and orange zest provide a good amount of vitamin C.

Serves 3 - 4 people

1/3 cup tahini

1/4 cup water or more to taste

1 tablespoon chickpea miso or to taste

1 teaspoon orange zest

1 teaspoon lemon juice or to taste

1 - 3 teaspoons grated onion

1 - 3 tablespoons finely minced parsley

Place all ingredients in a blender, and blend until smooth. Let sit for 10 minutes before serving to let the flavors meld.

Enjoy!

 

St. Patrick's Day Green Split Pea Soup: Healthy, Delicious and Nutritious

St. Patrick's Day Green Split Pea Soup:

 

1 cup green split peas, soaked, discard soaking water

5 - 6 cups water

1 tablespoon dulse, or kombu or 1 bayleaf

½ cup burdock, diced (optional)

1 cup onions or leeks, diced

1 cup carrots, diced

½ cup celery diced

1 - 2 tablespoons sesame oil

sea salt to taste

several slices of whole wheat sourdough bread, cubed and pan fried in a little olive oil

scallion garnish

 

Heat the oil in a soup pot and sauté the onions until glassy. Add the split peas, dulse, other vegetables and water. Cook until split peas and vegetables are soft.

Serve with scallion garnish and fried bread cubes.

 

Using the highest quality ingredients makes a huge difference in terms of the flavor and health benefits of the soup. 

When you select split peas: look for smaller varieties with a bright green color (as opposed to pale or gray green). The bright green color indicates freshness of the split peas - they cook faster and taste more delicious. Pale green or gray green varieties are often rancid. 

Taste your raw vegetables - especially the carrots and celery: do they taste delicious or bitter or bland? Choose delicious tasting vegetables for best outcome and more nutrients.

The quality of oil and salt is also extremely important: if the oil tastes rancid, the soup will taste rancid (as well as creating free radicals in the body). Please store oils for long term use in the refrigerator. 

Good quality sea salt will taste mildly salty if placed on the tip of the tongue, inferior quality sea salt will have an almost stinging or biting effect on the tip of the tongue.

Enjoy!

Pesticides, monoculture, health and the human mind...

Pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, insecticides and disinfectants have become commonplace practice in the last century and only now are being recognized for their greater negative impact on humans and our environment.

Pesticides, etc. are a broad class of substances used to reduce or eliminate certain plants, molds and insects that may damage crops and thus impinge on profit margin for farmers and corporations.

The residues of these substances are found everywhere: traces of ‘Round up’ are found in your organic arugula salad and most organic and certainly most (if not all) non-organic foods. Many (70 or more) widely used pesticides are classified as probable or possible carcinogens.

The residue of chemicals from pesticides, etc. drastically diminishes a healthy intestinal flora and thus weakens our immune system, as a healthy intestinal flora is the first instance of our immune function. In other words it can open the door for many other disease to arise when our immune function is weakened.[1]

Many pesticides, fungicides, insecticides, etc. are designed to shut down the mitochondria (the energy producing factory within the cell) of the plants and insects, which in succession induces cell death.[2]

Unfortunately, this mechanism works the same way in humans: we ingest small amounts of pesticides in our food and our mitochondria will be attacked in the same way as the plants and insects. We are generally larger in size than the plants or insects, thus the pesticides do not impact us as imminently, however there is an accumulative effect.

Pesticides are known to contribute to the rise of certain cancers, especially non-Hodkin’s lymphoma, leukemia, multiple myeloma and soft tissue sarcoma (and others). They are also known for their contributing effects on depression, hormonal imbalances and other mental/emotional disorders.

In a downstream effect we also impair the natural balance of our environment, even to the point where we possibly risk our food supply: bees are our #1 pollinators and certain pesticides have a harmful effect on bees, especially their larvae.

When you grow your own food — and I encourage everyone to do so -, I would suggest avoiding pesticides or if necessary looking for natural alternatives to eliminate pests using natural ingredients such as vinegar, lemon and essential oils for example. Also lawn care is best to be natural –‘Round up’ residue otherwise will trickle into our ground water and ultimately end up in our drinking water supplies.

The quality of the soil in the garden/yard also makes a difference: better and healthier soil equals stronger and healthier plants with less damage arising from insects and other pests and weeds. Keeping a few weeds in the garden and yard, actually strengthens the plants — monoculture makes plants more vulnerable to be invaded by insects/bacteria, etc.

Monoculture in the farming sector is unfortunately also a reflection of the monoculture of the modern mind: the starkness, lackluster and boredom of the mind that is largely preoccupied with making a living (or escapism). We are being fed a (tem)plate of constant fear: fear of the ‘pests’ — which plays out in our lives as fear of not having enough resources (like money, food, shelter, healthcare, love, education, etc.).

The root of this fear is not feeling good enough about oneself — a belief in being sinister at the core of the being. The outside world seemingly always reinforces this false belief. The truth is, however, that our inherent goodness and value cannot gain footing in our reflection of our outside world as long as we are stuck in a fear-loop that solely allows us to see threats reflected everywhere we turn.

Ultimately the mind becomes dull from overextended indulgence in this kind of monoculture (land)scape. How about exploring new ways of doing, being and thinking? Even if just for a moment: leaving the fear behind, allowing space for some weeds to grow and insects to fly, knowing that they are in fact necessary for the health of the overall crop that is meant to be harvested.

Going back to the practical end once again: if you can buy local, organic food, it is a good practice to do so and encourage your regular farmer neighbors to reduce or eliminate the use of pesticides, etc. — conversations and requests create a change in behavior.

If you do not have access to organic produce/foods, soaking and/or properly washing foods can somewhat reduce exposure to these toxins.

In my opinion, in order to end the desert of the mind of our world society: healthy, organic, natural and wholesome food should be a right to every person, not a commodity. Inspiration begins where fear ends.

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As long as basic food is sold and distributed as a commodity, profit margin practices and exploitation practices will be the norm. These practices destroy our living environment, our health and our mental/emotional capacity to become the genial inventors, think tanks and brotherhood of humanity we can potentially become. Let us create greater change one individual at a time to enjoy each other and our planet for as long as possible.

[1] Samsel, A., and Seneff, S. 2013. Glyphosate’s Suppression of Cytochrome P450 Enzymes and Amino Acid Biosynthesis by the Gut Microbiome: Pathways to Modern Diseases. Page 1443. Entropy, 15, 1416–1463; doi:10.3390/e15041416

[2] Kim, Y.H.; Hong, J.R.; Gil, H.W.; Song, H.Y.; Hong, S.Y. 2013. Mixtures of glyphosate and surfactant TN20 accelerate cell death via mitochondrial damage-induced apoptosis and necrosis. Toxicol. In Vitro, 27, 191–197.