Natural Optimism: Forget about your problems and they will disappear?

Winter in the Berkshires

This sounds like the rambling of a child or an idiot, like a pipe-dream fantasy or romanticism—this is definitely not a method for the intelligent and sophisticated of our society according to our regular standards.

We have the impression that worrying about the world and our personal problems can lead to a logical solution and perhaps save our planet and resolve personal crises—or so it seems.

Not worrying about the world is considered uncaring and insensitive, whereas worrying is an acceptable way of showing concern and empathy for private and public matters.

Consensus holds that it is unreasonable to assume that the world can take care of itself, or even sort out whatever damage it seems man has done to it. 

It is generally accepted that worrying will take us somewhere and lead us further. And it does: it provides the thrust to make things happen: MORE PROBLEMS. Ooops….

Ironically, the best thing you can do for yourself, or your loved ones, or the world, is to stop worrying, and let go of all of the negative thoughts. Thoughts have an electromagnetic viability and will attract more of the same. Hence worry will attract more worry, and similarly joy will attract more joy. 

Imagine that the problem at hand no longer exists, or pretend that it will disappear, because it is not as bad as it could possibly be.

It always helps to focus our attention on something joyful. And when we are looking for the positive events and joys in our everyday life, they will certainly come to our attention as they are always present.

And while this mindset seems child-like, it will not turn us back into children (unless we have never grown up—but that is another story). Rather, it helps to utilize the biologically innate natural optimism that is ingrained in our natural make up. This positive force—the natural optimism—is an impetus that allows for unanticipated, wonderful surprises, to come our way, and it gives rise to unexpected solutions and joyful circumstances and events.

Sharing a life with someone who always expects the worst outcome and is always worrying can become exhausting.

In my experience, people who employ worry as their modus operandi are motivating themselves from incessant fear. They find this way of acting and being more thrilling and exciting than having peace, joy, and happiness in their lives.

So, unburden yourself of your problems and a whole new set of possibilities can come into focus in your life! As the song goes, “Let it be.”


LemonCream Curd - Happy New Year!


This is a special holiday or birthday dessert - too rich and too cooling for regular use in the winter time in the NorthEast of the US. However, it it is cheery and very delicious dessert or topping for other baked goods.


•   5.4 oz can coconut cream (unsweetened, organic coconut cream from Native Forest)

•   ½ - ¾ cup organic unsweetened soymilk or almond milk

•   1 Tablespoon lemon zest

•   3 – 4 Tablespoons lemon juice

•   2 - 3 Tablespoons kuzu (diluted in 3 – 4 Tablespoons cold water)

•   1-4 Tablespoons organic maple syrup



Place coconut cream and lemon zest in a small saucepan and whisk to combine while heating on medium heat.

Add maple syrup (starting with 1 Tablespoon) and whisk again until well combined. Add more if desired, according to your taste.

Add diluted kuzu to coconut cream mixture and keep stirring until the mixture has come to a boil and has begun to thicken to desired consistency.

Lastly, add lemon juice and lemon zest.

Remove from heat and taste and adjust seasonings as needed, adding more lemon zest for acidity/brightness, or maple syrup for sweetness.

Fill into individual dessert cups and let cool to set for at least 30 minutes to several hours.

It may be served as is, or with berry topping or roasted nuts or seeds and it makes a delicious topping for waffles, mocha, pancakes and other baked goods.

Matcha Green Tea Star Cookies

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  • 2 1/2 cups organic unbleached white flour or 1 cup whole spelt flour and 1 1/2 unbleached white flour or 2 1/2 cups of your favorite gluten free flour mix
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp matcha green tea
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons non-aluminum baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract (optional)


Preheat oven to 350°. Mix all dry ingredients in one bowl and mix all wet ingredients together in another bowl. Combine dry and wet ingredients, and mix thoroughly.

Place parchment paper on 2 cookie sheets. Roll out cookie dough to approximately 1/8 inch thickness and use your favorite cookie cutters to cut out the shape of your choice. Place the cookies on the cookie sheet about 1 inch apart.

Optional: you may wish to sprinkle a little shredded coconut or cocoa powder or ginger powder on top of the cookies. Or sprinkle a little match green tea powder on the cookies after baking.

Bake 8 to 15 minutes. Remove immediately and allow to cool. 

Brown Rice, Bright Brain

picture of the brain

Brain Synergy and Brown Rice

Written by Bettina Zumdick

The masculine or left-focused-brain is enjoying the Sunday football game on TV, the status quo, with all familiar rituals, while the feminine or right-focused-brain is seeking to stretch the invisible muscles of consciousness with yoga and mind altering practices, seeking some unknowable ‘something more’.
This gross simplification is meant to demonstrate the differences of the two brain hemispheres.

Attaining synergy of the right and left hemispheres of the brain allows us to experience the two ends of a paradox while we rise to a greater perspective, integrating the different aspects of consciousness and thus achieving inner peace and wellbeing. Brain synergy has also been labeled the ability to attain enlightenment. Eating well-prepared Brown Rice and other whole foods may well be the foundation to allow higher brain function to occur.

Brain Synergy allows us to step beyond the masculine/feminine stereotypes, beyond black or white or any dualistic thinking process. These days, many people’s brain function stops short of even reaching the frontal hemispheres of the brain. Stress, environmental and internal toxins, free radicals, poor nutrition, deficient oxygen levels in the blood, hypoglycemia and other contributing factors result in a short circuit or vicious circle in the brain, leaving us in a paradigm of fear, competition and survival of the fittest.

75 percent of a person’s health and longevity is determined by lifestyle factors such as what we eat, how much we exercise, how we love and are loved, whether we deem our life as meaningful and purposeful, whether we meditate, etc. Only 25 percent of a person’s health and longevity is dictated by our genes, according to recent studies[1].
MRI scans have clearly shown how the activation of prefrontal cortex (left and right side) results in being able to remain calm and stress-free, live in peace and experience joy. Prefrontal cortex activity also indicates that the whole body is generally healthy.

In order to understand how to set the stage in the body to attain prefrontal cortex activation or better yet synergy of the brain, we need to look at some of the other, deeper brain areas, as they are fundamental factors in whether we succeed or fail in the achieving of brain synergy.

Let us begin with examining the deep inner brain: part of the limbic brain, in particular the hippocampus and amygdala.

The hippocampus can be compared to a distribution center, compiling information received from the outside via the senses and then directing appropriate responses towards processing to either the amygdala or the cerebral cortex. When the hippocampus perceives something as dangerous, the information is routed to the amygdala. The amygdala’s function is one of ‘fight or flight’ – a more instinctual, older program in the brain of our species. On the other hand, when more sophisticated responses such as solution oriented thinking or perceiving a challenge as an opportunity is called for, the hippocampus routes information to the cerebral cortex.

The hippocampus is a very delicate part of the brain, which can easily break down under the influence of physical and emotional stress and its accompanying hormones (cortisol and adrenaline in particular).  Free radical and chemical damage from toxins in foods, medications or the environment also play roles in wreaking havoc on the sensitive hippocampus.

When our brain, in particular our hippocampus is damaged by hormones, toxins or too many free radicals from various sources, it can no longer serve as a discerning distribution center. The results are most undesirable, as default mechanism sets in and creates a vicious cycle. The default mechanism works by channeling all incoming information through the amygdala. While the hippocampus send all information to the amygdala, a person is stuck in this vicious cycle, perceiving everything, even the most harmless circumstances, as a source of danger. In response to the perception of danger, the amygdala activates the adrenal glands to release cortisol and adrenalin – the stress hormones, further damaging the hippocampus and the vicious circle is complete.

Many people today are living with constant high stress levels - living in a paradigm of competition and survival of the fittest. This mode of being has become the norm among a vast percentage of people living in the US.

In terms of weight, the brain only represents 2.5 percent of the total human body weight. However, it is well known that the brain consumes 20 percent of the energy calories, when the body is at rest.

The energy factories of our body cells, including our brain cells, called mitochondria, use carbohydrates as fuel. Depending on what kind of carbohydrate we are choosing to consume and which – if any - other micro-nutrients are provided along with the carbohydrate of choice, this can make all the difference between breaking the vicious cycle or keeping it going.

While white sugar or other simple sugars, are carbohydrates, brain function and overall function of the body is weakened by this particular expression of a carbohydrate. White sugar is highly processed, and thus devoid of all other micronutrients, such as antioxidants, that act like mitigating factors in the health of the body and brain cells.

Simple sugars as in white sugar, fruit sugar, etc. burn quickly and raise the blood-sugar level dramatically for a short period of time, and then blood-sugar level drops just as dramatically (unless we keep taking sugar non-stop). When abundant antioxidants and other micronutrients are accompanying the sugars you are eating, the damage is not as extensive to the cells of the body, nor the hippocampus cells in particular. However if that is not the case, a vicious cycle is launched: a severe drop in blood-sugar level usually makes us reach for something else to eat, typically a doughnut, candy, soda, etc., in other words processed foods which further damage the hippocampus cells and thus compromise higher brain function.

In the event that we can’t raise our blood-sugar level quickly and hypoglycemia (low-blood-sugar level) sets in, this activates the adrenal glands to release the hormones cortisol and adrenaline. If a person is experiencing hypoglycemia on a daily or weekly basis, even mild forms of hypoglycemia, then the hippocampus cells are harmed and poof - there goes our ability to attain brain synergy and in many cases our ability to use logic and reason, or to use creative learning.

Complex carbohydrates, as in brown rice are essential, as they allow the brain and body to be nourished evenly for a long period of time.

Brown Rice, properly prepared and consumed daily, will provide a much more even level of energy and nourishment, preventing and alleviating hypoglycemia, and thus preventing further damage to brain and other organs of the body.

Furthermore, Brown Rice contains many antioxidants (more than 70) to prevent free radical damage, and in particular one very significant antioxidant: Glutathione, which is the basis for the enzyme glutathione S-transferase. This enzyme is extremely valuable in the detoxification process of cells, repair of DNA, immune enhancement, activation of other enzymes and more. It is deemed a master antioxidant in human physiology.

Glutathione along with another important antioxidant (also found in Brown Rice) called Super Oxidase Dismutase or SOD are able to turn on a genetic switch in our mitochondria, which allow the mitochondria to produce a vast range of antioxidants within the cell that protect the mitochondria and the cells from free radical damage, which is important for our body, brain and especially our sensitive hippocampus. Only when our hippocampus can function, again, will we be able to step out of the paradigm of competition and survival of the fittest.

Brown Rice is one of the whole foods containing Glutathione. It is stored within the Whole Brown Rice Grain in such a way that it does not deteriorate before it gets to the table, unless the grain is broken or moldy. Glutathione stored in many other more rapidly perishable foods loose their Glutathione content quickly – long before it gets to the table. However it is crucial to soak your Brown Rice 12 – 24 hours before cooking it, in order to get the benefit of Glutathione as well as the vast array of other antioxidants[2] (for further information, please read pages 22 – 23 in Authentic Foods by Bettina Zumdick). Phytic Acid and other enzyme inhibitors prevent us from getting the benefits in Brown Rice if eaten without soaking. At the same time, these enzyme inhibitors also ensure the continued availability of these nutrients, which would otherwise decompose.

The complexity of nutrients in Brown Rice work in our favor, in fact they are much more effective than isolated vitamins or other isolated micro-nutrients and supplements, which are not easy to absorb through our digestive system, as they lack the intricacy and networking of their accompanying nutrients.

Other factors, such as daily physical exercise in fresh air, specific substances like sulforaphane, found in the cabbage family vegetables (cabbage, broccoli, kale, brussel sprouts, collards, etc.), omega 3 fatty acids, and DHA or docosahexaenoic acid producing brown sea vegetables like nori, also help repair damage to the brain and specifically the hippocampus.

And while I have diligently tried to highlight specifics about brain function and micronutrients in this article, I also believe the following, as stated in my book Authentic Foods (p.26): “Scientific studies try to analyze their objects of interest by dissecting them. Unfortunately, this mosaic separation and isolation into specific nutrients looses the greater perspective of the harmoniously orchestrated composition of phytonutrients working together.”

Brown Rice along with the before mentioned factors turn on a genetic dormant switch in the body that allows us to step into a paradigm of compassion, connection and perceiving safety and opportunity rather than fear and danger. This is the basic foundation for attaining brain synergy and stretching the invisible muscles of our consciousness further in logical and creative ways to become the solution oriented people and society that I believe we truly are.


[1] Hum. Genetics 1996, Mar; 97(3):319-23.

The heritability of human longevity: a population-based study of 2872 Danish twin pairs born 1870 – 1900.

Centre for Health and Social Policy, Institute of Community Health, Odense University, Denmark


[2] Before cooking whole grains it is important to soak them for 12 - 24 hours or overnight prior to the cooking process. Dry whole grains contain enzyme inhibitors, such as phytic acid, which allow the grains to remain intact in a dormant state for a very long time, until the outer conditions are suitable for developing into a new plant again. These enzyme inhibitors unfortunately have a suppressing effect on our digestive enzymatic process. We can only partially digest non-soaked grains, with most of the valuable phyto-nutrients being un-available. Soaking will deactivate the enzyme inhibitors resulting in much greater nutritional value and digestibility when eating the soaked and cooked rice.

Brown Rice growing in Amherst, MA

Brown Rice growing in Amherst, MA

Tripping over the Truth Conference November 3 - 5, 2017 Recipes from the conference

1.     Saturday first presentation


Miso Soup

Millet with Cauliflower

Arame, dried Daikon with Carrots and Onions

Dried Daikon Tea

Miso Soup 

2 Servings

Utensils: 1 saucepan, 1 bowl for soaking shiitake mushrooms, cutting board, knife, 1 bowl or cup to dilute miso, measuring cup, wooden spoon, tasting spoon

Please use good quality miso – for healing use miso that is fermented for at least 2 years. For everyday use, barley miso, brown rice, chickpea, azuki bean miso.


•         1 teaspoon of wakame flakes

•         2 dried shiitake mushrooms, soaked in 1/2 cup of water, finely sliced, saving the soaking water

•         1 teaspoon brown rice miso, fermented for 2 years or longer

•         1 teaspoon chickpea miso

•         1/4 cup kabocha squash, sliced into small cubes

•         1/4 cup white part of scallions, minced

•         2 cups water (including shiitake mushroom soaking water)

Add the wakame to the water and bring to a boil. Meanwhile, cut the vegetables into small slices/pieces. Add the vegetables and mushrooms into the boiling broth and boil all together for 3 to 5 minutes until the vegetables are soft and edible. Reduce flame to low. Dilute miso ( ½ - 1 teaspoon of miso per cup of broth) in a little water, add to soup, and simmer for 2 – 3 minutes on a low flame. Please note to avoid boiling the soup once the miso has been added.


Millet with Cauliflower

 4 - 5 Servings

Utensils: 1 heavier saucepan like and enamel LeCreuset pot, cutting board, knife, 1 bowl or cup to dilute miso, measuring cup, wooden spoon, tasting spoon


•         1 cup millet, sorted and washed

•         3 – 3 ½ cups of water

•         ¼ teaspoon sea salt

•         ¼ - ½ cauliflower

Place millet, water, salt, and cauliflower into a pot and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for approximately 30 minutes. With a potato masher, mash cauliflower and millet mixture until smooth.

Dried daikon with Arame, Carrots and Onions

 2 - 3 Servings

Utensils: 1 skillet, 2 bowl for soaking dried daikon and rinsing arame, cutting board, knife, measuring cup, wooden spoon, tasting spoon


•       ½ cup dried daikon, Mitoku brand, soaked and sliced

•       ½ cup dried arame, Mitoku brand

•       1 large onion, sliced into thin half moons

•       1 large carrot, sliced into matchsticks

•       Sesame Oil (Hirade - mitoku brand)

•       Soysauce

•       water

Rinse ½ cup dried arame and let it sit. Soak ½ cup dried daikon for approximately 15  - 30 minutes. Remove the dried daikon from the soaking water and slice it finely, and save the soaking water (unless it is dark like stout ale).

Slice 1 large onion into thin half moons and 1 large carrot into matchsticks.

Saute the onion slices in a small amount of sesame oil, then layer the dried daikon, rinsed arame and carrots on top of the onions. Add enough water (include soaking water from dried daikon) to half cover all the ingredients. Cover the pot, bring to a boil, and lower the flame. Simmer for 20 – 30 minutes, until all the ingredients are tender. Add a small amount of soysauce, then simmer a little longer without the lid, to cook away any excess liquid.

Dried Daikon Tea

1 serving

 ½ cup soaked dried daikon

2 cups water

Bring the soaked daikon and water to a boil.  Cover and simmer over low heat for about 20 minutes.  Strain and drink hot. Save the dried daikon for another dish.

Variation:  Add a soaked and finely sliced shiitake mushroom with the dried daikon.  Add finely minced leafy greens in the last 5 minutes of cooking.


2.     Saturday second presentation



Noodles in Broth
Blanched Carrots, Daikon and Watercress Greens
Tofu Shira AE Dressing
Light Lemon Pudding

2. Noodles in Broth
2 Servings


Utensils: 2 saucepans, 1 bowl for soaking shiitake mushrooms and kombu, cutting board, knife, measuring cup, wooden spoon, tasting spoon, strainer

•         4 cups spring water for boiling noodles

•         1 8 oz. package soba or brown rice udon noodles (mitoku brand)

•         1 2-inch piece of kombu, sliced into thin strips

•         2 cups spring water for both

•         1 - 2 dried shiitake mushrooms, soaked and sliced finely

•         1 tablespoon shoyu (nama shoyu brand)          

•         Finely sliced scallions, chives or toasted nori for garnish

Cooking the noodles:

Bring cooking water to boil.  Add noodles and return to the boil.  Check to see if they are cooked by breaking the end of one noodle.  Once cooked, drain and rinse with cold water to stop cooking and prevent clumping.

Cooking the broth:

Place the kombu, shiitake and water into a pot. Bring to boil, lower heat and simmer 5 – 10 minutes.  Season with shoyu and simmer for another 3 – 5 minutes. Place the cooked noodles into individual serving bowls and ladle the broth over the noodles. Garnish with scallions, chives and/or toasted nori.

Blanched Carrots, Daikon and Watercress with Tofu Shira-AE

Serves 4 People

Utensils: 2 saucepans, 1 skillet, several bowls for vegetables/mixing tofu and miso, etc. cutting board, knife, 1 bowl or cup to dilute miso, measuring cup, wooden spoon, tasting spoon


•         1 package extra firm tofu (boiled or steamed for 5 – 7 minutes, until cooked all the way through)


•         2 tablespoons chickpea miso

•         ¼ teaspoon sea salt

•         ½ - 1 carrot, cut into matchsticks

•         3 inch piece of daikon, cut into matchsticks

•         1 bunch watercress, cut into 1-inch pieces (or 2 cups of snap peas)

•         2-inch piece of takuan, sliced into matchsticks

•         4 tablespoons of lightly roasted pine nuts

Bring approximately 2 inches of water to a boil in a saucepan. Add a pinch of salt. Blanche the carrots and watercress. Drain well.

Place the tofu into a suribachi and grind well with a pestle. Add miso and salt and blend together. Place the vegetables, takuan and pine nuts and tofu mixture into a bowl and gently mix.


Light Lemon Pudding

2 servings

Utensils: 1 saucepan, 1 bowl for diluting kuzu, microplane zester, cutting board, knife, measuring cup, wooden spoon, tasting spoon


·       1 cup apple juice

·       pinch of sea salt

·       1 – 2 teaspoons agar flakes

·       1 – 2 teaspoons kuzu, diluted in 1 – 2 tablespoons cold water

·       1 teaspoon lemon juice

·       ½ teaspoons lemon zest (only use organic lemons)

·       mint leaves or lightly roasted pumpkinseeds or almond slivers for garnish or fresh berries


Place apple juice, salt and agar flakes into a saucepan. Bring to a boil and simmer until the agar flakes are completely dissolved. While constantly stirring, slowly add diluted kuzu into the apple juice mixture and heat until the liquid becomes translucent, again and slightly thickens. Add lemon juice and zest; stir gently and remove from heat.

Pour into individual dessert bowls to let it set. When cooled and set garnish with mint leaves, fresh berries or fruit slices or lightly roasted pumpkinseeds or almond slivers.


3.     Sunday presentation


Brown Rice with Sunflower Seeds, Nori and Umeboshi
Sauteed Leeks with Ginger
Fresh Daikon Pressed Salad with Lemon and sea salt
Azuki Beans with Kabocha Squash


Boiled Brown Rice served with toasted sunflower seeds, Umeboshi and toasted Nori

2 - 3 Servings

Utensils: 1 heavier saucepan like and enamel LeCreuset pot, 1 bowl for soaking sunflowerseeds, 1 skillet for stove top roasting, cutting board, knife, wooden spoon, tasting spoon, wooden spatula


•         1 cup of brown rice, sorted, washed and soaked for 8 hour or overnight in 2 cups of water

•         pinch of sea salt or a stamp size piece of kombu

•         2 - 3 Umeboshi Plums, pitts removed and finely diced

•         1/2 cup of sunflowerseeds, soaked overnight, then lightly roasted

•         2 - 3 sheets of Nori, cut into 1 x 4 inch strips

Soak 1 cup of washed and sorted brown rice in 2 cups of water for 8 – 12 hours. Place the rice and with its soaking water into a heavy pot with a pinch of sea salt or a stamp size piece of kombu. Bring to a boil on a medium-high flame. When the water is boiling place a flame deflector underneath the pot and reduce the flame to low. Cook for approximately 45 to 50 minutes. Turn off the flame and let sit for a few minutes. Gently transfer to a wooden or ceramic bowl and serve topped with nori, umeboshi and sunflower seeds.

Sautéed Leeks with Ginger
3 - 4 servings

Utensils: 1 skillet,  2 plates for holding vegetables, cutting board, knife, 1 bowl or cup to dilute miso, measuring cup, wooden spoon, tasting spoon

·       4 cups leeks, finely sliced

·       sesame oil (Hirade - mitoku brand)

·       sea salt

·       1 - 2 teaspoons ginger, minced finely

·       water as needed


Heat a small amount of oil in a skillet and begin by sautéing the white part of the leeks. Add a few pinches of salt. Continue sautéing the vegetables - if a little water is needed during the cooking process to prevent burning, add a few tablespoons of water to the skillet, as needed. Finally add the green part of the leeks and sauté all the ingredients for another minute or two, until the green part of the leek has become tender, but is not overcooked.

Transfer to a serving platter and serve immediately.

Daikon Pressed Salad with Lemon Zest
3 - 4 Servings

Utensils: 2 stackable glass or ceramic bowls, a heavy weight like a large glass jar filled with water that fits inside bowls or a small salad press (also called pickle press), microplane zester, cutting board, knife, 1 bowl or cup to dilute miso, measuring cup, wooden spoon, tasting spoon


•         6 inch piece of fat, juicy daikon

•         ½ - 1 lemon, zested

•         sea salt

Cut daikon into thin half rounds, mix with sea salt. Press in a pickle press for ½ hour – 1 hour. After pressing pour off excess liquid. Mix the pressed daikon with lemon zest and serve.

Azuki Beans with Sweet Winter Squash and Kombu

3 - 4  Servings

Utensils: 1 heavier pot, 1 bowl for soaking Azuki beans, 1 large plate for cut squash, cutting board, knife, measuring cup, wooden spoon, tasting spoon

1 cup azuki beans, sorted, washed and soaked in 3 cups of water

•         4 cups squash, cut into large chunks (best is kabocha squash, or ripe buttercup, or red kuri squash)

•         2 – 3 inch piece of kombu

•         water

•         sea salt

Wash and soak the azuki beans with kombu overnight. Place the kombu in the bottom of a heavy pot and add azuki beans with their soaking water. Cut hard, sweet winter squash into large chunks.
Cook the beans on a low flame until the beans are 70-80% done, about an 40 minutes or more.  The water will be absorbed and some evaporated as the beans expand, so gently add water along the sides of the pot to keep the water level constant and to make the beans soft.
When the beans are 70-80% done, add squash and a few pinches of salt. Cover and cook for another 30 minutes or until the squash is soft and most of the liquid has evaporated. Turn off the flame and let the pot sit for several minutes. Transfer to a serving bowl and serve.



True Healing

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When we do not take time to identify, process and heal emotional injuries, sooner or later they will inconvenience us psychologically and/or physically. In the hubbub of our busy lives, many of us are only vaguely aware of an undercurrent of emotional pain that sometimes even becomes part of our identity—part of the fabric of who we believe we are.  And yet, it is important to realize it is not truly who we are, even though the hurt may have been with us from birth.

An emotional injury or pain is something that needs to be acknowledged, identified and healed. The longer we let it operate from behind the scenes, the harder it is to unravel. Over time, it is likely that we will come face to face with it, as it makes itself known to us in ways that impact us negatively. Rather than waiting for this to happen and finding ourselves in an environment seemingly beyond our control, we can empower ourselves by identifying the pain and resolving to take action to heal it. If our status quo in life is important to us, the very thought of coming face to face with an old (and sometimes deeply buried) injury, may bring up feelings of fear and resistance. However, allowing the hurt feeling to fester inside may scar us and sooner or later inconvenience us physically, emotionally or mentally.

Many paths lead to healing, and we have to find and choose a way that fully resonates with us. The first step is always identification: How do we experience this particular injury or pain? What are its unique qualities? Only then can we proceed to transform this deep feeling of hurtfulness into happiness, well-being, peace and equilibrium. Working with a healer, a healing circle or other such modalities are some options to begin the transformation.

Over the years I have come across one particularly common theme for inner pain:

“Not feeling good enough about oneself.” It may stem from abandonment, being misunderstood and unappreciated or any number of other root causes. Such experiences create a belief of not being worthy and lead us to overcompensate by striving to be better than others, competing for the seemingly limited resources that are at our disposal or exhibiting other behaviors that do not serve us.

When should we undertake a healing journey?
The present moment is always the most powerful. Now is the perfect time to begin the healing process.




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. 


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.


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.

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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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