Sunday, February 17, 2013


So the last two weeks of Superfood posts are covering foods that are maybe not labeled Superfoods, but in my kitchen they are because of their versatility and high nutrition! This week we will discuss Quinoa (Keen Wah)! Do you know what this is? Do you love it yet? If it is not in your kitchen, get it there! If you don't like it, I guarantee you haven't fixed it properly.

Quinoa is a gluten free grain replacement. It however is not a grain at all, it is a seed. It is extremely low glycemic. This makes it a Paleo Friendly food! It is a COMPLETE PLANT PROTEIN containing 8.1 grams of protein per cup! That is super great! It is rich in folic acid, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, and potassium.

Traditionally the quinoa plant is grown in South America, specifically in areas like Peru and Chili. However, it is from what I am learning a very hearty plant that can be even grown in containers! I'm excited about that since my living quarters are about to decrease. The leaves can be eaten in salad as well as the seeds being cooked. The oxalic acid rate is kind of high in the leaves though so if that's an issue stay away from those.

Quinoa is best to be soaked before being eaten. Two reasons for this are enzymes and saponins. Any times we soak nuts, seeds, and grains it makes enzymes more available in our foods. Enzymes are an important catalyst in digestion. You don't want to eat quinoa without soaking and cooking or at least soaking and sprouting.

Quinoa contains a plant compound called saponins. Saponins are a neat aspect for plants because it makes them bitter to the taste, which wards off pests and birds. Unfortunately large amounts ingested in our bodies can be toxic. An easy fix is soaking well and rinsing. In the USA most packaged quinoa has been per-rinsed, so that takes a little effort out of kitchen prep work. Just read the box or bag.

It has become so popular you can find it easily in the specialty markets like Whole Foods, Trader Joes, and Fresh Market. Health food stores that are smaller and local are bound to carry it. I've also seen in in Kroger and Costco. Then of course you can purchase it online.

If you actually haven't tried it yet, then I suggest going somewhere like Whole Foods Market and getting a 1/2 lb in bulk to try it. I've been told the quinoa in the bins is pre-soaked as well. Check on that in your local store.

You can use quinoa just like you would rice. It generally takes about 11/2 cups of water to 1 cup of quinoa. I throw the water and quinoa in the pot together. It takes about 10 minutes on the stove. Stir it occasionally. You know it's cooked when the little off-white circles seem to have separated from the seeds.

I've used quinoa in salad with greens, or I've added homemade dressings to it with other veggies. It goes great in a stir fry! You can make a type of lasagna casserole dish with it. It goes great with black beans for a Tex Mex dish. It loves avocado, oh wait, maybe that's me who loves avocado. Fix it like oatmeal in the morning. Cooked quinoa can even be a protein source in smoothies. Most recently I used up some leftovers in a protein bar recipe. I have also thrown leftovers in soup. The sky is the limit!

Superfoods: Kale

So are you kicking it with kale yet? No, it is not just the garnish on your plate. I've written about it before and I'm sure I will again. This my most favorite green! By far it is super nutritious and packed full of versatility! It is delicious, and anyone who says they don't like it hasn't had it made correctly. Please do try it if you haven't.

Kale is available at your regular grocery store, specialty market, farmers market, and easily grown in your backyard. You want to buy it organic or unsprayed from your local farmer. It grows well in the winter time and summer time even though it is a winter green. Since it is a winter green it is hardy and used to growing in difficult conditions. This life giving leafy green brings an abundance of calcium, vitamin C, vitamin K1, vitamin A, potassium. Kale also has some magnesium and phosphorus.

I love to eat it raw as well as cooked. It is my current favorite green for my smoothies. I fluctuate between it and spinach. Dehydrated it makes a lovely snack! Kale chips are how I get kale in my picky 12 year old. I throw it in soups, blend it for green soups, use it as my favorite base for salads, and love to sauté it in coconut oil with other veggies and beans.

Try this Crustless Quiche Recipe:

3 Large Leaves Organic Kale, remove leaves from stem and tear into pieces,
discard or eat stem :)
1/2 Cup Red Onion, diced
1 Fresh Garlic Clove, minced
1/2 Yellow Bell Pepper, diced
1/2 Cup Tomato, diced
1/2 Cup Shiitake Mushrooms, diced stem and all
5 Organic Cage Free Eggs
1/2 Tsp Celtic Sea Salt
Fresh Ground Black Pepper, to taste
1-2 Tbsp Organic Unrefined Coconut Oil

Prepare veggies
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Sauté veggies, except for avocado, in cast iron pan or whatever pan you have in coconut oil
Beat eggs in a bowl, add salt and pepper
Pour veggies and eggs into ceramic or glass dish
Bake for 35 minutes, let cool a little for 5-10 minutes
Serve on plate with avocado slices on top!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Superfoods: Maca

So we are constantly bombarded by junk. Junk in our food, junk in our air, junk in our water, and junk on surfaces we touch. Into our digestive tracts, lungs, and lymphatic system all goes the yuck. The yuck or junk being chemicals, additives, infected bacteria, and other poisons. There is just no way for us to avoid it completely.

All we can do is our best. Inside our homes eating the cleanest foods we can by either buying local organic foods or growing them ourselves, using natural products on our bodies, natural cleaning products, and using water filtration and air filtration.

The fact of the matter is we are not, well most of us, are not hermits. From time to time we have to leave the comfort of our little bubbles. No matter how clean your oasis is at home, even there we suck up the yuck.

Knowing this would be the case, once again our real Superhero, the creator of Superfoods and everything else, Yeshua the Christ, He made a class of herbs called Adaptagenics. This cool set of herbs helps our bodies adjust more simply to the yuck...yay for Adaptagenic herbs!

So we are on to the next Superfood: Da da da daaaaa presenting Maca (pronounced MAH KA). You know if any superfood wore a cape it would be this one. Maca is actually a Peruvian root. It falls into that class of herbs for what it does in our bodies. I will talk more about other Adaptagenic herbs soon in another post.

Maca is marvelous! It does three main jobs: regulates hormones, gives energy, and drum roll married ladies, increases libido. So yes it can help us girls balance out and feel a little less crazy during that time of the month or regulate hormones if you are going through menopause. It works well with other herbs like chaste tree, black cohosh, and evening primrose. I can tell you I use it, and it really does work. I suggest it for customers at the natural supplement store I work ALL of the time.

You can purchase it at small and large health food stores. I encourage you to shop local and with small businesses if you can do so. Keep the small businesses in business. Sorry for my little detour and the plug there.

So anyway you'll find Maca in capsules, liquid tinctures, or in powder. Either way it is fine. I'm a green smoothie girl so powder it is for me! Herb Pharm is a great brand. They sell a powder and a tincture. I am the type of person who prefers powders and liquids anyway. The less pills in my mind the better. It's a preference.

Although sometimes I wonder about what capsules are made of and if swallowing so many of those is a problem. I prefer capsules to tablets though because in most cases I think they are more effective at breaking down and our bodies absorbing whatever it is we are taking. Oh and there was another detour, oh well.

One thing to be aware of with Maca is there's been quite a bit of testing done with it and it has been found that raw Maca is a little harder to digest for some people and can really hurt some people's stomachs. It is in the cruciferous vegetable family, so this may have a lot to do with it. Certain people just need those vegetables cooked. It can also cause some people to be unable to sleep. So if this happens to be you, and you've tried it, don't give up on Maca yet. Just be sure you choose one that has been slightly cooked. Read the label to see what it says or call the company to find out. The gentle brief cooking doesn't harm it's benefits to the body. In fact in Peru they consume the whole root cooked, so it's something to think about as far as how the culture that has used this root for centuries consumes it. Even though I love raw foods, we need to step away from the dogmatic ways of eating, and really consider what makes good sense in general and for our own bodies.

Use wisdom of course. One mans superfood could be another mans poison. Use it as directed in which ever form you purchase it. Be sure to adjust serving sizes as well. I may need a tbsp and you may only need a tsp. Listen to your body. If you don't have any adverse effects, then give it at least a month to work synergistically in your body with everything else.

Superfoods: Hempseed

Right off the bat especially with this post if you didn't know before, yes I am a Conservative Christian Hippy! How those all go together I'm not sure, but that's me in a nutshell. So on to the next caped crusader: hempseed. It is wonderful! Some of you may have heard of it and already have it in the kitchen, and other ones may be more familiar with it's cousin of the same plant. Rest assured that while industrialized hemp and marijuana are essentially the same plant, they are completely different.

The difference lies in how the plant has been cultivated. Industrialized hemp, mostly grown in Canada, is grown close together. That closeness allows the stalks to grow very high. That's great because it an environmentally friendly outlet for many products produced commercially. Marijuana is grown very spread out to produce lots of bushy leaves, for well, you know. Industrialized hemp is NOT psychoactive and doesn't test positive for THC.

So lets discuss the benefits of hempseed. It is a versatile seed because it can be used in smoothies, on salad, mixed with other seeds and grains, in desserts, and even for dairy free milk. It is a lovely complete plant protein. Three tablespoons gives 11 grams of protein, enough for one meal. It also is a good source for calcium. Since it is a seed, and not a grain, it is gluten free. It is often my preferred protein source in smoothies for myself and my children. I often suggest this to parents of picky children who don't like to eat animal foods like meat, fish, or eggs for protein. Utilizing plant protein is much easier on the digestive system, so if you are an omnivore switch protein sources and have a wide variety.

Try this recipe for hemp milk:

1 cup of hempseeds
3-4 cups filtered water, see how thick you want it
* Optional: 2 dates for sweetness

Blend together, and enjoy. Straining hemp milk is also optional.

Superfoods: Coconut

Okay, okay, okay so I without a doubt will say that the coconut is my favorite superfood! It is so useful and versatile. The Lord out did Himself making this tree. The fruit it bears is exemplary. It is full of protein, healthy fat, fiber, vitamins, and is very healing to the body inside and out. The coconut is composed of four main parts: the flesh, the oil, the water, and the shell.

The Flesh

The flesh of the coconut is extremely nutritious. You can eat it fresh or dried. It is high in some B vitamins; specifically B1 Thiamin, B2 Riboflavin, and B3 Niacin. Thiamin directly aids a well functioning nervous system, the regulation of muscle control, as well as the production of hydrochloric acid. Riboflavin is rich in ripe coconuts. We need it for healthy cell growth. Niacin is helpful in reducing high cholesterol as well as preventing heart attacks. High doses of niacin can be helpful in treating depression.

When the flesh is dried and ground it becomes a lovely protein rich, gluten free flour. Be aware like most gluten free flours it works best in combination of another gluten free flour. In some recipes it does stand well alone though. It doesn't take much flour in recipes either, so it can be cost effective despite the fact that the initial cost is somewhat high, again though, you get what you pay for in all areas.

From the flesh, inside the coconut tree comes a type of sap. According to the makers of the Coconut Secret product line, "The nutrient-rich coconut sap comes right out of the tree naturally abundant in 17 Amino Acids (the building blocks of protein), broad-spectrum B Vitamins (especially rich in Inositol, known for its effectiveness on depression, high cholesterol, inflammation, and diabetes), Vitamin C, Minerals (high in Potassium, essential for electrolyte balance, regulating high blood pressure, and sugar metabolism), as well as FOS (a prebiotic that promotes digestivehealth)."

The drying of the sap creates several wonderful products that are excellent to be consumed: coconut nectar (tastes like a cross between honey and maple syrup), vinegar (use instead of white vinegar in recipes; white vinegar shouldn't be eaten, white vinegar is only good for cleaning), aminos (super soy sauce substitute), and sugar crystals (tastes like brown sugar; perfect for baking). The process to extract the sap is quite lengthy. Someone needs to get to the top of the tree, tap the sap by inserting bamboo shoots into the tree. It can flow for up to twenty years, so that's quite a supply. Also the sap is naturally sweet so no high heat processing is necessary to produce sweetness as in other syrups. That means the sap retains its raw enzymes that are very beneficial to the body.

The flesh blended with water is what gives us the lovely coconut milk. You can make your own easily. It's one of the easier non-dairy milks to make because it's just one to two steps, depending on what you need the milk for in your kitchen. I'll have instructions on how to do it in my recipe e-book that will be ready in April! If you ever purchase one in the store look for organic whole coconut milk.

The Oil

If there is only one oil you keep in your home, make it organic, extra virgin, unrefined coconut oil. It is one of the best oils to cook with because it has a high healthy saturated fat count. The fat allows it to have a high heat tolerance. This makes it perfect for cooking. Most other oils cannot withstand the heat. The elevated temperatures change the chemical structure of otherwise healthy oils such as extra virgin olive and hemp oils.

The main nutrient is lauric acid. At one time coconut oil was abundantly used in our foods. When the use of cheaper oils devoid of nutrition came into play such as canola and vegetable oils there became a lack of lauric acid in the diet. When we consume lauric acid it turns into monolaurin. That is a superhero compound that fights bacterial infections and some viruses. Breast milk is the only other natural source of lauric acid. There are 7 grams of lauric acid per tablespoon of coconut oil.

For medicinal use 2-3 tablespoons daily is recommended according to Dr. Bruce Fife, author of Coconut Cures. You can come this straight off of a spoon, or do as I do and combine it in foods like smoothies, spreading it on Paleo bread, or putting it in raw desserts. Coconut oil is a natural extractor of toxins. It has been studied to be effective in treatment of memory disorders like dementia and Alzheimer's. On occasion when I oil pull for detoxing purposes, I use it as well.

Due to the natural composition of the oil it contains awesome antibacterial and anti microbial properties. It is an excellent moisturizer for the whole body. I use it as my night time facial moisturizer. In the evening I will massage coconut oil into my scalp and on my hair for a conditioning treatment, and wash it in the morning. During the day I will apply a small amount for dry ends and reducing frizziness. I use it as my make up remover. I combine it with essential oils for medical chest and feet rubs. It is wonderful to apply on rashes, especially baby diaper rash. You can combine it with baking soda and lavender essential oil for a deodorant. I use it to make tooth soap, as opposed to using toothpaste, which can actually damage the teeth.

The Water

Throw out the Gatorade, Pedialyte, Propel, and all of the other so called electrolyte beverages. They are full of bleached sugar, artificial sweeteners, high fructose corn syrup, as well as dangerous artificial food colorings and dyes. Electrolytes are special salts the body uses for our cells to communicate. Therefore electrolytes are extremely important. When we sweat, vomit, or have diarrhea a lot we lose an abundance of electrolytes. In order to replace them an excellent solution is to drink real coconut water. It is the clear juice inside the young coconuts. Young coconuts shells are green in color. You can also purchase them with the green portion off in which case they would look white with a pointy top.

The coconut water that has been sitting on the shelf in a Tetra Pak doesn't seem to have the same healing benefits of the water straight from the coconut. Dr. Bruce Fife, says in his book Coconut Cures, that coconut water reduces problems for infants suffering from intestinal distress, it keeps the body cool, cures malnourishment, dissolves kidney stones, and many other medicinal uses.

It is important to keep in mind the quality of coconuts and coconut water you purchase. Dr. Joseph Mercola says, "The most common variety of coconut being grown today for harvesting coconut water is a high-water yield dwarf hybrid variety that CAN be heavily fertilized and sprayed with pesticides. This makes it very important for you to select organic coconut water and organic fresh coconuts."

The Shell

The outer shell we do not consume, yet it can be very useful in the home. When well cleaned and allowed to dry it can be used for cups, bowls, cooking utensils. They burn well, and are non toxic to inhale so they are a great fuel for fires. The shells are extremely absorbent, therefore shredded they make a great mulch. Also the natural carbon in the shell makes it great to use for water filtration. The water filter in your home now just might be using coconut shells!

As you see the coconut tree is truly an outstanding creation by the Most High. If you haven't adopted coconut products into your diet and health practices, and you don't have a coconut allergy, I highly suggest you become acquainted with them.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Superfoods: Bee Products

Thank you for continuing in the Superfoods Series with me. So as you can see we are talking about the bee! They are so wonderful! Don't understimate the power of the bee! Seriously though foods like raw honey, royal jelly, bee pollen, and propolis are amazing! These are all different products our friends the bees make.

Raw Honey
It is probably the most familiar. Many of you probably already have it in the house, and with good reason. All raw honey, if truly raw, is a winner! First of all its delicious, never discount healthy foods that taste good right out of the gate. Second of all consuming raw, local honey has amazing immune boosting benefits. Its a natural anitbacterial. So its great for defeating infections. Anyone with seasonal allergies should include raw, local honey in their food regimen regularly, even daily. I mention the word local due to the fact that honey harvested by bees in your individual areas has the pollen from your area that gives you so much trouble. Consider it a safe vaccination. Buy it in glass, if possible. Plastic will leak toxins. If you have acne or breakouts, do a honey mask 1-2 times a week. Just put a little in your hand, rub it on your face, leave on for 10-15 minutes or until dripping, and then wash off gently with lukewarm water and a wash cloth.

Royal Jelly
So this is neat stuff. It's actually a combo of pollen plus honey from an exclusive group of what are called nurse bees. This is traditionally food reserved for the queen. It is an energizing food, far safer and more beneficial than a cup of coffee. It's loaded with minerals and some B vitamins, that's why it's so energizing. It's usually mixed with raw honey when you purchase it. A teaspoon a day is beneficial. It is helpful to those with memory issues. It can also assist hormonal troubles in both men and women.

Bee Pollen
I cannot express to you how crazy I am about this bee product. You can buy bee pollen in capsules, but I prefer it in the raw granule form. The granules are soft in texture. I love to just eat them. So the good stuff in them are antioxidants, those are the vitamins that fight cancer. It is said to be good for fertility. I take them for the enzymes and the B vitamins. They give a super healthy energy boost. Sometimes I'll just pour some in my hand and pop them in the mouth. They have a unique flavor, I guess it's honey-esque. I throw some in my smoothies. My favorite way to eat them though is with sliced Granny Smith apples and raw almond butter in a bowl. I'll scoop some raw almond butter on one side of the bowl, put the apple slices on the other side, sprinkle bee pollen granules on top of the almond butter, and then scoop them up with the slices. That is my FAVORITE snack! One thing is you never want to heat them. You'll kill the good stuff.

So the way God created bees is so cool. They are extremely fascinating creatures. Propolis is actually supposed to be used as a type of protection for the bees. Bees actually gather the propolis from trees. It's a sticky glue like substance. So they use it to seal up the cracks of the hive to prevent intruders from invading...pretty sneaky of them huh :) The cool part for us is it kind of does the same thing in our bodies. It helps keep out invaders, like unhealthy bacteria from deciding to take up residence. It's a superhero immune booster with B vitamins, vitamin C, minerals, and vitamin A.

Hopefully, if you didn't know much about bee products or didn't know anything that I peaked your interest. Local bee products produced by responsible bee keepers in your area is always best for immune support. Check out your local small business health food store or farmers market and see what they have available.

Superfoods: Goji Berries

If you aren't into the raw food circuit too much, you may not know the term superfood. Stand in a health food store for more than five minutes though and they will be all around you. They are valuable and worth learning about for sure. I'll discuss some more exotic superfoods as well as ones I consider to be local, more attainable superfoods. The next several blog posts will be a series on Superfoods. I'll break down each one per post each week.

Currently I'm reading raw food guru and author, David Wolfe's book, Superfoods. I've been familiar with David for almost 4 years now. He was also one of my lecture speakers when I attended the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. David is full of life and energy and he attributes it to superfoods.

Superfoods are foods considered to be higher in nutrient and mineral values. Making them a part of your regular diet will increase nutrition, give more energy, over all boost immune health. Many times these are foods grown in areas that much less bothered standard farming practices. The soil hasn't been as disturbed and growing practices are much more sustainable or completely wild.

Using foods as medicine unfortunately has been an art that was lost in modern medicine. Why we think we can recreate something better in a lab is beyond me. Pride and dollars, two pesky little things that really get in the way of good common sense and whole body healing. Real foods have necessary healing properties to the body built in to them by our creator and Lord Yeshua, the Christ. Eating to live on a regular basis instead of just filling a bottomless pit, which is what our stomachs become when we don't give our bodies adequate and optimal nutrition, is how to defeat constant illness.

The Benefits to Getting to Know More About Superfoods

The great part about superfoods is, well, almost everything. Lets talk about which foods are considered to be so called superfoods and each ones individual properties. In this post I'll touch on goji berries. Again at the end of the series I'll also mention very attainable more common foods I, personally, consider to be superfoods that you can and should integrate into regular living.

Goji Berries

I really enjoy these little berries. They are pinkish to red in color. You will find them dry in the store. They are worth at least trying. They are a toxin flusher and immune booster. Gojis have a sweet taste, similar to raisins in my opinion. They grow in America and Asia. They are a good source of iron, calcium, selenium, and they increase our HGH (human growth hormone), which is our anti aging hormone. They help keep our adrenal glands healthy. That is important for hormonal health, hormones are EVERYTHING! I put them in smoothies. I also will soak them in water. You can use the rehydrated berries as treats by themselves, in baked goods you use other berries for, and be sure to drink the water you soaked them in for nutrients.

Trail Mix
1/2 cup raw almonds
1/2 cup raw walnuts
1/3 cup raw pumpkin seeds
1/4 cup raw buckwheat, soaked and dried
1/3 cup goji berries