just a ‘grillin…..

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Backyard grilling!  It wouldn’t be summertime without it! 

ALTHOUGH……………… (leave it to me to throw a wet blanket on your picnic)

Grilling – whether by gas flame or charcoal or even an electric element – demands temperatures 4 – 6 times higher than can be reached in your oven!  And unfortunately, the high heat that makes that wonderful caramelization and browning has a less desirable aspect…..

Your food may become charred before the inside is cooked through!

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Another hazard is cancer causing substances called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons which form when the fat from the meat drips onto hot coals and then sneak into your food through the smoke.  HCA’s or heterocyclic amines, are created from heating meat, poultry or fish to a too high temperature and have been linked to cancer.

But before I totally destroy your backyard plans….here are ways to minimize the cancer risks for you and your family:

  1. Avoid flare-ups, since burning juice or fat can produce harmful smoke.  If smoke from dripping fat is too heavy, move the food to another section of the grill, rotate the grill or reduce the heat.
  2. Cook meat until it is done without charring it.  Remove any charred pieces — don’t eat them.
  3. Don’t place the heat source directly under the meat.  For example, place coals slightly to the side so the fat doesn’t drip on them.  Keep a water bottle handy for coals that become hot or flare up.
  4. Cover the grill with punctured aluminum foil before you cook.  The foil protects the food from the smoke and fire.
  5. Keep meat portions small so they don’t have to spend as long on the grill.
  6. Defrost frozen meats before grilling.  {source}

Grilling is best reserved for quick cooking foods, like fish or even thinner cuts of meat and poultry.  How about throwing some vegetables , such as eggplant, zucchini, peppers or mushrooms on that grill?  Even fruit like, apples, peaches or bananas are great grilled!

Now, get outside and have some spring-time-can’t-wait-for-summertime, BACKYARD FUN!!

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living with labels….

organic 

 

There’s a difference???

So are “natural” and “organic” synonymous with each other?  Well, I’m hopefully going to shed a little light in the label war and you can judge for yourself.  Let’s start…

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ORGANIC:  Products bearing this label are required to contain no less than 95% certified organic ingredients.  The remaining 5% are non-organic and synthetic ingredients.

100% ORGANIC:  By law, these products have to be made entirely of certified organic ingredients, produced in accordance with federal organic standards and include no  synthetics.

MADE WITH ORGANIC INGREDIENTS:  These products have a 70/30 split of organic and non-organic ingredients that have been approved by the USDA.

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NATURAL:  Concerning meat, it means the manufacturer claims to have used no artificial flavors, colors or preservatives.   “Naturally raised means  no growth promoters, antibiotics, animal by-products, or fish by-products.

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FREE RANGE:  This label does NOT mean that the animals have spent most of the time outdoors.  To use this label means the producers have to only offer the animals outdoor access as little as 5 minutes per dayBut “allowing access” doesn’t mean much. A small door in a barn with thousands  of chickens technically gives chickens an opportunity to go outside, but that  doesn’t mean that they’ll have access to grass (it may only be a concrete slab). (via)

Bottom line:  Eat fresh.  Eat local.  Do it.

Eat-Local

is your food playing with you?

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Ahh….nothing like eating your breakfast and catching up on some blog reading…..

Well, you just might want to put your fork down for a moment….unless you have an iron gut…

Today we are talking about eating live foods.

No, not live, as in whole, nutritious fruits and vegetables.  More like live….as in ALIVE….

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Who does this????  Apparently THESE guys!!!!

Alka Sharma writes,

Casu Marzu (Italy)

One form of sheep’s milk cheese is full of crawling white worms. It is  over-fermented – in a stage of decomposition – and is known as Casu  Marzu. It is a traditional dish from Sardinia, Italy that is believed to  increase sexual desire.

Casu Marzu is made when the cheese fly lays eggs (about 500 eggs at one  time). When the eggs hatch, the maggots (larva of the fly) begin to eat through  the cheese. The soft texture of the cheese is a result of the acid from these  thousands of maggots’ digestive systems breaking down the cheese’s fats. But see  for yourself.

The most important aspect of eating Casu Marzu is that it should be eaten  when these wriggling maggots are alive, or else it is full of dead maggots and  is considered to be unsafe. It is also advised to wear eye protection while  eating as these maggots can jump as high as half a foot, straight into the eye.  Also, not only could this food cause allergic reactions and intestinal larval  infection, but it may also lead to vomiting, nausea and deadly diarrhea. Still,  people risk their lives to eat it.”

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Oh super!  Look!  A video to go with the article!! Yay!

Read more at http://www.environmentalgraffiti.com/news-7-bizzare-habits-eating-food-while-animal-still-alive?image=1#baoHOPYo55jojpMM.99

Black seed … curing it all except death? Let’s look…

Black seeds So there it is.  The cure all. 

What is it?  This little seed is not new to the Mediterranean or the Middle East.  Nigella sative, is not only a food but also a valued traditional medicine that has been used to treat many different ailments for thousands of years.

The black seed is a herbaceous plant although has no relation to the kitchen herb, cumin. It has been said to have a slight peppery flavor and is great sprinkled on breads and cheese.   Black seed is tiny and hairy and about 3mm in length, coming from the fennel flower plant of the buttercup family.

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How does it work?  Black seed can help with:

  • Digestive problems including intestinal gas and diarrhea
  • Asthma
  • Allergies
  • Cough
  • Bronchitis
  • Flu
  • Congestion
  • High blood pressure
  • Immune System booster
  • Cancer prevention
  • Birth control
  • Menstrual disorders
  • Increasing breast milk flow
  • Achy joints
  • Headache
  • Skin conditions
  • Parasitic worms

How can I use it?  There are several ways to use black seed:

  • Eat black seeds plain
  • Eat a teaspoon of black seed mixed with honey
  • Boil black seed with water.  Strain and drink
  • Heat black seed and warm milk until it begins to boil.  Remove from heat.  Cool, then drink
  • Grind black seed and swallow it with water and milk
  • Sprinkle on bread and pastries
  • Burn black seed with bukhoor (incense) for a pleasant scent

Any precautions?  Black seed, when used in small quantities, such as a flavoring for foods, appears to be safe for most people, however can cause allergic rashes when applied to the skin.  Not much is known about the safety of black seed during breast-feeding and for pregnant women, it can cause the uterus to stop or slow down contractions.

Always consult your physician before trying any new supplement. 

Sources:

www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-901&activeIngredientName=BLACK%20SEED

www.amazingherbs.com/nareofarblse.html

Umeboshi plums…..time to prune..

LivingWell_UmeBashaPlum Ok, I know plums……but Umeboshi plums?  Had to do a little digging to find out about this superfood!

Umeboshi plums are a Japanese fruit, and are part of the apricot family.  They have a bizarre growth process as the fruit needs to ferment for a month in sea salt brine before it is edible. And as you expected, it has a taste that is salty, fruity and tangy! Think pickled plums…. and people say they are crazy good!

During the Middle Ages,  the pickled plum was the soldier’s most important field ration. It was used to flavor foods such as rice and vegetables, and its high acidity made it an excellent water and food purifier, as well as an effective antidote for battle fatigue.

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Supposedly a superb hangover cure, the umeboshi plum is still used for a variety of medical purposes such as counteracting nausea, reducing fevers, and controlling coughs.

Some say you can schmear the plum on toast, however it just might be a bit too….tangy.  Try it in salads first, pureeing small batches which will replace your vinegar and salt.

Orange Ume Dressing

Makes 1 cup

This is a refreshing summer dressing for tossed salads and noodle salads.

3 level tablespoons toasted sesame seeds or 3 tablespoons tahini

2 teaspoons umeboshi paste or minced umeboshi                      

2 tablespoons light sesame or olive oil                      

1 tablespoon lemon juice                      

Juice of 1 – 1 1/2 oranges (to taste)                      

1 teaspoon minced green onion or chives (optional)

Toast sesame seeds (if using) in a dry skillet over medium heat for 1 – 2 minutes, stirring constantly. When seeds are fragrant and begin to pop, remove from pan to prevent them from overcooking and becoming bitter. Blend first 5 ingredients in a blender until smooth. Mix in scallions or chives (if desired), and chill for 30 minutes before using. (via)

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sick and tired of being sick and tired?

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Most of the foods we eat are obviously not good for you……no matter how good they taste.  Especially all these fun treats we have around the holidays!  These foods include sugar, trans fats, dairy products, fried foods, junk foods, carbonated drinks….oh the list goes on and on.

Turns out, when we eat these foods, we can’t stop – and that’s when we overeat and just never feel fully satisfied.

Why?

The reason  we feel tired, sluggish and bloated (but not satisfied) is because we are not getting enough nutrients from the foods we are eating!  We are filling ourselves with low-nutrient food and lots of chemicals.  Our digestive system is working overtime to process these foods and in the meantime, they have decided to stick around….for days…..undigested.  Ick.

Sugar, put down the sugar!!!

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Says Dr. Oz, in his book, You on a Diet, “Simple sugars create a rebounding effect.  You’re feeling blah, so you eat a 3 Musketeers.  That sugar surge works like an electrical jolt, and you instantly feel more energy.  But less than two hours later, that energy surge (in the form of elevated blood sugar levels ) plummets, and then you feel blah again.  Your conclusion?  You must need another Musketeer!  That rebound effect can put your body in biological turmoil, where you eat to feel better, though what you’re eating is actually making you feel sluggish, so you swirl and swirl around, always feeling like you need to eat.”

What’s a person to do???

  • Eat a little fat 20 minutes before your meal (70 calories or so like 6 walnuts, or 12 almonds)
  • Fill up on fiber in the A.M. (think oatmeal, cereal, whole grains and fruit)
  • Change your plate (try using a smaller or kid’s version of a plate for smaller portions)
  • Slow down, turbo (take your time, put down your fork and chew, chew, chew)
  • Get spicy (add a little hot pepper or salsa to your food to increase your metabolism)

Start simple by eating a large salad.  Nix the croutons, heavy dressing and cheese.  Have fruit for a pick-me-up snack.  Add more veggies to your dinner, drink lots of water and YOU, my friend, are on your way to a healthier, happier YOU!

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Spirulina, the Protein Queen…..a crowning achievement…

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Spirulina….a lovely algae, no?  The Aztecs knew what was up, back in the 16th century and were known to mix it with chocolate.  Chocolate, people.  I’m already on board.

This is one bad (as in good) protein and here is why:

  • It contains the highest concentration of protein (by weight) of any food known.
  • Spirulina is the richest beta carotene food
  • It is the highest source of B12
  • A disease fighter
  • A blood builder
  • An immune system booster

Unlike animal foods, (which day by day I am talking myself out of) Spirulina is a pure, raw source of protein.  It does not have to be cooked and in fact, never should be cooked.  Yay!  Less cooking!

It is readily absorbed and can be easily blended into your favorite beverage, such as a smoothie, or juice.

Spirulina-Powder

According to herb wisdom, “every 10 grams of spirulina can supply up to 70% of the minimum daily requirements for iron, and about three to four times of minimum daily requirements for vitamins A (in the form of beta carotene), B complex, D,and K. By itself, it does not contain vitamin C, but it helps maintain this vitamin’s potency.

Spirulina is rich in gamma-linolenic acid or GLA, a compound found in breast milk that helps develop healthier babies. Moreover, with its high digestibility, spirulina has been proven to fight malnutrition in impoverished communities by helping the body absorb nutrients when it has lost its ability to absorb normal forms of food.

Another health benefit of spirulina is that it stimulates beneficial flora like lactobacillus and bifidobacteria in your digestive tract to promote healthy digestion and proper bowel function. It acts as a natural cleanser by eliminating mercury and other deadly toxins commonly ingested by the body.”

Ok, so let’s get down to taste.  It is a deep green, slightly blue dry algae powder.  Have you ever been in a bait store?  You know, with your grandpa to go fishing…..well, it sorta smells like that.  Fish. In a wet sock. 

You want to be sure that it has a ‘fresh’ smell.  I’ve heard that bad spirulina smells sour or rancid.  Now that, my friends will be hard to tell.  You should speak to a qualified person at your health-food store….and not the temporary Christmas help….you are going to want good quality spirulina.  Or a better option is to check out David Wolfe and read about his incredible knowledge when it comes to superfoods and nutrition.  You will be ASSURED to get the best quality, organic superfoods!  The website will tell you where you can purchase his products or you can go straight to http://www.longevitywarehouse.com/

Look for it to be sold like this:

  • powder (dried)
  • powder (with lecithin)
  • tablets (what I take…with orange juice to get ’em down)
  • protein powder products
  • blue pigment extracts
  • raw spirulina chocolate bars and spirulina energy bars

I usually add spirulina to my smoothies to mask the taste, when I am using the powder.   I am throwing spinach, kale, blueberries, acai berries, raspberries, banana, and cacao nibs in my blender.  A little spirulina tossed in cannot be tasted….just don’t obsess over it and think of the fabulous benefits!

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hey, maca……………rena

Maca…..maca root…..Peruvian ginseng….Andes Aphrodisiac (Yikes!)

We’ve talked about many different superfoods and supplements  (remember What the heck is Moringa?) but today’s lesson, my children, is about maca. 

The Quechua people, descendants of the Incans, have grown this superfood  at super high altitudes!  Imagine trying to harvest your crop at 10,000 feet above sea level!  Legend says that during the Incan days, the warriors would consume maca before entering into battle to make them strong.  However, (close your ears, children) after they conquered the city they were prohibited from using it to protect the women from (gasp!) excessive sexual desires of the men!  Let’s move on….

Maca was so freaking fantastic during the pre- and post-Spanish times that it was used as currency.  (Didn’t the crazy Mayans use the cacao for currency?)

 Maca has the ability to balance and stabilize the body’s glandular-hormonal system, nervous system, cardiovascular system and musculature, says David Wolfe in his book, Superfoods.  Many people say that it cures fatigue, infertility, menopause symptoms (holla!), and the treatment of cancer.  It’s often sold in pill, liquid or the most popular, powder.

Since it is considered a superfood, it can be used over a long period of time without any harmful side effects.  Most people just use one tablespoon of the powder and add it to smoothies, (which is how I use it), nut milks, juices, coffee…or whatever your little heart desires.  I think it has a slightly malted flavor and some use only as flour, since it can have somewhat of a bitter aftertaste.

Some say to eat it raw….which is how I use it in a beverage, but others have said that  Maca MUST be eaten pre-cooked (gelatinized) to obtain all the therapeutic benefits and to keep the digestion problems at bay.  The Peruvians may have done it for thousands of years, but that doesn’t make it safe…or even tasty.

Bottom line?  Lots of benefits, no harmful side effects (when taken as directed).   If you’re going into battle, you might try some in your morning coffee….but when you conquer the city…leave it alone….leave the women alone.