Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Put Your Oxygen Mask on First!

Is there an emergency drill? There certainly must be an airplane emergency, if you're having to put your mask on first! No, this is just my reminder that we need to take care of ourselves first before we can help others. You know, put your oxygen mask on first before you help the child next to you. So, from where you stand now, are you doing this? Are you taking care of yourself in the midst of the annual holiday chaos?

Holiday To Dos

1) Breathe. Take a moment to breathe. There is nothing as simple as taking a long, deep breath, but when was the last time you really took a long deep breath? Most of us run around breathing shallowly and not getting oxygen deep down into our belly. Try it.. you might like it! Start off slow though if you aren't used to it so your lungs can get used to the increased oxygen.

2) Get some fresh air and sunlight (if you have some!). If it's cold outside, bundle up and head on out. Enjoy the crispy air.

3) Smile. Look at a loved one and smile at him or her. It doesn't matter if we're talking about a significant other, a child, or a pet, or even your worst neighbor or coworker! Positive energy can transfer to others and can only serve to lift you up.

4) Get physical. You can take this however way you want - it's about moving your body in a good way. Physical movement and physical touch are things our physical bodies all crave, and setting off endorphins naturally is a great way to feel good throughout the season!

Luckily, this holiday season has not been crazy for me at all, but I have realized with all the best intentions in the world, that I have not been able to update my blog every week - as I had originally intended once I switched jobs at the end of November. I am happy to say that I have been taking care of myself more. Eating healthy has not been a problem for me, but relieving stress and getting exercise, fresh air and sunlight have been. So putting my mask on first has been taking care of the physical elements my body has been craving.

What ways are you putting your mask on first?

Friday, November 20, 2009

Changes in the Air and Giving Thanks for All of It

This month, my birth month, has been INSANE with changes, in a good way! Current job as project manager officially ended today. Go me! I liked all the people I worked with, but the job itself wasn't enough for me. I can certainly be the go-to person to get projects done, but it didn't fill me with the passion I exude when I talk about real food. That's why the past weekend at the Weston A. Price Wise Traditions Conference in Schaumburg, IL, I really felt I was in my element because I was surrounded by people who enjoyed real food as much as I do!

Next week is all about Thanksgiving, family, giving thanks, and, of course, food. Real food! But, mostly, the focus on next week is Gratitude, with a capital G. I am soooooo grateful for everything that has come into my life the past days/weeks/months/years/lifetime:

* I am grateful for a job that supported me the past two years while I was able to figure out "what I wanted to do when I grew up".

* I am so thankful to find a new job that really fits aligned with my passions and my values. New job starts on November 30th. I will be able to help bunches of people lose weight and become healthier, possibly even avoid becoming diabetic or reduce their medications, by educating them on making smarter, real-food choices.

* I am happy that, even though I have had to hear the messages a few times before it all clicked in my head, my awareness about my own health has improved. My drumming teacher exclaimed loudly today, "Is that you??" while looking at a Christmas photo from two years back. I looked at the photo and realized, WOW, I really do look so much healthier now than I had two years ago (and really, even two months ago). My weight hasn't changed much because I still pretty much fit into the same clothes, BUT the puffiness around my face and bloating elsewhere are gone. I don't seem so flabby now, even with the minimal walking/dancing that I do each week. I have been eating real foods now following the 80/20 rule, but it wasn't until I cut out the grains, gluten, and simple sugars completely and starting eating enough high-quality fats that my body started deflating. What a HUGE difference. And, I'm learning to listen to myself and not so much depend on what other people's suggestions on "the ideal diet". I had to figure things out for myself as an individual. I am unique, and so are you!

* I am making new connections with people in my community, some of which will be very helpful in my future real-food promoting endeavors.

* And, I am soooooo grateful for all the people who came before me on this path to promote real food. For all the farmers who decided enough was enough and are providing organic, free-range, grassfed/pastured products - thank you. For all the food activists, like the Weston A. Price Foundation's Sally Fallon Morell, who get up every day to promote wholesome food and dispel incorrect information to the public - thank you. For all the volunteers who helped organize the Wise Traditions conference and the real food bloggers (you know who you are!) so that more people can become aware of how their food gets to their plate - thank you. I am honored to be able to follow your footsteps, and hope to provide a voice to strengthen those already fighting the good food fight!

Now, I can't wait for all the roasting, fermenting, and cooking to begin!!


PS - If you are looking for some really awesome real food recipes to try out, check these out from the Wise Traditions' conference. The food there was AMAZING, and I can vouch for the tastiness! Thanks to Amanda Love, the Barefoot Cook, and Sally Fallon Morell (from her Nourishing Traditions cookbook) for providing these recipes.

Friday, November 6, 2009

November: opportunities, conference, and more

Life has been a whirlwind. My blogging activity had died down over the past month or so when things got really hectic at work. But this is where everything changes!

I found out about a part-time opportunity, really, more of a paid internship than anything, where I would be able to educate overweight, diabetics, and pre-diabetic people on becoming healthier by eating REAL FOOD. This is SO in line with my goals that I had to consider the opportunity. And without a hitch, I was hired in 15 minutes!

So, what this means is: more free time to work on the MS in Holistic Nutrition, work time is spent gaining experience at what I love to do, more free time to practice what I am learning in other wellness centers, AND more time to BLOG.

My blog garden (like my real-life garden) is in disarray. Sad, but true. I am hoping to add more creative, structured content regularly to really match what I am learning and to make observations on what I come across in actual clients.

This will be fun!

First, I have to get through the next two weeks of old work, Weston A. Price Foundation's Annual Wise Traditions Conference in Schaumburg, IL next week, and Thanksgiving! If you are planning on attending the conference, give me a buzz and let me know. I would love to meet people in person!


Sunday, September 13, 2009

Michael Pollan's Article - The Elephant in the Healthcare Room

I had to repost this article from Michael Pollan from the New York Times. Thank goodness for people like Michael Pollan.

September 10, 2009
Op-Ed Contributor
Big Food vs. Big Insurance
Berkeley, Calif.

TO listen to President Obama’s speech on Wednesday night, or to just about anyone else in the health care debate, you would think that the biggest problem with health care in America is the system itself — perverse incentives, inefficiencies, unnecessary tests and procedures, lack of competition, and greed.

No one disputes that the $2.3 trillion we devote to the health care industry is often spent unwisely, but the fact that the United States spends twice as much per person as most European countries on health care can be substantially explained, as a study released last month says, by our being fatter. Even the most efficient health care system that the administration could hope to devise would still confront a rising tide of chronic disease linked to diet.

That’s why our success in bringing health care costs under control ultimately depends on whether Washington can summon the political will to take on and reform a second, even more powerful industry: the food industry.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, three-quarters of health care spending now goes to treat “preventable chronic diseases.” Not all of these diseases are linked to diet — there’s smoking, for instance — but many, if not most, of them are.

We’re spending $147 billion to treat obesity, $116 billion to treat diabetes, and hundreds of billions more to treat cardiovascular disease and the many types of cancer that have been linked to the so-called Western diet. One recent study estimated that 30 percent of the increase in health care spending over the past 20 years could be attributed to the soaring rate of obesity, a condition that now accounts for nearly a tenth of all spending on health care.

The American way of eating has become the elephant in the room in the debate over health care. The president has made a few notable allusions to it, and, by planting her vegetable garden on the South Lawn, Michelle Obama has tried to focus our attention on it. Just last month, Mr. Obama talked about putting a farmers’ market in front of the White House, and building new distribution networks to connect local farmers to public schools so that student lunches might offer more fresh produce and fewer Tater Tots. He’s even floated the idea of taxing soda.

But so far, food system reform has not figured in the national conversation about health care reform. And so the government is poised to go on encouraging America’s fast-food diet with its farm policies even as it takes on added responsibilities for covering the medical costs of that diet. To put it more bluntly, the government is putting itself in the uncomfortable position of subsidizing both the costs of treating Type 2 diabetes and the consumption of high-fructose corn syrup.

Why the disconnect? Probably because reforming the food system is politically even more difficult than reforming the health care system. At least in the health care battle, the administration can count some powerful corporate interests on its side — like the large segment of the Fortune 500 that has concluded the current system is unsustainable.

That is hardly the case when it comes to challenging agribusiness. Cheap food is going to be popular as long as the social and environmental costs of that food are charged to the future. There’s lots of money to be made selling fast food and then treating the diseases that fast food causes. One of the leading products of the American food industry has become patients for the American health care industry.

The market for prescription drugs and medical devices to manage Type 2 diabetes, which the Centers for Disease Control estimates will afflict one in three Americans born after 2000, is one of the brighter spots in the American economy. As things stand, the health care industry finds it more profitable to treat chronic diseases than to prevent them. There’s more money in amputating the limbs of diabetics than in counseling them on diet and exercise.

As for the insurers, you would think preventing chronic diseases would be good business, but, at least under the current rules, it’s much better business simply to keep patients at risk for chronic disease out of your pool of customers, whether through lifetime caps on coverage or rules against pre-existing conditions or by figuring out ways to toss patients overboard when they become ill.

But these rules may well be about to change — and, when it comes to reforming the American diet and food system, that step alone could be a game changer. Even under the weaker versions of health care reform now on offer, health insurers would be required to take everyone at the same rates, provide a standard level of coverage and keep people on their rolls regardless of their health. Terms like “pre-existing conditions” and “underwriting” would vanish from the health insurance rulebook — and, when they do, the relationship between the health insurance industry and the food industry will undergo a sea change.

The moment these new rules take effect, health insurance companies will promptly discover they have a powerful interest in reducing rates of obesity and chronic diseases linked to diet. A patient with Type 2 diabetes incurs additional health care costs of more than $6,600 a year; over a lifetime, that can come to more than $400,000. Insurers will quickly figure out that every case of Type 2 diabetes they can prevent adds $400,000 to their bottom line. Suddenly, every can of soda or Happy Meal or chicken nugget on a school lunch menu will look like a threat to future profits.

When health insurers can no longer evade much of the cost of treating the collateral damage of the American diet, the movement to reform the food system — everything from farm policy to food marketing and school lunches — will acquire a powerful and wealthy ally, something it hasn’t really ever had before.

AGRIBUSINESS dominates the agriculture committees of Congress, and has swatted away most efforts at reform. But what happens when the health insurance industry realizes that our system of farm subsidies makes junk food cheap, and fresh produce dear, and thus contributes to obesity and Type 2 diabetes? It will promptly get involved in the fight over the farm bill — which is to say, the industry will begin buying seats on those agriculture committees and demanding that the next bill be written with the interests of the public health more firmly in mind.

In the same way much of the health insurance industry threw its weight behind the campaign against smoking, we can expect it to support, and perhaps even help pay for, public education efforts like New York City’s bold new ad campaign against drinking soda. At the moment, a federal campaign to discourage the consumption of sweetened soft drinks is a political nonstarter, but few things could do more to slow the rise of Type 2 diabetes among adolescents than to reduce their soda consumption, which represents 15 percent of their caloric intake.

That’s why it’s easy to imagine the industry throwing its weight behind a soda tax. School lunch reform would become its cause, too, and in time the industry would come to see that the development of regional food systems, which make fresh produce more available and reduce dependence on heavily processed food from far away, could help prevent chronic disease and reduce their costs.

Recently a team of designers from M.I.T. and Columbia was asked by the foundation of the insurer UnitedHealthcare to develop an innovative systems approach to tackling childhood obesity in America. Their conclusion surprised the designers as much as their sponsor: they determined that promoting the concept of a “foodshed” — a diversified, regional food economy — could be the key to improving the American diet.

All of which suggests that passing a health care reform bill, no matter how ambitious, is only the first step in solving our health care crisis. To keep from bankrupting ourselves, we will then have to get to work on improving our health — which means going to work on the American way of eating.

But even if we get a health care bill that does little more than require insurers to cover everyone on the same basis, it could put us on that course.
For it will force the industry, and the government, to take a good hard look at the elephant in the room and galvanize a movement to slim it down.

Michael Pollan, a contributing writer for The Times Magazine and a professor of journalism at the University of California, Berkeley, is the author of “In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Goodbye August

I cannot believe I have let the entire month of August go by without one blog entry. OK, I'll fit one in just for today! It has been one crazy month, with my finishing my first full term of my core curriculum just last week. I will be glad for the summer haze to be over soon, even as temperatures still go sky-high at night these days.

Moving on to my weight management class (ugh!) and digestion class (yay!), starting next month. So, two more weeks of vacation before next term starts. I promise to write more once I'm in the groove again (at least within the next few weeks!). I have learned a tremendous amount lately on insulin resistance and systemic hormone imbalances and inflammation.

More later,

Friday, July 31, 2009

Eggplants, My Favorite Veggie

I love eggplants - I adore them. Eggplants, also known as aubergines, can be an acquired taste, especially if you did not grow up eating it. They come in different sizes, but mostly are purple (there are some white ones too). One of my favorite recipes (below) is one I grew up eating regularly. My siblings hated it, but I was always excited to eat it.. must have been the fair share of butter! As an adult, I love baba ganoush (a Middle Eastern dip), moussaka (a Greek stuffed eggplant), eggplant parmesan, grilled eggplant chips, etc. If it has eggplant in it, I'm there!

(photo credit: The Marmot)

Nutritionally, eggplants are not heavy hitters, but they are valuable! They are low in calories, some fiber, no fat, and are a rich source of manganese. They are a great way to round out a meal.

Japanese Eggplant Stirfry
A very simple recipe.. you can use Japanese eggplants (which are narrow and dark purple) or Italian, or Chinese. I think most other kinds would work, just eyeball quantities to match the amount you need. They do shrink down a bit when cooked.

Eggplant, peeled & cut into bite-sized chunks
Sea salt & pepper
Butter - from grassfed, pastured cows or organic preferably

In a large saucepan, place cut-up eggplant and enough water to cover the bottom of the pan. On medium-low heat, cover with a lid and steam them for about 15 minutes. Check the water level mid-way so that they don't burn! They should be fairly soft at this point and all of the water gone. Add a chunk of butter (or two!) to the mix. Salt & pepper to taste. Enjoy!

Thanks to Diane from The WHOLE Gang for inspiring me to post this recipe for her Friday Foodie collection!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Don't let HR 2749 Pass! Contact your Legislators Today!!

HR 2749, also known as the Food Safety Enhancement Act, did not pass earlier this week, and it could potentially be up for vote again today. We need to prevent this from happening for all the local, artisanal, family farmers out there. HR 2749 will impose extreme hardship on the people we need most in our food system by forcing them to pay high fees and provide extensive paperwork, all to do business.

There are three ways to contact your representatives:

1) Send an email through the Oppose HR 2749 petition on http://bit.ly/Oppose_HR2749
2) Got to "My Elected Officials" at http://www.house.gov and enter your zip code in the box on the upper left hand corner to find your legislators. Call and/or send a fax.
3) Call the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121 and asked to be connected to your Representative's office.

Get involved with your food!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Summer Update - Experiments Galore!

Hi folks,

Long time, no see! Needless to say, things have been busy this summer. I have been to at least 10 big events since July 4th, and I have one more Disney symphony concert to attend next Wednesday before the month is up. I am getting as much studying done as I possibly can, so as you can see I have been slacking from my "one post a week" schedule! Physiology course has been checked done, now on to Community Nutrition.

This is the first somewhat free Saturday I have had in ages. I am experimenting with fake rotisserie chicken in the crockpot. I am re-activating my new water kefir grains I just got as a gift from my fabulous hubby in a sugar-water-apple juice-banana mixture. So, watch out for kefir apple soda in the near future! Bellydance practice and drumming practice may be in store for me as well.. or maybe a nap? Who knows what else will be accomplished in the rest of the day!

I have also been experimenting (life is an experiment, isn't it?) with Fast 5 to see if I lose any stubborn weight. It is similar to the Warrior Diet, where one only eats during a 5-hour window of time. The premise behind this method is to allow your body to rest between heavy digestion and to allow your hormones (specifically insulin and leptin) to balance out. Several weeks into it, I have to say it does seem helpful, but the quality and quantity of one's nutrition certainly still reigns supreme. I must say though that looking at the body holistically still gives the best indicators of good health and well-being. The interaction of hormones is definitely something on my radar for studying.

In terms of eating, I have had a few slip-up days in not following the ideal pro-thyroid diet (according to my enzyme therapist), but I also have had some incredible yummy summer days of good-quality pastured meat/poultry and lots of salads and greens. I really enjoy the hunter-gatherer diet the most - I think it leaves me the most satisfied and emotionally balanced. But, the experimentation continues!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Top 12 Food Additives to Avoid

I'm very happily subscribed to the Organic Consumer Association's regular email blast, which alerted me to this article on HealthNews. So, here's the list of the top 12 food additives. The whole point of this is to make you aware of what you are eating! Read labels!! And, raise an eyebrow to labels that contain the word "spices" (which basically tells you there is a food additive in there that they don't have to tell you what it actually is). Let's keep it real, folks!

1. Sodium nitrite (and sodium nitrate)
2. BHA & BHT
3. Propyl gallate
4. Monosodium glutamate aka MSG aka neurotoxin!
5. Trans fat
6. Aspartame - if you absolutely need sugar, stick to the real stuff
7. Acesulfame-K
8. Food colorings
9. Olestra
10. Potassium bromate
11. White sugar -- other options are maple syrup, rapadura, stevia, & honey
12. Sodium chloride - commercial salt can have dextrose added to it, stick to unrefined sea salt

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Long Time,No See AND Endocrine Issues

Sorry, long time no see! It's not that I haven't been online. I have been, but I'm trying to figure out what direction I am heading in, blogwise. Real food is a high priority, but so is dealing with thyroid and other endocrine issues (particularly mine!). I just attended a seminar by Dr. Jack Tips on the Neuroendocrine Solution, where I received a fantastic lesson on the absolute importance of the proper functionality of the endocrine system, with all of its glands and subsequently created hormones. He mentioned how our bodies are confused because of all of the toxic environment we live in, including electromagnetic pollution, chemicals, and junk food. He discussed supplemental protocols for dealing with endocrine issues, but did not discuss the importance of real food! Inconceivable!!

OK, maybe there isn't a particular food that specifically supports the pituitary gland. But, does one think that frankencrap food would? I think not!

This is a topic I definitely need to explore further. More to come as ideas are being formulated!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Bruce Bond, DC, and Detoxification

I attended a Standard Process seminar for Dr. Bruce Bond at LAX this past Saturday for free (Thanks Kay!)! It was definitely worth it.. learning about different biological processes in the body, such as phase 1 and phase 2 liver detoxification, and different herbal and supplemental protocols (SP of course) that can be used to help detox or to help rebuild the body. More details on these later. My point for today is this.. Dr. Bond emphasized a quote that I will never forget:

Every bite you eat is an act of nourishment or an act of suicide.

How will your next bites be???

Friday, May 22, 2009

The Good, the Bad, and the Soy

Soy used to be my favorite thing to eat. I used to eat lots of soy sauce, tofu, tempeh, edamame, natto (with MSG and junk in the sauce), soy protein, soy bars, etc. Until I found out one of the main reasons why I had so many health problems was due in part to soy. Oh joy. I've stopped eating it now for three years, and I still react to even small amounts of soy (like the amount you find in chocolate - yes, chocolate bars do have soy in them!). It sucks, but you know what, I got over it (and almost all Asian food). I'd rather be healthy.

Now, I find out that soy inhibits the thyroid (my latest shiny object), mimics estrogen (which is bad for an estrogen dominant person - female or possibly male!), and can cause allergic reactions in many (unsuspecting) people. Not fun for anyone.

I don't eat it. I don't recommend it to anyone, except in a few fermented products that are to be eaten every once in a blue moon. And, that's a blue moon, mister!

Now, research has come up indicating that soy products (conventionally processed soymilk, soy protein isolate, soy "cheeze", textured vegetable protein, meatless burgers, meatless chicken, etc.) are processed using hexane, a chemical solvent AND a neurotoxin. How companies can get away with using this process and still call a food "natural" is beyond me.

So, here's a video summarizing the results of a recent study. If you eat soy and plan on continuing to eat it, maybe this study will give you some thoughts about what soy sources you do end up eating.

Also, if you want to read an article from the Cornucopia Institute about questionable nature of "organic" soy coming from China (and some of the American products using the questionable soy), take a look at this webpage. The CI also has an organic soy scorecard so you can see which companies have the healthiest soy sources. This all brings me back to the point that your health depends on where your food comes from!

Thoughts? Do you eat soy?

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Love and Water Can Heal the Earth

Water is a unique substance and acts like no other. It can be hard enough to break wood and soft enough to flow around obstacles in a river. You may think that all water is alike: a water molecule is a water molecule is a H2O molecule, etc. But in fact, studies have shown that water can be different structurally. Dr. Masaru Emoto and many other scientists, as portrayed in the movie Water - the Great Mystery, have shown that the energy in structured water can make a huge impact on how that water affects other living things. Positive energy, like that of love and gratitude, can create beautiful structures in water, whereas negative energy... not so pretty or neat. If water can be affected by energy so distinctly(and we humans are at least 75-80% water), how do you think our bodies will react?? If we inject love energy into water and share that water with the world, where do you think we could be?

I was blessed to have an opportunity to see Dr. Leonard Horowitz speak live last night. He spoke at D'Marie's LIGHT Bearers of the World Irvine event. He had an incredibly positive and loving energy for all participants, and boy, were we a captive audience! He is an author of many books including: Walk on Water, DNA: Pirates of the Sacred Spiral, Healing Codes for the Biological Apocalypse, and many more. His passionate speech last night was about the sacred geometry of love and bringing people back in harmony with love by coming together at his event, Live H2O, happening on June 21st (also Summer Solstice). This will bring people together in unity, both in person at many worldwide locations near large bodies of water and virtually. His belief is that if we focus on love, faith, and healing, we can change the world, and if we focus the healing on our waters, we can bring forth a healing so powerful our world can only benefit.

Why is this so important? Because we can no longer afford not to listen! Being holistic, I believe a good chunk of our well-being on this beautiful blue and green planet is due in part to the well-being of our Mother Earth. As we continue to introduce more chemicals into our agriculture and industry/manufacturing, we continue the degradation of our planet. The sicker our planet becomes, the worse our health will become as well. As far as I know, this is the only planet we can live on!

Please watch this 10-minute video on the Live H2O event and if you can, participate in a location near you:

So, are you drinking enough water every day? Did you bless it before you drink it? Dr. Horowitz said if you send love to your water right before you drink it, it'll do your body good. I'm giving this a shot, because it certainly wouldn't hurt. So far, my water experience has been excellent today! Positive intentions will lead to positive actions and reactions. It's another way to bring more love into the world!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Kefir, Kombucha, Yogurt, Sourdough Swap by Nourished Kitchen

Swap Cultures and Starters

Jenny with Nourished Kitchen has put together an online community swap for kefir grains, kombucha scobies, sourdough starters, and similar items. If you have ever wondered where to get started in finding one of these items, this would be a good place to check! The only thing you would need to pay is the shipping.

And, if you are inclined to stay local, check out craigslist.org and freecycle first. If you can find your item locally (some people have all the luck!), you will probably have to pay something for the item and some gas, but probably not much! I have yet to find my kombucha scoby... I'm laaaazzzyyy... but it is coming soon!

And, if you don't know what the heck I'm talking about, google kefir and kombucha! You might be surprised at what you learn!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

What's the big deal about thyroids??

OH, it's a BIG DEAL!! The thyroid is comparatively a small piece of the body puzzle.. a small two-bunny-ears-shaped gland in your neck. Some say it looks like a butterfly, but I think it looks more like two bunny ears (depending on which picture you look at)! It is a gland that is part of the endocrine system, one of the many systems that runs your body and keeps you healthy. The endocrine system is composed of organs that release hormones into your body. These hormones do all kinds of stuff: regulate temperature, release blood sugar into your system when you're hungry, maintain salt levels in the body, fight or flight, etc. The thyroid's sole purpose is to produce thyroid hormone. This thyroid hormone regulates the whole body's overall metabolism. That is why it is SO important...if the body is not running efficiently and metabolizing properly, organs and systems start to malfunction. Read here if you are interesting in hearing about how Oprah has been handling her thyroid (and weight) issues.

The human body is an utterly amazing, multi-tasking machine. On a black-box view, you eat, breathe, drink and poop. But, seeing things on the inside, all these different systems (endocrine, cardiovascular, immune, nervous, muscular, respiratory, reproductive, digestive, etc.) work harmoniously together to keep you alive and well. Talk about a miracle!

But, sometimes, things don't work out the way they are supposed to. For example, me! I was a little stunned by the hypothyroid news when I found out almost two weeks ago. It was a surprise because the last thyroid test I took indicated I had a normal thyroid (haha). But, when I started looking at the symptoms of low thyroid function as well as considering my previous health problems (fatigue, weight gain or inability to lose weight, fluid retention, depression, etc.), all the pieces of the puzzles were starting to come together. I've been taking a thyroid glandular, as well as pregnenlone and progesterone (also hormones) and digestive enzymes now for a week. My energy level has increased tremendously, and I have lost some weight. Yay! The other extreme of imbalance would be hyperthyroidism, where the thyroid is overproducing thyroid hormones. A great website with information about all issues thyroid related is at About.com,
and Stopthethyroidmadness.com is great for anyone concerned with hypothyroidism.

More on my pro-thyroid diet coming soon...

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The Future of Food

If you haven't watched this yet, take a look. It's a great introduction into Monsanto and the genetically modified foods that show up in our stores and on our dinner tables. Some of this movie (like the scientific parts!) is a little dry, but it will give you a very good idea of how biotechnology has created unnatural combinations in foods. Where your food comes from matters! Grab a seat and a cup of tea before you start this one up!

Any feedback? Thoughts? Do you even have time to watch it??? =)

For more information, you can go to The Future of Food's official website

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Sugar Here, Sugar There, Sugar Everywhere!

Someone pointed me to this website: www.sugarstacks.com. I find it amusing, but then again, I don't normally eat food that is shown on that website. However, some foods are naturally sweet -- whole fruits should not be shunned! For those of you who eat out.. this might be a huge eye-opener! It is the processed foods where we have to careful of refined sugars, manufactured fats, and commercial salt.

My Pro-Thyroid Menu Plan for This Week

I've been stuck this weekend working on work, so I have not been able to write more on the thyroid situation. However, I wanted to post my menu plan for this week so you can have an idea of what I can eat. Believe me, when I first heard what I can and can't eat, I was overwhelmed!

Today (Sunday - Happy Mother's Day!):
D - Fake rotisserie chicken with leftover beet salad and zucchini sauteed in coconut, half an orange
Dessert - homemade org. additive-free coconut milk strawberry ice cream!

D - chicken salad with leftover chicken, org. lettuce, org. tomatoes, org. avocados.. you get the point! Plus, an org. orange.

D - org. grassfed burgers with natural ketchup, whole grain mustard, and raw cheese and sauteed org. swiss chard in bacon fat. Plus, you got it, another org. orange.

D - org. grassfed steaks with zucchini stir-fry (in coconut oil) and butternut squash soup. More orange! If I'm sick of oranges, I might have some homegrown strawberries.

D - Leftover steak and egg scramble with surprise veggies using coconut oil. Cherries for dessert!

D - Veggie surprise like they serve at Rutabegorz with brown rice, veggie mix, and salsa. I will add raw cheese and chicken on top. Hold the sunflower seeds! Orange, orange, orange!

More on pro-thyroid diet coming soon... ~E

Thursday, May 7, 2009

What is Real Food for YOU??

My definition of real food is changing. Hopefully, from good to great!

For the past few years, I was eating a mostly paleo/primal diet: food hunter-gathers ate waaaay back when. That would include meats, poultry, fish, nuts, berries, and greens. Somewhere mid-way, I started focusing on organic, grassfed animal protein and fat sources (to avoid the estrogenic effects of pesticides and herbicides in the conventional animal feed plus antibiotics routinely given to "healthy," conventionally-grown animals), coconut oil (antibacterial, antimicrobial, antifungal goodness in a jar!), and organic vegetables. You can say my diet is pretty extreme so far, right? At least compared to the average SAD (Standard American Diet) eater, it is!

Well, I found out recently that I may not be eating right... for me. I believe healing foods are customized to the person. What works for me may not work for you. This is that little lovely concept called Biochemical Individuality (one of my upcoming courses for my masters!). What I have been trying to do for some time is follow what works for alot of other people. And unfortunately, it may not be working so well for me. With my fairly clean diet, I found out that I have some serious dietary changes to make.

I took a special 24-hour urine test last week. I hate doing these kinds of tests, especially since you get locked down at home! But, I did it anyways because 1) I was curious to see what was involved in the process and 2) I wanted to understand why I was so tired all the time (4 or 5 hour naps is not normal!). I found this test through Lita Lee - a wonderful human being AND enzyme therapist/chemist. When a health practitioner tells you to visualize good health and use the Law of Attraction, you have to believe in that person! She and I are in sync!

The results are in, and my body is really out of balance (no duh). On Monday, I found out that I am deficient in electrolytes, my body fights for every little bit of calcium that I eat, and my thyroid is seriously underactive (among other things). And, an underactive thyroid explains ALOT of my health issues. And, this is all with my gluten-free, mostly casein-free, soy-free, and mostly sugar-free diet.

So, for the next two months, I will be eating a pro-thyroid diet, which will take me away from my low-carb hunter-gatherer diet. Some foods that I thought were healing apparently are not healing for me. I will go over the details of my diet in the next few blog entries. I plan on getting retested at the end of a month or two, after being placed on some enzymes and eating my healing foods. So, this is a great experiment for me!

My questions to you are:
1) Are you eating real food? If not, why not?
2) Are you eating foods that help you maintain fantastic health? If "no", can you figure out what foods are healing and what foods aren't?

Sometimes all it takes is a food log where you write down what you eat and how you react. Sometimes, like in my case, it takes a little help from someone else to figure it out.

My belief is that eating real food does heal the body. And, if you aren't healed (like me), you may not be eating the right foods!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Aaack! On the Journey to Speaking Nutrition & EFT

OK, I'm stalling... but who likes public speaking?? I certainly don't, at least not yet! My wonderful friend D'Marie is starting up a public speaking class for spiritually minded folks, like me, and I have been part of her class for the past few months. Me, the quiet mouse, who dreads public speaking! I chose to participate in her program because I feel my lifepath is leading me in the direction of speaking out to families, students, and health-minded folks. My heart races every time I've had to speak, which is once every single meeting for 3 minutes on a topic I don't know until the minute before I have to speak! Aaack is right! =P

I have to admit, my public speaking skills have definitely improved over the past few weeks. I can now speak outwardly, look at and connect with my audience one person at a time, change the tone of my voice, add emphasis, etc. It is a HUGE improvement than before. But, I still have anxiety attacks before each meeting all the way up to the point where I stand and pick my topic!

Well, I have a 10 minute impromptu quarterly assessment speech with the topic of my choice to present on Tuesday. So, the past two weeks I have been feeling rather stressed out, in fact, stressed out enough to be physically ill and incapable of doing anything else, including finishing my remaining project and final exam for the first phase of my masters. Ugh.

So, after spending this entire weekend (and last week and part of the week before) stressing and having stomach flip-flops from the mere thought of the talk, I finally pulled out my dusty EFT manual. EFT as in Emotional Freedom Technique, an amazing method anyone can use to release himself/herself from emotional issues/phobias/self-sabotage/negative emotions/etc. You can find more information about EFT at this official website. It's been two years since I read up on EFT -- initially I looked into it for my fear of swimming (a topic for another time LOL!). Now, I'm realizing that EFT can be used for alot of things -- including emotional issues around food and public speaking about nutrition!

The process is really easy to do.. it involves physically tapping different parts of your body in a particular order. The process may be more complicated than that, but I haven't dealt with anything "beyond the basics." So far, it feels like it's working. After a few session of self-inflicted basic EFT, my stomach does feel better now. I don't feel so anxious or ill! Yay! Let's hope this keeps up for the next two days! =) =)

Of course I'm talking about nutrition. In fact my topic is "Incorporating healing foods into your life". Perhaps I will blog about it later!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Happy Earth Day!

Wishing you all a Happy Earth Day. I just saw this quote in someone's signature:

Live simply so that others may simply live.

It is so profound, and yet so simple. Can we all be in agreement that we can all take one step closer to Mother Nature? We can all use a little less water, a little less soap, fewer chemicals, fewer additives, and more real food!
In addition, I found this deal for Reynold's recycled aluminum foil. Check it out for a free roll!

Happy Earth Day!! Enjoy!

Image courtesy of woodeywonderworks

Friday, April 17, 2009

Primal/Paleo Avocado Ice Cream (Dairy-free!)

Photo courtesy of joyosity

Remember those ice cream cones you ate when you were a kid? Sometimes you miss them as an adult, especially if you A) have a dairy allergy/intolerance or B) choose to eat primal-/paleo-style or C) are "dieting". Well, I say everything in moderation, and sweets fit into the "every once in a while" category.

Avocados are Mother Nature's green butter. Avocados are real food! It is mostly composed of monounsaturated fats, like olive oil, which is known to lower total cholesterol and "bad" LDL cholesterol and raise "good" HDL cholesterol. It also has the most fiber of any fruit! Avocados also have lots of vitamin Bs, vitamin K, potassium, and a multitude of phytonutrients that have yet to be discovered.

Avocado ice cream??? Some of you may say, "Ew!" to having avocado in your ice cream, but unless you try it, you really won't know for sure, will you? I found this recipe refreshing and good on a hot day. Adjust the agave nectar or sweetener of your choice to taste -- I don't like sweets so I keep it minimal. I'm still working out the kinks to this, without adding any additives or ingredients I don't normally eat. If you have suggestions, let me know!

2 C coconut milk (not the butter/oil!)
1 peeled & seeded avocado
2-3T raw honey or agave nectar

Mix all items in a blender. Take top portion of blender (where all your yummy is stored), cover with lid, and stick into the fridge for at least an hour or two (or overnight). Once chilled, put into an ice cream maker for about 25 minutes or so. Enjoy and savor every bite!

Thanks to Diane for her Friday Foodie Fix on Avocados for inspiring this blog entry!

Monday, April 13, 2009

The Best Boiled Eggs in the World!

I know, the last post was on my Japanese Egg Scramble, but why not add more to the charm of eggs? You can find the benefits of eggs on my previous post, so I won't go into all that jazz here. I will instead share with you the recipe of the best, most perfectly boiled eggs.

This is a recipe from DH (aka known as Dear Hubby, aka Brad). He loves his eggs in the morning for a take-away breakfast to work. I usually get to them as a nutritious snack to tide me over until lunch or dinner. After months of making them himself and perfecting his own recipe, he didn't bother to share it with me until last week, the nerve of him! J/K (I know he reads this blog from time to time...) =) =) =)

What I love about this recipe is that these eggs are divine. I used to need salt to choke down overly cooked boiled eggs, but not with these eggs. They are cooked to a just-done texture, where the moist yolk is a nice bright yellow color and no ugly grey rings to be had.

You'll need:
Take a medium-sized pot and fill with eggs so they are one single-layer. Fill pot with water to cover tops of eggs by at least 1/2 inch of water. Put under medium-high heat. Watch carefully! Once the water begins to boil (large bubbles), turn off heat or move pot away from burner. Leave in hot water for 9 minutes. Once 9 minutes are up, drain hot water and replace it with cool water.

PS - I have been told that older eggs make better boiled eggs than newer eggs. Apparently, they are less likely to stick to the shells when being peeled. If this works for you, please let me know. I don't think I ever have eggs that are "old" since we go through them so quickly!

Photo courtesy of woodleywonderworks

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Eggs on My Mind

As tribute to Diane at The W.H.O.L.E Gang, I'm blogging about EGGS, the Secret Ingredient of the Week! I love eggs, especially free-range, pasture-fed, happy chickens. Mine are from a local farmer who does not supplement the bugs with soy, which keeps me soy-free and happy!

Eggs are one of the cheapest protein sources around. They are fairly low in calories at about 75 a pop. The best nutritious part of the egg is the yolk! It is high in vitamin A, some B vitamins, vitamin D, vitamin E, all the fat, and good cholesterol, calcium, iron, phosphorus, and zinc. Eggs are rich in choline, which is essential for cardiovascular and brain function, as well as the health of your cell membranes. Egg yolks are also one of the richest sources of a phospholipid called phosphatidylcholine (try saying that three times fast!), which helps prevent the accumulation of cholesterol and fat in the liver. Eggs also contain lutein and zeaxanthin, both of which are among the most effective supplements for eye health (reducing your risk of macular degeneration). Eggs are a superfood!

As far as cooking goes... Eggs are so versatile -- they can be scrambled, poached, stir-fried, fried, boiled, made into omelets, quiches, egg-drop soups, etc. The list goes on and on!

As you can probably tell, I eat alot of eggs -- especially now that I have found eggs from chickens that do not egg soy. Below is one of my favorite recipes in the universe! I usually eat eggs for breakfast, but this works for a simple dinner for two or more (just vary the ingredient amounts). One of my favorite quick breakfast recipes is to heat up some homemade beef or chicken stock until boiling and then add two eggs until they are mostly cooked. Once you make homemade stock, I swear you can't go back! The stock is rich in nutrients (see Weston A. Price Foundation for details), plus the eggs make an efficient, lasting breakfast.

My Japanese Egg Scramble
My wonderful mom used to make this dish for me for my birthday. Obviously you can tell that this is a special recipe for me. I suppose if you don't have Asian parents, you may not appreciate the beauty of this recipe, but oh well... Try it anyways! This is a soy-free, gluten- & wheat-free real food recipe. I don't eat much pork anymore, so you can substitute chicken thigh meat instead.

A few cups of spinach, cleaned & cut up into bite-size pieces
1.5 C of pork (or chicken thigh meat), chopped into bite-size pieces
1 C of black fungus (you can find this thin, fresh mushroom at an Asian grocery store)
5-6 eggs
olive oil
sesame oil
salt & pepper to taste

Sautee the pork in a some olive oil and a little sesame oil in a large pan. Sesame oil is very strong in taste and smell, so you don't need alot! Cook until pork is mostly done. Add spinach and black fungus. Cook until the spinach is wilted and just about done. Set all items on plate.

Scramble up eggs in a bowl. Salt & pepper eggs. Using a little olive oil and sesame oil again, scramble eggs in the heated pan. When most of the way cooked, add back in pork, fungus, and spinach mixture. Mix well. Salt and pepper some more to taste. Enjoy!

Eight Ways to Join the Local Food Movement!

Here are some great ideas for bringing real food into your life as often as you can! This is courtesy of the Organic Consumers Association, who sent this list to me via their Organic Bytes e-newsletter. The OCA's logo is "Campaigning for Health, Justice, Sustainability, Peace, and Democracy." How can you go wrong with that? The OCA website is a wonderful resource of green, sustainable information. This list below caught me eye as I was reading through emails, and I thought I would share it with you. Enjoy!

1) Turn your lawn to a vegetable garden or join a community gardening program.
2) Start a community garden program if there isn't on in your area.
3) Eat more vegetables--a heavy meat diet creates more greenhouse gases.
4) Can your foods and throw a "preserve party" to swap foods.
5) Create a group to glean local farm fields of unharvested crops.
6) Look for farmers markets, roadside stands and CSAs.
7) Form an organic food buying club.
8) Throw potlucks, with an emphasis on organic and locally-grown foods.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Metabolic Typing

Are we metabolically different? So says William Wolcott in his book, The Metabolic Typing Diet.
A discussion from the Native Nutrition Yahoo group as well as my nutrition consulting coursework prompted me to look into MT. I was curious: could we actually look at nutritional therapy for people based on their individual metabolic types and could there actually be major differences? So, here's my opinions on what I've researched so far...

Wolcott (2000, p. 17) mentions: "When optimum energy is available to your body on all levels -- to your cells, organs, glands, and systems -- then optimum (balanced and efficient) functioning, or good health, is possible." He feels that depending on your metabolic type, the foods (macronutrients: protein, carbohydrates, and fats) that make your body run efficiently will not necessarily be the same foods that help someone else. This metabolic type is dependent on several factors: autonomic, endocrine, oxidative, acid/alkaline, prostaglandin, electrolyte, blood, consititutional, and catabolic/anabolic types. All of these factors affect how quickly your body metabolizes what you eat (as well as what you drink, feed your skin/hair, breathe, etc.)

To boil it down to a nutshell, after you complete the questionnaire in the book, you end up fitting into one of three categories: Protein Type, Carbo Type, or Mixed Type (a little of both Protein and Carbo Types). This seems a little too simplistic for me, but perhaps it is that simple? I am concerned that with all the various factors mentioned in the previous paragraph, there are only three types.

Dr. Ross Hauser has also created a metabolic typing diet using animals (lions, bears, otters, monkeys, and giraffes - oh my!) to identify varying optimal levels of protein, carbs, fats, and even vegetarian tendencies for one type. You can take a test online at http://www.hauserdiet.com/ to see which type you are. I fell into the otter category (modified high protein diet with emphasis on greens). I think otters are cool animals, so it's fun that I eat like one! My DH turned out to be a monkey with a balanced diet, and he generally doesn't need to eat as much protein as I do.

Interesting stuff... I definitely have more to read!



Wolcott, W. (2000). The Metabolic typing diet: the ultimate guide to: premanent weight loss and optimum health, high energy and peak athletic performance, preventing and reversing disease, staying young at any age. New York: Doubleday.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Goodbye Dairy... Again! And other things (like, listen to your body!)

Sorry for the lack of posts... I've been spending alot of time lately packing other things into my schedule: studying (I'm behind in my Nutritional Therapies class), setting up my Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) pick-up in Tustin, setting up my online community for the OC Weston A. Price foundation at http://ocwapf.ning.com, rehearsing several times a week for my upcoming bellydance performances (this past weekend was a bridal shower performance!), doumbek drum lessons and practice.

So, you ask, what has happened in the past few weeks? ALOT!

I gave up on my experiment with raw grassfed dairy. After a month of eating raw milk and raw kefir and raw cheeses, I noticed scabs in the interior of my nose that would not heal and yucky, green nasal mucus. Sorry, I know, TMI. But, if you're healthy, your nasal mucous membranes should produce clear mucus. It's the only major change I have made in my diet, so I figured my body did not really like dairy after all. I have eliminated most of the dairy now (with some leftover grassfed butter to finish), and my nose is finally healing. I am sad to lose dairy, again, but happy that my body is grateful for the absence of bad dairy reactions.

This leads me to the point about listening to our bodies. Maybe I'm paranoid and using my body as a science experiment, but I think it is crucial to have a strong awareness of what is going on internally. I think Western lifestyles have left us being very disconnected to our bodies, and being in a rush or on the go all the time isn't helping! This is where taking up meditation, or yoga, or walking in nature, or even bellydancing or other activities that connect you to the physical, is very helpful for keeping you aware of the body and its needs.

And, if you are in need of healing (physical or emotional), keep a daily food log. It is amazing what writing all your food intake can show you, even if it is only for a week. I have been keeping a food log for months now, and it has helped me notice certain trends, such as eating good quality fats (coconut oil, cod liver oil) during the evening means that I have improved blood circulation in my hands and feet at night AND the skin on my fingers is no longer cracked. As well as the eat-dairy-bad-things-happen-to-me observation.

YMMV: Your milage may vary! You need to determine your own trends, so listen to your body!


Sunday, March 15, 2009

You Plan to Fail If You Fail to Plan... Meal Plans!

Many people are tightening their belts in this current economy, but that's not a bad thing when it comes to eating! How many countless times have you opened the fridge at the end of the week and there's a bunch of stuff in there -- you don't know how old all the unlabeled containers are and you have vegetables growing mold? Well, one way to solve that problem, help reduce waste (mother Earth will thank you!) and be frugal is to plan your meals.

Even if you're the best of cooks and you can make a "leftovers" soup or salad (which are both great ideas by the way!), you will probably benefit from meal planning. You can have a sense for how much protein sources to buy (vegetarian or animal) as well as different fruits, veggies, and grains (if you eat them). Since I go to my farmers market every weekend (and soon will be participating in my new CSA program!), I have a general idea of the different types of produce available. And, as you can see by my list below, I do try to keep my menu fairly simple, except for items on the weekend when I have more time to roast or do more time-consuming, labor-intensive cooking. I usually do a quick stirfry of my veggies with appropriate herbs, seasonings, and olive/coconut oil, or I will steam them and top them with grassfed butter. (Psst - alot of the nutrients in your veggies are more easily assimilated into the body with fat! And why would you want to eat your veggies plain anyway? =)

Erica's Menu for this week

Dehydrate soaked walnuts
B - green smoothie with avocado, cucumber, and lemon
L - eat out with a friend
D - honey mustard lamb with broccoli garlic stirfry

B- leftover lunch
L- leftover fish and veggies plus maybe some kale chips
D- eat out with sister-in-law

B- bitter melon soup with eggs
L- leftover lamb and veggies
D- natural corned beef with braised green beans

B- leftover bitter melon soup
L - leftover corned beef and veggies
D-beef veggie soup with crockpot roast, leeks, tomatoes, onions, fresh carrots, etc.

B- green smoothie
L- leftover soup
D- natural sausage veggie stirfy with broccoli, onion, carrots, cauliflower

B- fried eggs
L-leftover stirfry
D- baked cumin chicken legs with whatever veggies I have left

Plan again!

Note- I don't include dessert because I usually do not eat dessert. My body does not react well to grains, dairy (as I have sadly found out recently even though it was raw or fermented grassfed dairy), sugar, or fruits, so I do not incorporate them into my meal plan much. Please follow your own plan and listen to your body! Your body will let you know what foods are best for it.

Thanks again to Jenna @ My Joyful Haven for being brave enough to post her meal plans!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Hair Nutrition - FAIL!

After writing up this article about unsafe beauty products a few weeks ago, I decided to experiment with my hair. My previous JASON shampoo was rated as a "moderate hazard." So, I went "no 'poo" for at least 14 days. What this meant was washing my hair every other day, and on the days I did wash, I used baking soda for the wash and apple cider vinegar as a rinse. This was meant to be a good test to see if my hair felt better without the oil-stripping shampoos or the added chemicals.

A big FAIL for me! This is not to say that using baking soda and apple cider vinegar would not work for others, because there are alot of advocates out there online. I just could not get the greasy feeling to leave my hair, ever. Plus, on days when I bellydanced with my group, the apple cider vinegar smell (and maybe the baking soda smell too) would be extremely strong, to the point I was certain I was making others raise eyebrows. ACV smells good in food, but not as a perfume while sweating!

Alas, I am going back to something better. I found Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps All-One Hemp Lavender Oil Liquid Soap that doesn't smell bad (lavender-scented!) or leave a greasy feel. And, the EWG's Cosmetic database rates it a 2 or "low hazard." Plus, you can use this soap for washing your body too, and probably a bunch of other things. I like!

Now, on to more experimenting with other beauty products...

I've also been doing some research on Metabolic Typing so should have a new post soon about that! Fascinating stuff about how we are all biochemically different from one another, so one diet doesn't fit all. Coming soon!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

My Top 10 Must-Have Ingredients

Thanks to Jenna at www.myjoyfulhaven.com for offering the idea to discuss this topic! Here is the list of my top 10 ingredients that I always enjoy on a weekly basis and cannot live without. They are in no particular order -- all good eats!

Photo courtsey of Shi Yali

1. Garlic - in bulb form or peeled whole (refrigerated).

2. Coconut oil - cold-pressed, virgin, organic. I use this in my tea in between meals, on top of steamed veggies, the list goes on and on!

Photo courtesy of woodleywonderworks
3. Eggs (the perfect food!) - I'm looking for no-soy eggs right now... tough to find but I will keep looking!

4. Wild salmon - canned or fresh. I can eat this stuff for breakfast!

5. Good Celtic or Himalayan salt or RealSalt - regular salt can have dextrose (from corn!) added to it!

Photo courtesy of djprybyl
6. Kale - I love this green raw in a salad or baked like a chip!

7. Butter - preferably organic & grassfed... I'm going to try raw grassfed organic butter as soon as my current supply of Kerry Gold unsalted butter dwindles. I love it on top of steamed cauliflower & other veggies, eggs, etc.

8. A probiotic foods of some sorts: kimchi, kefir (my first attempt to make @ home today!), yogurt, etc.

9. Kombucha - yes, the weird, fizzy, slightly vinegary- and sweet-tasting drink. I'm gearing up to make this at home soon. It deserves its own category.. I'm so addicted to it!

10. Bones - for making homemade bone broth. Good for digestion, multiple uses, easy to make.

That's all, folks! What's on your favorite 10 list??? Please share!

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Nutrition Consultants: Have you seen this video??

I am not sure how real this is... my DH's cousin Laurie sent me a link to this video, which hopefully I can embed in my website so you can see it without leaving the page:

Is this for real?? I have heard rumors about the ADA trying to pass a law to prohibit anyone without an RD from having a nutritional practice. My personal journey has taught me that I should leave my health to no one except me. I am my best healer.. but it is nice to have help from someone who knows what they are doing and can help me look at alternatives I have not considered before. I am very grateful for the help I have received from several chiropractors, naturopaths, trainers, massage therapists -- all of whom are helping me live a healthy, balanced life (at least as much as possible). I am alarmed that this does not leave us with many options.

Any thoughts?

Friday, February 27, 2009

Taking Nutrition Step by Step

Overwhelmed. That's how I feel. Now. I'm taking a moment to sit and ponder. And, I realize, I'm overwhelmed. Duh. It is my fault, of course. I'm trying to finish the Phase 1 of my masters degree by year's end. I'm scheduling time to coordinate a new bellydance choreography for my friend Winnie's birthday party in April. I'm taking a speech-enhancement meeting every other week. I'm signing up for dinners, meetings, drum circles, and other events every week. I'm not getting enough rest during the week and the weekends. And, I am only now wondering why my food plan isn't working out?

I realize now: I need to slow it down. If I eat well and take care of my body, I will have enough energy for everything else! If I were working with clients seeking nutritional advice, I would say, "let's take it one step at a time." Step by step. Progress, not perfection is the name of the game when it comes to healthy eating. Here is my general plan to maintaining wellness:

** Before I get started, I cannot stress the importance of meal planning! It makes the week go by easier and you won't have that "what will we have for dinner?" question every night! It will save you money by not eating out all the time and not wasting food. I do my meal planning Friday nights and buy organic foods from the local farmer's market Saturday morning.

1) I fill up on fruits and (mostly) veggies with every meal. I try to eat a small salad with lunch and dinner, or at least one side salad with my main meal (dinner) of the day. I mix it up and try to have some raw and some cooked veggies every day. I find fermented veggies (see #7 below) easier to digest than some raw veggies. I drink water and very diluted tea as my main source of hydration (but not during meals!).

2) I eat very few to no grains. If I were to eat grains (which my health won't really allow much of) I would try to eat sprouted, soaked grains so they are more easily assimilated into the body. Nourishing Traditions is a fabulous cookbook that covers sprouting grains.

3) I would slowly cut out processed, refined foods, even from "natural food" stores. Donate what you can, use up what you have leftover. No need to waste... just don't buy more!

4) I would slowly switch from "bad" oils to "good" oils. I avoid all vegetable oils except maybe olive and coconut oil. A high quality organic butter made from grassfed cowmilk is doable. I wouldn't eat any other oils, except from raw or soaked/dried nuts and grassfed animal fats.

5) I would switch to organic fruits, vegetables, and meats as often as I can. Here's a good reference website for the best foods to buy organic. I snack on good, healthy nuts - soaking and drying them first makes them easier to digest. I also eat dried sea veggies, like nori, for snack for a good source of sodium and iodine.

6) I am transitioning into eating more organic grassfed or pastured animal products. These animals are not injected with hormones, corn, grains, soy, or antibiotics to fatten them up. They have better nutritional value and are worth the expense! Here is a directory of local farmers that sell grassfed products. I don't know how well I tolerate raw milk, but I would consider raw dairy from grassfed cows and pastured eggs. I cannot stress the importance of grassfed protein, especially for people like me who have food intolerances to grains and soy (not to mention skipping out on all the other junk!).

7) I eat probiotic foods -- they are meant to be easily digested because of the healthy cultures they have that will support the friendly bacteria in your digestive tract. I suggest you try these out from the grocery store first before attempting to make them, just to make sure you like them first! Kombucha is a refreshing, fizzy, low-sugar, low-caffeine drink. Kimchi is a Korean version of sauerkraut. Raw cheeses have friendly cultures (stuff that eats up the lactose). There are alot of different probiotic foods. Find ones you like!

I try to incorporate all these steps into my weekly food plan, but some weeks are better than others. This week stunk. I ended up eating corn (remember Corn Nuts? Those overly-salty, crunchy fried corn bits?) a couple of days ago and am still paying for it. My body is not happy, but it really appreciated the sauteed spinach with garlic last night. I also ended up eating out twice this week unexpectedly. Another wrench in a perfectly meal-planned week. Next week will be better. Remember, progress, not perfection. Wishing you a progressive weekend!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

My Real Food Testimonial

Thanks to the wonderful Real Food Media Blog Network for inspiring me to write this blog entry for Real Food Wednesday!

I really have to thank all the wonderful food I've been eating! In January of 2006, my wonderful naturopath told me I needed to cut soy, wheat, dairy, and corn out of my diet. Needless to say, I had to redefine what food was for me, and I learned the beginnings of cooking and eating healthier. Within three weeks, I was able to stop taking medication for high blood pressure and diabetes -- something that I did not think was possible, given that I have been taking medication since I graduated high school (too many years to count! LOL). Eating real foods gave me hope.

This hope led me to studying holistic nutrition, which then led me to Nourishing Traditions and the Weston A. Price Foundation, all within the past 6 months. I am amazed at all the various things I've learned about bad, bad soy (I ate soy before I was born!), enzymes and enzyme inhibitors, pasteurization, pesticides, food additives, etc. It is scary to think about what we as a society have learned is acceptable as food.

Real foods have helped DH and me eliminate leaky gut syndrome and upset GI tract symptoms. They have also helped me to reduce the effects of candida (with probiotics and cutting sugar out completely). Real food tastes better, plus there is a huge LOVE factor that goes into real food that you won't find in mechanically processed foods. I feel this is an extremely important intangible factor that we are missing if we aren't eating real food.

Today, I still struggle to get my blood sugars to a "normal" range, but I am learning to trust myself. I realize now that I am my best healer. I do not want to get back onto medication! Working with my OMD, I am taking herbs and botanicals and eating fermented, probiotic, and homecooked foods to nourish and strengthen all my body systems. I am still in the process of eliminating foods that don't work for me. And I still make mistakes in eating "bad" food every once in a while (especially when forced to eat out). It's a slow but good learning process. And I'm not willing to turn back on all that I've learned!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Skin & Hair Nutrition: Are your beauty products toxic?

There are alot of blogs talking about nutrition this way or that way, but how many blogs talk about skin and hair nutrition? Or, let me ask this, how many nutrition blogs talk about skin and hair nutrition?? How about mine!

Your skin is the largest organ of your body -- did you know that? Your skin is "eating" things every time you wash your scalp, put on lotion, deodorant, perfume.. basically everything that touches your skin. That covers makeup, shampoos, conditioners, body lotions, body wash lotions, makeup removers, cleansers, sunscreens, soaps, etc. The list is long! So, what are YOU feeding your skin?

As one of my homework assignments from my herbal class, I had to compare a natural beauty product against a commercial product. This research led me to a website at the Skin Deep Cosmetic Safety Database. It is run by the researchers at the Environmental Working Group, a group that felt that the public needs to know what is in health products that are not regulated or tested. There are more than 41,000 products available in the database, with a breakdown of over 8000 ingredients.

Just because your products says it's "natural" or "organic" does not make it safe for you to use! For example, I use JASON Lavender Natural Shampoo. I thought that because it had lavender in it as well as organic and natural ingredients, it would rate a 1 out of 10 (10 being the worst possible stuff on the planet). Nope, it rated **6** out of 10 and is considered a "moderate hazard." 83% of shampoos tested actually performed better than this one.

My sunscreen moisturizer, Avalon Organics Vitamin C Suncreen Moisture Plus Lotion SPF 15, scored a piddly **7** out of 10 and is considered a "not recommended" option. Ingredients contained have been linked to: cancer, developmental/reproductive toxicity, allergies, organ toxicity, skin/eye irritations, neurotoxicity, etc. Ugh! The key ingredients in most sunscreens do seem to be particularly bad. My guess is, if you can be in the sun for less than 30 hour and do not have fair skin, it's probably safe to not use sunscreen. Our skin needs some amount of time in the sun (15 or so minutes every day if possible) to create our body's vitamin D, but beyond that, cover up with clothing and being in the shade.

I am not telling you to throw away bad stuff you own, unless you can afford to do so (and want to do so!). The other side of the coin is that you shouldn't waste things either. If it's something you can donate or reuse in another way, do so. I am hoping to switch out my highly unsafe stuff for safer products as I run out of things because I don't want to just throw things away. That would lead to an even bigger problem with our Mother Earth! But that's my MO. Yours is up to you...

I am hoping you find this informational and possibly even eye-opening. I am not claiming that all their data is absolutely correct and irrefutable, but it is worth taking a look to see if what you are feeding your skin matches what you eat.. for the better!

If you have any suggestions for natural skin care (that doesn't show up above a 1 or 2 out of 10 on that scale), please comment and I'll post! Thanks!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Primal Chicken Gumbo

Hi folks! Had to post this recipe on here for a few of my dedicated (!) readers. Cheeseslave at www.cheeseslave.com is requesting bone broth recipes, so here's my contribution.

As the oldest of four kids (and a budding chef!), I would pick a turkey dinner clean to the bone after Thanksgiving. To the bone! And then, my mom would take the carcass and stick it in a pot of water to cook for a while. Best soup I ever had! After reading Nourishing Traditions (and reading Cheeseslave's website LOL), I realized how important it is to keep this tradition going - for all the lovely nutrients that we drink in the broth. When you let the broth simmer so long, it starts looking creamy - that's when you have the good stuff!

I'm not sure where the original non-primal recipe came from.. I've had it for so long, the paper is a little warped! So, in order to make it fit better with my primal/traditional lifestyle, I took out the rice and the roux (flour/oil thickener). The color is not quite like the original with the roux, but it does thicken if you use okra. It does take a while to put everything together, but once you get it going, definitely a keeper!

I plan on making this sometime over the weekend (with the upcoming rain and all), so hopefully will have a photo soon.

6 quarts chicken/turkey homemade stock
2-3 C leftover chicken/turkey
1 pound natural andouille sausage (I use nitrate-/nitrite-free sausage)
2 pounds shrimp
2 pounds okra (I use the frozen chopped kind bc it's easier to find & cheaper)
2 onions, chopped
1 bunch green onions with tops, chopped
2-3 bell peppers, chopped
5 ribs celery, chopped
5-6 cloves of garlic, minced
3 bay leaves
1 bunch fresh parsley, chopped
Creole seasoning to taste OR black, white, & cayenne peppers to taste
A few dashes of Tabasco or hot sauce to taste
Salt & freshly ground pepper to taste

Slice the andouille sausage up and brown, pour off the fat.

Pour stock into large stockpot. Add sausage, onions, green onions, bell peppers, and celery. (I'm lazy so I just stick them all in at once!). Add bay leaves, creole seasonings or pepper mixture to stockpot. Bring to boil. Reduce to simmer for 30 minutes. Add salt & pepper to taste and adjust seasonings as needed.

Add okra and cook for another 30 minutes or so. Add leftover cooked chicken/turkey meat and parsley. Simmer for another 15-30 minutes. Adjust seasonings, salt, pepper, Tabasco/hot sauce as needed. If it looks too thin, simmer for a while longer.

5 minutes before you're ready to eat, throw in shrimp. Do NOT overcook shrimp. A few minutes at most (otherwise they will get rubbery in texture).

You can eat it straight in a bowl, or if you miss rice, pour gumbo over mashed cauliflower. Works like a charm!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Unbelievably Good Brussell Sprouts - Who Knew??

I had to share this recipe. Tried it tonight as a spur-of-the-moment-don't-know-what-else-to-do-with-them afterthought. I had this lovely bunch of organic brussell sprouts on sale I bought on my last gaga trip to Whole Foods. I forgot how gi-normous that store is in the Tustin District area. I came across the original recipe at AllRecipes.com but used my intuition to add the ingredients. this is quick and easy to make, if you like using the oven!

OK, some of you, at this point, may be gagging, rolling your eyes, or saying "EW!" I was once like you (maybe worse) since the only kind of brussell sprouts I could eat earlier was the frozen boxed kind that came with that butter sauce (I don't even want to look at what's in that butter sauce now!). The last time I made brussell sprouts from scratch, I took one bite and threw the rest away. Even if you've never liked them before, I DOUBLEDARE you to try this simple recipe out. If you like them, thank me! If not, at least I can give you a virtual round of applause for your being plucky enough to try them (and add to your health). What can I say??

Brussell sprouts are amazingly healthy for you. According to Bowden's book The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth, they contain a phytonutrient presuades precancerous cells to commit suicide. The sulforaphane helps reduce damage from free radicals and fight carcinogens. It also is what gives all members of the cabbage family their distinct smell! Brussell sprouts are a good source of folic acid, potassium, vitamin K, and beta-carotene.

A bunch of brussell sprouts (quartered if big, halved if small for bite-sized pieces)
Drizzle olive oil to coat - use light and save the extra virgin for raw foods
Sea salt (Realsalt is my fave)
Freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Basically, add enough of the olive oil, sea salt, and black pepper to coat the edges of the brussell sprouts. Bake for up to 30-45 minutes, turning the bunch every 7 minutes or so. Bake them until they are dark brown on the edges.

I think cooking them to the dark brown stage is what makes them sweet. Sorry raw foodies... I really enjoyed this!

PS - All the recipes I post here have been tested and tasted by me and usually a bunch of other people, including B. I won't post a recipe that I haven't enjoyed myself first!

Photo courtesy of SillySally on flickr

Calling All Gardeners and Yards!

If you are someone with a green thumb and have no yard to grow some yummy tomatoes? Or, maybe you are someone wants a blooming productive yard but have no time to tend a garden? You all can come together at hyperlocavore.com and find others in your local area with either the yard or the green thumb. There are resources there to help you understand the concept of yardsharing with others.

I am posting this information because I think participating in yardsharing is a GOOD THING. You have opportunities to get to know your neighbors and make new friends. You participate in the wonders of Nature. You get your hands dirty (Hey city folks, have you ever tried to walk on grass barefoot??? Get grounded in Mother Earth!) and let the earth refresh you. You get exercise AND a healthy dose of Vitamin D from the sun! You will help create food that does not need to be driven thousands of miles from its growing site. And, as icing on the cake, you will have some wonderful organic produce that you can share with your family.

Nothing beats fresh, organic food that has been loved and cared for. In turn, that food will nourish you and yours.

Check out Hyperlocavore... Liz is the creator of Hyperlocavore. You can find her at @hyperlocavore on Twitter. You can also find me on her site in the Orange County group. I have a yard I'm willing to share (or at least make some room to share!), but I need some people to share it! I unfortunately have a mostly brown thumb, so I really would like to learn how to grow some good herbs for fresh, tasty cooking.

Photo courtsey of sa_ku_ra on flickr

Monday, February 2, 2009

Giveaway for a Case of Probiotic Salsa & Relish

My friend @cheeseslave on Twitter.com is having a giveaway for a case of Zukay's probiotic salsa and relish! If you are interested in winning this giveaway, please go to her website. Probiotic foods are fantastic - full of digestive enzymes that help your body absorb food. Raw foods with a good twist! Probiotic foods are good to eat with every meal. Some good ones to try (aside from Zukay's salsa and relish!) are kimchi (see previous blog entry), sauerkraut, kombucha (my kind of "beer"), takuan, pickled carrots, etc. The list goes long!

I'm interested in winning, thus the new blog entry!

@realfood2health on Twitter.com

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Crispy Nuts or Sweet Almonds

Nuts are a great snack to eat. Eating nuts with foods higher in carbohydrates (fruits, veggies) helps keep blood sugar levels more even. They also help you stay fuller longer. However, nuts also have naturally occuring enzyme inhibitors that may cause digestive problems (like wheat and other grains). According to Sally Fallon's book Nourishing Traditions, we should imitate the Aztecs in soaking them first in brine then drying them out in the sun before using the nuts. The salt helps activate the enzymes that break down the enzyme inhibitors in raw nuts. Giving the enzymes enough time to do their job, we can dehydrate the nuts to make them crispy.

This recipe below is adapted from Nourishing Traditions, my all-time-favorite cookbook. You can use just about any nut; you may have to adjust the time spent dehydrating and soaking though. See notes below for exceptions.

4 C raw nuts (almonds, pecans, walnuts, cashews*, macadamia nuts, pine nuts, sunflower seeds)
1 Tbsp sea salt
good filtered water

Soak nuts in filtered water and sea salt for at least 7 hours or overnight. Place in oven or dehydrator no higher than 150 degrees. Leave in heat from 12 to 24 hours. Smaller nuts will take less time than bigger nuts.

Cashews: soak for no longer than 6 hours. Place in 200 to 250 degree oven for 12 to 24 hours.

What about the Sweet Almonds? Well, I discovered this one day when I was experimenting with stevia. My favorite brand of Stevia is called SweetLeaf. They have LOTS of different flavors of stevia. I soak my almonds for a day (or two, I always change the water daily). Just a small amount of nuts, enough for snacking. I keep them wet and cold in the fridge. When I am ready to eat them, I put a few drops of cinnamon-flavored stevia (this stuff is pretty powerful and bitter if too strong) and mix the almonds around. I find them easier to eat this way, raw and wet, although I may try one day to sweeten them and then dehydrate them to see how the taste is affected. They taste like those crunchy coated nuts at the carnivals and fairs without the sugar, flour, corn syrup, and anything else they add that is unhealthy for us.

Photo from flickr by gaetanlee

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Twittering Here, Twittering There

Given that I have been ultrabusy with studying and passing my holistic nutrition courses, and of course cooking, exercising, and living life, I have decided to post blogging articles once every other week, or as often as I can get to them. In the meantime, I am more available on twitter as @realfood2health. Don't know about twitter? Just go to www.twitter.com and sign up! You can find me at http://www.twitter.com/realfood2health. Check it out. I give out tips at least a few times a day, plus you get a more intimate view of what goes on in my life -- at least more often than I post here!

More to come on this blog, as I embrace "progress not perfection" in my life. Thanks!!!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Since Kale is SO popular right now...

I had to add another kale recipe (just so I have a record of it here for ME) that I really enjoyed yesterday. Thanks to Elana at Elana's Pantry. I first came across her website went I went searching for either gluten-free food or paleo food. It just so happens that her website is both! And, she has some fantastic recipes, so go check it out.

Yesterday, I modified Elana's version of her Raw Kale Salad to use what I had on hand. It was fantastic! I took the leftovers to an inaugural ball-watching party last night, and everyone (there happened to be alot of vegetarians in the room!) loved it! I did not think it was possible to like kale raw, but this did it for me. Hope you try it out!

1 bunch kale
1 T best extra-virgin olive oil you can buy
1/4 tsp sea salt (I use RealSalt)
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
Juice from one lemon (or half of a really juice lemon)
1 T minced sweet onion
1 orange, peeled, seeded, and cut into sections

1. Cut kale into noodle-skinny pieces. I leave the stems on and cut width-wise. The little stem pieces add crunch.
2. Put kale, olive oil, and salt in a bowl and mix. Make sure all kale pieces get covered. Let bowl site for a 5-10 minutes to soften.
3. Add vinegar, lemon juice, onion, and orange segments. Let bowl site another 5-10 minutes.
4. Eat and enjoy!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Have you challenged yourself today?

Here's my challenge, that I will share with all of you so maybe you can participate with me as well. I wanted to see what would happen after a full month of "sticking to it". The challenge to myself is to eat whole foods for 30 days. Whole foods to me means mostly colorful vegetables, some fruits, some protein, and some fats. To me, these are "primal" foods, such that our ancestors would have eaten before the agricultural age began.

Colorful vegetables - eggplants, kale, spinach, broccoli, you name it. Cauliflower and maybe those white asparagus that I never buy are the only exceptions that still work.

Fruits - mainly berries for me since they are low on the glycemic index. Blueberries, Strawberries, Raspberries, Blackberries. If I have an apple, I'll eat one quarter to one half of an apple, never the whole.

Proteins - fish, turkey, chicken, shellfish, and beef, in that order.

Fats - raw, cold-pressed olive oil for uncooked foods. Light olive oil for cooked foods.

I had the idea to start day 1 on Sunday, but I ended up eating leftovers yesterday that had beans. I'd rather eat leftovers than waste food, so I am starting today on Day 1 again. I will have to take measurements as a baseline and see how things progress over the next 30 days. Want to share this experience with me? Let me know how it goes for you too!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Meet my new friend, Kim Chi

Doesn't it sound like a girl's name? Meet my new friend Kim, Kim Chi. I'm not sure if it's really kimchi or kim chi or kim chee, but any way, it's a pretty odd food if you didn't grow up with it. Although I am not of Korean descent, my mom spent every once in a while making kimchi. I distinctly remember the *smell* more than anything. It stunk and how! That may be enough to make you turn and run. But, for those of you adventurous enough, try this out!

There are plenty of different recipes out there, the more complicated ones are for you cooking freaks. I prefer to keep things simple and this recipe below was easy enough for me to make and didn't involve too many ingredients. I pulled this recipe from a book called Nourishing Traditions, one of my favorite cookbooks! If you want a cookbook that offers real_food recipes, this is definitely one to consider. It could turn your whole food world upside down.

But, before the recipe, here are the reasons why kimchi is so good for you:

  • If you make it yourself, kimchi is a real food (be careful with store-bought versions with MSG or other not-so-good-for-you food additives) and can be customized to your needs (for those of you with allergies, mild to blazing your butt off hot, etc.)

  • Fermented kimchi adds Lactobacilli bacteria and digestive enzymes to help your digestive tract do its work properly.

  • Those of you who have a "gassier" time eating cabbage may have an easier time eating kimchi because of the fermentation.

  • Cabbage is rich in calcium, magnesium, chlorophyll, folic acid, vitamin C, selenium, sulfur, and chlorine.

  • Cabbage is loaded with indoles, dithiolethiones, isothiocynates, and sulforaphanes, which are all cancer-fighting nutrients.

  • Spicy, hot foods have been shown to burn more calories than non-spicy foods.

  • It is one of the lowest calorie foods you can eat PLUS fiber.

  • Use kimchi as an appetizer, which will help fill you up so you eat less for your main meal.

  • It's veggies that you can use to add to your Veggie Total of the Day!

NOTE: people who have hypothyroidism should consume cabbage in moderation as it may interfere with the proper function of the thyroid!

1 Head napa cabbage, cored & shredded
1 Bunch green onions, chopped
1 C carrots, grated
1/2C Daikon radish, grated (optional, but I like!)
1 Tablespoon freshly grated ginger
3 Cloves garlic, peeled & minced
1/2 Teaspoon dried chili flakes (this is MILD, you can add more but be warned!)
1 Tablespoon sea salt (I like RealSalt)
4 Tablespoons homemade whey** (see below, if not available, use an additional 1 Tablespoon sea salt)

Place everything in a big bowl, mix, and pound with meat hammer to release juices (I just used my washed hands to squish the big pieces). Place in a quart-sized sealable container and mix well. You should see juices starting to come out of the vegetables within the first half hour and the mixture should start shrinking in size. Whatever container you are using, make sure that the kimchi is at least 1" below the lid and that all pieces are touching the liquid. Leave on your kitchen counter for three days, then promptly move the container into the fridge.

Enjoy a little bit each day, as an appetizer or side dish to your main meal. Aside from the cabbage and the salt, the rest of the ingredients are highly customizable, so experiment. If you strongly dislike the smell but like the benefits, say to yourself "food as medicine", chew, and swallow! A little kimchi a day can keep the doctor away.

** Homemade whey means homemade whey from scratch, not whey powder bought from the store. I will post the NT's recipe for whey some time into the near future. Lacto-fermentation was how people preserved food old-school style, before refrigeration and technology. If you don't have homemade whey, use the extra salt instead. Either way, it will turn out great!

Photo courtesy of foodista on flickr.