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Essential Cuisine Basics

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Rosemary Tofu Toast

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When I discovered using fresh herbs on my everyday meals everything changed. A fresh herb, cooked or raw, can change a boring meal into something special.

Here is my special Rosemary Tofu Toast. Everyone I make this for thinks I am nuts when I pull raw tofu out of the fridge. Although I don't eat tofu a lot, every now and then I have to have this meal. Give it a try, and if you really don't like the idea of raw tofu, then use some raw goat cheese, avocado or just plain toast with the rosemary and olive oil.

Recipe
1 piece of your favorite toast (mine is spelt sourdough)
1 sprig of fresh rosemary
2 tablespoons of EVOO
2 slices of raw (firm) tofu

Warm sauce pan and add olive oil (don't get it too hot).

Finely chop the rosemary and add it to the olive oil, and cook it for just a minute or so (it should sizzle, but don't let it burn).

Pop bread into the toaster.

When the toast is crispy, place about 1 tablespoon of the EVOO rosemary mixture on the toast.

Top with the tofu, and all the remaining EVOO rosemary mixture.

Salt and pepper and then top it off with chili flakes (a must).

PS. If you haven’t heard, my friend Kami McBride has an amazing herb book called The Herbal Kitchen and it has… drumroll…250 (Yes, two hundred and fifty) recipes that have inspired my herbal kitchen for sure. You can check it out here 

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Coconut Oil

Let’s Get Tropical!

When asked to think of a tropical setting, many people think about palm trees, sandy beaches, pina coladas, fresh coconut milk sipped straight from the coconut, and of course, happy islanders.

The tree of life in tropical settings has always been the coconut tree, which provided food, drink and fuel to islanders for thousands of years. It was a necessary staple to their survival.

Study after study found that the happy islanders had more going for their health than we did as Americans. Their rates of cancer, diabetes, and degenerative diseases are nowhere near ours in the United States. Many health practitioners and researchers believe that the oils the tropical islanders consume are very protective.

History Set Our American Preferences

In the last few decades in America, edible oil (corn, sunflower, safflower, soy, and vegetable) manufacturers have marketed their oils heavily, emphasizing health benefits of unsaturated oils, and the lone coconut ended up with a bad rap about its saturated fat content along with a fear that it could cause plaque accumulation in the arteries. However, coconut oil liquefies once inside the body, and scientists have determined that arterial plaques are mostly a result of a combination of rancid unsaturated fats (lipid eroxidation) wuth the effects of adrenaline produced from stress.

Coconut oil research has now cracked open benefits of this life-giving tropical delight: better thyroid function, a stronger immune system, smoother skin, and better blood sugar regulation, even for diabetics. These are exactly some of the major issues we want solved in the 21st century.

It’s the coconut’s short and medium chain fatty acids with carbon chain lengths of 2 to 6 and 8 to 12, respectively, that still are a requirement for our biochemistry; one that hasn’t been met in recent years because of our consumption of trans fats and domestic animals fed grain. All medium-chain fats can enter cells easily, and one of them, lauric acid, according to Dr. Mary Enig, is strong in anti-viral, anti-bacterial, anti-protozoan, and anti-fungal properties. Capric acid, another of coconut’s healing fats, has strong anti-microbial actions. Adding coconut oil regularly to our foods can strengthen our immune system.

Learn how to use Coconut Oil and Coconut Cream for Raw Cuisine (desserts & sauces), and why it is the best oil for all your cooking needs. » Featured in both the Essential Cuisine á la Oils 2 DVD set * and * the Raw Food Series 3 DVD set. Special Pricing for all!

A Little Piece of the Tropics for Your Thyroid

With so many chemicals and pesticides in our environment with known negative effects on the thyroid gland, coconut oil is a perfect natural solution. G.W. Crile and his wife found that in the Yucatan, the metabolic rate of the people was 25% higher than people in the U.S. By 1950, it was established that unsaturated fats without a high level of antioxidants suppress the metabolic rate and create hypothyroidism.

The more unsaturated an oil is, the more it suppresses tissue response to thyroid hormone and the transport of thyroid hormone to the rest of the body, according to Dr. Raymond Peat, Ph.D. Coconut oil supports thyroid function and thyroid governs metabolic rate, and weight control. Many health practitioners are prescribing a little piece of the tropics: three tablespoons coconut oil per day added to the diet for those with thyroid abnormalities, and they’re finding that over time, the thyroid gland is normalizing itself and the pounds seem to melt off.

Recently published research also shows lipid-normalizing activities, helpful for those with elevated cholesterol and protection against alcohol damage to the liver. Women have discovered a fountain of youth in coconut oil, raving about benefits to the skin’s external appearance when applied topically. One woman stated her cosmetologist said she had never seen such rapid improvement in human skin before.

Coconut oil’s unique taste adds a burst of tropical flavor to traditional wok dishes (simply substitute coconut oil for other oils), sautéed vegetable dishes, in smoothies, in muffin and pancake recipes (substitute the oil.)

So delight in the tropics and give coconut oil a fighting chance; find ways to incorporate this restorative food into your current recipes.

Learn how to use Coconut Oil and Coconut Cream for Raw Cuisine (desserts & sauces), and why it is the best oil for all your cooking needs. » Featured in both the Essential Cuisine á la Oils 2 DVD set * and * the Raw Food Series 3 DVD set. Special Pricing for all!

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Sea Veggies

Vegetables from the Sea

The feeling of satisfaction after a meal depends, in part, on the amount of vitamins and minerals in that meal. More and more people are finding that when they increase the mineral content of the foods on their plate, they feel incredibly satisfied. They don’t crave ‘wrong’ foods between meals. They begin to lose weight if they originally weigh in at more than ideal body weight.

Adding Minerals from Sea Vegetables is Easy Increasing the mineral content of a meal is a simple process when you use sea vegetables, also called seaweeds. These ocean treats include kelp (Alaria, Laminaria, and other species), dulse, nori, bladderwrack, and other seaweeds. Just as the pumpkin seed oils and flax seed oils from different geographic regions have distinct flavors, you’ll find distinct flavors with the sea vegetables, depending on where the sea vegetable has been harvested from.

One way to add several seaweeds to your diet is to simply pulverize them in a coffee grinder and then store in a jar marked “mineral mixture.” You can also store the mineral mixture in salt shakers for use as a salt substitute. Add a little, one-quarter to one teaspoon, to soups, stews or salad dressings, or sprinkle on top of cooked foods and salads, right before serving.

Long History of Use of Sea Vegetables Seaweed has long been known for its nutritional and medicinal properties. Historical records of its use date back to 100 B.C. when the Greeks incorporated seaweed into their diet and into their herbal treatments. The Japanese hand-picked sea vegetables for use as a staple ‘crop’. Hawaiians and Polynesians grew kelp farms, and cultivated more than 60 different types for food, medicines, and ceremonial rituals. Europeans used sea vegetables such as seaweed as an herbal medicine.

Nutritional and Health Benefits Sea vegetables can be compared to a sponge, absorbing from the water everything essential to life, and one of the richest sources of nutrients. Just as sea water is rich in 60 minerals and trace elements such as iron, potassium, natural sodium, phosphorus, zinc, and manganese, the sea vegetables also tend to be good sources of these minerals and trace elements. The sea vegetables themselves are good sources of the vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, B6, B12, vitamin D, vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin K, folic acid, and pantothenic acid. Also a rich source of iodine, sea vegetables maintain a healthy thyroid and can assist in long-term weight loss and weight maintenance.

Seaweeds are a treasure chest of goodness, containing amino acids and beta-carotene that firm and renew skin, and slow the aging process. In the last 5 years, skin care companies have chosen to add sea vegetables to their formulas for beautiful skin because of the high antioxidant content and humectant properties of the plants. Seaweeds also contain fatty acids that are important for cell membranes and fight against inflammation.

Several medicinal constituents are found in sea vegetables, including chlorophyll, fucoidan, carotenoids, sterols, algin, sodium alginate, carrageenan, mucopolysaccharides, and alginic acid.

Because chlorophyll, which is found in green plants and seaweeds exposed to light, has a structure very close to hemoglobin, plants containing it have been found helpful for those who have a tendency to be anemic. Chlorophyll is also a body ‘purifier’, eliminating odors that emanate from inside the body. Fucoidan promotes healthier skin, is an antioxidant that fights free radicals, and is found abundantly in kelp.

Carotenoids have multiple functions in the body, including quenching free radicals that arise from oxidized fats and infectious micro-organisms. Sterols take action against cholesterol, lowering levels in the blood. Algin, in the form of sodium alginate, is found in kelp. Algin gels in water, and by so doing, helps remove heavy metals and radioactive elements from the body such as strontium 90, found in radioactive fallout. It’s a bulking agent, providing substance for the stool, encouraging normal elimination.

Carrageenans, found in red seaweeds abundant along the Irish coastline, form gels at room temperature and can be used to thicken food products. Mucopolysaccharides, found in sea vegetables, are gel-like as well, and act as supportive tissue components in the body’s cells, especially in bones, joints, cartilage and in mucus. These possess anti-inflammatory properties.

Specifics on Sea Vegetables Sea vegetables grow at different parts of the intertidal zone in the oceans and seas. Their colors vary, depending on sunlight exposure, depth found in the sea, and type of species. Some grow to several feet long, while others maximally attain plant length of less than 12 inches.

The kelp species, Laminaria and Alaria, grow along rocky shores below the low water mark line and reach lengths of up to 15 feet and 36 feet, respectively.

Dulse is a red, chewy seaweed that grows in deep water in the North Atlantic and Northwest Pacific near Canada. In Nova Scotia, one variety is cultivated and marketed as Sea Parsley, and found fresh in the produce section. The island of Grand Manan in the Archipelago is known for the best dulse, which is darker, thicker and more flavorful than other dulse products. Widely available in health food stores and fish markets, dulse is used for food and medicinally. One handful provides a healthy portion of Vitamin B6, vitamin B12, iron, fluoride, and potassium.

Nori, also called Laver, has a reddish hue and grows in thin sheets on rocky shores in the low to mid parts of the intertidal zone.

Irish moss is found in the lower intertidal zone and is up to 10 inches in length. Colors vary from dark purple red to brown, yellow, white or green, depending on the exposure to sunlight. This sea vegetable is used for commercial purposes; an ingredient called carrageenin is used as a thickener and to create gels for the pharmaceutical and food industries.

Other sea vegetables are used for organic fertilizers and in human and pet dietary supplements.

Sea Vegetables are Often Hand Harvested Frequently, sea vegetables are picked by hand at low tide. The fronds are brought to fields to sun-dry, then shaken to remove sand, shells, and other miscellaneous. Rolled into large bales, the seaweeds are then packaged or ground later. Sea vegetables are inspected for water-borne contaminants, such as heavy metals, PCBs, herbicides, pesticides, E. coli, yeasts and molds.

One Maine sea vegetable company started out in 1971 with two people hand-picking 100 pounds of sea vegetables each, and now handles 100,000 pounds annually. More people are finding the tastes palatable and the nutrients indispensable.

Using Sea Vegetables in Recipes The most common sea vegetables are dulse, nori, and kelp. In the recipe suggestions below, consider how easy it is to incorporate these wonderful, healthy foods into your menu items.

In soups and chowders, and in pastas, add diced or sliced dulse, nori, Alaria, or Irish moss for flavor and minerals. Powered or granule form can also be used. Alaria is known for its great flavor when added to miso soup.

In sandwiches and in salads, use dulse or nori as ‘lettuce leaves’. Pre-soak or marinate Alaria before adding it to salads.

The next time you make popcorn, use kelp granules, crushed nori, or your mineral mixture, along with some cayenne pepper, nutritional yeast, and other seasonings for a spicy snack.

Consider the addition of dulse flakes, kelp granules or your mineral mixture to bread and pizza dough, to boost the nutrients of your family. Do the same to homemade muffin and waffle recipes.

For a different type of snack, try dry-roasting nori. Or pan-fry dulse or nori in sesame oil with or without vegetables. Or simply top dulse with cheese, bake, then add salsa.

Use sheets of nori for sushi wrap.

 

Resources/References: www.sea-vegg.org www.grandmanannb.com www.seaveg.com www.natural-connection.com www.simply-natural.biz  

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Salt

Bring on the Right Salt, and Eliminate the Wrong One

Did you know that it’s possible to reduce your sodium level without reducing the level of salts that your body needs?

The type of salt you consume can contribute to not only your sodium levels, but also provide you with trace amounts of magnesium, manganese, lithium, and calcium, important for heart and nervous system function.

Did you know that using no salt while cooking, and then surprising your guests by adding a delicious un-refined salt on top of foods will win their taste buds every time? I call this method, “á la salt.”

Every good cook knows that a pinch of salt can change a flat, dull dish into one that bursts with flavor. When you salt food during cooking though, the natural salts in the food are changed, and in my opinion, covered up. Many chef’s believe that salt enhances the flavor of the food, which it does, but the original flavor is altered. If you add unrefined salts after cooking, the original flavors of the foods come forth, and then you get this incredible burst of salt that compliments, rather than alters.

Have you ever noticed that the less processing a food has, the better its taste? One reason this occurs is because the food’s integrity is held intact and all flavors are woven together as nature intended. The taste is fuller and richer on all levels. This is true for salt as well. There are definitely occasions where I like to fuse salt with cooking, but it is seldom. I love adding a beautiful unrefined salt as a finishing touch just before serving. Using salt this way is not only the most delicious, but it is also the safest in that you will most likely never overuse. But, let’s explore the story of salt a little further so we can dispel the myth that salt is bad for you, and clarify why it is a much needed and valuable food for our body and our palate!

Salt Varies in Flavor Depending on Geography

Salt is fast becoming the next gourmet secret to cooking a perfect dish. Just like fine wines are purchased for the aroma and flavor they develop from a geographical region, gourmet salts are not only known for their aroma and exquisite taste that melts in your mouth, which leaves no bitter aftertaste, but also their different colors.

Celtic salts arising from the pristine Atlantic seawater off the coast of Brittany, France are gray. Hawaiian Red salt has a distinctive pink color due to the natural mineral called “alaea” from volcanic baked red clay. Black salt, also called Sanchal or Kala Namak salt, is a pearly pinkish gray color.

Salts from the Mediterranean, Australia, New Zealand, the Murray River near the Alps Mountain range, the Himalayan Mountains, and even Redmond, Utah are also available, each with their own distinct colors and flavors.

Cooking Reasons to Use Gourmet Salts

Not only is salt a preservative in foods by drawing out moisture, it also is used in cooking for:

  • acting as a meat tenderizer
  • making hard-boiled eggs peel easily
  • preventing the oxidative changes of apples, pears and potatoes
  • enhancing the flavor of coffee and removing the bitterness if overcooked
  • improving the flavor of poultry when rubbed both inside and on the outside of the bird
  • keeping salads crisp, when salted immediately before serving
  • whipping cream and egg whites – with salt, they whip better, faster, and higher
  • setting gelatin salads and desserts quickly, when placed over ice that has been sprinkled with salt  

Physiological Reasons To Use Gourmet Salt Our body needs salt, and it is essential to good health. Not enough causes dizziness, muscle cramps, exhaustion, and in serious cases, convulsions and death. It’s essential to our well-being.

Sodium is required for the proper functioning of our nerves and muscle contraction. It’s essential for the production of hydrochloric acid, which digests protein and the maintenance of fluid, pH, and electrolyte balance. Every quarter teaspoon of salt is equivalent to 600 mg sodium, contributing to the 2000-2500 mg of sodium we need daily.

Natural salt is the greatest alkaline-forming substance known to man. Salt helps to balance and replenishes all the body’s electrolytes. It stimulates salivation.

Salt cures were recorded back in the early 1800’s when sick people traveled to salt springs to soak their bodies for hours. Now, luxurious spas offer salt baths, salt glows, and rubs that exfoliate dead skin, relieve stress and stimulate circulation.

Excessive salt consumption, though, has been associated with high blood pressure, calcium deficiency, osteoporosis, weight gain, fluid retention, stomach cancer, and strokes. However, medical and scientific studies examined the effect of only refined white salt, not unrefined sea salt.

In the book, Sea Salt’s Hidden Powers, by Dr. Langre, he notes that violent prisoners given a natural salt, one with all the minerals remaining called Celtic Sea Salt showed improved behaviors within a few short weeks. It may be that Celtic sea salt contains natural lithium salts that can be naturally calming or it may be that the very small amounts of “active” minerals from the sea is exactly what our body is looking for.

Table Salt Versus Gourmet “Real” Salt

Table salt comes from salt mines. Most of the minerals are removed from it, leaving pure sodium chloride. Table salt is available as either plain or iodized salt. The iodization began in the 1920’s after it was found that certain parts of the country had low levels of iodine that were contributing to the development of goiter, an enlargement of the thyroid gland.

One problem with ordinary table salt and the minerals that have been removed is that we need the minerals. A food devoid of vitamins or minerals that it had in its original state “looks for” the missing nutrients in the body after it’s consumed, taking the missing nutrients from our body’s storage of nutrients.

Refined table salt may also be bleached. Additives such as dextrose, yellow prussiate of soda, potassium iodide, and anti-caking agents such as aluminum-oxide silicates, tricalcium phosphate, magnesium carbonate, and sodium bicarbonate may be added, which can actually interfere with our own body’s mineral absorption from foods. This makes it a less than wholesome food.

The sodium chloride in Celtic Sea salt and other naturally-occurring salts is naturally balanced with potassium and in a highly charged state so that it becomes very active in the body. This is not so with ordinary table salt.

The Process of Salt-Making Sea salt is derived directly from a living ocean or sea such as the Atlantic Ocean, the North Sea, and the Mediterranean Sea. It is produced by evaporating sea water, a process that is more expensive than salt produced from mines. Not as refined as regular table salt, sea salt still contains traces of minerals such as iron, magnesium, zinc, iodine, calcium, and potassium,

Sun and wind evaporates seawater into salt brine that is collected in an open evaporating pan. The texture of salt can vary from rock salt to flakes of salt similar to snowflakes to fine particles. With slow heating, the delicate pyramid-shaped crystals of salt appear. This results in light, flaky sea salt.

When ‘young’ crystals are hand harvested under specific weather conditions by salt farmers, the result is premier condiment salt called Fleur de Sel or Flower of Salt. This salt is ideal for salads, grilled meats, and cooked fresh vegetables.

Kosher salt contains fewer additives and surprisingly, is saltier than regular table salt. Its texture is usually flakes, which dissolve easily and are less pungent than ordinary salt.

Rock salt is mixed with ice for making delicious homemade ice cream. It can also be sprinkled over ice to rapidly chill bottled beverages in picnic coolers.

Coarse salt is preferred by many professional chefs because it is easily measured with the fingers.

Smoked sea salts add authentic smoke house flavor. Naturally smoked over wood fires, the salt crystals are infused with 100% natural smoke flavor. Smoked sea salts add unique flavors to roasts, salmon, chicken, sandwiches, pasta, soups and salads.

The term “organic salt “ is an oxymoron, since salt cannot be grown organically like plants; it’s a mineral. The term ‘organic’ in the phrase organic salt refers to the production of salt during harvesting and processing according to organic methods and standards, controlled by the independent certifying body. The salt must be unrefined and totally natural. Harvesting must take place in a protected, non-polluted environment with ponds at least 500 meters away from major roads. During harvesting, only untreated wooden or polyethylene tools are allowed. The salt must be free from pesticides, industrial fumes, chemical residues and air pollution.

Add “á la Salt” to Your Dishes Salt on top of soups, salads, and cooked vegetables completes the taste buds and the meal in a unique way, without causing harm to your health. Try it! I guarantee you will be delighted as you were will finally be able to really get the true wonderful taste of salt with your food... yum!

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Pumpkin Seed Oil

More Than A Breath of Fresh Mountain Air

Let’s travel in our minds now to the foothills of the Alps, to the Austrian province of Steiermark. Imagine the breathtaking view of the Alps, the fresh mountain air with rich pine scents. Let’s head out to the farmer’s market where the aroma of fresh fruits and vegetables fills the air.

This is an area of the world known for the highest number of organic farmers per capita and it’s an area where the soil loam is rich in minerals.

Here you’ll find the Styrian pumpkin, an heirloom variety that is grown for its seeds that are then pressed into oil. One pumpkin yields only one ounce of oil, but those who have tasted its goodness agree that the rich, nutty taste of this pumpkin seed oil not only reflects the nutrients in the soil but it’s also a perfect complement to a wide variety of dishes.

The pumpkin tap root grows six feet underground, collecting as many minerals as it can, especially zinc and selenium, two minerals most Americans are deficient in. The Styrian pumpkin seed oil is rich in vitamins E and A, and like flax seed oil, it’s high in omega-3 and omega-6 oils and alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) which has been found to delay and/or prevent the development of cancer metastases, especially in breast cancer.

One study found a protective effect on prostate cells from pumpkin seed oil when hormones were given. The oil is known to prevent and alleviate bladder problems in both sexes, and it’s common knowledge that eating pumpkin seeds relieves enlarged prostate gland symptoms.

Pumpkin seeds have both anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties and contain most B vitamins, vitamin D, E, K, and C, and the minerals calcium, phosphorus and potassium. Some researchers find them helpful against depression (due to a high tryptophan content) and learning disabilities.

In the 1700’s, when the Austrian government discovered that the farmers and peasants were healthier than government officials, a thorough investigation resulted. The mystery was solved with evidence that the only thing different in the two diets was the inclusion of pumpkin seed oil in poor peasants’ diet. Rumor has it that the government then allowed pumpkin seed oil only for medicinal uses, not as a food. Now, though, times have changed and we can partake in this Austrian delicacy.

Old herbal remedy books list pumpkin seeds as an effective parasite eliminator; one tapeworm recipe suggests eating a mixture of the seeds with milk and honey, then followed with castor oil two hours later. The tapeworms are eliminated. The Chinese report the use of pumpkin seeds for the treatment of another parasitic disease, schistosomiasis.

Pumpkin seed oil is a delicious alternative to butter and can be combined with other oils to make salad dressings. You can also add the oil to salads, top baked potatoes with it, sprinkle on top of vegetable and grain dishes or to protein drinks, smoothies and shakes.

Since the beginning of time, man has partaken of a wide variety of perfect foods from his own environment in season. Now, we are able to use foods from all areas of the world with very little inconvenience and the result is the health we all desire and deserve.

Consider adding a little of each of these culinary treasures from the tropics, the old Roman empire, and the Alps to your diet and see how easily your ailments improve while your taste buds soar to a global level.

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Kefir Milk

Kefir Milk: The Food that Makes Modern-Day Miracles

Got milk? Many people sadly reply, “No!” and fondly recall milk memories – dunking Oreo cookies in milk before bed, pouring it over cereal, tasting it in soups, and eating its flavorful dessert counterpart, ice cream. These people each have their own personal reasons for choosing to leave milk out of their diet forever – usually an inability to digest milk, intestinal disease that creates upset stomachs after any milk product consumption, or the desire to appear macho based on the belief that ‘cool’ teens don’t drink milk, especially in public.

The truth is that nothing beats a glass of cold milk when you want it. However, what has happened on modern-day farms has changed our desire for this nutritious beverage that is used as a source of protein, an immediate carbohydrate source, and “good” fat calories in many cultures around the world.

You are most likely familiar with the three major controversies about milk in the diet:

  1. Is milk even necessary and good for those who aren’t nursing? 
  2. Doesn’t the pasteurization process kill good bacteria, leaving bad flora that are linked with Crohn’s disease, colon cancer and asthma? 
  3. Will the hormones added to non-organic cow’s milk cause health problems many years later? 

Because of all these controversies about milk, many people are actively looking for a good substitute. Soy milk, rice milk and almond milk may be used as a substitute in some daily recipes, but these still don’t approximate the taste, texture and value of wholesome “raw” milk. Raw milk is quickly gaining back popularity as generations of people have experienced many health problems due to their inability to digest pasteurized milk. To read more about Raw Milk go to: www.organicpastures.com. But, this article is not about Raw Milk and/or pasteurization, it is about cultured milk – Kefir. Kefir, or cultured milk has been known as a food staple for years within cultures of people who live vibrant, healthy, disease free lives up into their 80 ad 90’s.

Healthy, Nourishing, and Healing Benefits Kefir milk has been a regular part of the cuisine in Russia and Bulgaria for hundreds of years, most likely contributing to longevity.

Since kefir milk protein is easier to digest than non-fermented milk, the tasty beverage is an excellent choice for those with digestive disorders, the elderly, invalids and babies. Kefir milk, when made from mammal’s milk, is rich in the amino acid, tryptophan, which is helpful for its relaxing benefits on the nervous system. It also contains calcium and magnesium, is a good source of phosphorus, vitamin B12, B1, vitamin K, and biotin. By providing many nutrients in substantial amounts, kefir milk can also help eliminate cravings for unhealthy foods.

Kefir’s friendly microbes contribute to a healthy colon by reducing flatulence and promoting colon motility. The microbes ‘cleanse as they go,’ establishing a balanced inner ecosystem necessary for longevity and optimum health. Kefir strengthens the immune system and is said to have helped many alleviate their sleep disorders, depression, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

With the numerous benefits that beg you to indulge in adding kefir milk to your diet, why not start today? Incorporate it into your daily diet and don’t forget it when socializing with friends. But beware – a glance in the mirror will soon uncover a milk mustache… and your friends will start asking you, “Got Kefir?”

Make Kefir a Permanent Food Staple for the Whole Family! A great way to learn to make Kefir is through the DVD – Cultured Veggies/Kefir Kitchen.

To make your own Kefir, take the healthiest form of milk, raw milk from a mammal, and add micro-organisms to it to ferment it. The result is one of the most satisfying and healthiest beverages you have ever tasted: kefir milk. And, if you can’t get raw milk in your areas, and your only choice is commercial pasteurized milk, you are still ahead of the game if you enliven by culturing it. The good news is, it is so simple to make!

Just as yogurt uses Lactobacillus bacteria to ferment it with the end result of a slightly sour creamy curd that can be flavored with fruit, kefir milk uses a similar process:

1. In a glass jar, add one quart raw cow’s, goat, or sheep milk or rice, coconut or soy milk that has been warmed to about 100 degrees, and kefir starter granules. The starter granules contain not just one species of bacteria, but several strains including Lactobacillus Caucasus, Leuconostoc, Acetobacter, and Streptococcus. Surprisingly to many, kefir granules also contain beneficial yeasts such as Torula and Saccharomyces species that can dominate, control and eliminate pathogenic yeasts. (Torula yeast is one of the yeasts that nutritional yeast is produced from.) The more healthy strains of micro-organisms that live in your intestinal tract, the better. It’s possible you could discontinue your probiotic supplements with the addition of kefir milk to your diet.

2. Cover and let sit at room temperature for 1-3 days, depending on the geographical area (One day: Hawaii, southern California and southern parts of the U.S.; two days for the central states including Nevada, Kansas, Ohio, Illinois, Virginia); and between three and five days for the northernmost parts of the U.S.)

During the incubation process, the gelatinous kefir granules swell, clumping together with casein and the milk sugars. Some may be the size of a broccoli flower clump. The microbes ferment the milk and multiply, leaving millions of friendly flora, which have been proven to colonize the intestinal tract.

Lactose milk sugar, which often causes gas and bloating after milk consumption, is used up by the kefir bacteria and yeasts. The kefir milk product has a substantially lower level of lactose that those with intestinal issues can handle successfully.

Kefir Milk: It’s White and Creamy, Slightly Sour and ‘Grows’ on You… The resulting beverage can be whisked or blended for a smoother consistency. Refrigeration slows down the fermentation process; kefir milk will stay fresh in the refrigerator for a few weeks.

There is much versatility for kefir milk in various parts of the daily diet. Add it on top of cereal in the morning for breakfast and it will perk up your day. The mixture of kefir milk with vanilla, bee pollen, honey, coconut oil, and fruit makes a great quick meal when you need energy for a few hours. Similarly, you can add cinnamon, lemon, or ginger for three smoothie variations.

Kefir milk can be mixed with mayonnaise and herbs such as basil, oregano, dill, rosemary, parsley, cilantro, or ginger for a different blend of flavors for salad dressing.

Right before serving, add kefir milk to thicken a thin soup.

Use kefir milk as a substitute for yogurt. Use it in cream pies as a binder. To create a different type of whipped cream, blend until it becomes a frothy cream and spoon a tablespoon on top of fresh fruit or fruit pies.

Add an egg and fruit to kefir milk, blend thoroughly, then freeze for a new version of homemade ice cream.

The list of what to do with this excellent cultured food is almost endless. Enjoy this delicious food every day.

 

Resources: 1. www.mercola.com 2. www.kefir.net 3. www.motherearthnews.com 

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Flax Seed and Oils

Eat Like Romans… Exhibit Strength, Stamina, Mental Clarity & Robust Health

To many, the aroma of freshly-baked bread is so pleasant that it’s almost intoxicating!

According to historical record, soldiers of the Roman Empire marched with rations of bread baked with flaxseed meal and flax seed oil 9000 years ago. They most likely felt the “grounded” feeling, a feeling of mental stability after eating their bread, just like we do today when we add it to our foods.

Additional records prove that flax was also used in India, China, Syria and Turkey for its seed and fiber to make fabric, dye, paper, fishing nets, cattle feed, medicines and soap. It’s extremely useful to us, just like coconut.

Flax may be responsible for why the Romans were so successful in their conquests.

One major reason why is that the type of fat consumed is linked with your state of mind.

In the early 1980’s, Dr. Donald O. Rudin, Director of the Department of Molecular Biology at Eastern Pennsylvania Psychiatric Institute found that within two hours, patients who had various mental disorders experienced improved mood and their depression lifted with flax seed oil.

Certainly, we wouldn’t want those with mood disorders in our own military, but when you consider that omega-3s are involved in IQ and behavior, how one reacts to allergens, the status of the myelin sheath surrounding the nerves, inflammation, the ability to mentally focus, cardiovascular health and hormone modulation, flax seed meal and oil becomes more and more important.

One of Dr. Rudin’s patients experienced dramatically improved moods after only three days. Her marked sense of increased physical energy and unique exuberance was also exhibited in other patients in varying degrees. After six to eight weeks, most of them were sleeping better and were more energetic. They also were less anxious and depressed. Switching them back to a high omega-6 fat diet, such as one found in the American diet, resulted in a return of their symptoms.

Learn how to use flax and other oils of impeccable quality for great sauces and dressing. » Featured in both the Essential Cuisine a la Oils 2 DVD set * and * the Raw Food Series 3 DVD set. Special Pricing for all!

Not Just Mental Attitude, But Other Illnesses Helped

The brain is composed of 60% fat, and nerve cells are extremely rich in omega-3 fatty acids, containing five times more omega-3 fatty acids than red blood cells.

Flax seed contains 18 carbon omega-3 fats which can be converted to other omega-3 fats, EPA and DHA (20 and 22-carbon chain fats), although the conversion rate is low (2-15%). Still, for some who don’t eat fish, which may be a much better source of EPA and DHA because it needs no conversion in the body, adding flax seed oil may kickstart health benefits.

Taking 1-2 tablespoons of flax oil daily fulfills the requirement for linolenic acid, EPA and DHA, three essential fats important for preventing cancer, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, arthritis and auto-immunity, as well as boosting our brain’s ability to think clearly without the need for mood elevators. Flax seed oil is the plant world’s most abundant source of omega-3 fats, about 55% by weight.

Researchers studied different sub-groups of the population to find possible correlations of low omega-3 fats and different health issues, and see if the addition of flax seed oil and omega-3 fats might help. Their results showed a definite correlation to those with high blood pressure, those on statin drugs that deplete the omega-3 brain fats, violent criminals, children with ADHD, women with PMS, those with calcium deposits and low bone density, and even moms who just gave birth.

Many Practical Food Uses

In recent years, many nutritionists recommend grinding flax seeds or using flax seed meal in simple ways, for example, just sprinkle it on top of cottage cheese and add it to breakfast cereal. The ability of the seeds to swell up and draw water to itself makes it an excellent binding agent for burgers, cakes and muffins. One tablespoon flax seeds together with three tablespoons water added to a recipe can substitute for one egg.

Many people use flax seed oil as a regular component of salad dressings or take it in capsules for its healthful benefits.

Each of us is marching on a daily basis to fight our own individual battles, and using one of the secrets of the Romans, we stand a better chance to succeed.

Learn how to use flax and other oils of impeccable quality for great sauces and dressing. » Featured in both the Essential Cuisine a la Oils 2 DVD set * and * the Raw Food Series 3 DVD set. Special Pricing for all!

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Cultured Foods

When something's missing from your meal...

Have you ever noticed that sometimes after you’ve finished a meal, you don’t feel satisfied? Something was missing, but you can’t put your finger on what it may be.

It’s possible that some of the 10,000 taste buds on your tongue didn’t get enough stimulation with that meal. With taste buds for sweet, sour, salty, bitter and savory (a specific taste found in the amino acids of protein), it can be difficult to keep all five “buds” satisfied.

To keep them satisfied is the goal of many fancy and fast food restaurants. They know that if you’re satisfied, you’ll come back, over and over again. The successful restaurants know how to add all the right tastes to their meals. An example is hamburgers. For many, a burger without a pickle is incomplete!

It’s quite easy to satisfy the sweet, salty, bitter and savory taste buds, but to activate the sour ones, it will take a bit, not much, of menu planning.

Cultured foods can fill that missing gap in the meal and make the process easy. These foods simply start with a whole, natural food, and change it to a new, slightly sour food with a different texture within a matter of hours through a process of fermentation. The process is totally natural. Cultured foods include foods such as sauerkraut, kim chee, cheese, kefir and yogurt, but other foods can be cultured, including soybeans, eggplant, cucumbers, and turnips. In different cultures, whatever vegetable is in season is used for culturing.

We Need Bacteria in Our Intestinal Tract The two primary reasons why cultured foods need to be a part of one’s diet are: 1) to provide that complete stimulation for the taste buds, and 2) to support the microbial flora in the intestinal tract.

Surprisingly, we’re all “walking bags of bacteria.” Our body is comprised of 10 trillion body cells that collectively compose our organs, bones, nervous system, muscles, skin, hair and nails. However, inside the numerous feet of our intestinal tract is an estimated 100 trillion live bacteria, viruses, fungi, parasites of about 500 different species; both good and bad, that set up their own environment for either health or illness. A ‘good’ or ‘friendly’ species is one that synthesizes different vitamins and when in high numbers, creates health. A ‘bad’ species is one that creates disease or pathology in the body by its presence in high numbers. Collectively, the good and bad microbes are called flora.

It’s entirely possible that your intestinal microbes could be signaling to you at the end of a meal with a message of “feed me!” through that feeling that there’s something missing from the meal. Cultured foods not only feed the flora; they also restore the healthy balance between the good microbes and the bad ones and contribute to optimum functioning of every organ in the body.

We’re Out of Balance The reason why it’s important to incorporate more appropriate live flora on a daily basis is that it’s easy to get out of balance with these microbes. One dose of a broad-spectrum antibiotic will annihilate the good and bad bacteria together, similar to a terrorist act at the microscopic level, within your intestines! The antibiotic may not kill resistant fungi or parasites, though, which then gives them the chance to proliferate wildly. Even an antibiotic that is more specific will still have terrorist actions on your gut microbes.

High amounts of sugar and processed foods will do the same thing. And chemicals and pesticides in the foods we eat could possibly be a more specific type of ‘terrorist act’, paralyzing certain types of the friendly bacteria and other flora.

Every food we eat contains a mixture of good and bad live flora. The bacteria on fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds colonize our intestinal tract, leaving species that implant themselves in the colon and create health. Unless there has been animal contamination in the crop fields or human contamination in the processing process, these foods and the flora they contain are safe.

Cultured Foods: The Answer to More Satisfying Meals... And Some Intestinal Problems Researchers have found that good bacteria in the gut activates a substance in plant cell walls and fibers called SLC5A8 which transforms undigested glucose to energy. SLC5A8 acts somehow as a transporter of short-chain fatty acids in the colon, which the colon uses for energy. The SLC5A8 also is closely tied to colon motility. When the bacterial flora is wiped out and in cases of colon cancer, the SLC5A8 levels are decreased significantly.

It’s the act of processing foods that starts to create an imbalance in the flora a food naturally contains. The food industry, concerned with food safety, uses different methods to ‘sanitize’ or ‘sterilize’ the foods it prepares for mass human consumption. Irradiation, the use of chemicals and preservatives, flash heating, microwaving, and pasteurization will all destroy the good, and bad, natural micro-organisms found in food.

Researchers have found that this destruction sets up the body for disease to follow: Crohn’s disease, irritable bowel syndrome, allergies, asthma, lactose intolerance, food sensitivities, constipation, colon cancer, autism, chronic fatigue syndrome, and other chronic illnesses.

In one Canadian study, researchers gave probiotic supplements, which are a combination of micro-organisms, to colonize the gut to 28 intensive care patients suffering from multiple organ dysfunction syndrome. Within a week, their immunity was greatly enhanced.

You need an intestinal SWAT team, and the easiest way to bring one in is with cultured foods. These foods are teeming with dozens of strains of micro-organisms that will replenish those armies of good bacteria that have been depleted or damaged. Once replaced, the friendly microbial flora is ready to stand in your defense, and this SWAT team isn’t just helpful for gastrointestinal health.

In another study, mice were given an antibiotic, which wiped out the intestinal flora, then subjected to a fungi. Within a few days, allergic hypersensitivity toward the fungi appeared.

Research now shows us that it seems we have a second brain, one that emanates from the commander of the gut’s army of microbes. The microbes produce hormones and other chemicals that influence the immune system, the brain, the reproductive organs, and every other part of the body.

Cultured foods can provide you with a complete spectrum of micro-organisms on a daily basis. One serving of a cultured food can be better than an entire bottle of probiotic supplements you find on the shelf at the health food store. That’s because each cultured food will naturally provide you with dozens of species of bacteria, as compared to five or maybe 10 different species in a supplement. Natural health enthusiasts believe that in sauerkraut alone, there are close to 300 species!

Cultured Foods Are Easy to Prepare (Learn to make your own with Chef Teton's Cultured Veggies & Kefir Kitchen DVD) Some of the same species of bacteria used to ferment foods now are the same ones used hundreds of years ago. That’s because the eco-system hasn’t changed all that much, bacteriologically speaking. Food still ferments naturally at room temperature, and depending on the cultured food you’re making, you can choose to add starter organisms or use the environment’s natural flora.

Sauerkraut

The cultivation of cabbage goes back millennia as does the creation of sauerkraut recipes. The Chinese and Mongolians used the food as a nourishing food. The Celts are said to have introduced cabbage to the British Isles as early as the 4th century B.C.

Sauerkraut recipes start with raw green and/or red cabbage and salt is added to create a brine necessary for the natural fermentation process. You’ll need no starter bacteria.

The sauerkraut that you make in your kitchen will be a far better product than that found in most grocery stores. Commercial brands have often been heated or pasteurized, killing the food’s innate natural flora.

Kim chee (also spelled kimchi, gimchi, or kimche) This is a traditional Korean dish made of seasoned vegetables that are fermented and eaten with rice or in stew. References to kim chee recipes date back 3000 years ago. In the 1800s, napa cabbage was used instead of a traditional head of cabbage, and chili peppers were added to spice up the recipe. This recipe became quite popular.

Kim chee can also be made from radishes, cucumber, turnips, and are seasoned with ginger, onions, garlic, fish, oysters, and shellfish. Kim chee is rich in vitamin C when cabbage is the primary ingredient, and naturally high in vitamin A, thiamine, riboflavin, calcium and iron.

Miso Miso is a traditional Japanese dish produced by fermenting soybeans with a starter culture known as koji, Other grains such as barley, wheat, buckwheat, corn, millet, amaranth, and quinoa, and even hemp and chickpeas, are used. Koji starter culture is from the mold, Aspergillus. Thus, those with mold sensitivities should not eat this food.

To prepare miso, the grain and koji is mixed with water and salt, usually in a barrel, and allowed to age for up to a few years. The longer the aging process, the better the flavor.

Miso can be used as part of a meal (along with rice and vegetables) or just as a flavor within foods such as vegetable dishes, soups, salad dressings, and stews. If used as a flavor, the miso should not be added during the cooking process, but more toward the end of the cooking.

The color of miso can be white, red, black, depending on the type of grain used.

When made from soybeans, miso contains isoflavones (about 20mg/100g), saponins, soy protein (partly digested) and live enzymes (in non-pasteurized miso). Although this cultured food doesn’t necessarily taste slightly acidic, it captivates the taste buds associated with savory tastes.

A study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute (June 18, 2003) showed that women who consumed three or more bowls of miso soup daily reduced their risk of getting breast cancer by about 40 percent compared with those who had only one bowl.

Yogurt Yogurt has become a staple in the diet for many Americans as well as those in other cultures. Loaded with Lactobacillus species of bacteria, many have used yogurt to help restore friendly bacteria in the gut after antibiotic use.

Kefir (please see article on Kefir)

The regular consumption of cultured foods will constantly aide in building a healthy intestinal flora. They are powerful foods that should be consumed daily, if not with every meal!

Resources: 1. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol. 85, No. 3, March 2007: 816-823 2. Science Blog May 26, 2004 3. www.mercola.com 4. The Journal of Biological Chemistry February 13, 2004 5. www.accessexcellence.org  

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Introduction to Healthy Oils

Introduction to Healthy Oils

Not only are we surrounded by a global economy, but now, most of us have global taste buds. Americans demand international cuisine foods and flavors, and for good reason. Every geographical area of the world has within its flora and fauna, a compendium of foods and culinary treasures that are not only nourishing, but also medicinal. Mixing and matching them can provide our diet with key nutrients that fill in the gaps of any missing ingredients.

One of the areas where we can shift our tastes slightly and make a significant impact on our health is by steering away from the traditional ground crops providing us with corn, soy, safflower and vegetable oils. We can include different oils, ones that have been proven over the years to be associated with wonderful health benefits. Here, you’ll learn about three “Golden Elixirs” – coconut oil, flax seed oil and pumpkin seed oil – from three parts of the world that burst with flavor and simultaneously, make us healthy.

It’s common knowledge that the hydrogenated oils in our American diet have not done us much good, health-wise. They have interfered with essential fat absorption, creating a cascade of inflammation in the body, and have been linked to asthma, heart disease, cancer, prostate issues, neurological disease, and decreased immune system function.

The high level of omega-6 fats to omega-3 fats in our oils has allowed our omega-6/omega-3 ratio to skyrocket 10 to 20:1 instead of the rejuvenating ratio of up to 5:1. It’s time to tip the balance towards health, and experimenting with new recipes and incorporating them into our diet is exactly what we need.

And why not? We love new stimulating and tantillizing dishes that can create a brand new experience in the culinary realm!

Coconut Oil Article

Flax Seed Oil Article

Pumpkin Seed Oil Article

You can learn more about cooking with these oils in the á la Oils DVD Series

Article Resources Flax Oil: The Good Fat - The Super Omega Plan for Feeling Great by Victor Contreras, M.D. Health Perspectives. Practical Insights into the World of Natural Healing. 2005 Barlean’s Organic Oils, L.L.C. www.Barleans.com

Pure Virgin Coconut Oil: The Smarter Fat That Helps Promote Weight Loss. www.mercola.com

Research by Dr. Mary Enig. Coconut: In Support of Good Health in the 21st Century. www.coconutoil.com

The Benefits of Coconut Oil by Dr. Raymond Peat. www.coconutoil.com

Virgin Coconut Oil and Diabetes. www.coconutoil.com

Mary Enig Ph.D. on the Effects of Coconut Oil on Serum Cholesterol Levels and HDL’s www.coconutoil.com

Omega-3 & Postpartum Depression (taken from Report 14, Keep Hope Alive). Health Perspectives, Practical Insights into the World of Natural Healing. 2005 Barlean’s Organic Oils, L.L.C. www.Barleans.com

Preventing Osteoporosis - When Calcium Gets Stored in All the Wrong Places: A New Approach to Preventing Osteoporosis with Organic Flax Seed Oil. Health Perspectives. Practical Insights into the World of Natural Healing. 2005 Barlean’s Organic Oils, L.L.C. www.Barleans.com

Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Children's's Behavior: Promising Evidence for a Nutritional Cure. Health Perspectives. Practical Insights into the World of Natural Healing. 2005 Barlean’s Organic Oils, L.L.C. www.Barleans.com

Flax Oil and Mood Disorders I. Health Perspectives. Practical Insights into the World of Natural Healing. 2005 Barlean’s Organic Oils, LLC. www.Barleans.com

Essential Fats. FAQ's. www.tropicaltraditions.com

Pumpkin Seed Oil. http://livesuperfoods.com

The Benefits of Pumpkin Seeds by Jason Earls. http://health.learninginfo.org

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Coconut Oil

When asked to think of a tropical setting, many people think about palm trees, sandy beaches, pina coladas, fresh coconut milk sipped straight from the coconut, and of course, happy islanders.

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