Sunday, September 27, 2009

Flax Seed vs. Fish Oil

What a fine mess! At the same time health authorities recommend Americans eat more fish with Omega 3 they also warn fish are jam-packed with unsafe pollutants.

Recall in the early 80s when studies showed the Inuit’s had low rates of heart disease despite their high-fat blubber diet rich in oily fish? Turns out the omega 3 fatty acids in the fish protected their hearts. After all, they had no gardens.

However, the reality echoing from the halls of the EPA and FDA states ALL of earth’s sacred rivers, lakes, streams, estuaries, mangroves, swamps and oceans are so contaminated that fish are saturated with hundreds of cancerous, innutritious, chemical substances not preordained to enter the blessed human vessel. Factory Fish Farms are the nastiest with the highest levels of antibiotics and PCB from farm run-off; not the way God planned it. Plus they’re fed questionable by-products from chemical-happy Factory Farm beef slaughterhouses. How charming.

Since farmed fish are not allowed to consume their heavenly designed diet, they’re nutritionally insolvent and even fed orange dye-pills for the fish to appear normal. As a result, omega 3 sought from fish is AWOL due to the insanely irresponsible un-holy diet man thrust upon the captive aquatic critters. Clearly, we’ve miserably failed obeying the heavenly directive to be responsible stewards of Gods creations. The laws of the universe have been tweaked for our consumerist convenience. Where then does one get clean, pure, life-saving Omega-3’s?

With increased popularity of plant-based diets and fears about mercury and PCBs in seafood, people often ask me about flax for their daily dose of Omega 3’s. Fairly significant considering Omega 3’s defend against the accumulation of a protein linked to Alzheimer's disease; decrease HDL and increase LDL cholesterol plus lower pesky triglycerides. Omegas 3’s also act as an anticoagulant preventing blood clotting. Now you know why they’re called ‘essential’.

Three thousand years ago in Babylon, flax fiber was cultivated for clothing. Then in 650 BC, Hippocrates wrote about using flax for the relief of abdominal pain. About the same era, Theophrastus recommended flax mucilage as a cough remedy. During the 8th Century, Charlemagne considered flax so important for the health of his subjects he passed laws and regulations requiring its consumption. He’d be proud our rediscovered interest in this fibrous, healing ancient grain.

Ground, not whole flax seed, provides more nutritional benefits than whole seed. Flax seeds are extremely hard and durable, making them difficult to crack even with chewing. Grind up the shiny brown seeds in small batches in a coffee grinder to unleash the ancient golden Omega oil. Upon ingestion, your digestive system cannot break them down and when excreted then planted, would grow. Once ground, the seeds quickly lose their oomph, so process and refrigerate the ground seeds in an airtight container and store un-ground seeds in the refrigerator for up to 3 months. Need more colon cleansing fiber? Add ground flax seed to literally any dish. It disappears, is not crunchy and I guarantee it will get your bowels a’ moving.

Men, more is not better. We should all avoid ingesting too much flax oil pills until more is known about excessive flax intakes potential link with prostate cancer. Too much of anything is bad, so don’t let this restrain you. Other sources of omega 3’s include green leafy vegetables, soy and tofu, almonds, walnuts, pine nuts and fortified eggs. However, eggs come with a blast of cholesterol which seems counter intuitive.

Health is all about variety, balance and a good dose of nutritional literacy. Bon appetite!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Shiitake Mushrooms

The Mushrooming Popularity of Fungi
Published September 24th, 2009

For thousands of years, the shiitake has been coveted as the premium edible mushroom in Asia, and now America is becoming uber-hip to this fungal bequest of the universe.

The Japanese word shiitake means “mushrooms from the shii tree.” Consciously or unconsciously, most everyone has eaten one when plowing through steaming white cartons of Asian carry-out. Don’t call them shiitake mushroom, however, as that would be redundant. To be accurate, simply refer to the ethereal specialty as shiitake.

Pronounced “shih-TAH-kee,” the distinctive woodsy flavor and firm, meaty texture are a mouth-watering addition to any recipe. The ancient Chinese have been using shiitakes as medicine for thousands of years and believe the shiitake dispelled hunger, treated colds and nourished the circulatory system. The Egyptians considered mushrooms the sons of gods sent to earth riding thunderbolts.

For hundreds of years, Germans have used this mushroom to rev up immune function, reduce inflammation, combat allergies and help balance sugar levels and support the Holy Temple’s detoxification mechanisms.Fungi absorb their nutrients from their surrounding environment. Shiitake has no chlorophyll so they cannot make food from sunlight but must live by eating plants or animals. It is the shiitake’s medicinal possibilities that are receiving the worldwide spotlight.

Over the last two decades, scientists have isolated substances from shiitake that may play a role in the cure and prevention of heart disease, cancer, viruses, bacteria and AIDS.
Shiitakes are brimming with potassium, manganese, iron, copper, niacin and vitamins C, B1, B2, D, A and E, plus they possess essential amino acids, just as meat does. Four average size shiitakes also contain around 10.3 g carbohydrates, 1.5 g fiber, 1.12 g protein, 40 calories and a whooping 17.8 mcg of cancer-preventing selenium.
Meaty shiitakes are outstanding food. As a family, discover the earthy, ambrosial flavor and healing mojo of the ancient shiitake.
Sautéed Shiitake Serves 4 as a side of wild mushrooms or 6-8 as a delicious topping over steamed vegetables, chicken or turkey.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Greens & Pasta: Nutritional Powerhouse

Pasta with Greens: A Nutritional Powerhouse
Makes 4 servings
Video included:

Greens are one of the healthiest vegetables on God’s green earth. Why we don’t eat more of them is a mystery. Dark green leafy vegetables are the most concentrated source of nutrition of any food.
Clearly, if Americans would have been swayed to eat more greens as they grew up, there would be a mere fraction of the disease we experience today.
They are a rich source of iron, calcium, potassium, and magnesium and vitamins K, C, E, and many of the B vitamins. Greens provide an assortment of phytonutrients including beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin, which protect our cells from damage and our eyes from age-related problems. Dark green leaves even contain small amounts of Omega-3 fats.
Vitamin K:
  • Regulates blood clotting

  • Helps protect bones from osteoporosis

  • May help prevent and possibly even reduce atherosclerosis by reducing calcium in arterial plaques.H

  • Helps prevent diabetes

This dish is quick, easy, nutritious, deliciously, economical and works with all sorts greens. (Except Al Green)

Hint: Use the same pot of water to blanch the greens before boiling the pasta and then cooking the whole dish in the pot.

1 bunch cooking greens (chard, collard greens, turnip greens, spinach)
1 tbs. sea salt plus to taste
Black pepper to taste
1 lb. whole grain / bean spaghetti or linguini
4 cloves minced garlic
2 tbs. olive oil
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 tbs. ground flax seeds
3/4 cups freshly shredded grating cheese such as parmesan, soy or Romano

-Bring a large pot of water to a boil
-Meanwhile, trim and wash greens, leaving the leaves whole
-Add 1 Tbsp. salt to boiling water. Add greens and blanch 30 seconds until wilted
-Use tongs or a slotted spoon to remove the leaves to a colander
-In the same water, boil pasta until tender to the bite
-Drain, reserved 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid, and set aside
-Meanwhile, chop garlic and cooked greens
-Once pasta is drained, return pot to medium high heat. Add oil, garlic, pepper flakes. Cook, stirring, until garlic turns just the tiniest bit golden
-Add chopped greens and flax; stir to combine
-Add reserved liquid and bring to a boil.
-Add pasta, stir to combine and bring to a boil
-Take off heat. Stir in half of the shredded cheese
-Taste and add salt and pepper to taste
-Divide between plates or pasta bowls, garnish with remaining shredded cheese and serve.

Monday, September 14, 2009

About Apples

Forbidden Fruit My Butt

Apparently Eve had a devil of a time tempting Adam to eat fruits and vegetables.
When you think about it, the first commandment was Eve telling Adam, “Eat this apple or else!”

In ancient Greek and Roman mythology, crunchy apples symbolized love and beauty. Rumor has it Cleopatra placed an apple in Caesar’s chariot lunch box before he went into battle. When ancient Romans conquered England they brought apple cultivation with them. Apple trees were grown and prized for their fruit by the people of ancient Roman and it is believed they took cultivated apples with them into England as they conquered and made applesauce out of the country.

In 1629, John Endicott, one of the early governors of Massachusetts Bay Colony, brought the seeds and trees to America. Johnny ‘Apple Seed’ Chapman encourage apple growing as he carried apple seeds with him wherever he wandered, planting trees in thinly settled parts of the country, mostly for whiskey and strong liquor.

The nineteen pounds of vitamin-rich apples each American consumes annually are 80 to 85 percent kidney-flushing water. ‘Arrrrr Matey’, if you ever get scurvy they’re a most valuable cure since apples contain vitamin C. Orchards of studies confirm a diet containing plenty of apples reduces blood cholesterol levels. Eating two or three apples a day engages complex and beneficial physiological processes in the task of reducing blood cholesterol. The curiously ‘Forbidden Fruit’ fosters healthy lungs, prevents heart disease and stroke, assists weight loss, dental health and the reduction of serum cholesterol in the arteries. French researchers indicate apples make vitamin C more available in blood and organs, helping vitamin C from another source go farther.

The National Cancer Institute reports foods containing antioxidants found in apples reduce risk of lung cancer by as much as 50%. Mayo Clinic indicates the Quercetin abundant in apples helps prevent the growth of prostate cancer cells. Phytochemicals in apple skin inhibited the reproduction of colon cancer cells by 43%. Apple hide contains about 4 milligrams of Quercetin, an antioxidant which prevents oxygen molecules from damaging individual cells, which leads to cancer.

Bob on this: If you think peeling apples will get rid of the pesticides you’re correct, but you’re peeling away heavenly nutrients. Enjoy organic and locally grown apples in their original, cosmic packaging.

Apples contain 78 grams of pectin per 100 grams of edible fruit, ranking them fourth among the twenty-four common fruits and vegetables tested. Remember, this only applies when one leaves on the skin. Pectin’s are soluble fibers present in most fruits and veggies. Pectin reduces the amount of cholesterol produced by the liver, slows digestion, and the rise of blood sugar, making it ideal for diabetics.

Choose a variety which browns easily such as a Granny Smith. Genetically modified apples will not turn brown; a bummer sign they don’t contain what we’ve just discussed. In addition, I encourage you to avoid grocery store, processed apple juice and don’t substitute apple juice for the real fruit. Sugar-laden apple juice contains none of the beneficial compounds of potassium, C, quertecin and fiber. Make sure the orchard washes, sanitizes and filters the juice to prevent food-borne illness such as E. coli or salmonella from animal residue.

For a wholesome tasty foodgasm, when you whip up the next batch of Steele cut oatmeal for breakfast; simmer the porridge in apple cider, cinnamon and top with walnuts. You can also follow Eve’s decree by making a fruit smoothie with freshly squeezed apple nectar as your liquid medium.