Health Benefits of Passion Fruit

I am excited to say we have tasted our first home-grown passionfruit this week - just in time before heading back to England for a couple of weeks.



I was very fortunate in that one of my Food as Medicine classes gave me a gift voucher at the end of their season of classes and so I bought some edible plants for our garden - including our passion fruit vine.


The vine has thrived and the fruits are just ripening now.  They fall off the plant, all round and solid looking but then you have to leave them at room temperature to wrinkle and ripen further.  They are larger than any passion fruit I have ever seen for sale.

Freshly picked on the left, and two day wrinkles on the right!

It was tricky waiting for the first one to wrinkle....but we did! Then I cut it in half one morning and put the seeds on my homemade granola.  So sweet and full of flavor.

We are just eating them 'as is'. No need to do anything at all with them - just enjoy them, full of exotic flavors.

However the biggest fan in our house has to be Harold, our parrot.  He just adores passion fruit.  I put the nearly empty half in his cage after I'd eaten most of it and left just a couple of seeds - oh, he was ecstatic!!! All you could hear were little crunches and happy noises from him!   We've left strict instructions with his pet sitters to give him treats of his passionfruit while we are away!



Unripe passionfruit
Passionfruit are basically just seeds with a gelatinous pulp coating.  This means that they are are great source of fiber - so don't strain them just for the juice - enjoy the crunch too.  Passion fruit also contain high levels of carotenoids - at least 13 different carotenoids - which are particularly good for our vision and skin.

They are also rich in vitamin C - an antioxidant - especially when freshly picked and the nutrients are at their peak level.   Surprisingly, they are also a good source of iron and have a somniferous properly, so if eaten before going to bed, help us relax and get a restful night's sleep.

No wonder Harold had a nap after breakfast!!!



I also love that its a winter/late fall fruit when most other things are all done with fruiting!  So get out there and grown a passion fruit - or buy some now from the farmers market or supermarket , while they are in season.



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Everything is tickety-boo

Lots of lovely things this week have made me feel that everything is tickety-boo:

Happy Birthday Chui!


  • A birthday for Chui and two friends this week! 
  • singing at the beautiful, moving, and touching British Legion service for Remembrance Day and Veterans day at Grace Cathedral.  Lots of bagpipes and then red poppy petals floating down from the ceiling of the cathedral as we sing Abide with me.  
  • buying Xmas presents ready to take back to England with me
  • meeting a friend for lunch
  • book club - discussing the sweet book "Mrs Queen takes the train"
  • a fun Food as Medicine class - the photo below is from our Tuesday group, just before we tucked into the fruit of our labors: Green Tea Buddha Bowl, pumpkin gnocchi with sage and cranberries, 'cream' of mushroom soup, followed by Rosehip truffles.
  • getting excited about our trip back to England
  • planting some new veggies in our garden ready
  • eating our first home grown passion fruit
  • continued sunny days
  • A sweet card from my sister
  • hearing about Batkid in SF - so heartwarming

I do hope you are feeling tickety-boo too.

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Everything is tickety-boo

Here is this week's list of things that made me feel like everything is tickety-boo:


  • I saw the movie About Time and so got to watch Bill Nighy for two hours!  I  love Bill Nighy- definitely something about him - but I also enjoyed the movie.  The conclusion of the movie is that everything is tickety-boo.  It is my perfect movie!
  • I bought a new coat and absolutely love it.  Really unusual.  Not really practical at all - its linen, not that warm, not waterproof - but just one of those items that you love :-D
  • the Northern California fall - we are still in the mid 70's in the afternoons, the rains haven't started, the vineyards are golden and red and brown and it is just gorgeous.  I'm making the most of it as next week I go back to England.
  • laughing at Harold, our pet parrot, who has had trouble adjusting to the clock time change this week.  His "cocktail hour" - when he gets a cashew nut everyday and we come in to be with him - is always at 5pm and he just didn't get why we were keeping him waiting an hour!  We've had a few noisy hours between 4 - 5pm this week but hopefully he is slowly adjusting!  His internal clock is just too good!!!!
  • Having a great final Food as Medicine class with lovely ladies.  We've been meeting for 9 months and its been wonderful to get to know them and see the amazing changes they have made.  I'll miss them - we've had a lovely time.  They are all inspiring.
  • having the neighbors round - albeit for a "water" meeting as we share the same well - but still, it was nice for us all to get together and catch up on more than our water system!
  • eating gnocchi for the first time and loving it
  • the smell of roasting quince and cloves permeating the house
  • eating the last of this years pears...they've lasted so well and are still so delicious.  Only one left..
  • enjoying a new truffle recipe - rosehip truffles.  

 I hope your week has been tickety-boo too.  Keep looking for those positives!

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Food as Medicine class - beans, legumes and lentils


We had a great class this morning, focusing on beans, legumes and lentils.  All wonderful sources of fiber - not to mention also great source of protein, molybdenum, B vitamins, calcium, anti-oxidants, folic acid...the list goes on.


Beans have many health benefits eg in heart disease for reducing homocysteine levels, stabilizing blood sugar levels, anti-inflammatory effects, and from the high fiber content, assisting elimination of excess hormones, cholesterol, toxins and carcinogens.

Coriander and coconut dahl with chickpea pancakes


We also discussed ways of cooking, soaking and how to reduce the gas-producing effect of beans by combining with certain spices and herbs or through the cooking and soaking techniques.

We cooked some yummy food too, including:

  • cannellini bean and basil dip
  • lentil and caper pate
  • coconut and coriander dahl served with chickpea pancakes
  • Moroccan bean stew
What a filling lunch that was! I don't think any went home hungry and we got our 35+g of fiber today, just in one meal!

Moroccan Bean Stew with black beans, garbanzo beans and lentils

And we restrained from the black bean brownies and not-so-dumb blondies this time!


Next time we will be focussing on fats, oils, essential fatty acids and the effects they have on our health.

Let me know if you are interested in attending a class.
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Book Review: Power foods for the brain

This week's book for my review is by Dr Neal Barnard and is entitled: Power Foods for the Brain: an effective 3-step plan to protect your mind and strengthen your memory.


The book is about how you can use foods to protect your brain and optimize its function and even reduce your risk of Alzheimer's disease, stroke, general cognitive decline,  and other less serious disorders such as low energy, poor sleep patterns, irritability and lack of focus.

Dr Neal Barnard is President of the Physician's Committee for Responsible Medicine, which is a non-profit organization involved in promoting preventive medicine and responsible research in medicine.

He has written many other books : Neal Barnard Amazon Book list, many of which I have read.  Power Food for the brain is his most recent, just out this year.

The book clearly takes you through a 3 step program to protect your brain:

Step 1 deals with what foods are "power foods" for your brain - which can shield you from toxic metals, which can protect you from harmful fats.  It also tells you which foods you should avoid.

Step 2 looks at how you can strengthen your brain through exercise - both cognitive exercises and also physical exercises.

Step 3 shows you tips on how to improve your memory while you sleep and goes over which medicines and health conditions affect memory.

A final section then helps you put all this into practice and includes some menus and recipes, written by Christine Walternyer and Jason Wyrick.

Dr Barnard has a great way of providing clear and easy to understand information, all based on plenty of scientific research. I've attended several of his lectures in the past and he is a great educator. This comes over in this book. As does his sense of humor.  His use of analogies really helps get the information across to the reader.

Dr Barnard advocates a plant-based diet and offers the evidence behind this - but also demonstrates the real power of good nutrition.

Here's a short video of Dr Barnard on the Ellen DeGeneres Show discussing Power Foods
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It shows you what an approachable guy Dr Barnard is. You'll find lots of other videos of his online - so have a search and learn more!

This is a great book. If you are beginning to notice some cognitive decline, get a copy and even if you don't do his whole program, you'll find lots of little tips for improvement.
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Thursday's Food as Medicine group - final class

Yesterday was the final class for my Thursday group.  10 months together.  I'll miss them.


We had  a lovely few hours - covered a lot of things and made some yummy healthy food together.  We ate a rainbow - with no added sugar, salt, or oil - and no dairy or gluten either. I'll share some of the recipes soon.

The photos are after we'd eaten most of the lunch together with only the sugar free chocolate mousse remaining.


Two new classes start in September.....so I only have one group continuing through the summer now.

Time to get planning some new things, I think.

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Food as medicine

It was our final Food as Medicine class today. The class has been going 10 months now.  Its been such fun.


Today, we discussed how to read food labels and what to look for, and then I offered them a system of assessing the food they eat each day, with a goal of getting 100 points a day.

Then we cooked together and on the menu was a pecan pate, bell pepper and tomato soup, dill and horseradish potato salad and chocolate mousse.  It all went down well, and a lovely and colorful, as well as tasty.



It was a lovely few hours - and I'll really miss the Tuesday class.  My Thursday class ends this week too, so the summer will be a little quieter.
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Forks over Knives

The feature film Forks over Knives was released two years ago this week. Have you seen it yet?  It is a very powerful film and seems to really get people thinking  - and subsequently changing their diet and lifestyle.

It examines the claim that most, if not all, of the chronic degenerative diseases can be controlled or even reversed by rejecting animal-based and processed foods.

If you haven't seen it already, here is a trailer:



You can watch the movie on iTunes ($9.99) or on Amazon($3.99), or if you are a Prime Amazon customer, it is free to watch.

I urge you to watch this film.  It can not only change your life, it could actually save your life - allowing you to live longer and healthier.
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Chia Fresca

I never thought I would, but I like chia fresca!

Never being one for tapioca because I always thought it looked like frog spawn, now here I am drinking frog-spawn-looking chia fresca!!


Chia fresca is a mexican drink - with lots of health benefits - mainly due to the chia seeds which are an excellent source of omega 3 fatty acids (more than flax and salmon), high in fiber (1 tablespoon has 5g fiber!), calcium ( 6 x that of milk), magnesium (15 x that in broccoli)....

Here is the recipe:
2 cups water
2 tablespoons chia seeds - I like to use the white ones in my drink
Juice of one or two lemons or limes, depending on your taste.

Directions:
Pour the water into a jug and add the chia seeds, whisking immediately.  Leave for 3 - 4  minutes and whisk again.  Leave for 10 minutes, whisk again and add the citrus juice.  The drink will thicken and become like a gel. Stir before drinking.








Don't say you can see the tadpoles starting to swim!!
Enjoy! If you can get over the look and unusual texture for a drink I'm sure you'll love it ;-D
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Brussels Slaw with hazelnuts and dates

I made a lovely coleslaw recipe last week - using brussels sprouts instead of cabbage.  It doesn't taste of brussels sprouts however - and my husband who doesn't like sprouts enjoyed it and then a couple of people in my food as medicine class who don't like sprouts also enjoyed it!


Yeah - a way to enjoy the healthy cruciferous vegetable Brussels Sprouts!

I used a mandoline to slice the sprouts - only slicing until you get to the more solid stalk part, then discarded the real white piece.



Here's the recipe, which I adapted from one at Feasting at home:

2 cups brussels sprouts (approx 1/2 lb)
1/2 cup roasted hazelnuts
1/2 cup pitted dates, chopped (approx 5 dates)
1/8 cup finely diced red onion
1/8 cup apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon coconut nectar or liquid sweetener
1/2 tablespoon walnut butter
Zest of one orange




  1. Finely slice the brussels, beginning at the top of each one and working down to the end, discarding the hard ends.  You can do this by hand or carefully with a mandolin! Place in a bowl.
  2. Slice the pitted dates and add to the brussels
  3. If not roasted, roast the hazelnuts in a dry pan for a few minutes.  Rub off the skins by placing the nuts in a tea towel and rubbing them together.  Place the roasted nuts in a ziploc bag and crush lightly with a rolling pin or back of a spoon.  Add to the brussels, along with the chopped onion and half the zest.
  4. In a separate small bowl, whisk the vinegar, coconut nectar and walnut butter and pour over the slaw. Mix well.  
  5. Serve in a bowl/plate, garnished with the remaining zest.
The zest of the orange seems to bring all the flavors together in harmony. I first tried it without, but it is far better with it.


It lasts a couple of days in the fridge - if you can stop eating it!

Let me know if you give it a try.  And yes, the correct term is Brussels Sprout - the S goes on the Brussels. They may have originated in Brussels, Belgium, but it is not certain.
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Chilled Pea and mint soup

It's hot here! In the 90's so I've been trying a few new chilled soups.

Here's a particularly "green" one!  Chilled Pea and Mint Soup. The color is quite shocking don't you think?


Made with fresh English peas and mint from the garden.

Did you know mint is a good antacid, so helps with digestion (and relieves flatulence!)? Try chewing on a leaf after your meal.  It also helps with morning sickness.


I had a bowl of the soup with some of my almond and flax flatbread.  Yum!

Did you know that mint has a square stem?  Other plant families have square stems, but not many...and not all plants in the mint family have square stems - but it is still a useful family "trait"! Other herbs and plants in the same family include basil, bee balm, catmint, chia seeds, lavender, lemon balm, oregano, rosemary, sage, savory and thyme!  It seems like a diverse group of herbs/plants rather than a family,  but if you look at their flowers and how their leaves are arranged, you can see the similarities. 

Tomorrow in my food as medicine class we are making two other chilled soups so I'll see if I remember my camera and take some snaps to show you. 

Are you keeping cool or do you live somewhere where you need to still keep warm?
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Hemp Butter

I made some homemade hemp butter this week.



I used the little container that comes with my immersion blender and just blended the hemp seeds in that.  I've used the same process to make nut butters.  After a while, it didn't seem to be creaming into butter, so I added just a few cashews and that got it all going.

I like it.  It's not too grassy in taste.  I say that because I tried making hemp milk the other week and it just tasted really green and grassy. I didn't like it at all. But the butter is quite tasty and a good texture.


So - its a simple recipe - bunch of hemp seeds. Whizz and if it doesn't cream, add just a few cashew nuts!

Hemp seeds are a great source of both omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids in a perfect ratio.
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Sugar-free Strawberry balsamic chia jam

I'm so excited with my new jam recipe!  For a few years now, I've been wanting to make jam without refined sugar and have tried it before with pectins to set the fruit, but its never been very successful.

Now however, I have a solution! As I've been preparing for my Food as Medicine class on fatty acids, I've been using chia seeds more and realized that I could use their gelling capacity to "set" the jam. So forget the pectin and use chia seeds instead.



It is so quick and easy to make, is high in fiber, high in essential fatty acids, you don't need the sugar, and just delicious.

Here's the recipe:

3 cups of sliced fresh strawberries
1 tbsp coconut nectar
1 1/2 tbsp chia seeds
1/2 teaspoon balsamic vinegar

In a medium saucepan, bring the fruit and coconut nectar to a low boil.  Reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
Use a potato masher to mash the fruit, but leaving a few pieces larger for texture.
Stir in the chia seeds and keep simmering over low heat, until it thickens (approx 15 minutes). Stir occasionally so it doesn't stick.
When thickened, remove from the heat and add balsamic vinegar and stir.  Taste and pour into a jam jar. Refrigerate and use within 2 weeks.

The balsamic vinegar really brings out the flavor of strawberries. If you use a different fruit you could add spices instead or vanilla extract.  If you use a less sweet fruit, you may need a little more coconut nectar, but wait until the end and taste it before you adjust.


You may be able to keep this jam longer than 2 weeks, but I haven't been able to, as its always eaten within a week!

I use it on toast (especially with homemade nutella), but also love a spoonful on my cereal in the morning. You could also try it on oatmeal, muesli, granola, cookies, on puddings, dairy-free ice cream.....Once you try it, you'll find lots of ways of using it.



You know I'm going to be using this idea in lots of different ways.

Chia seeds are an excellent source of the essential fatty acids - both omega 3 and omega 6, with a higher level of 3 compared to 6.
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Crispy Gluten free Flatbread


I made a lovely new flatbread recipe yesterday - with almond flour and flax seed.  I was so pleased with how it came out and the recipe yielded enough to freeze half of it.


I topped it with a pesto sauce with no added oil, some fresh tomatoes, red onion, red pepper and black cumin seeds!  The pesto was made with pumpkin seeds, cilantro, hemp seeds, lime and as I didn't have any spinach, I used some green lettuce!


It was so tasty.  I'll be using this recipe in my Food as Medicine classes next week, so will share it with you after that.



The flatbread is good as a dipping bread too - I can see this being a popular repeat recipe, at least in this household!  Wonder what I'll use as topping next time????
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Chia Rhubarb Ginger Muffin Tops

Rhubarb is one of my favorite fruits  vegetables. Yes, it is officially a vegetable, but  I still think of it as a fruit.  I've been looking for it for the past month, but it seems later than I remember this year. Anyhow - I found some this week and so had to make something with it!


I made some chia rhubarb and ginger muffin tops.  Gluten free, dairy free, refined sugar free.  The chia seeds add some great omega-3 fats to the muffin too.  You'll be seeing more chia, flax and hemp recipes and posts here, as my Food as Medicine classes next week are all about essential fatty acids.



I made these gluten free, using a GF oat flour, but you could easily substitute for a whole grain flour with gluten, such as spelt or wheat or.....  They will probably rise a little more with a flour with gluten too, so if you try them, send me a photo.

Here is the recipe: Chia Rhubarb Ginger Muffin Tops

Ingredients:
3 tbsp chia seeds
1/4 cup water
1 1/2 cups GF oat flour (or whole grain flour)
1/2 cup GF rolled oats
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 cup coconut nectar
2 tbsp coconut oil
1/2 cup orange juice
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/4 cup finely chopped rhubarb (approx 2 - 3 stalks)
1/3 cup raisins (or other dried fruit)
Optional - seeds or nuts or oats to sprinkle for topping



  1. Mix the chia seeds with the water in a jug and set aside while you prepare all the other ingredients
  2. Preheat oven to 350F. Line a muffin tin with liners or spray with coconut oil spray
  3. In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda and spices and mix.
  4. In a smaller separate bowl, combine the oil, coconut nectar, orange juice and vanilla extract.  Add the thickened chia seed mix and whisk until smooth.
  5. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until just combined. Add the rhubarb and raisins and stir thoroughly.
  6. Spoon the batter into 12 muffin cups. If using, sprinkle the topping on each muffin. Bake for 25 - 30 minutes until springy to the touch.  Cool.



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Spring Pesto

I made a no-added-oil pesto this week to garnish a parsnip and cauliflower soup.  I felt the pesto acknowledged that it was now spring and lifted the more wintery flavors of the soup into this early April time.


But then I finished the soup and still had some parsley and spinach left, so made some more pesto and found different ways to use it!...... as a dip, on a sandwich, as a dressing, ...

Here's the recipe:

Ingredients:
1 cup baby organic spinach
1/2 cup fresh chives
1/2 cup (packed) flat leaf parsley
1/4 cup slivered almonds
1/4 cup water
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

Combine all the ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth. If necessary, add more water to achieve the consistency you desire. You may have to stop the processor a couple of times to scrape down the sides so that everything is combined.



Enjoy it on a variety of different dishes! The photo above shows it on a sunflower cracker with sun-dried tomatoes, cucumber and black cumin! A tasty lunch.

You won't miss the oil at all!  The taste of the parsley and lemon just excite the taste buds too much to want oil!

Parsley is an excellent source of vitamins A, C and K. It is rich in antioxidant flavonoids and is a good source of folic acid.  Chives are a member of the allium family and are anti-inflammatory, antibiotic and antiviral.  They also contain quercetin which helps reduce histamine and so helps with hay fever and seasonal allergies.

Whip yourself up a dose of healthy green pesto and put a spring in your step this spring time! Your body will love you for it.
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Goldenmilk - improved

Today I made Goldenmilk again, ready for my Food As Medicine classes this week on "healing spices".  I used almond milk instead of the not-so-tasty flax milk that I tried last time and today,  it was good!


It looks as yellow as the daffodils!

Here is the recipe:
2 cups of non dairy milk
3/4 teaspoon turmeric
2 whole black peppercorns
1/4 teaspoon group cardamom
1/4 teaspoon fresh ginger, grated
Pinch of saffron, optional.

Add all the ingredients into a saucepan and bring to the boil.  Lower the heat and simmer for 5 minutes.  Strain into a mug and enjoy.

It is a great drink to have before bedtime if you are having trouble sleeping.  With the turmeric in it, it is also anti-inflammatory.  The ginger helps settle the stomach, along with the cardamom which is anti-spasmodic to the gut.  Perfect as a "retiring" drink before settling down for the night.

I didn't add the saffron - but if are suffer from depression, you may want to consider it as some studies show saffron to be as effective as prozac, against depression.

Let me know if you like it - and I'll let you know what my classes think!  I found it soothing actually.  Not sweet, not bitter.
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Goldenberry Raw Chocolate

My friend came over yesterday to make some raw chocolate. She decided on goldenberries with pink peppercorns. There was a nice tartness to the berries with the piquancy of the pink peppercorns.


She also chose a pretty white flower to decorate one side of the chocolate. It is made from a sheet of cacao butter in the design of the flower.  When you spread the melted chocolate to the sheet it melts into the cacao butter design and as it hardens, the design stays on the chocolate.



Doesn't it look pretty.  Perfect for spring.

I made some more lemon chocolate for this weekend - with birds as a transfer. More of that later.  And if you look carefully at the bottom corner of this photo below, you will see a trial corner of an unusual flavor I want to include in my spice class next week, for food as medicine.  It's the little black dots....Any guesses what it is?  It goes well with chocolate, surprisingly!

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Golden Milk

I tried making non dairy golden milk today.  Golden milk helps you sleep - I made it at lunch time so we'll see if I nod off this afternoon! And it also helps with pain and inflammation, boosting the immune system..and many other things that turmeric is attributed too.


It is basically a non dairy milk mixed with turmeric.  Various recipes either leave it like that or add a combination of other spices. I added ginger, cardamon, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg.

I made some flaxseed milk to use. I've made it a couple of times before and wasn't a great fan, but Ithought I'd try it again with this, as the spices are reasonable strong.

However, you can still taste that 'flaxiness'...which is a little off-putting.  I think a nut milk would have been better, or soy milk. As I heated it, it seemed that the flax milk separated a little, which isn't so appealing to the eye!

So, the outcome is that its a good idea - but mine didn't actually turn out that great!  Here are a couple of recipes for you to try:

Golden Milk Version 1
1 tbsp fresh minced ginger
1 tsp turmeric powder or 1 tbs fresh, minced
1/4 cup water
1/2 tsp ground cardamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 cups non dairy milk
Sweetener - amount to your taste

Combine the first three ingredients and bring to a boil. Removed from the heat and let steep for 10 minutes.

While steeping, add the other spices to the milk and bring to the boil. Simmer for about 5 minutes.  Add the turmeric mixture and simmer for another 5 minutes.
Strain and add sweetener of your choice.


Golden Milk Version 2 - this recipe came from Yum Universe
2 cups of non dairy milk
3/4 teaspoon turmeric
2 whole black peppercorns
1/4 tsp ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon fresh ginger
Pinch of saffron, optional

Add all the ingredients into a saucepan and bring to the boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Strain and enjoy.

I'll try it again tomorrow with a nut milk instead. Let me know if you give it a go.  I love the spice combination, just chose the wrong milk!
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Health benefits of Chai Tea

Chai tea has many wonderful healing spices in it.  However frequently when you buy it, it includes dairy products and refined sugar.  Instead you can make your own and tailor it to your own tastes.  My own taste is that I don't like tea, so I make mine without green or black tea.  But there is still plenty of flavor in it as I include 7 different spices in my recipe - plus orange peel.

(Sorry - I forgot about photographing it and nearly drank it all!)


The spices have powerful healing capacities, not just by being antioxidants and anti-inflammatories, but also because they can switch off the Cancer Master Switch in the cells, namely the nuclear factor kappa beta (NFkB).

The spices in this recipe which have this activity are:

  • black peppercorns
  • cardomom
  • cloves
  • cinnamon
  • anise
  • nutmeg
  • and ginger

When free radicals, infections, or agents that damage DNA (eg carcinogens, toxins, etc) enter the body, they are all capable of activating NFkB which is a molecule inside the cell. On activation, NFkB increases inflammation and inhibits cancer cell death.  While pharmaceutical companies are busy looking for drugs to turn off NFkB, we need look no further than spices as many of them have this NFkB switching off capacity.

And Chai tea is an easy way to get 7 spices all in one drink.

Here is a recipe that originally came from Jeanne Wallace
Chai Tea

4 cups water
1 teaspoon cardamom pods – green
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
1 teaspoon whole cloves or 3/4 teaspoon ground cloves
2 teaspoon cinnamon chips
1 teaspoon dried orange peel or 4 teaspoons orange zest
2 whole star anise
1 teaspoon nutmeg chips or 2 whole nutmegs
2 teaspoon minced fresh ginger or 1 tablespoon dried ginger pieces
½ vanilla bean, chopped fine or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teabags or 4 tablespoons green or black tea leaves (TEA is optional!)
Coconut nectar or other unrefined sweetener to taste (optional)
Non dairy milk

Make the spice mix: bring water to boil, add spices but NOT tea, if using.  Reduce heat and simmer on low for 20 minutes or longer for a spicier flavor.  Remove from the heat. Add tea and steep for 3 minutes.  Strain into a pitcher or container.  Keeps refrigerated for up to 10 days.
To make one cup of chai, combine ½ cup of non dairy milk with ½ cup of the spice mixture.  Heat and add sweetner to your taste.  Can be served iced in the summer.



Let me know how you tailor it to your particular taste.
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Kiwi Guacomole

For last week's "Food as Medicine" group, we were focusing on fruit and one of the recipes we made was Kiwi Guacomole.  Adding a kiwi to the guacomole reduces the fat density of the guacamole and also adds other nutrients - especially Vitamin C as kiwis as high in Vitamin C.


Another benefit of adding the kiwi - aside from nutrition, and taste, is that the Vitamin C from the kiwi stops the avocado going brown.  I had some for three days and it was still green with no brown at all.  The Vitamin C was acting as an antioxidant to the guacamole.  Seems like we should eat it and get those benefits in us!

So here's the recipe.  Adding 2 kiwis makes not as firm as regular guacomole so if you like it firmer, just add one.


Ingredients:
1 avocado, pitted, peeled and diced
2 kiwi fruits, peeled and halved
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 chopped onion
1 medium tomato halved
1/2 cilantro leaves

Place all the ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend briefly just on the lowest speed.  You don't want to liquidize it, so just go slow. Alternatively, you can do more cutting of the ingredients and then just mash them up the in a bowl, using a potato masher or pastry blender.

You can also add white beans to this, to thicken it, or garden peas.  I often add other veggies - all of which reduce the fat density and make for a healthier guacamole.
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Eating a variety of fruit


One of the four food groups in a plant based whole foods diet is fruit (the others are vegetables, legumes and grains).  Fruit was the focus for our first meeting today with a new Food as Medicine group.


We spoke about the different phytonutrients in different fruits - from flavonoids, bioflavenoids, antioxidant activity, lycopene, carotenoids, anthocyanins etc and fiber, minerals, vitamins etc.   Then we cooked together to create a fruit based lunch. Here was the menu:

  • kiwi guacomole - adding two kiwi to one avocado gives a good boost in Vitamin C to the mix and also reduces the fat density
  • goldenberry chutney - this is a great tart chutney that you can use as a dip or spread or condiment.  Dried goldenberries are mixed with onion, jalapeno pepper, ginger etc to make a vibrant chutney
  • pear soup - made with sweet potatoes and pears, this is a great source of pectin fiber and carotenoids
  • rainbow salad with strawberry dressing - red lettuce with blueberries, cherries, blood oranges and the dressing of strawberries and vinegar
  • quinoa and goji berry salad - with spices of cinnamon, turmeric, cumin, cilantro....
  • raspberry crunch to go - a layered dessert (or breakfast) in a small pot with lid, made from buckwheat, raspberries, raspberry cream (made from raspberry flour and cashew nuts) and then a crunchy nut topping.

My favorites are the goldenberry chutney and the raspberry crunch.


We definitely all ate a rainbow in one meal!  Did you eat a rainbow today - ie fruits and vegetables from all colors of the rainbow? As I drove to the class, I even saw a rainbow. How fitting!
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Whole Grains Nutrition and Cooking Class

I'm back from vacation.  Had a lovely time.  Quite different - no roads or cars, only burros and boats - so that meant for lots of walking!


Tomorrow and Thursday I'm back at my Food as Medicine groups, with this week focusing on the health benefits of Whole Grains.  We are going to be cooking up some yummy food including:


  • my prize winning marmalade granola 
  • goji berry oatcakes
  • popped amaranth bread
  • supergreen quinoa salad
  • middle eastern oat groats, and
  • birdseed burgers (aka millet burgers!)


I am then taking the groups on a tour of Whole Foods to learn about reading food labels and the best food brands to buy.

Sounds like a busy and fun time!  I'll let you know how it goes and try to remember to take my camera!
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An apple a day...... (Part 1)

....keeps the doctor away.


  • In an analysis of more than 85 studies, apple consumption was shown to be consistently associated with a reduced risk of heart disease, cancer, asthma and type 2 diabetes, compared to other fruits.  In one of the studies, Finnish researchers followed more than 5,000 men and women for more than 20 years.  Those who ate the most apples and other flavonoid rich foods such as onions, were found to have a 20% lower risk of heart disease than those who ate the smallest amount of these foods.

Harold enjoying his "lady" apple!

  • Apples are rich in a soluble fibre known as pectin, which has been shown to exert a number of beneficial effects.  Because it is a gel-forming fiber, pectin can lower cholesterol levels as well as improve the intestinal muscle's ability to push waste through the gastrointestinal tract.

One medium unpeeled apple contains 3 g of fiber. Even without its peel it contains 2.7g of fiber.

Just adding one large apple to the daily diet has been shown to decrease serum cholesterol by 8 - 11 % Two apples a day has been shown to lower your cholesterol by 16%.




  • Apples also contain malic and tartaric acids, which improve digestion and the breakdown of fats - so combining an apple with fattier food like apple sauce with pork, or apple slices with cheese, not only tastes good but helps the body deal with the fat intake.


  • Apples are helpful in the relief of the pain of gout, rheumatism and arthritis - and also help you feel better the morning after too much drinking!

An apple on our tree last year was "picked" by one of the tendrils of the grape vines!


  • They are great to eat if you have diarrhea and are one of the 4 components of the BRAT diet used for diarrhea or food poisoning - with BRAT standing for Bananas, Rice, Apples and Toast.

  • Apples are also a good source of Vitamin C and potassium.  Most of the apple's important nutrients are contained in its skin - so eating them raw and with their skin is best. 



They are a wonderful substitute in cooking and baking for oils.  In my salad dressings I replace oil with unsweetened organic apple sauce and in my baking, I frequently use applesauce to replace the oil.  Not only do I benefit from no oil, but I also benefit from eating the apple!

We have several apple trees (- an old proverb says " if you can plant only one tree in your garden, make it an apple tree")  and too many to eat when they are all ripe. So I dehydrate them.  I often leave the skin on, slice them and don't feel the need to use lemon juice. The idea is that we can then enjoy them year round but this year I think we had eaten them all by Christmas - and we had a lot!  Dried apples are a lovely snack....and you can now buy freeze dried apples which have a lovely crunch.

Have you had your apple today?
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Food as Medicine - Pomegranates - Part 3

Have you been out and bought your frozen pomegranate seeds yet or your pomegranate juice or dried seeds?  In the past couple of Food as Medicine posts, I've spoken about pomegranate looking hopeful for use with prostate cancer, and also some dental problems.


Studies show that pomegranate can also help to prevent and reverse atherosclerosis.  One study looked at the carotid artery and found that the group of men drinking pomegranate juice for a year had a 30% decrease in arterial plaque, while those not drinking the juice had a 9% increase.

Doctors in UCSF studied patients with heart disease. Nearly half had suffered heart attacks, most had high blood pressure and nearly all had high cholesterol levels. They were all taking several drugs, including statins, blood thinners and blood pressure medications.  For three months, one group drank 8oz pomegranate juice a day, and the others drank a placebo.  After three months, the group drinking pomegranate juice had a 17% increase in blood flow to the heart while the placebo had a 18% DECREASE.

UCSF researchers also found that episodes of angina decreased 50% in the pomegranate juice drinking group, while increasing 38% in the placebo group.

Pomegranate seems to protect cardiovascular health by augmenting nitric oxide, which supports the functions of endothelial cells that line the arterial walls.  Nitric oxide signals vascular smooth muscle to relax, which increases blood flow through arteries and veins.  Nitric oxide also reduces injury to the vessel walls, which helps prevent the development of atherosclerosis.

These studies definitely look interesting - but as always, please remember that not one thing does it all. If you eat a bad diet and just add pomegranate juice to that, you are not going to get healthy.
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Food as Medicine - Pomegranates - Prostate Cancer - Part 2

Following on from Monday's blog post about pomegranates, today we will look at the effects of pomegranates on prostate cancer.  It's exciting stuff, especially as the last 5 years have seen a great increase in research showing how pomegranates can fight the disease.


Initial animal studies in Germany and the US showed that pomegranate extracts can stop prostate cancer cells from growing and then killed the cells, and also prevented prostate cancer from growing and spreading.

Following on from this, researchers in UCLA gave 8 oz of pomegranate juice a day to men with prostate cancer who had been treated with either radiation or surgery, but still had rising PSA (prostate-specific antigen) levels - a biomarker of tumor growth. The study lasted 2 years.

Before treatment, the average PSA doubling time was 15 months.  (Doubling time is how long it takes to for say a PSA of 2 to get to a PSA of 4).  After treatment, the doubling time was 54 months - considerably slower.  85% of patients given the juice responded.

Other tests showed a 12% decrease in growth of cancer cells, a 17% increase in death of cancer cells.

The results suggest that drinking pomegranate juice may be a non-toxic option in slowing prostate carcinogenesis and preventing it.  However, these studies are only preliminary and not large scale (upto Phase II).  We'll have to wait for further studies to see if drinking pomegranate juice alters the course of prostate cancer overall so that men live longer or better.  Phase III trials are currently in progress and some are recruiting.


Further studies are now also being conducted looking at the effect of pomegranate on other types of cancer, including breast, colon, lung, skin, leukemia and more.

References:

Pomegranate Ellagitanins, Heber D. In Herbal Medicine: Biomolecular and Clinical Aspects, 2nd Edition 2011.  

Specific pomegranate juice components as potential inhibitors of prostate cancer metastasis. Wang L. Ho J, Glackin C, Martins-Green M. Transl Oncol. 2012; 5(5): 344-55


For further references, check PubMed - searching for pomegranate and prostate cancer or pomegranate and cancer
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Food as medicine - Pomegranates - Part 1

Pomegranates are still in season but they are coming to an end.  Buy them while you can, as they are such a wonderful health food.

Their many benefits are too extensive for one blog post, so I'll cover them in a few.


The whole plant seems to practically burst with disease-fighting antioxidants called polyphenols - from the seed, pulp, skin, root, flower and even the bark of the tree.  In fact, pomegranate seed extracts and juice have two to three times the anti-oxidant activity of red wine and green tea.

And while lots of foods have high levels of polyphenols, what makes pomegranates such superstars is that they are a top source of several varieties of polyphenols, namely flavenoids, anthocyanins, ellagic acid, punicic acid and many others.  Hundreds of scientific studies confirm these polyphenols can prevent and treat a variety of diseases, including heart disease, cancer and stroke.  This ties in to the pomegranate being known as "a pharmacy unto itself" in Ayurvedic medicine.


There are several ways to get your pomegranate!

  • You can find fresh whole pomegranates from October - February, and use the seeds - arils
  • You can purchase the seeds frozen throughout the year
  • You can drink pomegranate juice 
  • You can buy dried seeds which are called ANARDANA - they can be used dried or soaked in water before use to plump them up
  • You can buy  pomegranate "spice" which is ground up dried seeds, again called ground anardana
  • You can buy pomegranate molasses

Anardana is used a lot in India - both whole and ground in curries, chutneys and as fillings for savory snacks such as pakoras and in flatbreads like parathas.


Pomegranate molasses is popular in the Middle East.  It is made by crushing the seeds into juice and cooking it until it reaches an almost black, thick molasses-like texture.  The molasses have a berry like taste with a citrus tang.  I discovered pomegranate molasses about 9 years ago and love it. If you haven't tried it before, make this your new food of the week. I frequently use it to make a salad dressing, or drizzle it on a savory or sweet dish. I also use it instead of sugar in baking - but it is thick so you have to chose recipes carefully!

Walnut and pomegranate roulade drizzled with pomegranate molasses
(sugar free, gluten free, no added oil)

I sprinkle pomegranate seeds on my oat muesli every morning....in fact, I'm getting worried about my supply running dry as its now February and the season is coming to a close. I guess I'll be using frozen pomegranate seeds instead.

A couple of quick snippets:
DENTAL 

  • researchers found that rinsing the mouth with pomegranate extract reduced bacteria-causing dental plaque 84% MORE than commercial mouthwash
  • researchers in Thailand treated gum disease (periodontal disease) with pomegranate extract and found it decreased gum erosion and plaque
  • a pomegranate formula was found to clear up denture stomatitis, a fungal infection in people wearing dentures.


I'll tell you about other specific health benefits in the next few posts, including pomegranates effects on

  • atheroschlerosis, 
  • diabetes 
  • prostate cancer
  • aging
In the meantime, try to think of ways you can add pomegranate to your diet EVERY day.....on cereal/oatmeal for breakfast, sprinkled on a salad for lunch, drizzled on a whole grain meal for dinner ...

What is your favorite pomegranate dish?

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Middle Eastern Oat Groats

I'm in love with this new dish, made from whole oat kernels, also known as oat groats or oat berries.


It is full of yummy ingredients and flavors including:

  • whole oat groats (GF)
  • pomegranate seeds
  • pistachios
  • walnuts
  • pine nuts
  • fennel seeds
  • citrus zest
  • coconut
It's one of those dishes where you make enough to last you a few days and then add different things to it each time you eat to.


My latest addition was my mandarinquats from the garden, with some kale, also from the garden and drizzled with pomegranate molasses!


Pomegranates are so beautiful  - just like jewels. I think they make most dishes look beautiful.


This is a great healthy dish, full of fiber and nutrients with no added oil.  Have you tried cooking with whole oat kernels before?
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Health Benefits of Oats

Oats are now quite famous for their health benefits and have grown in popularity.


Unlike other grains, although oats are hulled, this process does not strip away their bran and germ which allows them to remain a concentrated source of fiber and nutrients.  Different types of processing techniques are used to produce different oat products.

  • oat groats - this week I've been trying recipes using whole kernel oats - also called oat groats or oat berries.  They look similar to a grain of brown rice (see photo below).
  • steel cut oats - produced by running oat groats through steel blades to slice them , creating a denser chewier texture.
  • old fashioned rolled oats - these oats are steamed and then rolled to have a flatter shape.
  • quick cook oats - similar to old fashioned but these are steamed and then cut finely and then rolled.
  • instant oatmeal - these oats are partially cooked rather than just steamed and then rolled very thinly.  Often salt, sugar or other ingredients is added.
  • oat bran - the outer layer of the grain.
  • oat flour - made from the hulled oats.
Oat groats/oat berries
Oats are a very good source of the minerals manganese, selenium, and phosphorus. They are also a good source of magnesium and iron and heart protective polyunsaturated fats.  Oats have more than three times as much magnesium as calcium and are a good source of vitamin B1 and soluble dietary fiber.

Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free Rolled Oats

Oat bran's dietary fiber is high in beta-glucans, which helps to lower cholesterol by binding bile acids and removing them from the body via feces.  In individuals with high cholesterol (above 220mg/dl) the consumption of 3 grams of soluble oat fiber per day (1 bowl for breakfast) typically lowers total cholesterol by 8 - 23 %.  This is highly significant as with every 1 percent drop in cholesterol, there is a 2 percent decrease in the risk of developing heart disease.  


The polyunsaturated fats in oats actually contribute as much to its cholesterol lowering effects as the fiber does.

Oats also have beneficial effects on blood sugar as well so are a good food for diabetics to consume.

Oats are also good for the skin.  Four tablespoons tied into a muslin bag, soaked in the bath and used as a sponge are healing and soothing for dry skin, eczema and psoriasis.  This amount is enough for 4 or 5 baths.  You can also buy oat based creams and ointments for topical applications.


There are many different ways to prepare oats.  Yesterday I shared my recipe for oatcakes made from rolled oats. Last week, I shared my prize winning marmalade granola recipe with you.  I also frequently make a simple muesli from :

2 cups of old fashioned oats, 
4 tablespoons of ground flaxseed, 
handful of raisins.  
Mix the ingredients together in an air tight container and use 1/2 cup per serving, with non-dairy milk or yoghurt and fruit and nuts.


I'll be sharing some recipes using whole kernel oats soon.  If you do have celiac disease or gluten intolerance, make sure you purchase gluten free oats. 
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Food as Medicine group

We had two great mornings in our food as medicine groups this week - focusing on the health benefits of legumes, beans and lentils.


Here is the Tuesday group, as we sat down for a 4 course lunch together, eating what they had cooked together.


The menu was:

  • Lentil and caper pate with lentil chips
  • White bean pesto with poppadoms
  • Sugar snap pea and blood orange salad
  • Moroccan Bean stew (using black beans, garbanzo beans and red lentils)
  • Not-so-dumb blondies (using cannellini beans)
  • Mandarinquat brownies (using black beans)
Most of us don't get enough fiber in our diets and beans are a wonderful was to increase our fiber intake.  I love using the "Eden Foods" brands of cooked beans in my cooking, as they are cooked with kombu - a sea vegetable that helps to break down the oligosaccharides in beans, which is the part that causes gas.  Soaking your beans helps too - along with good rinsing - as the oligosaccharide is water soluble. Gas shouldn't be your reason for not eating beans! There are many ways to avoid it.


Beans help with :
  • stabilizing gut transit time - not too fast so that nutrients can't be absorbed and not too slow so toxins can't be reabsorbed
  • heart health, 
  • are an EXCELLENT source of anti-oxidants (more than blueberries), 
  • help maintain a healthy gut flora
  • high in folic acid and B6
  • are a good protein source
  • high in iron, magnesium and calcium
  • a good source of molybdenum
  • stabilizing blood sugar levels
  • eliminating toxins, carcinogens and excess hormones
  • producing butyrate from your gut bacteria which heals and protects the lining of the large investine.
So go eat some beans today!  
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Food as Medicine Group - Beans

My two "Food as Medicine" classes this week are focusing on the health benefits of beans/legumes/lentils.

Here are a couple of photos of two of the dessert items we will be making together.


I'll share some of the recipes later.  Both of these are gluten free, dairy free, and refined sugar free.

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A pocketful of pecans

Harvesting continues....since October we've gone from grapes, to figs, to persimmons.....sort of missed the guavas when we were away....to olives and today, to a pocketful of pecans.


Yes, our pecan tree is still small so we both picked a pocketful. There were 17 in all!

Yeah. 17 pecans!  They now "cure" - i.e. dry - for 2 weeks before we open them up and see the goodies inside.


And did you know...pecans are the most nutritious nut with amazing antioxidant content.  I always thought walnuts were healthier than pecans...hmmm....our little tree better get growing! 

Check out this little video from nutritionfacts.org and see if you know how to rank nuts.



"What's next to harvest?", I hear you ask.... Citrus. Our citrus harvest is in mid flow...more on that another day.
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Food as Medicine Group

In my "food as medicine" groups this week - Tuesday and Thursday - we discussed the effects of sugar in our diet, sugar substitutions, insulin resistance, diabetes, glycemic index, glycemic load etc.

(Gluten free, dairy free, refined sugar free, grain free) walnut roulade with pomegranates
For the cooking part of the class we learned how to bake desserts with low glycemic load foods, for those special occasions when we have treats.  Even when desserts are made healthier, they are still foods you shouldn't eat every day...but when an occasion arises, it's nice to eat something that is made from nutritious food.

The groups made some delicious food including a walnut and pomegranate roulade, a cranberry and pear tart, choux puffs and individual citrus and chocolate cakes.  They looked so beautiful too.

(Gluten free, dairy free, egg free, refined sugar free) Cranberry and Pear Tart

They were good sessions and people seemed to enjoyed the end result!  I wonder what they'll make again at home for Christmas and friends and family.

(Fat free, gluten free, refined sugar free, dairy free) Individual Citrus Cake

All the dishes were gluten free, dairy free and refined sugar free.  In addition,
  • the walnut roulade had no flour in it - only walnuts 
  • the cranberry tart also had no flour, and used almonds and walnuts instead, it used flaxseeds as an alternative to eggs, and used dates as its sweetener
  • the citrus cake used oat flour and replaced fat with applesauce
  • the choux buns used sorghum flour and coconut milk for their cream

Which one would you chose?
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Neal Barnard on Diabetes

Here is the latest talk, published this month, from Neal Barnard on Type 2 Diabetes and how is it curable. Recorded at the TED Talks in Fremont.

This research has been available for some time now, yet so many are still ignoring it.  Hopefully this talk will help share the information to those who need it.  I ran a Food as Medicine group yesterday - and another tomorrow which was all on this subject.  More people need to know.


If you are interested, read his great book :Reversing Diabetes  and check out the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine website for more information.  They lead an online 21 day vegan kick start program - in many different languages.

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Truly Scrumptious - Hazelnuts

My "truly scrumptious" delight this week was a humble hazelnut.  I was cooking with some and one got away and I ate it - just raw.  Gosh - the taste was fabulous.  I rarely eat hazelnuts just as they are - but that will change now.


My first revelation about hazelnuts came when I was lucky enough to go to the French Laundry for dinner one night.  One of the courses they served had three raw hazelnuts on the plate.  When I ate one, I couldn't believe how wonderful it tasted.  I figured they must have an incredible secret place where they source them, as I'd never tasted such a fresh, flavorsome hazelnut...but then, there in my kitchen this week was another one!


Pure delight!  Go out and buy some raw hazelnuts and give them a try.  They are so delicious.  I think too often we get old rancid or salted/roasted hazelnuts and it masks their delicate flavor.  It's got to be the tastiest nut out there!


Hazelnuts are rich in unsaturated fats - which are shown to lower LDL and raise HDL.  They are also high in magnesium, manganese, Vitamin E, and B Vitamins.

You will be seeing more hazelnuts in my future!

What was the most truly scrumptious food you ate this past week?
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Strawberry and pink peppercorn raw chocolate

I've been making raw chocolate today.  Yes, chocolate that has health benefits and is refined sugar free, dairy free and gluten free!

The recipe needs a little tweaking still, but the taste is wonderful.  I don't think reworking the recipe will be too much of a hardship!



You may recall at the gluten free, dairy free, refined sugar free dessert class I taught a couple of months ago, I did dried strawberry and pink peppercorn cookies. I just love the combination so tried that as one of my raw chocolate flavors.

It is yummy. I used coconut nectar as the sweetener and it didn't combine completely with the chocolate so I'll try reducing it a little next time....maybe tomorrow!


I love this new mold I bought in England. It make a perfect sized bite...4cm x 2.5 cm. And the chocolate tempered well, with a lovely glossy sheen.

I'm hoping the recipe will be good for my Food as Medicine classes next week.....

Watch out - strawberry and pink peppercorn will be a flavor combination popping up everywhere soon. Remember you heard it here first! :-D

What's your favorite flavor?
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Getting the most benefit from your cruciferous vegetables

The cruciferous family of vegetables are unique among vegetables because of their glucosinolate content.  Glucosinolates give cruciferous vegetables their characteristic spicy or bitter tastes.


When the plant cell walls of the cruciferous vegetables are broken by blending, chopping, or chewing, an enzyme called myrosinase converts glucosinolates to isothiocyanates (ITCs) - which are the compounds in cruciferous vegetables with potent anti-cancer and other healing effects.  Such effects include anti-inflammatory, anti-angiogenic, detoxification, preventions of DNA damage, promotion of programmed cell death, anti-etrogenic activity, etc.


What this means is that cruciferous vegetables must be chopped, crushed or chewed well for maximum benefit so that the myrosinase enzyme can cause the chemical reaction. The myrosinase enzyme is physically separated from the glucosinolates in the intact vegetables, but when the plant cell walls are broken, the chemical reaction can occur and ITCs can be formed.  The more you chop or chew, the better.


However, these enzymes heat sensitive.  This doesn't mean that we should only eat cruciferous vegetables raw, but that when we are cooking these vegetables, we should chop them up in advance, and leave them for 5 - 10 minutes before cooking them, to allow the enzymes to act before they are destroyed by the heat.

So when you cook with cruciferous vegetables, chop them well, and then leave them for at least 5 minutes - go and set the table or something - and only then, start cooking them, so the enzyme has time to work before being denatured by the heat.


Cruciferous vegetables include:

  • arugula
  • bok choy
  • broccoli
  • brussels sprouts
  • cabbage
  • cauliflower
  • chinese cabbage
  • collard greens
  • cress
  • daikon radish
  • horseradish
  • kale
  • kohlrabi
  • mustard greens
  • radish
  • rutabaga
  • homegrown sprouts
  • turnip
  • watercress

Remember: When eating raw - chew well to release the myrosinase.  When cooking, chop, wait, then cook.

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New food of the week - fresh turmeric

I've posted about turmeric before and all it's wonderful health benefits. However, I've always used just the ground turmeric you buy in little spice bottles.


Our local Whole Foods now has fresh turmeric, so I thought I'd try that for my new food of the week this week.

It's a rhizome, like ginger but it looks a little grub-like when you see it - and not terribly appetizing....Anyhow, I scraped off the outer layer with a spoon (also the best way to remove the "skin" from ginger) and grated some on my salad, using a microplane.


I often sprinkle the dried ground spice on salads as it has so many health benefits so thought this would be a good test, without cooking it.

A couple of points to note. The smell as you grate it is divine.  So pungent. Makes you just want to eat it right away.


The vibrant orange color is gorgeous - but also quite persistent...says she typing with orange finger tips and a microplane that is now stained orange in the center!!!

But the taste is wonderful.  As a spice used in many curries, it doesn't remind me of curry flavors in it's fresh form.  Just interesting flavors that change the longer it is in your mouth.  It opens up many more uses to me - I can see myself adding it to cookies, creating a buzz like the little pink peppercorn cookies did.....

It is such a powerful anti-inflammatory and anti-metastatic agent - especially if eaten with pepper.  Interestingly enough, I was recently reading about a curcumin supplement (which is a compound in turmeric)  that had higher absorption rates than regular curcumin supplements which as normally very low. I wanted to find out what they had done to increase it's absorption.  The secret was that they included more of the other compounds in turmeric in the formulation i.e. they made it more like the whole food instead of an isolate!  Seems a perfect result that suggests that you eat the whole food and forget the supplement!

But don't go overboard with your consumption.  Your maximum intake should be 1 tsp a day because turmeric has high levels of oxalates in it, which can increase your risk of painful kidney stones.

Did you try a new food this week?
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Healing Trees

As I mentioned last week, I am participating in the Ceres Cancer Journey event this Sunday in Santa Rosa.

I will be in the resource room, and for some of the time, I will be doing a short cooking demo.

I will be making these little "healing trees", a recipe that I developed myself.


They are made with green tea, almonds, dates, ginger, and lemon. I'll post the recipe here next week after the demo.

The healing qualities of these bite-size morsels include:  the green tea has excellent anti-cancer  properties and is high in anti-oxidants;  the ginger and dates both help to settle the stomach and calm digestive issues;  the lemon is a great source of anti-oxidants, vitamins and minerals; and the almonds are a good source of easily digestible fiber, vitamins and minerals.

AND the cute shape of the trees lifts your spirits!



I hope if you are in the area that you will call by for the event and hear some wonderful speakers and experience nurturing, love and good food.

If you attend, do come and find me in the resource room.

Ceres Cancer Journey Event
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Harvest and Food as medicine

It's been a busy week this week.  As well as many of my usual things, I started two new "Food as Medicine" groups this week, AND we harvested our Godello grapes in the vineyard! More on the harvest soon.


The two new "Food as Medicine" groups were on Tuesday and Thursday. Each group consists of 9 women, and we will meet once a month.  This month we looked at some of the benefits of eating a whole foods plant-based diet, with a focus on the benefits of avoiding dairy in our diets.

After some time in discussion, we donned our aprons in the kitchen and went about making and tasting the following:

  • almond milk
  • brown rice milk
  • oat milk
  • cashew cream
  • whipped coconut cream
  • soft cashew cheese
  • cheese sprinkles
  • cheese cake
all without any dairy or animal products in sight!


Sadly we were so involved, I forgot to take any photos!  

The recipes for the milks are already on this blog, as is the recipe for the cashew nut cheese.

The cheese sprinkles were a great hit.  They are a non-dairy alternative to parmesan cheese or other types of cheese that you may sprinkle on caesar salad, vegetables, or pasta or....  The recipe came from the book "Let them eat vegan" and here is a link to the vegan parmesan cheese recipe by Dreena Burton.


The cheesecake went down very well, so I'll have to make that again and take some photos to share with you.

I really enjoyed our time together, and hope they all did too.  Looking forward to next month already.
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Health benefits of flax seeds

Here's a short video from nutritionfacts.org about adding more flax into your life (!) and its benefits: from extending your menstrual cycle, to being a great source of omega 3 fatty acids, to reducing breast cancer risk,  to controlling prostate enlargement......

I often use them as a substitute for eggs - 1 tablespoon of ground flax seed with 3 tablespoons of water is the equivalent to one egg. Leave the mixture for a few minutes until it goes gooey, then use it in place of  eggs in baking.



It's best to eat flaxseeds ground. If you eat them whole, they will likely just pass through your system.  Store them in an air tight container to reduce oxidation of the oils and try adding them to your cereal and baked goods.  Also, see last week's blog post of making flaxseed milk!

What's your favorite way to incorporate flaxseeds into your diet?
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Invalid Fruit Tart

It's all in a name! Invalid Fruit Tart! Does it make you want a slice?  Somehow, I think psychologically, it's not going to make you feel better if you aren't well!

Courtesy of the BBC Great British Bake Off

This tart creation comes from the archives at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh from the 1950's.  The recipe - one of 24 in the archives - was designed with the health of patients in mind.   This was in the time when the first dietician was appointed in the UK and these recipes were created in the context of the growing importance of the role food could play in health - both preventing illness in the first place and helping patients to recover.


Here's the recipe:


Ingredients:
1 large apple
1 piece of stale sponge
142ml milk
1 egg, separated
1/4 oz granulated sugar
1/2 oz castor sugar
Water

Wipe, peel, core and slice the apple and place in a pan with a dessertspoonful of sugar and a little cold water. Stew the apples until pulped.
Beat the egg yolk with a teaspoon of sugar and add the milk.
Place the stewed apples in a pie dish and cover with strips of sponge cake.  
Pour the custard (egg and sugar mix) over the sponge and bake in a cool oven until slightly set.  
Fold the castor sugar into a stiffly beaten egg white and heap onto the pudding. Dredge with sugar and cook slowly until slightly brown. 

I love the idea of cooking something in a "cool oven"!!!  Does that mean you don't have to switch it on?

It does sound like it probably tastes pretty good - apples and sponge, custard and meringue.....but I never think reading "stale" anything as an ingredient is very appetizing!  I'm sure it was soft to eat and good comfort food....but maybe nowadays, for "health" benefits, we'd have to make a couple of adjustments!

If you are feeling ill today- maybe you'll give it a try????!!!  Feel better soon....

This recipe was featured on this week's Great British Bake Off on BBC in the UK.  I'm so excited because I got to watch it! My sister told me about it and thought I'd enjoy the program so I got a VPN (virtual personal network) that I've been resisting for a while, and can now watch the BBC here in the US :-D
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Health benefits of cilantro

We have so much cilantro growing and the plants are beginning to bolt so I cut a lot of it today and made a big bowl of pesto from it.

The good thing about cooking with cilantro is that the stems have the same taste as the leaves, so when you have a lot, you don't have to worry about pulling off all the leaves from the stems - just use the whole lot.


I made up my own pesto recipe, using walnuts, cilantro, olive oil, a little lemon juice and some water.

Gosh it tastes so vibrant. The way I eat it most is as a dip or spread for crackers.  When you make a large quantity as I have, you can freeze it in little muffin molds then pull one or two out as you need.

There are many so health benefits of cilantro, that it'll make you want to make some pesto too. Here they are:

  • powerful anti-inflammatory effects that may help symptoms of arthritis
  • protective against bacterial infection from salmonella in food products
  • increases HDL cholesterol and reduces LDL cholesterol
  • relief of stomach gas and a digestive aid
  • wards off urinary infections
  • helps reduce feelings of nausea
  • eases hormonal mood swings associated with menstruation and reduces cramping
  • good source of fiber for the digestive tract
  • gives relief from diarrhea
  • helps promote healthy liver function
  • reduces minor swelling
  • good antioxidant properties
  • disinfects and helps detoxify the body - especially good as a chelating agent to remove heavy metals, such as mercury
  • helps with insulin secretion and lowers blood sugar
  • acts as a natural antiseptic and anti fungal agent for skin disorders like fungal infections and eczema
  • boosts the immune system
  • acts as an expectorant
  • helps ease conjunctivitis, as well as eye-aging, macular degeneration and other stressors on the eyes
  • good source of minerals potassium, calcium, manganese, iron and magnesium
  • rich in vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, folic acid, riboflavin, niacin, beat carotene

Phew - after reading all that, I should be planting some more so the next batch is ready in a few weeks!

What's your favorite recipe for cilantro (or coriander as we call it in England)?
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Health benefits of ginger

I am a big ginger root fan.  I just love the taste of it - warming and a little spicy.  I could add it to most things - sweet or savory - and frequently do.

It has many health benefits, as well as tasting yummy.  Here are some highlights:

Photo by FotoosVanRobin

  • Anti-inflammatory - ginger is a powerful anti-inflammatory that helps reduce both pain and inflammation. In a study published in the Journal of Pain, arthritic patients were given small amounts of ginger daily for three months. The majority of patients had significant improvement in pain, swelling and morning stiffness by eating ginger daily.  In another study, ginger was found to be superior to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) such as Tylenol or Advil because NSAIDS only work on one pathway in the body.  Ginger, on the other hand, blocks the formation of the inflammatory compounds prostaglandins and leukotrienes and also has anti-oxidant effects (greater than Vit E) that break down existing inflammation and acidity in the body within the joints. 
  • Digestion - ginger balances COX-1 - an enzyme responsible for the gastric mucosal integrity, and is an antispasmodic. Thus is very effective for gastrointestinal disturbances, alleviating nausea, travel sickness, indigestion, IBS, loss of appetite, heartburn, bloating, ulcers etc.   I remember my sister always used to have ginger biscuits in the car when her boys were younger and whenever they felt a little car sick, they had a ginger biscuit and felt better. Similarly, my mother-in-law always used to eat a chocolate covered piece of ginger after dinner every night to help her digestion.  
Photo by Huffiz

..... and more.  The range and severity of conditions that ginger can help is stunning - and the research continues.


Here are a couple of ways to use ginger:
Ginger Tea:  Peel a 1 inch cube of ginger (the easiest way to peel it is to use a spoon, rather than a knife).  Slice it thinly or grate it.  Boil in 1 and 1/2 cups of water for about 10 minutes.  Add lemon/lime and/or stevia/honey, as desired.  Pour into a cup, relax and enjoy. More beneficial than ginger tea bags.

Ginger soak for aching muscles: Grate 4 teaspoons of ginger and seal it in a cotton/muslin bag.  Place the bag under running bathwater and then soak in the bath so as long as you want!

Ginger Glycerite: 1/4lb fresh ginger.  Chop the ginger roughly and place it in a food processor.  Add 1 cup food grade vegetable glycerin and process until the ginger is nearly incorporated into the liquid. Place mixture in a pint canning jar, mark with the day's date and leave on the counter for two weeks, shaking the jar every other day or so.  After two weeks, strain the mixture through muslin or cheesecloth and squeeze out as much of the liquid as possible. Discard the ginger.  The glycerite will now keep for 6 months.   Mix the glycerite with water, sparkling water, tea, or use as desired.

Grate or chop and use in soups, smoothies, salad dressings, marinades, yoghurts, and just about anything else!

What's your favorite ginger recipe?  How will you get your next healthy dose of ginger?
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Healing foods - garlic, onion, chives, leeks, shallots

Photo by janscheffner
Garlic, onions, chives, leeks and shallots all belong to the alliaceous family of plants - alliums.  Garlic is recognized as one of the oldest medicinal herbs (prescribed on Sumerian tablets from 3000 BC). Louis Pasteur observed its antibacterial properties in 1858 and during World War I, garlic was widely used in bandages to prevent infections.  Russian soldiers in WWII used it when there was a shortage of antibiotics and it garnered the name "Russian penicillin".

The alliums are great foods for cancer prevention and halting cancer growth.

The organosulphur compounds in this family of plants are seen to prevent the development of cancer by detoxifying nitrosamines and N-nitroso compounds, which are created from over-grilling meat and during tobacco consumption.


They promote apoptosis (cell death) in colon, breast, lung and prostate cancer, as well as in leukemia and also block angiogenesis (- the formation of blood vessels needed to provide nutrients to the cancer tumor).

Epidemiological studies suggest a reduction in kidney and prostate cancer in people who consume the most garlic.

Photo by Sensinct
Moreover, all the plants in this family help to regulate blood sugar levels which in turn, reduces insulin secretion and Insulin-like growth factor, and thus reduces the growth of cancer cells.

Onions also contain high concentrations of health-promoting flavonoid antioxidants, predominantly quercitin, and red onions also contain at least 25 different anthocyanins. Quercetin slows tumor development, suppresses growth and proliferation and induces cell death in colon cancer cells.  Flavonoids also have anti-inflammatory effects that may contribute to cancer prevention.


Photo by tallpines

Active molecules of garlic are released when a garlic clove is crushed and are more easily assimilated if they are dissolved in a little oil.

Try and include an alliaceous food every day, for example chopped garlic and onions mixed with steamed vegetables, or raw onion or chives on a salad or in a sandwich.

What's your favorite way to eat a food from the allium family?  Is it:

?

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Food as Medicine - Turmeric

Turmeric is a rhizome plant of the ginger family.  The rhizomes (roots) are boiled for several hours, then dried and ground to produce a bright yellow powder.  This powder is the principal spice in Indian, Persian and Thai curries.  It is also one of the most common ingredients used in ayruvedic medicine for its anti-inflammatory properties. No other food ingredient has such a powerful anti-inflammatory effect.


The principle molecule responsible for this effect is Curcumin.  In laboratory studies, in addition to its general antiinflammatory effect, curcumin also inhibits growth in a large number of cancers including colon, prostate, lung, liver, stomach, breast, ovarian, brain and leukemia.

At the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, scientists have studied turmeric as they would any new pharmaceutical.  While there were some skeptics that such positive lab results came from a "food", progress has continued and several clinical trials  looking at turmeric as a means to prevent and treat cancer are currently under way.

But before you go out and eat a teaspoon full of turmeric (beware - it's spicy!), this food also illustrates the benefits of culinary traditions in comparison to the consumption of isolated substances.  It has been found that turmeric ingested alone, or in capsules, is very poorly absorbed by the digestive tract. But when it is mixed with black pepper - as it always is in a curry - this increases it's absorption by 2,000 percent!

Recommended usage*:

  • mix 1/4 teaspoon of turmeric with 1/2 teaspoon of olive oil and a generous pinch of black pepper.  Add to soups or salad dressings or pour over cooked vegetables.  If the taste is a little bitter, try adding a few drops of agave nectar too.  
  • sprinkle turmeric and freshly ground pepper on/in hummus or other dips
*This should not be construed as medical advice. 
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