Eating fresh herbs daily

A couple of days ago, my photo for my #100happydays was of some chives growing in our garden. I love my herb garden.  It is right by my kitchen, so it is easy to nip out there and pull off a few leaves of something or other.

I eat fresh herbs daily and so was interested in some reading I was doing for my studies which was comparing different government food recommendations in different countries.  I was looking at the the New Nordic diet NND which is a gastronomically driven, regional, organic and environmentally friendly diet from Denmark.

The NND was developed by a collaboration led by Rene Redzepi from the world-leading Copenhagen restaurant NOMA.  NOMA held the title of "best restaurant in the world" for 3 years. Shortly after opening NOMA, Rene held a conference with other chefs in Denmark and they collaborated with the University of Copenhagen to create a healthy diet, showcased in the local restaurants that could also be easily used for home cooking.



The NND is based on regional foods in season, with a strong emphasis on palatability, healthiness, and sustainability, while staying in tune with regional food culture and dietary habits.


The basis of the diet is comprised of the following food groups:
  • fruit and vegetables - especially berries, cabbages, root vegetables and legumes
  • potatoes
  • fresh herbs
  • plants and mushrooms gathered/foraged from the wild
  • nuts
  • whole grains
  • meats from livestock and game
  • fish and shellfish
  • seaweed
The majority of foods are organically grown and of Nordic origin.

Yes - they include "fresh herbs" as a food group.  I don't believe any other government dietary requirements mentions herbs at all.

Herbs have lots of different effects on the body - with each having their own little "niche" of health benefits, for example oregano has antibacterial and anti fungal effects, thyme and rosemary are both good antioxidant and anti-inflammatory, mint helps with digestion,  and basil helps with pain, reduces cholesterol, etc.  So using a variety of fresh herbs as part of your daily diet brings lots of benefits - never mind the flavors they impart.

The research on NND shows that eating this style of eating leads to great health improvements and weight loss, with people eating the food ad libitum - i.e. freely.  The OPUS project is continuing research on the diet.  More information on OPUS and the NND are in these links, including their research with school children.

I have to confess, there is another reason why the NND piqued my interest!  I am going to Copenhagen in May for my husband's birthday celebration.  A couple of weeks ago, I stayed up one night until nearly 2am, and I managed to get a reservation to eat at NOMA while we are there. I am so excited.  I can't wait to eat at such a creative restaurant. They employ two full time "foragers" who go out and forage for the food every day.  Apparently, if a restaurant in Denmark doesn't employ a forager, its not really a "proper" restaurant!!!!!  I love the idea.


So in the meantime, I will continue to eat my home-foraged (!!) herbs daily, until I go to Copenhagen and eat Rene's amazing creations!  

Do you grow fresh herbs? Its something easy we can all do - even if you don't have a garden.  It not only makes food tasty but is good for your health.

Watch this space….you know you'll be hearing more about NOMA and Rene (who is definitely a Great Dane!) and the NND.
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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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Stress happens

We can't eliminate all the stress in our lives - it just isn't possible - and actually, having a little stress in our lives is good for us.  Research on "hormesis" shows that the body responds well to mild stressful situations.  However what we need to do, instead of trying to banish stress, is accept that there will be stress in our lives and develop better coping skills to deal with it.  Skills you can call on everyday.


Most of these skills involve some mind-body connection, cultivating mindfulness and learning to pay attention to the present moment and not dwelling on the past.

Below you will see "The tree of comtemplative practices" which offers suggestions on different types of things you can do to reduce stress.  We are all different.  For some of us, using stillness and meditation will work.  For others, that is never relaxing, so maybe dance or aikido, getting moving, would help.

Maybe music and singing is your way of relaxing, or doing volunteer work and taking your mind off your own problems.

http://www.contemplativemind.org/practices/tree

But don't wait until you are crumbling under stress before you consider what you need to do - find something now that can help you cope with stress.  Choose whatever resonants and feels right for you, and then practice it every day.   If necessary, you may need to find someone to guide you and teach you how to do it effectively.  Before you are in crisis is the time to do that.  But the practice is key too.  Even if you only do your chosen method for a couple of minutes a day, the repetition will really help.

Your body will love you for it - it will change from being under the activation of the sympathetic nervous system - the fight and flight mode - to the autonomic nervous system (ANS).  When we are under the control of the ANS, that's when the body can work at healing itself and restoring.

Start practicing (practising) a contemplative practice!
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Don't let one cloud obliterate the whole sky

 
"Don’t let one cloud obliterate the whole sky."  ~Anais Nin
You know that feeling when you look up to the sky and its clear and that perfect wonderful blue?  What is it about the blue that just shines through our bodies?  Just picture it now in your head and you can feel its effects just through your imagination.


And now think about a sky with a couple of whispy little clouds dotted around....you know that blue sky is still there, and to be honest, sometimes those clouds add a little interest to the picture - if they are small and whispy.



And now think about a cloudy day where the blue is obliterated with clouds.  But the blue sky is still there, it's just hidden for now.  It will show its face again.


Its such a lovely analogy from Anais Nin about how our problems can overwhelm us and we lose sight of the good things in our lives. We end up spending all our time looking at the clouds and not seeing or even imaging the blue sky behind it.

Its along the same lines as one of my favorite sayings that I try to live my life by:
"you get more of what you focus on".  
I don't know who said it originally, but I find it to be so true. If you focus on the negative, you see more negative. Your mind gets tuned to seeing bad things. But if you focus on the positive, you see more positives in all areas of your life.

For example, think of a person who annoys you.  If you only think about those annoying features, you are just seeing the cloud.  Look for the sky in the person instead.  Put the cloud out of your vision - the sky is big enough for you to do that. There are enough good qualities in that person to find and when you start looking for them, you'll find more.


Or what about if you are struggling with problems in your life.  Think about those whispy clouds in your life.  They are all part of life - they add texture to your life, even if they don't seem good - but you don't have to dwell on them.  Look for the sky.


Look for that bit of blue - enough blue to make a sailor's shirt! Do you know that phrase? I can picture my mum in the car, looking for the 'sailor's shirt' - that bit of blue sky -  as we are driving somewhere for the day!  The "sailor's shirt" is enough blue in the sky to be adequate fabric needed to make a sailor's shirt.  If there is enough blue to make a sailor's shirt, the weather is going to clear.

So look for the sailor's shirt in your life - find that all important bit of blue - and if you can't find it some days, just imagine it and it'll come into view.
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Red cabbage or Pink cabbage

We harvested our first red cabbage this week!  Look what a pretty cabbage it is.  But it's definitely a pink cabbage, not a red cabbage.  Who ever named them red cabbages?  Pretty, pretty pink! Or is it purple? or Magenta? Or Fuchsia? Or violet? or.....



I made a coleslaw, of course - as we eat a lot of coleslaw in this household.



Along with the "pink" cabbage there are:

  • spring onions/scallions
  • sugar snap peas
  • raisins
  • carrots
and a dijon mustard  fat free dressing.

It was delicious as well as colorful!



Today  I used the coleslaw in coleslaw tacos, topped with hemp seeds.  


So what color was the last "red" cabbage you ate? Red? Pink? Purple?

Cabbage is a cruciferous vegetable, and the red/pink color shows its full of anthocyanins, which are anti-oxidants and also anti-inflammatory. Cabbage also has anti-cancer activity, but it's consuming a variety of vegetables that has the most health benefits....as shown in this video:




So don't forget to eat a rainbow a day
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Take time to smell the flowers on Friday

It's time for my new Friday blog post series - where I make time to go out into the garden and photograph the pretty flowers!

Today, this rose caught my eye.  It looks like it has been hand painted.


As small buds, just the tips have a dot of deep pink on them.....

And as they open out, the paintbrush adds a little more color.


Isn't it just stunning!  We bought it just a couple of years ago - and its a wonderful addition to our many roses.


I hope you had a little moment this week to stop and smell the roses...or other flowers.  Remember, lifestyle is important. Not just diet.  Spending time in nature is a wonderful calming and relaxing distraction to everything else going on in our day.
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Moroccan carrot dip

We have new friends coming around tonight for nibbles, and then we are all going out to dinner together.  I was hoping I had some basil to make the white bean basil dip, but didn't ...so I made a moroccan carrot dip instead, which I haven't done in a while.



I'm serving it with poppadoms and also slices of apple.

The dip is very simple, and so creamy.  You wouldn't think with carrots as the main ingredient that it would be thick and creamy.  Thanks go to the addition of a few cashew nuts: 1 cup carrots to 1/3 cup cashews. Put everything in the Vitamix and blend.  Carrots, cashews, cinnamon, coriander, cumin,.....gosh its a C-dip!!  Also has some vinegar, fennel seeds and ginger. Oh - and of course my sprinkle of black cumin seeds on top!  They get everywhere nowadays!


Deeeee-lish!
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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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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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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 - 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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Talk on Wednesday in Sonoma

If you are around on Wednesday and affiliated to St Andrews church in Sonoma, come along to hear my talk. Starts at 9.30am with some yummy food samples too.


TIPS FOR A LIFESTYLE OF HEALTHY LIVING 


THIS MONTH'S
FEATURED SPEAKER
ST. ANDREW WOMEN'S FELLOWSHIP is excited to invite all women to a very special meeting on Wednesday, January 9th which begins at 9:30 AM and will be held in the Conference Room at
St. Andrew Presbyterian Church.

This month's guest speaker will be the famed chef and guru, RUTH BAILLIE. 

Demonstrations, food samples and simple recipes tailored for the nutritional needs of seniors will be offered.


This event is being sponsored by the
ST. ANDREW WOMEN'S FELLOWSHIP.

WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 9TH
AT 9:30 AM

NOW SERVING

Tips for a
LIFESTYLE OF HEALTHY LIVING

~ Ruth Baillie ~

St. Andrew | (707) 996-6024 | andrewpres@sbcglobal.net | http://www.andrewpres.org/
16290 Arnold Drive
Sonoma, CA 95476
"Growing women's faith and friendship through the love of Jesus Christ"
- - Mission Statement of St. Andrew Women's Fellowship
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Quince spice balls

With my vast quantity of quince sauce (see yesterday's post!), I thought I'd make some yummy quince balls today, with autumnal spices.


Here's the recipe.  Instead of quince, you can use any pureed fruit, such as apple sauce, or pumpkin puree or pear puree...but when you have a tree full of quince, you use quince puree!

Quince spice balls
Ingredients: - makes 20 balls

8 dates, pitted
3/4 cup raw walnuts
1/4 cup unsweetened fruit puree
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Dash ground cloves
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

Add the pitted dates to a processor and process for a minute or two.  Add the walnuts and process again.  Add the fruit and spices and mix again.  Finally add the coconut and mix thoroughly. At this stage you could also add one of the following optional extras, stirring in by hand, rather than processing. I didn't - and just used the above ingredients.

Optional extras:
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 goji berries

Use a small cookie scoop to scoop the mixture into approximately 20 balls. If it is too sticky, add some more nuts or coconut. If it's too crumbly, add a little more puree.

The balls can be rolled in additional coconut or crushed walnuts.

Place in the refrigerator until chilled and a little firmer.  They will keep for a week, chilled.


The spicy flavors are what make these balls.  Spices are powerful foods and too often neglected in cooking.  When using spices, a combination tends to work better than an individual spice.



The health benefits of cinnamon include:

  • 1/2 teaspoon a day can lower LDL cholesterol
  • cinnamon lowers blood sugar levels and increases insulin production in the body
  • it has anti-fungal properties
  • it has anti-clotting effects on the blood
  • cinnamon added to food is a natural food preservative
  • just smelling cinnamon boosts cognitive function and memory
  • cinnamon is a natural remedy for headaches and migraines


The health benefits of cloves include:

  • cloves contain eugenol which has been seen to be effective in dentistry as a mild anesthetic as well as an anti-bacterial agent
  • eugenol is also anti-inflammatory and a great addition to an anti-inflammatory diet
  • cloves are an excellent source of manganese, omega-3 fatty acids, and very high levels of anti-oxidants


The health benefits of nutmeg include:
  • can have a blood pressure lowering effect
  • can soothe an upset stomach and stop diarrhea
  • can be stimulating to the brain and improve mental function
Culinary spices are also important with cancer as they can inhibit the "master switch" for cancer genes. They do this by blocking a signaling molecule called NF-kappa beta. NF-kB makes cancer cells resistant to treatment or prompts them to behave in a more aggressive manner, so using spices to turn off this molecule can be powerful in cancer treatment.  

Pharmaceutical companies are in the process of developing drugs that are effective NFkB inhibitors, but nature has supplied us with spices that do the same thing.  So look in your spice cupboard and spice up your life.

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Eat, Fast & Live Longer

Skip an hour of television tonight and watch this fascinating BBC Horizon Documentary instead, all about  eating, caloric restriction and fasting and how you can improve your health.

The documentary, by Dr Michael Mosley, looks at different ways of reducing our caloric intake including: someone who follows caloric restriction through optimal nutrition (CRONIE); the benefits of 3 - 4 few days fasting, every couple of months; of alternate day fasting; and then 5:2 fasting - where you fast for two days out of every 5 (on those fasting days you do eat something - 600 calories of food).

I've never fasted before, but heard a fascinating lecture by Dr Alan Goldhammer  this past summer about its benefits....Dr Goldhammer runs True North Health Center in Santa Rosa which is the largest facility in the world specializing in  medically supervised water only fasting facility. As fascinating as it was, I still haven't signed up! What about you? Have you ever tried fasting?

But even if you don't fancy fasting, "Eat, Fast and live longer" is an excellent documentary, well worth watching. You'll learn a lot.


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Healing Trees recipe

The Cancer Journey conference at Ceres on Sunday seemed to go very well. They sold out and I had some great interactions with people in the resource room.




I demo'd making my "healing tree" morsels, and share the recipe with you here:

Ingredients
1 cup almond flour
1 teaspoon Matcha green tea powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1//2 tablespoons date paste *
Zest of 1 lemon
Grated fresh ginger (approx 1 inch)
15 whole raw organic almonds

Directions
[*Make the date paste first - you will only use a small portion of this.  Process 10 pitted dates with 2 tablespoons of water. This makes a thick paste that is a great substitute for refined sugar.]

  1. Place all the ingredients except the whole almonds in a food processor and process until smooth.  This matcha mixture should hold together when squeezed but not be too sticky. If it won't hold, process longer, or add 1/2 tablespoon more of date paste.  If too sticky, add a little more almond flour.
  2. Cut the whole almonds in half, width ways.
  3. Take approx 1 teaspoon of match mixture and shape it into your hands to form a cone shape
  4. Stand up half an almond on it's cut side and gently push the matcha cone onto the almond, so that it looks like a tree.
  5. Repeat with the rest of the matcha mixture and almond halves to create your own forest of healing trees.
  6. Can be stored in the fridge for up to a week, or else the matcha mixture can frozen before shaping.

The healing qualities of these trees come from:
the green tea has excellent anti-cancer properties and is high in anti-oxidants;
the ginger and dates settle the stomach and help with digestion;
the lemon is a great source of anti-oxidants, vitamins and minerals;
the almonds are a good source of easily digestible fiber, vitamins and minerals;
and finally the cute shape of the trees lifts your spirits!

These are lovely to make for yourself, but make a great gift for someone who needs some healing.
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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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Swimming in tomatoes!

The joy of growing your own fruit and vegetables: you wait for ages to begin harvest, then have masses all at once!
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Even with just two tomato plants, we are nearly overwhelmed with tomatoes! We pick them just about everyday but yesterday seemed to tip me over the edge. We've been managing just eating them raw, but I now know I have to get cooking with them. I'm planning on making some roasted tomato soup and then also trying some tomato sauce. I've never tried that before. Should be fun.

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For today however, I'm roasting some for my lunch and will have them on some gluten free toast.

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They are drizzled with blackberry balsamic vinegar, and sprinkled with homegrown oregano and marjoram. Hmmm. Here's the oil-free recipe. Can't wait for lunch time.

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Recipe: Balsamic Roasted Cherry Tomatoes
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Ingredients:
Cherry tomatoes
Balsamic vinegar - plain or flavored
Fresh herbs, such as basil, oregano, marjoram

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F/ 200 degrees C
Halve tomatoes and place on silpat or parchment paper on a baking tray. (It is important to use a non stick surface as no oil is added in this recipe.)
Sprinkle with chopped herbs of your choice
Drizzle with balsamic vinegar
Roast in the oven for 25 - 30 minutes.
Serve warm with crusty bread or on toast.
Store at room temperature for maximum flavor.
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Making brown rice milk

Today's non-dairy milk recipe is for brown rice milk.  Like the others I've shown, (oat milk, almond milk, and banana milk), it's quick and easy and has no odd ingredients like store bought non-dairy milks.  It's just brown rice and water.

Start with 1 cup of cooked brown rice. I used organic brown basmati.


Put it in a blender with 2 cups of water.



Blend on high for a couple of minutes.


Strain through a nut bag or cheesecloth (see almond milk recipe for more info on nut bags).


Store refrigerated for up to 10 days.  Use for cereal and as a replacement for dairy milk in recipes.


For my personal taste, I add 1/4 teaspoon of vanilla essence to this rice as it tastes a bit too much like rice for my liking.  See what you think.  I much prefer it with the vanilla, yet other non dairy milks I like plain.

What's your favorite?
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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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Make the switch to non-dairy

I was interested - and excited, to read Mark Bittman's article in Sunday's New York Times, entitled "Got Milk? You don't need it!"

You should read it. Please, take a couple of minutes and click on the link above.


We have been fooled by the Dairy industry for long enough.   Milk is not good for us - even skimmed milk - for the reasons Bittman mentions, but also because it is considered to be a cancer promoter in more than just prostate cancer, as highlighted in the China Study, by T. Colin Campbell.



And we won't all get osteoporosis because we don't drink it.  Levels of osteoporosis are highest in those countries where milk is drunk!

So let's stop drinking milk and using dairy products, and stop encouraging our children to drink it.  You may well feel better for it. Drink water instead, or delicious nut or non-dairy milks.  And yes, you can find soya and non-dairy cheeses too, and yoghurts and ice creams and......Here's my current favorite non-dairy milk:


Or make your own! It's easy :-D

Switching from dairy to non-dairy products is a huge step forward in taking care of your health.
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Nature's Medicine

If you read my "everything is tickety-boo" post on Sunday, you will have noticed that one of the items on my list was "spending time in nature".

It sounds pretty insignificant, but there has actually been quite a bit of research going on regarding the health benefits of spending time in nature.


In Japan, "Shinrin-yoku" (defined as wood air bathing or forest bathing) has been receiving increased attention in recent years for its ability to provide relaxation and reduce stress.  Trees, sunshine, grass, and wildlife all too frequently take a backseat in city or urban life, but spending even small amounts of time in a natural setting can help ease mental fatigue, lower levels of pain from cancer, improve immune function, and lower average blood sugar in patients in type 2 diabetes.

Think back to the last time you were surrounded by nature - maybe a hike when you noticed the vibrant fresh green of a new leaf, or an insect, or the color of the bark of a tree, or saw a rabbit hop past.  These moments of discovery and fascination are spontaneous and effortless kinds of attention, not like the attention we have to use at work or during most of our day.  As we follow our curiosity from the leaf to a flower to a butterfly, we relax in an exploration of nature which gives our attention driven brain a break.

Photo by Nicholas_T
Sounds in nature are also important, for example the calming sound of water that acts to balance the body's hormones, as too as smells.  Airborne chemicals emitted by plants - phytoncides - are seen to enhance NK (natural killer) cell activity ( part of the immune system).

Photo by VinothChandar

Here are just a couple of research studies that have shown the health benefits of taking time in nature, but there are many more:

1. Weinstein BJ (Jun 2010) Spending Time in Nature Makes People Feel More Alive, Study Shows. Retrieved September 26th, 2010, from University of Rochester: http://www.rochester.edu/news/show.php?id=3639

2. Li Q (2010) A day trip to a forest park increases human natural killer activity and the expression of anti-cancer proteins in male subjects. J Biol Regul Homeost Agents;24(2):157-65.


3. Li Q (2008) Visiting a forest, but not a city, increases human natural killer activity and expression of anti-cancer proteins. Int J Immunopathol Pharmacol;21(1):117-127.

Photo by VinothChandar
So consider giving yourself a break, and find some time this week to be in nature. Let that effortless attention and fascination take over.  And if you aren't up for that - try bringing some nature indoors to you - open the windows, look at the trees, listen to the sound of a waterfall on your computer, put a nature screensaver on your computer screen, watch a nature DVD....
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New Tickety-boo health coaching website launched

I launched my new tickety-boo health coaching website this week! Yeah!


I hope you'll take a moment to go and check it out.  It tells you what's involved with cancer coaching and health coaching; the benefits of cancer coaching; what types of programs I offer; ideas on how to keep laughing when times get tough;


inspiration for family and friends; how I got into cancer coaching; lots of resources; and my blog also posts there, plus other stuff that I hope you'll find interesting.

I'm excited and working at the moment to find a good location to run some group classes in Sonoma.

I'd love your feedback...feel free to drop me a line with your thoughts on my new site.  Thanks for taking the time to take a look.
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10,000 steps update

In January, I reported on my 10,000 steps goal - i.e. that I committed to walking 10,000 steps every day.  I thought I'd update you on my progress.

I still wear my fitbit everyday to count my steps (and other things) and now I focus on a goal of 70,000 steps a week. I've found that some days I just couldn't get 10,000 steps in with other time constraints, so instead I have a weekly 70,000 goal so my daily average is 10,000.

I therefore allow myself a "day off" - during which I generally walk 7,000 steps, and then I make up the difference during the other days of the week.  It was my dad's idea to take a "day off" each week. I bought my parents a fitbit and they have upped their walking too since they started using it.  My dad's goal is 5,000 steps a day - and last week, one day he walked more than 16,000 steps so got his "15,000 step" badge!  He likes to take Sunday's off as a day of rest!

I always achieve more than my weekly goal...and am thinking maybe I'll up it sometime soon.

My walks have really become a habit that I look forward to. I've taken to listening to audiobooks on most of my walks.  They make the time past quickly and as they are mostly educational books, I feel I am learning something, while also getting some exercise.  But some days, I just enjoy the peace and quiet and watch the birds, deer, rabbits, and squirrels along the way.

Did you start something at the beginning of year to benefit your health and are still doing?  Doesn't it feel good?

(So far today I've done 16,137 steps and the day isn't over yet.....)

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Everything is tickety-boo!

This is going to be a weekly post for me where I share with you the things that have happened each week that make me feel that everything is tickety-boo.

Photo by Abaraphobia
Tickety-boo is more than just a feeling, it is a state of mind.  It doesn't mean that everything has be wonderful, just that you look for the good in your life and focus on that.  It's not being false, it's just valuing the good things around you.  A way of looking beyond difficult things and appreciating the often simple, little things that make a difference.

As I write my "everything is tickety-boo" post each week, I hope you'll get the idea and take time to think about what has happened to you this past week and how it can affect your life positively.

So here is this week's list:

  • the smile of stranger
  • seeing the bright blue color on the back of bluebird in the garden.  That flash of brilliance was stunning
  • my parents having an offer to buy their home
  • sharing my home with lots of friends for my choir retreat this weekend
  • making time to do lots of cooking and try new recipes
  • surprising people with "secret" ingredients!
  • hearing my parrot sing along with both the piano tuner this week, and also during our choir retreat.  How lovely that a bird wants to join in our music making
  • seeing twin boys running with their dog
  • watching the two turtles in our pond trying out the new duck house and also seeing a few ducks in the pond come for a viewing. 
  • chatting to my nephews
  • tidying my studio and having lots of new ideas
  • taking a break from studying and feeling refreshed from it.
Hope you had lots of things that helped you feel tickety-boo this week too.  Here's to another week full of them :-D
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Fitbit

I love my Fitbit.

I bought it late last year.  I'd been wearing a pedometer for quite a few months and found it was quite motivating for me, encouraging me to walk a certain number of steps a day.  But then I heard about Fitbit!  And started my 10,000 steps a day goal.


If you have a pedometer, you don't NEED a FitBit - but I'm so glad I have one!

It's tiny and so secures to your clothing much easier than a pedometer.  For women, the ideal place is to clip it to the center of your bra....but it's also suitable for pockets, belts, waistbands etc.

Like a pedometer, it counts your steps but it does more.  We'd often said, as we walked up steep hills  "why don't I get credit for the uphill, extra effort bits?" - well Fitbit credits you by noting the changes in elevation as you walk.  It monitors it as "floors climbed" so you get a number each day and can set a 'floors climbed' goal too.  All this you can read on the small device display, but what I really like about it is that it wirelessly downloads/syncs your data to your computer or mobile phone.


In addition to walking, you can record your food intake online, your daily weight, your own goals, your water intake, and the other feature I like about it is that it records your sleep.  At night-time, you wear the Fitbit in a wrist band and it monitors your sleep as in how long it takes for you to get to sleep, how often you wake up and for how long, total time asleep, etc etc.  Some nights when I felt that I'd been awake for ages, the Fitbit showed me that actually I had dozed on and off and still got plenty of hours of sleep.


Oh, and of course there are "community" options with Fitbit that I haven't explored - for example you can link with other users who are your friends and see how they are doing and set goals together and the such.

The part I like best is that, as I am often on my computer each day, I am constantly reminded of my goal to walk 10,000 steps every day. If you read back to my blog post about setting goals, you'll see one of my points was about writing down your goals and having them somewhere where you can read them throughout the day.  Fitbit accomplishes this easily.  And "someone" sends you little 'badges' to your email inbox when you achieve something good - like you've walked 50 miles or climbed 25 floors.  It's very reinforcing. Yes, I don't pay much attention to the badges, but when I get a message, it is another reminder of Fitbit and my goals.

So if you need that little bit of encouragement and have a spare $99 - get a Fitbit! It's a bit of a luxury but it works for me.
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10,000 Steps

I achieved my goal of walking 10,000 steps every day this week.  I've been wearing a pedometer for quite a few months and counting my steps and miles. I find the pedometer really does motivate me to achieve a certain number.  I've been averaging about 8,000 - 9,000 steps a day but this week I wanted to up my goal.  My goal was therefore to walk 10,000 steps every day.   And I did it!

It feels good to have done it - now for 9 days continuously.  It's 3pm Saturday afternoon - so I still have another 7 hours today to get in a few more steps but after a long walk today, maybe there won't be that many more!   Here my are daily totals starting today:



  • Saturday - 17,500 steps
  • Friday - 10,668 steps
  • Thursday - 11,708 steps
  • Wednesday - 10,244 steps
  • Tuesday - 10,261 steps
  • Monday - 12,178 steps
  • Sunday - 10,524 steps
That is equivalent to over 40 miles in one week! I feel pleased with myself :-D

Looking at the goal I set and comparing it with my previous blog post, it fits all the criteria. 

a) It was specific - 10,000 steps a day; 
b) It was measurable - I used a Fitbit (I'll tell you more about that in another post, but it's basically a sophisticated pedometer!) to measure the steps; 
c) It was realistic and safe - I had already been walking in the range of 8,000 - 9,000 steps a day; 
d) It had a reasonable time allotment - one week; 
e) I documented my goal and saw it written down frequently by using the computer dashboard for the Fitbit; 
f) I told my hubby about it - and he joined me on many of the walks.

I'm going to keep it up!

So how was your week? Did you achieve any of your goals?  How about setting yourself one for this coming week - using the above criteria?
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New Year's Resolutions and Goals

Have you made any New Year's resolutions this year, with the goal of improving your health?  Or have you tried that previously and found you don't stick to them?  Do you have some health related goals that you would like to achieve but don't know quite where to start?

The Goal Keeper by aussiegall

It is good to make health related goals and resolutions, but the key to success is focusing on one at a time, and making the goals small and manageable. For example, instead of having a goal "to be healthier" which can include so many different things, focus on one important area to start with.  Your one selected area may be to visualize a "finish line" of losing 50 lbs in weight, but now you need to work back to that very first step you need to take ie how do I lose 2 lbs this week?  What do I need to do today?

It is also important to consider priorities.  It's no good having a goal that may solve one issue in your life, but create another one in it's place, for example having a plan of action that takes time away from an important family issue. This could then result in more stress.

"Things that matter most should never be at the mercy of things which matter least." 
Goethe

So spend some time on goal setting.  These useful criteria may help as you set healthful goals for yourself this month:

1. The goal must be specific.
2. The goal must be measurable.  "Doing better" is not measurable.
3. The goal must be realistic and safe.  Individual limitations should be taken into consideration.
4. The goal must have a reasonable time allotted and be reasonable to attain.  If too short a time frame is chosen, this can result in stress and frustration, while a prolonged time frame can lead to discouragement, as well as loss of enthusiasm and motivation.
5. Document your goal.  Write it down and preferably pin it up somewhere where you will read it at least once a day.  Also mark it in your calendar/schedule.
6. Spend some time discussing your plan with others who may be affected. Who else is involved in this process? Who else will it affect and where do they fit in the overall picture.   These people - family or friends, can be great supporters and encouragers, and will more likely be so if they know about and understand your goal right from the start, and recognize that you have considered them too.





It can also help to work with a health coach for setting goals and prioritizing. Sometimes the goal that you have decided on, or your physician has recommended for you, can seem daunting and unreachable, but working with a trained health coach can help you decide your priorities and manageable steps along the way, all the while considering you as an individual and how your life and values fit in with it all.

"Great things are not done by impulse, but by a series of small things brought together".              
Vincent Van Gogh

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23 1/2 hours a day

The title of this video "23 1/2 hours a day" is all about how we should make the best use of the other 1/2 hour in our day, to improve our health.  This is a great simple message and I encourage you to take 9 minutes now and watch it all the way through.

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