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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Magnesium Deficiency

Magnesium is an abundant mineral in our bodies that is vital to our health.  Yet many of us are deficient in it.  60% of the magnesium in our bodies is stored in our bones, 38 - 39% is stored in cells, and the remaining 1 - 2% is in the blood, where it is crucial for maintaining a regular heart beat.


So what else does magnesium do for us? It has roles in:

  • muscle and nerve function
  • immune function
  • blood pressure control
  • energy production
  • blood sugar regulation

In the standard American diet with processed and refined foods, much of the magnesium is lost in our diet through that processing. This is especially the case with refined wheat flour to white flour and brown rice to white rice.  Also, alcohol and caffeine deplete magnesium in our bodies - as does chronic stress.  Thus a significant proportion of the American population is deficient in magnesium.


Some of the signs of magnesium deficiency include:

  • abnormal heart rhythm
  • anxiety
  • depression
  • fatigue
  • high blood pressure
  • irritability
  • loss of appetite
  • muscle spasms or twitching
  • poor sleep/insomnia
  • poor nail growth
  • tremor
All of these symptoms have more than one cause however, so if you think low magnesium may be an issue for you, discuss it with your health care practitioner.  It can be easily remedied and can make a big difference in how you feel.



An easy way to increase your magnesium levels is through the diet.  Eating a whole foods plant based diet is recommended - with no or minimal processed foods.  Add to that, some of the the following foods, which are good sources of magnesium:

  • pumpkin seeds
  • sesame seeds
  • sunflower seeds
  • almonds
  • cashews
  • black beans
  • soy beans
  • spinach
  • swiss chard
  • quinoa
  • millet
  • buckwheat
  • brown rice
  • salmon
  • halibut
  • dark chocolate
I don't recommend you try a supplement, unless under the guidance of a health professional.  

I made some pumpkin seed milk this week, to give it a try. Here's the recipe:

1 cup pumpkin seeds (soaked 6 - 8 hours in water)
3 cups water

Discard the soak water from the seeds and place them in a high powered blender, like a Vitamix.  Add the water and blend on high until smooth.

Refrigerate and enjoy.  You can strain the milk if you prefer but you get all the goodness of the seeds if you don't strain it but just shake it before use.  A lovely creamy milk.

It doesn't taste like dairy milk so if you are making it and expecting it to have the same taste - it won't.  But it tastes nice. I had it on my cereal - but you can also use it for cooking and have it in smoothies etc as a great source of magnesium (and also zinc).

So if you have trouble sleeping at night, with restless legs, try a handful of pumpkin seeds in the evening or a square of dark chocolate (75% or more cocoa content).  Or start your day with a green smoothie made with pumpkin seeds and spinach.

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Are you ready for tomorrow?

Do you worry about tomorrow or get excited about it's potential?

Be like Snoopy and prepare for good things:


Sleep well! And have a great day!
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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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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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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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