Butter From Grass Fed Cows

butterExtra virgin olive oil (EVOO) has tremendous health benefits — studies indicate that extra virgin olive oil may promote cardiovascular, bone, digestive, and cellular health.  It’s full of vitamin E, monounsaturated fat, and a number of antioxidant phytochemicals.   These qualities make EVOO difficult to top in terms of a healthy fat source, but if there was any other fatty food that came close, I’d say that butter from grass-fed cows would be it.

Butter isn’t traditionally considered a healthy food.  It’s been given a bad rap because of its high fat content, but don’t let that stop you from missing out on butter’s amazing nutrient content!  Just because a food is high in fat doesn’t mean that it causes people to gain excess fat (refined and engineered foods do that).  While butter from unpastured cows lacks important nutrients (and for that reason should be avoided like all empty calories), butter from pastured cows (grass-fed) contains nutrients that support a healthy cardiovascular system, strong bones, a healthy metabolism, and that reduce inflammation and prevent “leaky gut syndrome.”  Here are a few of the incredible nutrients contained in butter from grass-fed cows and what they do for your body:

  • Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) — is only found in meat and dairy products from grass-fed animals.  Studies indicate that CLA promotes lean muscle mass and healthy metabolic function.  CLA also has anti-inflammatory and anti-carcinogenic properties.
  • Vitamin K2 (MK-4) — is different than the more commonly known vitamin K1.  It was recently discovered that vitamin K2 has an important role in preventing calcification in the arteries and, at the same time, promoting strong bones and teeth.  Vitamin K2 accomplishes this by activating osteocalcin to deposit calcium where it belongs.  Butter from grass-fed cows is one of the best known sources of vitamin K2, a vitamin that we don’t produce internally.
  • Vitamin A — is a crucial, fat-soluble antioxidant.  Vitamin A is important for eye function, cellular health, red blood cell production, bone health, and maintaining a robust immune system.
  • Butyric Acid — is found in such high quantities in butter that it borrowed butter’s name. This little known nutrient is one of the body’s preferred sources of energy.  Butyric acid is rapidly digested in the intestines and used by the body as fuel.  It’s known to decrease intestinal permeability, which is good because that means fewer harmful molecules or organisms are absorbed into the bloodstream.   Butyric acid also reduces inflammation and improves metabolic function.
  • Saturated fat — isn’t nearly as bad as most people think it is.  Saturated fat is one of best sources of energy (which is why this is the form the body stores fat in). It’s easily burned by the body’s cells and doesn’t cause an insulin spike.  Saturated fat is also a good source of fat energy because it doesn’t throw off the body’s omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acid ratio.  Saturated fat only becomes problematic when it’s consumed from refined foods or meat and dairy products that aren’t from grass-fed animals.

Cows were meant to eat grass on the open pasture.  When they eat nutritious food (it doesn’t get much healthier than grass), they produce nutritious milk.  The cream from nutritious milk makes the healthiest, nutrient-dense butter.  Happy cows = happy people.  EAT real food.

References: Effects of CLA on Fat-MassCLA affects MitochondriaK2 Improves Bone StrengthButyrate Attenuates Inflammation

Originally posted 2013-03-13 22:34:36.

Is brown rice toxic or nutritious? It all depends.

Rice is one of those foods that people seem to be on two sides of the fence about. For most, it’s a sacred source of nutrition; for others it’s a source of empty calories and even a toxin. It turns out there’s evidence to support both perspectives, but whether or not brown rice is nutritious or toxic really depends on how it’s prepared.

When properly prepared, rice is more than empty calories, and it doesn’t have to be abandoned just because it’s high in carbohydrates. The predominate type of carbohydrate in rice is glucose, which is the body’s preferred source of energy. The brain, in particular, depends on glucose for proper functioning. Glucose is also an awesome source of energy for athletic activities, as it can be stored as glycogen for use during intense activities.

In addition to being an excellent source of energy, brown rice is high in fiber and a number of micronutrients. These nutrients support a healthy metabolism, strengthen the bones, and may help prevent cancer. Brown rice supplies vitamins B6, niacin, thiamin, manganese, selenium, and zinc. It also contains a phytonutrient called lignan, which is converted by bacteria in the intestines into enterolactone and appears to have health promoting properties.

Yet, despite all the awesome nutrients brown rice contains, there are a couple of instances when brown rice is toxic rather than nutritious: when it’s not soaked and when its not adequately boiled.

Brown rice must be soaked because it contains a chemical called phytic acid that prevents minerals from being absorbed by the small intestines. If these important nutrients aren’t absorbed then rice does indeed become an “empty carb.” Soaking activates an enzyme called phytase that breaks down phytic acid and allows all the healthy minerals to be absorbed. The only problem is that that rice contains very little phytase potential, so fermentation is the best way to develop phytic acid reducing enzymes. While it may sound a little complex, having a fermenting rice soaking solution on hand is relatively easy and is a traditional Chinese practice. Heres how:

Soak your brown rice in non-chlorinated water for 24 hours. Drain the soaking water before cooking, but save 10% of the water for future soaking use (stored in the refrigerator). The next time you soak your rice, add the saved water to the soaking solution. Repeat this cycle every time you cook brown rice. Over time this solution develops phytase enzymes that will deactivate up to 96% of the phytic acid content in your brown rice.

After soaking your rice to deactivate the phytic acid, the next step is properly cooking it to remove the arsenic content. Rice concentrates arsenic, a carcinogenic toxin, more than any other grain. Regular consumption of improperly cooked rice can lead to unhealthy blood levels of this dangerous chemical. There’s any easy method, however, to drastically reduce the arsenic content:

Cook your brown rice like you would cook pasta — boiled in plenty of water. Today, most people add just enough water to their rice so that the rice is ready at the same time all the water is absorbed or evaporated, but this can actually contribute to even higher levels of arsenic consumption. The traditional way of preparing rice is to boil it in water at a 1:6 ratio. To use this method, simply cook your brown rice in a large pot and boil for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, drain the excess water and allow the rice to rest (covered) off the heat for 10 minutes. Not only does this method reduce the arsenic, it also produces a great tasting and nicely textured brown rice!

Sure, it might require a little more effort than microwaving a TV dinner, but properly preparing rice is mostly a matter of planning ahead. The result: a delicious, affordable, high energy, and nutrient-rich food!

Recommend Products: Bulk Organic Brown Rice

References:
Whole Health Source – Brown Rice
Science Direct – Soaking Brown Rice
Rice Consumption and Arsenic Content 
Arsenic In Rice: How Concerned Should You Be?

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Originally posted 2013-03-02 05:22:00.

Edible Flowers for Fitness!

Gentlemen, flowers aren’t just for the ladies anymore — beyond their aesthetic value, there are many flowers that have tremendous health benefits!  The medical information on flowers is limited, but the research is growing.  Check out some of the many flowers with nutritive and medicinal properties:

  • Apple and Orange Blossoms – both are edible but should probably be consumed in small quantities, as their nutritional properties are still being explored. 
  • Baby’s Breath – are edible and may be anti-carcinogenic, as well as protect against alcohol induced hepatic fibrosis.
  • Chamomile – long used as a tea for their calming effects, chamomile flowers are also edible in raw form.  Research indicates that chamomile flowers have anti-inflammatory, anti-carcinogenic, and wound healing properties.
  • Chrysanthemum – are traditionally used to brew a type of tea in China.  They’re high in anti-oxidants and minerals, and they may have anti-carcinogenic and anti-inflammatory properties.  
  • Dianthus – can make a colorful and nutritious toping on salads.  They’re high in minerals (including potassium) and anti-oxidants.
  • Echinacea – is primarily used as a tea for its anti-viral and anti-allergenic effects.  Echinacea can also be applied topically as a poultice to promote wound healing, and the petals can be added to soups or salads as a beautiful garnish.
  • Elderflower – a tasty herb that’s used in popular drinks.  Very little research has been done on the flower (there’s more interest in the berry), but it may help improve metabolism.
  • Fuchsia – the beautiful blossoms can be eaten raw and are high in anthocyanins.  
  • Hibiscus – these flowers aren’t only beautiful on a salad or as a tea, they have numerous researched health benefits.  Hibiscus contains anthocyanins and antioxidants, and may lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
  • Jasmine (Jasminum officinale) – is a fragrant and flavorful flower, traditionally blended with green tea.  It can also be added to other recipes (like salads).  It may have anti-carcinogenic and anti-viral properties. 
  • Lavender – this wonderfully smelling flower can be used topically and as a food.  It is anti-septic and may help alleviate dandruff when applied topically.  There are a variety of recipes that use lavender, even a lavender ice cream.  I’m thinking a lavender frozen yogurt would be tasty.  
  • Marigolds – can be used in tea and and applied to the skin as a poultice.  They’ve shown efficacy in wound healing when applied topically.  Nutritionally, marigolds are high in the pigment lutein and may have anti-tumor action.
  • Nasturtium – the leaves and flowers are edible and make a great addition to an edible garden.  The buds can be pickled and used like capers.  The flowers appear to have anti-oxidant properties.
  • Pansies – these edible flowers are high in potassium and other minerals.
  • Peony – may have anti-depressant and cardio-protective properties.
  • Rose Hips – are a good source of vitamin C and may provide relief from arthritis through their anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Violet (viola species) – the violet’s flowers and leaves are edible.  They are high in minerals, anti-oxidants, and potassium.

While not everything should be judged by its utility, as you can see, flowers are extremely useful!  In addition to their nutritive and health promoting qualities, they attract important pollinators to your garden and can keep away pests.  And last but not least, flowers have an unrivaled ability to brighten our mood and help us express love to those closest to us! 

Note: Be sure to properly identify the flower and its edibility before consuming, and be sure that they’re free of pesticides and other chemicals.  Also, those who are allergic to pollen may be allergic to certain flowers.

References:
Baby’s Breath and Alcohol-induced Hepatic Fibrosis
Chamomile Anti-inflammatory Properties
Chamomile Anti-proliferative Effects
Chrysanthemum Anti-Oxidant and Anti-Inflammatory Effects
Edible Flowers as Important Mineral Sources
Elderflowers and Insulin Sensitivity
Hibiscus for Blood Pressure and Lipidemia 
Anti-viral properties of Jasmine
Marigolds’ Anti-tumor Action
Nasturtium’s Anti-Oxidant Potential
Peony’s Anti-depressant Effects

Originally posted 2013-02-19 23:58:00.

Is Komboucha Good for You?

Sometimes healthy foods and drinks can be odd or not very tasty, but most of the time they’re simple and delicious.  Kombucha, a drink many people enjoy and use for its purported health benefits, seems to fall somewhere in between these two spectrums.  In my opinion, kombucha, though acidic and somewhat sour, is still tasty and refreshing. The health benefits are debatable, though lean towards positive.  My suggestion is that if you enjoy kombucha and feel it energizes you, keep drinking it, but don’t expect it to be some type of miracle elixir and don’t overdo it.

If you’re a little lost at this point, let me catch you up: kombucha is a drink that’s fermented by a symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast (referred to as a scoby).  It was first used for its health promoting properties in China (likely beginning several hundred years ago) and remains a folk remedy for colds and other ailments around the world.  Several years ago, my wife and I traveled to Ukraine to volunteer with an organization that helps orphans (the organization is called Operation Lazarus – check it out!).  While there, one of our new Ukrainian friends invited us to visit her grandmother in the countryside.  You can imagine our surprise when this Ukrainian babushka offered us home-brewed kombucha that she had sitting on top of her refrigerator!  At the time, we thought that kombucha was a new American health trend.  When we asked her about it, she said that she and many of her neighbors had been drinking this “mushroom” tea for its health benefits for many years!

Kombucha is usually brewed using black or green tea sweetened with sugar.  The sugar serves as food for the bacteria/yeast colony.  The fermentation process reduces the end amount of sugar and produces a number of different acids in its place; among these are acetic, butyric, and gluconic acids.  The acids give the drink a slightly vinegary taste and are also credited for kombucha’s suspected health properties.  The longer the drink is fermented, the more acid is produced.  Most kombuchas are fermented for less than a month.  

The research regarding kombucha’s health benefits is limited.  I couldn’t find any human studies, only a hand full of studies that have been performed on rats.  The studies that used rats, however, are promising and indicate that kombucha may support liver and kidney health, as well as improve metabolic function.  The drink’s health-promoting properties are likely a result of the various functions of the acids.  Some of the acids kombucha contains are used by the body as energy, to increase stomach acid production, kill harmful bacteria, and decrease gut permeability.   

While there are several recorded incidences of people getting sick from kombucha, these sickness resulted from drinking too much of it, not properly fermenting it, or fermenting it in toxic containers.  I’m of the opinion that drinking kombucha is generally safe, as it has a long history of use and when properly fermented, the acids kill any harmful bacteria that may try to develop during fermentation.  If you’re not so sure about getting a scoby and brewing kombucha yourself but still want to give it a try, there are several companies that manufacturer kombucha in controlled environments.  You can find it for sale at health food stores and grocery stores like Whole Foods.  For the healthiest option, look for kombuchas with the least amount of sugar.

The take away: As with many other folk remedies, there’s likely some accuracy in the health claims surrounding kombucha, but enjoy it in moderation. 

References:
A Systemic Review of Clinical Evidence
Whole Health Source: Butyric Acid
Hypoglycemic and Antilipidemic Properties in Rats
Hepatoprotective Properties of Kombucha

Originally posted 2013-02-10 19:37:00.

Foods and Tips to Whiten Teeth Naturally

While pursuit of the bleach-white look is certainly a cultural value, and at times can be a little vain, having naturally white teeth is a sign of strong enamel and healthy teeth.   A sparkling smile can also help boost one’s self-confidence. If you’re someone who cringes at the idea of filling your mouth with bleach and chemicals to keep your teeth sparkly white, you might be wondering what natural steps you can take to keep your pearly whites looking their whitest.  The good news is that what’s good for your body is good for your teeth.  Here are five
helpful tips for naturally whiter teeth:

  • Rinse your mouth out!
    After you eat, make a habit of swishing some clean water around in your mouth and through
    your teeth.  This simply gives your
    teeth a little break from stains that might otherwise just sit there.  Think of doing this especially after
    meals or after drinking coffee, black tea, or red wine.
  • Eat your fruits!
    Specifically, try to use more papaya, pineapple, and strawberries in
    your diet.  Fresh is best, so that
    you can really get them on your teeth.  These fruits contain natural enzymes which
    act as teeth-whiteners, helping to break down stains.  Some natural toothpastes are even fortified with papaya
    enzyme (sometimes called papain or papaya proteinase), which provides a
    convenient way to reap the benefits of papaya!  You can also put orange peels to good use; wash the outside
    of an organic orange, peel, and rub the inside of the peel (the white part) on
    your teeth.  Discard the peel and
    brush your teeth to rinse.
  • Crunch on this!
    Crunchy fruits and vegetables are another great way to keep stains from
    settling.  Keep them handy to give
    your teeth a freshening anytime of the day.  Some great ones are: apples, pears, celery, and
    carrots.
  • Drink milk (organic, whole, and grass-fed)!  The minerals in milk, cheese, and
    yogurt help strengthen tooth enamel.
    The stronger your enamel, the healthier your teeth and the better they
    will look!  Plus, having strong
    enamel will make sure your teeth can stand up to the acids and enzymes it takes
    to fight teeth stains.
  • Scrub them good!
    On top of flossing daily and brushing after each meal, you can
    periodically give your teeth a whitening boost with baking soda.  You can use baking soda alone by
    shaking some into your hand, dipping your toothbrush in, and brushing away like
    normal.  You can also try mixing
    some baking soda with some lemon juice or a mashed strawberry to create a
    potent paste to brush your teeth with.
    Make sure to rinse your mouth out with water afterwards.

Eating a creation-based diet and emphasizing a few of these tips should help whiten and strengthen your teeth.  Just remember, no matter how white your teeth are a truly happy smile comes from a life of joy and a content heart!  And as always, use moderation when applying these tips.  Too much acid or too much baking soda
could irritate your gums or damage enamel.  Most importantly, strengthen your teeth from the inside with a good diet!

Originally posted 2013-02-08 22:56:00.

The Best Sources of Potassium

beets1Why is it important to know the best sources of potassium? According to the Institute of Medicine, Adequate Intake for potassium (AI) is 4,700 mg. To put this in perspective, the average US male only consumes approximately 3,000 mg of potassium per day, while the average US woman only consumes 2,300 mg. This is made worse by the fact that Americans typically consume three times more sodium than potassium! The ratio of sodium to potassium is opposite of what it should be. Ideally, potassium intake should be about twice the amount of sodium intake. People from pre-industrialized cultures usually consume seven times more potassium than sodium. Adequate potassium intake is extremely important for maintaining cardiovascular health, bone strength, and muscle function. People who consume adequate levels of potassium have less incidence of stroke, kidney stones, and osteoporosis.

Below I’ve compiled a list of foods that are the best sources of potassium. Beet greens, a little-used green, came out on top! Beet greens are also a great source of calcium, so next time you buy some organic beets be sure to enjoy the leafy tops in addition to the sweet root! Like beets, most foods that are high in potassium tend to be rich in other important nutrients as well. An easy way to get more potassium in one’s diet is to replace grains with potatoes and beans, and to replace refined foods with more whole foods in general.

  • 1,300 mg – Beet Greens (1 cup cooked)
  • 961 mg – Swiss Chard (1 cup cooked)
  • 955 mg – Lima Beans (1 cup cooked)
  • 952 mg – Potatoes (1 medium baked)
  • 911 mg – Yams (1 cup cooked)
  • 896 mg – Acorn Squash (1 cup cooked)
  • 746 mg – Pinto Beans (1 cup cooked)
  • 742 mg – Kidney Beans (1 cup cooked)
  • 731 mg – Lentils (1 cup cooked)
  • 689 mg – Avocado (1 medium)
  • 650 mg – Spinach (1 cup cooked)
  • 520 mg – Beets (1 cup cooked)
  • 514 mg – Almonds (1/2 cup, dry roasted)
  • 439 mg – Cod (3 oz fillet cooked)
  • 410 mg – Carrot (1 cup, raw, chopped)
  • 390 mg – Crimini Mushrooms (1 cup, raw)
  • 380 mg – Yogurt (1 cup, plain, whole)
  • 387 mg – Salmon (3 oz fillet cooked)
  • 362 mg – Banana (1 small)
  • 360 mg – Papaya (1 cup, cubed)
  • 350 mg – Dark chocolate (50 grams , 85% cocoa or more)
  • 349 mg – Milk (1 cup, whole)
  • 307 mg – Coconut meat (1 cup dried)
  • 313 mg – Beef steak (3 oz fillet cooked)
  • 288 mg – Broccoli (1 cup raw)
  • 255 mg – English Walnuts (1/2 cup raw)
  • 240 mg – Macadamia nuts (1/2 cup dry roasted)
  • 217 mg – Orange (1 medium)
  • 205 mg – Prunes (1 oz dried)
  • 210 mg – Raisins (1 oz)

I recommend tracking your nutrient intake on Fitday for a couple of days to find out if you’re getting enough potassium to prevent disease. I don’t personally like tracking what I’m eating everyday, but I find recording my diet for at least a week or so helps me get my nutrition goals on track!

Reference:

Originally posted 2013-02-07 20:09:00.

A Diet to Cure Acne

In the United States it’s estimated that 50 million people and 95% of adolescents suffer from acne! Yet, anecdotal evidence indicates that there is a simple diet that will cure acne for most people. Without over simplifying the matter, the acne-curing diet is essentially a creation-based diet, free of industrial and processed foods. If you’ve heard people say that diet doesn’t affect acne, they’re misinformed, and I’ll provide the evidence. Here’s how it works:

How acne develops: Acne is caused by two basic imbalances in the body. First of all, an increase in growth hormones in the body can cause the skin’s sebaceous glands to secrete an extra amount of oil. This oil is called sebum and is essential for healthy skin and hair. Sebum provides moisture and assists the immune system in creating a barrier against bacteria and viruses. Excess oil production wouldn’t be such a big problem on its own, but it often occurs simultaneously with a second imbalance: excess shedding of skin cells. Acne forms when dead skin cells plug the skin’s hair follicles, causing oil to accumulate in the pores. Once the oil is trapped, the clogged pores can become environments where bacteria grows, which leads to acne.

The underlying causes: Since high levels of growth hormones can cause excess production of sebum, adolescents are more prone to acne than any other age group. Drugs and foods that throw normal hormones off balance, however, have a more significant role in causing acne than adolescent hormones by themselves. Milk and high-glycemic foods are thought to exacerbate the imbalance, but based on the combined evidenced, it appears that the quality of food has a greater effect than the type of food on whether a person produces excess sebum or not (at least in most cases). Diet quality also affects the skin’s overall health and the rate at which it dries and sheds. Inflammatory diets, high in omega-6 polyunsaturated fats (refined seed oils) and refined sugar, cause dry skin and promote problems like eczema and acne. The problem is compounded when ones’s diet is deficient in vitamins, minerals, omega-3 fatty acids, and other healthful plant nutrients. Without these important nutrients, skin cells don’t have adequate defenses against all the bacteria, toxins, and UV rays they are bombarded with, and the sebaceous glands can’t produce high quality sebum to nourish the skin.

The remedy: The cure for acne (in most cases), as stated at the beginning of this article, is essentially a creation-based diet. Recent research has revealed that acne is extremely rare among people from non-industrialized or pre-colonized cultures. People from these cultures tend to eat diets that consist entirely of whole foods from their environment and from limited agriculture.

A study published by JAMA in 2002 looked at the prevalence of acne among people from two non-industrialized cultures, the Kitavan Islanders of Papua New Guinea and the Aché hunter-gatherers of Paraguay. After examining hundreds of people from both cultures, ZERO cases of acne were found among adults or adolescents. Being from very different cultures and geographic locations, the influence of genetics was ruled out and diet was recognized as the most significant factor. Their combined diets consist primarily of tubers, fish, fruit, vegetables, coconut, peanuts, maize, and wild game. They eat little or no flour, sugar, cereals (such as wheat or barley), dairy, or alcohol. Though some researchers have said that a high-glycemic diet is what causes acne, the diets from both cultures emphasize very high glycemic foods (although they do tend to be low glycemic-loading foods).

While it seems clear that highly domesticated and industrialized foods are a major cause of acne, the affect dairy has on acne, in my opinion, is less straight forward. There are several studies that demonstrate a correlation between dairy consumption and acne, however the quality of milk used in these studies was likely very poor. Most Americans drink highly processed milk that comes from cows treated with hormones and fed grain instead of grass. The milk also usually comes from cows that are pregnant, which means that there are increased levels of natural hormones in the milk. People from many non-industrialized cultures drink milk and dairy products as a primary component of their diets, and as far as I know they don’t have the problem with acne that we have in the US. For example, the Bantus, Todas, Zulu, and Maasai, all consume dairy as part of their traditional diets, and at least among the Bantus the incidence of acne is known to be low. Unless a person is lactose intolerant, dairy from grass-fed cows has many important health benefits that make it a valuable food to include in ones diet, so I don’t feel it should be eliminated from the diet needlessly.

If you suffer from acne, I recommend making the switch to a creation-based diet for at least 30-days. It takes time to see changes in the body, so you can’t expect to see your acne go away over night. Eat only whole, unprocessed foods like the Kitavans and Ache eat: potatoes, sweet potatoes, fish, fruit, vegetables, nuts. Also, try cutting out wheat, but feel free to eat rice and other gluten-free grains. Many people are more gluten-sensitive than they realize, and I think the leaky gut associated with gluten intake can contribute to acne development. Also, avoid refined seed oils and sugars that will cause inflammation. If you continue drinking milk, switch to organic milk or milk that’s locally produced and from grass-fed cows. If you continue to have an acne problem after 30-days, try cutting milk completely out of your diet.

Feel free to eat chocolate, just make it at least 70% cocoa! Also, feel free to eat oils, but they should be the minimally refined varieties, like butter, extra virgin olive oil, and extra virgin coconut oil. Eat organic and free-range as much as possible to make sure you’re getting fewer toxins and more nutrients (including omega-3 fatty acids).

I’m 29-years old and had problems with acne until the last few years when I switched to a creation-based diet. I’m also able to eat organic dairy without a problem. I wish I would have know this information when I was in high school; it would have saved me from a lot of unnecessary embarrassment! While, overall, acne is a less pressing matter that most of the health problems associated with our society, it provides another example of how reconnecting with God’s creation promotes optimum health!

References:
JAMA Study of Kitavans and Aché
Nutrition and Acne
Mayo Clinic
The Relationship of Diet and Acne

Originally posted 2013-02-05 21:33:00.

Gluten-free Eggplant Parmigiana!

eggplant(2)Whether you’re planning a gluten-free dinner or a sweet Valentine’s date, this dinner is the perfect way to show someone you care! Treating the eggplant just right takes a little time, but truly helps this eggplant parmigiana stand out among the rest. All the breaded goodness with no gluten and no frying–what’s not to love?!

Eggplant Parmigiana
Makes 4 servings

1 large eggplant, peeled and thinly sliced
2 C almond meal
1 tsp rosemary
1 tsp oregano
2 tsp thyme
1 tbsp basil
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1-2 eggs, beaten
Tomato pasta sauce, jarred or homemade
1 ½ cups mozzarella, shredded

  • Place eggplant slices in a colander (which can drain in the sink or on a towel). Press down on the slices with a paper towel, and let sit to remove as much moisture from the eggplant as possible.
  • Meanwhile, prepare the coating. In a bowl good for dipping eggplant slices, mix together the almond meal, rosemary, oregano, thyme, basil, salt, and pepper. In a second bowl good for dipping eggplant slices, whisk the egg(s) until slightly beaten.
  • Preheat the oven to 400° F and prepare a lightly oil a 9×13 baking dish.
  • One by one remove the eggplant slices from the strainer and press dry with a clean dishcloth or paper towel, then dipping each one into the egg, and then the almond meal mixture. Place the breaded slices in the baking dish in a single layer.
  • Bake for 10-15 minutes, until browned, flipping once.
  • After eggplant is browned, pour your favorite pasta sauce (ours is made with roasted garlic!) into the baking pan. Top with mozzarella cheese. Bake for 5-10 minutes more, or until sauce is heated through and cheese is browned.

Buon-appetito!

Originally posted 2013-02-01 09:00:00.

Do you have symptoms of iodine deficiency?

Over 2 billion people worldwide are estimated to be iodine deficient. Are you one of them? Until recently, a large percentage of the US population was iodine deficient. A campaign to introduce more iodine into our diet (primarily through iodized salt) lowered the rate of deficiency, but many people still aren’t getting enough. Those who are iodine deficient often have health issues that could be improved with a simple adjustment to their diet.

When the body doesn’t have enough iodine, the thyroid can’t product thyroid hormone. Iodine is the building block for thyroid hormone, one of the most important hormones in the human body. Iodine is also essential for brain and nervous system development, reproductive health (especially in women), and metabolic regulation. Some of the symptoms and consequences of iodine deficiency include:

  • Weight-gain
  • Mental Sluggishness
  • Benign breast lumps (AKA fibrocystic breast condition)
  • Miscarriages and still-births
  • Mental retardation in babies and children
  • Goiter
  • Hypothyroid (and possibly hyperthyroid)
  • Fatigue
  • Cold intolerance
  • Dark circles under the eyes (one possible reason)

There are a number of reasons we aren’t getting enough iodine in our diets. For one, the iodine content of food is dependent on the iodine content of the soil. Sadly, much of the soil used for agriculture in the U.S. is depleted of iodine and other important minerals. Secondly, iodine used to be more commonly used as a dough-conditioner in commercial bread products, but in the last few decades commercial manufacturers starting using bromide instead. Bromide actually competes with iodine for absorption by the body. Finally, in addition to having iodine deficient diets, many Americans eat foods that inhibit the thyroid from properly processing any iodine that is consumed. These foods are called “goitrogens.”

For example, Omega-6 polyunsaturated fats (rapeseed “canola” oil, corn oil, and soybean oil) may suppress thyroid signaling, and consumption of these types of fats have drastically increased over the last several decades. Soy products in general, especially soybean oil, are goitrogenic. There are also many healthy foods that can inhibit proper thyroid function, especially when iodine consumption is already low and when these foods contain less iodine than they used to. Some of these foods include, cabbage, broccoli, brussel sprouts, peanuts, spinach, and strawberries. For people who are gluten-sensitive, wheat, barley, and rye are also goitrogenic and can actually damage the thyroid.

If you have any of the symptoms listed above, try improving your health by avoiding goitrogens and consuming foods that are high in iodine. Some of the best sources of iodine, listed from highest iodine content to lowest, are:

  • Sea Vegetables (Kombu, Dulse, Wakame) – try adding to soups, sushi, or eating as a snack.
  • Yogurt
  • Milk
  • Eggs
  • Cheese
  • Seafood and shellfish (varies by species and location, but cod is usually a good source)

The current USDA recommendation for daily iodine consumption is only 150 mcg per day. It should be noted that people from some of the healthiest cultures in the world often far exceed this amount. The traditional Japanese diet, for example, was extremely high in sea vegetables, resulting in a daily iodine consumption of more than 12,000 mcg (12 mg).

I personally know women who have had great success supplementing their diet with 12.5 mg of iodine daily in reducing the symptoms of fibrocystic breast syndrome. The mammary glands, because of the importance of iodine for the proper development of babies’ brains and nervous system, are iodine concentrating. If the glands don’t get enough iodine they can swell and cause pain. What is modern medicine’s solution for addressing the benign lumps associated with fibrocystic breasts: surgery. Perhaps all that is needed is more iodine! (be sure to talk to a health care professional before making this decision)

Whether male or female, we all depend on getting enough iodine for health. Iodine is necessary for a healthy metabolism (which can help prevent weight gain), helps prevent mental sluggishness, and supports the proper function of the thyroid gland. So don’t leave organic dairy and eggs out of your diet. If you really want to boost your iodine intake, or if you are lactose intolerant, eat plenty of sea vegetables or consider taking supplements that contain iodine.

Originally posted 2013-01-30 23:07:00.

Potatoes – a tubular superfood!

Starchy carbohydrate-filled little calorie bombs, coated in refined salt and fried in poly-unsaturated fat, creation’s tubular superfood has been given a horrible reputation!  It’s time to redeem the potato’s righteous place on our plates.  The potato shouldn’t be guilty for the health crimes committed by potato chip manufacturers and fast food restaurants.  In and of itself the potato is an incredibly healthy food – it’s how it’s cooked and what it’s cooked in (often refined seed/vegetable oils) that can make eating potatoes hazardous to health.  If you follow the guidelines in this article, you’ll discover how and why to include potatoes as part of a healthy, creation-based diet.

The evidence: While we’ve ruined potatoes by frying them in refined oil (which promotes weight gain and throws off the body’s proper Omega 6 to Omega 3 ratio), people from cultures around the world have enjoyed potatoes as a staple food and maintained excellent health for thousands of years.  Before the Great Irish Famine of 1845-1849, potatoes were the primary food source for the Irish.  Reports reveal that the general population was in excellent health – the men were well nourished and muscular, and fertility rates were high.  In fact, there’s reason to believe that introduction of the potato to Europe contributed to significant population growth in the entire continent.  

The potato was first domesticated about 10,000 years ago in Peru and was a staple food in the diets of many South American peoples, including the Incas.  Hundreds of different varieties were grown that provided varying amounts of almost every known vitamin and mineral, as well as a number of other health-promoting phytonutrients.  Today there are only a few commercially grown varieties available in the U.S., but these can still contribute a significant amount of healthy nutrients to one’s diet.  Potatoes contain high amounts of minerals like potassium, manganese, phosphorous, and copper, as well as vitamins C, B6, and thiamin.   The potato’s potassium content is especially important.  

Potatoes contains more potassium than even bananas or broccoli.  Potassium is crucial for maintaining healthy blood pressure and muscle function.  Recent studies indicate that consuming enough potassium might be more important than reducing salt intake for good cardiovascular health, and many Americans are potassium-deficient.

Surprising as it may be, potatoes are also a decent source of protein.  While there are only a couple of grams of protein per potato, eaten as a staple, potatoes can still provide quite a bit of protein.  Potatoes are also unique in that they contain a complete protein.  The quality of the protein is likely what enabled people, like the Irish, to maintain good health on a predominately potato diet.  

A couple of years ago a potato farmer from Washington named Chris Voigt set out to redeem the potato’s good name by going on an all potato diet for 60-days, eating 20 potatoes per day.  The result  — he lost 21 lbs and lowered his cholesterol by 67 points!   While an all-potato diet isn’t the most balanced our healthiest long term diet, it’s clear that potatoes aren’t the cause of weight gain.  Given their history as a healthy staple food, their high vitamin and mineral content, and the quality of protein they contain, I think the argument can be made that potatoes are actually a superfood.  To top it all off, potatoes are gluten free, making them a great alternative source of carbohydrates for those who are gluten-sensitive.  

How to enjoy: Eat them almost anyway except for fried in refined seed oil (which means no potato chips or fast-food french fries).  The one concern with potatoes is that they contain natural pesticides (like most other plants) called glycoalkaloids that can be harmful to humans if consumed in large quantities.  Glycoalkaloids are found mostly in and directly underneath the skin.  Peeling the skin will remove most of the glycoalkaloid content of domesticated varieties, so if you eat potatoes often, it’s best to peel them.  Also, avoid potatoes that are sprouting or turning green — these potatoes can have higher glycoalkaloid content.  

If peeled, potatoes can also be eaten raw.  Try adding them diced to salads or vegetable trays.  When pan frying potatoes, use a little bit of butter/olive oil/ or coconut oil, instead of refined seed oils, and a small amount of water.  

Together we can redeem the potato’s reputation as one of creation’s truly tubular foods — a gluten-free source of potassium, vitamin C, healthy energy, and quality protein!

Originally posted 2013-01-24 00:40:00.