Friday, October 11, 2013

Your Fork is a Powerful Tool

Perhaps The Most Powerful Tool You Have…

The most powerful tool you have to transform your health or to keep your health is your fork! Use it well and you will thrive. Use it poorly and you will more than likely suffer.  In my practice, I find that the less a person uses their fork, the more likely they are consuming foods that are high in bad fats, sugar, high fructose corn syrup, additives and preservatives, all of which are found in abundance in fast foods, chips, sodas, baked goods, and prepared and processed foods.  What your fork needs to find are foods that are “whole” and real and living.
Whole, Living foods not only taste better, they make us feel better and are part of preventing disease. When we give our body Living, real food, it has the raw materials that it needs to heal and protect itself.  Mounds of scientific evidence points to the power of food as medicine. These “medicinal” foods are simple and are what our bodies need to make us sparkle and feel alive!  

 We can treat and prevent most chronic illnesses with a whole, organic, real, unprocessed diet of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts, seeds, avocados, olive oil, coconut oil, small omega-3 containing fish like sardines and herring, and lean grass fed animal protein. These are basically,foods that our ancestors gathered and hunted.  We have not evolved much over the past years and our bodies basically need the same nutrient rich food for fuel and optimal health. Whole, real, living foods are our first line of defense against disease, including autoimmune disease, cancers, depression, ADD, heart disease, diabetes and the myriad of other chronic diseases that we suffer from because we do not feed our bodies what they need.

So, how can you easily tell if a food is a Living food?  It's actually very simple.  It will spoil or change at room temperature in 7-10 days. (the exception is a dehydrated food) The fact that the food is changing means that it is still living and full of enzymes that our body needs to operate at a peak level.  An example of this: Tortillas and breads should become moldy in about 7 days at room temperature.  If they don't, they are no longer a living food but have been made inert with added preservatives, chemicals and/or heat.  Dead foods do not help to keep our bodies energized and disease free and they "dumb" us down.
Foods to Avoid Forever:There are certain foods that should be avoided forever.  They are not meant for human consumption.  These are Frankenfoods that have been created by food scientists that benefit the food industry's pocket book, not you!  They can be found in abundance in your friendly big grocery store chains, and in the myriad of fast food establishments.
Go into your kitchen: Look through your cabinets and throw away anything that contains ingredients on the list below. And when you go to the grocery store, make sure to read the ingredient labels of all foods you purchase to avoid reintroducing these substances into your home and diet.
  1. High-fructose corn syrup (and corn syrup) This is a manufactured byproduct of corn (which 90% of is genetically modified in the US) and is a marker of poor-quality food, and has more harmful effects on your health than regular sugar. This sweetener is metabolized differently than sugar, through the liver and can actually cause a fatty liver and liver damage, in much the same way that alcohol can.  Take a look at your Wheat Thins, Breakfast bars, cereals, ketchup, BBQ sauce, even your peppers in a jar to see if this sweetener has been added.
  2. Trans Fats.(aka as hydrogenated or partially-hydrogenated oil)  Do not be fooled by packaging that states there are zero trans fats or the nutrition label that says zero trans fats.  You must read the ingredient label to see if there is hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils in the product.  These fats are used to extend the shelf life and add creaminess and texture of baked goods, peanut butters, etc but these fats have been proven to cause heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. New York City has banned trans fats, and I hope you will too.  (Read your Skippy and Jiff peanut butter ingredients.  Take a look at your Mission Flour Tortillas.)
  3. Food additives, preservatives, and artificial sweeteners:  The average person consumes pounds of these compounds every year. Aside from being harmful themselves, they bring with them many other poor quality ingredients. Stay away from the following:
  4. Artificial Sweeteners:Aspartame (NutraSweet, Equal), saccharin (Sweet n’Low), sucralose (Splenda), acesulfame-K (Sunette, Sweet-n-Safe, Sweet One) What can you do instead?  How about using a little bit of Stevia which is a natural herb or even a little bit of Inulin which is a mildly sweet powder that the beneficial bacteria in your gut gets nourishment from and grows.  A couple of other sweetening ideas include, sucanat, and raw local honey.
  • Any food additives:Potassium bromate, propyl gallate, sodium nitrite, sodium nitrate, monosodium glutamate, maltodextrin (you will be surprised at how many products have this little sweetener and interestingly enough, it is not counted as a sugar).
I always encourage eating as much organic and grass fed as your budget can bear, but even if you do nothing else, simply by eliminating foods with any of the above ingredients in them, you will go a long ways toward improving your health and the health of your loved ones, as well.

It really is simple.  Just start eating whole real, fresh, organic (when you can), unprocessed food and watch how you look and feel so incredibly much better!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Sara's Arugula Caprese Kale Pesto Salad

As I become busier in my practice, helping people heal, I'm finding that I have less time to play in my kitchen to create new recipes.  Yet, I always like to bring something new and delicious, and easy to you each month so that you will be able to increase your repertoire of recipes that will help you to use food to keep your taste buds happy and to keep your body and brain happy too!  

To solve the dilemma this month, I've borrowed a recipe from one of my favorite food blogger's Sara Forte.  I re-discovered Sara's blog, The Sprouted Kitchen a couple weeks ago when I was doing a search for sprouted quinoa.    I had met Sara, at least 5 years ago in a yoga room.  She was actually one of my students-very serious in the yoga room and very playful when writing and in the kitchen.  Back then, she was already blogging and coming up with amazing recipes, but only as a hobby.  What was a hobby then, has become what she does pretty much does full time and she is oh so very good at it!!!  I have never been disappointed when I've tried Sara's recipes and her photographs are almost as yummy as her dishes.  She's also published a beautiful cookbook where you can find her mouthwatering, body nourishing recipes and photos.   So here is Sara's Arugula Caprese Kale Pesto Salad. Buon Appetito!


Adapted from The Sprouted Kitchen Cookbook
This will make more kale pesto than you'll need to dress this salad. It is excellent on eggs, as a sandwich spread, an alternative to pizza sauce, tossed in with some noodles or as a dip. Baby tomatoes are up at the farmers market, I love the sweet 100's, but any ripe baby tomato is just fine here.
  • 1 small bunch Tuscan/lacinato kale
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 cup lightly toasted walnuts
  • handful fresh basil leaves
  • 1/3 cup fresh grated parmesan cheese
  • pinch of red pepper flakes
  • juice of one lemon
  • 3 Tbsp. water
  • sea salt and pepper
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 3/4 lb. baby tomatoes
  • 8 oz. small mozzarella balls (bocconcini or pearline)
  • 3 cups baby arugula
  • flaked sea salt, optional
  • arugula caprese salad with kale pesto . sprouted kitchen
 For the kale pesto, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cut the tough stems from the kale and roughly chop the leaves. Blanch the kale leaves for about 30 seconds, transfer to a strainer and run cold water over them to stop the cooking. Once the kale is cool, squeeze out the excess moisture. This should yield about 1 1/2 cups blanched kale.
In a food processor, combine the garlic, walnuts and pulse to chop. Add the kale, basil, parmesan, red pepper flakes, water, lemon juice, 1/2 tsp. each salt and pepper and pulse to combine. Turn the processor on and drizzle in the olive oil until you get the consistency you like. Thin with a bit more lemon juice and a splash of water for a more dressing-like consistency. Taste and adjust as needed.
Slice the baby tomatoes and mozzarella balls in half and collect them in a large mixing bowl. Add a few spoonfuls of the kale pesto and toss gently to coat, adding desired amount of dressing. Toss in your arugula, add a pinch of flaky sea salt and serve.
Make ahead tip: The tomatoes and mozzarella can be dressed hours in advance and kept covered in the fridge, I actually recommend that they marinate in the pesto for better flavor. Just leave the mix at room temperature for awhile so the pesto dressing will distribute easily. Add arugula just before serving.