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2013 - Kasha
also known as buckwheat, is the signature grain of winter.
It is probably the most unknown and under rated of the whole grains.
Having a creamy texture and a unique robust flavor it can be very
satisfying used in a hearty winter meal. It is a staple food in the
very cold Siberia, also where it originated. Even though it has wheat
in its name, it is not in the wheat family and it is completely
gluten free. Containing the bioflavonoid rutin makes it medicinal
for the capillaries and blood vessels, thus increasing circulation
to the hands and feet. In Oriental medicine it is said to feed and
nurture the kidneys, adrenals, and reproductive organs.
wonderful things about kasha:
- high proportions of all eight essential amino acids
- contains almost the entire range of B-complex vitamins
- 100% more calcium than other grains
- stabilizes blood sugar levels.
have a couple of options when buying kasha. The toasted variety has
been toasted already. It has a nutty taste and cooks quicker than the
untoasted. Kasha that is not toasted is sometimes called raw.
Both are very delicious and can be used to make a morning porridge,
casseroles, soups, stir fries, and patties like the ones in my recipe.
Kasha that is ground into flour is then called buckwheat, which makes
great pancakes. The next time you are at the store pick some up and
try it, it will help keep you warm during the cold winter months.
2013 - Black Beans
the month of love. A great time to strengthen the most important muscle
in our bodies, the heart. To keep our muscles strong we need
to eat protein. The purpose of protein in our diet is to build muscles
and tissue. Beans, which are an excellent source of a plant based protein,
come in a large variety to choose from. Black beans are slightly sweet,
easy to prepare, native to Mexico, and can be used in soups, casseroles,
salads, and they make excellent refried beans. According to Oriental
medicine, they feed and nurture the kidneys and adrenal glands. Your
adrenal glands are very important. They are little glands that sit on
top or your kidneys. Their function is to help you deal with stress.
They get weakened by being too stressed out and consuming too much caffeine
and sugar in our diets.
health benefits of beans are:
isoflavones, can help prevent cancer and heart disease
-Contain phytochemical diosgenin, appears to inhibit cancer cells
-Contains calcium, potassium, iron and zinc
-Contains several B vitamins
have the time, cooking beans from scratch is great. You have to soak
the beans before cooking. I always soak my beans overnight. That way
I know they have soaked for a good 8 hours or more. Then get rid of
the soaking water, that is where the gas from the beans is located.
Start with fresh water and cover the beans. If you pot boil them they
still take a long time, an hour for most, sometimes longer. A quicker
way is to pressure cook them. Once up to pressure, most beans will only
take 15 to 20 minutes to cook. When you cook your beans always use a
little piece of the sea vegetable kombu. It will help you digest the
protein in the beans, which will help eliminate the gas some people
make things quicker I use canned beans in some recipes. If you wanted
to convert, a half cup of dried beans equals 1 (15 oz.) can beans. Eden
beans are the only brand that cook their beans with kombu.
2013 - Tempeh
plant base protein, tempeh has a mild flavor and a great chewy texture.
It originates form Indonesia and they have been enjoying it for centuries.
It is made by covering soybeans with boiling water and letting them
sit over night. Then the soybeans are hulled and partially cooked. Once
the soybeans have cooled they are incubated with a starter culture so
they can ferment. This fermenting process is important because the beans
are bonded together with the mold mycelium, which provides a natural
antibiotic which supports your immune system. Also being a fermented
food, tempeh is easier to digest than some other beans. Tempeh by itself
has no flavor, it takes on whatever flavor you choose by how you season
the dish you are making. Many vegetarians use tempeh as a meat substitute
because you can season and brown it similar to meat.
five thousand year old texts that describe soybeans as being one of
the most important crops. Our ancestors knew what a great food they
had. Soybeans contain many B vitamins, have easily absorbable iron,
improve circulation, and support detoxification. They also contain many
anti cancer properties: Genistein may stop the spread of some
forms of cancer at an early stage, Protease Inhibitors may block
the action of cancer causing enzymes and Phytic acids which inhibit
the growth of tumors. Soybeans contain phyto-estrogen or isoflavones.
There has been much confusion about this substance in soybeans. Isoflavones
help to balance your estrogen levels in your body, they do not disrupt
them. In China, where they have been eating soy foods for thousands
of years, until recently, they did not even have a word for hot flashes.
These isoflavones also have been credited with slowing the effects of
osteoporosis, relieving some side effects of menopause, alleviating
some side effects of cance,r and can dramatically lower undesirable
have been made into tempeh, it is 19.5% protein. And it is a
complete protein, containing all eight essential amino acids. When buying
tempeh and other soy products, always buy organic. It is , right now,
our only way to have some kind of insurance that the soybeans have not
been genetically altered. You will find tempeh in the refrigerator or
freezer section of the grocery or health food store.
2013 - Cooking with Spring Time Barley
to The Five Transformations of Energy (the ancient study
of the energy of nature and how it relates to us), we are entering the
Spring - Tree energy phase. This is the time of year when we
become more active, go outside, and reawaken after the more sedentary
winter energy phase. Our bodies go through a natural cleansing at this
time of year. It is easy to see how the organs associated with this
phase are the liver, gallbladder, and nervous system, the organs
that are associated with detoxing the body. The liver and gallbladder
are primarily responsible for purifying the blood. When these organs
are working properly they neutralize poisons and toxins and remove them
from the blood. The liver also regulates the release of sugars into
the body for fuel. If the liver is overtaxed from the over consumption
of dense fatty foods such as dairy, it can not properly give the body
energy. To make sure these important organs are working properly we
can incorporate the signature foods for this energy phase.
grains for spring are barley, wheat, rye, and oats. If
you have gluten sensitivities you might have an imbalance in this energy
phase. You can concentrate on the gluten free foods of this phase;
green lentils, split peas, black eyed peas, peanuts, parsley, lettuces,
green beans, and green peas. The signature flavor of spring is sour.
You can get this flavor in your diet by eating naturally fermented foods,
sauerkraut, sour dough breads, and using lemons or limes to flavor dishes.
This sour flavor lightens up our energy and awakens our taste buds,
that have spent the winter enjoying more salty foods.
have an imbalance in this energy phase it can show itself in your physical
body as well as your emotional body. If you have excess or aggravated
tree energy, you may have anger issues. It could show up in sharp hand
gestures, having a loud voice, or being easily irritated by others.
If you feel very creative but are frustrated about your inability to
express yourself, you may want to start incorporating these foods in
your diet. They will uplift your energy and clean out the stored frustrations
(toxins) that have accumulated in your body over time. Less common,
but still a condition is deficient tree energy, you may experience lack
of decision making skills, move slowly, and experience a loss of initiative.
is the whole grain known for cleansing the body. It is one of the oldest
grains originating in Southwest Asia around 8500 B.C. Roasted barley
was one of the main food of the gladiators because it gives tremendous
strength when eaten. Known for strengthening the blood and intestines,
barley contains potassium, iron, calcium, protein, and fiber. When buying
barley, look for whole barley. Pearl barley has the bran polished off,
which loses the fiber and other nutrients. Barley is excellent for soups,
stews, salads, and added to vegetable dishes. It has a chewy, creamy
texture, and a nice sweet taste. If you have gluten sensitivities, substitute
brown rice for any recipe using barley.
2013 - Sauerkraut
is a form of naturally fermented food. All of our ancestors, wherever
they came from, ate some kind of naturally fermented foods. It was the
way they preserved their food. Archeologists have even found evidence
that during our hunter/gatherer stage of development, people fermented
a plant similar to cabbage. The Chinese have been fermenting cabbage
for 6000 years and using the sauerkraut juice to treat various medical
aliments. To create sauerkraut or any other naturally fermented food,
you need three things; salt, pressure, and time. When you have these
three things and cabbage you create enzymes, amino acids, and lactic
acid. Having a harmonizing effect on the stomach, this lactic acid bacteria
prevents decay in the food and also in your bowels. Acetylcholine is
also created in fermentation, which stimulates the peristaltic movement
of the intestines. Which is why sauerkraut is such a great food for
sauerkraut use good quality sea salt. There is a huge difference in
taste and how it reacts in your body. Whether you buy sauerkraut or
make it, there should never be vinegar in the ingredients. Vinegar speeds
up the fermentation process. Only cabbage, sea salt, and maybe some
other vegetables, but nothing else, in the ingredients. It is made by
first shredding the cabbage. You then place the cabbage a large crock
and pound the cabbage with a wooden mallet. This releases the natural
juices from the cabbage. You add sea salt and continue to create layers
this way until the crock is almost full. A weight has to be put on top
of the cabbage to give pressure. The liquid must cover the cabbage in
order for it to ferment correctly. If you decide to make it at home,
you will need a cool place for it to sit for 4 to 6 weeks. I suggest
you take a class on how to properly make sauerkraut.
also has the unique ability to satisfy four of the five tastes. You
have five tastes; sweet, salty, bitter, pungent, and sour. When you
sit down to eat, if you satisfy all five tastes, you can eliminate cravings.
Sauerkraut is sour, pungent, bitter, and salty. The only one it is not
is sweet. And the sweet taste is the easiest to satisfy. All whole grains
and vegetables are sweet. You should have a little sauerkraut or naturally
fermented food at every meal to help satisfy all five tastes.
2013 - Asparagus
summer time and time to grill! Grilling can be a part of a healthy lifestyle
and you can enjoy all the great taste without any guilt. By choosing
to grill vegetables you have a great variety to choose from and your
dish will be colorful, flavorful and fun to eat. My favorite and one
of the most popular to grill is asparagus. An ancient plant, it can
be dated back to the reptile age when ferns were the dominate plants.
It is very unique in that it has two distinct types, male and female.
The male spears are skinny and the female plump. Taste does not depend
on the sex of the plant, rather on the freshness. Look for green shoots
that are firm and not wilted. When cooking with asparagus, you will
have to cut the bottom 2 inches off of the spears. They are usually
fibrous and not appealing to eat. The correct way to know how much to
get rid of at the end of the spear is to hold the stalk by each end
and bend until it breaks. You can use the fibrous part to make soup
its energetic healing properties for the female reproductive system,
asparagus can help increase lactation, relieve menstrual pains, promote
fertility and strengthen female hormones. According to the National
Cancer Institute, asparagus is highest in a strong anticarcinogen known
as glutathione. Also containing rutin, this power packed
green spear, can help small blood vessels from rupturing and is an antidote
against X rays and radiation. It contains a good amount of vitamins
A, B-complex, C and E, potassium and zinc.
vegetables I use a large cast iron skillet on my grill. The skillet
makes it easier to cook the vegetables without having to worry about
losing some of them through the grill. Also as the vegetables are being
grilled you can add some of the marinade as it cooks to add more flavor
to the dish.
2013 - Blueberries
favorite month of the year. It is sunny, hot, the month we celebrate
our independence, the month I was born, and the month blueberries are
ripe. By far my favorite fruit, blueberries are packed full of sweet
flavor and nutrition. If you want to experience a little gift from heaven,
eat wild blueberries. While enjoying the beautiful Upper Peninsula (which
I go to as often as possible) you can find them growing all over the
place in sandy areas. They are smaller then the cultivated variety and
they grow very close to the ground, but are they full of flavor. I made
this recipe with wild blueberries one year and I am still dreaming about
the incredible flavor.
are not fortunate enough to get the wild kind, the next best thing is
organic blueberries. The ones sprayed with chemicals can have a bitter
taste. Most stores carry frozen organic ones all year. The fresh ones
are available during the summer months. Look for plump, firm berries
without mashed or moldy ones in the bunch. Blueberries are abundant
in vitamin C, a natural anti-oxidant. Containing manganese and vitamin
A, they are medicinal for the blood and liver. They contain bacteria
fighting capabilities, useful in countering urinary-tract infections.
my birthday in July, I like to make my favorite dessert,
Blueberry Pie. The most challenging thing about making a pie is creating
the perfect crust.
the crust has to be cold to roll out properly. Give yourself enough
time to refrigerate the dough before rolling out the crust.
you have to choose the correct flour. I prefer spelt flour. It has a
nice smooth texture and moisture content and not as heavy as whole wheat
flour. Spelt being in the wheat family does have gluten. However, some
people with gluten sensitivities have no problem with spelt because
it is an ancient type of wheat. If you want a gluten free crust you
can use oat flour.
you have to make sure the dough is wet enough to hold together but not
so dry it falls apart. Pie crust dough can be very particular. You can
use the same recipe, one day it is too dry and the next it is too wet.
I have found the dough is forgiving, in that you can add more flour
or water when needed to create the perfect consistency. The best way
to roll out the crust is in between two pieces of plastic wrap. That
way you can see how the crust looks as you roll it out and it does not
stick to the wrap. Also you can pick the crust up, making it easier
to get it into the pie shell.
2013 - Amaranth
should I eat for breakfast? a question I am asked all the time.
My answer is always the same, soup. I usually get strange looks for
my answer because in our culture is seems foreign. Our culture is use
to sweet foods for breakfast, sugar cereal, muffins or donuts. Although
these choices can be an occasional treat, a staple breakfast should
be more nutritional. Traditional cultures eat leftovers, soups, or a
whole grain gruel for the first meal of the day. It is easy to make
soups and you can put all kind of different vegetables, whole grains
and beans in a breakfast soup. All the foods you need to get you started
on a healthy day.
is a good whole grain to put in your soups because it will help thicken
the soup. And being one of the signature whole grains of the summer
time it will not impart heat when eaten every day. Amaranth was the
sacred food of the Aztecs. It is so nutrient dense wherever it is consumed
there is no malnutrition. Very high in calcium and protein, it is classified
as a whole grain which means it gives you energy by releasing glucose
very slowly into your system. Amaranth is a member of the goosefoot
family related to quinoa.
It is the smallest of the whole grains and one plant can produce up
to 50 thousand seeds. Because it is so small it can be difficult to
cook and be enjoyed. I find it combines very well with other grains,
quinoa in particular. When amaranth cooks up it becomes very creamy,
almost gummy, and tends to have a thick consistency. When you put it
in soups it thicken the soup and adds a sweet nutty taste. I suggest
you make a big pot of soup one day a week when you have time and then
you will have it made for breakfast all week.
2013 - Rutabaga
such a funny vegetable. It looks weird and the name sounds weird. But
do not let its strangeness deter you from enjoying this wonderful
root vegetable. If you are like me, most of us are familiar with the
conventionally grown version of rutabaga. The one that is large, hard
to cut, and has a thick coating of wax over the whole thing. But that
is not the rutabaga I am talking about here. I tell people, if you have
never had an organic rutabaga, then you have never truly had a rutabaga.
The difference in taste and texture is dramatic. Organic rutabagas are
sweet and creamy when cooked. They are round, with a yellowish color
with a purple top to them. Similar looking to a turnip. however organic
rutabagas are sweeter than turnips.
belongs in a category of food that is very important in your diet called
root vegetables. These root vegetables, just as the name implies,
are the root of the plant. Energetically this is very important. The
more denser root part of the plant is compact and has a downward movement,
considered yang energy. The yang energy is your strengthening
energy. It helps build your core to be strong. I observe that many people
miss this category of strengthening, yang energy foods in their diets.
Most people like the more yin, grows on top of the ground vegetables.
(Lettuces, kale, collards, broccoli, cauliflower, peppers and tomatoes.)
To create health and longevity in the body we need to consume both yin
and yang energy foods. Balance is the key to health.
are high in anticarcinogenic properties, vitamins, A, B, C, potassium,
phosphorus, and calcium. They help aid in digestion and help detoxify
the body. Rutabagas also feed and nurture the spleen, pancreas and stomach.
2013 - Ginger & Lotus Root
all its magical colors is here. According to the Five Transformations
Of Energy (the ancient study of how nature related to us) this is
the time of year when we feed and nurture our lungs and large intestines.
These organs represent the seat of our strength. Without being able
to breath and assimilate our food we could not live. The signature whole
grain for this season is brown rice. And the bean is soybeans,
which are mostly eaten in the form of tofu, tempeh, and miso. And the
signature flavor is pungent. Any food that has a pungent flavor feeds
the lungs and large intestines. Some examples of pungent foods would
be; garlic, raw onions, radishes, daikon, and ginger. The emotions that
are associated with this energy phase are optimism and self discipline.
Let's look at two foods associated with this energy phase, ginger root
and lotus root.
is native to South Eastern Asia. There are ancient texts that mention
ginger from China and India. Well known for it being effective in treating
motion sickness and nausea, it can also relieve heart burn. Most interesting
is ginger's strong anti-inflammatory properties. It contains a compound
called gingerols which can help relieve the pain from arthritis.
Recently there have been some studies about ginger's effectiveness with
treating both overian and colon cancer. When buying ginger, look for
pieces that are not dried out. Once you have brought it home, the best
way to store it is in a brown paper bag in the refrigerator.
is a rhizome that grows in the mud of tropical ponds. It is the root
of the pink flower that is the Buddhist symbol of enlightenment. When
you buy it in the store, if fresh, it has a brown skin and is white
inside. To cook with it you need to peel the lotus root. Fresh is sometimes
hard to find, you can get it packed in water also. The skin has been
removed when packed, and it looks like a fat, white cucumber. What makes
lotus root so unique is inside the root it has hollow chambers that
run the length of the root. When you cut it open it looks like lace.
In Chinese medicine they say if a food that you eat looks like a particular
organ of the body, it feeds that organ. The lotus root resembles the
lungs. Lotus has been used for thousands of years to treat lung problems.
It is high in fiber, contains vitamins C and B complex. Lotus root also
increases energy and neutralizes toxins so your body can flush them
2013 - Sweet Potato
holiday time. Time for some festive decorations, family get together's,
and, of course, great desserts! We all crave the sweet taste and smell
of our favorite holiday dessert. Just because you are now eating healthier,
it does not mean you can not enjoy the sweets at this time of year.
Sweet potato has a natural sweetness that helps create a mouth watering
dessert. Most people do not know this, but the white potato, the sweet
potato, and the yam are three completely different plants, not related.
White potatoes are nightshade vegetables and not recommended for people
with arthritis and fibormayalgia. Yams are native to Africa and are
white, ivory, cream, pink or purple, while sweet potatoes are yellow,
reddish, or orange. Sweet potatoes are rich in antioxidants, calcium,
vitamins A and C. Known for feeding and nurturing the spleen, pancreas,
and stomach, they also help quench thirst and lubricate dry conditions.
trickiest part of making holiday pies is the crust. To make a good
crust it should be flaky, light, and moist. For those who are gluten
sensitive, I have chosen to use oat flour. Another flour that works very
well is spelt. Spelt is an ancient form of wheat. It does contain gluten,
but has not been tampered with like the wheat berry. Another great tip
is to use ground nuts in your crust. It adds a layer of moistness without
adding more liquid fat. To ensure that you can roll out your crust, it
must be cold. Attempting to roll out a warm crust is like putting peanut
butter on your hands and not having it stick. When the crust dough is
cold it will not stick to the plastic wrap and it will hold together so
you can pick it up and put it in the pie shell.
you may not be familiar with is the amasake. A natural
sweetener that will not spike you blood sugar level. It is made from
fermented brown rice and sold in the frozen section of health food store.
It is thick like a shake, good right out of the container, and adds
another layer of creamy sweetness to the pie. Enjoy and Happy Holiday!
2013 - Brown Rice Syrup
what is my favorite sweetener to use I always answer, brown rice
syrup. Unfortunately most people have not heard of it, which makes
it the best kept, health food secret. I make all kinds of desserts with
brown rice syrup, from cookies, cakes, and pies, to candies, fudge,
jams, and so much more. As the name implies, it is made from brown rice,
which is a whole grain, complex carbohydrate, a staple in all of our
ancestor's diet. The brown rice syrup is produced when naturally occurring
enzymes convert the starch in the grain to sugar. The process retains
the vitamin and mineral content of the brown rice. And being made from
a complex carbohydrate, the sugar that is produced is maltose. Maltose
is the least reactive sugar there is, it releases slowly into your blood
stream. Unlike white sugar or sucrose which releases very quickly into
the blood stream and reeks havoc with all the organs in your body. Brown
rice syrup and the maltose in the syrup will not spike your blood sugar.
For that reason it is considered the healthiest sweetener.
a mild sweet taste that is satisfying. However, if you have been using
sweeteners that are very sweet, it may not be sweet enough for you at
first. If you stick with the brown rice syrup, it will taste sweet after
you give up all those intensely sweet foods that are not good for you.
You will find it in a jar at you local health food store, or even some
main stream grocery stores now carry it. It is thick and sticky like
it, coat your measuring cup and spatula with a little oil and the syrup
will slid right off instead of sticking.