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Foods of the Month 2018

January - Three Easy Steps to Take to Eat Healthy in 2018
February - Heart Healthy Foods
March - Soy     April - Cooking For Spring    May - Quinoa
June - Basil    July -Cooking with Kids   August - Fruit!
September - Zucchini   October - Miso
November - Holiday Cooking   December -
History of Shortbread

January - Three Easy Steps to Take to Eat Healthy in 2018

There are many things that you can do to create a healthy lifestyle. To make it more simple I will suggest three easy starting steps for you to implement. When you decide to change your life by eating a whole foods diet, you will experience many positive things,such as; more energy, weight loss, a reduction or elimination of pain, high cholesterol going down, high blood pressure going down, blood sugar levels stabilizing, clearer mental thoughts, relief from depression, overcoming diseases, and that is just some. Everyone is different, and there are no guarantees, however, you will experience many positive effects such as listed. Here are the first three things I suggest everyone implements in their life to start on their journey.

1. Eat WHOLE GRAINS! Three times a day. Seven days a week. Brown rice is the easiest and best one to start to eat every day. Whole grains are full of vitamins, mineral, and phytochemicals that are essential for the human body. All of our ancestors, no matter where you came from, had a diet based around whole grains. It is what is missing in the average American diet. Start eating whole grains every day and you will see a huge difference in the way you feel.

2. Eat BEANS! Beans, the protein food your body is craving! Full of vitamins, especially B vitamins, phytonutrients that help fight off diseases. Beans are very high in fiber, that cleans out your intestinal tract and your whole body, to help you detox the toxins in your body.

3. Replace white sugar with BROWN RICE SYRUP! White sugar should be eliminated in our diets. It is very disruptive to the whole human body. (I will not even call it food, because it is not.) White sugar feeds inflammation, which is why most people have pain. It also; wreaks havoc with our blood sugar, suppresses our immune system, raises our cholesterol, and is addictive. One of the worse things it does is ruins our taste. When you consume very sweet foods, (sugar), you dull your taste buds and can not really taste your food. Just replace BROWN RICE SYRUP for white sugar in everything you eat. Not just desserts, but for sauces, dressings, flavorings, breakfast, what you put in your coffee or tea. It is very easy to do, and you will see dramatic results.


February - Heart Healthy Foods

We celebrate Valentine's Day in February and celebrate our loved ones, who are symbolized by the heart. To help keep your heart healthy and working the best it can, we can eat a variety of wonderfully delicious foods.

Quinoa, Amaranth, and Corn are the signature whole grains that help support the heart. All these whole grains are small and quick cooking, they impart stamina and an abundance of energy to your body. Foods that have a bitter taste are known to feed and nurture the heart. Such as; kale, collards, parsley, dandelion greens, walnuts, sprouts, and beets. High fiber fruits can be beneficial to the heart also, peaches, blueberries and strawberries.

Protein foods are known to build and strengthen your muscles. And the heart is the biggest muscle in your body. Beans are excellent protein foods containing potassium, calcium, and B vitamins. Also beans are very high in fiber, all very beneficial for the heart. Tempeh is made with fermented soy beans and one very tasty addition to any snack or main course dish.

Sweet potatoes with their signature dark reddish color can make very colorful dishes to celebrate Valentine.s day. And sweet potatoes have many health benefits for the heart also. High in fiber, potassium, pantothonic acid, manganese, iron, vitamin C, A and B2.

March - Soy

Often while teaching a cooking class I get asked if soy food is good for you? I believe there is a lot of misleading information that causes many people to become confused. When considering what foods are good for us and what may not be, I look to history. If a food has been eaten for a long time, and with no problems, we can know it is safe for us to eat. Such is the case with soy. Five thousand year old texts describe soybeans as being one of the most important crops grown. Miso, fermented soybeans, has been eaten since 2,500 years ago in China. And tempeh has been eaten for centuries in Indonesia. If there was something wrong with this food, it would have been discovered a long time ago.

Soybeans have many anticancer properties:

  • Genistein may stop the spread of some forms of cancer at an early stage
  • Protease Inhibitors, universal anti-carcinogen and may block the action of cancer
    causing enzymes
  • Phytic acids, inhibit growth of tumors

Soybeans have easily absorbable iron, many B vitamins, carotin, support
detoxification, promote vitality and feed and nurture the lungs and large intestines. Soybeans made into tofu are high in calcium. When made into tempeh it is 19.5% protein. Containing all eight essential amino acids, it is a complete protein. When made into miso it has 11 g. of complete protein in 1 T. And by fermenting it to make the miso, the healing properties are enhanced. Miso is a living food containing lactobacillus, a healthful micro organism that aids in digestion. There are so many wonderful health benefits from soy foods, I can see why we have been eating it for thousands of years.

I feel there is a lot of confusion about the plant based phyto-estrogen, isoflavones in soybeans. This part of the bean does not disrupt your estrogen levels, it balances them. If you are too low, it raises them, it you are too high it lowers them. These isoflavones also have been credited with slowing the effects of osteoporosis, relieving some side effects of menopause, and alleviating some side effects of cancer. Not to mention it has been shown to dramatically lower the undesirable L.D.L. cholesterol. It is interesting that in China, where they eat soybean products such as tofu, tempeh, and miso everyday, that until recently they did not have a word in their language for hot flashes. Of course now, because they have introduced our highly refined and processed way of eating into their culture, that is changing. Also many times a women is told by her doctor to take photo-estrogen pills, for whatever reason. Why not get it from your food instead of a pill?

I do want to say that when buying soybean foods, you must buy organic. It is, right now, our only way to have some kind of insurance that the soybeans have not been genetically altered. And eat the soy foods that have stood the test of time: tofu, tempeh, miso, tamari, and shoyu. Just like any other food, if it has been refined or processed some of the nutritional quality will suffer.

I know there are articles and books out there that give soybeans a bad rep. They quote studies that say it is harmful. And I have come to the conclusion these studies are not reliable. Soybeans have been studied probably more then any other health food. So it is easy to pick only a handful of negative studies, if that is what will profit you, and ignore the majority of favorable studies. And most of these studies are done on animals, usually mice or rats. These animals are feed high amounts of the isoflavones isolated, not the whole soybean. Also they are feed a large amount that is much more then a human would eat. And human bodies assimilate differently then mice, so the reaction can not be compared. Every one of these that I have seen, excludes the foods I mention above and have been eaten for thousands of years. Our epidemic of sickness does not come from food that has been eaten for thousands of years. It is from our culture of fast foods, processed foods, microwaved foods, refined foods and the huge amount of stress we live with everyday. Also from the absurd notion, more is better. For instance, if you drink three quarts of soy milk a day, you are going to have some reaction. (This was actually one study that came to the conclusion soy is bad.) That is way too much of any one food to be consuming. I do not care if it is cow’s milk, goat’s milk, almond milk, rice milk, or soy milk.

Do some research and decide for yourself. But I would not pay any attention to studies done on animals and studies done with huge amount of soy consumed. Up until recently, China had one of the lowest rates of cancer. One of their main food sources is soy and has been for thousands of years. If there was any link with eating soy and getting cancer, don’t you think the Chinese would have been dying form cancer long before this. (Common sense!) And lastly I would like to point out there are huge multi billion dollar
industries that would not want to lose there business to a wonderful, high protein plant based food source. Maybe some of these multi billion dollar industry sponsored the research?

April - Cooking For Spring

According to the Five Transformation of Energy, which is the ancient study of the energy of food, how it relates to the seasons, and how it feeds and nurtures our bodies, emphasizes the foods available at that particular time of year. These are the ideal foods that our ancestors had available to them. When we lived close to nature we knew how to nurture our bodies with the local available foods. The Spring Time, when everything is growing and coming to life again, is known as the Tree Energy phase. Spring is when we feed and nurture our liver, gallbladder, and nervous system. The main job of these organs is to purify the blood. The liver, in particular, is the main detoxification organ of the body. In spring time your body goes through a natural cleansing process.

We go from eating denser, fatty foods in the winter time to keep us warmer, to eating much lighter foods for spring and summer. It is a good time for the body to naturally detoxify itself. By eating foods available and associated with the spring time, we assist our body as it does this process of detoxification. The signature taste for spring is sour. The sour flavor animates the liver, gallbladder, and nervous system. When we eat naturally sour foods we are feeding and nurturing these organs. Naturally sour foods consist of foods that make your mouth pucker. Such as: lemons, limes, plums, pomegranates, sauerkraut, and naturally fermented pickles. The signature whole grains for spring are: barley, oats, rye and wheat. These grains are some of the oldest known grains eaten by humans. They have a strong cleansing properties to them, assisting your body to do it naturally. Just like the plants that are opening this time of year, these whole grains have the energy of opening and dispersing, moving energy thorough our bodies. These whole grains help the energy flowing through your body, so we do not become stagnant and un-moving.

Here are some more Tree Energy foods associated with the Spring time: black eyed peas, lentils, split peas, green beans, asparagus, lettuce, peas, endive, parsley and olives.

The emotions associated with the Tree Energy phase are: optimism, patience, and being carefree. If you find that you have a general optimistic outlook on life, are fairly patient, and can live life in a care-free way, you are balanced in this energy phase. If, however, you are having some issues these emotions, you may want to start incorporating more of these Spring foods in your diet.

May - Quinoa

Quinoa (pronounced 'keen-wa') was the mother grain of the Incas. They considered it sacred and held ceremonies honoring quinoa. In South America, in the high altitudes of the Andes mountains, quinoa has been grown harvested and eaten since at least 3,000 B.C. Because of its hardiness, being able to survive at such high altitudes, quinoa is considered a strengthening food.

Although botanically quinoa is a fruit, we classify it as a whole grain. In fact, quinoa is the signature whole grain for summer time. As one of the easiest whole grains to digest, it gives us a tremendous amount of energy to be able to be very active in the summertime. Quinoa is high in calcium, phosphorus, iron, vitamin E, magnesium, and manganese and is a complete protein. Quinoa is high in quercetin and kaempferol, two flavonoids that have anti-inflammatory, anti- viral, anti-cancer and anti-depressant properties.
Quinoa cooks up quickly and has a nutty flavor, making it ideal for creating cold salads, perfect for a summer meal.

June- Basil

Basil is a herb that is a member of the tropical genus, Ocimum, which originated in Africa and was domesticated in India. Mostly thought of as an Italian or Mediterranean herb, basil first came to those places through ancient spice routes from India. Basil is frequently referred to as the King of herbs.

Basil is full of health benefits. Basil contains Vitamin K, which is essential for blood clotting. Basil is high in antioxidants, and contains anti inflammatory, anti bacterial, and anti microbial properties that can help fight viruses and infections. Basil can help promote cardiovascular health, help fight depression, and can help combat stress because it acts like an adoptogen.

Basil has a wonderful aroma and a mellow, pungent, bitter taste that can lend tremendous flavor to any dish. Basil has the unique property of being a natural mosquito repellent. If you don't want to be bothered by mosquitos, eat plenty of basil and they will stay away.

July -Cooking with Kids

In 2016 and 2017 I taught cooking classes for the after school program Bright Futures, for the Wayne-Westland School district in Michigan. The recipes in this cookbook were all the recipes I taught the kids. I taught third grade through high school students. The recipes are intended to be used with some adult supervision, age appropriate to how much assistance they will need. My intention for this cookbook is to get kids excited about learning how to cook healthy dishes.

The first thing I did while teaching the kids is ask what they would like to learn how to cook. I was surprised they suggested recipes such as Sushi and Pasta Primavera. I was not surprised by the suggestions of Pizza and Tacos. I was forthright while educating the kids, that all the recipes are vegan. The younger kids had so many questions about what is and what is not vegan. And when I taught the older kids there were some that were vegetarian, vegan, and gluten free. Another surprise I had was the kid's taste for spicy food. I prefer mild spice, however, the majority of the kids would have liked the food to be spicier.

The best thing about teaching the kids was the pure joy and excitement they have for working with the food, even the foods that were unfamiliar. Adults can learn from the kids. The kids were so open and willing to try anything. Some adults I have taught are actually afraid to taste unfamiliar foods. The kids loved Nori, Sushi Pickles, Tofu Fries, the Vegan Meat Substitutes in the Pizza and Tacos, and the Vegan Ice Cream in the Smoothies.

August - Fruit!

Fruit is cooling to the body, and can help keep your body temperature cool during the hot summer days. The high water content of fruit keeps you hydrated and cool. Nature has a way of working perfectly, such as supplying us with the food that is ideal for you at different seasons. Fruit is available fresh right now, so we should be eating it right now. As opposed to the winter, when fresh fruit is not available from nature. (I am not referring to what is sold in grocery stores, I am referring to what nature provides for us during a particular season.)

Michigan has an abundance of berries that grow wild. If you can find wild berries make sure to try some, you will not be disappointed. Wild grown fruit is not sprayed. Organic fruit is not sprayed. If it says 'local' fruit it may be sprayed. Local just refers to the fact that it is grown local. You would have to ask the farmer who grew it if it was sprayed.

Cherries are an excellent source of iron, contain vitamin A, calcium, phosphorus, and potassium. They can increase your vital energy and are considered a warming food. Therapeutic for gout and numbness in the extremities because they remove excess body acids and blood stagnation. Cherries are related to the plum, which has been eaten since prehistoric times.

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.

Blackberries are so colorful and full of flavor, you just have to have them in your next dessert. They are rich in vitamin C, and very high in fiber. Blackberries can be useful in the treatment of hemorrhoids, dysentery and diarrhea because of their astringent and diuretic properties

September - Zucchini

Anyone who has a garden knows that zucchini is one of the easiest vegetables to grow. However then when the are ripe, you are usually overwhelmed with the abundance you receive from the plant. Which leaves you wondering how can I use all these zucchini in my cooking? Zucchini is very versatile and can be used in everything from salads, soups, grilled outdoors, grated in desserts, and sliced thin to imitate pasta. Sauteing the zucchini can be a great option because it brings out the naturally sweet flavor of the vegetable.

Zucchini is in the gourd family along with cucumbers and squash. All zucchini are squashes, but not all squashes are zucchini. The word zucchini come from Italian word zucchino, which means small squash. The variety of zucchini that is most common and best known today is from a summer squash developed in the 2nd half of the 19th century, from Italy.

Nutritionally sound, the zucchini is high in fiber, Vitamin B6, C, K, A, niacin, potassium, magnesium, folate, and phosphorus. Zucchini has anti inflammatory properties and contains antioxidants. Because of zucchini's high potassium levels it is great for your heart, and helps regulate healthy blood pressure and combats the effects of too much sodium in the diet.

October - Miso

Miso is fermented soy bean paste. It has a salty taste and is used to season dishes such as soups, sauces, and stews. It is a living food, containing lactobacillus, which is a healthful micor-organisms to help aid in digestion. Miso contains many minerals and vitamins including B12. There are 11 g. of protein in 1 tablespoon of dark miso and it is a compete protein containing all eight essential amino acids.

The soybean has been cultivated for about 2,500 years and for good reason. These wonderful beans contain iron, carotene, niacin, vitamins B and B2. They promote clear vision and vitality, as well as improve circulation and support detoxification. Along with all these wonderful traits, soybeans also have isoflavones, which are similar to a natural estrogen that may help prevent hot flashes.

They also contain genistein, which helps prevent heart disease and may stop the spread of some cancers in their early stages. These power packed beans contain protease inhibitors that are a universal anti-carcinogen and may block the action of cancer causing enzymes. And if that is not enough reason to start enjoying these wondrous beans, they also contain phytic acids that inhibit the growth of tumors.


November - Holiday Cooking

Holiday cooking is upon us again and, for some people, it can be challenging to remain true to your healthy lifestyle during this decedent, rich culinary time of year. I have spent the last 21 years creating and perfecting standard holiday dishes that I now cook with a healthy flare.

Some rules of thumb to remember when you are first starting out on your healthy holiday menu is keep it simple. You do not want to over whelm yourself at first, so stick to what you know. If you have a recipe that you make on a regular basis do not discount it just because you think it is not special enough for the holidays. You can spruce up the recipe to make it more rich for the holiday dinner table, such as adding a little more fat. Good quality fats, such as olive oil or tahini, can be added to most recipes to create a richer taste.

Adding a little extra spices to your dishes can also make them special for the holidays. Sage is the signature spice for stuffing and can be added to any brown rice or millet dish you are creating for the holidays. Thyme and rosemary are also great spices to add to your dishes, and all three taste very good together. Also adding nuts, such as walnuts or pecans, imparts wonderful flavor and texture to dishes making them richer and extra special for the holidays.

December - History of Shortbread

Shortbread began in Medieval times as left over dough from many breads was dried out in a low temperature oven until it hardened. Scotland is usually created with the origination of Shortbread as we have come to know it as a crispy, lightly sweet, biscuit cookie.

Traditionally large amount of butter was used to make Shortbread. When referring to biscuits and pastry the fat used is called shortening, coming from the Short in Shortbread.

When I was a kid, I loved Shortbread. I learned how to make it with butter, superfine sugar, and flour. When I changed my diet to become vegan, organic, and macrobiotic, I changed the ingredients in my Shortbread recipe. I use Earth Balance, buttery spread instead of butter, brown rice syrup and maple syrup instead of sugar and whole grain flours instead of white refined flour. I press my cookie dough in to a cookie sheet and create thin, crispy cookies. You can press it in to a 9 inch round cake pan, cut it in wedges and have a thicker cookie.


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