Learn how to make kale chips with hosts Mitchell and Claudia!
If you know someone who tends to be moody, you may want to ask them what they’ve been eating! You may know someone who seems happy and light-hearted one day, and the very next, dark, sharp, cranky and maybe even mean. Research shows that aracadonic acid, mostly found in chicken and eggs, can actually negatively alter mood by causing inflammation in the brain. You can check that out here:
A while back my penpal, Lois, who has started a fantastic site called “Wowfornow” asked me to write a little blurb on how we might use food to help us heal emotionally. When I wrote it I had no idea that there was science behind what we eat and how we feel, beyond the obvious feeling well and therefore feeling happy! Perspective, which counts for a lot, can influence how we feel. I did read once that red meat consumption is associated with anger, but I couldn’t tell you if that was actually science… Anyway here is what I wrote:
How food can help to heal
Food. We have this incredibly intimate relationship with food. Several times a day we put the stuff into ourselves. It travels to every cell of our body, some food providing benefits, some causing trouble. We often don’t think about food as a means to nourish our cells and ourselves, we think of it in many other ways. Food feeds our hunger, which doesn’t always coincide with an empty stomach. Food has so much meaning for us beyond nourishing our bodies. Food is cultural, familial, traditional. Food is comfort, punishment, freedom, enjoyment. Food is a memory, a friend and an enemy. We eat for a multitude of reasons: to feed our bodies, but too often, for other reasons as well.
At times of sadness or grief, food takes on a particularly curious role. For some, food is something we might deny ourselves, something we can’t face or feel we don’t deserve. Sometimes we just don’t feel like eating at all. For others food is support, comfort and something to ease the pain.
When we grieve, our hearts ache, our bodies ache, and our entire being is engulfed in the sorrow we feel. It is true, I think, that at these times, we don’t consider preparing a salad with a variety of lettuces, some tomato and cucumber and other healthy vegetables. We don’t think of reaching for berries, making ourselves a healthy, homemade soup from scratch, or blending a kale smoothie. I believe, for most, during these saddest of times, we eat just to get through, which means something different for each of us. Yet if we think a little differently about what we eat and why we eat it, food can be part of our healing process.
During times of sadness, we often ignore our human needs. Yet, this is the time to take extra care to nurture ourselves. It is the ultimate time for self care. I don’t mean that you should hit the gym or go to the spa. I mean it is time to be good to yourself. Sleep if you are tired, cry if you need to cry, and feel angry if you need to feel that way. Seen from a new perspective, food can nourish us in a new way as we heal. Feeding ourselves can be a part of our self care. What we choose to eat can have an enormous affect on our own health and as well, on the greater “whole”. We can heal with a new consciousness; a new awareness that our choices can be empowering beyond the effects on our bodies. As we find peace within, we can contribute to peace beyond ourselves.
Here is what we know about food today. Eating whole, plant-based foods can prevent and reverse the diseases that kill most of us living in the western world. Most diseases afflicting us are rooted in the standard western diet, which includes meat, dairy products, eggs and heavily processed foods. There is more. Animal agriculture is the leading cause of global warming and animals raised for food are exempt from all laws in place to protect animals. Each time we choose chicken, a creature dies. Each time we choose milk, yoghurt or cheese, we take milk intended for an infant that its mother never gets to nurture. What if, in the times of our deepest sorrow, we chose foods that consider our health, our planet and our fellow creatures? What if we decide to cause no harm to ourselves, to our earth or any animal? Could this help us find greater peace within ourselves?
The peace we seek to mend our hearts can be found in the simple acts we participate in throughout the day. When we seek peace and refuge we can find it in the choices we make. One choice we make several times a day is what we eat. Choosing plant-based foods helps us to make peace within, for our health and our healing, for animals whose lives are taken and for our great earth which is in peril. When we choose tomato soup over pulled pork, peanut butter and jam over egg salad, tofu over chicken, we choose compassion, conscientiousness, self care and peace. This greater level of consciousness is empowering. It gives us strength and allows us to find peace within as we make peace with our fellow earthlings and our earth.
We are all interconnected. The choices we make have an impact beyond the effects on our own body. When we make choices that are in keeping with compassion and self care, healing and inner solace, those choices ripple outward affecting the welfare of the earth and the creatures we share it with. In times of sorrow, choose kindness. Be kind to yourself and you will find the earth and all earthlings are part of the whole you belong to, and healing is a gift you share.
Here is the Grilled Veggie recipe Catharine showed us at the Taiga Cooking class. It was absolutely delicious!
You will need:
a variety of vegetables cut up into large chunks. Think peppers, onion, cauliflower, mushrooms, etc.
1 lb extra-firm organic tofu
1/4 cup seasoned rice vinegar
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp salt
2 tsp basil, dried
1 tsp oregano
2 tbsp nutritional yeast
Break tofu into smaller pieces in a mixing bowl and set aside. Whisk all remaining ingredients, (except nutritional yeast and balsamic glaze), together. Pour over tofu and mix with your hands, crumbling tofu into small pieces as you go. Set aside and let rest for 10 minutes or leave in refrigerator for several days. Sprinkle 1 tbsp of nutritional yeast over top and mix. Taste, adding more nutritional yeast if desired. Grill veggies on bar-b-que in a large basket, turning regularly. Do not add oil! Once they are grilled, remove from bbq and place in a large serving bowl. Toss with tofu mixture and drizzle with balsamic glaze. Serve immediately as a side or on its own.
Today I fell in love—can it be love at first sight if you are on a blind date I wonder? Good grief, I really have to work on my sense of humour. Anyway, our first date was arranged. I was so nervous I thought I might just back out. What was the point anyway? What could possibly come of this? But, I had made a commitment to myself to try, to feel the fear and do it anyway. I’ve stolen that phrase from someone but I cannot for the life of me remember who said it. I forget a lot now, now that I remember so much; the trauma, the past, so much overwhelming sadness. (I’ll Google it later and let you know.) Also, I had made another commitment, to the women who arranged this moment for me. Just to try. “What’s the worst that could happen?” I was asked.
The morning was cool and grey. The sky was heavy and rain was immanent however rain had never stopped me before so why let it worry me now? I enjoy the rain; I fish in it, walk in it and garden in it. I have even been known to dance in the rain from time to time. Granted, it has been quite a long time since anyone might have seen that, but who knows what tomorrow will bring.
As I was saying, the air was lowering, leaving behind just a hint of mist on my cheek but not so crushing that a migraine would be promised. The scene was regal, rich velvet greens and violets saturated the palette. Surrounding trees whispered in the breeze and carried the scents of freshly cut grass and sweet clover. In the far off distance mountains stood tall and quiet as if guarding over sacred meadows of serenity. It was there that we first met. It was there that I fell in love.
We were introduced with the soothing and welcoming voice of the woman who owned these heavenly acres. Sensing my apprehension, she delayed our first hellos; assuring me the he was very special and we would really hit it off. She shared a bit of his history and I soon learned we did indeed have much in common.
He was incredible— strong, stalwart, beautiful tawny hair and big brown eyes; eyes I felt that could see into the depths of my soul. I approached him while he stood his ground. He appeared almost disinterested at first but I knew he was watching me. If this were a Jane Austin novel, he might be a Mister Darcy; elegant but reserved, handsome to be sure but not pretty. I reached out my hand to him. In return he offered a nod of recognition. We mingled politely while our chaperone (for lack of a better word) lingered. Chatting with ease, she ignited our conversation and then quietly and almost invisibly she wandered away. She really never left us. She remained discrete, busying herself with something or another, visible only in the peripheral. We stood silently together for what seemed an immutable amount of time and then, I reached up, I ran my fingers through his hair. He allowed me this intimacy and remained as close to me as two could possibly be. I found myself telling him my secrets, my hand on his chest, my face nuzzled into the crook of his neck. I saw the scars on his back; the scars that told the story of his abuse.
He like myself was the so-called black sheep of the family. Wounded both physically and spiritually he had been ostracized and left to fend for himself, sanctuary only granted him after arriving there, at the place we first met. I kissed the scars on his back and wrapped my arms around his neck telling him with tearful whispers that I was sorry for his pain. I knew what it felt like to be alone and while I too was beaten, my scars were not visible; my scars were not worn on my flesh obvious to all who could see.
He showed me his understanding. Our hostess verified that fact to me later. This clarification was somewhat necessary. Despite the fact that our hearts spoke deeply and honestly to each other, we did not share the same language thus an interpreter was required.
We stood together for hours. He held his ground and never left my side. An anomaly she said, he did not normally pay such attention to a stranger. He did not easily share such intimacy. I stood in awe of his beauty and he seemed not to notice mine. He made no scrutiny of the fact I had not been to a hairdresser since the day my mother died. He was unconcerned by my oversized plaid shirt and faded jeans. (I do not normally dress to impress especially not now. I feel so uncomfortable in my own skin that clothes just seem to add to the frustration of my appearance.) However, Entertainment Tonight has advised the viewing population that plaid is the new grunge, a point attested to by both Madonna and Sarah Jessica Parker during fashion week in Gay Paree.
Extending his leg as if to show off his shoe, I mimicked his behavior and placed my blue paisley rubber booted foot next to his. I do love my rubber boots. My Bogs are warm enough for winter even though they are only rubbers and even after I have fallen into the river and filled my boots with icy water my feet remain warm. I wear my Bogs often, and show them off to everyone so I quite enjoyed those moments, as we stood together, foot-to-foot, shoe-to-shoe. The mood had shifted from intensely intimate to light hearted and somewhat playful. I was happy.
Our hostess had moved back into the foreground of this lover’s portrait. Her presence there was the mark that our time together was all too soon coming to an end. Politely she asked how it was. The smile on my face surely said all that needed to be said. “Are you sure you’ve never done this before?” she inquired. I shook my head to indicate I had not. “You’re a natural” She said. “What made you think you were afraid of horses?”
P.S. Feel the Fear was a book written by Susan Jeffers
With special thanks to Rio, Margot and Catharine
You will need:
2 medium sweet onions
3-4 cloves of garlic
4 large Yukon Gold potatoes, cut into chunks (leave the skin on)
1 1/2 cups sliced white button mushrooms
3 tbs curry power (I use Suraj)
1 15 oz can black beans (and their liquid)
3 medium tomates, coarsely chopped
1 cup veggie broth
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped (optional)
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
1 cup water
1. Sauté onions and garlic in oil substitute (water or vegetable broth) until onion is translucent (about 5 minutes)
2. Stir in potatoes, mushrooms, curry powder, cook 5 minutes.
3. Add beans and their liquid, tomatoes, broth, jalapeno, vinegar and one cup of water.
4. Season with salt and pepper.
5. cover and simmer for 45 minutes.
Serve on its own or on a bed of steamed rice.
Eggs wig me out. Its not just the sliminess of them. I can handle that. Its the umbilical cord. You know the long wiggly whitish cord that travels into the yolk….its the life line for the fetus. I used to think eggs were a good source of protein since I didn’t eat meat. That was a long time ago now, and when I learned the best way to go is plant based, I was happy to leave them behind. Recently the information (below) on eggs came my way. I think everyone should read it, and check out the links as well. Bottom line: Eggs are really unhealthy.
Eggs are considered good sources of lutein and omega 3 as well as an excellent source of protein. For these reasons, they are considered health foods. Looking at these claims in detail, chickens have lutein because they have a varietized feed, these nutrients are not inherent in eggs. Based on the nutrient data found on the USDA database, 10 grams of spinach has approximately 12 times more lutein then 10 grams of an egg. We cannot really consider eggs an appropriate source of this nutrient.
Current levels of omega 3 in eggs are highly inadequate and one must consume around 30 eggs to reach an acceptable level of omega 3 for the day. A male needs around 1.6 grams of omega 3 per day, a female needs around 1.1 grams a day. A large egg contains about .037 grams of omega 3. Omega 3 in the ALA form processes to EPA which is also processed to DHA. These fats are anti-inflammatory. Omega 6 processes down to arachadonic acid which is highly inflammatory. According to the National Cancer Institute, eggs are the number 2 top contributor of arachidonic acid in the American Diet.
Based on this as well as the low omega 3 content of eggs, the benefits received from omega 3 are masked by the high quantity of preformed Arachidonic Acid. High intake of arachadonic acid is linked to autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, ulcerative colitis, as well as a clear link with cancer development.
Eggs have been associated with heart failure as noted here. “After 13.3 years of follow-up in this cohort of approximately 14,000 white and African-American men and women, greater intake of eggs and of high-fat dairy foods were both associated with greater risk of incident HF, whereas greater intake of whole-grain foods was associated with lower risk of incident HF. These associations were independent of demographic characteristics, lifestyle factors, prevalent CVD, diabetes, hypertension, and other food groups.”
As well as an association type 2 diabetes with egg consumption of 1 egg a day. “Overall, the observed increased risk of type 2 diabetes with daily consumption of eggs in the current study raises the possibility of undesirable health effects with high rates of egg consumption and may help explain previously reported increased risk of CHD that was restricted to individuals with type 2 diabetes in the Health Professional Follow-up Study”
In the Canadian Journal of Cardiology, David Spence (director of the stroke prevention/atherosclerosis research center and one of the worlds leading stroke experts), David Jenkins (the inventor of the glycemic index) and Jean Davignon (director of atherosclerosis research group) posted a review on eggs claiming that the egg industry has been downplaying the health risks of eggs through misleading advertisements. As soon as you eat one egg, you expose your body to several hours worth of oxidative stress, inflammation of ones arteries, endothelieum impairment (what keeps you blood running smoothly) and increases the susceptibility of LDL cholesterol to oxidize (beginning stages of heart disease). The authors go into great detail regarding dietary cholesterol and it is a very fascinating read indeed. The author’s final words “In our opinion, stopping egg consumption after a myocardial infarction or stroke would be like quitting smoking after lung cancer is diagnosed: a necessary act, but late.”
The egg industry has claimed that cholesterol from eggs is not important and does not raise cholesterol levels. The fundamental flaw in the study the egg industry has used to make this claim is that they measured fasting lipid levels at night and not levels through out the day after egg consumption. “Diet is not all about fasting lipids; it is mainly about the three-quarters of the day that we are in the nonfasting state. Fasting lipids can be thought of as a baseline; they show what the endothelium was exposed to for the last few hours of the night.”
A single egg yolk contains approximately 215 to 275 mg of cholesterol. A safe upper limit can be capped at 200 mg if one is looking to prevent heart disease as recommended by the CDC as one of their nutritional recommendations as seen on page 92. One egg far exceeds this daily upper limit.
The balance of science is clearly against even moderate egg consumption as this food is a packaged deal. We do not get the nutrients found in eggs without getting the cholesterol and saturated fat. This similarity can be seen with chicken in terms of cholesterol and arachidonic acid. “Tolerable upper intake levels (ULs) set by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) are important, in part because they are used for estimating the percentage of the population at potential risk of adverse effects from excessive nutrient intake. The IOM did not set ULs for trans fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol because any intake level above 0% of energy increased LDL cholesterol concentration and these three food components are unavoidable in ordinary diets.”
Executive summary by my good friend, Christine:
-If you’re eating eggs for lutein, protein, or other nutrients, there are far more nutrients in whole plant sources.
-Same goes for Omega 3 EFA’s.
-And when you consume even ONE egg, you take in more than the highest daily allowance for cholesterol, causing LDL to rise (a proven risk factor for heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, stroke, among other things).
-One egg also contains major Omega 6 fats which convert to arachadonic acid in the body (meaning inflammation); a risk factor for cancer, arthritis, etc.
-Omega 6 fats also lead to endothelial damage. Recall that the endothelium lines the vessels and is what makes our vessels dilate when increased blood flow is required. When these cells are continually impaired, heart attacks occur.
-Chicken and beef are just as nasty
-Above is some interesting info on how the egg industry designed their studies to show favorable results (for them, not for our health)
-The Institute of Medicine (IOM) doesn’t even set an upper limit for cholesterol (or trans fats, or saturated fats) because anything above zero contributes to an increase in LDL or bad cholesterol in the blood.
Last but not least, check out what Dr. Gregor has to say about eggs:
Are you confused about soy? Its likely you have heard conflicting information about this simple bean. Soy has been used by many cultures for thousands of years as an excellent source of protein, carbohydrate, good fats, vitamins and minerals. It is a nutrient-dense food. Is it necessary in a plant based diet? No, it is not.
As a whole bean or a slightly modified bean, as in tempeh (fermented soy), soy milk and tofu, the nature of the food hasn’t changed. You are still getting in the general sense, the whole food, with the exception of the milk, in which the fibre is removed and water is added. The best, of course, is the whole bean, known as Edamame. Steam and rinse these babies, add some sea salt and try to have just one. I dare you!
Why have they gotten such a bad name? First, when soy is broken down and the protein is isolated, the new product is called “Soy protein isolate” or “isolated soy protein”. You’ve seen this on many processed food packages, especially on the fake meats. As it turns out, soy protein isolate increases levels of IGF-1 (insulin-like growth factor) quite significantly, almost double than cow milk. Recall that IGF-1 is a cancer promoter. Avoid soy protein isolate.
Soy is also high in phytoestrogens, a plant based estrogen known as isoflavone. There is confusion around estrogen in foods. Put simply, animal-based estrogens have been linked to cancer promotion, whereas plant-based estrogens, in this case, isoflavone from soy can actually inhibit the growth of breast cancer and prostate cancer tissues. So, animal estrogens like those present in cow milk: bad. Plant-based estrogens (phytoestrogens known as isoflavones and lignans) found in foods like soy and flax seeds: Good!
Last, genetically modified soy can cause severe allergic reactions in people. In 1999, shortly after gmo soy entered the public food system in the U.K., researchers at the York Laboratory were alarmed to discover that reactions to soy had skyrocketed by 50% over the previous year. Buy organic to avoid gmo.
here is a link to a great read about the cancer fighting benefits of soy:
My Mum tells a story that when I was 2 years old, I climbed onto the kitchen counter and took one bite out of each and every apple in the entire basket she’d just brought home from the grocery store. Not much has changed. I eat apples every day. My favourite are organic Gala apples. The are crispy and sweet, and when you bite into them they snap back. Between my children, my horses and I we go through a lot of them. The best part is that they are so darn good for you. Apples are full of phytonutrients and antioxidants, rich in vitamin C and beta-carotene and have small amounts of minerals as well. They are high in sugar but as a whole food have a low glycemic index (44). Apples are rich in fibre which has endless benefits in itself, helping prevent the absorption of LDL cholesterol and healthy for the colon. Apples are free of saturated fat and cholesterol and have a mere 50 calories in 100gm.
Apples are unfortunately a heavily pesticide-contaminated fruit. Therefore it is important to buy organic apples, and if you just can’t, be sure to wash them thoroughly to remove residue.
Remember, an apple a day keeps the doctor away. Just think what 2 might do!
An apple update! Dr. Gregor explains how apples protect against cancer: http://nutritionfacts.org/video/apples-breast-cancer/
Why smoothies? Smoothies are delicious and you get the benefit of consuming the whole plant. Smoothies are a fantastic way to load up on nutrient-dense plant foods. Green smoothies are my favourite for ensuring my children are getting plenty of green leafy vegetables… and the best part is that they love them. You can get creative here; change it up however you like.
If you are making enough for the whole family, you’ll need a blender. If its just for you, the Magic Bullet is awesome.
Here is a smoothie that we consume often. My kids call it “The Shrek”
- approx. 1 cup of plant based milk*
- 1 tablespoon orange juice concentrate (I use this instead of oranges because my children don’t like the orange bits when I use whole orange)
- 1 banana
- 1 cup frozen mango chunks
- 1 kiwi
- fresh lemon juice from 2 lemons
- fresh lime juice from 1 lime (real lemon or real lime can be used instead)
- two big handfuls of kale, spinach or other greens.
*plant based milks include oat, rice, almond or soy. Watch for added oils and sugars. Small amounts are okay, but use organic always. Organic will ensure any added ingredients, like canola oil, are not genetically modified.
Blend until smooth, and enjoy!
This one came from Eileen, and sure enough it is delicious. Mine came out a little on the thick side, which made it almost stew-like. If you’d like it to be more “soupy” just add more water.
I large sweet potato, cubed
1 onion, diced
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 1/2 cups red split lentils
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 jar (650 ml) pureed tomatoes
3 (tomato) jars (650 ml) water
1/2 teas. cayenne pepper (or more to taste)
1 teas. cumin
1/2 teas. pepper
1. Saute onion in a small amount of white wine, orange juice or veggie broth.
2. Add sweet potato, celery, carrot, garlic, tomatoes, water and lentils.
3. Add cumin, pepper and cayenne pepper
4. Simmer for 1 1/2 hours.
The soup toureen in this picture was made by an incredibly talented lady who died of breast cancer. I have many pieces of her pottery, and I am reminded of her when I use them. I often wonder if things could have been different for her, if she had known what we are learning today about the protective qualities of a plant based diet.