“Coffee – the favorite drink of the civilized world.” – Thomas Jefferson

MHollander

MHollander

A California man was charged with a DUI, “driving under the influence”, last week. He was taken to jail & a blood test was done. It came back positive for only one substance, caffeine! “Given that Americans consume an average of 3.1 cups of coffee a day, it’s unlikely he’s the only driver on the road to have ever enjoyed such a seemingly innocent pick-me-up. So, how in the world could caffeine impair a driver’s capability behind the wheel? According to NBC medical contributor Dr. John Torres, it wouldn’t. ‘Studies have shown that caffeine actually helps ones driving abilities. The only way that it might have an effect is if a person overdoses on caffeine or uses it to cover fatigue and then it wears off,’ Torres said.” (#5)

Putting the legal issues of this gentleman aside; let’s talk about my favorite drink, coffee. You have read about the health benefits of coffee under our Coffee, Topic PageYou are also aware of some of it’s side effects: insomnia, nervousness, restlessness, stomach upset etc. ~Check the resources below for more information.~ But, do you know how to pick a roast, store it & finally make the perfect cup?


The History of Coffee: No one knows exactly how coffee was discovered. The following story/myth is my favorite. 

“Coffee grown worldwide can trace its heritage back centuries to the ancient coffee forests on the Ethiopian plateau. There, legend says the goat herder Kaldi first discovered the potential of these beloved beans. 

The story goes that that Kaldi discovered coffee after he noticed that after eating the berries from a certain tree, his goats became so energetic that they did not want to sleep at night. Sound familiar? 🙂

Kaldi reported his findings to the abbot of the local monastery, who made a drink with the berries and found that it kept him alert through the long hours of evening prayer. The abbot shared his discovery with the other monks at the monastery, and knowledge of the energizing berries began to spread.

As word moved east and coffee reached the Arabian peninsula, it began a journey which would bring these beans across the globe.” (#1)

This is a fun infographic by I LOVE COFFEE (#9). Wow! Those Irish get my vote 🙂

I LOVE COFFEE

I LOVE COFFEE.JP  


Coffee Beans: The world’s finest premium gourmet coffee beans come from Arabica coffee plants grown at high elevations in prime coffee-growing regions with an ideal climate and fertile, well-drained soils. (#2)

To get to your table the beans go through these steps: 10 Steps from Seed to Cup This is a very lengthy process starting with planting the coffee tree to the various harvesting, drying & processing techniques. If you are interested, go to the link. I found it fascinating. It is easy to buy the roasted beans & grind them yourself but learning about the actual process to get them to my store was a humbling experience.

This link, Coffee Around the World, has a wonderful article about where the beans come from. They are grown in more than 50 countries around the world. “Everything from the variety of the plant, the chemistry of the soil, the weather, the amount of rainfall and sunshine, and even the precise altitude at which the coffee grows can affect the taste of the final product.”  And you thought selecting a coffee bean was easy! It is as complicated as selecting a chocolate in the candy aisle. 🙂 To make it even more complicated let’s look at roast type.


Roast: I like dark roasted coffee. The darker roast has less acidity and less caffeine than the lighter roasts. To my palate it has a very rich, creamy flavor. My favorite dark roast is from Mexico.

Coffee Roast Guide:  “Roasting brings out the aroma and flavor that is locked inside the green coffee beans. Beans are stored green, a state in which they can be kept without loss of quality or taste.  A green bean has none of the characteristics of a roasted bean — it’s soft and spongy to the bite and smells grassy. 

Roasting causes chemical changes to take place as the beans are rapidly brought to very high temperatures. When they reach the peak of perfection, they are quickly cooled to stop the process. Roasted beans smell like coffee, and weigh less because the moisture has been roasted out. They are crunchy to the bite, ready to be ground and brewed.”


Grind: What grind you choose depends on how you are going to brew it. I use a French Press. Although I do love Turkish coffee, I never had any luck in brewing it at home. It is my treat when I go out.


How to Store Coffee: “To preserve your beans’ fresh roasted flavor as long as possible, store them in an opaque, air-tight container at room temperature. Coffee beans can be beautiful, but avoid clear canisters which will allow light to compromise the taste of your coffee. Keep your beans in a dark and cool location.” Oops! I store my beans in a clear jar in a dark cupboard. Time to get new canisters.


Recipes: Couldn’t pass up recipes with my favorite beverage!

  • Get Your Coffee Fix With 25 Unexpected Recipes: “Whether you’re ready for a caffeine IV-drip or just into the occasional after-dinner cappuccino, it’s hard to deny coffee is delicious (especially when mixed with sugar, spice, or all types of chocolate). In honor of National Coffee Day, we’ve rounded up 25 healthy recipes featuring the magical beans. The dark, complex brew lends deep flavor to just about any dish, from sweet to savory…..” 

  • Scones & a cup of coffee are a treat. Scones with espresso & chocolate as an ingredient are simply decadent! Dark Chocolate Hazelnut Espresso SconesYou can make some simple substitutes to make this healthier.

  • Leftover Coffee? Make These 7 Recipes So It Never Goes to Waste: “If you’re anything like us, you’re familiar with the last cup of coffee scenario: It’s not quite enough for another cup and you’re supposed to leave for work in three minutes. Do you chug it or dump it down the train? Neither! We’re sharing the best possible meals and treats (sweet and savory) for however much extra joe you’ve got; be it several ounces or just a few teaspoons. So before you tackle your day, pour whatever’s left into a jar with a lid. Pop it in the fridge—you’re going to need (and want) it later. Bean Chili with Walnuts & Chocolate. I must give this one a try. sounds like a chili mole!

 


MHollander

MHollander

 

I raise my favorite coffee cup in wishing you all a Healthy, Happy, & Peaceful 2017…….Mary 🙂

 

 

 

 


Resources

  1. How to Brew Coffee 
  2. Espresso & Coffee Buying Guide
  3. Coffee, Topic Page 
  4. Coffee, WebMD 
  5. 4 Things to Know About Caffeine, the Surprising Substance Behind a California Man’s DUI 
  6. Caffeine MedlinePlus 
  7. Benefits of drinking coffee outweigh risks, review suggests 
  8. Top 5 Surprisingly Good Effects Of Caffeine 
  9. I LOVE COFFEE Blog site Infographics are from this site.
  10. National Coffee Association, USA 

News Updates: Eggs, Sugar, Fukushima & Nutrition Trends for 2017

I have chosen three topics to update from the health news. Eggs, because they are still being maligned 🙂 An update on the ongoing research by corporations to find the perfect sugar; low in calories & still addictive. I picked the Fukushima update as it is important to all of you who eat seafood & for those of you who are concerned about radiation exposure. While exploring the internet I also found an interesting website listing what to expect in the food world for 2017. Scads of good information.


organic_eggs_egg_carton2Eggs

Egg whites are high in protein, but did you know that the yolk contains choline? A recent study, Assessment of Total Choline Intakes in the United Statesindicates that Americans do not get enough choline in their diet. Choline is an essential nutrient. Dr. Weil:  “Choline is utilized by the body in a variety of ways including aiding nerve signaling, maintenance of cell membranes, transporting triglycerides from the liver, and as a constituent of nervous system tissues in early brain development.” 

Dr. Low Dog: Time to Reconsider Eggs? Our Need for Choline. “So where to get this relatively unknown yet vital micronutrient? Fortunately, choline is surprisingly easy to add to the diet. Specifically beef, wheat germ, scallops, salmon, chicken, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, peanuts and milk all contain choline, but the goldmine source is eggs, which contain a choline-rich yolk center.” Good article.

This study regarding eggs has made the headlines for the past few weeks. The article in PubMed has the original study & its conclusions. One item I found interesting was that the participants in the study were not asked about their overall diet or how the eggs were prepared. One would think that information would be pertinent to this study.

  • PubMed: Eating one egg a day may lower risk of stroke“An egg a day can cut chances of suffering a fatal stroke,” The Times reports. A new review of existing data covering around 300,000 people suggests eating up to one egg a day may lower stroke risk; but not the risk of heart disease. The health effects of eggs have been debated for years. Eggs, which contain cholesterol, were thought to increase risk of heart disease by raising cholesterol levels. But more recent studies show that cholesterol in food has little impact on the levels of cholesterol in your blood – most cholesterol in the blood is made by the liver.”

Bottom line: Eat the whole egg! How many? The current guidelines range from 1-3 eggs a day as being perfectly healthy for most people. The exceptions are diabetics & people with heart disease. Unless you are making an omelette, I would go with 1 egg a day max.

When making an omelette use 2 egg whites & 1 whole egg. That way, you get the choline & a protein boost. You can also rotate: one day egg white only & the next a whole egg. Eggs are part of a balanced Mediterranean diet. Moderation!


MHollander

MHollander

Sugar

Nestlé scientists have discovered a way to change the sugar molecule so you think you are enjoying the same sweetness in your candy but in fact you are consuming 40% less sugar. The company states that the 40% reduction in sugar, with this new process, will not change the taste of your favorite candy bar.

My biggest problem with this idea is the “halo effect”. This means that consumers will eat more candy because it has less sugar. It is the same problem with reduced fat in Dreyer’s ~a subsidiary of Nestlé~ slow churned ice cream, which has 2/3 the calories & 1/2 the fat of regular ice cream. It is a healthier choice but it is easy to justify eating more than one serving. I submit that portion control is still the best way to handle our “indulgences”. 

According to one article I read, Nestle has found a way to restructure sugar crystals. This is different than genetically modifying sugar cane. So it will be GMO free. The positive side to this is that Nestle does not want to use artificial sweeteners in their products. Milk Chocolate is made of 50% sugar so by cutting the amount of sugar by 40%, the candy wouldn’t be calorie free but close. Good news.


Fukushima

Following the 9.0 earthquake & tsunami in Japan on March 2011, many of you were concerned about the radiation from Fukushima reaching our shores. The greatest concern was how much this radiation would effect the food we eat, especially seafood. Well, it has arrived & it is making the news this week.

  • Should we be worried about Fukushima radiation? from USA TODAY “The levels are very low and shouldn’t harm people eating fish from the West Coast or swimming in the ocean, according to Ken Buesseler, a senior scientist at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. “To put it in context, if you were to swim everyday for six hours a day in those waters for a year, that additional radiation from the addressed cesium from Japan … is 1000 times smaller than one dental x-ray,” Buesseler said in a phone interview.
  • Radiation From Fukushima Nuclear Disaster Detected On US Shores: Should You Worry? from TECH TIMES. “Although the detection of cesium-134 on U.S. shores may sound troubling, researchers said that the detected levels do not actually pose danger to humans and the environment.”

Should we believe this scientist? I say yes. Our only other choice is to freak out about it without any scientific evidence to indicate that we should. Being fearful & stressed is the worse thing we can do for our immune system. Ken Buesseler, the scientist behind this news, stated that: “You can’t ever have a radioactive-free ocean,” he said. “You have nuclear disasters like this one, testing and naturally occurring radioactivity.” The radioactive levels will continue to be monitored & we will hear about any increases.

In the meantime, monitor the type of seafood you eat by using the following resources. They can help you make healthier choices that will not only effect you but also have less impact on the environment.


This article caught my eye while reading the news.  The Next Healthy Food Trends You Will See in 2017  from Spoon University The following are highlights of the article. It is worth reading.

  1. Meat Substitutes: “As a fellow vegetarian, this news will probably be the best I have heard all day. More and more people are starting to eat a plant-based diet, whether that may be a flexible pescatarian or a full on vegan……”
  2. Seeds: “As more people get back into working out at the start of the new year, you are sure to see an increase in the demand for seeds. Seeds have many health benefits like being packed with protein and fiber. In addition, they add taste and consistency to really any type of dish….”
  3. Craft Beer: “No doubt about it, craft is about to be the next organic. Craft beers and ciders are being seen along side items that are homegrown, provenance, or even seasonal because people are looking for quality over quantity….”
  4. Vegetable-Based Entrees: “If you haven’t gotten to experience zoodles, then you’re SOL. Vegetables are coming in hot as a replacement for carbs and meats because they are lower in calories and carbohydrates. This means these dishes—such as zucchini pasta or smoked carrots—make for a lighter meal and add more flavor to the dish…..”
  5. Fermented Drinks: “You have probably seen the vegan or yogi bloggers you follow on Instagram telling you how much they love “the buch.” And you should listen….”
  6. Seaweed: “Move over kale, there is a new lean, green fighting machine in town—and its name is seaweed…”
  7. Cauliflower-Based Carbs: “Cauliflower alternatives made their grand debut in 2016, but were caught in the tailwind of the gluten-free craze. In 2017, look for a rise in cauliflower alternatives, not only on Pinterest, but also in upscale restaurants….”
  8. Artisan Meats: “What goes good with a big glass of wine, your ladies, and a Friday night? Artisan meat and cheese….”
  9. Root to Stem Vegetables: “Stop slicing the greens off your carrots and peeling your potatoes because it’s time to start your bite at the root and make your way all the way down to the stem….”

Let’s hope this list is correct, especially the craft beer & cider 🙂 This is a crazy website geared toward getting college students to eat a healthier diet. It is worth looking at their recipe page…Spoon University Recipes  & to check out 19 Recipes to Make if You are Planning to Stay in This NYE!  It is such fun finding new nutrition websites 🙂


I want to wish you all a Happy Winter Solstice on the 21st, a Happy Yule & a Healthy, Happy, New Year. 

“Peace comes from within.  Do not seek it without.” ― Gautama Buddha

Our next Blog Post will be Tuesday, January 3, 2017…….Mary 🙂

 

The Ecology of Estrogen in the Female Body…copyright Juliet Blankespoor

We know that hormones influence many types of cancers in both women & men. The two most common are breast & prostate; hormone dependent cancers. They also play a lesser role in ovarian, testicular, endometrial, lung & liver for example. These would be considered hormone-sensitive cancers.  Being diagnosed with hormone dependent or sensitive cancer leads to the question of phytoestrogens in our diet, & endocrine disruptors in our environment. I have addressed these concerns in our blog, Phytoestrogens & under the Topic page, Endocrine Disruptors.

But what are endogenous estrogens, phytoestrogens & xenoestrogens? What are their roles in the human body? We need to know how they effect our body in order to understand the treatment programs for hormone dependent/sensitive cancers. I read a very comprehensive article last week about this very subject at The Chestnut School of Herbal Medicine’s Blog This article is scientifically based yet “layman friendly”. I received permission from the author, Juliet Blankespoor, to share the entire article with you. I encourage you to read the entire article. Great information about flax & soy.

I highlighted the links to Juliet’s other articles regarding phytoestrogens & endocrine disruptors for those of you whom would like more information. 

The Ecology of Estrogen in the Female Body 

copyright Juliet Blankespoor

Red Clover (Trifolium pratense, Fabaceae): copyright Juliet Blankespoor

Women today live in a very different world than our foremothers. Our female predecessors began menstruating later in life, had more children, breastfed longer, underwent menopause earlier, ate whole foods, and lived in a cleaner environment. Women today have approximately ten times as many menstrual cycles as their great-great-grandmothers. Our bodies did not evolve with the hormonal inputs of perpetual ovulation and menstruation. As a result, more women than ever are experiencing reproductive disorders, such as endometriosis, uterine fibroids and ovarian cysts. Painful menstrual cramps, persistent acne and cyclic breast tenderness are so common that they are taken for granted as a normal aspect of female physiology. Many natural practitioners address these issues with herbal hormone balancers, such as chaste tree (Vitex agnus-castus, Lamiaceae) and black cohosh (Actaea racemosa, Ranunculaceae). These herbs are often effective, and certainly have their place in treating female reproductive disorders. However, it is important to not overlook underlying dietary and lifestyle factors that contributed to the initial hormonal imbalance, as these harmful inputs are likely to create other issues down the road, if left unaddressed.

In this article, we will explore various factors affecting the hormonal ecology, or hormonal environment, of contemporary women. I will start by outlining the three major sources of estrogens, each of which is described in detail later in the article. The term endogenous is used to describe any substance generated from within an organism. Thus, endogenous estrogens are estrogens produced by the human body. Phytoestrogens are compounds, produced by plants, with an ability to bind to estrogen receptor sites. In contrast, xenoestrogens are human-made chemicals, which are also capable of binding to estrogen receptor sites. Xenoestrogens are a subclass of endocrine disruptors (hormone disruptors), which are described below.

It is important to understand that a variety of compounds have the ability to fit into estrogen receptor sites—natural and human-made molecules will alter a woman’s overall estrogen pool. A woman’s ovaries may be producing healthy levels of estrogen and progesterone, but her cells may be bombarded with strong estrogenic inputs from unnatural substances in her diet, water and air. Humans are exposed to environmental chemicals beginning at conception, absorbing novel compounds through the placenta, and then through breast milk. These endocrine disruptors (chemicals which disrupt hormonal physiology) have the potential to alter the reproductive ecology of the body, often with drastic effects, such as reproductive cancers and chronic female reproductive disorders.

Phytoestrogens have the ability to bind to hormonal receptor sites; they exert a beneficial effect on the female physiology. Our bodies’ hormonal systems have evolved with phytoestrogens, which are helpful in treating estrogen dominance (relative imbalance of estrogen to progesterone), as well as reducing menopausal symptoms. Most modern peoples in wealthy industrialized nations consume very little phytoestrogens and are regularly exposed to endocrine disruptors. I believe that these two factors play a large role in the increasing rates of reproductive pathologies.

Flax seeds: copyright Juliet Blankespoor

Our diets are different than those of our great-great grandmothers—with easy access to processed “foods”, as well as chemically grown and genetically modified foods. We are often not as active as our foremothers, and many women are overweight and obese. The world is a different place, and in many ways the decisions about how we live, eat and reproduce are not as simple. Some health care professionals believe the increase in modern women’s estrogen pools should be mediated with oral contraceptives. I do not agree with that strategy, and instead propose the judicious intake of dietary and herbal phytoestrogens, along with specific lifestyle changes aimed at lessening the stress of excess estrogen.

Males are also exposed to novel chemicals in the environment, which present equal challenges to their hormonal systems. Much of the following information will be relevant to both sexes, especially the info on phytoestrogens and xenoestrogens.

Toasted sesame seeds: copyright Juliet Blankespoor

Phytoestrogens are a diverse group of compounds, found in plants, which have the ability to bind to estrogen receptor sites and elicit an estrogenic effect (phyto = plant, estrogen = estrus [period of fertility for female mammals] + gen = to generate). These “plant estrogens” are fairly abundant in a whole foods diet, and are found in many commonly eaten seeds, grains, and beans. In addition, many medicinal herbs used to treat female reproductive disorders contain phytoestrogenic compounds.

To understand how phytoestrogens work, it is important to grasp the following: varying substances can bind to the same receptor site and elicit differing effects, depending on the exact molecular fit. Phytoestrogens exert a weaker estrogenic effect on cells than endogenous estrogens and xenoestrogens. Phytoestrogens have an anti-estrogenic effect premenopausally by competitive inhibition of hormone receptor sites. When receptor sites are occupied with the less estrogenic phytoestrogens, there are fewer sites available for the more potent endogenous estrogens or xenoestrogens. Imagine a lock on a doorknob (estrogen receptor site), now picture a key (phytoestrogen) fitting into the lock and turning the key. Now imagine a second key coming along (endogenous estrogen); it can’t fit into the lock because there’s already a key there, blocking its way (phytoestrogen). The phytoestrogen key opens the door gently, while the endogenous estrogen would cause the door to fling open with wild abandon. Why do we want to gently open the door? Because most modern women have estrogen dominance, or a relative imbalance of estrogen to progesterone—turning down the estrogen dial by slowly opening the door is a good thing.

In menopausal and post-menopausal women, estrogen production from the ovaries slows, and then stops. As menstruation ceases, phytoestrogens have a positive effect by increasing the estrogenic effect on the body. Although phytoestrogens are less estrogenic than endogenous estrogens, they still increase the net estrogenic effect. This is evidenced by epidemiological studies demonstrating fewer menopausal symptoms, greater bone density, and lower breast cancer in populations of women who regularly consume phytoestrogens as part of their diet. [i]

Sources of phytoestrogens:

Isoflavones (genistein, daidzein, formononetin, and biochanin A) are primarily found in the bean family (Fabaceae) and are some of the most potent and well-researched phytoestrogens. Soybeans (Glycine max, Fabaceae) appear to be the most concentrated dietary source of isoflavones. Soy foods, listed in order of isoflavone concentration, include miso, tempeh, soymilk, tofu, and edamame. Soy is one of the most controversial foods today, either vilified as a harmful substance or praised for its nutritional superiority. There are some possible negative aspects to soy: it is a common allergen, difficult for many to digest, and typically grown as a genetically modified monoculture. However, it is a traditional food, consumed by Asians for millennia, and can be grown organically, without any chromosomal foul play. It is crucial to understand the difference between its traditional whole foods forms (tempeh, miso, tamari, edamame, and tofu) and the industrially produced processed “food”—soy protein isolate. Much of American soy consumption is from the latter form in processed meats from fast foods.

Soy beans (Glycine max, Fabaceae): copyright Juliet Blankespoor

Traditional Asian cultures ingest about one ounce of soy daily on average, often in fermented forms such as tempeh, miso, and tamari. These fermented foods are easier to digest than other forms of soy. When eaten in moderation, they serve as a high protein phytoestrogen, with the following benefits: increased bone density; fewer menopausal symptoms; and lowered incidence of breast, uterine, and prostate cancers. It appears that soy consumption via breastfeeding (with mothers who consume soy foods) and in youth, reduces breast and prostate cancer later in life.[ii] Population studies show that early consumption of soy is also linked to a reduced amount of menopausal symptoms.

Most of the confusion and misinformation about soy stems from two misunderstandings: One, people do not differentiate soy’s whole fermented organic traditional forms, such as miso, tamari, and tempeh from its industrial counterpart —soy protein isolate. Many authors and speakers extrapolate from studies done on soy protein isolate to include all soy foods. That is simply inaccurate, and similar to lumping high fructose corn syrup together with organically-grown, non GMO corn tortillas, and declaring all of corn-derived foods as unhealthy and unnatural. Two, people do not understand how phytoestrogens, sourced from whole plant foods and herbs, are part of traditional diets all over the planet, and that our hormonal systems evolved with these substances. Phytoestrogens are not the same as xenoestrogens; these substances have very different effects on the human body. Comparing the two is worse than comparing apples to oranges, it’s akin to comparing DDT to broccoli, and yet, people often blur the distinction.

Lignans are the most widely consumed phytoestrogen precursors found in the western diet and are found in high concentrations in flax and sesame seeds and to a lesser extent in other seeds, whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and beans.[iii] Flax has about ten times the lignan levels as sesame. Intestinal flora metabolize the lignans, converting them to their active forms: enterodiol and enterolactone, which produce a weaker estrogenic effect compared to the isoflavones. Lignans are not present in the oil portion of the seed, so sesame and flax oil are not good sources. Both flax and sesame seeds, in their whole form, pass through the gastro-intestinal system intact, and thus are not assimilated. I recommend grinding the fresh seeds and adding them to food after the food has been cooked. Grind flax with a hand grinder, coffee grinder, or blender and store it refrigerated for a week. Add the flax meal to oatmeal, or other breakfast gruels, salads, stir-fries, and baked goods. Gomasio is a traditional Japanese condiment made from toasted sesame seeds; try it sprinkled on salads, soup, and stir-fries. Prepare gomasio by toasting the seeds in a dry cast iron skillet and then grinding them after they have cooled, with the addition of salt or seaweed. Tahini, or sesame butter, is another excellent source of lignans.

Gomasio, made from toasted sesame seeds: copyright Juliet Blankespoor

Synopsis: Sesame can be consumed liberally in the form of tahini (sesame butter) or gomasio. This tiny seed has long been used as a traditional remedy in Ayurvedic medicine as an aphrodisiac and to strengthen the bones, hair and teeth. Sesame is considered to be a rejuvenative for Vata constitutions. In Chinese medicine, the black sesame seeds are used medicinally as a galactagogue (stimulate breast milk production) and to tonify the yin and blood. Sesame seeds are rich in calcium and protein. Two tablespoons of ground flax seed daily is a good dosage of lignans, with the additional benefit of flax’s soluble fiber (which is protective against cardio-vascular disease and helps to promote healthy intestinal flora).

For women who are able to effectively digest soy: I recommend tamari and/or miso daily. Both miso and tamari are naturally eaten in moderation, as they are so salty tasting. Tempeh or tofu can be eaten two to three times a week. I strongly caution women (and all humans) to avoid soy protein and soy protein isolate –these processed “foods” can be found in many fake meat products, fast foods, health bars, and even commercial smoothies. I am not a fan of isolated isoflavone supplements, such as genistein, and believe that dietary sources from whole foods and herbs are a better choice. Herbal sources of isoflavones include Red clover (Trifolium pratense, Fabaceae) and Alfalfa (Medicago sativa, Fabaceae).

For a more detailed look at phytoestrogens, please see Juliet’s article here.

Endocrine disruptors, or hormone disruptors, are human-made chemicals in the environment that interfere with the development and function of all body systems in animals, including humans. Endocrine disruptors can bind to hormone receptor sites, triggering a body-wide hormonal influence. They may also inhibit our natural hormones, such as androgens (male hormones), thyroid hormones, and progesterone. In addition, these chemicals can affect the production, elimination and metabolism of our endogenous hormones.

Most of the chemicals used in modern conventional industrial agriculture are known endocrine disruptors. These same chemicals are also used in home gardens and lawns. Home use of garden herbicides and insecticides are typically devoid of the same regulation and education inherent in agricultural settings. Many of the ingredients in cleaning and body care products have also demonstrated binding to hormone receptor sites. Additional exposure may come from absorbing compounds found in electronic devices and shopping receipts.

Princess Xeno, of the Endocrine Wonky Tribe: copyright Juliet Blankespoor

Most Americans have some control over reducing exposure to environmental toxins, but there are people throughout the world who do not have this privilege. Socioeconomic factors contribute greatly to accessing fresh food, and clean water and air. Pollution is typically higher in poorer areas. Endocrine disruptors do not observe political boundaries; air and water currents carry these chemicals far and wide. The decisions we make about how we live and consume have the power to affect the hormonal systems of all people and animals globally for generations to come. For more information on endocrine disruptors, including resources for learning more, please see Juliet’s article on the subject.

Synopsis: It is a common response to feel disheartened and concerned for the future generations of all life when first hearing about endocrine disruptors. That’s a good sign of humanness! However, it is beneficial to balance the facts with hope, and learn about reducing personal and planetary exposure to endocrine disruptors.

Avoid any type of plastic coming into contact with food and beverages. Use glass and stainless steel containers instead. Buy or make natural cleaning and body care products. Buy or grow food organically. If finances are an issue, focus on organic meat and dairy, as the bulk of our exposure to agricultural chemicals comes from these animal foods. Many forms of packaging contain endocrine disruptors: the inside lining of canned foods, aseptic containers, and plastic wrap to name a few. Microwaving foods in plastic should be avoided. Filter water unless it is absolutely pure spring or well water (lucky few). Avoid chemicals in clothing (fire-retardant children’s pajamas) and freshly manufactured synthetic fabrics. Try to avoid the chemicals found in conventional building materials. It can be maddening to think about all the ways we absorb environmental chemicals! Living simply is a good start, along with breathing deeply and laughing through the madness.

For many women, fasting and cleansing can be extremely beneficial if undertaken slowly and carefully. This is especially important for a woman considering motherhood, as most of her lifetime stores of fat-soluble chemicals are passed on to her infant via breast-milk. It is beyond the scope of this article to thoroughly discuss fasting and cleansing, but I will say that it is imperative to tailor the cleanse to the woman’s constitution and lifestyle. For someone who eats mainly processed foods and lives a fairly typical western lifestyle, a good start would be to eat a mono diet like kicheree (a traditional Indian dish, made from mung beans, rice and spices) for four days. During this time, offer herbal support in the form of alteratives, diuretics, and liver and kidney tonics. Examples would be dandelion leaf and root (Taraxacum officinale, Asteraceae), nettles (Urtica dioica, Urticaceae), and burdock (Arctium minus and A. lappa, Asteraceae). Sweating through exercise, saunas, and baths is also helpful in removing toxins via perspiration. Hydration is imperative, as well as daily bowel movements. If a person feels very nauseous, achy, shaky, or experiences headaches, that is a sign to slow down or stop the cleanse. The body cannot always easily metabolize fat-soluble chemicals, which enter the bloodstream when fat cells are broken down (through reduced caloric intake). One should never attempt a fast or cleanse when pregnant or nursing. Fasting is not appropriate for all people, and for many it can seriously worsen a pre-existing condition. On a final note, the support of long-term dietary and lifestyle goals should be one of the primary points of attention. After healthy patterns have been established, one may embark on fasting and cleansing.

Milk thistle (Silybum marianum, Asteraceae): copyright Juliet Blankespoor

The Liver breaks down circulating estrogen and progesterone and excretes the inactive metabolites from the body via the bile, and eventually the feces. If a woman’s liver is impaired, hormonal metabolism and excretion can be slow. Her ovaries may be producing a healthy balance of estrogen and progesterone, but the liver is allowing the hormones to circulate longer in the bloodstream, resulting in increased estrogen levels. The relationship between the liver and female reproductive health has long been recognized by most, if not all, traditional systems of medicine.

Synopsis: With any female reproductive disorder, it is important to examine the health of the liver. Symptoms of liver and gall bladder disharmony include frequent headaches, pale stools, excessive anger, irritability, digestive sluggishness, constipation, and an inability to tolerate alcohol or digest fats. Often the person will describe feeling stuck or held back. Yellow eyes and skin are other indicators of possible liver distress. Other precipitating factors include a history of alcoholism, hepatitis, excessive NSAID use, exposure to solvents and environmental toxins, and intake of pharmaceuticals or recreational drugs known to be especially hard on the liver. If possible, reduce any ongoing harmful inputs, such as the intake of excessive alcohol and fried foods, and habitual NSAID use.

Consider supporting the liver with traditional liver and blood tonics, such as dandelion root (Taraxacum officinale, Asteraceae), burdock root (Arctium lappa and A. minus, Asteraceae), red clover (Trifolium pratense, Fabaceae), reishi (Ganoderma lucidum, G. applanatum, and G. tsugae, Ganodermataceae), vervain (Verbena officinalis, V. hastata, and other species, Verbenaceae) and nettles (Urtica dioica, Urticaceae). If you suspect or know of liver damage, consider hepatoregeneratives (herbs which stimulate re-growth of damaged liver tissue), such as milk thistle (Silybum marianum, Asteraceae) and artichoke leaf (Cynara scolymus, Asteraceae). Bitters can also help to stimulate the flow of bile with the attendant excretion of estrogen. Many of the aforementioned hepatics have a bitter taste and can be taken 20 minutes before meals to optimize the bitter action. Note that most bitters are cooling and drying; add warming and/or demulcent herbs to soften the energetic effects in people who run cool and dry.

Dandelion flowers (Taraxacum officinale, Asteraceae): copyright Juliet Blankespoor

Intestinal Flora imbalance is almost an epidemic in western industrialized nations. One in three babies in the United States comes into this world through cesarean birth, and many are not breastfed; both factors contribute to the imbalance of intestinal flora. In addition, antibiotics are frequently administered to children, which also diminishes healthy populations of intestinal flora.

Our bacterial beasties help in the assimilation of phytoestrogens; intestinal flora convert lignans into their bioactive form and aid in the absorption of isoflavones. The repeated use of antibiotics and subsequent damage to intestinal bacteria has been linked to an increased risk of breast cancer, perhaps in part due to the lowered production of active phytoestrogen metabolites.[iv] Intestinal bacteria also play a role in estrogen metabolism; certain bacteria produce an enzyme capable of converting the inactive estrogen metabolites in the gut back into a viable estrogen, which is then reabsorbed further down the digestive tract. It appears that supporting healthy populations of intestinal flora helps to reduce this “reinstatement” of estrogen, thus allowing estrogen to leave the body via the feces.

Synopsis: Support healthy populations of intestinal flora by introducing the use of bitters, prebiotics, and fermented foods. Prebiotic foods (not to be confused with pro-biotics) are not digested by human intestinal enzymes, and instead are broken down and absorbed by intestinal flora. The ingestion of prebiotic foods is one of the best ways to support healthy populations of beneficial intestinal bacteria. The best way to absorb prebiotics is in food, but tea is a second best. Herbal/Dietary sources are: leeks, asparagus, and the roots of dandelion, chicory, burdock and Jerusalem artichoke tubers (not to be confused with artichoke hearts or artichoke heads). Roasting roots converts inulin (type of prebiotic) into sugars, and thus roasted root teas are less effective for supporting healthy intestinal flora. The ingestion of fermented foods is associated with a lower risk of breast cancer. Examples of fermented foods and beverages are: miso, live kimchi and sauerkraut, kefir (water and dairy), yogurt (dairy, soy or coconut), kombucha, and many others. Many of these items can easily be found in the aisles of health food stores, but it is much more economical to learn how to ferment at home. Probiotic supplementation may be indicated, but fermented foods should also be incorporated into the diet.

Burdock root (Arctium minus, Asteraceae): copyright Juliet Blankespoor

Dietary fiber intake reduces estrogen levels in the body, and is associated with a lower risk of breast cancer. [v] In addition, soluble fiber nourishes healthy populations of intestinal flora and reduces cholesterol levels in the body. A good way to remember soluble fiber is that both slimy and soluble begin with an S; soluble fiber binds with water to form a mucilaginous texture. Barley, oats, split peas, bananas, okra, and most beans are high in soluble fiber.

Synopsis: Incorporate ample sources of whole plant foods in the diet: fruits, beans, whole grains and vegetables. If you are used to eating processed grains and little fruits and vegetables, the increased fiber intake can result in painful gas. Introduce these foods slowly while taking digestive bitters before meals. Carminatives, like fennel, cinnamon, anise, and mint can also help. Over time, the intestinal flora will adapt to the higher fiber intake.

Fractal Cauliflower – artful fiber: copyright Juliet Blankespoor

Body Fat

Pre-menopausally, the ovaries (specifically, the follicles and corpus luteum) are the primary producers of estrogens. In addition, some of the body’s supply is derived from the conversion of androgens (male reproductive hormones) by the aromatase enzyme. This conversion (aromatization) takes place primarily in fat tissue, but also occurs in the brain, skin, muscle, and bones. After menopause, this secondary source of estrogen is particularly important as it provides for most of the body’s estrogen. During the reproductive years, aromatization can account for a significant contribution to circulating estrogen levels; the powerful effect of aromatization is demonstrated in women who have undergone surgical removal of their ovaries without experiencing the symptoms of premature menopause. Excess aromatization, however, has been linked to breast, adrenal, endometrial and prostate cancers. In summary, excess body fat contributes to excess estrogen levels through increased aromatization. Conversely, low body fat can translate to low levels of estrogen, through reducing aromatization. Low levels of body fat may contribute to amenorrhea (absence of menstruation), infertility, anovulation (lack of ovulation), or difficulty with menopause.

High caloric intake has been linked to earlier menarche (onset of menstruation) and later menopause; this leads to a longer exposure to estrogen, and increases the risk of breast cancer.[vi] Postmenopausal obesity has shown to be a strong risk factor for breast cancer, increasing the risk by as much as 50%. [vii]Excess body fat has also been linked to uterine fibroids and endometriosis. [viii]

Synopsis: Maintaining a healthy body weight can help keep the peripheral conversion of reproductive hormones in balance. It is important to rule out eating disorders, food allergies, digestive issues, depression, hyperthyroidism, body image issues, and over exercising as possible causes of low body weight.  Often women are simply thin, due to genetics or constitution, without any underlying pathology. Inquire about the diet, and help to optimize the ingestion of whole foods, including high quality fats and proteins. Often, increasing wild or organic animal foods in the diet will help to build the body’s reserve and build connective tissue (including adipose tissue) and blood.

If a woman is clinically overweight or obese, excess aromatization can take place, leading to higher levels of circulating estrogen. It is important to rule out underlying causes of obesity, such as hypothyroidism, depression, and stress. Sensible plans for weight loss include exercise, coupled with reduced caloric intake, and a focus on fresh fruits and vegetables. If you are overweight, find an exercise plan that feels realistic. Walking or hiking with a buddy is a great first step. Social support is extremely effective in helping to change ingrained dietary and lifestyle habits. It is a bigger letdown to cancel a walking date with a friend, than simply convincing yourself that you don’t need to walk. Pencil in your exercise into your calendar at specific times, and you will be more likely to follow through. Start with a simple plan so you don’t set yourself up for failure. For example, walking briskly for 30 minutes every other day is more realistic goal than jogging every morning for one hour.

Who does the cooking in the household? The person who prepares meals needs to be on board with any dietary changes. Remember, for most people it is psychologically easier to add healthier foods, rather than subtract unhealthy items. A reasonable goal would be to add a fresh salad or cooked greens to lunch and dinner and to add fresh fruit to breakfast and/or snacks. Chewing slowly and using a small plate are time-tested dieting tricks.

In conclusion, there are many factors contributing to each woman’s personal estrogen ecology; these need to be explored in any female reproductive disorder. Often, herbal hormone balancers are indicated, along with appropriate dietary and lifestyle changes. It is my hope that this information is part of a foundation for sustaining healthy reproductive systems!

Resources/ Suggested Reading:

  • Trickey, Ruth. Women, Hormones and the Menstrual Cycle—Herbal and Medical Solutions from Adolescence to Menopause. Fully revised and updated edition.
  • Romm, Aviva. Botanical Medicine for Women’s Health.
  • Blankespoor, Juliet. Phytoestrogens Demystified. http://chestnutherbs.com/phytoestrogens
  • Steingraber, Sandra. Having Faith—An Ecologist’s Journey to Motherhood.
  • Colborn, Theo and others. Our Stolen Future.

References:


[i] Julia R. Barrett, “The Science of Soy: What Do We Really Know?,” Environmental Health Perspectives 114, no. 6 (June 2006): A352–A358.

[ii] Jillian Stansbury, “Gene Expression and Reproductive Health. Medicines from the Earth.  Official Proceedings.   June 4-7, 2010.  P138-142.,” n.d.

[iii] “Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University,” accessed April 26, 2013, http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/infocenter/phytochemicals/lignans/.

[iv] “Risk of Breast Cancer in Relation… [Pharmacoepidemiol Drug Saf. 2008] – PubMed – NCBI,” accessed April 26, 2013, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17943999.

[v] D. Aune et al., “Dietary Fiber and Breast Cancer Risk: a Systematic Review and Meta-analysis of Prospective Studies,” Annals of Oncology (January 10, 2012), doi:10.1093/annonc/mdr589.

[vi] “Breast Cancer Research | Full Text | Does Diet Affect Breast Cancer Risk?,” accessed April 26, 2013, http://breast-cancer-research.com/content/6/4/170.

[vii] Sandhya Pruthi et al., “A Multidisciplinary Approach to the Management of Breast Cancer, Part 2: Therapeutic Considerations,” Mayo Clinic Proceedings. Mayo Clinic 82, no. 9 (September 2007): 1131–1140, doi:10.4065/82.9.1131.

[viii] Ruth Trickey, Women, Hormones and the Menstrual Cycle, n.d.

This article was previously published in Plant Healer Magazine, the paperless quarterly journal of the new folk herbalism resurgence – a downloadable, beautifully illustrated, full color PDF magazine http://planthealermagazine.com/

I hope that you got as much out of this article as I did. In today’s health care climate we need to be able to make informed decisions about our care. It takes time & effort to gather scientifically based information that you can understand. That has been my goal with this website. Until next week……….Mary 🙂

 

Healthy Holiday Recipes for Cookies, Candies & Nuts!

Jennifer Moore

Jennifer Moore

What better gift is there than homemade baked goods for the holidays. My mother would start baking on the first of December. She would then freeze what was made in preparation for the gift bags she put together for neighbors, friends & family. I also think she froze them to keep me, my brothers & father from eating them all 🙂

Most people are trying their best to make it through the season without indulging too much. It is difficult when the chemo room has trays of treats brought in for the health care staff & the patients. I have found some healthier versions of holiday cookies, nuts & candies that are vegan, gluten free & don’t use cane sugar. I will share my tried & true favorites & links to others.


Holiday Cookies don’t have to be laden with cane sugar. This is a recipe that I have used a great deal & everyone loves it.

MUESLI BREAKFAST COOKIES  Melissa King at My Whole Foods Life

Yields 24, 5 min Prep Time, 10 min Cook Time, 15 min Total Time

 Ingredients

  • 2 cups Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Muesli or your favorite.
  • 2 mashed bananas (about medium sized)
  • 3/4 cup nut butter of choice (sunflower butter can also be used)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. In a large bowl, mix the mashed banana and nut butter.
  3. Then add the cinnamon and muesli.
  4. Mix well.
  5. Using a cookie scoop, drop cookies onto a lined baking sheet.
  6. The batter will be sticky. Use your palm to press each cookie down slightly.
  7. Bake for 10-12 minutes.
  8. Let cool completely before removing from the baking sheet and storing in an airtight container.

Notes: These should last at least 2 weeks in the fridge. They can also be frozen up to 6 months. Enjoy!

Here is another of my favorites. You may remember this slide from my nutrition talks. You can add any ingredient you want: nuts, chopped fruit, shredded coconut etc. Be creative! These can be frozen.

Easy Healthy Oatmeal Cookie

Another one you may like to try is from the Minimalist Baker: 5 Ingredient Vegan Gluten Free Cookies  : “Sometimes you want a cookie. But sometimes you want that cookie to be healthy. And  sometimes you don’t want that cookie to annihilate your kitchen with flour and dishes. Guess what, these are those cookies! And they so tassssttttyyyyy.”

Vegan Sugar Free Trailmix Oatmeal Cookies from iFoodReal When I say sugar free I mean no sugar – no maple syrup, honey or coconut sugar. No low glycemic healthier sugars. Just naturally occurring sugars in bananas and dried fruits.” The blogger, Olena, calls her dishes “clean eating recipes”. I was impressed, check it out.


Get your holiday cookie cutters out for this healthier version of the sugar cookie. GLUTEN-FREE VEGAN VANILLA CUT-OUT COOKIES {REFINED SUGAR-FREE} from the Unconventional Baker. “This basic gluten-free vegan vanilla cut-out cookies recipe is super easy to make and is perfect for gifting and holiday cookie swaps. It’s one of my favorite cut-out recipes as it can be made and ready within half an hour {no chilling required} and it’s a very sturdy and easy to work with dough that will get you nicely shaped {and tasty} cookies every time!” 

Ginger Bread Men! Yes, even they can be healthier 🙂 Healthy Ginger Bread Men from Pheebs Foods. “This recipe does not involve any processed sugar which is fantastic as I’m sure we will all be consuming our fair share over the next month! Instead I have used pure maple syrup and molasses to sweeten and flavour these cookies. Molasses are actually the waste product produced when manufacturing white sugar. It has a dark almost caramel like flavour and as long as you are purchasing the correct type, it is low GI and nutrient dense!” She uses Almond meal rather than flour. 

This cut out recipe is from the Unconventional Baker. It is called the Ginger Fox Cookie, but you can use a holiday cookie cutter just as easily.


A gift that I like giving during the holiday season is a bag of spicy mixed nuts. I used to make Praline Pecans but they have a ton of cane sugar in them. I like this recipe because you can omit the sweetener or leave it in depending on what you had in mind taste wise. 

SPICED NUTS – DAIRY, SUGAR & GLUTEN FREE from The Simple Kitchen 

Serves: 5 cups……PREP TIME COOK TIME 10 mins, TOTAL TIME 15 mins

 INGREDIENTS

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 small shallots, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, diced
  • ¼ cup rosemary
  • ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
  • ½ tsp all spice
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 Tbsp honey (or maple syrup for vegan version) You could cut the amount to 1 Tbsp or omit. 
  • 5 cups mixed nuts (I bought roasted and salted)
 INSTRUCTIONS
  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Heat oil on a pan. Add shallots and garlic and cook until golden (about 5 min).
  3. Meanwhile, combine rosemary and spices.
  4. Once shallots are done, add shallots, spices, honey and nuts into a bowl (or on a baking sheet to save yourself a dish). Mix well and bake about 8-10 minutes.
  5. Let cool and serve.

 Notes: You may need to add more salt depending on how salted your nuts are. Mine were reduced salt so I ended up adding a bit more after they were baked. Thanks to my dear friend Lindsey for the inspiration for this recipe

I haven’t tried this one. It looks good though & would be a nice high protein snack food. Paleo Spiced Nuts from Elena’s Pantry….see my note about Elena under resources at the end of the post.

Ingredients:

  • ⅔ cup almonds
  • ⅔ cup pecans
  • ⅔ cup walnuts
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon celtic sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

Instructions:

  • Place nuts in a large cast iron skillet over medium heat
  • Toast until lightly browned
  • While nuts are toasting, prepare spice mixture
  • Combine chili, cumin, black pepper and salt in a small bowl
  • Coat nuts with olive oil, then coat with spice mixture Toss with the olive oil in the pan by shaking it & stirring with a chop stick. It will coat them evenly. I would start with a teaspoon of oil & add the rest as needed. Then toss again with the spices.
  • Serve

Candies that are easy & healthy. 

Chocolate Peanut Butter Truffles Recipe from Scripps Center for Integrative Medicine: “Peanut butter and dark chocolate make a delicious pair in this healthy snack. Chopped pretzels give this sweet and salty treat a yummy crunch.” …….Yield: 20 truffles Love making these!

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup natural peanut butter Could also use almond or cashew butter. I like chunky peanut butter.
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped pretzels I use Newman’s Own Pretzel Sticks, easy to chop.
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips

Preparation

  • Line a baking sheet with wax paper. I like parchment paper.
  • In a small bowl, combine the peanut butter and pretzels. Chill in the freezer until firm, about 15 minutes.
  • Roll the mixture into 20 balls (about 1 teaspoon each). Place on the baking sheet and freeze for at least 2 hours, or until very firm.
  • In a microwave-safe bowl, melt the chocolate in the microwave for 30 seconds. Stir and continue to microwave for 20-second intervals until chocolate is melted. I use a double boiler to melt the chocolate.
  • Roll the peanut butter balls in the melted chocolate and place back on baking sheet. Freeze until the chocolate is set, about 30 minutes.
  • Keep frozen until serving. Truffles can be stored in an airtight container, frozen, for up to 2 weeks.

Dark Chocolate Made with Coconut Oil From Nutritionist, Sara Vance. Homemade dark chocolate is one of the easiest things to make, this recipe has only 5 ingredients and is ready in no time.”  

I omitted the brand names in this recipe. You can go to the original recipe to see them. I have used this recipe many times for pot lucks. I just asked the hostess to leave them in the freezer until it was time to serve the desert. They don’t melt that fast, so they can be put on the table. 

  • 1 cup of cacao powder
  • 1 cup of coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup of raw agave nectar I used honey.
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon of  sea salt

Melt the coconut oil (I like to use a double boiler on simmer), allow to cool just slightly, then put all ingredients into a bowl – whisk together to combine well. Pour into a mold (I like the Tovolo ice cube molds), and put in freezer. They should be ready in 15 mins!!  When I bake with melted coconut oil, I measure it into an oven safe bowl and place it in the oven as it preheats. Does not take long to melt. Last time I made these I put them into a glass pan to freeze & then cut them into squares. You can add chopped nuts &/or coconut too.

They taste a little like a Mounds candy bar. This recipe has to come with a warning– you will find it hard to buy dark chocolate at the store ever again after trying this! Best kept stored in freezer. She isn’t kidding 🙂


Believe me, the nurses will thank you for these healthier cookies, nuts & candies. Your family & friends will too. Enjoy….Mary 🙂


Resources

Muffin Tin Meals!

Amazon.com

Buy at: Amazon.com

We have been invited to a potluck for a volunteer group my husband is a part of. While I was thinking about what to bring I remembered that in my research last week I found a great idea for stuffing; bake it in a muffin tin for individual servings. My thoughts then jumped to how wonderful an idea that would be for busy people & cancer patients in treatment. Individual, make ahead servings of meals made in a muffin tin/pan. Of course, as it turns out, I am not the only one who has thought of this. There are literally a thousand recipes on the internet.

This idea of using the muffin pan is perfect for a quick breakfast, lunch or a grab & go snack to bring along for a busy day. It would be ideal for those of you who have lost your appetite & need a calorie dense mini-meal. Let’s explore some of these ideas.


My go to for potlucks is a vegetarian, spinach & mushroom, quiche. I found several crust-less quiche recipes for a muffin pan. These would be easy to make & they could be frozen & warmed up when needed.

Mushroom, Spinach &  Mozzarella Mini Crustless Quiches 
Makes 12 muffin-size quiches

Cooking spray or grease with coconut oil
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, diced
5 ounces fresh baby spinach You could also use frozen spinach well drained
6 ounces crimini or button mushrooms, sliced
5 eggs
1 cup grated mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup 2 % milk or a nut milk or coconut milk
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Generously spray a standard-sized muffin tin with cooking spray, making sure to cover each cup completely. Set aside.

Heat a large saute pan over medium heat. Add olive oil. When the oil begins to shimmer, add onions. Cook until softened, about 5-8 minutes.

Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring, until they shrink in size and begin to brown, about 5 minutes.

Turn the heat to low and mound the spinach on top of the mushrooms and onions. It will look like a lot of spinach, but it will wilt down. Gently stir until spinach wilts, about 2 minutes.

Set aside to cool.

Crack eggs into a medium mixing bowl. Pour in the milk. Whisk until the eggs and milk completely combine and the mixture slightly fluffy, about 1 minute. Stir in the cheese, salt and pepper.

When the spinach and mushroom mixture has cooled slightly, add it to the egg mixture and stir gently to combine.

Fill each muffin cup with 1/4 cup of egg and vegetable mixture (I like to use  1/4 cup measuring cup).

Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the tops of the mini quiches begin to brown.

Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes. Run a butter knife around each mini quiche to free it from the muffin tin. Serve warm or at room temp. 

Spinach Quiche Cups from Manila Spoon: Completely gluten-free and low-carb is this healthy and delicious quiche that everyone will enjoy. You can tweak the recipe to add your favorite vegetables! 

Ingredients
A little olive oil (for cooking the mushrooms)
1 (10 oz) package fresh spinach (I used the baby ones) — about 284 grams
4 eggs (if the yolks are quite small I use 5 eggs)
1 cup shredded cheese of your choice (I use mozzarella or the Italian Blend)
1 (8 oz package) mini-bella mushrooms, chopped

1-2 Tbsp, heavy cream or half-and-half (optional)

Salt and Pepper, to taste

*Variation – If you don’t fancy mushrooms, try asparagus or bell peppers with the spinach. Also, add some onions to the mix. I add some when I do not use mushrooms.

Procedure: Preheat the oven to 375F or 190C.

Heat a little oil in a large skillet. Saute the mushrooms until they are soft, about 5-6 minutes. Set Aside.

Place the spinach in a deep pan or in the skillet that you used for the mushrooms. Add a little water, 1/4 cup should do it. Using medium heat, cook the spinach just until wilted, about 3-4 mins. Use either your hand or a spatula to pack in the spinach. Drain the excess water really well (especially if you decide to use frozen spinach instead).

In a large mixing bowl, whisk the eggs until combined. Add the cooked mushrooms, spinach, cheeses and cream (if using) to the eggs. Mix well. Season to taste. 

Divide evenly among the 12 muffin cups. Bake for about 20-23 minutes, or until it’s well set and a tester/toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Leave in the pan for a few minutes or just until it’s cool enough to handle. It was so easy to remove them from the pan! They practically pop-out!


Want a healthy turkey idea? 

Muffin Tin Mini Lasagnas from Tracey’s Culinary Adventures I like this recipe because it uses turkey rather than beef & uses wonton wrappers instead of noodles.  barely adapted from Can You Stay for Dinner?

12 oz ground turkey
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 cup chopped mushrooms
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 (15 oz) can tomato sauce
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano, divided
pinch red pepper flakes
1 1/2 cups part-skim ricotta cheese
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
24 wonton wrappers
1 1/2 cups shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 375 F. Spray a 12-cup muffin tin generously with nonstick cooking spray. or coconut oil.

Add the ground turkey, onions, mushrooms, salt, and pepper to a large skillet set over medium to medium-high heat. Using a wooden spoon, break the turkey up into small crumbles and cook for about 10 minutes, or until the turkey has browned. Stir in the garlic and cook for 30 seconds to 1 minute, just until fragrant. Add the tomato sauce, 1 teaspoon of the oregano, and the red pepper flakes, and stir to combine. Taste and season with additional salt and pepper if desired. Bring the sauce to a gentle boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.

In a medium bowl, stir together the ricotta, the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of oregano, the basil, and a pinch each of salt and pepper.

To assemble: Press 1 wonton wrapper into each well of the muffin pan – be sure to press them into the bottom and sides of the pan. Working with half of the ricotta mixture, divide it among the wells of the pan evenly, pressing the ricotta into an even layer. Working with half of the tomato sauce, divide it among the wells of the pan, spreading in an even layer rather than mounding. Sprinkle 2 teaspoons of the mozzarella over the top of each mini lasagna. Press a second wonton wrapper onto each mini lasagna then repeat the process of layering using the second half of the ricotta mixture, the remaining half of the tomato sauce and finally two more teaspoons of the mozzarella per cup.

Bake the mini lasagnas for 10 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and bubbly. Remove the muffin pan to a wire rack and let the mini lasagnas cool for a few minutes before removing them. Garnish with fresh basil before serving, if desired.


This Mexican food recipe can be changed to fit your taste. Again, it uses wonton wrappers. Go to the recipe link to see photos of how to put it together.

Crunchy Taco Cups from Kevin & Amanda 

YIELD: 12 CUPS (ABOUT 3-4 SERVINGS).

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb lean ground beef, browned and drained Can be omitted. Use ground turkey, seitan or beans instead.
  • 1 envelope (3 tablespoons) taco seasoning
  • 1 (10-oz) can Ro-Tel Diced Tomatoes and Green Chiles
  • 1 1/2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (or Mexican blend)
  • 24 wonton wrappers

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Generously coat a standard size muffin tin with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. Combine cooked beef, taco seasoning, and tomatoes in a bowl and stir to combine. Line each cup of prepared muffin tin with a wonton wrapper. Add 1.5 tablespoons taco mixture. Top with 1 tablespoon of cheese. Press down and add another layer of wonton wrapper, taco mixture, and a final layer of cheese.
  3. Bake at 375 for 11-13 minutes until cups are heated through and edges are golden.

Breakfast ideas:

BREAKFAST HASH BROWN CUPS from Delicious  YIELD: 12 SERVINGS, PREP TIME: 15 MINUTES, COOK TIME: 50 MINUTES, TOTAL TIME: 1 HOUR, 5 MINUTES

Tender-crisp hash browns topped with eggs, bacon, spinach and mushrooms. Easy to make and so perfect to serve large crowds!”

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 (20-ounce) package refrigerated hash brown potatoes
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon hot sauce
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 slices bacon, diced Can be omitted.
  • 8 ounces cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 1 bell pepper, diced
  • 1 cup chopped baby spinach
  • 1/2 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese, divided

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly coat a 12-cup muffin tin with nonstick spray. Divide potatoes into each of the 12 muffin tins, pressing carefully to make sure there is an opening in the center. Place into oven and bake for 22-25 minutes, or until golden brown; set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, Worcestershire and hot sauce; season with salt and pepper, to taste. Set aside.

Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add bacon and cook until brown and crispy, about 6-8 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate; drain excess fat, reserving 1 tablespoon in the skillet. Add mushrooms and bell pepper to the skillet. Cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 4-5 minutes. Stir in egg mixture until the eggs are completely set, about 3-4 minutes. Stir in spinach, 1/4 cup cheese and bacon until the spinach has wilted, about 2 minutes.

Spoon egg mixture into the muffin tins and sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup cheese. Place into oven and bake for 3-4 minutes, or until the cheese has melted.

Ingredients:

  • 5 eggs 
  • Splash of milk
  • 1 (10 oz) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry 
  • 2 chopped scallions 
  • 1 cup shredded cheese of your choice (you can also use feta or goat cheese) 
  • Salt and Pepper, to taste

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375F. Spray a 12-cup muffin tin with non-stick cooking spray. Beat eggs with the splash of milk. Season with salt and pepper. Evenly distribute the spinach and scallions in each muffin cup. Next, pour the egg mixture on top – evenly distributing among the muffin cups. Sprinkle the cheese on top of each cup. Bake for about 20-23 minutes, or until the egg cups are well set and a tester/toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Serve immediately.

If you want to freeze the egg cups, let cool completely then wrap each egg cup individually in plastic wrap and transfer to a large freezer zip lock bag. Freeze up to one month. To serve from freezer, either thaw overnight in the fridge then re-warm in microwave or oven, or take directly from the freezer to the microwave and heat until thawed and warmed. Remove from the plastic wrap before placing in microwave!


This is another good idea for those of you on the go! 

Time-Saving Tip: Freeze Smoothie Ingredients in Muffin Tins“Instead of rounding up smoothie ingredients such as bananas, greens, and protein powder on the spot, Muffin Tin Mania’s Matt Kadey recommends blending a batch ahead of time. Freeze the mixture in muffin tins and then store in a zip-top bag for later. When you’re in the mood for a smoothie, you can quickly toss a couple of these frozen smoothie cups in a blender with liquid such as water, coconut water, or milk.” Go to the site for recipes. 

Muffin Tin Mania & Green Smoothie Cups Love this site. Of course this recipe in particular caught my eye!

Java Chocolate Smoothie Cups

  • 3 cups strongly brewed coffee, cooled 
  • 2 bananas 
  • 1/2 cup chocolate hemp protein or other protein powder of choice 
  • 1/2 cup almonds 
  • 1/3 cup pitted dried dates, chopped 
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract 
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

Place coffee, bananas, protein powder, almonds, dates, extract and cinnamon and in a blender container. Turn blender onto its low setting and process for 20 seconds. Switch to the high setting and blend until dates and almonds are pulverized, about 1 minute.

Divide mixture among 12 medium sized muffin cups. Place trays in the freezer and freeze until solid. Unmold coffee cups and store in the freezer in a zip-top bag.

When it comes time to make a smoothie, simply place a couple of frozen coffee cups in a blender along with about 1 1/2 cups liquid (I use 1 cup milk and 1/2 cup water) and blend until smooth. If your blender does not have a lot of power, you may want to carefully slice the frozen cups into halves or quarters before blending. I need to try this one!


Simple ideas worth considering:

Falafels are one of our favorites. I don’t like to make them because they are usually fried. I saw several recipes that put the mix into a muffin tin & baked them at 375 for 20 minutes. One recipe scooped the falafel mixture into each cup & the other one rolled them & put each ball into a cup. These could be frozen to be used as needed.

Any favorite meatloaf, vegetarian or vegan loaf recipe could be put into a muffin tin. You can even put the sauce on top. These could also be frozen.

Poached Eggs: foodnetwork “Spoon 1 tablespoon hot water into each muffin cup. Crack 1 egg into each cup; season with salt and pepper. Bake at 350 degrees F to desired doneness, 12 to 14 minutes. Carefully remove with a spoon.”

Use a mini-muffin pan for some of the recipes. Especially good for appetizers, mini-appetites 🙂 & children’s portions.

For stuffed peppers, you can stand each one in a muffin tin cup, then bake!

Make your favorite soup, pour into muffin cups & freeze. Pop out each frozen “soup muffin” & store in a freezer container. Take out & warm as needed!

Invest in regular, jumbo & mini sized muffin tins. The jumbo size holds one cup of recipe per muffin cup. Wilton Muffin Tins


Now I have to decide which recipe I am going to try! Until next week…Mary 🙂

***Update: I did make this recipe for Thanksgiving: Vegan Green Bean Casserole by Minimalist Baker It was by far the best green bean casserole I have eaten. I added another cup of mushrooms to the recipe & for the vegetable broth I used “Not-Chick’n Bullion Cubes”. It is more labor intensive than opening cans, but it is worth it.


Resources: For more recipes & ideas.

  • 30 Surprising Things You Can Make With Your Muffin Tin Great ideas!
  • 19 Portable Meals You Can Make in a Muffin Tin: from Greatist.com “All muffins, all the time. That’s our new rallying cry, especially now that we’ve discovered muffins can be healthy. But did you know that your muffin pan is secretly a multitasking tool? Yes, really. Think beyond blueberry muffins and vanilla cupcakes, as this tin can make any number of single-serving meals and snacks. There’s so much to love here: These recipes are portable, portion-size, and photogenic. (Instagram-worthy snacks on the go? Sign us up!) Plus, so many make easy party foods and can be made ahead of time.”
  • 12 Delicious Vegan Recipes You Can Make in a Muffin Pan from ChooseVeg.com
  • 14 Meals in a Muffin Tin from Get Healthy U: “Dust off your muffin tin because it is time to get cooking with these 14 healthy muffin tin recipes! These muffin tin meals are an easy way to create unique and versatile dishes that are perfect for just one or a big group. These tasty morsels are filled with fresh ingredients that your tummy and body will love. Many of these healthy muffin recipes make incredible appetizers too, so let’s have a party!”
  • 15 savory recipes to make in a muffin tin right now from HellaWella: “If you live in an apartment, you probably already know all too well that space comes at a premium. Not everyone has room to store a vast assortment of kitchen gadgets and essentials, which means some of them need to multitask. Take the muffin tin, for instance. It’s not just for making muffins anymore. We found you 15 savory treats to whip up in a muffin tin, and they travel beautifully. These nibbles are sure to be a hit at any indoor or outdoor get-together.”
  • Healthy Muffin Tin Recipes “Find healthy, delicious muffin tin recipes including lasagnas, oatmeal, pie and more. Healthier recipes, from the food and nutrition experts at EatingWell.”
  • Muffin Tin Mania & Green Smoothie Cups  
  • Time-Saving Tip: Freeze Smoothie Ingredients in Muffin Tins:
  • 50 Things to Make in a Muffin Pan “Every dish is more fun when it’s mini…”
  • 1000+ Jumbo Muffin Tin Recipes on Pinterest!  

Thanksgiving: New Recipes!

calendar-thanksgiving

MHollander

I was shocked to see that Thanksgiving was only a few days away on my calendar this morning. I am not ready. We usually have a Tofurkey as the centerpiece of the meal. I haven’t been able to find one & I am too late to order one. What to do? Research for recipes online, that’s what to do 🙂

In case you have forgotten about my post last year: Thanksgiving Recipes: “Thanksgiving is a time to be grateful & a time to spend with loved ones. It is also a time of feasting! I would like to add here that it is also a day to enjoy your food. A day of gratitude & loved ones is better for your immune system than any diet you are currently on! So, throw out the self-imposed eating rules, say a blessing of gratitude & enjoy.”  

Rodale’s Organic Living has a wonderful post this month about 5 Ways Gratitude Starts at Your Table.  “Gratitude is healing. And here is how you can tap into that healing power this Thanksgiving.” Take time to read the article. Here is the essence:

  1. BE THANKFUL FOR THE FOOD
  2. BE THANKFUL FOR THE PEOPLE WHO GREW THE FOOD
  3. BE THANKFUL FOR THE PEOPLE WHO BROUGHT YOU THE FOOD
  4. BE THANKFUL FOR EACH OTHER
  5. BE THANKFUL FOR THE MOMENT

WebMD’s Newsletter this week is about foods that help fight depression. Here is #1. 

roasted turkey
Turkey

The traditional Thanksgiving bird has the protein building-block tryptophan, which your body uses to make serotonin. That’s a brain chemical that plays a key role in depression, researchers say. In fact, some antidepressant drugs work by targeting the way your brain uses serotonin. You can get the same mood-boosting effect from chicken and soybeans.

Are you unable to join family or friends for Thanksgiving? Here are a few good turkey recipes for two.


Are you a vegan or vegetarian? Check out these recipes:


Let’s not forget about stuffing! Since I don’t have a turkey to stuff, I make stuffing as a side dish. Here are some ideas.


Side Dishes:


Desert; if you can still move 🙂


Leftovers! I emailed my daughter a recipe for leftover green bean casserole; how to turn it into a quiche. She quickly responded with: “People have leftovers?”. Forgot she is feeding 2 teenage sons & their friends 🙂


Banjo, my furry grandson. Mhollander

Banjo, my furry grandson. Mhollander

Thanksgiving & Pets. This is for those of you who have fur-babies. 

Thanksgiving & Your Pet by Mindy Norton at Alabama Public Radio Sharing Thanksgiving foods with your best friend (or friends) is fine, as long as you make sure it’s safe for them.  Just give them small amounts, and they will enjoy the treat!  

Foods to avoid are those that contain things like grapes or raisins, which can cause kidney failure in a pet. Likewise, it’s a good idea to pass on anything containing onions or garlic, unless it is thoroughly cooked. Even then, letting your pet have too much could result in toxic anemia. People who are watching their weight may use artificial sweeteners, but one in particular, Xylitol, is poisonous to pets and can be fatal. Most folks know not to feed chocolate to their pets, but be careful of dishes that may contain baking chocolate as one of the ingredients; baking chocolate is more of a threat than milk chocolate. Also on the taboo list is alcohol.

So what can you share with your pet? PetPD.com says cooked vegetables like green beans and carrots are actually good for your furry friend. Mashed potatoes can also be a good choice for a treat, as long as they haven’t been “enhanced” with things like gravy, onions, butter, sour cream. If your pet can tolerate dairy products, you might want to share a small amount of your mac-and-cheese. A little taste of cranberry sauce wouldn’t hurt your four-footed friend. And best of all, you can share some turkey! Just make sure to remove any bones.

Table scraps should never be the bulk of your pet’s diet, but if you keep it healthy and give only modest amounts, both of you can enjoy the Thanksgiving holiday in style. And when you’re counting the things that you’re thankful for, remember to include on your list the warmth and companionship of your furry best friend – when you’re speaking of pets.

__>^..^<__


Happy Thanksgiving!…..Mary 🙂

Cold & Flu Season

Tea 1 (2)

MHollander

The cold & flu season is upon us once again. I am going to share 2 of my posts from September, 2015. I have updated them & added additional information. I recommend these remedies & teas for everyone, not just cancer patients in or out of treatment, but for family, caregivers & friends as well.

Oncologists differ in what they ask you to NOT take during your treatment. Please check with them before you start using any of these products. 

What can you safely use for cold & flu symptoms before, during & after chemotherapy, radiation or surgery? There are literally thousands of over the counter remedies to choose from. Most of these have ingredents that will interact with medications & may have side effects. I will talk about remedies that are natural & easy to find. I will also note if there are any drug interactions that you should be aware of. 

Lets begin with ways to help stimulate the immune system to fight off colds & flu. Here are the obvious ones.

  • Eat a balanced, plant based, healthy diet. Think Mediterranean 🙂
  • Eliminate added sugar & processed foods.
  • Alleviate stress with mindfulness programs, meditation, art, massage & other non-drug, complementary therapies.
  • Exercise: Walks, Yoga, Zumba etc.

My husband was a teacher & then a sub for elementary grades. He was exposed to a lot of germs from those little people. Starting at the end of August I recommended that he take the following. ***Even though we are not around children anymore, except when out shopping, or at events, we continue this as a preventative measure.

  • Vitamin C:  1000 mgm each morning. This is an anti-oxidant & you should check with your health care team if you are taking chemotherapy or in radiation.
  • Elderberry Syrup: 1 Tablespoon each morning during flu season. Black elderberries are anti-viral & will relieve flu symptoms. They are also protective if taken every morning during the flu season. Sambucus Syrup by Nature’s Way is a good, safe brand to use. Gaia Black Elderberry Syrup is another good, safe brand.  This is also an anti-oxidant & you should check with your health care team if you are taking chemotherapy or in radiation. 

Herbal Teas are wonderful to help with cold & flu symptoms. Taken in tea form, two or three times a day, they will not interact with medications. Here are 2 safe brands of herbal medicinal teas I use & recommend. I have also included a few that you should know about for other problems 🙂 Explore the tea aisle of your store or go to the links I have provided to see what other seasonal, medicinal, teas there are.

Traditional Medicinals Seasonal Teas: These are the teas that I have personal experience with. Traditional Medicinals are organic, herbal teas. Herbal teas should be steeped for  7-10 minutes. Follow the directions on the package.

  • Gypsy Cold Care: I use this tea when exposed to a cold or when I start with the runny nose & itchy eyes. I drink an 8 ounce cup three times a day for 2 to 3 days. “Elder, yarrow and peppermint—the foundation of this tea—are a classic European blend of herbs used for centuries. We love the aroma of the pungent, minty steam that rises off this tea. Sip slowly and let your weary body be comforted by its warming properties. Fragrant and soothing, it’s one of those teas that just seems to say, “don’t worry, everything’s going to be all right.”
  • Throat Coat: The herbal ingredients in this tea soothe a raw throat. I have also used it for GERD or acid reflux. Works well for both. “Slippery elm or Ulmus rubra (Latin for “red elm,” so called for its lovely reddish bark) is a beautiful, native North American elm tree. It’s the inner bark of this tree that is actually called “slippery elm” due to its, yes, slippery, smooth, and slimy-in-a-good-way properties. Combined with licorice and marshmallow root, we think this tea blend is like taking your voice to the spa—because we all need a little comfort sometimes so we can get back to being our best.”
  • Breathe Easy: Love this tea! It opens up those bronchial. When my grandsons were babies & had a bad cold where they weren’t able to lie down because of respiratory congestion, I gave them a tablespoon or two of prepared tea. Within a few minutes they were asleep. I also use it for other types of respiratory congestion such as asthma. “One of our original formulas, Breathe Easy tea has been supporting people for nearly four decades. This enduring classic combines the best of Western herbalism with ancient Traditional Chinese wisdom resulting in a unique blend that warms and engages the senses. Eucalyptus, fennel and licorice are combined with Bi Yan Pian extract, a traditional Chinese formula of 12 different herbs. We love this aromatic and fragrant blend that soothes with its warm and spicy taste.”
  • Echinacea PlusEchinacea is a good immune stimulant. This tea or Echinacea Plus Elderberry is very good.  “Echinacea—or purple coneflower—was used by a number of Native American tribes for hundreds of years before it was introduced into Western herbal traditions in the late 1800s. Today, it is one of the most studied herbs. We love how this pleasant-tasting herbal blend supports a healthy immune system response.”
  • You should also know about other teas that I recommend: Smoothe Move for constipation, even when chemotherapy induced. Ginger Aid for all nausea & Nighty Night tea for those sleepless nights. 
  • Cooling Sage: I am adding this one for those of you with menopausal symptoms. Sage is an amazing herb that I grow to use medicinally.  Relieves excess sweating and the night sweats associated with menopausal hot flashes. Reason to Love: While we won’t say the sage in this tea has mystical properties, we do know that the Latin name for sage (Salvia) means “to be saved.” When menopause brings on those hot flashes and excess sweating – being saved is exactly what you might need! We love this traditional blend of sage and motherwort for its ability to help relieve hot flashes associated with menopause and soothe the body and spirit.” ***A follow-up note for breast cancer patients suffering from hot flashes &/or night sweats….our fellow NUT, Terrie, shared this article in Cure with me. Acupuncture Could Cool Hot Flashes in Breast Cancer Survivors Thank you Terrie!

Yogi Cold Weather Season Teas: This brand is as good as Traditional Medicinals. It is a fantastic company & uses Organic herbs. Herbal teas should be steeped for 7-10 minutes. Follow the directions on the package.

  • Breathe Deep: Similar to Breathe Easy. I prefer the herbs used in Breathe Easy, but both work the same. See which one works best for you. “Relax and breathe in the enchanting aroma of a steaming cup of Yogi Breathe Deep tea. This all organic blend of herbs is purposefully formulated to support respiratory health. Traditionally used to support free breathing, we include Thyme and soothing, aromatic Eucalyptus. Warming spices Cinnamon, Cardamom and Ginger, combine with Licorice for a naturally spicy-sweet blend. Enjoy this tea plain or with a little honey, and experience delight with every steaming cup of Breathe Deep tea.”
  • Honey Lemon Throat Comfort & Throat Comfort: “The perfect way to help soothe your throat is with a cup of our certified organic Honey Lemon Throat Comfort® tea. This traditional herbal formula, flavored with Honey and Lemon, includes Slippery Elm Bark, prized by Western herbalists for its usefulness in relieving minor throat irritation. Wild Cherry Bark, traditionally used by native North Americans for its soothing effects, lends a naturally sweet cherry flavor. We augment this recipe with Echinacea Root and a burst of Peppermint for cooling refreshment. Enjoy our Honey Lemon Throat Comfort tea as a naturally tasty treat or when you need a gentle and comforting blend to soothe your throat.” Both teas are excellent to soothe the throat. Throat Comfort would be the one to use for GERD or gastric reflux. The lemon in the other one may irritate the gastric lining in this case.
  • Cold Season Tea: A good “protective” tea for the cold season. Like Gypsy Cold Care, I use it when I know I have been exposed to a cold or I begin to have the runny nose & itchy eyes. “Cold Season is a soothing all organic herbal tea specifically formulated for use during the cold weather season. We start with the warming herbs traditionally used in Ayurveda–Ginger, Cardamom, Cinnamon and Clove–known as heating herbs that can help to support respiratory and bronchial function. The blend is complemented with Peppermint, Eucalyptus and Basil, herbs traditionally used for their warming and invigorating properties. So when the cold weather season arrives, relax and sip a steaming cup of Cold Season tea to help keep your internal fire blazing.”
  • Echinacea Immune Support: Good tea to support immune function. Health practitioners for centuries have respected the powers of Echinacea. Traditionally used for centuries, our exclusive combination combines three varieties of Echinacea root, an herb that is believed by herbalists to support the immune system. We complement this blend with Elder Berry Extract and soothing Organic Mullein Leaf, herbs traditionally used to help support respiratory function. Hints of spice combine with lively Peppermint, Lemongrass, Rose Hip and sweet Licorice for an intriguingly delicious blend. This blend is sure to become an all-season favorite as well as when your immune system needs support.”
  • Other Yogi teas that I recommend: Get Regular  for constipation, even when chemotherapy induced. Ginger for all nausea & Bedtime for those sleepless nights!

Lozenges for colds, coughs & sore throats: Cough suppressants prevent or stop a cough. An expectorant is a medication that helps bring up the mucus in the lungs.

I saw 2 interesting questions on line about cough drops; How many calories are there in one cough drop? & How many cough drops would be an overdose? I don’t think calories should be a concern when you are coughing your lungs up 🙂 & you should not be eating these like candy. Most packages say the “serving size” is one lozenge & should be taken as needed up to 5 lozenges PER DAY. 

  • Organic Sambucus Lozenges by Nature’s Way: These lozenges shorten my cold symptoms & reduce the severity. They contain Elderberry, Vitamin C & Zinc. I also use them as a cough suppressant. “Made with unique, full-spectrum black elderberry extract. Each lozenge provides 12.5 mg of Black Elderberry Extract, plus 5 mg of Zinc~should never exceed 10mg~ and 60 mg Vitamin C.”
  • Ricola Original Natural Herb Cough Drop: My husband prefers these. They are cough suppressants & work every time he uses them. Ricola original herb cough drops contain the goodness of mountain herbs. This classic Ricola product has a distinctive cube shape and fine herb flavor. Original Ricola natural herb cough drops are made today just as they were in the 1940’s using the highest quality natural herbs cultivated in Swiss alpine areas using natural farming methods without chemical pesticides to ensure optimum taste and effectiveness.” Their sugar-free cough drops with green tea & echinacea contain Aspartame. Unless you have a medical reason to use a sugar-free cough drop, I would not use them.
  • Smith Brothers & Halls: Both have ingredients & dyes that I would not recommend. Check out their websites & see what you think.

Aromatherapy essential Oils for congestion & cough: Use these in a diffuser or humidifier~ using the manufacturers instructions~ in the “sick” room. Do not use directly on the skin or internally. You can also put a few drops of the essential oil onto a cotton ball & place it on your bedside table or even in your pillow case.

  • Eucalyptus essential oil: Congestion & cough. Anti-microbial.
  • Camphor essential oil: Congestion. Can be combined with eucalyptus for use in diffuser/humidifier. Add equal drops.
  • Peppermint essential oil: Congestion & headache. Anti-bacterial.
  • Thyme essential oil: Congestion & cough.
  • Tea Tree essential oil: Clears sick room; anti-viral. Congestion & cough.
  • Oregano essential oil: Proven antibacterial. Fights sinus infections.
  • Orange essential oil: Stimulates appetite. Add a drop to your place-mat or napkin 🙂

Umcka Cold Care : Umcka Original Drops are made by Nature’s Way. One of my daughter’s favorite cold care remedies for my grandsons. This product is Homeopathic which means it will not interact with any medications. “Umcka goes beyond symptom relief and actually helps you recover faster – which means you can get back to life faster, too. In fact, studies show that adults with acute bronchial irritations were able to return to work nearly two days earlier with EPs 7630. You can feel confident knowing that the EPs 7630 found within Umcka has been widely studied by various clinical organizations in the treatment of the common cold, bronchial irritations and other upper respiratory concerns.” 

Olbas Oil:  Place a drop or two on a cotton ball or a handkerchief. Place it on or under your pillow when napping or before bed time. It will act as a decongestant. Olbas Oil originated in Basel, Switzerland over 100 years ago, and continues to be a European and worldwide favorite. The natural essential oils in Olbas are extracted from six medicinal herbs, which have been the basis of healing in cultures around the world for centuries. These oils are carefully blended by Swiss herbalists, making the Olbas formula truly unique. The synergistic combination of these six essential oils provides amazing sensations to your body at multiple levels.”

*** If your sore throat or cough is severe, persists for more than 2 days, is accompanied or followed by fever, headache, rash, swelling, nausea, or vomiting, call your health care team. This may be more than a cold or a mild case of the flu.


image

MHollander

Growing up in the 1950’s with a stay at home mother who loved to cook, bake, & garden, taught me to use what I have at hand. She didn’t drive so she couldn’t run to the drugstore when we had a sore throat, cough or a high fever. The phrase that comes to mind from those times is, “think simple”. Simple is cheaper & usually better.

There are many homemade remedies to treat the symptoms from a cold or flu. I will share the ones that I use & that I know work. Each year more over the counter cold & flu remedies are pulled off the shelf by the FDA due to ingredients that are harmful to both adults & children. Sometimes over the counter cold & flu remedies make you feel worse because of the side-effects & the cost 🙂

If you don’t grow your own herbs then you can purchase fresh herbs like sage, thyme & rosemary in the produce section of the market. You can also use dried. Simply buy them in the spice aisle. There are many sage’s. The one to use medicinally is the culinary sage. At the end of this post is a list of resources. They are my well used & loved herbal reference books & websites.


Sore throats can be bacterial or viral infections. The majority of them are due to viral infections heralding the start of a common cold. Throat inflammation is an immune response to the virus & usually accompanies a runny nose & cough. The following simple remedies will relieve the soreness & calm the inflammation in the throat.

  • Gargle with warm salt water. Water should be warm to the touch but not hot.

1 cup of water & 1/4 tsp salt. Swish & spit.

  • Sore Throat Gargle by the herbalist Rosemary Gladstar. This one has a bit of Zip to it. Rosemary says that she is the first to admit that it isn’t her tastiest recipe but it works for both sore throats & laryngitis.

1 cup of apple cider vinegar ~I use Bragg’s~

1 cup of strong (triple strength) sage tea ~I use 3 tablespoons of fresh sage or you can use 3 teaspoons dried sage, bring 1 cup of water to boil, add sage & steep for 15 minutes~

2-3 teaspoons of salt

Pinch of Cayenne

Combine all of the ingredients. Gargle frequently as needed throughout the day. Don’t swallow, swish & spit.

  • Sage Gargle. This is an old family recipe that Dr. Low Dog recommends for a sore throat. It works quickly.

1 tablespoon fresh sage leaves or 2 teaspoons of dried sage 

1/4 teaspoon salt  

1 cup of water

Bring the water to a boil, add sage, cover & let steep for 10 minutes. Strain, pour into a tea mug, add the salt & stir.

Gargle every 1-2 hours, or as needed. Don’t swallow, swish & spit.

Dr. Low Dog notes that this gargle can be used along with antibiotics for strep throat.

Strep throat symptoms By Mayo Clinic Staff  In general, signs and symptoms of strep throat include: (Click on the link & read the entire article for when to see the doctor etc.)

  • Throat pain
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Red and swollen tonsils, sometimes with white patches or streaks of pus
  • Tiny red spots on the soft or hard palate — the area at the back of the roof of the mouth
  • Swollen, tender lymph glands (nodes) in your neck
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Rash
  • Stomachache and sometimes vomiting, especially in younger children
  • Fatigue

***Strep throat is bacterial & different than a cold because it never has the stuffy nose & cough. Strep throat is highly contagious so it is important to be treated immediately with a course of antibiotics. 


Cough. This is your bodies way of telling you that you have too much mucous, gastric acid, or you have been breathing in smoke. It varies from a small irritating tickle in the back of your throat to a full blown wet cough. Coughs that accompany colds last about 3 weeks. If they last longer than that or continue to get worse you should consult your health care team.

  • Honey has been used for coughs forever! Researchers have studied different types of honey & found that all of them work as well as any over the counter cough syrup. It is especially effective for children over the age of 12 months to relieve a nighttime cough. Dosage is 1-2 teaspoons before bed. Works for adults too 🙂 It is a great soother for throat cancer patients with sores or thrush in the mouth & throat. 

***Honey should never be given, even a tiny taste, to children under the age of 12 months. Wild honey can be contaminated with bacteria, Clostridium Botulinum, & may cause poisoning in infants and young children. However, this is not a danger for older children and adults.

  • Thyme Cough Syrup by Dr. Low Dog. This is her go-to cough syrup because it works quickly, is safe, tastes great & costs very little to make. Thyme relieves coughs & congestion.

4 tablespoons fresh Thyme or 4 teaspoons dried Thyme ~culinary, common garden thyme~

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1 cup of water

1/4 cup honey, preferably raw & local or 1/4 cup maple syrup if using it for a child under 12 months of age.

Pour near-boiling water over thyme & steep, covered, for 15 minutes. strain. Add honey & lemon juice. Refrigerate for up to 1 week.

Children 12 months or older: 1-2 teaspoons every 2-3 hours as needed.

Teens & Adults: 1-2 tablespoons every 2-3 hours as needed.


Congestion. This is usually an excessive amount of mucus or secretions in your respiratory track. It causes difficulty breathing thru the nose or sometimes even the mouth. If the congestion becomes worse & you have difficulty breathing then it indicates that it has moved lower into the lungs. You should seek medical advice.

  • Warm water with lemon & honey helps loosen congestion, and prevents dehydration. 
  • My recipe; for colds & upper respiratory congestion. I don’t know where the original recipe came from, but I have tweaked it enough over the years to call it mine 🙂 It works well.

1 cup of water  

1/4 cup unfiltered apple cider vinegar~I use Bragg’s~

Juice of 1 fresh lime

Honey to taste

1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger root 

1/4 teaspoon Cayenne powder ~ don’t use less, even if you don’t like cayenne~

Bring the water to a boil & then add the rest of the ingredients. Let sit overnight before using. Can be refrigerated for up to 1 week. I prefer to use it warm. Take 1-2 tablespoons as needed. For children over the age of 4, 1 teaspoon as needed. It is quite spicy! 

  • Fire CiderThere are many versions of fire cider. I use Rosemary Gladstar’s. This is an immune enhancer, can be used for digestive problems, sinus infection & congestion!

3-4 Tablespoons fresh horseradish root grated I tried using horseradish powder when I couldn’t find the root; did not work!

1 medium onion chopped

4-5 cloves of garlic coursley chopped

3-4 tablespoons freshly grated gingerroot

Honey to taste

1/4 teaspoon cayenne powder

unfiltered apple cider vinegar~I use Bragg’s~

Combine the onion, garlic, ginger & horseradish in a wide mouthed glass quart jar. Add enough warmed vinegar to cover them. Place it in a warm spot & let it sit for 3-4 weeks. Strain, & add the honey & cayenne. It should taste lively, hot, pungent & sweet.

Take 1-2 teaspoons at the first sign of a cold & repeat every 3-4 hours until symptoms subside. 


Cold Remedies. Fire Cider ~above~ & Honey-Onion Syrup are to fight off a cold. You can use either of them at the first sign of a cold or if you are already suffering from one.

  • Honey-Onion Syrup for Colds. Rosemary Gladstar shared this old fashioned recipe for sore throats & colds. 

2-4 large onions sliced into thin half-moons & place in a deep pan. Just barely cover the onion slices with honey.

Warm on the stove over a very low heat until the onions are soft & somewhat mushy & the honey tastes strongly of onion.

You can add chopped garlic if you want for an even stronger syrup: stronger medicinally & tasting!

At the first sign of a cold take 1/2 to 1 teaspoon every hour or two until you feel better. If you already have a cold then take 1 teaspoon 3-4 times a day to speed your recovery.

  • Chicken Soup: Studies of homemade chicken soup to cure or limit a cold have shown that it acts as an anti-inflammatory. It also speeds up the movement of mucus through the nose. This can relieve congestion & prevent dehydration. Homemade is the best, but if you buy an organic canned soup then check the list of ingredients. Here are two websites with both vegetarian & non-vegetarian immune boosting soups.

Super Soups: Vegetarian Times “Nearly every culture turns to soup to heal, nourish, and soothe. Whether you’re battling a bad cold or the stomach flu, the food that can always comfort and nourish is soup. “Soups are warm and easy to take,” says Andrew Weil, MD, director of the University of Arizona’s Integrative Medicine Program. “They’re an excellent way to get nutrients, and they provide good associations for people.” Research confirms the health-giving properties of these home remedies and their active ingredients. Try these healing soup recipes from all over the world to ward off illness or just warm up a chilly weeknight supper.”


Fever. If you have a fever of 103 or higher & it lasts more than 3 days you should consult your health team. A fever means a healthy immune system. It is telling your body to raise the heat to defend itself. You don’t need to treat the fever. You need to treat whatever is causing the fever. Support the body during the time you have the fever by doing the following.

  • Hydrate. It is easy to become dehydrated when you have a fever. Drink water, juice, & healthy broths. Avoid alcohol, coffee and caffeinated drinks. Chamomile & or Lemon Balm tea are calming & hydrating.
  • Rest. Sleep does wonders when you are ill.
  • Nourishment. Healthy broths & soups ~see chicken soup above~
  • Cool down. Wear light clothes. Taking a tepid, not cold, bath can help as long as you wrap up in a towel after the bath to avoid being too chilled.

If you have any questions or you have a family remedy you would like to share, email me! I would love to collect some old family herbal remedies…..Until next week…Mary 🙂


Resources:  Take time to look at the Plants Archives by Traditional Medicinals & the Yogi Tea: Well Being links below.

*** If your sore throat or cough is severe, persists for more than 2 days, is accompanied or followed by fever (103 or higher & lasts more than 3 days), headache, rash, swelling, nausea, or vomiting, call your health care team. This may be more than a cold or a mild case of the flu.

 

Healthy Snacks.

MHollander

MHollander

Snacks are an important part of our daily food intake. They can simply be a piece of fruit while out and about or they can make up your diet for the entire day. What we choose to snack on is important. We want something that is healthy & nutritionally dense. Halloween candy doesn’t count 🙂

True story…I was at my local natural food store, Wild Rivers, when a man loudly asked the cashier: “Where the hell is the junk food aisle? This is the only junk food I could find (he held up an organic bar of chocolate).” Everyone laughed. It occurred to me that most grocery stores have several aisles of junk food. Natural food stores don’t. They do have chocolate bars, protein bars & chips, but in general, the ingredients are not that bad. 

While you are out & about, it is easy to succumb to a muffin at Starbucks, a candy bar while getting gas for the car, or driving thru a fast food place. If you plan ahead you can have prepared snacks with you. Get a lunch box or bag for them along with a reusable bottle of water. Keep it with your purse or car keys to remind you to bring it along.

When you are feeling ill &/or in treatment, you have no appetite nor energy to fix a meal. In past discussions I have suggested that you eat at least 6-8 snacks a day instead of 3 meals. The reason I suggested this, is that you will take in more calories & nutrients eating small snacks all day instead of pushing the food around on your plate during a traditional meal. Check out my Topic: Nutrition Tips During Chemotherapy for additional information.

I have made it known in prior posts, how much I hate lunch. It is a meal that I just don’t understand. Nothing appeals to me & I end up eating nothing or I make a sandwich which I really don’t want. I like a healthy breakfast & a healthy dinner with snacks in between. The key to this is to have “snack stuff” on hand. As I researched snacks on line, lots of not so healthy ideas came up. But when I researched Mediterranean diet snacks, I found some wonderful ideas. 

What do I mean by a healthy Mediterranean diet snack?Old ways Mediterranian pyramid

Snacks based on this diet would include whole grains, nuts, legumes, fruits, vegetables, some dairy, & healthy fats. Fish & lean meats could also be included. Stock your pantry with them.  Mediterranean Organic is a line of Mediterranean products that can be found at Jimbo’s, Sprouts, Whole Foods & other markets. Go to the website & use the locator for a store near you. 

I enjoy sitting down to a plate with the following in small servings: 

Dolmas (stuffed grape leaves)…You can purchase these already made in the deli at most stores. You can also find them on the shelf.

Feta cheese… 2-3 small squares the size of dice.

Greek Olives…I buy them marinated in vinegar & water rather than in oil.

Sliced bell peppers or Peperonchini’s 

Tomato slices…I go for the cherry tomatoes.

Legumes I have on hand…1/4 cup of any bean or lentil.

Pita Bread or whole grain crackers.


Cleaveland Clinic: Mediterranean Diet-Friendly SnacksChickpeas roasted with olive oil, salt and paprika “It is possible to have a satisfyingly crunchy and salty snack without reaching for a bag of chips. Make your own spiced, roasted chickpeas: Rinse, drain and pat dry two cans of chickpeas. Place them on a rimmed baking sheet, and drizzle them with olive oil. Roast in a hot oven until dark and crunchy, 30 to 40 minutes. Sprinkle with salt and paprika to taste, and roast a few minutes more. Chickpeas and olive oil are staples of the Mediterranean diet; the beans are rich in fiber, and olive oil delivers heart-healthy monounsaturated fat. (And even your favorite picky eater will love them.) I make these from chickpeas that I have sprouted or if I am in a hurry I use the canned chickpeas. Very satisfying & can be added to other nut mixtures as a grab & go snack.


Healthy Living: 5 Healthy Snacks from the Mediterranean Diet:  1/4 Cup Hummus dip with 1/2 cup raw vegetables –  130 calories (Less than 1 g saturated fat) 1/2 cup would be a healthy amount. There are many brands of hummus to be found. I like the sprouted raw hummus by Majestic. I bought it at Jimbo’s. I now make my own; can’t find it here.

Hummus TipThis chickpea based dip made with olive oil is an ideal Med diet snack, high in fiber, unsaturated fats and protein to keep you fuller for longer.  By dipping chopped vegetables such as carrots, cucumber, or capsicum you are also increasing your intake of important vitamins and minerals.  Sprinkle the dip with a little paprika and lemon juice for flavor.

Check out this link for other hummus uses: Oldways: 12 Great Ways to Use Hummus 


Also from Healthy Living: 5 Healthy Snacks from the Mediterranean Diet Small tin of Tuna on 4 whole wheat crackers – 205 calories (based on tuna in water) -1.2g saturated fat

Oily fish such as tuna are an important protein source in the Med diet.  By combining reduced salt tinned tuna with whole grain crackers, you are also increasing your intake of whole grains, another important part of the diet.  Tuna provides Omega 3 fatty acids, which play a part in lowering blood cholesterol levels, as well as protein to stop your hunger.  Tuna packed in olive oil is the ideal choice for those following the Med diet, but if you are watching your weight a water packed one is lower in calories. For those of you who need the calories or don’t have a weight issue choose the oil packed.


Healthy Homemade Garden Salad: Yummly: 10 best Healthy Mediterranean Snacks

Ingredients: serves 4

2 medium tomatoes (diced) Cherry tomatoes are easier 🙂

1/2 cucumber (medium, sliced thinly)

3 ounces black olives (whole) or Greek Olives

4 1/2 ounces feta cheese (cubed)

vinaigrette dressing (Red Wine)  Combine the following & let sit while you assemble the salad.

1/3 cups extra-virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1 tablespoon dijon mustard

1 pinch salt

1 pinch ground black pepper

Toss together & serve. A serving can be brought along with you by keeping the dressing separate in a small container or jar. 

Here are a few good brands for vinaigrette dressing. Bragg’s Vinaigrette, Annie’s Dressings & Vinaigrette, & Newman’s Own.


Don’t forget, a hard-boiled egg on a salad or by itself is a healthy snack. If you have time you can make deviled eggs to have on hand. Add whole grain bread, pita bread or whole grain crackers to have with it. 

Mary’a Gone Crackers are a favorite of ours. They are organic, gluten-free, vegan & kosher. Easy to find. Sprouts, Henry’s, Trader Joe’s, even Smart & Final! Check the store locator on the website. 

Prepare raw vegetables by cleaning & chopping them to store in the refrigerator for a quick pick-me-up or to add to your snack of hummus, nut butter or hard-boiled egg.

Fresh fruit is another grab & go snack to keep with you. Apples travel well & it is apple season right now! For a “sweet tooth, take a Medjool date with you.


Layered Greek Dip Recipe. I saw this idea at this website: Betty Crocker: Mediterranean Appetizer Recipes I didn’t like the recipe itself but the idea is wonderful as a grab & go when you are going for treatment or a picnic! Here is the original recipe with my notes.

Ingredients

1 container (6 oz) Liberté® Méditerranée lemon yogurt Use Greek Yogurt, plain.

1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese (1 oz)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup plain hummus (from 7-oz container)
3 medium plum (Roma) tomatoes, seeded, chopped (1/2 cup) or any tomato sliced.
1/2 cup finely chopped seeded cucumber Doesn’t have to be seeded.
1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons chopped green onions (2 medium)
Pita chips, as desired
Sliced cucumbers and bell pepper strips, as desired I would add the bell peppers to the above mix of veggies.

Directions

  1.  In small bowl, mix yogurt, feta cheese, parsley, lemon juice and salt.
  2.  Into each of 8 (2- to 3-oz) glasses, (Use a 4 ounce jar or canning jar with lid) layer 2 tablespoons hummus, 1 heaping tablespoon yogurt mixture, 1 tablespoon tomato, 1 tablespoon cucumber, 1 tablespoon olives and slightly less than 1 teaspoon green onions. Add in green peppers & any other veggie you would like.
  3. Serve with remaining ingredients. Bring along the pita chips!

This site has many good recipes, including: Mediterranean Nachos, Greek Hummus Nachos & several Mediterranean quesadillas! 


Pita bread makes a great pocket sandwich. It is easy to transport in a sandwich bag or container. The filling can be all raw, cut up veggies. You can bring a small container of Greek Yogurt or a vinaigrette to add to it. Olives, a few cubes of a cheese, nuts, seeds, fish or chicken are great additions. Be creative. You can do the same thing with a flat bread or crackers. Pile everything on top!

If you are at home, you can make a quick “pizza”. For the crust you can use Naan, flat bread, or pita bread. Pile on the veggies & sprinkle with a little bit of Parmesan, feta, or another cheese. Put it in the toaster oven or under the grill & melt the cheese. You don’t even need a sauce.

Indian Life Naan are non-GMO, organic ingredients & easy to find in stores. I like the garlic naan.  Rustic Crust Organic Flatbread is another easy to find product. They can be used as a pizza crust. Another option is Organic Sprouted Tortillas by Food for Life. 


This website has a list of healthy snack foods. Rodale’s Organic Life: 21 Best Organic Snack Foods“But it’s the quality of those snacks that matters most, and not just when it comes to calories. According to the Grocery Manufacturers Association, approximately 80 percent of packaged foods contain genetically modified organisms (GMOs) that—among other health concerns—put you at greater risk for food allergies and gastrointestinal problems. Because GMOs aren’t labeled as such, you can’t protect yourself from these iffy ingredients and identify them in that lengthy list of ingredients you either can’t pronounce or have never heard of. That’s why we compiled this list of the best, healthy certified-organic snacks and snacks certified under the Non-GMO Project Verified program, which tests foods for residues of unhealthy, pesticide-riddled, GMO ingredients.” Some of the ideas have added sugar but in small amounts. 


Nuts! They are the ultimate high protein, high fiber, portable, snack food. This is a very good guide to nuts from the University of Michigan Health Systems: Healthy Nuts Go Nuts For snacking: a serving size is “a handful, not a can full” 🙂

Another favorite grab & go; nut butters! Get a small container that will hold 2 tablespoons of your nut butter. Take it along with a cut up apple, &/or crackers. I like Santa Cruz Peanut Butter because this is their ingredient list: ORGANIC ROASTED PEANUTS, CONTAINS 1% OR LESS OF SALT. Once Again Nut Butters have only organic nuts as their ingredients too. Check the ingredient list when buying nut butters. Many have added sugar & added honey. 


I will end with this website that has very good information on Protein Bars. The bars are rated, A-F. Nutrition Awareness: The Best Protein Bars  . 


Break out the dark chocolate! Until next week!…Mary 🙂


Resources

Books: Try your library first. If you buy from Amazon, please use Amazon Smile: SDCRI.

 

Cancer Fighters: Cruciferous Vegetables

 

Ocean Air Organic Farm

Ocean Air Organic Farm

When I read the news this morning, the headline that caught my eye was “The Fountain of Youth May Well be Broccoli”  I was intrigued since I had decided to write about cruciferous vegetables & their cancer fighting properties. Apparently a new study lists broccoli, cabbage, cucumbers & edamame as having anti-aging properties when given to mice. Next will be human clinical trials. Regardless of the outcome, we know from earlier research that 70% or more of the studies have shown that cruciferous vegetables protects us against cancer. So, start eating more broccoli 🙂 

Here is a Facebook post from Dr. Low Dog that explains the benifits of these vegetables:

Tieraona Low Dog, MD
October 24, 2016

Breast cancer is the second most commonly diagnosed cancer worldwide. According to the American Cancer Society, every year approximately 200,000 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer and among those 40,000 will die. Breast cancer is often thought to be only an issue for older women. Surprisingly, of the women that are estimated to die from breast cancer approximately 6.2% of those women are under the age of 45. Clearly, breast health is an issue that women of all ages should address. The proper intake of vitamins and minerals is essential to overall health and therefore, important for breast health. Some of these vitamins and minerals are found in food that is commonly part of a healthy diet. For example, broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables (such as cauliflower, radishes, kale, collard greens, Brussels sprouts, etc) contain vitamins C, E and K and are rich in nutrients, including several carotenoids (beta-carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin). These vegetables also contain folate, are a good source of fiber and contain chemicals called glucosinolates. During digestion glucosinolates are broken down into biologically active compounds that have been tested for their anticancer effects. Over a decade ago, a study described results suggesting that women who ate greater amounts of cruciferous vegetables had a lower risk of breast cancer. More recently, one of the compounds derived from glucosinolates of the cruciferous vegetables was found to inhibit the growth of breast cancer cells by blocking key signaling pathways known to be required for cancer progression. These results are promising and encourage researchers to continue to explore the anticancer affects of cruciferous vegetables, especially for breast cancer.

As you see, adding these vegetables into your diet will give you many nutritional benifits. Cruciferous vegetables are in the Brassicaceae family of plants. Here is a list from Gardening Know How  I have added comments & links to recipes next to each vegetable.

  • Arugula: I had to acquire a taste for arugula, but now it is one of my favorite salad greens. I want to try Arugula Pesto next. Huffington Post: Arugula Recipes So Good You’ll Forget Other Lettuces Exist 
  • Bok choy: Martha Stewart: Bok Choy Recipes Bok Choy & Tofu stirfry are a favorite in my house.
  • Broccoli: I believe every child calls broccoli “trees”. My teenage grandson’s still do! For a new way to cook them, here is a link to AllRecipes: Broccoli Casserole Recipes. Check out the Broccoli & Stuffing Casserole for Thanksgiving 🙂
  • Broccoli rabe: I like to roast these with potatoes. Eating Well: Healthy Broccoli Rabe Recipes
  • Broccoli romanesco: This is a very strange looking vegetable, and very deicious. Brit+Co: Go Green With These 10 Rich Romonesco Recipes
  • Brussels sprouts: I told my husband that I love brussels sprouts. He grew 20 plants! Have you ever bought them on the stalk & spent hours taking them off & cleaning them? Well, it is worth it 🙂 Real Simple: 11 Easy Recipes for Brussel Sprouts
  • Cabbage: I am always looking for something new to do with cabbage. I like it raw & cooked. New York Times Cooking: Cabbage recipes 
  • Cauliflower: I tend to use the same recipes for Cauliflower all the time. Here is a chance to try something new. PureWow: 19 of the World’s Best Cauliflower recipes
  • Chinese broccoli: This is a new one for me. Good link to learn how to buy & cook it. Steamy Kitchen: Chinese Broccoli (Gai Lan) Recipe
  • Chinese cabbage: Chinese cabbage is the same as Napa cabbage. I really like this in salads. SheKnows: 10 Napa Cabbage Recipes
  • Collard greens: I have to admit that I have only steamed them. I need a new attitude towards them 🙂 Saveur: 11 Dishes to geet You excited About Collard Greens
  • Daikon: I am not a real fan of the little red radishes. The first time I had raw daikon shredded onto a salad I loved it. Daikon replaces those little red guys in my dishes. Epicurious: Daikon Recipes
  • Garden cress: I don’t know this one. I read that it is a little on the peppery side, similar to horseradish.  Cressinfo: Cress recipes
  • Horseradish: The first time I tried horseradish I was a teen out with my new boyfriend. I globbed it onto a sandwich & about choked on the first bite! Humiliation! I still don’t like it 🙂 Here are some ways to use it: Horseradish.org: Horseradish Recipes 
  • Kale: I am so over kale! AllRecipes: Kale Recipes
  • Kohlrabi: I like this in a mixture of root veggies raosted togther. Martha Stewart: Kohlrabi Recipes
  • Komatsuna: Another new one for me. Komatsuna is a Japanese mustard spinach. Best Living Japan: Komatsuna Recipes
  • Land cress: Land Cress is related to watercress & is also peppery. According to this website, it is fiery! Cook with Home Organics: Land Cress!!!! 
  • Mizuna Mustard – seeds and leaves: I discussed Mizuna in a previous post. It reminds me a little of arugula. I have made pesto with it, used it in salads & substituted it for spinach in a quiche. Very tasty. Early Morning Farm: 7 Ways to Use Mizuna
  • Pak choi: This veggie is very much ike Bok Choy. I use it in the same way. Here is a good recipe; tofu can be used instead of the chicken. Taste: Honey Chicken With Pak Choy
  • Radish: Ah, the little red guys 🙂 Real Simple: 13 Tasty Radish Recipes
  • Rutabaga: Another root veggie that I use in my roasted veggie mix. AllRecipes: Rutabaga Recipes
  • Tatsoi: This is one of the many Asian greens we grew this past year. It was added to our mixed salad greens. Has a mustardy flavor. Food52: Tatsoi is the New Spinach (Haven’t You Heard?)
  • Turnips – root and greens: I have a bunch in the frig just waiting for me to cook. Bon Apetit: 18 Turnip Recipes for an Underrated Root Vegetable
  • Wasabi: This is a link to everything you ever wanted to know about wasabi! World of Wasabi
  • Watercress: Another peppery cress to add to your salad. Martha Stewart: Watercress Recipes

some-days

 

I hope that you found some new vegetables & recipes that you are going to try. I have! Until next week…Mary 🙂

 

Resources

Cookware Safety

This is the time of the year that we do more baking & cooking. The weather is milder & the holidays are coming closer. Time to think about Thanksgiving dinner & Christmas cookies. What kind of cookware do you use?

Cookware safety has been a popular topic since Teflon & aluminum were declared unsafe. Many newer, safer, forms of coated pots & pans have emerged since then. Rather than review each one, there are far too many, I will look at the cookware & bakeware that are considered the safest.

I have noticed that cast iron is making a comeback. It has become so popular that it is driving up the prices! People are searching thrift stores for the older cast iron cookware thinking that it was made better back in the day. Lodge Cast Iron Cookware is the oldest brand, since 1896, & is still available at reasonable prices. I have several of their cast iron skillets & love them. Cast iron bakeware is fantastic too. My next purchase will be a cast iron muffin pan.

Seasoning them is not complicated & gives you a natural non-stick surface. Once they are seasoned, the trick is to never use soap on them. I rinse mine with plain running water & use a soft brush to remove pieces of food. I then put it on the stove top at a medium heat for it to dry. While it is still warm I coat it with either olive or coconut oil. Once it is cool I put it away & it is ready for the next meal. 

Cast iron can be pre-heated to high temperatures for use on the stove top & in the oven. I have used it on gas stoves & now on my electric stove. Works the same with both. When pre-heating at a medium heat, this allows it to heat evenly. Cast iron also retains the heat longer than other pans.

One concern I have heard about is what types of foods shouldn’t be used with cast iron. On the Lodge website it has a Q&A page. Here is the answer to that question: Foods which are very acidic (i.e. beans, tomatoes, citrus juices, etc.) should not be cooked in Seasoned Cast Iron until the cookware is highly seasoned. The high acidity of these foods will strip the seasoning and result in discoloration and metallic tasting food. Wait until cast iron is better seasoned to cook these types of foods. Lodge Enameled Cast Iron is not affected by acidity and can be used with all foods.” I avoid this problem by cooking acidic foods in my stainless steel pans 🙂

If you have more questions about cast iron, check out this website….Foodal’s Guide to Choosing the Best frying Pan

The rest of my cookware is plain old stainless steel. It is safe. It has no toxic coating & it is nonreactive to foods. Clad or all clad stainless steel means it has an aluminum core between stainless steel sheets. I prefer the pans with a heavier gauge bottom. They heat more evenly.

The Smart Consumer: The Best Stainless Steel Cookware Sets has the best article about which brands are the best & why. The prices for sets range from $43 to $400. It also has information at the bottom of the page about what to look for when purchasing your stainless steel.

For baking I use stainless steel baking sheets & bread pans. I always use parchment paper on my baking sheets. Easier cleanup. I grease the bread pans with coconut oil. Works perfectly.

The two complaints that I have heard are: everything sticks to it unless you use a lot of oil & it is a beast to clean. I don’t have those problems. I have found that if you pre-heat the pan with a small amount of oil in it first & cook the food slowly at medium heat it won’t stick. If you stir fry then pre-heat the oil at medium heat first, then put on the higher heat needed. Make sure you “stir” as you “fry”; keep the food moving 🙂 If something sticks then soak the pan during your meal. By the time you are ready for cleanup it will be a breeze to clean. If the food is crusted onto the pan, use some baking soda in the water & allow it to soak. Never use steel wool pads or anything abrasive that will permanently scratch your pans. I think most people are in a hurry & use too high of heat when cooking. 

Ceramic, & enamel cookware. Mother Nature Network: What’s the Safest Cookware states that “These are generally safe options. Health concerns about using ceramic and enamel stem from components used in making, glazing or decorating the cookware, such as lead or cadmium. In the U.S. both of these highly toxic substances have been phased out, or at least limited in cookware manufacturing. This is not a place to ignore labels; if it says “Not for food use,” don’t use it for food!” I have noticed labels on cookware that state “not for food use”. Each time it has been at one of the dollar type stores. Read the labels!

Stone Frying Pans: Top 10 Best Ceramic Cookware Reviews of 2016 “Long story short, ceramic cookware is 100% safe, toxin free and environmentally friendly. It is among the healthiest cookware we recommend. When you go ceramic you can be certain that there are no harmful Teflon chemicals in the cookware.” Very good article. Click on the link above for their “healthiest cookware” for more information.

CorningWare has glass cookware & bakeware that is safe on the stove top & in the oven. Pyrex made glass frying pans & pots years ago, called Vision Ware. They no longer do. The newer version was prone to breaking or exploding on the stove top. Not good. I have always liked CorningWare. Oddly enough, I no longer have any. My pie pans & my lasagna pan are all glass by Pyrex  This is because they were my mothers 🙂

EcoWatch: 4 Types of Nontoxic, Eco-Friendly Cookware That’s Safe for You and Your Family talks about safe, nontoxic, eco-friendly cookware. One of the eco-friendly nonstick pans is by GreenPan. “Healthy cooking is not only about the foods you use: it is also about the right cookware.  The patented Thermolon™ non-stick technology is heat resistant up to high temperatures. This means that GreenPan™ has an extra safety feature; if you overheat your pan, even up to 450/850, no toxic fumes will be released and the coating will not blister or peel.” Sounds intriguing. 

Silicone bakeware. I have no experience with these. The best, informative article I found is in Leaf: The Dangers of Silicone Bakeware by Michell Powell-Smith. “Silicone bakeware is a popular solution for all sorts of baking needs, ranging from pan liners to muffin cups, from bundt pans to novelty cake pans. Silicone bakeware is durable, non-stick, brightly colored and quite flexible. Is it safe, though? This is a question on many consumer’s minds, ranging from professional bakers to the occasional home cook. Take a look at the information and make your own decisions about which forms of bakeware best suit your needs and whether you want to use silicone bakeware in your own kitchen.” Before you panic, read the article. It is not as negative as the title sounds. It has some very good information.

Foodal: Choosing the Best Nonstick Cookware 2016  This is an excellent website to help you choose “safe” nonstick cookware. I found this part very interesting: “A BRIEF DISCUSSION ABOUT PTFE AND PFOA COATINGS AND NONSTICK. Over recent decades, nonstick cookware has admittedly garnered a bit of negative attention, due to fears about emissions of toxic chemicals. Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) is more commonly known by the Dupont brand name Teflon, and has been in use since the 1940s. Perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFOA) is another associated chemical, which is used in the process of making Teflon.

In recent years, questions have been raised about whether PFOA can be harmful to human health, but because the chemical basically burns off during the manufacturing process, no data exists to show that using Teflon coated pans is in any way dangerous. After a great deal of research, even Good Housekeeping has given the go ahead for the safety of most nonstick coated pans, as long as they are used properly. This includes avoiding heating over 500°F, never preheating a pan empty, and making use of proper ventilation. In addition, high-heat processes such as searing and broiling should be performed in cookware that is not nonstick coated. The type of cooking fat that is used for these processed is an important consideration as well.”

On this same website: “Wondering if there is another option for nonstick cookware other than a chemical coating? There is! Hydroelectrically treating aluminum allows it to become more durable and useful, creating a nonstick type of cookware that is not coated using PTFE or PFOA.” There are quite a few options for hard-anodized cookware.

One last word on Teflon & PFOA. The American Cancer Society: Teflon and Perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFOA)  “Should I take measures to protect myself, such as not using my Teflon-coated pans? Other than the possible risk of flu-like symptoms from breathing in fumes from an overheated Teflon-coated pan, there are no known risks to humans from using Teflon-coated cookware. While PFOA is used in making Teflon, it is not present (or is present in extremely small amounts) in Teflon-coated products.” If you have or choose to buy chemically treated nonstick cookware & bakeware, remember the following. Do not use at high temperatures because it will emit a chemical gas, it may also crack & peal. And lastly, do not use metal utensils or anything abrasive to clean with. Damaged cookware can leak chemicals into your food. 

I hope that the information has been helpful. I had one favorite tiny non-stick pan that I fried one egg in. Loved it! I saw the same size pan in cast iron & decided to try it. I like this one even more. Try something new. Add a new set or just one pan to your holiday shopping list!

Until next week…Mary 🙂