July Nutrition Nuggets


I like to lead into our Nutrition Nuggets with a coffee article or research study. Did not expect this one! Washington Post: Coffee with Viagra-like ingredient recalled after FDA discovery By Alex Horton July 20  Ha! 🙂 No Comment! “The FDA announced last week that Yee’s company, Grand Prairie, Tex.-based Bestherbs Coffee LLC, is voluntarily recalling all lots of the uniquely spelled “New of Kopi Jantan Tradisional Natural Herbs Coffee” due to undeclared ingredients, including desmethyl carbodenafil and milk, sold between July 2014 and June 2016.” The desmethyl  carbodenafil is the problem. It is similar to Viagra.

I am big on telling you to read the labels before you buy anything new. Especially if you take any medications or have allergies. In this case the milk & herb were not declared on the ingredient list! The herb will interact with medications, especially nitrates. The milk could be dangerous for those with allergies or even sensitivities to dairy. 

There were no health issues reported to the FDA about this coffee. It is not clear why they were targeted by the agency. It is among other coffee brands laced with this herb that were recalled earlier this year & last year. Sigh…we need to be ever vigilant & stick with whole foods & familiar brands. 

There were two studies in the news about sugar. The first one is concerning the pairing of sugary drinks with high protein meals; think fast food & “super sizing”.  Drinking Sugary Drinks With High Protein Meals ‘May Prime The Body To Store More Fat’  07/21/17  The one quote in this article that stood out for me was that “sugary drinks are the largest single source of sugar in the American diet”The study showed that with an increase of protein & fat in the meal, paired with the sugary drink, the metabolism of the individual was impaired leading to storage of the energy as fat & weight gain. The study also found that the sugary drink did not satisfy the subject. They wanted more salty & spicy foods for hours after their meal. Good read.

The second study is in regards to artificial sweeteners. NPR…Artificial Sweeteners Don’t Help People Lose Weight, Review Finds, July 17, 2017, KATHERINE HOBSON  This is as a very good article to read. It explores various studies relating to artificial sweeteners and the reasons people use them. They are not used solely by people wanting to lose weight. They are, surprisingly, also used by people who feel they are a better, healthier, sweetener choice. The reasons that weight loss doesn’t follow when using artificial sweeteners are also looked at.

One of the studies they refer to, in this article, is from the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics. Consumption of Low-Calorie Sweeteners among Children and Adults in the United States March 2017. “Our findings were that 25.1% of children and 41.4% adults reported consuming LCSs. Most LCS consumers reported use once daily (80% of children, 56% of adults) and frequency of consumption increased with body weight in adults. LCS consumption was higher in females compared with males among adults, and in obese individuals, compared with overweight and normal-weight individuals.” I was surprised at how many people, especially children, use artificial sweeteners. The numbers are even higher because they are in granola bars, energy bars & drinks that you wouldn’t know about unless you read the label. Thought provoking.

My personal opinion as to why people don’t lose weight & may even gain pounds, is twofold. One, because people add extra calories to their meal as a reward for drinking or eating products with artificial sweeteners in them. The second reason is that the body reacts to the brain saying we just ate something sweet. When it doesn’t find the sugar (just chemicals) it takes it out of our energy storage. Thus making us feel lethargic & needing more sugar. It ends up a circular process with no ending.

An added thought about weight gain…I found this video with Professor Traci Mann’s view on obesity refreshing. Take a look.  BBC: Think Again: ‘There is no obesity crisis’ A personal view from Professor Traci Mann, A film by Sahar Zand 

Alessandra sent me this very good article.  A Medicinal Shroom For Every Health Woe  The article starts out with “Medicinal mushrooms have been on the health scene for quite a few years now, but they’re just now reaching peak trendiness.” There are a few things to note about this information. 

These mushrooms have been prescribed & eaten by the people of Asia for millennium. The research we usually see is based on people who have been using them for generations. They are very important medicinally. Yet, like anything that has become “trendy” it has also become costly. Medicinal mushrooms are expensive.

Another thing to remember is that like herbs, to benefit your health, they must be taken/eaten daily. It takes at least 3 weeks for herbs to start to show their health benefits. Most Americans give up the first few days because they don’t see any benefit yet. Americans expect the mushrooms & herbs to be like aspirin, immediate relief.

My personal opinion is that these mushrooms are amazing. You can find them, dried & packaged, at Jimbo’s. You can also get them at a Chinese Herbalists. Just make sure that the Chinese Herbalist is trustworthy so that you get the correct mushroom & that it is safe to use. 

I use Mountain Rose Herbs to buy dried herbs & mushrooms that I can’t grow. Very respected company for their quality, safety & sustainable gathering practices. Here is their page for Mushrooms.

I am including this part for anyone with a gastric tube for nutritional purposes or needs an oral formula for added nutrition. I had the opportunity to research some of the liquid nutritional formulas being sold for home use.

Many patients I have helped in the past have wanted to make their own organic, whole food, liquid nutritional formula to put through their gastric tube. This way they could control the ingredients & calories. It is not only costly & time consuming, but you must plan ahead & have the equipment needed to puree the foods. If it isn’t pureed enough it could clog the tube.

I found two companies who make a good supplement for use with or without the liquid formulas you are sent home with. Make sure to check the calorie content. These are meant for gastric tubes not IV drips. If you have a j~tube, please consult your health care team before trying these.

Liquid Hope “Liquid Hope is the worlds first shelf stable organic whole foods feeding tube formula and oral meal replacement. Robin created Liquid Hope using the Functional Medicine/Food as Medicine model so each ingredient has been chosen for its potential to promote health and vitality and its ability to support the body’s natural immune system. When our bodies are given what they need… well let’s just say, food was our original medicine and Robin thought it was time to get back to our roots. This product is advertised as real food, plant based; dairy, gluten, soy, corn, GMO & BPA FREE! 450 calories per container. It can be used as a feeding tube formula or an oral meal replacement formula. Liquid Hope meets all food safety requirements and meets all GRAS, HACCP, CGMPS standards. Liquid Hope is processed in a FDA/USDA registered facility with USDA inspector on site. SID#: 2013-06-12/001 This is impressive. It is also Medicaid & Medicare approved. Other insurances may approve it also. The site has a billing code for them.

Real Food Blends  Originally inspired by their young tube-fed son, AJ, who is now the company’s “Chief Inspiration Officer”, and a belief that we all deserve real food, Julie and Tony Bombacino sought to create a company that provided easy access to 100% real food meals and nutritional variety to tube-fed people and their families, at home or on the go. Years later and with well over 1 million meals sold, you will still only find 100% real food in our meals. No corn syrup, preservatives or synthetic additives/fillers – just a variety of simple real ingredients to nourish your body and soul.” This brand is not organic or GMO free, but it is made with whole foods. Look at the nutrition labels, no chemicals added. It has 330 ~ 340 calories per container. It advertises that it is covered by many major insurances. Good choice for people who have financial issues.

Study finds a major uptick in calls to poison control centers over dietary supplements  By ABC NEWS Jul 24, 2017  Watch the video first. It gives an overview of the study. The increase in calls, by 50%, was not about life threatening situations but more about small problems. I agree with the reporter; I too was stunned by the fact that the majority of the calls, 70%, were about children 6 years old & under. Some of the children were given supplements by their parents/caregivers & some found opened bottles & ate them. 

The marketing of supplements has lulled the public into thinking they are natural & therefore safe. This is far from the truth. They are like any other medication. They can have side effects & interact with other supplements, over the counter medications & prescription drugs. It is important to research the brand & find companies that self regulate or have joined a group of other companies to regulate their products.

 Drugs.com was mentioned in the report. It is a very reliable source for identifying pills & finding any interactions with your prescriptions. Bookmark it for future use.

275,000 calls to poison control centers for dietary supplement exposures, study finds. Researchers calling for FDA regulation of yohimbe, energy products. July 24, 2017 Nationwide Children’s Hospital. Summary: US Poison Control Centers receive a call every 24 minutes, on average, regarding dietary supplement exposures. According to the study authors, lack of federal oversight has led to inconsistencies in the quality of dietary supplements, product mislabeling and contamination with other substances.

Researchers are not alone in calling for more FDA regulations of supplements. I have always been against it. With all the recalls recently of adulterated supplements & beauty products, I feel I must reevaluate my stance on this issue. Times change. 🙁

The coconut oil debate is not going to go away as seen in the emails I have received. There are ongoing debates concerning the American Heart Association’s announcement that coconut oil is a saturated fat which can cause heart disease & increase your cholesterol. This announcement stirred reporters to write sensational headlines causing a fierce debate within the medical & nutritional community about coconut oil. I believe the problem is solely semantics. Is coconut oil HEALTHY, is it DANGEROUS. The actual debate should have been about saturated fat. Recent research does not support their, the AHA’s, findings. 

I didn’t read anywhere that coconut oil is really dangerous, except for in those sensational headlines. What I did read is that it, coconut oil, is without a doubt a saturated fat. Saturated fats are okay to use when used in moderation. Bacon is okay when eaten occasionally. The issue is with those people who use coconut oil in EVERYTHING! The way it has been used/abused in the name of “health” is the problem; more than the oil itself.

I continue to use it as a substitute for Crisco or butter in recipes. When I want a buttery taste on popcorn or in a dish I have made, I use Nutritional Yeast. Once again, MODERATION is the last word!

Interesting topics coming up for our August blog posts. Check back every week…Mary 🙂 

Elimination Diet

Elimination diets can be quite helpful when you & your health care team cannot explain that rash, bloating, diarrhea, constipation or other mysterious digestive & health related symptoms. It could be food allergies, sensitivities or an intolerance caused by something in your diet.

If you think you have a food allergy or if you have had a severe reaction to a food then you need to be under the care of a physician. In extreme cases, eliminating the suspected food & then reintroducing it may trigger a severe reaction like *anaphylactic shock.  

An elimination diet is the removal of foods that you or your health care team think are causing these issues. My favorite way of identifying these foods is by keeping a food diary & noting when you have any symptoms & more importantly, describing them. Another way is to eliminate the foods that are known to be a food allergen. 

There is a difference between allergic reactions to foods & being sensitive or intolerant of a food or food group. An allergic reaction is much more serious & is caused by your immune system. The symptoms for an allergic response can be as simple as a rash, itchy eyes, runny nose to more serious reactions like gasping for breath. These can occur within minutes or hours of eating something that your immune system sees as a threat. 

Most food problems are from a sensitivity or intolerance of a food item or group. This is usually experienced as a digestive upset; cramps, diarrhea, bloating or gas. These symptoms are not related to an immune response. 

According to the Mayo Clinic’s All About Food Allergies,Some of the most common food allergens include:

  • Eggs
  • Milk
  • Peanuts
  • Shellfish
  • Tree nuts
  • Soy
  • Fish

I would include wheat & wheat gluten to the list. Intolerance or a sensitivity to these two have been on the rise as I discussed in earlier posts. Processed foods & alcohol should also be on the list. Processed foods have hidden ingredients; those that are under the percentage that must be listed on labels by FDA rules. 

Lets look at the safest way to use an elimination diet for an allergy, sensitivity or intolerance to a food item or group.

To do this correctly it will take up to 6 weeks. During that time you should plan your diet carefully to make sure you are getting the nutrients you just eliminated. For example, if you have eliminated all dairy, make sure you are getting enough protein & calcium from another source. 

The article that I found most helpful is from Authority Nutrition How to Do an Elimination Diet and Why By Ryan Raman, MS, RD | July 2, 2017  The author discusses what an elimination diet is, how it works, what you can & can’t eat, the benefits & risks. If you are even thinking about an elimination diet this article is a must read.

Under the section, How it Works, Mr. Raman explains the two phases of an elimination diet: the elimination phase & the reintroduction phase. If your symptoms persist after eliminating the foods you thought were the culprits, you need to speak with your health care team. He describes how to reintroduce foods slowly, one at a time, over a period of days & what symptoms to watch for.

In his last paragraph, The Bottom Line, he  makes several good points to remember. The first is that an elimination diets should not be used with children without the supervision of a physician or certified dietitian. And the other point that I find extremely important is that an elimination diet is for short term only, because restricting your diet for long periods of time will lead to nutritional deficiencies. 

This is my favorite handout to print & use when you are doing an elimination diet. It is from the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine & Public Health: Elimination Diet Handout  It has an example of an elimination diet calendar, it helps you to plan, has helpful tips & ends with a one week food diary chart. 

Still need information?

The Easy Way to Figure Out If You Have a Food Intolerance   JUNE 9, 2015/BY AMY SHAH  “Amy Shah, M.D., is a premier medical doctor specializing in food allergies, hormones and gut health.” A very good & informative article. It has an info-graph with 4 phases of what to eliminate when. 

A very simple plan from the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs: Simple Elimination Diet “The purpose of an elimination diet is to discover symptom-triggering foods. Everyone’s body responds to foods differently. If we are sensitive to a food, there are a host of symptoms our body can respond with, such as headaches, skin rashes, joint pains, and digestive problems, just to name a few.” 

Both of these articles have lists of what you can eat. Makes it easier to plan 🙂 As mentioned in the simple plan: “The more whole, unprocessed foods you eat the better it is for you, your sensitivities, and your immune system!” 

If you are in treatment, please speak with your healthcare team before you start an elimination diet. You don’t want to do anything that would compromise your immune system.

Next week: Nutrition Nuggets from July. Many to choose from! See you then…Mary 🙂

Additional information:

*Anaphylactic shock: an extreme, often life-threatening allergic reaction to an antigen to which the body has become hypersensitive.

Essential Oils

Herbs by MHollander

I am writing this post in response to several emails I have received recently about essential oils. This is a huge subject. What are essential oils? Are they regulated by the FDA? How are they made? Are there any safety issues?  When & how do you use them? These are great questions, keep reading for the answers!

On the FDA website, there is a page devoted to Aromatherapy. Under the law, how “aromatherapy” products are regulated depends mainly on how they are intended to be used.

FDA determines a product’s intended use based on factors such as claims made in the labeling, on websites, and in advertising, as well as what consumers expect it to do. We also look at how a product is marketed, not just a word or phrase taken out of context. Finally, we make decisions on a case-by-case basis.

If a product is intended for a therapeutic use, such as treating or preventing disease, or to affect the structure or function of the body, it’s a drug. For example, claims that a product will relieve colic, ease pain, relax muscles, treat depression or anxiety, or help you sleep are drug claims.

Such claims are sometimes made for products such as soaps, lotions, and massage oils containing “essential oils” and marketed as “aromatherapy.” The fact that a fragrance material or other ingredient comes from a plant doesn’t keep it from being regulated as a drug.

Under the law, drugs must meet requirements such as FDA approval for safety and effectiveness before they go on the market. To find out if a product marketed with drug claims is FDA-approved, contact FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER), at druginfo@fda.hhs.gov.

This is important to know. If you see an essential oil that claims to cure cancer it is considered a drug & is subject to the same regulations as any medication. More than likely it is a false claim & should be reported to the FDA. I am not in favor of “over regulation” by the FDA but I am in favor of protecting vulnerable populations.

Essential oils have been very popular for several years.  Mountain Rose Herbs  sells 42 different essential oils. Other companies sell over 80 essential oil singles. There are countless numbers of combinations of oils sold as well. Amazing selections!

On the EWG.org: Skin Deep Cosmetic Data Base site, you can search for the safety of a product with essential oils or an essential oil itself by company. Here are examples for my search of the essential oils by NOW 

Essential Oils are an exceptionally concentrated oil that has been extracted from a plant by steaming, pressing or by a solvent. The preferred way is by steaming or pressing. The extraction process is dependent upon the plant. Some are very fragile & require a specific type of process. The resulting oil smells like the original plant & is volatile, which means it can evaporate easily at normal temperatures.

If you are interested in the different processes of extraction, NAHA, National Association of Holistic Aromatherapy, has a very thorough article on the subject. How Are Essential Oils Extracted? 

Essential oils can be used in cosmetics, cleaning solutions, lotions, creams, salves, steam inhalers, as aromatherapy & more. There are some basic facts that you should be aware of before using them. For more safety guidelines click here

  • They should be used externally in a carrier oil only. Never directly on the skin.
  • Essential oils should never be taken internally/by mouth. University of Maryland Medical Center: “You should never take essential oils by mouth unless you are under the supervision of a trained professional. Some oils are toxic, and taking them by mouth could be fatal. Be cautious with the words Trained Professional.
  • Use in a diffuser for aromatherapy. Don’t overheat the essential oil.
  • To use medicinally in a steam inhaler, use a small amount of the oil. Inhale a few times only. Prolonged use could cause problems.
  • Pregnant women & people with severe allergies, asthma or lung conditions should avoid using them. University of Maryland Medical Center: Should Anyone Avoid Aromatherapy? “Pregnant women, people with severe asthma, and people with a history of allergies should only use essential oils under the guidance of a trained professional and with full knowledge of your physician. Pregnant women and people with a history of seizures should avoid hyssop oil. People with high blood pressure should avoid stimulating essential oils, such as rosemary and spike lavender. People with estrogen dependent tumors (such as breast or ovarian cancer) should not use oils with estrogen like compounds such as fennel, aniseed, sage, and clary-sage. People receiving chemotherapy should talk to their doctor before trying aromatherapy.
  • A little bit goes a long way. 
  • Read the labels. Research the companies you want to buy from. The bottle should say 100% pure essential oil. Here is an example of some of the information you should see: Lavender I would also look for the scientific name & the part used to make sure they used the correct plant & the correct part of the plant; roots, seeds, leaves or blossoms.
  • Use only Organic essential oils. They come from plants & could have toxic pesticide residue on them. Research the companies!

I don’t have the time or the room on our Blog to list all the essential oils & their various uses. I will concentrate on the most popular essential oils. The uses I have listed have not all been verified by research or the FDA. They are from personal experience, articles by herbalists or physicians I trust, or anecdotal. ***See the end of this post for links to peer review journals for essential oil research & research articles.

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 (Eucalyptus globulus) essential oil: Congestion & cough. Anti-microbial.
  • Camphor (Cinnamomum camphora) essential oilCongestion. Can be combined with eucalyptus for use in diffuser/humidifier. Add equal drops.
  • Peppermint (Mentha Piperitaessential) oil: Congestion & headache. Anti-bacterial.
  • Thyme (Thymus vulgaris) essential oil: Congestion & cough.
  • Tea Tree (Melaleuca Alternifolia) essential oilClears sick room; anti-viral. Congestion & cough.
  • Oregano (Origanum vulgare) essential oil: Proven antibacterial. Fights sinus infections.
  • Orange (Citrus Sinensis) essential oil: Stimulates appetite. Add a drop to your place-mat or napkin.

Aromatherapy essential oils used for relaxation in a diffuser. I also combine the ones I like in a small spray bottle of water. A few drops of each is all that is needed. The following oils have been used to help with anxiety, stress & depression.

  • Bergamot: From the peel of citrus fruit, Citrus Bergamia, 
  • Chamomile: My pick would be Matricaria Chamomilla It can also be used to help with migraines.
  • Jasmine: Jasminum Grandiflorum.
  • Lavender: Lavendula Angustifolia, intensely calming. I combine this with lemon grass & chamomile in a spray bottle to use in my treatment room before my clients enter. 
  • Lemon: Citrus Limon.
  • Orange: Citrus Sinensis Brightens mood.
  • Rose: My favorite is Rosa Rugosa. 
  • Sandlewood: It is endangered due to over harvest in India. I would use this one:,Australian Sandalwood, Santalum Spicatum. It is being grown ethically on plantations.

These are a few essential oils that your can add to a carrier oil to use topically. Always test a patch of skin to see if you have a reaction. My favorite natural carrier oils to use are: Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Sweet Almond Oil, Jojoba Oil, Shea Butter or Vitamin E Oil. Yes, you can use Coconut Oil too. These oils have healing properties of their own. Vitamin E oil is also used as a preservative in salves, creams etc. This is a good guide for you from Healing Solutions: An Essential Oil Dilution Guide for Beginners and Beyond.

  • Peppermint oil: Mentha Piperita In a carrier oil it can be rubbed into your temples for headache relief. I also rub it under my nose to help a headache.
  • Tea Tree Oil: Melaleuca Alternifolia This oil should only be used topically with a carrier oil if used directly on your skin or nails. You can use it without the carrier oil but it is very harsh. I use it with carrier oils or add it to my homemade healing salves. It is an antimicrobial. It’s well known for it’s anti-fungal properties. You can add it to a steam inhaler, use a small amount, for lung & sinus infections. 

A few other oils people like to use topically are: Frankincense, Lavender, Sandalwood, Cinnamon, Clove, Oregano,Thyme & Lemon.

Another good article & guide is by Sustainable Baby Steps: How to Use Essential Oils with Four Applications Methods

Other Essential Oils that are popular & their uses.

  • Clove: Syzygium aromaticum Clove oil has been used for centuries for toothaches. It is our go to for a painful tooth or gum. It has an anesthetic, antibacterial & anti-inflammatory effect. Remember it is only a temporary solution. See your dentist if the pain persists.
  • Lemon Grass: Cymbopogon flexuosus One of my favorites. Very refreshing. This scent is all I need for those time I am tired & need a lift!
  • Pine: Pinus sylvestris Another uplifting scent. It is also invigorating. Combine with Cedarwood (Cedrus atlantica) & Juniper Berry (Juniperus communis) for a fresh forest scent.
  • Rosemary: Rosmarinus Officinalis Primarily used as aromatherapy to improve memory.

A couple of my favorite “recipes” for summer:

Natural Insect Repellant Spray  from the American college of Healthcare Sciences. Read the article about other essential oils to repel insects.

  • Lavender: Lavandula angustifolia oil: 15 drops
  • Lemon eucalyptus: Eucalyptus citriodora oil: 10 drops
  • Tea tree Australia: Melaleuca alternifolia oil: 10 drops
  • Lime Citrus: aurantifolia oil: 6 drops
  • Bergamot Citrus: aurantium var. bergamia oil: 6 drops
  • Distilled water: 2 ounces
  • Vinegar from your kitchen: 2 ounces (I prefer white vinegar, but apple cider works too! Leave the balsamic for the Caprese salad!)

Blend all the ingredients and put into a spray bottle. Shake well before using. Note: Both bergamot and lime are photosensitive oils. This is an aromatic blend meant to be diffused into the air around you and is not intended for topical or internal use. I make a similar one by adding Yarrow Oil (Achillea millefolium) to the same mix. I use 80 proof vodka rather than vinegar. I do this because I use it when I make tinctures. They last a long time.

DIY Hand Sanitizer by Live Simply  We love this hand sanitizer. I keep a glass bottle with a regular cap in the car & I have a plastic spray bottle to use when hiking. We have found that it also repels bugs! 🙂 Spray it on your hat.

Ingredients I found Thayer’s Witch Hazel with pure Aloe & Lavender. Makes it easier to put this together.

  • 3 TB aloe vera Get pure aloe vera. Check the labels!
  • 2 TB witch hazel or rubbing alcohol, if using alcohol reduce to 1 TB We only use witch hazel in our house. It is a great wound cleaner.
  • 1/2 tsp vitamin E oil You can get this in a small bottle or you can open capsules if you have them.
  • 16 drops tea tree Australia (Melaleuca alternifolia) oil
  • 8 drops lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) essential oil

I am going to add eucalyptus oil next time. Just a thought.

Instructions: I use a dark colored bottle.

  1. Combine all the ingredients in a bowl. To use the hand sanitizer store in a small jar or a squeeze tube. I also use these tubes for homemade toothpaste. Note: This recipe will make 2 fl oz (one tube.)

This is a simple way to make your own Lip Balm from MaryJanesFarm Magazine. 

Love this from HealingSolutions: RE-CREATING (10) OF OUR FAVORITE FALL SCENTS: Use these recipes to reawaken fall-time memories, freshen up your workplace and/or living environment, and promote good health in both body and mind!

I make my own herbal medicinal salves & tinctures. I use the herbs from my garden & I buy essential oils to add to the salves if needed. I make cleansing sprays for the house from water & essential oils & I use them in the cleaning supplies I make. My favorite scent right now is either lemon or orange. So refreshing.

Don’t be afraid to use essential oils, just follow the safety guidelines, read the labels & research the companies.

Until next week…Mary 🙂 

Research Articles for Essential Oil use:

  • American Journal of Essential Oils and Natural Products is a Peer Reviewed Journal. Prime Focus of the Journal is to publish articles related to the current trends of research. This Journal provides the platform with the aim of motivating the students and personals in the Essential Oil and Phytochemistry Research and Development.
  • Journal of Essential Oil Research  The Journal of Essential Oil Research (JEOR) is the major forum for the publication of essential oil research and analysis. Each issue includes studies performed on the chemical composition of some of the 20,000 aromatic plants known in the plant kingdom. JEOR is devoted entirely to all phases of research from every corner of the world by the experts in their field. JEOR can provide you with the information that you need to complete vital research projects. In a day and age of rapidly changing technology. JEOR can help keep you up to date on the latest discoveries. This is a journal from the UK. Very good information on research. You can see a summary for free, if you want access to the research you will have to pay for it.
  • International Journal of Advanced Biological and Biomedical Research (IJABBR) is a monthly open access, peer reviewed and international journal published by Center of Advanced Scientific Research and Publications (CASRP) in United Kingdom from September, 2015. IJABBR will be published high quality and novelty papers focusing on Biological and Biomedical Research.
  • Essential Oils for Complementary Treatment of Surgical Patients: State of the Art  Susanna Stea, Alina Beraudi, and Dalila De Pasquale 2014
  • Science Daily: Orange essential oil may help alleviate post-traumatic stress disorder Researchers find evidence that essential oil reduces fear, diminishes immune system markers of stress in mice. April 24, 2017  

The History of Food Fads in the U.S.

You should know by now how I feel about fad diets. I was interested to find out why, when & where this crazy attitude about food began? I think you will be surprised, I was!

The why isn’t too shocking. Women & men have had this need to ‘look good” at whatever cost to their health for a very long time. Looking good has not always meant being thin. For women, during some periods of history, it meant being what would be considered plump & curvy by the current standards. It also meant trying to have a young boys figure for those flapper dresses in the 1920’s & again during the 1960’s when looking like Twiggy was all the rage. Jack LaLane defined what a man’s body should look like starting with his health club in 1936! The problem with this is that most women & men, no matter how much, or how they lose weight, will never conform to those images.

I found this abstract on PubMed very interesting. Regime change: gender, class, and the invention of dieting in post-bellum America. by Katharina Vester  The crux of the abstract is to argue against the idea that women were encouraged to diet in the 1920’s as a way to control them from further independence. She offers that dieting started way before then, in the 1860’s, & targeted white, middle class males instead. Because the men were building up their bodies & losing weight, women began to do the same. “Revising the history of dieting to show its origins as a masculine practice appropriated by women to stake a claim to class and race privilege invites a rethinking of power and resistance in the disciplining of the female body.” The abstract is short & an interesting idea. Give it a read.

 To prove the point, here is the ~not so pretty~ history of some fad diets. The sad part is that some of these exist today.

Maeve Hanan gave me permission to use this wonderful info-graph from her site dietetically speaking. She is a Registered Dietitian from Ireland, currently working in England. She wrote this very interesting article about fad diets: A Brief History of Ridiculous Fad Diets by Maeve Hanan, March 20th, 2016. 

The first diet she lists is from 175 BC, the cabbage & urine diet. Maybe this is where our idea of the cabbage soup diet came from 🙂 Maeve also mentions the “tapeworm diet”. Believe it or not, it has been used for weight loss for over 100 years in the USA. It is also illegal in this country. I can’t even imagine how one can rationalize this diet to oneself. Read her article for the entire list. 

I want to add a note here for those of you who still believe that coconut oil is healthy for you to consume. Please read this very well researched & written article by Maeve Hanan: The Facts About Fat; Part 4: Coconut Oil Debunked.  Food for thought 🙂

This is a fun read about famous writers & their eating habits. The first Celebrity Diet is attributed to the poet & playwright, Lord Byron (1788-1824) in the article  10 Writers’ Diets In the 1800s by Sabine Bevers, June 9, 2013. Byron had a weight problem & designed his own diet. I would say that Robert Lewis Stevenson would be considered a glutton by today’s standards or maybe a ~heart attack waiting to happen~.

In another article from the BBC News Magazine: History’s weirdest fad diets January 2013, the author describes the vinegar diet. She writes about Lord Byron’s dietary use of vinegar for weight loss. Because of his status, his dietary habits became a worry due to his influence on the youth of the time. Sounds familiar. This article is also a fun read. The advent of rubber knickers & corsets for men & women to lose weight was started by Charles Goodyear! Another idea that was popular in the mid 1800’s.

This is a timeline for popular diets put together in an article in the Los Angeles Times: A brief timeline shows how we’re gluttons for diet fads by Rene Lynch Feb. 28th, 2015 

The author, Rene Lynch, begins her timeline with the book “The Physiology of Taste” written by Jean Brillat-Savarin in 1825. The timeline continues to the Paleo Diet in 2010. I like this timeline because it reminds us of all the foolish diets; the Drinking Man’s diet, the Cigarette diet 🙁 and the not so foolish diets; Weight Watchers & the Mediterranean diet. It is fun to read this & tic off each of the diets you have tried! I counted 7 🙂

Here is another timeline from CNN: Diets through history: The good, the bad and the scary By Lesley Rotchford, Health.com, February 8, 2013 . This one is especially interesting because it names the celebrities that backed some of these scary diets & ways of losing weight.

I was just ready to publish this post when I noticed these two articles.

This was on CNN about the Military Diet: Military diet: 3-day diet or dud? The first part of the article is a detailed description of what the diet is. Very entertaining! You may like the idea of eating ice cream with dinner everyday 🙂 As it describes the diet there is also commentary on why it is unhealthy. 

The Military Diet is also known as the Army or Navy diet. The U.S. Department of Defense disavows any link to this crazy diet. The article goes on to explore who actually created the diet. It is an interesting journey. It has also been called the Mayo Clinic Diet, Kaiser Permanente Diet, American Heart Association Diet,  the Cleveland Clinic Diet & the Birmingham Hospital Diet. All have denied ever creating such a restrictive diet, & they don’t support or recommend it. 

The author also explores why people fall for fad diets in the section called How Diet Misinformation Spreads. This is a very good article & worth reading. 

I just couldn’t pass this one up, although it isn’t a diet, it is about chocolate! Several news outlets had this in their headlines, but I chose CBS’s article to share with you: S​enator calls for regulation of “snortable chocolate​” Of course my first reaction was, “Are you kidding me? Really, what fun would that be, I mean what’s the point?” Sitting at the beach or reading a book & indulging in a rich piece of chocolate is Heaven! After reading the article I understood & share the concern with Senator Schumer.

The product is being marketed as “raw cocoa snuff”. As it says in the article, it is difficult to find what other ingredients are in it. I did find an article with an interview of the product owner & it said that the ingredients used in energy drinks, such as caffeine, taurine, and guarana, are in it You Can Now Snort Chocolate for Energy ). These ingredients are not safe. The manufacturers website, LegalLeanStore.comwhich is definitely aimed at young consumers, I found disturbing as a health care person, and as a grandmother. This is a good example of the FDA’s limits for regulating products. This is also a good example of why we as consumers need to read the labels on products. It is ultimately our responsibility when choosing to believe the hype or not.

I hope you enjoyed this trip through history. It shows how people were influenced by the icons, & media of their time. Fast forward to 2017 with it’s celebrities from the screen, fashion & social media dictating how we should look & how we should eat. Not much has changed. Even Queen Victoria was concerned about being too fat. I guess there must have been fat shaming in her time as well.

Fad diets will never go away. My message to you is to remember that you are a unique individual. You have to decide what is right for you, & what makes you healthy & happy. 

Until next week…Mary 🙂

Additional Information

Have You Met Polenta?

Polenta tubes are a staple in our pantry. My husband likes to use it for a quick snack or for his lunches. I like to use it instead of pasta in some recipes. If you haven’t met Polenta, you are missing out. 

Polenta is made from cooked cornmeal, making it gluten-free. It can be made with white or yellow corn; yellow is the most often seen. It was considered peasant food in Northern & Central Italy but is now a delicacy. I have seen it called “Italian Grits”.  Before the 16th century, polenta was made with spelt, rye or buckwheat. In the 16th century, corn was exported from America to European countries. It was at this time that polenta was made from corn. If you are interested in a more detailed history of polenta: Italy Heritage, traditional foods: Polenta 

Polenta is very easy to make. 1 cup of cornmeal will make about 3+ cups of polenta. Here is a basic recipe from Cooking Lessons from the Kitchen.

How To Make Creamy Stovetop Polenta , Makes about 4 cups

What You Need

Ingredients …Instead of butter or cheese you can add herbs for flavor.
4 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup polenta or yellow cornmeal
1 cup cheese (optional)
1-3 tablespoons butter (optional)

2- to 3-quart pot with lid
Long handled spoon or sturdy spatula


  1. Bring the water to a boil. Bring the water to a brisk boil over medium-high heat. Add the salt.
  2. Pour the polenta into the boiling water. While whisking gently, pour the polenta into the boiling water in a steady stream.
  3. Continue whisking until polenta is thickened. Turn down the heat to low and continue whisking until the polenta has thickened enough that it doesn’t settle back on the bottom of the pan when you stop stirring.
  4. Cook the polenta 30-40 minutes. Cover the polenta and continue cooking. Stir vigorously every 10 minutes or so, making sure to scrape the sides, bottom, and corners of the pan. Cook 30 minutes for softer porridge-like polenta or 40 minutes for thicker polenta.
  5. Stir in cheese and butter, if using. Stir the cheese and butter into the polenta, if using. Serve immediately, or cover the pan and let it sit at the back of the stove for up to 15 minutes before serving.

Additional Notes:

  • Leftover Polenta: Polenta will solidify into the shape of the container in which you store it. Leftover polenta can be sliced or cubed before being roasted, grilled, or deep-fried. To make it creamy again, warm it with a little broth, milk, or water, and stir vigorously. It won’t be quite as creamy as it was originally, but it should still be pourable.
  • Per serving, based on 6 servings. (% daily value)…when  made with butter & cheese.
    • Calories 207
    • Fat 10.7 g (16.4%)
    • Saturated 6.1 g (30.7%)
    • Trans 0.4 g
    • Carbs 21 g (7%)
    • Fiber 1 g (4.1%)
    • Sugars 0.5 g
    • Protein 6.4 g (12.9%)
    • Cholesterol 29.4 mg (9.8%)
    • Sodium 517.5 mg (21.6%)

Livestrong has a good article on the Nutrition Information of Polenta. 

Ancient Harvest is the brand I buy. It is a very good brand for Organic Polenta, precooked in a tube. You can buy it just about anywhere. It is even sold at Walmart according to the websites “store locator”

The Traditional Polenta basic ingredients are simple:  Water, Organic Yellow Corn Meal, Salt, Tartaric Acid*, Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C), Beta Carotene (Vitamin A) 

NUTRITION FACTS:  Servings per Container: about 5 / Serving Size: 2, 1/2 Inch Slices (100g) Calories 70, Total Fat 0g, Cholesterol 0mg Sodium 310mg, Total Carbohydrates 15g, Dietary Fiber 1g, Protein 2g

Their polenta comes in several flavors. 

  • TRADITIONAL POLENTAAncient Harvest polentas may be wheat-free, gluten-free, fat-free, nut-free, soy-free and dairy-free, but you can bet they’re always flavor-full. Try our sensational ready-to-eat Food Merchants Traditional Italian Polenta and see what we mean. Delicioso!
  • BASIL GARLIC POLENTA  My favorite.
  • GREEN CHILI AND POLENTA  My husbands favorite.
  • POLENTA Polenta combined with quinoa. Haven’t tried this one yet.

Ancient Harvest has a great Polenta Recipe Page that is divided into topics. I liked this one: Easy, Plant-Powered Polenta Recipes In light of my last post about how french fries are killing us, here is an alternative option!

Baked Polenta Fries with Honey Mustard Dipping Sauce Baked Polenta Fries with Honey Mustard Dipping Sauce Created by Wendy at Fit-and-Frugal.com What a delicious treat! Baked Polenta fries with honey mustard dipping sauce are a fantastic addition to the Ancient Harvest family of recipes.

For those of you who are fortunate enough to have a Trader Joe’s nearby, they have their own brand of Organic Polenta in a tube. From their Fearless Flyer: “In typical Trader Joe’s fashion, Trader Joe’s Organic Polenta has a world-wise pedigree. The Washington-state-based company that makes it for us has family roots in Italy. They are also the pioneers of ready-to-eat polenta. Rather than stirring and waiting, stirring and waiting, you can have fresh-tasting polenta in minutes. Just slice it into rounds and bake or pan sauté for best results. (If you’re really careful, you can even grill the rounds.) Polenta can be topped with tomato sauce, grated cheese, basil & pine nuts or whatever suits your mood. It’s a terrific side dish with chicken, beef or your favorite mild fish. It also adds an interesting twist to otherwise traditional Eggs Benedict — whether you use it to replace the English muffin or the Canadian bacon is entirely up to you.” 

Here is a link to their Polenta Recipes. This one is almost like a lasagne. I need to try it for a “company dinner”. Acorn Squash Polenta Stacks Serves: 6/  Prep Time: 15 Minutes/  Cooking Time: 1 – 2 Hours


  • Preheat oven to 375°F. Slice squash halves into 1/2″ half-moon-shaped slices. Spray a large baking sheet with a light dusting of oil and sprinkle with a little sea salt and pepper. Place the slices on the sheet in a single layer. Lightly spray the tops and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake until the slices are tender, about 35 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside to cool; lower oven temperature to 350°F.
  • Place ricotta, kale, garlic and 1/4 teaspoon salt into a bowl and combine. Set aside.
  • Assemble the stacks: Coat the bottom of a 9″ x 13″ baking dish with a light layer of sauce. Lay 12 Polenta rounds side by side and season with a little salt and pepper; cover with sauce. Next, top each round with squash slices facing each other, trim to fit neatly. Top each set of squash with the ricotta-kale mixture and smooth out. Top with more sauce, followed by a layer of polenta and the last layer of squash. Pour over the remainder of sauce and top each stack with Mozzarella cheese, followed by Parmesan cheese.
  • Cover with foil and bake for about 40 minutes. Uncover for the last 10 minutes or until cheese is golden and bubbly. Remove from oven and rest 15 minutes before serving.

I am  always on the lookout for a new breakfast or lunch recipe. This one looks like it can be either. It is from The Breakfast Drama Queen. 

Polenta Scramble (Gluten-Free and Vegan)  This is a gluten-free, vegan breakfast scramble that’s easy to make and even easier to modify. Perfect for tofu-haters, or anyone who loves cornbread. Take a look at the recipe, click on the link. She has photos & explanations. Good website to bookmark! 

Prep time 20 mins/ Cook time 10 mins/ Total time 30 mins/ Yield: 2

  • ½ cup polenta
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • ½ cup water
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups diced eggplant (approx. ½ an eggplant) Yum, my favorite veggie!
  • ½ a red bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 carrot, peeled and chopped
  • ¼ cup vegetable broth
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • Salt and pepper
  1. In a saucepan, use a wooden spoon to mix together the polenta, almond milk, water and salt. Bring the mixture to the boil (stirring occasionally) – or at least to the point where a lot of bubbles surface.
  2. Reduce the heat to low and cook for 3 – 5 minutes, stirring frequently, or until the polenta is thick and creamy.
  3. Transfer to polenta to a small-medium rectangular dish (mine was 5×7-in). Spread the polenta evenly and place in the freezer for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, add a few shakes of salt to the diced eggplant. Set aside.
  4. Turn out the polenta onto a plate or cutting board. Slice into small cubes (approximately 1×1-inch each). Set aside.
  5. Preheat a skillet over medium heat. Grease well with cooking oil spray. Add the sliced bell pepper and carrot, and cook for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally with a spatula.
  6. Add the diced eggplant, and cook for 2 minutes. Pour in the vegetable broth and cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently. (Don’t be surprised if there’s a lot of steam when you add the broth).
  7. Carefully use the spatula to fold through the polenta without breaking the cubes. Add the parsley and a few shakes of black pepper. Cook for 3-5 minutes, or until the polenta is warm and lightly browned. Taste for salt and pepper.
  8. Divide the polenta scramble between two plates (or bowls). Enjoy!

Polenta can be eaten as a porridge with cut fruit & a dollop of Greek yogurt for a breakfast or for a pick-me-up snack. It can also be eaten like southern grits. 

The difference between grits & polenta is the corn. Polenta is made with a yellow corn called flint or Indian corn. The kernels are harder, because they have less water content than other types of corn, thus the name flint.  Grits are made with white corn called dent corn. Dent corn is a field corn that is softer & higher in starch than flint. It is named after the dents on the top of the kernels. Both are stone-ground cornmeal but the flavor & texture is different. 

Good article from the KitchenPolenta Versus Grits: What’s the Difference? 

I hope you give polenta a try. Until next week…Mary 🙂

More recipes for polenta:

June Nutrition Nuggets


June is nearly over! The summer solstice is past us, and the days will be getting shorter. The months seem to be going by quite fast. What was new in the health news for June?

I believe the biggest shocker to anyone who is interested in their diet or nutrition is whether or not coconut oil is a healthy choice. Lets start with that. Remember, fats are not all the same. Here is an excerpt from my post Healthy Oils/Fats:     

  • Trans Fats:  Being banned by the FDA.  Most trans fats are made from highly processed oils; called partial hydrogenation. Research has shown them to be unhealthy for consumption and that is why they are banned in European countries & are being banned here.
  • Saturated Fats: They are solid at room temperatures. Less than 7% should be in your diet.
  • Polyunsaturated Fats: They are always liquid even when refrigerated. Each type of polyunsaturated oil contains a different Omega 3  to Omega 6 ratio. Check the labels. Your body needs both but the Omega 3’s should be higher.
  • Monounsaturated Fat: Liquid at room temperature but becomes cloudy when refrigerated. Choose oils that are highest in monounsaturated fats. These are the “healthy oils”. These oils contain more Omega 3’s.

CBS News ran this article, along with a video, on June 16th: Why you should replace coconut oil with healthier fatsThe American Heart Association (AHA) released a report this week aimed at setting the record straight in the long-running debate over the healthiest fats. A recent New York Times survey found that 72 percent of Americans think coconut oil is healthy but only 37 percent of nutritionists agree with them.

The AHA says that replacing saturated fats found in coconut oil or butter with vegetable oils like corn or peanut can lower cardiovascular disease by about 30 percent. That’s almost the same amount as a cholesterol-lowering statin drugI want to mention here that corn & soy oil is GMO unless it is Organic. Extra Virgin Olive oil, a mono-saturated fat, would be my choice.

In the video, Dr. Tara Narula said: “But the reality is when you look at what coconut oil is made of, 80 percent of it is saturated fat and that’s similar to butter which is about 60 percent saturated fat or beef fat which is about 40 percent,” Narula told “CBS This Morning.” “Saturated fat raises the LDL or the ‘bad’ cholesterol so coconut oil is going to have that same effect as butter and beef fat.”

There is such a thing as the “halo effect”, where a food goes from bad to a super food status from one study or a celebrity endorsement. We have seen this happen many times. This has happened to coconut oil. It is not a “bad” oil but it is a saturated fat. 

Based on all that I have read about this, coconut oil can be used, but in moderation. The AHA has recommended that no more than 7% of your total calories per day should come from saturated fat. For example, with 2000 calories a day your saturated fat limit is 16 grams or 140 calories from saturated fat. On the label of my coconut oil it states that 1 tablespoon = 13 grams of saturated fat. 

Coconut oil advocates argue that it is a healthy fat because it is plant based. Not all plant based oils are healthy. They also point to cultures who exclusively use coconut oil in their cooking. Yes, but they don’t have the same lifestyle & fast foods that we have. I can list all the arguments for its use as a food, but research does not back them up. Consume it in moderation.

It still has many uses as a skin moisturizer & in other beauty products. Don’t throw it away, just move it to your bathroom 🙂

As I am writing this, I see a new study with Extra Virgin Olive Oil. USA Today reported on June 21, 2017: Extra virgin olive oil staves off Alzheimer’s, preserves memory, new study shows  Very good article by Sean Rossman. “Temple University research shows extra-virgin olive oil protects against memory loss, preserves the ability to learn and reduces conditions associated with Alzheimer’s disease.

Researchers at the college’s Lewis Katz School of Medicine found mice with EVOO-enriched diets had better memories and learning abilities compared to the rodents who didn’t eat the oil. The real effect of EVOO appeared in the inner-workings of the mice’s brains. Neuron connections in the brain were better preserved in those on an EVOO diet.

Also, olive oil reduces brain inflammation and activates the autophagy process, whereby intracellular debris and toxins are removed. Such debris and toxins are firm markers of Alzheimer’s disease. A reduction in autophagy, researchers claim, is suspected to be the beginning of Alzheimer’s disease. 

Read the rest of the article for more information about this study. This is good news, but remember, the study has been done only on rats. Human clinical trials are needed. But in the meantime, I will keep on using my extra virgin olive oil! 

The next piece of bad news is for french fry lovers 🙂  From the Washington Post, Those french fries could kill you, a new study says. But don’t panic! This article, published b on June 16, was my favorite because of the way it was written. He starts by saying: Hey, you, the dude reading this story on your phone over a pile of french fries: Back slowly away from the crispy spuds. They’re out to get you.” 

The article is based on a new study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition which concluded that: “The frequent consumption of fried potatoes appears to be associated with an increased mortality risk. Additional studies in larger sample sizes should be performed to confirm if overall potato consumption is associated with higher mortality risk.”

Mr. Carmen finished the article with: What they did say was that folks who ate “fried potatoes” two or more times a week “were at an increased risk of mortality.” And not the kind of minuscule increase that’s easy to brush off for those firmly committed to their death sticks. The researchers concluded that frequent fried potato eaters more than doubled their risk of premature death. This was in the study results.

The ray of hope for tuber lovers? “The consumption of unfried potatoes was not associated with an increased mortality risk,” the study noted. No word if those unfried potatoes were drenched with butter, slathered with sour cream and sprinkled with pre-shredded cheddar.

Everyone, of course, cried fryer-oil tears over the news.” Once a month can’t be all that bad, right? 

BBC News, June 14, 2017:  EU court bans dairy-style names for soya and tofu “Plant-based foods cannot be sold in the European Union using terms such as milk, butter and cheese, the European Court of Justice has ruled.

The ECJ was ruling in a case referred to it by a German court and involving German food company TofuTown. The company sells plant-based products with names including “Soyatoo Tofu Butter” and “Veggie Cheese”. It said customers were not misled, because their products’ plant origins were clear.

Since December 2013 EU regulations have stated that designations such as milk, butter, cheese cream and yogurt can only be used for marketing and advertising products which are derived from animal milk.

There are some exceptions. Coconut milk is allowed, for example, as are peanut butter, almond milk and ice cream. However, soya and tofu are not exempted.

I included this article because I thought it was interesting. Since the consumers were not confused, I am not convinced there is a problem with the labeling. I would say that the process required to make butter or cheese should be the deciding factor, not that it comes from milk 🙂

I really enjoyed reading this article about the history of rice in Asia. I received it from the Oldways Whole Grains Council’s newsletter.  A NEW DAWN FOR WHOLE GRAINS IN CHINA, MAY 31, 2017  When you think of grain foods in China, you’d be forgiven if white rice is the first thing that comes to mind. But as China gears up to feed a growing population, and ward off the diet-related chronic diseases that Americans are all too familiar with, the tradition of whole grains in China is being revisited with renewed vigor.

What is interesting about this article is that the reason they are promoting brown rice over white rice has more to do with feeding the population than the health benefits. One kilogram of paddy rice yields about 750 grams of brown rice, but only 650 grams of white rice. For this reason, the Health Promotion Board in the Philippines encourages people to “be RICEsponsible” and choose brown rice instead.  It would not be surprising to see similar campaigns make their way to China in the coming years. Apparently some reports warn that in 40 years there will only be enough food in China for people to eat 2 meals per day, so strategies to reduce food waste are of utmost importance.

Read the rest of the article for the history of white, black & brown rice in Asia. In conclusion, the article ended with this information…

…”Despite the historical significance that whole grains have in Chinese culture, companies are also  finding modern ways to incorporate more whole grains into current Chinese traditions. Oat House (the company that organized the Sino-Foreign Whole Grains Industry Development Experts Forum) is putting whole grain oat flour into the mooncakes for the upcoming mid-autumn festival in China. Here is a link to what mooncakes are.

With their eager embrace of globalization, many Chinese people have reshaped their diets to incorporate unfamiliar foods from around the world (like coffee and yogurt). Hopefully, with cooperation of Chinese government agencies, NGOs, and manufacturers, whole grains will make their way onto more and more Chinese plates as well. (Kelly) 

Kentucky fried Chicken has been in China since 1987 & has over 5,000 outlets there! Pizza Hut, Subway & Starbucks are there also. Hopefully the SAD, Standard American Diet, and all its diseases won’t follow.

After reading my post, my husband has abandoned using coconut oil in & on everything. It was the buttery taste that he was going for on toast & popcorn. I never liked it because it made my mouth feel greasy. He is back to using EV olive oil now. I think he has made the right decision. 

Until next week…Mary 🙂

***Cookbook by Rebecca Katz & Mat Edelson, on Amazon, only $1.99 for Kindle edition: The Healthy Mind Cookbook: Big-Flavor Recipes to Enhance Brain Function, Mood, Memory, and Mental Clarity  A collection of more than 120 recipes formulated to optimize brain health, boost memory, improve mood, sharpen the central nervous system, and more.

Food & Mood.

You have read &/or heard my opinions on food & mood for a very long time. On many occasions I have encouraged you to start a food diary that also notes how you feel emotionally after you eat a specific food or a meal. This is why you should start doing this…

I saw an article on BBC news regarding food & mental health. I decided to dig a bit further to see if I could find any research on the subject. We can all stand to improve our mental health, but especially when dealing with a life altering diagnosis. 

This is the article that started my thoughts on the subject: How food can improve your mental health 22 May 2017  Approximately one in four of us will experience a mental health problem each year in England.  As part of our fight against this, we have a very much under utilised tool – food. In BBC One’s Doctor in the House, I try to help 34-year-old Emma Gleeson, who has been experiencing anxiety, depression and panic attacks for many years. 

This article is worth a serious look. The dramatic changes in her mental health is wonderful. Emma states: “I had been living on a diet of takeaways, fizzy drinks and general processed and convenience foods for as long as I can remember, and didn’t for one moment think that what I ate was contributing in any way to the anxiety and panic attacks I’d been experiencing for years,” she said.

“Since meeting and spending time with Dr Rangan, he has changed my entire outlook on food, and why certain foods were potentially having a negative impact on my mental health. I now only buy and cook with fresh food, I make my own stocks, I eat plenty of fish and I try to reduce the amount of sugar I consume. I feel so much better and intend to keep this up.”

Diet changes to effect a change in our mental health should be made along with any therapy or prescriptions you are already taking. This is not meant to replace mental health care if you need it.

 In Psychology today: How Food Effects Mood has a list of articles written about food & mood. They are all very good. The first one isRecent Links Between Food and Mood : The benefits of being a Mediterranean omnivore by Gary L. Wenk Ph.D.Your …Brain on Food, Posted Apr 08, 2015 “Considerable evidence has linked an unhealthy diet to obesity, metabolic syndrome, diabetes and cancer.  We now understand how chronic obesity ages us and then underlies the foundation of our death.  Furthermore, obesity leads to body-wide chronic inflammation that predisposes us to depression and dementia.  However, these are all the long-term consequences of our diet upon our body and brain.  What about the short- term consequences?  Can specific nutrients in my breakfast or lunch influence my brain’s function today?  Intuitively, we would all agree that this is certainly likely.  After all, being depressed or anxious can lead to poor dietary habits; conversely, poor dietary choices can lead to depression and anxiety.  Although it can be difficult to determine which came first in some people, most relevant studies indicate that an unhealthy diet is a significant risk factor for future depressive symptoms (Br J Psychiatry 2009;195:408413).” Continue reading for more information on studies & the 🙂 Mediterranean diet & mood! 

This next article is about moods & the Mediterranean diet but it also lists 6 foods & their impact on your mood; salmon, probiotics (gut to brain link 🙂 ), leafy greens, blueberries, oysters & chocolate. 

 From the Washington Post:  6 foods to eat for a mood boost   April 6  “If you’ve ever found bliss in a bite of chocolate or smiled when someone offered you a french fry, then you know food can make you happy. But while it’s true that your favorite treat may give you a brief emotional lift, sustained mood-boosting brain power can only come from a consistent supply of nutritious foods.

Recognizing the difference between a quick jolt of cookie-fueled joy and the positive effects of long-term nutrition for brain health is important. Researchers are taking a closer look at how food can impact your mood and future cognitive function, and they are finding that what you eat does make a difference.” I do like the cookie-fueled joy, but I agree with the idea that long-term nutrition is more important. This article shows it is not just what you are no longer eating~ junk food~ but also the impact of what you are eating every day on your mental wellbeing. 

I found this article in Food & Nutrition: The Relationship Between Food and Mood BY ABBIE GELLMAN, MS, RD, CDN, 02/08/2017  Turns out that the old saying “you are what you eat” is true, especially in relation to food and mood. Over the past several years, many evidence-based studies have been published detailing how some foods help improve your mood while others make it worse. Important nutrients affect brain chemistry, impacting mood, memory and cognitive function.  However, if you’re eating a healthy balance of whole foods that contain a variety of nutrients, you’re more likely to feel calmer, more content and generally in a better mood.”

The author, Abbie Gellman, goes on to talk about; Ways Your Food Intake Can Effect Your Mood & Ways You Can Improve Your Mood Through Food. This was my favorite tip in the second part: “Consume foods as close as possible to how they look in nature. For example, an orange is less processed and closer to nature than orange juice.” Good advice.

Nutritional psychiatry: Your brain on food , Eva Selhub MD, POSTED NOVEMBER 16, 2015, 9:00 AM , UPDATED NOVEMBER 17, 2015,  “Think about it. Your brain is always “on.” It takes care of your thoughts and movements, your breathing and heartbeat, your senses — it works hard 24/7, even while you’re asleep. This means your brain requires a constant supply of fuel. That “fuel” comes from the foods you eat — and what’s in that fuel makes all the difference. Put simply, what you eat directly affects the structure and function of your brain and, ultimately, your mood.

Like an expensive car, your brain functions best when it gets only premium fuel. Eating high-quality foods that contain lots of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants nourishes the brain and protects it from oxidative stress — the “waste” (free radicals) produced when the body uses oxygen, which can damage cells.”

The brain/gut connection has been the subject of several studies. This is a good article from Johns Hopkins Medicine, Healthy Aging: The Brain-Gut Connection“Anxiety and depression have been thought to contribute to gastro conditions like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). A Johns Hopkins expert explains how what’s going on in your gut could be affecting your brain….If you’ve ever “gone with your gut” to make a decision or felt “butterflies in your stomach” when nervous, you’re likely getting signals from an unexpected source: your second brain.  Hidden in the walls of the digestive system, this “brain in your gut” is revolutionizing medicine’s understanding of the links between digestion, mood, health and even the way you think.”  

If you are mindful of the brain/gut connection, passing up the coke & fries makes sense. It doesn’t mean that you CAN’T try the deep fried Oreo at the fair. It means you might want to share it with someone & enjoy your half. Just don’t make them at home 🙂 

This article from WebMD was published December 15, 2009. This idea has been around for a long time & the recommendations in the article still apply. How Food Affects Your Moods Can your diet help put you in a good mood (or a bad one)?  By Elaine Magee, MPH, RD

So how should you change your diet if you want to try to improve your mood? You’ll find eight suggestions below. Try to incorporate as many as possible, because regardless of their effects on mood, most of these changes offer other health benefits as well. Read the article for details about each of these.

  1. Don’t Banish Carbs — Just Choose ‘Smart’ Ones
  2. Get More Omega-3 Fatty Acids
  3. Eat a Balanced Breakfast
  4. Keep Exercising and Lose Weight (Slowly)
  5. Move to a Mediterranean Diet 🙂 🙂 🙂
  6. Get Enough Vitamin D
  7. Select Selenium-Rich Foods
  8. Don’t Overdo Caffeine

Eliminating or decreasing the amount of sugar & processed foods is a good start. Dare I say it? Yes, move towards a plant based diet such as the Mediterranean.

I will leave you with 2 quotes from my favorite author Michael Pollen’s books & a list of Brain Food recipes below.

“It’s not food if it arrived through the window of your car” From Food Rules: An Eaters Manual. My favorite book of his.

“Eat food, not too much, mostly plants.” from In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto 

Until next week…Mary 🙂

Here are a few links to Brain Food Recipes!

  • PureWow: 30 Mood-Boosting Dinners for a Happier, Healthier Month  SARAH STIEFVATER, MAR. 22, 2017  “Our perfect dinner is delicious and nutritious enough that we don’t feel guilty about eating it. Basically, we want to eat things that make us feel good. Which is why we’ll be whipping up the following 30 meals this month: They all include ingredients that are proven to boost your mood.
  • From Eating Well: Brain-Boosting Dinner Recipes   “Eat for a sharper mind with these healthy dinner recipes to boost brain power. Adding omega-3-rich ingredients, such as oily fish, to your diet, as well as iron-rich foods, such as beans, and water-rich foods, such as leafy salad greens, can support healthy cognitive function. Try one of our healthy salmon recipes or hearty bean recipes tonight for a brain-boosting dinner.”
  • Cooking Light, Health News: 5 Recipes to Boost Brain Health Much depends on what you eat, especially how you age, feel, and focus. So why not feed your body and brain with clean, high-octane fuel? Here’s how.
  • A Couple Cooks: 10 Brain Food Recipes to Boost Your Mood We’re Sonja & Alex, a husband and wife who love to cook. This website is a collection of the simple, healthy, and mostly vegetarian recipes we cook in our kitchen. We also host the A Couple Cooks Podcast, a show for a growing community of people who love to cook and eat well.
  • Eating Well: Brain-Boosting, Healthy Breakfast Recipes Our healthy breakfast recipes deliver brain-boosting nutrients, like iron and omega-3s, plus whole grains to support cognitive function and improve memory while powering your morning. Try our healthy granola, breakfast-sandwich, waffle recipes and more easy breakfast recipes for a healthy start to your day.

Simple Meals

This time of year I prefer to be outdoors taking walks or working in the garden. I don’t want to be in the house cooking a complicated, time consuming meal. I want something easy to make & easy to clean up! The key to this is to prepare produce ahead of time, & to cook staples such as grains & beans to have on hand in the refrigerator.

Because my husband grows vegetables, we came to an agreement that he harvests our salad greens & any ripe fruits & veggies twice a week. This way, I can I spin dry the salad greens before I store them in a salad keeper for use when needed. Produce such as potatoes, tomatoes, beets & mushrooms I clean when I am ready to use them. Veggies like carrots, celery, & cucumbers, I clean & cut into bite size pieces. They can be stored for use in a quick meal or a grab & go snack.

I usually cook a pot of brown rice, or other grain; & a pot of beans or lentils, at the beginning of the week & store them in the frig to be used in salads or by themselves. I also bake potatoes & root vegetables all at the same time if I know I will be using them in a recipe during the week. 

Real Simple: How to Store Fruits and Vegetables  By Elizabeth Passarella, Keep your produce as fresh as possible with these guidelines* for storing fruits and vegetables. Excellent guide.

***Before you ask, I rinse everything with cold water. I don’t use vinegar or any commercial rinse product. 

The latest newsletter from Oldways has some wonderful ideas for One-Dish MealsKeep things simple in the kitchen this summer with healthy one-dish Mediterranean meals. There are plenty of traditional examples of these kinds of dishes. It’s no wonder the Mediterranean diet topped U.S. News’ list of the easiest diets to follow! Fewer dishes mean more time to relax while you’re cooking and enjoy your meal at the table. You might even have some extra time to take advantage of the sunny summer weather. Keep reading for our favorite one-dish Mediterranean meal ideas.

Here are two ideas from the newsletter:

  • 1 lemon
  • 2 teaspoons poppy seeds
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon grainy mustard
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • ¼ cup dried apricots, cut into quarters
  • 3 to 4 cups cooked chicken or turkey, chopped
  • 1 red apple, unpeeled and chopped
  • 4 stalks celery, chopped
  • 4 scallions, chopped
  • ½ head green leaf lettuce
  1. If the chicken’s not already cooked, poach it gently in a little water while you chop and mix everything else. When it’s cooked through, chop it. (Poaching a chicken breast takes about 10-12 minutes, depending on thickness.)
  2. Finely grate the peel of a fresh lemon into a large bowl, then juice the lemon into the same bowl (remember to grate the peel first!)
  3. Add poppy seeds, mustard, honey, oil and apricots to the bowl, then let apricots soften for at least 15 minutes in this dressing (less time if they are very fresh).
  4. Add the lumpy ingredients and chicken, and mix well. Serve on a bed of greens.

Tips and Variations

  • Use 2 tablepsoons honey-mustard instead of honey and mustard.
  • Dip your measuring spoon in the oil before measuring the honey, so the honey will slide right off. Or just estimate the honey, pouring it right into your salad bowl. No need to be exact!
  • Make enough for tomorrow’s lunch and feel free to add other ingredients you have lying around: fresh corn, Italian chicken sausage, chopped lettuce etc. The dressing’s the key, then anything else goes.
  • Always roll a lemon before juicing it—it breaks down the fruit inside and makes it jucier!
  • Make everything ahead and add the lettuce just when serving.
  • Instead of doubling everything, you can add extra veggies to stretch this.

Big Salads
If you need dinner on the table fast, keep it simple with a big, seasonal salad. Seasonal vegetables taste incredible during the summer months, so always keep a few options on hand in case an impromptu salad is needed. Try a classic fattoush (Middle Eastern pita salad) made with torn whole wheat pita, romaine, tomatoes, cucumbers, parsley, and mint. Summer fruits add nice flavor to salads too. Try tossing berries and sliced peaches with summer greens and farro, for example. To make your salads more substantial, add:

  • Beans, chickpeas, or lentils
  • Canned tuna
  • Hard boiled eggs
  • Shaved or crumbled cheese
  • Nuts or seeds
  • Leftover roasted chicken or fish

I make a big salad of our mixed greens, add some beans & rice I made at the beginning of the week, olives, sliced red peppers, carrots, cucumber & celery to it. You can add fish, poultry or tofu rather than beans. Be creative! 

One of my favorite dishes to make ahead & serve all week 🙂 is a quiche. I have links to quiche recipes on our Recipe Page. When I don’t have time for that, I simply saute whatever veggies I have on hand, or use the leftover roasted vegetables & then add beaten eggs to the mix. Allow the eggs to cook slowly, turn & serve. Easy, healthy & fast! You can serve it with a simple salad or a side of sliced tomatoes, avocado, & salsa. Corn tortillas, sprouted bread or a flat bread go well with it too.

Incredible Egg: FRITTATA MUFFIN RECIPE This is a great idea. You can have them handy when you need a pick-me-up or a small meal.

Another favorite of mine is a simple vegan potato salad. Here is my basic recipe.

  • Steamed, cut up red, purple or golden potatoes. I vary how large I cut the cubes of potato, just to be different.
  • Celery, chopped.
  • Carrot; I grate these because it adds color & a different texture to the salad.
  • Scallions, chopped. I prefer the scallions because they add a lighter onion taste than regular onions.
  • Garlic cloves, chopped.
  • Bell peppers sliced or chopped.
  • Pickle relish.
  • Lemon pepper.
  • Vegenaise…I use Follow Your Heart Vegenaise 

Adjust the amounts you use according to your taste & the quantity needed. If you use salt, go lightly because the vegenaise has a subtle salty taste.

Cookie+Kate: Herbed Red Potato Salad (no mayo!)  I enjoy going through this site. She has a new cookbook, as of May 17, 2017, that looks wonderful: Love Real Food: More Than 100 Feel-Good Vegetarian Favorites to Delight the Senses and Nourish the Body 

Tacos or burritos are easy, fast meals. This is another meal that you can be creative with. There are no rules for tortillas in my kitchen. Sprouted tortillas are our choice & fillings can be any leftovers!

Simple Breakfast Burrito ideas of mine. Using a sprouted tortilla or one of your choice, fill with:

  • Left over vegetables. Add tomatoes, avocado & salsa.
  • Egg salad. I add beans & rice.
  • Beans, rice, scrambled eggs, peppers, grated cheese.
  • Beans, potatoes, scrambled eggs, peppers, grated cheese.
  • Scrambled tofu~ Mash the tofu, and add it to sauteed onions, garlic & turmeric. I  add spinach when sauteing the onions. Add beans, rice & cheese to the filling. 

Just because they are called Breakfast Burritos doesn’t mean you can’t serve them for lunch or dinner 🙂

For more recipes take a look at Cooking Light: Healthy Burrito Recipes

If you are in the mood for pizza, here is my grandsons favorite recipe of mine. 

French Bread Pizza

  • Choose any bread for the base. For special occasions I use an organic sourdough or French bread loaf. Cut it in half lengthwise.
  • Use your favorite pasta sauce & “paint” it onto the top of each loaf half.
  • This is the fun part…add anything in the refrigerator that you would like on your pizza. Leftovers, beans, fish, poultry, tomatoes, onions, mushrooms, olives, peppers; anything that takes your fancy.
  • Top with cheese or not! 
  • Bake it in oven at 400 for approximately 30 minutes depending on the toppings. 
  • Serve with arugula & spinach on top.

When I make this for a group of kids, I use a flat bread such as pita or chapala as the base. I cut up & grate all the toppings I think they would like & place them in bowls; including the sauce. I then let the kids build their own pizza. Lots of fun & you are guaranteed to have nothing leftover!

Flatout Flat Bread: 26 of the Best Flatbread Pizza Recipes I like the Quick Fix Margherita Pizza Could not be more simple & tasty. Look at the list on the left for different recipes.

Keep it healthy & simple!

Our favorite breakfast, lunch or dinner is simply sprouted bread toasted with a smear of Vegenaise, slices of avocado, peppers & tomato on top.

My second favorite is sprouted bread toasted with almond butter & slices of banana on top 🙂

My husbands idea of a fast, healthy, meal is a dip with whole grain crackers or pita chips. I like celery or carrot sticks.

Those beans I made at the beginning of the week can now be put in a blender or food processor with or without some salsa & blended until you are happy with the consistency for a dip; creamy or with bits of beans.

Hummus is a very good dip to have on hand. 1 tablespoon has 2.1 gms of fiber & 1.2 gms of protein. 

I haven’t even mentioned fruits or Greek yogurt! So many “fast foods” to have on hand. I think you have the idea.

Bon Appetite: 10 Things to Do With Hummus Note that one idea is Hummus Flatbread Pizza.

Explore the additional recipes below. Enjoy! Until next week…Mary 🙂

P.S. My daughter text me that they are selling jackfruit at Smart & Final in Encinitas. Even sent me this photo!

Jennifer Moore

More Ideas!


What the heck is Jackfruit?

I have been aware of Jackfruit for quite awhile but didn’t take an interest in it. To be honest, when I see the headline, “The New Superfood”, I ignore it. For the last 2 months I have seen Jackfruit mentioned in nearly all of my food related newsletters. Then, when shopping at our local natural foods market, I saw a package of marinated Jackfruit in the cooler by the tofu. I decided it was meant to be 🙂 I needed to research this fruit, write about it & cook with it. 

The ultimate place to learn about this fruit is The Jackfruit Company. Their March 9th, 2016, Blog:  What Is Jackfruit Anyway? (Jackfruit FAQs) is a good place to begin.

alt=jackfruit meat alterantive

The Jackfruit Company


The question gets asked all the time, since jackfruit is a word that has many arching a brow in curiosity. Considering we’re The Jackfruit Company, we love explaining what jackfruit is, where jackfruit comes from, how to cook with jackfruit, and why jackfruit is so nutritious.

Jackfruit is believed to have originated in Southern India thousands of years ago, but is now widely cultivated in tropical regions around the world: SE Asia, South America, Australia and the Caribbean where it has been enjoyed both in ripe and young forms.  Jackfruit grows on trees (aptly named jackfruit trees!). A single jackfruit tree can produce 2 to 3 tons of fruit per year, with a single jackfruit growing up to 80 pounds big! Similar in growing style to bananas or coconuts, jackfruit is harvested straight from the tree. Very impressive!

Jackfruit is a drought-resistant, high-yield crop that enables us to provide substantial income to local families, who, up until recently, had no real means of monetizing the jackfruit already growing abundantly on their land. This company is pretty amazing. Click HERE to see the video about its founder & why she started this company.

Our mission at The Jackfruit Company is to twofold: to help more people all over the world eat this fiber-rich, nutrient-dense fruit (a single serving offers 20% of your daily fiber recommendation!) and generate new income for local farmers in India, our partners who source the young jackfruit.

What’s more, jackfruit is recognized as a high-fiber whole-food meat alternative that will shape the future — and change, for the healthier, the center of the plate. Jackfruit is a good meat substitute because it is soy-free & gluten free. Most meat substitutes are made with soy & or gluten (seitan for example). 

So, now that you know all that (high five!), let’s answer some of your other burning questions about jackfruit. Click on the link above to see the other FAQ’s. 

I wondered about its nutritional valueI copied this data from the FDA website. For the complete nutritional breakdown click HERE.  

Values per 1 cup sliced, raw, edible portion. This information appears to be for the ripe fruit. You will see the difference on the product label below.

  • Calories: 157
  • protein: 2.84 gm
  • Total Fat: 1.06 gm
  • Fiber: 2.5 gm
  • Sugar: 31.48 gm This would be fructose in the ripe fruit. 

There is a big difference in young green Jackfruit & ripe Jackfruit nutritionally. Most recipes are with the young green fruit. According to my research young green Jackfruit is low on the glycemic scale. This is because it is higher in fiber & lower in sugar than the ripe fruit. The fiber slows down the effect of the sugar. 

This is a product from The Jackfruit Company with the nutritional facts. Click on the image to go to the product for a larger view & information.

The Jackfruit Company

I bought the product shown above, BBQ Jackfruit, at our local natural food store, Wild Rivers. They sell this one & Tex-Mex Jackfruit. I am not a BBQ sauce fan but my husband is. Neither of us have ever had a pulled pork BBQ sandwich, so this was a real test! I asked two of the people who work there if they had tried it. John, who is a meat eater, said he had but wasn’t impressed. He said it didn’t taste like pork to him. Marina, a vegetarian, said that she loved it. 

I followed the recipe on the website for BBQ Jackfruit Sliders, & served it on an organic whole wheat hamburger bun with lettuce. We paired the sandwich with corn on the cob, grilled in our toaster oven & a fresh salad. 

We both really enjoyed it. The BBQ flavor was not overpowering & it tasted sweet & smokey. We didn’t think it tasted like pork, but being vegetarians for most of our lives, we are not good judges of what pork tastes like 🙂 I have never liked the texture of meat but for some reason I liked the texture of this. I would definitely purchase it again. One reason is because it is already cooked & you just heat it up. It was an easy, tasty, & fast meal to put together.

I am looking forward to trying the Tex-Mex flavor next in a taco or with roasted veggies as a fajita. 

***Just before I published this post I bought the Tex-Mex Jackfruit. I used their  Tex-Mex Jackfruit Taco Recipe on The Jackfruit Company website. I also had fresh tomatoes, avocado & salad mix to add to the taco. It was fast & easy to make. Took about 15 minutes because I sauteed the onion & peppers first. The flavor was excellent & we both enjoyed it. We will definitely be having these again. I am very excited to have these soy & gluten free options.

You can buy fresh jackfruit at an Asian market I am told. I have never seen the fruit & we don’t have an Asian market here. It can also be found in cans. They are either packed in water, brine or in a syrup. I plan on looking for it when we go to a “big city”. I would like to try using it in other recipes.

***My source at Jimbo’s, Encinitas, said that they sell the fresh fruit each season, but that it goes really fast. She said that one of the fruits they sold was 1 & 1/2 feet long!

Most of the recipes I found were for pulled pork sandwiches. I dug a little deeper & found other ways to cook with the fruit.

 The Jackfruit Company; Recipes Archives Their recipes are limited to their products but have some good ideas. 

A favorite website, Minimalist Baker: BBQ JACKFRUIT SANDWICHES WITH AVOCADO SLAW  Simple, 30 minute BBQ jackfruit sandwiches that will fool any meat lover! A crunchy, cool avocado slaw and roasted salted cashews add even more texture and flavor. The perfect vegan substitute for pulled pork. Click on the recipe title if you would like a printed version. The site also has photos & information about jackfruit.

Prep time, Cook time, Total time, Serves: 4-5


  • 2 20-ounce cans young green jackfruit in water (NOT in syrup or brine)
  • 1/4 cup BBQ seasoning (2 Tbsp brown sugar + 1 tsp paprika + 1 tsp garlic powder + 1/2 tsp salt + 1/2 tsp pepper + 1/2 tsp chili powder)
  • 3/4 cup BBQ sauce (ensure it’s vegan) + more for topping
AVOCADO SLAW (optional)
  • 2 cups shredded cabbage + carrots (Trader’s has a great cruciferous veg mix)
  • 1/2 ripe avocado
  • 1 Tbsp maple syrup (or sweetener of choice)
  • 1 lemon or lime, juiced
  • Salt + Pepper to taste
  • (water to thin)
  • 4-6 whole grain vegan buns (GF for gluten free eaters)
  • 1/2 cup roasted salted cashews (or roast on your own – see notes*)
  1. Rinse, drain and thoroughly dry jackfruit. Chop off the center “core” portion of the fruit and discard. Place in a mixing bowl and set aside.
  2. Mix together BBQ seasoning and add to jackfruit. Toss to coat.
  3. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add 1-2 Tbsp oil of choice and seasoned jackfruit. Toss to coat and cook for 2-3 minutes to achieve some color.
  4. Add BBQ sauce and thin with enough water to make a sauce. Stir and reduce heat to low- medium and cook for about 20 minutes (up to 35 minutes on low for a deeper flavor).
  5. Remove lid and stir occasionally. TIP: For finer texture, use two forks to shred the jackfruit as it cooks down.
  6. In the meantime, make slaw by adding all ingredients except vegetables (avocado through salt + pepper) to a small mixing bowl and whisk to combine. Thin with water until a thick sauce is made, then add veggies and toss to coat. Set in the refrigerator until serving.
  7. Once the jackfruit has been properly simmered, turn up heat to medium-high and cook for 2-3 more minutes to get a little extra color/texture (a tip I learned from Namely Marly!). Then remove from heat.
  8. Place generous portions of slaw on the bottom buns, top with generous serving of BBQ jackfruit, and cashews. Serve with extra BBQ sauce!
  9. Leftover jackfruit keeps for up to a couple days in the fridge, though best when fresh.


* Nutrition information is a rough estimate for 1 of 5 sandwiches with avocado slaw and roasted cashews.
* Loosely adapted from Blissful Basil.
* To roast your own cashews: Toss 1/2 cup cashews in a bit of oil and sea salt and spread on a baking sheet. Bake in a 350 degree F oven for 10-12 minutes, or until roasty, fragrant and slightly golden brown.

Nutrition Information: Serving size: 1 sandwich Calories: 431 Fat: 13.6g Saturated fat: 2.6g Carbohydrates: 65g Sugar: 17gSodium: 1000mg Fiber: 15.7g Protein: 11.5g

Cooking Light Jackfruit recipesA slide show with lots of fun recipes. I was surprised to see this recipe using jackfruit! 

Vegan ‘Chicken’ Noodle Soup  by  Serves 6

Everyone enjoys a steaming bowl of soup to warm up their body and spirits when they’re under the weather. Now vegans and vegetarians don’t have to miss out on this comfort. Our plant-based spin on chicken noodle features jackfruit, which perfectly mimics shredded chicken, and a combination of herbs that will hit you with a nostalgic taste. Feel free to substitute other pasta shapes (alphabet soup, anyone?) or other seasonal veggies you have on hand. 


  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 8 cups unsalted vegetable stock
  • 1 can jackfruit in brine, drained and shredded
  • 2 medium carrots, sliced
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 cups dried whole wheat rotini
  • 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest

How to Make It 

  1. In a large pot over medium-high heat, sauté the onions and garlic in olive oil. Cook until translucent and fragrant.
  2. Stir in the broth and the next 7 ingredients (through bay leaves). Simmer for 20 minutes.
  3. Add the rotini, cooking for about 8-10 minutes, or until the pasta is al dente. Stir in nutritional yeast and lemon zest just before serving.
Click on the recipe title for nutritional information.

These recipes use flavorings to turn jackfruit into fish, beef or pork! This site is fun because each recipe is linked to a new website. You get to make new friends 🙂  Vegan Food & Living.com: 16 mouth-watering vegan jackfruit recipes Recently, Jackfruit has become the go-to ingredient for compassionate cooks. Not only is it super tasty, incredibly versatile, it’s also an excellent source of B-vitamins and a great source of dietary fibre, and makes a fabulous substitute for meat in dishes that traditionally contain pulled-pork, crab, tuna etc. You name it, jackfruit can transform into it! So here’s 16 of the most ridiculously tasty vegan jackfruit recipes that will be loved by all. 

Let me know if you try this interesting fruit. I would love to share everyone’s opinions. Until next week…Mary 🙂

***Clarification from last weeks post. I wrote: “It takes 2-4 medium oranges to make one cup of juice; 5-8 teaspoons of sugar per cup. Cola has 5 teaspoons per 8 ounces.” Oranges come in many varieties. Juicing oranges vary in juiciness & sweetness. The sweeter the orange, the more sugar you get per cup/8 ounces. Thus, 8 ounces of orange juice could have more sugar than 8 ounces of cola.

Additional Informational Resources

New Vegan friends!

  • Namely Marly:  At Namely Marly, we love celebrating – life, family, and the little things that happen every day. We’re devoted to healthy living, vegan food, and days full of abundance.
  • Keepin’ It KindWelcome to Keepin’ it Kind! I’m Kristy- Animal Lover, Travel Fanatic, and Chickpea Devotee. Join my husband and me as we make the world a kinder place, one delicious vegan meal at a time…
  • Veganosity: Hi there, and welcome! We’re so happy you’re here. We created Veganosity for people who want to eat really good food that happens to be vegan….
  • Sweet Simple Vegan Hi! I’m Jasmine, the Sweet Simple Vegan. I am here to share recipes and lifestyle tips to inspire others to take charge of their health.
  • Thyme & LoveHola! I’m Jeni! I create healthy, delicious Vegan recipes that are often inspired by my love of Mexico. I live in Michigan with my Husband Hector and our Pug, Phoebe.
  • Blissful BasilPlant-passionate recipe creator, vegan cookbook author, psychologist, animal lover, and curiosity chaser. My name is Ashley, and I’m the writer and photographer behind Blissful Basil….
  • Vegan Richa: Hi, I’m Richa! I create flavorful plant based recipes that are inspired by my Indian upbringing, including many gluten-free, soy-free, and oil-free options….
  • Fettle Vegan: Welcome to Fettle Vegan, where I whip up and share healthy, creative plant-based recipes easy enough for the novice cook but flavorful enough for even the advanced chef to enjoy! Some of the recipes fall into the categories ‘gluten-free’, ‘raw’, and ‘low sugar’ as well, but every one of them is created with a healthy perspective in mind. 
  • Yup,..it’s vegan!  I’m Shannon, founder of Yup, it’s Vegan! I’m a morning person based in Baltimore, USA. I create healthy plant-based recipes that everyone will love, using seasonal produce and global inspiration.

May Nutrition Nuggets


Nutrition Nugget posts are my favorites to write. We are so over saturated with political news that we miss the articles about health & wellness. Many new studies of interest are published every day. I enjoy wading through them. May’s articles range from fruit juice, chocolate, alcohol consumption to aspirin & diets. There are two “I told you so” moments for me. 🙂 I will begin with them.

If you have been following my posts you know that I equate drinking fruit juice with drinking colas. Fruit juice is concentrated fructose with some vitamin & minerals, but sugar all the same. Even though this is a pediatric study, the information is for all ages.

NPR: Pediatricians Advise No Fruit Juice Until Kids Are 1  KATHERINE HOBSON  “We want to reinforce that the most recent evidence supports that fruit juice should be a limited part of the diet of children,” says Steven Abrams, a professor of pediatrics at Dell Medical School at the University of Texas at Austin, and an author of the guidelines, which were published Monday in Pediatrics.

Whole fruit is a much better way to get all the vitamins and nutrients of fruit, the guidelines say. Whole fruit contains fiber, which slows the absorption of sugar by the body, and it also makes you feel fuller than juice, which can prevent overeating. That is an important point…Whole fruit contains fiber, which slows the absorption of sugar by the body. Fruit juice does not have the fiber so it is absorbed quickly. It takes 2-4 medium oranges to make one cup of juice; 5-8 teaspoons of sugar per cup. Cola has 5 teaspoons per 8 ounces.

The article goes on to say…these new guidelines don’t apply to fruit drinks, which contain less than 100 percent juice and have added sweeteners. Those fall into the category of sugar-sweetened beverages, along with soda, sports drinks and energy drinks, and frequent consumption is associated with poor health outcomes, according to the CDC. An exception is that sports drinks may be useful for child or teen athletes who are exercising heavily, the AAP said in a 2011 clinical report. Sports drinks are not an option for cancer patients. Unless you are doing Zumba with Alessandra 🙂

Smoothies, too, fall into the “treat” category, says Abrams. As they should be if made with fruit juice. Smoothies can be made in your blender with a nut milk base, 10-20% whole fruit & 80% whole veggies along with other healthy ingredients. They should not be used as a substitute for a meal, except for breakfast. They are especially good for a pick-me-up in moderate amounts between meals. Check out my post in 2015 about Smoothies! 

My second “I told you so” moment~ In last weeks post I commented on the American Cancer Institutes recommendation for alcohol consumption: 

  • Drink alcohol in moderation, if at all. If you choose to drink alcohol, limit the amount of alcohol you drink to no more than one drink a day for women and two for men. I still have a difficult time with this recommendation to limit the amount of alcohol you drink to no more than one drink a day for women and two for men. It seems excessive to me. 

This article by CNN caught my eye: A drink a day tied to higher breast cancer risk, report says By Jacqueline Howard, Tue May 23, 2017 “Researchers have long known that having one too many cocktails might be associated with an increased risk of breast cancer.

Now, a new report from the World Cancer Research Fund and the American Institute for Cancer Research reveals just how much of a risk daily drinking might pose for both premenopausal and postmenopausal women. I think that pretty well covers ALL women!

Sipping an average of 10 grams of alcohol a day — equivalent to a small glass of wine, an 8-ounce beer or 1 ounce of hard liquor — is associated with a 5% increased breast cancer risk in premenopausal women and 9% increase in postmenopausal women, said Dr. Anne McTiernan, a lead author of the new report and a cancer prevention researcher at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle. This is not a risk I am willing to take. 

“I was most surprised by the alcohol result, that risk increases at just one drink a day, on average,” McTiernan said. “The increase with one drink a day was small … but the risk goes up from there. So that’s why AICR recommends no more than one alcohol drink a day for women to reduce risk for cancer.” Maybe I am wrong here, but doesn’t it stand to reason that the risk would also increase over time if you drink alcohol daily? 

From Medscape:  Just One Drink a Day Raises Breast Cancer Risk by Roxanne Nelson, BSN, RN, May 23, 2017  Commenting on the new finding, Susan K. Boolbol, MD, chief of the Division of Breast Surgery at Mount Sinai Beth Israel Hospital, New York, said, “We have known about the link between alcohol and breast cancer as several studies have shown the association. The issue with those studies is that we did not have an exact amount of alcohol that was known to increase your risk.”

“This report clearly states that 1 drink per day will increase your risk. That is major news,” Dr Boolbol said in a statement.

The conclusion is: “With this comprehensive and up-to-date report the evidence is clear,” said Dr McTiernan in a statement. “Having a physically active lifestyle, maintaining a healthy weight throughout life and limiting alcohol — these are all steps women can take to lower their risk.”

GNN, Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News:  Alcohol Increases Breast Cancer Risk in African-American Women  Due to racial bias among participants in many genetic studies, the risks of developing various diseases are less clear in ethnicities outside those with a Caucasian background. For instance, alcohol is an established risk factor for breast cancer—however, most studies have been conducted in predominantly white populations. Now, in a large study of African-American women, led by investigators at the University of North Carolina (UNC), researchers found that alcohol consumption was associated with an increased risk of breast cancer—indicating that African-American women, like white females, may benefit from limiting their alcohol intake. 

Conclusion: “Understanding the impact of these various risk factors could help narrow the disparity in breast cancer incidence and mortality,” Dr. Troester concluded.

This is also a reminder that when you see results of a research study, you should check to see who the participants were. If they don’t match your ethnicity, gender or age then the outcome may not apply to you. 

Headlines that include chocolate & coffee don’t get by me 🙂  CBS News: Chocolate linked to lower risk for heart condition AFib  By MARY BROPHY MARCUS, May 24, 2017, 9:18 AM  “Unfortunately, there are no effective, proven therapies for the primary prevention of AF,” experts from the Duke Center for Atrial Fibrillation at Duke University write in an accompanying editorial, so an easy, tasty way to reduce the risk would certainly be welcome. However, they sound a note of caution. 

“It is exciting to think about the potential for fun public health announcements, such as ‘Eat more chocolate and prevent AF!’ … However, is this message too good to be true?” they write. They say more research is needed and note a number of limitations in the Danish study group: the participants were almost exclusively white; socioeconomic levels, which may affect health status, were not tracked; and the chocolate consumers had lower levels of other risk factors including hypertension and diabetes. Didn’t I just talk about how important it is to know who was in the study? Yep, I think I did.

The study didn’t look at the type of chocolate consumed, but Mostofsky said the darker the chocolate, the more flavanols it contains, an antioxidant that may promote healthy blood vessel function.

“This is not carte blanche to eat large amounts of chocolate,” said Mostofsky. “Moderate amounts of dark chocolate as part of a healthy diet would be a good choice.” Darn! I am still waiting for the study that says all women 70+ should eat chocolate covered espresso beans all day long to improve their health. I can dream.

Low-dose aspirin linked to lower breast cancer risk, study says   Mon May 1, 2017   I recommend that you read the entire article. Here are a few excerpts. More potential good news for people who regularly take a low-dose aspirin: Women who took one had a lower risk of breast cancer, according to a study published in the journal Breast Cancer Research on Monday. Low dose generally means an 81 mg tablet. Aspirin is not the same as other over the counter NSAIDS like Ibuprofen.

The study used data from more than 57,000 women who were part of the California Teachers Study. In the 23% of women who reported using low-dose aspirin regularly, researchers saw a 20% reduction in the risk of developing HR-positive/HER2 negative breast cancer, some of the most common forms of the disease.

The risk was inversely associated with taking a low-dose aspirin three or more times a week, compared with those women who had no regular low-dose aspirin use. Larger doses did not show the same results.

Aspirin is an anti-inflammatory medication which may explain why it reduces the risk of many cancers. It is also an anti-coagulant, so not everyone can take even a low dose. Aspirin can also interact with other medications. Do not start taking it without consulting with your health care team. 

Last year, internationally, sales of gluten-free products rose 12.6%. This is a significant number. Scientists & nutritionists are interested in finding out why so many people are cutting gluten out of their diet & what benefit, if any, it gives them. This article is about whether there is a cardiac benefit from being gluten-free.  

A Gluten-Free Diet Could Do More Harm Than Good For People Without Coeliac Disease by DAVID NIELD, 5 MAY 2017  “So if you’re determined to go gluten-free, don’t expect a reduced risk of heart problems, and make sure you’re not reducing the whole grains in your diet at the same time.

“Based on our data, recommending a low-gluten diet solely for the promotion of heart health does not appear warranted,” says one of the researchers, Andrew Chan from the Harvard Medical School.

This isn’t the first study to question the benefits of going gluten-free for otherwise healthy people, and some experts say it has no benefits at all, despite popular perceptions.”

This study came to the conclusion that there is no benefit to the heart & may even increase the risk of heart disease. The problem is not limiting or cutting out the gluten, it is in cutting out or limiting whole grains in the diet. Whole grains are important to heart health. 

Another important point that they brought up is that the improvement people perceive in their health may not be due to the gluten-free diet. It may simply be that they are making an effort to clean up their diet. As I have said many times before: I still believe that the success of any diet is not what you are eating on the diet but what you gave up to be on the diet :). Chips, cokes, burgers with fries 🙂

It’s fair to say that we’ve still got plenty to learn about how gluten affects the body, and the knock-on effects that a gluten-free diet might have, whatever your opinion on the debate.

Lebwohl and his team now want to look at gluten intake measured against cancer and autoimmune disease, among other health problems, to get more answers.

“Despite the relatively low prevalence of coeliac disease and non-coeliac gluten sensitivity, surveys suggest that about one-third of Americans are trying to cut down on gluten,” says Lebwohl.

“This certainly benefits companies that sell gluten-free products. But does it benefit the public? That is the question we wanted to answer.”

The research has been published in the British Medical Journal.

Have you tried the “new” alternate -day fasting idea for losing weight? It is tough to stick to isn’t it 🙂 NPR reported on a new study: Fasting Studies Clash With Our Desire To Eat What We Want, When We Want It by REBECCA HERSHER, 

The study published Monday in JAMA Internal Medicine did not set out to investigate the hardships of abstaining from food. The main question was: Is alternate-day fasting more effective for weight loss and weight maintenance compared with daily calorie restriction?

The answer to that question appears to be “No.” The study of 100 people over the course of one year suggests that fasting every other day is no better than restricting calorie intake every day for people trying to lose weight or keep it off.

But the researchers also found that people do not change their eating habits easily. About a third of the study participants who were asked to fast didn’t follow the study requirements and ended up dropping out.

The researchers noted that any study about dietary changes is notoriously difficult because people don’t want to change. They drop out of the studies. It was also noted that studies on fasting of any kind are small; very few participants. Because they are such small samples the results are not conclusive. This study involved only 100 people.