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Archive for August, 2012

Coco for Coconuts!

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Talk to me for 5 minutes and you’ll learn how much i love and respect coconut oil. Like everything, some people can’t tolerate it, but for the majority of people, it’s an amazingly medicinal food.

Yes. It’s a saturated fat. No, I’m not trying to kill you. 🙂 Contrary to the mainstream message, saturated fats are not deadly, rather they’re much much healthier than polyunsaturated vegetable oils. Let’s talk more about that some time!

In the meantime, check this out:

Coconut oil can help you release weight, especially abdominal fat (“central obesity” is the most dangerous kind):

  • The fats in coconut oil are shorter than vegetable oils (called medium-chain triglycerides) so they contain fewer calories.
  • But, calories don’t matter much because they’re primarily used for energy, only minimally stored as fat deposits.
  • Promote fat burning. Fats in coconut oil are instantly metabolized to provide energy like carbohydrates, yet they don’t spike blood sugar.
  • Fat in coconut oil suppresses appetite by balancing blood sugar.
  • Aim for 3-5 tablespoons of coconut oil per day, but start slow lest you turn your bowels into a waterslide (your body needs to adjust to this increased fat intake).

Coconut oil is antimicrobial (kills bacteria, viruses and other pathogens)

  • A tablespoon of coconut oil can help shorten/prevent the common cold or flu.
  • Nursing mothers should eat coconut oil to boost levels of lauric acid in their milk. This will help strengthen baby’s immune system. Breast milk naturally contains lauric acid, in fact it’s the only other natural source of the fatty acid in nature! No wonder a coconut shell can so easily be converted into a bikini top.

Coconut oil is really easy to digest

  • People with digestive difficulty can usually absorb coconut with ease because its fat molecules are so short that they can be absorbed through the stomach and very top of the small intestine.

Coconut oil can help mitigate cravings, and even lessen addiction

  • When you’re craving a sweet, take a spoonful of coconut oil instead and wait a few minutes. The blood sugar balancing effects of coconut oil may help dull or eliminate that craving.
  • If you suffer from mild addiction, you might try downing a shot of coconut oil when the urge for a cigarette or a drink strikes you. Some people report that it helps.

It’s best to use virgin organic coconut oil. But, since it will taste like coconut, you may choose to use minimally refined coconut oil when you’re making a batch of sautĂ©ed broccoli. Be sure to get the most gently processed oil possible, because excessive processing will remove many of the healthful properties.

Cooking with coconut oil is a great idea, but you can also just eat it from the spoon. Or, since it melts at very low temperatures, put it in a shot glass with warm water and shoot it back like it’s your 21st birthday.

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UPDATE on 9/3/2012:

MORE from this very well-referenced source!: http://www.greenmedinfo.com/blog/13-evidence-based-medicinal-properties-coconut-oil:

  • Fat-burning: accelerates the loss of midsection fat. Two solid, human studies show that 2 tablespoons of coconut oil per day (30 ml), in both men and women, can reduce belly fat within 1-3 months!
  • Brain-Boosting: measurable cognitive improvement in those with less severe cognitive dysfunction from Alzheimer’s.
  • Clearing Head Lice: Coconut oil combined with anise spray!
  • Healing Wounds: Coconut oil can “accelerate re-epithelialization, improve antioxidant enzyme activity, and stimulate higher collagen cross-linking within the tissue being repaired.”
  • NSAID Alternative: has anti-inflammatory, analgesic and fever-reducing properties.
  • Anti-Ulcer Activity: Coconut milk as effective as the conventional drug sucralfate
  • Anti-Fungal: “In 2004, 52 isolates of Candida species were exposed to coconut oil. The most notorious form, Candida albicans, was found to have the highest susceptibility.”
  • Hormone-regulating: Ex. reduce oxidative stress in the testes of rats, resulting in significantly higher levels of testosterone. Production of other hormones will certainly react well to lower inflammation.
  • Reducing Swollen Prostate: (in rats)
  • Improving Blood Lipids: Improves LDL:HDL ratio!
  • Fat-Soluble Nutrient Absorption: Enhances absorption of carotenoids in tomatoes
  • Bone Health: Coconut oil has been shown to reduce oxidative stress within the bone
  • Sunscreen: Can block out UV rays by 30% (but remember moderate UVB exposure is necessary for vitamin D production)

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Source: http://www.ewg.org/goodfood/

The Environmental Working Group swoops in to help us again! This time with a free guide to ensure you’re eating good food… and doing it on the cheap!

In their words: “Stretching your dollars to get a month’s worth of healthy, filling food is a challenge. EWG assessed nearly 1,200 foods and hand-picked the best 100 or so that pack in nutrients at a good price, with the fewest pesticides, contaminants and artificial ingredients.”

Please, though, disregard their advice on fats and oils. The polyunsaturated oils they recommend are actually the least healthy. Both because of the damage done to the delicate oils during processing and the high amounts of omega 6 fatty acids, these oils are not the best choices.

“Damaged oil” is another way of saying “rancid oil.” Manufacturers cover the rancidity up with deodorants and bleaches. Both damaged oils and too much omega 6 causes inflammation. Inflammation is the cause of 70% of chronic disease (according to the CDC).

Best to go with butter, ghee (clarified butter), coconut oil and/or fat reserved from cooking beef. Olive oil is fantastic but shouldn’t be used for cooking- the heat damages the oil. Organic sesame oil is a good choice because its omega 6 fats are packaged along with high levels of antioxidants. 

This may seem like revolutionary advice that conflicts with what everyone else is saying… but BuzzNutrition delivers the most cutting-edge advice to keep you healthy. An Oil Change may be just what your pantry needs! And this is a place where spending a bit more money is well worth it. 🙂

Some highlights of the EWG guide (with my nutritional recommendations in italics):

  • Freeze raw, full-fat cheese that starts going bad. Defrosted cheese tastes best melted. Don’t buy shredded cheese — shred it yourself.
  • Substitute full-fat yogurt for cream and sour cream in recipes. Drain yogurt in a coffee filter to thicken. To cut cost and packaging waste, buy in large containers and measure out small servings.
  • Cut and freeze fresh fruit when it’s on sale or overripe. Use later in smoothies, oatmeal, or yogurt. To eliminate clumping, lay pieces on a tray in the freezer or freeze pureed fruit in ice-cube trays. When frozen, transfer to a bag.
  • Don’t be fooled. Read the label. Make sure the word “whole” is in the very first ingredient listed. “Multigrain” or “wheat” isn’t enough. Just because it looks brown doesn’t mean it’s whole grain. Better yet, get sprouted wheat bread (Ezikiel’s or alvaradostreetbakery.com). Buy when it’s on sale and store in the freezer. Better yet, avoid bread altogether, as wheat is very hard for most people to digest and refined gluten-free grains are also tough on the Food Tube.
  • Buy in bulk and stock up during sales. Make your own oatmeal. Packets cost more and are often loaded with salt and sugar. Buy brown rice in bulk and mix with white rice if needed to lower cost.
  • Add nuts to oatmeal, cereal, salads and stir-fries for a healthy, hearty meal. Raw nuts are often cheaper. Roast them for a delicious snack. Nuts stay fresh longer in the freezer.
  • Whole or cut-up bone-in chicken can be a money saver. Bake extra and use all week. Buy family-size packs on sale and freeze. Plus, when you cook meat along with the bones and fat, you boost the nutritional value 5 million-fold!
  • Soak and cook dried beans to save money. Canned beans save time, but rinse them before using and be sure to use BPA-free cans (see my blog post on BPA).
  • Vegetables about to go bad? Freeze them or make soup.
  • Stock up on long-lasting vegetables and store them in a cool, dry place. Potatoes, carrots, pumpkin, calabaza, and sweet potatoes taste great for several weeks after you buy them. Frozen vegetables and cabbage keep well, too.
  • Remember to disregard the advice on oils and contact me for more info.

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Source: news.cnet.com/8301-11386_3-57493377-76/3d-printed-meat-its-whats-for-dinner/?tag=nl.e703

Is this the future?: 

  • Teenager arrives home via hovercraft after intense football practice- she doesn’t run as much as goalie, but she’s still exhausted.
  • As she takes off her oxygen mask, her stomach rumbles with hunger.
  • She is happy to hear the zipping sound of the kitchen printer, because that means a big piece of schmeat is being constructed for dinner! From the smell of the protein ink, Dad downloaded that yummy Thai marinade tonight!
  • After her synthetic steak, she’ll be off to do her homework by telepathically moving her pencil across paper from across the room.

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If you’re a Star Trek fan, you’re surely familiar with the concept of food made at the push of a button. In “fact”, on Thanksgiving 2266, James T. Kirk requested that the chef make their synthetic meatloaf in the shape of a turkey. The U.S.S. Enterprise used a Protein Resequencer… we may soon be using a 3-D printer!

A company called Modern Meadow just scored $350,000 to adapt technology originally developed for the healthcare industry. (Website is empty of info, but here’s their proposal to USDA.)

Originally meant to create medical-grade tissues (such as jaw bones), this technology has also made custom running shoes and portions of a .22-caliber pistol… why not add a juicy T-bone to that list?

The arguments are that this will provide a more sustainable and ethical source of protein for our growing population. It would indeed take the burden off the environment and prevent the horrific treatment of animals that goes on in commercial feedlot farms…

However, it’s likely impossible to exactly replicate meat in its healthiest of forms: pasture-fed and compassionately raised and slaughtered. Its benefits are not from protein alone- properly fed meat also offers a full spectrum of fatty acids, essential fat-soluble vitamins and a host of minerals.

Moreover, when done correctly, farming is a boon to the environment! Specifically, this means small sustainable farms that do not use chemicals or GMO seeds and that do not deplete the soil with monocrops. A great example is Polyface Farms, right here in Swoope, VA. In fact, Virginia is full of great sustainable farms!

Much more to be said on this, but I need to go and make myself lunch… I’m having a steak. It came from a well-treated cow that ate grass. And I’m cooking it by heating a frying pan, not by pushing a button.

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Inspired by: http://www.yurielkaim.com/850/self-talk/

As you’re striving for more robust health, trying to recover from an illness, endeavoring to release weight or trying your best to reach your full potential as a human, you’re gonna get discouraged, mess up or want to stop. That’s the point. You’re stretching and growing, which involves rewiring your brainz.

Mistakes and setbacks are opportunities to take a look at what’s not working, where you might need to adjust your approach and that you might need help from a friend. So, in a sense, they’re good and things to be appreciated!

But unfortunately, mistakes and setbacks are often strictly challenged by the voice inside your head.

Your inner voice can be very loud, very mean, very convincing… and very wrong! Would you hang out with you if you said the things you said to you? 🙂 In other words, speak to yourself as you would to a friend.

Your inner voice can really hurt you since it’s somewhat subliminal. Moderating your inner critic can help lower stress and motivate you to continue striving towards your goals in the most positive way. As a bonus, it can also help you be more compassionate and forgiving of others. You might even see that there’s luck in some mistakes!

When your “inner voice” says these mean things, it’s often because you’ve bumped an emotional bruise. Ouch.

An emotional bruise is just like a regular bruise except instead of on your physical body, it’s on your emotional body. It’s a place where a bit of sadness, hurt or shame from a past event is stored. When memories of these feelings are stirred up, your inner self’s reaction is like a child’s: “Hey, leave that alone! Don’t look in there! Go away! Stop it!”

We all have emotional bruises. They’re inevitable. But you have the capacity to take control back from their knee-jerk, primal reactions… One way is to use your inner voice to describe things in a positive nurturing way. Give it a try because… wait, what did you say? “I’m so worth it?” Yup. You’re right!

These are the 5 things not to say to yourself:

  1. “I’m so stupid.”
  2. “I can’t do it”
  3. “I’m too _ (fat/skinny/ugly/dumb/awkward)
  4. “I’m a jerk.”
  5. “This always happens to me- it’s just how my life works.”

Let’s look at each in more detail:

1) “I’m so stupid.”

Wait. Are YOU stupid, or is it the thing you just did that’s stupid?

Did doing that thing cause your brain to spontaneously revert into a Neanderthal’s brain? Did your knuckles just get hairy and scraped up from dragging on the ground? I doubt it.

You’re smart- smart enough to recognize what you did wasn’t the ideal choice and smart enough to ponder what to do next time instead.

That thing you did was just an event that happened in a moment of time. It’s not a statement about who you are as a person. (Unless you hurt someone on purpose in which case, stupid’s the least of your worries.) You and the thing-you-did are not the same.

What to say instead?: “What I did was stupid but that’s not who I am.” (And, if necessary, “I’m sorry I threw your cell phone in a lake.”)

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2) “I can’t do it.”

You’re always changing. There are things you certainly thought you never could achieve that you do with ease today (like read!)

You can potentially do it. I mean, you can’t fly without surrounding yourself with an airplane and you can’t learn Russian in 7 minutes and you can’t get a lunch date with Johnny Depp for next Saturday (…wait- can you? can i come?)

Think of the people you most admire- they likely earned your admiration because of a hurdle they overcame or a super-human feat they achieved. They’re just humans like you… but they probably see hurdles differently: instead of 25-foot walls, they probably see mere speed bumps.

What to say instead?: “It’s likely that I can do this- I’m gonna at least try.”

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3) “I’m too fat/skinny/ugly/dumb/awkward.”

A lot of our perceptions of ourselves are built on how society and the media say we should look/act. They discount that the truest happiness, the stuff that bubbles up from deep inside us into a huge grin, comes from being ourselves. And unless we live inside the Stepford Wives movie, or in BarbieWorld, they’re wrong. I mean, they don’t really care… they just want our cash money. Forget them and give yourself permission to be yourself!

Now. Say there’s something about you that is holding you back from being your best self- say you’ve got some weight to release, or you’re not excelling the way you want to be… go ahead and challenge yourself to change. But please do it with compassion and love… use your inner voice to support yourself like you would support a close friend.

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4) “I’m a jerk.”

You’re not a jerk. You probably just bumped an emotional bruise, felt some hurt/shame/anger that originated long ago and reacted in a mean way. It’s okay. You can either apologize to the person you were jerky to or just try again next time!

The most basic primal instinct your body has is to defend itself. Whether it’s a cougar or a hurtful memory, your body wants to keep things exactly the same. It thinks that this strategy is both safer and easier… but is it either? In the short term, maybe. But in the long term, it’s better to say:

What to say instead?: “I’m not a jerk… I just had a knee-jerk reaction because that thing that happened hurt/made me feel shame/made me angry. I think I’ll do it differently next time.”

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5) “This always happens to me- it’s just how my life works.”

If negative things always happen to you, stop inviting them into your life. The more you convince yourself that bad things happen to you, the more you anticipate terrible things to happen. And they will happen more often because of it… you’re subconsciously paving the way for more frustration to come your way. It’s what they call it self-sabotage.

If good things happen, who do you “blame”? Do you take credit for achievements? Then how can you not take some credit for the bad things? External factors are involved, like bad luck and randomness, but good luck and fortuitous coincidences are there too.

A victim succumbs to the whims of the external environment. But it takes a leader to create what s/he wants in life. Not everything will work out but if you partner with your inner voice to focus on the positive, the “bad” things will slide off you like water from a duck and become much less significant.

I put “bad” in quotes because things that seem bad in the moment often add up to good fortune in the big picture. Plus, “bad” things are just opportunities to see how our approach is not working and what we need to do to shift so life gets awesome again.

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What to do?

  1. Talk back to yourself like a gentle Grandma. “You’re wrong.” “NO, that’s not true.” “Be quiet, dear, I’m doing the best I can.”
  2. Imagine you’re talking to a friend who just did what you did. What would you say to them?
  3. Pay as much attention to all the positive, marvelous things you do as the little mistakes/setbacks.
  4. Say we’re in a boat on the river of life… instead of putting up a sail and forcing the direction, drop the sail, chuck the oars and let the current take you.

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Do you want it? Well, these dairies got it!!!

Just as raw milk is better for baby calves, it’s better for all-growned-up humans. There are so many “why’s” but i’ll just leave it at this: we’d been drinking fresh milk for centuries without problems and then all of a sudden decided to pasteurize… not necessary and also not as safe as you may think… and definitely not as healthy.

It’s illegal to buy raw milk in many states, including Virginia, but it’s NOT illegal to own a cow and drink your own raw milk!
At these 2 dairies, you can buy a share in a cow + a monthly fee for them to cover the milking of your cow and storage/delivery of your healthy and delicious raw milk!
1) silkycowmilk.com/raw-milk

  • Full share = one-time fee of $50 + $28/month for about 1 gallon of milk per week
  • Half share = one-time fee of $25 + $14/month for about 1/2 gallon of milk per week
  • Optional $6/month for delivery to nearby farm (see website for delivery sites)

2) www.creambrookfarm.com/thedairy/

  • Full share = one-time fee of $80 + $36/month for about 1 gallon of milk per week
  • Half share = one-time fee of $40 + $18/month for about 1/2 gallon of milk per week
  • Milk is delivered to your door (if you’re local)
  • Cows make milk from March through Christmas Eve

Want more info about Raw Milk?

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Adapted from: http://www.sugarfreemom.com/recipes/garlic-parmesean-roasted-chickpea-snack-recipe/, http://www.sugarfreemom.com/recipes/crispy-sweet-nut-free-garbanzo-bean-snack-recipe/

1) Prep the beans:

  • Using dried beans:
    • Soak beans overnight in cool water (on counter covered with dish towel).
    • Rinse, pat dry with the dish towel.
  • Using canned beans:
    • Thoroughly rinse beans.
    • Lay them on a paper towel to dry for about half an hour.

2) Flavor & cook the beans:

  • Mix up flavoring ingredients in a bowl.
    • For 2 cans/1 cup dried beans
    • 1/2 cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese + 1 teaspoon minced garlic + 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil + 1/2 teaspoon salt + pepper to taste
    • 1 tablespoon coconut oil + 1 teaspoon cinnamon + 2 teaspoons brown sugar + 1 teaspoons salt (when out of the oven, toss with a tad more sweetener and salt)
    • Cajun seasoning (if premixed, look out for monosodium glutamate (MSG)).
  • Throw beans into the bowl and coat with delicious flavor.
  • Toss beans on a cookie sheet.
  • Bake at 400 degrees for 45-60 minutes. Stir around every once in a while to prevent burning.
  • Alternatively, use a dehydrator.
  • Notes: will soften and lose crispness after 2-3 days.
  • Some will burn… just the way it goes. Be sure to toss them around while baking. Use a baking stone to ensure more even heat distribution.

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BPA (aka. bisphenol A) is a type of plastic that’s used to line most cans that contain food. Sounds innocuous enough, right? It’s just plasic.

But it’s also one of many “endocrine disruptors” found in the food supply (can lining, bottle lid lining- even on shiny store receipts!) And, it’s a non-human estrogen lookalike (called “xenoestrogen”). Does all that make you raise an eyebrow and want to know more? Smart of you.

“Endocrine disruptors” block hormonal communication in your body… It’s a lot like this:

  • Say your body has its own radio station, Healthy 101.8. When you feel good and strong, the station is blaring loud, clear, invigorating, always playing your favorite songs.
  • Then something comes along and twists the tuning knob ever so slightly… The station is still sending its fantastically healthy signals, but your radio can’t receive its signal. So, now you hear your favorite songs but interrupted by tinges of static.
  • Then that thing comes along again and twists it a bit further away from your healthy station… now you hear static and a different station nips in every once in a while. Sounds like the strength of the station itself is faltering and letting some other tunes leak through.
  • Over and over again, this thing twists your tuning knob and eventually the station changes completely… and it’s playing YANNI! AHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The horror!!!!!

That is what BPA & other endocrine disruptors do to you. Please try to avoid them, okay? Especially when you’re feeding the foods to a youngster (ESPECIALLY if you can’t breast feed and are using a formula!) Best that growing happens with no disruption of endocrines, or anything else, right? PS. Little boys and girls make their own estrogen to direct development… xenoestrogens can really confuse this delicate, newly-laid wiring.

Here’s how to avoid BPA for starters (if you have any concerns, always confirm with the manufacturer!):

  1. Choose fresh produce! Duh. But, I know- sometimes there’s just no time or the dish you’re craving has ingredients that are out of season.
  2. Choose dried beans. Soak them overnight and cook in a slow cooker.
  3. Choose products in glass jars (lids may be lined with BPA, but at least it’s just the lid).
  4. Eden organic beans (all of them, including chili, rice & beans, etc.).
  5. Trader Joe’s canned corn, beans, meat products, canned fruits and vegetables (including tomatoes, and organic pumpkin, but NOT mandarins, hatch chilies, artichokes, organic baked beans) and lite coconut milk.  All canned soups and stews are still in BPA-lined cans.
  6. Vital Choice Seafood (salmon, albacore tuna, sardines and mackerel;  they test for all endocrine disruptors, not just BPA)
  7. Muir Glen tomatoes
  8. Bionaturae Tomato Paste and Strained Tomatoes (the products packaged in glass jars only; lids are lined with a BPA-free epoxy)
  9. Aseptic packaging (like Tetra Pak cartons/bricks).
  10. Oregon’s Choice (6oz lightly salted albacore and the company is working toward going BPA-free with their crab and shrimp too)
  11. Wild Planet (5oz skipjack tuna and its 5oz albacore tuna)
  12. Native Forest/Native Factor
  13. Crown Prince (see full list here)
  14. Edward & Sons brand Native Forest Fruit & Vegetables
  15. Hunt’s Tomatoes (plain tomatoes only)
  16. Nature’s One Organic powdered baby formula
  17. Aroy-D Coconut Milk and Cream
  18. Don’t drink canned soda (or any soda, really- the sugar and artificial sweetners wreak havoc). Better to drink something sweetened with stevia or fizzy mineral water flavored with mint, ginger or cucumber!

BPA-Free Canned Foods (source: http://guide.thesoftlanding.com/bpa-free-canned-food-options/)

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