Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Gluten-Free Ancient Grain Pumpkin Bread











“It looked like the world was covered in a cobbler crust of brown sugar and cinnamon.” 
― Sarah Addison AllenFirst Frost
I love pumpkin, and if you haven't had much experience with it...well, 'tis the season. You know, It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, and all that. People joke about everything being pumpkin spiced this time of year. If you are like me and you love pumpkin, you should be encouraged to know it is a true superfood.

But if you don't like pumpkin, this pumpkin bread recipe doesn't have to include pumpkin. It can be made using apples or carrots or even butternut squash instead of pumpkin. A combination of apples and butternut squash is your healthiest replacement for pumpkin. Butternut squash is so filled with fiber and nutrients and I have not yet found a way to incorporate it into a dish I like. But what's not to like about a Butternut Apple Loaf. It's fall and 'tis the season for winter squashes, root vegetables and apple picking, so improvise.


This recipe is super-nutritious, packed with sprouted ancient grains and seeds, healthy fats, healthy sweeteners.


Healthy sweeteners? Yes, I use two of them in this recipe. The most healthy one is blackstrap molasses. Read my post on organic blackstrap molasses. It is a superfood in its own right. It's a tremendous source of magnesium and calcium and in the right ratio. My second sweetener is basically sugar, but it's a much healthier sugar than the white granular stuff you buy at the store. Sucanat looks like brown sugar but it is evaporated organic whole cane juice, filled with nutrients. It's basically what sugar is before all the processing. It's not as sweet as sugar though, but you can puree organic raisins, dates, figs or prunes to add sweetener


Keep in mind most recipes call for 2-3 cups of sugar to 3 cups of flour in a pumpkin bread recipe, but mine only uses 1 cup of succanat and 6 tbsp of the blackstrap molasses. I put twice (or more) the cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg in my recipe, and spices make it satisfying to me in spite of the mild sweet taste. But by adding pureed fruits to taste, you can make it sweet to taste and you'll be adding whole food and fiber to your pumpkin bread/muffins instead of empty sugar calories.


All of the grains and seeds used in this recipe are sprouted and organic. You can sprout them yourself or buy them already sprouted. Email me at theagelesslife@gmail.com and I'll send you links for purchasing organic sprouted nuts and flours.


Gluten-Free Ancient Grain Pumpkin Bread


Wet Bowl 

Soak your flax seeds overnight before using (or a minimum of four hours), then add the rest of your wet ingredients and blend it all together with an immersion blender:

1/3 cup fresh ground soaked whole organic flaxseeds
6 tbsp organic blackstrap molasses

6 figs (or prunes or dates) or three mini-boxes of organic raisins (remember this will be pureed)
1/4 cup grass-fed butter

 *vegans can double up on the coconut oil and leave the butter out or replace butter with avocado oil for savory flavor
1/4 cup extra-virgin coconut oil

2 tbsp fresh grated ginger
1 1/4 cup organic evaporated cane juice (aka sucanat)
 *sucanat is dry but you want to blend it into your wet ingredients before folding in your other dry ingredients
3 pastured or organic eggs

 *some recipes call for 4 eggs, but soaked flaxseeds are an egg substitute, so use 3 or 2 or 1 or if you are vegan none, your preference, just be sure to add 2 tbsp of soaked flaxseed for every egg you omit
2 tsp vanilla
15-18 oz mashed cooked pumpkin or canned organic pumpkin puree (can substitute with two cans of mashed carrots, two cups of mashed cooked butternut squash, mashed fresh-cooked carrots or mashed cooked apples)

Dry Bowl 

Combine all of these ingredients together in one "dry" bowl and sift and mix well:

3.25 cups organic gluten-free ancient grain flour mix

 *see mix below
1 1/2 tsp Bob's Red Mill baking soda (the brand makes a difference)
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp sea salt
2 tsp fresh ground cloves
6 tsp ceylon cinnamon
2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 cup chopped organic sprouted walnuts


You can mix and match sprouted gluten-free flours however you like but this is how I make my "Organic gluten-free ancient grain flour mix" and it gives me an amazing mix of proteins and nutrients in a simple morning muffin--and it turns out perfect every time:


1/4 cup sprouted buckwheat flour

1/4 cup sprouted amaranth flour
1/4 cup sprouted quinoa flour
1/4 cup potato starch (or arrowroot)
1/2 cup sprouted sorghum flour
1/4 cup sprouted brown rice flour
1/2 cup sprouted oat flour
3/4 cup tapioca flour
3 tbsp ground psyllium husks

All my sprouted flours are organic. Email me for my latest "best source" for these organic, sprouted flours.



Gradually pour dry ingredients into wet bowl until mixed well. Pour into two loaf pans and bake for 40-50 minutes until toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool for one hour before slicing.

Also, you don't have to pour it into two traditional loaf pans... You can make three thin cake layers using cake pans and drizzle the healthy icing (below) on top and in between to make a three-layer "cake." Or you can pour it into a bundt pan and drizzle the icing on top and slice. Or make muffins.

Remember, all the varieties have different cooking times. The thin cake may take only 20 minutes, muffins may take 25-40, depending on how big you make them, and the bundt pan will take 40 minutes to cook a pumpkin bread.


I like pumpkin loaf to eat that night and pumpkin muffins to eat the next few days (and freeze) and this recipe makes 1 pumpkin loaf and 12 small-medium muffins.


Remember, overcooking your muffins can make them too dry and hard the next day, too many eggs can make them rubbery, and overmixing or leaving out the baking powder can make them lose their fluffiness. You don't want pumpkin rocks, you want pumpkin muffins.


My pumpkin bread and muffins are truly not very sweet, but when I bring some to my daughter who insists on super sweet pumpkin bread, instead of adding sweetener, I prefer to make a healthy icing with organic cream cheese slowly melted in a pan with virgin coconut oil, then mixed with organic raw honey after allowing it to cool some (you don't want to overheat raw honey and lose its benefits). The coconut oil and cream cheese both will stiffen as they cool and become harder to mix, so don't wait too long to add in the honey, but it will give you a stiffer icing without having to use powdered sugar or cornstarch. If you slather it onto the top of your warm pumpkin loaf, it will slightly melt into the loaf and then stiffen back up as the loaf cools.




Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Popeye was wrong!!!


Yes, greens are great for you, but I'm sorry, spinach is not. What I don't understand is why it is one of the most highly-promoted of greens when it's practically the most problematic green you can eat.

I'll tell you why in my next post which will be entitled "Bad greens, good greens, good grief..."

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Chocolate parfait, anyone?


I know I'm always talking about  chocolate, but did I tell you the latest thing? I found out it can reverse the build up of plaque in your arteries. No lie.

Here's a way to get your healthy unsweetened cocoa, along with a few other superfoods, in a healthy chia pudding:

You can eat your superhealthy chocolate pudding by itself, or make a superfood parfait like the one pictured above. Make a whipped cream from a can of coconut milk (see this blog post describing how to do it: http://www.thekitchn.com/how-to-make-whipped-cream-from-152490). Or you can mix bananas and coconut milk and blend them together to replace the whipped cream. Add your favorite fruits and nuts. Voila!

Do NOT use milk or real cream or yogurt. Did you know that if you eat your chocolate with any type of dairy, it will negate most of the health benefits of chocolate. That's why milk chocolate is NOT good for you.

Note: I customized this chocolate pudding recipe from a recipe in Wellness Mama's blog, and you should check it out if you need a primer on why chia seeds are good for you: http://wellnessmama.com/4981/benefits-of-chia-seeds/

Superfood Meltdown Chocolate Chia Pudding

Ingredients

2 cups of coconut milk or rice milk

1/2 cup chia seeds

4-6 tablespoons cocoa powder (I like organic raw cacoa)

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 tablespoon or more sweetener of choice (I like organic succanat)

Mix all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Place in a covered bowl in your refrigerator and it should thicken after roughly 15 minutes (although I like to make it before bed and leave it overnight to eat the next day).

On the subject of Fall superfoods...






Turnips?? Really?? Yeah, turnips. They're one of the little known superfoods--in fact, Dr. Mercola includes them in his list of Fall superfoods.

Like my okra dish, this low-cal, high-fiber, super-nutritious meal is one of my go-to meals when I am afraid I'm going to binge, and I need to fill myself up on something that is good for me and hits my satiety quotient. This dish will leave you so satisfied, you won't be able to eat anything else--and it's so good for you, you could probably eat as much of it as you want.

One bowl of this stuff will give you over 60% of your RDA of Vitamin C and over 90% of your Niacin RDA, plus a host of other vitamins, minerals and fiber.

Now, don't throw away the turnips greens atop this nutritious root, because they are even more nutritious. Read my earlier post: Thank God for good directions and turnip greens...

Now, in the recipe below, you can omit the chicken if you like and it's just as delicious. Really. This is one of the meals on my Vegetarian (Sort Of) list. It's a way to make a meal out of vegetables. You can eat it by the bowl, alone, or on a plate over rice.

You can also pick up a rutabaga or two to replace some of the turnips, and it will give it an even sweeter flavor, and add a different (but similar) breakdown of nutrients. Both are cruciferous vegetables in the brassica family. My dish photographed is not exactly the recipe below since I replaced one turnip with a rutabaga. You don't have to peel the turnips, but since rutabagas are waxed, you definitely want to peel them.

We all know cruciferous vegetables, especially those in the brassica family, are super-good for us, but among all those commonly-eaten mega-health veggies, Dr. Mercola points to research that shows turnips have the highest level of glucosinolates, which are "sulfur-containing compounds found in turnip sprouts, may also have anti-cancer, anti-fungal, anti-parasitic, and antibacterial benefits. According to the November 2012 issue of the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, turnip has the second highest level of glucosinates (next to white mustard sprouts) among nine different cruciferous vegetables studied."

Both turnips and rutabagas made Dr. Mercola's list of fall superfoods:
http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2014/10/27/15-best-fall-superfoods.aspx


Superfood Meltdown Buttery Cajun Chicken &Turnips

This is the kind of everyday dish Cajun grandmothers cook at home on a weekday. It never makes it onto the cooking shows or cookbooks. But they don't know what they're missing. If you've never had turnips, they turn kind of sweet when you cook them, especially cooked with onions. This dish has a lovely sweet-savory blend of flavors. If you can't stomach the idea of turnips, try replacing the turnips with sliced carrots or chopped cabbage. All three ways, it works. Grandma used whatever was available from the garden. C'est bon!

Ingredients

Turnips, 3 cup, peeled and cubed
Onions, raw, 2 cup, choppedScallions, raw, .5 cup, chopped
Chicken Breast (cooked), no skin, 2 breast, bone and skin removed (ideally organic)
Grass-Fed Butter salted, 1 pat (1" sq, 1/3" high)
Tony Chachere Cajun Seasoning: you can find it in most national grocery store chains and it makes this dish. It has more pepper than salt in it. If it's not salty enough for you but it is peppery enough, you may need to add salt instead of adding more Tony's. (And of course, if you can't find Tony Chachere, just salt and pepper to taste)

    Directions

    Season chicken breasts with Tony's and cut into bite size pieces, and sautee in saucepan with pat of butter. While chicken is browning, chop turnips, onions and scallions. When chicken is browned, add onions and bring them almost to the point of carmelization before adding turnips and 1/2 cup water (or chicken stock/broth). Season mixture with more Tony's, cover and allow to simmer. Add water or chicken stock as necessary to keep mixture moist and simmering but not soupy. When turnips are tender, taste to see if you need more salt or more Tony's. Stir in chopped scallions and turn off heat. Dish can be served over rice (I like it with brown basmati rice), but if you're watching your carbs, just ladle it into a bowl and dig in.

    Serving Size: 3 hearty bowls, eat 1 freeze 2 (or share with others)

    Below is what it looked like raw, when I was just getting started, and the photo above is when it was done and about to be served. And yes, I ate the whole plate. That looks like a serving platter, but it was actually turnips-and-chicken-for-one. And for way less calories than one single child's hamburger (no cheese) at McDonald's. I was stuffed and filled with nutrients and this meal didn't make me fat or unhealthy.


Friday, October 14, 2016

Food Porn and Going Vegetarian (sort of)

While I'm fasting and can't eat, all I can think about is food. Late at night, I can spend 20 minutes just gazing at images of my favorite dishes on Google. I am SUCH a food addict. God help me.

Look at these pictures I've been salivating over. And these are the healthier ones. Some are just too binge-inspiring to share on a health-journey blog.

I've been craving ribeyes, raw oysters, roasted turkey with mashed potatoes and oodles of gravy, pork tenderloin slices awash in pork gravy, hamburger steaks with grilled onions and mushrooms, salmon grilled with a sweet Asian sauce, fried catfish, fried seafood platters, grilled whole flounder topped with lump crabmeat, and catfish courtbouillon (one of my favorite Cajun dishes). My most persistent craving is for bbq brisket.

Meat protein and saturated fat is the theme here. This is not only true for me when I'm fasting but when I'm bingeing. I'm a meat addict. I don't understand the physiology of my addiction, but it is at the root of my eating disorder. I eat way too much protein, protein converts to sugar, and it feeds my diabetes. I can stay away from cinnamon rolls, but not brisket.

Now some of my meat choices are healthy--like salmon or raw oysters. Even the meats would be healthy if they were grass-fed and in small amounts. But they never are. I never can eat that prescribed "palm-sized" cut of meat. When I eat meat, I eat meat.

The other day, however, my craving turned to turnips and onions. My mother used to make this wonderful dish where she cut up turnips in chunks and stir-fried it in onions and oil with chunks of chicken or pork or thin slices of smoked sausage. The sweet turnip and onion cooked down almost into a mush, absorbing the savory flavor of the meat, and it was to die for. Even by itself, without meat, turnips and onions stir-fried then cooked down in a savory butter-base is scrumpdillyicious.

Almost as good as meat.

I liked it that much. That got me thinking. What other vegetarian dishes do you like almost as much as meat? Some of them I can eat completely without meat, some of them I like to add cheese or eggs, and some of them I like to use a small amount of meat, but either way, they are better than bingeing on a pound of meat. I began to list them in my head:


1.   Eggplant parmesan
2.   Okra stir-fried with onion and shrimp
3.   Asparagus with homemade Hollandaise sauce
4.   Ratatouille
5.   Turnips and onion (by itself or with chicken or smoked sausage)
6.   Caesar salad with my homemade superfood Caesar dressing
7.   Avocado salad or guacamole (the way I make it) with cherry tomatoes on the side
8.   Brussel sprouts roasted in the oven with bacon and Balsamic vinegar
9.   Cream of Brocolli Soup
10. Roasted Summer Squash with Balsamic vinegar and pine nuts
11. Smothered cabbage with onions (with chicken or smoked sausage)
12. Bean soups (split pea, red lentil Dal, white beans or red beans with sausage, black bean, etc.)
13. Marinara over spaghetti squash "noodles" with Italian sausage
14. Certain Rastafarian vegetable medleys with their unique seasonsings
15. Vegetable curries
16. Greens and onions (seasoned with a smoked bone or nitrite-free smoked meats)
17. Vietnamese Pho
18. Grilled Mushrooms (especially as a sandwich on gluten-free bread with guacamole, grated carrots, melted swiss cheese and homemade mayonnaise)
19. Squash, onion, pepper mushroom and tomato shish-ka-bobs with small chunks of meat
20. Carrots and onions with Cajun seasoning cooked in butter, served over Jasmine rice
21. Cauliflower crust pizza with veggies and cheese
22. Grilled chicken salad
23. Cheese enchiladas with non-GMO corn tortillas and chunky superfood tomato chili sauce
24. Eggplants stuffed with rice, veggies and shrimp

If I ate those types of meals 5 nights a week and greatly minimized the meat, and only ate "meat-as-a-main-course" two nights a week, that change alone would make a tremendous difference in my  health and weight-loss goals. So that is my plan: to go Vegetarian-Sort-Of.

While I can't eat, I'm planning how I will eat when I come off the fast. This is what I've come up with so far:

Breakfast

High-Protein Pumpkin Spice Muffin made with coconut oil, sprouted amaranth and quinoa flours, pureed pumpkin, cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg, pureed apple, organic black strap molasses, eggs, ground flax seeds and walnuts

Coffee with organic half-and-half or coconut cream

Lunch

Caesar Salad with my special superfood Caesar dressing
Cream of Brocolli Soup with grated cheese on top

or

My special superfood "Caterpillar Guacamole" with cherry tomatoes
One tin of tiny two-layer sardines (with the bones) in BPA-free can

Dinner

Choose one of my Vegetarian Sort-of Dishes on the List

On Friday nights, I think I will splurge and let myself have a meaty-meal for dinner (just for dinner), so I might have a grilled ribeye with asparagus and salad. On Saturdays (which is when I celebrate my Sabbath) I will fast from food and water. On Sundays after church, it will be a free day where I try not to binge, but allow myself to eat whatever I've been craving, maybe a bunch of roast turkey with mashed potatoes and gravy and southern-style green beans and bacon.

I'm going to try this plan when I come off my fast. I'm going to combine it with moderate weight-lifting 3 x a week and daily exercise for one hour (walking, swimming or elliptical), taking Saturdays and Sundays off.

It sounds really tasty and really healthy, but the question is: will I lose weight?

We shall see.



P.S. I'll eventually get each of these meals listed turned into links where you can see the recipes for them. Keep coming back to this post for updates.





Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Everyday...every single day



I am finishing up Day 5 of my water-only fast, and I'm hoping this will be a long fast. While I'm fasting, I don't have any culinary delights to photograph and share with you, but I am busy doing planning for the things I'm going to do when I come off the fast. Whatever weight I lose, I don't want to gain it all back or lose all the health benefits.

So I've been trying to organize what I've learned about health and nutrition, especially supplements I want to take daily until my health issues have resolved.

Here's my list so far of what I plan to take daily (only some of them have brands because on the ones without brands, I'm still trying different ones and exploring):

Liquid Extracts:

Half-Hill Farm red reishi mushroom dual extract
Turmeric extract by Herb Pharm
Ashwagandha extract by Banyan Botanicals
Healthy Liver Tonic by Herb Pharm
Goldenseal Extract by Herb Pharm


Capsules:

New Chapter Whole Fish Oil (from wild-caught salmon)
plus sardines for Omega 3s
VitaCost GlucoPower (a multi-vitamin-mineral-herb blend for diabetics)
Enzymes
plus papaya and pineapple daily for enzymes
Proteolytic Enzymes between meals
Chromium
Zinc

Sublingual Supplements:

Methyl B-12
Vitamin D with K2

Cold Pressed (Virgin) Organic Essential Oils:

Frankincense (external only)
Occasional Oregano (internal and external)
Black Cumin Seed-Pumpkin Seed Oil Mix from Amazing Herbs
Sesame Oil (especially helpful for blood pressure)

Probiotics:

Miso Master Fresh Miso from Refrigerator Case at Health Food Stores
homemade beet kvass
occasional sauerkraut
occasional kombucha

Teas:

Fenugreek Seed Tea
Pau D'Arco Tea
Green Tea
White Tea
Hawthorne Tea
Hibiscus Tea

Miscellaneous Specialty Supplements:

Liquid Liposomal Vitamin C from Liponaturals
Unmodified Potato Starch (raw mixed in water)
Brain Octane Oil (pure C8 caprylic acid) from Bulletproof
Dried Astragalus from Rose Mountain Herbs (I throw some in everything I cook)
Ox Bile
Unsweetened Organic Cocoa Powder or Raw Cacao Powder


I'm also still researching berberine with naringin, bitter melon and schizandra...and others like true licorice root, milk thistle and Kyolic aged garlic blood pressure formula. I'll make additions to this list, so you can refer back to it often for updates. Eventually, each thing on this list will be a link to a page describing why it's important, what research I've done, what brands might be best, etc.

I'm also thinking about how to plan my meals and which foods I want to include DAILY. Here's my thinking so far, and please feel free to chime in, make suggestions, ask questions, or tell me why you think something might be a bad idea.

I've decided my diet plan needs to include mostly veggies, with healthy fats, sprouted nuts and seeds, and very small servings of fruit and protein (meat, beans, etc.).My grain intake will be almost non-existent except for occasional white rice or the small amount of amaranth or quinoa in my morning superfood pumpkin muffin.

So a sample meal might be my okra-onion-shrimp dish...or a big salad with lots of types of greens and raw veggies coated with my special superfood dressing (which includes anchovies, raw lemon, raw garlic, sunflower seeds and all kinds of superfoods). It might be a recipe from a rastafarian vegetarian website a friend found me with great veggie dishes seasoned delightfully. It might be a huge bowl of my superfood split pea soup. How about a bowl of my superfood turkey pot pie soup (I'll get you that recipe in time for Thanksgiving). It might be a huge platter of steamed asparagus dripping with homemade hollandaise (and the eggs in the sauce make for the protein in that meal). Very rarely, I'll allow myself to eat whatever I want: bbq beef brisket, a ribeye steak and stuffed baked potata, fried catfish, gumbo, anything. As long as it's rarely.

But on a daily basis, here's my list so far:.

DAILY FOODS:

bulk amount of veggies
cooked onions or garlic or both
fresh ginger and fresh turmeric when available (I'm learning how to "candy" slices of ginger and turmeric for when I have a sweet tooth)
healthy fats like avocado (fruit or oil), grass-fed butter or ghee, coconut oil, etc.
small fish (anchovies or sardines for Vitamin D and Omega 3s)
leafy greens in some form (even if just a tbsp of organic dried parsley or green food supplement) but best choices are dandelion greens, watercress, mustard greens, turnip greens, beet greens, kale or collards (spinach is WORST choice)
organic raw cacoa or cocoa powder
daily superfood pumpkin muffin (see post coming up)
ceylon cinnamon (powder or oil) for blood sugar/insulin control and cardamom
soluble and insoluble fiber (especially from veggies in mucilage family like asparagus or okra)
apple cider vinegar
raw lemon juice
raw garlic and raw onion
1/2 avocado
protein source from sprouted beans/lentils or organic grass-fed meat or poultry (optional, in addition to mandatory daily small fish)
seeds to alternate daily: sprouted sunflower seeds for Vitamin E, pumpkin seeds, walnuts
2 brazil nuts for selenium
small serving of pineapple or papaya interchangeable, plus either kiwi, apple or blueberries (choose one) daily
turmeric (either in tincture, warm milk or cooked dish)
fermented foods (beet kvass, non-pasteurized sauerkraut, miso, etc.)
CLA from grass-fed fermented dairy (like pecorino romano cheese)
peppers of some kind (chili peppers, black pepper and cayenne pepper)
celery seed and celery

What do you think? Give me thoughts, ideas, etc.









Saturday, October 8, 2016

one-minute superfood: okra


If you don't like okra, read this post anyway, because there is a way to eat okra without even knowing you're eating okra.

By the way, I'm ending up Day 2 of my fast.

Allow me to digress from our discussion on okra to catch you up. If you read my dandelion post, my house is still empty of people and most foods. I managed to avoid making the chicken spaghetti and the dandelion salad and beets was in fact my last supper. So my fast is underway. Two days or 48 hours into it, I'm feeling ambitious. I'm aiming for 60 days on water only and then 10 days of juicing, which will put me eating again some time before Christmas. I'm not going to be exercising during the fast, but when I start juicing I will start exercising and building my metabolism up to prepare for food intake again. When I start eating, I plan to incorporate some strength training to rev my metabolism further as I take in food again.

I've never done a water fast longer than 35 days but I have friends who have gone 70 days and there are cases in the medical literature where extremely obese people have fasted over 300 days with no ill effect.

BUT THEY WERE UNDER MEDICAL SUPERVISION.

I don't recommend fasting unless you're working with a doctor and an experienced fasting guide. I am a very experienced fast-er but what I'm doing is very dangerous. I know it and I choose to do it anyway. But I'm not telling you to do it. Almost everything else I do, I encourage you to do, but not fasting. It can change your life, but you could die if you do it wrong and with the wrong medications. It can even be dangerous coming off a fast if you don't know how to do it. There is a science to fasting. If you want to seek out how to do it with supervision, email me and I'll send you various links, but always keep your personal physician involved.

Back to okra. It's like small fish in my last post, even if you hate it, eat it anyway. Here's a way to eat okra and not even have to look at it:

It's simple. USE IT AS THICKENING. (Read more below about this)

Okra is the ultimate thickening agent for soups and stews and you can puree it (raw or boiled) and add the okra puree into soups or stews. You won't see it or taste it and you'll avoid having to use white flour or other starchy, unhealthy thickening agents.

That's the HOW (for people who hate okra) but read on for the WHY. Okra is IMPORTANT for those of us trying to reverse unhealthy disease states and for those of us trying to lose weight.

We've talked about our gut bacteria balance and its role in weight loss and health (especially immune health). It's all the rage to do the potato starch hack to wind up with indigestible fiber that passes through your small intestine undigested and then into your large intestine to feed the chlostridia butyricum and other healthy bacteria so that butyrate is created. People are taking cold raw potato starch and putting 4 tbsp in a glass of water and chugging it down. When it's put in a stew for thickening, potato starch is fattening and does nothing good for you, but when you drink it cold and raw in water, it is not digestible, has no calories, and ends up sitting in your large intestine where the healthy bacteria feed on it and create butyrate. Butyrate is a short chain fatty acid that not only feeds our immune system but it causes weight loss, among other helpful attributes.

The ideal way to maximize butyrate production in your gut (and a healthy immune system and healthy weight) is to eat certain types of fibrous foods with lots of soluble and insoluble fiber. Ever heard the phrase: "Eat your vegetables." But certain types of fibrous foods maximize butyrate production. Onions and garlic (you've heard me talk about them ad nauseum) do it if eaten in large amounts, green bananas and asparagus do it, inulin from chicory is one, but one of the best (with a host of additional advantages) is okra. I like to cook okra together with onions to get a one-two punch of mucilage for weight loss, immune-building and gut health.

Okra is in the family of mucilaginous foods like chia, flax, kelp, plantain, cassava, figs, seaweed and others. They also all can be helpful with gut health. Okra, especially, tends to "scrape" your guts clean, with its mucilage sticking to and dragging with it all the undigested sludge, bile and toxins hanging onto the lining of your intestines.

Remember the old wives tale that you could soak okra in water every night then drink the water every morning, you could cure diabetes? Even Snopes.com says there's a grain of truth in that. They write that the gel in okra: "slows down the absorption of food from the gut, evening out the peaks in blood glucose that occur after meals. Soluble fiber also draws in bile acids that contribute to raised cholesterol," concluding that okra can help with diabetes and high cholesterol.

I told you I like to cook my okra with onions, but the classic dish also has tomatoes. Many traditional dishes mix certain foods together not just because it tastes good but because it's good for you--like our forefathers knew the secrets modern food science is telling us. Okra and tomatoes have that kind of relationship.

With only 18 calories in a half-cup of cooked okra, what do you get?

(1) You get all that soluble and insoluble fiber that helps with detoxing and digestion (read constipation), butyrate production, immune-boosting and diabetes-slowing power.

(2) You reap its great nutritional profile high in Vitamin C, Vitamin K, B vitamins, calcium, magnesium and manganese (a profile also helpful for lowering blood pressure)

(3) The calcium, magnesium and vitamin K all work together to prevent osteoporosis.

(4) Low in calories, but high in nutrients and fiber means it helps you to stay full longer with few calories, so it's the perfect weight loss food.

(5) It helps to prevent colon cancer.

I think I said this in an earlier post, but when I feel the need to binge coming on, I eat 2-3 family size bags of cut okra cooked up with a whole onion and some cherry tomatoes and I am stuffed to the gills and satisfied and yet my stomach is flat the next day and I've gained no weight. Without the okra, I might have binged on half a brisket or a whole chocolate cake to my eventual dismay.

Okra is a lifesaver.  Literally.

Stew it with tomatoes and onions and your favorite spices (all ethnic traditions have a variation on okra + tomatoes. Just google okra + tomatoes + recipes and try them all.) Stir-fry it in avocado oil or butter/ghee like I do in the photos. Or if you can't stand the sight of it, puree it raw or cooked and then add it early on into any stew you are cooking and it will disappear. Try to throw okra into your diet at least a few times a week. Preferably every day. I keep trying to work it into my every day routines and I now throw it into every stew I cook, eat it raw occasionally when I'm not cooking anything, boil it then add apple cider vinegar, fry it, or stirfry it with my onions and tomatoes. You'll come to love it--or at least love the way it makes you feel and look!

You'll end up saying: Okra is O-K by me.

Now here is more about using okra as a thickener (pulled from my earlier post if you want to read it all: http://thefatladyssong.blogspot.com/2016/06/hearty-stews.html.

How do you thicken your stews--do you make a roux or add white flour to your meat as it fries, or maybe you add canned cream of mushroom soup, or maybe you use something else equally processed and unhealthy. If you don't--if you have discovered a healthy way to thicken stews--please share it with us. Because it took me forever to come up with a way to make a thick beef/deer stew without adding something unhealthy.

I mean, there are thickeners out there. You can use cornstarch, but most cornstarches are made from GMO corn and corn to begin with is probably something we really don't need to indulge in. And dammit, if I'm going to ingest those corn carbs, it's going to be real corn I'm dredging up with my spoon, not cornstarch. There are other things like arrowroot or tapioca or potato flakes, but the bottom line is, they all have problems and they all are starches (translate empty carbs/calories). And we didn't work on the farm today, did we?

So what's a stew-loving girl like me supposed to do?

Well, fortunately I was raised Cajun, and I learned early on that (the dreaded word) OKRA is a natural thickener. Don't howl with dismay. Okra is your friend. It is a superfood of the highest order. I'm not going to give you all the advantages of this nutritional powerhouse (google it yourself), but I am going to give you a painless way to ingest this superfood on the regular. You would never know my stew has okra in it, but it adds a certain rich complexity to my sauce.

You can puree okra and use it to thicken any dark savory dish you make, including a hearty stew like this one. But it takes a bit of time to cook down okra until you can't tell it's there. I love okra, so I don't mind it, but maybe your kids will say Ewwww and won't eat it if they see a trace of something that looks like it might once have been okra.

Have no fear, there are other options for thickening hearty stews. Simply take the concept of using a vegetable for thickening and expand upon that idea. My stew doesn't only contain okra. I pureed onions and celery into an almost clear liquid and added it to my stew when I first put it on the stove to boil. I also had chopped onions, celery, bell pepper, and garlic. But those chopped bits just got soft and wilted. The pureed onion and celery boiled down into the thick stew you see before you in the photograph. Okay, so far we've got pureed okra, onions and celery as our thickening agents. We all have a hard time getting our veggies into a meal, don't we? See how niftily I slipped three invisible vegetables into that stew. Your three-year-old will wolf it down, I promise.





Friday, October 7, 2016

Small fish...


For those of you who have been reading my posts start-to-finish, you understand my catchphrase "small fish." I use it when referring to fish like sardines and anchovies, which are itty-bitty fish, commonly available canned and generally associated with a yuck factor.

Of course, as I discussed in my last post, there is a term umame which describes a taste that is appealing in its yuckiness. Sardines and anchovies don't have a umame quality for most of us, but you can combine them with other flavors and their yuckiness is an essential part of the umame you can create. For instance, in my Caesar salad dressing, the anchovies are an essential part of the saltiness, tanginess and sheer yumminess.

Bottom line, I have to re-assert this: eat your small fish.

Why? Because the only true quality source of complete Omega 3 fatty acids is fish. There's fish oil and krill oil but you have to worry about environmental sustainability and whether the supplement is made from contaminated fish or is a quality sourcer of fish oil. Wherease, you can look at your sardines and anchovies to know if they are quality. Because of their size, sardines and anchovies aren't in the ocean long enough to build up contamination. They are our perfect--and cheap and environmentally sustainable--source of Omega 3s.

Walnuts and flax oil and all kinds of alternatives are touted for providing Omega 3s but they are not complete and don't provide essential Omega 3s in a useable form and your body has to do some conversion (which in our unhealthy bodies doesn't always happen).

Our deficiency in omega 3s is huge in this country and an equally huge part of our declining health. Notice I use the word huge repeatedly. Omega 3 deficiency--and especially our imbalance between Omega 3s and other omegas like Omega 6s (bad for us)--is helping to keep us fat. It's all tied in.

Don't use Omega 6 oils if you can help it (and you can!). Don't use vegetable, canola or corn oils from the grocery store. Our imbalance of too much Omega 6 and too little Omega 3 is a huge part of the problem.

Focus on using coconut oil, avocado oil, ghee, grass-fed butter and if you use an Omega 6 make it organic sunflower oil or pumkin seed oil refined in a healthy way. Olive oil is fine but alot of it is fake and it doesn't have a high smoke point and if you cook with it, it just might turn out to be bad for you (when you bypass an oil's smokepoint--which is easy to do with olive oil--it develops carcinogens), not good. Avocado oil has become my go-to oil. I use it for everything.

Back to small fish. Find a way to get them down...and get them down.

I get my anchovies in my olive tapenade or in my Caesar dressing. I eat my sardines straight out the can. Never have found a recipe that makes sardines palatable. But sardines are soooo good for you that you should choke them down if you have to. Not only are sardines an amazing uncontaminated source of Omega 3s, they are high in other hard-to-get nutrients like Calcium, B-12 and Vitamin D.

Do you know a way to make sardines and anchovies tasty as well as good for you?


Thursday, October 6, 2016

Dandelion wishes...

Life happens. That's why you haven't heard from me in awhile. Life was happening, and I didn't have time to write. I didn't even have time to think. But I did find the time to eat--I just didn't have the time to eat consciously or eat well. That 's what we tell ourselves anyway when the shinola hits the fan, isn't it? Sigh.

I'm a stress eater. Things get tough and I turn to food for comfort. Not a good way to be, but that's me. Oh well. The other thing is, eating healthy, for me, takes concentration, planning, money, thought. All of those have been in short supply as I've been running around putting out other fires.

I know what I need to do. I need to fast. I've been knowing that. I've already written a post about it. I just can't seem to do it. When money is tight, fasting in the solution. When you don't have time to shop for and cook healthy foods, fasting is the solution. When you're sick, all animals know: fasting is the solution. Plus when I'm binge eating, fasting is my reset button. I haven't done a long fast in almost 3 years. It's past time. It's just so hard to do. Especially here lately.

A big part of the reason I fell off the healthy eating wagon was because my daughter, her husband and children all moved in with me. It's been like the wild man weekend I wrote about--every day. They eat what tastes good, whether it's good for you or not. They're all young and relatively thin, so they get away with it. I join in.

But I can't get away with it--not long-term.

Amazingly, my health is continuing to improve. That reishi extract  and the ashwaganda, together with this black seed and pumpkin oil mix I'm taking, alongside my liposomal Vitamin C, my sublingual Vitamin D and Vitamin B-12, my frankincense, and the Chaga mushroom extract I've added, and some new "brain oil" which is pure caprylic acid derived from coconut oil, all those quality supplements are kicking butt. I'm starting to look and feel better, in spite of my inconsistent eating.

Also, with the grandkids around, I've been moving more. I love them so much and they motivate me to want to be well.

But it's hard not to eat chili dogs or potato soup or pulled pork sandwiches or sourdough bread with butter or hamburger steaks and grilled onions with homemade french fries when that's what they're eating. So if I can't even eat healthy around them, how can I expect myself to eat NOTHING and fast. I can't. They fire up the grill and I'm a goner. What's a fat lady to do?

Pray. That's what I've been doing. Well, eating like crazy from stress...and praying. Both at the same time.

This week came the answer to my prayers:

(1) Four of my dear friends rescued me from some hairy situations that were STRESSING me out
(2) Another dear friend put together a whole prayer ritual for me that including praying for release from addiction (this is addiction, my relationship with food, I'm the equivalent of a crack addict)
(3) My daughter and her family went off to stay with her sister for a week
(4) My car is in the shop

I made them take all the good food with them. So I'm stranded at home with no car and only food I don't like. Nothing yummy or really tempting. Canned goods, packaged foods nobody wants, and one frozen pack of drumsticks. The only tempting thing in the house is the jar of spaghetti sauce and the angel hair pasta and the parmesan cheese that I could put together with it. I love spaghetti and I can envision myself making a radical chicken spaghetti. The thing in my favor is: I hate drumsticks. It's the only piece of chicken that I don't like. My love of spaghetti may outweigh my dislike of drumsticks. We'll have to wait and see. I may have to do it just to get it out of the house. But after that, there's nothing.

I think maybe I can fast.

I just ate what I hope will be my last meal before the fast (if I can stop thinking about chicken spaghetti). I took some quickly wilting dandelion greens from the fridge, chopped them, and made a creamy olive tapenade dressing. It's similar to my healthy Caesar salad dressing, only you add capers and black and green olives, a few sundried tomatoes if you have them, and fresh or dried basil, oregano and thyme. I add fresh chopped tomatoes instead of sundried.

It was amazing. It's salty and kind of yucky but in a good way. I think they call that quality umame.

For my side dish, I pulled a wilted beet from the veggie basket on my countertop, and I quickly chopped it into small pieces and stirfried it in butter. The sweet buttery beets were a perfect complement to my tangy, salty dandelion greens with creamy olive tapenade dressing.

Vegetables with a side of vegetables. That's our Good-Donnagail talking.

Dandelion Greens with Creamy Olive Tapenade Dressing

2 tbsp Primal Kitchen Avocado Oil Mayonnaise (I use this when I don't have time or ingredients or patience for homemade mayonnaise which I prefer to use)
1 chopped clove raw garlic
2 chopped anchovies
1/4 cup chopped olives (black or green or mix of olives)
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp capers
1/4 cup chopped fresh tomatoes or sundried tomatoes
1 tsp fresh or 1/4 tsp dried each of oregano, basil, parsley and thyme
2 tbsp grated fresh parmesano reggiano

2 cups chopped dandelion greens

Mix dressing in large bowl, stir chopped raw greens into dressing until well coated, serve coated greens on salad plate. Top with more grated parmesan cheese to taste.

***

Dandelion greens are a tonic for your liver, as are many of the ingredients in this dressing. Beets are excellent for liver and digestive health as well.

This is a one-two detoxification punch prior to fasting, or anytime. And so satisfying and good for you.

Pray hard for me, wish on a star, keep your fingers crossed, throw salt over your shoulder, and make a special dandelion wish with me that I can fast and stop my unhealthy eating in its tracks. If I'm getting better just from my supplements, fasting would amplify that by a thousand. I could be 50 pounds thinner and look 15 years younger in 30 days. Just 30 days.

They say wishin' don't make it so, but wish with me anyway.





Sunday, September 4, 2016

Your toothpaste is toxic

These aren't crazy conspiracy theories. Go read this article on Dr. Mercola's website:

http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2016/08/31/toxic-toothpaste-chemicals.aspx

It's not just me. And it's not just Dr. Mercola. Go ahead and google "toxic toothpaste ingredients" and you'll find a million sites discussing this. This is real.

I didn't realize all of this until recently...and my first thought was: "What am I supposed to do if I can't even use fricking toothpaste?"

Then I went on a journey and I was amazed how easy it was to find toothpaste that is healthy and without all these toxins, for roughly the same price as our everyday toxic toothpastes we're all accustomed to using.

The betrayal of trust between our biggest corporations and the American people continues to leave me staggered. They have us so snowed. I grew up believing the big brands were the ones we could trust because they're too big and in the public eye and I thought they'd wouldn't dare do bad things out of fear of being caught. They had too much to lose, I figured.

Growing up, and sadly realizing that most big corporations have absolute disregard for the public wellbeing if they can squeeze a penny more of profit by using a certain ingredient or process. It just blows my mind that this kind of stuff goes on and most of us are completely unaware of it. Wow, huh?

And you can't just go to the health food store and pick up organic products anymore. That's not even safe. The big corporations have bought out most of the brand name health food and organic companies, and added back bad ingredients into those products, too. 

So you have to be careful to find organic health food sources owned by small companies with no big-corporate interests involved who truly are vison-driven and want to provide a healthy product.

I was trying out different healthy toothpastes and was going to write this blog when I decided on the best and most affordable one. I really liked one toothpaste by Jason Organics, but I also like Dr. Bronner's new line of toothpaste.

I've always loved Dr. Bronner's peppermint soap, everything organic, non-GMO, fairtrade, etc. He's been around forever and he's the real thing. Now he's come out with toothpaste.

Still, I was leaning toward the Jason Organics toothpaste I liked because of its low price on Amazon, but my daughter said it didn't leave her mouth fresh-tasting long enough like regular toothpaste. She liked Dr. Bronner's better.

Then I found out Jason had been bought out by a multinational corporation. Scratch Jason off my list. 

Then, to my horror, I found an article in Eluxe Magazine where Dr. Bronner is actively calling out "fake" organic companies and Jason Organics was on his list of fake organic companies!!!! Jason Organics is a bad guy now. How heartbreaking.

That finalized my decision for Dr. Bronner's toothpaste. Here's a link to the story in Eluxe Magazine: http://eluxemagazine.com/magazine/fake-organic-brands/

I just checked Amazon again and Dr. Bronner's toothpaste is $14 for a 5 oz tube. You can buy 3 tubes that come out to roughly $25, but add shipping, and it's just out of my price range. I was hoping to find it on Amazon's Subscribe & Save, but it's not there.

I can't find it at all on jet.com (which is my new favorite place to find deals, but it's not there).

I finally got a Thrive Market membership because they just have some things I can't find anywhere else, and on some things, they're really, really cheap. Like on this Dr. Bronner's toothpaste. I found it for $4.45 on Thrive Market. That's crazy. Compare $14 on Amazon and $4.45 on Thrive Market.

You just have to shop around. Jet, Amazon and Thrive all have great prices on various products, but you have to find the cheapest price on your product by doing the comparison. On this toothpaste, I did the work for you. 

Since I was going to write this blog about the toothpaste, I also went ahead and applied for an affiliate account with Thrive Market so I can earn referral credits for myself with Thrive, and also get you a $10 off coupon when you place your first order.

Join through my link and you get $10 off and free shipping on your first order. Stock up on Dr. Bronner's toothpaste. It's hard to find and this is the cheapest by far I've found it. If you find a cheaper source, let me know. My link to Dr. Bronner's toothpaste on Thrive Market

When you get on Thrive to place your first order, here's a few other things I have found on there I like that are priced amazingly: 

  1. Better than Bouillon - it's a bouillon paste that comes in beef or chicken or vegetarian that is organic and is an incredible replacement for bouillon cubes.
  2. Primal Kitchen Avocado Oil Mayonnaise (it's 9.99 on Amazon, 10.70 on jet and only $7.45 on Thrive)
  3. Dr. Bronner's Baby Soap in a Pump Bottle that is unscented with no bad chemicals, and I use it as my bath soap as well as my shampoo now. It's $12 for 24 ounces or $6.75 for 12 ounces on Thrive, while it's just over $16 on jet.com and I can't find any prices on Amazon for it that aren't crazy insane. Dr. Bronner's also has a wonderful leave-in conditioner I've found too, but it's not available on Thrive and is cheapest on jet.com (Jet is a little over 7 bucks while Amazon is $12). I didn't think so at first but there are definitely some benefits to getting a Thrive Membership. It pays for itself over time. And you can get a free Thrive Membership for a couple months til you're ready to commit.
So you can go order your toothpaste and get this first order without having to commit. But please place it through my link so that when you do commit, I'll get credit for your referral and I can get some free Dr. Bronner's toothpaste as my reward for doing the research for you!!!

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

all about almonds...


Almonds. That's what's on my mind today. Just 10 almonds a day is supposed to be great for your health. We've all heard about (or gotten on) the Great American Almond Kick. The problem is, when they talk about all the health benefits of almonds, the almonds really should be:

a) organic
b) truly raw

Most of the health benefits are destroyed when almonds are roasted, and nothing is good for you if it's coated with poisons.

Do you know that our country's almond growers are required by law to either irradiate and/or spray awful chemicals on raw almonds they sell? Even on organic raw almonds.
So I did research and found out you can buy truly raw organic untreated almonds if you buy them direct from the almond grower. Email me (theagelesslife@gmail.com) and I can give you some contact information on where to buy almonds direct from the grower in California by mail. I've bought from this particular grower and the almonds were truly raw and sproutable.
That brings up another issue. There are what's called "anti-nutrients" in the almonds that prevent you from absorbing important minerals....in traditional societies, they soaked their almonds...almonds really aren't that good for you unless you buy them raw and organic and soak them...
So I got a big glass jar to soak them overnight...but then you have to dehydrate them so they'll keep (and not be mushy)....thank heavens I have an old-timey oven that goes as low as 115 degrees, so I didn't have to buy a dehydrator....
But whether you dehydrate your soaked almonds in your oven or dehydrator, there's something else to think about. There's the issue of cookware and health I've been learning about...aluminum causes problems (including potentially Alzheimer's), non-stick causes cancer, even stainless steel clad and ceramic can leach aluminum into your food if there are rivets on the inside of the pan where the handles connect, plastic for storing or microwaving food is horrible causing cancer-causing, hormone-disrupting phytoestrogens to leach into our food, microwaves are horrible...

So who wants to buy raw organic almonds then dehydrate them on plastic dehydrator trays or aluminum pans...so I got glass Marinex pans and a stainless steel cookie sheet and spread my almonds out on it and dehydrated them in my oven on its lowest setting.
I ordered 5 pounds of raw organic almonds (untreated) directly from my organic California almond farmer. I soaked them overnight in my wonderful pure well water in a glass jar, then I put them in my oven on glass and stainless steel at 115 degrees, and they dehydrated overnight. Then I stored them in the fridge and on the shelf in mason jars...

So I now have almonds that are truly good for me...still raw (with undestroyed nutrients and enzymes)...soaked (to deactivate the anti-nutrients)...but dehydrated so they're not mushy...still full of enzymes...but free of added chemicals and naturally occurring chemicals that are bad for me...and once I got my little system in place, it really wasn't a big deal:

1. order them
2. put them in water soak them overnight
3. dehydrate them overnight
4. and you have almonds for months...
I priced organic raw soaked dehydrated almonds at a ultra-healthy company and they were over a hundred dollars for five pounds...I bought mine for $45 for five pounds...and did the soaking and dehydrating myself to save a hundred bucks...
You're probably all thinking I have nothing to do with myself...but I'm really researching what we're doing in our society that is making all of us sick...and it's sad. We buy almonds because we think they're good for us and it turns out our government is forcing farmers to irradiate or spray them with chemicals and label them raw and organic. That's not counting the natural anti-nutrients that nut companies could easily neutralize with soaking, but it costs them too much money, so not only don't they do it, nobody bothers to tell us it needs to be done. Then when you start researching how to do it yourself, there are all sorts of other hidden dangers--like how plastic containers especially when heated (even dehydrators) are causing us to consume phytoestrogens that lead to cancers like mine...
So I'm trying to get this down to a system...if any of you want truly healthy almonds, email Donna Gail and I'll give you all the info for free.