Eat. Play. Love.

All Posts for ‘nutrients’ Category

What you put in your mouth can show up on your face and other epidermal areas of your body. Having said that, it’s important to load up on whole foods and water and skip the sugar and refined flours which can attach to collagen and elastin in your skin and accelerate aging. In addition, poor food choices often cause digestive issues which will manifest as skin conditions such as acne, dry skin, rosacea and eczema. A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, clean protein, water and essential fatty acids can go a long way towards maintaining healthy, youthful skin.

Here are five common foods that will keep your skin glowing:Sweet Potatoes

Dark Leafy Greens. Kale, arugula, collard greens, spinach, Brussels sprouts, broccoli and other members of this family are good sources of minerals which help to carry water to the cells and are involved in many reactions in the body including maintaining collagen levels. They are rich in beta carotene and vitamin E which protect the skin from sun damage. Greens also contain folate which helps maintain and repair DNA and zinc which promotes collagen production.

Berries. Blueberries, blackberries, raspberries and strawberries contain numerous antioxidants which protect the skin cells from sun damage and even cancer. A skin superfood, berries are also rich in vitamin C which is a natural wrinkle fighter, anti-aging compound and skin tightener.

Carrots and Sweet Potatoes. These orange wonders are a great source of beta-carotene, a vitamin A precursor that slows skin cancer development and the overproduction of cells which can clog pores and create blemishes. Carrots and sweet potatoes are also a good source of vitamin C which stimulates collagen production in addition to all of those other wonderful things previously mentioned!

Pumpkin Seeds. These tasty winter squash progeny are a good source of zinc and selenium which maintain collagen levels and skin elasticity. Zinc helps create proper protein structures including cell membranes and has been known to reduce acne. Selenium and zinc also protect the skin from UV rays. Along with other nuts and seeds (flax seeds and walnuts are highest omega-3 source), pumpkin seeds contain essential fatty acids which hydrate the skin, quell inflammation and maintain skin cell structure and integrity.

Coconut Oil. High in lauric acid and capric acid which are antimicrobials that boost the immune system, coconut oil is great for skin health whether used topically or internally. It’s rich in vitamin E which is a natural skin moisturizer, anti-inflammatory agent, UV protectant and free radical fighter. Plus coconut oil is a friendly fat that helps the body absorb skin healthy, fat soluble vitamins such as vitamins A and E.

What other foods do you consume to keep your skin looking young and radiant? Or, have you noticed any negative affects from certain foods (i.e. sugar, dairy, vegetable oils)? Please feel free to share your experience below.

 

Welcome to Cultivating Health! If you haven’t done so already, sign up for Juicy News, my monthly e-newsletter that gives you practical health and nutrition tips that will have a profound impact on your health and happiness if you’re ready for change. Juicy News topics include:

  • menu planningjuicy_icon
  • digestive issues
  • detoxification
  • hormonal imbalances
  • adrenal fatigue & stress
  • moods
  • cravings (especially sugar cravings)
  • play
  • playful eating
  • self-care
  • work-life balance

Of course, there is always a delicious, seasonal recipe in there, too!

In addition to juicy health tid bits, you will receive invitations to special events including nutrition playshops, cooking demos and classes and PLAY events.

As a token of my appreciation, you will receive a free 15 minute phone consult AND my Top Kitchen Tips & Tricks to save you time and aggravation and bring the fun back into meal prep.

Here’s to cultivating YOUR health!

 

Coffee is America’s favorite drug. There are 100 million Americans who consume this breakfast tonic daily. 68% of these folks drink coffee within one hour of waking up.

Why are so many Americans obsessed with coffee?

Caffeine.

coffee and caffeine

Caffeine is a drug that produces a feeling of energy, alertness and wellbeing through its effect on the nervous system. It stimulates the adrenal glands which are responsible for your body’s stress response. If you encounter an emergency, certain things happen in your body to allow you to respond appropriately and let’s face it, get the heck out of danger!

For example, your pupils diets, your blood moves toward your limbs and away from your digestive organs, extra sugar pushes into your blood stream for energy (you need to run from that bear!), the immune system suppresses itself, your breathing becomes more rapid and shallow, more oxygenated blood moves into your larger muscles and so on and so forth.

Now here is the trick. Your body doesn’t know the difference between a bear and say…your boss…an annoying co-worker…your spouse…rush hour traffic…a missed deadline…or even your demanding children. The body responds this way not only to real danger, but also to perceived threats. So anytime your stressed, the body goes through this emergency response process to varying degrees depending on the severity of the stress.

In time, this leads to burnout, also known as adrenal exhaustion which creates a host of symptoms including digestive disorders, illnesses due to a suppressed immune system, weight gain, sleep disorders and depression to name a few.

Caffeine also interferes with nutrient absorption, particularly vitamins C, D, Bs, calcium, potassium, iron and zinc. All of these nutrients are essential to the body working efficiently and are easily depleted by environmental and emotional toxins.

Caffeine is processed in the liver and interferes with the liver’s detoxification process. Yikes! We are overexposed to toxins in our food, environment and even our thoughts. It’s important to keep the liver functioning efficiently!

Caffeine disrupts intestinal flora; stimulates acid production in the stomach when you’re not eating which can cause heartburn and ulcers; and contributes to bloating, colitis, IBS, food allergies, abdominal pain and both constipation and diarrhea.

Because it’s a diuretic, caffeine dehydrates the body. For every caffeinated beverage, you need two glasses of water to make up for it. Be prepared to spend some time in the bathroom. It also constricts blood vessels and increases blood pressure.

In some, there is a link between caffeine and muscle and jaw tension, infertility, anxiety, depression, memory loss and PMS.

I know. So I just peed in your Cheerios or quinoa flakes depending upon your breakfast preference.

Remember, everyone has a different threshold and tolerance for caffeine. Some folks are affected by it more so than others so it’s important to understand how caffeine affects YOUR body.

Please don’t forget that in addition to coffee, caffeine can be found in sodas, energy drinks, snacks, teas, chocolate and numerous prescription and over-the-counter drugs. Read labels!

 So if you’re a coffee drinker affected by caffeine, what are you to do? PANIC! Joking.

You could switch to decaf which has much less caffeine, but coffee is still acidic and can have other affects on the body like depleting your tissues of vital nutrients. In particular, decaf is not recommended if you have bone density issues as your body will steal minerals from your bones in order to neutralize the coffee’s acid. (Please note, if you do switch to decaf, please look for water processed decaffeinated coffees because decaffeination chemicals can be toxic over time.)

Fortunately, there are a variety of herbal coffee alternatives at your health food store. Woohoo! Now before you roll your eyes, you have to try one of my personal favorites, Teecino. This herbal cup of deliciousness comes in a variety of flavors and works well with a coffee maker or french press. In fact during a recent program I gave during Active Aging Week, one of my program participants enjoyed the product so much that the whole bag inadvertently slipped in her purse. 😉 Yeah. That was awkward but it was a great testimony to the taste of Teecino.

Of course you can enjoy a nice up of herbal tea in the morning, but I have to admit that when your looking for something more viscous, with that smooth coffee texture, tea doesn’t always cut the mustard.

Fortunately, we have coffee alternatives, but how do we get off the sauce? As you know, kicking caffeine is no picnic for some. I suggest that you cut back SLOWLY and mix your coffee with decaf or Teecino as your wean yourself from the nectar of the gods. If you quit cold turkey, be prepared for big giant pumpkin head, anxiety, fatigue and other unpleasant symptoms. Taking buffered vitamin C may help reduce Crankasauras and other withdrawal symptoms.

I’m sure some of you have gotten off caffeine altogether or are attempting to get off of it again. What worked for you? Are their herbal coffee substitutes that you really like? Please share here!

 

The Skinny on Fats

  • September 9th, 2013

In my practice I get a lot of questions about fat.

Kim, should I buy low-fat products and eat a low fat diet? What about a no-fat diet?
Are vegetable oils spreads good for me or not?
What’s all this coconut oil hype?
Is butter going to jack up my cholesterol? What about animal fats?

All of these are valid concerns and with all of the the fat fads out there, it can be challenging to decipher which fats are best if any at all. I tell my clients that you want to eat fat in its natural form with all of it’s synergistic components. This is why I don’t recommend no or low-fat products. Often additional ingredients (i.e. sugar) are added to low-fat products to give it the same texture and mouth feel of the full fat version.

Unfortunately, this often can leave you feeling unsatisfied. It reminds me of those Wendy’s commercials back in the 80’s – “Where’s the beef?!” It’s better to eat less and go for the full fat version to satisfy your body’s needs. You don’t want the body to have to search for the “beef,” because these cravings can often lead to unhealthy decisions!

So why is fat important anyway? 

Fat serves many critical functions in the body including:

  • insulation – warms and energizes the body
  • protection – cushions internal organs and holds them in place
  • transportation of nutrients – carries important fat soluble vitamins A, E, D and K where the body needs them most.
  • structure – forms the structure of cell membranes and builds tissues
  • hormone regulation – helps various parts of the body communicate and function
  • nervous system health – plays a major role in brain and nerve development in addition to normal brain function and nerve transmission

There is a misconception that saturated fats are bad, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. Saturated fats strengthen our immune systems, protect our heart and liver against toxins and stress, keep hormonal receptors on our cell membranes working properly and are required for hormone production.

Polyunsaturated fats found in vegetable oils such as canola, soybean, safflower and sunflower oil should be limited and never heated. Studies show that many vegetable oils in the diet disrupt the Omega-6 to Omega-3 ratio which creates inflammation in the body. When we consume too many polyunsaturated fats and limit our saturated fat intake, our cells become flimsy and don’t work properly.

coconut and fat

So what fats should we consume? Let’s take a look at traditional diets before the invention of packaged foods. Most people enjoyed old fashioned, organic butter from grass-fed cows, unfiltered extra-virgin olive oil, balanced fats found in high quality foods (i.e. grass-fed meats, wild-caught fish, nuts and seeds, avocados) and even minimally processed coconut oil.

If you want to learn more about the importance of fat, what fats to enjoy and how to prepare them so they don’t oxidize in the body and create inflammation, join me for my Skinny on Fats teleclass on September 18. I’ll be covering lots of information vital to your health in just one short hour.

Do you have a story or recipe to share using healthy, traditional fats? Feel free to post them here!

 

Body Slimming Beans

  • February 26th, 2013

Beans, also known as legumes are an excellent plant-based protein source. Beans are seeds (or fruit if you are consuming the whole pod) found in the cuisines of most traditional cultures. The grounding and strengthening properties of beans make them a great endurance food. In particular, they strengthen the kidneys and adrenal glands, thus promoting physical growth and development. Funny enough, they even look like our kidneys! In Traditional Chinese Medicine the color of the bean indicates the organ it most benefits. For example, red beans such as adzuki beans and kidney beans target the heart while green beans such as mung beans and split peas focus on the liver.

Beans range from 17 to 25 percent protein and are great for building body mass. They are a good source of fiber, calcium, potassium, iron, zinc and several B vitamins. According to data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey in Canada, bean eaters weigh less, consume more nutrients and have lower blood pressure and slimmer middles than their non-bean eating counterparts.christmas lima beans and fr

Beans have a reputation for causing digestive distress, but this is usually because they have been undercooked or improperly prepared. Remember, beans are seeds that are waiting to be germinated! There are enzyme inhibitors in the seed coat that keep the seed dormant and prevent it from germinating until the conditions are right. If your beans aren’t pre-soaked in water, you won’t be able to fully assimilate the nutrients of the bean. Most beans should be soaked for 24 hours in warm, filtered water with a pinch of baking soda. You will need to change the soaking water at least once. Drain and rinse your beans well and then place intoa pot and cover with two inches of water. To further reduce gas, add spices like bay leaf, oregano, fennel or cumin, or the sea vegetable, kombu, when cooking. My friend Monica Corrado created a fabulous resource – her Grain & Bean Chart.

Here’s a list of beans to try:

aduki or adzuki
black beans
black eyed peas
cannellini beans
chickpeas
kidney beans
lentils
lima beans
mung beans
navy beans
peas
pinto beans
red beans

Not a bean eater, but trying to figure out where to begin with them? One of my favorite winter bean recipes is Myra Kornfeld’s Spicy Baked Beans. It’s great comfort food with a healthy twist!

Also, during the summer months, I frequently make the following yummy bean salad. It’s super easy, tasty and easy to personalize according to your taste buds.

Italian Bean Salad

Ingredients:

    • 2 cups dried cannellini beans (I also have made this with aduki beans)
    • 1 onion  – diced
    • 1 spring onion – diced
    • 1 chili – finely chopped
    • several garlic cloves (to your liking) chopped or pressed
    • ½ cup of finely chopped herbs of your choice (see note)
    • 1 tsp sea salt (may need a bit more)
    • 1 part red wine vinegar
    • 3 parts olive oil
    • 2 TBSP raw apple cider vinegar
    • 2 inch strip of kombu seaweed

Directions:

1. Soak 2 cups of aduki beans in warm water with a pinch of baking soda for 24 hours.

2. Rinse and drain beans and place in a pot with a 2 inch strip of kombu seaweed. Cover with a half inch to inch of water and bring to a boil. Once the water begins to boil, turn down the temperature a bit and begin to skim the “scum” off the top of the water. Cook until tender and the water is evaporated.

3. Cool beans and then mix all the ingredients together. Season with salt and dress with olive oil and vinegar to taste!

Note: Instead of fresh herbs, you can also use Herbs de Provence or Italian Seasoning.

Feel free to share your favorite bean recipes here!

Love Your Heart

  • February 14th, 2013

Although primary foods, the aspects of life that nourish our souls, are most important to heart health, a diet of whole grains, dark leafy greens and healthy fats is vital to the strength and vigor of your heart. If you think about it, your heart is an amazing organ responsible for pumping and circulating nutrient and oxygen-rich blood to the cells that need it as well as whisking away blood with cellular waste to the liver, lungs, spleen, kidneys and other areas of the body that assist with the purification process. You can’t live without your heart. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the heart also controls consciousness, spirit, sleep, memory and houses the mind. As you may have gathered, there is a deep connection between the heart and nervous system.

There are many nutritional studies demonstrating that heart and nervous system conditions are related to calcium metabolism. Alcohol, coffee, excess protein consumption, marijuana, refined flour, refined sugars and refined salts interfere with calcium absorption. In addition, magnesium, one of the most vital minerals for your heart, works in tandem with calcium to keep your blood flowing, your muscles working properly and your bones strong and healthy. Magnesium can dilate coronary arteries and normalize the heartbeat and blood pressure. Magnesium and calcium are both found in dark leafy greens and blackstrap molasses. Other sources of magnesium include whole grains, seeds, beans, nuts and fish. Calcium is also found in sesame seeds and dairy products. One of your best sources of calcium and magnesium is Granny’s mineral-rich bone stocks.

Other foods that are helpful to the heart are garlic, onions, flax seed oil and wild, oily fish such as 

scallionssalmon. Foods rich in vitamin C such as citrus, leafy greens, strawberries and cantaloupe raise your HDL levels (“good” cholesterol) and keeps your arteries supple. Vitamin E rich foods such as leafy greens and seeds help to protect against the formation of plaque and reduce total cholesterol. Be sure to switch your salt to a high mineral sea salt. Contact me for recommendations as not all sea salts are equal. I personally use Celtic Sea Salt which has roughly half the sodium of refined table salt and over 80 minerals.

So what about fats? Skip the refined vegetable oils such as canola, soybean, safflower and 

sunflower and choose more stable, heart healthy fats such as organic, grass-fed butter (raw if you can source some), coconut oil and olive oil. Some flax seed oil and sesame oil are also helpful in the diet as well. Studies are beginning to show that many vegetable oils in the diet disrupt your Omega-6 to Omega-3 ratio which creates inflammation in the body. Heart conscious people tend to shy away from saturated fats which is a shame as they maintain the integrity of our cell membranes in the brain and elsewhere. When we consume too many polyunsaturated fats and limit our saturated fat intake, our cells become flimsy and don’t work properly. Saturated fats also protect our livers from toxins and provide the heart with energy during times of stress.

If you are interested in hearing the other side of the saturated fat and cholesterol, controversy, check out the the following articles.

Weston A. Price Foundation: The Skinny on Fats
Dr. Uffe Ravnskov, MD, PhD : The Cholesterol Myth

Of course, your heart needs plenty of oxygen so exercise is a must! Exercise combined with quality whole foods and stress management techniques will keep your heart healthy for some time.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

It’s that that time of year when the body kicks its natural cleansing process into overdrive. If you’re like many folks, your body has built up a few extra toxins from the Holiday season. Too much sugar, refined carbs and poor fat sources congest the body leaving our cleansing systems backed-up. When your elimination systems aren’t working optimally, your immune system becomes compromised leaving your body open to colds, flus and other infections.

There are several things you can do right now to keep the “bug” at bay.

Increase your vegetable intake, especially antioxidant rich foods such dark leafy greens, sweet potatoes, carrots and winter squash. Dark leafy greens are full of nutrients that support a healthy body and mind. They are also hydrating and full of fiber which supports regular bowel movements. Both dark leafy greens and orange colored veggies like sweet potatoes and winter squash are full of pro-vitamin A/beta-carotene which is a crucial nutrient for the immune system. Vegetables should be the foundation of any diet as they are the most nutrient rich foods out there and won’t congest the body. If you’re not a fan of eating vegetables, consider juicing them, blending them into a smoothie or pureeing them into a soup.

CH_26Hydrate with bone broth and fresh vegetable juices. Hydration is key to keeping nutrients moving into your cells and wastes moving out of them. Water also helps to support elimination. Finally, your body has numerous mucus membranes which protect the body including those in the lungs, nasal passages, eyes and digestive tract. To keep the mucus from becoming too thin or too thick and sticky, the body requires adequate hydration. If your mucus membranes aren’t functioning well, you’re leaving yourself open to pathogens.

Eat your sea vegetables. Sea veggies are full of important minerals and omega-3 fatty acids that are crucial co-factors for many processes that the body must accomplish each daily to stay healthy. In particular, sea veggies are full of calcium, iron and iodine which nourishes the thyroid. The thyroid keeps the timing of all of the body’s processes on point. If the body is running too slow, one can become constipated, stagnant and eventually sick. If the body runs too quickly, it can wear out important tissues and organs. Last but not least, sea vegetables help to detoxify and transform toxins in the body so they can be excreted harmlessly.

Dump the sugar. Sugar and other refined carbohydrates are one of the most congesting and acidifying foods for the body. Holistic health practitioners agree that disease does not survive in an alkaline environment. Sea veggies, dark leafy greens, bone broths and other mineral rich foods help to keep the blood’s pH slightly alkaline. Instead of refined carbs, consume complex carbohydrates found in whole grains and vegetables.

Relax and take time to play. One of the biggest toxins attacking our immune systems is in our heads – STRESS. Believe it or not, stress is more toxic than a Big Mac (sorry to pick on you, Big Mac). So, it doesn’t matter how healthy your are if you’re a stress bucket most of the time! Your body is designed to respond to short-term stressors. It doesn’t know the difference between a bear and your boss (although for some of us, our bosses look more like bears every day). As a result, your body produces stress hormones which in time, take their toll and compromise the immune system. The only prescription for this condition is relaxation and play. Relax or play each day, even if it’s just for 10 minutes. When you relax, you’re telling your body that the emergency is over so it can go back to doing what it does best – taking care of all your body’s systems, not just the ones involved in an emergency situation.

Pick the thing on this list that resonates with you the most first. Then add one new tip each week over the next month or so. If you can commit to it, I guarantee this works better than any flu shot!

Beauty in Bone Broth

  • October 9th, 2012

Last month I attended Louise Hay’s I Can Do It! conference with my good friend and partner in “life is stranger than fiction,” Annette Varoli. We were in the presence of amazing, energetic speakers such as Wayne Dyer, Cheryl Richardson and Caroline Myss. Louise Hay gave a fabulous keynote address on Saturday morning which included her top 10 daily self-love tips. Number 7 on the list was “Bone Broths and Green Drinks.” Sometimes I forget how this simple advice has such a profound effect on our health. I consume green drinks regularly, but I only think of using bone broths when I’m making soup or cooking up a whole grain such as brown rice or quinoa. A vibrant woman in her 80s, Louise drinks bone broth every day. While taking notes, I thought to myself, “why don’t I do that?”

You may be wondering why Louise drinks bone broth (also known as stock) daily? Traditionally, we used all parts of the animal in cooking including the organs and bones because of their health and flavor giving properties. In fact, it was deemed wasteful NOT to use the entire animal. Bone broth provides bio-available nutrients such as calcium, magnesium and potassium. It aids digestion, strengthens cell structures, reduces allergies and boosts the immune system. Because it is rich in collagen which contains two important amino acids, proline and glycine, bone broth nourishes the bones, tendons, joints, mucus membranes and even the skin. Want to loose wrinkles, stretch marks and cellulite? Help yourself to a daily cup of bone broth!

So how does one make bone broth? To make it easy, Louise, keeps a large ziploc bag in her freezer. Each time she has some vegetable scraps or bones, she throws them in the freezer bag. When it’s full, she makes a pot of nutrient-rich stock. Here is what you do next:

  1. Once you have collected your poultry, beef and/or fish bones and veggie scraps, throw them in a pot and fill with water.
  2. Add 2 TBSP of vinegar or wine (I like to use raw apple cider vinegar). Let the concoction stand for 30 minutes to an hour.
  3. Bring the stock to a boil and skim any “scum” that rises to the top. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 6 to 24 hours. The longer you simmer, the more nutrient-rich and flavorful the bone broth becomes
  4. bone brothAfter the bone broth is complete, remove the large chunks of bone and vegetables and then strain. Cool the strained broth in the refrigerator until the fat rises to the top and congeals. Skim off the fat and pour the bone broth into freezable containers.
  5. You can also strain the broth and then pour into freezable containers before cooling. Donna Gates feels the layer of fat protects the broth and that you shouldn’t remove it until you are ready to use the broth.

Consume the thawed broth within 5 days. You may be able to extend the life of the broth by a few more days by re-boiling it.

Bone broth can be consumed by itself as a tea or used as a base for whole grains, legumes, soups and vegetables. Enjoy this healthful and tasty superfood as often as you can!

Wild about Bitters

  • April 5th, 2012

Of all the flavors, we are most familiar with sweet and salty. These are the tastes we tend to gravitate towards; however, this limited palate prevents us from experiencing the benefits of the healing properties of spicy/pungent, sour and bitter foods.

So you may be asking yourself, “Kim, what the heck is a bitter food and why should I give a hoot?”

Well, bitters are actually a group of plant compounds that are used by the plant to protect itself against pathogens, predators and oxidative damage. In nature, some bitter compounds are poisonous. Yet many animals, including us, have learned over time to forage for mildly bitter plants and eat them in small amounts, thus building up an immunity to protect them from the highly bitter plants. Plus, if the bitter compounds protect the plant, perhaps they will also protect us.

Now you may be scratching your head and wondering how this benefits you. It turns out that bitters have a variety of health benefits.

Bitters stimulate your digestive system which strengthens your liver, stomach, gall bladder, pancreas and small and large intestines. Many health conditions that we experience today, such as high cholesterol, diabetes, IBS and indigestion may be due to/exacerbated by a lack of bitter foods in our diets.

Bitters increase healthy bile flow which helps your liver get rid of toxins. Bile is secreted into the intestines where it can be used to emulsify fats, alkalize the environment for carbohydrate digesting enzymes and help eliminate waste products. Bile also helps the body use important fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E and K). Bitters can be very helpful for people with hepatitis and other compromised livers conditions.

Bitters are anti-inflammatory! They help to ensure the production of hydrochloric acid in the stomach which ensures good protein digestion. Often times, people with indigestion think they have too much acid in the stomach when in reality they don’t have enough hydrochloric acid (stomach pH is too high) to digest protein effectively. Undigested proteins putrefy in the gut and can cause inflammation of the bowels which leads to leaky gut syndrome. Some symptoms of leaky gut syndrome include: food allergies, eczema, skin rashes and other skin disorders, headaches, migraines, joint pain, chronic fatigue and heartburn.

Bitters help to ensure that the pancreas is secreting the appropriate amount of enzymes to break down foods which prevents putrefaction and inflammation of the gut. This means less gas, bloating, constipation and diarrhea. When your gut lining is healthy, you will be healthy, too, as a healthy gut is strongly correlated with a healthy immune system.

Bitters also help stimulate the pancreas to secrete insulin and glucagon, two hormones that are important to stabilizing blood sugar levels.

Bitters have anti-carciongenic and antioxidant powers. Here is an article that references some of the specific bitter compounds and their benefits.

You’re convinced that you need more bitters in your diet, but what are they and how do you get them?

Sweedish Bitters

There are a variety of ways to incorporate bitters into your diet. The most common way is to enjoy a variety of wild and cultivated bitter greens such as dandelion, chicory, arugula, radicchio, escarole, turnip greens, mustard greens, watercress and endive. These greens can be used raw in salads, braised with garlic and olive oil or blended in a soup.

Enjoying a bitter cocktail before a meal is another way to incorporate bitters into your diet. Traditionally, concoctions using Angostura bitters, Amer Picon, Campari, Cynar, Chartreuse, Dubonnet, Fernet Branca, Byrrh, Punt è Mes, Suze, Jägermeister, and Peychaud’s or Fee Brothers bitters were considered health tonics. If you do enjoy a cocktail on occasion, consider a bitter beverage before your eat or add a few drops of a bitters formula to your water.

You can also get your bitters through teas such as dandelion root, milk thistle, red clover, and nettles. Alvita has a great line of herbal teas. In addition bitter, unsweetened chocolate and even certain wines offer some bitter benefits. Finally, you may even consider a Swedish Bitter formula from Gaia Herbs, Herb Pharm or Nature Works. Urban Moonshine makes some fantastic travel bitters sprays.

So the next time you have that sweet or salty craving, reach for something bitter instead. Your body will thank you.

Playing with Chickweed

  • March 16th, 2012

I love gardening, but sometimes your best intentions can go awry. Last fall, I planted greens in my cold frame, but then I kind of…sort of…very much…completely forgot about them over the Holidays. Needless to say, the only drought survivors were a row of mache and a mess of chickweed. Knowing that chickweed (Stellaria media) is chock full of nutrients such as B6, B12, C, D, beta-carotene, iron, calcium, potassium, phosphorus, zinc, manganese, sodium, copper, and silica, I knew that I had to do something with it. So I made a few nutrient recipes that I will share with you today!

 

Sauteed Chickweed & Cabbage 

Ingredients:

  •  3 TBSP olive oil
  •  1 TBSP balsamic vinegar
  •  tsp cayenne pepper
  •  6 garlic cloves
  •  several handfuls of chickweed, chopped
  • 2 cups cabbage, chopped
  • dash of sea salt and pepper
  • 1 tsp of cumin seeds

I sautéed the cabbage and chickweed in a little water for about 10 minutes or until tender and then added the rest of the ingredients and mixed. Joe prepared a side of venison to go along with our “wild” evening, and it was pretty darn tasty except that the chickweed was a little chewy. I should have removed the stems or used “younger” chickweed. Live and learn! The beauty of this dish is that you can use a variety of seasoning combinations. Think about how you like to prepare spinach and substitute chickweed. “Wildman” Steve Brill uses cumin, chiles, Brewer’s yeast and ground cloves in his “Chickweed Delight” recipe. I’ll have to try that next!

Chickweed & Cabbage

 

Aduki-Chickweed Pâté

My next chickweed experiment this week was delicious! It was inspired by “Wildman” Steve Brill’s Chickweed Bean Spread.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups soaked and cooked aduki beans
  • 2 TBSP coconut vinegar
  • 4 TBSP olive oil
  • 2 tsp dried tarragon
  • 2 tsp Lydia’s Organic Seasoning (a must have for your pantry!)
  • 2 shallots
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 cup chickweed leaves
  • small handful of chives
  • ¼ cup of red miso
  • juice of 1 lime
  • sea salt and pepper to taste

I added the lime juice, miso, olive oil, shallot, garlic and seasonings to the food processor and pulsed for a bit. Then I added the aduki beans and processed for a minute or two. After the mixture became smooth, I added the chickweed and chives. Voila!

Aduki-Chickweed Pate

 

Unfortunately, according to my Facebook Friends, the picture of the pâté looks more like poop; however, I thought that was appropriate since chickweed is full of fiber which is helpful to elimination. 🙂

 

This morning, while writing this post, I sipped on fresh chickweed tea. While it tasted refreshing on its own, I added a lavender-lemon-mint tea for some extra kick. Just pour boiling water over a ¼ to ½ cup chickweed, cover and let steep for about 15 minutes. Because it’s so nutrient rich, this would be a wonderful concoction to accompany and detoxification program. In particular, it supports the kidneys. You could add other herbs and drink hot or pour over some ice for a truly refreshing beverage.

Chickweed Tea

 

Enjoy!


 


 
Follow

Get every new post on this blog delivered to your Inbox.

Join other followers: