Dandelion Greens for Health

 

As I walk around my yard I notice the abundance of what some people feel are obnoxious weeds, but I see them as healthy food. In spring these plants are prolific with their big yellow flower brazenly  sticking out of the greenery. I, however, see their distinctive leaf pattern and know what great benefit they bring to body wellness. In the botanical world, dandelion greens are best known as a liver tonic. And goodness knows liver function needs a lot of help in this toxic soup in which we live.

 

Some healthful  properties of this common plant:

  • The greens are rich in iron and calcium
  • The leaves are high in anti-oxidants like vitamin C and betacarotene; vitamin C helps with iron absorption too!
  • Dandelion is a tonifier for the liver. This herb can be found in many formulas  enhancing the detox process. If you chew on the leaf you’ll notice a bitter flavor; bitters enhance liver and gallbladder function.
  • High in minerals, this plant helps support many biochemical functions. It has  copper (10% RDA), manganese (8% RDA), phosphorus (5% RDA), potassium (5% RDA) and magnesium (5% RDA).

How to eat dandelion. Wash well. Try it in smoothies, or add some leaves into your salad greens, or sauté in garlic or spring onion. See my smoothie recipes for additional basic smoothie recipe ideas.

Pick dandelions only from land that has NOT been sprayed with chemicals. The younger leaves (before the flower appears) will yield  less bitterness. Spring and early summer is best time to choose wild/yard dandelion. They are one of the best proactive health foods to lower your risk of cancers, inflammatory diseases and cardiovascular illness .

For pro-health activities such as detox, improved energy, greater immunity and true disease prevention, include dandelion this spring. Eat it often while it’s available. Click here for further reading about dandelion.

Shiitake mushroom & Swiss Chard Stir-fry

 

Enjoy this easy to prepare vegetable dish. Swiss Chard is an excellent dark green leafy vegetable that belongs to the same family as beets and spinach. Native to the Mediterranean it has been honored as a medicinal food by the Greeks and Romans. Chard  is an excellent source of minerals and vitamins, as well as dietary fiber and chlorophyll. In studies it has been shown that rates of colon cancer are reduced when there is regular consumption of Swiss chard. With quite high levels of Vitamin K1, it offers great help with bone strength (think osteoporosis). This is a healthy dish with Shiitake mushrooms as an immune enhancer and chard as great garden vegetable packed with vitamins and minerals.

INGREDIENTS

1 bunch Swiss chard (rainbow or regular);

½ cup sliced shiitake mushrooms

1  shallot – sliced

1 Tblsp. Sesame oil or olive oil.

Option: 1/2 cup soaked then roasted walnuts to a light crunch, chop into pieces and serve with chard.

Wash and dry chard leaves – remove tough stalks and chop leaves & stems.

Heat oil in fry pan or wok and add shallots and shiitake slices and sauté for about 1 minute and then add chard leaves.

Cook for 5-7 minutes depending on the thickness of chard leaves. Try baby chard leaves, which will cook more quickly.

Serves 2-3

America’s Secret Addiction – SUGAR!

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Sugar is America’s Number One Addiction

I confess my fondness for sweetness in my food has existed for a long time. Even being natural medicine doctor for many years, it has been a challenge to not have sugar of some form in my daily diet.  Back in the 1970’s my interest in eating better began while raising my two sons. I carefully read all label ingredients and refused to buy any package foods containing chemicals, other unrecognizable words and more than 2 sugars (i.e. breakfast cereals). It was my great start to understanding good nutrition.

Currently, the more research I read about the dangers of food loaded with sugar, the easier it is to remove sugar laced foods.  I’d like to reveal to you how these “sugars” have crept into our everyday food intake.  First one has to recognize what actually is a sugar: AKA simple carbohydrate.

Sugars In Disguise:

  • Words ending in ‘ose’ are sugars. Sucrose, fructose, maltose, dextrose & monosaccharaides are more popular types found in almost all packaged food.
  • Common sugars includes: raw sugar, brown sugar, beet sugar, cane sugar, confectioner’s (powdered) sugar, molasses, turbinado, maple syrup, sugar cane syrup, cane juice, invert sugar, malt syrup, and high fructose corn syrup.
  • Flour: the most common one used is white bleached wheat flour, which is a simple starch found in the American diet. This simple carbohydrate readily converts to sugar.
  • Gluten free foods for example contain rice, corn and potato flours which also readily become simple sugars.
  • Fruit juices and lactose in milk contain sugar.
  • HFC = high fructose corn syrup is a cheap sugar manufactured and found in most soft drinks.

Food manufacturers have been very creative in luring people like yourself into buying packaged foods. Prepared foods often taste so good because of the many different starch/sugars. You eat them and  inevitably want more – creating a sugar craving and addiction cycle. Plus the evidence is now clear: high sugar/carbohydrate intake leads to increase fat storage in the body.

So what can I eat?

There are  many foods without high amounts of sugar, and it’s imperative to know what is in food you are eating. Best policy: avoid all package foods! If you have to travel plan your food ahead – seriously.

Read more:  “Sugars Maybe Killing You”  

What you CAN do:

cashewsI carry nuts and seeds with me. Nut butters (excluding Nutella) are wonderful snacks. Buy your organic veggies, wash and carry cut up carrots, celery, radishes, zucchini and/or some roasted vegetables. All these foods travel well without refrigeration.

Drink water and stop all canned drinks. They all contain some type of sugar or artificial sweetener.

See my recipe blog for more health ideas.

Reducing sugar will improve health and wellness. Sugar, as it is now better understood, is a key player in causing inflammation in the body which is the crux of many chronic diseases today.

Next blog, I will discuss sugar and its association with Alzheimer’s Disease.

Here’s to YOUR health….

cleans

 

Winter Foods for Health

During the cold months we tend to eat less green salads and melons and crave more warming foods. This is a natural progression and eating according to the season makes perfect sense. In Asian cultures this has been in practice for thousands of years. In the early 1980’s I studied with macrobiotic teachers learning about seasonal eating. This education preceded my naturopathic degree, but it still influences how I make nutritional recommendations today. A basic tenet  still heard today is to eat locally grown food. For good environmental reasons and planetary health it’s best to not eat foods shipped 100’s or 1,000’s of miles from  where it’s grown. So mid-winter pineapple and banana are fruits best not consumed. They are cooling foods which deplete our inner heat.

Green vegetables and whole grains are well suited for the colder months in northern climates. If you are living in a warmer climate this is less of an issue, but eating foods grown locally still applies. Warming foods consist of foods grown in the ground like root vegetables like carrot, parsnip, potato, but also cabbage along with squash like butternut and acorn. These plants take longer to grow compared to lettuce and yellow and green summer squashes. Raw foods are more cooling than cooked foods.  In his book Healing with Whole Foods, Paul Pitchford (Third edition 2002) writes how Asian medicine offers another dimension to foods for healing. He states how Traditional Chinese Medicine classifies foods and the treatment of disease according to cooling and warming properties of foods which are prescribed according to the state of the person and whether they are overheated (yang) or deficient (yin).

kale

Green foods for winter include Swiss chard, broccoli, collard greens and brussels sprouts. These slow growing green foods are substantial and support liver function and natural detoxification.

Whole grains are very warming foods by their nature and should be consumed in moderation; vegetables should be the major food substance on your plate. The best warming grains according to Pitchford are: rice, wheat, whole barley, spelt, well-cooked oatmeal, and quinoa.

Oatmeal

 Think of a bowl of steaming hot oatmeal on a cold winter morning.

Another important aspect of good nutrition in winter is taking time to slow down while eating!

  • Chew foods thoroughly 30-40 times per mouthful; liquified food digests the best.
  • Create a positive atmosphere while eating; no multi-tasking! You will digest everything better!
  • Allow 20–30 minutes per meal; take time to enjoy nourishing your body. No rushing!

As a naturopathic physician, I know the mind needs to be calm and positive to receive the  nutrients offered by the food. Bless your food and give thanks for the abundance all around.  Remind yourself when eating you are nourishing a temple:  your body, your mind and your soul. Specific foods are necessary for certain conditions for healing. Contact me at: HealYourLife13@gmail.com for personalized consult.

 

SHIITAKE MISO SOUP

This is a nutrient rich soup because shiitake mushrooms support immune function. Also, miso is full of enzymes with fermenting  bacteria along with vitamins and minerals. It is a stable dish in Japanese cuisine. An easy to prepare soup, this should be eaten regularly for health & wellness.

 

 

 

 

INGREDIENTS:

6 cups water

3 vegetable or chicken broth “cubes”

6 inch piece of kombu (dried seaweed)

1/2 cup miso paste (barley, rice or soy – your choice)

1 Tbsp. toasted sesame oil

1 cup thinly sliced shiitake mushrooms

1 carrot thinly sliced

2 green onions – sliced thinly

1/4 cups chopped cilantro

Bring water, broth cubes and kombu to a boil. Cook for 10 minutes covered. Remove the kombu and slice it thinly.  In a fry pan heat oil on medium heat and sauté  the shiitake and carrots for 2-3 min. Add shiitake and carrots to broth. Add in the sliced kombu.

Cook the soup with a lowered heat for 5 min. Turn off heat and then add miso paste. (do not cook miso – it destroys all the enzymes & bacteria).

Add onions and cilantro to soup as it is served.

Makes 5 servings.

This is adapted from a New Seasons Market recipe.

Dr. Jeanne’s Alkaline Drink

There is a buzz about alkaline diets, alkaline drinks and alkaline water. What is the fuss and is it real?

The truth is that keeping the body in a more alkaline state is healthier. Cells  function better in a more alkaline environment. On a pH scale of 0-14, an acid state exists when a fluid registers below 7.0. Stomach acid, for example, is around 1-2 pH. In a more ideal state we want the fluids around cells to be above 7.0.  Blood in circulation stays in a very tight alkaline range (7.35-7.45) almost always or your body will die.
Classically, in an acidic environment  below 7.0 pH,  more inflammation is present.  Joints feel achy and painful. In very complex interactions of proteins and enzymes the balance of particles that are dissolved in body fluids directly influence the pH.
Why is pH important? More research is clearly showing increased cancer rates, heart disease rates and chronic diseases are associated with acid state inside the body. The great news is what we eat can change our alkaline and acid states.

What You Can DO:

  • Drink water instead of soda pop and caffeinated beverages. Try Dr. Jeanne’s Alkaline Drink.
  • Eat a higher percentage of fruits and vegetables; the by products create an alkaline environment inside the body.
  • Consume smaller amounts of dense protein like meat, fish and eggs.
  • Reduce all sugary foods.

Fact: sugars increase an acid environment in the body.

Dr. Jeanne’s Alkaline Drink will support an alkaline environment.

Recipe:lime

32 oz purified water

1/4 cup lime juice

1 tsp. grated fresh ginger

1 tbsp. honey or maple syrup to taste.ginger

Blend for 1 minute or shake vigorously in a glass jar.

Drink through out the day.

 

Health is up to you and an alkaline environment is a great step into wellness.

Good Health – Good Liver

The liver is the body’s filtration and reprocessing system. Its primary job is changing chemicals in the many forms found in food (pesticides, fertilizers), water (solvents), air (pollutants), environment etc, into water soluble substances that can then  be readily eliminated by the kidneys and/or through the digestive system.

There are numerous complex biochemical steps performed by the liver, one of which is called glucaronidation. This important biochemical step takes potentially toxic material and changes it so it can be eliminated. Glucaric acid the needed substance in this action  but the question is what is enough?  Healthy function of the mighty liver is essential for long term wellness. Researcher Dr Thomas Slaga reports that epidemiologic studies have shown a positive correlation between higher glucarate levels and reduced risk of cancer. The research was done at the AMC Cancer Research Center, Denver, CO  Read more...

liver-health-tips

Where do you find this chemical? You guessed it – fruits and vegetables. The highest amounts are found in apples, grapefruit, cherries and apricots. Brussel sprouts, broccoli and alfalfa sprouts are the best vegetable sources of calcium d’glucarate.
Some individuals may require high amounts and supplementation; they should seek the guidance of a trained provider like a naturopathic doctor.

Join Dr. Jeanne in her cooking class April 7th: “Cleansing Foods for Health and Vitality” and learn more about eating foods to protect the liver. Register here.

 

Strong Bones… is Strontium an answer?

Is there another way to keep bones strong as we age? Media outlets  and medical education exposes us mostly to calcium as the essential bone ingredient for a healthy skeleton and strong bones, but there is much more to this story.  I want to introduce you to the mineral strontium.
  Many of us have heard of this element often associated with radiation like “strontium 90”.  It is NOT the same.
Strontium is known as a trace element and found in soil and sea water – naturally. It actually uses the same biochemical pathway for absorption as calcium which is a problem. It actually competes with calcium. So with the American diet so high in dairy (calcium), strontium does not have a chance. One would think that since Americans consume so much dairy, diseases like osteoporosis would be non-existent. But not so!

The health of bones has more to do the connective matrix tissue which is the inner bone structure.  This is where elemental strontium is needed.  In the Japanese culture, rates of osteoporosis  are considerably lower than in western cultures with a high dairy diet. Strontium and other trace minerals are high in the sea food diet of the Japanese. Makes sense right?

Studies as far back as the 1950’s have demonstrated the value of strontium.  In a 2012 research review strontium is clearly associated with signaling the bone tissue by helping to increase bone formation. Bone Study 

I have done my research on this subject using non commercial resources and the facts are there.  We do not know the quality of the soil our food is grown today; likely many commercial farming soils are depleted of trace mineral like strontium.

Since RDA’s (Recommended Daily Allowance) have never been established on strontium, there are no clear recommendations on how much to take.  Elson Haas M.D. in his nutrition textbook: Staying Healthy with Nutrition , (Celestial Arts, 2006) states food intake may supply us with 2 mg per day. (p224)

I recommend  men and especially women over 60 have a bone mineral test done. It is foolish to wait for a bone to fracture to determine that bone loss has occurred.   Osteoporosis is more common in women due to  less dense bone structure. Women with smaller frames will be subject to losses of the bone matrix sooner because they start out with less density.  If there is any bone loss, consider this element as a supplement.  A key fact here is to NOT take strontium along with calcium supplements or high calcium foods. It won’t be absorbed very well. Taking strontium can prevent serious bone fractures in our later years.

Of course exercise is another very important activity to keep bones strong, but I have seen women who exercise and have exercised for many years develop osteopenia (early bone loss) or osteoporosis (severe bone loss).

Strontium should be purchased from a reputable company and supplied in the citrate form.  Contact me for specific details on this potentially serious matter.

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