Friday, September 30, 2011

Tofu - Healthy and Delicious (if you make it so...)

I began eating a fair bit of tofu after reading David Servan-Schreiber's Anticancer book. I trust him, because his book is incredibly well researched and he walks the talk. Once I began experimenting with different ways to marinate the tofu I learned to really enjoy it as well. Tofu was discovered over 2000 years ago in China, were it was called doufu. Legend has it, that a cook added seaweed nigari to soy milk and caused it to curdle - voila! Today you can get tofu in various consistencies, from soft or silken to extra-firm. Tofu is very bland, which makes it incredibly versatile and therefore it's up to you to make it tasty. My downstairs neighbors gave me an excellent tip: cut the tofu in slabs, wrap it in a dry cloth and place some weight on it for 20 min to get the moisture out. This will make the tofu more absorbent, allowing it to take on more of the flavor of the marinade. Tofu can also be frozen in the original package, which will alter the consistency and appearance, making it more spongy and absorbent as well as a bit more yellow.
Tofu is an excellent source of protein, with virtually no saturated fats and relatively few calories. On top of that, tofu provides many health benefits. It can help lower LDL Cholesterol levels by as much as 35%-40% and helps other parts of your cardiovascular system run smoothly. For women going through menopause, soy can help alleviate some of the symptoms like hot flashes. Soy contains phytoestrogens, which are basically plant based hormones. In premenopausal women, whose estrogen levels are erratic, these phytoestrogens can dock onto estrogen receptors and act like very, very weak estrogens. When estrogen levels are high, they block out estrogen and when levels are low, they can provide just enough estrogen to reduce uncomfortable symptoms.
While there is an overwhelming amount of research that outlines the numerous health benefits of soy, there has also been some concerns. It seem clear at this point that eating soy is healthy, so long as you are not allergic or have a soy intolerance. The question is, how much is too much. I would suggest that eating everything soy, from soy milk, to soy yogurt, to tofu and soy cheese may be a bit much. But eating tofu on a regular basis is a great way to enjoy a more plant based diet. As a society, we are eating too much meat, and it's not just detrimental to our health but the environmental footprint of this enormous meat consumption is also wrecking havoc.

For more info on tofu, check out
And check out this link, where some of the concerns you may have regarding soy are addressed:

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Green Tea

Have some Green Tea! It's good for you! My grandmother has been drinking a lot of green tea for a long time and she's always told me that it's healthy. But it wasn't until I read the Anticancer book that I learned why it is healthy and began to appreciate it. Green tea contains catechin polyphenols, particularly epigallocatechin gallate-3 or EGCG, which is a powerful antioxidant. It inhibits the growth of cancer cells, it reduces the growth of new blood vessels which are needed for tumor growth and metastases and facilitates the death of cancer cells by apoptosis (natural cell death). It activates enzymes in the liver that eliminate toxins from the body and lowers LDL cholesterol levels. It also inhibits the abnormal formation of blood clots (thrombosis), which is the leading cause of heart attacks and stroke.
Japanese green teas such as sencha, gyokuro and matcha contain the most amounts of EGCG. In order for the beneficial catechins to be released the tea must be steeped for at least 8 minutes, ideally 10 minutes. Try to drink at least two to three cups of green tea a day, but always drink it within an hour of making it. Otherwise it will loose its beneficial properties.


Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Lemon Pepper Fish

For the longest time I had no idea how to cook fish. I really had no idea how to cook, in general, but even when I started to take some cooking baby steps I didn't cook much fish because I didn't know how to prepare it. Looking back now, I think that was pretty silly, after all, I just needed to look at a recipe and give it a shot! That's really all it takes when it comes to cooking and now we have thousands of recipes at our fingertips online.
Not long ago I wrote about a student of mine, who told me he wanted to learn more about nutrition and cooking because he was aware that he was not feeding his body well enough. I've been trying to think of an easy recipe ever since, which he'd be able to make and that would be a healthy meal. Well, I decided that tonight's meal, really wasn't that hard to make and so I am going to challenge Francois to make it on his own. Here it goes:

The Meal: A salad, some white fish and rice. Bonus points for Zucchini!

Servings: 2 (Francois plus date)


1 Zucchini - medium/large sliced length-wise
Lettuce or a small box of baby greens
3 Tomatoes - Sliced
2 green onions - Chopped
Salad Dressing - See Flo's Notoriously Delicious Salad Dressing
White Fish of your choice
2 Cups of brown rice
1 Lemon
Olive oil


Start out by getting the rice going and just follow the instructions of the rice you buy. A general rule for 2 cups of rice would be to combine it with 4 cups of water (or broth for more flavor) and bring it to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer with a lid on until the liquid is absorbed.
Place the fish in a bake pan or ceramic dish and pre-heat oven to 450 F.
Take the lemon and rasp some of the rind over the fish, then squeeze half of the lemon juice over the fish as well. Pour a little olive oil over fish and add salt and pepper. Bake fish for about 15 min, then switch to broil and let the fish crisp a little (you'll have to keep a close eye on it at this point to avoid burning it!).
Slice the Zucchini length wise and place the slices in a pan with olive oil. Add salt and pepper, and fry on both sides. You can add a little bit of soy sauce here to give more flavor.
The green onions, tomatoes and lettuce are for the salad and with the salad dressing it's worth making enough for several days while your at it.

Good luck, and enjoy!

Monday, September 19, 2011

TED Talk: What's wrong with what we eat.

I watched this TED talk yesterday and I think it's a perfect follow up to the recent discussion about organic food, farming practices etc. So here you go, I highly recommend this 20 min. video. Enjoy!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

What does "Organic" mean anyway?

I got a comment in response to yesterday's post, which I am always really excited about. It let's me know that I am not just sending text into cyberspace, which no one reads, plus I like the dialog. I also just came back from a dinner with some friends and there was some discussion about the topic of organic food. The contention seems to be mostly about the price of organic food and what really justifies such a mark-up. As Josh pointed out very much correctly in his comment yesterday, just because something is labelled organic doesn't mean it has no chemicals in it. In other words, there is no guarantee that organic food is 100% chemical and pesticide free.
The question on the mark-up of organic products is, in part, one of volume. It is difficult for organic products, which make up a fairly small portion of the market, to compete with products grown or produced in big industrial-style agriculture. When I left Europe 9 years ago, organic products were only marginally more expensive than conventional products, the selection was big and the products were available in almost all stores. I believe we are almost two decades behind Europe when it comes to this trend and we're just not quite at the volume were organic products can compete with conventional ones. We are close, in some markets in the US organic products are close to half the price they are here in BC.
When considering if eating organic really makes a difference in the amount of chemicals you get exposed to, it is important to realize that you cannot eliminate all pollutants. But consider this, in 2003 Cynthia Curl, PhD, a researcher at the University of Washington conducted a study in which she analyzed the urine of 42 children aged 2 to 5 for traces of organochlorine pesticides (the most commonly used pesticides). The parents were asked to write down exactly what they gave their children to eat and drink for 3 days. Their diet was considered 'organic' if at least 75% of their food was labelled organic. On the other hand, their diet was considered 'conventional' if their food was at least 75% non-organic. The results showed that the levels of pesticides in the urine of the children on the organic diet was below the maximum acceptable level (as determined by the Environmental Protection Agency). It was also about 1/6 of the level seen in the children eating the conventional diet. Those children, in fact, had levels that were four times the maximum acceptable level. So, clearly eating organic does have an effect on the amount of toxic chemicals that go through your body. That same study was backed up by another study at the same University and similar results have been shown by studies done in Europe as early as 1986.
But 'organic' isn't only about our health, it's also about sustainable farming practices and the health of our soil and water. As David Servan-Schreiber, M.D., Ph.D. writes in his book Anitcancer: "Many politicians believe that pesticides promote agricultural productivity, although there is very little hard data to support this belief. Some argue that relying on conventional agricultural chemicals protects the economic activity and jobs in farming areas. It also preserves the interests of the chemical industry."
It simply isn't sustainable to continue to dump ever increasing amounts of synthetic chemicals onto our soil. So, while our wallets may bleed still, we are sending a message as consumers and creating a demand for products that are grown in more responsible and sustainable ways. As for growing your own food and buying locally, either directly from local farms or at farmers markets, I not only whole heartedly support that, I think it's the way of the very near future. I recommend a book by Canadian economist Jeff Rubin called "Why Your World Is About To Get A Whole Lot Smaller" which deals with the end of available, cheap oil and the consequent end of globalization. I believe we will soon rely much more on fields closer to home, rather than those half way across the globe. Just one more reason to treat those fields well.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Eating Organic

The production of synthetic chemicals, among them pesticides, has gone from 1 million ton in 1930 to over 200 million tons today. The amount of pesticides and chemical food additives we are exposed to regularly is staggering. Yet it's easy to forget and not think about. After all these chemicals are odorless, tasteless, have no color and there is not simple way for us to detect them in our food. But ignoring it, doesn't make it go away. In the US researchers have identified 148 toxic chemicals in the blood and urine of people or all ages. And it's not just pesticides that end up in our food, as Dr. Wentz writes in his book The Healthy Home "Every time you eat meat you are likely drugging yourself with antibiotics". In 2008 the US used 35 million pounds of antibiotics, and 70 % of that went to cows, chickens and pigs that we eat. These are the same antibiotics used on humans, which decreases their effectiveness. So eating organically raised meat is very important. If you find that to be a bit expensive, cutting back on your meat consumption might not be such a bad thing anyway. A long term study of 91,000 nurses over twelve years showed that the risk of breast cancer for those who ate red meat more than once a day was twice as high as for those who ate it less than three times a week.
I understand that eating all organic is an ideal, which is impossible to achieve for most people. I know I can't afford to eat 100% organic, so had to do some research to find out which food is most contaminated and therefore important that I buy organic. There are many lists of most contaminated foods available online that can help you decide what to buy organic and what foods are less contaminated. One of these resources is the Environmental Working Group ( who developed the "Dirty Dozen" and the "Clean Fifteen" (

The Dirty Dozen are foods that are most likely to test positive for pesticides and are highly contaminated. As an example, peaches have been treated with more chemicals than any other produce. Tests have shown combinations of 57 different chemicals.
The Clean Fifteen are vegetables and fruits that are least likely to test positive for pesticides and generally show less contamination.

The Dirty Dozen:

Nectarines - Imported
Grapes - Imported
Sweet Bell Peppers
Blueberries - Domestic
Kale/Collard Greens

The Clean Fifteen:

Sweet Corn
Sweet Peas
Cantaloupe - Domestic
Sweet Potatoes

Friday, September 16, 2011

Cream of Broccoli Soup

Cream Of Broccoli Soup

Servings: 4


1 cup Broccoli - chopped
2 Carrots - chopped
1/2 cup Cashews
3 stalks Celery - chopped
3 cups Chicken Broth
3 cloves Garlic - crushed
1 tbsp Italian Seasoning
3/4 teaspoon dried rosemary
1 Onion
2 Potatoes or Yams - chopped
2 cups fresh Spinach
2 tbsp Tomato Paste
2 Tomatoes - chopped


In a large pot cook garlic, celery, onions, and rosemary using olive oil until onions are softened (about 5 minutes).
Add potatoes (or Yams) and 2 cups of broth. Bring to a boil and then lower heat. Cook for about 8 - 10 minutes with the lid on to cook the potatoes.
In a blender grind the cashews to a powder, add 1 cup of broth and blend until it is a smooth cashew milk.
Add the tomatoes and tomato paste, cook for another 5 minutes. Add the cashew milk and the broccoli and cook for another 5 min just until the broccoli is done.
Add the spinach and cook until it is just wilted.
Season with salt and pepper to taste.
You can use a Hand Blender to blend the soup to your liking.

Serve and enjoy!

Tofu Lasagna

The following recipe is courtesy of Laura Kalina and Cheryl Christian, who wrote the Low GI Cookbook. To learn more about the glycemic index, low GI eating and more recipes go to

Tofu Lasagna

Makes 6 to 8 servings

3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 zucchini, chopped
2 red bell peppers, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
1 jar (24 oz/700 ml) Italian tomato sauce
1/2 tsp each dried oregano and dried basil
1 cup mushrooms, sliced with stems removed
1 cup low-fat mozzarella cheese, grated
1 pkg (300g) soft tofu
1 pkg (300g) frozen spinach, drained
2 pkgs (300g each) extra firm tofu
1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated

1. Preheat oven to 350°F.

2. In a frying pan over medium-high heat, add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and sauté zucchini,
peppers, onion and garlic until onions are transparent.

3. In a large bowl combine tomato sauce, oregano, basil, and mushrooms.

4. In another bowl, mix soft tofu with spinach.

5. Slice extra firm tofu into 1/8-inch to 1/4 -inch slices to act as lasagna noodles.

6. Oil a 9 x 13 inch lasagna pan with the remaining olive oil. Pour a thin layer of tomato sauce on the bottom. Add a layer of tofu as you would lasagna noodles. Top with some of the spinach mixture and then some grilled vegetables. Sprinkle some mozzarella on top.

7. Repeat until all ingredients are used (you will have 2 or 3 layers). Top with remaining mozzarella and lastly sprinkle with parmesan cheese.

8. Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Vitamin D - Ancient Substance, New Research.

I mentioned yesterday that there are Vitamin D receptors everywhere in our bodies, and that includes the brain. This is where, through the presence of Vitamin D, serotonin is released. Serotonin makes you happy, therefore the sun makes you happy! What some of the most recent research into Vitamin D has uncovered is that "[Vitamin D] can reduce the risks of heart attacks by as much as 50%; decrease the risks of cancers of the breast, colon and prostate by a similar amount; reduce infectious diseases, including influenza, by as much as 90%; combat both type-1 and type-2 diabetes; diminish the risk of dementia and associated neurological dysfunctions; and dramatically impede the incidence of multiple sclerosis and other autoimmune diseases."*
When it comes to cancer, there is now enough research linking Vitamin D, sunlight and cancer, to include Vitamin D not only in prevention but also in treatment protocols. A recent study found that post-menopausal women who took 1,100 IU per day of Vitamin D and 1,500 mg per day of calcium lowered their risk of dying from ANY cancer by over 66%! Another study found the risk of breast cancer spreading was 94% higher for those women who were Vitamin D deficient when they were diagnosed. As mentioned in previous posts, Vitamin D is stored and can be activated anywhere, anytime. When the vitamin becomes active it takes part in two very important anticancer processes. It induces apoptosis, which is cell-suicide (that's a good thing, all cells are supposed to die, cancer cells don't and need to be reminded) and it inhibits new blood vessels from forming that would feed cancerous growths.
There also is a strong correlation between latitude and heart attacks, the further away from the equator you live, the higher your risk of heart attack. Also, in Northern Latitudes heart attacks surge by 53% in the winter when sunlight and Vitamin D levels are at the lowest. In the tropics, however, the rate of heart attacks is constant throughout the year. Vitamin D reduces blood pressure, is an anti-inflammatory agent and it's ability to stimulate your cardiovascular function is as good as aerobic exercise!
In terms of immune support it is becoming clear now that Vitamin D is vital. Many researchers are now saying that seasonal infections such as colds and influenza have much less to do with higher seasonal viral activity, but are the cause of decreased levels of Vitamin D! In another recent study supplementation with 2,000 IU per day of Vitamin D, compared with the formerly recommended dose of 400 IU per day, resulted in a 90% reduction of upper respiratory tract infections!
Alright, I think I have thrown around enough stats for today. Let's talk about how much Vitamin D you should take. I hope that by now you are sufficiently convinced that both sunlight and Vitamin D supplementation is absolutely critical! In fact my fiancée Jenna recently decided, after reading all of this new information about Vitamin D, to call it Vitamin Duh! because knowing all of this you'd be silly not to take it!
I'd like to clarify to you at this point that pretty much all Daily Recommended Intake values for vitamins and minerals are based on preventing acute deficiency conditions and NOT on providing optimal health. Health Canada increased their recommendations for Vitamin D, just last year, from 200 IU per day to 600 IU per day and that's really still just barely enough to prevent rickets! To put these recommendations into perspective for you, consider this: Full body exposure to strong sunlight (when the sun is high in the sky) for 15 to 30 minutes, enough to make the skin turn a little pink (but not burn!) will provide the body with 15,000 - 20,000 IU of Vitamin D. The following is a chart that can provide you with some guidance in terms of the about to take. Following my Naturopath's recommendations I take 10,000 IU per day. Keep in mind that the best source of Vitamin D is the sun! But anyone living outside of the tropics must supplement with this important nutrient!

*Lyle MacWilliam, MSc, FP - Nutrisearch Comparative Guide to Nutritional Supplements.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Vitamin D - What it does in our bodies

Vitamin D is produced in the skin when it is exposed to UVB rays in a process that begins with the conversion of a precursor of cholesterol. Without going into the actual biological processes here, you could just think of it as photosynthesis of the skin. We do store Vitamin D in our fat cells and it is released in the winter months, given we allow our bodies to produce such quantities. The sunshine vitamin is present in different parts of the body and in various forms. Calcitriol is the form of active Vitamin D that circulates throughout the body and is in charge of regulating the metabolism of calcium. See, for most people the problem isn't not getting enough calcium, the problem is that they don't have enough Vitamin D to use the calcium they get and their acidic diet leaches a lot of calcium out of their bodies.
What has been more recently discovered is that there are Vitamin D receptors in every part of our body and this Vitamin, which also acts as a hormone, is involved in a whole lot more than just dealing with calcium. Dr. Micheal Holick, author of The Vitamin D Solution writes "If you had to choose a single nutrient that would help you ward off disease, cancer, diabetes, obesity, demintia, influenza, bacterial infection, depression, insomnia, muscle weakness, fibromyalgia, osteomalacia, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoporosis, psoriasis, multiple sclerosis, and hypertension, it would be vitamin D" !

Pretty impressive I think! More on that tomorrow, and also we'll talk about how much to take in supplement form.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Vitamin D History 101

Vitamin D is key in the metabolism of calcium. In fact the migration of early marine life onto land was only possible because Vitamin D made the development of strong bones possible, which could support mammals on land. Really the origins of Vitamin D can be traced back over 750 million years to single cell organism, however in terms of human history it has played a vital role all along. Our hunter-gatherer ancestors have always been exposed to strong sunlight and the darker complexion of peoples that live closer to the equator are testament to this history. In fact if you have darker skin and live north of 37 degrees latitude you really aren't able to make enough Vitamin D (in which case you need to supplement). The Neanderthal's demise may very well have had to do Vitamin D deficiency as well. Their bow-legged bone structure and stooped posture was a sign of severe calcium imbalances likely due to Vitamin D deficiency.

In more recent times, it was during the Industrial Revolution when more and more people began living in big smoggy cities, seeing less and less sun. At the turn of the 20th century it was discovered that sunlight caused the skin to produce Vitamin D, it was estimated that close to 80% of kids living in Northern Europe and the Northeastern United States suffered from rickets, which is a bone deforming disease. Heliotherapy (exposing people to sunlight) became increasingly popular and was prescribed for the treatment of rickets, tuberculosis and psoriasis. And although it worked, it fell out of favor and instead the use of antibiotics, vaccinations and other drugs were heavily promoted. During the 1960s the pharmaceutical industry began to shift public perception, regarding the risk of skin-cancer and premature wrinkling due to sun over-exposure. All of a sudden we began to think of the sun as "bad"! It should be noted that it has been known since 1937 that, yes, over exposure to strong sunlight can increase the risk of skin cancer (generally easily treatable), but that UV sunlight can actually protect you from many more, and much more deadly cancers. Non-melanoma skin cancer has a death rate of 0.5%, while internal cancers such as colon and breast cancer can have death rates of 20%-65%. In fact there is even evidence that increased sun exposure can increase survival rates for melanoma, which is a more deadly form of skin cancer!

I hope you are getting the point, Vitamin D is absolutely vital for good health and sunlight is not bad! Sunlight has always, since the beginning of time, been essential for life and it is still today vital for our well being. Sunscreen with SPF 30 will eliminate 99% of your skin's ability to manufacture Vitamin D. If you give yourself 15 to 30 minutes of strong full body sunlight, when the sun is highest in the sky, you will have plenty of Vitamin D! The rest of the time, you can moderate your exposure by covering yourself and wearing a hat. Just don't let your skin burn.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Vitamin D - we should all worship the sun!

I was reading about all the new research on Vitamin D in the NUTRISEARCH Comparative Guide to Nutritional Supplements (I know, it doesn't sound like a riveting read, but that's exactly what the first two chapters about Vitamin D are, they are riveting!) and I couldn't help but chuckle at humanity's recent ridiculous blunder. Let me explain. For most if not nearly all of human history, we have worshiped the sun. The ancient Egyptians knew about the health benefits of the sun and so did many other cultures. There are medical texts dating as far back as 1500 BC that speak of sun exposure therapies. After all, the sun has been part of life on this planet since life began. But over the past 50 years we have managed to actually give the sun a bad reputation. The discovery that overexposure to the suns UV rays can cause skin cancer was used to launched a massive campaign to get people to cover themselves with sunscreen. This in addition to an increasingly indoor lifestyle has lead to Vitamin D shortcomings of astronomical proportions. The health implications are both vast and tragic.

Over the next few days I will write about Vitamin D, so if you read this blog on your laptop, read it outside in the sun and let your skin make some of this incredible stuff!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Dairy-free (but incredibly delicious) Alfredo Pasta

This is an absolute favorite of mine and Jenna and I have made this for many people who could have sworn it had cream in it. We use tofu and rice pasta and so it fits the bill for many allergies and food sensitivities. I would like to thank Noelle and Kris for introducing us to this meal! Here it goes:


2/3 cup Cashews
1 1/3 cup broth
2 cup sliced mushrooms
1 block of extra firm tofu or 2 chicken breasts
450 g of rice pasta (or regular pasta if gluten and wheat are of no concern)
Olive Oil
2 Garlic Cloves
1/2 cup of fresh Basil, chopped
Salt / Pepper


Blend the cashews dry until they are a fine powder (you may have shake the blender a little while you do this to prevent the cashews from sticking to the bottom). Stop the blender and scrape the bottom, then add 1/3 cup of broth and blend again for about 1 minute. Then add the rest of the broth and blend for another minute.
It helps to marinate the tofu before and I usually use italian seasoning, olive oil, salt, pepper and garlic for the marinade. When marinating tofu, cut the block of tofu into slabs, wrap them in cloth and place a bit of weight on it (about 5 lbs). This will squeeze some of the water out of the tofu and allow it to absorb the marinade better.
Sauté the tofu (or chicken) in a large pan for 5 minutes, then add the mushrooms and the garlic and sauté until the mushrooms and are nearly done. Add the cashew milk from the blender and continue to stir. Brining the cashew sauce to a light boil will thicken the sauce. You can add more broth if need be.
Finally add the chopped basil just before taking it off the stove and serving it with the pasta.


Taking a thousand little steps to lead...

Last night I was in the communal kitchen of the Clearwater Bible Camp, which is home base for two White Water Kayaking courses that are part of the Adventure Guide Program at TRU right now. One of my students was cooking rice and heating beef stroganoff out of cans, when he confessed that in terms of cooking this was a stretch for him. In fact, as he closely monitored the rice and managed two pots he said it was the most stressful thing he had done in a while. This student happens to be an incredibly talented boater with over 120 days in his Kayak this year alone, who runs 60 foot waterfalls and steep creeks! I told him that when I was a student in the Adventure Program I made a lot of meals that go on bread. I've come a long way in my cooking and it's taken a lot of little steps.
I've had an incredible week here in Clearwater, teaching the Kayak III course. In my evolution as a teacher I've taken a lot of little steps as well. It has been wonderfully rewarding to teach this course, which is a Kayak Instructor course. I've been challenged in so many ways, I have learned a lot and yet it also feels like an accomplishment to be here. I always enjoy working with Sharman, our friendship has grown over the years and in terms of kayaking and teaching he's been both a teacher and a mentor to me. So working with him and being able to contribute to the course is great.
But I was talking about food and cooking. Sharman and I have been eating an incredibly healthy diet this week and in a way that's felt like an accomplishment as well. First of all I wondered if I'd be able to keep up eating healthy on this courses as the field course season approached. And I was grateful when Sharman told me he was on board with eating "the way I do", which is mostly vegetarian (one salmon dish this week) and quite different from the BBQ'ed meat with a salad every night that had been the norm on these courses. And that has also felt like a bit of an accomplishment, the fact that I've inspired a friend to try my food and then to have planned and cooked meals that have been filling, healthy and incredibly delicious.
Once I am back I have some catching up to do, in terms of blog posts, so get ready for some recipes!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Dairy Myth Buster

Growing up you may have been told how important it is to drink milk. If your mom didn't tell you, the dairy industry certainly did. Especially in more recent years, it seems there is an incredible amount of celebrities and athletes asking us if we are 'getting enough milk'. These people are probably told that they are saving the world by promoting milk consumption. After all, milk is a source of calcium and that is what we need for healthy bones! The message is pretty clear: Your crazy not to drink milk, if you are not drinking milk you should probably be really worried about your bones and if you are drinking it then you should still be worried and probably drink more!

That we should drink milk and generally consume lots of dairy for the entirety of our lives to be healthy is a myth! Let me lay out some facts. 90% of Asians, 70 of Blacks and Native Americans, and 50% of Hispanics are lactose intolerant and those people aren't all crippled by rickets and wasting away. The whole notion that a certain amount of dairy is 'enough' is probably based on the amount of calcium present in milk and in reference to the recommended daily intake of calcium. To begin with, milk isn't even as good a source of calcium as it's made out to be. In fact vegetables, especially alkalizing ones, are a much better source of calcium than milk. Arugula, for example, provides over 5 times more calcium per 100 calories than milk. See, if you come pair milk with vegetables in terms of calories, milk comes in near the bottom of the list. Now, if you argue that you would have to eat rediculous amounts of arugula in order to meet the required amount of calories (and calcium), consider the fact that people who eat a plant based diet eat the same amount of calories as a person who consumes dairy products. Also, a cup of broccoli has the same amount of calcium as a cup of milk.

In order to digest milk our bodies produce acids. These acids have to be buffered with calcium, which is taken from the bones. So even though milk provides the body with some calcium, it is cancelled out by the loss due to acid production. You see, osteoporosis is not a result of 'not getting enough' calcium. It is the result of loosing it.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Fact vs. Fiction

Brian Klemmer wrote a book called The Compassionate Samurai. He passed away this year and I am sad to have never met him. I am grateful, however, that I was able to take some of the leadership seminars he developed through his company Klemmer & Associates ( One of the lessons I learned through taking their classes was to differentiate between fact and fiction.
In life, all kinds of stuff happens to us. I am talking about all the life events, small to big, they undeniably happened to us. For example, my parents got divorced and subsequently spent 10 years fighting each other ferociously, often screaming at each other over the phone. This happened. It is a fact.
Since they were fighting about me I felt that it was my fault and that I wasn't good enough because if I was somehow good enough they wouldn't be fighting about me. While this happened as well, it only happened in my head. It's a story I made up. This is fiction.
How can we test this hypothesis? Well, we could go to other people who witnessed these fights and ask them how they were affected. We would hear a different story from every single person. That means, the event was not responsible for the story, the person was.
There are millions of other examples I could give you, maybe you can even think of one for yourself. Maybe someone told you something today and "it" stressed you out all afternoon. Well, that this person told you whatever they told you, is an undeniable fact. But the meaning you attached to that fact, is completely made up. By you!
Think about it! Say you lost your job. That's a fact, it clearly happened. You felt rejected and you got angry at your boss because you felt that he did not value your contribution and now you feel sorry for yourself because of what he did to you! See all of that is fiction, it's made up, it only goes on in your head! And we know that this is true because someone else might loose that same job and react and feel totally different about it!
What is the benefit of knowing this? Well, it opens up two options for us. The first one is that we can chose how we react to these events. And because that is sometimes easier said than done, the second option is that we can at least take responsibility for our own made up stories, emotions and reactions.

Food for thought.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Health vs. Flavor

I had a conversation at work today, about eating really healthy meals. I was talking to the store manager Kelly and the department manager Mark. Kelly, who is also a chef, and I were talking about recipes when mark joined the conversation. He expressed his desire to eat healthy but said he wasn't really willing to give up flavor. I could relate to that because I remember when Jenna's sister Noelle first went to the Naturopath because of migraines, she went on a very restricted diet. I remember thinking that, it must just be horrible eating like her and that it certainly meant giving up all flavor.
A few years later, we now eat with very similar restrictions and I can honestly say that we eat amazing meals all the time! I am going to try to post a few more recipes in the coming weeks and hopefully you'll give them a try. I promise you, I will only put recipes on this blog that are among our favorites, really tasty and very healthy.

Today was a big day so this is all I got....