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Loving God more. Loving others more. Living obediently in Christ.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

AVOCADO! Reducing fat in cooking for health.

I have been using avocado like it's going out of style.  When I make a salad dressing, the oil in the recipe gets replaced by half of a ripe avocado.  Smoothies take on an extra special smoothie-ness with an avocado.  Baked goods like corn bread, muffins, rolls and cookies (sweetened naturally with honey, of course) are super moist and bind well when I add an avocado and ground flax seed to replace the oil and egg in the recipe. 

Avocado can get a bad wrap at times because of its fat content; however, when used as a whole food, avocado has many fantastic health benefits.  This Mercola.com article lists many beneficial nutrients such as potassium, fiber, vitamins B and E, folic acid and many more.  While being rich in nutrients, it also has been shown to have protective and restorative properties for the liver as well as cancer fighting properties.  Don't use processed avocado oil, unless you put it on your skin!  There are many great phytochemicals to benefit from when you eat the whole food!

But wait, there's more!  Avocado does not need to be organic to be healthy!  You can buy conventionally grown avocados and not worry about pesticides.  The fruit's thick skin is like a coat of armor against pests.  It isn't armor for people, though!  When cutting open an avocado, use a sharp knife to divide it from stem to blossom end all the way around the pit.  Twist and pull into two halves.  To free the retained pit from one of the halves, just use your sharp knife to "karate chop" into the pit.  Now rotate the knife and the pit is free.  Just use a big spoon and scoop out the avocado flesh.   

I have a dressing and guaca-salsa recipe to share with you at the bottom of this post, but I also thought it would be good to post this little video from the Mercola article mentioned above.  Before the video, I never thought to combine coconut cream with avocado to make a whipped topping!

Avocado Uses and Health Benefits

Balsamic Vinaigrette ~ my favorite dressing!
1/2 cup water
1/2 ripe avocado
1/4 cup Balsamic vinegar
2-3 cloves fresh garlic
2 T honey or maple syrup
1 T raw apple cider vinegar
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
1 tsp salt
1 T dehydrated sweet red bell pepper or 1/2 red pepper roasted and peeled

Put all ingredients into a blender and blend at high speed until smooth and has a creamy texture.  The size of your avocado may require you to add more water in order to thin the dressing to desired consistency, up to 1/2 cup more water.  Store in air tight container and refrigerate.  This keeps for several weeks in the refrigerator.

This next recipe is not original to me.  A friend made up something similar one day to bring to a pot luck lunch.  It went well with all of the other fresh foods that we ate in combination.  It makes a great salad topping and substitute for dressing.  It is also amazing on oat burgers, bean burgers and veggie tacos.
Easy Guac-salsa ~ a great salad or bean dish topping
2 ripe avocados, diced
2 tomatoes, diced
1/2 red onion, chopped in small pieces
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
Juice of 1 large lime
1/2 tsp garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste

Toss ingredients together and serve.  *Spice it up with some chili powder or cayenne if desired.  You can also stir in some cooked quinoa and eat this like a main dish.  

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

A refreshing reminder of why we live the Plant-based life style

Life has been quite busy for me, but our life style has remained unchanged.  We are living in an area where it is necessary to filter our water.  We are using shower filters purchased through mercola.com, which removes the risk of absorbing ground water contaminants as well as chlorine.  We also installed a reverse osmosis water system (gifted to us by a generous family member) under the kitchen sink so that we can have pure drinking water.  I use the water from the RO system for drinking, washing vegetables, cooking and making almond milk.  I try to draw off a gallon at a time and add some unrefined sea salt to it in order to restore some trace minerals back into the water.

Contrary to popular belief, it is possible to interact with people on a social level and still maintain the healthy changes we have incorporated in our lives.  Ethnic restaurants have been the best places to find healthy side dishes to order - baked white or sweet potato, pasta, beans and rice with vegetables, and of course green salads are offered just about anywhere.

Here is a link to a really good video that encouraged me today.  If you can't watch the video, just click the "view transcript" button and read.  Good stuff.

THE LINK  - Carnitine, Choline Cancer and Cholesterol: TMAO Connection

God bless you!  Eat your vegetables!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Still drinking morning green juices!

Don't I look excited?!  It actually tastes pretty good with the fresh garden kale and carrots.
Some really great things have happened since my husband and I started drinking raw green juices.  We use a Hurom slow juicer which works very well to effectively extract the healing plant nutrients from raw green "super foods."  Also, we alternate between juiced greens and smoothies (with a Vitamix).  Whether we have a green juice or smoothie, we always add beneficial herbs to boost the immune system and fight off cancer.  Here is a list of what we put in this juice today:
2 cups chopped kale - organic
2 cups green cabbage
2 organic green apples 
10-12 organic carrots (medium sized)
4-5 stalks organic celery
1/3 organic golden beet
6" piece of cucumber
1 organic lemon, peeled
2 T freshly ground organic flax seed (why and how?)
2 tsp ground coriander (the seed from cilantro) (why?
1 inch piece of ginger root (why?)
1 T organic ground turmeric (why?)
1/4 tsp ground black pepper (why?)

I have mentioned in previous blogs that our health has made a turn-around since eating a plant based diet.  Adam is feeling well after stopping his chemo treatments early to focus on nutrition as a solution to restoring his health.  We both have more energy and mental focus.  I no longer require allergy medicine or any treatment for acid reflux.  But here are a couple of additional things that I haven't mentioned, yet:  My hair went curly (it was straightened before this photo), I no longer require corrective lenses to drive (though I need help with reading glasses in low light or fine print), our cholesterol levels dropped to 150, our blood pressure is normal, we sleep better (except for occasional stress caused by life), we rarely "catch" the communicable illnesses with which we regularly come in contact AND when we feel something coming on we can stave it off with fresh raw garlic.  

There is one thing that has surfaced which has been a progressive problem for me.  My thyroid function now requires some support and has been the cause of many health issues throughout my adult life.  We found a naturopathic physician who was able to help me.  I hope to blog about thyroid in the future; but until then, I will say that it is probably one of the most overlooked and under addressed issue in women's health today.  My understanding of thyroid and the options for the most natural approach to balance are incomplete.  This is a new journey for me and I'm praying for God's direction.  He gives great guidance!

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Mac & Cheese - no soy, no dairy, gluten free, delish!

Before changing to a plant based diet, we used to eat a big pan of mac and cheese every week.  It was comfort food for me.  I felt determined to find a healthy alternative to this family favorite and came up with this recipe that doesn't call for nutritional yeast, soy or other seasoning additives which are high in glutamic acids - which result in a bad case of hiccups or heartburn and indigestion.  See what you think!  I wonder how long before I see a version of this recipe on some other plant based site!  :P

Mac & Cheese plant-based style

24 oz GF brown rice macaroni
3 cups cauliflower, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 onion, chopped
2 cups raw cashews, toasted (toasting is very important for the flavor)
2 T vinegar
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1-2 tsp salt - add to desired taste after blending "cheese" 

Boil macaroni according to directions on package, drain and set aside.  While macaroni is cooking, steam cauliflower, garlic and onion in covered pan with 2-3 cups of water (reserve liquid after cooking).  Once cauliflower is very tender, drain and reserve liquid.  Allow to cool slightly while toasting cashews: In a saute pan, heat cashews until golden - stirring continually to prevent burning.  Remove from heat.  Place cauliflower mixture, cashews and remaining ingredients, except salt, in a high speed blender or food processor.  Add 1 cup of reserved cooking liquid to begin blending.  Add additional liquid to thin "cheese" to desired consistency.  If necessary, add extra hot water.  Blend until very smooth and creamy.   Add 1 teaspoon of salt, taste and add additional salt as desired.  Toss macaroni with "cheese" mixture and serve.  Left overs keep in the refrigerator and heat up well in a microwave or on the stove top with a little almond milk added. 

Sunday, May 4, 2014


 Sprouts! Sprouts! Sprouts!

Grow indoors all year
I have a new garden.  It is indoors and requires no soil, no organic pest control and no direct sun light.  I'm running my very own sprouting garden and I highly recommend that you give it a try if you don't already sprout!  It is always sprouting season - sprout year 'round.

Super economical
If you would like to try it without investing in sprouting equipment, rest assured that anyone can sprout just about anything anywhere at any time.  I recommend starting with beans.  They are large and fun to watch as they sprout very quickly. Lentils are my favorite bean to sprout because they are the smallest type of bean. The above picture is of very poor quality, but you can see my lentil sprouts in the jar on the right in both pictures and spread out on the cutting board in the pile of sprouts on the right side.  These tasty little treats have a mild flavor with a tender crunch.  They are delicious in salads, stir fried with other vegetables, added to soups or blended in smoothies to boost nutrition.  

Easy to digest and absorb - bioavailability
The bowl in the center of the above picture is full of sprouted "chickpeas" or garbanzo beans.  My husband and I have found that garbanzos really give us the toots and lots of discomfort when we eat them.  After I started sprouting at home, I decided to try sprouting garbanzos.  I made a raw humus with them, mixed in some cooked rice, added some curry powder and turned them into bean burgers.  They were delish and we never noticed an increase in gas or discomfort.  Why, you ask?  Dry legumes, grains, nuts and seeds have a natural toxin on their outer coating, causing trouble with digestion and resulting in reduced absorption of nutrients.  The remedy to this problem is to bring them to life!  Nuts, grains, seeds and legumes are a living food in the dormant state.  By soaking them, these wonderful whole foods come to life and begin to transform their dormant energy into fresh phytochemicals for health.  Sprouting causes vitamin A to double and vitamins C and B to increase up to ten fold.  In addition, sprouted foods provide a sort-of pre-digested food because the starches and proteins are broken down to simpler and smaller molecules.  Young children who are being introduced to new foods such as wheat and nuts (which can cause a food allergy) can start with the less threatening sprouted form of these foods and receive even more of the nutritional benefit.  Whole wheat berries should be soaked for at least 7 hours, rinsed and drained before grinding to optimize the food value and reduce the risk of developing a food allergy.        

How to sprout

  • Use a large clean glass jar - 2 quart size is ideal

  • Cover 3-4 Tablespoons of dry lentils with water
  • Allow to soak at least 8 hours (I do this overnight)
  • Drain and rinse lentils, return to jar and rotate jar to spread out the lentils
  • Cover jar with cheese cloth or similar material to allow air flow but protect the lentils from dust or pests.  Use a rubber band to hold the cloth on the jar.
  • Lay the jar on its side away from direct sunlight, slightly tipped to drain any remaining moisture.
  • Rinse lentils 2-4 times daily to keep them moist and free from mold.
  • Allow the sprouts to develop green tops, about 4 days, rinse and store in the refrigerator up to two weeks while you eat them up!

If you like pictures, www.seriouseats.com has a slide show that is a pretty thorough step-by-step tutorial for sprouting. 

Tell me - in the comments section - what foods you like to sprout.  If you try it for the first time, I would love to hear what you think.  This is a super fun project for kids who love to grow what they eat!  


Friday, March 7, 2014

Save your brain with a healthy lifestyle

From mild cognitive impairment to full blown dementia such as Alzheimer's disease, there are several things in common that you can do to protect the health of your brain.  Dr. Neal Barnard covers 8 lifestyle points to consider in the following video from a lecture given at a University of New England Center for a Global Humanities event.

Studies have shown that genetics don't have to dictate disease, but rather lifestyle can dictate or suppress genetic expression.  A poor diet, exposure to toxic substances, lack of sleep or exercise and vitamin deficiencies can influence the expression of genetic predispositions.  However, when healthy lifestyle disciplines are practiced over a majority of a person's lifetime, the potential or genetic risk of disease need never manifest.  In the case of Alzheimer's, diabetes or cancer, the genes that are associated with these diseases are merely "suggestive" genes.  These genes depend on the exposure to poor lifestyle in order to be displayed.

In the case of Alzheimer's disease, the brain develops plaques made up of Beta-amyloid protein, cholesterol and metals such as iron and copper.  The source of cholesterol is animal foods such as meat, dairy, eggs, cheese, etc.  The metals found in the plaque is from food that comes in contact with iron or aluminum cookware and aluminum foil.  Drinking water contains copper when run through copper plumbing pipes, and some municipal water systems add aluminum at the purification plant because aluminum precipitates solids.  Where the aluminum is filtered back out of the water, there is no harm; however, when the aluminum levels  in drinking water exceed 0.11 mg/L, the risk of Alzheimer's disease increases by 50%.  Aluminum is also in baking powder and antiperspirants, but there are aluminum free options for these products.  Metals in the body become oxidized and cause damage to cells, but vitamin E in foods such as nuts, seeds, mangoes sweet potatoes, flax seeds and spinach offer anti-oxidant protection.  A vitamin E supplement may not have all 8 forms of vitamin E which are found naturally in vitamin E rich foods - so don't do the supplement.  Omega 3 fats found in flax seeds and nuts are also protective as an anti-oxidant.  A fantastic source of omega 3 fat, not mentioned in the following video, is an edible herb called purslane.  This is something that you can easily grow in your garden or may even be growing naturally in your yard as it is a common weed.  Check it out at this link - purslane.

Homocysteine is a waste product of the body.  When the level of homocysteine is elevated, it can be damaging to the cardiovascular system and the brain.  No worries, however, if you eat foods that are rich in folate, vitamin B6 and vitamin B12.  Folate is found in green leafy vegetables; B6 is found in legumes or bananas; and B12 in fortified soymilk (B12 should be supplemented on a plant based diet that is soymilk free).

The purple colored anti-oxidant anthocyanin found in foods like grapes, blueberries and blackberries have been found in studies to improve recall and learning in patients with mild cognitive impairment.  In like manor, other colorful fruits and vegetables with their respective anti-oxidant phytochemicals have been shown to have powerful protective benefits for brain health. 

Physical activity protects the brain from shrinkage and improves memory.  The recommendation to achieve this benefit is 40 minutes of brisk walking, three times a week.  Also, knowing a second language has been shown to delay cognitive decline by up to 5 years.  Other mentally stimulating activities are beneficial for brain health.  One option for mental activity is through a web-based human cognitive service available at luminosity.com where you can play brain games to improve memory and cognitive function.

Sleep is important.  The brain needs rest to process the information gathered during the waking hours.  The first half of a person's sleep cycle is used to file away the words and facts from the day and the second half of the cycle is the dream cycle where the brain integrates emotions.  Going to bed by 10 pm will ensure that your brain makes enough melatonin which keeps your sleep cycle unbroken until you have had a complete night's rest.

Medications can affect memory.  Some that are listed in Dr. Barnard's lecture are the following: Midazolam, cholesterol lowering drugs, sleeping medications, antidepressants, antihistamines, anxiety medication, blood pressure medications, acid blockers.  Medicines add up or can work together to cause memory loss, so be mindful of medications when considering your or a loved-ones cognitive impairment.

An interesting Q&A at the end of the video includes a question regarding the fad movement toward eating low carbohydrates (Paleo, Grain Brain or Wheat Belly followers).  Barnard notes that the nations where Alzheimer's used to be rare because of their plant and whole-grain based diets are now experiencing a rise in Alzheimer's due to the influence of the western diet (with high consumption of animal products).  Another question was brought up about coconut oil being a solid at room temperature, thus being a saturated fat.  Barnard feels that coconut oil is not a good oil choice.

I must note that I don't agree with Barnard's evaluation of how mankind evolved to eat meat or grains.  He references Dr. Leaky's explanation of diet transition over the course of human history.  As a Biblical creationist, I would like to share my opinion about the diet of ancient mankind.  According to the Bible, which is the oldest and most accurate account of the human history, God created mankind (Adam and Eve) and gave them the green herbs, legumes, seeds, grains, nuts, fruits and vegetables for food.  That's a plant-based diet and I believe mankind began eating as the Bible describes in Genesis chapter 1.  I find that the Biblical account is logical as the Creator, who designed mankind to process or digest certain food for fuel, with great wisdom also instructed man to consume that food.

In all other regards, this video was very encouraging to me as I continue in the new lifestyle of a plant-based diet.  It has been a fantastic journey toward health and I look forward to sharing some personal testimonies of transformation through diet change in the future.  In the meantime, check out this video!   

Neal Barnard, M.D.: Power Foods for the Brain

  1. Avoid bad fats
  2. Avoid excess metals
  3. Consume vitamin rich foods
  4. Get enough vitamin B12
  5. Get regular physical activity
  6. Engage in mental stimulation
  7. Sleep
  8. Be mindful of medications that affect memory

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Natural Prevention and Relief from Winter Crud

I hope this blog post finds you in good health.  Unfortunately, this is the time of year when many are succumbing to the viruses that invade entire communities.   There are some things you can do to find relief while you fight communicable illnesses like the common cold or flu.

An ounce of prevention . . .
There are signs posted in every medical facility reminding patients to cover their coughs, wash hands, etc., etc.  What about the people who aren't sick?  What can be done to prevent "catching" the crud?  

Coconut oil is anti-microbial and anti-viral.  Try taking it internally to attack viruses that make it into your GI tract.  Put some on a Q-tip and swab the inside of your nose, liberally, to put an anti-viral coating where viruses find easy entrance into the body.  Not only does it prevent illness, but it also soothes dry nasal passages during the heating months of the year.  Finally, use coconut oil to moisturize your skin . . . and provide another layer of anti-viral protection.  Those little viruses are pretty clever and can find their way into your body from every angle.

Eat raw garlic.  Take 1-2 cloves of minced garlic in a small amount of water.  If you like the experience of something hot, then chew your clove of garlic.  Now that will clear your sinuses!  Raw garlic is anti-fungal and anti-bacterial.  It packs a punch and will curb many oncoming illnesses.  Bonus point: raw garlic is at the top of the list of cancer fighting foods.

Eat a plate full of raw green salad everyday.  It's full of antioxidants, friendly bacteria, vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients that boost your body's immune system.  You can't fight the crud if your body is starved of good nutrition.

Don't eat sugar.  It makes the gut acidic which reduces healthy gut flora and results in lowered immunity.  You lose ground in fighting off germs when you eat sugar - weakening your body for up to 6 hours after consumption.
When you feel it coming on . . .   
Take vitamin C.  This sounds rather cliche, but there is evidence that, when the dosage is correct for you, illness can be completely avoided.  The trick is to take doses every 30 minutes until bowel tolerance is achieved.    This website - chrisbeatcancer.com - has a well written article on how to use vitamin C to treat illness from the common cold to cancer and more.  Click here to see Chris Wark's article.  He includes a chart that identifies the proper dosage for each illness that will respond to vitamin C.  Check it out!

When you are hanging on by a thread . . .

Some people may feel that it's just too late and there seems little to do but give in and be sick. 

 I still think it is worth doing the vitamin C thing.
The quality of nutrition is important, too.  Avoiding sugar is paramount! 

Try some home remedies for relief . . .

White Pine needle tea could help, especially with upper respiratory flu.  I posted on this last year, so if you are interested click here.

Another remedy, told to me by a friend with native American heritage, is mullein tea.  I always called this plant "nature's toilet paper" because it has soft leaves and grows in abundance in my part of the country.  The leaves have some powerful herbal benefits.  Five leaves can be steeped in boiling water for 5-10 minutes.  It tastes like green tea.  The benefits are quite numerous: anti-nausea, anti-diarrhea, and expectorant to name the most important.  Of course, the plants are under a few feet of snow this time of year, but if you plan ahead and harvest leaves during the summer, you can dry them and have them ready for such an unfortunate event as the flu.  If you want mullein leaf, it is available online at  Mountain Rose Herbs.

Steaming with a few drops of camphor essential oils can relieve sinus pressure and soothe a nagging cough.  Boil some water and pour it into a wide and shallow pan or bowl.  Drop any, a combination or all of the following into the water: peppermint oil, rosemary oil, thyme oil, cinnamon oil.  Be ready with a towel over your head to take in the first vapors as soon as you drop them in.  You will have to lift your head and take a break from time to time.  These essential oils not only provide a soothing camphor but also benefit in being anti-inflammatory to help with swollen sinus passages.

May God bless you and give you health!