Saturday, March 26, 2011

Water is Vital

The Water Cycle:

All water on Earth is recycled... solar energy initiates vaporization from the Oceans... to create our atmosphere, clouds, rain and snow... returning through land, streams and rivers to the Oceans... We still have the same water that was first created... There is no "new" water... 97% is in the Oceans (saltwater)... 2% is in the frozen glaziers.... and 1% fills all of the fresh water rivers, lakes, streams on Earth. The water that flowed in the Nile River 2,000 years ago could be in your cup of tea tomorrow. All of the water on Earth only weighs 0.02% of the weight of Earth. Our bodies are made of 66 2/3% water.

Drink more water!
And protect our environment to ensure water security to every living thing.

Headaches? Drink water
Nausea? Drink water
Thirst? Drink water
Dry skin? Drink water
Fatigue? Drink water
Muscle cramps? Drink water

Do you really need 8 8 oz. glasses of water a day? Not exactly. 
Eat a diet rich in diverse whole foods and much of your water intake will come from the foods you choose. However, it is critical to listen to your body's signs of thirst and when it is time to drink something, nothing can beat what water has to offer.

Will you lose weight if you increase the amount of water to drink? Not exactly.
Although it might help fill you up, it may also deplete the enzymatic activity needed for good digestion. It has been known to help curb cravings, however, and is certainly better than beverages that act as diuretics or those that have added sugars, thus depleting your body of hydration, adding unnecessary calories and spiking blood sugar.

Whether you are prone to gulping to sipping, the best rule of thumb is to keep water on hand, heed your thirst signals and drink less of the "other stuff".

Friday, March 25, 2011

The Power of Mini Meals

Growing up, the majority of us are taught to eat three filling meals a day. Breakfast usually entails consuming something small; lunch is often something handy, like a sandwich, and supper is customarily a feast where the whole family meets to gorge in an “escapade of osmosis and gluttony”.

For the average American, these three meals, plus in between snacks, adds up to about 2700 calories a day, which if we were extremely active and the calories were nutrient dense, this might be alright. But let's face it... most Americans are not exceptionally active, and a large portion of those calories tend to be empty calories or food items lacking in nutritional density, leaving us hungry for more. 

Thus, our goal should be to maximize the nutrient density of each bite we take, and take less bites overall. Can we achieve this without feeling starved? Absolutely! The trick is to graze throughout the day, as children are inclined to do, on mini meals. Grazing is great for our digestion, and the entire GI tract was designed for it. The stomach only produces so many enzymes with which to break things down. When food is passed without being fully digested, this can cause gastrointestinal irritation, prevent healing nutrients from being absorbed and cause other symptoms, such as acid reflux, dermatitis and diverticulitis.

The size of a meal shouldn't be more than the size of your stomach, in the first place. To help your eyes get a general picture of the size of your stomach, open your fist so that the tips of the thumb and forefinger touch. Your stomach is about the width of this open fist and twice as long. Next time you are about to binge, placing your fist next to your heaping plate, and noticing the mismatch, will help you adjust the size of your next meal. (Compare the tiny fist of a toddler next to a full plate. You can now see why tiny tummies can get upset easily.)

Traditionally, the working class has been conditioned to eat three square meals a day: breakfast, lunch and dinner. This routine was obviously designed for the benefit of work productivity rather than human health. Many of us work from 9 to 5, with only one break to eat at lunch. This maintains a steady work pace with few interruptions, since breakfast and dinner (especially dinner) have been conveniently placed outside working hours. However, the noon to 6 stretch is particularly damaging to our health. It destabilizes oxidization levels, blood sugar levels gets low, which often leads to grabbing a snack, and all too often they are junk food snacks, void of nutritional content. By the time dinner is served, we are starving and we overeat. This taxes the stomach, with not enough digestive enzymes to help break the food down for proper absorption. In today’s day and age, following the "three square meals a day" principle, is not only unnecessary, it’s downright harmful. Our metabolism can only handle a certain amount of calories, carbs, fat, and protein in one sitting.

Logically speaking, since humans are omnivorous, there is no reason why we should follow such a sequential eating pattern where long periods of fasting separate each meal. Just compare the eating habit of an ape (omnivore) to a lion (carnivore). One munches on anything it can find all day, while the other stuffs itself every-so-often after long periods of fasting.

Tips for Transitioning to Mini Meals:

Redistribute. Understand that eating more meals a day doesn't mean more food is being consumed. Following the mini-meal principle simply takes an entire day’s worth of nourishment and redistributes it throughout the day. You’ll end up with meals that are roughly 50-70 calories, 8-15 grams of protein and 8-10 grams of fat 
in each.

Modify Eating Out. Ask for your entrée to be brought with ½ of it in a to-go box. This may be an odd request, but if it’s already set aside, you are less likely to eat your entire meal. Wrap your ½ burrito or sandwich in foil, put it in your bag and enjoy the rest in a hour or so.

Prepare meals in such a way that they do not have to be eaten in one sitting. A steak with mashed potatoes and salad with dressing is a good example of a meal that can't be eaten later on easily or deliciously. Mashed potatoes become grainy, the salad gets soggy and you will somehow have to reheat the steak and potatoes without the salad. Cutting up the steak along with a veggie stir fry with brown rice, however, is an easy way to portion the meal in two parts, one for dinner and another for the next day’s lunch. You still get your carbs, veggies and protein, and it reheats well in a microwave, toaster oven or pan.

Stock your bag or backpack. Food on the go is an incredibly important key to success. Having a stock of apples, trail mix, energy bars, little containers of nut butters and hummus, cut veggies, vegan and meat jerky, dried fruit and mini V-8’s on hand, makes it simple to eat when you are hungry. This helps you consume less junk as well, saving you unnecessary calories from the convenience store, grocery store line, etc.

Keep supplies handy. Keep a little Ziploc baggie full of paper napkins, handkerchiefs, salt/pepper packets and reusable produce bags. It doesn’t take up much room, but whether you need to blow your nose, or have some extra protection from a foil wrapped burrito that you don’t want to leak, you have everything you need right there in your bag. I also keep a little packet of bamboo utensils in my bag. This cuts down on my use of disposables, and they are sustainable and durable.

As stated above, eating smaller meals more frequently stabilizes nutrient oxidization levels, making the body more efficient at burning food, so anybody who wants to lose weight should adopt this eating principle. Eating smaller meals has additional benefits; it is believed to lower blood cholesterol, burn 10% more calories per day, puts less stress on your heart and helps stabilize your blood sugar, which will help you stave off cravings for unhealthy foods, mood swings and headaches which are sometimes caused by insulin surges.

For more tips on how to incorporate mini meals into your lifestyle, 
contact me at

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Fructose and Fiber

"When God made the poison, he packaged it with the antidote." - Robert H. Lustig, MD.

I'm almost embarrassed to say that before hearing this man's lecture on the science behind sugar, I didn't really understand the difference between glucose, sucrose and fructose. I couldn't have answered the question, "What do the Atkin's Diet and the Japanese Diet have in common?" I couldn't have even taken a stab at the answer. The only thing that was obvious to me is that one diet is good for you and one is very bad for you. I see it so clearly now... Both diets have little to no fructose. 

I didn't understand that fructose with equal amounts of fiber is the only way fructose is NOT a toxin. Whether you are talking about corn sugar or cane sugar, it is all fructose, and often without the fiber needed to metabolize it the way nature intended. Don't be fooled by these new commercials by the Corn Refiners Association... It is all bad. Even "natural sodas" that have pure cane sugar, is fructose without the fiber and therefore causes a toxic reaction to your body in much the same way as a beer. It is alcohol without the buzz. 

The dangers of fructose and America's correlating obesity epidemic inspired Dr. Lustig to team up with several doctors and scientists from the University of Berkeley to discover the physical, social and political ramifications of this uncontrolled poison. I urge anyone who has children or who has a deep interested in becoming healthy themselves to watch this lecture, and learn for themselves the finer details of sugar science. 

Some quick highlights of the lecture:

  • is a toxin
  • is a carbohydrate that metabolizes as fat
  • does not suppress ghrelin, the hormone responsible for telling you that you are full
  • does not produce insulin
  • is NOT glucose 
  • is 7x more likely to form Advanced Glycation End Products, which looks like the browning or carmelization that occurs on your grill, as it behaves the same in your arteries... you can see it.
  • damages your liver in the same way that ethanol (fermenting alcohol) causes damage, except since the liver is the only organ that can process fructose, it strains it and produces no warning of an overdose, such as the brain producing side effects that alcohol causes
  • promotes metabolic syndrome
Metabolic Syndrome is the leading cause in:
  • Obesity
  • Diabetes
  • Hypertension
  • Cardio Vascular Disease
  • Lipid issues 
There are recent studies being released in the effects of our diet as it relates to many other health issues as well, such as ADHD, ADD, Fibromyalgia, mental health, etc. It is hard to say how much fructose enters into the equation.

Glucose, on the other hand, is the "energy of life." All cells can use it. All living things can use it. Glucose is created from carbohydrates - is a simple sugar - and can be stored up in the liver as glycogen for long periods of time, which is why athletes do a "carboload" before a big event. And while High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) is added to Gatorade to help athletes "store up" glycogen before a big race, it is marketed and consumed by children, primarily... particularly those who are lacking a good, nutritionally dense breakfast, and think that a good tasting energy drink will help them stay alert, when in reality, it does little to help them, and in fact, leads to the overconsumption of other foods.

While we've been regulating and controlling substances worldwide for centuries, it is mind blowing that despite the research showing the dangers of fructose on the human body, the FDA and the USDA will not control, tax or regulate it in any way. It is recognized as GRAS (Generally Regarded As Safe) despite zero testing or long term studies. Acute toxins, such as tobacco and ethanol are regulated, but chronic toxins, toxins that build up fatty deposits in the liver over a long period of time, such as alcohol, are not regulated. This is because ethanol can be processed by the brain as well as the liver and other organs, unlike fructose, so there are side effects showing an acute reaction to the poison. If we were to label fructose as an acute toxin, the USA would have to admit to the world that our entire food system from our pyramid to our WIC programs are contributing to nearly all of the medical and health problems of the 21st century.

So what can we do?

  • improves the skeletal muscle insulin sensitivity
  • functions as a stress reducer, and resultant cortisol release
  • causes TCA cycles to run faster, making the liver process toxins, such as fructose and ethanol, at a quicker rate
  • Improves hepatic insulin sensitivity
  • Spend equal amounts of time being active and sedentary. If you sit for an hour, play for an hour.
Avoid Fructose:

  • Drink water, herbal iced teas, milk or nut mylks
  • Avoid all soda
  • Avoid all juice
  • Avoid all sports drinks, save coconut water
  • Avoid candy and junk food

Eat sugars in moderation, WITH FIBER: 
  • Fruit - fresh and dried
  • vegetables - fresh and dried
  • complex carbohydrates
  • dairy
These all contain natural sugars with fiber, for slow metabolically precise processing... 
the kind our body were intended to utilize, in a healthy way. You'll find that once fructose is limited or eliminated completely, the natural sugars in whole fruits will become much sweeter to you. If you must have something sweet, opt for limited use of foods sweetened with agave nectar, honey, molasses, stevia or xylitol.

For more information on the science of sugar, 
please take the time to watch and listen to this very informative lecture:

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Cultured Vegetables - Homemade Probiotics

Probiotics are live microorganisms that are beneficial to the host organism. In our case, us humans. They thrive in our GI tract, helping to balance out the digestion process and aid in the process of repair. Some people obtain these through supplemental form, by eating yogurt and other fermented or cultured live foods. 

I find that the best and tastiest way to get plenty of probiotics in my diet, is by making cultured vegetables... or homemade kimchee or sauerkraut. Although they are time consuming to make, the process is easy and you can make big batches at once, as they keep up to 8 months in the fridge, improving over time. They are inexpensive, too, as they can be made from ingredients that are in season and plentiful, and thus, often on sale. 

Their benefits help improve many conditions such as diarrhea, Candida, food allergies, lactose intolerance, IBS and colitis, and help prevent and treat colon cancer, high cholesterol, antibiotic damage and yeast infections. They also work to reduce inflammation, improve immunity and lower blood pressure. Cultured veggies also help you manage your appetite. They are damn tasty!

They can be made from many different kinds of veggies.
I included some of my favorites in my most recent batch.

What I had on hand:

5 collard greens, chopped finely
5 carrots, chopped finely
1 head of Napa cabbage, chopped finely
1 2 inch piece of fresh ginger, grated
1 4 inch diakon radish
1 teaspoon ghost pepper salt
1 teaspoon of cayenne
1 teaspoon of sea salt
a few TB water
3 large cabbage leaves, whole

saran wrap
rubber bands

Mix all ingredients in a large bowl. Pack veggies down into several large glass or stainless steel containers or jars, so the containers have as little air in them as possible. 

Fill the jars almost to the top leaving an inch or so. Then roll or fold a cabbage leaf and stuff it into the top, filling the container to the rim. Wrap a piece of plastic wrap over the top, secure with a thick rubber band, and screw on the lid, tight.

In the past, I have found larger containers, with silicone seals and clasp lids to be extremely helpful, but since the seal on my last batch wasn't secure, I thought I'd try it this way for my next batch. Set the containers in a closet or cupboard, one that has a steady room temperature, to culture or ferment for 3-5 days. The warmer the air temp, the faster they will ferment.

"During this fermentation period, the friendly bacteria are having a heyday, reproducing and converting sugars and starches to lactic acid. Once the initial process is over, it is time to slow down the bacterial activity by putting the cultured veggies in the refrigerator. The cold greatly slows the fermentation, but does not stop it completely. Even if the veggies sit in your refrigerator for months, they will not spoil; instead they become more like fine wine, more delicious with time. Properly made, cultured vegetables have at least an eight month shelf life." - Body Ecology Diet

Check on them after day three and see how they are doing. If any scum appears around the cabbage leaves, you may remove the leafs and close the jars again, letting them continue the culturing process in or out of the fridge. 

BE CAREFUL! * Sometimes the fermenting activity in the jars will become so BUSY, that the jars will explode when you initially open them, so make sure to only do it over the sink. Taste and enjoy all of the benefits that these delicious vegetables have to offer!

To read more about the benefits of cultured veggies and probiotics, and additional recipes,
click on any of the links below:

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Moroccan Lentil Stew

This recipe was taken from and was contributed by Grace and Mae. It is a winter's soup, chocked full of Ayurveda spice that promotes many things, such as supporting circulation, providing relief for those suffering from stomach acidity, improving digestion and managing an anti-inflammatory environment. I have tweaked it, of course, as I often do after finding a favorite recipe and making it so many times, that each time allows for adjustments in ingredients, based on what I have on hand. Still the basic recipe is as follows:


  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
  • 6 cups water
  • 1 cup red lentils
  • 1 (15 ounce) can garbanzo beans, drained (or the equivalent in dried beans, soaked and cooked)
  • 1 (19 ounce) can cannellini beans (or the equivalent in dried beans, soaked and cooked)
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes (I had strained tomatoes instead, which changes the texture a bit)
  • 1/2 cup diced carrots (added more carrots and celery due to the different kind of tomatoes)
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala 
  • (or for a real authentic meal, find Rus Al Hanoot instead, which is a Moroccan blend rather than Indian)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin 
  • (I had zero cumin in the cupboard so I added chili powder instead, which has cumin in it)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil


  1. In large pot saute; the onions, garlic, and ginger in a little olive oil for about 5 minutes.
  2. Add the water, lentils, chick peas, white kidney beans, diced tomatoes, carrots, celery, garam masala, cardamom, cayenne pepper and cumin. Bring to a boil for a few minutes then simmer for 1 to 1 1/2 hours or longer, until the lentils are soft.
  3. Puree half the soup in a food processor or blender. Return the pureed soup to the pot, stir and enjoy! (I actually like the texture without blending, so I often leave it "as is". Still delicious!)
  4. Alternatively, you may add all of the ingredients to a crock pot and slowly simmer everything together for an extended period of time. the taste and texture will be slightly altered, but with crusty bread, makes a perfect meal!

For more information on the health benefits of ginger, click on this link:

For more information on the health benefits of cardamom, click on this link:

For more information on Rus Al Hanout, and how you might create this on your own using the spices in your cupboard, click on this link: