Sunday, October 04, 2009
A wonderful article along with special fall foods ideas. Definitely worth the read!
I, for one, love the idea that there are superfoods -- certain edibles that go the extra mile in terms of nutritional chutzpah. They may not leap tall buildings, but superfoods are purported to fight the evil villains of heart disease, high cholesterol, cancer and a host of other diseases. Blueberries, for example, have become a superfood darling for their powerful punch of antoxidants -- and I have to say, they do seem pretty mighty to me.
That said, I think some of the trendy superfoods are stealing the spotlight from the true heart of the matter -- from the everyday heroes. It seems to me that almost any grain or produce that is grown organically, unprocessed and prepared gently, has much to offer. I just can't see a list of ten superfoods that earn obvious rank. In fact, if you look at 10 "Top 10 Superfoods" lists, you will see that they vary widely.
The truth is, most good food from nature is pretty super. So with that in mind, I like taking a seasonal approach. Rather than debating the merits of acai berries over goji berries, I prefer to look at what's in season, and work with the nutritional workhorses that I can get here and now. These are my favorites for fall, based primarily on nutritional variety and strength, but that also give me that primal, sensuous satisfaction that comes with eating what's in season:
1. SWEET POTATOES AND PUMPKIN
I go crazy for these flavors come fall, and no wonder: The dark orange vegetable family outdoes all others in vitamin A content. Sweet potatoes are also packed with antioxidants, vitamin C, calcium, and potassium. Other dark orange vegetable standouts include pumpkin, carrots, butternut squash, and orange bell peppers.
2. CRUCIFEROUS VEGETABLES
Crucifers such as broccoli, cabbage, kale, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, collards and turnips contain indole alkaloids that may help prevent cancer. They are also high in fiber, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. Along with their fabulous flavor, once you get the hang of cooking them, they may have an added bonus: they may help bolster memory as you age. Researchers at Harvard Medical School found that women who eat the most of these foods are the least likely to be forgetful.
Pomegranates have very high antioxidant activity, offering brain and memory protection. And research shows that drinking pomegranate juice may help with lowering the risk for hardening of the arteries or atherosclerosis.
The pigment that gives beets their super-beautiful fuschia depth-betacyanin-is also a powerful cancer-fighting agent. Beets' potential effectiveness against colon cancer, in particular, has been demonstrated in several studies. Beets are also particularly rich in the B vitamin folate.
5. THE ALLIUMS
Garlic, onions, leeks, scallions, chives and shallots contain sulfur compounds that may protect against heart disease and some cancers, they can all help the liver eliminate toxins and carcinogens.
An excellent source of protein, antioxidants, folic acid, potassium, dietary fiber and complex carbohydrates, beans are flavorful, nutritionally dense, inexpensive and versatile. Read about heirloom varieties and cooking tips.
7. OLIVE OIL
Several large studies suggest that the monosaturated fat in olive oil is good for the heart. Olive oil lowers bad cholesterol levels and increases good cholesterol. It is hgih in antioxidants -- and is one of the superstars of the Mediterranean diet. Recent research shows that heart-attack survivors on a Mediterranean diet had half the death rates of those on an ordinary low-fat diet.
The caffeine content in tea is useful for stimulating alertness, mood and motivation, but is also a rich source of the antioxidant called catechins. Studies suggest that catechins protect the artery walls against the damage that causes heart disease and prevents formation of blood clots. It also does wonders for the spirit on a cool autumn day.
9. RED WINE OR GRAPE JUICE
(Hello! I LOVE that grape juice is FINALLY getting the equal *press* that it deserves!!!)
Grapes provide vitamin C, vitamin B1 and vitamin B6 -- red grapes also contain powerful phytochemicals (especially phenolics) that may help decrease risk of cardiovascular disease. These phenolic compounds are housed mostly in the skin of the red grapes, which is what makes red wine red and dark grape juice red or pruple. Resveratrol, a polyphenolic stilbene found in the skins of red fruits including grapes, may be responsible for some of the health benefits ascribed to the consumption of red wine. Resveratrol has been shown to have anti-oxidant, anticancer, and anti-inflammatory activity.
Thursday, October 01, 2009
Humans have been fermenting foods to aid in digestion for as far back as we can trace. Primarily they were fermented to improve holding and storing properties of foods. The milk from camels were fermented naturally to produce some of the first yogurts. Stored in goat bags and dropped over the back of camels in the hot deserts of North Africa with temperatures reaching 40C (110F) it was the ideal environment for lactic acid-producing bacteria to go to work. Pickles date back to ancient Egypt and vinegar was used by the ancient Greeks and Romans as a digestive aid, and to promote a healthy liver and gallbladder.
Every culture in the world has some form of fermented foods they eat with meals to aid in digestion. It isnâ€™t necessary to eat very much, just enough to provide the proper enzymes to help break down food and make the nutrients available for absorption in the small intestine. Common in Indian, Korean, Chinese, and Japanese cuisine are sweet, sour and salty pickles; while in North and Central Europe you will find sauerkraut and, again, pickles; the Mediterranean countries serve a small glass of red wine, cider or beer with meals to provide digestive enzymes.
When foods are fermented the bacteria, yeasts or molds used in the process, predigest the food, meaning they break down the carbohydrates, fats, and proteins to create microflora, friendly, life giving bacteria beneficial to the gastrointestinal system. These colonize in your intestines and work to keep the unfriendly intestinal organisms under control, such as yeast, parasites, virus, and unfriendly bacteria. Fermented foods come in many guises, some you might eat on a regular basis, such as aged cheese, beer, and wine, while others can have medicinal qualities that support the immune system and aid in healing the digestive system.
Acidophilus: Lactobacillus Acidophilus is a beneficial micro-flora commonly found in yogurt, kefir and fermented vegetables. It can also be taken in capsule form.
Cultured Vegetables: cultured vegetables are made with a base of shredded cabbage and a few other grated vegetables packed tightly into an airtight ceramic container and fermented for up to a week or more. The process creates an acidic environment for friendly bacteria to reproduce. Korean Kimchi and raw sauerkraut are good examples of this.
Miso: made from either rice, soybeans, barley or chickpeas, miso is a fermented paste aged in wooden kegs for 2 months to 2 years. High in beneficial enzymes, with traces of B-12 and antioxidants, it is said to be helpful in removing radiation from the body. (Maha also enjoys tempeh from time-to-time.)
Pickles: Pickles contain large amounts of lactobacilli bacteria, which are important to the digestion of grains and vegetables. One property common to all pickles is high fiber, which is important to proper intestinal functioning.
Vinegar: specifically apple cider vinegar is rich in beneficial enzymes and used medicinally is said to strengthen the immune system, control weight, promote good digestion, and balance blood pH levels.
-- Delia Quigley
Director of StillPoint Schoolhouse, where she teaches a holistic lifestyle designed to achieve optimal health and well being, based on her 28 years of study, experience and practice. She is the creator of the Body Rejuvenation Cleanse, Cooking the Basics videos and classes, and Broken Bodies Yoga. Deliaâ€™s credentials include holistic nutritional counselor, natural foods chef, yoga instructor, energy therapist and public speaker.
Quigley is the author of seven books on health and nutrition, including: The Body Rejuvenation Cleanse, The Complete Idiots Guide to Detoxing Your Body, The Everything SuperFoods Book, and Empowering Your Life With Meditation, available on Amazon.com. To view her website go to: www.deliaquigley.com
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
OK, I'm on a roll here with Joe, who sends me such amazing poems.
So maybe the relationship of this e.e. cummings piece to my physical wellbeing isn't direct and obvious, but we all know, in our heart of hearts, that the body and the mind and the spirit (all housing the heart) have got to be in alignment to have optimal health. And I SO needed this today. So there!
LET IT GO
let it go - the
smashed word broken
open vow or
the oath cracked length
wise - let it go it
was sworn to
let them go - the
truthful liars and
the false fair friends
and the boths and
neithers - you must let them go they
let all go - the
big small middling
tall bigger really
the biggest and all
things - let all go
so comes love
-- e. e. cummings
(Complete Poems 1904-1962)
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
What if imagination and art are not frosting at all, but the fountainhead of human experience?
-- Rollo May
(The Courage to Create)
Oh how poetry can speak to my soul! I'm going through a "Dark Night" and Mary Oliver's statement of the tree, "surely you can't imagine patience and happiness like that" speaks deeply to me. My journey to wellness is so intertwined with finding that place of patience and happiness within:
CAN YOU IMAGINE?
For example, what the trees do
not only in lightening storms
or the watery dark of a summer's night
or under the white nets of winter
but now, and now, and now - whenever
we're not looking. Surely you can't imagine
they don't dance, from the root up, wishing
to travel a little, not cramped so much as wanting
a better view, or more sun, or just as avidly
more shade - surely you can't imagine they just
stand there loving every
minute of it, the birds or the emptiness, the dark rings
of the years slowly and without a sound
thickening, and nothing different unless the wind,
and then only in its own mood, comes
to visit, surely you can't imagine
patience, and happiness, like that.
-- Mary Oliver
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