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The 52 New Foods Challenge – Cucumbers

I have always loved cucumbers. I find their crunchy texture and mild and refreshing flavor irresistible. It always baffles me that there are people out there that don’t like them (ahem…you know who you are ;-). I’m a HUGE fan of pickles (I’ll thank my Essenmacher roots for that!) and I love cucumbers on salads (green salads, pasta salads, etc.). I’ve also had refreshing cucumber waters and cucumber cocktails. JeIMG_0531nnifer Tyler Lee also recommends Asian cucumber salad, minty cucumber salad, and cucumber tea sandwiches. All of which sound great!

Food Facts:

  • Seventy percent of the US pickle crop is made into pickles.
  • Cucumbers are composed mostly of water, making them a very refreshing option during summer.
  • The flesh contains vitamins A and C and folic acid, while the skin is rich in fiber and contains the minerals silica, potassium, magnesium, and molybdenum. [My thoughts on peeling vegetables: peeling them is just extra work AND it takes away vital nutrients, so no thanks.]
  • Good source of vitamin K and B5, phosphorous, copper, and manganese.
  •  Cucumbers belong to the same family as melons, summer squash, and winter squash.
  • Have high antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Are a good source of flavonoids, lignans, and triterpenes.

From The 52 New Foods Challenge: A Family Cooking Adventure for Each Week of the Year, with 150 Recipes by Jennifer Tyler Lee, Encyclopedia of Healing Foods by Michael Murray, Joseph Pizzorno, and Lara Pizzorno, and whfoods.com.

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In Season, in July

July is here! I love July because it truly symbolizes summer for me. Although, this July I do have to work for a couple of weeks, generally, for teachers, July is the only month of year where there is actually no school. The other reason I love July is because all the wonderful fruit and vegetable options available in July.

Figs are top of my list of IMG_5958exciting fruits this month! And everyone loves when toma
to season is here! I’m looking forward to caprese salads this summer – it brings me back to Italy! Yum! What are you looking forward to this July?

 

Hugs & Health <3,

Katie

July 2014 Book of the Month – AntiCancer

July’s Clean Eating book of the the month: Anticancer: A New Way of Life by David Servan-Schreiber, MD, PHD. In the wake of my Breast Cancer diagnosis in 2014, I read as many books on cancer as I could get my hands on. I’m sure I’m not alone here. Anticancer was by far my favorite.  In this *five strawberry* book, Servan-SchreibScreen Shot 2016-06-24 at 5.28.40 PMer tells readers what they can do to help keep cancer at bay, keep it from coming back, or to surpass a not-so-optimistic prognosis.

Dr. Servan-Schreiber helps to bridge the gap between what the oncologists are telling patients and what they aren’t telling patients – like what cancer patients can do to help themselves. This is what people diagnosed with a disease want desperately to hear – give them some control and power when they feel like they have no control and no power over this situation. He is an MD and a PHD and a two-time brain cancer survivor- so this isn’t quackery here!

In Anticancer, Dr. Servan-Schreiber details his cancer story (or stories, I should say), studies about patients, and several main recommendations. Those recommendations are: 1) eat a diet that includes lots of plants, high-quality meats, low in sugar, low in refined carbs, and low in poor-quality fats, 2) supporting a healthy state of mind through meditation, 3) avoiding the fear hamster wheel by attending support groups, and lastly 4) getting enough exercise.

FullSizeRender-1Servan-Schreiber tells readers that “[c]ancer lies dormant in all of us. Like all living organisms, our bodies are making defective cells all the time. That’s how tumors are born. But our bodies are also equipped with a number of mechanisms that detect and keep such cells in check.” This quote instills a bit a fear in me, knowing that cancer can be happening to all of us, all the time, BUT it also inspires hope because it empowers each of us to know that we have the power to make changes in our bodies and our futures.

A great read for anyone working to avoid cancer in their lifetime, anyone with cancer, cancer survivors, or caregivers. Anticancer gives readers the feeling of some control and power in battling this disease. Highly recommended for everyone!

 

March 2014 Book of the Month – Cooked

The March Clean Eating book of the month is Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation by Michael Pollan. I give this book 5 out of 5 Strawberries!Screen Shot 2016-06-24 at 5.28.40 PM
It’s no secret that I have a food crush on Michael Pollan. I often call him my food guru. I write about how he convinced me to try eating meat again in The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals in this post. I realize that it’s not much of a surprise that I liked his most recent book, as I have liked all of his books. Although the picture of pasta on the cover did make me question whether or not this would be the first of Pollan’s books that I would not like ;-).  Allow me to share the reasons why I really liked Cooked.
The goal of this book is to help you see the value of cooking food for yourself in a world of short cuts, fast food restaurants, and microwaves. The book is organized into four parts: Fire, Water, Air, Earth. Part of what I love about Cooked is that Pollan takes a historical and cultural look into how humans have fed themselves since the beginning. Additionally he takes what he has learned and then tries it out for himself in his own kitchen. You gotta love a guinea pig!

The section on Air is really a section on fermentation and bacteria. He discusses the work of Sandor Katz [pretty much the godfather of fermentation, his bible is The Art of Fermentation: An In-Depth Exploration of Essential Concepts and Processes from around the World] and he discusses the work of Sister Noella Marcellino, a raw cheesemaker and holds a Ph.D. in microbiology. perhaps I found this section the most fascinating because of my studies and work as a nutrition consultant. Here is quote showing the immense importance and need for probiotics in our diet: “Probiotics-beneficial bacteria ingesIMG_0421ted either in fermented foods or in supplements- have been shown to: calm the immune system and reduce inflammation; shorten the duration and severity of colds in children; relieve diarrhea and irritable bowl syndrome; reduce allergic responses, including asthma; stimulate the immune response; possibly reduce the risk of certain cancers; reduce anxiety; prevent yeast infections; diminish levels of E. coli 0157:H7 in cattle and salmonella in chickens; and improve the health and function of the gut epithelium. (Pollan, 2013, p.335)”.

I hope you’ll check out this book and the Cooked four part series on Netflix.

Feb. 2014 Book of the Month -Grain Brain

February’s Clean Eating Book of the Month is Grain Brain: The Surprising Truth about Wheat, Carbs, and Sugar–Your Brain’s Silent Killers by David Perlmutter. Amazing book! I give this book 5 out of 5 strawberries!Screen Shot 2016-06-24 at 5.28.40 PM

Dr. Perlmutter, author of Grain Brain, is a neurologist. Most people probably think, “what does being a neurologist have to do with writing a book about diet?”. Well, just as we don’t live in a bubble, our bodies’ organs don’t exist in isolation. What we put in our bodies have an impact on how our organs function. Dr. Permutter reviews cutting edge science to demonstrate that diet does play a significant role in the health of our brain and our entire neurological system.

“Gluten is our generation’s tobacco.” This quote resonates with me because I have “heard it”
all from well meaning family and friends as to why “everything in moderation” should be the mantra by which we live our lives. It also resonates with me because of the backlash the “gluten free” movement has gotten. Further, I can see so many parallels of doctors that once recommended cigarettes for “stress” and are now recommending “healthy whole grains” as a part of a “balanced diet”.

Through years and years of work with patients, Dr. Perlmutter has seen Alzheimer’s disease destroy many livesIMG_0420. He notes that chronic inflammation is at the root of the disease and that chronically high blood sugar is the main source of the inflammation. In Grain Brain, he calls Alzheimer’s disease Type III Diabetes for this reason.

In addition to his work with Alzheimer’s patients, he treats many patients with ADHD, Autism, MS, and more. Going grain free and refined sugar free is of great help to all of his patients.

This book is amazing and life changing. If you aren’t already gluten free, or if you are gluten free, Grain Brain restates the multitude of reasons why avoiding gluten is the way to go for a healthy body.

Aug. 2014 Book of the Month – Eating on the Wild Side

The Clean Eating August 2014 Book of the Month is Eating on the Wild Side: The Missing Link to Optimum Health by Jo Robinson. I give this book FIVE strawberries- an absolutely fascinating book.Screen Shot 2016-06-24 at 5.28.40 PM

Robinson examines the varieties of foods to determine which foods and which varieties are the healthiest. She also looks at the healthiest methods for preparation and when certain food need to be prepared in order to obtain the most nutrients.

When I first worked at the farmer’s market for Tomatero Organic Farms I remember learning about the three varieties of strawberries that we sold, Albion, Seascape, and Chandler. Each day customers would come up and ask about the berries and be shocked to learn that there was more than one type of strawberry. I would always explain that just like apples, all produce has multiple varieties. However, when we shop at the grocery store they generally only have one type of variety. The varieties that are chosen for grocery stores are varieties that ship and travel well, last a fairly long time, and that look appealing to customers. You might think that all produce should look appealing, and I agree, but let me give you one example. The Rosas variety of strawberry (another variety that Tomatero has sold over the years) is a pink berry. Most customers think it is underripe because it is pink, but that isn’t the case, that is just the characteristics of that variety type. That is just one example of how certain produce doesn’t fit our “standards” of looking appealing. [These are my very favorite Strawberry variety, by the way. If you find them, I highly recommend that you try them.]

In Eating on the Wild Side, You’ll learn that sweet potatoes aren’t in the potato (nightshade) family but in the morning glory family, that drinking a glass of beet juice FullSizeRenderbefore a run will help you run longer (due to the naturally occurring nitrates), that the outer leaves on lettuces are the most healthy because they make the most chlorophyll, and that broccoli loses most of it’s phytonutrients within 24-hours of harvest – so grow your own or shop at the farmer’s market and look for it on ice.

There’s about million more gems like these in the book, so take a look for yourself and learn how to eat on the wild side.

Hugs & Health <3,

Katie

 

 

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YL Essential Oils + After Sun Care

Hey Oily friends!

While on vacation in Cabo San Lucas a few months back, I got a bit too much sun. Uh-oh!

While my goals are always to get a healthy amount of safe sun exposure so that I can make vitamin D, I also try to avoid getting too much sun. I usually try to stay in shaded areas as much as possible and then apply sunscreen when I can’t avoid the sun. Everyone has a system that works for them, and this works for me. Well most of the time. [Insert guilty face here ;-).]

I researched oils to help with my sunburn and luckily enough I had brought some oil blends with me on vacation that would help with After Sun Care. In my daily moisturizer I had frankincense, lavender, geranium, and tea tree. And in my radiation blend were oils, that, Duh!, help with burns. (I rub this blend on my skin that has gone through radiation treatment and after all, radiation is essentially a sunburn to the deeper tissues.) My radiation blend has: melaleuca quinquenervia, melrose, German chamomile, lavender, and coconut oil (and it would have Roman chamomile if it was ever it stock!). I applied the lotion and the radiation blend to the sunburned areas and within a day, I was back on track. The skin wasn’t red or irritated and it healed really well. And an obvious bonus here: there wasn’t any “junk” in my after sun care!

Fast forward to present day. This past weekend, while training for my Avon 39 Mile walk, I thought I put on enough sunscreen, but there was one part of my shoulder that still got sunburned. Since I am home and have access to all my oils, I didn’t have to improvise. I made an After Sun Care Rollerball and my sunburn is loving it!

I added about 10 drops of lavender, tea tree, and helichrysum and then about 7-8 drops of peppermint and frankincense. I filled the rest of the rollerball up with coconut oil.

I have been applying the blend at least twice per day. The sunburn is fading and the skin is feeling much less irritated.

 

As always, be sure to test these oils before using them on a sunburn.

Have you used any oils for After Sun Care? What are your successes?

Happy SUMMER!

Hugs & Health <3,
Katie

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June 2016 Book of the Month – Eat Dirt

I just finished Dr. Josh Axe’s book, Eat Dirt: Why Leaky Gut May Be the Root Cause of Your Health Problems and 5 Surprising Steps to Cure It. This was a fascinating read for nutrition neIMG_0035rds like myself, but also for anyone that would like to improve their digestive function. Axe takes an in depth look into the factors in modern life that have caused the perfect conditions for leaky gut syndrome to proliferate.

“Leaky gut is at ground zero of many of this country’s most confounding health crises” (Axe, 2016, p.10). Axe argues that leaky gut leads to systemic inflammation and inflammation is at the root of all of our Western diseases.

Eat Dirt is filled with a mixture interesting anecdotal testimonials and cutting edge science. Axe goes over the various types of gut issues and explores the options for how to heal the gut. A comprehensive discussion of the various types of probiotic strains and how ensure that you’re getting enough probiotics to sustain a thriving colony in your gut. Axe includes dietary and lifestyle factors that help to bring the body back into balance. Screen Shot 2016-06-24 at 5.28.40 PM

This book gets 5 out of 5 strawberries! A must read!

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The 52 New Foods Challenge – Plums

I have very fond childhood memories of eating all the fruit growing up. My grandfather grew up on a farm in Lake Huron, MI. When the Essenmacher clan moved to California, he set up a bountiful backyard garden. Among the many things that he grew were plums. The plum tree was nestled next to my childhood swing set. I still love plums to this day and I’ll give my grandparents all the credit for my fruit addiction. IMG_0281

Jennifer Tyler Lee suggests that readers roast plums with pistachios or try making an Asian plum sauce. While I can easily eat about a half dozen fresh farmer’s market or backyard plums, I do like the idea of cooking the fruit. I’m particularly fond of grilled stone fruit served over some vanilla ice cream.

Food Facts:

  • Wild varieties pack the most nutrients. Look for red, purple, black, or blue plums because they will have more phytonutrients, especially anthocyanins.
  • Plums should be ripened on the the tree and can be susceptible to chilling injury.
  • Plums are a good source of vitamins A, B1, B2, B6, C, K, fiber, potassium, and copper.
  • Plums and prunes (or dried plums as they are now being referred to in order to boost their popularity) are known for their laxative effects.
  • Their content of neochlorogenic and chlorogenic acids [phenols] has been documented to have antioxidant and anticancer properties.

From The 52 New Foods Challenge: A Family Cooking Adventure for Each Week of the Year, with 150 Recipes by Jennifer Tyler Lee, Encyclopedia of Healing Foods by Michael Murray, Joseph Pizzorno, and Laura Pizzorno, Superfoods: The Healthiest Foods on the Planet by Tonia Reinhard, and Eating on the Wild Side: The Missing Link to Optimum Health by Jo Robinson.

 

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YL Essential Oils + Body Wash

After deciding to add essential oils to my unscented body lotion [recipe located here], the next step to upping my skincare routine was reevaluating my body wash, hand soap, and shave cream (and dishsoap too!).

Again, part of the reason why I’m using essential oils is to limit the amount of toxins that I’m exposed to everyday by choosing more natural alternatives to support my health. There are things out of my control (like the air I breathe), but there are things within my control that I can improve (like the foods I eat and what I put on my body). Because your skin is your largest organ and because it absorbs what we put on it, I needed to change the products that I use in my skincare routine each and every day. Artificial fragrances are on the top of my chopping block. In addition to avoiding the artificial junk, I wanted to start trying out oils that can support healthy skin.

I know many people like to just buy ready made body wash, hand soap, and shave cream. Other “oily folks” prefer to make it all from homemade ingredients. For me, I wanted something in the “Goldliocks” zone, not too much work and not too expensive. Dr. Bronner’s seemed like a great place to start. I’ve seen this this very wordy bottle of soap in health food stores for years and just never tried it out. A friend finally convinced me. 🙂

Here are the main reasons I like it: 1) It’s been made in the good ol’ USA since 1948 by a family of soapmakers that has been making soap since 1858. 2) There are 9 ingredients and they are regular old ingredients (hemp oil, jojoba oil, water, etc.). 3) They use organic and fair trade ingredients (although not all of the ingredients are both organic and fair trade). 4) It’s economical. 5) It’s multi-use. They claim 18 uses; I’m currently using it for 4 things.

Here’s what I’ve been trying out:

  1. IMG_0240For a full bottle of Dr. Bronner’s Castille soap, I add about 10-15 drops each of lavender, geranium, tea tree, and frankincense. Then shake like crazy to mix!
  2.  The options for fragrance combinations are endless. I choose oils that are good for skin and antimicrobial/antibacteria. Some other options would be lemon/citrus*, purification, thyme, thieves, melissa, and cinnamon bark.

* Citrus oils can begin to deteriorate plastics, so if using lemon or citrus oils, be sure that the soap is not being stored in a plastic container.

I would recommend testing oils and the soap first before using this all over.

Let me know if you try adding essential oils to your bodywash and how you like it.

Hugs & Health <3,
Katie