Monday, June 24, 2013

My Favorite Recipes- Blueberry Pie

I've been writing this blog for several years, very regularly for the last few months, and have never put a recipe on it. The time has come. I thought it would be fun to toss you a favorite recipe of mine periodically, and see if you like it as much as I do.
During my last 6 1/2 years as a high Raw Food eater, I have gathered a list of favorite "go-to" recipes.  Some are definite seasonal favorites, others work very well for, potlucks, or travelling, or times when quick and easy is a "must." This Blueberry Pie recipe fits into several categories, is an unquestionable favorite of mine, and a crowd pleaser among many different groups of people. I think I made it for the first time during my first year Raw, and I look forward to enjoying it again every summer. 

We are still in the growing season for blueberries, so they are plentiful at the stores, and

easy to find in the local organic spots near you.  I enjoy this recipe so much at this time of year--- I've made it about 4 times since May, and am still going strong.  So, enjoy!  This
Beautiful Berries!
simple, straightforward recipe that takes little time to prepare, and sets up in the refrigerator quickly.  It has a jelled blueberry filling and mounds of whole blueberries just like the traditonal blueberry pie.

(adapted from Living on Live Food, by Alissa Cohen)

2 cups almonds
1/2 cups dates, pitted and soaked (medjools are the best-the big wrinkly ones)
1 - 2 TBS shredded raw coconut (optional)

5 cups blueberries
2 bananas
1 1/2 TBS honey

For the Crust:
1.  If you're using the coconut, sprinkle it evenly  on the bottom of a pie pan.  It helps make the crust lift out of the pie plate easily.  This works for any raw pie with a nut/date crust.

2.  In a food processor, grind the almonds until fine. 

3.  Add the dates and blend until smooth.

4.  Remove from food processor and pat down into a pie plate.

Filling Mixture
For the Filling:
1.  In a food processor combine 4 cups of blueberries, 2 bananas, and 1 1/2 TBS of honey.  Blend until smooth.

3.  Remove from processor and add in 1 cup  of whole blueberries.

4. Pour into crust.

5. Refrigerate for at least 3  hours.

Note:  The blueberries are gelatinous and will cause the  pie to solidfy. Blueberries are very good for your eyesight, and contain potent antioxidants-- more than many other antioxidant foods.  Amazing.
Perfect for July 4th Celebrations

Enjoy!  And let me know how you liked it.  And watch for my next favorite recipe to appear.

Live Well  ~  ~  Eat Raw

Monday, June 17, 2013

The Wonders of Wheat Grass

Sometimes, people ask me if I drink wheat grass juice.  I do.  Sometimes, people ask me if I grow wheat grass.  I do not.  Sometimes, people ask me if I juice wheat grass.  I do not. So here's my deal. 
I am compelled by the arguments for drinking wheatgrass, phenomenal as it seems to be.  It has the same chemical makeup as human red blood cells (hemoglobin) except that blood contains iron, which makes red.  Wheat grass contains magnesium, which makes it green. It is a complete protein loaded with minerals and enzymes, and long known and apprecieated for its healing properties.  Chlorophyll is partially responsible for those healing abilities.  The green plant pigment aids in red blood cell production, detoxification, boosting the immune system, and alkalizing the body.  Additionally, other reported benefits include Improved digestion, elimination of body odor, anit-viral, anti-fungal, balancing blood sugar, reversal of aging signs, improved dental conditions, improved vision, reduced inflammation, and alleviation of depression.  That's an impressive list of benefits.

In his book Survival into the 21st Century, Kulvinskas praises wheatgrass.  "In therapeutic amounts, it will detoxify the body by increasing the elimination of hardened mucous, crystallized acids, and solidified, decaying fecal matter.  Wheatgrass juice's high enzyme content helps dissolve tumors.  It is the fastest, surest way to eliminate internal waste and provide an optimum nutritional environment.  Wheatgrass juice can also be used as a poltice, wash, douche, or bath, stimulating healthy new cells and fighting infections."

People who are quite ill, and are treated at various natural healthy clinics, are often put on a firm regimen of wheatgrass.  If you are in that category of persons, then  doing more research on wheatgrass would be a very wise thing to do.
I drink wheatgrass when I can.  We have a vegan restaurant in town, The Main Squeeze, who sells it by the shot ,(if you're just starting out, don't drink any more than that!), and I generally order some with my lunches there.  Many people choose to grow their own wheatgrass, which is certainly a more economical way to have it available.  My reason for not even attempting it is that our 3 cats love to nibble on all things green and growing, except for the wheat grass that I can get for them in  the pet store. Go figure.  Also, if it's home grown, it takes more tending to, for the prevention of mold, harvesting, etc., than I am willing to pursue.  If you're game, go for it! However you introduce yourself to wheatgrass, be ready for a taste with lots of personality!  All those nutrients make for a strong flavor that takes a little getting used to.  Once you do, you adjust, you may be quickly persuaded to add it to your overall future heatlh regimen.  It's a good thing.
Regarding juicing wheatgrass, some of the upper end juicers do a good job with it, others, not so much.  There are special juicers for just wheatgrass, some manual, others electric.  I simply have just not gotten into that realm, being fairly content with the number of small appliances in my highly raw kitchen.  If you're inclined, however, talk to some other folks less lazy than I, and look at some of the YouTube videos on the subject.  Should you want to purchase one from Amazon, I appreciate your going through the icon on the right or the option pictured  below to get to it.  I get a small percentage of each sale that way, which helps me to spread the word I am trying to spread, and it's no extra cost to you.  Thanks for that.  And I also appreciate any conversation you care to share about wheat grass or any other of my blog topics.  Be well!

Monday, June 10, 2013

Lemon Water - Morning Jumpstart

According to Ayurvedic philosophy, choices that we make regarding our daily routine either build up resistance to disease or tear it down.  Ayurveda invites us to get a jump start on the day by focusing on morning rituals that work to align the body with nature’s rhythms, balance the doshas*, and foster self-esteem alongside discipline.
So while your mind may say you have to check emails, take the dog out, get the kids out of the door, and that you can’t be late for work, or that you just don’t have enough time to cultivate your own morning rituals.

In my last blog I talked about a relatively new morning ritual of mine – oil pulling.  I happily report, now 3 weeks later, that my annoying cough is gone.  Go figure.  I notice some other benefits as well, but will save them for another time.

Another of my morning rituals, though,for the last 2 or 3 years or so, is to drink a glass of warm water with 1/8-1/4 teaspoon of lemon juice (1/2 lemon).   Over time I have heard many of the benefits of this practice, so many that they are just too good to ignore.  Here are some of them.

1.  Boosts your immune system.  Lemons are  high in Vitamin C and potassium.  Vitamin C is great for fighting colds and potassium stimulates brain and nerve function and helps control blood pressure.

2.  Balances pH.  Lemons are quite and alkaline food.  On their own they are acidic, true, but inside us they’re alkaline and do not create acidity.  An alkaline body is an important component of good health.

3.  Helps with weight loss.  Lemons are high in pectin fiber, which helps fight hunger cravings.  It also has been shown that people who maintain a more alkaline diet lose weight faster.

4.  Aids digestion.  The warm water serves to stimulate the gastrointestinal tract and peristalsis—the waves of muscle contractions within the intestinal walls that keep things moving.  Lemons and limes are high in minerals and vitamins and help loosen toxins in the digestive tract.

5.  Acts as a gentle, natural diuretic.  Lemon juice helps flush out unwanted materials because lemons increase the rate of urination in the body.  Toxins are, therefore, released at a faster rate which helps keep your urinary tract healthy.

6.  Clears skin.  The vitamin C helps decrease wrinkles and blemishes.  Lemon water purges toxins from the blood which helps keep skin clear as well.

7.  Hydrates the lymph system.  Starting the day on this hydrated note helps prevent dehydration and adrenal fatigue.  Lack of proper hydration compromises many body systems, which leads to toxic buildup, stress, constipation, and a host of other ills.  The two small adrenal glands which sit on top of your kidneys partner with your thyroid to create energy.  They also secrete important hormones, one of which is aldesterone which regulates water levels and the concentration of minerals, like sodium helping you to stay hydrated.  They also regulate your stress response.  It’s important  to treat your adrenals well and avoid dehydration. Lemon water is also much kinder to your adrenals than coffee and other caffeinated drinks, which stimulate them.
Try this easy practice for awhile, and be attentive to what changes or doesn’t change for you.  I’ve been at it for so long that I can’t pinpoint which benefits I am experiencing more, but I can tell you that if I’ve been away from home for awhile, I am happy to get back to my morning lemon water when I return.  It’s just a good start to the day.  Let me know how it works for you.
*Dosha – any of 3 principles: kapha (earth and fire), pitta (fire and water), and vata (ether and air) which, according to the Ayurvedic construct, are the sonstituents that orchestrate a person’s mental and physiologic functions, including metabolism and mind/body type.  (Segen’s Medical Dictionary, 2012)
Adapted from an article, source unknown.  My apologies to the lost author.)

Monday, June 3, 2013

How About Oil Pulling?

Leah and Jane-December, 2009
Some of you may recall that I got my start into a high raw food diet 6 1/2 years ago after I was  introduced to it by my then 15 year old granddaughter, Leah.  A few years ago, maybe 4 or 5, when I was visiting Leah and her family in Colorado, she and her mother, my daughter Laura, were oil pulling. Either there, during that visit, or later, when I arrived home, I gave it a try, and pretty quickly dismissed the practice as just too off-beat, and of too questionable a benefit for me to pursue.  I was still adjusting, after all, at that time, to this raw food diet, and dealing with all its attendant psychological and sociological ramifications. Oil pulling?  I think not, thank you.

Recently, though, when I was visiting with Rene Oswald, long time raw food practioner, author, and teacher, she said how much she enjoyed the practice of oil pulling, did it daily, usually in the shower, as do many others, it turns out, and had no plans to ever give it up.  She thought that since oil pulling reportedly helps to remove toxins from the body, it might help me with a chronic post nasal drip thing that I've had lingering since an early spring cold and cough. The cough has, annoyingly enough, left me clearing my throat often, sometimes to no avail, wondering if I'll have a coughing fit when I do a public reading or speaking thing, and doing lots of coughing, at least for awhile, during a biking or swimming workout. Like I said....annoying.

So, now that I'm two weeks into the daily practice, and after a little research, here's what I can tell you.

Oil pulling or oil swishing, is an ancient ayurvedic simple, cost effective, natural remedy procedure that involves pulling or swishing oil in the mouth for oral and systemic health benefits.  It is mentioned in the Ayrvedic text Charaka Samhita, where it is called Kavala Gandusha or Kavala Graha, and is claimed to cure about 30 systemic diseases ranging from migraine headache, to diabetes and asthma.

Oil pulling has risen from an ancient Ayurvedic natural remedy technique to an effective self help nature cure method for restoring and maintaining overall health. 

 It involves putting about a tablespoon of oil in your mouth, then swishing it around your teeth for a few minutes.There are thousands of different types of bacteria in the mouth. Some of them are friendly, others are not.

There are thousands of different types of bacteria in the mouth. Some of them are friendly, others are not. Certain bacteria can cause harm, such as Streptococcus Mutans, which is the main culprit behind plaque buildup, gingivitis, and cavities. The bacteria in the mouth create a "biofilm" on the teeth -- a thin layer that they use to adhere to the surface . This is what we know as "plaque." Having some plaque on teeth is normal, but if it gets out of hand, it can cause all sorts of problems. Oil pulling helps to remove the plaque and other debris by capturing it in the moving oil and then dissolving it . There are studies that show that a large amount of oral bacteria and plaque are removed with each application, and breath is sweetened, teeth polished, and the mouth just generally feels cleansed and smooth. Still other studies suggest that oil pulling helps to detoxify and heal other parts of the body, although those studies sound less definitive, at least in my humble, and fairly brief reading.

Some will say, "Who needs this?" Good question. I think that at the least, oil pulling is an easy practice to adopt and can't hurt. Ayurvedic medicine, the oldest recorded medical system in existence, has been around a long time. I think giving the practices that have survived the test of time deserve at least a fair shot. Sort of like yoga. With all the modern exercise and relaxation modes around, why pick an ancient one like yoga? Precisely because it is ancient and it has survived, and people have never really stopped doing it. There must be something to it.

Back to Oil Pulling

Traditionally, the Indians used sesame or sunflower oil. Any oil will work -- almond, peanut,  etc..  Many people these days, as do I, use coconut oil because its Lauric Acid ( about half the fats in coconut oil) is proven to be antimicrobial, and good in many other ways as well, not the least of which is that it has a more pleasant taste than the others. It's a strange sensation at first "chewing" on coconut oil, as it heats up in the body and liquefies; after that it may feel strange for a few days, then becomes part of the routine.

Here's the how to:

1-Put a teaspoon to a tablespoon of oil in your mouth.
2-Swish the oil around in your mouth for 10-20 minutes, "pulling" it through your teeth. Avoid getting it into your throat (as in gargling), or swallowing it, as this will transmit some of the "pulled" toxins further into your system. There's no need to use a lot of force with this. If your face or jaw hurts, use less oil, force, or time, or all three for a few days.
3- Spit out the oil, preferably into the toilet, lest it clog up the sink, rinse out your mouth and then brush your teeth.

It's best to oil pull on an empty stomach, before you brush your teeth. It works best for many people to do it in their morning shower. Suit yourself.

There is lots more to read, if you're interested, than what I've given you here. I'm into my third week with it, and do notice that my mouth feels cleaner, and my teeth sparkle. I'm sure that my dentist, who already praises me for my mouth care, will be delighted at the improvements in my oral and dental health. My nagging cough seems a little better, and if there is another level of detoxifying and immunity building going on, of which I currently am unaware, so be it. I'm sure this is a no risk venture than can only bring good. Give it a try. See what you think. Let me know.