Thursday, August 29, 2013

Cherries in Wisconsin

Cherries are Wisconsin
When we were in Door County, Wisconsin a few weeks ago, I was ready to see bags of cheese curds in every store and at every roadside stand, and  I was not surprised that restaurants served them almost universally.  It’s what they have in Wisconsin.  But, I had forgotten in the 5 years since we’ve been there that there are just as many avenues for procuring and enjoying ruby sweet cherries as there are cheese curds.  And for this raw foodist, the cherries trump the cheese bits any day.
Seriously, the cherries were everywhere. In restaurants we visited many of our friends enjoyed a slice or three of cherry pie, there were dried cherries in salads, and cherry juice options either all by itself or mixed with other fruit juices.  When we reluctantly drove out of town after a week of very pleasant biking and relaxing, we stopped at an outdoor market and loaded up on cherry jams, jellies, preserves, and salsas, all locally grown, prepared, and packaged.
Plump, sweet, and ruby red
I, of course, just enjoyed them whole and raw.  So delicious and spectacularly colored.  I knew they were probably a wonderful thing to be eating, so guess what?  Here comes the good news.
Cherries have been shown to combat cancer, improve sleep, balance pressure and ease gout.  Compounds found within cherries also relieve pain as well as aspirin.  They have anti-infammatory properties, and can help to ward off disease. They are rich in vitamins and minerals, and anti-oxidants, and should be enjoyed often.

There’s more good news.  Cherries are a circulatory stimulant that dispel stagnation in the bloodstream and impart a rosy glow to the complexion.  They are detoxifiers, helping the body eliminate uric acid and cleanse the kidneys. They have been used traditionally to remedy anemia, arthritis, asthma, constipation, cramps, fatigue, gallstones and kidney stones, gout, and many other ills.  What’s not to like? 
Avoid contamination - buy organic
The bad news is that cherries are one of the most contaminated fruits, so it’s best to buy organic ones whenever possible.  Although they get cooked and put into jars, mentioned above, they can be enjoyed plain or in fruit salads, puddings, smoothies, and  juices.  They can also be dried for year-round consumption.
Their growing season is almost over for another year, but cherries are still in the stores.  Here’s a recipe you may want to try before they are gone until next year.  I will certainly be ready for them then!  Enjoy!
Cherry Soup – A Seasonal Delight
(Yield: 4 servings) 

¼ cup dates, soaked for 20 minutes
2 cups cherries, pitted
2 ½ cups water
2 Tbs lemon juice or lime juice 

Combine all ingredients in a food processor or blender and liquefy.

From Rawsome, by Brigitte Mars

Monday, August 19, 2013

Chia Seed - More Good Food for Biking

Bob and Jane - Biking vacation
My husband and I and twelve of our friends recently spent a week in Door County, Wisconsin.  It was primarily a biking trip, and we did lots of that, and there was also time for people to break off into smaller groups for things like wine tours, golf games, fishing, shopping, yoga, etc.  It was great fun, and I got a new idea for biking food…..well, actually biking drink a bonus to all that fun.

One of the women with us, Karen, puts chia seeds in her water bottles for biking.  Why I was so surprised to hear that, I don’t know, but really, you’d think that I might have thought of that great idea first!

So, you may ask, why is the idea of chia seeds in biking water such a good idea?  The first reason that comes to mind is that  chia seeds, which absorb water, are then good vessels for transporting hydration and chia seed nourishment to all the cells in the body, which really need them on long bike rides and other life activities. 
Chia - from the mint family
My friend Jenny, who is also a fan of this practice, said that chia seeds in water just made her body feel good while she was riding—not heavy from too much food, not nauseous from highly chemicalized and artificially sweetened commercial drinks.  “They just feel good in my belly ,“ she said. Because they swell in water, they produce a comfortably full feeling.

If that weren’t reason enough, chia seeds, considered a super food by many nutrition-conscious folks, provide many  gifts for  competitive and recreational athletes alike. They take on the taste of whatever they are mixed with, balance blood sugar, and provide energy throughout the day.  They are made of both soluble and insoluble fibers, so help  clean out your digestive system and keep things flowing smoothly.  Also, chia is the richest plant source of omega-3 fats, which are essential for heart health and cholesterol regulation.

Chia absorbs and carries water
And there’s more to like yet.  Chia seeds contain bio-available calcium and manganese (for stronger teeth and bones), phosphorus, (for synthesizing protein for cell and tissue growth and repair), protein, and tryptophan (for regulating appetite and sleep, and improving mood).

Chia seeds have also been shown, according to the Cleveland Clinic, to improve blood pressure in people with diabetes, and may also increase healthy cholesterol while lowering total, LDL, and triglyceride cholesterol.

There are just many things to like about this little seed from the mint family native to Mexico and Guatamala, where it was a very important food crop for the Aztecs.  Chia has remained in regular use in its native countries, but was largely unknown in North America until about 1929, when it began to be grown in Argentina, and then gradually made its way to us.

I often add some chia seeds to my green smoothies.  They can also be sprinkled on salads, made into puddings, and actually incorporated into many other dishes.  You may enjoy this easy, healthy, and satisfying  Chia porridge recipe.

Chia, apple, walnuts, raisins -- yum!
Breakfast Chia Porridge* (serves 1)

2 Tbs chia seeds
1/3 cup water
1/3 apple, chopped (or sliced banana)
2 Tbs walnuts, chopped
2 Tbs raisins
½ Tbs agave or honey
A pinch of cinnamon


In a bowl, stir together the ground chia seeds and water.
Let stand for a few minutes so it can gel.
Add the chopped apple (or sliced banana), chopped walnuts, and raisins.
Top with the agave and add a pinch of cinnamon, if desired.  
And yes, I did try adding chia to my biking water bottles.  I liked that it gives the water a little “substance” and does, as Jenny suggested, keep my stomach feeling comfortable. I plan to keep up the practice.  If you try it, too, let me know.  It’s good to share these things in our ongoing journey towards greater health, vitality and vigor. 

*from Rona Lee in Maven of Health

Friday, August 9, 2013

My Favorite Recipes – Watermelon Soup

A great addition to any summer meal
I couldn’t let the summer go by without recommending this delicious recipe to you. I think I’ve made four batches so far this summer, and there will surely be more before we swing into fall.

Watermelon soup is very tasty. It is helpful in alleviating depression and is a natural diuretic.  Watermelon has more lycopene than tomatoes, which have been helpful in protecting against certain cancers.

Here, then, is the recipe, always a crowd pleaser at home, potlucks and picnics! Try it!


5 cups watermelon, seeded and cubed
2 cups mango, peeled and diced
 ¼ cup lime juice
3 Tbs. fresh mint, chopped
1 Tbs. fresh ginger, minced
1 Tbs. honey
1/8 tsp ground cardamom 

  1. Place 3 ½ cups watermelon and 1 cup mango in a food processor and blend until smooth.
  2. Dice up the remaining 1 ½ cups watermelon and 1 cup mango into a puree and add to the puree.
  3. In a small, separate bowl, combine the lime juice, mint, ginger, honey, and cardamom.  Add this to the previous mixture and stir well.
  4. Chill and serve.
Alissa Cohen –Living on Live Food

Such beautiful food!
For those of you who love learning more about the nutrient values of your food, here is some additional information about  this slurpy, wonderful fruit.

It is cold, sweet, and alkalinizing, and while it is very sweet  tasting, it contains only half as much sugar as an apple does.  It is also a good source of beta carotene, vitamin C, potassium, and silicon.  The inner, pale green rind of watermelon contains chlorophyll and can be eaten along with the pink meat. The fruit’s black seeds contain curcurbocitrin,  which dilates the capillaries, and are a traditional remedy for strengthening the kidneys. If that isn’t enough good news for this slurpy,wonderful fruit, here’s some more. 
Watermelon has antibacterial, antioxidant, anticoagulant, diuretic, and laxative properties. It lubricates the intestines, and is considered a rejuvenating tonic for the blood.  It has been used in treatments for halitosis, hangover, mouth sores, sore  throat, and urethral pain.
When on the vine, the melon develops a white spot where it touches the ground;  when this white spot turns yellow or cream colored, it indicates ripeness.  A ripe melon will be heavy for is size, have a sweet fragrance, have skin that can be scraped off easily with a fingernail, and make a dull, hollow sound when thumped.

Beautiful Watermelon Salad
Watermelon is best enjoyed on its own, but you can add it to other melons in a fruit salad, juice it, or freeze the pure`e for a cool watermelon sorbet.  Or, for a truly invigorating watermelon tonic that will help build the blood and strengthen the glands, try juicing the seeds, rind, and pink meat all together, assuming you're working with an organic melon.
Let us know how you like to have your watermelon.
An extra thought- Many people along the way have asked me how to access this blog.  While it is available through my website, you can get it each week (approximately) without having to lift a finger by filling in the "follow by email box" in the right sidebar here.  That way you don't have to remember to go looking for it. Thanks!  I appreciate your interest......Jane