Thursday, March 24, 2011


Let's tackle sugar. It can be very confusing so I am going to give you a breakdown of some of the different commonly heard of sugars. I want to make a few terms clear. Refined foods are a reduced version of a whole food that has been chemically or mechanically processed and has little if any nutritional value. Processed foods are altered by refining, cooking or juicing and usually both refined and processed foods have added chemicals like preservatives and are foriegn to the body for metabolism.

Artificial Sweetners are saccharin, and aspartame (Nutrasweet). These synthetic substances are highly refined and derived from wood alcohol, coal tar and amino acids. Sounds yummy huh! Do you think your body is able to recognize those things as food? The FDA has recieved more reports of side effects from these substances than any other. They are in many diet or low fat foods including diet sodas.

Granulated Sugar or table sugar is a highly refined with the beneficial nutrients stripped away. White sugar is very sweet and comes from the refining of beets or sugar cane.

Confectioner's sugar is powdered white sugar

Raw sugar is the residue that is left over after sugar crystals and molasses have been extracted. It is repeatedly processed to remove impurities like mold and fibers.
Turbinado sugar is steam cleaned raw sugar.

Molasses is the boiled juice that is extracted from the refining of sugar cane and beets

Brown sugar is white sugar with a little molasses added for color. It does not contain more nutrients than regular white sugar.

Rapadura is pressed cane sugar that has not been refined and retains most of the sugar cane minerals.

Sucanat is dehydrated sugar cane juice. It is less processed than raw sugar but is still a processed sugar.

Agave Nectar is made from the maguey plant and is fairly low glycemic. It contains inulin which is a beneficial fiber and food for good gut flora.

Malt Sugars come from grains that have been malted. They are not appropriate for people with grain in tolerances.

Stevia is a South American herb. In its natural form it is green. After it has been processed it is white powder or a clear liquid. I have bought stevia leaves at farmer's markets and hear it is easy to grow. It is too sweet for me.

Maple syrup is boiled down sap from maple trees that is either a liquid or crystals. Grade B is better for cooking because it contains more flavor than Grade A.

Date sugar simply comes from dates. It has the same affects on the body as table sugar.

Rice syrup is made from processing rice and is not very sweet so people tend to use more of it.

Honey comes from flower nectar. In the stores most of it has been pasteurized killing enzymes. Raw honey can be purchased in health food stores. It is not pasteurized so the enzymes remain.
No child under 2 years old should be given honey.

Fructose is fruit sugar. It can be found as a refined white sugar.

when I bake or cook I use Agave Nectar or maple syrup. I use honey as well but mostly in tea if I am out somewhere. I do like honey from the farmer's markets over buying it at the stores.
Wer have choices, chose wisely.

Monday, March 21, 2011

simple Facts on Why to Buy organic

If you need a reason to buy organic here are a few....1 billion pounds of pesticides which equals out to 5 pounds per person are being applied to our food in the United States. That is about 10,000 chemicals in our food. About 2% of pesticides and herbicides serve their intended purposes. The soil, water and air absorb the rest. Over time pesticides are stored in animal and human tissues, the fatty tissue of plants and especially the fatty tissues of humans. These are toxic and primarily affect the liver, nervous system and kidneys and contribute to nerve damage, brain dysfunction, poor nutrient metabolism, birth defects and the big C - cancer.
When shopping for organic foods look for the certified organic label because that means that at least 95% of the food is organic. If it is simply labeled organic that means that only 70% of the food is required to be organic. I am not saying not to buy it if it isn't certified, this is an expensive process for farmers, and 70% is better than non organic in my opinion. Now if you are shopping at local farmer's markets that sell organic produce you might find that they are not all certified again b/c it is an expensive, time consuming process but you can talk with the farmers about their growing methods and decide for yourself. Going organic really is important not only for our environment but for our health. You wouldn't spray a can of Raid in your mouth or eat ant bait so why is it ok on your food. Once it is sprayed on it is in there.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Sweet Goodness

A few sweet recipes..

Carob walnut cookies

I tweaked this recipe from the back of the Sunspire carob chips.

1/4 cup coconut oil
1 cup Oat flour
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. ginger
1/2 cup Agave Nectar or honey
1 cup unsweetened carob chips
handful of walnut pieces
1 egg..optional

Combine all ingredients and bake for 15 minutes at 300. as you know I use organic ingredients. The coconut oil is a solid until it is heated. I like to use and encourage everyone to choose a vanilla extract that is alcohol free. The egg is optional...I do not use it any more. If I need more moisture in the dough I add a little more coconut oil.

If you like Cliff Nectar bars or Lara bars this is my version of those....

You will need a large food processor with the s blade. Soak 10 dates for around 10 minutes and then pit them and toss them into the food processor. Set the date soak water aside. Add 1/2 spoonful of Teccino Maya Herbal Coffee and some coconut flakes and nuts to taste. Pulse until blended. You will need a rubber spatula to scrape the sides and pulse again if needed adding some of the date soak water as needed. when it is mixed and not clumpy. Spoon the mixture onto parchment paper and spread it out with a rubber spatula. Leave in the refrigerator for 1 day. It will not get hard but this makes it easier to cut. Enjoy
Play with it adding flavors like cherries, orange zest, etc.

Friday, March 4, 2011

A few words about Whole Grains

I want to type a little bit about grains today. Grains are the edible seeds of plants that belong to the grass family but there are other forms of grains that do not belong to this family like quinoa or buckwheat. In general the grains consumed in the US are super processed. Refined grains have been stripped of their bran and germ which is where the nutrients reside leaving mostly starch behind. It is important to choose whole grains when shopping. Whole grains contain several essential amino acids, B complex vitamins, Vitamin E, minerals like iron and zinc, phytonutrients, etc.
Label reading is important. For instance Whole Wheat bread can be labeled as such as long as some portion of the grain used was whole but unless it say 100% whole wheat it is most likely not. "Wheat Flour" on a label is refined and not whole grain. Brown Rice is a whole grain but white rice is not same with flours.
Amino Acids are the building blocks of protein. Nine of them are essential meaning that our bodies cannot produce them and we need to obtain them in our diet. Grains usually need to be combined to form a complete protein. Legumes and grains will make a complete protein. So beans and rice, rice and soybeans or dried peas are complete proteins.
Whole grains have a much different glycemic index level than refined grains. Whole grains and things made from them are slower to digest because they have greater fiber and nutrient content. This slower rate gives them a lower glycemic number than their refined counterparts.

A few grains to try to incorporate into the diet are Millet, Barley, oats, Brown Rice and Quinoa.

Cooking these is easy...
*Quinoa should be rinsed first and for 1 cup quinoa add 2 cups water. Cooking time is 15 to 25 minutes
*Short Grain Brown Rice 1 cup rice to 2 cups water and cook for 45 minutes
*Long Grain Brown Rice 1 cup rice to 2-21/2 cups water and cook for 45 minutes
*Millett 1 cup millett to 2 -3 cups water and cook for 25 minutes
*Steel Cut Oats 1 cup oats to 2-3 cups water and cook for 30 minutes
*Oat Groats 1 cup to 3 cups water and cook for 50 minutes
* Pearled barley 1 cup to 3 cups water and cook for 30-40 minutes
*Hulled barley 1 cup to 3 cups water and cook for 1 1/2 hours.

My favorite thing to do with grains for a convenient, easy meal is make bowls with them. My bowls are usually brown rice, chopped garlic, chopped veggies of any kind that need eaten, almonds, tamari or shoyu sauce, sesame oil and tempeh lightly steamed or browned in coconut oil with a few sprays of Bragg's Liquid Aminos. If I have leftover beans those go in there too. It is also nice to chop up some kale and let the kale be the base for the rice and veggies. Quinoa is good in place of the rice for something different. Avocado on top is heaven. You know it is nature's butter...but I will save that for another topic.
If I have leftover brown rice I make sure to eat it the next day, only keeping it over night in the refrigerator because it usually has moisture j it which can become a bacteria problem. Anyway I like to eat it like a hot cereal in the morning with rice milk, a little %100 pure maple syrup and some coconut flakes or cinnamon if I have them. You can do the same with Quinoa. In fact instead of making it for dinner or lunch it is a good protein source and energy ignitor to start off the day. Quinoa is a complete protein, a concentrated source of iron and a good source of phosphorus. Phosphorus is necessary for ATP which is our body's energy currency.
There is a lot of information out there about Whole Grains and it can be confusing. Just remember if it is refined you want to stay away from it. It is basically nutritionally dead. A good rule of thumb is if it is white leave it out. That can seem especially difficult with breads..I understand. I used to love fresh, crusty artisan breads myself and I still do. A crusty piece of french bread with olive oil and black pepper is so yummy it worth it in the end is what you need to ask yourself. I even tried making my own bread a few years ago but was not successful. Portland has lots of bakeries and when I first moved here I admit that I did not resist the fresh breads well. I noticed a reaction in my body almost immediately that was not pleasant. I got back on my wagon and, luckily, I enjoy the sprouted breads. It, for me, is easier to choose those because then I don't have to worry about them too much. They take some getting used to because they are heavy breads but they are filling. I like the spelt breads and pastas as well.
Another good rule of thumb is "If it won't rot eat it not". Also a topic for another blog.

Have fun at the market and buy some grains to try next week. Be creative that is how we learn what we like.