Wednesdays Without Barcodes: Teriyaki Bird Food

I have to admit, when snacking off the grid I sometimes feel like I eat a lot of bird food…so sometimes I have to get creative.  Nuts and seeds, when properly prepared are wonderful sources of healthy fats, complementary proteins and a host of micronutrients.

Sunflower seeds provide significant amounts of vitamin E, magnesium and selenium.  These nutrients are known to calm and detoxify the entire body, reduce inflammation, lower cholesterol and help prevent heart both heart disease and cancer (source).

Pumpkin seeds, or pepitas, are another super seed which are known for promoting prostate health, increasing bone density and reducing inflammation better than pharaceuticals!

“The healing properties of pumpkin seeds have also been recently investigated with respect to arthritis. In animal studies, the addition of pumpkin seeds to the diet has compared favorably with use of the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug indomethacin in reducing inflammatory symptoms. Importantly, though, pumpkin seeds did not have one extremely unwanted effect of indomethacin: unlike the drug, pumpkin seeds do not increase the level of damaged fats (lipid peroxides) in the linings of the joints, a side-effect that actually contributes to the progression of arthritis.” (source)

Birds must be amazing healthy little critters, but I bet they are jealous that they don’t have these tasty seeds!

TERIYAKI BIRD FOOD
Ingredients

  • filtered water
  • 1 – 2 TBS Celtic sea salt
  • 1 lb raw sunflower seeds
  • 1 lb raw pumpkin seeds
  • 15 – 20 dates, soaked and drained
  • 1 TBS ginger
  • 2 TBS crushed garlic
  • 2 TBS soy sauce (use tamari for a gluten free version)

Preparation

  1. Place seeds in a large bowl and cover with filtered water.  Add 1 – 2 TBS of Celtic sea salt and soak 8 hours or overnight.  Drain.  Should be about 8 C soaked seeds.
  2. About an hour before seeds are done soaking bring a pot of filtered water to a boil and then remove from heat, add dates and cover.  Allow dates to soak for 1 hour.  Drain.
  3. In a food processor, process soaked dates until a smooth paste forms.
  4. Add ginger, garlic and soy sauce and continue to process.
  5. Scrape paste into bowl with soaked and drained seeds and mix well to coat.
  6. Place on non-stick dehydrator sheets and dehydrate for about 20 hours at 115° degrees. Or use the oven method (below)*.
  7. Store in air tight glass jars.

Eat Well, Be Well (Tweet, Tweet),
April

*OVEN DEHYDRATING METHOD
Spread items to be dehydrated out onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper and place in the oven.  If you have a convection setting use it, if not, prop the door open using a small metal object such as a measuring cup to allow air to circulate.  Dehydrate at 150° (or your oven’s lowest possible temperature) for 8 – 12 hours or until crispy.  You will lose some of the enzymes with this method, but will still have a yummy treat!

This post was shared on Read Food Wednesday with Kelly the Kitchen Kop.

Defining Spring Butter & Demystifying Margarine

©iStockphoto.com/multiart

It’s hard to believe that spring is already here, but the lilacs and tulips don’t lie.  Along with the beautiful colors and scents, this season brings another magical creation…spring butter!  Before I embarked on my real food journey I had never heard of spring butter, and although I definitely preferred the taste of butter, I always shopped for margarine like a good health-conscious consumer.   Ahh…if I knew then what I know now…

Though conventional nutrition myths and food politics still prevail, raw, grassfed butter really is an amazingly nutrient dense superfood, and it is far better for your health and your waistline than it’s highly processed counterparts.

Here’s the breakdown.  Raw, grassfed butter is chock-full of the following:

  • Vitamins A,  D, K2 and E:  These are essential nutrients which have been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease and osteoporosis as well as aid in thyroid function.  These vitamins are necessary for growth and development in children. Vitamin A is also a powerful antioxidant helping to protect the body from free radicals.    NOTE:  Vitamins A, D, K & E are fat soluble vitamins, so they need fat in order to be properly absorbed and utilized.  Luckily, butter has that built right in and it’s way tastier than any multivitamin I’ve ever tried.  
  • Minerals:   Butter is an excellent source of iodine, as well as the trace minerals zinc, copper, manganese, chromium and selenium.
  • Fatty Acids: short- and medium-chain fatty acids as well as conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), have been shown to protect against cancer, support immune function and boost metabolism. CLA helps the body to build muscle rather than store fat. Glycospingolipids in butter protect against gastrointestinal infection, especially in the very young and the elderly. Arachidonic acid is important for brain function, as well as skin health and hormone balance.
  •  Cholesterol:  Cholesterol, though villianized, is essential to maintain proper brain and nervous system functioning.  It is especially important for children’s developing brains!
  • Wulzen FactorOtherwise know as stigmasterol, this “antistiffness” factor is present in raw animal fats (pasteurization destroys it) and helps prevent arthritis and joint stiffness by sending calcium to the bones rather than the joints and tissue of the body.

Spring Butter is butter that is made in the spring when the pastures are bursting with new growth.  This creates a much richer golden color in the butter indicative of the extra nutrients present, especially vitamin A.  Butter connoisseurs covet it for it’s floral notes and aroma as well.  Basically it’s butter on steroids so stock up if you have access.

So butter is good stuff, right?  Now let’s take a look at the supposedly healthier choice…margarine.
Margarine has these fine qualities:

  • Trans Fat:  Everyone has finally acknowledged that man made trans fat is “unsafe at any level” and is partially responsible the current health crisis (cancer, heart disease, infertility).  The FDA technically “banned” it; however, the regulations state, “if the serving contains less than 0.5 gram [of trans fat], the content, when declared, shall be expressed as zero.” So over the course of the day, if you eat several servings of foods containing “zero trans fats”, such as margarine, you are most likely consuming far more of this health hazard than you realize.  NOTE:  if the words partially hydrogenated appear on the label, this product contains trans fats. (source)
  • Free Radicals:  These are caused by the high temperature industrial processing of the vegetable oils and have been linked to both cancer and heart disease.
  • Chemicals:  Margarine is naturally grey in color which is not very appealing, so it is bleached and then artificial yellow coloring is added.  Hexane and other solvents are used in the extractions process and butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT) is added to prevent spoilage.  BHT has been linked to cancer, developmental toxicity, allergies, neurotoxicity, endocrine disruption, biochemical or cellular level changes. (source)
  • Artifical FlavorsWithout these, margarine smells and tastes pretty bad and why would you want artificial when you can have the real thing!?!
  • Sterols:  These are added to give spreads cholesterol lowering qualities; but are in fact linked to endocrine disruption.

Don’t be fooled, margarine and spreads are industrialized, highly processed, food-like products, but they are by no means real food and certainly not health foods!

So your best option is to find a local butch shop or farm that sells raw, grassfed/pastured butter.  If you come up empty check with your local WAPF chapter leader as they may know a source.  If you still strike out, opt for pasteurized butter from grass-fed cows.  This is becoming more and more available in specialty grocery stores.  Organic butter from a conventional grocery story is still going to be a much better option than margarine or spreads despite what the package may promise.  Bottom line: butter is better!

Eat Well, Be Well,
April

Here is a great butter brochure put out by the Weston A. Price Foundation that you can print.

Debunking Cholesterol and Heart Disease

I’ve been trying to do a post on cholesterol and heart disease since I started this blog.  Every time I got rolling on it I would get off track and find myself doing more research on a related topic.  My point is, this is a really involved subject and it’s surrounded by 60 years of politics and damage control.  A friend passed this article on to me earlier today and it’s truly the best written summary of the real cause of our country’s health crisis. This doctor has seen the inside of the human body over 5000 times and he’s on our team.  Here is his account of what really causes heart disease and what we can do to prevent it and undo the damage of a politically correct low fat, high carb diet!
“The injury and inflammation in our blood vessels is caused by the low fat diet recommended for years by mainstream medicine.” -Dr. Dwight Lundell 


World Renown Heart Surgeon Speaks
Out On What Really Causes Heart Disease





Eat Well, Be Well,

April

Demystifying Low Fat Milk

Only one row of whole milk, how sad!

As you may know I’m the mother of two young girls.  Consequently, most of my friends have similarly aged children and when we’re together we talk about sleepless nights, potty trainings and pediatrician appointments.  Nothing sets my hair on fire faster than when one of these friends (with a “mommier than thou” tone) questions why I’m still giving my daughters whole fat milk because their doctor recommended switching over to low fat milk.  I want to say, “because I’m an informed mom who did my research and is making a decision that is my child’s best interest.”  I don’t.  I bite my tongue and say, “It’s what our family drinks,” or some version of that.  I find if I start going into the nutritional details it rarely ends well.  Nutrition, I’m finding is like politics and religion, people really have to be open and willing to have a discussion or things can get heated pretty quickly.  So this my podium.  Maybe some of those moms will read this and know my real answer…but probably they won’t get past this paragraph.
Whole milk, is a whole food full of amazing proteins, vitamins, minerals & essential fats that a growing body and brain needs.  Think about it, this food has everything we need to sustain life!  The further away you get from the whole food you started with, the more non-nutritive that food becomes.  This inculdes milk.  So let’s talk about how low fat/skim milk is processed.

First, the nutritious saturated fat is removed because it’s supposedly unhealthy.  Not to get too far off topic here, but there is a lot of current research debunking the myth that saturated fat and cholesterol cause heart disease.  The biochemistry is a bit confusing and to be quite honest I’m still trying to wrap my brain around some of it, but let’s just say that it’s becoming painfully clear that we’ve been living under some pretty false assumptions about fats for the past 30 years.  This sort of explains why the heart health of Americans has gotten worse, not better!  Anyway, that’s for another post!  So where was I?   The fat is removed and then dried milk is added to give the milk more protein.  “This dried milk is produced by forcing skim milk through tiny holes at high temperatures and pressures which damages its nutrients. This also causes the milk’s cholesterol to become oxidized which is a legitimate risk for heart disease (See Natural Bias).”  Cholesterol oxidization is something that current research is absolutely linking to heart disease.  Again this is for another post, but if you want to learn more now, listen to these two podcasts (Part 1 and  Part 2) by Chris Masterjohn, a PhD candidate in Nutritional Sciences with a concentration in Biochemical and Molecular Nutrition at the University of Connecticut.  So back to the milk, basically they take out the good stuff and put in some potentially bad stuff.  Once the fat is removed, many of the essential vitamins in milk (specifically A & D) are useless, because they are fat soluble.  The fat also helps our bodies digest the protein in milk and promote immune system health and cell metabolism.  See, the nutrients in whole foods have a natural synergy with one another…nature knows what its doing folks.  But wait, there’s more.  Once they’ve removed all of nutrients from the milk, they homogenize it.  Once again the milk is forced through tiny holes at high pressure and temperature to break up the fat molecules.  This completely changes the fat molecules making them more likely to create an autoimmune/allergic reaction and less likely to promote healthy development.   The reason for this extra processing…to keep the cream from rising to the top.  Honestly, that’s it!  It serves no other purpose.  Have we really become so lazy that we can’t shake up a bottle of milk?  Here’s the bottom line:  Skim/Low Fat milk is a highly processed food!  So when you grab that carton from the shelf, you may as well grab a bag of cheesy poofs to go with it.

Aside from heart disease, obesity is another reason cited for drinking low fat milk.  Certainly our country has an obesity epidemic.  Saturated fat is not the cause!  For centuries, people lived on good, saturated animal fats and heart disease and obesity were not issues.  When did this become an issue? When we started eating loads of processed, low fat foods.  Fat is not making us fat.  Processed foods, full of refined sugars and flours that the body can’t properly metabolize are making us fat!  Again, this is another post for another time, but basically when you remove the fat from dairy it becomes more of a simple sugar and the body will metabolically treat it as such.

So if research is showing that low fat milk is less healthy and possibly unhealthy, why is everyone drinking it?  You need to ask yourself,  “Who benefits from his?”  “Who has an agenda?”.  Well, the dairy industry for one.  When the fat is removed from milk it can be used to make other dairy products such as cream & sour cream.  They can charge you twice for the same product.   That’s where politics come in to play.  They dairy industry is a huge lobby.  A lobby which has successfully persuaded the ADA to promote the idea that low fat is better.  Everybody’s making money off this while the state of health in America continues to decline.  I think that’s probably the definition of a “cash cow!” (Pun totally intended.)

Final question: Why do pediatricians often advocate switching to low fat dairy?  This is a great question.  I suggest you ask your doctor.  I suspect you’ll get one of the two answers above, heart disease or obesity.  I further suspect that if you push the issue and ask about the research and science you’ll get dismissed in some way.  The fact is that most doctors have very little nutrition training and they will usually admit that.  Doctors are very good at treating disease, but most are not as good at promoting health.  But you know what?  That’s OK!  Because it is our job to take care of our own health and that of our children, to become informed and to ask questions.  It’s a shame that we have to become biochemists and politicians to do so.  It should be easier, but it’s not.  It’s been predicted that this generation…our children…will be the first generation in centuries to have a shorter life expectancy than their parents.  To me, this makes it totally worth the time and effort.  We owe this to our children!

So take one step right now.  Commit to learning one nutrition FACT each week and making one change in your family’s diet.  Start with this:  Find a source of good, quality milk (unpasteurized and unhomogenized if possible) and let your little ones enjoy this food as it was meant to be enjoyed. You will all be the better for it!

Eat Well, Be Well,
April

For Sources of REAL milk in your area click here.

For more information about milk try these books