3 Benefits of the Herb Sorrel

3 Benefits of the Herb Sorrel

3 Benefits of the Herb Sorrel

It was held in high esteem by Henry VIII, Roman soldiers sucked on the leaves to quench their thirst and Thomas Jefferson attempted to grow it in his garden.  Sorrel, native to North America, Europe and Asia means “sour” in French and goes by other names such as Bread and Cheese, Sour Leaves, Tom Thumbs and Sour Sauce. This powerful little herb can do wonders for your overall health but also has a dark side.

Digestion and Liver

Through out Europe, Sorrel has been used as a spring tonic to help stimulate the liver after a winter of eating rich foods.  Consuming it as a soup is gentle on the liver and helps aid digestion. Sorrel, just like many other leafy greens is a good source of fibre, meaning when you add the leaves to salads it adds bulk to food therefore improving digestion and reducing constipation and diarrhea.  Fibre, according to the American Heart Association helps reduce cholesterol and aids in weight reduction.

Immune System

Sorrel is rich in vitamin C which most know is great to keeping the immune system strong and healthy.  Vitamin C is also an antioxidant and helps combat free radicals in the body.  A cup of sorrel keeps the doctor away!

Skin Conditions

A leaf may be used as a poultice to help treat skin conditions such as acne, rashes and dry itchy skin.  Because of its high vitamin C content it is also a great way to boost collagen production to keep skin looking and feeling good.  The antioxidants prevent premature aging in the skin, helping you keep that youthful glow.

The Dark Side

Be mindful not to consume Sorrel in too great a quantity or too frequently.  It contains oxalic acid and consuming too much may cause damage to your health.  Very large doses can be poisonous.  If you suffer from kidney stones, gallstones, or rheumatic type conditions you will want to limit your usage of Sorrel.  However, in small quantities it can be a very powerful herb to your health.

5 Natural “Pick Me Ups” for an Energy Boost

5 Natural “Pick Me Ups” for an Energy Boost

5 Natural “Pick Me Ups” for an Energy Boost

We all feel low energy from time to time. Some of us more than others unfortunately. Instead of heading for the coffee try these natural, healthier ways to give you an energy boost and avoid that 3pm slump.

1. Smell the Lemons

Sniffing lemons or better yet lemon essential oil. Lemons are considered and uplifting and energizing scent. If you’re energy is low smell the lemons!

2. Move your Arse!

Get outside and go for a walk, breathe in some fresh air. Moving the body, getting the blood flowing and breathing more oxygen into the body are all an easy, inexpensive way to boost your energy anytime of the year. Yes, even when it’s cold outside!

3. Laugh

Laughing is not only a great stress reducer, it’s perfect for boosting your energy. If you’ve got a 10 minute break during your work day, hop on to YouTube and watch some funny videos, like this one or this one.

4. Hydrate

If you are feeling tired or low energy, drink some life…water! Water is life and when we are dehydrated our bodies can’t function as they should. Add some lemon to your water for an even greater energy boost.

5. Drink Matcha Green Tea

Samurai warriors would drink matcha green tea before going to battle for endurance and keeping their energy up. You also won’t feel the side-effects you do with other stimulants like coffee.

What naturally ways do you use to keep your energy up? Share in the comments below.

5 Heart Healthy Foods

5 Heart Healthy Foods

5 Heart Healthy Foods

When it comes to eating for good health, choosing foods for heart health should be at the top of your list. The heart is the organ that literally keeps us going – delivering nutrients, oxygen and disease fighters throughout the body.

According to the World Health Organization heart disease is the number one cause of death globally and more people die annually from heart disease than from any other cause.  They also state that 13% of all deaths can be attributed to raised blood pressure. Here in Canada, heart disease is the #1 killer of women, 1 in 3 women will die from heart disease.

With that, I want to share with you some simple foods that you can easily add to your diet on a regular basis to help prevent heart disease

Summer Berries

Think blackberries, blueberries, raspberries and strawberries.  These berries are some of our most powerful disease-fighting foods.  Blueberries and blackberries get their dark colours from the powerful antioxidant anthocyanins and are packed with heart-healthy fibre and vitamin C (also an antioxidant).  They can also help increase your good cholesterol (HDL), reduce blood pressure and have also been shown to promote good blood flow.

Good to know: do not wash your berries until you are ready to eat them, excess moisture during storage will hasten decay.

Ideas for use:  eat them by the bowl full, toss on salads, cereals or yogurt, and great in a smoothie.

Dark Chocolate

Studies have shown that eating a small amount of dark chocolate 2 to 3 times weekly can help lower your blood pressure.  It also improves blood flow and may help prevent the formation of blood clots. Dark chocolate is also very helpful is lowering your bad cholesterol (LDL)

Good to know:  this only applies to dark chocolate, I usually recommend at least 70% dark chocolate.

Ideas for use:  I think this is easy to figure out!

Spinach

Spinach is only one of two plant sources that are rich in co-enzyme Q10 (CoQ10), the other is broccoli.  CoQ10 is vital for heart and muscle health.  Doctors often recommend patients to supplement with CoQ10 if you are using a statin drug, as statin drugs deplete CoQ10 from the body.  Spinach is also rich in potassium and folic acid, both used to reduce your risk of high blood pressure.

Good to know:  organic is best, as with any leafy greens they tend to have high pesticide residue if grown conventionally.

Ideas for use:  in smoothies, spinach and berry salad, toss into soups or mixed in your omelette or throw on a pizza.

Nuts and Seeds

All nuts and seeds are great they are a great source of healthful proteins, vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids.  Walnuts and ground flaxseeds are high in fibre and Omega 3s, which are very beneficial for the heart

Good to know:  always store nuts and seeds in the fridge, the oils are very delicate and can turn rancid if exposed to light, heat and air for too long.

Ideas for use:  in smoothies, on salads, on granola or eaten by the handful

Legumes

These beauties are loaded with protein, fibre, iron, folic acid and potassium and are virtually fat-free.  All of which benefits the heart by lowering cholesterol and triglyceride (blood fat) levels.  They have also been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease.

Good to know:  To further reduce the gas-producing properties of beans, add a large strip of dried kombu seaweed to the pot of beans and water prior to boiling. Remove the kombu once cooking is finished.

Ideas for use:  hummus, salads, stews, chilli, the possibilities are endless!

Here’s What you Can Eat Before and After Working Out

Here’s What you Can Eat Before and After Working Out

Here’s What you Can Eat Before and After Working Out

As a nutritionist and personal trainer one of the most frequent questions I get asked is “What should I eat before and after my workouts?” or “How much protein should I eat after working out?”  Unfortunately the answer to these questions can become confusing, as there is so much information out there and the information is always changing as new research is being done.  That being said I’ll try my best to share some simple tips with you to help you greater success when working out and achieving your health goals.

What you eat before and after your works really does depend on your fitness level and what goal you want to achieve with your exercise routine.  If for example you are planning to run a marathon in the next couple of months your eating habits will be very different from some one who enjoys running solely for it’s health benefits.  The following advice I’m going to give is for most of us who take part in exercise as a part of healthy balanced lifestyle, not for the elite athlete.

Before Exercise:

Numerous studies have concluded that consuming carbohydrates before exercise results in improved performance when compared with exercising on an empty stomach.  Many experts recommend a low GI (glycemic index) meal before exercise to supply sustained energy during your workout.  Low GI foods are foods that don’t spike your blood sugar, for example whole grain bread would be considered low GI compared to white bread which would be considered high GI, as it can spike your blood sugar levels which sets you up for a crash later.

Here are some examples of low GI foods:

Fruits – apples, pears, oranges, grapefruit
Vegetables – most vegetables including sweet potato
Grains and breads – whole grain pasta and breads, barley, rye
Nuts and seeds – almonds, brazil nuts, sunflower and sesame
Fish, lean meat, poultry and eggs
Cheese, yogurt, keifer

For a complete list you can visit glycemicindex.com for a list of low and high GI foods.

When is the best time to eat before exercise?

I personally recommend waiting at least 1 hour after eating to work out. But ideally, you should eat between 2 and 4 hours before working out, this leaves enough time for your stomach to settle so you don’t feel uncomfortable, not too full and not too hungry.  However, the exact timing of your pre-exercise meal will depend on your daily schedule and the time of day you plan to exercise.

What would be an example of a pre-workout meal?

Pre-Workout Meals Ideas (2-4 hours before exercise):

  • sandwich filled with chicken, egg or peanut butter and a salad
  • pasta with tomato-based pasta sauce and vegetables
  • chicken with rice and salad
  • vegetables with noodles or quinoa

Pre-Workout Snack ideas (1-2 hours before exercise):

During Exercise:

For most activities lasting less than an hour, drinking anything other than water is unnecessary.

During Exercise (this is for long distance, endurance or high intensity training only):

  • coconut water or electrolyte drink
  • diluted fruit juice
  • handful dried fruit
  • banana
  • energy gel

*note:  it’s important to begin consuming carbs before fatigue sets in.  It takes at least 30 minutes for the carb to be absorbed into the bloodstream.  It’s best to begin consuming carb soon after the start of your workout, certainly within the first 30 minutes.

After Exercise:

The best time to start refuelling is as soon as possible after exercise, during the first 2 hours replenishment to muscles is most rapid.  Therefore, eating carbohydrates during this time speeds up recovery time.  However, when you consume protein and carbohydrates together immediately after exercise they promote more efficient muscle tissue growth as well as faster refuelling of the bodies energy stores.

Many people believe that it’s protein you need most of after your workout.  But if for example your exercise consisted of running for at least 1 hour at moderate intensity, you’ve burned a lot of your bodies fuel.  If you only consumed protein, you are not restoring the bodies fuel tanks, remember that carbs are the fuel for the body.  So, when you go running tomorrow you’ll find you won’t have as much energy and will feel fatigued much faster. You have depleted the bodies fuel and haven’t filled up.  Just like a car, you can’t get very far with an empty gas tank.  Therefore, the optimal post-workout meal or drink should include protein and carbohydrates in a ratio of about 1:4.

Post-Exercise snack ideas (consumed within 2 hours after exercise):

What are some of your favourite meals before and after working out? Share in the comments below. 

Dangers of Dehydration

Dangers of Dehydration

Dangers of Dehydration

If you’re thirsty then you are in the danger zone. If your pee is dark yellow then you are in the danger zone.

It’s time to listen up and hear what your body is telling you. Water is so important to our health, our mind and of course our life. Without it we die, plain and simple.

On episode 27 of Cut the Crap & Keep it Real Podcast, my guest Shawn Stevenson talks in great depth about water and how important it is to our brain, our DNA and energy levels. He also explains what’s in our water and where we can find the best water possible to consume. I highly recommend you give this water episode a listen.

In this post I want to share with you some of the dangers that being in a dehydrated state can pose.

Water has the amazing power to heal, it nourishes us from the inside out and has many minerals in it that the human body needs. We are also made of mostly water, we are approximately 70-80% water. Crazy to think right? Especially when we look at ourselves and see mostly solid matter.

Water is involved in many bodily functions. It’s aids our digestion, helps us go to the bathroom (#2), it carries nutrients to the body and removes wastes from the body. It improves our circulation, gives us energy and keeps our brain functioning correctly (although I sometimes worry about mine! LOL)

One thing you must note is that the amount of water you need daily varies from person to person. Your water intake depends on your weight, how active you are, climate and of course your diet. If you are consuming more dehydrating foods such as fries, meat, dairy, coffee, potato chips, sugar etc. you are going to need more water.

How does water function in your body?  Well, check this out:

  • Improves oxygen delivery to the cells
  • Transports nutrients
  • Helps the cells to stay hydrated
  • Moistens oxygen for easier breathing
  • Cushions bones and joints
  • Absorbs shocks to joints and organs
  • Regulates body temperature
  • Removes wastes and flushes toxins
  • Prevents tissues from sticking
  • Lubricates joints
  • Improves cell to cell communication
  • Maintain normal electrical properties of cells
  • Improves the bodies natural healing process

You may view dehydration as an inconvenience and I often hear people say they don’t like the taste of water. But the truth is if left untreated, being dehydrated can be life-threatening. Every year millions of people die because of dehydration and every summer many people fall ill to dehydration because of heat stroke. Children are more affected than adults, it’s important to keep your kiddies well water at all times especially in the summer heat, and juice and pop don’t count! Dehydration kills more children worldwide than malaria, AIDS and tuberculosis combined.

We lose water daily through our skin (sweat), lungs (breathing), pee and our poop.  Without enough water, we basically dry ourselves out. Think of the earth when it hasn’t rained in weeks. You start to see cracks in the soil. That’s what happens to our bodies. We begin to see cracks. Dehydration is linked to a long list of chronic health conditions such as diabetes, arthritis, back pain, cataracts, chronic fatigue, depression, heartburn, colitis, kidney stones, migraines, constipation and asthma to name a few.

What are some of the signs and symptoms of dehydration?

Early or mild dehydration includes (partial list):

  • Thirst
  • Headache
  • Back Pain
  • Cramping in arms and legs
  • Little or no urine, dark yellow
  • Dry mouth and tongue
  • Cracking of the lining of the nose causing the nose to bleed

Moderate to sever dehydration includes (partial list):

  • Extreme thirst
  • Low blood pressure
  • Fainting
  • Fast, weak pulse
  • Rapid, deep breathing
  • Bloated stomach
  • Severe muscle contractions in arms, legs, stomach and back
  • Lack of elasticity of the skin

Severe dehydration includes:

  • Loss of consciousness
  • Cool moist extremities
  • Rapid feeble pulse
  • Extremities display bluish tint (caused by lack of circulation)
  • Major organ, including heart, lungs, and brain begin to fail

It’s best to consume your water throughout the day, starting your day with 1 litre upon wakening up and if you add lemon it is a great gentle detox for the liver. If you can aim for at least 2-3 litres of water a day, you are way ahead of the pack. Your body will thank you, you’ll have more energy, less pain, better digestion and overall better health!

 

Eat Healthy and Save Money

Eat Healthy and Save Money

Eat Healthy and Save Money

Guest post by Jamie Logie

If you’re on Tanya’s website you are probably becoming more aware of the things you want to include and eliminate from your diet. The next step is where are the best places to get those items and save some money while you’re doing it?

Money saving tips are always appreciated, especially if you’re like me and need every last cent to keep expanding your Golden Girls commemorative
plate collection..

The first tip is being aware of how grocery stores are designed to make you spend more money. Pretty much every store you’ve ever gone in has the same layout and you might have wondered why that is. Learning how to navigate them more effectively is the first step to saving money.

Remember the movie Labyrinth with David Bowie and a young Jennifer Connelly? These stores have the same idea to try to have you never leave, but the stores have less of the “bog of eternal stench”.

When you walk in the first thing you are greeted by is usually flowers, a bakery and colorful produce. This is called the decompression zone and is meant to make you feel calm and not in a rush. Remember in retail the longer you stay in a store the more money you will spend.

If you look at the layout you basically have a giant ring that goes around a store and that is where all the real whole foods will be, these are the things you want to focus your diet around. The problem is when you follow the ring it brings you around to the center aisles. At the end of each aisle are what they call “end caps” and this is where you see promotional and sale items. This encourages you to go down the aisle and be exposed to hundreds of products. When you come out the other end you are face to face with the checkout registers. If you are not ready to pay you generally go up the next aisle and are basically put into this funnel system that makes you weave through the entire store. (Have you ever gone into a grocery store, not bought anything and tried to get out? It’s almost impossible, like Kim Kardashian trying to solve a rubix cube)

So the best way to navigate these stores properly is to have a plan.

Firstly, go in with a shopping list. The average person spends 15 minutes in a store before buying something and that leads to overspending. Knowing
what you want gets you in and out quicker. Also try to shop on a Tuesday, that’s generally the slowest day in a grocery stores. More crowds = more time spent inside which leads to overspending and items you probably don’t need at all.

What are some money-saving tips while you’re in there? I’m glad you asked!

  1. Buy chicken breast with bone in. This can cut the price in half
  2. Save bones from chicken for making stock which you can use in soups
  3. If buying pork choose the pork shoulder over the loin. Cheaper and in my opinion is better tasting.
  4. When buying frozen fruit or veg go for the store brand generic type. More often than not this type of product comes from the same place as more expensive brand types. That cost difference comes from basically paying for something that is a brand that has packaging and advertisements. Frozen food is an often overlooked but can be an incredibly valuable and helpful product. You only use what you need and the rest doesn’t need to spoil and only tends to cost a few dollars per package. Since they are flash frozen the nutrient content is better preserved than a fresh item that might have sat on the shelves for a while and had a long travel time.
  5. A no brainer is that vegetables and fruit will not only be better for you but are cheaper than processed foods. The average price for a huge bunch of Kale is $1.99 where I live and has enough kale for about 3-5 salads or almost 8 green smoothies. I can’t point out enough that healthy foods are cheaper.
  6. Your best value for cuts of beef are going to be brisket, skirt steak, flank steak, chuck & blade, top rump. This is where a slow cooker can be your best friend. Slow cooking can take any type of cheaper cut and turn it into a fantastic, tender dish. You can add in things like broth that you made, vegetables, garlic etc set it for 6 hours or so and just leave it. It turns out to only costing you a few dollars a portion and makes incredibly good meals. If you’re in a grocery store look for the cheaper cuts or if at a market or butcher ask them for these cuts as well. The farmers and butchers will also know the best way to cook the various cuts of meat and what goes well with them so use them as a great resource!
  7. Quinoa– quinoa is not a grain but a seed and good organic varieties are becoming as cheap as rice. This ingredient can be stretched far in dishes as well as making salads.
  8. Bulk Stores– A lot of people tend to think of Bulk stores as places where you can buy mass amounts of jelly beans or gummy worms but they are a very overlooked resource. These stores can be of great assistance in saving money and storing up on some key items. They are great places to get things like raw nuts, seeds, wild rice, flax and chia, coconut and almond flours and a lot of great gluten-free products.
  9. For fresh veg that you buy keep them in either a plastic bag or brown bag and wrap the bag up while trying to squeeze all the air out. Doing this and keeping it in a vegetable crisper in your fridge will vastly extend the life of the Veg. Keeping as much air out as possible allows it to not break down, wilt or turn brown
  10. Grow your own herbs– If you’re like me you use a ton of herbs for things like salads to almost every dish I eat. Herbs contain important phytonutrients that help in fighting disease and providing us with antioxidants along with enhancing the flavor of our food. Packages of seeds can be bought for very little growing plants that cost pennies a piece.

The easiest herbs to grow also tend to be some of the best for you such as:

  • parsley
  • borage
  • basil
  • sage
  • thyme

O.K there’s a few shopping tips but you might be interested in how money saving starts at home. The average person is throwing out around 20 pounds of food per month and that ends up costing around $2000 a year.

Here’s a few food storage tips to make them last longer:

  • keeping salad wrapped in a towel can get you an extra week out of it
  • celery, broccoli and lettuce can be wrapped in tinfoil to greatly extend its life in the fridge
  • a little bit of butter on the side of cheese will help it from drying out
  • asparagus should be stored like flowers in some form of jar or vase with water in the bottom
  • keep mushrooms in a paper bag not plastic
  • if you do drink milk keep it in the cooler back of the fridge. Milk kept on the door is always the first thing exposed to warm air which can cause its freshness to be compromised
  • cheese on the other hand can be stored in the warmest part of the fridge like the door or vegetable drawer
  • potatoes stored with onions can spoil faster. Storing them with apples also helps prevent them from sprouting
  • mix one part vinegar and 10 parts water to swirl berries in to keep them from going moldy and soft. You won’t taste the vinegar but will extend the life of the berries
  • keep bananas away from other fruits. They emit ethylene gas which accelerates ripening
  • putting tomatoes in plastic bags causes them to spoil faster. They are best stored in a single layer at room temperature
  • ginger can be stored in the freezer to last indefinitely and is still able to be peeled and grated

So there you have it, hopefully you can take some of these tips and apply them to not only help your health but your wallet.

Or in my case my Hello Kitty coin purse..


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Listen to Jamie on The Cut the Crap and Keep it Real Podcast


Jamie LogieJamie Logie is a personal trainer and certified nutrition and wellness specialist who runs regainedwellness.com a website devoted to helping you take back your health. He also has his own podcast of the same name Regained Wellness that is very popular on iTunes.  

See Raw Food as an Adventure

See Raw Food as an Adventure

See Raw Food as an Adventure

Guest post by Russell James, The Raw Chef

In the words of Norman Cook, “We’ve Come a Long Way, Baby”.

When I got into raw food over 10 years ago, the mantra was, “cooked food is poison”.

Only 100% raw would do.

If you’re just catching up with the burgeoning raw food scene, the idea behind it is that we only heat foods up to 115 degrees F (46 degrees C) to maintain the most fragile enzymes.  This also preserves the proteins, vitamins and minerals without denaturing them.

So you can imagine that there’s quite a steep learning curve when attempting to cut out all cooked food from your life, unless you live in a cave in Hawaii.

But still, it was put forward that 100% raw from the start is the only way.

And if you were a raw food teacher admitting that you also eat cooked food, it was akin to having a shady past that you had to confess to the masses.

But because we all felt part of something exciting – something everyone should know about, there was always talk of raw food going mainstream.

We couldn’t understand why everyone wasn’t eating this way.  It seemed like the answer to everything.

Now in 2015, it’s so great that you can get raw options in many big city veggie restaurants.  Kale chips are making their way in to health food shops, and raw chocolate is even starting to see it’s way on to the high street, as are more and more successful raw food restaurants.

For this to happen, the ‘rules’ needed to be relaxed.

It needed to be OK to want to eat raw food and not be a ‘raw foodist’.

Just in the same way non-veggies enjoy a vegetarian meal.

I have been 100% raw for periods of time in my life, and I probably will be again.

I’d even go so far to say that when you do eat 100% raw, you feel a like a superhero.  If anyone were in a place where they want to do that, I’d definitely support it.

But pragmatism is King.

Most people I meet on my travels just don’t find 100% of anything – in terms of eating – particularly enjoyable, or feasible.

Too much restriction is a serious fun-sucker.

So over the years, my own eating habits have changed to include as much raw food as I can in my diet.

Although, I have to say, my situation is a lot different to yours, as I’m around raw food a lot, with my classes, recipe developing for online courses and living in central London, where I can very easily get raw food.

So where does that leave us?

I believe it’s all about bringing more options in your life.  It’s about moving towards something that’s really good for you, rather than away from anything you might be trying to ‘give up’.

See raw food as an adventure.

It’s highly likely that you’ll discover a ton of foods – and a level of vibrancy and health – that you never knew existed.

You’ll also discover new ways to prepare everyday ingredients that will excite you.

Although there are books out there about going on a ‘raw food diet’ as a short-term thing, the real benefit comes when you make raw food accessible every day, as a lifestyle choice.

It might start with some spirulina in your smoothie and progress to several raw meals per week.

Or, as I talk about in my Weekday Raw course, it might mean you want to eat all raw during the week, up to dinner.

I’d say eating 50% to 80% raw is a really great place to be.

Because let’s remember, raw foods are whole, plant-based foods.  So all we’re really talking about here is eating more fruits, vegetables, nut and seeds in their most natural state.

My advice for getting started

Everyone is starting from a different place.

If you’re already a foodie, you’ll have a nice kitchen no doubt.  So I probably don’t need to tell you to get a really nice knife and chopping board.  But that’s definitely something everyone should have.

Whatever your resources, both financially and time, make your kitchen a nice place to be.

Make it a social place again if you can, too.

Too often in life we’re looking for shortcuts and ‘hacks’.  The problem is that when you shortcut the important stuff, you get shortcut results.

And I believe how you feed yourself and your family is worth as much time as anything you have on your todo list.

So start with breakfast.

Juices, even if it’s just a celery and cucumber juice to properly hydrate you in the morning, is a wonderful start.

Then you can get into the fancy stuff like raw granola and chia seed pudding.

When I first started out, a green smoothie of mango and spinach kept me going for a couple of hours.

Bring in these changes gradually, and start to build up your repertoire of recipes, finding and saving favourites in a binder or a folder on your computer.

I’ve always said that if you can find 5 recipes that you really love, know how to make and can shop for without needing a recipe, you’ll be in really good shape.

I pretty much lived of kale salad for much of those early days, it was definitely one of my 5.

Raw food is a really wonderful world to explore and dive into, to whatever level you want.

If you become an enthusiast, you might want to start investing in things like a dehydrator (think of this as your raw food oven that only goes up to 115 degrees F), which will open up even more possibilities for you.

I’m excited for you.  If you’re just starting out, this will become so much more than being about the food.  It always does.

Everyone who get into this sees wonderful changes in their life, in areas they hoped they would, but also areas they didn’t even think about.

Raw food changed my life 10 years ago.  I wonder where you’ll be in just a couple of years when you start bringing your food to life.


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Listen to Russell on the Cut the Crap and Keep it Real Podcast


Russell James The Raw Chef

Russell James also known as The Raw Chef has taught thousands of people world-wide about raw foods, through his blog, live classes and his homestudy DVD courses.

Russell’s mission is to show you that far from feeling restricted on a raw food diet, you have an abundance of options. Whether that’s being able to eat raw sandwiches all week or to put on a show-stopping dinner party for friends.

Cooking with Oils

Cooking with Oils

Cooking with Oils

Fats and oils are very important to our diet…in moderation of course…and if it’s the right type of fat!

There are two essential fatty acids (EFAs) that we must consume in our food: linoleic acid (omega 6) and alpha-linolenic acid (omega 3).  EFAs are important  for growth, blood vessels and nerves, our brain, reduce inflammation, and skin to keep it youthful and supple.  In the typical North American diet it is much easier to get omega 6 than omega 3.  Most plant oils (canola, corn, peanut, safflower, sesame, sunflower) contain plenty of omega 6 fatty acids.  Rich sources of omega 3 fatty acids are found in flaxseeds and flax oil, chia seeds, pumpkins seeds, cold water fish such as salmon, halibut, cod, trout and mackerel.

All fats are best eaten in their raw form, but when we do we cook with them, it’s good to know how to cook with them safely.  There are 3 things that can turn oils rancid.  Heat, Air and Light.  When you do buy your oils always buy oils in a dark bottle, away from bright lights and kept in a cool place.

What happens to an oil when frying?

  • rapid oxidation and chemical changes
  • antioxidants are used up, which then produces free radicals
  • produce some trans- fatty acids!

Frying once with oils won’t kill you, but using unstable oils on a regular basis for years our cells accumulate altered and toxic products which then creates cell degeneration causing degenerative diseases.

When foods turn brown, they are burned, the nutrients in the browned material are now destroyed.

Note that frying and deep frying destroys all oils, but some oils are damaged less than others.

If you must fry, use oils that have the least amount of EFAs. Use sulphur-rich garlic and onions to reduce free radical damage.

Here are oils least damaged by high temperatures and oxygen (in this order) are:

  1. Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCTs) – come from tropical oils
  2. Butter
  3. Tropical fats i.e. coconut, palm!
  4. High Oleic Sunflower Oil (not regular sunflower)
  5. High Oleic Safflower Oil (not regular safflower)
  6. Peanut Oil
  7. Sesame Oil
  8. Olive Oil

The following oils should NOT be used for frying at all: 

  • Flax Oil
  • Hemp Seed Oil
  • Fish Oil
  • Canola Oil
  • Soybean Oil
  • Walnut

 

Crazy for Coconuts

Crazy for Coconuts

Crazy for Coconuts

Coconuts, this has to be one of my favourite foods on the planet.  I could eat anything and everything coconut.  My weakness…coconut ice cream, it is divine.  Coconuts not only taste awesome but they are also a powerhouse of nutrition.

Around the world the coconut tree is known as “the tree of life” because it’s a source of shelter, food and medicine.  Dr. Mercola has a great infographic that shows the many uses of the coconut tree and fruit.  But I want to share with you the many many many benefits of introducing coconut to your diet whether it be coconut milk, water, meat, sugar, flour or cream.

Here are just a few of the many benefits of coconuts:

Coconut Milk

This is a blend of coconut water and coconut meat resulting in a wonderful milk emulsion.

  • easier to digest than cows milk because it’s lactose free
  • very healing to the digestive tract and may even heal damage done to the intestinal system in cases of IBS and  Crohn’s disease
  • helps maintain balanced blood sugar levels because it’s a great source of manganese (this mineral is usually deficient in people with blood sugar issues)
  • aids in lowering blood pressure levels because of its high levels of potassium
  • keeps immune system strong because it’s rich in vitamin c
  • helps keep bones strong because it contains phosphorus (phosphorus is needed along with calcium to prevent bone loss)
  • contains high levels of omega 3, 6 and 9 along with rich amounts of amino acids (this is an excellent combination of fats and protein to make it a complete meal)

Skin and Hair

Coconut milk is also excellent for your skin and hair.  It can be used as:

  • an effective skin cleanser and exfoliator
  • helps blood vessels and skin stay elastic
  • rich in vitamin E and oil that work together to moisturize hair deeply
  • also effective at controlling excessive hair loss

Note: if you are buying a can of coconut milk look for a can that does not contain some kind of binder such as carrageen.  You really only want the real deal, 100% coconut milk.

Or try making your own.  Here is a simple way to make your own coconut milk without having to track down actual coconuts.

1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut

2 cup filtered water (or even better use 100% coconut water)

Heat the water.  Put the coconut and hot water into blender.  Blend it until the coconut is completely pureed.  Pour the milk through a milk bag or cheesecloth (incase there is still shredded coconut).  Keep in a glass jar and store in refrigerator for up to 5 days.  Because there are no stabilizers, the fat may rise to the top, just give the jar a shake before you use it. Or scoop out the cream and make your own frosting for cupcakes and other desserts.

Coconut Water

This is actual “living” water.  Yes, that’s right, the water is alive!  Coconut water is actually living tissue of the coconut palm, even months after a coconut has been separated from the tree, it remains alive.  Coconut water is a superfood rich in vitamins, minerals, amino acids, enzymes and sugars.  The primary minerals (or electrolytes) found in coconut water are essentially the same as those found in human blood.  Doctors have been know to use coconut water as an intravenous fluid for rehydration.

  • a great source of electrolytes such as potassium which is necessary for proper hydration.  Drop the sports drinks and start drinking coconut water!
  • contains enzymes that help detoxify and repair the body
  • been known to be of benefit in relieving fatigue, constipation, dehydration, kidney and bladder disorders, slows down the aging process
  • boost energy and endurance, enhancing physical and athletic performance
  • improves digestion and bowel function

Note:  read the labels when buying coconut water.  You only want 100% coconut water in the ingredient list.  I’m seeing many coconut water products out there that are from concentrate or have a lot of added sugar in them.

Coconut Oil

I’d say is one of the healthiest oils out there.  Yes, coconut oil is a saturated fat, that has given a bad rap in the past, but it’s time to be no longer afraid, enjoy the many benefits this health promoting oil has to offer.

  • is anti-fungal and anti-bacterial
  • promotes weight loss
  • safest oil to cook with at high heat
  • strengthens immune system
  • great for skin and hair
  • boosts metabolism

Note:  look for organic, virgin, cold pressed oil

There are many other coconut products out there for you to try.  Coconut cream could be used in desserts or soups, coconut sugar used as a healthy sweetener, or try coconut flour in baking.

What coconut products do you love to use?

Tea Time: Yerba Mate

Tea Time: Yerba Mate

Tea Time: Yerba Mate

I am a huge tea drinker, I have one cupboard in my kitchen dedicated solely to tea.  I drink everything from green tea to chamomile, rose hip to peppermint, fennel to dandelion, hawthorn to chai to name just a few.  Tea is such a big part of my everyday life and the benefits of teas are endless.

Teas are hot or cold drinks that can do much more than quench your thirst.  I believe teas are an excellent way to get the healing power of herbs into your diet everyday.  Mother Natures prescription! The trick is to try not to add sugar or milk to the tea, drink it black to get the greatest benefits. 

Yerba Mate (YERB-ah mah-TAY)

This tea hails from South America, the shrub can be found in Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina, it is considered the national drink of Argentina.  The name Yerba means “excellence” and Mate refers to the “matti gourd” which was traditionally used to hold the tea.

Benefits:

Enhances brain function – used as a physical and mental energy tonic, it also improves memory and concentration.  It also has the ability to increase mental alertness and does it without any side effects such as nervousness or jitters.

Stress reliever – rich in Pantothenic acid (B5), also known as the stress vitamin stimulates the adrenal glands, which regulate the production of hormones adrenaline and cortisone.

Boosts immune system – because it’s rich in antioxidants and vitamin C it’s a great tonic for boosting your immune system.

Aids digestion – is known to stimulate increased bile flow which aids digestion.

Aids weight loss – it is known to increase the rate at which fat is burned.  Yerba Mate is an appetite suppressant, it’s drinkers usually feel fuller for longer.

Yerba Mate is rich in the following nutrients:

Vitamins: A, C, E, B1, B2, Niacin (B3), B5, B Complex

Minerals: Calcium, Manganese, Iron, Selenium, Potassium, Magnesium, Phosphorus

Additional Compounds: Fatty Acids, Chlorophyll, Flavonols, Polyphenols, Trace Minerals, Antioxidants, and 15 Amino Acids.

Try Yerba Mate the native way, sauté brown sugar with lemon juice, brown it in a pan and add it to your yerba mate.