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Saturday, March 24, 2012

Turmeric - You're More Than Yellow!

by Francine

photo via
You probably know that by adding turmeric to tofu (or many other things), the original item turns a bright, mustard shade of yellow. This is fun when it comes to preparing something like "faux" scrambled eggs using mashed tofu rather than eggs themselves (or even the whites of eggs, with the added turmeric for yolk color).

But now let's take a look at some of the many benefits of this amazing yellow stuff. . .

1. Useful as a disinfectant--applied directly to cuts. Also helps wounds to heal and helps in remodeling damaged skin.
2. Can help prevent prostate cancer and inhibit the growth of existing prostate cancer.
3. Tests with mice have shown it has prevented breast cancer from spreading to the lungs.
4. Acts as a natural liver detoxifier.
5. Removes amyloyd plaque buildup in the brain, which may delay or prevent Alheimer's.
6. May prevent metastases from occurring in many different forms of cancer.
7. As a natural anti-inflammatory agent, it works extremely well and without the side effects of many anti-inflammatory drugs. Says Dr. John Mercola, (noted osteopathic physician, who practices a "whole person" approach to wellness) ". . . unlike aspirin or ibuprofen, turmeric's curcumin reduces inflammation naturally, without damaging the liver or kidneys."
8. May aid in fat metabolism and help in weight management.
9. Has long been used in Chinese medicine as a treatment for depression.
10. Promising studies are underway on the effects of turmeric on pancreatic cancer.
11. Has been shown to stop the growth of new blood vessels in tumors.
12. May be significant fighter of colorectal cancer, according to researchers at Tel Aviv University. From an article in Medical News Today: "Dr. Shahar Lev-Ari of Tel Aviv University's School of Public Health at the Sackler Faculty of Medicine and his colleagues have found that curcumin can fight cancer when used in combination with a popular anti-inflammatory drug, alleviating the inflammatory response caused when cancer takes root in the body."
13) Dr. Mercola expounds on the benefits of turmeric in relation to antioxidants in this video where he discusses natural sources of antioxidant properties. According to Mercola, turmeric is extremely potent in helping the body protect against free radicals. He suggests using it raw if at all possible and that the quality is high--namely organic. Mercola says this is particularly important with herbal products, because they are not regulated, as prescription drugs are.

An interesting little sidenote about turmeric is that in spite of its prominent appearance, the taste is relatively lowkey, so you can add it to such things as salad without noticing a pronounced flavor.

Mercola on

Friday, March 16, 2012

On the Eve of St. Patrick's Day

by Francine

photo via
Well sure, you could add a bit of food coloring and make your tofu green, but you could also do an assortment of other things to add a bit o' green to your tofu.

Here's an idea:

Take a bunch of fresh spinach, snap off the stems and put them in the compost.
Wash, drain, and then either put spinach in the food processor or chop, chop, chop by hand (hey grandma did it and she was just fine).

Make a batch of brown rice (I usually make it with chicken or vegetable broth for automatic delicious flavor. . . ).
Now saute some onion and garlic, throw in the finely chopped spinach and mix in with the rice.

NOW--take a package or two of tofu (can be plain or pesto or any flavor you like. Hint: TofuYu pesto tofu is already green). Mash it up OR cube it. Saute it just long enough to get the beginning of a golden brown. Add to the very green rice mixture, and there you have it! Enjoy with some green beer (as in created using green methods and/or the stuff you can get in many bars throughout the U.S. and no doubt Ireland as well. . . )!

And a Happy St. Patty's Day to you.

Some St. Patty's Day fun/facts:

*In Irish legends, green was worn by fairies and immortals, and also by people to encourage their crops to grow. 

* St. Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland, although he was born in Britain, around 385AD

* Wearing green, eating green food and even drinking green beer, is said to commemorate St Patrick's use of the shamrock - although blue was the original colour of his vestments.

* Research shows a pint of Guinness helps lower the chance of blood clots that cause heart attacks. Research also shows that six pints of Guinness can make you act like an idiot. It's a fine line. 

* The most popular legend associated with St. Patrick — that he drove the snakes from Ireland. This isn’t possible, of course, since Ireland had no snakes — at least not literal ones.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Coconut oil for cooking? Absolutely yes!

by Francine

From a 2011 article in the New York Times:

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"Two groups have helped give coconut oil its sparkly new makeover. One is made up of scientists, many of whom are backtracking on the worst accusations against coconut oil. And the other is the growing number of vegans, who rely on it as a sweet vegetable fat that is solid at room temperature and can create flaky pie crusts, crumbly scones and fluffy cupcake icings, all without butter."

David Wolfe in his book, Superfoods, tells us that coconut oil and cream have been used since the dawn of history. He lists benefits from lessening the symptoms of hypoglycemia and improving the utilization of blood sugar to improving the absorption of calcium and magnesium, supporting healthy cholesterol formation in the liver, and helping to regulate and support healthy hormone production.

Wolfe points out that if you compare coconut oil to other fat sources of the same weight--coconut oil has fewer calories. What's given it its bad name in the past is the fact that it is high in saturated fat. And we've been told by doctors and nutritionist to avoid saturated fat like the plague--especially if we suffer from high cholesterol! But what's important to note is the kind of saturated fat we're talking about here. Coconut oil contains mostly medium-chain fatty acids (as opposed to long-chain as is found so pronouncedly in meat). And that means that the body can metabolize coconut oil quickly and efficiently--converting it to energy.

Wolfe and other nutritional experts, including Marisa Moore, a spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association, have undergone a significant turnaround re: coconut oil in recent years. "The main saturated fat in coconut oil is lauric acid,"says Moore, "a medium chain fatty acid. Lauric acid increases levels of good HDL, or high-density lipoprotein, and bad LDL, or low-density lipoprotein, in the blood, but is not thought to negatively affect the overall ratio of the two."

 The fact that coconut oil is the most stable of any known butter or oil at high temperatures makes it a favorite for cooking. Coconut oil doe not form polymerized oils or dangerous trans-fatty acids and interestingly enough--that is actually because it is a saturated fat. Says Wolfe, "Due to its complete saturation, coconut is superior to even olive oil as a cooking oil."

It is generally recommended that you purchase coconut oil that is packaged in glass, rather than plastic, because plastics may leach into coconut oil dues its solvency. Wolfe urges that the oil is raw, cold-pressed, and he advocates amber rather than clear jars. This is because butters and oils are light-sensitive and can be damaged by light.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

So what about canola oil?

photo via
by Francine

We've heard it's good; we've heard it's bad. We've seen it labelled as appropriate for 'medium to high heat' cooking, and we've read that it is not fit for human consumption.

OK, let's take a closer look. . .

The FDA includes canola oil on its GRAS list. This means--literally--"generally recognized as safe." But what you need to know about this list is that the wording means that no evidence or not enough facts have come up to counter that assumption. In other words, "innocent until proven guilty." items on the list have not undergone any scrutiny beyond that.

So what's the big deal? Well, those who rail against the oil point the finger at erucic acid. And rapeseed oil, from which canola oil is made, is apparently full of the stuff--at least many species of rapeseed oil. And according to nutritionists and other health professionals who are concerned with diet, an excess of erucic acid is quite harmful to the human body--as in toxic.

But don't make any decisions yet. . . The substance that is sold as canola oil in your local Whole Foods Market, for instance, is not made from the kind of species that is running rampant with the nasty acid. In fact, it was extracted from cultivars of rapeseed oil that were bred specifically to have low levels of erucic acid.

So what are you going to do? Well, our suggestion is to use it, but don't go crazy with it. It happens to be a convenient oil for cooking in high heat (as is coconut oil, which will be the subject of my next post) and the lightness of the oil is another benefit in cooking. It's essentially tasteless and light on cholesterol as well. 

And what, besides the convenience of being able to cook with it in high heat, does canola oil offer? Well, for one thing--omega 6 polyunsaturated fats, along with Omega 3 are essential to human health. The two essential fatty acids that the human body cannot produce are the omega-3 fatty acid and omega-6 fatty acid, which are important for brain development, immune system function and blood pressure regulation. But here's the rub. Omega 6 should be present in a ratio of 2-4 times more Omega 3 ratio. We get both fatty acids from foods including meat, poultry and eggs as well as nut and plant-based oils, i.e. canola and sunflower oils. And this is precisely where the problem arises. The American diet is slanted in the wrong direction re: this ratio. In fact, according to, the typical North American diet contains way too much Omega 6--as in 11-30 times more than Omega 3, contributing to the rise in inflammatory disorders in the U.S.--including asthma and cancer, along with dyslexia, hyperactivity, obesity, and other disorders. Including the all-too pervasive arteriosclerosis.

In summation, the proper balance between Omega 6 and 3 is what you're after and canola oil is a great oil to use for high heat (wok, for example) cooking. But "not all canola oil is created equal." As quoted in, Andrew Weil, MD, advocates buying canola oil that is organic and expeller-pressed. "The lower-cost products sold in supermarkets have often been extracted with chemical solvents or high-speed presses that generate heat," says Weil. "Both methods alter the oil's fatty acid chemistry in undesirable ways," which can lead to adverse side effects. The article also states that he warns that high levels of pesticides are used by canola oil producers, opening the way for possible tainting of the finished product.

Global Healing Center