Sunday, December 23, 2012

So hallowed and so gracious is the time...

No planets struck on 12-12-2012, but let us hope the other predictions of 12-12-12 opening the door to a thousand years of Peace does indeed come to pass.

The description Shakespeare used to describe what happens at the time of Christmas celebration causes me to hope the same "hallowed and gracious" time will apply for a thousand years.

The bird of dawning singeth all night long;
And then, they say, no spirit can walk abroad;
The nights are wholesome; then no planets strike,
No fairy takes, nor witch hath power to charm,
So hallowed and so gracious is the time.

Hamlet, 1.1.157

Wishing All my Readers a lovely holiday, whatever your religious beliefs...

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Tip for Preppies

Photo By SmartBoyDesigns

Salt. Many folks have stockpiled some salt in their prepper food lockers, hopefully iodized because iodine is SO important to health, and we get it from so few foods. However, just yesterday I discovered the iodine added to salt is fragile and dissipates rapidly, which means if the salt is more than a few months old, the iodine has virtually vanished.

This is equally important for those with thyroid problems who need the iodine, aqnd those at risk of goiter problems in the absence of iodine. Worldwide, iodine deficiency affects about two billion people and is the leading preventable cause of mental retardation. The USDA recommends a minimum of 150 mcg of iodine per day for both men and women. 

Iodine was added to salt around 1924, at the request of government initiatives, due to the growing need for regulation of iodine deficiency disorders. In the 1920′s era in the United States, the Great Lakes and Pacific Northwest region of the country experienced high incidences of goiter (a common thyroid-malfunction-based condition). This was because their soil levels were extremely low in iodine, and people weren’t eating iodine rich foods .

To be on the safe and healthy side, I suggest adding some dried kelp to your storage locker. Dried seaweeds are a good source of iodine as well as many trace minerals, and is often salty enough to use in place of salt, or with a lesser amount of salt.

I have several quart jars of seaweeds in my pantry, notably kombu (kelp), hiziki, dulse, nori (in sheets) and Wakame. Probably that's not enough to have in storage, and I live far from the coast where seaweed is easily harvested.

1 tablespoon of Kelp contains about 2000/mcg of iodine, 1 tablespoon of Arame contains about 730/mcg of iodine, 1 tablespoon of Hiziki contains about 780/mcg of iodine, 1 one inch piece of Kombu contains about 1450/mcg of iodine, 1 tablespoon of Wakame contains about 80/mcg of iodine. I recommend sprinkling them in soups or on salads.

If you have eaten a California Roll, you have eaten the seaweed called Nori. 

Nori Sheet by psd

Oarweed by La.Catholique

Here is a whole big thicket of oarweed kombu. In OR, no license is required for personal seaweed harvesting, although there is a limit of 10 lbs per person. For WA, you must obtain a license through the WA Dept. of Fish and Wildlife. It's also important to check for closures or other health risks prior to harvesting. See this site for contacts for WA state.

Kelp Drying in the sun, by garycycles3

I happen to like Dulse a lot; it makes a slightly sweet rather than salty snack just by itself. I am out of it, and I couldn't find a decent free photo on the internet to use here. Dulse is one of the red algaes, whereas kelp is considered a brown algae.

There are many edible seaweeds. Check out Edible Seaweed here.

How to prepare and cook seaweed.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

William Davis, MD, on Wheat Belly

The book Wheat Belly by the Cardiologist William Davis has been on my Wish List for months now, and I have read many favorable things about the book, and the connection of modern wheat to our obesity crisis. Just yesterday I came across a series of 6 YouTube videos where he explains the basis for his book.

I thought some of you may be interested in watching them if you have a lull in this hectic holiday season. By the Way, he has a cookbook, Wheat Belly Cookbook: 150 Recipes to Help You Lose the Wheat, Lose the Weight, and Find Your Path Back to Health that will be released Dec. 24.
Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

His Blog

I've been trying to eliminate a lot of wheat from my daily fare, but it's hard... wheat is IN everything! However, I have ordered some Einkorn flour to mix with almond or coconut flour for those few things I'm not yet willing to give up.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Liver Disease and Nutrition

Six and a half years ago, I was diagnosed with Liver Disease, and referred to the University of Virginia to see some liver specialists. The first thing they did was to refer me to the Transplant Program, where I underwent a battery of tests over several months to determine if the rest of my body was healthy enough to withstand the rigors of a liver transplant.

At the time, I was also having the same intermittent low thyroid symptoms I'd had for most of my life. I show all the symptoms of hypothyroidism, yet the thyroid tests always come back in the normal range. This time, the endocrinologist talked to me about foods that adversely affect the thyroid, most notably cruciferous vegetables and soy products. They are goitrogens, meaning they suppresses thyroid function and the uptake of iodine needed by the thyroid.

Cruciferous vegetables lose a lot of the goitrogens when cooked, but soy does not. I thought I had pretty much eliminated soy from my diet years ago... that is, until I discovered soy masquerades under 40 or more names as food additives. The first thing to eliminate from my diet was any food that came in a package with a long list of chemical ingredients on the label, many of which are soy-based (and from GMO soy).

The next thing to eliminate was sugars, high fructose corn syrup in particular. Fructose damages the liver and causes mitochondrial and metabolic dysfunction in the same way as any other toxin.

Sucrose (table sugar) is 50 percent glucose and 50 percent fructose. High fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is anywhere from 42 to 55 percent fructose depending on which type is used. Glucose is the form of energy our bodies are designed to run on. Every cell in our body uses glucose for energy, and it's metabolized in every organ of our body; only about 20 percent of glucose is actually metabolized in our liver. Fructose, on the other hand, can only be metabolized by the liver, because the liver is the only organ that has the transporter for it. 

Since all fructose gets shuttled to the liver, when we eat a typical Western-style diet, we consume high amounts of it, so fructose ends up taxing and damaging the liver in the same way other toxins (including alcohol) do. In fact, fructose is virtually identical to alcohol with regards to the metabolic havoc it wreaks. 

According to Dr. Lustig (an endocrinologist at the Univ. of California), fructose is a "chronic, dose-dependent liver toxin." And just like alcohol, fructose is metabolized directly into fat—not cellular energy, like glucose. So when eating fructose, it just gets stored in our fat cells, which leads to mitochondrial malfunction. 

The liver is the major site for converting excess carbohydrates and proteins into fatty acids and triglycerides, which are then exported and stored in adipose (fat) tissue.  I was advised to cut my carb intake to 50 grams a day until my system got clean, and then keep the intake to under 100 grams a day. 

The last thing to eliminate was any meat and eggs from animals that may have been fed the same soy and grain I was to avoid, as well as avoiding all fresh produce grown in a chemical cloud. That meant local free-range eggs, grass-fed beef, lamb, pastured pork, free-range chickens, and the Farmer's Market for veggies I don't grow.

Well, let me tell you, for 2-3 weeks I thought I would starve to death! Giving up the obvious addictive sugars was hard enough, but giving up bread and pasta was even worse. That's when I really started to delve into Real Foods, and things started to turn around.

Within a month, my energy levels and mental outlook began to increase, and my liver enzymes improved enough in 3-4 months that my liver docs took me off all meds.

I also began to lose a little weight. I learned to always carry a wholesome snack when I was away from home, usually a hard-boiled farm egg, or a piece of raw milk cheese (for the enzymes not found in pasteurized cheese). (Do not believe raw milk cheese might harbor pathogens. By Law, they must be aged at least 60 days before they can be sold, and if there were pathogens, the cheese would be rotten before the 60 days were up.)

Unfortunately, I have fallen partially off the "good diet" wagon over the last 12 months, mostly due to the increased cost of food and utilities versus my income (just a monthly social security check) and partly due to laziness. Eating right requires planning ahead and making time to prepare nutritious foods. In the last 3 weeks, I've had 3 sodas because I was experiencing low blood sugar while away from the house. That's 3 more than I've had in 5-6 years.

It's time to climb fully back up on that healthy food wagon no matter what else I have to give up. (Or continue a downward spiral in my health.)

There are many, many good things I can make from cheap cuts of meat and bones. Slow cooking a crockpot full of bones produces an incredibly nutritious broth/stock that's like jello when cooled.  Stock contains minerals in a form the body can absorb easily—not just calcium but also magnesium, phosphorus, silicon, sulphur and trace minerals.  Bone broth also supports joints, hair, skin and nails due to its high collagen content. In fact, some even suggest that it helps eliminate cellulite as it supports smooth connective tissue.

Cooked long and slow, bone broth also contains the broken down material from cartilage and tendons, stuff like chondroitin sulphates and glucosamine, now sold as expensive supplements for arthritis and joint pain.

The "odd bits" like heart, liver, kidneys, sweetbreads, etc. contain so much more nutrition than the muscle meats, and they are much cheaper to purchase. I just received a Christmas gift of the book Terrine, plus I found a used copy of Terrines, P├ątes and Galantines on ebay for under $4 earlier this year. (If you are not familiar with terrines, think meatloaf... and a galantine is just a meaty loaf encased in a pastry shell.)

What else did I eat when I felt so great?? Bacon, eggs, sausage, homemade yogurt, salads dressed with fresh lemon juice and a drizzle of EVOO, cheese, real butter, real cream in my coffee (not UP), fresh veggies, olive oil and coconut oil, sardines, not much fruit because of the sugar content, no legumes, no grains, and grass-fed meats daily. My one daily treat was a half-inch square of an 85% cacao bar at bedtime, and it was enough.

Eating those foods also brought the ratio of my Omega-6 to Omega-3 back into a better balance (about 4:1) than the SAD (Standard American Diet) which is as much as 40:1. 

All the meat and dairy provided the essential amino acids necessary to build proteins (essential because our bodies cannot produce them internally). The failure to obtain enough of even 1 of the 10 essential amino acids has serious health implications and can result in degradation of the body's proteins. Muscle and other protein structures may be dismantled to obtain the one amino acid that is needed. "Unlike fat and starch, the human body does not store excess amino acids for later use; the amino acids must be in the food every day.

I bought some wonton wrappers yesterday and intend to make and freeze some wontons (they contain just 4 grams of carbs per wrapper). A lunch of a wonton or two added to some home canned stock is quick, easy, and nutritious. 

It's a start. Salads will be scarce over the winter because I'm leery of bagged greens, even organic ones. Thankfully I froze lots of green veggies from my summer garden.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Minerals, and the Stalwart Scots of Old...

Two, three, and more centuries ago, the Scots in the Highlands (and those in the Southern Uplands) were stalwart, hearty men who were able to hunt or fight in battle all day without fatigue. We know they often raised sheep, and they fished and hunted deer, but their main carbohydrates were from the oats and barley they grew. 

I haven't found any descriptions of the nutritional value of the oats and barley they grew back then, but you can be sure they were more nutritious, especially in mineral content, than what is grown today. As Dr. Shanahan points out in her book, it was common practice to replace the thatching on their crofts every year, and put the used thatch on their gardens. One big difference in that practice, and the mulching we do today, is the mineral content of the thatch.

The Scots usually heated their crofts with peat fires where wood was scarce, and the smoke rose and escaped through loose areas in the thatch. The thatch itself collected minerals from the smoke. The cooking/heating fires were often directly on the floor, and crofts had a chain and hook hanging from the roof above. This could hold a potful of porridge, an iron kettle of boiling water, or a griddle for baking bannocks or flat oat bread. 

The fires were seldom allowed to go out completely, and the thatch collected the smoke and minerals all year long. I suspect the carbon collected from smoke in the thatch was biochar. By putting this mineral-rich material back into their gardens when they re-thatched annually, they kept the soil re-mineralized.

We fail to do that today, not because we don't have peat fires and thatched roofs anymore, but because home garden advice stresses NPK, and occasionally calcium/lime to "sweeten" the soil. The ignored and overlooked micronutrients are so very important to good garden health, and therefore our own health.

If you truly care about health, give yourself the gift of a good soil survey (not the cheap kind from the Extension Service) that tests minerals and micronutrients. It's not necessary to do it very often once you get the soil adjusted. Your plants will thank you, and your healthy body will thank you.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Teaching our genes new tricks

One of the concepts in the book I'm reading (Deep Nutrition, Why Your Genes Need Traditional Food) speaks to our genes' ability to learn even as we age. I initially fought that concept as completely foreign to what I've been taught to believe, but over the last several months of trying to discard my preconceptions, I've had a change in attitude.

Dr. Shanahan writes of our cellular structure, and what has been learned from the Human Genome Project that has led to the new field of Epigenetics. Each cell in our bodies contains a nucleus, floating inside the cytoplasm, like the yolk of an egg. This nucleus holds 46 chromosomes, and each chromosome contains up to 300 MILLION pairs of nucleic acids. She says if we could stretch out the strands of all the DNA in a single human body, it would stretch to the moon and back more than 5,000 times!

That's a LOT of chemical information, but in reality our genes only make up 2% of the structure of a cell. The other 98% was thought to be "junk" because scientists didn't know what it was, or how it functioned.

Now epigenetic scientists are discovering the "junk" is really a massive, complicated regulatory center, assisting our biology in the never-ending, moment-to-moment decision-making. It responds to every molecule that we put into our bodies (and even the air we breathe), and when it's fed real food, it knows how to produce health. When it gets junk, it gets crazy, jumbled signals that ultimately lead to dis-ease.

Our genes make decisions based in part by the chemical information in the foods we eat. In effect, our DNA collects information from food, and it is in our best interests to give it the best food we can.

Plus, our genes have to be activated for results. One example the author gives is calcium and Vitamin D. If the gene for building bone gets both, then it can perform as it should. But if we are too low or even depleted of Vitamin D, all the calcium we can ingest will not build or repair bone.

Think about this: a single sperm cell mated with a single-celled egg to produce each of us. As the cells divided, how did our genes/DNA know whether to make an eyeball, or a foot?

At some point I will talk about Dr. Shanahan's food suggestions, although they are not a whit different than what I have posted about over the last 3 years. Sometimes we just need reminders.

This post is just a short distillation of some of her text on how our bodies actually function at the cellular level, something she takes pages and pages to explain. I could not begin to explain it, and can only encourage you to read her book if you want to understand and gain better health, and better genes to pass along to future generations.

Friday, December 7, 2012

A Duck, and my Birthday

A few things have been going on in my life lately, mostly piddly stuff, and although my posting is far behind, I'm finally regaining some energy after my long siege with a kidney infection and drug reactions during most of November.

I managed to stumble through making Thanksgiving dinner with a local pastured duck my sister bought. I'd never cooked a duck, and although what I roasted was merely passable due to my inexperience, I'm looking forward to doing a much better job the next time, maybe even this Christmas. I brined the duck (4.4 pounds) for about 6 hours in a citrus brine before roasting, and it was generally moist and tender. The orange sauce I made was terrific, but the pumpkin for a custard never made it out of the freezer.

I was disappointed that there wasn't much duck fat from the young duck, because I've wanted to make duck confit for ages. However, I was impressed enough overall with the duck that I'm considering the possibility of raising a few ducks instead of chickens if I can ever get a secure pen and housing built. The eggs are more nutritious, the meat is tasty... AND ducks don't tear up a garden by scratching up plant roots the way chickens do.

I had a birthday (#72!) early in November and a few gifts showed up, even some belated. One friend sent a Butter Bell. I had one years ago, but eventually broke it. I love having spreadable butter on hand!

Another friend sent a pair of porcelain egg coddlers. Have you ever had a coddled egg? Simply put, coddled eggs are eggs that are baked or steamed until the whites are just set and the yolks are gloriously runny. I really like soft boiled eggs, and egg coddlers take dealing with the messy shell out of the picture. My grandfather ate them all the time, but it seems to be one of those wonderful things that fell out of favor, and most younger folks today have no clue what they are.

On a sour note... I recently ordered a tin of Bremner Wafers, my all-time favorite cracker to serve with cheese for many, many years. They obviously have changed their formula, and now use canola oil. When I opened the can, the rancid oil smell was so strong I almost gagged. Not pleasant when you have friends over for a wine and cheese tasting.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Birthing New Traditions that Make Sense?

As the holidays approach, the giant Asian factories have been kicking into high gear to provide Americans with monstrous piles of cheaply produced goods -- merchandise that has been produced at the expense of American labor shipped overseas.

This year can be different if we so choose. This year we can give the gift of genuine concern for fellow Americans. There is no longer an excuse that, at gift giving time, nothing can be found that is produced by Americans' hands.

Because there is! Although largely service-oriented, some wonderful products are available too!

It's time to think outside the box. Who says a gift needs to fit in a shirt box, wrapped in Chinese produced wrapping paper? Everyone -- yes EVERYONE gets their hair cut. How about gift certificates from your local American hair salon or barber?

Gym membership? It's appropriate for all ages of people who are thinking about some health improvement.

Who wouldn't appreciate getting their car detailed? Small, American owned detail shops and car washes would love to sell you a gift certificate or a book of gift certificates.

Are you one of those extravagant givers who think nothing of plunking down big bucks on a Chinese made flat-screen TV? Perhaps that grateful gift receiver would like his driveway sealed, or lawn mowed for the summer, or driveway plowed all winter, or paid tee times at the local golf course.

There are a bazillion local owner-run restaurants -- and most offer gift certificates. And, if your intended isn't the fancy eatery sort, what about a half dozen breakfasts at the local breakfast joint? Remember, this isn't about big National chains -- this is about supporting your hometown fellow Americans with their financial lives on the line to keep their doors open.

How many people wouldn't love an oil change for their car, truck or motorcycle, done at a shop run by the American working guy?

Thinking about a heartfelt gift for Mom? Mom would LOVE the services of a local cleaning lady for a day.

My computer could use a tune-up, and I KNOW I can find some young guy who is struggling to get his repair business up and running.

OK, you were looking for something more personal. Local crafts people spin their own wool and knit them into scarves. Or they make jewelry, or pottery, and beautiful wooden boxes.

Plan your holiday outings at local, owner operated restaurants and leave your server a nice tip. And, how about going out to see a play or ballet at your hometown theater (if there IS one)?

Musicians need love too, so find a venue showcasing local bands.

Honestly, do you REALLY need to buy another ten thousand Chinese lights for the house? When you buy a $5 string of lights, only about fifty cents stays in the community. If you have those kinds of bucks to burn, leave the mailman, trash guy and babysitter a nice BIG tip.

You see, Christmas giving is no longer about draining American pockets so that China can build another glittering city.

Christmas giving is now about encouraging American small businesses to keep plugging away to follow their dreams. And when we care about other Americans, we care about our communities, and the benefits come back to us in ways we couldn't imagine.

Source: Okay, I admit I stole most of this from an anonymous email, but it rings true for me. Hopefully it will for you too.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Apocalypse? Change in Consciousness?

I confess to not liking TV in general, although I have enjoyed most of the shows on "Ancient Aliens" because they seem plausible to me.  For months now the same channel has carried segments about The End Times (Apocalypse) delivered by various prophecies from the Mayan Calendar and the Hopi Indians to Nostradamus. The chapters of Revelations from the King James Version of the Christian New Testament fits right in, with descriptions of gruesome stages to destruction.

I'm sure there are people who hold the subconscious fear that the prophecies may be right. There have been days when even I have thought it would be fitting and justified, in order to wipe out the greed/evil being carried out this lovely blue planet. But, would it, really? I worry that any survivors would still carry the concept of greed in their hearts.

Wikipedia has this to say: An apocalypse, translated literally from Greek, refers to a revelation of something hidden, although this sense did not enter the English language until the 14th century. In religious contexts it is usually a revelation of hidden meaning - hidden from human knowledge in an era dominated by falsehood and misconception. 

In the Revelation of John, the last book of the New Testament, the revelation which John receives is that of the ultimate victory of good over evil and the end of the present age. In chapter 20, John receives a vision of a thousand-year reign of the Christ/Messiah upon the earth. 

I interpret that reign as a Time of Peace and Love regardless on one's religious beliefs, and the end of an "age", not the end of the world. I also don't think it will be a pleasant passage, as greed/power doesn't give up easily.

Not everyone follows the Judea-Christian beliefs, but most of us in this country have grown up exposed to them, along with the many other religious faiths around the world that hold in common the belief in good vs. evil. 

However, I think in order to wipe out Evil, there will have to be a change in Consciousness rather than mass destruction with few survivors. The possibility that Monsanto, on Dec. 21, 2012, would awaken with a change of heart staggers my imagination.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

The Toughest Battles...

My toughest food battles start here at home. I share a house (a quasi-duplex) with a half sister nearly 10 years my junior. We seldom share meals, other than an occasional holiday meal I prepare, and I know she heats and eats lots of junk food rather than cook for herself.

She and I had a long conversation about food last night, and I discovered she really IS a true product of American advertising. It's amazing what she believes to be healthy. She believes margarine is healthier than butter, and that GMO canola oil is better than any other oil. Nothing I said had any impact, even with connections to proven research.

I suspect she is typical of many Americans, and that's really sad. Deaf Ears.

If I cannot convince my own sister about nutritionally better foods, how could I possibly hope to influence anyone else to at least LOOK and consider the newer research... research that's peer-reviewed and NOT paid for by BigAg?

The funny thing is that my sis knows my background in engineering and then home-building, and she will take my advice on anything in that field without question.