Sunday, December 28, 2008

Happy, Hearty New Year!

Every new year, my mom has this tradition of making a delicious butternut squash soup. I have memories of New Year's Day morning, getting up late from bed and being greeted by mouth-watering aromas coming from the kitchen.

I'll miss my mom's special soup this year. I could dare try to replicate it, but no one can match my mom's cooking!
Well, it got me thinking about soups in general.
Soups can be a ridiculously simple way of having a meal and getting LOTS of nutrients at the same time.
C'mon, I peel some carrots, some potatoes, throw in some garlic and onions. Add water in the pot. Spice it up w/ some oregano, black pepper, and some soy sauce. And I let the water and heat do the real heavy work while I take care of other things around the house.

In Michio Kushi's Macrobiotic Diet book, he explains how soups have always been a part of traditional cuisines. In the Orient, miso soup and kombu stock were used; in the Middle East and Europe, barley, buckwheat, and onion soups, plus others are favorites; lentils and chick-pea soups in India; Africa has got their sorghum soups and broths made from root and tuber vegetables, and in the Americas, there's squash and pumpkin soups.

Ah! the soup should be ready!
If I've got time, I'll put the soup in a blender and puree all the vegetables into a smooth, uniform soup. If not, I'll just dig in.
And I'm not just eating simple vegetables, y'know. I'm also getting a rich broth of anti-oxidants, vitamins, and minerals.
Carrots kick butt containing Vitamin A, folic acid, iron, potassium and carotenes. They help improve night vision and intenstinal problems. Loaded with anti-oxidants, they protect against lung and other types of cancer. And eating lots of these root vegetables lowers cholesterol and boosts the body's immune system.

Potatoes has got dietary fiber and contain potassium, vitamin B6, and vitamin C, along with other nutrients.

Garlic and onions are part of the same family: the Lillacaea family. Ah, where to begin to praise the garlic. It has a powerful oil called allicin which prevents blood-clotting thus reducing blood pressure. It's helpful for those suffering from high cholesterol and heart disease b/c it inhibits production of cholesterol in the liver. Allicin has got anti-bacterial and anti-fungal powers. In fact, garlic was used as early as 2600 BCE in Egypt to keep workers building the ancient pyramids healthy and strong.

And onions, with their anti-biotic and anti-fungal properties can block tumor formation and reduce blood cholesterol levels.

Just think of all the other kinds of goodies you could add: celery, leek, cabbage, tomato, kombu, wakame, pumpkin, legumes for protein, parsley or dill for garnish....The more time you've got, the richer soup you can make.


Have a great year and G-d Bless!

FYI: I recently learned that adding oatmeal flakes to soup gives a velvety and thick consistency. I was pleasantly surprised.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Check it out yourself

Hey, all
Information on calcium information was taken from Dr. Northrup's book Women's Bodies, Women's Wisdom.
There are lots of other places to get info on non-dairy calcium sources, such as...

Numbers may vary according to several factors: serving size, fresh/frozen, organic/inorganic, raw/cooked/steamed,
FYI: Raw, fresh, and organic foods will have the highest nutrient amount.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Calcium Element

Everyone knows the benefits of Calcium. If you want strong bones, if you want to prevent bone breakage/ fractures and osteoporosis-which is the thinning of the bones, then you're going to want to get calcium in your diet.
And surely, the American diet gets plenty of calcium through diary products ie. milk, cheese, etc. Yes, the diary companies make sure that we understand fully the importance of calcium. Look at the countless of "Got Milk" ads with numerous celebrities. You know lots of bucks goes into these advertisements.

It's so nice that these big dairy companies are so interested in my health....

I wonder why they don't inform people that osteoporosis is actually higher in countries that drink milk?
In Dr. Northrup's book, Women's Bodies, Women's Wisdom, she explains how in China where less calcium is consumed, and among the African Bantu women, the incidences of osteoporosis are much less than in Western countries.
In fact, there was a study done with 7800 nurses that spanned over 12 years investigating the effects of milk. This study was published in June 1997 in the American Journal of Public Health.
The study revealed that the women who drank two or more glasses of milk a day were more likely to fracture a hip or forearm than those who drank less.

Well, that doesn't make sense!
Let's zip into the world of bones and understand what's going on...
First off bones are made of two primary components: a latticed protein which allows flexibity and calcium phosphate, a mineral salt that gives the bone strength.

In order for the bone to avoid breakage, it needs both to be flexible and strong. Calcium alone is not enough.

Ok, so milk is perfect! It's got the calcium and it's protein!
Another important fact: The body breaks down the milk protein (casein) in the body by pulling calcium out from the bones. Check out Food and Our Bones by Annmarie Colbin. So drinking more milk can actually be detrimental to bone health!

Fact is that we need more than just calcium to have good bone health. We need vitamin D, MAGNESIUM, protein sources other than milk, exercise, and other nutrients (like vitamin K, zinc). I bold magnesisum b/c it controls how much calcium goes into a cell. And too much calcium blocks the body from using magnesium-which is bad news.

Ok, so am I going to tell you to stop drinking milk?
One cup of skim milk has 300 mg of Ca. A cup of low fat cottage cheese has 150 mg.
Pretty impressive.
But did you know that one cup of collard greens have 300 mg? So does a can of sardines. A cup of cooked black beans has got 135 mg. And for those who are into sea vegetables, 1 cup wakame has a whopping 520. The list goes on.

The cool part is that these are awesome, natural sources of other vitamins, minerals, and proteins. And there's no pulling calcium out of your bones.

G-d is good.

Big companies are interested in their own survival. They could care less about me. We have to be aware of what's not being told to us, so we can make smart choices.

In the defense of milk, I have heard good stuff about fermented/ raw goat's milk which I hope to share w/ you in the future. I haven't tried it yet. Presently, I'm focusing on non-dairy sources of calcium.

G-d bless!