Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Lacto-fermentation 101

We are surrounded.

Completely and utterly.

In our home, in our backyard, in our kitchen, on our food, in our bodies...they're, they're.....

Bacteria of all sorts

Now we know abit about the dangerous kind, like E. Coli and Salmonella. But there are countless bacteria that are harmless, thank G-d. And there are even bacteria that we WANT!!!

Enter Lactobacillius.

If you've heard of fermentation, specifically lactofermentation, Lactobacilli are folks you've got to meet. You can find them hanging out on plants, and it doesn't take a lot of fanfare to get them going. Simply submerge a plant/vegetable in salty water and the bacteria will move into action. As substances get broken down,lactic acid get formed (and friends). It's a process that has been and is still valued in many parts of the world because 1), of it's health benefits and 2)the preservation of food for long periods.

Fermentation promotes the growth of healthy, immune strenthening bacteria in our intenstines. This is vital as our immunity DEPENDS on our digestion! It enhances the digestability of food and increases vitamin levels and produces helpful enzymes and anti-biotic and anti-carcinogenic substances. Science News* reports that the low rates of breast cancer among Polish women is b/c of their daily consumption of sauerkraut.

In Europe saukerkraut (pickled cabbage) is quite popular. In Korea a combination of cabbage, red chilli peppers and a few other veggies are fermented to make kimchi. Pickled umeboshi plums hail from Japan. There's also fermented drinks...

And never mind the harmful preservatives of today, with fermentation food can be stored for long periods of time. That is how food was stored in pre-fridge times! We're talking months!!

So, how exactly does lactofermentation occur?
It's simple: Veggies are submerged in liquid, usu. salty water called brine. (or vinegar)
Let's say there's cabbage submerged in brine in a container. Lactobacilli begins to flourish. Uh-oh, but so can many other bacteria! This is where the handy-dandy salt comes in. Aside from pulling water from the vegetables, salt hardens the pectin in the vegetables, making them crunchier and very importantly discourages the growth of other bacteria other than our lactic acid-producing friends. Without other bacteria, the starches and sugars get borken down, and our little cabbage can happily ferment into a sauerkraut.

We don't have to limit ourselves to cabbage. We have LOTS to play with: Carrots, garlic, eggplant, peppers, celery, seaweed, and even fruits. (People even ferment meat! Oye.) We have to bear in mind that fermented foods have traditionally been used as condiments-not staples. It's a side-dish, not the main dish!

Now there is a controversy with fermentation b/c along with lactic acid, monosodium glutamate is also produced. You know, MSG. How can it be that in this healthy and simple process, the dreaded and poisonous MSG be involved? Today, we know MSG as an additive in foods which, unfortunately, is not people friendly, causing Parkinson's and Alzheimer's in adults and neuro-damage to children.

And although the greedy food industry dare call MSG "naturally occuring," their version of MSG is NOT natural, but manufactured, according to Fallon in Nourishing Traditions. It is an isomer-a left-handed copy of a right-hand...

However, other sources insist that the MSG in fermented foods is just as dangerous, so those who are especially sensitive to MSG should take care even with that. And like I said, fermented foods is a condiment, not to be consumed in large quantities.

With the explosive goodness bursting forth from fermented foods, this is something we should tap into. People all over the world are already benefiting. So, get a jar, salt some water, pick a veggie or two, get a recipe, and you're on your way to fermentation....and beyond!

G-d bless!!!

Sally Fallon, Nourishing Traditions

Sunday, September 6, 2009

The Dangers of WiFi

On September 13-15, an International Expert Conference on Cell Phones and Health is scheduled to take place in Washington D.C. (Which the cellphone industry is boycotting...)

A very necessary conference given that there are growing scientific research showing that the radio waves transmitted by cell phones and other wireless devices can cause brain tumors, harm blood cells and cause cellular changes, damage one's DNA trigger Alzehimer's disease, damage one's eyes and a host of other problems.

And children are especially at risk.

In fact, in Australia there's been an increase in pediatric brain cancers of 21 percent in one decade. In Europe and the U.K., the numbers have grown as well.

In 2005, the British National Radiological Protection Board advised that children younger than age 8 should not be given a cell phone b/c of the risks involved. And just last year, the department of public health in Toronto warmed that children under 8 should only use a cell phone in emergencies and teenagers should limit calls to less than 10 minutes.

Lloyd Morgan, author and member of the Bioelectromangetics Society writes, "Exposure to cell phone radiation is the largest human health experiment ever undertaken, without informed consent, and has some 4 billion participants enrolled."

Something to think about, folks.

G-d bless
Check out:

Thursday, August 20, 2009

A Tall Glass of Lemonade....

On these hot, summer days one of my favorite drinks is homemade lemonade in a tall, glass cup. (An opaque one just doesn't have the same effect!) Compared to the light, refreshing, and sweet taste of limonada, soft drinks fall way behind on so many counts!

Because of the vitamin C and citrus flavanoids in lemons, there's some serious anti-oxidant action over here. Flavonoids are biologically active plant compounds. They assist in the healing of wounds, strenghten the walls of blood capillaries and prevent diseases like arteriosclerosis.

Vitamin C helps fight infection, strengthen the immune system, keep the skin and joints healthy, and help prevent cancer.
In days of yore, lemons were traditionally taken on long sea voyages to prevent scurvy among the sailors.

And there's a reason why you'll find lemon-y dishwashing soaps,etc. The juice is a natural disinfectant and antiseptic.

You can whip up a lemonade in no time by just squeezing out the juice and adding water, or you can have lemon slices sit and macerate in water if you've got more time. A bit of brown sugar and a few drops of vanilla will really send you to lemonade heaven. Just don't forget the tall, glass cup!!

G-d bless!!

Check it out: Food is Medicine, Cousin

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Friday, July 10, 2009

Sparks of Enzymes

Bananas have got'em.

Also mangos, grapes and papayas.

And don't forget avocados!

Actually many tropical fruits and even extra virgin olive oil are on the list of foods that contain a high amount of food enzymes.

Enzymes are energized protein molecules that are the movers and shakers in our body. They are charismatic-getting minerals to do their job, and vitamins to do theirs. Without them, many biochemical reactions in nature just wouldn't happen. When you see a fruit ripening, know it's because of enzymes at work. Same goes with flowers blooming or a wound healing...

Our body manufactures two types: metabolic enzymes and digestive enzymes.

Metabolic enzymes have got a big job on their hands. They are building, repairing tissues and organs. They are transporting and eliminating wastes. They are up-keeping our immune system, and they're involved in our thinking and behavior.

Our pancreas are the faithful producers of our digestive enzymes which is basically food digestion.
There's a third type of enzymes that we get from our diet called food enzymes, and they can be found in raw foods. They help start digestion in the mouth and stomach.

Ok, here's how it goes.

You're eating a meal. And the enzymes jump into action: amylase in your saliva starts breaking down starches into sugars; lipase is converting lipase/fats into fatty acids, and proteins get broken down into amino acids by protease. If you are eating raw foods, the food enzymes will heed the call and help get things going. And the body's digestive enzymes are hardly needed or even reserved. (depends what raw foods you're eating also) If your meal is only cooked foods, the body is forced to supply ALL the enzymes.

Over time, says Dr. Edward Howell, a diet of mainly cooked food will overtax the pancreas. And b/c the body is required to constantly supply digestive enzymes, the production of metabolic enzymes -that keeps the body running smoothly-is curtailed!
This leads to illnesses.
Enzyme research is Dr. Howell's specialty.

Here's the rule: Too much heat kills enzymes.

Ok, so, let's start a raw food diet tomorrow!


Thankfully, Sally Fallon writes in Nourishing Traditions, that there are no traditional diets that are composed exclusively of raw foods. (I mean why do we have digestive enzymes in the first place....)

So,if you don't care for the Eskimo diet which includes pre-digested raw fish, there's always fermented foods like unheated natto and miso which some Asian societies eat. There's also fermented vegetables like sauerkraut (pickled cabbage) to side-dish your meal. Fermentation boosts the enzyme content in foods.

Another way to boost the enzyme content in foods is to remove the enzyme INHIBITORS. For example, in beans there are enzyme inhibitors that will prevent enzymatic action. It's not a bad thing, per say. These inhibitors actually protect the bean from developing before it's time. It's just a problem for us when we eat them.

Fortunately, soaking beans in water (acidic?) not only deactivates the inhibitors but also unlocks the enzymes for Super Enzyme Power for us!!!

Actually, sprouting, soaking in water, culturing, and fermenting grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds are all ways of ridding these foods of inhibitors.

Now, there are those who don't agree w/ Dr. Howell's assertions. Some claim that we have adequate reserves of enzymes. But really, who can know the deep complexities and mysteries of the human body? I mean, really. After all, there is a spiritual dimension involved. These enzymes may be running the show. But Who's running the enzymes?

But we have to be practical.
And there is definitely a balance to achieve in planning one's meals. It's SO easy to skip the salad or the fruit. Sometimes, they even seem to GET IN THE WAY OF THE MEAL!
With the articles on enzymes, I found lots of information on enzyme supplements, which is great. In this day, where everyone seems on the run, could be it's the way to go...

But even if I take supplements, I can't escape food, and it's crucial to know how to manipulate it. And I don't mean manipulation w/ preservatives and all sorts of who knows what. I mean simple, natural methods that anybody can do, like fermentation and soaking to make sure we get the most of what's available.

In the Macrobiotic Diet, author Kushi writes how lighter cooking methods like steaming, stir-frying, and short term boiling retains the nutritional elements in food. And there are some foods that dafka (specifically) should be cooked in order to tap into the nutrients contained. There are ways...

Yeah, we've got to know how to "work" our food.

Catch those enzymes!

Catch those spiritual sparks!

Traditional societies have done it.

I think our current civilized one can manage also.

G-d bless!

Check it out:
Nourishing Traditions, Fallon

Macrobiotic Diet, Kushi

Friday, June 19, 2009

Music and Praising G-d...

I'm finally getting a chance to sit down and write! I've had some crazy weeks, moving apartments, packing and unpacking, and settling in. It's the end of the week, Shabbath is on it's way, and I can breathe easy.

I'm in town, sitting observing, thinking and writing.

Beside me are a group of young folks, creating beats and rhythms on their drums, guitars, and their hands and feet, singing the night away. "Hodu l'Hashem Ki Tov!" (Give thanks to G-d Who is good)

A few feet away is a group of Ethiopians who want a chance on the drums...and get it. Laughter.

A cool Jerusalem night. Music and praising G-d.
Ok. I'm in Heaven.

Where have I been all this time? Lost in work. Lost in bills. Lost in all sorts of distractions! Distractions!

But G-d has His ways of getting us back on track. Oh, didn't you know? Oh, yes. He didn't just create this little planet and say bye bye. Oh, no. He is very much in the world, in my world, and in yours.

He's even "talking" to you.
Oh, yes.

Problem is, dear reader, many times I don't hear so well. And sometimes, it seems I don't wanna hear. Oy vey. But He is persistent. And He sends messages to get me to notice Him as if saying, "Talk to Me!" "Sing to Me!" If I don't listen to the softer messages, He'll send LOUDER ones.

He is my Papa, after all. And He didn't create me only to leave me on my own. No, He is very much in the world, in my world, and in yours. But you have to want to hear His messages-look out for them. I don't mean superstitious-the black can ran passed me. I mean- these guys are playing music for G-d, am I playing my "music?"

What does my "song" sound like? How am I thanking Him? When was the last time I changed the tempo? Am I being creative? Am I singing by myself or am I letting others play along?

Ok, I may say, "Well if He wants me to talk to Him,why doesn't He get rid of some of my problems first?" or "I complain, er, talk to Him all the time!" or "What I've been doing the past 10 years is fine. I'm QUITE pious, you know...


Well, it all comes down to faith/emuna. True, it's not easy to maintain, given the onslaught we have to face in life. Continuing to believe in G-d's goodness, our goodness, and His love can be....HARD!

But it's Truth.

And it becomes easier to believe and maintain faith/emuna and hear G-d's messages once we slow down and begin a dialogue.

or a song...

G-d bless!

Check out: Garden of Emuna, Arush

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Quick! Get Outta' Here!

It takes a lot of determination to eat like a mentsch. That is to eat real, good, healthy food.
On days where there's a lot of time, I can pre-plan meals. I'll have time to cook rice, legumes or make salads, steam vegetables, etc. and even save for the week. But on hectic days, all the pre-planning and cooking flies right out the window. But, oddly enough, the hunger remains.

So, what to do?

Go for the junk food.

There's no planning involved. There's no cooking to do. AND, it's cheaper than if I went to buy a meal in a restaurant, let's say. And best of all, it's FAST. I don't even need to sit down while eating. I can actually multitask-eat and run. Quite literally.

Oy vey.

And yet, as brilliant and convenient as the fast, junk food is, why is that in half hour or less even, the hunger pangs come back.

Ok, so just buy more fast, junk food. Stave off the hunger and save money.

Well, if I do it one/ two days, or here and there, that's one thing, but for weeks? Bit by bit, my energy level drops; my irritability increases; and, basically, it's not a pretty sight. Not to mention the effects we don't see inside the body...or the soul?

Sometimes, life has a way of pushing you forward. And it takes a lot of effort to STOP and say, "hey, that is NOT where I want to be going," or, "this is NOT what I want to be eating!"

One has to be cunning. Rebellious, even. Faster than the fast food? Or slower? Bringing reinforcements. Sounding the alarms. Making a fuss! Crying out to G-d! PRE-PRE Planing for those difficult days. And finding things that are ENJOYABLE to eat, ie. not stuff that tastes like tree bark!

And if there's no time to cook, than opting to buy a healthy meal, ie. a wrap or a chicken salad, etc. Which of course WILL cost more than the fast, junk food (which percentage-wise of actual nourishment is low anyways!)
And, I, too, fall into the trap of thinking that buying cheaper means I'm being smart w/ my money. But I think it's quite the opposite. My money IS to buy me the better food/the better anything when I can, otherwise what's the WHOLE POINT?!! All w/in reason... :)

Hunger compels us to eat, which gives us life. So, why am I spending money to make myself weak?

But y'know, it's not just the day and week that's hectic. It seems society is hectic. I step out and everyone is rushing off here and rushing off there. There just isn't any time! Quick, go to the mall! Quick, catch the bus! Quick, catch that light! Quick, answer the phone! Quick, just.. just get going! Quick, eat fast and go! Or don't eat, just get outta' here!

"Yes, but where are we going exactly?" That thought may flash briefly as we're "herded" to....not quite sure yet. But if you dare to stop, you'll hear the question again and will want an answer. Be careful b/c someone may ask you why you're not moving with the herd.
"What's wrong w/ this pretty packaged, preservative-full, MSG ridden yum yum? Everything has been arranged for you!" Then like a scene from a movie, the smiles disappear as they hiss, "Conform!"


So, like I said, it takes a lot of determination to eat like a mentsch. That is, to eat real, good, healthy food.
I'm still figuring it out...

G-d bless!

Monday, May 4, 2009


I'm thrilled to to have added a new veggie to my lunchbox. It's the beautiful, pale green fennel. She hails from the Umbellifereae family and is related to parsley, carrots, dill and coriander.

What's so great about fennel?

Well, first it's got this wonderfully light scent. Think of the anise spice, but not as strong.

I once visited a family for Shabbath, and they served a fennel salad. Raw fennel cut up in pieces sitting in a bowl of lemon juice. No salt added. Nothing. And it was... Heavenly!! Crunchy, refreshing, and slightly sweet. What a joy to the palatte! I know had seconds...probably thirds.

G-d was definitely in a playful mood when He created the fennel.

Aside from being a delight to eat, fennel has great medicinal and nutritional properties.

Apparently, way back fennel was used to cure stomach ailments and freshen breath. Even to fight against weight gain..And an infusion of fennel seeds can help with menstrual pains.

It has phytonutrients-including the flavonoids rutin, quercitin, and various kaempferol glycosides-that give it strong antioxidant activity. Also, it has Vitamin C, another powerful antioxidant. It has fiber, folate, and potassium which assist in colon health.

Next time, you're in the supermarket, I dare you to pick up a bulb of fennel and try it out. Pick one that's free of bruises, and it should be white, pale green in color. And you should smell that sweet anise/liquorice-ish scent. It should last around 4 days. I like the inner part of the bulb b/c it's not fibrous.

You can eat it raw or cooked.
According to Howard Yoon on NPR's Kitchen Window, "fennel's strength may be its power to blend and enhance other flavors. Tuna tastes more tuna-like when cooked with fennel. A simple salad of oranges, red onion and lemon vinaigrette has more zing with the addition of crunchy, raw fennel."

Yeah, I'm likin' the fennel. It's just a light, happy, and easygoing veggie!

G-d bless!

Check out:

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Swine Flu

Great. Just what we need-a world-wide pandemic. It's really scary to read about it, and it's scarier to imagine what may become in the future...

Every newsite is reporting on this. And, today, I read that the World Health Organization (WHO) has raised the world pandemic level to Phase 5, which means a "strong signal that a pandemic is imminent and that the time to finalize the organization, communication, and implementation of the planned mitigation measures is short.”

The latest: There was one death in America. A toddler died in Texas.
But, I only later did I learn that the child was visiting from Mexico City. And In addition to swine flu, the boy had several underlying health problems." (Dallas Business Journal)
So, really, there have been no deaths (as of now, and it should only remain so!) outside of Mexico, and the reported cases have been mild.

Apparently, there is the vaccine, Tamiflu, out there-which should bring us some relief. I didn't even think about it, but I also recently learned that "more than half a dozen pharmaceutical companies, including Gilead Sciences Inc., Roche, GlaxoSmithKline and other companies with a stake in flu treatments and detection, have seen a rise in their shares in a matter of days, and will likely see revenue boosts if the swine flu outbreak continues to spread."

Revenue boosts?
Hmm....Wait a sec, is everything as true as they appear?
We're hearing news from all the mainstream newsites and being bombarded with the same messages. Let's hop off to a "road less travelled" and read another side of this story at

Here's some highlights...
On Sunday, April 26, The Independent reported that more than 1,000 people had contracted the swine flu virus in Mexico, 8 but by the afternoon that same day, Mexican President Calderon declared that more than two-thirds of the 1,300 thought to have contracted the disease had been given a clean bill of health and sent home.9

Just last month I reported on the story that the American pharmaceutical company Baxter was under investigation for distributing the deadly avian flu virus to 18 different countries as part of a seasonal flu vaccine shipment. Czech reporters were probing to see if it may have been part of a deliberate attempt to start a pandemic; as such a "mistake" would be virtually impossible under the security protocols of that virus.

this isn't the first time the public has been warned about swine flu. The last time was in 1976, right before I entered medical school and I remember it very clearly. It resulted in the massive swine flu vaccine campaign.
Do you happen to recall the result of this massive campaign?
Within a few months, claims totaling $1.3 billion had been filed by victims who had suffered paralysis from the vaccine. The vaccine was also blamed for 25 deaths.

And the swine flu pandemic itself? It never materialized.

This should grab your attention. Read the article 'cuz there's more...
Let's not blindly accept what mainstream media is telling us.

People are saying different things. What is the truth? Is the flu deadly or isn't it? Is the vaccine deadly or isn't it? This whole affair seems to raise more questions than answers! But there is something we DO know. There is an illness in the world. Call it swine flu, call it greed. We have to fight to protect ourselves from these physical and spiritual germs. That means paying attention to what/who we come in contact with-paying attention to what we let our eyes see. What we allow to enter our bodies and our minds. And we have to try our BEST to boost our immune system/the good part of ourselves-to eat the foods that will protect and vitalize us. To let into our lives influences that will strenghen us (intelligence, G-d's Word, self-esteem) and not weaken us (lust and greed).
We must try...

G-d bless!
and G-d save us from our true enemies...

Check out

Sunday, April 26, 2009

When it Strikes...

when IT strikes, you may have known it was coming. Or not. Or you pretend like you were unaware. But there is thunder...and there is wind. Something in the air changes, the smell perhaps? and the sky vaguely remember hearing the forecast...
and even your spirit is unsettled...

And it happens.

Swiftly. Done.

And it could strike again...

Question is

what do we do?

Before the strike...

We listen.

which direction is the wind blowing? Is she whispering "east" or whispering "west?" Who can tell us? Is she screaming "north!" or "south!"

What's our gut telling us?

We listen.

We summon our courage.

and ACT.

G-d bless!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

When it comes to oils, extra virgin olive oil is ahead of the game. It is rich in monounsaturated fat, which is full of health benefits. In a study published in Clinical Cardiology, researchers write that, "Exclusive use of olive oil during food preparation seems to offer significant protection against coronary heart disease, irrespective of various clinical, lifestyle and other characteristics of the participants."

Wh foods writes that olive oil has a large amount of antioxidants, including chlorophyll, carotenoids and other compounds that neutralizes free radicals and protect the Vitamin E found in olive oil.

Olive oil and antioxidants? I would have never guessed!

Actually, the oleic acid that is in the the oil is resistant to free radical/oxidative damage.

Not only that, but "it turns out that people who use olive oil regularly, especially in place of other fats, have much lower rates of heart disease, atherosclerosis, diabetes, colon cancer, and asthma." (

There are several methods of extracting oil from olives. Extra virgin olive oil is produced from gently crushing the olives between stone or steel rollers. There is minimal heat or oxygen involved, and therefore the nutrients and antioxidants are kept intact. There is also a smaller amound of acid in this oil-less than 1%. Unrefined, this oil is best kept in dark, opaque bottles/ in a dark area. And it's wonderful to add to salads or steamed vegetables!

In order to squeeze out more oil, there are modern techniques which do subject olives to heat, light, and oxygen. This process destroys the natural nutrients and later, chemicals are often added to replace the vitamin E, etc that were lost from the heat. Thus we have "pure" olive oil or just olive oil-refined and civilized....

A possible benefit from refined olive oil is that b/c it's more heat resistant than vegetable oils (like corn), it may be a safer option when frying. Since the oil will not break down as fast as it's vegetable counterparts. (It's important not to heat any oil past it's smoke point: the point where visible gaseous vapor is evident from the heated oil. 'Cuz that means the oil is decomposing...)

So, if and when we can, let's opt for extra virgin or virgin oilve oil. And keep them in the cupboards when we can remember. It is more pricey than, say, corn oil. True.
But considering the benefits, I say, pray to the Almighty, save our pennies/shekels and get the best...

Sages say that olive oil strengthens and sharpens the memory.
G-d bless!

Check it out: Olive oil

Sunday, April 19, 2009

And the green prophet says, "Water!"

Apparently due to the lack of adequate rainfall, the Israel government hopes to take action in water conservation by rationing water usage. The Water Authority plans on "distributing low water flow faucet aerators heads calleds chaschams to 1.2 million households around the country, limiting the watering of public parks and imposing a 'drought fee' on high-use domestic consumers."

Oy vey.

Environmentalist I've spoken to have long been concerned with the amount of water we use in showers, washing dishes, etc. The situation is already like so in Australia and and in Cyprus, the cost of water is so high that in four star hotels, water to the shower taps are being turned off.
It's true in some places water is a luxury, and we should be mindful of our water usage.

'Cuz if we aren't, the Israeli government will kindly step in and give us a squeeze...

On the other side of things...
A young company founded in 2007, called Cequesta, is going where...well, where no man don't wanna go! They are getting down and dirty and are cleaning up the wastewater from industrial and agricultural operations in America and around the world. From hotels to cowsheds, Cequesta is applying it's technology (ie. compressed air) to separate sludge from water. They claim they can clean up to 70% of a building's wastewater. The recycled water, for example, might be used to water the garden.

Cequesta's prez. David Waimann says the technology is more cost effective and uses less energy.

And that's the kind of clean technology I like.

G-d bless!

Check out:

Are we hungry yet?

G-d just don't play!

When He made kiwis, peaches, and pears clearly He had "mouth-watering" in mind...

G-d bless!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

April 16

Did you know that last year Wal-Mart announced that its store-brand milk, Great Value, will only come from dairies that have pledged not to treat its cows with rBGH (recombinant bovine growth hormone aka rBST)?

Wal-Mart is the lastest of the retailers that are responding to consumer demand and changing its products. Safeway, Inc also changed its store brand milk. Sam's Club will also being offering milk choices from cows not treated with the hormone.

Thank G-d, there are now options.

Conventional, non-organic milk mostly comes from cows treated with rBGH. So, what's the problem?

RBGH/Posilac is an animal drug manufactured by Monsanto. It's injected into cows to increase milk production. Treated milk has "higher levels of the hormone insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1). IGF-1 is one of the most powerful growth hormones in the human body and is naturally present in cows' milk."
There have been evidence showing that a link b/w rBGH and breast, colectoral, and prostate cancer.

Check out the Harvard study:

Not only that, injected cows get mastitis infections which are treated with antibiotics. The antibiotics doesn't just go away, folks. We become more anti-biotic resistant-which causes other problems!

RBGH is banned in the European Union, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and Japan.

This cancer link prompted the "American Nurses Association to call for the elimination of rbGH in dairy production. The American Medical Association's past president urged hospitals to serve only rbGH-free milk, and over 160 hospitals have already pledged to do so. Schools nationwide have also banned drugged milk."
(I'm hoping these include schools in African American neighborhoods...)

I am thrilled for retailers like Wal-Mart and organizations that are making changes. Since last year, Starbucks have been only using rBGH free milk!

There is still more work to be done.

On April 3, a bill was passed in Kansas. Milk products that are from non-injected cows will be labeled as such. OK. Here's the catch: In the similar font and size will be an accompanying label stating "The FDA has determined that no significant difference has been shown between milk derived from rbGH-supplemented and non-rbGH-supplemented cows."

Is that really true?
"Studies normally used to determine whether a drug is carcinogenic will test two different species for about two years--the lifetime of mice or rats. But Monsanto tested rbGH on rats for 28 or 90 days. FDA official John Scheid later admitted to the Associated Press that the agency had never actually examined the raw data from Monsanto's rat feeding study; rather they based their conclusions on a summary provided by Monsanto."

Check out

This can cause a lot of confusion in consumers.

There have been 29 groups writing letters to Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebilius (who was chosen by Obama to become Secretary of Health and Human Services) to veto the bill.

The deadline to veto this bill is April 16.

Here's a copy of the letter:

Consumer protest IS effective. It has made changes already, and it can do MORE. Not just for us but for future generations.

You can take action by either writing a letter to Governor Sebilius or sending an email via website

G-d bless!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Blessing of the Sun

Today we recited the blessing on the sun. According to the Jewish sources, the sun returns to the exact position as it was in the fourth day of Creation. This happens every 28 years.

Early morning, I stood with a congregation of people outside in the beautiful city of Jerusalem. The sun had just risen, and the air was crisp and cool.
People were spilling out into the streets in every direction. Some were praying; others singing. Others chatted as they waited for the time to bless.

When it was time to recite the blessing, everyone gathered round in a circle to hear the speaker who led the ceremony. A hush came over the crowd. And then it was time. In a loud voice, in unison we cried out, "Blessed are You....Who performs the work of creation!"

Wow! It gives me goosebumps. A truly amazing time...

G-d bless!

A Wonder...

Pesach/Passover is tomorrow!
We learned the story of the Hebrew slaves leaving Egypt. Charlton Heston's Ten Commandments always comes to mind.

The story here is slavery

and being liberated

Sages say that time is like a spiral. Each moment in time carries with it an energy signature. And although years may pass, we keep going back to the same energy track.
For example, there's this Tuesday, and there's next Tuesday. Two very different days. But two very similar days in that the "Tuesday energy" exists in both days (and in every Tuesday that was and will be!)

So, right now, we're celebrating Pesach/Passover which is all about liberation. That means the energy of freedom is in the air. The energy of breaking free from constraints. The energy that propels us to step out of old boxes. The energy of sawing off chains. Removing bitterness. Changing our mindsets. Looking forward to a better future and a new life. Life.


"The wind is blowing in another direction..."

And I want to know how I can tap into this energy and effect the changes that I WANT!!! People naturally want to be free. And, in fact, we're taught to imagine ourselves leaving our "Egypt" every day But we get blocked. We get stuck. We get ensnared.


Lazer Brody writes about modern-day "slavery":
"Lack of self-respect, self-deprecation, and ignorance of one's own marvelous qualities and heritage are tickets to the slave train. Shame or embarrassment about one's ethnic or religious background is tantamount to carrying around an iron shackle with a 50-lb. ball and chain.

These feelings of inferiority are an invitation to let society dictate how you should live your life. People who feel inferior are weak; it's easy to exploit a person with no backbone. Controlled and exploited people are the most miserable creatures on the face of the earth."

And we have to know, G-d made no mistakes when He created us. He made us EXACTLY how He wanted.

He made you and I perfectly.

The depth, the beauty, the widsom that exists in you are beyond words. BEYOND! Here you are. You! There has never ever been anyone exactly like you in the whole world before! Your DNA... how you think...what you say...your potential...


are a wonder.

Hmm...what is your life like?
Can we even begin to understand what you go through? How do you endure? Where do you find your strength? What makes you happy?


And know!
Your depth and beauty has the upmost value because of your source.

Your source being the Creator.

Who took and takes the time to "build" you. To free you!

Faith/Emuna is the key. And it's not just believing G-d made you, end of story.
Oh no. It's knowing that life isn't a purposeless vacuum. It's understanding and appreciating that He is intimately involved in your life.

loving you every second

waiting to hear from you

and WANTING good for you

yes, even when you fall...

and, even when it seems He's out to get you! But hold on and believe this truth.

"Faith/Emuna helps you feel good about yourself. As soon as you begin feeling good about yourself, you become free. Every human has an inherent right to freedom; that's the universal message of the Passover holiday."

G-d bless!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

From the Depths of the Sea comes KOMBU!!

I told my friend that I started eating seaweeds.

"Seaweeds?" She exclaimed, "Why are you eating weeds?!"


Next time, I'll say sea vegetables!

Japanese cultures have been consuming sea vegetables for over 10,000 years. And Japan, today, stands as the major producer and exporter of sea veggies. Since ancient times, other countries near waters have used them, like Scotland, Ireland, the Pacific Islands.

Sea veggies are actually algae, growing in the water in coral reefs or rocky landscapes. There are many kinds, (kelp/kombu, nori, hijiki, etc) and they offer a broad range of minerals: iodine, calcium, magnesium, iron, and folic acid.

They also offer a range of health benefits: The phytonutrients protect against cancer; the folic acid prevents colon cancer and prevents birth defects in babies; the magnesium reduces high blood pressure and heart attacks; Magnesium also helps prevent migraine headaches and reduce the severity of asthma attacks. etc. etc.

I like throwing kombu into my soups. Kombu, a brown algae, takes atleast 20 minutes to cook, and why not add some vitamineral punch in my meals? It comes in dried strips and is usu. put under running water/soaked until soft. And then add it in the pot to cook.
It can have a strong taste. If it's too much, the soaking in water for a bit will do the trick.
Later, with bowl of carrot/kombu soup in hand, I know I'm eating well! This I like...
FYI: Apparently, kombu is a tenderizer and can help beans cook faster.

A word of caution: Sea vegetables are like sponges in the sea. That is why they contain so many minerals. So, if the water is polluted with heavy metals, like arsenic, the sea veggies will take it all right in...
Hijiki has been found to be the most high risk for arsenic. (Unless you get organic certified)

Whfoods reports: The levels of arsenic found in other types of sea vegetable have been relatively small.

That's good news.

As with anything new, start slowly. See which kind is appealling. Be moderate.

Eating sea vegetables can be a different and new, yet old way of fishing up much needed vitaminerals!

G-d bless!

Friday, April 3, 2009

A Few of My Favorite Things!

1. Kombu (sea vegetable)

2. Extra Virgin Olive Oil

3. Raw Honey

4. Almond Butter

5. Brown Rice

6. Flax seeds

7. Homemade bread

8. Green smoothies

9. A steamer

10. A blender

Hmmm, there is more...

G-d bless!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Lactose Intolerance

Did you know that 30-50 million Americans are lactose intolerant?

Around 80% of African Americans (some source say 70%)

80-100% of Amerian Indians

90-100% of Asian Amerians

The condition is less common among those of Northern European descent.

Everyone is born with the enzyme called lactase that helps to digest the milk sugar lactose. Thus, babies can drink breast milk. After age 2, lactase production decreases. (A natural state...) Northern Europeans and their descendants have adapted more to dairy food consumption than other groups.

Lactose intolerance usually results in gas, bloating, cramps, or diarrhea as the lactose simply doesn't get digested in the body.

I don't remember being lactose intolerant, but I remember my mom suffering from pains from it. So she would drink a glass only once in awhile.

The condition varies from person to person. One might be able to drink three glasses of milk w/o symptoms while another can only do one, etc.

Interestingly, aged cheeses like Cheddar/Swiss wouldn't pose a problem (for most folks) b/c it has little or no lactose. Also cultured yogurts are stomach friendly b/c the culturing (bacteria) restores enzymes, including lactase that was destroyed in pasteurization. Basically, fermentation makes dairy more friendly to those who can't support it.

So, as an African American, am I supposed to stop consuming dairy products?
Again, I don't remember being lactose intolerant...

Well, dietician Byers writes in Journal of the American College of Nutrition that "The ‘African-American diet’ is more likely to be low in a variety of vitamins and minerals, including calcium. African-Americans consume low amounts of dairy foods and do not meet recommended intakes of a variety of vitamins and minerals, including calcium."

Well, I understand why we're eating less dairy foods if many of us can't digest it! But, the fact that our diet is low in a variety of vitamins and minerals, including calcium IS a concern.
B/c for people who can't tolerate it, milk isn't the only calcium source. (Calcium is absorbed best with the presence of other vitamins, ie Vitamin D)

However, with the ads pushing milk drinking, and with the tendency to avoid veggies where exactly are we going to get these vitamins and minerals?? Hmm...

According to Sally Fallon, only in the West is milk consumed in an unfermented state. Before industrialization, traditional societies would consume yogurts, cheese, curds and whey. The tall, Massai tribesmen of Africa have milk as their principal food-always in a soured or cultured form.
Remember, with fermentation there is no lactose intolerance problem.

And today, in Europe and Asia, friendly bacteria-containing foods (called probiotics) in yogurts and drinks, etc are more popular than in the US, where supplements are consumed frequently.

So do you have a "condition" if you're lactose intolerant? Why, if afterall, lactase decreases naturally for most? A problem does exist if you have no good sources of calcium and other vitaminerals. And it's good to remember that the degree of intolerance varies from person to person (if at all for you).

And so the questions persist: How to improve the African American diet? How to improve my diet? Can we start eating something green? And how can I make cultured yogurt taste good? ('cuz with a name like that....!)

G-d bless!

(If you can get organic dairy products, it's always best...)

Check it out:
Fallon, Nourishing Traditions

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Drinking Greens

Whipping up a green drink with a blender/juicer is a very fun and creative way of getting in those fruits and veggies.

I made a spinach juice the other day and added bananas, dates, oranges, and almonds. The bananas helped to make the drink abit frothy-if you like that. And, in general, the fruits added sweetness. Yummy!
I realized afterwards I needed a finer strainer, but in the end the drink was very tasty.
I had a blast making it, and kids would love to be a part of it-esp. the drinking part.
Here are some videos that guided me. There's definitely more out there.

This is too much fun! And Easy!

Basically you just play in your kitchen

G-d bless!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Electron Wars....Phasers On!!!

The contenders: Free radicals versus Anti-oxidants


What are they:
They are unstable atoms or molecules that have unpaired electrons.

Atoms are the basic building blocks of ordinary matter. They join to form molecules which form to make the things around us. Atoms contain protons, neutrons, and electrons. B/c electrons "prefer" to be paired, free radicals tend to indiscriminately steal electrons from other atoms/ molecules, thus creating secondary free radicals and leaving havoc in their wake.

How they operate:
Chemical reactions in the body involve transference of electrons. As food gets broken down, electrons are removed, causing oxidation, and is stored as chemical potential energy called ATP. Oxidation is like an apple turning brown.

And it's all done in an amazingly controlled manner.

Free radicals change the rules of the game. Actually, there are no rules. Any electrons they can steal are up for grabs. And if the theft causes damage to the cells-hardening it and thus preventing them from getting nutrients-big deal.

Their weapons:
Processed and refined foods, food additives like MSG, pollution, smoking (to name a few)

*Free radicals are a natural part of life. We get them when we exercise, from sun exposure, etc. The problem is when there is TOO MUCH and nothing to counteract them.


What are they:
Substances that prevents oxidation, and they include beta-carotene, vitamin C, and vitamin E.

How they operate:
Anti-oxidants carry a two fold mission. One, they bind with free radicals, neutralizing and rendering them harmless. (I bet even the free radicals are relieved!) Thus, they prevent biological damage. Second, anti-oxidants assist in repairing cells that have ALREADY been damaged.

Apparently, the body produces some anti-oxidants on its own. But it's crucial to bring reinforcements through food (only?). And I'm not talking about Doritos or Bamba.

Their weapons:
Berries, citrus fruits, apples, pomegranates. Deep greens like kale, collard greens, and spinach.
Broccoli, cauliflower. Legumes like black and red beans. (Is your mouth watering yet?)
Carrots and sweet potatoes!

Green tea and even coffee have anti-oxidants.

These are the contenders.

*What can I say, I'm alittle biased.

G-d bless!

check it out:

Sunday, March 15, 2009

De-tox! De-tox! De-tox!

Well, Purim came and went. I had a wonderful time.

Strangely enough all the leftover goodies and pastries are still around...

Lately, I've been seriously considering doing a de-toxification externally (just throwing out those foodstuffs!) and internally (getting a real de-tox program.)

I've heard that toxins can accumulate in the body, and removing them is essential for good health.

But in choosing a de-tox program, it's always good to go shopping and to ask for solid advice.

Afterall, there was a scam re: detox and foot pads. Apparently, you could attach these pads to your feet, and while you sleep, the toxins would supposedly be removed from the body, evidenced by the pad turning a brown-ish color. However, it was discovered that holding them over a pot of boiling water produced the same effect! (I could just laugh! Foot pads? Gimme a break!)

Ok, maybe that's an obvious one, but what about all those de-tox pills, drinks out there? Cleanse the liver, cleanse the colon, etc.

Well, if it was up to the British Dietic Association that consist of 6,000 dieticans across Britian, they would throw every single de-tox program out, claiming them to be "nonsense" and a "waste of money."

Whoa. Strong words.

What am I supposed to take from all this?

Well, for one thing, yes, there are toxins in the body. (Hello, that's why we breathe out carbon dioxide....)
And two, it's definitely important to get guidance from a trusted source.

Three, is there a "quick fix" to cleansing the body? (Esp. if there's still Purim pastries in the fridge?)

Four, both pro de-tox'ers and anti-de-tox'ers agree that the body has natural ways of removing toxins from the body-which is what I really want to focus on here. Natural, hunh?

You're actually doing it right now.

And so am I.

No, I'm not talking about blogging. lol

Actually, it's breathing! With each breath we take, we are removing metabollic waste from inside us. But know!

DEEP breathing rids the toxins at a FASTER RATE! Now, this isn't something I've tried to do before, but I found a rather simple and safe oxygen therapy to try out...
(Check out some oxygen therapy!)

Physical activity is another key element. Even here, our breathing definitely becomes deeper. And, of course, it helps us lose the extra weight, 'cuz by the way, excess body fat is the preferred place for toxins to settle. (Excess body fat is also the breeding ground for tumors, including uterine fibroids.)

Aside from helping stabilize blood sugar, getting up and seriously moving allows the blood and lymph circulation to get the nutrients to the right places and the toxins OUT THE DOOR! Or, at least out your pores/openings.

And this is walking, jogging, swimming, etc. If we've got a gym, great. If not, it's NO EXCUSE!

Both groups also agree that drinking fluids is VITAL for waste elimination. Fluids as in water. H20. Not as in soda or coffee. WATER!

Lastly, pro de-tox'ers are really into their juice drinks. They're usually fruits/greens pureed into a smoothie. And anti-detox'ers, like the BDA, say that including fruits and veggies are also important in the body's natural cleansing system. Ok, so whether it's in solid or liquid form, let's get those veggies in!

And how about a green smoothie for breakfast? Ooh...

Ok, I've just inspired myself.
Tomorrow, I might just have to renew my resolve and start again. But that's ok. The important thing is to start! Even if we're starting over each day! By the end of the week, we would've done more than had we not even begun!
And if you're in need of some psychic de-tox, check out

G-d bless!

Check out

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Happy Purim!

Purim is here...

Purim is a Jewish festival commemorating the bible story of Esther.

On this day, people dress up in funny outfits and costumes, hear the story of Esther, send gifts to one another, give money to the poor, and EAT! Oh, yes, what's a festival day w/o food?

We eat. And eat some more!!

There's a sort of indulgence that can easily happen on such a day...And it can easily become complete self-absorption as we build more of ourselves. Our physical selves, that is.

But, when we are munching away, we are taking something from outside ourselves and bringing it in. It's not part of us, yet it sustains us. And so, we have a BIG reason to be grateful to G-d everytime we're eating.

Here He is, providing and taking care of us...

Of course, we should be taking in proper foods, chewing it, and sitting down. You know everything our moms told us in yesteryears.

But, we also can add joy and gratitude to the table. (I'm sure my momma told me this, too) Then, we're aware that it's not just a physical experience. And the food isn't just protein and carbs replacing cells and building "body." As we humble our hearts from thanks, the food becomes a gateway of spirituality. It becomes soul food, nurturing a very hidden but major part of ourselves. Our spiritual selves, that is!

So, whether it's Purim or any festival, whether we're just snacking or preparing a feast, let's stay connected to our Provider by being grateful and happy for the crunchy, chewy, mushy, sticky, soup-y, spicy, salty, and sweet gifts He sends our way.

G-d bless!

"We're Moving on Up!"

Farming for the future?

I have a friend who owns a rather small apartment. With three children, she really needed extra space. With her high ceilings, she figured if she can't expand horizontally, she'll expand vertically. So, she had these large "shelves" about 7 feet from the ground, made to store her suitcases, extra toys, and other things. Made from wood, they're thick, strong and spacious. It's like having a quasi-room upstairs, sort of... Her "gallerias," as she calls them, are quite beautiful. Her home is just art-sy, funky, and unique!

Well, apparently Columbia University professor Dickson Despommier had the same idea, but not for storage. His idea is for farming. He hopes to use glass skyscrapers as farms in heavily populated areas, like India/ Middle East.

If you can't go horizontal, go vertical.

Behold, skyfarming!

I think my friend would approve...

G-d bless!

Check out

Friday, March 6, 2009

Ladies and Gentlemen....Vitamin A

Vitamin A is fat soluble vitamin that is crucial to many processes in the body. Fat soluble means just that, it needs a certain amount of fat in order to be utilized.

Vitamin A is also called retinol or preformed vitamin A, and it's found in animal sources, like egg yolks, liver and organ meats, butterfat, seafood, and fish liver oils.

This vitamin doesn't play around. It helps in vision, stimulates several immune system activities, acts as anti-oxidant (protecting the body against pollutants and free radicals, hence cancer). It stimulates the secretion of gastric juices needed for protein digestion, plays a crucial role in building strong bones and rich blood.

And there's more.

It helps with cell growth and development and is essential to reproductive processes in both men and women.

Deficiency in vit A affects skin, hair, eyes, and the immune system. It's also been linked with growth retardation and bone abnormalities.

Oy vey.

What I recently learned was that when I'm munching and crunching on a, say carrot. I'm getting provitamin A aka carotene. Carotenes are powerful anti-oxidants and are found in yellow, red, orange or dark green fruits and vegetables.

Think spinach, sweet potatoes, kale, collard greens, carrots, and tomatoes.

Once in the body, carotenes are converted to vitaminA in the intestine. That's news to me!

And know!

At times, some diabetics, and folks with poor thyroid function cannot make this conversion. Children convert them poorly, and infants not at all. (Thus, getting it from animal sources is good)

Sally Fallon, author of Nourishing Traditions, writes that high amounts of synthetic vitamin A from supplements can be toxic, esp. to those with impaired liver function and whose diets are poor. However, high levels of natural vitamin A have no toxic effects.

(That makes me a bit nervous, and I'll tend to fall back on my momma's advice of everyting being in moderation!! Hmm, but what is moderate? There are the RDA values, but some claim that in reality they are too low! Animals foods are quite potent vs. vegetable sources. And perhaps, as always, variety is best. That includes having a variety of the veggies that we eat...) reports that there are no toxic side effects of carotenes(you might get some discoloration in hands/feet, but it's considered harmless and reversible). In fact, Institute of Medicine at the National Academy of Sciences did not establish a Tolerable Upper Intake Level (UL) for carotenoids when it reviewed these compounds in 2000.

There are certain veggies, like carrots that are high in carotenes. And know, when carrots are lightly steamed/cooked, the tough cell walls are broken down and release the beta carotene, making it more available for the body to use. (Aw, shucks, whether, they're raw, cooked, or in bowl of soup, they're just a versatile bunch of folks...)

In any case, all the power to both preformed and provitamin A. They're both important, and for me, it's nice to be aware of what form I'm eating when I'm eating it.

G-d bless!

Check it out:

Sally Fallon, Nourishing Traditions

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Riding the Waves...

With any change in life, questions arise. Doubts. Especially self-doubts.

"What am I?" "Can I really..?" Sometimes it's gentle-like a light drizzle.

Pitter patter.

Hardly noticeable at times.

And sometimes it comes in the form of a full-blown storm. Roaring thunder, strong, unrelenting winds, crashing waves, dark and thick engulfing clouds, and worst of all, fear...

How do we stay calm in the storms that rage both outside and in?

How do we ride the waves?

How do we keep balance?

And if we fall, how do get back up again? (B/c we CAN get up...)

How do we remain centered?

How do we find Truth?

How do I find MY truth?

Can I transform the fear?

Can I appreciate or even enjoy the change while it's happening?

And, more importantly, how long will it take to realize that I am not alone, and that He's been riding the waves with me

all along...


G-d bless!

Friday, February 27, 2009

Loving is Giving: Are you ready?

G-d bless!

Vitamin D: My Dark, Lovely Shade of Brown

Part IV

The sun is blazing hot near the equator, and yet there are thousands of Africans going about their business every day. How do they do it?

Apparently, in traditional African societies, they would know when to be outdoors to milk their cows, go hunting, etc. and when to take cover. And they would also use skin care products. (I love this part!)

The Ugandan Acholi would use simsim oil and shea butter. And the Massai tribe used a mixture of red ochre (red or yellow-tinted clay) and cow fat. The point is that, no, Africans weren't just out in the sun all day and, yes, they used products to protect and moisturize their skin. These oils and butter contain vitamin E, seal in the skin's natural moisture, and the thick layer protects against the hot rays.

Do African Americans wear sunscreen?
Well, what's your skin tone? What's your lifestyle like? Are you always outdoors? What time? Or are you only indoors? If you are using a sunscreen, do you Know if the ingredients really protect you? The topic of which sunscreen to use is a whole other story, and some contain toxic stuff. I pray that we each research this further if and when we choose to wear it. Protection from the sun isn't just through sunscreen. Covering up with clothes is also effective. Are you often in the water? The sun's rays are hotter from the reflection.

Are you taking care of your skin?

Taking care of ourselves means getting information! Finding out info that pertains to us: not just depressing statistics, but SOLUTIONS. Are we deficient
in vitamin D? Check it out and do something about it!

Taking care of ourselves means respecting our G-d given uniqueness and not trying to adopt another groups' characteristics. That means respecting our lovely shades of brown. And I do mean lovely...

Taking care of ourselves means loving ourselves. And certain Sages write that loving isn't just a feeling. It's an action. It's giving. In fact, giving LEADS to loving!

If I want to love myself, I need to give to myself.

And in order to give PROPERLY, I need to understand and respect what I am, what I need, what I like, and where I want to go.

I respect that my ancestors are from Africa. I respect my dark, lovely shade of brown. I respect that I need health: healthy realtionships, healthy food, healthy body, healthy books, healthy hobbies.

I respect that G-d gave me a mind to think for myself. I don't need the media to tell me how.

I respect that I like enjoyment. Being and living healthy is not a punishment. And it's not exclusively for "others." It is a gift for everyone.

I respect that life isn't only about me.

I respect that life isn't only about feeling good. It's also about doing good.

I respect that others need me.

I respect that I need them.

I respect me.

G-d bless!

Check it out:

This is one is really worth checking out...Lots of info re: vitamin D testing, supplements, warnings, etc. (Interview w/ Dr. Micheal Holick)

R. Dessler, Strive for Truth

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Vitamin D: Sunlight-Only $69.99

Part III
So, people are running for shade. And it's understandable why.

Skin cancer is a serious disease. In 2005, 50,589 Caucasions were affected with it. (1,112 Hispanics, and 261 African Americans/Center for Disease Control)
We just don't want to go there.

But some doctors are saying that the message is being taken too far. Dr. James Dowd, a rheumatologist and author of The Vitamin D Cure says, "Many dermatologists have thrown the baby out with the bath water."

When Dr. Holick began publicizing the benefits of sunlight/ vitamin D, he was lambasted by dermatologists and even asked to RESIGN from his position at the dermatology dept. at the university!

He says that the American Academy of Dermatology is well-funded by the sunscreen industry...

But these "rebel" doctors aren't even telling folks to go spend hours in the sun! Dr. Holick recommends a light-skinned person to spend 5-10 minutes in the sun, and then cover up. (this is in the summer months) Those with darker skin need more time and should spend 15-30 minutes longer. Other vitamin D experts say 10-20 mins for a light skinned and ATLEAST twice as much for a darker skinned.

I found that the exacts amounts of vitamin D required varied depending on the source. Typically, it was around 1,000 units for adults. (Hmmm, how am I supposed to count that?) Others say more is needed. (The battle goes on...)

And what about foods?

This is what the American Academy of Dermatology says: "Under no circumstances should anyone be misled into thinking that natural sunlight or tanning beds are better sources of vitamin D than foods or nutritional supplements. The only thing they are proven to be better at is increasing your risk of developing skin cancer."

(Well, I agree about the tanning beds! The World Health Organization stated in 2005 that the use of tanning beds increased the risk of skin cancer...)

Indeed, oily fish like salmon, tuna, and sardines, also egg yolks and beef liver are high in vitamin D. (woohoo!) Cod liver oil has got it. Milk, orange juice, and some cereals are also fortified with the vitamin. (Note: It's Vitamin D2)

Definitely good meal choices during the winter months when there is less sun. Dr. Cannell, Vitamin D Council, writes that diets rich in vegetables, fruits, and omega-3fats, and avoiding too much omega-6 and trans-fats—also protects your skin from burning.

But know!

Some say it would take 10 cups of fortified milk and 25 cups of fortified cornflakes each day to get 1,000 units of vitamin D. And you'd have to have fish 3-5 times a week. (Don't mind the fish...)

The good news is that once a person has racked up vitamin D in their body during the summer months, it is stored in the body as fat and can be used during the winter months when it's really needed.

(G-d is clever!)

There continues to be skeptics about the effectiveness of vitamin D re: cancer. And, maybe that's healthy. To rely on one vitamin to solve this disease sounds too good to be true, but rather an interaction of necessary vitamins and minerals does make sense. Everything has to work together...

Ok, I am understanding more about sunlight and the clear benefits of vitamin D. And, honestly, completely hiding away from the sun doesn't even sound sane! However, it does have to be done smart.

But why would anyone want to promote sunshine? It can't be packaged and sold... And why promote it if African Americans are the ones who stand to benefit more?

And, back to my original question: Do African Americans wear sunscreen??

G-d bless!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Vitamin D: Benefits

Part II

Dr. Holick went to visit a woman in a hospital. The woman had a lot of bone pain, muscle pain and aches. She couldn't even walk. Dr. Holick recognized the problem right away. The lady was African American suffering from adult rickets: softening of the bones. He put her on a therapy of vitamin D and sun exposure. And, in fact, in a month/two, the lady was able to walk with a walker.

Here's something else.

African Americans have the highest death rate of any racial and ethnic group in the U.S. for most cancers," said Otis W. Brawley, M.D., American Cancer Society chief medical officer.

And YET, research is showing that vitamin D helps lower the risk of many cancers including prostate, breast, and colon. The Cancer Recovery Foundation claim that vitamin D helps reduce certain cancer by 77%. The Vitamin D Council goes so far as to say that prostate cancer IS a vitamin D deficiency that people just are not aware of!

I really wanted to understand this.

Bursting forth from the hot sun are invisible rays: UVA, UVB, and UVC. The UVB ray is considered the "burning" ray, but it also causes our bodies to make vitamin D.

So, I'm outside. The UVB ray hits my skin, and a flurry of activity begins. A certain type of cholesterol goes through a series of transformation that results into an active form of vitamin D. (It's D3)

And why exactly do I want this?

It definitely makes us feel good. And as we're learning, vitamin D helps with calcium absorption. It helps regulate melatonin-the hormone that causes us to fall asleep. But the really amazing part is that it helps regulate cell growth, in the prostate, breast, colon, and other tissues. And that may be why vitamin D helps combat cancer. (B/c cancer is growth out of control)

Unfortunately, many African Americans are deficient in vitamin D. The NHANES(National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey) found that among African American women in their child-bearing years, 42% were vitamin D deficient. (Next was Mexican Americans, and then Caucasions who were low by only 4%.

Well, considering that African Americans have a natural barrier called melanin against the sun, and that SPF can block up to 95% of UV rays, it's understandable why many of us may be vitamin D deficient.

However, despite the benefits of sunlight, many of us shy away from it...

G-d bless!

Vitamin D: Do African Americans Wear Sunscreen?

I've been reading about vitamin D and expected to read about the benefits of the vitamin. Y'know, the usual. But I realized that it was much bigger deal than I could have imagined, so I figured I would break this topic up into parts.

Part I. Do Black Folks Wear Sunscreen?

The last time I watched Oprah, I remember her mentioning that she wears sunscreen. I use to always wonder if black folks wore sunscreen. It was always a source of embarrassment for me. Hey, you're dark, why are you wearing it? Also, I knew some black people who didn't want to be out in the sun for fear of getting darker. Y'know, try to stay as "light" as you can. The times I would wear sunscreen, I preferred not having my friends know b/c once they did, they snickered at me.

But, hey, I didn't want to get skin cancer! Even black folks gotta be careful!

And yet...I came across an article commenting that are thousands of Africans living in the hottest, sunniest places for years upon years, and yet they are not falling left and right from sun exposure. What gives?

Well, there are three things to know:
1. Sunlight is a natural nutrient that allows us to produce vitamin D in our bodies.
2. Sunscreen is truly effective. The weakest sunblock of SPF 8-15 can block out UV rays by 95%!
3. People with dark pigmentation have a natural barrier, called melanin, against the sun. Depending on the skin tone, according to Dr. Micheal Holick, we basically have a natural SPF of 15-30%

The problem here is that many people, especially those with darker skin tones are deficient in vitamin D. And in my readings, I've learned that vitamin D does more than help our bodies absorb calcium. MUCH MORE!

Much of the info given over comes from Dr. Micheal Holick, a heavy weight in vitamin D studies. He is Professor of Medicine, Phsiology, and Biophysics at the Boston University School of Medicine. And he (among others) is correcting a lot of misconceptions about sunlight, which some people aren't too happy about. And you will soon see why...

G-d bless!

"Humor is to health is what water is to a steamer..."

What is this?

When the waitress in a New York City restaurant brought him the soup du jour, the Englishman was a bit dismayed. "Good heavens," he said, "what is this?"

"Why, it's bean soup," she replied.

"I don't care what it has been," he sputtered. "What is it now?"

Sorry for eating the peanuts

A man visits his aunt in the nursing home. It turns out that she is taking a nap, so he just sits down in a chair in her room, flips through a few magazines, and munches on some peanuts sitting in a bowl on the table.

Eventually, the aunt wakes up, and her nephew realizes he's absentmindedly finished the entire bowl. "I'm so sorry, auntie, I've eaten all of your peanuts!"

"That's okay, dearie," the aunt replied. "After I've sucked the chocolate off, I don't care for them anyway."

G-d bless!!

(title quote by Edith Rothchild)

Monday, February 16, 2009


In searching information on green leafy vegetables, I was discouraged by certain sources from eating high calcium greens like spinach or collard greens.

How can that be?

Well, there's a naturally occuring substance found in plant foods called oxalates. It's an organic acid that the body makes, but is found in abundance in plants. And word on the street is that if you eat a high calcium, high oxalate food like spinach you're headed for trouble.


B/c if you combine calcium and oxalate together, you get a calcium oxalate which translates into kidney stones. And not only that, but the oxalate would prevent calcium from being absorbed in the body and instead be excreted into the urine.

The culprits listed are spinach, collard greens, parsley. And some add celery, strawberries, nuts, beets, sweet potatoes and some other vegetables. (Also on the list is oranges, instant coffee) Avoid these guys, we're warned by some, to avoid losing calcium and not get kidney stones.

Hmm, avoid these vegetables? There's a far more worse things to avoid to prevent calcium loss, ie. excess alcohol, sugar, etc. This didn't seem right to me.

Well, apparently it wasn't right to Dr. Christiane Northrup, author of Women's Bodies, Women's Wisdom. In this comprehensive health book, she writes that this is a tactic to prevent people from using these sources for calcium.

I nearly fell off my chair. But I needed more sources. I didn't have to look far. At, regarding oxalates, it's written, "Since intake of dietary oxalate accounts for only 10-15% of the oxalate that is found in the urine of individuals who form calcium oxalate stones, many researchers believe that dietary restriction cannot significantly reduce risk of stone formation."

Now, they do add that if a person suffers from rare conditions like hypercalciuria type II-it's where loads of calcium are being excreted from the urine then they should avoid these foods.

The Kidney Foundation writes that if you have suffered from kidney stones or have a family history, then restricting these foods can be helpful in preventing future stones. And this caution should be heeded and a doc consulted. No question.

The NY Times reported that kidney stones are on the rise. Whereas in the past,people would get them at age 40/50. Now people are getting them at much younger ages. Some hospitals are even opening up pediatric kidney stone clinics. Obesity, a high salt diet, and not drinking enough water are factors that lead to stones.

Dr. Leroy Nyberg, of the urology dept at the National Institute of Health in Maryland says that people who are inactive can accumulate calcium in the bloodstream, and regular exercise puts calcium back where it belongs-in the bones.

And, lastly, dietician Nina Singh writes that, yes, green leafy vegetables do have oxalates which can prevent calcium absorption. But instead of avoiding them, we should make sure to eat foods that help with absorption-like fish, eggs, and liver. The target, here, she writes is vitamin D.

Now it could be that maybe, just maybe, that well-rounded, healthy meals that includes a variety of vitamins and minerals, avoiding too much processed food, drinking water, and exercise are the keys to making sure that everything interacts and flows smoothly like "nature" intended, oxalates and all...

Now, to me THAT makes sense.

G-d bless!

Check it out yourself:

Dr. Christiane Northrup, Women's Bodies, Women's Wisdom

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Shlada Bellecheen

Check out a new recipe I tried out:
Shlada Bel hails from Morocco. It's basically a lettuce, orange, and walnut salad.


1 head romaine lettuce
3 navel oranges or 3 temple oranges
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons sugar
1 pinch salt
½ teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon orange flower water
¾ cup walnuts, chopped

Wash the lettuce and divide into leaves (discard any tough ones). Drain then dry with paper towels.

Peel the oranges with a sharp knife, removing the skin and the outer membranes of each segment. Using your knife remove each segment, leaving the central membranes behind. Place each section in a bowl then squeeze the juice from the remaining orange core over these.

Meanwhile, make a dressing by mixing the lemon juice, sugar, salt, cinnamon, orange flower water and 2 tbsp of the orange juice together. Whisk to blend and season with salt and pepper.

Shredd the lettuce leaves, and palce in a glass serving bowl. Add the dressing and toss. Use the orange segments to form a design around the edges of the bowl. Sprinkle the chopped walnuts over the top, dust with the cinnamon and serve.

Orange flower water? I didn't know where to get that so I just used more juice from the oranges.
Refreshing and tangy!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Confessions from a Health-Nut Wanna be

I have a sweet tooth.

It has developed during the course of my life.

And, I'm not sure exactly how to get rid of it.

Is it like the wisdom teeth, where a simple extraction is all that's needed?

But isn't it better to extract the "foolish" teeth rather than the "wise" ones?

This could be problematic...

Oy. to extract the sweet tooth?

Is there a dentist out there that can do the job?


G-d bless!

"You will hold me..."

Toddlers are yummy to play with and even yummier to cuddle.

And they LOVE when you pick them up. And don't hesitate (I mean as long as it's not for the upteenth time and you can barely breathe b/c they've played horsey on you and ridden cross country and back. And we know they will try...)

Picking up heavy things like big soup pots, buckets of water, or even
better a cutie-pie toddler is helpful for the continued buildup of bone.

A study at the Veterans Adminstration Medical Center in Florida found that weight training, by boosting the strength of legs, arms, and shoulders, increased bone density by around 1.5 percent per year, whereas being sedentary caused bone density LOSS about 2 percent per year. Over the course of years, these numbers add up...

(Aside from weight lifting, stair climbing, dancing (woohoo!), and brisk walking also contribute to bone build up, says Gary Null in Power Aging.)

But this isn't just another excuse for me to exercise.

It's also another excuse to pick up that wide-eyed sweetie pie and share the love!

G-d bless!

Check it out
Food and Our Bones, AnneMarie Colbin

Monday, February 9, 2009

Happy Tu B'Shevat!!

Tu B'Shevat is the Jewish New Year for Trees.

It's the time that the earliest bloom trees in the land emerge from their winter snooze and begin a new fruit-bearing cycle.

It's customary to celebrate the day by eating fruits associated with Israel: grapes, figs, pomegranates, olives, and dates.

So to all the trees out there, big and small...
Happy Birthday!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Kayar, Senegal

Blog Africa Unchained has a post about Senegalese fishermen coming together to prevent depletion of their fish and seafood stock by establishing a community-based system that limits the amount of catch and restricts catching certain species.

In this way, they manage to increase their profits and protect the environment.

I enjoyed reading about these guys' endeavors. They're trying to make things work there, too, y'know.

And I want to know about it.

G-d bless!

Check out

"I'm here to give you Strength!"

Have you ever examined a lettuce leaf? I'm talking about a leaf from the nutrient rich Romaine, cos lettuce. Deep, dark green at the head with the colors fading into lighter shades until it becomes a crisp white at the bottom. Like a pulsating heart, the deep ridges seem to cry out, "I am here to give you strength!"

In deed, romaine lettuce is packed with nutrients. Hey, it's green, need I say more? It's got vitamins A, C, K , and dietary fiber,for example. (Note: Iceberg lettuce has less...) Because of it's high fiber, it helps with digestion. And, remember, around 2 cups of these lovely leaves comes with 40mg of calcium....

Did you know? Lettuce originated in the Mediterranean area, and the Ancient Greeks thought that it induced sleep, so they would serve it at the end of the meal. And it's believed that lettuce was brought to the New World by Christopher Columbus.

Knock yourself out by making your own salad. And instead of waiting for the end of the meal like the Greeks, just have it throughout your meal!
Throw in some tomatoes, cucumbers, celery, walnuts, and whatever good stuff you can find. Dress it with leomon juice and oil.

But before you dig in...Please, please don't forget to appreciate and relish the luscious-ness and the scrumptious-ness of this dark green beauty!

G-d bless!

Check it out yourself...
at the local supermarket/health food store