Almonds in All Forms

Recently, I bulk-bought ten pounds of raw almonds with other local gardeners in the area.  Why would I do that when I live and California and can get them from the local store?  Well, they go through a pasteurization process to kill any organisms that might be on them, like samonella.  But in doing so, they also can eliminate beneficial enzymes that the raw food movement so greatly follows.

No, the reason I bought these raw almonds was because they came from Italy.  Yes,   Since the United States doesn’t allow any truly raw almonds, this was my next choice.

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It’s All in Your Head

Recently, I have taught a few classes on being successful in weight management.  Some interesting points and “ah-ha” moments have brought folk to realize it’s all in their head.

Four basic tenants in order of importance includes 1)attitude/values; 2) psychology; 3)exercise; 4) and nutrition.  Does it surprise folks that their attitude or value they place on managing their weight is ranked more important than eating an apple?  For some it doesn’t.  If an individual has been in the process of managing their weight (in this case, losing weight) for several months, then he/she is going to realize that it is their attitude or approach to the process of losing weight that will make the most difference.  And for some, that is a scary issue to face.

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Sodium Intake and Your Risks

Are you worth your weight in salt? Change that!

Did you know that 1 in 4 people have hypertension or high blood pressure?  Not surprising when most folks are consuming 3500mg of sodium/day.   That’s more than 60% of the recommended intake.  Half these folks can reduce their hypertension risk by decreasing their sodium intake or table salt (aka sodium chloride).  Why is our sodium so high?  Most Americans are consuming their sodium intake through processed foods, ie snacks, soda, or microwavable meals.

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Food Safety During the Summer

No nutrition blog would be complete without food safety guidelines for summer cooking.

Following some of the basic steps below will help you have a safe summer (or any time of year) gathering without getting folks sick.

  • Clean hands, food contact surfaces, fruits and vegetables.
  • To prevent the spread of bacteria, do not wash or rinse raw meat or poultry.
  • Separate raw, cooked and ready to eat foods when shopping, preparing or storing foods.  No one wants cooked food on the same dish you had raw food. This is especially important for the “grill masters” out there.
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Herbs: Benefits of Thyme and Oregano

Thyme

When folks want to eat healthy, I tell them to add herbs to their dishes to avoid “boring” food. Herbs at the store can be expensive and take planning. You need fresh herbs usually the same day you make your dish. But why not grow them in a container or in the ground? You will have them when you need them.

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Have Health, Will Travel

Many folks that I teach bite their nails due to the anxiety of traveling.  They are not sure about how to manage their diet when traveling.  Whether it is for business or pleasure, folks who have developed healthy eating habits find it a struggle to maintain those habits on the road.

Here is my number one tip for healthy people who travel: PLAN!!!  In today’s environment there is a fast food joint on every corner.  This certainly doesn’t make it easier for us to eat healthy. But planning isn’t necessarily for the folks trying to keep the pounds off.  It’s also for folks with specialized diets, ie. Vegetarians, gluten-free, etc.  Planning your meals will help you determine what you are willing do that is healthy and what you willing to splurge on.

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In Season: Berries

The time is NOW! Berries are available now through the beginning of fall. If you are growing a berry bush, i.e. raspberries or blackberries, you might have seen them already on your vines. But peak time does vary depending on the berry. Strawberries and blueberries are at their peak now, while blackberries and raspberries will be at their peak in August going into the fall.

These fruits are great raw or cooked, especially as a pie. Among the first people to appreciate these fruits were Native Americans, who ate them, cooked them, dried them for adding to winter soups and stews, and even used them as medicines, dyes, and food preservatives.

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In Season: Artichokes

My artichoke plant in the front yard.

In all honesty, artichokes are probably a spring crop, but here in So Cal, they are ready for me to eat :)

A single artichoke is actually an unopened flower bud from a thistle-like plant, Cynara scolymus.  It’s a member of the daisy family.

They were avidly cultivated in the fifteenth century in Florence and was reputedly taken to France by Catherine de Médicis, wife of Henry II.  The French, Italians, and the Spanish continue to be the leading growers and consumers of artichokes.  It was European immigrants who brought artichokes to the United States in the nineteenth century to Louisiana and then later to the mid-coastal regions of California, where the cool, foggy climate is ideal for growing.

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Summer Brings Bugs: Good and Bad

I know lots of folks who start their veggie and flower gardens by spraying pesticides in their yard to prevent the insects from eating their plants.  BUT, you are also exposing yourself and others to poisonous chemicals by killing these bugs.

By not spraying pesticides, you will get “bad” bugs, but also attract “good” bugs.  Part of this process is having the right plants to attract the beneficial insects to your garden, such as, yarrow, dill, feverfew, lavender, lemon balm, parsley, sunflowers, spearmint, fennel, white sage. Understand that any wildflowers native to your region will work!

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Onions & Garlic: A rose by any other name

I have been attending herbal classes.  While I know some of the benefits of the nutritional properities of some herbs, I always enjoy learning more.  So I thought I would share the benefits of onions & garlic.

The distinctive odor that garlic produces doesn’t occur until it is crushed.  This is the plant’s defense mechanism against insect predators.  Garlic cloves contain an odorless , sulfur-containing phytochemical  called “alliin.”  When the clove is disrupted, alliin is released and reacts with an enzyme in the neighboring cells that converts it to the odoriferous “allicin.”   Allicin is the garlic’s bug repellant – and a “people” repellant which is why many folks are shy about eating it.  If that’s the case, roast or cook whole to avoid the smell.

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