Tag Archives: lifestyle

Shikanji – Homemade Lemonade

Traditional Indian lemonade, this is a summer favourite … and with current sweltering days and soaring temperatures … a welcome relief !

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Shikanji
  • 1.2 litres of water
  • 6 tbsp sugar
  • Juice of 3 lemons
  • black salt to taste
  • Pepper powder, to taste
  • A pinch of powdered cumin or ginger or chaat masala spice blend
  • Mint or basil, to garnish

 

Gently heat water and sugar together, stirring to dissolve.

In a jug, mix the lemon juice, powdered black salt, powdered pepper and sugar water and stir well. Chill in the fridge.

Flavour with a hint of cumin or ginger (powders) or a pinch of the chaat masala spice blend (available in stores).

Serve over ice, garnished with mint or basil.

Aaaaah !

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Pix off the web, as always, with thanks.

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Sylvia’s Poached Chicken

With Syl’s recipes, the making is as easy as the reading.

Thanks much.

  • 2 or 3 chicken breasts
  • Garlic paste or ginger-garlic paste
  • whatever herbs you have lying around
  • tiny amount of salt and pepper (just for the flavour)
  • few peppercorns
  • a bay leaf
  • few cloves
  • 1 tsp chicken stock powder
  • boiling water, to cover and a bit
  1. Marinate the chicken with garlic, herbs and salt and pepper for as long as you can but one hour is just fine.
  2. Place the chicken, peppercorns, bay leaf and cloves in a frying pan, pour boiling water over and place on a stove. Add the stock powder, let the water come to a boil for a minute.
  3. Turn off the heat, leave the chicken in the pan till the water cools.
  4. Now you have poached chicken that’s not dry. And you can use the cooking liquid as stock or a base for chicken soup.

Pix borrowed off the net, as usual, with thanks.

Brekkie, in some style !

Veggies are good at breakfast, I read, they are especially good, as they’re nutritious, full of antioxidants, provide very few calories per portion, and are packed with fiber—which is filling because it takes up space in your digestive system. Fiber also slows digestion, which means you’ll have a steadier supply of energy over a longer period of time.

So rooted in the fridge this morning and voila :

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A simple fried egg-white, stacked on walnut bread cut to size and garnished with a light salad of cherry tomatoes, avocado, some parsley, some Japanese cucumber and pomegranate arils tossed with balsamic vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper.

Oops … forgot to mention the most important part – a layer of hummus (made sans garlic) between the egg and the bread !

Tasted every bit as good as it looked !

Thanks Veron.

The info on veggies for breakfast from http://time.com/4583581/healthy-food-meal-protein/?xid=newsletter-brief

Chewy Oatmeal Raisin Cookies : a breakfast option

So, after a very early morning Pilates class, Sudha handed me a cookie which she said was her breakfast, on her way to her next class. It was delicious.

Here is the recipe, which I got from her, which she got from Smitten Kitchen. Given that its been passed from hand to hand or rather kitchen to kitchen, and it never turns out exactly the same, I have to say her version and mine were both terrific, in slightly different ways.

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For about 50 cookies (49, to be exact !)

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1  1/2 cups light brown sugar, packed
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp teaspoon table salt
  • 3 cups rolled oats
  • 1  1/2 cups raisins
  • 1  cup walnuts, chopped (optional)
  • 1/4 cup drinking chocolate (Sudha’s addition)
  1. In a large bowl, cream the butter, brown sugar, egg and vanilla until smooth.
  2. Separately, whisk flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt together.
  3. Stir this into the butter/sugar mixture.
  4. Stir in the oats, raisins and walnuts, if using them.
  5. Either chill the dough for an hour in the fridge and then scoop it, or scoop the cookies onto a sheet and then chill the whole tray before baking them.
    (You could also bake them right away, if you’re impatient, but I do find that they end up slightly less thick).
  6. Either way, heat oven to 350°F (175°C) before you scoop the cookies, so that it’s fully heated when you’re ready to put them in.
  7. The cookies should be two inches apart on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes (baking time will vary, depending on your oven and how cold the cookies were going in), taking them out when golden at the edges but still a little undercooked-looking on top.
  8. Let them sit on the hot baking sheet for five minutes before transferring them to a rack to cool.

Pretty easy to make, they came out well and they will go down a treat !

 

A Green and Delish Breakfast

So, no grains. Nothing acidic. Light yet filling. Tasty.

This is entirely Veron’s creation and it was so good, so good.

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Boiled eggs, halved. Yolk discarded.

Avocado into guacamole sans tomatoes (and it tasted better).

Organic kale chopped, freshened with a simple olive oil/lemon juice/salt/pepper dressing.

Roasted pine nuts.

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And for those who wanted grains and yolk, a different version. Wholemeal walnut bread. The yolks atop the guacamole.

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Try it for that sense of total well-being after the meal !

Patates Bravas by Navzer

A tapas dish from Spain, this is Navzer’s version, served on a cold Vancouver evening, quite the shining star among an abundance of delish platters.

  • potatoes with skin, in small pieces, or small potatoes halved
  • olive oil
  • mayonnaise
  • any hot sauce
  • paprika or crushed red chili flakes
  • chopped garlic, about 4 to 5 cloves
  • squeeze of lemon juice
  • 1 tomato, pureed
  • dash of ketchup
  • chorizo or spicy Italian sausages, chopped, pan fried and kept aside
  1. Boil potatoes in a pan of salted water, till almost done.
  2. Drain and cool.
  3. Toss the potatoes in a couple of tablespoons of olive oil, bake for 35 minutes till browned, edges crisp.
  4. Separately, mix 3 tbsp mayo, hot sauce to taste, paprika, chopped garlic, lemon juice and pureed tomato along with a dash of ketchup (for tang).
  5. When the potatoes are slightly cooled, toss with the sauce/dressing and stir in the fried sausages.

Good both hot and cold, absolutely delicious in fact.

Images off the web, with thanks.

Sweet Summer Kale Salad

Discovered in Kitsilano, Vancouver, this salad and dressing was outstanding ; the kale elevated by the sharp contrasts between the piquant, nutty and sweet accents.

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  • Kale
  • Chopped apples
  • Cranberries
  • Almonds

Dressing

  • olive oil
  • orange juice
  • balsamic vinegar
  • shallots, diced
  • garlic, diced
  • honey
  • red chilies
  • oregano
  • sea salt
  • pepper

Most pictures borrowed from the web.

A Sunday lunch with prosecco and friends

Unplanned, on-the-spur-of-the-moment and impromptu, this lunch was sunny, sparkly, air-conditioned and frothy both in liquid sustenance and atmosphere : good cheer, good friends, good food (even if I say so myself).

With Raising Sand (Robert Plant and Alison Krauss), thank you Neena.

Menu

Prosecco, prosecco, prosecco. And good old G & T. And fresh, tender coconut water.

Ok, so these are not my pictures, they’re off the web, but they encapsulate the moments and are the visual ooh’s and aah’s elicited by chilled bliss on a humid summer day.

On to the food :

Kurmur, crunchy, fresh, crisp, in bowlfuls, with the drinks.

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Melon with proscuitto and a honey mustard vinaigrette. (The vinaigrette was part of the plan, but it didn’t get made).

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Here’s the recipe anyway – 4 tablespoons of your best olive oil, 2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar, 20ml runny honey, 1 1/2 teaspoons of wholegrain mustard and a pinch of salt – mixed and stirred and shaken. Got the recipe off the net and the pix were stunning.

A Curly Kale Salad with tomatoes, olives, cubed feta, a minced red onion, cherry tomatoes, thinly sliced red radishes and Japanese cucumber, sliced mushrooms – and for the kick – fresh betel leaves, minced. The whole lot gently tossed with olive oil, salt and pepper. And just a dash of apple cider vinegar. Pomegranate arils. Roasted sunflower seeds, scattered.

A word about the kale. A serendipitous discovery – this was organic, fresh, crunchy and wonderfully green. Home delivered by Ben of Sustenir Agriculture which practices urban farming in Singapore.

Urban farming, thus described : controlled environment agriculture : growing plants without ever exposing them to the outside world, using artificial lighting, exacting specific nutrients and controlling every aspect of the air and water environments … perfecting a plants habitat: giving them exactly what they need, when they need it. Their lack of exposure to the hazards of traditional field farming (insects, temperature changes, cleanliness and purity of water, parasites and inconsistent levels of sunlight) … ergo clean, healthy produce …

Yes, it tasted clean. And healthy. And fresh. And good, considering : kale is the king of healthy leafy greens, a widely regarded super-food that brings more nutrients to the table than any other green on the market. Rich in beta-carotenes, Vitamins K,C, A and calcium, consuming it raw, cooked or juiced will give you boundless energy. With the highest anti-carcinogenic properties of any salad, this is the mighty green that might just save us all!

Arabian Beef Kebabs

These were especially delicious, a new recipe.

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  • 1 kg minced beef
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 fresh cup coriander leaves
  • 1 cup fresh mint leaves
  • big onion, chopped fine
  • 3 cloves and 4 cardamom, and some cinnamon, blended
  • 1 tbsp coriander powder
  • 1 tbsp cumin powder
  • salt
  • 100g olive oil or butter
  • ginger garlic paste
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black peppercorns
  • 2 tbsp lime juice
  1. Mix all together well.
  2. Set aside for 30 to 45 minutes.
  3. Shape, pan fry.
  4. Garnish with mint and coriander leaves.

Pita wedges tossed with sea salt, olive oil and freshly minced rosemary.

Hummus and Baba Ghanoush.

Roast chicken with chunks of butternut squash and sweet potatoes. Smoked salmon with cucumber and soft cheese.

And dessert was Mango Fool with Lime and Toasted Coconut

A puree of Alfonso mangoes (in season), swirled with the zest and juice of half a lemon and Greek yoghurt, chilled, then spooned into ramekins and topped with toasted coconut flakes and sprinkled with black chia seeds. (Couldn’t find passion fruit which was part of the recipe – a drizzle of passion fruit seeds. Substituted with chia).

One did float on the bubbly a bit, which is why my photographs are less than par. Some pix borrowed off the web.

Indonesian Vegetable ‘Urap’

This is an easily repeatable dish – brings a different flavour to the table and the vegetable. Very interesting.

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  • 500g winged beans, washed, sliced crosswise in 0.5 cm pieces
  • 300g cabbage, sliced in 1 cm pieces
  • 3 large red chilies, sliced
  • 4 or 5 bird’s eye chilies, sliced                                                             )
  • 5 to 6 shallots or 1 small purple onion                                            )
  • 4 to 5 cloves garlic, chopped                                                               ) ground to
  • 50g kencur or galangal, washed, skin removed, chopped      ) a paste
  • 1 tbsp sugar                                                                                                )
  • 1tbsp cooking oil
  • 4 pairs kaffir lime leaves, torn
  • 250g freshly grated coconut
  • Salt to taste
  1. Bring a pot of water to boil, add sliced beans and cook for 30 seconds, remove with a slotted spoon to a colander, rinse under running water to stop the cooking, let the beans drain.
  2. Bring the water back to a boil, drop in sliced cabbage, cook for 4 minutes, drain into a colander, set aside.
  3. Heat oil in a large frying pan, add ground spice mixture and kaffir leaves. On medium heat, stir fry for about 5 minutes, don’t let it burn. Add the grated coconut and stir to coat it with the spice mixture, cook over medium heat for 3 to 4 minutes. Add salt, give the mixture another stir. Remove and discard the kaffir lime leaves.
  4. In a large bowl, lightly toss the winged beans, cabbage  and coconut mixture before serving. Good with rice and other dishes.

Recipe from The Straits Times, pix off the web. Tried it, came out well.

When in Vancouver …

Crackers a la Tenaz – pre-wine, from what’s available in the fridge and garden, and on the table

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Crisp herb crackers, topped with a garlic cheese spread, sprinkled with mixed nuts and chia seeds, then layered with a slather of spicy red pepper jelly (so good, so fresh from the farms and greenhouses of Fraser Valley) and topped with a bright sprig of mint (so green and minty, it has to be the air of British Columbia).

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IMG_5820A lovely end to a gorgeously cold and sunny day.

A light lunch before Golf !

A reprise of an earlier meal, but better each time, and the pictures speak for themselves !!

Grilled Salmon

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Mango & Kiwi Salad

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Herbed Mozarella with Beef tomatoes and Basil

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Mango Sorbet

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Photographs by A Thomas except pix of mango sorbet, borrowed from http://www.babble.com

Rainy Days & Mondays

‘Adda’ – steamed (banana leaf) rice pancakes with coconut and jaggery : in memory of school days, rainy days and Mondays …

Coming home from school on a Mumbai rainy day, having sloshed through all the puddles in our Duckback raincoats and gumboots, you entered the house hoping to get the aroma of something delicious Mum might have prepared to ‘warm us up’.

Mum wasn’t an extravagant cook (I have no idea how she managed the budget to clothe, feed and school all six of us) but she was a heart and soul cook. I say ‘was’ – she doesn’t cook anymore at 93.

As you entered the house to the usual tirade … take off your wet clothes, I’ve told you time and time again not to walk through puddles, you’ll get sick, and besides it’s dangerous, didn’t you read about the child you fell into a manhole and drowned, I don’t know when you will learn … you would sniff the air enquiringly : was it bhajjias ? Fluffy onion and carrot were my favourite.

Was it sheera ? Mum’s version was not as sticky and ghee laden, but more like a sweet upma – not my favourite, but a staple nonetheless. Was it bread wada (excitement mounting) ? The deep fried old bread foldovers with potato stuffing that our neighbour Aunty Nair introduced us to, and were to die for.

Hopes are pinned on the delectable Mallu concoction Avval Vallaicha : beaten rice flakes, roasted to a light crisp, along with grated coconut, jaggery and a hint of cardamom … but more likely it will be sukhiyan – boiled moong with a grated coconut and jaggery mixture deep fried with a batter coating (probably more nutritious but more boring).

Whatever it was it was gobbled up with delight along with a cup of milky tea and the hope of seconds, usually thwarted by the standard instruction leave some for the others.

Damn!

‘Adda’ – steamed (banana leaves) brown rice pancakes with a coconut and jaggery filling

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  • 1 cup brown rice flour {puttu podi)
  • Boiling water to mix
  • Banana leaves washed and prepared by running them over a hot flame, and cut into 8″ lengths without the rib.
  • 1/2 a grated coconut
  • 1 cup grated or powdered jaggery
  • a pinch of cardamom powder
  • a pinch of salt
  • a pinch of cinnamon powder (optional)
  1. Mix the grated coconut and the jaggery and keep aside.
  2. Place the rice flour in a mixing bowl. Add boiling water to the powder a bit at a time to make a pliable dough. Its important that the water is very hot – you can use a wooden spoon to mix, but traditionally it is done by hand.
  3. Once the dough is ready, place a large lemon-sized ball directly onto the banana leaf and tap the dough, with your fingers, to spread it into a slightly elongated circle. A small bowl of water to dip your fingers into is handy to help spread  the dough  evenly on the leaf.
  4. Place a generous spoonful of the jaggery and grated coconut mixture into the centre of the flattened dough, staying away from the edges as they will have to be sealed.

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5. Fold the leaf over and use your fingers to pat the edges of the dough, gently sealing each parcel.

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6. You will now have a your banana leaf parcel ready for steaming. Prepare the remainder of the dough and mixture similarly.

7. In a large steamer, line the parcels upright with open edge facing the top (to avoid water seeping into the parcel). Close steamer and steam for about 10 minutes.

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8. Allow to cool slightly before removing the parcels onto a plate to serve. The leaf peels away easily to leave the brown rice pancake or adda ready to eat.

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A Cleansing Crunch of a Salad

Beetroot, Carrot, Sprouted Mung Bean and Mint Salad with Honey Mustard Dressing

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Some days you just feel your palate need a cleansing crunch and this salad is perfect for it. I just happened to have the ingredients on hand and hoped it would work – and it did.

  • I medium sized beetroot cut in thin strips – as close to julienne as you can be bothered with
  • 1 carrot grated
  • 1/2 cup sprouted mung beans
  • 1/2 cup fresh mint leaves torn up a bit

Honey Mustard Dressing

  • 1 tsp Dijon style mustard
  • 1/2 tsp honey
  • 2 generous tsp olive oil
  • a squeeze of lime
  1. Lightly cook the beetroot in a small saucepan with a little water. You want to retain the crunch. Cool. (The beetroot can be left uncooked as well, depending on your preference. You may choose to grate the beetroot so it’s quite fine and doesn’t require cooking).
  2. Mix all the salad vegetables together in a bowl.
  3. Mix the dressing ingredients together.
  4. Combine the two.
  5. Salt and pepper to taste … and it’s ready.

Bon Appetit

This is to kick off the memories : Paris 2009 with friends : a holiday of the senses, an effervescence of food, an exploration of haute cuisine, gastro-tourism, Michelin stars, Michelin guides and just plain ordinary eating.

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The compact, businesslike (soon to be rated Michelin discovery) Le Gaigne in the Marais quarter (third arrondissement) makes a persuasive case to the purse; it is a reason to dress up for some fine dining, and best of all, is just around the corner. Preceded by the ritual of trying on outfits, shared make-up and compliments, the five course Le Menu Dégustation, each paired with a wine and exquisitely served on slabs of black slate, is both delightful and a trifle disappointing. The seafood starter in a shot glass – Verrine de Coquillages en gelée, mousse et coulis de Céléris – is not unpleasant and deserves mention if only for the layered, pureed, spinach; and the braised endives with ham or Millefeuilles d’Endives étuvées et véritable jambon de Paris de M. Leguel, is an out and out winner, a mélange of the sweet, the sour and the piquant.

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The closely packed tables are enveloped in a buzz of conversation, rising and falling in a miscellany of accents. The food is local, organic and fresh, and if organic is unavailable, ‘alternatively produced’ replacements are substituted, where possible. Chef Mikael Gaignon is young and known, having worked in two Pierre Gagnaire restaurants and this, Le Gaigne, is his first restaurant as patron. Given the prices are not Michelin star prices, it certainly offers value for money – and the wines are superbly matched.

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Ladurée (75 Avenue des Champs-Elysées, Tel : 01.40.75.08.75), opened as a tea room in the 1930’s  at a time when women were not allowed to enter cafés (an exclusive domain of men) and soon became hugely successful with the ladies of Paris. Today, a brand unto itself, it is famous worldwide for its pastries and double-decker macaroons (of which 15,000 are sold everyday according to their website). These legendary macaroons featured in a scene between Marie-Antoinette and Ambassador Mercy in Sofia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette.

Originally founded in 1862 as a bakery, it was burnt down in the Paris Commune uprising of 1871 and rebuilt as a pastry shop. It came into its own in 1930 when Desfontaines, the grandson, came up with the idea of sticking two macaroon shells together with creamy ganache (a whipped filling of chocolate and cream), reinventing the macaroon originally introduced by Catherine de’ Medici to France in the 16th century.

The celadon interiors and the waiting in line is an experience in itself, almost like being caught in a boudoir web within a time warp. Brunch has a very ‘ladies who lunch’ feel to it, made inelegant by recalcitrant swiveling seats which make it hard to look graceful, much less balance a china cup of tea delicately. Depending on your taste, the macaroon is either a fantastic melt-in-your-mouth experience, or not quite all that it is cracked up to be.

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Ladurée macaroon boxes are available from their counter at the Charles de Gaulle airport (should you want to take some home) and it is recommended that the macaroons be eaten within three to four days.

Le Trumilou (84 Quai de L’Hotel de Ville, Tel : 01.42.77.63.98,) will be remembered for a perfect meal on a sunny autumn day, a Sunday lunch of escargots lusciously awash in butter and garlic, chilled Sancerre, foaming Leffe, canard pruneaux (duck with prunes), ris veau (veal sweetbread), oeuf a la neige (floating islands) and tarte aux pommes, apple tarts, warm and melting.

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dsc07351It will be remembered as a quintessential French bistrot experience; traditional farm fare and dishes lovingly cooked for hours … and warm sidewalk café crèmes served in the sun, fueling hours of insouciant banter; and your table’s giddy, infectious good humor snags the attention of the man at the adjacent table (ostensibly reading a French translation of Dan Brown’s latest offering) … all this, followed by a siesta on the banks of the Seine on a sunny afternoon.

Le Baiser Salé aka The Salty Kiss (58 Rue des Lombards, Tel : 01.42. 33. 37. 71) is for the nights, for the atmosphere and the perfect evening of jazz, (no fancy wannabe jazz bar in an upstart slick street); this is cellar and decrepit loft, knee to knee in appreciation with other music lovers. A jazz festival is on, Afro-Caribbean, Afro-Latino, salsa, merengue, R & B, fusion … and tonight is mellifluous and the mojitos, margaritas and 1664’s enhance the sweetly evocative articulations of sax and bass guitar.

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For a quick dinner before the show, or between shows, nip across to La P’tit Cantine (22 Rue des Lombardes, Tel : 01.42. 71. 44. 48) for a decent meal of meat and wine.

Le Connétable (55 Rue des Archives, Tel : 01.42. 77. 41. 40) is a chance encounter turned good. The bread is fresh and crusty, the Côtes du Rhône deeply red and invigorating, and the conversation is about men. Pork filet mignons in a Roquefort sauce, veal medallions, rump steaks in (green pepper) saus poivre vert, celery puréed with butter and cream … unpretentious food and robust wine.

Known for its local artists and chanson music (a la Edith Piaf); tonight, in the cellar-cave below, three painfully young men sing French a cappella, gentle croons, warbles and a harmony that has the young audience rapt. Berets are doffed; a battered saucepan is passed around for coins.

Angelina (226 Rue de Rivoli, Tel : 01. 42. 60. 82. 00) is the renowned Parisian gourmet teahouse in the elegant style of the Belle Époque era, designed by the French architect Edouard-Jean Niermans. An institution since its inception, it is known both for its clientele (aristocracy, fashion designers, authors, philosophers et al) as for its Mont Blanc gateau and hot chocolate (closely guarded century old proprietary recipes). The famous Mont Blanc – as well as most of their gateaux – have all been consumed by the end of the day, so if the intent is to eat, get there before teatime. The queues are long and so is the waiting time. The house special, the African Hot Chocolate, is worth every second of the patient wait and the sorbets are richly satisfying, beyond any imagination.

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Restaurant Le 404 (69 Rue des Gravilliers, Tel : 01.44.71.57.81) Le 404 restaurant … exhibits all the vibrant flavours and colours of North Africa. Retrofitted into a 16th century building, 404’s interior is all Berber with pouf seating, exposed beams and stones, tooled leather, authentic artifacts. … The menu features all the dishes … from that part of the world: couscous, tagines, grilled meats, skewered things. The wine list features some unusual Mahgrebi bottles … Grab a drink at Andy Wahloo’s, the sibling bar next door – everybody does, and ‘everybody’ includes show-biz and celebrities.

The evening is an sensory extravaganza; the warm glow of Moroccan lanterns, suspended, lamps and candles holders of iron fretwork dispersing flickering light on dishes heaped with Middle Eastern fare, meat, pigeon, chicken, semolina, pickled lemons, nuts, dates, figs, raisins; the fragrance of spices – cumin, coriander, saffron, chiles, ginger, cinnamon, paprika; a décor of earthen hues, the murmur of conversation, the hiss and sizzle from the stove, the pop of a champagne cork … epicurean hedonism.

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Our last dinner in Paris, Le 404 remains burnished in the memory as a golden experience, beginning with the first mojito, redolent with fresh mint. Chilled Chablis follows with fava beans & olives, Mechoui Maison (roasted shoulder of lamb), pastilla pigeon plat (wild pigeon in pastry), tagine poulet citron (chicken with preserved lemon and olives) and the couscous 7 legumes. And to end a meal of meals, salade d’oranges et fleur d’ orange and pastilla dattes (pastry with dates) accompanied by fresh, aromatic coffee.

Le Pain Quotidien, 18-20, Rue de Archives, Tel :  1 44 54 03 07, is a quiet delight, part of a global chain that first opened in Brussels in 1990. Bakery and communal table; breakfast, lunch, brunch (organic where possible, with vegan and vegetarian options) and simple boulangerie fare – soups, salads, tartines, homemade pastries, handmade organic bread – artisanal dishes, community eating at a long wooden trestle table.

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No gastronomic journey is complete without a nod to junk food and the Googrill beef and chicken burgers at Quality Hamburger Restaurant (63 Boulevard Saint Michel, Tel : 01.42. 71. 44. 48) … ils sont délicieux, elles sont parfaits.

Bon appétit, says the garçon, placing the bottle of Sancerre on the table, gently.

And so we do, meal after meal after glorious meal.

Pantry Checklists : Veg and Vegan

This one I stumbled upon, from link to link to link,  a useful checklist, if you need one. Screen Shot 2015-05-31 at 6.16.50 pm

V e g e t a r i a n  &  V e g a n  P a n t r y  C h e c k l i s t

Grains & Seeds

Brown Rice High in fibre and low GI, and rich in selenium which reduces risk of cancer and heart disease.

Regular Rolled Oats Lowers bad cholesterol, helps lower blood pressure, is filling and stabilises blood sugar.

Buckwheat groats A great budget friendly pantry staple. Soak overnight with your favourite dairy free milk and turn it into a healthy bircher muesli for breakfast the next morning. Toasted buckwheat is fantastic sprinkled over salads too. Buckwheat is gluten free and higher in protein than rice, millet and corn.

Polenta A slow releasing carb with low GI, it contains a good range of vitamins and minerals such as B vitamins, vitamin A and zinc. Firm polenta is a great gluten free base for a range of toppings (such as caramelised onions and mushroom) and also makes fantastic chips.

Black Rice High in antioxidants. So high in fact that a spoonful of black rice contains more antioxidants than the same serve of blueberries. Use in place of white rice, for sushi and even burgers.

Sunflower seeds Toasted sunflower sprinkled over salads add a lovely crunch and are also high in vitamin E and contain compounds that can assist in lowering cholesterol.

Quinoa – White, Red or Black A complete protein – important for vegetarians and vegans. High in fibre and iron. Great in a variety of uses from salads, burgers … can even be used as a rice replacement in risottos.

Millet  Millet is a great gluten free, easily digestible grain, high in iron, protein and fibre. It is also quite cheap too (much cheaper than quinoa). Great in salads and  makes a mean veggie burger too.

Pumpkin Seeds Sprinkle toasted pumpkin seeds in salads. Pumpkin seeds are a good source of Omega 3 fatty acids and are high in zinc.

Barley Can be used in a variety of ways from salads, as a rice replacement in risottos and in soups. Nutritious and high in fibre, can assist in lowering cholesterol and is apparently helpful for postmenopausal women.

Sesame Seeds Toasted sesame seeds are a great addition to salads and stir fries. They are also a great source of calcium, protein, and iron. Sesame seeds are also a wonderful source of copper which is beneficial for anyone suffering from rheumatoid arthritis.

Chia Seeds Chia Seeds are a great high quality protein, they are also high in fibre and antioxidants and omega 3 fatty acids. They are also a wonderful egg replacement for vegan bakers!

Beans & Lentils

Chickpeas High in fibre : 2 cups of chickpeas are all that is required each day to meet your daily fibre requirements. Chickpeas are also iron rich and filling. Use in salads, stir fries, and of course chickpeas are the basis of everyone’s favourite dip – hummus.

Black Beans High in fibre, antioxidants and protein, black beans are an extremely rich source of the trace mineral molybdenum. Molybdenum assists with breaking down and detoxifying sulfites found in foods like salads and wines.

Kidney Beans Fantastic in stews, high in vitamin K which is good for the brain and nervous system. And like all beans are high in fibre.

Lentils High in protein and fibre. Use in salads and soups.

Cannelloni beans A wonderfully creamy bean, cannelloni beans are low GI, high in fibre and antioxidants and at home in everything from salads, stews to soups.

Nuts

Almonds Use to make your own dairy free milk. Toasted flaked almonds are also a great addition to salads.

Cashews Great roasted and added to granola.

Pistachios Pistachios are high in B6, which is wonderful for the nervous system. Pistachios also contain two carotenoids, called lutein and zeaxanthin, which are not found in most nuts and function as protective antioxidants, defending tissues from damage from free radicals.

Hazelnuts Hazelnuts are incredibly high in folate and are packed with B vitamins. They are wonderful, toasted, sprinkled over salads.

Flours

Chickpea (Besan) flour Makes a fantastic gluten free flour, great for a whole variety of uses from crepes, crackers and even pasta.

Almond meal (or almond flour) makes the most fantastic gluten free cakes.

Wholemeal Flour Wholemeal (also called whole wheat) flour is a great, healthier replacement for regular white flour. It has a slightly nuttier flavour and is denser than regular white flour.

Sweeteners

Honey Anti-bacterial and anti-fungal. Used by the ancient Egyptians for medicinal purposes. Also good for sore throats.

Brown Rice Syrup Has a low GI of 25 compared to the 64 of regular white sugar. Brown rice syrup is made from fermented brown rice which breaks down the starch in the grains, then the liquid is removed and heated until it reaches a syrup-like consistency.

Pure Maple Syrup A fantastic alternative to sugar. Containing over 54 antioxidants, maple syrup also features high levels of zinc and manganese – wonderful for the heart and boosting the immune system.

Oils

Olive oil  Reserve extra virgin olive oil for dressings and finishing off a dish. Olive oil contains oleocanthal, which mimics the effect of ibuprofen in reducing inflammation.

Coconut Oil  Has a high heat point, so can be used in stir fries or for frying. Also anti fungal, antibacterial and antiviral. Said to be great for bloating!

Raw Apple Cider Vinegar An old remedy to help improve digestion, it is also said to help lower glucose levels.

Condiments

Balsamic Vinegar Originating in Italy, Balsamic vinegar is a wonderfully thick syrupy vinegar that is a wonderful antioxidant. It was also an ancient remedy for headaches!

Soy sauce Wonderful in stir fries, soy also adds a fantastic depth of flavour in a range of vegetarian dishes. Try adding a little soy next time in place of salt and taste the difference!

White Miso Great for soups and in salad dressings or marinades. Miso contains all essential amino acids, making it a complete protein and also restores beneficial probiotics to the intestines.

Tahini Wonderfully high in calcium- perfect if you are on a dairy free diet. Also rich in minerals such as phosphorus, lecithin, magnesium, potassium and iron.

Canned Goods

Tomatoes Tinned tomatoes are wonderful in stews and soups,  also handy for quick pasta sauces.

Coconut Milk Place a tin in the refrigerator overnight and scoop out the thick cream on top and use as a dairy free cream. Coconut milk is also wonderful in curries and soups.

From Delicious Everyday – a vegetarian food blog with a collection of vegetarian recipes for everyday life. The recipes focus on fresh seasonal ingredients and celebrate fresh, healthy whole foods.

Nasi Tumpeng : A Birthday Celebration

A birthday and a surprise : Nasi Tumpeng.

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A birthday gift (and surprise from Veronica), a celebratory dinner. Nasi Tumpeng, the elaborate rice dish from Indonesia, painstakingly made with love.

The rice – uduk rice tinged yellow with turmeric – is moulded by a cone-shaped woven bamboo container and occupies center stage on a tampah or round woven bamboo plate layered with a banana leaf. An assortment of Indonesian dishes form the base.

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Tonight, it is quail eggs, urap or vegetables (sliced cucumbers, cherry tomatoes), meat kebabs wrapped in seaweed strips, telur pindang or  boiled marble eggs, ayam goreng or fried chicken, a spicy sambal, chicken fritters or perkedel, sliced boiled eggs.

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And on the side, a gravy of diced potatoes, snow peas and tofu.

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According to Wiki, there is a philosophical meaning to every part of a traditional tumpeng. Folklore in Java and Bali draw parallels between the cone-shaped tumpeng (a mystic symbol of life) and ecosystems. The various side dishes and vegetables represent life and harmony in nature. The height of the cone symbolizes the greatness of Allah, and the food at the base of the cone symbolizes nature’s abundance. The yellow tinge in the rice symbolizes wealth and high morals.

The authentic tumpeng should contain at least one animal meat to represent a land animal, fish to represent sea creatures and egg to represent winged beasts. Vegetables represent food provided by the plant kingdom.

Whenever there is a reason to give thanks – a wedding, birthday, anniversary or new year – the tumpeng is the dish, with the rice representing gold and the many dishes surrounding it indicating a bounty of food and luck.

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And so the birthday was celebrated, with love and gratitude.

Thank you Veron. It was delicious and it was deeply appreciated.

 

Trying out gluten free cereals …

Gluten free small batch toasted organic rice flakes, walnuts, flax seeds and palm sugar shavings. Would you buy ?

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I don’t eat cereal … but if I did, I would.

I certainly would. How does it taste ? Been eating the muesli every day. Enjoying it, especially with virgin coconut oil, no milk.

It tastes great. Coconut oil ? Interesting. Doesn’t it taste oily ?

Yes, doesn’t sound too exciting !

Not oily in the least. Virgin coconut oil – very light. Getting to like it more and more.

Rocket Pesto a la Syl

Rocket was growing in wild profusion in the garden bed. One of the few things growing in any sort of profusion in our veggie patch at Rema Rainbow Valley, Panchakshipura, Tamil Nadu. IMG_4964 (1)So I thought I’d find a good use for it – beyond a salad.

IMG_4969 (1)I had eaten rocket pesto before but never tried to make it, or indeed any sort of pesto.

Had time on my hands and a renewed interest in trying out new recipes. So I looked on line for a recipe and came upon one by Jamie Oliver. As only Jamie does he encourages you to play with the ingredients and so I did. His ingredients, my quantities.

Recipe loosely based on Jamie Oliver’s recipe, sourced from the Net.

  • 2 tightly packed cups freshly picked and washed rocket leaves (stems and all)
  • 15 cloves garlic (small Indian variety – probably use 6-8 of the fat ones you get in Australia)
  • 1/2 cup shelled walnuts chopped up a bit (next time I make this I’m going to increase it to 3/4 cup or 1 cup)
  • extra virgin oil as needed. I used 3 or 4 generous slugs
  • Juice of half lemon (in the absence of lemons I used juice of a whole lime)
  • 4 tbsp grated Gran Padano parmesan (the last of my stock)
  • Salt and pepper to tasteIMG_4965 (1)
  1. Place the rocket leaves and add a couple of generous slugs of olive oil in a blender’s jar. Blend.
  2. Separately, (or do this first) blend together the garlic cloves and walnuts.
  3. Combine the two blended mixtures.
  4. Add lime/lemon juice, grated parmesan, salt to taste and pepper, if using. I didn’t – the rocket was very peppery.
  5. Add a bit more olive oil if you like – I did.
  6. Mix well, enjoy.

I gave our gardener Govindappa a taste of the pesto.IMG_4968 (1) Normally he has very finicky tastes for anything but good South Indian food. He savoured this one, gave it the tick of approval.

He likened the slightly bitter taste of the rocket to bitter gourd and remarked it must be good for diabetics and for controlling blood pressure. Maybe it is!

Breakfast Muesli : Recipe for Syl

Is the one you are referring to ?

‘… which I had it at your place a 100 years ago …’

dried-apricots How-to-Make-Flax-Powder th blueberries Granola-Pumpkin-NEW coconut oil

Muesli

  • ½ cup sunflower seeds, toasted
  • ¼ cup pumpkin seeds, toasted
  • 1 cup hazelnuts, toasted, chopped
  • 1 cup oats
  • 1 cup wheat flakes
  • 1 cup barley flakes
  • 1 cup raisins
  • ½ cup chopped dried apricots
  • 2 cups dried apple slices, halved
  • 1/3 cup dessicated coconut (optional)

Mix all together, store in an airtight container.

IMG_4934 (2)Some additions : when serving, add a tablespoon of virgin coconut oil, powdered flaxseeds, a few almonds, some fresh blueberries, a tablespoon of pomegranate arils, chopped banana (if you like) and a handful of those millet flakes that are so crisp and crunchy.

Pix from the net.

Tips to Improve your Health

This was emailed to one in the gangof480 recently (author unknown, as it was a cut-and-paste mail).

Merits reading and sharing. This is an edited version … and thanks to whoever wrote this for the detailed info.

Add Sprouts to Your Diet

One of the most nutritious powerhouses to add to your diet are sprouts. They are an authentic “super” food that many overlook or have long stopped using. In addition to their nutritional profile, sprouts are also easy and fun to grow in your own home as they don’t require an outdoor garden.

They can contain up to 39 times the nutrition of organic vegetables grown in your own garden, and allow your body to extract more vitamins, minerals, amino acids and essential fats from the foods you eat. During sprouting, minerals, such as calcium and magnesium, bind to protein, making them more bioavailable.

Furthermore, both the quality of the protein and the fiber content of beans, nuts, seeds and grains improves when sprouted. The content of vitamins and essential fatty acids also increase dramatically during the sprouting process. Sunflower seed, broccoli and pea sprouts tend to top the list of all the seeds that you can sprout and are typically each about 30 times more nutritious than organic vegetables. While you can sprout a variety of different beans, nuts, seeds and grains, sprouts in general have the following beneficial attributes:

  • Support for cell regeneration
  • Powerful sources of antioxidants, minerals, vitamins and enzymes that protect against free radical damage
  • Alkalinizing effect on your body, which is thought to protect against disease, including cancer (as many tumors are acidic)
  • Abundantly rich in oxygen, which can also help protect against abnormal cell growth, viruses and bacteria that cannot survive in an oxygen-rich environment
  • Planting and Harvesting Sprouts at Home

I used to grow sprouts in Ball jars over 10 years ago but stopped doing that. I am strongly convinced that actually growing them in soil is far easier and produces far more nutritious and abundant food. It is also less time consuming. With Ball jars, you need to rinse them several times a day to prevent mold growth. Trays also take up less space.

My two favorites are pea and sunflower sprouts. They provide some of the highest quality protein you can eat. Sprouted sunflower seeds also contain plenty of iron and chlorophyll, the latter of which will help detoxify your blood and liver. Of the seeds, sunflower seeds are among the best in terms of overall nutritional value, and sprouting them will augment their nutrient content by as much as 300 to 1,200 percent! Similarly, sprouting peas will improve the bioavailability of zinc and magnesium.

Make Fermented Vegetables a Daily Staple

The importance of your gut flora and its influence on your health cannot be overstated. Your gut is home to countless bacteria, both beneficial and pathogenic. These bacteria outnumber the cells in your body by at least 10 to one, and maintaining the ideal balance of good and bad bacteria forms the foundation for good health – physical, mental and emotional. In fact, your gut literally serves as your second brain, and even produces more of the neurotransmitter serotonin than your brain does.

Cultured or fermented foods are essential for maintaining a healthy gut. The culturing process produces beneficial microbes, also known as probiotics, which help balance your intestinal flora. Fermented foods are also some of the best chelators available, capable of drawing out a wide range of toxins and heavy metals. Just a quarter to a half a cup of fermented vegetables per day is sufficient for most people. Ideally, you’ll want to include a variety of fermented or cultured foods, as each food will inoculate your gut with a variety of different microorganisms.

Optimize Your Vitamin D Levels with Appropriate Sun Exposure

Vitamin D, once linked to only bone diseases such as rickets and osteoporosis, is now recognized as a major player in overall human health. There are only 30,000 genes in your body and vitamin D has been shown to influence over 2,000 of them. That’s one of the primary reasons it influences so many diseases, including diabetes, depression, heart disease and cancer, just to name a few. But while many focus on vitamin D supplementation, it’s important to realize that the IDEAL way to optimize your vitamin D level is not by taking a pill, but rather allowing your body to do what it is designed to do – create vitamin D from sun exposure (or a safe tanning bed). Sunlight is superior to supplements for a number of reasons:

  • It is natural. Our ancestors optimized their vitamin D levels by sun exposure, not by swallowing it in foods. Although vitamin D is in some animal foods, it is in relatively low quantities and to my knowledge there are no known ancestral populations that thrived on oral vitamin D sources
  • When you expose your skin to the sun, your skin also synthesizes high amounts of cholesterol sulfate, which is very important for cardiovascular health. In fact, Dr. Stephanie Seneff, believes that high LDL and associated heart disease may in fact be a symptom of cholesterol sulfate deficiency. Sulfur deficiency, in fact, also promotes obesity and related health problems like diabetes
  • Most experts believe you cannot overdose when getting your vitamin D from sun exposure, as your body has the ability to self-regulate production and only make what it needs
  • When taking a high dose vitamin D supplement, you also need to boost your intake of vitamin K2, either from food or a supplement, in order to maintain the proper ratio. These two nutrients work in tandem, and vitamin K2 deficiency is actually what produces the symptoms of vitamin D toxicity, which includes inappropriate calcification that can lead to hardening of your arteries
  • Sunlight has many additional health benefits unrelated to vitamin D production

Intermittent Fasting

It’s long been known that calorie restriction can improve metabolic disease risk markers and increase the lifespan of certain animals. More recent research suggests that intermittent fasting can provide the same health benefits as constant calorie restriction, which may be helpful for those who cannot successfully reduce their everyday calorie intake. I believe it’s one of the most powerful interventions out there if you’re struggling with your weight and related health issues. One of the primary reasons for this is because it helps shift your body from burning sugar/carbs to burning fat as its primary fuel.

Research has also shown that fasting can boost your body’s production of human growth hormone (HGH) by as much as 1,300 percent in women and 2,000 percent in men. HGH, commonly referred to as “the fitness hormone,” plays an important role in maintaining health, fitness and longevity, including promotion of muscle growth, and boosting fat loss by revving up your metabolism. Other health benefits of intermittent fasting include:
Normalizing your insulin and leptin sensitivity, which is key for optimal health.

  • Improving biomarkers of disease
  • Normalizing ghrelin levels, also known as “the hunger hormone”
  • Reducing inflammation and lessening free radical damage
  • Lowering triglyceride levels
  • Preserving memory functioning and learning

A simple way to incorporate intermittent fasting into your lifestyle is to simply time your meals to allow for regular periods of fasting in between. To be effective, the length of your fast must be at least eight hours long. This means eating only between the hours of 11am until 7pm each day, as an example. Essentially, this equates to simply skipping breakfast, and making lunch your first meal of the day instead.

Incorporate High Intensity Interval Training into Your Exercise Routine

Compelling and ever-mounting research shows that the ideal form of exercise is short bursts of high intensity exercise. Not only does it beat conventional cardio as the most effective and efficient form of exercise, it also provides health benefits you simply cannot get from regular aerobics, such as a tremendous boost in human growth hormone (HGH), aka the “fitness hormone,” which is essential for optimal health, strength and vigor.
HIIT has also been shown to significantly improve insulin sensitivity, boost fat loss, and increase muscle growth. Best of all, high intensity exercises are so efficient, you can get all the benefits you need in just a 20-minute session, start to finish, performed twice or a max of three times per week.

The key factor that makes interval training so effective is intensity. To reap maximum results, you need to work out at maximum intensity, with rest periods in between spurts. If you are using exercise equipment, I recommend using a recumbent bicycle or an elliptical machine for your high-intensity interval training, although you certainly can use a treadmill, or sprint anywhere outdoors. (Keep in mind that if you intend to sprint outside, be very careful about stretching prior to sprinting. Also, unless you are already an athlete, I would strongly advise against sprinting, as several people I know became injured doing it the first time that way.)
You can also modify your weight training routine to turn it into a high intensity exercise. This is done by slowing it down. The super-slow movement allows your muscle, at the microscopic level, to access the maximum number of cross-bridges between the protein filaments that produce movement in the muscle. To learn more, check out my interview with Dr. Doug McGuff – an emergency room physician who is also an expert in high-intensity interval training.

An important dietary adjunct that will help you get the most out of your high intensity training is to avoid fructose. If you consume sugar or fructose, especially within two hours post-exercise, you will increase somatostatin (also known as growth hormone-inhibiting hormone), which will in turn obliterate the production of growth hormone that you’d otherwise get from your high intensity exercise. So avoid commercial sports drinks, juices, enhanced water products and any other beverage containing fructose, and stick to pure water. If you need to replenish electrolytes, coconut water is an excellent alternative but it’s only recommended if you’re exercising intensely and sweating profusely. Otherwise, the high sugar content can be counterproductive.

Get High Quality Sleep

Sleep is such an important part of your overall health that no amount of healthful food and exercise can counteract the ill effects of poor sleeping habits. Poor sleep has been linked to a number of health ailments, including short-term memory loss, behavioral problems, weight gain, diabetes, increased risk of heart disease and cancer. Sleep deprivation also prematurely ages you by interfering with your growth hormone production, normally released by your pituitary gland during deep sleep (and during high intensity Peak Fitness exercises discussed above). Growth hormone helps you look and feel younger.

Most people need somewhere around seven to eight hours of sleep per night, but sleep needs are highly individual, and tend to vary depending on your current state of health and stress levels as well. If you still feel sleepy upon waking or feel like you need a nap during the day, you’re probably not getting enough.

If you feel well-rested in the morning, that’s a good sign that your sleep habits are just fine. But if not, you might want to investigate your sleep patterns more closely. ZEO is an innovative sleep measurement device that allows you to perform a personalized ‘sleep study’ from the comfort of your own home. The beauty of this device is that it lets you evaluate how various factors affect your sleep. For example, you can evaluate how your sleep was affected by a cup of coffee in the afternoon, or how doing computer work past a certain hour impacted your sleep. You could actually go through my 32 recommendations for improving your sleep and evaluate the effects of each one if you wanted to.

Get Grounded

Did you know the energy from the Earth can help you live a healthier life? The concept is known as earthing or grounding, which is nothing more than walking barefoot; grounding your body to the Earth. You can connect any part of your skin to the Earth, but one is especially potent, and that’s right in the middle of the ball of your foot; a point known to acupuncturists as Kidney 1 (K1). It’s a well-known point that conductively connects to all of the acupuncture meridians and essentially connects to every nook and cranny of your body.

Compelling research shows that lack of grounding has a lot to do with the rise of modern diseases.When you’re grounded, there’s a transfer of free electrons from the Earth into your body. And these free electrons are probably the most potent antioxidants known to man. Any free radicals they encounter in your tissues will immediately be electrically neutralized. This occurs because the electrons are negative, while the free radicals are positive, so they cancel each other out.

Another very important discovery, and one of the most recent, is that grounding thins your blood, making it less viscous. This can have a profound impact on cardiovascular disease, which is now the number one killer in the world. Virtually every aspect of cardiovascular disease has been correlated with elevated blood viscosity. It can also help protect against blood clots.

The ideal location for walking barefoot is the beach, close to or in the water, as sea water is a great conductor. Your body also contains mostly water, so it creates a good connection. A close second would be a grassy area, especially if it’s covered with dew, which is what you’d find if you walk early in the morning. Concrete is a good conductor as long as it hasn’t been sealed; painted concrete does not allow electrons to pass through very well. Materials like asphalt, wood, and typical insulators like plastic or the soles of your shoes, will not allow electrons to pass through and are not suitable for barefoot grounding.

Exercising barefoot outdoors is one of the most wonderful, inexpensive and powerful ways of incorporating earthing into your daily life and will also help speed up tissue repair and ease muscle pain due to strenuous exercise.

Drink Pure Water

Your body requires a constant daily supply of water to fuel all the various waste filtration systems nature has designed to keep your body healthy and free of toxins. Your blood, your kidneys, and your liver all require a source of good clean water to detoxify your body from the toxic exposures you come into contact with every day.

When you give your body water that is filled with toxins leached from plastic, by-products from chlorination, volatile organic compounds, or water that is contaminated by pesticides, fluoride, or prescription drugs, you are asking your body to work twice as hard at detoxification, because it must first detoxify the water you are drinking, before that water can be used to fuel your organs of detoxification!

Clearly, the most efficient way help your body both avoid and eliminate toxins is to provide your body with the cleanest, purest water you can find. This is easily done by installing one or more types of water filtration systems in your house.

If you could only afford one filter, there is no question in most experts’ minds that the shower filter is the most important product to buy for water filtration, even more important than filtering your tap water. This is because the damage you incur through your skin and lungs far surpasses the damage done by drinking water (which at least gives your body a fighting chance to eliminate the toxins through your organs of elimination).

An even better solution to the problem of harsh chemicals and toxins in your home’s water supply is to install a whole house water filtration system. There’s just one water line coming into your house. Putting a filter on this is the easiest and simplest strategy you can implement to take control of your health by ensuring the water and the air in your house is as clean as possible.

Limit Processed Foods and Replace Non-Veggie Carbs with Healthy Fats

Two of the most powerful dietary interventions are

1) limiting or eliminating processed foods

2) replacing non-vegetable carbohydrates and excess protein with healthful fats

Beneficial fats include avocados, coconut oil, olives, olive oil, butter and nuts. Wild Alaskan salmon is also a powerhouse of nutrition, providing critical omega-3 fats. As a general rule, when you cut down on carbs, you need to increase your fat consumption. Both are sources of much-needed energy, but fats are a source of energy that is far more ideal than carbohydrates. Replacing carbs with more protein is not a wise choice as it can produce similar adverse hormonal changes as burning non-vegetable carbs.

Generally speaking, you should be looking to focus your diet on whole, ideally organic and/or locally grown, unprocessed foods. For the best nutrition and health benefits, you will want to eat a good portion of your food raw.
Processed foods are notoriously high in fructose, not to mention artificial additives. All forms of sugar (but fructose in particular) have toxic effects when consumed in excess, and drive multiple disease processes in your body, not the least of which is insulin resistance, a major cause of chronic disease and accelerated aging. Replacing non-vegetable carbs with healthful fats will also optimize your insulin and leptin levels, which is key for maintaining a healthy weight and optimal health.

Most people eat far too much protein. Like many areas of health there is a “Goldilocks” dose that provides most of the benefits and minimal side effects. Dr. Rosedale believes that the ideal amount is about one gram per pound of lean body weight unless you are pregnant or doing competitive athletics. But that is a level that will more than supply your body’s amino acid needs without sacrificing your health.

Avoid Toxins

Volumes of books could be written on modern day toxic exposures, but while it may be impossible to list every possibility, if you avoid the most notorious offenders, you’ll be way ahead of the game. In general, this includes tossing out your toxic household cleaners, personal hygiene products, air fresheners, bug sprays, lawn pesticides, and insecticides, just to name a few, and replacing them with non-toxic alternatives. In terms of specific toxins, some of the most hazardous yet commonly encountered ones include:

  • Mercury – found in dental amalgams and fish.
  • Fluoride – found in toothpaste, fluoridated water, and non-organic food (due to the widespread use of fluoride-based pesticides. For example, conventionally-grown iceberg lettuce can contain as much as 180 ppm of fluoride – 180 times higher than what’s recommended in drinking water).
  • Bisphenol-A (BPA) and Bisphenol-S (BPS) – Used in the manufacture of polycarbonate plastics, bisphenols are estrogen mimicking chemicals that can leach into food or drinks from the plastic containers holding them. These chemicals are known to be particularly dangerous for pregnant women, infants and children.
  • To avoid plastic toxins such as bisphenols, opt for glass over plastic, especially when it comes to products that will come into contact with food or beverages, or those intended for pregnant women, infants and children. This applies to canned goods as well, which are a major source of BPA (and possibly other chemicals) exposure, so whenever you can, choose jarred goods over canned goods, or opt for fresh instead. Another good idea is to ditch plastic teething toys for your little ones and choose natural wood or fabric varieties instead.
  • Phthalates – found in soft plastics such as polyvinyl chloride (PVC), as well as many toiletries, including shampoo, toothpaste, and cosmetics. Phthalates is one of the most pervasive type of endocrine disrupting chemicals discovered so far, and have been linked to a wide range of developmental and reproductive “gender-bending” effects.

Have Great Tools to Address Your Stress

Research has linked emotional stress to a wide variety of health problems, including physical pain, chronic inflammation,3stillbirths,4 lowered immune function, increased blood pressure, altered brain chemistry, increased tumor growth5 and more. Even the conservative Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that 85 percent of all disease has an emotional element.

Clearly, it is not possible or even recommended to eliminate stress entirely. However, you can work to provide your body with tools to compensate for the bioelectrical short-circuiting that can cause serious disruption in many of your body’s important systems. By using energy psychology techniques such as the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), you can reprogram how your body responds to the unavoidable stressors of everyday life so that “the little things” no longer pose such a great threat to your health.

Exercising regularly, getting enough sleep, and meditation are also important “release valves” that can help you manage your stress. EFT is akin to acupuncture, which is based on the concept that a vital energy flows through your body along invisible pathways known as meridians. EFT stimulates different energy meridian points in your body by tapping them with your fingertips, while simultaneously using custom-made verbal affirmations. This can be done alone or under the supervision of a qualified therapist. Since these stressors are usually connected to physical problems, many people’s diseases and other symptoms can improve or disappear as well.

Replace Drugs with Natural Alternatives that Address the Cause

Last but certainly not least, replacing drugs with natural alternatives, or better yet, addressing the lifestyle factors that are causing your health problem in the first place, are your best bets if you want to avoid becoming a disease- or pharmaceutical-mortality statistic.

Drugs are known to cause well over 125,000 deaths per year in the US when taken correctly as prescribed. This is not so surprising when you consider the average drug label lists 70 potential adverse reactions. Overall, drugs are 62,000 times more likely to kill you than nutritional supplements, and 7,750 times more likely to kill you than herbal remedies. According to the US National Poison Data System, the following drug categories are among the most lethal:

Analgesics, sedatives, hypnotics, and antipsychotics    Cardiovascular drugs     Opioids    Acetaminophen combinations     Antidepressants
Muscle relaxants     Anti-inflammatories    Antacids     Anticoagulants    Antihistamines

The vast majority of health problems are in fact responsive to appropriate lifestyle changes – the most important of which have been covered above. Type 2 diabetes, for example, is not only wholly preventable, it’s virtually 100 percent reversible through diet and exercise alone. Even cancer has been shown to be responsive to such measures. Scientists are seriously looking into a number of dietary treatment alternatives, such as ketogenic- and anti-angiogenesis-type diets.

For example, research led by Dr. Dominic D’Agostino has found that when lab animals are fed a carb-free diet, they survive highly aggressive metastatic cancer better than those treated with chemotherapy. The reason a ketogenic diet can have such a dramatic (and rapid) effect on cancer is because all of your body’s cells are fueled by glucose. This includes cancer cells. However, cancer cells have one built-in fatal flaw – they do not have the metabolic flexibility of your regular cells and cannot adapt to use ketone bodies for fuel as all your other cells can.

So, when you alter your diet and become what’s known as “fat-adapted,” your body starts using fat for fuel rather than carbs. When you switch out the carbs for healthy fats, you starve the cancer out, as you’re no longer supplying the necessary fuel – glucose – for their growth. Intermittent fasting, discussed above, is one of the most powerful ways of to become fat adapted.