Energetics of Cherry: The Tart/Sweet Superfood

Inflammation and pain are a few of the most common symptoms that people experience. You can easily see this by looking at any over-the-counter medicine aisle at your local grocery store. Lucky for us, cherries are a wonderful and natural remedy for lowering pain and inflammation—among many other benefits! Vote with your dollar and support farms that produce foods that positively impact our health in the most beneficial ways possible. Two DELICIOUS cherry recipes are at the end of this blog.

Energetics

Warming thermal nature; sweet flavor; increases and assists in the circulation of qi energy, tonifies the spleen-pancreas, clears and cleanses blood, and prevents involuntary seminal emission. Tart cherries are astringent and help to tighten and move out excess leaking conditions like excess sweating and frequent urination. Remedy for exhaustion, fatigue, diabetes, gout, arthritis, and rheumatism by eliminating excess body acids.  Treats coldness, improves blood and anemia.

 

Nutrition

Essentially, cherries come in two versions: sweet (which most people are accustomed to, and prefer most often) and tart. Generally, both have the benefits listed within this blog, however tart cherries are the ones that pack the most powerful superfood punch! The flavonoids contained in both types are praised for their anticancer effects and antioxidant capacities. Antioxidants are heavily important to ingest in one’s diet because they have the ability to minimize free-radical activity within the body; free radicals are oxidized molecules that cause damage at the cellular level.

Sweet Cherries

Did you know that cherries can help you sleep better, speed up exercise recovery, and relieve aches & pains?  Tart cherries, or tart cherry juice, is an easily absorbed source of natural melatonin – one of the few natural sources available. While you’re sleeping better, the anthocyanin’s antioxidants (like lutein and zeaxanthin), combined with beta carotene, vitamin C, and quercetin (a blood vessel relaxer) are burning fat more efficiently and reducing uric acid and inflammation.  Inflammation conditions like fibromyalgia, arthritis, and gout, and even sore muscles can be reduced with a cup or two of daily cherries.

Cherries also contain potassium (1 cup of cherries is equal in potassium to a small banana) which helps lowers blood pressure. The darker the cherry the higher the anthocyanin content.  These same nutrients help fight cancer, lower inflammation, enhances the production of cytokines (thus regulating immune responses), and also keeps the brain healthy too.

Sweet and Tart Cherries, fresh & raw

Nutritive Value per 100g

Principle

Nutrient Value per 100g

Percentage of RDA

Cherry type

 Sweet

    Tart

 Sweet

   Tart

Energy

 63 cal      50 Kcal

  3%        2.5%

Carbohydrates

16.1 g      12.18 g

12%        9%

Protein

1.06 g      1.00 g

2%         2%

Total Fat

  0.2 g         0.3 g

1%       1.5%

Cholesterol

    0 g           0 g

0%         0%

Dietary Fiber

 2.1 g         1.6 g

5.5%       4%

Vitamins

Folates

4 mcg           8 mcg

1%            2%

Niacin

0.154 mg   0.400 mg

 1%         2.5%

Pantothenic acid

0.199 mg    0.143 mg

4%             3%

Pyridoxine

0.049 mg   0.044 mg

4%          3.5%

Riboflavin

0.033 mg    0.040 mg

2.5%          3%

Thiamin

0.027 mg    0.030 mg

2%          2.5%

Vitamin C

     7 mg        10 mg

11%        17%

Vitamin A

     640IU      1283 IU

21%        43%

Vitamin E

 0.07 mg     0.07 mg

0.5%         0.5%

Vitamin K

  2.1 mcg     2.1 mcg

2%            2%

Electrolytes

Sodium

     0 mg           3mg

0%             0%

Potassium

  222 mg       179mg

5%             4%

Minerals

Calcium

   13 mg         16 mg

1.3%       1.6%

Copper

0.060 mg   0.104 mg

7%        11.5%

Iron

  0.36 mg   0.32 mg

4.5%       4%

Magnesium

    11 mg        9mg

3%          2%

Manganese

0.070 mg   0.112mg

3%            5%

Phosphorus

    21 mg     15 mg

3%           2%

Zinc

 0.07 mg     0.10 mg

0.5%        0.1%

Phyto-nutrients

Carotene, alpha

   0 mcg        0 mcg

Carotene, beta

  38 mcg   770 mcg

Crypto-xanthin, ß

    0 mcg      0 mcg

Lutein-zeaxanthin

  85 mcg    85 mcg

(Source: USDA Nutrient database)

Preparation

Cherries are in season from May to August.  Try Bing, heart-shaped Lambert, and golden Rainier sweet cherries, or Montmorency tart cherries.  Eat within a day or two of purchase, and rinse just prior to eating.  Look for shiny, deep colored cherries with a green stem still attached. If purchasing dried tart cherries, then be sure to check the ingredients panel as most contain added sugar. Whether treating yourself with wild (sweet) cherries or tart (sour) cherries, it’s a healthy indulgence, so dig in!

 

Kale Quinoa Montmorency Tart Cherry Salad w/ Salmon Recipe

Total Time: 65 Minutes

Prep: 20 Minutes

Cook: 45 Minutes
Yield: 4 People
Level: Beginner

Ingredients

  • Butternut Squash Ingredients:
  • 1 1/2 cups cubed butternut squash (1/2 inch cubes)
  • 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon rubbed sage
  • Salmon Ingredients:
  • 2-7 ounce salmon filets
  • 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 lemon slices
  • Salad Dressing Ingredients:
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons Montmorency tart cherry concentrate
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons shallot, minced
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Salad Ingredients:
  • 1 bunch curly kale, stems removed and finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cups cooked quinoa (hot or chilled)
  • 1 cup dried Montmorency tart cherries
  • 1/2 cup toasted walnuts

Directions

Make Butternut Squash and Salmon:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Toss butternut squash with olive oil, rubbed sage, and salt and pepper to taste. Spread on parchment lined baking sheet and roast for 30 minutes or until squash is tender and beginning to caramelize on edges.

Place Salmon, skin side down, in small baking dish or foil lined baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and place lemon slices on top of filets. Roast for 15 minutes or until just opaque. Allow salmon to cool slightly before removing skin. Use fork to flake fish into chunks.

Make Salad Dressing:

While butternut squash and salmon are cooking, mix salad dressing ingredients in a bowl, liquid measuring cup, or jar with lid. Whisk or shake salad dressing until well combined. Set aside.

Assemble Salad:

Place chopped kale in a large bowl. Drizzle with olive oil, a spritz of fresh lemon juice, and squeeze/massage kale leaves with clean hands for about 5 minutes or until leaves begin to tenderize and turn a dark glossy green. Toss kale with half of the salad dressing and set aside for 10 minutes.

Add quinoa, dried Montmorency Cherries, toasted walnuts, and butternut squash to the kale. Drizzle with remaining dressing and stir to combine. Gently fold in salmon and serve.

Tips:

Be sure to cut kale into small pieces and massage for at least 5 minutes to ensure tender delicious leaves.

Butternut squash and salmon can be cooked at the same time. Just add salmon to the oven halfway through the squash’s cooking time.

Butternut squash, salmon, and quinoa can be made the day before and mixed together before serving.

Salad can be tossed together with freshly cooked warm quinoa, butternut squash, and salmon for a warm salad, or assembled with precooked chilled ingredients for a cold salad.

Recipe courtesy of Emily Caruso, jellytoastblog.com

Cherry Ice (Serves 4)

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 cups pitted cherries, fresh or frozen, plus whole ones for garnish

Directions

In a medium bowl, whisk together wine, honey, and lemon juice until combined. Set aside.

Place cherries in a food processor; pulse until finely chopped. Transfer to bowl with liquid mixture; stir until combined. Pour into a shallow metal pan and place in freezer. Stir with a fork every 10 minutes until mixture is slushy and partially solidified, about 35 minutes. Spoon into serving cups; garnish with whole cherries.

 

http://www.lifeextension.com/magazine/2007/12/sf_cherries/page-01

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1082894/

http://aprilcrowell.com/asian-medicine/cherries-natures-blood-cleanser

Energetics of Food: Why is it Important?

yin_yin-yang_yang-imageThe energetics of food can be quite the tricky concept for the Western mind to understand. It’s definitely not impossible to understand; it’s more that the concept of energetics is a cross current pattern of thoughts that collide against the way in which most Westerners think about the food that they consume. I am one of these Westerners; my Western mindset gave me a lot of applicable and helpful knowledge. However, this mindset also led me astray when it came to my own health. I was so engrossed with consuming items that had phenomenal nutrient profiles that I had not considered the energetics of the food that I was eating. Once I accounted for the energetics of food, applied these Eastern concepts into my diet, and began Western nutritional supplementation, it was then that my health came back online.

energetics-apple

This image uses special photography to see the energetics of this apple. This is a real image of an apple. http://kirlian.com/

If you’re wondering, “what does the energetics of food even mean?” then please read this phenomenal series by Kaely Shull: Power of Energetics: Food as Medicine, Power of Energetics: Yin and Yang, Power of Energetics: 5 Properties, and Power of Energetics: 5 Flavors (Part 1) & Part 2. These blogs do an amazing job at exploring the dense, broad, and integral concepts related to this topic.

I am writing this blog post to share my personal experience with you: optimal health can sometimes require both Eastern and Western methodologies of medicine.

Over the last 8 years I have been attempting to widen my perspective to include ideas, concepts, and ways of being that are not aligned with my culturally adopted way of thinking. Chinese medicine—and the vital knowledge of energetics—has been one of the avenues which deeply expanded my thought processes, and more recently, has shifted me into better understanding how the energetics of food directly affects my body. To be completely honest, this transition into Eastern thinking literally feels as if my brain is turning inside-out and upside-down from its normal Western alignment. I feel like a ship lost at sea with only a half-working compass.

Not to worry though! Our minds and our bodies have the ability to make sense of this “lost” feeling. Eventually we can re-calibrate, and quite naturally, these two mindsets can learn to live harmoniously. The synergistic relationship between these two seemingly opposing ways of thinking can begin to inform one another and a new level of health can be established—one which would be almost impossible with either side being alone by itself. As with anything, this is an ever-growing process, and it is one that I am currently adapting to because of a recent health issue in my own life that has resurfaced from my past: dermatitis.

I’m currently 28 and this recent health issue, although in a new area of my body, was not something that I hadn’t experienced before. As a child I had extreme (well, to me) spouts of diagnosed eczema that had ebbed and flowed throughout my life and throughout different parts of my body. This form of dermatitis had been diagnosed and treated by Western medicine specifically via applying steroid creams and pharmaceutical liquids; this ‘fixed’ it for the time. After my body went through puberty my symptoms of eczema mostly stopped, and every once in a while since then, a small patch would show up in what seemed to be random parts around my body and I could not figure out what caused it. These small patches were minor and didn’t affect my daily life. I began to notice that my skin was my “Achilles heel” since I hardly got sick outside of skin issues, so I began changing my diet in the ways I knew best.

superfoodOver these last 8 years I have tried a multitude of different ‘healthy’ superfoods, drinks, smoothies, practices, etc. in order to optimize my own wellness and to detoxify my body from the things that I consumed before I became aware of the importance of food as medicine. However, my thought processes which lead me to these ‘healthy’ items was confined to my Western model of thinking—one which had overlooked the importance of the energetics of food, and instead, singularly focused on the nutritional profile. I was so busy seeking various superfoods containing abnormally high amounts of antioxidants, anticancer-agents, omegas, fiber, and protein that I unintentionally disregarded the importance of also utilizing the energetic qualities that were imbibed within these healthy sources: yin & yang, 5 properties, 5 flavors, 5 elements, and the 4 directions.

path_through_the_forest-t2My lack of applied knowledge, within the vital field of the energetics of food, led me astray. My hand flared a fiery red with inflamed dermatitis; the discomfort associated with this kept me from sleeping and was a constant struggle of attempting to rehydrate it will various oils; the less I slept, the more I stressed, the worse my hand inflamed. I then saw Donna, our practitioner here at East-West Wellness, and she reminded me of the importance of the energetics of food. After a month of this, I was finally able to see through the forest and know the path that I needed to take. I back-peddled through my mind to try to find where I went wrong. What was I doing that could have caused this to happen? If there isn’t a directly specific cause, then what things are feeding this fire on my hand?

Here lies one of the things that started the fire on my hand: my most recent blog posts (written 3 months before this blog and about 1 month before my hand flared) were written about the energetics of turmeric (Part 1 & Part 2). Turmeric has a plethora of amazing benefits for the body so I decided to prescribe myself ‘therapeutic dosages’ of turmeric. Even though I wrote this article with the intention of expressing its energetic qualities, I again still focused on the Western sense of a nutritional potency: I made a golden paste (highly condensed turmeric) and put this into most of my foods; I would sprinkle turmeric on almost every meal that I ate; I would also add it into my coffee and cacao drinks. I did this heavilTumeric and tumeric powder.y after I wrote that set of blogs, and then after a month of heavily consuming turmeric, my hand slowly exploded with dermatitis that got worse day by day.

Turmeric has a warming energetic constitution; this energetic quality of turmeric—even though it is also anti-inflammatory in Western terms—most definitely fed the inflammation on my hand. I also love spicy foods of all sorts, so naturally I had been consuming many spicy foods at the same time as this new influx of turmeric came into my digestion. Donna explained to me that the dermatitis on my hand has a hot energy to it (as it was obviously inflamed, red, and felt very hot in temperature), and therefore I should remove all energetically warming foods, begin to include more cooling foods, and to also use a topical neem cream with added vitamin D. I did all of this as well as ingested Chinese herbs prescribed by her which helped to clear the extra heat that I had in my system. After a blood test, I was also prescribed a few Western supplements to bring my nutrient levels back into an optimal state.

energetics-pear

Visual Energetics of a Pear

Almost two months later, after being urged to become aware of the energetic impacts of the food that I choose to consume, I now feel and see an immense improvement in my hand. The inflammation has receded, the pain has gone away, and my skin is beginning to feel normal again (FINALLY!). The miraculous thing about this improvement is that this improvement in health was able to occur during my most intensely stressful semester of college-level chemistry and biology (which was definitely among one of the causative factors).

All of this to say that by me shifting my perspective into applying the importance that energetics can play within my own body was a mind-body altering experience for me. Now, I can’t say that turmeric and warming foods were the only culprit—that is very obvious to me—as the ways in which I was dealing with my stress was also a contributing factor, and there were many other things that I had to become aware of (e.g. ingredients in soap, my need to increase exercise, etc.). However, I do feel that being armed with medical knowledge from a multitude of cultures, and now the direct experience of how the energetics within all foods affects my biology, became a key concept that allowed me to take control of my own health. This applied knowledge allowed me to be empowered in the decisions I make every day: what will I eat today? How will this food choice affect my energetics?

Now this doesn’t mean that I can never eat spicy foods or turmeric ever again—unless of course I took a food sensitivity test and found out otherwise. It does mean, however, that I need to learn how to balance my foods in relation to the qualities that these foods bring into my body. This is an art within itself; one that I am immensely excited to learn more about and integrate into my ever-evolving diet.

I know within my heart that this disruption in my health was a blessing in disguise. It is my hope that this experience can also be of help to those of you who read this. Feel free to post if you have any questions or comments =)

energetic-temperature-of-food

Click image to enlarge and save it for your reference

Energetics of Turmeric: An Honourable Herbal Spice with a Multitude of Applications (Part 2)

turmeric-heart-320x209This blog on turmeric is part 2 of 2; if you haven’t read part 1 yet, then click here and check it out.

The use of turmeric as a spice, and as a household remedy, has been utilised across various cultures and has known to be safe for centuries. To date, no scientific studies in either animals or humans have discovered any toxic effects associated with the use of turmeric (Lao et al. 2006), and it is clear that turmeric is not toxic—even at very high doses. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has conducted its own clinical trials with turmeric and published a 300-page monograph. The FDA has declared turmeric, and its active component curcumin, as GRAS (generally regarded as safe).

Turmeric has been scientifically tested in a multitude of aspects and has a substantial list of observed benefits. These health benefits span a wide range of useful applications: anywhere along the spectrum from anti-aging qualities to anticancer functions.

Turmeric has been observed to:Turmeric

-Support collagen production: collagen is the ‘glue’ that holds the body together. This connective tissue is the most abundant protein in the body. Turmeric also provides a mineral, manganese, which helps to rebuild/replace old collagen in the skin and elsewhere throughout the body—thereby keeping skin young-looking, soft, and less prone to wrinkles

-Help to hasten gallstones out of the gallbladder: great preventative for those whose family has a history of gallbladder stones/removal or those that may be on the brink of needing gallbladder surgery.

-Be at least 10 times more active as an antioxidant than vitamin E (Khopde et al., 1999). Extracts can scavenge free radicals, increase antioxidant enzymes, and inhibit lipid peroxidation (stops cell damage due to free radicals).

-Be antimutagenic: this means that its compounds can prevent the mutation of your cells & genes. If the body has too many toxins, free radicals, etc. then genetic mutations can occur; these mutations cause disease and illness. Because toxins lie within everyone’s bodies, ingestion of antimutagenic agents become imperative.

-Prevent damage to the liver (Miyakoshi et al. 2004) and also serves to protect the heart (Mohanty, Arya, and Gupta 2006)

 turmeric list Specific Ailments Turmeric is Beneficial for:

Turmeric is used as an herbal medicine for rheumatoid arthritis, chronic anterior uveitis, conjunctivitis, skin cancer, small pox, chicken pox, wound healing, urinary tract infections, and liver ailments (Dixit, Jain, and Joshi 1988). It is also used for digestive disorders; to reduce flatus, jaundice, menstrual difficulties, and colic; for abdominal pain and distension (Bundy et al. 2004); and for dyspeptic conditions including loss of appetite, postprandial feelings of fullness, and liver and gallbladder complaints.

It has anti-inflammatory, choleretic (increases bile/solids secretion), antimicrobial, and carminative actions (decreases gas/bloating) capabilities (Mills and Bone 2000). Turmeric targets the digestive organs: in the intestine, for treatment of diseases such as familial adenomatous polyposis (Cruz-Correa et al. 2006); in the bowels, for treatment of inflammatory bowel disease (Hanai and Sugimoto 2009); and in the colon, for treatment of colon cancer (Naganuma et al. 2006). For arthritis, dosages of 8–60 g of fresh turmeric root three times daily have been recommended (Fetrow and Avila 1999). For indigestion (dyspepsia), 1.3–3.0 grams of turmeric root is recommended. No known interaction of drugs with turmeric has been reported by the monographs of the German regulatory authority, Commission E (Blumenthal, Goldberg, and Brinckmann 2000).

In a study with human subjects, the effect of turmeric was examined on patients with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). When 1 or 2 tablets of turmeric extract were given daily for 8 weeks, the prevalence of irritable bowel syndrome was significantly decreased, as was the abdominal pain/discomfort score (Bundy et al. 2004).

Turmeric volatile oil is also effective against respiratory tract disorders (pneumonia, bronchitis, asthma, etc.) . The volatile oil is active in removing sputum, relieving cough, and preventing asthma. Thus, turmeric volatile oil may be an efficacious drug in the treatment of respiratory diseases (Li et al. 1998).

Anticancer Properties Observed:

cancerTurmeric inhibits cancer cell multiplication (cell proliferation), induces programmed cell death (apoptosis) of cancer cells, and thus has many anticancer properties (Azuine and Bhide 1994; Deshpande, Ingle, and Maru 1997; Garg, Ingle, and Maru 2008). This fact is vitally important because cancer’s main ability to grow and replicate is due to its cells having an ‘infinite’ life program. This means that it can continually replicate and grow without needing to live by the rules of other healthy, non-cancerous, cells. Therefore, turmeric combats cancer by attacking its main forms of living/growing/replicating.

turmeric pillsThese animal studies have also shown turmeric to fight against the development of skin cancer (Villaseñlor, Simon, and Villanueva 2002), breast cancer (Deshpande, Ingle, and Maru 1998a), oral cancer (Azuine and Bhide 1992a), and stomach cancer (Azuine and Bhide 1992b). Turmeric prevents the formation of cancer at various steps, including inhibiting mutation (Polasa et al. 1991), detoxifying carcinogens (Thapliyal, Deshpande, and Maru 2001), decreasing cell proliferation, and inducing the death of tumor cells (Garg, Ingle, and Maru 2008). Certain organic chemicals within turmeric are able to infiltrate cancer cells and destroy them from the inside out: this process can be likened to well-trained ninjas; the cancer cells have no idea that they have invited in those who will destroy them. Even though these studies were all observing turmeric on animal subjects, it seems that multiple cultures throughout history—over a 4,000 year span—have had phenomenal reasons to apply this medicinal herb into their diets.

Further Health Benefits:

Would you like to increase the functioning of your gut? Turmeric acts as a potent digestive stimulant. As a dietary supplement, it enhanced the activities of pancreatic lipase, chymotrypsin, and amylase; each of these are important digestive enzymes that reside in different parts of the digestive system. Moreover, turmeric mixed with other spices such as coriander, red chili, black pepper, and cumin brought about a pronounced stimulation of bile flow and bile acid secretion (Platel et al. 2002). Mixing any of these singular herbs with turmeric creates a synergistic relationship where each herb becomes more effective. Increasing the bioavailability of turmeric in this way will induce higher amounts of bile flow which allows for the liver to detox more effectively, lessens the likelihood of gallbladder stones, and simultaneously increases the effectiveness of the digestive process.

Turmeric Golden Paste Recipe:Turmeric-Paste

-1/2 cup – turmeric powder

-1 cup – filtered water (estimated; might need more depending on desired thickness)

-1 1/2 tsp – ground black pepper

-1/4 cup – high quality cold pressed organic oil of your choice (olive, avocado, coconut, etc.)

 

Directions:

-Gently heat water in a pan (do not use Teflon coated or aluminium pans, if possible)

-Add turmeric powder & ground black pepper into the pan as it heats

-Gently stir until you get a thick paste (~6-10 mins)

-Add oil & stir more

-When you have desired thickness, then turn off the heat and allow to cool

-Store in a glass jar in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks

As stated earlier, black pepper assists turmeric in becoming highly bioavailable which helps it to be more effective within the body. The added oils will allow for the stomach to more easily absorb and assimilate the golden paste.

This paste can be used as an herbal remedy when feeling a flu or cold. It can also be used as a way to prevent illness and keep your immune system healthy and within the optimal range. Turmeric paste can be mixed with milk or water an d taken to treat intestinal disorders, colds, and sore throats. This paste can be eaten by itself, added to coffee, a smoothie, or your favorite dish. Get creative and enjoy!

Check out this website or this website for further information on ways to use this golden paste =)

 

Resources:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK92752/

http://www.turmericforhealth.com/

Organic Non-GMO Turmeric

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Energetics of Turmeric: An Honourable Herbal Spice with a Multitude of Applications (Part 1)

Turmeric is the root structure used from the Curcuma longa plant (a leafy plant that is related to ginger). It has an extensively long history of medicinal use which dates back 4,000 years and spans a multitude of cultures. turmeric_600Modern medical sciences are beginning to recognize its importance: there are currently over 3,000 scientific publications researching turmeric—all of which have been published within the last 25 years. So, what’s the health buzz about?

Turmeric has been found to be a potent anti-agent-for-almost-everything: antioxidant, antiseptic, antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, antimutagenic, antimicrobial, antitumor, and anticancer. Furthermore, turmeric helps to protect the heart, lungs, kidneys and assists in protecting the body from radiation exposure. Combining turmeric with foods has also been shown to assist—and effectively improve—the digestion of foods.
As with any food/herb/spice/supplement, always keep in mind that some people (this could or could not be you) can be allergic, intolerant, and/or sensitive to things that go into the body. When deciding to implement something new into your diet, always feel into your body and listen to its language of comfort/discomfort. Read our Food Sensitivity Testing page to get a better idea as to how your body might be affected by the food you’re eating. If you’re interested in this personalized testing and diet protocol, then contact us to work with Donna to see what your body is allergic to and how you can (re)discover your optimal wellitude! With that said, let’s explore this phenomenally multifaceted spice!
Cultural Historical Applications and Energetics of Turmeric:
Over the centuries, turmeric has been used in therapeutic preparations throughout different parts of the world. In Ayurvedic practices, turmeric has many medicinal properties including strengthening the overall energy of the body, relieving gas, dispelling worms, improving digestion, regulating menstruation, dissolving gallstones, and relieving arthritis. Many South Asian countries use it as an antiseptic for cuts, burns, and bruises, and as an antibacterial agent. In Pakistan, it is used as an anti-inflammatory agent, and as a remedy for gastrointestinal discomfort associated with irritable bowel syndrome and other digestive disorders. In Pakistan and Afghanistan, turmeric is used to cleanse wounds and stimulate recovery by applying it onto a piece of burnt cloth that is placed over a wound. Indians use turmeric, in addition to its Ayurvedic applications, to purify blood and remedy skin conditions. Turmeric paste is used by women in some parts of India to remove superfluous hair. Turmeric paste is applied to the skin of the bride and groom before marriage in some parts of India, Bangladesh, and Pakistan, where it is believed to make the skin glow and keep harmful bacteria away from the body. Turmeric is also currently used in the formulation of several sunscreens.

$_32In Ayurvedic medicine, turmeric is a well-documented treatment for various respiratory conditions (e.g., asthma, bronchial hyperactivity, and allergy), as well as for liver disorders, anorexia, rheumatism, diabetic wounds, runny nose, cough, and sinusitis (Araujo and Leon 2001). In traditional Chinese medicine, it is used to treat diseases associated with abdominal pain (Aggarwal, Ichikawa, and Garodia 2004). From ancient times, as prescribed by Ayurveda, turmeric has been used to treat sprains and swelling (Araujo and Leon 2001). In both Ayurvedic and traditional Chinese medicine, turmeric is considered a bitter digestive that relieves flatulence. Unani practitioners also use turmeric to expel phlegm or kapha, as well as to open blood vessels in order to improve blood circulation. It can be incorporated into foods, including rice and bean dishes, to improve digestion and reduce gas and bloating. Turmeric is a cholagogue—stimulating bile production in the liver and encouraging excretion of bile via the gallbladder, which improves the body’s ability to digest fats and helps to detoxify the body.
Turmeric is warming to the body and has a bitter taste; it has been used to improve protein digestion, reduce uterine tumors, reduce joint swelling, decongest the liver, dissolve gallstones, increase ligament flexibility, and reduce menstrual pain.
If taken in small amounts, turmeric will stimulate the qi energy of the liver and thereby remove liver qi stagnation. It will also dry up virus-feeding dampness. This spice is extremely versatile and can be added to a plethora of meals, tinctures, salves, and drinks. As with anything, turmeric affects everyone differently, so a general dosage suggested is ¼ – ½ teaspoon daily (as a spice or taken in capsules).

 

Scientifically Observed Properties:
More than 100 chemical components have been isolated from turmeric. The main component of the root is a volatile oil, containing turmerone and curcuminoids, which are found to be powerful natural antioxidants that have anti-tumor capabilities (Ruby et al. 1995; Selvam et al. 1995). Curcumin (one among the many healing substances found in turmeric) is one of the main antioxidant chemicals that help the immune system to subdue free radical formations within the body. It is vitally important to eat foods that have antioxidant properties because free radicals dismantle healthy cells within the body. When there are too many free radicals the body then becomes more prone to disease, illness, and will be unable to achieve optimal wellness.

In a 2007 research study, nutritional analysis showed that 100 g of turmeric contains 390 kcal, 10 g total fat, 3 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 0.2 g calcium, 0.26 g phosphorous, 10 mg sodium, 2500 mg potassium, 47.5 mg iron, 0.9 mg thiamine, 0.19 mg riboflavin, 4.8 mg niacin, 50 mg ascorbic acid, 69.9 g total carbohydrates, 21 g dietary fiber, 3 g sugars, and 8 g protein (Balakrishnan 2007). Turmeric is also a good source of omega-3 fatty acid and alpha-linolenic acid (Goud, Polasa, and Krishnaswamy 1993).

How-to-Remove-Turmeric-Stains
-Regulates the immune system: a healthy and balanced immune system is one of the foundations to optimal wellness
-Is the most efficient at killing H. pylori when turmeric was tested among other herbs (O’Mahony et al. 2005)
-Improves insulin resistance: this can help current diabetics, those pre-diabetic, and those whom are looking to prevent diabetes
-Increases metabolism: can help to lose weight more effectively (always best in combination with other weight loss protocols/healthy lifestyle changes)
-Acts as a repellent against both day and night-biting mosquitoes (turmeric volatile oil specifically) (Tawatsin et al. 2001)
-Reduces skin inflammation; helping to relieve and heal acne, cuts/wounds, psoriasis, eczema, etc.

Recipesginger_and_turmeric_aromatic_rice

Ginger and Turmeric Aromatic Rice by Julia @ The Roasted Root
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Yield: Serves 3 to 4 people
Ingredients
• 1 cup basmati brown rice
• 1 tablespoon coconut oil or oil of choice
• 2 large cloves garlic, minced
• 1 tablespoon ginger, peeled and grated
• 1 teaspoon turmeric, peeled and grated*
• ¾ teaspoon salt
• 2 cups boiling water
• 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
• ½ cup dried cranberries
For serving:
• ¼ cup fresh cilantro, chopped
• ¼ cup pine nuts
Instructions
1. Pour the dry rice into a bowl and cover with cool water. Soak for 15 minutes, then drain.
2. While rice is soaking, put on a kettle of water and bring to a full boil.
3. Add the coconut oil, garlic, and ginger to a medium-sized pot and heat to medium. Sauté until very fragrant, about 3 minutes.
4. Add the rice, turmeric and salt, and sauté an additional 2 to 3 minutes.
5. Add 2 cups of boiling water, reduce heat and simmer, covered until water is absorbed, about 30 to 35 minutes.
6. A few minutes before rice is finished cooking, stir the fresh lemon juice and dried cranberries into the rice. Re-place the cover and continue to cook.
7. Serve with fresh cilantro and pine nuts alongside your favorite main dish.

T-honey-mask-1-1-650x978Turmeric Honey Face Mask
By Kacey @ DEARcrissy
Ingredients:
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon raw honey
Optional: up to 1 teaspoon of coconut oil. This will add extra antibacterial properties and hydrating benefits to the mask-though it will also make oily in a way that leaves the mask less of a paste and more of a spread, so it may not go on as thick as if you left the coconut oil out altogether.
Directions:
1. Mix the 2 or 3 ingredients together until everything is nicely combined. If opting to not use the coconut oil, you may want to use a pinch more honey or even a few drops of water. When you’re ready to use the mask, apply to a clean, dry face. This mask shouldn’t be uncomfortable at all, but as with anything new, if you have rather sensitive skin, you may want to dry a small test area of skin before applying all over your face. Leave on for up to 20 minutes, this can be repeated weekly to help clean out pores and clear skin. Follow with a light moisturizer, or even just a tiny dab of coconut oil.

 

 

Resources:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK92752/

https://draxe.com/turmeric-benefits/

Energetics of Avocado: The Super Fruit?

Avocados are on the rise lately as people are discovering the many benefits they offer.  This well know food item is used in many ways from in dips to eaten raw, but did you know that the avocado is actually a fruit?  A tropical fruit to be exact and is also called the alligator pear! This fruit originates from Central America and Mexico, where the first record of the avocado was written in 10,000 BC.

Unfortunately, avocados aren’t all fun and games. Due to its biochemical make-up, they are often associated with allergic reactions in people with latex allergies.  Also, avocado leaves, bark, skin, and pits are documented to be harmful to animals. Cats, dogs, cattle, goats, rabbits,rats, guinea pigs, birds, fish, and horses can be severely harmed or even killed when they consume them.

Varieties

The most common found in stores is the Hass which is grown in California and makes up over 75% of the US crop. This avocado is about the size of a pear with pebbly, black-brown skin when ripe. Their yellow-green flesh has the consistency of butter with a subtle nutty flavor.  While available throughout the year, their peak season runs spring though summer.

Fuerte avocados are the larger then the Hass with a more define pear shape and smooth bright green skin.  Their flesh is more watery and fibrous.  These Florida grown avocados contain half the fat of the Hass.  Fuerte avocados are in season June to March and peaks in October.

Zutano and Bacon are two varieties with similar characteristics to Fuerte, but they are commonly less available.  These two are in season in the fall and winter months.

Cocktail avocados are small, weighing one to two ounces and contain no pit.  They are harder to find, but worth the effort.

Best Way to Select and Store

photo credit: Avocado via photopin (license)

photo credit: Avocado via photopin (license)

Avocados are best to eat when ripe and since they ripen after harvest, it is important to choose your avocados carefully and take into consideration when you are going to eat them.  If you plan to eat them right away, look for avocados that are dark green in color and gives slightly under gentle pressure. Be sure not to squeeze too hard as they bruise easily. If you are not going to eat them within a day or two, choose avocado that are lighter green skinned and are hard.  Avoid overripe avocados which have dark sucked pits or cracks.  They should also not rattle when you shake them since this is a sign that the pit has pulled away from the flesh.

Storage depends on how ripe they are when you purchased them  If you purchased them fully ripe and ready to eat, store them in the fridge.  They will stay for up to two days if whole.  Avoid slicing avocados before refrigerating since they will turn brown.  If you purchased unripe avocados, you should stop them at room temperature.  They will last for up to 7 days and continue to ripen.  DO NOT refrigerate unripe avocados as they will never ripen and just rot.

Nutrition

 

Avocados are very heart healthy!  They contain a rich source of oleic acid, a heart-healthy monounsaturated fat.  They are also an excellent source of potassium, a mineral that helps regulate blood pressure and guard against circulatory disease.  Avocados also contain folic acid and vitamin B6. These help regulate homocysteine levels, since homocysteine can damage artery walls, promote atherosclerosis, and is an independent factor in heart disease.

avocado nutritionAvocados are also a great source of copper and vitamin C, two nutrients that provide potent antioxidant activities in the body.  Copper is an essential cofactor in the superoxide dismutase enzyme, which disarms free radicals produced in the lungs and blood cells.  Vitamin C works in the water-soluble components in the body to fight free radicals.

As a good source of vitamin K, avocados also help with blood and bone health. Vitamin K is needed to activate a variety of clotting factors in the blood and without an adequate supply blood becomes too thin.  It has been found that certain bone proteins are vitamin K dependent and is important in the process of bone mineralization, a process which creates and maintains bone structure integrity.

Energetics

Avocados builds that blood and yin, harmonizes the liver, and lubricates the lungs and intestines. Used in the treatment of ulcers and to beautify the skin. A nutritious protein source often recommend for nursing mothers.

Individuals who crave oils but do poorly with most fatty foods can usually tolerate avocados.

Cowboy Caviar

Cowboy CaviarI love avocados, and this is one of my favorite ways to enjoy them! Many of recipes for this include a dressing, but personally I forgo the dressing all together. There are many many ways to make this recipe your own, so don’t be afraid to add or subtract ingredients as you go! Please comment below and tell em your favorite way to make this delicious and nutritious dish.

Ingredients

2 (15 oz) cans black beans, rinsed

1 (17 oz) can whole kernel corn, drained

2 large tomatoes, chopped

1 large avocado, diced

1/2 red onion, chopped

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Dressing

1 Tbsp red wine vinegar

3-4 Tbsp lime juice

2 Tbsp olive oil

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

Directions

1. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl.

2. Cover and chill.

3. When ready to serve, transfer to serving dish.  Optional: garnish with avocado slices and cilantro.

4. Usually served with tortilla chips, but anything works! Can also be used like pico de gallo!

Leftovers can be stored in the fridge for up to 2 days.  Just make sure you spritz it with lime or lemon juice to keep the avocado from turning brown!

 

Energetics of Chia: Superfood, Not Pet

A decade ago chia pets were all the rage. Today, chia seeds are known as a staple superfood in health-conscious households. Chia comes from Mexico’s Mayan and Aztec civilizations, who used the tiny black and white seeds as an energy booster. Evidence suggests that Aztecs used chia seeds dating back to 3,500 B.C.!

These seeds are the best plant-based source of omega-3 fatty acids. They are high in fiber, protein, antioxidants, and calcium. Chia seeds contain greater amounts of antioxidants than blueberries! They are often added to beverages, including kombucha and certain sweet drinks. When mixed with water or water-based drinks, the seeds cause the liquid to form into a gel with a slightly chewy and mildly crunchy texture, not unlike tapioca. They are also often added to cereal, sauces, yogurt, and baked goods. In fact, it is a great whole grain to add to muffins, breads, and more.

Chia seeds can also last almost two years without refrigeration. You can use chia gel as an egg-replacer.ll

Although rumored to aid in weight loss, research has found no such trend. This, however, does not diminish the extraordinary health benefits of chia.

Energetics: Promotes heart health, promotes cardiovascular health, reduces inflammation, reduces cholesterol, enhances cognitive performance, regulates bowel function, prevents hypertension, enhances satiety, regulates blood sugar, and lowers tryglycerides.

Cautions: If you have allergies to sesame or mustard seeds, there is a higher risk of you having a chia allergy. Consult your physician or refrain from consuming chia seeds if you are on high blood pressure medication or blood thinners.

Chia Chipotle Bean Burger

Makes 4 to 6 servings

Bean burgers make a fast, casual and tasty meal that is high in protein and fiber and low in fat. Go ahead and make this recipe your own: Play around with the veggies and seasonings and experiment with other types of beans — you can use kidney and cannellini beans, chickpeas, or even lentils.

1 15-ounce can black beans
1/4 cup chia gel (see recipe below)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup corn kernels or sautéed or cooked vegetables (alternatively, use frozen corn kernels, defrosted, or vegetables leftover from another meal)
1 teaspoon canned chipotle in adobo, minced, or 1 teaspoon dried chipotle powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon minced cilantro or parsley (optional)
1 tablespoon virgin coconut oil

1. In the bowl of a food processor or high-speed blender (such as a Vitamix or Blendtec), pulse the ingredients until blended. Do not over-process; you do not want to liquefy!

2. Form the mixture into patties.

3. Heat the coconut oil in a frying pan over medium heat.

4. Cook the patties until golden, about five minutes. Flip and repeat.

5. Alternate cooking method: Preheat oven to 325F. Place the patties on a lightly oiled baking sheet and cook until golden, 12 to 15 minutes, turning halfway through cooking.

6. Serve on hamburger rolls with the condiments of your choice.

Chia Gel

Makes 1 1/4 cups

1 cup cool water
1 3/4 tablespoons chia seeds

1. Pour the water into a sealable plastic or glass container. Slowly pour chia seeds into water while briskly mixing with wire whisk.

2. Wait 3 or 4 minutes and then whisk again

3. Let the mixture stand about 10 minutes before whisking again. Seal the container and store mixture in the refrigerator for up to two weeks to use as needed. Whisk before using. Note: Soaking in water will soften the chia seeds, but they will still be slightly crunchy.

Resources
Coates, Wayne. Chia: The Complete Guide to the Ultimate Superfood.
NPR Staff. “Chewing Chia Packs A Superfood Punch.” NPR Books. http://www.npr.org/2012/07/15/156551074/chewing-chia-packs-a-superfood-punch
“Seeds, chia seeds, dried.” Self Nutrition Data. http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/nut-and-seed-products/3061/2
“Top 10 Health Benefits of Chia Seeds.” SFGate. http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/top-10-health-benefits-chia-seeds-6962.html
Zelman, Kathleen M. “The Truth About Chia: Can chia seeds really help you lose weight?” WebMD. http://www.webmd.com/diet/features/truth-about-chia

Energetics of Flaxseed: Versitile Superfood

photo credit: egnilk66 via photopin cc

Flaxseed has gained popularity in the health-conscious community because it is high in fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, and antioxidants. However, some people struggle with how to incorporate flaxseed into their diets. It can be eaten whole or ground. Though ground is sold is many health food stores, researchers and health professionals do not recommended buying pre-ground flax meal due to a high potential of oxidation. Instead, one should grind the whole flaxseeds before use. This can be done easily using a food processor or coffee grinder.

Whether whole or ground, flaxseeds go well with grains, especially in baked goods. In fact, flaxseed can be used as an egg substitute in baking, as well. For each egg to be replaced, mix 1 table spoon of flaxseed with 3 tablespoons water in a food processor or blender until the mixture gets thick and creamy. Voila! That’s it! This egg-replacer can be used in brownies, pankcakes, waffles, muffins, breads, and more. This works for, vegans, those with allergies, and people with high cholestrol. It can even be a quick-fix if you happen to run out of eggs!

photo credit: charliebay via photopin cc

Aside from baking, flaxseeds can be added to oatmeal, granola, and other cereals. Try them in yogurt or with smoothies. Flaxseed also blends well with many condiments and dressings: mayonnaise, mustard, or in any salad! They have a subtle nutty flavor and don’t overpower many recipes.

Since flaxseed does contain lignans (cancer-fighting phytoestrogens), those with the following health conditions should consult a doctor before consuming large or daily amounts:

  • pregnant or breast-feeding
  • taking birth control, blood-thinning medication, diabetes treatments, or hormonal replacement therapy
  • breast, uterine, ovarian, and/or prostate cancer
  • endometriosis
  • conditions where high levels of fiber should be avoided

One last warning is to not eat raw or unripe flaxseeds, as they may be poisonous. Unripe flaxseeds are recognized by their green color. Store varieties are generally golden or brown, and therefore safe to eat.

Energetics: Reduces the risk of stroke, heart disease, cancer, and diabetes; helps lower cholesterol; reduces inflammation; treats menopause symptoms; supports cardiovascular function; protects against infection; aids in treating conditions including ulcers, migraine headaches, attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, addiction, eating disorders, preterm labor, emphysema, psoriasis, glaucoma, Lyme disease, lupus, and panic attacks.

 

Resources
“Flaxseeds,” The World’s Healthiest Foods. http://whfoods.org/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=81
“Flax Seed as Egg Substitute,”Eggless Cooking. http://www.egglesscooking.com/2008/10/15/egg-replacement-event-flaxseed-meal/”The Benefits of Flaxseed,” WebMD. http://www.webmd.com/diet/features/benefits-of-flaxseed
“Flaxseed,” University of Maryland Medical Center. http://www.umm.edu/altmed/articles/flaxseed-000244.htm

Energetics of Quinoa: Colorful Superfood of the Andes

Quinoa popularity has sky-rocketed these past few years. The United Nations has recently declared 2013 the International Year of Quinoa, and if you haven’t caught on to miraculous superfood, the time is now! For readers unfamiliar with the “supergrain” (which, consequently, is actually a seed), quinoa is pronounced keen-wah.  Native to the Andes mountains along the western coast of South America, quinoa has sustained the Incas since as early as 3,000 B.C.! It was considered sacred and was used ceremonially and to nourish armies. During the Spanish conquest, the Incas were actually prohibited from growing quinoa and were instead forced to grow wheat.

Did you know that quinoa comes in different colors? You may have seen “rainbow quinoa” on shelves, which is a blend of red, black, and white or “ivory” quinoa. In fact, there are over 120 species of quinoa, each varying slightly in color. There is even pink, orange, and purple shades of quinoa! However, the U.S. market only provides the three more standard varieties (red, black, and white).  The difference in flavor is subtle; however, red has a nuttier, more distinct flavor than its white counterpart.

Ever wonder what a quinoa plant looks like?

Quinoa is a nutritional powerhouse. It forms a complete protein, meaning that it contains all nine essential amino acids. This is of particular importance because it is one of the few non-animal foods that supply this. It also contains many vitamins, minerals, fiber, and protein.

Quinoa is treated like many grains. It cooks like rice or can be ground into flour for various recipes. It goes well in salads, too, adding a nutritional kick, or as its own quinoa salad (akin to pasta salad). It is also being used as an alternative to oatmeal, served as a hot breakfast cereal. It has a rice-like texture and makes a good alternative to rice in many dishes, especially with beans! It can also be cooked in broth. It is also a great choice for those who are gluten-free. You should be able to find quinoa pasta at your local health food store, which is a much healthier (and tastier) alternative to standard semolina pasta. There is also quinoa flour (which quinoa pasta is made out of).

Energetics: Promotes energy production, enhances bone density, supports cardiovascular and heart health, protects the body from free radicals, promotes a healthy sleep-cycle.

In one-quarter cup (42.5 grams) of cooked quinoa:
Nutrients
Calories 156.40 8.7% DV
Dietary Fiber 2.51 g 10.0% DV
Protein 5.57 g
Omega-3 Fatty Acids 0.06 g 2.4% DV
Omega-6 Fatty Acids 0.94 g
Vitamins
B1 Thiamin 0.08 mg 5.3% DV
B2 Riboflavon 0.17 mg 10.0% DV
B3 Niacin 1.25 mg 6.3% DV
Vitamin B6 0.09 4.5% DV
Vitamin E 2.07 mg 10.4% DV
Folate 20.83 mcg 5.2% DV
Minerals
Calcium 25.50 mg 2.5% DV
Copper 0.35 mg 17.5% DV
Magnesium 89.25 mg 20=22.3% DV
Manganese 0.96 mg 48.0% DV
Phosphorus 174.3 mg 17.4% DV
Potassium 314.5 mg
Sodium 8.93 mg
Zinc 1.40 mg 9.33% DV
Amino Acids
Alanine 0.26 g
Arginine 0.39 g
Aspartate 0.41 g
Cystine 0.16 g 39.0% DV
Glutamate 0.66 g
Glycine 0.29 g
Histidine 0.13 g 10.1% DV
Isoleucine 0.20 g 17.4% DV
Leucine 0.33 g 13.0% DV
Lysine 0.31 g 13.2% DV
Methionine 0.11 g 14.9% DV
Phenylalanine 0.23 g 19.3% DV
Proline 0.17 g
Serine 0.21 g
Threonine 0.20 g 16.1% DV
Tryptophan 0.06 g 18.8% DV
Tyrosine 0.16 g 16.5% DV
Valine 0.25 g 17.0% DV

Crispy Quinoa Bites

Gluten-Free and Vegetarian!

Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 45 mins
Total time: 55 mins
Makes 24

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 1/2 cup uncooked black rice
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup sweet onions, finely chopped
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese (dairy-free, if preferred)
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil, finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup grape tomatoes, diced
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp. sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper
  • 2 chives, finely chopped, for garnish
  • 2 cups of homemade tomato sauce, for dipping

Instructions

  1. Cook quinoa and rice according to package directions. Prepare muffin pan with nonstick baking spray.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  3. In a large bowl, combine cooked quinoa and rice with remaining ingredients, except chives and pasta sauce; mix well to combine.
  4. Transfer quinoa and rice mixture to prepared muffin pan. Using a tablespoon, fill each muffin cup to the top, then using a spatula, press down on the mixture to create a flat surface.
  5. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven; set aside to cool for 15 minutes. Using a teaspoon, gently remove rice and quinoa snacks from the muffin cups.
  6. Transfer to a serving platter; serve with a sprinkle of fresh chives and a side of tomato sauce for dipping.

 

References

“Crispy Quinoa Bites” The Healthy Apple http://thehealthyapple.com/2012/05/21/crispy-quinoa-bites/

“Quinoa: Nutrition from the Andes” Cook With Quinoa http://cookwithquinoa.com/quinoa-nutrition-from-the-andes/

“Quinoa” The World’s Healthiest Foods http://whfoods.org/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=142

“Difference Between Red & Golden Quinoa” Livestrong http://www.livestrong.com/article/170638-difference-between-red-golden-quinoa/