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Of Note

A peak behind the magic curtain

Well, we’re ready for you!  Two (maybe three) of you get to be our studio audience during the filming of Eat Well Be Happy in my (Debra’s) home kitchen in Acton.  Each month (except August and September) we film four shows, one right after the other, on Friday.  This month, the shoot is Friday, July 10th.  We start at 9:00 a.m. and finish about 1:30.  Our studio audience will also eat with the camera crew and cooks.  The food and company are great!   

Our first studio audience was terrific.  Thank you, Will, Susan and Gale Ann!  Want to be our studio audience?  Enter your name in the bucket on the store’s carrot table.  The two winners for July will called on Monday, July the 6th.  If you don’t win, don’t worry, we’ll be picking two names every month we film.  What fun! 


Feed your plants!

 Flower growers have used blackstrap molasses to get stronger, longer lasting blossoms for ages. Molasses supplies trace minerals along with bio-available sugars that feed plants.  Milk, too, is a soil and plant food.

Are You Stuck With Damaged Genes?

From a 2005 Debra’s Natural Gourmet newsletter. I still find it interesting, sez Debra!

In Jack Challem's book, Feed Your Genes Right, Mr. Challem says nutrition feeds our genes, which not only are found in every one of our 70 trillion cells, but which contain the basic biological instructions for everything from eye color to the risk of heart disease and other disorders.  “Instructions, encoded in the long strands of DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) that form genes, program everything that happens in your body. They tell heart cells to beat rhythmically and brain cells to store memories. But when genes and their DNA become damaged, information becomes garbled and disease can be one of the consequences.”

Olive Oil Sampling

Thanks to those of you who came to our olive oil tasting that snowy February evening! Did you know that real olive oil is simply the juice pressed from the fruit (the olives) of the olive tree? Pressing olives for their juice is the way olive oil has been made for thousands of years.

Why do we eat olive oil? Not only because it makes our food luscious, but because it has so many health properties (one US cardiologist recommends we enjoy at least 2 Tbsp per day).

In this country, we consume one quart per person per year, while citizens of Greece consume five gallons each. Citizens of Spain enjoy 3.4 gallons per person per year. We have a long way to go to catch up, don’t we!?!

 What's Cooking

Thakkali Thokku: South Indian Tomato Relish

With the flavor intensity of sun-dried tomatoes, reinforced with rich sesame oil and the bright pungency of Tamil spices, this is currently my favorite thing on Earth!   On roast veggies.  Mixed into rice or chick peas.  On a hot dog.  With cornbread.  Like ketchup on eggs.  Mixed into yogurt for a spicy-yet-cooling sauce.  Or for an apocalyptically flavorful pizza.

This recipe is adapted from the kitchen of Mrs. Revathy Ramani in Chennai, who made it clear to me that she makes it differently every time.  Some versions use tamarind to make the relish tart; also so it keeps longer.  I prefer my thokku without.  Like basil pesto, thokku is a great way to preserve summer’s bounty; it’s a treat to discover that last, lost jar at the back of your freezer in January.

Almost-like-Ratner’s Summer Soup

ratners soup

We all have fond memories of special food. When my family made the trek each summer to NYC, we always ate in Ratner’s, a famous Jewish deli founded in 1905 (it closed in 2002) that served only dairy foods. In its heyday, Ratner’s served Sunday brunch to 1,200 people each week, and patrons included Al Jolson, Fanny Brice, Jackie Mason, Elia Kazan, Walter Matthau, Groucho Marx, Robert Kennedy, Nelson Rockefeller… and even the occasional mafia member. My favorite dish from Ratner’s? Their cold vegetable soup made with sour cream. This is my version from those childhood memories.

I have all these herbs growing in my garden. If you don’t, of course you can use dried herbs, but about a third the quantity called for. Can’t do dairy? There are dairy alternatives that work just fine.

Yes, we made this on Eat Well Be Happy, our cooking show. The crew loved this soup. Do use ONLY organic or grass-fed dairy products. It’s so important.

Smoked Tuna Sunflower Bites

Smoked-Tuna-Sunflower-BitesYes, we do have smoked tuna that is USA pole-and-line caught! That means tuna that is responsibly, sustainably fished. If you’re a tuna lover, you will enjoy the smoked tuna in this recipe.  Don’t do tuna? Sophie’s Vegan Toona is perfect here, too.

Sunflower seeds are a simple, old-fashioned food rich in magnesium to soothe nerves, and vitamin E to help combat UV rays and keep skin youthful. I read that eating ¼ C sunflower seeds daily can help bad cholesterol from sticking to the walls of your arteries, thus helping prevent heart attacks.

Adam's Corner

Got Eczema? Got Itch?

Got red, dry, flaky, itchy skin?  You may be one of 15 million Americans who suffer from a non-contagious skin condition called eczema.  While eczema can be hereditary, the redness and inflammation are set off primarily by environmental irritants and allergens, and by stress.  Cold, dry weather, wearing wool, animal dander, mold, synthetic perfumes, alcohol, paint, pesticides, and harsh soaps are also triggers.  In addition, eczema can be triggered by fatigue, cigarette smoke or even by foods that are more acidic (think chocolate, coffee, meat, peanuts).

Doctors say there is no cure for eczema.  Often it is controlled with steroids and antihistamines which, of course, have their side effects.

Are there things we can do to help ourselves?  What self-care can we employ? 

Let’s start with the hardest first.  Ease stress levels.  The only thing I can say about dealing with stress is to learn to go with the flow.  Take a walk every day, sing, and spend time with people you care about.  Laugh with them.  Take yoga classes and get a massage.  If meditation is your thing, meditate!  Don’t forget your B-vitamins (the nerve and stress vitamins).    

Fiber for Weight Loss

Actually, fiber is for a lot of things. That title was just to get your attention.

Of all the changes we have wreaked on traditional diets over the last hundred years, our drastic reduction in fiber intake might very well be the most significant[1].  Not only have we turned away from fiber-rich plant foods, but the plant foods we do eat are often “refined” to remove their natural fiber, leaving us with bland, malleable white bread, white rice, and white pasta.  We even refine our vegetables, removing the nutritious peels from carrots and cucumbers, and foregoing fresh tomatoes for bottled tomato sauce (made without tomato skins and seeds) ladled over white pasta.

What is fiber anyways?  And why is it so important?  Simply put, fiber is the stuff in plant food we can’t digest.  Since it isn’t digested, it isn’t absorbed.  Instead, it acts as a broom, sweeping out the intestines; feeds the “friendly,” probiotic bacteria in the gut; and helps regulate how we absorb nutrients.  All that might sound relatively abstract.  To put it in clearer terms, fiber lowers the risk of cancer, diabetes, and heart disease; helps keeps us regular; supports the immune system; and yes, plays a major role in weight loss as well.