Green Pesto Dairy-Free, Your Way!

I love this pesto, which is so versatile – it can be mixed into soup, thinned with water or more extra virgin olive oil to make a sauce, spooned over veggies, grains, beans. Pesto can be used as a thick pasta sauce, served over chicken, shrimp, scallops, tofu, grilled vegetables or even on bread instead of butter. You can use it as a dip for a colorful crudité platter, or with slices of gorgeous, baked purple yams.

Overcome Carb & Sugar Cravings

From Debra Stark’s desk
A repeat from 2013 because it’s time to recalibrate….

According to Dr. Mark Hyman, family physician and a four-time New York Times bestselling author, we’re battling a “diabesity” epidemic. Diabesity, he says, is when our bodies move from balanced blood sugar to insulin resistance (the state when our cells become numb to the effects of insulin and need increasing amounts of it), to full blown diabetes and obesity.

Diabesity occurs, Dr. Hyman says because we’ve drugged our cells with too much sugar and starch (yes, this is an oversimplification on my part…).

But what if we can’t stop eating carbs and sugar? What if we can’t resist that big bowl of pasta? What if eating cake is routine instead of an occasional indulgence?

I recently read a book published in 1999, called The Diet Cure: feel better in 24 hours, naturally by Julia Ross, M.A., which encourages us to stop dieting, to balance the body’s chemistry so we don’t have the cravings in the first place. The book says that dieting and pep talks won’t help when what we need is a biochemical overhaul.

Cranberry-Pear Apple Crisp with Spices

I love pies but don’t have the patience to deal with making crust.  Around holidays, this is my go-to kind of fruit dessert.  Even though I still peel fruit, cobblers and crisps are easy-going.  They don’t expect perfection from the baker, which is a relief.  And I love maple syrup with fruit!

I do use only organic fruit.  I remember my mother telling me how heavily cranberries and apples and pears are sprayed.  I want us all to be healthier and live happy longer.

Want to get the most out of your food? Enzymes play a big part.

Does eating organic food mean we’ll be healthy, wealthy and wise?  If only it were that easy… Before we can absorb anything, our body must break down what we eat into smaller pieces.  It’s that “breaking down” process that extracts nutrients, so they can be assimilated.  Until that happens, not much we put into our mouths does us any good.

It’s the hardworking enzymes that make that happen for us.

Enzymes are catalysts, spark plugs that initiate chemical reactions in our body.  Enzymes are both metabolic (systemic) and digestive.  Metabolic enzymes instigate various chemical reactions in cells including energy production and detoxification.  It’s the digestive enzymes needed to activate metabolic enzymes we’ll talk about here – digestive enzymes such as amylase to digest starches, protease for proteins, lipase for fats, lactase for dairy and cellulase for cellulose or fiber, maltase for grains and sucrase to break down sugars.

Astragalus (planetary herbals) and Zinc
(Source Naturals): “I tend to be a-stragal(us)er with colds and flues, but I zinc that this keeps them away!” – Mary

Bone Health 102

Calcium, without magnesium, is a problem.  We know that insufficient magnesium impairs bone formation, especially in adolescence.  We also see that higher magnesium is linked to better bone density and better markers of bone turnover.  Magnesium is needed to activate vitamin D, too.

Meanwhile, low magnesium levels are implicated in diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, asthma, migraines, kidney stones, muscle cramps, anxiety, even colon cancer.

There’s almost nothing in the body magnesium doesn’t touch, directly or indirectly.

And yet most Americans are deficient in the crucial mineral.  In 2005-2006, for example, more than half of us fell below the recommended daily allowance of 400 mg – itself considered low by many experts. 

Quinoa with Fennel and Chestnuts

Fennel is a vegetable I save for company and special occasions.  It seems a perfect addition to a holiday table, doesn’t it?  And it doesn’t hurt that fennel aids digestion either.  Your vegetarians will love this dish, too, because quinoa provides lots of excellent protein.

Don’t waste the green fronds on the fennel.  You can mince and add to salads or use wispy-like as a garnish.  Try that here.  I also freeze the chopped greens as a flavorful addition to soups or stews.

I love chestnuts when the weather turns towards winter and when I think of company.  Did you know that Roman soldiers were given chestnut porridge before entering battle because it is fortifying?

Simple French Cassoulet

Cassoulet, the classic French white bean and meats stew, typically cooks long and slow.  This is a speedier version of the traditional recipe with chicken, sausage and beans.  There’s NO compromise on flavor, and this is delish!  If you’re vegetarian, substitute a vegetarian sausage and get creative with chicken substitutes (we now even have a vegetarian chicken in a can…) such as tofu, tempeh or favorite foods like olives.  (And add some extra olive oil!)  If you don’t do beans, use butternut squash or yams.  If you’re not using liquid from the beans, add a C of water or vegetable broth.  Make this recipe your own. 

Chimpanzees Prefer Organic

I loved this when I read it in the Natural Foods Merchandiser back in 2003! “Chimpanzees can tell the difference between organic and conventional fruits.” Zookeepers at the Copenhagen Zoo, Denmark, began putting both types of bananas in the animals’ cages last year as part of the program to earn a “green label” as an environmental zoo. Zookeepers said chimps consistently chose organic bananas first. What’s more the chimps ate the organic bananas, skin and all, but peeled the non-organic ones before eating!

Bone Health 101, Part I

Let’s get one thing out of the way before we start. Calcium is not the solution to all things bone. Sure, it’s important. Necessary, even. But once you get enough – and “enough” may be less than you think – piling more on top of that accomplishes very little. In fact, too much calcium can sometimes do more harm than good.

For me, the message is to focus less on how much calcium we get, and more on calcium management. In other words, on the nutrients and habits that help calcium get to the right place, and keep it out of the wrong ones. But we’ll talk more about that later. For now, let’s begin.

What are bones, anyways? Bones are not “dead” like fingernails or hair. They’re made of living, dynamic tissue. Yes, they contain the rock-like mineral calcium, but this calcium is integrated into an organic matrix of cells, protein, blood, and nerves.

No-Pasta Eggplant Lasagna with Greens

Did you know that the eggplant, known as an aubergine in France and England, is not a vegetable, but is a berry of the nightshade family (Solanaceae)? Interesting, isn’t it?

Please make sure all your dairy products come from grass-fed animals.  Not only for the animals’ sake, but so you get more nutritional bang for your buck.  Grass-fed=more CLA, conjugated linoleic acid, which helps prevent belly fat.

Culinary & Medicinal: Exotic Mushrooms in the Kitchen

Growing up, mushrooms were mushrooms.  There was only one kind in the store: small and round, bland and boring.  Button mushrooms, they were called.  Or champignons, if you wanted to sound classy.  A lot of people liked them, but nobody loved them.  Nutritionally, they provided minor amounts of protein and fiber, vitamins and minerals.  But nothing special.

So today, it’s a pleasure to see all these upstart growers bringing new varieties to market, varieties that emerge from the dark in which they’re grown in a profusion of whites and pinks, yellows and blues; amorphous and architectural, variegated and cascading, with (and without) delicate tendrils that make you want to stare in fascination, or pet them like a kitty cat.

These exotics are beautiful, they’re delicious, and they’re easy to cook.  Some of them are strongly healing as well.   

HU Dark Chocolate Cashew butter and vanilla: “I tend to Choc-o-lot about this because it’s NUT your average chocolate!”- David

A Quick Easy Dessert, No Oven Necessary

This recipe from last summer, serves four people. Mix 1 C thick yogurt or mascarpone or crème fraîche with 1 tsp rose water and 2 Tbsp honey or agave. Spoon into 4 bowls or pretty glasses. Scatter 4 C any kind of berries over cream mixture (save a little cream to dollop on top, too). Top with remaining cream, drizzle with 2 Tbsp more of honey or agave. It might be nice to garnish with roasted, salted pistachios (about 1 Tbsp per bowl).

Ice Cream in Summertime

Summertime is synonymous with ice cream. Just drive by Reasons to Be Cheerful, or any other ice cream shop if you don’t believe me….. All those people out there licking away! Did you know it takes 50 licks to finish off a single scoop of ice cream?

Kurt’s Pecan Pesto (an old summer recipe)

I fell in love with Kurt’s recipe in the early days of our store. It’s easy to make and is dairy-free, too. 

 Kurt said, “Once Adam asked the Gaia Herb rep what the best herb for general health was. The rep said basil and explained to us that it was the best overall tonic for the body. Pecans in this recipe add healthy fatty acids to the mix, and of course there are all those benefits that come from fresh garlic. This recipe can be called “raw” if you choose a raw olive oil like Bariani olive oil. Could this be the healthiest recipe ever at Debra’s Natural Gourmet?”

Have a Happy, Healthy Cycle!

If you have PMS or menstrual symptoms, you’re not alone. More than half of all women experience mood swings, anxiety, bloating, headache, acne, cramps, etc. Luckily, we can do something about it.

Your first line of defense is EXERCISE. Study after study shows that women who exercise regularly do better with every single symptom of PMS. Any exercise is good, but here getting your heart rate up is more important than weight training; frequency of exercise, more important than intensity.

Secondly, CLEAN UP YOUR DIET. Seek out fresh, organic plant foods rich in fiber. Make your grains whole grains. Try to eat legumes at least once a day. Throw nuts and seeds into the mix, as well as fermented foods (“Ahem – note the black garlic in the recipe above, and have you tried our new fermented olives sold near our refrigerated krauts and kimchis?” asks Debra).

Limit processed and refined foods, meat and dairy. No single meal is going to make or break your PMS. But over time, daily foundational changes can tip the scales towards hormones in balance, and a more comfortable period.

Before we get into supplements, let’s talk for a moment about what causes PMS. Lots of things do, of course. But I want to talk here about estrogen dominance.

Mediterranean Marinated Medley with Obis One Black Garlic

Steam your favorite assortment of seasonal vegetables, then marinate them in extra virgin olive oil, a little red wine vinegar, Spike seasoning, thyme and Obis One black garlic.

I love this combo with some fresh mozzarella or Nettle Meadow cheeses (Kunik and Simply Sheep are my new favorites!), ripe tomatoes and good olives. For carnivores, it’s great alongside salami or sausages. It’s also yummy on the plate next to corn or a big roasted potato.

So, what is black garlic? It’s aged, fermented raw garlic, whose flavor will amaze you. Black garlic is sweet and savory, all at the same time, and soft, like dried fruit. Once aged, it keeps at room temp for six months. Eat it, and you get no garlic breath, and black garlic contains double the antioxidants of raw garlic. Who knew?

Jason Peppermint Toothpaste “I tend to chose Jason’s…  rather know that my tooth paste doesn’t contain neurotoxins!” – Paul

Three Twins Ice Cream Sundae Cones  “I like this because there is ice cream and chocolate all the way to the bottom, and the cone doesn’t have a hole, so it doesn’t drip down your shirt!” – Alex

Hibiscus Stevia Lemonade

(This is a repeat, as we do each summer! )

If you don’t know, stevia is a South American herb that tastes much sweeter than sugar. The good thing is that stevia doesn’t affect blood sugar, is safe for diabetics and contains virtually no calories. An 8-oz cup of Pink Stevia Lemonade yields roughly 3 calories. You can live it up, baby!

Summer First Aid

Bruises, Scrapes, Bee Stings, Poison Ivy, Traveller’s Diarrhea?

Heat or Ice?  When I was a younger man, I used to play a lot of pickup basketball.  Don’t let anyone tell you it’s  not a contact sport! In addition to the occasional bumps and bruises, at least once a summer I’d jam a finger, pretty hard. I’d watch helplessly as it swelled and swelled… Within 30 minutes, it might be twice it’s normal size, purple and bloated, like a cross between a Vienna sausage and a prizewinning eggplant. It usually took about a week before I could move it again. Nothing I did helped.

Rainbow Chard Salad with Avocado

Serve with ripe heirloom tomatoes and fish, chicken, tofu or beans. Did you know that chard, a member of the beet family, contains more than 13 antioxidants, and one of those, syringic acid, according to recent research, is good at regulating blood sugar. Another substance in chard, betalain, helps us detox.

Don’t stint on avocados or good oils. This salad is meant to be luscious, and your body needs good fat!   

Motto Matcha Tea is the Motto, and I like it mucho!

Created by our neighbors in Boston, Motto Matcha naturally rejuvenates and refreshes your body.  … Debbie

Pepe Boca Organic Sprout Bread is a treat for your boca.

This local artisanal bakery ensures that their products are wholesome, sustainable, as well as absolutely delicious. … David

Feed your plants!

Flower growers have used blackstrap molasses (yes, we do sell this old-time remedy for iron poor blood!) 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. The organization Slow Food says that, in addition, milk is an effective fungicide and soft-bodied insecticide; critters like grasshoppers don’t have a pancreas to process the sugars, so they are driven off when milk is applied to leaves. Slow Food says to mix two cups of milk (whole) into eight cups of water and stir in ¼ cup of blackstrap molasses for the first feeding (spray on leaves or pour a cup of the mixture around the stem of each plant).  Do this once every week or two to nurture healthy communities of microbes, fungi and beneficials in compost or garden soil.

Have an unusual-looking vegetable or fruit from your garden? Bring it in and show us!

And here’s to a wonderful start to everyone’s summer. For ice cream, remember we have two wonderful companies who use no gums or stabilizers in their recipes. These old-fashioned ice creams are the real deal – from Stow, MA, Ken and Gina’s; and Tea-rrific, whose flavors each feature a different tea.

Chocolate Coconut Cream

Thanks to Lisa Feiner, our May speaker from the non-profit organization, Sharp Again Naturally, I am back to enjoying a spoonful or two of coconut oil each day.

Sharp Again Naturally’s website reminded me that “All of your cell membranes and about 60-70% of the brain and are made up of fats. Cholesterol is a very important component of the support structure of the brain and many cell functions take place within the cell membrane. Since about the 1950’s many people in this country have been using 100% vegetable oil…usually hydrogenated polyunsaturated fat…, which can carry free radicals into your cell membranes. If you begin to substitute coconut and other natural oils, such as olive oil and even butter, along with omega-3 oils you may be able to undo some of the damage.

“Most of the cells of the body turn over within 3 to 6 months and you may notice a nicer texture to your skin, and a decrease in certain problems such as yeast and fungal infections [if you incorporate some coconut

Drink your Suncreen?

Summer – everyone’s favorite season! Except those of us with fair skin… We burn, we freckle, we worry about lasting damage.

Yes, there are supplements and superfoods that can help.

First of all, let’s be clear: nothing is going to take the place of a healthy dose of avoidance. Seek shade, especially during those really fierce hours around noon. And use a good sunblock that blocks both UVA and UVB rays, made with natural ingredients that actually nourish and heal the skin.

And then, make green tea part of your daily routine.

“I can skip my morning coffee and still feel dandy without the caffeine, while enjoying the benefits of chicory and dandelion root!” – Jeff.  A treat from Dandy Blend.

“Life is like a box of chocolates- might as well switch it up and try a twist on your favorites!”  Banana Cream Dark Chocolate Coconut Butter Cup by eatingEVOLVED


Herbed Yogurt Soup with Roses

Adapted from a recipe from Food & Wine, which is one of my favorites.

This soup is another recipe that gets you in and out of the kitchen in no time. I love it with a piece of hearty bread and butter.

The addition of rose petals (I get mine from my rose bushes outside, which is easy, and I know that I don’t spray them with pesticides). If you don’t have roses in your yard, use a little rose water because it will impart some of the properties of rose – one of which is to make a happy heart. 

5-Minute Spring Fling Dinner

May is glorious, May is glorious, but juicy summer vegetables like heirloom tomatoes are not even close to  vine-ripe. And spring fever makes us frisky, doesn’t it? We’re like colts wanting to kick up our heels! I don’t know about you, but standing by the stove isn’t something I do much in May – there are seeds to plant, hikes to take, lilacs to smell.  That’s why this dish is a godsend.  It’s as fast as open one can and two jars, and mix the three together.

“Is it good for me?” calcium | multivitamins | saturated fat | coffee

1. Is coffee bad for me?

Okay, so it’s a little more complicated than yes/no. There is no convincing evidence that a reasonable amount of coffee is in any way unhealthy for the vast majority of adults. In fact, the preponderance of the evidence strongly suggests that coffee is linked to significant health benefits almost across the board.

Granted, it’s sometimes hard to tease out correlation vs. causation here. Maybe people who drink coffee are already more motivated, early risers, more likely to go to the gym, etc., etc.

We see strong evidence that coffee protects the liver in both chronic alcoholics and healthy adults. We see some evidence of cancer risk reduction (skin, liver, stomach, colon). And while we see that too much coffee may hurt blood sugar and blood pressure in the short term, longer-term consumption of more moderate amounts of coffee may actually improve both parameters.

Broken Ankle, Healing Bones

From the desk of Debra Stark

Who hasn’t broken a bone or doesn’t know someone who has?

Two days before New Year’s I was hurrying into an exercise class called Ageless Grace when I skidded on black ice and took a spectacular fall.  Four cars on Commonwealth Avenue stopped, four kind men leapt out to help me up.  I insisted I would be fine, that it was just a bad sprain. I hobbled around the rest of the day, did cooking for a New Year’s Day party with a darling daughter-in-law, and then the next day while scooting around the store on a utility cart was persuaded that the emergency room was a good idea. Both sides of my left ankle were each the size of large grapefruit. An X-ray said the ankle was fractured.

Vegan Lemon Pudding

I’m always looking for Easter and Passover desserts that are not as heavy as some, and ones that just about everyone can eat. This recipe has simple ingredients and takes about 10 minutes to make. I serve it in pretty wine glasses or custard cups with fresh berries on top.

Light Spring Miso Soup

It’s spring, and we’re trying to eat lighter to lose winter fat we’ve camouflaged under sweaters and winter coats. I always think of miso soup as a perfect way to waltz into spring.

This recipe take about 10 minutes total to make. It’s good the next day, too.

What is miso? It’s a traditional Japanese fermented food made from a paste of soybeans with a live culture known as koji, often with other ingredients. WebMD says miso “can get your digestive system moving. Probiotic-filled miso is often used to make a salty soup that’s low in calories and high in B vitamins and protective antioxidants.”

Puttanesca 3-in-1

From Adam …

The first time I made this, I knew it would become a staple in my repertoire.  For a healthy weeknight supper, it whips up in 15-20 minutes, in a single pan, using ingredients you already have.  Or, with the smallest twist, it transforms into an indulgent weekend feast.  Or switch it up once more, and it effortlessly wows the most sophisticated dinner guests.  Thus, the “3-in-1.”

My inspiration was the intense savory punch of Italian puttanesca sauce – tomatoes, olives, capers, garlic, anchovies, and chili pepper.  Here, we replace the anchovies with that underutilized health food store staple, brewer’s yeast (aka “nutritional yeast”).  And we add heft and substance, transforming the sauce into a stew.  We also leave that carb-y pasta behind. 

Royal Jelly and Aging

Debra Stark, oldie but goodie

This is foundational in my personal repertoire.

What is royal jelly?  It’s the food the nurse bees manufacture for the sole purpose of sustaining the queen bee.  It’s the superfood that keeps her healthy and allows her to live longer and be stronger.

In “Royal Jelly in Dermatological Cosmetics,” Hans Weitgasser, M.D., a German dermatologist, wrote: “Through local application as an ingredient in face masks, cream and lotions, royal jelly has tremendous effects at the cellular level.  In regular use, the skin becomes soft and wrinkles disappear.”

Natural Medicine for Focus and Attention (in children and adults)

Part 2: herbs and nutritional supplements

Natural medicine does not offer a one-size-fits-all solution for focus and attention.  We don’t have a “natural Ritalin™” that works immediately for everyone.

As the truism goes, everyone is different.  One distracted person may simply be sleep-deprived.  Another may be anxious.  A third may be dealing with a sensory-integrative disorder, or apathy, or compulsive thoughts.  Or food allergies.  Or they may be bored by the subject matter.  Or, they may actually be plain “hyperactive.”  Or all of the above.

So, as the other truism goes, we treat the individual, not the illness.  Remedies, then, can be as diverse as those individuals.  So, this topic is way bigger than the three pages it’s going to get today.  Hopefully, however, those three pages can be a start.  In no particular order… 

Who we are.

This Monday, almost two dozen members of the DNG family are scheduled to work. We’ll meet the early deliveries, open the doors, stock the shelves, chop and cook, help you find what your looking for, and show you to the door with a smile. If you’ve shopped here before, you probably recognize some of us.

Most of us are U.S. citizens by birth. But among us this Monday will be more than one immigrant, and two legal permanent residents awaiting citizenship; one of us who came to the U.S. as a child refugee; and at least one of us whose spouse holds a green card. Wherever we came from, and however we got here, we’ll spend the day together. At the end of the day, we will return to the neighborhoods we share, as each other’s neighbors and friends.

Without any one of us, we wouldn’t be the same. We couldn’t imagine it any other way.

We’ll see you Monday.

Organic Flourless Chocolate Torte

Ah, chocolate. The ancient Aztecs believed it was a source of wisdom, and an aphrodisiac. Montezuma, last ruler of the Aztec empire, drank his chocolate from a gold goblet!  Today, we buy only organic chocolate, because non-organic chocolate has more pesticides applied than any other crop except for cotton (which is number one).  And when you buy organic chocolate, you are assured that growers, pickers and producers get a fair trade wage. There’s nothing, no guilt to spoil your eating pleasure….

Natural Medicine for Focus and Attention / Part 1

These articles are for children and adults.

Part 1: lifestyle and nutrition.
Part 2 next month: herbs & vitamins

Natural medicine does not offer a one-size-fits-all quick fix for focus and attention. We don’t have a “natural Ritalin™” that works in a few minutes, for almost everyone.

As the truism goes, everyone is different. One distracted person may simply be sleep-deprived. Another may be anxious. A third may be dealing with a sensory-integrative disorder, or apathy, or compulsive thoughts. Or food allergies. Or they may be bored by the subject matter. Or, they may actually be “hyperactive.”

So, as the other truism goes, we treat the individual, not the illness.

And for this reason, it is well beyond the scope of this article to go into the level of detail we could, perhaps should. Nevertheless, here are a few suggestions to get you started.

Vegan Lemon Poppy Seed Cake

For our vegan friends. You didn’t think we were going to leave you out, did you? Yes, we made this on our cooking show, Eat Well Be Happy, so you can watch this being made. Go to our website and click on the TV icon…..

Did you know that poppy seeds have been cultivated for more than 3,000 years? They’ve always been revered for their medicinal properties (some are as an expectorant in cough syrups, an infusion to treat ear and toothaches, to treat insomnia, inflammation and fever), but the seeds have nutritional value as well since they are rich in linoleic acid, oleic acid and unsaturated fatty acids.  

Eat Well, Be Happy – Episode 318

Episode 318

with Debra Stark & Robin Johnston

  • Farro Pasta with Kale and Shrimp
  • Roasted Cauliflower, Nut Cheese and Cannellini
  • Korean Chicken Wings with Parsnips, Potatoes

Eat Well, Be Happy – Episode 317

Episode 317

with Debra Stark & Bill Graham

  • Roasted Root Vegetables
  • Wild Mushroom Barley Pilaf
  • Fennel Spinach Salad with Sumac

Raw Green Smoothie with Avocado

I know that I’ve shared this with you before, but just in case you want a smoothie that isn’t sweet, that is green and tangy, here you go. Greens alkalize the body, and this smoothie is great to correct over-indulgences….The pear is absolutely essential here because it mellows out everything else.

Absolutely, positively use organic ingredients. Organic means no pesticides or herbicides. I have yet to hear anyone say we need pesticides and herbicides for our good health….

Date, Cardamom Cacao Smoothie

Aren’t we lucky that each day, every New Year, affords us the chance to start anew? Here’s a tasty smoothie to get you back on track. Add laughter, sunlight on your face, exercise, and a good book, too.

I use my super Vitamix blender, because it easily handles ingredients that regular blenders balk at.

I’ve fallen in love with maca powder in smoothies that have ingredients like bananas and chocolate. Web MD says, “Maca is a relative of the radish and has an odor similar to butterscotch. Its root is used to make medicine.” Maca enhances energy, memory, corrects hormone imbalance & boosts immunity.

Yes, there are many foods to enjoy for breakfast, and one would think that smoothies are a no-no when it’s cold. But New Englanders eat more ice cream than any other part of the country, and eat most of that in the months of January and February. So I’m on a smoothie kick this January!

Aids to Digestion

The digestion section of a health food store can be overwhelming. Do you want digestive enzymes? What about probiotics, or herbal bitters? Hopefully, this guide will help. If you want more help, come in and talk to one of us. Either way, everything here is pretty benign and can help with everyday problems as well as those that are deeper. And even if you don’t pick the “right” one, it’ll probably do some good.

But first, a quick glance at how digestive tract works, start to finish.

In the mouth, we chew chunks of food into smaller pieces. Our saliva also contains an enzyme which begins the digestion of starches. We chew, we swallow, and food travels to the stomach.

In the stomach, churning continues to grind food into a paste. In addition, strong acid and enzymes break down protein (and kill pathogens). Only after this is complete does the stomach begin to discharge its contents. So, as you can imagine, meals with a lot of protein slow things down a bit.  Nutrients don’t absorb through the stomach – except alcohol.

Speaking of Dates, Al Ajwa Dates

We had the opportunity to taste Al Ajwa dates at a trade show some months back. We thought they were unique, and so despite the fact they are called “the world’s most expensive dates”, we bought them for you.  I have some at home and treat myself to one each day.

What makes Al Ajwa dates different? They are the lowest glycemic-index date grown, and have been proven to be effective in controlling glycemia in type-2 diabetic patients (J. Agric.Food Chem. 2013, 61, 5834-5830); and they show moderate COX-1 and -2 enzyme inhibition, similar to ibuprofen for inflammation – but taste a lot better than ibuprofen (J. Agric. Food Chem. 2013, 61, 5834-5840).  Like all dates, they are rich in potassium to help with things like blood pressure, and full of magnesium to keep bones strong and heart rhythm steady. Do they contain fiber? Lots of fiber.

What are fermented foods?

Fermented foods are foods that have been exposed to beneficial bacteria and/or yeasts, which eat up carbohydrates and produce a variety of organic acids in their place. This process results in novel flavors, a little tart, often complex and interesting.

In some fermented foods, the bacteria have already died off before we eat them. For example, chocolate and coffee. In others, the bacteria are still alive when they get to us. For example yogurt and sauerkraut. These latter are especially good for us, because some of the healthy bacteria can move into our gut and continue living there.  You’ll notice with living cultures, the flavors strengthen and deepen.

Cauliflower Steaks with Winter Green Pesto

cauliflower-steaksCauliflower is a top powerhouse vegetable, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Aggregate Nutrient Density Index (ANDI). It’s one of our favorite vegetables, too, and very “in” these days….Make sure your cauliflower, and all your other cruciferous vegetables, are organic. The pesticides and herbicides used on non-organic cruciferous vegetable aren’t used to make us healthier, are they?

Chocolate Fudge Icebox Pie

chocolate-fudge-icebox-pieThis dessert takes 5 minutes to make. It’s stunning, delicious, and you are absolutely going to want to make it for every special occasion. Ayurveda, the traditional medicine of India, states that coconut oil, is one of the easiest fats to digest, especially at times of over-indulgence such as around holidays.

Like with all recipes, make this one your own. If you want to use all walnuts in the crust, please do. If you can’t do nuts, try soy granules or bread crumbs instead. We carry the Shiloh Farms Deglet Noor dates. They are a drier date, perfect for this recipe, and the pit is easy to remove, too. Here’s an opportunity to use the psyllium husks from the Adapting the Life Changing Bread from our February 2016 newsletter.

Organic Cranberry Crunch

Oldie but goodie

This is an easy dessert to make for your holiday table! Isn’t that a relief? What’s more, this makes a terrific breakfast dish served together with yogurt, kefir or milk (of any kind).

Don’t you find that it’s dessert, the grand finale, which everyone seems to remember? When I think about my dessert table, I try and include something chocolate, something with pumpkin or yams, and an old-fashioned cobbler. Something like crisp nut cookies. And I always make sure these go on the table with green or ginger tea, and fresh pineapple or berries.

Why eat cranberries? Studies show cranberries have anticancer properties, inhibit growth of food-borne pathogens, and contain antibacterial properties to aid in the prevention of urinary tract infections. Oats, known scientifically as Avena sativa, have so many attributes we don’t have room to list them! We all know they’re chock-full of cholesterol-lowering fiber….

Natural Medicine for Inflammation

I once had a Biochemistry professor who liked to give all his students a chart that his professor had given him, probably 50 years ago. This chart, he said, summed up everything. It showed all the things that can go wrong with the human body – all the acute and chronic diseases, the age-related degeneration the aches and pains, and injuries and deaths – all with arrows pointing to and from a single word at the center: “inflammation.”

For the most part, it’s true. There are thousands of ways we can be unwell. Almost all of them involve inflammation in some way.

So what is inflammation anyways?

Inflammation is the body’s first response to injury, infection, or a perceived threat. Chemicals released by damaged cells make the blood vessels dilate, bringing more blood into the region. Immune cells are attracted out into the surrounding tissue, to do battle, clear out debris, initiate repair, and quarantine. Meanwhile, normal metabolism and transit of nutrients take a back seat to these more urgent tasks.

Eat Well, Be Happy – Episode 335

Episode 335

with Debra Stark & Robin Johnston

  • Rice Noodles with Peanut Sauce and Crunchy Veggies
  • Corn, Bean & Cauliflower Salad with Basil Pesto
  • Grilled Eggplant Slices

Eat Well, Be Happy – Episode 334

Episode 334

with Debra Stark & Roxanne Bispham

  • Squash with Pumpkinseed Oil and Goji Berries
  • Cucumber-Grapefruit Salad
  • Honey, Crème Fresh, Berries and Pistachios

Eat Well, Be Happy – Episode 333

Episode 333

with Debra Stark & Aya Alexander

  • Syrian Dilled Lamb Burgers
  • Cold Beet Borscht with Hot Potato
  • Chocolate Torte with Walnuts and Macadamias

Eat Well, Be Happy – Episode 332

Episode 332

with Debra Stark & Nathan Kartheiser

  • Grilled Shrimp Tacos
  • Chickpea and Yams with Green Tahini
  • Melon with Ginger, Lime and Black Pepper

natural-play-makeupJust in time for Halloween! Natural play makeup and face paint from Klee Kids for the trick or treaters in your life.” – Gregoria + Liz

hen-of-the-woodsThe Hen of the Woods, ‘Maitake,’ a rare woodsy treat to add flavor to your favorite stew or sauté.” – Alex

“A Fall delicacy straight from the woods.” – Charles

Eat Well, Be Happy – Episode 331

Episode 331

with Debra Stark & Robin Johnston

  • Sugar Snap Asparagus Salad with Pistachios
  • Chipotle Adobo Chicken
  • Green Potato Salad with Cilantro and Spinach

Eat Well, Be Happy – Episode 330

Episode 330

with Debra Stark & Roxanne Bispham

  • Simple Summer Tomato Salad
  • Cold Herbed Yogurt Soup with Cannellini Beans
  • Mexican Corn Cauliflower Salad

Eat Well, Be Happy – Episode 329

Episode 329

with Debra Stark & Bill Graham

  • Gujarati Cucumber and Peanut Salad
  • Coconut Scallops with Mushrooms and Greens
  • Nectarines with Berry Coulis

Roast Cauliflower with Vegan Cheese & Beans

Another recipe from our cooking show, Eat Well Be Happy. Of course you get more nutritional bang for your buck when you eat organic, and I personally won’t eat any cruciferous vegetables (the family that includes cauliflower, cabbage, broccoli, radishes, etc.) unless it’s grown organically because they are so heavily sprayed with pesticides.

Roasting cauliflower yields results that are delish. When tossed with extra virgin olive oil and spices, the florets get crispy and brown where they touch the hot roasting pan. The resulting flavor is sweet and nutty, too.

Why nutritional yeast? It’s the richest source of the B-vitamins, the nerve and stress vitamins. It helps prevent the breakdown of collagen in the skin. When combined with any nut or seed and salt, it tastes, I kid you not, just like parmesan cheese! Nutritional yeast will not feed or cause candida. No, it will not!

Don’t Get Sick!

Are you just an “average person” who doesn’t want to get sick? Here are three things you can do every day.

  1. Take NAC. NAC is short for n-acetyl cysteine. It’s a natural amino acid derivative, and one of the most versatile, good-for-you nutrients on the planet. NAC protects the liver and lungs, neutralizes toxins, repairs erosion in the GI tract, and even quells compulsive behavior by clearing excess neurotransmitters from the brain.

This is not exaggeration. Everything is supported by solid research. I take NAC daily.

NAC has also proven itself as a flu-preventer. In one study out of Italy, elderly men were given 600 mg of NAC twice a day, or placebo, over a winter season. Those who received the NAC were two-thirds less likely to report flu symptoms during the study period, even though blood tests showed they were exposed to the flu virus at the same rate.

“The only gochujang spicy sauce I’ve found that doesn’t have white sugar, that is also GMO and gluten-free. A little dollop will do you!” … Debra

Magnesium, in Sickness and in Health

This essential mineral is crucial to healthy bones. Plus it can help with leg cramps, anxiety, high blood pressure, migraines headaches, and constipation, too.

 Magnesium is one of the most common nutrient deficiencies in the modern industrialized diet. Notice I didn’t say “Western” diet. No matter what your native food culture, as soon as you start moving away from fresh and whole foods, and towards refined food products, the magnesium-rich foods are the first to fall behind: dark green veggies, nuts, seeds, whole grains, some legumes and fruits, seaweeds, and unrefined mineral-rich waters[1]. A diet survey in 2009 found that 57% of Americans failed to consume the recommended (minimum) magnesium intake of 400 mg a day.

Bibimbop, Korean Hot Pot

I always wanted to make Bibimbop at home (Korean hot pots – rice topped with a mix of pickled and cooked vegetables and usually a fried egg as well), because eating it out was always so much fun. But I wanted my own version, and one without sugar. Below is what we did for our cooking show, Eat Well Be Happy, which we all loved. This Bibimbop is vegetarian, and, yes, we did use the dolsot pots from Crazy Korean Living (yep, we’ve got them in the store; they’re lead and cadmium-free, non-porous and good for so many other dishes as well), but you can, of course, use your own individual serving bowls.