Get your probiotic on with DIY sauerkraut!

One of my favourite times of the week is visiting the Evergreen Brickworks Farmers’ Market on Saturday mornings with my friend Emily S.  It’s so fun, I can’t handle it!  We move from vendor to vendor picking up most of our weekly fresh produce and sampling the goodies on display.  This past week, I walked past the Pyramid Farm & Ferments table and sampled some dill and garlic sauerkraut.

Pyramid

Woah.  It was mind-blowing.  Delicious.

Mind Blowing

The only sauerkraut I had ever had up to this weekend was from a jar of Bicks and the taste doesn’t even come close to Pyramid Farms & Ferments.  Sauerkraut is made when shredded cabbage is massaged so that some of the juices come out of the shreds.  The shredded cabbage bits and the water that is pulled out via massaging is then stored in a container where it’s left to ferment.  The benefit of fermentation is that it makes nutrients more bioavailable.  Cabbage is high in Vitamin K, C, and Folate which become even more available to us once fermented.

Cabbage

Fermentation works when naturally occurring lactobacilli bacteria digest the sugar in cabbage which creates lactic acid.  The presence of the lactic acid makes the environment (ie: shredded cabbage sitting in a mason jar) too acidic so that it’s impossible for “bad” bacteria to overgrow and therefore the food doesn’t rot.  So you end up getting a lot of “good” lactobacilli bacteria without dealing with the pathogens that often result from spoiled food.

sauerkraut fermentation

What makes Pyramid Farms’ sauerkraut different is that not only is it fermented (like all store-bought versions) but it’s also unpasteurized which means that the lactobacilli bacteria, a strain of probiotic, are able to survive.  Having a gut that is populated with a healthy amount of probiotics  supports the health of our intestines and GI tract, improve digestion, and boosts the immune system.  Eating unpasteurized sauerkraut means that you’ll be getting a truckload of Vitamin C, K, Folate as well as a LOT of probiotics (30 x what you would get in a serving of yogurt!), fiber, and next to zero calories.

word_amazing

You can actually make sauerkraut at home, and yesterday, that’s exactly what Emily S and I did.  Check out this site by Fermentation Fanatic Mr. Sandor Katz and become a sauerkraut makin’ yahoo with a strong immune system, vitamin infused body, and enviable digestive system.

Toronto-20131022-00659

THE DAILY DL (Dalai Lama)

“Fermentation is the exhalation of a substance through the admixture of a ferment which, by virtue of its spirit, penetrates the mass and transforms it into its own nature.”

– Andreas Libavius

A DIY Pumpkin Spice Latte you can get behind…

I love a good Starbucks Pumpkin Spice latte, which to me, signifies the beginning of fall and the transition of seasons.  The warm, deep, and delicious blend of fall inspired spices melts perfectly into piping hot milk and a shot of good old espresso.  A tall pumpkin spice latte from Starbucks comes in at 210 calories and 8 grams of fat…and the espresso, while nice, causes a surge and then drop in blood glucose levels which can leave us feeling hypoglycemic and crabby.

PSL

Since I love the taste of this drink so much, I wanted to figure out how to make it at home with more nutritious ingredients and less caffeine.  Today, I think I got it right and wanted to share the recipe with you – this recipe has an estimated 84 calories, less than a gram of fat and all the Vitamin A you need for the day.

DIY PSL

1 cup unsweetened almond milk

3 tbsp pumpkin puree (not pie filling!)

1 heaping tbsp decaffeinated instant coffee

1 tbsp raw honey

1.5 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp all spice

1/4 tsp nutmeg

Instructions:  heat the almond milk in a small pot until boiling.  Throw in the instant coffee and honey until dissolved.  Throw the almond mix mixture into a blender along with the spices and vanilla and pumpkin puree.  Pulse a few times until well combined.  Serve!

THE DAILY DL (Dalai Lama)

“Pumpkin Spice Lattes are to college girls; what mini-shooters of whiskey are to alcoholics.”

–  Author Unknown

 

Why you shouldn’t have beef with dark chicken meat in 100 words

When I was growing up, and actually until about a year ago I always though dark poultry was “bad” for me because of the higher fat content.  During a course on sports nutrition, my teacher Dr. Daniel Watters (ND) totally blew my mind when he asked us to consider the importance of what the tissue we’re consuming is used for in the originating animal.

Dark vs. white chicken meat

In the case of chicken thighs vs. chicken breast for example, the thighs are a powerhouse of movement for the chicken and are very much full of muscle tissue.  So, imagine how a chicken moves and functions – the legs move around, but what about the breasts?  Not a whole lot of action going on with a chicken’s breast since they don’t actually fly.

Chicken

 

Chicken thighs are packed with much more myoglobin as compared to the breast and myoglobin contains a lot of iron which is excellent for the all you lady readers.  Dark meat also tends to have more zinc, B1, B2, B6, and B12 (important for you immune system, adapting to the environment, mood, prevention of migraine headaches and the list could literally go on for days).  Dark poultry meat has roughly 3 x more fat than its white counterpart but 2/3rd of that fat is unsaturated which isn’t bad for you in moderation.  Feeling peckish?  Try out this recipe adapted from The Looneyspoons Collection.

Amazingly Saucy Chicken Thighs

12 boneless skinless chicken thighs (try to get organic free range if possible)

1/2 cup finely chopped onion

2 cloves garlic, minced

2/3rd cup all natural grape jelly

1/2 cup of organic all natural ketchup

1 1/4 tsp dry mustard powder

Pepper

Preheat oven to 400.  In a small saucepan, combine all ingredients except for chicken and bring to a boil.  Jelly will melt.  Lay the thighs out in a 9 x 13 baking dish and pour sauce overtop the thighs.  Turn and coat well.  Place in oven for 45 minutes.  Serve with 1 cup of broccoli on the side and you’ve got yourself a dinner to remember.

THE DAILY DL (Dalai Lama)

“We all like chicken” 

–  Malcolm X (The Autobiography of Malcolm X)

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Because sometimes laughter is the best medicine…

A while ago, I discovered that there is a little known vitamin that we can’t live without – Vitamin L (check out this prior post) where the “L” stands for love.

love-vitamin01

It’s true, without love from our partners, family, friends, pets, neighbours, and community…where would we be?

Note:  I am not normally a fan of self-portraits but this one couldn't be helped.

Note: I am not normally a fan of self-portraits but this one couldn’t be helped.

But there is another Vitamin “L” on the block and I think it’s just as essential as Love and it’s called Vitamin L(aughter).  Call me a cheese ball if you want (I’ve been called worse) but there’s something to laughing that makes us feel awesome.

cheeseballAt a very basic level, laughter helps to relieve stress and since stress lowers the immune system – I would consider laughter and immune booster.  There is a whole field of medicine called psychoneuroimmunology (PNI) which looks at the relationship between the way we think, and the way our body responds.  Research on this topic has exploded as scientists look to better understand the connection between our nervous system and the ways in which we deal with stress and our immune system – the findings thus far have been pretty extraordinary.

PNI

There was an interesting experiment conducted by scientists at the Rochester University Medical School in which rats were given a sweet drink of water at the same time as an injection of a drug that lowered the response of their immune system.  As expected, the immune system function of the rats decreased.  However, when the rats were then given just the sweet drink, their immune system was compromised which can be explained by the fact there was a learned and conditioned response that caused the immune system to react in a certain way.  What is fascinating about this is that it shows that thoughts and beliefs can actually change the way our immune system responds for better or worse.

PNI Experiment

This brings me back to Vitamin Laughter – lets’ call it Vitamin L2.  If we know that stress reduces our immune function and that laughter decreases stress…wouldn’t Vitamin L2 help prevent immune system lowering in times of stress?  I’m not a scientist, but in my own (albeit poorly designed study) Vitamin L2 makes me feel better in times of stress.  Why not self-prescribe Vitamin L2 each day?

Laughter

Vitamin L2 also apparently helps to increase blood flow and improves relaxation and sleep.  With that in mind, here are some tidbits that no matter how many times I’ve seen them…always provide much-needed Vitamin L2.

THE DAILY DL (Dalai Lama)

“Laugh.  Laugh as much as you can.  Laugh until you cry.  Cry until you laugh.  Keep doing it even if people are passing you on the street saying, “I can’t tell if that person is laughing or crying, but either way they seem crazy, let’s walk faster.”  Emote.  It’s okay.  It shows you are thinking and feeling.”

– Ellen Degeneres

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Time for a new Canada Food Guide? A focus on dairy…

I’m not sure I totally understand why dairy is a designated food group for many national food guides – including The Canada Food Guide.  Before starting my job as a Nutritionist with the Toronto District School Board, I read through the Eating Well With Canada’s Food Guide: A Resource For Educators and Communicators several times (check it out yourself by clicking here), and the case for consuming dairy is made with respect to obtaining important nutrients like Calcium, Vitamin A, D, B12, Vitamin B1, Zinc, and Magnesium.  The aforementioned nutrients, according to the educators guide, are important for the development and maintenance of healthy bones and teeth but also for the prevention of the osteoporosis.

Dairy

The Canada Food Guide states that people should drink 500 ml (2 cups of milk) everyday to ensure that adequate amounts of Vitamin D are obtained.  So, it is very true that consuming milk and other dairy products will provide several important nutrients, however, I don’t believe that the whole dairy store is being told.  The argument surrounding the legitimacy of dairy as an actual food group can be broken down into three main areas; immediate and long-term health consequences, nutrient density, and industry lobbying.

It is estimated that 7.5% of infants have a true allergy to dairy and by true allergy, I mean that there is an immune response to one of the over 25 proteins contained in cow’s milk.  A true allergy is indicated by the presence of an antibody (IgE) which will be detected upon high quality allergy tests such as the ELISA test.

antibody

The symptomatic response can be immediate and take place within minutes or delayed where a person will experience symptoms up to 24 hours after eating the food.  Common symptoms to dairy allergy include:

Skin: Itchy, Red Rash; Eczema; Hives; Black Eyes, Canker Sores, Swelling of the Lips, Mouth, Tongue, Face, or Throat.

Digestive: Abdominal Pain; Abdominal Cramps; Abdominal Bloating; Diarrhea; Gas; Nausea; Vomiting.

Respiratory: Runny Nose / Congestion; Sneezing; Watery Eyes; Itchy Eyes; Coughing; Wheezing; Shortness of Breath; Recurrent “colds”; Sinusitis

But where this gets interesting is that while 7.5% of infants are allergic to cow milk, many of them will “outgrow” the allergy, however, it is estimated that 1 in 6 of us have a dairy intolerance and that 70% of the world’s population will become lactase deficient in adulthood.  This means that there is no antibody, however, we have a problem breaking down the dairy due to an insufficient amount of the enzyme Lactase.

Food Intolerance Symptoms

If you experience abdominal pains, cramps, bloating, flatulence, diarrhea, or nausea after consuming dairy products, you might be intolerant.  When food that we are intolerant to is repeatedly consumed it causes poor digestion overall and inadequate breakdown of other proteins consumed as well as a poor balance of good vs. bad bacteria in our intestines.  This may then cause our intestines to become more permeable and allows undigested proteins (diary or otherwise) to enter the blood stream where they are recognized as pathogens.  The result is an immune response which may lead to localized or system wide inflammation and is indicated in the progression of conditions such as; colitis, crohns, frequent colds, rheumatoid arthritis, joint pain, rashes, poor memory, seasonal allergies, chemical intolerance, fevers, intestinal infections, pancreatic insufficiency, eczema, dry skin, and childhood hyperactivity to name a few.

Experts agree that the number one allergy and food intolerance is diary.  But without dairy, we can’t get enough calcium so let’s leave it on the Canada Food Guide.  Not quite.

Bush

To say that we need calcium for strong and healthy bones and teeth is true.  But it’s only part of the story.  Calcium works synergistically with other minerals such as Potassium, Magnesium, Vitamin K, and Vitamin D.  The overemphasis of calcium without touching upon the other nutrients that are needed to make calcium work effectively is curious.

osteoporosis

Women are encouraged to consume lots of calcium to prevent the development of osteoporosis but this is a bit of a band-aid solution because until the dietary factors that are causing calcium to be leached from the bones is corrected, we’ll always be playing catchup.  For instance, foods that increase calcium loss should be considered (coffee, tea, pop, chocolate, sugar, grains) as well as items high in phosphorus (meat, grains, pop) since it binds to calcium and can leach Ca from bones.  We may significantly increase calcium stores by looking at smoking, alcohol intake, and GI issues that are preventing optimal nutrient absorption.  Interestingly drinking milk can actually cause calcium deficiency when there isn’t enough lactase to break it down.  The fermentation that occurs in the intestine when we’re lactase deficient causes a build up of lactic acid that subsequently binds to Calcium and Magnesium which means that the calcium can’t be used for building bones.

Countries with the highest consumption of dairy also have the highest rates of osteoporosis.

foods with calcium

And what about nutrient density?  I would argue that you can get all the calcium you need through eating a well-balanced diet that is high in greens and nuts.  The Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for adults aged 19-50 is 1000 mg’s a day.  While one cup of cow’s milk contains 288 mg’s of calcium, a cup of soybeans contains 460 mg’s.  And if you were to have a salad including 1/2 cup of swiss chard, 1/2 cup of collard greens, and 1/2 cup of kale you’re at 174 mg’s – and think about all the other hugely important nutrients you’re getting from that salad…B Vitamins, Magnesium, Vitamin K, etc.  Check out this handout on sources of calcium and here is another one from Dietitian Leslie Beck from The Globe and Mail.

Canadian Milk

With regards to industry lobbying, it is prudent to recognize that the Canada Food Guide and it’s recommendations have an enormous consequence of the various agricultural sectors.  The food industry in Canada is a 100 billion dollar (per year) industry and you can imagine the result of suggesting that Canadians perhaps do not need to consume 2 servings dairy each day.  The most recent version of the CFG was created with the advice and suggestions of a 12 person advisory board which included; dietitians and academics as well as the nutrition education manager with the BC Dairy Foundation, the head of a group representing 85,000 oilseed growers, oilseed processors and makers of oilseed-based food products, and the director, scientific and regulatory affairs at the Food and Consumer Products Manufacturers of Canada.  These industries have absolutely no interest in the protection and promotion of health – their primary goal is to enhance the legitimacy of their product and to drive sales.  Other main objective is to of course, protect the jobs of those who work in their prospective industry.

I strongly believe that public health education campaigns should be created and communicated by groups with absolutely zero interest in the manufacturing and sale of any particular product or service.  It would seem to be in the real public interest to have a food guide created entirely with the influence of scientific research and a deep understanding of food-related behaviour patterns.

1353-big

The 2003 WHO report “Diet, Nutrition, and the Prevention of Chronic Disease” is an extensive body of research surround the cause of the alarmingly high rate of chronic disease we are seeing worldwide.  In the report, there were certain foods that were found to have a preventative effect on health, meaning, they help prevent the development of diet and lifestyle related diseases and obesity.  The preventative foods listed include fruits, vegetables, , whole grain cereals, non-starch polysaccharides, legumes, fish, fish oils, unsalted nuts, and water.  Eating these foods help to reduce incidences of cancer, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, diabetes, and obesity.  There was no mention of dairy.

Come back soon for more on ways you can tweak The Canada Food Guide to make it work effectively for you.

THE DAILY DL (Dalai Lama)

“History shows that where ethics and economics come in conflict, victory is  always with economics. Vested interests have never been known to have willingly  divested themselves unless there was sufficient force to compel them.”

– B.R. Ambedkar

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Weekly Recipe Roundup: Spring Breakfast Smoothie, Slow Cooker Veggie Casserole, and Fruity Cookies

It’s been a while, thanks for sticking with me. The past few months have been busier than usual over here at The Health Junction while I finish up with school (send me good vibes on April 19th when I write my final board exam), starting my dream job working at Glycemic Index Laboratories, and switching to teaching nutrition and cooking at a new school where I’ll be continuing my work with middle school kids.

When I get super busy, it becomes easy to stop eating well by grabbing food on-the-go or resorting to relatively processed choices.  I never feel good when I don’t infuse my diet with healthy ingredients so during particularly hectic periods my I like to focus on recipes that:

  • don’t require more than 15-20 minutes prep time
  • make a lot and freeze well for storing away some leftovers
  • have diversity; I want to get as many nutrients as possible
  • taste good
  • are focused on lean, quality, non-animal protein sources
  • are low in dairy content

The following recipes satisfied the above criteria and I hope that you’ll enjoy them during busy times as much as I did.  Enjoy!

Spring Breakfast Smoothie

Spring Breakfast Smoothie  (serves 2)

  • 1 banana
  • 1 cup any type of berry
  • 1/2 cup carrot
  • 2 cups any type of leafy green.  If you are new to adding greens to your smoothie, start with a standard red leaf or romaine lettuce.
  • 1 scoop of protein powder (I like Vega Energizing Smoothie…the tropical mango, vanilla-almond, berry, or choc-a-lot flavours are nice)
  • 2-3 tbsp oats
  • 1.5 cups almond milk (or rice, or soy)
  • 1.5 cup water

Blend to your heart’s content.  Sip.  Enjoy knowing this breakfast is literally chalked full of Vitamin A, B6, B12, Folate, C, Magnesium, Potassium, Flavonoids, and Fiber.  The oats add a complex carbohydrate for increased energy and balances blood sugar.  Finally, the protein powder is totally vegan, has 10 grams of protein, 5 grams of fiber, and just enough calories to keep you going without feeling bloated or full.

vegetable_casserole

Vegetable Slow Cooker Casserole

  • 2  19-oz. cans cannellini beans
  • 1  19-oz. can garbanzo or fava beans
  • 1/4  cup purchased basil pesto
  • 1  medium onion, chopped
  • 4  cloves garlic, minced
  • 1-1/2  tsp. dried Italian seasoning, crushed
  • 1  16-oz. pkg. refrigerated cooked plain polenta cut in 1/2-inch-thick slices (looks like a tube…found in the international isle or  near the pasta section in your grocery store)
  • 1  large tomato, thinly sliced
  • 1  8-oz. pkg. finely shredded Italian cheese blend (2 cups)
  • 2  cups fresh spinach
  • 1  cup torn radicchio

Rinse and drain beans.  In large bowl combine beans, 2 tablespoons of pesto, onion, garlic, and Italian seasoning.  In 4- to 5-quart slow cooker layer half of bean mixture, half of polenta, and half of cheese. Add remaining beans and polenta.  Cover; cook on low heat setting for 4 to 6 hours (or on high heat setting 2 to 2-1/2 hours).  Add tomato, remaining cheese, spinach, and radicchio.  Combine remaining pesto and 1 tablespoon water. Drizzle pesto mixture on casserole.  Let stand, uncovered, 5 minutes.

Fruity Chocolate Chip Cookies

Fruity Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • 2 cups oats (I use old-fashioned rolled oats)
  • 1 1/4 cup flour (whole wheat or brown rice work nice)
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup dried fruit (I like strawberries, cherries, raisins, apricots, cranberries or apple)
  • 3/4 cup milled flax seeds
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 large bananas, mashed
  • 3/4 cup honey (I only use 1/2 cup)
  • 1/2 cup coconut butter/oil (mash it well before adding it to recipe)
Pre-heat oven to 350.  Add all the dry ingredients up to an including the salt in a bowl.  Mix well.  Add the bananas, honey, and coconut butter in another bowl…mix well.  Combine wet ingredients into the dry ingredients…and mix well.  I use the kitchenaide mixer for a few minutes to make sure it’s well combined.  Drop cookies 1 tbsp at a time onto a cookie sheet…cook 10 minutes or until brown.

THE DAILY DL (Dalai Lama)

“I don’t like food that’s too carefully arranged; it makes me think that the chef  is spending too much time arranging and not enough time cooking. If I wanted a  picture I’d buy a painting.”
– Andy Rooney

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Green Smoothies 101 in 100 Words: A Veggietastic Breakfast Solution

What is the most important thing I’ve learned at school over the past 12 months?

what did you learn today

Drink more water and eat more greens.  Okay, that is technically two but lucky for you they’re both included in this next nutritional recommendation.  If you’re interested in learning about the benefits of adequate water consumption, click here and for information on why leafy greens are important, this will help explain things.

Green Smoothie

Green smoothies are the easiest way I can think of to get a huge dose of vegetables into your diet.  When starting your day of with one of these diddy’s you’re paving the way towards a full day of health eating.  The sugar content is extremely low because the only sweet ingredient included is fruit which is naturally occurring.  With a dash of complex carbohydrates and a whole lot of fiber, green smoothies will help stabilize your blood sugar levels and prevent ravenous cravings later in the day.  Green smoothies are alkanalizing and are busting with vitamins and minerals.  Here is a recipe to get you started but the beauty of green smoothies is that the combinations are endless…as are the health benefits.

The Health Junction Green Combustion

  • 2-3 cups of leafy greens.  I like mixing red leaf lettuce and kale.
  • handful of frozen blueberries
  • half a banana
  • stalk of celery
  • 1/4th avocado
  • 1 scoop of vega energizing smoothie powder (I like the Choc-a-Lot Flavour)
  • 2 tbsp oats
  • 1 cup of unsweetened almond milk + 1 cup of water
  • Cinnamon (optional)
  • A couple of tbsp’s of hemp, flax, or chia seeds (optional)

Throw ingredients in the blender – it’s best to layer the denser foods (frozen blueberries, celery) on the bottom and the lighter ingredients on the top.  Pour in water and almond milk last.  I usually start blending on the ice crushing setting of my blender but do whatever works best with your home blender.

Pour into a large glass and sprinkle with some cinnamon.  This contains 7-8 servings of fruits and vegetables!

THE DAILY DL (Dalai Lama)

 “Each of us has two “doctors”—the left and the right leg.”

– Vilcabamban philosophy on the importance of walking

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Got the Flu? Feeling Sick? Think twice before you reach for Orange Juice.

It’s pretty common practice to drink Orange Juice when feeling a little under the weather, right?

OJ

Vitamin C is a strong antioxidant, increases iron absorption, and is well-regarded for its role in supporting and protecting the immune system.  There are countless foods that are chalked full of Vitamin C (check here for a comprehensive list) and it’s true that Orange Juice is high up on the chart – so why should OJ actually be avoided when sick?

Sick Young Woman Lying in Bed

Vitamin C is absorbed into the blood stream via a receptor called GLUT-1 which is also a major receptor for glucose (sugar).  Since Orange Juice is quite high in sugar when you drink a glass of OJ, both the sugar and Vitamin C end up competing to be taken into the blood stream via the GLUT-1 receptor and therefore less will be received.  By removing the fiber from fruit, the sugar is quickly absorbed and causes the absorption of Vitamin C to be compromised.

Vitamin C Fruits

With the fiber in tact, the sugar absorption will be slow and steady making room for more Vitamin C to find its way into your blood stream through the GLUT-1 receptor.  If you’re looking to increase your intake of Vitamin C, try going for whole food based choices like bell peppers, kiwis, broccoli, strawberries, papaya, kale, cantaloupe, pineapple, and of course…oranges!

THE DAILY DL (Dalai Lama)

“A man too busy to take care of his health is like a mechanic too busy to take care of his tools.” 

– Spanish Proverb

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Getting Jiggy With Kale

Kale is delightful.  Its deep, dark, and earthy green colour is complemented by varying textures.  The stems are strong and as the leaves move outwards they turn from supportive and firm to curly and playful.  Just as versatile as its colour and texture is the taste of kale which ranges from bitter and tart when prepared raw to subtle and gentle when steamed.

Before I started studying nutrition I always though kale was an exotic intangible vegetable that only hippies ate.  I’ve come to realise it’s really a vegetable for the masses because there isn’t one of us out there that wouldn’t benefit from a serving or two of kale each day.

AA051054

I’m not kidding around about kale.  These days, I eat two cups of this beautiful leafy green most days of the week.  What’s the big deal?  The nutritional profile of kale is quite remarkable:

kale

NOTE: try steaming your kale instead of boiling it to retain more nutrients

  • 1 cup of kale will give you over 1300% percent of your daily Vitamin K requirements.  Vitamin K is involved in blood clotting and helps protect against post-menopausal bone deterioration.
  • 1 cup of kale has over 350% of your daily Vitamin A requirements.  Vitamin A is needed for healthy eyes, reduces inflammation, boosts the immune system, and is necessary for your cells to grow in a healthy and productive manner.
  • Kale has a compound called glucosinolates which forms isothiocyanates (ICTs).  The presence of ICTs has been linked to a reduction in risk for 5 types of cancers; ovarian, prostate, colon, breast, and bladder.
  • Kale has 45 different kinds of flavanoids.  Check out this past post for the benefits of flavanoids.
  • 1 cup of kale also provides 88% of your daily Vitamin C requirements.  So, in one cup of kale you have basically done all the work you need to get your Vitamin C, K, and A.

You’re impressed, admit it.

How can you invite kale into your home?  If you’re a morning smoothie person, why not throw in a cup of kale?  For lunch, a  side salad with a couple of cups of lightly steamed kale mixed with other veggies and tasty dressing might be nice.  It’s possible to steam kale, puree it, and then add it into pasta sauces, chili’s or other casserole type dishes (even Mac and Cheese for the mums out there reading).

Here are a couple of delicious recipes to get your started from a book called “The Book of Kale” by Sharon Hana which was kindly lent to me by my classmate Lisa V.  Enjoy!

Savoury Kale & Pumpkin Scones

Kale Scones

Ingredients:  2 cups kale leaves, loosely packed 2 cups unbleached flour 1/2 tsp salt 1 tsp baking soda 1/2 tsp baking powder 1 tbsp sugar 1/3 cup cold butter 1 egg 3/4 cup buttermilk 1/4 cup cooked squash or pumpkin in small dice 3/4 cup cheddar cheese, grated

Instructions: Preheat oven to 375°F. Set oven rack in the middle.  Steam kale for a minute and then chop finely – try to squeeze out as much water as possible.  Blend flour, salt, soda, baking powder and sugar together. Cut in the butter with a pastry blender or your fingers.  In a small bowl, beat the egg, then add the buttermilk, continuing to beat until well combined. Add egg/buttermilk mixture, along with squash, kale and cheese to dry ingredients, mixing with a fork just enough to combine.  Drop by spoonfuls onto parchment-paper-covered cookie sheet. Bake about 20 minutes until lightly browned.
Kale Cottage Cheese Muffins
Kale Cottage Cheese Muffins

Ingredients:  2 eggs, 1 cup low fat cottage cheese, 2 tsp dried dillweed, 3 Tbsp minced onion or chives, 3 cups kale leaves, loosely packed, 1 ½ cups flour (I used quinoa flour), 1 tsp baking powder, ½ tsp sea salt.

Instructions:  In a medium bowl, beat eggs until frothy. Add cottage cheese, dillweed, and onion, mixing only to combine.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.  Place kale in a food processor. Pulse a few times until finely chopped. Squeeze excess moisture from the kale and add to cheese mixture.  In a medium bowl, sift flour, baking powder and salt. Add wet mixture to dry ingredients and stir only enough to blend – a few lumps are acceptable.  Spoon mixture into greased non-stick muffin pan.  Bake about 20 minutes or until tops are lightly browned.  Makes 12 muffins.

 

Breakfast Kale Okonomiyaki

Food52

Ingredients:  1 large egg, 1/3 cups water, pinch of salt, dash of tamari, 2 tbsp flour (I used brown rice flour), 1/4 tsp baking powder, black pepper, heaping cup of kale, 1/2 cup bell peppers, 2 tsp olive oil.

Instructions:  Beat eggs and water and then add salt, tamari, flour, baking powder and black pepper.  Toss in kale and bell peppers and coat.  Heat skillet at medium heat and add the olive oil.  Pour in mixture make a flat circle.  Cook for 4 minutes on each side.  You may want to cover the skillet for the last few minutes if you like your peppers soft.  Serves 1.

THE DAILY DL (Dalai Lama)

 “He that takes medicine and neglects diet wastes the skills of the physician.”

– Chinese proverb

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Can I overdose on vitamins?

Is there any harm in going to town with vitamin and mineral supplements?

Supplement Overload

The long of the short is yes.  Before you waste money and potentially harm yourself, it would be prudent to ask yourself the following questions:

1.)  Do I need to be taking this supplement?

2.)  How much should I take?

3.)  Is it possible for me to avoid a supplementation and get what I want through food?

So, do you need to be taking a supplement?  I will throw that question back at you.  Why are you interested in supplementation?  Sure, there are some great vitamins and minerals that are useful to take daily for prevention of illness.  For example, Vitamin C and Zinc in the winter are excellent at supporting the immune system.  Omega-3 Fish Oil is helpful for those who want to work on supporting cognitive function, healthy skin and nails, and even low mood.

Dr. Oz

Oh No You Didn’t!

But then we get to all kinds of weird supplements that people are taking because of segments viewed on the Dr. Oz Show.  Raspberry Ketones, Blueberry Supplements, and Forskolin for example.  You may want to do some research on what exactly these supplements are indicated for and re-evaluate accordingly.  I’m a big fan of finding scholarly journals to see if the research backs the use of supplementing with a specific nutrient.  Dr. Oz Dr. said Forskolin “explodes” fat right out of fat cells and assists with weight loss” but I have never heard of a supplement that is better for weight loss than activity.  You get the gist.

Multi V

This leads me to Multivitamins.  I’m not a huge fan for a few reasons.  First off, why take a slew of vitamins and minerals that you may or may not need in doses that may or may not be enough for what you?  Secondly, while many nutrients work synergistically, others compete thereby reducing the overall effectiveness of certain compounds.  Thirdly, I believe that many people will make less of an effort to prepare and eat healthy whole foods when they have a multivitamin crutch in their back pocket.

Okay, so now we have narrowed down our list of supplements to those we really need.  The Canadian Government has a handy little chart available online that details how much of each nutrient you should be consuming each day.  You will notice that each nutrient has three columns; EAR, RDA/AI, and UL.

EAR is the amount that would satisfy the needs of 50% of the population.  Don’t pay too much attention to this number.

RDA/AI is the Recommended Daily Allowance and is the number you should be aiming for.

UL just means Upper Limit.  Don’t go above this number without consulting with a health care practitioner.

I remember not feeling well once upon a time after taking a bunch of Vitamin B Complex…my fingers and arms felt like there were electrical currents running through them and it was not pleasant.  It’s best to stay below the UL if you want to avoid potential dangerous side effects.

Pay special attention to Vitamins A, D, E, and K as these are fat soluble and can be stored in your body.  Taking too much of any particular fat soluble vitamin can be toxic.  To find out how much of a specific supplement you should be taking for prevention or therapeutic treatment of a condition, check with your Naturopathic Doctor or Nutritionist.

Food vs. Supplement

Can you get the nutrients required for optimal health through your food?  I would argue it is definitely more advantageous to try through food first but perhaps this is not realistic for certain populations and some conditions where nutrients are being taken therapeutically.  For example, most vegetarian (women) need iron, folate, and B12 supplementation.  People who work with kids and thereby require a super strong immune system might want to consider Vitamin C and Zinc supplementation but that’s not to say you can’t get it from food.  You certainly can.

Health Challenge

Here is a challenge for you.  Check out how much calcium you should be consuming each day and see if you can get to your RDA before the end of the day (here is the clincher) without the use of dairy.  Email me if you achieve this totally doable goal and let me know how you did it:  thehealthjunction@mail.com

THE DAILY DL (Dalai Lama)

““My grandmother started walking five miles a day when she was sixty. She’s ninety-seven now, and we don’t know where the heck she is.” 

– Ellen DeGeneres

**DISCLAIMER:  PLEASE NOTE THAT ANY ADVERTISEMENTS THAT APPEAR ON THIS PAGE DO NOT REFLECT THE VIEWS AND OPINIONS OF THE HEALTH JUNCTION**

***follow The Health Junction by entering your email here in the “Follow Blog via Email” box***