Recipe: Springtime Vegetable Bowl

Ah, spring!

Time to spring clean our homes and our bodies too.  Things move faster in the spring, and our bodies want to move faster too.  To enable this, lightening up the diet and including more veggies is the perfect way.

Since this is considered seasonal cooking, you can find any of these food (in the northern hemisphere) at the farmer’s market or organic section of your grocery store this time of year.

For those of you with food allergies, no worries.  Just eliminate what you’re allergic to (for example, eggs, nuts, grains, etc.)  The recipe will still work! 

Ingredients:

1 cup brown / wild rice of quinoa

2-3 cups bone broth

4 medium-sized carrots

2 cups crimini mushrooms

1 large bunch of arugula

olive oil

red wine vinegar

2 free-range eggs

1/4 cup pecans

butter

sea salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 425.

Prepare rice / quinoa according to its directions:  making it with 1 tsp of sea salt and using bone broth instead of water.

Cut carrots into 1/2″ thick rounds.  Slice mushrooms in half.  Toss in 1 T oil, and pinches of salt and pepper.  Arrange on a baking sheet and roast for 15 minutes, stirring halfway through the cooking time.

Wash arugula and dry thoroughly.  Chop or tear into bite-sized pieces.

Roughly chop pecans.

Toss arugula, pecans, 2 T olive oil, 1 T vinegar, and pinches of salt and pepper to taste together in a bowl.

Bring a sautee pan to medium high heat.  Add 1 T butter to the pan when it gets hot.  Crack eggs into the pan, reduce heat to medium, and cook until desired doneness.  Season with salt and pepper.

Add a scoop of rice/quinoa to your bowl.  Top with roasted carrots and mushrooms.  Add arugula and pecan salad.  Drizzle with more olive oil and vinegar if desired.  Add a fried egg on top.

Enjoy!

What Your Sweet Cravings Are Telling You

When you’re craving sugary snacks, it’s possibly a signal from your body that it’s deficient in some nutrient, and oftentimes, our brains turn towards sugary things to satisfy that physical need.  NOTE:  The physical needs often feel emotional in nature.  That’s just how our brains interpret things.

CHROMIUM

If you’re diabetic (type II), you’re probably deficient at some level in chromium.  Signs of chromium deficiency include glucose intolerance, high blood sugars, peripheral neuropathy (tingling or numbness in the fingers or toes), and mental confusion.

Good sources of chromium include sea vegetables (try seaweed chips if you haven’t already!), mushrooms, beets, nutritional yeast (you can sprinkle this on popcorn – delicious!), broccoli, grapes, dried beans, liver, and chicken.

PHOSPHORUS

Signs of phosphorus deficiency may include anxiety, irregular breathing, fatigue, joint stiffness, numbness, osteoporosis (calcium deficiency) and changes in weight.  Excess phosphorus in the form of phosphoric acid from drinking soda can lead to craving sugar and alcohol as well.  Both excess and deficiency of phosphorus inhibits absorption and use of calcium in your body.

Good sources of phosphorus include chicken, beef, liver, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy, nuts, legumes, and whole grains.

SULFUR

Signs of sulfur deficiency include obesity, muscle pain and inflammation, fungal and bacterial infections, and heart disease and other forms of muscle wasting like Chron’s disease.

Good sources of sulfur include dark leafy greens like broccoli and kale, garlic, eggs, onions, meats, nuts, and seafood. 

In theory, most reasonably healthy diets should contain enough sulfur, as we only need very small amounts, but sulfur is lost when foods are broken down and then reassembled, as they are with processed foods.  Also the loss of minerals in our soil, as a result of “modern” farming practices, has led to less available minerals – including sulfur – in our foods.

If you’re craving sugar, what you need is a balanced diet of many types of vegetables, whole grains, and animal proteins and fats.  Today’s sugar craving is rooted in yesterday’s candy bar. 

In a pinch, when I crave sweets, I like to eat plain, whole-fat yogurt; roasted sweet potatoes; or sprouted grain toast topped with grass-fed butter and almond butter. For a quick, short-term solution, this has worked for me.

Also, gymnema, an Ayurvedic herb, is known to reduce cravings for sugar.  If you hold the herb in your mouth for 1 minute, then try to eat something sweet, it will actually taste like cardboard.  Something fun to try if you get bored. 

Have you found something that works for nipping a sugar craving in the bud?  Please let me know in the comments!  

Easy Winter Dish

 

My 3 philosophies for cooking are (in order of priority):

  1. EASY – If it’s hard to make, I ain’t makin’ it.
  2. DELICIOUS – If you don’t like veggies, maybe… it’s because you’re not cooking them right.  Even healthy food should taste good.  Which brings me to the last point –
  3. HEALTHY – Seasonal and organic veggies.  Organic, free-range and local meats.  Healthy fats.  Low carb.  No sugars or refined grains.  You’ll probably never see a vegan recipe on my site, not because I’m opposed to eating vegan meals, but because … butter…

Here’s a perfect winter recipe to try.  It’s a one-sheet pan dish and will warm up your house nicely too.

INGREDIENTS:

1 lb organic, grass-fed ground beef or lamb

1 T seasoning (or just sea salt and pepper is fine)

1 bunch of organic broccoli – use the real stuff, not frozen (it tastes SOOO much better)

1 large sweet potato

1/2 head of cabbage

olive oil and red wine vinegar

INSTRUCTIONS:

Preheat oven to 400. 

Cut broccoli into small (approximately 1″) florets.  Peel sweet potato (optional) and cut into 1/2″ chunks.  Mix the vegetables with 1-2 Tablespoons of olive oil and a large pinch each of salt and pepper.  Arrange the vegetables flat onto the sheet pan and cook at 400 degrees for 10 minutes.  While those are roasting –

Put the ground meat into a bowl and mix (use your hands!) with 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper, or 1 teaspoon seasoning spices.  Form into golf ball-sized balls, approximately 12 of them.

After the vegetables have cooked for 10 minutes, flip them around carefully with a spatula, then place the meatballs around the veggies and cook for 10-15 more minutes.  The internal temperature of the meatballs when they’re done should read 165 degrees if you want to test it (or just slice one down the center to look.)

While that’s cooking, thinly slice the cabbage into 1/2″ strips, place into a salad bowl and toss with 1/4 cup vinaigrette or 2 tablespoons olive oil and 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar with salt and pepper to taste. 

Arrange the meatballs and roasted veggies on your place and have the salad on the side. 

Enjoy! 

 

Q: Do I Need CBD Oil?

In the field of natural healthcare, I could mark time by the latest trending superfood, super-nutrient, magic-bullet herb or diet.  Like, remember back in the Master-cleanse Era of 2003?

The late 2010s marks the beginning of CBD oil fascination.  We all want to know – is this something that would help me?

For all of these herbs, foods, and nutrients, sorry, but there’s never a clear answer.  Because it depends on your own unique chemistry and your body’s needs – which may vary from day to day.

What I can do is tell you a little more about your body’s cannabinoid system and how CBD (and THC) react with it.   

Your body contains – naturally – cannabinoid receptor sites.  Your body regulates these receptor sites naturally – with or without taking hemp or marijuana.  The chemicals in your body that react with these receptor sites are called endogenous ligands.

The main receptors in your body for cannabinoids and endogenous ligands are called “CB1” and “CB2.” 

CB1 activation mostly happens in your brain and can include increased appetite, pain reduction, and reduced psychological stress. 

CB1 activation areas

CB2 activation happens in a broader part of your body:  brain, immune cells, GI tract, and peripheral nerves.

CB2 activation areas

Depending on your diet, stress levels, and some genetic tendencies, CB1 and CB2 receptors can stay in balance all by themselves or not.  Some people may have more of one receptor than the other.  Or your body can favor activation of one system over the other.

Hemp and marijuana plants both contain cannabinoids, which are the some of the components that attach to the receptor sites and activate them. 

THC is a psychoactive component (meaning that it gets you “high”).  CBD is not by itself psychoactive.  Hemp is <.3% THC and 15% CBD whereas most recreational marijuana is around 20% THC and 2% CBD. 

Smoking marijuana – or ingesting in some way THC – activates mostly CB1.  For different people, this will affect you in different ways.  Some people eat too much (the “munchies”) and sit on the couch (the calming effect).  For some people with PTSD, anxiety, or depression, it may help.  Since there is currently no way of testing what kind of receptor sites your body has and in what condition they are, if *you decide to use THC medicinally, start with a very low dose and go from there.  *If it’s legal where you live, of course.

CBD supplements focus more on CB2 activation.  So for people with nerve system problems, epilepsy or pain, or people who get drug-tested at work, this may be a better choice.

The effect of diet on cannabinoid receptor expression is interesting as well.

The Standard American Diet, or SAD ( 😆 ) is heavily loaded in omega 6 oils.  This includes almost all prepackaged foods.  Try this:  the next time you buy a bag of chips, cereal, bread, or pretty much anything that comes wrapped in a box or in plastic, read the label.  If it contains:  soybean oil, canola oil, corn oil, sunflower oil, safflower oil, or cottonseed oil, it’s an omega 6 oil.  Also:  this is what most restaurants are cooking your food in. 

We do need some omega 6 oils in our diet, but to effectively reduce the likelihood of obesity and overall body pain and inflammation, we need to optimize and favor omega 3s in our diets.  Omega 3s are our body’s sources of DHA and EPA. 

Omega 3 oils actually preserve your endogenous (meaning naturally inside your body) cannabinoids.  In a laboratory study, CB1 and CB2 cells light up in the presence of certain oils.  More CB1 and CB2 activity happens in the presence of CBD oil and with omega 3 oils.  The most activity happens in the presence of both oils.  In the presence of omega 6 oils, not much happens to the CB1 and CB2 receptors.  Slavko Komanytsky, PhD lab
Also:  fun fact:  omega 3 oils have been shown to increase the overall number of CB1 and CB2 receptor sites.  The omega 3 oils seem to make your body a more habitable environment for endocannabinoids.  Brown I, Cascio MG, Wahle KWJ, Smoum R, Mechoulam R, et al. (2010) Cannabinoid receptor… Carcinogenesis 31:1584-1591
So, in short, CBD oil can be a balanced part of your supplement schedule.  Especially when it’s combined with a healthy diet. But, even just having a healthy diet (low on processed foods, and high in omega 3-rich foods and always a variety of vegetables) can preserve your body’s natural “high” by itself!  

The Insurance Game

 

Several years ago I conscientiously opted out of health insurance.  

For most people that’s just not an option because of chronic or genetic dis-ease and the cost of medications and doctor’s visits, so I know I’m lucky that I can make this decision.  It’s not for everyone.  And I’m not necessarily recommending it either.  I just want to make a point that

  1. Our healthcare system is deeply flawed.
  2. I don’t want to participate in it.  I choose not to.  

MY HEALTHCARE EXPENSES FOR 2018

I pay out of pocket for the expense of staying healthy.  That being said, I spend most of my money (just a little less than my mortgage LOL) on healthy food. 

  • I pay cash for massages (luckily I can trade for most of my massages),
  • Chiropractic care (around $500 total for 2018),
  • Around $400 total for out of pocket dentist expenses (for myself and 2 kids – just cleanings this year.). 
  • One eye exam for $125.  Glasses cost $12.50 (Zenni.com is fabulous for prescription glasses; you should check it out) and contacts $120. 
  • We had 4 therapy sessions @$65 = $260. 
  • Other out-of-pocket expenses, that insurance wouldn’t even cover anyway:  herbal medicines and nutritional supplements $400 (wholesale :). 
  • I would probably also throw a consultation I had with my psychic in there too.  Talking to her does more good than therapy for me.  Cost:  $80. 
  • Acupuncture I can do for free; but, if I had insurance there’s a 50/50 chance they’d actually cover it, and I would end up paying the $800 or so out of pocket or towards deductible anyway.

Total for myself and 2 kids = $1897.50

Total that insurance would have covered if I had it = $0 (pretty sure, based on deductibles, coverage limitations, etc.)

Total saved every month NOT having insurance = $6000 (x 5 years) = $30,000

I WOULD GET INSURANCE IF

  • If I worked for a company that provided good coverage at a decent price or if – like most other countries in the world – it was included as part of our citizenship
  • If the cost of health insurance didn’t far exceed what you get in return

I’ve had insurance before, and when it came time that I actually needed it, they denied all my claims.  The claim was an emergency trip to the hospital.  They should have covered that.  Even if they had, I still would have had a $7500 deductible.  The hospital bill was $13,000, so I just negotiated the bill with the hospital and ended up paying it with cash over a few months.  A pain in the butt, for sure, but at least I was able to do it.  After that is when I canceled my policy.  “What’s the use?” 

At the very least, they need to be covering emergency trips to the hospital.  If that’s not what insurance is for then I don’t know what.  But a lot of people don’t realize is that you can negotiate with the hospital if you’re paying out of pocket.  Just tell them what you can afford and they’ll work with you.  Don’t be afraid to make demands.  Hospitals routinely bill 10-20x more than what the services actually cost and what insurance would actually pay them.  Insurance companies make deals with hospitals to reduce their cost, and so can you.

THE CONCEPT OF RISK

Buying insurance is buying into a risk pot.  I don’t want to be put into a pot – so to speak – with people that eat McDonald’s for dinner every night and call looking for the remote control exercise.  It’s not fair.  I’m basically paying for their healthcare costs.  

Another healthcare option that is working for some people are healthshare groups like Liberty Healthshare which is still pricey, but not as much, and what they cover is more clear. 

BUT WHAT IF SOMETHING HAPPENS?!?!

Of course.  Yes, my family and I have been lucky so far.  Yes, we could have a terrible accident or – goddess forbid – cancer. 

But here’s probably where I differ from most people.  And I AM NOT NECESSARILY RECOMMENDING THIS AS AN APPROACH TO HEALTHCARE FOR YOU – it’s just what works for me.  If I did come down with a terrible dis-ease, I would not opt to treat it with Western medicine.  That’s just me.  I pass no judgement down on anyone who chooses differently. 

If I or my child need surgery or an in-patient treatment of some kind, I will just pay out of pocket and negotiate with the hospital.  The bottom line of rising healthcare costs is that the big players:  the pharmaceutical companies, the big hospitals, and the big insurance companies keep raising the rates.  Rates that no normal person can afford!

So, what do you think about this?  Do you think I’m overlooking anything?  Just curious.    Health insurance is one of the most controversial topics out there now.  Mostly in the US, though.  Other countries seemed to have figured this out.

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