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During the summer, we take good care of our skin. Exposed to the world, we soak up much needed vitamin D from the sun and sweat away toxins. Come winter, our skin gets covered, layer upon layer and we tend to forget about the most important layer of all. We are bombarded by advertising that focuses on adding products to the skin to aid in its regeneration, however the most effective way to nourish healthy skin is through a nutrient-dense diet. Many of us miss the connection between what we eat and the way our skin appears. Just as our internal organs receive nutrients from what we eat, so does our skin, the largest organ of all.
There are many daily practices that can help improve skin quality. By using mild, natural soaps, ingredient-conscious sunscreens and moisturizers, as well as practicing gentle exfoliation, we can aid the body in the regeneration of skin cells. When combined with a nutrient-dense diet and plenty of hydration, these habits help keep skin looking healthy and supple, but none benefit us as profoundly as the food we eat. It’s true that healthy skin begins from the inside out.
Here is a list of foods sure to get your skin glowing in no time …
Cilantro and basil chelate heavy metals, helping to rid the body of toxins.
High amounts of enzymes are present in tropical fruits, such as mangoes, papayas and pineapples, allowing our digestive system to function optimally and free up energy that could be used to heal and replenish the skin and other organs. They are rich in antioxidants, which reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
Dark leafy greens, tropical and citrus fruits are high in vitamin C as well as beta-carotene, which helps generate vitamin A in the body. Vitamin C aids the synthesis of collagen, keeping skin supple and firm and improves the skin’s water retention, which keeps it softer, and wrinkle-free. Vitamin A regulates cell renewal and skin revitalization, replacing old skin cells with new ones.
Kale and spinach contain phytonutrients (plant chemicals) that fight inflammation and protect skin from the sun’s damaging rays.
Beets cleanse the blood of impurities and revitalize our red blood cells, supplying fresh oxygen to the body. The health of your blood is reflected in beautiful skin.
Walnuts, pecans and other nuts and seeds contain vitamin E and Omega 3 fatty acids that assist in the health of the cell membrane for radiant skin.
Kelp and other seaweeds are packed with vitamins, minerals, amino acids and antioxidants. They survive extreme conditions and adapt to changing environments. This resilience and restorative ability makes seaweed pure skin food.
They say water is life, and you better believe that the ocean is chock-full of everything that will support life. There was a time when seaweed was regarded as nothing but, well, weeds – the kind that you remove so that other life forms are supported.
This nuance better change fast as the once lowly seaweed is out to let the world know how power-packed and nutrient-dense they are, they deserve to be called Superfood.
Seaweed is a rich source of iodine, a nutrient usually missing from our food. Iodine is needed to regulate the thyroid, a gland found in the neck, if that is deficient in a diet may result to lethargy, irregular weight gain or loss, goiters and even impaired memory.
Seaweed is also found to be an abundant resource for trace minerals necessary for our bodies to maintain healthy functions. It contains minerals such as chromium, zinc, calcium, magnesium, manganese, potassium and iron.
Similarly, studies indicated algae varieties, including Spirulina and Chlorella can help clear the body from radiation. Radiation negatively affects the brain, heart, GI tract, and the reproductive and circulatory systems.
Seaweed also supports the maintenance of a healthy weight as it is nutrient dense but of low caloric content and high in dietary fiber; which curbs appetite, prevents overeating and reduce fat absorption.
Seaweed is identified to have anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties, as well as polysaccharides which counteract degenerative diseases.
The term seaweed encompasses a variety of types of algae and marine plants. It must be known that there are different species, with distinct flavors and nutrient contents. Below is a list of just SOME of the most famous seaweeds available in the market, and recipes to highlight these Superfoods.
The mainstream seaweed, Nori became a household name, thanks to miso soup and sushi. Dark green and salty, and often presented dried or toasted into sheets, it is said to have 10 times more calcium than milk and is packed with minerals, and vitamins.
The bacon of the sea, Dulse gives you all the smoky good taste of bacon when fried. The only difference is that Dulse is actually good for you. Reddish brown and may resemble a jerky it is usually ground and sprinkled on salads and soups. It is nutrient-dense with vitamins, minerals, protein and antioxidants.
Another green-colored seaweed, Kelp has a fresh, slightly salty flavor and a jellylike texture. One way of consuming kelp is by making it into noodles, a perfect substitute for pasta and noodle soup dishes, and requires no cooking. It is a natural source of vitamins and minerals, supports metabolism, and keeps skin and hair healthy.
Has a dark brown color, tart taste, and is being sold as dried strips, Hijiki is rich in trace minerals and dietary fiber, aiding digestion, promotes better sleep, and prevents calcium and iron deficiency. It is prepared by soaking in water and gives a nautical kick to salads.
Green and has a sweet and slightly salty taste, Wakame has the highest level of omega-3 fatty acids among the seaweeds. High in anti-oxidants, protein and iodine, it fights cancer, tumors, and heart diseases. Wakame as a culinary ingredient is featured in savory stir fries, soups and salads.
A list of recipes is provided below which uses these identified superfoods to fuel each one of us into a nourishing and vibrant lifestyle.
Dr. Ann’s Energy Soup
5 cups of baby greens (kale, spinach, romaine)
1 cup of green sprouts (broccoli or sunflower)
1 cup of sprouted legumes (lentil, garbanzo)
4 tbsp of seaweed – dulse or nori
2 ½ cup water
½ inch ginger
1 lemon, juiced
Sliced lemon for garnish
In a high-speed blender, blend all ingredients until it becomes smooth and creamy. Garnish with a slice of lemon.
It may be eaten warm (blend for 4 minutes) or room temperature (blend for 1-2 minutes)
Save the Sea Pate
2 cups almonds
2 tbsp ground flax seeds
2 tbsp hemp oil
5 carrots chopped
¼ cup yellow onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
3 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp gf tamari
2 tbsp dulse
Half a thumb of ginger, minced
A pinch of pink salt
Process the harder vegetables first, then add the rest of the ingredients and process until smooth and creamy.
Taste as you go, you may want to add more coconut aminos (umami), extra virgin olive oil (fat), or lemon juice (sour).
Tangy Ginger Kelp Noodle Soup
4 cups boiling water
4 tbsp miso paste
Half a fresh serrano chili, seeds removed and minced
1 clove of garlic minced
1 tbsp coconut aminos or gf tamari
1 package of kelp noodles, cut with kitchen shears
A handful of cilantro
A handful of chopped scallions
A handful of sprouted lentils
The juice from a lime
A drizzle of hot sauce
Combine chili, garlic and ginger with 1 cup of water in a high speed blender.
In a separate bowl, soak the kelp noodles in boiling water, then drain when soft.
In another bowl, stir in miso paste with the remaining boiling water to dissolve.
To create a broth, add the rest of the water, and the chili, garlic and ginger mixture.
Pour the broth over the noodles and top with freshly chopped cilantro and scallions.
Finish with a squeeze of lime and your favorite hot sauce.
Eating raw and choosing organic is a concept not completely understood by a great portion of the population, but when you get to the core of the subject, it’s is pretty simple.
Eating raw and choosing organic is the only sustainable way for us to exist while keeping our bodies healthy and the earth healthy not just for us, but for the next generation too.
Heating and cooking food over 118 degrees Fahrenheit (or 47 degrees Celsius) affects its nutritional content. It diminishes the nutrients and enzymes, which are necessary for our bodies to function well and defend us from diseases. Water soluble vitamins such as B and C are especially sensitive to heat, whereas proteins and minerals can withstand more cooking.
Enzymes are protein molecules that become biological catalysts that aids the human body to breakdown, digest and absorb vitamins and minerals within the food that we eat. Our bodies also produce enzymes, but these diminish as we age, thus the need to consume more raw foods containing live enzymes to make it easier for our body to maximize the nutrients from food.
Further, consuming raw foods safeguard the proper pH of our bodies, which can be done by ensuring our body has a healthy acid-alkaline balance. When the body is acidic, it is more susceptible to illness – our immunity is impaired which can escalate into serious health conditions like heart disease and cancers. It affects different areas of our body including our blood, hormones, bones and joints, digestive, and excretory systems, among others.
Meanwhile, raw foods, especially leafy green vegetables, and even some fruits are alkaline in nature, which are responsible for increased stamina, improved immunity, better digestion and in effect, weight loss. Consuming raw foods is one of the easiest ways to maintain the body’s delicate pH balance, which is easily distorted by acidic foods.
One might start thinking though, if it’s just the rawness of the food that we are after why must it be organic too?Organic is a choice you make that does not only nourish your body but in the bigger picture nurtures the whole planet, ensuring sustainability.
In commercial agriculture, the soil degrades due to the high amount of pesticides and other chemicals used when planting fruits, vegetables, and crops, making it less conducive for cultivation in the future. Worse, these chemicals are absorbed into the foods themselves, and once ingested, these become a part of us too. In small amounts, these chemicals might not ‘hurt’ us, but as these chemicals accumulate in the body, they can become toxic.
On choosing organic, and which food contains the most chemicals, this list guide called “The Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen” is a resource that would be useful when stocking up your pantry. This is a good place to start whether you are transitioning to a raw, plant-based and organic food diet.
The next time we take a hike in the forest, we can imagine that beneath us is a complex underground system of micro-fungi that weaves in and out of the soil below, flowing into countryside and city parks alike.
We’ll look closely among the moss-laden cedars and ferns, and expect to see all kinds of mycellium growing. The fascinating thing about medicinal mushrooms is their ability to make life out of death and that the life created becomes powerful and potent in its synergistic relationship with human consumption. Touted for their functional medicinal uses in Traditional Chinese medicine, the intelligent fungi species has fascinated and amused scientists and nutrition gurus for centuries.
Believe it or not, there are more than 200 species of mushrooms that have medicinal properties. Modern medicine likewise recognized these therapeutic qualities; mushrooms were reported to contain anti-cancer, anti-viral and anti-inflammatory characteristics. David Wolfe included medicinal mushrooms in his list of the top “superfoods” stating that it is rich in polysaccharides and beta-glucans which enhances the immune system.
The main effect of consuming medicinal mushroom either included in food or taken as a medicine is improving the immune system by ensuring T Helper cells, “arguably the most important cells in adaptive immunity.” Anti-cancer properties also manifest as cancers mainly attack a weakened immune system.
Listed below are just a small sample of the many species of magical, medicinal mushrooms. The best thing about discovering the power of medicinal mushrooms is a new-found passion to get into the kitchen and experiment with delicious new recipes.
Reishi. Found in Asia—specifically China, Korea and Japan—Reishi mushroom was given the title Queen of Mushrooms. It comes in a reddish-brown color, tough and woody, and has a bitter taste. Also known as Ling Zhi in Chinese, this mushroom is more likely to be consumed as a supplement in powder or tincture form, instead of culinarily. It contains beta-glucans which boosts the immune system, and polysaccharides which fight cancer and inhibit growth of tumors, it also is said to be an anti-inflammatory, lessen allergic reactions and protects the liver. We’re more likely to use this in a tea as they are strictly a medicinal mushroom.
Chaga. Gaining the title King of Medicinal Mushrooms, it grows in geographically cold climates. It grows on birch trees, and resembles a dark, cracked wood more than a mushroom in appearance. It is said to have an appealing taste and is prepared in powder form and is consumed as a tea. It has soothing properties, improves immune system functions and anti-oxidant properties. Chaga is said to be the most potent adaptogen, which fights stress, diseases and even aging. Betulinic acid extracted from the birch bark is found in Chaga is said to impede malignant tumors from growing. We can see them growing in Northern Canada and areas all over North America where birch trees grow. Keep your eyes out, you may find a Chaga. You may harvest without destroying the tree, so it is sustainable.
Shiitake.One of the most well known mushrooms, shiitake is being used culinarily, especially in Asian cuisine. Originally grown in Japan, it is now being cultivated worldwide. It has a light brown color and has a soft, spongy texture with a woodsy and meaty flavor. Shiitake contains eritadenine, also called lentinacine, a naturally occurring substance which reduces blood cholesterol by encouraging the body to absorb it. Shown to have anti-oxidants, it protects the liver, controls inflammation and has properties that are said to prevent tumor and cancer development. Steamed Shiitake mushrooms are so yummy in miso soup with a few chopped scallions and torn up nori, a nutrient-dense seaweed.
Maitake. Another Japanese mushroom called Hen of the Woods, Maitake resembles the feathers of a fluffed chicken. It grows at the base of oak trees in hardwood forests of Japan and China, but is now also cultivated in Europe and Northeastern parts of the U.S. and Canada. A culinary mushroom, Maitake is intensely flavored and does not have the same squeaky texture of mushrooms. Maitake is said to have the ability to regulate glucose levels and blood pressure, as well as enhance immunity. It is said that Maitake triggers apoptosis of cancer cells (cancer cell suicide) and impedes development of tumors. That’s pretty awesome.
Cordyceps. A medicinal fungus that is grown in China, Tibet and Nepal, they grow from caterpillars, and other insects and arthropods, but a vegan variety may be grown from agar-agar (a type of seaweed). It has a yellowish and tube-shaped appearance, it became known in the international scene when two Chinese runners broke world records, claiming that Cordyceps was the source of their remarkable athleticism and endurance. It can be used as a tonic or mixed into cooking, Cordyceps clears the respiratory system, stops bleeding, increases energy, prevents stress and lethargy, and promotes longevity. It is also an effective anti-inflammatory and natural cancer treatment.
Lion’s Mane. A type of fungus that looks exactly as it name suggests, Lion’s Mane is white to beige-colored fungi with a meaty texture and a mild flavor. Used as a culinary ingredient as well as a supplement in powdered form, it has a long history of use in Chinese medicine. Lion’s Mane is popular for its memory-boosting effects, and stimulating the nervous system. It likewise improves the immune and digestive system. It is said to be a natural anti-depressant and controls high cholesterol.
Turkey Tail. Also known as Trametes, it has been used in Asia for thousands of years. It has multiple-colored bands that resembles the tail feathers of a wild turkey. With a neutral to slightly sweet taste, it is prepared in tea form, tinctures and extract. U.S. FDA, NIH, Bastyr and the University of Washington collaborated on a research that studies the effects of consuming this medicinal mushroom when combined with chemotherapy in prostate cancer patients. It is reported to be capable of regenerating bone marrow, strengthening the immune and respiratory system, and has anti-inflammatory properties.
Remember our friends Mario and Luigi? The Super Mario Brothers hunted mushrooms to get stronger, bigger and jump higher. We thought it was just a quirk in a video game, but who would’ve thought that mushrooms truly do give you superpowers!
Below are recipes that you can make at home, highlighting our featured superfood: medicinal mushrooms. This tea/latte recipe is anti-viral and super immune boosting, perfect for cold and flu season. Beat the winter blues before they get to you!
Royalty Tea Ingredients:
1 tsp Chaga powder or a whole lump of Chaga
1 tsp Reishi powder or a few slices of Reishi
1/2 tsp Ho Shu Wu powder
1 tsp Cat’s Claw bark
1/2 of a Vanilla bean
A few cacao beans
6 cups water
To make the tea, bring the above ingredients to a boil and simmer for 30 minutes on low. Strain and gather tea in a mason jar, using some for the latte and saving some for another latte later on.
Royalty Latte Ingredients:
1 cup of soaked cashews (soaked at least 8 hours and rinsed)
2 Medjool dates, pitted
1 tsp vanilla powder
3 cups Royalty Tea
Blend on high in a high-speed blender for two minutes or until warm. Add more warm water as desired.
You may re-boil the tea mixture up to eight times. So, don’t discard it. I typically re-boil immediately and then save the extra liquid with the ingredients still inside it in the fridge. That makes it easy to re-boil each morning to make a new pot of tea.
Halloween, Thanksgiving and then it’s Christmas and New Year’s. The last three months of the year are when the festivities start. We connect with friends and gather with family to share in the holiday cheer.
For as long as we have cultivated the soil, we’ve become accustomed to celebrate these festivities through food. From the trick or treat loot, to stuffing ourselves with Thanksgiving dinner, by the time we get to a Christmas day feast and an end-of-year merry-making, we’ve most likely already bit off more than we should have chewed. With the holiday cheers comes the over-consumption of food, and usually not the most healthy choices. Our New Year’s resolutions will predictably be something about getting back on the fitness and health bandwagon now that we’ve had our annual fix of indulgence.
But this doesn’t have to be the case. We can remain mindful of our nourishment while creating hearty meals.
During the holiday season, the changes in the environment coincides with the changes in our body, and it is just a matter of intuitively listening to what our body demands to keep it in balance. As our bodily needs change in the colder months, so does the earth as it provides an abundance of produce needed to get through the coldest season. Grounding root vegetables and grains, combined with spices and warming oils invite hearty soups and stews to warm the chill from our bones, and keep our energies centered.
As it gets colder, favor a warm breakfast by infusing some of the following recipes into your meals. Make a home-made chai tea, or a steaming miso soup. Healthy, hearty, and rich in warming and drying “yang” – exactly what is needed to keep our bodies balanced during the colder months. This spicy herbal tea can improve the circulatory system and likewise relax weary winter muscles.
On the other hand, salads and raw foods, which I normally crave and lean towards, are “yin”, these tend to cool down the body, so it is suggested not to consume much of these when chilled, especially since these are also mostly out-of-season too at this time.
You may find yourself seeking more rest, we are naturally programmed to be in a hibernation mode during the winter months. As we try to recharge and find balance through rest, it is also essential to get moving and do some exercise to keep our internal fire ignited, stay happy and avoid lethargy or seasonal affective disorder.
An activity suited to build some body heat during the winter time is yoga. Yoga builds heat, gets the lymph system moving and realigns our mind and body to relax and find balance. On milder days, a hike to the woods or the mountains, or even a walk around the park, are good ways to get your cardio going, and at the same time commune with nature and enjoy the crisp, fresh air that the winter season brings.
Mix all ingredients thoroughly and store in a mason jar until ready to drink.
Add 1 tbsp to a tea strainer and steep for 5 minutes.
Mix with fresh, homemade cashew/hemp milk.
Cashew / Hemp Milk Recipe
1 cup of cashews, soaked for 2 hours and rinsed
¼ cup hemp hearts
3.5 cups water
A pinch of nutmeg
2 tbsp coconut nectar or maple syrup
Drain the cashews, rinse well and put in the blender along with the hemp hearts, sweetener and nutmeg. Add only 1 cup water and blend with less water in the beginning to make a smoother paste. When smooth, add the remaining water and blend until frothy.
Wild Forest Mushroom Miso Soup
A drizzle of olive oil
2 cups of mushrooms (use a variety), chopped
1 cup onion, chopped small
2 tbsp tamari
2 tbsp miso paste, mixed with 2 tbsp of warm water
A drizzle of toasted sesame oil
Chopped chives or scallions for garnish
Pink salt and pepper
1 cup water
Using a wide soup pot, saute mushrooms and onion in olive oil and season well with pink Himalayan salt and pepper.
Cook well, stirring often, until mushrooms have released their water and have a deep earthy flavor and beautiful brown color (about 8 minutes).
Remove from the pot and set aside.
Stir in the tamari and and miso paste and simmer.
Add the mushrooms and cook for another 10 minutes to combine all the flavors.
Drizzle with sesame oil and add a bit more tamari if your broth is lacking salt.
Serve this deeply warming soup with a bowl of brown rice (add the rice to the bowl if you want a heartier soup) and sprinkle with fresh chives or scallions and a little extra cracked pepper if you’d like.
With a little innovation, you can learn to make your own All-Natural First-Aid Kit that won’t poison you! Truth is, a lot of the products on the market that are designed to keep bugs away or heal cuts are not the most health friendly. In fact, many of these products contain nasty chemicals. From the petroleum (i.e. Plastic) in your Neosporin (and yes, you do absorb the plastic straight into your skin) to the DEET designed to kill living creatures (yes, we are living creatures), these aren’t ideal if you wish to avoid the lurking chemicals within.
I have spent every summer in the mountains. Hiking up the mountains, over the mountains and literally crawling around inside the mountains. I’m an Underground Cave Guide at Rat’s Nest Cave in Canmore Alberta, Canada and it’s a very physical job.
Squirming through small holes, rappelling off cliffs into the black abyss, squeezing past thousand-year-old calcite cave formations, I’m bound to get a few bruises and scrapes. Yet, I’m always prepared with a few key salves and oils to make those bruises heal a little faster and provide some relief from the sting. If we take care of our health by eating healthy, we should also take care of the little (or large!) nicks and cuts we get along the road of life. These bumps and bruises can cause problems on the superficial skin level and if left to fester, may let nasty infections proliferate.
Over the years of adventure and escapade, I’ve fine-tuned my first-aid kit to include a variety of powders, oils and salves that promote healing and ward-off infection. Together with the essential fire-starter and knife, my kit includes the following wild wilderness saviors:
The Powders, Oils and Salves:
If I can take only one thing with me in the woods, that would be turmeric. Turmeric has long been used as a powerful anti-inflammatory in both the Chinese and Indian medicinal practices. It is a warming spice – good for the cold weather blues added to anything – sweet or savory, it’s not just for curry.
Applied topically, it can prevent infection in cuts and scrapes, soothe toothaches and heal bruises. If eaten, say goodbye to flatulence and even painful menstruation. The active oil in turmeric is called ‘curcumin’ and produces no toxicity – so you can use/eat it every day. In many cases, a daily dose of turmeric has helped people reduce symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, irritable bowel syndrome and even may prevent cancer due to curcumin’s antioxidant effects enabling it to protect the cells from free radicals that can damage cellular DNA.
2. Coconut Oil:
What can I say – this is the oil of ultimate uses. Just check out the 42 ways Jennifer Lannon has found to use coconut oil! I use it in my kit as a sun protection, moisturizer on my face and all over my body. It is anti-viral, anti-fungal and anti-bacterial. Use it as a base and mix it with essential oils to prevent the sting of a sunburn (with lavender) or ward off the bugs (with cedar, lemongrass and citronella) There is also growing evidence that daily consumption of coconut oil, at least a few tablespoons a day can help protect against Alzheimer’s and support the thyroid.
3. Oil of Oregano:
A few drops under the tongue may sting, but it’s worth it. Due to the antiviral properties of oregano oil, it may help prevent colds and flu, GI track upsets and even ward off pesky parasite infections. Candida albicans, the bacteria that causes a body-wide fungal infection has a hard time hangin’ on with this powerful anti-fungal. Even skin conditions such as cold sores, nail fungus, joint pain, muscle aches, and dandruff don’t stand a chance faced with oregano oil, but never put it directly on broken skin as it may irritate. It is indeed very powerful.
4. Tea Tree Oil:
Hailing originally from Australia, this one is always with me! Tea tree oil is anti-viral, anti-fungal and anti-bacterial. Use it on cuts and small wounds to keep the bad bacteria at bay. There are literally hundreds of uses for this miracle oil. From Acne to Asthma and Ingrown Hairs to Infections; even mosquito bites to cleaning your toothbrush – this oil is an absolute must! Mix it with coconut oil in order to spread it out. On its own, tea tree oil is so very potent – a little goes a long way!
5. Arnica Lotion:
This salve, made from fresh arnica flowers is used as a topical cream in order to reduce the healing time and limit bruising and sore muscles when applied right after injury or as soon as possible. These little flowers have anti-inflammatory and circulation-stimulating properties but should not be used on open wounds.
Whether travelling or battling with stress of the everyday, the body is constantly fighting to stay in a state of homeostasis, a perfect balance. When this balance is upset, we get sick. From a little sniffle to the full-blown flu, medicinal mushrooms are your best friend.
The most common medicinal mushrooms are the Shiitake, maitake, chaga and reishi mushrooms. They’ve been gaining popularity in the western world over the last few years, yet have been used in oriental medicine traditions for decades. No health benefit is better documented for medicinal mushrooms than immune support. From a dietary perspective, medicinal mushrooms appear able to enhance immune function in both directions, giving it a boost when needed, and cutting back on its activity when needed. Because of this, you can’t eat too many. Added to your daily tea or smoothie in powdered form, your immune system will thank you!
7. Activated Charcoal (powder form from burnt coconut husks):
For acute use in food poisoning, intestinal illness, vomiting, diarrhea, or the ingestion of toxins, mix activated charcoal with water and drink it. It will bind to unwanted toxins and expel them with bodily wastes.
8. Cayenne Powder (in capsule form):
A spicy addition to any dish, cayenne powder can actually stop a stroke in its tracks. Placed under the tough, it can increase blood flow and improve metabolism. Straight on the skin, it will stop bleeding rapidly yet sting like a son-of-a. In capsule form, ingested cayenne will also warm you from the inside out by elevating your core body temperature for a short time. In this case, it may stave off hypothermia.
9. ChamomileTea Bags:
By making a strong brew, you can use the liquid to calm yourself and help you sleep. You may also soak a paper towel and cover your eyes to fend off pinkeye. Chamomile has mild sedative, antispasmodic, anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. It supports relaxation, alleviates upset stomach and, when applied topically, relieves skin irritations.
I make my own insect repellant and it has worked wonders while bush-whacking through dense forest and even in my back yard at the height of pesky bug season.
1 cup of witch hazel
2 tablespoons of neem oil – which contains natural insecticidal compounds
½ teaspoon vodka as a natural preservative
140 drops essential oils
Bug-Repelling Essential Oil Blend:
30 drops citronella
30 drops cedarwood
30 drops of lemongrass
20 drops lavender
15 drops lemon
15 drops of eucalyptus
Add all ingredients to a spray bottle that fits nicely in your first-aid kit, shake and spray!
11. Eucalyptus Oil:
For any respiratory type problems, a few drops of this oil in the palm of your hand will open up airways when inhaled. It can be diluted with coconut oil and be applied externally to the feet and chest as an impromptu vaporub. It will repel the bugs too!
12. Powdered Ginger:
Ginger is great for nausea, reflux, stomach trouble and morning sickness. I also keep some in the car for motion sickness. It helps sooth the stomach after a digestive illness or food poisoning. Mix it with Coconut Oil and Turmeric for a yummy tea!
13. Witch Hazel:
My husband is a big fan. As an aftershave tonic, he never gets ingrown hairs on his face. It has a mild scent and can be mixed with any essential oil to provide relief of so many symptoms. Used after a hot shower when the pores are open, witch hazel can soothe any skin irregularity, including spots on the face and dark circles under the eyes. A little splash on any part of the skin can relive dry skin, itchy skin and even diminish body odor.
We all need healthy bacteria in our gut to balance the plethora of toxins and nasty microbes we come in contact with on a day-to-day basis. Gut health is 90% of the immune system. Those who have used extensive anti-biotic therapy should most definitely take probiotics everyday – you can get them naturally from raw, unpasteurized sauerkraut, kombucha and kefir but in a pinch, the capsules will help huge! Anyone who gets sick frequently doesn’t have enough healthy bacteria in the gut – get on the program.
15. Female Tincture:
Painful period cramps… This is my one continual struggle in life. To provide relief in the backcountry, I recommend a blend of Jamaican Dogwood, Cramp Bark and Valerian Root and Black Cohosh.
Fill a clean glass canning jar with dried herbs.
Add vodka to the top.
Screw lid on tightly and store in a cool, dark place.
Shake 3-7 times a week.
Let sit for 3-5 weeks and then strain the herbs out of the tincture and pour into a colored glass bottle, closing the lid tightly.
Alcohol tinctures will last 2-3 years and need to be kept in a cool, dark place.
16. Lavender Oil:
Mixed with witch hazel or coconut oil, a lavender spray or salve provides instant relief from minor burns – from the sun or the campfire!
17. Dehydrated Coconut Powder:
Fresh water may be hard to come across in the wilderness, especially in the desert where I spend a lot of time. Keeping a packet or two of dehydrated coconut powder on you will help combat and prevent dehydration. It is loaded with electrolytes and keeps your water retention in balance.
The Other Goodies
Several pairs of gloves (disposable examination gloves)
Pencil and waterproof paper
High pitched whistle
Multi-tool Knife (with scissors, tweezers and knife)
Needle and Thread
Barrier device (to administer CPR)
Headlamp with extra batteries
A small bag of walnuts and goji berries to stave off hunger if lost
Fire starter (flint striker and cotton balls)
Candle (use wax to maintain fire)
Assorted bandages and gauze (tensor, triangle)
Small Water bottle (full – for emergency use only)
Non-allergenic band aids or Superglue; this sticky liquid can be the impromptu stitches you need. Use to seal minor to moderate skin cuts (not puncture wounds) with butterfly bandages. Especially good for face and other visible areas that scar easily as well as where other bandages can be difficult to apply or may not stick such as on fingertips, knuckles, in hair or on cracked soles of the feet.
A little much, maybe… but the best part is that you can pick and choose. What ails you most when you’re roughing it? You can survive and thrive for a long time out there with these goodies; provided you brought your sleeping bag, shelter, a little more food and a keen sense of adventure! You never know what sneaky tricks Mother Nature has in store for you… be prepared!
The advent of the Internet has definitely brought the world of health closer to home (the world of everything else too, I suppose). Those of us who have always had or have only recently discovered a small inclination towards wanting the best health and whole foods for ourselves and our families and friends, now, more than ever do we have this information and these resources at our fingertips.
It’s quick and easy info. But sometimes when there is so much information, there is too much information and people in general tend to shy away when overwhelmed. As I try to write something about the swathes of yummy foods now available to us, I come across this quote by the Dalai Lama:
“We have bigger houses, but smaller families; more conveniences, but less time. We have more degrees, but less sense; more knowledge, but less judgment; more experts, but more problems; more medicines, but less healthiness. We have been all the way to the moon and back but have trouble crossing the street to meet the new neighbor. We built more computers to hold more information to produce more copies than ever, but have less communication. We have become long on quantity, but short on quality. These are times of fast foods, but slow digestion; tall man, but short character; steep profits but shallow relationships. It’s a time when there’s much in the window but nothing in the room.” H.H The XIVthDalai Lama
This beautiful quote so accurately with sincerity says it like it is. I’m reminded to never take for granted the beauty that surrounds me; to always be grateful for my ability to access such healthy, fresh, organic foods. I am blessed to be able to eat the mighty mulberry and sprinkle spirulina on my salad. I am to slow down and use only what I need in life; to make my footprint on the planet as small as necessary and live in peace and simplicity.
In this simplicity, I find time for the important things such as nurturing my garden and chewing my food thoroughly. Indeed summer has begun, and with it more fresh fruit and veggies to know what to do with.
I am patiently waiting as my garden grows from seed to plant. The peas have shot up and little tufts of spicy greens grow bigger by the day. This afternoon I was able to snip the first of the leaves to create an amazing Summer Bounty salad with other fresh produce from the farmers market! But hen I spot the masses of rose bushes all around the mountains, they smell like heaven would smell if it indeed had a scent. As their petals blow in the breeze, I grab a few mid-air and gobble them up. Wow! What deliciousness! I bet they would taste amazing on a summer salad…
Summer Bounty Salad:
A mix of spicy greens – mustard greens and arugula with red leaf lettuce and romaine
half an avocado
Two red radishes, sliced thin
10 snap peas, shelled
a pinch of sesame seeds
a few rose petals
Bounty Bliss Dressing:
¼ cup tahini (sesame paste)
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon miso
½ tablespoon of wheat-free tamari
1 small clove garlic
A small handful chopped fresh fennel greens
⅓ cup water (more if a thinner sauce is desired)
Instructions: Blend the above in a high-speed blender then in a metal bowl using tongs, mix well with salad greens then transfer to serving bowl and place radishes, avocado, fresh peas, sesame seeds and rose petals on top!
With the advent of the Internet, I share this with you. Where I live, the beautiful wild roses are in bloom and their sweet scent penetrates the valleys and wafts by on winds of change. I love their scent but I love their taste even more! Be sure to say thanks and definitely take your time to stop smell the roses (and eat a few too).
No doubt a plant-based whole foods diet can improve all facets of your life in many ways. By eating food that is nurtured from seed to plate, we respect this plant in its role to fuel our bodies with the most healthful and nutrient dense properties available to us. One thing to always remember though is that this food we indulge in and discuss in depth cannot be taken for granted. Truth is, the grocery store may not always be there and if it is, with price increases due to the new “organic” movement, one may not always be able to choose the food we would like to eat as the pocket book dwindles – I for one am speaking from experience.
By planting your own garden, you take the first steps to becoming sustainable and self sufficient in regards to feeding yourself with the food you choose. You’ll also become much more aware of the growing process and the care that it takes to grow organic, nutrient dense food at home. If you live in a small space, have no fear. There are so many ways to incorporate tower gardens or wall gardens with little materials that take up a fraction of space verses the traditional outdoor garden.
The Tower Garden
Tall and strong, you can easily grow over 20 plants in a small 2.5 feet x 2.5 foot area. This vertical garden using an aeroponic or hydroponic, soilless system will grow food much faster than if it were growing in the ground with much less mess. There are many do-it-yourself youtube videos on how to make your own aeroponic/hydroponic tower garden or you can even buy a pre-made one here.
The Window Sill Herb Garden
Even the smallest space with a teeny tiny window can grow herbs that boost nutritional intake. Try cilantro and parsley for their ability to chelate heavy metals – heavy metal toxins can lead to several debilitating effects from infertility to severe depression. Basil provides DNA protection and has anti-bacterial properties. The flavonoids found in basil provide protection against oxidation and radiation at the cellular level.
When you grow your own food, you take charge of your own food source and avoid questioning where it came from, if it contains GMO or if it truly is organic plus you’ll save a lot of money in the process.
Motivated to ascend as high as possible in a sea of saw-toothed sierras, my body will need calories and plenty of them. As a rock climber, caver, long distance hiker and raw vegan, I often get asked the protein question. That very question is what sparked my plunge into the world of nutrition over 8 years ago. I wanted to stay strong, gain lean muscle mass and stay fit for intense days on the rock, high above those little dots in the distance resembling cars. The athlete in me definitely needs energy to get me there.
Now where to get this energy from. We’ve been told our whole lives that we eat to gain protein for strong muscles and calcium for strong teeth. The fact is, we don’t eat to gain protein, carbohydrates or fats for that matter, we eat to gain energy. Unfortunately, many of us are disconnected from our food and from farm to plate, little do we know what goes on in between. Sometimes I think that if we saw the whole process, we would begin to question what we choose to fuel our bodies with. Have we forgotten why we eat? Who said it’s good for you? How about the bioavailability of these nutrients?
Dr. John McDougall, MD believes that T Colin Campbell, PhD, “has been the most influential nutritional scientist of the past century [and that] his work has already saved hundreds of thousands of lives.” In his new book, Whole; Rethinking the Science of Nutrition, Campbell shares how we no longer think food is important [and that] we are only concerned with the nutrients contained within so we extract them and concentrate them into supplements. We think of nutrition in terms of the elements that we need – calcium from milk, vitamin A from carrots, etc.” Where these nutrients come from have been influenced by those with money and power. Why is it that the FDA is both funded by agribusiness and are also the ones who regulate “recommended daily allowances” and the entire structure of the food pyramid? I would call this a conflict of interest. Creative advertising helps out the big corporations that have big money to gain if you buy their product and they don’t want to tell you the whole story. The big agribusiness wants us to associate protein with beef and calcium with milk. Surely if that is what our body needs, then we must need to eat animals in order to get these nutrients. But, unfortunately, we have been duped.
The most common argument in favor of eating meat is that it is necessary to build and maintain strength, yet the strongest animals in the world (elephants, oxen, gorillas) eat only grasses and fruit.
It is Dr. Campbell who has done a 27-year, extensive, large-scale population study on the effects of animal protein in diet and cancer rates. His work is published in The China Study and shows through science how the growth of cancer can be turned on and off with the consumption of animal proteins. He also believes strongly that “what you eat everyday is a far more powerful determinant of your health than your DNA or most of the nasty chemicals lurking in your environment. The foods you consume can heal you faster and more profoundly than the most expensive prescription drugs, and more dramatically than the most extreme surgical interventions, with only positive side effects. [Your] food choices can prevent cancer, heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, stroke, macular degeneration, migranes and arthritis – that’s the short list. A whole-foods, plant-based diet can reverse those conditions.” The human body builds protein from the 8 essential amino acids and the original source of these amino acids is not animal flesh – it’s vegetation and that’s where the animals get theirs from. Skip the middle man and go straight to the source.
Brendan Brazier, former professional Ironman triathlete, bestselling author and formulator of the award-winning plant-based Vega nutritional products has researched plant-based protein to the nth degree. In support of the environment, he has discovered that “producing animals for food uses more resources than producing plant foods. Very little food energy is returned from meat; on a calorie-for-calorie basis, plant-based proteins require less fossil fuel energy, water, or arable land to produce than any animal protein. Because both your health and environment matter, the nutrient-to-resource ratio considers the micronutrient gain from the food and the natural resource expenditure required to produce the food. By far, plant-based foods require the least amount of resources to produce and deliver the most nutrients.” If you look at this research from a purely scientific point of view, it can’t be refuted. In regards to both health and the environment, plant-based protein sources are the way to go. Brazier’s research in his book The Thrive Diet concludes that “choosing a plant-based diet is the single biggest possible environmental impact you can make as an individual. Aside from the significant health benefits, a plant-based diet can reduce your carbon footprint (CO2emissions) more than changing your daily commute.”
But, organic, free range meats that are sustainably raised are much better than factory farmed fodder, right? This is true in so many ways, but even organically raised and ‘happy’ animals are hard to digest and are higher in toxins than any plant food. Let’s compare ourselves with a well known carnivore, the Lion. Lions have sharp teeth, powerful stomach acid and short digestive tracts in order to chew, digest and assimilate all the animal protein that they need to survive. No way would our square molars be able to chew so much animal protein in a day as our jaws and teeth are more suited for grinding plant matter. Our stomach acid is not strong enough to fully break down animal proteins to their smallest particles in order for us to digest and assimilate this protein. When proteins do go undigested, there is a chance we may suffer an auto-immune response or allergic reaction as the body may see these undigested proteins as foreign objects to attack. This goes for plant proteins too, so chew your food. Sometimes these allergic reactions are delayed as well. Next time you are feeling ill, think about what you ate in the last 48 hours. Not only this, but truthfully, we could not live on protein alone.
Yes, we need protein, but we also need fats and carbs. In fact, a healthy diet consists of about 10% protein, 10% fats (nuts, seeds and fatty fruits such as avocado, yum!) and 80% carbohydrates (whole grains, legumes and fruit). Unfortunately we are so consumed with this idea of protein, most of us are getting too much protein. What’s wrong with that? Animal proteins are very acidifying for our bodies and too much acid causes our bodies to want to create a natural alkaline balance since our bodies are slightly alkaline to begin with. Our body, the miracle that it is, is left with no choice but to draw out the alkaline minerals (calcium and magnesium) in our bones in order to buffer the acid. There are studies that show counties who consume diets high in animal protein and dairy in fact have higher incidents of osteoporosis, a degeneration of the bones caused by calcium deficiency. Why then, if we are drinking so much milk do we have weaker bones?
The fact is, what we put in our mouths doesn’t entirely control our nutrition. Our nutrition is controlled by the efficiency of our digestive system and by what our bodies do with that food or how bioavaiblable this food is to us. Bioavailability is the rate at which your body can absorb nutrients and use it to benefit your health. Whole, plant-based foods are easy to digest and much more bioavailable than animal-based proteins. Without enzymes and a healthy digestive system, food cannot be turned into useable nutrients for the body. When a plant has a full spectrum of amino acids, it creates a complete protein. Sometimes, as Campbell believes, “plant proteins are somewhat compromised by their limitation of one or more amino acids. When we restore the relatively deficient amino acid in a plant protein, we get a response rate equivalent to animal proteins.” Even if you only ate one kind of grain, bean, potato, or vegetable as a protein source, and ate enough of that food, you could meet your protein and amino acid needs. Admittedly, it would be a very monotonous way to eat and you might miss out on other nutrients. By eating a variety of unrefined grains, legumes, seeds, nuts, and vegetables throughout the day, the deficit that one food low in a particular essential amino acid will be made up by another food.
So, what exactly are the most amazing plant-based proteins?
1. Hemp Seeds
All seeds and nuts are high in protein, but with a perfect ration of omega-6 and omega-3 EFAs, hemp seeds are preferred over others. Containing all 20 amino acids, including the 9 essential, they are a complete protein. High in Vitamin E and trace minerals, hemp seeds do not contain phytic acid – which is abundant in soy and prevents us from absorbing nutrients. They are also high in phytonutrients that boost immunity.
How to eat?
Hemp seeds and hemp hearts (raw) are a simple and nutrient-dense addition to a multitude of dishes, from breakfast cereal to salads to smoothies to vegetables and sprouted grain dishes. You may also add toasted hemp seeds to salads for that special crunch, but when toasted, enzymes and vitamins are altered.
2. Pumpkin Seeds
According to nutritiondata.com, 138 grams of pumpkin seeds contains 34 grams of protein! That’s over two grams more than the same quantity of ground beef. High in iron and zinc, pumpkin seeds also boost immune function and help fight depression due to their high content of tryptophan which is converted into serotonin.
How to eat?
As a snack, pumpkin seeds are great for athletes after a workout. Throw them on salads, make vegan ‘cheeses’ and blitz in any smoothie.
3. Spirulinaand Chlorella
A blue-green algae, both spirulina and chlorella are a complete source of protein containing all essential amino acids. At 70% – 80% bioavailable protein, it is the highest of any natural food. Grown in controlled, sustainable settings, it is also an environmentally friendly choice and can combat radiation and rid your body of unwanted toxins.
How to eat?
Sprinkle a teaspoon into in your morning smoothie everyday or add to salad dressings and even raw desserts. With a strong flavour and unique potency, a little goes a long way.
From South America, the Incas called quinoa “The Mother Grain” but it isn’t a grain at all. This mighty pseudo grain is an extremely high source of complete protein. This heart-healthy grain also contains anti-inflammatory essential fatty acids, especially omega 3s.
How to eat?
Quinoa may be eaten sprouted or cooked. I personally like to sprout it and toss it in a salad with celery, avocado, fresh dill, followed by a drizzle of olive oil, apple cider vinegar and agave with a pinch of salt and black pepper. As a high protein alternative to rice or pasta, it provides a good base for a veggie burger and is a yummy breakfast cereal when served with fresh almond milk and seasonal berries.
4. Sprouts (lentils, broccoli, clover, mung beans, alfalfa)
When sprouted, legumes and other seeds are crunchy and fresh, adding not only protein to your plate but a wide array of other vitamins and minerals. Dried seeds (lentils, mung beans, broccoli seeds) are incomplete proteins but when sprouted have an increase in all nine amino acids. To sprout your lentils, soak the seeds in room-temp water overnight. Rinse the lentils and store in a jar, turned upside-down (with mesh to hold them all in) in a cool place for a few days, rinsing twice a day. They’ll be ready when their sprout tails are as long as the seed.
How to eat?
Top on everything that goes in your mouth – salads, cooked dishes, veggies, even in smoothies!
5. Golden Berries (aka Incan Berries)
Indigenous to South America, these little berries have been cultivated in England, South Africa, Hawaii and many other countries. As a source of Vitamins A, Vitamin C, Vitamin B1, B2, B6 & B12, bioflavonoids, carotene, iron, dietary fiber, they are also high in protein, uncommon for a berry. By promoting eye health, these little guys are high in anti-oxidants and tout anti-inflammatory properties as well.
How to eat?
Just like a ‘sour raisin’, pop them in your mouth one by one, as a snack or mix with walnuts, lemon zest, chia and dates in a food processor and roll yourself a sweet and sour energy ball!
6. Beans (Black, Pinto)
Although not raw and harder to digest than hemp or algae, all sorts of cooked beans provide an abundance of protein for those looking to transition to a raw food diet or those who thrive on whole, plant-based foods.
How to eat?
Always rinse and soak beans overnight before cooking. Adding a few strips of kombu (seaweed) while cooking enhances their digestibility, just remove and discard before eating the beans. Beans go with anything! With quinoa, salsa and guacamole, you’ve got yourself a Mexican feast.
Best soaked in water or almond milk for 10 mins before eating, chia’s mucilaginous yet fibrous outer seed becomes jelly-like and will keep you full longer. The Aztecs and Mexican Tarahumara tribes used to use this superfood before battles and races.
How to eat?
Soak in water or fresh almond milk and eat with sprouted buckwheat, hemp hearts, cinnamon and sliced apples as a delicious breakfast cereal. You may also add Chia to sauces and spreads you wish to thicken. Sprinkle on salads too for a surprising crunch.
What about soy?
Tempeh is better than Tofu, being fermented and thus enhancing bioavailability and digestibility, but I personally choose to avoid all forms of soy considering the controversy around soy, the detrimental effects it has on the environment and possible links to infertility.
Make your own protein-packed salad booster!
1 cup hemp hearts
¼ cup chia seeds
¼ cup pumpkin seeds
2 tbsp spirulina
1-1½ tsp pink Himalayan salt (to taste)
Instructions: Mix together well and store in a mason jar. Sprinkle a tbsp on salads and all other savory dishes everyday. It will keep indefinitely in the fridge.
Because Maca is an emulsifier, when added to smoothies, soups or dressings, it can prevent separation of ingredients and keep liquids and oils smooth and well mixed. If you want to learn more about Maca just click here.
Mexican Maca Shake
2 ripe bananas
1/2 cup cashews (soaked 4 hrs and rinsed)
1⁄4 cup raw cacao powder
2 tbsp maca powder
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp cayenne
2 cups coconut water
Instructions: Blend all in a Vitamix or other high speed blender for at least two minutes until the shake becomes frothy and slightly warm!
The Best Raw Chocolate Ever
1 ¼ cup raw cacao butter
1 cup raw cacao powder
1 tbsp maca powder
¼ tsp vanilla powder
4 tbsp maple syrup
1 1/2 tbsp coconut oil
Pinch of sea salt
Instructions: Melt the cacao butter and the coconut oil on the lowest temperature in a frying pan on the stove top. Once melted completely, add along with the above ingredients to the food processor, process until a well-mixed paste forms. Scoop paste into an ice cube tray and refrigerate until hard. Pop them out and enjoy with a big smile at room temperature and try to share with others.
Maca Carrot Onion Crackers
4 large onions
1 cup golden flax seeds, freshly ground
2 cups of carrots, chopped
1 cup celery, chopped
1 cup hemp hearts
1 cup almonds, soaked and sprouted
¾ cup Nama Shoyu or Coconut Aminos
2/3 cup good quality extra virgin olive oil
4 tbsp maca powder
1 tbsp dried Italian herbs
Instructions: Mix the ingredients in a food processor until blended evenly, spread on dehydrator teflex sheets and score into cracker sized pieces. Dehydrate for 12 hours, flip and peel off teflex sheets, dehydrate for another 6 hours. Store in an air-tight container for up to 2 months.