A challenge that comes up a lot with my patients is how to make time to prepare real, nutrient-dense meals. Believe it or not, this crucial piece to your overall health does not have to be time-consuming. Whether you're an athlete, a nursing mom, or just a busy person, you can easily incorporate highly nutritious superfoods into your meals. Given the stresses of today's modern lifestyle, it's more important than ever to take advantage of super nutritious foods. Number one, you get some serious bang for your buck. And when you feed yourself real nutrition, your appetite and cravings naturally fall into balance.
What is a Superfood?
Superfood is a term used to describe foods that are extremely nutrient-dense. Superfoods have been used throughout time by most cultures around the world to increase energy, vitality and endurance. Thanks to online shopping, now we can order superfoods from all around the globe. Some of these exotic superfoods you may have heard of: acai, goji berries, maca root, mangosteen, amalaki, hemp, blue-green algae. Many common fruits and vegetables are also super nutritious: blueberries, kale, and pomegranate, to name a few.
The great thing about superfoods is that when you eat a meal composed of these nutrient-dense items, you supply high-quality, readily available nutrition to your cells. So your body actually gets nourished and doesn't get as hungry as often. Cravings for empty foods - processed foods - go away. When you look at all the foods in your typical meal, how many of them are nutrient-dense, and how many are relatively, or totally, empty?
If your food is empty, no wonder you get hungry just a short while later. Your body is still starving for nutrition.
This Week's Focus: Chia Seeds
It struck me this morning that Botox is one of those things that exemplifies American culture's determination to "band-aid" an imbalance rather than treat the root of the problem. We do it with everything, whether it's foreign relations, cleaning up the environment, or medicating kids with behavioral disorders. Outside of an emergency, long lasting solutions to any problem require addressing the root cause. This is the traditional approach to medicine in the Chinese and Ayurvedic traditions. Symptoms are treated by discerning the root cause and working to rectify that. Even in Europe, people have a broader perspective, and they approach a healthy diet and lifestyle as the best anti-aging medicine. The Italian homeopathic skin care program I've been writing about represents this different way of approaching health. Its "physiological regulating" method treats aging skin at the source - stimulating our own cells to initiate long-lasting repair.
As I've mentioned before, I am 100% supportive of women doing whatever makes them feel good about themselves. That's why I'm so excited about this different paradigm of skin care that nourishes beauty from within. The benefits of this medicine don't come at a price, so you can really feel good about using it. The lessening of wrinkles and the improvement in skin tone result from the liver, lymph, and skin matrix becoming cleaner and healthier!
There is an ancient Ayurvedic saying that a true medicine is that which heals one problem without creating another. How many examples of that can we find in American culture? Negative side effects are tolerated by the FDA as being standard for pharmaceutical drugs. Our government tries to establish peace by making war. Dermatologists prescribe cortisone cream for a rash rather than figuring out what's causing the rash. It's all very short-sighted. As if there's no other way.
There is another way. It just takes a little more discernment and self-responsiblity. This is not a novel idea - they've been doing it this way in other cultures for thousands of years. The good news is that Americans are turning more and more to natural, sustainable solutions. Anti-aging skin care from within is but one manifestation of this trend. Stay tuned for more news from the cutting edge of healthier skin!
I never thought I'd see my kids fight over kale. Everytime I make these kale chips, however, I wish I had made a whole bunch more. There's a million ways you can make them, and when I look around the Internet, I discover more combinations I'd never thought of. If you're not already on this kale bandwagon that's sweeping the nation, get on board right now and go make some!
Nutritional Benefits of Kale
Kale is one of the most nutritious foods you can eat. In only one cup of kale, you get 192% of your daily allowance of Vitamin A, and 88% of your daily Vitamin C. It contains 10% of your daily requirement of fiber and calcium as well. The phytonutrients in kale, along with the antioxidant properties of Vitamins A and C, make it a very effective defense against free radical damage, aka cancer. Kale actually helps to detoxify the body of harmful chemicals. With all of these benefits and low caloric value, the more you can eat of this stuff, the better. So make way more of these kale chips than you'd planned!
Basic Kale Chips Recipe
Wash and dry at least one bunch of curly kale. Cut the leaves off of the stalk and into small-ish pieces. Think chip-size!
Toss the kale pieces in extra-virgin olive oil and some Celtic or Himalayan salt.
Arrange on a cookie sheet and bake for 20 minutes at 250 degrees, or until dry and crispy but not too brown. Turn the leaves over a few times while cooking. Enjoy until they're gobbled up by everyone else.
Kale Chips Variations
I've tried several variations on the recipe that were also great. Get creative, and share your recipes in the comments below!
Always use olive oil, and try adding:
Parmesan, garlic and lemon juice.
Tamari and nutritional yeast.
Crushed almonds, balsamic vinegar, and bread crumbs.
These days just about everyone I know in Santa Fe is either suffering or just recovering from a nasty stomach flu. It seems these little buggers have become stronger and more obnoxious because hardly any adult or child seems to be immune to it. When this type of virus strikes, what can you do to shorten its duration? Here's some natural health tips from various traditions to ease the suffering and an excellent Ayurvedic recipe for your first meal when you're ready to start thinking about food.
Probiotics To The Rescue
One of the most important things you need to do when you come down with a stomach virus is to take a high quality probiotic supplement. We are exposed to harmful bacteria and viruses all the time, but they only "win" when either they are super-strength bugs, or when our own intestinal immunity is low.
I think it was Gilda Radner on Saturday Night Live who once said "It's always something." Now it's hexane in my veggie burgers. Remember hexane? It's an air pollutant and neurotoxin that is a byproduct of gas refining. Before you start to feel overwhelmed and pessimistic, read on. There are a few ethical companies who make chemical-free veggie burgers that you can be happy to buy from, or you can take the bigger leap and make your own with this easy, awesome, protein-packed recipe below.
Hexane and Soy
A recent article in Mother Jones magazine publicized an investigation by the Cornucopia Institute into the use of the chemical hexane to produce non-organic soy protein isolate, texturized vegetable protein, and soy protein concentrate. Hexane became famous as an air pollutant associated with oil refineries and is also a neurotoxin.
What if I told you that there was a way to satisfy your sweet tooth without actually eating anything sweet? By changing what you think of as sweet, you can really accomplish this. Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese medicine both emphasize the need to include all six tastes in your daily diet, so we still want to acknowledge the importance of the sweet flavor, just not sugar itself. Here's a revolutionary way for you honor your sweet cravings without feeding the desire for sugar.
Empty Sweets vs. Full Sweets
Traditional Chinese Medicine makes a beautiful and radical distinction between empty sweets and full sweets. Empty sweets are treats containing any sweetener. I'm talking raw sugar, honey, maply syrup, agave, brown rice syrup, barley malt syrup. You get the picture. While some sweeteners are certainly healthier than others, the point is that they are still empty sweets. They are called "empty" because while they momentarily satisfy a sweet craving, they do nothing to nourish our digestion, so we are left wanting it more and more.
Do you believe that everything happens for a reason? If we choose to have this faith, then even an accident is no longer just an accident. It can be seen as a warning sign that we're not paying attention to something important. I never thought I'd be thankful for an injury. But surprisingly, having a sprained ankle the size of a grapefruit has helped me to appreciate the power of slowing down.
Running on Adrenaline
According to Ayurveda, my own genetic constitution is predominantly Vata, otherwise known as Wind. By nature I tend to be active, verging on hyper if I don't take care to stay grounded. As I discussed in "The Yoga of (Un) Multi-Tasking", I usually operate by doing several things at once, especially with my kids. Like many people in our fast-paced society, I can thrive on an energy level that is akin to an adrenaline rush. There's an illusion in this way of life that we need to be super busy and fast in order to be productive. This can be described in Ayurvedic terms as a systemic Vata imbalance in Western society. Everyone is rushing around like the wind, doing too many things at the same time and often missing the joyful subtleties that only stillness can reveal. Especially in the dry, high-altitude climate here in Santa Fe, it's easy for the wind element to become aggravated.