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Raw Greek Gazpacho

This is a great little recipe I found on line. All those fresh summer veggies, especially if you have some home grown! So easy to make and refreshing. Tastes even better the next day.

3-5 ripe seasonal heirloom tomatoes, coarsely chopped
1/2 cucumber, seeded, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup pitted Kalamata olives
1/2 cup or so feta or Gorgonzola cheese, try to find a soft variety
1/4 cup purple onion, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup fresh garden parsley and/or basil
4 Tbsp tomato juice
1 Tbsp fresh lemon or lime juice
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
Salt & pepper to taste

Place all ingredients in a blender or food processor. If you are working with a smaller machine, simply work in batches.

Blend until desired consistency is achieved and season to taste. If you find the soup too thick for your taste, you can adjust by adding a little water, vegetable stock or olive oil, as desired.

Garnish with small pieces of chopped cucumber, onion, feta and olive.

Yummy!

The Sugar Trap

Enjoy this six part playlist of a documentary from 1986 on the dangers of toxic sugar.

This is a lecture presented by Dr. Robert Lustig on March 24, 2011 on the effects of sugar on the human body. With the obesity epidemic going global, this is important information on how to curb it.



The Drugging of our Children

Watch this video to see how parents are being forced to give their children drugs such as Ritalin and anti-depressants like Prozac. The kids are being diagnosed with ADD, Attention Deficit Disorder, for displaying behavior that is strikingly similar to that of simply having too much sugar in their diet. This documentary was made by Gary Null, PhD, and includes Michael Moore as a commentator.

Taking a break from Alcohol

I have always known that when we drink too much alcohol we become “intoxicated”, but I never appreciated the implications of this “intoxication”. I was not aware of the details regarding what actually takes place inside our body when we take a drink or two, or five. 

The following is an excerpt from The Quantum Wellness Cleanse by Kathy Freston.  In her book, she does an excellent job of describing what happens to our bodies, specifically the brain when we imbibe.  I hope you will find this information as helpful as I have in your quest to detoxify your life.
 
How Alcohol Works in the Brain
 
Alcohol can interfere with the brain’s chemical messengers, specifically the neurotransmitters serotonin, GABA (gamma-amino butyric acid), and dopamine.  Neurotransmitters will either encourage and quicken, or slow down and cease, impulses between neurons in the brain, dramatically affecting our moods, our ability to think clearly, and the signals the brain sends to the body.  It’s not a stretch to say that how our neurotransmitters are functioning affects how we experience the world and ourselves.

            Serotonin affects our thinking patterns, memory, appetite, body temperature, and endocrine regulation.  Dopamine is involved with feelings of pleasure and reward.  (That’s why it is affected by nearly all addictive drugs.  Stop feeding your brain these pleasure-giving substances and dopamine levels go into instant decline, making you acutely aware of its absence, which is why it’s so hard to quit.) GABA is involved in memory and cognitive functioning.  Alcohol ingestion has, to a greater or lesser extent, some impact on all these functions.  How does that happen?

            For one, drinking alcohol temporarily increases the level of serotonin in the brain, which in turn increases its influence on mood and thinking, elevating each.  This is why we often crave a drink at the end of a tough day.  Stress and modern life decrease our serotonin level, and alcohol is one of the quickest and easiest ways to raise it.  Once you take a drink, that alcohol begins circulating throughout your bloodstream within five minutes.  Your serotonin level goes up and you feel better.

            However, this is just an artificial boost, and those serotonin levels can fall just as fast as they rise.  On top of that, excess alcohol, or continued use, can actually lower serotonin levels overall, causing mood swings, depression, and other problems related to serotonin depletion.  It also interferes with the essential amino acid tryptophan, the precursor to serotonin; tryptophan has been called “nature’s Prozac,” and although that is an overstatement, it does help us feel relaxed, with a general sense of well-being.

            GABA, by contrast, is an inhibitor, meaning it inhibits signals between neurons, and alcohol heightens its effect.  Since GABA is involved in many areas of the brain, multiple functions will show signs of slowdown.  The most obvious are motor skills.  Sluggish motor response can be seen in anyone who has “had a few.”  This can also affect memory, making associations and connections slow and difficult.

            As for dopamine, which is associated with reinforcement behavior and feelings of reward, alcohol boosts its level as well.  These increases can easily lead to the loss of inhibition and judgment, a quality that makes alcohol consumption so popular?  Dopamine also gives one a feeling of well-being, and when it is in decline, the urge to raise it again can be overpowering.  After the initial effects of alcohol wear off, dopamine levels fall below their normal non-drinking state.  This is another reason why even moderate drinkers can feel deprived if they don’t have a glass or two.

            Alcohol has strong effects – not all of which are understood – on these neurotransmitters, each of which has some effect on one or more of the others.  But what is clear is that drinking even moderately does not leave us with our nature-given brain chemistry, and what we do drink, in large part, to affect that chemistry.  And even beyond that, our brain chemistry is actually affecting our desire to drink.  See the vicious cycle we can get caught up in?

            Let’s take a deeper look at the mechanism through which alcohol is metabolized in the body: metabolism is the process by which the substances we eat and drink are converted into other compounds, most less toxic than the original, some more.  Because our bodies treat alcohol as a toxin, a poison to be purged (because, for your liver, that’s exactly what it is), it is detoxified and removed from the blood through the process of oxidation.  The liver is where most of the metabolism takes place.

            But the liver can only metabolize a certain amount of alcohol in any given time, no matter how much is consumed, and that rate is affected by genetics, which vary from person to person.  Generally, the liver metabolizes alcohol more slowly than the body absorbs it into the bloodstream so when we drink, a certain amount of the alcohol nearly always affects the body and the brain.

            Curiously, alcohol does not raise your blood sugar level.  In and of itself it will actually lower it.  What does raise our blood sugar level when we drink are the carbohydrates contained in the drink, and that is what is turned into glucose in our body.  Alcohol actually inhibits the liver from releasing glycogen (carbohydrates stored in the liver and released for energy when you’re between meals), which is how it lowers blood sugar overall.  Your liver treats the alcohol like a toxin and goes about the detoxification process, putting off releasing glycogen until it is complete.  And since this is a slow process, that means you can go without a steady release of glycogen for a long time, which can lead to hypoglycemia (low blood sugar).

            Further compounding their effects, most alcoholic drinks have a high simple carbohydrate content because of the sugars in them (i.e., the grapes in wine, the malt in beer or Scotch), and this will flood your system with glucose.  Your pancreas releases insulin in order to handle the glucose at the same time that the liver is impaired by detoxification.  What you can get is a fluctuating blood sugar level with all its attendant problems (including insulin resistance).  Something to keep in mind: good health depends on stable blood sugar levels.

            This is why it is much easier to give up sugar and alcohol at the same time.  If you were trying to quit one without the other, you’d still have to deal with destabilized blood sugar levels and the quitting would be much harder.  You might notice a friend who has given up drinking alcohol addictively turn to eating sweets in large amounts; this is because their system is used to being loaded up on sugar, and they haven’t quite gotten off that old sugar/insulin roller coaster.  To achieve a healthy state of equilibrium, it’s wise to forego all the substances that will throw your system back into the old craving cycles.

            Alcohol causes stress-related issues in the body as well.  One way is by raising Cortisol levels.  Cortisol is the “stress hormone,” and elevated levels of it can destabilize blood sugar levels and also add fat to the body by keeping us in continuous, low-grade fight-or-flight metabolism.  Alcohol also depletes vitamins B6 and B12 as well as folic acid – nutrients the body needs to cope with stress – and can interfere with REM sleep, leaving you less rested when you wake up in the morning.

The Benefits of Taking a Break
So, you see, alcohol puts stress on your body in a number of ways and an occasional break does your body a favor.  You give your brain a chance to find its natural, uninterfered-with chemical balance.  Your body is once again able to produce serotonin at healthy levels, and this includes recovering from its daily depletion from stress without artificial stimulation.  You are able to keep dopamine in balance so your brain isn’t always craving a drink to temporarily elevate its levels.  The fact is, if given the chance, the brain has an amazing capacity to readjust neurotransmitter levels and effectiveness all by itself, and clearing it of alcohol frees it to do that.
            Also, by reducing the toxin load, you give your liver the opportunity to regenerate itself (unless it has already experienced serious scarring-cirrhosis- from heavy drinking).  And the liver is brilliant at doing this.  Remember, your body reacts to alcohol as though it were a poison and the liver gives priority to metabolizing it out of the system, putting on hold the important function of releasing glycogen to stabilize blood sugar levels.  If you want your liver to heal itself from a lifetime of heavy (or even mostly moderate) alcohol use, and you want to see your blood sugar levels reach the optimum range for good health, it is a good idea to give yourself this kind of “vacation”.

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Seasonal Super Foods

Nutritional deficiencies, free radicals and viral pathogens are the cause of disease. Their #1 prohibitor is anti-oxidants found in super foods.

Nuts
Nuts help control weight and protect from certain cancers. They are a wonderful plant-based protein, high in fiber and a good source of mono-unsaturated fats that protect the heart.

Now is a good time to buy nuts in the shell and shell your own or freshly shelled. They will store indefinitely in the freezer.

Click here for more information on the nutritional value of nuts and their individual properties.

Brussels Sprouts
Brussels sprouts have beta carotene and flavonoids that are especially protective against cancer, actually interacting with DNA to prevent specific cancers. Also a good source of Thiamin, Riboflavin, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus and Copper, and a very good source of Dietary fiber, Vitamins A, C, and K, Folate, Potassium and Manganese.

A light steam with a little spray of coconut oil and salt and pepper – Delicious!
You can dehydrate these too. Cut them in half and soak in ice water for from 4 hours to overnight. Dry and sort on dehydrator trays. Sprinkle with salt and dry for about 12 hours or to doneness. You can coat them with different spices too like the kale chips.

Click here for more information on the nutritional value of this cold-season powerhouse.

Pomegranates
Pomegranates are rich in Vitamin C and fiber. They contain antioxidant, anti-inflammatory anthocyanins that benefit blood vessels, the nervous system and the eyes, and have been found to inhibit the growth of tumor cells.

This fruit makes a wonderful juice. Cut the fruit in half and push out from the bottom into a bowl of water. Loosening the seeds under water helps keep the juice from splashing. It still splashes a little so be careful. The outer peeling will float to the top, so take out as much as you can, drain the seeds and you are left with a bowl of pomegranate seeds. At this point you can eat them or put them through a juicer. It is quite delicious!

Click here for more information on this ancient wonder.

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Forks over Knives

This is a trailer for a new documentary. It has just recently been made available on Netflix streaming. Highly recommend watching. Dr. McDougall has a part in it too!

Spirulina Breakfast Bites

These bites are made almost entirely of superfoods and make for a great, healthy snack to have either for breakfast or on-the-go!





Ingredients

  • ½ cup raw cashews
  • 1 Tbsp spirulina
  • 1 Tbsp raw cacao powder (or nibs)
  • 1 Tbsp raw maca powder
  • 1 scoop protein powder (Life's Basics Vanilla is highly recommended)
  • 1 Tbsp maple syrup (optional)
  • 2 Tbsp agave nectar (use 3 Tbsp if not using maple syrup)
  • 1 cup strawberries
  • ¼ cup dried goji berries

Method

1) Blend dry ingredients (first five) in a blender.
2) Add syrup(s), and blend until a dough forms.
3) Empty dough into a mixing bowl.
4) Liquefy strawberries in the blender.
5) Pour liquid onto dough, add goji berries, and mix well.
6) Line a cookie sheet with foil or wax paper.
7) Using heaping tablespoonfuls, plop dough onto the cookie sheet evenly spaced.
      (should get about 9 plops)
8) Turn oven on to lowest setting ("warm", or about 120 degrees),
      and place cookie sheet in oven overnight (or about 8 hrs).
9) Remove from oven, and enjoy! :)

*Note: Bites may be wrapped individually and stored at room temperature for easy, on-the-go snacks.

Estimated Nutritional Content (using all ingredients listed above)
Calories: 82
Fat: 2g    Sat. Fat: 0g
Chol.: 0mg
Sod.: 17mg
Carb.: 12g    Fiber: 2g    Sugar: 7g
Protein: 4.5g

22% Fat, 57% Carb, 21% Protein

Cholesterol

Cholesterol is a hard waxy fatty substance that is only found in foods from animal sources such as eggs, meat, dairy products, fish, and shelfish. Plant foods do not contain cholesterol. In the minds of most people cholesterol is a bad thing synonymous with blocked arteries and heart attacks. However, it is only excess cholesterol in the body that causes problems and reasonable amounts of cholesterol are vital for human metabolism. Cholesterol is needed to give cell membranes a certain amount of required stiffness. The glands of the endocrine system use cholesterol as the raw material for making hormones, such as sex hormones (estrogen, progesterone and androgens) and cortisone. Vitamin D is made from cholesterol and the liver makes bile from cholesterol. The body can make all the cholesterol it needs from dietary proteins, fats, and sugars and does not depend upon food sources of cholesterol. In other words you can be perfectly healthy even if you don't eat any foods containing cholesterol, as your body will manufacture all the cholesterol it needs if your levels get too low. The more calories you consume from protein, sugar, and non essential fatty acids the more cholesterol your body will make, so you can end up with high cholesterol levels just by eating too much, even though you may not be eating any cholesterol-containing foods.

Although your body can make cholesterol, once made, it cannot break it down, so you can see that it is easy for an excess to occur. cholesterol can only be removed from the body by the liver in the form of bile. A healthy liver will pump cholesterol via the bile, out into the intestines; however, if dietary fiber is absent, over 90% of the cholesterol and bile acids are reabsorbed from the bowel back to the liver. This form of recycling over works the liver and may cause high cholesterol levels in those on a low-fiber diet.

Doctors advise patients to keep their total cholesterol levels below 200 mg/dl, and to do this you need to follow a balanced diet and you also need a healthy liver. We tend to forget the master fat-burner and regulator-the liver! If your liver is healthy it will discard excess cholesterol via the bile and pump it out into the intestines where it can be carried away in high-fiber foods through the bowel actions.

You also need a healthy liver to prevent excess cholesterol in the bloodstream from being dumped into plaques on the inner lining of your blood vessels. To keep blood cholesterol in a safe form you need plenty of high density lipoproteins (HDLs) as these act as scavengers and pick up free cholesterol in the blood and carry it back to the liver to be reused or turned into bile. Lipoproteins must be manufactured by the liver, as they are not found in foods, and many people with a sluggish liver do not produce sufficient high-density lipoproteins (HDLs).

Certain compounds widely dispersed in vegetables, including barley, act as powerful drugs to suppress the liver's internal production of cholesterol. This is a major reason vegetarians have much less heart disease, they are on a constant regimen of cholesterol-lowering compounds.

Chemicals that clamp down on the liver's manufacture of cholesterol have been reported in garlic, orange peel, ginseng, anise, lemon grass oil, alfalfa, olive oil, beer (from the hopps), grapes, wine, as well as, of course, barley, rye oats, and beans.

By eating plants, including grains, you infuse your body with a perpetual dose of pharmacologically active compounds that act as natural drugs to keep your heart and vascular system functioning better, your blood freer of dangerous cholesterol, your digestive processes working better, and your system less prey to certain cancers. Raw vegetables are full of enzymes and live atoms needed to keep your body functioning properly while cooking vegetables removes a large amount of their beneficial properties.

Raw vegetable and/or fruit juices made with a juice extracting machine are recommended as a good aid in cleansing the liver. The following raw juice combinations are recommended for liver trouble:
Carrot, beet & cucumber
Carrot & spinach
Carrot
Carrot, beet & coconut
Carrot, celery & parsley
Carrot, dandelion & lettuce


"And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for food." Gen 1:29

Sources:Fresh vegetable and fruit juices by N.W. Walker D. Sc., The Liver cleansing diet by Dr. Sandra Cabot, The Food Pharmacy by jean Carper.