A Guide to Feeding our Future

Archive for the ‘Health Tips’ Category

FEBRUARY Feature Food: Sprouts

By: Suzanne Brett, RHN – Victoria, BC

sprouts for Feb

Many of you may be questioning my knowledge about seasonal foods about now.  Sprouts?  Gardens aren’t sprouting yet!?   It’s still cold outside!   You’re correct.  Most soil in N America is NOT pushing out little green shoots at this point in the year, what I’m referring to are sprouting sprouts and microgreens, from sprouting seeds.

As mentioned in last month’s article, these cooler months do not provide us with many fresh fruits or veggies.  Sprouts are an easy and efficient way to ensure we are still getting enzymatic and nutrient dense foods that still taste crispy and fresh through the winter.  The best part is, we can make this happen in our own homes no matter what the temperature is outside AND kids love it.  Yay!  There are 2 simple methods to sprouting that I will include at the end of this post, so stay tuned.

Most of you may be familiar with the more common sprouts that we buy already sprouted, these are usually alfalfa, clover and bean sprouts.  Although, specific sprouting seeds come in many varieties, any beans, nuts and seeds can and SHOULD also be soaked and sprouted for proper digestion and nutrient absorption.  Sprouting seeds, in particular, are available in many health food and garden supply stores.  Daikon and white radish, mung beans, lentils, quinoa, broccoli, mizuna and kohlrabi are just some of the options available.

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Sprouting is a great way to ensure that we get the most out of our foods.  Sprouts contain an amazingly high nutrient content, especially if eaten raw.  They are known for being cleansing (particularly for the liver and colon), hydrating, and full of essential vitamins and minerals, as well as amino acids and Omegas 3 and 6.  Sprouts have a great cancer fighting ability (especially radish sprouts), they are great for supporting weight-loss and for increasing the body’s fat-burning ability.   They are also very supportive for the cardiovascular system due to the high folate and B6 content.  Sprouts are a great supporter for neurological support due to the high levels of thiamine (B1) and fatty acids.  They are amazing throughout pregnancy and breastfeeding by ensuring a high nutrient content for energy production and supporting a balanced hormonal system.  The more pungent sprouts, like daikon radish, kohlrabi and mizuna, are great for moving stagnant energy (qi) and for clearing the lungs and mucous.  Almost all sprouts are very high in Vitamin C, iron, and protein, making them an excellent immune strengthening food.  Some sprouts are high in Vit K and, with the combination of the rich water content and high Vit C, these sprouts are excellent for improving the function of the eyes, hair, nails and skin – especially for improving elasticity and development of collagen.

Just as an example, lentil sprouts alone are very high in protein, iron, Vit C, manganese, phosphorus , copper, flolate (B6), thiamine (B1), Fiber, Omega 6 and 3 and amino acids.  Add mung bean sprouts to the mix and you have more folate, Vit C, manganese, Omega’s AND Vit K.  If you add in some cleansing and clearing radish sprouts you have yourself a beautifully supportive and yummy salad, that is fresh and hydrating.

To try sprouting at home…first, if you have kids, get them involved.  They tend to get super excited about planting and especially sprouting, thus are more likely to EAT the delicious sprouts if they’re involved in the process.

There are 2 methods:

THE JAR:

sprouts in jars

1. Rinse and soak 2 tsp of seeds in a 1 L mason jar for aprox 6-8 hours, in about 1 cup of cool water, to begin the germination process.   Cover the jar with a sprouting lid.  If you don’t have one you can use a steel screen or mesh and an elastic band to secure it.  Drain.

2. Continue rinsing and refilling 2x a day for 3-6 days.  Place the jar on an angle, lid facing into a bowl or sink.

3.  Watch them grow!  Once sprouts have fully formed and the jar is full of tails, drain well and place them in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4-5 days.

sprout

THE SPROUTING TRAY:

A proper sprouting tray is great, but if you don’t have one, a garden starter pan with a cookie sheet underneath will also work, so long as it has proper drainage holes on the bottom.

  1. Rinse and soak ½ cup of seeds in a bowl for 6-8 hours. Drain.  Sprinkle seeds onto the bottom of the tray and cover with a sprouting tray lid, plastic bag/wrap or cheesecloth.
  2. Rinse the seeds 2x a day for 3-6 days under the tap or with a mister, draining them properly and replacing the cover.
  3. Once sprouts have fully formed and the tray is full of tails, drain well and place them in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4-5 days.

Note: For micro greens, use the tray method and sow seeds into a veggie soil as if making starter plants but sprinkling seeds much more freely.  Water 1x/day for 8-12 days.  Once sprouted, use small kitchen scissors to trim greens directly from the tray.

TO EAT:

For maximum nutritional value, I recommend eating sprouts raw – although many can be cooked.  Raw sprouts can be made into sandwiches, wraps, spreads/pates, placed on top of stirfrys, soups, curries, crackers, stews or made into fresh salads.  Get creative and share your sprouting experiences with us here anytime!  We love to hear how you enjoy your healthy foods!

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JANUARY Feature Food: Millet

By: Suzanne Brett, RHN – Victoria, BC

In the cool month of January, we’re all ready to wind down after the holiday hustle and we’re in need of warming nourishing foods.  It’s that time when we tend to begin thinking about our health and energy levels after all those holiday meals and sweets.   Potatoes and other starchy foods might not be what we’re craving this time of year, but healthy whole grains are a great energy source and are one of those foods that are available to nourish us during the winter months.  So, without further ado, let me introduce millet as a restorative and healthy alternative to many other grains and starchy vegetables.

Millet-rainbow

Millet is usually a small, pale-yellow, ancient grain that looks similar to couscous or corn and is somewhere in between in size.  Although there are other varieties that are less common and are a more reddish-brown or black in colour.  This grain’s origin is primarily Africa where they harvest it, grind it into flour and make that delicious roti flat bread that helps us shovel yummy spicy curries into our mouths.  Mmmmm…

bajra roti

Millet is a great gluten-free alternative, it’s generally not a reactive food as it contains few oxalates and it contains many health promoting properties.  Millet is one of the few grains that is considered alkaline forming, meaning its PH level after digestion has a more alkaline effect on the body than acidic, as opposed to many other grains that show up on the acidic side of the chart.

Like many other grains, Millet is a great source of lignans.  Lignans are also found in berries, nuts, seeds, teas and many whole grains.  Lignans are known to be protective against hormone-related cancers, and heart disease.

This brilliant grain holds a significant amount of Magnesium, which is proven to be quite effective in regulating blood pressure and insulin/glucose levels for those with Type 2 diabetes.  Magnesium is also a co-factor in regulating metabolism and, along with the great amounts of copper in Millet, it helps create healthy cellular function, thus providing us with a lively energy that keeps our fires aflame for 2015!  Copper is also an anti-oxidant which can prove to be most useful this time of year when we need to begin thinking about detoxifying all those harmful holiday chemicals.


How to cook Millet:
millet-measuring cup

Millet is as easy to cook as any other grain.  It needs 2 cups of water to 1 cup of grains, just like rice or quinoa.  If you prefer to use it as a porridge in the morning, you could add 2 cups of fruit juice as well as the 2 cups of water to get a sweeter and more porridge-like consistency.  Millet takes about 20-30 minutes to cook.

millet-cooked

My favorite way of eating millet is to toast it in a dry pan on medium heat for about 10 minutes or until it begins to become golden and THEN transferring it into a pot or grain cooker with 1 cup water and 1 cup bone broth.   This fashion makes the grain taste a bit more nutty and toasty and adds more minerals and restorative nutrients from the broth for that winter comforting feeling.  I usually serve it with fried tempeh and steamed greens, drizzled with a tad of tamari, sesame oil and a few pumpkin seeds.  Very simple, quick and satiating.

I hope you enjoy your new-found love of Millet and kick your New Year off with an excellent start by making great healthy food choices and visiting us at the Educated Eater often for many more health and lifestyle tips.

Health Tip: Getting your vitamin D!

By: Susan Kingston, RHN – Montreal, QC

Vitamin D – Essential and Scarce!

We all know the value of vitamin D to absorb calcium, but not everyone is aware of its many functions and the co-nutrients needed to absorb and utilize this essential fat-soluble nutrient.

Vitamin D is vital for our endocrine system (system of hormones). It is also essential for our nervous system – without it, neither system would function properly our ability to handle stress would diminish drastically. Our immune system is also weakened without it, allowing all kinds of pathogens to take over, and leaving us susceptible to stronger reactions to food intolerances.

In Canada, Vitamin D becomes quite hard to get because our skin absorbs it from the sun, and as we lose our long hours of sun and warmth, there is a great reduction in the amount of time our skin is exposed.

Some ways you can keep your vitamin D levels up to par is through food. The best sources are salmon, mackerel, and other fish. Cod liver oil (just as Grandma said 😉 ), is an excellent source, as well as a great source of vitamin A and Omega 3. For those with food intolerances, Vitamin A is essential for digestion, and Omega 3 reduces inflammation caused by intolerances.

An important co-nutrient required to absorb and utilize vitamin D, which may actually surprise you, is cholesterol. Cholesterol and vitamin D combined are crucial to brain function, and studies have shown a link to Alzheimer’s with low levels of vitamin D.

So please try to get as much sun as possible, and in the winter, if you only supplement with one thing, make it vitamin D for your body and brain function! And please don’t be afraid to include healthy cholesterol/saturated fats in your diet such as egg yolks, raw cheese, kefir, yogurt, poultry, grass fed beef, butter, wild fish and coconut oil – to get the best out of the Vitamin D that you do get!

Health Tip: Time to Cleanse!

By: Susan Kingston, RHN – Montreal, QC

This time of year is a good time to talk about fall cleansing. The natural times to do cleanses are in the spring and fall, and fall is the time when we cleanse parasites and large intestine for any bacterial overgrowth caused by critters on our fresh fruits and vegetables in the summer, not mention those rare or medium rare steaks cooked on the BBQ ;-)!

Parasites and bacteria cause a strain on the system, and taking the toxic load off of your body will better prepare you for a healthy winter, avoiding the many ‘colds and flus’ that so many people experience. It can also reduce inflammation in the body and the brain—clearing brain fog and helping us to be sharp and centered! Along with these benefits, food intolerances can be reduced as we clean up our bodies and heal our intestinal environment.

I’d like to share with you some cleansing anti-parasitic/anti-candida/anti-bacterial herbs and foods to focus on in the fall, so if you decide to get cleaned up before winter, you will know the best route to go.

Foods to support cleansing:

  • Organic meats (grass fed beef, chicken)
  • Wild caught ocean fish
  • Dark leafy greens and all non-starchy raw and cooked vegetables-juicing is excellent as well
  • Garlic, onions
  • Saurkraut, kimchi, and other fermented vegetables
  • Beef and chicken broths–soups and stews
  • Coconut oil
  • Lemons, limes
  • Lots of pure filtered water

Herbs:

  • Oil of oregano
  • Grapefruit seed extract
  • Clove
  • Black Walnut
  • Olive Leaf
  • Pau-D’Arco
  • Uva Ursi
  • Cinnamon Bark
  • Peppermint

I would like to add that if you are not in excellent health, it is always best to consult with your holistic practitioner before embarking on a cleansing protocol in order to do it safely and use the products and foods best suited to you. And those of you who decide not to consult, then please make sure you drink lots of water, and are having regular bowel movements every day so you do not end up ill with toxic build up as your body clears critters!

Health tip: Note Your Motivation for Eating (cont’d)

By: Hollie M. Hunt-Last, D. C’Ed. ROHP/RHN – Moncton, NB

As previously mentioned, most commonly, there are two main ways that food is used regarding emotions : to push emotion down into suppression, or to fill an emotional void with fulfillment. Examples of each these were given last month.

NOW, to conclude this line of thought – here’s an example of a situation that entails both suppression and fulfillment : Could it be because you are bored, and without a distraction your thoughts turn in on you, prompting you to eat so that you do not hear (you’re suppressing) your disturbing thoughts? Does the boredom bring up for you a feeling of lacking something in life? In a case like this, you may eat to feel more fulfilled because it also fills in a temporary gap.

Exercise:

Whenever you are eating (and also when you’re not hungry),  inquire within to find out what’s really going on: which motivation to you experience more – suppression or fulfillment? What is the emotion behind that motivation? By becoming more conscious of the motivation behind your eating, you’ll be better able to adjust your habits by addressing the motivation, not just the resulting behaviour that you want to improve.

Health Tip: Note Your Motivation for Eating (cont’d)

By: Hollie M. Hunt-Last, D. C’Ed. ROHP/RHN – Moncton, NB

As mentioned over the last couple of months in this health tip series, most commonly, there are two main ways that food is used regarding emotions : to push emotion down into suppression, or to fill an emotional void with fulfillment. I gave an example of using food for suppression last month. Below are examples of fulfillment:

Examples of using food for fulfillment:

Is it that you are feeling lonely and need nurturing that food seems to provide for you? Does it make you feel warm inside when you turn to food to take away pain? Like grandma’s apple pie? What about “drowning your sorrows” in ice cream? Has there ever been an opportunity presented to you of something you really wanted, yet you stopped yourself from moving forward into something really fulfilling? Then to fill the void, you focused on food more in your life and gained weight after this point? “I am happy and content when I eat” would be this behaviours’ mantra.

We may use the same foods for both the suppression and fulfillment behaviours. Is it always that cut and dry? Hardly. There are even examples of when these two behviours combine! Check in with us again next month to discuss examples of combined motivations and for questions to ask yourself regarding your own motivation for eating!

Health Tip: Dealing With Gluten Intolerance

By: Susan Kingston, RHN, NNCP – Montreal, QC

Gluten intolerance has been linked to Alzheimer’s Disease, Ataxia, Reynaud’s Disease, and many other neurological problems. Avoiding it is crucial to those who are intolerant.

Recent research is also now showing that even those without a clinical intolerance should be limiting wheat, as it is not what it used to be due to alterations in the protein. Even a strong body can react with inflammation and disruptions to intestinal permeability, leading to ‘leaky gut syndrome’, causing ill effects on the body and brain.

Some helpful hints on avoiding gluten:

  • Make your own gluten free bread, cookies, muffins, etc.
  • Buy products labelled “gluten free”
  • Avoid processed foods, soups, sauces, and soy sauce which often contain hidden gluten
  • Avoid coffee which can cross react with gluten making your immune system believe you have eaten gluten
  • Ask diligent questions when eating out such as: Are salad dressings and sauces made in-house or brought in? Can they give you a homemade one or just lemon and olive oil? Is there a gluten-free menu?Are foods cooked on the same grill as gluten products, or in the same deep fryer? Be the cautious customer!

Being gluten free is not always easy, but being disciplined about the foods you put in your body will reward you for a lifetime, staving off modern day ailments such as auto-immune disease, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease – not to mention the devastating effects of diseases such as Alzheimer’s and other cognitive disorders.