A Guide to Feeding our Future

Posts tagged ‘suzanne brett rhn’

AUGUST Feature Food: Blackberries

By: Suzanne Brett, RHN – Victoria, BC

Hi everyone!  My sweet babe is due in a couple weeks, so this is the last month of posts for me until I have a baby with a somewhat regular sleeping schedule.  So read up and take this time to review last years posts too!  Don’t forget to comment and share!

We finally had a tad of rain…or shall I say a massive thunder storm, here in Victoria last week.  Lightning hit just down the street from us! WHOA!  It was fun!  Out of that lovely storm, came bright juicy blackberries!  Thank you rain, just what we needed after a drought.

blackberries for the month of August

As we know, many berries are known for being high in antioxidants. Antioxidant-rich foods are foods that are proven to reduce free-radical damage to our cells.  These free-radicals can be disease (especially cancer) causing. Did you know, that blackberries are one of the highest in antioxidants and most available to us? Most places in Canada are flourishing with this invasive delicious bush. Don’t just walk by…make sure you carry a jar or a basket on your walks, just in case you run into some trail-side or road-side berries.

Blackberries, like many other berries are rich in nutrients and not so much in calories.  So, munch away! The high amounts of vitamins and minerals like A, C, K, manganese, folate, magnesium and potassium make these berries particularly helpful in supporting our bones, tissues and mucous membranes, as well as the G.I. tract and the immune system, and our production of collagen production, iron and enzymes.

Not enough reason to eat them?…How about for lowering your cholesterol levels?  Blood sugar control? Or for brain power?

Blackberries are an amazing brain, hormone and heart food whose flavanoids and high fiber help to increase blood flow to the heart and brain; therefore decreasing harmful inflammation that can lead to high cholesterol, memory loss and learning difficulty.  Like many other berries, they are also known for decreasing insulin spikes and drops, helping balance blood sugar levels.

So, find a friend or take the family and go pick some local blackberries! If you end up with so many that you can’t just snack on them, try my tasty popsicle recipe:

Blackberry Fig Popsicles

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So, I’ve been planning on making popsicles for when I’m in labor.  Today, I finally had my chance. I made blackberry fig popsicles.  I added lemon and used maple syrup as the sweetener so that I’d have a few extra electrolytes to increase my endurance. The same thing could be done for anyone who’s been working, playing or training hard, especially in the sun.

Feel free to use just blackberries and forget the figs, or use any other berry/fruit as well.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups fresh blackberries
  • 4 peeled fresh figs
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup sweetener (maple syrup, honey, agave… your choice!)
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (or less if you prefer them less tart)

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Directions:

  1. Heat water, sweetener and lemon juice in a small sauce pan over medium heat until slightly syrupy. Approx 15 mins.
  2. Purée the blackberries and figs in your blender.
  3. Strain the purée through a fine-mesh sieve. Press down with a spoon to push the juice through.  You should be left with aprox. 2 cups of purée.  Discard the seeds.
  4. Stir the lemon syrup into the purée.
  5. Spoon or pour the purée into your popscicle molds.
  6. I used these awesome silicone push pops (Figured they were less messy for holding during contractions 😉 )
  7. If you decide to use wooden popscicle sticks, make sure you have a place in your freezer where they can stand straight, so the sticks stay in place.  Or freeze them half way (about 30 mins) and then insert the sticks to continue freezing.
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JUNE Feature Food: Radishes

By: Suzanne Brett, RHN – Victoria, BC

radishes for the month of june

Fresh radishes dusted with a tad of dirt, straight from the garden are my favorite!  Almost as good as a juicy carrot.  Some people think radishes are too spicy or pungent for their tastes and they prefer them cooked, shredded fine or pickled.  Others, like me, crave that detoxifying nourishing root.

The pungent spicy flavour that some of you may be adverse to is due to the fact that radishes are a part of the cruciferous (or brassica) family. All of those slightly bitter greens, like mustard greens or cabbages like kohlrabi, contain phytochemicals that produce that strong flavour. For those with some certain hormonal conditions like thyroid issues, it’s imperative to cook all vegetables from this family.  Doing so removes the oxalic acids that cause this flavour and that can directly block your thyroid from functioning optimally. For those not concerned about this hormonal disruptor, munch on!  If you are cautious or struggling to re-balance hormones, the recipe at the bottom of this post is a great simple way for you to enjoy the benefits of radishes while eliminating that thyroid-blocking agent, and pungency.

Medicinal Benefits

Radishes are known to be protective against many chronic or acute toxicity conditions.  The original radish was actually deep purple or black.  This colour is known to be more powerful in promoting the efficacy of those phytonutrient warriors battling our free-radicals and flushing excess chemicals and hormones from our systems.  For this I am grateful! Thank you, radish!  These little friends are great used in detoxification and cleansing protocols.  Also a super hero in fighting and preventing many cancer battles and protecting against common colds and flues.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) we look at the connections between certain flavour profiles and which organs they are related to.  Pungent is related to the large intestines and lungs.  It’s that pungency that exists in many of these cruciferous foods.  Think about a strong mustard or wasabi, which are also pungent foods, and how they can really get your respiratory system flowing, right?!  Same thing here…some are just a tad gentler than others, depending on variety and quantity, but radishes are known to do the same thing.  They’ll help strengthen and tone the lungs, helping clear blood vessels of toxicity and moving the blood-circulating oxygen into our respiratory systems.  They will also stimulate appetite and improve metabolism by stimulating the digestive system.

Radishes are also known as a balancing or neutral food in TCM.  Certain foods are considered yin or yang, hot or cold, masculine or feminine… and radishes are considered balancing because they are neither hot or cold, or just enough of hot and cold to balance itself out.  We often refer to root vegetables as a balancing and calming food. Some, but not all of them are considered balanced in the TCM approach.  To someone like me, this makes radishes awesome!  A real super food!

Recipe: Roasted Radishes and Brussel Sprouts

Here’s a simple radish recipe you can use with any other cruciferous vegetable.  This time of year, instead of brussel sprouts, cauliflower may be more available to you and is a great replacement in this recipe.

roasted brussels and radishes
Ingredients:

  • 1 lb Brussels sprouts, halved
  • ½ pound red radishes, halved (quartered if large)
  • 1 TBSP coconut oil
  • A few sprigs of fresh rosemary
  • ½ cup of walnuts or pumpkin seeds
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • ¼ cup balsamic vinegar, reduced by at least half, or until thick

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400° degrees.
  2. Cut sprouts from stem, cut large ones in half, peel stem and cut into similar sized chunks. Toss in large bowl with coconut oil, rosemary and radishes.
  3.  Space on a large roasting pan and place in top rack of the oven. If you have a convection oven, turn it on, watching they don’t burn. This will cut your cooking time in half.
  4. Roast until brussel leaves are brown and crisp and heads are tender and brown. Radishes will be lightly browned but still crunchy.
  5. Remove and plate.
  6. Drizzle with balsamic reduction and sprinkle with nuts or seeds.

MARCH Feature Food: Oysters

By: Suzanne Brett, RHN – Victoria, BC

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Well, spring is in the air here in Victoria, though it may not be that way across the rest of N America, it’s still time to begin thinking about your garden. Because there’s no time like the present, and for us it comes faster than the East Coast. Whether you have a small garden bed, a few pots on the deck, a yard or a farm. Get those seeds germinating and that soil nourished and ready to go!

That’s all I have to say about gardens, I just thought I’d get you ready for next month. Now on to oysters… The reason I thought of oysters for this month’s article is because they’re nearing the end of their season and I still haven‘t touched on them. And in all honesty, because they’re my favourite recommendation for clients with zinc deficiencies; also for anyone who’s trying to become pregnant this spring! Spring makes me think of creation, beginnings, new desires, fresh eyes and clear minds, oh, and also, sexual desire. For all, or at least many, of those things, we need protein, zinc, iron, Omega 3’s, Vit C and B12 – ALL of which oysters are chalk full of!

I realize that there may be many of you who are allergic to shellfish or don’t have a taste for it. If that’s the case, don’t stop reading, simply learn and pass on the information to others who may love to know, they’ll appreciate your knowledge. And just because we can’t have something, doesn’t mean someone we love can’t enjoy it.

Great Date Food

I know Valentine’s day has come and gone, but I’d like to remind everyone that it’s important to appreciate our most loved and desired person any day of the year. So let’s start with increasing libido! Just to get your attention. We’ve all heard that oysters are great date food and that, after consumption we often want to jump into bed with our partners. But do we know why? Oysters are proven to increase testosterone and estrogen levels and are full of zinc, calcium, potassium and iron. All of which are essential nutrients to help increase the production of blood flow and healthy sperm count. The blood literally pumps through to our genitals increasing our desires, while the nutrients work to produce a great supply of active sperm and fertile eggs. Zinc is also known to help increase our sensory organs, thus making us want to taste, touch, see, hear and smell the pheromones of the ones we desire most.

A Zinc Powerhouse

On to the immune system – again, with the zinc. Oh how I love foods that contain zinc!  There are so few, and many of us are deficient. Another factor that we should acknowledge about growing our own gardens this year, is that, with control over the quality of healthy soil that we can use and maintain, we can ensure our food is absorbing those essential minerals, we may not be getting from store bought foods. If you’re not growing your own garden and you live near the ocean, like us here on Vancouver Island, we have plenty of access to zinc rich sea foods, like oysters, clams, mussels and seaweeds.

Which leads me to my favorite point: OYSTERS have the highest zinc content than most other zinc rich foods. They are also rich in Vit C, protein and anti-oxidants, which are crucial for maintaining and improving our immune systems.

Brain and Skin Food (and so much more!)

Just to keep us moving through all that we feel so inspired to do this spring, we must fuel brain power. Well, oysters, my friends are of the sea and therefore full of Omega 3 fatty acids which are known to help support our nervous systems, decrease inflammation and help protect our cells from oxidative damage.

The protein found in oysters is also great for increasing collagen construction in our skin. Along with all the minerals, calcium, potassium and phosphorus, oysters are able to help in bone, tissue, ligament and muscle strengthening and building. Then add the high amount of iron found in oysters and you have a great supply of nutrients to support healthy blood flow, creating oxygen and power to fuel our cells and our minds.

Among the many other things that oysters are good for are: decreasing our risk of colon cancer, supporting our vision, lowering blood pressure, balancing cholesterol levels, decreasing inflammation, decreasing hormone related cancers.

‘Tis The Season

The fresh oyster season here is October-May.  Many people eat more oysters in the summer months because they think of them more, while at beaches and on patios.  Unfortunately, the summer months cause more chances of bacteria to form in shellfish.  This is when the oysters are spawning.  This warmth also causes the texture of the oysters to be chewier and less flavorful.  Most people still follow the ‘ol time fisherman’s rule to never eat oysters in a month that ends with ‘r’.  Most oyster connoisseurs still follow this rule, simply because they just taste better from cooler waters.  Farmed oysters are available year round because they no longer spawn.

If you have a fishing licence in BC or know someone who does,  you can collect your own oysters, straight off the beach.  This is great fun to do with the kids!

Do your research: Note that eating oysters raw poses a risk to your health by possible Vibrio vulnificus contamination. This is a pathogen that can cause serious life threatening food poisoning. Avoid eating oysters out of season or at the time of Red Tide. If you’re at all concerned about the freshness or source of your oysters, take precautions and cook them before consumption.

Also, if this article does help any women out there become pregnant…be sure reduce your intake of oysters and other high mercury sea foods. Leave them to your much appreciated partners.

Grilled Oyster Recipe

If you choose not to eat your oysters raw, which is preferred by most when consuming those big suckers, this is a great recipe to try. Since spring is here (or almost here for our friends on the East Coast), it’s nearly time to dust off ‘ye ‘ol BBQ and grill some fresh oysters. If it’s still too cool outside wherever you are, use the cast iron pan instructions and place the oysters in your oven at 425°C.

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Ingredients:

  • 12 live oysters
  • ¼ cup of good quality vegetable oil
  • 3-4 TBSP of butter, ghee or coconut butter
  • 1 TBSP lemon or lime juice
  • 1 small shallot, chopped fine
  • ½ tsp chili or cayenne pepper (flaked or powdered)
  • ¼ tsp sea salt
  • 4-6 turns of fresh black pepper
  • 2 tsp fresh chopped herbs (basil, cilantro or parsley work best)

Directions:

  1. Heat the butter and shallots over medium/low heat in a small sauce pan for 5 minutes. Add all other ingredients, whisk together and remove from heat.
  2. If you have BBQ gloves, shuck the oysters, keep the liquor in the shell and add a small amount of sauce into each.  Place steadily on the grill using your gloved hands.
  3. If you don’t have any gloves, make a bed of rice about 3 inches high (or any grain) at the bottom of a cast iron skillet. Open the oysters and balance them in the pan, spoon the sauce into each oyster and place onto the grill.
  4. Cook the oysters for 8-12 minutes, or until the ends begin to curl up. Some smaller ones may cook faster than the bigger ones.
  5. Let cool before gulping them down!

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.

Copyright 2010 http://vegrecipesofindia.com

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!

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.