It’s been a couple weeks since returning from my trip from El Salvador, and there is a particular superfood that I learned about while down there that I have continued to incorporate into my daily routine at home in Vancouver.
One of the most potent superfoods I’ve had the pleasure of trying has been Moringa. There’s a large Moringa tree that grows outside of my aunts house where I was staying in El Salvador. They have the benefit of harvesting both the leaves and seeds of the tree which provides an incredible combination of antioxidants and phytonutrients.
Although this tree is native to India and Africa, it is now widespread in a lot of tropical countries in Central America and South America. It has been used for hundreds of years for its medicinal and nutritive benefits which are numerous.
People use Moringa in a variety of ways in order to obtain its valuable health benefits. The most common use is from the actual Moringa leaf. The leafs are dried up and used for tea or they are processed to make into the green powder to add to smoothies or coconut water. The powdered form can be found in most health food stores. I love adding the powder to my smoothies for extra protein and vitamin supplementation especially post workout and mornings. The energy boost I get is awesome and it reduces post workout muscle soreness.
The long sticks that you see below are called drum sticks which contain the seed pods inside them. They are dried up and then opened up to take the seeds out. These are most commonly used to make teas and are dried up for to extract the powerful oil as well for its healing benefits to the skin and hair and several organs.
Here are some of the numerous benefits of Moringa:
•Contains 2X the amount of protein of yogurt.
The protein content is very rich and has a large amount of amino acids that help to build and repair cells and muscle tissue. For this reason it is used in many nations as a way to supplement their diet.
•Contains 4X the amount of Vitamin A as carrots
Essential for healthy bone growth and the maintainance of ocular health. It also supports healthy skin cell regeneration.
•Contains 3X the amount of potassium as bananas
Potassium helps support blood pressure, cardiovascular health, bone strength and muscle strength.
•Contains 7X the amount of Vitamin C as oranges
This vitamins is a powerful antioxidant essential for a healthy immune system and vibrant skin cell regeneration.
It is recommended to take high levels of Vitamin C to combat free radical damage, prevent illness and to treat more chronic infections and illnesses
•Helps Balances Hormones and moods
Studies have shown that it helps to balance the estrogen levels in post meneoausal women. The compounds and amino acids such as tryptophan help regulate and stabilize moods
This is one of the main benefits of Moringa which is absolutely valuable when it comes to proactively preventing several diseases and serious conditions such as heart disease and arthritis.
It is great for overall healthy cell function and reducing inflammation both acute and chronic.
•Contains potent compounds that help prevent cancer
In several studies Moringa has shown to be of great benefit to reduce cancer cell growth. The powerful combination of numerous antioxidants, phytonutrients and chemical compounds are quite unique and help reduce chances of cancer development as a healthy proactive measure. The alkalizing effects of Moringa also wards off cancer cells which feed of an acidic cell state.
•Helps improve digestive health
The high level of fibre and antioxidants found in Moringa help to maintain healthy digestive health. Moringa oil is also used in the diet to help detoxify the liver and kidneys.
•Moringa Oil Improves skin complexion and suppleness+helps to maintain healthy hair growth
It contains antibacterial, antifunagal and antiviral compounds that help protect the skin from several akin infections and conditions such dryness ans dandruff.
The oil acts a hydrating lubricant which moisturizer the skin and scalp when used in a regular basis and because of its high antioxidant levels is nourishing to the skin when it is applied directly. When massaged into the scam it adds nutrients to the hair bulb and stimulates micro circulation.
•Balances blood sugar levels and helps fight diabetes
Moringa contains an acid called chloregenic acid that has been shown to help control blood sugar levels and helps the body to release glucose as needed.
I would highly recommend that you consider adding some form of Moringa into your diet and daily routine. There are so many benefits of this superfood and it’s simplicity in taste makes it accessible and easy to incorporate!
I began this year with a whole new positive and determined mindset which included a 40 day fast that started the 2nd week of January which I'm doing with my church. We see it as 'Going Within and Not Without'. It is much more than just about the food!
One of the benefits of it is that you become more creative with how and what you cook and begin to examine the relationship to certain foods and why you eat what you eat which is a very healthy process. Your mind becomes sharp, focused and your energy levels rise without the unnecessary sugar and processed foods. It is an inside and out clean up!
Although healthy eating is a lifestyle vs a diet for me already, this fast took it to the next level because it also eliminates dairy and red meat from my regular diet. I took the initiative to help with the recipes and food guide for the fast and wanted to provide healthy and delicious meals that would be complete providing protein, complex carbs and healthy sources of omega fatty acids.
This DELICIOUS Smoked Wild Salmon and Sweet Potato recipe is one I love and shared with them. The various bold and unique flavours and textures makes this meal very satiating. There's no doubt that this meal will cut your sugar cravings and provide an abundance of antioxidants and nutrition for your entire body. Eating meals like this makes having a clean eating lifestyle very rewarding, and I hope you enjoy it as much as my family and I do.
Ingredients: *Organic produce when possible*
- Smoked Wild Sockeye Salmon (Costco pre sliced package)
I used about 8 slices or half of the salmon to serve 3 meals
- 10 organic grape tomatoes
- big handful of organic spinach
- 2 tbs. organic tamari sauce
- 1/2 cup chopped red organic onion
- pre cooked black/brown rice mix (from Costco and previously cooked and stored from meal prep)
- 1-2 tbs. organic unrefined coconut oil
- 1 large sweet potato or yam cut into quarter chucks
- 1 large ripe avocado
- dash of paprika
- Himalayan Salt and black pepper
- 1 tsp. Herbs de Provence
- half a lemon
1) Preheat the oven to 350C.
2) Use 1 tbs of coconut oil to a pyrex pan and add your chopped sweet potatoes/yams.
3) Season with Himalayan Salt & pepper and spices to your liking.
4) Stir them up until all chunks are evenly oiled up and seasoned.
5) Bake for about 40 minutes. Always check them after 20 minutes and stir them to ensure they are equally cooked on all sides.
6) Take them out and cool down for a few minutes.
1) In a large pan add about 1 tbs. of coconut oil to low/medium heat.
2) Add onions and tomatoes and cook until onions are clear and the tomatoes are softened.
3) Add your wild salmon, spices and tamari sauce.
4) Cook for about 5-7 minutes.
5) In the last minute add the spinach and stir in. Remove from the pan and put onto plates and cover to keep it warm.
Rice & Avocado
1) The rice was pre cooked in a rice cooker and stored in a tupperware container from meal prep.
I just warmed it up with the oil left from the salmon.
2) I sliced the avocado with a thin slicing knife and added dash of Himalayan salt and squeezed a bit of lemon juice on it for extra flavour.
We all love a delicious taco! This gluten free recipe is excellent for all taco lovers and can be adjusted to be both vegan if needed. It is an authentic recipe passed down from my mother's legendary cooking that I am very happy to share with you!
INGREDIENTS GIVEN FOR EACH PART
*All ORGANIC INGREDIENTS ARE USED IN THIS RECIPE*
Organic bone in chicken thighs used
BBQ Sauce/ Marinade recipe:
1 1/2 Tbs Genmai Miso Paste
2 Tbs Tamari Sauce
1/2 Tbs organic mustard
1 tsp Cumin
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp black pepper
Pinch of Himalayan salt
Pinch of cayenne pepper or chilli flakes
- Mix all ingredients very well in a bowl until you get a pasty sauce texture
- Add chicken into bowl and marinade
-Place chicken on BBQ on low
- use whatever is left of marinade sauce to add more to the chicken as you flip them
-when done pick meat apart to place on tacos and place in a separate plate and cover until ready to serve
Pico De Gallo Recipe- Tomato/Cilantro based topping:
3-4 Large tomatoes
1 lemon juice
Handful of finely chopped cilantro (1/3-1/2 cup)
1/2 tsp of pepper
1 pinch of Himalayan salt (add more if you like)
Warmed up with a little coconut oil on pan on
low/medium heat for about 10 seconds on each side or until softened. Remove and cover with foil until ready to fill with toppings.
1-2 avocados depending on how many tacos served
1 tbs of lemon juice
1/4 red onion finely chopped
1 tsp of almond milk
1/2 tsp of black pepper
Pinch of Himalayan salt
1 can of organic black beans
Blended to a puree texture and reheated on medium heat with coconut oil
( Refried beans are ideal if you do not want to blend yourself)
Raw Cheddar Cheese
1/2 Cup of Grated Unpasteurized Mild to Medium White Cheddar
Place the beans at the base of tortillas and add the BBQ chicken, guacamole, pico de gallo and lastly top with grated cheese and ENJOY!
This recipe is one of my favourite's for a healthy and quick on the go snack! Cacao & Coconut Energy balls are packed with tons of nutrition and are absolutely delicious, even kid approved! Making a batch of these can easily save you a lot of time during the week when you need to bring a snack for yourself or family and is awesome for post workouts. I often see them at health food stores and they aren't that cheap, so it's worth it to make them on your own. You just store them in the fridge for when you need it.
I also love to have one of these with a glass of almond milk when I am craving some chocolate!
The base of the mix is an unsalted nut mix that I purchase at Cosco, but feel free to use any type of nuts(except peanuts). I love to use nuts because they are filled with healthy fats and are a good source of vitamin E. Having healthy saturated fats in your daily diet is recommended as it metabolizes slowly and is great for cardiovascular health.
Raw Cacao Powder is the second ingredient that you can taste. It is what chocolate is made out of.
This is an ingredient that I always have in my kitchen because of its various uses. Cacao is one of the most powerful super foods you can have. It has over 20 times more antioxidants than blueberries! The combination of minerals such as iron, magnesium sulphur and over 300 chemical compounds have been found to benefit heart health, lower cholesterol and be an effective mood regulator.
There are many added health benefits as well from the flax, chia and hemp seeds such as the omega 3 fatty acids. The combination of vegan protein and nutrient dense ingredients makes this an awesome gluten free healthy snack all year round.
INGREDIENTS: Organic when possible is best
Makes 15-20 Energy balls depending on individual size
1- 1 1/2 Cups Mixed Unsalted Nuts
1/3 Cup Raw Cacao Powder
15 Pitted and Soaked Dates
1/4 Cup Flax Seeds
1/4 Cup Chia Seeds
1 Cup Hemp Seeds
1/3 Cup Vegan Protein Powder ( I use Vega)
1/2 Cup Shredded Coconut
1/2 tsp. Cinnamon
Pinch of Himalayan salt
1. Vitamix/Blentec blender or food processor
2. Measuring Cup
3. Large Glass bowl
4. Storage Container for refrigeration
5. Small bowl
1.Soak dates over night
2. Blend nuts and seeds one at a time and mix into bowl
3. Add the cacao, cinnamon, protein powder, salt into the bowl
4.Blend the soaked dates with a small amount of the water it soaked in until it is a puree texture and add into the bowl
4. Mix ingredients together with bare hands or spatula until a paste is made
5. Add the shredded coconut into a small bowl
6. Take a small chunks of the paste and form into balls
7. Roll them in the shredded coconut
8. Place into storage container for refrigeration
**I use a large glass one for general and a smaller one for when I'm on the go.
Who doesn't like a great chocolate chip cookie right! I absolutely love them and have since I was a kid, I could easily eat about half a dozen in one serving back in the day! While I still love to enjoy this delicious treat, I have chosen to go gluten free. In my previous post I explain why I have chose this for various health reasons.
Now one major thing that I do to make gluten free living easier is that I have made sure that I have enough tasty alternatives so my family and I are not left dissapointed and craving wheat recipe's, especially for our baked goods!
I will admit that it took me some trial and error to get this recipe just right in order to have a nice soft cookie that would not crumble too much, I prefer soft versus crunchy cookies. There are a lot of gluten free recipe's online for gluten free chocolate chip cookies, but a lot of them use tapioca starch and other not so healthy flour options. The whole reason I am going gluten free is for my health, and NOT all gluten free options are healthy, as a matter of fact many of them have higher glycemic index's than traditional wheat choices.
After about 4 attempts I finally have an awesome gluten free chocolate chip cookie recipe that both my husband and son love and ask me to make all the time on our Sunday Funday's!
Here is the recipe and instructions below to make a dozen small to medium sized healthy and DELICIOUS Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookies. ENJOY!
- 2 1/4 cups of organic brown rice flour
- 1/2 cup of grass fed unsalted organic butter
- 1 Tbs. or organic virgin unrefined coconut oil
- 1 Tsp. organic baking powder
- 1/2 tsp. himalayan salt
- pinch of organic cinnamon
- 2 Organic large egg
- 2 Tbs. Organic Raw Honey
- 1 cup of Organic semi sweet chocolate chips
- 1/2 tsp. organic vanilla extract
1. Warm your butter and coconut oil until melted in a smal pot on low heat on stove top and pour into a small bowl.
2. Add the vanilla, honey and eggs to the liquid mixture and whisk together until well combined.
3. In a separate large bowl combine the rice flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and chocolate chips. Mix together with a whisk.
4. Take the liquid ingredients and put into the large bowl of dry ingredients.
5. You can use your hands or a mixer to combine the wet and dry ingredients togther.
6. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (176 C)
6. Once you have a soft dough scoop out table spoons and roll them into balls.
7. Place the balls on a cookie sheet 2 inches apart(parchment paper on a pyrex works fine too) and slightly flatten out with the bottom of your spoon
8. Bake for 10-12 minutes until soft and slightly golden on the edges
9. Take out and let them cool down for 5-10 minutes on the sheet.
10. You can store leftovers in an airtight glass tupperwear container and it will keep for a few days in room temperature.
Since I experienced my own personal health battles over a decade ago, that resulted in me changing my entire lifestyle to a cleaner way of eating, I can say that I have maintained an overall healthy diet and lifestyle since then.
Fast food is never an option and neither are processed sugars or foods. I also eat almost entirely organic when possible.
Although I can say that my family and I had very healthy diets in general, we were still consuming wheat and gluten regularly.
I was already aware that it wasn't the best thing to eat all the time because I had watched an informative program last year by Dr. William Davis based on his well known book Wheat Belly. He clearly explained the risks and side effects associated with eating gluten and wheat on a regular basis, which I will go through some of in this blog.
The information impacted me, but quite honestly I wasn't experiencing the side effects(or so I thought) of eating whole wheat grains and gluten so I didn't give it up yet.
Last month that all changed! My 3 year old son had been dealing with an incessant cough that would come and go for over 6 months. It wasn't always associated with a cold or flu either, although it would get a lot worse when he did have a chest infection. The spasm like coughing became severe to the point that he would vomit his food up from coughing so much. So I had to take him to the doctor to see what was going on, because the remedies and cough syrups I had given him were not helping and I wanted to get to the bottom of this pattern. I had a gut feeling that it could be asthmatic. Not much to my surprise the paediatrician said that he heard wheezing in his chest upon examining him and that although he could not officially diagnose my son with asthma because he was too young for the official asthma medical diagnostic, he did say he was going to prescribe him a non steroidal puffer for asthma related coughing. I was not in any way opposed to this, because as natural as I like to be, in these cases I will not risk my son's well being. The medication was necessary.
The definition of asthma and what it actually means is a chronic inflammatory disease of the airways. Key word: Inflammation.
I did mention to the paediatrician as well that I had also been noticing eczema like rashes on his cheeks lately and that I felt it was all somewhat related. So I asked him if there were foods that I had to avoid to keep his immune system strong and avoid the inflammation in his system. Not to my surprise the Doctor said "NO, food has nothing to do with this type of condition and you can feed him what you like except for what he's directly allergic to." This is an absolutely ignorant statement to disregard diet as a trigger to his condition. I immediately disregarded his comment and just thanked him for his time because of my own avid research and experience, I know that the food we eat is DIRECTLY RELATED TO EVERY ASPECT OF HEALTH, ESPECIALLY INFLAMMATION! Food can certainly be our medicine and I'm a firm believer of that from my own life experience. Nature has everything we need in order to prevent and treat almost all, if not all diseases and conditions. I am also a believer of being your own personal health advocate and to inform yourself as much as possible on all angles as to how to maintain your own optimal healthy life in order to meet your personal needs. I certainly do not disregard professional medical advice and services, but I'm not going to take everything they say as absolute truth and as the only options available. I knew my son had plenty of options to reverse his asthma symptoms, and it was going to begin with his diet. The puffer helped alleviate the coughing because it did open his airways, but as a long term solution it does not get to the core root issue.
I immediately took him to a local natural pharmacy to consult with some qualified experts in the field and they confirmed my initial gut feeling. The first thing they mentioned was to get him off gluten and get his gut flora and lining all rebalanced and reinforced and restore his immune system with an anti inflammatory based diet. This also meant that for a period of time he should avoid dairy which wasn't an issue because he only rarely eats cheese and regular milk and yoghurt make him sick. That made it clear that we would have to modify our family diet to avoid wheat all together, which was quite a blessing in disguise because I personally had noticed that the last times I consumed bread and gluten I became bloated, cramping occurred and I felt gross a couple hours after eating it. God knows how much we loved eating pizza and sandwiches so I didn't think it would be an easy transition, but I knew it was worth it for all of us.
According to what I have learned so far, conditions like allergies, eczema and asthma have all been shown to be strongly correlated to poor gut health. They are all inflammation based. If the lining of our intestines is compromised, food particles get into our blood stream and our immune systems go into over drive and it creates chronic inflammation and unnecessary stress on our immune systems. Gluten and wheat are very much related to this problem because the wheat of today is not the wheat humans used to eat hundreds of years ago. It has been drastically genetically modified and even Organic modern day wheat is still not the same as ancient wheat. The wheat fields of today are enormously giant wheat stalks compared to the small wheat stalks of the past!
I modified the type of probiotic he was taking to get the optimal bacteria cultures to restore his gut flora health. I also began to give him more fermented food items.
Gluten is particularly a major culprit for our health because of the various ill side effects to many different body systems including circulatory, nervous, endocrine and digestive systems. Not to mention everyone knows how easily it contributes to unhealthy weight gain! That delicious white pasta goes straight to the gut! Gluten's particular proteins such as WGA, is what is responsible for a lot of gut inflammation and digestive issues. Most people like myself will report of decreased bloating and improved digestion after giving up or greatly reducing gluten from their diets.
Most people who suffer from diabetes or struggle with weight are aware that the bread and regular pasta are off limits, but as if the extra belly bloat and weight gain wasn't already enough to deter you from thinking twice before eating that extra bagel or donut this week, there's more!
Gluten derived polypeptides cross into the brain and bind itself to the brain's opiate receptors. That's right, wheat is as addictive as drugs! As exaggerative as it sounds it's absolutely true. When you have become accustomed to consuming wheat on a regular basis and then refrain from it all of a sudden, there is actually wheat withdrawal symptoms. I can attest to this because after refraining from wheat for about a week, all I wanted to eat was bread!
Eating excess wheat and gluten is proven to cause brain fog, and lack of sharpness and memory retention. There are also plenty of studies that show a strong correlation between gluten consumption and both Alzheimer's disease and dementia because of the glucose hemoglobin glycation that occurs. This means that the part of the blood that carries oxygen to the cells gets stuck with the sugar molecules within it causing rigidity in the cells. Glycation was something I learned about when I was teaching men and women about hair loss as it is also a factor in that area of health and beauty as well. Preventing any form of glycation as much as possible is very important.
I don't know about you, but I'm all about preventing illnesses like dementia that can rob one and a family of having a great quality of life. I'm not going to take any chances as that's not how I would like to spend the last golden years of my life. I plan on being healthy both physically and mentally and having my family enjoy me to my fullest potential as much as I possibly can!
Wheat also contains a starch called Amylopectin A which is quickly converted to blood sugar which creates a fast and high rise in blood sugar and insulin levels that can lead to heart disease and diabetes. When you have just a little bit, it causes for you to want more like any other sugary item so it can easily become habitual especially when seeking comfort.
So with all of this information and much more that I can go into, this is why I decided to go wheat and gluten free for myself and my family. It has allowed for me to be more creative with meal planning, cooking and snacks and my 3 year old son hasn't really complained. I've mentioned to him in a simple way that we are not eating wheat or gluten to stay healthy and he seems to be all for it because there's plenty of delicious options for him. Taste has not been and will never be sacrificed in this family of foodies!
Now there are lots of gluten free options out there as it's certainly quite trendy right now, but that doesn't mean that all gluten free options are healthy. Look out for ingredients like tapioca flour and white rice flour which are extremely high on the glycemic index and cause high rises of insulin levels comparable to processed white sugar. There are plenty of healthier options like almond flour, coconut flour, and garbanzo bean flour. It might take some time to adjust to some of it but I haven't found that the wheat and gluten detox has been too challenging given the encouraging positive results we already see and feel.
So far its been about a solid 3 weeks of not eating any wheat or gluten about 90% of the time and a solid week of not eating any at all. I still love sandwiches so when I want one for beach days or for a lunch meal, I choose wheat free bread.
Will I ever eat pizza again? YES! Being completely honest I probably will eat an item with gluten or wheat in it down the road but after having the negative side effects of wheat and gluten affect me after stopping for a while, I will avoid it as much as I possibly can.
Our health including my son's, has gotten so much better because of this step we have taken to avoid wheat and gluten. Our diets still include lots of fresh organic veggies, fruits, healthy fats like coconut and olive oil, daily smoothies, salads, wild fish, organic eggs and high quality supplements like super greens which are all a part of the anti inflammatory diet I have always believed in and will always adhere to. We have just improved even more so by eliminating another factor for both short and long term health benefits.
So if you feel like having a bit of a break from wheat and gluten even for just a temporary time might be something you're interested in, I will be posting some of my personal favourite delicious wheat and gluten free recipes and simple snack options for the whole family.
Having a nutritionally dense diet can mean something different to everyone, but so far this is working for us!