Saturday, September 14, 2013

The Heart of Raw Food: Sprouts

Sprouting is the centerpiece of raw foods.  It brings life back into food and increases the level of protein.  Sprouting legumes allows you to eat them raw, so you keep the enzymes intact but make it edible.

My suggestion is that you try sprouting lentils.  You can use any kind of lentils (although red doesn’t always sprout as well), and my favorite is to do a combination of half green lentils and half black (or mung beans, or any other small lentil.)  

The equipment you will need is one glass mason jar, and then either your nut milk bag OR a lid for the mason jar and a piece of cheesecloth.

1. Soaking.  Put about 1 or 1.5 inches of lentils in the bottom of a mason jar. Fill to the top with water and soak for about 12 hours on your countertop.

2. After the 12 hours, rinse very well and drain your lentils.  

3. Draining. Method 1: If you have a nut milk bag, put your lentils in it and hang it over a bowl or your sink to drain (this process is going to take about 2 days, so pick a good spot.
Method 2: Alternatively, if you want to use your mason jar, simply put a piece of cheesecloth (or a piece of screen if you have it) in the removable part of the lid, screw it back on, and leave the jar inverted in a colander.  Watch the cheesecloth to make sure it doesn’t get moldy; if it appears iffy, replace it.   Choose your method based on the equipment you have.

4.  Every morning and every night during the “draining” period, rinse out your lentils (you can leave them in your jar or bag while you rinse), and then invert and leave draining again for the next 12 hours (or so--it can be approximate.)  The whole process takes about 2 days.  You will know your sprouts are done when they look like this, below. The tails should be at least ¼ inch long (although it’s fine if they are ½ an inch or longer, too).  

5. Store finished sprouts in a jar in your refrigerator. Rinse them before eating.

You can add sprouts to salads, or you can eat them as a side dish.  Raw foodists often add a dressing on top--a yummy one to put on top is an almond-ginger dip.

Sprouts are outstanding for your health, and really so easy to do. I hope you try them!

Sunday, February 24, 2013


Mushrooms are one of the most powerful cancer-fighting foods available to us.  If you have been following this blog for awhile, you've heard me talk about Dr. Joel Fuhrman, an incredible food-medicine pioneer who likes to talk about GOMBBS, an acronym to help us remember the best cancer-fighting foods:

  • Greens
  • Onions
  • Mushrooms
  • Berries
  • Beans
  • Seeds
Mushrooms are an integral part of the human immune system.  Eating mushrooms every day reduces your risk of breast cancer (as one example) by 64%.  They stop many cancers from metastasizing. They are full of natural angiogenesis inhibitors, and phytochemicals, which fight cancer.  They are full of many minerals, including copper, potassium, zinc, B vitamins and more.  Some mushrooms (shiitake, maitake and reishi) even are good sources of protein, iron, and vitamin C. 

In many cultures, mushrooms are considered a sign of longevity, because they have so many health-promoting properties.   They are also used medicinally for cancers and other ailments through Chinese Medicine Doctors.  

The best mushroom is a mix of mushrooms! Even button mushrooms have healing properties. Some days have shiitake, some days portobello, some reishi or oyster...try them all. 

It is super easy to sauté any mix of mushrooms in olive oil with a clove of minced garlic.  Here's another delicious, quick and easy way to prepare mushrooms as a main course alongside a soup and salad.

Pan-Seared Portobellos

Adapted from The Cancer Survivor’s Guide
(Serves 2)

  • 4 large portobello mushrooms
  • 2 Tbsp. water
  • 2 Tbsp. tamari
  • 1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • ½ tsp. dried oregano

Clean the mushrooms and cut off stems.  Combine all other ingredients in a small bowl and then put in a large heated skillet.  When it bubbles, add mushrooms, top down.  Lower to medium and cover.  Cook for 3 minutes. Flip mushrooms, add a few more Tbsp. water if necessary, and cover again, cooking for about 5 minutes longer. Serve hot.

Just writing this blog made me forage into my fridge to find some mushrooms to saute. They are delicious!

Friday, February 1, 2013

A Little More about Raw

Those of you who have followed this blog for a while know about my admiration for the power of raw foods.  Unlike cooked food, raw food retains all of its nutrients and all of its enzymes.  Enzymes are needed for every single function and activity that the body does.  When you eat raw food and your body absorbs those enzymes, it functions more efficiently, and your cells regenerate and heal at their deepest level.  Adding raw foods into your diet where you can makes a tremendous difference.  

Like any food preparation, raw food can be incredibly simple, or more complicated.  Raw foodists talk about dehydrators, and sprouting.  That may seem daunting at first, but it doesn’t need to be.  Sprouting is quite easy.  And you don’t have to dehydrate to enjoy good raw food.

I will do a lesson on sprouting in the near future!  But in the meantime, here is a simple entrée that you can do without any fancy machines or equipment.  Sprouts can be purchased at any health food store or market.

Avocado with Sprouts (Raw)

(serves 2)

2 avocadosJuice from 2 lemonssprouts of any kind (I used lentil sprouts and clover sprouts)1 carrot, grated2 Tbsp. parsley, chopped10 or so oil cured black olives, choppedhandful of pumpkin seeds

Halve the 2 avocados and remove the pits. Remove 1 Tbsp of avocado from each and add to a blender with the lemon juice. Puree until very smooth.

Combine the other ingredients in a bowl, and combine well, mixing in the avocado/lemon dressing from your blender.  Stuff in each avocado half and enjoy!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Being a Cancer Companion from Afar

Recently a good friend came to me with news that her friend who lives across the country was battling cancer.  What could she do from afar to help?  This situation plagues many of us at periods in our lives.  We want to be there by our loved-one's side to help, but we can't always be.

There is, however, a lot we can do from afar.  Here would be my recommendations:

1. Buy your friend, or their cancer companion one of Rebecca Katz's books.  My favorite is One Bite at a Time.  Also wonderful is The Cancer Fighting Kitchen.  Both have healthy, exciting recipes, and both will also teach you so much about nutrition and cancer.  They are must-haves.

2. Find a local restaurant near them that is healthy and delivers.  Maybe it is a vegan place, or a vegetarian joint, or perhaps they even make green juice.  Get them a gift certificate there since you can't bring them dinner.  This will encourage them to eat healthily, while also getting a break from cooking, which can be both exhausting and nauseating if you are getting cancer treatments.

3. Send them a healthy care package. You could pick a theme--say: soup.  Find a great recipe, copy it for them, and then include what ingredients you can.  For a black bean soup you could include the dried black beans, the spices, and even an onion.  If you'd rather do a snacking care package, you could include raw almonds, cans or jars of olives, raw and sprouted sunflower seeds.  Or you could do a tea care package and include green, ginger, stomach soothing, and red teas, all which would be high in antioxidants and could help fight cancer, plus having very soothing effects! You could also include a tea strainer and a pretty mug or teapot in the care package.

4. Do they need help setting up dinners and help? Meal train is great and can be set up from afar.   So is  Sign Up Genius.

5. Tell them about inspiring videos and books that can fill those lull periods for them with great information.  Crazy, Sexy Cancer by Kris Carr is a great one to help boost the attitude of someone going through cancer.  Her cookbooks (Crazy Sexy Diet, etc.) are also fun and uplifting. Another very informative volume is by cancer expert Neal Barnard, who founded The Cancer Project and runs the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM).  He is one of the greatest experts in the field and wrote The Cancer Survivor's Guide, complete with recipes and lots of knowledge.

6. Nobody can get too many love notes or upbeat stories & letters.  Keep the mail and the love flowing.

This recipe comes from The Cancer Survivor's Guide.  I chose it because many of the ingredients you could pack in a care package.  It's easy to make and delicious!

Lentil and Brown Rice Soup

12 cups water or vegetable broth (could pack Rapunzel bouillon cubes in care package)
1 cup dried brown or green lentils (care package)
1 cup short-grain brown rice (care package)
1 cup diced onion (care package)
1 cup minced fresh parsley
6 garlic cloves, minced (care package)
1 tsp. dried oregano (care package)
1 tsp. dried thyme (care package)
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
1/4 tsp. whole celery seeds (care package)
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon (care package)
1/4 tsp. salt

  • Bring the water to a boil in a large soup pot. (Add and stir in bouillon cubes, if using.) Add the lentils, rice, onion, parsley, garlic, oregano, thyme, pepper, celery seeds, and cinnamon.  Lower the heat, cover loosely, and simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 45 minutes, or until the lentils and rice are tender.
  • Season with salt to taste.
  • Store in a covered container in the refrigerator, leftover soup will keep for up to 3 days.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Ease the chill with a treat!

Why hello, my cancer companion friends!  I don't know about you, but I came home from work today and had to fend off a major urge to go to Starbucks for a hot chocolate.  But I knew I wouldn't feel happy about it afterwards, so I came up with this.

This is the quickest blog entry, and it has been a work in progress!  My cousin Lily just figured out the missing ingredient: cinnamon!  Now I think you will really enjoy this treat.

So this is in the spirit of the upcoming holidays, enjoying warm, cozy time with a pretty mug in your hands along with your friends and family.

Hot Cacao
Serves 2

1 1/2 cups fresh almond milk
1 heaping Tbsp. raw cacao
1 Tbsp. coconut crystals
2 tsp. agave nectar
2 tsp. raw honey
1/2 tsp. cinnamon

Combine in a pan.  Whisk vigorously to absorb the cacao.  It will take a minute or two of whisking--stick with it.  Heat gently, and please don't let it boil.  Pour in a pretty mug and enjoy!  For adult taste buds, you can add a light sprinkling of chili powder for a Mexican Hot Cacao!

That is it today, my friends.   More soon!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Comfort Food

Sometimes on a chilly, cloudy day, you need comfort food.  If you are cooking for someone who is going through chemo, it is a good day if they are hungry and have an appetite for comfort food.  Focusing on high nutrient value is so important, but sometimes, having high nutrient food with a little something naughty in moderation is just fine, especially if it spikes their appetite and builds their strength!

I have been busy this month leading a cleanse, and I have all sorts of new recipes that I've created that I can't wait to share with you soon!

But in the meantime, here is your comfort food recipe for the day. While I love soaking beans and spending time preparing food, the thing I might love best about this recipe is that it calls for canned beans and artichoke hearts!  So you can make it in a jiffy....good food, fast.  I like to call it fast elegance.  I hope you enjoy it!

White Bean, Leek, and Artichoke Gratin

2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 leeks, cut into half moons
2 celery stalks, diced
3 cloves garlic, diced
2 cans white beans (I like Great Northern--they are actually the smallest!), drained & rinsed
1 can artichoke hearts, cut into quarters
1 Tbsp. fresh thyme
1/2 cup white wine
1 cup parmesan cheese, grated
sea salt

  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees
  • Put a large dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pan on the stove over medium heat.  Add the olive oil and leeks and sauté for a few minutes.  Add the celery, salt the veggies, and sauté 8 minutes or so, until both veggies begin to turn translucent.  Add the garlic and heat until fragrant. 
  • Add the (drained) beans, and (drained) artichokes, pour the white wine over them and stir.  Once the wine begins to boil, immediately turn off heat.
  • Add the fresh thyme, and stir in almost all of the parmesan.  
  • Top with the remaining parmesan and put pan in the oven.  Cook until cheese is browned and gratin is bubbling.
  • Let cool a tiny bit and serve!

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Substituting Your "Bad" Habits with "Healthy"

When you are trying to be healthy, it is very frustrating when you "slip up."  You know veggies are the best for you, so you cut some up to make a delicious crudite, and then pour the ranch dressing from your refrigerator into a bowl.  Later on, you glance at the dressing ingredients, and lo and behold, the main ingredient is sugar, followed by a zillion other ingredients you cannot pronounce. Aargh! Did that negate all the good vegetables you just slaved over?  Not exactly, but it is definitely better to be prepared so this doesn't happen next time.

Part of what makes this work is advance preparation.  For me, Sundays are my day of thinking ahead about what food will be in the fridge all week.  I usually soak some rice, make some almond milk, make a salad dressing, and making some of this delicious dip to have on hand is great, too.  In the evenings, when you are preparing dinner, instead of grabbing for crackers and cheese, you can simply set out the dip and get some yummy vegetables on a plate.  Then you are filling your hunger pangs with absolute health, and tons of enzymes, too, since this dip is raw.

Nutty Pesto Dip

1/2 cup pine nuts or cashews, soaked for 1-2 hours, then drained
4 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 tsp. garlic
1/2 Tbsp. basil
1/2 Tbsp. oregano
zest from one lemon
juice of one lemon
1/8 cup water (can add more water if you want it thinner)
1/2 tsp. sea salt
Puree together in Cuisinart.

Serve with cut up vegetables of your choice.

This could also be a wonderful gift to drop off for a friend who has cancer, if you don't have time to prepare a whole meal.  She may be very grateful to have some "snacky" food.  You aren't always in the mood for a full meal, and this will allow her to be healthy and well-fed in between meals.

Friday, September 28, 2012


I was turned onto wheatgrass years ago because, in addition to being incredible for overall health, it is one of nature's best cancer fighters.  The regimen at some of the world's best cancer institutes mandate at least two glasses (2-3 ounces each) of wheatgrass a day.

Eva lurking in the wheatgrass.

I learned almost everything I know about wheatgrass from two sources.  1) The Raw Food Institute.  And 2)  The Wheatgrass Book, by the renowned expert, Ann Wigmore.

Lately I've become rather obsessed with wheatgrass again and recently re-read Ann Wigmore's book.  I'm growing several flats of it my dining room table, and let me tell you why.  Wheatgrass is filled with chlorophyll, which mimics human blood more closely on a molecular level than any other food.  This is tremendous for fighting cancer because drinking it is like getting a blood transfusion and crowding out the free-radical cells.  Wheatgrass has a tremendous anti-mutagenic effect, and also a anti-neoplastic ability, which means it fights tumors without any toxins or chemicals. It is also packed with enzymes, which results in increased circulation and better nutrition to your cells, along with more efficient removal of waste and toxins in the bloodstream.  Chlorophyll also regenerates the liver, which is the body's main detoxification organ, super important if you're fighting cancer.

And that's not even including the other health benefits of wheatgrass. It is a cleanser.  It stimulates healthy circulation.  It restores high energy levels. It bolsters the immune system. It can protect us from high and low levels of radiation.  It is a great source of iron, potassium, magnesium, and trace minerals, like selenium, which has anti-cancer properties, too.

Cut wheatgrass ready for juicing. 
You can buy wheatgrass at many health food stores and juice it at home if you have a juicer.  Some places even sell wheatgrass shots (as in: tiny glasses.)

It is also very simple and inexpensive to grow yourself.  All you need is a few trays, some organic soil, and hard wheatgrass seeds.  The steps are simple:

1. Soak a cup of hard wheatgrass seeds in a glass jar of water overnight.
2. Drain (using cheese cloth or a screen, secured to the top of the jar), for a remaining 12 hours.

3. Fill a tray with soil and scatter sprouted wheatgrass seeds evenly on top.  Water.
4. Cover for 2-3 days with another tray until shoots are about 2 inches tall.

5. Leave uncovered in indirect sun for 7-10 days, watering occasionally.
6. Harvest by cutting close to the roots, and use as soon as possible.
7. Seeds will have a second growth, though not quite as nutritious.
8. Juice your wheatgrass!

I like to bring my mom little glasses of wheatgrass in the morning.  While my husband and I truly LOVE the taste, I have to admit that my mom does not.  The taste reminds me of sitting on a picnic blanket on a warm spring evening and smelling the grass all around me.  The amazing thing about wheatgrass is that you only need a tiny bit to have incredible health benefits.  Like I always say to my mom: "It's better than chemo!"

Friday, July 20, 2012

Amazing Anticancer Foods

The power of food is so exciting to me.  Way back when our mothers made us, but now, what we put into our bodies every day becomes our new cells, our thoughts, our actions.  We have the wonderful benefit daily of having a choice to put food into our bodies that will positively affect how we operate!

In terms of cancer, and cancer prevention, there are some real winning food choices we can make.  As I've discussed in this blog before, all "real" foods have unique properties, so variety is key, but there are some stand-outs.

Ginger is a big one.  There are studies that have shown ovarian cancer cells that come into contact with ginger disappear on contact.  The aloe plant is another.  You can buy big jugs of aloe at Whole Foods and can add them to smoothies.  Lemon and tangerine peels are also powerful cancer-fighters.  A way to eat these is to either juice them, or to throw cut-up whole lemons or tangerines into smoothies.  They can be bitter, but it is an acquired taste, and it's nothing some raw honey can't fix!

Sprouts are also tremendous anti-cancer foods.  All that energy and all those enzymes that are packed into those tiny new shoots of a plant can do wonders in your body.  Toss them into salads or eat them straight with a delicious dressing on top.  You can also throw them into your juicer along with your other vegetables.

I have talked on this blog before about Dr. Joel Fuhrman and his anti-inflammatory foods. He uses the GOMBBS acronym (Greens, Onions, Mushrooms, Berries, Beans, and Seeds.) There are over 200 studies showing that people with diets high in dark green leafy vegetables have 60% reduced chance of developing cancer. Dark green leafy veggies have also shown to shrink and in some cases even eliminate existing cancers.  Eating mushrooms every day (a variety of them) reduces your rate of developing breast cancer by 70%.  Mushrooms are one of the foods that have proven to be more effective cooked than raw.

This recipe incorporates lots of good cancer-fighting foods.  It's easy to make and keep in the fridge for several days, so that you can add it to your lunch or dinner at a moment's notice!

Most Delicious Massaged Kale Salad

This is a variation on massaged kale salad that I've posted before.  My friend Elin gave me the original recipe for massaged kale.

1. Take a bunch of kale, chop it into strips, sprinkle it with sea salt, drizzle on olive oil, and massage with your hands for 3-4 minutes until the kale is soft and tender. Set aside in a large bowl.
2. Make a honey ginger dressing: Mix together in a blender 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, 1/2 an inch ginger chopped with skin peeled off, 1/2 Tbsp. raw honey, the juice from 1/2 an orange, and 1/4 tsp. salt.  Blend until smooth. Pour over the kale and mix well.
3. Toss in an abundance of slivered almonds, raisins, unsweetened large coconut flakes, chopped apple, and pumpkin seeds.  Mix well.  Savor it!

* Kale is an excellent source of vitamin C, B6, carotenes, manganese, and fiber.  It also contains many minerals including copper, iron and calcium.  It's high phosphorous content has been proven to help prevent osteoporosis, and it has some of the highest anticancer properties of any food.
**Coconut is an excellent source of healthy medium-chain saturated fats.  It contains selenium and zinc, as well as manganese, copper, and even protein.  It increases the healthy HDL cholesterol, and provides the body with lauric acid, which is antiviral and antibacterial.  It protects against heart disease and promotes weight loss.
***Pepitas--or, pumpkin seeds--contain vitamins B1, B2, protein, vitamin A, and also contain healthy minerals like iron, zinc, copper, magnesium, and phosphorous.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

What to do when you find out someone you love has cancer.

It is the news you least want to hear: that someone you love has cancer.  Let's admit it, there's nothing good about it.  It is important, however, to remember that every situation is different, every person is different, every cancer is different, and so many things can be done.  People are curing their own cancers through holistic methods.  Doctors are sending millions of cancers into remission via "traditional" methods.  And miracles do happen, even in the most dire of situations.

People have asked me: what should I do when I get this news?  I thought I would share a bit about what might be helpful to do, early on.

1. Take stock of the situation.  Is there going to be surgery involved?  Chemotherapy?  Radiation?  Should you be making adjustments right away to prepare the house if en elderly parent is getting surgery?  You may need to get a lower bed.   Perhaps you can make her bedroom more temporarily "livable," by putting a comfy chair in the bedroom, adding an instant teapot and making a little tea station, or keeping a pitcher of water and a glass on the bedside table.  You may need to move a bed downstairs.  If she is going to have to get chemo, can you work out a schedule to have someone drive her?  There are going to be a series of doctor's appointments.  Can you get a number of them on the calendar early, so that you can get a picture of what the next few months will hold?

2. Make some small nutritional changes right away.  I have written a lot about how making dramatic changes is not effective for most people, because most people have their likes and dislikes and can be set in their ways a bit.  Start off by simply adding more greens.  Think about ways to add greens into every meal.  Add spinach into their rice & beans, introduce green smoothies, think of having 2-3 vegetable & fruit sides with dinner instead of 1.

3. Buy a copy of "One Bite at a Time" by Rebecca Katz.  She has a number of cookbooks directed towards cancer survivors, and they are all great.  They are delicious, accessible, and healthy recipes.  They give you an idea of what foods are cancer fighters, and give you a good place to start nutritionally.

4. Keep a log book.  Have a book handy where you can write EVERYTHING down.   Who came by to check in.  Who offered to help.  What friends delivered food.  What your loved-ones reaction was to a new medication.  What the doctors reported at the hospital.  This log will be invaluable to you.  A lot of things can be a blur when you are helping someone through a crisis.  Your sibling may arrive at the hospital later in the day than you, and can refer to the log book to get the latest info.

5. Make a list of things friends can do to help.  You can keep the list in the log book!  Then when somebody calls and asks what they can do, you can refer to the list and say "His dry cleaning needs to be picked up!" or "We're out of eggs if you can grab some next time you're at the grocery."

6. Ask somebody to coordinate meals.  A prepared meal arriving at the door is one of the most wonderful things that can happen to someone in a cancer crisis.  The last thing they can think about is food, but it is often the most important thing!  In most cases you do not want meals delivered every day, because that can be too much. Having someone coordinate food delivery is really helpful.  They can give people the patients food preferences and allergies, tell them what time/place to deliver the food, let them know how to pick up their dish afterwards.  This takes a huge burden off the patient and his/her caregiver.  There are some great services out there that can help with this.  Meal Train is one.  Sign up Genius is another.  If people are really thoughtful, they will occasionally include the primary caregiver in the food delivery, too.  The caregiver is not thinking about feeding her immediate family, and arriving home to an empty refrigerator can be the cause of lots of tears and frustration.   Making a meal for someone who is helping somebody through cancer is a deeply wonderful thing!

7. Look into alternatives & holistic treatments.  See what is available in your area.  Be open to them.  If you are interested/willing in trying alternative treatments, it doesn't mean you have to abandon the traditional methods (in #1) right away.  Some can be done in conjunction with one another.  Many are nutritional and can make a tremendous difference whether or not you choose to do chemotherapy.

8. Have hope.  Countless studies have shown that having hope is an incredibly powerful thing.  A positive attitude will make you heal faster.  Your mind asks your body to stand up and start walking, why can't it ask your cancer to start disappearing?  Try to create a positive environment that is happy, low stress, and hopeful.  It will make a difference.

Mushroom White Bean Sauté
Ample amount of olive oil
1 package sliced mushrooms
½ a red onion
Sea salt
1 can white beans (or 1 cup of soaked and cooked white beans)
1 clove garlic, minced

Serve over cooked quinoa, or salad greens.
1 cup cooked quinoa (optional) or salad greens (optional)
Dressing for the salad or quinoa 

1.     Liberally pour olive oil in a frying pan and sauté one package of sliced mushrooms, along with half a diced red onion. Salt well.  Once they are soft and browned (after maybe 10 min.) add your beans, followed by the minced clove of garlic. Stir until fragrant and flavors have melded (about 2 min.)  Add more olive oil and salt, until seasoned to your liking.
2.     Pour over salad greens with dressing (or quinoa seasoned with a dressing) and enjoy! 

Friday, June 1, 2012

Cleansing & Detoxing

If you are either fighting cancer or wanting to prevent it, a great first step towards a holistic and nutritional approach is detoxing.

The idea here is to rid your body of toxins.  When you do this, you are giving yourself a fresh start, and the good nutrition you are hoping to absorb into your body will have a much better shot at succeeding.  When your body is fighting environmental toxins, toxins in your food, fluoride in your water, chemical-laden sunscreen seeping through your pores, AND fighting free radical damage or disease in your cells, it is very hard for it to re-build healthy cells.

Cleansing or detoxing gives you the fresh start you need to start building those healthy cells, and to start fighting the unhealthy ones.  There are many cleanses out there, and many of them are very good.  I am offering a 10-day, whole foods cleanse (so you won't go hungry!) starting on Sunday, June 3rd.   Tomorrow is preparation day. You can shop, soak your grains, make your salad dressings, and get ready for 10-days of deeply healthy eating and detoxing!

Please see The Nourish if you are interested in participating! If not, I'll be offering another one in the fall.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Green Juice

I have been asked dozens of times lately to do a post on Green Juice.  I am so excited about the powers of Green Juice that I talk about it a lot.  It has been fairly life-changing for my family.

Green Juice is PACKED with micro-nutrients and enzymes.  It gives your body a tremendous health boost.  Think about a cutting board piled high with dark green leafys, green vegetables, root vegetables, ginger, limes, could never eat that much.  But you can JUICE that much, and by juicing, you get all the micro-nutrients from the produce without any of the fiber, making it incredibly easy for your body to absorb and put to good use.

Most disease is started by cellular inflammation.  Cellular inflammation can be caused by some of the food we eat, by toxins in our environment, by stress, and many other factors.  Flooding your body with enzymes and micro-nutrients reduces inflammation, allowing your body to stay healthy, or fight disease if you already have it.

One of the keys to Green Juice is VARIETY.  This is for several reasons:

1) Every vegetable has different qualities, vitamins, minerals, and nutrients.  By varying what you put in your juice every day you give your body more of the good stuff, more often.

2) You want to make sure that you don't eat brassica vegetables every day.  The brassica family can, if you have any trouble with your thyroid, give your body too many goitrogens and throw off your thyroid function.  The brassica family includes kale, broccoli, cabbage, etc.  Goitrogens also inhibit cancer growth, so don't eliminate them completely! Just skip it every few days.

I have been making a huge batch of juice every morning for about 5 months now.  I have the Raw Food Institute and Lisa Wilson to thank for really making this a daily ritual.  I make enough so that Garth, my mom and I all get some.  (I can't quite get the kids to drink it yet....someday!) I always say "I can feel it in my finger tips!" and I really can.  My mom is healthier than ever.  I am convinced it has fended off chemo for 5 months now.  It is truly amazing stuff.

There is no "recipe" for Green Juice since you really should vary the ingredients every day.  However, the base of mine usually includes:

1-2 cucumbers
4-5 pieces celery
1 head romaine lettuce
1 lime or lemon
1 inch of ginger
a big pile of sprouts of some kind (pea shoots, wheat grass, alfalfa sprouts)
sometimes a half or whole clove of garlic
a BIG pile of some greens (chard, kale, spinach, collards, mustard greens, parsley...)
Today, a beet was in there. Yesterday, a few carrots.

Would you be interested in a Green Juice workshop? If so, please comment (click on blue "comments" below!)

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Secret You Should Know

This is a belted kingfisher.  They are fish-eating birds, and go plunge-diving, head first, 
to get their catch.  You could decide to plunge head first into healthy eating!

I was reminded of this idea today before yoga when I was having a conversation with my two friends Wendy and Carol.

In the early weeks of my nutrition program, people all around me would ask, "What is the secret for weight loss?" "What is the secret for lowering your cholesterol?" "What is the food I should eat to reduce my risk of Cancer?" "How can I prevent heart disease?"

I would scramble through my books every afternoon to try to find the "right" food for everyone's concern.  Slowly, it dawned on me:

It's the same answer for every health concern....we should all be reducing our dependency on animal proteins, and increasing (dramatically) our intake of vegetables.  

This idea carries over to the notion of who is reading this blog.  Some of you are reading it for ideas for how to be more healthy while you undergo chemo, or to get ideas of foods that cancer does not "like."  Many others of you are reading it because you would like to be healthier, and eat in a way that will decrease your likelihood of developing a chronic disease.  Again, it is really the same diet ideals for both of you.

A big emphasis of my program, however, is the concept of bio-individuality. Every one of us is different.  Our teacher always says, "One person's food is another person's poison", and it is true. This is why, once again, variety is key. Vary your diet and you will get exposure to so many things, but not too much exposure to one thing.

This recipe is, like so many of my recipes try to be, an adaptation of your favorite foods, but just somewhat healthier, and with some variety (parsley instead of basil, pepitas instead of pine nuts.)  Everything in moderation, right? (Including moderation.)  This take on pesto has a little bit of cheese, and pasta, but it is whole wheat. You could also try this on ravioli (but that will likely increase your animal protein if there is more cheese in there!)

Parsley and Pepita Pesto 
with black olives & roasted cherry tomatoes

1/3 cup pepitas (pumpkin seeds), toasted
1 cup parsley, torn off stems
1/3 cup parmesan cheese, grated
1 small garlic clove
lemon zest from one lemon
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
1/3 cup olive oil, plus 1/3 cup more after combined
sea salt

  • pulse in food processor (or Vitamix) until well-combined
  • add additional 1/3 cup olive oil and mix again
  • add in additional salt or lemon juice as needed
1 pint cherry tomatoes
1/2 cup + black olives cured in olive oil
1 package whole wheat pasta twists
toasted pepitas
fresh thyme
  • saute the cherry tomatoes in a pan with olive oil.  They are ready when they are soft and browned in places
  • boil pasta
  • when the noodles are done, add about half the pesto and combine well, while pasta is still hot. It will absorb the great flavor of the pesto.
  • toss pasta together with cherry tomatoes, black olives and pepitas.
  • serve with sprinkling of parmesan, more pepitas, and thyme leaves.

We had this with roasted brussel sprouts on the side--delicious!

*Unless otherwise noted, all recipes are (c) Christy Halvorson Ross.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Longing for your past diet...

I think I have heard it from every person I've worked with nutritionally, at some point or another: "I really miss eating [fill in the blank here.]"  It is hard to give up old habits, especially when they have to do with food.  There are so many ways to get around this, though.

  1. Remember that your new, healthier way of eating really does make you feel better, and will have an immense long-term health benefit, too.  It is worth it.
  2. Learn to substitute healthier choices in your favorite dishes (see recipe below!)  Don't just eat things you don't love all day--figure out how to LOVE healthy food!
  3. Give yourself, as a reward for all your good choices, a treat every now and a blue moon (this is depending on your state of health, of course.)  Try not to make it an artificially flavored and colored popsicle made out of chemicals, though.  Choose organic ice cream cone from your local hand-made ice cream shop, for example.  If it gives you joy, joy has health benefits, too!
  4. Know that your taste buds do change.  Just yesterday, my husband had a bit of one of those aforementioned popsicles and could barely swallow it.  It tasted...NOT like food, which it wasn't.  You will stop liking these things, believe me!

When I went through the raw foods immersion program, my taste buds did change. Sugar, which I'd already reduced substantially in my diet, tasted really strong to me.  And green juice tasted TRULY delicious.

Here is a great recipe to have when you are craving your "old" diet.  Instead of a greasy beef taco with a teensy bit of veggies on top, and loaded down with cheese and sour cream, enjoy this:

Red Lentil Tacos

(serves 4)

1 cup dried red lentils
Extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1/2 inch of ginger, minced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. coriander
1 tsp. salt
2 cups vegetable broth

corn tortillas (8)
2 avocados
1 lime
1 can black olives
handful of arugula (or other green of choice)
salsa (optional! It's great without!)

  • As soon as you measure out the lentils, soak them in water. Even if they just soak for 10 min, that's great, but a few hours would be even better.
  • Sautee in a large pan with olive oil: 1 chopped onion and the minced ginger. Once they are soft (after about 10 min.), add in the garlic, cumin, coriander, and salt.  Saute for about a minute more. 
  • Drain the lentils, then add them to the onion mixture in the saute pan.  Stir around to let the flavors meld, then add in 2 cups of vegetable broth.  (I like having Rapunzel vegetable bouillon cubes around. They are the best vegetable broth on the market, and so easy: in this case, boil 2 cups of water and add in 1 cube!)
  • Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer for 20 minutes, checking for "doneness" and stirring occasionally. 
  • Warm your corn tortillas in a large pan, and then assemble tacos.
  • For each taco: a corn tortilla, a scoop of lentil deliciousness, slices of avocado, black olives, arugula, and a squeeze of lime on top.  You will find you don't even long for the cheese or sour cream!

Serve alongside spiced brown rice, a big green salad, or a tomato salad.

Health benefits of lentils: an excellent source of fiber, protein, iron, magnesium, and potassium.  They lower cholesterol, are great for diabetes because they don't cause blood sugars to rise, and are protective against cancer.  In fact, the Nurses' Health Study (II), which followed the diets of over 90,000 women for decades, found that women who ate lentils twice a week had a 24% reduced risk of breast cancer.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Move that body!

Exercise! It is arguably the most important thing you can do to stay healthy and keep your cells active, strong, and full of oxygen. Every medical study I have read on cancer shows that exercise reduces your risk of cancer and increases your likelihood of fighting cancer if you already have it.

I got so excited about the notion of exercise, and how powerful it is, that I decided to immediately create a new block print of a bird that I thought best expressed this sentiment. Sanderlings came to mind right away.  They are the most lovely, graceful, and spritely shore birds that I grew up chasing amidst the spindrift along the Atlantic ocean with my grandparents chasing after me. Talk about exercise.

We've all been told at our annual physical, "you need to exercise at least three times per week for 30 minutes."  The truth is, however, that ANY exercise you can get is worthwhile. Don't skip a walk or run just because you only have 20 minutes.  Studies show that any exercise is great for you. If you only have time for jumping jacks in your kitchen for 5 minutes, you will be healthier for it. Try to fit something in every day. A walk, a burst of dancing, a run, a trip to the gym.  Simply move your body and bring oxygen to those cells of yours!

If you are recovering from surgery or don't have the energy for lots of exertion, one of my favorite things to recommend is the Urban Rebounder. Bouncing on this lightly even 3-4 times a day for 3 minutes will drain your lymphatic system, releasing toxins and allowing your body to be more vigorous in fighting disease.

Another easy thing you can do in bad weather, from home, in a chair, is workout with Joel Harper, who is a fitness instructor in my nutrition program.  He has free downloaded workouts, all 10-20 minutes, here: Joel Harper.

Oxygen in the cells gives cancer less chance to survive.  It increases red blood cells and normalizes healthy tissue cell growth.  It also breaks down toxic carbon dioxide, which causes the free radicals that help form cancer.   So cancer really doesn't like oxygen.  Add it to your repertoire, in the form of exercise, wheatgrass (filled with chlorophyll!), and raw, enzyme-packed foods.

Bringing us back to raw foods, once again...One of the beauties of raw foods is that they, too, bring oxygen to our cells.  Try out this delicious appetizer before dinner instead of your crackers & cheese. It's amazingly filling, and so energizing.  Whenever I eat it, it's as if someone just took a foggy lens out from in front of my eyes.  This version is adapted from a Raw Foods Institute recipe.

 Pretty Cabbage Wraps with Almond-Ginger Dip

(makes 8 small wraps)

2 collard leaves
1/4 of a red cabbage, thinly sliced
1/4 of a green cabbage, thinly sliced
come carrot gratings (optional)

-Cut the collard greens into quarters, slicing out the thick stem in the middle
-Slice the cabbage and grate the carrot, and mix together
-Place the cabbage/carrot mixture in the middle of each collard quarter, and roll up

Almond-Ginger Dip

3 Tbsp. Tamari (or regular soy sauce)
3 Tbs. apple cider vinegar
about 2-3 inches of sliced ginger, chopped
4 Tbsp. almond butter
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
pinch of salt

-Blend together in a blender until creamy & smooth
-Store extra in refrigerator
-Dip wraps in almond-ginger dip and enjoy!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Immunity & Probiotics

A block print of an Albatross I made for my dad, who loves Albatrosses.  
They survive pretty extreme conditions, just like those nice little bacteria in your belly!

Did you know that 80% of your immune system resides in your intestinal tract (or "gut" as my sometimes un-ladylike school refers to it)? Yes, it is true. This is why the food you eat matters so much to your health.

You are what you eat, they say. When you eat foods that encourage a healthy digestive flora, then your immune system stays strong, and can fight off illness more easily. When you eat foods that cause inflammation or can't be digested properly, then the bacteria in your gut is forced to fight these unwanted substances, and then your immunity is weakened, and you are susceptible to disease growth or other infections.

So let's talk about probiotics!!!! Probiotics help provide your body with the right amount of healthy bacteria.  They protect your body from other micro-organisms that cause disease, and also encourage the proper absorption of food.  Antibiotics, medication, chemotherapy, and lack of proper nutrition can throw the balance off and cause trouble.

Probiotic supplements are great, but they are short-term.  It is important to eat a diet that includes healthy, fermented foods, which will provide those healthy bacterias, as well as helping you digest your food.  Yogurt, kimchi, sauerkraut, Kombucha (try GT's brand of this delicious drink from Whole Foods!), pickles, and tempeh all fall into this category.

All fermented foods sold at Whole Foods. From left to right: GT's Kombucha, 
Bubbie's Sauerkraut, and Sunjay Kimchee.

If you choose to take a probiotic supplement (which is a great idea), it's best to take on an empty stomach.  Maybe 15 minutes after you've broken your nighttime fast with a whole lot of water, and a little bit before you have breakfast.

If someone you know just told you that the stomach flu is going around, run home and take a probiotic.  It just might fend it off!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Taking Care of Yourself

If you are reading this because you are helping someone you love through cancer, I ask you this:
How many times have you been in a meeting or in yoga (God forbid!) when you find yourself checking your cell phone every 6 minutes to see if the person taking your cancer patient to chemotherapy has tried to check in with you?  You're finally giving yourself a break, you're back at work, or taking an hour to exercise and have some zen, but all you can think about is your cancer patient.

These are the moments when I think....Self-Care is needed!

It is ok to take a moment only for yourself.  In fact, it is more than ok; it is essential.  One of my favorite quotes, by Anne Morrow Lindbergh from "Gift From the Sea" has resonated with me for more than 20 years:

"When one is out of touch with oneself, one cannot touch others."

When you take time out for yourself, you are able to be more helpful, more organized, more in touch.  It will help the rest of your family as well; you can be more present for them.  But most importantly, YOU deserve it.  Make yourself healthy. And happy.  Do what you love.  The ripple effect of this will be noticed by all around you.

Here are my suggestions (and I promise they will only take 3 minutes!):
  1. Make a list of 15-30 minute activities that relax you and ground you (i.e. taking a walk, soaking in a bath, meditating, sipping tea by the fire...)
  2. Make a list of 1-2 hour activities you long for (going to a movie, taking a dance class, getting a massage, eating out with a friend...)
  3. Make a goal for yourself of accomplishing on short activity EVERY DAY for yourself, and one long one every weekend.
  4. Communicate with your family!  Let them know you need the time off. When you are done, you will be more present for them.
The recipe for today is one that I think is perfect for self-care.  It is a one-dish meal.  It will be good for you, and for your cancer figher!  It is cozy, relaxing, and good for leftovers, leaving more time for...YOU!

This really can be served as a one-dish meal. Tonight we had it with raw veggies, too: avocado and sweet bell pepper.

Farro with Cauliflower, Hazelnuts, Mushrooms & Kale

1 cup Farro (a grain, similar to brown rice)
1/2 head of cauliflower
large handful of mushrooms (any kind)
3 kale leaves
1/2 cup hazelnuts
1/4 cup coconut flakes (unsweetened; larger flakes work best)
1/2 cup olive oil (divided between roasting and seasoning)
sea salt

1. Prepare farro: soak 1 cup of farro in water while you boil 1 1/2 cups water in a saucepan.  Drain farro, and cook for 20 minutes, covering & turning to a simmer.
2. Prepare roasted veggies: On a baking sheet lined with parchment, put cauliflower, kale, mushrooms. Drizzle with olive oil and sea salt. Roast for 15-20 minutes in a 400 degree oven. 
3. Toast on a small baking sheet chopped hazelnuts and large-flaked coconut.
4. Combine all ingredients in a bowl.
5. Toss with a generous serving (at least 1/4 cup) olive oil and sea salt. Taste, adjust seasonings, and enjoy!

The toasted hazelnuts and coconut flakes.

The olive-oil drizzled roasted cauliflower, mushrooms and kale.

*All recipes unless attributed otherwise are (c) Christy Halvorson Ross.*

Friday, January 27, 2012

Raw food Heals

Since I continue to be so excited about raw foods and its benefits for ALL people, but especially anyone living with or wanting to prevent cancer, I think I will be touching on this topic more often.  There are some fantastic cookbooks out there.  I just have bought:

-Ani's Raw Food Kitchen by Ani Phyo
-RAWvolution by Matt Amsden
-Superfoods by David Wolfe

The Raw Foods Institute recommends dozens of titles, but these were the three I was most excited about.

To increase the amount of raw and living foods into our diets, to give us more enzymes, micronutrients, and cellular power, we need to make raw foods more interesting. You can't live on salad--it's just not interesting enough.  Soon enough you will be craving something bread-y, something chip-y, something dessert-y, something pasta-y.  These cookbooks provide us for recipes with all of these, to make our food dynamic & healing at the same time.

Because we have a sweet tooth over here, I made a raw dessert the other night: Chocolate Coconut Macaroons.  It was a huge hit.  They assemble in minutes and get eaten just as quickly...and they are actually good for you!

Chocolate Coconut Macaroons

3 cups coconut flakes (I use large and fine flakes, combined)
1/3 cup coconut butter
1/2 cup raw cacao powder
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup maple syrup

-combine in your Kitchen Aid, or with a mixer in a large bowl.
-form into small, tablespoon sized balls
-chill until firm, 30-60 minutes
-store in the refrigerator to keep firm