Farmacy

Just got back from the farmer’s market. I bought a few things that are different for me. Turnips, spaghetti squash, poblano peppers. And fresh pears! You may think I’m nuts being excited about pears, but these are just off the tree – they are water-crisp! I didn’t know pears could taste this good. Apples, too, from their local orchard of apple trees. Ten different kinds of apples at the stand this morning. Back in the summer I bought Opalessence apples from them – if you ever find them you have to try them.

It’s the last day of the farmer’s market season for me. So sad.

On a happier note, isn’t it great that sometimes just a tweak to our diet can bring health where there was pain and discomfort? I’m just grateful for that today. 🙂 I injured my knees recently and had to take a break from hiking, and it reminded me of all these years I had knee pain before I realized I was gluten-sensitive. And it’s been such a relatively easy transition. Crazy, but I actually enjoy the challenge of some limitations to my diet. How boring it would be if I could eat everything and anything. And I love helping friends and family find good food to eat that benefits their bodies. So I hope this blog can do that for you!

Worth thinking about…

Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food. ~Hippocrates

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Enjoy your weekend!

Homemade Almond Milk

For those who would like an alternative to cow’s milk, this may be something you’d like to try. I have tried many brands of almond milk, and a few were okay, but when I read the ingredients, I thought, “Hmmm…homemade would be better.” And it is! (as usual)

These are the ingredients of a popular organic almond milk – “Organic almond base (filtered water, organic almonds), organic rice starch, organic vanilla, sea salt, natural flavor, carrageenan, riboflavin (B2), vitamin A palmitate and vitamin D2.”

Organic rice starch? Why would starch be in a milk product unless it’s to enable the manufacturer to reduce the expensive ingredient (almonds) and make it seem full-bodied by using a thickener? How many almonds might there actually be in this product? I did the math – 1/4 cup almonds has approximately 200 calories. The calorie count for 1 cup of the above-mentioned commercial almond milk is 40 calories. That would be the equivalent of 1/5 of 1/4 cup or less than 1 tablespoon of almonds. That’s about 7 almonds per cup of almond milk. But actually less, because we have to account for the starch calories.

And natural flavor? The exact definition of natural flavorings & flavors from the Code of Federal Regulations, Title 21, Section 101, part 22 is as follows:

The term natural flavor or natural flavoring means the essential oil, oleoresin, essence or extractive, protein hydrolysate, distillate, or any product of roasting, heating or enzymolysis, which contains the flavoring constituents derived from a spice, fruit or fruit juice, vegetable or vegetable juice, edible yeast, herb, bark, bud, root, leaf or similar plant material, meat, seafood, poultry, eggs, dairy products, or fermentation products thereof, whose significant function in food is flavoring rather than nutritional.”

Uh…all I know is “natural” flavor seems to be a highly processed food-like product.

And finally, carrageenan. The jury’s out on carrageenan. From an article on Stonyfield’s website, “Undegraded carrageenan is approved for use in all foods and infant formula in the U.S. In the EU, undegraded carrageenan is not approved for use in infant formula, but is allowed in all other foods that might be fed to children of any age.” There might be more to carrageenan than meets the eye, so if I don’t have to have it, I’d just as soon avoid it.

These are not ingredients that I have in my pantry, and I doubt that you do either. When was the last time you went to a neighbor and asked, “Um, could I borrow a teaspoon of carrageenan?” They’re just not what I would consider real food – whole foods created for us by a loving God to nourish our bodies and keep us healthy.

The ingredients in homemade almond milk? Raw organic almonds, filtered water, a tiny bit of sweetener (such as raw unprocessed honey), a pinch of salt, and pure vanilla extract, if desired. That’s it.

Homemade Almond Milk

Makes 3 cups

Ingredients:

1/2 cup raw organic almonds

1 cup filtered water

pinch sea salt

1 teaspoon pure maple syrup or other healthy sweetener

1/8 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (if desired)

3 more cups filtered water

Instructions:

1. Put almonds into a cereal bowl. Pour water into bowl to cover almonds by 1 inch. Let sit overnight.

2. Drain and rinse almonds. Discard that water. Place almonds, salt, sweetener, vanilla and one cup of fresh water in high speed blender. Blend for about 1 minute, or until almonds are fully pulverized and liquid appears thick and creamy.

3. Add one more cup of water. Blend to mix.

4. Add as much of third cup of water as it takes to reach the 3 cup line. Blend to mix. Taste, adjust flavors, and strain if desired. (If you strain it, the pulp can be saved and slipped into recipes here and there – even cookies!) If you don’t strain it, shake or stir before pouring.

5. Refrigerate and use within 3-5 days.

One cup of this almond milk has about 132 calories, 5 grams protein, 11 grams good fat (monounsaturated), 57 mg calcium, and almost 3 grams of fiber. It can be poured over cereal, used in cream soups and casseroles, and flavored with veggie “bouillon” and/or mushrooms to make gravy, as well as many other uses. In the next post, I’ll be sharing my recipe for Vegan Creamy Butternut Squash Soup made with this almond milk.

Let me know what you find to use it in!

Nutrition and Arthritis

“When Rebecca Soni won a gold medal in swimming, a reporter asked her what made a difference for her in this race. Her reply? She didn’t look at swimmers in other lanes. She focused on what she had to do. You have a race to complete too–it’s called your life. And you don’t have to be like anyone else. No one can do what you can do or change the world the way you can.”    Holley Gerth @ holleygerth.com

Along those lines, I have a voice. I’m not quite sure what it’s going to say here as I start this blog, but I guess time will tell!

I celebrated my 56th birthday this week. When my husband asked what I wanted to do that day (after work), I said, “Let’s go for a bike ride!” We did and had a blast.

Still celebrating my birthday on Saturday, we went to the Poconos area and hiked Mt. Tammany. We not only made it to the lookout, we made it back down without incident!

This may not seem like such a feat, but my knees have been sensitive since I was in my 20s and banged them up roller skating. As I’ve gotten older, they’ve only gotten worse. X-rays and MRIs have shown, well, really messed up knees. Sometimes I would even say, “Ow! Ow! Ow!” as I merely went down steps, let alone this rocky trail!

But this birthday, I felt good! Strong! Pain-free!

Why?

I want to share about this in case it might help anyone else.

Yes, I exercise. I try to do 1/2 hour on my stationary bike daily as well as a bit of Pilates for core work. And I’ve always noticed a difference for the better when I’ve been faithful to this regimen.

But a few months ago, I felt terrible and was so discouraged and tired of feeling pain. I was determined to try anything (short of drugs) to lessen my joint pain. You see, I had joint pain all over. Right shoulder, knees, wrists…I felt much older than 55. So I went online to find information about arthritis and stumbled across a book called, “Foods that Fight Pain,” by Dr. Neal Barnard. I went right to the library, took it out, and devoured the chapter on arthritis. He explained that in the early 1990s, the role of nutrition in arthritis was established beyond any reasonable doubt:

“In 1991, researchers in Oslo, Norway, reported in The Lancet a study in which they eliminated foods believed to be common arthritis triggers in a group of 26 arthritis patients. The average pain score fell from over five, on a scale from zero to ten, to under three. Joint stiffness, swelling, and tenderness diminished, and grip strength also improved. Most importantly, the benefits were sustained on reexamination a year later.

“Numerous studies have shown that, if testing is done with sufficient care, dietary sensitivities can be identified in 20-60 percent of subjects. Pure vegetarian (vegan) diets appear to benefit about half of arthritis patients, including some who have not identified a specific diet trigger.”

The foods he suggested be eliminated on a trial basis were:

Dairy products Citrus fruits
Corn Potatoes
Meats Tomatoes
Wheat, oats, rye Nuts
Eggs Coffee

So I eliminated them, and I lasted about two weeks! Of all of those foods, I wanted my tomatoes, dang it! But I felt better. I had less pain. So I very gradually reintroduced all of the above foods except for gluten-containing foods. I stayed off gluten for the next 3-4 months, which brings me to the present.

Prior to this elimination diet trial and the discovery that I’m evidently sensitive to gluten, I felt pretty hopeless about my future regarding joint pain. No one’s more amazed than I am that I have no pain now!

I could not sleep on my right side for about 8 months because I had so much shoulder pain. Now I can turn back and forth all I want, and it doesn’t wake me up. And I can be more active! When I tried riding my bike (regular bike) for about 5 miles a few months ago, my knees were inflamed for about a week. On my birthday, I rode for 7 miles with no repercussions!!!

I encourage you, if you have joint pain, even a diagnosis of osteoarthritis, you may want to try eliminating the above-mentioned foods for a short time. Gradually reintroduce one food at a time every 2 or 3 days to see if you react. You may find that your body is sensitive to one of these foods and your joints become inflamed as a reaction to ingestion of that food.

So my new adventure, once the weather is consistently cooler, will be learning to bake with gluten-free flours. In the meantime, I’m just grateful for all the foods I’m NOT sensitive to!

For more information:

http://www.pcrm.org/health/health-topics/foods-and-arthritis

http://www.livestrong.com/article/530531-gluten-intolerance-is-causing-joint-pain/