In this newsletter we will talk about the classes and gatherings offered by ZenSpirit in the coming month, also touching on the burst of creativity at PhotoZen. Sarah is offering some thoughts on asparagus. And we look into the theater boom in Reno and what that may mean to our city.
Let’s talk about you and broccoli, let’s talk about all the good things and the EVEN BETTER things that may be!
While I was conjuring up a subject for this month’s blog, I thought about what’s in season. Broccoli. Then I thought, let’s talk about broccoli. Then I thought about that song by Salt-N-Pepa. You know the one (wink). Then I though about how oddly appropriate that whole train of thought ended up being… broccoli, salt and pepper. Mhmm. And here we are.
Keeping in line with our metaphor, let’s talk about all the good things and the even better things that this perfectly in-season vegetable can do for you!
First of all, I would like to point out that broccoli is green. Oh, you already knew that? Fantastic. Then you’ll also know that green foods are where we get chlorophyll from. “Chlorophyll? More like bore-aphyll,” right? WRONG! Chlorophyll is one of he coolest things I have EVER learned about. Definitely. Porphyrin rings found in chlorophyll molecules, are essential to the production of energy in the mitochondria (also known as the power-house of the cell), giving our bodies the energy to complete tasks from digestion to jumping jacks. The structure of a chlorophyll molecule happens to be extremely similar to that of a heme (oxygen carrying portion of red blood cell) molecule. The main difference is that chlorophyll’s center contains magnesium, while heme’s contains iron. Guess what that means. Chlorophyll-rich foods, like broccoli, are perfect for building healthy, oxygen-rich blood. Yup.
Broccoli is also an amazing source of vitamin C. One of the best vegetable sources, in fact. I know. Every post talks about vitamin C, but that’s because it is integral to pretty much all of the functions of the body. Most importantly, though, it acts as an antioxidant, protecting our cells from free radicals (electrons that are freed from their bonds through oxygen reaction, then bounce around inside our bodies like pinballs, damaging cells willy nilly). An increased amount of free radical damage is thought to be a likely cause of cancer. Therefore, vitamin-C-rich foods, like broccoli may help to fight cancer. ALSO- vitamin C is water soluble, which means we pee it out… so we need to replenish it every day! AND you can really never have enough, so mow down.
Another point for team broccoli is a compound called sulforaphane. It has been shown as a worthy adversary for cancer stem cells, which are thought to initiate and maintain the cancer growth. It also helps to rid the body of carcinogens that could potentially raise the cancer threat.
Now, the moment you’ve all been waiting for; the recipe. And yes, it does involve salt and pepper.
Cold Sesame Noodles with Broccoli
serves 3-4 humans
1 package soba noodles
1 broccoli crown, cut into bite-size florets
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1 inch ginger, grated
2 tsp. lemon juice
1/3 c. olive oil
2 tbsp. toasted sesame oil
1 tbsp. honey or maple syrup
3 tbsp. tamari
1 tsp. red pepper flakes
sea salt to taste
toasted sesame seeds
Cook noodles, drain, and toss with sesame oil. Blanch broccoli and add to noodles. Refrigerate. Place all other ingredients but sesame seeds in blender. Blend on high until emulsified. Toss noodles with dressing before serving. Garnish with sesame seeds.
Happy spring, readers! I hope that this season is as vibrant and joyful where ever you are as it is here!
Mateljan, George. The World’s Healthiest Foods. Seattle, Washington: George Mateljan Foundation. 2007. Print.
Turcotte, Michele. “Foods That Are High in Sulforaphane”. LIVESTRONG.com. February 7, 2004. Web. March 27, 2015.
Li Y, Zhang T. “Targeting cancer stem cells with sulforaphane, a dietary component from broccoli and broccoli sprouts”. PubMed.gov. August 9, 2013. Web. March 27, 2015.
Need I say anything else?
By Sarah Ann Landau
Here’s a holiday treat for you- and I’d venture to say that it will make you feel a little better about mowing down on all that candy you’ve been gambling for these past eight nights, or that Santa left in your stocking. But I’m not here to hold your hand as you slip dreamily into diabetic shock. Chocolate, or cacao, is way more powerful than you may have imagined and it should be regarded as such. There are many medicinal properties that can be attributed to this luscious delight. In the words of Hippocrates, “let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”. Am I right?
Recently there has been a good deal of research into the memory-enhancing and antioxidant potential of this Aztec (believed to be a gift from the God of Wisdom) wonder food. A study from Columbia University found that a group of older folks dealing with degenerative memory issues benefited greatly from the consumption of cacao as well as other plants that are high in flavanols, or flavanoids. A flavanoid is a type of antioxidant that has the power not only to protect cells against free radical damage, but protect blood vessels, prevent inflammation, and help our bodies to utilise vitamin C as well.
Another study, published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, found that eating dark (over 60%, I would imagine) chocolate can actually help to decrease blood pressure AND make the insulin that our bodies produce more effective. This means that we don’t need as much insulin to regulate carbohydrate and fat metabolism. This also means that chocolate could reduce the risk of diabetes in what one may call a “healthy person”. That’s pretty awesome.
Cocoa happens to rank number 8 on the ORAC (Oxygen Reactive Antioxidant Capacity) Value chart and baking chocolate comes in at number 12. Basically, this means that it blows almost every other food out of the water in terms of antioxidant capacity. HOWEVER, antioxidants are sensitive to temperature and processing, so you can only imagine the punch that raw chocolate packs!
Dark chocolate is also an excellent source of both phosphorous and magnesium. One of phosphorous’ claims to fame is being the main component of our cell membranes in the form of phospholipids. Magnesium is responsible for building bones, circulating blood, and relaxing our nerves and muscles. That makes me want to go eat some right now!
So you’ve heard what I have to say about chocolate. It sounds pretty stellar, I will admit, but remember that this is a treat… A very special and healing treat. It was used in ceremony by the MesoAmericans. Perhaps we could bring some of that reverence into our relationships with this powerful food. How about this; every time you eat a piece of chocolate, you have to go outside in your underwear and dance around your house three times while singing “Chocolate City”. But seriously, respect the medicine and it will respect you! More importantly, enjoy it!
Happy New Year, friends. I hope that 2014 has brought a wealth of experience, lessons learned, and goals achieved. It is now time to embrace the possibilities that this new year brings and allow all that does not serve to drift away. Aho!
Mateljan, George. The World’s Healthiest Foods. Seattle Washington, 2007. Print.
“Candies, chocolate, dark, 70-85% cacao solids”. Nutritiondata.self. Web.
“Cocoa Flavanols Can Reverse Memory Loss in Older Adults”. Sci-news.com, Oct. 27, 2013. Web.
Davide Grassi, Cristina Lippi, Stefano Necozione, Giovambattista Desideri, and Claudio Ferri. “Short-term administration of dark chocolate is followed by a significant increase in insulin sensitivity and a decrease in blood pressure in healthy persons1,2,3”. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2005. Web.
“History of Chocolate”. Wikipedia.com. Web.
“Phosphorous”. Wikipedia.com. Web.
How will you fill your plate today?
This morning the Oracle of the Dragonfae offers up The Lovers at the Feast card.
Today like any other day, but perhaps a bit more important in this moment, remember that you are a choice as to what it is that you consume. The food we consume is not only for pleasure is also for fuel and for health. Making wise choices and what is right for you becomes quite important in the days to come. It is clear that you have felt that a change is needed, but the resistance has been there as well. Today is a good day to challenge that resistance and make a small change in what it is that you consume.
Don’t dig your grave with your own knife and fork
With an empty belly I offer you today’s mantra:
I see the choices clearly
Tasty morsels of delight
Knowing what will serve me
I fill my belly and my soul
And Why It Wins in the Winter
I’m sure many of you are decking the halls with boughs of holly and rocking around the Christmas tree right now, brandied eggnog in hand… or perhaps spinning the dreidel dreidel dreidel with your latkes frying away like any normal red-blooded American. But for those of you that are just futzing around, trying to figure out what cookies to bake or how to spice up your holiday, I write this. You, the stay at home mom (or dad). You, the procrastinator extraordinaire. You the incredibly busy hostess. You the college student trying to get a good grade on that last exam. This is for you (and everyone else).
I give you…
Okay, cool. Ginger. Whatever.
You don’t even know– but you are about to find out!
Number one awesome thing about ginger is that it brings the heat. It’s an excellent digestive aid because it brings heat/energy to the digestive system. Have a cup of ginger tea with lemon after dinner and you’ll see what I’m saying. This is also a great weapon to have in the old arsenal for those of us who have a lower body temperature. When I’m feeling chilly willy, ginger tea always does the trick.
If you’re having joint problems, I feel bad for you, son. I got ninety nine remedies and ginger is one. Thanks to this fantastic compound called gingerol, ginger has explosive anti-inflammatory potential. I, myself, use it for relieving joint pain, which tends to be worse in the winter.
This gnarly little root is super high in potassium. Potassium is one the most alkalizing substances we can put into our bodies. What is so freaking awesome about this is that creating an alkaline environment for our cells allows them to function even more efficiently! And as we know from my last post about cranberries, potassium is ESSENTIAL for regulating sodium in our bodies. We need to be taking in at the very least twice as much potassium as sodium for optimal health.
Another juicy little tid bit for you; according to Traditional Chinese Medicine, ginger has the power to promote a calm mind and clear decision making. Feeling overwhelmed by the holiday hoopla? Feel like those voices inside your head just keep multiplying? GINGER!
Now that you have been sufficiently schooled in the magical health-promoting properties of Zingiber officinale, we can get down to the goods… COOKIES!
I developed this recipe from an existing recipe for “You Got Peanut Butter in My Chocolate” Cookies from the cookbook Eat, Drink & Be Vegan by Dreena Burton along with inspiration from a fantastic chef and wonderful lady in Reno by the name of Absolutely Michelle. You can find more info on Michelle at www.absolutelymichelles.com, and you can find her AMAZING cookies at the Great Basin Food Co-op.
Peanut Butter-Ginger Chocolate Chip Cookies
makes 12 medium or 18 small cookies
1 ¼ c. gluten free flour blend (I use Bob’s Red-mill)
1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. salt (½ if your peanut butter is unsalted)
¼ c. coconut sugar
½ c. peanut butter
1 tsp. vanilla
¼ c. melted coconut oil
1/3 c. maple syrup or honey
1 inch ginger, grated
1/3 c. chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, combine dry ingredients and mix well. In a medium bowl, combine wet ingredients (including ginger) and whisk until smooth. Add wet ingredients to dry along with the chocolate chips. Mix together with a spoon or hands if necessary. Roll dough into balls of desired size and space evenly on parchment lined sheet tray, then flatten slightly. Bake 11 to 15 minutes or until beginning to brown. Allow to cool. Enjoy!
Now that you are armed with the power of ginger, go forth and spice up your holiday! Bake some cookies and spread the love. Enjoy them while admiring the Tannenbaum O Tannenbaum or savour them while watching the candles burn during this glorious festival of lights. However you do it, do it with love!
Burton, Dreena. Eat, Drink & Be Vegan. Vancouver, British Columbia. 2007. Print.
E’ale, Henele. Energetic Health Volume 1. Los Angeles, California. 2011. Print.
Mateljan, George. The World’s Healthiest Foods. Seattle, Washington. 2007. Print.
Why your jack-o-lantern deserves better.
If you get this reference, you’re probably wondering why the heck I am using a poem by Walt Whitman as a metaphor for winter squash. The poem O Captain! My Captain! talks about the exalted captain lying lifeless on the ship’s deck once her voyage has been completed. Very sad indeed. Is it not also sad when you’ve gone to the hardware store in search of the perfect tools, set up the newspaper, dug out the slimy guts and SLAVED for over an hour to portray just the right amount of spook on your pumpkin’s side– And once the carving is through, it’s out on the stoop for ONE DAY and it’s shrivelled up like an old prune?!
The answer is yes. It is extremely sad, which is why I resolve to eat my pumpkin.
This year, we actually grew sugar pumpkins, the ones that you make pies out of. We had one plant that produced over twenty squash! Impressive, eh? Nature, she is a lady of magic and mystery. We gave away about half of them, but the rest are going to good use… in our bellies! We’ve made pumpkin curry, pumpkin bread, pumpkin pie, etc. Even our dogs love pumpkin*!
Pumpkins are tasty and versatile, yes, but guess what else they are… SUPER NUTRITIOUS! Just a few of the nutritive tools winter squashes have in their arsenal are:
Alpha & Beta-carotene: These antioxidants are precursors to vitamin A which of course, is awesome vision-support and provides protection from viruses.
Folate: This vitamin aids in the production of skin cells and red blood cells, and also supports proper nerve function.
Potassium: So cool! Potassium helps to keep your sodium levels in in check, and in doing so lowers your risk of hypertension while maintaining proper calcium levels and electrolyte balance.
*My dear friend, Katie, told me that cooked pumpkin is great for upset doggy tummies!
Now that we’ve got that covered, I’m sure you’re just as amped as I am about not only eating and cooking with pumpkins, but nutrifying your body with them! So here is one of my favorite winter squash recipes. You can use any type of winter squash, but let’s use pumpkin for your poor, withered jack-o-lantern’s sake.
Roasted Winter Squash with Rosemary
3-4 c. winter squash, peeled, seeded, and cubed
1 red bell pepper, julienned, then cut in half
3 inch sprig fresh rosemary, picked and chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced or micro-planed
2 tbsp. melted coconut oil
salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a large bowl, toss together all ingredients, then lay out on sheet tray. Bake 30-45 minutes or until the squash is tender when pierced with fork.
Friends, don’t let your pumpkin meet it’s demise on your front stoop, give it a dignified death. Death by mastication. OM NOM NOM NOM!
Mateljan, George. The World’s Healthiest Foods. Seattle, Washington: George Mateljan Foundation, 2007. Print