Chia Magic Seeds
By Sudha Hamilton
This is no Jack and the bean stalk magic seed story but there are some parallels with reaching a giant nutritional understanding from what appear to be very little seeds. There is an exciting buzz about Chia seeds, and the more I researched, the more I discovered that there is good reason to get excited. They are like little black and white magic granules, that you can sprinkle over ordinary food, to make it like Jack’s beanstalk; extraordinary! These seeds are an ancient superfood, rediscovered and we now have the science to understand their incredible properties and to explain the magic. Chia is also being grown in the Kimberley region of Western Australia, making it an Australian superfood.
Chia (Salvia Hispanica), a plant of the Salvia genus in the Mint family, originated in the Valley of Mexico and was traditionally cultivated by the Aztecs. The seeds of the Chia plant are incredibly rich in nutritional value. Chia was one of the Aztecs most important food sources and had great value as a superfood, as it was said that the equivalent of a tablespoon of seeds could sustain a warrior for 24 hours. Due to its unusual properties, it was used as a medicine for both oral and topical applications. It was even used, as a monetary currency; such was the esteem with which it was held within their culture. Known as the running food, its use as an energy rich endurance food was well known amongst the Indians of south west Central America and Mexico. Chia was forcibly removed from the diet of the Indians by the conquering Spanish because of its important cultural and religious links to their previously established kingdoms.
The chemical basis underpinning its qualities as an endurance food is revealed by the following experiment: if you add water to a teaspoon of Chia and leave it for half an hour you will find not seeds in water but an almost solid gelatinous mass. The soluble fibre (mucilage or long chain polysaccharides) in Chia is the cause of this and the same process is thought to occur in the stomach once we have ingested Chia. This gel then forms a physical barrier between the carbohydrates and the digestive enzymes, which break them down, slowing their conversion to sugars. Similar to a sustained release vitamin pill the energy is available for longer and the metabolic changes are stabilised, avoiding the highs and lows commonly associated with digestion. Chia would have positive effects for diabetics. Chia also has the ability to absorb twelve times its own mass in water and this hydrophilic quality helps you to remain hydrated for longer. With the vital importance of fluids and electrolytes to healthy cell life throughout our body, the Chia seed’s ability to help the body regulate its absorption of nutrients and fluids becomes a wonderful natural helper in keeping a healthy cellular balance. Chia seed’s hydrophilic colloidal qualities can aid in the digestion of foods that may cause indigestion or heart burn in some people.
Chia seed’s high oil content makes it the richest vegetable source for Omega 3 essential fatty acids and as most of us now know how important it is to redress the imbalance in our diet caused by the over consumption of food’s heavy with Omega 6 fatty acids. Both are important but many people have diets with twenty times the amount of Omega 6 to Omega 3 fatty acids present. Chia seeds are rich in the unsaturated fat linoleic, which our body cannot produce itself, and a diet rich in this helps us to absorb Vitamins A, D, E & K. It also helps in the respiration of our vital organs and in the distribution of oxygen through the blood stream to all cells, tissues and organs. Unsaturated fatty acids are essential for healthy glandular function, in particular the adrenal and thyroid glands. Chia seeds also contain long chain triglycerides, which can help to reduce cholesterol on arterial walls. Chia is a rich source of calcium as it contains the mineral boron, which aids the body in absorbing calcium from foods.
Chia is an incredibly versatile food due to its ability to absorb large amounts of water and become a gel. The Chia frappe is probably one of the best known yummy applications and here are a selection of recipes to delight your palate.
Chia Avocado & Honey Frappe
½ cup chia gel
1 peeled deseeded ripe avocado
1 tbsp honey
1 tsp freshly grnd black pepper
2 cups soya milk
1 cup crushed ice
Chia Chai Tea Frappe
1 tbsp chai syrup
½ cup chia gel
2 cups soya milk
1 cup crushed ice
Chia Berry Smoothee
½ cup chia gel
1 cup fresh or frozen mixed berries
½ cup yoghurt
1 tspn honey
2 cups soya milk.
Chia seeds are fantastic sprinkled over rice noodles in your Vietnamese rice paper rolls.
Vietnamese Rice Paper Rolls with Sate Dipping Sauce.
Mix in a large bowl.
1 packet rice noodles rehydrated.
1 tbsp minced fresh ginger
2 tbsp chia seeds
2 tsp black pepper
2 cups chopped fresh coriander
1 cup chopped fresh mint
½ cup soy sauce
1 tbsp sesame oil
½ cup fresh lime juice
1 tbsp fish sauce
1 cup julienne celery
2 cups bean shoots
1 cup julienne red capsicum
1 cup julienne carrots
½ cup minced Spanish onion
1 packet rice paper wrappers rehydrated
roll mix into finger shaped rolls.
In a saucepan gently heat and whisk together until creamy.
1 tbsp minced ginger
1 tbsp minced garlic
4 minced red chillies
½ cup soya sauce
2 tbsp palm sugar
1 cup peanut butter
1 can coconut milk
With a mild slightly nutty flavour Chia seeds are great sprinkled over salads, added to cakes, muffins, breads and just about anything else you can think of.
Chia, Fetta Bran Muffins
1 cup wholemeal plain flour
1 ½ cups wholemeal SR flour
2 tbsp chia seeds
½ cup bran flakes
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp finely chopped fresh rosemary
1 tsp grated lemon peel
200g unsalted butter
4 whole 60g FR eggs
1 cup soy milk or alternative
2 medium sized brown onions roughly chopped & liberally braised in olive oil
1 cup parmesan grated
1 cup crumbled sheep’s fetta
1 tbsp chopped fresh basil
Preheat oven to 180C. Grease muffin trays & or line trays with muffin cases. Sift flours & dry ingredients in to a large mixing bowl. Either rub in softened butter by hand to this dry mix or whizz together in a food processor until you achieve a breadcrumb-like consistency. In a separate bowl whisk eggs, soy milk, lemon peel & herbs, before folding in fetta & parmesan cheeses & cooled braised onions. Slowly & gently fold this wet mixture into the dry ingredients. Add in extra grind of black pepper & sea salt. When thoroughly mixed spoon cake like mix into individual muffin rings. Bake for 25 to 35 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.
©Eco Living Magazine
Eco Living Magazine presents:
Heading: Probiotics – Fermenting For Life.
Intro: We are not alone. In fact, we are hosts to trillions of micro-organisms, happily munching on our waste products and doing a sterling job within our digestive system.
It may come as a bit of a shock to those of us with obsessive compulsive cleaning tendencies, that killing all the tiny invisible bugs is not a really good idea. Bacteria are all around us, within us and performing vital tasks for our health and the health of this planet. Of course, like everything in existence, there are good and bad bacteria, not intrinsically bad but just bad for humans – and probably quite good for something else. The good bacteria, (or gut flora), are involved in a myriad of useful functions – such as fermenting unused energy substrates, producing vitamins for us, preventing the growth of bad bacteria, producing hormones to help us store fats, and improving our immune functioning. If we did not have all these bacteria munching away our bodies would be unable to digest many of the carbohydrates that we consume – like certain starches, fibres, proteins, and sugars like lactose. Studies with animals indicate that we may need to eat 30% more calories to maintain our stable body weight without the helpful presence of gut flora. The good bacteria transforms carbohydrates into short chain fatty acids, and these are able to be processed by our cells into nutrition and energy. Lactic and acetic acid are also produced by this saccahrolytic fermentation, and they are used by our muscles. There are numerous other positive functions supported by good bacteria in our systems.
Bacteria have also been shown to be implicit in preventing allergies (which are an over reaction of the immune system to non-harmful antigens). Research into children with allergies has confirmed that the make-up of their gut flora is different to those without allergies. The role that bacteria play in training our immune systems to respond to antigens is the key point in understanding this. A baby inside its mother is bacteria free, and develops its gut flora through birth and breast feeding initially.
By the second year of life the infant’s faeces contains a similar amount of bacteria as an adult. The prevalence of Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) in our western societies has been linked to our obsession with hygiene. Our predilection for kitchen and bathroom cleaning sprays has “über- sanitised” our homes, and has thus lowered the absorption – and the variety – of useful bacteria available in the colon to break down waste material. The lack of breastfeeding for the baby boomer generation has also contributed to this situation. Not to mention the pharmaceutically driven overuse of antibiotics that has killed off gut flora in exceptional amounts. The inverse of this occurs in developing countries, and there is no sign of IBD at the rates that we experience it here in the West.
Probiotics, meaning literally “for life”, can help with IBD and other conditions associated with bacteria levels, which are out of balance or missing vital components. Originally discovered by science at the beginning of the twentieth century, before being named ‘Probiotics’ in 1953, it has been defined by Dr Roy Fuller (author of Probiotic’s in Human Medicine) as, ” a live microbial feed supplement which beneficially affects the host animal by improving its intestinal microbial balance.” Of course, sour milk and yoghurt have long been part of healthy regimes employed by cultures around the globe. The naming of particular strains by science is as much about recognizing effective natural approaches to nutrition, as it is about reinventing the wheel and claiming credit for it. Lactobacillus Acidophulis is probably the best known probiotic strain but there are many more including the Bifodobacterium family, the rest of the large Lactobacillus family and Escherichia Coli. Many of these are now available in supplement form, having been combined to form effective treatments for many bowel complaints, helping with lactose intolerance, some cholesterol reduction, improving immune function and lowering blood pressure. There is a large and still growing body of scientific evidence, indicating that diet supplementation with live probiotic bacteria may confer a significant health effect on the host, when those bacteria are consumed in “adequate” amounts. In fact, one important problem is that more then 400 bacterial species are thought to be present in the normal intestine, with bacterial concentration in the colon equivalent to one thousand billion bacteria per gram. This means that only “high-potency” probiotic products, i.e., those that contain at least a comparable number of live bacteria per gram of product, can be expected to modify the bacterial flora in the gastrointestinal tract in terms of quantitative and qualitative composition. Consult your natural health practitioner for advice on which probiotic supplement is best for your particular condition.
The argument against probiotics by some nutritional scientists is that the bacteria in these supplements and foods cannot possibly survive the naturally occurring acids in our stomach and this is where prebiotic foods come in. Prebiotics are non-digestible ingredients in foods, which stimulate the growth and activity of certain helpful bacteria – fructoologosaccharides and galactooligosaccharides are the two that best fit the bill. These can be found in functional foods like bananas, berries, asparagus, garlic, Jerusalem artichoke, onions, chicory, legumes, oats, tomatoes, spinach and other greens. Perhaps a diet rich in both prebiotics and probiotics is the best solution for those seeking a healthy bowel.
Fermented foods like miso, tempeh, soya sauce, kim chi, sauerkraut and other pickled vegetables also offer lactic acid bacteria. The oriental cultures in particular – who have developed these fermented foods – are well known for their traditionally long lived healthy lives. The pickling process activates certain bacterial properties within the food, and eliminates some of the qualities that inhibit the food’s digestion by humans. Pickled or activated nuts and seeds, which have been treated in a solution – a brine or other acidic liquid – for some time and then slowly warmed through a dehydrating process are a great example of this. Delicious and much more digestible.
©Eco Living Magazine.
A2 Milk Different White Stuff
With The Sacred Chef
INTRO: A few years ago; ‘milk was milk’, it came in funny shaped glass bottles and was delivered by a milkman, (who was rumoured to be infamously linked with extramarital activities), and who would run along behind the truck carrying the clinking milk bottles in their crates.
Then, along came the momentous choice between full fat milk and low fat milk; and glass milk bottles went the way of the dodo. Nowadays, producers are adding so much stuff into milk that it is hard to keep up – omega 3 fatty acids, added calcium, vitamin D, in addition to coffee, chocolate, banana and other flavours. ‘Low fat’ has been joined by ‘no fat’ and milk comes in a variety of cartons and plastic bottles. So, today a trip around the supermarket and up the dairy aisle entails a whole lot more choosing time than it once did.
If you really think about the simplicity of where it all came from – over there is the cow and here is a bucket and you pull on these…. Well now there is a whole new kind of cow’s milk to think about called A2, and this is an essentially different type of milk than everyone else’s. Humour aside, this is probably the most important development in the understanding of one of our most cherished consumer foods. We drink a lot of cow’s milk and we give our kids a lot of cow’s milk products, and if there is a concern about it; we should all be informed.
There are two main forms of the important cow’s milk protein, beta casein, found in the cows’ milk that you drink. These two forms are known as A1 and A2 beta casein. The A2 form of beta casein has been identified by scientific research to be the original form of beta casein that would have been produced by cows thousands of years ago. Every litre of milk contains about two teaspoons of beta-casein, usually a mix between A1 and A2. A2 is the original type but over time a natural mutation occurred in some European cattle, and A1 beta-casein developed, says Keith Woodford, professor of farm management and agribusiness at Lincoln University in New Zealand, and the author of a book on the subject: Devil in the Milk.
According to Woodford, the genetic difference between the two beta-caseins is tiny, but the difference in outcome is enormous. “The beta-casein has 209 amino acids (the building blocks of proteins) and the difference between A1 and A2 is just one of these,” he says.
A1 milk beta-casein has been linked to allergies, type 1 diabetes, heart conditions and more recently some psychological conditions, such as Asperger’s Syndrome, Autism and Schizophrenia. For more info on these issues or to see details of the Devil in the Milk by Keith Woodford visit www.unireps.com.au
A2 milk is not genetically modified. It’s not that the A1 protein is taken out later: it’s that it was never there! The milk used in A2 branded milk is taken only from cows that produce the A2 form of beta casein.
Make Your Own A2 Yoghurt
Sterilize all bowls, utensils or yogurt maker (internal container) before starting. You can sterilize them in the dishwasher or boil them for 5-10 minutes.
What do you need:
* 2 litres of A2 Full Fat Milk
* 1 teaspoon dairy-free acidophilus
1. Bring milk to just under boiling point, and then pour the milk into a glass or earthenware dish. Let the milk cool to about 42°C.
2. Prepare starter by combining acidophilus powder with 3 tablespoons A2 Milk (at room temperature).
3. Pour the starter mixture into the milk carefully without disturbing the skin that may have formed on the surface of the milk.
4. Cover with a cloth, place in a warm, draft-free place for 8 to 12 hours or overnight, and do not disturb it until the yoghurt thickens.
5. Drain any excess liquid and store in the fridge for 4 to 5 days.
To make your yoghurt a thicker consistency
1. Remove the skin on the surface of the yoghurt you’ve just made.
2. Pour the yoghurt into a muslin bag.
3. Hang the bag over a bowl and let drain for about 2 hours or until the desired thickness is obtained.
Serve with fresh berries or passionfruit; stir a little maple syrup through for an added treat.
©Eco Living Magazine.
GOJI Berries a Closer Look at a Yummy Superfood!
By Sudha hamilton
Everywhere I look these days I am seeing the word Goji, in cereals, coated in chocolate, as a juice & as dried berries.
What is the real story behind this berry? Is it the real thing? A real superfood? Or more marketing hype?
The Goji or Wolfberry has been traditionally used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) for around 2000 years & is now coming under the closer scrutiny of western medicinal research. Lycium Barbarum, as it is known botanically, has a long history of medicinal usage in the orient & more recently medical trials have been happening in China & Japan. One Australian company, Tree of Health, has begun scientific studies at the Southern Cross University into the efficacy of the unique combination of polysaccharides contained in high levels in Goji berries. The ongoing research into the roles that these polysaccharides play in our biochemical make-up has excited many nutritional experts around the world. Longevity through cellular health is the buzz that is reverberating around much of the Goji literature.
The Goji berry is an important tonic ingredient in TCM & has traditionally been used to foster long life. Both the berries & the roots are used in preparations that strengthen the kidneys, nourish the liver & increase libido. Carotenoids contained in Goji berries are considered to be why its ingestion has contributed to reports of improved eye sight. Goji berries are nutritionally very rich, with lots of phytonutrients, Vitamin C, amino acids & polysaccharides (complex carbohydrates). The fresh Goji berry is one of the world’s richest sources of Vitamin C & that alone is probably a good reason to get on the Goji. Antioxidants of course play a big role in the anti-ageing effect of a good diet in combating free radicals & Goji berries have a particularly high antioxidant rating, due to the range of rich phytonutrients they contain. There is much speculation into the causes of diseases, like the many forms of cancer & heart disease, being linked to free radical molecule activity amid low levels of antioxidants with the body. Eat well = live well.
There are many personal testimonials, by both doctors & patients, in the Goji berry literature, who have noticed profound improvements to a variety of conditions. Arthritis, diabetes, heart disease & many more, but there are not the double blind tests in place at this time to prove this true to the satisfaction of our scientific community & the bodies like the Therapeutic Goods Administration that govern our health industry. However many healing practitioners are of the opinion, based on their professional experience, that if something is contributing to an improvement in your overall wellbeing then it is often no surprise when the body begins to heal itself of a particular condition. This again cuts to the crux of the self-empowerment versus patient = victim, in the health debate in this country & throughout the world.
Why now is there this great interest in supplements & superfoods amongst our population? Isn’t is a clear indication that people are wanting to take responsibility for their health & should not this preventative approach to medicine be actively supported by governments? Are the actions of the Complementary Healthcare Council & the Therapeutic Goods Administration a help or hindrance to furthering preventative medicine in this country? Questions that in my opinion need to be framed in the ongoing health debate into who has the power to heal, you & me or the AMA & the state.
Although Goji or “matrimony vine,” as it is also known, does grow wild in certain valleys of the Himalayas in Tibet, the Goji juice or berries that you or I can purchase will not be from there. Much of the commercial plantings are in China, in Ning Xia province in the northwest in the mineral rich lower reaches of the Yellow river. The use of the words Himalayan & Tibetan are more “feel good” branding than correct labelling of source. As recent international reports confirm there are concerns involving imported products from China, with one imported spice concoction containing salmonella & another here in Australia involving excessive use of formaldehyde in blankets, it is in my opinion worth investigating whether the Goji product that you buy has been checked in Australia for levels of pesticide usage & residue within the imported product. The National Measurement Institute in Australia provides this service to importers & distributors. There is currently no certified organic Goji product available.
I must admit from recent personal experience, that dried Goji berries coated in dark chocolate are absolutely delicious & that I did notice a bit of lift in my energy levels the next day. As a big fan of food that tastes great perhaps it is only fitting that a true superfood does taste really good!
©Eco Living Magazine
Cordyceps Liver Tonic
By Sudha Hamilton
In the 1990’s a group of female, Chinese, distance runners broke world records in their events by considerable margins. The apparent ease of their wins attracted a great deal of suspicion in regard to possible illegal drug use, but what emerged was not a steroid or erythropoietin (EPO) tainted athletic performance rather a rediscovery of an ancient Chinese remedy centred around Cordyceps Sinensis. Cordyceps are very rare and unique fungi, also known in China as Dong Chong Xia Cao (“Summer Grass, Winter Worm”), it has been highly regarded and effectively utilised in Traditional Chinese Medicine for well over 2000 years. It grows in the Qinghai-Tibetan plateau, at an altitude of about 3,500 metres and can only be harvested in relatively small quantities. Its positive effect on increasing stamina was first observed by Tibetan shepherds, when their flock of yaks had consumed the fungi whilst eating the summer grasses and then proceeded to mate more vigorously than previously observed. In the wild it has a symbiotic relationship with a particular variety of caterpillars, which consume it and then become one with it on a cellular level.
What actually are fungi?
Fungi are a division of eukaryotic organisms, which grow in irregular masses, and are without roots, stems, or leaves; they are also devoid of chlorophyll or other pigments capable of producing photosynthesis. Fungi contain ergo sterol instead of cholesterol in their plasma membranes. They reproduce sexually or asexually (spore formation), and may obtain nutrition from other living organisms as parasites or from dead organic matter as saprobes. Fungi have a well-defined cell wall composed of polysaccharides and chitin; they can be moulds, yeasts, or dimorphic.
Cordyceps Sinensis is now being safely grown and processed to be available in capsule form, this process does not involve caterpillars. Its use in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) centres on its properties as a liver tonic and it stimulates the system encouraging greater stamina. Cordyceps has powerful active ingredients, which can help restore the normal functioning of the body, stimulate immune response, increases energy, vitality, and longevity. Recent research has shown that Cordyceps can improve peak performances during sports, and also has muscle-building capability. In TCM, Cordyceps has been used to help regulate blood pressure, strengthen the cardiovascular system, and improve sexual energy. Clinical tests performed at the Hunan Medical University have shown that Cordyceps significantly contributed to increased levels of libido in the test subjects. Further clinical studies, primarily with elderly patients with fatigue, showed that Cordyceps-treated patients reported improvements in their wellbeing, ability to tolerate cold temperatures, memory retention and cognitive capacity. According to the biochemical analysis of Cordyceps species it is noted that they contain interesting properties like Cordycepin, which has been used to create the pharmacological drug Ciclosporin – which is helpful in suppressing the body’s immune system during organ transplants. In 1950’s the chemical constituent of Cordyceps were determined by and a crystalline substance was isolated and named Cordyceps acid. This acid was later identified to be D-mannitol and further studies were performed to identify the constituents of the fungus. The chemical substances isolated were; ‘amino acids, steric acid, D-mannitol, mycose, ergo sterol, uracil, adrenine, adenosince, palmitic acid, cholesterol palmitate and 5α-8α-epidioxy-5α-ergosta-6, 22-dien-3β-ol’.
My own personal experience in taking a Cordyceps supplement was that it immediately acted on my liver and stimulated similar sensations to when I was on a liver cleansing program. I did then begin to feel greater levels of stamina in my day to day life and it encouraged me to be more aware of parts of my diet which were not in tune with a liver cleansing program. I would recommend a juice fast and/or a raw vegetable diet for a few days before beginning taking Cordyceps, to maximise its efficacy. It is also recommend, by TCM consultants engaged by the manufacturers, taking the supplement first thing upon awakening and last thing before retiring to sleep – two capsules a day drunk with plenty of warm water for the kidneys. Whether you are feeling run down and needing a potent natural lift or perhaps you actually are preparing for a marathon, Cordyceps could be the answer for you.
©Eco Living Magazine
Spirulina the original Algae Superfood!
By Sudha Hamilton
Spirulina is the name commonly used to refer to a food supplement produced primarily from micro blue-green algae, which lives on sunlight through photosynthesis in alkaline waters. It has been highly valued as an excellent source of nourishment by many different cultures for centuries. Now widely available in many different forms – tablet, powder, flake & liquid, it is fast becoming one of the better known so called “superfoods.”
Historically Spirulina is thought to have been a food source for the Aztecs, as reported by the Spanish in the 16C, during their occupation of parts of Central America. After its harvesting from Lake Texcoco, which is located in Mexico, it was sold in a cake form. The Aztecs apparently called it Tecuitlati, meaning stone’s excrement, perhaps indicating they were not mad on the taste of it but recognised the nutritional value despite this. Researchers in the 1960’s found a plentiful supply of Spirulina at Lake Texcoco & the world’s first large scale production plant was established there in the 1970’s.
The cultivation of spirulina takes place on lakes & in open channel raceway ponds, with paddle wheels used to agitate the water. It grows naturally in lakes in China, Mexico & Chad & is now being cultivated commercially in these places. Further commercial cultivation of spirulina is now taking place in Thailand, the USA, India, China, Taiwan & Myanmar. There has been much discussion over the last few decades about the ability of micro-algae’s like spirulina to become superior food sources that could feed the hungry in the third world & hopefully end malnutrition & starvation amongst the poor. Indeed space agencies like NASA & the European Space agency have proposed spirulina to be a likely candidate as a food source that could be cultivated aboard spacecraft during lengthy journeys.
Spirulina is a complete protein & contains unusually high amounts of protein in comparison to all other plant sources. The nutritional content of Spirulina are many and varied, with all 8 essential amino acids and 10 non-essential amino acids present. It is also a rich source of vitamin C, B complex & E. The provitamin Beta Carotene is also contained in spirulina & this is turned into Vitamin A by our bodies. Its deep green colour comes from its rainbow of natural pigments – chlorophyll (green), phycocyanin (blue) and carotenoids (orange) – that harvest the sun’s energy. Spirulina is easy-to-digest, which means that the nutrients are absorbed quickly. Spirulina is also a natural source of iron. Spirulina contains anti-oxidants, which of course are important in reducing the effect of free radicals that contribute to the ageing process & setting up a conducive environment for diseases. It has many unique phyto-nutrients like phycocyanin, polysaccharides and sulfolipids that enhance the immune system, possibly reducing risks of infection and auto-immune diseases. It has cleansing chlorophyll which helps detoxify our bodies of ever present pollution.
Any contentious issues involving spirulina are mostly directed at the purity, quality of cultivation, harvesting & manufacturing processes. Whether certain spirulina’s are from organic, natural sources or rather artificially grown, often to avoid the possibility of toxic blue-green algae outbreaks that can occur in lakes around the world. In either case today’s spirulina is cultivated in man- made ponds or strictly controlled water-ways. There is continuing scientific research into improving all aspects of cultivation & manufacturing. This really is a superfood that has the potential to not only greatly improve your own health but quite possibly feed the world as well. As we continue to over populate our planet & pollute our traditional food sources it may be time to turn to the wondrous spiral shaped micro-algae for our trip into the future.
©Eco Living Magazine
Heading: Aphrodisiacs in Food
Yummy food Yummy love
With The Sacred Chef
Intro: Celebrating spring is very much about the birds and the bees, sowing seeds and enjoying the fecundity of nature. So what foods stimulate the arousal of life inside us by their essential chemical make-up and perhaps by their shape and form?
Eating well – beautiful organic food presented naturally, and eaten after some blood pumping exercise is the first step. Food tastes so much better when you have a healthy appetite for it. Don’t eat out of habit. Don’t eat the same boring thing every day. Don’t eat if you are not hungry. Food like love making is better when it is special.
Food is an essentially visual art medium, like painting it is an arrangement of form and colour on the plate. Glistening green spears of asparagus with a dollop of basil, macadamia nut and honey mayonnaise; freshly shucked oysters alive in their sea salty liquor; ripe red strawberries perfect in their natural state; a salad of warm artichoke hearts, goats cheese, fresh figs and baby spinach leaves; or a tangle of fettuccine slippery with extra virgin olive oil, cherry tomatoes, chilli and chunks of ocean trout. Each dish can be a moment of poetry, involving all the senses – what other art form do we literally consume. Let the smears on your serviette be a testament to the abundance of your life!
Food for fertility and a touch of “friskiness”
Zinc is one of the most important minerals to be aware of in relation to our libido and fertility levels. It helps maintain sperm count and levels of testosterone in men and in women; it is involved in a healthy menstrual cycle; it is vital for cell division during pregnancy. Zinc is also needed for the parts of our brains that activate our sense of appetite, taste and smell. Oysters are packed full of zinc, as are fish, green leafy vegetables, lean meats, nuts and pulses.
Organic veggies have higher levels of mineral content than those grown with chemical assistance. Why not grow your own organic veggies? Spend a weekend digging in a patch and readying the soil for sowing – you will be amazed when green things start sprouting and you will feel a quiet pride when you first serve the progeny of your garden to friends and family. The taste, (oh! the taste) will blow your mind. You get the complete package – exercise by honest toil to build appetite, pheromones from perspiration to attract the opposite sex, superior nutritional value from organic produce, and the best flesh for taste and colour.
Avocadoes were known as testicle fruit by the ancient folk in Central and South America. They are rich in phyto-chemicals and are linked to lowering cholesterol. Their creamy texture, gorgeous colour, (and reputation as an aphrodisiacal food), make them an ideal ingredient in dips, salads and wraps. Three quarters of the avocadoes, which we consume in Australia are of the Hass variety – with distinctive purple black skin and oval shape. Other varieties are the Shepard – green skin with golden buttery flesh ( and the only avocado not to turn brown once cut open), available from Feb to April; Reed – green skin when ripe, round shape, peaks in November; Sharwil – smaller pear shaped avocado with a rich nutty flavour; a winter/spring variety; and the Wurtz – a smaller winter avocado grown in Queensland. Try spreading avocado, a good local honey and cracked black pepper on some lightly toasted sour dough rye bread for a delicious and nutritious start to the day.
Tropical fruits are pretty much sexy per se; things that like to grow and ripen under the sweaty equatorial sun. Biting into beautifully coloured fruits that explode in your mouth, and send streams of juice running down your chin are experiences to surrender to. Fresh pineapple slices are particularly like eating sunshine – and of course mango is the queen of the slippery fruit affair. These fruits are full of antioxidants, vitamin C and a diet rich in them can make you feel vital and youthful.
The following is an excerpt from Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
Penguin Books ISBN 9780143038412
Holy of Holies – Perfect Pizza in Italy
“Pizzeria da Michele is a small place with only two rooms and one non-stop oven. It’s about a fifteen minute walk from the train station in the rain, don’t even worry about it , just go. You need to get there fairly early in the day because sometimes they run out of dough, which will break your heart. By 1pm, the streets outside the pizzeria have become jammed with Neapolitans trying to get into the place, shoving for access like they’re trying to get space on a lifeboat. There’s not a menu. They have only two varieties of pizza here – regular and extra cheese. None of this new age southern Californian olives-and sun-dried tomato wannabe pizza twaddle. The dough, it takes me half my meal to figure out, tastes more like Indian nan than like any pizza dough I ever tried. It’s soft and chewy and yielding, but incredibly thin. I always thought we only had two choices in our lives when it came to pizza crusts- thin and crispy, or thick and doughy. How was I to have known there could be a crust in this world that was thin and doughy? Holy of holies! Thin, doughy, strong, gummy, yummy, chewy, salty pizza paradise. On top, there is a sweet tomato sauce that foams up all bubbly and creamy when it melts the fresh buffalo mozzarella, and the one sprig of basil in the middle of the whole deal somehow infuses the entire pizza with herbal radiance………”
Recipes from the Sacred Chef
A different kind of sexy is the feeling you get sliding a warmed spicy olive into your mouth.
Warmed Kalamata Olives in Infused Oil
Into a fry pan over a low heat, pour 2 tbspns of extra virgin olive, then chop up a lime & 6 cloves of garlic and a piece of ginger, a sprig of rosemary, a cinnamon quill and add this to the warming oil, before adding in 3 cups of Kalamata olives. Stir through for 5 minutes and add salt & pepper to taste. Serve on a platter.
Salted fresh pineapple is a great way to serve the tangy flavor sensation of fresh ripe pineapple.
Choose a ripe pineapple by its aroma, if you can find one that has not been too dulled by refrigeration, cut it up into bite sized pieces and lightly salt with a special sea salt freshly ground down in your mortar and pestle. Accompanied by a fresh lime soda or a cold beer — and heaven is right there on that tropical island inside your taste buds.
Fresh Asparagus Spears dipped in Basil, Macadamia Nut & Honey Mayonnaise
Whole free range egg or egg yolk mayonnaise with a teaspoon of Dijon mustard
3 Tsp honey
1 Tbsp white wine vinegar
1 Tbsp fresh lime juice
1 cup fresh basil leaves torn
½ cup roasted macadamia nuts
1 ½ cups extra virgin olive oil drizzled in slowly.
Freshly ground black pepper & sea salt to taste.
Whizz it by hand or in the blender adding in your oil slowly as you go. Lightly steam or blanch your asparagus spears and serve accompanied by your tangy mayonnaise.
Warm Salad of Artichoke Hearts, Fresh Figs, Goats Cheese and Spinach Leaf Salad
4 Globe Artichokes Steamed Peeled and halved
3 Figs sliced lengthwise into quarters
120g fresh goat’s cheese served at room temperature
1 cup chopped fresh parsley
3 cups baby spinach leaves
3 Romano tomatoes sliced lengthwise into quarters
Dressing – ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp lemon juice
Sea salt & black pepper to taste.
Begin with the warm artichoke hearts and cover them with dressing before gently arrange dobs of the goats cheese amid the figs, tomatoes, parsley and spinach leaves on a platter and lightly toss before serving.
©Eco Living Magazine.
Eco Living Magazine presents:
Preconception Care – exploring the need in the modern context
By Karen McElroy, Naturopath & Medical Herbalist
Intro: A holistic approach to preconception health care is vital for a healthy conception and pregnancy.
The term ‘preconception care’ relates to the time prior to attempting conception, whereby health is optimised in the hope that a couple will conceive easily and attain a healthy pregnancy and birth.
There is perhaps a greater need for preconception care today, given such things as inadequate diets, a polluted environment and our often stressful lifestyles. A truly holistic approach to reproductive health must address these factors.
It takes approximately 115 days to fully develop sperm in men, whilst the development of an individual ovum takes about 100 days in women. So the health of a couple in the three to four months prior to conception can play a big part in the health of these germs cells and the subsequent health of the developing embryo and eventually the health of the baby. This idea is the cornerstone of preconception care.
Foresight (The Association for the Promotion of Preconceptual Care) in the UK, is an association who have carried quite a lot of research into treating couples in the preconception period to increase their chances of both conception and a healthy pregnancy outcome.
Couples following the Foresight programme are given the following advice:
- Avoid contaminants in food and water, such as pesticides, some food additives and bacteria, by eating a nutritious, whole food organic diet.
- Identify and correct trace mineral deficiencies and heavy metal toxicities.
- Avoid smoking, alcohol, street drugs and other non-essential medication.
- Screen for genito-urinary and other infections (eg: Rubella, toxoplasmosis, etc.).
- Identify any other problems, eg: due to allergy, malabsorption, candida and /or parasites.
Couples wishing to start a family are encouraged to follow a programme which looks at these areas and identifies and corrects potential areas for concern, after which the pregnancy can be started with a normal, strong sperm and ovum, the embryo can implant in a healthy uterus and can develop in optimum conditions. There will be no danger from nutritional deficiency, or damage from heavy metals or other toxins or viral, and/or bacterial disease.
Foresight has found that under these conditions it is possible to have uncomplicated pregnancies resulting in strong and healthy babies. This approach to preconceptual care can be applied as a means of improving general nutritional status and fertility in any couple planning to have a baby, regardless of previous history. The results of Foresight’s three year study found the preconception programme to be particularly successful for 80% of the couples in the study – including many couples who had previously experienced problems with recurrent miscarriage or unexplained infertility. Even some couples who had unsuccessful attempts at artificial methods of conception, such as IVF, were able to conceive naturally.
Couples wishing to conceive can benefit from having a consultation with a qualified naturopath or herbalist. They will provide a thorough assessment of your diet and lifestyle and advise on any changes necessary. Also if there are any underlying health issues for either partner relating to reproductive health such as poor sperm count or gynaecological conditions, herbal and nutritional remedies can be prescribed. A preconception check-up with a doctor is also advisable – this may include blood tests to check folate and iron levels, rubella immunity and a PAP smear.
Reproduced with thanks to www.joyousbirth.info The Australian Homebirth Network – a great community resource, providing support and information on birth traumafor women who have experienced birth trauma, as well as info and support for an empowered birth.
©Eco Living Magazine.
Eco Living Magazine presents:
Heading: Mad, Bad and dangerous to eat…
The “Poisons in our food chain” Series.
Part 1 Aspartame
A recent survey of 166 studies into the safety of Aspartame found that 74 of them had NutraSweet related funding and that they all found that Aspartame was safe. Whereas of the 92 independently funded studies, only 8% of them found that Aspartame did not have safety concerns in humans to answer to.
Aspartame is the technical name for the main ingredient in many artificial non-sucrose sweeteners; including NutraSweet, Equal, Spoonful and Equal-Measure. It is also at the top of the list of chemical baddies that are still being approved by government agencies for use in our food. You will also find Aspartame commonly used in soft drinks, pharmaceutical products and over the counter cough lollies and syrups. It is said to be an ingredient in over six thousand items of consumer foods/drinks. It is a compound of aspartic acid, phenylalanine (a free amino acid isolate) and methanol (wood alcohol). This combination is subsequently responsible for some very serious negative activity in our bodies, including nerve cell necrosis (death) which can lead to organ system disease and also contributes to dangerous toxic interactions with other pharmaceutical drugs. Aspartame crosses the blood/brain barrier and damages brain tissue and causes lesions on the brain, where the dead cells once were. It also affects the autonomic nerve system located down the spine and the conjunction system of the heart. It is quite simply a neurotoxin.
How, why and when did Aspartame become approved for human consumption? It was discovered accidentally in 1965 by James Schlatter – a chemist working for the pharmaceutical company G.D. Searle & Co – and was found to be 180 times sweeter than sugar. Initial safety tests were inconclusive, as to whether Aspartame may have caused cancer in rats and the US Food and Drug Agency (FDA) did not approve its use in food for many years. Further testing did not answer why the brain cancer developed in the rats, and the debate raged on until some familiar names entered the scene.
One Donald Rumsfield became Searle’s CEO and Ronald Reagan became US President, and he appointed Arthur Hull Hayes FDA commissioner, who approved Aspartame in the dry goods food category. In 1985 Monsanto bought G.D.Searle and the Aspartame business became a separate subsidiary; the NutraSweet Company. I would love to tell you that it is not about money or that there was never a suspicion of corruption; but I cannot. In 1995, the FDA Epidemiology Branch Chief Thomas Wilcox reported that Aspartame complaints represented 75% of all reports of adverse reactions to substances in the food supply from 1981 to 1995.
The metabolic journey that Aspartame takes once ingested causes it to break down into several residual chemicals and further break down products include formaldehyde, formic acid and diketopiperazine. Exposures to very low levels of formaldehyde have been proven to cause chronic toxicity in humans. There has however been scientific disagreement regarding how the body deals with the methanol and formaldehyde produced by Aspartame, and this debate is one of the key reasons why Aspartame has not been reviewed and subsequently banned by regulatory government bodies in the western world. The phenylalanine component of Aspartame, which is one of the nine essential fatty acids, makes up around 50% of Aspartame’s mass and this is highly unsafe for those with the rare genetic condition known as Phenylketonuria. It is also known that Aspartame can spike blood plasma levels of phenylalanine, as it is absorbed much faster than naturally occurring phenylalanine containing proteins. This has caused further debate into whether Aspartame ingestion by pregnant mothers can harm the safe development of neurotransmitters in the brains of fetuses. Similarly the 40% of Aspartame broken down into Aspartic Acid also causes large spikes in the level of the acid in blood plasma and these can act as excitotoxins- which can inflict brain and nerve cell damage by crossing the blood/brain barrier. Again there is scientific debate over whether humans are as susceptible to this extensive brain damage as are the rats, for which the research shows conclusive proof. Further concerns regarding Diketopiperazine, which is created in products as Aspartame breaks down over time, can through nitrosation in the body create a chemical which can cause brain tumors.
So we are left with a situation of scientific disagreement paralysing regulatory bodies, and lots and lots of health complaints, ranging from the small, to claims involving hundreds of thousands of possible deaths. A recent survey of 166 studies into the safety of Aspartame found that 74 of them had NutraSweet related funding and that they all found that Aspartame was safe. Whereas of the 92 independently funded studies, only 8% of them found that Aspartame did not have safety concerns in humans to answer to. Science may not be as clean and trustworthy as those white lab jackets that so many scientists are fond of wearing might indicate to us. After all, if you ask the right questions in any scientific study you can pretty much get any answer you are after. Omission is as much of a cause of death as anything else.
©Eco Living Magazine.
Miracle Healing Mushroom
By Sudha Hamilton
Mushrooms or rather Fungi are intrigueing organisms, with certain species being the largest known on this planet (covering hundreds of kilometres) & with more species of fungi (1-2 million) than any other.
Even more bizarrely, the mushroom has been seriously suggested as one of our true visitors from outer space, with the spores having travelled here aboard meteorites millennia ago. Perhaps those mushrooms with psychotropic properties really do have something to say to us. Certain species of mushrooms are also known to have great healing qualities & the Lingshi(Chinese) or Reishi(Japanese) mushroom, which is known botanically as Ganoderma lucidum is perhaps the greatest of these. Widely revered & utilised in Traditional Chinese Medicine for over 4000 years, it is probably the oldest species of mushroom to have been utilised medicinally. Lingzhi in Chinese has been translated to mean’ “herb of spiritual potency.” In Shen Nong’s Herbal Classic, dating back 2000 years & considered to be the oldest book on oriental herbal medicine, the Linghzi mushroom is ranked number one superior medicine of all 365 listed healing herbs.
Ganoderma is a bracket fungus, which in nature grows at the base of deciduous trees like the maple. It is however quite rare in the wild & is now cultivated commercially both indoor under sterile conditions & outside in controlled environments. It is the polysaccharides & triterpenes contained within Ganoderma’s fruiting body & mycelia that have shown to have efficacy in improving immune system functioning. Ganoderma lucidum is the only known source of a group of triterpenes, called ganoderic acids, which have a remarkably similar molecular structure to steroid hormones. Also contained within the mushroom are ergostol, coumarin, mannitol, lactones, alkaloids, unsaturated fatty acids & vitamins B1, B2 & B6 & a variety of minerals.
Numerous studies in medical institutions around the world have been conducted into the healing abilities of Ganoderma lucidum & it has shown a remarkable effectiveness in treating an amazing array of diseases & conditions. Western medicines desire to isolate compounds from nature so that they can be synthetically reproduced by pharmaceutical corporations have been frustrated by inconsistent results in the studies of the isolated ingredients within Ganoderma that were thought to be the active constituents. This leads many experts to speculate that it is the combination of these active ingredients that may be the answer to its magical healing qualities. Research has shown Ganoderma’s effectiveness in strengthening the respiratory system, with healing of the lungs & benefits to those with asthma & bronchial complaints. It is generally considered to be an excellent restorative, improving immune system functioning. It has also shown to be anti-inflammatory, antiviral, anti-parasitic, anti-fungal & anti-allergenic. Altogether a healing superfood of the highest order. Recent studies in Australia have included a clinical trial at the University of Western Sydney into the healthy maintenance of blood pressure, blood sugar & cholesterol levels for optimum heart function with the aid of Ganoderma supplementation. Also studies at the University of Sydney in its Herbal Medicines & Research Unit confirmed the presence of high levels of anti-oxidants.
In the preparation of Ganoderma extracts it has been found that the oil within the spores contains a greater presence of the active compounds that are thought to be responsible for its amazing healing properties than the body of the fruit itself & that there is a husk or spore wall around the oil within. When this husk is removed it allows greater absorption by the body of the active constitutes, recent break throughs in the extraction have now made this possible.
High quality extracts of Ganoderma are now available in supplement form & are beginning to be included as ingredients in teas & other beverage formats.
©Eco Living Magazine