The Amazing Chia Seed

I discovered chia seeds while studying nutrition and now they are a staple in my kitchen. Most people know of chia seeds from growing “Chia Pets” as children. Who knew they are actually jam packed with protein, soluble fibre, protective antioxidants, vitamins & minerals! Learn more about military diet.

The latin name for the chia seed is saliva hispanica, it is a species of flowering plant in the mint family. Traditionally it is grown in Central  America cultivated by the Aztecs, Mayas, Tehuantapecs, and other native American peoples.  They were so highly prized that they were at one point used as valuable currency. Apparently, the seeds were known for increasing endurance-  which is useful to know  whether you’re an Aztec warrior or a busy mom!  According to Spanish manuscripts, the Aztecs called chia their “running food” because messengers reportedly could run all day on just a handful.

These wonderful little seeds  have the highest known level of essential omega-3 alpha-linolenic acid, more protein, energy and fiber than any other whole grain. They are an excellent source of calcium, phosphorous, magnesium, potassium, iron and zinc. Chia seeds are loaded with antioxidants, they have among the highest antioxidant activity of any whole food– even more than fresh blueberries.  They are safe for just about everyone to eat, as there are no known allergies to chia seeds.  Chia do good stuff for the body, like keeping blood pressure and blood sugar under control. They are also a hydrophilic and can absorb more than 12 times its weight in water. This makes it especially helpful in maintaining body hydration.

Due to  the unique way they break down in the digestion system, chia seeds may help slow the conversion of carbohydrates into sugar in the stomach.  A 2007  showed some impressive health benefits. Patients who ate up to four teaspoons of chia seeds every day for three months reduced their blood clotting factors by 20 percent; reduced markers for inflammation by 30 percent; increased the levels of essential omega-3 fatty acids by 80 percent; dropped six units in systolic blood pressure.
To get an idea of how chia seeds are broken down, simply place a spoonful of them into a glass of water. After about a half an hour, you will notice the seeds have broken down and bonded with the water to form a thick gel. In the stomach, this gel creates a physical barrier between carbohydrates and the digestive enzymes that break them down —effectively slowing down the conversion of carbohydrates into water.

Yet another great thing about chia is that they are so versatile and easy to incorporate into our daily diet. You can sprinkle them over cereal, use them in salad dressings, smoothies and dips. I tend to soak a couple tablespoons in coconut water overnight and have the refreshing gel in the morning.

Try this recipe for Chia Pudding:

1/4 cup whole chia seeds (use more for a firmer consistency)
1 cup almond milk (or other non-dairy milk)
1 banana (optional  if your milk is unsweetened)
2-3 dates, pitted (optional  if your milk is unsweetened)
a few dashes cinnamon
a pinch of salt

Place the chia seeds in a bowl or covered container.  If using the banana and/or dates, blend them in a food processor/blender with the milk, cinnamon and salt.  Pour this mixture over the chia seeds and stir well.  Let it soak on the counter for at least 10 minutes until thickened, or cover and soak in the fridge overnight.  Stir again before serving and top with fresh fruit and another dash of cinnamon or spices.

So simple and so good! ChChCh… Chia!

For more information on the benefits of chia seeds I recommend 

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Go Raw

At last! There is now government data that proves raw milk is safe, check out this from Weston A Price Foundation.

Whole milk, in it’s unprocessed form is health promoting and provides us with high amounts of   vitamins C, D, A, B12 and B6, it supports our immune system and is full of goodness.

Ever wondered why there are so many people with allergies to milk? Pasteurization destroys beneficial enzymes, including lactase which is required by the body to digest lactose. It diminishes the vitamin content and destroys vitamins C, B12 and B6. So what started out as a healthful beverage turns into another highly processed food that has been tampered with for our supposed benefit.

When I learned the big differences between regular pasteurized milk and raw milk, I made the switch. I drank raw milk throughout my pregnancy, and my 11 month old son enjoys raw goats milk.

We are lucky in California to be able to buy raw milk in our markets. It does have a higher price tag, but as is true with so many things, you get what you pay for. I find that instead of buying 2 quarts of regular milk per week, buying one quart of raw milk is enough for me. Even if you cannot find raw milk in your area, most stores sell raw milk cheese which are preferable to pasteurized cheeses for the same reasons.

When buying regular milk, it is important to note that vitamins A and D are fat soluble, so it’s best for your health to avoid fat free dairy. Even if fat free milk is fortified with those vitamins, your body won’t be able to absorb and utilize them as it needs the fat to do so!

Enjoy this quick pick me up recipe adapted from Peggy O Mara at Mothering magazine  -

Mama Nog -

1 Cup raw milk (you could also use almond milk)

1 raw egg (pastured)

1 tbsp blackstrap molasses

1 tbsp nutritional yeast

1 tbsp raw honey

Blend all ingredients together and enjoy!

For more information on the benefits of raw milk go to  and

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Summer Popsicle Time Is Here!

This year I decided it was time to experiment with making my own icy treats. My son Kai, soon to be 10 months old is now enjoying all kinds of food. As he grows I want him to enjoy classic summer treats, just not the processed sugar laden ones that are in all the markets. The great thing about making your own treats is that there is no limit to the amount of goodness you can pack in for yourself and your family. I was inspired by a recipe I saw on  website. I copied it below, but you can read  the whole article with more recipes 

            Tropical Coconut Pop

  • 1 13.5-ounce can coconut milk (or coconut cream equivalent) 
  • 1-2 bananas, depending on size 
  • 32 ounces frozen mango or pineapple, or a blend 
  • 1-2 tablespoons coconut oil 
  • 1-2 raw egg yolks 
  • dash of vanilla 
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup, or to taste flaked coconut (optional)

Blend, pour into popsicle molds and freeze.

Yum! They turned out great, and since then I’ve experimented with more flavors.

Try this recipe too:

            Strawberry Pop

  • 1 cup strawberries
  • 5 tablespoons yogurt (or coconut milk/cream)
  • 3 dates
  • Dash of vanilla
  • 1/4 cup water

Blend all ingredients together and pour into popsicle moulds.

I have discovered that frozen pops are a great natural teething aid too. Kai loves to have them with just water to suck on when his teeth are bothering him, but I’ve also given him  chamomile tea and peppermint tea pops to ease his pain.

Once you get started with making frozen pops you will realize how easy and delicious summertime treats can be. Homemade has the added benefit of knowing that you are not ingesting artificial colors and flavors, or high fructose corn syrup. I like my popsicles tart and even sour tasting, but you can decide how much sugar to add, and which type of sweetener you want to use. I recommend using dates, honey, maple syrup or limited amounts of cane sugar. Adding chunks of whole fruit pieces is fun, and you can experiment with adding citrus zest or grated fresh ginger root for added punch.

Here’s to summers full of goodness!

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Nourishing Bone Broth

Broths made from bones have been used  throughout human history.   Nearly every traditional society boiled bones of meat-giving animals to make a nourishing broth.   

I consider myself lucky to have grown up watching my mother and grandmother prepare traditional meals from scratch. Stews, roast meats, jams and chutney were staples as leftovers were always used in creative ways.  Homemade broths were also a staple and made frequently, usually with leftover bones from the Sunday roast dinner.
The rewards of homemade broth are plenty. Bone broth is extremely nutrient dense and according to many specialists, it can be helpful in treating over 50 diseases ranging from things like inflammation, hypertension, fatigue, depression, hyper activity, diabetes and food sensitivities.

Unfortunately, broth making has become a thing of the past. More and more people use commercially  prepared broths or stock cubes and homemade is fast becoming a distant memory. We are all too busy to make our own, and the lure of convenience nearly always wins.

Commercially prepared broths are  inferior to homemade in many ways. Quality cannot be assured and even organic broth lacks the essential qualities that homemade broth offers. Traditionally made broth uses bone and cartilage from pasture raised animals.  It produces a gelatin rich, flavorful base for soups, sauces, gravies as well as providing a cooking medium for grains and vegetables.

Gelatin has many beneficial effects.  It is a great aid to digestion and has been used  in the treatment of many intestinal disorders including hyper acidity and Crohns disease.  As well as, diseases of the blood, diabetes and cancer. Even when no other food is tolerated, such as in illness, or with cancer treatments, patients often do better when gelatin is added to the diet. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, gelatin is classified as a tonic herb, specifically used to tonify the blood.

Making your own broth is really easy and very cost effective, using the leftover bones from a roast meat and whatever vegetables you have in the fridge couldn’t be simpler. The pot simmers on the stove for hours so there is no need for constant checking, you can do other things!

I prefer to buy my meat directly from the farmer, that way I can be sure of the quality and healing benefits. You can also buy chicken with its head and feet still on, which is great for providing that extra gelatin.  Using vinegar in the water to soak bones before cooking helps draw all those beneficial minerals into the finished broth. The recipe below uses chicken, but you can easily substitute beef bones or lamb bones too.

Pastured Chickens make excellent broth! These chickens are from .

BASIC BONE BROTH (From Nourishing Traditions Cookbook by Sally Fallon)

  • 1  whole chicken (feet and head of chicken are optional)
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 4 quarts cold filtered water
  • 1 large onion, coarsely chopped
  • 2 large carrots, coarsely chopped
  • 3 celery sticks, coarsely chopped
  • 1 bunch fresh parsley

You can either roast the chicken prior to making the broth, and use the leftover bones or cut whole chicken into pieces and put into a large pot.  Place all ingredients into a large pot except the parsley and let stand for 30 minutes.  Bring to a boil and remove the scum that rises to the top. Continue to simmer for 6 to 24 hours.  About 10 minutes before the end of cooking, add the parsley. Strain the broth into a large bowl and cool in your refrigerator until the fat rises and congeals. Skim off this fat and transfer the broth to containers you want to store it in. Use the broth as a basis for nourishing soups or use to cook rice, quinoa and stews.

I use ziplock freezer bags and store them in the freezer, using 2 cups per bag. I usually get 12 – 14 cups.

* If you use beef bones, use approximately 4 pounds  along with 2 pounds of browned rib bones*

For more information on the healing power of broth read this  on Weston A. Price Foundation website.

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GMO Cows Producing Human Milk?

It was bad enough that we had GMO corn going into our foods and being fed to cattle, now we have cows producing human milk?  They haven’t perfected it yet and boast claims that it is “nearly human”. Research has shown that GMO crops fed to animals cause liver, kidney and blood problems. Despite large companies such as Monsanto assuring us that these products are safe, it is possible that GMO crops could have the same effect on humans. Independent researchers published a study showing that GMOs are linked to organ damage. Check out the study .

Scientists are hoping that this GMO human milk will be a better substitute than formula for women who cannot breast feed.  Breast milk is nutritionally superior to formula and scientists have not been able to replicate it. The consistency of breast milk is amazing, it actually changes during a feeding and continues to as the child grows. GMO human milk from cows will still be inferior to a mother’s milk and potentially dangerous. Women who cannot breastfeed can obtain human milk that has been donated by mothers from milk banks around the country. There are strict guidelines to ensure the safety of the milk and donors are thoroughly screened. The banks are not well advertised, since there is not as much money to be made, perhaps? For further information on milk banks . Check out the article below and say NO to GMO!

ALERT OF THE WEEK

from Organic Consumers Association newsletter Organic Bytes

Stop Genetically Modified “Humanized” Milk Cows!

Researchers at the China Agricultural University say they have forcefully inserted genetically modified human genes into cows to produce a breast-milk-like substance.

The research was funded by the Beijing GenProtein Biotechnology Company which hopes to soon sell its genetically modified dairy products in supermarkets.

Like cows injected with genetically engineered bovine growth hormone before them, these new “humanized” dairy cows are likely to suffer poor health while producing milk that is nutritionally inferior and more likely to trigger an allergy or increase cancer risks in the children or adults who drink it.

Cloned and genetically modified animals also suffer greater health problems, increased mortality and a high number of still births.

Food produced from these animals is dangerous for humans because the insertion of foreign genes into DNA strands remains an inexact science. These foreign genes hit the DNA strands in random spots, changing the way they are expressed (turned on and turned off) and creating proteins never before ingested by human beings. These novel proteins could prove dangerous for large segments of the human population who find they are allergic to them.

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Why I Won’t Be Giving My Son Gummy Bears

At last! New studies are coming out showing that what we give our children to eat has a direct result on whether they develop ADHD. Check out these articles  and . The studies showed clearly that when children stopped eating processed candy bars and foods laden with chemicals, preservatives, artificial flavors and colors their symptoms reversed. Even their school teachers were amazed “The teachers thought it was so strange that the diet would change the behavior of the child as thoroughly as they saw it. It was a miracle, the teachers said.”

Brightly colored packaging and clever marketing  entices children and adults to buy these highly processed foods.  It’s funny how people actually think that my son will be missing out if I don’t feed him “treats” such as chocolate buttons, processed cookies and brightly colored candy such as gummy bears. He will definitely get his fair share of treats, but ones that will foster fun family times, helping me to make cookies and fun pure fruit popsicles in the summer. Our taste-buds become accustomed to what we eat on a regular basis, and it may be a struggle at first to cut out the processed junk food but in no time at-all you will be amazed that you ever used to eat it, children also become used to the taste of real food very quickly. I used to enjoy Macdonalds hash browns and Snickers ice cream bars. As I became more aware of how unhealthy they were for me I stopped eating them. Then, around 3 years ago I decided to try them again. I almost threw up. After the first bite I knew what a mistake I’d made, they went in the trash immediately.

It irks me that in restaurants the “kids Menu” is always junk food. Chicken nuggets and fries, pizza and fries etc. Why not have some hummus with veggies to dip? Baked sweet potato fries with grass fed beef pattie? If we feed our children good quality real food from the beginning their taste buds will become used to the taste of real food. Of course they may stray down the line, but while you can control what the family eats, why not have it be real?

So I urge you to bake with your little ones, if you don’t know how, then  have fun learning together.  Your children will thank you for it.

Contact me if you need recipe ideas.

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Parsley – it’s not just a garnish!

I must admit, I used to think that parsley was only good for a garnish.  I never even thought to taste it, always moving the little sprig on my plate to the side in order to get to the “real food”. Little did I know what a super food it really is.  I discovered parsley while working on an organic farm in Maui. We grew  flat leaf  Italian parsley and curly parsley, both grew in abundance and for the first time I saw it as more than the little garnish on my plate.

Parsley is one of those additions to a recipe that sky rockets the nutritional value of the meal. It is jam packed with antioxidants, and has an  extremely high chlorophyll content in addition to vitamin C, iron, folic acid along with minerals magnesium, calcium, potassium and zinc. Quite a list! Due to this high nutritional value it is known to have anti-cancer properties, is a good blood purifier and when steeped in hot water and drunk as a tea it helps to release retained water from the body.

Parsley is actually really fresh tasting and can be incorporated into dishes easily.  Here is   one of my favorite recipes:

Power Slaw (Use organic ingredients  if possible)

  • 1 beetroot
  • 1/2 white cabbage
  • 2 scallions (spring onions)
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 bunch fresh parsley
  • Dressing:
  • 1 lemon
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

Finely grate all raw ingredients into a salad bowl, using a food processor or vitamix makes it really quick and easy, or it works just as well to use a hand grater (even better get someone else to do it while you make the dressing!). If you are preparing by hand, finely chop the scallions, parsley and cabbage, then mix in the bowl with the grated carrot and beetroot. To make the  dressing, crush the garlic then mix with the lemon juice and olive oil. Drizzle it over the slaw and mix well. Serve garnished with a sprig of parsley!

Other ideas to use this super food:

  • Finely chop and beat a handful of parsley into your eggs with some parmesan cheese before cooking for a yummy omelette.
  • Finely chop and cook into soups and stews, use it to make broth.
  • Mix a handful into a salad
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