Spice Up Your Life

It’s no secret that spices have wonderful flavor, adding much to our culinary palette. But did you know that spices have more to offer than taste, in fact in some cultures spices are highly valued for their medicinal benefits. With cold and flu season approaching it seems like a good time to explore spices for flavor and for health.

spices-market

Indian, Chinese and many Indigenous people use herbs and spices for various health needs. Turmeric (Curcuma Langa) for instance, is touted as a super food with multiple health benefits. A member of the ginger family, it is native to Asia and used in Pakistani and Indian recipes as a staple spice. Along with its delightful taste, turmeric is one of the highest sources for beta-carotene due to its curcumin content. Its also noted with containing strong antioxidant, antibacterial, anti-arthritic and anti-inflammatory qualities and is known to strengthen the nervous system. There is a great deal of interest among cancer researchers as to turmeric’s ability to reduce cancer cells. This article is worth reading http://www.mskcc.org/cancer-care/herb/turmeric. As with any health aid it is wise to note potential adverse reactions related to particular conditions. Turmeric can be taken as a tea, added to recipes or in capsule/tincture or oil form.

tumeric bulb

http://www.nanotech-now.com/news.cgi?story_id=49363http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=78;

Cinnamon is a spice most of us are familiar with and use on a regular basis. There are actually two types of cinnamon: Ceylon cinnamon commonly used in the western world and cassis cinnamon from Southern China. Some studies have had positive outcomes showing cassis cinnamon reduces blood sugar levels in people with diabetes.

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http://www.scottsdalefitnessandhealth.com/natural-remedies-for-blood-sugar-control.html; http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=68; http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2092486

Cumin originated in Egypt and is a spice not as widely known in western cooking as cinnamon, though it is widely used in Middle Eastern, Mexican and Indian cooking. Cumin’s health benefits are similar to cinnamon in reducing blood sugar and new research has it showing some promise as an anti-carcinogenic spice. It can be found in seed or ground spice form most often in cooking and in oils, tinctures and elixirs for medicinal purposes.

cumin-seed

http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=91; http://www.livestrong.com/article/415653-ground-cumin-health-benefits/

Many of us have strong associations to the holidays when we smell cloves. Its strong fragrance reminds us of favorite baked goods, mulled cider or a baked ham. Some of us have clove extract to address tooth pain. Cloves are used in ground form most often in cooking/baking but are also used whole in drinks or to season meats.

oranges-cloves

I like to make orange, clove pomanders like these ones to hang on my Christmas tree.

Clove is most commonly used medicinally as an expectorant and so it is often found in teas and oils. It comes in gum form to address bad breath and to aid digestion. Cloves contain eugenol, a component that has been studied for its anti-inflammatory qualities as well as its ability to remove toxins from the body. Clove oil is used widely for its antimicrobial, antifungal, antiviral, antiseptic and aphrodisiac properties. Similar to cinnamon and cumin, clove also contains a good amount of nutrients such as iron, magnesium and calcium.

http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/251.html; http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=69

Cayenne pepper is another spice used widely in spicy cooking and can be found in in dishes from all over the world. Chili originated in Central and South America, but the cayenne pepper is named for the city of Cayenne, in French Guiana. Along with its spicy addition to a favorite dish it has many health benefits including inhibiting cancer cell growth, increasing blood flow, anti-inflammatory properties and is used in some cases for weight reduction.

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http://www.ecorazzi.com/2013/07/22/the-incredible-health-benefits-of-cayenne-pepper/; http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/267248.php;

Finally, ginger. I use fresh ginger daily in recipes and in tea. It is a wonderful digestive aid and adds spice to an array of dishes. It also is known as an anti-inflammatory food as a result of a compound (gingerols) which acts as an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent. Ginger is the object of a good deal of research related to cancer as well. Research in several cancer studies have shown the potential that ginger actually inhibits the growth of cancer cells.

ginger

http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=72; http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19833188

Here’s a pretty effective elixir to boost immune function and help with congestion due to a cold: From Kim Erikson

1 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil
1 large clove garlic, juiced or minced
1/2 lemon juiced
1 Tbs fresh ginger juice or finely grated ginger
pinch of cayenne pepper
mix all ingredients and take at once as a shot
Happy Health!
Leanne Yinger, M.Ed. @ Kira’s Kitchen
Board Certified Holistic Health Coach

Kira the Wonder Dog’s Greatest Adventure

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On September 8th, Kira the Wonder Dog left this planet for her greatest adventure ever leaving a large hole in my heart. I trust that with time (and apparently a lot of cooking) my heart will mend. Kira brought a smile to so many over the years with her ridiculous antics, sweet smile and her loving loyalty. Her pal Poohger continues to look around the house and yard for her. and when we take our familiar walks through the neighborhood Poohgar stops at all the Kira spots looking around as if she expects her to jump out from the bushes. I must admit I haven’t quite adjusted to the routine of our lives without her. And so this blog post is in honor of our dear friend Kira who brought us all great joy and who is running those grand figure 8s in puppy heaven now.

As the crisp fall air, perfectly blue sky and shorter days become the daily experience I have been gathering the foods I planted this summer to store so the fresh tastes of summer are available during the winter months. This week I have made pesto and pickles…guess it has been a “P” week. There is nothing quite as nice as making a pesto dish in January to remind us that spring will come again before long. In fact I’m not waiting until January to eat some pesto. I found these delightful recipes in Eating Well Magazine and I’ll be making the arugula pesto tonight. http://www.eatingwell.com/recipes_menus/recipe_slideshows/healthy_pesto_recipes

pesto

I also put up about 16 pints of dill pickles, some the refrigerator variety and some the old fashioned canned variety. I like the uncooked version because the healthy bacteria don’t get cooked out of the pickles when you refrigerate them. This weekend I will be putting up several pints of red and green cabbage sauerkraut also without cooking out the healthful bacteria. This is an easy to follow recipe for homemade sauerkraut that I found to be very good: http://www.freshpreserving.com/recipes/homemade-sauerkraut. There are many health benefits to eating traditional fermented foods which I have shared in previous blog posts. If you would like more information check out Dr. David Williams http://www.drdavidwilliams.com/traditional-fermented-foods-benefits/ and Dr Oz http://blog.doctoroz.com/oz-experts/fermented-foods-for-powerful-immunity. Starting with sauerkraut is easy but there are many wonderful quick pickle recipes out there as well. I’m adding a broccoli stem quick pickle I make and eat weekly:

Broccoli Stem Pickles

2 cups broccoli stems

2 tsps rice vinegar

2 cloves garlic minced

½ tsp fresh grated ginger

½ tsp coriander seeds crushed

½ tsp cumin seeds crushed

½ tsp sea salt

Using a sharp knife peel away the fibrous skin of the broccoli and then cut the pale inside trunk into matchsticks.

Blanch broccoli matchsticks for 1 minute in boiling water, rinse immediately with cold water. Then place in glass bowl.

Whisk together remaining ingredients and pour over broccoli matchsticks in glass bowl.

Refrigerate for 2 hours, serve.

Benefits of Broccoli from The New Whole Foods Encyclopedia by Rebecca Wood

           Broccoli supports the liver, spleen, stomach and bladder and helps to regulate circulation. It treats the eyes and helps to reduce eye inflammation. Broccoli is slightly diuretic. It’s anti-cancer, anti-fungal, anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties are due in part to its immune boosting glusinolates (specifically indole-3-carbinol and sulforaphane). Broccoli contains twice as much vitamin C as an orange and is a superior source of vitamin A and K. It has almost as much calcium as whole milk and its calcium is better absorbed. Broccoli contains selenium, is a modest source of alpha tocopherol vitamin E and has value as an antioxidant.

cherubs & pups 004kira snowKira Christmas Dog

So here’s to you Kira girl…we love you and hold you close in our hearts forever.

Take a moment this weekend to tell the people and pets in your life how much they matter to you. Share a meal together without the distraction of phones, TV or computers. Relish these simple times together sharing attention and love and you will be spreading the ripple of that love and appreciation into a world that can at times seem unkind.

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I send prayers of gratitude to all that has given of itself on this day.

The strong beans, and the hardy grains, the beautiful leafy green plants and the sweet juicy fruits.

I thank the sun that warmed and vitalized them, just as it does me,

And the Earth that held and nourished them, as it does me,

And the waters that bathed and refreshed them, as they do for me.

I thank the fire that transformed them, just as I wish to be transformed by the fire of Spirit.

I thank the hands that grew and prepared this food,

Just as I thank all those that have touched me in so many ways.

Sedonia Cahill

Blessed Be

Leanne Yinger, M.Ed.
Certified Holistic Health Coach @ Kira’s Kitchen

Stay Vacation in Paradise…HOME

My stay vacation in Berkshire County is nearing at an end. I’m happy to say I’ve accomplished many of the house projects I set out to do this week and I had a ton of fun on the cheap. One the favorite things this week was taking a walk with my daughter Kristen and my two dogs on the Ashuwillticook Rail Trail http://www.mass.gov/eea/agencies/dcr/massparks/region-west/ashuwillticook-rail-trail.html where we found a momma duck and her ducklings. She was right out of the children’s story book Make Way for Ducklings. She seemed unfazed by my dogs who by all rights are bird dogs though they have been humanized by me and would rather swim than retrieve birds. Kristen is as much of a birder as I am so we were pretty happy to get photos.ImageImage

After a day of heavy rain I took a walk at Wahconah Falls State Park http://www.mass.gov/eea/agencies/dcr/massparks/region-west/wahconah-falls-state-park-generic.html. The falls were high which I expected, as was the mosquito population but it was completely worth the trip. I took many photos and a 1 minute video of the falls to play when I’m feeling overwhelmed by life. I also got my first 100 mosquito bites for the season.Image

I feel a sense of accomplishment in having my vegetable garden planted and the perennial garden beds somewhat less weedy though that project never ends.The exterior trim around my new kitchen patio door and window are painted a lovely brick red making them stand out. It’s amazing how a little paint can completely brighten things up. I am blessed to have had a kitchen remodel (nearly completed) by a very talented contractor/carpenter. This remodel allows me to offer individual and small group cooking classes in my home kitchen which I truly love. And I get to chat with people like my lovely daughters while cooking too! Image

Today I’ll be on the lake in a canoe with a dear friend. There are many other projects to be done but they will have to wait. In my health coaching practice I encourage others to make room for play in their lives. I’m a work horse so taking time to play and live the balanced life I teach others about can be a challenge for me. Here’s what I do  to remind myself the importance of balance and play: enjoy every moment, seek happiness without any reason to be happy, be yourself and truly love that self, share, know you can cope with difficulties, find time to play and experience the joy in this life. We are here to love and be loved, to experience joy and to share ourselves with others. 

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Our true home is in the present moment. To live in the present moment is a miracle. The miracle is not to walk on water. The miracle is to walk on the green Earth in the present moment, to appreciate the peace and beauty that are available now. Peace is all around us…in the world and in nature…and within us…in our bodies and our spirits. Once we learn to touch this peace, we will be healed and transformed. It is not a matter of faith; it is a matter of practice.

Thich Nhat Hanh

Blessed Be

 

 

From Farmer’s Market to Cancer Crusaders

I had a wonderfully busy day yesterday, starting with the Downtown Pittsfield Farmer’s Market Health Fair. This is the second year for the market. It has become such a cool Saturday morning destination and yesterday was no exception. It is incredible to watch the parking lot transform from asphalt to a bustling open air market in a matter of minutes…it’s kind of magical.

ImageEarly morning at the market.

At one point while setting up my booth I had this realization that there are literally thousands of these farmers markets in towns and cities across the US springing up and truly taking hold…it was a very good thought to have! I was there to offer information about my health coaching programs @ Kira’s Kitchen, http://leanne-yinger.healthcoach.integrativenutrition.com/ and offer some tasty sweets that are actually healthy.

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I was so pleased to see that the wonderful organizers of the market are connecting health care and good food by joining farmers and growers with various adjunctive health and main stream health care organizations including Berkshire Medical Center’s mobile PET (Positron Emission Tomography) scanner. I was between Berkshire Nautilus Health Club, http://www.berkshirenautilus.com/ and New Life Chiropractic, http://www.dr-schagen.com/ which made perfect sense to me. After all, people need good quality nutrition to partake in what Berkshire Nautilus offers and they can certainly benefit from someone guiding them through an anti inflammation diet when faced with pain that a chiropractor is helping them manage.

I left the Farmer’s market at 1pm and drove north to Bennington Vermont to join friends at the Southwestern Vermont Cancer Center Community Crusaders event to raise money for the cancer center in Bennington. 

Imagehttp://www.benningtonbanner.com/localnews/ci_25861487/saturday-cancer-event-dedicated-gail-harwood

I was struck by the celebratory feel of this event as I wandered around looking for my friends booth. There were people dancing and music playing. Children were running around having a great time. I have lost several people I love dearly to cancer so my mindset driving to Bennington was not that I was going to a party. By the time I found my friends booth my mindset had shifted to a more relaxed state and the sun had broke through the clouds as if to say “it’s all good.” We set out the healthy sweets I’d brought next to the beautiful cupcakes that were part of the fund raising for the event.

The conversations that took place surrounding both the cupcakes and the treats I brought were very enlightening for me. I met a mom whose child has a brain tumor. She was seeking healthier snack options for him so he doesn’t feel left out of the fun. He sampled each of the treats I brought and we talked about how hard it is for parents to find the time to make healthy snacks. I offered her some recipes and made a mental note about reaching out to parents of children who have cancer.

At the end of the event there was a lovely candle light vigil and honoring of the survivors and those lost to cancer. I took a moment to remember the people I love who are living with cancer, and to honor those who were not able to survive it. I found myself feeling a bit indignant as I got in my car to drive home. How is it that the rates of cancer continue to rise even with the amazing health care system available to us in the United States.

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I think this topic will be continued next blog as it requires additional research and the sun is out today calling me to mow my lawn. Remember to eat healthy, take time to relax and let go of stress and spend time with the people you love. It truly matters in your overall good health!

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First you need only look:

Notice and honor the radiance of everything about you…

Play in this universe.

Tend all these shinning things around you:

The smallest plant, the creatures and objects in your care.

Be gentle and nurture. Listen…

As we experience and accept all that we really are…

We grow in care.                      Anne Hillman

Blessed Be

 

Leanne Yinger, M.Ed.

Board Certified Holistic Health Coach

413-464-1462

Kiraskitchen5@gmail.com

Website: http://leanne_yinger.healthcoach.integrativenutrition.com

Blog:      www.kirasgoodeatskitchen.com

 

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