Health and Wellness Through Movement and Nutrition

I gave a talk this morning at The Unitarian Universalist church of Pittsfield. It was part of a larger conversation about Health and Wellness Through Movement and Nutrition. It was fun to partner up with the church administrator, Kas Maroney who offers strength training and other exercise classes. I will add an excerpt from the service for your reading pleasure.

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Mike Adams, author, investigative journalist and educator is quoted as saying

…“Today, more than 95% of all chronic disease is caused by food choice, toxic food ingredients, nutritional deficiencies and lack of physical exercise.” –

So how does nutrition contribute to having energy to do the things we like to do? Seems like a silly question doesn’t it. After all food and water are our life source, we all understand on some level that we can’t live without them. But it’s surprising how many people, including medical practitioners truly don’t consider the impact nutrition has on our health. When was the last time your doctor said “go home make a cup of tea (without sugar please) and vegetable barley soup and then go to bed early to catch up on your rest?” Rather we tend to believe and trust that there is a magic pill or medical procedure that can address whatever health issue arises. Therefore we don’t have to give much thought to how we eat and live our lives. In essence, we don’t have to take much responsibility in assuring we have good health because that’s someone else’s job.

We live in a society where the idea of health is that you reach a certain age and your health begins to fail. We expect to become ill throughout our lives with common ailments such as flu or cold and many of us grow up believing that due to our genetics we will develop whatever ailment has plagued our family of origin. The science to support this thinking is sketchy at times and often funded by pharmaceutical companies who are going to make killing on our fears. It has become our cultural or societal norm to be bombarded by advertisements for the next wonder drug and then we find ourselves calling our doctors to ask if it is right for us. The good news is there is a simpler, less dangerous solution that can in fact improve health and vitality at any age. The truth is nutrition and lifestyle have everything to do with how healthy we are regardless of our genetics.

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The student prepared feast at Kushi Institute’s Macrobiotic Leadership Program Level Ceremony!

The growing chatter out there about eating healthy whole foods or real foods for health can get a bit confusing, however. Go into any book store and you will find numerous books on the topic and some contradict the one you just read. That has more to do with competing interests than it does with good information. Many of these books offer good solid information that really needs to be considered if we are to reduce the growing health crisis we experience not only here in the United States with diabetes, obesity, cancer and heart disease, but now in many other regions of the world where diet has changed and moved away from the foods that were traditionally eaten.

Two of my favorite authors on the subject of healing through food include, Dr. Neal Barnard who I’ve eaten lunch with when he was visiting the Kushi Institute where I work part time, and Dr. Anne Marie Colbin, who I’ve had the pleasure of hearing lecture at The Institute of Integrative Nutrition where I am completing my studies as a health coach. These authors are among many authorities on gaining good health through diet. They have taken the time to learn and experience what a nutritious balanced diet can do for our overall good health. Dr. Barnard is the founder and president of The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine and is one of the leading advocates of health, nutrition and higher standards in research. Dr. Anne Marie Colbin, is an award-winning leader in the field of natural health, and a highly sought-after lecturer and wellness consultant…. and she is funny. Colbin is Founder and CEO of the Natural Gourmet. They are both prolific writers and they speak the truth as is supported by good research. I think one of the best outlines written explaining good food and how to approach it was written by Dr. Colbin.

In her book, “Food and Healing” Anne Marie Colbin outlines seven criteria for food selection which I believe helps us really think about how to find the foods we need for good health and energy. I want to share an excerpt from the book that details these seven criteria. She starts with:

Whole: as nature provides them, with all their edible parts (grains with their bran and germ, apples with their skin – if not waxed) cooked raw vegetables and fruits rather than juices or vitamin pills. Whole foods Colbin says supply all of nature’s nutrients in a team, as well as providing us with the life energy of the food.

Fresh, natural, real, organically grown: meaning not canned, not frozen, certainly not irradiated or genetically engineered, free from chemical additives, colorings or preservatives. The foods we choose should be the real thing, full of their life energy, not imitations (such as margarine or artificial sweeteners) which invariably turn out to have some health damaging effect. Organically grown foods not only have been proven to have higher nutrients, but also taste far superior to the commercially grown kind.

Seasonal: To be in harmony with our environment, it is a very good idea to choose summery foods in the summer, wintery foods in the winter. Fruits and vegetables in season are cheaper and do not lose nutrients like foods that have been transported long distances. They also taste better. In addition seasonal eating means salads and fruit in the summer and soups and stews in the winter. On the whole, most people do eat this way instinctively. However, with the advent of refrigeration, freezer trucks, and worldwide transportation we can get raspberries in December and yams in July.  We also ignore this natural order when we go on restricted diets, such as raw food and juice regimes, which require us to eat lots of fruits and vegetables in the winter or cooked salty macrobiotic meals in the summer. With these diets we go out of sync with our environment, and we might feel cold in the winter, or cranky and depressed in the summer.

Local: Local produce is fresher, tastes better and is more nutritious because it is picked riper and does not lose nutrients in travel. The best restaurants in the country have discovered this and make an effort to obtain the freshest organically grown local foods, which they consider top quality.

In Harmony with Tradition: We should pay attention to what our ancestors ate and incorporate those foods into our diet where ever possible, maybe with some modifications (less salt, less fat, less sugar) For example, our staple grain will taste more appropriate if our ancestors ate it as well – barley and oats from the British Iles, Rye and wheat from Europe, Kasha from Eastern Europe and Russia, millet, teff and sorghum from Africa, millet and rice from Asia, corn and quinoa from the Americas.

Balanced: It’s important to make sure there is enough protein, carbohydrates, fat, and micronutrients in our diet as a whole, and to pay attention to the expansive/contractive, acid/alkaline and the five phase theory system. For aesthetics it is also important to include foods with a variety of flavors, colors and textures.

 Delicious: There is no point in eating “healthy” food if it doesn’t taste good. Besides, our taste buds can guide us, when encountering whole, real natural foods, to what we need and what we don’t need …and we’d do well to listen.

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The movement toward eating better is now thought to include a return to what our ancestors ate meaning eating foods grown closer to home in more natural circumstances. It also means getting rid of the sugary processed foods that are killing us. What we are learning in the nutrition field is that the closer the food we eat is to its natural form the better it is for us. My new food mantra is “if it contains more than a couple ingredients it’s probably not good for me.” I shop the perimeter of a grocery store and at open air or farmer’s markets when possible. I read labels incessantly and in reducing my sugar and processed food intake have greatly improved my health. In my health coaching practice I begin by suggesting clients reduce or refrain from eating the following foods: sugar, white flour and other gluten products, animal proteins, processed foods, alcohol and tobacco and in some cases soy products. This simple starting point has assisted many others in achieving their health goals. Though the recommendations are simple the practice is not always so simple. We are used to sweet and salty foods that don’t necessarily taste like the food they mimic. So it is important to be patient with yourself and have someone in it with you who can support you to reach optimal health.

I close today with this quote from Hippocrates:

Everyone has a doctor in him or her; we just have to help it in its work. The natural healing force within each one of us is the greatest force in getting well. Our food should be our medicine. Our medicine should be our food.

                                           Be Well!

Think About Your Brain

Do you ever consider the health of your brain? If yes, what is it you consider. If no…you might want to take some time to do so for your brain’s health.

The brain according to Dr. Daniel Amen, is the “hardware of your soul.” It requires special attention and yet often receives the least, unless there is an issue such as stroke or Alzheimer’s Disease. The good news is we don’t have to wait to learn there is an issue with our brain, we can do many things right now to improve brain function and health….and it does not take a rocket scientist to make these changes.

Dr. Amen tells us that even if we are genetically predisposed to disease such as Alzheimer’s Disease it does not mean we will experience it. There are many things we can do each day to keep our brains healthy.

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http://mashable.com/2013/04/02/obama-brain/

The following 10 tips will greatly improve your memory, alertness and overall brain health:

1) Get that 8 hours of sleep you dream about

2) Keep to a great diet that includes fresh foods such as assorted vegetables and fruits, foods rich in omega 3 and whole grains while reducing sugar, processed foods and animal proteins.

3) Surround yourself with positive people who support you

4) Learn something new…often

5) Exercise for 20-30 minutes a day, (take a walk during lunch)

6) Maintain a healthy weight for your body

7) Drink green tea

8) Learn to manage and reduce your stress

9) Start and/or end your day with a moment of gratitude

10) Enjoy nature and fresh air often

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Here is a nice recipe for better brain health. Add some short grain brown rice and steamed kale to this and WOW!

Orange Pan – Glazed Tempeh

 1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice

1 Tablespoon freshly grated ginger

2 Teaspoons tamari (or shoyu)

1 ½ Tablespoon mirin

2 Teaspoons maple syrup

½ Teaspoon ground coriander

2 small cloves garlic, crushed

10 ounces tempeh (or extra firm tofu)

2 Tablespoons olive oil (use light as extra virgin will smoke)

½ lime

Optional – cilantro

 

Squeeze juice and place it in a small bowl.

Grate the ginger over the bowl making sure to add the juice.

Mix together the tamari, mirin, maple syrup, ground coriander and garlic. Set aside this mixture.

Cut the tempeh (or tofu) into bite size pieces (if working with tofu, pat dry and then cut up)

Heat the olive oil over medium heat until hot but not smoking.

Add the tempeh and sautee for about 5 minutes on each side until golden brown.

Pout the orange juice over the tempeh and continue cooking for another 5-7 minutes until the sauce has reduced to a nice glaze.

Make sure to turn the tempeh while the sauce reduces to prevent sticking.

Serve the tempeh with grain side dish. Drizzle the remaining tamari sauce mixture over the top.

Add lime juice and cilantro if desired.

 

Take time to take care of your brain and body for you!

 

To be beautiful means to be yourself. You don’t need to be accepted by others. You need to accept yourself. ~Thich Nhat Hanh

 

 

 

Vegan Chili @ The Pittsfield Farmer’s Market 2013

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Okay so this isn’t the farmer’s market I’m talking about but this is my favorite walk ever and each time I travel to California to visit my family we go to Monterey Bay and take this walk to Pacific Grove. This is the most beautiful ocean walk I think! The Farmer’s Market I’m talking about is the Downtown Pittsfield Farmer’s Market, http://farmersmarketpittsfield.org/dpfm/.

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I had so much fun this summer being part of this new venue. It is the finest group of people running the market and the people participating in it are equally delightful. I did my last market of the season and just want to shout out to all of you a grand thanks. The market will continue until the end of October on Saturdays from 9-1 across the street from the Pittsfield Common. I look forward to seeing you all again next year.

This is one of the recipes I demonstrated at the market. My focus this weekend was cooking for women’s health. This dish offers good quality soy in the form of Hosta Hill tempeh, http://hostahill.com/ and kidney beans. Both are considered foods that promote women’s health. To learn more consider attending my cooking class at Wild Oats Food Cooperative @ http://wildoats.coop/ in Williamstown, MA on 10/26 from 12:30 to 2:00pm. We’ll make a few delicious dishes that contain health benefits for women.

Vegan Tempeh Chili

2 tbsp olive oil, divided

1 8-ounce package tempeh, crumbled by hand

2 tsp soy sauce 1 red bell pepper, chopped

1 green bell pepper, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 onion, diced

1 cup kidney beans rinsed, soaked and cooked with 2” kombu

1 8 ounce can diced tomatoes

1 tbsp chili powder

1/2 tsp cumin powder

1/4 tsp cayenne pepper, or to taste

1 cup fresh/frozen corn (optional)

fresh cilantro to garnish (optional)

Heat one tablespoon of olive oil, sauté tempeh until golden brown, about 3-5 minutes, add soy sauce, and sauté another minute or two, until soy sauce is sticky and dissolved. Set aside.

In a large soup or stock pot, sauté the onions, garlic and bell peppers in the remaining olive oil until just barely soft. Reduce heat and add remaining ingredients. Allow to simmer for at least twenty minutes and up to forty minutes, stirring occasionally, and adding a bit more liquid as needed.

Garnish with a sprinkling of fresh minced cilantro.

My kitchen at home no longer exists as the demolition was completed today. I will share my remodel progress with you as the construction now begins!

Be well and remember to smile and sing a happy song every day…it’s good for the heart!

Orange Pan Glazed Tempeh

This dish has become one of my favorite tempeh recipes and it can be made in only 30 minutes…how’s that for fitting into a busy life? I added roasted kabocha squash, steamed kale and good old short grain brown rice. The pickle is “Crimson Kraut” a mild Kimchi made by Hosta Hill.  Hosta Hill also made the tempeh I used for this recipe. Learn more about them at this link

http://hostahill.com/tempeh/

So here is the recipe for Orange Pan Glazed Tempeh:

1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice

1 Tablespoon freshly grated ginger

2 Teaspoons tamari (or shoyu)

1 ½ Tablespoon mirin

2 Teaspoons maple syrup

½ Teaspoon ground coriander

2 small cloves garlic, crushed

10 ounces tempeh (or extra firm tofu)

2 Tablespoons olive oil (use light as extra virgin will smoke)

½ lime

Optional – cilantro

1)      Squeeze juice and place it in a small bowl.

2)      Grate the ginger over the bowl making sure to add the juice.

3)      Mix together the tamari, mirin, maple syrup, ground coriander and garlic. Set aside this mixture.

4)      Cut the tempeh (or tofu) into bite size pieces (if working with tofu, pat dry and then cut up)

5)      Heat the olive oil over medium heat until hot but not smoking.

6)      Add the tempeh and sautee for about 5 minutes on each side until golden brown.

7)      Pout the orange juice over the tempeh and continue cooking for another 5-7 minutes until the sauce has reduced to a nice glaze.

8)      Make sure to turn the tempeh while the sauce reduces to prevent sticking.

9)      Serve the tempeh with grain side dish. Drizzle the remaining tamari sauce mixture over the top.

10)  Add lime juice and cilantro if desired.

Orange Pan Glazed Tempeh

Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.

Mahatma Gandhi

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This dish has become one of my favorite tempeh recipes and it can be made in only 30 minutes…how’s that for fitting into a busy life? I added roasted kabocha squash, steamed kale and good old short grain brown rice. The pickle is “Crimson Kraut” a mild Kimchi made by Hosta Hill.  Hosta Hill also made the tempeh I used for this recipe. Learn more about them at this link

http://hostahill.com/tempeh/

So here is the recipe for Orange Pan Glazed Tempeh:

1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice

1 Tablespoon freshly grated ginger

2 Teaspoons tamari (or shoyu)

1 ½ Tablespoon mirin

2 Teaspoons maple syrup

½ Teaspoon ground coriander

2 small cloves garlic, crushed

10 ounces tempeh (or extra firm tofu)

2 Tablespoons olive oil (use light as extra virgin will smoke)

½ lime

Optional – cilantro

1)      Squeeze juice and place it in a small bowl.

2)      Grate the ginger over the bowl making sure to add the juice.

3)      Mix together the tamari, mirin, maple syrup, ground coriander and garlic. Set aside this mixture.

4)      Cut the tempeh (or tofu) into bite size pieces (if working with tofu, pat dry and then cut up)

5)      Heat the olive oil over medium heat until hot but not smoking.

6)      Add the tempeh and sautee for about 5 minutes on each side until golden brown.

7)      Pout the orange juice over the tempeh and continue cooking for another 5-7 minutes until the sauce has reduced to a nice glaze.

8)      Make sure to turn the tempeh while the sauce reduces to prevent sticking.

9)      Serve the tempeh with grain side dish. Drizzle the remaining tamari sauce mixture over the top.

10)  Add lime juice and cilantro if desired.

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Kira and Poohger send sloppy kisses from Kira’sKitchen

Eat healthy and be well!