Playing with Winter Squashes

by Andrea on October 22, 2014

in Food,Nutrition,Recipes

Winter squash — the friendliest source of carbohydrates. The one we can all agree on. No matter if Paleo, GAPS, Autoimmune Paleo, or simply looking to eat clean and healthy food, winter squashes have flavor, nutrients, and high quality sugars to offer you. Even for the most sensitive person, during the strictest of elimination protocols, the chances of a negative reaction to squash are low. And that’s not something that can be said about many foods.

I will always love me some butternut or spaghetti squash but lately I’ve been having lots of fun playing with the smaller members of winter squash team —Delicata, Sweet Dumpling, Acorn, Carnival, etc. My favorite thing about these guys? Making them into boats! You can stuff them with any and all sorts of foods that result in easy to make and healthy meals that are also awfully good looking.

Here are some ideas to get your imagination going:

Acorn squash with shredded brisket and sage

Acorn squash with shredded brisket and sage

 

IMG_0651

Sweet Dumpling squash with chard and pinenuts. That on the side, is a lamb shoulder blade chop. Sexy, yes? All ready to go!

IMG_0637

Delicata squash stuffed with ground meat and radish greens

SquashBoatDelight

Delicata again, stuffed with apples rubbed with the classic fall spices — cinnamon, nutmeg, clove — and pecans

How do you go about it without a recipe?

Simply preheat the oven at 400 degrees. Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper. Cut your chosen squashes in half from pole to pole, scoop the seeds out and place in the baking sheet skin side up — this will help keep the squash from getting dry without using a water bath. The squash will be cooked through when it gives as you poke the skin, which takes about 45 minutes, but varies with the size of the squash. You then have the option to stuff the squashes just as so, or to scoop some of the flesh out and make that part of your stuffing — the latter is my favorite method.

IMG_0728

Sweet Dumpling Squashes ready to play!

My favorite combinations include some sort of meat — ground, or cut in small pieces — plus a dark leafy green plus some other vegetable — mushrooms or peppers. Keep in mind that  all your ingredients need to be cooked before stuffing, for maximum versatility. Starting with raw ingredients is a different project all together — it’s not as flexible since you need to be mindful of timing and the whole mixing squash pulp into the stuffing concept doesn’t apply in that case.

What kinds of squash boats do you make?

 

{ 0 comments }

A Self-Care Manifesto

by Andrea on October 3, 2014

in Wellness

A Self-Care Manifesto

A Self-Care Manifesto

1. Every time I don’t take care of myself, I’m expecting someone else to do it for me.

This doesn’t happen consciously, but it is the beginning of disappointment — and resentment. Do your best to take care of yourself and you’ll free up your attention to serve the world as you intend.

2. My only concern at any given moment needs be to feel good.

Feelings are powerful. SO very powerful they control our actions whether we want them or not. Learn to REALLY feel your feelings and then make feeling good your priority.

3. I’m awfully needy. That’s a good thing.

We’re ALL needy. We need water, food, security, love… The list of things we need is never ending. More than anything, we need each other. Self-sufficiency is a painful illusion. Acknowledge your needs and address them. Not only will you be embracing your humanness but you’ll give others the opportunity to do the same.

4. My highest good is THE highest good.

This truth is sometimes apparent and many times it’s not, but it is always the case. What’s truly best for you — and getting to know THAT is a journey in itself — is, by law of nature, the best for everyone else.

5. This body is my vehicle to experience life.

This is so obvious that it is easy to forget. Don’t take your body for granted. Take care of it the best you can. You don’t get to have another one. At least not in this lifetime.

6. Sleep and poop are not negotiable.

Do whatever is necessary to sleep enough and poop regularly. These two things constitute a strong foundation for health and wellness.

7. I’m not here to be liked. I’m here to serve.

If you look for everyone’s approval, you will end up sacrificing yourself. Keep the focus on you — your vision, your talents, your joy. Expressing the highest possible version of yourself is the highest service you can offer.

8. I have no control over most things, but I can change the way I feel about them.

In truth, there’s very little you have control over and plenty of things that go against your will. But that is the case for everyone and no reason to duel in frustration and suffering. Find tools and resources to train yourself to see situations from different perspectives. It’s all about learning your lessons more effectively.

9. Movement is the language of my body.

Your body expresses itself through movement. If you don’t move your body, you will not only get sick but you will also go insane.

10. My ache is my teacher.

Every pain and ache is there to teach you something. If you’re dealing with physical illness, try meditating on this question: what do I need to let go off? Do it once and again, and again. It’s always about letting go of something.

11. Sunlight is sacred.

Sunlight is the life force of plants and hence, without sunlight there is no life. Get outside in the sunlight as frequently as you can and eat lots of green leaves. They’re packets of sunlight!

12. There’s nothing I can do to not deserve to be loved

I believe this is all we are trying to learn. You are loved only because you ARE. You don’t need to “earn” love nor can anyone take it from you. Just like sea waves, or flowers, or cute kitties, love is given.

{ 0 comments }

Sunrise Salad

by Andrea on September 2, 2014

in Recipes

I love this salad! I love its simplicity, its elegance, its taste. Everyone who’s tasted it, has given it thumbs up. Believe me, its a winner. Give it a shot!

Sunrise Salad

The Sunrise Salad, as seen in the Red and Green Dinner

Sunrise Salad

Prep time: 20 min

Ingredients:

For the dressing

  • 3/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup white wine vinegar — apple cider vinegar works in a pinch
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons fresh minced tarragon — depending on how fragrant you want it
  • 1/2 tablespoon mustard — if you tolerate it. I don’t, which makes for a less emulsified dressing, but it still works
  • Salt and pepper to taste

For the salad

  • 1 medium size jicama, peeled
  • 1 medium size golden beet, peeled
  • 2 small or one really large carrot, peeled
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons pumpkin seeds — omit for AIP

Directions:

  1. Make your dressing. My favorite method at present is to throw everything — minus the minced herbs — in a mason jar and blend with a hand blender. Add half of the tarragon, and salt and pepper to taste.
  2. Let’s talk about the cutting. These three vegetables have similar texture, so just do the same thing with all of them. I like spirilizing them, but can also slice them thin or julienne them in a mandoline, or simply shred them.
  3. Toast the pumpkin seeds for a few minutes in a thick bottom skilled, or in the oven
  4. Toss the vegetables and dress them. Add the pumpkin seeds, correct the seasoning and finish with fresh tarragon, if you’d like.

{ 0 comments }

Symptoms ARE the new diagnosis

by Andrea on August 13, 2014

in Healing,Wellness

This past January, I was sick. I had migratory joint pain and it was scary. The question I get often is, how did I know what was happening.

The answer — by traditional medicine guidelines — is not clear cut. I didn’t get a diagnosis.

I tried. I went to the doctor, told her what I was feeling — intense pain traveling through to all the major joints in my body — and she prescribed a series of tests. The results showed no signs of inflammation in my joints. According to the tests, I was fine.

Except I wasn’t. Because I’m lucky enough to have witnessed similar situations with several clients, I knew I was facing a hard decision: do I allow the damage to get bad enough to (hopefully) get a diagnosis — rheumatoid arthritis? fibromyalgia? something in between? — or do I drop out from the system and take it from there?

Diagnoses are the entry point to the modern health care — damage control? — system. But for patients, waiting for a diagnosis often means wasting precious time. This is specially true of chronic autoimmune conditions which are diagnosable usually only after they have caused considerable damage in the body.

A diagnosis also puts you in a little box where not all symptoms get considered. This often means inefficient treatment because the body needs to be viewed as a WHOLE system in order to get long term, real improvement.

What did I do? After I discussed all the tests with my doctor and got some referral letters, I dropped out from the system and took matters in my own hands. I still have a ways to go, but unless I’m not as vigilant as I need to be, I don’t have joint pain.

So, what can you do if you ever find yourself in a similar conundrum? 

  • First of all, you must approach the health care system assuming that you know what you feel better than the doctors. Demand to be really listened to and speak up when you’re told you’re crazy or a hypochondriac. Do your research and ask questions.
  • Know that ALL your symptoms are relevant and pertinent and don’t disregard or ignore any of them. Start a journal. This way you’ll get clear and that will translate into clear conversations with doctors and practitioners. A journal will also be the most efficient way to gather feedback when you make changes.
  • Refrain from your need to have a simple, linear explanation. Chronic disease is a puzzle — there are several whys, and by the same token, several factors that will add up to healing.

You can only get the treatment you need if you get involved in the process and think of your practitioners as collaborators rather than father figures. If you feel sick and you can’t get a diagnosis, focus on your symptoms and find practitioners that will speak that language.

The sooner you adopt the mindset that healing is a journey rather than a destination, the sooner you’ll start finding relief.

{ 0 comments }

Food Journal

A Food/Mood/Poop (FMP) journal is, as its name very precisely indicates, a journal to keep track of the food that you eat in relation to your bowel movements and to how you feel. When you commit to keeping the journal, it’s the most thorough tool to get to know your body in a way that not even the most sophisticated tests could tell you.

In my practice, I insist that all my clients keep a FMP journal. For some, it’s not easy to get started, but once they start to understand the practice and the benefits, they usually keep going.

In your life, how much time have you dedicated to learn how things work? Appliances? Computers? All the technology that surrounds you? Your trade? A language? I bet those are not insignificant lengths of time.

Now, how much time have you spent trying to understand how your own body works? And since it is indeed YOUR body, can you consider that it deserves a little more time? Think of your FMP journal as your own body manual. A manual that you can use right as you’re writing it.

You can find various templates online if you need one to start your FMP journal, but I prefer using a spreadsheet. That way, I can easily give access to it to any of my practitioners if it’s fit and it’s easy for me to keep without causing clutter. I also keep track of all other things that affect my health in the same spreadsheet: symptoms, supplements, therapies, sleep, etc. (If you’d like to see my template send me an email!)

Here five things my journal has taught me:

  • For the time being my body can’t tolerate mustard, eggs, coffee or any of the nightshade foods.
  • I have healthy bowel movements as long as I sleep properly.
  • I still experience abnormally slow recovery from exercise. Working on it…
  • Three meals a day are too many. With the exception of 2 or 3 days around the third week of my cycle when I get abnormally hungry, 2 meals is more than enough for me.
  • I benefit most from probiotics if I rotate different kinds and give my body breaks when I don’t use any.

There’s much more! I learn tons about my body on a daily basis. Mostly, thanks to keeping my FMP journal. Give it a try!

{ 0 comments }

Egg-free Banana Tapioca “Crepes”

by Andrea on July 15, 2014

in Food,Recipes

 

Banana tapioca crepe, tropical compote, coconut milk vanilla ice cream, as seen in the Red & Green Dinner

Banana tapioca crepe, tropical compote, coconut milk vanilla ice cream, as seen in the Red & Green Dinner

 

Plantain tortillas are great option when you are following an elimination/provocation protocol like the Autoimmune Paleo, but I wanted to make something resembling a crepe. I used Stephanie’s recipe as a starting point and had to play around to get the result I was looking for. This is probably the closest one can get to make a grain-free, egg-free crepe.

These can be made super thin if you want — the starch will prevent them from falling apart. It’s just a matter of baking them slowly so that they don’t burn. They can be kept for several days in a container at room temperature, or longer in the fridge. Just warm ‘em gently before serving. They have a little bit of chewiness, brought by the starch in the arrowroot, that everyone loved.

Egg-free Banana Tapioca “Crepes”

Prep time: 10 min
Baking time: 30 min +/-

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cup mashed ripe banana — about 3 regular size bananas
  • 1 cup tapioca starch
  • 3 tablespoons cooking fat, melted — I tried both bacon rendered lard and ghee. They were both great.
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • A generous pinch of salt
  • 3/4 cup water

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Arrange racks in the middle of the oven. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Add all the ingredients minus the water to the bowl of a food processor or a powerful blender. Add the water gradually as you blend, until you get a batter that’s a little thick.
  3. Pour the batter slowly onto baking sheets and smooth it until really thin if you’re looking for a “crepe”. This is enough batter for about 12 6-inch crepes, but the batter will hold really well to make larger crepes if you’d like. Bake for 15 minutes, or until the edge of the crepes is brown, turn them over and bake for another 10 minutes, or until slightly puffed and fragrant.
  4. Let cool slightly before serving. Use your favorite toppings, for breakfast or dessert.

{ 0 comments }

Ticks on Finger

A couple of weeks ago, I had the opportunity to attend the Functional Forum, which is a fun networking and educational event for health professionals who are interested in the evolution of medicine — and therefore, of nutrition. Me! Me!

The topic of the night? Lyme disease. Perfect! A topic which we all need to learn more about. Lyme is not one of those things where you say, “oh yeah, I got it, went to the doctor and the next week I was good. No big deal.”

Unfortunately, Lyme disease is far from straight forward. It’s hard to diagnose — current testing is about 50% accurate — and it’s hard to treat — usually a super intense course of antibiotics, which, as you might know by now, may have severe long term side effects.

But the most worrisome aspect of Lyme is that in most cases, it is a silent disease.

Most people believe that Lyme is transmitted by ticks that you can only get when you go hiking, that if you get bitten by one of those ticks, a bull’s eye rash forms and if that happens then you should get tested.

But what if there’s a bite but no bull’s eye rash? What if you do get tested, but the results are inaccurate? What if no obvious symptoms are experienced immediately? Not only are all those possibilities likely, they are the rule rather than the exception.

More importantly, deer ticks are not the exclusive carriers of the Borrelia spirochete, which transmits Lyme. Cases have been reported attesting that other insects, including bed bugs — hello NYC!! — could carry the nasty organism. So much for being careful when hiking…

And if that’s not enough to make you pay attention, here are three facts about Lyme that will turn your head:

* Chronic Lyme can end in Multiple Sclerosis.
(Dr Mark Menolascino at 11:10)

* Lyme disease can induce autism, and Lyme can be acquired in utero.
(Dr Jodie Dashore at 49:20)

* Ozone therapy can be an effective treatment for Lyme (and infectious diseases in general)
(Dr. Howard Robins at 65:30)

Watch the doctors talk about that and much more critical information on Lyme Disease here. (You’ll need to register to access the video.)

And if you start to love the Functional Forum as much as I do, I gotta tell you: The same guys are putting together the Evolution of Medicine Summit, which is like the Functional Forum, but for everyone to access freely on the web! Check it out and sign up over here

The man himself, Deepak Chopra, along with Mark Hyman, Frank Lipman and many other leaders in health, nutrition and wellness will be there. I’m sooo excited about this event! I really believe it’s going to be a turning point of health care as we know it. About time, don’t you think?

All about the Evolution of Medicine Summit here ==> http://bit.ly/GoodMedicineNow

{ 0 comments }

Chocolate Syringe

I used to be a serious chocolate addict. Just like I once couldn’t fathom my life without bread, for many years I thought I could never live without chocolate. Now I know there are many things I can live without, including chocolate.

Sometime last fall, I started feeling a sharp pain in my left shoulder. I thought I’d torn a muscle doing pull ups. I got some acupuncture and a couple of days later, the pain was gone. I quickly forgot the incident.

About a month later, I experienced a similar pain, this time in my right shoulder. I had taken several yoga classes in the same week so I figured I had overdone the yoga and that perhaps I was getting old and needed to be more careful about how much exercise I got. This time I had to bend my shoulder awkwardly just so I could move my arm. It hurt badly! I got acupuncture three days in a row and took Epsom Salt baths every night.

On the fourth day I woke up to a fading pain in the shoulder, but now my left wrist was on fire. That’s when I understood this had nothing to do with exercise.

Over the next three weeks, I went through the craziest pain roller coaster I’ve ever experienced. Fiery surges of pain circulated systematically through all the major joints of my body in distinct patterns. Sometimes it was the left elbow and the right hip, knee and ankle. Two days later it would be the right wrist, along with the left shoulder. I started to fear that first movement in the morning when I woke up. Invariably, something hurt.

I tried taking Advil, but that didn’t help much, so I moved onto Aleve in order to function for a few hours. I welcomed the New Year unable to unscrew bottles or open windows, looking for elevators wherever I went, as I was limping about 50% of the time and taking the stairs was hard. I was scared.

I decided to take matters into my own hands. Whatever this migratory joint pain was, I had no doubt it was of an autoimmune nature.

Autoimmunity happens when the immune system goes haywire and attacks its own host — in this case, me. If you’ve ever had an allergy, then you have experienced autoimmunity. Your immune system reacts to a substance that is not necessarily offensive: gluten, pollen, dust, cat hair, etc., because it confuses that with something else that in the past has threatened your health. The immune system is actually doing its job, which is to defend the body from invaders. It just happens to be misinformed.

Most modern chronic diseases are considered to be of an autoimmune nature, or to at least have an autoimmune component. Celiac, Hashimoto’s, asthma, eczema, MS, and most types of arthritis are all autoimmune disorders — and there are loads more. The affected tissue may change, but the principle remains the same: your immune system is attacking you.

On January 10th, I put myself on a very strict elimination diet. In all the years I’ve been experimenting with food, I never foresaw that I’d one day have to be so frickin’ anal about eating. Following the Autoimmune Paleo template, I deconstructed food to bare ingredients and started tracking how every single thing I ate affected me. It was intense, physically and emotionally. I had made many radical changes to my diet before, but having to do them as a result of so much pain inspired a new level of compassion for all the clients I’ve had (and all those yet to come) who, for years, have been desperately searching for relief.

Slowly and steadily, the pain started to give way. I took the last Aleve on January 25th. I’ve only taken it a couple of times since then. I had to quit chocolate — and many other foods I like. Conversely, I started to eat things I didn’t pay much attention to before.

Today, I have no joint pain. I can unscrew bottles, open windows and walk. In fact, I can dance, and run and do yoga.

Did I check with my doctor, you ask?

Well, yes. And no. Let me explain.

Modern health care kind of sucks. And I’m fortunate to have worked with enough people to know that when it comes to the treatment of autoimmune conditions, modern health care really sucks big time.

I did go to the doctor. And I got a bunch of tests done. None of them showed indications that I might be developing rheumatoid arthritis or some other kind of inflammatory joint disease. Unfortunately, the way blood testing is done to determine possible autoimmunity is inefficient at best. If I wanted to get an “official” diagnosis, I basically needed to let myself get really, very sick. Or spend a fortune — not covered by insurance — to get more sophisticated tests done.

I decided that if the elimination protocol had the effects I was hoping for, that would become the evidence I needed to move forward. I didn’t need to waste precious time waiting for my doctor’s validation. The combination of appropriate diet plus listening to my body had never disappointed me. This experience has only reaffirmed that principle.

I’m incredibly grateful for all the scientific, experimental and intuitive knowledge I’ve accumulated in almost ten years of practicing health coaching. And I bow to all the people that today are suffering with chronic autoimmune conditions. May you find the relief you are looking for. (Diet is a damn good place to start.) My heart goes out to you.

{ 0 comments }

Apple, Raspberry and Ginger Kvass

I admit. Even for the most committed health nut out there, drinking water gets old. And I dunno ‘bout you, but I usually crave a little fizziness in my beverage. There just is a ‘je ne sais quoi’ that even the best tasting water can’t deliver.

But, as we know, sodas are not the solution. Looking for the childhood enjoyment I remember, I have occasionally tried one of those fancy sodas sweetened with cane sugar. Always in vein; I just can’t stomach that much sugar at one time, even when I really want to.

And whereas there are new, creative choices in the market — kombucha, coconut water, various probiotic beverages — they are not always available — lemme just say that you won’t find kombucha even in the fanciest market in Colombia — and they are also NOT cheap — you’ll have to drop an average of $3.50?! for a 16 oz bottle of one of these “healthy” beverages in Whole Foods.

Meanwhile there is a whole universe of truly healthy beverages awaiting in your kitchen, if only you’re willing to wear your experimenting apron for a little bit.

I’m talking about lacto-fermented, AKA cultured, beverages.

My interest in lacto-fermentation has only grown over the years, along my love for digestive healing. Lacto-fermentation enhances the nutrient availability of foods and produces friendly bacteria that we all need more of.

I just love nursing jars containing all different mixes of veggies and tasting them every day, until they reach my desired sourness. I must confess though, that now that I’m single, I just don’t get to make them as much as I used to.

But the beverages? That’s another story. I find certain advantages to them over the kraut.

  1. They are easier to make. They require less preparation than the veggies, as you’ll see below.
  2. They are easier to consume than lacto-fermented veggies. Even though no one said you MUST eat it with your meal, not a lot of people would go for a bite of kimchee by itself. But a beverage is welcomed almost any time of the day, along with a meal, or on its own.
  3. They can really fulfill your crave for a tasty, refreshing drink. You’re gonna have to try to see what I mean…

Peaked your interest? Good! Here are directions for three different ones for you to try:

1. Fermented cabbage juice.

Fermented cabbage juice —  FCJ, for short — is no more than the little juice you get when you ferment sauerkraut, but the juice itself is such an incredible health tonic that it deserves to be fermented on its own. Besides, this way you can get the goodness even if you don’t like sauerkraut.

Over time I’ve learn to LOVE the flavor of FCJ. Its intense bite shakes up my body and wakes me up! — not to mention it’ll melt away the toughest sugar craving I might get. Of all the lacto-fermented foods I’ve had, FCJ is now my favorite both for its flavor and its benefits.

To make FCJ, you’ll need… well, cabbage juice. If you don’t have a juicer, you can try blending the cabbage with just enough water to get the blender moving and straining the juice. I’ve never done that with cabbage specifically but I’ve done it with other foods, always with OK results.

From one cabbage you’ll get anywhere between one and three cups of juice, depending on the size and freshness of the cabbage and the quality of your juicer.

Pour your juice in a glass jar, leaving at least 1-inch of space from the top to avoid spills, and cover with lid. The juice will ferment on its own if you leave it in a warm place for a minimum of 3 days; it is not a bad idea, however, to use a starter, especially until you get familiar with the appearance and taste. The first starter I tried was — as it seems fit — sauerkraut juice, and I’ve also used whey with satisfactory results. You could also try a commercial veggie culture starter like this one. Keep in mind that a starter will accelerate the fermentation process. Just taste your juice every day until it reaches your desired flavor. Then refrigerate.

When there is about 1/4 of liquid left over, replenish with more cabbage juice and let the fermentation cycle run again. This is fun!

*Warning: Introduce FCJ s.l.o.w.l.y — as you should do with any probiotic food — incrementing by half tablespoons every few days, until you reach about 1/2 cup a day — that’s a therapeutic dose. You can dilute it with equal parts of water if the flavor is too strong for you. I also use FCJ in place of vinegar in my salads and as a condiment in my soups — warm soup, that is. Remember that ferments are very sensitive to heat.

**Another warning; FCJ might not be the best for people with low thyroid function. No one knows for sure what happens to goitrogens in the fermentation process.

**A nice tip: If you use a juicer, don’t throw away the leftover pulp. It makes the best dehydrated chips! I mix the pulp with curry powder and salt to taste, spread it thin over parchment paper on a baking sheet, cut it as if making crackers and leave it in the oven at the lowest possible temperature for 4 to 6 hours.

2. Fruit kvass

You might be familiar with beet kvass and/or original kvass — which is made from grains — but I personally never cared for any of them. Yeah, I know that beet kvass just like FCJ, has crazy healing properties — including being a powerful liver detoxifier — but it just doesn’t do it for me, you know?

But fruit kvass? Well, that’s a different story. The first time I tried the apple,raspberry and ginger kvass recipe on the GAPS book, I was like, wherehaveyabeenallmylife, oh wonderful libation! It’s good stuff!

If you don’t have the book, I’ll give you my short version.

Get a nice wide mouth liter/quart bottle. Take an apple, quarter it and toss it in the jar, along with a handful of raspberries and a tablespoon of shredded ginger. Add 1/2 cup of whey and fill the jar *almost* all the way up with *filtered* water. Cover with lid, leave in a warm spot for a few days — you getting the hang of this? — and when done, transfer to the fridge. Strain to serve, placing the fruit back in the jar. You can refill the water and let the fermentation process run a few times until the fruit gets spent.

You can also try pear, strawberries and mint. Or peaches, cherries and chamomile. Many fruits would work here! Hmmm… probably not banana… As for the benefits? Well… probiotic, probiotic, probiotic! And deliciousness.

3. Fermented grape juice.

One day I got thinking… hmmm… I wonder if I can lacto-ferment grape juice before it starts to become wine. So I tried. And ended up with a nice, fizzy juice just lightly sweetened with no palatable alcohol. A successful experiment, I’d say.

Get some nice organic and seedless grapes — unless you don’t mind pitting them or if you plan to juice them, as opposed to blending them. Throw 3 hearty handfuls of these in your blender and enough water to run it. Fill your handy liter/quart jar with this grape smoothie and add filtered water to fill the jar if needed.

For this, you definitely need a starter or else the juice will probably start to turn into alcohol before the lacto-fermenting bacteria have a chance to do their thing due to the high content of sugar. In this occasion, I used the contents of two Jarrow probiotic capsules as I wanted to make sure I’d introduce enough bacteria. I use probiotic capsules in fermentation frequently. It’s one not-very-scientific way to test probiotic supplements, but hey, makes sense to me.

If you don’t have a probiotic supplement handy — or if you don’t want to risk it — you can try using a considerable amount of whey — 1 cup per litter, I’d say — and perhaps a little salt just to keep those yeasts under control during fermentation.

Just as with the other beverages, leave in a warm spot for a few days and transfer to the fridge when the sourness is to your liking. Keep in mind that the more active the fermentation process, the more production of gas. You might want to loosen up the lid very slowly! Strain to serve.

There you have it. Three ideas you can copy or modify to come up with your own fermented beverages. Fermentation is definitely an art. It’s never a fixed process and it requires an experimental spirit. But it can be really enjoyable and the health benefits totally pay off.

If you, like me, have gotten a little lazy about fermenting veggies — or you have never tried making any ferments — give fermented beverages a shot. They’re super easy to make, healthy, and delicious!

If you enjoyed this post, you should subscribe to the list. You'll get 20 healing, easy & yummy recipes and 2 awesome mini-programs now, and weekly goodness in your mailbox :-).

{ 6 comments }

The Secret to Healing Your Body

by Andrea on July 10, 2012

in Healing

My mom suffers from chronically high blood pressure. She has since she was pregnant with my brother, who is now 31.

My mom managed her hypertension by following the traditional doctor’s indications — medication and a diet low in salt and fat — pretty rigorously for years, and whereas these measures kept her numbers within a “healthy” range, this kind of treatment never leads to improvement. If she stopped taking medication, her blood pressure would raise again.

For a long time my mom never thought too hard about her medical care, but things started to change because she got very, very sick. So sick, she feared she was going to die. She had a degree of fatigue she could only explain as feeling like her body was slowly shutting down. She thought she would die on her sleep.

Many doctors’ appointments and tests afterwards, no one could explain to her what was going on. Highly intuitive as she is, she felt that somehow the medical establishment was killing her. She decided she needed to change her strategy all together.

She stopped going to regular doctors and looked for an alternative solution in energy medicine. Thankfully that worked! Just as quickly as she recovered her health, she lost the little faith in conventional medicine she still had left.

Turns out that the combination of a new diuretic drug her doctor had put her on with the very strict low salt diet she was following were demineralizing her body at a pretty fast rate. And yes, at that pace, she would probably have died quickly, had she not decided to radically change her course of action.

Ironically, the recovery treatment was fairly simple. Some tweaks on her diet — she needed salt!! — plus a few IV’s with bio-available minerals brought the relief, in less than a week, that months of constant doctors visits couldn’t.

My mom didn’t get “cured”, however. She still suffers from hypertension. But that episode helped her understand that the prospect of taking medication for the rest of her life was not only unappealing, but in fact, unsustainable. The need to work towards healing, rather than managing her symptoms forever, became evident.

So, how has my mom’s life changed? How’s aiming for healing different from managing her symptoms? Especially because, as of now, she is still taking medication?

The most important shift she experienced, was of perspective. My mom had given into the idea that she would take medication for the rest of her life, and that there was nothing she could do to change that. But now, she can consider a different reality in spite of what the doctors said for years. She is pushing herself out of her comfort zone, and she has faith it’s worth it.

Over the years, I’ve worked with many people who for one or another reason, went through a similar paradigm shift. They were forced to search for an alternative solution to their health problems, because they came to understand that the standard ones weren’t sustainable.

But there’s no healing magic pill…

Healing takes time and patience. It requires that you start thinking longer term than you probably ever have: How is what I am doing, or eating or thinking NOW going to affect me tomorrow? What about next week/month/year?

In order to heal, you need to consciously re-evaluate your priorities. How are you investing your time/money/energy? Why? What are the things that truly matter in your life?

Healing the physical body can’t happen in the physical plane alone. It is a process that involves all your being — the way you feel, think and act. Healing is reinventing yourself.

And there’s also plenty of frustration…

You may start working with a holistic practitioner of some sort. They say you need to change your diet and focus on your stress management. That alone is overwhelming, but you try your best. You feel somewhat better, but it’s not enough. You may try acupuncture, homeopathy, or chiropractic. You experience some recovery, but it certainly doesn’t seem proportional to the amount of work you’re putting in. And maybe, just as in my mom’s case, you cannot wean yourself off medication as you had planned…

You doubt yourself. Why can’t I get well? What am I doing wrong? Is this diet really helping? When can I stop the meds? Will I be able to, ever?

And there are setbacks. Something that seemed to be working, after a while, just doesn’t any longer and you have no idea why. And that happens again. And again. More doubts creep up on your mind.

How long is this going to take? 6 months? A year? Five? No one can say for sure. Sometimes it seems like you were doing better when you were eating your takeouts, drinking your coffee and unconsciously popping your pills.

Believe me, I hear you. But, as I ask my mom when she gets discouraged, just how long has it been? In her case, over thirty years. That’s how long her body has relied on medication to regulate her blood pressure. It’s been about five since she considered to change her course and no more than two since she became really proactive about it. After the changes she’s made, she is on half the dose of a less concentrated drug than what she was taking two years ago. What about you? Healing takes time!

Treating chronic conditions with medication and doctor’s nutritional indications — given the poor understanding of nutrition that most doctors have — doesn’t lead to improvement, but merely to maintenance of the disease. I don’t know about you, but to me that’s unacceptable, because I know that the body is an incredible machine, that’s constantly rebuilding itself.

So, what’s the secret?

There is no secret. But if there were one, I’d say it is to accept that healing is a journey, not a destination. Your health will improve over time, if you work at it. You might even get off of medication sooner than you thought you would. And you will get to know yourself better than you ever did. Become an advocate for your own healing and a witness of your progress. Not only will you get healthy but you will create a richer life experience for yourself in the process.

No one says it’s easy, but it is totally worth it. And you deserve it.

Do you or anyone close to you defied the medical establishment and found your way to the amazing self-healing capacity of your own gorgeous body? Will you inspire others by sharing your experience in the comments?

This is for you P. My heart is yours.

If you enjoyed this post, you should subscribe to the list. You'll get 20 healing, easy & yummy recipes and 2 awesome mini-programs now, and weekly goodness in your mailbox :-).

{ 12 comments }