Saturday, November 23, 2013

Raw Kale And Orange Salad With Pumpkin Seeds
Balance Your Winter Diet With Raw Food

 Kale salad - a great way to include raw food in your winter diet.
A single serving provides over 125% of your 
daily requirement of vitamin C.

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Don't Forget About Raw Food
When it's hot out, it's fairly simple to eat most of our food raw - raw salads, chilled soups - even raw crisps. And although we crave cooked foods when the temperature drops, like soups, roasted veggies, and baked breads, we should still consume a minimum of at least thirty percent of our food raw. Raw fruit or green salads can easily do the trick. 

For details on my Seasonally Raw Food Plan that explains the optimal balance of cooked to raw foods throughout the year, including recipes and menus, download my eBook, Health Begins in the Kitchen - available on iTunes and Amazon

A Simple and Colorful Holiday Side Dish
This simple salad makes a lovely holiday side dish and it keeps really well. So if you are looking for something fresh and colorful for your Thanksgiving, Chanukah, or Christmas menu, this could be it! 

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Kale and Orange Salad with Pumpkin Seeds
Raw Vegan (Suitable for a Raw Food Cleanse)
[makes 6 servings]

For the dressing
4 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
4 teaspoons cold-pressed hemp or extra virgin olive oil (or combo)
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste

For the salad
4 packed cups stemmed, thinly sliced raw kale
2 oranges, peeled, seeds removed and chopped
1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
1/4 cup raw pumpkin seeds

Make the dressing by combining the lemon juice, oil, and salt directly in a large salad bowl.

Place the kale in the bowl and mix until each leaf is well coated. Let the kale sit in the dressing  to allow it to tenderize, about 15 to 20 minutes.

Add the oranges, red onion, and pumpkin seeds. Toss well and serve.

Per serving (with hemp oil): 104 calories, 6 g total fat, 1 g saturated fat, 539 mg omega-3 and 3,039 mg omega-6 fatty acids, 0 mg cholesterol, 3 g protein, 12 g carbohydrates, 2 g dietary fiber, and 381 mg sodium.

Per serving (with olive oil): 104 calories, 6 g total fat, 1 g saturated fat, 117 mg omega-3 and 1,554 mg omega-6 fatty acids, 0 mg cholesterol, 3 g protein, 12 g carbohydrates, 2 g dietary fiber, and 381 mg sodium.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Statins Pose Many Health Risks
Beware New Criteria That Greatly Increases Their Use!

New Health Calculator over projects people
who should take statins.

New Guidelines
A week ago, a new set of guidelines were introduced that were supposed to help doctors assess their patient's risk of heart attack and stroke but best I can tell, it was just a way to push more statins on millions of perfectly healthy Americans. This should come as no surprise as the Amercian Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology, authors of the new guidelines, are heavily funded by the very drug makers that would significantly benefit from this change. 

What's Changed?
Has the rate of heart disease increased? No.
Have there been significant new studies published that demonstrated the benefits of lowering cholesterol? No.
The only thing that has changed is the definition of who should take statins.

The new guidelines say that treatment (or use of statins) is recommended for those with a 7.5 percent risk of heart disease over the next 10 years and can be considered for those with as low as a 5 percent risk. Previous guidelines recommended treatment for those with a 10 to 20 percent risk. The new criteria makes 31% of all adults "good candidates" for statins compared to 15.5% today.

Calculator Seriously Flawed
In addition to the expanded definition adding millions of new statin takers, the new calculator being rolled out is seriously flawed and can over predict the risk of heart disease by up to 150%. This means that millions more healthy people may be prescribed statins that would do them more harm than good! 

Bad Idea in the First Place
Unless a person has known heart disease, there's little that shows statins are effective in reducing the risk of death. In fact, popping a little pill might give people a false sense of security and discourage them from taking a more holistic approach that would include improving their diets, reducing stress, increasing the amount of exercise they are getting, or to stop smoking.

Statins have Serious Side Effects
Statin drugs cause many serious side effects. The most common is muscle pain. Although some only experience minor soreness or weakness, others can barely walk up a flight of stairs. And in rare instances, these drugs can cause rhabdomyolysis, life-threatening muscle damage that can cause significant muscle pain, kidney failure, liver damage, and death.

Other side effects from statins include liver damage, digestive problems, memory loss, confusion, and can even cause blood sugar levels to rise leading to the development of type 2 diabetes. 

Expert Asks to Halt Implementation
The identification of the serious flaws of the health calculator by Drs. Nancy Cook and Paul Ridker of Harvard Medical School prompted Dr. Steven Nissen, a past president of the American College of Cardiology, to ask that the rollout of the new guidelines be halted. Drs. Cook and Ridker demonstrated examples where a 60-year-old African-American man with absolutely no risk factors and a normal lipid profile and blood pressure was given a risk factor of 7.5 by the new health calculator. Other examples showed a healthy 60-year-old white male with an inflated risk factor of 7.5. Both of these men would have been prescribed statins for the rest of their lives. This may be good for the drug companies revenue numbers but not very good for these men who would be subjected to serious side effects.

What To Do
Despite what results from this flawed health calculator and these ridiculous new drug-promoting guidelines, as always I suggest you play an active role in your own health care. With drug companies pushing to get every man, woman and child on statins, you may get a lot of encouragement to go on these drugs. Although many experts believe that those who have already had a heart attack or heart disease can benefit from this drug, it is certainly not a drug that should be pushed on healthy people or people with low risk of heart disease who can mitigate this risk in other ways.

More and more studies point to a link between inflammation and heart disease. Inflammation can be controlled with a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, good fats, whole soy products, catechin-rich tea, red wine, chocolate, and spices like turmeric, ginger and others. In May I blogged about Dr. Andrew Weil's anti-inflammatory diet (not entirely vegan) which is a combination of the Mediterranean and Japanese diet.

The best way to fight heart disease is to eat a healthy diet, get off the couch, stop smoking or don't start, and do things that you enjoy which will help you combat stress. No little pill is going to prevent the need to do these things and, in fact, may cause some serious health problems.

As always, talk to your doctor (preferably a naturopath or integrative practitioner) before changing your diet or medication.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Vegan Roasted Shaved Brussels Sprouts And Shallots With Pomegranate Seeds
How To Neatly Clean A Pomegranate
Welcome To The 2013 Virtual Vegan Potluck!

Brussels Sprouts - A Thanksgiving Favorite!
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Check out my ebook, Health Begins in the Kitchen.

2013 Virtual Vegan Potluck
Today's recipe will be part of the 2013 Virtual Vegan Potluck. At the bottom of the page, below my recipe, you will be able to link to over 100 vegan recipes posted by my fellow bloggers including appetizers, beverages, breads, salads, sides, soups, main courses, and desserts. So enjoy!

Thanksgiving Favorites
Brussels sprouts and pomegranates are both Thanksgiving favorites so you can only imagine the joy on your guests faces when they are presented together in this delicious dish!

There's a beautiful contrast between the smokey, roasted flavors of the Brussels sprouts and shallots and the bursting fresh flavors of the raw pomegranate seeds, which are actually called pomegranate arils.

Arils are 72 calories per half cup.
They are rich in vitamin C, K, and folate and
contain polyphenols that support heart health
and protect against cancer.

And in case you shy away from this beautiful, polyphenol-packed fruit because it appears to be impossible to clean, I will repost a very easy way to clean pomegranates - one that does not require a hazmat suit! 

How to Neatly Clean a Pomegranate
Step 1 - cut off the top.
Step 2 - Score the rind in four quadrants.
Step 3 - Break the fruit apart, separating the pith from the arils, while submerged  in a bowl of water.

Step 4 - The arils will sink to the bottom.
Skim off the pith and rind.

Step 5 - Drain the arils and set aside.

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Roasted Shaved Brussels Sprouts and Shallots with Pomegranate
Vegan, Gluten Free
Requires large shallow roasting pan
[makes 6 servings]

1 pound Brussels sprouts
6 ounces shallots, peeled, halved, and sliced
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder or granulated garlic
1/2 cup pomegranate arils (see above on how to clean)
1/4 of a fresh lemon

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Lightly grease the roasting pan with a little olive oil.

Prepare the Brussels sprouts. Cut 1/4 inch off the bottoms and rinse.
Cut vertically in 1/4 inch slices. Place on the roasting pan with the shallots.

Drizzle oil over the Brussels sprouts and shallots and season with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Mix until they are well coated. Spread out the vegetables in a single layer.

Bake until slightly golden brown, about 20 minutes, mixing the Brussels sprouts about half way through with a spatula.

Remove from the oven and place in a serving bowl. Top with pomegranate arils, a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, and additional freshly ground black pepper if desired. Toss and serve.

Per serving: 101 calories, 5 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 108 mg omega-3 and 492 mg omega-6 fatty acids, 0 mg cholesterol, 3 g protein, 13.5 g carbohydrates, and 3.5 g dietary fiber.


Wednesday, November 06, 2013

How Big Corporations Target Toddlers To Teens
2013 Yale Rudd Center Study On Fast Food

The Elephant in the Room
Whatever side of the healthcare debate you are on, everyone can agree that we have a health crisis in this country. Obesity and all of its related diseases continue to rise. And while we focus on people's access to doctors and medication, we ignore the elephant in the room. And that is that lots of people, from the time they are toddlers until the day they call 911, eat unhealthy fast food that eventually makes them sick. The money spent by fast food companies to develop these addictive products and the marketing dollars spent to get your family to demand them is staggering. Jennifer Harris and her team at the Rudd Center continue to study and report on this phenomenon.

Update by Yale Rudd Center
Three years ago I reported on a study by Yale University's Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity. I wasn't surprised how little fast food restaurants were concerned about providing adequate nutrition to their young customers but I was absolutely astounded when I saw the facts and figures on how these children are being targeted by fast food marketing. Have there been any improvements? The 2013 Fast Food FACTS analyzes 18 fast food restaurants - here are their findings.

Less than 1% of all Kid's Meals Meet Nutritional Standards
Many fast food restaurants have added some token "healthy kid's meal options" but most are in name only. McDonald's idea of increasing the nutritional value of their Happy Meals was to cut the order of fries in half and include a few apple slices. But we all realize that these restaurants are not a place to go for real food. The problem is that America's children continue to beg to visit these establishments. Here's why!

Outrageous Amounts of Marketing Dollars Target Toddlers to Teens
The fast food industry spent $4.6 billion on all advertising in 2012, up 8% since 2009. Much of this advertising targets preschoolers, older children and teens and features the most unhealthy regular menu items.
This latest study revealed:
* Preschoolers saw almost 3 fast food ads per day.
* McDonald's advertised its Happy Meals 31 million times per month. Most of these ads appeared on,,, and other kid's websites.
* Teens are heavily targeted by fast food restaurants like Taco Bell, Sonic, and Startbucks.
* KFC, Subway, and Starbucks more than doubled display advertising on youth websites.
* Black and Hispanic youths, who are at higher risk for obesity and type 2 diabetes, are more heavily targeted. 

Using Social Media to Poison our Children
Six billion fast food ads appeared on Facebook. They are so effective that this industry has exponentially grown their advertising on mobile devices, using things like smartphone apps to offer special deals. And they are effective.I just facebooked McDonald's and they had over 29 million FB likes and Taco Bell's YouTube videos were viewed nearly 14 million times!
  The Big Players
According to Nielsen (2012), 70% of all ads viewed by preschoolers, children, and teens were from six big players.They are:
McDonald's (largest number of ads viewed by children 2 to 5 and 6 to 11)
Yum!Brands, owner of KFC, Pizza Hut, and Taco Bell (the largest number of ads viewed by teens)
Burger King

Rudd Center's Conclusion and Recommendation
In three years, since their last study, they concluded that there were a few minor improvements made by the fast food industry but nothing significant enough to change the eating habits of our young children who tend to over-consume high-calorie, nutritionally poor fast food.

Jennifer Harris, the lead author of the report and the Rudd Center's director of marketing initiatives feels that these marketing efforts "often take advantage of young people's vulnerability to marketing, making it even tougher for parents to raise healthy children."

The authors would like to see fast food restaurants significantly improve the nutritional value of the menu items offered to children. For example, healthy sides and beverages should automatically come with kid's meals. Healthier menu items should be offered at a reasonable price. 

Numerous specific recommendations are presented on how fast food restaurants should be restricted from their aggressive activities to market their unhealthy menu items to children of all ages. 

Should More Be Done?
The fast food restaurants have done little to self regulate the marketing activities that are contributing to childhood obesity and the illnesses that will likely follow. So it's really up to us to encourage this change. Three methods that come to mind are
* Stop frequenting these establishments or, when you do, purchase the healthier choices so the companies are encouraged to offer these items.
* Congress could pass legislation outlawing the advertising of junk food to children. This is very similar to the ban on cigarette advertising which had a direct impact on reducing the incidence of lung cancer.
* Educate people on the health issues associated with heavy consumption of fast food. This is also similar to when the surgeon general educated the public on the link between smoking  and cancer. Should there be a warning label on each Happy Meal bag of fries?

Yes, everyone should have access to affordable health insurance but people should also have access to affordable healthy food. The idea that a company would spend billions of dollars targeting preschool children, older children, and teens, to eat food that can cause them a lifetime of illness is disgraceful. As the title of my book suggests, Health Begins in the Kitchen, not at the doctor's office, not at your local pharmacy, and certainly not at your nearest fast food restaurant.
To read this important study by the Yale Rudd Center in its entirety, go to

Monday, November 04, 2013

Apple, Pear, And Fresh Cranberry Crisp
Vegan And Gluten Free

Add this Apple, Pear, and Fresh Cranberry Crisp
to your Thanksgiving dessert menu!

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Thanksgiving Isn't Just About Pumpkin Pie!
One of my favorite desserts, whether it be raw or baked, is fruit crisp. It's a dessert that really focuses on the fruit and doesn't need an overpowering amount of sugar. It also doesn't require mastering the art of making flakey pie crusts, which is challenging enough when you're using butter and white flour and not a bit concerned with how healthy it is. But trying to make one that is vegan, gluten free, and kinda healthy - well, it's tough.

But making a crisp is a snap. You just start with delicious, ripe fruit, sprinkle with a simple topping, and voila! And no one would taste the difference between Earth Balance and butter or would they know you added gluten-free oat flour or white whole wheat flour to the rolled oat topping rather than white flour. Or that you cut down the sugar by adding a touch of stevia. 

Today's recipe is the perfect dessert to serve for the holidays. It will stand proudly beside your pumpkin pie at the Thanksgiving table or will be a great addition to your Christmas dessert selection.

Make Dessert the Main Attraction
If you like to entertain but preparing an entire banquet is more than you can handle, invite your guests over for a selection of healthy desserts. Serve with a selection of nice teas, freshly brewed coffee, or a well-paired dessert wines. Desserts deserve more respect than to be served after a huge meal. Unless, of course, you have an extra "dessert stomach" like my grandson Matisse claims to have.

Complementing Autumn Flavors 
The orange and cinnamon flavors in this recipe season the baked pears and apples perfectly while the tartness of the fresh cranberries contrast beautifully with the sweet oat topping. 

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Apple, Pear, and Fresh Cranberry Crisp
Vegan, Gluten Free (with oat or other GF flour)
[makes 8 servings]
Requires an 8 inch square baking pan

For the topping
1/4 cup Earth Balance buttery spread plus some for the pan
3/4 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup oat flour or white whole wheat flour
3 tablespoons organic cane sugar
1/2 teaspoon stevia powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

For the filling
3 cups peeled and sliced baking apples
2 cups peeled and sliced pears
1 cup fresh cranberries
1 teaspoon loosely packed grated orange zest
2 tablespoons orange juice
1/2 teaspoon stevia powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly grease an 8-inch square baking pan with a small amount of Earth Balance. Set aside.

Prepare the topping by placing the oats, oat flour, sugar, stevia, and cinnamon in a mixing bowl. Stir until well combined. Add the Earth Balance and mix with a fork or your fingers until crumbly.

If you have severe sensitivity to gluten, use certified
gluten-free oats and oat flour for the topping.

Prepare the filling by placing all of the filling ingredients in a large bowl. Stir well to combine.

Combine filling ingredients.

To make the crisp, place the filling in the baking pan, making sure that the cranberries are evenly distributed. Sprinkle the topping over the crisp uniformly.

Ready for the oven.

Bake in the preheated oven until the crisp is bubbly and the topping is browned, about 30 minutes. The apples and pears should be fork tender and not mushy. 

Remove from the oven, let sit for 10 minutes, and serve.

Per serving: 170 calories, 7 g total fat, 2 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 3 g protein, 26 g carbohydrates, 4 g dietary fiber, and 57 mg sodium.