Archive for December 2012

My Fave Granola

I’ve modified a recipe I found in Alive Magazine for homemade granola. It’s easy to make and great to keep on hand for breakfast or a snack.

5 cups rolled oats
2 cups raw almonds, chopped (I buy them whole and use my food processor or blender to chop them)
1 cup raw pumpkin seeds
1 cup raw sunflower seeds
1 1/2 Tbsp ground cinnamon (I love love love cinnamon, so I added more than the recipe called for)
4 tsp ground ginger
 (I used more ginger than Alive’s recipe by mistake the first time I made it and liked it that way; I also omitted the salt)
3/4 cup maple syrup
 (when I ran out of maple syrup one time, I used some agave instead and that was fine too; but I prefer maple syrup)
1/2 cup organic coconut oil
1 1/2 cups raisins
 (or mixed dried fruits)
1/2 cup dried cranberries
 (or goji berries)
1/2 cup flaxseeds (or chia seeds)
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips or carob chips (why not?)

Preheat oven to 225 F (110 C).

In a large bowl, toss together oats, nuts, seeds, and seasonings.

Heat syrup and oil in saucepan just until warmed. Pour this over the oat mixture. Using your hands, toss the ingredients together until evenly mixed and then spread it onto baking sheets.

Bake for 45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes. Remove and cool before adding dried fruits and flaxseed or chia seeds and chocolate chips.


Which Fruit Wears Its Own Little Crown?

Which fruit has a gem named after it?

Which fruit is known as the “fruit of the dead” by Greek myths; represents prosperity to the Egyptians; is believed by some Jewish scholars to be the “forbidden fruit” from the Garden of Eden, not the apple; and is believed to represent fertility to Persians, Armenians, Chinese, and in Hinduism?

Which fruit’s flower is pictured here?

I remember the first pomegranate I had as a kid. I remember my mom gave my sister and I each half, and then sent us outside to pick out the seeds to eat. I also remember that she never gave us another. I now understand why. They are messy!

But I recently started eating them again and have been given tips by a few friends on how to better get the seeds out. It’s still a bit messy and I wear an apron now, as the first time I extracted the seeds, the lovely red juice ended up decorating my shirt, my sock, and my dog. A beautiful red for sure and our word garnet comes from the colour of the seeds in a “poumgarnet”. However, here are the tips I was given to make it a less bloody process.

– cut the pomegranate in half
– score the edges of each of the halves
– over a bowl in your sink, pry open  the pomegranate enough to loosen up the seeds
– hold one of the halves open side in your palm over the bowl
– take a big spoon and whack the rounded side of the pomegranate, allowing the seeds to fall between your fingers into the bowl

I have also been told to do this in a bowl of water and by cutting the pomegranate into quarters instead of halves.

Why go through so much “trouble” to get at these seeds? Because the sweetness and tartness of them is yummy. And because they are loaded with antioxidants, vitamin C, folic acid, potassium, and phytonutrients that may help prevent heart disease and cancer.

How do you select them? Look for fruit that feel heavy, so that they will contain more juice. Their skin should not be dry or wrinkly. These are not local fruits for us in Canada as they thrive in subtropical climates, but they are good to have on occasion, and I like sprinkling the seeds on salads or on coconut or almond yogurt with granola, as pictured here.


My recipe for the granola can be found here.


Vancouver Sun Connects to Connect Health

I meant to add this awhile back as this is an article written in the Vancouver Sun about Connect Health. It’s one patient’s experience with Connect Health. It’s great to look back on the year and see how we’ve been able to work as a team at Connect! It’s also great to know that we are a growing team that are finding out even more ways to work well together for the betterment of our patients.

Patient Sings Praises of Holistic Healing Team



Raw versus Cooked

I have recently been asked by a few patients: “What do you think of the raw food diet?”

A raw food diet generally consists mostly of vegetables, fruits, sprouts, seaweed, nuts, seeds, grains, and beans. Raw foodists do not use a stove or oven to cook their food. When they want to dry out fruit or other foods, food dehydrators are used. Food dehydrators reach maximum temperatures of 115 to 118 degrees, and they can make everything from fruit leathers and kale chips to breads and crackers. They can also be used to make jerky, but the American Dietetic Association would argue that this is not hot enough to destroy harmful bacteria.

The Positive of Rawism

The principle is that raw foods–foods that are neither cooked nor processed–are healthier. They retain their enzymes to support digestion and there is no destruction of their natural vitamins.

Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, bok choy, kale, and cabbage are healthier when raw. They contain a compound that converts into isothiocyanates, an anti-cancer compound.

These, of course, are good things!

Other benefits of rawism is that it consists mostly of plant-based foods and avoids refined sugars and alcohol.

The Negatives of Rawism

Like anyone who does not eat animal proteins, supplementing vitamin B12 is important. This is easily done via B12 injections or sublingual (dissolve under the tongue) B12 pills. Though some plants, like spirulina, may be high in B12, they are poorly absorbed by our bodies.

Some foods are better cooked. Tomatoes are rich sources of the phytonutrient lycopene, but only when they are cooked. Mushrooms are difficult to digest when eaten uncooked. Cooking helps to break down the fungal cell walls, rendering them more easily digestible and releasing many of their nutrients. In addition, many edible mushrooms also contain toxic or irritating components that are destroyed by cooking.

Spinach, Swiss chard, and beet greens may also be better cooked. Though these leafy greens are rich in calcium, their high levels of oxalic acid binds to the calcium, thus reducing it availability for absorption. Cooking releases some of the bound calcium making it available for us to digest.

Traditional Chinese Medicine–Our Take on Raw Versus Cooked

Traditional Chinese Medicine does not recommend eating a lot of raw foods. We think of the process of digestion as requiring “Stomach Fire”. If you imagine the stomach as a cooking pot, that pot needs fire under it to cook, i.e. digest. If we keep eating raw and/or cold foods, we put out the digestive fire. You may experience that as gas and bloating.

Lightly cooking our foods make them easier to digest. Yes, there is some loss of enzymes, but the process of cooking breaks down the foods enough to make them more easily digested. Additionally, we do produce our own digestive enzymes. I do not recommend boiling vegetables and tossing out the water that holds many of the vitamins. Instead, I recommend steaming vegetables, slow cooking, and making soups and stews, along with finding the right amount of raw foods that suits you.

If the weather is cold and damp; if eating raw foods make you bloated and gassy; if you tend to feel cold, consider limiting your consumption of raw foods. If the weather is hot; if you feel better with more raw foods; if you tend to feel overheated, more raw foods might be your way to improving your health.

If you do eat a lot of raw food, you might consider adding some warming spices to help keep your digestive fire. These include ginger, cinnamon, cardamon, and cloves.

No matter which path you take, pay attention to how you feel to determine the right combination of raw and cooked foods for you.

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