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Keep on the Sunny Side

Written by Stefanie on June 2, 2011 – 8:41 pm - Add your Comment »

My close friend, Ted, mentioned that he was having difficulty with blood sugar level fluctuation. Mainly that often when he is deep in his work he suddenly finds himself painfully hungry, light-headed and way stressed out. I used to have the same issue - suddenly hungry and weak and stressed and no brain power to get myself fed properly. I promised Ted that I would make some suggestions for dietary changes and snacks that would effectively allay this problem.

I realized, as I sat down to write, that it is easier said than done. One can suggest, for example, that sprouting seeds and legumes is a great way to get a lot more nutrients out of those foods, but such a suggestion might well sound like Greek to someone who doesn’t have any associated context or background.

I believe this may be why so many people who want to “get healthier” find it difficult to do so. There are some fundamental shifts of habit, thought, and/or skill set that may have to be addressed. They are not so difficult as they are just so different.

This is my first draft of an offering of a super basic building block to a nutrified way of life. Because I am starting with snacks, I decided I would deal first with the germinating of seeds and legumes.

Now, now, don’t go rolling your eyes! It may sound really bland and boring, but nothing is what it seems. Even plain and bland, when I leave sprouted sunflower seeds or sprouted lentils out on the counter in the kitchen, they get nibbled by everyone in the house throughout the day. The inner nibbler will often be satisfied nibbling at whatever is easily available, so having healthy stuff around is a great first step to take.

Let’s start with sunflower seeds as a snack.
The roasted nuts and seeds widely available at the store have been processed. Without getting into a dissertation on processed food and chemically refined, heated, overheated, or possibly rancid oils in this article, let’s just say - In general, my impression is that if you want to be healthier, you want to avoid processed foods. You can get raw organic whole sunflower seeds at most markets that carry bulk items, Trader Joe’s, and health food stores. There are also good resources for ordering raw organic nuts and seeds online.

Raw nuts and seeds contain the enzyme inhibitors (my family calls them “phyto-goblins”) that make them last so long, but also make them difficult to digest. Enzyme inhibitors may also be somewhat toxic to us human folks, a situation discussed in detail in my blog article, The Importance of Soaking Nuts.

Not roasted and not raw? What do you do? Well, it is good to know that once they have germinated, seeds and legumes change a great deal. They are no longer just starchy. The amino acid content changes as they start to grow. They are much easier to digest and the nutrients are easier for your body to assimilate.

The absolute easiest things to start with are sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, and mung beans.

Recipe for Germinating seeds:
Start with a half cup of sunflower seeds (or pumpkin seeds or mung beans) and put them into a bowl that holds more than 2 cups of water.
Add 1 1/2 cups of water of water.
Let the seeds soak over night. The next morning, pour them through a strainer (I use one a little bigger than the bowl) and move the strainer under running water to rinse them off well. They are ready to eat. Make only enough for a day or so, as they get brown after a while. If you need help remembering to soak your seeds at night, I have found the easiest solution is to associate the habit with an already ingrained one, like brushing your teeth or washing your face: Clean your teeth, clean your seeds. Soak them at night, rinse them in the morning.

Uses for soaked sunflower seeds:
You can add them to salads to create a much more substantial dish. (You can probably add much more than you think. I often add a half cup of soaked seeds to a salad)
You can add them to your morning oatmeal or granola.
For a quick snack, In 5 minutes you can chop a half an avocado, half a tomato, and toss in your soaked sunflower seeds with a little lemon, salt, and your choice of spices, like thyme for a savory flair, or cayenne for a little spice.

Soaked mung beans can be used in much the same way as sunflower seeds. I have even added a handful of them to my granola. If you are beginning to eat salads because they are supposed to be healthy, try adding some mung beans to “beef up” the nutritional value.

Sometimes, if I am feeling a tad uninspired, I just transfer the sunnies to a clean bowl after rinsing them thoroughly in the morning, and I munch on them throughout the day as a snack. (Keep sunnies and pumpkin seeds in the fridge once you rinse them after the soak) It may seem odd at first, but they do the trick for hunger pangs. Baby carrots are another good thing to have around for such moments. The idea here is to calm the nerves and get you thinking clearly about how to best feed yourself when that light-headed hunger kicks in.

Now, I realize that this may not be the definitive answer to blood sugar fluctuation, but let’s take baby steps, folks.
As we progress with these baby steps, the fundamental shifts in the diet will cause changes in the overall picture.

Next time we’ll get into some chili lime snacks and other yummy stuff in the thrilling adventure: Dehydrator Basics.

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The Green Fairy Returns

Written by Stefanie on February 24, 2011 – 8:30 am - 1 Comment »

I find that kale salad is peace on the earth that is my I imagine my blood humming with pleasure whenever I eat kale salad.  I eat it so often that I had to change it up for variety.  One of my favorite variations on the theme - what shall I call it - Cilantro Ginger Kale Salad.

I have taken to making large salads.  They don’t last as long as you would think, because everyone eats them up so quickly.

Use one or 2 bunches of kale and 1 bunch of cilantro

1/2 inch square to 1 inch square of young ginger, chopped very fine
1 clove of garlic, chopped very fine or crushed through a garlic press
Juice of 1/2 lemon or 1 lime
1/4 c olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground cayenne

It is important to remember that the proportions in the dressing should be adjusted to taste and to the size of the salad. If you are using a LOT of greens, you may need to add a little more olive oil and lemon. This salad is no fun if it is dry. Kale leaves need to be dressed and pressed into submission for eating.   When it is done right, it is a very satisfying salad, so don’t get caught up in trying to skimp on the olive oil.

Pour the dressing over the chopped greens and mix it in by squeezing. The squeezing softens the kale and distributes the dressing well.

Add tomatoes after mixing OR if your dressing is too lemony, add some chopped tomatoes before you mix by squeezing. This neutralizes the lemon taste somewhat and balances it out.

Remember: Green is gorgeous!

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Got Goat?

Written by Stefanie on December 16, 2010 – 10:38 am - 1 Comment »

470_438066“Most Americans are surprised to find out that  more people drink goat milk world-wide than any other kind of milk.
The most common misconception about goat milk is that it has a peculiar “goaty” odor or taste. Fresh properly handled goat milk has a delicious flavor and many people cannot distinguish between cow and goat milk. It is considered sweeter, lighter. It is essential to keep it cold - at or under 40 degrees.” (more info at

Goat milk’s fat and protein content are easier to digest than cow milk (if you are not a cow). A study of 2000 people who suffered from food allergies found that 43.7% were allergic to cow milk while only 2.5% were allergic to goat milk. (publication by Kathleen G. Gorney)

People with ulcers or other digestive problems have found relief and benefit from drinking goat’s milk. For a milk drinker with skin problems, goat milk is touted as a fix.
This makes sense, if you realize that skin problems often suggest digestive problems.

Goats convert all of the carotene they consume into vitamin A. It is higher in vitamin A and in calcium than cow milk.

For young children and babies who are not breast-feeding, goat milk has been recommended as a better choice than cow milk products or formula milks, having plenty of some key nutrients, such as chloride, biotin, and methionine. It has even been said that cow milk and formula milks, because of the deficiency of these nutrients and because of their triglyceride structure, can set up future sugar dependence, because too much energy is derived from glucose.

So my dear readers, if you suffer from but cannot give up your milk, give goat milk a try.  Let me know how it goes!

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