Clean, Natural and Healthy Meals From Your Kitchen

Notice in the title of this article I said your kitchen. Eating clean and healthy is not hard to do but you have to know what is in your food in order to do so. Even the seemingly healthy restaurants may sneak something in on you that you wouldn’t normally eat. The only way to really know what you are eating is to prepare it yourself.

The first step you should take toward better health is to eliminate the processed, pre-packaged and fast foods from your diet. The second step should be to learn to recognize and prepare clean, natural and healthy foods for yourself and your family.

Choosing to eat “clean” and healthy meals is not so much about restricting what you eat, but rather about making better choices and eating better quality foods. Starting with more natural foods containing natural ingredients and eliminating chemicals and additives. The fresher the foods, the better.

Simplify your foods and meals. Choose almost any package in the grocery store and take a look at the long list of ingredients, most are unrecognizable, and many are made in a laboratory. Clean foods have very few ingredients with familiar names. If you can’t pronounce it or have know idea what the ingredient is you probably don’t want to eat it. The simplest clean foods are in fact known as “single ingredient” foods like a banana, a carrot, quinoa or a chicken breast. These are the types of foods to incorporate into your clean eating recipes.

Eliminate refined sugar. Adding refined sugar to your food means consuming empty calories. Alternative sweeteners like stevia, honey and maple syrup are more natural, but use them sparingly as they too will feed your sugar addiction. In the end, sugar is sugar not matter if it has health benefits, like in the case of honey, or not.

Choose local and organic foods. When choosing ingredients for your healthy home cooked meals, shop your local Farmer’s Market and choose organic products when possible. These foods are more nutritious and don’t contain any pesticides, hormones and chemicals.

Cooking your own meals. Stop buying meals or entrees in a box, learn to cook meals from scratch. It is not no as hard as it sounds. Whole foods need little preparation other than chopping and sautéing to make simple yet satisfying, delicious meals you and your family will love.

Planning and preparing clean meals in the kitchen. Start with combining simple and delicious single ingredient foods as meals.

For breakfast try two eggs with onions and peppers served with sliced avocado and tomato. Or, plain Greek yogurt with ½ cup of home-made granola and fresh berries.

Lunch could include a spinach salad with apple cider vinegar and extra-virgin olive oil dressing, walnuts, goat cheese and any vegetables you prefer.

A sample dinner might be a brown rice bowl with roasted chicken breast and vegetables with a squeeze of lime and some sesame seeds.

Notice in these examples, the list of foods is also the list of ingredients.

Your kitchen doesn’t have to be the room of the house you dread being in. Keeping things simple and enjoyable will make cooking seem less like a chore and more like a routine that makes you feel and look great.

What are your easy go-to recipes for a healthy meal?

Sarah Burchard is the author of The Healthy Locavore, a natural foods chef and certified health coach whose writing centers around holistic health, supporting community and eating locally grown and made food.

The Healing Powers of Salt

Sea salt

Sea salt

Have you ever had a salt-water fish tank? If you have you know that as the water evaporates in the tank the salinity level increases requiring you to add more fresh water to maintain the correct salt to water ratio for the fish to thrive in.

Our bodies, like the salt-water tank, also require a certain salt to water ratio. Except that when we sweat and lose water in our “tank” the salt in our body seeps out our pours with it. Therefore, we must not only replenish water in our “tanks” but the salt too.

The Balance of salt and water in the body is crucial.

Do you wonder why sports drinks contain electrolytes? Electrolytes are essentially salts. When you work out or play sports you sweat. Electrolytes are placed in sports drinks to quickly replenish your body with salt and water. It is important to replenish with both salt and water to maintain proper balance and to stay hydrated.

Ever notice that you get a little swollen when you are dehydrated? Your body has too much salt and not enough water. You need to add water to balance your salinity.

Have you ever had athletes foot? Salt water not only balances the insides of your body but the outside too. Salt alkalizes the body. If you have a foot fungus it means that the PH level of your skin in that area is off. In other words your skin is too acidic and not enough alkaline. Soaking the foot in salt-water alkalizes the foot and brings the PH level of your skin back to the proper level.

What about muscle cramps or stiffness? This usually means you don’t have enough salt in your body. Time to re-balance. Taking a soak in an Epsom salt bath is a great way to do this.

If you aren’t sure if you need to replenish salt in your body don’t worry it is still safe to consume. Your body will take in the amount of salt it needs and eliminate the rest as long as you drink enough water.

Salts I recommend for food

Not all salts are created equal. Salts that have been processed have been stripped of many of their trace minerals and can often contain chemicals and additives. Eating processed foods high in sodium will not give you the same nutrional benefits that seasoning your food moderately with natural, pure salts will.

Here are the salts I suggest you use for seasoning your food with for nutritional benefit. They each contain all 82 trace minerals needed to adequately balance the body and are harvested naturally making them unprocessed and pure.

Celtic Sea Salt

This salt is naturally harvested in Brittany, France near the Celtic Sea,. The clay found in the salt fields where this salt is harvested ionizes the minerals in the salt and is what creates its grey color. Because of the clay this salt will appear damp.

Himalayan Salt

Mined by hand in and around Kewra, Pakistan in the Himalayas. There are several different mines supplying this prized salt, some have higher standards than others. It is naturally pink in color.

Red Hawaiian Alaea Salt

Hawaii’s Alaea volcanic clay is what makes this salt a deep red color and gives it an have amazing flavor. Because of the clay this salt will appear damp.

Salts I recommend for skin

Adding a couple cups of salt to a hot bath relaxes, restores and heals the body.

Himalayan Salt

This salt works great added to baths to balance the PH of your skin, detoxify and to relax muscles and joints.

Epsom salt

Otherwise known as Magnesium sulfate, this salt can be used both externally (in hot baths) or orally (as a form of laxative). This salt is known to relax sore muscles and heal achy joints, minor cuts and skin funguses when used in a hot bath.

Salts I recommend for drinking

Celtic grey salt

Add a pinch of this salt to a large glass of lukewarm water to drink every morning. This will replenish minerals, hydrate you and balance the PH level in your mouth and body.

Coconut water

A great alternative to sugary sports drinks. Coconut water is naturally high in electrolytes making it a perfect drink for replacing the body’s fluids and minerals lost after a good work out. If you have access to young green coconuts and are handy with a cleaver you’re stoked. If you are into convenience look for unpasteurized, unflavored coconut water that contains no preservatives. For the store bought stuff Harmless Harvest, Invo, Blue Monkey, Zico, Amy & Brian All Natural Coconut Juice and Zola are all great brands.

Natural Salt Health Bennies:

  • Regulates blood pressure – Helps raise low blood pressure and lower high blood pressure if consumed with plenty of water.
  • Clears mucus – Relieves congestion.
  • Balances blood sugars – Good for people with diabetes.
  • Maintains a healthy PH balance in the body – Both inside and out. The alkalinity of the salt balances excess acidity in the body to restore a proper PH balance.
  • Good for the immune system – Promotes a higher resistance to illness and infections and helps heal the body quicker after an injury.
  • Promotes good sleep – Creates a calming effect on the nervous system.
  • Prevents muscle cramps – Not enough salt in the body can cause cramps. Replenish minerals needed by consuming salt with plenty of water.
  • Treats joint pain and stiffness and sore muscles – Relaxes and restores minerals to problem areas.
  • Combats fatigue – Restoring sodium and trace minerals back into the body when deprived can increase energy in our cells.
  • Keeps brain cells healthy – Contributes tho their ability to communicate clearly and process information efficiently.

So, does salt heal everything? Maybe not, but it sure can ease a lot of common ailments and is an important element for maintaining balance in the body. Natural salt can be a great tool as long as you remember these key points: use naturally harvested pure salts, consume in moderation and consume with plenty of water. Whether it be in a bathtub for soaking, in a glass for drinking or to be drunken throughout the day to balance the salt in your meals plenty of water is always needed to balance the salt “in your tank”.

What do you think? Do you believe salt promotes healing or do you think it is bad for your health and contributes to problems like high blood pressure? I would love to hear your opinion in the comments section.

Sarah Burchard is the author of The Healthy Locavore, a natural foods chef and certified health coach whose writing centers around holistic health, supporting community and eating locally grown and made food.

Herbal Water

Ever been to a day spa where they handed you a glass of water full of sliced lemon or cucumber? Remember how refreshing that was?

Herbal waters take seconds to make and they can brighten your mood in an instant. You don’t need a recipe, you can use whatever fresh herbs, citrus or fruit you have lying around.

Are you trying to get more glasses of water in everyday but the thought of a plain glass of water bores you? Maybe you are trying to ween yourself of soda or juice? Herbal water is a terrific substitution for that. And besides staying hydrated you get the added bonus of getting nutrients from the herbs.

So here’s what you do…

  • Fill up a pitcher with filtered water.
  • Add a handful of fresh herbs and/or sliced fresh fruit thats in season.
  • Stir.
  • Sip on it throughout the day.
  • If you have leftovers at the end of the day refrigerate it and drink the rest the next day.

Here’s some combos that I enjoy…

  • Mint & lemon
  • Lemon verbena & nectarine
  • Basil & berries
  • Rose petals & lime
  • Mint & pomegranate
  • Basil & melon
  • Rosemary & cherries
  • Fennel fronds & orange
  • Thyme & strawberries
  • Basil & peach

Health bennies:

  • Hydrating
  • Cooling
  • Relaxing
  • Great source of vitamins, minerals & flavonoids
  • Healthy substitute for sugary sodas and juices
Sarah Burchard is the author of The Healthy Locavore, a natural foods chef and certified health coach whose writing centers around holistic health, supporting community and eating locally grown and made food.

Everything You Need To Know About GMOs

gmo awareness

gmo awareness

There are two sides to every story. Nothing could be more true than in the case of the people vs. Big Food on the topic of GMOs. Its a story of scientific experimentation, greed, innovation and public safety.

But what exactly is a GMO? And why is everyone afraid of them? Here is a break down on what they are and what each opposing side is saying about them. From there you can make your own decision of what side of the fence you stand on and what you feel comfortable putting into your body.

The Facts:

  • “Genetically modified (GM) foods are foods derived from organisms whose genetic material (DNA) has been modified in a way that does not occur naturally, e.g. through the introduction of a gene from a different organism”. – world health organization (WHO)
  • 88-95% of our corn, canola, soy and sugar is Genetically modified. – GMO OMG- a film by Jeremy Seifert
  • Monsanto, Du Pont & Syngenta are the 3 patent holders of GMO products. – GMO OMG- a film by Jeremy Seifert
  • The 9 main GMO crops in US are soy, corn, cotton, canola, sugar beets, Hawaiian papaya, zucchini & alfalfa.
  • There are 2 types of GMOs:
    • Herbicide resistant crops: Crops that are bred to be able to outlive being sprayed with  a toxic amount of herbicide. An example is Round Up ready soybeans.  GMO OMG- a film by Jeremy Seifert
    • Pesticide producing crops: Crops that have BT – bacillus thuringiensis toxin inserted into their DNA so that when a pest eats them they die. Examples of this are BT corn & cotton. The Future of Food
  • 75% of all processed foods contain GMOs. – Center for food safety
  • 70-90% of all food producing Animals are fed GMO crops. – Forbes
  • Common ingredients that contain GMOs are: amino acids, aspartame, ascorbic acid, vitamin C, soy lecithin (used in chocolate), xanthum gum, molasses, some vitamins & supplements, baking powder, corn syrup and tempeh.- Non GMO Project
  • Europe bans all GMOs. – gmo-free-regions.org
  • Monsanto owns thousands of seed patents. If a farm is illegally using their seeds without a license they can sue them for patent infringement. – RT.com
  • Large food corporations raised over $45 mil to fight prop 37 in CA against GMO food labeling. They scared the public by telling everyone their food prices would increase dramatically.. – SFGate
  • The non-gmo project is a non profit 3rd party verification program that is commited to building sources of non GMO products and providing the public with GMO information. – nongmoproject.org
  • The Non-GMO label on foods is the fastest growing label and boosts sales of its products dramatically – Institute for responsible technology
  • Whole Foods will require that everyone label their foods with GMO ingredients by 2018 – macleans.ca.com

As most of you probably know activists have been fighting tirelessly for GMO labeling so that we can find out if there are GMO ingredients in the food we are eating. It has been an uphill battle to not only demand transparent food labels but also to even just conduct solid scientific research on the possible effects of eating GMO crops.

Here is what the opposing side is saying:

  • GMO corn was linked to tumors, liver & kidney damage in rats. – Institute for responsible technology
  • Monsanto argues there is no difference in nutrients between a GMO crop and a non GMO crop. – Monsanto.com
  • “GM foods are not properly tested for human safety”- Institute for responsible technology
  • GMOs are not labeled because they are considered “substantially equivalent” to other foods and are categorized as “generally recognized as safe” with no scientific evidence by the FDA – The Future of Food
  • Our immune system could get confused at telling apart genetically engineered protein and regular protein, which can lead to chronic inflammation. – Institute for responsible technology
  • Overuse of GE crops and herbicides that are used with those crops have led to weeds that are resistant to the herbicide so you have to spray more. – The Future of Food
  • Companies like Monsanto prevent researchers from using their seeds to conduct scientific studies. – The New York Times
  • Almost always when people switch to a non GMO diet their gastrointestinal problems, allergies, asthma, skin diseases go away – Institute for responsible technology
  • Soybeans when modified trips the typsin inhibitor which then blocks the action of trypsin, an important protein digester – Institute for responsible technology
  • Studies in Scotland showed the process of genetically engineering something is responsible for pre-cancerous cell growth in digestive tract and damaged immune system in rats. The scientist that conducted this study was fired and gagged for speaking of the dangers of GMOs. He was later allowed to talk. – Institute for responsible technology
  • BT toxin is used in organic farming as a natural pesticide. The GMO crop that produces BT toxin is 3-5 times more toxic than the natural spray. It contains properties of known allergins which provoke the immune system. – Institute for responsible technology
  • Glyphosate (round up ready’s main ingredient) deprives plants of nutrients which makes the crops nutrient deficient –Institute for responsible technology
  • When we eat GMO ingredients the glyphosate binds with gluten and nutrients and makes us nutrient deficient, which makes us sick –Institute for responsible technology
  • Glyphosate (Round-up) is a powerful antibiotic which kills good gut bacteria. Bad bacteria like e.coli, salmonella and botulism is resistant to round up. This creates dysbiosis (leaky gut syndrome), acid reflux, digestive issues and immune issues. –Institute for responsible technology
  • Glyphosate (Round up) is an endocrine disrupter in human cells – Pub Med
  • Glyphosate (Round up)  inhibits cytochrome enzymes from filtering toxins out of our bodies and reaks havoc on our gut microbiome which can lead to a variety of diseases like gastrointestinal disorders, diabetes, heart disease and alzheimers. . – MDPI
  • The person in charge of GMO policy at the FDA is Monsanto’s former attorney. His policy claims that GMOs are safe. – Institute for responsible technology
  • Scientists working at FDA found that GMOs were in fact different and dangerous and urged long term safety studies, they were ignored – Institute for responsible technology
  • “A report by the US Centers for Disease Control shows that food related illnesses increased 2-to 10-fold in the years beween 1994 (just before GM food was commercialized) and 1999” –Institute for responsible technology
  • Farmers who reach out for help from the government are ignored because they say it is not their policy to get involved in private litigations. – The future of food
  • GMOs neither feed the world nor address nutrition problems. They are a cheap food source for factory farms and processed foods. – Food and Water Watch
  • Over 300 former congressional and white house staff member are now employed by biotech frims as lobbyists. – food and water watch
  • Staff members go back and forth working for the FDA and GMO companies. – GMO OMG
  • In March 2015 the World Health Organization’s International agency for research said glyphosate was “probably carcinogenic to humans”- Marion Nestle
  • Insects or wind can carry GMO pollen for miles and pollenate other plants. – GMO OMG
  • Because of this farmers could be growing GMO crops with out even knowing it. The farmers are then charged or taken to court by biotech companies that have patented the seeds for “planting them” with out a license.– The future of food
  • “Its been 20 years since the first genetically modified crops were approved in Canada. But theres been no evaluation from the federal goerment as to the risks and benefits of that experiment. “ – Lucy Sharratt, Canadian biotechnology action network.

Here’s Big Food’s side of the story:

  • GMO crops have been grown for 20 years, there is no evidence that says these crops lead to health problems. – Biotech industry
  • GMO Sugar is so highly processed that by the time you eat it it has no more GMO DNA left. – NPR
  • “It doesn’t matter which protein it is, or where it came from, it almost always ends up as nonfunctional pieces that are recycled to new dehydration reactions elsewhere in the body to create new proteins. There’s an exceptionally small chance for a novel GMO protein to survive the digestive system intact and functional, and GMO proteins are not any more likely than any other protein to do so.” – his science is too tight
  • Farmers are able to use less toxic pesticides which are safer for farmers and the environment. PBS
  • Farmers have higher yields of crops and increased income using GMO crops. – Biotech industry
  • Glyphosate is safe – Monsanto
  • GMO farmers say that they are feeding the world.- his science is too tight
  • “GM foods currently available on the international market have passed safety assessments and are not likely to present risks for human health” – The WHO
  • Over 2,000 studies have been done on GM foods affirming their safety – Genetic Literacy Project
  • “FDA’s process for evaluating bioengineered foods is one in which the public can have confidence that food biotechnology products must meet the law’s safety standards.” – FDA
  • “Monsanto should not have to vouchsafe the safety of biotech food…Our interest is in selling as much of it as possible. Assuring its safety is the FDA’s job” – Phil Angell, Director of Corporate Communications, Monsanto, quoted in New York Times Magazine, October 25, 1998
  • “Ultimately, it is the food producer who is responsible for assuring safety” – FDA, “Statement of Policy Foods Derived from New Plant Varieties” (GMO Policy), Federal Register, Vol. 57, No. 104 (1992), p. 22991
  • GM animal feed is safe and nutritionally equivalent to non-GMO feed. – Study of GMOs and food by the university of CA-Davis department of animal science in the Journal of animal science- Forbes

So what do you do if you don’t want to eat GMO crops? It can be difficult since they are in virtually everything but here are a few helpful tips.

  • Buy organic.
  • Shop at farmers markets or buy CSA boxes.
  • Choose non GMO foods. Look for the Non-GMO Project label.
  • Avoid buying nonorganic processed foods

Some Big Food companies wised up real quick when sales started to take a hit. Here is a list of companies that have now agreed to label GMO products

  • Campbell’s
  • General Mills (Cheerios are now GMO free)
  • Mars
  • ConAgra
  • Kellog

What do you think about GMOs? Are they feeding the world or are they making us sick?

Sarah Burchard is the author of The Healthy Locavore, a natural foods chef and certified health coach whose writing centers around holistic health, supporting community and eating locally grown and made food.

Eating According to Your Dosha Type

Spices

Do you know which foods make you feel nourished? Fulfilled? Happy? Energetic? What about the foods that make you feel heavy? Cause bloating? Cause headaches? Eating according to your dosha type is a great way to give your body what it needs to feel good and thrive.

What’s all this dosha talk? In Ayurveda, the 5000 year old science of life, there are three doshas, or body types. Pitta, Kapha and Vata. Everyone has all three but you are more dominant in two which make up your primary and secondary dosha. For example I am a Vata-Pitta. Vata being my primary, which I am most of and Pitta being my secondary. Your primary dosha is based on genetics and doesn’t change your entire life. Knowing your dosha information will help you find the right diet and remedies that work best for you. But, being mindfull of all three doshas is important. When all three doshas are in balance you are in perfect health.

Find out your dosha type with this quiz 

The three doshas are….

Pitta – Represents fire + water. Pittas tend to run hot both physically and mentally. They have a medium athletic build, are very passionate and driven and tend to be perfectionists. One of their downsides is they create problems that don’t really exists when feeling too balanced. When out of balanced they can get irritable, angry and their body’s can get inflamed. They do best with sweet, hydrating, bitter and cooling foods and should avoid salty, heavy foods and stimulants like coffee and alcohol in excess. Relaxing activities, like yoga and fishing, that promote a sense of calmness are ideal for Pittas.

Kapha – Represents water + earth. Kaphas are nurturing, calm and loving. The tend to have a wider build and are very strong. When out of balance they tend to be congested, gain weight easily, lethargic and depressed. They do best with dry, warming foods, pungent-heating spices, light proteins and raw vegetables and should avoid high fat foods, heavy proteins like red meat, dairy, gluten, sweets, processed foods and starchy vegetables in excess. Kapha types benefit from having some cardio in their routine to get stagnant energy moving.

Vata – Represents space + air. Vatas tend to be dry, thin, anxious and scatter brained. They take on many projects at once and are very sensitive to cold weather. They do best with oily, grounding, hydrating and warming foods and should avoid iced drinks, cold foods, citrus, stimulants like sugar and alcohol and dry foods in excess. Grounding activities like yoga, pilates and weightlifting are ideal for Vata types.

How to eat according to your dosha –

Foods well suited for Vata are warm liquids and foods like teas, soups and stews, cooked vegetables, warm spices, good quality oils and whole grains. An example of a good menu for Vata is: Start out the day with warm lemon water, followed by warm oatmeal with fresh berries for breakfast. Lunch could be a hot Beef and vegetable soup with whole grain bread and grass-fed butter. Green tea and juicy fruits like peaches and nectarines are great snack options in the afternoon. A good dinner would be Tofu and vegetable curry over brown rice.

Pitta types do well with herbal teas, citrus, salads, sea vegetables, fresh fruit,  rice,  fresh herbs, seeds and light proteins like chicken and fish. An example of a good menu for Pitta is: An acai bowl for breakfast topped with berries, hemp and sunflower seeds, tuna-avocado sushi rolls with seaweed salad for lunch, lots of cool water throughout the day and an orange for a snack. A good dinner would be Chicken with lemon and herbs and a side of fennel salad and rice.

Kapha types do well with foods like beans, salads, warm teas, quinoa, ginger, cayenne, crunchy vegetables and light proteins like chicken and fish. An example of a good menu for Kapha is: A green juice or fruit smoothie for breakfast. A nice big kale salad with lots of crunchy vegetables for lunch, ginger tea with raw honey and a piece of fruit like an apple or a pear for a snack. A good dinner would be grilled fish with spicy stir fried vegetables over quinoa.

But don’t be too rigid with your diet. Just like you need to consider your dosha you also need to consider other things when it comes to your diet as well. The season, the climate and where you live can also dictate how you should eat.

The best way to choose the foods that will be best for you is to take it day by day. Every morning take a quick scan. How do you feel? What kind of mood are you in? What’s the weather like outside? What foods are in season? How is your digestion? Are you having any cravings? Your body and your surroundings know what you need, listen to them.

Just because my dominant dosha is Vata doesn’t mean I eat to balance Vata every single day. Some days I get up very congested and need to balance Kapha by removing cold wet foods from my breakfast like yogurt and adding in more heating spices like ginger throughout the day. Other days I get up and its very warm outside and I feel more in the mood for a cold smoothie or a refreshing salad to balance my Pitta. Its all about how you feel day to day, moment to moment that determines how you should eat.

Whatever your dosha type may be, eating whole foods and avoiding processed foods is always the most important thing. That being said don’t be too strict on yourself. Enjoy your life. Cheat from time to time. Have some pizza or that piece of chocolate cake if you want. If you try to live your life in balance most of the time it will know when it is ok to veer off track a little and when it’s time to get back on. So enjoy the ride.

Take some, leave some. There are many health systems and diets in the world that work for many people. For example, Ayurveda and Macrobiotics are complete lifestyles that are based in thousands of years of research. Then you have numerous diets like The Raw Diet, The Paleo Diet and The Zone Diet. They are all fascinating and all have truths to them. What is important is finding your truth and a lifestyle that works for you.

I tend to pick and choose which things work for me and not stick to any one system or diet in it’s entirety. I think you can learn a lot from all of them but that you should observe them for what they are from the outside while focusing on yourself from the inside.

Experiment on yourself. Know yourself. Eat accordingly.

Find a local Ayurveda Center…

If you would like to learn more about Ayurveda and how you can incorporate it into your life there is no better way than going to a local center and immersing yourself in it.

I found the Dhyana Center in Sebastopol by chance one day when I picked up an Ayurvedic cookbook at Whole Foods. The foreward was written by the owner of the Dhyana Center and since it was only located an hour away from where I live I decided to go check it out.

My first visit to the Dhyana center was a game changer. I took an introduction to Ayurveda class, my first kundalini yoga class, had my first Ayurveda massage (so much better than a regular old massage!), I used the self-care sanctuary where they have steam rooms, saunas and bathtubs and I tried my first “mocktail” at their apothecary bar. It was an experience I will never forget. I now bring family and friends there so I can share it with them. It is a truly special place.

Dhyana Center – A school, self-care center and community center for Ayurveda. There is also a retail shop where you can purchase many tools, spices and remedies used for the Ayurveda lifestyle.

Sarah Burchard is the author of The Healthy Locavore, a natural foods chef and certified health coach whose writing centers around holistic health, supporting community and eating locally grown and made food.

Tea For Digestion

Tea for digestion

What if you could ensure optimal digestion at every meal? No bloating, no heartburn, no abdominal pain and increased nutrient absorption.

There are many factors that are involved in digesting a meal well. Portion size, thoroughly chewing your food, the way you are sitting, how fast you are eating, etc.

But what if I told you that the drink that accompanies your meal also plays a huge role in how you digest it?

Hot vs. Cold. In Ayurveda, the 5000 year old North Indian science of life, they believe if you consume cold beverages you weaken the “digestive fire” that energizes your digestive system inhibiting you to get properly nourished from food. On the other hand drinking hot or warm beverages stoke this fire and stimulates digestion.

To drink or not to drink? You could also argue that drinking too much fluid wether it be hot or cold will over-dilute stomach acid and impair digestion as well. Because of this many believe you shouldn’t drink anything at all during a meal.

Drinking before a meal. Drinking water a half hour before a meal has been said to aid in digestion and even help with weight loss. By giving you a sense of fullness before you even start eating, drinking the glass of water before the meal may make you less likely to overeat.

Spiced teas are another way to go and my personal favorite. Something as basic as steeping fresh ginger in hot water to drink with your meal is one of the oldest and most common ways to stoke that “digestive fire”. The recipe I have designed below is sort of a combination of three different teas I like to make myself. They all benefit digestion so combining them made sense to me. It also tastes great.

Health bennies:

  • Ginger – warming, stimulates enzymes in the saliva which helps break down our food, improves circulation, increases energy, clears congestion.
  • Turmeric – warming, anti-inflammatory.
  • Black pepper – helps activate the curcumin in the turmeric which is responsible for turmeric’s anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Cumin, coriander & fennel seeds – good source of minerals and magnesium, helps prevent acid indigestion.
  • Fresh lemon – helps to detoxify the liver.
  • Raw honey – good for your immune system, high in antioxidants.

I know what you are thinking right now….but, I love ice water, an ice cold beer or chilled wine with my dinner. If you are in that category I invite you to notice how you feel at the end of a meal that you accompany an ice cold drink with. Then have a meal either drinking a warm beverage like ginger tea or nothing at all and compare it to the other meal. You may find no difference at all. You may see a dramatic difference. And if you do, you can choose to incorporate this practice into your daily routine as just one more thing you do to improve your health.

Do you have a preferred beverage to drink with meals? Why is this drink your go to? Do you love the flavor? Does it make you feel good? Does it cool you down or warm you up?

I would love to hear from you.

Tea For Digestion

Yield – 2 1/4 cups

2 cups Filtered water

1 – 1 in. piece Ginger, peeled and grated (about 1 teaspoon)

1 – 1 in. piece Turmeric, peeled and grated (about 1 teaspoon) or  (1/2 teaspoon powdered turmeric)

1/8 teaspoon (about 6-8 each)  Black peppercorns, crushed

1/4 teaspoon Cumin seeds, crushed

1/4 teaspoon Coriander seeds, crushed

1/4 teaspoon Fennel seeds, crushed

1/2 Lemon (I love using Meyer lemons for this, but a regular lemon also works great)

2 teaspoons Raw honey

Directions:

  • Combine the water, ginger, turmeric and dried spices in a small pot and bring to a boil over high heat.
  • Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer 10 minutes.
  • Remove from the heat, strain and stir in the juice of half a lemon and the honey.
  • Enjoy while the tea is still warm on its own or with a meal to stoke your digestive fire.

Grated turmeric

Sarah Burchard is the author of The Healthy Locavore, a natural foods chef and certified health coach whose writing centers around holistic health, supporting community and eating locally grown and made food.

Spring Cleanse Bone Broth

Bone broth

Spring is the best time of the year to do a cleanse and move stagnant winter energy out of your body. It’s a time to push out toxins and built up congestion and start fresh.

Drinking a cup of bone broth every day during or after a cleanse acts as a supplement to help maintain good health, keep us strong and heal the gut.

As an added bonus for the liver I have added some herbs to this broth that aid in detoxification – milk thistle and Astragalus (a chinese herb often referred to as huang qi).

Source your veal bones from a reputable butcher. Try to find organic, hormone and antibiotic free bones.

Health bennies:

  • Veal knuckle and femur bones – High in collagen and cartilage (more so than beef bones) which help rejuvenate skin, hair, nails, cells and tissue. Heals the intestinal lining by feeding the gut cells. Helps balance the immune system. Replenishes important vitamins and minerals, Contains all 9 essential amino acids needed for optimal health. Helps liver detox heavy metals. Strengthens bones and improves joint health.
  • Milk Thistle – Often used in Chinese medicine to detox the liver.
  • Astragalus – Known in Chinese medicine to be a Qi (chi) mover which helps move stagnant energy out and promote new tissue growth.
  • Garlic & Ginger – Good for your immune and digestive systems, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory.

Spring Cleanse Bone Broth

Yield – 1 gallon

3 pounds Veal knuckle bones

3 pounds Veal femur bones, with marrow

1 teaspoon Sea Salt

1 Tablespoon Black peppercorns, crushed

1/2 cup Apple cider vinegar (distilled, white or red can also be used)

6 quarts Water, filtered

2 Yellow onion, large dice

2 Carrots, large dice

4 ribs Celery, large die

1 bunch Thyme

2 Bay leaves

1/4 cup Milk Thistle Seeds

1/4 cup Astragula (Huang qi)

1/2 bunch Parsley

3 inch piece Ginger, peeled and sliced

6 cloves Garlic, smashed

Broth ingredients

Directions:

  • Place the first 6 ingredients into either 1 very large stockpot or 2, 1-gal pots divided equally. Let sit at room temp for 1 hour so that the vinegar and sea salt can draw the minerals out of the bones.
  •  Bring the pot (or pots) up to  barely a boil over medium heat, reduce heat to a simmer.  Skim off impurities, cover partially and simmer on low for 2 days. Add more water as often as needed in order to keep the bones covered, always returning the broth to a simmer.
  •  On the 3rd day add the next 10 ingredients and continue to simmer another 6 hours, adding more water if necessary to keep everything covered.Broth
  • Strain the broth through a fine mesh sieve. Keep any collagen, marrow or meat that falls off the bones, chop them finely and add them to the strained stock.
  •  Divide the broth into 8 – 1 pint mason jars with lids. Freeze what ever you are not going to drink within one week.
Sarah Burchard is the author of The Healthy Locavore, a natural foods chef and certified health coach whose writing centers around holistic health, supporting community and eating locally grown and made food.