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November 2011

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This recipe is: Raw, gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, vegetarian and vegan.

This recipe is DELICIOUS! Feel free to make them in rammekins instead of tart tins. Also, these are very similar to the Raw Fruit Tart, but the cashew cream filling has a lighter consistency, since the cashews are soaked longer. Enjoy!

Notes

  • Recipe Yields: 4 servings
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Soak Time: Overnight
  • Freeze Time: A couple hours

Ingredients

Cashew Cream Ingredients:

  • 1 cup raw cashews
  • ¼ cup agave nectar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup filtered water

Walnut Crust Ingredients:

  • 1 cup walnut pieces
  • 2 medjool dates
  • ¼ tsp pink Himalayan salt (or sea salt, or no salt)
  • 1 heaped tsp coconut oil

Toppings:

  • handful of fresh blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, or any fruit of your choosing

Preparation

  1. Place the cashews in a bowl and cover with filtered water. Cover the bowl and allow to soak overnight.
  2. Place the walnuts and salt in a hand blender or food processor and blend. Add the dates (remember to remove the pits) and coconut oil and blend until a fine rubble is formed, scraping down the sides with spatula as you go.
  3. Evenly place the mixture into tart tins or rammekins (about 4), and create a cup-like shape. (The cream filling will sit within this cup. Place in the freezer for several hours.
  4. Drain and rinse the cashews, place in a food processor with a quarter cup of filtered water, the agave and vanilla extract and blend until completely smooth. Again, scrape down the sides using a spatula ensuring there are no bits in the mixture. Keep blending until it is super smooth, adding a little more water if necessary – not too much, remember you can always add more but you can never take away!
  5. Transfer the cream to a Tupperware dish and refrigerate for several hours.
  6. Remove the walnut cups from the freezer and allow to slightly thaw for a few minutes before running a knife around the edge (I found a butter knife works best) and carefully easing out each cup – the coconut oil will ensure they won’t stick to the muffin molds.
  7. Spoon several tablespoons of cashew cream into each cup and top with sliced kiwi and a few fresh blueberries – or any fruit of your choosing.

This recipe is: Gluten-free, dairy-free, nut-free, soy-free, vegetarian and vegan.

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. Brussel sprouts
  • 2 tbsp. Extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste (or garlic salt/pepper)
  • garlic (optional)

 

Preparation:

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. Trim the stem ends of the Brussels sprouts and pull off any yellow outer leaves. Halve each sprout lengthwise, then put in a large bowl for mixing.
  3. Drizzle the the olive oil over the sprouts, mix, and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  4. Transfer sprouts to a rimmed baking sheet and roast, stirring once or twice, until deep golden brown, crisp outside and tender inside, 30 to 35 minutes.
  5. The leaves that are loose will be especially brown and crispy, and are absolutely delicious if you ask me!
  6. Transfer sprouts to a serving bowl and enjoy!

No, I didn’t forget “The Good” in the title. There’s no “good”, bad and ugly here. Just bad and ugly.

If you follow me on twitter, you’ve probably noticed that I’ve devoted this week’s tweets to GMOs. These sneaky little things are everywhere, plenty of them in your body by now, thanks to our government. However, this post is not about my frustration with the government and their lack of compassion for human beings, it is about GMOs. So here we go…

GMOs, or genetically modified organisms, are organisms whose genetic material has been altered using genetic engineering techniques. These techniques, generally known as recombinant DNA technology, use DNA molecules from different sources, which are combined into one molecule to create a new set of genes. This DNA is transferred into an organism, giving it modified or novel genes. Transgenic organisms, a subset of GMOs, are organisms which have inserted DNA that originated in a different species. In layman’s terms, it takes the genes of one species, and inserts them into another, resulting in something that would never be found in nature. Sounds weird, huh? Well, it is weird. Weird and completely unnatural, to say the least. Although genetic modification isn’t limited to food, that’s what I’ll be discussing below. I could go on forever, really. I mean, they’ve even genetically modified fish for goodness sake! Those poor fish!

GMOs, also known as GEOs (genetically engineered organisms), GM (genetically modified) or GE (genetically engineered) are everywhere in the United States. Unfortunately, it is very difficult to know what food has or has not been modified, since there are no laws in the U.S. requiring companies to disclose this information to consumers. Unless you are eating organic, it’s likely your food has been modified in a lab. Are you hungry yet? Keep reading.

Why genetically modify food? There’s plenty of reasons, but they all revolve around money. These big biotech companies want to make more money, no matter the harm they may cause along the way. Here’s an example: You’re a biotech company (an evil one), and you’re concerned you’ll lose crops of tomatoes to frost. If you lose tomatoes, you lose money. Oh no! What shall we do? Let’s genetically modify our tomatoes to ensure they will be protected against frost! It’s a no-brainer! We’ll take the genes from an arctic flounder with “antifreeze properties”, and splice them into a tomato to prevent frost damage! Done and done! And that’s exactly what happens. Did I forget to mention the testing phase that these new tomatoes undergo to prove their safe to eat? Nope, I didn’t forget. It doesn’t happen. There are no tests done to prove that these tomatoes are now safe to eat, there are no labels or warnings to consumers that their lovely little tomatoes have undergone genetic mutations, nothing. You buy it, you serve it to your children, everyone eats it, and then… well, who knows really.

This is in no way a precise process. It is impossible to guide the insertion of the new gene, therefore resulting in unpredictable effects. Also, genes do not work in isolation but in highly complex relationships which are not understood. Any change to the DNA at any point will affect it throughout its length in ways scientists cannot predict. GMOs contaminate existing seeds with their altered material, passing on modified traits to non-target species. This creates a new strain of plant that was never intended in the laboratory.

In 1989 there was an outbreak of a new disease in the U.S., contracted by over 5,000 people and traced back to a batch of L-tryptophan food supplement produced with GM bacteria. Even though it contained less than 0.1% of a highly toxic compound, 37 people died and 1,500 were left with permanent disabilities. More may have died, but the American Centre for Disease Control stopped counting in 1991. (5) Thanks CDC, that was nice of you.

There are plenty of reports of genetic modifications gone wrong, but overall human health effects of these GM products include higher risks of toxicity, allergenicity, antibiotic resistance, immune suppression and cancer. Environmentally, we’re looking at uncontrolled biological pollution which threatens numerous microbial, plant and animal species with extinction and the potential contamination of all non-genetically engineered life forms. (6)

Want some more proof that GMOs are bad? Okay, I have some more:

  • The organs of rats who ate genetically modified potatoes showed signs of chronic wasting, and female rates fed a diet of herbicide-resistant soybeans gave birth to stunted and sterile pups.
  • Monarch butterflies have also died after their favorite food, milkweed, was cross-pollinated from Bt corn which rendered it toxic to the endangered species.
  • In Japan, a modified bacteria created a new amino acid not found in nature; it was used in protein drinks and before it was recalled it cause severe mental and metabolic damage to hundreds as well as several deaths. Japan banned GMOs after this horrific experience.
  • In North Dakota, recent studies show that 80% of wild canola plants tested contained at least one transgene.

It is estimated that 70% of all grocery items in the United States contain genetically modified organisms, or GMOs. Despite countless warnings from scientists and doctors, these foods are not regulated at all by the government, and therefore it has been next to impossible for the average consumer to know exactly what he or she’s been eating. Why aren’t they labeled? I don’t know, because the government is trying to kill us? Government regulations on labeling exclude 95-98 percent of the products containing GM ingredients because they ignore derivatives. Numerous countries have already banned GMOs, including the European Union, Australia, Japan, the UK and two dozen other countries, which that recognize that a lack of long term studies and testing may be hiding disastrous health defects. Maybe one day the U.S. will get on board. Or… maybe not. Maybe it’s up to us to protect ourselves.

Here are some GM foods that you are probably eating:

  • GM soya is in about 60 percent of all processed food as vegetable oil, soya flour, lecithin and soya protein.
  • GM maize is in about 50 percent of processed foods as corn, corn starch, cornflour and corn syrup.
  • GM tomato puree is sold in some supermarkets and GM enzymes are used throughout the food processing industry.

The only way to avoid GM food is to buy and eat organic, since organic food cannot contain any GMOs. Even then, there have been some reports of crops being accidentally contaminated with GM crops. But, do what you can to protect yourself. There is no testing being done to ensure the safety of GM food products, and as you can tell from what you’ve just read, it doesn’t look like they’ll be deemed “safe” anytime soon. Buy foods labeled with “organic”, “100% organic” or “made with organic ingredients.” Even if it says “made with organic ingredients”, that means only 70% of the ingredients are required to be organic, but 100% must be non-GMO. Companies many times voluntarily label their products as “non-GMO” or “made without genetically modified ingredients.” Also, avoid “At Risk” ingredients such as corn, soybeans, canola and cottonseed, which are commonly used in processed foods. Currently, up to 85% of U.S. corn, 91% of soybeans and 88% of cotton are genetically modified.

 At Risk Ingredients Broken Down:

  • Corn: Corn flour, meal, oil, starch, gluten and syrup. Sweeteners such as fructose, dextrose and glucosen. Modified food starch.
  • Soy: Soy flour, lecithin, protein, isolate and isoflavonen. Vegetable oil and vegetable protein.
  • Canola: Canola oil
  • Cotton: Cottonseed oil

There’s a free app that I recently downloaded which allows shoppers to quickly and easily identify grocery items that contain GM ingredients. It was developed by The Center for Food Safety, and it is called the True Food Shoppers Guide. Download it to your smartphone and find more information on GM food, how to protect yourself, etc.

I know some of these posts contain pretty scary stuff, and at times you may find yourself overwhelmed. Maybe you started eating healthier, you’re all excited and then you read this post and wonder “what is the point?” It’s easy and very common to feel this way. You finally start to feel like you’re making informed decisions, then the next thing you know you have conflicting information, and you feel like you’ll never get it right. Just realize that this is a completely normal thought process, and that you are not alone with this thinking. Realize that the world is always evolving. What we know today will be old news tomorrow. The only thing you can do is to try to keep yourself as informed as possible. This blog is an attempt at doing just that. I’m not a doctor, I’m not a scientist, but I’m determined to arm myself with as much correct information as possible in regards to my health, and of course, to my readers. Remember, even if this new information is frustrating at times, you know more today than you did yesterday, and will therefore be able to make better decisions regarding your health. Take peace in knowing that you are better armed today than you were yesterday, and start to think about last week, last month and last year. Chances are good you’ve come a long way. Be proud of yourself.

Peace, love and organic food,

Melissa

I completed the 21 days of the CLEAN Program a week ago now. For the first two days “post CLEAN”, I decided that wheat would be the first allergen that I would reintroduce into my diet. Unfortunately, on Day 3, I started to come down with a sinus infection. Ugh! All that hard work! Could it be that I actually have a serious wheat allergy? Or is this just bad timing since the seasons are changing, and in our area the temperature swings are +30 degrees in an hour? It’s so hard to say! However, I was determined not to let my 3 weeks of hard work go to waste. Since I couldn’t really tell if wheat gave me any side effects or if it’s just the changing of the weather that is affecting me, I have actually had to continue CLEAN for another week, throughout the sinus infection. I need to be able to introduce one allergen at a time, in order to figure out which trigger symptoms in my body. Unfortunately, I can’t begin this process until this infection is completely gone, after all, you can’t tell if something clogs your sinuses when they’re clogged from the get-go, so it looks like I will be on CLEAN for at least 4.5 weeks before I get to introduce these allergens!

Not only have I resumed CLEAN without interruption, but I actually cut carbs/sugars for a few days in order to starve the bad bacteria in my body. So it has been a ton of veggies for me! I’ve also heeded my chiropractor/muscle activation therapist’s advice, and started taking colloidal silver, olive leaf extract, zinc, garlic, etc. I’ve kept up my probiotics and of course, lots of apple cider vinegar to thin that mucous! Add in copious amounts of rest, lots of water and decaffeinated green tea, and four days later… I’m starting to feel better! I refused to go to the doctor for this, and it’s been tough. Had I gone, I know they would have given me antibiotics and I would probably be running around by now, but the damage I would have done to my lovely clean system I’ve built, would have been devastating to me. So I’ve toughed it out. After all, the purpose of CLEAN is to “restore the body’s natural ability to heal itself.” So I feel like this is the ultimate test! The timing is so ironic. I JUST finished this program. Now let’s see if my body can heal itself! It’s required SO much rest, I am so tired of my couch, but on the bright side, it did force me to complete the online Defensive Driving class I’ve been putting off for long enough now!

I hope to be able to update you next week with reports on the allergen introductions. But first, let’s get these sinuses cleared up! Off to bed I go!

I just completed 21 days of the CLEAN Program. Wow. That was tough, and wonderful, all at the same time. For those of you that aren’t familiar with CLEAN, it is a program created by Dr. Alejandro Junger, to “restore the body’s natural ability to heal itself.” But it does much more than that. By removing common allergens from your diet for 21 days, you give your body a chance to reset. When 21 days are over, you slowly add those allergens back into your diet, one at a time, with several days in between. Doing this allows you to truly pinpoint which of these allergens effect you personally. This method is actually much more accurate, not to mention less expensive, than typical laboratory/blood allergy tests.

So after 21 days of eating a completely CLEAN diet, I will start by adding wheat back in first. Part of me wants to go crazy and eat wheat all day long, but apparently that’s not necessary. The book makes it clear that just a little bit of wheat will do. Apparently after 3 weeks of eating CLEAN, it won’t take much to notice if you have a sensitivity or not. Now I’m nervous…

Clean book by Dr. JungerThis is the second time I’ve gone through the CLEAN program, but the first time I’ve done it completely and correctly. I started the last time too soon, I hadn’t read enough information and was accidentally eating some of the allergens that were supposed to be eliminated. So this time, I made sure to gather all the information prior to starting. Day 3 was probably the best, at the start of the program. I had so much energy, I was on top of the world. Excited about what was to come and the benefits I would receive, I was going, full force ahead. I started to break out a bit as these toxins were released, but all in all, that first week was great.

Then came the second week. Dun, dun, dun. Things started to get a little tougher. My thoughts switched from “This is awesome, I should do this more often” to “What in the world was I thinking?” Since I eat a pretty clean diet regularly, I felt that I could easily justify quitting early, since I’m “pretty healthy.” However, I started to think about how crappy I was feeling, and that is what really made me realize that I needed to see this through. If I was THAT healthy… this wouldn’t be affecting me as it was. So… on I went.

Days 11-16 were the worst. I had no energy, I would sleep for 12 hours at night and it still didn’t seem like it was enough, had terrible nightmares (many including food), my otherwise awesome drive, motivation, focus and productivity was lacking, I didn’t feel like myself and I was HUNGRY. Like, really, really, hungry. Thankfully I had been tweeting and facebooking about my CLEAN journey, and EVERY SINGLE tweet or post that I made was responded to by at least one member of the CLEAN team. I cannot say enough wonderful things about these people, they are amazing. They truly care about your journey, well-being and outcome, and they are so supportive and responsive. I wasn’t even asking them questions… just posting things like “Gosh, Day 12 sucks…” and they would respond with “You’re doing great, hang in there, this is where the magic happens” kind of thing. It was so uplifting. I didn’t realize it at the beginning, but I realize now how much I really did need their help and support. They pointed me to their web community, where you create a free profile and log your journey, ask questions, join forums, talk to other members, etc., and that was amazing as well. Just when you think you’re the only person struggling or experiencing one side effect or another, you jump online and see that you are most definitely not alone. Hundreds if not thousands of other people are there to help you through it, as they are going through the same things. It’s also interesting to talk to people at different phases of the program. That was helpful, knowing that there was a light at the end of the tunnel.