Palm Oil Harmful?

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Image: Global Trade

Coconut, palm and palm kernel oils are found in commercial cakes, cookies and snack foods. These tropical oils are solid at room temperature and contain a great deal of saturated fat: coconut oil, 92 percent, palm kernel oil, 82 percent and palm oil, 50 percent.

The American Heart Association recommends substantially reducing intake of saturated fat because it tends to raise cholesterol levels.¹ High blood cholesterol is a major risk factor for coronary heart disease (CHD)² and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) reports that more than 34 million adults in the U.S. have high cholesterol (over 240 mg/dL). Palm oil has long been known to promote heart disease, however there are other reasons to avoid products made with palm oil.

In Cruel Oil: How Palm Oil Harms Health, Rainforest, & Wildlife,³ the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) reports that production of palm oil also promotes the destruction of rainforests. More than 80 percent of the world’s palm oil comes from Malaysia and Indonesia, largely grown on land that was once rainforest. When forests are cleared the habitat for endangered species is destroyed, threatening orangutans and other wildlife. Continue reading “Palm Oil Harmful?”

The Skinny on Soy

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Soyfoods are hot – or not – depending on whom you believe. Soy, superstar of healthy alternatives, has been under attack. The Internet is a great resource for news and information about health and science and 87 percent of online users have researched a scientific topic at one time or another.¹ The Internet is also where sensationalistic claims based on half-truths and junk science, are legion.

There’s no denying that the mighty soybean is a nutrition powerhouse, containing high quality protein, complex carbohydrates and a virtual pharmacopeia of phytochemicals credited with the prevention of coronary heart disease, hypertension and many forms of cancer.²

Soyfoods’ appeal was once limited to the counter-culture. In recent years, interest in the health benefits of soy intensified in the research community and the popularity of soyfoods skyrocketed. Continue reading “The Skinny on Soy”

Grilled Fruit Sundaes

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Grilling fruit imparts a smoky intensity to the sweet juiciness of ripe summer fruit. Grilled Fruit Sundaes feature ripe chunks of pineapple, strawberries, bananas and apples over dairy-free strawberry ice cream and topped with Tosteds soynuts.

The fruit kebabs are rolled in Wholesome Sweeteners Fair Trade raw cane sugar from Malawi, a Demerara type sugar prized for its large sparkling crystals and rich aroma. You can grill fruit kebabs on a barbeque or pop them under the broiler.

Fruit makes a great dessert and contains lots of fiber and disease fighting antioxidants however; traditional dessert making can add unhealthy cholesterol, excessive fat and calories that overshadow the healthful benefits. Continue reading “Grilled Fruit Sundaes”

Freedom Gardeners: Homegrown Revolution

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In March of this year, First Lady Michelle Obama planted the first White House vegetable garden since the ‘Victory Garden’ days of Eleanor Roosevelt.

Edible landscaping is as old as Babylonia and has been cultivated throughout history, often gaining prominence in times of social or economic instability. This type of urban agriculture sprouted up in the 16th and 17th centuries in Europe where the potager or kitchen garden supplied vegetables, herbs and fruit.

In WWI they were called Liberty Gardens and subsequently became the Relief Gardens of the Great Depression era.

Freedom Gardens, a sort of a Facebook meets Farmer’s Almanac, is a social networking site for homegrown food enthusiasts that launched in May of 2008. Here, novice and expert growers from all over the world gather to post success stories, ask questions and share techniques and ideas that support self-sustained living. Continue reading “Freedom Gardeners: Homegrown Revolution”

Turmeric: Spice of Life

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In the Old World, where spices were valued for depth of flavor and prized for therapeutic properties, turmeric was called ‘The Spice of Life.’

Turmeric has flavored food and prevented spoilage for centuries, adding a characteristic golden hue and warm ginger flavor to dishes from Asia to the Middle East. Spices are cited repeatedly as a significant part of the ancients’ daily lives in Egyptian hieroglyphics recorded on the walls of the pyramids and in passages of the Old Testament.

There is evidence of cultivated spices, herbs and seeds long before recorded history and archeologists estimate that primitive man had discovered aromatic plants as early as 50,000 B.C. Continue reading “Turmeric: Spice of Life”

Quinoa: Super Grain with Environmental Benefits

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Elegant, delicious, and easy to digest, quinoa (keen-wa) is a small disk shaped seed that looks a lot like a sesame seed. Classified as a grain, quinoa is actually the seed of a leafy plant related to spinach.

Quinoa is simple to prepare and cooks in just 15 minutes to a light, fluffy consistency with a delicate, nut-like flavor. The germ is external and pulls away slightly when cooked, forming an attractive, delicate ring around the perimeter. Quinoa makes a lovely presentation and can be used in place of most other grains in any recipe.

Revered as sacred by the ancient Incas, quinoa has been recognized as a “superfood” because of its remarkable nutritional value. Like soybeans, quinoa is exceptionally high in lysine, an amino acid that is rare among vegetables. This versatile grain is high in protein, calcium and iron, a good source of phosphorous, vitamin E and several of the B vitamins. In addition to all this, quinoa tastes terrific! Continue reading “Quinoa: Super Grain with Environmental Benefits”

Shoppers Guide to Pesticides in Produce

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It’s probably not news to anyone that pesticides have been shown to have carcinogenic and other adverse health effects on humans and that organic produce is the best choice for people and for the planet.

Mounting evidence confirms that many commonly used pesticides can suppress the normal immune system response to invading bacteria, viruses, parasites and tumors.¹ The immune system is the body’s first line of defense and weakening its response can increase the incidence of disease.

A study by the National Cancer Institute identified pesticides as a likely cause of elevated rates of several forms of cancer among farmers². Farmers are at higher risk for certain cancers, such as non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, skin melanomas, multiple myeloma, leukemia, and cancers of the lip, stomach, prostate and brain. Exposures to a number of pesticides have been linked to non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, while exposure to insecticides has been associated with leukemia, multiple myeloma and brain cancer³. Continue reading “Shoppers Guide to Pesticides in Produce”

Chilled Asparagus with Creamy Dill Dressing

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Asparagus is a wonderful spring vegetable with tender fleshy spears that make a lovely distinctive presentation. Long known for its strong diuretic properties, the early Greeks used this delicately flavored vegetable for medicinal purposes, believing that it could prevent bee stings and ease toothaches.

In California, asparagus is picked as early as February, however the season is considered to run from April through May. In the East and Midwest, the growing season extends through the end of July.

Asparagus is very low in calories and sodium, a good source of fiber and an excellent source of natural antioxidants.¹ A cup of asparagus supplies 288 mg of potassium, which is important for brain function, muscle growth and a healthy nervous system. Continue reading “Chilled Asparagus with Creamy Dill Dressing”

Enlightened Tofu and Snow Peas

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Stir-frying involves quick cooking over high heat in a small amount of oil. Quick cooking in this manner preserves the flavor, color and texture of the food, and vegetables come out slightly crisp with all of their vitamins intact.

You can use a traditional Chinese wok or a heavy gauge 14” stir fry pan that has sloping sides of the typical wok.  A pan like this is similar in that the heat concentrates at the bottom of the pan, and the curved sides allow you to push the ingredients to the side. Stir-fry pans also have a long handle for easy maneuvering.

Stir-fry calls for oil with a high smoking point, such as corn or safflower and heating oil to the smoking point. Choosing a heavy gauge wok pan and there isn’t any need for such oils.

Olive oil is largely monounsaturated fat, which lowers the LDL (bad) cholesterol, Continue reading “Enlightened Tofu and Snow Peas”

Go for the Greens!

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Cultivated for more than two thousand years, kale is a nutritional powerhouse! This leafy green vegetable has more dietary value and fewer calories than just about any other vegetable.

One cup of cooked kale contains over 94mg of calcium and more than 1300 percent of the Daily Value of Vitamin K,¹ which has been linked to bone health and a reduced risk of bone fractures.

Kale is rich in vital magnesium, the mineral necessary to fully metabolize calcium, and contains a healthy mix of nutrients that promote strong bones. Kale contains considerable amounts of chlorophyll and is a very good source of Vitamins A and C, folic acid and iron.

Research has shown chlorophyll to be a powerful anti-carcinogen and Continue reading “Go for the Greens!”