Inflammation and How Gold Dust Might Help
Turmeric’s popularity has skyrocketed in the last few years, and for good reason - this Ginger family root can answer many a modern malady. Why is it so effective for such a large range of common complaints? Two words: PROLONGED INFLAMMATION.
In fact, prolonged inflammation is such a common source of pain and disease and it has been called “the root of all disease” in western medicine (1 in 3 Americans suffer from an inflammation-caused disease). There is some truth to this - but rather than simply treating inflammation on the spot, we are wise to look a bit deeper as to what is causing this prolonged inflammatory reaction.
But first, we have to define inflammation. Oftentimes, these health buzzwords get thrown around so much that we forget the meaning. Inflammation is simply our bodies response to some type of adverse stimuli such as an injury, infection, or general imbalance. The inflammatory response triggers our body’s immune system to kick into action and start the healing process. Inflammation is designed to treat acute/short-term issues. You cut yourself- a scab forms and mends the skin. You catch the flu- a fever comes and goes. Sometimes, however, when the body feels an onslaught of adverse effects, it is unable to return to homeostasis and the immune system stays turned on. Overtime, you can imagine that this majorly wears the system out.
Back in Roman times, Inflammation was defined by 5 characteristics: redness, aching, swelling, heat, (calor, dolor, rubor, tumor) and loss of function. Have you ever felt any of these in an injury? Sometimes, if an injury (internal or external) is unable to heal, the long-term affect is illness. And to be clear, an injury doesn’t have to be something as clear as breaking your leg. Injuries can look like lingering damage from a bad cold, knicks in your arteries from clunky blood, or most commonly these days - chronicaly inflamed guts from eating foods our body doesn’t understand how to digest. A few examples of inflammation induced diseases are: arthritis, asthma, cardiovascular disease, Crohn’s disease, diverticulitis, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, MS, and fibromyalgia.
The goal is to allow an inflammatory response to do its job. As soon as you see signs of inflammation, address them before chronic inflammation takes hold yielding much more complicated problems.
Apart from addressing diet and lifestyle factors, we have a favorite anti-inflammatory drink that is well-balanced and therefore pleasing to the majority of constitutions out there. We call it GOLD DUST and it features Turmeric, Eleuthero, Fenugreek, Maca, Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Cardamom, and Black Pepper.
How to Make the Perfect Cup of GOLD DUST
Here are a few of our favorite ways to enjoy this delightfully warm and sunny drink:
THE MILKY WAY- Gently heat 8-12 oz of your favorite milk in a saucepan. We like raw cow's milk, coconut milk, cashew milk, or hemp milk for this. You want the milk very hot but not simmering (if you overheat raw milk, it deactivates all the goodies inside). Meanwhile, add 1 tsp of Gold Dust to a mug. Pour the hot milk over the Gold Dust. Add 1/2 tsp maple syrup, honey or agave. Use a hand frother and froth to perfection (alternatively, mix it up in a blender). Top with a dollop of whipped heavy cream or coconut cream and a cinnamon sprinkle. Enjoy in place of coffee, as an afternoon pick-me-up or post-dinner dessert.
THE ATHLETE- Bring 8-12 oz of filtered water to a simmer in a saucepan. Meanwhile, add 1 tsp of Gold Dust to a mug. Cover with simmered water, 1 scoop collagen (coupon code #OCEANLOVE for 10% off!), 1 tsp coconut oil, coconut butter, or MCT oil. Use a hand frother and froth to perfection (alternatively, mix it up in a blender). Top with a pinch of cayenne and cinnamon. Enjoy after a workout or to nourish you on busy mornings.
THE COLD SHOULDER- Mix 2 tsp of Gold Dust and 1 tsp honey or maple syrup in ~1/4 c very hot filtered water until completely incorporated. Add 12 oz of your favorite cold milk (we like almond or coconut for this). Blend up with some ice and enjoy on a sunny day.
The Herbs In Gold Dust
The keto diet is buzzing right now, but what exactly does it mean, and is it for everyone?
Well, ketosis is pretty cool for a number of reasons. Whether you are aware of it or not, your body has likely entered ketosis from time to time.
We enter ketosis in 2 scenarios:
-when we deprive our bodies (almost completely) of glucose
-when we fast for ~12-15 hours
Ketosis isn't an all or nothing deal. We can be in mild or full-fledged ketosis, or not at all. When glucose isn't available as a result of one of the above scenarios, Ketones are created as an alternate fuel. At this point, some interesting things happen.
In even mild ketosis, our antioxidant production is ignited (up to 150 g antioxidants/day). Ketosis also stimulates the production of beta hydroxybutyrate, the ultimate source of fuel for mitochondria. These guys are the powerhouses of our cells and when they aren't firing correctly, you can expect disease to set in. Ketones help mitochondria produce ATP. By increasing ATP, ketones reduce the generation of free radicals, increase production of endogenous glutathione, and act as an anti-inflammatory agent.
Ketones also reduce inflammation and oxidation throughout the body but especially in the brain. This is because the brain rapidly takes up ketones, an easily digestible fuel source that is small enough to cross the blood brain barrier (the liver converts MCTs to ketones). If ketones are present even at low levels they increase cerebral blood flow as much as 40%. Studies have shown that increasing ketones is a great strategy to block ionizing radiation and for controlling tremors.
To maximize ketones:
-Reduce carbs. This doesn't have to look like cutting them out completely. In fact, having such a stark transition from a carby diet to none at all can cause some crazy symptoms like the carb flu, the keto rash, and other undesirable effects. Be gentle with your body and remember that it doesn't like extremes but rather thrives in moderation. We like to follow the diet recommended through the RESTART program, allowing for non-starchy vegetables and low sugar fruits while avoiding starchy carbs, refined sugars, grains, and processed foods (RESTART will be offered again in January 2020 Athens, GA peeps!)
-Use a form of intermittent fasting by eating in a 6-8 hour span. This could look like not eating after 7 pm and waiting until 11-noon to eat your first meal the next day. Use MCT oil, grass fed butter, coconut butter, or coconut oil in your coffee or tea to sustain you until your first meal
-make these keto muffins! Recipe below :)
6 large eggs
1/4 c olive or toasted sesame oil
½ cup tahini (on the runnier side is best-we love this kind)
1 c raw cashews
½ c raw pumpkin seeds
2 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
Sesame seeds and/or pumpkin seeds to garnish
Preheat oven to 350. Use butter and almond flour to grease and flour a muffin tin.
Add all ingredients listed in order to a food processor or high powered blender. Blend well until you have a completely smooth, creamy batter. You will likely need to scrape down the sides. Use a spatula to empty mixture into your lined loaf pan. It will be sticky! Wet your spatula and smooth out the top, or pick up the pan and drop it a few times on a hard table to even out the batter.
Top with sesame and flax seeds and put on middle rack in oven for 35 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes and then use overhanging parchment paper to transfer to marble slab or wire rack (you can also transfer to cutting board, it just won’t dry as quickly or evenly). When completely cool, you may slice and serve. I like to slice a piece as I need it and keep the whole loaf stored in the fridge in an airtight bag. Just make sure it is completely cooled before storing. It will last on counter for 3 days or in fridge for over a week, but you will eat it all before that time comes!
Soasted = soaked + toasted
It's about time we wrote about soasted nuts because it is a GAME CHANGER.
Here's the thing about nuts.
1. Nuts is a blanket term for a TON of different nuts, seeds, beans, and pseudo nuts that we clump together as one food category when in fact, they are all quite botanically unique. For example, certain brands will put cashews, almonds, and peanuts together and call it a "nut mix" when these 3 foods represent incredibly diverse plants- one is a tree, one is a bean, and one is an exterior seed (check out Cashew apples- pretty crazy!). This means that some "nuts" might work fine with you, but others might be very irritating. Many people have allergies or sensitivities to some "nuts" but not others (which is a dangerous situation when you buy these "nut mixes"). Many nuts are also high FODMAP which means it can cause digestive distress in some individuals.
2. "Nuts" contain a TON of potential energy. Remember, a little walnut was meant to become a massive walnut tree one day. Plus "nuts" have been pegged as the ultimate health food, making people much more likely to over-indulge in handfuls of these potent tree droppings because they are "healthy". This has a doubly deleterious effect: excessiveness in any form or fashion is the antithesis to health AND you are consuming a ton of potential energy that will eventually wreck havoc on your metabolism and digestive system.
3. Store bought typically come in two categories = raw and roasted. Sometimes the roasted nuts are "dry roasted", meaning no extra oils have been added. More often than not, these nuts are roasted in one of the following oils : soybean, cottonseed, canola, rapeseed, or sunflower. While these oils are called "vegetable oils" to entice us into thinking they are healthy, the truth is that these oils are incredibly sensitive and the modern factory processes we use to extract them are caustic and dangerous. Vegetable oils are pulled out of their protective covering (be it sunflowers, cotton or rape seeds) using intense solvents, exposing them to light and heat which they are very sensitive to (because they don't naturally occur free from their protective covering- for a gruesome analogy, think of how sensitive we would be to the light if we scrubbed away our protective skin). This means they are not only exposed to intense solvents, but they also go rancid quickly because of all the heat, light, and plastic exposure. These unsaturated fats are high in Omega 6s, an essential fatty acid that our world is already rampant with. We function best with an Omega 3:6 ratio of 1:1. The Average American is working with an inflammatory ratio of 1:20. You can improve your Omega ratio by avoiding nuts roasted in these rancid oils.
4. Raw nuts don't have the dangers of being roasted in rancid oils, but they do contain naturally occurring anti-nutrients. Anti-nutrients represent a variety of phytochemicals that plants produce to protect themselves from predation and degradation. Historically, our ancestors used gentle means to dissolve these anti-nutrients, like soaking and slow roasting (aka, SOASTING) their nuts for optimal nutrition and ease of digestion.
Step by Step Guide to Soast your Nuts
Get a quart-sized mason jar. Fill is 3/4 of the way full with your favorite raw nuts. Pecans, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, and brazil nuts are our favorite nuts to soast. Totally cover the nuts with filtered water and a hefty pinch of sea salt. Cover with a lid (but don't screw on the tight) and let sit on your countertop over night. In the morning. Strain off all the water. It will likely be a pale brown color. Give it another rinse with some more filtered water. Shake the nuts dry and spread evenly on a roasting pan. You can go the extra mile and drizzle with a few blobs of coconut oil, olive oil, or ghee and top with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. A bit of honey drizzle and turmeric is another lovely addition. Bake for 8-10 minutes at 350 F. Crank the heat down to 200 F and slow roast until the nuts are golden brown and smelling fragrant. This varies per nut variety but usually take anywhere from 25-55 minutes. Let cool completely before transferring back to an airtight mason jar, container, or bag. Store in the fridge or freezer for months! We have found these soasted nuts SO much more satisfying and tasty. They don't leave that heavy, dull tummy feeling we often get when eating raw or store-bought roasted nuts.
Developing a Healthy Relationship with the Sun
Sunscreen, sunblock, SPF, UVA, UVB… we’re all too familiar with these summer-time terms and yet they perplex us all the same. Is SPF 50 really that much better than SPF 45? And how do they calculate those numbers anyways? Why does it burn when I rub it into my face, and how often should I reapply?
Yes, we want to protect our skin from excessive exposure, but it is only natural to seek the sun after a winter filled with cold and clouds. And of course, most can’t deny the desire for that sun-kissed, summertime glow.
But that’s just it: sun-kissed has become equated to cancer-kissed in the modern world. We are scared to go outside and rightfully so: study after study confirm that the sun is determined to fry us to a crisp and turn all our skin cells against us. And now there’s all this talk of sunscreens actually causing cancer and destroying coral reefs.
Interestingly, even though there are more sunscreens and media coverage than ever before, cases of malignant melanoma are rising every year, representing a 200% increase from 1975 to 2013¹. How could this be if our awareness and product access is better than ever?
Well, the answer is complex, but here are some key points:
In a nutshell, UVA and UVB represent different wavelengths. UVB is highest around solar noon (11 am- 2 pm) and is critical for Vitamin D absorption. UVA rays are much more intense, seeping deeper into your skin cells and causing more free radical damage. UVA is also present all hours of the day whereas UVB is low in morning and afternoon 6.
While supplements exist and offer some benefit, the most efficient and effective way to absorb Vitamin D is through direct sun exposure- 15-25 minutes a day, especially during the sun-rich spring and summer months around noon (remember this is when beneficial UVB is at its highest!). The more skin exposed the better! Our body stores up Vitamin D during the warm months to use all year long. This partially explains why many of us come down with the flu or other viral and bacterial infections in the late winter months; our bodies Vitamin D stores have dropped to their lowest point. The darker your skin, the more time you will need in the sun. You can always get your Vitamin D levels checked- 40 ng/ml is minimum; 50-70 ng/ml is ideal 6. As a supplement during the dark days of winter, we like Bio-emulsified Vitamin D by Biotics.
Our Responsible Sun-lover TIPS
Prioritize your body’s largest organ this summer season. Practice responsible sun exposure, hydrate, eat right, protect, and rejoice the wonders of the sun!
1 Melanoma of the Skin - SEER Stat Fact Sheets. (2016). Seer.cancer.gov. Retrieved 30 May 2016
2 NTP Board of Scientific Counselors Report on Carcinogens Subcommittee Report on Carcinogens Background Document for Broad-Spectrum Ultraviolet (UV) Ra
3 Planta, M. (2011). Sunscreen and Melanoma: Is Our Prevention Message Correct?. The Journal Of The American Board Of Family Medicine, 24(6), 735-739.
4 Carina Storrs, S. (2016). Many sunscreens have lower SPF than labels claim. CNN. Retrieved 30 May 2019
5 NTP Board of Scientific Counselors Report on Carcinogens Subcommittee Report on Carcinogens Background Document for Broad-Spectrum Ultraviolet (UV) Ra
6 Mercola, J. (2011). Sun Can Actually Help Protect You Against Skin Cancer. Retrieved 3 May 2019
7. Grant, W. B., & Holick, M. F. (2005). Benefits and requirements of vitamin D for optimal health: a review. Altern Med Rev, 10(2), 94-111.
8. Coronado, M., De Haro, H., Deng, X., Rempel, M. A., Lavado, R., & Schlenk, D. (2008). Estrogenic activity and reproductive effects of the UV-filter oxybenzone (2-hydroxy-4-methoxyphenyl-methanone) in fish. Aquatic Toxicology, 90(3), 182-187.
9. Rosebrook, J. (2017) The Best Sunscreen - Understanding Zinc Oxide SPF And The Nutrient Day Cream. Retrieved 5 May 2018
10. EWG (2017).The Problem With Vitamin A, https://www.ewg.org/sunscreen/report/references/ Retrieved. 5 May, 2019
¾ c almond flour
½ c arrowroot starch
1 tbsp coconut flour
½ tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
Hefty pinch sea salt
¼ c melted unrefined coconut oil
2 tbsp maple syrup
2 tbsp molasses
Preheat oven to 350. Meanwhile, stir molasses, syrup, and melted coconut oil until evenly incorporated. In another bowl, mix all the dry ingredients. Slowly add the dry ingredients into the oil blend, mixing well. The dough should come together quite nicely.
Transfer the dough onto parchment paper about 8 in. long or onto a silpad. Both work. Wet your fingers (so dough doesn’t stick) and gently press out the dough until it’s about ¼-⅛ in thick (like a graham cracker!) and in a giant rectangle shape. Use a fork to pierce the dough like you see on store-bought graham crackers evenly throughout (this keeps the crackers especially flat and uniform). You can use a rolling pin or another piece of parchment paper to achieve this, but I find wet fingers works just fine.
Bake for 10-12 min until fragrant and golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool just a bit before using a knife to slice into graham cracker shapes. I like squares but sometimes do long pieces. Let cool completely before storing in freezer for weeks!
Add ½-1 c chocolate chips for chocolate chip graham crackers
Add 1 tbsp turmeric + pinch black pepper for golden grahams
Add 2 tbsp cacao + 1 tsp vanilla for chocolate graham crackers
Add 1 tbsp pysllium + 1 tbsp flax seed for fiber graham crackers
Top with toasted oats + chopped pecans for a nutty fix!
We love the convenience of store-bought, quality energy bars, but we loathe the packaging and often times high price.
That's why we created our own take on Rx Bars... HGRX Bars! Our bars cost a fraction to make and store beautifully. Plus, the have the added fiber of Psyllium Husk powder and flax meal.
Psyllium Husk is an incredibly effective soluble fiber brought to you by none other than Plantain, Plantago ovata. Soluble means it absorbs water as it passes through your colon, pulling out toxins, regulating your bowels, and normalizing constipation, diarrhea, blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels, and even helping with weight loss through metabolism support. Just be sure to drink lots of liquids when you increase your fiber intake because fiber with no liquids can have the opposite effect of backing of your bowels and causing discomfort.
HGRx Bar Recipe
1 c nut butter
⅓ c raw cashews
¼ c coconut oil
½ c toasted oatmeal (simply bring a pan to medium heat and toast until fragrant and golden)
½ c flax meal
1 c juicy dried, pitted dates (it is important that your dates aren’t super dried out and still have some fleshiness to them
3 tbsp psyllium husk (optional but excellent for added fiber)
2 tbsp molasses
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla
Hefty pinch of sea salt
½ c dark chocolate chips for topping
Line a 10 x 10 baking pan with parchment paper.
In a high-powered blender, mix all the ingredients except the chocolate chips. It works best to blend the first 5 ingredients first. Then add the dates, pulsing until they are mostly pulverized. Add the remaining ingredients and blend until mostly smooth. A few cashew or date chunks is a-okay.
Transfer all the dough onto the parchment paper with a spatula. Using wet fingers, press the dough evenly into the pan. Top with the chocolate chips, scattering them evening and gently pressing them into the dough. Freeze for 20 minutes and then slice. Store in an airtight container in the freezer or fridge for weeks.
No need for measuring cups and spoons- our wild weed pesto is as versatile as it is tasty. We encourage you to use your senses to make this tasty green dip rather than relying on exact measurements. There are two reasons for this:
Herb Girls' Wild Green-sto (Green Pesto)
Plants in the “wild” (or your backyard!) have more vitamins and minerals than those grown commercially and organically (though organically-grown crops are more nutrient-dense than commercial). This is because wild plants have to create all their own defenses since no one is looking after them and providing them nutrients and protection. Over time, we have selectively chosen those plants that are the juiciest and tastiest for cultivation, but in the process, we have bred out some of their wild medicine. For example, crabapples foraged in the wild aren’t as tasty as a Honeycrisp from the store, but they likely have way more phytonutrients (Check out Eating on the Wild Side by Jo Robinson for more information on this).
A simple way to ensure you are getting some wild plant power every day is to include some foraged plants in your daily life. This is very easy and tasty to do with a green-sto.
3 handfuls arugula or spinach
1-2 handfuls wild plants like violet leaves, nettle, dandelion leaves, yarrow, chickweed, young sassafras leaves, young hibiscus leaves, and/or young sourwood leaves
1/4 c tahini
1/3 c olive oil
1 handful pumpkin seeds
1 handful walnuts
1 tsp miso
1 squeeze dijon mustard
juice and zest of 1-2 lemons
½ c frozen peas (the sweetness really balances the bitterness of wild herbs)
Sea salt and crushed black pepper to taste
Add all ingredients to a blender/food processor and blend until smooth, adding more or less oil or lemon to get the right flavor profile. Store in bulk mason jars in the freezer or spoon into silicone ice cube trays for individual servings.
Adaptogens are all the rage these days, and it makes sense! We live in a chronically stressed world and adaptogens promise the ability to improve our stress-handling capacities. The only problem is this: we are using that same magic-bullet mentality with herbal adaptogens as we do with synthetic drugs. Got a headache? Take 2 tylenol. Mucusy? Take some mucinex. Stressed out? Take some Ashwaghanda!
There is some truth to this mentality: when we are hurting, we want to take action to resolve our issues. We crave a quick fix so we can get on with our busy lives. However, herbal medicine provides slow and steady solutions for long-term resolution. Herbal medicine practiced correctly promises ultimate alleviation from our maladies by seeking out the root of the problem.
There are over 20 known adaptogens, and while all of them do increase our adaptive energy, work on our nonspecific immunity, influence our HPA axis, and function amphoterically (balancing in nature), they all have different energetics.
Ashwaghanda (Withania somnifera, Solanaceae), for example, is an amazing adaptogen and incredibly popular these days (I find it on the shelves at TJ Maxx of all places!), but it is powerful and not for everyone. While herbs can be safe, herbs used improperly can hurt you. Ashwaghanda is a very yang plant, energetically. By yang, we mean that it generates outward energy, as opposed to yin plants, that are more building, nourishing, and moistening in nature. Ashwaghanda is warm, hot, and generates energy for work and endurance. This is why athletes love it so much. However, Ashwaghanda might be too much for the average American who is already living a yang-dominant life, meaning they are always on the go and always exerting energy. Ashwaghanda can also irritate hyperthyroid conditions, so you definitely want to stay away from this plant if you have any sort of high thyroid condition. Lastly, many people are sensitive to Nightshade plants, such as tomatoes, potatoes, and peppers. Ashwaghanda is a Nightshade, so avoid this adaptogen if you have Nightshade-induced inflammation.
For our fat balls, we balance the yang (think of the hot, drying outward energy of the sun as yang) power of Ashwaghanda with the gently nourishing yin (think of the cool, moistening inward energy of the moon as yin) power of Shatavari (Asparagus racemosus, Liliaceae), a lesser-known but equally amazing adaptogen. Shatavari is generally "safer" than Ashwaghanda for it doesn't directly influence the thyroid and it moistens and restores exhausted, dried out tissue. Our culture has enough outward, busy energy. Focusing on nourishing tissues by using more moistening Shatavari is a good practice for adaptogen use.
We infuse our fat balls with the carminative, calming nature of Cardamom (Eletarria cardamomum, Zingiberaceae) and increase the bioavailabilty of our adaptogen medicine by decocting the powdered roots in coconut butter and grass-fed butter before making the batter.
We hope you enjoy our recipe, and please leave your questions in the comment section below!
Balanced Yin-Yang Fat Balls
1/2 c Coconut oil, melted
1/4 c grassfed butter
1/4 c coconut butter
10 green cardamom pods (or 1 1/2 tsp cardamom powder)
1/3 c Shatavari powder
1 1/2 tbsp Ashwaghanda
3 tbsp Red Reishi powder
1 cup coconut shreds (toasted if you prefer this taste over raw)1/2 c almond butter
1 cup raw cashews, soaked and toasted
2 tsp cinnamon
3 medjool dates (pitted)
1/3 c. almond or coconut milk
pinch sea salt
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
2 tbsp cacao nibs
In a saucepan, heat up coconut oil, coconut butter, grass-fed butter, vanilla, cardamom + Ashwaghanda, Shatavari, and Red Reishi powders. Bring to a slight simmer, stirring often. Let slightly simmer for about 5 minutes or until the butter is fragrant (this a crucial step to fully decoct all the medicine from the adaptogens).
In a blender, pulse all the other ingredients except the milk, cacao nips and chocolate chips. Add the milk a little a time, scraping down the sides and processing until a sticky dough forms. Add the cooled, decocted adaptogen mixture. Transfer the mixture to a sealable container and refrigerate at least 2 hours (this makes it easier to form into balls later on). Once refridgerated, roll into 1" diameter balls, coating in cocoa powder, extra shatavari powder, or coconut shreds for a decorative touch. I like to sprinkle with a bit more sea salt. In an airtight container, keep in the refrigerator for up to 10 days or in the freezer for up to 2 months
Relearning Traditional Wisdom
I learned about soaking grains and nuts after college- a time when the bulk of my diet came from the cereal aisle or trail-mix bag. College was also a time I found myself perpetually bloated with painful cramping attacks, inconsistent bowel movements, and constant confusion about my digestive situation: How could this be? I was eating so healthy- all these whole grains, nuts, and veggies - so why am I in so much pain?
Fast forward a few years to my first time seeing a Nutritional Therapist Practitioner (NTP). Diagnosed with IBS at a very young age, I was quite familiar with the routine visit to the doctor. This experience, however, was unlike any other. It was the first time a health professional spent more than 15 minutes asking me questions about my actual diet and lifestyle. My NTP spent a whole hour engaging me in detective-like work, digging deeper into my relationship with food and self. With his thorough, thoughtful questions, he was cluing me into the obvious (but overlooked) truth that if we don’t talk about our problems, they will never go away.
My visits to my NTP inspired a whole new trajectory for my health journey. Whereas I had previously been hyper-focused on herbal medicine (which is pretty easy to do because healing plants are amazing!!!), I realized now that if I didn’t seriously address my diet, then all my herb allies could never live up to their potential, and nor would I! I decided to become an NTP myself, and with it, I have acquired a whole new library of research and techniques focusing on ancestral preparation of food, bio-individuality, and intuitive eating.
Which brings us to the main point of the article: SOAKING GRAINS AND SEEDS. This ancient technique has gotten lost in the hustle-bustle of modern life, but there is a growing wealth of science-driven information confirming traditional wisdom. In this article, I am just going to focus on a few main points and give you the full-proof recipe for QUINOA, but check my resources for further research.
What Are Anti-nutrients?
The name says it all: anti-nutrients are highly biologically active substances that impede the absorption of nutrients and micronutrients, interfering with optimal organ function. Interestingly, they are found in virtually all seeds, nuts, grains and legumes and serve as a sort of defense mechanism for the plant to combat predation. These substances protect the plant’s offspring from being consumed by causing digestive irritation to whoever is brave enough to eat them.
For example, a prominent class of anti-nutrients are called phytates. They inhibit minerals like Zinc, Iron, Calcium, Magnesium, Manganese, and Copper from being absorbed. A recent study of 36 common grain products confirmed consistently high phytate levels in processed cereal- and legume- based products (Roos et al, 2013). This study confirms the need for people to reduce processed food intake and increase properly prepared food at home. Quinoa’s main anti-nutrients- saponins and protease inhibitors (which impede digestion of proteins)- are concentrated on the outside of each kernel. When we slow-soak our quinoa before cooking and eating, we serve to breakdown this tough exterior.
But never fear, a ridiculously simple technique ensures the elimination of these anti-nutrients. Ancestral food prep takes a bit of forethought at first, but that is the most difficult part. Once you get into the habit of soaking your grains and nuts, it will become second nature. In fact, I have found that my transition into a more ancestral way of cooking/living has made me more organized and thoughtful. Ancestral wisdom in the kitchen gives you the skills to flawlessly meal plan and prep, eliminating food waste and falling into a natural rhythm with the seasons.
Perfectly Soaked Quinoa
1 cup quinoa
2 cups warm filtered water, divided
Splash apple cider vinegar
Sea salt, pepper and herbs to taste
A few tbsp olive oil or butter
First, give your dried quinoa a quick rinse. Then, combine all the ingredients in a jar and cap with a lid, reserving 1 c of the warm water. Let soak overnight at room temperature. 24 hours is ideal, but 12 will do.
The next day, pour the quinoa, water, and vinegar into a large bowl. Add another cup of warm water and stir. Foam will appear. Tilt the bowl all around while scooping off the foam. The foam is bitter and filled with anti-nutrients, so don’t skimp here. Scoop out the rinsed, de-foamed quinoa (I like to use a mini strainer as a spoon) and put in saucepan with 1 c filtered water and generous pinch sea salt. Cover and simmer until no water is left. (12-15 min). Add butter or olive oil and top with more sea salt, black pepper, and herbs. Store leftover in the refrigerator for several days.
Roos, N., Sørensen, J. C., Sørensen, H., Rasmussen, S. K., Briend, A., Yang, Z., & Huffman, S. L. (2013). Screening for anti‐nutritional compounds in complementary foods and food aid products for infants and young children. Maternal & child nutrition, 9, 47-71.
Creative commons, flickr. Michael T. (photo credit); allispossible.org.uk
We can't get enough of this bread... can we even call it bread? With no flour but all the delicious fluff, this bread offers the warm crusty satisfaction of a hearty sandwich loaf with none of the associated bloat, puffiness, inflammation, and blood sugar spikes. We love it toasted with a great glob of grass-fed butter and a sprinkling of sea salt.
6 large eggs
1/4 c olive or sesame oil
½ cup tahini (on the runnier side is best)
1 tablespoon coconut sugar or maple syrup
1 c raw cashews
½ c raw pumpkin seeds
2 tsp red wine vinegar
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
Sesame and/or flax seeds to garnish
Preheat oven to 350. Line a standard loaf pan with parchment paper, leaving enough hanging over the edge to pull out the bread when it’s ready.
Add all ingredients in listed order and blend well in blender or food processor - you want a completely smooth, creamy batter. You will likely need to scrape down the sides. Use a spatula to empty mixture into your lined loaf pan. It will be sticky! Wet your spatula and smooth out the top, or pick up the pan and drop it a few times on a hard table to even out the batter.
Top with sesame and flax seeds and put on middle rack in oven for 40-45 minutes. It is done when the top is golden brown and a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool for 10 minutes and then use overhanging parchment paper to transfer to marble slab or wire rack (you can also transfer to cutting board, it just won’t dry as quickly or evenly). When completely cool, you may slice and serve. I like to slice a piece as I need it and keep the whole loaf stored in the fridge in an airtight bag. Just make sure it is completely cooled before storing. It will last on counter for 3 days or in fridge for over a week, but you will eat it all before that time comes!
Eileen Schaeffer & Amy Wright
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