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Archive for April 2012

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Precious Pesto

“And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which [is] upon the face of all the earth...to you it shall be for meat.”
Genesis 1:29 (KJV)

Pesto is such a wonderful way to enjoy the taste of spring.  It is so versatile and can be incorporated into a wide variety of meals with meats, fish, eggs, chips, pasta, vegetables, crackers, bread, soups, mashed potatoes or mixed in with avocado for a dip.  Most people are familiar with the delicious basil pesto that Italians put on pasta.  But, did you know that you can make pesto out of any combination of herbs and spices?  In an effort to expand the quantity and variety of herbs in my diet, I have compiled a variety of unusual pesto recipes.

Surprisingly, some of the edible greens which have the highest nutritional profiles are actually considered “weeds”.  Unfortunately, a great deal of money is spent (as well as toxic chemicals sprayed) to eradicate them when we could just eat them.  The recipes that follow contain just a few of the “herbs bearing seed which are upon the face of the earth.”  Hopefully, you can relax about fighting them in your yard and start feeding them to your family instead.  Just make sure these plants are growing in an area not near a road that hasn’t been sprayed with any pesticides or pooped on by a pet.1

Last fall I identified some common edible weeds in various places in my yard and when they went to seed, I gathered them and sprinkled them right in a garden bed that I didn’t want to plant this year.  Now I have a no effort crop of these tasty edible “weeds” right at my fingertips.  For those of you reading who are not as brave or just too busy to explore your yard for potential food, the first recipe I share uses common cilantro that’s usually well stocked on grocery store shelves.

This recipe is near and dear to my heart, since I have been using it medicinally on my son that has recently tested high for mercury.  At the same time we became aware of lead paint hazards in our home (built in the 1930's) that he was playing near and his doctor suspected had become a toxic exposure for him.  Heavy metal poisoning can cause hormonal imbalances, cancer, thyroid problems, neurological disturbances, learning problems, depression, food allergies, parasites and skin problems.  My sweet, tender-hearted little boy started to become very moody, easily upset and experienced digestive issues, trouble with learning and poor memory.  If you are dealing with behavioral issues with your child, despite a loving home and practicing biblical training, you should consider heavy metal toxicity (particularly mercury and lead) to be a possible significant factor.  Studies have shown a significant link between elevated blood lead levels in children and future crime arrests. (www.naturalnews.com)

Luckily, cilantro, or chinese parsley, is a potent metal detoxifier.  It can help with the excretion of mercury, lead, and aluminum from even the central nervous sytem in the body.  Combined with the benefits of the other ingredients in the following recipe, this delicious food is a powerful tissue cleanser.  The suggested dose of 2-3 teaspoons a day for two weeks is purportedly enough to increase the urinary excretion of mercury, lead, and aluminum, thus effectively removing these toxic metals from our bodies.  Now that’s some good medicine.  Thankfully, my son is doing much better since we started giving him cilantro and some other natural supplements.

Cilantro Pesto

2 cups fresh cilantro including stems (vitamin A)
2/3 cup flaxseed oil (sold in dark refrigerated bottle)
4 cloves garlic
1/2 cup almonds or cashews
1/2 cup Brazil nuts (selenium)
1/2 cup sunflower seeds (cysteine)
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds (zinc, magnesium)
4 tablespoons lemon juice (vitamin C)

2 tsp nutritional yeast (for dairy free option) or 1/2 cup parmesean cheese
2 tsp dulse or seaweed (like kelp)
1 tsp ginger
2 tsp algae (like broken cell chlorella)
Sea salt to taste

Cilantro PestoPulse the cilantro and flaxseed oil in a blender or food processor for 1 minute.  Add the garlic, nuts and seeds, dulse, algae and lemon juice and mix until the mixture is finely blended into a paste.  Add a pinch of sea salt to taste and blend again.  Store in dark glass jars if possible.  It freezes well, so you can purchase cilantro in season and fill enough jars to last through the year.  (naturalfarmacy.com)

 

Chickweed Pesto

Chickweed is high in vitamin C, calcium, and iron as well as many other important minerals.  It is also very nourishing for the lungs.  Eating chickweed thins the membranes of your cells so that nutrients are more readily absorbed and utilized.  Chickweed can also be used topically for skin eruptions, hemorrhoids, cuts, wounds, burns, etc.. (www.learningherbs.com)

Ingredients:
2 packed cups chopped fresh chickweed
½ cup olive oil
2 cloves of garlic
3 Tablespoons of pine nuts or sunflower seeds
½ cup Parmesan cheese
¼ tsp. salt

Process in a blender or food processor as described above in the cilantro pesto recipe.

Purslane Pesto

Purslane was reportedly Gahndi’s favorite food.  It looks a lot like a succulent houseplant but generally is classified as a weed.  Purslane's thick leaves taste pleasantly grassy and slightly bitter.  Purslane has more beta-carotene than spinach, alpha linolenic acid (a type of omega-3 fatty acid) as well as high levels of magnesium and potassium.  Historically it has been used as a remedy for arthritis and inflammation by European cultures and in respiratory and circulatory function by Chinese herbalists. (chubbyvegetarian.blogspot.com)

Ingredients:
1 bunch of purslane, stems removed
1/4 cup olive oil
2/3 cup walnuts
juice from half a lemon
2 tsp. honey
sea salt and pepper to taste

Process in a blender or food processor as described above in the cilantro pesto recipe.

Lambsquarter Pesto

Lambsquarter is also known as wild spinach, goosefoot or pigweed.  It tastes like spinach but is even more nutritious.  It is a good source of niacin, folate, iron, magnesium and phosphorus, and a very good source of fiber, protein, vitamin A, vitamin C, Thiamin, riboflavin, vitamin B6, calcium, potassium, copper and manganese. (nutritiondata.self.com)

Ingredients:
2 cups fresh lambsquarters leaves (stems removed)
2 cups fresh basil or wild arugula leaves
1/2 cup cold pressed extra virgin olive oil
2 T fresh garlic
1/2 lemon, juiced
1/2 cup pine nuts or pecans
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast (optional)

Process in a blender or food processor as described above in the cilantro pesto recipe.

I recently learned an amazing story about Anne Wigmore, the famous naturopathic doctor and founder of the Hippocrates Health Institute.  She championed the health benefits of wheatgrass and other green juices and is the reason you see those beautiful trays of green grass at juice/smoothie bars and health food stores everywhere today.  Well, her inspiration for educating people of the benefits of these types of juices came from her experience as a child in Lithuania during World War I.  She was abandoned by her parents, in the midst of a bloody warfare in her village.  Food was hard to find because soldiers looted gardens and farms.  She and her grandmother survived for two years mostly by consuming weeds and grasses.  She finally escaped to the U.S. and found work in a bakery, where she eagerly consumed the baked delicacies.  Her health diminished greatly on that diet and so she returned to what she had learned years before using herbs to completely heal herself of colon cancer.  Wow to the wonderful power of herbs...and that’s just a small demonstration in the natural world of God’s big power.  How much greater is “His power toward us who believe?2

1 You should always consult an herb identification guide and/or an experienced herbalist before eating foraged plants that are new to you.

2 Ephesians 1:17-21

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True Bread and Living Water

If you haven’t already discovered my site, this is a health blog all about improving quality of life through food choices.  Well, I’m going to start by telling you good food and clean water is not enough.  I’m sorry to disappoint you, but even the most perfect nutritional regimen and cleanest water is not enough to produce the kind of life and vitality God intended for man.  What man really needs is “true bread and living water,” the real recipe for life.  The Bible explains how to get them both.

In the beginning of John Chapter 6, a great multitude of people began following Jesus because they witnessed miracles of healing he performed on those with diseases.  The crowd had traveled so long to hear him speak that Jesus thought to feed them and asked his disciples where they could get food.  All they could muster up was 5 barley loaves and two small fish, enough for maybe 2 or 3 people at the most.  But by the power of God it was miraculously transformed into enough to feed thousands with 12 baskets of left-overs to spare.  After retreating on the sea of Galilee, the crowds sought him again on the other side and he said

John 6:26-27

...Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled.

Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed.

Their response to this was to ask Jesus for another sign so they could believe in him, a sign like the one Moses performed in the Old Testment record of Manna (divine bread) being given to the people of Isreal in the wilderness.

John 6:32-35

Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven; but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven.

For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world.

Then said they unto him, Lord, evermore give us this bread.

And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.

The people were only interested in Jesus because he filled their bellies.  Jesus pointed them away from the here and now and offered them something eternal, security for their future, on earth and beyond.

John 6:40

And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.

It’s God’s will for people to have eternal spiritual life, not only physical life.  A healthy physical life is still incomplete without spiritual life from God.  

John 6:47-51

Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life.

I am that bread of life.

Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead.

This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die.

I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.

In the last verse, Jesus says that the bread he will give for the life of the world is his flesh.  Not long after that he, this perfect Son of God was tortured and executed as an innocent man.  His death paid the penalty for the sin of an ungrateful world in order to provide forgiveness, reconciliation with God and eternal life for those who would recieve it.  He gave his flesh and Jesus is asking people to “eat” him.  It sounds pretty crazy and if you read the rest of the record you’ll see that it upset quite a few of his followers.  Good thing his disciples understood he was speaking figuratively, or else the last supper would have looked more like a cannibalistic tribal ceremony instead of a farewell dinner.  When you eat something you take it into your body to utilize it for nourishment, growth and/or comfort.  Jesus Christ can be all of that for us, meeting our physical, spiritual and emotional needs.  You have probably heard the expression “You are what you eat.”  Well, we can feast on Jesus until we become like him.  

You would think that after following Jesus so far and watching him perform so many miracles that his disciples wouldn’t be so quick to leave him.  But this teaching was a little to much for them...all they wanted was some more of the old bread.

John 6:66-69

From that [time] many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him.

Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away?

Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life.

And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God.

What would you answer Jesus?  Will you also go away or will you be like Peter and say, “to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life.  And we believe and are sure that thou art the son of the living God.”

So what else could we possibly need with “the living bread”?  Well, how about some “living water” to wash it down.  Jesus is offering that on the menu as well.  In John, chapter 4, there is a story of a Samaritan women who met Jesus at the well.  He asks her for some water and she questions why he is asking her, since she is a Samaritan and he is a Jew. (Those two people groups were enemies at the time.)

John 4:10-11; 13-14

Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water.

The woman saith unto him, Sir, thou hast nothing to draw with, and the well is deep: from whence then hast thou that living water?...

Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again:

But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.

That’s pretty cool.  Instead of having to search for outside sources of water, Jesus offers us an inside source that is always pure and never dries up, but just keeps springing up into eternal life.  What do we have to do to get it?  Just ask.  It is the gift of God.

So what is true bread and living water?  It’s fellowship with Jesus Christ and the indwelling of the gift of holy spirit.  How do you get it?  Well in the words of Jesus, “...he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.”  So come to him (read the gospel and New Testament Bible records to learn all about him, seek friends who know him already, leave behind the things that would keep you from him, and pray to know him better) and then...believe in him.  Trust who he said he was, what he said he did for us and what he promises to come.  That’s it...it’s so simple...but it is the beginning of a new life.  Once you’ve tasted this recipe for life you’ll want to share it with others.  Why go through life with standard fare when you can have the full meal deal with Christ?  With out him, you’ll only be hungering and thirsting for more.  

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