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Archive for June 2012

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How to Get Cheap Clean Fish

Fish was and still is a common food in the bible lands, one that Jesus ate with his disciples on numerous ocassions, even in his resurrected body.  It was the main course of the meal that Jesus miraculously multiplied to feed thousands of people on two occasions.  He even refered to it as a “good gift” to give your children when they ask for something to eat.  (Matthew 7:10-11)

Sadly, though, it is an unforetunate fact that our waters, particularly lakes and rivers, are becoming more and more polluted and so is our fish supply.  I grew up on river fish that my Dad would catch fresh for our family and I remember loving it.  We even used to eat the catfish (not in the category of clean fish described in the Bible) which are bottom feeders and scavengers.  I remember we stopped that when an article had come out about how drug dealers had dumped their drugs in the Potomac River to avoid being caught and then the drugs started showing up in the catfish...yikes. 

The bummer of it all is that fish is such an excellent brain food.  It is a great source of easily digestible protien, minerals (notably iron, zinc, magnesium, and phosphorus), vitamins (especially A and D), and omega-3 essential fatty acids (EPA and DHA).  Also, fish has been shown to be an important part of the diet of many long-lived peoples around the world.  However, because of polluted waters, many fish are contaminated with dangerous levels of mercury, lead, PCBs, BPA and other contaminants.  Even before chemical pollution was a problem, God gave His chosen people dietary guidelines about what seafoods were good to eat. 

Deuteronomy 14:9-10:
These ye shall eat of all that are in the waters: all that have fins and scales shall ye eat. And whatsoever hath not fins and scales ye may not eat; it is unclean unto you.

Today, scientists have discovered that fish with fins and scales have digestive systems that reduce the absorption of poisons and toxins from their enviornment into their flesh.  The safest fish for consumption are wild caught deep sea fish with fins and scales.  If you know the water quality of a fresh water source near you is good (by testing), then by all means enjoy fresh caught fish from it.  For those who don’t have access to good fishing sites, I have compiled a list of commonly available ocean fish that are biblically specified “clean” and shown to have low or moderate amounts of mercury.

Lowest Levels of Mercury

(Recommended 2-3 servings per week
or no more than 2 for pregnant
women and children
)

Moderate Levels of Mercury

(Recommended no more than 6 servings
per month or 3 orless for
pregnant women and children)

Anchovies
Butterfish
Croaker (Atlantic)
Flounder
Haddock (Atlantic)
Hake
Herring
Mackerel (N. Atlantic, Chub)
Mullet
Perch (Ocean)
Pollock
Salmon
Sardine
Shad (American)
Sole/Turbot (Pacific)
Whitefish
Whiting

Bass (Striped, Black)
Carp
Cod (Alaskan)
Croaker (White Pacific)
Halibut (Atlantic)
Halibut (Pacific)
Jacksmelt (Silverside)
Mahi Mahi
Sablefish
Sea Trout (Weakfish)
Snapper
Tuna (Canned Chunk Light)
Tuna (Skipjack)

 

If you’re land locked like me, finding good quality fish is very difficult.  Most fish available in the store is farm raised (like Talapia).  Farm raised fish are commonly fed unnatural diets of GMOs (genetically modified organisms) and are notoriously contaminated with antibiotics, unnatural hormones and synthetic dyes.  There are only two seafood markets in my area that fly in fresh ocean fish.  When I went to check out what they sold I had sticker shock!  Almost nothing was less that $15.99/lb (most were over $20) and that included the farm raised fish.

So what’s a single income family of five (all boys I might add) to do?  Well, we could just not eat fish OR you can eat the scraps:)  What?  Eat the scraps?  Yes.  I bought 5 pounds of halibut carcase (fins, bones and head) for only $1.30/lb (some places will just give it to you for free).  Then, I put half of it in my large crockpot with onions, wine and herbs and the other in my freezer for another meal.  I was able to pick out enough tender peices of fish after simmering the stock overnight to make an entire meal the next day with extra stock reserved in the freezer for future use.  Fish stock is amazingly healthful and loaded with minerals (like iodine) in which many people are deficient.  Many recommend supplementing with seaweed to get these ocean minerals, but the problem of pollution is the same with seaweed, except that they are more vunerable to contamination because they don’t have detoxification systems like fish.

Just to warn you, your whole house will smell like fish when you make the stock.  So maybe wait for a day when you can air the house out if that bothers you.  Amazingly, once the stock is boiled down it rarely has a fishy flavor.  In fact, it can be used to cook grains like quinoa or rice with almost no discernable impact to its flavor if you use them in a salad or with other herbs.  It’s an easy, inexpensive and resourceful way to get minerals like iodine, zinc, magnesium and phosphorus, fat soluable vitamins A and D, and omega 3 fatty acids into your diet.

Look at all the fish I got off of just half a halibut carcase.  Then I added lots of veggies and some dressing to make fish salad.  My boys enjoyed wrapping thier “tacos” in iceberg lettuce leaves.  It was delicious!  So many times I have bought frozen fish only to be greatly disappointed by its rubbery texture and strong fishy flavor.

But this fish was mild, buttery and tender, just like I remember fresh fish growing up.  Still concerned about mercury?  If you read my last post you’ll remember that cilantro is a potent mercury detoxifier and it just so happens that it tastes wonderful with fish.  Amazing, huh?  Maybe God designed it that way:)

Here’s the Quick and Easy Halibut Salad recipe I used from Healing Naturally by Bee (www.healingnaturallybybee.com/recipes) © Copyright 2004 Susan Vanamburgh-Garth (www.thenaturalkitchen@yahoo.com).  This recipe is so simple. It takes only 15 minutes to prepare! Serves 2 as a main salad entree, or 4 as an appetizer.

Ingredients:
1 pound fresh Alaskan halibut, cut into 1 inch pieces
2 cups tomatoes (a colorful assortment of yellow, red, and orange), diced
1/4 cup sweet red onion, diced
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
juice of 2 or 3 limes (about 1/3 cup)  (*I only used 1 lime)
1 teaspoon ocean sea salt
cracked black pepper, optional
1 jalapeno pepper, optional
extra virgin olive oil, optional
1 avocado, diced or sliced, optional
butter lettuce leaves, optional

Preparation:
Heat 1 inch of non-chlorinated water in a medium pot with a lid.  Add a little sea salt to the water once it is boiling and gently add fish.  Turn heat to low and simmer 5 minutes.  Remove fish from water with a slotted spoon and transfer it to a plate. Put the plate into the freezer for 5-10 minutes, until fish is slightly chilled.  While fish is chilling, put onions, sea salt and lime juice in a non-metal mixing bowl, and let the onions soak in lime juice a few minutes. Gently toss fish pieces into the lime juice mixture.  They will fall apart somewhat, but don't worry about that.  It will still be beautiful and yummy! Add the tomatoes and cilantro, and gently combine. Arrange butter lettuce leaves on plates, and divide the fish mixture evenly among the plates. Drizzle any remaining juices from the bowl over the salads.

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Raw Crackers: The New Unleavened Bread

Maybe it's because I'm on a tight budget or maybe I’m just wired this way because it's in my genes, but I can’t bear to throw away food.  I can still hear my Grandmother’s voice, in her real southern accent, when working in my kitchen.  “Waste not, want not, Mandy.”  My mother also was known as the “Queen of Leftovers”, but I think I have her trumped.  Little bits of veggies and peels and leftover bones from a roast I throw in the freezer till I can make a pot of stock.  Then when the bones are soo soft they disinegrate I even blend them up into soups (hey, it's a cheap mineral supplement...just don’t tell my kids).  The ends of bread that nobody wants I grind into crumbs and stick in the freezer for future use.  I feel a great sense of accomplishment when I use something that most people would throw away and turn it into something healthy and delicious.  

This is one reason I like to make crackers, because I can put things that I wouldn’t eat alone in them and they still taste great.  The other reason is that most store-bought crackers are made with high gluten modern wheat, refined sugars and genetically modified oils.  The ones that don't contain any of those things taste like cardboard and cost twice as much.  So here are a few of my favorite raw cracker recipes that use pulp from juicing and making nut milk.  You’ll be surprised how good they are.  They are a wonderful healthy high-fiber snack that my kids are as excited about as they are chips.  And most of these recipes are good for a variety of nutritional healing programs like the Body Ecology, GAPS, Gluten Free/Dairy Free, Paleo and Candida/Yeast Free diets.

Almond Crackers
1 cup firmly packed fresh raw almond pulp
2 tablespoons freshly ground golden flaxseed
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (or coconut oil or palm oil)
2 T fresh rosemary, finely chopped or 1 T dried
½ teaspoon sea salt (I prefer celtic or pink himalyan)

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Roll dough between 2 sheets of parchment paper until ¼ inch thick. Remove top piece of parchment paper and score with a pizza cutter to make 2 inch sqaure crackers. Transfer by sliding parchment paper with rolled dough onto baking sheet or dehydrator tray. Dry on the living foods setting of a dehydrator (110-115 degrees) or lowest oven setting until crisp (usually about 24 hours). Makes about 20 crackers.  Let crackers come to room temperature on baking sheet, then serve or store in an air tight container in the fridge.  They will last a couple weeks in there.

Pumpkin Seed Italian Crackers
1 cup pumpkin seeds (soaked overnight and drained)
1 1/2 cups sunflower seeds (soaked overnight and drained)
2 cups vegetable pulp from juicing cucumbers and fennel
1/4 cup flaxseed
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 handful of fresh parsley chopped
1 T dried italian seasoning
2 tsp salt
2 cloves garlic

Blend all ingredients in a food processor or blender until smooth (a few little chunks left makes for nice texture).  Roll and dry according to the same instructions in the above recipe.  Makes about 40 crackers.

Sprouted Buckwheat Curry Crackers
6 cups sprouted buckwheat (start with 2 1/2 to 3 cups hulled buckwheat groats and then sprout for three days)
4 cups soaked sunflower seeds (start these the night before you make them on the last day of buckwheat sprouting or else they’ll turn brown)
2 carrots or 1 cup carrot pulp from juicing
2 zuchini
1 red pepper
1 1/2 T sea salt
1/3 cup nutritional yeast
3 T onion powder
2 T curry powder
1/4 cup chia seed
1/4 cup coconut oil

Blend the carrot, zuchini, red pepper and spices in a blender till smooth.  Then blend in the sprouts and seeds until smooth. (A little chunkiness adds some nice texture if you like.) Roll and dry according to the same instructions in the above recipe.  Makes about 100 crackers.

These crackers differ from traditional lavash or unleavened bread (made without yeast) in that they are grain free.  For those who are not sensitive to gluten, grain flours can be substituted for nuts in these recipes, but it is recommended that they be cooked in an oven at 350 degrees till crisp.  Alternatively, whole grains (wheat, kamut, spelt, barley or rye) can be sprouted, ground to a paste and then dehydrated like Essene bread (the bread made by the sect that many believe is responsible for preserving the Dead Sea Scrolls).  For more information about bread in the Bible you can read the chapter on bread in my ebook  "Food in the Bible".  Here's a good video on making sprouted crackers if you want a little more instruction on soaking and sprouting nuts and grains: Making Sprouted Crackers.  I find the parchment paper technique to be the easiest and cleanest method.  It is inexpensive and you can get it at most grocery stores next to the plastic wrap.  I made a little video to show you how it works.

0

Bark Up The Right Tree

“And God said, Behold, I have given you...every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat.”     Genesis 1:29 (KJV)

Modern man has really lost touch with his environment and is suffering dearly for it. Just as so many are still blind to the gift of salvation through Jesus Christ, many are also ignorant of the gifts God has given us in nature to sustain our bodies. If you think about all the trees that bear fruit with seed in it, most people only include a very few in their regular diets. And most of those have been so hybridized that they no longer actually even yield viable seed (e.g. oranges, grapes, bananas, kiwis, apples). But there are 1,000s more with gifts to give that researchers are still discovering to this day. One such tree that is the highlight of this post is the Pau D’ Arco tree.

Pau D’Arco is a beautiful tree with magenta blossoms that has been used medicinally in South America to treat cancer and other diseases. Research has found it to contain compounds that have potent anti-fungal properties (even better that common prescription anti-fungal drugs) in laboratory studies. The anti-fungal properties of the herb are so strong, that its bark never molds or mildews after being cut down. Other compounds in the bark are believed to fight bacterial, viral and parasitic infections, and they may also have anti-inflammatory properties. This makes pau d’arco a beneficial treatment for individuals suffering from wounds and infections of all kinds. Pau d’arco works as a blood purifier and blood builder. The herb is often used as an immune system enhancer for treating colds, flu, herpes, yeast infections, vaginitis, candida, boils, ringworm and hepatitis, and to eradicate allergies, asthma, dermatitis and eczema caused by environmental factors. In his book “The Little Herb Encyclopedia,” Jack Ritchason claims that pau d’arco reduces tumors of all kinds by dissolving them. Other medicinal benefits of pau d’arco include reducing insulin dependence in diabetic patients, relieving arthritis pain and the pain associated with cancer, and treating gastritis and peptic ulcers. It is a liver protector and may help neutralize poisons that infiltrate the liver. 1

With a benefits list like that who wouldn’t want to incorporate this powerhouse herb into their diet? Are you dealing with allergies, fighting a yeast/fungal infection, struggling with diabetes or even cancer? Do you really crave a creamy sweet coffee drink, but know that it doesn’t support your health needs? Well, I’d like to present to you the delicious, nutritious, fungus fighting Pau D’Arco Chai Latte. This is an excellent alternative to coffee and regular black tea drinks that have caffeine which is addictive and stresses the body as well as often being loaded with sugar. I’m very excited to share this featured recipe with you. The inspiration for this drink came from my Sister-in-Law, Riley (you can see her other delicious recipes at www.mostlyrawmom.com). I took her basic idea and souped it up. Since most of this recipe comes from a tree, I have decided to call it the “Chai ‘Tree’ Latte”.

Chai “Tree” Latte

2 T pau d’arco bark
1 cinnamon stick
3 red rooibos chai tea bags
1 quart filtered water
1 1/2 cups raw almonds (soaked overnight in water to cover)
1 tsp slippery elm bark powder
1 tsp vanilla (powder or extract)
3 T coconut oil or coconut cream
2 pinch stevia powder or drops liquid extract
1 pinch of sea salt

Put the pau d’arco and cinnamon stick into a non-reactive saucepan with a little over a quart of water. If you like your tea really spicy add in a few cloves and peppercorns, too. Bring to a boil and then simmer covered for 20 min. Turn off the heat and add the rooibos tea bags to steep for 10 min. Allow to cool. Strain almonds and put them in the blender with the strained tea liquid. Blend on high until well blended and then strain through a nut milk bag or fine strainer. Pour the flavored milk back in the blender and add the coconut oil, slippery elm, vanilla, stevia and sea salt. Then blend till frothy. Add ice or re-warm to your liking. This recipe makes 1 quart which will keep in the refrigerator for 1-2 days or it can be frozen in ice cube trays to blend into a frappachino another time.  I did the math and this recipe costs approximately $3.75/quart with all organic ingredients. So you're getting 3 coffee shop lattes for the price of one without paying the price with your health.

To simplify this recipe, you could use any milk of your choosing (pre-made nut milk, coconut milk, or dairy milk and/or cream). Be aware though that most store bought nut milks are laden with sugar and harmful oils. As far as dairy goes, I’m a fan of raw cow and goat milk from healthy grass-fed animals. However, since most people who would want to make this drink will probably do so for medicinal purposes, dairy could aggravate the ailments for which this recipe was intended.

There are two other complimentary herbal tree barks in this recipe, cinnamon and slippery elm, which add flavor and additional healing properties. Cinnamon kills bacteria and yeasts that cause stomach ulcers and urinary-tract infections, and even helps the body regulate blood sugar. A few years ago, it was discovered that just the smell of cinnamon could improve cognitive function.2  Slippery Elm, which acts as an emulsifier in this recipe, is a mucilaginous herb also helps absorb toxins in the bowel. In fact, slippery elm bark powder is very soothing to the entire digestive system. It coats, relaxes, and heals all inflamed tissues including irritated mucous membranes of the stomach, bowels, and kidneys. For this reason it is especially useful for treating diarrhea and bowel weakness. Since the herb is slightly sweet, it is a great nourishing food for sick children.3

My kids really like this drink and always ask for more. I agree with Mary Poppins that medicine should taste good...except just without the sugar. And that’s another highlight of this recipe...it’s sugar free. Instead it uses the herbal sweetener stevia which does not affect blood sugar or feed yeast and bacterial infections. The rooibos tea, rich in antioxidants, also has a hint of sweetness and confers the benefits of calming the digestive tract, reducing nervous tension, enhancing immune response, and balancing blood sugar and blood fats.4  Last but not least, coconut oil gives this tea its delicious creaminess while at the same time providing enormous health benefits like optimizing healthy body weight, fighting viral, fungal and bacterial infections, and protecting against Alzheimer's and heart disease.5

If you decide to drink this regularly for it’s anti-fungal effects, many sources recommend to discontinue use for one week out of every three and rotate with the use of other anti-fungal herbs to prevent candida yeasts from developing resistance to herbal medicines. It is advised that you consult a health professional knowledgeable in herbal medicine before taking any herbal supplement, especially if you are currently taking prescription drugs or suffer from serious illness.

P.S. If you’re wondering what to do with the left over almond pulp, check out my next post for a delicious cracker recipe.

* Opening photo by Irene Nobrega.

1 Pau D’Arco Herb Benefits and Uses.  The Modern Herbal: Healing With Herbs, Essential Oils, Home Remedies and Alternative Medicine. 28 May 2012 <http://themodernherbal.com/2010/06/pau-darco-herb-benefits-and-uses/>.

2 Eifrig, David Jr.. “Can Spices Improve Your Brain Power?” Bulk Herb Store. 16 May 2012 <http://www.bulkherbstore.com/Cinnamon-Sticks-Whole_Organic>.

3 Herbs: Slippery Elm Bark Powder.  Bulk Herb Store.  28 May 2012 <http://www.bulkherbstore.com/Slippery-Elm-Bark-Powder?s=slippery%20elm>.

4 Mulder.  “Rooibos The Miracle Tea.”  Hub Pages. 28 May 2012 <http://mulder.hubpages.com/hub/Rooibos-The-Miracle-tea>.

5 Mercola, Joseph.  “This Cooking Oil is a Powerful Virus-Destroyer and Antibiotic…”  Mercola.com Take Control of Your Health. 22 Oct 2010. 28 May 2012 <http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2010/10/22/coconut-oil-and-saturated-fats-can-make-you-healthy.aspx>.

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