Monthly Archives: January 2014

cactus

How to eat a cactus

While shopping yesterday the kids talked me into buying a cactus leaf. Actually I said “no way,” so they asked Mike our family friend who claimed he knew how to cook a cactus. On the car ride home he admitted he had no idea but thought google would know.

cactus recipe

While I put the groceries away the kids enjoyed chasing each other around the kitchen with the cactus. I decided to bite the bullet and cook this thing sooner rather than later. While I do not have much experiences with South American cuisine, I believe that chopping a veggie up and sauteing it with oil and salt is fail safe.

peeling cactus

I started by removing the thorns (and nubs where the thorns used to be) with a vegetable peeler. I then washed it in cold water until most of the slime was off. Andrew helped me chop it up into little pieces.

slicing a cactus

I put it in the pan on medium with a teaspoon of palm oil (any oil would work) and a sprinkle of salt. I covered it and left it for 20 minutes. When I came back it had shrunk a lot.

cooked cactus

Everyone tasted it and it got mixed reviews. Mostly it was neutral, kind of like a mushroom. I put them on top of tacos like a garnish.

cactus tacos

 

Considering how little food the cactus leaf made, and how bland it tasted, it was not a time efficient ingredient. I also ended up with a few thorns in my fingers. Overall I still count the meal as a success. The cool thing is that my kids tried this totally weird plant.

chemical name

Ingredients you can eat, even if you can’t pronounce

On this Blog I often write about foods you should avoid and why. For a change I want to assure you of some ingredients that may sound scary but actually just fine to eat. Lately I have noticed more and more people switching to a whole foods diet and the mantra “don’t eat what you can’t pronounce.” This is generally good advice, but here is a list of ingredients that you need not pronounce. The FDA label laws requires scientific names be used on several ingredients. Manufacturers are allowed to put the common name in parenthesis after the scientific one, but there isn’t always room on the label.

  1. Beta carotene: Is a group of chemicals found in colorful fruits and vegetables like carrots and pumpkins. It is converted in the body to vitamin A and is an antioxidant.
  2. Steviol glycosides: This is an alternative to sugar from the Stevia Plant. I grow it in my garden.
  3. Xanthan gum: Is a thickener made from a bacteria mixed with sugar. It is often used in gluten free baking and is considered harmless.
  4. Sodium stearoyl lactylate: is a chemical derived from lactic acid and used to mix water and oil in baked goods. Lactic Acid, another scary name, is made from fermentation of a plant such as corn or beets.
  5. Alpha-linolenic acid: is an Omega 3 Fatty Acid found in some nuts, seeds, and vegetable oils and has a ton of health benefits.
  6. Vitamins: Many vitamins have a crazy scientific name.
  • Ascorbic acid — Vitamin C
  • Retinol—Vitamin A
  • Gamma tocopherol—Vitamin E
  • Thiamine mononitrate— Vitamin B1
  • Cyanocobalamin— Vitamin B12
  • Pyridoxine hydrochloride—- Vitamin B6
  • Calcium pantothenate—Vitamin B5
leaky gut

Freaky Deaky Leaky Gut

Have you heard of Leaky Gut? Chances are your doctor hasn’t, or if he has, it wasn’t during medical school. It is a relatively new diagnosis, yet to be accepted by all medical practitioners.  It covers a range of symptoms such as bloating, cramping, brain-fog, migraines, and aches and pains. The cause is not always clear, but could be food intolerances, parasites, high sugar diet, drugs, an underlying condition like celiac, even stress.

Another term for Leaky Gut is intestinal permeability. When many people think of the intestines, they think of a garden house. The intestine is over 25 feet long, and it does process food from start to finish through digestion, but the walls are not solid. Instead it is made of millions of cells held together with microscopic spaces in between. When everything is healthy, these spaces selectively allow nutrients to pass from the intestine to be absorbed into the blood stream, while pushing the toxins and waste out of the body. When something goes wrong, these little spaces become bigger, and allow undigested particles, waste, and toxins into your body. Your immune system attacks them as foreign invaders causing an auto immune response. They also end up in your joints, nerves, and brain, causing further damage to your system.

If you suspect you could have leaky gut, you should discuss your concerns with a provider. There is no test for Leaky Gut, but he or she will probably recommend blood and urine tests to look at your nutrient absorption and food tolerances. If you aren’t sure, try taking this quiz below.

This quiz isn’t intended to diagnose your problems nor does it provide a comprehensive health analysis. Only your Doctor can do that.

 

After eating do you experience abdominal pain or bloating?

A. Almost always

B. More often then I think is normal

C. It happens sometimes

D. Rarely to never

 

How often are you stuck in the bathroom dealing with either constipation or diarrhea?

A. Almost always

B. More often then I think is normal

C. It happens sometimes

D. Rarely to never

 

Have you ever noticed mucous or blood in your stool?

A. Almost always

B. More often then I think is normal

C. It happens sometimes

D. Rarely to never

 

Do you ever feel extremely tired for no reason, confused, or suffer from poor memory or mood swings?

A. Almost always

B. More often then I think is normal

C. It happens sometimes

D. Rarely to never

 

Do you have any known food allergies, sensitivities or intolerance ?

A. Yes, there is a long list of foods I need to avoid

B. Yes, I need to avoid the big triggers like wheat and dairy

C. I suspect I may have food allergies or sensitivities

D. None

 

Are you troubled by sinus or nasal congestion, asthma, hay fever, or airborne allergies?

A. Almost always

B. More often then I think is normal

C. It happens sometimes

D. Rarely to never

 

Do you have eczema or notice frequent skin rashes or hives?

A. Almost always

B. More often then I think is normal

C. It happens sometimes

D. Rarely to never

 

How often do you notice joint pain or swelling, or arthritic like pain?

A. Almost always

B. More often then I think is normal

C. It happens sometimes

D. Rarely to never

 

Do you take NSAIDS anti inflammatory medicines such as Aspirin, Tylenol, Motrin?

A. Almost daily

B. Once a week

C. Every now and then

D. Rarely to never

 

RESULTS: If you answered A to the above Leaky Gut could definitely be the culprit to your health issues. If you answered B you should still consider discussing Leaky Gut with your doctor. If you answered C or D you probably have good digestive health.

 

In most cases, a Leaky Gut can be healed over time with a healthy, tailored diet free of GMOs, processed foods, refined sugars, and full of nutrients and probiotics. Considering how large of an organ the intestine is, and how it works with virtually every system in your body, it is clear how good nutrition whether or not you have Leaky Gut will improve your well being.
 

 

Staying Outside of the Vaccine Debate

Who would guess that a few milliliters of serum could cause such a debate. If it wasn’t for Facebook I might not have known how strongly people feel and what a large division there is between the Vax’ers and the Non-Vaxers.

In recent years there has been a growing number of parents who choose not to vaccinate their children against diseases such as rubella, measles, mumps, HPV, polio, and the seasonal flu. They cite studies that indicate a link between vaccines and certain medical disorders, most famously Autism Spectrum Disorder. The medical community meanwhile has stood by the position that not only are vaccines safe, they protect children who would otherwise be at risk. Recently the CDC has stated that diseases we thought irradiated, such as polio, are showing up again. Since 2007 over 1,000 children have died from preventable diseases.

If you are wondering where I stand, we vaccinate our children, but it wasn’t a decision we arrived at quickly or easily. Before I let the pediatrician inject anything into any of my children we research the risks and benefits of each vaccine. In the end we felt in our hearts and minds that the likelihood of contacting a dangerous disease more more probable that a vaccine injury. Also, on a anecdotal note, having been in the Army for so long I have had every possible vaccine ever created, to include anthrax, and I am still ticking.

But this week news is spreading that Jenny McCarthy, a face of the non-vaccination side, “might be wrong.” Her 14 year old son, Evan, was diagnosed early as being on the Spectrum. McCarthy attributed his disorder to vaccines he received. She went on to be a critic of vaccinations and published two books. In 2010 it came out that the diagnosis for ASD might have been hasty, and there could be a different disorder, such as hearing or visual impairment. She stands by the original diagnosis for Autism and claims these rumors are false.

So why does it matter what other parents are doing? Because un-vaccinated children could spread diseases to your children who have not yet been fully immunized (either haven’t received initial or booster shots). Do an image search for measels. It looks really painful. Children don’t get their second MMR until they are 4-6 years old, leaving them vulnerable to this disease. Other children have compromised immune systems and cannot be immunized and must rely on herd immunization. For this reason I understand the anger and frustration at people like Jenny McCarthy, regardless of whether or not her son has Autism.

Despite these concerns, parents have the inherent right to parent as they feel best for their children. Non-vax-ers are not being lazy. Most likely they put a lot of time and energy and soul seeking before choosing to not vaccinate. Their side of the controversy is not without evidence. According to the “National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program statistics reports” the US Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP) fund had paid out 2,114 awards totaling $1.7 billion, mailing for people injured by the DTAP vaccine.

So, before you go blast Jenny (calling her an idiot or a menace as I have seen already today), take a moment and emphasize with her. We are all doing the best we can with what we know and what we have experienced.