Whole grains are part of a healthy balanced diet. Or are they? We have heard much conflicting information on whether or not grains are part of a healthy diet.
There are many reasons why grains are triggers for people today.
One of the reasons is that farmers are using herbicides as a drying agent in order to get the grains from field to market faster. The grains soak in the poison and dry down making for an easier and larger harvest for the farmer.
For the consumer, however, they get a food product laden with dangerous chemicals. It is important to choose organic whole grains to ensure they are free from toxic chemicals.
Another reason is that we have adopted fast harvesting methods. The ancient methods of harvesting grains involved stacking the grain to dry in the fields. This allows for the fermentation of the grain in the chaff and increases the nutritional content and digestibility of the grain.
Fermentation is the key. Today our bread is raised with brewers yeast and not the natural, slow yeast of our ancestors. Grains are high in phytic acid. Phytic acid is know as an anti-nutrient that blocks the absorption of essential minerals.
Soaking and fermenting grains reduces the phytic acid and they become more digestible. This is a simple method that just involves a little planning ahead. I like to soak my grains overnight for the following day. Once you get into the habit of it, it requires little more thought than brushing your teeth before bed.
To soak whole grains all you need is clean water for soaking, and an acidic medium like yogurt, buttermilk, whey, lemon juice or apple cider vinegar. Simply put the grains in a bowl, and add 1 tablespoon acidic medium for each cup of water. Cover and let sit overnight at room temperature. In the morning you can continue the recipe, cooking the grains as needed.
When I bake I use a similar method, soaking the flour overnight. For example, if I am making muffins, I soak the flour overnight substituting yogurt or buttermilk for the milk in the recipe. The next day I continue adding the ingredients and finish baking the recipe as directed.
Since I have adopted soaking and fermenting into my grain routine, I have noticed improved digestion and mineral absorption personally.
My favorite resource for getting the most out of your whole foods is the book, Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon. I highly recommend you get a copy for yourself. It is a staple of my kitchen and is a guidebook for anyone who is interested in connecting with time tested food preparation methods that are nearly lost.
I believe it is the ancient wisdom that will bring solutions for the modern problems we face today.
Have you ever started a garden with every good intention just to have your seedlings shade out and overcrowded by weeds? It is amazing how fast weeds grow and can take over a garden. Weeding is not much fun. I am sure no one starts a garden with the thought of how enjoyable it will be to pull weeds multiple times before they get a harvest.
In the past I have tried to outsmart the weeds by heavily mulching around veggies with newspaper and grass clippings or straw. This is great for seedlings but not so much for direct seeded veggies.
Two years ago I attended an herbal workshop and the herbalist opened my mind to the idea of edible weeds. Ever since then I have had a changed perspective on weeds and what I harvest from my garden.
Weeds are to me a seemingly magical source of food. They are found all around us, they require no effort to grow and are more nutritious than the actual vegetables we work so hard to grow each summer. However, only harvest weeds to eat from a location you know is free from contaminants, like your garden.
Here are some of my favorites:
This year I let one of my garden beds go all natural. I am allowing the choice weeds to grow and establishing perennial flowers and herbs that I can make tea with. I started it with aged manure I hauled from a cattle farm. It had plenty of weeds seeds in the soil that are happily growing.
So far I have harvested the red clover flowers and stinging nettle. I dry and store them in glass jars. At the end of the growing season I will be mixing some tea blends from them and the rest of the flowers and herbs I harvest.
What weeds do you have growing in your garden? I bet you have some of the same weeds as me. Make this the year you stop fighting the good ones and embrace them as a source of food. You will never look at a weed the same way again!
Ok, I know I may be stepping on toes with this topic, but I need to let you all know how bad your diet soda habit actually is!
A study done by the Framingham Heart Study Offspring cohort and originally published in the journal Stroke in May 2017, found connections between diet soda consumption and higher risk of stroke and dementia.
Artificial sweeteners are classified as neurotoxins. A neurotoxin is a poison to the nervous system that disrupts normal function. The nervous system is responsible for controlling breathing, digestion, your heart and your 5 senses.
With each can of diet soda, you are essentially poisoning your nervous system.
Many people drink diet soda to keep their calorie consumption down during the day, to maintain a certain weight. What they don't know is that their body doesn't know the difference between sugar and artificial sweeteners when it comes to insulin response.
When you consume anything sweet (sugar or artificial sweeteners), your sweet taste receptors send signals to your pancreas to release insulin to break down and utilize the incoming sugar. Insulin is a key player in metabolism, and decides when the incoming food gets stored as fat or utilized for energy. It stimulates the body to utilize carbohydrates for energy instead of burning fat cells.
When an artificial sweetener is consumed, there is the same insulin response as if sugar was consumed but there is nothing for the insulin to break down. This results in elevated insulin levels that cause the insulin receptors to become less responsive. The insulin response also signals the body to store more fat around the belly, which in turn can lead to additional insulin resistance.
That can of diet soda you thought was helping you loose weight is actually helping you pack on the pounds around your waist and could be causing insulin resistance.
The scary thing is, as you become aware of the dangers of artificial sweeteners and work to avoid them, you will find them hiding everywhere. They are in yogurt, chewing gum, mints, bread, sports drinks, microwave popcorn, ice cream, hot cocoa mix, juice, condiments, popsicles, cookies, and low calorie desserts.
Instead of artificial sweeteners, utilize natural healthy alternatives in small amounts and reduce your addiction to that sweet taste. Stevia is my favorite alternative and it comes in powder or liquid forms. Maple syrup, honey, monk fruit, coconut sugar, dates and agave nectar are other good alternatives.
As you break your addiction to sweet tastes, you may loose weight, have more lasting and stable energy throughout the day, reduce inflammation, get clearer skin, have less headaches, sleep better, have improved digestion and ultimately, crave sweets less.
I hope this inspires you to take a closer look at food labels and switch out your diet soda habit for a tall glass of lemon water or at least a stevia sweetened soda instead.
Cheers to your health!