Thursday, May 19, 2016

12 Healthy And Delicious Things To Do With Fresh Strawberries

Fresh strawberries can be used in so many delicious ways.

Follow Foods For Long Life on Facebook and Pinterest.

Fresh Strawberries
My garden is presenting me with the most beautiful strawberries. Last year I dedicated one of my raised garden beds to growing strawberries. We got a small harvest last season, they lived through the winter, and now they are producing in force. 

My strawberry bed

If you have strawberries in your garden or if you go to the farmers market and get inspired to buy an entire flat of these beautiful berries, you may now be asking yourself, "what should I do with all this fruit?" Here are some ideas.

Prep the Strawberries
Of course strawberries are often nice and sweet and you can just pop them in your mouth, but many can be tart and a little hard. So you may want to prep them with a tiny bit of sugar. It doesn't take very much and it makes a big difference.

Just slice fresh strawberries and place them in a bowl. Sprinkle a teaspoon of granulated sugar over them, stir well and set aside for 20 minutes until the berries soften and begin to release their juice. Now they are ready to enjoy as is or in a few of the following dishes.

Softened strawberries

#1 French Toast Smothered in Strawberries
One of my favorite things to do with strawberries, is to use them over French toast or pancakes. Smothering French toast or pancakes allows you to skip the butter and syrup!

French toast with strawberries

#2 PB&S
You've heard of PB&J- well, skip the jelly and place some "prep'ed" strawberries over your favorite nut butter on a muffin or slice of bread. Try Cinnamon Raisin Ezekiel Muffins with Almond Butter and Fresh Strawberries

Almond butter and fresh strawberries on an Ezekiel muffin

I also love placing strawberries on Kite Hill vegan cream cheese on a whole wheat English Muffin.

Sliced strawberries and Kite Hill or Tofutti non-dairy
cream cheese on a whole wheat English muffin.

#3 Strawberry Banana Fruit Leather
Just whip up a 2 cups of strawberries and 2 large bananas in a blender, pour onto 2 large Teflex dehydrator sheets and dehydrate until leathery and pliable. Just follow my recipe for Vegan Blueberry Banana Fruit Leather and substitute the blueberries with strawberries. These make a wonderful snack!

Pour mixture onto a dehydrator sheet
Strawberry banana fruit leather

#4 Strawberries on Greens
Most people think of putting tomatoes, radishes, cucumbers, etc. on their greens but fruit is a wonderful addition to salads. Try my Spinach and Strawberry Salad with Orange Vinaigrette. or just add sliced and "prep'ed" strawberries to any green salad.

Spinach and Strawberry salad

#5 Sugar-Free Popsicles
Popsicles are pretty easy to make and they are especially delicious with fresh strawberries. Check out this low-calorie, sugar-free Strawberry Popsicle recipe.

These strawberry popsicles are only 20 calories each!

#6 Organic Low-Sugar Strawberry Jam
This is one of my favorite things to do with strawberries. Even before I had my own strawberry patch, I would buy flats of fresh strawberries to make this delicious Strawberry Jam.

This strawberry jam is only 12 calories per tablespoon.

I was so excited to discover making jam with Pomona Universal Pectin, that I included an entire chapter in my book, Health Begins in the Kitchen, on making healthy jam. I included recipes for making jam and jelly with various fruits and different sweeteners such as honey, agave, stevia, apple-juice, grape-juice, less sugar, or no sugar at all.

#7 Freezing Strawberries
I love making smoothies in the morning and frozen strawberries are a great addition. To freeze strawberries while they are in season so that you can use them later in your smoothies, first clean them and lay them out on a cookie sheet. Place the cookie sheet in the freezer. Once the berries are frozen, place them in a freezer bag. Label, date, and pop in the freezer. 

Place clean strawberries on a cookie sheet in the freezer.

#8 - Make a Smoothie
You can drop some frozen strawberries in any of your favorite smoothies. Check out this recipe for Strawberry Banana Green Tea Smoothie with Chia Seeds.

#9 - Sliced Strawberries with Honey
There's a Chinese restaurant in town that serves this little desert of sliced strawberries with local honey. It's so simple yet elegant and delicious, especially if you have access to local honey. I also like to add a few dark chocolate covered almonds or a piece of dark chocolate on the side.

Drizzle local honey over sliced strawberries.

#10 - In a Fruit Salad, of Course!
The slight tartness of strawberries pair beautifully with sweet fruits such as papaya, mango, and banana. Check out this Mexican Papaya Salad with Strawberries in a poppy seed dressing.

#11 - Vegan Strawberry Ice Cream
At 73 calories per serving, you can enjoy all the Strawberry Ice Cream you want. 

This strawberry ice cream has 1/3 the calories and 1/10 the fat as Ben and Jerry's strawberry ice cream.

#12 - Vegan Wholewheat Strawberry Muffins
These wholegrain, low-calorie muffins are light and delicious. Check out the recipe for Wholewheat Strawberry Muffins.

Let us know if you have some other good ideas to share!

Monday, May 16, 2016

Grindstone Bakery's Great Tasting Gluten Free Bread - Also Loaves Of Healthy Rye And Spelt

Grindstone's bread are made from the purest ingredients.

Follow Foods For Long Life on Facebook and Pinterest.

Looking for Gluten-Free Bread?
My husband eats gluten free bread because he's a bit sensitive to wheat. But I cringe when he brings home these brands that are made from processed rice flour, rice starch, and gums to hold them together. Then we found Grindstone Bakery. The above picture shows an entire shelf of their breads at our local Whole Foods although the first loaves we bought were directly from their quaint factory. But you can buy all of their breads online too.

Ancient Bread-Making Techniques
The whole grains are all stone milled in the factory. This gentle and cool process preserves the protein, healthy fats, and nutrients in the germ as well as the dietary fiber. To truly appreciate how much love goes into this bread, you need to read Mario Repetto's story:

Mario's Story - from their Website
"Grindstone Bakery was founded in 1999 in a small "garage" in Santa Rosa, California, where we experimented with alternatives to modern wheat and created fermentation cultures for an authentic sourdough process. My father had been a partner at a flour mill. I grew up in Argentina among grain fields and all kinds of flours and breads. I wanted to be a chemist, so my father thought that the natural path for me was to be the mill’s chemist. But during my studies I was captivated by the world of science and decided that just testing flours was not enough of a life. So, I went on pursuing an elusive career in science. Today, I am extremely happy that I have found myself baking once again. Baking is a science that requires the precision and rigor, the experimental and inquisitive skills that are rooted in my scientific background. Baking is also an act of love that now provides meaning to my life." 

~Mario Repetto, the Baker

Mario Reperto
This guy really knows his bread!

Pure Ingredients
These breads have the purest ingredients you'll ever find. It reminds me of the bread my husband's grandmother used to make. 

Check out this beautiful Sprouted Seeds Quinoa/Millet Loaf. It contains organic whole quinoa & whole millet (stone-ground at the bakery - which we personally witnessed when we visited their factory), purified water, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, psyllium husks, fermentation starter (from quinoa and purified water), Nana Mae's apple juice, and sea salt. 

All the ingredients are organic..

Packed with seeds, inside and out!

The selection of gluten-free breads is impressive. Here are some others.

Their Gluten-Free High Flax Quinoa/Millet Loaf starts with the same whole quinoa and whole millet. They add flaxseed meal that is freshly ground at the bakery just before mixing the dough! Who does that? Flaxseed should always be ground fresh to retain its omega-3 potency and it's great to buy a product from a company that realizes this.

Contains freshly ground flaxseed meal.

One of my personal favorites is the Gluten-Free Dill Baguette. Same wonderful, wholesome whole quinoa and millet ingredients and some dill seeds for flavoring.

I love to serve this warm with soup.

One of Doug's favorites is the Gluten-Free Cinnamon Raisin Quinoa/Millet loaf. Toasted with some vegan cream cheese - it's divine!

Taste great toasted!

They have other selections such as:
Gluten-Free Quinoa/Millet Plain Loaf
Gluten & Grain Free 100% Quinoa Plain Loaf
Gluten & Grain Free 100% Quinoa Loaf with Fennel
and one that makes great sandwiches, the Gluten-Free Sandwich Loaf.

They also have some Gluten-Free cookies in three flavors: Sesame, Coconut Crunch, and Dark Chocolate but I found them to be bit dry. 

Spelt, Rye, and Barley Breads
Grindstone also has a lovely selection of Spelt, Rye and Barley breads (not gluten free) for those of you who enjoy these grains. 

One of their yummiest is the Banana Barley Loaf which is also great toasted with cream cheese.

Banana Barley Loaf

They also make a Wheat Free Rye Bread with Caraway Seeds.

Contains organic whole rye berries, rye
fermentation starter, caraway seeds, and
sea salt. Thats it!

For Spelt Lovers
They also offer a Sprouted Seeds Spelt Loaf, a Hi Flax Spelt Loaf, and a Multigrain Spelt Loaf.

Sprouted Seeds Spelt Loaf

So if you are looking for bread that is made the way nature intended it, get some from Grindstone Bakery!

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Whole Wheat Vegan Strawberry Muffins

These yummy strawberry muffins are only 150 calories!

Follow Foods For Long Life on Facebook and Pinterest.

Another Way to use your Garden Strawberries
My strawberry patch is going crazy so I've been using strawberries in every delicious way I can (you'll be seeing a post next week on a dozen different ways to use strawberries so stay tuned.) For Mother's Day, I baked them into a yummy, low-calorie, low-sugar, whole grain muffin. Here's the recipe!

                   *                               *                                   *

Whole Wheat Strawberry Muffins
Vegan, Dairy Free
[makes 12 muffins]

1⁄4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for greasing pan 
2 cups King Arthur white whole-wheat flour or 1 cup whole- wheat and 1 cup all-purpose flour) 
2 tablespoons ground flax seeds
1⁄3 cup organic cane sugar
4 (1-gram) packets or equivalent bulk stevia powder 
1 tablespoon aluminum-free baking powder
1⁄2 teaspoon salt 
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
1⁄2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1⁄2 cup almond or other non-dairy milk
2⁄3 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 cup diced fresh strawberries
2 fresh strawberries, diced

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Grease 12 muffin cups or line with paper liners. 

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, flax seeds, sugar, stevia, baking powder, and salt. 

In a large bowl, combine the orange zest, orange juice, milk, applesauce, and oil and beat well. 

Add the flour mixture to the large bowl and mix until well blended. Fold in one cup of diced strawberries.

Using an ice cream scoop or 1⁄3-cup measure, scoop batter into muffin tins. Divide up the two diced strawberries and place on top of each muffin. Gently push them in a little. 

Bake until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted in the center of a muffin, 18 to 20 minutes. 

Remove from the oven, cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes, release the muffins from the pan, and serve warm. 

12 Muffins 

Per serving: 152 calories, 6 g total fat, 0.7 g saturated fat, 320 mg omega-3 and 674 mg omega-6 fatty acids, 0 mg cholesterol, 3 g protein 22 g carbohydrates, 3 g dietary fiber, and 195 mg sodium. 

For more healthy recipes, download my eBook, Health Begins in the Kitchen!

Tuesday, May 03, 2016

How To Grow Your Own Potatoes

Magic Molly purple fingerling potatoes from Johnny's seeds.

Follow Foods For Long Life on Facebook and Pinterest.

A Year for Trying New Veggies
In March I planted my very first asparagus. They are popping up now although I won't be able to harvest any until next year (despite having bought 2-year old crowns). But it's always exciting to try growing new vegetables.

The one vegetable I have never tried growing is potatoes. So this year, after the encouragement of my cousin Christy,  I dedicated an entire raised bed to the effort.

Why Bother?
You might ask yourself why bother growing something as plentiful and common as a potato. Well, have you ever tasted a fresh potato? I have and the difference is amazing. Besides superior taste and texture, you can grow a variety of potatoes that you don't find in the store. And if you do find them in the store or farmer's market, these gourmet potatoes can be pretty pricey.  But if you decide to grow them, be sure to order them in time as the "seed" potatoes get sold out pretty quickly. 

Seed Potatoes
You don't actually grow potatoes from their seeds, even though they do produce seeds, but you grow them from  the part of the potato that has "eyes." These potatoes are called "seed potatoes." Each eye is a bud that turns into a new plant. 

Although you can grow a crop from you old potatoes that are beginning to sprout, it's important to make sure that you are starting with potatoes that are "disease free." So this year, at least, I am starting with organic seed potatoes that I purchased from Johnny's Seeds. They were crazy expensive so I hope to try to make my own seed potatoes next year.

How to Plant
We went a little overboard in our garden beds this year. We filled it with new compost, rock dust, biochar, worm castings, and mycorrhizae. So the potatoes should be pretty happy.

Amendments to the soil before mixing.
Mycorrhizae are added directly under the seed potatoes.

We had been keeping the seed potatoes at 40 degrees so we had to let them warm up to room temperature. Most of the Pinto Gold's were so small (2 ounces or less) that we didn't have to cut them and were able to plant them whole. The Magic Molly purple fingerling potatoes were bigger so we had to cut them into smaller pieces, each piece having at least one "eye.". The cut potatoes should be allowed to sit for 2 days before planting so that they seal. This prevents rotting and makes them less susceptible to soil-born diseases.

After mixing the amendments into the soil, we placed each seed potato 2 to 3 inches deep into the soil with the eyes pointing up about 12 inches apart with the rows about 30 inches across.

Note the eyes pointed upward
Cover carefully with the soil. 

Covered with soil
The plants should emerge 2 to 3 weeks later. Keeping my fingers crossed!

Update May 14th 
12 days after planting, sprouts emerged. They looked like this:

Potatoes sprouted after 12 days

Update May 20th
The weather has been unusually warm and the little spuds love it. Here's what the bed looks like 18 days after planting.

Less than 3 weeks after planting, these
healthy leaves are growing quickly!

When the plants are 6 to 8 inches tall, I will have to "hill" them by mounding soil from each side of the row about 4 inches high along the base stem of the plants.

As the plants grow, I will repeat the hilling process until the hills are about 1 foot high.

Hilling prevents the "greening" of the potatoes. Green potatoes contain solanine, a glycoalkaloid poison (found in nightshade vegetables) so don't ever eat a green potato or the sprouts of a potato as they also contain solanine.

Not sure what to expect but I should get around 5 to 10 pounds for every pound of potatoes I planted. Since I planted a pound of Magic Molly's and a pound of Pinto Golds, I'm hoping to get 10 to 20 pounds of potatoes. I'll keep you posted!

Here's what they should look like:

Magic Molly fingerling potatoes
Pinto Gold
Small "new" potatoes can be harvested 7 to 8 weeks after planting. Main crop tubers harvested in the fall. To prepare for storing, dig the tubers, brush off soil, and allow skins to 

Thursday, April 28, 2016

How Cannabis Can Lower Your Need For Opioids And Reduce Risk Of Overdose

Cannabis and opioids may have a life-saving relationship.

Medicinal Cannabis Conference
Doug and I attended the 2016 Medicinal Cannabis Conference in Arcata, California last weekend where we heard from well known doctors such as:

Dr. Donald Abrams, chief of the Hematology-Oncology Division at San Francisco General Hospital and a professor of Clinical Medicine at UCSF.

Dr. Ethan Russo, a board-certified neurologist, psychopharmacology researcher, and Medical Director of PHYTECS, a biotech company focusing on the human endocannabinoid system.

Dr. Dustin Sulak, founder of Integr8 Health, an integrative health practice with 3 locations in New England that treats over 18,000 patients with medical cannabis.

The most exciting development from this conference, for me, was learning more about the interaction between opioids and cannabis and the enormous potential this has to help reduce the opioid epidemic in this country. My interest was already peaked by Dr. Sulak's article I had read in O'Shaughnessy's Journal of Cannabis in Clinical Practice. So it was really great to hear him discuss this in person, especially with all of the experience he has with cannabis patients. And with his practice in Maine, he is no stranger to the opioid and heroin epidemic and the urgent need to address it. 

The Problem
Opioid medications are handed out like candy. In 2012, 259 million prescriptions were written, enough to give every adult in the U.S. their own bottle of pills.

Sale of prescription opioids in the US nearly quadrupled from 1999 to 2014 even though there was not an increase in the amount of pain that Americans report and overdose deaths have risen accordingly. In 2014, there were 18,893 overdose deaths related to prescription pain pills. Another 10,574 overdose deaths were related to heroin. 

The problem is that when a person has surgery, or a back ache, or other forms of pain, their doctor prescribes them a pain reliever such as oxycodone, hydrocodone, codeine, or morphine. These drugs have many bad side effects, but the ones that are key here are:

* they are addictive
* people develop a tolerance to them, requiring them to increase their dosage
* they can cause respiratory depression which can lead to death
* as pain pills became harder to get, many turn to a more potent and cheaper opioid, heroin 

How Cannabis can help
Like opioids, cannabinoids (the chemical compounds found in cannabis) can reduce sensitivity to pain. In animal studies, cannabis added to opioids increased pain relief significantly more than the opioids alone. In addition, co-administering cannabis with opioids prevents tolerance building. What this could mean for humans is:

* a person could take a much lower dose of opioids if they take a little toke of cannabis
* they may not have to increase their dosage of opioids as the cannabis may prevent tolerance
* Cannabis is also safe because unlike opioid receptors, cannabis receptors are not very prevalent in the brainstem's cardio-respiratory center and does not increase the risk of respiratory depression or overdosing. No one has ever died from overdosing from taking too much marijuana.

Because cannabis is classified as a Schedule 1 drug, most of this research is still only confirmed by animal studies. As great as it is to prevent our rat population from opioid addiction, it would be far better to be able to prove this benefit in humans. Hopefully cannabis, with its many medicinal benefits will be rescheduled so this research can be done in the United States.

Some anecdotal accounts shared at the conference confirm these findings. Dr. Sulak described a patient who never needed to increase his small dosage of pain killers over a ten year period despite the severe chronic pain for the which it was prescribed. When the good doctor pointed this out, the patient readily pulled out a big joint from his pocket! 

The Obvious Question
With all the risks of prescription opioids, and the relative safety of medical cannabis, why not just prescribe medical cannabis for pain and skip over the prescription drugs completely? 

Recently my son had knee surgery and I'm sure went home with a big bottle of prescription pain killers. Luckily he lives in Oregon where cannabis is legal. He was able to completely control his post-surgical pain with cannabis alone. He didn't get addicted to it (he much prefers bourbon) and had a speedy recovery.

A group of researchers in Canada published a paper "Cannabis for the Management of Pain: Assessment of Safety Study" in the Journal of Pain where patients using an average daily dose of 2.5g of dried herbal cannabis a day for one year showed improvements in pain, function, quality of life and cognitive function.

Last year an article by Dr. Kevin Hill in The Journal of the American Medical Association reviewed the medical literature over the past 66 years and found that "the use of cannabis for chronic pain, neuropathic pain, and spasticity due to Multiple Sclerosis is supported by high-quality evidence."

Can Cannabis Cure Addiction?
We've discussed how cannabis can safely potentiate the analgesic effect of pain killers and how it can reduce pain all by itself. But can it cure someone who is already addicted to opioids?

This is certainly a critical area that needs far more research. But there are doctors who have shown that it can.

For example, Dr. Gary Witman of Canna Care Docs claims that he has successfully treated 15 patients with cannabis who have weened themselves off of opioids without relapse. And some individuals have told their own story of successfully using marijuana to cure their addictions.

Most states with medical marijuana now allow addiction to be on the list of qualifying conditions, showing the willingness to consider this as a viable treatment option. Maine Representative Diane Russel asked, "why take a solution off the table when people are telling us and physicians are telling us that it's working?"

The irony is not lost when cannabis, a supposed "schedule 1 drug that, by definition, has no medical benefits" can help prevent and potentially cure drug addiction caused by legal pharmaceutical drugs. 

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Chili-Chipotle Corn Muffins
Vegan And Gluten Free

Gluten free muffin with corn, diced green chili and Daiya cheese.

Follow Foods For Long Life on Facebook and Pinterest.

A Great Side Dish
You don't usually think of a muffin as a side dish but perhaps you should. It is, after all, a grain and can carry with it some other goodies. In this case, whole kernel corn, diced green chiles and Daiya vegan "cheese." It makes a great side dish for a morning tofu or egg scramble or a raw fruit salad. And when accompanying a big green salad, it makes the perfect lunch. 

To ensure that you are avoiding GMO corn, always select organic corn kernels and corn meal for this recipe.

                *                       *                      *     

Chili-Chipotle Corn Muffins
Vegan, Gluten and Dairy Free
[makes 12 muffins]

Requires a muffin pan and best with an electric hand beater. 

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil plus some for the pan
2 tablespoons ground flaxseeds
6 tablespoons room temperature water
3/4 cups organic cornmeal
1 cup Bob's Red Mill's gluten free all purpose baking flour
2 tablespoons organic cane sugar
2 packets stevia
1 tablespoon aluminum-free baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground chipotle chili, or to taste
1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk or other non-dairy milk
1 cup frozen organic corn, defrosted
1 (4.5 ounce) can diced green chiles
1/2 cup Daiya pepper jack style shreds

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Grease a 12-muffin pan with some olive oil or, if you prefer, Earth Balance, and set aside.

Prepare flaxseed eggs. Stir the ground flaxseeds in water vigorously with a fork in a large bowl. Set aside while preparing the dry ingredients, stirring occasionally while it thickens.

In a medium bowl, combine the cornmeal, flour, sugar, stevia, baking powder, salt, and ground chipotle.

Add the olive oil and milk to the flaxseed eggs. Blend with an electric hand beater until smooth. 

Add the dry ingredients and blend until well combined. It will look a bit dry but completely moistened. It it's too dry, add a touch more milk.

Fold in the corn, green chiles, and Daiya shreds. 

Scoop the batter into the prepared muffin cups and bake until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted in the center of the muffins, about 20 minutes.

Before baking
After baking
Remove from the oven and cool in the pan for 5 minutes. Release the muffins and serve warm. 

All corn muffins tend to get a bit dry the next day. To moisten them up, slice the muffin horizontally, warm them in your toaster oven, and slather them with Kite Hill vegan cream cheese or Earth Balance. So yummy!

Enjoy them for lunch together with a nice raw salad.

Nutritional Information
Per muffin: 153 calories, 7 g total fat, 1 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 304 mg omega-3 and 635 mg omega-6 essential fatty acids*, 3 g protein, 22 g carbohydrates, 2 g dietary fiber, and 226 mg sodium.