Sunday, August 11, 2013


Spirulina (speer-U-lee-nah) is a form of blue green algae, one of the planet’s most ancient forms of plant life.  Spirulina’s name comes from the spiral shape of each individual, microscopic cell.

A somewhat common misconception is that spirulina is nothing more than ‘pond scum.’  Not true! There are algaes that grow in fresh water that are not spirulina and are toxic.  There are also wild monocultures of spirulina in parts of the world that have been eaten safely by many civilizations throughout history.  Spirulina that is grown for nutritional supplementation is typically grown in outdoor tanks under rigorous conditions with the most commonly used varieties being that of Spirulina maxima, which is grown in Mexico, and Spirulina platensis , which is grown in Hawaii. 

One of Nature’s most balanced of foods, spirulina is an amazing source of protein, chlorophyll, trace minerals, vitamins and antioxidants and contains 10 times more beta-carotene than carrots.  This algae is so nutrient-dense and rapidly grown that some experts believe it could be used as a whole-food, multi-nutrient supplement for populations at risk for malnutrition or starvation.  Spirulina doubles in its biomass in two to five days and can be cultivated on land where nothing else will grow.  And as a food source, spirulina yields over 20 times more protein than soybeans and 400 more times than beef within the same space requirements.

Both the United Nations and The World Health Organization have recommended spirulina as a safe food supplement for children and spirulina is exceptionally well-suited for people who have poor digestion as it is extremely easy to digest.  Spirulina has also been researched extensively for its potential to improve immune function and has been found to increase the action of anti-cancer and antiviral cells.  Spirulina was used in Russia to treat victims (children, in particular) of the nuclear accident at Chernobyl and the victims’ bone marrow, compromised in blood cell production by radiation, seemed to better return to its proper function.  Spirulina also contains high concentrations of gamma-linoleic acid (GLA), an anti-inflammatory omega-6 fatty acid and many users attest to spirulina’s ability to relieve joint pains and body aches. 

Spirulina users often report dramatic improvements in energy levels as well.  Athletes use spirulina to improve performance and endurance and generally find that it also aids in faster recovery times.    


Thursday, August 1, 2013

Nutritional Yeast

A Quick Overview of Nutritional Yeast....


Nutritional yeast is a pure strain of yeast called Saccharomyces cerevisiae. In the same family as edible mushrooms, yeast has been used in food and beverage production for more than 5,000 years. Today, the same strain is used to brew beer, make wine, and leaven breads as well as develop the nutritionally-rich food called nutritional yeast.

Each batch of nutritional yeast is grown on a mixture of cane and beet molasses for a period of seven days. B-vitamins are added during the process to provide the yeast with the nutrients it needs to grow. When harvested, the yeast is washed and then dried on roller drum dryers before it is ready for market. It is then used by food manufacturers in food products, added to boost the nutrient levels in many foods, and also simply packaged for sale in natural foods stores.

Red Star® is the leading producer of this product, providing almost all of the nutritional yeast sold in the bulk section of natural foods markets. Vegans (strict vegetarians) have used it for years as a source of vitamin B-12, an essential nutrient found primarily in animal products. Health seekers who strive to eat primarily a whole foods diet use nutritional yeast because it adds extra nutrients to their diet and also imparts a ‘cheesy’ flavor.

Unlike active baking yeast, nutritional yeast is grown solely for its nutritional value. It should not be confused with brewer’s yeast, a by-product of breweries and distilleries.  Nutritional yeast is a low-fat, low-sodium, kosher, non-GMO food that contains no added sugars or preservatives. The cane and beet molasses used in the growing process does not make nutritional yeast sweet and is not a source of simple sugars.


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Some of the Many Benefits of Sunflower Seeds

Some of the Many Benefits of Sunflower Seeds...

Sunflower seeds are the small kernels produced by large sunflowers. Confectionary sunflowers, a very large headed type of flower, are a type of sunflower that produces the edible seeds seen in the grocery stores and in products containing sunflower seeds. This type of sunflower seed is usually sold in shell or as de-hulled kernels. The seeds are easily added to many foods or can be eaten alone, making an ideal snack—and the seeds are even more nutritious when sprouted!

Sunflower Seeds Help Lower Cholesterol...

Virginia Tech College of Agriculture and Life Sciences states that sunflower seeds are ranked at the top of the nuts and seeds list for containing phytosterols-- or cholesterol lowering-- compounds. Sunflower seeds are full of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, which are good fats that help keep the bad cholesterol away. Sunflowers are full of fiber that may also be a contributing factor in lowering cholesterol for some people.

And help to Decrease the Risk of Cancer

Sunflower seeds have high amounts of vitamin E, selenium and copper, which have antioxidant properties.  When used together these nutrients help to prevent cellular damage and protect tissue from oxidant and free radical damage, and may help prevent cancer according to Vanderbilt University Health Psychology. Sunflower seeds may also reduce the risk of certain types of cancer that can be attributed to their high phytosterol content, according to Virginia Tech. Ligans, a compound found in sunflower seeds, may protect against some cancers as well, according to the National Sunflower Association.

They are also a Mood Enhancer 

Sunflower seeds may have a beneficial effect on your mood, lessening the chance of depression in some people.  Sunflower seeds contain Tryptophan, which is an amino acid responsible for processing serotonin in our bodies. When serotonin is released it relieves tension, relaxes our bodies and promotes sleep. Choline, a compound found in sunflower seeds, plays a positive role in memory and cognitive function, according to the National Sunflower Association.

And Sunflower Seeds are High in Nutrition!

Sunflower seeds are a nutrient-rich food, containing vitamins E and B, and minerals that include selenium, magnesium, iron, phosphorus, calcium and zinc. They are high in protein, containing 22.78 g per 3.5-oz. serving. Sunflower seeds are a good source of fiber and have 10.5 g per 3.5-oz. serving and are high in polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats with only 160 calories per serving ounce.

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Super Kale!

There are certain ‘super foods’ that have an amazing and incredible array of health benefits that go well beyond their nutrient values.  Some of the more commonly known super foods are blueberries, green tea, quinoa and dark chocolate (yay!) And….did you know that kale is also widely regards as one of the world’s most powerful of super foods?

Kale is a member of the Brassica family of vegetables that includes cabbage, collards, Brussels sprouts, bok choy, broccoli, cauliflower, kohlrabi, mustard, rutabaga and turnip.  Kale is much like a non-heading cabbage and differs a bit from collards in appearance and taste.  Most kale varieties have upright, green to deep blue-green leaves with fringed or wavy edges and long petioles (the stalk of the leaf, attaching the blade to the stem.)  Vegetables in the Brassica family are known for their richness in anti-oxidants and for their phytonutrients.  And kale is the leader of the bunch when it comes to those awesome nutrients!

Some of the most important nutrients present in kale include the glucosinolates and methyl cysteine sulfoxides.  These particular super-nutrients help to activate detoxifying enzymes in the liver that play an important role in neutralizing carcinogenic (cancer causing) substances.  One such glucosinolate, sulforaphane, is formed when kale is either chopped or chewed. Sulforaphane has been shown to alter the genetic expression of the liver thus allowing the liver to effectively use its detoxification enzymes. 

Another glucosinolate phytonutrient present in kale is isothiocyanates.  Isothiocyanates have been shown to inhibit carcinogenesis (the production of cancerous cells) and to cause cancer cell apoptosis (cancer cell death.)  When kale is broken (chopped or chewed) an enzyme, myrosinase, interacts with glucosinolates to release isothiocyanates.

It’s been theorized that vegetables in the Brassica family require cooking to unlock the nutrient content yet the truth is that all vegetables can be eaten raw and that cooking at temperatures over 118 degrees often destroys valuable enzymes.  Studies have shown that the body’s absorption of isothiocyanates is actually lower from cooked kale than from raw kale.  Boiling kale a mere 9-15 minutes can result in a decrease of 18-59 percent of total glucosinolate content.

Kale is also an especially powerful source of anti-oxidants.   Kale ranks the highest among all vegetables in its concentration of carotenoids beta-carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin, pigments which are critical for the plant’s defense against excess solar radiation.   Interest in these carotenoids has become such a phenomena that the USDA has invested over $800,000 into a four year “Carotenoid Project ”, a study that also analyzed twenty-three varieties of kale!
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Some of the Many Health Benefits of Flax...

A Few of the Many Health Benefits of Flax…

  1. Flax is very high in lignans, which have anti-tumor properties—lignans act as antioxidants that could mirror the results of Tamoxifen, the anti-cancer drug for breast cancer.


  1. Flax is a natural food that has been consumed for thousands of years by many civilizations with noticeable health benefits and no artificial drug side effects.


  1. Omega 3’s—flax is recognized as the richest source of essential fatty acids (EFAs) such as alphalinolenic acid (ALA and Omega-3 fatty acids).


  1. Lignans—flax contains high levels of lignans, which are natural compounds that help prevent many types of cancer, such as breast, colon and prostate cancer.


  1. Fiber—as a whole grain, flax contains high levels of both soluble and insoluble fiber, which has been recognized by the National Cancer Institute as an essential part of your diet for the prevention of many cancers.


  1. Your body cannot make the essential fatty acids, Linoleic (Omega-6) or Linolenic (Omega-3), from other elements; instead, they must be consumed as part of your daily diet. Research has indicated that we consume too much Omega-6’s and not enough Omega-3’s, but flaxseed contains these essential fatty acids in perfect balance.


  1. In proper balance, omega-3’s and omega-6’s work to form the membranes of every cell in your body, play a vital role in the active tissues of your brain, and control the way cholesterol works in your system.

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DIY Bug Spray!

DIY Bug Spray!

This is a great chemical-free way to keep unwanted bugs off your prized produce.


  • 1 garlic bulb
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 tsp powdered cayenne pepper
  • 1 quart water
  • 1 tbsp liquid castile soap (i.e., Dr. Bronner’s)

Put garlic and onion in the blender, blend until liquefied. Then add 1 quart of water and 1 tsp of cayenne pepper. Cover the mixture, and let it steep for one hour.

Then, strain the mixture through a cheesecloth and add 1 tbsp castile soap. Put it all into a spray bottle, and spray the mixture on your plants to ward off bugs.

Keep the pepper spray refrigerated, and it will keep for about a week!


A Few Words about the Wonderful Pumpkin Seed...

Pumpkin seeds—also known as pepitas—are flat, dark green seeds. Some are encased in a yellow-white husk (often called the "shell"), although some varieties of pumpkins produce seeds without shells. Like cantaloupe, watermelon, cucumber, and squash, pumpkins and pumpkin seeds belong to the gourd or Cucurbitaceae family.

Pumpkins, and their seeds, are native to the Americas, and indigenous species are found across North America, South America, and Central America. The word "pepita" is consistent with this heritage, since it comes from Mexico, where the Spanish phrase "pepita de calabaza" means "little seed of squash."

Pumpkin seeds were a celebrated food among many Native American tribes, who treasured them both for their dietary and medicinal properties. In South America, the popularity of pumpkin seeds has been traced at least as far back as the Aztec cultures of 1300-1500 AD. From the Americas, the popularity of pumpkin seeds spread to the rest of the globe through trade and exploration over many centuries. In parts of Eastern Europe and the Mediterranean (especially Greece), pumpkin seeds became a standard part of everyday cuisine, and culinary and medical traditions in India and other parts of Asia also incorporated this food into a place of importance.

Just a Couple of the MANY Health Benefits...

Mineral & Antioxidant Support...

Pumpkin seeds are a very good source of the minerals phosphorus, magnesium, and manganese, and likewise are a very good source of the minerals zinc, iron, and copper.  And it’s the diversity of antioxidants in pumpkin seeds that makes them unique in their antioxidant support. Pumpkin seeds contain conventional antioxidant vitamins like vitamin E. However, not only do they contain vitamin E, but they contain it in a wide variety of forms.

Antimicrobial Benefits

Pumpkin seeds, pumpkin seed extracts, and pumpkin seed oil have long been valued for their anti-microbial benefits, including their anti-fungal and anti-viral properties. Research points to the role of unique proteins in pumpkin seeds as the source of many antimicrobial benefits. The lignans in pumpkin seeds (including pinoresinol, medioresinol, and lariciresinol) have also been shown to have antimicrobial—and especially anti-viral— properties.


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