Medicine Woman’s Larder – Beans – 12,000 years of history that we know about and avoiding the wind factor.


Medicine Womans larder

Mention the fact that you are an ardent bean lover and people automatically give you a wide berth. Unfortunately this very nutritious food group has developed a rather anti-social reputation over the years but prepared and cooked correctly beans can overcome their wind producing properties.

HISTORY OF THE BEAN.

There is evidence going back nearly 12,000 years that peas were part of the staple diet in certain cultures and certainly natives of Peru and Mexico were cultivating beans as a crop 9,000 years ago. It is likely that they were one of the first crops to be planted when man ceased to be nomadic and settled into communities.

There are many types of bean used as a staple food in different cultures around the world including Black beans, Chickpeas, Kidney Beans, Navy Beans and Soybeans. In Asia where consumption of soybean products is very high it is regarded as one of the best preventative medicines that you can eat.

WHAT ARE THE MAIN HEALTH BENEFITS OF BEANS?

For anyone suffering high cholesterol levels, blood pressure, heart disease, constipation, irritable bowel syndrome, Diverticulitis, colon cancer, diabetes or iron deficiency, beans are definitely on the healing foods list. One of the main health benefits of eating beans is their high fibre content.

Although fibre is not exactly up there on everyone’s favourite foods list it is extremely important to our overall health. Fibre is carbohydrate that cannot be digested and there are two types, water-soluble and water insoluble. Primarily water-soluble fibre comes from oatmeal, oat bran, nuts and seeds, fruit and legumes that include peas, lentils and beans. The insoluble fibre is mainly found in wholegrains, wheat bran, seeds, root vegetables, cucumbers, courgettes, celery and tomatoes.

Fibre acts like a vacuum cleaner, travelling through the blood stream and intestines collecting cholesterol plaque, toxins, waste products from normal bodily functions and anything else that should not be there.

Provided you do not pile high fat sauces and butter onto this group of foods they can be a very healthy aid to weight loss as fibre has no calories and the foods containing it are generally low in fat and high in nutrients.

WHAT ELSE IS IN BEANS THAT IS HEALTHY.

Beans are packed with nutrients as well as fibre including Vitamin B1 (thiamin) copper, folate, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus and tryptophan. The combination of nutrients will help boost your immune system, balance blood sugar levels, lower your risk of heart disease and help protect you against cancer.

Vitamin B1 (thiamin) is essential in the metabolism of carbohydrates and for a healthy nervous system. Every cell in the body requires this vitamin to form the fuel the body runs on, ATP (Adenosine Triphosphate).

Copper is an essential trace mineral needed to absorb and utilise iron and also assist in the production of collagen.

Folate is a B Vitamin essential for cell replication and growth. It is needed for our nervous system and heart health as folate helps lower homocysteine levels in the blood, a leading contributory factor in heart disease.

Magnesium is an essential mineral needed for bone, protein and fatty acid formation, forming new cells, activating the B vitamins, relaxing muscles, clotting blood and forming ATP. The secretion and action of insulin also needs magnesium as does the correct balance of calcium in the body.

Iron is an integral part of the oxygen-carrying haemoglobin in the blood, which is why a deficiency can cause fatigue and ill health.

Manganese boosts energy and the immune system and molybdenum another trace mineral helps detox the body of sulphites a commonly used preservative in processed food and one that many people have a sensitivity to.

Tryptophan is an amino acid that is critical in the manufacture of serotonin a neurotransmitter that affects our mental wellbeing.

PREPARING BEANS TO AVOID THE WIND FACTOR.

If you are not used to fibre then you need to introduce it into your diet over a period of days. This guideline applies to eating beans as people who eat them regularly seem to have less of a problem. There are a number of guidelines to ensure that you receive all of the benefits and none of the more anti-social side effects.

1. Soak your dried beans for at least 6 hours before cooking. Change the water several times.

2. Put the beans in a large pot and cover with cold unsalted water usually 3 to 6 times the amount of beans. Bring to the boil and reduce to a simmer. Drain the beans after 30 minutes and replace the water. Bring back to the boil and then simmer.

3. Skim off any foam that rises to the surface of the water.

4. When the beans have softened add some salt, as this will bring out there flavour. If you add salt at the beginning of cooking it can make the beans tougher. If you are on a low sodium diet then be careful about how much salt you add or use and alternative.

5. When the beans are cooked you can prepare in a number of ways. Include in brown rice dishes; stir-fry with a little olive oil, seasonings and favourite spices.

6. A lovely way to eat beans is in a casserole with tomatoes, onions, garlic, olive oil, carrots, potatoes, celery and vegetable stock.

7. Make your own baked beans with homemade tomato sauce and serve on jacket potatoes or on toast.

8. You can blend with other ingredients and make hamburgers, meatloaves and pates.

If you have a favourite bean recipe then please share for us all to enjoy.

Thanks for dropping in today and please feel free to share.. Sally

 

The Medicine Woman’s Larder – Olive Oil – Keep your engine running smoothly.


Medicine Womans larder

For many years fats were considered to be the baddy in the diet and recently it was interesting to see that for the vast majority of the population the difference between healthy and unhealthy fats was still a mystery despite all the health campaigns.

The right fats are essential for nearly all our bodily functions and they provide a massive amount of nutrients that play a vital role in the processes going on in our body 24 hours a day.

Lo and behold the ‘experts’ have now retracted their ill founded advice about dropping all fats and replacing with carbohydrates and low fat options in favour of a higher fat diet.. provided those fats are not trans fats in industrially produced foods.

Having said that, you cannot eat pounds of any fats, however healthy, without combining it with a balanced diet of vegetables, fruit, wholegrains, protein and exercise…

My favourite fat is olive oil and it is amazing how many health benefits there are in a tablespoon. Including this healthy fat in your diet on a daily basis in moderation provides the right fats needed by your body to function healthily and efficiently.

ESSENTIAL FATTY ACIDS (EFAs)

Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) are necessary fats that humans cannot synthesise and must be obtained through diet. There are two families of EFAs Omega-3 and Omega-6. Omega-9 is necessary but non- essential as the body can make it if the other two fatty acids are present.

EFAs are essential because they support our cardiovascular, reproductive, immune and nervous systems. We need these fats to manufacture and repair cells, maintain hormone levels and expel waste from the body. They are part of the process that regulates blood pressure, blood clotting, fertility and conception – and they also help regulate inflammation and stimulate the body to fight infection.

Omega-3 (Linolenic Acid) is the principal Omega-3 fatty acid and is used in the formation of cell walls, improving circulation and oxygen. A deficiency can lead to decreased immune system function; elevated levels of LDL (bad cholesterol) high blood pressure and irregular heartbeat.

Omega-6 (Linoleic Acid) is the primary Omega-6 fatty acid. Omega-6 can improve rheumatoid arthritis, PMS, skin problems such as eczema and psoriasis.

There is growing evidence that the non-essential Oleic acid, Omega‑9, may help to lower cholesterol by decreasing the unhealthy cholesterol, LDL (low-density lipoprotein), while at the same time raising the level of healthy cholesterol, HDL (high density lipoprotein).

Oleic acid is also emerging as a regulator of blood-sugar levels and as a possible protection against breast and prostate cancer. So, including half an avocado in your diet every day may well protect you from the harmful long-term effects of a number of diseases.

Olive oil is also an excellent source of Vitamin E and phenols.

VITAMIN E: TOCOPHEROL; As an antioxidant it protects cell membranes and other fat-soluble parts of the body such as LDL cholesterol from oxidative damage and blood vessels. It can be used topically for skin health and is involved in the reproductive system. It may help prevent circulatory problems that lead to heart disease and Alzheimer’s disease by preventing clots from forming. It improves the pulmonary function of the lungs and enhances the white blood cells ability to resist infection.

PHENOLS: are a large group of compounds that include flavonoids such as anthocyanin and quercetin, phenolic acids like ellagic acid, fibres such as lignans and vitamins. Many of these have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-clotting properties, all of which are known to benefit cardiovascular health.

olive oil

THE BENEFITS OF OLIVE OIL.

Extra virgin olive oil which is from the first pressing of the olives is the best oil to use as it contains higher levels of nutrients, particularly Vitamin E and phenols above. Recent research into the reasons why Olive oil extensively used in Mediterranean diets is so healthy has thrown up some interesting results.

In a human trial it was found that polyphenol- rich olive oil included in the diet improved the health of blood vessels which was not the case for another group of volunteers that included oil in their diet with the phenols removed. Obviously the healthier the blood vessels the more effective the entire circulatory system. It appears that the particular part of the blood vessel that is affected is the endothelium or inner lining of the blood vessels. The endothelium determines the interactions between the blood vessels and the immune, coagulation and endocrine systems. If the endothelium is not functioning correctly it can lead to calcification within the arteries and increased risk of heart disease and strokes. Another function of the endothelium is the release of vasodilators (increasing size of blood vessel) such as Nitric Oxide and vasoconstrictors (decreasing size of blood vessels) such as thromboxane and prostaglandin. Like any system in the body balance or homeostasis is required to ensure that blood pressure is regulated and the phenols in olive oil ensure that sufficient nitric oxide is produced to keep the arteries open and blood flowing.

OTHER RESEARCH AREAS.

Until now it has been difficult to isolate which component of this very nutrient rich oil was responsible for the health of Mediterranean populations. Recently however in America they have identified a previously unknown chemical that they have called oleocanthal that appears to have an extremely effective anti-inflammatory action. They have compared it favourably with over the counter pain relievers for inflammatory conditions such as ibuprofen. This is great news for sufferers of inflammatory diseases such as arthritis.

OTHER BENEFITS.

Olive oil is very well tolerated by the digestive system and is therefore beneficial for stomach ulcers and gastritis. The oil activates the secretion of bile and pancreatic hormones much more effectively than prescribed medication and therefore lowers the incidence of gallstone formation.

Two tablespoons of a day has been shown to lower oxidation of LDL (lousy cholesterol) in the blood whilst raising antioxidant levels such as Vitamin E.

It is suggested that including olive oil in your diet may also help prevent colon cancer and this provides an alternative to patients who are vegetarian and do not wish to include fish oils in their diet.

Including extra virgin olive oil every day in your diet is likely to protect you from diseases such as atherosclerosis, diabetes, asthma, breast cancer and arthritis.

THE BEST OIL TO BUY.

As I have always said the less processed a food is the better and olive oil is no exception. On the shelf you will find at least four different grades of oil.

Extra Virgin which is the best, least processed and most nutritional and comes from the first pressing. This should be your first choice and used for all cooking and dressings during your detox period.

Virgin is from the second pressing and should be your second choice.

Pure undergoes some processing such as filtering and refining and is a lesser grade oil.

Extra Light – has undergone considerable processing and only retains a small amount of nutrients or even olive taste. It is not officially classified as an olive oil and it was produced more for the “diet” culture than for taste or nutrition.

STORING OLIVE OIL.

Olive oil degrades in light and should be kept cook and tightly sealed. If it is exposed to air oxygen will turn it rancid. It is also better kept in a cupboard away from natural light and the best containers are ceramic jugs rather than glass or plastic bottles.

THE HEALTHIEST WAY TO USE OLIVE OIL.

It is better to use in its natural state on salads or vegetables. Use two to four tablespoons a day as a dip for wholegrain bread or drizzled over steamed vegetables or rice.

©sallycronin Just Food For Health 2007

 

 

Food Pharmacy – Brown Rice – packed with nutrients and fibre and helps rid your body of toxins.


There is quite a bit in the press about how eating grains can be harmful to your health. I do agree that a ‘white’ diet of refined grains every day does not provide the body with any basic nutrients except for sugars. However, whilst I am on the fence when it comes to wheat which has undergone so many natural and man-made changes in the last ten years, I do feel very strongly that some grains do belong in our diet and for very good reason. Apart from the nutritional content, fibre plays an important role in our lives and to be honest, brown rice is a staple that I keep in my larder the whole time and I always have at least a couple of tablespoons a day even if I am watching my weight. Here is why…..

As the body releases waste and toxins from the cells and tissues it will pass through to the intestines. There are some normal side effects that might occur as this takes place but if you include fibre, particularly brown rice the toxins will be removed quickly and efficiently, speeding up the detox process.

WHAT IS SO SPECIAL ABOUT BROWN RICE?

Of all rice – any form of brown rice will contain more of the nutrients as it loses only the outer layer of the grain called the hull. During the process that turns brown rice to white rice it loses 67% of its vitamin B3 (niacin) 80% of B1, 90% of B6 – half of its manganese and phosphorus, 60% of its iron and all the dietary fibre and essential fatty acids. Do you realise that to make white rice acceptable as a food it has to be artificially enriched with B1 B3 and iron? It is amazing the difference that processing a food can have on its nutritional content.

Brown rice is a very rich source of manganese –essential for blood health. It is also necessary for bone health and for it’s antioxidant capabilities in preventing damage to cells, particularly blood cells.

Brown rice is rich in fibre, which cleans the system of toxins and harmful deposits in the blood so helps keep your cholesterol down. Like oats it tends to release its energy slowly so maintaining stable blood sugar levels. The fibre is insoluble which means that it works through your system efficiently. This prevents some organs from getting into an overload situation like the liver and the bile duct – a speedy process through the system ensures that the bile duct does not secrete too much bile which can lead to gallstones.

Proteins like turkey are high in selenium but so is brown rice and it is very important for our immune systems and thyroid function – also to help prevent cancer as it encourages healthy DNA repair in the cells.

Magnesium is present in high quantities and this is associated with a number of systemic problems such as asthma – high blood pressure –migraine headaches and reducing the risk of heart attacks and strokes. Magnesium does this because it helps to regulate nerve and muscle tone by balancing the action of calcium. You will see that very often calcium supplements are teamed with magnesium.

Calcium tends to rush around frantically and needs magnesium to curb its enthusiasm. For example if allowed to, calcium will overwhelm the nerve cells in the muscles and they become over activated. This causes the muscle to overwork and wear out faster. This occurs if you have insufficient magnesium in your diet. Another reason that magnesium is so important is for bone health and about two thirds of the magnesium is found in the bones of the human body. The rest is stored for when needed. Brown rice provides nearly a quarter of your daily requirement in one serving.

The human body is over 100,000 years old. In that time the body has developed an incredible defence mechanism called the survival instinct. In some cases it is miraculous. It is only in recent centuries that we have begun to refine our grains.

Recent researchers are maintaining that we ate few carbohydrates in the form of grain but I do dispute this. We would have eaten anything in our path that was in the least bit edible and certainly wild grains would have been a seasonal addition to the meat and fish that were hunted.

So our bodies spent the first 99,900 years eating whole-grains including rice. Wheat only came along about 10,000 years ago. During those many thousands of years our bodies evolved a very precise dietary support system that provided it with everything it needed to survive and be the fittest. It was essential for the survival of mankind that only the fittest made it through. This ensured that each generation was stronger.

If you go back to what I was saying about the loss of nutrients in the processing of brown rice to white rice you can perhaps understand why we are now facing the sort of medical problems that we are. We are depriving the body of not just a food group but the essential nutrients and energy that they provide.

You do not have to eat a plateful every day -for rice I would suggest two large tablespoons – it is actually very nice to have a cereal bowl of white rice with some warm milk and a banana for breakfast if you prefer a non-savoury option.

Brown rice needs to be prepared a little carefully – don’t get the easy cook as this has been partly processed. I suggest the real stuff, but put in a large glass bowl before cooking with cold water to cover it and whisk as hard as you can – then drain and then repeat until the water is clear. This gets rid of dust etc.

It takes a little more boiling than white rice and check after about 20 minutes until you get a slightly chewy and nutty tasting grain.

Use for any other dish that you would cook rice for. Curry, risotto, paella or mixed through a salad.

 

You will find the other food pharmacy posts here.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/food-pharmacy/

©SallyCronin 2006

 

 

Food Pharmacy – Stops Vampires in their tracks and the inspiration behind breath mints! Onions and Garlic.


The last in my current Food Pharmacy blogs, next week Herbs – at certain times in my life I have found taking specific herbal remedies have allowed me to recover or to minimise symptoms of hormonal changes or minor infections.  However, today – foods that make a Vampire stop in his tracks and probably the inspiration behind breath mints!

ONIONS

Despite the current emphasis on healthy eating and weight, not many of us look at a plate of food and separate the ingredients out according to their nutritional or therapeutic benefits.  However, many foods have a long and distinguished history in natural medicine and the inclusion on a regular basis in your diet can bring many benefits.

One of the enormous benefits of living in Spain is the abundance of fresh fruit and vegetables available in supermarkets, most of which is sourced from within Spain and the Islands.  Despite my concerns about our modern diet, there is a positive, and that is with vastly improved transport links and methods, the same foods can be enjoyed in most countries in Europe.

Although the French may lay claim to being the ‘Onion Kings’, Spanish onions are well known for their pungent and flavourful addition to cooking around the world.

Onions and garlic fit well into the category of ‘Superfood’ as they are both nutritional and can influence health in a very positive way.

Despite any claims to the contrary, onions (Allium cepa) originated from Asia and the Middle East and have been grown for over 5,000 years.  They were even used by the Egyptians as a weekly wage for the workers who built the pyramids, not something they would get away with today.  They were sent into the afterlife with Pharaohs and used in this life by many different cultures to prevent a premature passage to the other side.  The Israelites apparently wandered the wilderness longing for the onions, leeks and garlic that they had left behind in Egypt, something to think about when you next pass them in the grocery section of the supermarket.

The onion is part of the Lily family, which includes garlic, leeks, welsh onions and chives.  The word onion comes from the old English word unyun derived from the French word oignon, which in turn came from the Latin unio.  There are words for the vegetable in ancient languages but none seems to be related to each other indicating how widespread the use of the vegetable was.

Onions have been used for thousands of years as a seasoning for otherwise bland food and today we can buy them all year round and use them raw or cooked in a wide variety of dishes.

HEALTH BENEFITS OF ONIONS.

The onion has a powerful sulphur-containing compound, which is responsible for the pungent odour and for the health benefits.  Onions contain allyl propyl disulphide, chromium, Vitamin C and flavonoids, the most beneficial being Quercitin.

Allyl propyl disulphide lowers blood sugar levels by competing with insulin, which is also a disulphide for space in the liver where insulin is normally deactivated.  This results in an increase in the amount of insulin available to move glucose into cells causing a lowering of blood sugar.  Chromium is a mineral that also helps cells respond efficiently to insulin, which in turn decreases blood sugar levels.  These two properties in the onion make it a vegetable worth including in our daily diet as we get older to help prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes.

Chromium has also been shown to improve glucose tolerance, lower insulin levels, and decrease total cholesterol levels whilst increasing levels of the healthy cholesterol (HDL).

The reduction in unhealthy cholesterol levels leads to reductions in blood pressure levels, which is of course a leading cause of cardiovascular disease. Eating onions with other foods with high levels of Bioflavonoids (tea, apples, broccoli, cranberry juice etc.) has been proven to reduce the risk of heart disease

Quercitin combined with Vitamin C work together to kill bacteria, which is why they are so valuable added to soups and stews during the cold and flu season.

There are other areas where eating onions regularly can reduce your risk on developing degenerative and sometimes life threatening diseases.  These include Colon cancer, Osteo and rheumatoid arthritis, asthma and other inflammatory diseases.

An exciting area of research into bone health has identified that a compound in onions with a mile long name but GPCS for short, may inhibit the activity of osteoclasts, which are the cells that break down bone. 

Onions also contain healthy amounts of other nutrients such as manganese, Vitamin B6, tryptophan, Folate, potassium, phosphorus and copper making onions a well-rounded nutrient source.

GARLIC

The garlic is a multi-bulb cousin to the onion.  Again originating in Asia it has been used for thousands of years as a pungent additive to food but also as a healing agent.  In recent years, its reputation has been validated by hundreds of research studies and like the onion; it is worth including in your diet very regularly.

Garlic contains many helpful compounds including thiosulfinates such as allicin, sulphates including alliin and dithins the most researched being ajoene.

Research has identified that garlic lowers blood pressure, decreases the ability of platelets to clump together forming clots, reduces blood levels of lousy cholesterol (LDL) whilst increasing levels of healthy cholesterol (HDL).  It also helps our blood vessels relax which prevents atherosclerosis, heart disease and the risks of heart attacks and strokes.

Garlic, like the onion is anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and anti-viral. With the current concerns that we have about potential ‘Super bugs’ it is interesting that garlic appears to be an effective antibiotic, even against some of these resistant strains.

Cancer protection is essential for all of us.  The compound ajoene might be effective in the treatment of skin cancer and eating two or more servings a week of garlic may help prevent colon cancer.

Allicin has also been researched in regard to weight loss, as there is some indications that in the laboratory at least, that this compound may inhibit weight gain.

As in the case of most spicy and pungent foods ‘less is more’ with this particular flavouring especially if you wish to maintain close relationships with family and friends.

 

http://auroralapetite.wordpress.com/2013/11/27/rich-onion-garlic-thyme-spaghetti/

http://fatisrecipes.wordpress.com/2011/05/23/glorious-garlic-prawns-and-vegetables-recipe/

http://dkscooks.wordpress.com/2013/08/22/savor-it-peppery-balsamic-onion-and-roasted-garlic-jam/

Thank you for following this series and from Monday it will be Herbs.