Monday, February 21, 2011

Is It Right To Eat Meat?

The question of vegetarian vs. meat-eating is a big question for many. There are many reasons people may choose to refrain from eating meat: health, environmental, economical and ethical.

What does the Bible have to say about eating meat? Interestingly, God didn’t give Adam and Eve meat in their diets. In Genesis 1:29, God says, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food.” He makes no mention of eating meat for food.

However, after the fall and the flood, God gives meat to Noah and his descendants for food. Genesis 9:2-3 says, “The fear and dread of you will fall on all the beasts of the earth, and on all the birds in the sky, on every creature that moves along the ground, and on all the fish in the sea; they are given into your hands. Everything that lives and moves about will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything.”

Now it is also important to know that food was not the first purpose animals were killed for. They were required first for clothing (Gen 3:21). After Adam and Eve sinned by eating the forbidden fruit they covered themselves with leaves but their covering was inadequate by God’s standards so God made suitable clothing for them out of skin. This could be interpreted as a foreshadowing of how blood of a lamb and ultimately the Lamb of God (Jesus) atones for sin.

So, the Bible does not forbid meat-eating, but it has more to say on the topic. For example, is it right for us to eat factory-farmed animals (which fill the shelves of our grocery stores) or only for traditionally raised animals? There is more to the ethic of meat eating than a simple yes or no.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Jamie Oliver: Teach every child about food

Here is a TED Talk from Jamie Oliver on Food. He shows the striking dangers of obesity for this generation, but more importantly for the next generation. The biggest killer in the United States (and Canada as well) is diet-related disease--that includes heart disease, cancer, stroke and diabetes. Oliver says that kids these days will live a life 10 years shorter than their parents because of their food. Somethings got to change.
Jamie Oliver's TED Prize wish: Teach every child about food | Video on

Monday, February 14, 2011

Love, Sweet Love

Does sweetness = love?

All around us we see, hear and experience things that tell us that sweetness means love, or that there is a connection between the two. Especially around this time of year with the ‘holiday of love’ we see all sort of heart shaped cookies and candies, boxes of truffles or chocolate roses. Do we need sugar to celebrate or experience love?

I had never really paid much attention to this connection until I came across something when reading “The New Detox Diet” by Elson M. Haas, M.D. In the chapter on sugar detoxification, Haas points out this connection and suggest a few explanations. First he explains that a baby’s first food is lactose (milk sugar). This time of breast feeding also shows love and care for the child, so this connection seems to start very early. He goes on to expose how children are rewarded and shown affection through receiving sweets. Even in our language this connection is evident. Haas gives a list of common terms of endearment, so here are a few: sweetie, sweetie pie, sweetheart, honey, sugar lips, sugar baby, honey bun and sugar plum.

Perhaps our craving for sweets shows that what we really crave is love. I beleive that the true source of love is God because only his love is perfect and unconditional.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Recipe: "Choose Your Own Adventure" Salad

One of my favourite salads to make! Very easy and versatile because you can use whatever you have on hand. Choose one of each below.

1) Spring Greens Mix: You can buy a mix or create your own. They often contain baby greens such as arugula, radicchio, spinach, mustard greens, mizuna and chicory.
2) Fruit: Some of my favourites are strawberries, pears, apples, mandarin oranges or dried cranberries. You can choose fresh, dried or canned.
3) Nut/Seed: Some of my favourites are pecan pieces, cashews, sliced almonds and sesame seeds.
4) Cheese: Some of my favourites are feta, warm brie and mozzarella.
5) Dressing:I usually use raspberry vinaigrette or poppy seed dressing. (For the best healthy salad, make your own dressing and avoid the refined oils and additives in the store-bought varieties)

Recipe: Breakfast Porridge (Serves 3-4)

(Recipe taken from Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon)

1 cup oats, rolled or cracked
1 cup warm filtered water plus 2 Tbsp whey, plain yoghurt, kefir or buttermilk (Those with milk allergies can use vinegar or lemon juice)
½ tsp sea salt
1 cup filtered water
1 Tbsp (freshly) ground flax seeds (optional)

For the best digestion and highest benefits, porridge should be soaked overnight or even longer. Once soaked, oatmeal cooks in about 5 minutes (that’s a pretty fast food).

Mix oats with 1 cup warm water mixture and soak in a warm place for 7 to 24 hours. When ready to cook, bring 1 cup additional water to a boil with sea salt. Add soaked oats, reduce heat, cover and simmer several minutes. Remove from heat, stir in optional flax and let stand for a few minutes. Add in butter or cream, as well as a small amount of a natural sweetener like maple syrup (not Aunt Jemima), maple sugar, raw honey, date sugar or Rapadura. You can also add apricot butter, chopped nuts (raw nuts, soaked and dehydrated) or dried unsweetened coconut.

Variations: Kamut, Spelt, Rye, Teff, Amaranth
You can try other grains besides oats. Prepare the same way, except Teff and Amaranth need 24 hours of soaking and Rye may need extra soaking and more water.

Some of My Variations
I enjoy adding in some fruit to my oatmeal, some blueberries (fresh or frozen) or some diced apple. Another natural sweetener I’ve tried is apple butter, which goes great with a dash of cinnamon as well. I always add chopped nuts (pecans, walnuts and almonds) because I need some protein in the morning to keep me going.

You may find the taste of the oatmeal a little sour at first because of the soaking (I did), so at the beginning you can add a little more sweetener and try to reduce it gradually. If you are trying to limit sugar in your diet, your taste buds will adapt and your “threshold” of sweetness will be lowered.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Do Yourself a Favour--Avoid the Cereal Aisle

I had some friends ask me why I don’t eat breakfast cereal anymore (or very rarely). I always thought breakfast cereal was a healthy choice to start my day, but once I learned how these flakes, puffs and O’s were made, I thought twice about pouring myself a bowl of cheerios (yes, even plain ones!)

Let me start by saying that breakfast cereals are marketed very well, but their advertising claims hold little truth. If you really want a breakfast that is heart healthy or high in fiber and nutrients look for food that is closer to its natural form.

Have you ever wondered how they turn corn into Corn flakes, or rice into Rice Krispies? Breakfast cereals are made from the extrusion process, which is basically pushing the raw materials through a hole to make it into a certain shape. However, in order to do this the grains are subjected to high temperatures and high pressures which destroys many nutrients, causes oils to go rancid, makes some proteins toxic and makes it harder to digest (Sally Fallon, Nourishing Traditions, pg. 454) Since they basically destroy the nutrition in the process, they add-in synthetic vitamins/nutrients as well as lots of sugar and flavoring. Another interesting yet scary tidbit is that breakfast cereals have caused rapid death in test animals (Fallon, p. 25, 468-469) but Kellogg’s won’t tell you that!

Since breakfast cereal is highly refined and most varieties contain a lot of added sugar, they are high on the Glycemic Index (GI) and cause your blood sugar to rise rapidly. A GI above 70 is considered high. Let’s look at a few well-known ones: Cheerios (74), Golden Grahams (71), Special K (72) Bran Flakes (74) (values taken from

A better breakfast alternative is traditional oatmeal. Not the little sugar-laden packages that you add water or micro, and not even quick-oats, but good old-fashioned rolled oats. They are better for your health, but also for your budget as they are a fraction of the price. See the recipe and ways to spice up your oatmeal!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

The Culprit: Sugar

Book Review – The New Sugar Busters!: Cut Sugar to Trim Fat by H. Leighton Steward, Sam Andrews (M.D.), Morrison Bethea (M.D.), and Luis Balart (M.D.)

This book unveils a truth that our modern society desperately needs to hear--sugar and refined grains are the culprits to many of our modern health dilemmas. (Disclaimer: I’m not saying sugar/refined grains are the only problem, but a big piece of the puzzle)

The fact is that health and medicine in the 21st century deals with chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease as well as cancer (and how many cancers are linked to obesity?!) These chronic diseases have skyrocketed just as our sugar intake has skyrocketed. Some interesting statistics from the U.S. department of agriculture reveal that in 1997 the average consumption of refined sugar was 154 pounds per person per year! (that’s just under ½ pound per day). To put that into perspective, in the early 1900’s the average refined sugar consumption was less than 20 pounds person per year.

This book takes a look at how eating sugar and refined grains causes one’s blood sugar to spike and then plummet and explains the role of insulin in an easy-to-understand way. To summarize, insulin is a hormone that controls blood sugar. So, when you eat a meal that causes your blood sugar to rise significantly, insulin kicks in and stores the glucose (sugar) into a chain called glycogen. Insulin also prevents the breakdown of fats. The problem arises when we are constantly refined foods, our blood sugar and insulin levels are elevated thus storing fat and not allowing the breakdown of fat in the body. This can also lead to insulin resistance or diabetes.

The Sugar Busters book uses the glycemic index (GI) which gives a numeric value to foods to indicate how they will affect one’s blood sugar. The Sugar Busters lifestyle advocates a diet composed of low-glycemic carbohydrates, such as high fibre vegetables and whole grains along with fat and protein. They suggest avoiding any refined sugar (includes many processed items), and white starches such as rice, bread, potatoes, flour, pasta and corn products. The idea is to keep your insulin levels on an even keel so you body can use up its stored fat.

One word of caution with this book is that it does not provide a thorough look at fats and oils to include in your diet. In fact, I believe it is misleading to some degree as they advise the use of canola oil (a genetically engineered oil). Canola oil has been marketed at a heart-healthy oil, but buyer-beware—it is far from that. As well they also do not give a thorough look at saturated fats, which are not the “bad fat” they are often made out to be. So all in all, look to another resource for advice on fats and oils (see my recommended book list).

Overall, the book is a good read for learning about the harmful effects of sugar and refined grains and will help you know how to maintain healthy blood sugar levels. It also contains recipes at the back for you to get started on your low-glycemic diet, not to be confused with a low-carb diet.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Chocolate Cravings?

While reading “Adrenal Fatigue” by James L. Wilson (see book review), I came across an interesting fact about what is behind chocolate cravings, especially for women at a certain time of the month! Our body craves chocolate when we are low on magnesium, because chocolate is high in magnesium. One of the ways magnesium is used in the body is in the manufacture of the hormone progesterone, so it is related to PMS symptoms.

Unfortunately, we start a downward cycle. Although we get the magnesium our body needs, caffeine-like substance, theobromine, tires our adrenal glands (whose job it is to balance the sex hormones). The increase in adrenal fatigue leads to increased PMS symptoms…and then (to our detriment) we eat more chocolate.

So when you are constantly craving chocolate, listen to your body’s need for magnesium but get it from another source. Some suggestions for foods high in magnesium are kelp, almonds, cashews, peas and beans, whole grains (not refined) and green leafy vegetables. You could also try taking a supplement. The author here suggests 400mg from ovulation to the first day of your cycle. But remember, a supplement isn't a replacement for nourishing food.