Rethink Your Drink Part 3: Healthy Cocktails

The new year has arrived, and many of us have finalized our resolutions list and are ready to put our plans into action for a flourishing year ahead. More often than not, we aim to focus on our health—and make up for any detrimental behaviors we participated in prior. And let’s face it—while some of us have become rather health-conscious over the past couple years; some of us have picked up or over-indulged in some less than desirable habits recently, especially considering the stress we’ve all been under (crazy times!). Let’s rethink that alcoholic drink into something that nourishes the body and spirit

It can seem difficult to cut back. There will always be a hard week, a reason to celebrate, a social function where drinks are flowing, an encounter with the in-laws (yikes!). You get the idea; things that prompt a drink are plentiful. But the health benefits of not only cutting back your alcohol intake, but replacing it with something that’s good for you are even more plentiful, and it doesn’t have to feel awkward or like you’re making a sacrifice.  

Let’s start with Kombucha! Kombucha is a great replacement for an alcoholic beverage when you’re craving a tangy, refreshing beverage. It’s made from a base of green or black tea and sugar, and is fermented from a week, up to a month. The fermentation process does produce a TRACE amount of alcohol. Less than 0.5%. But that process also creates that zingy flavor that pleases a refined palate with a little “kick.”

Kombucha is high in polyphenols—which promote gut, brain, and heart health. It’s also rich in B vitamins and contains compounds that in some studies have been associated with improved GI and liver function. Be careful to choose kombucha with no added sugar, or if you’re up for trying something new, you may enjoy making your own kombucha at home. 

If you enjoy the art and ritual of creating a cocktail, consider hand-crafting a delicious mocktail instead.  Make one for yourself after a long day and enjoy as you begin to wind down, or offer mocktails the next time you host a dinner for friends at your home! It’s fun to play around with ingredients and cater to your own personal taste. If you love to cook, up your game by pairing a thoughtfully crafted mocktail with your best dinner recipe.  Keeping it more simple, try serving some tacos and pair with this tasty and easy “margarita” recipe

Ice

4 lime wedges

1 ½ oz fresh lime juice

1 ½ oz fresh lemon juice

3 oz simple syrup

1 ½ oz sparkling water

2 tbsp kosher salt (I highly recommend the Margarita Sea Salt blend at Raja Goods! It’s a course, smoked chipotle salt)

Place salt on a plate and set aside. Place a lime wedge over the rim of your margarita glass, swiping it around the glass until the rim is wet. Turn the glass upside down, setting the rim into the salt. Repeat with a second glass. Pour lime juice, lemon juice, simple syrup, and sparkling water in a cocktail shaker filled with ice . Put the top on the cocktail shaker and shake to combine and chill.  Pour into glasses and garnish with a slice of lime.  Enjoy! 

Here at Raja Wellness and our new store, Raja Goods—we have a special love for mocktails. We offer blends made from high quality, adaptogenic herbs to be enjoyed along with their many health benefits.  Be sure to ask about our mocktails at your next visit! 

If you’re reluctant to miss out on your favorite spirits, you may want to check out www.ritualzeroproof.com. They offer replacements that taste just like the real thing! Add to a healthy mocktail and you won’t miss a bit of the flavor from your favorite drink. 

Remember, big improvements come from small adjustments. Consider rethinking your drink as a resolution this year. Cheers! 

I think it’s safe to say that we’ve all heard of (and many have experienced) the “winter blues.” Seasonal Affective Disorder, the slow-brewing storm of improper sleep, lack of motivation, increased anxiety, and the feeling that our happiness switch has been dimmed, is the result of fewer daylight hours—affecting our circadian rhythm and serotonin output, all typically during the busiest time of the year. Here we are, showing up to work and family events, conjuring up all of the energy we have to make hors’ d'oeuvres for the holiday potluck while checking off our shopping lists, keeping up our day-to-day chores, making travel plans, working overtime, etc….all while we try our best to hide our fatigue and lackluster zest for life. Seasonal Affective Disorder is only reported to affect about 10% of the population, but the reality is that the changing of the season, cold dreary weather, and increased daily demands put a lot of us in “overdrive” mode—much more of us than the 10% reported.

At Raja Wellness, we understand the importance of self-care during this season, and we are here to help you through it.  Here are a few things we have to offer that can help to significantly improve the “winter blues” along with some proactive things you can do at home: 

#1: Move Your Body 

Yes, as you’ve heard time and time again, one of the best ways to improve your mood is to get moving! Outside exercise during the day is optimal since you can get some sunshine in as well, but indoor exercise will also help improve feelings of gloom.  You don’t have to have a gym membership, or even a whole lot of extra time each day.  Setting aside 10-15 minutes for a quick and easy routine can work wonders when done consistently. 

There are so many ways to incorporate more movement into your daily life without it taking time away from the rest of your responsibilities. You may choose to follow along to a YouTube video based on your current fitness level, spend a little extra time outdoors walking a local trail or playing a sport, park further away than usual at the grocery store, or even break out in a song and dance while folding laundry.  When able to make the extra time, in-person classes not only offer socialization, but extra support and individual attention as well.  

We’re also excited to announce that our newest member of the Raja Wellness team, Nikki Prell, is now offering yoga classes at our Magnolia location! These classes focus on breath, mindfulness, and gentle movement. 

To view schedule and join us, BOOK HERE

Or,  for at-home gentle exercise, check out qigong18.com

#2: Soak Up Some Rays!

The sun DOES still come out in the winter!  It may not be bathing suit weather, but a little sunlight goes a long way to helping to offset the winter blues, even when we’re bundled up and trying to stay warm. When you’re indoors, consider opening the blinds for natural lighting. Natural sunlight helps to regulate our sleep-wake cycles, which are thrown off when the shorter winter days roll in.

When we spend more time indoors and out of the cold, our daily dose of vitamin D is decreased. Actual direct sunshine is the best way to supply Vitamin D— the “sunshine vitamin”, which is produced naturally in the body when the skin is exposed to UV light. It plays a critical role in our overall health, and helps the body to function at its best. 

#3: Eat Healthy Foods that Nourish the Body! (and keep track of it!)

A good idea in general, if we’re being honest.  Eating healthfully and mindfully has so many important health benefits—and improving your mood is one of them! Have you ever tracked your eating habits by keeping a food journal (or using a food-tracking app)? This is an excellent way to not only give yourself a visual of what you’re taking in and where you can make adjustments, but also to help identify and eliminate the things that make you feel sluggish, bloated, possibly even a little cranky. When tracking your food intake, be sure to make a note of how you feel after each meal or snack.  

Incorporating foods rich in Vitamin D can be helpful in fighting off the winter blues. Some of these foods include: 

  • Fatty fish
  • Mushrooms
  • Egg yolks
  • Red meat
  • Liver

#4 Do you REALLY know how your body reacts to certain foods? Are you aware of what nutrients your body is deficient in? Do you know what your body needs so that you feel your best? The truth is, that there is no one perfect cookie cutter diet for everyone.  We all have our individual needs, sensitivities, and beliefs—While mindfulness and tracking your intake can be helpful, if you need a more personalized approach in your journey to feeling better (and improving your mood!) through diet, check out our trusted partner, Sakina Bunch.  Sakina is a Holistic Coach and Wellness advocate, and can help get you back on track through personalized nutrition coaching, cooking classes, and more!

#5 Find out how holistic therapies can help you navigate the winter blues! 

Acupuncture, herbal medicine, Frequency Specific Microcurrent, reiki, and even aromatherapy can help significantly reduce feelings of stress, depression, and anxiety. By bringing the body back into balance and releasing feel-good endorphins, your mood will be lifted as will your sense of well-being. To find out more about these therapies and how they can help you, book a free 15 minute consultation with us here!

Small, consistent changes can help to boost your mood and support your overall health.  Consider putting these suggestions into action and see what improvements follow!  

Each year as the days get short and colder, how to stay well comes to the front of many people's minds. Here is a summary of my favorite winter wellness practices:

1.) Supplement Vitamin D: Because of where we live, it is impossible to get vitamin D from the sun right now. Even on those rare warm sunny days—the angle of the sun at our latitude makes it a poor source of natural vitamin D. There is so much research out there on the topic, and admittedly, it can be confusing because the study results are mixed, but over and over again when looking at hospitalizations due to infections—low vitamin D levels seem to be prevalent among those who end up in the hospital. In the absence of any research showing a risk of vitamin D supplementation—especially when you check it to be sure you are in the normal ranges, I fall on the side of supporting supplemental D and personally prefer the liquid supplements for ease of use and ability of the body to utilize them. Metagenics has a great liquid product with a slightly minty taste or for those who need or prefer a Vegan Source—Pure Encapsulations has an excellent option.  There are foods that are high in D as well including: cold-water fish like salmon, herring and sardines, egg yolks, and mushrooms. Cod liver oil is another great source of vitamin D and I love the quality of the Standard Process products.

Speaking of sunlight, or lack of it, this is a time of year when many people struggle with mood changes. Full-spectrum lights, even just a desk sized one can give a huge boost in mood to those who struggle with Seasonal Affective Disorder or even just minor mood drops with the long, dark nights. People who work late shifts also can benefit from these lights throughout the year to offset the lack of sunlight they may struggle with due to trying to get enough sleep.

2) Stay Active: Exercise is so important to immune function—so as the weather gets cold and it's harder to get outside, find ways to be more active. This is a great time of year to try a class like yoga, tai chi, dance or even working with a personal trainer. Don't know where to start? Give us a call and we can recommend one of our classes, or help connect you with some of the great trainers in the area. Just 20-30 minutes per day of exercise has tons of benefits and will help with all aspects of your health. 

3) Use immune boosting herbs like elderberry, echinacea or andrographis for those times when you will be around a lot of people, are under additional stress, or the kids come home with a cold. I prefer elderberry for kids and for adults on medications because it is safe with most medications, gentle for kids and easy to get in gummies that are easy to take.  Echinacea is great for adults, especially those who tend to get respiratory infections. Some people have been told to take it once they get sick, but research shows it is most effective taken as a preventative.  This is an herb where quality of production is really important. Real echinacea will make your tongue tingle if you take a tincture or hold the capsule in your mouth for a little bit.  If your tongue doesn't tingle, it's not the real deal.  For this reason we love MediHerb's products.  Andrographis is another powerhouse and is often combined with Echinacea as in MediHerb's Andrographis Complex. This is my favorite for personal use, but it's important to note that if you do take this one for more than a week or two at a time you should add a little supplemental zinc because andrographis does increase the rate at which your body uses zinc.

Teas are another option for adding some herbal vitality to your diet but in general will be a lower dosage and more gentle option. These are great for people taking medications, kids, and those who are more sensitive in general to the effects of herbs or medications. Elderberry is the most tasty tea option, but there are some blends with echinacea that are palatable, if not "yummy" to drink (remember that tongue tingle—it's a very unique sensation!). Buddha Teas makes some great winter blends with elderberry, hibiscus (naturally high in C and antioxidants).

Those are my main vitamins and herbs for prevention—I don't typically recommend taking zinc or vitamin C daily because most people get enough of those with a healthy diet from food and generally only need extra when they are sick. If you are taking prescription meds, I do recommend reaching out to us to be sure your prescriptions are safe with any supplements you want to take. Part of our training as herbalists includes understanding the pharmacology of the herbs so we can be aware of potential interactions. 

If you have a fullscript account with us, you can find the links to order the products I mentioned here: https://us.fullscript.com/protocols/rajawellness-immune-boosting-protocol

 If you don't have an account you can use that same link to create one.

Yours in Wellness,

Jenny-Marie

We are often asked if acupuncture can help with allergies - up to a couple of years ago I would have said yes! Regular acupuncture treatments and herbs can make allergy season a breeze but it helps to be proactive and start a little before your "bad time of year" starts - over time, those reactions would diminish and the allergies would greatly improve. But that was before I learned Soliman's Auricular Allergy Treatment (SAAT) from Dr. Nadir Soliman. This technique is amazingly effective at calming allergies of all kinds - seasonal allergies, food allergies, skin allergies, even the dreaded alpha gal allergy which can leave people severely allergic to all mammal products. I often combine herbs and homeopathic remedies with this technique for seasonal allergies to reduce the number to sessions patients need but this is one of our most popular treatments.

So what is alpha gal anyways? We have a great video about alpha gal here. The short version is some species of ticks have a molecule in their saliva, a form of alpha galactose, that can cause people to develop an allergy to the molecule after being bit. Unfortunately most mammal products have this same molecule and this causes them to also have reactions to common foods like beef, pork and dairy or even just being around dogs, cats or horses. The reactions can be mild from slight itching or a stomach ache to severe pain, massive hives or even life-threatening anaphylaxis. With SAAT we have over a 95% success rate in calming these reactions. But SAAT isn't just for alpha gal allergies - we have seen people for allergies to milk, peanuts, soy, chemicals in perfumes, food dyes, even sunlight and water. It doesn't seem to matter what the allergy is, SAAT remains very effective. 

This is not a technique all acupuncturists learn. It's a specialized technique and it's important to see someone who has been certified by Dr. Soliman as an approved provider. When asking about SAAT it's not just about the money. Talk to the provider about their experience, how they handle it if something doesn't work. We all have somewhat different approaches in how we incorporate this into our practices. Things I would ask is: What base things do they check for alpha gal? Just alpha gal, alpha gal and dairy and some mammal meats? I don't want people to have to come back for multiple trips if we "miss something" that is common with alpha gal so my alpha gal screening has increased from alpha gal, mammal meats, dairy and gluten to all of those plus MCAS, MCAS autoimmune antibodies, carrageenan, magnesium stearate, whey, milk and a broader dairy filter plus a wheat mix that includes more than gluten. Then ask about do they charge by the needle, or for the procedure? We charge by the procedure because often one needle will catch more than one substance. Ask if they re-check after the needles are out or if you just try things on your own. We try to re-check in the office whenever possible. If they do re-check - what's the policy if something that was treated isn't clear. Is it a new fee, reduced fee or no fee? A very small percentage of the time something needs to be redone in our experience. Ask about the policy if things seem fine for a while and then you start having reactions again - in our experience it's almost always something new if it's an allergy but MAST Cell can get triggered again in some people. We don't charge to re-check and see if something we treated for is causing an issue - Dr. Soliman says he's not treated the same allergy twice using this technique, and so far that's been true but I want people to know that they can come in for help if it seems like things aren't working. It's not going to be 100% in all people where you can eat mammal with abandon, but in terms of reducing reactions, improving quality of life, and making life with alpha gal less stressful I firmly believe SAAT is a worthwhile investment. When left untreated, alpha gal seems to get worse with time in many people leading to chronic low grade (or high grade) inflammatory responses that just make you not feel good. It is extremely rare when we can't significantly help people with alpha gal or other allergies.

Here's another great blog post about treatment for alpha gal.  We regularly have excellent results with it - and remember - it's not just for alpha gal, it can be used with any allergy!

http://freerangehome.com/new-hope-alpha-gal-allergy-sufferers/?fbclid=IwAR0qSz07N_kMWzz37vfkG4ROqjumn6v9PXwVtxVk6h-ukXxhwvmuFRzTwSo

Hi, Jenny-Marie here at Raja Wellness and today I’m going to address a question we hear frequently in our clinic: “What vitamins should I take to keep my immune system healthy?”

Now like anything else that pertains to nutrition and herbal medicine, the answer is, “That depends”. There really isn’t a one-size fits all vitamin because we are all unique bodies with a number of factors that will influence our needs. Age, gender, exercise habits, stress-levels, type of work, and where you live can greatly influence what your body needs. However, there are a couple of key vitamins that are generally going to be safe for most people and help your immune system to function at its best.

One product that I recommend to most people is something called Catalyn by Standard Process. This product was developed to offset the nutritional gaps in most people’s diets that started to happen when eating organ meats - like liver and kidneys - fell out of favor in our culture. Liver and kidney are full of Vitamin A, Vitamin B12, Riboflavin, Folate, heme iron (the kind you body can easily use), copper and choline. All of these contribute to your health and B6 in particular has many important functions in supporting the immune system. The best option would be to include liver in your diet and I have a surprisingly tasty recipe from my Grandmother that you can find here. For those people who don’t want to do that, Catalyn is a great option. It does contain animal products and is not appropriate for anyone with an alpha gal allergy or those who don’t want to consume animal products- for them, a product called Floradix is a plant-based liquid supplement that is a good alternative.

Depending on where you live, vitamin D may be in short supply - those of us at higher latitudes have less time during the year when the sun is high enough in the sky for us to get adequate sunlight to trigger our bodies’ production of vitamin D. Others may not be as efficient at producing it; things like stress and diet may actually deplete your natural levels of vitamin D. This is an easy test to get via bloodwork from your physician to check your levels and be sure you aren’t getting too much or too little. If you do need a little extra, I prefer the liquid forms of vitamin D for ease of absorption. Metagenics makes a great liquid D with 1000 IU’s in each drop and has a refreshing subtle minty taste. Again, this is not going to be a good supplement for any one with an alpha gal allergy, or who is avoiding products derived from animal sources. However, we do carry a liquid vitamin D that is derived from lichen (which is a symbiotic association of algae and fungi) by Pure Encapsulations.

Next is Vitamin C, which if you eat plenty of dark leafy greens, bell peppers and citrus - you should get enough from your diet. However, in times of stress, your body may need more of this than you can easily get from food, and there is some evidence that higher doses may help your body fight off invaders. Vitamin C has a short half-life in the body and if you get too much of it can cause diarrhea as the body dumps the excess. I like using lower doses of pure ascorbic acid in a loose form myself so I can take more frequent, smaller doses when needed. However, a 500mg capsule gives good dosing options to people. There are buffered forms of ascorbic acid available and these work better for some people than the pure ascorbic acid. Buffered forms of vitamin C work by binding ascorbic acid with minerals to reduce stomach upset. As long as the capsules are vegetarian - Vitamin C is generally safe for those with alpha gal allergies or who avoid animal products.

Lastly is calcium, which we all know is good for the bones - but it also plays an important role in our immune system and defending against viruses in particular. For this purpose, I like Calcium Lactate from Standard Process which comes in a form your body can use very, very quickly. Again, not suitable for those with alpha gal allergies or who avoid animal products - but Pure Encapsulations has a vegan Calcium-D-Glucarate that is a good alternative option. Tofu is also an excellent vegan source of calcium and p lants high in calcium include black-eyed peas and dark leafy greens.

So as always, these are general recommendations and we welcome any questions and can offer virtual consults if needed to address your specific concerns. Be sure to review any changes in your supplements with your doctor.

In Part 1, I wrote about why many of the drinks waiting on store shelves really aren’t good for you because of the sugar in them. I didn’t really touch on the chemicals in them that we might be concerned about, but let’s just say most drinks you can buy aren’t good for you. It’s that simple. Even water can be a concern because of the leaching of chemicals from the plastic- in many cases, we don’t know if they are bad but we also can’t say they are good because it simply hasn’t been studied long-term. So what to drink? Many patients fear that giving up sweet drinks means a life of drinking only water. Never fear, there is hope! Welcome to the wonderful world of teas and tisanes.

Studies have found that some teas may help with cancer, heart disease, and diabetes; encourage weight loss; lower cholesterol, and bring about mental alertness. Tea also appears to have antimicrobial qualities.

“There doesn’t seem to be a downside to tea,” says American Dietetic Association spokeswoman Katherine Tallmadge, MA, RD, LD. “I think it’s a great alternative to coffee drinking. First, tea has less caffeine. It’s pretty well established that the compounds in tea – their flavonoids – are good for the heart and may reduce cancer.”

There is significant literature on the health benefits of tea that I won’t repeat here, but the short version is for most people teas and tisanes are a healthy beverage choice with many varieties and flavors to choose from.

Let’s start with tisanes since most of you are already familiar with teas. Tisanes have no caffeine and depending on the ingredients you choose can have a wide variety of health benefits. The challenge is finding the ingredients locally because many haven’t made their way mainstream yet. Some Asian or international markets will have some. We carry some of these harder to find tisane ingredients for sale in loose form for our communities. They can be brewed and enjoyed hot or cold. In addition to many varieties made from herbs and fruits, a popular tisane is a rooibos. Rooibos teas are a naturally sweet and sometimes nutty herbal tea made from the South African Red Bush. The rooibos tea processing method involves harvesting the red bush leaves, followed by grinding and bruising of the leaves.

Most grocery stores have a wide selection of tisanes (or herbal teas). I recommend reading the labels and selecting those that are organic and without synthetic ingredients. You can even make your own at home from dried or fresh mint, organic citrus peels, fresh ginger, cinnamon...the options are endless.

Teas come in so many varieties- there is a whole world of flavors to explore. Here’s a quick summary of types, all are made from the Camellia sinensis plant:

Black tea made by a process of withering then rolling the tea leaves followed by a long period of fermentation. Then the black tea leaves are fired resulting in a loose leaf black tea with a complex yet recognizable smell and full-bodied, strong flavor.

  • Black tea - made by a process of withering then rolling the tea leaves followed by a long period of fermentation. Then the black tea leaves are fired resulting in a loose leaf black tea with a complex yet recognizable smell and full-bodied, strong flavor.
  • Oolong tea - A variety of black tea where after the tea leaves are picked, they are intentionally bruised by shaking. While the leaves are drying, the edges of the bruised leaves turn reddish in color and the surface becomes light yellow due to fermentation and oxidation. After some fermentation period, the tea leaves are pan-fried to create a semi-fermented tea.
  • Green tea - the tea leaves are picked, dried, and heat - treated to stop fermentation of the leaves. The heat treatment for Chinese green tea consists of roasting the tea leaves in a hot roasting pan whereas Japanese green tea is steamed. After moisture is removed through the heat treatment, the tea leaves are typically rolled and dried again before ready for use. Chinese green tea produces a yellowish green liquor and toasted taste while Japanese green tea is dark green in color and has a grassy taste.
  • White tea - made from the tea buds and youngest tea leaves. It is the least processed of all teas—the tea leaves are simply steamed and then dried. White tea has very little caffeine and brews a light color and flavor. White teas can be appreciated for their subtlety, complexity, natural sweetness, and delicacy.
  • Purehh tea - in which the tea leaves undergo microbial fermentation and oxidation after they are dried and rolled. Purehh teas have a strong taste and sometimes even a smoky flavor. Traditionally they are believed to help digestion, especially after a heavy meal.

Need some inspiration for your own teas or tisanes? Here are some of my favorites:

  • For stress relief (especially during the summer): Goji Berries & Chrysanthemum Flowers (for variety may be a few rose petals and ginkgo leaves)
  • For sugar cravings without the sugar: Licorice root, dried longan fruit & cinnamon
  • To cool off on a hot day: Mint & dried longan fruit
  • To satisfy that craving for a chai tea without all the sugar: 1 C coconut milk, 1t cinnamon, 1/2t turmeric, dash each of nutmeg and cayenne- bring to a gentle simmer, add a touch of honey if desired
  • To warm the digestion: 1” fresh ginger root thinly sliced, 1 small cinnamon stick or 1t ground cinnamon- simmer for 5-10 min, cool slightly and enjoy! If you add a few goji berries or dried longan fruit you won’t need any sugar at all.
  • For a mild headache: a combination of gingko leaves, green tea and chrysanthemum flowers
  • For women’s health & fertility: red raspberry leaf, goji berries, nettle leaf, red clover and rosehips

If you need help selecting a tisane specifically designed to support your health needs let us know during your next appointment! Do you regularly drink teas or tisanes? What is your favorite?


References:

Tea: A drink made by steeping the leaves of a type of Camellia sinensis in hot water.
Tisane: An infusion of leaves or flowers used as a beverage, e.g. an herbal tea.

http://www.webmd.com/diet/features/tea-types-and-their-health-benefits

What do you reach for when you are thirsty? Is it a cold soda? An energy drink to get you through the afternoon? Or as many people do around here in Kentucky, a nice tall cup of sweet tea? Did you ever stop to think about what’s in your drink? Are those artificial colors and flavors, the amount of caffeine and the sugar (most often as high fructose corn syrup) really good for you? When you look at the numbers on the label is it really all that bad? What’s wrong with a little sugar in your drink?

This post gives a great summary of what happens when that 20oz of soda hits your body. That 20oz of soda has about the equivalent of ⅓ of a cup of sugar. Would you ever just sit down and eat ⅓ of a cup of sugar? And sometimes the drinks that look the healthiest may have the most sugar. Many fruit smoothies have more sugar than 10 glazed doughnuts!

Now I imagine my diet soda drinking readers are feeling good about their no sugar choice but not so fast! It’s well documented that drinking diet soda is correlated with increased risks of metabolic syndromes and cardiovascular disease.

So how about a nice glass of wholesome juice? It’s natural and can have good nutrients in it if you get the kind without added sugars, so it must be good, right? The key is how much. All fruit is high in fructose but when you eat the whole fruit you get the fiber with it which modulates its effect. Fruit juice is a straight shot of fructose and unlike glucose which can be used by every cell in the body, fructose can only be processed in the liver. Fructose is taken straight to the liver where it is metabolized into free fatty acids (FFAs), VLDL (the damaging form of cholesterol), and triglycerides, which get stored as fat. When you eat 120 calories of glucose, less than one calorie is stored as fat. 120 calories of fructose results in 40 calories being stored as fat. Turns out those little juice glasses used by your grandparents and great-grandparents were about the right size for a healthy serving of juice and more is not better.

So what’s with all these sugars and why do we care? When fructose combines with glucose, it makes sucrose. Sucrose is abundant in sugar cane, sugar beets, corn, and other plants. When extracted and refined, sucrose makes table sugar. “In the 1800s and early 1900s, the average American took in about 15 grams of fructose (about half an ounce), mostly from eating fruits and vegetables. Today we average 55 grams per day (73 grams for adolescents). The increase in fructose intake is worrisome, says Lustig, because it suspiciously parallels increases in obesity, diabetes, and a new condition called the nonalcoholic fatty liver disease that now affects up to one-third of Americans.”

And it turns out for many people there are two main sources of fructose and glucose in our diets: processed foods (even those that aren’t sweet like canned soup) and drinks. This means options for a healthy drink when eating out are often limited to water or unsweetened iced tea. So what to drink? Time to explore the wonderful world of teas and tisanes - which will be in our next article!


References:

http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/is-there-a-link-between-diet-soda-and-heart-disease-201202214296http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/is-fructose-bad-for-you-201104262425

Not all of our parents grew up with this, but odds are your grandparents and great-grandparents probably regularly ate this dish. I didn’t grow up eating it, but I did cook it quite regularly in my early 20’s for my grandmother. As she got older we couldn’t trust her with the stove, not after she tried boiling water in a Tupperware on the stove top. But she loved food and whenever I would visit I would make anything she asked me to and always it was “liver and onions please!” She lit up when I said, “Sure, whatever you want, but you have to teach me because I’ve never made it.”. She couldn’t get it in restaurants, but she loved it and it turns out there was a good reason for her too.

The liver is packed with nutrients that are readily accessible to our bodies, especially when we need to build new blood. I learned just how much it can do first hand when I was exposed to chemicals that triggered hemolytic anemia (destruction of my red blood cells)- I would crave meat and I could literally eat pounds of rare meat per day.  If I ate some liver and onions during this time I didn’t need nearly as much meat because my body was getting so much more.

A common rejection of eating liver is the idea that the liver is a storage organ for toxins in the body. This isn’t a complete picture- one of the liver’s roles is to neutralize toxins (such as drugs, chemical agents, and poisons), but it does not store these toxins. Toxins the body cannot eliminate are likely to accumulate in the body’s fatty tissues and nervous systems. The liver stores many important nutrients such as vitamins A, D, E, K, B12 and folic acid, and minerals such as copper and iron. These nutrients provide the body with some of the tools it needs to get rid of toxins. Check out the table below to see how liver compares to muscle meat, apples and carrots when it comes to nutrition. As with any meats I highly recommend organic, free range and grass-fed sources!  Heartland Whole Life in downtown E'Town has them- including liver.  You can also find it at many COOPs, Whole Foods, and some Trader Joes.

Yuck factor- High if you don't cook it right- when prepared correctly it's actually quite good but if you still don't like it you can grind it in with muscle meat and make spaghetti sauce, meatballs, hamburgers, etc. with it.  I have served it this way too many unsuspecting people who hate liver so much they can "taste it in anything" but were willing to let me try to fool them. And I did- they loved it.

Prep: thaw overnight and remove the membrane from the edge of the meat with a sharp knife, soak 2-4 hours or all day in raw milk or lemon juice in the fridge.

Cook liver in a skillet over med heat with coconut oil or bacon grease until pink in the center is faint- do not overcook.  I slowly sauté onions and garlic in a separate pan which takes about an hour but requires little attention so I start them and do other chores while they cook and then cook the liver after the onions are golden and caramelized.   To make onions: Peel and slice 3-6 onions (they reduce by about half while cooking), add fat of choice- I use 1T coconut oil and 1T butter or bacon grease- in cast iron skillet cook over low heat for 45min to an hour or more (if more onions) until onions are browned and caramelized. I stir them every 5-10min- whenever I pass by the stove while doing other things.  I also add 4-6 cloves of garlic to my onions as well- usually whole because I'm too lazy to slice them and I like their taste. If you like mushrooms adding some sliced to the pan at the beginning and allowing them to caramelize as well as divine.

Serve immediately!  I usually pair the liver and onions with roasted veggies (coarsely chop veggies, drizzle with olive oil and spices, roast at 350 for 45 min) and a cup of hot spicy bone broth to drink.

Soaking is the key- I never understood why my grandmother insisted on soaking it when I would cook for her until I tried cooking it without soaking it. YUCK!!!  Some people say to bread it and fry it- on the theory that anything tastes well fried...but regardless of how you make it, this is a food that should be a regular on your dinner table. Here are some other recipes and tips I found useful for cooking the liver. What’s your favorite liver dish?

http://allrecipes.com/recipe/absolute-best-liver-and-onions/

http://www.nourishingdays.com/2010/06/four-tips-for-cooking-liver-that-had-my-husband-going-back-for-seconds/

 APPLE (100 g)CARROTS (100 g)RED MEAT (100 g)BEEF LIVER (100 g)
Calcium3.0 mg3.3 mg11.0 mg11.0 mg
Phosphorus6.0 mg31.0 mg140.0 mg476.0 mg
Magnesium4.8 mg6.2 mg15.0 mg18.0 mg
Potassium139.0 mg222.0 mg370.0 mg380.0 mg
Iron.1 mg.6 mg3.3 mg8.8 mg
Zinc.05 mg.3 mg4.4 mg4.0 mg
Copper.04 mg.08 mg.18 mg12.0 mg
Vitamin ANoneNone40 IU53,400 IU
Vitamin DNoneNoneTrace19 IU
Vitamin E.37 mg.11 mg1.7 mg.63 mg
Vitamin C7.0 mg6.0 mgNone27.0 mg
Thiamin.03 mg.05 mg.05 mg.26 mg
Riboflavin.02 mg.05 mg.20 mg4.19 mg
Niacin.10 mg.60 mg4.0 mg16.5 mg
Pantothenic Acid.11 mg.19 mg.42 mg8.8 mg
Vitamin B6.03 mg.10 mg.07 mg.73 mg
Folic Acid8.0 mcg24.0 mcg4.0 mcg145.0 mcg
BiotinNone.42 mcg2.08 mcg96.0 mcg
Vitamin B12NoneNone1.84 mcg111
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