Category Archives: Wellness

 Tom’s Salmon in Fragrant Coconut Milk

Serves 4

This is a one pot dish that’s a show stopper. Slightly undercook the fish. As it sits for a minute or two it will finish in broth. Then serve with rice.

Ingredients

16oz salmon filet

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 tomatoes, quartered

1 red onion, diced small

10 curry leaves

2 green chilies

1 inch cubed fresh ginger, peeled and sliced

4 crushed garlic cloves

¼ teaspoon turmeric powder

¼ teaspoon red kashmir chili powder

7oz coconut milk

7oz water

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 tablespoon vinegar

salt

Directions

Heat the vegetable oil in a large frying pan.  Add the diced red onion to hot oil and sauté.  Add the garlic and ginger and sauté until brown.  Add the chopped tomatoes and continue to sauté.  Season with a pinch of salt, then add the sliced green chilies, turmeric powder and red chili powder.  Last, add the curry leaves and 7oz of water.

Quarter the salmon into cubes and add to the pan.  Let cook for a minute or two, then turn the salmon and continue to cook for an additional 3 minutes.  Add the coconut milk, lemon juice and a touch of vinegar.  Continue to simmer for 2 to 3 minutes.

Serve with basmati rice.

Protein Supplements

Personal trainers in gyms often recommend extra protein in the form of powders and bars to boost muscle mass and improve performance. Does the average person need this extra protein, does it work as promised, and are there any downsides to consuming all that extra protein?

Two main sources for the protein in manufactured supplements are milk and soy.

1.       Whey protein is derived from milk.

2.       Soy protein from soy beans.

Do they improve muscle mass and performance? The research has shown mixed results and the evidence is not strong enough to be certain that this kind of protein makes any difference.

The average person in the USA is not suffering from a lack of protein. It is easy to get adequate protein from readily available actual food without the need to resort to supplements. Plus, real foods come with vitamins, antioxidants and more.

What might be the risk from taking extra protein?

1.       The Food and Drug Administration does not check the safety of supplements with the same scrutiny as medications, so you must fully trust the manufacturer that their products are safe and accurately labelled. You can check for supplements that are known to be tainted at FDA.

2.       There are many possible side effects. See the Mayo Clinic’s list here and for soy here.

3.    Supplements may contain other ingredients that are supposed to increase muscle mass such as creatinine or androstenedione. A recent study looking at these kinds of muscle building supplements found an increased risk of testicular cancer among men.

4.       Commercial body-building supplements can be expensive, may even cost hundreds of dollars each month.

5.       You might end up gaining fat from the extra calories in protein shakes and bars, especially if sugar has been added to boost their palatability.

6.       This is not just about you, as there is also a potential risk to the environment. Is it even possible to know the chain of industrial processes that go in to producing protein supplements? What is the carbon footprint of the manufacture of these products and are they derived from organic milk and soy beans?

Why trust industrial profit-driven companies to provide your body with nutrition? Why not eat and drink fresh food, preferably from local farms? It may mean a little more work to chop and cook, but the food will be nutritious and there definitely is evidence that fresh foods are beneficial to health. If you feel the need for extra protein, why not just simply eat more protein rich foods such as eggs, beans, milk, yoghurt, cheese, tofu, or meat.

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No-added sugar Chia pudding for two

Ingredients
  •  1/2 cup full-fat plain yoghurt
  • Juice of ½ Meyer lemon or ½ orange
  • ¼ teaspoon of orange flower water
  • 2 chopped dates
  • ¼ cup chia seeds
  • 1 tablespoon chopped pistachios

Mix together everything except the pistachios. Divide the pudding between 2 bowls. Top with chopped nuts and chill for 8 hours.

I make this in the morning after breakfast and it’s ready at dinnertime. It is a great recipe to play with using the mixture of yoghurt and chia as a base with the dates to bring sweetness. I have also made it with lime juice and some toasted coconut, or with a sprinkle of ground cardamom and without the citrus juice.

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Gluten sensitivity–can we believe the hype?

Each year US consumers buy $2.5 billion  dollars worth of gluten-free products. It may be that up to 20% of Americans are living gluten-free.

Why do people decide to go gluten-free? Less than 1% of the population are diagnosed with celiac disease. Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease affecting genetically predisposed individuals that is triggered by consuming gluten. The treatment is to avoid gluten the in the diet. Some people may have a food allergy to wheat, but wheat allergies are very rare and unlikely to develop in adult life. Some people are intolerant of gluten and have a collection of gastrointestinal and other symptoms that are relieved by avoiding gluten in the diet. Research is needed to gain more knowledge about the extent of gluten sensitivity, its causes, and how best to diagnose it.

But given the huge market for gluten-free products, it is possible that rather than going gluten-free because of medical necessity, sometimes we choose gluten-free products because they are marketed to us as beneficial to our health and our waistlines.

Gluten-free is not necessarily risk free. Eliminating whole grains can reduce fiber intake. How much salt, sugar, and fat is in the product? And gluten-free products may be expensive to buy.

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Air Quality

If you want to know if the air in your city is clean to breathe check out this great resource from our government called the Air Quality Index (AQI).

The index is updated every day, and it measures five major air pollutants:

  • Ground-level ozone
  • Particle pollution (particulate matter)
  • Carbon monoxide
  • Sulfur dioxide
  • Nitrogen dioxide

Read more about air pollution here.

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Love your liver

Your liver is an incredible organ that works hard 24 hours a day. Lots of the food you swallow gets absorbed from your stomach and intestines, and then travels to the liver. Your amazing liver helps digest nutrients, store energy for later, make other substances that your body needs, and it also works to cleanse the body of harmful toxins.

Some things we eat or drink can damage the liver, probably you have heard of the risk of liver damage from drinking too much alcohol. But the liver can also become damaged without excess and prolonged alcohol use. This is called non-alcoholic steatohepatitis, or NASH for short.

What is NASH? It is an accumulation of fat in the liver that causes inflammation and scarring. Often there are no symptoms, because the liver is great at repairing itself. When symptoms of feeling tired and or abdominal pain occur, it can be later in the progression of the disease. There is no cure for NASH.  For some people it may lead to liver cirrhosis, which is an irreversible scarring of the liver, with many nasty health consequences, and which may require a liver transplant.  This means it is a good idea to care for your hard working liver.

What can you do to care for your liver? The top 2 things you can do:

1. Avoid added sugar. Fructose actually turns into fat in your liver. Table sugar is half fructose. That tasty white stuff  behaves just like alcohol in your liver.

2. Maintain a healthy weight.