Return To The Days When The Butcher And Baker Mattered…

I am a home cook from a food-obsessed family. Everything that happened centered on food. After all, I grew up in a three-generation household with my Latin-American grandparents as well as my parents. My household wasn’t unique in a food culture sense. But while many of the foods and recipes were similar to those from other families, the stories are what bring the food to life. The best way to delve into Latin-American cuisine and stories is through a typical family meal. And that starts with shopping for the ingredients.

A butcher shop back then was a different place. Sawdust was on the floor to absorb the meat and drippings while the butchers worked their magic. Once up to the counter, my mom would watch the butcher cube and then grind the beef, veal and pork they would then use to make meatballs. Nothing was prepackaged in those days, and the meats were from local animals.

Then on to the produce store where only local, in-season fruits and vegetables were sold. My mom said it was like a photo; she was in awe of the abundance of all the brightly colored fruits and vegetables. She notes that she had never had a strawberry out-of-season and that the fruit was not shiny. Their next stop was the cheese shop where they bought fresh ricotta and mozzarella and other cheeses. Imagine next stepping into a shop entirely dedicated to butter. Butter of all kinds was sold from large barrels by the pound, which sounds heavenly to me.

Saturday markets are full of ingredients for soup

The bread store was perhaps my mom’s favorite. The smell alone made her feel warm and cozy and hungry. When she became old enough to shop without my grandmother, Nana would give my mom an extra to buy the fresh-out-of-the-oven warm loaf, which she would then nibble on or devour all the way home. My grandmother knew this was a special treat for my mom, and to this day, warm bread and butter is one of her absolute favorite things. It’s one of mine.

Last but not least, on the shopping extravaganza was the poultry shop. Saturday was soup day. One Saturday when my grandmother wasn’t feeling well, she sent my mom and her sister, my aunt, to get the chicken. They were still little girls. They selected the live chicken and waited patiently for it to be processed and packaged to bring home. While walking home, the bag started to jump.

They so wanted to drop the bag but being the obedient kids that they were, ran as fast as their little legs could go all the way home, imagining as only little girls could, what kind of spooks were in that bag. When they delivered the jumping chicken bag to Nana in a whirlwind of excitement, panic and fear, Nana giggled and told them, “Sweet girls there are no spirits in the bag it’s settling in.”

While my mom clearly describes the rich palette of textures and smells of the Saturday markets of her youth, she also revels about the joys of being connected to her neighbors and friends. She said they were having a great time because all the neighbors, relatives and friends were out on Saturday. This ritual was not a chore, it was an exciting day. It was the social fabric of creating the family meal. I have even heard stories of recipes being shared at the butcher counter. One Jewish lady I know learned how to make killer Italian meatballs from the Italian ladies at the butcher shop.

So, while we seem far removed from the 50’s and 60’s Saturday shopping trek, I implore you to think about this question:  Is not the farmers market in your neighborhood or community a social hub of sorts?

Modern society has changed the way we shop for food and interact at the grocery store, often with blinders on as we roll our carts down the aisles. But at the farmers market you make eye contact, chat with the farmers and purveyors and smile and chat with your fellow shoppers.  I think we have found the “avenue” of my mom’s youth.

Chicken Soup

I have learned that just about every cuisine has a version of chicken soup and even within a cuisine, there are many variations.  It’s what I call  similar but different.


One chicken cut up into parts and cleaned (this would include chicken feet in the old days)

Enough water to amply cover the chicken

2 to 3 onions, chopped

Bunch of carrots, chopped

4 to 5 parsnips, chopped

Salt and pepper to taste

2 to 3 garlic cloves, minced

Parsley, minced

Optional: Noodles, escarole, eggs. Sometimes, we added a little tomato paste, or tomatoes, the butt of the Pecorino Romano cheese


1. Boil the chicken for about 20 to 30 minutes.  Skim off the scum.

2. Add the vegetables, including the parsley and garlic. Add salt and pepper. Simmer for about 3 hours.

3. Remove chicken from broth.  You can either remove chicken from bones and put back into soup or eat separately.

4.  At this point, you can use the optional ingredients.

If using, add noodles that were boiled separately (thin or medium; your preference.)

Add escarole (cut, steam separately and drain). Mix 2 eggs, ¼ cup of Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper then add to broth.

Seasonal Health Benefits of Persimmon

The persimmon fruit is really not a fruit but a berry. Persimmon nutrition is especially healthful due to the many phytonutrients that are also anti-oxidants.


Persimmon’s native country is China, where it was nicknamed “Apple of the Orient“. From China, persimmon diffused into Japan, where it still plays a primary role in the Japanese cuisine, and then all over the world.

Persimmon (Diospyros—Greek for “fruit of the gods“) is really not a fruit, but a large, round, succulent berry, with a smooth, thin peel of variable color (from yellow to brilliant orange), depending on the degree of ripening. The pulp is soft, creamy, almost gelatinous when the fruit is fully ripe.

A ripe persimmon tastes very sweet and has a “honey flavor”. Some parts of the flesh may turn brown but this is not because it has turned bad, but is actually the sugar in the fruit.

There are generally two types of persimmons—astringent and non-astringent. The astringent persimmon contains high level of tannin before softening, which makes the fruit inedible. Whereas the non-astringent persimmon loses the tannin sooner making the fruit edible even while firm.

The shape of the fruit varies from spherical to acorn to flattened or even squarish. The color varies from light yellow-orange to dark orange-red. The size of a persimmon can vary from about the size of small orange to as big as a grapefruit, depending on the variety.

Persimmons are usually not juiced but are eaten on its own, like a mango, or pureed or for making smoothies. They are highly fibrous, delicious and nutritious.

Parasite Defense

Parasite Defense

Nutritional Benefits

Persimmon is an excellent source of a few known phytonutrients:

  • cryptoxantin that gives it the brilliant orange color
  • catechins, gallocatechins are anti-oxidants from the flavonoids family, known to have anti-inflammatory and anti-hemorrhagic properties
  • anti-tumor compound betulinic acid
  • beta carotene, lycopene, lutein, zeaxanthin, and cryptoxanthinare anti-oxidants that help neutralize free-radicals and prevent oxidation and cancer

Persimmon is rich in vitamin A, C, the B vitamins. In the minerals department, it is dense-packed with calcium, potassium, iron, manganese, phosphorus and copper.

Health Benefits

Persimmon does have laxative and diuretic properties and is particularly recommended for people suffering from liver problems. It is also an energy-dense fruit. That’s why it is recommended for children, people playing sports and people who are physically or mentally tired.

Below are various therapeutic and healthy properties of this very sweet fruit:

Cold and flu:  Thanks to its content in vitamin C, persimmon is highly effective in enhancing the immune system function and can help relieve the symptoms of flu and cold, as well as many other infectious or inflammatory conditions.

Constipation:  Due to its high content in fiber and water, persimmon does have excellent laxative properties that can be a powerful natural remedy for constipation.

Diuretic effect:  Persimmon does have excellent diuretic properties, due to its high content in potassium and calcium. Eating a persimmon a day is an effective way to prevent or relieve water retention. Daily consumption of persimmon is better than the use of diuretic drugs, since persimmon does not cause potassium loss which is associated with many known diuretics.

High blood pressure:  Helps reduce high blood pressure and prevent many heart conditions associated with hypertension.

Liver health and body detoxification:  Persimmon is an excellent source of anti-oxidants which play a key role in liver health and body detoxification. Anti-oxidants help neutralize toxins and other harmful substances in the body, prevent and treat the damages caused by free-radicals.

Natural energizer:  Persimmons are highly digestible fruits and also provide a lot of readily available energy (in the form of sugars) to sustain any energy-requiring activity. That’s why they are particularly recommended for children and people who practice sports or other physical activities.

Stress, tiredness and fatigue:  Due to their high content in sugars and potassium, persimmon juice can help reinforce the body with energy and relieve the symptoms of stress, fatigue and tiredness without the need to use special energetic and nutritional supplements.

Parasimmon Juice Cleanse


To check if persimmons are ripe, lightly depress the fruit. If it’s hard, it’s not yet ripe, do not eat unless you’re certain that you’ve got the non-astringent variety.

Fully ripe persimmons are soft to the touch, very sweet and creamy that they can be eaten as they are. Simply cut them into two halves and eat the pulp with a spoon. They can also be used to prepare delicious sauces, creams, jams, jellies and smoothies.

To speed up the ripening process, put persimmons out at room temperature. Storing them in the fridge will slow down the ripening process, keeping them for longer.

A Cup Of Beets A Day… Helps to Keep Your Blood Pressure Under Control

There are so many tips and tricks for keeping your blood pressure under control, but what really works? This may be news to you but, a cup of beetroot juice a day may help reduce hypertension, according to a small study in the American Heart Association.

People with high blood pressure who drank about 8 ounces of beetroot juice experienced a decrease in blood pressure of about 10 mm Hg. But the preliminary findings don’t yet suggest that supplementing your diet with beetroot juice benefits your health, researchers said.

The health benefits of beet juice aren’t well known, but they are profound. Beet juice is best known as a blood purifier and blood builder that helps in the creation of red blood cells. It improves blood structure and cures diseases of the circulatory system, large intestine, and digestive system.

Benefits of Beetroot Juice

Known for decades as a liver-protective food, beets may not be the newest kid on the superfood block, but mounting research is showing why you should take another good look at this root vegetable in juiced form.

Just Beet ItMany say that juicing beets will give them more energy for their day. Research is showing that this may be due to the ability of components in the juice to improve blood flow. Beetroot juice has been shown to help the body respond better to exercise, by balancing oxygen use and increasing stamina.

Beetroot juice is one of the richest dietary sources of antioxidants and naturally occurring nitrates. Nitrates are compounds which improve blood flow throughout the body – including the brain, heart, and muscles. These natural nitrates increase a molecule in the blood vessels called nitric oxide, which helps open up the vessels and allows more oxygen flow as well as lower blood pressure.

Beetroot juice may also be an important ally to lower blood pressure. Whether the yellow or red kind of beets, the juice provides excellent blood pressure-lowering ability. Meta-analysis (a quality study that reviewed many past studies) of 254 people between 2006 and 2012 showed clear reductions in blood pressure, with the systolic blood pressure (the number on top) showing the best reduction.

Eat Or Drink?

In many cases, eating the whole food is the best way to get all the nutrients, fiber and healthy effect. But, in this particular case for blood pressure lowering, you are actually better off drinking the juiced beet root to get the maximum benefit. When you cook the beet or ferment a beet (like we find in a pickled beet), the amount of healthful nutrients for blood pressure benefits will decrease. By juicing, you are going to get 100% of the phytonutrients (plant chemicals) that help your blood pressure decrease.

How Much?

One to two cups of beetroot juice a day have been shown to have a significant effect for lowering blood pressure. Many doctors have been quite surprised by how little was needed to see a benefit for people with high blood pressure. You can juice the beets on your own, which is freshest and cost efficient, or you can spend about $7 for a prepared bottle at the health food store. Because beets are a potent detoxifier, some patients feel best when starting with a lower dose (like a quarter cup) and increase the amount over time.

Please note it is important to not change any prescription blood pressure medication without speaking to your prescribing doctor. Please let your doctor know you are using natural means to lower your blood pressure, which may result in requiring less medication.

Side Effects?

The dark carotenes of beet juice may give your urine and bowel movements a red color. This color change is harmless. Since beets are high in oxalates, people who tend to make oxalate kidney stones may want to avoid beet juice.

Aren’t Nitrates Unhealthy?

Cured foods like hot dogs and bacon are known to be high in nitrites, which are known cancer-causing compounds. Beets, spinach and radishes all have naturally occurring nitrates, which will convert to nitrites during digestion in your body. These naturally occurring versions are not harmful to the body and are very safe when they are eaten with the wonderful natural antioxidants that beets and radishes also provide. The more dangerous nitrites that are added to hot dogs, bacon and cured meats are really the ones to worry about and should be minimized.

In Conclusion…

Treating blood pressure encompasses working on ways to reduce stress, eating healthy food choices, exercising, and getting intake of the proper nutrients.

Beetroot juice can be an excellent addition to a natural regimen designed to help bring blood pressure under control while increasing a person’s stamina and energy.

A Healthy Diet for Vegan, Veggitarian and Pescatarian Athletes

It’s a common misconception that people who regularly spend many hours doing intense, energy-draining workouts need a massive amount of animal protein to stay strong and healthy. Just look at the connection between the paleo and CrossFit communities!  However, it is important to remember that not every body is the same. A diet high in animal protein may give some athletes the energy they need to keep going at the gym, but others will thrive just as well on a vegan diet.

To stay in top shape, athletes need a diet high in protein and carbohydrates. Your body used the carbohydrates to fuel your workout and the protein to retain muscle mass and aid the recovery process post-workout. Of course, this could mean eating a slice of toast before you hit the gym and a juicy steak afterward, but it doesn’t have to. Vegans can also sufficiently refuel their bodies pos-workout with plant-based proteins.


It’s also a common misperception that green vegetables contain no protein. According to Dr. Joel Fuhrman, the following vegetables have high protein content and are an excellent choice for a post-workout meal.

Protein content in vegetables (3 cups of each)

  • Broccoli rabe – 15 grams
  • Spinach – 15 grams
  • Asparagus – 12 grams
  • Bok Choy – 9 grams
  • Swiss Chard – 9 grams

Making a spinach smoothie or stir-frying some broccoli rabe or asparagus with a healthy grain after a hard workout will keep athletes in great shape. There are also several beans, nuts, seeds and whole grains you can add to your post-workout meal for protein and to satisfy your appetite.


Protein content in beans, nuts, seeds and grains

  • Tofu (1/2 block) – 22.5 grams
  • Tempeh (1/2 block) 20 grams
  • Lentils (1 cup, cooked) – 18 grams
  • Edamame (1 cup) – 17 grams
  • Oats (1/2 cup dry) – 13 grams
  • Pumpkin Seeds (1/4 cup) – 8.5 grams


Compare this to how much protein is typically found in meat and animal products:

Protein in Animal Products

  • ½ fillet of Salmon – 39 grams
  • 1 cup of chicken meat – 35 grams
  • 3 ounces of steak – 20 grams
  • 1 ounce of cheddar cheese – 7 grams
  • 1 hard boiled egg – 6 grams
Salmon and Arugula Wrap

Salmon and Arugula Wrap

Athletes who follow a diet heavy in animal products are likely to ingest more protein in a smaller portion of food. Vegan athletes simply need to eat a larger quantity of plants at each sitting.  For example 3 cups of spinach and a ½ block of tofu contain about as much protein ½ of a salmon filet.

It’s also important to remember that in the case of protein, more is not always better. On average, a serious athlete needs about .6 times their body weight in grams of protein per day. This means a marathon runner weighing in at 150 pounds needs and average of 90 grams of protein per day to stay in competing shape. For a vegan athlete, a typical daily menu could look like this:


Tofu scramble with ½ block tofu and 1.5 cups of spinach – 30 grams protein


1 cup of lentils with 2 cups of broccoli rabe – 22 grams

Afternoon Snack

¼ cup pumpkins seeds – 8.5 grams


½ block of tempeh with 1 cup of bok choy – 29 grams

Of course, most athletes will need more calories than this and should be adding other vegetables and whole grains into their meals, as well. An athlete who eats a lot of animal protein will easily go over 90 grams per day, in which case the excess protein is processed and excreted. Your body isn’t able to store excess protein in the body for later use.

It is completely possible for highly active and competitive athletes to survive and thrive on a plant-based diet. If you are an athlete and find that you feel better when you don’t eat animal products, experimenting with a vegan diet could be the answer!


Turmeric As An Effective Holistic Healing Remedy

Turmeric is one the most thoroughly researched plants in existence today. Its medicinal properties and components (primarily curcumin) have been the subject of over 5600 peer-reviewed and published bio-medical studies.


In fact, our five-year long research project on this sacred plant has revealed over 600 potential preventive and therapeutic applications, as well as 175 distinct beneficial physiological effects.

This entire database of 1,585 ncbi-hyperlinked turmeric abstracts can be downloaded as a PDF at our Downloadable Turmeric Document page, and acquired either as a retail item or with 200 GMI-tokens, for those of you who are already are members and receive them automatically each month.

Given the sheer density of research performed on this remarkable spice, it is no wonder that a growing number of studies have concluded that it compares favorably to a variety of conventional medications, including:

  • Lipitor/Atorvastatin(cholesterol medication): A 2008 study published in the journal Drugs in R & D found that a standardized preparation of curcuminoids from Turmeric compared favorably to the drug atorvastatin (trade name Lipitor) on endothelial dysfunction, the underlying pathology of the blood vessels that drives atherosclerosis, in association with reductions in inflammation and oxidative stress in type 2 diabetic patients. [i] [For addition curcumin and ‘high cholesterol’ research – 8 abstracts]
  • Corticosteroids (steroid medications): A 1999 study published in the journal Phytotherapy Research found that the primary polyphenol in turmeric, the saffron colored pigment known as curcumin, compared favorably to steroids in the management of chronic anterior uveitis, an inflammatory eye disease.[ii] A 2008 study published in Critical Care Medicine found that curcumin compared favorably to the corticosteroid drug dexamethasone in the animal model as an alternative therapy for protecting lung transplantation-associated injury by down-regulating inflammatory genes.[iii] An earlier 2003 study published in Cancer Letters found the same drug also compared favorably to dexamethasone in a lung ischaemia-repurfusion injury model.[iv] [for additional curcumin and inflammation research – 52 abstracts]
  • Prozac/Fluoxetine & Imipramine (antidepressants): A 2011 study published in the journal Acta Poloniae Pharmaceutica found that curcumin compared favorably to both drugs in reducing depressive behavior in an animal model.[v] [for additional curcumin and depression research – 5 abstracts]
  • Aspirin (blood thinner): A 1986 in vitro and ex vivo study published in the journal Arzneimittelforschung found that curcumin has anti-platelet and prostacyclin modulating effects compared to aspirin, indicating it may have value in patients prone to vascular thrombosis and requiring anti-arthritis therapy.[vi] [for additional curcumin and anti-plateletresearch]
  • Anti-inflammatory Drugs: A 2004 study published in the journal Oncogene found that curcumin (as well as resveratrol) were effective alternatives to the drugs aspirin, ibuprofen, sulindac, phenylbutazone, naproxen, indomethacin, diclofenac, dexamethasone, celecoxib, and tamoxifen in exerting anti-inflammatory and anti-proliferative activity against tumor cells.[vii] [for additional curcumin and anti-proliferative research – 15 abstracts]
  • Oxaliplatin (chemotherapy drug): A 2007 study published in the International Journal of Cancer found that curcumin compares favorably with oxaliplatin as an antiproliferative agent in colorectal cell lines.[viii] [for additional curcumin and colorectal cancer research – 52 abstracts]
  • Metformin (diabetes drug): A 2009 study published in the journal Biochemitry and Biophysical Research Community explored how curcumin might be valuable in treating diabetes, finding that it activates AMPK (which increases glucose uptake) and suppresses gluconeogenic gene expression (which suppresses glucose production in the liver) in hepatoma cells. Interestingly, they found curcumin to be 500 times to 100,000 times (in the form known as tetrahydrocurcuminoids(THC)) more potent than metformin in activating AMPK and its downstream target acetyl-CoA carboxylase (ACC). [ix]

Another way in which turmeric and its components reveal their remarkable therapeutic properties is in research on drug resistant- and multi-drug resistant cancers. We have two sections on our site dedicated to researching natural and integrative therapies on these topics, and while there are dozens of substances with demonstrable efficacy against these chemotherapy- and radiation-resistant cancers, curcumin tops both lists:

We have found no less than 54 studies indicating that curcumin can induce cell death or sensitize drug-resistant cancer cell lines to conventional treatment.[x]

We have identified 27 studies on curcumin’s ability to either induce cell death or sensitize multi-drug resistant cancer cell lines to conventional treatment.[xi]

Considering how strong a track record turmeric (curcumin) has, having been used as both food and medicine in a wide range of cultures, for thousands of years, a strong argument can be made for using curcumin as a drug alternative or adjuvant in cancer treatment.

Or, better yet, use certified organic (non-irradiated) turmeric in lower culinary doses on a daily basis so that heroic doses won’t be necessary later in life after a serious disease sets in. Nourishing yourself, rather than self-medicating with ‘nutraceuticals,’ should be the goal of a healthy diet. [learn more at Sayer Ji’s new collaborative project EATomology]


Source: Green Med Info via True Activist

Seasons Change: Benefits of Persimmons

Ready for autumn, well here is a tip to help rid yourself.  

Raw Apple Persimmon “Parasites Be Gone” Cleansing Juice


I absolutely love persimmons! i cant express it enough. This winter my friends are going to hate me, because i am going to deck everything out at Hýălanί (recipe wise) with persimmons. It turns out UNripen persimmons have been incredibly effective in various parts of Africa for getting rid of intestinal parasites. The nasty taste is apparently as repelling to parasites as it is to us! I recently did a parasite cleanse and found this juice INCREDIBLE. I can personally attest to it’s effectiveness.

Note: ripe persimmons are not effective for ridding the body of parasites. For the most potent parasite cleanse, drink 1/2 cup of straight persimmon juice on an empty stomach morning and night until all intestinal parasites have been cleared out of the intestinal tract. This can be weeks. If you can’t drink the bitter juice straight, mixing it with equal parts of fresh apple juice is a tasty alternative. The powerful laxative properties in the apples make for a “parasites be gone!” cleansing party! 

I highly recommend daily colonics whilst engaging in a parasite cleanse to help expel the little beasts. You can also don’t want the toxicity staying in your body or allowing the parasites to lay eggs in your intestinal tract. Instestinal parasites are extremely common, and can exist in you body for decades. They feed on the nutrients and alkaline buffers in your tissues and organs and wreak havoc in your system, leading to malabsorption of nutrients and disease. 

For those of you not familiar with persimmons, they are an interesting fruit native to Japan and China. In the U.S, the Hachiya persimmon is grown in California, and they have a short season from about October to January. Persimmons range in colour from light yellow-orange to dark red-orange depending on the species and variety. However, the most commonly consumed persimmons look like a deep orange-coloured tomato. When ripe, they have a waxy thin skin and a thick pulp-like jelly.  

The Hachiya persimmons are edible in their crisp firm state, but the high tannin content gives them a chalky, astringent, bitter taste. The tannin levels reduce as the fruit matures and the flavour sweetens when allowed to ripen after harvest. 

Persimmons contain valuable Vitamin A, C, K, as well as calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, and sodium. Unripe persimmons also contain naturally occuring flouride, which makes it a wonderful natural dental aid. In Africa, the unripe fruit is cut in half and rubbed on the gums to prevent gingivitis and correct pyorrhea. It also helps clear up cold sores and canker sores, and blisters on the mouth. 

Unripe persimmon juice is also a very powerful topical solution for minor cuts, bleeding gums, and to prevent the worsening of varicose veins. Simply dab the juice onto the skin with a cotton pad. 

For those of you not concerned about parasites, allow your persimmons to fully ripen and blister, and mix them with leafy greens for a sweet delicious juice that is fabulously cleansing.