Monday, April 27, 2015

One Degree of Change #24

Casting a shadow at sunset on the Sahara dunes!
One Degree of Change #24

What an amazing adventure Morocco has been! And we still have three days left.  What a different culture.  And the food has been right up my alley.  All the food has been freshly selected that morning from the hand picked vegetables to the freshly procured protein of the day.  Olives at every meal and fresh baked bread (heirloom wheat, and other grains) are served morning, noon and night. Desserts consist of fresh fruit, oranges, apples and bananas.  And the mint tea, which is ritually prepared as an offering every where we visited or spent the night.

We camped in the Sahara desert and rode camels into the sunset.  I climbed atop a 300 ft sand dune and sat to watch the sun sink into the night. A definite must do! It was spectacular! Then when the moon slipped away from the sky, the stars where a palette in the sky. I could see every star, planet, the Milky Way, shooting stars, satellites and the International Space Station! Simply awestriking!
The ritual mint tea served as a welcome everywhere in Morocco! 

The other interesting thing that I noticed, so different from the U.S., is the obesity level is very low. The obesity level of the area is only 13.3%, but on the rise from the early 90's, when the rate was only 4.1%.  Mind you, I do see some slightly overweight folks, but they are working in the fields and doing hard labor.  They grow a lot of what they eat and make their own fresh bread.  The greatest rate of obesity is definitely noted in the urban areas.  That is such a low percentage compared to the U.S., tipping the scale at 34.9% for obese Americans in 2013. And the other one third of the state is overweight! What a sad statistic!  Are you one of those statistics?  Here is a link to calculate your BMI (Body Mass Index).  Just so you know! A normal BMI should be between 18 and 24.  Are you shocked that you fall into one of those overweight or obese categories? Then let's do something about it!

ONE DEGREE OF CHANGE #24: Eat More Like A Caveman or Cavewoman!  If you are serious about getting into the one third of the population that has a normal BMI then I have a plan for you! First of all what the heck does it mean to "eat like a caveman"?  The term comes from the paleolithic diet or from the stone age.  Back in that time, the people were hunters and gatherers. They didn't shop at a grocery store or have processed foods.  If the ate protein, they would have to decide if it was worth the energy expenditure to capture the protein source.  Usually not! So they picked berries, found leafy greens, munched on nuts and discovered root vegetables. All food items that didn't require cooking or very little. No grains, no dairy, no sugar, no legumes, no beans and no salt.  So you see, we are already predispositioned to eat that way. And honestly, it meets all the requirements of the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

Here are ten steps to eating like the Stone Agers:
Typical dinner in Morocco! 

  1. Eat protein at every meal.
  2. Eat more good fat.
  3. Eat foods that support your gut.
  4. Keep your omega 3 fatty acids coming.
  5. Have a glass of red wine instead of beer.
  6. Entertain at home so you can create foods to support your efforts.
  7. "Google" recipes that are paleo.
  8. Convert your favorite family recipe to a paleo form.
  9. Visit my One Degree of Change #6 to pick a new veggie to try each month.
  10. Recheck your cabinets and pantry for processed foods, anything in a box or package.
It is really an easy transition, but don't be too strict as you make your changes.  Be gentle with your choices. Select a cheat day, allow yourself to have something you have been craving. Just one degree of change is all that it takes!

Be the change! 

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

One Degree of Change #23

 One Degree of Change #23

The market in Marrakesh!
To begin my blog for this week I want to welcome all the readers from France, Switzerland and Russia!  I am honored to share a One Degree of Change to the rest of the planet!  This week as I prepare my weekly post, I am grateful to be sitting in Morocco in the Riad Stilane in Marrakesh.  I'm on a two week adventure in a part of the world that is so intriguing.  During my journey I will share the culture, especially the nutrition culture.  Our first night we feasted on a rooftop over looking the Medina.   It was a 6 course meal for $18 USD!  The first course was green and black olives with fresh baked bread (heirloom wheat, I might add).  The second course was comprised of five bowls of vegetables, zucchini, carrots, potatoes, broccoli, and a medley of different veggies.  All are freshly selected early that morning.  Next a beautiful platter of cous cous with roasted potatoes, zucchini and carrots.  The best tasting carrots I have ever had.  The next course is the protein course which included lemon chicken, another chicken dish and of lamb.  To finish the meal, as if that wasn't enough, we were brought mint tea and coconut macaroons and almond cookies.  Grateful to have to trek back to the Riad.

One Degree of Change #23: Replace Cow's Milk with Nut Milk!  I always tell my patients that we are they only mammal that never weans.  Meaning, you don't see a full grown cow still nursing from it's mother, do you?  The dairy farmers would lead you to believe that milk is the most healthy nectar, but I beg to differ.

Image result for cows being milked in a dairyI have been preparing for a continuing education course that I will be teaching to doctors on Nutritional Deficiencies.  In this course I will cover food allergies and in my research I found some extremely interesting studies concerning food allergens and children.  The number one food allergy across the board, rich. poor, ethnicity or gender is cow's milk! Let's take a look at why cow's milk is so traumatic to the system.  Here are 10 reasons why you shouldn't drink cow's milk (sorry commercial dairy farmers).

  1. Cow's are pumped full of hormones to increase production. This acts as an endocrine disruptor on humans.
  2. Commercial dairies use a boat load of antibiotics.  Why do you think we have so many antibiotic resistant bacteria these days??!!
  3. Number one cause of food allergens in children
  4. Good milk drinkers are more likely to die from heart disease.
  5. Among women, who drank milk, are more likely to suffer from osteoporosis and hip fractures.
  6. Heavy milk drinkers are prone to cancer, most likely due to the hormones used.
  7. Two thirds of the dairy cows have mastitis (infection of the udders), the powers to be allow a 100,000 somatic cell count per milliliter which means that the milk contain what is actually pus.
  8. Manure from dairy farms contaminates hundreds of square miles of  groundwater, rivers and streams. 
  9. Cow's milk protein plays a role in triggering Type I diabetes by a process called molecular mimicry.
  10. Milk contains D-galactose which is a pro-inflammatory and increases the effects of aging.
And that is just a list of 10.  The studies that I read preparing for my upcoming teaching stint were quite shocking.  Even more than I already knew.  Holy cow, Batman, now what do I do?  Here's your 5 step action plan:

  1. Go to your local health food store or grocery and go to the aisle where you can find the boxed milk on the shelf.  Usually near the coffee and tea aisle in a big box grocery.
  2. Pick two boxes of nut milk.  I suggest almond and coconut.  Least likely to be an allergen.
  3. Read the labels!  You do not want a nut milk with added sugar.
  4. Put one box in your refrigerator and one box in your pantry/cabinet.
  5. Let the family try both types. Try Hemp/Chia seed or cashew milk next.  I like cashew the best.  It is creamy and similar to milk.  Take a vote and pick one to replace the cow's milk in the fridge.
Image result for nut milkNow, that wasn't difficult.  And you will enjoy cooking with the nut milk also.  If you get really daring and ready to step outside the "box" (pun intended), try making your own!  It is very simple.  This is a very simple recipe.  Give it a try!
  • 1 cup raw organic nuts soaked in water overnight (12 hrs) cover with spring water and add 1/4 tsp of salt. Breaks down the enzymes to improve digestion.
  • 4 cups spring water
  • vanilla extract or vanilla bean (optional) I use a Madagascar Vanilla
  • 1/8 cup of dates, honey or stevia (optional) adds a hint of sweetness
  1. Drain and rinse nuts.  
  2. Put half the  nuts and water in blender, Nutribullet, Blend-tec, Vitamix or Ninja.  The mixture expands as you blend it.
  3. Blend several minutes until creamy and smooth.  
  4. Strain mixture by pouring through cheese cloth or kitchen towel into a large bowl.
  5. Put liquid back in blender with the vanilla and your choice of dates, honey or stevia.
  6. Store in a glass jar or container in the refrigerator.  Keeps for one week.
  7. Save the nut meat, spread on a cookie sheet, dry it in the oven and then put in the blender to make nut flour!
Alright, you go make some nut milk!  I will continue my Moroccan journey.  We walked through the Souk (market) last night on the way home from dinner.  The stands of fruits, nuts and dates were plentiful.  I wish we had these intense markets at home!

We are off to the Atlas mountains this morning.  We will be hiking over the river and through the streams to a village, where we will take in the splendor!  If we are one degree off our course, we will not make it to our destination.

Stay on course!  One Degree of Change at a time!

PS. sorry no pictures, limited wifi and couldn't post with my tablet!

Sunday, April 12, 2015

One Degree of Change #22

One Degree of Change #22

The babies have hatched!  Within 24-36 hours they are ready to jump and swim of into the wild, Lake Harris yonder.  In 50-60 days they will be ready to fly.  And to think it takes humans more than 18 years (these days 36 years) to leave the nest!  So momma duck checks the surroundings for safety.  If she spots a hawk or a gator, the mission is aborted.  If anyone goes near the nest, she immediately exits and creates a commotion in the water as if she is injured, to distract the potential predators.

This morning, momma duck went into the nest to check on the ducklings.  Now she is sitting on top of the box and poking her head into the nest, calling to the babies.  Even daddy duck is standing by for extra support.  Momma jumps into the water below the nest and begins calling to the hatchlings.  The ducks are shy and protective of the babies.  If I even opened the sliding glass door, they disappear.  So I watched until the last possible moment before leaving for work. But no jumpers. :-(

One Degree of Change #22:
Eat Grass Fed, Organic Butter!  Yes, real butter.  The real stuff your grandmother enjoyed and didn't have to take a statin to lower her cholesterol.  First, let's have a refresher on how butter is made.  Cow’s milk is separated into milk and cream. Butter is made from churning this cream until the fat globules stick together and separate from a thin liquid called buttermilk. In the US, commercial butter must be at least 80% fat. The rest is generally water, milk solids and salt.  Basic butter quality is determined by freshness, fat content (higher fat means a richer product) and salt levels. Salting both flavors and preserves butter, helping it to last up to several months longer than unsalted butter. The longer shelf life of salted butter is both a blessing and a curse. Added salt means your butter in the fridge or on the counter stays fresh longer, but also means the store can sell you older butter, and the butter manufacturer can use older cream to make the butter.

What are the benefits of "real" grass fed, organic butter?  Here are your 10 reasons why you should be eating butter and not something that you cannot believe is butter!
  1. One of the richest sources of vitamin K2 which is known to prevent arterial calcification
  2. Loads of natural vitamin A, D, and E that really will boost your immune system
  3. Supports cellular function
  4. Rich in Selenium and Iodine
  5. Ushers calcium out of the blood stream and into the bones
  6. Contains great antimicrobial properties
  7. Stimulates muscle growth, while preventing weight gain
  8. Contains Butyric acid, a short chain fatty acid, that can inhibit tumor growth
  9. Contains short & medium chain fatty acids which are not stored as fat, but used as energy
  10. Loaded with conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) which inhibits cancer cell growth in skin, colon, breasts and lungs
Even the ants know the benefits
of eating real butter!
To make your One Degree of Change, you have 5 steps.
  1. Go into your refrigerator and pull out all that stuff that makes you believe it is butter, margarine and other associated products. 
  2. Throw it out (remember to recycle your containers) :-)
  3. Go to your local farmer's market, health food store or grocery and start reading labels. Only ingredients should be organic raw cream and maybe salt.
  4. Look at all local grass fed organic salted butter.
  5. Now pick one!  If you don't have a local source, pick the next best thing.  We use Organic Valley Salted Butter.

I will have to take another blog to explain the evils of trans fats acids.  I have a quick video that gives the dangers of those TFA's.  I will post the article on my website:,. If you know better, you have to do better! (Thanks, Maya Angelou)
Remember, Butter is Better!
As for butter vs. margarine, I trust cows more than chemists. Joan Dye Gussow

Side note: Okay, just to let you know, I checked the nest this evening.  The nest is empty! There are a few eggs that didn't hatch, but all the hatchlings have made the jump!  I missed the actual event, but there is always next year!

Monday, April 6, 2015

One Degree of Change #21

One Degree of Change #21

It is a Bee-utiful morning!  We headed for the hives.  We have new queens and we split the hives to create more future honey.  So this was my job on Sunday morning.  We drove out to the orange groves which are almost all white with blooms and the scent is intoxicating. The air is thick with honeybees as I open  a hive in the honey bee yard near Weirsdale, Florida. The guard bees bump against my veil, which lets me know they are doing their job. But we’re in search of the queen on this crisp spring morning.  It's 8:30 am and the honey bees are already flying in pollen to the hives. I'm outfitted in my stunning bee suit and sexy safari hat with veil. I light the smoker filled with pine needles and sawdust pellets.  I squeeze the bellows to puff some smoke along the hive landing board. The smoke calms the honey bees so we can work them more easily. I direct more smoke under the cover as we lift it to reveal the colony, humming with activity.  We’re looking for the queen. I loosen the sticky frames with a metal hive tool and lift them out one by one for inspection. Myriad bees cover the frames, heavy with nectar in six-sided wax cells. “There she is,” I rejoice, pointing to a blanket of bees crawling on top of one another.

We purchased queens to create new hives.  Once we locate the queen we take a couple of the bee filled frames and add them to a mini hive called a nook.  The queen is introduced into that hive via a little plastic cage with an opening filled with a sugar plug.  She eats her way out in a couple of days, releasing her pheromones during the process which allows the relocated bees time to accept her as their queen.  She makes babies, the other bees make honey to feed her.  And me too!  Yes, that is sugar, but of the best kind.  But, I have a rule that I follow to watch my sugar intake.  Here it is:

One Degree of Change #21: Eat Twice As Many Veggies Than Fruit!  What???  Our diets are so sugar laden already.  As we try to make changes, we eat more fresh fruit, because we think we are doing the right thing.  So we have a smoothie in the morning with a banana and blueberries.  Snack on an apple before lunch.  Eat a fruit salad for lunch.  Eat a whole bunch of grapes through out the afternoon. Then after dinner have a large bowl full of prunes as a bed time snack.  That sugar adds up and can make the difference between not losing weight, increasing your cholesterol and/or shooting your blood glucose though the roof! Yes, fruit is good for you but not in major quantities.  

Here's how the rule works. First, let's look at a list of fruits that are lower in the glycemic index.
Low to medium sugar:

High in sugar:
All dried fruit: dates, raisins, prunes, dried apricots

Next, when you are preparing your meals for the day for every serving of fruit, you must have two servings of vegetables.  A serving size would be one cup. I'm not saying that you can't have fruit or that it is not good for you.  I'm saying that it has sugar in it.  We should only have 10-12 teaspoons of sugar per day in order to limit our added sugar intake to 10%.  The average American consumes 22-24 teaspoons of added sugar per day! That is 88 grams of sugar!  So if you are eating a ton of fruit in your day, then it will still equal sugar in your total caloric intake. Select the fruits from the list above that are lower in the glycemic index (means less sugar).

If you look back at the One Degree of Change #8, I gave you a veggie per month to try. April is Collard greens.  Your mission is to create a unique way to prepare them.  Here's a twist on how we make sautéed spinach, substituting collard greens instead!

Organic Sautéed Collard Greens
·         2 1/2 pounds organic collard greens
·         2 garlic cloves, I use elephant garlic for a strong garlic taste!
·         1 tablespoon organic, grass-fed butter
·         1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, I use one that is infused with orange!
·         1 teaspoon fresh Meyer lemon juice, or to taste. I pick my lemons fresh off my tree!

1.       Remove and discard stems and center ribs of collard greens. Cut leaves into 1-inch pieces. In a kettle of boiling water cook collards 15 minutes and drain in a colander, pressing out excess liquid with back of a wooden spoon.
2.       Mince garlic. In a 12-inch heavy skillet heat butter and oil over moderately high heat until foam subsides and stir in garlic, collards, and salt and pepper to taste. Sauté collard mixture, stirring, until heated through, about 5 minutes.
3.       Drizzle collards with lemon juice and toss well.
Empty the Easter baskets. Clean out that pantry or junk food cabinet.  Calculate how much sugar you eat in a day and cut that in half.  Eat twice as many veggies as fruit, it is just that simple!  If you want to eat two heads of broccoli, go right ahead.  It will fill your belly and give you an amazing amount of nutrition rich and fiber dense food.
Keep up the great work!  And guess what? The baby ducks have hatched.  Jump day is near!!!!
Go ahead, make that One Degree of Change today!