Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The "P" and the Pea: Eating the Rainbow and Vegetable Soup

The chlorophyll in the leaves have begun to oxidize and their hidden layers of carotenoids are beginning to appear as vibrant yellows and oranges. As the trees begin to pull their energy-- in the form of glucose-- inward to store for the winter, the leaves also begin to create the fiery reds and purples of anthocyanins. And when the trees' energy has all recoiled inward and into the roots under the warm and insulated ground, the leaves wither and die to become the forest's compost. The natural chemicals that cause the visual pigments are called polyphenols (or as I like to call them, The Big "P") and if you have been reading any article about green tea, wine, or dark chocolate lately, it is very likely you have seen this word splattered over every page, kicked around, but never really explained. So, here's the breakdown (.....try to contain your anticipation, I know this is exciting.....)

A polyphenol is a naturally-occurring chemical in plants that makes it a particular color, depending on the specific polyphenol. These chemicals can also influence the taste of the food but they also provide (drumroll pleease!):  ANTIOXIDANTS!!

That's right, I said it. The "A Word" that has been toted by food companies, abused by manufacturers, posted on every article about food and nutrition and smothered across every no-so-healthy processed food item with a tiny amount of vitamin E added (as a preservative) to convince consumers that this item is "healthy"! Just because a food has antioxidants 1) Does not mean those antioxidants are necessary viable or 2) In large enough quantities to be helpful or 3) Are good-quality antioxidants (think of the difference between an '86 Honda with a broken transmission and a brand-new convertible Hybrid at 60mpg....and let's be honest here folks, we ALL want that convertible Hybrid at 60mpg!).

Antioxidants do what they say they will: to Anti the Oxidant....or better yet, they prevent the oxidation of cells. Some examples of excessive cellular oxidation of cells are: premature aging and wrinkles, stroke, cancer, coronary heart disease, and many other terrible and usually completely preventable (if not treatable or curable) diseases.
Eating optimal amounts of high-quality antioxidants in whole-food form can help prevent oxidative stress on the body, which can help you:
  • Think clearer
  • Feel rested after less sleep
  • Breathe easier
  • Have more energy
  • Prevent illness
  • Become less stressed
  • Look more vibrant
  • Look younger
  • Improve skin, hair, and nails
  • Improve organ function
  • Detoxify the body
  • Lose weight
So, now that I have convinced you of my plan to reduce oxidative stress and feel better, stronger, and happier, here are some ways to get those antioxidants and polyphenols.

Think of the rainbow. Yes, that thing that through clever marketing will always remind you of the omnipresent candy: Skittles. Except, replace those tiny, artificially-colored, nutrient-devoid, genetically-modified high fructose corn syrup balls with fruits, vegetables, and grains. Like in a bag of Skittles (pretend like you eat the yellow and orange ones too) you eat every color of the rainbow. In any two-day span, try your best to also eat every color of the rainbow in whole, natural, organic foods. Every color of the rainbow, and sometimes even different hues, is caused by those things we talked about earlier: polyphenols. And different polyphenols make up different colors, which all have different antioxidative and therapeutic qualities. For example, the red/purple-red polyphenol quercetin helps inhibit cancer cell growth, combat gout and arthritis, protects the heart, and helps treat hives and asthma by blocking histamines.

Instead of following the tactics of segmentation and fractioning that Western medicine has proven to be ineffective in the realm of natural health, try seeing antioxidants in a broad, relative spectrum. For example, instead of hearing that Omega-3 fatty acids can help protect the heart and increase brain function and plopping your credit card on the counter of your local health food store or GNC to buy a 2-year supply of Omega-3 pills, try eating it in whole form, as nature intended. If you eat nutrients, minerals, and protective compound in whole form, you are gaining the synergy of that entire food. Most substances work more effectively as a whole food, working with the other compounds in that food to provide you maximum benefits, versus being chemically separated from a whole food and sold back to you in a less-potent and less-viable form. So, save your money and instead of loading up your cupboards with a pill bottle of vitamin B-complex, a pill bottle of melatonin, a pill bottle of anthocyanins, a pill bottle of zinc, and a pill bottle of alpha lipoic acid, eat all of these substances in your food! Then you are not simply supplementing your normal meals, you are actually changing your food choices to shift your entire paradigm of health in a positive way. Eating your nutrients and therapeutic compounds can help you in many, many more ways than simple and dangerous pill-popping of nutrients, chemicals, and minerals, which can create imbalances in the body, deficiencies, malabsorption, and even overdose in the case of minerals and even some vitamins (such as vitamin A and vitamin D, which is actually a hormone).

To obtain the maximum benefits possible from antioxidants and polyphenols, eat from every color of the rainbow in each 2-day span from as many in-season and local foods as possible. Since blueberries offer the polyphenol anthocyanin, cherries offer quercetin, and watermelon offers lutein and more lycopene (which help the heart and eyes) than tomatoes, in the summer when you can get many of these foods from farm stands, farms, U-pick places, the health food store, co-ops, and farmer's markets locally, eat a fruit salad that combines the power of all three foods and their health-promoting abilities. In the fall, eat buttnernut squash for its beta-carotene (the pre-cursor to Vitamin-A which helps keep skin glowing, keeps acne at bay, keeps hair and nails strong and shiny, helps promote good eyesight, fights free-radicals that cause oxidative damage, and reduce signs of sun damage and wrinkles) and remember one thing about this tricky orange-pigmented polyphenol: beta-carotene is fat soluble, meaning it can only be assimilated into the body in a fatty medium. So, eat your orange foods with a little fat: oranges and mandarins with a few almonds or pistachios, eat butternut squash, pumpkin, and acorn squash with organic extra virgin olive oil (which offers a host of benefits including vitamin E and omega-3 fats), and eat carrots with a little olive oil-based salad dressing and so on.

Although the green color in foods is not caused by a polyphenol, it is extremely important as well. The green color in foods is due to chlorophyll. Chloroplasts (the tiny cells that lay atop one another to create stacks called chlorophyll) are the plant cells responsible for mixing light and carbon dioxide together in its cauldron to create the wonderful products (another drum roll, please): oxygen and glucose!!! Those products of photosynthesis we love so much which allow us to breathe and to eat plants for energy! Anyway, on the cellular level chlorophyll is extremely similar to human hemoglobin. Chlorophyll helps build hemoglobin in humans, which is responsible for transporting oxygen from the lungs to body tissues. So, chlorophyll is the oxygenator of the body. It brings oxygen to the cells, which helps them to live long, live optimally, to replicate healthily, and to use nutrients, minerals, and energy effectively. A good supply of oxygen also makes the muscles more flexible, heal better, helps create a feeling of peace and calm inside the body, helps promote clarity and mental alertness, and helps create energy and fight fatigue as well as enhancing mood. A similar experience is when athletes work out, they flood their body with oxygen at first (which also stimulates the secretion of endorphins), creating a runner's high. Mamma was right: eat those greens! Green foods also help detoxify the blood and organs of toxins, heavy metals, chemicals, bad fats, and more. Like OxyClean (only better-tasting, trust me!) greens oxygenate and clean. Mean and green, baby. Mean and green.

To celebrate, I have a soup to tempt you all with because I like to see you suffer after a long lecture of all sorts of crazy science-things that may or may not make any sense to you whatsoever. The soup:

Fall Farmer's Soup (try for ingredients as local as possible):

  • One big, 2-3 gallon soup pot filled 1/3 of the way with filtered water and some Himalayan pink-, French    clay-, or sun-dried Celtic sea-, salt.
  • 3 big ole carrots, cut into rounds or sweet potato, squash, or pumpkin
  • 1/2 head of celery cut into half-moons or celery root (also called celeriac) cut into dime-sized cubes
  • 5 fat cloves of garlic, sliced or crushed
  • 1/2 yellow onion, chopped
  • 6 cups freshly-shelled black-eyes peas, chick peas, fava beans, green peas, or other pea
OR if freshly shelled peas are not available, substitute with 6 cups lentils, already-cooked beans, or peas

OR 6 cups quinoa or local seed such as buckwheat if possible.
  •  2 bay leaves
  • black pepper to taste
  • 1 tsp fresh ancho chili powder
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 1 1/2 tsp fresh or dried thyme leaves
  • 1 1/2 tsp dried sage leaves or 4 medium fresh sage leaves chopped
  • 1 small bunch of parsley, chopped fine
-Bring water to a boil with herbs (except the fresh parsley), salt, spices, and bay leaf.
-When boiling, add the quinoa, buckwheat, fresh peas, or lentils and turn heat down to medium-high
-When bean/pea/seed (like buckwheat and quinoa) are half-done (bite one to check for stiffness), add the orange food (carrot, pumpkin, squash, or sweet potato) and the celery, onion, garlic, and whatever extra fall vegetables you'd like to add such as torn kale, beets, or rutabaga.
-Cook on medium heat (not boiling, just at a low simmer) until all the vegetables are 4/5 of the way done (they will continue to cook in the hot soup so turn the heat off now to prevent over-cooking).
-Turn off heat!
-Stir in 3 Tbsp of extra virgin olive oil to help absorb fat-soluble nutrients like vitamin K and beta-carotene
-Taste for saltiness and add more salt and/or spice if necessary.
-Add chopped parsley into pot, give a good stir, and let all flavors meld for about 10 minutes then get out that bowl, your favorite soup spoon and sit on the couch to a great book or movie and warm yourself in the beautiful health soup you made! Check out the pictures below....

Fall peas for shelling....also known to some as meditation and to most: lots of work

Fresh peas from a drier and easier-to-shell pod. These peas, when dried will turn brown and hard and can keep for the winter just like the dried beans you see in bins or bags at the store or market.

Into the soup you go: walk the pod to your doom!

About 1/2 way through the cooking process

The final stage. With a generous grind of fresh pepper on top to help facilitate nutrient absorption of course!


Saturday, October 16, 2010

South Carolina Food Foraging take 1, and Cherry-Strawberry Mousse!

Recently I moved from the Hudson Valley, which is along the Hudson River in New York. I truly miss the local food scene there, which is still at its toddler stage but is relatively large compared to the average US city or small region. There are local vineyards, breweries, distilleries, CSAs (community-supported agriculture...we'll get into a discussion about this very soon), small orchards, fruit stands, small farms, and co-ops. Not to mention all the wild edibles there! I gathered milkweed stems for steaming, milkweed buds to pickle into capers, bracken fiddle-head ferns, blood root (used medicinally), wild asparagus, wild apples, edible violets and tiger lilies, wild parsnip, pin-cherries, wild grapes, wild onion and wild garlic, wintergreen berries, chives (which grow EVERYWHERE!), black birch, chestnuts, thimbleberries, wild blackberries and raspberries, chanterelle mushrooms, and wild blueberries are all some of the foods I have had the pleasure of foraging for and later consuming. So, a part of me was quite sad to leave all of that in NY to come to South Carolina where there is very little to forage. However, I found a few things!

Agave Salmiana or White Agave. This plant will eventually grow a stamen that can reach over 20 ft tall. When the stamen is cut at the beginning of its growth, the wound will weep a sugary fluid called "aguamiel" or water-honey that, when evaporated, produces raw agave nectar.
Close up of the thick, spiny leaves of the White Agave that, although not native to South Carolina, thrives here.

Sweet crab-apples! I ate them all day! A polyphenol-rich food with a higher tannin content than hybridized apples.
Delicious (and beautiful!)
The green orbs are unripened dates from this date-palm! The black ones have a sugary paste on the inside surrounding a hard, light brown pit....the paste tastes like brown sugar and molasses!
Same date-palm tree that the close-up is taken from.
Prickly pear is the red fruit on top of this cactus, it is a delicious white-grape-and-strawberry flavor on the inside and a salty-cucumber-tasting crispy flesh around the sweet center. Once you get used to the combo  and learn to eat each part separately, it is an amazing experience, one of the most refreshing foods I have ever eaten on a hot, 90 degree South Carolina day!
  A prickly pear on the inside! Like art, can you believe that color??
All of these foods were so good! A wild foraging dinner! I am still eating some of the sweet crab-apples! I am waiting for the rest of the prickly pear fruit to ripen so I can take them home and make some delicious desserts! All of this food (in a busy city, might I add) was obtained for free! There are so many foods like greens, grasses, tubers, berries, and even cacti that we can eat for free from our own communities. A woman down the street from me even had a pomegranate tree which I picked some fruit from! And the day was spent in the sun, enjoying the adventure, feeling like a kid again instead of waiting in a line of grumps at a busy supermarket. Just for fun, check out some food around your area.....the rewards of finding even one thing is an exciting experience. Get out there in the sun and get that vitamin D to boost your immune system; it also discourages the "bad" genes from becoming stimulated (one more thing to talk about later; I'm really building up a list here!).


This recipe is for a mini 6" pie in a springform pan and 2 parfait glasses.

Strawberry-Cherry Mousse:
*2 cups clear Irish Moss dry, not packed down in measuring cup (more about this ingredient below)*
1cup of fresh or thawed black or bing cherries
1 cup fresh or thawed strawberries (wth tops cut off but reserved for a green shake! They are high in Vit C!)
6 drops of stevia liquid, 2 Tbsp honey, or sweetener to preferred taste (I like my tart). Keep in mind that the more liquid sweetener you use, the more coconut oil you will have to add to keep the firm texture and the more coconut oil you use, the more coconutty your dessert will taste. For this reason, I suggest using an herbal sweetener such as stevia liquid or powder for this recipe.
2 Tbsp liquid coconut oil
12 raw soaked and dehydrated cashews (the less liquid in the nut the better, which is why I dehydrate them after soaking. Soaking makes the nutrients in the nut more viable as well as increases it digestibility and makes the nut sweeter!)

-Blend all ingredients until very smooth in a blender, adding only a tiny amount of liquid if absolutely necessary. If you added too much to ease the blades on an older blender, add more soaked Irish Moss and more coconut oil or cashews to thicken 

*About Irish Moss: Irish Moss is rich in iodine, an essential mineral, which helps prevent mental retardation as well as helps support healthy thyroid hormone function. It is also rich in sulfur, the "beauty chemical" which helps create beautiful hair, nails, skin, eyes, and that "glow." It has significant amounts of protein for being a sea vegetable and provides a host of other minerals--minerals being a part of nutrition many people neglect and are thus deficient. Irish moss was used during the Irish potato famine as an emergency food by the poor. Since it had high amounts of minerals, vitamins, and protein, it helped many live that would otherwise have died from malnutrition. The purpose of Irish Moss in this recipe is to thicken. Many commercial foods like ice cream and salad dressing have an ingredient called "carageenan" and it is a processed form of this whole food. Irish moss thickens like gelatin yet no animals are harmed in the process and this is much better for you!

How to use Irish Moss:
1) Pull out the pieces of Irish Moss and wash them individually underneath running water, filtered preferable.
2) Put the Irish Moss in a jar filled with filtered water and shake the jar vigorously until the water becomes cloudy.
3) Pour out the water and refill with fresh water. Repeat step #2 a few times, about 3 or 4 or until water comes out completely clear and sediment-free.
4) Soak Irish moss in new water for 1 1/2 days before using it. WARNING: Over-soaking can a less gelatinous effect.

Crust and Parfait Crumble: 
1 3/4 c soaked and dehydrated cashews
1/2 c dried golden mulberries (or mashed dates without pits)
1/2 Tbs vanilla bean powder or 1 tsp pure vanilla extract or 1 vanilla bean, scraped and pods saved for tea
1 Tbs liquid coconut oil (I was out and used 1 Tbs olive oil, worked great too!)

-Grind all ingredients except last ingredient well in a blender or food processor.
-Transfer crumble to a bowl and massage with clean hands the coconut oil into the mixture so mixture sticks in balls when formed as one in the palm of the hand
-Line the bottom of a saran-wrap covered springform cake tin with 1/3" of crust, patting all around to ensure evenness.
-Put the rest of the crumble aside for parfaits.

Assembly for Mousse Pie:
-Fill the rest of the springform with filling and let rest in fridge for 12 hours or overnight until consuming to allow natural gelatin to set.
-Serve with sliced strawberries and cherries marinating in honey for 3 hours at room temperature (this makes the fruit "weep" juices, creating a juicer and more cherry-and-strawberry tasting sauce by infusing the honey instead of just simply mixing ingredients.

Cherry-Strawberry-Honey Sauce:
-1 cup of fruit to 1/2 a cup of honey.

Assembly for Parfaits:
-Layer 2 parfait glasses however you like with sauce, mousse, and crumble. My layering strategy was: crumble, mousse, sauce, crumble..... but layer however you like!!!

The mix!

The crust pressed into the Springform

Ladies and Gentlemen, be not afraid! It is only soaked Irish Moss!

The thawed cherries I bought from a local orchard when I lived in New York that I brought back to South Carolina and the strawberries a friend and I picked in New York in June.

The fruit, still frozen...

A truly raw cashew is whiter than a non-raw one. Some cheap ones labeled "raw" are not actually so. They are not roasted for a long period of time, but not sproutable either. The one I am holding has a little "tail" on the is the beginning of a sprout!!

Pouring the looks thinner than it really is but has not set yet.

The parfaits!


Saturday, October 9, 2010

Holistic Pet Care, Discussion 1

I have a pet ferret....yes.....a ferret. Mine is a teensy-tiny runt with a huge personality, tons of energy, and a love of coconut and cantaloupe like no other (it's true, just ask her). About a year ago, my ferret--aptly named Sensai--began to grow a tumor-like ball on her tail and to lose her fur. A few months later, she became a completely naked ferret except for a small amount of fur on her paws and her face. The cluster of cartilage-like cells at the end of her tail was cancer. At first I was in denial because I was so afraid to have to face losing her, a beloved and joyful part of my family!

I switched around her diet often in the beginning as I was trying to find the perfect, healing diet for her. When I first had her in the very, very beginning she ate conventional non-raw, heavily-grain-based formulas with cheap ingredients....the "junk food" stuff. She loved the taste, don't get me wrong, but she was always sleepy and was tired easily. I realized that an animal's diet needs to be pure and clean and healthy just like a human's should be or as the animal would have in the wild. So, I put her on the Archetype 1 & 2 diet by Wysong. I started her out on the non-raw Archetype diet which still had amazing ingredients and a much higher nutrient and antioxidant content than her old food. Once she adjusted, she loved it! Then I began to change my ideas nature she would not be eating cooked food. Unlike humans who grew alongside the use of fire, she--an obligate carnivore--would be eating raw meat. So, I switched to the raw Archetype diet and stayed on that for most of the year. She loved it but it always bothered me that it was a dehydrated diet. Especially while she was sick I realized her body must have spent a large amount of energy digesting that dehydrated meat and re-hydrating itself to make up for the lack of water in the food. That energy could be going toward healing her body instead of digestion, I realized. So, after a week and countless hours later of researching the ferret's optimal diet (which is live prairie dogs, which, my domesticated ferret will never kill herself nor would I want to see her try!) I found the best option for ferrets who will not/can not kill their own food. This food is called PawPaw Naturaw.

Now, I'm not a paid endorser for PawPaw Naturaw, this is my objective opinion: this is the best dog and cat food available today. And yes, you heard that right: dog food. The PawPaw Naturaw food is basically pure meat, which is what Sensai needs. Ferrets need a high fat content in their diets too so I feed her organic, extra-virgin, cold-pressed hemp, flax, olive, and coconut oils daily. It helps her eyes, skin, coat, brain function, and these high-quality fats supply a lot of energy, minerals, and therapeutic nutrition. This food is frozen meat in either bulk or smaller medallion form. They offer chicken, turkey, elk, bison, beef, and more depending on the nutrient needs of the animals. This holistic, fresh, organic diet is more expensive but these are our animals! The ones who love us unconditionally, who look to us for help and discipline and love and joy and shelter! Personally, I want my pets to be as happy and as healthy as possible; I want them to suffer minimally or none at all and I want them to live a long life. Too many animals now are dying in pain from cataracts, cancer, heart disease, obesity, and other degenerative diseases. Not only does the animal suffer but so do we, the ones who love them and have to see them in pain. The lesson here? Love your pets, treat them well, feed them well, and invest a little more now to save a lot later. Preventative medicine!!! Check out the PawPaw Naturaw website, and tell them my blog website sent you!

So, back to Sensai's illness and recovery. So, Sensai had cancer. And was furless, tired, and losing appetite. I started feeding her PawPaw Naturaw Bison diet and she began to become more energetic and gained a little weight but was still very ill. Now, this next part I do not suggest and am not implying anyone do. If your pet is ill, go to a holistic vet. I took the situation into my hands but again, I do not support at-home medicinal pet care, drug use, or surgery. I used the same methods many farmers use to castrate sheep, goats, and other animals. The process: to cut off blow flow to a particular body part so that it will undergo necrosis, fall off, and new tissue will grow in its place to heal the wound. No blood, no pain. The cancer on the end of her tail died, fell off, and the end of her tail re-grew healthy tissue.

And NOW, a couple months later......she has gained weight, is playing all day, is excited about going outside, climbing, exploring, and learning. AND, she has begun to re-grow her fur!! That's right! A disease that for most animals there is no cure was cured holistically! She has grown so much hair back I expect she'll have a full coat again within the next 2 months, most likely even in much less time. I will keep you updated with pictures of Sensai as she regrows her fur and completes her cancer recovery. Her story I hope can show us all the fighter inside all of us, and the strength and power in love, nutrition, and good food!

The only "before" pictures I could find:
If you'll look at her neck area, notice it is completely fur-less

AND, the OCTOBER 2010 pictures of her progress:
Look at all the fur on her paws and neck!

It is growing so quickly

She's growing a mane!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Raw Key Lime Pie

Now, after being an exclusive raw foodist for a few years, (I began delving into it 5 years ago), I have now come to understand food and nutrition on a more balanced, whole-istic (haha, get it?!) approach. I eat mainly vegan but with a few lightly cooked local eggs in my diet whenever my body craves them (about three eggs every two months). I also oscillate between no dairy and local, organic aged cheese from happy, free-range, grass-fed organic cow's, sheep's, and goat's milk. Sometimes my body craves the B12 and good bacteria from the cheese and the omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin B12, vitamin A--and especially in the winter months--the vitamin D in the eggs. So, if I crave either eggs or cheese, I will eat them reasonably for a couple days until my body no longer finds them desirable. For certain  people, these foods are more appropriate and for others, less so. These particular discussions will come in the near future as another topic of discussion! In that discussion will also be a lot of information regarding the vegetarian VS omnivore debate.

I prefer to eat and cook raw food desserts especially because they have less empty calories, are often more flavorful, are in my opinion much more fun to create, and they almost always have a much higher nutrient, mineral, and antioxidant content than cooked foods. And since desserts are usually rich in fats and sugars, I prefer raw desserts because they have all of their enzymes in tact unlike conventional desserts. These enzymes help your body to break down all foods, and it is easier on the body to include as many enzymes as possible when eating particularly rich or hard-to-digest concentrated foods like dessert. So, get out those blenders and dig in!!

RAW KEY LIME PIE basic #1 recipe:
Makes one 9-inch springform pie. Make at least 4 hours ahead of time to allow pie to set.

To make the crust:
1 cup macadamia nuts or walnuts
1 cup raw, unsweetened shredded coconut
zest of 1/2 lime
dash salt
1 tsp vanilla extract or vanilla powder
2 1/2 T liquid coconut oil
2 T honey/ agave/maple syrup or to taste

-In a food processor, process first 5 ingredients until a coarse grind.
-Put mixture into large bowl and fold in last 2 ingredients until well-mixed
-If mix is too dry, begin by adding a small amount more of coconut oil and sweetener until desired consistency. If mixture seems too soft, don't fret!! The coconut oil will set when chilling in the fridge or freezer and make the filling stiffer and the crust hard.
-Line a 9-inch springform cake pan with saran wrap to make taking the cake out of the mold cleaner and easier and to prevent it from sticking
-Pour crust into pan and pat down mixture into an even layer

3 large, ripe avocados
1 cup soaked cashews
zest of 1 lime
1/3 cup liquid coconut oil
1/4 cup honey or agave syrup
stevia herb powder or stevia liquid to taste (to omit this, add 1 T more coconut oil and more sweetener to taste)
juice of 2 large or 2 1/2 smaller limes

-Blend all ingredients until smooth. If you do not have a vitamix blender then using a food processor may be an easier option to use as oftentimes thicker mixtures can stop up a blender's motor
-Pour filling into cake pan on top of crust

Optional Meringue Topping:
-1 cup soaked cashews
-1 tsp vanilla powder or extract
-2 T coconut oil
-2 T honey or agave +stevia to taste
-Juice of 1/2 lemon

-Blend all ingredients until smooth. If you do not have a vitamix blender then using a food processor may be an easier option to use as oftentimes thicker mixtures can stop up a blender's motor

-Pour toppng into cake pan on top of filling

Chill cake in freezer for 2 hours and then transfer to fridge and serve or let set 4 hours in fridge.
Serve with:

Key Lime Sauce:

1/3 c honey or agave
zest of 1 lime
juice of 1 lime

-Mix all ingredients by hand and serve drizzled over cake.

Food Talk and Bark Park

So first off, let's talk a bit about what kinds of food this website will be discussing. This website will focus primarily on organic, whole foods...local when possible. I'll focus on finding balance of one's own eating patterns and will help you to understand your own unique needs and how to optimize your health by creating an individualized diet and lifestyle. I will also help you to understand your body so that you can learn how to decode your body's reactions into messages of what it needs. For example, chronic lethargy, headaches, anxiety, insomnia, low sex drive, inability to concentrate, muscle cramps and pain, and weakness could all seem like symptoms of depression or a low thyroid. But, digging deeper one will find that all of these ailments including depression itself are often symptomatic of chronic magnesium deficiency. With more than 85% of the American population deficient in this mineral which plays a critical role in maintaining a healthy psychological and emotional state as well as maintaining heart health, it s very likely that this deficiency is at least one contributing factor.

After each discussion of minerals, medicinal-quality foods, or nutrients, I will include a recipe that will help you to eat more foods that contain high levels of the therapeutic compound, vitamin, or mineral. I will also include cooking tips, ideas, related facts, and lifestyle suggestions to help you to make as large or small a change in your life with the most support, joy, and ease. Remember, this should all be a fun learning experience with plenty of room to explore, screw up, laugh, grow, and celebrate! We are always moving forward whether we like it or not, so what do we have to lose to try and always be in the process of cultivating a better version of ourselves? Old habits, rituals, painful memories, traumatic experiences, and dips and chasms in the road will only hold us back. So, let us constantly be working on learning, growing, becoming more flexible, wonderful versions of ourselves that are truly happy and truly free!!

On that note, here are some pictures of my brother's Husky Zorra and some other very free and joyful dogs playing at the Bark Park! 

What a big smile!

Playing tag!

All grouped around their owner; look at all the love there!


Welcome to Alma Foods!!

Hello! This is me, Samara Ferris! And this is my blog! Welcome to Alma Foods and the beginnings of the first budding Food Renaissance! First off, what is an "alma" and what does it taste like? And if it tastes anything like a strawberry milkshake in the middle of a July day in Florida, where can I get one?!?! Well, "Alma" means soul in Spanish and thus a fun bilingual pun is born.....Soul Food! This website is dedicated to the study, discussion, and most importantly, the truth of food. And not just any food, no no no, whole, natural, organically-grown and local (if possible) food. We are living in a world of homogenized, labeled, processed, nutritionally empty, pasteurized food that neither feeds the needs of our bodies, our hearts, our conscience, our souls, nor the health of this world. But don't get down and blue just yet, there is good news! These vulnerable, ailed times are the best times for changes to occur: big ones. We cannot afford one more day of ignorance, of feeling sub-par, of guilt, shame, or lethargy. We need to take initiative, to help cultivate the love of food and health within ourselves and others and recapture our vibrancy, our energy, our laughter and our joy for food and life. This site is not limited to food, either, think lifestyle: how we see the world, how we clean our homes, old habits that hold us back, what we drive, how we love; food is just the starting point here: the base coat . So, thank you for taking the time to visit us at Alma Foods...don't be afraid to take a little peek into the cabinets or to take a two week bender to read up (which my lawyer just informed me presents itself as a possible if anyone asks, I didn't tell you to do it) on all the amazing information available here that we gathered up from a plethora of trusted and objective sources. Learn, teach, share inspiration, and always search for the truth.