By Tammera Karr PhD
The cacao tree, aptly named Theobroma cacao, by the famous botanist Carl Linnaeus. The cacao tree only grows within twenty degrees of the equator in the tropics’ damp conditions. Once mature, the tree will produce small, white flowers that can only be pollinated by midges, a fly no larger than a pencil’s tip. When cacao pods are mature, they are harvested by hand using a machete. Each pod is broken open to expose the beans and white pulp and collected into a pile. The beans and pulp remain outside in the heat and high humidity to undergo fermentation.
What is fermentation?
Fermentation is a metabolic process that occurs with microorganisms. Bacteria and yeast thrive in hot, moist climates, and the cacao pulp is an excellent nutrient source. In this case, the bacteria and yeast are needed to produce the precursor compounds necessary for chocolate’s characteristic flavor and aroma. Bacteria do this by eating some of the sugar and acid content, converting it into other molecules. Fermentation typically lasts for about a week. Once fermentation is complete, the farmers will separate the beans from the pulp, used as a nutrient source during fermentation. Next, the beans are left to dry in the sun.
A little history
In Greek, Theobroma translates to food of the gods. Chocolate connoisseurs know there is more than a gustatory pleasure to be found in this food of the gods. In 1753, Carl von Linnaeus, a Swedish scientist, thought cacao was so important he named the genus and species of tree Theobroma cacao, which means cacao, the food of the gods. This food dates back to prehistoric times and was extensively cultivated in Mexico, Central, and South America for centuries before Europeans’ arrived. 173 The Mayan Indians began cultivating cacao about 600 AD. The indigenous populations ate only the fruit, which contains numerous health benefits. The seed or cacao nib was set aside for a psychedelic brew, called ayahuasca, and for medicines. According to Aztec myth, the cacao awakened power and wisdom. When the explorer Cortes brought cacao back to Spain in 1528, it was sequestered and enjoyed only by nobility and the wealthy.
The many uses of chocolate
In medieval times, chocolate was viewed as a luxury item and an indulgence. In modern times chocolate is used as gifts for mothers and sweethearts. It is made into cocktails, cold and hot drinks, candies, powders, wines, and lotions. The Spanish are widely responsible for the introduction and development of chocolate foods and beverages.
The making of chocolate foods
The most critical step is roasting. Roasting generates hundreds of the flavor compounds associate with chocolate. The beans are roasted at high temperatures for roughly one hour. There are many chemical reactions responsible for cacoa color, flavor, and aroma. Cacoa naturally has a strong, pungent/bitter taste, which comes from the flavonols. Without roasting, the cacao beans would never obtain the flavor profile we associate with modern chocolate. Cacoa nibs are crushed to form cocoa butter and cocoa liquor. There are several processing steps involved in reducing cacaos bitter taste. Cocoa liquor has a very concentrated, chocolatey flavor with a trace of bitterness and acidity. Other ingredients like sugar, milk solids, vanilla, and emulsifiers are added to the pure cocoa liquor. The addition of these ingredients to the liquor results in a coarse, heterogeneous mixture that still must be further processed. The more chocolate is processed (through fermentation, alkalizing, roasting, etc.), the more flavanols are lost. 174
What science tells us about the health properties of chocolate
Flavonoids are naturally-occurring compounds found in plant-based foods that offer specific health benefits. They are part of the polyphenol group (chemicals found in plants). Flavanols are a type of flavonoid found explicitly in cocoa and chocolate. More than 4,000 flavonoid compounds are found in various foods and beverages, such as cranberries, apples, peanuts, chocolate, onions, tea, and red wine. Most popular commercial chocolates are highly processed, providing little if any health benefits.
Dark chocolate contains a large number of antioxidants (nearly eight times the amount found in strawberries). Flavonoids also help lower blood pressure nitric oxide production; they can also balance certain hormones. The fats in chocolate (1/3 oleic acid, 1/3 stearic acid, and 1/3 palmitic acid) do not impact your cholesterol. Dark chocolate helps restore flexibility to arteries while preventing white blood cells from sticking to blood vessels’ walls. Both arterial stiffness and white blood cell adhesion are known factors that play a significant role in atherosclerosis. Scientists found that increasing the flavanol content of dark chocolate did not change this effect. Research published in the March 2014 issue of The FASEB Journal.
The effect that dark chocolate has on our bodies is encouraging not only because it allows us to indulge with less guilt, but also because it could lead the way to therapies that do the same thing as dark chocolate but with better and more consistent results,” said Gerald Weissmann, MD, editor-in-chief of The FASEB Journal. Until the ‘dark chocolate drug’ is developed, however, we’ll have to make do with what nature has given us! 175, 177
Benefits of dark chocolate
Chocolate is a complex food with over 300 compounds and chemicals in each bite. Look for pure dark chocolate or dark chocolate with nuts, orange peel, or other natural flavorings. To enjoy and appreciate chocolate, take the time to taste it. Most studies used no more than 100 grams, or about 3.5 ounces, of dark chocolate a day. One bar of dark chocolate has around 400 calories.
Enjoy moderate portions of chocolate (e.g., one ounce) a few times per week, and don’t forget to consume other flavonoid-rich foods like apples, red wine, tea, onions, and cranberries. Your best choices are dark chocolate instead of milk chocolate (especially milk chocolate that is loaded with other fats and sugars) and cocoa powder that has not undergone Dutch processing (cocoa treated with an alkali to neutralize its natural acidity).
Caution: According to the National Hazardous Substances Database: In large doses, theobromine may cause nausea and anorexia, and the daily intake of 50-100g cocoa (1.5 g theobromine) has been associated with sweating, trembling, and severe headache. Occasionally, people (mostly the elderly) have needed hospital treatment for a theobromine reaction.
by Tammera J. Karr, PhD, BCHN, CNW, CGP
Before the advent of fast snack foods and giant box candies, we had a simple and dare I say, even beneficial snack food – popcorn. This week I read a report on Pepsi-Co launching two new fast service websites for home delivery of their Frito and Pepsi family of products directly to consumers.
This has me confused because everywhere I have been during the COVID-19 closures, the one group of foods the most accessible are junk foods. It is harder to find popcorn, then candy, pop, chips, and cookies. These calory dense snack foods are very much a product of the current modern age. Before the 1970s, snack foods were a treat used on occasion. Today these everpresent junk foods are being used as daily meal replacements for thousands of children in low-income households. Popcorn, by comparison, is a paragon of health virtue.
A Little History
Biblical accounts of “corn” stored in the pyramids of Egypt are a reference to other grains such as barley. The word “corn” was commonly used to refer to various grains in Europe, such as wheat, barley, and rye. In Scotland and Ireland, the term “corn” referred to oats. Maize was the ordinary American corn.
It is believed that the first use of wild and early cultivated corn was popping. Archeologists have found traces of popcorn in 1,000year-old Peruvian tombs. The oldest ears of popcorn ever found were discovered in the Bat Cave of west-central New Mexico in 1948 and 1950.
Popcorn was very popular from the 1890s until the Great Depression. Street vendors used to follow crowds around, pushing steam or gas-powered poppers through fairs, parks, and expositions. According to the Popcorn Board website, “Charles Cretors, founder of C. Cretors and Company in Chicago, introduced the world’s first mobile popcorn machine at the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893.
Scientific American reported: ‘This machine … was designed with the idea of moving it about to any location where the operator would be likely to do a good business. The apparatus, which is light and
durable, and weighing but 400 or 500 pounds, can be drawn readily by a boy or by a small pony to any picnic ground, fair, political rally, etc. and to many other places where a good business could be done for a day or two.
Popcorn at 5 or 10 cents a bag was one of the few luxuries down-and-out families could afford. During the Great Depression, the popcorn business thrived while other companies failed. A slump did happen during the early 1950s, with the arrival of TV. Attendance at movie theaters dropped and, with it, popcorn consumption. A new relationship between TV and popcorn was formed.
Many of us have fond memories of making Jiffy Pop™. Just this last week, while camping at my husbands’ remote job site, I went looking for JiffyPop. When I found it, it was interesting to read the ingredients list – it was a surprisingly simple list and free of many of the typical industrial additives that are detrimental to our health—developed in 1958 in LaPorte, Indiana. JiffyPop™ made it big when, in the 1970s, the stage magician Harry Blackstone, Jr. promoted the product jingle.
According to the non-GMO shopping guide, there is no GMO popcorn, so while hundreds of cone products are GMO and gene-edited, old fashioned popcorn is still the same as when you were a kid.
Our family likes to sit in the yard on a summer night, hang a sheet on the shop wall, and use the projector to screen movies while we enjoy our organic buttered popcorn. Just like the ol’ fashioned drive-in, but better. make as it is to eat.”
Here is to real food that we can have fun with.
by Tammera J. Karr, PhD, BCHN, CNW, CGP
In my home, we had canned and pickled sugar beets with a side of greens. For me, the beet greens were (and sometimes still are) the only edible part of the plant, but many people love beets in all their forms.
The first significant benefit of beets is that they are vasodilators. This is because they contain nitric oxide, which acts on the blood vessels to widen them. Imagine your veins and your arteries becoming wider.
While that might sound a little scary, what it means is that blood and oxygen are more easily able to get around the body. This then means that you get more energy to the parts of the body that need it and beets area considered incredibly useful for athletes. Another benefit of nitric oxide is that it encourages blood flow to the brain. This is important because it can help to boost attention, memory, and mood.
Betalain red-colored pigments are found in other foods like the stems of chard and rhubarb, but the peel and flesh of beets offer an unusually high concentration. An estimated 10-15 percent of U.S. adults experience beeturia (a reddening of the urine) after consumption of beets in everyday amounts. While this phenomenon is not harmful, it may indicate problems with iron metabolism. Individuals with iron deficiency, iron excess, or particular issues with iron metabolism are much more likely to experience beeturia than individuals with healthy iron metabolism.
Beets have been shown to help lower the amount of glucose in the blood as a result of the soluble fiber called inulin.
A little history
Like many fresh vegetables, beetroot was first cultivated by the Romans. In the 19th-century, it gained significant commercial value when it was discovered that beets could be converted into sugar. The Amalgamated Sugar Company was founded in 1897 in Logan, Utah, and is now located in Boise, Idaho. The company markets its sugar under the White Satin brand. By the 1950s, White Satin sugar was in every grocery store in the Pacific Northwest.
Beets are in the same family as chard and spinach, and both the leaves and root can be eaten. The leaves have a bitter taste, whereas the round root is sweet. Beets come in a variety of colors, including white and creamy yellow.
How and What
Beets can be eaten raw, cooked, or pickled. Beets are exceptionally healthy, especially the greens, which are rich in calcium, iron, and vitamins A and C. Beetroots are an excellent source of folic acid and a splendid source of fiber, manganese, and potassium. Beets help the liver to detoxify harmful chemicals from the body. The greens can be cooked up and enjoyed in the same way as spinach. A unique source of phytonutrients called betalains are found in beets. Betanin and vulgaxanthin are the two best-studied betalains found in beets, and both have been shown to provide antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and detoxification support.
Inulin is a dietary fiber that may benefit gut health.
Inulin is a type of soluble fiber found in beets and is a fructan. Like other fructans, it is a prebiotic, meaning that it feeds the good bacteria in the gut. Fructans are chains of fructose molecules. The molecules link together in a way that the small intestine cannot break down. Instead, they travel to the lower gut, where they feed beneficial gut bacteria.
The gut bacteria convert inulin and other prebiotics into short-chain fatty acids, which nourish colon cells and provide various other health benefits. Plants containing inulin have been around for thousands of years, and some early humans consumed much more inulin than we do today.
The gut microbiota is the population of bacteria and other microbes that live in the gut. This community is highly complex and contains both good and bad bacteria. Having the right balance of bacteria is essential for keeping the gut healthy and protect the body from disease. Inulin can help promote this balance. Studies have shown that inulin can help stimulate the growth of beneficial bacteria.
Increasing the amounts of healthful bacteria can help improve digestion, immunity, and overall health.
Here is to real foods that build our health.
by Tammera J Karr, PhD, BCHN, CNW, CGP
So often we forget about the nutrients that have been around for decades. Zinc is one of those minerals that have a multifaceted nature. Forty years ago the essential nature of zinc and human health was first reported in the Middle East. It is required for cellular enzyme function, the formation of hormones, and it provides the immune system with a unique skill – zinc is used by the immune system to strengthen the T-helper cells. The current estimate is that over 2,000 transcription factors may be zinc-dependent.
Zinc affects multiple aspects of the immune system. Zinc is crucial for the normal development and function of cells mediating innate immunity, neutrophils, and NK cells. Macrophages also are affected by zinc deficiency. The ability of zinc to function as an anti-oxidant and stabilize membranes suggests that it has a role in the prevention of free radical-induced injury during inflammatory processes.
The role of zinc in modulating oxidative stress has recently been recognized. Oxidative stress is an important contributing factor in several chronic human diseases, such as atherosclerosis and related vascular diseases, mutagenesis and cancer, neurodegeneration, immunologic disorders, and the aging process.
In studies of zinc deficiency, researchers found when zinc intake was insufficient it resulted in; decreased serum testosterone level, oligospermia, severe immune dysfunctions, hyperammonemia, neurosensory disorders, and decreased lean body mass. It appears that zinc deficiency is prevalent in the developing world and as many as two billion subjects may be growth retarded due to zinc deficiency. Besides growth retardation and immune dysfunctions, cognitive impairment due to zinc deficiency also has been reported recently. Our studies in the cell culture models showed that the activation of many zinc-dependent enzymes and transcription factors were adversely affected due to zinc deficiency.
For viruses to anchor to cells, we have to have a week immune system, which is a result of poor diet, sleep and heightened stress. Zinc is pivotal in the effectiveness of the anti-malarial drug function being used for COVID-19, and it is responsible for loss or off-taste and smell being reported by those who have recovered from COVID-19.
A lack of zinc can make a person more susceptible to disease and illness, along with increased risk for macular degeneration and infertility. According to a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, “zinc-deficient persons experience increased susceptibility to a variety of pathogens.”
According to the European Journal of Immunology, the human body needs zinc to activate T lymphocytes (T cells). T cells help the body in two ways: controlling and regulating immune responses and attacking infected or cancerous cells
Zinc is responsible for a number of functions in the human body, and it helps stimulate the activity of at least 100 different enzymes. Only a small intake of zinc is necessary to reap the benefits. The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for zinc in the United States is 8 milligrams (mg) a day for women and 11 mg a day for men.
Vegetarians may require up to 50 percent more than the recommended intake of zinc because of the low bioavailability of zinc from plant-based foods.
Foods with the highest reported zinc content are:
raw oysters (Pacific),
beef, lean chuck roast
baked beans, canned
King Alaskan crab,
ground beef, lean
Zinc supplements are also available in the form of capsules and tablets. However, the tolerable upper limit for zinc is 40 milligrams for males and females over 18 years. It has been proven time and again that isolating certain nutrients in supplement form will not provide the same health benefits as consuming the nutrient from whole food. First, focus on obtaining your daily zinc requirement from foods, then use supplements as a backup if necessary.
To a Healthy Spring, Real Foods and Resiliency
Prasad, Ananda S. “Zinc in human health: effect of zinc on immune cells.” Molecular medicine (Cambridge, Mass.) vol. 14,5-6 (2008): 353-7. doi:10.2119/2008-00033.Prasad
by Tammera J. Karr, PhD, BCHN, CGP, CNW
Cultures throughout the ages have celebrated the return of spring after a long, harsh winter by eating the first new greens available. Native Americans took advantage of fresh, wild plants to supplement their winter diets of dried foods; foraging in woodlands or near streams could bring in an entire meal of crisp flavorful and restorative greens.
Mushrooms often sprouted with the renewed moisture of spring; experts had to hunt for this very nutritious, but dangerous food. Women hunted dandelions, wild onions and leeks, ramps, chickweed, poke, and wild mustard (or a related plant called “creasy greens”) as soon as possible since many of these plants get more bitter as they grow older. Even young, tender leaves and shoots can be bitter, but these wild plants are very nutritious and have long been considered a tonic to wake up the liver and kidneys after a long winter diet of dried starches (like beans and pumpkin) and meat.
Traditional (Algonquin) Green Salad: One-part wild onions or leeks, chopped, and one and a half parts dandelion leaves, to four parts watercress. Add a small amount of sheep or wood sorrel, and then flavor to taste. Add a bit of maple syrup for sweetness, or use other traditional flavorings like salt, along with enough oil to coat the leaves.
Spring Food locally available: Purple Sprouting Broccoli, Broccoli, Cabbages, Curly Kale, Rhubarb, Leeks, Spring Greens, rabbit, lamb, Wild Salmon, steelhead, Crab, Oysters, Cauliflower, Celeriac, Chicory, Cockles, Cod, Hake, Parsley, Mint, Spring Onions. Lettuces, Radishes, Spring Greens, Sea Kale, Watercress, Morel Mushrooms, Wild Garlic, Sorrel, Rhubarb, New Potatoes, Halibut, Sea Bass, Lemon Sole, Spinach.
All and many more of the foods listed here are available in our local farmer’s markets. Eating seasonally provides us with an opportunity to rebalance our immune systems, restore vital nutrients, control blood sugars and weight, reduce heart disease and cancer risks, and improve digestion and cognition.
The Science for Seasonally Eating
According to research studies, nutrient content changes in foods depending on which seasons they were produced in. For example, in a study conducted by the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, and Food in London, England researchers found that nutrient content was different in milk harvested in the summer versus winter. Because of the change in the cow’s diet to less fresh plants in the summer, these cows produced nutritionally different kinds of milk. Japanese researchers also found tremendous differences in the nutritional content of spinach harvested in summer versus winter.
A Stanford study backs seasonal eating for healthy Microbiome; published in the Science journal; researchers found that the microbes in the members of the Hadza tribe in Tanzania change dramatically with each season, in sync with seasonal changes made to their diet.
The study showed that certain gut microbes that reside within the gut in one season may almost disappear in the next – suggesting there are dramatic changes taking place in the microbiome from one season to the next. The researchers concluded that the Hadza tribe’s gut microbes and their digestion is cyclical, and in sync with the precise bio-rhythm of nature.
A study published by the University of Missouri confirmed the availability of local food as a key to improving food security. This is so very important for the low income of every community which is made up in large part by elderly and children. Most strategies to assist the hungry, including food banks, and providing food stamps through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, are short-term, emergency solutions. Those who rely on these programs face daily shortages of fresh and healthy foods, which lead to poor diet choices, nutritional deficiencies, and health problems. An expert at the University of Missouri says the production of sustainable, locally grown foods is key to providing long-term food security for communities.
To local foods and our health.
by Tammera J. Karr
Often we catch the flu because our immune systems have been worn down by poor eating habits, stress, long hours and overindulging. This may be one of the reasons, so many folks come down with the flu following the holiday season.
All the news is about the Coronavirus – as we have learned from Dr. Jane M. Orient, this virus makes regular runs through the population. The effects on health vary because of the individual immune system response. So, the healthier your immune system the better chances you have of dodging any flu viruses that you may encounter. Over time, silver has been used for numerous medical conditions, mostly empirically before the realization that microbes were the agents of infection.
At the turn of the century, there were over 90 medications that contained silver; it is still used in third world countries due to its affordability and effectiveness. Burn patients, whether from radiation therapy or accident, are treated with Silvadene cream due to its ability to reduce inflammation, pain, and scar tissue and prevent infection.
Because silver weakens the wall of the bacteria, it also allows conventional antibiotics to enter more easily. Research on mice at Boston University showed that with silver added, lower doses of antibiotic drugs were needed to kill bacteria. Silver was also able to reverse the antibiotic resistance of E. coli bacteria, making them once more susceptible to tetracycline. The mice were left unharmed by the silver.
This is huge, if only because it may force medical authorities to recognize silver as a therapeutic agent. It could also be the answer to the growing problem of antibiotic-resistant diseases that are becoming endemic
Vitamin C has a long and well-documented history of improving immune function. Not everyone can tolerate high dose vitamin C in the form of ascorbic acid; however, taken in natural food form, the associated GI disturbances are often a non-issue. Citrus is one of the best-known sources. Of all citrus fruits, lemons and limes have the highest citric acid content, about 1.4 grams per ounce, or about 8 percent of their dry weight. Lemons and limes also contain ascorbic acid, or vitamin C, and malic acid.
Pomegranate juice contains higher levels of antioxidants than most other fruit juices. It also has three times more antioxidants than red wine and green tea. The antioxidants in pomegranate juice can help remove free radicals, protect cells from damage, and reduce inflammation. The juice of a single pomegranate has more than 40 percent of your daily requirement of vitamin C.
Viruses do not become resistant to herbs like they do to commonly prescribed medications, many of which are intended for bacterial infections. Herbs strengthen the immune system without killing the beneficial flora that resides in the digestive system. Remember that 85 percent of your immune system is in your digestive tract. Overuse of antibiotics can lead to side effects and drug-resistant microbes.
Horehound has been used to make lozenge candies that are believed to help heal sore throats, improve your appetite, and relieve intestinal gas. Horehound contains a variety of nutrients that are needed for the immune system to work they include; Examples include B-complex vitamins, iron, potassium, and vitamins A, C, and E. Other conditions that horehound may help include sinus inflammation, hay fever symptoms, and abdominal swelling. Horehound is also known to increase immune system activity.
Garlic and Onions
Studies have shown that onion extracts, like those of garlic, decrease blood sugar and lipid levels, prevent clots, lower blood pressure, reduce inflammation (onions are one of the only foods that contain prostaglandin E1), improve asthma and allergies and retard viruses by strengthening the immune system. Vitamin C, fiber, biotin, folate, chromium, vitamin K, and thiamine are found in members of the onion family.
These are just a few of the hundreds of effective holistic ingredients that support our health during times of virus outbreaks.
To a flu-free late winter and spring.
by Tammera J. Karr
The 21st century has presented us with more than one challenger to our health. How can it be that what is seemingly innocent or benign factors could be the cause of so many health problems? Modern innovation has provided us with countless tools and conveniences that make our jobs and lives easier. The unintended consequences of innovation can be more plastic trash, fractured time, and industrial denatured foods. How do we take out the trash both figuratively and physically without driving ourselves and others, around the bend? I look back at what was the normal before …. Which often was simple, affordable solutions to everyday needs.
Our most proactive and sustainable changes for our health involve adding more vegetables and removing 300 calories a day.
Here is one example: I have a client who is a truck driver. He tries to eat as best he can on the road five days a week, but there is not much selection in truck stops. He tries to make some food he can take with him, but he only has a tiny refrigerator and no real way to cook on the road.
Solutions: Incorporate a shake once a day with freeze-dried fruit and vegetable powders. 12-volt blenders make smoothie mixes palatable, or blended coffees. The freeze-dried blends add in greater nutrient variety; they also can be used as a touch of seasoning flavor, provided they do not contain protein powders or other flavorings like strawberry and chocolate.
He plans 2 hours on a day off to make up small airtight containers with raw vegetables, nuts, and fruit. It is much easier to eat a handful of sugar snap peas, kohlrabi, turnip, broccoli stems or yam slices than to stop and peal or try and eat whole. I recommend the glass Snapware brand because they seal tight and, they do not leak. Our experience has been the glass containers fit easily in a small soft-sided cooler and work in a HotLogic. Experience has shown us foods hold up in these containers in the fridge or cooler for 3-4 days.
Hard-boiled eggs in the shell, canned chicken, pork, beef or fish like sardines and salmon are easy proteins. The eggs are good in a small refrigerator or cooler with plenty of ice for three-four days. The low sodium canned meats do not require refrigeration and can be used with convenience store salads, rye crackers, or a loaf of hearty bread: pre-cook brown rice or red potatoes add more variety.
Next my client purchased a small HotLogic portable food warmer. Before heading down the road, he uses the prepped vegetables in their glass dish, a small sliced potato, one can of meat, with liquid, and plugs into the 12-volt outlet on his dash. In 2-3 hours, he has a meal hot and ready to eat when he fuels up or parks.
For this individual spending, a little time prepping for the coming week and investing in a couple of small appliances meant he dropped 400 calories a day without having to think about it or go hungry. He increased his vegetable consumption and found he passed up chips and snacks because he wasn’t craving them or fighting sleep. On his weekends, he enjoys eating with his family or friends’ guilt-free.
The increase in vegetables in his daily routine does more than act as fuel; they provide valuable fiber for removing harmful chemicals. They feed our brain for cognition, support healthy blood sugar, build the microbiome supporting our immune systems, remove excess cholesterol, and sodium while providing potassium and magnesium for heart health.
All we have to do is think back to times before, prepackaged processed foods, and fried convenience foods from gas stations. While those foods are easy, they are also at the heart of America’s growing health problems. Do you remember – Lunches of fried chicken, cold steak and potatoes, meatloaf, bread and butter, apples, carrots, tomatoes, biscuits and meat pies, and Stanly lunch boxes?
Returning to Real Foods for health.
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Let’s Begin the Journey of a Lifetime!
by Tammera J. Karr, PhD
It all began with my normal fall clearing out, note I didn’t say cleaning, that would imply the dust and cobwebs are also gone. Every year we go through our clothes and household items and bag up what we no longer like, need or ware for a local charity. The bag of clothes gets smaller every year as we have fewer family members gifting us with Christmas sweaters that no one will wear. hahaha, Next came, a request for book donation at a conference I am involved with, this meant selecting over 50 books from my office reference library that are no longer needed. Truth be told, they may not have ever been needed, but they are books and sometimes the hardest item for me to turn loose off.
The real tipping point came when I moved 2 terabytes of collected, and I’ll admit hoarded data, documents, images, pdfs, and twenty plus years of client files and presentations – to a larger five terabyte external drive. Well as all things go, not always as planned, the majority of this information is now gone — Puff just like that. I wish cleaning the closet out was as easy. Hahaha
Now, this should have put me into a tailspin of panic – how will I ever recover the lost information? Instead, I felt a lightening of my shoulders as the weight of more stuff was lifted both physically and mentally. I thought about why. My memory leads me back to a few days prior when a dear friend and mentor shared a story about her grandmother. Whenever my friend went to her grandmother’s as a child or young woman, tea was served, and each family member had their own special cup and saucer. Recently this lady who is now a grandmother herself asked her son if he wanted the special teacup. The son, asked if any other family member had an interest, the answer was no. “Mom, this cup holds memories for you, but I never knew my great grandmother, I have no memories, stories or connection to her other than you. So while I appreciate the sentiment, this cup and saucer really don’t mean anything to me, and I would never use them.”
My friend went on to tell a second story of loving to play the piano, and how her husband got tired of moving her childhood piano from home to home, he instead got her a top of the line electric piano that could be plaid with headphones, and a fraction of the weight or worry about damage. This allows her to play whenever she feels the call of music with no worries over disturbing others in her home. Her joy in playing and the flow of the music is not diminished, only the weight of a physical item.
As I thought about these life lessons shared by my mentor, I realized the weight and burden of our lives accumulated possessions doesn’t have to be a heavy burden for us or our family, who eventually have the job of sorting and disposing of our stuff. My husband and I know this all too well after four family members died, and we were tasked with sorting and clearing away their life’s collections. As we looked at photos and other items we too said the same words of my friends’ son – “we don’t know any of these people or the sentiment of this or that…it isn’t something we will use or want.”
We are not the only ones to face turning loose of valued possessions, countless objects, including books, furniture, clothes, and more were left by pioneers traveling the Oregon and Immigrant trails west. Life went on, the load was lightened, and the goals of reaching a new location and a future achieved.
The second thought came when I purged all the chicken carcasses, giblets, and vegetables from my freezer for making our winters supply of soup stock. Did you really think there would be no mention of food? Not all purging is a bad thing or a loss. In this case, my hoarding of scraps so to speak is transformed into countless meals filled with nutrients and the gift of thrift honoring past generations who never wasted food that could be made into something else.
Currently, in America, we are drowning in garbage – trash that has no redeeming value to our future. Most of it contains off cast plastics and waisted food. I could have easily tossed the summers leftovers into the trash like so many do. These scraps still have value in the form of broth and provide nutrients for our body far more efficiently then that found in a can or bag from the market. So out came the kettle, and a huge pot of broth is simmering and ready to go into glass jars. These same jars are perpetually in use, reducing our household trash also. The purging of my freezer isn’t about being “scotch” with our food budget or saving the environment; it is about retaining traditional values, honoring the farmers, and merchants that provide our food and my husbands’ labors to provide the income to buy it. Living life by example for our family or individuals passing through our life adds a value that lasts far longer than the food or jars that have been in use for decades.
There will always be more books, information, and stuff that enter our life, but hopefully, we retain the lessons on keeping only that which has value to the future.
To Fall Cleaning and Homemade Soup.
© 2019 Holistic Nutrition for the Whole you
The Aesop Fable of the Ant and Grasshopper has been on my mind a lot the last few weeks as the Federal Furlough of over 800,000 individuals like my husband goes on. I reflected on this story:
“In a field one summer’s day, a Grasshopper was hopping about, chirping and singing to its heart’s content. An Ant passed by, bearing along with great toil an ear of corn he was taking to the nest. “Why not come and chat with me,” said the Grasshopper, “instead of toiling and moiling in that way?”
“I am helping to lay up food for the winter,” said the Ant, “and recommend you to do the same.”
“Why bother about winter?” said the Grasshopper; “We have got plenty of food at present.” But the Ant went on its way and continued its toil.
When the winter came, the Grasshopper had no food and found itself dying of hunger – while it saw the ants distributing every day corn and grain from the stores they had collected in the summer.
Then the Grasshopper knew: It is best to prepare for days of need”.
First, let me say I am not one of the modern “Preppers,” If you must pace a label on me – the closest most days would be that of a “Traditionalist” who sees the value of wise counsel and wisdom from the past. This Aesop’s fable while short holds true wisdom, especially for members of the modern American world.
When I reflect on the young federal employees I know with babies and blossoming lives; I see the two veterans who served their country in the Marines, I see the Postal worker or crew foreman decorated for his or her service to our country. Granted many of the federal employees are not veterans, they may be single parents, or people just like you with responsibilities and dependents.
The fable of the ant and grasshopper and the lesson it shares, I can only hope has been taken to heart by not just those on furlough but also by you the readers of this column. We need more than money in the bank to get us through the storms and winters of life, and those who plan for the short payday, seasonal lay off or rock slide benefit from lower incidence of stress-induced illnesses.
Hypertension, type 2 diabetes, migraines, anxiety, insomnia, and cancer are all chronic illnesses that increase with stress. Food insecurity for the elderly and low-income members of our communities compounds stress and anxiety. Now I like many of you think stress gets a bad rap in today’s world to often the word “stress” is used as an excuse. Stress is a fact of life and necessary – the difference is how we cope and teach our youth to prepare for its inevitability. My Grandmother, Aunt, and Mother-in-Law all, by example, shared the importance of having a full pantry, and store of paper products – No one wants to be without toilet paper, trust me!
Taking advantage of local produce when it is in season is an excellent place to start. Canning fruit was one of the first things I learned. Glass jars are reusable, safe and easy to use for food storage. It was years before my parents were able to afford a freezer; canning allowed venison, fish, vegetables, and fruit to be available year around. Home canned foods fill the gaps for when fresh produce is unavailable, poor quality or as to frequently the case today – recalled for contamination.
Dehydrating of fruit and nuts, at first was done with screen racks over the floor furnace vent or in the sun in the yard. Today we can purchase efficient food dryer/dehydrators for home use that can be used to make far more than apple slices. Dried foods are lightweight and easy to transport. Additionally, even if you live in a tiny house, apartment, dorm room or RV, a food dryer can be found to fit the space you have.
A small 7 cu. Ft freezer may be all you have room for, but it provides storage for extra meat, vegetables or fruit available from local farms, ranches or seasonal grocery sales.
Just like the ant of Aesops fable the effort we spend on storing food for the winter, yields security and peace of mind during those times of high stress and uncertainty. While money may come and go in our lives, I know the pantry is full, and we can make it to summer.
To Traditional Food and Wisdom of Old
by Tammera J. Karr, PhD
Fats are hydrophobic. In other words, fats repel water. Even oil-based emulsions like mayonnaise rely on a third party to hold each tiny droplet of oil in suspension—egg yolk, mustard, or certain starches are common choices. Despite what some folks tell you, food fried at higher temperatures actually absorb more oil than those fried at cooler temperatures. Natural oils and fats are traditional cooking mediums. Today’s best options are cold pressed, extra virgin oils, and organic humanely raised animal fats. The more filtered an oil, the lower the mineral and polyphenol content. Always buy oils that are solvent-free.
Fats conduct heat and can do so at higher temperatures than water. When you baste a roast in fatty pan drippings, that coating functions as a temperature buffer, allowing your food to heat evenly and preventing the exterior from drying out before the interior is fully cooked. Under normal conditions, water cannot be heated past its boiling point of 212° F at sea level, whereas fats can reach temperatures of 400-500° F.
Fats lubricate food preventing sticking to cookware surfaces.
Fats add or enhance flavor and enhance textural nuances of foods. This is vital for “mouth feel.” Many of the flavor compounds that make herbs and aromatics such compelling seasonings are what we call fat-soluble, meaning they will actually spread and coat your tongue better when they are immersed in lipids. Using fat in anything from marinades to braises helps coax out, layer, and evenly distribute flavors.
Monounsaturated oils, specifically olive oil increase the nutrients available through digestion. The tradition of tomatoes and olive oil is well supported by research; the antioxidant content of the tomatoes increases when combined with olive oil.
Traditionally, oils are extracted from nuts and seeds through mechanical crushing and pressing. If bottled immediately, the oil is a cold-pressed “raw” or “virgin” oil, which tends to retain its natural flavor and color. Virgin in the case of olive oil also signifies only the perfect fruits were used. Unrefined oils have higher levels of minerals, enzymes, and other compounds highly sensitive to heat and tend to be susceptible to rancidity; these are the oils best-suited to drizzling, dressings, and lower temperature cooking.
To produce oil with a high smoke point, manufacturers use industrial-level refinement; bleaching, filtering, and high-temperature heating to extract and eliminate extraneous compounds. This produces a neutral-flavored oil with a long shelf life and a higher smoke point.
Clarified butter and ghee follow the same basic concept: a process designed to extract more heat-sensitive components; milk solids—from fat to raise its smoke point. When heated past its smoke point, fat starts to break down, releasing free radicals.
Health Benefits of Traditional Fats
Fats speak to the integral health of our whole body. Without healthy fats, we would not exist. 
Olive Oil is not only one of the oldest oils still in use for cooking, but it also has some impressive science to support its use for health. The unrefined olive oil contains minerals, vitamins and compounds that serve as anti-inflammatories. This is especially important when it comes to brain health. , ,  The antioxidants in olive oil are essential for aiding the digestive system in absorbing nutrients found in vegetables. Especially those high in carotenoids; winter squash, carrots, tomatoes, lycopene: tomatoes, peppers, broccoli, kale and xanthine; dark greens, cruciferous vegetables, chard.
For a maximum flavor reach for extra virgin olive oil, you may want several types on hand providing a delicate fruity or strong peppery flavor. For times when you don’t want a lot a pronounced flavor, you can use “Classic” olive oil or “Pure.”
How you plan to use each type of olive oil matters because the flavor is affected by cooking. Olive oils, especially extra-virgin, have a varying range of smoke points, this depends on the type of olive, where it was grown, and how it was produced.
The International Olive Council (IOC) in Madrid, Spain, sets the grades and standards for world olive oil trade, which members of the North American Olive Oil Association agree to follow. 
To Traditional Foods made with Care and Intention, Flavored with Love.
 Extra-virgin olive oil preserves memory, protects brain against Alzheimer’s; June 21, 2017, Temple University Health System: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/06/170621103123.htm
 Extra‐virgin olive oil ameliorates cognition and neuropathology of the 3xTg mice: role of autophagy; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5553230/
 Mediterranean-type diet and brain structural change from 73 to 76 years in a Scottish cohort; http://n.neurology.org/content/early/2017/01/04/WNL.0000000000003559.short?sid=f6a60041-6b89-41fe-827d-49a0f92359fa