chia seed and flax seed

So you’ve been reading about chia seed.   (I know this because I get lots of questions about it.)   Yep, I’m talking about the little things that grow the chia pet, now getting lots of attention as a power food.   And it is.   A highly expensive one (I bought a pound of it recently for about $18).

Chia seed has 7 times as much iron as spinach.   At 18%, it has more protein than beef, and its amino acids comprise  a complete protein.   It slows conversion of sugars in the bloodstream, so it’s great to eat with a  high-sugar meal.   (I mean  like potatoes or fruit–hopefully y’all have abandoned or are at least minimizing refined sugars.)

Its mucilaginous properties mean it absorbs toxins, and it’s fantastic for weight loss.   I don’t like to eat after dinner, so if my dinner was light and I get really hungry later, what I do is eat a large spoonful of chia seed and chase it with a big glass of water.   It absorbs 10 times its own weight in fluids, so it fills you up when you are hungry with hardly any calories.

It tastes mild–tastes like nothing, really.   You can sprinkle it in cereal, or put it in a smoothie–but it will dramatically thicken your smoothie.   For that matter, it’s a great thickener!   Put 1  tsp. chia seed in 3 Tbsp. water, and you’ve got yourself an egg replacement.

It’s packed with those rare Omega fatty acids that your body cannot manufacture and must receive from foods–in perfect proportions.   And it stores for a very long time!

I highly recommend it.   I’ll find a way eventually to get it for cheaper in a local group buy (maybe national–we’ll see!).   I wish it were less expensive.

Now flax seed is still quite inexpensive at less than $1/lb.   You can watch my YouTube video making flax crackers if you want to hear more about its virtues, or read Ch.  4 of 12 Steps to Whole Foods. (All my demos are on GreenSmoothieGirl.com under the Videos tab now–and I have lots of new ones coming.)

Just want to share a thought from GSG reader Rochelle T., who happens to also be my cousin, whom I set up with her husband 19 years ago!   (I have 65 first cousins, 49 of them Romneys, but she’s the one I’ve been closest to my whole life–now she has 5 children.)   She was trying to figure a way to get flaxseed in her diet every day.   She just eats a spoonful of ground flax seed every morning, chasing it with water.   She says it’s nutty and pleasant tasting and it’s a great habit she’s gotten into.   Great idea.   Keep in mind that grinding flax seed (unnecessary with chia) makes its nutritional properties much more available.   Just don’t grind it far in advance, as it goes rancid quickly.

Hope this is helpful!

Food combining for “perfect proteins”

Dear GreenSmoothieGirl:  Do you have any information on what kinds of vegetables need to be eaten together to make a complete protein? Do they need to be eaten at the same time, or just within the same day, so many hours of each other, etc.

 

Answer:  This is an excerpt from Ch. 6 of my e-book 12 Steps to Whole Foods:

 

Most of the main dishes in this chapter are high in protein because I have designed the recipes to contain both a whole grain and a legume.  Together, their amino acids complete each other to make a “perfect protein.”  Recipes in this chapter that contain a grain/legume combination are identified with an asterisk (*), showing that they qualify as a “perfect protein.”  I include the “perfect protein” designations not because I think such food combining is necessary, but because others do and feel better knowing they have it in their main dish.

 

No wonder indigenous people used legumes and grains together for thousands of years—millions of people on this planet have subsisted primarily on the combination of beans and rice.  At dinner, everyone wants energy-sustaining food, and that’s a good way to get it.  However, don’t obsess about the “perfect protein,” feeling that the only true meal must qualify under this banner.  Many experts, including Dr. Robert O. Young, say that if you eat green food, your body has all the amino acids in a free-floating pool to assemble proteins, so you don’t have to eat all of them simultaneously to get enough protein.  The amino acids you eat are used over a 24-hour period, so you needn’t make rocket science of your eating habits.  Just eat lots of plant foods, especially greens. 

 

Because of the way amino acids in plant foods combine, the amount of protein in a legume or grain doesn’t give the whole picture.  Trust your body to manufacture enough protein, even if your food isn’t “quality” protein.  “Quality” only means that it matches human flesh closely, as animal protein does.  The building blocks of proteins are amino acids, and your body can assemble proteins when you give it all the amino acids found in dishes made of a variety of five natural, whole food categories: grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, and vegetables.  If you are imagining these foods being a limited menu, think again: you have a huge variety of highly sustaining foods to choose from!

You don’t eat meat? Then where do you get your protein?

I know, I’ve blogged about this more than any other subject.   But I’m going to say a few more things about it today, just in a slightly different way, because of that old statistic that people have to hear something 11 times before they believe it.   And because that’s the question we plant eaters get most often, “But where do you get your PROTEIN?”

 

The World Health Organization says humans need 5 percent of daily calories to be protein.   The USDA says 6.5 percent.   On average, here’s what plant foods contain:

 

Fruits                                                                                                   5 percent

Vegs                                                                                                 20-50 percent

Sprouts, nuts, beans, grains, seeds:             10-25 percent

 

So you get plenty of protein from plants.   When you eat these proteins raw, they’re undamaged by heat and therefore more usable by your body, too.   Greens are highest in protein of the vegetables, so they are ideal for building and repair in the body.   We have a protein excess in the Western diet, not a protein deficiency.

 

Amino acids are protein’s building blocks.   Animal flesh combines those amino acids in a highly structured way–that’s all it means when people talk about “quality” proteins.   On the other hand, vegetable proteins are comprised of free-floating amino acids.   The first 8 amino acids are called “essential” because we have to acquire them from food.   The last 14 are built from the first 8.   Vegetable proteins, in free form, are easier to digest, give you more energy, and contribute to beauty and feeling well!

 

Some say, “But I feel better when I get much more protein.”   Years ago, I felt the same way–I noticed I had more energy eating chicken and fish.   Then I recognized truth when a book I was reading said that many animal protein eaters experience weakness/fatigue when they go off animal protein because of the inevitable cleansing that results.   So they attribute the difference in the way they feel to “needing” meat rather than feeling poorly when they cleanse as an adjustment to ending an addiction.   (These opinions are then further supported by diet-plan promoters who advocate for unnatural amounts of protein, as well as scientifically unsupported “blood type” and “metabolic type” authors.)

 

I put the idea that my “feeling better” was related to cleansing, not need, to the test.   I can honestly say I have more energy now than ever before.   It’s not true what people say, that you’re just going to feel worse in your 40’s than you did in your 20’s!   I feel MUCH better at 41 than I did in my 20’s!   I just had to go off chicken and fish for LONG ENOUGH.   I plan to never go back to eating those foods  full of antibiotics, steroids, foodborne bacteria, and all kinds of pathogens.

Good, Better, Best: what should I put on my cereal?

***Note: I apologize to all those who have sent me unanswered email questions.   I am trying to get to them all.   FYI, I  prioritize what is blogged over what is emailed.   :-)  

Dear GreenSmoothieGirl: What should I put on my cereal?

Most people put fractionated (skim, 1%, or 2%) antibiotic- and steroid- and hormone-treated cow’s milk on their cereal.   Then, they figure out that dairy isn’t good for them and they switch to soy milk, another fractionated/processed, highly  estrogenic and thyroid-suppressing food.   (A great man named Ezra Taft Benson who held the highest agriculture post in the U.S. said, in the 1950’s, way before  research showed this more definitively, that any time we alter our food source, it will be to our detriment.)   I recommend you avoid both of these options altogether.   Even if you’re not a milk drinker, you may wonder what to put on your cereal.

Good: (1) Rice Dream (still a bit processed but made from brown rice and unsweetened) or  almond milk from the health food store, or (2) raw, whole dairy milk

Better: Raw goat’s milk (an especially good option for young children)

Best: Homemade nut “mylk” (put 1 part nuts like cashews, almonds, or pumpkin seeds, soaked overnight and drained, with 4 parts water in your BlendTec and puree until smooth, optionally with a tsp. of vanilla)

Why is raw goat’s milk better for you than dairy?   First, you usually find it directly from the people milking the goats, not huge dairies using many chemicals.   It’s raw, not homogenized or pasteurized, thus retaining its enzymes.   It has a smaller fat molecule than cow’s milk, so it permeates the human semipermeable membranes rather than causing the body to produce mucous to flush it out.   And its enzyme and amino acid profile is more similar to human milk.   Babies weaned onto it do better than with dairy or soy.  

Nut mylk avoids animal proteins altogether, and if you soak the nuts overnight, they are germinated and “live,” containing an abundance of enzymes to add to your breakfast cereal, not to mention good omega 3 fatty acids and a wealth of vitamins, minerals–and  insoluble fiber, if you don’t strain  it (just shake before using).

Parenting Skills for Young Children

My next week of blogging will be about one of my favorite topics, possibly the #1 question I am asked—and the one I care about most.   How do I get my kids to eat right?   That is, parenting skills for young children when it comes to food and nutrition.   These blogs are derived from the introduction of my program 12 Steps to Whole Foods.

Taking on the 12 steps in the program is a worthy goal for anyone, and you can make these changes whether or not you have children, and whether or not they live at home.   But one of my greatest passions in life is to help parents understand the importance of excellent nutrition early in life and implement strategies to achieve it.   So if you have children at home (or are close to people who do), this is for you.

I have found dieticians to be largely useless and sometimes harmful in the way they teach mothers about nutrition.   (I’m sure truth-seeking dieticians do exist, however.)   Keep in mind that these are the folks designing the menus in school and hospital lunchrooms.   (Enough said?)   It’s not their fault: they are taught curricula heavily influenced and even written by the wealthiest industries in America: the dairy and meat conglomerates.

My experience is that dieticians feel their main job is to push milk and dairy products, because they have been taught that these products create strong bones and teeth.   I spoke with a dietician recently who had never heard of the ingredients in my Appendix A (whole-food sweeteners and other nutrition products you can find in health food stores).   She taught in a class I attended that getting your child to drink “flavored” milk is a great idea. By that she means hormone- and antibiotic-contaminated milk with pink chemical dye and plenty of sugar added.   Dieticians also believe that to get protein, you need to eat plenty of animal flesh.

I have looked elsewhere for my own nutrition education and strongly recommend you do the same, to increase your nutrition-related parenting skills for young children.   I don’t advocate for vegetarianism, but rather for increasing whole plant foods in the diet.   But the most bioavailable sources of calcium for humans are not found in the milk of other animals.   And protein is manufactured and utilized by the human body very well when the range of amino acids (the building blocks of proteins) in whole plant foods are supplied as fuel.   We need look no further than our vegetarian cousins, the primates, for evidence of this.

 [more tomorrow]