A story about Marlena in Redding

blendtecThe folks at Blendtec are a blessing to me, and to lots of others, too. They give me a $435 blender to give to one lucky attendee at each of my classes. Once, to an audience of 400 in Dallas, I said:

“This amazing machine is a game-changer for your health. I really wish I could give one to ALL of you!” A lady on the back row yelled out, with her Southern drawl:

oprah“IF YOU WAS OPRAH, YOU WOULD!!”

Well, I’m not Oprah. But I love having one shiny, new giveaway blender at every class. Thank you, Blendtec! Check out Marlena’s story. She came up to me after class and told me her 3-year old daughter was at home, very ill, on her fourth course of Prednisone in three months.

She’d just heard the story of my son’s desperately ill first 15 months of life as a stunted-growth, Failure to Thrive baby on constant steroids and bronchodilators. And the miracle that occurred when we eliminated milk, sugar, white flour, and other processed junk. The story culminates in my son leading the state of Utah in RBI’s his Senior year, and leading his team to State in baseball as the MVP of the team, hitting two grand slams, and pitching a 5-inning near-shutout (12-1) in the finals. He’s 6’4”.

Marlena hadn’t even wanted to come. She wasn’t interested in the message. She just knew I was giving away a Total Blender, plus she knew our longtime reader, Pam Opdyke, would be so disappointed if she didn’t show. Check out Marlena’s story here:

Top 10 legumes, part 3 of 4

legume wordHere’s a primer on using some of my favorite whole foods with a weird name, pronounced “lay-gooms.” Eating a lot of these, along with lots of greens, vegetables, and fruits leads to finding your ideal weight. Everything about them is perfect for weight loss! They are bulky, high in fiber, low in calories, and high in micro-nutrients. Legumes in general are high in fiber, omega 3 fatty acids, and calcium.

lentilsLentils. My lentil soup with cooked carrots and celery and onion, in Ch. 6 of 12 Steps to Whole Foods is the best thing ever. Lentils are truly a super food. And you can buy the red, green, or brown varieties, all of which have a slightly different nutritional profile and texture. Brown lentils are the most common and least expensive. You don’t need to soak lentils, like beans. They’re high in fiber, protein, Vitamins B1, B5, B6, niacin, folate, iron, potassium, magnesium, manganese.

split peasSplit Peas. They’re so easy to use in soup–and please leave the bacon out! In my next post, I’ll share my split pea recipe. They take about an hour to cook and are called ‘split peas’ because when they’re harvested and dried, they naturally split in half. They are high in protein, fiber, Vitamin B1 and B5, potassium, and phosphorus.

Black Beans. Everyone’s favorite legume. I love to add it to guacamole and salsa as a dip, or mash for a burrito. High in protein, Vitamin B1, iron, folate, copper, magnesium, potassium, zinc and manganese.

black eyed peasBlack-Eyed Peas. Most people in the Northern states don’t know this delightful little legume, but they cook in an hour or less. I grew up with a bowlful, plus a tablespoon of raw apple cider vinegar, being dinner! They’re high in fiber, protein, four B vitamins, copper, magnesium, potassium, zinc and manganese.

pinto 2Pinto Beans. These might be the cheapest legume you can buy, and easy to store. I grew up with this food as a staple that raised 8 children to adulthood on one military salary. Big pots of vegetarian chili are one of my main memories of growing up. Pinto beans are high in fiber, protein, iron, phosphorus, magnesium, B1, and molybdenum.

Kidney Beans. These are my favorite for adding to a salad, as they taste very starchy, which is a nice complement and balance to crunchy greens and vegetables. Plus they’re pretty and dark red. A mix of these and pinto beans are great in vegetarian chili. They are high in fiber, protein, omega-3 fatty acids, Vitamins B1, B3, B5, and calcium, magnesium, potassium, zinc, and iron.

chick peasChickpeas (Garbanzo Beans). Everybody loves hummus, and there are so many things you can put in mashed chickpeas with a little lemon juice, sea salt, and tahini (sesame paste): sundried tomatoes or any kind of olives, for instance. I also love them in salads. They’re low in calories and high in protein, fiber, manganese, folate, copper, phosphorus, and iron.

soy beansSoybeans. Soybeans are heavily genetically modified in North America, so buy ONLY organic to make sure you’re getting the good available from this food, and not the bad. Soybeans are extremely high in protein, so for many years, vegetarians made use of soy-based “meat replacement” products. I suggest avoiding all processed soy products and eating only whole, organic, occasional soybean foods such as edamame, tofu, or tempeh, or organic miso or nama shoyu as seasonings. Soybeans are well known to be high in isoflavones, a class of antioxidants known to be anti-cancer that ease hormonal symptoms in women and increase bone density. They’re also high in fiber, calcium, Vitamin B2, manganese, molybdenum, copper, potassium, phosphorus, iron, and omega-3 fats.

lima beansLima Beans. Called “butter beans,” these large Peruvian beans make a nice soup with onions and root vegetables (potatoes, turnips, carrots, etc.), or they’re great mashed in a burrito or with sweet potatoes. They’re high in protein and fiber, as well as folate, molybdenum, tryptophan, manganese, potassium, iron, copper, phosphorus, magnesium, and Vitamin B1.

mung beansMung Beans.  Ayurvedic doctors feed this to sick people because they’re such a power food. It’s easy to sprout these tiny beans; just soak them overnight, drain in the morning, and rinse and rotate them twice a day until you see “tails” about ¼” long. In two days, you’ve got a superfood for your salads and sandwiches. They’re chock full of protein, fiber, potassium, Vitamin C, magnesium, folic acid, zinc, iron, and phosphorus.

Everything you need to know about legumes, part 2 of 4

square legsMatthew wrote me and said instead of telling people to eat legumes, I need to tell people what legumes are, and what the best 10 are.

That last part, the best 10, is somewhat subjective. I will tell you, nonetheless, 10 great legumes, because this whole class of food is HIGHLY UNDERRATED. That’s my next blog post. For now, I’m going to tell you some reasons to commit to eating this food group regularly.

heart legumesThey’re cheap, they’re high in fiber, they’re high in micro-nutrients, they’re filling, they’re low in calories, and they’re easy to obtain, worldwide. They store well and have a long shelf life, especially split peas and many beans.

They’re great for your heart. They have nutrients and fiber that can lower cholesterol and blood pressure, and help you lose weight.

Eat a cup a day of cooked legumes, or more!

You can eat them in soups and stews, add cooked or sprouted ones to salads, or grind dry ones for bread or baked goods to substitute for part of the grains. I have LOTS of recipes in Ch. 6 of 12 Steps to Whole Foods with fabulous main dishes that deliciously leverage legumes.

They generally take an hour to cook, some even longer. But I highly recommend cooking your own, rather than buying them canned. Not only will you save money, but you’ll avoid sodium and any weird phthalates and other stuff leaching from the inside of the can.

Cook a big giant batch, to save time, and save 1 cup servings in Ziploc baggies in the freezer.

blacksalsguacI like to add black beans and salsa to guacamole, so that I can eat lots of it on homemade organic corn chips. Then I’m guilt-free about the high calories and fat in guacamole. (I usually eat a whole avocado in one sitting. It’s very nearly a perfect food!)

I like to add chick peas (garbanzo beans) to salads. I love all varieties of lentils in soups. Find a few ways that you love to eat legumes!

Rinse legumes very well before putting fresh water on them to cook. They are amazingly dirty when they come out of the bag. Beans need to soak overnight (legumes lentils and split peas don’t). Or, bring clean beans to a boil, turn it off, and let them soak two hours, to speed up the process. If they have been in your storage for years, I recommend soaking them, draining the water, and soaking them a second time, for up to a whole day. This makes flatulence less likely, which is a significant risk of eating really old beans.

beans soakFlatulence comes from the oligo saccharides sugars in the beans not converting well a form of sugars your body can use easily. Soaking the beans before cooking makes them easier to digest.

To cook them, drain the soak water, and add at least 3 cups of water for every 1 cup you originally had of dry beans. Cook as much as you want, but remember that 1 cup of dry beans will become about 2.5 cups of cooked beans! Put clean, soaked beans in a heavy saucepan, cover, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, keep covered, and cook until beans are tender.

For lentils or split peas, this will be about 45 minutes. For beans, it will be 2-3 hours, or for very old beans, it could be 4 hours.

Don’t add acidic things to your beans until they are fully cooked. Add tomatoes, vinegar, salt, or lemon juice later; otherwise it inhibits the beans cooking.

Edit: Corrected a typo above about soaking legumes.

Why I’m in love with legumes, part 1 of 4

love legumeMatthew texted me after a recent newsletter I sent out:

Matthew:  I just read your article on protein. I had to look up what a legume is. Dumb it down a little! Is there a lot of protein in peas?

Me:  Yes, in split peas, there is.

split peasMatthew:  Is that different from regular peas?

Me:  Yeah, split peas are HARD and you cook them. Haven’t you had split pea soup? Your mom was a health nut! Regular peas are squishier. They are green vegetables in a pod.

Matthew:  I love split pea soup! I don’t know what split peas are. You have to write to Americans who can identify everything on McDonald’s Dollar Menu but they could not say what a legume is.

This is a consistent theme of Matthew’s, reminding me to dumb it down a level. This is why I don’t like to teach you how to make, for example, tinctures of medicinal mushrooms, a major topic of my friend David Wolfe at his Longevity Conference.

(Oh, and also I don’t like to because I don’t have a clue HOW, and learning how is not on my bucket list.)

This is why I don’t like to get sucked down rabbit holes of controversies like whether vegetarianism is for everyone. (Lots of plants IS for everyone. Whether you eat clean, organic meat is a personal preference, and your dental health may be served by that.)

local grcMost people don’t want to read those fringey debates. They want practical help getting out of the trap. The S.A.D. trap.

I mostly like to talk about how regular people can make shifts to eating more whole, unadulterated foods. Plants in their natural state that make us feel great, maintain ideal weight, and minimize disease risk. That’s the zone I like to stay in.

To that end, Matthew says to write an article about TEN TYPES OF LEGUMES. I’m on it. Look for that in my next post. And while we’re talking about, I’ll share my split pea soup recipe, which is an example of the cheap and easy ways to raise a family on whole foods.

Should I “eat right for my blood type?”

A recent grad from Institute for Integrative Nutrition applied for the GreenSmoothieGirl Health Coaches certification and said this:

“I’ve studied over 100 nutritional plans, and the 12 Steps to Whole Foods program is the most comprehensive, practical, grounded approach I have found.”

(That’s the goal. I think I’ve studied all those nutrition plans, too. Most have a kernel of truth, or lots of truth, along with, usually, some problems. And many of the diet plans appeal to popular tastes – such as Atkins, South Beach, The Zone, etc. — rather than being supported by evidence.)

One of the more frustrating diet plans, to me, is the blood type diet. The idea is that you have a certain blood type because your ancestors were from a certain place, so they adapted to a specific diet. You are then instructed, based on having O, A, B, or AB blood, to eat according to the prescription. Vegetarian, highly carnivorous, a mix of the two, grains or no grains, etc.

The diet has no real science backing it. Only a very dubious theory. The theory collapses when you consider that every indigenous population of the world has all the blood types: A, B, AB, and O. It’s also highly problematic when you consider how much genetic mixing and nomadism we’ve had in recent centuries. Few people have both parents going back to the same origins.

Peter D’Adamo fathered the first blood typing program (based on the theory of his father James, both naturopaths) that gave rise to a set of nutrition principles. But others have leveraged the same concept, with different recommendations. It’s tempting, financially, to author a new diet, since those books sell well. I know this all too well, since I waged an epic war with my publisher over the name of my bestseller, The Green Smoothies Diet. I hate the word diet because “diets” don’t work. I wanted to teach good principles, towards a sustainable lifestyle, but my publisher said,

“But American love diet books. They fly off the shelves.”

I lost the war and, in so doing, probably gained financially, as my book was instantly a bestseller for my publisher. It wasn’t a hill I was going to die on, because if it gets the same message out, I can “sell out” on the fairly minor point of a title. (Mostly, I just wanted, on principle, to name my own book!) And Ulysses Press was right—Americans do, apparently, want to “go on” yet another diet.

The whole idea of blood typing does call legitimate attention to the fact that we are all different, with different needs. This doesn’t obviate the fact that there are certain classes of foods that are nutritious to just about everyone. Just because you feel weak if you try to eat only plants, after a lifetime of eating animals, doesn’t mean that for you, vegetables are bad food.

It could mean you are transitioning and cleansing, and that is uncomfortable in the short- to mid-term. It could mean that because degenerative gut problems are nearly ubiquitous (everyone who has indulged in the S.A.D. suffering from them to one extent or another), many of us have developed sensitivities to specific foods. Some of those sensitivities are to good foods. This doesn’t mean that food X or Y is necessarily “bad” for you personally—it may mean that you have a problem to rectify so your body can accept and utilize nutrition from that food class.

Some people are reading this article and preparing to scream at me that I’m wrong because they went on the blood type diet and feel much better. I believe that! But not because you’re eating “correctly” for your blood type.

You feel better because the author of the nutrition program eliminates gluten from the type O diet. That will make everyone feel better, as grains have been hybridized and are causing many people problems. And he tells all type A’s to eat vegetarian, which is actually a good diet for most, if not all, people.

(As always, I refuse to take a stand on whether a limited amount of animal protein is good or desirable or at least acceptable—but it’s clear that more plants, and less animals, is across the board, more environmentally sustainable and more health-promoting.)

You feel better because regardless of your blood type, you’re told to eliminate processed foods such as white flour.

D’Adamo’s theory gets really silly when he tells Type A’s to meditate, Type O’s to do aerobics, etc. (Does this mean Type O’s shouldn’t meditate, and Type A’s shouldn’t exercise their hearts?) He delves into stereotyping personality and character based on blood type, too. It’s really nonsense but can “look” true because some true principles are involved.

Many other experts have soundly debunked D’Adamo’s reasoning and recommendations. He claims type O is the oldest blood type, but in fact, A is. This decimates the crux of his theory. Also, agriculture developed in different parts of the world independently, and his theory is based on unilateral development worldwide and positive outcomes for that development, neither of which is fact.

Most of his theory rests on lectins, proteins on the surfaces of foods that can cause cells or molecules to stick together. But a number of doctors object to the hypotheses the D’Adamos make, saying that there is no documentation of the health effects they predict if you eat “wrong” for your blood type, which virtually everyone does, of course. Michael Klaper, M.D. said that the effects he describes would be fatal for millions of people, if D’Adamo were correct in his theory.

The diets D’Adamo advocates for are not particularly harmful or out-of-the-ordinary, and all of them eliminate the worst of the bad in the Standard American Diet. (He isn’t telling any of the blood types to eat Twinkies or Cocoa Puffs. He is just making certain recommendations within whole-foods groups and macronutrients. Most Americans, of course, are eating Twinkies and Cocoa Puffs! Any  involves less processed food is likely to result in health improvement.)

As a culture, we need better critical thinking skills. We have a long love affair with personality testing and typing, horoscopes, and other ways to try to categorize and make sense of our world. But blood-typing theory is flawed on so many levels. I believe that individuals have specific dietary needs that may fall slightly – not massively — outside a prescribed set of guidelines.

Looking to blood type does not provide those answers. As logic might suggest to you, only experimentation and intuition do.

Anti-Nutrients….are you letting them scare you off whole foods? part 1 of 3

One of the more infuriating aspects of nutrition education is the highly confusing anti-nutrients debate.

For example, hot issues include but are not limited to….

Grains have PHYTATES.

Spinach has OXALATES.

Apple seeds have CYANIDE.

Legumes have PURINES.

Broccoli and cabbage have GOITROGENS.

Dr. Mercola propagates a bunch of needless fear, attacking all grains and some vegetables because they contain an anti-nutrient. He creates fear about lots of whole foods people have eaten for centuries. And then he moves on to leverage that to sell whey protein (an over-popular, highly refined food).

Keep in mind that I feel some of Mercola’s stuff is brilliant, important, and well researched. Some of it is salesy, with shoddy thinking/research. Sometimes I wonder if he doesn’t watch over his staff writers very well…..

No one addresses this issue more logically, than my friend Jim Simmons, whose book Original Fast Foods is a great addition to your library. Because it’s excellent, well researched, and comprehensive, with good recipes. It’s the closest thing out there to the diet I teach. There are lots of raw-food recipe books, but people burn out from how labor-intensive they can be. Eating cooked legumes and whole organic grains is a way to eat a whole-foods diet without burnout, and with the high-fiber, high-nutrition, low-effort gains of, for instance, split peas, lentils, and black beans. I am suspect of any eating plans that ban such foods. I advocate for 60-80% raw plant foods—but I feel that some cooked vegetables, legumes, and grains are a wonderfully healthy part of a good disease-preventative diet, as evidenced by long history.

Here’s what Jim said to me via email, when I posted on the goitrogens issue last July:

“Research now supports the idea that anti-nutrients are nature’s way of helping us to be more intuitive in our eating patterns. For instance, some spinach is really good for you, but as you consume too much, the level of oxalates will build up in your bloodstream to a point that a signal will be sent to your brain and then a signal is sent from the brain to your endocrine system. The long and the short is, you will lose your appetite for spinach until the level of oxalates drop sufficient that your taste for spinach is turned back on….don’t get too complicated in your eating habits.”

I agree with Jim. Anti-nutrients are in most, if not all, whole foods. This does not mean they are bad, scary, or to be avoided. God put them in the food for a reason.

Tomorrow I’ll write about each of those anti-nutrients.