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Salinas Valley continues to grapple with contamination problem

Canada’s crackdown on romaine lettuce a stark reminder of frustrating battle to keep leafy greens safe

Source: Silicone Valley

Romaine lettuce in particular has had contamination problems. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma, file)
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

By STEPHANIE MELCHOR | newsroom@montereyherald.com
PUBLISHED: December 26, 2020 at 3:52 p.m.
UPDATED: December 31, 2020 at 1:11 p.m.

The Salinas Valley has long billed itself as the Salad Bowl of the World. Last year alone, Monterey County grew $1.4 billion worth of lettuce.

But for years the valley, which grows the majority of the nation’s lettuce, has also increasingly been known for something else: dangerous contamination in its leafy greens — particularly romaine lettuce — and an apparent inability to solve the problem.

The recurring contamination has sparked distrust in international markets, leading to a bombshell announcement in October that Canada was imposing harsh restrictions on the importation of Salinas Valley-grown romaine lettuce through the end of the year. The new import rules applied to romaine planted in four counties: Monterey, Santa Cruz, San Benito and Santa Clara.

Although the U.S. Food and Drug Administration had announced a sweeping plan in March aimed at reducing outbreaks related to leafy greens, Canada wasn’t willing to take the risk, the country’s food inspection agency said.

The move was a stark reminder to local growers who have been working vigorously for more than a decade to safeguard leafy greens from contamination — a journey that in many ways has been an exercise in frustration.

“We absolutely recognize that there are millions of servings of these products consumed every single day. And the food is safe — except when it isn’t,” said Trevor Suslow, a food safety expert at UC Davis who recently stepped down as the vice president of produce safety at the Produce Marketing Association.

Any level of illness caused by leafy greens, Suslow said, is not acceptable.

Despite the addition of numerous testing and safety procedures, contamination still occurs in leafy greens. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

Salinas Valley’s contamination problem drew international attention in 2006 when three people died and more than 200 people across the U.S. and in Canada were sickened from eating raw spinach contaminated with E. coli O157:H7, a virulent strain of bacteria that can cause severe stomach pain, bloody diarrhea and kidney failure.

Even though the source of the outbreak was eventually traced to a remote valley in San Benito County, where a cattle ranch owner had leased land to a spinach grower, the eyes of the world were suddenly on the Salinas Valley.

Federal investigators could not say definitively how the spinach became contaminated. But they did find the outbreak strain in nearby cattle and wild pigs, theorizing the pigs had traipsed through the spinach field or bacteria from the animals’ feces had made its way into wells used to irrigate spinach.

And the outbreaks didn’t stop there. According to a recent study by several U.S. and Canadian government agencies, there were 32 E. coli O157:H7 outbreaks in the U.S. and Canada linked to leafy greens from 2009 to 2018.

In the fall of 2019 alone, three major outbreaks of E. coli O157:H7 were traced back to romaine lettuce grown in the Salinas Valley. All told, 188 people across the U.S. and Canada got sick from those outbreaks, leading to 92 hospitalizations and 16 cases of hemolytic uremic syndrome, a potentially fatal condition caused by bacterial toxins damaging blood vessels in the kidneys.

Romaine lettuce and other leafy greens are particularly susceptible to contamination. The crops are grown directly in the ground, sometimes putting it into direct contact with animal feces containing E. coli. And romaine’s large, open leaves can catch potential contaminants spread by air and water. Most importantly: Because romaine lettuce is eaten raw, there is no “kill step”— an opportunity to destroy pathogens through cooking.

Recurring contamination of leafy green products such as lettuce harvested in the Salinas Valley has sparked distrust in some international markets. (Monterey Herald file)
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

Canada’s announcement took many in the industry by surprise, in part because there have been no outbreaks traced to the valley this year, said Norm Groot, executive director of the Monterey County Farm Bureau.

To some scientists, however, the Canadians’ decision seemed like a no-brainer.

“What took them such a long time?” said microbiologist Mansour Samadpour, president of IEH Laboratories and Consulting Group in Seattle.

Years ago, Samadpour was hired by San Juan Bautista-based Natural Selection Foods — which had packaged the tainted spinach that triggered the 2006 crisis — to overhaul microbial testing procedures.

Despite numerous investigations, no one has been able to find the exact source of contamination in last year’s outbreaks.

As was the case in the 2006 outbreak, fecal contamination from nearby pastures is suspected, according to an investigative report by the FDA on the 2019 outbreaks released last May. Investigators found a strain of E. coli O157:H7 that matched one of the outbreak strains at a cattle grate less than two miles upslope from a lettuce farm tied to the contamination.

Federal investigators said irrigation water was another suspect, as were environmental factors such as heat, humidity, wind and wildlife, making the source of the outbreaks a moving target.

The FDA recently launched a multi-year study aimed at determining how human pathogens persist in the environment and contaminate produce.

But growers need answers now.

“How do we move forward with practices and implement something that works when we don’t have that full understanding?” Groot asked.

UC Davis’ Suslow said the food-safety system doesn’t need to be overhauled. “I think there are ways to more effectively and strategically apply what we do know, while we’re waiting to work out some of the things we don’t,” he said.

One organization committed to improving the safety of leafy greens is California’s Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement. The LGMA was created by farmers in response to the 2006 E. coli outbreaks.

Membership in the LGMA is voluntary and allows growers to agree to a layer of food-safety regulations that exceed government requirements.

To reduce the risk of contamination from neighboring livestock farms, the LGMA last spring stepped up its efforts to scrutinize adjacent land use and has extended the required distance of buffer zones — land where no grazing is allowed and no leafy greens can be grown.

But Samadpour said that while the larger buffer zones might curb direct produce contamination from livestock, they won’t stop birds and other wildlife that routinely travel long distances from spreading contamination between pastures and row crops.

To combat pathogens in irrigation water, the LGMA in 2019 approved more stringent standards for testing and treating water used to irrigate leafy greens. The new standards include treating within 21 days before harvesting all water from open sources like canals and rivers that will be used in overhead irrigation.

“This is a pretty staunch new metric – something that’s never been done in fresh produce before,”  Greg Komar, LGMA’s technical director, said at a Sept. 1 webinar outlining the new standards.

Samadpour, however, said that just testing for generic E. coli won’t do much to catch O157:H7. He said that many common tests detect E. coli by observing a chemical reaction caused by a bacterial enzyme. But many strains of O157:H7, he said, don’t cause this chemical reaction, allowing dangerous strains of E. coli to slip by undetected.

“The problem is that nobody’s found the needle in the haystack,” said Steve Church, CEO of Church Brothers Farms in Salinas.

But Samadpour thinks there is a way to find the needle.

“We make the haystack smaller,” he said. “And we make our needle larger.”

Growers, he said, can shrink the “haystack” by testing smaller plots of land – say a quarter of an acre rather than 10 acres. And the “needle” can be enlarged by taking dozens of sample leaves instead of just one and testing them together, increasing the likelihood that the test will pick up evidence of contamination, Samadpour said.

Bill Marler, a Seattle attorney who has represented thousands of food poisoning victims, said Salinas Valley growers need more government regulation to “save them from themselves.”

“They may not like regulation,” but neither did the beef industry in the early 1990s, Marler said.

In 1993, an outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 in Jack in the Box hamburgers sickened more than 700 people and killed four children. The tragedy led to immediate changes in how beef was regulated, including a federal mandate that burgers must be cooked to an internal temperature of 155°F.

In addition, E. coli O157:H7 was classified as an “adulterant” in ground beef. That meant that any beef containing the bacterial strain could not be sold.

“They got their act together and, in fact, they put me out of business,” Marler quipped.

Groot, however, argued that the LGMA has actually been outpacing the FDA when it comes to raising standards for safely growing and processing leafy greens. The U.S. Food Safety Modernization Act of 2012, he noted, incorporated food safety standards originally established by the LGMA.

“The industry is a lot more nimble and can adapt itself a whole lot quicker,” Groot said.

Suslow points to a growing body of research on leafy greens contamination by various research groups. But, he said, there needs to be a system for sharing data on a large scale so that growers, scientists and government officials can learn from each other.

“No single grower or single commodity or industry,” he said, “is going to be able to fix this alone.”

Where does your lettuce come from? What could be contaminating the lettuce in Silicon Valley? What else could it be contaminating?

Share your comments with the community by posting them below. Share the wealth of health with your friends and family by sharing this article with 3 people today. As always you are the best part of what we do. Keep sharing!

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Is Pink Himalayan Salt Better Than Regular Salt?

Source: Health Line

Pink Himalayan salt is a type of salt that’s naturally pink in color and mined near the Himalayas in Pakistan.

Many people claim that it’s loaded with minerals and provides incredible health benefits.

For these reasons, pink Himalayan salt is often thought to be much healthier than regular table salt.

However, little research on pink Himalayan salt exists, and other people insist that these extravagant health claims are nothing more than speculation.

This article looks at the key differences between pink Himalayan salt and regular salt and evaluates the evidence to decide which type of salt is healthier.

What Is Salt?

Salt is a mineral largely consisting of the compound sodium chloride.

Salt contains so much sodium chloride — around 98% by weight — that most people use the words “salt” and “sodium” interchangeably.

Salt can be produced by evaporating salt water or extracting solid salt from underground salt mines.

Before it reaches your grocery store, table salt also goes through a refining process to remove impurities and any other minerals besides sodium chloride.

Anticaking agents are sometimes added to help absorb moisture, and iodine is often included to help consumers prevent iodine deficiency.

Humans have used salt to flavor and preserve foods for thousands of years.

Interestingly, sodium also plays an important role in several biological functions, including fluid balance, nerve conduction and muscle contraction (1Trusted Source2Trusted Source3Trusted Source).

For this reason, it’s absolutely necessary to have salt, or sodium, in your diet.

However, many health professionals claim that too much sodium can lead to high blood pressure and heart disease, although recent research has called this long-held belief into question (4Trusted Source).

Because of the potential dangers of consuming too much table salt, many people have turned to using pink Himalayan salt, believing it to be a healthier alternative.

SUMMARY:

Salt consists mostly of sodium chloride and helps regulate important processes in the body. The potentially harmful effects of too much salt have caused many people to start using pink Himalayan salt instead.

What Is Pink Himalayan Salt?

Pink Himalayan salt is a pink-colored salt extracted from the Khewra Salt Mine, which is located near the Himalayas in Pakistan.

The Khewra Salt Mine is one of the oldest and largest salt mines in the world.

The pink Himalayan salt harvested from this mine is believed to have been formed millions of years ago from the evaporation of ancient bodies of water.

The salt is hand-extracted and minimally processed to yield an unrefined product that’s free of additives and thought to be much more natural than table salt.

Like table salt, pink Himalayan salt is mostly comprised of sodium chloride.

However, the natural harvesting process allows pink Himalayan salt to possess many other minerals and trace elements that are not found in regular table salt.

Some people estimate it may contain up to 84 different minerals and trace elements. In fact, it’s these very minerals, especially iron, that give it its characteristic pink color.

SUMMARY:

Pink Himalayan salt is harvested by hand from the Khewra Salt Mine in Pakistan. It’s minimally processed to provide a natural alternative to regular table salt.

How Is Pink Himalayan Salt Used?

Pink Himalayan salt has several dietary and non-dietary uses.

You Can Eat It or Cook With It

In general, you can cook with pink Himalayan salt just like you would with regular table salt. Put it in sauces and marinades or add it to your food at the dinner table.

Some people even use pink Himalayan salt as a cooking surface. Large blocks of the salt can be purchased and used to grill, sear and impart a salty flavor to meats and other foods.

Pink Himalayan salt can be purchased finely ground just like regular table salt, but it is not uncommon to also find coarse varieties sold in larger crystal sizes.

Considerations for Cooking

Whenever you’re measuring any kind of salt by volume, it’s important to consider how finely it’s ground.

You may need to use larger quantities of coarse salt to match the saltiness of finely ground salt. This is because finely ground salt is packed closer together than coarse salt, so there’s more of it in a particular volume.

For example, 1 teaspoon of any type of finely ground salt may contain around 2,300 mg of sodium, while 1 teaspoon of coarse salt will vary based on crystal size but could contain less than 2,000 mg of sodium.

Furthermore, pink Himalayan salt contains slightly less sodium chloride than regular table salt, which you may need to account for when cooking.

Current dietary guidelines in the US recommend that most adults consume no more than 2,300 mg of sodium per day. This is equal to around 1 teaspoon (6 grams) of finely ground salt (5Trusted Source).

However, when you’re using pink Himalayan salt, it’s best to check the nutrition label, as sodium content can vary widely, depending on the brand.

Non-Dietary Uses

While pink Himalayan salt has several dietary uses, there are also a number of popular non-dietary uses.

Pink Himalayan salt is used in some bath salts, which claim to improve skin conditions and soothe sore muscles.

Salt lamps are also often made out of pink Himalayan salt and claimed to remove air pollutants. These lamps consist of large blocks of salt with an inner light source that heats the salt.

Additionally, spending time in man-made salt caves formed out of pink Himalayan salt is popular among people seeking to improve skin and respiratory problems.

But the research supporting these three non-dietary uses of pink Himalayan salt is relatively weak. More studies are needed to confirm these claims.

SUMMARY:

You can use pink Himalayan salt just like regular salt when you’re cooking. Bath salts, salt lamps and salt caves are popular non-dietary uses of pink Himalayan salt.

Pink Himalayan Salt Contains More Minerals

Both table salt and pink Himalayan salt consist mostly of sodium chloride, but pink Himalayan salt has up to 84 other minerals and trace elements.

These include common minerals like potassium and calcium, as well as lesser-known minerals like strontium and molybdenum.

One study analyzed the mineral contents of various types of salts, including pink Himalayan salt and regular table salt (6).

Below is a comparison of well-known minerals found in a gram of the two salts:

Pink Himalayan SaltTable Salt
Calcium (mg)1.60.4
Potassium (mg)2.80.9
Magnesium (mg)1.060.0139
Iron (mg)0.03690.0101
Sodium (mg)368381

As you can see, table salt may have more sodium, but pink Himalayan salt contains more calcium, potassium, magnesium and iron (6).

Nevertheless, the amounts of these minerals in pink Himalayan salt are very, very small.

They are found in such small quantities that it would take 3.7 pounds (1.7 kg) of pink Himalayan salt to obtain the recommended daily amount of potassium, for instance. Needless to say, that’s an unrealistic amount of salt to consume.

For the most part, the extra minerals in pink Himalayan salt are found in such small quantities that they are unlikely to provide you with any health benefits whatsoever.

SUMMARY:

Pink Himalayan salt contains several minerals not found in regular salt. However, these minerals are found in very small quantities and unlikely to provide any health benefits.

Are the Health Claims True?

Despite the fact that pink Himalayan salt only contains tiny amounts of additional minerals, many people still claim that it can provide a number of health benefits.

The truth is, most of these claims do not have any research to support them.

Some of pink Himalayan salt’s commonly promoted health claims include that it can:

  • Improve respiratory diseases
  • Balance your body’s pH
  • Reduce signs of aging
  • Improve sleep quality
  • Regulate blood sugar
  • Increase libido

Some of the claims related to the non-dietary uses of pink Himalayan salt may be loosely based on research.

The use of salt caves as a treatment for various lung diseases has been evaluated in a few studies. The results suggest that there could be some benefit, but overall, more rigorous research is needed to investigate their effectiveness (7Trusted Source8Trusted Source9Trusted Source).

On the other hand, some of these health claims are actually just normal functions of sodium chloride in the body, so you’ll get these benefits from any kind of salt.

For example, researchers have found that very low-salt diets may contribute to sleeping problems (10Trusted Source).

This suggests that an adequate amount of salt may be necessary for quality sleep. However, the study did not examine pink Himalayan salt and it is likely a function of the sodium chloride in any salt.

Also, the minerals in pink Himalayan salt are not present in large enough quantities to have any effect on balancing the body’s pH. Your lungs and kidneys tightly regulate your body’s pH without the help of pink Himalayan salt.

Furthermore, blood sugar levels, aging and libido are all primarily controlled by factors other than the salt in your diet, and there are simply no scientific studies to suggest eating pink Himalayan salt can benefit any of these aspects of your health.

Similarly, there is no research comparing the health effects of pink Himalayan salt and regular table salt. If research did exist, it is unlikely that it would find any differences in their health effects.

SUMMARY:

Many health claims are often attached to pink Himalayan salt. However, most of these claims do not have research to support them.

The Bottom Line

Given all of the misguided health claims, it’s easy to see why some people are confused about which type of salt to use.

But no studies have compared the health effects of pink Himalayan salt and regular table salt. If they were to, it’s unlikely that they’d report any differences.

Nonetheless, if you’d like to avoid the additives in regular table salt, pink Himalayan salt is a great natural alternative. But don’t expect to see the major health benefits that you might read about online.

And remember that table salt is a major dietary source of iodine, so if you’re using pink Himalayan salt, you will need to get iodine from other foods like seaweed, dairy products and fish to help avoid iodine deficiency (11).

Finally, pink Himalayan salt is often much more expensive than regular salt. So if you don’t mind the additives, using regular table salt should be just fine.

Which do you prefer pink Himalayan salt or table salt? Why? Why not?

Share your comments with the community by posting them below. Share the wealth of health with your friends and family by sharing this article with 3 people today. As always you are the best part of what we do. Keep sharing!

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7 WAYS TO USE ORGANIC EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL – HEALTH BENEFITS AND STORAGE TIPS

DECEMBER 11, 2015
Source: Saffron Trail

Extra Virgin Olive Oil has a lot of health benefits. Here are some ways to use it in a way that keeps its nutritive benefits intact.

How to choose extra virgin olive oil, benefits of extra virgin olive oil and how to use extra virgin olive oil

Given how our supermarket shelves are flooded with olive oil brands, there is this eternal confusion between Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Pure Olive Oil, Light Olive Oil and so many other variants. To simplify this matter, it is good to know that extra virgin olive oil is the first round of oil pressed out of olives and this has the best flavour and most health benefits, as compared to the subsequent extractions of oil. That’s the reason it is also the most expensive variant of olive oil.

A good extra virgin olive oil brand will be dark golden in colour, have a lovely grassy aroma to it and will be sold in a tinted glass bottle. This oil is unrefined, retains the flavour of olives and has the least free oleic acid content (<1%). The next in line is virgin olive oil, similar to extra virgin but has an oleic acid content of >1%, a less intense colour and flavour. Virgin olive oils are rarely sold in the supermarkets.

What is sold as PURE Olive Oil or just ‘Olive Oil’ is usually a blend of virgin olive oil and refined olive oil, thereby available at a lesser cost (oleic acid content is 3-4%). This blend is also suited to cooking at low temperatures, generally an all-purpose oil. The other commonly sold variant is a ‘Light Olive Oil’ that is pale yellow like any other refined vegetable oil. This retains very few health properties or antioxidants. The LIGHT word in this term can be misleading. It stands for the light colour and not for a reduced calorie oil. The calories in Light Olive Oil are same as that of any other oil.

Benefits Of Using Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)

  • Flavour Plus! –  There’s something about the rich colour and flavour of EVOO, that none of the other olive oils come close, especially when you eat it raw in salads. Just by itself it adds a boost of freshness and flavour, only to be enhanced by the other ingredients you add to it.
  • A certain component in EVOO called hydroxytyrosol prevents oxidation in the lining of the blood vessels, thereby protecting cardiovascular health.
  • The larger proportion of monounsaturated fats in olive oil helps lower bad cholesterol and it is also said to reduce blood pressure.
  • EVOO is said to possess a higher dose of antioxidants (phytonutrients) than non-virgin olive oils, thereby having more potent anti-inflammatory properties.
  • EVOO is a good source of vitamin E, which is a potent antioxidant by itself.
Source: Saffron Trail
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

As EVOO is heat sensitive, in order to get the full range of nutrients, it is best had in raw form. Here are some of the best ways to include more EVOO in your diet such that you get the maximum health benefits.

1. SALAD DRESSINGS

Check my video on how to make an easy Italian Salad Dressing. Add Balsamic Vinegar instead of lemon juice and you get a Balsamic Vinaigrette.https://www.youtube.com/embed/6C85ryozEpI

2. PESTO

Pestos are a great way to consume raw EVOO. Try the classic Italian basil pesto with basil, EVOO, garlic and pine nuts or try this uniquely Sicilian version below.

While basil pesto is the most well known pesto, every region in Italy makes pesto with freshly available local produce. According to Lidia Bastianich, the Italian cuisine expert, the word pesto comes from the verb ‘pestare’, which means ‘to mash’. This means you can pretty much mash up any fresh ingredients to make a pesto, and toss it along with pasta, vegetables or chicken and you have a dish ready right there
www.saffrontrail.com

3. HUMMUS

A drizzle of good extra virgin olive oil over any hummus adds lots of flavour to the hummus.

Is there anyone who does not like hummus? Seriously, it’s one of the very few things in the food universe that is delicious, addictive and yet wont kill you. Protein-rich from the beans and good fats from extra virgin olive oil and tahini, it’s the best snack to dig into with a few crackers or crudites. Adding veggies like carrot, beet or spinach to the hummus ups it’s nutrition quotient further
www.saffrontrail.com

4. Topped on sauteed vegetables – Since it is best not to heat EVOO, toss the  vegetables in regular cooking oil with garlic and herbs and just before serving, toss them in some raw EVOO for flavour and health benefits.

5. Potato salad tossed in EVOO – Typically potato salads are tossed in mayo and mustard. Make a healthier version by tossed in garlic and herb infused EVOO. Finely chopped dill or parsley make this a delicious tasting salad.

6. Herbed Rice – Cooked and fluffed up rice tossed with lots of finely chopped herbs and EVOO, make a simple and quick rice dish to go with sauteed vegetables or any other main course dish.

7. Flavoured EVOO – Make your own flavoured EVOO to use in salad dressings for a flavour boost – such as chili / lemon zest / garlic flavoured EVOO. These also make lovely gourmet gifts for food loving friends.

Tips To Store Extra Virgin Olive Oil

  • EVOO is both light and heat sensitive. That’s the reason good quality EVOO is sold in tinted glass bottles.
  • With time, the level of healthy antioxidants start deteriorating, so buy smaller bottles and use them within 3-4 months.
  • EVOO has a tendency to go rancid, so it needs to be stored in a cool dry place away from light to preserve the flavour. Don’t place a big bottle of EVOO near the hob as the heat from the flame may deteriorate the quality of oil.
  • Pouring a small quantity in a bottle for daily use and storing the rest in the fridge prolongs its life as the bigger bottle is not opened repeatedly and exposed to air.
  • EVOO turns a bit cloudy in the fridge but will get back to normal on reaching room temperature.

What are the medicinal benefits of using olive oil? How can you properly use olive oil? What did you learn from this article?

Share your comments with the community by posting them below. Share the wealth of health with your friends and family by sharing this article with 3 people today. As always you are the best part of what we do. Keep sharing!

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The Truth about Desserts

cinnamon oat cookie shidonna raven garden and cook

The truth about desserts is that you may love them. We definitely love them. Any informed organic consumer will be the first to tell you that just because it is organic does not mean it is good and nutritious for you. In other words, an organic apple is probably better for you than a bowl of organic chessy mac. Nonetheless, they are both organic. So, let us break that down for you. The process of growing foods organically is healthier for you than growing food in non organic means. The organic growing process is true or truer to nature and the natural process of growing foods. Food that is not grown organically involves chemicals and several other food production process frowned upon by even the USDA, even with its recent criticisms from true organic growers. Once one has an organic array of foods, then from there it is best to choose those foods best for you.

When considering what to eat and diet, one should have a clear understanding of their over all and holistic health. What is beneficial to one will not be beneficial to another. A person with anemia and a person with diabetes will have totally different diet needs. There are many ways to gain an understanding of one’s overall health and one’s dietary needs. Here are a couple of ways:

  • holistic doctor
  • dietitian
  • nutritionist
  • medical professional / doctor
  • Once one has a clearer picture of their dietary needs, one can make informed and educated decisions on how to best feed their bodies what it needs to perform at its best. Diet is only part of the picture. We believe that overall health and well being involves 3 pillars:
  • Health (many health professionals also include spiritual and emotional well being in this)
  • Physical Fitness – Exercise
  • Diet

Some of you are probably saying to yourselves, “I thought this article was about desserts.” You are so right! It is. So, let us get back to the good part. Our desserts are made with organic ingredients whenever possible. If not organic then natural. We select ingredients that are good for you but not necessarily “healthy” similar to organic foods (like the apple and the chessy mac). If one has to have a dessert, our desserts are an excellent choice. Of course desserts like all other things should be eaten in moderation. If given a choice, an organic salad is probably healthier for you than an organic cookie. Love them as we do, we indulge in a dessert or two. Nonetheless, when we do we make sure that they are as good for us as they can be. Refined and processed foods such as granulated sugar and flour never make it at the top of health lists. Nonetheless, we choose organic sugars and flours. So, we invite you to indulge responsibly by shopping our desserts (cookies, bars and squares).

What foods, or more specifically vitamins and minerals, are an important part of your diet? Why? What are your health needs? Do you have a chronic illness? The bible speaks clearly to us about healing. Chronic illnesses can cause other illnesses because your body is in a state of constant disease. Share your comments with the community by posting them below. Share the wealth of health with your friends and family by sharing this article with 3 people today. As always you are the best part of what we do. Keep sharing!

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Beginning the Journey to Healing – 2

cooked vegetables shidonna raven garden and cook

This is the continued article from the previous day about what we hope is the beginning of our journey to healing. When we began this journey we knew that diet would be an important part of the journey. We thank you for taking the Journey with us and hope that it helps to feed and enrich your lives and indeed your overall health. The turning point of our journey began a long time ago and encompasses many people as each individual contributed their own knowledge and wisdom from chefs to dietitians and medical professionals. Western medicine presents many barriers to a true and total healing. Western medicine focuses highly on managing symptoms and the medicines that the pharmaceutical industry profits profoundly from. We do not consider hormones a medicines and thus our journey to healing has begun with zero medicines. Our journey took a significant turn when we walked into a holistic pharmacy (namely, Peoples Pharmacy of Norfolk, VA who are able to help you wherever you are located) or some vitamins. We believe that these holistic doctors were able to put us on the path to health in under a month and to diagnose the issue immediately. Some of us struggled with similar issues for years and others even longer.

All of my symptoms have begun to mitigate after we address what we believe is the root of the problem. It is only about a month in on this leg of our journey but we have already begun to see the difference. In another 2 months we are told the results will be better. Stay tuned and we will keep you updated on our journey. We take vitamins, minerals, spices, foods and oils combined with a strategic diet with foods that have medicinal benefits. We pray that these articles are transformative for you. Thank you for taking this journey with us. How do you wish you could improve your health? How has your health hindered you? How has your health changed your life? How have these articles helped you? How can they help your friends and family? Post your comments below. Share the wealth of health with your family and friends by sharing this article with 3 people today. As always you are the best part of what we do. Keep sharing!

If these articles have been helpful to you and yours, give a donation to Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook Ezine today.

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Beginning the Journey to Healing

Diet & Health Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

Most people will tell you that at the center of good health is diet and exercise. And we would agree. Our journey however has lead us to look at health as the third pillar of over good health. While one may exercise and have an excellent diet, these do have a profound on your over all health. But health in itself can be a little more complicated than just exercise and diet. In fact many people in excellent health have reported contracting COVID 19. While COVID 19 did hit communities with preexisting conditions hardest, this does not mean that people without under lying conditions were not also hit. Indeed they want you to know that COVID 19 has impacted us all: old, young, sick and healthy.

Perhaps this was what was so confusing to us. While we were all in pretty good health, we still struggled with health conditions that impacted our health. Chef Ponder really challenged me not to accept diagnoses. One of the most impressive things about Chef Ponder is that he is not only a great cook but an excellent student of food and human begins. He talked alot about how things in our environment can impact our health. Things like temperature and available foods can impact our health. For instance, if one’s relatives are from a warm climate and they then move to a cold climate, they will eat different foods because they eat what is available. This difference in diet can impact one’s health. While one maybe eating “healthy”, the food may not be proper given the history of your family. In other words it can have an impact on your body and thus health.

Chef Ponder along with many others along this Journey have helped us to begin what we hope is a path to our healing. Read the next article to learn more. What health concerns do you have? Have you found your path to healing? How long did it take you? Who helped you?

Share your comments with the community by posting them below. Share the wealth of health with your friends and family by sharing this article with 3 people today. As always you are the best part of what we do. Keep sharing!

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Growing & Harvesting Carrots in Containers

Harvesting Carrots from Containers

Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook
Growing & Harvesting Carrots in Containers
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

Its amazing what you can grow in containers. No more limits for the urban and container gardener. Are you ready to grow your own carrots or vegetable? Which one(s) would you like to grow? What questions do you have? Leave us a post. Share the wealth of health with your friends and family by sharing this article with 3 people today. As always you are the best part of what we do. Keep growing!

If these articles have been helpful to you and yours, give a donation to Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook Ezine today.

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Harvesting & Growing Radishes

Korean Radish Flower Shidonna Raven
Growing Radishes from Sowing to Harvest

Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook
Harvesting & Growing Radishes
Source: Almanac.com
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

Several months ago we took a trip to our local international food market where we sourced a few Korean seeds. Although we had no idea what they were, we grabbed several. Regardless, a staff member at the store was able to give us some basic information regarding the seeds and how to prepare them. Of course we want to eat them! Our Korean Radishes have flowers that are in full boom. We have a few root plants such as carrots. We were wondering how do you know when they are ready if they are underground? God is indeed perfect in all his ways. When the roots are ready the tops will peek above ground. How many varieties do you think there are? Have you ever had radish on your taco? We know a few authentic places. Post us a comment if you are curious. We spent some time in Latin countries and in California so our pallet regarding Hispanic food has been well developed. The things one must suffer through : ) What is your favorite type of Hispanic food?

Share your comments with the community by posting them below. Share the wealth of health with your friends and family by sharing this article with 3 people today. As always you are the best part of what we do. Keep sharing!

If these articles have been helpful to you and yours, give a donation to Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook Ezine today.

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Oh Baby!

This journey has been a long one. It began far before these articles blossomed. Along my journey I met Chef Ponder who was able to provide me, along with other community members, with valuable information regarding food and how what we consume affects our health. During one of his presentations a speaker shared her story about child bearing with us.

While eagerly awaiting her baby to arrive, she (like some other women) had a miscarriage. After much searching to understand why she had her miscarriage she met with a doctor who committed to helping her find the answer to this questions. And as you might have guessed, her doctor had her change her diet. After working with the doctor she took her body from not being able to support another life to being a happy mother of 3 children, if my memory serves me correctly.

Anemia is another one of those illnesses that requires you to make diet changes in order to address the underlying issues causing the illness. As you might imagine Chef Ponder warned that many health issues can be address with proper diet The following foods are great foods that help combat anemia (we went over to health line for some answers):

1. Leafy greens

Leafy greens, especially dark ones, are among the best sources of nonheme iron. They include:

  • spinach
  • kale
  • collard greens
  • dandelion greens
  • Swiss chard

Some leafy greens such as Swiss chard and collard greens also contain folate. A diet low in folate may cause folate-deficiency anemia. Citrus fruits, beans, and whole grains are good sources of folate.

When eating dark, leafy greens for iron, there’s a catch. Some greens high in iron, such as spinach and kale, are also high in oxalates. Oxalates are compounds that prevent the absorption of nonheme iron. So, while it’s beneficial to eat your greens as part of an overall anemia diet, don’t depend on them solely to treat the condition.

Vitamin C helps your stomach absorb iron. Eating leafy greens with foods that contain vitamin C such as oranges, red peppers, and strawberries, may increase iron absorption. Some greens are good sources of both iron and vitamin C, such as collard greens and Swiss chard.

2. Meat and poultry

All meat and poultry contain heme iron. Red meat, lamb, and venison are the best sources. Poultry and chicken have lower amounts. Eating meat or poultry with nonheme iron foods, such as leafy greens, can increase iron absorption.

3. Liver

Many people shy away from organ meats, but they’re a great source of iron. Liver is arguably the most popular organ meat. It’s rich in iron and folate. Some other iron-rich organ meats are heart, kidney, and beef tongue.

4. Seafood

Some seafood provides heme iron. Shellfish such as oysters, clams, and shrimp are good sources. Most fish contain iron. Fish high in iron include:

  • sardines, canned in oil
  • canned or fresh tuna
  • fresh salmon
  • fresh halibut
  • fresh perch
  • fresh haddock

Although both fresh and canned salmon are good sources of iron, canned salmon is high in calcium. Calcium binds with iron and reduces its absorption. Foods high in calcium shouldn’t be eaten at the same time as iron-rich foods. Other examples of calcium-rich foods include:

  • raw milk
  • yogurt
  • kefir
  • cheese
  • sardines
  • broccoli
  • tofu

5. Fortified foods

Many foods are fortified with iron. Add these foods to your diet if you’re a vegetarian or struggle to eat other sources of iron:

  • fortified orange juice
  • fortified, ready-to-eat cereals
  • foods made from fortified refined flour such as white bread
  • fortified pasta
  • foods made from fortified cornmeal
  • fortified white rice

6. Beans

Beans are good sources of iron for vegetarians and meat eaters alike. They’re also inexpensive and versatile. Some iron-rich options are:

  • kidney beans
  • chickpeas
  • soybeans
  • black-eyed peas
  • pinto beans
  • black beans
  • peas
  • lima beans

7. Nuts and seeds

Many types of nuts and seeds are good sources of iron. They taste great on their own or sprinkled on salads or yogurt. When choosing nuts and seeds, choose raw varieties whenever possible. Some nuts and seeds that contain iron are:

  • pumpkin seeds
  • cashews
  • pistachios
  • hemp seeds
  • pine nuts
  • sunflower seeds

Along with you, we are on our own journey to a stronger and more sustainable healthy self. These tips are to help give you resourceful information to help guide you along your own journey. However, we are not professionals. We recommend teaming up with professionals such as dietitians and doctors to help you along your journey. Read our article “The Industry” to help better understand the medical and pharmaceutical industries so that you can make informed decisions about your health as a consumer.

How do you manage your health? Are you managing your health or are medicines being managed as a part of the things you consume? How do you select your health professionals? Are you satisfied with your health and the plan that is in place to ensure your health? Do you have a voice in your health plan? Share your comments with the community by posting them below. Share the wealth of health with your friends and family by sharing this article with 3 people today. As always you are the best part of what we do. Stay healthy.

If these articles have been helpful to you and yours, give a donation to Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook Ezine today.

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Raw vs. Cooked

cooked vegetables shidonna raven garden and cook

While the plants grow in the garden, most of us are simply wondering when we can eat the fruits of all this labor, which brings us right to the point of eating, preparing and cooking. Some people claim that eating food raw is more beneficial to one’s health. The facts simply do not bear this out. What the facts do support is that both raw and cooked foods are both beneficial to one’s diet. In my journey I have discovered other foods more beneficial than others to my body’s particular needs. Our guess is that you might find the same is true for you: one size or food does not fit all. So, we went to healthline.com for some more details.

Cooking May Destroy Enzymes in Food

When you consume a food, digestive enzymes in your body help break it down into molecules that can be absorbed. Enzymes are heat sensitive and deactivate easily when exposed to high temperatures. In fact, nearly all enzymes are deactivated at temperatures over 117°F. However, the human body produces the enzymes necessary to digest food. And the body absorbs and re-secretes some enzymes, making it unlikely that digesting food will lead to an enzyme deficiency.

Some Water-Soluble Vitamins Are Lost in the Cooking Process

Some nutrients are easily deactivated or can leach out of food during the cooking process. Water-soluble vitamins, such as vitamin C and the B vitamins, are particularly susceptible to being lost during cooking.

In fact, boiling vegetables may reduce the content of water-soluble vitamins by as much as 50–60% . Boiling results in the greatest loss of nutrients, while other cooking methods more effectively preserve the nutrient content of food. Steaming, roasting and stir-frying are some of the best methods of cooking vegetables when it comes to retaining nutrients. Also, the length of time that a food is exposed to heat affects its nutrient content. The longer a food is cooked, the greater the loss of nutrients.

Cooked Food May Be Easier to Chew and Digest

Chewing is an important first step in the digestive process. The act of chewing breaks down large pieces of food into small particles that can be digested. It requires significantly more energy and effort to properly chew raw foods than cooked ones.

The process of cooking food breaks down some of its fibers and plant cell walls, making it easier for the body to digest and absorb the nutrients. Properly cooking grains and legumes not only improves their digestibility, but it also reduces the number of anti-nutrients they contain. Anti-nutrients are compounds that inhibit the body’s ability to absorb nutrients in plant foods. The digestibility of a food is important because your body can only receive a food’s health benefits if it’s able to absorb the nutrients.

Cooking Increases the Antioxidant Capacity of Some Vegetables

Studies have shown that cooking vegetables increases the availability of antioxidants like beta-carotene and lutein. Antioxidants are important because they protect the body from harmful molecules called free radicals. A diet rich in antioxidants is associated with a lower risk of chronic disease.

Cooking Kills off Harmful Bacteria and Microorganisms

It’s better to eat certain foods cooked, as raw versions may contain harmful bacteria. Cooking food (at temperatures over 140°F, for most foods) effectively kills bacteria that may cause food-borne illness. On the contrary, fruits and vegetables are generally safe to consume raw, as long as they have not been contaminated. Spinach, lettuce, tomatoes and raw sprouts are some of the fruits and vegetables most frequently contaminated by bacteria. Raw meat, fish, eggs and dairy often contain bacteria that can make you sick.

Foods That Are Healthier Raw

  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage
  • Onions
  • Garlic

Foods That Are Healthier Cooked

  • Asparagus
  • Mushrooms
  • Spinach
  • Tomatoes
  • Carrots
  • Potatoes
  • Legumes
  • Meat, fish and poultry

We found that our research dispelled many myths we held. What did you learn? Are you a cook or a chef, what’s your opinion? Did you discover anything new or surprising in this article? How can what you learned improve the way you cook and prepare food and consequently your health? Share your comments with the community by posting them below. Share the wealth of health with your friends and family by sharing this article with 3 people today. As always you are the best part of what we do. Keep sharing.

If these articles have been helpful to you and yours, give a donation to Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook Ezine today.