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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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Compost & Coffee Grounds

In are article yesterday we discussed composting: how to compost and what the benefits are of composting. This reminded one of our readers of the benefits of one of her favorite drinks, coffee, to composting. Click here to view her comment. Consequently, we decided to talk a little more about this nitrogen rich resource. So we sought out for a little more clarification on the topic.

As we discuss urban environments, coffee is an ideal source for compositing and fertilizing for the gardener in more urban settings. Unlike other sources of composting materials coffee grounds produce fewer concerns for disease and can be added to a compost mix or added directly to the soil as a fertilizer. While you are composting your coffee grounds you can also add your coffee filters to your compost pile or mix.

When adding coffee grounds to your compost mix remember that they are considered green compost and will thus need a brown compost material added to it in the proper ratio (2:1. 2 parts green to one part brown). If you add ground coffee to soil as a fertilizer, it will not directly add nitrogen to soil however it will:

  • add organic material to the soil
    • improves drainage
    • improve water retention
    • improve aeration in the soil
  • help microorganisms beneficial to plant growth thrive
  • attract earthworms

Unwashed coffee grounds can

  • lower the pH (or raise the acid level) of soil, which is good for acid loving plants

Fresh coffee grounds are acidic while used coffee grounds are neutral. If you rinse your used coffee grounds, they will have a near neutral pH of 6.5 and will not affect the acid levels of the soil. To use coffee grounds as fertilizer, work the coffee grounds into the soil around your plants. Leftover diluted coffee works well like this also.

There are several other uses for used coffee grounds in gardening:

  • keeping slugs and snails away from plants
  • some people also claim that coffee grounds act as a cat repellent and will keep cats from using your garden as a litter box
  •  worm food if you do vermicomposting with a worm bin

What do you have around the house that you can use in your composting? Remember if you only have plants around the house, you can also do this: use your old coffee grounds. Separating organic endeavors from environmental endeavors is difficult because they both pay homage to nature and are essentially the flip side of the same coin. How can re-purposing items you typically throw away help you save money? What can that do for the environment? How can composting even on a small scale improve the quality of your food and health? What is the one food you eat the most of? How can growing that one food change your health and diet? Share your comments with the community by positing 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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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 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.