A few days ago I received this box of mandarin oranges from the generous folks at Chaffin Family Orchards. Besides being amazingly pure and beyond organically grown, they are the most delicious mandarins I’ve ever tasted! We have been enjoying these simple treats as a healthy dessert, topped on a delicious salad, and cooked into some lovely dishes. I am working on perfecting a crock-pot Mandarin Shrimp recipe (I’ll post it early next week after my “test crew” weighs in). I am also saving all of the wonderful pesticide-free peels so that I can make candied orange peel and to dehydrate for use in baking as orange zest! I am also going to use some of them to make lacto-fermented marmalade; a super-delicious source of probiotics and vitamin C.
These oranges are seriously the best I’ve EVER tasted. We had some store-bought ones served at our Thanksgiving dinner (we weren’t home) and they came no where near. You can tell by the deep orange color of the flesh and the juice that these are something special.
I remember hearing about people growing up in the Great Depression who were so delighted just to receive an orange at Christmastime. These oranges from Chaffin would truly be gift-worthy! I’m usually not that big of an orange fan because most oranges available commercially are obviously not locally grown and besides they taste–I find— is nothing to write home (or blog!) about. But these…..my, oh my!
Chaffin is a diversified Family Farm with beyond organic practices located in Northern California (which still sorta qualifies as “local” for this Oregonian).
The great news is that Chaffin is running a special for two days!!! Free shipping and their normally $39.99 box (for 15 lbs) is selling for $33.99!!!
Chaffin is also an excellent source of high quality, organic, locally made, extra virgin olive oil! Please go HERE to order Chaffin’s mandarins! Order today for a fantastic deal on a delightful, organic, and healthy treat that makes a fantastic gift!
And stay tuned for my recipe on crock-pot Mandarin Shrimp that is coming down the pike in a few days!!!!
My fascinating nutritional studies have lead me through a remarkable profound, in-depth study of human digestion. The journey that food takes from the mouth to the cells is, quite frankly, incredible. I often spend time ranting on this blog about proper nutrition, good gut flora, and lack of sugar and refined carbohydrates. Sometimes I chide myself because I write too much about nutrition and neglect to give good “tips for being organic and thrifty”. But as I’ve been pondering this, I’m realizing:
To be truly organic and thrifty, your body needs to be able to digest the food that you eat. You can eat the most nutrient-dense, whole food diet but if your body isn’t digesting, it’s just going into the toilet.But why are these things important, from the perspective of digestion?
In the ideal digestive situation, every calorie we consume contains something useful to the body, that actually aids the body in some way. Whether it’s rich in vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, fiber, fats, amino acids— whatever the food contains, it should contain something that ultimately some cell in your body actually needs.
It’s helpful, when you’re struggling with the temptation to eat junk food, to ask yourself “Do my cells need any of what’s in here?”. If it’s a Krispy Kreme, then the answer to that is a resounding “No!”.
Cellular nutrition is at the heart of good health; and in the end it’s what matters most. But there’s a lot that has to happen between the mouth and the cells. Here’s a quick rundown, from north to south, of the elements that need to be in place for proper digestion and assimilation to take place:
1. Mouth: Your saliva contains salivary amylase, which is an enzyme that helps with carbohydrate breakdown. Your teeth are made for chewing; and chewing helps to break down the food (remember, it’s gotta get into your cells!). Mindful chewing (20 times, or until it becomes liquid) is helpful not only to help digestion, but to signal your stomach to prepare an environment that can peacefully continue the job of breaking down your food. Of course, chewing slows down the eating process, which inevitably prevents overeating. So, in summary: Chew your food!
2. Stomach:A healthy stomach secretes hydrochloric acid and pepsin for the breakdown of proteins. Hydrochloric acid destroys pathogens that may be in the food, and also further breaks down the food. Pepsin is crucial for protein breakdown because undigested proteins are notorious for causing problems further down in the gut (read: allergies!!! But more on that in a future post). Additionally, we need proteins to break down into amino acids so that they can be available for the myriad of roles they play in the body. One example is the amino acid tryptophan. The body uses tryptophan to produce serotonin, a mood and sleep regulator. Without proper protein breakdown, we can suffer sleep and mood disorders. Without pepsin, the body cannot properly absorb vitamin B12, which is also a crucial vitamin for mental health and mood regulation.
Contrary to popular belief, it is very rare for the stomach to produce too much stomach acid. In fact, clinical studies show that the majority of people who suffer from digestive problems are shown to be deficient in stomach acid. Wholistic doctors, naturopaths, chiropractors, and nutritional therapists are some of the health care pracitioners that can help assess the status of your hydrochloric acid. It’s amazing how many chronic illnesses have been reported to have improved by HCl and enzyme therapy. Some of the conditions that improve with this type of therapy are asthma, rhumatoid arthritis, ulcers, stomach cancer, and food allergies. For the whole story of how this works, check out Why Stomach Acid is Good for Youby Dr. Jonathan Wright, MD. This book will knock your socks off; especially with its endless pages of endnotes citing studies that Prosilac and Zantac’s producers hope you’ll never read!!! So, in summary, if you’re having digestive problems, don’t do anything until you find out the status of your HCl!
3. Duodenum:The duodenum is the first part of the small intestine. When the acidic “chyme” of the stomach enters the duodenum, reactions occur which stimulate the release of bile from the gallbladder (to emulsify fats for absorbption into the lymphatic system) and pancreatic enzymes as well as bicarbonate to neutralize the acidic chyme from the stomach. By now, the stomach should have done the job of breaking carbohydrates into glucose, proteins into amino acids, and the fats should be emulified and ready for absorbtion by the lymphatic system. Key players here: The gallbladder is crucial because the good fats you eat need to be emulsified, or else they will not be absorbed. And fat is what your cells can utilize most efficiently. The pancreas to supply the necessary bicarbonate and enzymes.
4. Small Intestine:Your small intestine is full of tiny, fingerlike projections called “villi”. Their job is to absorb the nutriets and transmit them into the bloodstream where they are carried to your cells. (Ta da!!!!) To give you a visual picture of the importance of the villi: Imagine you were to open the small intestine and unfold the entire surface area of it. The entire surface area of a functional small intestine is the size of a tennis court. Without those villi, however (which can be damaged by undigested food particles that come throughdue to lack of sufficient acid and enzymes) the size of the small intestine is reduced to that of a parking space.
So it stands to reason that the less absorbtion area you have, the less nutrients you get from the food you are eating, hence more food to eat, ergo more food you have to buy.
5. Colon (Large Intestine): The colon’s job is to basically pull out the water and send it to the kidneys where it is filtered, recirculated, and any excess eliminated. As the water is eliminated, the digested matter becomes more solid. Some additional absorbtion can occur in the large intestine, and in a healthy large intestine colonies of friendly microflora feast on the undigested matter that comes through. This can either be a very good or bad thing, because due to overuse of antibiotics, birth control pills, stress, and unhealthy dietary habits, there can be very few of these friendly guys inhabiting the large intestine. Rather, pathogenic yeasts and parasites, as well as fungi and disease-causing organisms can dominate the gut, causing dysbiois. As you may figure, the “bad guys” love to eat the sugars and starches that are undigested. The good guys love to eat the fiber (undigested vegetable matter) that comes through. The biproducts of what the good guys eat is more vitamins for your body, as these friendly bacteria produce many of the B vitamins our bodies need for crucial functions like glucose metabolism. So, who’s winning in your colon?
So, as you can see there are several key players along the line of digestion, and a healthy diet not only feeds your cells, but can support proper healing at all aspects.
Literally, scores of “uncurable disorders”, both physical and mental, can result from one of the processes above being compromised. And unfortunately, eating the wrong kinds of foods (namely trans fatty acids, refined carbohydrates, and denatured proteins from pasteurized dairy products) simply aggrivates an already compromised digestive system.
We are nearing the end of yet another year, about to begin a new decade. Now’s a great time to begin thinking about little things we can do to support our body’s healing.
A healthy body is worth investing in, because your body needs strong, healthy cells to fight degenerative diseases and cancers. It’s pay now, or pay later.
In a series of future posts, I plan to share some real food suggestions for healing and restoring digestive function from the mouth on down.
The Center for Nutritional Research has a very informative artcle on Bovine Colostrum and its ability to help boost the immune system and prevent swine flu (DISCLAIMER: These statements have not been approved by the FDA).
Colostrum is the first milk produced by the mother following the birth of a child. It is loaded with all sorts of immune and growth factors that in the baby help condition the gastrointestinal tract and give it the immune protection it needs until its own immune system is up and running. In the adult, colostrum helps heal the gut, which is crucial to our health and well-being. Many, perhaps most, diseases and illnesses enter out bodies through the gut. They are able to do this because of the damage we do to the gut lining by things like drinking alcohol, coffee and sodas, smoking, taking NSAIDs and aspirin for pain, poor diet and the like. Our gut lining is also damaged by environmental toxins in the water we drink and the food we eat. A healthy gut lining keeps out toxins and disease-causing organisms, but a damaged gut lining can allow these through due to increased permeability.
Colostrum has been proven to heal these injuries and restore the permeability back to where it should be. It promotes the growth of beneficial bacteria while killing harmful bacteria, like H. pylori (a major cause of ulcers) and fungus, like Candida. The immune components of colostrum also helps protect us against pathogenic bacteria and viruses. Taking colostrum regularly as a nutritional supplement keeps us healthy and prevents colds and flu before they can take root. “
To read the entire article, click HERE.
Our family has been taking bovine colostrum daily in order to optimally support our immune systems (along with not eating sugar/grains). It can be purchases online or in a health food store. My kids don’t LOVE it, but two-year old will down a whole capsule with a spoonful of coconut oil and a splash of raw honey). My four-year-old will drink it mixed into a smoothie or green drink. If you’re really fortunate, you can find a farm that will sell you real live colostrum! We’ve gotten that before from our goat farm, and then cultured it—talk about a superfood!
For those of you who love to read scientific studies (or if you don’t believe me), you can find A LOT of studies (I stopped counting after 38; and I wasn’t even halfway down the page) HERE.
Stay safe and healthy!
Ever the cookbook junkie, I have been excitedly anticipating the release of the book Make it Fast, Cook it Slow.
Penned by the amazing blogger Stephanie O’dea, who is the genious (wow, how embarrassing! I’m obviously not one) genius behind the blog A Year of SlowCooking, this book is everything I hoped it would be and more! You know when you are constantly visiting a website for recipes that chances are you’ll enjoy the book!
The reasons that I love her book are many. For one, they all involve the slow cooker which makes life much easier. All the recipes are gluten free, which doesn’t always mean they all work for our diet, but there are certainly plenty of good choices. I also love the recipes because they are not your typical slow cooker recipes. She has a whole section called “Take Out Fake Out” where she has simple, frugal recipes for Thai, Indian, and Chinese takeout favorites. Her Inidan and Thai curries are amazing. Her Korean ribs and Chinese beef and broccoli look fabulous as well and I plan to try them as soon as I get rid of the frozen beef in my freezer (and can therefore justify buying ribs!).
For the generally gluten-free, you will be pleased with the diversity of pasta recipes (using rice pasta) including macaroni and cheese! She also manages to create enchilada casserole in the slowcooker (one of my favorites!). She has lots of great rice and bean recipes and fantastic soups, including a homemade broccoli and cheese soup!
If you’re eating a paleo/gaps type diet, you will enjoy the wide variety of tasty meat recipes, including lots of different ways to enjoy chicken and beef! She has a delicious rotissarie-chicken wannabe recipe that has the most amazing blend of spices that totally rivals store-bought rotisserie chicken!
Stephanie makes many nonconventional items in her crockpot, including Pumpkin Spice Lattes and Chai Tea, Dolmas, and even Falafel!!! She has a delicous recipe for gyros and that crispy lemon chicken like you get at the Chinese Restaurant! And to add to the fun, she has these simple, genious recipes for fancy cheese fondue and chocolate fondue! All of these recipes are entertainment-worthy, and I can’t think of a way to make having guests over easier than by slow-cooking! I’m really excited to try Stephanie’s creme brulee recipe, the famous recipe that got her on the Rachael Ray show!
These recipes are thrifty and kid-friendly, and very simple. They are just my style because I think Stephanie and have the same taste in food. There are lots of ethnic food recipes (I love Indian and Thai food and this book has lots of unique restaurant-food quality recipes!) including Peking Duck!! We don’t eat out often, but when we do we love to go to Indian or Thai food. I am excited to save even more money by cooking these dishes at home!
A Few Caveats
A few things must be mentioned about this book, even though I love it. There seem to be quite a few recipes with added sugar (particularly the beef recipes). I am interested to test these recipes using some honey, stevia, or simply leaving out the added sugar and seeing how it works. There are also several recipes calling for fat-free dairy, which I think is essentially a “non food”, so I simply will replace with whole milk, yogurt, cream, etc.
All in all, I highly reccommend this book and encourage anyone who’s looking to expand their reperatoire of slow cooker recipes to check this one out!