Health, Nutrition and Food

EVEN ALICE LIKED THE TEA
A Primer on How to Dry Herbs and Make Homemade Tea Blends

Essay and photos by Elizabeth Fiend

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Recently BiG TeA PaRtY threw a Sustainable Living “Tea Party” at Playa Del Fuego (an East Coast Burning Man) – hundreds of people stopped by to read our posters and share their own ideas on sustainability. Our homegrown and home-blended wormwood iced tea was a hit. Many asked for the recipe and how-to for homemade herbal iced teas. Here’s the low down:

I grow my own herbs, if you have some earth I recommend this sustainable pastime. Gardening and growing some of your own food (and beverages!) is a rewarding endeavor. Otherwise, dried herbs are available for sale on the internet.

GROWING HERBS:

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•    Herbs are easy to grow. Know your climate and soil — choose plants accordingly. Herbs will be perennial (long lasting), annual (just one season) and sometimes in-between like biannual and short lived perennials.

•    Make sure you really know what you’re growing because you’ll be ingesting these plants. Purchase plants and seeds from reliable dealers. Often, plants will be mislabeled at lesser garden centers.
•    In my experience it’s best to purchase perennials as plants; annuals are usually cheaper to grow from seed.

HARVESTING AND DRYING HERBS:
•    When possible, harvest herbs on a dry day in the morning to get the most impact from the plants natural flavoring – their oils.
•    Always leave at least one third of the plant intact when harvesting (except annuals, eat it all as frost approaches as it’s going to die soon anyway).
•    Since my herbs are home grown and I don’t use any chemicals in my yard, I don’t wash my herbs (as drying them is the goal) instead I dust off any dirt with my fingers and inspect for dead bugs, feathers etc. which I remove.
•    Tie the herbs in small bundles and hang them upside down in a dry and aerated location away from direct light until they’re dry.

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What to do with A Sh*t-Load of Vegetables

 

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How I Ended My Summer Vacation

Article by Elizabeth Fiend

Upon returning from my vacation I was greeted by my two charming 20-something house sitters. They did a great job holding down the fort and loving my big orange cat Hurricane. They bashfully asked me if it would be okay if they left the remainder of their CSA Farm Share in my fridge. Like many people, seems they’re trying hard to eat right but are at a loss as to how to actually pull it off.

Can you image asking ME if it would be okay to unload a bunch of organic fruit and vegetables?

I made them squirm bit and then hastily accepted. In my book, there’s only one thing better than a fridge full of organic produce, a fridge fill of free organic produce.

I quickly went through the bonanza. In the crisper tomatoes tightly wrapped in a plastic bag were immediately removed to a plate and set on the counter.

Fresh corn was out on the counter seemingly left there for days. What were they thinking, pop corn? That had to go to the composting heap. But everything else was salvageable.

The two pints of blackberries were on the verge of extinction. To save them I popped them in the microwave for three minutes. I added a touch of maple syrup to remove the tartness, which I’m assuming is why the house sitters didn’t eat them. I drained some of the dark purple, almost black actually, juice off and drank it right then. The blackberry compote would be perfect for weekend pancakes.

Giant bags of beets and carrots did seem a bit daunting as they were still covered in farm dirt. But not to worry, I have a vegetable scrubber.

There was also a bag of Swiss chard as big as a house, eggplants, tomatoes, tomatillos and the obligatory oodles of end-of-summer-zucchini.

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Low Carb, Without the High Protein:

The Glycemic Index

Written By ELIZABETH FIEND

To eat healthy, eat low on the glycemic index. White bread is at 100 and the list works down from there. Foods ranked at 55 or lower are considered ‘low.’ To start out, eat at least one food that’s 55 or lower at each meal. Throw in a serving or two of something over 55 but less than 70. You’ll lose weight and be more nourished. Foods ranked over 70? Danger, danger, Will Robinson!

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The Glycemic Index could save your life — literally. It could make living with diabetes easier. Or prevent diabetes in the first place. It can reduce your risk of heart disease. It will lower your cholesterol. It will make you thinner. It might even get you laid.

The Glycemic Index is a scientific measurement of how rapidly foods release their sugars into your blood. It’s an invaluable, easy-to-use tool for maintaining or getting to a proper weight. Forget diets. Get jiggy wit’ the GI instead.

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Research on the Glycemic Index originally began as a way to pin-point the best foods choices for diabetics; to help them better control their blood sugar and therefore insulin production. But soon it became apparent that the Glycemic Index was a great tool for people to use to control their weight.

The concept was popularized in diets like Atkins, The Zone and The South Beach Diet which center around the philosophy of low-carb/high protein. The problem with these diets is that they rely on too much protein and not enough fruits and vegetables to keep you healthy in the long run. Carbohydrates are found in foods like bread, pasta, cake and fruit as these foods contain sugars. Foods that are low in carbs are fish, meat, cheese; these foods contain fat and protein. Also low in carbs are most vegetables which usually are very low in fat.

The Glycemic Index was built by sitting down 10 people and measuring their blood sugar after feeding them a specific food — and then measuring their blood sugar again two hours later. Days later, the process was repeated and the numbers were combined and averaged. So yeah, they made a list checked it twice, and found out which foods were naughty or nice.

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We’re Eating Less Meat. Why?


Source New York Times     Written By MARK BITTMAN     Posted by Elizabeth Fiend

Americans eat more meat than any other population in the world; about one-sixth of the total, though we’re less than one-twentieth of the population.

But that’s changing.

Until recently, almost everyone considered their dinner plate naked without a big old hunk of meat on it. (You remember “Beef: It’s What’s for Dinner,” of course. How could you forget?) And we could afford it: our production methods and the denial of their true costs have kept meat cheap beyond all credibility. (American hamburger is arguably the cheapest convenience food there is.) This, in part, is why we spend a smaller percentage of our money on food than any other country, and much of that goes toward the roughly half-pound of meat each of us eats, on average, every day.

But that’s changing, and considering the fairly steady climb in meat consumption over the last half-century, you might say the numbers are plummeting. The department of agriculture projects that our meat and poultry consumption will fall again this year, to about 12.2 percent less in 2012 than it was in 2007. Beef consumption has been in decline for about 20 years; the drop in chicken is even more dramatic, over the last five years or so; pork also has been steadily slipping for about five years.

Holy cow. What’s up?

It’s easy enough to round up the usual suspects, which is what a story in the Daily Livestock Report did last month. It blames the decline on growing exports, which make less meat available for Americans to buy. It blames it on ethanol, which has caused feed costs to rise, production to drop and prices to go up so producers can cover their increasing costs. It blames drought. It doesn’t blame recession, which is surprising, because that’s a factor also.

All of which makes some sense. The report then goes on to blame the federal government for “wag[ing] war on meat protein consumption” over the last 30-40 years.

Is this like the war on drugs? The war in Afghanistan? The war against cancer? Because what I see here is:

a history of subsidies for the corn and soy that’s fed to livestock
a nearly free pass on environmental degradation and animal abuse
an unwillingness to meaningfully limit the use of antibiotics in animal feed
a failure to curb the stifling power that corporate meatpackers wield over smaller ranchers
and what amounts to a refusal — despite the advice of real, disinterested experts, true scientists in fact —  to unequivocally tell American consumers that they should be eating less meat

Or is the occasional environmental protection regulation and whisper that unlimited meat at every meal might not be ideal the equivalent of war? Is the U.S.D.A. buying $40 million worth of chicken products to reduce the surplus and raise retail prices the equivalent of war? (more…)

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POTATOES = STARCH, NOT VEGETABLE
 

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When planning meals think of potatoes as a starch — like bread or pasta — not a vegetable. OK?
 
Potatoes are 92% carbohydrate.
BY ELIZABETH FIEND
 
I eat white potatoes in moderation because they’re very high in carbohydrates [which is basically sugar] and therefore are among the most “fattening” of all vegetables. Plus, people tend to over eat them, or to combine them with other foods high in carbs (think a burger on a -white bread roll- and French fries).
 
 
Potatoes do have a good amount of potassium which is believed to lower blood pressure.
 
 
But like I said, eat in moderation, how about one time a week?
 
 
The Chairman of the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health is calling for potatoes be removed from the vegetable group and re-classified as a carbohydrate.

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Don’t Buy Into the Hype of Stupid ‘Health’ Beverages

Forget the Bogus Beverages

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by ELIZABETH FIEND 

Spring is in the air, and peoples’ attention will be turning to romance and in turn lookin’ good for the summer months when you get to show off a lot more skin. If you’re considering going on a diet to look great to attract that special someone, I can help you because I know THE definitive way to lose weight. Send me a check and I’ll spill it. Oh hell, I’ll just tell you right now. The way, and this is the only way to loose weight — drum roll please….. eat less and/or exercise more. Or to be very precise, burn more calories than you consume. This is the only way, folks. Don’t let anyone else tell you differently and don’t spend any money or waste time on any other scheme.

Calories in, calories out.

Every fad diet or even the ones that linger — such as Atkins, Weight Watchers, South Beach, The Zone, The Grapefruit Diet, The Cabbage Soup Diet — no matter what they try to get you to believe (eat only protein, eat no fat, eat only grapefruit) underneath it all, at the end of the meal these diets are about one thing — calorie restriction.

The camouflage that these diets wrap themselves in, and the way they differ from one another, is in their strategy of helping you to stick to the restricted caloric intake. These strategies really can help you consume fewer calories by making you feel less hungry. For example, it’s true that simple carbohydrates, like cake and white bread, release all their energy (or calories) into your blood quickly. You eat, you crash. You feel lack of energy so you eat again. Foods containing protein and complex carbs, nuts and the whole grains in whole wheat pasta or brown rice, release their energy slowly, over time, making you feel more satiated and therefore less likely to consume more calories. Fruits and vegetables, which contain few calories to begin with, can fill you up because you can eat a lot of them and not consume too many calories.

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Soy to the World!

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Written by ELIZABETH FIEND

I know, you wait and wait, eagerly anticipating your favorite time of the year, and suddenly, it’s here! April is National Soy Month, the most delicious month of the year! Now you no longer have to wait until April to enjoy soy.

Soy is one hell of an amazing plant, one that’s been part of the human diet for over 5,000 years. But it’s much, much more than just veggie burgers. The soybean is also used as food for livestock and it has all the properties of petroleum — except unlike petrol, soy is biodegradable.

Wow, doesn’t knowing that you could fuel up your car or feed your cow with it make soy even more mouth-watering, appetizing and desirable to you?

This bean’s potential is astounding.

Ben Franklin was so intrigued by the story of a “cheese” made from a bean he acquired some seeds, soybeans actually, and sent them to his West Philly homey John Bartram’s estate. Ben also sent along directions on how to turn the beans into curds, aka tofu.

Despite Ben’s efforts, soy never really caught on in Ye Olde America, and was primarily grown for livestock feedbutterfly.jpg and oil until food shortages during WWII stimulated interest in the plant as a source of food for human beans.

Tofu, which had Ben so jazzed up, wasn’t sold in an American supermarket until 1958. Not coincidentally, I made my own debut that year.

Franklin was only one great thinker (and eater) who was intrigued by the potential of the plant from Asia. Both George Washington Carver and Henry Ford donated a great deal of their lives to this marvelous bean.

Carver, the African-American educator and agricultural genius, began investigating soy in hopes it would become a crop newly-emancipated slaves might use to gain financial independence. His soy products include candles, soups, coffee, cheeses, ice cream, flour and oil. (click to see my and my own article on GW Carver)

Henry Ford also had a million projects going on involving soy and dedicated the last two decades of his life to the bean. Among other things, he unveiled a car made with soy-composite body parts in 1941 and was known to be out and about town in a suit spun out of soy.

As a food, soy can’t be beat. It’s packed with more protein than any other bean. In fact, the soybean is the only plant food source that contains ALL of the nine essential amino acids, making it equal to the protein from animal sources. But unlike animal products, soy has no cholesterol and is much lower in saturated fat.

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TECHNOLOGY, FOOD, ANIMAL RIGHTS, HEALTH:

I Scream Clone

Cloning won’t mean cute new little friends like these, what it means is the FDA approves farm animals for cloning.

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By Elizabeth Fiend 

In 1952 a special tadpole was born. It was the first animal ever cloned. After that breakthrough, scientists spent many years and many millions of dollars on unsuccessful cloning attempts. Then, in 1997, it was ‘Hello, Dolly,’ when this sheep became the first successfully cloned mammal. Since Dolly’s celebrated birth, scientists have cloned many different animals including goats, cows, horses, pigs, rabbits and mice. A guar (an exotic ox native to India) named Noah was the first endangered animal to be cloned, but unfortunately he lived only 48 hours.

There’s also been a big push to clone our beloved pets, for love and profit. The cat came first, then a dog. But it wasn’t easy and as it turns out, the cloning of pets wasn’t as profitable a business as some had hoped. Now the biotechnology industry has turned much of its attention to cloning barn yard animals for future human consumption.

The Food and Drug Administration has released an 800-page report which concluded that the milk and meat from cloned cattle, pigs and goats and their offspring is as safe to eat as the food we currently consume. They also added that they won’t recommend special labels for food from a cloned source, because the food from cloned animals is “virtually indistinguishable” from conventional food.

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CHEW ON THIS! [15 minutes]
Chew On This! is full of Philly food facts and fun fur hats, plus a visit from one of America’s greatest thinkers (and eaters) Benjamin Franklin. Part game show, part food show and all parts fun, this episode is a feast of eye candy and an earful of information.

We create our own quiz show by playing the games Dicey Dinner and Tic Tac Tofu in which host Elizabeth Fiend tests contestants’ knowledge of nutrition and food. Yes, there’s jumping up & down, there are hugs and an audience screaming out encouragement. But there are also velvet-lined pizza boxes, fuzzy dice thrown from a KFC bucket and a game board of cartoon food held by men with green hair. This show is bound to amuse as well as inform you about the value of a vegetarian diet, what color foods have the most antioxidants and much, much more.

Even special guest Ben Franklin learns a thing or two from Elizabeth while he charms her into making him a sandwich – a sandwich on a soft pretzel!

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SUNSHINE PASTA SALAD

Make this for the next barbecue!

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RECIPE BY ELIZABETH FIEND
Serves 4, Time: 45 minutes

Category: Vegan / Vegetarian Recipe

With the arrival of summer you’ll really enjoy this cold pasta salad which capitalizes on freshness. This tangy, light pasta salad features the color orange. It will brighten your outlook and your look because it’s made with a dressing that contains lots of healthy herbs and spices, but no fat! The spices used in the dressing weren’t chosen randomly. They taste good and have health benefits. Ginger has anti-inflammatory properties that increase circulation, give energy, alleviate aches and pains and help reduce symptoms of allergies and sinus congestion. Mustard fights stress as it is a good source of magnesium, a calming mineral. Garlic is an immune system booster.

Salad Ingredients:
1/2 lb thin whole wheat spaghetti
4 tablespoons parsley chopped
2 carrots grated and diced
1 orange bell pepper cut into thin strips
3 oranges peeled and cut into bite size pieces
½ pint grape tomatoes cut into quarters
1 cup pecans broken into halves

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