Happy Heart Month

Here are some heart-healthy tips for you to celebrate February’s Heart Health Month:

1. Laugh and be happy! Happiness helps your heart
2. Have a supportive social network and spend time with positive people. Loneliness and depression are linked to heart disease
3. Reduce your stress (meditate, exercise) Get your heart out of fight or flight mode
4. Quit smoking and reduce the amount of alcohol you’re consuming
5. Eat a heart healthy diet, such as lots of fruits and veggies, healthy fats, beans, nuts, seeds, and grains. AVOID trans fats, refined and processed foods, too much salt, and too much sugar.

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Pulse photos via Ecocentric Blog

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Red foods photo via PCRM

Kula, Maui strawberries
Kula, Maui strawberries

Happy Valentine’s Day!

The Dirty Dozen & Clean 15, 2014

If you’re wanting to eat more organic produce but are on a tight budget, the Environmental Working Group has published a list of foods that you should definitely buy organic due to the high amounts of pesticide residue, and a list of the those items that are safe to buy conventionally.

Why is it important to eat more organic produce?

Pesticides are implicated in various health issues such as disrupting brain development, behavioral issues, cancer, and the decline of honey bees. Pesticide exposure is more detrimental for children because the dose they receive is more concentrated due to their smaller bodies.

The list includes:

The Dirty Dozen

Produce that should be purchased organically:

1. apples
2. strawberries
3. grapes
4. celery
5. peaches
6. spinach
7. sweet bell peppers
8. nectarines
9. cucumbers
10. cherry tomatoes
11. snap peas
12. potatoes

…plus lettuce, collards, & kale
…plus blueberries and cherries
…plus summer squash & zucchini

See the full list

The Clean Fifteen

Produce that is safe to purchase conventionally:

1. avocados
2. sweet corn
3. pineapples
4. cabbage
5. frozen sweet peas
6. onions
7. asparagus
8. mangoes
9. papayas
10. kiwis
11. eggplant
12. grapefruit
13. cantaloupe
14. cauliflower
15. sweet potatoes

Farm-to-table yoga event

My birthday was not too long ago and my wonderful friend SH gave me one of the best gifts I’ve ever gotten.  She bought a seat for me at Yogarden’s Farm-to-Table & Yoga events held at Green Row Farms and I went with my other friend GS.  GS & I stopped on the way at Sweet Home Waimanalo to get some lemonade and then we made our way into the back roads of Waimanalo. When you show up, you get a farm tour and learn about permaculture design methods, do yoga outside looking at the Ko’olau mountains to live music, and then eat a delicious plant-based meal with community. The theme for this dinner was Cajun/Creole and my friend Jennifer Hee was one of the people preparing the meal for about 40 people. Since we were dining by starlight & candles only, it was too dark to get any food photos, but an example of one of the farm-to-table dishes was corn that was grown, dried, and then milled in Waihole and then cooked for us at this event into polenta. Yummy! Since I’ve been working a lot, it was truly inspiring and rejuvenating for the soul.

My Madre Chocolate Farm Tour

I chose Madre Chocolate to include in my Vegan Mexican Pop-up Dinner after learning all about how they make the chocolate bean to bar. They are very supportive of fair and clean food from the farmers to their own production. I’m so excited to use their Xoconusco chocolate in my mole sauce!

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Vanilla beans

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A cacao tree on the Windward side

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Another cacao tree on the same farm

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Dave was telling us about lilikoi which they also use in their chocolate

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Cacao seeds are purple on the inside before they are fermented and roasted.

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Dave was explaining about the roasting process

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Here’s a close-up of the cacao pod, roasted beans, vanilla, and cocoa butter.

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Some of the finished product on display for sale in their Kailua shop.

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Grinding the cacao takes days!

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Dave, pouring the chocolate into molds

Learn more about the dinner on my EVENT PAGE

Eventbrite - Mexican Pop-Up Dinner

Cookspace Hawaii

When my friend Ashley sold her share of Baby aWEARness, my space for cooking demos went “aloha”!  I was trying not to worry about this (even with all the people asking, “Why isn’t anything on your calendar?” when one day, Melanie Kosaka called me and let me know about her new business Cookspace Hawaii that was coming on-line in the spring of 2013. Holy Wow! What manifesting luck was that?!  I recently had my first class there, which was a private corporate bonding event, and this space simply a dream come true.  Hope you’ll come check it out on 3/17 when I teach my Go Green Cuisine cooking class!

 

Mexican Pop-Up Dinner

I’m really excited to include Madre Chocolate‘s Xoconusco chocolate in my next pop-up dinner (Vegan Mexican) featuring their chocolate in a mole sauce.  In case you haven’t heard about them yet, their chocolate is made “from bean to bar” in Kailua.  I’ve taken a farm tour with them to learn how they grow the cacao as well as attended a chocolate-making class and had a complete blast. Each time, I learn so much.  Listening to them talk about flavors in chocolate reminds me of wine tasting, or learning about subtle nuances in coffee roasting to create certain flavors.

madre chocolate

Find out more about the Pop-Up dinner here: http://www.macrobiotichawaii.com/event/veganmexican/

Photos of 1/24 Pop-up Dinner

Here are some photos taken by various people from the pop-up dinner on 1/24 at Taste.  Thanks to everyone who attended. It was so much fun.

(Various photos by Amanda Corby, Kaimana Pine, Melissa Chang, Megumi Kurachi)

Vandana Shiva

Vandana Shiva arrived here on Oahu 1/15/2013 hosted by Hawaii SEED to share her wisdom with us about issues central to food sovereignty.  She inspired those of us in the room with so much information I could hardly keep up with my note taking!  Some of the main points that I gleaned I’ll share here in this post.

Who is Vandana Shiva?

Vandana_Shiva,_environmentalist,_at_Rishikesh,_2007

According to Wikipedia, Shiva, currently based in Delhi, has authored more than 20 books. She was trained as a quantum physicist and received her Ph.D. in philosophy from a Canadian university.  She’s known as a visionary leader and a figure of the world-wide solidarity movement for food sovereignty and has been featured in recent documentary films. She has fought for changes in the practice and paradigms of agriculture and food. Intellectual property rights, biodiversity, biotechnology, bioethics, genetic engineering are among the fields where Shiva has contributed intellectually and through activist campaigns. She has assisted grassroots organizations of the Green movement in Africa, Asia, Latin America, Ireland, Switzerland, and Austria with campaigns against genetic engineering. In 1982, she founded the Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Ecology, which led to the creation of Navdanya in 1991, a national movement to protect the diversity and integrity of living resources, especially native seed, the promotion of organic farming and fair trade. For last two decades Navdanya has worked with local communities and organizations serving many men and women farmers. Navdanya’s efforts have resulted in conservation of more than 2000 rice varieties from all over the country and have established 34 seed banks in 13 states across the country.

What were some of her key points?

ecofeminism1) ECOFEMINISM: Ecofeminism is the social movement that regards the oppression of women and nature as interconnected. Many of her comments centered on the innate wisdom, beauty, and power in nature.  A couple of times while discussing her recommend action steps to make personal change (specifically organic gardening and cultivating a connection with nature), she drew a parallel to the recent gang rape of a young woman in Delhi.  She suggested that the so-called “right to genetic engineering of seeds” is the equivalent of this gang rape. Not only is what’s happening with biotech connected to violence against women, but it is also connected to what is happening to other species of our planet, in particular, factory farmed animals.  She spoke out against feeding cows corn instead of their natural diet of grass, as well as allowing them to live in such horrifying conditions. She said that to successfully do organic gardening, such as understanding the interconnections between pollinators (birds, bees, butterflies) and the health of the soil and weather are a true science, whereas biotech has absolutely no understanding of this complexity. These companies instead just add inputs (chemicals, pesticides, fertilizers) and overlook nature.  The companies take varieties of seeds that have, for multiple generations, been saved by organic farmers and run the seeds through computer programs separating out the gene sequences.  She said, for example, that while organic farmers know which of their seeds would be drought tolerant, the biotech industry has no idea which gene sequence is responsible for that particular trait.  Irregardless, they create seeds anyway and simply take a gamble on the future of life.  The most important part of farming is NOT growing the vegetables themselves, but actually caring for the soil quality (the nutrition the plants get as they grow).  In places overrun by seed companies, the soil has no microorganisms, but is rather a cloud of toxic chemicals in the dust that blow in the wind. She suggested that after speaking with the companies, that it sounds like they know exactly what safety issues exist, but they are focused only on profits.

2) Racial Genocide: The other key point that she brought up was that seed companies quite intentionally go to a geographic region and modify the indigenous plants sacred to native people.  Much like the US government gave blankets to Native Americans infected with small pox, the seed companies go after the most important plants to indigenous people.  In Mexico, they have monopolized corn; in India, cotton, wheat, and eggplant; and in Hawaii, have gone after taro (kalo). Further, there is now only 5% of cotton seed in India that is organic. That’s right, 95% is biotech.  She said that the cotton belt is also known as the suicide belt. The seed companies come to the farmer’s land and ask the farmers to “sign on the dotted line”. They deliberately sell the farmers seeds that the seed companies know are going to fail in that region.  (Why? Again, profits.) The farmers thus have to buy more seeds, thinking perhaps their failure was just something random that season. Over time, farmer’s inputs go up by as much as 500% as they are purchasing everything they need to grow the crops (fertilizer, seeds, pesticides) putting them into severe debt.  What is even more insulting is that they market the seeds to farmers by using Hindu deities. If for example, a seed packet has Hanuman’s image, the farmers often say, “Why would Hanuman lie to us?” By the time the farmers realize that there is no way to pay down their significant debt, the companies come back and seize the land, separating them from all they have ever known, and from their spirituality.  The farmers ultimately commit suicide. She said in a place where Hindus believe in reincarnation, there is no longer a place where they can reincarnate to.  With this company’s plan, she said, there is no other life. She felt they are waging a war against sacred cultures and that the so-called “science” needs to be taken out of culture.  Fertilizers are leftover ammunition from bombs, so this is the science of killing, not life. Monoculture is a recipe for starvation and environmental destruction. (Biodiversity is the opposite of this and what will provide more food and protect the environment, especially with climate change.)  The “biotech scientists” they speak of are actually just made up people that claim to be experts. When you actually research them, they do not exist at all. (If you have ever seen the movie The Yes Men Fix The World, they are the antidote!)

3) Health Issues: Ever wonder why so many people are now having gluten issues? One thing Vandana Shiva talked about was how wheat is being cultivated now to yield high gluten. Why? To make more profits. Wheat that is indigenous to the place (in her case, India) is naturally LOW in gluten.  Research with animals fed biotech food shows that they die from cancer and lose 50% of their offspring also to health problems.

4) The Right to Ignore Unjust Law: “Progress means thousands of small and medium size sustainable organic farms.” Shiva said that Gandhi has been her inspiration for her teachings and life work. He taught that one need not follow a law that is unjust.  In Gandhi’s time, this dealt specifically with salt and cotton.  Now in current times, this deals with the right to save seeds.  She will save seeds that to her represented freedom, and her dream for 2013 is food freedom zones filled with gardens everywhere. In these gardens we can claim unity which she said rests on biodiversity.  Our strength is in the power we share with nature and that the power of non-violence is stronger than the power of violence.  The power of money held by these corporations will be defeated by our love of the earth and of each other across the world. Another speaker there, Andrew Kimbrell said, “What can you do? Defend love. We live on love, not efficiency.”

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seed-saving

Hidden Costs of Eating “Cheap Food”

Health

  • Scientific studies are now starting to implicate genetically modified foods to infertility
  • Studies show conventionally grown food has lower nutrient value
  • High fat and sugar diets lead to obesity, hypoglycemia and diabetes, heart disease, osteoporosis, digestive distress, among many other common lifestyle related illnesses (Plant-based diets prevent and reverse the same ailments.)
  • There are about 5,000 deaths each year from food-borne illnesses like e-coli
  • Someone else is controlling your food source! There’s a definite lack of information about what’s actually in the food.  Corporations do not often trace back to producers from places like China and it’s nearly impossible for consumers to get this information about all the ingredients in food items.

What’s the cost of getting a serious illness? Besides the financial cost, the emotional cost seems quite high.

Studies have shown that fruits and vegetables are more satiating–they make you feel fuller than junk food even though they have fewer calories.

Environmental

  • Pesticides poison farm workers, the water system, and those who eat the foods
  • Eroding soil
  • Lost marine life due to soil run-off
  • Loss of plant diversity from use of genetically modified seeds and produce
  • Risk of extinction to many marine species from overfishing
  • Use of machines to plant, harvest, refrigerate, and transport food uses fossil fuels that pollute the environment.

Economic

  • Small farmers going out of business
  • Resources are diverted to purchasing stimulants, depressants, sleeping pills, pain killers, and various other medications to alleviate symptoms
  • Use of machines to plant, harvest, refrigerate, and transport food uses expensive fossil fuels

 

Healthy Cooking: Easier, More Affordable, and More Fun than You Think!

The What

Whole foods are unprocessed and unrefined and come to us from as close to the source as possible.  In contrast, processed foods are genetically modified, colored, made by synthetic means, or laden with hormone additives. White flour, sugar, white rice, most cold cereals, crackers, and packaged foods are processed, for example, and even the things we tend to buy in Costco out of convenience more often than not have a long list of chemicals, preservatives, and additives.  In contrast, think quinoa, brown rice, and other whole grains; a wide variety of fresh organic or minimally processed fruits and vegetables; beans and bean products; nuts; seeds; and natural sweeteners.  Food is medicine!

The Why

Our health (and that of our families) is compromised every time we open a microwaveable meal, a cake mix, or a processed packaged food. In contrast, when we eat a nutritious and balanced whole foods diet, we are likely to experience a wide range of health benefits – better sleep, improved mood, easier weight management, more energy and the alleviation of a wide variety of lifestyle related illnesses.

The environment: environmental health is also being negatively impacted by industrial food practices

But…. “It’s so expensive.” “I don’t have time.” “It’s too difficult.” “I don’t know how.”

$$ Buy in bulk, buy dry goods like grains and beans, grow your own, cook and eat at home as much as possible. Think about it.  How much do you spend on coffee and sugary treats to give yourself energy, aspirin to combat headaches, alcohol or sleeping pills to relax and sleep, or to purchase medication for illness?” What about the cost of a very serious illness?  How do you put a value on quality of life?  How much do you spend to do other things? How much of your money is spent on things that you don’t really need?  Did you know that lentils and brown rice cost about $1.25 per meal on average?!

  • How much of your time is spent online? Watching TV? What if cooking this way is easier than you currently think? Are you willing to explore a new belief?

The How

Rather than focusing on what you “can’t” or “shouldn’t” eat, try adding something new into your diet as often as you can.  Buy a new cookbook.  Take a cooking class. Cook with a friend.  Find strategies to make things easier for yourself, like cooking large pots of soup and freezing it for later, or packing your lunch the night before if you have to leave early in the morning.  The benefits are so worth it!