Healthy Lifestyle Blog

June 27, 2010

Blood Phones

Are you aware that we are inadvertently underwriting the world’s most lethal war? Nicholas Kristof’s column in today’s NY Times, Death by Gadget, looks at “conflict minerals,” and the violence that is associated with their production in the Congo. Before it was “blood diamonds” now it’s “blood phones.”  

If you want to be part of a grassroots effort to raise awareness of the horror associated with electronics, Raise Hope for the Congo offers several ways to help, from committing to purchase confict free electronics to spreading the word through social networking . Here are two videos they produced:


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Marilyn Chiarello, founder of A Taste of Light, is a certified raw vegan chef, educator and health coach. She offers a variety of services including health coaching, classes, dinner parties, consultations and presentations. For more information, visit aTasteofLight.com or contact her directly – Marilyn@aTasteofLight.com or 516-671-7037.

If you would like to receive future articles about health and the environment, along with recipes, event updates and more, please visit http://atasteoflight.com/. The sign-up box is in the right sidebar.


Filed under: Compassion,Environment — Marilyn @ 3:43 pm

June 27, 2010

ChiChi’s Chocolate Chia Pudding

Last week I wrote about the history and benefits of chia seeds in the post, Chia Seeds: Natures Powerhouse. Today I have a recipe for a delicious chocolate chia seed dessert. ChiChi is a nickname that I friends called me when I was in high school, and to this day a dear friend still calls me ChiChi. Hence, the name of the recipe. (I guess you can tell I like alliteration – just couldn’t think of a good alternative for the word “pudding.”)

ChiChi’s Chocolate Chia Pudding

Ingredients:

3 cups nut milk* (see recipe below)
2-3 Tbs. raw cacao
3-5 Tbs. raw honey, maple syrup or agave
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
Pinch salt
1/4 cup chia seeds
1 cup goji berries (optional)

Equipment:
blender, large mixing bowl, whisk

  1. Place all the ingredients EXCEPT the chia seeds and (optional) goji berries in the blender and blend until thoroughly mixed.
  2. Pour the mixture into a large bowl.
  3. SLOWLY add the chia seeds, stirring constantly with a whisk until all the seeds are coated in the milk mixture. Wait a few minutes and add (optional) goji berries. All to sit for 20-30 minutes at room temperature. The pudding will thicken.
  4. Chill in the refrigerator for several hours before serving. I prefer to leave the pudding overnight, as it continues to thicken and the berries soften and get nicely plump.

Nut Milk

Ingredients:

1 cup almonds or Brazil nuts
3-6 cups water (depending on desired creaminess – I use about 3-4 cups for the pudding)
1-2 dates or other sweetener (optional)

Equipment:
blender, large mixing bowl, nut milk bag or fine strainer

  1. Place nuts and water in the blender.
  2. Blend until the nuts are completely ground.
  3. Pour the mixture through a nut milk bag or very fine strainer over a large bowl.
  4. Gently squeeze the nut milk bag to express all the liquid. If using a strainer, keep stirring the mixture so the liquid drains out, removing excess pulp as you go.
  5. If adding sweetener, pour the milk back into the blender and add the dates or other sweetener. Blend again until dates are fully incorporated into the milk.
  6. Stored in a sealed glass container in the refrigerator, nut milk will keep for 2-3 days.

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Marilyn Chiarello, founder of A Taste of Light, is a certified raw vegan chef,educator and health coach.She offers a variety of services including health coaching, classes, dinner parties, consultations and presentations. For more information, visit aTasteofLight.com or contact her directly – Marilyn@aTasteofLight.com or 516-671-7037.

 

If you would like to receive future articles about health and the environment, along with recipes, event updates and more, please visit http://atasteoflight.com/. The sign-up box is in the right sidebar.

 


Filed under: Health,Nutrition,Raw Food,Recipes,Vegan — Marilyn @ 3:11 pm

June 27, 2010

Hands Across the Sands


Today at noon, people across the country gathered by the water to join hands in an effort to bring attention to reversing the destructive practices we have engaged in and to embrace alternative energy. I participated in a small gathering only a mile
or two from my home at Tappan Beach in Sea Cliff. Among other readings and rituals, we visualized healthy waters abundant with life and gathered in a semi-circle at the shore. Here is one of the readings we recited.

From Lakota Chief Arvol Looking Horse:

My Relatives,

Time has come to speak to the hearts of our Nations and their Leaders. I ask you this from the bottom of my heart, to come together from the Spirit of your Nations in prayer.

We, from the heart of Turtle Island, have a great message for the World; we are guided to speak from all the White Animals showing their sacred color, which have been signs for us to pray for the sacred life of all things. As I am sending this message to you, many Animal Nations are being threatened, those that swim, those that crawl, those that fly, and the plant Nations. Eventually all will be affected by the oil disaster in the Gulf.

The dangers we are faced with at this time are not of spirit. The catastrophe that has happened with the oil spill which looks like the bleeding of Grandmother Earth, is made by human mistakes, mistakes that we cannot afford to continue to make.

I ask, as Spiritual Leaders, that we join together, united in prayer with the whole of our Global Communities. My concern is these serious issues will continue to worsen, as a domino effect that our Ancestors have warned us of in their Prophecies.

I know in my heart there are millions of people that feel our united prayers for the sake of our Grandmother Earth are long overdue. I believe we as Spiritual people must gather ourselves and focus our thoughts and prayers to allow the healing of the many wounds that have been inflicted on the Earth. As we honor the Cycle of Life, let us call for Prayer circles globally to assist in healing Grandmother Earth (our Unc’I Maka).

We ask for prayers that the oil spill, this bleeding, will stop. That the winds stay calm to assist in the work. Pray for the people to be guided in repairing this mistake, and that we may also seek to live in harmony, as we make the choice to change the destructive path we are on.

As we pray, we will fully understand that we are all connected. And that what we create can have lasting effects on all life.
 
So let us unite spiritually, All Nations, All Faiths, One Prayer.
Along with this immediate effort, I also ask to please remember June 21st, World Peace and Prayer Day/Honoring Sacred Sites day. Whether it is a natural site, a temple, a church, a synagogue or just your own sacred space, let us make a prayer for all life, for good decision making by our Nations, for our children’s future and well-being, and the generations to come.

Onipikte (that we shall live),

Chief Arvol Looking Horse, 19th generation Keeper of the Sacred
White Buffalo Calf Pipe



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Marilyn Chiarello, founder of A Taste of Light, is a certified raw vegan chef,educator and health coach. She offers a variety of services including health coaching, classes, dinner parties, consultations and presentations. For more information, visit aTasteofLight.com or contact her directly – Marilyn@aTasteofLight.com or 516-671-7037.

If you would like to receive future articles about health and the environment, along with recipes, event updates and more, please visit http://atasteoflight.com/. The sign-up box is in the right sidebar.



Filed under: Environment — Marilyn @ 12:27 am

June 25, 2010

Book Recommendation: The World Peace Diet

Last August I attended the Vibrant Living Expo in Fort Bragg, California, and met Will Tuttle, author of The World Peace Diet. He was one of many excellent presenters, and I came home with a suitcase full of books. Somehow I didn’t get around to reading his book until a few months ago. It’s a must read.

There are many reasons to adopt a vegan lifestyle. For me, it was a combination of health, environment, and compassion for animals. And although my initial reason for eating a RAW vegan diet was for the nutritional value, it has become more and more apparent to me that eating a high raw diet also results in more clarity and a greater ability to break away from conditioned beliefs and connect more closely with the natural order.

In The World Peace Diet, Will Tuttle provides a uniquely compelling perspective of the omnivorous diet, suggesting that world peace is not possible as long as we continue to enslave sentient beings and treat them as commodities. He provides the historical background for how we have been conditioned to believe that eating animals is normal and beneficial, and how we have been desensitized to the cruelty and suffering these magnificent creatures endure.

“Animals of the world exist for their own reasons. They were not made for humans
any more than blacks were made for whites or women for men.” – Alice Walker

Whether you are ready to eliminate animal products from your diet or not, I believe this book is one that everyone should read, if only to truly understand how food is our most intimate connection both with the natural order and with our cultural heritage. The World Peace Diet presents the outlines of a more empowering understanding of our world, based on comprehending the far-reaching implications of our food choices.


The opposite of love is not hate but indifference. When we lift the veil and see the suffering our food habits cause, when we connect with the reality of the defenseless beings who suffer so terribly because of our food choices, our indifference dissolves and compassion—its opposite—arises, urging us to act on behalf of those who are suffering.

~ From Will Tuttle’s blog, Veginspriation

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Marilyn Chiarello, founder of A Taste of Light, is a certified raw vegan chef, educator and health coach. She offers a variety of services including health coaching, classes, dinner parties,consultations and presentations. For more information, visit aTasteofLight.com or contact her directly – Marilyn@aTasteofLight.com or 516-671-7037.

If you would like to receive future articles about health and the environment, along with recipes, event updates and more, please visit http://atasteoflight.com/. The sign-up box is in the right sidebar.


Filed under: Environment,Peace,Raw Food,Vegan — Marilyn @ 9:45 pm

June 23, 2010

Chia Seeds: Nature’s Powerhouse

Chia Seeds, Nature’s Little Powerhouse

We all remember the Chia Pet, and how you simply mixed the seeds with some water and they became like glue and could be spread on a terra cotta form to grow green “hair.” Well, a healthy use for these tiny seeds is to eat them and reap the benefits as our predecessors did in ancient times.

Chia seeds have been around for thousands of years. Domesticated by ancient Mexicans in 2600 B.C., the little seed was used as a staple food by indigenous people in the Southwest US and Mexico. These tiny seeds were known as the “running food,” and used for subsistence by Aztec warriors during conquests. Banned by the Spaniards because of their role in pagan religious ceremonies, the chia seed almost disappeared. Today the tiny seed is emerging once again as the superfood it truly is.

Chia seeds are packed with nutrients. They are an excellent plant-based source of Omega 3 essential fatty acids – more than flax seeds. Low in calories, high in fiber, they contain uniquely balanced ratios of macronutrients – better than most grains, seeds and other foods. They are high in protein, calcium, phosphorus, manganese and antioxidants. Plus, they are gluten-free, and there is no evidence of any other allergic responses to chia.

The health benefits of chia seeds are numerous:

  • They provide super-energizing power due to a blend of protein, essential fats, fiber, complex carbohydrates and antioxidants.
  • They are excellent for helping to maintain healthy body weight: the high quality protein in the seed help build lean muscle; they reduce cravings for sweets and junk; and they help curb the appetite by stabilizing blood sugar, making chia good for hypoglycemia and diabetes.
  • Their high omega 3 content helps to: improve cardiovascular health; improve mental focus and concentration; and boost brain power.
  • Chia’s soluble fiber massively retains water to keep you well-hydrated
  • Chia supports healthy elimination and detoxification.
  • Chia’s minerals (calcium, phosphorus and manganese) support bone health.

There are many ways you can enjoy chia seeds daily. One delicious way is to make a chia seed pudding. I will be posting my favorite chocolate chia pudding recipe next week.

You can also make chia gel and keep it on hand to take as is or to add to food. It is good practice to take at least 1 tablespoon of gel every day. Or add the chia gel to food. It will displace calories and fat without diluting the flavor. To prepare chia gel, start with 2 cups of water in a small bowl. Slowly add 1/3 cup chia seeds while mixing with a whisk. Be sure to add the seeds to the water while stirring, or the seeds will clump together. Wait a few minutes and mix again. The seeds will grow in size and become quite gelatinous. You may store chia gel in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. Unlike flax seed, the oil in chia seeds is very stable and does not turn rancid readily.

Another way to enjoy chia is to add it to smoothies. Start with 12-16 ounces of water in blender. Grind 1-2 tablespoons of chia seeds in a coffee grinder. Turn blender on low speed and slowly add ground chia. Add the other smoothie ingredients and blend. Let the smoothie sit for 5 minutes before drinking.

Chia seeds can be found in some health food stores or online. I have seen a wide range of prices. I buy organic chia seeds in bulk from a wholesale distributor for about $7 per pound. They are worth their weight in gold!

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Marilyn Chiarello, founder of A Taste of Light, is a certified raw vegan chef, educator and health coach. She offers a variety of services including health coaching, classes, dinner parties, consultations and presentations. For more information, visit aTasteofLight.com or contact her directly – Marilyn@aTasteofLight.com or 516-671-7037.

If you would like to receive future articles about health and the environment, along with recipes, event updates and more, please visit http://atasteoflight.com/. The sign-up box is in the right sidebar.


Filed under: Health,Nutrition,Raw Food — admin @ 3:11 pm

June 22, 2010

Basil Pesto, Vegan Style

I love basil. I remember as a child there was always basilico (Italian for basil) growing in our backyard, and I loved picking leaves for my mother to use in tomato sauce. The smell of fresh basil reminds me of those days.

If you are growing basil and want to harvest from the same plant throughout the summer, keep pinching off the flowers so the plant doesn’t go to seed. Also, be sure to pick the leaves before they get too large – they are much more tender when they are smaller. At the local farm, basil is pulled root and all and bundled that way. When I take it home, I place it in a vase with water and place the vase of basil in the refrigerator. It keeps fresh for several days that way. Cut basil (without roots) may be stored in the refrigerator wrapped in a slightly damp paper towel.

Basil has many health benefits, and its most abundant nutrients are similar to many other leafy greens – very high in Vitamin K, and moderately high in iron, calcium, vitamin A, manganese, magnesium, vitamin C and potassium. There is also a wide array of additional nutrients that are not often cited, and are seldom (if ever) present in processed foods even when “enriched.” It seems that no matter how much we strip nature’s bounty of its nutrients, we can’t seem to put them all back in. So why not eat the food straight from the source?

Research has shown unique health-protection properties of basil due to its flavonoids and volatile oils. The flavonoids in basil offer protection at the cellular level, protecting our cell structures and chromosomes from radiation and oxygen-based damage. Basil also has anti-bacterial properties due to its volatile oils. One component of basil’s volatile oils, eugenol, is being studied extensively because of its anti-inflammatory effects. Got arthritis? Eat basil!

To retain all the nutritional value in basil, it is best eaten raw. If you do add it to a cooked dish, then it is best to add at the very end so it will retain its maximum essence and flavor.

Here is a recipe for a vegan basil pesto that I adapted from a recipe I found in The Raw Revolution Diet, by Cherie Soria.


1/2 cup chopped zucchini
1 cup fresh basil leaves, firmly packed
1 Tbs. flax seed oil (or extra virgin olive oil)
1 1/2 teaspoons nutritional yeast flakes
1 1/2 teaspoons light miso
1-2 cloves garlic
pinch of salt
1/4 cup walnuts

  1. Place the garlic in a food processor fitted with the S blade and process until finely ground, scraping down the sides.
  2. Add chopped zucchini and process until smooth.
  3. Add basil, oil, miso, nutritional yeast flakes, salt and pulse a few times to coarsely chop the basil.
  4. Add the walnuts and process until the desired consistency is achieved.

This pesto is delicious over spiralized zucchini pasta, as a filling for a rollup, in raw lasagna, or layered with fresh heirloom tomatoes over a bed of lettuce.

Enjoy!

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Marilyn Chiarello, founder of A Taste of Light, is a certified raw vegan chef, educator and health coach. She offers a variety of services including health coaching, classes, dinner parties, consultations and presentations. For more information, visit aTasteofLight.com or contact her directly – Marilyn@aTasteofLight.com or 516-671-7037.

If you would like to receive future articles about health and the environment, along with recipes, event updates and more, please visit http://atasteoflight.com/. The sign-up box is in the right sidebar.


Filed under: Nutrition,Raw Food,Recipes,Vegan — admin @ 12:35 pm

June 21, 2010

Welcome Summer!

YAY summer! Having been on a school calendar for most of my life (as a student and as a teacher), I always loved the start of summer and the freedom it brought. Now that I am free to make my own schedule, summer has new meaning – the abundance of fresh local produce.

One of my favorite ways to get fresh local produce is from my garden. I love going outside and picking the greens for my salad or smoothie minutes before I eat it. It can’t get any fresher than that… unless you get on all fours and chomp on the greens right off the plant!

If you don’t have much space for a garden, consider growing food in places you don’t usually consider. For example, the front lawn! I am seeing more and more front gardens with edibles interspersed among flowers. I have grown herbs and salad greens in flower beds. Most herbs tolerate dry soil well, and most lettuce varieties don’t do well in too much heat, so if they are shaded part of the day, that would help. Dark leafy greens like kale and collard greens can tolerate frost and keep producing through November, and sometimes even later. I have actually picked kale and collards from under a foot of snow and they were just fine! If you decide to start growing food in flower beds or digging up some lawn for that purpose, try to select herbs and greens that have similar water and sunlight needs.

Don’t have enough sun except where there’s no soil? I have that problem, so last year I bought a few Earthboxes and placed them in the sunniest location on my property – the driveway! Growing veggies in containers is really easy, so find a sunny spot to put a large container and enjoy the harvest for months. Herbs are especially easy to grow in containers, but do consider larger plants like tomatoes, peppers, and greens. I didn’t think the container would be appropriate for zucchini, though, so I dug up a bed of irises and daylilies and planted them there. If you have had success growing veggies in containers, please share your methods.

Have an abundance of basil growing in your garden? Come back tomorrow for a recipe for vegan (no cheese) basil pesto.

If you can’t grow all the produce you need (I truly wish I could) then local farmer’s markets are the next best thing. Public interest in having access to fresh whole foods is growing and this is reflected in the explosive growth of farmers’ markets. Since 1994, the number of farmers’ markets in the US has more than tripled! One of my favorite Saturday activities when I’m in Vermont is to go to the Brattleboro Farmers’ Market. It is truly a community event with local musicians providing entertainment as you connect with local farmers and artisans and enjoy a delicious meal from one of the many vendors.

If you don’t know where there is a market near you, visit http://apps.ams.usda.gov/FarmersMarkets/. I found more than 100 farmers’ markets in close to home here in NYC and Long Island, including 11 in Nassau County, 11 in Suffolk, 10 in Queens, 37 in Brooklyn, 26 in the Bronx, 39 in Manhattan.

So whether you are planting your own garden or shopping at the Farmer’s Market, there is an abundance of fresh local produce to enjoy this summer.

Happy Summer Solstice!

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Marilyn Chiarello, founder of A Taste of Light, is a certified raw vegan chef,educator and health coach. She offers a variety of services including health coaching, classes, dinner parties, consultations and presentations. For more information, visit aTasteofLight.com or contact her directly – Marilyn@aTasteofLight.com or 516-671-7037.

If you would like to receive future articles about health and the environment, along with recipes, event updates and more, please visit http://atasteoflight.com/. The sign-up box is in the right sidebar.


Filed under: Garden — admin @ 10:27 pm