Iron deficiency is the most common mineral deficiency worldwide. Iron is needed to deliver oxygen throughout your body. If your blood is iron deficient, then you aren’t creating enough red blood cells to transport oxygen and your body will be fatigued. Exhaustion, in turn, will affect your brain function and your immune system’s ability to fight off infection.
Iron deficiency is a common problem for females during their childbearing years, in fact, a 2011 Canadian study showed 9% of women of this group were experiencing iron-deficiency anemia. Also at risk are: pregnant women who need twice as much iron, young children because they require extra iron for growth and development, underweight teens, women who experience heavy periods, patients on kidney dialysis and people who work-out a lot.
Symptoms of iron deficiency include lethargy, irritability, lack of appetite, difficulty concentrating, being easily out of breath, hair loss, and weakened immune systems leading to easily catching colds and getting sick.
Vegetarians and vegans need higher than average daily iron intake, because there are two differing types of iron – heme and non-heme (illustrated below). Heme iron is primarily animal based and is more easily digestible by the body than non-heme iron.
To help the body increase absorption of non-heme iron, it is a good idea to get ample Vitamin C. Many fruits and veggies besides oranges are high in Vitamin C including strawberries, pineapples, guava, papaya, kiwi, bell peppers, broccoli and brussels sprouts. Fermented foods, such as sauerkraut, kombucha, yogurts, and kimchi contain lactic acid and will enhance non-heme iron absorption. Another good tip is to cook with cast iron skillets – they will actually leach iron into your food!
At the same time, it is best to avoid caffeinated beverages such as coffee, black and green teas, pop, beer and wine because these bevvies will decrease your body’s ability to absorb iron.
If you are feeling lethargic and are experiencing other symptoms, simple blood tests from you doctor will show whether you’re iron levels are lacking. Adding iron to your diet with meal planning is helpful in maintaining iron levels, but sometimes supplements will be required to get your iron levels back on track.
Ages ago in Toronto, my former roommate Mariana introduced me to the Moosewood Cookbook. That was almost a decade ago, and now it’s finally part of my own collection. It’s vegetarian and world famous – dating back to 1973. In fact, The New York Times named Moosewood a top 10 bestselling cookbook of all time!
was is an Ithaca, New York restaurant and many of the recipes came straight from their menu, which must have been truly ahead of it’s time. Consider how niche vegetarianism was in the early ’70s compared to today. On the other hand, as I learned in Anthropology of Gastronomy class, vegetarianism has trended on and off since ancient Greece and India!
I am considering pulling a Julia & Julia with this cookbook – devoting myself to trying every single recipe and blogging about it. So far, I made the Spicy Tomato Soup, but couldn’t resist modifying the recipe to include half a cup of parboiled rice, in homage to the crappy Campbell’s Condensed Tomato Rice Soup I liked as a kid!
Moosewood’s Spicy Tomato Soup
- Olive Oil, 1 tbsp
- Onions, raw, 1 cup, chopped
- Garlic, 3 cloves
- Salt, 1 tsp
- Dill weed, dried, 1 tsp
- Pepper, black, 1 tsp
- Red Ripe Tomatoes, 800 grams
- Water, tap, 2 cup (8 fl oz)
- Honey, 1 tbsp
- Sour Cream, reduced fat, 1 tbsp
- Red Ripe Tomatoes, .5 cup, chopped or sliced
Saute onion and garlic in oil with spices. Add tomato and honey, simmer over low heat 20 – 30 min.
5 minutes before serving, whisk in sour cream, fresh tomatoes and top with minced herbs (like parsley or basil).
To be honest, I didn’t see in the ingredient list what was so ‘spicy’ about this soup, so besides the half cup of rice, I added two chili peppers and a bit of cayenne. Because the can of tomatoes was labelled with no added salt, I did add a pinch while sauteing the onions, (but beware – generally canned foods have high sodium content.)
I also used homemade mushroom stock instead of tap water. Why not fortify your soup with extra nutrients? Homemade stock also ensures a richer taste to soups, stews, or sauces, so every once in a while I make a huge pot of stock and store it in litre containers in my deep freeze.
The tablespoon of honey was delish in this soup and cut the tomato acidity nicely. The rice and chunky slices of onions gave this soup a hearty feel and texture, the aroma was lovely, the colour was pleasing, and “delicious as usual” was how my squeeze described this soup. Hehe!
Naturally, this soup left Campbell’s Tomato and Rice in the DUST!
Whenever I think of crumble, I get Adele stuck in my head, “Let the skyfall… apple crumble…”
These canning jar crumbles were so incredibly easy and turned out positively delish! I’ll be sure to bring one along with me to school as a tasty sidekick to one of my healthy mason jar salads!
After coming across a bake cakes in a jar video, I decided to try a somewhat healthier version substituting some of the white flour with whole wheat, and the white sugar for brown. Then for the heck of it, because that’s how I roll, I threw in some oats. This switched my experiment from a cake to a crumble,
Of course, mason jars are built to withstand up to 250 °F, and they are meant for contact water baths, not dry heat like in an oven, so there is a possibility of glass cracking. In fact, canning jar manufacturers do not recommend using dry heat methods, saying they were not intended or approved for that purpose. Baking in mason jars is a fun trend right now, but please use caution and check carefully for cracks before consuming – shards of glass are not something you want in your fabulous desserts!
Here’s all you need:
4 1/2 pint jars
oven safe dish
dried beans (to stop jars from sliding)
2.5 cups of fruit
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup rolled oats
1/2 tsp salt
4 tbsp unsalted butter
Preheat oven to 350 °F.
Divide the fruit up between your jars, (I only had 1 pint jars so filled them only half full).
Combine the flours, sugar, oats, and salt in a bowl, then divide evenly between jars.
Lay a clump of butter on top, and place jars in an oven dish, spreading dried beans around jars to hold them in place. Bake for 1 hour, cool completely.
They can be stored in the fridge for up to one week.
Nutrients Per Serving
After receiving a yogurt maker for Christmas from my darling parents, we’ve all been enjoying some very consistent batches of fresh and creamy yogurt each morning. Sure, I had tried making yogurt before by leaving the oven light on and using a thermos wrapped in a towel, but my new Deni 5600 makes the process much more enjoyable!
There are several benefits to consuming home made yogurt; it is definitely higher quality than store-bought yogurt, and we’re joyfully avoiding all of those processed additives like preservatives, stabilizers, fillers and sweeteners.
Cell repairing proteins and other nutrients are found in yogurt, like calcium, vitamin B-2, vitamin B-12, potassium, and magnesium.
Probiotics are the helpful bacteria that are naturally found in yogurt and these bacteria have been shown to help boost the immune system and promote a healthy digestive tract. Yogurt actually helps both constipation and diarrhea, and many lactose intolerant people can enjoy it without problems. Yogurt with active bacteria discourages Candida and yeast infections, and due to a high calcium content, yogurt is recommended to help prevent osteoporosis (Caucasian and Asian women are in the highest risk groups). Yogurt makes you feel fuller, so it can be an natural and healthy way to watch the line too!
Here’s how easy it can be to make using a yogurt maker!
The first step is to bring 1 litre of 2% milk to a slow boil. Slowly bring it to a boil is of utmost importance in order to achieve the best texture and consistency. The milk will begin to foam up as it reaches a boil, immediately remove from heat and let it stand until it reaches room temperature.
Next, it is a good idea to put the milk into a pouring container, and then add a half a cup of yogurt, making sure the yogurt you use has active bacteria in it, preferably organic. I used Astro Balkan yogurt. Mix it well with the room temperature milk.
The third and final step is to pour the mixture into yogurt maker’s sterile glass containers (each holds 2/3rds a cup), and place inside.
So far I’ve been setting the timer for 10 hours, which is very handy for overnight.
After 10 hours the yogurt came out thick and creamy. It should be refrigerated for a few hours before enjoying. I crumbled some home made granola over it and threw in some big red strawberries before realizing that I just GMO bombed my wonderful Slow Food breakfast!
Julia Mirabella has a new recipe book out called Mason Jar Salads which is definitely worth the buy; it inspired me to grab a mason jar and create one on the spot using my fridge ingredients.
According to the book, if you pack these salads in the right order and tightly into the mason jar, you can refrigerate five on a Sunday and the last one will still be fresh by Friday! Great idea, and so healthy. This salad left me filled right up for the day, and I was pleasantly amazed at how well beans, green leaves, and grains can compliment each other in a salad.
Black beans were soaking in apple cider honey vinaigrette at the bottom of the jar, and from there you can see some finely chopped jalapeno above carrots and tomato. I mixed a few craisins in with the spinach and topped the jar with some of my kitchen-grown radish sprouts, and a bunch of feta cheese mmmmm. I had to restrain myself from throwing sunflower seeds and chopped apples in — you just have to stop somewhere!
The recipes in the book are really delish looking. My grocery list is ready to go, so next week I’ll be flashing around some more uberhealthy lunches hehe.
So, hey, if even my superfit nutrition teacher bothered to scribble the book’s title down after seeing it, you know it’s gotta be good!
These homemade Power Bars resemble cookies at first glance, but they were baked in a muffin tin, and there were no flours (gluten) or baking powder used.
Packed full of energy, these 12 babies (I ate one before I took the picture!) contain 2/3rds a cup of ground flax seeds which are loaded with fibre, vitamin B6, calcium, iron, potassium, and magnesium. B6 is needed for brain development/function, and helps our bodies produce serotonin and norepinephrine – these influence mood. So not only do these bars taste great, but they put you in a better mood!
Since I just happened to have a batch of freshly made Vitamix peanut butter at hand, I modified the ingredient list out of Camilla V. Saulsbury’s book Power Hungry by replacing the almond butter with peanut butter. Other than the peanut butter and flax, the ingredients include dried cherries, almond milk, and maple syrup.
After the success of these power bars, I will gladly try out more of the recipes from Power Hungry!
Today in school we focused on feeding patients with Celiac disease, and their inability to eat gluten. People with Celiac disease are not simply ‘gluten avoiders’ which is a growing trend. This autoimmune disorder can occur to genetically predisposed people of all ages, including infants.
The small intestine walls actually become damaged by gluten, and since most of the nutrients are absorbed in the first ten inches of the small intestine, Celiac patients are at risk of vitamin deficiency, weight loss, fatigue, and anemia.
The pizza dough resembled wet sand and was crumbly to work with. After we baked it, it seemed drier and heavier than regular pizza crust. As our lab chef pointed out, it’s the flavours of what’s on top of the crust that people notice the most when they bite into a pizza!
I have read Wheat Belly, by William Davis, and am all for eating less wheat, but I now understand there is a big difference between the so-called ‘wheat avoiders’ and people who suffer from Celiac. I wonder(bread) if people had Celiac Disease 1,000 years ago, back before wheat was GMO’d to death.
Fortunately for us, foods of other cultures are readily available these days, so why not try out a Mediterranean Diet?
The main differences between the Mediterranean Diet and what the Canada Food Guide recommends are:
-Having a glass of wine with dinner
-Using olive oil as the main source of fat
-Less meat servings
Animal products are consumed a few times per week, with red meat as an exception – only a few times per month. The main diet focus is plenty of fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts, with wine in moderation during meals, and lunch being the main meal of the day. (See the diet pyramid below.)
According to the New England Journal of Medicine’s 2008 study – following a Mediterranean diet was just as effective for weight loss as a low-carb diet. As a result, longer life expectancy, less chance of heart disease, protection against type 2 diabetes, with lowering of blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
So tonight for dinner – veggie lasagne and a bottle o’ red!
We are brewing our first batch of kombucha at the moment. A year ago I attempted to brew kombucha, but didn’t have the right conditions and had to chuck it all out.
Since then I picked up a few huge jars because I’d hoped to try again some day. There was a starter cultures listed on Kijiji for $5, so I gave it another shot, plus did some more research.
This is a sterilized four litre jar, and we used Darjeeling tea, a cup of sugar, and two small scobys (starter cultures). After eight days you can already see some carbonation bubbling to the top. We capped it with a coffee filter and rubber band; the fruit flies came out of nowhere!
Kombucha is fermented – a food preservation method that actually increases the nutrient value. It’s bubbly like pop, yet good for you, with alcohol content around a mere .5%!