I published this in May, but since I have several new followers, I am republishing. I am also adding a few new items. *Please check with your doctor before incorporating any of the supplements/powders/etc. Some may interfere with medications.
I still drink my smoothie almost everyday. I include spinach, half of an organic apple, half of a banana, a spoonful of flax seeds, a spoonful of spirulina, a few Gogi berries, some frozen blueberries, and a few chunks of frozen pineapple. I then add enough almond milk to mix. Lately, I have also added Cordyceps mushroom powder. I HATE mushrooms, but I can’t taste them when mixed with the other fruits and vegetables. It has been widely researched for its effects on stamina, especially during exercise. I started using it based on some research that it has anti tumor effects, especially with Leukemia and other blood cancers.
If you were to compare my pantry and refrigerator contents to what they contained a year ago, there would be a vast difference. Honestly, many of the items that are in there now were unknown to me back then. Once I was released from the hospital after my stem cell transplant, I decided to do something that would help me and that I could control. I was drawn to the many food documentaries on Netflix and Amazon, and I couldn’t argue that vegetables and fruits should be the basis of a healthy diet. After that, I started to seek out those well-known doctors that were in the documentaries and read books written by them or books having a similar stance on nutrition. As a counselor and a researcher, I dove head first into an abundance of information related to how food could heal, or in other words, as quoted by Hippocrates, I “Let food be thy medicine”. And in doing so, I learned about a whole new set of food, spices, and supplements that I had never tried.
My son and I started our journey with healthy smoothies and over time, we have added several items to them to make them even more healthy. Now, I must say, my smoothies are really ugly, but they taste so yummy and are so healthy. I kept reading about the superfood nutrient, SPIRULINA, and decided to give it a try. Spirulina is a blue-green sea algae powder. *Warning- It smells TERRIBLE and will get everywhere if you are not careful. Luckily, it comes with a scoop and you only need a small amount to reap the rewards of its power. And once you add your other fruit and vegetables, you will not even remember that it is in there. The benefits are more than worth the smelliness. According to Healthline.com and several other sources:
A single tablespoon (7 grams) of dried spirulina powder contains (2):
- Protein: 4 grams.
- Vitamin B1 (Thiamin): 11% of the RDA.
- Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin): 15% of the RDA.
- Vitamin B3 (Niacin): 4% of the RDA.
- Copper: 21% of the RDA.
- Iron: 11% of the RDA.
- It also contains decent amounts of magnesium, potassium and manganese, and small amounts of almost every other nutrient that we need. This is coming with only 20 calories, and 1.7 grams of digestible carbohydrate.
Towards the beginning of this journey, I had a good friend come over to help me get started. She is very knowledgeable about health and nutrition. She guided me to a mixture of spices, commonly referred to as the “immunity spice”. Several sources, including “The Whole Journey”, share several benefits of this mixture of spices that work even better when combined. It is also recommended that you heat up the spice mix with a little ghee or butter before adding to your food. This amps of the immunity power even more. Here is the mixture recipe and benefits given by, “The Whole Journey”:
1: Turmeric has an immune-modulating effect, because it is detoxifying and supportive to the liver. It will help you scavenge free radicals and toxins that could be bringing you down.
2: Freshly ground black pepper increases vigor by reaching deeper tissues (and when combined with turmeric, absorption of turmeric is increased three-fold). Black pepper is heating to the body to help deepen the affect of the rest of the spices.
3: Cumin enhances digestion and increases the bioavailability of the other five spices. Cumin stimulates the pancreas to produce more pancreatic enzymes improving digestion tremendously.
4: Coriander is exceptionally high in vitamin C, a natural antibacterial and detox spice that chelates metals, aids in liver function, and helps improve digestion. Coriander works better when combined with fennel.
5: Fennel stimulates the secretion of digestive and gastric juices, while reducing inflammation of the stomach and intestines, and facilitating proper absorption of nutrients from the food. It is your best spice to alleviate constipation. (I buy the seeds and grind them up in Nutribullet.)
6: Ginger contains natural anti-inflammatory properties, helps kill bad bacteria and viruses, combats cold and fever, and inhibits the production of cytokines (which cause pain and swelling).
7: Cinnamon is rich in plant compounds that inhibit bacterial growth and stabilize blood sugar. You’ll want to make sure you’re using real cinnamon, which is called Ceylon cinnamon. This is the true cinnamon spice that has a profound healing effect for diabetics and those struggling with weight and cholesterol issues. It’s native to Sri Lanka and comes from the plant Cinnamomum Zeylanicum.
I mix the spices and keep them in a airtight container for later use. I actually enjoy the taste and I readily add it to my soups, stews, and sautés.
Turmeric is the main ingredient in the immunity spice and is often referred to in disease fighting food studies. Turmeric is a strong spice, but it easily blends in if used correctly. I go one step further though and drink a turmeric tea every day. Now, I’m not going to lie. It is strong, but not altogether terrible. And its one of those things where, why not? If it works, great, if not, no harm. I would say, start with smaller amounts and build up. Here is the recipe that I use:
- 2 cups nut, soy, or coconut milk of choice
- 1 tsp turmeric
- ½ tsp cinnamon powder
- pinch of ground black pepper
- tiny piece of fresh, peeled ginger root or ¼ tsp ginger powder
- pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)
- 1 tsp raw honey or maple syrup or to taste
Heat up milk, mix other ingredients together and add to milk and stir. I usually don’t use the cayenne.
I just happened to come across Soy Curls on Amazon and after reading the reviews, decided to give them a try. I usually only do these soy products, soy curls, tofu, tempeh, a couple of times a week, mainly to add as a base. These come in a bag and are dried. When you open bag, it is suggested you store in refrigerator. Take out the amount you need and soak in water for about 10 minutes. Then drain and add to your favorite stir fry or other dish. I usually add when I am doing a vegetable and quinoa mix. The great thing about soy curls and other soy products is that they absorb spices and liquids very well. In other words, they take on the taste of whatever meal you are cooking. I tend to use a lot of spices and flavors so I like that the soy curls add to that dish, whether it be Thai, Mexican, or some garlicky mix. If you’re wondering, they only have 1 ingredient, Soy. And yes, they taste like chicken 🙂
Hemp Hearts are really new to me. I clump them with my chia and flax seeds and add them to my smoothies occasionally. No, they are not hearts, but are the edible part of a hemp seed. The great part about hemp hearts is that they are a complete protein. And according to, LiveStrong, “hemp hearts also contain the essential fatty acids omega 6 and omega 3. In addition, hemp hearts are a good source of both soluble and insoluble fiber. They are also packed with vitamins and minerals, including vitamins A, B1, B2, D and E, as well as the minerals calcium and iron. Hemp seeds contain 25 percent protein, 35 percent fatty acids and 27 percent carbohydrates (primarily fiber).” As I said, they are a relatively new addition to my diet and I am looking for different ways to use them. So, I’m sure there will be more to come on this seed.
Rice is the basis for many of our dinners and we love them all. It is so versatile and can be used in an abundance of different genres of eating. But I have to admit, the first time I looked down in the pot and saw a heaping helping of black rice, I was skeptical. Black rice, also known as “forbidden rice”, due to it origins of only being for royalty in its beginnings, is a must have for those wanting to amp up their nutrition. And I promise, it tastes just as great as it “cousins”. It also has some wonderful benefits. Black rice is extremely high in antioxidants. According to Food.Ndtv, “The deep black or the purple hue of the black rice is a marker of its high antioxidant properties. Similar to blackberries and blueberries, that appear deeper in color because of their high content of anti-oxidants. The outermost layer of the grain (the bran and the hull), contains immense amounts of the antioxidant-anthocyanin. In fact the amount of anthocyanin contained in black rice is higher than any other grain, including brown rice, red rice, red quinoa, or other colored whole grain varieties. Anthocyanin can help prevent cardiovascular disease, restricting free radical movements which can cause variety of diseases like diabetes and even cancer. It can also help improve brain function and reduce inflammation.” Its as simple to make as its counterparts, so the next time you are using rice in your cooking, consider using the ‘forbidden rice’.
I promise you, I had never in my life heard of nutritional yeast until I started doing my research on plant-based lifestyles. You would think it was for bread, but its really used mainly in the place of cheese in recipes. It is a deactivated yeast that is fortified with B-12, which is one of the few nutrients that it is hard to get enough of if you are doing a vegan/vegetarian/plant-based diet. I use it in place of cheese in lasagna, mac n cheese, pizza, and vegetable and pasta casseroles. Looking at the bottle, you could never imagine all its uses, but my son and I have come to love it. And believe me, my son (Mr. Picky) is very skeptical of every dish. When I first made mac n cheese with nutritional yeast, I thought he would balk. Instead, he asked for seconds!!! There are many ways to use this product and you can buy a small bottle to start with and experiment. After that, you can buy in bulk which is cheaper.
Now this is a weird one. I, along with most others who follow a plant-based lifestyle, use a lot of chickpeas. Whether cooking them from the bag or opening from a can, the ‘liquid’ left behind has been found to be useful in many ways. When I open a can of chickpeas to make a hummus or my tuna substitute salad, or many other dishes, I drain the liquid into this container to keep for later use, mainly as an egg substitute. Lately, some very well known chefs have found that it makes a wonderful meringue. There are some great recipes you can find to use this liquid. And especially if you have cut down or cut out eggs, you can have a substitute when needed.
I don’t know if you have ever seen a real jackfruit, but they are kind of ugly and really large. Some grow to over 50 pounds, which is probably why we don’t see much jackfruit in the produce section of our grocery store. The fruit is very useful though. First, its large so it can feed a lot of people, and second, its very nutritional. It does have many parts that you can’t eat though, so its usually found in cans or in ready to eat variety in most health food stores. The unique quality of jackfruit is that it shreds apart, much like pork, so it is often used as a substitute for BBQ pork. The first time I tried it, I bought the ready to eat BBQ version. It was good, but very sweet, as they had used a sweet BBQ sauce. Now, I have it with a the jackfruit (canned) and a more smoky or spice BBQ sauce to offset the sweetness, unless that is what you like. Of course, I can tell the difference and know it is not pork, but it does a really good job of substituting and is really tasty.
If you have ever done the Whole 30 diet, you have probably heard of ghee. Ghee is basically just clarified butter, in other words, butter without the milk sugar lactose or milk protein, casein. Both are full fat foods, so use should be sparingly. I, personally, use ghee due to my history of cancer and some studies which link the use of casein to cancer growth. I will probably never know if that’s true, but again, if it doesn’t hurt, why not? Again, I use sparingly.
As you can see, I have incorporated some new things into my diet and I ‘tested’ them for you. I have a whole other set of foods I will talk about later. Feel free to ask any questions.