healthy eating

Keep It Simple, Sunshine!

"Simplicity is gourmet." This is a statement that my dear friend Hilary Boynton said one day that I simply can't get out of my head. Hilary is the author of the "Heal your gut" cookbook and she has a penchant for meeting people, especially folks she calls our "elders," to pick their brains and learn from their wisdom, and, particularly, their culinary wisdom. One day, she connected with a French woman who was over 90 years old and the words "simplicity is gourmet" were uttered. They resonated with Hilary and they resonate with me. 

Far too often we over-think things. We get caught up in the weeds of life. We stretch ourselves beyond our limits. We are exhausted trying to meet the demands of life, and the demands of those around us. How can we keep our sanity amidst the push and pull of the daily grind?

I suggest that the answer may lie in the wise words of the nonagenarian. And, specifically, in the first word of her coined phrase: "Simplicity."

To be honest, I went 'round and 'round as I tried to figure out what to post today. I was definitely over-thinking it and my anxiety rose as the new month commenced and I started to feel pressure. What would I tell my friends about health and wellness? I started to get tied up in knots, which was leading to some unhappiness and stress. But then I remembered the old moniker: K.I.S.S. Keep it simple, Sunshine! (Okay, I've taken some liberties with the last word of the phrase, but I find it's friendlier that way!)

A light bulb went off as a I realized that the best tips are the ones that are simply bringing me joy and helping me manage my oh-so-crazy life. And I'm going to use the acronym to help you (and me) keep it all straight.

Keep it simple - (See what I did there?) Just focus on food, real food, I mean. There are so many trends out there for getting that perfect "beach body." Fuggedaboutit! If you have a body you can get on a beach. Scales are for fish...and no body's perfect, literally! Simply stay the course by focusing on eating food that nourishes and not just filling up with whatever junk food (there's a reason they call it that) that is handy or appealing in the moment. And if you "slip up," don't beat yourself up. That only adds insult to injury, just keep pressing on. Go to farmers markets, Trader Joe's; connect with friends who care about where their food comes from. Fuel your body to the best of your ability (financially and otherwise) and let the other stuff go. A singular focus can help you achieve your health goals. 

Initiate - Consider well how you choose to start your day. Do you immediately get on your phone? Read the paper? Check emails? Maybe you are roused by a little one who wet the bed. Or the alarm reminds you that you have an early meeting. Not everything is under your control, but to the extent it is possible, make an effort to get some quiet, meditative time without the newspaper, without my computer. I take space, I make space to breathe. The world can wait. So let it do so. 

Sleep - Scientists are finding more and more that sleep plays a critical role in our wellness. It's the time our brains "take out the trash" of all of the stressors and pressures of the day! So do not shortchange yourself on this piece. (I am talking to myself, too! This has often been a weak spot for me.) If you have a lot of work to do, rather than working on it late at night, stop at a decent hour and pick it back up again in the morning. It will still be there, and you can face it with a fresh(er) perspective, when you'll be more focused and less likely to make mistakes, too! (For more on this, check out one of my early podcast episodes with Sandra Van Gilder, "The myths and truths of sleep and exercise.")

Sunshine - I am convinced of the benefits of early morning light. It helps set the tone for the day and gets your circadian rhythm in proper sync. So I combine "Initiate" and "Sunshine." That is, I get outside as early as possible to walk my dog. I don't take my phone, so that my mind and heart can be free to sing, pray, absorb what's going on around me, and just be present. 

 Me and Summer, post-walk this morning. (And me w/o makeup too---another way to keep life simple!)

Me and Summer, post-walk this morning. (And me w/o makeup too---another way to keep life simple!)

So, that's it! In an effort to K.I.S.S. this post, I am stopping right here. I believe if we apply these simple hacks to our lives, we'll have a happy, healthy summer (and autumn, winter, and spring, too)! 

***

Hilda Labrada Gore is a podcast professional who helps holistic health practitioners launch their own shows! She is also the host and producer of the Wise Traditions podcast, sponsored by the Weston A. Price Foundation for wise traditions in food, farming, and the healing arts. She is an integrative nutrition health coach, a fitness professional, and the DC Metro Regional Director for Body & Soul Fitness. She lives in D.C. with her husband, Mitch, their children, and their cat and dog.

We MUST stop burying our children!

We MUST stop burying our children!

I've observed this heartbreaking trend, as well. In the past six months, four of my friends have lost boys to suicide. They were all in their twenties and struggling with depression. One of the moms likened it to swimming in the ocean. She said her son would be doing fine, until the undertow would catch him and drag him under.

How to navigate food (and life) transitions

How to navigate food (and life) transitions

“How do you get your family to accept a real food diet when all they want are chicken nuggets?” “My kid is a picky eater. He eats cereal three times a day. What do I do?” “I want to eat ‘healthy’ but I crave a sugary snack every afternoon (and evening, if I’m honest)!”

The struggle is real! You are now convinced of the basics: that eating a healthy diet means eating more real, whole foods, and less of the food-like processed stuff that comes in packages! Bravo! But how do you go from the head to the heart (or should I say to the mouth)? 

How to have a "healthy-ish" holiday season

How to have a "healthy-ish" holiday season

So, no promises today. No “three tips for a tinsel-perfect holiday.” Nope. Instead, I am offering you some ideas on how to have a healthy-ish holiday season, with reasonable, actionable strategies for getting through December and early January intact, happy and healthy…for the most part.

Peru...at present

Peru...at present

In Quechua, there is no past. There is no future either. This concept took a while to sink in for me, but once it did, it gave me a better idea of how we should live...today.

Spark Notes for "Improving your health 101"

Spark Notes for "Improving your health 101"

Jodi Ledley had debilitating migraines. Once she learned to avoid MSG (and other excitotoxins like it), she found herself on the path to healing. For years, she's eaten only at home. There, she has been able to control the quality of the food and avoid the additives that caused the neurological disruption that triggered her migraines. 

Sticky tip: Chipotle is one of the few fast/casual places Jodi found where you can enjoy a meal that is MSG- and GMO-free! (By the way, I don’t have stock in that company, so I do not benefit from your eating there! But Jodi mentioned it, so I thought I'd pass the tip along.)

What's cooking in Zimbabwe?

I just returned from two wild and wonderful weeks in Zimbabwe. I was able to connect with wildlife, work out with friends, and get a glimpse of life on the amazing continent of Africa. Part of the trip was “business” (this is in quotes because Body & Soul fitness is my passion and leading exercise routines and speaking can hardly be considered work); the other part was pleasure—visiting game parks and animal sanctuaries.

As a health coach and Wise Traditions podcaster, I was naturally very curious about the dietary habits of the people of Zimbabwe. My time was spent primarily in Harare and its immediate environs, so I wasn’t able to look into all of the local diets and customs. However, I can tell you what I noticed while staying with friends and sharing meals together. They showed me, more than told me, about their food habits and what I witnessed warmed my heart.

-       Vegetable gardens

-       Backdoor chickens (yes, they call them “backdoor” not “backyard” chickens)

-       Eggs from said chickens for breakfast (w/ bacon as a side) or hard-boiled eggs for lunch

-       Hearty soups made with chicken stock and vegetables for dinner

-       Plentiful vegetables (from their own gardens) such as zucchini, squash, spinach

-       Home-brewed kombucha and fermented drinks (like kefir) available at farmers markets

-       Said-same farmers markets selling fresh organic (or at least local) foods several days a week all around Harare

It was clear that many Zimbabweans were intimately linked to the land. I asked my friends about it and they explained that in 2008 the country hit a devastating low point. The economy tanked. It was at that time that people of every socio-economic class began turning to their own devices for sustenance. They could not rely on produce being kept in stock at their local shops, since imports were down and farms were being overtaken by the government. They had to rely on themselves. This was the year many middle-class and upper middle-class families began planting vegetable gardens and keeping backdoor chickens.

Today, Zimbabwe is still struggling, going through yet another economic crisis. Their currency had devalued so much, every purchase required millions of Zim dollars. The government has issued bond notes recently to stabilize the situation, but cash of any kind is still in short supply. People must wait in long lines in the hopes of getting bond notes or American currency.

Despite the chaos, or maybe because of it, I saw wise traditions at play at virtually every turn. From the most modest residents selling produce by the side of the road, to the more privileged buying it or simply growing their own, it is clear that real food plays an important role in Zimbabwe. “Homemade” and “farm-fresh” are not buzzwords but more of a way of life here.

This is not to say that there are no big food corporations promoting their own products, threatening the real food movement. Fizzy drinks (sodas) are promoted all over the landscape. Billboards tout margarine and vegetable oils as “heart healthy.” Fast food restaurants are marketed as modern and hip.

And yet, the sight of those backdoor chickens, clucking and pecking in every home I visited, gave me hope that wise traditions may still win the day in Zim. Because real food is what's cooking in Zim today!

***

Hilda Labrada Gore is the producer and host of the Wise Traditions podcast found on iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play Music, iHeart Radio, tunein, YouTube and at westonaprice.org. She is the DC metro regional director for Body & Soul Fitness and a certified integrative nutrition health coach. She lives in DC with her husband and children, their cat, Mia, and their dog, Summer.

 

 

 

That moment when you invite yourself over to your farmer's for dinner....

So, yeah, I did that. I’ve been the customer of a farmer in Pennsylvania for over 10 years and it suddenly struck me that it was high time we met. Well, that’s only part of the truth. I have indeed been ordering food from his farm—amazing meat, the best eggs with the most orange yolks, cheeses that are textured and tasty, and MUCH more—for a long while, but what motivated me was that I got wind of the fact that a fellow customer had dined at Peter’s house and I was just plain jealous. On our private Facebook group, she talked about how they ate a lovely meal and sang songs afterwards and I was as green as moss. I wanted to do that, too! I was encouraged by our farm liaison to reach out to Peter to arrange for a visit, so I did. I called him and asked if my husband and I could join them for dinner. Then the game of phone tag began. My farmer, Peter, is Amish and the Amish live simple lives, eschewing technology for the most part, so the telephone at their place is off in a separate building. So I called and left a message, making my request. And then he called me back and left me a message. Then I called back and left his adult son, Samuel, a message and then Samuel called me back and left me a message. And so on.

Eventually we connected “live” and it was a study of the different cultures we live in, though we are only a few hours apart. I would make a comment like “We can’t wait to meet you!” and then…pause….pause…pause….pause “It will be fun,” one would reply. I was rushed and citified. They were calm and country. I knew the visit would rock my world.

When the day came, as we pulled up, we saw two little boys hand-cranking ice cream. Peter greeted us and explained that the boys were his grandsons and that they were making it special for us and that it takes 1000 cranks till it’s done. We were humbled and touched immediately.

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They took us to meet their cattle up on a nearby hill. Most of them were lying down. Samuel explained that when cows are content, they lie down. These certainly seemed to be at peace. We went to see the chickens. They were beautiful, clucking happily, pecking away at bugs and microbes and what not.

After the brief tour, they ushered us into their home. There, we were blown away. Peter’s wife, Sarah, presented us with a spread fit for royalty. Let me back up here and explain that earlier, in one of our phone tag messages, Peter said that Sarah wanted to know what we would like to eat. She could serve chicken, pork, beef, or fish. In reply, I left a message saying something like “We like everything!” Imagine my shock and surprise, then, when they set before us literally EVERYTHING! The meal included: peaches with cottage cheese, pork chops and sauerkraut, beef and potatoes, gravy, chicken and honey mustard sauce, peas and carrots, salad, pickles and cheese! And kombucha to drink. Oh, and rolls and butter. And, of course, the ice cream and apple pudding for dessert.

I couldn’t help but wonder if something was lost in the translation between my saying we liked everything and their thinking we wanted everything. I came to find out later, to my relief, that they often treat guests to multiple course meals like that. Regardless, we were moved by their gracious hospitality. Samuel had to leave the table (before dessert) to feed the animals. When he came back, he and his parents let me interview them (though they are generally private people--which is one reason I am not using their real names). So I pulled out my recording equipment and we got started. It was a halting interview, to be honest, since they were unaccustomed both with microphones and answering questions on the spot. But it still offered small glimpses of how they shifted to organic farming (the first in their community to do so), and the health and business struggles they’d faced over the years.

Afterwards, we did indeed end our evening with a song. I was so grateful for the life-giving service they do all of us with their work on the farm. It was wonderful to raise our voices as one. Food brought us together; sharing a meal and singing together solidified the bond. As we prepared to leave, they said, with concern in their voice, “You’ll be getting home around 9 p.m.!” We understood why they were worried when we found out that their day begins at 4:15 a.m. Our 9 p.m. was equivalent to their midnight!

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All told, we were on the farm for some 4-5 hours but that brief time gave me invaluable insight on the important work of the farmer, the timeless (and often thankless) work of managing the land and animals to provide for the life and health of countless others. Let me know in the comments below if you’ve ever met your farmer and what your experience was like. And also let me know if you’d like me to post the interview as a podcast sometime. It wasn’t a perfect recording, but it was a perfectly amazing evening.

***

Hilda Labrada Gore is a health coach and fitness professional. She is the DC chapter leader for the Weston A. Price Foundation and is the Wise Traditions podcast host. Wise Traditions can be found on YouTube, iTunes, Stitcher, iHeartRadio, Google Play Music and at westonaprice.org.

Surprises at the Wise Traditions conference (a/k/a you won't believe what happens next!)

I couldn’t resist using this clichéd click-bait subtitle because my experience at the conference was indeed just. like. that. It was one unexpected moment after another. You can watch an online health summit, the next wellness webinar or cooking tutorial on YouTube, but none of it compares to the actual experience of connecting LIVE with health experts and fellow foodies. The speakers get you thinking as you attend their presentations, and then you turn around and they join you for lunch! Between sessions, a fellow attendee points out a website that helps you find the dehydrator you were looking for. Your roommate tells you about her latest health hack. Each day you are empowered, encouraged, and energized. I hail from Washington, DC, a town better known for its political leanings than its alternative health tendencies. I was like a plant thirsty for some rain. I didn’t have to wait long before I was soaking it all in. Shortly after I arrived, I ran into speaker and gardener Celeste Longacre. (Don’t you just love her name?!) She invited me to her hotel room to demonstrate how to make beet kvaas. I drink it regularly but had never made it before. We hardly entered the room before she had started chopping up that beet like a Samurai swordsman! It was something to behold. My mind was blown. And then my heart was touched when she gave me garlic that she had grown from her very own garden. The conference was just kicking off and I’d already gotten a private kvaas demo and some swag!

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On day two, I connected with Hannah Crum, the Kombucha Mama. She told me that earlier that morning, she had gone for a walk down by the river. From a distance, she spotted some random guy who was barefoot and bare-chested (a rare sight in the month of November); he was walking along playing some flute-like instrument. Curious, she walked closer…and then it dawned on her. This was not just some random guy. It was fitness guru Ben Greenfield, a fellow speaker at the Wise Traditions conference!

We laughed, partially because it was so unexpected for her to encounter Ben like that, but also because the conference was just overflowing with these kinds of surprising moments. The Weston A. Price Foundation brings together all sorts of creative, intelligent, interesting people—each committed to finding good health through natural and alternative means. There was genuine connection and joy at every turn. And there was also as much to be gleaned from the one-on-one connections as there was from the seminars.

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Hollywood producer Del Bigtree, of the movie “Vaxxed,” screened his movie at the conference and gave a post-screening presentation. He talked about how he got involved in the project and had been moved by the importance of the subject (the CDC's manipulation of study results) and its implications for our health and the health of our children. He had hitherto not quite realized the influence of the pharmaceutical companies on the media and consequently the public's access to critical health information. He is passionate about getting the movie wider distribution, not because he is particularly “anti-vax” but because he believes the public has the right to make informed decisions when it comes to vaccinations. Though he had been traveling around the country, he had never been among a group quite like ours. We were receptive, curious, and supportive. And we also challenged him to think about the role good nutrition could play in preserving our health.

That’s another thing I love about “Wise Traditions foodies” (as I like to call the WAPF-ers). They don’t just take in information—they process it; they ask tough questions. Many have taken their health into their own hands and are naturally skeptical of any medical theory. They take everything with a grain of (sea) salt.

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So, to me, this is what the Wise Traditions conference is about: learning, growing, laughter, food, questioning, and, yes, surprises. Count me in for next year. Actually, scratch that. Count me in for the rest of my life!

*** Hilda Labrada Gore is a health coach and fitness professional. She is the DC chapter leader for the Weston A. Price Foundation and is the Wise Traditions podcast host. Wise Traditions can be found on YouTube, iTunes, Stitcher, iHeartRadio, Google Play Music and at westonaprice.org.

THE "super" raw food: lacto-ferments

Ferments are everywhere these days! Go to any farmers market  and you will see booths selling everything from pickles to kimchi. People are starting to brew their own kombucha and pickle their carrots, turnips, and beets. Why are these foods suddenly trendy, when they have been a part of traditional diets around the globe for hundreds and thousands of years? Once again, science is backing up the wisdom of the past. There has been a shift in understanding about our bodies. Where once it was thought that the gut was sterile, science now points to it being a veritable wonderland of microbes and bacteria. Our health depends on maintaining a proper balance of intestinal flora. And lacto-fermented foods are a wonderful source of enzymes and good bacteria! This knowledge has sent people rushing back to eating fermented foods, since fermentation not only preserves the food, but also improves its nutritional content and the bio-availability of its nutrients.

Take cabbage, for example. It is a source of vitamin C. When it is fermented and turned into sauerkraut, the level of vitamin C is tenfold higher. It's been found that just 2 ounces of home-fermented sauerkraut has more probiotics than a bottle of 100-count probiotic capsules!

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This is why Sally Fallon Morell, the President of the Weston A. Price Foundation, calls lacto-ferments the SUPER raw food! Across the board, fermentation enhances the very life of the food. It pre-digests the food, in a manner of speaking, and increases vitamin levels. Anti-nutrients are neutralized or partially neutralized. Minerals are released. Ferments boost the immune system, protect against disease, and aid digestion. In sum, it is a beautiful, marvelous process that works with nature to preserve not only the food, but also our health!

For all of these reasons, including lacto-fermented foods is principle #5 of the Wise Traditions diet. Listen to Sally expound on the benefits of (and the traditions behind) these foods here, in the episode Principle #5 Lacto-fermented Foods.

Highlights include:

–    how lacto-fermented foods are nearly universal in traditional diets –    the two types of fermentation –    how sauerkraut is made –    the role of salt in the fermentation process –    how fermentation may have come about –    the wisdom of traditional cultures and the scientific reasons behind fermentation –    what specific fermented foods are enjoyed in various parts of the world –    just why Sally considers ferments “super” raw foods –    the story of one woman with IBS and how fermented food helped her –    how to tell the difference between fermented foods and those simply steeped in vinegar –    how fermentation can boost levels of vitamin C, minerals, B vitamins –    how lacto-fermented drinks are also a good source of enzymes and bacteria (and serves as an alternative to soft drinks and alcoholic beverages) –    how these foods inoculate the gut, in essence, with good bacteria needed to resist disease –    how these foods are protective against cancer –    how the fermented foods shore up the “biofilm” that lines the intestinal tract –    how to eat the right balance of fermented food –    how these foods replace enzymes lost during cooking and help with the digestion of fat

You will certainly want to begin including some of these foods in your diet, once you understand how beneficial (and delicious) they are! You may even be inspired to try your own hand at preparing them--becoming an alchemist in your own kitchen! Whatever you do, here's to relishing this SUPER raw food!

*** Hilda Labrada Gore is a health coach and the host of the Wise Traditions podcast (found on iTunes, Stitcher, iHeartRadio, Google play, and at westonaprice.org). She is also the DC chapter leader for the Weston A. Price Foundation. Get to know Hilda and her approach to health by visiting her website chispainc.com.

Turn children's health around with real food

Did you know that children's taste buds can turn around in two weeks--from craving junk food to craving real food? Just two weeks! Did you know that in two months children can experience some real progress in resolving health issues? Mandy Blume has stumbled upon these health recovery secrets for children and now she is sharing them with the world! She has written a book entitled "Real food recovery" and she has launched a nonprofit by the same name--all because of the health improvements she's seen through simple dietary changes.

In a recent interview, she laid it out plain and simple. Kids need real food. And even if they don't like it at first, if you keep offering it, they will get hungry and succumb to real food's allure. Mandy has used what she calls the "Mandy protocol" with her own children and with countless foster children (in her own home and foster homes) and she can testify to its positive effects. Is she some kind of "child whisperer?" How has she been so successful at transforming kids' diets and their health? And how can we follow her example?

It started when Mandy and her husband had their first child, who was born with health concerns that conventional medicine could not address. They soon took matters into their own hands. They overhauled their lifestyle and diet and began to see improvements (not just for the child, but for their entire family, as well)! Through this experience, Mandy realized the power of real food. She studied at California Polytechnic State University, where she received her degrees, along with cooking and nutrition credentials. But her real education came as she applied all that she learned, not only on her own family, but also on the foster children her family took in. Quickly her vision expanded to reach out to children in foster homes. Her goal? To  see real food recovery occur for the greatest number of children possible!

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It's a big task for a needy generation. One in 88 children in the U.S. has autism. One in 10 children has asthma. Eight to ten percent of children in the U.S. have learning disabilities. Foster children are particularly vulnerable to physical, emotional, and mental health concerns. Can real food address these real issues? Mandy’s answer is a resounding YES! Listen to "Real food changes lives" and be inspired by her vision and her practical tips on dietary changes.

The half-hour interview highlights:

  • how Mandy used real food to flip her families’ and foster kids’ health
  • how Mandy and her husband began taking in foster kids
  • just how many children are currently in the U.S. foster care system
  • how little time it takes to change taste buds to crave real food
  • the power of perseverance
  • Mandy’s tips for helping children approach food differently
  • the health and trust issues of foster children
  • what happens when foster kids “age out” of the system
  • how their first foster child battled cancer
  • the catalyst for her nonprofit, her new book, and more

At the very least, Mandy's story will make you want to get real with your own diet, replacing “faux foods” with the real deal. And at best, she will motivate you to take steps to help the vulnerable children in your own town, who are also hungry for real food and real love.

*** Hilda Labrada Gore is a health coach and the host of the Wise Traditions podcast (found on iTunes, Stitcher, iHeartRadio and at westonaprice.org). She is also the DC chapter leader for the Weston A. Price Foundation. Get to know Hilda and her approach to health by visiting her website chispainc.com.

What the heck is ghee? (And why you should try it.)

A friend of mine eats ghee with every meal. I used to feel sorry for her, considering ghee to be nothing more than a poor substitute for butter. I knew next to nothing about it, truth be told, but was somehow under the impression that she had been simply swept up in some new foodie trend. Little did I know that ghee is simply the fat part of butter (i.e., clarified butter) and that it has been made and consumed for thousands of years, particularly in India and Asia! Its health benefits are well-documented in ancient Sanskrit textbooks, and more and more people are rediscovering its benefits today. It is replete with vitamin A which benefits, among other things, our eyesight, and it has other properties that are rejuvenating, increase our longevity, and strength and immunity. Not only is it beneficial but it also is a vehicle, helping other nutrients get assimilated more easily into our body.

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Sandeep Agarwal is from India, where ghee is used liberally. He is an expert on the subject. His great-great-grandfather even started a ghee business in 1889. But living in the U.S., he had bought into the U.S. public health recommendations that saturated fat was to be avoided, so he shunned ghee and other fatty foods. But when his young son began to struggle with a health crisis, Sandeep began searching for an answer to resolve his health. This is when he came upon the Weston A. Price Foundation. And when he began applying the Wise Traditions principles to his family’s diet, he saw his son’s health improve and that’s when he began to realize that he needed to get back to his own roots.

Today he embraces ghee…and fat…and raw milk, along with other organic, natural foods and spices. He is a graduate of David Winston’s Center for Herbal Studies’ two-year herbalist training program and one-year graduate program. He has spoken at Ayurvedic conferences in the USA and India. He is passionate about helping everyone to learn about the benefits of eating organic, healing, natural, traditional foods.

Listen to our conversation “On fat, raw milk, & ghee,” and you will learn:

  • the changes he made to his family’s diet that improved his son’s health
  • the process for making ghee
  • the benefits of ghee
  • the chemical composition of butter and of ghee, and how they compare
  • why ghee is a good choice for people with dairy sensitivities and for those on the GAPS diet
  • what the ancient texts say about raw milk and other healing practices
  • about Ayurveda, the ancient Indian healing science which is 5000 years old and about its textbooks (written in Sanskrit)
  • the concept of ojaf (immunity) in ayurvedic tradition
  • how and why he and his wife started their PureIndianFoods business
  • how ghee is a top food recommended for immunity-boosting
  • why he believes ghee is growing in popularity as a “fat of choice”

If none of this convinces you to try ghee, you just need to give your tastebuds the treat! I’ve bought this huge tub and started cooking with it like there’s no tomorrow. (But, of course, there will be a tomorrow, thanks to ghee’s longevity-enhancing properties.)

*** Hilda Labrada Gore is a health coach and the host of the Wise Traditions podcast (found on iTunes, Stitcher, iHeartRadio and at westonaprice.org). She is also the DC chapter leader for the Weston A. Price Foundation. Get to know Hilda and her approach to health by visiting her website chispainc.com.

Can a former vegetarian still embrace vegetarian ethics?

Right off the bat, I need to tell you: I am not the former vegetarian mentioned in the title of this post. I am a meat eater, full-fledged, all in. My parents are from Mexico and Cuba, raised eating lechon asado (roast pig) and cabrito (goat). And this apple did not fall far from that tree. But I recently interviewed a former vegetarian, and when she began extolling vegetarian ethics and explaining that she still embraced them, I had an a-ha moment. I could embraced them, too! As she spoke of their convictions regarding justice, compassion, and sustainability, I was nodding my head. It was beautiful to realize that we cared deeply about the same issues.

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Here are a few specifics that I think both meat-eaters and vegetarians can rally around:

  • Factory farming is cruel and immoral. Pigs are raised in cages so small they can hardly turn around. They are often raised in windowless sheds, without fresh air, sunlight, or access to the outdoors. Chickens are raised in such crowded conditions that they begin nervously plucking their feathers out. (Rather than changing their deplorable living conditions, factory farmers simply clip their beaks!) Cows are subject to just as many indignities, including being forced to eat and sleep in their own excrement. All of the animals listed above are given hormones and antibiotics to promote growth and to help prevent sickness. Sentient beings should not suffer such inhumane confinement and mistreatment.
  • The deterioration of the planet is alarming. Large patches of our planet are become desert wastelands. Fertility and life are being snuffed out, replaced by exhausted land and animal extinction. Climate change is a huge problem. We must protect our natural resources and cultivate and nurture life on this earth on every level. Something has to change (and it should probably be us)!
  • No one should go hungry. Good food for all can even the playing field. Children learn better when well nourished. Behavior problems, sickness, disease and crime all decrease when there is less food insecurity. We must look for solutions so that all people, all around the globe, can obtain access to clean water and good food.

So, meat eaters, where do you stand? Can you agree with these simple, straightforward values? I certainly can. And so can Lierre Keith, the former vegetarian. Interestingly, she makes the case that one does not have to abstain from meat to address all of the above. As a matter of fact, she is convinced that a vegetarian diet jeopardizes our own health and the health of the planet.

Listen to our conversation Vegetarianism reconsidered and let me know what you conclude. Even if you disagree with Lierre's point of view, I hope you can take pleasure in the fact that, in a world that is increasingly divisive, vegetarians and meat eaters can still find some common ground.

*** Hilda Labrada Gore is a health coach and the DC chapter leader for the Weston A. Price Foundation. She is also the host of the Wise Traditions podcast, found on iTunes, Stitcher, and at westonaprice.org.

 

Nutrient density: the best way to fuel your body

I was once one of those people who needed to eat every few hours. If I didn't, I would feel suddenly weak and dizzy, as if I were an iphone whose battery precipitously dropped from 83% to 2%. Mid-workout, I would grab an energy bar to power up again. In my worst moments, I would become shaky and sweaty, like someone detoxing from alcohol. It wasn't a pretty picture. I eventually stumbled upon the term “hypoglycemia” and determined that I simply needed to eat more frequently. It never occurred to me to look closely at what exactly I was eating. What was the composition of my diet exactly and could it have been a factor in my condition? In the 1930s, Dr. Weston A. Price, a dentist and a researcher, became curious about what contributed to good health. Thankfully, he did carefully examine and compare various diets to determine the factors at play in the best diets. He looked at the nutritional content of traditional foods and compared it with the so-called modern foods of his time (those sold at shops and comprised of refined flours, sugars, etc.) He found that traditional diets had 4x the minerals and water-soluble vitamins and 10x the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, and K. The bottom line? Modern diets often were (and still are) woefully inadequate in critical nutrients.

Whether we currently have any health concerns or not, it’s clearly time to ask ourselves some important questions, starting with: what the heck are we eating?! Are we simply satisfying our hunger with whatever happens to be close to our “pie hole,” or are we looking to build our bodies in better ways? I don’t mean “build” in a muscle-building fat-burning machine way, although some may have that goal. I mean, are we giving our bodies the fuel they need to thrive? Better nutrition translates into more energy, less fatigue. There’s easier brain function/more brain power, greater ease of movement/strength to take on physical tasks. Do you want this for yourself, for your family? Who doesn't, right?!

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Sally Fallon Morell takes Dr. Price’s findings and helps us figure out how to apply them in the day-to-day. She seriously sheds light on how to get the biggest bang for your buck out of every bite. (I may be mixing metaphors here, but you get what I'm saying!) Click here to listen to episode #30 entitled “Nutrient density.” In it, Sally touches on:

- how even those who think they’re eating “healthy” may still not be getting all of the vitamins and minerals they need - the foods that offer the fat-soluble vitamins that are critical for our brain and body function (in organ meats, fish eggs, egg yolks, cheese, for example) - the symptoms of fat-soluble vitamin-deficiency (including depression and anxiety) - the dangers of a diet high in lean proteins (without sufficient fat) - the fats that are implicated in heart disease (hint: not the saturated fats) - how vitamins A, D, and K are a triumvirate: how they work together and should be in balance - why she questions the USDA’s definition of “nutrient density” (Hint: they call vegetables nutrient dense, but they count it per calorie, and many vegetables are low in calories. This means that you’d have to eat copious amounts of broccoli, for example, to get the same amount of vitamins or minerals you’d get from a spoonful of liver.) - how Dr. Price, through improved nutrition, improved the health and behavior of  some orphans - how to tweak your diet to improve not only your physical health but your mental health; how to increase optimism - the one simple thing you can do to make a noticeable difference in your health, even if you do nothing else

I'm convinced that nutrient density (principle #3) is key to wellness. (For the entire list of "characteristics of traditional diets" click here.) I've been tweaking my diet over the years to align with the Wise Traditions diet and guess what?! All symptoms of hypoglycemia have resolved. Better still, I have no serious health concerns. I have sustained energy for the physical and mental tasks I want to complete. My body and mind feel strong and good.

What about you? Are you willing to try some of the foods rich in fat-soluble vitamins? What can you add to your diet to help your body thrive? Please comment below if you take even one small step in the nutrient-dense direction. I'm eager to hear what difference it makes for you!

*** Hilda Labrada Gore is a health coach and the host of the Wise Traditions podcast (found on iTunes, Stitcher and at westonaprice.org). She is also the DC chapter leader for the Weston A. Price Foundation.

The Biggest Loser...but in real life!

On the t.v. show "The Biggest Loser," people lose drastic amounts of weight in dramatic fashion, only to gain it back when they are off the air and the cameras are gone. Dramatic is the right word for it. It is a t.v. show, made to entertain. Those who produce it are interested in ratings, certainly not in the health of the participants. They "help" them lose weight, all right, but in all the wrong ways for all of the wrong reasons. But contestants sign up to be on the show, nonetheless, grasping at the slim hope that they might become slim, in actuality. It's easy to understand their desperation. Richard Morris could certainly relate. For him, walking to work was akin to hiking Mount Everest. He would huff and puff and sweat up a storm and it was only a few blocks away from his place in New York City! He was in terrible shape. No surprise. The man weighed over 400 lbs. Dieting? Hed been there, done that....in his own words, "a million and one" times. The only thing they were good for was packing on the pounds (after some initial unsustainable weight loss).

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Richard was pre-diabetic and struggling with asthma and high blood pressure. Every day he woke up asking himself, "Is today the day I die?"

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This is Richard today. Yes, as you can ascertain, he has undergone a complete transformation! He is in excellent shape, as are his wife and two daughters. He works a job and runs a family farm. And in his spare time, he runs spartan races!

Be inspired by his story in this half-hour episode entitled A life unburdened.

What You’ll Learn

  • How Richard gained so much weight in the first place
  • The role his family's poverty played in their food choices when he was growing up
  • What diets he tried and why they failed him
  • Richard's a-ha moment that led him to leave dieting behind
  • What first steps he took to rid his home of processed foods
  • What foods they bought (and where they bought them) as they switched to eating real food
  • What happened when he flirted (briefly) with the idea of eating the old way
  • How the Weston A. Price Foundation resources played a part in his transformation
  • The role of cooking in his life
  • How his daughter's early puberty was reversed through real food
  •  How he got into obstacle course racing

Links & Resources

About Richard Morris

Richard Morris worked in IT, but now lives a life that is drastically different. Richard lives in Virginia, running his farm, running spartan races and running in the human race, in brave and new ways!

If you enjoy the podcast episode, please share it on FB or Twitter. And leave Wise Traditions a review on iTunes which gives important stories like Richard's a broader platform!

The reckless gardener

My friend is a crazy amateur gardener. I call her crazy because she just plants things and hopes they grow. We're talking no prep, no plan, no fuss, no muss. Sound weird? Let me explain. A couple of springs ago, Jessica and her boyfriend worked hard to have the perfect garden. They designed an elaborate grid to plant their seeds. (He's in the military so he's all about plans. I imagine, once sprouted, he fully expected all of the veggies to stand at attention when he walks by. But I digress.) Let's just say that Jessica and her boyfriend were as ready as they could possibly be for this undertaking. They were super pleased with their plans. The day came and they executed everything to perfection...only to have all their efforts go to waste because of a spring rain the next day. It washed everything away (on to a neighboring plot in their community garden). You can imagine how frustrated they were at this turn of events. So the following spring, Jessica decided to take things into her own less-organized and less-militaristic hands. Jessica's boyfriend was away (he's in the military, as I said) so, unsupervised, Jessica showed her true stripes. In a fit of reckless and random abandon, she scattered her seeds without any grid or forethought.

At first I thought this was very strange until a friend told me recently that a lazy gardener is the best gardener! Jessica's philosophy is in keeping with a whole no-till movement! Who knew? And believe it or not, it is working. Many summers and falls, I have reaped the benefit of J.'s random gardening method: enjoying copious amounts of lettuce, tomatoes, carrots, and more.

Whatever you think of her gardening style, Jessica is to be admired for her grit. She would never call herself a gardener. She's the first to admit she didn't know the first thing about gardening, actually, but she didn't let fear of the unfamiliar or failure in the past hold her back. She dove in, muddy feet first.

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My daughter dove into gardening at UVA. She, too, didn't know much about it, but by her fourth year, she ended up being a leader for the community garden they had on grounds.

Another friend of mine, Celeste Longacre (gotta love her name), has been gardening/preserving/canning/freezing veggies for over 35 years. Listen for her approach on gardening in my podcast episode entitled (appropriately) "In the garden."

These three are all my heroes! Personally I'm still growing as a gardener. (See what I did there?) Do you garden? Are you a planner (like Jessica's boyfriend) or are you more the reckless sort (like Jessica herself)?  Tell me in the comments below!

Everybody wants to go to heaven but nobody wants to die

  This truism applies to our relationship with food and health, as well. Everybody wants to be healthy, but nobody wants to change what they're eating. So, yes, it's true: people want to have their cake and eat it too.

I get it. Habits are hard to break. Certain treats feel like rewards after a long week at the office or at home! But everything worthwhile requires some effort and sacrifice. I see the same students in my Body & Soul exercise classes week after week. They could be doing anything else: sleeping in, gardening, taking care of errands, you name it. But they show up time and again, sacrificing other things to commit themselves to movement.  And their bodies are the better for it.

Maybe it seems easier with exercise because everyone knows it is good for you. There is agreement. But with food, how do you decide which diet is best?

Here's something most every diet agrees on (at least those that are not trying to sell you special powders or products).  Ultra-processed foods are to be avoided. What do I mean by ultra-processed? These are foods that are de-natured and refined, foods whose nutritional content has been stripped or changed so that it no longer nourishes us as it would have in its original form. Just this past week, the University of Sao Paolo and Tufts University released a study that indicated that 50% of the American diet is made up of such foods. And these processed foods make up 90% of the sugar intake of Americans. No wonder we are sick and tired!

Some people call this "clean eating" because you are getting away from the junk that is sold as food. To step away from these processed foods, we've got to shop the perimeter of the supermarket. Let's fill our carts with food without labels. We can find this kind of food at farmer's markets, too. Or we can get farm deliveries or join a buying club. Maybe it's time to garden. For our health, though, we must begin to do whatever we can to avoid these overly manipulated foods and oils with extra additives, preservatives, colorings, flavorings, and sugar.

It will take effort, so in a sense it may feel like you are dying at first. But soon you will reap the reward of "health heaven." Trust me. Heaven is for real.

P.S. If you're ready to take the plunge but need more inspiration and how-to's, listen to this podcast episode "No refined or denatured foods" with Sally Fallon Morell, the head of the Weston A. Price Foundation.

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Dieting is like dating bad boys

“Every diet that has been marketed to us since the beginning is just the same nasty betraying boyfriend with a different face. And when it fails, the boyfriend (a/k/a diet) looks at you and says ‘Oh, it’s your fault. There’s something wrong with you!’” I have been a foodie and a health coach for years, but this is the first time I have ever heard anyone liken dieting to dating bad boys. Adrienne Hew is like that, though. She is a nutritionist who speaks her mind and what comes out is often outlandish and provocative. Not surprisingly, she is known as the “nutrition heretic.” She is not a bespectacled preach-y uptight kind of nutritionist who wags her finger at you when you eat a morsel of some forbidden food. Nope, Adrienne is the exact opposite. She has an easy laugh, a non-judgmental spirit, and she makes you think, rather than feel like you need to slink away.

A diet like a bad boyfriend? When that idea came up during our recent podcast discussion, it got me thinking. And the more I thought about it, the more I could see the parallels between dieting and dating.

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Stage 1: Infatuation. The flirting commences. You hear about him. You google him. Butterflies are starting to take flight. You consider the possibilities. You’re excited, enticed. This one has potential to be THE one.

Stage 2: Dating. You’re holding hands. You are willing to put up with his “quirks” in the hope that it all pan out. You are telling people about him, as you pass on the bread basket at the restaurant. You are trying to convince yourself that your fatigue has to do with work and not with the relationship wearing thin (no pun intended).

Stage 3: Going steady. Reality hits like a splash of (zero-calorie!) cold water. You’re giving it a try, but this is trying you. It’s not half as fun as it seemed at the start. You feel like you’re dying. This is the opposite of what you imagined. Straight up, it is a pain, and is very unrewarding.

Stage 4: The breakup. You hate to admit it, but the time has come. It's over. This relationship is going nowhere. It was super promising at first, but the end result was that every. single. promise. was broken and now you’re left holding the bag (of low-fat “natural” chips). You’re embarrassed that it didn’t work out and secretly wonder if it was your own fault (as he said, when he walked out the door). You’re feel like if you had only tried harder, or a bit longer, maybe things would have ended differently.

Can you identify with any of this? If so, click here to listen to A fresh take on real food. Adrienne has simple, practical ideas for checking out of diet "heartbreak hotel." It's time to have a steady, wonderful relationship with food, leaving the bad boys in the dust (under the refrigerator).

Raw milk is rawesome! (See if you agree, as I make my case!)

By now, you've heard of the growing interest in raw milk. Or maybe you haven’t. You may be perfectly happy with milk from the store. And when you hear a comment or report on the radio, you dismiss it out of hand. Turn the page. Turn off the radio. Who are the nut jobs who are into that stuff? Haven’t they heard of the outbreaks of sickness and deaths in the U.S. that led to the pasteurization of milk? Don't raw milk proponents know that raw milk is dangerous and full of bacteria? IMG_5835

On behalf of all the nut jobs out there, let me answer these questions. The answers are: yes and no. Yes, we know when and why pasteurization began, and no, we’re not worried. We know that raw milk is full of bacteria, but we believe that a lot of that bacteria is good for us, in the same way that bacteria in yogurt and other “super foods” is good for us. We don't believe raw milk is any more dangerous than other real foods.

Let me address this last concern first. In 2013, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicated that nearly half of foodborne illnesses in the U.S. from 1998 to 2008 were linked to fruits, nuts, leafy greens, and other vegetables. People are not steering clear of these foods today. My point? Any food can be mishandled and become a carrier of pathogens (bad bacteria). Rather than being afraid of food, we need to look to find ways to make sure we get it from the safest, cleanest source.

In fact, this is why pasteurization was applied to milk in the first place. There was an interest in making our milk “safe” or "safer." People were becoming sick because they were drinking milk from cows kept in poor sanitary conditions. But rather than changing the conditions of the cows, the idea was to pasteurize (or heat up) the milk to eliminate the pathogens. Unbeknownst to us, pasteurization changed the milk drastically--from a living product to a dead one. Pasteurization killed the bad bacteria, indeed. But it also got rid of the good stuff at the same time. It resulted in a product with a good long shelf life, but that wasn't good for our lives. Despite ads to the contrary, this milk doesn't do a body good.

In contrast, raw milk, from healthy cows in good conditions, is an amazing healthy food, teaming with good bacteria (and pathogen-fighting bacteria that “kills” any bad guys that crop up). Even the Mayo clinic in the 1930s had a program for using milk to kill a variety of ills, called "the milk cure." Yes, doctors once considered raw milk good and healing, when produced in sanitary conditions.

I equate milk pasteurization with meat irradiation. In 2000, the USDA passed a regulation allowing for meat to be irradiated to avoid spoilage and to keep it "safer" for consumers. Why wasn't it safe from the get-go? Unsanitary slaughterhouse practices were causing feces (and bad bacteria) to splash onto the meat. Rather than correcting the problem at its root (the slaughterhouse), they opted to blast our beef and poultry with radiation.

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Personally, I trust whole, real foods, more than I trust what others tell me is best. And I also listen to others' experience. More and more people struggle with digesting "safe" pasteurized dairy products. While those drinking raw milk and eating raw cheeses are finding healing.

Listen to this week's podcast episode with Charlotte Smith for one example. (Click here or go to Stitcher or westonaprice.org.) As a young mom, she was looking for a cure for her children's eczema. She came upon raw milk and became so convinced of its beneficial impact that she started a micro dairy (three cows only). I have to say, hers is a very mooooving story! (I couldn't resist the pun!)

You may find yourself completely unswayed by the above. Rawesome. I urge you to keep your eyes and ears open. Apply your own skills of observation to the situation (and to your own body, should you decide to try it out). I am eager to hear what you conclude!