Six ordinary foods that are extra-ordinary
Many foods that you probably already have in your kitchen have fantastic health-enhancing qualities. Hidden inside the standard American diet of (toxic) processed foods are gems of natural medicine that you'd never suspect are really health foods.
I've compiled a short list of half a dozen powerful health-enhancing foods that you would never guess are actually health foods. They are delicious, widely available, and you should use them regularly.
Coleslaw is made with one of the most powerful natural medicines in your kitchen: raw cabbage.
For thousands of years, cabbage has been used as a medicine. It is rich in anti-cancer nutrients that can help prevent (or even reverse) many types of cancer. Raw cabbage juice is one of the most gentle and soothing known drinks for digestive problems - IBS, stomach ulcers, inflammation of the digestive tract and indigestion.
It's best to make your coleslaw yourself. If you buy it, try to avoid the processed ingredients often used in cheaper coleslaw recipes such as mayonnaise made with sugar (especially high-fructose corn syrup) and canola oil.
Here's a coleslaw recipe that makes four serves:
1/2 of a green cabbage (about 500g or 1 lb), finely shredded
1 large carrot, grated
1/2 small onion, finely chopped
3 spring onions, thinly sliced
2 celery stalks, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/2 cup home-made or good-quality mayonnaise
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
salt and freshly ground black pepper
Toss all the vegetables together in a large bowl. Whisk in the remaining ingredients, and add salt and pepper to taste.
How to cook cabbage
Cabbage is delicious when cooked properly. The trick is to shred it finely, and steam until just tender. Overcooked cabbage is awful.
Discard the outer leaves, and chop the cabbage finely or put it through a food processor with a fine slicing disk. Rinse it in filtered water and then steam (or boil in shallow water while stirring occasionally).
Drain off the water and serve with a pinch of sea salt, freshly ground black pepper, and a generous dollop of butter.
How to ferment cabbage (sauerkraut)
Cabbage leaves have plenty of lactic acid bacteria on their surface. Other vegetables also introduce lactic bacteria, but not as much. Fermenting the leaves of cabbage breaks down some of the harmful ingredients they contain, and greatly enhances its digestibility.
Sauerkraut details and recipe.
Spices - Cinnamon, cloves, rosemary, ginger, turmeric, mustard (and many others)
Most of the pungent cooking spices are also powerful medicines.
Cinnamon has strong antimicrobial activity, helping to control bacteria and fungi (useful for candida). It slows the rate at which the stomach empties after meals, reducing the rise in blood glucose after eating. It can also significantly help people with type 2 diabetes improve their ability to respond to insulin, thus normalizing their blood sugar levels. Cinnamon has anti-inflammatory properties. It also helps prevent unwanted clumping of blood platelets.
Cloves are one of the richest sources of antioxidants. They are outstandingly high in manganese, and also contain magnesium, calcium, vitamins C and K, and fibre. Omega-3 is in abundance in clove as well as many phytonutrients that enhance the immune system. Cloves boost your immunity, and have anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties as well.
Rosemary is a powerful digestive tonic and internal detoxification herb.
Ginger is legendary as an immune-boosting, circulation-enhancing warming spice that's also fantastic for beating the common cold and flu. Ginger has anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and anti-microbial properties. It has been found to be beneficial in reducing platelet aggregation (atherosclerosis) which leads to coronary artery disease. Ginger even works to relieve muscle pain!
Turmeric is an amazing natural medicine. It's a powerful anti-cancer as well as an anti-inflammatory spice.
Mustard is a therapeutic food that's been valued for at least 5,000 years. Along with Brazil nuts, it is one of the few common sources of cancer-busting selenium, a trace mineral often missing from over-farmed soils. Mustard is a natural anti-fungal and antiseptic. Mustard seeds contain plentiful amounts of phytonutrients called glucosinolates, that protect against cancer. Its powerful anti-inflammatory properties reduce the severity of asthma, and decrease some of the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. Mustard helps restore normal sleep patterns in menopausal women; to reduce the frequency of migraine attacks; and to prevent heart attack in patients suffering from atherosclerosis or diabetic heart disease.
Most people don't know that beans are one of the richest sources of antioxidants. Legumes are an important part of a long-life diet. If you don't like them, or feel that they don't agree with you, it's probably because you've never had beans that were properly prepared.
Lentils are more easily digestible than beans, and don't need a long pre-soak. They don't need as much cooking either - 30 to 60 minutes is usually enough, depending on the type of lentil.
Lentils and other legumes are a great source of protein, dietary fibre, folate, vitamin B1 and minerals, particularly iron. Lentils are of special benefit in managing blood-sugar disorders because their high fibre content prevents your blood glucose level from rising rapidly after a meal. Their high fibre content also contributes to heart and arterial health. Studies of high fibre diets and blood sugar levels have shown the dramatic benefits provided by these high fibre foods.
Raisins are dried grapes, which mean that they contain all the natural medicine of grape skins. Most of the healing properties of grapes come from their skins and pips (seeds), particularly from the resveratrol content. Organic grapes have a significantly higher level of resveratrol than those that are sprayed with fungicides.
Raisins are also high in naturally-occurring antioxidants, making them a fantastic overall source of nutrition.
Warning - raisins are a great source of energy, but their high sugar content can sometimes be a problem. Avoid raisins at night if you suffer from energy surges, restless legs syndrome, or insomnia.
Raisins go well together with nuts. Happily, when combined with nuts their glycemic index is lowered, so I recommend eating raisins with things such as pecans, walnuts or some of the other nuts discussed below.
Nuts: Walnuts, pecans, brazils, almonds, peanuts
Nuts are healthy, convenient, and yummy.
Walnuts reduce the risk of heart attacks, cardiovascular disease and prostate cancer. They are high in plant Omega-3s and antioxidants. Brazil nuts are often rich in selenium. Pecans boost brain protection and help to lower cholesterol levels. Almonds may have anti-cancer properties. Even peanuts (which are not a true nut) are rich in antioxidants. Resveratrol (remember red grapes and red wine?) is present in peanuts.
Try to buy nuts that are raw, and as fresh as possible. Long periods of storage cause the delicate oils in nuts to go rancid. Avoid salted and flavoured nuts, because the flavour is almost always based on MSG.
Eat a handful of nuts a day, or add them to your breakfast cereals, or use them in the blender to make a milk or smoothie.
Firstly, I love the natural goodness of lemons. They are a natural appetiser and natural aid for digestion and weight loss, and also a natural internal body cleanser. Lemons are packed with powerful antioxidant and anti-cancer healing properties. They are rich in vitamin C, contain anti-cancer compounds, and the citric acid content of lemons helps to dissolve calcium-based deposits throughout the body, including in arteries.
In addition to giving a sour and piquant enhancement to many of your salads, cold dishes, cocktails and desserts, lemon juice has many properties that are similar to apple cider vinegar - one of the most amazing natural home remedies detailed in Grow Youthful.